Getting Back in the Flow of Life

I feel it’s inevitable when you make a big life change, like moving. This week, I’ve been getting used to the house, getting acclimated to the area, and it’s been nice just chilling and relaxing and kinda sorta ignoring responsibilities for a time. For me, if I do that for too long, I get into a pattern I like to call loafing around – where you just sort of veg out on hulu, Facebook, YouTube and anything that can keep you from doing what you should be doing. Is it fun? Oh yeah totally! Gimme a marathon of South Park, Supernatural and The Voice and I’ll see you in July!

Oh.

Right, I need to do that practicing thing…and that blogging thing…and that recording thing…

Sigh. Well I guess it couldn’t last forever. Time to get off my butt and get back to work!

What I do to get back on track when I get into these slumps is twofold:

– I make a schedule for myself, a short list of the things I need to do for the day. Even if I don’t look at it again, I function far better when it’s been written down. When I write a to to list of sorts down, it sticks in my memory far more than if I’m trying to just remember to do something with my horrible short term memory. This happens a few days after my next step, however, but since my second step is more of an ingrained, long-term process I go through I put this step first and foremost in my mind so I can have it front and center and not forget to do it.
– This step is more of an ongoing process for me, but it works wonders! You know all of that YouTube, Hulu and Netflix stated above? Well, why not use that to your advantage! I surround myself with things that I know will motivate me to do what I need to do. I watch The Voice, sure, but I also pay attention to the advice the coaches are giving their singers, and the techniques the singers are using in their songs. If I hear a song that I like and think I’d like to cover, I add it to a list of songs that I keep that I either need to learn, or practice. I pay attention to the styles that the artists are using as a sort of “What singing trends are in” guideline to stay in the know with the industry. And finally, what I think is the most important part of watching The Voice is the inspirational quotes you can get from the coaches! I keep a running word document of quotes I think will be motivating for me and write it down as close to verbatim as I can. If not, I paraphrase but it helps majorly for keeping me going and keeping me singing!

Are you a business owner? Why not watch The Profit and Shark Tank on Hulu. I do that, too and love learning while watching entertaining television. When I read fiction, I soak in the style to see how authors write pros and see how I can build my craft. Or, if non-fiction is more your thing, read a book that you know will motivate you to do whatever it is you’re putting off. Doesn’t have to be a self-help book – it can be anything! Just something that will help you get back into the flow of things and move forward. You’d be surprised how helpful doing something you consider an affirmative action can be for your self-confidence!

Getting back on the horse known as life is both exciting and exhausting. It’s nice to take a break from reality for a while, but at a certain point I get majorly restless and want to get going again! Have you ever gotten in a chillaxing sort of funk? What did you do to get out of it. I’d love to read in the comments!

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Home at Last, the big move!

My grueling weekend of stressful moving and transport has come to an end, and on Saturday night I arrived at my new humble abode. My experience so far has been nothing but positive: I adore the house, it has a great little patio with a view of the ocean, and you can hear the waves crashing and smell the sea breeze all through the place. I’m a beach girl, born and raised in sunny California, so I simply adore being literally right on the beach. I only have to walk a block, and bam ocean! So awesome.

With beach comes hunting for shells – our land lord said it’s a gold mine of shells on the shore, and I can’t wait to go explore and find some to incorporate into jewelry pieces.

It’s hard to say everything I love in text honestly. I have my own room again (woo!) and have been recording stuff here already. You can find my first song I’ve done in my new home here – just so nice to have the freedom of singing without having someone have to come in and use the bathroom…the bathroom was in the master bedroom in my hotel, I wasn’t just singing in the shower XD but yeah, have lots of privacy, and for an introvert like me, I’ve missed it so! We moved to a small, seaside town and it’s just so chill and relaxed and everyone is so nice, it’s way out of the usual norm of the hustle and bustle of Chula Vista and honestly is a great change – gives us time to think, regroup, and work our businesses yay! Now to stop getting tooo relaxed by the waves and ocean breeze and get to work but aaah it’s just so calming zzz.

I’m really proud of what me and my family accomplished with the move. We had no outside help, just the three of us, and it was difficult, sure. We all got up at 4 AM on Saturday to both move all of our things into a storage facility, then get down to our new house. Took longer than expected, but I think we made a lot of good choices to cut down our stress levels in the end. Instead of trying to handle a giant truck, my Mom rented a pickup and we took things to storage in three trips. Instead of taking public transit down to the place, and stressing ourselves out with our luggage and our tired booties, we decided to take a cab. It cost more money, sure, but what we saved in our sanity was worth it – took us one hour to get there instead of the usual three or four on public transit!

So far, we’ve just been getting acclimated to the area. We went to the nearby mall and have been walking around the local haunts of the community. So far it seems super nice and I can’t wait to explore more!

I have to work all the kinks out for podcasting – I really want to talk about this, but have been debating how to go about it. I wanted to have an episode done before this post, so if I don’t I apologize! I will definitely have an episode up before the end of the week and link it here when I do 

So that has been my crazy hectic weekend. How was yours

Putting Yourself Out There

Last weekend, I started a little mini-project. I have a lot of live performance videos floating around on YouTube, and I wanted to have them all in a centralized place. My manager handles uploading videos, and they had been uploading videos on their own channel, but after doing some research, and finding that having a centralized YouTube channel would help build my brand, and my views, I decided to take the plunge. No matter what type of video, how old or how new, I was going to upload them all onto one channel that would be easy to find (and that had the same name as my other career sites) and thus, Crystal Dennis Music was created. After a week of downloading, re-uploading, tagging and processing three videos a day (I have to pace myself or else I burn out) she liiiiives! Now I can give her over to my manager because uploading is harder work than I realized blerg.

During the process, I’d stop and listen to some of my older videos. One video, in particular that I’m thinking of, is an old interview I did in 2012: It was done in a park, had a lot of background noise and when looking at it now I was just like wow…should I even upload this? I was a little embarrassed to be honest – the quality of that video, compared to my newer ones from this year was not…the best. I almost didn’t put it up because I thought to myself “I have better stuff up here, not putting one video up is ok!”.

Upon closer inspection, I realized I was afraid. For some reason, in my mind, putting those older, not-as-good-videos on the channel was putting myself out there in a way I felt I wasn’t ready to. They were already up online, sure, had been for years but…putting it on a new, official channel? I was putting myself out there in a way I hadn’t before and it was something that for days, I wasn’t willing to do. In a way, perhaps, it was me admitting some sort of failure? A lack of success? I don’t even know, it’s kind of silly when I think about it now and I don’t know what I was afraid of. After the upload I realized something: Why would putting up old videos be some sort of admittance of failure? When I saw 2012 videos back to back with 2014/2015 videos, it made me proud. I was happy to see how far I’ve gotten, both with my singing, and with my confidence. I’m a lot more confident in my abilities now, and know for sure that what I’m doing is what I want to do, when a few years back I wanted to follow this career path, but had something holding me back from doing so. It’s nice to see my singing technique improved in 2015 videos, and seeing my stage presence slowly evolve into what it is today. And when it comes down to it: why wouldn’t other people want to see that, too?

This year I am focusing so much on getting out of my comfort zone, on putting myself out there. One factor of that equation is making sure you aren’t back-peddling into old habits, and I almost did here. It was scary, and hard to face, but after a few days I realized how hard it is to just grin and bare it and fight through the unpleasantness of something you don’t want to do. And you know what? Next time I have to fight through fear, it’ll be easier!

I’m glad I finished this little project before my big move. Now, when I get to my new place, I’ll be able to focus on other projects I have in the works. Next time I talk to you guys, I’ll be at my new home! So excited XD can’t wait to talk to you all at the start of my new life adventure!

New Adventures, Ahoy!

Have you ever gotten to a point in life where you have so many aspirations, so many plans for yourself that your current situation just aren’t fulfilling? Where in order to do what you really want, sacrifices have to be made whether they be financial, or by thinking outside the box. That’s me, and my family right now. We had an apartment fire in January and it’s been a struggle getting back on our feet ever since. We’ve been over paying, and staying in a hotel for five months and it’s been a struggle that’s taken a toll on all of us. So…we all decided to think outside the box and move somewhere we wouldn’t normally think of moving. Honestly? I’m excited! It’s a beautiful house on the beach and the rent is what we were looking for – we’ll be able to save while we’re there, while simultaneously save money and build our businesses – which I plan to do! I’m really anxious to get there and start working on all of my crafting, my internet businesses, and overall build our brand as a family. I’m holding out on where the location will be for now, because I have plans to vlog about the experience so I have a little journal chronicling the journey.

I have so many things I want to do there I have to write it down haha. Like, I feel like the opportunities are endless, just moving to this new area and all we have to do is be creative and push forward. It’s going to be such a fun adventure living in an area I never have before!

Things I plan to do:
Take advantage of living so close to the beach – actually walk (gasp) and go out more.
Figure out the terrain – get my Mom to show me around, then shadow me so I don’t feel so nervous about going around the general area. A fear I always have I have never fought through.
At least try some crafts I have wanted to do – sewing, cooking/baking, maybe soap or lotion making? Seems so scattered but I need to get all of this out of my system!
Start recording again W00T!! I’ll have my own room, and not only that, but I’ll have a room that does not house the only bathroom, so I’ll have full on privacy when I want to record lines and songs and aaaah I’ll have my own solitary recording space again EEE!
Just soak in the atmosphere – there’s horseback riding nearby I really, really want to do (I used to ride as a kid and stopped, have always wanted to pick it up again)

Aaaand I think that’s it…for now XD we’ll see when I actually get there. But yeah couldn’t be more excited for this week to be over, and for us to be in our new place!

New adventures, ahoy!

Chainmail Chronicles: First Finished piece and wrap up

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Above is a picture of my first finished chainmail project – six copper chainmail rings dangling down in a straight line, with a small, turquoise bead at the top and bottom of the chains. I decided to go with a pair of earrings, because I didn’t want to have to attempt to connect the two pieces of chain that had fallen apart the night before. I also wanted to just have a completed piece, so I could move onto something else and have my first completed chainmail piece under my belt. Overall, I like how it turned out! I was winging it with the earring design, and had to tweek it a bit here and there. After showing my Mom the earrings, she suggested to add another turquoise bead at the bottom of the chain to make the piece look complete, and I liked it. Before, it looked like this:
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The earrings, with a bead only on the top of the chain

It was nice, but definitely was missing something so I’m glad I showed it to her for some input. Also was debating fixing the longer loop and ultimately decided to – it was scary for me to tinker with it because I was afraid I’d ruin the chain by cutting off the bead dangle, so instead opted to open the loop a little and slide the dangle off the ear wire. After I was done, it had a more professional finish.

There were some troubles along the way assembling this thing! I’ve never been a fan of making earrings because I hate having to thread the small pieces onto the ear wire and close them and possibly distort the piece (like by having one bead dangle longer than the other which happens to me a lot) but with the jump rings, it was a lot easier to thread the chain onto the ear wire. When I put the head pin with the bead dangle on there came the hard part. I really need to get a ruler or something so I can measure lengths and have consistent loops. The first earring was easy, but the second one I had to use three headpins before getting it to stick at the length I want it to. When I threaded everything onto one ear wire, it kept on falling off and I was freaking out that my jump rings weren’t closed all the way – but then the bead dangle fell off too, and at closer inspection the ear wire had been opened a bit, no clue how that even happened! It was majorly frustrating because the first headpin I had had both turquoise beads even and if I had noticed before I would have just fully closed the ear wire and been done instead of trying to re-adjust with a new headpin. Next time I’ll check every piece of the assemblage before jumping to conclusions, will probably make my life a lot easier in the long run!

It wasn’t easy, by any means to make the adjustments to the earrings – I fought a lot with cutting headpins to the right size, trying to thread them on with itty bitty headpin pieces left, and then not having enough of the pin to close. It was soooo annoying! And I wound up opening the ear wire again, but then that gave me an idea! Instead of trying to open and close the headpins, why not just thread everything onto the ear wire while it’s open and then close that? So I did and it worked perfectly! I will probably be using that as my earring making technique from now on because it was soooo much easier . A jump ring was a little open, but I luckily could close it enough so the second turquoise dangle I added to the bottom stayed secure. And as another alternative method, I decided to try not snipping the head pin until I made the loop, made sure it was closed and at the length I wanted, then cut off the excess. Worked like a charm and also will be another technique I adopt into my jewelry making arsenal!

And thus, ends my first Chainmail journey. It was very interesting to say the least, I think I learned a lot about being patient and staying persistent – the hardest thing about this whole experience was not giving up on a technique I’ve always wanted to learn, and I’m glad to say I stuck with it until the end of this small project. I also learned how to feel for the most part when a jump ring is closed, and how to keep my work from vanishing when I drop it. Also, to check all parts of the finished piece before going to fix it! XD

I was reading that the rhythm of chainmailing was very calming, and when I first started I was like “That article was cray this is so frustrating blarg!” but, when you get into the process and can do all steps of the technique well enough, it really is a nice way to get your mind off things and just zone into your work. Can’t wait to do more patterns with this technique and get better at it!

What will I do next? Why, practice chainmailing, of course! I still have a long way to go before being super special awesome at it, but I am happy to say my first chainmailing adventure has been brought to a close!

Chainmail Chronicles

I was sosososo excited! I just had to share EEEE like progress yay!

In an earlier post I spoke of my chainmailing woes. Well, that same night, I did my usual routine: going to bed a bit later and practicing for an hour. The nights before, I kept on losing my in progress piece while attaching a new jump ring. Like, it would go flying somewhere and I wasn’t even going to attempt finding it. It was late, and dark because well, I don’t need the lights on to practice lol. But last night, I not only didn’t lose my work, but made the longest piece to date, in the shortest amount of time!

Usually, it would take me an hour to an hour and a half to connect four links due to the learning curve. My sighted friend, and online tutorials, said it was easy to do, which is true, but there’s always that learning curve for a blind person in which you have to get a feel for the materials and the technique, fix what you’re doing wrong, try and absorb as much of the process to perfect etc etc. So my first few days was just doing that. But last night I had a major break through where everything just sort of clicked, and it was so exciting! I was opening jump rings and threading them onto each other like a boss, and within a half an hour I had a chain of eight jump rings, woohoo! When I went to add a few more, one in the middle of the chain wasn’t secured as much as I thought, so it broke in half, but still major progress. I put my beading board under my work (which should have been an obvious fix for dropping pieces so derp) and when the in progress chain fell, it fell onto the board, made a noise and was easy enough for me to find.

I am so happy! It really gives me the confidence to continue with the process, because I’m doing most of it right. I’m debating either continuing the current chain, using both pieces to make a pair of earrings, or trying to just link both pieces back together – I tried doing that last night and it was kind of…difficult. One piece is a bit longer than the other, so I am thinking of just continuing that piece and then working on the smaller piece later, we’ll see!

But yeah, I couldn’t be happier about this, you have no idea haha. There’s only up to go, or something like that! XD

I’ll be posting pictures fosho of my finished piece when I figure out what I want to do with what I’m working on, so stay tuned for that!

Jewelry Journey, Chainmail Woes!

I have had a love hate relationship with jewelry making. Aka, I bought giant clunky pliers to do all the work, they were hard to work with, and I have been doing designs on and off for a year and a half or so. I still keep up with the trends and snizzy, and had a specific type of jewelry I wanted to make from the getgo. So of course, when I couldn’t figure out how to make the jewelry I wanted to make, I went to just doing the basics: Stringing beads onto beading wire, crimping the ends, and tah-dah! Pretty pieces that I get to say “I made that, wee!”. And yes, you do get compliments on that sort of stuff, and people do give you the ‘Oh!’ face and are impressed you made what you’re wearing, but as a creative person that really wasn’t doing it for me. Sure it was pretty, and sure it used some of what I originally wanted to work with, but it wasn’t challenging at all. Eventually, I got bored and stopped designing anything.

I still, and would still, look at jewelry making tutorials online. Youtube is a tutorial gold mine, as are jewelry making sites and Beading magazines. Well, eventually, I stumbled upon wire work – and whoa! I loved the concept. Getting to manipulate something to create a pretty piece of jewelry, with your hands? I’m so there! I adore anything tactile to do (call it a side affect of the blindness lol) and when I can, I put my hands on anything I’m working on. No matter how much I research, I just have to take that final step when I’m excited for something and buy all the materials and work on it, hands on.

So I did!

Forty dollars of wire and jump rings later, I Was deep in the trenches of wire work. Was practicing wire weaving, attempting wire crochet with very little success, and eventually made enough bangles to be like “Hrmmm, what else can I do with this? I thought I could make my own designs with these techniques, how lame!”

Give up, number 2!

Once again, it wasn’t what I was looking for in terms of designing my own jewelry. I had gotten into the ball park of what I had wanted to do, which was good, but still wasn’t doing much for my creative itches with this craft. Back to the drawing board once again for Valky!

I started talking to a friend about crafting. I think in passing, she mentioned she did chainmail. At first, I dismissed it as something I wanted to do because I had tried it a bit a few years back with an instructor, failed at it hardcore after about an hour of trying, and repressed the memory because shploooog it was so hard to do. When my friend said it wasn’t hard, I was like, “Well, I know more about making jewelry in general, so why not try it with what I know now?” bought some cheap jump rings and…

Shplooooog!!!

I had those stupid humongous pliers with these itty bitty rings and I just couldn’t grasp the jump rings to open and close them aaaarg! I had sworn off using jump rings, even in jewelry making – you can close things with head pins and wire and loops and screw chainmail I’ll buy chains if I really want to use one in a design!

“Valk, you need smaller pliers,” my friend says.
“There…are smaller pliers?”

I did the research (once again, with help from my friend) and herpaderp! I had crafting pliers for a year – way too big for anything I wanted to be doing. My loops were huge when I made them, things were hard to grasp, and overall my designing experience was horrible and I feel like that is in part why I gave up so quickly. But now hurray! I got smaller, jewelry pliers – the tips are great, nice and narrow – and now I have gone back to working on chainmail! Mainly because I need smaller gages of wire to do some wire work I want to do, and I have jump rings now. My progress?

I’ve been practicing an hour a day, and at first I wanted to give up. But I told myself – just practice an hour a day. No matter what your progress is the day before, an hour a day isn’t hard to put aside to practice, right? Right! It’s been 3 days now, and I am happy to say it’s been going decently well! I’ve been practicing opening and closing jump rings, then linking them. I went from having a four ring chain, to five in two days! Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s an accomplishment for me and I’ve found myself getting into a rhythm of opening, closing, linking, and closing again to make a chain. Now my next hurdle is uh, not having the chain-in-progress fly out of my hands when I’m trying to close a newly linked ring lolol. Overall though, I’ve been enjoying the process – both the good and bad parts of creating, and it gets me excited to try different wire techniques, and buying more tools! I want to get some mandrels for shaping wire, nylon jaw pliers, a hammer for shaping and texturing wire, wire wire wire…

So yeah, I am hooked on wire work, if that wasn’t apparent! I’m really happy with where I am on my jewelry journey, and am determined to start creating again. I want to buy supplies, materials, and all that jazz gradually so I can truly create what I have always wanted to – which I will talk about later! This post was just supposed to be about my chainmail adventure, woopsy.

What about you? Have you had any hobbies you’ve been determined to do well? Any you just did and didn’t find were for you? Leave a comment and talkity talk about it!