Creative Health + Play event part 1.


Last month while down in Anaheim for CHA, I also had the honor and privilege of teaching at Play – a special event put on by Big Picture Classes. I was really excited about teaching at this event – when I got the call asking if I could do it I double checked with the family that an extra 24hrs gone was cool – then I accepted. They wanted me to teach a scrapbook layout – sounded good to me! I immediately knew I would use my “go-to” playful layout design and I sprung into action.

Today I want to focus on why this layout design was so meaningful and why it helped me so much. This is information I meant to share in class but when I realized there was NO way I could do so without bursting into tears I knew I couldn’t possibly have the courage to stand up and teach a class to so many people AND knowingly get myself into something that would make me cry so I just cut it out.

So I’m going to share it here, now, with you.


I wasn’t always a happy, “forget the rules” crafter.

There is a very serious reason why “Happy Crafting” is my mantra and I say it so much.

I used to be a very miserable, sad, hates herself crafter. I was a people-pleasing “if only I could be a little more like….” crafter. A girl who posted projects to on-line galleries for the SOLE purpose of trying to get comments and praise. Who made layouts not how she liked, but how she thought she could get the most praise. That could be picked for publication. That could win her a spot on a design team.

And, I was a girl who 100% of the time failed to do any of the above.

Nobody gave a crap about what I was doing. I did what I did for the feedback, for the hope of praise, because I needed someone to tell me I was good at crafting.

Pathetic. Freaking sad and pathetic. I am not embarrassed to own any of this though because it is a part of my story, and it is also something a lot of crafters struggle with.

It was at this time that someone I knew and trusted said to me words that burned in my brain, that were aimed to be so completely HURTFUL, and intended to break my spirit once and for all.

Yet they did the opposite.

They set me free and this very mean girl? Instead of breaking me and making me give up she was the turning point.

She said to me that I didn’t have my own original style or talent. That NOBODY, NOWHERE would ever want to take a class from me that was of my own making and that there was NO CHANCE I would ever “make it” on my own in the scrapbooking industry. That I just wasn’t talented like Cathy Zielske or Ali Edwards. That I needed to just give up, scrap-lift their pages, and be content teaching at a local store because it was lucky that they’d have me and they didn’t mind – in fact they encouraged – lifting ideas from the magazines.

Now I wasn’t able to snap my fingers and become a happy crafter that day. No, that took several YEARS of hard work and a lot of hours, swearing, frustration, and downright determination on my part.

I fought hard for my crafting freedom.

But what the speech that was intended to break my spirit did was two things:

1. My inner Taurus woke up after a way too long nap. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that once I’ve become set on something – that is just it. Deep within I heard the words “can’t” and “will never happen” and I heard a challenge. Challenge, ACCEPTED.

2. I realized I hated crafting this way. I realized that I’d rather quit than make pages like Cathy or Ali or whoever the next big trend setter was going to be in order to fit in.

For the record? I ADORE and ADMIRE the heck out of both of those ladies!! In fact they inspire me and I’ll share more about how some other time… at this point in time though, I just didn’t want to be their clones or be told to be like anyone else…

Play May

When I did start to really find my way, the layout that I shared at the Play event was one that really was the first “playful” and “I’ll do what I want…” page I found where I could go wild, mix things up, but still have a cohesive page that had some design elements that made it pretty, functional, AND fun.

I saw ladies embracing the spirit of it, but more importantly, I saw a lot of ladies putting their OWN SPIN on the thing and making it theirs. This was the greatest thing to see – truly I just can’t express how special it was to see them taking ownership of the idea and making it their own.



There are no rules in crafting (basic safety aside), but I do have some personal guidelines.

  • Do what makes you happy. If you like your pages to look like you sneezed stickers all over them, if you adore neon, if you want to make it look very precise and measure with your ruler – just do it.
  • Don’t think too hard. Getting up inside your head and over-thinking your craft supply placement will only lead to ugly pages. Sorry – this is just a fact. Be focused on the overall mood and feel, and remember there is simply no one way or right way to scrapbook anything.
  • If colors + patterns are overwhelming to you, stick to one collection. The scrapbook companies want to make it easy – so let them!
  • Don’t forget that it is YOUR project. Somebody tells you that you’re doing it wrong or that it isn’t good enough? Stick your tongue out, flip them the finger, or give ’em a few choice words.
  • It can be about whatever you want it to be about. Deep emotional outlet? Fun way to preserve a vacation? Daily minutia? Just because? There’s not a wrong reason or way to scrapbook or craft in general. Don’t forget that.
  • Embrace your perspective. Everyone has a different path, past, and story to tell. So embrace yours and charge right in.

This class I taught had me walking twelve years down memory lane. It also reminded me that just as I was really getting comfortable in my crafting and truly having fun again one woman said “why not” and took a chance on a pretty much unheard of instructor for her new on-line workshop site.


Yes. I’m talking about me + Stacy Julian. I emailed her and asked to teach for Big Picture Scrapbooking back in 2006 and I remember a small doubtful voice in my head saying “no way… you have no chance…” and I kicked that voice in the head and hit send on that email.

to be continued…

22 thoughts on “Creative Health + Play event part 1.”

  1. Thank you May! This post has brought tears to my eyes….because I felt like you were describing me…You are very wise. Thank you for posting this.

  2. love this post. It’s honest and true…I’ve struggled with the same in the past, and I so much appreciate your perspective. (and PS, I loved your class)

  3. May, thank you very much for sharing this deeply painful time in your life. I don’t know how to load things to put on a gallery I’m not tech savvy. But I can relate in that I so badly want to share with the people in my life what my crafting, pics, and memories mean to me. But I can’t because I’m afraid to be a joke. I’m so excited every time I master a new technique and I keep it to myself. That’s ok though because I am happy doing it. And I hope to expand my tech horizons this year, even though I have many challenges I’m facing. Thank you for being so inspiring. Michelle t

  4. Good for you May, I love your blog and your work is brilliant, I am starting out in the world of art journaling and mixed media and making cards and your blogs is on of a few that has inspired me. I keep getting told that there are no mistakes in art so I’m creating by that mantra and also as a teacher (not of craft) but intell my students if you don’t make mistakes you don’t make anything. Best wishes Rhian from Wales UK

  5. You are awesome May and I’m so glad you took what that horrible person said to you and ended up throwing it back in her face. She must be green at your success. Thank you for sharing this important event in your life. I congratulate you in your strength to move past it and succeed BIG TIME!

  6. May,
    Thank you for sharing this. It brought tears to me. I admire and respect your struggle and how much it took to slop through all the doubts and bumps along the way. You rock!!

  7. May, thank you for sharing your story! Many crafters/artists struggle with self doubt and fall into the comparison trap. I admire your spirit and strength. You are an inspiration. Thanks for the reminder that art is about self expression.

  8. Good for you May! One of the greatest lessons we can learn in this life is to truly believe in ourselves 🙂

  9. Oh May… This is why I faithfully visit your blog. Your site just exudes your nature and this lesson you’ve learned. You the “girl next door”, the unknown “athlete”, “stay at home entrepreneur”, the “non-comformist scrap booker” who succeeded because of hard work and because you told yourself you could. I hear your message and it inspires me❤️

  10. Your message resonates with all women not just crafters. Thanks for sharing as it gives hope and encouragement to all of us who have had terrible words thrown at us. And your style rocks, so I for one am glad you persevered! I loved the layout idea you gave us at Play…I took it and made it my own and loved the result. Thanks!

  11. May, I have been following your blog for a while now and while I do not scrapbook or make cards, I really enjoy your stories and your art. I dabble in mixed media/art journaling. I think the lines are blurred between artist vs crafter, mixed media supplies vs scrapbooking supplies etc. I think it’s all art. I use a lot of scrapbook papers in my mixed media work. What I really want to say is awesome post! Thank you for sharing your very personal story and WOW!!….you took lemons and made a huge pitcher of lemonade! If I knew you, I’d tell you I was proud of you. Let me settle for saying you are a true inspiration!

  12. Thank you!!! It took me a LONG time to create for me, the way I want to. Not thinking about others & what they think. And it is so freeing & joyful.

  13. What a fantastic post. Thanks for letting us know that everything and anything is OK as long as we make it ok

  14. Wonderful, thanks for sharing, I enjoyefd a lot your Camp Scrap last year, even if our styles are different, because what you teach is way more than “do what I do” (actually, it’s exactly the opposite) and I was inspired by all these ideas ! I took this class because people kept saying how wonderful teacher you were. They were right.

  15. I love this post and your blog. And I love your classes. Your Camp Scrap class was the first class I actually paid to take at BPC and I absolutely loved it and have gone on to buy several more classes from BPC – so Stacy should actually be thanking you. Lol!

  16. I don’t think you could be as inspiring a teacher as you are without having had that experience. Going through difficult things seems to truly bring out our empathy and compassion and understanding of others. Happy crafting, May! 🙂

Comments are closed.