My Article was Published in “Empowered” (an online Magazine)!!!

Original Sunset Photography by Julie A. Smith
I submitted an article in September to the Christian online magazine, “Empowered.”  It was accepted!!!  My friend Melissa writes for them, and she recommended me.  It is a blessing, especially since I have wanted to be published in a Christian women’s magazine, but the ones that I have found don’t take unsolicited writing.  I have my blog, but it is incredibly exciting to get published on a wider scale.  I would love to have more opportunities for my writing to be published in the future.  As rain falls beautifully ending a drought, I earnestly hope that my writing both on my blog and my personal poetry will be reinvigorated and inspired again, ending a dry spell for me with both my motivation and inspiration that has been lacking.  It was extremely encouraging to have my article published, and I have received promising feedback from the small number of family and friends that I have told thus far.  It was so affirming to see my article referenced on the cover of “Empowered” with the caption “Finding your path.”  It was also empowering (yes, I am doing a play on words with the magazine title) for me as a writer to type up my credentials and biography and submit a professional picture (actually taken at a previous staff expo for my current job that has nothing to do with writing).  While there was a slight editing mistake in the article (i.e. I never actually bought a Siberian husky  when I was younger, because the dog sold at the pet shop before I could buy it), I am so thrilled with the article overall.  However. I have to fight my inner critic and own self doubts when reading my own work or thinking that I should have edited more before submission, even though I spent hours on the article.  I sincerely hope you have a moment to check out my article.  It is in the October/November/December issue of “Empowered” on the topic of careers that was published mid-end last month.  My article is on page 23-24 and is entitled, “Finding Your Path When your Career Path is Different than you Dreamed.”
Advertisements

Birthday Blues (but gotta stay positive!)

Birthdays are super special to me. When I was young, I remember having a big birthday bowling party for seventh grade. Plus, there were the birthdays where I had a party at the local Chuck E. Cheese or did other fun stuff. For my 17th birthday (shared of course with my twin sister), we had a huge house party (minus the alcohol). It was a fun mixer of friends across several schools. While our school was closed due to a big snowstorm, our party was still on. Ah, the perils of early February birthdays- you kind of never know with the weather what will happen.

Right now I am on the brink of my early February birthday. While I always enjoy my birthday, the last few years it has been harder due to reconciling of my age, where I thought I would be, and dreams that have never come to pass and seem to be losing their sparkle (a.k.a titling this blog “Birthday Blues”). I find myself needing to be careful not to walk in self-pity. Plus, sometimes life’s disappointments can get me down, but I realize life has a way of combining the good with the bad, and I need to try to embrace the good and sift away the bad. Easier said then done, tis true. I often find tremendous encouragement from music, and right now I am listening to my favorite artist, Jeremy Camp, who always lifts me up emotionally and spiritually. My brother bought me Jeremy’s new “Reckless” cd from 2013, and I like this line from his “Paradise” song: “Don’t let this life take hold of my desires. And I won’t give up the fight.”

Last year, half of my friends cancelled the day of my birthday party, which was hard emotionally. They all had good reasons, but it felt like they let me down. Maybe I wouldn’t have thought that if I wouldn’t have noticed how one of my friends did 2 other activities that same day but said she was sick and had to miss my party, or how some friends are so busy that it can take months to connect in person, and I hoped my birthday was at least an “unmissable time.” I am definitely not high maintenance with friends, and myself and many of my friends are quite independent, but still, it is nice to keep up with friends, as well as connect on special occasions like birthdays.

This year, rather than having the anxiety of planning my own party again, I decided that I want to have one on one time with my good friends and get to do my favorite things, like going to Starbucks and one of my favorite affordable restaurants (that has cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory- gotta love it!). This way I can be flexible with my friends busy schedules and get to do more things, so that is a definite win-win. Also, I am excited that my small group leader was interested in organizing a birthday bowling party for me, because we sometimes celebrate birthdays in small group. That is such a blessing, and I will even get to break out my bowling shoes that I own. Woohoo!

Sad and Interesting is the Order of the Day

Days can be thematic sometimes. Today, sad and interesting appeared to be the order of the day. It was a long day, and I got home after 9 pm. As I was parking, I was inspired by a new song that I heard on the radio on my favorite radio station, Air1. It was by Britt Nicole, who I find very inspiring and talented. (Side note: I actually got to volunteer at her concert with radio promotions for Air1 Radio several years ago when she performed a concert in my area). Well, I loved her new song with Lecrae, and I was inspired to get on Myspace, which I don’t do much at all these days, but I still like it for the music and for reminiscing. Anyways, I was stopped by “the new myspace”, saying not only had myspace changed, but that my current browser was not supported to login. All I wanted to do was add the song to my profile as #1 song, but I had to go through the steps to get a new browser to meet my goal. So, I added Mozilla Firefox as a browser, which truth be told, I should have done ages ago, since I hear it is an excellent browser. Funny how when you can’t do something you want to do that takes “two seconds”, it is quite annoying to be slowed down with technical delays. Anybody else agree?

So, after getting my new browser, I tried to login and got stopped by the “new myspace.” Of course, I had to agree to the privacy policies, video policy, and other various policies before proceeding. I also noticed that it APPEARS that unless you are a MEMBER of myspace (i.e. the NEW myspace, not the classic myspace), you CANNOT listen to music! You can only search for music. Why would anyone want to search for music but not listen to it? Sometimes I used to listen to music in my old myspace player without logging in. This probably sounds funny, but I would listen to my playlist when I didn’t realy care or need to login, and when I didn’t care to be tracked for every song I played. Anyways, so, unless I am missing something, it appears the new myspace is EXCLUSIVE for members ONLY to listen to music, which I find sad and, well, exclusionary. I like music being free and for the people. And, don’t quote me on this without double-checking, but I believe that when I tried to check out Spotify app for music numerous months ago (which my friend raved about), I couldn’t login in because I don’t have a Facebook account. I don’t think that is very fair.

I am a person who does not like to sign something or click accept when I have not read something, especially when terms say that I have read terms, etcetera. Granted, I don’t like reading 40 page terms verbatim, but I try to pay attention to privacy policies and rules. But, I got tired of reading and really ONLY WANTED ONE SONG. It is already late, so I decided to table the new myspace for another day and make sure I am reading when I am less tired. Here is the super sad other thing that I want to comment on- when I was clicking about how the new myspace is different than the classic myspace, it said some things will not carry over in the new experience- things like blogs and comments. That makes me so sad! I always considered my old myspace like a digital record or journal as part of my life- so many happy memories are tied up there, plus blogs that I never saved that were before I was on wordpress. I think I also lost some of my poetry which I may have only had a digital copy of, which of course, I did not save. It is too late now, but I wish I knew more about archiving and stuff that seems taught more in librarian circles. Sometimes it feels like I a babe in the woods, but it is sad once it is too late to do things maybe you should have done, but didn’t think something would be totally taken away from you. I was never warned by myspace by e-mail with the changes, and I knew there was a newer version, but I didn’t use it a ton recently. Still, I don’t think they promoted the switch with a deadline, and I don’t think they publicized what people would lose until it was lost. Maybe I am wrong, and I not trying to speak something untrue, but with so much of our identities wrapped up in the digital realm, I wonder how many people would be upset if their Facebook profile got wiped out, or how would they feel if Linked In pulled the plug? We are all vulnerable.

Once I decided to pass on the new myspace (for tonight anyway), I got on Air1 Radio (www.air1.com) to stream the mixology live. Of course, I got distracted by their home page with “trending now” news headlines. Here is the one that caught my eye. It is about new Lego figurines being more grumpy than in previous years. I think that is interesting, but sort of sad. Here is the article:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/11/18904238-do-legos-need-anger-management-figurines-grumpier-than-ever-study-says?lite

Also, an article I was reading earlier in the day was in the Chronicle of Higher Education about privacy, law, and government. It was highly thought-provoking and troubling. If you are interested in privacy laws, logical arguments, or freedom, then I definitely recommend it. It fits my theme of the day- sad, yet interesting.

http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Privacy-Matters-Even-if/127461/

Purple Toes and Black Hair (a Poetic Ode to being Bold)

She decided she wanted to write

a poem about purple toes and black hair.

She is not usually silly

or prone to fluffy things,

but light-hearted poetry

seemed a distraction to her

from discouragement

and the problems in her life.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

She got a pedicure recently.

It was by a sweet Asian young woman

who did not speak much English,

but did a good job with painting

her toes a bright, pretty purple.

She picked it out to be

different and a bit funky.

She has a slight alternative side

that sometimes she hides well,

because some don’t see it as professional

and there are lots of different styles

that she enjoys.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

She once dyed her hair purple

and helped her friend dye her hair

green and then blue

when her friend hated the green.

They were going to the Tooth and Nail tour

to see two bands that they liked who were uber-cool.

The purple dye was only for one day and temporary,

but sometimes she wouldn’t mind

making it more permanent

if only she was younger,

or if she didn’t care what people thought.

That thought makes her sigh,

because people like to judge based on appearance,

and society’s fashion rules for women

can sometimes be quite oppressive,

confining, limiting, and immodest.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

She really wanted to be bold

so with her birthday she decided to dye her hair black.

She had never done that before.

It was a light, pretty black that she was drawn to.

But she got sick right before her birthday,

and thus her friend could not dye her hair.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Time went by,

and she had second thoughts,

but it bothered her that

she didn’t take that bold step.

She almost took the hair dye back

but, even if she hated it,

even when someone told her she may look like Elvira,

she just knew she needed to try it.

She needed to not live her life in a box

or worried about what other people thought.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

She liked it, once it was done.

Black and bold

in her estimation.

But for some reason it quickly faded

and came to look more like a dark brown.

Still pretty, but not bold.  Not black.

Not the pretty black she had hoped for.

Funny, though, she observed that

many people did not even notice,

and she had thought it was so obvious

and so BOLD.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

She is quite glad that she tried purple toes

and black hair.

She keeps telling herself

that change can be good

when she feels stuck in a rut

and like she can’t feel her dreams anymore.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

*Poet’s note: Most of my poetry is personal, however sometimes I like to tell a creative story.  In the case of this poem, it is a true story, and I am the girl with purple toes and black hair.

Before hair dye picture of me (Rosemary Case, photographer)

Before hair dye picture of me (Rosemary Case, photographer)

Before black hair dye picture (Rosemary Case, photographer)

Before black hair dye picture (Rosemary Case, photographer)

Mid black hair dye (Rosemary Case, photographer credit and my Mom)

Mid black hair dye (Rosemary Case, photographer credit and Mom)

Instagram photo of me and my brother, Kevin (two days after black hair dye; Lyle Smith, photographer)

Instagram photo of me and my brother, Kevin (two days after black hair dye; Lyle Smith, photographer)

Toes are not the cutest subject, but I want to show off my purple toes and pedicure (Julie A. Smith, photographer)

Toes are not the cutest subject, but I want to show off my purple toes and pedicure (Julie A. Smith, photographer)

2012 Flashback (a.k.a. Personal Reflections on this Past Year)

How is 2012 quickly drawing to a close?  Yes, it is true what people say: the years go by faster and faster the older you get.  This past year was a mix of hardships and saying good-bye to several friends who left my area, as well as various events and activities that shaped the year for me.  This list is a personal reflection of the past year, rather than a list of current events or a political piece, with dates as close as possible to the real month of occurrence.  I enjoy reflecting on the past before starting a new year.  It is good to have new goals and aspirations.

January

  • I began blogging on WordPress.  Yay!
  • A mild winter in Illinois. That’s awesome because I walked a 1/2 mile each way to work due to the scarcity of close parking at my job.

February

  • My birthday month.  Why does it feel like the last 5 years or so are gone in a blink?
  • I attended my second ever University of Illinois Basketball game.  It was a nice family time with my Dad, and Illinois beat Iowa, so that was exciting.

March

  • It was fun to co-coordinate a faculty/staff service outreach at my job.  We volunteered at the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, a foodbank that helps provide food to hundreds of soup kitchens and food pantries in the central Illinois area.
  • I become the proud owner of a iPhone 4.  It is super cool, but dislikes when I try to use it as a PHONE from my apartment.  However, the apps, being able to easily check and write e-mails, and the camera are all great features.
  • Winter Jam Tour at the Assembly Hall with my friend, Sabrina

April

  • My church purchases our own building after the building we rented was damaged by a fire.  My church had been dislocated to a hotel for around 3-4 months, so the purchase of our own building was exciting.

May

  • My friend Carolina moved to Arizona when her husband graduated and expediently got a great job.

June

  • Summer= swimming (in my attempt at fitness).
  • Around this time (ish), I become a poet who publishes on poemhunter.  I enjoy writing poetry, especially about love, heartache, and God/faith.

July

  • More swimming.  Summer seemed to go by at warp speed.  I did get to go see the New Amazing Spiderman on the Fourth of July.
  • I covered many job duties for my co-worker who was off work for 3 weeks due to an accident.  I also spent around 4 months (off and on)  for my co-worker typing forms, scanning forms, e-mailing people (some out of state, out of country, or no longer with my department), and playing Nancy Drew with solving discrepancies in legal check-outs of equipment loans, mostly for laptop.  This was to get forms for approxiately a few hundred pieces of equipment updated for legal check-out.
  • My co-worker who was my back-up was promoted, so it was challenging during the 6 weeks before her replacement was hired and started.

August

English: Script logo of the Chicago Bears

  • I took a min-vacation to see my family in my hometown area.  We took a one day road trip to see the Chicago Bears training camp at Olivet Nazarene University.
  • My friend Amy moved out-of-state in order to complete her degree in Art.

September

  • I spend around $300 on an oil change and new brakes when I am told that my brakes are 95% gone.  I am glad this was found before winter, but sad to try to figure out how to pay for that in my tight budget.
  • My friend Melissa moves to Champaign for a new job.  I was blessed by that fact, but I also got a $100 rent credit when I referred her to my apartment complex.  Yay!

October

  •  After 2 years and approximately 3 months, I got into a close parking lot by my work building.  If you know the ordeals that I went through before this time, you will know why this was a HUGE positive for me (I even paid around $70/month for a few months for a private gravel lot in order to be able to get a break and actually get to places on time after work).
  • I join Pinterest and become semi-addicted.
  • My first ever 5K!  My friend Melissa encouraged me to do it.  I am not a runner, but I loved walking the 5K.   It was a fantastic experience.
  • I voted for my clerical union contract.  We had been without a contract for 14 or 15 months which was pretty discouraging, in spite of my union’s persistent negotiations.

November

  • I paid off my 5 year loan on my 2006 Ford Taurus!  Woohoo!
  • The Woodfield Mall bus trip that I was attending with my Mom got cancelled, but all was not lost when my Mom visited me and we spent the weekend shopping at a outlet mall and many great local places.
  • My first laptop that I have ever personally ordered was stolen when FedEx left it unsigned for outside of my apartment the day after Thanksgiving.

December

  • Old-Fashioned Christmas at my church.  I got to go on a horse and carriage ride!  It was amazing!
  • I bought a new laptop  after my laptop that I ordered online was stolen.
  • E-mail day of action that I participated in (off work time, of course) since my signed union contract giving all clericals a small raise and pay-back got stalled by my University when there was no real follow-through and months of stalemate.  Justice is important.  I will note that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) can locate information that can be quite discouraging, such as discovering that “snack bar attendant” and “helper-kitchen” earned more pay than I did, until recently.
  • I reach over 100 likes on my WordPress blog.  Yes, sometimes I am addicted to my Stats!
  • Christmas with my family, after a two-day delay when my car would not start, got jumped twice, and eventually resulted in me paying $420 for a new alternator and serpentine belt.
  • My first ever pedicure, that was at a spa with my Mom, twin sister, and niece,  It was part of my Christmas gift from my Mom.  It was amazing!

Flashback- Me (on left) and my twin sister, Jody (on right), when we were little

Blog on the Run

Here is an experiment to see how good the WordPress app on my iPhone works to write and post a blog post in a time-efficient manner. We’ll see. For some reason my WordPress app likes to crash, and so it has not been as cool as I hoped it would be. Plus, I am on my lunch break from work, and I went out to eat actually. Yay! I get tired of being diligent and always packing my lunch. I try so hard to be a good budgeter but life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, and honestly sometimes you just need to go out to eat.

So, in honor of where’s Waldo, where am I?  Here is a pop quiz. (See if you pass).
Where is Julie???
A. Taco Bell
B. Chick-fil-a at a food court
C. Little Asian place down the street from my office
D. None of the above

Alright, I will answer the quiz at the end but gotta watch my time. So, yesterday I was thinking about how I really missed being a kid.  Life can get mundane, ok that is true. I was thinking about that great cartoon The Jetsons.  I want a dog named Astro. And a robot maid- seriously that is cool!  In all of our technological  progress, we are not flying around in cars yet. That would be interesting. Yay, deep thoughts. 🙂

I remember when I was a kid how exciting it was to watch Saturday morning cartoons.  I would wake up super early on Saturday mornings just to watch cartoons.  We had cable when I was little, and I thought the Cartoon Network was awesome.  Here is a question for anyone reading this- what was your favorite cartoon growing up? Mine was Scooby Doo, but The Jetsons were cool, too.

The other thing I have been missing was when I was a kid and my family would always go to this amusement park in Iowa every summer and have the best time. We would ride roller coasters and go on bumper cars and have a blast. At the end of the day we would always end up in the Bingo parlor (that sold fudge) and we would camp out and play Bingo.  It was great.  Oh, my family would always play against each other in those fun horse race games (the kind where you roll mini-golf type balls into holes in order to move your horse or where you shoot a water gun into the clown’s mouth to increase and pop a balloon, which moves your horse.  Skee-ball was fun, too.  I lost tons of money playing Skee-ball.  I miss that!

Ok, well gotta go. Answer to the pop quiz: A. Taco Bell (It would have been B. Chick-fil-a, but I changed my mind at the last minute.  Also, the little Asian place is closed for maintenance for 1-3 weeks, from what the sign on their door said yesterday.

P.S. Alright, I am really trying to be better with my grammar and actually edit my writing these days…and I couldn’t resist going back and also adding some cute pics of The Jetsons.  Now, I really want to watch that classic cartoon.  Gotta love old school, it is still cool! 🙂