Monday, September 27, 2010

Interview Day! One by one the flamingos are stealing my sanity: ...

Karel is one of the crafty women on, the wildly popular arts and crafts community. Her blog, One by One the Flamingos Are Stealing My Sanity: My life in pink. reflects her talent as a crafter, Mom, animal lover and approach to life.   Karel is active in raising awareness for breast cancer and creates beautiful Breast Cancer Support Cards.  Please settle in for inspiration, the color pink, and a splash of Flamingos! 

Q. Karel, I have to know how did you come up with your blog name, One by One the Flamingos are Stealing My Sanity, My Life in Pink?

A. It started may years ago, when a friend had some of those pink, plastic flamingos in her back yard. She was from Florida, and brought them with her, partly for the memories of home and partly for the tacky factor! When I moved from Illinois to New York, she gave me a set to remember her by. I put them in the back yard, and they made me smile and think of her every time I saw them. Eventually, someone else gave me another flamingo...more of an art one, made of wood and perfect for putting in a potted plant. After that, it seemed that every occcasion was one when someone would give me a flamingo. My collection grew to over 50. Now, to answer your question: My daughter hates them. Not a mean-spirited hate, just a *Mom, I can't believe you have these* kind of hate...and she rolls her eyes every time a new one comes into the house. When I made a bright flamingo quilt for my studio futon, she said, "I think you've gone crazy. And all these flamingos are making me as nuts as you!" So, for a Christmas stocking stuffer, I bought her a bumper sticker that said, "One By One The Flamingos Are Stealing My Sanity". When I was designing my blog, and looking for a name, I was just going to use *My Life In Pink*, but she was tweaking it for me and added the rest. To her chagrin, I loved it, and kept it....proof she says, that the Flamingos really have stolen my sanity.

Q. That's a great story that many parents can identify with, Karel.  Can you please share with us your Breast Cancer Aware Card information?

A. For the past three years, I have tried to do my part in supporting those who have or have battled, Breast Cancer. I had two close friends die from this disease, and two of my cousins are survivors. I'm not good at fund-raising, and am disabled, so I can't participate in walks or other types of active support. I found a wonderful stamp, by Verses, that tells what cancer CANNOT do...and decided to make cards of support with it. I get the word out any way I can, and accept names pretty much any time, with the understanding that the cards are mailed in October. I change the design a bit each year, but each is sturdy enough to carry around in a purse, and is send in the name of the person who requested it. I also have provided the directions every year, so people can make their own to send. I don't charge for's just my little way of giving those strong women a boost. I should actually say *strong people*, as I've sent two blue cards to male breast cancer survivors. To date, I've sent over 70 cards....and I hope to send a lot more this year! People who want to request a card for someone can email me at with the words Breast Cancer Support Card in the subject line. Pictures and this info are on my blog.

Q. I really admire your approach to life, Karel, and the fact that you have 8,000 songs downloaded on your iTune. Do you find that your crafts, children, dog and tunes help with the healing process of illness, and troubles of life in general?

A. I couldn't survive without music. I literally play it 24 hours a day (well, when the television isn't on!). I can't go to sleep without music playing, and, although I can't carry a tune in a basket, I know the words to most of my songs. Music can soothe the soul, bring back memories, make you happy, sad, angry, thrilled....what else can have so much impact for so little? I craft to music....and I craft to keep myself sane (maybe it's protection from the flamingos?). I am a disabled teacher...I spent 30 years teaching Special Education on all levels to all kinds of students. When an auto accident in 2007 made it necessary for me to give it up, I needed something to fill my days. I have always had an artistic bent, and have sewn and done needle crafts all my life...well, since 7th grade, anyway. Home Ec was a real eye opener for me, as my mama can't do anything crafty. Anyway, I discovered card making, and scrapbooking...and discovered sharing my craft items with Charities like Operation Write Home...and then swapping with other crafters. It gives my day some purpose, and a reason to make myself get up and get dressed every day. My pets are my company...and I sing to them, talk to them and ask their opinions on what I'm doing. If I didn't have these three (plus my wonderfully supportive family!) I'd probably be depressed and not much good to anyone. I have my whiney moments, but, on the whole, I do pretty well with music, pets and crafting. Now, if my kiddos would just get around to some grandchildren, my life would be complete!

Q. One of my favorite cards on your site is the intricate Autumn Window Layout which was made for the monthly challenge. Can you tell us about the cards you like to make?
A. Isn't that card beautiful? I didn't make it, it's part of the Monthly Challenge I do on the blog. I have made very elaborate cards, though, and some really elaborate layouts....and they take me hours. I can easily put in three or four hours pulling papers, trims, embellishments, matching inks....not to mention the initial sketch of the item. I have never made anything exactly as the sketch depicted...and I can tweak for more hours! I'd say it can take at least three hours, and as many more as you want to spend, to make something like this.

Q. What types of needle work do you enjoy?

A. I can knit, although I'm pretty rusty, and I crochet regularly. I used to do very elaborate counted crossstitch, but my fingers don't hold up for that too well any more. I've been known to do embroidery, crewel work, quilting, and I used to make all my clothing....I'll pretty much try any new craft at least twice....right now, I'm pondering altered canvases, hoping I can make Christmas gifts for my mama and brother.

Q. Karel, I have really enjoyed reading about you, your crafts and your life. Is there anything you would like to share with us that hasn’t been covered in the interview?

I'd just like to share that the biggest thing that gets me through is my Faith. I know God is there, and in control, no matter what. I'm still working on the whole *letting go, letting God* thing, and I imagine I'll struggle with this all my life. I know He is continually speaking to me...and it's not His fault I sometimes have trouble shutting me up to listen to Him. I have tried to live my life based on three pieces of advice three different, but equally wise, women gave me at different points in my life. In High School, I was upset over some comments a *popular* girl had made about me in my hearing. When I told a lovely woman (who happened to be my English and Latin Teacher, and later a PEO Sister), she behaved very unprofessionally and said, "Consider the source. She may be popular now, but she doesn't have your depth of character or your compassion. Before you let someone hurt you, always consider the source, and then make what allowances you can." Later on, I was telling another very wise woman that I was having a real problem liking someone I needed to spend several hours a day with. She said, "You don't have to like everyone. This would be a dull world if we all liked each other...but, the flip side is that not everyone will like you. Accept this and then be as polite as you can be, because they may be having the same thought about you!" Finally, another woman, my wonderful and gracious Mother-In-Law, was listening to me as I fretted about something my son either was or wasn't doing. She had raised 9 wonderful children, was never seemed ruffled by them and never interferred in their lives (unless asked to). I asked her how she did it and she said, "I raised them to have Faith in God and to be independent, responsible adults. They have done, and will do, things I don't agree with...but I know they have a solid foundation and, like the church, were built on rock, not sand. This, too, will pass, and he will be better, and stronger, and wiser, for making his own mistakes. My tongue was bloody much of the time, but knowing I raise exceptional men and women makes it worth it."
Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to share!

We've enjoyed hearing your story and are inspired by your life.  Thank you, Karel.

You can visit Karel on the following links:
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