Turning “Old” Years Old

Senior Picture, 1995.

Me now in 2017. Not too bad for being “old.” 😉

This Sunday, June 4th, I’ll turn 40 years old. According to my 14-year-old daughter, I won’t be considered “old” until I’m 40. So I guess I’ll be enjoying my last couple of days of being “young.” I’m not upset with her for considering 40 old and I imagine I thought the same thing when I was her age. I think when I was her age the idea of turning 40 was beyond my comprehension, but now that’s it’s almost upon me, I’m not the least bit concerned about it.

When I was younger and I thought about turning 40, I expected that I’d have some big bash with all my friends and family. I will be going to lunch with my daughters and mother on my birthday but as my friends all live in different states, I won’t be seeing them. There won’t be a big 40th birthday party for me and I’m okay with that. I know how blessed I am to have my wonderful family and great friends. I’ll save the big bash for my 50th I guess. 😉

If you’d asked me in my teens where I thought I’d be at 40, I would have said happily married with children. Well the happily married didn’t work out, but I do have two amazing daughters that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I probably also would have said that I’d be a published fantasy author by now and that hasn’t happened either. Mind you, I haven’t exactly been trying to get anything published for the last couple of decades so the fault is my own. I also haven’t written much of my own work in the last decade despite my continuing desire to do so. Perhaps I’ll spend some time writing today to dust off that area of my brain before I become too “old” for such creative endeavors.

Honestly, age is just a number to me and I’ve felt that way for many years. I still have the same spark and energy that I had when I was a teenager, even if my body doesn’t always agree. I was a positive person in my teens, but I think I’m an even more positive person now because I’ve gone through so many life challenges and come out stronger. I know who I am and what I want far better than I did in my teens, 20’s and early 30’s and I’m sure my 40’s will bring me even greater self-awareness.

To all those young women (and men) out there who fear getting “old” and “aging” I want to say that fear will only hold you back. Embrace every day for the gift that it is and relish all the amazing moments in your life. Don’t waste time wishing to be older or younger, just love who you are and what makes you different, unique, and a force to be reckoned with.

Mom: My Favorite “Job” Title

waiting for bus

My girls waiting for the bus that comes before 7 a.m. They’re always so thrilled.

Mother’s Day as denoted on the calendar has come and gone, but for me, every day is Mother’s Day. Mom is my favorite “job” title and I know how blessed and fortunate I am to have two amazing daughters. I grew up wanting to get married and be a mom and once I became a mom, I knew it was the job for me. The wife part didn’t work out, but as I often say, having my girls is the best part of my life.

My oldest daughter has grown into an intelligent, clever, witty, and down-to-earth young woman. She’s not a “typical” 14 year-old girl as she doesn’t give a wit about boys and has no time for the drama that consumes some of her female friends’ lives. She loves to read books and is often reading 3-5 at a time. I don’t know how she does that because my brain wouldn’t be able to keep all the different stories straight! She and I are very much alike and like many of the same things. We have numerous “inside jokes” relating to things like World of Warcraft, The Lord of the Rings books and movies, Marvel movies, and too many other things to name. She and I get along very well and I’m so proud of whom she has become and whom she will continue to grow into.

My youngest daughter will never fit the “mold” of a girl her age and I’m fine with that. At 10 year’s old, she’s already my height (I’m 5’5”) and towers above most of her fifth grade classmates. She’s had developmental delays her entire life and she may always be “catching up” with others her age on certain things, but on other things, she’s ahead of the game. She’s very clever, has a great sense of humor, retains all sorts of interesting information about movies and toys she loves, and is very rarely mad or unhappy. Although she doesn’t like school and will probably never like it, she’s doing well and is lucky enough that our local school has a great support system for her. She and I are also close and I find her endless curiosity infectious at times.

Both of my daughters play musical instruments and have a great talent for music. My oldest plays flute, baritone saxophone, and piccolo and my youngest is a percussionist. I keep saying that I really need to start playing my bass guitar again so we can have our own little band, but it hasn’t happened yet. Hopefully someday I’ll get my act in gear but until then, they’re both doing wonderful in the school bands.

bridge in Honeoye NY

Exploring around town recently.

My world is full to overflowing thanks to my two daughters. I have custody of them for half the week and I cherish every moment I have with them. When I don’t have them, my life feels a little less full and I miss their sunshine. Nonetheless, I use the time when I don’t have them to get work, college, and household matters taken care of so I’m not distracted by such duties when I have my girls. We have been the triumphant trio for several years now and will continue to be so for the rest of time, even if distance eventually separates us. There’s no one else like them in the world and they’ve agreed that no one else has a mom like me. I think they mean that in a good way… 😉

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!

Love is a Year-Round Thing

 

red crystal heart

Although I’ve had my issues getting a handle on romantic love, I do have a great grasp of non-romantic love. The love I feel for my daughters, my family, my friends, nature, the world and the universe is as strong as ever. While marketing companies want people to believe that love is stronger and/or more important on certain dates, love is a year-round, lifetime thing.

When I was in romantic relationships, I always made the extra effort to make sure my partner knew how much I cared about them. Alas, such effort was rarely returned in kind. Regardless, if I am ever in a romantic relationship again I will continue to give better than I get because that’s how I am. Even without being in a romantic relationship, that’s how I am. I’m kind, caring and loving because it feels good and right to be so. I don’t do it for attention or rewards; I do it because it’s me.

Every year I’m amused when I see men and women crowding grocery stores at the last minute trying to find that perfect February 14th gift for their sweetheart. They snatch up chocolates, stuffed animals and flowers because Hallmark says they should and that if they don’t, they’re somehow failing in their relationship.

I realize there are men and women that fully expect certain gifts every year around this time and I used to be one of them many moons ago. Nowadays I’ve realized that if someone truly loves me then they show it year-round in how they treat me. A smile, a nice word, a text or email that shows they’re thinking about me are all things that indicate caring, at least in my book. I’ve learned to recognize the more subtle signs of caring and I think that’s an important thing in a world where holidays are sometimes taken way over the top.

So today, while many couples go out or stay in for romantic dinners, shower each other with gifts and indulge in other such things, I’m going to spend the day working on a gift for a dear friend, beading, writing and then enjoying time with my girls when they get home from school. The sun is shining and it’s supposed to get warm enough to melt some of the current snow so I have a lot to be grateful for and a lot to love.

How and Why I “Spoil” My Daughters

triumphant trio hands

From the day they were born, my girls have been my first priority. They are the best gifts I’ve ever received and my life would be incomplete without them. They continue to amaze me every day with their unique personalities and diverse talents and I know they both have bright futures ahead of them.

As I only have my daughters half of the week, I do my best to make the most of every moment with them. This involves “spoiling” them, but perhaps not in the way you think. I don’t shower them with gifts and let them get away with “murder” but I make sure they’re happy. I make their beds in the morning, I fold their clothes, I make their meals and I keep my home relatively tidy and clean. Do I assign them chores? No, I do not. Do I think this is stunting their growth or preventing them from developing into independent women? Not for a second. They’re kids and I want them to enjoy being kids for as long as possible.

I realize that there will come a day when my girls no longer live in my home and they’re out on their own making their own lives. I won’t have to make their beds or meals anymore or fold their clothing. I know I’ll miss it. While I want them to have their own fulfilling lives, I’m not looking forward to having a home devoid of my daughters. Therefore, I want us all to be happy during the years we’re living together.

In my almost 40 years of existence, I’ve discovered that the only way to learn how to exist on one’s own is to actually live on one’s own. As I went from living with my parents to living with my future husband/now ex-husband, I didn’t know what it meant to live alone until I was 34 years old when my separation agreement was filed and I moved into my own place. I lived in a townhouse-style apartment for a few months before moving into the home I have now. Experiencing days and nights without my girls was heartbreaking for several months. I was lonely and felt abandoned and lost.

I don’t want that for my girls. I don’t want them thinking that there’s something wrong with being on their own. Thus, I spoil them by showing them that a woman can take care of herself, be independent, maintain a home and achieve all sorts of amazing things without a partner in her life. I’ve learned a lot in my almost six years as a homeowner and my girls have seen me tackle all sorts of jobs on my own including fixing the furnace, staining the deck, mowing the lawn, sawing tree limbs and building a fire pit. When something needs doing, it’s up to me to do it and the more I succeed, the more they see what’s possible for their future.

Another way I spoil my daughters is by trying to be a good role model and setting the best example I can. I try very hard not to complain about feeling fat even if I’m feeling fat because I want them to always have a positive self-image. I want them to see that I love myself and my body (curves and all) and that I exercise and eat good food for health reasons and not because I want to look like some impossible standard set for woman by pictures in magazines and movie actors.

When the time comes for my girls to strike out on their own, I know that I’ll have done all I can to prepare them to tackle real world challenges. I’m not perfect by any means and I make mistakes, but I learn from those mistakes and I keep improving. I want my girls to know that no matter how “grown up” they get, they can always count on me to “spoil” them with advice, a listening ear or an extra hand for home maintenance tasks. We are and will always be a triumphant trio of powerful women.

A Different Path

image

My pup Jazzmin laying by my tree

I set my Christmas tree up today and it came out lovely, which made me quite happy. I’ve had the little fake tree for at least a couple decades so putting it together, fanning out the branches and hanging the lights on it is something I can almost do in my sleep. I usually put the tree up before Thanksgiving but I just didn’t have time this year. The mere fact that I can put the tree up whenever I want, even before Thanksgiving, is an empowering reminder of a freedom I didn’t have when I was married to a man who didn’t “allow” any holiday decorating until after Thanksgiving.

Without going into the gory details, I chose to divorce my now ex husband several years ago. I hadn’t been happy in our marriage for years and when my father died in 2009, I realized life was too short to remain miserable. The main reason I waited to seek divorce was because I didn’t want to have less time with my daughters, but when my unhappiness began affecting them, I knew I couldn’t keep pretending that everything was okay.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom. Even though my marriage to my daughters’ father ended, they were the best things to come out of it. My girls are my world, have been since they were born and I miss them when I don’t have them, but I’ve never regretted or had second thoughts about divorcing their father. We just weren’t a good fit and I couldn’t be myself married to him. Had I remained in that marriage I never would have discovered my own strength and everything else about me that makes me so unique. I also wouldn’t be as incredibly happy as I am today.

My divorce was finalized in the summer of 2011, over a year after I got a lawyer and started the process. My ex and I were married just a few days shy of 13 years. Moving out on my own for the first time in my life was both exciting and scary. Living in the same house with my now ex husband as we went through the divorce was a rough experience and when I got my own place, I finally felt like I could breathe again!

My ex and I split custody 50/50 and it took me at least six months to adjust to not having my girls all the time but eventually I remembered who I was when I wasn’t playing the mom role. I also remembered who I was before I started playing the role of dutiful wife. I didn’t have to worry about someone telling me what to do anymore or rearranging my stuff or making me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I was in charge of my life, my house and my actions and it felt amazing! It still feels amazing!

Although I’ve had a couple relationships since my divorce where we actually called each other boyfriend and girlfriend, they weren’t good fits. One was too soon after my divorce and one too late as I’ve now learned to love being on my own. I’ve also dealt with men whose less than honorable intentions gave me some trust issues. Regardless, I don’t expect to be single forever, but I haven’t found the right man for me yet and I have to do what’s right for me and my girls. You see, my ex husband and I took very different paths after the divorce.

My ex found someone new almost immediately after our divorce or perhaps before it was even finalized. In truth, I really don’t care. I thought perhaps he’d see what it was like being alone and even spend more time with the girls but getting a new girlfriend so swiftly who already had three kids of her own kept that from happening. He’s marrying that woman tomorrow (my girls are in the wedding but strangely, I was not invited ;)), doing the blended family thing and continuing the predictable path of his life. That works for him, but I have never been one to follow a predictable path. I forgot that when I was married, but I’ll never forget again.

Living as a single mom and woman, I’ve managed to buy my own house, car, furniture, etc. and I took the leap from working an unrewarding office job to working from home as a freelance writer three years ago. Now I’m trying to create a successful jewelry making business and it’s another scary and exciting step on this winding, curving, hilly path I navigate. On my own I’m free to take road trips to New England and find myself in all sorts of new places. I never would have known how brave I am had I stayed married.

Although there are times when I do get a bit lonely without the girls, I always have my pets to keep me company. I have my loyal dog Jazzmin as my sidekick and walking companion and as my ex doesn’t like dogs, I never would have had her if I’d stayed married. I also have three cats and that’s one over my ex’s “two cat limit.” His soon to be wife is allergic to cats and dogs so he never has to worry about pet hair in his home again. Me, I suck up an entire cat and dog’s worth of fur every time I vacuum and I don’t mind at all.

Another easy way for me to banish loneliness is to think about how unhappy I was in my marriage or any of my previous relationships. I would never go back to any of that just to keep from being alone and I’m quite happy on my own. I haven’t given up on finding the right match for me eventually and I’ll always believe in love, but my girls get my full attention when I have them and my winding, adventurous path gets my full attention when I don’t have my girls. Walking such a path alone is easier when I focus on the light and leave the shadows behind.