Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lil bit of Me

One of the reasons I decided to change the focus of the blog was to try and help others in some kind of positive way.  In order to do that I should share a little bit about me. 

I am happily married to my husband of almost 14 years.  We will be celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary in March....we will have been together 15  years on March 12th, which IS also our wedding anniversary. Luck and fate should have it that our wedding day/evening was able to take place exactly ONE year from the day we met.  

We met in Phoenix through friends, and for us, it was love at first sight, although we didn't realize it until the second time we met.  LOL  We do not have people children but we do have our furry kids. With us now are Elly (age 12) and Jaxon (almost 4!), both Blue Heelers and the light of our lives.

We have lost 2 furry kids, Ginseng, the BEST shar-pei at age 9 and Tiggr, Texas Heeler (by far the best buddy EVER) at age 12.  Those losses are already 2+ years and yet there are days when it stabs at my heart that it feels like just yesterday. 

Anyhow...Brian and I moved to Denver in 2009. We had moved back and forth AZ-CO-AZ-CO and have stayed here. I am completely ready to move again, thanks to the unreal cost of living here and social isolation. Brian just finished his Bachelor's degree in Special and Elementary Education and will be looking for employment to start in the schools in the Fall 2018. He currently works Turf/Grounds Crew for the Colorado Rockies MLB team and NFL Denver Broncos.   All I can say is I'm proud of him and so happy to have our evenings back without homework from his schooling!  

I too work in Education, over 17 years as a School Psychologist. I basically love what I do and the meaning behind it. Its only some co-workers and parents that make me "hate" my job.  I just remind myself I work for the "kids" so that they can succeed in life. 

About 3 years ago I was formally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. After 2 years of doctor's appointments related to extreme fatigue, chronic pain, lethargy and fogginess my OBGYN contacted my primary physician to make the diagnosis real.    Imagine my response....great. So now I have been diagnosed with an "invisible" chronic illness and I work and am surrounded by family and people who are incredibly concrete thinking. 

Its been a hard road, and continues to be so.  I am now at a point where I have utilized all my sick time and my illness is beginning to impact my ability to meet job deadlines, unless I work from home. Which, as you can imagine, as a Psychologist in the schools is not an easy thing to do unless its related to paperwork (which we happen to do a lot of). 

I continue to struggle with feeling like saying "I have a chronic illness" indicates a personal weakness and failure. I struggle with feeling the need to justify, to prove, to want to gain acceptance of my illness.  If I wasn't concerned with others perceptions, my stress level and anxiety would probably be a WHOLE lot LOWER.  I honestly feel like others perceptions is one of the largest confounding factors that impacts how severe my Fibro symptoms on any given day, are. 

I say "my Fibro," because...well...it is MINE.  No one can understand the severity of the pain on a good day much less a bad flare day.  Fibromyalgia has some common characteristics that those of us with it suffer from. However the severity, degree and other symptoms we have are widely varied. That's why mine is MINE.  

I have a hard time remembering how I felt before all the fatigue and pain.  I think I've been pain free once in the last 5 years and that was recently thanks to some pain meds administered in the ER. And can you imagine how frustrating, that when I do go to the doctor, and they run the same 18000 labs (okay 8-10 labs) they all come back "normal." Then, the doctor says, "it could be an impact of your fibromyalgia."  

So at this point, related to my Fibro is IBS, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, shortness of breath, tight muscles, fatigue, lethargy, poor vision, difficulties at times with fine and gross motor skills, balance, memory (both short and long term), and speech.  Yesterday Brian said, "my wife is brilliant and when she can't put thoughts and words together about what to eat for dinner, well...that's when I really worry."    We live in a world where my baseline pain is about a 4 on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being severe. 

I am amazed everyday at what I can still accomplish, and disappointed daily by my limitations. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Ups, Downs and All Around

I have been thinking about this blog.

What I set out to do with it.  What it has become or more accurately, NOT become. What I could use it for.

Inspiration. Not just the craft kind, because, well....that's obviously not working.

I have kept a journal since I was 7 years old and I still continue to do so. It centers me, eases my mind, provides a way for me to think things over, make decisions and reflect.

I definitely don't journal as much as I used to, and I find myself longing for it. It used to be about having the write notebook, pens, markers, time, etc. Lately (well, over the last few years) it has become more relative to the thought of "why bother?"

Who's going to care? Who's going to read my story and think,"Oh that sounds like her" or "I finally understand why she did xx xx or why she felt xxxx."

I do not  have children of my own (not by choice) or someone to pass these on to (partially by circumstances) but my life has meaning. Doesn't it? Why not share my stories? My thoughts, my gobble de goop that is caught in my mind.

Maybe it will give someone a reason to smile or laugh. Feel okay to question themselves. To be OK with Not being OK.

I read others' blogs and find myself thinking, "Oh my, she gets it," or, "I never thought about it like that."

So why not try? What do I have to lose?

Hope you join me on this journey. I am not sure what it will look like. I do not even think I know WHAT I want it to "look" like. Guess what?  That's me. A little bit of sunshine, some clouds...a bit thunderous at times. Full of beauty and wonder and curiosity. Playing it safe, but not too safe. So here I am. Maybe something will strike a chord. Maybe you will laugh because you find something is funny or humorous. Or maybe you smile because you chuckled, thinking, "what a dork." Somedays what I share may make you cry. Feel relief, or sadness, or empathy. Give you strength in a moment when you didn't realize that was what you needed. 

Here I am.  I hope you come back and visit me from time to time. That is all I can hope for. NOTHING to LOSE and maybe a little something to gain.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Convention 2017

I was once again able to attend Annual Convention, and so grateful for the opportunity. I missed last year, and I did not want to miss another. Convention rejuvenates me. Provides me with new ideas, re-ignites my passion for this "hobby."  

Convention 2017 was held in Salt Lake City, Utah...home to the corporate office. It was held at the Salt Palace Convention Center...impressively huge.  

My sister, Shirley and sister-in-law, Tricia, were both able to attend as well. Tricia first introduced me to CTMH back in....maybe 2004 when the stamps wee still on wood blocks. Shirley became a consultant under Tricia in, I believe 2011 and they attended Convention in Dallas together and bugged me to join so we could have an annual sister trip, so that's how my joining CTMH began. Anyhow, it was amazing just hanging out with them, catching up, and of course Scrapping and creating! 

Day 1 ~ Thursday, June 29th
The initial day starts with a General Session, evey year brings a different theme and this year was "Who Tells Your Story." The excitement and anticipation is UNREAL.  The afternoon would consist of a Creative Session and Home Office Tours. 

Everyone attending is excited to see what CTMH has created new, what product lines will be staying/changing, etc. General Session involves some type of "skit" to introduce the new products. 

This year revolved around Jeanette's, the founder of Close to My Heart, "story." How CTMH evolved from her home to D.O.T.S to what it is today. 

The General Session involved introducing changes to our papers (they will be dual toned original color on one side and a lighter complimentary shade on the other), new products such as foil papers and a new creative book, new cut above kits w/Picture My Life cards and more, as well as a completely new line of Basic colors (greys/tans/neutrals) and new Fundamental paper packs. 

We knew there had to be more....but that would wait until Day 2!   They did introduce the Holiday Inspirations catalog as well, with amazing papers. All throughout the session names were called for prizes and I won a set of the new Christmas papers!  They are gorgeous, and I wish I could post a pic, but unfortunately we are under direct orders to not reveal until August! 

Walking out of the morning session we each were give a copy of the new Annual Inspirations catalog and off to lunch we headed! 

After lunch the first Creative Session commenced and we were provided new materials to create 4 12x12 layouts and 3 cards. 
OH!!! I almost forgot, the new Annual color was introduced!!!  BASHFUL is the color of the year and it is GORGEOUS!  

We each received a new Bashful Ink Pad along with 2 amazing stamp sets to create our projects. 

Our tour was reserved for 4:30, so off we headed. We loaded a nice tour bus for the drive to Pleasant Grove, UT which was about 45 minutes away. We did NOT think about the traffic when we booked and it took quite a bit longer, but we did finally make it! 

The tour involved seeing the remodeled home office, the Art Studio where the creativity happens, a quick peek at the warehouse, Jeanette's office, her crop area, the "BIG" meeting room and the lobby filled with amazing creative pieces.  

A HUGE Heart mobile was hung as a focal center pieces in the lobby, AND the largest wall had wallpaper created off a stamp set. Again, gorgeous!  

It was here that we received the much anticipated BAG we get every year, and we each had our picture taken by the Close to My Heart business sign by a professional photographer (not available, just yet). 

After the tour, we were EXHAUSTED and starving! We headed to City Center for dinner at the always delicious Cheesecake Factory. We returned to our hotel around 10pm and went straight to bed. 

Day 2 ~ Friday, June 30th

The day began with another General Session, followed by lunch and then Business sessions.  The General Session brought 2 inspirational speakers, each with their own "story" to tell.  The first to speak was Stacy Julian. If you don't know of her, she was the founding editor of Simple Scrapbooks magazine. She then started the very successful Big Picture Classes company which she then sold to Studio Calico in 2014. She was at first a consultant with CTMH before branching off on her own.

Stacy spoke to us about how ANYTHING, any moment, emotion, event, etc. can be "Story-ish." Based off the inspirational book "Ish" by Peter H. Reynolds in which he outlines that how a creative spirit learns that thinking "ish-ly" is much better than "getting it right."
What did this lead to? The introduction for a new Project she is partnering with Close to My Heart for, which is simply called "Story."   It is still "secret" and as such, we do not have many details, but it will be launching in 2018. SO exciting!   I do have to say hearing her speak struck a chord with me, and a light bulb went on. I struggle with creating scrapbook PAGES as I get stuck on who is going to look at this? I have no children, no one to pass these things on to, etc. When Stacy Julian spoke about "story-ish" I thought, "wait, this is ME. I journal, I post "tid bits" on facebook, I tell the story of my day, my experiences, etc. through one or two tiny pictures that I share!"  OH MY!  

We then had the honor to hear New York Times Best Seller, Stephanie A. Nielson. Her story was inspirational. To hear more about her personal journey and story, click this link.  Again, we do not know where life will take us, but it is what we make it, even through heartache, pain and loss there is a story to tell. 

Day 3 ~ Saturday, July 1

Day 3 brought about sessions in which Operation Smile was shared and the Operation Smile auction completed. Over $14,000 was raised this morning auctioning off VERY creative artwork by some amazingly talented Consultants and just a "few" Sticky Boy stamp sets....13 to be exact, each that went for $100 a piece! Speaking of Sticky Boy....I searched and did not find, though I was less than 30 seconds behind the finder of one. 

It was announced via a video and "wedding" announcement between Sticky Boy and Sticky Girl, that Convention 2018 will be held at the Red Rocks Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada!!

A final creative session occurred in which we worked on layouts related to our Heritage (following speakers on the topic) we got ready for the Awards Banquet dinner and dance to close out convention. 

The evening included Awards for consultants, including longevity, team and individual sales, recognitions and a top notch performance by Alex Boye. 

I received an award charm for my 5 years as an active consultant (which I was surprised by because I hadn't realized I've been involved that LONG already!  

(I didn't have to go on stage, however Tricia did, as she celebrated 15 YEARS and was presented with a beautiful heart pin with charm.) 

All in all, what an amazing time and experience. I came away with more than one "story-ish" memories, including the 5K that was never run!  Now that I'm home, after cleaning up the craft room the crafting will begin AGAIN. I've been stale for the past year and really needed to be rejuvenated and I was! I am passionate about my memories....my stories....my experiences, and I can't wait to tell my Story in a number of "story-ish" ways!   

I would love to have you join my team, joining is EASY, and then you can join us in Las Vegas next year!  All you have to do is join my team at www.jenniferdistler.ctmh.com and YOU too can begin telling YOUR STORY!!!

Just a little pic of me :) Happy Place
Ready for the Awards Banquet

Look at all those Creative Minds!
@ Creative Session