A Sadness Lifted

I didn't plan on going to the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) trade show, but My Craft Channel called me at the last minute to see if I'd fill in for someone who fell ill. To be honest, I wanted to say no. I wanted to keep my distance. If you've ever lost a job, you know it messes with your confidence, no matter what the reasons are for that job going away. And my heart still hurts from the sting of losing my job with Creating Keepsakes, so I just couldn't see myself facing the CHA environment just yet, as lovely as I know it to be.

But something told me to go. To take Kristine Mckay up on her kind offer, hop an airplane, and make my way to sunny So. Cal. Oh, how glad I am that I did.

This trip helped me come to a very powerful realization. 

My sadness is not crafting.

It's not the scrapbooking industry. It's an isolated sadness. A heavy sadness that comes from missing my dream job. Missing the friends I was lucky enough to call coworkers. Missing the position of creative editor that I climbed the ranks for years to achieve. Missing Creating Keepsakes magazine and it's INCREDIBLE readers. 

My sadness is NOT creativity. 

As simple as this sounds, I did not realize it before this trip to CHA. I was confusing the two. I was feeling done with the entire scrapbooking industry. Tormented about the desire I felt to hang up my crafty cap and look at other career moves. I had plans to stay in the industry, but my heart didn't feel in any of it. It felt more as if I was going through the motions because that's what was expected of me. 

You know what brought me clarity? The people! My friends. Amazing business owners, crafters, bloggers, and other immensely talented professionals who I've come to call friends over the years. That's what happens after a decade working in this industry. 

Suddenly a convention center FULL of people becomes a building full of faces you know and love. Faces you respect and admire. Faces you long to see. 

My journey of self discovery (if you want to go so far as to call it that) started at the hotel lobby upon check-in. There she was: Ms. Charlet Mallett—a former coworker and friend of mine from the Stampin' Up! days. Seeing her sweet face made my nervous heart calm a bit. Feel a bit safer and more comfortable in these unsteady waters.

Then I hit the show floor. And there, at the first booth we hit, was Sharon Laakkonen—one of the beautiful Prima faces and someone I've also known for many, many years. Her advice to me set the stage for this show. She told me to walk with my head held high. She told me that I deserved to be there just as much as the next person and that I had nothing to fear. I didn't exactly believe her, but I took her advice, put my uneasy head up, and made my way through the show.

Sharon, or "Shannon," as I'm known to say when the camera jitters set it. Thanks for the lovely advice, friend. I'm so glad our paths crossed first. You're as wise as you are talented! 

And you know what? Holding my head up helped. 

I started seeing more faces I knew and loved. More smiles. More friends to embrace. I also started seeing the glorious products surrounding me. The crafting treats that make my creative heart pitter patter. And that's just what happened. My heart jolted. I felt drawn to product lines in a way I haven't felt in a long time. Either this was a REALLY good show or I was just out from behind my slump. Or perhaps it was a little of both. Either way, I'll take it. 

As the day progressed, I continued to encounter friends who seemed sincerely happy to see me. Friends who offered encouraging words, warm hugs, and happy hearts. Friends who shared in my sadness for CK, but who also felt like great things were waiting ahead. 

How cool is this? Christa here remembers me from a class I taught her back in 2009. She has been a strong supporter of mine ever since. This was her first CHA, and I'm so happy I could be a part of it with her. Great seeing you again, Christa! Thank  you for stopping me with your friendly hello!

I felt like my creative soul was truly awakening for the first time since losing my job last fall. I felt alive and happy. Inspired and energized. I felt good.

So, I write this post to thank the many beautiful friends who made this journey the positive experience it was. It's because of you that I sit here today, a happier and more content person than I was a week ago. 

Words can't begin to express the way I feel about this girl. The fun we have when we get together can't be beat, and she's always been one of my best cheerleaders. So, so happy to know Miss Kelly Purkey! 

I also want to thank my friends at My Craft Channel for making this journey possible—Kristine, Dan, and Lori. You rock. Thanks for believing in me. It means more than words can express. 

Most of all, I must thank Brian, my camera guy and all-around partner in crime at the show. We met for the first time at the airport and became fast friends. He put up with my insanity. If you've ever walked a trade show with me, you know it's not the easiest of tasks, but he never made even the slightest indicator that he wanted off the ride. Instead, he cheered me on and helped me believe in my ability to do a good job. What a lucky gal I was to share his company on this journey.

Brian Makanoa—one cool cat and crazy-talented photog!

I suppose this all seems a bit over the top, but it's coming from my grateful heart and I couldn't go to bed without sharing these words. I feel blessed, and I thank all of you in this magnificent industry for making me feel this way. CHA was a wonderful adventure, and I can't wait to share more about it with you soon. But this post is strictly to say thank you. Thank you to the friendly faces of the crafting industry who make my life more complete. I adore knowing you!

From my heart,

Oh dear. Certainly not my finest hour, but we had fun. Thanks for putting up with my shenanigans, Summer Fullerton (and friends). 

Sweet Cynthea and I are almost family. Literally. See, my sis-in-law's husband is Cynthea's bro-in-law. Close enough for me to consider her a member of the fam. ;) 

Cute Ashley jumped booths and, as she put it, "ditched Kelly Purkey" to see me. Only temporarily, of course, as it's nearly impossible to leave cute KP's side. But I sure appreciated the gesture and her incredible enthusiasm. We both have young girls at home, so there's always much to talk about when we get together. 

This lovely lady knows her stuff when it comes to trends, and it's always such fun to chat with her. While we've only known each other for a year, I feel as if we're long lost friends thanks to Instagram, where we regularly connect. 
A stop at Teresa Collins' booth always means an uplifting word and a smile. She's so kind. As is her equally adorable booth cohort, Cheri. Not only did they offer me delicious black licorice from another country (yum!), but Cheri was kind enough to be on tooth patrol afterwards to make sure I didn't have a black grill before filming. Thanks, girls!
Though there was a time when Tanya Fox and I worked for competing magazines, she with Cardmaker Mag and I with Paper Crafts mag, we've never been anything but friends. We first started working together when I was in PR for Stampin' Up! and our relationship has maintained over the years. Now I'm super excited to be working with her on a few special projects. How fun! 

If you know Suzy Plantamura, you know there is nobody in the world quite like her. She's sassy, she tells it like it is, she's heeeelarious, and she's fiercely loyal.
Thanks for the warm cookies, Deb Duty. #cookiemonster 
I love that there's a heart above our heads in this shot with Allison Kreft Abad, as I admit I have a bit of a girl crush on her. She's oozes trendiness, but it's her incredibly kind way of being that makes me adore her so. When I first lost my job, she talked on the phone with me for more than hour when she had two tiny tots at home to care for. She offered advice and insight that I will not forget. 
Charee Filimoehala is another one who feels like a friend I see on a regular basis thanks to Instagram. She has the sweetest baby boy, and I love watching her as a mama through photos she posts. And she's always so nice about reaching out to me via my pics. So it's nothing but a joy to see her IRL. Then there's the joyful Ms. Sherry Mendoza who happened by while we were filming. Her bubbly personality will make anybody smile, and her charming Australian accent only adds to her charm. So fun seeing these gals! 

Oh my. You know you're close to someone when you can rest your head on their bosom when you're 100% sober. Teri Anderson, you make my heart happy. Thank you for always believing in me and making me smile! 
I had the pleasure of visiting with so many other dear hearts this trip (you know who you are). Unfortunately, I didn't have my phone on the ready as often as I should have. To those of you who made this CHA bright but aren't photographed here, thank you! I thank God scrapbooking and paper crafting brought you into my life.