Friday, March 30, 2018

What Your Pictures Have to Do With Self-Care

For one year now, I’ve been writing every #familyhistoryfriday about photos, memories, stories, family, and connections.  I’ve written about why we need them so much, and what they do for us.  

I’ve written about how stories affect {self-esteem in kids}, how they {help kids cope} with difficulty, and even how {family stories are an antidote for teenage entitlement}.  I’ve shared my own experiences about how photos, memories, and stories help {heal from grief}.  

Last fall, I included some video tutorials about photos and memories, about {photo organization}, plus {how I stay caught up} preserving my photos and memories, and {why it’s so important} to me.  These days, most of our “photos” are just digital files, so I’ve also given lots of {tips for bringing your photos to life}.

If you’re new here, welcome.  If you’ve been a reader for a while, thank you!!  Thank you!  I have a rather bold life goal to make a difference in as many lives as I can.  When you come here, read, get inspired, and then take action, you’ve helped me meet my goal.  I hope to reconnect as many people as I can to their photos and help them realize {the importance of embracing their stories}.  I want their lives to be richer because of it.
"My grandmother made me a scrapbook because I was once too young to remember; I am making scrapbooks for my family because one day I may be too old to remember."  ~unknown
I’ve been encouraging people to preserve their photos and memories for 13 years now!  In recent years, I’ve learned a lot about the scientifically-proven benefits of memory-keeping.  Lately, I’ve combined that knowledge and experience by teaching {online and in-person classes}, speaking to groups, and blogging.  

In anticipation of this one-year #familyhistoryfriday milestone, I wanted to share in a special way the distilled version of everything I’ve learned plus the tips and helps I’ve gathered.

So I wrote you a book.

I did.  This book– or booklet, really –is a short 30- or 40-minute read that is the culmination of my 13 years’ experience.  You’ll find out the WHY of family stories, photos, and recorded memories–what makes it important and worthwhile.  You will learn how photos and memories are directly related to self-care and wellness, and how they can actually make you happier!  I bust four common memory-keeping myths, too.  You’ll find out exactly why photos left in digital form are both incomplete and in danger. 

You will come away with SOLUTIONS (a very important part of anything, in my opinion) and two specific strategies that will help if you’re behind preserving photos or just overwhelmed.

And you’ll be empowered to take action.

I gave Krista, owner and CEO of Evolve, an advanced copy of the book.  She read it and said:
"Jennifer Wise has created a quick and easy-to-read resource for anyone who has a mountain of photo boxes or unprinted photos collecting on their phone or computer. This helpful guide combines scientific research with more than a decade of Jennifer’s own personal memory-keeping knowledge and strategies for how to get caught up and stay caught up preserving your treasured family memories. In addition, the process of memory-keeping just so happens to have several positive benefits both for individuals as well as entire families. Definitely worth reading!" – Krista Palo
You can also read another review of the book from Amy at Needed In the Home {right here}.

And, just for you, I’ve created an ebook version of “The Secret Ingredient to Self-Care and Wellness” that I’m giving away free.  You can read it page by page right here!

This month on my #familyhistoryfriday series, {Preserving Pictures}, you’ve seen lots of ways to do something with your photos.  Getting your pictures off your phone or camera and into your hands, telling your life story through photos and memories, makes an enormous difference, as you will read in this book.  

Whatever you do, however you do it, #dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs  We need our photos and our stories too much.

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This post was originally published at on March 30, 2018, by Jennifer Wise.  Read more #familyhistoryfriday articles by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

My Secrets to Staying Caught Up Preserving My Pictures

When I tell people I'm pretty consistently caught up on preserving my pictures, their reactions are usually a mix of surprise and jealousy.  My real goal for a reaction, though, is hope.  I want people to feel hopeful.  Not being behind on your photos (i.e. not having them gathering virtual dust on your hard drive or phone) IS DO-ABLE!  It is attainable.

Given the number of photos we take and the general {lack of time} we have, there are some tricks to learn if you want to stay caught up preserving your photos.  And you do--trust me--because {it's so good for you}, not to mention for kids and families as a whole.

The common "I'm so behind on my photos" complaint prompted me to write a series of articles for a blog I am a contributor for.  I thought, "Why not share my own tips and strategies?  Why not share exactly what I do?"  The series ran in September, and I would like to share them with you today.

You can find the links to each of my articles below.  I hope they will be helpful.  I want them to give you HOPE as well as actual TOOLS so that you can join me in the minority of people who have actual photo albums and books and pages to show instead of empty hands full of good intentions.

{How I Stay Caught Up Preserving My Pictures and Memories}
{Staying Caught Up, Part 1:  Organizing My Photos (with video)}
{Staying Caught Up, Part 2:  Using Something Addictive (with video)}
{Staying Caught Up, Part 3:  What Works For Me (with video)}
{Why I Stay Caught Up Preserving My Pictures and Memories}


Friday, March 23, 2018

Preserving Pictures Using Paper Scrapbooking

Most people think that to preserve pictures, you have to “scrapbook.”  {That’s not true}, of course, as we’ve seen in previous #familyhistoryfriday posts in our Preserving Pictures series this month.  We’ve seen {digitalscrap pages}, {paper pocket pages and kits}, and {digital storybooking}.  There are so many options that you’ll definitely be able to find something that works for YOU at this month’s series.  So what about traditional paper scrapbooking?

Did you know the first “scrapbook” was the family Bible?  Bibles quickly became family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation.  People would record births and deaths in the front cover of their Bibles as early as the mid-1400s.  According to {The History of Scrapbooking}, by the mid-1800s, publishers started including extra pages in the fronts of Bibles for people to record family births, deaths, and marriages.  It became common around this time to also add newspaper clippings and other “scraps” (like crocheted bookmarks or even locks of hair) within the pages of the family Bible.  My father-in-law found a {tintype} photo in the family Bible he inherited!

During the 1800s, photographs came into being, and printed memorabilia increased in popularity.  People would save mementos and photos in “scrap books,” a word coined in the 1800s.  Family scrapbooks grew in popularity between about 1920-1970.  At that time, scrapbooks were books of blank pages, usually black or cream-colored, ready for photos, journaling, stories, and mementos to be kept.  ScrapbookING, though, is another story.

Today’s Paper Scrapbooking

According to {The History of Scrapbooking}, Marielen Christensen first introduced today’s paper scrapbooking method of colorful, decorated pages in 1980.  She showed her collections of 3-ring binders containing her photos, memories, and mementos to The World Conference on Records, a genealogy conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Attendees loved her books!  Christensen opened the first scrapbooking store just one year later.

Rhonda Anderson, co-founder of Creative Memories and now Our Memories for Life, said her mother made decorated scrapbooks for her well before the 1980s.  Those books and the {profound influence memory-keeping has on the heart and soul} are what inspired her to share the scrapbooking message with the world.

By the 1990s, “scrapbooking” meant more than just simple mementos and photos pasted on blank pages.  It was an art form, a dedicated hobby, with monthly magazines published about it and more and more stores carrying scrapbooking supplies.  Scrapbooking also became a social phenomenon at this time, with scrapbook hobbyists meeting together for “crops” where they would work on their scrapbook pages.

You Might Love Paper Scrapbooking if…

Many people enjoy paper scrapbooking because it is creative and hands-on, and many people enjoy the social element of it, too.  Do you think it might be the right option for you to preserve your photos and memories?

I’ve found that people who prefer paper scrapbooking generally:
  • like the tactile method of putting photos and memories together
  • enjoy scrapbooking groups or “crops” for the social benefits they provide
  • like creativity and creative expression
  • have printed photos to preserve, such as inherited family photos
What I Love About Paper Scrapbooking

Full disclosure:  I haven’t really used paper scrapbooking as my main memory-keeping method for about 10 years.  (I’m a full-fledged {digital scrapbooking} addict now.  It’s how I stay caught up!)  

However, when I used paper scrapbooking, I loved it because of the social benefit–I scrapbooked with a friend while our kids played together.  Putting it on your calendar to do with someone else is not only fun but also helps your good intentions become reality!

I also love that I can use all the paper scrapbooking tools, stickers, leftover paper, etc., for greeting cards, too.  (It didn’t take me long to discover that making my own cards often took less time than standing in front of rows of greeting cards at a local store!)  I love how endless the creativity is!

And {I honestly also love the process}.  Taking the time, relaxing, organizing my life (in a way) by sitting down with photos and then displaying them in a beautiful, creative way is always so rewarding.  I realize that’s not unique to paper scrapbooking, but it’s true nonetheless.

What Are Other Options?

If paper scrapbooking doesn’t sound like your way to preserve photos and memories, don’t worry.  There are links to all the #familyhistoryfriday posts from this month where you can find digital scrap pages, easy paper scrapbooking kits, and digital storybooks {right here}.  Yearbooks are also a great use of digital storybooks, and {the yearbook method} can help you stop being overwhelmed with your photos, too!  That link even has a video to walk you right through.

You’re sure to find something that fits your needs, personality, and style at this month's #familyhistoryfriday series, Preserving Pictures.  Whatever you choose, #dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs

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This post was originally published at on March 23, 2018, by Jennifer Wise.  Read more #familyhistoryfriday posts by clicking the hashtag link below, next to Labels.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Telling and Recording Adoption Stories

Do you know someone with an adoption story to tell?  An adoptive child, an adoptive parent, and a parent who placed a child for adoption are all people with adoption stories.

There's a lovely article at {} called 5 Creative Ways to Document an Adoption Visit.  It's written for those who have placed a child for adoption and visit, but the five suggestions given could be used for anyone telling an adoption story.  And guess what!  LifeTales Books powered by Heritage Makers was mentioned in the article!  Enjoy reading 5 creative ways to record adoption stories and experiences:

There are several Heritage Makers templates to help you tell your adoption story.

For heirloom-quality books--how else would you want to preserve an adoption story?--see fantastic options here.

"You always resemble the ones who love you most."  ~Scott Hamilton, former U.S. Olympian, adopted at six weeks old

Friday, March 16, 2018

Preserving Pictures Using Digital Storybooking

If you’ve never heard of storybooking, you’re not alone.  The most common ways to preserve pictures these days –getting them out of digital form and into your hands– is through photo books or scrapbooks.  Photo books are made digitally through online companies (and even big box stores).  You usually choose from a few pre-designed styles, plug in your pictures with a caption, and you’re done.  Scrapbooks are hand-made using papers, scissors, stickers, pens, and the like.  

What, then, is digital storybooking, and how is it different from more well-known methods like photo books and scrapbooking?

This month’s #familyhistoryfriday posts showcase several different methods for preserving your photos and the stories that go with them.  Some are hands-on methods while others are digitally created.  (You can find links to all these methods at a link at the bottom of this post, too.)  Today we'll look at digital storybooking and see what it has to offer.  You might be surprised!

What Digital Storybooking Is

In the early 2000s, a {young mom named Candy May} realized that her kids didn’t know her hero, her grandfather, as much as she wanted them to, so she decided to do something about it.  About 1,000 miles separated them, and Candy had an idea to bridge the gap between the generations:  she would write her grandpa’s life story as a bedtime story for her kids. 

Candy interviewed Grandpa Wozney, asking him about his younger years and his memories of his life.  At first, Grandpa resisted a little because he didn’t think his life story was anything special.  Don’t forget this great lesson:  Every life story is special to someone else.

This little storybook, “My Great Grandpa,” became Candy’s kids’ very favorite book.  They could quote from it!  They got to know and love their mommy’s hero, their great grandpa, just because she took the time to bridge the distance between them.

And this is actually the story of Heritage Makers!  This experience would lead Candy to start the Heritage Makers business a few years later, giving others the opportunity to easily write their own family stories from their own online accounts, then have them published on the Heritage Makers printing press on heirloom-quality materials.  And so the term “digital storybooking” was coined.

By the way, that black and white picture is Candy reading her storybook to her son, Teague.  After Heritage Makers was born, she reprinted the book as shown above.

What’s the Storybooking Difference?

Aside from Heritage Makers books being printed at {much higher quality} than bargain-bin type photo books so common today, most photo books often just have a place for a caption or two.  A Heritage Makers storybook has no limits on photo or text placement, so you can really tell the whole story.  Simply writing “Cape Cod 2011” doesn’t tell the story of the picture.

Was this a special trip, or an everyday one?  Who was there?  How long did you stay?  Where did you stay?  What happened that was fun, funny, enjoyable, unique, or memorable?  Who was with you?  What did you eat?  Why did you go?  What was your favorite part?  What do you want to always remember about the trip?  Would you go again?  What’s the whole story behind the photos?  Why did you take the photos in the first place?

So digital storybooking is much more than a “photo book” because it tells a whole story.  It gives words to your experiences, memories, and life.  And it’s something you can go back to again and again!

UPDATE 2021:  Anywhere you preserve your story and your photos should be top quality.  Heritage Makers has been a great option since about 2004, and Forever has also been a great option since 2013.  Heritage Makers offers one platform (software) for creating, and Forever offers three platforms, so there are simple options as well as fully creative digital scrapbooking options.  Click here to see the differences in each one to see what would work best for YOU, both your style and available time, with the assurance that both companies keep your photos private (and do not data mine) as well as providing you with the highest quality products that will last a lifetime and beyond.

If you’re not sure what it really looks like to create a digital storybook, you can watch me doing digital scrap pages with Heritage Makers right here in this video.  Digital storybooking looks exactly like this, only your final product will be in a hardbound book (and it might be a different page size, depending on your preference).

UPDATE 2021:  Here's a walk through the 3 print platforms at Forever.  

You Might Love Digital Storybooking if…

I’ve found that digital storybooking is the preferred method of preserving pictures and memories for those who:
  • believe strongly in journaling and want the space to do it; want to tell the whole story of their photos
  • want a digital method of preserving their photos and stories
  • want multiple copies of their books without any extra work
  • are looking for a streamlined way to preserve all the photos and memories from one year in one place (yearbook)
  • need a high-quality way to showcase and remember a special event (wedding, vacation, graduation, etc.)

What I Love About Digital Storybooking

Note:  I have been using Heritage Makers digital storybooking for 13 years, and this review reflects this brand.  It may or may not (and, honestly, doesn't) apply to other digital books.

I really love digital storybooking for all the reasons in the bullet points above.  I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I personally love the {looseleaf method} of preserving my everyday photos and memories, so I use individual digital scrap pages most often.  However, I adore digital storybooking for highlighting special occasions and being able to give copies of the books as gifts.  There’s just nothing more meaningful.

Pretty much THE MINUTE my mom was diagnosed with the disease that would take her life, she said, “I want to go to the coast.”  We arranged a family trip to her Happy Place, the Oregon Coast.  I take a lot of pictures anyway, but I also suspected that this would be the last time she would be well enough to make this trip.  (Unfortunately, I was right.)  I documented as many moments of that short trip as I could and made a really lovely digital storybook, recording all the details of our time together.  It was how I could give my mom Oregon.  She had those memories and those gorgeous photos to go back to as her health declined.  And we still have a beautiful, meaningful keepsake of those moments.

And, truth be told, this is why I can’t say enough about why I love digital storybooking.  It’s one of the most valuable tools I have for my family.  It’s so much more than a “photo book”–I can tell the whole story, record all the memories we make.

If digital storybooking is the perfect fit for you, there are a couple of options.  You can {get started here}. 

What Are Other Options?

If digital storybooking doesn’t sound like your way to preserve photos and memories, don’t worry.  I have two more options coming this month!  You’re bound to find a favorite, doable method here on #familyhistoryfriday posts this month!  Whatever you do, #dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs

UPDATE:  Links to all five posts in this series can be found here: {Think Outside the Scrapbooking Box}.

Do you know someone who would love digital storybooking?  
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This post was originally published at on March 16, 2018, by Jennifer Wise.  Find more #familyhistoryfriday posts by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dare to Find Your VOICE through the Power of Story

Stories are who we are.  We all have empowering stories, whether we see them or not.  Our stories are something we can stand on to become who we want to be.  Telling--especially writing--our own stories has tremendous power because knowing stories creates connections.  You can even get to {know yourself} better!

{Cary Mac Arthur} says, "Feeling is the secret.  If I want to feel empowered, going to a moment from my past or from my story brings the feeling back.  Then I can move forward. ...  That's what writing our story and having a picture does for us."

I was recently asked to be a guest on the Dare to Find Your Voice podcast with Cary Mac Arthur. Cary is an expert in teaching people how to discover their own voices.   She asked me to talk about the importance of finding your story, writing your story, and sharing your story.  We talked about how cathartic and powerful it is to go through your pictures and tell the story of your life experiences.

Are you ready to write your story?  You'll love the connections, sense of purpose, and even the therapeutic benefits that come from the simple act of organizing your life's experience and writing it down.  {This blog post} gives you some great resources for telling your story, and {this link} gives you some high-quality possibilities for publishing your story.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Secret Ingredient to Self-Care and Wellness

In a couple of weeks, I will arrive at my 13-year anniversary of being a memory-keeping consultant and storybooking coach.  Looking back on my journey, I'm surprised at how my passion about connections through photos and memories and stories has grown and intensified over the years--only because I didn't think it could be any stronger.  Memory-keeping is so much more powerful than most people realize, and people who sit on their photos and don't record their memories miss out on so much!

This inspired me to write a little book!  (And I do mean "little."  It's probably a 40-minute read.)  This book just poured out of me.  I think it's been waiting to be written for a while!

The words "wellness" and "self-care" are hot topics these days.  You can find pins on Pinterest and blog posts all over the internet about various kinds of diet and exercise.  There's clean eating, keto diets, spinning classes, and zumba.  We are inundated with information about the latest trends in taking care of our bodies and minds.

What about the heart and soul?

This short book (a "booklet," really) reveals what is missing in self-care and wellness and why it matters.  More importantly, there are chapters addressing solutions and myths, as well as two PLANS on how to make this important secret ingredient a part of your life and habits for real change!

The best part is that this secret ingredient isn't anything you don't already have!  The key is just making a few changes so you can actually benefit from it!  As I said in the book, "I don't want to be the squeaky wheel; I want to be the grease."  There's no point in talking in theory if it can't be made into action.

Not only is this secret ingredient something you already have, but what's almost magical about it is that is actually benefits you while at the same time benefiting your loved ones.  You can't really say that about many self-care strategies.

UPDATE:  Here's the ebook version of  "The Secret Ingredient to Self-Care and Wellness"!!

ebook The Secret Ingredient by JWiseHeritageMakers

If you are looking for greater wellness in your life, you need this short read with great potential. 

PLUS I AM GIVING AWAY THREE COPIES!  All you need to do in order to win one is be one of the first three people to:
  1. Pin this post to Pinterest and/or share on Facebook.
  2. Leave a comment below about the current state of your photos and memories and what you hope to gain from this book.
  3. E-mail me your mailing address so I can get this book on its way to you.
UPDATE:  ALL THE GIVEAWAY COPIES ARE GONE.  Check out the ebook version above or in the sidebar.


Friday, March 2, 2018

#friyay Night Lights

It's the first Friday of the month, so that means it's time to shine a light on what people are saying about Heritage Makers!  This month's #friyay is from Marcie.  We connected online several years ago and clicked right away.  She is a busy mom of 5 and is always thinking about how to make connections between generations.  Her passion is helping the elderly tell and record their life stories.  My goal is to someday meet my friend Marcie.  :)

Preserving Pictures Using Digital Scrap Pages

One big myth about pictures is that “scrapbooking” is required for preserving them.  (Spoiler:  it's not.)  This month on #familyhistoryfriday, we’ll focus on various ways to preserve photos.  Because guess what.  Your life story told through {your pictures and memories has tremendous (research-proven) benefits}, including mental health wellness and family connections!  Each Friday this month we will look at a new way of preserving photos, so there’s bound to be something that works for you!

There are several ways to preserve pictures and memories, and I always tell people to use what works for THEM.  Ignore trends and what’s currently popular and do what works for you.  If you don’t love it, you won’t do it. 

We'll start off this Preserving Pictures 5-week series by this week looking at my personal favorite way of preserving photos:  digital scrap pages.  I’ve been using them for almost 10 years now, and I’ve used the same company the entire 10 years because there’s nothing else like it out there.  So without further ado, let’s look at preserving pictures using digital scrap pages.

You Might Love Digital Scrap Pages If…

I’ve found that digital scrap pages are preferred by:
  • people who like a loose-leaf album so they can include kids’ artwork, class pictures, ticket stubs, etc.
  • people who are transitioning out of paper scrapbooking since they can create digital pages quickly while using up their stash of scrapbooking paper, stickers, etc.
  • burned-out scrapbookers–those who want to preserve their memories and photos but either don’t have time or are just plain tired.  (You can read {my open letter to beloved burned-out scrapbookers here}.)
If any of those sound like you, you should give digital scrap pages a try.

If you’re not sure what creating digital scrap pages would look like, you can actually watch me do it right here:

UPDATE 2021:  I now have two favorite companies for digital scrapbooking!  See which one fits your needs best by comparing at that link.  I also have a whole video series about my new favorite digital scrapbooking software, Artisan!  See them all at this link.

What I Love About Digital Scrap Pages

Note:  I use digital scrap pages from Heritage Makers, so what I love about them may or may not apply to other types of digital scrapbooking.

I adore the copy feature!  I can copy whole pages with the click of a button.  That means rather than re-building each page of a Disneyland trip, I make it once, click “copy” 16 times, and then add pictures to each page.  It also means I can make copies of pages and adjust them for individual kids.  It makes my memory-keeping go fast!

So I am a looseleaf-style gal.  It means I have to buy binders and page protectors and such, but I am a saver of plane tickets and movie tickets and valentines.  I love having the whole story, so to speak.  Old things are extra special when you look back at them, so I think it will be neat in 20 years to look back and find that a movie ticket “only” cost $10 in 2018. ha ha

I love that everything is self-contained.  I don’t have to download a program or digital art or anything to my computer.  If my computer crashes, all my photos, projects, and the digital art are still in my online account.  I can use any computer to access them.

Heritage Makers scrap pages are available in 12x12, 8.5x11, and 8x8 with double-sided options, too.

If digital scrap pages sound like your thing, you can follow the directions in the video above to get started, or {the steps here}.

What Are Other Options for Preserving Pictures?

If digital scrapbooking doesn’t sound like your way to preserve photos and memories, don’t worry.  I’ll share more options all month long!  On #familyhistoryfriday.  Whatever you choose, #dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs!

UPDATE:  Links to all five posts in this series can be found here: {Think Outside the Scrapbooking Box}.

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This post was originally published at on March 2, 2018, by Jennifer Wise.  More #familyhistoryfriday posts can be found below by clicking the hashtag next to Labels.