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… 😉

Flowers From My Father

tuilps

All of the tulips behind my house.

My father had a green thumb. I don’t know if he was born with it, or if he cultivated through during his lifetime, but he was great at making plants grow. He loved planting gardens of flowers and vegetables and whatever he touched thrived. His efforts to create vegetable gardens didn’t always go well due to animals finding their way past garden defenses, but his flower beds always thrived.

While I’ve had some success growing things, I did not inherit my father’s knack for making green things grow. I’ve killed cactuses and other low maintenance plants and my annual flower gardens have been hit and miss. I’ve discovered that pansies and snapdragons seem made to survive my lack of green thumb, but I haven’t had much luck with perennials. Well, lucky for me, my father’s spirit decided to help me with that problem.

A few years’ ago, a tulip plant suddenly appeared growing next to the irises behind my house. Those irises have been here since before I moved in and they always do extremely well, but I’d never planted any tulips. I took that first tulip that produced a single red blossom as a gift from my father’s spirit and I thanked him profusely. That tulip has returned every year and I’m always amazed that the squirrels, rabbits, woodchucks, skunks, or deer don’t manage to nibble it away before it can bloom.

Apparently, this year my father decided I needed a few more bulbs in my yard. The first new plants I saw were a couple of yellow daffodils growing over by my smaller shed. I didn’t plant daffodils and I’d never seen them there before, but there they suddenly were one day! When I first saw the splash of yellow next to the shed, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing, especially since the weather hadn’t been warm enough for dandelions yet. I was bewildered when I walked over and realized they were healthy daffodil plants dancing in the chilly breeze.

daffodils

The daffodils by my shed.

Once again, I thanked my dad’s spirit for the gift of flowers and figured that was his new flower for this year. I soon learned that I was wrong.

Shortly after the daffodils came up, I went over to investigate my usual tulip and discovered more tulip plants growing a bit further away from the first. Again, I didn’t plant any more tulips so I was surprised to see them. I thought perhaps they were more red tulips and that they were finally growing because I’d cut the rose bush back more. I was happy to see more tulips growing and appreciated my father’s continued efforts to add flowers to my gardens.

As the weeks passed and the tulips continued to grow and create buds, I noticed that the new plant had five buds on it as opposed to the single bud on the red tulip. After a couple more days I realized that the second tulip plant was a different color than the first tulip plant and when it finally started to show its colors, the buds were a lovely combination of yellow and red. I was elated that such beautiful tulips were growing in my yard when they bloomed and revealed their stunning colors, I nearly jumped for joy. My father’s spirit had certainly upped his game this spring!

yellow and red tulips

This year’s tulip plant

tulips

The original red tulip and this year’s new addition.

I’ve been enjoying the colorful displays of tulips behind my house for the past week or so and even though the blossoms are starting to fade and wilt, I’ve taken plenty of pictures to remember them by. Plus, I know they’ll be back again next year. The gift of flowers that my father’s spirit keeps giving me is something I’m truly grateful for and I wish he were still physically around so I could thank him in person and give him a huge hug.

I’m sure there’s a lot my dad could do with my property if he was still alive and I’d welcome his help. I always make grand plans for gardens on my property, but I don’t have the time or resources. Instead, I just make my little backyard container garden around the birdfeeders and admire it from my kitchen window or when I’m outside on the deck or in the yard. The birds also help me out by dropping enough sunflower seeds to sprout at least a couple nice sunflowers every year.

Although I may never have the beautiful gardens my dad used to create, I do the best I can to keep up with my property and incorporate pretty (and resilient) flowers where I can. It’s nice to know that my father’s spirit seems to understand that I’m trying and that he helps me out as best he can. For as long as I live in this house and even after I move, I know I’ll wait anxiously for spring every year to see if my father has planted more gifts of flowers for his little girl.

flower garden

Standing by one of my dad’s flower gardens.

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!

Winter, Spring, Winter, Spring? 

Despite my eagerness for spring to arrive and stay, it doesn’t want to cooperate with my wishes. In the area of Upstate NY where I live we keep having nice, spring days, then winter days then spring again. It’s a constant yoyo of weather and difficult to keep up with.

This past weekend I took a little road trip to a different part of my state and on my drive out and for the first day, the weather was cold and winter-like. Then on my drive home Sunday the sun was shining and it was warm and spring-like. It was also March when I left and April when I came back so the weather coordinated with that.

Yesterday and today’s weather has been decidedly spring-like with sun, clouds and periodic rain. The temperatures have been in the 50s and 60s and the birds and peeper frogs are singing with increased excitement for warmer weather. Unfortunately, temperatures are supposed to drop again the next few days as winter tries to hold on.

I took Jazzmin for a nice long walk this morning when the sun came out on what was supposed to be a rain-filled day and it was so warm I didn’t need a jacket. A few hours later though the weather changed again, rain returned and now there’s a chill in the air. The forecast for next week looks promising with 50s and 60s but we have to endure the last remnants of winter just a bit longer. One thing is for certain, I’ll be savoring every moment of spring once it finally arrives for good!

Marching Into March 

Yesterday was the first day of March and it started off overcast but pleasantly mild. Hoping to avoid the predicted rain showers, I took Jazzmin on the short hilly walk right after breakfast. Although the clouds were thick, it was warm enough to walk without a coat and it didn’t start sprinkling until we were almost home. On our walk we were treated to the sight and sounds of a large group of turkeys in a field. I always enjoy seeing the males all puffed up as they try to attract the females.

Once back home and freshly showered, I expected to hunker down inside for the rest of the day and work while it rained outside. Mother Nature had other plans though as the rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds. Not one to waste such beautiful weather in the midst of winter, I took Jazz for a second walk, much to her delight! 

I spent a bit more time outside taking care of other important tasks because I knew the forecast was calling for a drastic drop in temperature the next day. Sure enough, this morning dawned with temperatures in the teens even though it had been 50s with I went to bed the night before. Such extreme temperature changes ushered in by ridiculously high winds seem unfortunately normal these days.

It was too cold to walk Jazzmin even once today and I ventured outside as little as possible but I know the weather will rebound eventually. March is a temperamental month as if it knows that everyone is eager for spring and it wants to hang onto winter a bit longer. Regardless, the world around me is starting to reawaken as spring nears and I’ll take it one day at a time while looking forward to warmth and new beginnings. 

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!