Do you give yourself permission to play?

Creativity is not an optionHere are some sound reasons we need to play

  • to learn
  • to create
  • to feel challenged
  • to pass time
  • to calm and focus ourselves
  • for the fun of it
  • for the joy of it

If you need permission to play, I give it to you!

We can all get way too bogged down in our various life roles of work, parenting, caring and not spend enough time to nurture ourselves. So often when I meet people and tell them what I do I get the auto responder ‘ Oh I am not creative’ or ‘I am not clever’, or ‘I do not have time for that’.  However, what I do requires very little genius, very little artistic talent, and very little time. (I could however do it for hours more each day!)

Creative play is one way we can nurture ourselves and is an essential part of our well being. Creative play offers us  some very essential brain food, gives our emotional bucket a top up and enables us to do something that we can feel good about.

Community

Rejuvenating

Artwork

Tactile

Inspirational

Versatile

Exciting

Personal

Laughter

Action

You

Let’s look at this a little more closely.

I recently held a girls night in. My guests were professional women. They teach, they lecture, they research. Their life is all academia when it is not family. Taking some time out for the girl’s night in these women all came with one really important thing. They were open to having a go at whatever I was about to put in front of them. They ended up fully engaged in creative play and had a lovely bit of time out for themselves.

Einstein

Together we formed a little community – a gathering – of people with a common purpose.

What we did was make cards and chat, then make more cards. Since this had nothing to do with work or family responsibilities it was rejuvenating and fun. At the end the plans were made to gather again on a regular basis and repeat the processes of doing something mind blowingly simple, fun and creative.

They each produced a piece of artwork and that brings forth feelings of ‘look what I did’ that we lost somewhere back in our childhood. They copied from examples on the table and were able to add their own touch too.

For many people, the only time they do tactile activity is when they are doing their housework, or perhaps when they are cooking. In creative play we are stamping and cutting images, sticking down, and even colouring in. This is all hands on and everyone is engaged in the process.the more you use

Creative play inspirational in many ways. The flow of ideas begins as the possibilities are discovered and shared within the group doing the activity. Everyone has a different skill set and if the spirit of sharing is present it is not long before ideas flow like a river.

Steve Jobs

Some like it this way, some like it that, but everyone was making a card! Some have a disused stash of materials that can be used for card making at home already, others are just beginning and have made their first ever hand made card. You can bling it up, tone it down, try something new. That makes creative play with paper, stamp and ink versatile.

To be able to say ‘I did that’ or ‘I made this’ is awesome! We used to do it as children and I ask you to remember how exciting it was to discover we could do something and how we were open to showing others what we did! Now imagine feeling that excitement again. Yes! Feel it! It is possible to tap into those feelings and experience the joy and excitement your artwork once gave you as a child. This is the well being part of creative play therapy!

Creative play in the world of stamping and papercraft is also personal. You might make a thank you card, or create a scrapbook page of a favourite moment. You may even begin an artbook or journal. Either way you will be giving it your personal purpose and style.

way of life

Laughter is the best medicine and I am yet to come across anyone who would disagree with this maxim. Creative play brings laughter. It could simply be what you are chatting about and sharing, laughing at yourself, or even enjoying the company of someone who makes you laugh. Getting together to do something that takes you away from the everyday opens you to the possibility of the good medicine of fun and laughter.

How often do we browse magazines or spend time on Pinterest? Pinterest is a veritable gold mine of ideas you can replicate. But looking at eye candy is not going to bring about the good feelings. That is just desire. Doing is putting it into action. Stop just looking at Pinterest and start replicating those things that have inspired you by actually making them!

Creative play is all about you. What do you need, what would you like to make, who would you like to make it for? How will you benefit? If you engage in creative play you will lift your spirits and rest your brain from the hard stuff of day to day thinking.

inner child

Every time you turn on your creative button in your brain you will find yourself refreshed. It is enjoyable, fun, and you do not need to feel as if you are creative – you need to be creative which means getting the goodies and doing it! It is possible to learn a few basic skills, gather a few essential supplies and let loose with your creativity.

Next time you are invited to a gathering to make cards or create a scrapbook page, consider it as an opportunity to relax and tap into a piece of yourself that far too often is neglected. Check out workshop and gathering schedules in your area or even organise to host a gathering yourself. In the Sunraysia Region we have many play days. To get a schedule join my mailing list, check my Facebook events page, or join a gathering via my website. You can even host your own gathering, even if you do not live near me I can help you have an awesome event of playful fun! Your creative self will appreciate the effort!

Pass it on

Continue reading

Just FOUR more days!

Four, Yes just 4 more sleeps until I head to Melbourne for Creative Kickoff – the launch of our brand new to Australia Close To My Heart company. I am going to be among over 500 super excited new consultants spending time both training and creating for two and a half days!

And there are JUST Four more days left for YOU to grab the best joining offer around for anyone who does scrapbooking, stamping, and other crafts – even if you are a total newbie!

Did you know your kit also includes your own online store just like Jen’s Creative Classroom? You pick your store  name! You and your friends, family and customers can place orders any time! You are also not obliged to ‘do parties’ to contribute to your holiday fund, increase the size of your personal stash or rise up in leadership! We have so many options for those of us holding consultant accounts I would love to show you how it could all work for you!

I am one of those who does want to build a team consultants having fun with Close To My Heart. I am actively seeking passionate people to build a fun, powerful and profitable business! Remember  our current $99 Kit is available until the 15th of August is  filled 100% with over $300 product! 

AND, (no it isn’t steak knives!) Australian CTMH Consultants are now able to be part of an exclusive offer for Cricut Machines with extra bonus products and Australian warranty included!

Check out this little machine making a lace doily for me today!

P1020115

I enjoyed making this little card with my Cricut Aet Philosophy cartridge,

I enjoyed making this little card with my Cricut Aet Philosophy cartridge,

Reward yourself and come and join our new community! If you love photos, scrapbooking, stamping and craft we have something for you!

 The great business in a box!????????

What will the kit be after August 15?

I cannot answer that other than to say it will switch from the current 100% product to some product being removed to make way for business supplies. If you want the best value for money with Close To My Heart these next four days are your last chance to get the 100% product kit! Just head to my website, click ‘Opportunities’ and select be a consultant. In the second box click Australia as your country and complete the form. (Just press continue if you are not an ex CM Consultant) In a very short time you will receive an email with confirmation of your order and a link to go ahead and set up your online business address!

I am stoked!

Close To My Heart has turned out to be much more than I ever imagined! My $99 kit has provided me with enough product and support to make pages, sharing product over three workshops, have a website online to gather orders anywhere anytime in Australia AND easily invite people to events through EZ invite! In less than a month my business has doubled, and I have been able to order product for myself to enjoy. My lost and dulled innate creativity has come alive – and so will yours – you even get loads of easy access online training and printed guides! This really is an easy to manage business in a box and I love it!

Wishful thinking? Dream, Dare and Do

I am outside a mega crop! there are 100 scrappers inside!

I am outside a mega crop! there are 100 scrappers inside!

I have had some of the most wonderful days (or hours)  ‘out’ scrapbooking with other like minded scrappers who enjoy recording memorable moments, sharing their stories in scrapbooks, playing with paper and decoration and dealing with the internal negative voice that says our personal handwriting is not neat enough! Sometimes a nice intimate class of 3-4 people does the trick of bringing calm, colour and joy in our otherwise chaotic world and lots of laughs and giggles for good therapy too. Then there are those big events….I so want to see that happen again one day in Sunraysia and surrounding areas too!

Little workshops can work well in anyone’s home. A few friends getting together regularly to scrap, perhaps taking turns hosting is an unofficial ‘club’ . The women provide each other with very important therapy. They share tools, they encourage and support each other with ideas, maybe they swap papers, embellishments, and even show each other the latest technique spotted on a video seen online.

 

 

 

Our tables didn't stay this tidy but we had a lot of fun!

Our tables didn’t stay this tidy but we had a lot of fun!

Another look at our Robinvale group

Another look at our Robinvale group

They laugh, giggle and have fun. We do not do enough of this. Far too often i hear I would love to but I do not have time. Women who gather like this see value in the gathering – they make time for themselves and dare to do it. Of course they also share their secret stash secrets too (secret from partner that is)  because they are daring enough to have a secret stash!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Myself and my first two team members - we get together regularly to crop and share ideas.

Myself and my first two team members – we get together regularly to crop and share ideas.

I have a little group like this – we are all dedicated scrappers and we also all have now joined Close To My Heart. Being a new business in Australia I am really looking forward to scrapping together and developing our understanding of our products and business model at the same time. We get together weekly if we can and just chill, share ideas and knowledge, and make each other cups of brew (tea or coffee). Sometimes we also take turns with my babysitting so my grandson’s mum can get her pages done too! The few hours we spend like this is fun and relaxing. It is even more fun because we are using new toys! (We have stamps now:) ) Someday soon we will also have a Cricut machine to play with.

We have a whole new range of papers, embellishments and page layouts to try, not to mention cards to make. AND…we need a team name! I am looking forward to a brainstorming sesh for that one! We have supported each other as a team and I look forward to doing this with our CTMH products and businesses. There is no doubt about it. Women need fellowship, an outlet to share, AND an outlet for creativity. Scrapbooking and papercraft provides a vehicle for this and sharing and camaraderie is central to fun in our little group. We  have had to make the ‘sacrifice’ of time out for ourselves to ensure ‘life’ doesn’t get in the way but it is very very worthwhile!

There are lots of goodies in the consultant kit!

There are lots of goodies in the consultant kit!

OK…so little workshops could work for you. Regular get togethers, your favourite snacks and beverages, and a consultant is all you need. Yes, consultant! You need a consultant so you get the goss  on what is coming and access to the latest products, information and rewards! You consultant is your guru and guide. She may not be expert, but she is your link to all the resources and ideas. If you have a group and don’t have a consultant consider inviting someone like me along. I can pop in and out quickly with the latest news and product samples, teach a technique and make plans for next visit. It will be easy, fun and one of the group can get the benefits of hosting!

So what about a BIG one?

I love that I can keep working at my scrapping and papercraft with my team, but my dream is the BIG Crop. This is my Dream, Dare and DO! ‘Why?’ you may wonder!  Well there is

  • lots of eye candy
  • lots of ideas shared
  • lots of freebies and give-aways if you happen to get one of the lucky door prizes
  • Lots of happiness and buzz (so good for the soul in a busy life)
  • lots of laughter and
  • occasionally even a few quick challenges just to spice up your approach to album making!
  • Chocolate….

Shouting yourself a Big Crop Day is like taking a day off just for you. Arrange the child care and focus on yourself and your project. You enter a whole new stress free world and go home having accomplished something to show those who care. Imagine getting among 50-100 people all doing what you do! Your world of papercraft becomes a whole lot more fun.

Big crops happen regularly in the cities. They range in price for the day depending on your welcome gift, catering and venue costs. ALL the work is done for you. You can just sit, scrap, chat, eat, scrap and chat some more. Don’t forget the chocolate! Breakout sessions show you new ideas and techniques. Product displays give you creative inspiration and seeing walls filled with page layouts and tables covered in cards and off the page projects will get your creative juices going!

Wall of page layout ideas to inspire.

Wall of page layout ideas to inspire.

In crop events there are always bonus tips and techniques like these paper flowers! Everyone is willing to share how they do something!

In crop events there are always bonus tips and techniques like these paper flowers! Everyone is willing to share how they do something!

Newest products on display at the Adelaide Ideas Extravaganza crop

Newest products on display at the Adelaide Ideas Extravaganza crop

Lots of scrapbooking and chatter going on here!

Lots of scrapbooking and chatter going on here!

It is a fest of creative inspiration. But the BEST bit is being among like minded devotees of photos, memories, storytelling and papercraft. You don’t feel weird. You do not feel like the only woman whose partner scrutinises how much ‘stuff’ you have and if you happen to have a craft room or shed for ‘her’ you will be the envy of others. (Watch out they may invite themselves over for a visit and their partners will curse you for putting big ideas in their heads!)

I have fond memories of big events like this on various occasions as a consultant and more recently attended events in Adelaide that were attended by over 80 scrappers – consultants and their customers – and had a ball. Six hours goes way too fast! We have managed to have smaller versions of these with combined crops of local Mildura consultants and our customers go home grateful to have had a day out, to have learned new things, and have some fun, That photos of me playing in leaves comes from one of these events as we let mother nature provide us with the photo opportunity!

So… I dream of making these bigger! Imagine a really juicy creative play day!

Perhaps I should explain Juicy!

Juicy is a term I have learned from PLANET SARK. (Your Home for Dreaming, Daring, and Doing!)  I first read her work ‘Succulent Wild Women’ and while I have not been totally wild with a journal and coloured pens I have wanted to. I have found the answer for me has always been in my scrapbooking. It is good for the soul! Picking up from the SARK philosophy, Creativity is juicy; Journalling is juicy; Colour is juicy! Put all that juicy goodness into your memory keeping and you will have fun and one day your family will have juicy fun pouring over the pages you have made with fun and love.

P1020015 P1020014And Yes! I do want to see at least 50 attendees at a big CROP. I know there are many more than 50 scrapbookers in Sunraysia and surrounding areas so I dream of having a day where at least 50 of these delightful memory keepers are together for a day of fun and sharing. I dare to and I am going to do it. I have found a well lit venue with a perfect kitchen, plenty of no limit parking  and flat access for trolleys and wheeled bags. ( There are no steps or stairs to drag trolleys over! ) All I need are the juicy scrappers and their enthusiasm who will come along to play. We will have a ball! We will be like kids on a big play date! Maybe we will find some of our own lost in childhood creativity!

Wishful thinking? Too ambitious? That is my negative self talk talking. If the city girls can do it so can we country gals! How about it? If there were big Crops would you go? Have you been to one? What do you remember most about such events?

Please pop your comment below- I would love for you to share your experience with me!

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!

The Sisterhood

We have travelled awkwardly from Freaky Friday to Terrific Tuesday and we now can really hope for more!

I must admit, having faith in ‘administrators’ of a company I love and that (as far as I knew) was doing well economically was an extremely tough call. Especially when it was so sudden, so without warning, so devastating to 100’s of consultants and customers who had plans for their photos, parties and workshops.

What does it mean to be a scrapbooker?

What does it mean to be a scrapbooker?

My hesitation to stay rigidly hopeful came down to basic economic reasoning. A looming election and increased living costs aside, a business operates on demand and supply of a product or service. Until Freaky Friday we had a superb product and service to deliver to many who love and enjoy what we do. Our service as consultants, our lovely albums and embellishments, our signature tools, our software (my personal favourite) and our opportunities are the core ‘things’ we supply. The less tangible also matters (perhaps even more)  – our mission to ensure photos get out of boxes, off jump drives, phones, camera disks and computers and into beautiful albums to share. The Creative Memories brand is top of the range and our customers know and respect this.

With the parent company in America moving into Chapter 11 ( a course of action to deal with potential bankruptcy in America) and not being able to supply us here in Australia, in spite of ‘hope’ I was doing a mental battle over supply not meeting demand and what that would mean for us. This got worse when it became apparent the administrators in place had little care for the people that make Creative Memories Australia and New Zealand real, not just a cast of characters in a poorly performing play that can be closed down. Our top leaders were forced into a state of powerlessness and the administrator was (to me at least) not doing what they should – to work with us and help a company move forward and avoid the worst case scenarios. (I refuse to even label those)

BeliefStatement0712_20x30

To read the statements, click on the image and you will see a more readable view.

In spite of all this economic logic I could still hang on to one very intangible element of this business. We are committed to our mission. We are Independent Consultants (aka sole traders) so this IS our business. We believe what we do is extremely important and have a set of belief statements that reflect this. We believe it so much all we could do was stay positive, have faith that those who could would and meanwhile adopt a whole new strategy. Keep Calm and Scrap.

So…I did, sometimes with tears of sadness, sometimes with gratitude for the opportunities no matter the future, and sometimes with the determination that has been clearly evident in others to not let this be taken away from us!

Virtual Crop has become a regular daily feature of my life as the numbers of the Facebook group grow and scrappers all over Downunder take up the challenges and share their work and their praise for others. Regular emails from CM directors kept us up to date with what they knew, and advice on how to proceed. Consultants, including myself revised our calendars, contacted customers, spread the word of hope that our mission still mattered most and we would find a way.

I stayed strong on the outside, consoled the consultants in my team, and only really broke down once myself, grieving selfishly over the loss of long term outcomes from all the travelling I had done. Many in our CM family could potentially lose much much more as their hard work and success in the business has become their family income. Bang..like that…taken away. No notice for them – no opportunity to find alternate income sources or take a redundancy – just nothing but hope that the administrator will be fair to the customers and consultants as well as other stakeholders. This wasn’t happening.

today

Today I…a reminder to be grateful and have hope

Clearly the power of sisterhood has prevailed. Communications have been rife since Freaky Friday and the outcome of that is astounding. Consultants share stories of supportive customers, consultants supporting each other, reminding each other to stay calm, and hope things will stabilise, and dare we even – yes we will – hope that at the end of it all we will come out better at the other end.

24 hours before Tremendous Tuesday a flurry of emails, faxes, and original documents passed through the internet and Australia post. The power of a vote was at hand. Our leading directors and business manager were arming themselves to do battle with the administrators and remind them this was OUR business they were dealing with. Armed with the right information, and the required votes Leading sisters and support crew were able to vote the administrator out and send them packing. You could pretty well hear the cheers and congratulations that went around in electronic form after the announcement was made. Our sisterhood had rallied, our leaders went in on our behalf and took control back.

Similar but different. You may remember Shepparton SPC workers rallying to save the company that had employed them for so long – taking cuts in pay, leave and personally investing in what for them was their life blood. I recall how adamant they and the town were that the company had to be saved. So…it is with extreme gratitude and humility I say a resounding Thank You to all those who told me to hold tight, believe in the mission, believe in our leadership team, and trust that we are in good hands and will still have a business to be a part of . Thank you CM sisters! Keep networked, stay informed, use suggested strategies and above all else tell yourself and everyone else to just Keep Calm and scrap.

scrapbooking is

Another scrapbooking is page…it is so much I cannot say it all on just one page!

 

Our future is still foggy, but ironically and in spite of this it is very clear that the waters are calm, the compass has been correctly positioned towards a positive outcome for all of us and we still have the demand for our products and service. Plan B to supply his exists, it now has the opportunity to become a reality and we have absolutely no reason to think that it won’t happen. So go ahead – scrap your stash while we wait the future to arrive.

 

The power of the voice of the sisters in CM AU and NZ has regained control of the management of the company. At the other end of all this we may not look the same, we may not feel the same, but the mission will be just as it is now. WE believe that photos and memories need to be safely preserved, stories need to be told and we want to be the ones to help others achieves this.

Scrapbooking is...

Scrapbooking is…

Terrific Tuesday heralds a new chapter – or perhaps a new book in the CM story in Australia and New Zealand.  I want to be there – will you? If you do then stay in touch – consultant or customer. Read your emails, go to your consultant’s events and show them your support, go to team meetings if you are a consultant -we gather strength and unity- and join appropriate groups on social media such as the Summer Virtual crop group (open to everyone) and above all else ENJOY your photos and memories as you scrap your stash in the short interlude between what was and what is to be.

Go scrap sisters and say a cheer or three for our leadership team in control of our ship!

stay-calm-stay-scrappy

Stay Scrappy!

 

Keep calm and scrap on…and on…

It is a fact our current economy is global. As we meander (or run) through each day we don’t stop to think about what would happen if the company that makes our favourite product ceased operation. We just assume it is there and always will be. We have faith in our relationship with it.

The reality is though, that at the simple click of a button, a pressure from outside which is out of our control and decisions that are made will always have the potential to send us tumbling like dominoes into a panic. Our human response to a crisis creates both good and bad behaviour. Some get angry and stay that way, some wander in the haze of the aftershock, confused and uncertain, while other’s snap into panic mode and enter into a frantic chaotic frenzy of one kind or another.

This is because we are human, we operate at some level on instinct and will do battle to save ourselves. Sometimes, unfortunately, that leads straight to greed and no care whatsoever for others. But this is not, for me at least, the norm.

The normal response to a crisis in my experience is to ask how I can help. Right here, right now – and worry about the why of it all later. We see this often in Australia. There is a house fire – the community rallies to support the family. There is a diagnosis of Cancer or other terminal illness and both the immediate and extended network of that person jumps right into action to support the patient and assist them to fight back. A nation that is struggling with financial distress, a population experiencing poverty and/or persecution, or a natural disaster such as those we have seen of late in Australia all illustrate the ‘action’ in the human response to crisis. ‘What can I do to help? ‘ is the iconic mateship we see in this country.

Of course it isn’t always like this. Unfortunately there is an opposite.

Some only care for themselves and point fingers of blame at a scapegoat and expect that entity to fix it. Some people pillage and loot, taking what they can for themselves. They find some way to take advantage of the crisis with callous disregard for the wellbeing of fellow human beings. Some just freeze, unable to get beyond shock, anger and fear for the future. I have little regard for the first of these and while I empathise with the latter.

I am a CAN DO girl. We may not have caused it, but we can certainly act in response to any crisis in a positive way. We are all capable of the more positive response to a crisis in any form and on a moral level that is what we ought to do.

By now you may be wondering why I am waffling on about this. In the last 48 hours I have faced a sudden crisis that for some is really devastating on an emotional or financial level.  I have witnessed all of the above human behaviours in varying degrees in response to it. ‘ It’ was not a flood. It was not a fire. It was not a war. Nonetheless, it is disempowering because it is caused by decisions and actions not in our control.

The company I represent when I go out into communities and run market stalls and workshops, Creative Memories Australia New Zealand, has gone into voluntary administration.

Keep_Calm_sign_blue

It suffers economic illness that has the potential to be terminal. And the resounding response from those of us connected to it, I am pleased to say, is Keep calm and Scrap on. 

What is a voluntary administration?  Voluntary administration is an insolvency procedure where the directors of a financially troubled company or a secured creditor with a charge over most of the company’s assets appoint an external administrator called a ‘voluntary administrator’. The role of the voluntary administrator is to investigate the company’s affairs, to report to creditors and to recommend to creditors whether the company should enter into a deed of company arrangement, go into liquidation or be returned to the directors.  (ATSIC) 

What Happened?

In April, the parent company of Creative Memories AU NZ, Creative Memories USA entered into a bankruptcy state known as Chapter 11.

Chapter 11 is a chapter of the United States Bankruptcy Code, which permits reorganization under the bankruptcy laws of the United States.

Creative Memories USA is in financial crisis and downunder we were not expecting to become part of the solution for them. Last week, Creative Memories Australia New Zealand was put into the hands of an Administrator. Our parent company can no longer supply us with our primary goods. Its reorganization includes the cutting off of the Australian arm of its business and therefore our company is unable to function.

There is no choice. Economic surgery in is required. Voluntary Administration is not bankruptcy, but it is emergency economic surgery. This is our crisis. Employees, consultants at all levels, and customers are affected.

We can be angry and lash out, or respond with a lot of patience and hope that the surgeon (Administrator) can achieve the best outcomes for Creative Memories AU NZ to carry on.
Our company will no doubt look and feel different when it comes out of surgery.

8f4a3a9c12b63e068d187455663c84c9

The leaders, who are 100% reliant on the success of the company for their livelihood, are in fight back mode. They are brainstorming, planning and seeking solutions. They are not responsible for decisions made by the administrator. They have to ride the waves. All that they worked hard for has been pulled from underneath them in the actioning of Chapter 11 in the USA.

The same can be said for Australian and New Zealand consultants at all levels. We were in the business of scrapbooking with Creative Memories for many reasons and we do not want to lose it. Similarly, the same can be said for our customers who have trusted the Consultants and the Company to deliver them top quality products and services. One other stakeholder, not to be forgotten, are the employees of the company – the pickers and packers in the warehouse, the technicians, the office girls, the trainers in the field and perhaps even the cleaners who all have families and need their job.

Australian’s are excellent at rallying in a crisis. I recall how much we admired Queensland’s Premier Blair at the time of the Queensland floods. She was calm, practical but caring, She prioritised, and called the people of the state and nation to action – and action she got. Our faith in human nature was boosted.

06_dreambig-7531Our crisis is not as ‘big’, not as pertinent to the future of our country, but it is important to us at a deeply personal level and it matters to the future of our families. We (consultants) need to act in positive ways, have some faith in the skills of the Administrator and those who are reimagining the future of the company, our leaders. We need to do as they ask us to help restructure the company to one that is economically viable so we can deliver on our statement of beliefs and restore faith in our customers.

What Now?

The majority of consultants have rallied already. It is fantastic to see.
Most of us, myself included will not sit back and wait for things to happen. Let’s face it, if we have had success in this business it is because we acted in a way to ‘make it happen’ using the tools, training and tenacity required. Our current situation is no different. Our tools are more limited at present, but our determination has already grown, our planned sharing of the mission has incredible new energy and we are fighting back any negative ‘self’ talk by staying positive and keeping calm.

108096We LOVE what we do. We believe in the power of scrapbooks and their role in the lives of people. One only needs to watch the end of the movie ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ or observe a child absorbed in a photo album, ( I recall just last week a consultant photogaphed her child who had fallen asleep with albums on his knee) or as it is in my case see the light in the eyes of my fragile and feeble mum who shares the storybook celebrating her 50 years of marriage I made her with everyone who comes through her door, to know that scrapbooking matters.

Nationwide (and further south in New Zealand) we are vowing to continue to deliver our message and support our customers to make priceless scrapbooks of their precious photos and memories. We believe in ourselves and our leaders. Our workshops are not only still on as scheduled many of us are adding more workshops for the interim while we wait for the company to recover from the crisis and be able to supply the goods we need.

Consultants are supporting each other to source products that have disappeared from the shelves in the warehouse in a frenzy of panic purchasing of our most precious product lines, the scrapbook pages and protectors and the signature tools.

Customers are rallying, supporting us by coming to workshops and even bringing in new customers in excited anticipation of what the future for their consultant might look like. By supporting us, they support their own commitment to personal scrapbooking as well as their consultant who inspires them. We thank you sincerely for your words of support and encouragement and your loyalty to our product and service.

keepcalm

Consultants are being creative, finding ways to continue in this wonderful business, working for ourselves with all that direct selling offers us while we wait for what the company will evolve into. We are staying positive. We expect it might get a bit rocky (perhaps very rocky at times) but it is also very exciting to imagine the possibilities of the future for our company under the leadership of our business manager and Senior Directors.

What about my response? 

Keep calm umbrella

Watch this space! More workshops, more ideas, lots of positive thinking, and lots of scrapbooking. This crisis is bringing out the best in us. Hope, journey, and fun. While we might not have all we want or think we need right now let’s make the most of what we do have.

For information about workshops, new scheduled events, ordering supplies and more please head to my website events list.  I anticipate my CM site will at some point become unavailable but in the mean time you can however go there now, browse currently available products, place an order and pay online, or message me with your order and I will endeavour to fill it. If postage is required you will need to include that cost.The next events of significance – Memoranza. May 18 Robinvale. May 19 Mildura. Bookings are essential so we can be sure you have all you need. Use the site link or email me. I already have the ‘goodies’, but the quantity is limited.

Meanwhile…dig through your stash, book into a workshop, follow me on facebook, twitter, or pinterest and most of all Keep calm and scrap on! 

 

stay-calm-stay-scrappy

Jen