Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009: A Year in Review

Let’s face it. It’s been a rough year. For many… including us—it’s been a rough couple of years.

When we rang in 2009, we drank a bottle of champagne and literally grinned with joy and adulation because it wasn’t 2008 anymore. We didn’t think it could be “just as bad”; we didn’t think it could get “worse”. We were determined to make 2009 a better year.

The thing is… that’s easier said than done. My husband was still unemployed, and even though he’d gone through some pretty amazing changes in his attitude and the way he approached life and made choices (thanks to Pathways), we still had that money problem. He was still out of work, and the unemployment benefits were running out.

And worse, I was still a contractor at the time, and prospects for me were all but zero. I got a few weeks worth of work here and there, but the stretches in-between work were getting longer and longer.

Surely this can’t continue, we thought. We were so full of hope. Couldn’t that carry us through?

For a while, yes.

It’s hard to hold on to hope when you’re watching the bills pile up, and you can’t pay them. It’s hard to hold on to hope when you’ve already lost so much, and you’re afraid you don’t have much more to lose except yourself.

And that is never a good feeling.

Faith wanes, hope turns from bright pink to the palest, faintest brush stroke, and the black hole of despair grows wider and stronger. It longs to suck you in.

And it’s easy to disappear into that hole, too.

I should know. I’ve let it happen so many times before.

For some reason, this time was different. It was different because I was so incredibly determined to make it different. I was tired of letting the black hole win, and I knew I had to fight for what I wanted: security, stability, and maybe just a little bit of peace, and a whole lot of trust.

Trust in myself.

Certainly, things worth fighting for…

There comes a time, though, when you’re fighting to stay upright, fighting to maintain sanity, fighting just to continue moving forward, and it feels like you’re stuck in the mud. Like no matter how hard you fight, no matter how much determination you have… you’re still getting nowhere.

You know what that moment feels like, right?

I learned to do something different this year.

I learned to fight for what I believed in, and when it felt like the fight became impossible, instead of only hard, I did something that felt altogether foreign, yet magical.

I let go.

The first time I did it was in my job search. I did everything I knew to do. I emailed everyone I knew, including copies of mine and my husband’s resumes, asking for help.

I searched for jobs—full time, part time, temporary, contract, whatever—as many as I could. I applied to so many jobs that often by the time I’d get a call back, I forgot I’d even applied with that company.

I expanded my LinkedIn contacts. I networked with everyone I met, introducing myself and letting each person know what my skills were and what I could offer a company, in a casual and non-salesy way. (As an aside, this step alone is a huge move forward for me. I had no networking skills a few years ago. Not only was I shy, but I wasn’t sure what to say about myself. Once I realized just how powerful networking really is… I changed that!)

In the mean time, I also made jewelry and posted it regularly to my Etsy store, making sure to keep the postings consistent so I’d get more hits. My sales went up, which helped us some.

In other words, I fought hard for what I believed in: me.

I was determined to keep our home and at least one of our cars. I knew I’d do whatever I could to make sure that happened.

For a long, long time, I got nothing in return.

It felt like I was trying to climb up a never-ending wall. The fight had morphed from hard to impossible.

In the past, I would have felt desperate. This time, though… I had faith that everything would work out. I had no idea how, but I also realized that I didn’t have to know how.

In other words… I let go.

Sometime around then, we received a very unexpected gift: two nice men delivering four bags of groceries to our door.

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more humble or thankful or human than I did when I answered the door and saw those two men.

And soon after that, I got a phone call. A fantastic woman I’d worked with a couple of years ago thought of me when a position came open in her group. We had become friends since then, and she remembered seeing my email asking for help. She thought I’d be a good fit.

She was right!

I started my job at the end of June, and a pretty magical thing happened.

After being unemployed for a year and a half… my husband got a job with a great little company in August.

And now? We’re still recovering from our long period of drought, but my level of stress and anxiety are back to normal. My blood pressure is back to normal, too.

And, thanks to Pathways and getting to be in the training room (as a trainee when I refreshed the last session of the training in August, as well as being a TA [training assistant] in April and October), I gained more and more faith and trust.

Faith in this life I’m leading… and faith in myself. Trust—which is a huge deal for me—trust in the process. The process of just about everything, honestly: learning to see myself as I am—a strong and good woman who has managed to not only survive but thrive despite going through so much, learning to stop discounting my talents and abilities and start giving myself a little more credit, and finally, trust that as long as I give it my all, and let go when it feels right to let go… that I will receive so many precious gifts!

And honestly… it could have been so much worse. We could have lost everything material. Which… while it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, it would have been much, much worse than what actually happened.

We could have lost our minds, or lost each other, or lost ourselves. We could have lost family or friends.

We lost nothing of the truly important stuff… but we did receive many precious, priceless gifts.

Dear 2009,

All in all, you were pretty good to us, albeit in a round about way. Thanks for being here, and for giving me so many chances to see and feel redemption, trust, and faith. Not to mention the value of letting go at just the right moment.

You taught me some valuable lessons that I’ll cherish from now on.

Best Wishes,
Linda Lee

How was 2009 for you?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sherbert Supreme - Add some color to your world!

Hands down, this is my new favorite. Isn’t that focal bead just yummy? I’ve used lots of equally yummy gemstones to accent it, too: citrine, peridot, aquamarine, plus some matching lampwork beads and sparkly Swarovski crystals.

I could really almost eat this one, but I'm not sure it's wise to eat glass. ;-)

This is the perfect necklace to wear when you need a little pick-me-up. Or when you want to draw some attention. Or… when you’re in a playful, fun mood, and you want to give others a smile.

I adore bright colors, and putting them together in a way that’s successful is a challenge I love taking on.

This necklace definitely won’t disappoint… I can’t wait to see who snatches it up!

Now, you may ask: What on earth can I wear this with? I have lots of ideas. It would really pop against a white or ivory-colored shirt... or a black shirt. Or, pick one of the colors in the necklace to wear (a solid shirt) - green, yellow, aqua, pink, orange, or blue. Pair it up with jeans, khakis, or dress-pants... or a skirt! This necklace will definitely beg for attention, especially paired with the lovely citrine and peridot, which are both attention-getting stones.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Blogging: Diary or Product?

I was recently linked to this article for the first time.

It made me think: is my blog a diary or a book?

I'd like to think of it as a jewelry blog that's morphed into more of a whole-picture book of who I am.

When I first started this blog, I wasn't sure where I wanted it to go. Would I use it just to talk about jewelry? Would I incorporate little bits and pieces of my life? Would I tell stories and hope someone might pass along and read them?

I honestly didn't know.

At first I only talked about jewelry-related things. Thing is, when that's all you talk about, you're only going to draw people who are interested in jewelry.

Now I've broadened the topics quite a bit. I have a "feel" for how I want this blog to be, and I hope you can feel it, too.

I want it to be a little piece of me. I'd like you to know me, at least to a certain degree.

I'd like to know you, too, though, and that's one down side of Blogger-- you can't reply to comments individually. It's a serious bummer!

I have even been on a roll lately, with blog posts... except that I got sick last week. I've been pretty much down for the count with a sinus infection and bronchitis. The cough still lingers and I don't have all my energy back (not even close!) but I am at least back at work and feeling more like a human again.

But it put me behind with blogging. I wanted to make Tip Thursday a regular feature, and hopefully a weekly one. I knew going into it that I wanted Tip Thursday to start off with matching colors in your wardrobe to colors in jewelry you wear, but I have a feeling it could morph into other things, too.

After all... jewelry isn't all I know!

All this to say... I'm curious as to whose eyes are passing over this text.

  1. Do you keep a blog? If so, link me in a comment!
  2. Is your blog a reflection of you as a whole, or are the subjects limited?
  3. Is your blog more of a diary, or more of a book?
  4. Do you spread the word about your blog or do you leave it to chance?

Friday, November 13, 2009

What's In A Name?

I love getting gifts. I love to give them even more, but that isn’t the point of this post.

At the top of my list of Things I’d Like to Receive is a priceless gift that everyone I speak to can give me. It’s so simple, you may not believe it. Better yet? It doesn’t cost you a dime!

I’d really just like everyone to call me by name: Linda Lee.

You see, for the first half of my life, I was called by my first name—Linda.

It’s a fine name. I have a friend named Linda. I’ve known many people named Linda.

The thing is... I've never really liked it for me. I never felt it suited me.

Growing up, I often considered changing my name altogether. I always wanted my name to be Elizabeth. I would use the name Elizabeth anytime I wrote a novel. (Yes, I wrote novels in elementary school. One of them even got up to 11 or 12 chapters before I abandoned it.) Even in some of my writings today, I often revert to the name Elizabeth, whether or not I'm in the story. At this point it's just habit.

But back to my first name: Linda. When I left home for college, I considered adding my middle name, Lee.

Over time, I integrated the use of my first and middle name, Linda Lee, into my life—first, through work, then through friends, then through acquaintances, etc.

Finally, I told my family that I'd started using my middle name.

Oddly enough, my sister had also started using her full name. Her name is Wendilyn. Actually, it's Jill Wendilyn, following a naming pattern for the women in my family. She's always gone by Wendy... but within the past several years she's started using her full name, Wendilyn.

I wonder if we both felt like we grew into our names.

Now, of course, I go by Linda Lee exclusively—except for a few errant doctor’s offices and some members of my family, on whom I’ve given up the prospect of ever being called by the name I’d like to hear. (Especially regarding family—it’s about picking your battles, and some battles aren’t worth fighting, ya know?)

I feel that Linda Lee suits me perfectly. Many people shorten it to “LL”, and I've also been called "Double L" Or "Luhluh" or other endearing shortenings of my name.

I think that going by Linda Lee serves several purposes.

Not only does it speak to me tonally, and "fit" who I am, but it fits who I've become as a woman, and who I will be, throughout the years of my hopefully long and healthy life.

Linda Lee signifies the changes I've already worked so hard to make, and the development I have yet to traverse.

(For example, my name gives me permission to be playful and light-hearted, which is a personality trait that’s natural to me, and yet—it’s one I’m working on developing. I’ve kept my inner Entertainer under wraps for far too long, and now she’s coming out to have some fun! See that little girl? That's me... she lives inside me every day, but now she likes to come out to play relatively often.)

I am proud of my name.

Now, most conversations with someone new start off with me introducing myself, and correcting the other person when they call me Linda. I don’t mind, but I do wish people wouldn’t assume that because Linda is a common name, that the “Lee” part doesn’t matter and can be left by the wayside.

Oddly enough (to me), many folks assume that Lee is my last name.

And about 90% of those folks assume I’m Chinese! Until they see me in person, that is. And then—well, there’s absolutely no way anyone could possibly mistake this pasty-white-freckled-green-eyed-blond-haired-big-boned-in-addition-to-overweight-British/Irish chick as Chinese.

Still more people assume that after they call me Linda Lee a few times, they can call me Linda and that’s okay.

It’s not okay, y’all.

That’s like… meeting someone named Robert and assuming he goes by Bob.

Or Richard is Dick.

Or Samantha is Sam.

Or Mary Jane is Mary, or Jane.

(This horse is dead, and yet I’m still beating him…)

I’ve started doing various things to help people understand that I really, truly, do go by Linda Lee. On Facebook and a few other places, I’ve started typing my name as one word: Lindalee. Sometimes it’s LindaLee, sometimes it’s lindalee… in reality, it’s Linda Lee, but that so often trips people up, so I figured writing it as one word offers clarity.

My name is more than just a moniker. It’s a significant part of the identity I present to the world.

So, I ask you—what's in a name?

Do you like your name?
Have you ever considered changing your name?
Any other thoughts you'd like to share?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tip Thursday: Coloring Outside The Lines...

One thing I've noticed, time and time again, when I'm at a craft show or otherwise when I'm selling my jewelry to people, is that most folks don't know what colors can pair together. If someone buys a colorful necklace from me, they often ask what they can wear it with. I then rattle off a bunch of options and they walk away satisfied.

That got me to thinking, though. Not everyone is so adept with pairing color. I'm an artist, so it's to be expected that I'm good at pairing colors.

And since I'm not a particularly selfish person (well, not about this, at least!), I thought maybe I could help others by offering some tips, complete with a photo.

What do you think?


Ok. Here we go.

First tip: Today I'm wearing a green shirt that has shades of turquoise to it... and my necklace is sunstone, which is a gorgeous stone with shades of dark orange, with turquoise accent beads. So... try dark orange with turquoise green. It's an awesome combination!

Sunstone's metaphysical properties: The sunstone gem is a leadership stone, and brings leadership qualities to its wearer. It aids in dispelling fears and phobias and also decreases stress and lifts depression. Sunstone promotes grounding and protection. Sunstone gems also warms the heart and allows the person to get in touch with their life force.

Turquoise's metaphysical properties: Turquoise is porous, so contact with liquids, oils or even perspiration should be avoided. Turquoise is considered a good general healer for all illnesses and excellent conductor. Induces wisdom and understanding, enhances trust and kindness. Brings the qualities of mental and spiritual clarity.


Is this helpful? Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Let's talk about earrings...

Up until about a year ago, I never saw much merit in earrings. I always liked wearing them, and I thought they could add something to an outfit, but they just weren’t fun to make.

(I know, right? A jewelry designer who doesn't didn't like to make earrings? What's UP with that?)

So, I made them mostly to match bracelets or necklaces so that people could buy sets instead of single pieces of jewelry.

People like sets.

I like sets!

But for some reason… earrings just weren’t fun to design.

Until now.

About a year ago, I ran out of ear wires. Instead of doing what I always did, and ordering more… I decided to start making my own. I mean, I work with all this wire all the time, so why not make my own dang ear wires, right?

Little did I know this would open up the world of earrings for me. That’s all it took!

I felt something release in me, and I was able to make earrings just for the sake of making earrings.

I now have lots of earrings that aren’t made specifically to match any of my other pieces of jewelry. Now, a lot of them DO go with necklaces or bracelets I have, but a lot of them don’t.

And I like that!

I never realized that earrings could be so fun to make, and so gratifying to look at.

The only down side is the time. I used to whip out earrings by the dozens… but now sometimes I spend 45 minutes or so making one pair, to get the wire “just right” so the pair is relatively even. What used to take me 10 minutes now takes 45? Wait, I thought I was trying to become more efficient, not less?

Between the hammering, measuring, filing, bending, etc… yes—it does take longer. But it’s so worth it! I can now make earrings that speak to who I am as an artist, instead of earrings that happen to match whatever necklace I’ve made them to go with.

It’s a huge shift in me… in more ways than one. I now find myself craving making earrings, seeing what else I can do with the ear wire, seeing how else I can push my envelope on design.

Sometimes, all you need is a different perspective on life. Something to flip a switch inside of you so you see the situation differently and perceive your reality in a new light.

Sometimes, it's as simple as bending your own ear wire...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bright Blue Uncomplicated Weather

It’s so hard, on a beautiful day like this, not to wish my desk were outside. I’d like to bathe in this glorious sunshine, with the trees swaying back and forth to show off their lovely array of colors and rustling just enough to push my mind into a vortex of days on Alumni Lawn, skipping classes, watching strangers and friends play Frisbee, lounge on blankets, read books, or nap.

I long for those days sometimes. In many ways, life was simpler. I didn’t have so many responsibilities. I didn’t have so many things to worry about. I didn’t have so many obligations pulling me in so many directions. I didn’t have to work so hard to stay in shape. I didn’t have to worry so much about what I ate or shouldn’t eat or did eat.

And yet, if my soul could have been as happy and healthy as I feel now… I’d never have wanted to leave that time. I might have become the Joey Greene of the mid-90s.

Joey Greene was a 7th year student when I was a freshman. He’d hemmed and hawed so damn long that people came to see him as an institution on campus. He was the first person to get to know as many freshmen as possible, and he made it his personal mission to know as many undergrads as possible. He showed us around campus. He avoided questions about why he’d been there so long. He loved school that much, and his parents indulged his avoidance of the ominous real world.

I get what he was going through, though. Even when I did graduate, I wasn’t ready for the real world. I put it off as long as I could, and even longer.

I think the reality is… I suddenly realized how great it could be to be a kid, and I didn’t want to grow up.

I look back on those days with deep fondness and appreciation. I have precious memories of blissful moments, and over time, those far outshine the darkness—which is good, because in those days it was vast and overwhelmingly deep.

But on days like today, I think of little else but leaning against a fat-trunked Magnolia tree, daydreaming about whatever boy I had a crush on at the moment, pretending to read whatever text I was supposed to have already read.

And I realized something: college taught me the value of living in the moment.

A priceless gift, indeed…

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Change Your World

(Updated Feb. 2013)

Let me ask you something, if you’ll indulge me.

Do you think you can change the world?

No, really! I’m serious.

I’ve been wanting to really write about Pathways for a long time now, but it seems anytime I talk about something that can truly change lives for the better… change the world for the better—no one really believes me, or else, no one wants to listen, because change is scary.

Too scary.

I’ve decided I’m going to write this anyway, and if you believe me, then great. If not, then at the very least, perhaps I’ve given you something to think about.

What exactly do you DO in Pathways?
That’s the question I hear most often. Well, here are the basics: you work individually, with a partner, with a small group, and within the whole class, intermittently.

Here’s a wee bit more information…
  • You take a hard look at what’s holding you back in your world and how it happened.
  • You learn to take accountability for your reactions to what has happened to you, as well as the bad habits you put in place that perhaps at one time protected you, but are now holding you back.
  • Through a pretty intense process, you have the opportunity to let go of a lot of baggage that’s holding you back from living the life you want.
  • You learn to identify negative habits that you once created as coping mechanisms. After identifying those habits, you learn how to replace them with positive habits.
  • You put all the tools you’ve learned into practice in the “real world”, including creating a plan for your life.

How long does it take?
The training takes place across a four month span. The first three training sessions are pretty close together. Here’s an example schedule with the name of the training first, followed by the date:

  • The Weekend – Jan. 8-10 (Fri-Sun)
  • The Walk – Jan. 20-24 (Wed-Sun)
  • P1 – Feb. 5-7 (Fri-Sun)
  • P2 – Mar. 5-7 (Fri-Sun)
  • P3 – Apr. 9-11 (Fri-Sun)

It’s an investment that works out to about $10 an hour. And now that the price of the first training (The Weekend) has been reduced to $199, it’s an absolute steal.

My journey
For most of my life, I struggled with such intense depression. It turned me into a needy person. I kind of wore out the people who loved me, because I constantly needed to know that they accepted me. I had high anxiety and lots of anger. I was shy and withdrawn.

I’d tried therapy, I’d read tons of self-help books and psychology books, and I’d tried support groups.
Nothing worked because all of the changes felt too superficial. Nothing felt like it went deep enough to really “stick,” so to speak.

I was looking for something truly different.

I entered the Pathways training. At first, I really knew nothing about it. All I knew was, I’d seen my boss go through it and make a huge change in the way he behaved. He was nicer. He was more responsible. He was more focused. He was happier. He was peaceful. He finally married his best friend—a woman he had loved for 19 years, but he’d kept her at arm’s length because of fear.

Seeing these major changes in my boss, I was not only intrigued, I was downright hungry.

In August 2004, I began my journey to change my world.

The training was hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done for myself, outside of graduating from college. But, it’s also the most meaningful thing I’ve ever done for myself. Today I am a healthy, strong woman from the inside out. My emotional intelligence and maturity are considerably higher than it ever could have been, had I not had the blessing of going through this training.

The biggest, most major thing I dealt with in the first part of the training was my mom, and all the issues I had with her. She was so toxic to me in so many ways… and at one point, I had very seriously considered cutting her out of my life. I couldn’t do it, though, because I knew that would mean cutting my dad out, too, and that was out of the question.

I am even more thankful for my Pathways journey now, because of the healing that took place between my mom and me.

She passed away in November 2012. I am so thankful that we didn’t really leave anything on the table—no unresolved issues or anger. I am so grateful for that—more grateful than words can ever say.

I owe that to Pathways.

Pathways was the beginning for me. It was the start of a new way of life, a new attitude. I felt joy for the first time, ever. Since going through the training, I’ve grown exponentially. I learned how to accept myself for who I am, and in doing so, I’ve taught people (including my mom) a better way to treat me.

I am so far removed from the sad, angry shell of a woman I was back in 2004. Thank God!

I’ve continued my journey with Pathways as a training assistant or TA, where I have the opportunity to help others on their journey. In turn, I continue my own growth, and let me tell you—it’s a process that continues to give and give, over and over again.

Now? Now I am confident, laid-back, and happy.

I have deeper, more intimate, and more meaningful relationships than I ever thought possible.

I'm more productive at work, too. I'm confident yet humble, and I've learned to accept criticism without taking it personally.

I'm proud of where I am. I recognize that I'm a work in progress, but instead of dreading the process of growth, I actually enjoy it!

In a nutshell, I never could have gotten where I am today without Pathways.

I’m passionate about this organization because I’ve seen the results, over and over again. It worked for me, and through volunteering and helping other trainees change, I’ve seen it work for hundreds.

In truth, Pathways has been around for nearly 30 years, and it’s been the catalyst for literally thousands of people to change their lives. Thousands!

It’s not an end-all be-all solution for everyone. While my heart longs for everyone in my world to go through the training, I recognize that it isn’t right for every person. That’s why there are so many options out there, after all.

Our society is in so much pain, collectively… hard-working folks are losing jobs, committed relationships are falling apart, kids are bearing the brunt of poor decisions made by their parents, and individuals are experiencing more pain and hardship than ever.

Pathways is one way. It’s one way to heal—to face fears and let go of pain that’s held you down for many years. It’s one way to gain awareness of how you’re “getting in your own way” and learning what else is in your way that’s keeping you from living the life you want to live—a life by design, rather than by default.

If you’re interested… Click here to register, or click here to donate.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What happens to jewelry after it leaves my hands?

What happens after a piece of jewelry leaves my hands and ends up in the hands of the recipient? I often wonder exactly this!

Whether it’s someone who purchased the jewelry for themselves, or someone who I gave the jewelry to, or someone who bought the jewelry as a gift for someone else, I always hope the jewelry is enjoyed and treasured. I’m no fool, though. In fact, I’m not afraid to admit that I have full knowledge that my jewelry doesn’t always stay the way I intended it.

I even have a couple of examples. I was in a show last year where I showcased some jewelry designed with beads I’d made. One woman kept eyeing a necklace, stating openly that she didn’t like the way I’d finished it (with a silk ribbon), but that she loved the focal bead so much that she might buy it anyway, and do something else with it.

While part of me wanted to impulsively grab the necklace right out of her hands and stash it in my pocket, another part of me thought, “Well, why not?”

And you know what? She did buy the necklace. I saw the look of absolute glee on her face when she gazed at that bead that I had made. How could I refuse that sale? She got something out of it. It made her happy.

And I’m sure she ripped the necklace apart as soon as she got home and re-did it however she wanted to.

I once put together a necklace made with leather and raku beads (not just beads that had been painted with raku glaze, but beads that had been fired using the raku method), as a gift for a friend. I took care to consider her favorite style and colors. I was still pretty new to making jewelry at this point, and I was really proud of the finished product. It was one of the best things I’d made at that time.

Several months after I’d given the set to my friend, I saw the exact beads I’d used in a completely different necklace on her website.

The necklace was for sale.

At first I was upset and my feelings were really hurt. I mean, how could she? This was a gift I’d crafted especially for her.

And then? I got over it.

Once I gave her the gift, it was out of my control. It was her gift to do with as she pleased. In the grand scheme of things, she could have turned around and sold the necklace as her own. She could have tossed it in a drawer and never looked at it again. She could have re-gifted it. She may have loved it but never saw herself wearing it. I have no clue, and the reality is—it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I had the thought to give her the gift.

I think this works for any form of art.

What about a visual artist who sells paintings? She would expect you to frame her painting, but what if it’s more important to you have that you have that piece of art… not so much that it’s in a nice frame? So, it sits on the mantel unframed, so at least you can look at it while other things bump their way up the priority list and you never quite get around to framing the thing.

Do you think that, if the artist knew, she’d refuse sell me another of her paintings?

Well, I can’t speak for all visual artists, but we have four paintings in total from that artist… and only one of them is framed—with a store-bought frame, no less. We fully intend to have the other three framed, at some point. (What can I say? It’s been a rough few years financially.)

Beethoven wrote the famous 5th symphony. Most people only know and love the first movement. But what if the last movement is my favorite, and often the only one I ever listen to from that symphony?

If Beethoven were alive, do you think he’d really give a shit?

Of course not! He’d be thrilled that I found something in his music that touched my soul. It moved me in some way.

Or, perhaps a more relevant example—if a DJ cuts in a few samples of Beethoven’s 5th, thereby modifying his composition and indeed turning it into something completely new and different, is that a bad thing? Is it harmful? My take—it’s actually a good thing. It exposes new listeners to a tidbid of classical music, and they may inquire about the original piece. It modernizes something that many would automatically recognize, and it gives the new artist immediate credibility (which admittedly isn’t necessarily a good thing).

The point is, no matter what, as an artist you cannot have control over what happens to a piece of your art once it leaves your hands. It may be altered, destroyed, broken, painted over, re-sold, etc… and in cases where the action is done out of disrespect, perhaps it’s better that the artist doesn’t know.

I, for one, would stop creating altogether if I was ultimately so concerned about *how* my art was used by the recipient.

Life teaches us that we’re supposed to look for approval and care what others think. But what I’m learning is that what others think of me is none of my business, and in fact, it can be a serious hindrance if I get too wrapped around the axle about it.

Sure, I could have refused to sell that necklace to the woman who wanted to rip it apart—and I’ve seen that happen, too… but when I saw how much she loved the bead, it just didn’t matter anymore.

The point is… once you release your art out into the world, you truly have to let go. That’s part of the beauty of creating.

Honestly, I’d rather that my customers were upfront about wanting a piece altered in some way, so that I could do it for them. It’s something I genuinely try not to take personally. I once sold a necklace to a woman who didn’t like that it was two strands. She only wanted the one strand. I happily snipped off the second strand, and we both got what we wanted—I gained a new customer, I made a sale, and she walked away with a beautiful carnelian necklace.

At that same show last year, a woman showed me a two-strand necklace that she loved. She didn’t want the main strand that actually had the focal on it, she only wanted the secondary accent strand.

Now the interesting thing is, I’d been contemplating making that necklace into a single-strand necklace anyway, so not only did it not bother me that she wanted the second strand… it was actually just what I needed to make the change.

And that’s really what it’s about, isn’t it? Change. Acceptance and rejection. Fear of being “not good enough”.

Well, you know… I say leave all that baggage in the dirt, where it belongs.

There are necklaces I’ve had in my inventory for years, and it feels like something just isn’t quite right with them… I’ll take them out of my display inventory and put them in a bag, waiting for inspiration to redo the necklace. Yes. This happens. I have a pretty full bag of necklaces I’d like to redo, and bracelets I’d like to convert to necklaces, and other various unfinished (un-started, really) projects.

And if a customer wants something altered before buying it… I’m all too happy to do it. I want my customers to be happy with their purchases. I want them to think of me as someone who’s not afraid to push myself and make myself better… I’m only one woman—sometimes I get sick of looking at my own stuff, and if I get a fresh eye on it and someone says “Hey, I think X-Y-Z could hang this way instead of that way”, then once in a while, I may not only learn something new, but I can expand my horizons.

And as you might guess by now, I’m all for that.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More on Murano.

There are few times when I feel an instant emotional connection to something—a material item… a thing.

I had one of those moments when I returned from Murano, Italy.

The trip positively changed my life. As I've mentioned before, it made me feel absolutely connected to creativity again, for the first time in years. I suddenly felt more in touch with who I am. I felt open. I knew who I was again, at the core of my being, and I was unafraid to let everyone see. I felt at home on a torch, wielding molten blobs of glass, when I’d only sat at a torch for a few short hours prior.

I’ve had similar connections before, no doubt. I’ve been a musician all my life—a pianist, primarily, and all of my emotional connection with music fed my ability to communicate through ivory keys and brass pedals.

I lost that ability sometime in college, when the idea of being graded for my emotional outlet caused me to burn out and walk away from playing.

Ever since those days, I have wandered rather aimlessly through a sea of various creative endeavors—writing poetry or essays, and designing jewelry to name a couple—but most of those endeavors have left me feeling somewhat empty or uninspired at one point or another. The ultimate connection between the core of my being and a tangible means of expression was lost upon me.

I lived in Boston for a couple of years, and I once set foot into a piano store with a Bosendorfer front and center. It was the first time I’d ever seen one, let alone been encouraged to touch it. If you’re unfamiliar with them—it’s basically the Ferrari of pianos.

When I saw that Bosendorfer—my heart swelled in my chest and I immediately froze with remembrance of my talent and ability that I’d so willingly tossed away. I couldn’t even touch the Bosendorfer. Instead, I settled upon an electric piano upstairs that had headphones already attached—so my noodling wouldn’t have to be heard by anyone or anything but my aching heart.

I can quickly attach to a piano on a deeply emotional level. But that’s rare with other things.

Which is why I was so stricken when I returned from Italy. I realized that the emotional connection I have to expression has finally changed forms. I no longer craved moments alone to play my homely upright in a rare moment of silent desperation. Oh, no.

I craved the torch, the focused fire, the molten glass oozing its way into round around a mandrel. I craved the folding of color upon color, the swirling of patterns and the plunging of dots and the sparkle of dichroic and gold and silver and palladium. I suddenly wanted to pour my emotions out in the form of glass beads.

So, imagine my surprise when I realize my own connection to glass, and what glass can mean to me.

And then, I saw the bead.

This bead, Murano Magic, made by Sarah Hornik—an homage to a glass sculpture on Murano island.

I felt the same way I felt when I saw that Bosendorfer for the first time in my life. My heart swelled in my chest, and I could feel the edges of my eyes crowding with liquid. I had to have that bead—for what it represents, for the punctuation of what I experienced, for the underlining and exclaiming of all that is Murano, Italy. I had to have that bead.

The timing was pretty terrible—my husband was unemployed, and I didn’t have any work to speak of, and of course—while in Italy, I’d spent a little too much money.

But I had to have that bead.

“It’s silly,” I thought. “It’s a hunk of glass,” I justified.

No good—I had to put a bid on it. Because I had to have that bead.

I lost the auction, but luckily I was able to acquire the bead some months later through a private sale. Lucky me!

It is, without question, a beautiful piece of art.

But it’s more than that. It represents our time in Murano. It expresses something I have, thus far, been unreasonably unable to articulate. It represents a shift in me—a willingness to rekindle my innermost ability of emotional expression. It’s a tangible totem marking my re-awakening.

Murano Magic, indeed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I understand that looking at jewelry online and deciding to make that leap of purchasing requires a certain level of trust. Trust in me to create a piece that's going to hold up over time, trust that the images represent what you're purchasing, trust that once you submit payment I will deliver, etc.

I thought it only fair to ask my customers for testimonials. I hope you find this information helpful!

"I own four necklaces made by Linda Lee and love every one of them! I have a difficult time deciding which necklace to wear, but I'm always wearing one! I love my necklaces so much I special ordered a bracelet for my mother. It's the most amazing piece of jewelry and everyone in my family loves it." --Jodi in TX

"I love your jewelry because not only are the beads handmade, but the designs are always unique. When I wear your jewelry, I know no one in the world has another one like it. That rocks. And your jewelry is extremely well made. I've never had one piece come apart on me. It's elegant, beautiful, well made. Just stunning. Which is why no matter how many necklaces or earrings I have, I keep buying more!" --Emmi in GA

"When I was searching for the best jewelry for my girlfriend for Christmas, I was stuck. I'd visited many stores and web sites, but nothing had that special, unique feel that I wanted for my gift. After stopping by lindaleestudio, I found so many great pieces that I didn't know where to begin! And when I gave her a hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind set of earrings, the look in her eyes let me know I'd made the right choice. Thanks, Lindalee!" --Jacques in CT

"Approximately a year ago I was looking for something a little 'different' in the way of jewelry to give my daughter who is now nineteen & is, honestly, a little hard to please. It isn't that it has to be expensive... it's just in order for it to be a piece she will truly love it has to be 'different' & even a little 'quirky'. She does not like anything too 'girly' or fragile & we have to take issues like length & material into mind because we're both tired of cutting up poor innocent artwork to get it out of her very long, very thick, very curly hair.

Somewhere in there I discovered Linda Lee & her on line studio & Etsy site & fell in love with a corded necklace she had made where all the beads had been strung & knotted in place to form a sort of braided triple strand~~ all in the front, exactly what we needed. When I mentioned to her Morgan prefers a shorter length than the necklace was originally she promptly offered to shorten it. I purchased it & received it so swiftly I was stunned. My daughter LOVED it & literally didn't take it off for a year & constantly received compliments on it~~ & still does. The beads are gorgeous & original & the necklace itself was well made & sturdy; it's been on her neck through a trip to New Orleans, swimming in the Gulf, & her first year of college where her after class job was at a day care & it survived being tugged & chewed on by toddlers. She loves it so much that when I spotted a ring on Linda Lee's site made with the same bead I immediately purchased it also & once again Linda Lee offered to re-size it & it arrived immediately~~ along with a second necklace she also re-sized for us in the same style as the first but with different beads. She immediately put the new one on & now IT hasn't been off her neck since. In fact, the only time I've seen her neck for the last year WITHOUT one of the two was in two pictures taken during her cruise to Cozumel & it was so odd to see her without it that I gasped in shock~~ & learned that while she went snorkeling, another girl went into the city to shop & explore & asked if she could borrow it.

Gorgeous, original, one of a kind pieces which arrive promptly & are very well made & durable by an artist who doesn't get snippy if you 'order off the menu'... you can't go wrong."
--Glenda in TX

If you'd like to offer a testimonial for my jewelry, all you have to do is comment to this post! Thank you so much!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What are You Doing for Indepence Day?

Do you have any plans for July 4th? You know, Independence Day? We don't have plans, but I bet we'll end up doing what we usually do, which is drive to the top of the tallest parking garage in our area and catch fireworks shows from several surrounding cities.

We live the high life, let me tell ya.

I took the plunge and created a necklace with the beautiful (if I do say so myself) red, white, and blue focal bead I made last week. I whipped this necklace up last night, and I have to admit that I love it.
If you purchase this necklace or bracelet by end of the day on Tuesday, June 30th... I'll upgrade your shipping to Priority at no charge! Woot! Check out the details, and let me know what you think.

So, I start my new job tomorrow. I overslept today, which is highly annoying, considering all the things I need to get done. But-- laundry is done, and I already know what I'm going to wear. That's the important thing, right?

Ha! I'm such a girl.

I don't mind, though.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Hair and the Rest of the Beads

Well, it's been a long time since I had my hair cut and highlighted. I'd been wearing my hair in a ponytail for weeks, because my roots were showing so badly... I was in desperate need of a cut... I was totally uninspired by my hair, and HELLO it's HOT AS HELL in Texas.

So, what do you think?

I'm pretty pleased, actually. I haven't had bangs since fourth grade, but I'm liking this look. I think I'll stick with it for a while.

Now for a few beads...
Generally speaking, I'm not as pleased with these beads as I wanted to be... and for at least a couple of them, I can't at all remember what colors I used to make them.

What's more... a few of them cracked. :( User error, no doubt.

Take a look at the one to the left, for example. Such a pretty bead... I used a technique learned in one of Sarah Hornik's classes last year in Italy... and this is the first time that a bead using that technique turned out pretty good. Until, that is... I tried to get it off the mandrel. Dang mandrel bent... and then a whole chunk of the bead came off. GRR!!! I have to think there's some way that a clever jewelry designer could wrap the buttom of the bead with wire, or something, so it can still be used.

I don't know if I'm that clever, though. Maybe I'll give it to Susy and see if she can do something with it. I'm so bummed about that bead.

Ahh well. And here's another one... it's so beautiful, except for the chip, that is. It chipped when I took it off the mandrel. Yes, I did use my handy dandy rivet tool, and I think I've discovered a problem with using that. It puts all the pressure on whatever part of the bead it can touch, see... so if one side or part of a bead is protruding down the mandrel farther than the main part of the bead, that's the part it pushes up against. So, I think that for the more oddly shaped beads... I need to find a better way to get them off the mandrel.

And yes, I am going to try a different bead release. That bead release isn't the best at the "release" part... unless it's my own inexerience shining through-- which it very well could be. Hrm.

I busted a whole bead into shards, too. Not pleased about that... it was supposed to be part of a two bead set I was going to use to make earrings.


This blue bead with the brown dots? Cracked. :( I'm so mad! It's such a pretty bead, otherwise!!

Now, check this one out. It's my Independence Day bead... and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out! I was using glass I'd never used before... some free samples I'd gotten from Effetre when we were in Italy (*le sigh* that sounds so highbrow, doesn't it? Ha!)... and it looks pretty good I think!! I'm going to make a necklace out of this, which probably won't be ready for sale until *next* July 4th, the way things have been going as of late. Oh well.

Oh, look! Another bead that cracked. *sigh* This one is really pretty, too. I am going to keep it and probably make myself something with this one. Bummer that it cracked... but the cracks are minor and really hard to see unless you're in a certain light.

I did manage to make one pair that will make somewhat uneven earrings. The other semi-teardrop shaped bead below is the one that shattered. Those were a closer, better earring match, too.

You know... if nothing else, this is a huge learning experience for me. All the magic of Italy is gone, and it's just me with a torch trying to figure everything out. I think I should spend a bit of time on the forums, trying to sort out some of the newest colors, reactions, and all that sort of thing.

What can I say, though? I haven't been the best at being online lately. I pop in to update my blog, and then I disappear again. I update my Facebook and often my Twitter status from my phone, but I haven't been good about replying. I'm sucking worse than ever at replying to emails, too. My internet habits over the past month or so have drastically changed... I guess I just don't enjoy spending time on the internet like I used to. *checks pulse* Yes, yes, I am still here.

And, since I've really missed keeping a public blog (which I used to do years ago, on my old website), I've been using this site as my public blog... talking about more than just jewelry-- or in this case, more than just beads.

I have all kinds of ideas for topics, but by the time I actually sit down to the computer to write the post... either that topic has flushed from my mind, or I've got something else pressing, or something else entirely is what ends up getting posted.

Kind of like life, I suppose..

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beads from Last Thursday

I finally got the beads from last Thursday off the mandrel! Say hello to my new best friend, the rivet tool!! I saw this trick on a lampwork forum... use the rivet tool to stick the mandrel in and ease the bead off. Better yet, I bought these tiny rubber o-rings so the metal wouldn't come into direct contact with the bead. Still, one of them did chip a little... but I'm so thankful to have this tool! I'd literally worked my hands sore from trying to pry the beads off the mandrels with pliers, a towel, tapping, pulling, twisting, etc... No more! This simple tool makes it perfectly easy.

Now for the beads! The pink one didn't turn out as good as I'd hoped... but it isn't awful. I figured I can add some wire work to it and make it ok. It was a mistake, of course, to have so much more glass on one side of the mandrel when I flattened it, but I didn't realize the glass was lopsided until I, of course, flattened it. But, you can't deny it has pretty colors, and I do think it will make a neat focal to wear as a choker.

Now, this green one is pretty dreamy, I think. I love it! I'm very pleased with it... even though it does have some visible mistakes (and yes, I know, I'm going to be more critical of everything I make than anyone reading this ever could be). Still, though... I love it.

Now for the best!! I love these two. You'll see 4 pictures... one of each side of the bead. What do you think? Personally... I love these. I did chip one of them a bit when taking it off the mandrel, but regardless... I still love them. I kind of want to marry these beads.

I picked up the rest of my beads today, and unfortunately 2 of them cracked. Waaaahhh!!! That sucks! Of course, what would have been one of the prettiest ones cracked. Boo. I think I let it get too cold at the top though, when I was working it in the flame. Ahh well.

I'll snap pictures of them tomorrow and hopefully show them to you soon.

I'm not sure when I'll get to play with glass again, but I can't express just how much I've enjoyed getting to play with glass over the past couple of weeks. Words? They fail me...

Have I mentioned lately?? I start my new job on Monday. Color me excited!

Also, I'd like to do a giveaway in my blog. And I've been thinking about starting blog features, too, where I feature different artists and crafters. I guess that means I'm jumping on the bandwagon, but I don't mind that. It's all about fun, and spreading the word, right?


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two Questions

I can't wait to see the beads I made today... especially the last one. Hope I'm not jinxing anything by saying this, but I especially think the last one is going to be super delicious. Can't wait!!

I drove home feeling the most blissful essence of calm. I got to play with molten blobs of glass for four whole hours today.

I'm not sure when I'll get to do it again, but the important thing is... I got to do it today.

I really just have two questions for you tonight.

1. Have you found joy in your life?

2. Has your life brought joy to others?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Recent Necklaces

First of all, congratulations to the giveaway winner, Natalie! I'll be sending your necklace and earrings to you this week! I really hope you like the set.

Would you like to see some recent pieces? I thought so... I put the chainmail technique to work and made a couple of chokers.

I like the simplicity of these. What do you think?

I especially love this one, though. I love this dichroic bead as the centerpiece. It photographs nicely too, don't you think?
Now, this one uses some of the sea glass and opalite I got in Oklahoma. I used silver pearls and some special sterling silver beads, and of course I brought this all together with sterling silver wire.
I love the sea glass. I made a sea glass necklace for myself, too. It really pops against black!

All of these necklaces are available in my Etsy shop!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Glass & Other News

First things first! Don't forget to enter the giveaway! You have till Sunday to enter. You could win this beautiful set I made!

(Click the picture for details!)

So, the big news is that I got to play with glass on Monday AND yesterday, too! Want to see?
These beads aren't the greatest, but it's not bad considering I haven't sat at a torch in *over a year*. I'll pick up the beads I made on Thursday when I go back on Monday, to make more beads. ;-)
I've missed this so much, y'all. This one has my precious rubino oro (dark pink), with some goldstone, silvered ivory, and I can't remember what else.

This one is just fun, I think. And I needed a few tangerine sparkle spacers. Man, making spacers sucks! It's so boring. I do think I should go back and work on technique-- dot placement, stringers, etc... I'm so out of practice that doing that stuff is intimidating to me. I seem to only be able to do larger dots. The smaller ones tend to be distorted or misshapen, or something.

But, honestly-- just getting to sit there and play with molten blobs of glass, for hours on end... it was peaceful and fabulous. Even better when I didn't have to talk to anyone. I could just be. In my own little world.

This one has a beautiful pale blue with opal yellow, and it reacted nicely with the silver and black. The other side isn't nearly as nice, though, because I ruined the clear dots by putting (smaller) turquoise dots on top of the clear. It just doesn't look right. Ahh well.

I think this one is my favorite from the other day. I love the pinks, and the silver reacted nicely with the ivory and the smidge of intense black I added in. The dots on the side are a super pale amethyst/almost pink. This one is definitely staying with me, and definitely getting made into a necklace of some sort.

I may need to learn to like making spacers, because all these focals without anything to go with them is kind of annoying from a jewelry design perspective.

Basically, I decided to stop depriving myself of torch time, just because I haven't been able to afford getting a studio set up at home. Yes, I have to pay for the torch time... and yes, it's a 30 mile drive each direction... but it's worth it. The peace and calm I've felt over the past few days is evidence that I need to continue carving out the time to make beads.

I do have one other bit of news. I debated giving this its own post, but... nah...

I got a full time job! After months of looking for more contract work and searching for a full time position, an opportunity sort of fell into my lap. I'll be working as a leadership insights business analyist in the Business Innovations department of an international snack foods company. I'm excited about this on many levels-- because of the people I'll be working with, because of the company itself, and many more reasons than I care to list.

Things are finally starting to look up in our neck of the woods... so please keep your fingers crossed that my husband, Brett, finds work soon too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WIN a necklace and earrings set!

Ok, my sale is over, but you can WIN this necklace and earrings set!!!!!! I made this set specifically for this give-away, so there's nothing else like it!

(Click the picture for details!)

Please feel free to pass the word!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday News

I can't believe it's Monday already. Did you have a good weekend? I did! I have a few bits of news to share with you.

First... today is the last day of my sale! I'm not extending it past today, so if you were planning to take advantage, now is the time! Check it out... 15% off everything in my shop!

Second... Stephanie of Tefi Designs featured me in her blog over the weekend. We've known each other for many years but lost touch for quite some time. A few years ago, we ran into each other at a craft show and have kept in touch since then. She's a talented jewelry designer! Small world, isn't it?

Check out the feature she did in her blog. This is something I'd like to do in the future, too! I've been thinking about what kinds of questions I want to ask artists. If you can think of good questions, drop me a comment!

Ok, next... I got to learn a very basic chainmail pattern over the weekend at the DFW Wire Wrappers Meetup. Susy (Susy Jewelry) is an incredible organizer... the best... and she's also an incredibly talented jewelry designer with wire skills that, coupled with her imagination and artistry, push her to create truly amazing, one of a kind pieces. I bow to her wire skills... seriously. But Susy is also a great person-- so gracious, sweet, and caring.

Now that we have a meeting place-- at Patti Bullard's shop... Wired Up Beads (yes-- she is the creator of the now famous Wubbers jewelry tools!). She has an online shop. She's worked very hard to get a lampwork studio set up, and classes are currently available... and now she's opened WUB U, a classroom space where we learned to make the chainmail bracelet and earrings below.

This is a lovely basic chainmail pattern using sterling silver rings. Simple, elegant, and really beautiful. This set will be available for sale in my shop this week.

Finally... I'm going to be giving away this necklace and earring set in a friend's blog very soon! I'm so thrilled with how this set turned out. YES, I am giving away this set!!! Really!! This set is valued at $65!

I'll post an announcement with a link here once the post is up! Keep your eyes peeled!

I also want to post about something special I get to do this afternoon, but I'll save that for another day.

Happy Monday, everyone. Have a great one!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pearls, Pearls, Pearls

Admittedly, I’m not much of a pearl person.

Oh, I think they’re beautiful and all. They’ve got that luster thing going for them… and pearls can definitely make a statement. It’s just… they’re so dang common.

Everyone has pearls. Everyone loves pearls. It even seems like everyone has a story associated with pearls.

If you hadn’t noticed by now, I typically gravitate towards one-of-a-kind pieces, like lampwork beads created by artists.

Note: I did not say artisans. That’s a whole other topic, and don’t get me started on that word.

I’ve just never been a huge fan of pearls, because they are definitively not one-of-a-kind. Anyone can make a pearl necklace that looks good. If you grab pearls, you’re already halfway there because, you… grabbed… pearls. Know what I mean?

I guess I’ve just never come across any pearls that truly wowed me…

Until now.

I love these! These pearls are special. They’re irregular, so each one is unique. Some of them have blemishes. Some of them have more of a gray tint. Some of them are oval, some are round, and some are completely oddly shaped.

And… you know what? That’s why I love them. Between that and their size… which is difficult to find in reasonably priced pearls… I believe these pearls are truly special.

I mean… just look at them!

To give you an idea of their size, it only takes these 9 pearls to make an 8 inch bracelet. The clasp takes up about an inch of space, and you have to allow for the small 4mm Swarovski crystals, but yeah—9 pearls. They average 12mm long, or half an inch… and some are as long as 16 or 17mm. I even have a few that are longer than that!

These babies are absolutely divine. I can’t wait to see what else I do with them!


First... let me say that I have extended my sale through at least June 15th.

The past few months have been incredibly stressful. I don't want to get too far into it, but we've been struggling financially. It's a likely story, and I know a lot of you are probably feeling the same crunch, but it really wears on you after a while. I keep thinking, "When will we get a break?"

And then, I feel ashamed for feeling that way. I have so many blessings in my life-- so many things to be grateful for. And, truth be told-- I am grateful. Incredibly! But I often wonder what's in store for us, when it feels like everyday life is an uphill battle. When it feels like we just can't get ahead, no matter what we do or how creative we get.

The real truth is that I have learned the value of asking for help. Help in finding work, help in keeping us going, help in the form of emotional support, prayers, or just positive thoughts. Help comes in all sizes and shapes, and when I dare to ask for it, it often shows itself in the most needed and often the most unexpected of ways.

I feel so beautifully blessed by all of the friends who have extended a hand to us over the past few months. Whether it's sending us job postings, or even just a thoughtful email-- the words have meant so much, and the sentiment has meant even more.

I used to pride myself on "never needing help". Years ago, I realized this was a silly notion. Everyone needs help. Of course I needed help! And yet, making myslef vulnerable enough to allow others to help me was something so foreign, I could never see myself doing it.

Fast forward to today, when it's still difficult for me to ask for help-- but the difference is, I care enough about myself, and I do trust in the process that is... life. I can put myself out there. I can allow myself to be vulnerable. I can admit when I need help.

Things are finally starting to glance up for us... and we're hoping the light at the end of the tunnel soon becomes brighter, bigger, and better over the next month. 

I've been quiet here, because I have everything and nothing to say. I have thought about sharing more of myself here, but then-- I know that blogs are a dime a dozen... who has time to read everything I put out there?

But... I figure-- I won't know until I try. So, here I am...