Monday, September 10, 2018

I CARE - A Blog Hop to Benefit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.





I am so very excited to be participating in the first I Care Blog Hope to benefit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on World Suicide Prevention Day 2018!!


Joanne Soukup, of Perky Penny Paper Arts©, in collaboration with Simon Says Stamp©, organized this blog hop to raise money and awareness for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and World Suicide Prevention Day.  When she contacted me, I knew right away that I wanted to join in!

  It seems a day does not go by that we don't hear the name of a friend, relative, celebrity, or acquaintance that hasn't been directly affected by suicide. The only fortunate thing to come from the prevalence of information is that it's now being talked about more than ever before. However painful it may be, it's a serious conversation that everyone needs to be having.

The part of the conversation I want to take part in is the part where people say, "I don't understand how someone's life can be so bad that they made the decision to leave their family and friends. How can they make such a hard decision without thinking of what they're doing to everyone else."

Back in 1998, my family and I were living in Missouri. I had 2 very small daughters, aged 3 and 1, and I had a great job (up for a big promotion) and a loving husband who had a good job and because we worked different shifts, we didn't need childcare for our kids. We lived in a nice little duplex, drove a clean car and I had many friends. At some point, I started feeling awful. I just wanted to sleep. All the time. It's all I could think about. I was cold, had no interest in anything and things that typically would roll off my back, irritated me to anger very quickly.

When it got to the point that I was sleeping so much, to the point of not caring if my kids were fed, I made an appointment to see a psych clinic. My work in a local hospital had benefits that provided me with 4 free psych appointments per calendar year, not subject to copay or deductible through my medical coverage. It was free. Sign me up. Something is wrong.

I had my first appointment and I liked the doctor. I explained everything that was concerning, let him know of the very large part of my family tree that had diagnosed mental illness, and how alone I felt. I was scared to death of what was happening to me and I felt like I was drowning in mid air. The doctor prescribed me some medication and I walked out the door optimistic that in a few days I'd start to feel better.

Well, the medication was AWFUL. I was laid up in bed for 6 days before I could move without throwing up. My body felt as if a semi-truck had dragged it through the gravel at a drag race. I called the doctor who said to come in and we'll try another medication. I went in, we talked, he gave me a new script. Again, days and days of being in bed. Missing work. My boss wasn't happy. I quit that medication and, as per doctor prescription, tried a third medication. I was able to take it! For two days. Then the awfulness.

By this time, a couple months had passed. I was sleeping even more. I developed tremors. I felt as if my brain was made of felt. Fuzzy and scratchy at the same time. It hurt when people looked at me. My friends didn't know what to think. My husband just wanted his wife back. My doctor, exasperated by my inability to tolerate all the meds he was giving me, basically told me to move back home (to Pennsylvania) to be with my family. Maybe the could be the suppor,t that I so desperately needed, that I didn't have where I was living.

The next morning, feeling groggy, angry and exhausted, I laid in bed listening to the alarm blaring in my ear. I could hear my daughter crying in her room. Where I lay, I could see directly in to my bathroom and I could see the bottles of medication all lined up on my vanity. This thought entered my head with the ease of a white fluffy feather: If I take all those pills in those little brown bottles, I won't have to go to work today. My husband and his family won't look at me like I'm an awful person any longer and I'll be freed of being a burden to my boss and co-workers. That thought carried the same weight in my head as the knowledge that I had to brush my teeth every morning. The same ease of knowing that after I shampoo my hair, I use conditioner. It wasn't the thought that I wanted to die. I didn't plan on the actual death. I just wanted done. I wanted to depart.

I got up from my bed, went into the bathroom, and poured all those ineffective medications into a pretty bowl that belonged to my grandma. The clinking of the pills sounded like candy as they danced around the porcelain. I put my glass under the faucet and watched as the water rose, getting ready to wash away my world.

I stood and looked in the mirror, picked up a few pieces of candy and I felt a tug on my night shirt. My daughter, Emily, was hungry. She'd just woken up and she and Barney wanted a waffle. She pointed towards the kitchen, blankie and Barney in hand, and her blonde hair bounced as she took off towards melted butter and syrup she knew I'd get her.

I looked in the mirror and that blank looking face told me to go after her. I shoved the bowl in a drawer and I went to make waffles. I never thought of eating that candy ever again. It was a fleeting moment. I ended up just pitching the pills when I found them in the drawer a couple days later.

I wonder what I could have done if Emily hadn't come to find her mama, who made the best waffles ever. My thought process had never entered the realm of suicide. It was years later that I would even admit I had contemplated it. After all, suicide is a hard decision to make. Isn't it? And that decision, that day, that moment, that second, felt as it was....the answer. It wasn't death. It was finishing.

So when I hear someone speak of someone's suicide and say, "How could they DO such a thing? How could they be so selfish? How could they do that to their family?' My answer in my head is always....VERY EASILY.

Let's fast forward 20 years later...

I took the doctor's advise and moved back to Pennsylvania to be with family. My mental illness issues were obviously not getting better. I found a job at a hospital, a mental health facility nonetheless, in Pittsburgh and started working in the ER. The tremors worsened and I felt like I was falling all the time. After being at the new job 90 days, I was able to get medical benefits and I had to pick a PCP to facilitate my care. Upon my initial office visit with my new doctor, I immediately started hyperventilating when she walked into the room. She stared at me, probably thinking what the heck is wrong with this chick?, and as she widened her eyes, I asked her to just kill me. I'm done.

After I settled down and explained the last year to her in the span of 3.45 minutes, she put her hands on her hips and paused. She finally asked, "What did your blood work show?"

"What blood work?"

"The blood work they took when you started seeing the doctor", she said.

"They never did any." THEY NEVER DID ANY. THEY NEVER DID ANY.

She literally raced out of the exam room and grabbed the phlebotomist. She looked at me while she ordered the tests and bet me her year's salary that my thyroid was whacked. (Her exact words). "You're 28 years old and you have no reason to be depressed. I'm betting your thyroid has stopped working and it was very negligible that your mental health provider never tested you."

The next day she called me herself. "Your thyroid is not working at all. Your B-12 levels are completely gone. You're not insane."

  I wept.

30 days later, on the exact day I needed refills for my new thyroid medication, I was me again. The fog lifted and I liked myself again.

I'd like to say that the depression stayed away for good. But it did not. In the last 7 or so years, I've battled with it. Sometimes winning, sometimes close to losing. Last year I found a doctor that believed me when I told him that the depression medications I tried in the past were toxic to me. Other doctors said I was wrong. He listened and tried another medication and I've felt wonderful. Due to side effects, I've just weaned off this wonderful medication and am now off. I'm scared. But so far, so good. It's a day by day thing.

It's something I don't share with many people. You just don't. No one wants to hear you are struggling, hear your complaining, your misery. So you suffer alone. It's why it's so shocking when people actually do commit suicide. It happens a lot to people you'd never guess were dealing with the head demons. I'm here to tell you, it happens to anyone. Even the person in the mirror.

I'm hoping that this blog hop brings awareness to issues that bring people to the brink of finishing. I hope if someone ever looks at you, calls you or texts you and says they haven't felt good for awhile, that you don't say "just cheer up, think of the positive, there are people that have it so much worse than you."

Because our brains are telling us the exact opposite. Our brains lie to us and tell us it's much easier to finish than to race. Be the friend or family member that listens more closely, because our thoughts and struggles are silent. Because of waffles, I'm here. I'm better.

Thank you to Joanne for allowing me to be a participant in this blog hop. The most important one I've ever been a part of. The I Care stamp set is a very versatile one and will probably be the most important one in your collection. If you purchase the set, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Awareness is vitally important and we all need to be part of the conversation.

Here is my card and I hope you enjoy looking at all the creations from all the other crafters in the hop. Please think about purchasing this set and know that the contributions are going to a cause that is near and dear to my heart.

Much Junkie Love, Marci






For information on the blog hop, the I Care Stamp set, and the wonderful ways you can help, read her post here.

Joanne has all of the links on her blog, so please visit her blog to see everyone’s amazing creations, read their personal stories, and donate by ordering the I Care Stamps set from Simon Says Stamp©.“


Thursday, June 14, 2018

My Sweet Petunia & Alexandra Renke Blog Hop





Thank you for stopping by and participating in our hop! 

I was lucky enough to be able to attend Creativation this past January in Phoenix, AZ.  This is a massive trade show for crafting companies to introduce their new products for the year.  It was there that I got to meet Alexandra Renke.  It was also there that I fell head over heels in love with her and her art.  I couldn't tear myself away from her booth.  I found myself gravitating to her corner each spare moment I got.  

Imagine my sheer delight in being able to combine two of my most favorite things in the world right now.  My Sweet Petunia & Alexandra Renke.  To top it all off, it's even better that there are prizes involved!

Before we go over the prizes, let's take a look at my project I completed for this blog hop full of talented paper artists from all over the world!  

As soon as I got my hands on this paper, I had this vision to create a shadowbox/layered look in a frame, however, I live in a very rural area and I couldn't find a frame to fit my imagination.  So, how will I create my vision with no frame?  I created packaging for a greeting card set!  This allowed me a large surface in which to cut and layer these magical papers.    

Here is my card holder that fits 6 A2 sized cards and envelopes quite comfortably.  I die cut the front and back covers and adhered them to a clear storage box.  I also created a matching tag to tie on when I give this as a gift.





This picture didn't do the project justice so I took some extra shots 
to show the depth and sparkle that really shines in person.   

Products used can be found on Alexandra's website: Click HERE 

Paper used:  Under Water Bundle 
Die Used on box:  Beautiful
Die used on tag:  Frame Rectangle 



I purposely die cut these papers so that the base layer paper, 
with the goldfish, had him gazing at the mermaid on the top layer.  
I think they're smitten.


I used a chunky glitter to accent the mermaid and the surrounding sea life.  

I used my MISTI and my Creative Corners to stamp my "For You" on my coordinating tag.




Now, on to the prizes!  

Two lucky commenters from the hop will win one of two prizes:  
a $50 shopping spree at www.mysweetpetunia.com and a 
$50 shopping spree at www.alexandra-renke.com.  

Comments must be submitted no later than Sunday, June 17th, at 11:59 pm (CST).  Winners will be announced Tuesday, June 19th, on the Alexandra Renke and My Sweet Petunia blogs.  

Please be sure to continue on the hop by clicking here  to go see Frau Pony.

Here are all the participants and I hope you'll stop by each and every one of these talented artist's blog.

Marci Snee <------Me

Thank you so much for joining us and I hope you enjoy looking at the beautiful art of Alexandra Renke and the ingenious, patented, MISTI stamping tool from My Sweet Petunia.






Thursday, January 18, 2018

CAS-ual Fridays January Inspiration Challenge CAS09





It's January and boy is it cold!  

     I hope you had good holidays and I'm thankful you've stopped by my blog today.  I welcome you to a new year at CAS-ual Fridays Inspiration Challenge which has you create a card you would send to someone as encouragement using the board below.  You can go with whatever catches your creativity.  



   

     These colors are very cool colors and just perfect for creating cards in January.  I used the lighter blue and grey colors as inspiration and the fluidity of the water splash made me want to make my card look wet, so I added some water drop embellishments.  It's a very clean and simple card and can be used for many types of encouragement cards or even for a sympathy card, I think.  

     I used the popular recently released stamp set "Peace and Comfort" for the sentiment that I embossed with silver embossing powder.  I did the smooshing technique on watercolor paper with Ranger distress inks as a background to give the feeling of water.




     Because embossing is tricky on watercolor paper due to the texture, or "tooth", I used my MISTI stamping tool for easy alignment of my sentiment to I could stamp my Versamark ink 3 times to make sure I had a perfect image to emboss.  

     We would love you to enter this month's Encouragement Challenge and I hope my card got the inspiration rolling.  Click here for the Offical Challenge Guidelines for your entry.

Be sure to check out the CAS-ual Fridays Blog for the rest of the cards our encouragement squad came up with to showcase this beautiful inspiration board.

Happy January everyone!  

Marci


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

CAS-ual Fridays BCA (Breast Cancer Awareness) Monthly Reminder




Hi everyone!  As this post goes live, I'll be traveling to Phoenix for Creativation.  I'm so excited.  Not only to see my friends, but to be in a warm climate. 

My post today is for CAS-ual Fridays for their Calling All Sistahs monthly Breast Cancer Awareness Reminder.  Every month, on the 17th, the Encouragement Squad posts cards for you to enjoy and also hopes that you take an opportunity to do a self breast exam.  It would also be great if you reminded your friends and family members to do this as well.

CAS-ual Fridays came out with two new stamps recently which I used for this card.  One is Peace & Comfort and the other is Supercalifragilistic. (shown below)


I did a super simple card using the sentiment as my focal point and the florals as interest.  I simply masked over the sentiment and stamps on both sides of the masking on top and on bottom.  I mounted my main stitched rectangle on a black scalloped rectangle for a peek of black.  I then mounted that on larger sized stitched rectangle dies cut out of white card stock.  I mounted them all together and put it on my card base.  I added a couple of sequins in there for some pop!




I hope you enjoyed my card.  I do this layout with so many of my stamp sets I've collected.  It works with just about any style of stamp you have, especially florals.  I do this when I need a quick and easy card, but don't have a lot of time.

Speaking of not having a lot of time, self breast exams are quick and easy.  You can do it while you shower or when you lay down at night or get up in the morning in bed.  

Thank you for joining us all this month and I hope you join me again tomorrow for the new Encouragement Challenge for January.  Click here for more information on that.  

For more information on the Calling All Sistahs BCA initiative started by CAS-ual Fridays owner/designer Michele, click here.  While you're there, take a moment to look at all her Encouragement stamp sets and dies.  It's so nice to have these on hand.  I'm totally enjoying these new sets!  Check out the top right side of my blog for a 15% off code for the store!  Who doesn't love a sale?

Good Bye from Phoenix!


Monday, December 18, 2017

Give Love! CAS08 December Inspiration Challenge



CAS-ual Fridays Calling All Sistahs Encouragement Challenge CAS08

     I can't believe it is now December 18th and we're nearing the end of 2017.  Christmas will soon be upon us, as well as 2018.  This year has been a very rough one in my family with lots of relatives and friends passing away or being diagnosed with illnesses.  It's been very therapeutic for me to be actively participating with the Encouragement Squad for CAS-ual Fridays to make monthly encouragement cards to send.  
     This month's Inspiration Board, pictured above, intrigued me. I love navy blue and burgundy, so I was very excited to see this color combo.  I also never really use that color green, so this was taking me out of my comfort zone with that hue.  
     Since it is December, I decided to try the Mistletoe & Holly set, stamping it in Gina K's "In the Navy" premium dye ink. I colored the leaves with a green prismacolor pencil and left the berries uncolored so they're white. The sentiment is from the Dream Then Do set. I embossed the sentiment with Alabaster embossing powder from Brutus Monroe on burgundy cardstock.






     Now that you've seen my card, let's see what you can do with the inspiration board pictured above.  Here are the rules to the challenge:


How to Play with Us
We'd love to have you play with us! 
The main idea of the challenge is encouragement cards.
We all know someone at some point who could use a little lift.
Whether it's an illness, a loss, a crossroad in life, or simply someone in need of a hug, encouragement cards can put a smile on someone's face when they really need it.
We'll provide a new inspiration board on the 18th of each
month for you to use to create your encouragement card.
Use the colors we highlight, draw inspiration from the photo, or both.

1.  There are NO product requirements to play or win.
This challenge is designed to inspire you to create encouragement cards.
You may use any product you have in your crafty stash.
We will be showcasing CAS-ual Fridays Stamps and Fri-Dies regularly,
and we'd love to see you putting yours into action too,
 but you are NOT required to use CFS products in order to play or win.

2. There are NO style restrictions.
Just have fun!
Use the monthly challenge inspiration board to create an encouragement card.
You can draw inspiration from the photo itself or use the color chips provided or both as you create an encouragement card.
There are no style restrictions so if you're feeling clean and simple, utterly adorable layers, mixed media or anything in between, go for it! 

3. Enter as many projects as you'd like!
Just be sure to enter each of them separately.
Remember, your projects must be new...that means not posted anywhere prior to the start of our challenge.

4. We need to be easily directed to your project. 
Please link to your project post, and not just a generic link to your blog or gallery. 
You can link to a blog post, flickr post, SCS post or any other gallery that doesn't require us to be a member in order to see your work.
**Also, please provide a link back to our challenge in your post so your fans can find us and play along too.

5. Let the Happy Dancing begin! 
When the challenge closes, we will announce the Winner and 2 favorites.
Whether you are new to blogging, or a seasoned challenge lover, we can't wait to see your projects!
 
Good luck!  

Check out what the other Encouragement Squad members have made to help you get inspired by clicking here to enter the blog post! 

Thank you for dropping by!  I hope the rest of your December is wonderful and I wish you all well as we embark on a new year.  I challenge you to send more encouragement cards during 2018.  It's something I need to work on myself and make a priority.

Much Junkie Love! 

Marci










Sunday, December 17, 2017

It's That Time Of Year....CAS-ual Fridays BCA Reminder



It's Time for Christmas AND Time for Your Self-Check!


     Welcome to CAS-ual Fridays "Calling All Sistahs" Breast Cancer Awareness reminder for the month of December.  As 2017 winds down and we look ahead to the beginning of another fantastic year, it's important to be thankful for what this year has brought and to make sure we continue to be mindful of making 2018 even better.  

     As women, we have many things we need to keep track of monthly during the year.  Paying bills, important appointments, work tasks, family activities and more.  Why not add one of the most important things you can do every month into your schedule. One of the first things you need to mark on your schedule is one of the easiest things to check off your list: Breast Self Exam.

     These few minutes should be an important part of your normal monthly routine and we're here to remind you to do it in case you forget. In case you have never done a Breast Self Exam, click here to see exactly how to do it. 

     And now on to my card for this month.  I went a little wintry with a little bling.  I used CAS-ual Fridays Snowy Sayings and Calling All Sistahs stamp sets and the Ruffled Ribbon Fri-die. I hope you enjoy my card as much as I enjoyed making it.  




      After that sparkly pink ribbon, my favorite part of this card is the subtle white embossed snowflakes on the lower background.  Here are the stamp sets and Fri-Die I used to create my card:
 
     Be sure to head over to CAS-ual Fridays to read all about Calling All Sistahs and Michele's desire to remind all women how important self exams are. 

Thank you for joining us and I'll see you in January!  

Marci


 









Friday, November 24, 2017

Celebrate Your Unique Talent Blog Hop



You never know when, or how, you will touch someone.


     This blog hop is to celebrate the unique talent and awesomeness of Iliana, inventor of the MISTI.  I'm going to share my story with you on how her awesomeness changed my life, and I'm sure many others, over the past 3 years.  

     Sorry for the novella. (You'll want to read it to the very end).  There's a chance to win a MISTI!

     I didn't know Iliana prior to a couple years ago.  I had stumbled upon her invention, the MISTI, while looking at homemade card pins on Pinterest.  It was in a Jennifer McGuire video that I first caught site of that beautiful pink square and I immediately ordered one.  I tirelessly watched every video and read every post I could find until 5:00 am that morning. 
     Let's look back at my crafty life for about a year prior to finding the MISTI.  My husband and I worked separate shifts and never saw each other.  We passed each other every once in a while without much of a sideways glance at the other.  I had three children who had reached the ages where they didn't need their mom to help them with daily life and I had started to suffer again with clinical depression. The only thing that helped my extreme loneliness was stamping cards at night, after the kids went to bed.  I'd listen to my music and just lose myself in my paper and ink.  I was previously a demonstrator with a stamping company, but had grown bored with it and I was pretty much just making cards with paper and stickers because stamping had lost its luster.  Pretty soon the stickers lost their luster as well.  I just wanted to give up.  


     Then.....I saw it.  I couldn't tell you how long it had been since I was excited about ANYTHING. That my heart was beating so fast watching the videos and blog posts about the MISTI, seemed pretty outrageous.  It's a stamping tool.  Settle down.  But I couldn't.  A week later, I received my MISTI in the mail with that cute little pink business card.  I was smitten.  If you ask Iliana now, she'd say I was obsessed.  



 

     To not bore you, I'll make the next two and half years short.  Through the discovery of this amazing tool, I have found crafty people, just like me, who love the MISTI as much as I do and we started a Facebook Group called Stamp Junkies.  Through this page, I've gained 4 best friends who are my sisters, thousands of member friends, and I have taken my stamping to new heights.  I've traveled to many different states, been to CHA, met many business owners, design team members and bloggers who, like me, have been changed with this wonderful invention. 
 
  
     My life has gone from feeling isolated and nonexistent to full of color and vibrant art.  My depression had been so bad that I often thought that no one would notice if I was gone.  The MISTI gave me something to focus on and I tirelessly fought on Iliana's behalf while she was going through the patent pending period and the awfulness of copycat companies.  I'm really not sure how it began, but I became friends with Iliana and have gotten to meet her and I've grown to love her even more than my obsession level had reached from afar.  I will continue to stalk her and look for her in every plane ride I take and the back seat of every car that picks me up from the airport.  

     I can never express to Iliana, or anyone for that matter, how much her invention and passion changed my life.  No, SAVED my life.  I hated myself.  I hated life.  I had no one.  Now?  I'm so blessed with a brand new world filled with just the loveliest people.  All from a tool that lets me stamp so much better.  

     Iliana's unique talent, I believe, is her grace.  This woman had an idea, brought it to life, expanded from her garage, became a company and was granted a patent.  This should have been a huge celebration (which we did celebrate), but it has just brought out so many copycats and legal issues trying to protect what's hers.  She has fought this battle with such grace and courage that I'm in awe of her every day.  When I see her in person, I still get tight in the throat.  I can't speak for a bit and in my head I wonder what in the world I could ever say to her that would explain my life before and my life after her idea.  

     I have fought, and will continue to fight, for you, Iliana.  I love you more than you'll ever know.  I'm just a girl from a little town in Pennsylvania who stamped in her lonely craft room for years and wanted to quit.  You've opened up the world for me and I no longer want to disappear.  
     
Standing:  Kim ZumMallen-Pietruszewski (Stamp Junkies Admin), Me,
Julie Halvin Brase (Stamp Junkies Admin), Chris Dayton (Stamp Junkies Admin).
Seated:  Iliana Myska (My Hero, inventor of the MISTI), and Gina K.  (Gina K. Designs and
StampTV star/owner of Village Paper and Ink in Greendale, WI and Stamp Junkies Sponsor of JunkieFest 2017)

     I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to make a card for Iliana to show in this post, but I only invited myself into this blog hop a couple nights ago, late.  With Thanksgiving, I haven't had a moment to sit down and make a card worthy of celebrating my hero.  I mean really, none would ever be good enough.  (You'll get one for Christmas, promise).  Love ya.

     So, would YOU like to win the item that changed my life?  If you would, visit each of the my wonderful friends' blogs listed below.  Comment on every post and you will be entered for a chance to win a MISTI, your choice of an original size or mini.  Thank you so much for reading my story.

     Here are the blogs to visit!

Marci  <----You are here.

Click here for more information on Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day!  

     If I had to pick what MY unique talent would be, I'd have to say that sharing my love and utter devotion to Iliana with thousands of people every day with creativity, humor and respect.  My passion is now networking with everyone in this industry to make sure everyone succeeds.  We need to lift each other up and I like being a rung on that ladder. It's now my purpose.

Much Junkie love to Chris Dayton who told Lydia I was whining about not being in the blog hop because I love Iliana more than anyone else.  She graciously let me in.  You girls are the best.

Marci