Project Life 2015: Week 7

Celebrating my little Chlopepper’s birthday this week of 2015!  I used one of Cathy Zielske’s layouts as I have chosen to do for the entire year.  Love the simple squared edges & super wide borders of this particular series.  It’s also super easy to mix and match sizes for various photos that don’t come in the sizes I want in her layouts.  I’m digging using Katie Pertiet’s counting weeks this year for continuity.  And of course, Anna Aspnes style is one that I simply adore for the artwork.  I’m trying to not get so hung up on embellishments as I am content this year.  I’m leaning toward more Word Art than cute bits on the layouts, although sometimes I can’t pass up a cute doodah.  I used Anna’s Go Retro Art Play Palette for these two layouts this week.  Also bits from her Knowledge, Sage, Radiant, and Learn Art Play Palettes as well as Anew Word Art.

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Project Life 2015: Week 6

For this week’s layouts, I used items from Anna Aspnes Art Play Palettes Artsy, Basketball, Authentic and ExLibris as well as Katie Pertiet’s Counting Weeks, and layout from Cathy Zielske.  It’s always fun to create layouts from birthday weeks!

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31 Things: Prompt 4 – Spirit

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This story is a pretty personal one for me, and there is so much more that I could have said regarding my spiritual history.  I think it sounds a bit matter of fact, and not really very emotional.  I feel it’s a bit different that what Ali’s prompt intended, but is what makes it mine.  I used doodahs from Anna Aspnes’ kits.

31 Things: Prompt 02 – Morning Routine

For this story, I decided to not hold back, and use up the entire page if I wanted to.  Keeping the embellishments to a minimum with a bit of stitching & Katie Pertiet’s lettering from her Alandia kit.  I’m really big on clocks and time in my work, so I wanted a very subtle clock beneath the “morning routine” text under the photo.

I really wanted to find a photo of my kids and their dad with all the breakfast fixings, but just couldn’t locate one in my stash.  I want these stories to reflect photos throughout the years, so when I found this photo from 2003, I thought “perfect!”  Love & miss those tiny little humans!

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31 Things: Prompt 01 – Jewelry

I went ahead and signed up for Ali Edwards’ bundle of 31 Things & 31 More Things.  I was kind of like, mmmm maybe I shouldn’t have done that.  But I’m kind of glad I did.  I have a hard time really sticking to projects & classes, but I’m hoping I will when 31 More Things goes live.  I’m getting tired of how much time I’m wasting on television & social media instead of focusing my creativity.  I have so much that I want to get done as far as record keeping goes.  As much as I love Project Life, I’m over-filling the albums with probably WAY too much content.  It would suck for the albums to just sit on shelves, and no one ever looks at them because they’re overwhelmed with thousands of photos & social media clips.  So, I think it’s time to take a step back and do more of the story telling and move my albums in that direction.  It’s a delicate balance, because I’ve kept a journal since I was 8 years old.  I have so many journals, and SO MUCH content I don’t know that my kids even want to read them all.  So how do you take a step back, and focus on your stories so that others will want to know what you have to say?

I have this artwork above my desk that I love!  I freaking found it at Wal-Mart of all places!  But I want the daily reminder to write my story.  To finish our Project Life before I die.  Hopefully that is a long ways off, but that is my simple life goal.  Motherhood was always my dream job as a child, and I think of myself as a mom (as most moms do, I’m sure) before anything else!

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I spent WAY too much time taking a photo of my piece of jewelry last night for the first prompt, but left the project open and finished the story this morning.  I told myself “focus on the story” over and over before I went to bed.  My journaling is SERIOUSLY LACKING in Project Life, and I want to tell more of the stories instead of relying so heavily on screen shots of social media to tell the story for me.  I love what Ali  said in her video about thinking about what people will think 50 years from now.  I have my dad’s parents’ old photo albums, and I tried to get him to tell me who the people were before he died.  He said it was too depressing, so now I can’t identify anyone beyond my grandparents & great grandmother in those albums.  I have to remember that not everyone will recognize who the people are in my albums, and those are the people who will need to know details someday!  I’m so far behind for 2015 with PL, but I’m taking a break to channel my creativity in a different direction in hopes of improving my story telling.

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I don’t really even know where I got the patterned papers from.  It was in my cardstock stash in my closet, so I just scanned them into my computer.  The brown patterned papers and buttons are Anna Aspnes of course, and the stitching in the middle is some random embellishment in my stash.  I don’t print my 12×12 images individually and slip them into covers.  I print them on Blurb.  So I think for this album, I’m going to keep it separate and print 31 Things and 31 More Things in one album separate from Project Life.  I incorporate my One Little Word each year into Project Life, but this is kind of an all encompassing thing throughout years rather than something that happens in one single year.

The Feels

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I knew Heidi Swapp back before she was famous in the scrapbooking industry.  Back in the days when she was one of the early winners in the Creating Keepsakes Hall of Fame layout contests.  She used to teach at a little scrapbook shop called Memory Lane in Mesa, Arizona located at Stapley & Baseline Roads.  That was their “new” location after they expanded, I honestly can’t even remember where the original store was now.  Somewhere closer to downtown Mesa, if memory serves me correctly.

Anyway, I fell in love with Heidi’s personality, her scrapbook style, the way she helped ME find my creativity.  I remember she would put on Sheryl Crow’s (new) album C’mon C’mon, and we’d listen to Soak Up the Sun.  She was SO inspiring.  I had the opportunity to attend a book release at her home back around the year 2000.  It was gorgeous.  Everything she did (and still does) is just soooo beautiful.

Man, to go back in time and be in my early 30’s… with small children, young families, scrapbooking by hand.  I did enter my work in one of the Hall of Fame contests, and obviously didn’t win.  The way you view your talents is so relative, isn’t it?  So many people look at my creations and are in awe.  Yet I compare myself to the greats – Heidi Swapp, Anna Aspnes, Becky Higgins, Ali Edwards, Kim Klassen, and I’m like, uhm.  Not so much.

I wound up opening a scrapbook store online, and sold so many products on eBay.  Man, you could really make some good money on eBay back in the day.  I was really into the whole thing between 2000 – 2003.  Taking classes, growing my store, getting into photography, being a mom, active in my church, having a beautiful new home in Higley Groves in Gilbert.  Yet I was silently suffering from anorexia and depression the whole time.  I remember feeling SO lonely.  I had SO much, yet was so sad.  There were days where I just lived in my pajamas at a whopping 93 pounds.

Heidi moved on from Memory Lane to Making Memories magazine & product lines.  I moved from Gilbert to Wyoming, closed my scrapbooking business, stopped taking photographs and eventually back home to Arizona with my five children minus my husband.  I went to therapy for the divorce, anorexia and depression as well as went back to school to get my Bachelors in Accountancy and then my MBA.  I had a successful career as a tax accountant and lived life as a single parent of five.

I followed Heidi’s blog for a few years, and read about all her adventures in China, etc.  Then I stopped.  Her life just seemed too perfect for me, and mine had gone in a complete direction than where it started back in the early days at Memory Lane.  I sold all my supplies on eBay, although I did start taking photographs again with a tiny little digital camera.  It wasn’t until about 2008 that I began scrapbooking again.  This time I went digital.  And I fell in love with it.  In January of 2009, I bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D60.  Loved that thing.  And my photography really took off.  I discovered Kim Klassen and got into a lot of still life photography.  I joined a photography club and took a course from Karen Russell (unfortunately my dad died right in the middle of that class).  Meanwhile, I was still battling depression, had a couple failed attempts at new relationships, got in a car accident, worked in tax in public accounting (stressful!), and then in 2012 was hit with shingles.  I attempted to continue the photography and even upgraded to a Nikon D300s, but never really made friends with that camera.  I had permanent nerve damage in my leg from the shingles (a condition called PHN that really sucks).  A lot of REALLY HARD things happened, but I’m not going to say my life was miserable, because it wasn’t.  I have SO MANY happy memories of my kids throughout the years.  As far as scrapbooking went, I created a lot of cool pages, and really zoned into the photography more so than the scrapbooking.

It wasn’t until about 2013 that I FINALLY got my own depression under control.  I give the credit to my granddaughter who was born in January that year.  OMG!  Holding Brielle healed my heart.  My depression medication was really perfected about this time as well.  I had also made peace with NOT getting in romantic relationships as well which contributed to my ultimate happiness as well.  I always seemed to lose so much of ME trying to make someone else happy.  When I turned 100% to my kids and granddaughter, I FREAKING FOUND HAPPINESS!  It was there the WHOLE time waiting for me!  The things we WISH we had learned sooner.  I also discovered Project Life in 2012, but really didn’t commit until 2013 which is the first year I completed my first Project Life album.  I had it printed via Blurb, and printed it for my kids for Christmas, 2014.  That is also the day one of my son’s best friends committed suicide.  So, so, SO sad.  It hit our family SO hard, as well as my son’s friends.  So heartbreaking.

Earlier this year, two of my own children came to me with battles they were fighting with depression.  Without breaking their confidences, it was hard.  I GET the depression monster.  It is very REAL, and VERY scary.  The term “not in your right mind” is a legitimate fear.  I’m so sick of people who think depression is something you can just exercise or eat healthy through and it will all go away.  Even therapy isn’t enough.  I BELIEVE in anti-depressants.  I BELIEVE in taking anti-depressants EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  It’s just like having diabetes.  Diabetics need insulin.  Individuals suffering from depression need anti-depressants.  I DO NOT believe being on anti-depressants causes people to commit suicide.  Those thoughts were there long before the meds came into the picture.  There is NO SHAME in suffering from this illness.  I’m SO grateful I had finally gotten my own depression under control so I could help my kids get theirs under control.  Our doctor didn’t just throw pills at the kids like candy, he counseled us to get them therapy.  Which we did.  A fantastic elderly gentleman named Dr. Hubbard was a perfect fit for my kids.  We got lucky on the first try.  Are we out of the woods?  Never.  You have to stay one step ahead of it each and every single day.  I’d look at my kids and a flash of them in a coffin would pop into my head, and I’d have a complete panic attack.  I check in with them regarding their meds, and watch their moods.  They’re stable at this point and their therapist released both of them leaving the door open to come back and talk to him anytime they need to, but you can bet the fear is always in the back of my mind.

Which brings me back to Heidi Swapp.  While I follow Ali Edwards and Kim Klassen on iGram, I haven’t really ever gone back to following Heidi Swapp.  I’ve made peace with my own life, and the evolution of it going in a completely different direction than I had planned.  I peeked at Heidi’s iGram account last night, and discovered a photo of she and her husband standing next to a coffin, and my heart. just. sank.  Her son committed suicide a few weeks ago.  OMG!  I just can’t even imagine the heartache she’s going through.  I’ve only had a small taste of the horrific tragedy suicide brings to everyone with the suicide of my son’s best friend at Christmas last year, as well as helping my children with their own depression struggles.  But to actually go through it in my own family has not happened.  I don’t know how I could possibly deal with it.

I was so touched by the way she threw her entire heart and soul into his funeral, and it was her amazing creativity that helped her through it all.  She had everyone sign his coffin with notes of love in sharpie pen, which is just a fantastic thing to do.  The damn box is going in the ground, so who cares that you spent thousands on it?  She not only helped herself grieve, she helped everyone else grieve and show her son the love they felt for him.  Her blog post is so touching and inspiring (and makes you cry for sure).  I’m sure she’s spending nights crying herself to sleep, and not taking photos of those moments, obviously.  Moms know how we weep for our children, that much goes without saying.  I don’t know that Heidi even remembers me, but my heart goes out to her.  It’s interesting how people touch your life, and while we definitely went down completely different paths, we kind of wound up in slightly similar places 15 years later.  Life does interesting things too you, and takes you to some pretty crazy places.  Some of them wild, exciting and amazing.  Others horrible, sad and heartbreaking.  And after all these years I find myself inspired by (and following) Heidi Swapp once again!  Sending love & positive vibes to Heidi & her family!

(To read her post about Heidi Swapp’s son’s passing, click here.)

If you (or someone you love) is suffering from depression, please get help.  Go to your doctor, find the right therapist, and do not be ashamed.  You are not alone.  Trust me!  There are many of us who are out there with you.  We get it.  Do not suffer in silence!  Help is out there.  Not every depression battle is the same.  Find the right combination that works for you.  It may take time.  It took me years to get it under control.  Some anti-depressants work right off the bat, others do not.  I went through several meds before finding the right combination.  I feel AMAZING now, but still take my medication EVERY DAY!  I do not stop taking the meds just because I feel good.  Whatever you do, don’t give up!