Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What I Learned This Week- Thoughts on the concept of "abundance"

This will be a long post but please bear with me- it's been building up for well over 3 months.

The last couple of weeks have been hectic but not due to my schedule.
I've had plenty of time to play with paper.
I bought lots of stuff to work with (part of my problem- no really- a problem).
I've pinned many beautiful pages onto my already brimming full Pinterest boards.

I haven't made any actual work.
I'm not sure why this happens but it's regular as clockwork.
For every three pages or so, I need a week of rest.
I tend to freak out then because I have deadlines to meet.
Not working for a week means I now have to cut into blogging time or family time to catch up.

I see many other scrappers working every night or what seems like every other night- many pages are made- all different and pretty.
Why doesn't that happen with me?

I can easily spend 5 hours on one page.
Much of it sitting there trying to figure out why it's not "working".
I then think about all the other things I could be doing- cleaning, reading, running around with my family and I lose all interest.
Or worst- I sit down and hate every single thing I make- everything.
Like this:
So many mistakes in this page. So. Many. Mistakes! But after a few hours I can honestly say I like it.
This was my work on May 5, 2013. And soon I'll be somewhere else.
I have several ways to get out of a negative thoughts rut:

  • Cleaning. "Cleaning" is really shifting things from one part of the room to another. I haven't found an effective solution to this problem other than throw everything out. Considering the insane amounts of money involved that isn't going to happen. Obviously there is something about this hobby that sparks the addictive part of my personality. Maybe it's the positive feedback. Perhaps it's the community and the competition to get noticed. Combine those with the easy availability of new products and you get addiction. I spend more time writing and responding to social media than I actually spend making pages. I shop to feel better and in control. But with every purchase I get further away from control and empowerment. No savings, an increasingly crowded home environment, family members who wonder out loud how much is "enough". It hurts my productivity because I am frozen by the mess I live in. Paralysis. This is the first time I ever admit that in print. 
  • Get on the computer and try to leave love in as many people's work as I can. This can take hours and isn't really effective because it's usually "Gorgeous", "Amazing", "Fantastic". It's not really connecting with anyone in a meaningful way. People want and deserve real comments- real insights. I can't make them- I over scheduled myself and have too many things I need to get done just to keep in place- forget making gains on any particular relationship.
  • Go outside and shoot some photos. I take the family and it's great but any great outing takes all day and all my energy. I'm usually too tired to sit up another 3 hours shifting paper bits around for a blog post. I start to wonder- why do I do this?
  • I watch videos on new techniques or take notes on what I see in my past work that I want to try again. This is actually the most effective thing I've done this week. One video that helped was a"Glitter Girl" adventure where Shimelle picks a specific amount of papers and embellishments and makes three basic scrapbook pages. Here was a solution to my problem! The answer isn't more shopping and more choice- the answer is to pre kit and to stick with your choices till some work is made. So I did.

Another answer to "Why am I not more prolific?" came to me in the April meeting of the Mariposa Collective.
This is my group of creative entrepreneurial types who meet once a month to talk about our latest creative goals and dilemmas.

A fellow member brought up the subject of having a "mindset of abundance".
I've heard versions of this idea before.
I call bullcrap.

I believe my friend. I can see the positive effects from her change in outlook.
Her energy is way up and she's finding solutions to all kinds of problems big and small.
She is in a state of general and fairly constant happiness.

Obviously something about the "abundance" theory that's true.

I call bull patootie on the part of "abundance" mentality which is actually magical thinking.
If it's really true that "all you need to do is put out to the universe that you need x,y,z to get it", why are so many people starving?
This isn't me on a dramatic hyperbole streak- it's a genuine question.
Were they too busy being hungry to think positive thoughts?

Are we to blame starvation on the starved?

I find the idea incredibly offensive and deluded.
So I dismiss the conversation when I hear people start.

By doing that I miss out on a key point- ideas that could lead to a break in my paralysis.
Answers to why I need to "shop till I drop"and why I go on the computer for hours rather than start a new project- even though I genuinely enjoy the process of making things.

I start to think about the "abundance mindset" without the obnoxious magical thinking aspect.

It's clear that most successful entrepreneurs are relentlessly positive.
They have to be- if not they would give up.
Giving up is the failure.

Current culture is really against mistakes.
You cannot make them.
You cannot make them more than once.
Make the mistakes.
Then make the amends.
It's going to be ok.
So the water color I was using didn't look to good.
Neither did the hand written journaling I added.
I covered them both up with two older failed experiments.
Just. keep. swimming.

Entrepreneurial minded people assume that if they leap, there will be ground to land on.
Perhaps the assumption is "the ground will be green with grass and there will be plenty of cushiony flowers."
This is dangerous.
The best thinkers are ready for variables (rocks, thorny bushes, a rusty roller skate)
They are ready for a possible broken ankle.
But the point is to LEAP.
Eventually to LAND.
Sometimes there is a major crash or maybe just a stinging friction burn. 
A positive outlook helps with that too- it keeps you TRYING.
A positive outlook also keeps you flexible.
So you landed in Duluth not in Chicago.
Get going where you are.

So this week I pushed through layers and LAYERS of self imposed negativity and made one page.
Not a symphony or a painting or a cosy sweater.
Not a cure for the common cold or the latest tech gadget that earns billions.
Not a financial product that earns trillions for a corporation based out of New Hampshire.
A scrapbook page.
For this tiny blog with 275 readers (thanks guys)
A rock thrown in a pool to make waves in my own private fight with self doubt.
To prove a point.

We are all struggling through issues.
Self doubt, work or family stress, financial insecurity, a broken boiler, car transmission trouble, bad health.

For me having a mindset of abundance means accepting that I don't DESERVE anything in particular.
Everything is fought for, compromised with, chosen.
If I "miss out" on something- it will come back again.

I chose Lola over fear.
I chose life against all odds, against all medical advice.
Against the pressure of family members I love.
I said NO. She's here NOW. I love her NOW.
My pregnancy was only 4 months along and there were no guarantees it
would last to 5.
I chose from a mindset of abundance.
When the doctor said you can always have another one (Oh yes she sure effing did!)
I said, I have one now.
I asked what the baby's sex was and I was told it was a girl.
I imagined a curly topped mini me. I saw her.
The pessimist in me insisted it was going to turn out very badly.
But I chose optimism. I chose hope.
I chose to see myself as a capable and strong Mom to a severely handicapped child.
And here's the magic part. The part that's making me weep right now.
I became her.
I got lucky that the baby was fine. But I passed the test of fear.
I chose from abundance!
Why did I forget?
I constantly forget.
I scrapbook to keep reminding myself.
I made and keep making all sorts of life changing and people alienating errors.
But this one certainly turned out well.
I CHOOSE to be happy or unhappy.
I CHOOSE to be messy, ineffective and unfocused or I CHOOSE to be organized and productive.
I choose to feel guilty and like I'm a waste of space.
I choose to forgive myself and move on.
I choose to see my work as the great happiness of my life or as the mad waste of time others think it is.
Perhaps I messed up by saying exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person.
Perhaps I let a deadline pass because I was too busy feeling angry or tired or overwhelmed.

But ABUNDANCE means- I get another chance.
I can try again.
There are always second chances.
I can say "I'm sorry".
I can say "Dude- you stole my idea! " or more likely "DUDE! This idea SUCKS! I spent two hours on this?"
Guess what? I have another idea. (And another. And ANOTHER!)

I just have to be open to the variables.
I have to be flexible.
I have to be people and relationship focused.
The answers are there but not if I let fear and self loathing cloud my outlook.
Fear and anxiety block creativity.
Which is why I only make 3 or 4 pages every few weeks,
I'm a roiling ball of anxiety and doubt.
I will stop the second guessing and move on.
I post this page knowing it's not the best thing I've ever made.
But it's not the worst. Not remotely.
It just is.
Another point in a long line of work.
Work I enjoy and which will eventually lead to my gainful employment.
If I

If this is what's meant by "A mindset of abundance"
Then I can SO get with that!

Have a great day people.
It's gonna be ok- promise.



  1. So when I read blog posts like this I'm always amazed! How do you put into words so many points/feelings/thoughts that have also crossed my mind, that I CANNOT express so eloquently in words?? I scrap slowly, I psychologically punish myself constantly wondering why I am not prolific like others. I get inspired but then I stare at that paper and nothing happens, then I want to give up. But then I'll read something amazing like what you just wrote and I take a sigh of relief. It's OK, I can forgive myself, most importantly DO NOT GIVE UP. And to add to that...stay POSITIVE. Whew. So really, thank you so much for the encouraging words.

  2. I think you already know that I don't work away on layouts every night. I'm like you - I need to do other things. I'm not a machine!

    But I do appreciate that, though, and I appreciate it in you as well, because I know that when I do come on here and you have something new up, it will be something new, not just something new, if you know what I mean. I like seeing you experiment and doing your own thing. That's what makes you unique and stand out to me.

  3. Thank you for this post Michelle. I've had those exact feelings - even down to the reflections about people starving.

    I often wonder how others are so prolific in their work and I sometimes struggle to have one thing to show on my blog a week. Just recently it's been hitting me, all these exact points you make. Thanks for putting it in perspective and also for letting us know we aren't alone (but said better than I'm saying it! ) x

    1. Thank you for reading Carmen. Yes me too!!! I HAVE to make a schedule already!!! Like today! I was supposed to take inspiring photos!! I forgot! It's just my personal blog but I should be able to follow my own rules and deadlines right? Sheesh!

  4. I understand how you feel. I've been there.
    A lot of it has to do with you. Really. You need to let go of being PERFECT. If you are scrapbooking for your daughter...ask yourself...is she going to appreciate mom for scrapbooking that moment in her life OR is she going to say...hey that button would look much better over here...
    I've seen "mistakes" even in published layouts. So stop. Stop psycho-analysing your layouts/projects. Stalling on one project? Start on another. You can come back to it with fresh eyes another day. Schedule a session for social networking because that can be such a time suck. I go off-grid on weekends because I need to de-compress. I focus my energies mostly on my blog because something's gotta give, I can't be everywhere. I want to. But I can't.
    I think you write well. And you are super creative. So don't be so hard on yourself. Rooting for you.

  5. Oh Michelle! I love your post... The way you managed to explain in real words something that is often so blurry inside many people I'm sure!
    This text is wonderfully written, it was my morning delight (although I have to check some translations!!), and it is also a beautiful love declaration to your little girl :)
    By the way, your LO is amazing...

    Ps: thanks for your comment! I search on Pinterest but didn't find my "superbaby" layout...

    1. I'll find the pin at "@" you- I tried when I repined it but your name doesn't come up! So annoying! Thanks for the encouraging words- I try to keep the meltdowns to a minimum now but every once in a while I just have to write all the racing thoughts into a public place where they can come back and bite me- ha!

  6. Michelle... this post is so wonderful for so many reasons! I read it and re-read it. Last night and this morning. I love how real you are, how transparent, how honest... I could go on and on!

    First of all, your layout is gorgeous! All of your layouts are. I agree with the other commenters... We have ALL been there. Especially all of us who blog and share our scrapbooking with the great World Wide Web. It can be a jungle out there. Over saturated with inspiration. It is SO easy to get caught up in the... "why cant my work look like her's, blah blah blah..." Sometimes, I find that I do my best work when I am less plugged in. Less time on pinterest. Less time in the galleries. Less time comparing. Less time wondering. More time just doing, without worry. Like Yyam said, don't stress it too much. Sure, if someone else decides your layout is a stroke of brilliance, you might get highlighted, featured, selected, etc... But, in 2 weeks, months, years, the WWW will have forgotten about that - yet your daughter will still have that layout in her album. And she wil certainly NOT care about the amazing and brilliant technique you used. She will care about the picture and what you wrote. She will know that she is LOVED. That is all that matters.

    Sure, it's important to stretch our creative muscles, to push ourselves artistically, to question, to try...
    But certainly not at the expense of our sanity :)
    I can say that because I have been there all too often! LOL!

    We artists can be a crazy, anxious bunch :)

    Also, as far as the commenting and social networking goes. Yyam said it perfectly again. You can't be everywhere at once. You are right, people love thoughtful comments. I love your thoughtful comments. But, none of us have the time to do that all the time. It doesn't mean we don't want to, or aren't having those thoughts. I would like to think people understand that. A lot of times lately, I am leaving comments like... "love this! Pinned it!" That tells the person that I found it inspiring enough to want to look at it again and yet gives me time to visit another blog.

    You know... we are all in this together. Sure, there are people out there that don't mean well, people that will tell you everything that you do wrong. The more exposed you are on the WWW, the more of those people that will come out of the wood work! HA!

    But you know, at the end of the day, we are always our own worse critics, aren't we. And really - this is supposed to be fun, right?

    I love what you do - all of it!
    Keep on doing it!
    Pretty please :)

    1. Girl you are so right!!! I actually just read a post by another blogger that scared me because she's writing about steering clear of drama queens even if they are inspirational because they complicate things when they should be simple and are easy to distract.
      I saw myself in those words!
      I guess this post needed a bit more context- it's not just scrapbooking (gosh just writing that out makes me feel foolish) that I'm talking about. I mean all creative pursuits- anything you think is important or has several steps to achieve.
      I've been complaining about not having "enough time" for months now but it's not because of work. It's because of internal distraction. I'm worried that it's spilled out into all areas of my life.
      This is a scrapbooking blog so I talk scrap but I could just as easily be talking about writing a book or getting my daughter into a good pre-school- moving or getting a new job.
      I have to question my decisions and wonder- why am I still in this same space- this "unhappy" space?
      That's where I have to remind myself about this concept of abundance- ignore the magical thinking "oh everything is going to be ok!!" and go for whatever my goals are- even if they seem impossible because I already did- my daughter is proof- everything could have turned out quite badly- or not.
      Thank you so much for your constant cheerfulness and realness and your wonderful comments- yes I will keep it sane and I will keep working-I cant stop- it's too fun!

  7. The chords you struck in this post, resonated with me also. Especially the parts about spending too much time on social media, and what having a spirit of abundance doesn't mean.

    Lately, I have started up with yoga, again, and beyond the good things it does for my body, the concept of not judging things, emotions, activity, etc. is one that plays in my mind. If we can see things as neither good, nor bad. They just are. We remove our judgement of them. Personally I find this leads to a freedom of spirit and opens me up to give and receive love (abundance?.

    By world (society) standards I am far from successful. But if success is defined as getting up in the morning, going to bed at night and pretty much doing what you want, in between, the world should be seeking my advice. As long as we judge ourselves and measure ourselves against each other, the striving continues.

    It starts with being kind to yourself. Dismissing negative thoughts and judgmental self-talk. Each time you hear a negative thought, dismiss it and tell yourself that you are good and wonderful and doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing at this exact moment. That little seed of happiness with start to grow.

    Thank you for an amazing post.

    1. Thank you for visiting Sassy! Actually- I've been thinking about taking Yoga for a while now- it's pretty expensive in the neighborhood where I live but there's got to be a YMCA that offers it for affordable rates. I do over think the heck out of my life but you are 100% right- most if not all my problems are all internal- the things I tell myself are much worst than what anyone else says- if fact I am surrounded by wonderfully positive and supportive people- so yes I have to learn to quiet that internal monologue that just saps away my energy. Thank you for this great comment!

  8. Oh, Michelle! This is a post that I will come back to read again and again. Your writing is wonderful, raw, from the heart, and--aside from your AWESOME scrapping mojo--the first thing about your blog that made me fall in love with you. :) Thank you for posting your heart. Thank you for sharing your insightful thoughts.

    1. Thank you Lisa. Do you know I sometimes think "Would Lisa read this?" When I write up my posts?? Crazy right?Mostly because I want to make sure what I 'm saying is both insightful and truthful even if it's not very flattering of me. It might be wrong because all humans make incorrect assumptions but at least I strive to post exactly what I feel and grow from it- thank you for encouraging me to do and AND for making friends with me at Julie's class- that was so awesome- you reached out to this total stranger and she turned out to be a bit wacky but you are cool with that- I think you are amazing!

  9. *sigh* This is such a great post! You have put into words exactly how i feel as well. You are such a wise and honest person and I love that about you! Thanks for the thought provoking, and totally inspiring blogpost. btw, I didn't see what was wrong with the layout? It was beautiful and totally you!

    1. Misty your work is so amazing! I know it's a hard road but it's worth it- your projects- their variety and their emotion- their uniqueness only comes from that struggle. I love how I can give YOU the encouraging words I need to tell myself!!!! Thank you for sharing this post on FB and for this great comment. I know how busy you are so that meant SO MUCH to me!!!

  10. OKay, First off, You put onto "paper" what I have been struggling with for months. I have had my times in the past where I am a machine simply working for a deadline. And I HATED every minute of it. I think we all need to keep things (including our craft) in perspective. We will win some and lose some. I lose a lot, and they end up in the trash! LOL!
    I admire you honesty in this topic. I think I have been thinking these same thoughts, without REALLY thinking about them for so long. Everything you have noted, I have been there. We can all have a group bear hug together girlfriend :)
    I also admire you brave Mama Bear. For saving your baby and deifying the medical odds. Nothing is better and no one knows you baby better than you. She is worth it and so darn cute!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Thank you so much! I really love your work- I can SEE it's a difficult and more rewarding route you've chosen with each page- the pages are outstanding really- so much texture and thought goes into them- I think your struggle is worth it- it shows in everything you make!

  11. You are my girl .....whether you blog daily or once a month! I am experiencing the same funk a dunk right now...my anxiety is so bad I don't post my pages..I guess I choose this...for me....right now. Life is not rainbows and lollipops for me...and every dollar I spend towards my crafting seems to paralyze me at letting go. You call it as you see it...and I love you for that! Do those pages for that pretty precious nugget!

    1. Thank you so much Dara. Feeling GREAT over here after reading all this encouragement! I think you should go right ahead and post! Sometimes the best cure is to just make the mistake- then laugh because that was "the easy part". I keep telling myself that- stop taking this so seriously Michelle! People think you are coo coo! Thank you for taking me seriously. :)

  12. You are so right. I think that there is a difference between being prolific and abundance. Girl, you have abundance in spades. I find I leave commenting by the wayside when I am stressed/pressed for time. Honestly, I think all of our time is better served elsewhere. A quick tweet or pin means just as much. But, if I drop off the map for a few weeks/ months I hope people don't take it personally.
    I love when you share your story by the way. Lola is perfect :) you are an amazing mom and artist!

    1. I DO take it personally! That's the ANNOYING part!! I have to constantly remind myself
      a. people are busy and need to limit their internet exposure so they can actually LIVE.
      b. if I love leaving comments and interacting so much why don't I do it more often????
      Then I kick myself and tell myself to move one and then I publish something like this and I get these GREAT comments and I'm like- OH- yes this is GREAT!!! I LOVE blogging!! Thank you for your support- you are awesome and I LOVE your blog!!!

  13. What to say that hasn't been said here already? So many thoughts written are bits and pieces of my own. I battle this topic every. single. day. of my life and its crazy because the artistic battle of life is so much more difficult for me than facing each day with several chronic illnesses. I feel I should have control over the artistic and like you said be more prolific rather than take as much time as I do - I have no control over the other so I can let it go, be at peace with my circumstances, make the best of it, and even rally others to smile through the worst of days. So why can't I make the best of where I'm at artistically?? I'm a sloooowww creative being - some of this I could probably control, some of it is out of my control - but still slower than molasses when it comes down to it and irks me to no end. Like you I wonder how in the world some people pump out so much and what I'm doing wrong to not be able to do the same - I actually know its me being too critical of myself. Then I've got to catch myself because I feel like this is toxic I'm not them and the fact I gruel over sequin placement - yes I truly do, UGH - is all part of my process. One that when it comes down to it I do actually enjoy. Whether I have zillions of projects done or not, have oodles of DTs in my siggy, tons of followers, etc. you know? I just really like to create art and when I can release all the other crap it will feel a whole lot better.

    To impose this kind of pressure and stress on oneself is insane, truly insane, so I'm really thankful for this post because I've had such a hard time trying to strike a balance with social media etiquette, creating, family, taking care of myself, trying to start things I've wanted to for some time, running our business, keeping up with relationships, and so much more that they all get neglected in some way at some time and I feel like a flop. This helps me know I'm not alone and certainly not a flop. We're all out here trying - looking for that abundance and we get another chance!!

    I so love reading again and again about your journey with Lola mama!! She is perfect in every way and I'm so happy you chose her despite everything!!! Any page with her picture on it is always going to be a masterpiece, no matter what 'mistakes' you think may be there. This one is no exception. Keep on doing what you're doing because no matter what negative thoughts may creep in - you're doing it all right!!

    1. This post is from me. I was logged in to a different account at the time, just wanted you to know since it was a crazy long post!! :D

    2. Thank you so much for the insightful comment Scarlett! I was thinking about all kinds of pressures when I wrote this- it expressed itself as stress and when I'm stressed out I can't do anything creative- including think of options for my problems. Some people have it much worst off than me but I think they have better emotional intelligence. I hope you eventually publish your story. I think blogs could be more personal and more insightful- I know we are busy Moms and there are definitely huge drawbacks to getting too personal on a public space- anyone can use information you put out there against you. That's the brave part- for me it's less about brave and more about foolhardy- but if I don't say it- I don't get to read comments like this- so I keep saying the crazy or TMI stuff and I keep learning- that is the best thing of all.

  14. Now this is why I love what you do.... I too have felt the same way and I can never do any more than 3 LO's in a row without a break after. It is about spreading yourself too thin!
    We all get bogged down with deadlines and commitments and often loose sight of what we really do all this for. Not for the love of glue, paper and scissors, but to let our close ones know how much we love and care for them and how cherished all the little moments with them is! Michelle you write and scrap from the heart that is why each and every page has the journalling. The pages you love are the ones that are true to you, we can all relate to this but you have just posted how we all feel at some point and said so darn well!
    I think you should print this up as a testament of love for all that you do and scrap it as a message to your precious beautiful girl.... something I am sure she shall treasure in years to come. Never loose your passion for what you believe is true my friend, always go with your instinct.... it is never far from wrong and if it is, learn from it!
    There, that is truly my serious side coming out late at night. I hope you know what I mean, and this does not sound like a load of old cobblers (A bit of Aussie slang for Ya)!!! I guess what I am trying to say is stay you because there is no other you!!! This is also the first time I have said anything meaningful in a public type of way so maybe you have awoken something in me also, for that I thank you!

    1. Actually that is a great idea Michelle. Sometimes I reread my posts and wonder at my own intensity- my ability to take such a small thing and turn it into this huge dilemma. I guess for me- it's the frustration of knowing what I want to do- knowing I have this great idea but not being able to implement all the steps to make that idea happen. It can be as small as a personal DYI project or as big as getting that house with a yard I've always wanted.
      Some people (not you of course!!) may judge me but I have to fight my battle in my own way. It's SO GREAT to hear others are struggling too- and making amazing pages because of that struggle- it's not just scrapping we are talking about- really. The same struggle goes into moving or deciding to change careers or deciding to ignore doctor advice- you have to move past all your fears and all your negative thoughts for those as well.
      Thank you for the fantastic comment!

  15. I wish I could tell you in the perfect words how much this means to me, and maybe I can soon. It all rings soooo true to me, in the most necessary way right now. You're a great person, a completely amazing, inspiring artist, a good friend, and obviously a selfless, beautiful mother.


Ok peeps lets CHAT! You tell me what you REALLY think and I PROMISE to keep it open minded here.