Embrace the fails – they’re success too.

There have been a lot of scary risks and leaps I’ve taken in my craft life. Things like writing a letter to every single manufacturer (over a decade ago) trying to get hired in any form was a great risk for rejection.

Not one person ever replied to those letters.

Applying to design teams and going out for jobs – that can be another risk because you’re putting yourself out there and the feelings of rejection can be overwhelming.

Ah, but here’s the secret to the whole thing: I couldn’t ever do what I do, I wouldn’t be who I am had I not failed hundreds of times. Oh at this point it may be into the THOUSANDS. I promise you that even today, should I go out for a design team I would more likely be told no thanks than yes please. It’s not personal, it isn’t my shortcoming – I just am perhaps not what that particular company needs in a team member. Guess what? That’s ok.

The only way to figure out what you want, what you excel in, and what you would really like to get better at is to put yourself out there. A few months back I decided I hadn’t been taking enough risks and felt kind of without solid focus. I started working on some brand focusing stuff. Watching videos and reading articles and working on some internal improvements here at HQ. I also tried submitting some articles to a huge website/blog.

When I first applied I was asked to make some pitches. That was super exciting. Then I was asked to write up a few. Scary, but still exciting. They never got picked up – in fact they never got a reply which seemed odd given the quick replies to the initial process. But that’s OK. The point of this was that it terrified me in a good “egads! Scary! Vulnerable! what if?!” way. The goal was to push myself, try something new, and embrace that vulnerable space where you’re not sure if success or failure is the desired result because both can be scary.

The actual success or fail wasn’t the point – it didn’t actually matter. It was the doing, the effort, the putting myself out there and trying new things that was the entire focus.

If you want to give this a go (creative industry speaking) I do have a few tips. First of all – never ever be afraid to email a person or contact a company and pitch your idea. I can count on one hand the number of times someone has approached me with an idea/to pitch themselves. People just don’t tend to jump in and go for it! Just follow these three rules:

  • Keep it short/to the point and respect their busy schedule. Cut out all the meandering/long intros/deep detail. They’ll contact you if you spark interest.
  • Keep it focused on what you can provide/do for the company and/or how your idea benefits them in some way.
  • Have something to back it up- if you say you craft a ton, blog regularly, etc… you’d better have the website/gallery/proof to show you are serious!

Just remember – being turned down is not a “fail” or rejection. You’ve got to knock on a LOT of doors, try a lot of ideas, and make a lot of stuff before things start opening up and you start seeing progress. That’s all good – it’s a part of the ever changing process of being a creative person.

This applies to all those who enjoy this hobby of paper crafting in general too – don’t get stuck and don’t tell yourself “I can’t…” because guess what? You CAN do whatever it is you’ve convinced yourself is impossible for you. You just have to do little steps each day, embrace the fails as well as the wins, and go for it.

Art Journaling: on the path and exploring…

It’s Friday the 13th tomorrow so shall we talk about something scary?! hee hee

Sharing my personal art journal pages isn’t something I do often. In fact… I would say that it is something like 1% ever have been seen by anyone but me! Keeping that private and just for myself was always a big part of the allure. Total freedom, no possibility for judgment, and absolutely no worries. Doodles or paint, a random list, technique, it doesn’t matter in my space. It’s all accepted and it is all wonderful. Quite honestly? It is how I do what I do.

So the choice to create a class based around my personal art journal process and system wasn’t done lightly. In fact I went back and forth for a long time about it but ultimately decided if I could help even one person break free of expectations and rules that it’d be worth it.

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This class is now (nearly) completed – meaning all the prompts, PDF files, and many hours of video are completed on my end and all will be accessible as of February 18. If you’d like to sign up and take this as a self-paced course you’re welcome to here.

The page you see above is maybe 1/2 done and the final project of class. I love the visual of walking into a dark ‘scary’ unknown and seeing what you’ll find.

I’m still learning, improving, growing… but aren’t we always?

When you see my pages from my art journal some are more successful or polished than others. Doesn’t make them better. It is just how it works out sometimes because I strongly believe that it should be a place for raw creativity. No pressure no rules at all. It should not be a place where you ever have to be concerned about finishing, making it pretty, or what anyone else might think or say about it.

I find more wild ideas and new inspiration by just taking pressure off and wandering in my journal… I hope to have the courage to share more here in this public space in future. In the meantime I keep on exploring and walking down this path…

2015 has a new scrapbook…


I added some 2015 number stickers (next to the heart)… but this is it. My 2015 album. It’s an American Crafts D-ring as usual (Amy Tangerine line this time), and today I also made the first page for this album. You’ll see that Friday.

Why is it noteworthy?

This is the first year I’ve begun scrapbooking and did so with the first page I want in the dedicated album. It’s also a big step for me to have an album ready and waiting for pages vs pages waiting for albums. This is GOOD stuff people.

Finally, it’s noteworthy because I took 3 months off from scrapbooking.

Yeah, you read that right. I usually take about a 6 week break around the holidays if I can (it helps me refresh/refocus/etc to switch gears) but this year it was WAYY longer than normal for a few reasons. I’ve been trying for almost a month to make a page but I never could make it happen – so when I had the photos + was inspired to tell a story in this brand new shiny album well – it was a match made in heaven.

When someone tells me they take a scrapbooking break or feel bad they haven’t been crafting – I always think of it like this: maybe I was just redirecting my attention elsewhere. I was being creative and making stuff- just not “layouts” and that is 100% ok, because it’s all good.

Oh yeah, but it’s darn good to be back playing with photos + stories…

Don’t blame the banana…

About four years ago I was sitting between two very fit and trim friends and I couldn’t have been more insecure.

“I’m fat because I can’t eat bananas!” I heard myself blurt out during a favorite healthy snack conversation. Both ladies smiled and were sympathetic but even as the words settled back into my brain I heard how idiotic I was. Defensive after a doctor’s visit where I was input as “obese” I was explaining to these women – fitness professionals actually – that I couldn’t be more trim because bananas made me gag and therefore weren’t edible to me.

It was one of my lamer moments, and one of my biggest realizations.

Every time I picked crackers or other useless carbs, every time I filled up on more cheese or had a sugary pure fruit smoothie I soothed myself by blaming a freaking banana.

The next day I put a ½ of a banana in my lunch smoothie and hated it. I repeated this every day until I didn’t mind. Eventually I worked my way up to microscopic bits of banana being in my cereal. After several months I was able to eat a small bite directly from the banana. Today I still dislike bananas, but I can, if necessary, eat one slowly.

These days I watch out for banana peels aka things I’m holding up as excuses. I hit one last fall in the form of telling myself it wasn’t my fault – I simply couldn’t draw anything good. I’ve been working on that a lot and today I painted a path + trees + lady that I did not hate.


note this is just a peek… the whole piece is for my Art in your Journal class currently happening at craftwithmay.com

Tiny, microscopic, little efforts every day add up my friends. And whether you’re trying to learn to be ok with the foul fruit that is banana and not gag (seriously. So foul.) or wanting to learn a new skill just make that one thing a priority, try a little each day, and don’t give up.

let’s all judge ourselves harshly.

nah, just kidding!

This time of year the gym is packed. People are making grand declarations. It’s a fresh new year and often a time of reflection and goal setting.

Not for me.

note: the projects shown are ones made for my Art Journaling course starting next week. For more information + to register click here.

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I’m a year-round type of personal growth and work gal. The thing is, true change and growth happens with a million tiny steps. Big gestures and grand declarations aren’t action. Also, this time of year it can be really overwhelming to go adding a bunch of new ideas and activities and worse? Failure can really send you to a sad place.

So what if you’re wanting to reflect, make some adjustments, add some positive habits, and improve some things? How do you judge yourself in a positive way that will promote happiness and positive stuff?

Obviously I can’t tell you exactly how to do this – everyone is different. But I can tell you what I do.

Find some things I’m doing that are GOOD. For example:

  • All my ink pads and paints are 100% where they belong and I clean them up all the time. This means I’ve got good storage system and of course am actually putting them away
  • Frequent use of my art journal – even if to jot a note or quote I’ve got it out several times a week
  • Have my photos printed + organized from my last vacation and have begun filming videos for that class!
  • 100% of layouts are in albums

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Then, I look at what I wish for or what I’m not especially happy with.

  • not many scrapbook/memory keeping projects being completed
  • studio remains a mess and no end in sight
  • not happy with my blogging or on-line sharing overall. Not sharing enough, not writing enough.
  • not trying enough products/new things
  • not walking dog enough on long walks and not doing enough at gym

I’ll stop here because I don’t want to pick and attack every little and big thing – and I have plenty to keep me busy! The plan of attack has been simple. I’ve been writing more. Scheduling blog posts ahead. I made a trip to the CHA tradeshow work out so I can check out the latest and greatest and get fresh inspiration. I went into the flooring store and picked out my new studio floor.

Some feel big – but really it is 100 tiny steps. It is deciding to do good things each day, to make choices that better my situation, and to keep the focus on positive things being done and NOT dwell on what I’m not doing or where I’m not at yet.

I’m in a constant state of growth, change, and improvement. I believe that is simply how life is. I’m excited though, and in drafting up this post I came up with a bunch of topics and things I’m excited to chat about here on my blog in addition to sharing actual crafty projects. In fact- just today I recorded a podcast that ties into so much of this stuff it felt like cosmic timing. Fantastic.

I’ll share a link when that is up, and you should stay tuned for so much more. 2015 is off to a great start – one day at a time.

If you’re interested in my story of personal creative journey, the creative journey category has all my posts. A few I recommend (in order of when they happened) are:

My scrapbooking before there was much of an “industry”

Feeling lost

Tim Holtz to the rescue

thoughts on creative insecurity/jealousy

creative health + Play event part 1  and part 2