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. 

Many Things to be Thankful For

Two years ago today, I was sitting in a hospital waiting room waiting for Mom to come out of surgery. She was having a cancerous tumor removed from her breast. This was easily the scariest day of my life. As I sat there with my family, a million questions were going through my head. A million worries. 
Making it through that awful day (and the two scary years that followed), I’m here to say that there is much to be thankful for. With Thanksgiving upon us, I thought I’d share just a few of the many things I’m thankful for this year (in no particular order). Some serious, some not-so-serious, but all things I deeply appreciate.
1. My family. Sure, this usually makes the top of most lists, but reflecting on where we were two years ago, this makes it with more meaning than ever for me. We’ve been through a lot, but we’ve made it through with laughter. We have fun together and we keep each other strong. 

2. Cory. Okay, so he falls under the “family” category, but I think he also needs a category of his own. It’s no secret that I’m crazy about this guy. He makes my life better. He makes it complete. 

3. Bare Escentuals makeup. I can wake up looking like yesterday’s meat, and this miracle powder will leave my face looking a’ight. It’s a miracle, I tell ya! ;)

4. My car. Aren’t automobiles awesome?! They take us where we need to go. They offer a safe place to sing at the top of our lungs. And they reflect our unique styles and personalities. It may come across as shallow to be thankful for things like makeup and cars, but these are things I use everyday. Things I appreciate everyday. And while I know there are things far more important in life, I’m sure grateful for the little things as well.

5. My camera. Wow! I honestly can’t imagine a world without cameras. They’re memory preservers. As one who has serious memory issues (thanks a lot, immune system), I place a huge amount of value on the snapshots I have of moments past. 

6. Friends. My extended family, my friends make my life richer. They bring different perspectives into my world. They offer support. They’re always a phone call or a text away. They bring much laughter and light into my life. If my life looked like a patchwork quilt, they’d each represent a unique pattern. A beautiful thread combination. A spot of warmth. 

7. Good doctors. I’ve had my share of bad docs, which makes me all the more grateful for the good ones. The ones who see patterns where others missed them. Docs who take the time to listen. Docs who actually care about you and want to help improve your quality of life. 

8. Facebook. Many of the aforementioned items on my list can be found in this one gigantic book o’ faces. In one stop, I can find out some of the latest news and happenings going on in the life of my friends and family, I can meet and connect with new friends, and I can offer and find support. It really is quite marvelous!

9. My job. When I grow up, I want to play with paper... Sure, this sounds like something a cute little kid might say, but it doesn’t sound like a reality. I’m so lucky it has become mine. My job offers me the opportunity to create on an almost daily basis, whether I’m creating articles, visuals for those articles, or new products and ideas. It takes me to new areas of the country. This year alone, I visited Portland, Anaheim, St. Louis, Buffalo, Charlotte, Chicago, Seattle, NYC, and Denver. Awesome! But, more important than any task or trip, my job has brought literally 100s of wonderful people into my life. Some of these beautiful friends are across the aisle from me on a daily basis and others are across the world, but they’re all beautiful additions to my life. 

10. Airport screening. Okay, this is a little joke. As you can see from #9, I travel on a pretty regular basis. And while I’m not exactly a fan of airport screening, I sure do value the added comfort and peace of mind it offers. Am I fan of prying eyes viewing my bits behind a computer screen? No way! Would I rather that than be on a plane with Mr. Underwear Bomber? You bet! For that I say, Thank you, TSA!

11. You. I appreciate you taking the time to read this odd gratitude grouping. I wish you and yours much love, happiness, and joy today and always! 


Inspiring birthday party and a delicious cake recipe

You know you’re at an amazing birthday party when the first thing you see upon entering is a photo booth. That’s what I saw this summer when I attended my friend Kezia’s 40th birthday bash. Kezia is one of the happiest, most creative gals I know, so it came as no surprise to me that her birthday was a blast. There were so many impressive ideas at this party that I just couldn’t resist sharing a couple of them with you.

As I mentioned, the party got started with a stop at the photo booth, which was complete with stylin’ mustaches like this one.

Once your photos were printed (it printed two sets), you put a set in the guest book and left a message. What a cool keepsake!

My friend Jennafer was my date for the party. Here she is leaving her b-day salutations.

Kezia may have been the birthday girl, but that didn’t keep her from baking up a storm. She made every delectable cake in this amazing dessert buffet. I sampled several slices, with each being as good as the last!

My personal favorite was the old fashioned carrot cake. And guess what?!?! Kezia is passing that tasty love on to you. Check out her delicious website, The Distracted Homemaker, for this and other incredible recipes! Trust me, you'll be delighted you did.

Happy 40th birthday, sweet Kezia. You sexy mama, you!