Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Make it Awesome


The year is nearly over; just a few more hours. I'm usually kind of sad on New Year's Eve. Not sure why that is exactly, except that I hate to see good things come to an end. If that is the case or reason for my melancholy (yes, it's melancholy - defined as a thoughtful or gentle sadness - I like that definition), then I have a lot to be thankful for once again. Twenty thirteen was a good year for my family. It was full of changes and new experiences, and for me it was productive as well. I hope I can keep up the pace and accomplish even more in 2014. I would hate to slow down, sit out, or put too many things to the side. It is time to set some new goals, maybe even take a look at my bucket list; see if I can check anything off and then make some revisions or additions.
So the latest is:
Naturally Yours: Poems About Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs is available on Amazon. I just put in my order today. I am working on getting it in local gift shops - specifically at the Indiana Welcome Center and the Center for Performing Arts in Munster.

And my next idea is:
Trying to sell some art in a local gallery or store - note cards? mounted prints? some watercolors? Not sure. I need to visit some places, do some research. My sister has been making sea glass jewelry so I want to encourage and help her as much as possible too. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could both have some items at the same gift shop or gallery...
So here's to the past and wishing an awesome New Year for everyone. I'm sharing something I saw on Facebook because I absolutely loved it. It sums it all up perfectly.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Just Around the Corner

Football has ended. I had three boys on three teams – and next year might be worse – (four on four!) but boy, was it an exciting fall. Now that I have some evenings free I plan to catch up on a whole bunch of projects and maybe even relax a bit.

Even though I was busy with the kids and work I kept taking pictures, writing, and submitting all kinds of things. When I think about it, it is mind boggling.
* I had two photographs displayed at the Indiana Welcome Center in August and September. I was so happy with the whole experience and felt extremely honored to be part of the Reflections Exhibit, my first.

* I finally got a chance to set up a Facebook photography page and also put photos on Redbubble. I have had several positive responses and have been busy taking portraits for people ever since. I have had luck with the weather and lighting, splendid fall colors, and of course my clients are beautiful inside and out.
* Another first – two of my mounted nature prints were auctioned off a couple of weeks ago at the 7th Annual Ladybug Bash Banquet in Chicago and I got to meet some of the bidders. Proceeds went to the Midwest Pesticide Action Center so I feel everyone benefited.
* This past Wednesday I headed down to Rensselaer for a book signing party. The latest edition of From the Edge of the Prairie is hot off the presses. I have three pictures and poems in this year’s book.
* I did well in the Lake County fair (4 ribbons), just finished working on the cover for the latest Hoosier Horizon Magazine due out in December, and submitted some poems and craft ideas to a kids’ magazine.

* I will have three poems and photos featured in Naturally Yours – Poems and Short Stories about Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs. Proceeds from the sales will help the environment. I wrote about my favorite places: Tippecanoe State Park, The Indiana Dunes, and Shades State Park.
So to recap, I know I accomplished a lot in the last four months but there is still so much more out there. I feel like I’m still taking steps that will lead me to something bigger – I hope so anyway. I hope I am heading in the right direction and real success is obtainable. …Part of me gets frustrated because so many of my friends are published now. I just don’t have the time I need to polish and finalize my bigger projects; I need to work on that, finding more time somehow. For the most part though, their accomplishments inspire me and I’ll keep the faith that their experiences will help me achieve my goals.

Friday, July 19, 2013

One thing leads to another...

Since school ended May 29th, my birthday, things have been busy busy. We were fortunate to be able to take several weekend mini-vacations this first half of summer. We went fishing in Ludington, Michigan, hung out with friends in Jellystone campground a few hours east of here, kayaked and canoed in Peru and Shades State Park, and hit the Indiana Dunes a few times. My oldest was in weight training/conditioning for football and took both pool and gym in summer school so that meant lots of driving here and there. Yesterday was the last day of summer school YEA! - and he even gets a few weeks off before actual football practices begin again. So it has hit me, and I'm happy and proud; my oldest is a Freshman in high school! The same school I went to. He seems very excited about this next phase in his life and is motivated to do well. Fingers crossed it lasts.

I had to miss a few writing and photography meetings lately, just too much going on, so imagine my surprise when my friends from Write-On Hoosiers contacted me to tell me that I won an honorable mention in the National Federation of State Poetry Societies' Contest. Fellow poet Tom Spencer was actually at the convention in New Mexico when they announced my name. Super cool! I got a certificate in the mail a few days later; 7th out of 242 entries in the Ohio Award. Little successes keep me from giving up so I sent materials to two more children's magazines. I am also going to submit three poems to the Naturally Yours - Poems and Stories about Indiana State Parks book. I just wrote about one about our time in Shades.

Since I can't put down my camera for more than a moment I am still constantly taking pictures. I like to take of everything which is my downfall. I have no specialties, I don't excel in any certain area - I just want to do well in all situations. My latest challenge has been taking good portraits. I have taken some photos of groups, events, and extended families at different locations but never set up an actual studio here. I did purchase lights a year ago and some backdrops but really needed a stand. So my husband ended up making me a backdrop frame and it has helped tremendously. After that I decided I needed to work on advertising so I set up a Facebook page just for my photography. Next thing to consider: selling. One way to make my photos more available is to set up an online place to show and sell my prints. I have a friend who uses RedBubble so I set up an account and put some things on that site. Just a few pictures to start, but the hard part is over. I'd be thrilled if I even sold a note card or two.

I have done one photo shoot since all that and I was very pleased with the outcome. I also have two more shoots lined up. It is with my extended family, which is perfect. It gives me a chance to practice without all the pressure of doing everything right. I also have been buying and gathering and even painting props. I guess I am taking this pretty serious even though I don't want to ever do a wedding or take portraits full time.

Now fair time is just around the corner. I am entering 7 photos in the Lake County Fair and even one drawing of a bluegill, inspired by our MI fishing trip. And I again wanted to put myself out there so I tried to get into a photo exhibit. Just a few days ago I was informed two of my photos will be on show at the Reflections Photography Exhibit at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond. I couldn't be happier. This is pretty official. They want a head shot of me and the other photographers and are going to make postcards to promote the event. The photographs will be on display August 15 to September 30. There is even an opening reception and I can have purchase information and the prices available if I desire :).

My favorite quote: "You miss 100 % of the shots you don't take." by Wayne Gretzky. Guess that is why I keep taking chances and can't seem to slow down. Everything keeps leading to something else.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Winter and Spring Recap

Last fall my youngest son started all-day kindergarten. I had big plans. I was going to catch up on some writing projects I started long ago, other household projects that had been put on hold, learn more about my camera and photo editing, and clean. I was going to clean out the closets, clean up my document and photo files, delete old e-mails -- basically declutter and simplify everything. I also wanted to renew my substitute teaching license so I could earn some extra cash and get out of the house once in a while. I accomplished a few goals and worked two days a week the first semester but then a full-time position opened up at one of the schools I was working at. I already knew and liked the teachers and students. I would get some paid days off plus all school breaks and summer vacation. The offer was too good to refuse, so I couldn't.

Since January I have been really juggling my responsibilities. I was always very busy but now I'm close to overwhelmed. I love my new job ,and my hobbies, and volunteer work so it is hard to say "no" and not keep on taking on the things I've always done. Plus I have the four boys and their activities; I want them to be able to be in sports and participate in school clubs, etc. I shouldn't complain though because although it was a long and busy winter a lot of good things happened.

First, I submitted a photo to NBC Chicago and it not only got on the 10:00 news but also was printed on the Chicago Sun Time Weather page the next day. Then the Town Planner calendars came out and I was happy with the end product. I have photos in nine different calendars this year. Finally, the 9th Annual Ladies Auxiliary Post 717 Family Dance was fun and well attended. We raised over $800 for our veteran's programs.

I have cut back some but managed to submit to the Prairie publication, the National Federation of State Poetry Societies Spring Contest, and photos to several Calumet Region and Chicago Area Camera Club competitions. I am also a U6 soccer coach for my youngest son's team again. Just last month I was surprised to see one of my poems was published with the photo in the April Family Flyer Magazine. It is "a welcome guest in 113,000 homes!" around the Lake and Porter County areas. And as for the PoPP children's poetry contest: the entries were judged, the magazine was printed, and the April awards assembly has come and gone.

So some things have been on hold; I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to these past several months. I didn't get back to those watercolor paintings or get to those neglected areas in my house and delete and/or organize the mega-billion-bytes of electronic mail and pics and files that are hanging around and stored everywhere but there is always tomorrow, or the weekend, or SUMMER!