good life by autumn nguyen
Part of cultivating a good life is establishing a habit of being grateful through scrapbooking.
The poem above is inspired by the great author, George Ella Lyon. Autumn’s version of “Where I’m From” can be found here.
I came across the photo above nine years ago while I was visiting relatives in Vietnam. I refer to this as “The Lone Photo” because it’s my only childhood photo from birth to age seven. As a lover of photography, I wanted to take it home – in its raw and decaying form – and preserve it. But it wasn’t mine to take – my parents sent it to friends of theirs while we were at the refugee camps to let them know that we were safe. So the next best thing to do was take a picture of the picture and write about it. The image was taken during a turbulent time in my life, yet it conjures up so many things I’m grateful for — our survival, the birth of my brother, my father’s sheer strength and determination, my mother’s love (right down to the handmade dresses that we’re wearing), and the fact that we are all together.
I have had a long love affair with photos which spurred my interest in scrapbooking. I first discovered scrapbooking when I was in college. I came across Creating Keepsakes magazine while working at a newsstand in Davis, CA, bought myself a copy, and kept it tucked away. I wasn’t ready to do any real scrapbooking at the time, but I started collecting bits and pieces of stuff for when I was ready.
My obsession for memory keeping unfolded with my first real job. I did not have the best camera or the best photography skills, but I saw scrapbooking as a way to remind myself that life is good. In my early years of teaching, I used scrapbooking to remind me of why I entered into the profession in the first place. Creating layouts that highlighted the successes in the classroom provided me with the much needed fuel to carry on. It cemented gleaming moments of teaching in my brain so I was able to get through rough patches (and believe me, there were plenty). Creating pages allowed me the opportunity to reflect, grow, and learn personally and professionally.
Scrapbooking is an outlet to relieve the stressors of life. Through challenging times, my photos and words remind me that things — no matter how tough they may seem at the time — always have a way of working out. Always. Scrapbooking helps me establish a positive outlook on life, reminds me to slow down, and most importantly, to be grateful.
Scrapbooking isn’t just a hobby for me. It has become a way of life and helps me establish a habit of being grateful.
I now have a family and an adorable four-year-old son. He’s smart, funny, silly, happy, and inquisitive. Being a mother is one of the toughest jobs I’ve ever encountered, but I am thankful to have this incredibly rewarding job that is like no other on the planet. These days, I continue to document our journey through the Project Life memory-keeping system. I tell stories of the good and the not-so-good times – and I am appreciative of all that I have and experience. When times are emotionally, mentally, and/or physically draining, I pick out an album, settle into the comfort of my couch, and flip through the book for little pockets of sunshine.
Central to all of my work and indeed to who I am now is “The Lone Photo” pictured above. I was a daughter and a sister then. I have since grown to be a mother, wife, teacher, photographer, and memory keeper. I have traveled miles, physically and mentally. Happily, I have a record of my life to share with those who came with me and those who come after me.
With that said, I’ll carry on — continuing to take photos, to document my story, and to be grateful for this life.
Note from Becky
Autumn simply nailed it on the head. We all have our personal reasons why scrapbooking means something to us. We all have our own reasons why we got started in the first place or why we’re exploring it right now. Autumn’s words likely struck you some way because you might find yourself relating to something she shared. We’re all in this thing called life — together. I echo her feelings about how scrapbooking and the act of preserving memories holds so much value.
We adore Autumn! She caught our attention a while ago because of her Instagram sharing, and it wasn’t long after that she became a part of our Creative Team. She’s forever a part of our Project Life family and she continues to be one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram because of her photography and story-telling style and because of her fantastic personality.