Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



6×8 album inspiration by jen lake


Not many people reading this will have had brain surgery like customer Jen Lake… but we all experience our own challenges, hurdles, and journeys. So in essence, we all relate to Jen in a way. Today we’ve invited our 20-something friend to share how she has documented her unique journey using the Project Life® 6×8 system. The rest of this post is in her own words, her own photographs, her 6×8 album. Thank you Jen for inspiring us!

When I found out I would be having brain surgery, I knew it would be a journey to remember and a journey I wanted to document. While I had been documenting 2014 – including a trip to Denver for a specialist visit and my frustrations at being sick – in a 12×12 album, I wanted my surgery and recovery to stand alone in a mini album. (If I’m being honest, I had been looking for an excuse to try the 6×8 format.) My initial plans included driving across the country with Project Life supplies in tow, but at the last minute, I booked a flight and was able to take a single bag for my month away. While I thought this was a problem at first, it gave me the chance to shop for scrapbooking supplies with my mom (who is now doing her own Project Life after giving up scrapbooking years ago) and the challenge of working with fewer resources than usual. Working on my album was not only a way to document the things I said and did while away, it helped pass time and keep my spirits up while healing. Many people would choose to forget being sick and undergoing ten hours of brain and spine surgery, but this experience left me feeling blessed, loved, and cared for and that was worth remembering.

JennifeLakeAlbum-1 Before my surgery, I put out a request on Instagram for friends to send a single Project Life card to add to my album as my followers had been so supportive and needed to be included. These two cards were more special than anything I could have expected and made a great introduction to my album. JennifeLakeAlbum-2 Before leaving the hospital, my surgeon gave me a “souvenir” – a copy of the intraoperative CT scan used to check the placement of my spinal screws. I chose to include it and my hospital band in my album. JennifeLakeAlbum-3 During my time in the hospital, I used Instagram to journal. I then printed the images and copied the captions here. JennifeLakeAlbum-4 This is perhaps my favorite spread of my album. I’m not sure if it’s all the black and white, the brush script, or that it documented going home to my parents after surgery. JennifeLakeAlbum-5 I live 1,854 miles from my childhood home, my parents, and my brothers. I was extremely thankful to be able to spend nearly a month at home and documented that throughout my album. JennifeLakeAlbum-6 I also live equally far from four of my best friends. This spread captured girls night out and the chance to meet Cynthia – a sweet, new friend who had undergone the same surgery as I did (with the same surgeon!) just weeks before. JennifeLakeAlbum-7 My recovery also included four days at the beach. While the trip got a full 12×12 spread (and three inserts) in my main album, I chose to include a photo of me in my neck brace and a list of my favorite things about the trip here. JennifeLakeAlbum-8 As silly as it sounds, this spread is the hardest one to look at in my album as it documents my last lunch with my mom before flying home. The photo on the right was one that my mom took to commemorate the t-shirt I designed to fundraise for the surgery; on the back, a photo of my incision scar. JennifeLakeAlbum-9 JennifeLakeAlbum-10 As I said, I put out a request for Project Life cards from my Instagram followers, but I was blessed to receive so much more – packages, cards, envelopes full of glitter. I saved every single one in the back of my album. Three months after my surgery, this album means so much to me. I flip through it and smile at the Instagram screen caps and selfies from friends. I look over the pages from the hospital and feel thankful that I recorded days which are fuzzy to me now. I read the cards and notes from both strangers and friends all over the world. I can only imagine how special it will be to me three, five, or even ten years from now.

Connect with Jen  ::  Blog  |  Instagram  |  Twitter


32 Responses

  1. Lynn Dirk says:

    Wow, beautiful book. Very inspiring to read and glad everything turned out ok.

  2. Paula O says:

    Love this story! Your amazing! Thanks for sharing

  3. Beth says:

    What an inspiration you are Jen to have the courage and strength to do this. This is truly beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story with us xo

  4. Tricia says:

    What a great book! Thanks for sharing your story! Tricia :)

  5. Maria says:

    Wow! Love it. I wish I would’ve thought of doing this when i went through my kidney and breast cancer.

  6. Jen Kinkade says:

    Like I told Jen, this is the best album EVER! Reading her story, interacting with her on Instagram, and seeing her album gave me goosebumps!

  7. Michele says:

    Jen you’re truly an inspiration to those of us who haven’t experienced what you have. I felt as if I was there with you, emotionally connected …. beautiful album and truly creative in sharing your experience in an album for years to come. Thank you. :)

  8. Michelle Ventress says:

    This is absolutely beautiful.

  9. Tara says:

    Beautiful. I have had brain surgery, and I, too documented and journaled my way through the process. It’s been four years, but I still look through my book and the kind words written during that time. My very best wishes to you!

  10. Sarah says:

    B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L!! Thank you for sharing your story with us. You are an inspiration!

  11. Lisa says:


    Last year I had brain surgery too. I have started to use PL to remember this devastating event that somehow brings me peace to see how far I’ve come.

    I am praying for a speedy recovery, peace and good health going forward :)

  12. Olya says:

    What a brave and beautiful soul you are, Jen <3

  13. Alex says:

    I follow Jen on instagram and although I do not have Chiari, I have something called EDS which can cause Chiari. I never expected to find another PLer who has a similar illness but I love seeing her posts and being able to relate so well.

  14. kim says:

    Beautifully done! Happy healing!

  15. Teresa says:

    Beautiful book, great idea to document separate and get journal cards from friends on instagram, it is a perfect book. Truly hope you have had a full recovery

  16. Ruth says:

    What a wonderful way to record this experience. This album is such a beautiful keepsake. I love hearing stories about how online communities rise to a challenge.

    • Jen says:

      The Project Life Instagram community became a small army to rally around me. One of my favorite parts of surgery & recovery was walking a block to the post office with my baby brother each day to see what cards would be in my P.O. box.

  17. Susan says:

    Beautiful Story… Beautiful Album… Beautiful Person… thank you for sharing all three! All the Best to you!

  18. Veronica says:

    How beautiful. What an inspiration for all of us to document the good and the trials. Many blessings for a full recovery.

  19. Shasta says:

    Beautiful and inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story!

  20. Kathy says:

    A beautiful album of memories…given that you had to have major surgery to see that your family and friends supported you and you could have a creative outlet for your feelings which would be a great healing tool. It’s a beautiful album and I love the blue colour. All the best. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

  21. Fantastic job! So many people (me included) have chosen NOT to document what could be considered traumatic experiences, but I believe that your example is one to follow for maximum recovery grace. Thank you for sharing a very raw and real journey.

  22. Cheryl says:

    Wow, what an encouraging project to share. It means a lot to me right now as I have some health issues that are pretty serious and this is maybe a great way to process them and so encouraging. Thanks

    • Jen says:

      I am so sorry to hear that you’re havjnf health problems. This album served a lot of purposes for me — it gave me something to focus on and a way to spend time while resting in bed, it also feels good to look at the album as I filled it with the happy and interesting parts of my surgery album. I recommend it so much!

  23. Jen and I became friends via instagram when she was in hospital recovering from her surgery. I have been inspired by her ever since. Her album is so beautiful and her story extraordinary. x

  24. Ana C says:

    You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing this!

  25. Natalie says:

    Amazingly put together! Very inspiring

  26. Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to send you an email.
    I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be
    interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it
    expand over time.

  27. I am actually pleased to glance at this website posts which includes plenty of helpful facts, thanks for
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  28. Lisa G says:

    Dear Jen,
    You are amazing, your story(just what Ive read on here so far) inspiring! You have sparked my creative side and inspired me to do the same type of scrapbook! Last June @ the age of 41, I was diagnosed with my 3rd brain tumor(a regrowth of tumor #2) Ive also had a “colorful” journey with multiple sclerosis, diagnosed in 2002. Its very easy to forget the journey weve traveled,and the beauty of it all can be seen in these scrapbooks. As you know, there are days where its hard to make it, we have questions, doubts, fears, disapointment and dread hang over us like a dark cloud. These definitely can be our “rainbows” in these times, and rays of “sunshine” on others. Thanks for sharing…and the inspiration!! Lisa G

    • Jen says:

      Lisa, I am so glad that my album inspired you! Creating this album was such a fun process and I love looking back at it. There are definitely dark days and rainbows on this journey and I think that it helps to put them all down on paper — we have a recollection bias and I think that scrapbooking my happy moments helped me to reflect on those when I was having bad days. I would love to see your scrapbook!