Monday, April 14, 2008
I am home, unpacked, and feeling very blessed today. INSPIRED was really one of the best weekends of my life and I’m so thankful that I was able to participate as a teacher. Donna, Bill, and all of their friends, family, and volunteers did an amazing job with this event. Lots of personal touches like handmade handbooks and canvas nametags. You knew you were attending something really special, yet it had such an intimate feel, not at all pretentious. There is so much to say, so I thought I’d attempt a little diary of my adventure and post it here. My only regret is that I didn’t have much time at all to take photos, so I’ll post some photo and blog links at the end of this post.
Wednesday, April 8th – My plane arrived in Charlotte about 10 pm and I went to baggage claim, where I met Cathy Z, Ali Edwards, her friend Paolo. and her sister Jessica. Donna picked up me and Cathy and we went to Donna’s house, where we got to see her gorgeous scrapbook room. It’s just one of those places you could just stand and stare forever. We also met Tango, her sweet rescue dog, but he didn’t want to have much to do with us. He sure is cute, though! Back to the hotel, we checked in and I collapsed in my room. It was a little difficult between the excitement and my body still being on central time.
Thursday, April 9th - Went down to breakfast and met my friend, Teresa Wilkins. She surprised me by registering for INSPIRED so she could be my teaching assistant for my classes! (That meant so much to me and I can’t even tell you how much she helped me.) We had breakfast, headed over to the registration table, then spent the next several hours on the floor in my classroom, cutting apart the cedar edging for my classes. ( I hadn’t shared the details of my project before INSPIRED, but the base of the banner was a 6-panel length of cedar lawn/garden edging) C.D. Muckosky came in the room and hung out with us for a while.
She is so cute and creative! I stayed at the registration table all afternoon with Bill and Donna so I could meet students as they arrived. That was lots of fun! Each person was given a beautiful green bag for the weekend that included the handmade books and canvas nametags and a few little extra goodies. Donna had necklaces made for all of the teachers (mine is pictured above) and had more for sale at the event. They were all designed by Lisa Leonard. I absolutely love mine! Donna and Bill's kids were at the hotel on Thursday with their grandparents, so I got to meet all of them. They are precious and so well-mannered. I brought them some pool toys for the hotel since I knew they'd be swimming and they loved them. (someone has a photo of us, but I don't remember who took it, lol) Spent the rest of Thursday meeting students, doing last minute class preparations, and attending our welcome dinner. I peeked in on several of the mini-workshops going on and had a few minutes to sit with Renee Pearson, Cathy Z and Donna as they signed books. Cathy is just as funny in person as you think she’d be. Renee is warm and friendly and just made me want to sit with her for hours. I tried to go to bed early, but I was just giddy from the excitement of the day and the anticipation of my classes starting the next morning.
Friday and Saturday – I’m combining these days since they were both very similar for me in that I had three 3-hour classes each day. The highlight of all of the classes for me was seeing how each person made the project her own. I told each class they were not allowed to copy my project exactly as is – and they didn’t.
I knew this was a group of people who expected to be challenged and inspired this weekend and they were full of creative ideas and ready to try new things.
All of the class offerings were so different this weekend that I think everyone came away with new ideas, no matter your personal style.
It was especially fun to see the Simple Scrapbooks table with Renee P., Cathy Z., and Wendy Smedley all working on the project, getting their hands dirty and glitter in their fingernails.
And Ali….I sure hope she posts her interpretation of my project on her blog. She wrote out Simon’s bedtime prayer on cards to go across the edging and had glittered stars on wires on the top of the banner.
And Cynthia….she painted hers black and covered it with catalog photos from Anthropologie. All of the different ideas were overwhelming! A huge thank you to the students who brought me gifts and cards. They were very much appreciated. :)
I tried to keep the class in a relaxing working mode with some fun tunes. Like my fancy table? Had a little singing and dancing going on at times, too. :)
If you liked the music, here is the imix I created for the event. You can purchase any or all of the songs.
And silly me…..I forgot to take photos of all of the soldered charms and little canvases I made to give as door prizes before they were gone. Teresa took some for me and if you won any of these prizes, send me a photo! (here are 4 of the canvases)
Donna and Bill went around to the last classes of the day to give out big door prizes and to give flowers to each student and teacher. Donna stood in front of my class and we both cried as she told me I just “got it” and understood from the beginning what she wanted this weekend to be. Boo-Hoo! I love that woman. We all met one last time in the ballroom where a raffle was held for the door sign canvases each teacher made. $1200 was raised for Autism Speaks…wow! (here is the banner I made for my class - it stood in the hallway on an easel. And yes, it has lights!)
Then we all headed outside to take a crazy huge group photo. (that will be up on Donna’s blog soon) I spent the remaining evening hours visiting, shopping, and wishing it wasn’t about to end. I felt like I had made 200+ new friends. And my day ended standing next to Heather Bailey as she taught me how to make fabric yo-yo’s with her edible new Fresh Cut fabrics, most of which I brought home with me. Heather is beautiful…and so sweet and down to earth. I didn’t want to go to bed that night, but the 5:00 a.m. wake up call for the airport shuttle was looming. Off to hug Donna and Bill one last time before heading upstairs and promising Donna I’d be back next year.
I’m tired… but oh so blessed, inspired, thankful, and ready to do it all again!
Bill and Donna...you DID it. And it was amazing.
EDIT: Donna is selling the extra INSPIRED aprons, camera bags, necklaces and class kits. Here is a link to the shop and here is a link to purchase my class kit. Hurry, they will all go super fast!
Here are some photo and blog links. (I’ll add more as I see them, so check back)
Cathy Zielske's INSPIRED blog post
Donna Downey's INSPIRED Video blog entry
Amy's Flickr photos (in gorgeous detail!)
Teresa Wilkins’ blog
Rebecca Gawryl's blog (with FLIP video!)