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My 5 Year Journal: The Project Life Edition

The first time I did digital scrapbooking was back in the late 2000s. I never did physical scrapbooking, but the digital appealed to me and my general digital lifestyle. I fell out of it after a few years however and was excited to learn about Project Life (PL) at the beginning of the month for I knew right away it was exactly what I needed to get back on the bandwagon.

The appeal of Project Life for me is 1) the mobile app – so much more convenient than using a desktop program and 2) as Project Life’s creator, Becky Higgins says, “simple equals done” and this app truly does make it simple.

So, I’ve been a busy scrapper these past few weeks and even have already done the 1st quarter of a family journal for 2017. Then, as I continued to read about the different ways people scrap, I decided I wanted to do more; I decided I wanted to do a 5-year journal in scrapbook form. This post is to describe my thinking & workflow process in case others find it helpful.

What is a 5-year journal? Earlier this year, I purchased my name 13-year-old daughter a 5-year journal, where the concept was to write a few lines each day of the year in response to a given prompt. The journal is arranged such that each page shows the prompt for a given day, and the page has space for all five years. Thus, on any given day, you can see how your answers vary over five years. Some example 5-year journals are available on Amazon.

excerpt of “One Question a Day: A Five-Year Journal: A Personal Time Capsule of Questions and Answers” by Aimee Chase.

I thought this was clever! My daughter, not so much. So I took the book back thinking I would do it instead. Except, I never started. Until now 🙂

The Plan. Now that I’d made the decision, I next needed to figure out a plan. This involved several steps.


Layout – I decided I wanted to have an answer and a picture each day so I then needed to figure out what layout to use. I knew I wanted space to be able to have the day of the year, space for the prompt, and space for five entries of both an answer and a year. I wanted each scrapbook page to hold all five years. This means my scrapbook will have at least 365 pages. To hold them all, I’ll need to have more than 180 page protectors. Yikes! That’s 3+ binders full of pages, and I do plan to print my pages out – oh my! Choosing a design layout was tricky and I tested several different ones, but ultimately, I found one I like – Design F.

Project Life – Design F

Questions – I may use some of the questions from the book, but I can be pretty picky about what questions I want. So, I have been looking around online at different suggestions. I found this blog series from Tami Taylor on the Get It Scrapped blog and will probably use many of them. Most importantly for me is that I choose questions that pique my interest and where my answers are likely to vary from year to year. That will give the scrapbook some nice variety! With a quick Google search, you can find many, many question options for journaling questions.

Images – when I have an image from my personal collection, I’ll use it. If not, I’ll grab an image from somewhere off the internet to use. In all transparency, I will do a page for the scrapbook that indicates which days use my own images that way years down the line, my family will know those that were indeed mine.

Scrapbook platform – so far, I’ve only been using the app to do the other scrapbook projects I’ve already started, but this one is massive – over 350 pages! This would be far too many pages to keep in the Project Life on an ongoing basis while I wait for the 5 years to pass and do my annual updates. So, after finishing each page I will export the page as. 12×12 image, and also save an editable version of the page. I usually use Google Drive for my cloud storage, but I learned that DropBox must be the cloud storage platform in order to bring those pages back into the PL app when it is time to update the page each year. In the iOS version of the app, it is possible to import an editable page from Google Drive so I hope this can be done for the Android app in the future.


With these components figured out, I’m ready to roll and have started!
Here is my template for my November prompts; I decided to start my journal on Thanksgiving Day this year. I’m using the Adventure Edition kit right now and will change the page design for each month for variety. Below are two examples of my pages. You will see I have a journaling card for each of the 5 years to be covered, and for the 4 years I’ve not journaled yet I just put a placeholder card. My title box is 25pt. I’m using Raleway font throughout the entire book. I’m not going to worry about the font being the same size each year – whatever I end up writing is what I end up writing.

After I do my journaling, I’ll export the page in an editable format, save, and then delete from the app. Next year, I’ll add journal the questions again and add new pictures (hopefully the Android version will have this feature). At the end of 5 years, I’ll have a wonderful personal time capsule of my life during this time frame – isn’t that exciting!

A Man Said to the Universe

When I was in the 11th grade, I read a poem in my English class that has always stayed with me – Stephen Crane’s “A Man Said the Universe.”  The poem has stayed with me because of its simplicity in stressing how there is more to the world than us and we are only a small part of what happens in this world.

Today, I was able to experience the total solar eclipse here in Nashville and that experience was the perfect manifestation of the poem for me!  The phenomenon of what happened with the interplay between the moon and the sun gives such an incredible appreciation for nature and the universe.

Kaleya and I went to Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage to view it with friends and it was amazing! I did not get good pictures, but viewing the corona was so cool, I saw Baily beads, and the diamond ring as the moon receded was spectacular!

Before the day, I learned of a coloring page for the eclipse from Skip to My Lou.  I totally got my inner child on and colored it to document the experience. I don’t color often, but it was fun to do to pass time as we waited.

Had such a great time! Now I’m ready to plan my travel for the next one in 2024; I’m not as fortunate to have it happen in the city where I live 🙂

Could I Be Any Happier?!!!

This weekend, we went to Lexington ComicCon and I could not have been happier? Why? Becuase I was able to meet Lee Majors and get his signature! This was exciting for me because my name came from an episode of the Six Million Dollar Man.  In the episode “Taneha” he chased a wild cougar (the namesake) and my mother saw this episode shortly before I was born. She like the name, and chose it for me (though misremembering the exact spelling). I was able to tell Lee about my story and he told me I had a nice name 🙂 total fangirl moment! This is one picture that I am definitely printing out!

In addition to this, Kaleya was able to meet the author of My Little Pony (MLP), Christina Rice. Kaleya is a big fan of MLP.  I’ve watched several episodes with her and find it absolutely charming. Kaleya told me I’m like the pony Twilight because Twilight likes to read, does family history, is organized, and loves the color purple. Check, check, check, and check!  Christina is a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library and was very sweet and kind to talk to. She signed an MLP book for Kaleya too.

Kalonji was eager to meet Brian O’Hallaran and Marilyn Ghigliotti – stars of Kevin Smith’s movie Clerks. Kalonji loves their roles in the movie and Brian’s character Dante’s signature line “I’m not even supposed to be here today.”  They were very personable and even took a joint picture with Kalonji. My personal favorite movie of Kevin Smith’s is Dogma so I’d love to meet Kevin himself one day.

On top of this, there we so many great cosplayers! We took many pictures. We also joined friends there for the day so that made it even more enjoyable.

StayPuft and a Ghostbuster

Kalonji and Rocky Doll – a well-known cosplayer
Red Queen and the Mad Hatter
I was all about the Jack Sparrow cosplay!

We took many more pictures than I can put here so you can see them online in our photo album.  This was by far the largest comic convention we’ve been to and it was so cool! Next year, I want to dress up. I need to start working on plans now…

New Office Space

The past couple of weeks have marked a major transition for me at work. Back in April there were organizational changes at my employer and I became part of a new unit – the Center for Knowledge Management at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

As part of that restructure, on we moved into new space. And finally, 9 months later, we have finally moved! January 5th was our moving date.

Love our new spaces!

my new office
view from my window
i color-coded the keys to my cabinets 🙂
our office building

My 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

Now that the new year is off to a start, I have 2 resolutions:

  1. Up my organization game
  2. Better connect with friends and family

Resolution #1: Up My Organization Game : Over the past few years I have been increasingly working to stay better organized. Between Google Calendar, Google Docs, Evernote, setting up multiple account profiles in Chrome so that I can sync my extensions and bookmarks across devices, setting up reminders for myself, and using Google Music, I am much better organized than I used to be. But, I can do so much better I know! So, this year, I am beginning a Bullet Journal to use as a counterpart to all that I do electronically and I will also plan organize all of my family photos.

Bullet Journal – after learning about bullet journaling through some of my genealogy buddies, it seems like a good fit for some aspects about my personal organization system that I have found lacking over the past year.  I do a lot so I can use all the help I can get! 🙂 There are 4 components in particular I want to address:  1) my perpetual to-do list! While I use Evernote well as a repository, I’ve never felt I was able to get a good grasp on my to-do list. I think it is because when my list is electronic, the adage “out of sight, out of mind” is all too true for me.  2) I think it will also help my long-term planning as unlike a digital calendar, I can get a more long-term view of what I have going on, and unlike a traditional physical planner, the use of space on the page is more flexible. 3) I also have a lot of ideas that come into my head, so being able to capture them in the bullet journal should help.  4) I like the monthly tracker pages I’ve seen and I think this will be fun for tracking things that I need to do on a regular basis. Again, out of sight, out of mind in my digital tracking has been an issue for some of my activities. I’ve chosen to use Staples Arc system (junior size) as pages are insertable and the size is one that I will be able to carry with me wherever I go.

my new bullet journal

Photo Organization – For the most part, the physical pictures that I have are in one of 3 locations in our house – a set of photo albums I have, a couple of picture boxes, and a cabinet in our living room.  And… up until about 2008, I was pretty good at printing out my digital pictures. Well, not so much anymore – I’m about 8 years behind! So, my 2017 goals are to: 1) reorganize my physical pictures into a set of binders with photo sleeves (like these – but they come in different configurations) , 2) print out pictures from 2008 – present, and 3) better capture photos taken by family members that are posted to social media so that I can include them among my photos moving forward.  Last year I made some headway with beginning to better organize my personal genealogy files by creating what I call “Treasure Boxes“, so this part of my resolution is a great compliment to that. And yesterday, I ordered print photos for all of 2016 so now I’m really only 7 years behind. Ultimately, my goal for my personal mementos is to have one bookshelf that I instruct my family to keep should something ever happen to me even if they got rid of absolutely everything else of mine! 🙂

some of my photoboxes

Resolution #2: Better Connect with Friends and Family: My family and friend real life and social media network is pretty big – probably because of all the genealogy and family history I do – so I am connected to a LOT of family and great friends.  I want to do more to better connect and stay in more frequent contact.  This year, I am making it a goal to send physical birthday & other life celebration/important event cards – I just think it is a nice, friendly touch (for all the reasons mentioned here).  I also want to come up with a way to add family history touches when I send out cards, but I have not yet figured out a plan for that – will take some more thought. Maybe the card sending can be a resolution for this year, with family history touches a resolution for 2018.

Here’s to 2017!!!