Journaling: In your own words | Happy or sad, they are still your stories!

Although we wish all stories could be happy and perfect, the truth is that some of them aren’t. But, the imperfect stories are still important ones that are apart of us and have helped shaped who we are. These imperfect stories shouldn’t be over looked.

As scrapbookers, we tend to dismiss these stories and ignore them, when in fact, scrapbooking them and expressing our feelings on paper is actual very therapeutic and can be helpful in these situations!

I know for me, most of the time I avoid the imperfect stories is because I don’t really want people to read what I have journaled – the journaling is more of a personal story, for my eyes only. I don’t want anyone to be able to just pick up my scrapbook and open to a page and then start asking questions like “why didn’t you tell me about this? When did this happen? I didn’t know you felt like this or where going through this!”

It’s taken some time for me to realize that these imperfect stories are still apart of me and something that is okay and important to scrapbook about. I’ve learned some of these stories I should share and maybe sharing it can help others who might be going through the same thing.

Here are some tips that I’ve used, so instead of feeling like I can’t scrapbook these moments in life because I don’t want others reading the story, I now feel like I CAN! And, most of the time, I’ve found it helpful to get these emotions out, and leave them behind on a page.

Just scrapbook it: Like I said above, you never know how much your story will help someone else, or just feel good to get out and express in writing! Don’t worry about how others will look at you after they read your story – everyone has something imperfect about their lives.

Hidden journaling: You can turn any photo into a secret pocket that holds your thoughts! Instead of gluing the entire photo down, just glue on the edges of three sides. The side where you didn’t glue becomes the opening to your “pocket”. Leave the journaling tag popped out of the top just enough so you know it’s there. Most people won’t take the time to pull the layout out of a page protector to be able to reach the journaling tag – and more than likely they won’t even know it’s there!

Journal on the back: This is a great way to really hide your journaling. No one looks at the back of layouts and only you will know it’s there. This method can really give you piece-of-mind and allow you to be more open and honest with yourself about your feelings.

Keep a separate book: My friend keeps a separate book, tucked away in a special spot, that is just for her. That way, her other books can be on display and she doesn’t have to think twice about someone stumbling upon something that maybe she doesn’t want them to see or she isn’t ready for them to read.

We hope these tips about capturing the imperfect story will help you realize that it is okay to scrapbook and journal them!

We have another amazing giveaway for you today from Apron Strings!
Summertime. Laid back (or less crazy anyway) schedules. Time relaxing by the water source of your choice. Plenty of photo opportunities and stories to be told. The August Bigger than a Breadbox Kit from Apron Strings will help you document everything from cool ice cream celebrations to picnics in the park or anything in between. A no-commitment membership in Apron Strings’ Autoship ensures you’ll get new papers to play with each and every month. You’ll enjoy unlimited, penalty-free skips, flips or substitutions so that your Autoship works for you. You’ll also have access to the monthly newsletters which have plenty of inspiration from the design team and plenty of challenges and contests on the blog to inspire you to use your kits.

“I used to think a kit club was limiting, I mean I wanted to shop for my papers. Then I bought an Apron Strings kit and my mind was changed. I’m getting papers I can’t find at my local stores and some of my favorites are from companies I didn’t know about. The kits keep me on budget and I’m having a ball, and actually creating layouts. I love the thrill of getting a line I may have passed over if I was shopping on my own – those sometimes become some of my favorite layouts. Thanks for the inspiration.”

COUPON CODE: During this 3-week class Apron Strings is also offering the Elle’s Studio participants a 20% savings on purchases. Drop by, check Apron Strings out, sign-up and then stock up and save. Enter: ELLES during checkout. Coupon expires August 28th and is not applicable towards autoship memberships.

GIVEAWAY: Apron Strings is giving away one August Bigger than a Breadbox kit! To enter, just leave a comment below! We will draw two winners (one per kit) on Tuesday, August 24th. *One entry per person!

Also, if you have not entered our other big giveaway here, hop on over there and enter that one, too!


  1. tape says

    I agree that imperfect stories are important, too.

  2. April says

    What a great post!! Thanks for the tips and for the chance to win. 🙂
    – April W

  3. Becky says

    I haven’t scrapped any sad stories, but think I ought to do so. A friend has a wonderful and thought provoking scrapbook from her daughter’s funeral. Sounds very sad,which it is, but as she says, it is an important part of her life.

  4. Wow, Look at all of that awesome paper and embellishments in the kit…I would love to win. Thanks for the opportunity!

  5. rose says

    i think that’s totally a challenge. telling sad stories is just a hard thing to do.

    on the other hand, that apron paper is just something i won’t have a hard time liking 🙂

  6. Cowgirlpal says

    I just spent afternoon organizing supplies and I have plenty of room for more from Apron Strings to tell my stories!

  7. Denise says

    I use hidden journalling too. Thanks for the chance to win the cool kit!

  8. Nitasha says

    love this journaling advice today because I often have stumble around when trying to journal about the not-so-happy things in life- so this is great advice! Love Apron Strings’ kits! Thank you again for hosting this amazing class!

  9. Fantastic post…I really needed to be reminded of this…thank you for the chance to win!

  10. Kelly says

    I often journal on the back of my pages. I like to think of how the stories will be discovered one day by a grandchild, and picture what he or she will look like while reading their family stories.

  11. Kelly says

    I often journal on the back of my pages. I like to think of how the stories will be discovered one day by a grandchild, and picture what he or she will look like while reading their family stories.

  12. cbee says

    I have scrapbooked only for one year and so I have to learn many things – I’m really happy to have found this blog becouse journaling is very hard for me sometimes.

  13. Jen says

    Great advice! Not all days are good days as a stay at home mom, and I have recently been thinking that I am not thankful enough, and should be relishing it more. (all the other scrappers do!) But they must have bad days too, and our daughters should be able to look back and relate to this side of things when they have bad days. Thanks for permission! And the great giveaway!

  14. Brigid says

    It is so true about scrapping the imperfect times!
    loving those bright kits!!!!
    Thanks for the chance to win one!
    This has been an awesome journaling class!! Thanks for offering it for free!!!

  15. Janet Z says

    I’m really enjoying your blog! That kit looks amazing!

  16. What a fantastic post! Thanks for the inspiration! And Thanks to Elle’s and Apron Strings for the chance for a great giveaway!

  17. Dawn says

    Excellent post and such helpful ideas. Thanks for a chance to enter the giveaway, would love to play with this kit.

  18. I did a page about the miscarriages we had and it felt like those little lives wouldn’t be forgotten.

    Journalling the imperfect or sad moments is an important part in telling the whole story.

    Writing on the back of a LO is a great way to feel free to be real.

    Thanks for a terrific post.

  19. I am loving this journalling series. So enjoying the responses by the ladies to your journalling questions.

  20. StaceyL. says

    Oh my goodness – would LOVE to win all those goodies!

  21. angiew says

    Great post, I’m really enjoying all the journaling ideas. Thanks for a chance to win, too!

  22. Pinque says

    What a great post thanks for the inspiration and what an awesome giveaway!

  23. Kelly says

    I’m so enjoying this journaling workshop! I’ve learned a ton:)

  24. Shirley says

    I am definitely a fan of hidden journaling. I can still have my layouts be artistic without losing the story behind it.

  25. Pammejo says

    I love to have hidden journaling, gives a greater appreciation to exploring my pages.

  26. Amy Heller says

    I love the idea of scrapping imperfect stories – it’s something I’ve contemplated many times. And I really like the idea of a personal book that your friend creates. That seems like a really great way of giving yourself permission to spend time scrapping those times in your life.

  27. Cheri says

    Great tips. I often avoid the imperfect stories too, but will definitely try and do them more often… Scrapbooking is cheaper than therapy right? Well, ok maybe not!!! Lol! 🙂

  28. Scrappyjo says

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. Haley D. says

    Too cute! Thanks for a chance to win.

  30. Lillian says

    I would like some new papers to play with, please

  31. Scrappyjo says

    the story is often more important than the pictures. thanks for the reminder to document all those memories. Thanks for the chance to win such a super kit!

  32. Melanie says

    This kit looks amazing, would love to play with it!

  33. ruth says

    Oh my goodness, I would love to win!

  34. Michelle*G says

    I definitely have more of these stories to tell! Thank you for the chance to win!

  35. sandee says

    I have used my journaling for thearapy for my divorce, but it is a book I don
    t bring out for everyone. Thanks for the chance to win a kit…kits make the whole process a lot more fun!

  36. Carol says

    Been on a self-imposed scrapbook supply buying ban, and looking at this giveaway is making me drool!! Awesome ~ I hope I win 🙂

  37. christen says

    i’ve loved this journaling series! thanks

  38. emharp says

    That kit looks fabulous. The papers are so bright and fresh. Embellishments chosen for me. Wow.

  39. Megan Ann says

    I am a big proponent of scrapbooking the not so pretty side of life as well as the great moments that you find in all scrapbooks! Thanks for putting this out there to challenge others to do the same! From feedback I have received, I know that journaling about my abuse or depression has helped several people. And probably impacted more that I do not even know…Thanks for the chance to win too! ~Megan Ann Walker

  40. Clare says

    I really appreciate all the journaling encouragement in your blog.

  41. Clare says

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  42. Cynthia B. says

    Thanks for the reminder that these types of stories are important too! My favorite way to do this type of journaling is using a pocket for hidden journaling.
    And thanks for the chance to win this fabulous Apron Strings kit!

  43. amyp says

    Love the post, I was just thinking about how I would love to write about how my grandparents are aging and was concerned about it being more sad than happy and how I want my children to know my feelings and thoughts about this situation. Then I get on the site and see this post. Thank you for giving me ideas about how write what I want and keep it “hidden” out of site on my layout. Thanks so much for your encouragement.

  44. Angela says

    Thanks for all the great tips and the chance to win!

  45. Jodee says

    I haven’t really scrapped anything sad or bad. I suppose I could, but haven’t had the desire or need to. Thanks for the giveaway! What fun product!

  46. cbk says

    It’s always good to mix the happy with a little sad, makes you appreciate the happy more. Thanks for the tips!

  47. Jennifer says

    I am loving all the wonderful tips and ideas you have been providing with this series:) Thank you!!

  48. Nance says

    Thanks for giving the reason to journal some sad stories once in a while— and the chance to win a fab giveaway! Have a great weekend…

  49. Chris says

    It’s hard to remember to scrap these stories, but I have done so. It’s always sort of weird when someone runs across the layout of my Grandfather’s funeral, or the one where I talk about getting a negative when we were trying to conceive. I haven’t done a page like this in a long while… I need to. Thanks for the reminder.

  50. Cathy H. says

    Your comments have really made me think seriously about scrapping the not-so-happy moments in my life. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas to journal these pages. And thanks for the fantastic giveaway.

  51. Kim says

    Another great journaling post! I would love to win this kit!

  52. I think I have told a few of the harder stories. I need to do a little bit more.

  53. kimberly says

    I agree, sometimes the stories that are the most difficult to get down on paper are the ones we need to write down the most, if only for ourselves.

  54. Melissa says

    I am loving all the ideas being shared thanks so much for putting this all together

  55. I agree that it’s important to tell those stories that don’t make us happy. It is proof that God is still in control and always provides for us…. even if we don’t get our way.

  56. I really should just go for the cathartic approach of getting those stories down on paper….

  57. Getting the hard stories written down is a freeing thing. I always feel better once I do it. Cute giveaway, too!

  58. amandae says

    what a great post. all our stories are important good and bad.

    amanda engweiler

  59. Shelley says

    Thank you for this. I have just been through a rough time and have given some thought to how (and if) I want to document it. These are some helpful ideas.

  60. NanaBeth says

    Another great post. It is the imperfect stories that tell the most about who we are. Years from now it will help others to truly understand who we were.

  61. Tracey says

    True enough, life is a mixture of joyous as well as challenging or sad events! I document both. Wonderful prize!

  62. Melanie says

    I really like journaling on the back of layouts. This works well for long stories too 🙂

  63. I am a big believer in journalling on layouts so am loving this series. Thanks for all the extra hints and tips of ways to incorporate it. And thanks for the chances of winning gorgeous stuff along the way too!

  64. What a challenge I have to pu myself in, telling sad stories. Thanks for the tip!

  65. Olivia says

    I used to find scrapbooking the not so happy things difficult too. But now I have whole albums especially for my personal journaling layouts so that I know they are just for me & I can express myself freely.

    Prize pack looks great 🙂

  66. laury55 says

    thanks for sharing your journaling idease…it is really helpful and gives me new ways to journal on my own

  67. Amy K says

    Great post! I went back and forth about scrapbooking my experience with our twins miscarriage. It took quite a bit of time, but I finally decided that it was a very poignant time in my life, thus an important story to tell. Above all it was therapeutic; hard, but therapeutic. Thanks for touching on a delicate subject.

    The kits look wonderful – thanks for the chance to win!

  68. Thanks for the ideas – I was wondering how to journal my less than perfect birth story and you’ve given me a good starting point. Loving this series!!

  69. kathy jo says

    Happy and sad, it’s all part of life. I’m loving the journalling tips.

  70. sucor says

    Great post! It’s all part of life even when it’s hard to write about it. Thank you for the chance to win!

  71. Jennybean says

    I love kits!! Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  72. pitje says

    I journal alot of imperfect story’s lately about my struggle with the kids or my stuggles in my faith. It realy helps me to get to a different perspective sometimes.
    My methodes are mostly in the open for everyone to read, with long story’s I keep writing on the back of the page. I also have a gallery on my wall in my home (three pages are displayed there)that changes every half year.Moste of these pages end up there.

  73. Jen says

    love your article. i think it would be good for the soul to get those stories out….thanks!

  74. ReNi says

    Thank you for that special week on journaling. It was a great inspiration!

  75. Linda says

    I journal on about 90% of my LO’s but if there is something that i dont want anyone to read a tag does it for me-hidden behind the photo.

  76. I love, love, love all the polka dots in that kit. Maybe if I’m a good girl, I’ll get lucky!

  77. Kim says


  78. It´s important to scrap the sad stories too.
    It works as therapy also :o)
    Love the kits – thanks for the chance to win.

  79. Jenny says

    Thanks for this post. It’s so true regarding imperfect stories.

  80. Stephanie says

    Cute kit. You have had some great giveaways. Thanks.

  81. thanks for the amazing inspiration, Ive really enjoyed the class so far 🙂 winning one of the kit would be the perfect birthday present for my 19th birthday this friday 🙂

  82. Leah says

    wow! I would love to win!

  83. loving this series on journaling – thanks for the great giveaway

  84. mbs and j says

    I am loving the class!! thanks so much for all the journaling inspiration and the giveaways too!
    Beth Ann

  85. judean says

    such a good reminder that both kinds of stories are valuable!

  86. Paula says

    I am inspired to spend time today capturing some of my imperfect stories. One actually unfolded this morning, so thanks for the gentle push I’ve been needing to write down my feelings.

  87. Paula says

    I am inspired to spend time today capturing some of my imperfect stories. One actually unfolded this morning, so thanks for the gentle push I’ve been needing to write down my feelings.

  88. "Girl" says

    Thanks for the great ideas and push to get my “imperfect stories” down in my scrapbooks. I tend to avoid putting anything that is not happy on paper. But my stories and experiences are all part of what makes me–me. Great topic.

  89. LaMaMaLa says

    I have some of those stories that need to be scrapbooked….thanks for the ideas!

  90. Thanks for this post…it has really made me think about some of the sadder stories that I haven’t scrapped….but should.

  91. Liz in MO says

    I love the ideas for hidden journaling, esp. tucking behind the photo and journaling on the back of the page. I am going to start doing that. Love the idea. Also, that kit looks really cool!

  92. Jessie says

    Thanks for the chance to win!

  93. I have been loving the journaling classes. They are great tips.

    Thanks for the chance to win.

  94. Great ideas for hidden journaling! Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  95. great post! I believe you have to be in the right state of mind to be able to complete some of the sad events in our lives. . . at this point in time, I am just not there right now.

  96. Marcal says

    I am loving this class. thanks for the chance to win.

  97. phyllis says

    Thank you so much for this journalling series – I’m getting so much from the different writers.

  98. anna says

    nice tip!
    thanks for the opportunity to win this gorgeous prize!
    anna r.

  99. Momof5 says

    I am finding now how important journaling is. I have been nominated the one to go though my grandmother’s photos. I need to sit down with her and gather up all of those great stories while I can.

  100. perezmom says

    This journaling class has been the best – I’ve always struggled with telling the story and now I feel better about using my handwriting and writing exactly what I want! Thank you Apron Strings for the terrific give away!


  101. Gail B. says

    This would be a fun kit to have. Great colors

  102. Henriette says

    I have sad stories that I keep in a small journal, until I’m ready to scrap them.

  103. Claire says

    I am trying to journal/scrap my mother’s ramblings about her childhood as she is losing her memory… I know these may be the last time I hear these stories so clearly.

  104. KarenB says

    I really loved today’s spotlight – I find ‘imperfect’ stories so hard to scrap, but they are so important to record.

    I’ve never heard of Apron Strings kits before today, so thanks so much for the link!! I’d love to win a kit, and I promise to share what I create with it!!

  105. Jana says

    I agree that the imperfect stories are important… They tell who we really are. 🙂

  106. Jade says

    So beautiful! Thanks for the chance to win! I have L.O.V.E.D. this journaling class!

  107. Amber L. says

    I’ve never been good at journaling and I’m loving this workshop…thanks 🙂

  108. Kim M says

    I am loving the free journaling class. I am learning so much and giveaways too, ya’ll are the best!

  109. Lisa C. says

    I am enjoying all the journaling classes. Thanks for a wonderful giveaway!

  110. alirecm says

    Thanks for the chance to win. Those imperfect, sometimes sad or tragic moments will be meaningful for my children & grandchildren to look back on someday as much as the happy carefree times.

  111. RxDrMom says

    Thanks for a great, very helpful post. And I’d LOVE to win!

  112. {VICKI} says

    i believe in telling unhappy stories but it is hard to do.

    thanks for the chance to win

  113. Today is my girls first day back at school, and new beginnings…which means more scrapbook time for Mom! Hope I win!

  114. BettyMac says

    I love this post… great ideas 🙂

  115. Yolanda says

    I am really loving this journalling class and what fab prizes too xxx

  116. I scrap EVERYTHING – happy, sad, traumatic – because it IS part of my life. And scrapbooking is all about capturing that life 😉

  117. Mimi says

    great tips – thanks! would love to win one of these kits!

  118. Nicole W. says

    I would love to win one of these! Thanks for the inspiration AND the chance to win

  119. Laura says

    Thanks for the great hidden journaling ideas (and for the chance to win!).

  120. I sure am learning a lot! And thanks for the giveaway and for thinking of us!

  121. Traci says

    Thanks for having this Journaling class….it is super helpful to see how others approach journaling.

  122. Melanie says

    I do hesitate to share the imperfect stories. But I keep a separate journal from my albums that contains the stories of my heart–good and bad.

  123. Altie says

    Thanks for this post about the not so great stories. I like the idea of writing on the backs of layouts. Sad to say I wouldn’t have thought of that myself.

    Thanks for the giveaway too!!

  124. Suzy says

    Thanks for the tips! I haven’t scrapped sad stories before, anyway I’d love to win those amazing prize 🙂

  125. vegetablog says

    I do a lot of hidden journaling– not always because it’s a more private story, but often because I have so much to say that it won’t all fit along with the pictures. But I do appreciate the privacy of hidden journaling.

  126. LeAnne says

    These post have been great. Thanks for the chance to win.

  127. ConnieC says

    I have all sorts of stories in my albums. For me, leaving out the sadder stuff, just wouldn’t feel right.

  128. Vana63 says

    Im working on my journaling…I never want anyone to see that Im really really NOT a good writer! Thanks for the tips and encouragement! And Thanks for the chance to win!

  129. Very much enjoying the series and the kit looks lovely.

  130. Jimjams says

    Wow – great prize and fab tips – many thanks!

  131. Ericka says

    Your ideas are great for someone who doesn’t quite know where to start! And the kit is fantastic!!

  132. I have always believed in scrapping imperfect stories, the sad ones, the ones that will make you and other’s cry. Things happened to people,unfortunately to many women in this industry are afraid to be true to themselves and their emotions, to busy getting caught up in being magazine perfect. I will always scrap the nasty and keep it real. Abuse, incest and molestation are a hard pill to swallow, and it took me years to realize it is OKAY, I refuse to not document it on paper no matter how pretty it is. I use to think the military hardened me, but I just had a wall up. Journaling has always been easy for me, I think it’s because I have so much to say and the world needs to hear it.

    Hope your topic helped others realize that it is OKAY to be REAL especially while trying to make things look so pretty.

  133. Robin M says

    What a great idea. I’ve only journaled the happy moments in the past but this challenges me to include the sad ones. Thanks for the chance to win.

  134. dilorf says

    I love your tips on inperfect stories! That is a very thoughtful.

    And I like the kit’s too.. I hope I have a chance.. 😀

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