Turning Over Familiar Leaves

Canandaigua Lake, September 1 2018

Winds whipping the leaves of a tree on the shores of Canandaigua Lake, New York

As I imagine most parents know, summer break from school tends to create some notable schedule changes. I am fortunate that I work from home as a transcriber for Rev.com because I get to spend time with my girls when they’re home. I do however still have to work and it can be challenging finding a balance between family and work during the summer when they’re home all day. Even so, I love my girls and I do my best to work just enough without having them think that all I do is work. Not easy, but I try.

Nonetheless, summer break doesn’t last forever. I’ve enjoyed every extra moment I’ve had with my girls, but school starts up for them again this coming Tuesday and it will then be back to the usual school year routine. I do my transcribing work while they’re at school Monday and Tuesday and then focus on them when they get home. For the remaining days of the week they go to their father’s house and I focus fully on transcription and college work. While I always miss my girls when I don’t have them, I know that my days without them serve and important purpose.

Along with school starting soon, my favorite season of autumn will also be starting soon. We’ve already had a couple of days of pre-fall weather here in Upstate New York and I enjoyed the cooler temperatures and ability to turn the air conditioning off and leave the windows open. Summer weather has currently returned to my area, but I know fall will settle in eventually and I look forward to it with enthusiasm.

As the familiar predictable school schedule returns and the leaves begin to turn, it’s time for me to turn over some familiar leaves. By this I mean it’s time for me to get back into blogging more regularly. With all the things I have going on in my life, writing tends to get lost in the chaos and I can’t continue to let that happen. Writing is a big part of who I am and most of the writing I’ve done over the summer has been for college courses.

College writing is very important of course and it’s earned me some wonderful grades, but I know that writing for pleasure is also essential for my creativity. My creativity is what gives me the ability to take subjects I struggle with (or even dislike) and mesh them with subjects I’m passionate about to write some pretty astounding papers. I say astounding because I am usually astounded with what I come up with.

Fortunately, I’ve already got a jump-start on flexing my writing for pleasure muscles thanks to being given the opportunity to play World of Warcraft’s latest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, when it was in beta testing. I’ve never played a beta version of World of Warcraft before so I was very excited to receive such an immersive first look at a game world that I already love. Playing Battle for Azeroth Bet was an amazing experience for me and I loved having even a small impact in the final release of the game that was released on August 13th of this year.

What does World of Warcraft have to do with my writing? you ask. Well, playing in that new world with its beautiful settings and interesting new story lines inspired me to start writing about new characters in my Warcraft based books. I base my characters off the “toons” I play in the game because to me, they all already have unique personalities and stories to tell. That comes from being a writer perhaps.

I’ve already written several chapters in what will eventually be a complete book that follows a handful of rather diverse characters as they journey through Azeroth. I don’t really know what will happen with the book or what can happen with the book, but that’s not going to stop me from writing. It took me so many years to get my muse back after my father died that I’m not about to let her slip away again!

Birthday Gifts To Myself

calendar page Lidancie Arts

Today’s the day!

Today I turn 41 years old, but honestly, I’ve already felt 41 for a while. This year I was fortunate enough to have my girls the weekend before my birthday and I’ve been essentially celebrating my birthday all weekend long. On Saturday, my mother treated my girls and I to birthday lunch at Olive Garden (one of my favorite restaurants) and then we spent the rest of the day just relaxing at my mom’s house in the lovely weather. As a continued celebration of my birthday yesterday, I took my girls to see the new Star Wars movie, Solo, and treated us all to overpriced movie theater snacks. We all enjoyed the movie and then went to ice cream afterwards.

I’m quite sure I’ve never celebrated my birthday over more than one day, so I’ve been enjoying this unusual treat this year. For me, the best gifts are spending time with my girls and family, having good friends, and being able to do what makes me happy. If I need material items, I can just buy them for myself, so wrapped gifts aren’t really necessary anymore. Thus far, 41 is off to a really good start!

As I continue to celebrate my birthday today on the actual day I was born, I decided to give myself a very important gift. This year’s birthday gift to myself is that I will spend the entire day while the girls are at school writing. Writing future blog posts, writing in my Warcraft fan fiction, writing outlines for future stories, whatever I want!

When I was a teenager, I promised myself I’d be a published author by the time I was 30 years old. That deadline came and went without realizing that goal, but I haven’t given up on that dream. I do have one self-published Kindle book, but it’s non-fiction and while I think it’s a good story, my heart is really in fantasy fiction writing. I love that anything is possible when magic is involved and that type of freedom helps my writing go wherever it wants to take me. My muse is very much alive these days, but I have trouble making the time to let her out. Hence, today’s birthday gift of writing!

I think like any writer, I doubt my own abilities to tell something new and different in my own interesting style. However, as I’ve read in many inspirational writing quotes, although something might have been told many times before, it hasn’t been told by ME and with my voice. Therefore, I feel like I still have much to offer this world as an author. At my core, despite the many paying jobs I’ve had and have in my life, I am and have always been a writer. The universe gave me this crazy imagination for a reason and today I’m going to channel it into my keyboard and onto pages and pages of new adventures!

Shyness and Marketing Don’t Mix

Lidancie Arts

Shameless self-promotion 😉

When making a living as a freelance writer and jewelry business owner, one can’t be shy. It’s up to me to market myself across social networks. As someone who tends to be shy, that’s not always an easy thing. Regardless, writing content and creating jewelry and then hoping that people will stumble across it and buy it, wasn’t working.

Overcoming the fear of being a pest

The hardest part about marketing myself online is convincing myself that I’m not being a pest. I’ve read countless articles about how to do online marketing and I’ve even taken a marketing class from SNHU, but the idea of shoving my posts in the faces of my followers every few hours on a daily basis makes me a bit uncomfortable. I don’t want to come off as an annoying salesperson and irritate my followers to the point where they stop following me. However, an important way to show a larger online audience my writing and jewelry is to promote it continually on social media. Although I was afraid I’d lose followers, I’ve actually gained quite a few new followers on Twitter since I started my online marketing efforts. I have also sold several articles posted on Constant Content. I find this motivating, surprising, and reassuring. Another vital way of growing my audience is by creating interesting and engaging blog posts. To that end, I will be posting here far more often.

Brand consistency

One of the many things I’ve learned from reading about online marketing is the importance of brand consistency. I admit that I didn’t really have that until recently. I had an Etsy shop that kept changing names, a blog that was called “Rambling Julie”, a Facebook page that changed names as often as the Etsy shop and a pseudonym that had nothing to do with any of those things. To solve that whole messy situation, I knew I had to come up with a name I could use for my writing, jewelry, and social media platforms. That’s why I came up with Lidancie Arts. For more information on the origin of that name, you can read “A Much Needed Name Change.”

To keep that consistent flow going, I’ve changed the name of this blog from “Rambling Julie” aka “JulieAnn’s Voice” to Lidancie Arts. I was even clever enough to redirect traffic from my old WordPress blog to this site. I think I’m getting better at this marketing stuff…

Using bitly and Hootsuite

I’ve done some casual online marketing of my writing and jewelry in the past, but it was infrequent and ineffective. A few weeks ago, I decided it was past time I change that and fully engage in marketing myself online. To that end, I created bitly links to all of my jewelry listings and my writer profile. I then started using Hootsuite to write and schedule posts throughout the day that includes those bitly links. I use Hootsuite’s bulk message uploader, which requires using Excel to set up a spreadsheet of posts and then upload that file to Hootsuite. I could write the posts in Hootsuite if I wanted to, but I’ve found the Excel spreadsheet approach easier.

Writing every post

I start every day by opening Excel and modifying the previous day’s spreadsheet for a new day of posts. I re-use some posts and tweak a few things here and there, or I write entirely new posts. My point is that I write every single post that appears on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook. I’m not paying anyone else to do it because that’s just not who I am. Even if I could pay some marketing firm to handle my social media marketing, I wouldn’t do it. I am the creator of my writing and my jewelry and I know my work better than anyone else does. I feel it’s only right that I take personal responsibility for marketing my own creations.

What exactly I’m “selling”

If you follow me on any of my social media channels, you probably know by now that I’m a freelance writer and jewelry designer/creator. I feel I should elaborate on both of those elements because tweets and status updates can only convey so much.

Freelance Writer

As a freelance writer, I’m currently working primarily for a site called Constant Content. This is an online content marketplace selling articles on a variety of topics. I write about interior design, landscaping, fitness, real estate, and much more. I write and post several new articles weekly and you can find them listed toward the bottom of my author profile. When I promote my freelance writing across social media, the bitly link at the end of the post leads to my Constant Content author profile, Lidancie Arts. I felt I should tell you that so you know exactly what you’re clicking on. I’m personally wary of clicking on unknown links so I understand if you are as well.

Buy Articles at Constant-ContentOriginal Articles. Constant-Content.

Jewelry Designer/Creator

I have been designing and creating handmade beaded jewelry for several years. I started my Etsy shop shortly after I began stringing beads together to make dangle earrings. My Etsy shop has undergone a few name changes but it’s now and will forever be LidancieArts, as it’s a team effort by my two daughters and myself. I hope to eventually include clay creations by my oldest daughter. She’s the “Dan” in Lidancie.

As the “Li” in Lidancie Arts, I am a self-taught jewelry maker. I learned everything I know from books, websites, YouTube videos, and experimentation. I make dangle earrings, post earrings, pendants, necklaces, and brooches.

I discovered my Native American ancestry a few years’ ago and have been exploring the raised beadwork of my Onondaga heritage ever since. There are countless Native American beaders that I admire and who grew up learning beadwork from their family members and they inspire me to continue exploring the craft.

I carefully bead all of my jewelry and they’re all my own original designs. I recently started using the two-needle beading technique and it has reinforced the quality of my beadwork. There have been times when I’ve had to take my completed creations apart and I can assure you that they’re very well made! Taking them apart is no easy feat, which speaks to my dedication to creating quality pieces.

Any link in my social media posts regarding my jewelry leads directly to the shop or the item/section advertised. Most social media outlets also show a picture of the item in question so you know exactly what you’re clicking on. I am always happy and willing to create custom pieces featuring desired designs, bead colors, gems, etc.

Why I do what I do

The fact is, to succeed as a freelance writer and jewelry designer/creator, I have to sell my creations. I’m a single mother, these two jobs are my primary sources of income, and so I must market myself. I quit my job as a secretary/receptionist in July of 2013 and I quickly discovered just how much work it is being self-employed. I’ve had high and low moments and sometimes it feels like a constant struggle, but it’s all worth it because I did it to have more time with my two daughters. Working from home means I can run down to school if they need something (I only live three minutes away) and that I don’t have to find babysitters for them during their school breaks. I get them on the bus every morning and pick them up from school when it’s my days to have them during the week. Children grow up far too fast and I cherish every moment I have with my daughters. Doing what I do has strengthened my relationship with my girls and made me a stronger person.

If this strong, independent woman has to shout from the hilltops on social media every day to make her dreams come true, then that’s exactly what she’ll do!

A Much Needed Name Change

lidancie-arts-logo

For some time now, I’ve felt the need to change my business name to something that better incorporates not just my creativity, but my daughters’ creativity as well. Moreover, I wouldn’t be who I am without my daughters because they inspire me and motivate me to be the best version of myself. Having more time with my daughters and being there for them more were the main reasons I quit my office job to work from home as a freelance writer and jewelry maker. Everything important in my life involves my girls and I wanted my business name to reflect that.

Changing the name from Corbin Creations by JulieAnn or just Corbin Creations in no way diminishes the role my father and my last name play in my life. My father’s spirit remains in my life and I’m forever proud to have Corbin as my last name. Nonetheless, I’d started to feel like the name sounded more like I was creating Corbins. While I did give birth to two daughters, their last name isn’t Corbin. The other version of a Corbin is a sharp-bladed weapon and I definitely don’t make those. It was time for a change.

It took quite a bit of brainstorming before I arrived at the idea of creating a name that incorporated some part of my name and each of my daughter’s names. I typed all of our names out and combined them in different ways until I came up with Lidancie. It takes “Li” from my name of Julie, “Dan” from Jordan, and “Cie” from Jaycie. I felt making all but the first letter lowercase made more sense than LiDanCie. I changed Creations to Arts because the girls and I dabble in various creative arts including beading, sewing, writing, painting and polymer clay work.

For now, you can find my beaded creations on LidancieArts on Etsy, but keep an eye out for new additions. I hope to start incorporating some of the creations made by my oldest daughter, Jordan, as she’s very talented with polymer clay and with a needle and thread. Jaycie enjoys painting and I’m going to see if she’s interested in painting some wooden inlays for my beaded earrings. We’re all good at different arts and they often overlap and blend in wondrous ways. I’m confident that Lidancie Arts and everything it represents will be around for a very long time!

When the Muse Strikes…

Nagrand in Outland screenshot by JulieAnn Corbin

This is where my new stories begin…

Many moons ago I was prolific fantasy novel writer. I’d spend hours writing away to create my fantasy characters, world and stories. Then life threw me one curveball after another and as I’ve never been good at sports, I threw in the towel and my muse went poof!

I’ve tried several times over the past few years to start writing again and I’ve had minimal success. It just didn’t come easy anymore and I became frustrated. Well I’m happy to report that the muse has finally struck again and she’s struck hard! The source of my muse surprised me somewhat and might not be the traditional inspiration method, but I’m not going to question it.

The inspiration for my latest bout of writing is the online game called World of Warcraft. I’ve been playing Warcraft on and off since The Burning Crusade expansion and the first time I played it, I was hooked. What hooked me were the beautiful settings, interesting quest stories, character appearances and of course, the ability to kick butt as a hunter, paladin, warrior, warlock, mage, druid, rogue, etc. I never played dungeons and dragons so this type of game playing was new to me and in many ways I’m still a “newb” but playing WoW is a great escape from reality at the end of a long workday.

A few months ago, I started wondering more about the characters I created and thinking up backstories for them in my head. I thought what if my blood elf paladin, warlock or hunter did this? What if they met up with this different race? What if this happened to them? Before I knew it, I had thought up several chapters’ worth of stories and I began writing the outline so I didn’t forget the details. My first story revolves around my paladin, my second around my warlock and my third around my hunter and as they’re all sisters, they’ll eventually all meet up and combine into a single storyline.

Warcraft hunter with moose pet by JulieAnn Corbin

My hunter and her moose pet.

 

Paladin warcraft by JulieAnn Corbin

My paladin looking fierce.

 

warlock with demon by JulieAnn corbin

My warlock, her demon and her floating skull “weapon.” You know there’s a story here!

Although some writers may see writing fanfiction about an online game “cheating” because all of the settings and history already exist, I don’t see it that way. I still plan on describing my scenes for those who don’t know Warcraft and giving background information on races. I want this to feel like a truly flushed out story with relatable characters so that even those who don’t play the game will understand. I’ve been playing these female characters in the game for years and as soon as I thought of the stories that involved male characters, I made some male characters for the first time ever. I must admit that playing a male character in the game is somewhat empowering as only I and very few others know that I’m a woman.

Warcraft hunters by JulieAnn Corbin

Some of my characters chatting it up.

 

Dk and and Pally by JulieAnn Corbin

A pair of my characters.

As with all my stories, these Warcraft based stories are filled with action, adventure, drama and romance. Best of all, whenever I need a bit more inspiration, I can hop on the game for a bit and have a new adventure the fuels future stories. The ability to actually step into the world of a book character is truly unique and apparently, exactly what I needed to get my muse back. Only Warcraft players will get this but…for Azeroth! 😉

Flipping Pages Down Memory Lane

Xmen comic books by JulieAnn Corbin

Some of my comic book collection.

When I was in middle school and high school, I collected and read comic books. The comic books I collected were mostly X-Men related and included Classic X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, Excalibur, X-Force, New Warriors and so on. The artwork, stories and characters drew me in and helped me escape the daily routine of being a teenager. Comic books also helped inspire my writing and gave me ideas for all sorts of magical characters.

The other day I decided to finally bring my boxes of comic books up from my basement. I knew exactly where they were as I’d looked through them a few times and I gathered all three heavy shoeboxes to carry them upstairs. I then brought them into my bedroom and spread them out on the floor space of my recently-tidied room to look them over. Looking through all those comic books, even just seeing the covers, brought back tons of memories and I felt like a teenager again. I could remember how I felt when I first read those comic books, where I was in my life, what my dreams were and so much more! I was flipping pages down memory lane and I felt girlishly giddy!

Looking through the comic books and feeling happy about everything I was reading and seeing opened my eyes to the truth. Even though some of my teen years were rough, those comic books didn’t make me think of those times, they just made me feel happy. They weren’t tainted by the ghosts of my past; they were reminders of an innocence that still lives inside me. Although I don’t have mutant powers like the X-Men and all their spinoff teams, I do have my own form of superpowers and they’ve gotten me through a lot in my life. I’m in a really good place in my life right now and I’m learning that some parts of the past can remain in the past and don’t have the power to hurt me anymore.

As I tucked the boxes of comic books under my bed last night, I smiled as I thought about how much my oldest daughter will enjoy reading them. She can make her own memories with them and find her own inspiration for her writing and artwork. What we gain from comic books may be different but loving them is a tie that binds.

Batty for Beading

Halloween beaded bat earrings by JulieAnn CorbinBeaded bat earrings available in my CorbinCreations1 Etsy shop

Halloween decorations fill the stores this time of year and I love to see all the spooky cats, witches, owls, haunted houses and of course, bats. I love bats, black cats, the moon and witchcraft-like magic year-round but October is when everyone else seems to love it too.

In the continued spirit of embracing October and Halloween especially, I’ve been working on beaded Halloween earrings all this week. I actually started last week with some prototype beaded bat earrings that came out quite cute.

Just like every new pair of earrings I make in a different style that I haven’t quite mastered, I learned several things while making the beaded bat earrings. As every beader knows, a lot of blood, sweat and tears go into every beaded creation. The blood comes from repeatedly poking fingers and thumbs with sharp beading needles. The sweat (for me anyway) comes from trying to choose the right bead color combinations and materials. The tears sometimes come from the same thing that causes the blood and/or from periodic frustration when thread tangles, needles break and beads go scattering.

The final version of the bead embroidery bat earrings I designed and made feature a central acrylic jet black bead, size 15 seed beads, larger beads for the eyes and bicone crystals for the ears. Although I drew the design for the prototype earrings on the felt, I eyeballed the beading design for the finished bats to avoid any visible lines on the black felt. To keep the earrings light, I backed them with black Ultrasuede, which is a high-quality faux suede. I have several types of black leather and suede, but their thickness would make the earrings overly heavy so I chose the faux suede. Black metal hooks seemed the logical choice and overall, I love how they turned out!

Now I’m just waiting for the right person to adopt these adorable bat earrings and proudly wear them this Halloween season. I made some Halloween-themed beaded round earrings that sold this past Sunday and just completed a pair of beaded witch shows yesterday, which sold quite fast! If you like either of these styles, drop me a note and I’ll happily make you a pair!

Halloween earrings by JulieAnn Corbin

Rounds of Halloween earrings sold 10/2/16.

witch shoe earrings by JulieAnn Corbin

Halloween Witch Shoes earrings sold 10/5/16

I also made some adorable witch hat earrings that are available in my shop. I’ve been wearing a pair of them with the bats (I have three earring holes in each ear) and I must say, I feel very in the Halloween spirit!

I’m continuing to work on more Halloween earrings as I embrace and welcome October and every delightfully spooky detail!

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!

Wrong forecast, right day

spring dawn by JulieAnn Corbin

For the past few weeks if the forecast calls for overcast skies and/or rain, it’s pretty certain it will be overcast and/or rain. Even if the forecast doesn’t call for such conditions, it’s pretty certain they’ll arrive. Yesterday the forecast said fog in the morning then clearing and becoming mostly sunny. Well, it was certainly foggy in the morning but it never really cleared and I can count the times I saw the sun through the clouds on one hand. On top of that, the predicted high was 55 and it only got up to 46. I was rather bummed because I really wanted to see the sun after days of cloudiness and rain.

I didn’t have much hope for seeing the sun today as when I checked the forecast last night it was predicting rain and clouds all day long. However, when I woke up this morning, the sky appeared brighter than usual and lo and behold, when I looked out the window, I could see the sun! I was so happy I almost did a little dance! I managed to control myself though and went about the usual morning duties of waking the girls, making their breakfasts, packing their lunches and seeing them safely on the bus to school. You can bet I was smiling the whole time though!

plum tree in country by JulieAnn Corbin

Plum tree, my back yard and the farmer’s field beyond.

After I did a couple freelance blog posts, the clouds had returned but the forecast had changed from all day rain to chance of scattered thunderstorms. I considered that a vast improvement! As it wasn’t raining yet when I finished my work, I decided to tackle cleaning up and arranging my backyard bird oasis. I started the bird oasis two springs ago and every year it’s in the same spot, but always a little different. I put a little fence up around my bird feeder poles and I set planters of flowers around them with a fountain/bird bath in there somewhere.

After mowing the grass that had grown a foot tall around the formerly fenced border of the bird oasis, I then arranged the area, put the little fence pieces back in the ground and filled the fountain/bird bath. Unfortunately, when I turned the fountain on, it didn’t work so I’ll need to buy a new pump to get it running again. Not a big issue and the fountain can serve as a water holder for now. True to form, I hung my bird feeders, crouched down to fix a few things and then stood up whacking my head on the bottom of one of the feeders. I just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do that at least once and it’s usually more than once…

backyard bird oasis by JulieAnn Corbin

Needs a few more flowers and feeders but otherwise good!

I usually move all of my bird feeders off the deck and into the backyard bird oasis, but I’ve grown so fond of watching the birds out my desk window that I’ll be leaving some on my deck this year. That means I have to get a few more for the oasis, but there are two hanging back there now and the finches have already found them and started feasting.

Once the bird oasis was arranged, I had some lunch and then took Jazz for our daily walk. The sun popped out a few times as we walked, which helped warm the day up further. After the walk I eagerly spread the comforter out on my deck swing, grabbed my beading supplies and settled out on the swing to focus on beading up flower earrings. I hooked Jazzmin up to the lead I attached to the deck and as it’s long enough for her to sit in the grass next to the driveway, she happily stayed there watching for squirrels.

Beading on that swing with the birds eating at the nearby feeders and Jazz on squirrel patrol nearby is one of my new favorite past times and I beaded away blissfully for a couple hours until I realized it was past dinner time. I wasn’t especially hungry yet, but I figured Jazz was so I brought her inside and got her dinner before assembling my own. Once I was done eating, I was back out on the swing, refusing to waste a single moment of warmth and periodic sunshine after being trapped inside for so many days lately.

beaded flowers by JulieAnn Corbin

My beaded flowers and new bead mail. Tons of happiness!

Eventually the sky turned rather dark, the temperature dropped and it started to sprinkle as a little rain cloud passed over so I decided it was time to call it a day and head inside the house. I took my beads inside and then went back out to fold up the comforter to bring inside and I realized that my cheeks were sore because I’d been smiling so much while I was beading. My mind, body and spirit had really needed the warmer temperatures, sunshine and fresh air that I got a huge dose of today and although the forecast had been wrong, the day had gone very right!

A foggy lens

image

Yesterday I accidentally dropped my smartphone into the tub. Don’t ask how or why, I just did. I grabbed it out of the water almost immediately and was relieved to see that it still appeared to be working. Over the next few hours I realized that some moisture had found its way inside as the Sim card temporarily stopped working and needed some drying out. The phone also briefly thought I had headphones plugged in when I didn’t but otherwise it seemed fine.

Yesterday evening I was out walking with Jazz and my daughters and we came upon a raccoon in a tree. Something had woken it up and it was outside its tree hole home looking rather tired and confused. As I almost always do when I see something unusual or interesting, I pulled out my smartphone to take a picture. When the camera feature came up the picture was all foggy and when I looked closer at the camera lens I could see wetness inside it. My heart sunk.

I love taking pictures and even though no one sees a majority of them because they’re not overly interesting, the idea of not being able to take them with my conveniently handy phone was discouraging. I was unable to take a picture of the raccoon even as it looked out at us from its tree hole home on our way back and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to take pictures with my phone ever again.

Following some helpful advice, I turned my phone off and placed it in a bag of rice last night. I left it in that bag overnight and when I awoke this morning, I took it out of the bag and eagerly turned it back on. Once it fully booted up, I accessed the camera app and was thrilled to see that the lens was clear and free of the foggy moisture. The bag of rice had done the trick!

I was anxious to take a picture now that I could so I snapped a few shots when I put Jazzmin out this morning. I was able to capture the half moon in a turbulent sky and that made me very happy because I love the moon.

It’s fair to say that I’ve learned my lesson and will be keeping my phone away from tubs from now on. The upside of the experience was that I realized I’m more passionate about photography than I thought and that I need to keep taking pictures even if I’m the only one who ever seen them.

Little gifts, big meaning

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Card and gift from my daughters.

I received all my favorite birthday gifts yesterday: time with my daughters and my mom, well wishes from friends, a handmade card from my girls and a hand sewn stuffed owl from my oldest daughter, Jordan and a little moola from my mom to buy whatever I wanted. It was a truly wonderful day!

Such a wonderful day went far too fast but I enjoyed every moment and that’s what counts. I even provided a little after dinner entertainment for my family when I tripped my way into the kitchen with my usual Julie “grace.” If grace and poise is supposed to come with age, it’s not happening in my case, but I’m okay with that. My clumsiness is one of my most endearing qualities. 😉

Before I settled in for a day of college work, I headed to the closest bead store to buy supplies for a recent butterfly barrette order. The bead store is like paradise to me and I had a hard time choosing only what I needed. I managed to make it out of there spending only my budget consisting of birthday money and the down payment on the barrette and that was truly a miracle!

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So many beads to choose from!

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Today's bead haul.

Now that my work is done for the day, I’ve settled on the couch to do some beading and watch some Netflix and I can already tell that being 38 is going to be awesome!

The Power of Music

On my drive back from my latest trip to New England, I heard a song played on one of the many radio stations I scanned through when my smartphone didn’t have a strong enough signal to stream Spotify. It was new to me, but probably not new to the radio and I instantly loved it. It reminded me of the late 80’s and early 90’s pop music I grew up with and it was upbeat and perky, just like me!

After listening to the song a few times on different stations, I finally learned that it was Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon. I’d never heard of Walk the Moon, but then there’s a lot of current artists I don’t know because I rarely listen to actual radio stations. When I went on YouTube to watch the video for the song I was extremely happy to see that it went along perfectly with the song. So many music videos these days are weird or totally ruin the meaning of the song, but the video for Shut Up and Dance was spot on with a very 80’s look and feel. Having grown up during that era, it’s rather odd to see it all coming back, but odd in a good way.

I finally remembered to get the Walk the Moon album with the song I liked on it yesterday and I’ve been listening to a handful of the songs on repeat ever since. Overall, there’s only 3-4 songs off the album that mesh with my tastes, but the ones I do like, I REALLY like! How can you tell when I really like a new song? Well, it makes me dance in my car, dance around my kitchen while cleaning it and dance while painting.

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I hadn’t painted a new picture in several months but the new music was exactly what I needed to kick my inspiration into gear. It felt so wonderful putting brush to canvas and smearing acrylic colors all over the place! Painting is a very freeing experience for me and I always listen to upbeat music while doing it. As I already said, I dance to the music when I paint and I also have my living room curtains open so anyone driving by can see me if they look in. I don’t particularly care though as I imagine I’m already known as the “peculiar single woman who walks her yellow dog a lot” by most of the people in my neighborhood.

All that matters to me is that the power of music can lift my spirit and my feet and spark my creativity in the best way!

Opening a very dusty door

door in stone wall

Image courtesy of Panoramio.com

Though my next term at SNHU online doesn’t officially start until Monday, the blackboard for the class has been open for a while. I chose not to look at it before today because I wanted to enjoy my break from schoolwork. My next course is Intro to Creative Writing and after taking two Composition classes back to back, I figured I’d really enjoy doing some creative writing. While I’m sure I will actually enjoy creative writing, I admit that it’s a door to an area of my writing that I haven’t opened in a very long time.

I do peak in that creative writing “room” every now and then when I try to write in Unbroken Flames, but the last time I cracked open that rusty, dusty door, the hinges squeaked horribly and I quickly closed it again when I realized I don’t even remember what tense I used to write in! I got a few sentences of writing done and tried to read back through it only to discover that I kept switching tenses. Maybe I’ve always done that and only now realize it after taking composition classes. Whatever the case, I was dismayed to see just how much of my creative writing abilities I’ve lost.

The first module in Intro to Creative Writing deals with writing poetry that focuses on imagery. Admittedly, I’ve never considered poetry my strong point and when it comes to imagery, I do too much or too little. Regardless, I’m certain that this course is exactly what I need right now, as I hope to get back into writing Unbroken Flames and maybe even finish it this year! I have so many stories that I’ve only shared with a handful of people and I’d love if more people read my fiction works and enjoyed them. I may be 37, but most days I still feel like that 12-year-old girl who started scribbling about magic and adventure in college-ruled spiral notebooks just to get the overflowing ideas out of my head! If all goes well, that overflow of ideas will return and help me break down the dusty door to the creative writing room within me.

Better to be odd…

better to be odd and memorable

I’ve been called odd more than once in my life, several times in fact. But that’s okay, I like being odd, it’s way better than being normal and boring. 

What makes me odd? Well I suppose that’s a matter of perspective and I’ll let you make up your own mind.

I’m not materialistic, never have been, never will be. My favorite stores to shop at are craft stores, not big name, fancy clothing stores. I need to create things with my own two hands, not garb my body in the latest trends. My idea of a “mani and pedi” is trimming and painting my own nails. When I buy shoes, it’s because I need shoes, not because I couldn’t resist some latest style. Considering most of the “stylish” shoes these days are skyscrapers heels I can’t even walk in, I won’t be in style ever. When I replace my phone, it’s because something on it is broken, not because I want the latest and greatest gadget. My service provider is Virgin Mobile because they’re the cheapest for everything I need without an expensive contract where everything seems a la carte.

While I’m a big fan of romantic comedies, my favorite movies are the Star Wars movies and my favorite show is Star Trek The Next Generation. Yes, I love both Star Wars and Star Trek and I see no need to pick one I like more than the other because they both have merit to me. I’ve read The Hobbit and don’t understand why they felt the need to make a zillion movies out of such a short book. I adore Marvel comic book movies and can recite The Avengers almost line by line. I can also recite almost every line in The Princess Bride and any true fan of that movie knows that’s not such an “Inconceivable!” thing. 😉

When I first meet people, I tend to be shy but once I’m comfortable, my blunt sarcastic side comes out. I come up with some zingers that surprise even me sometimes. I talk a LOT and have even had someone else press their finger to my lips more than once to stop my rambling. I’m also a great listener and loyal friend to those few who truly understand me and don’t want to change me. I don’t want to be changed because I love who I am, frizzy wavy hair, clumsiness, wit, geekiness, rambling and all.

Last night I was told I was odd yet again and from that, I came up with a little bit of insight. I realized that my peculiarities make me rather unique and impossible to forget. I bet there are people I met years ago that I haven’t talked to in forever that still remember me even if they don’t want to. To that I say, “Better to be odd and memorable than normal and forgettable.” And you can quote me on that. 😉

Those who can’t teach, do

blue and red abstract painting

My final painting of the night. Not my usual style.

Recently I’ve been sucked into a game called Trivia Crack thanks to my fellow SNHU students. It was mentioned on the online student social media platform and now many of the connections I have on there are playing it. Well, I suppose they could have been playing it for years, but I only just learned about it.

While I enjoyed Trivial Pursuit to a degree, eventually everyone would get tired of playing it and we’d name a winner before all the pie pieces were won. I often surprised myself with the random bits of information I’d know that helped me answer questions. Thankfully, Trivia Crack doesn’t take nearly as long as Trivial Pursuit, though I’m finding it just as mentally challenging…and frustrating.

Ridiculously enough, my worst category is Art, followed closely by Sports which isn’t a big shocker. My best topic is Entertainment which makes sense because I know all sorts of random movie and television trivia. Nonetheless, my lack of “knowledge” in the Art category perturbed me. I do consider myself an artist but no, I don’t know a whole lot about art history and such. According to the game Leonardo, Michelangelo and Picasso were all left-handed, but I’ve found some websites that dispute that. Either way, I refused to let a trivia game get me down so I decided that since I could never teach Art or Art History, I’d paint some art in the art present. There’s that saying “Those who can’t do, teach” so I just reversed it to “Those who can’t teach, do.” I’m clever like that…

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My first creation of the night.

I haven’t created any new paintings in many months but tonight felt like a good time. I cranked up my music, got out my paints, prepped three canvases, chose the colors, selected several brushes, and went to town. I’m reasonably satisfied with my creations, especially since I’m rusty, and it was a very enjoyable experience. Painting reassured me that I still have that creativity inside me even if I don’t know the name of Picasso’s second cousin’s best friend’s cat. 😉

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My second painting of the night.