International travel has been one of the PERKS of my job from the very beginning! I really do love to travel! I am lucky because I can sleep pretty much anywhere, and my curiosity and sense of adventure can usually overcome any level of jetlag! Sunday I just returned from a 10 day “TOUR” of Singapore and Australia to celebrate “National Craft Month” for Spotlight Stores! For those of you not living ‘down under’… Spotlight is a large craft and home furnishing store that has over 100 stores throughout Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia. The stores are pretty awesome really… TONS of crafty supplies, fabric, “Manchester” (which we call sheets and bedding), window coverings, balloons, and everything else you can imagine! I don’t even know what I would compare it to…closest would be a Hobby Lobby, but maybe if it was combined with a Bed, Bath and Beyond! They carry a WIDE range of stuff!
Both Amy Tangerine and myself were invited to tour several different cities and make appearances at select stores, and do some fun make & takes and demos! It’s a crazy amount of travel in a very short amount of time! But it’s SO much fun!
My tour started out in Singapore… I have wanted to visit Singapore for YEARS since one of my cousins has lived there, but then this summer one of my friends moved to Singapore RIGHT next door to my cousin! Well, I knew that I HAD to go visit! It’s a bit of a jaunt… I flew from here to Tokyo, and onto Singapore and landed in the middle of the night. I had heard that Singapore was spectacularly beautiful, but I was still completely amazed at how clean and nice it is there! I really only had 2 days to squeeze it all in, but the highlights included a “tree top” hike and “food stealing monkeys” (check) as well as delicious food and amazing shopping! (check, check!).
Saturday morning I took a taxi to the shopping mall where the Spotlight is located, and I found my way to the 5th floor of the mall. I wasn’t sure what kind of a turn out we would have there, as I had never been there, so I was totally surprised when a group of scrapbookers were already there waiting for me! We had just a small set of tables set up for our make & take, so everyone had to take turns, and we rotated through the large group using a close by coffee shop as overflow! I was DELIGHTED to meet so many Singaporean crafters! They told me how much they love to watch my videos, and they were SO enthusiastic! It made me so happy! I can’t wait to go back there and actually teach classes! The make & take is just not enough!
After an all-night flight, I landed in Sydney where I met up with Kim Jeffress, the only Aussie on my Media Team… and we spent the day enjoying Manly beach (gorgeous), and allowing my body to adjust to yet another major time change! This was actually the only time me and Amy would cross paths, just as she was leaving! I was spoiled with accommodations right on the coast with breathtaking views of the ocean. We visited 2 stores in Sydney, and I was so happy to meet up with familiar faces, as well as meeting new friends as well!
Next stop on the tour was the Spotlight HQ, in Melbourne. We had 2 full days, 4 different stops on our route, and it was here that major parties were had in all stores! Momentum really picked up as we laughed and caught up with people that I have only know via social media and also some who have attended most ALL the classes I have offered in Australia over the years, as well as ONLINE classes!
The connection is strong despite the distance! It’s just amazing… Each store would create such happy gathering places in preparation for our arrival – complete with balloons and tables squished in between the aisles of the paper crafting section!
In each store we squeezed into group shots as well as taking the time to visit individually with everyone and share stories, and memories!
The next city was brand new to me – and in the most Southern tip of the country, off on the island of Tasmania: Hobart! I have wanted to visit Hobart for so long, and I was thrilled that I had the chance! This was one of my most favorite store visits… it was a very small store, and a much more mellow pace and vibe than the rest…I arrived to just a couple of women, and we sat chatting about what we loved about memory crafting, and slowing more and more and more people arrived until we had great group!
The store staff kept trying to gather up more and more chairs… but soon it was standing room only! There we all shared stories, and laughed about favorite memories we are grateful we have kept! I was amazed at how these women had taken so many of my online classes, and I realized that we were actually very connected even though I had never been there before! It was so humbling to me, and I just continually felt so grateful for that ability that I have to teach ONLINE and share via virtual classrooms and videos!
The last stop on the Tour was up to the north, and the sunny and WARM Gold Coast and Brisbane. This has to be my favorite city to visit! Not only because it’s so beautiful and so beachy… there are so many special friends to me that I love getting the chance to catch up with! The last 2 days were spent in the Ashmore store in the Gold Coast – SUCH a great group of women that gathered there! And 2 stops in Bris… and again I felt so grateful to be surrounded by such wonderful people!
In each stop, some had travelled great distances to be there – some were coming to meet me for the first time, and some had seen every video that I have ever shared! Some were very (very) young… lots of sweet little crafty kiddos who love to scrapbook right along with mom, and watching videos and collecting “ Heidi Swapp” pretty stuff ! Some were much older than me, in a different stage of life, keeping up with the HOT trends and techniques! and still many who are busy Mum’s juggling kids, families, work, school and every other demand we are all familiar with! And the thing that connected every single face that I met and smiled with, was that shared LOVE of capturing memories!
I love that there is not a “right” or “wrong” way to document…
I love that no matter where you live, what your age is… and what you DO… we all have precious memories to preserve.
I love that the options to “scrapbook” are great! You can be quick and effective using Project Life… and you can be creative and enjoy HOURS of art and making that is both fulfilling and rewarding if that is what you choose!
But that no matter how you choose to put your memories onto paper, they are THERE to remember. To enjoy… and to draw from forever!
As I toured around, I felt compelled to share my feelings and personal experiences and how they relate to documenting LIFE… I truly believe that our stories, our experiences are God’s way of teaching us. Through our stories we can connect, we can show love and we can access the deeper memories that are the foundations of precious relationships and valuable experiences. I probably sound like a broken record – but I always say that I am SO grateful for every minute I have invested into documenting my life, and the lives of my children. They are so precious to me! And they only get better with age……. it’s SO worth it!
I want to thank EVERYONE who was involved in the logistics, planning, preparation, facilitation and execution of this tour! It was seriously awesome! TO all the hands that prepared the over 4,000 make&takes that were distributed to each store: THANK YOU!! TO those of you who made the effort to come and visit with me: THANK YOU!! And of course I have to thank Brian – who I jokingly refer to as my ‘body guard’… he personally escorted both Amy, myself and Kim to every store – he made sure we were fed, watched over and arrived to the right place on time! He is a delight to travel with and a true gentleman – we all love and appreciate his tireless efforts! (his job is NOT easy! ) I also want to express my deep gratitude to AMERICAN CRAFTS! In the short year that I have been a part of the amazing, and growing organization, we have made a LOT happen! And it’s been an honor and privilege to work with the tremendous, creative individuals who work very hard! THANK YOU…
This time of the year is tricky for me to be away from my family- I was so happy to make it home safe, and sound! I am deeply grateful to my sweet husband for holding things together- it’s a juggling act to manage the 5 kids and all their activities! I am thankful to great friends and family who always lend an extra hand of support when I am away- I am thankful to my kids for their understanding of my responsibilities and acknowledge my efforts- even though they miss me when I am gone! (which is a good thing too!)
I hope to see you all again someday!! Until then… and as always:
Make pretty stuff!