School Photos. 3 Reasons we LOVE them!

Today’s blog post comes from our beloved friend, Stacy Julian! Stacy is a recognized leader in the scrapbooking industry. She is the founding editor of Simple Scrapbooks magazine and the visionary founder of Big Picture Scrapbooking. After getting her initial start into the papercrafting world through Close To My Heart, Stacy is coming “home” to combine her ideas and training into a product line that will launch with Close To My Heart in 2018! We could not be more thrilled about this partnership!

We love Stacy for her liberating philosophy and simple step-by-step thematic approach that unlocks a person’s creativity and helps them easily create stories out of life’s special moments.

school photos #ctmh #closetomyheart #schoolpohotos #backtoschool #chalkboard #firstday

Photo Tip: Sit kids down on the front steps or on a bench. This allows you to get ALL of them and still move in closer with your lens.

One of my FAVORITE things to do is scroll through Instagram beginning in late August through the 2nd week of September. Why? Pictures like this one. I know I’m not the only one who loves these because I see them posted from all corners of the globe. And, whether you’ve got the cute “Pinterest” sign or not, school pics are an almost universal way to celebrate life and the passage of time. As a scrapbooker, I’m what you call “way behind” in my efforts to officially and consistently document school-related memories, but as a mom, I dutifully take these photos and I treasure them. This, by the way, is the first step to successful documentation—so I passed that test, phew!

Today, I want to share THREE reasons why we love school photos so much. I’m also going to share some tips for taking them and keeping track of them.

ONE. Fresh Starts.

New clothes, new shoes, new lunch boxes and a shiny, new year full of possibilities. Kids like NEW and Moms like the chance to start fresh…

First day of school pictures are particularly FUN because kids tend to be all polished up and looking their best. They might have a new haircut, or a new backpack and they definitely feel a new and palpable sense of excitement for new teachers, new friends, new adventures and maybe even new subjects.

School Photos #ctmh #closetomyheart #schoolphotos

Photo Tip: Don’t let the weather or other unexpected circumstances get you down. This is real life we’re documenting, after all! Rain and overcast skies result in fantastic light for photo-taking!

School Photos #ctmh #closetomyheart #schoolphotos #naturalpose

Photo Tip: Look for interesting shadows or reflections and capture a few of the details that your child is most excited about! In this case, new VANS!

TWO. Marked Progression.

For me, the start of a new school year is also the chance to STOP and take notice of who my kids are and how they are growing and becoming. Each school year is a milestone of progression and personality that lends structure to the joy (and task) of looking back. I’m not sure when exactly my focus changed from anticipation of all the new milestones that lay ahead for my young family to a feeling of almost dread that those same milestones were moving by at an ever alarming rate. But, now as I look primarily back on my children’s childhoods, I’m SUPER grateful that I have these kinds of photos. AND … I’m super ok, that these photos are not perfect. We often have unrealistic expectations for rituals like back-to-school and we feel discouraged if and when we forget to take a specific photo or find our efforts lacking in some other way. Trust me. I am now an older (and wiser) mom, and I’m telling you … it does not matter! You will be grateful for any and all of the photos you have.

Note: To illustrate growth and progression, simply compare and contrast photos side by side. Look for photos taken a few years a part (or ten) to show what has changed and what has stayed the same! Here is my son, Taft. Getting off the Kindergarten bus (2007) and pulling out of the driveway (2017) on his first day of 10th grade. Time marches on, but the photos allow me push the pause button from time to time!

Before you know it, there’s a fourth-grade girl looking back at her first-grade self. Ack!!

THREE. Easy Connections.

Even as it evolves, school is one of those things that stays pretty much the same over the years. For this reason, school photos can help you illustrate great stories. I enjoy looking for opportunities to draw connections between children and the everyday realities of school.

Note: Here’s my oldest attempting to open his high school locker for the first time and my third posing in front of this middle-school locker on dress up day. And …

school photos #ctmh #closetomyheart #stacyjulian #schoolphotos #lockerswithfriends #schoollockers

Photo Tip: Half the photography battle is getting over yourself and your own embarrassment. If you want the photo, ask for it. I’ve found that kids now expect me to be there and to be taking pictures. They get used to it!

… my youngest, who got up extra early this year, so he could meet his friends and they could all be first in line to get lockers next to each other. What a clever way to make sure you run into your friends in the hall.

 

School, like life is in the details. Look for the little, everyday things that don’t feel particularly special that are a part of the bigger, “school life” story.

My final and best tip is to spend a little time each week with your digital photos. Create a “school” tag or keyword and add that to a few of your best photos each year. You don’t have to be perfect with this, before you are richly rewarded. When I searched for school photos I was able to pull up (almost) all of the images I’ve shared in this post. I LOVE that!

school photos #ctmh #closetomyheart #schoolphotos #math #everydaymoments

Photo Tip: Use the silent feature on your phone camera. They didn’t even know I took this!

Note: As I was finishing up this post, my son was at the kitchen table helping his friend with math. Don’t forget that life is constantly unfolding all around us and school-related photos happen all year, so the VERY best thing you can do is simply train yourself to be aware of the “nothing special here” moments and recognize an opportunity to freeze time!

Happy home-working and picture-taking to one and all!

 

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DIY Mini Album Ideas featuring Some Kinda Wonderful

We love seeing just how much spunk and charm the Some Kinda Wonderful collection adds to every project that we use it on. Today we’ve got a duo of fun and fresh mini albums that feature this collection.

The first mini album follows a simple formula: sheets of cardstock and Some Kinda Wonderful paper that we’ve cut down and then folded in half. After decorating our pages, it was a simple matter of stitching it down the center to hold the whole thing together. Page through the album to see how great the stickers and black glitter shapes from the Some Kinda Wonderful Complements work as titles and decorations. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a cameo appearance by our April Stamp of the Month!

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Our second mini album looks a little fancier, but it was just as simple to make—maybe even simpler! We cut the pages using our Cricut® Artbooking collection, which has all the shapes you need to create a coordinated mini album. The pages even come with the holes cut into them, making it easy to bind them together with ribbon.

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These mini-album ideas are easy to replicate using any paper collection, but there are only a few days left to get the Some Kinda Wonderful collection! Head to Closetomyheart.com or talk to your Close To My Heart Consultant to get this great collection before it’s gone!

Recipes:

#Happy 2017 Mini Album

My Acrylix® Flock Together Stamp Set (S1704), Some Kinda Wonderful Paper Packet (X7217B), White Daisy Cardstock (1385), Lemon Cardstock (X5785), Raspberry Exclusive Inks™ Stamp Pad (Z2812), Archival Black Exclusive Inks™ Stamp Pad (Z3271,) Some Kinda Wonderful Complements (X7217C), Black and White Dots (Z3314), White Twine (Z3216), Watercolor Paints (Z3132), Paintbrush Set (Z3188), 1″ Circle Punch (Z1999), Marvy® Uchida® LePen™ Journaling Pen (Z1979)

Friends Mini Album

Some Kinda Wonderful Paper Packet (X7217B), Some Kinda Wonderful Complements (X7217C), Black and White Dots (Z3314), Black & Gold Ribbon (Z3197), Cricut® Artbooking Collection (Z3169)

Cricut Cuts
Artbooking
6 ½” Photo Mat-1 <3> (cut 12, p. 40)

From Jeanette: Thank You

Close To My Heart Consultants are a special bunch. I’ve always felt that this company attracts a special type of person, and this has been proven to me time and time again.

Last month we held our annual incentive trips for our North American and Australasian Consultants. Consultants who earn these trips are among the most dedicated and the hardest working Consultants in the company. This year’s trip rewarded our Australasian Consultants with a trip to Tahiti, while our North Americans went to the RIU Palace Pacifico hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I heard from many of the trip attendees that both destinations were spectacular and that each made for a wonderful incentive trip. I wish I could have attended with them!

Monica, who attended the Puerto Vallarta trip, came back to the office afterward with a lovely surprise—the incentive trip earners had gone in on a gift for me:

 

This exquisite bracelet was a generous gift from some very dear friends of mine. It is a gift that I will treasure. I certainly didn’t expect anything like it—after all, the incentive trip is my opportunity to express my appreciation for these hard-working Consultants, not vice-versa! But the gift served as a reminder of the caring, loyal, wonderful people that make the Close To My Heart community so unique.

To all who contributed to this gift, thank you for being so thoughtful and kind. To all of you incentive trip earners, thank you for striving for greatness; I hope you’re all working hard toward next year’s fabulous trips—our North American Consultants will be heading for Thailand, while our Australasians are taking a Mediterranean cruise; both trips are sure to be amazing!

To all of you Close To My Heart Consultants out there, thank you for the work you put into your business and for helping me to build up my dream. Finally, to everyone who is part of the Close To My Heart community, thank you for sharing in this passion of mine. I hope that you each find it to be as rewarding and fulfilling as I do.

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Valentine’s Day Ideas for School

Valentine’s Day holds a special place in our hearts because it’s a celebration of card-giving and gift-giving—two of our favorite things! Combine that with loads of sugary sweets, and we’re in heaven! 🙂

Since we love both sweets AND all things paper, we’ve whipped up a few fun ideas for your kids’ school valentines that combine the two—and of course, we’ve also got a cute gift idea for school teachers as well! For these Valentine’s projects, we turned to our treat-themed Sugar Rush papers and embellishments.

Kids emoji Valentine's Day cards for their school class #diy #handmade #cards #valentines #valentinesday #emojis #school #ctmh #closetomyheart

If you’re looking to make lots of cards for your kids’ classes, try making smaller 3″ x 3″ cards. Small cards will help make your paper stretch further, and you can decorate them much quicker! Attach a treat to the inside or back of each card, and you’re set!

We chose to use the Emojis stamp set because we wanted our cards to be playful—and what could be better for that than silly faces? 🙂 To round off the cards, we used some of our Sugar Rush Complements and dots, which perfectly match the papers. Easy peasy.

Have fun “testing” your kids’ candy while designing your own mini card designs—and maybe even let your kids get in on the fun!

School teacher Valentine's Day gift ideas #gifttag #giftideas #ValentinesDay #valentines #school #teachergift #ctmh #closetomyheart

Don’t forget to give those school teachers something sweet, too!  A little thoughtfulness can go a long way!

How about a cupcake with a cute tag? This tag uses our Sugar Rush—Cardmaking stamp set, which has sentiments that are perfect for pairing with desserts.

School teacher Valentine's Day gift ideas #gifttag #giftideas #ValentinesDay #valentines #school #teachergift #ctmh #closetomyheart

When you’re done using this stamp set for creating a school teacher gift, use it to create Valentine’s Day cards and gift tags for your sweetheart, kids, and friends. Then use it again and again for birthdays and other occasions all year long wherever a sweet dessert is involved. 😉


Recipes

3″ x 3″  Valentine’s Cards
C1669 My Acrylix® Emojis Stamp Set, X7215B Sugar Rush Paper Packet, 1385 White Daisy Cardstock, X7215C Sugar Rush Complements, Z3271 Archival Black Exclusive Inks™ Stamp Pad, Z2810 Blossom Exclusive Inks™ Stamp Pad, Z2843 Canary Exclusive Inks™ Stamp Pad, Z3310 Sugar Rush Dots, Z3311 Sugar Rush Washi Pack

3 ¼” x 2″ Valentine’s Tags
C1671 My Acrylix® Sugar Rush—Cardmaking Stamp Set, X7215B Sugar Rush Paper Packet, 1385 White Daisy Cardstock, X7215C Sugar Rush Complements, Z2810 Blossom Exclusive Inks™ Stamp Pad, Z3310 Sugar Rush Dots, Z3216 White Twine, Z3286 Adventure Ribbon Pack, Z3169 Cricut® Artbooking Collection

Cricut® Shapes:
Artbooking
3″ Photo Mat 1 <AllStar> (cut 2, p.83)

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From Brian Holman: Making a Difference with Operation Smile™

Read Close To My Heart COO Brian Holman's story about going to the Philippines on an Operation Smile medical mission. #ctmhsharethelove

A few years ago, I found myself travelling to the Philippines with Close To My Heart Consultant Kelly Hammonds for a truly one-of-a-kind opportunity to be part of an Operation Smile™ medical mission. My trip coincided with Operation Smile’s 30th anniversary, and since their first mission was to the Philippines, it was somewhat of a special occasion for them. For me, it was an unforgettable experience that let me see up-close the huge difference that this organization makes.Read Close To My Heart COO Brian Holman's story about going to the Philippines on an Operation Smile medical mission. #ctmhsharethelove

One of the most impressive things about Operation Smile to me is the way they incorporate local professionals into their missions. They don’t just come in and do it all themselves, but they involve local people, educating them and building up the medical establishment itself through the work they do. I find this to be such an ennobling and empowering part of what they do all around the world.Read Close To My Heart COO Brian Holman's story about going to the Philippines on an Operation Smile medical mission. #ctmhsharethelove

Maybe it’s just the data geek in me talking, but I was also really impressed by the organization’s emphasis on record-keeping. When you think about the thousands of children who are being operated on every year, you can understand how important those records can be—especially when you consider that many of those children may require multiple surgeries. In the case of a child who has a cleft lip and a cleft palate, the cleft palate needs to be closed first, and then the cleft lip can be addressed in a subsequent surgery. Operation Smile’s commitment to methodical record-keeping really stood out to me as an indication of their trustworthiness and of their commitment to each individual.Read Close To My Heart COO Brian Holman's story about going to the Philippines on an Operation Smile medical mission. #ctmhsharethelove

Seeing all the people that came out in hopes of receiving medical care for their families gave me a new perspective on how big of a difference this organization makes. The level of sacrifice that the individuals made just to be there, travelling long distances, leaving family and jobs behind, really struck me. For many of these children, Operation Smile provides the only chance they may get to receive the medical attention that they need.Brian-Holman-Operation-Smile-Philippines-6

These twin brothers illustrate the level of sacrifice shown by these families. They were selected for surgery, but what you don’t see in the picture is that their mother also had a cleft lip. When the medical team offered to perform a surgery on her as well, she declined because she was the only one there to care for her boys. She was just one of many mothers who were there putting their children’s needs above their own.

Going on this mission taught me something else, too. I’m no medical professional, but even I was able to help in a small way, by helping take care of the children while they waited for their turn, and also after the surgeries. This baby’s mother was planning on staying there with her child all night without eating or resting, but since I was there, I was able to give her a break just by holding the baby while she went out to get something to eat. It was a small thing, but that’s what all of these missions come down to: small things that make a big difference.

You don’t have to be a surgeon or a nurse to help these children; you don’t have to fly around the world or even leave your house! Operation Smile takes care of those parts—all they need from us, from you and me, are donations to make it possible. Close To My Heart is committed to helping Operation Smile receive these donations. With each donation from you make, whether from rounding up your order or by purchasing this month’s special stamp set, My Acrylix® Share The Love, you are helping them, too. Thank you for helping us make a difference.Brian-Holman-Operation-Smile-Philippines-10

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From Monica: Starting 2016 on a High Note

Reflecting on the incredible Team Builders event we held last week, I just have to say that I feel so blessed to be part of this amazing company. This is how I feel after every event, and I want to express my gratitude to the wonderful group of leaders that took time out of their busy schedules to join us on a snowy weekend in Salt Lake City so we could learn and grow together. Any day I can spend with these friends, many of whom I have known for over twenty years, is precious to me.

Needless to say, our schedule was jam-packed with top-notch business presentations from Close To My Heart employees and Consultants alike. The days flew by in a steady stream of great ideas, one after another.

We also had plenty of creative time together, too. Here’s one of the beautiful projects that we worked on:TB164

Art Studio Manager Gina Crotts came to me with this project as a recommendation. “Meraki” is a Greek word that means “to do something with soul, creativity, or love; to put something of yourself into your work.” That word felt like a great way to describe what our Consultants—especially these leaders—do, both in their businesses and in their artwork.

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It was a unique type of creative project for us: We just showed a few examples, set out the supplies, and gave our attendees complete freedom to create their own page. It was so awesome to see what they all came up with!

Meraki Creative time. #ctmhteambuilders #watercolor

A post shared by gmbscrapper (@gmbscrapper) on

The highlight for me, and I think for everyone, was Saturday afternoon—and no, I’m not talking about those unbelievably delicious waffles from Waffle Love!—I’m talking about when Jeanette surprised us with a visit. After sharing a few words with us, she spent the better part of an hour answering questions, cracking jokes, and sharing her insights and vision for the future of Close To My Heart. It was a wonderful and memorable afternoon for all of us!

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At the end of the event, we all said our goodbyes and returned back to our homes and our normal lives, armed with new perspective, new resolve, and new ideas for the future. I left feeling optimistic and hopeful, and I saw these same feelings reflected on the faces of my friends, who have shown such determination and loyalty in building up their own Close To My Heart businesses over the years. I am looking forward to the rest of 2016, because I know that with such incredible people involved in this work, we’ve got a great year ahead of us.

Love,

Monica

From Monica: A Very Creative Weekend

CreativeLive (16)Phew! What a weekend! I just finished hosting a two-day live webcast with Jill Broadbent and several of my Consultant friends on CreativeLive. It was a crazy, fast-paced, exhausting, and incredibly fun experience!

We partnered up with CreativeLive because we love their dedication to sharing information and inspiration with creative minds all around the world. As you know from following this blog, we are passionate about inspiring people too, so it was a perfect match! Over two days of presenting, we really wore ourselves out demonstrating that passion and our expertise in the papercrafting world. We shared a variety of artistic techniques and showcased the entire line of Close To My Heart products in a virtual parade of breathtaking artwork. From our awesome, unbeatable My Acrylix® stamp sets and our brand new Everyday Life™ planner system to our super popular scissors, liquid glass, Instalife™, and Base & Bling—we shared it all—and that was really just day one!

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We also welcomed our special friend, Stacy Julian, to share an inspiring message about the importance of stories and memory keeping. One thing Stacy said really stuck out to me: how it is the people in our lives that matter most. I couldn’t agree more, and I’m proud to work for a company whose mission statement focuses on celebrating relationships. In fact, we even opened the whole webcast by sharing the beautiful video we released at Convention this year, which shows just how crafting helps us achieve this goal in so many different ways.

Our products are truly phenomenal, but our people are even more phenomenal—which is why a big chunk of the event was also devoted to celebrating our Consultant community. We had some excellent Consultants in our studio audience, and others that gave spectacular presentations. I have to give a special shout-out to our day two presenters: Karen Pedersen, Kristina Livingstone, and Michelle Snyder. They all put in a LOT of work and each did such an amazing job.

I also loved being joined by more of our Consultant friends via Skype where they were cropping and crafting along with us at events of their own. When we switched over to our Skype calls, I was amazed to see all the people wearing our Operation Smile™ t-shirts. We didn’t ask anyone to do that, but they decided to do this on their own to show their support for Close To My Heart and Operation Smile. Our Consultants are such wonderful people, and they make my heart happy. To all you Consultants out there: I love you!

The other thing that was so great about those Skype calls was the chance to see firsthand the types of friendships that grow through Close To My Heart. I get goosebumps just thinking about how that is happening all over the world at Consultant’s crops, home parties, and workshops, all because of this great company! Close To My Heart really is an amazing community, and it shows each time we get together—whether that is in person or virtually.

Of course, no matter how busy I am when travelling, I always try to work in a little time for some sightseeing. In the case of this event, I felt that we had really earned it with all the hard work that we put in to the preparation! It was such a nice change of pace and scenery to be out on the town with these dear friends of mine, and I couldn’t think of a better reward than spending time with people that I care so much about.

I could go on and on talking about how great the event was, but I don’t have to because you can now see just how incredible this weekend was for yourself! We arranged for CreativeLive to record the live webcast and to make it available on their site for free. We knew that many of our Close To My Heart friends wouldn’t be able to tune in for the live broadcast, and we wanted the information to be available for all of you to watch and to use as a resource. So go ahead and watch the recording and you’ll quickly see what I’m talking about. You’re going to love it!

Sending lots of love and inspiration your way!

Monica

PS—One last note for those of you that were watching the show live: First of all, THANKS for being part of the fun! Secondly, if you were participating in the giveaways, be sure to check your direct messages on Facebook and Twitter and your comments on Instagram, because that was our main way of notifying our winners. If you were one of our winners, we would have messaged you with instructions for claiming your prize, so be sure to go back and check!

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From Jeanette: Behind the Scenes at Australasia Convention

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Hello, all you dear blog readers! I’ve just gotten back from another amazing trip to Brisbane, Australia. Despite how exhausting that long flight always is, Australasia Convention was absolutely exhilarating! I want to share just a few highlights from this incredible event with you to give you a taste of what it was like to be there.

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First of all, Brisbane was a lovely location for us again this year. Everywhere you looked, there were trees and flowers blooming, like these Jacarandas, with their beautifully-colored blossoms. I was glad to have a few days to just enjoy being there and take in a few sights around the city.

Of course, we added a little color of our own to Brisbane thanks to this year’s colorful Up-inspired Convention theme!

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We had a lot of fun in our General Session—and I’m afraid we may have given Brian Holman a stomach-ache from all the goodies we made him eat on stage! The best part was hearing the room full of Consultants go wild when we announced our new Workshops Your Way™ and planner products. For those of you that weren’t there, don’t worry! You’ll be hearing more about these products over the next few months.

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Another highlight for me personally was meeting with these three ladies whose names were drawn to have a meet and greet with me. We had such a nice little chat together; they helped me feel the love of all our Australasian Consultants.

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Then on Saturday afternoon, I was able to join Monica on stage for a question and answer session with the Consultants. We had solicited questions from the Consultant base, and I loved the opportunity to be with Consultants and share my thoughts with them. We talked about everything from the book I’m currently reading (East of Eden by John Steinbeck—what an amazing story!) to the qualities that I feel are most important for Close To My Heart Consultants (vision, perseverance, and passion!). It was an incredible discussion for me, and it was over much too soon! Next year I’ll have to give myself more time!

Another wonderful part about Convention was the money our amazing Consultants raised for Operation Smile™—$12,000 AUD! What an incredible achievement that will do so much good for children around the world! I’m always amazed by the determination and selflessness of our Consultants.

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Lastly, I want to recognize my corporate staff who helped put on the event, especially the two Brians and Monica. The corporate staffers work so hard to make every event a success, and they did an excellent job this year. These three in particular work tirelessly in and out of the office and have done so much good for the company. I can’t thank them enough for their commitment and their love for Close To My Heart.

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So my Aussie friends, thank you for your graciousness in hosting us at Convention this year—I can’t wait to see you again next year in Adelaide!

With love,

Jeanette

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Honoring Longevity: 25 Years of Awesome!

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Today we want to recognize a very special anniversary: It was 25 years ago that our dear friend Karen Morris signed up to be a demonstrator for a direct sales company called D.O.T.S., Jeanette Lynton’s stamping company that later became Close To My Heart. Her intention was just to earn a little extra money to help pay for Christmas for her two children. From that modest beginning has grown an impressive legacy of achievement, service, and inspiration that has made a profound effect on Close To My Heart.

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Karen’s list of achievements spans every area of the business, including reaching Presidential Director, the highest title at Close To My Heart. She has been the recipient of multiple personal and Team sales awards, Team building awards, and service awards, and has earned her way to many of our incentive trips to destinations all around the world.

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She has been an integral part of Close To My Heart in many other capacities as well. As a frequent presenter at national events, Karen has trained thousands of Consultants on how to build a successful business like hers. Over the years, she has been a member of multiple Advisory Boards, has been featured in various advertising campaigns and videos, and has even been one of our guest bloggers!

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In 2011, Karen received the company’s highest honor, the Spirit of Close To My Heart award, in recognition of her years of service and her countless contributions to the Close To My Heart community. At this year’s Convention, we recognized her 25-year anniversary onstage by presenting her with a scrapbook filled with pictures from her many experiences, friendships and achievements, some pages of which you can see here.

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Anyone who has met Karen knows she has the biggest heart; she has a gift for making people feel special and important. Karen also has the best sense of humor—and a pretty impressive shoe collection! She is a devoted wife to her husband, Marty, who has been by her side through her entire Close To My Heart journey. She has also filled the role of mother to her two children, Ashley and Trent, who learned to help in the business from an early age, and who have benefited in many ways from their mother’s hard work.

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We want your help in showing our appreciation to Karen on this special anniversary. She has touched the lives of so many, and we want to return the favor! If you know Karen in some way, please share a brief memory or story about how Karen has influenced you in your Close To My Heart business in the comments section. For those who don’t know Karen personally, feel free to simply congratulate her on her 25 years with us. Next week, we’ll randomly select 25 comments—one for each of Karen’s incredible 25 years—and send those individuals the Sangria paper packet, which is the featured paper collection for October! Again, congratulations to you, Karen, for all your accomplishments over the past 25 years. We’re so lucky to have you as part of the Close To My Heart family!

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