Forks in the Road
As I sit here and write my first blog for Country Craft Creations, I can't believe how much my life has changed in the past year and the new roads that have been laid out before me. Who would have thought, at sixty-one years old, I would be writing a blog for my favorite company, mentor, and dear friend? I am a newly retired elementary school teacher of 38 years. I struggled with the decision to retire for three years before finally handing in my “Letter of Separation” to the district. I literally felt sick every time I looked at that word- separation. I questioned everything, from money to my identity. I’ve been a mom, wife, friend, teacher and when I had time- crafter all of my adult life. Being a teacher took up more than half of that life (probably too much as I look back, for I was never the typical nine to three teacher). I was, and still am, so very proud of that title, 'Mrs. Phelan', both professionally and personally.
I was one of the lucky ones who knew what I wanted to be from day one. My mom used to say I was born with a piece of chalk in one hand and a bottle of glue in the other. I was given the gift of passion, for teaching was my passion- it was in my blood, it was the only thing I ever wanted to be. I woke up ninety -eight percent of the time happy, silly and excited to get to work and see the kids. I believe that having a passion holds the key to many different kinds of successes, and most importantly, it holds the key to joy. For without joy, my friends- we live robotic, half- happy lives. I believe that passion is what separates the truly fulfilled, energetic, happy people from the robotic, nine to five, can’t wait for the weekend type people. Life is too short to just exist; life shouldn’t be lived just for the weekends. Living with joy also keeps you standing, when the walls come crashing in, and tragedy strikes. It gives you strength and fortitude to go on, when you wonder how you will even get out of bed at times. Having a profession, I loved gave me joy. It is the joy deep within me that gave me strength when my walls come crashing down and tragedy strikes, such as when I lost my parents. I believe we must have a reason to get out of bed and not be swallowed up in despair. (Little did I know, I was soon to meet another woman who also lives with passion, who also chose to walk down a new, uncharted fork in the road, and lives her life with exuberance and joy.)
Sooooo, June 23, 2019, I retired. What would happen to me, my personality, my drive, my ‘happy’ without something I treasured that took up so much of my daily life? The one thing EVERYONE kept saying was, “Now you will have more time to craft”. All who knew me said that. As many of us know, when you have a full-time job, crafting time is precious and few. You sneak in an hour here, a few hours there on the weekends, and if you're not fully exhausted after a full day’s work, cooking dinner, laundry, and tending to the family, you might grab a few precious late hours during the week. “Hmm- more time to craft? More time to go online and meet other crafters? More time to shop!!! OMG!! MORE TIME TO SHOP!!!!!!!!!” And as if by magic, one door closed, and another opened, And I never looked back! I haven’t even been back to school to visit- The time was right; it was meant to be.
In walks Country Craft Creations. I can just about remember the day I was mulling through YouTube looking for a cookbook to make. I was completely drawn to a crafter named Tamra Merrill, and another named Brenda Crouch. They crafted to my passions- country, plaids, cows, lace, antiques, and everything vintage. I then found the CCC website… “Holy cow! She has a scrapbook store!!!!” And just like that, my joy meter began to rise. What came next was truly one of those forks in the road of life, where you must stop, choose a new path, knowing that whichever direction you choose, your life would surly change. This one, particular fork in the road led me to my very first Country Craft Creations Retreat… St Louis. And the rest they say is history…
I was finally going to meet my scrapbook idols, Tammy and Brenda in person. I had been watching their videos for about 4 years before I finally met them. Little did I know, there was a whole team of designers about to enter my little world. I don’t really know how it happened, but I think Tammy and Brenda took pity on me, as I had written each of them in desperation several times before the retreat. This would be the first time I had ever traveled and flown solo without my husband, daughter, or friends by my side. I was scared, nervous, and extremely afraid of traveling by myself. I had never gone anywhere without my husband for over 37 years, let alone on a plane! But Tammy and Brenda would answer my emails within minutes calming me and giving me the confidence that I needed. They assured me I would be Ok, and they would be there to help me in any way needed. I think one of the differences between Country Craft Creations and other establishments, was, I never felt like I was talking to a ‘business’- I felt like I was talking to old friends.
When I arrived at the conference room, literally shaking and thinking I was going back on the next flight, Tammy was in the middle of her introductions, because of course, I was late. I had been in the airport bathroom crying to my husband that I was going to go to the hotel, say hello to Tammy, and get on the next flight out!)
The room was filled with kind looking faces, and tons of scrapbook supplies! Tammy knew who I was the moment I entered and stopped her speech to introduce me and say how nervous I was to come. I was taken to a seat, and handed a BIG bag of gorgeous papers, kits, glue, new scissors, embellishments, and tons of more treasures. My husband was texting me frantically knowing how scared I was, but I didn’t even look at my phone after I was seated! Instantly, I belonged there- instantly!
I do not believe in chance meetings; I do not believe in accidents- I often say that EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON. I often say my mom sends me angels, angels to fill voids left by the loss of loved ones- I believe my mom helped put me on that plane and literally sat me right in Tamra’s lap. Poor Tamra never had a chance!!! I was here to stay! I have a new purpose!!
Where we would we all be without a purpose? That is something I pray I will never be without. So, I will never leave this magical, happy place where I am surrounded by beautiful, happy, loving, creative, spiritual, strong women (and a few great men) who inspire me, make me laugh, keep me on my toes, and give me a purpose. I didn’t mean for this first blog to be so long, but I wanted you to know who was writing to you, and why.
Tomorrow we will keep up with Wilbur Wednesdays where we bring back a blast from the past. Old projects that are beautiful and waiting for a new twist with new papers and embellishments will be highlighted . It is my goal to not only bring Tamara’s self-made crafting world into your homes, but to also inspire you to live in joy with a purpose. Thursday or Friday will talk about Scrapbooking for the Seasons and our retreats! Please feel free to comment about what you would like to see on this blog, or what projects you are interested in. I hope this will be a happy place, led by respect and kindness. And so, my friends, I wish you a beautiful, pumpkin filled day!
Keep Spreading the Joy,