How Well Does Your Relationship Work for You?

I remember meeting someone, years ago, who proudly stated that her husband had never once seen her without her makeup perfectly intact. She was always showered, coiffed and beautifully dressed in his presence. When I asked if that was not an exhausting way to live she agreed that it was; getting up before he awoke everyday and anticipating his movements was a full-time preoccupation, but that was how she felt she should be. That was how their relationship worked.I doubt if many of us, of either gender, would be prepared to live like that. It sounds stressful and not real life. But I’m guessing that many of us will have things that we choose to keep private and not share with our partners. There will be certain things that we prefer to conceal through a desire to maintain some mystique or not become too vulnerable. We find the right ways to make our relationship work for us.- It’s often the case that we have different personas for different areas of our lives. When we’re at work, with friends, family or at home we may find that we behave in rather different ways. Our partner may never see the side of us that gossips, complains, gets angry, as we may limit that behaviour to arenas deemed more appropriate. Our genius in some areas of life may potentially be our curse in others; taking home the highly-organised, fastidious approach we get paid well for at work might cause mayhem if we try it with the family! It’s determining what works and is appropriate.

- The bathroom can be a no-go area for sharing in some relationships. Whilst some people don’t mind who breezes in on them whilst they’re on the toilet or in the bath, for others it’s their personal time. Or they may wish for certain exercise routines or beauty treatments to be undertaken in private, perhaps out of embarrassment or from the simple desire to have a little personal space. We don’t need to reveal everything about ourselves in order for our relationship to work well.- For some people having a great relationship means never arguing, whilst others love having a fight, clearing the air and making up afterwards. In order to progress though, disagreements and arguments need to be handled respectfully.If one person goes quiet and won’t talk or shouts, hurls insults and refuses to listen it can be very damaging to a relationship. Most adults can cope with opposing points of view; they try to understand and accommodate why the person feels the way they do. Agreeing to disagree may be a suitable outcome, where both sides shake hands and acknowledge that they’re unlikely to ever win the other over. But there’s an appreciation that each is entitled to their own opinion and that often works well.Adopting good listening skills, applying empathy and understanding enables a relationship to evolve and move forward. Keeping channels of communication open is important. Being keen to have regular conversations about real life stuff also matters, rather than internally sighing and turning away from the phone or TV screen. If time is constrained in the week it might be good to set aside a little time before dinner or bed to have half an hour’s catch-up where you enjoy each other’s news and discuss your thoughts and feelings. Invest in your relationship at weekends too and maybe consider a regular date night.- Relaxed dressing can be an important part of being in a good committed relationship. Many people love coming home from work and changing into ‘something more comfortable’, though they’re rarely referring to attractive, alluring attire – it’s usually more about tracksuits and sweatshirts. It’s great to be at ease with someone and be able to kick off your shoes, but it’s important not to let standards slip too far.

Being relaxed is all well and good, but it’s also important to keep on top of personal hygiene by showering regularly and looking after your health and oral hygiene. Enjoy opportunities to dress up and look nice reasonably often. Remember this is the person you were once so keen to impress. Look after your weight, wellbeing and appearance and continue to take a pride in yourself. When you take care of you and feel good about yourself everyone benefits.We may look enviously at others with their ginormous diamond engagement rings and perfect lifestyles. Goodness knows how much those rings cost! But would you really exchange the tiny diamond chip in your ring for something flashier? It’s travelled with you through the highs and lows of your relationship and was probably bought when you were both starting you life together. When you look at your ring you can really see what that tiny stone represents about your journey together, how far you’ve come. It’s your story that matters and the way your relationship works well for you.

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How to Get Started on a Scrapbook Project (Organizing and Cropping Your Photos)

After learning how to find the albums and materials for a scrapbook project, the next thing that beginners should know about is how to organize and crop their photos. This may seem like a trivial thing at first, but the longer you do scrapbooking, the more you will realize how important it is to have a properly-organized system for your photos, as well as knowing how to crop them according to your needs.

It is recommended that you work on your scrapbook project in a workshop or area that has enough space to accommodate several piles of photos. You will not need all of this space every time you start a project, of course, but having a regular available space set aside for scrapbooking purposes would really help in the long run. Just set aside a portion or area of your home that is not usually used, such as a spare bedroom or maybe an area next to the garage. Of course, you need to keep in mind that the area you choose will have to be free of humidity, and well-lit (although free from direct sunlight).

Now that you have a pile of photos in front of you, what’s the first step in organizing them? Well, you pick out the ones that are obviously damaged or those that are blurry (out of focus). You should also separate the Polaroids from the photos that were taken by a common film camera (or those that were printed from digital copies). Polaroid pictures can contain a type of acid that may eventually ruin your photographs, so it would be best if you separate them right from the start.

If you could produce copies of the photos that you do like, it would be great. This will save you a lot of grief when you are working on a scrapbook project and you make a mistake. When you already have a copy of the photo you are using in your scrapbook, then it won’t be a problem replacing them.

With that said, I totally recommend making copies of the original photos and using those instead. Can you imagine using an original black and white photograph of your great-grandparents in your scrapbook, only to find that you’ve dropped a teeny weeny bit of glue on them, or maybe finding a few spatters of ink from the stamping you did the other day? Now you’ve ruined an original heritage photo of your ancestors, and you’ve got nothing to replace it. Totally unthinkable, right?

Alright, now that you’ve got some usable photos for your scrapbook project, you will want to organize them in chronological order. Don’t be overwhelmed, though, because you really don’t have to know the exact dates of when these photos were taken. Just sort them by year, or even by decade if you cannot identify them all by year. Separate the photos from the 1960s, the 1970, etc. You get the idea. You can then go back later on and sort them some more, like photos from the early ’80s, late ’80s, early ’90s, etc.

You can also sort them out chronologically according to whatever your purpose for scrapbooking is at the moment. For example, if you’re creating a scrapbook for your daughter who’s about to get married, you may want to start with the earliest photos you can find of her, up until the most recent picture. If your scrapbook is about the different holidays or festivities of the year, then the best thing to do would be to sort the pictures starting with the holiday or occasion that is nearest to the start of the year (starting with New Year, for example, then moving onwards until Christmas Day).

Some scrapbookers stop right here already, but if you have the time, I suggest that you move on and organize your photos according to events or occasions. This arrangement could include birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, sports, etc. and not only for holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Different strokes for different folks, of course, so it’s up to you to find and use the system that works best.

Here are a few more suggestions and ideas that you can use to organize your photos, depending on the purpose or theme of your scrapbook project:

– If you’re sorting photos for a wedding scrapbook, start by sorting the individual pictures of the bride and groom first. Use the baby pictures of each partner and go right up until adulthood. The couple will have lots of pictures that show them together, of course, so you should place those in a separate pile. If one of the couple (or both) has children from a previous marriage, you should also separate those pictures in a different pile as well.

– For a project such as a family tree scrapbook, you can start by collecting pictures of each member of the family from both sides (mother and father). It’s up to you how extended you want your family tree to be, but make sure that you will have photos for each of the family members, or else your family tree would look terribly lopsided. Start with collecting pictures for the most current family members, then work your way downwards.

– The size of your scrapbook album should also be a factor. Remember that most scrapbook pages can comfortably hold an average of 4-5 photos (more if the picture sizes are small). However, you should also take into account the space that you will need for journaling or embellishments. A scrapbook page can hold more than 7-8 photos if you really fill it up from border to border, but you won’t have room left for anything else.

– Now that you have a collection of photos that have been sorted by type, date, and/or occasion, it’s time for you to decide what the main photo will be. Scrapbookers usually pick out a single photo to serve as the focal point for all the other stuff that they put in a page, whether it’s journaling, embellishments, or more photos. The main photo should have a larger size than the other pictures, with great color and sharp focus. Ideally, it should be the best photograph among all the others in your collection.

– You can edit your main photo if you feel like it, so that the resulting picture will have that feel and look that you are going for. You can use your computer and a good photo editing software to enlarge or reduce a photo, add some borders or framing to it, or convert a colored picture into black and white for a classic or vintage look. If you don’t have a computer or the skills to do this kind of work, you can just bring it to a photo shop and have someone do it for you (or ask a friend).

– Sometimes you will finish the organizing part of the job, but won’t be able to actually mount the photos on your pages until some time later. If this is the case, you should store your selected photos into an archival-quality container. This will ensure that your photographs will be safe until you are able to mount them in your album. You can buy good-quality photo cases in department stores or a crafts shop, or use any airtight container that is also acid-free. For a quick solution, just get some Ziploc bags and place your photographs in those, then keep them in an airtight container until you can use them.

Okay, now we’re done with the organizing part. Let’s talk about cropping your photos and how to do it the right way.

If you’re not familiar with cropping photos, don’t worry; it’s not as complicated as it may sound. When you crop a photo, you’re simply cutting away the elements that distract the viewer from the subject of the photo itself. For example, you may see a lot of pictures that have distracting backgrounds, so it would be a good idea to trim the photo in such a way that the distracting background is minimized and the attention is more focused on the subject.

However, do be careful when cropping away the backgrounds, because some of those photos might have backgrounds that are essential to the overall message or story of the photo itself. As an example, you might have some photos of your grandparents, with an old house or building in the background. That old house might be the house that your mother grew up in, or that old building may be the place where your grandparents got married. These backgrounds, therefore, have a sentimental value to them that can contribute more to the story behind those photos, so it would be foolish to crop them out.

For the fastest and easiest way to crop photos, use a tool with a straight edge, such as a ruler. Sometimes it may seem fun to crop the photos into a variety of shapes, but remember that too many assorted shapes will just make your pages look messy and disorganized. You just need a pair of sharp scissors, a ruler, and a pencil. Use the pencil to trace the line where you would want to crop the photo off, and then wipe off any residue after you finish the cropping, so that your photos will be protected from deterioration. You can also buy a small paper cutter if you can afford it. This way, you can accomplish a cleaner, smoother crop even faster.

You can try using photos that have been cropped into different sizes and mount them all in one page. If you have a photo that you really like, or maybe one that has several persons in it, you can produce several copies of that single photo and crop them all into different ways before mounting on the scrapbook page. This technique also works really well with landscape photos.

You may also have lots of photos with colorful backgrounds, like a field of blooming flowers or a beautiful lake scenery. These photos don’t really deserve to get cropped closely, because they can add a lot of brightness and color to your designs. Put away those scissors and try to find ways to work these photos into your layouts instead.

If you do want to get creative with your cropping, you can use a pair of decorative scissors or shears. There are several varieties of these tools now available in office/school supply stores, or you can go to your crafts store and see if they have them in stock. Aside from creative cropping, you can use these decorative scissors to trim the borders of cardstock, frames, etc. in a variety of shapes.

Special occasions or events can be exceptions to the “straight edge” rule. For example, when you’re creating a page for Valentine’s Day, you can be forgiven for cropping your photographs in heart shapes of different sizes. When you want to crop your photos like these, I suggest using a cookie cutter as a template to get the desired shapes that you want. Trace the photo using the cookie cutter and mount it on cardstock. The cardstock can also be cropped or shaped in this way if you prefer. Using cookie cutters for this purpose can be a lot less expensive than buying die cut embellishments, especially when you’re using them for just one event or occasion.

Aside from a straight edge crop, there are lots of scrapbookers who vary their styles and use a few other shapes, like an oval and a square. A round or oval shape is quite difficult to produce precisely, especially for beginners, so I would recommend that you buy some templates. Using templates for cropping your photos will let you produce clean, smooth results again and again, with less effort than you might expect.

However, templates can be a bit expensive, so I suggest that you stick with two or three basic shapes. Avoid buying the other specialized template shapes, because even though you think they look “cute” now, there are not too many projects or photographs where you can use “heart” or “Christmas tree” templates.

The one type of photograph that you must never crop is the Polaroid photo. Photographs taken with a Polaroid camera contain a type of chemical inside the paper itself, so when you crop or trim these photos in any way whatsoever, you run the risk of having the chemical leak out and destroy the other photos on your page. There are other ways to attach and display Polaroid photos, such as using photo corners to mount them on the page, or attaching pocket sleeves on the scrapbook page and then inserting the photos inside the sleeves.

Remember, though, that even if we’re talking about cropping your photos now, there are some pictures that look great just the way they are. Don’t get trigger-happy with your scissors and take some time to analyze each photograph. Look at the photo and try to understand what it is in that particular image that grabs your attention; what the main subject is trying to tell you. Is the background distracting you, or does it add more to the story? Would it work better with a different shape, or is it just fine the way it is right now?

You should crop your photographs depending on the layout and the project, but don’t go around thinking that all photos should be cropped. When you do decide to crop, you can try using special shapes and different sizes, but remember that working with a clean, straight edge will produce the best results at all times.