A new year, a new beginning!

What an exciting day! The beginning of the financial year has never been an exciting time for me but today is different! Today I officially joined Close To My Heart as an independent consultant AND I got new old wheels which are not as old as the adventure bus!

The Bus!

The Bus!

Let me explain!

Around the same time as Freaky Friday when we lost CM, I also had to give up my car. Since then I have been in ‘Keep Calm and Scrap on’ mode and “”Yep you can borrow the bus until you buy more wheels” mode to get around. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the ”Adventure before Dementia” bus that belongs to my dad but it did make nicking down to the supermarket for two litres of milk a chore after a while. With my arthritic right knee, clambering up into the driver’s seat became more than a bit of a chore!

Adventuring in the bus between cars

Adventuring in the bus between cars

However, the BUS, as I now fondly call it, got me around, took me safely to Adelaide and back and for a few nights even became my home away from home. After all, it is built for camping in right? Maggie and Macey didn’t like it much – I ended up putting the leads on them to coach them up into the bus rather than chase them and pick them up!!! It was cosy enough to sleep in and while I didn’t use the shower, the porta loo was handy.

Well today, July 1, the beginning of the financial year in Austalia, I thankfully was able to bid the bus goodbye – for now. I am sure to holiday in it sometime . That will be fun. I have gladly embraced my new regular vehicle to get around in! I am not sure how well I will fit my new CTMH goodies into it but that problem is for another day.

A New Year, a new beginning.

A New Year, a new beginning.

The other piece of magic that happened today was an end to the waiting for Plan B, the Wigwam. I signed as a consultant with Close To My Heart and as in previous posts clearly I am excited to begin the financial year with a new business along with hundreds of other ex CMC’s who have been waiting with me while the super leadership team went to work. Now there will be another long wait…for my Kit! But I am ok about that. I  have a lot to do to get my customers connected and my team organised. I have workshop dates, bookings to check on, flights to make sure are ok and and and….I need a list!

I am busy, but thankfully so. I now have a clear direction and some good wheels to help me travel the path. I am on my way in the CTMH family and I anticipate it will be a lot of fun. I am looking forward to adding stamping and crush books to my repertoire,  playing with washi tape, using a Cricut machine and meeting lots and lots of new people and rekindling connections with previous customers and new consultants. If you would like to join me on my journey please drop me a line.

The new year has begun – not with the bands and fireworks of a traditional new year but plenty of joy in my heart as I would have if there was a big party and lots of fireworks!

Closer To My Heart

The countdown is on! 5 days to go! I am overwhelmed by the skills of the people who have implored us to scrap our stash and be patient – Plan B would come. I have heard one of them speak with true passion about finding a solution for those of us who are now all ex CM consultants in Australia. To suggest we are not excited would not be true – but I cannot speak for everyone – so I will speak for myself.

close to my heart buttonI am over the moon with JOY!

I can go into places I could not go with CM. I can still scrap classic scrapbook pages, I can still create digital ones – even easier now that we have Studio J © to use, AND I can stamp designs and use a Cricut and teach others how to do the same!!! I have seen the palettes and packs that coordinate to help tell a story, that make creating gorgeous gifts for those we love easy so I am really looking forward to working with this product, doing the projects and encouraging others.

I have changed the name of the blog to suit since this is not just about Digital Scrapping now – I have so much more to share. July 1 can’t come quick enough!

Why is it that Close To My Heart is closer to my heart? Because I believe we can all be creative. Anyone who claims they are not creative would be more accurate if they stated they do not have the time to nurture creativity in themselves by applying their knowledge, skills, talents and ability to learn to a craft. We were all kids once right?

Were we afraid then of a look, a criticism, a scoff at our creations? No…and for most of us we were well praised for our efforts (even if the grownup could not quite make out what it was!) Somewhere between childhood and now our pure joy in playing with creating got lost. It may have been a teacher who decided our attempt was not as good as another’s in class. An unthinking adult may have even asked us ‘What is that supposed to be?’ when we felt it was patently obvious it was a car, a house, a duck…so we started to feel insecure about our own innate desire to create. A demon voice grew, trying to convince us we can’t do creative, we can’t do art, we are not talented.

If you have a voice within you....

If you have a voice within you….

I was one of those people when it came to art. My yr 7 Art teacher told me I wasn’t ”creative”!  I would like him to look at my paintings, my scrapbooks, my quilts, my original designs and tell me now he was WRONG!

For many years any desire to explore art was gone. When I got married, stopped studying and started to look for something other than correction to do at home in the evening I bought myself some coloured pencils and intricate colouring pads…something in me wanted to create!  Actually, I have my mother and the growth of folk art as an industry for home made craft to thank for giving creativity back to me. There are tools, there are products to understand, and there are patterns and instructions. And there are instructors like me! If you can watch a demo, and have and learn how to use the right tools and equipment you can create! Anything is possible.

You know your human brain has a section specifically for creating. Those students who learn to develop something (a piece of writing, a speech, a project) from a range of sources using a number of skills are ‘creating’ not just regurgitating and this is the main aim of our education system. So, how did adults lose faith in themselves to be able to create? That art teacher, the judgmental peer,  or simply being so busy with other ‘more important’ things in daily life to have time to create would be the main perpetrators. It is time to get your creative back!

posters 3 - Page 006There are so many benefits to being creative. Take a moment to tell that little voice in your head that says you can’t do it to be quiet a minute and listen. You may not produce prize winning artwork, but you will switch on a piece of your brain that has been inactive for too long.  You will be able to tune out the noise of life (and the voice of the negative knocker who suffers from tall poppy syndrome) and become absorbed in something different. That will lead to less stress rather than more. Take a moment to pause and watch a knitter (Not our ex PM but just someone you know), a spinner, a weaver, a painter, a patchworker, a tinsmith (my dad is one of those and he turn out great pieces for restored stationary engines). What do you notice about their mood? Their demeanor? Unless something is not quite going right and causing them frustration, you will find they are generally relaxed, happy and even oblivious to the woes of th world around them. It is their escape, their time out.

You can choose to do simple projects or complex ones – depending on your skills, confidence and equipment available to you. You may also need coaching or mentoring – that is my job! Enroll in a class scrapbooking or card making workshop and give it a crack. There is nothing better than the feeling of achievement that you lost somewhere in your childhood and you will be overjoyed by the compliments you get when you share creative work that also tells a story, and includes photos and messages of love. Such an experience will also bring others closer to your heart and you to theirs.

With my coaching, Close To My Heart will enable you to achieve what you thought you could not- with product, workshops, hosted gatherings or even having a go at being a consultant yourself. All you need to do first is acknowledge you have been neglecting the creative piece of your brain and letting life and daily stress take over all your thinking. Then make a commitment to give that piece of your brain a little workout. You will finish up more relaxed and refreshed – AND likely to be praised or thanked for your efforts once again,

Go on…give it a try !

I am closer to my creative center when I am teaching people to connect with theirs. The journey I am about to embark on is closer to my heart when I see people producing artwork from their heart. Now I have the opportunity to move well beyond the scrapbook page so my creative buttons are all ready to go and I cannot wait to share the journey with you!

It all starts July 1!

For inquiries about hosting gatherings or business opportunities please drop me a line!

Cheers

Jen –  Creative Classroom Coach with CTMH

Stash Scrapping brings Startling Revelations

I have already posted about the pending closure of Creative Memories Australia due to the  economic issues the parent company in America is facing. Our business manager and leading consultants have been busy keeping the CM family together through Facebook groups, the Virtual Crop, and emails. The final closure of the company we have loved and served is to close it’s doors on Monday June 9th. (Plan B will be announced Tuesday the 10th  and the excitement is mounting as we anticipate bigger and better)

The therapy for all of us who are consultants has come via the ‘Keep Calm and Scrap On’ campaign with the encouragement to ‘scrap your stash’. Engaging in  this has led me to a really interesting place, one I have not visited for a very long time and one that has helped me to look back on my past and laugh, and cry, and see a significant period of my life in a new light. Essentially, this is why I Scrapbook – it does enable me to celebrate and reflect on significant moments of my story – and more.

It is finally on the table again

It is finally on the table again

So in living memory, without delving into anything that is drawn from primary sources, I remember my Rotary Exchange year to Mexico with a great deal of fondness. I have happy memories of families – Comacho Junco, De La Pen~a, and Zavala who were my hosts and a particlarly emotional connection with the Lima Rizado family. In fact I communicate with the latter now on Facebook thanks to one of them looking for me. I had looked for them several times too! Who would have thought in 1980 that in 2012 we could communicate so easily all these years later!

 

 

hopefully still in date order....Yep pretty much!

hopefully still in date order….Yep pretty much!

Digging into my stash I came across my unfinished album of this fabulous year of my life. I have pondered why it was unfinished. Perhaps some of the memories were just too painful to bare, as I reconnect emotionally with so much. Perhaps it was the huge wad of letters and documents that both my mother and myself saved from that year. I have every letter written to me – and every letter I wrote home.  If I am to do do a good job of this photo album – traditional or digital –  I would need to dig into dates, times and places – and these are recorded in the letters. I knew I would have to read them. maybe that is why it has taken so long.

I also got a bit stuck considering layouts for pages. Mexico is not a country well reflected by our traditional scrapping supplies here and finding just the right paper or sticker has been an issue for me. However I have learned to make do – and have been focussed more on colour than sticker to this point in time. I had stopped at the folkloric dancing I saw in Fortin De las Flores. These pages had followed scrapped pages of 2 of the 3 homes I lived in. I clearly had reached an emotional point and packed it into a box. I have since been doing other things while the project sat in a cupboard and got carted through to or three house moves before it saw the light of day again on my craft table – years after it had been started.

What page and photos to do next?

What page and photos to do next?

In the last few nights I have pulled it out. I recently ordered prints of the slides I had digitised, and now I have kind of sorted photos. It was such a long time ago I could not necessarily place all photos in a specific place or timeline. Not that for this project timeline matters – but I got stumped after doing the pages on my dear third host family and the family of my Mexican Muchacho. I told myself to ‘Feel the pain and do

My 4th Family and the one I grew closest to.

My 4th Family and the one I grew closest to.

it anyway’. Once I got past the emotional response, I did those pages and came to another halt.

 

 

 

I ran out of pages, I had no memorabilia pockets and I had no idea what kind of order to put the photos into. With CM Australia about to close its doors getting this project finished would depend on the support of the CM family for the pages and pockets and encouragement to finish a traditional project. All I had to do was ask and magic happened!

I found the perfect paper - and upcycled a page from my old demonstration and teaching album

I found the perfect paper – and upcycled a page from my old demonstration and teaching album

My girlfriend and fellow consultant visited tonight with 3 memorabilia pages, and 3 sheets of scrapbook paper she thought might be good. One was simply perfect. In Cordoba Veracruz, La Jarocha is a traditional dance form and has with it a specific style of costume. A couple of my most favourite photos are of me wearing this costume and performing in a dance troupe with the dance school I attended. When in Mexico I needed something outside of school to do, I loved the dancing and I needed to exercise. Learning this kind of dancing was the answer – and my cultural life in Mexico benefited greatly from this. I really wanted to scrap this one particular photo. Armed with that perfect paper from old creative memories stock, and additional old size pages I found buried in a box that were from my Scrapbook techniques album in 2002, I was set…but I got stuck again. When was it taken? Where was I? Which performance was it?

Tonight I am very glad I kept every letter written. I have been reading them and can now place the photo on a timeline of events and use the letters to help create the necessary journalling. Photos alone cannot tell this story – I needed the information. While doing so I came across a lot of information I had quite clearly forgotton – the names of people, the importance of places, and was able to observe – as no doubt my parents did – some changes in my behaviour that may have raised an eyebrow or two! My poor mum and dad! My letters also had some very common phrases…’Sorry this letter is short but I am too busy…just a quick note to say,.. I really have now news….I am studying hard for exams (I hated zoo-ology!),  thanks for your cheque…can I have some money for… I love you muchisisimo xoxoxox’ .

My letters remind me of my own daughter who went to Japan on exchange, who was frantically was studying to pass basic Japanese, and had little time to write, who struggled emotionally at times, had some basic observations of the country and culture to report and such. She might well have been me…our letters and notes are so similar…..so sixteen!

Well…I got one page done…the rest of the time was spent reading through many of the letters and I was startled by the revelations the 16 year old me left for the 50 year old one!

Scrapping the stash not only makes use of what I have to make room for the new to come, it also gave me an opportunity to get back to work on a project that I think should be done.

Try stash scrapping – you will be surprised what you find!

 

PS I have already started the digital version and now realise I will have more text than photos when I am done! Plan B will hopefully provide me the opportunity to have the same lovely page prints I am accustomed to!

Digital MEXICO page that will end up in my traditional album!

Digital MEXICO page that will end up in my traditional album!

ANZAC Day

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We shall remember them.

In the morning, we shall remember them

This morning I wake to the vivid sounds from memories of the haunting The last Post played on a Lone Bugle at the funerals of my grandfather and great Uncle, and at ceremonies every school year. ANZAC day services have taken place all around the country and in schools this week. It brings to mind all that have been lost in war, not just those tragically lost at ANZAC cove.

I live in the ‘lucky country’. But we have not been so lucky that we have not been affected by the impact of War and the need for soldiers to defend our country. In fact anyone who argues Australia is lucky because it has never been subject to war is clearly forgetting the fact that Darwin was in fact Bombed by the Japanese during World War II

Bombing of Darwin

as the Japanese Emperor attempted to build his own empire throughout Asia and the Pacific; and the fact many Australian men and women have given their lives to war in support of our allies, ultimately protecting our own country. They also forget the many bloody massacres and battles that have been hidden from us now being told as we acknowledge Indigenous people in our History books (at last).

Sometimes it is difficult the remember we have bee to and at war. The bombing of Darwin is as close as this country has ever been suffering the bloody chaos of a long drawn out war. The Japanese break through and take over our shores. I sometimes wonder what would our life be like if they had. (If you child has read Tomorrow when the War Began they will see how author John Marsden has answered this question)

If you have not been to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra,

Australain War Memorial, Canberra

you should, and be sure to take your children along with you. If not, jump online and do some research right here. Try to teach them about the ANZACS and what happened at Gallipoli. Teach them about the tenacity of the Australian Soldier. Educate them about ANZAC cove, about POW camps, about the Burma Railway, about Edward Weary Dunlop, about The Somme and the trenches of  World War One. Teach your children about conscription, and the white feather, the subbing or returned soldiers from Vietnam, and why we currently have had debate about our soldiers in Afghanistan.

 

Be sure your scrapbooks include the history of your family in times of war.  I have included those of my family who have been engaged in war in my scrapbooks – they are fondly remembered.

My Great Uncles in Uniform during World War II

My Great Uncles in Uniform during World War II

Australian children need to understand why this country needs its allies, why we engage in war that is not of our doing, and invite them to see that Australian soldiers, and supporting nurses and their reputations are part of the folklore of this land. They are the ultimate representatives of tenacity, of mateship, of being ‘Aussie’.

There is nothing nice about blood, guts, mud, sweat, death, killing enemy soldiers and dying in the process. There is plenty that is heroic about a man or woman called to serve doing their duty, following orders, attempting to save themselves, his or her fellow soldier, and from afar protect Australia from invasion by another country.

There are many films, novels and biographies about war and the more of these that our children become familiar with the more they will be able to discover and discuss man’s inhumanity to man, the causes of war, the impact or war, the way in which war today is so different from what it was on this day at ANZAC cove and question what the act of war achieves. They may well struggle with the moral question of how we justify war, why some returned soldiers have been treated as heroes and others have not, and why the role of women has in the past been neglected by the history books.

Above all, do not let them grow up thinking this country is lucky to have not experienced war. This is factually inaccurate. It has.  Australia has been at war numerous times because of our alliances which are essential given the size of this land and the coastline we need to protect from invaders. In our history we have been close to being invaded as submarines  got close to Sydney Harbour, and Darwin was bombed. It can happen again. And it will not be the so called ‘boat people’ we are warring with.

In teaching texts as an English teacher I have sadly often had to include the history of the war experience covered in the text. It saddens me that Australian pupils do not have a general knowledge about their own country history that includes our engagement in Wars that ultimately protect the ‘lucky country’ from invasion and persecution. I urge all Australians to watch or read suggested texts to educate the young about the Australian war heroes who we remember both today and on Remembrance day.

To participate in stopping the advance of an army representing a country hungry for power is heroic. Today we especially remember those who lost their lives fighting at ANZAC Cove, arguably the bloodiest of battles Australians have endured.

ANZAC Trenches

Lest We Forget.

Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget

War films and books you can watch, read and share with your children to raise their awareness of Australian War experiences:

The best films according to the Australian War Memorial

Some Texts that come to mind for consideration:

      • Gallipoli
      • Braker morant
      • The Rats of Tobruk
      • The Odd Angry Shot
      • Blood Oath
      • Changi
      • Kokoda
      • My Brother Jack
      • Beneath Hill 60
      • Paradise Road ( A must for any consideration of Women in war)

There are so many books, I will not list any, but the better ones are the biographical – the life stories of individuals, collections of letters and journals by veterans themselves.

One last thing…have a world map handy for the student…it does help them visualise thw where along with the what, when, how and why 🙂

‘Ave a Great Day

 

 

 

No matter the story, tell it anyway.

I came across this article ‘When family Stories Are Difficult’  shared on Facebook and feel the need to confess that telling the difficult stories is one of those things I have avoided. I love to journal as truthfully as I can not just what happened but how I felt, so leaving out the bad stuff enables me to celebrate good times and ignore the bad. The problem with that will be my world will appear to have been completely joyful and there won’t be an explanation for my life as a single woman about to turn 50.

I am now divorced from the father of my children. Since then I have had another relationship that I thought would be my happy ever after one that turned into a bitter battle caused by alcohol and lies that I struggled more than twelve months to recover from and even now wistfully at times wonder if it could or would be worth trying again I loved him so much. (But I do know better – it is he that needs to come to terms with his behaviour and lies, not me). Then there are a few months of one or another boyfriend or date that has not quite worked out. What should I do with these photos?

As a scrapbooking mum I find these and other stories hard to tell. I don’t struggle with reflecting on them, and some of them I do not have a problem talking about, but when it comes to including photos AND journalling the truth from my world view I do come to a striking halt. I have no problem including photos of my ex husband with images of our grandson – he does belong to both of us. The ex partner on the other hand is cropped out or left out of any event we attended in our brief 3 years together. I am not sure that it is my pain, or my shame that causes me to do this. I feel I was hoodwinked. But the bottom line is we did have many good moments too and he was an important part of my own growth journey. So…should I include my alcoholic ex partner, and if I do, what do I write?

This article talks about another kind of family issue – an adopted child. The excerpt suggests we need to journal all our stories, the good and the bad. In reference to adopted children Dr. Jane Aronson says:

Tell them with as much humor and openness as you can, she said. “Children deserve to be playful about who they are,” she said, “and to be proud, and to interpret their own stories into their own ideas.” And if a story brings up strong emotions for a child, let it. “Ask yourself if you’re the one who is uncomfortable,” she told me, and if I am, I need to either address it, or hide it, and let the children tell their stories.

KJ DELL’ANTONIA continues

I want my children to know that a story can be happy and sad at the same time, and maybe that’s exactly what the best stories are. We don’t even always have to feel the same way about our stories. One night, my younger daughter might be thrilled to talk about her foster family at dinner, and might even want to describe, again, the moment when she was handed over to strangers. At another time the introduction of the same topic by a sibling telling some other version of that time might bother her (and “bother” doesn’t fully encompass the available range of emotional reactions).

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/24/when-family-stories-are-hard-to-tell/

I know both my daughters will have different feelings about stories to do with their dad, and stories to do with my ex partner. But maybe I should scrap them anyway, with humour and honesty so they in turn can share these family stories with their own children.  I can do pages on people that had an impact on my life – good or bad. After all  scrapbooking is all about recording our story and we are perfectly imperfect in an imperfect world.

If I do not include the good with the bad or uncomfortable, what message about resilience and recovery am I leaving my Grandchildren? I want them to know that depression can be managed, and resilience is an important life skill. I guess I better illustrate that in my scrapbooks too!