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Ye Grand Ol' CKU Recap.

Wow.

And I probably need to say that again.

Wow.

I will try to do this recap justice, but my head is still kind of spinning.  I don’t even know where to start. And I got in so late both Friday and Saturday nights, I just flopped down and didn’t come write. But I want to recap before this seeps out of my brain forever.

This CKU was groundbreaking in at least two ways: Firstly, it was a combination of the Album and class-based CKUs, so each participant had one full day of classes and one album track. For my part (the other groundbreaking thing), we had 4 Scrapbook Alchemy classes, with nearly 150 people total. Imagine, if you will, a room full of scrapbookers bringing in their laptops, setting them up, turning them on, and taking a huge risk on learning something entirely new (and, frankly, kind of scary). They could have chosen another class. But they picked this one instead. This was the first hybrid class that has EVER been done at CKU (or, for that matter, at any large-scale event that I know of).

Thanks to Them 

It was Friday morning. 7:00 a.m. I was taping cords down to ensure we had enough power in the room, and hooking up my own equipment at the front. In walk the three ladies who would be my saving grace this weekend:

  • Ana Cabrera (who actually just sort of happened in on my class - not having classes of her own this weekend) - she lent a huge amount of expertise, and not to mention about 12 hours total in my hotel room getting layouts printed. She is totally and utterly AMAZING. A single mom. A former executive chef. A freelance writer. A designer for Purple Cows. And she literally just showed up in my life at the exact moment I needed her, and stayed on to see this adventure through. She totally rocks.
  • Molly Schneider - whom I have met through this blog and through the digital scrapbooking community. She is an all-digital scrapbooker who volunteered to be a TA at CKU this weekend, and not only lent us her laptop for one person in each of the classes who would have otherwise gone without , but gave us two full days of her time, her great and warm and cheerful companionship, and EVEN drove us down to Greektown in Detroit for a GREAT meal at Pegasus. What a lady. THIS is what scrapbooking is about. Not only the creative preservation of our memories, telling the stories of our lives, but also meeting incredible like-minded people who are instant friends.
  • Wendy McKeehan - my good friend, who chats me all the time, and whom I haven’t seen in real life in nearly a year, drove up from Chicago just to help out with this weekend’s classes. She cheerfully helped everyone who had questions during the class, expertly saved layouts from laptops to portable drives, and after the class, struggled with hooking up printers and printing nearly 250 12x12 layouts. And she came knowing what she was in for. Now that is real friendship. She is amazing.

I’m left with this sense of great debt to these ladies. And of undying gratitude, because this weekend would not have been pulled off without them (imagine rushing from person to person during 6 hours of classes, troubleshooting and answering questions, saving layouts from laptops onto little thumb drives, hauling three large-format printers up to the 6th floor of the Hyatt, perching one on the desk, one on the nightstand, and one on the floor, hooking them each up to a laptop, and proceeding to spend the next 7 hours printing). These friends are,  as friends so often are, what get you through the rough patches. There aren’t even any words to thank them for their efforts.

Here are a very few of the photos I have: 

Make and take day, with my technology setup (see, Epson can be assured that their co-sponsoring didn’t go unnoticed. :D)

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More of the display.

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Hard at work on the make-and-take. We saw about 500 people on Thursday, and they each created a hybrid 6x6 album page (the printing was already done for them.) I had a GREAT TA at this event as well, Staci, who kept things running smoothly!

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 My first class is about to begin! ACK! Hi beta-testers!

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Later that day, in the hotel room… Wendy (left) and Ana (right) discover new things about printing, and we all discover new things about ourselves and each other. These guys rock.

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Molly helps get her laptop set up with a printer on the desk. And Amanda Osborne dropped by to help alphabetize the printed pages. How cool was that? I don’t even know her name. :P

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Here’s another of Molly and I (thank you, Molly for having the presence of mind to get a photo taken!)

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I have more photos, especially from the opening night, which I’ll get to and put up. Also, Candice promised that she’d loan me some of the photos from my class to post here - they were so cool to see in the CKU slideshow (and of course they are lots better than the single photo I have…). So I’m looking forward to that.  For now, though, I am regretting that I didn’t get a great photo of the three ladies who hung out w/me in the hotel room. In my defense, I was a little distracted. ;)

Getting off the Ground 

As for the classes themselves.  They were so cool. It is SO COOL to see people bringing computers to CKU. You already know that my computer is my favorite scrapbook tool, whether it ends up as a paper or digi page. It was an almost overwhelming experience to see these 150 ladies take the risk to learn something totally new, and frankly, VERY intimidating. I admit that I got a little choked up a few times during class as I was talking. It was amazing. We were hot.

I learned a LOT this weekend. About teaching classes that involve computers (which is WAY different than any class I’ve ever taught before). About the behind-the-scenes organizing. About how to move a class along without losing anybody (and hence, about the integral and crucial importance of great TA’s). About NOT using my hotel room as a printing lab. ;) About the best way to go about getting 250 pages back to people afterward. That I need a new laptop. That I have friends and co-workers I can lean on in times of stress and trouble. That I can do scary things and it’s ok. It was a learning experience for everyone, but no one more than me.

On Thursday night as part of our opening ceremony, Ali stood and said something significant: “This event will be life-changing if you let it.” And she was right. In the larger scheme - the friendships and the groups, the silliness and laughter and dancing, the learning atmosphere, and the sheer power of everyone having prepped and worked to take this entire weekend away from family and responsibility to come do something to nurture themselves - was amazing.

It was exhausting. It was stressful. It was exhilarating. I would go back again tomorrow and do it some more, even with all the behind-the-scenes stress and trouble. But I would want to take a nap first. :P

Someone at dinner last night asked me how it went, and I said, You know that old footage you see of the really early airplanes, just taking off from the ground? Those planes were crappy and rickety, and probably should not even have been able to fly. But they did, whether through sheer force of will, dumb luck, great planning, a forgiving day from gravity, or maybe a combination of all these. That’s how it feels. Nearly 150 people made scrapbook pages in Photoshop this weekend and went home with them, and that is an accomplishment. Our plane might be rickety, and we have a ton of learning to do about how to make this work better, but we are off the ground. We made it work. And that feels really good.

Thanks to You 

And now, I need to thank you for your kind well-wishes. Your comments and emails give me courage. And help me see that fear is the friend who’s misunderstood. It helps to be at the edge of your mental seat (and I must admit that after 4 days of it, it also helps to go take a long quiet bath, which is what I’m going to do right now).

We will be teaching these classes at three more CKUs this year. And there are plans to continue with the hybrid plan next year as well. That is amazing.

The best part? With all of this backstory?

Meeting SO MANY people. Wow. I love scrappers. They get it in a way that is just so cool. I need to come up with some better adjectives here. Because amazing, awesome, and cool are a little worn thin by the end of this post. :P

This has been one of the significant experiences I’ve had in years. It was (for serious sleepiness and lack of better words) so cool

-J 

New CK Online column, Great reads, mentors and friends, and home.

I caved.

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