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Heidi Swapp: Connecting Through Scrapbooks, Journaling And Photos - Podcast Episode 1



Please note, this episode contains tender topics. We welcome the amazing Heidi Swapp on this episode. Heidi is a wonderful friend to many of us here at Scrapbook.com and an inspiration to crafters all over the world. Heidi talks about the importance of scrapbooking, journaling, and picture-taking and she shares some inspiring stories and examples of how scrapbooking and journaling has led to some meaningful, bonding experiences with her children and other loved-ones.

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You can find every episode of Life Handmade here!

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To read a full transcript of this episode, see below:

Stephanie Foster: Welcome to the Life Handmade podcast by Scrapbook.com. I'm your host Stephanie Foster. On today's episode we welcome the amazing Heidi Swapp. Heidi is a wife and mother to five children and she's been in the industry for over 20 years. She's a wonderful friend to many of us here at Scrapbook.com and an inspiration to crafters all over the world. Heidi talks today about the importance of scrapbooking, journaling and picture taking and she shares some inspiring stories and examples of how scrapbooking and journaling has led to some meaningful bonding experiences with her children and other loved ones.

Stephanie Foster: Hi Heidi. We are so excited to have you here on the podcast today.

Heidi Swapp: Well, this is fun. I'm excited you guys have a podcast.

Stephanie Foster: It is fun and I just have to say my little claim to fame with Heidi Swapp. Whenever I hear your name I say, do you know that I got to scrapbook at her kitchen table like 20 years ago...

Heidi Swapp: Has it been 20 years?

Stephanie Foster: It's been close. In your Chandler home, and then your Mesa home. I got, I got to scrapbook in both of those.

Heidi Swapp: Those were the good old days.

Stephanie Foster: Those were good. And I just have to say, I don't think I ever finished a page when I was at your house because I would just watch you create and be in awe of the whole process and you'd be like, I'm just going to rip this paper and I'm going to stitch this one. And then you'd pull out your journaling pen and I'd just watch your handwriting and be in awe, I've been a big fan for a long time.

Heidi Swapp: Well it is fun. It feels like when I come to Scrapbook.com. It's just like coming home.

Stephanie Foster: So I love that you're here. It's so fun. So you actually host your own amazing podcast now called Light the Fight. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Heidi Swapp's Light The Fight Podcast

Heidi Swapp: Yeah. Um, so most of, well I don't, I don't know. Most of my followers will know that. Um. About four and a half years ago. We're recording this in January of 2020 and about four and a half years ago, we lost a son to suicide, which was, I mean, obviously, I don't have to say it was devastating. It was, it was. It's hard. It's a horrible thing. And, um, I just realized there was so much I didn't know. And um, for the two years after he passed away, I was just stunned at what had happened and just in shock. And at the same time I was working with the same therapist that Cory was seeing and he was working with our families. We were dealing with like PTSD and just processing and grieving and all this stuff. I was learning so much and I would come home from my sessions and I would just write. And then I would get talking to my friends and they would also be learning, you know? And I just realized there's a lot that we don't, know. That we can do better. In normalizing depression, anxiety and talking about things that are super stigmatized and learning how to be more connected parents to our children.

Heidi Swapp: I mean originally I thought it was going to be a podcast about four parents who are having teenagers who are struggling with anxiety and depression and, and suicide. That was really what I thought the podcast was. It has really turned into how to better connect with people that you love, how to strengthen your family relationships. And um, so it's uh, it's a real tender topic for me and um, I love participating in it. So it's myself and David Kozlowski who was Cory's therapist and he is a licensed marriage and family therapist and um, specializes in working with troubled teens and he's like the teenage whisper really cause he's just a real teenager himself. Um, no he's not a teenager but he has taught me so much and so our podcast is really like this mom who me, who is a freaker outer fundamentally that I just, have wanted to learn how to, how to really connect with my kids better.

Stephanie Foster: It has been life changing for me. I have listened since the beginning and have loved it and have recommended it to so many of my friends because I think every parent, no matter how old your kids are can, can relate to it and benefit from it. Yeah. And the whole thing about connection you've inspired me, cause that was the word I chose this year for my word of the year is to connect. So lots of ways that we can connect with different, with ourselves, with others. Um, so maybe for selfish reasons, could you share some ideas or ways in which we can connect with others through our storytelling and through our scrapbooking?

Connecting With Others Through Storytelling and Scrapbooking

Heidi Swapp: Of course. Um, that's probably my very favorite topic. Um, I, you know, I've been a scrapbooker forever and I have always loved photos and I have always loved being told the story. Like I can remember the little girl just, um, you know, and I've, I've shared this before. My grandfather loved photography, amateur photographer, and only processed his film as slides, which as a little girl, that's a real bummer. Except for that they had, do you remember when you were little? They have those like slide viewers. I love that toy. Like I would go to my grandpa's house and I would just want to like look at the slide in the little viewer. And he used to curate slideshows. In fact in the basement family room, he had like rigged up a hole that went through the wall and a screen that came down like how many people have screens come down. Right. Well and back then it was really cool because it was really important for him and we would sit down that family room and tell stories. So you'd put up the photo and then there'd be laughter and storytelling. I loved that. I was the oldest granddaughter and then it was just like babies, babies, babies. But that was how I connected to my aunts and uncles. That's how I connected to my grandma and grandpa. I loved hearing the stories about how my parents grew up. I was fascinated. I mostly liked to hear the stories about me.

Stephanie Foster: Who doesn't, right?

Heidi Swapp: And, um, you know, if you talk about storytelling, you talk about connection, um, those two things just go hand in hand. That's a wonderful way to connect. It's those shared experiences or those stories are, are true. Our true experiences together is, is where we can connect. Um, on the podcast we often talk about like if you're struggling with a child or you're struggling with anybody you're, you're in a relationship with, or let's say that you just know somebody is struggling that you love. A wonderful recommendation is to just text them a picture of the two of you together doing something or some fun memories, something awesome. It makes you laugh or that was silly or whatever. And, and help people remember those good times and the fun times, the things you did together. And there's just an immediate, immediate connection.

Stephanie Foster: I love that. We, so I've got four kids from 12 to 18, and we were just on a road trip and they get grumpy right? And they are, they get thinking, Oh, we don't have this or I don't have that, you know, and they get negative. And so while we were captured in a car, you know, they couldn't move. I said let's do our whole year in review cause I had my calendar kind of from last year and we went through kind of all the highlights and things that we'd done and accomplishments that they'd had. And I think your key word there is they need to remember, we need to remember, cause I know first of all, if I don't write it down, I will forget.

Heidi Swapp: Absolutely. That's like my mantra.

Stephanie Foster: And I think most scrapbooks do with the photos. It brings you back to that place. And I love being able to open up family scrapbooks and show them, you know, for sure things that we did. And it, it does, I just loved the connection that it, it can, it can bring.

Memory Keeping Through Pregnancy

Heidi Swapp: You know, there's a story that I tell that I've told several times. Um, that's about my oldest son. And when we first got pregnant when we were first married, um, it actually, it actually took us a long time to get pregnant. I had had a couple of miscarriages, I'd had one miscarriage and it just took a long time for, and so we're really ready. We're really ready. We're really excited. And, um, I started, uh, journal because like, I hadn't made like a little teeny journal that I started writing in and, um, I like doodled on the cover and I, I like just started writing about how I felt. I was really writing to the baby. I was wanting, um, to share like the things we're doing. And then I have like my brothers and sisters right in it looked like notes to him to baby. I put like receipts and tags and things that I bought and talked about what preparations we're making and like all the things that were going on. And then the baby came and I wrote his birth story, which was a little traumatic if I'm, if I'm being honest. And there was some things with Colton specifically that were hard. He was, he was born with it. He was born with one ear. And, um, so there were some things that we were trying to like figure out like, and um, as a new mom I was, you know, whatever. So I was writing about it, but I was writing about how much I love this baby even before I ever met him. And then when you meet that baby, like you just aren't even, you're not even prepared for how much you love them.

Heidi Swapp: And I wrote about that and I wrote it, I wrote in that journal for about nine months, two a year after he was born. And there's some photos in it. Not very many photos but some photos. More receipts, more it's little details about what we're doing. And um, I remember at one point I did spill Diet Coke on it and so like the last fourth of the pages and I think we did lose some, some pages to the Diet Coke. But um, okay. So fast forward, I've got this little book, it gets stashed somewhere in my treasure troves of scrapbooks. And, um, Colton is 13 grouchy and 13 year old and I didn't have all the skills to deal with 13 year olds, but um, like I said, the podcast is 20 years too late. It was really my podcast. Heidi Swapp: Yeah. So anyway, um, we, we're living in a rental house. The basement was a disaster of like half of our belongings because we're kind of waiting to move into a real like our house that we owned and we're kind of living out of boxes and so it was just strewn over this unfinished basement. I remember saying this one day like, okay, that's it. We are going to clean this basement and Colton was just kind of my, the one that was hard for me to motivate hard for me to get him to do stuff and okay. I remember giving him the assignment to take a bunch of scrapbooks from cardboard boxes into like plastic boxes and bins so that when the basement flooded, there's never an if your basement is going to flood, it's when. Um, well I wanted this to be ready and so it was pretty simple task. Whatever. I'd given everybody tasks and you know, the other kids are whining. Pretty soon the other kids are whining because Colton is sitting in the corner not doing his job because he'd run across this book and the complaints went on for about an hour and a half as he sat there and read through the book. Um, and I don't know if he read every page. I think that it was probably an hour or two later and he came up and he found me and I was up in his room, like trying to reorganize stuff, you know, working in and he's holding the book and he's not an overly emotional individual, but he looked at me and with some tears in his eyes, he said, I didn't know how much you love me. And my immediate response was like, "what do you mean? I do everything for you. I cook for you, I pick up your clothes."

Stephanie Foster: You think it's obvious. Right?

Heidi Swapp: But there, there it was, it was, it was written and it was history and it was real and he couldn't deny that. Okay. And I'm here to tell you that there was a little turning point there. He started to thank me for me making him lunch and something happens when people know how much you love them.

Stephanie Foster: Yup.

Heidi Swapp: You know, we don't go through our regular day and we're like I just admire this and this about you, or I love this and this about you. Like we can do on a scrapbook a page, you know, or something that we're writing. And it would be great if we would sit down and tell people how we feel,

Stephanie Foster: Pour out our heart like we would on a page. Yes.

Heidi Swapp: But it's almost better when they get to read it at a time that maybe they need it the most, you know? Um. Another story, just quick story about connecting through photos is that on the other end of the spectrum, um, my mom is, my mom is 70. And for about the last five years she has been dealing with what's called primary progressive aphasia. And it's, um, it's a disease that attacks the communication part of your brain. And we're at a place in this disease that she can't talk and she can't really understand so hard. She can't write, and she actually can't read. Hmm. Um, I don't know how much she really understands. I don't know how much she remembers or knows. It is literally the most frustrating thing that I can even imagine.

Stephanie Foster: Oh, I'm sure.

Heidi Swapp: And she also like is comfortable in her sweats, like clothes. She doesn't want new clothes. She doesn't want a new swimsuit. She doesn't want new shoes. And so it's hard to like come up with something to give her, but I can make her little scrapbooks full of photos and every time we're together I make sure that we take photos so that she knows that she's left, she knows she's part of the group, even though she's got this situation happening, it's really, really hard. And uh, she just turned 70 and I made her this album. And just watching her, you know, she looked at the album, she was recognizing people she was remembering. She knew. And it was beautiful. So it connects with the un-connectable and, the uncommunicable scrapbooks, scrapbook pages, stories, the photos it connects where there's otherwise not a chance.

Stephanie Foster: Yeah. That is so beautiful. But I think that's, I mean that comes, that's what scrapbooking comes down to, the best benefit of it. We love it, we love crafting, we love being creative. But when you can connect with someone else on that level, through those photos or through those journaling moments or layouts, it's incredible.

Heidi Swapp: For sure.

Stephanie Foster: I love that. So do you have any suggestions for how we can maybe connect through through scrapbooking? Those were great examples. Any other tips that maybe are just easy things that people could do through their journaling or even the photo taking or just, I mean, just remembering I think to take the photo first of all, right.

Heidi Swapp: And printing, oh my gosh.

Stephanie Foster: And printing I think is key. Yes.

Connect With Others Through Scrapbooking

Heidi Swapp: You know, I think that we overcomplicate everything. I'm the queen of over complicating things and if you look at my projects and you look at what I make, I can imagine that I must probably intimidate people who aren't like super into it. You know? Like, maybe they want to be, but they're like, I can't have every tool I've already, you know, I mean I have access to so much and so, and like, it's my job to just like be alluring.

Stephanie Foster: Oh sure. How would you simplify?

Heidi Swapp: So, so here's an example. I was making samples for the Creativation show, that's why I'm down here. And I was going through photos trying to find the perfect photos for the samples that are hanging on the walls and to sell this product, you know? And Connor, who's my 12 year old, super tender kid comes up and he's like, I didn't want to have to give these to you but you can use these. And I was like, what is it? And he had this in his hand, the stack of just four by six photos, what's this? And he's like, well, these are just my pictures of me. And at some point when people are going through photos, he must have just skimmed off the photos of him, his favorite photos of him that he'd found in the big stash that were meaningful to him. And he goes, you can use any of these, but you have to give them back.

Stephanie Foster: Oh, that's so sweet.

Heidi Swapp: Yeah. I, you guys know I'm a crier, so sorry. But as I'm looking through these photos, I'm realizing this kid needs to feel this love. It needs to, you know, and I thought, so really what I should be doing is taking a stack of photos, slapping them into an album that doesn't have to be with the most newest, freshest techniques. It just has to be an album that on every page says I love you no matter what, you know, like over and over.

Stephanie Foster: Yeah. I think that's a good point. That they don't even, he probably doesn't even care that they're not on a layout.

Heidi Swapp: They don't need to be chronological, they don't need to be cropped perfectly. You know, it doesn't have to be perfect. And sometimes, you know, that's what we do. Like, I tried to sell this. We want people to watch videos and want them to learn. We want them to try new things. If that's going to hold you back, from telling the stories then forget it, just get it on, just get it on the paper.

Stephanie Foster: Just print the photos too because the kids can't, they don't ever scroll through it online, you know. But if they have them in hand that they can, they can just look through and yeah. I think, I think printing it out.

Heidi Swapp: It means the world to them. He also had pictures of our dog as a puppy. Oh isn't that interesting? We all, we all love to connect when times were simpler, even six year old, sixth grade graders want to connect to when their lives were simpler.

Stephanie Foster: Well that is awesome. Tell us about the newest collection that is coming out that you have designed and maybe where you got inspired for this. I am so excited about this collection.

How Scrapbooking is Changing

Heidi Swapp: I just showed Stephanie, right when we, so far we recorded, um, you know, I've been thinking a lot about scrapbooking because it's changed. It's changing. And here's the thing, like I have a planner and I really love my memory planner. Like it is my number one memory keeping priority actually for myself because I can kind of keep up on it. I actually do it in my sitting in my bed. And it represents my daily life. That's the key where it jogs my memory. So I love planning. Right. Then I'm also a journaler and journaling is important to me. I don't always like to like go back and read in it, you know, like some things I don't want to relive. Some things I do. And um, my mom was an avid journaler and I have loved to read the nice things she wrote about me. Um, she, before she got really bad, she transcribed all her journals and I think she'd probably dumped some of it. But anyway, um, okay. Journaling is different than scrapbooking it's different than planning and um, there's some things that happen and some things we need to express and write about that we don't have a photo for that needs to be written down.

Stephanie Foster: Documented. Yep.

Heidi Swapp: And if we feel like all of our documenting is in the planner and there's not enough room to write it, or if we're only doing scrapbooking and there's no place to write this big story or, or this experience, then what do you do? Does it just get lost? Does it get forgotten? So I think that there's this important place of being a journaler. And then we also have scrapbooking, which is where I think that for me, the photos lead the way to help tell the story. And it's where I can be creative and have fun. Use my supplies that I love and really connect with the story through my art. And it's a form of expression for me. It's, it's something that I really, really enjoy. So I got thinking about these three different styles of documenting and I realized that I do all three of these things. And there's certain aspects of my life that I scrapbook and there's aspects of my life that I journal and there's aspects of my life, I'd put in my memory planner, but it's not the same thing, you know? And so I kind of realized there needed to be attention given to these three different styles. So what's coming out right now is it's kind of, I don't want to call it a system cause that just seems so serious but it's a new style of album and these little notebooks. So it's kind of like what actually what you said is exactly right. It's like a traveler's journal bumped up to like a 8 x 10 almost. And then we've got these albums and this really cool binding system that, that allows you to put these insert notebooks into the albums. And what's really cool is that you could take a scrapbook insert book journaling, maybe your Bible study or scripture study, maybe journaling about what's going on, your memory planning all into one album. And you really have like a really different, more of a three dimensional...

Stephanie Foster: A complete picture really of your life. Cause I feel like I have three different, I have three or four different books going, you know, my, my to do list book and then my planner book. And then, you know, and it brings it all into one.

Heidi Swapp: Because actually all those things contribute to what we want. And that's to connect with our memories to bring it back.

Stephanie Foster: Oh it is so beautiful. And it's the perfect size and I love that they lay flat when you open them.

Heidi Swapp: And you can take it on the can take it with you on the road and not worry about it. It's pretty hearty feeling.

Stephanie Foster: Or even take one out at a time if you just want to stick it in your purse or something.

Heidi Swapp: And the paper's thick enough that like the pens don't go through and there's even some water, you know, you can water color on them, you know? Pretty heavy duty. Good. Yeah. Good books.

Stephanie Foster: And beautiful papers. So this is called Storyline Chapters.

Storyline Chapters by Heidi Swapp

Heidi Swapp: So just think of each book like as a different chapter of your life or different, you know, chapter.

Stephanie Foster: I love it. I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Heidi Swapp: Yeah, it's got paper, it's got stickers, it's got washi, it's got all the beautiful things. But I just want people to really honor these different aspects of telling their story.

Stephanie Foster: Love it. And then you have one other called Art Walk. Tell us about it.

Heidi Swapp: So fun. It's totally different than anything I've ever done. In fact, um, we challenged one of the designers on my team to actually paint these backgrounds and then we scanned them in and they're beautiful. It's so fun. It's just loud and bold and bright and it's, it's really beautiful. I really love it.

Stephanie Foster: They're so pretty. Such beautiful colors.

Heidi Swapp: There's also planners, memory planners in the Art Walk category. So, um, you know, that's still a good choice for, for documenting as well.

Stephanie Foster: Everyone is going to love them. I know this.

Heidi Swapp: Oh, I hope so.

Stephanie Foster: So fun. Okay, well there's some questions we always ask of all of our guests. Okay. So what is your favorite go to product at the moment?

Heidi Swapp: That's really, really a hard question. My go to, well, I love to make mini books, so I'll say something stupid like chipboard. I love chipboard. I can never have enough chipboard. It's stupid.

Stephanie Foster: What's your favorite thing to do with it?

Heidi Swapp: I love to just make albums. I love to use the Cinch. So that's forever.

Stephanie Foster: So making the books?

Heidi Swapp: Yes, I love to make the books, but I will say another new thing that's coming out is ink stamping ink that allows you to Minc. Minc ink. And it's, I'm pretty excited about it. It's really fun. So, so many fun things, I'm kind of obsessed with it right now. Yes.

Stephanie Foster: Okay. What is the most meaningful handmade gift that you have made for someone?

Heidi Swapp: Um, all of them. Every single handmade gift. Here's the truth. I have made a lot of handmade gifts.

Stephanie Foster: I'm sure there's no better gift. You put your heart and soul into it when you make something.

Heidi Swapp: I don't know. You know, two of the most special handmade gifts went out to my mother-in-law and my father-in-law. Yeah. And I just think I was really trying to win them over.

Stephanie Foster: Really nothing wrong with that.

Heidi Swapp: I had made my mother-in-law this big denim quilt, so it wasn't even, it wasn't even paper crafting. It says, she loves Mary Engelbreit. It says "life is just a bowl of cherries" in felt like, I hand cut these felt letters. It's adorable. Anyway, she still has it probably, and then when my father in law turned 60 we had this huge party, was it fifty? I can't remember how old, 60, 65. Anyway. Um, and he had this big huge party in Grand Cayman and I, and, and I spent some time gathering tribute letters to him and I made my first gatefold spiral album, like 7 Gypsies style. And I remember having a friend help me bind it and it was just, it was just crazy cool and intricate and unique. And I loved it. I sort of hated giving it away. I have hated giving away every handmade gift

Stephanie Foster: It's hard. I've already told my parents and in-laws anything that I've made like for you, like.

Heidi Swapp: It needs to come back.

Stephanie Foster: Yeah. I get it eventually. So just to be clear, but that's neat. And especially filled with all of the memories and sentiments from other people. That's something that he will cherish forever. Yeah. What a great gift.

Heidi Swapp: Well, I hope so.

Stephanie Foster: Thank you Heidi for speaking with us today. I could speak with you for hours and hours.

Heidi Swapp: It's my pleasure.

Stephanie Foster: It has been so fun, so thank you for coming in and we wish you all the best. We can't wait to see your new line at Scrapbook.com.

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