SYW192 – Crafting with Chronic Illness

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Amanda Wilder is passionate about documenting her story and using crafting as self-care. She also copes with chronic illnesses that get in the way of having the physical and mental energy for many of the things she needs and wants to do.

In this episode we explore what Amanda has learned from this experience about her values and priorities. We discuss the strategies she leans on to make her scrapbooking hobby sustainable when pressing pause is part of her story.

Links Mentioned

[00:00:00] Jennifer Wilson: Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a memory keeper today. I’m your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking. This is episode 192. In this episode I'm joined by Amanda Wilder to chat about strategies for staying connected, motivated, and moving forward when chronic illness is part of your creative life.

Before we jump into the episode, I wanted to let you know that registration for the 2023 Planning Party will open next Monday, October 24. The Planning Party is our once-a-year event to help you plan your year, your way. And best of all, it's completely free!

Amanda Wilder is passionate about documenting her story and using crafting as self-care. She also copes with chronic illnesses that get in the way of having the physical and mental energy for many of the things she needs and wants to do.

In this episode we explore what Amanda has learned from this experience about her values and priorities. We discuss the strategies she leans on to make her scrapbooking hobby sustainable when pressing pause is part of her story.

[00:01:19] Jennifer Wilson: Hey, Amanda. Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way.

[00:01:21] Amanda Wilder: Hi Jennifer.

[00:01:23] Jennifer Wilson: I am excited about our conversation today. Can you share a little bit more about yourself with our audience?

[00:01:30] Amanda Wilder: Sure. I am currently living just outside of Denver after having moved 10 times in the last 14 years. Hopefully here to stay a while. I'm an instructional designer. I used to be a teacher at, um, in TSOL at universities. So instructional design was sort of a natural, next step from there. And I used to be an event planner before that, and I was a professional dancer in my twenties, mostly ballet and modern dance before that. So a lot of career changes, but I live with my husband who is a photojournalist by training, and he now works with photos in other ways, but that's very handy to have as a scrapbooker. We live with two senior pugs who are professional snorers, pretty much now. And they are very important in our lives and have been super important to me as someone living with a fatigue and pain based illness. Having them around, has been, uh, emotional support for me. So they're a big part of our family, too.

[00:02:40] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, I bet I did not know that you were an instructional designer. I actually investigated kind of going back to school to, to do more of that in my life.

[00:02:49] Amanda Wilder: No way!

[00:02:50] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.

[00:02:50] Amanda Wilder: That's great. Yeah. lot of people don't really know what it is and it's just any kind of learning experience is usually for better or worse is, is instructional design. So yeah.

[00:03:02] Jennifer Wilson: All the people I asked based on like my interests were like, you should just hire an instructional designer rather than like becoming.

[00:03:10] Amanda Wilder: It's a lot. Yeah. It's a lot if you, well, I had to do a lot of it anyway, because I worked with non-native speakers. You end up designing a lot of your own curriculum anyway. Cause there isn't really the best curriculum really for out there always for, for the specific needs of those learners. So, um, yeah, so I ended up doing a lot of that anyway. So that's been a good fit.

[00:03:32] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. Very interesting. So in terms of your memory keeping hobby, what's exciting you right now?

[00:03:39] Amanda Wilder: I am so excited for seasonal scrapbooking like the October to December hauls. Which I think lot of scrapbookers is like the time. Right? Um, and I'm, you know not moving in a place I'm hopefully gonna be in for a while and I'm feeling more stable than I've been in a long time in terms of health and stuff. So I'm just super excited about doing all of those projects. I'm gonna do in October, I'm not gonna say daily, but I'm gonna do an October album and a thankful album and a December album. And I'm just gonna take all the pictures of the fall leaves and be super basic as heck or whatever because that's honestly just where I'm at right now. Especially after being in LA for five years and not having had a fall for, for that long and being somebody who know, was from the Pacific Northwest who loves fall. I am just super I'm like ready for that documenting.

[00:04:45] Jennifer Wilson: That's so fun. Maybe we need to like, come up with a, like, what is a basic scrapbooker maybe have Brandi Kincaid draw some doodles for us.

[00:04:55] Amanda Wilder: Yeah. like the little, the, the, the woman caricature. Who's the basic, I mean, and I don't even, I kind of make fun of the term basic.

[00:05:03] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, totally.

[00:05:04] Amanda Wilder: It's so, you know, we all know it's so silly, but I really feel like all those things right now, like I wanna wear fall leaves sweatshirts, and like cozy sweaters and have my latte and all those cliche things.

[00:05:18] Jennifer Wilson: Well, I think it's, it's hard this time of year because these months are so packed in together. I feel like I have to kind of restrain myself to what's realistic. And I think we're gonna get into some of that in our conversation too. And we have all these different in our lives. How do we make choices about our hobby?

[00:05:38] Amanda Wilder: Yeah, it's tough for sure. Just don't, just don't make choices. Just whatever.

[00:05:45] Jennifer Wilson: Just do it all. Yes. Okay

[00:05:50] Jennifer Wilson: Amanda, what's on your memory keeping bucket list? So this is a story that you've not yet told, but feels really important to capture.

[00:05:57] Amanda Wilder: Oh, I have so many of these. I was having trouble deciding. I'll tell you two short ones. So one is a letter to my future children, which I wrote when I decided to stop IVF treatments, which were unsuccessful. And I knew that if I had children, they weren't gonna come from me. And so I like wrote this letter to my future children and that kind of makes me cry. Even now when I read it, but I really wanna document it and capture like that moment. And then I wanna do an, like an album or an overview of all the 10 homes my husband and I have lived in since we got married 14 years ago. And like kind of how we made, learned to make a home wherever we were in all different kinds of homes. But the big one on my list is um, when my husband and I were dating, he taught a night photography class. He is, he was working at National Geographic magazine and teaching these night photography classes on the side with a friend. And it was in the early dating, you know, year, months. And, he was teaching the class and he showed me like how to, we went out to near the capitol and it was in December and the Christmas tree was all up and it was very magical and romantic. And he like show, showed me how to set up my tripod and how to do a slow, um, exposure so that you would get like really cool light streaks and stuff. And I took this picture of the Christmas tree in front of the capitol that like had these really cool streaks coming off of the lights of the tree that lit up the capitol. And I posted it to my Flicker, which was the thing back in day.

[00:07:32] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. Yes.

[00:07:33] Amanda Wilder: And I hastagged it for the DCist, which is the little DC local newspaper in DC. And they picked it up and put it on their front page the next morning. And I was just it was the, so it's a whole memory of like dating and like our shared love of photography and getting into that and then having my photo featured. And I've never, I have this incredible photo. I've never documented it.

[00:07:56] Jennifer Wilson: All right, so what year was that?

[00:07:59] Amanda Wilder: 2006, I'm gonna say 2000. It was still in the Bush era.

[00:08:05] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. So.

[00:08:06] Amanda Wilder: I didn't scrapbook then.

[00:08:08] Jennifer Wilson: I lived in DC 2004 to 2008. So I may have seen

[00:08:11] Amanda Wilder: Oh my gosh.

[00:08:12] Jennifer Wilson: Photo, like.

[00:08:13] Amanda Wilder: I didn't even know that.

[00:08:14] Jennifer Wilson: In the vestibule of a restaurant or whereever it was. So

[00:08:18] Amanda Wilder: That is so funny. I didn't even know that. Okay. We have to talk DC sometime. But yeah. Yeah. Oh man. Yeah. I gotta get that documented.

[00:08:26] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah that's a really cool story. And I like how it, that one, you know, the other stories you mentioned maybe were a little bit more, um, like expansive. Like a lot of layers and meaning and depth. But this is like very specific, like, this is one story that you could sit down and, and just do, cuz it has a, more of a box around it.

[00:08:48] Amanda Wilder: Yeah. Yeah. It'd be one layout.

[00:08:51] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. It's, that's fun. I love it. All right. So I wanted to have you on the show to talk about the ebb and flow of creativity. And then of course, we all have different reasons why we go through that. Um, and you've already shared a little bit that you deal with chronic health issues, and we actually even had to reschedule our conversation because you were not feeling up to recording the first time.

[00:09:10] Jennifer Wilson: So it's, it's a very real part of your life. Can you a little deeper into how, um, scrapbooking and other creative pursuits are part of your life?

[00:09:23] Amanda Wilder: It's a big, big part of my life. I consider, you know, creativity, making art, whatever category you wanna put it in. Is part of health, um, mostly mental health, but also physical health. It's just as important to me as, as those other things. Um, and when I found it, it was like the perfect trifecta or quad-fecta whatever the word would be. Because, you know, I'm a variety seeker and there aren't a lot of things that keep my attention or keep my sort of endorphins, you know, up for a long enough time to really be into it. But things that have like infinite possibilities and iterations tend to be what I'm drawn to. And so, you know, if you look at scrapbooking, uh, can be like four types of infinite iteration types of things. You know, you have photography and you have writing and you have graphic design and then you have art illustration, mixed media, whatever. And each of those have so many different aspects that you could dive into in so many, basically infinite different ways. And there's not really a limit. So when you combine them, there's always something new to try, something new to learn. And so for my personality type, that's very good. And aside from reading, I would say it's like one of the few things, um, that is really, I just, don't have to work at all to be excited about it. And I it's been, you know, almost it's been over nine years of on and off. And, um, you know, I've done all the things. Project Life, December Daily was really what sucked me in, I, I, um, had done a scrapbook that my aunt and my mom kind of collaborated to get me for Christmas when my aunt was working at Archivers. It was a Simple Stories album. And I had no idea about any, anything in this world. And I got the Simple Stories album, and I was like, this is really fun. Like, what else is in this world? And . And I went to visit my aunt where she was working at an Archivers when I was visiting my family in Denver. And she was like, oh, are you doing a December Daily? And I was like, what's a December Daily. She was like, oh, you have to go look up Ali Edwards. And she wrote Ali Edwards name down on a piece of paper that I still have today.

[00:11:58] Jennifer Wilson: Ooh. I love that.

[00:12:00] Amanda Wilder: And I went and I looked her up. It was, I think it was 2013, the end of, or the end of 2012. And I think it was the end of 2013 when she was collaborating with Studio Calico kit. I bought the kit, I got the class. I was like, what is this digital, what is the Silhouette? What is she doing? I wanna know everything about all of this. And I was just obsessed. I could barely even focus on teaching the end of the semester because I was so like obsessed.

[00:12:30] Jennifer Wilson: Was that the year where everybody was like having their mind blown that there was yellow in the kit.

[00:12:36] Amanda Wilder: Oh, I don't know. It was the year of like the chipboard album that she painted the cover of.

[00:12:41] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, Okay. Okay

[00:12:42] Amanda Wilder: That's the main thing that I like distinguishing factor. And like her day one was like this overlay on top of her house. It was like a digital overlay, which is so simple. But at the time it like blew my mind. I was like, what is this thing, and how do you do it?

[00:12:58] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah

[00:12:58] Amanda Wilder: It was.

[00:12:59] Jennifer Wilson: How is magic made?

[00:13:00] Amanda Wilder: This is so visually awesome. And you're telling the story of your life. Like I wanna know everything. And I was just totally, that was my gateway drug. And I was completely hooked and, you know, done everything, Project Life and Travelers notebook, and traditional and mixed media, mini albums like, oh, I just like it all.

[00:13:21] Jennifer Wilson: I. I, love this point that you made about being and understanding and maybe honoring yourself as a variety seeker and embracing that part and knowing that, that's why this whole hobby and its expansiveness can, can suit you so well. I think oftentimes we're beating ourselves up because we can't just focus on one thing or why can't we just keep, why do we always want something different? And some of us have those personalities, we like trying new things and we like variety and that, that's very satisfying. Um, and I think society tells us no that's bad, but really it's, what's keeping you going, as you said, that's what keeps you connected to the hobby is that you have an endless array of possibilities.

[00:14:03] Amanda Wilder: Yeah, there's a term. God, I wish I could think of it right now. It's on a Ted Talk. It's um, like, oh, multipotentialite.

[00:14:11] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm

[00:14:12] I don't know if you've seen that one, but it's a great one to look up. And if you are who kind of has a lot of different jobs or a lot of different backgrounds, and they talk about how some people one thing and they dig into. And that's great, but we also need people who pull from lots of different areas and sort of connect different ideas. And that that's also important. So if you feel bad about it, that's a good thing to look. It's also called hummingbird personality types sometimes, but.

[00:14:41] Jennifer Wilson: I've also heard like multi passionate.

[00:14:44] Amanda Wilder: Yeah,

[00:14:45] Jennifer Wilson: As well, so yeah.

[00:14:47] It's very validating to find that it's like a thing and others, others are like this it's valuable, you know? It's like, oh yeah.

[00:14:54] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. And how can we, how can we leverage this as a strength than, uh, trying to force ourselves into a that we don't wanna fit into?

[00:15:03] Amanda Wilder: Yes. And other people's voices in our heads. Yeah.

[00:15:07] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. So what types of projects are you working on in September 2022? You know, it's, it's pre it's not October yet. So even though you're thinking about these other projects, what are you actually working on right now?

[00:15:20] Amanda Wilder: I I'm finishing up my little summer joy album. I led a little, um, project that was started by, um, Julie. Forgetting her last name right now, but, um, in 2016 and there's a project that I just really loved because I don't like summer that much. So the challenge of finding little joys during summer is really great for me.

[00:15:38] Amanda Wilder: So we had a little Zoom hangout last weekend I got a lot of what I need to finish up the project together. So, doing that, and then, I've recently gotten into a style of, more like a creative journal, um, that, um, it's a little bit woo. I kind of just it's it's I was inspired by Quinn Bouley, mindful hookup. She does like kind of a creative journaling on this thing she calls morning magic. But I do a lot of really sterile things in the medical world. So I think I'm sort of drawn to things that are the opposite of that sometimes. And so I've been doing a little bit of like drawing a tarot card for, a journaling prompt. And like practical magic through Everyday Explorers. I think she still sells them. Where it's not necessarily like literal, but it's a way to like kind of touch into your intuition in a different way. And, and we're not encouraged to do that that much in regular life. That's very important for me. So kind of journaling about that and my yoga practices. And um, like if I'm reading a quote book or doing, I do, um, ACT therapy, so I have an ACT journal, which is super helpful to me. And there's like quotes from that. So I'm just doing some washi tape and some stamps and then getting kind of capturing pieces from all these things that are kind of, um, meaningful and reflective has been really fun for me. Cause I've always done a lot of reflection, but I don't always capture it creatively. Um so I haven't I kind of have it shared on a secret Instagram.

[00:17:21] Amanda Wilder: But if I, if I get confident enough, maybe I'll, I'll share it officially, but.

[00:17:27] Jennifer Wilson: How, how, what is the experience? How is it different for you, um, doing these types of projects versus, you know, thinking back to when you've done Project Life, for example?

[00:17:38] Amanda Wilder: Mm.

[00:17:38] Jennifer Wilson: How's the experience feel and what's, what's it doing for you?

[00:17:44] Amanda Wilder: Um, well, it's always nice to try something new. Again because of the, the variety. But I think it's a, of course it's a little more free and I've, I've always wanted to do like a commonplace book or something like that, but I have a, a big internal life, um, again with I'm an E N F P on Myers Briggs, if that means anything.

[00:18:04] Amanda Wilder: I have, um, you know, I, especially since getting sick, I have a lot of, um, I read a lot and I have a lot of reflections. And so I feel like instead of just sort of having them and then letting them go after that day, I can sort of go back to them and sort of have them nourish me when I need to. From that, that book. And then also it's just fun to see it. Um, now I feel like I need to show you. But it's fun to see it like with the date and the it's, it's just a, you know, like, um, I do a lot of Ali Edwards type of documenting when I do like a Project Life, which is very like graphic design photojournalism, sort of a style. This is much more like boho like, you know, kind of relaxed and flowy. And I think it, that is good for me. Like to kind of lean into that a little bit. I don't know if that answers your question or makes any sense, but.

[00:19:07] Jennifer Wilson: I'm curious if, is it good for you, because it helps you like kind of combat perfectionism? What, why is it, like like is something else?

[00:19:17] Amanda Wilder: I think it's more like the academic part of me is always sort of at odds with the more, spiritual for lack of a better word and like intuitive side of me. But that is a big part of me. And so I'm always trying to figure out healthy ways to have that be a part of my life that feel authentic, that don't feel, you know, not true to who I, who I am. And, um, or, you know, like a lot of the, in the wellness world, there's a lot of BS, honestly. Like, and in the yoga world, in terms of like this, if you just drink enough green juice, this will cure you. Or if you just think positively enough or whatever. So I really moved away from all that. I got so tired of that when I was really sick and traveling all over the country and trying everything, you know, under the sun.

[00:20:07] Amanda Wilder: And so I think it's, it's helping me come back to that part of myself in a way that feels not icky. If that makes sense. Cause.

[00:20:18] Jennifer Wilson: I you wanna feel like, um, you wanna feel grounded and aligned with your values while still, um, using your, uh, intellectual strengths to, decipher what's real from, what's not real, I guess.

[00:20:37] Amanda Wilder: Right. Yeah. It's like, I wanna be able to sort of still believe that the world is magical in a way, and that I have this intuitive side of myself, that's sort of magical in a sense. But that, you know, I'm also, you know, gone to grad school and that can be very like on that spectrum of things so that both those, those can exist in my documenting and my creative expression.

[00:21:05] Jennifer Wilson: I mean, that's probably one of the hardest things that we all have to do is to like getting those dichotomies to coexist together and like accepting them living side by side, even though they sometimes are opposing. So that's.

[00:21:20] Amanda Wilder: Well in memory keeping and art in general is great for kind of testing. Like I'm sort of testing this, like is doing a tarot card maybe, is that a thing for me? Like, can I do this? It's sort of like, I'm not telling anyone, but , but is this like something that helps me and I'm gonna just kind of document how it's going and see, and then maybe I end up saying, nah, like that's too, whatever for me. But it's like in the creative space you can play with it to learn more and more about who you are.

[00:21:52] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. Yes. So, um, would you be willing to share more into some of the personal barriers you have, um, that, that prevent you from having all the time, energy and motivation that you'd like to have for being a creative?

[00:22:05] Amanda Wilder: Sure. Um, yeah, for me, it's just, it's really just energy. Um, motivation is almost never an issue for me when it comes to this kind of stuff. And you know, people say time is the most valuable resource, but anybody with an illness like me would probably argue that it's energy. Because without energy, you know, all the time in the world, isn't that, isn't that helpful.

[00:22:31] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.

[00:22:33] Amanda Wilder: So that's my main trouble. I've been diagnosed with several chronic illnesses and have several that are several things that are undiagnosable at this point and kind of a mystery. And they're mostly fatigue and pain based, illnesses. And I have, extreme sensitivities to basic things like lighting, temperature, chemicals, different foods.

[00:23:01] Amanda Wilder: I can't drink caffeine or any alcohol without like a week's long breakdown. I had my thyroid removed years ago after struggling to not have to have it removed. I've had, um, really scary life threatening thyrotoxic events. And so I finally had it ablated through radioactive iodine. So have to manage through replacement hormones and that's not really a perfect system. So a lot of times I'll become hypothyroid cuz it's not absorbing well. And the testing on it is not great. So it's like a month behind, what's actually happening in your body. So that's fun.

[00:23:41] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah

[00:23:42] Amanda Wilder: You know, you can't just like test today and it'll be like perfectly matching what your symptoms are. And then I've been diagnosed with hypermobility based fibromyalgia. I have all different people who have different opinions about what fibromyalgia actually is. But there's definitely a disconnect between my brain and like sensations in my body being interpreted as pain. And then sometimes I, everything is fine, but I just, the fatigue is so overwhelming and I don't, I just don't know why, like my thyroid seems fine. My, you know, whatever. And it's like, anything I do will seem to make it worse. Like if I, you know, just take a walk that can make me more tired for several days. And so that's extremely frustrating for somebody who likes to be really active and has a million projects always on deck and things like that.

[00:24:42] Jennifer Wilson: So I'm curious what kind of conversations you're having with yourself when, like your body's telling you, you have to step back, but your motivation like is continuing to be there. Your brain is going, oh, I wanna do this and this, but physically, you can't.

[00:24:57] It was a lot harder for me, like the first oh seven to ten years, maybe of being sick. I had always been very active, obviously it was professional dancer and I always had multiple things going on in a pretty big social life. And I was used to achieving, you know, sort of classical definitions of success. And, of course all that changed the more I couldn't do normal things and scrapbooking is hard because when you have something where you have to press pause because time keeps moving forward.

[00:25:33] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.

[00:25:33] Amanda Wilder: Scrapbooking is, especially the types of daily life scrapbooking that a lot of us like to do. It's it's time based and time just keeps moving forward. But over time I have learned so much that I'm grateful for. I'm not saying I'm grateful for, for being sick at all. I would trade it in for almost any, anything else that I have. Um, but I would say if you let it, being sick teaches you to love yourself and to have true self-compassion. And I feel like I'm finally in a place where I'm okay with what I can do. And some of that is years of learning to manage this and better learning of what helps and what doesn't. And, a lot of it is still a total mystery. Maybe will infinitely be so, but I've learned lot about how to manage. So I have more confidence that I can come back. It's less of like, I don't know if I'm ever gonna feel better, which is how I, definitely felt at different periods. And I've learned to spend more energy on accepting and being okay with what I can do. And don't judge myself by, by others' lives or the voices of expectation of others in my head. And just accepting that I will be misunderstood. You know, people won't understand why I, I have energy one day and not the next day or, or why, know, all kinds, there's all kinds of things that people just won't understand. And I know because, even when I feel better, I forget even the day before how bad it was, until I feel it again. Like it's really hard to accept like how bad it is when I'm in it, when I'm out of it. And I'm wanting to think it's never gonna happen again. So for, so I know that people haven't experienced it, can't possibly understand it and I expect them of them. And I can't align myself with those expectations. And I think it gives you, I heard this quote in a meditation I was doing this morning where they said the artistry of the mundane. And I think that's partly what I've learned to do is, appreciate things and details that I might not otherwise. It was the infinite artistry of the mundane and that was like that, that's what I do. Because, you know, like I can photograph my, some people will say, oh, my life is always the same. So how, you know, what do I document? And I never feel that way, even when I'm in bed every day. Because I think I could photograph my morning tea. I take a lot of Chinese herbs. And I could photograph my morning tea in 20 different angles and document all the different thoughts that I'm having while I'm drinking my morning tea, or there's so much texture to on my bed. I was noticing this morning, like we have some new comforters and the way that they looked like in the light. And I was thinking like, you could write, uh, like sort of a poem about texture and why textures and color and all that is important to have, like in our homes. And then I thought, you know, when I read a book there, like one line in a book, I could have so many thoughts and ideas about that, and I could document that. And so, I think if you can accept and lean into the artistry of the mundane and that there is infinite beauty in those little things, then you always have something to document. And you don't have to feel like, oh, I'm not going to bunch of beautiful places and traveling all over and going to parties and looking beautiful. And what, like, that's the only way to document, you know, you can lean into what you have.

[00:29:33] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. And I think that, um, how do I wanna say this, that your, the way you've been forced to slow down has allowed you to, to see things with more intention in a way that maybe others can't. Because they don't, they're not being forced to slow down. Like we can force ourselves, but we don't, you know, not everyone elects to do that. And you know, and it's, I guess perhaps another one of those, um, celebrations even amidst the, the challenge.

[00:30:09] Amanda Wilder: Mm-hmm yeah, yeah. And it's not like, oh, yay. I feel terrible today. Like, I'm totally mad about it when feel terrible. But I, it also memory keeping in terms of it being something that I love so much is important because I have something to look forward to. And that's also why I keep getting new supplies, even when I can never use them as fast as I collect them. All these things. Because it, it really helps me believe and imagine like, okay, in a few days I'm gonna be doing something really fun. And I can look at my craft supplies and, and feel reassured like I'm gonna be back there soon. And so ha having something to look forward to is really important as well, when you're getting through a bad day, or a bad week, or month, whatever.

[00:31:01] Jennifer Wilson: So I'm curious, what is it that really kind of pulls you back in? Or do you have any like strategies that you use? Like what's the first thing you work on? Is it grabbing something fun or managing your photos? Like what, how do you wade your way back in? If you've had to step away for a period.

[00:31:20] Amanda Wilder: Um, it's not hard for me. I'm, I'm usually just so happy.

[00:31:24] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm

[00:31:25] Amanda Wilder: Anytime I have energy to, to scrapbook, I'm like in my little spot and I'm so happy. But you know, sometimes it can look like, like some drunk person like robbed my house while I was gone. If I've been like out of it completely nonfunctional for a week. And so a lot of it, the, the frustration is the first part of my time with energy is I have to do some triage and some reconnaissance. I dunno, like sort of get things back to a baseline. So I have to do a lot of like cleaning up and admin and like basic tasks. And so it's always tricky for me to say, and I don't know if I'm gonna feel, you know, I don't, I don't wanna overdo it when I first, you know, am feeling better after feeling worse. So I feel like the hardest part is being like, okay, well I have to do some other things in my life, but I have to force myself to step away from those other things that have been backing up and make sure that I get some creative time. Even though those things are backed up. And I think feels like that to an extent like, right, we can all easily make excuses for why we, or just, you know, accidentally spend all our time doing the dishes and getting through daily life and not, you know, know, making time for that. So I think when I've, when I've been away and it's like, oh, there's so many, so much laundry I need to do. And that kind, so that's one thing. Um, but I'm of like, so happy just to be able to do laundry or drive a car safely or go to the library. I just feel so lucky. And so, um, I don't really have to push myself to get back in or, or to organize and leave breadcrumbs for myself. Breadcrumb Scrapbooker is a term I learned from Kristin Tweedale but I don't know if she, I think she started it. I don't know. It really, I just like, I was like, yes, that's what I am, because I'm an input person.

[00:33:29] Amanda Wilder: Like I'm really. And this fits well with, with scrapbooking too. I like to collect all the things. I like to organize all the things. I like to archive. I like to have organizational systems. And so in a way that serves me, you know, sometimes there's not enough time or energy to do it, but I'm pretty good about like, I keep lists of projects and ideas on my phone, just in Good Notes. I don't have a very fancy, organization system. I have aspirations to that, but, um, but I do keep a constant list of ideas. And then I keep my ephemera. I save a lot of ephemera. I keep that very organized. And then I have like stadium organizers, like one just for my Project Life and one for Travelers notebooks. And, you know, that has at least all the basics that I need for those projects. So I can just put that near my desk and I'll have, know, I can kind of just, just go and I'm, I can, editing photos is something I can kind of do when I'm sick. Depending on if I can look at screens or not. I enjoy editing photos.

[00:34:38] Amanda Wilder: So I would say that's the hardest thing to sort of keep up on. So I create collections in Lightroom. And that really helps me just feel like, okay, I know what my, photos are. I can easily go grab them and print them. And all those systems, I think, um, just kind of make it easy when I get that enthusiasm and I'm feeling well. And it it's just like, okay, put this on my desk and, and jump back in. Um, I started doing daily pages with Kristen last winter, I think, and that also really helped me. And it doesn't have to be daily pages, but any stupid thing you can do, daily. That's like put a piece of washi tape on your page one day and then like draw the next day or whatever, like any stupid thing. It just sort of keeps you that sense that you know, where things are on your desk, you are capable of sitting down at your desk and making something. You know, the little things that get in the way, like where are those, where, where is my heat tool? Where, where are those special scissors that I want? you kind of just like, if you can just do one little thing almost every day, just sit down at your desk, even if it's, doesn't have to be anything special or amazing. But that actually is incredibly valuable cuz it keeps you in the flow of your own workflow and knowing where things are.

[00:36:08] Jennifer Wilson: That's an excellent point. Yeah. I'm curious if these, the systems that you've created are these, do these come out of needing them or have you always been a planner and organizer? Always taking the information and, and trying to, to get it corralled.

[00:36:27] I think I've always been an organizer. I'm a maximalist in terms of what I have. But I never have everything available to me. I'm always limiting what's actually available to me at any given moment. And that's how I think I can live in the best of both worlds. You know, it's like I have my own sort of scrapbook shop that I live with after collecting for nine years.

[00:36:53] But I never have that much on my desk or in my Project Life stadium or whatever. And I think that's something I kind of had to learn. Like I would sort of, I used to just sort of be like, okay, what am I gonna grab from my entire stash today. You know, to work with and, just kind of making, not even kits, but just sort of like a mini craft room and kind of have everything else, somewhat out of reach, really helps not be overwhelmed. But yeah, I've always liked, I, I, I read container store magazines for fun when I was a kid and.

[00:37:32] Jennifer Wilson: Same. Totally. Yes,

[00:37:34] Amanda Wilder: dork I had a planner, I loved my, I loved my school planner so much and, I'm not, but I, I tend to have like too many ideas, too much going on in my brain. And so having external organization tends to be really helpful.

[00:37:50] Jennifer Wilson: For sure. So I'm curious as you've evolved with all of your dabbling and, and pursuit of variety in your hobby, have you had to like restrain yourself in other ways with different projects, so that you feel less behind. Knowing that you're not gonna be able to keep up with, with all the, the, the daily documenting you'd like to do.

[00:38:16] Amanda Wilder: Hmm. Yeah, I just stopped believing in behind at some point. And this, this not aligned with my personality in a way. And I get the people who say like, I could never not finish an album. It would drive me, it's like, it would haunt my, my nightmares or whatever. Like if they don't finish something, like I used to kind of be like that.

[00:38:41] Amanda Wilder: But, I, most of my Project Life a series of pocket pages. They are not every week. Just whatever pages I made that year, I put them all together. And that's not my ideal, but I have decided to be happy. That I can make any, any of those pages that I make, they make me so happy. When I look back at them.

[00:39:08] Amanda Wilder: And it doesn't matter. It's like you wouldn't do that with quote, unquote, traditional scrapbooking, which is just scrapbooking. I don't know why we call it traditional, but, um, you know, you wouldn't, if you just make a traditional page, it doesn't have to go into a series or something, right. It might just be one event or one something. And I don't know why we, well, I don't know. I mean, you know, it's, we don't now a lot of people are like no rules now. Right. You know, that's the, it's much better than it used to be in terms of that. And you've done a lot to, to promote that, I know. But that's what I kind of say for myself is like, there's no rules and whatever I do is, is great. And also, I have an unrealistic belief that that's not finished, I can someday go back and finish. And maybe that's just how I have to be at, at peace with it.

[00:39:59] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:40:00] Amanda Wilder: Even though it probably will never happen. Uh, but I, you know, I feel like slowly my health, I kind of learn more about my health and that sort of gets better and better.

[00:40:10] Amanda Wilder: And so I just, you know, kind of accept pages as pages. And then sometimes like, in 2019, I did a really simple December Daily, that was fairly digital. I think with, Liz Tamanaha's digitals mostly. And I did it in a three by eight. And I just did like one, three by eight column every day, or like two, two, you know, a two page spread of that at the most.

[00:40:43] Amanda Wilder: I did it mostly digitally with like one or two pieces. And I love, I did, I filled two albums that way. And I love that album so much. And, or those two albums and I didn't go anywhere. I was doing IVF. I couldn't travel. I was stuck in LA where I hardly knew anybody. Like it wasn't like the best Christmas in the world. Um, my mom did visit, which was really nice. But, you know, it was, it was so simple, but, I don't think I ever would've tried that if I weren't like miserable doing IVF and I was like, I'm not gonna give this up completely, but I'm gonna find a way to do it. So, you know, maybe doing something in a totally, you know, an easier style, isn't what I'm drawn to. But, you know, I, I found joy in, doing it that way still.

[00:41:32] Jennifer Wilson: Well, I think sometimes we have to like challenge our own beliefs about like what we like to do. Like I was, I was very adamantly. I do not put stickers or anything decorative in my planner. I'm planning my so I can get work done. And then during the pandemic, like everything crumbled around me and I'm okay, take me back to being seven years old. Give me all the stickers. And now I really like it. Like, you know, sometimes we need something in order to, to get through. And sometimes it's releasing that belief you have on yourself. Like I don't use stickers. So.

[00:42:11] Amanda Wilder: Totally. Oh my gosh. my friends know, I have such a issue with stickers that I try to get over all the time. That I say just the word sticker, I think makes people think that it's like juvenile or something. But it's art on just that just happens to be on paper that sticks.

[00:42:28] Jennifer Wilson: Adhesive. Yeah.

[00:42:28] Amanda Wilder: And like, once I got past that, I was like, it's just like stamping or anything else. Like, it's so fun, but anyway. But yeah, it's like, you can, you can shift around. It, nobody should feel like they have to do what they always did. Or if you, you can strongly disagree with your former self. That's okay.

[00:42:49] Jennifer Wilson: So, I mean, on that note, you recently became a Close To My Heart consultant. And so I'm curious, like what, what led to this decision?

[00:42:57] Amanda Wilder: It's so, different then anything I've done. But I think, you know, Beth Ann had asked me to do something with her creative team in 2020, and it was just, we had to leave our apartment. It was all that. So I couldn't do it at that time, but, you know, I sort of was, followed her for a long time.

[00:43:23] Amanda Wilder: And of course, Heba always shares the inks and she's a good friend. And, and I've used the inks for a long time. So I was looking back through old messages, somehow I came across Beth Ann's old messages, and I started to look into, Close to My Heart. And, you know, like I had mentioned in my short, somewhat awkward little post, video post, about it. Was that, you know, in certain ways, it really aligns with the sort of challenges that I have.

[00:43:55] Amanda Wilder: And aside from that, I wanna learn more about doing traditional, whatever you wanna call it 12 by 12 layouts. Cuz I haven't done that a whole lot. But partly what, this will sound weird because they seem like opposites, but partly what drew to me to it was my experience so far being an Ali Edwards brand ambassador. I think it was a, her doing that was a really creative way to, regroup that, you know, move away from creative teams. And I like the freedom that it has. I always said I would never do a creative team. Partly cuz of my illness and partly cuz I don't wanna be limited to like you have to use this product, this month, even if you don't like it or whatever.

[00:44:41] Jennifer Wilson: And by this deadline,

[00:44:42] Amanda Wilder: And by this deadline, yeah. So that, was like the only time I've ever considered doing anything like that. But I love the industry so much and I've always thought like, is there some way I could work more or have like some sort of a challenge, I guess that's more serious, within the industry. Like a creative team, but that would fit for me. And that has been such a good fit for me. And you know, I, I love, her brand and her products of course like, like hundreds of thousands of people, it seems like. So this, that gave me a, a taste of something that would actually work for me, with my limitations.

[00:45:25] Amanda Wilder: And so thank you for, to Ali Edwards for being so inclusive and finding a way to have people of all different walks of life to be able to participate in the brand. I think that's very cool. And then, so when I looked at Close To My Heart, it was sort of a similar thing. You know, I mean, it's, it's sales in the same way, but it's, you're completely your own business. Pretty much, but they provide the product of course, but there's no one telling you, you have to use this or that product. So I can highlight the things that I really like. And I can not use the things that I really don't like. If I have a really high energy week, I can do a whole bunch of things.

[00:46:05] Amanda Wilder: If I have a low energy I, can, you know, not. It's just, it's, it's totally, the experience is totally customizable for me. And I don't know if it'll ever really be a business for me, but it's a way that I can try to challenge myself to share things that I'm, I'm excited about and challenge myself to learn new things and share what I'm learning with other people. So that's the first part. The second really was how they provide these step by step instructions for a lot of their kits. And I know for experienced scrapbookers that might not sound appealing. But as a teacher, I know an instructional designer I know that copying exactly is a very important part of learning. And I feel like that's something that's often completely missing in the scrapbooking world. It's like, take this and make it your own and there's nothing that's like, here are the exact things and do exactly what I do. But that is not only an important part of learning, but it's an important part of the creative process because when you do something completely, that's not what you would do, you can riff off of that. You can get new ideas by doing that first. That you might have never that you would get by doing that. And so, that was really appealing to me. And I felt like I tried a couple of them and I was like doing it on days that I would call medium days. Like, not the days when I completely couldn't do anything, but like a day where I didn't feel that good, but I was kind of making myself do it anyway, cuz I wanted to feel good that I like done something. And I could follow the steps and they give you the exact measurements. They give you every piece of paper. They tell you exactly where to put it. The only thing they don't do for you is the, the journaling and your photo, which of course always going to be yours. And then I did that and then I had an idea for my Traveler's notebook, you know, for my little summer joys based on that.

[00:48:09] Amanda Wilder: And the layout was something I would've never, ever done, like on my own, but I had the satisfaction of like, I, I made a layout today, a 12 by 12 layout. Which I don't even know that well. And. I got to put that in my album. And then I got new ideas from it. And I said, this is good for people who are tired for people who are, are sick for people who just want to make something.

[00:48:34] Amanda Wilder: And it's always gonna be partly your own cuz it's your photo and your story still. It's still gonna be your own, but it gives you that extra help. And I have dived into the products and I'm trying to get to know them, better. So I can be informed about the different products and I've had so much fun exploring everything that they have. I've been surprised, and as somebody who a self diagnosed stamp addict, I have been really impressed with, they have stamps for, you know, everything under the sun. Such cute things that I had never, ever seen before. It's just opening me up to like card making. More 12, I think I've made like 15, 12 by 12 layouts in my life, maybe before this. And now I'm feeling so much more confident that I can do that. And I'm getting, you know, learning to make cards for the first time. And I get to share what I really like. I've discovered shimmer brushes.

[00:49:44] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, what are those?

[00:49:45] Amanda Wilder: For them. Oh my gosh. They are like the most pigmented brush pens I've ever seen. And I have a lot. But they're actually shimmery, like not sparkles, not glitter, but shimmery. Like they actually shimmer on the page. But they're like super pigmented, shimmery, medium size brushes.

[00:50:11] Amanda Wilder: Um I ordered a couple and then I ordered a bunch more, because I was like, what the heck is this? So just, just, it's fun for me to do. And that's not something that they're like highlighting this month. It's not something specific to the current catalog. It's just something I like. And so I've been doing, I did a giveaway for it and I've been sharing it. it's just, it's nice to be able to, share with people who get it. And, be a part of the industry and be a part of the community in my own way.

[00:50:43] Jennifer Wilson: I love that. I love how you've kind of found a new avenue of excitement. And you can integrate this into all the other things that you've tried. You know, it's, it's, yeah, I'm really happy for you. I think the way, the way I, cause I watched your video before, I even asked you to be on the podcast and, it was just so, uh, genuine, I think. And I could tell that you were really ready for this shift.

[00:51:15] Amanda Wilder: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, and I think the other thing I said in that video, you just reminded me. And what I'm always trying to do is, um, I don't wanna say be a, be a disruptor, but know, whatever the next level down from that is. I think, you know, I think we've done a good job in the past 10 years or so of shifting the scrapbook world. And especially in the last couple years, I would say to be much more inclusive. Um, but I think there's, you know, there's always still a lot of work do. And there aren't a lot of companies that, um, make things really accessible for people with chronic illness or have a focus on that type of learning. And there are a lot of companies who still their primary marketing shows kids in the suburbs or.

[00:52:13] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:52:13] Amanda Wilder: Things like that, which is, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I hope that I have kids in the suburbs soon. But, um, it, you know, in order to be inclusive, we have to show more stories and I feel like. I'm, I'm certainly not the best, representative of that. But I have lived in a lot of cities and big cities and, um, that were very diverse and cosmopolitan. And my, my friend group tends to be, you know, from all over the country and I don't have kids and I live with chronic illness. And so I use the really cutesy ones that they show with baby pictures, with my dogs. You know, cuz I wanna use cutesy scrapbook paper. So then I just, if I am in that mood, then I'll use it with my dogs and I wanna say, Hey, if you don't have kids, it's totally okay to use this cutesy scrapbooking paper with your dog or your mug or you know, like your flowers, like whatever wanna use it with, if that's your life's, if your life is not in that place.

[00:53:17] Amanda Wilder: And I feel like it's important to, kind of push that. So I feel like I can push maybe the norm little bit from most of the makers on Close To My Heart.

[00:53:31] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. I, I totally agree with that. And I think it's, it's an important step and I think just further kind of, uh, solidifies all the reasons that you have to, to take this new direction.

[00:53:43] Amanda Wilder: Yeah.

[00:53:44] Jennifer Wilson: Well, I will include all of the links of things that you've mentioned, including even the, the woo-woo stuff from, in the beginning.

[00:53:52] Amanda Wilder: Okay. Yeah.

[00:53:53] Jennifer Wilson: But can you share where we can find you online? Anything we can expect from you, towards the end of this year.

[00:54:00] Amanda Wilder: Yeah. So I'm Wilder Stories is my main, just personal scrapbooking Instagram, I've had forever. @wilderstories and then Amanda Wilder Close To My Heart. Which is actually just CTMH AmandaWilderCTMH is my Close To My Heart account. And then my website is And you can find some old podcast episodes from my podcast, The Everyday Artist, which was about just, you know, the importance of art every day, especially in tough circumstances. Not currently active, but there's, um, a handful of old episodes on there. So you can find that too. I think that's oh, and I'm I think I'm awilderphotowalks is just my photo, regular person, Instagram. Because you know you can't combine your regular person Instagram with your scrapbooking Instagram. You have to have a separate, you know.

[00:55:01] Jennifer Wilson: I've lost track of how many accounts that I have.

[00:55:04] Amanda Wilder: Oh my gosh, same. Right. Okay. I'm glad. I'm not the only one. That's why I can't remember. Yeah. Wilder photo walks is just photography based. Um, Lots of places. And upcoming, so I'm gonna be leading with a group of brand ambassadors, Done By December. I'm gonna be, helping to lead that challenge where I think it was started by Jess Forster.

[00:55:29] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:55:30] A couple years ago. And it's just the idea of taking any albums that are not done and finishing those. So I can't remember all the there's like six or seven other brand ambassadors who are gonna be helping to encourage us all, to it's motivate us all to try to finish an album that's not finished yet. And I'm gonna be working on last year since I was moving and didn't really get to do it. And I'm gonna be in the Product Play class, which I'm totally excited about. That's Ali Edwards, December Daily, a class that sort of goes along with it. You don't need to have the products. You probably already have products that you can use if you've been scrapbooking for any number of years at all. But it, the way they're doing it is really cool this year. With 10 different products shown at different levels, which I love. So there's level one, which, and level one is not better than level three. It's just level, level one is like, if you just want to use it in a really easy, simple way that doesn't take a lot of work. It's basically time based. And then up to level three would be one that might take like an hour do the whole, page. So. I'm doing a level three with transparencies. When I first got it, I didn't, I said is level three transparencies is even a thing. So, but I came up with an idea. I'm gonna be making a mini album, highlighting some of my favorite Christmas books. So, yeah, so that'll be fun. I think it's on discount right now. Uh, maybe through the end of the month, if you sign up. I can't remember.

[00:57:06] Jennifer Wilson: Definitely a level three.

[00:57:08] Amanda Wilder: Yeah, , I'm hoping, I'm like, how can I make this like a level three item?

[00:57:14] Jennifer Wilson: Well, I, I really like how having the different levels, reminds you that, I think there's sometimes pressure that everything in your album needs to be a level three. Like every number, every page to be like this like creative masterpiece. And no, sometimes could just be like a photo with some words on it.

[00:57:35] Amanda Wilder: No, I think it's brilliant. It's like, because it's, it was starting to feel like that was the pressure that, or the feeling you got from the, the, the examples. Was always like this amazing thing that you're like, that's so cool. But like, I can't do that.

[00:57:50] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.

[00:57:51] Amanda Wilder: On every page, so yeah, I think it's a wonderful way. And I'm so excited there's, Ali's doing it. And then almost all the brand ambassadors are doing it and it's such a cool group of people. So I'm really excited to see what everyone makes. And then on the, Close To My Heart side I'm gonna be doing, my God, I think I'm gonna be doing a YouTube, which is kind of crazy. I said, I would never do it, but in one way or another, I'm gonna be doing process videos called, Copy and create. um, where I do the exact copy. Oh, Copy And Change. I'm going to do exactly the layouts from Close To My Heart, following their steps exactly. And then I'm gonna use that as a springboard to create something in one of my ongoing projects, either my October album or my Project Life or my, you know, whatever, something. I'm gonna use it as like a launching pad to create for ideas to create a page somewhere

[00:58:50] Jennifer Wilson: That's really fun. I love that idea of like, almost like a warmup activity too. Like to really remind your brain. This is how we Scrapbook.

[00:58:58] Amanda Wilder: Yes. And on my, like, I might record the copy one. I'm calling it the copy one. It's just the following the directions from Close To My Heart one. On a day when I have less energy. And then do the other one on a day when I have more energy. And I hope to share that and hopefully maybe give, give some ideas and inspo there. Then I'm gonna be doing some, a personality type series. I'm a big Myers Briggs nerd, and I'm gonna be doing some, a whole series of like how to approach, where to start. You know, how to, how to kind of how your brain might work in different ways as you scrapbook, depending on, your personality type, using examples from Close To My Heart. And I know that you've done a lot of, exploration with this as well in your community and books and whatnot. And I think it's a really fun subject that I'm passionate about. So, yeah, different learning types, different personalities, just really going deeper into that.

[00:59:59] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. Yeah, no, that sounds fun. I'm excited. You know, even though you're stretching yourself by doing You Tube, I think it's gonna be awesome. So.

[01:00:07] Amanda Wilder: My gosh. Yeah. Like I'm afraid to even say it. I'm like, maybe I'll just do Vimeo first and like release some one at a time, so no one can see it. I don't know. But yeah, I think, well, I did a, I did a process video cause I was a guest storyteller for Ali Edwards Story kit recently. And that was my first process video ever. And I was kind of like, it was the least professional process video probably ever in, in the history of Ali Edwards. But gave me this feeling of like, oh, like I could do this. You know, like this isn't, this isn't so bad. But I kind of had to be forced into it. And then I was like, oh, this is not as hard as I imagined it would be. So I'm, I'm excited to work on that and hopefully provide something that, um, is enjoyable for people.

[01:00:59] Jennifer Wilson: It'll get easier with time. So, yeah.

[01:01:02] Amanda Wilder: I hope so. I hope so. Well, you've been such an inspiration to me over the years, and I know you've done so much to contribute to the scrapbooking community and to break stereotypes. And, you know, rules and all that about, about scrapbooking. So I definitely appreciate your contribution and it's really fun to be able to, talk to you and, you know, follow what's going on in the community.

[01:01:26] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, well, thank you, Amanda. This has been such a lovely conversation. I'm so glad we could spend time together

[01:01:33] Amanda Wilder: Me too.

[01:01:34] Jennifer Wilson: And to all of our listeners, please remember that you have permission to Scrapbook Your Way.

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  1. Carrie Buzzoni

    Jennifer, you are a delight! Your interview talent continues to impress me even 192 episodes into the pod. To me, your giggle is the most charming sound in each episode because it sounds as though you are enjoying the conversation as much as the rest of us. So keep smiling and bringing joy. Thank you!

  2. Deborah Riske

    Thank you so much for having Amanda on your podcast!! I also have chronic illnesses. I admin a Facebook group of (mostly) women who also have chronic illnesses that effect how we are able to be creative. I have shared this podcast there so that others can utilize this resource. I appreciate being able to bring another voice into the support we offer there. Thank you again!!


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