Last weekend I travelled to Arizona for the Creative Escape event. I'd never been before and I went alone but for 3 days I was surrounded by over 600 of the most amazing, inspiring and creative women I've had the pleasure to meet - I was truly fortunate. Over the course of the last few months many of us had been chatting on the Yahoo Group message board so it felt like I was meeting with old friends - in fact there were only 3 others there that I'd actually met before!
It was a busy and thoroughly exhausting 3 days - who'd have realised that scrapbooking and papercrafting could be this exhausting - seriously?! (I'd had all good intentions of hanging out with like-minded friends at the bar each night but even a good cocktail couldn't lure me from my bed come 10.30pm!)
I arrived on Wednesday night and was met at the airport by the wonderful Christa (who I'd not previously met) who promptly whisked me off to a Mexican restaurant for dinner with another 15 women (who'd I'd never met - catching the trend here?!)
Thursday morning was some down time and for me a mad dash around the local stores making the most of the American stores I'd been missing in Canada - then Thursday afternoon the event proper got going. The 'Technique Boutique' where we got goodies and prepared and perfected some items and techniques we'd be needing in class. Running alongside was the 'Trunk Show' where each of the 8 teachers showcased their work and some samples of our class projects (up until now the class projects had been closely guarded secrets - we only ever knew the teachers and could only speculate based on their style!) Rounding off Thursday evening was the opening ceremony and welcome, a party and raffle organised for the members of the Yahoo Group, then some of us scooted off to a nearby Macaroni Grill for supper.
Friday and Saturday were classes. At 8am classes started. Each class was 1hr 45mins long - 2 before lunch and 2 after, finishing off the day at 5pm. From the moment I woke at 6am for the yummy buffet breakfast at 6.30ish, rushing to class, a packed lunch eaten on the go, yet more classes then a sit down dinner at 6pm, followed by additional evening activities it was constant. By Saturday morning I was positively bleary eyed - and not due to a few too many bevvies - more's the pity!
Saturday night was the closing dinner and key note speaker. It all started with dessert. Yes - with 600-odd women in the house it is apparently tradition at the event to start dinner with dessert and the more chocolatety the better! Then they raffled off about a dozen lamps (originally bought at Ikea for $15) that were decorated and altered by each of the teachers past and present. 2 of them were reserved for a little extra special treatement; lamps designed by Heidi Swapp and Tim Holtz (2 of the industries more well known 'celebrities') were to be auctioned off for charity. (all in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) Heidi's was up first - and the bidding crept up and up, each time all of us squealing a little more - it reached $8,200!! - An insane amount of money for an Ikea lamp - purdy that it was! But there was to be more insanity in the room. Tim's lamp bidding opened at $500, went straight to $5,000, then jumped to $16,000 - all in 3 bids! OMG. We all watched dumbfounded as the hammer went down at $29,000 - for an Ikea lamp!!! It was such an exciting moment but someone's husband is going to be freaking out I would've thought?! Over $45,000 in total was raised for the charity during the event through raffle tickets and the auction.
The event was held at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass resort which was absolutely gorgeous. It had the most amazing pool and landscaped grounds and excellent facilities for our classess - but the place was HUGE - it took 15 minutes to walk from our hotel room to the conference area and with 120 degrees outside most people didn't venture out too much! I manged a little stroll most mornings when it still had that lovely hot-yet-freshness about it!
I loved being at the event - this was it's 4th year and I'd heard so many great things about it - all true! The event is full of such great people, everyone has been so giving and generous - with their time, efforts in organising things, sending each other gifts, providing prizes for the raffle - the list could go on... It was an event where we shared our passion for creating and recording life in artistic and meaningful ways. The teachers (Heidi Swapp, Tim Holtz, Heather Bailey, Lynette Carroll, Debby Schuh, Marah Johnson, Carol Wingert, Paula Cheney & Debbie Crouse) and class projects which had been created especially for Creative Escape and were all amazing - not all to my style but I think that's the point. It forces you to look outside your box and embrace other styles and techniques - and there's certainly a stack of ideas that I will be trying again and again.
But the biggest thing I've taken from this event is friendships. The people that I met, that I 'hung out' with - these are what made my trip so special and unforgettable - thank you Linda, Angela, Florence, Carol, Janet, Patti, Stacy, Renee, Gail, Kate, Faye and not forgetting everyone's favourite Scrap Hero Dave!