40th Year Project: Part 6

by Wendy Copley on November 18, 2013


A few years ago when I turned 39, I decided it was time for a big, self-absorbed scrapbooking project. I usually scrapbook about my kids, our family or the things we do, but this baby was going to be all about me. I bought a special album in a color I loved and filled it with divided page protectors so I could work on it here and there without worrying about making big 12 x 12 inch pages.

I worked on it diligently for a few months, slipping photos in the big pockets and writing stories on 3 x 4 inch cards and putting them in the smaller pockets. I also spent some time digging through boxes of old papers and slipping bits and bobs into the pages. But part-way through the year I started writing my book and everything extra in my life had to be put on hold so I dropped this project like a hot potato.

A few weekends ago I decided to pick it back up though and I thought I would share what I’ve added recently.

Up at the top, you’ll see:

  • a photo of me and Augie playing in snow that was carted in to a parking lot here in Berkeley.
  • a pair of pinhole glasses my dad made me after I broke my real glasses at a B52’s concert in high school
  • a note about how much I loved the Encyclopedia Brown books as a kid.
  • some cool Wonder Woman art — I love Wonder Woman.
  • a photo Wyatt took of me trying on a Thor helmet at Target. My maiden name is Thorpe, so I’ve always had a soft spot for Thor — even before I saw Mr. Hubba Hubba in the movies!
  • a note I wrote to my friend Cathy in high school, folded in the classic style. I’m not sure why I have the note and Cathy doesn’t, but I’m guessing I didn’t have an opportunity to pass it to her without getting busted by the teacher. It is full of talk about being bored in class, boy craziness, my upcoming 16th birthday party and a few mean comments about kids in my class.
  • proof that I was a card-carrying thespian in high school
  • a photo of me post-college with one of my Mills College besties, Alexis. Note the baby doll dress and thick-soled mary janes I’m wearing!

40th Year Part 6

The next page is probably the first scrapbook page I ever made. The photo above shows the front and back sides. I made it during the height of the Cabbage Patch Kids frenzy and it included the papers that came in one of my doll’s boxes, cute stickers and articles about Cabbage Patch Kids that I clipped from the newspaper. I also slipped in a photo I took of my beloved dolls who’s names were Ian something and Aimee Meghan. Amy Meghan was the first one I got and she is the doll that is dear to me. I got her the year people were stampeding  and slugging each other for them because my Grandma was a manager at K-Mart and she nabbed one of the four dolls that came in to their store for me as soon as the shipment arrived.


The next page shows:

  • a napkin and a story about my high school visit to the Hard Rock Cafe in New Orleans. Richard Marx came in while we were eating and I was so excited.
  • a blurry photo of my girlfriends at a jr. high party.
  • a picture I drew of my iPhone.
  • a photo of me flashing the peace sign my junior year of high school
  • another photo of me with my friend Sara in high school. We took it in a photo booth and chopped it up to share it.
  • another photo of me with braids on vacation.
  • a Poloroid of Zach and I at Burning Man in 1999. You can’t really see it in the photo above but his hair is green and mine is pink.

photo booth photo of Sara and Wendy

I have to share a bigger version of that photo booth photo too because I think we look super cool in it. Those round glasses and the Heisenberg hat are just amazing and the height of 1990 alterna-girl fashion!


Next up:

  • a photo of Zach looking super hot from just before or just after we were married.
  • a post card from a dive bar near our house.
  • a couple tickets from friends and family screenings of Pixar movies. One of my family members works there and we love it when he invites us to see the movies in the Pixar theater.
  • a picture of a typewriter that I made on my typewriter
  • a photo of me with a cactus. I took this in the airport parking lot on a trip to Tucson because I was so excited to see a saguaro cactus in real life.


Next is a page I made with some school awards. There is one from 4th grade when I won the “Most Creative” award for my Island of the Blue Dolphins diorama. Another that my 6th grade teacher gave me for finishing the March of Dimes walk-a-thon even though I felt horrible and wanted to quit. And finally, the card and newspaper mention I received for making it into the National Honor Society.


Last but not least is this page of ticket stubs I’ve saved through the years. Some highlights include: Duran Duran, the St. Louis arch, Les Miserables, and a ton of high school plays.

I’m so excited to have come back to this project! It’s fun to take a little time to focus on myself and my own memories instead of constantly devoting all my attention to my kids.

How do you record memories from your life?

Interested in seeing more of this project? Check out these other posts:

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  • Kristyn Johnson Gish

    Such a good idea. I do Project Life and it is mainly about my son, but I have been trying to get more stuff about me in it as well. The hubby doesn’t seem to care one way or the other if he gets any extra space. I only wish digital cameras were around when I was younger, it would of been so cool to see the things I thought were exciting back then. We all would have more pictures of ourselves and friends for sure!!

  • Guest

    I love this project! I may borrow the idea for myself. I’ve also been following your blog for about a year now. This is my first comment.
    What brought me to write is that I too turned 40 recently. I’m from Seattle. When I was on vacation with my family in New Orleans, circa 1990, Richard Marx came in! I too was super excited. How often would we have frequented the place?? Could you and I have been there at the same time?!?! What a Small World!!

  • Marci Villanueva

    I love this project! I may borrow the idea for myself. I’ve also been following your blog for about a year now. This is my first comment.

    What brought me to write is that I too turned 40 recently. I’m from Seattle. When I was on vacation with my family in New Orleans, circa 1990, Richard Marx came in to the Hard Rock while we were there! I too was super excited. How often would we have frequented the place?? Could you and I have been there at the same time?!?! What a Small World!!

  • Elizabeth Woods

    Woman, you have rocked my world! I just discovered your 40th project on this past Saturday. I am currently in a place, yes turning 40, where I want to document my history. My project has been a non-starter, because I can’t decide where to start! First I was just going to start at birth through high school in a photobook, that didn’t happen. Then I was going to go by decade, starting with 2002, in a photobook, that didn’t happen either. I LOVE the freedom you’ve created by just doing what you feel like doing, when you feel like doing it. I keep trying to do photobooks because they’re smaller and easy to share, but honestly the pocket pages allow for something to be done and viewed quickly, leading to the awesome feeling of accomplishment.

    I will say I am still struggling with the idea of no grouping by date or event, hey I am a Librarian!

  • WHAT?! NO WAY!! I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure this trip was the summer of 1988 (possibly ’89). Could that have been when you were there too? That would be so weird if we were both in the restaurant at the same time. You’re blowing my mind, lady!

  • Sister, I feel you on the lack of organization! Believe me, it took this Virgo awhile to come to terms with any kind of scrapbooking that isn’t structured around chronology. But I’m really glad I finally got past it because it’s made the difference between me doing this project versus just thinking about doing this project. The big issue for me with this sort of scrapbook is that my different memories come back to me piecemeal and in no particular order. If I were to use a photo book for this project, I would be collecting memories for years, then organizing them and then — finally — printing the book. This way, I can knock out a few pages at a time then put the book on the shelf for a few months (or years) and the book feels like it’s a whole thing. When I decide to come back and add to it, the new pages can just be slipped into the back and it still feels cohesive. And if I get sick of working on it, I can quit at any time without the worry that I never got to my high school years or my mid-20’s or whatever because I’ve already got something from almost every period of my life in there.

  • Marci Villanueva

    OK, I emailed my parents. They said we vacationed in New Orleans the Summer of 88 and 89! None of us remember which Summer we saw Richard. I do remember waiting for a table at the Hard Rock when he walked in. He was seated with his group in a section of the restaurant that was slightly elevated, by maybe two steps. His chair was right next to a railing that he could lean his arm on. I loved him at the time and I immediately jumped up to go get his autograph. Despite my determination I was still a bit apprehensive to approach. I noticed another girl about my age that had the same look in her eyes. I said to her “Lets go.” So we both walked up the the railing that he was leaning on. I was the first in the restaurant to get his autograph, the girl was next. Form then on he had a long line for autographs. Any of that sound familiar?? I suspect we were there at the same time! Too funny!

  • Yes! That all sounds exactly like what I remember!! I’m almost certain we were there at the same time. I was too chicken to ask for an autograph though. 🙂

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