Thursday, May 15, 2014


One of my SU! colleagues had some really rough times this past year and I've followed her and her family's story online during the difficult journey.  She is Kimberly Van Diepen from SU! and she's an amazing human being.  Her husband Russ had a stroke last fall.  In the blink of an eye, their lives changed.  She shares her family's difficult times in her scrapbooking online at My Digital Studio.  What she documented is below.  I have to agree with her, it's pretty important and can even be healing to scrapbook the rough times as well as the great and fun times.  Personally, I don't scrapbook the tough, but I'm going to start including it.  Thanks Kimberly for the inspiration, and thanks for sharing Kim's work.  Kimberly's layouts in MDS are really beautiful and I love to use them for inspiration.  Today, I'm thankful for my health and the health of my individual family members.  My parents and my siblings and my husband and I have all had our share of health problems over the years.  We also have stroke in our family on my mom's side (both of her parents had stroke) and my younger brother had a stroke at age 33.  Our family is so grateful that he pulled through with no deficits, because immediately after the stroke he wasn't moving or talking for almost 3 long difficult days.  If it hadn't been for my mother's intuition that his symptoms were a stroke at the time he presented, he might not have been taken by ambo to the regional stroke center for TPA (clotbuster) treatment.  That was almost a decade ago and certainly now we know a lot more about the early warning signs and the importance of quick decision making and treatment.  Most hospitals now are equipped to handle stroke, thankfully.  It's a potentially debilitating and fatal disease or event.  Take time to educate yourself about stroke, and know that it's ok to talk about and to document.  Maria

Documenting Difficult Times

As an avid scrapbooker and recorder my family's life story I never thought the day would come that I would be telling the story of a difficult time in our life. My scrapbooks are filled with hundreds of layouts that tell all the happy moments. All that changed on November 19, 2013 when my husband, 43 had a massive stroke.

Over the last four months I've struggled on what to scrapbook about this event and how to journal. I researched online what others wrote and the photos they included and the constant that I kept running into was—it's YOUR story, tell it how YOU want to.

When I scrapbook I always think about my two kids that one day will be the owners of my stories in pictures. I want to bring them back to the happy times so the memories never fade. That thought is so different when you are telling a story that creates heartache. I don't want them to relive the experience but it's part of our story. I want them to see the life lessons we've seen along the way, the progress their dad and our family has made during this difficult time.

While there is no real answer on how to start the story or what to tell, I'm going to give you ideas on what I've done. Just remember, if you are telling a similar story or scrapbooking a difficult time there are no rules and do what makes you feel comfortable.

Typically with my layouts I make the picture the focal point. While the photos will be important with this album, the journaling will be more of the focus. There are some pages that will not have a photo. It will be more of a diary that includes the process of my husband's therapy.

I started the journaling for this album from the very beginning—from the first phone call made by Russ. That was the exact time our lives changed. There wasn't a photo to go with this so I used a photo when the kids were finally able to see their daddy. I keep telling myself there are no rules, this is our story—scrapbook it.

Below are a few tips I found when doing my research on scrapbooking difficult times.

  • Get rid of the idea these layouts need to be perfect. Don't over analyze the process, just do it.
  • Journal from your heart. I found this to be the most therapeutic part of scrapbooking this life event. While the writing brought back painful memories I could also see the progress from then to now.
  • Write about the good, bad and the ugly.
  • Separate the time between creating the difficult layouts. This album will not be done like previous albums I've done in the past. I create for these layouts when I'm in the right frame of mind, sitting in a quiet place and I can pour my soul into the writing.  Again, as I write each word, I think about my kids.
  • Remember to take photos during the progression. This is probably the hardest part of creating this album. We are so caught up in the moment of therapy and progressing that I forget to take pictures of the progression. This is a great piece of the album. Take photos.

We all have a story to tell whether it's good or bad. Every story is important and I hope you make the time to share all of them.

-Kimberly Van Diepen, My Digital Studio Design Team

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