Step 1 of Trying on Bathing Suits

woman in bathing suit

When I sent my beloved female friend Bec the above picture of me trying on the two-piece bathing suit I ultimately bought, I told her that the process had been less painful than I expected. Her response was to tell me that was because I had followed Step 1. I asked what Step 1 was and she replied that it was be attractive. As I consider attractiveness much more than just physical appearance, I believe that she was quite right.

I wasn’t excited about trying on bathing suits this morning but as I hadn’t bought a new one in at least 10 years and the one I did have didn’t fit me well (it was a mismatch that I found at a great sale price) I figured it was overdue. I grabbed several bathing suits, both one piece and separates and took them all into the dressing room with me trying to prepare for how I’d look in them. I quickly discovered that almost every top piece or one-piece suit I’d chosen was too small while every bottom separate fit perfectly. I should’ve chosen more wisely as my top half is a bit curvier than my bottom, but I didn’t and so I was left with several bathing suits that didn’t fit.

Fortunately, when I tried on the two pieces in the photo, I immediately loved how I looked in the mirror. The top is comfortable and colorful and the bottom combines the look of shorts and a skirt in a feminine and flattering way that does wonders for my legs. I know I won’t feel any hesitation going to the pool or beach with my girls this summer when I’m wearing that suit and I know that that’s extremely important for my daughters to see.

I do genuinely love myself as a person but it’s an ongoing struggle to love my body because I know my healthy weight is at least 20 pounds lighter than my current weight. I could say that I’m still trying to lose the “baby weight” from having my last daughter, but Jaycie is turning 10 this year and it’s certainly not her fault that I can’t be consistent with my weight loss progress.

I admit that I’m a stress eater and as my days involve balancing being a single mother, solo homeowner, freelance writer, jewelry designer, creator and marketer, I tend to get a bit overwhelmed. I’d much rather work out my stress by learning how to swordfight, hip-hop dance, kick butt with martial arts or all of the above but there isn’t any nearby access to such things and so I turn to food. Walking Jazzmin helps but with the heat and excessive amount of biting deer flies the past few weeks, those walks haven’t happened as often as they should.

Back to Step 1 of trying on bathing suits. I do not mean to sound conceited when I say this, but I consider myself an amazing woman. If you’d told me 10 years ago that I’d be where I am now, making it on my own with continued determination and strength, I’d have probably said you were crazy. Nevertheless, I am where I am and that all makes me and anyone else like me attractive. Confidence is attractive, being a good person is attractive, being the best mother I can be is attractive, believing in myself is attractive, honesty is attractive, a selfless spirit is attractive, the love of helping others is attractive, being a good friend is attractive, the love and ownership of shelter animals is attractive and while I know I’m not perfect, I do the best I can every single day and go to sleep knowing that I gave it my all.

So I share this picture of me in a bathing suit with my fuzzy, braided hair and non-hard body physique in the hopes that other women will see that we are all beautiful. I will expand on Bec’s Step 1 of “be attractive” by saying that you must also love yourself. We are all deserving of love and that love is the one we must give ourselves every single day.

A Creative Legacy

Corbin Creations by JulieAnn Corbin logo

Corbin is more than just my last name; it’s my bond to a creative legacy. The name Corbin is synonymous with creativity. There was Corbin Clockworks that my father often spoke of (and to which I think I’m only a very distant relation) and Corbin motorcycle seats. I owned a Corbin seat on the motorcycle I used to own and I found it comfortable and very well made. I’m sure there are many other Corbin owned and named businesses out there and I hope they all utilize their own type of the creativity that I have also been gifted with.

When I was choosing a name for my website many years ago, I decided to go with Corbin Creations because I wanted to honor the family name of my father, my maiden name that I fought hard to regain after my divorce. My father, Robert Corbin, was the best man I ever knew and whom I miss every single day. My father was very intelligent and loved working with his hands. He was an engineer at Xerox for his main job, but his other passion was woodworking. He made beautiful, durable things with wood that ranged in size from large decks on our house to small wooden puzzles. My family and I would often say that my father’s wooden creations would outlast everything and in many cases, that proved true.

I hope one day to live up to the greatness of my father and I work every day toward that by utilizing my creativity. I felt the name Corbin Creations covered my various creative outlets including writing, painting, knitting, crocheting and most prominent of late, jewelry designing and creating. My Facebook page was originally Corbin Creations just like my website but I changed it to “Corbin Creations by JulieAnn” a couple years ago to make it a bit more personal. I will be keeping my website CorbinCreations.com though because I’ve bought the domain name and I’m rather attached to it.

For the past few years, I’ve had a store on Etsy that I called CorbinGirl. I recently changed it to CorbinCreations1 (CorbinCreations was taken) on Etsy and changed my account name on social media platforms to keep things more consistent. Although I had great success when I first started selling my jewelry on Etsy and received all positive reviews from customers, it seems impossible to gain new customers on that platform now.

I’m not a quitter though, never have been and never will be so I decided to create my own online store on Corbin Creations website. I use Weebly for that site and I’ve found their e-commerce tools easy to work with and quite helpful for my Corbin Creations by JulieAnn online store. I spent the last several days taking pictures of my jewelry, creating unique names, and writing informative descriptions for my store and it now contains an adequate representation of my diverse styles of beading. I will be donating a portion of whatever profits I make to organizations I support including The Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, the shelters I adopted my pets from and other animal rescue sites.

Crimson Cascade earrings by JulieAnn Corbin

Crimson Cascade earrings

Summer Fireworks Set by JulieAnn Corbin

Summer Fireworks Set

My store, Corbin Creations by JulieAnn is now live and ships to the United States, Canada, and select other countries. I will eventually ship worldwide once I work out a few more details. I will continue to add products to my store, adjust things as needed and throw myself into marketing. As part of that marketing, I’ve created a blog on that site called Practice, Patience and Persistence, dedicated strictly to my beading and jewelry making. I feel it would be too confusing to write about that on this site that I use mainly for sharing my rambling tales of daily life. Beading is part of my daily life but it’s also a world unto itself and deserves dedicated attention.

Feel free to check out my shop, ask me questions and if you decide to buy something, thank you! This is just the start of another great chapter in my life and I’m confident I can make my dream of having a successful jewelry business a reality!

The Power to Write the Words

dreamstime_xxl_3501203

Just as I said I was going to in my last blog post, I sat down at my desk this past Sunday and started writing in my fantasy novel “Unbroken Flames.” During the past few years, whenever I’d sit down to write, I’d feel all nervous and restless, as I doubted my own abilities as a writer. I didn’t know if I still had “it” anymore and when I’d start writing, I couldn’t remember what tense I usually wrote in or what my writing “style” even was.

Fortunately, that nervousness didn’t exist this past Sunday and for the first time in many years, I was able to put on music and just start typing out whatever was in my brain. The ability to listen to music and write was something I’d lost and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it was because I can’t concentrate on my work writing if I listen to music. Writing for pleasure is different though and I was finally able to let the music help inspire me and move my fingers across the keys.

I only wrote a few pages but those few pages were the start of something important and they represent a shift in my life. I’ve finally managed to close the doors on certain chapters of my life and restore my eternal hope for the future. Those feelings flowed into the main character of “Unbroken Flames” as I realized that she needed to transform just as I have these past few years.

I may not be able to rewrite what’s happened in my life, but I can rewrite what’s going to happen in hers and perhaps as I write the future I want for her, it will create the future I seek as well. That may sound absurd, but I know better than to underestimate the power of the written word…

Writing to Honor My Father

My father and I in the Adirondack Mountains. He's wearing the bobcat shirt I remember well.

My father and I in the Adirondack Mountains. He was always supportive of my writing.

Occasions like Father’s Day today have been difficult for me since my father walked on in October of 2009. Quite often, I feel sad and cry during the days leading up to the event, but then on the actual day, I’m okay. Surprisingly enough, I haven’t really been sad leading up to or including Father’s Day. I still miss my father immensely and always will, but I think I’m finally in a better place now and able to focus on all the positive aspects in my life that come from having him as my father.

One of the things I remember my father asking almost every time I saw him was “How’s your writing going?” I’d usually reply that it was going okay or some such thing, but I always felt like I was letting him down because I wasn’t published yet. He was one of my biggest supporters when it came to my writing and losing him made it so hard for me to continue writing in any of my books. I think the fact that I now make my living as a freelance writer would please him, but it’s not quite the same.

Yesterday was a wonderful day that started with waking up to my daughters coming into my bedroom and included beautiful sunshine, a conversation that made me smile and laugh, and an afternoon and early evening spent visiting my mom. I felt so elated and inspired that I actually felt like writing in my newest fantasy novel (now over 4 years old and only containing one chapter). When I told my oldest daughter Jordan of my desire to write, she smiled broadly and was genuinely excited for me. She’s blessed with the gift of writing as well and is a far better writer at 13 than I was at her age. In her enthusiasm for me writing again, I saw a bit of my father and I knew I couldn’t let either of them down.

Alas, I was a bit too tired to write last night, so I decided that I would write today. My girls won’t be back until the late evening and it’s too hot and full of deer flies to do much outside so writing in my fantasy book entitled “Unbroken Flames” sounds like the perfect way to spend the day. A lot has changed in my life since I started writing that book and it’s past time that I start incorporating that into the story.

One thing that will never change in any of my writing though is my love for breathing life into strong female characters who are willing to fight for what they believe in, have faced challenges that made them stronger instead of destroying them and who still believe in love and all of the amazing gifts that come with it.

So here’s to you, Dad, your little girl will finally get going again on her writing!

Beauty in the Breeze

Yesterday was one of those breezy but glorious days. The high temperature was 62 degrees and the sky was full of big puffy clouds that occasionally blocked out the sun in the most breathtaking way. When I took Jazzmin out for our afternoon walk, I paused on the way back in the house to observe the way the wind was swirling the tall grass in the field behind my house into shimmering waves that seemed to breathe along with the breeze. The power and beauty of the wind is something I have always admired and it was extremely worthy of that admiration yesterday.

Around 4 p.m. I felt this inner tug and voice telling me that I needed to spend some time outside. Knowing better than to ignore such feelings, I decided to lay a blanket down in the lawn in front of my smaller storage shed and sit on it for a while enjoying the beauty of the day. I hooked Jazzmin to her tree lead within a few feet of my blanket and she set about busily sniffing away at squirrel trails. With my thick green comforter spread out on the ground, I then spread myself out on it and laid on my back feeling the warmth of the sun on my face. By that time, the temperature had dropped into the mid-50’s so I was wearing my sweatshirt, tank top and yoga pants. I was “sun bathing” completely clothed as it were and considering I’m not a big fan of tanning it worked fine for me.

I closed my eyes for a while feeling the warmth of the sun on my face and then eventually rolled over on my stomach to watch the huge cumulous clouds move over the back field like a thick, fluffy blanket. Dragonflies flew by periodically, I saw a few butterflies too, and amid the tall grass, I could see red – winged blackbirds, starlings and bobolinks flying up before disappearing back down into the grass. It was all so amazing and peaceful that I was glad I’d made the time to go out and enjoy it.

Another periodic visitor in my gaze were turkey vultures flying low over my house and then soaring up on the winds and out over the valley to the west. Eventually I decided to stand up and walk over to the western edge of my property so I could see where the turkey vultures were going. I was quite surprised to see at least 20 of the huge birds soaring at various heights over the properties down the hill from me. I surmised that there must have been appetizing roadkill somewhere down the road to attract so many of the scavengers. I understand that many people might find turkey vultures and the fact that they’re scavengers ugly, but I admire them for their huge wingspan, grace in the air and the essential role they play in the cycle of life. If we humans are going to keep hitting animals that try unsuccessfully to cross the road in front of our vehicles, the least we can do is show proper respect for the turkey vultures who clean up after our mess.

As I watched the large birds circle, I took a few pictures with my phone even though I knew they would just look like dark specks among the clouds.

Those specks among the clouds are turkey vultures. Extremely zoomed in pic from my phone

Those specks among the clouds are turkey vultures. Extremely zoomed in pic from my phone

I had just lowered my phone when I realized that one of the circling birds didn’t have the same shape as the turkey vultures. At first, I thought it was a hawk but then I saw that it was much too large. A moment later the sun came out from behind the latest swath of clouds and in the warm golden glow, I saw the white head and tail that revealed to me that I was looking at a bald eagle.

My heart swelled in joy at the sight of the bird and when it broke off from the turkey vultures and flew northeast temporarily disappearing beyond the canopy of my trees I walked quickly toward my driveway to try to catch another glimpse of it. I was therefore elated when I saw that the bald eagle had turned and was now flying directly over me as I stood in my driveway. Tears immediately flowed from my eyes as I saw the great bird closer and there was no denying those beautiful white head and tail feathers. I held my phone up to take a couple pictures and hoped I got something recognizable because I couldn’t see anything in my viewfinder due to the glare.

bald eagle above me

Another zoomed in pic. Bald eagle directly above me.

As I watched, the bald eagle flew gracefully from north to south over me as I stood in the driveway, then over my yard and into the field behind my house, eventually soaring beyond my sight over the southwestern line of trees.

The dark speck is the bald eagle soaring over the southwestern trees.

The small, dark speck is the bald eagle soaring over the southwestern trees.

The tears were still streaming down my cheeks because I felt so blessed by the visit of the great bird and its powerful spirit and I didn’t even bother to wipe them away. I let the tears dry on my face as I sat back down on my blanket, overcome with feelings of awe and amazement. My heart and spirit pulsed with gratitude that the universe had sent me such a powerful messenger. Aloud I thanked the Creator, Great Spirit and my father’s spirit for reminding me once again that I haven’t been forgotten and that even though I might not know what it is yet, that I have an amazing destiny ahead of me. I am eternally glad that I listened to that inner voice yesterday telling me that I needed to sit in the lawn for a bit to enjoy the day and witness the beauty in the breeze.

Skies of flies

Why in the skies
Are there so many deer flies?
Swarming about and biting
Turning strolls into bug fighting.
Swirling about the head
Making walks a thing of dread.
Buzzing, nipping, landing
Trying to be the last one standing.
They ensure that no walk is fun
And wow do they make us run!

Beautiful storms

image

Storm clouds swallowing the sun


From my western facing deck I always have a great view of the incoming weather as it makes the way across the valley and to the hills where I live. On clear days, I can see blue sky stretching into the horizon and on stormy days, I can see the dark clouds slowly swallowing the blue in flashes of lightning and visible lines of rain as they approach.

Today was one of those stormy days and although it wasn’t raining when I put Jazzmin out this morning, the air was thick with humidity and the breeze promised additional moisture. The air was cool but not cold and I watched later as the storms approached, changing the sky from dark to darker.

When particularly turbulent storms approach, full of rumbling thunder and flashing lightning, I love to stand on my deck and watch them grow closer. Especially in summer when it’s been a hot day and I can just feel that the storm is going to bring relief. There’s something so raw and beautiful about the power of mother nature as she stirs up the wind and brings the rain that drenches the earth.

I can still feel that power even after the rain stops as I walk into the wet grass with bare feet. It’s as if the pulse of the ground received an energetic jolt from the storm and I can feel the heartbeat of the earth much more vividly. I often close my eyes when I’m standing in the grass to feel the breeze upon my face and listen to it whisper of more beautiful storms to come.