Making Matters: Crafty Confessions

I recently signed up for Jennifer Priest's (of Hydrangea Hippo) latest project called Making Matters. She is offering a weekly email newsletter intended to inspire people to make and create, with ideas covering everything from "creating a space you love to make in to shopping for craft supplies in a different way to challenges to make from the resources you already have."

The first prompt arrived today, and I thought I would blog about it. The theme is Crafty Confessions: "this week is all about being super truthful with yourself about what your biggest challenges are when crafting...Whatever things interfere with your ability to be creative, identify those and write them down."

  1. While I do create projects for my Etsy shop, and did make a few things for Christmas, I still struggle with feeling like I'm letting my "crafting superpowers" go to waste. I let the fact that I work full-time, have a family, and want to exercise take precedence over being creative. 
  2. Working full-time seriously cramps my crafting time. I mean, I have to go to work EVERY DAY and stuff. Bummer.
  3. Speaking of my Etsy shop, I let crafting for profit overshadow crafting for fun. I often feel like the time I do spend crafting should be "productive" (read: profitable).
  4. I let my perfectionist nature dictate whether I even try new techniques or crafts. If I don't think something will turn out well, I don't do it. Which is ridiculous - there are so many crafts I really do want to try. But because my time is limited, and reason #2 (wanting to feel "productive"), I often stick with things I know I'm good at. In 2015, I want to try more new things and feel ok when they don't turn out great at first, and not worry about "wasting" supplies on trying new things.
  5. My craft room is my personal dungeon. I hate even going down there. I have too much stuff and feel completely overwhelmed by what to do with it. I know I have bought multiples of things because I couldn't find the first set. It's very hard to feel inspired to create when your creative space zaps your mojo before you even start a project! So often I have been sorely tempted to just donate everything without even looking through it, just to clear the space. Seriously - here's a picture I should be ashamed to share, but maybe you can relate:

    Cluttered craft desk

  6. Related to #4, I think I have hoarding tendencies. I have so much product still from when I was teaching scrapbooking, over 10 years ago now. Product never opened, but held onto because I'm sure I'll *need* it at some point, and how would I feel if I needed it, and didn't have it?? How could I possibly go on? I need to let go of that mentality AND the STUFF. I did make strides in that direction a couple of months ago when I donated two huge totes of scrapbooking supplies to a support group for 10- to 12-year-old boys at a grieving center for children and families - now THERE'S a good use for those supplies gathering dust in my dungeon! I've already prepped a bag of punches to donate next.
  7. I am currently struggling with The Next Big Thing. I've written four books, traveled around the US to teach classes, even gave a keynote to 1500 people. But I'm not sure what's next for me. I know I love crafting, and I'm good at it, but don't have a clear purpose or path. And it weighs on me. But I do know that I am open to possibilities.

I haven't always subscribed to (or followed through with) the One Little Word movement, but maybe this year's One Little Word should be "open" - open to letting go, open to trying new things, open to making messes and mistakes. Open to possibilities. Thanks to Jennifer and Making Matters for *opening* my eyes to that!

  Be open frame

Digi-scrap credit: Aug20 Freebie frame 1 by Leora Sanford; Fonts: Toreador & Amertype


Weight Loss Reality Check

CookBook

I had my 10th weigh-in at Weight Watchers today, and am down 1.6 pounds since before Christmas, for a total of 4.6 pounds since...October. Not exactly burning up the scales.

I keep my WW membership booklet/weight record in a little carrying case, and as I was putting my guide away after weigh-in today, I noticed/remembered that I have kept all my booklets from each time I have re/joined WW. I got them all out and looked through them, noting how many years - and pounds - had passed. Therein lay some significant, sobering truths.

To further impress upon myself these truths, I created an Excel spreadsheet to map out my weight loss journey. It ain't pretty.

  • I've joined WW 12 times, the first time in January 1999. So pretty much every year, I try again.
  • I've lost weight each time - proving I *CAN* be successful, when I stick with the program.
  • The first time I lost a total of 25.6 pounds, and was 13 pounds from goal.
  • The first time I was a member for 17 weeks, the longest I have ever stayed on the program.
  • I've also gained the lost weight back nearly every time I stopped attending meeting/unsubscribed from the program.
  • I gained back 24 of those first 25 pounds lost in 5 months, after going off program.
  • Three times I have stopped going after the 10th week. Interesting I discover this on my 10th week on the program this time around.
  • In the 12 years since I started WW, I've lost 90 pounds, but since I also gain it back, then lose some, then gain more, am currently just 10 pounds lighter than when I started back in 1999.

I don't need any celebrity trainer to berate me on national television to force me to face reality - these numbers tell the story just as coldly.

Bottom line - I have wasted YEARS and HUNDREDS of dollars by going and quitting and going back again. If I'm going to DO THIS and stop wasting my time, I need to PAY ATTENTION and really do this. I need to do my food journal every day, drink more water, and move more. For realz.

Who's with me?

[photo credit: MCScola]


7 Family Things for which I am Thankful

As mentioned in this post, this week I'm writing about Things for which I am Thankful*. Today's installment of thankful thoughts centers around things related to family.

  1. I am thankful to be married to the perfect man (for me).  He may not be perfect (who is??), but he's perfect for me.  We have a similar sense of humor, similar values & priorities, and similar tastes in entertainment and home decor.  All of the above have helped us stay strong for nearly 17 married years now - that and the fact that we've only tried to wallpaper together once.  That's a guaranteed marriage-buster right there - heed my words, newlyweds!

  2. I am thankful for my great kids.  Everyone says they have great kids, but I can say it with pride and confidence.  I'm not saying they don't give us a single moment's trouble, but our moments are pretty rare, and mild.  They are continuing blessings in my life - we enjoy our time together as a family.

  3. I am grateful for the many things we do together as a family - the four of us gather most nights for dinner, whether around the dinner table, or while enjoying one of "our" shows.  I cherish the times we watch shows or movies together, and am grateful we can usually decide what to watch together fairly quickly.

  4. I am thankful my parents and brother live here in Kansas City - it makes holidays much easier to coordinate, and and family get-togethers more frequent.  Not to mention, they're just generally nice to have around.

  5. I am thankful my in-laws also live here in town, and that I get along with them beautifully.  We generally see them several times a month, and I just can't imagine what those times would be like if we weren't so fond of each other.

  6. I am thankful my parents and in-laws are so involved in my children's lives.  They frequently attend school functions, and often take my kids to various appointments when we're at work.  The convenience factor is high and welcome, but I also appreciate the time that gives them with the kids.  I grew up with my grandparents three and four hours away, and saw them only for holidays and birthdays.  My kids know their grandparents as people, and that is a blessing for everyone involved.

  7. I am grateful my grandmother is still with us, and living here in Kansas City too.  She turned 90 this year, and can still be counted on for a quippy comment and some good stories.  She is a blessing at nearly every family gathering.

What are your family blessings?  It's time to count them!

* While grammatically correct, I realize this series title doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.  I'm open to suggestions. :)

6 Mom Things for which I am Thankful

As mentioned in this post, this week I'm writing about Things for which I am Thankful*. Today's installment of thankful thoughts centers around things related to motherhood.

As a mother, I am obviously thankful for my kids - I have a teen son and a pre-teen daughter.  They're just good kids - fun, funny, smart, outgoing, polite, helpful, caring, friendly... basically what you'd expect from the best kids on the planet.  I hear heart-wrenching parenting stories from friends and co-workers, and know I've got it pretty good with my kids. 

For this post, I thought I would list things that have helped me be a better mother, and have helped make life a bit easier.

  1. I'm grateful for all the classes I took in early childhood education in high school and college.  Understanding the different stages of child development and discipline techniques made all the difference when the kids were young.  (Of course, once they passed age 6, I was just as in the dark as every other parent, but those first six years of false confidence were great!)

  2. Also when the kids were young, I was newly connected to the Internet via AOL, and spent a lot of time in the Moms Online forum.  As a new transplant to St Louis at the time, I didn't have many friends in my new home, so it was so helpful to have a place to go when I had questions or needed to vent.  Now message boards and chats are much more prevalent and accessible, but just as useful for parents 'displaced' from local support networks.

  3. I was active in a Moms & Tots Activity club when the kids were in preschool - it was a local group of mothers that met several times a month to do fun things together, like play areas, pumpkin patches, apple picking, hayrides, and other family-friendly activities.  I was grateful at the time for the availability of an organized group that sought out and coordinated all these activities, and am grateful now to still be in contact with friends I made in the group.  Our kids are now preteens/teens, so our time together is much more Girls-Night-Out oriented, which works well for me.

  4. I'm thankful I got to stay at home with my kids when they were young, so we had the time and opportunity to go on said fun outings.  I'm so grateful that I was there for so many of their young moments of discovery and adventure, like blowing bubbles and shaving cream in the bathtub and countless visits to what my son called "castle park". I did work on and off as a administrative assistant temp to help out with finances, but stayed home for most of the first three years with both of them.  I like to think knowing I was there and available for them made a difference in the relationship we have today.

  5. I'm thankful my mother and mother-in-law live close by, and that I have a good relationship with both of them.  It's rare that a week goes by that I don't call one of them with one question or another, whether cooking, sewing, cleaning, or health-related.  Moms rock for knowing little things about life like that.  They are such a blessing of an informational resource (and just, well, you know, being a blessing as a part of our family and all that).

  6. Over the course of my "career" as a mother, I've read a lot to improve my efficiency and efficacy as a parent and homemaker (ok, I lie - there were days I desperately sought out anything that would help me get through the day - you know the kind of day I'm talking about...) Some books that helped me were What to Expect When You're Expecting, What to Expect the First Year, Sidetracked Home Executives, The Happiness File (out of print), Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, and Confessions of a Happily Organized Family.  I also enjoyed subscriptions to Family Fun and Parents magazines, and made sure to always have a copy of local-centric Mother & Child Reunion handy.

See the rest of my gratitude series here.

* While grammatically correct, I realize this series title doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.  I'm open to suggestions. :)


8 Kansas City Things for which I am Thankful

As mentioned in this post, this week I'm writing about Things for which I am Thankful*. Today's installment of thankful thoughts centers around things related to my hometown, Kansas City.

  1. Kansas City BBQ - My personal favorite is Hayward's at 119th & Antioch, though I have been known to partake of Zarda's, Gate's, and Jackstack. I love that BBQ is so readily available all over the city, all with slightly different flavors, yet all still very Kansas City.

  2. The people - people are, for the most part, just generally nice here.  I've lived in several other cities, all in the Midwest, and visited other parts of the country, but like the people here best.

  3. The Social Media scene - Kansas City boasts a savvy community active in social media. We have our own chapter of the Social Media Club, and hosted a Chicks Who Click conference earlier this year. Various locally-based ad/marketing agencies specialize in social media tools, and are creating exciting, innovative projects (see VML and Sullivan Higdon & Sink, among others). You can check out some of these movers and shakers on my Twitter/Kansas City list.

  4. I-435 can get you just about anywhere - while I realize this isn't exactly true, it's generally true for me. I spend hours each week on I-435 during my 23-minute commute, but am grateful I don't have to take back roads to get into the "city" (which are actually suburbs).I can get just about anywhere I need to in about 20 minutes.

  5. The Crafty scene - while we have seen a painful decline in scrapbooking stores in KC, other crafty retailers seem to be doing well, and offer interesting, inspirational projects and classes. I particularly like Harper's Fabrics in downtown Overland Park, and Urban Arts + Crafts in North KC. And The Studio on the Plaza offers great knitting classes in a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. And don't think scrapbooking is entirely off the map here - The Scrapbook Page in Shawnee is top-notch, offering an impressive class schedule and customer service which makes them stand out from the 'box' stores. I am also grateful I have two unique groups of women to do crafty things with. My group of scrapbooking friends has been meeting quasi-monthly for nearly 10 years now, and comprises my closest friends. Discussion topics 'round the cropping table are wide and varied, providing a sounding board I don't have anywhere else. I'm a relative newcomer to my knitting group (I think it's been a year), but I've come to count on our meetings for knitty-yarny goodness and inspiration.

  6. Fall - While it's not Door County, Wisconsin, or the Ozarks, Fall is pretty here.  The leaves change color beautifully, and the snap in the air is quite tolerable.  Just chilly enough to make you put on something comfy and cozy that you probably wanted to put on anyway.

  7. Education - while some school districts in the metro area aren't what you might call 'stellar', mine is. We've been very pleased with the education our children have received/are receiving, and the encouragement they've received from multiple teachers. I've been really impressed with the Gifted/Advanced Studies and Debate programs specifically, and look forward to future experiences with the Band program. I also like that Kansas City offers a variety of options for post-secondary education. There are multiple community colleges, as well as public and private universities, and regents centers for other universities. UMKC hosts a "Communiversity" that offers community education classes, led by members of the community. Kansas City is a city that appears to value learning, and I like being a part of that.

  8. My family is here - My husband and I both grew up here, and both sets of parents still live in the area. My kids have grown up with their grandparents as an intimate part of their lives. Our parents are built-in babysitters and unconditional cheerleaders, and we are indeed blessed to have them so close at hand. I realize not everyone has that luxury, and I am grateful for it.
* While grammatically correct, I realize this series title doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.  I'm open to suggestions. :)

10 Geeky Things for which I am Thankful

During this week of (American) Thanksgiving, I proclaim my gratitude for the following Geeky things:

  1. Even while the wound is still fresh from the cancellation of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, there is still hope in the Jossverse.

  2. Star Trek XI is out on DVD.

  3. Chuck returns 1/1/10.

  4. When one is both geeky and crafty, one can make cunning hats like this one. (I've made two)

  5. There is a veritable bevy of tech-savvy women out there, some whose works I've been following for years.  I am thankful for the inspiration they provide daily.  Some of my geek-girl crushes include Kim Dushinski, Heidi Miller, The Blog Squad, Lynette Young, Jessica Sprague, Linda Sattgast, Lorelle VanFossen, Zena Weist, Connie Bensen, Gina Trapani, Renee Pearson, Amy Edwards, & Margie Lundy.

  6. Considering said bevy of geeky women, there are unique networking events just for them, like She's Geeky, Geek Girl Dinners, and BlogHer.

  7. Twitter

  8. Sites like Amazon, Jinx! and ThinkGeek make one-stop holiday shopping

  9. Blogging - a forum which allows me to write, even when no one pays me for it, or even particularly cares to read it.

  10. mp3 players (I love my Sansa Fuze, especially for audiobooks)

  11. font websites like DaFont.com and 1001Fonts.com.  I also enjoy the Creative Characters newsletter by MyFonts.com.

  12. ...and my most favorite geeky things of all - my husband, daughter, and son.  Between gaming, comics/manga/anime, sci-fi/fantasy, debate, band, and IT, they have pretty much every geek category covered.  Geeks to the core, every one of them, and I <3 them.


Scrapbooking Simplified

Busyscrapper-courtneywalsh F+W Marketing Manager Ginger Rohlfs recently sent me Courtney Walsh's new book, The Busy Scrapper, to review.  And the book has me thinking.

While I'm only on page 36 (of 128) so I can't offer a real review at this point, I wanted to comment on what I've read so far.

Courtney's tips encouraged me to consider why I don't scrapbook often.  Sure, one reason is *probably* being disorganized and not being able to see the worktable surface in my scraproom/office.  Another reason is undoubtedly time - a full-time job, two kids, a husband, and a horse of a dog do eat up most of my waking hours.  But another reason, I'll freely admit, is self-paralysis.  I know many people suffer from this, in various forms, and not just related to scrapbooking.

The self-paralysis has to do with expectations and assumptions, I think.  Assuming that you have to do something a certain way, and all at one sitting.  Assuming that your results should turn out as well as someone else's.  Expecting those results to be just-so.  Expecting everything to go smoothly in each step of the process.  And honey, that's just not the way Real Life is.  Whether we're talking about scrapbooking, or knitting, or organizing your closet, or dealing with co-workers.

OK - end Life Lesson.  Paging through Courtney's book has me excited about scrapbooking again.  Has me thinking, "I can *do* this!" Because her tips and comments are empowering, yes, but also reminders that have the ability to slap you upside the head, even in their simplicity.

Like this tip from the Making Art Faster chapter...

Continue reading "Scrapbooking Simplified" »


Do You Suffer from "Memory Clutter"?

Very interesting post on Letting go of memory clutter at Meredith Mathews' My Lemonade Stand blog.

Peter says “memory clutter” is a more common problem than most people realize. I confess that my own weakness for clutter involves the sentiment of objects, where I find myself struggling to let go of trinkets and souvenirs merely for how seeing, touching and holding them reminds me of my past, places I have been, and people I have loved and lost.

“People are terrified that if they let go of the objects, they will lose the memory,” Peter says. Jenny and Steve say they have that exact fear. “If we get rid of this piece of paper that he touched, well, there goes Jake along with it,” Steve says.

Clearing the emotional clutter will help better preserve the memory of a lost loved one. It helps to keep your emotions about the loss in a healthy place, rather than maintaining a shrine of what once was. Living in the past in that manner is not healthy for any individual and stifling for a family.

I am slowly working through de-cluttering most of my house.  It's absolutely mind-boggling to me how much cr@p there is in our house!  School papers alone could bury us alive, I think.  And with those school papers, so many little essays on thick-lined manuscript paper and color drawings of invented creatures.  With a 13yo and a 9yo, art from a kindergartener is instant nostalgia time.  I need to have a scanning party and just get rid of most of it.  Or maybe I'll do like Katie did and send it off to ScanMyPhotos.  Might be worth it.

Nostalgia is one of the hardest things about de-cluttering, I think - that and the mindset of "I might use this someday," and its cousin, "this is still perfectly good!"  But the clutter is to a point that it's overwhelming my brain and personal peace.  So bit by bit it's out of here.  Good riddance.  But if something really inspires a strong bout of nostalgia, I plan to scan it or take a picture, then get rid of it (for the most part).

 

My 'extra' scrapbooking supplies?  Boxes and boxes worth?  I'm planning to drop those at a local Children's Mercy Hospital for craft goodies.  I'm sure they could care less that they're "old school", or even that they're archival safe.  I just hope they have fun with them.  :)

So!  Do you suffer from Memory Clutter?


Finding Your Place

I never fail to find inspiration from reading Melody Ross' blog.  Check out these recent deep thoughts from Melody's Sofa:

If you planted an acorn.... you would never, ever, EVER get an apple tree.

...many a girl (including me) has spent hours and days and years trying to be an apple tree or an almond tree or a pine tree or a palm tree.........when she started out as an acorn.....and, IF ONLY she would figure it out, and then embrace it.......she could understand, enjoy and thrive at being a beautiful, strong, enduring oak tree, and she would bless so many and affect so much if she stopped wasting time trying to be something else....if she'd focus on growing into the blueprint in that acorn.....and if a girl who started out as an apple seed begs, pleads, studies & pays-for all sorts of lotions, potions and techniques to become an oak tree......she'll just spend her whole life frustrated AND waste a whole lot of beautiful apples, too.

WHY do we do this to ourselves?

That's quantum-change level of thinking, there - for me anyway.  What IF you work really hard, and are really determined, and are a generally good person, but are barreling along on the wrong path?  I've hit my head on enough walls to know what the wrong path feels like, trying to force a square peg in a round hole.  The apple-tree-from-an-acorn metaphor is striking -- the concept that no matter how hard you work at this wrong thing, it just ain't gonna work.

She quotes from Max Lucado's Cure for the Common Life:

"The Author of the human drama entrusted your part to you alone. Live your life, or it won't be lived. We need you to be you.

YOU need to be you.

You can't be your hero, your parent, or your big brother. You might imitate their golf swing or hair style, but you can't be them. You can only be you. All you have to give is what you've been given to give. Concentrate on who you are and what you have. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life."

This concept of exploring and identifying one's own unique gifts is what led me to create my Book of Me.  I wholeheartedly embrace that idea, and have encouraged many, many others to do the same.  Yet it seems I still suffer, right along with the rest of you, from the apple-tree-from-an-acorn way of life.  Something hasn't been sinking in deep enough somewhere.

I've actually been working on this, well, for the past year, really.  I started offering marketing consulting and writing services through Scrappy Marketing Solutions.  I've been successful, and have been able to work with and help some really neat people in the industry.  But there has sometimes been the feeling of fighting too hard to find new clients, and convince them that marketing is a worthwhile investment.  It's exhausting.  So I've been re-evaluating what I like most about what I do, and it's the writing.  It really always has been.  So that's what I'm going to focus on.  I may write about marketing concepts (in fact, I know I will, in upcoming issues of Memorytrends magazine), I may write about journaling topics, I may write about writing, I may write about blogging, I may write about parenting.  I need to un-niche myself a bit, and just be more open to writing in general, I think.  And let the joy glow.

I love how Melody closed her post:

Be exactly who you are....and be even more of that tomorrow......
You are just right.....

(deep cleansing breath)  What strength and comfort there is in that.  Thanks for the heads up, as well as the reminder, Melody.

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Scrapbooking: An Attitude of Abundance

Scrapbooking.  Like many others, ours is a competitive industry.  There are only so many spots available on a design team, only so many layouts chosen for publication, only one chance to be first with a product innovation.  Some manufacturers steal ideas from others and race to the presses.  Some designers CASE (copy-and-steal-everything) layouts in online galleries and submit them as their own.  Knowing all this has led some in our numbers to be stingy in their sharing -- sharing resources, ideas, contact names, and industry 'scoops' that might help someone else get ahead.

But I think there's room to share.  There's room to make someone else's path a little easier, just because it's the good and right thing to do.  I'm not saying to give everything away for free, or that approaching your work as a business is wrong.  Hardly that.

Just this week I passed along some submission opportunities to friends because I knew they were a good fit.  One of them was even about submitting creativity/journaling prompts -- totally "my" thing.  But just because I'm good at it, and have been successful doesn't mean there isn't room for someone else to share her ideas too.

Here -- I'll share the two opportunities with you too.

Memory Makers magazine is now including creativity prompts in a new calendar section of
the magazine. For example, the prompt for National Handwriting Day (January 23) is "Add a personal, authentic touch to a layout -- use handwritten journaling."

Send your idea prompts, to editorial/at/memorymakersmagazine.com with "Creativity Prompts" as the subject line. Idea starters can be associated with a certain day like National Handwriting Day or just a great stand-alone idea that gets your creativity flowing any time of the year.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking submissions for an upcoming title: 101 Stories for the PARENTS of a Child with a Disability

Do you have heart-warming, insightful and powerfully moving stories about what life has taught you and how to live life to its fullest? The authors of the New York Times Best-selling book series Chicken Soup for the Soul are currently seeking stories to be included in a new book tentatively titled Chicken Soup for the Soul with Special Needs: 101 heartwarming, helpful, healing stories that offer inspiration and promise surrounding the lives of special needs individuals. Through these stories, the readers learn how others facing similar challenges can learn to overcome the many obstacles they have.  They do this by connecting with emotions in the real life experience by learning they can choose peace and happiness in each situation regardless of how challenging it appears from the outside.  Now you have an opportunity to contribute to this new series by sharing your strength, insights, knowledge and wisdom.  The deadline date for story submissions is December 31, 2006. For more information and to submit your story, visit http://www.chickensoup.com/

My point is...There's room to share.  Share your resources, stories, ideas, and wisdom.  By helping someone on their path to success, you often help yourself.  Call it the Law of Attraction, the "Secret", Karma, Paying it Forward, or whatever -- help someone else and it will come back to you.  As you interact with other people, in the scrapbooking industry or outside of it, come to them from a place of abundance.  Share what you have, and be gracious and grateful for what other share with you.  There's plenty of pie to go around -- whether it's pumpkin or scrapbooking.

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