Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Tales of an underachieving Stampin' Up! Demonstrator......and how to unpack the 'Too Hard' basket

So here goes.... It's been a long time since I started this blog with high hopes of posting interesting projects and examples regularly and hopefully participating in challenges and making a design team along the way. As you can see none of those have happened.

I started this blog as a way of connecting with people and sharing my love of all crafts, especially stamping and paper crafts. Due to a chronic health condition, I had to retire from my teaching job at a young age and faced many difficulties associated with this. Not only had I lost my career, I also lost the physical ability to do many of the things that I loved, of which crafting was one. Many people face such road blocks throughout their life, not just associated with illness but also with such events as raising a young family or growing work commitments. I worked hard at making myself as well as I possibly could be - both physically and mentally. Being a bit of an overachiever that was a blessing and a curse. As with any medical condition (or life in general) there always seems to be peaks and troughs and it takes a lot of energy to ride out the troughs and also to not take the peaks for granted.

In between then and now a lot has happened but the upshot is that it all seemed too hard and made me doubt my creative ability. After all who would want to look and my little blog? I guess most crafters go through periods like this. To keep sane and have a creative but manageable outlet I focused mostly on cardmaking. There were times where all I could do was bookmark sites for when I was well enough but it was better than nothing. I have been holding monthly workshops for quite a few years now with a lovely group of ladies who are very encouraging and seem to love the things I design for them to make. Having those workshops gave me a focus and something non-medical to work on. It used my teaching skills (something I really missed using) and turns out I am really good at handouts!

I have used Stampin' Up! products since they were first introduced into Australia and have always loved them. My now upline Sharon Turnbull often asked me if I wanted to be a demonstrator and I always declined as I found the commitment daunting as my health was in a state of constant change. I joined as a demonstrator in 2013 and have found the whole experience great.

So that leads me to why I've dusted off the old blog. I went to my first Stampin' Up! Convention last weekend and loved it.

That's me on the right with my fellow sidelines Jenny McGrath and Peta Stephen.
I found the whole convention really inspiring and it certainly got me thinking. There were great demonstrations of techniques and projects as well as business ideas. I watched all of the people walking across the stage to receive awards and became a bit disheartened as I don't think that that will ever be me. Sometimes I feel just getting out of bed and remaining upright deserves an award! I guess it is only natural to feel really happy for the award recipients but also think "What about me?" Sing it if you want!

While listening to different presenters talk, I started to think about how I could expand my workshops and customer base and realised that it may not be physically possible for me. I've been feeling a bit 'stuck' this year so I put some serious thought into how I could expand what I do or progress things in an achievable way. That got me thinking about why I joined Stampin' Up! in the first place. That being that it allows me to achieve at a level that suits me, while still participating within the Stampin" Up community.

After I got home from convention I had all of these thoughts whirling around in my head and happened to see the announcement about applications for the Artisan Design Team. Being on a design team or being published in a craft magazine have always been dreams of mine. So I read all about the application process. The line that read .."If you would like to be considered for this elite opportunity, it's not too late to start your DBWS or personal blog today!" got me dreaming. Between Monday and today (Wednesday) I've gone from being extremely enthusiast and confident that I could satisfy the criteria to apply and then doubting everything.

That brings me to the cliché that is my Too Hard basket. I started to think about everything that I've read in self help books, learnt in pain and chronic disease management courses, psychologist and counsellor sessions etc. It all boils down to a few key things that have resonated with me. They sound really simple but sometimes we get so bogged down in the immenseness of a task that we don't actually start it.

1. It's not the destination but the journey. Enjoy the process rather than only focussing on the end goal. So what if I don't make the design team - there's always next year right? Next year might be a bit more realistic seeing as I only have 24 days left to apply. If reading about the design team only serves as impetus to restart my blog and branch out into other online areas then that not a bad thing.

2. Break things down into small achievable chunks and work your way through. Think of the goal and what tasks need to be done to achieve this. Pick one thing to tackle then move on to the next.

3. Everyone's personal best will be different. My award might be satisfaction after the my first sale of an online tutorial rather than walking on stage.

4. Do what you love and love what you do. Find a way to make that happen.

This post has been a long time coming and if I don't finish it now it will remain a draft and I'll be quite unhappy with myself.

Here's what I know:
  • I love stamping and paper craft and the design process.
  • I love Stampin' Up! products and the community it provides.
  • I love teaching.
  • I'm good at notes, hand outs and tutorials.
  • I'm as creative as the next person - I just need to believe in my ability.
  • I've always wanted to be published or on a design team.
Here's what I know is in my Too Hard basket and I need to start working on. (I'm sure there will be more things lurking at the bottom that I didn't know were in there! These are just the major ones that come to mind. If I waited to build a larger list it would be next year.)
  • Read the Stampin' Up! demonstrator site for the exact wording and rules for posting on blogs. (I know this is the first important thing I need to do so that I can post any samples I make and it will be my next item to attend to).
  • Revamp my blog a bit.
  • Learn how to link the current catalogue and weekly specials to my blog.
  • Start posting projects and samples.
  • Design online classes/kits/club.
  • Connect with others online and maybe find a mentor.
That will do for a start. If I get any non family or friends reading this that will be amazing (or a miracle not sure which!).

Off to tend to the cold that I picked up at Convention now.

Thanks for reading this/wake up now.



  1. Love the blog Lou. A positive approach to life in general has come from your writing. Good luck with the application process. Go for it. This activity will be the beginning of other pursuits I am sure. Love your line of craft goodies and brilliant cards. The "Rose".

    1. Thanks so much for your continued support and just being there. I really appreciate your encouragement.

  2. Hi Lou! Just found your blog and wanted to cheer you on in your paper crafting career! You have LOTS of talent and I'm being very inspired by your beautiful creations!! Also, I've taken a moment to pray for you, asking the Lord to strengthen and encourage you and to let you know that He loves you and is walking with you!! May the Lord richly bless you! Hugs, Rita

    1. Hi Rita, Thank you for not only having a look at my blog but also taking the time to leave a comment. I really appreciate it. You are my first non family or friend to do so - so that's very exciting. I hope you keep popping back. On Sunday night I will be posting as part of a blog hop featuring products from the new Stampin' Up! catalogue. Thanks again. Lou

  3. Hi Lou,
    What a lovely blog you have. I came across your blog from pinterest where i saw your lovely butterfly card. I never comment on peoples blog, but after reading your "too hard basket" post I just had to. I am a fellow stampin up demonstrator in perth and you were so brave putting your thoughts out there. Well done !!! I love your blog and i also love how you are putting instructions on there as well. So I'm going off now to try and re crate your butterfly card !!! Any chance you could put up instructions on how you made your pop up step card ?? They are gorgeous. Good luck with your design team and your business I will be regularly following your blog. Keep up the great work. Regards Jodie

    1. Hi Jodie, Thanks so much for taking the time to not only look at my blog but to leave a comment. Good luck with your card. I'd love to see how it looks when you finish. I have the instructions for the pop up step card that I did up for the class when I taught. If you fill out the contact box on the right of my blog I will email them to you. At the moment I'm not sure if they make sense without the narration from me that you get in a class situation. If you are good at following instructions you'll have no problem. I will have to put a tutorial on my list of things to do. Anyway I applied to the design team and while I probably won't get in I am happy that I gave it my best shot. Hope to hear from you again. Lou


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