A New Appreciation for Frank Lloyd Wright

 

Frank Lloyd Wright

Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright

For those of you who don’t know, I’m taking online courses from Southern New Hampshire University to get a degree in Communications. I’ve been going for many years and I’ve been through various ups and downs, but I’ve managed to maintain my A average. Well, this last term that ended last week had me worried that I might actually fail a course. The course was a fine arts course called Modernism and the first week’s assignments had me very confused and I was struggling with the ideas of modernism and art history. I received low grades the first week and I was disheartened.

I shared my struggles with my close circle of friends and they all insisted that I’d pass just fine and probably with flying colors. I appreciated the support, but I didn’t entirely believe them. As is true often in my life though, I was underestimating myself and sure enough, the class soon clicked for me and I took my grade from a C to an A. I was soon receiving perfect grades every week and I was impressed by how my brain was actually learning new things.

What made me the most happy was working on my final project. We had to do a Modernism exhibition and I chose to focus on Frank Lloyd Wright because I’d always loved his architecture. I found so much interesting information on him that I could’ve written a book, but I limited my exhibition to just under 20 slides. I’m so proud of my accomplishment in the course and of my work on the project that I’m now sharing it with you (with SNHU’s permission of course). I hope you enjoy it!

Frank Lloyd Wright

 

Clever, Crafty, and Creative Wonder!

crafty girl

Jordan painting wooden centers for my earrings.

My oldest daughter turns 15 today. Just typing that out I’m in disbelief! It seems like I just gave birth to her moments ago, but obviously that’s not the case. She’s been a blessing since the day she was born and she continues to develop into an amazing young woman.

Along with my brown hair and eyes, Jordan has inherited by artistic nature. Although in her, it’s magnified far more than the talents I possess. She’s a great painter, drawer, writer, sculptor, and musician and she’s far smarter than I was at her age, or even than I am now. She’s always on the highest honor roll in school and she uses her clever and intelligent mind in constantly evolving ways.

She loves to paint in both small and large forms and her freehand abilities with a brush astound me. She’s painted a map of her fantasy world on her bedroom walls and she’s paint quotes from favorite movies and shows that further express what makes her tick. I’ve been asking her for over a year to draw or paint some centers for my earrings and over the last couple months she’s painted several wooden centers that I’m looking forward to beading around. Her steady hand and uniquely creative mind helps her design and implement artistry that is both intricate and fun.

Jordan has also inherited my sarcasm, wit, curiosity, and sense of humor. Although really, I can’t take full credit for that that because she has her own personality and individuality. I’m happy to say that Jordan and I get along very well, which isn’t always the case with parents and children with similar personalities. I’m also very happy that she’s not like “typical” teenage girls in that she’s not interested in any of the high school drama, has no interest in boys (unlike me at her age), and is more intent on enjoying her life than getting caught up in teenage stuff. She’s mature beyond her years and I count myself extremely lucky that she’s my daughter.

Jordan makes me laugh, she makes me think, and she makes me proud to call her my daughter. She’s a wonderful older sister to Jaycie and both encourages her and keeps her on her toes. Being Jordan’s mother inspires me to be the best version of myself because that’s what she does every single day. I love my clever, crafty, and creative wonder!

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!

Beading and snuggles 

I received some wonderful holiday gifts this year in the form of nearly selling out my CorbinCreations1 Etsy store jewelry and receiving an order for several pairs of custom earrings. As my goal is to make my jewelry business successful, I’d  say I’m on the right track.

 
Every beader has their own unique setup and I’m no different. I can’t work hunched over a desk or table because it would kill my back so instead, my beading station is my couch. I have rolling storage cubbies nearby full of my supplies, a tray to hold odds and ends like scissors and thread, my coffee table as my work station and my beading “desk.” 

My beading desk is a flower encyclopedia with a ceramic beading tray held in place by a sticky bead mat. I used to use the sticky mat to hold my beads but it required frequent cleaning to keep it grippy. Now that it’s sandwiched between my bead dish and the book, my beads stay put and I have the perfect size work surface. 

A benefit and drawback of sitting on my couch to bead is that my cats and dog always want to snuggle with me. My two younger cats, Angel and Daisy, try to lay on my beading table because they want to be close to me. When I won’t let them do that, they lay on or next to my legs and feet. 

Sometimes my pup Jazzmin wants to snuggle too but she’s good about tucking herself between the back of the couch and my legs. My oldest cat Owl lays on the arms or back of the couch because she likes being near me but isn’t much of a snuggler.

As it’s now winter in Upstate NY, it’s nice having animals snuggling with me, keeping me company as I bead. I’m never cold when they’re snuggling with me and sometimes I’m even too warm. Nonetheless, having pets that love me and want to be near me as I bead is just as wonderful as continued success selling my beaded jewelry. Beading and snuggles make the chill and darkness of winter much easier to handle. 

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!

The Power of Sitting Still

downy woodpecker by JulieAnn Corbin

Yesterday was a bright, beautiful, sunny spring day so I decided to sit out on my deck swing in the afternoon. The swing is rather large and can fold down flat into a bed, something I used to do more often when I wanted to take naps outside on nice days. The swing was a Mother’s Day gift many years ago when I was still married and although it wasn’t easy to relocate from my ex’s house to mine, I wasn’t about to leave it behind.

Due to daily assault from sun, wind, rain and sometimes snow, I’ve already had to replace the seat cushion and the original canopy ripped through a couple years’ ago. The current seat cushion is starting to rip too so I cover it with a bedspread when I sit out there and a few days ago I had the clever idea of using plastic tablecloths as a new canopy. I’ve used a sheet in the past but that doesn’t keep the rain off if it’s sprinkling lightly and I want to stay outside, but the plastic tablecloths offer some protection, come in various colors and patterns and are easy to replace when they wear out. Jordan helped me put on the two new plastic tablecloths I purchased from the dollar store yesterday and I attached them to the canopy frame with some tablecloth clips and duct tape. Never underestimate the power of ingenuity and duct tape!

After placing a nice, thick, seashell-themed bedspread on the slightly ripped seat cover, I sat down on my swing and enjoyed the gentle rocking motion in the warm sunshine. I had a small notebook with me to jot down ideas for my jewelry designs and business plan and so I opened that up and started writing things out in cursive. I usually print my writing, but I periodically write in cursive so I don’t lose a writing ability that schools don’t seem to want to teach anymore. Both my printing and cursive are nearly impossible to read because I’m left handed and my teachers didn’t know how to teach a lefty, but I can usually decipher it or make it more legible when I write slower.

As I was writing, I started hearing little scraping sounds on the deck railing and I looked up to see a downy woodpecker hop-flying from one railing post to the next in an effort to creep closer to the suet feeder without me noticing. I have the frame from a child-size cushioned swing on my deck and although the seat part is gone, I hang bird feeders from the frame so I can see the birds when I looked out the window next to my desk. My cats love sitting on top of the bookshelf by that window to watch “Bird TV” too.

Sitting on the deck mere feet from the feeders, I continued to watch the male downy with his spot of red on the back of his head and I remained very still as I watched. He eventually felt confident enough to fly to the suet and begin eating and I smiled, happy to be able to watch a bird so closely.

A few minutes later Jaycie came outside and wanted to sit in the swing with me. She sat down next to me and I told her that if she sat very still, the woodpecker or other birds might come back and eat. Although Jaycie managed to sit quiet and still for a few minutes, no birds came to the feeders and she eventually grew bored and went down the deck steps to swing on the swing set (her favorite outdoor activity.) I didn’t really expect my 9 year old to be patient enough to wait for birds, but I’m sure someday she’ll appreciate the merit of sitting still.

Eventually Jaycie went back inside the house and I remained on the swing, writing in my little notebook. The longer I sat there, the more comfortable all sorts of birds became with me and within an hour, there were chickadees, nuthatches, sparrows, goldfinches, purple finches, blue jays, and downy woodpeckers frequenting the feeders. A pair of cardinals flew into the nearby trees, but they weren’t brave enough to come to the feeders and the male chose to sit in a branch and scold me for daring to sit near his feeders.

Although I wasn’t sitting perfectly motionless because I continued to write in my notebook, the birds were no longer as afraid of me and I could quietly observe them as they came and went from the feeders. Chickadees are by far the bravest birds and a couple of them came to the feeder hanging on the big swing frame within arm’s reach of where I sat. Someday I hope the chickadees trust me enough to eat from my hands, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure with patience and perseverance, it will.

sparrow goldfinch and nuthatch by JulieAnn Corbin

Goldfinch on top left feeder, sparrow on middle blue feeder and nuthatch on deck below feeders.

Sitting still on a swing may seem like a waste of time to some people who feel the need to always be on the go, but to me it’s a necessity. I need my quiet time in nature to recharge my spirit and refocus my energy. Moreover, I was still being productive as I worked on ideas for my jewelry and practiced the dying art of cursive. You don’t always have to be moving and in a rush to accomplish great things, sometimes taking some time to sit still can carry you further on your journey than you imagine.

Little gifts, big meaning

image

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!

image

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!

A little something

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I’ve finally been able to do some beading the past few days and even that little something is a big thing! In the past when I’ve been sick, I’ve still had the energy to at least sit on the couch and bead, but with this bronchitis, I’ve only had the energy to focus on one thing and that’s been either taking care of my girls or working. Today I managed to find energy for my girls, my work, and my beading and that made me much happier! I still needed an afternoon nap, but I wake up feeling a little better every day and I’m hoping that soon I’ll be able to work out again. I’ve grown tired of feeling like a tired lump and I’m eager to feel animated and energetic again!

Why do beads excite me so?

For tonight’s blog, I decided to post the very first assignment I received during last term’s Intro to Creative Writing class. The prompt was to write a poem that addressed a burning why question and after quite a bit of thought, this is what I came up with. Poetry is not my strong point, but I did my best and received a decent grade for my efforts. Enjoy!

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3 cut beads

Why do beads excite me so?

The sight of beads excites me
Because their myriad of colors
Ignite the fire of creativity in my spirit
The way writing used to do
Long ago before my muse departed.

Within those small, round
And perfectly polished pieces
Of colored glass
I see the potential to create
Artwork, jewelry, embellishments
That glimmer with life in sunlight.

Opening the latest delivery
Filled with shiny bead bags, hanks, and tubes
Of new unique hues, tiny sizes, and sparkling finishes
Sends feelings of warmth and eagerness
Through my entire body
As my mind begins to turn.

Shall I create a new pattern?
A beaded picture captured
In a bracelet, barrette, pendant, or earrings
Where each colored bead
Works like paint on a palette.

Or shall I just choose colors?
Cool blues, fiery reds, refreshing yellows
Calming greens, regal purples, earthy browns
Start weaving with needle and thread
Through suede or felt
Until what I see in my mind
Appears in my hands.

The smooth feel of beads relax me
The tiny percussive sound of beads energize me
The spills that send them
Scattering across table and floor
Excite me in undesirable ways
As I’m certain I’ll never find them all.

Beading is my meditation
My Zen garden in a world of chaos
A way to regain focus and calm
Shut out the frantic fears
Of a writer who lives in doubt
That my patterns of words
Will never again be as beautiful
As my beaded creations.

A quiet start to an amazing New Year

fireplace in luxury cabin

How I’ll spend New Year’s Eve in my dream home/cabin in New England someday. 😉 Image courtesy of RedWolfFalls.com

It’s New Year’s Eve and I know there are tons of people with plans to attend fun parties with friends, family, and/or coworkers. I haven’t gone to any type of New Year’s Eve party in many years and while there are aspects I miss such as being with friends, I’m content to just stay home.

My daughters are off with their father to attend a friend’s party where there will be other children their age and lots of fun to be had via the Wii, board games, and other toys. I had them on New Year’s Eve last year and we just hung out at home and snuggled on my bed until midnight to watch the ball drop. I think the girls were asleep by then, heck I think I was half asleep by then.

I have some freelance writing projects to work on today and errands to run before I stop at my mom’s house for a visit and one of my notoriously long bubble baths. I’ll be leaving her house before it gets dark because I don’t want to be on the roads with party goers who might already be inebriated. Once home, I have a bottle of inexpensive sparkling wine to pop open (or twist the top off of), grocery store oriental for dinner, and a cheddar cheese ball to snack on amid beading, creating new paintings, and exploring a new area of craftsmanship I’ve been wanting to try for months. After that, I’ll be snuggled up on the couch with my circus of animals as the electric fireplace heater creates a warming glow.

It will be a quiet New Year’s Eve for me, but that’s okay because I know in my heart that 2015 is going to be an amazing year for me full of new accomplishments, opportunities, and exciting discoveries. Happy New Year!

The power of just being

famous quotes

Quote artwork from students at my daughters’ school

Today was a lovely day. There was a fresh “dusting” of four inches of light, fluffy snow this morning and the flurries continued during the day transforming the world into a snow globe every few hours. As the girls and I stayed in all day, I was fine with the snow falling and didn’t even mind the frigid temperatures in the teens. The power of just being with my daughters kept me warm all day long.

I am someone who has often struggled with relaxing and just being in the moment. I’m always thinking of what comes next, which is ridiculous because I can’t foresee the future. There’s nothing wrong with planning for the future, but stressing over it is a waste of time. Things have a way of always working out for the best and the power of just being confident in that is immensely freeing!

The more I explore my creativity to learn new skills and improve ones I already have, the more at peace I feel. I feel so closely connected to my own heart and spirit when I’m tapping into my creativity that it’s impossible for me to be anything but content and happy. I acquired some new canvases yesterday and I’m really looking forward to discovering who I am as a painter now because it’s not who I used to be. I used to be able to create my “masterpieces” in only a few minutes, but now it takes me a bit longer to find and express my inspiration. I’m certain that accepting the power of just being creative without wondering where it will take me will bring me to exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Never underestimate the power of just being you and exploring everything that makes you unique. As I’ve read from several inspirational quotes, there will always be someone in this world that needs exactly what you have to offer, so keep at it!