Things That Have Changed Since I Started Blogging

One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week is to share what’s changed since you started blogging. My current blog turns four next month and not much has changed over those years. However, I’ve been blogging on WordPress for over fifteen years and a lot changed in those years.

Back in the day, blogging was still the main sort of social media. I think Facebook might’ve existed and Twitter certainly did, but neither was as popular a means of connecting with other people online as they’d become over the next couple of years. Don’t even get me started on Instagram, on which I uploaded five photos tops since getting an account in 2017. I just don’t get it. Not that I ever really “got” Twitter or Facebook. Give me my blog please.

Back in the early days of my blogging journey, I wrote mostly about my own life, but this quickly changed to blogging about disability advocacy. I participated in an annual event called Blogging Against Disablism Day on May 1 and would connect to many of the bloggers I met there throughout the rest of the year. Many would follow me on Twitter, Tumblr (which again I didn’t really get), etc. I loved being part of a community working towards the greater good!

I stopped blogging on that blog in 2011 or 2012. In August of 2013, I started Blogging Astrid, the blog I usually now refer to as my “old blog”. I started it on Blogger but moved to WordPress in November. This is when I started to interact with the Writer’s Workshop community and learned about link parties. For a while, I blogged more for my stats than for self-expression or the greater good. Getting tired of that was a big reason I moved on to my current blog, which had as its original aim that I could write from the heart. As had been the case in the very early days of my original blog and even before, when my original blog was still an online diary.

Until I started this blog, I didn’t really know there was a community specific to WordPress.com and that it’s still alive and kickin’, despite the folks at Automattic trying to kill it off by making WordPress less and less attractive particularly to new customers. Then again, maybe blogging is dying after all. I try to realize people have said that for at least a decade and I still can find a pretty large circle of people to interact with in the blogosphere. They aren’t usually the same I’ve known since 2007, but that’s totally okay.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Happiest When…: My Creativity-Related Happy List #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to my letter H post in the #AtoZChallenge. Sorry for my being late to post. I am also a bit tired, because I had a rather intense day, so I may not elaborate as much as I normally would. For my letter H post, I once again looked to The Year of You for Creatives. One of the prompts asked us to complete the following sentence ten times: “I am happiest when I…” I decided to tweak it to: “I feel happiest when…” Of course, I am going to answer this with things related to my creativity. In my letter E post, I shared general things that give me joy about my creative work. Today, I am going to try to be more specific. I am going to try to list some things about my crafting as well as my writing. I am aiming for ten things, but if I can think of more, I won’t stop there.

1. I feel happiest when I am watching a YouTube video of a polymer clay tutorial that I think I’ll be able to follow. I have a few favorite YouTubers who provide good voiceover and/or easy-to-follow tutorials.

2. I feel happiest when I find I’m almost perfect at something after a lot of practice, such as doing the twisted mane of a unicorn.

3. I feel happiest when a difficult polymer clay project comes out of the oven better than expected.

4. I feel happiest when online window shopping for new supplies for my crafts, even if I don’t end up buying anything. I feel particularly happy when I find new shops. I recently discovered Etsy. Though I haven’t ordered physical products there because of shipping and possibly customs clearance costs, I did order some digital products there.

5. I feel happiest when I’ve decided on the perfect colors (whether they are based on a color mixing recipe or not) for a project.

6. I feel happiest when a color I’m mixing comes out of the pasta machine blending process exactly as it should.

7. I feel happiest when finally, after a lot of work, a polymer clay slab comes out of the pasta machine without air bubbles or other imperfections.

8. I feel happiest when I’ve been able to take a good photo mostly by myself rather than someone else basically snapping it for me.

9. I feel happiest when I get nice comments on Facebook when sharing my creative projects.

10. I feel happiest when I get a lot of nice comments on a blog post I’m also content about.

11. I feel happiest when showing my staff my new creations or ideas, be it my new folder of color mixing recipes, my latest polymer clay creation or a YouTube video I’d discovered and want to base a new project on.

12. I feel happiest when I can make someone else smile by giving them a handmade gift. Last Monday, I gave a fellow client at the day center a handmade necklace and matching bracelet. Granted, I’d created them a while ago and they weren’t my style, which is why I wanted to get rid of them, but she was over the moon about them.

What makes you feel happiest, creativity-related or otherwise?

Goals I Have in the Area of My Creativity #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone! Welcome to my letter G post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I want to talk about goals I have related to my creative process. Here goes.

First, I obviously want to improve my skill and learn new techniques. With respect to polymer clay, I would really like to learn to make jewelry, such as earrings or beaded projects. I would also love to improve my color mixing skills.

I also may want to learn macrame, although I’m not 100% sure about that yet, as there’s still so much I can learn with respect to polymer clay and I’ve discovered I may not have reached my full potential after all.

With respect to my writing, I want to learn to write poetry that doesn’t look like a teen on drugs wrote it. I would also like to learn more about fiction writing. Of course, practice makes perfect, so I’ll really need to write more.

Secondly, my goal is to share my projects, when appropriate, more than I do now. I may really want to work on creating an Instagram profile. Either that, or I should share my projects on this blog or my personal Facebook profile more often.

I would also someday like to exchange my knowledge and skills with other crafters or writers. Of course, I do so online already, in Facebook groups, but I’d love to join a writing or crafting club or something. I’m not sure I’ll ever fit in with the polymer clay guild, as I need too much support with my craft. However, maybe I’ll someday be able to join in with some crafting workshops either online or in real life. I heard the American Council of the Blind organizes them online. Not for polymer clay specifically, but for crafting in general.

Lastly, I hope to continue enjoying the polymer clay art. This may seem obvious, but it can be quite the challenge, because due to my combination of perfectionism and impatience, I often give up when I don’t move forward in a craft quickly enough for my liking. I also dabble in quite many hobbies at once. Now, I really need to stick to just a few.

Excitement: Things I Enjoy About My Creative Work #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to my letter E post in the #AtoZChallenge. There are many E words related to creativity, but I decided to share the things I enjoy about being creative. I chose the word “Excitement” for my post title, because that was the title of the prompt in The Year of You for Creatives that inspired this idea. Now, of course, I can no longer cheat and use another “Ex” word for the letter X, but I try to avoid that at all cost anyway. Tomorrow, if I don’t make up my mind before then, I’m going to share about my creativity-related frustrations.

The first thing I enjoy about being a creative, is learning about other artists’ creative process. I love watching and reading tutorials on the various crafts I enjoy and they truly inspire me. This is more of a recent development, since doing soap making in 2016. Before then, I’d just create what I wanted without any sort of tutorial. This, however, often led to disastrous results.

Another thing I love about my creative work, is shopping for new supplies. Either that or just looking for supplies online without actually buying them. I have a huge wishlist of things I want to buy someday. About a month ago, I decided to put some of them on my online birthday wishlist rather than buying them myself. My birthday isn’t until the end of June, so this is quite the exercise in patience.

A thing I especially love about all of my creative endeavors, is being able to share them online. I am in groups on Facebook for pretty much every craft I dabble in currently (and maybe even some I don’t anymore). I cannot really imagine being creative without sharing my work at all.

Lastly, something I am currently very excited about is finding new techniques to try with my crafts. For instance, today I tried to mix a color with polymer clay using my precision kitchen scale (yay, I finally bought one!). Knowing it turned out as I wanted to (for which, in the case of a color, I of course rely on my staff) is pure delight.

Artistic Self-Discovery: Am I Even an Artist? #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to day one in the #AtoZChallenge. I have been uncertain as to what topic to choose for my first post. Last year, I chose to use my letter A post as an opportunity to introduce my topic. Today, I’m doing something similar. My topic this year is creative self-discovery and self-expression. A question that’s always been on my mind though, is: “Am I even an artist?”

When I joined some groups for creatives and artists on Facebook, I initially wasn’t sure whether they would be for just visual artists like those using paint or drawing as their primary medium. I mean, even “mixed-media” art usually includes some aspect of visual art. Thankfully, the members of most groups have been able to reassure me that, as a polymer clay hobbyist, I am more than welcome.

Then comes the question of quality. I mean, does my work have to meet certain standards to be considered art. I am still in many ways a beginner and, in all of the creative pursuits I have made, never got beyond that level, if I even got beyond the level of a 3-year-old.
Then I am reminded of Julia Cameron’s words in The Artist’s Way that you need to be a bad artist before you can be a good artist. In other words, no-one really is naturally good at art. She in fact seems to go as far as to say everyone has the ability to be creative within them.

The thing is, I am both rather impatient and perfectionistic. This combination means I feel easily discouraged by negative feedback on my first attempts at something creative. I really want to skip the “bad artist” phase and, especially when I know other people move on from that stage more quickly than I do, I feel disappointed in myself.

That being said, I realize now there is a reason Julia Cameron says you shouldn’t show your Morning Pages to anyone and shouldn’t even reread them yourself until week eight of the program. Wanting to share your creativity too soon, may lead to negative feedback and this in turn may lead, as it has with me, to discouragement.

I am learning this as I start to explore macrame, first learning the knots quite well before I’ll even think of showing anything online. That way, I am still trying, might still fail, but the chances are less that I’ll make a fool out of myself on Facebook.

To get back to the question that sparked this post: yes, I am am artist, just like I am indeed a writer even though it’s been nearly seven years since that one little piece I got published in an anthology. And even if I had nothing published in print, I’d still be a writer. Similarly, just because I don’t sell my artistic creations, doesn’t mean I’m not an artist.

A Sunday With the Theme of Self-Esteem

Hi all. The past 24 hours have truly been a mixed bag of emotions. I started obsessing over wanting to start another new craft. Yes, another! Somehow, I decided on macrame and got all obsessed about learning its techniques before even having any cords. Then I decided to ask in a Facebook group whether you need to be coordinated in both hands in order to be able to do macrame. The first commenter basically said not only that, but you also most likely won’t be able to feel your way around the knots.

This was late last night, past midnight actually. I went to bed feeling awful about myself. After all, the reason I wanted a new craft is not that there’s nothing more to learn about polymer clay, but that I’m somehow convinced that I’ve reached my full potential.

By morning, I found that other people had been more encouraging of me trying macrame or even card making. You know, remember I’d said I tried that back in 2013? These people said so what if my work doesn’t look good, if I enjoyed the craft. That’s not entirely my kind of attitude, since I do want to be able to share what I make here or on my personal Facebook page at least without feeling like I have to be ashamed of myself.

I have been trying to work on some polymer clay projects in progress again later today by sanding some beads and charms. It felt kind of okay. I also watched some more YouTube videos on polymer clay, but they made me feel like I’ll be taking forever to understand the concepts. Then again, this is even more the case if I start another craft entirely. Guess I’ll just stick with polymer clay and try to be more patient with myself.

As a side note, one person did say that, if I can tie my shoelaces, I can do macrame. That kind of discouraged me at first, since I can’t tie my shoes. Make that couldn’t. At least, after three tries, I was successful at tying my shoelaces while my shoes were in front of me on the table. Then I tried several more times, more or less successfully. I don’t think I want to really be able to tie my own shoes, but it was an interesting boost to my self-confidence.

Artistic As Always #WotW

Hi everyone this Christmas Eve. How are you all doing? I’m doing pretty well. I’m joining Word of the Week again with a phrase (as almost always) and (again as almost always) my phrase of the week is related to my creative endeavors. I’m trying to come up with original phrases to say I’ve been crafting and creating a lot again. Today my phrase of the week is: Artistic As Always.

Truly, I don’t think a single day went by that I didn’t do any creative activity. I mean, I haven’t been blogging as often as I’d like to, but I did a lot of polymer clay work. I created several charms, including a planet, a flower and a rainbow, which is currently in the oven.

I also created my first polymer clay cane. A cane is a log of clay with a design on the inside, which you can then cut into slices to use as beads or to decorate a vase or whatever. I decided to do a flower cane and to make the slices into beads.

I will combine them, some yellow beads I made today that are also in the oven and a flower charm I made last week into a necklace for a woman who lives in the care home downstairs from mine, who is obsessed with necklaces. I still need to create lots of yellow beads, but the woman won’t have her birthday till the end of January.

I also got some crafty supplies in my Christmas hamper from the day center. They are two silicone molds. When I saw them, I did worry they’re a bit too shallow and detailed to use with polymer clay, as they’re officially for chocolate I think. I created a butterfly with one of the molds, which is now in the oven too.

I do worry that the butterfly will be some kind of omen though. You see, a fellow client went into hospital with recurring seizures yesterday and I’m worried sick that he’ll die. Please all pray that he’ll recover.

In addition to creating art itself, I’ve also been busy exploring the artistic community online. I joined several Facebook groups for neurodivergent creators and artists. For those not aware, the term “neurodivergent” refers to people with a neurological or mental health condition, such as autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, etc. I initially worried the term “artist” or even “creative” was meant to include those creating visual artworks such as paintings or drawings only. Thankfully, I quickly found out the groups I am part of are inclusive of all creative outlets.

Lastly, inspired by a conversation in one of the FB groups, I decided to buy the books The Artist’s Way and The Artist’s Way Workbook. I haven’t yet been able to do anything in them, because I read books on my iPhone and using my Braille display only and, since the latest iOS update, these don’t work well together. That is, several times a day, seemingly at random, my Braille display will get stuck and the only way to get it unstuck is to reboot my iPhone. Not ideal when in the middle of a sentence in a book.

Overall, I’ve been really artistic over the past week. It’s been an intense week on other fronts too, but I may share more about that in a separate post.

Word of the Week linky