Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Night Photography

This semester I have learned a lot about digital photography. My skills have improved so much. Snapshots are no longer an option. I make photos instead of taking them. I still have more to learn but these are a few of my images that I took at night.

These two images are called painting with light. I had the tripod set up in my driveway. For the first image, the boys stood still holding hands. I had the shutter set for 15 seconds. I put the timer on to give me 10 seconds to get behind them with the flashlight. Once the shutter opened, I traced the outline of their bodies with the flashlight.

I did each of our names on their own and then I layered them together for the first image. I plan to print this image and hang a copy in each of their rooms.

These are all 10 second exposures with the tripod. Route 66 and the Flagstaff train station.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Manic Monday Mumbling About Money

Last week I got some bad news.  Financially the boys and I will be taking a big hit. It brought me down hated and it took a couple days of doing nothing and hiding to get over it. My depression is well managed but I can be easily overwhelmed when the stress gets too high.

After the boys' dad died we had the blessing of Social Security Survivors benefits being approved. The payments the boys would be given each month took a lot of weight from my shoulders. However life never seems to work out the way you want it to IN REAL LIFE.

Welfare is a necessary part of our lives. I am not able to work a regular job with my crazy. Plus being a single mom to twin boys doesn't leave me with much energy for anything else.  Working parents understand that child care can be almost as much as your take home pay.  Food stamps made sure we always had food in the kitchen.

Now our little family of 3 earns $25 more than the monthly maximum to qualify for SNAP  (supplemental nutrition assistance program. ) Sadly we are barely above the federal poverty level. We will have more cash coming into the household but we will be losing 90% of our grocery money.

That want the only bad news I got that day. The local housing office will also be reducing our subsidy. We will be losing 60% of the assistance we were previously receiving.  Flagstaff rents are very high. We are very lucky that our home is on the low end of the price range. I have friends paying $1000 a month for a 2 bedroom apartment. $1350 for a small house.

Thankfully we will have enough to cover our expenses each month. Unfortunately we won't be able to get out of the hole we are in.

Welfare is often misunderstood when being discussed online.  Assumptions are easily made about families that rely on food stamps and housing assistance. It always upsets me and I have a hard time holding my 2 cents.

Well this wasn't an uplifting blog post,  was it?  Sorry I couldn't help your Monday end on a better note. I could sing! Except I still don't love the idea of being on a live feed.

I promise to have something fun posted soon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Blogging How? #LuvSoFab Contest Entry

Recently I posted the WHY for my choice of blogging. It also explained part of the answer to the question HOW. Now I am going to tell you a little more.

Collective Bias has been an amazing addition to my life. It let me turn a hobby into a job. It took my diary/journal/therapy outlet and made it into an income.

I have been pretty open about my struggles over the years of managing my mental health. Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety and Depression have taken a lot from me. The biggest negative has always been financial. My extreme highs and lows can put my life into a downward spiral. I am not just talking about a deep depression. Mania can cause just as many problems. Both extremes have caused me to miss work. Manic episodes might equal quitting my job and leaving town for a trip. (It seemed like a good idea at the time.) Hiding at home in an isolated withdrawn mood results in being fired. I couldn't get out of bed much less take the time to call in sick.

Blogging changed all of that! Blogging allows me to work from home. My insomnia gives me all night to write while the boys are asleep. My energy spikes give me that extra boost to start a new project and finish it; or help me to complete a campaign just before it is due. Bipolar disorder seems to increase my creative mind. My stress and depression have been lessened by sharing my honesty online. My mania was funneled into positive pursuits that challenged me. All of these mental illness symptoms work together to make me who I am. This is what I have taken back from my #crazy

I #LUVSOFAB for the opportunities it has given me the last two years. Not only have I earned money but I have been accepted into an online family. My writing has been used for sponsored campaigns which have brought readers/crafters/followers to my site. It has let strangers read my thoughts and ideas. They can relate to my daily struggles and joy.

Mental health awareness has always been important to me. I want to reduce the stigma that comes when you share your diagnosis. Blogging has given me a larger platform and a wider audience to share my story. Working from home has given me purpose. It has supplemented our small income. It has given the boys new toys and new experiences. It has helped me find a place in a non-traditional work force when I couldn't work a 9 to 5 job. I no longer feel like a failure. I feel accomplished and successful.

All of this rambling comes from the heart. I promise it is all true.

#SoFabUOTR was my first blogging conference. I attended the conference in Scottsdale, March 2015. It was only two hours from home and we stayed overnight with family. I had so much fun meeting friends I only knew from their blogs. I learned new skills that have helped to grow my blog. I just wish I had been able to make it a full conference experience. (Meaning a hotel room, drinks with the girls, and a kid free weekend.) 

This year there will be 4 #SoFabUOTR events. 

The added benefit of this specific post is a chance to win an amazing trip!

I have always wanted to visit New York but a weekend in May won't work with college finals and the boys finishing Kindergarten. Visiting Chicago in July wouldn't usually be my first choice but being able to see my mom, attend a great conference, listen to amazing speakers and meet up with old friends from high school sounds like an amazing weekend to me. 

I grew up in Chicago but I haven't been home since Christmas 2011. I have never gotten to see the bean. Help to get #CoCoInChicago by sharing this post along with the contest hashtag: #LuvSoFab

I can't wait to learn more about making the perfect blog post from Megan Tenney; finally setting up an email list from  Kirsten Thompson; and having Becca Ludlum teach me a better pinning strategy. Plus I think it is ironic that I would be traveling all the way to Chicago to meet Becca when we both live in Arizona. All three of these speakers have something to share that I have been trying to work on for my own blog. This will be a great opportunity to take notes from 3 outstanding bloggers from Collective Bias. 

This is a link to the official rules for the contest. In one of the emails I received it said to use your creativity for your contest entry. Examples were singing a song, making a video, painting a picture or writing a blog post. 

Help me share this post & 
Please follow me 

#LuvSoFab #CoCoInChicago

#LuvSoFab #CoCoInChicago

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Why Blogging?

When I was a little girl, I thought I would grow up and become a teacher. When I would play pretend with my siblings, I would be the teacher of our school. I loved teaching. As I grew older I realized I liked being in charge. I liked to teach others about new topics. I liked to share ideas. When I was a little girl, I wrote stories and kept a journal. Through writing I was able to express feelings that I couldn't say aloud.

Blogging was not a conscious career choice. It was something I started to share my struggles and joys of raising my twin boys as a single parent. It was a way to release those feelings and to be honest with myself. When I finally had readers, they could understand and empathize. I began to share my struggles with mental health. Blogging allowed me to reach others and help them with their own struggles. 

My outgoing personality is a little bit crazy mixed with a lot of fun and tons of honesty.  I tend to make friends quickly and they actually listen to me. My bossy (almost controlling) way of life sets me up as a leader. Blogging is an easy progression to share my passions and knowledge with others on a grander scale.

The best part of blogging is that it actually pays. I saw friends talking about sponsored posts and compensation. I wanted to know more so I asked. Blogging is not a get rich scheme. It is an actual job. There is a possibility to earn a large amount of cash, but I am not at that level. Blogging alone will not pay my bills and support a life in Flagstaff, AZ. Thankfully, I only need it to supplement my income at this point in life.

Gradually I will be able to earn more money. Companies are moving more of their advertising dollars to social media. Companies want their products and services to be shared in a more personal medium. My writing allows me to share a product while sharing a personal moment. This allows the post to be more of a story than a commercial.