Category Archives: About Me

Hello from O-H-I-O!

Certain Smiles' Creative Space, Bowling Green, Ohio

Certain Smiles’ Creative Space, Bowling Green, Ohio

Has it really been almost 9 months since I’ve posted here?  Much has happened.  Most importantly, I’m no longer writing this from the comfort of my cozy den in Somers, New York,  but from my sun-filled office / craft space in my new apartment in Bowling Green, Ohio.  I have more than enough space for both an office and craft room here – and absolutely love my new town – so different from where I was.

Fall 2015 was busy with preparations for a couple of craft fairs.   Once again I discovered that it is the “cute” / stocking stuffer items that sell the best, while my cards and other creative endeavors linger on the table and tended to be overlooked.

So I satisfied my need to create cards by donating bunches of them to a local retirement / rehabilitation facility where they could be sold at the gift shop and any profits used to benefit resident activities.  My coworkers were also subjected to card packs for Christmas gifts.  One coworker was so impressed he purchased a dozen more sets to give away at a spring gathering of long-time friends.  Nothing like a request to make 150 cards to make me happy and get those creative ideas flowing.

I did that last project, however, under a bit of a time crunch.  In late December I had traveled to Bowling Green for a job interview and by mid-January I had accepted to position.  I was to start March 1st so between the end of January and mid-February I was completing my card order between periods of packing.  There is nothing like having to pack up all your craft supplies to make you realize exactly how many of them you really have……  And yet I can still somehow convince myself that if I just buy this or that stamp set it will be “the one” to make all the difference in whether or not someone buys my cards.  Delusional? Yes.  Happy?  Yes.  Overstocked?  Definitely!!

I’ve already found a charity here to make some cards for and I’m back to stocking my Etsy store, so I certainly will have plenty of variety to offer.  And I have friends and family back in New York to send cards too and new coworkers to share my card-making passion with as well.

Life is good!

Thomas enjoying his new home in Ohio

Thomas enjoying his new home in Ohio

 

 

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Still Stamping the Blues

Any one who knows me or has seen my desk at work or craft space at home knows that neatness is not my greatest attribute.  Nor am I one to quickly straighten up after working on a project.  So, needless to say, after my venture with Hanukkah cards two weeks ago, my craft table is still full of blue card stock of every design and hue that I own.  The only difference is that last weekend I shifted gears and put away my one set of Hanukkah stamps and pulled out my many and varied Christmas stamps.  I’ve got penguins, snowflakes, snowmen, the three wise men, the shepherds watching their flock, holiday ornaments, Christmas trees, pine branches, reindeer, etc.

You name it, I probably have a stamp for it.  Except Santa Claus.  I’m not sure why.  Well, that’s not true.  I do know.  I just don’t like the way the holly, jolly fellow has been commercialized.  Instead, I tend towards the more traditional symbols and sayings of the season and prefer to use them for my Christmas cards.  Here are a few that I came up with last weekend:

Handmade Christmas Card with Silhouette of the Three Wise Men by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin' Up!

Handmade Christmas Card with Silhouette of the Three Wise Men by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin’ Up!

Handmade Christmas Card with Silhouette of the Shepherds in the Field by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin' Up!

Handmade Christmas Card with Silhouette of the Shepherds in the Field by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin’ Up!

Handmade Snowman and Snowflake Card by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin' Up!

Handmade Snowman and Snowflake Card by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin’ Up!

OK, the last one is more whimsical than traditional.  I like making those kinds of cards too.   As I said, I’m still in blue mode.  I’ll break out the reds and greens in a few weeks.  I’m excited for that, but also dreading it.  You see, I’ve come to realize I made a rookie mistake when I started card making – I bought WAY too much in terms of papers, stamps, ribbons, buttons, punches, etc.  I kept thinking “oh, just think what I could make with that” whenever I saw a new stamp set or new paper design that caught my eye…. And I still think that!  But when I sit down to make cards I’m overwhelmed with the options in front of me – which set do I want to use? Which color combination? Which patterned paper?  It doesn’t help that I keep every little scrap of paper so I’m sometimes stuck trying to create a design around mismatched odds and ends!  No wonder I feel exasperated and frustrated rather than exhilarated and fulfilled.

But the good news is that I think I’ve learned my lesson.  And I’ll share some tips in my next post.

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Filed under About Me, Card Making, Christmas Cards

Hanukkah Hubris

It is early August and my craft table is awash in a sea of blue and white card stock.  No, I’m not scrapbooking about a recent vacation at the beach.   What I am doing is working on this year’s crop of Hanukkah cards.  Although Hanukkah is still 4 months away, I want to get them up on my Etsy store now so shoppers will have a chance to see them before the actual holiday.

Blue is one of my favorite colors, so I am enjoying this project.  But as someone who does not celebrate Hanukkah, I am challenged to know whether or not the end results are anything those who do celebrate the holiday would want to share with others.    I guess only time will tell.  As I search online for suggested sayings for Hanukkah cards I find it interesting that many sayings sound suspiciously like the generic phrases that might go into Christmas cards, including: “good tidings at Hanukkah.”  Seriously?

These others seem much more thematically appropriate:

  • Wishing for the festival of lights to shine down on you and your family
  • Happy Hanukkah from all of us to your beautiful family.  May these eight days of celebration bring peace and joy to your household
  • May the Menorah candles shine bright in your life.  Remember the miracle they represent. Best wishes.
  • May this Hanukkah fill your home with faith, light, freedom and love.
  • May your home grow brighter, your faith grow stronger, and your hearts be warm with each candle you light.

Perhaps this is why on the second page of my search results there was a link to a blog post about whether Hanukkah cards were simply the further corruption of that minor holiday into something it’s not: a card-worthy end of the year holiday – i.e. Christmas as well as the New Year (as opposed to the Jewish New Year which occurs in the fall).

Am I assisting in this co-oping process by adding my own cards to the mix?  Probably, but if so, I am hardly the first – commercial card makers, major retailers and advertisers have been at it long before me — and I doubt I will be the last.  But as I ponder the issue it does put a damper on my Hanukkah card making enthusiasm and I wonder if it’s even worth it.

Just as I wonder any time I put a card up on my Etsy site — if I’m ever going to make a difference with them.  I’d like to think, major or minor holiday, birthday or just because, there is always a reason to send a card to someone.  Just to let them know they are on your mind.  There are few things better (at least to me) than to open the mailbox at the end of the day and find amongst all the catalogs and advertising flyers an envelope with familiar handwriting on it – from a friend or a family member and to discover it’s a card or letter from them.  [Of course as I write this I realize I don’t necessarily practice what I preach and am rather negligent in my own reaching out, except for the two most important people in my life.  The others I connect to by e-mail or phone, if that.]

When I first started making cards, I had grand plans; I was going to change the world with my cards; people were going to use them to write things of great import and with great impact on those who received them.  Um….yeah, right.  I’ve often heard that the way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans.   He obviously has not agreed that this is my grand purpose in life.   I wonder what is.

 

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles. Images (c) Stampin' Up!

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles. Images (c) Stampin’ Up!

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles.  Images (c) by Stampin' Up!

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles. Images (c) by Stampin’ Up!

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Filed under About Me, Card Making, Card Sayings, Hanukkah Cards

Scrapbooking with Snapfish and Digital Photographs

Marguerite and Charles Sauer

Marguerite and Charles Sauer

Oh dear…..It’s been over 2 months since I’ve posted here.  Not good.  Unfortunately, life has gotten in the way – not of card making, but of my trying to come up with good blog content.  Actually, I’ve been rather busy making cards and really enjoying it.  Last weekend I sent out over 60 cards total, divided between my eight cousins on my Dad’s side and my brother and sister-in-law.  There is a great pleasure from making cards with no pressure of “will they sell”, “will someone reading my blog like them”, “will someone repin them”, “will someone taking a class like them”, etc.   Instead they were gifts and as I made them I simply enjoyed the creative process.  I hope the recipients of the cards liked them as well.

I was writing to all my cousins because I was sending out a small book with photographs of our grandparents and parents.  Originally, I was going to make scrapbooks with photo pages and actual photos — even had multiple prints made of each of the photographs.  And then it dawned on me — duh! Why re-create the same wheel 9 times when I could just do a digital photobook!  So much faster.

So I went to Snapfish — my go to site for all things digitally photographic — and started plugging away.  I had scanned the original images at 300 dpi as .TIFs, but .JPEGs were plenty large enough for the 8 1/2 x 11 size books I ended up ordering.  It also made uploading the photographs to Snapfish quicker.  I had done my touch up work on the photographs in Photoshop before uploading them to Snapfish, although the Snapfish photobook software does include a modest ability to increase and decrease brightness and make other minor adjustments to the photos.  Alas, despite numerous read-throughs and revisions, a couple of typos did slip through.  Word of advice: when doing a digital project like this,  have someone else proofread it for you; after a while  you get too close to it and won’t see your own errors.    I wasn’t able to perhaps embellish the digital scrapbook as much as I might have liked if I had been doing it with actual photographs, photo pages, patterned scrapbook paper and the whole nine yards, but for the project I was creating, there was a template that fit my needs very well and I ended up with a very handsome finished product.  And this method was certainly quicker and easier given that I had multiple copies to have printed.

The feedback I’ve gotten so far on the books has been very positive.  Unfortunately, it usually isn’t possible — or realistic — to keep all the trinkets, photographs, clippings, cards, and other “stuff” that make up a life.  So, I selected a representative sample of photographs that documented the life of my grandparents as they made their life’s  work as missionaries in Korea, and of my dad and his two older brothers in family photos through the years as they grew up.   I’m hoping the books will be passed down by my cousins to their own children to keep the family history alive.  If that happens with just one of the books I sent out last week, I will have been successful.

 

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Filed under About Me, Digital Photography, Digital Scrapbooking, Scrapbooking

Some Thoughts on Valentine’s Day Cards

Oops!  I realized this morning as I walked through the drug store – and passed the blazing red Valentine card display – that this was a golden opportunity to post to my blog — and I’d almost totally forgotten about it!  Not like this isn’t one of the biggest card holidays of the year – with, according to the Greeting Card Association, 145 million “units” purchased annually.

But what to write about it? Suggestions for what to write in your card? Maybe some other time, when I haven’t forgotten the occasion and have more time to prepare — like next January…. In the meantime, there are loads of other sites out there that do that.  Just check Google.

No, that’s been done before.  So here are some random thoughts on Valentine’s, for what they are worth.

1.  Apparently the origins of St. Valentine’s Day are not well known and there are conflicting facts and theories about it.  But regardless of its origins, it is generally agreed that by the Middle Ages, February had become a month of romance and Valentine greetings were being exchanged.   Interestingly, according to History.com, by the 1900s, printed cards became popular, in part, because they were “an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged.”  Now, on Twitter and Facebook, people just bare all!  I wish they’d just do it privately in a card….

2.  I think at some point the card, candy and jewelry industries hijacked Valentine’s Day.  I remember the few years after my dad passed away loathing commercials around Christmas time — no matter what product they were selling, they all promoting the themes of family and togetherness.  Intellectually, I knew the people in them were just actors, had no relationship to each other, and the snow was fake, but emotionally, they tugged at my heart – for the opportunities never to come and for the reality that never existed.  It’s the same way with Valentine’s Day.  Watch TV from mid-January through mid-February and you’re bombarded with reminders that she’ll love you forever for getting her that sparkly, pretty this or that to put on her ears, finger, wrist, or neck.  And that if you’re a woman who doesn’t have a guy to buy you that bling, well, suck it up sweetie, because everyone else but you has someone who will (or so society / Hollywood / advertising would lead you to believe).    If you want to read an incredible blog post by a very insightful and intelligent young woman along the lines of this subject, check out my niece’s blog, Within the Ivory Palace.

3.  Try as they might, Hallmark doesn’t always say it best.  I’ll admit it; I’m one of the lucky ones.  After many, many years of not having anyone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with, I am now blessed to have found a “special someone”.  I’ve already made a card for him.  He hates glitter, so it’s nothing too frilly, but I think it’s something he’ll like.   But when I was at the store I thought, well maybe I’ll just take a look and see if there is something here that I should get as well, something that just hits the nail on the head when it comes to describing our relationship.  Well, I stood there for at least 10 minutes picking up card after card (yes, even the ones with glitter).  Some had multiple paragraphs, about love and relationships, shared history, shared memories, not saying I love you enough, wishing to spend more time together, and more.  The whole gamut of emotions regarding romantic relationships printed up just waiting for a signature…. yet none of them fit.  Oh sure, some fit in part.  I’d think, yeah, that’s perfect, but then the next line would be totally not us.  I even walked away and then returned, thinking maybe I’d missed something.  But no, I hadn’t.   What I write in my card to him probably won’t be as flowery – or as long – it may simply be “Happy Valentine’s Day”.  I probably said more in the “Thank You” card I sent him card a few weeks ago where I thanked him for bringing out the best in me.   But whatever I say, it will be better than letting Hallmark do it for me.

4.  Some of the best Valentine’s I’ve ever received have been (a) unexpected, (b) from friends, and (c) from my cats.  Yes, my cats.  You see, Valentine’s Day is for celebrating love – of all sorts.  Not just the mushy romantic stuff forced down our throats by people trying to sell stuff because it’s one of their biggest revenue generators of the year (see point 2 above).  A card from a friend letting them know how much you value their friendship or a card to your parents or kids is just as important.  And yes, my mom does help out the cats with their cards to me — and because she captures their personalities so perfectly with what “they” write and has such a fun sense of humor about it, they are some of my most treasured cards from her/them.

So, as usual, my suggestion is to write from the heart.  Sure, go online and get some ideas as to what to say, but don’t let Hallmark or anyone else do all the talking for you.  And don’t let anyone tell you whether or not you can celebrate Valentine’s Day based on your relationship status.  Everyone has someone in their life (I hope!) worth celebrating a relationship with — a friend, coworker, sibling, parent, or romantic partner.  Even if you don’t do it in writing, or otherwise formally acknowledge it on Valentine’s Day, at least say a little prayer of thanks for that blessing in your life.

Everyone deserves a Valentine's Day card like this one.  Image c. Stampin' Up!

Everyone deserves a Valentine’s Day card like this one. Image c. Stampin’ Up!

 

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Filed under About Me, Card Sayings, Valentine's Day Cards

Happy New Year 2015!

Handmade Happy New Year greeting card

Handmade Happy New Year greeting card

Out with the old, in with the……old?

Started the new year bound and determined to “kick it up a notch” on my card designs! Bring new life to my Etsy shop! And so, I sit down to craft and look at my Pinterest page to check out samples of cards I’ve pinned over the past year. And what happens?  Yup, despite all the lovely and creative designs in front of me, I end up going back to my basic “go to” design — which involves using a large piece of Stampin’ Up! designer series paper as the feature.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  You see, I can’t get enough of those designs and colors.  They just call out to me.  They are so pretty and inviting and I hate to cover them up with any embellishments or other pieces of card stock…..  Here are a few samples….See what I mean?

Handmade Encouragement Card by Certain Smiles

Handmade Encouragement Card by Certain Smiles

ThreeDSPStripGWS_Version1_1

Handmade Get Well Card by Certain Smiles

SoSorry_ForYourLoss

Handmade Sympathy Card by Certain Smiles

Not bad.  The paper is the star – as it should be.   I have a theory as to why I let the pretty paper do most of the talking in my designs:  Someone else has already done the job of making it beautiful.  Why mess with perfection?  The coordinating colors, the intricate details, the fun and funky patterns – what do I have to add?

Answer: A lot!  So stay tuned.  I know I’ve been saying this for a while now, but I’m going to keep trying, keep creating and will eventually find my own style, my own groove, my own “look”! 2015 is going to be wonderful.

Thomas Edison on Failure

Thomas Edison on Failure

 

 

 

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Where Do All The Photos Go?

This fall my mom and I went to Winterthur (well worth the visit if you are ever in the Wilmington, Delaware area), to see an exhibit of the Costumes of Downton Abbey. My mom is a fan of the show; I’ve never watched an episode, but I still enjoyed seeing the detailed costume designs and learning more about the time period in which these fictional characters live and how their experiences in Britain would have compared with the du Ponts at Winterthur.

It was a very popular exhibit and admission was by timed pass only. This practice is the norm these days for popular museum exhibits, but I’m a bit cynical that it works, although I suppose it’s the best option available. Still it always feels as if the museums oversell each time slot because you are still cheek to jowl with your fellow museum patrons, moving like cattle along a predetermined route, with occasional backlogs as groups gather to read particularly interesting or lengthy descriptive text. Now, it’s not like my mom and I had any other plans for the day so we could take our time and wait out the bottlenecks, but I’m just not a fan of crowds so when something is that busy I tend to want to get through and get out so I can breathe again.

Crowd control in situations like these isn’t helped any by the camera happy – and with an exhibit with as much eye candy as this one, there were plenty of people pulling out their smart phones to capture all the sights. Now I can see taking a picture or two of your favorite costume, or the costume of your favorite character or from a favorite scene, but some people seemed to be just indiscriminately snapping everything in sight! I hate to image what their Facebook or Instagram feeds look like.

But, my snarky comment aside, I honestly do wonder what they do with all those pictures. You see, the other part of that weekend with my mom was spent going through years (and I do mean years) of family snapshots and slides from the 1970s and 1980s and tossing most of them. You don’t really appreciate how revolutionary the digital camera is until you spend the better part of two days remembering how you had to wait for the pictures to come back from the drug store (Sun Drug on Route 19 to be exact) only to find out someone’s eyes were closed or someone wasn’t smiling. Or you had to wait for Kodak to mail your slides back to you (all so dad could bring the slide projector and slide screen to every family gathering….but that’s another story).

I suppose the pictures could have been weeded as soon as they came back from the developer, but it was expensive to have them made, so they were kept, every one of them, and carefully labeled too; if not individually, then at least on the package so we generally knew the date and event. Do people take such care with their digital photographs? Or is it so easy to store and delete them that they don’t even give them a second thought; just snap away and in a couple of years have no idea the people, places or events that reside on their phones? (Well, ok, hopefully they’ll be able to identify the selfies.)

When digital storage is cheap, is it just so easy to simply keep clicking and never review what you have? [Just ask the person who never weeds out her e-mail accounts, but simply files them away in folders…..] But I really hope all those shutter happy people do pause every now and then and take the time to review the past.

I wouldn’t trade that weekend with my mom for anything. It was emotionally draining at times; reliving the past can do that to you — lots of “what ifs”; roads not taken, stuff like that. But if you simply appreciate what was there, you realize how good it was. We shared a lot of laughs, a few tears, and ton of memories and made some more. We weeded the photographs into four boxes – one box for me, one for my brother, one for the family genealogy, and one for my mom. The trash can got the rest.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a scrapbook to make.

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Filed under About Me, Genealogy, Photographs

On Craft Fairs and the Future

Hello again! It’s been much longer that I intended to let slip by before writing here again. But a family medical emergency that took me away from home most of November unfortunately intervened. The good news is that all is well now on that front.

The other good news is that I was very satisfied with how I did at both of the craft fairs I attended this year. I had some sales at both, got to promote my Etsy shop, got some great ideas for other products to sell (as well as what not to sell) and in general enjoyed myself both days.

Certain Smiles' Booth, St. Thomas the Apostle PTO Craft Fair, 2014

Certain Smiles’ Booth, St. Thomas the Apostle PTO Craft Fair, 2014

It’s never wasted time if it can be considered a learning experience. And both days certainly were. And they were also great opportunities to interact with fellow vendors as well as customers. I’m an introvert by nature, but put me in a situation where I have to interact and I love it! Especially when I’m talking about something I enjoy as much as crafting.

Certain Smiles' booth, St. Thomas the Apostle PTO Craft Fair, 2014

Certain Smiles’ booth, St. Thomas the Apostle PTO Craft Fair, 2014

However, I now find myself at a bit of a crossroads, asking myself where do I go from here? While I met the goals I had set for myself this year for the craft fairs, what about for the future? As I said, I learned a lot this year. Including that perhaps craft fairs aren’t the best place to sell the products I make. Sure, the customers I had were very enthusiastic about my creations, but were there enough of them to make my attendance at the craft fairs really profitable? Or would I need to focus more on “stocking stuffer” type items to sell – and creating such items is not really in my game plan right now, though perhaps it could be.

So I’m taking December to reconsider and regroup. I’m not stopping creating, not by any means; just refining where I’m heading in 2015. This blog will be part of that journey. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

 

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Filed under About Me, Blogging, Craft Fairs, Creativity

Some Thoughts on Creativity

Perhaps I was better off not knowing the exact definition of the word. You see, I have a 4 x 6 index card sitting on a bookshelf in my den with the following statement in my rather messy handwriting: “I am creative”. However, sometimes I wonder if that’s a lie, or at least a half-truth.

It all started on a Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, when I rather optimistically sat down with a brand new package of Stampin’ Up!’s Simply Pressed Clay to create something I’d seen in Stampin’ Success!: their bimonthly magazine for Stampin’ Up! demonstrators. The finished product was very pretty and from the instructions they provided, sounded fairly straightforward to accomplish. I’d gotten my supplies (cookie cutters and the clay) about a month earlier and finally had worked up my courage to give it a try. It quickly became evident, however, that I was doing something, or perhaps many things, wrong and in the end I ended up not with a cute little clay dish formed in the shape of my chosen cookie cutter, but with a sticky and messy pink blob. In a last ditch effort to salvage my pride, I thought, well, I have a lump of clay, what could I at least shape it into? Yeah….nothing. Not even a cute little pink heart for my boyfriend. To me it was just a clump of clay, not some grand canvas waiting to be shaped and molded. Apparently I’m not meant to be a sculptor.

So after I cleaned up, and feeling pretty discouraged already, I decide maybe I should look up exactly what it means to be “creative”, pretty sure I wasn’t going to find my name listed. According to the Oxford Dictionary it is: “Relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something”. Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster gives one of the definitions of “create” as “to produce (something new, such as a work of art) by using your talents and imagination”.

I flinched when I read those definitions, because, strictly speaking, then I’m not really creative. I can’t make something out of nothing. I’m not, and never will be, a great artist. I think you are either born with that talent or you’re not. It’s not really something you can develop. For example, either you can sit down and the lines of a drawing flow out of you or it doesn’t and it will always look forced and amateurish.

I know of what I speak. When I was growing up, both my brother and I took piano lessons. I never got beyond a rote style of simply hitting the keys printed in the music book. The whole concept of the musical notation, the rests, the timing, the dynamics of how to play the music (mezzo forte, crescendo, etc.) was far beyond me. I couldn’t make music. My brother, on the other hand, has an ear for music. And he continues to this day to find great pleasure in playing music written by others and music he was written himself – both on guitar and keyboard – for others. I admire his talent and ability.

And, unfortunately, I think, for a period during my early adult years, I let my lack of musical talent negatively affect my opinion of myself as a creative person. I had never performed well in art class in school; I lacked natural drawing ability – I even remember being teased in elementary school because I couldn’t color inside the lines; my pottery endeavors always came out lopsided, and I’m too much of a “rules” person to see ordinary objects and want to use them for abstract art pieces.

But in my mid-30s I taught myself how to crochet. I was – and still am – very proud of that accomplishment. It’s tough though, with cats, to enjoy your own crochet work – too many tiny claws around to pull out the yarn and ruin things. So I enjoyed making baby blankets, afghans and other items for friends and family. Then, after brief spates of other crafty endeavors, came card making. And again, I found something I could be my kind of creative at. Found it BIG time. You see, luckily, in the world of paper-crafting, everyone is encouraged to “case” – copy and share everything. You can see what others have done, use the design for inspiration, and then add your own special style, flourish and flair.

Sometime within the last year or so, I read about a study of children’s impressions of their art work (unfortunately, I could not find a citation for it online; despite a lot of searching). As they got older, they were more critical of the quality of their work and found less enjoyment in it. As I began writing this posting I was agreeing with the authors of that study – that the results were discouraging and show how creativity is squashed by self-awareness. And maybe to some extent it is. But on the other hand, maybe it just reflects that as you grow up, you mature and realize, yes, you are better at some things than at others. And that other people are better at some things than you are. The kid next to you in school had incredible drawing ability; you don’t. It’s not pleasant to have that realization that you are “less than” in any category, but that’s part of maturing, and part of life. You need to learn how to acknowledge that you are not the best in some areas, but then move on and focus on those areas you are good at. You can’t dwell in what you lack or you’ll never find where you can succeed.

That’s why I’m glad I found card making and paper crafting. I’m not claiming I’m the best. Far from it, in fact. I fully accept that there are many, many, many, many, card makers / paper crafters out there who are far more creative than I am. I subscribe to their blogs and am awed by their talents every day.

But I can look at what they’ve created and use it to inspire my own work. I have found that I can learn. Or I can simply find enjoyment in my own acts of creation, whether or not they turn out as spectacularly as others or not. I do this for me. Everyone should have such an outlet.

And so, after the clay debacle, I went online to find out what I had done wrong and for suggestions on what to do right the next time. Sure enough, there were plenty of ideas. I can’t wait to give that clay dish another shot.

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Filed under About Me, Creativity

Hello world!

Welcome to the Certain Smiles Blog!

In a recent message, Joel Osteen (message #619-It’s Already Yours) spoke of an impression his father had of a part of Heaven. There was a warehouse full of boxes, each with someone’s name on them. His father asked St. Peter what all the boxes were for. St. Peter explained that they were the blessing that were assigned to individuals, but that those people never claimed for themselves because they didn’t have the faith, or the courage, or the belief in themselves to accept the blessing and pursue it.

I expect my box is pretty darn large. Last week, during a phone call with my boyfriend, we were talking about my Etsy shop and how I could increase sales. He made a very good suggestion. My response: “I’ll have to look into,” which, for me, is code for, “Um, sweetie, that sounds like something that pursuing will have to force me outside of my comfort zone, so while it sounds like a good idea and all, why don’t I just say I’ll ‘think about it’, when in fact I’ll just put it on the shelf until you forget it.”

Kind of like this blog. It sounds like a good idea, but I get intimidated every time I sit down actually come up with content for it. So, after my boyfriend and I hung up after that phone call, I clicked on to the computer game I often play when I’m stalling for time. Turns out, I’ve stalled for time a lot. I checked the statistics. Then I blinked twice and read the numbers again. Yikes. I’ve played that game 2,602 times (and that’s after my computer crashed a few years back and I had to reinstall the game software. I don’t want to think about how many times I played it before then.) At approximately 10 minutes per game, that’s 26,020 minutes, or 433 hours (really?!?!?!) Do you mean to tell me I’ve spent 18 days of my life playing a computer game! 18 days “stalling”? Do I dare post a statistic like THAT on a public blog?

Then yesterday, I found a blog by someone I was curious to learn more about. The author had only done about two dozen entries in 2013; and none since then. It wasn’t a fancy blog, no earth-shattering “never-before-seen on the Internet” content (its focus was on healthy living), but what was unique was the person behind it and the uniqueness he brought to each entry. That’s what made it special; particularly his post about what it means to be a father and his own experience with fatherhood.

And that’s when it dawned on me. OK, you’re not going to find information here that you couldn’t find else on the Internet through a Google search. But you’re going to get it through my filter. Every time I sit down to come up with ideas of what to post here, I think, “but someone else has already done that (and probably done it better).” Well, OK, I’ve taken the first step. Gotten over the idea that what I put out there has to be something that no one has ever done before. The next step is to ignore that constant critic of mine who never thinks anything I do is good enough. That part is going to be harder to accomplish. But I’m ready to conquer that foe as well.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

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