Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



good life by lindsay ross

Part of cultivating a good life is choosing compassion over judgment. 

My brother is an alcoholic/addict. During his decades-long struggle with drugs and alcohol, our family tried everything to help him. Compassion, love, anger, pleading, support, guilt, force, tough love. You name it, we tried it. And for the record, that whole tough love thing was NOT easy for our family. It was horrific really.

Because of the choices he was making and the boundaries we set as a family (specifically no “using” while in our homes), my brother ended up homeless several times (when he wasn’t in jail). He found himself begging for money and food and a place to sleep to stay alive. We never gave up on him. We never shut him out of our lives. And we were always willing to help him as long as he was trying as hard as we were. 

As I was talking to him years later about being homeless (during a period of sobriety), he said something that changed me forever. There are a lot of unimaginable and awful things that accompany being homeless. But he said the worst part about his experience was the way people treated him–either with complete disgust, contempt, and shame, or, even worse, like he wasn’t even there. People would look right past him as though he didn’t even exist. When he said that, I immediately felt shame because I knew I was guilty of doing that very thing at times.

The truth is, it’s easy to judge and easy to assume why people are in the situations they’re in. And my brother was the stereotypical person who was homeless because he drank and did drugs. But…he is MY brother. Just like everyone we see in moments of desperation and need (for whatever reason) is someone’s brother, sister, mother, father, child. And I am forever grateful to the people who chose compassion over judgment and helped my brother when I couldn’t. Those helpers (in their various forms) literally kept my brother alive. They helped him. They helped my family.

Everyone has their “thing(s).” Everyone struggles. Everyone suffers. Everyone hurts sometimes. Because of the many experiences I’ve had during my life and the endless lessons I have learned from having a brother who is an alcoholic, I do my best to cultivate a good life by choosing compassion over judgment and remembering that we’re meant to take care of each other. “In the quiet heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye can’t see.”

Note from Becky

In November, our team headed to Salt Lake City for Pinners Conference, which was our first time ever exhibiting at a consumer show. We had loads of work to do during set-up… much more than we anticipated, truthfully. So in a desperate plea for help, I mentioned on social media that we could use some help if there happened to be any locals who were available. Of course we sent them home with lots of Project Life® goodies, so it was a fun win-win for everyone.

Anyway — Lindsay Ross was among the first to show up. She pushed up her sleeves, got to work, and never stopped. She even popped into my classroom during the show and helped out again. We all looked at each other like, who is this angel?? And she is. For the very short time we’ve known Lindsay, we LOVE her heart. She’s a giver. She has such a rich character. And as it turns out, she ended up being selected as one of our 2015 Creative Team, focusing specifically on the app. We’re so blessed to have her as a part of our growing PL family and most definitely blessed by her message today. This world needs more compassion and less judgment for sure. Amen to that!

Connect with Lindsay  ::  Blog  |  Instagram


10 Responses

  1. Jenny B. says:

    This article made me think of people I know in real life who have been through / are going through the struggle of having a loved one in crisis. Every person is important. Lindsay’s words are beautiful, and a great reminder.

  2. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom. I have a loved one who is living the life that your brother has. It’s not easy and it is so painful but compassion , prayer and love are how I live my life. It’s what helps me get through the day so that I can cultivate a good life. :) Blessings to you and your family.

    Mary from NH

  3. I am the clubhouse coordinator in Midland, Ontario at an agency that supports adults with mental illness, and addictions through housing, the social clubhouse, support groups, and brief service, case management, and crisis.
    Lindsay’s story is so valid. A person does feel invisible…
    I have purchased a few of your Project Life kits and want to start using them more as journalling pieces in mixed media collages. I would give the jump off point, and the members would write or be assisted to tell their story, Excited to get started. I have a team of 8 recreation workers who also have dealt with mental health experiences. They will facilitate with the support of myself.
    Beautiful kits by the way….

  4. Rhonda says:

    I actually taught a lesson about this today!! The world every where needs more love and compassion. Everyone. Perfect post!

  5. KathyinMN says:

    Great story, can still show compassion without enabling. As someone with an addict for a brother, this was particularly touching. Thank you for sharing.

  6. KatieK. says:

    awesome post. Grabbed a 3×4 card and wrote that end quote(and source info). Not only adding it to my weekly spread, but I’m inspired to create a mixed media piece maybe a canvas or art journaling piece. I have some other ideas from Lindsay’s post. Thanks Lindsay and Becky for sharing.

  7. Donna M says:

    This is very touching. My teen son has ASD and went through a very rough low patch. One of the things I’ve learned from him is compassion over judgement – in many areas. A while ago we talked about what we could do to try and help homeless people in our city. I’d have never thought about this without him. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Suzi says:

    What a great post. I am an RN working in an Emergency department. Sometimes it is easy to make assumptions and they are usually not the correct ones. Everyone has a story. Everyone deserves kindness and respect and a little understanding. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  9. DrSue says:

    As a physician who deals with many people with chronic pain, I struggle at times being compassionate with those who are addicted to pain medicine. Your blog made me feel understanding for them more than anything I have ever read in the medical literature. Thank you for opening up and sharing your story. You can be sure that my patients will benefit from the compassion you have instilled in me.

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