Introducing the new Scrumptiously Hybrid Scrapper!

Wow, wow, wow, this is so super exciting! I have found the perfect hybrid scrapper to add to the Scrumptiously creative team.

My intention in seeking out a hybrid scrapper for my team was pretty straightforward. I would like my designs to be useful to hybrid scrappers. And whether that entails thinking when designing about colors and textures that will look best when printed, offering ideas for creative paper projects that can be made with Scrumptiously products, or simply showing off how beautiful a Scrumptiously hybrid project can be, it’s an area where I have next to no experience.

That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that Dana Desmond will be joining the Scrumptiously Creative Team as our Hybrid Scrapper! She has tons of experience as a hybrid scrapper, card creator, and artist. Check out some of her work at her blog, Dana’s Imagination Creations. Dana has a wide-format printer (I think that’s what they’re called) which means she can even print full 12×12 papers! Very cool.

And now this is what you have to see. It’s just… there are no words. (But I’m me, so I’m gonna try πŸ™‚ ) Dana made a “hybrid mini album” using my digital scrapbooking bundle Already There. It’s pretty mind-blowing. She first made digital layouts in Elements, printed those out, then used her Silhouette to print and cut additional elements, glueing those on to the printed pages and adding dimensionality to each page. My head is kind of spinning, it’s just so cool – you have to see! She’s made a video showing the album page by page, and you can also check out this post on her blog where she goes into detail about her process.

Welcome, Dana!

So hopefully I’ll be steadily ramping up what I think of as my “hybrid inclusivity” now that I have Dana on my team. It may take a little while though before you start seeing signs of it. I’m gonna get real with you all for a minute here – you may have noticed it’s mostly been radio silence from me lately, both in terms of blog posts and new design releases. Making Already There was one of the most fulfilling creative projects of my life, but at the end I pulled TWO all-nighters in a row – not in order to finish the kit itself but to do all the other stuff, the previews, the marketing copy, the renaming, the zipping, uploading, tagging, etc. As someone with energy and fatigue issues, that was beyond pushing it, and I burned myself out to the point that something broke in me – my drive, my motivation, my spark – that needs some time to be repaired.

I had intended for Documentarian to be a monthly offering, inspired by so many of the amazing monthly Project Life subscriptions out there. But I overestimated my capacity, especially as my other career is just starting to take off. I still love designing, I just need to go more slowly, and adjust my pace to nurture the burnt-out part of me that desperately wants designing to go back to feeling like a joy rather than an obligation.

There’s so much I want to do – so many blog posts I have in my head, freebies I still haven’t posted for you guys, kits I want to make, designers I want to collaborate with, areas I want to get better in (using a tablet and using real-life art materials are the big ones currently). But here I am in the ironic position (and I recognized this even while it was happening) that Already There, my beautiful kit about slowing down, not pushing, taking care of ourselves, was the project I burned out on.

Already There journal filler cards by Scrumptiously at Pixel Scrapper

I have a lot of compassion for myself – this is a totally new venture, and it will take me a while to learn how to pace myself. I also think (and maybe this is projection, who knows) that I am over on the slow end of the spectrum when it comes to my speed and facility with design. I think I often do things the long way, and everything I make involves learning a ton of new techniques that need to be experimented with and perfected before I can move forward with a high-quality final product. So I generally feel like it’s okay for me to simply do the best I can. It’s just hard to feel like I’m letting you down somehow, letting Pixel Scrapper down…

I don’t have any answers to any of this, just the willingness to stay with this experience and continue to move forward as mindfully and lovingly as I can. What comes will come, and the best I can do is greet whatever emerges with kindness and flexibility. I’ll keep you posted! πŸ™‚

Announcing the New Scrumptiously Pocket Scrappers!

I don’t know who was more nervous during this creative team call – me or my applicants! I was worried no one would apply, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to choose, I was worried I would never even manage to get through the applications since I’ve been so darn busy.

Feeling oh-so-clever, I had made a special form for the application that applicants could fill out right there in the blog post. Little did I realize that any time there was an answer spot where people included multiple URLs (linking to their various layouts, for example), those URLs would not show up as live links in the spreadsheet Google Docs generated with the form data. That meant that I had to copy and paste every one of those links by hand. Gaaaagh! So I ended up putting off this task a bit longer than I had intended…

When I finally did get all the links loaded and was able to look through each application, I was so moved to see what talented and lovely people had applied to join my team. Each applicant had such a unique and creative style and would have been an asset to my team in their own way. I can’t overstate what a privilege it is to get to be a designer and know there are people out there who are thoughtful and talented and excited to create things using my designs.

In the end, the decision was both hard and easy. It was hard to choose because everyone who applied brought their own unique gifts and perspective. And in another way it was easy because the two women who I ultimately asked to join my team have been making beautiful pages with my work since I first came on as a Pixel Scrapper designer. This wasn’t why I chose them – I evaluated each applicant on a number of factors and I think I can get a good sense of how someone’s style would fit with mine no matter what designer’s material they’re using. But it did mean that when I determined these two women would be my new pocket scrappers there was a sense of cozy familiarity already established.

And now for the fun part – I’d like you to meet my new Creative Team Pocket Scrappers! (And I’ll put a plug in here that I am still taking applications for the Media Maven and Hybrid Scrapper team positions.)

First up is the fantastic Emily Silverman. Emily is not only talented and creative, I am also simply in awe of her productivity and dedication. Emily works and parents and has completed Project Life albums. She has scrapped weekly for a full year, and then printed out her layouts and bam! had a book of the entire year. Considering that the last time I managed that was 2011, I think Emily is basically a superhero. I am so excited to have her on my team to model the weekly style of Project Life pocket scrapping and to be an inspiration to us all.

Here are a few of my favorite of Emily’s layouts made using my designs:

Week 13 – 2015 – Right Side made using Already There

Me and My Tatertot made using Bright Days

Week 14 – 2015 – Right Side made using Already There

Next up is the wonderful Brenda Hollingsworth. You can tell from her purple hair, multiple piercings, and deep fondness for keeping hedgehogs as pets that she marches to her own beat, and her layouts are no exception. Her pages are clever, creative, and often very moving – I have my own deep fondness for scrappers who scrap about the hard stuff as well as the good. One of the things Brenda mentioned in her application might be challenging for her is that she doesn’t scrap weeks, she scraps moments, so while she’s a great pocket scrapper she’s not a traditional Project Life-style scrapper. That’s why this dynamic duo is such a dream team – Emily is rocking the weekly pages (as well as a million other layouts – how do you do it, girl?) and Brenda is showing us some of the other creative ways pocket scrapping can be used to tell a story.

Here are some of my favorite of Brenda’s pages made using my designs:

Embrace Hope made using Already There

The Crumb & Cup made using Pocket Basics, Vol. 1


The unspeakably brilliant Paddy Wolf will continue to hold down the traditional scrapbooker spot on my Creative Team (Emily & Brenda are quite skilled traditional scrappers as well and I’m sure we’ll see many fun layouts from them in the months to come). Here are a few of her creations using my most recent bundle, Already There.


Stamp Attack


Hunka Ham

In conclusion I want to express my deep gratitude to everyone who applied for the position of Pocket Scrapper. I appreciate so much all the love and work that goes in to this art form of ours, and am honored that you want to spend some of your creative energy on working with my designs. May there be many wonderful layouts in our future!

Beautiful

Jodi of MCP Photography wrote a wonderful post a few days ago. The topic is “What happens when a photographer gets photographed,” and the post is a tender and honest exploration of how Jodi hated being in pictures because she didn’t like how she looked, then forced herself to be in them for the sake of her kids (so they’d actually have pics with their mom in them), and now finally has come around to a place where she’s been able to see what is beautiful about her.

I really appreciate this post. It’s such an incredibly vulnerable thing for a woman to say out loud (especially in front of other women) that she thinks she’s beautiful. It’s the opposite of that tradition we have as women where I put myself down and all my friends rush to reassure me that I am indeed attractive. We’ve been conditioned to pounce on people who think they look good (perhaps we pounce only in our heads if we’ve been raised to be polite) and tear them apart. “How dare she think she’s beautiful? She’s fatter/zittier/shorter/skinnier/hairier etc. than I am, and I’ve been pummeled by media until I think I’m not attractive. So where does she get off delusionally thinking she’s beautiful?” That’s what I’m worried is going on in other people’s heads when I say I think I’m beautiful – that it will actually prompt them to look for my flaws. But I keep on doggedly saying it, and then I tell them that I think they are beautiful, too, and that I want us all to reclaim the power that feeling confident in our looks can give us.

I have a few stories from my own history with this that I wanted to share.

The first is that never once when I was growing up did I hear my mom criticize how she looked. And it would never have even occurred to me that she might criticize how I looked – she never told me anything other than that I was beautiful to her. And now I’m a rarity among the women I know – I’ve never had an eating disorder, and I have pretty good self-esteem and body image, despite being definitively not the celebrity ideal. Now that I’m an adult my mom complains sometimes about the things she doesn’t like about her body and looks, but I am SO GRATEFUL that she somehow managed to keep from expressing that in front of me when I was young, and to keep this attitude from being instilled in me. I think that’s another important thing to think about when we avoid being in pictures – it’s not just that our kids won’t have pictures of us – we’re actually raising girls who will follow our model and grow up to be women who don’t feel good enough about themselves to be in pictures!

The second story is how I became beautiful. I remember one day in my early 20s saying to myself, “What would happen if I just decide I’m beautiful?” It felt very daring and transgressive, but I tried it out. The effect on people I was potentially interested in was fascinating – they found my unusual confidence attractive in itself. The effect on myself was even more fascinating – I saw so clearly that I was gaining NOTHING by disliking how I looked. Nothing by feeling like I needed improvement. It didn’t encourage me to exercise, or do anything else healthy. Feeling unhealthy might do that – but not liking how I looked wasn’t actually an aid in that department. Feeling beautiful, however, made a huge difference. I felt happier and more peaceful, it contributed to a general sense of self-esteem beyond my looks, and there was this big area of life I didn’t stress about as much anymore. I realized it doesn’t matter if I am conventionally attractive or if a stranger on the street would agree that I’m beautiful. I am beautiful to myself and to the people who love me – romantic, family, friends; the beauty they see in me is both part of why they love me and called forth by their love for me.

This whole worry about whether or not we are beautiful or pretty or attractive is so ingrained in us we never stop to question what PURPOSE it’s serving. Maybe to attract a mate, but I know so many people in secure, satisfying relationships who still don’t want to be in photographs or don’t like this or that about their appearance. The main purpose I can think of for worrying about this in our modern society is that this fear is what drives consumerism. I think it’s pretty well agreed upon that advertisers cultivate this feeling of lack in us so we’ll buy things to try to fix it or make up for it. Well, I reject that. I can’t actually remove from myself the desire to look certain ways (that would take a lobotomy or something, I think) but I can decide whether or not to feel beautiful right now, looking the way I do.

So my last story is that there was a final hold-out to my whole “I am beautiful” self-campaign. Circling back to the topic that started this piece, I’ll admit that even years after my whole transition to feeling beautiful I still hated photographs of myself. I tried to be all sneaky and get around this by bemoaning the fact that I wasn’t “photogenic.” Like, I look in the mirror and see beauty that just isn’t captured in a photo. And that may be true, but once again – WHO CARES? When I started my photo-a-day project four years ago I set a goal of trying to be in at least one picture every week. Suddenly I was constantly looking at pictures of myself. And yeah, I still delete my fair share of awkward shots. But something about just giving myself over to the reality that there were going to be pictures in my albums where I didn’t look perfect eventually helped me to widen my range of tolerance for seeing myself in photos. Maybe I don’t have to look pretty in every photo. I can also look goofy, or in motion, or sad, or even exhausted (because that’s the reality of my life a lot of the time). And then there are the shots where I’m incredibly happy with people I love and smiling so big and when I do that my chin does this weird thing and… And you know what? I have pictures of myself where I’m incredibly happy with people I love. When I look back, will I be sad to have so many awkward chin photos or grateful to have captured so many fun times?

There is power to be had in claiming our beauty. There is peace there, too, and a certain kind of freedom. And it doesn’t take a makeover or liposuction or plastic surgery to get us there, because we’ve already arrived; we just have to look around and notice where we are. So I invite you to join me in this experiment. Look in the mirror and let what you see there be beautiful. And then notice what, if anything, changes for you. What becomes absent from your life, what enters it? Without making any assumptions, really peer closely at this part of your life – is worrying about how you look helping you to accomplish things, be a better parent, a better partner, more the person you want to be? If it is, I’m surprised, but more power to you, you’ve found something that works to motivate you. And if it isn’t, maybe you can try letting it go. It’s not something that happens all at once, it takes dedication and frequently remembering to come back to those three little words, “I am beautiful.” But I can promise you that the rewards are totally worth the work. Imagine what the world would be like if we all felt okay about how we looked. It would be beautiful.

This topic always reminds me of the moving scene in Glee when Mercedes sings the Christina Aguilera song "Beautiful" at a cheerleading competition. (Although I do think it's messed up they didn't put her in a regular cheerleading uniform!)

This topic always reminds me of the moving scene in Glee when Mercedes sings the Christina Aguilera song “Beautiful” at a cheerleading competition. (Although I do think it’s messed up they didn’t put her in a regular cheerleading uniform!) I tried to find a video for you guys, but it’s all copyright-blocked, sorry!

Elizabeth McClung 1970-2013

elizabeth_squirrel

This is how I always think of Elizabeth: skulls all over, wings, corset, and, most importantly, pushy adoring squirrel. She was serious squirrel bait!

My friend Elizabeth McClung died Monday morning. Normally this isn’t something I would talk about online, but Elizabeth was the first person who I met online, never met in person, and considered a real friend. She lived her life publicly and openly, sharing with the world her wry wit, sharp analysis, generous spirit, and raw unfiltered experience, holding nothing back. So it seems appropriate to say something about her here.

Beth hated the word “inspirational” when applied to people with disabilities, so I’ll say instead that she was a brilliant badass superstar who changed my life. I met her through her blog, Screw Bronze, which started out as a blog about her just-published novel, Zed, her life as a champion fencer, and her musings on queer culture and rights. (A sidenote to say, unlike a lot of queer cisgender writers who discuss LGBTQI issues, with Elizabeth the “T” and “I” were a real and present part of the conversation.) By the time I found her blog, in 2007, she had begun her long journey with a terminal disease and the blog had become “An archive of posts regarding disability, lesbian life and culture, wheelchairs, mobility, goth and goth crip fashion, manga, anime, epee fencing, women and LGBT issues”. After some particularly crap stuff happened with her family of origin, she put out a call for family-of-choice; I requested the role of “flakey cousin” and had the honor of being accepted into the fold. Over the years we sent each other many care packages and postcards – Beth was the most inventive, elaborate postcard creator, and kept a spreadsheet of each recipient’s interests so she could tailor the card specifically to them.

The last time I corresponded with her, a couple of weeks ago, I told her, “You and the blog were once one of my few bright spots in a world that had narrowed to the few feet around my bed. Your words and your stories and your strength and your humor and your brilliant, clever, vast mind. You connected me to the disability community online and you were the first person I ever thought of as a friend who I’d never met in “real life.” Knowing you changed my idea of what “real life” is.” I literally learned how to live as a person with a disability from Elizabeth. I discovered through her that there was a community out there I could connect with without ever having to leave the house, and that this experience I was having was not just a quiet, shameful, personal one, but instead part of something greater, something with history and advocacy, allies and people standing in solidarity with one another.

Beth’s wife of nearly 20 years, Linda, put a final post up on Screw Bronze that talks about some of Elizabeth’s many accomplishments, if anyone is interested in reading further about the life of my extraordinary friend. Elizabeth was candid with her friends and readers throughout the years about her desire for affection and appreciation, and about her fears that as she grew sicker, as her memory and eloquence and many of the things that made her “her” started to change or disappear, people would leave her and she would be alone. I feel like her sincerity and honesty in this regard blew a hole clean through the fog of shame that sometimes surrounds admissions of vulnerability and needing other people. I tried to let her know often how much she meant to me, but I wish I’d done this sooner, while she was still alive – stood up and shouted, “Elizabeth McClung is an amazing person! I love her and want everyone to know about her!”

I can’t actually conceive of a world without Elizabeth in it. She’s been dying the whole time I’ve known her, but that means I’ve spent the last six years watching her evade death through, as far as I can tell, sheer force of will. Almost all of my postcards and gifts from her were in my living room, and constituted the bulk of the irreplacable things lost in the fire. We hadn’t been in touch as much since I started graduate school, but, like in many of my friendships with PWDs, we had a general understanding that sometimes you don’t have enough spoons to make contact but that doesn’t mean you don’t care. I can’t believe there will never be an “after I finish school” chapter of our friendship, or any more Elizabeth postcards to replace the ones that were destroyed. I’m guessing this is something I’ll be processing for a long time to come – Elizabeth affected my life in so many different ways that reminders of her and my gratitude to her are everywhere I turn.

The last thing she wrote was “I am a fraction of a fraction – 20% of me at 75% – still enough to regret that everything I was, everything I would be, everything I did unknown all fall into dust; swept by the angel of history.” The world’s time with Elizabeth was far too short, but I know her impact will continue to reverberate onward. Elizabeth, my friend, my cousin-of-choice, my mentor, my guide: you are loved, and you will be remembered.