Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What Makes You Happy?

Oh, man. Y'all are awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the comments on my sleepy-time post asking what in papercrafting makes you happy and what does not. A great big thank you to everyone who posted!

The main reason I asked the questions of you was that I've been asking myself. It's important, I think, to reassess what we're doing in life periodically. Are we living the life we want? Are we doing things because we've always done them or because we still want to do them? Where's our joy coming from? Do we need to do something new?

Hobbies are not work. They're supposed to be fun, relaxing, energizing, HAPPY. If they're not all those things, something is wrong, very wrong. Re-evaluating and refocusing can help us out of the doldrums.

I was in the doldrums. I made a simple list of what makes me happy in crafting and what doesn't. Now, there's a stiff breeze of enthusiasm blowing through me (so to speak). Yippee!

So, since I never miss an opportunity to analyze data and make banal fascinating observations, let's reflect on your lists. Today, I'll focus on what makes you happy (because this post got long fast!). My hope is that these observations help you if you're flagging in enthusiasm or just need a jolt of fresh perspective on what we do.

First of all, here's the summary of the top things (with a significant omission explored further on) that make you happy about papercrafting.

  1. Making a card that "looks like the one in my head"
  2. Getting inspired by blogs, nature, anything
  3. Playing, especially with paper but also with any supplies, tools, products
  4. Learning new things (color combos, techniques, etc.)
  5. Growing as a stamper/artist
  6. Having plenty of tools and supplies to play with
  7. Using computers to craft
  8. Finding your own style
  9. Shopping
The first five are, I think, shockingly uncontroversial and focus on the creative process.

Frankly, number 1 surprised me though. It was by far the most cited thing that makes you happy, and yet my creative process is completely different. (I've always known I was's the proof!) I'm going to share it here mainly because anyone who's weird like me might have read all the comments and felt like a weirdo. Well, we are weirdos, but that's okay. Really, it's totally okay!

I almost never have a picture in my head when I sit down to stamp; I feel my way to something that looks like I made it. Obiwan whispers in my ear, "Use the Force, Susan!" For me, the creative process is summed up by number 3: playing. I pick up inspiration from lots of places. Remember that design book I checked out at the library? Heaven above, that was fun! But what inspiration I find (color combo, layout, theme, image, etc.) comes to me in pieces, not a whole.

"Hmm, what can I do with that color combo? It says birthday to me!"

"How would that bag layout translate to a card? I have no idea. Let's find out!"

"So-and-so used glitter in a cool way on that collage card. How can I adapt that to my style?"

And then I play until it works. Or doesn't and ends up in the trash. Whatever happens, it's a surprise to me, and even the failures work to my least I learned something NOT to do!

But whatever our specific creative process might be, we're all just so happy to make pretty stuff, be inspired, play, learn, and grow. If you're struggling in one of these areas, it might be time to challenge yourself.

Items 6, 7, and 8 are more ambivalent. They appeared frequently on people's happy list, but also on people's unhappy list. Some people like computers, some don't. Having lots of tools and supplies to play with makes us happy; having too many makes us unhappy. And shopping. Well, what girl doesn't love to shop? Duh. But lots of unhappiness comes from over-shopping. We are finicky critters, aren't we?

I could write a whole week of posts on finding your own style. For some people, I think it's over-rated and limiting. For others, like myself, it was incredibly liberating. You have my permission to belong to either group. I love you no matter.

Now, the above list focuses on our experience stamping, but a massive overall theme of your happy comments was connection with other people. Here are some of the things that make you happy about connecting with other people through crafting.

  1. Giving away what you made, and having it be appreciated
  2. Showing love to your family and friends in a personalized, special way
  3. Connecting with the awesome papercrafting community online and in person
  4. Crafting with loved ones (especially our kids) or strangers (nursing homes, schools)
  5. Sending and receiving cards
  6. Receiving comments on your work online
  7. Finding generous people online who share their time and talent and product
  8. Supporting the troops through Operation Write Home

I honestly don't think this list is an accident...more of a self-fulfilling prophesy. People who create want to listen and to be heard, to give and to love. People who embrace their creative selves recognize generosity because they are generous, and they embrace community because none of us wants to be alone.

I know only two people in my real life who are at all crafty, neither of whom I see on a regular basis. But all I have to do is turn on my computer and dozens of you are right here with me. I'm right here with you. We're together, sharing this crazy obsession hobby, sharing and encouraging and generally acting like best friends for life.

How could that not make us happy?


  1. I agree with everything on the lists! And what you have said speaks so much to me! I love your posts Susan! Xx

  2. Great post! It's good to know that I am weirdly normal or normally weird, but still lovable. Looking forward to your next post. ;-)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I have come to the conclusion that I have no specific style or approach to my work. Maybe I'd get more done if I developed one, but having no style IS a style, isn't it?

    The list was interesting and there's not much I can quibble about. As I recall, there were a lot of things mentioned on that post that made us UNhappy. Maybe there's a followup post on those even though you touched on some of them already.

  5. what an interesting post! lots of food for thought here.

  6. Thanks so much for the list of themes! really interesting to see it this way.

    Like you, I don't picture cards to myself before I make them. I have a few thoughts of what I want to do - use some colors or shapes together, try a technique or a layout. Then I'm physically moving things around on the card base, adding or subtracting things till it looks like something.

    Thanks again for asking the question.

  7. I can be away forever, and when I stop in again, it's like I've never been gone! I love coming to visit, Susan :) Great post! I'm off to read yesterday's!

  8. Thanks for taking the time to put together this wonderful summary :) Loved reading it and yeah, there is someone else out there who doesn't have a picture of the card in their head as a starting point!!

    I often joke that I have just "one creative gene" as it takes a lot of effort for me to crank out a card. I have grown in that area over the years, but it still isn't a natural thing for me - I know, I'm weird LOL! I love working with my hands, and I love a challenge so card making fulfills both those areas of my life. Plus I love encouraging others so the trio is a happy one :) I can't put a sketch together for the life of me (or very, very rarely and it is usually a morph on one I've seen) so my starting point is a sketch 99.9% of the time (yeah for all of those in blog land who post sketches - I love you!!). Look at the sketch, then find papers, and then find a sentiment that works with the sketch. Works like a charm for me :)

    Very rewarding to see how I've grown as a card maker through learning from others and I wouldn't trade this hobby for the world :)

    I love all my crafty "cyber friends" for as you said, they have huge hearts and it has been nothing but a joy being able to get to know them.

  9. Like you I can take an idea and run with it. I belong to a small group that meets monthly and each month we are required to produce a "challenge" card. From 1 idea the 6 cards look very different. And I hopelessly addicted to Pinterest. So much inspiration there.

    A hobby is, for me, more of a therapy. Something I can do as a creative outlet, to relieve my stress. I give away a lot of what I create, since I can't keep it all. I guess if I could make money, even just a bit more than covering my supplies, I would be a very happy girl. After all money is a necessary evil.

    Thanks for asking this question & sharing your findings.

  10. Could you send Obiwan my way? :0)

  11. Such a great post. THanks so much for sharing it!!

  12. This is a great post, Susan. It is interesting the way we all come to create. Blogs like yours are a fabulous way to connnect. While I am part of a stamp club that meets once a month, I don't have other friends who share my passion for making things/crafting. Thank you for sharing yourself and connecting so many of us.

  13. I was one of the folks that mentioned being happy by having a card come out just like I see it in my head.

    That comment needs a little clarification. It is certainly NOT the way I approach my crafting all the time. Most often a completed card vision comes because I'm attempting to CASE. If I have the exact stamps and papers then having it turn out should be a no brainer right? Mostly...but not always :-). If I think I have something SIMILAR then the joy of completing a card and liking how it turned out is increased. I had to put a little more of my own "creative juices" into it so having it all work makes me happy.

    A lot of the time I have a stamp and maybe a color combo in my head that I think would work to create a card for a friend or for a specific occasion. This takes much more struggle and if I can make it work the FIRST TIME....ahhh...bliss! This rarely happens. If I am lucky I only end up with one attempt in the trash before finding a way to create a pleasing card.

    So that is a more accurate description of having a card come out "like I see it in my head". :-)

  14. Yippee...I'm not the only one...weirdo that is...:)
    I didn't get around to comment on that post, because saying just 'paper' would have sounded, well weird.
    Things happen in my mind when I start with the paper and the theme or occasion, and when the card is made, I'm often surprised. And that is the one joy...sharing it with friends & family is another.

    I also find it fascinating how we can all work with the same material and produce completely different end results.

    Thanks for always being an inspiration.

  15. Your post has made me think about some things I've pondered before and never really worked out for myself.

    The first being that a hobby is supposed to be fun. I was just telling a friend the other day that more often than not I feel like my cardmaking is work and not fun. But, I know I cause a lot of that myself by waiting until I'm short on time and then feeling pressured to get cards done. And I also like detailed cards which take a lot of time if you are making multiples. And I believe the word "weird" was mentioned. LOL! As I've read so many cardmaker's blogs and see how they make cards, I've decided that I am totally weird in my way of doing it. Now I realize that many bloggers are on design teams and they have to make different cards to showcase all the stamps and dies for the companies they represent. And then there's the SU demonstrators who are trying to sell all the SU stuff so they make tons of different cards showing all the products. But, most of the time I am mass producing my cards. If I want to send Christmas cards to friends and family, I decide on one design and make a bunch. I can't bring myself to make all different Christmas cards. It would drive me totally up the wall to then have to decide who will get which card! So, that's the problem I end up with if I decide to send cards for a holiday whether it be Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, etc. Cards for individual events such as birthdays, anniversaries and even sympathy cards are so much easier for me as I can do one card and design it with the recipient and event in mind. I've never participated in any of the challenges that abound on the Internet so I keep thinking that maybe if I jumped in and started making cards for challenges it would change my mind about all the mass producing I do. But, I've never liked to feel like I'm doing what everyone else is doing, so copying a sketch or color combo has never really interested me. I've only CASED one card in my life and I needed a card in a hurry and had just seen one I really liked so I used the idea. It definitely made that one one of the easiest cards I've ever done, but it took away the feeling I have when I create a card on my own from scratch.

    As far as style goes, I like variety in all areas of my life so my cardmaking is no different. All of my cards are different and I'd have a hard time pinpointing my "style". (I just know that it's not "shabby chic" as I can't really get a handle on that one! LOL!) I have really come to enjoy looking at CAS cards more than other styles, but I don't really feel comfortable making and sending CAS cards. How's that for weird? But, my goal for cardmaking in 2013 is to try and conquer the CAS style and make it my own. I want to have fun and not feel that every card is a chore that must be completed.

    It all comes down to the reason I started this hobby of cardmaking in the first place. I have always been a letter writer. I've always loved sending letters and cards to friends and family since childhood. And I've always loved making things. So, when I had to give up my career, it seemed like the perfect fit for a hobby. I think like with many other areas in my life, my perfectionism makes it more difficult than it should be.

  16. Weird is good sometimes, so I'm okay; I get warm fuzzies from your blog; and AMEN, Susan!!!

  17. Susan, my dear, you and Marisa have both hit the nail on the head with me!!
    And I wouldn't trade you or any other blog friend for the world! You guys are definitely the only friends I have and I cherish you all dearly, especially all the sharing we do for each other with our creations and love.
    Hugs to each and every one of you, and to you always, Susan!

  18. Thanks for doing a summary of everything we wrote - it is totally fascinating to see the similarities and the divergences. Like you, I don't have any paper-crafting friends so the connections on-line are so important. This is totally different to my other craft passion - knitting - where I have lots of friends who knit and I'm in a knitting group that gets together regularly. So I don't bother following any on-line knitting sites or blogs! I never actually thought of that difference between my two crafts before!

  19. It's funny you say that you only know a few crafty people in real life because I do as well! ;) I was talking to one of them tonight about how it's hard to talk to non-crafters about WHY we take so much time to make our cards amazing. I'm sharing this post with her because this sums up most of our feelings! Although we didn't talk about I wish we had! ;) HUGS to you, Susan!!!

  20. I'm with you Susan - I don't have any real life crafty friends and I think for me that is why other crafts have come and gone but papercrafting has stayed through blogging and making online friends who don't think I'm weird cos I'd rather stay in and get inky than go out and get drinky ;-)

  21. Bravo. I love your crafting/card-making style but I love your writing style more. It is a joy to read your thoughts.

    Loved this post.

    Thank you.

  22. Oh I do like the list how the positive aspects of making cards is relational. What a lovely bunch of people the crafting community are.
    For me the joy, deep down, is in the doing. I still like cutting and gluing and making.
    Thank you for this post.

  23. agree wholeheartedly. This is wonderful, and I am catching up with the other parts today. P.S. My creative process is similar to yours and what I end up with can be surprising. It was cool to recognize that! Hugs, Audrie


Thank you so much for taking time to comment!