Catching Up: A Whole Year of Events and Happenings #amwriting #nonfiction


Good morning. I hope you’re all well. One of the things I have not written in an extremely long time is a personal update. A lot of this had to do with my disability case and the fact that social media was initially used against me to say that this made me capable of work at forty percent of my former job as an administrative assistant.

That was nine years ago, and I was on long-term disability for eight years. However, after a year of dealing with lawyers and the insurance company through my lawyers, I’ve settled and I’m so glad to not have that hanging over my head. I can finally, relax!

img_5419
(Credit: Tao Heftiba via Unsplash.)

However, there are a few thoughts I have been thinking about sharing with you guys from the past year and currently. I think I’ll begin after I first hired the lawyers for my case and initially signing all these forms and files after Christmas. The first thing I learned was to cut my budget from 60 percent of what I was bringing in before, and that took a couple of months for me to become used to, having less available funds. I learned to carefully budget my months beforehand and where to cut spending. Even if I could save ten or twenty dollars and hold off on buying an item until the next month, often this helped my monthly budget a great deal. As well, if you’re in Canada and searching for a great Disability Law Firm, you can contact Share Lawyers. They are awesome if you are initially, denied disability or if your insurance company cuts you off.

img_5420
(Credit: Tao Heftiba via Unsplash.)

As well, I began freelancing on a site called Upwork.com and it took about three months for me to find steady work for a two to three hours some days. I do a lot of academic writing, and that was a learning curve, as writing pays terrible. But even what I earned was better than nothing at about $5 US per page. I continue to do this although I’m taking a break right now for the holiday season and it brings in from $200 to $250 on average per month in Canadian dollars.

So, that’s not bad, and I enjoy the academic research a great deal, and I have written on many topics. Dealing with difficult clients online can be frustrating as face to face communication and affirmation of instructions is much easier than messaging each other. And of course, if the client did not provide clear instructions, to begin with, that’s your fault, not theirs. However, on the other hand, I have some great communicative and thoroughly clear clients too.

img_5421
(Credit: Green Chameleon via Unsplash.)

I tend to enjoy English Literature, Creative Writing projects, Psychology, History, Philosophy, and topics related to these areas the most. Also, although they are rare, Art History and any kind of Design topic or feature is great fun to research and write. I have learned a great deal about American History after the Civil War and into modern times and how that effects present-day America and immigration and other foreign policy. Also, I love writing on favorite poets such as Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath, along with various new poets. Also, I have written on poetic works I know well such as “Beowulf” and “Dante’s Inferno” but compared these to Modern Superhero’s such as Superman or Iron. And I’ve written on feminism and the development of Disney princesses, for example.

As well, from June until September, I did do a couple of blogs per week for a company from Upwork.com on beauty topics including anything to do with eyelashes — falsies, extensions, Mascaras, growth treatments, and natural lash treatments. Also, I reviewed hair straighteners on Amazon and wrote for a business that does non-evasive cosmetic procedures such as Botox, dermal fillers, dermal lip fillers, laser skin treatments, CoolSculpting, and many other fascinating procedures to help people shed excess fat cells or to improve their youthfulness. The neat fact is that many of these cosmetic procedures have medical applications as well.

img_5422
(Credit: Johncoutu.com.)

Moreover, I learned a great deal about blog writing for companies, how conversational and informal it is compared to academic writing. At first, I had to learn to ‘dumb down’ my writing in a sense to write at a grade six to eight level at the most. I learned about a couple of tools that help me both in freelance blog writing and in academic writing. Grammarly is an awesome tool for any type of writing and is worth paying for the add-on monthly, and it works on WordPress too, to polish your writing and save time.

Also, Readable is an awesome tool to see where you need to make your writing simpler for blog or magazine type writing. I wouldn’t pay for it unless you use it 24-7, but you can use it for free a few times a day. As well, since Upwork.com charges you for working through them, you have to keep that in mind, and I would recommend if you work for a client you can trust, work off of Upwork.com, unless they’ll raise your wage. You can both save money after initial jobs on the site. For instance, I made $20 a blog piece and Upwork would take $2.50 off that. Invoicing through PayPal or another system works much better if you have clients you can trust.

Moreover, in a strange way this careful budgeting and knowing I needed to earn an extra two to three-hundred a month quickly, became apparent to me and gave pushed my boundaries. If I wanted to continue to buy my preferred skin care (Clinique), foundation, concealer, and the occasional other items that I could not find in quality drugstore makeup brands, then I had to earn more than what I was before freelancing.

img_0644
(Credit: Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved– At my friend, T’s, June Wedding.)

Actually, the most important aspect of why I needed to make more money each month was to save for the wedding and the wedding events of my two best friends who had wedding events in June and in later fall. Even if I wanted to go out and visit friends, especially because a long bus trip would leave me exhausted before I even had a chance to visit, I knew I had to earn some kind of income. It had to be no more than $300.00 per month at the most to still receive my government benefits as a person disabled from working, and that amount was enough to buy extras and see my friends most vitally.

Both weddings were a ton of fun, and I have many great memories from Bridal showers, Stagettes, and for my one friend T, the wedding itself. Freelance writing permitted me to pay for presents, take taxis, and buy a couple pairs of dresses and shoes. LeChateau outlet is amazing for this kind of event in Canada while staying on a budget. They are an awesome trendy Montreal based clothing store in and not only an outlet.

My second friend, S, had her Bridal Shower at the very end of September and her shower Theme was a ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ theme and her Stagette, a ‘1950’s Rockabilly Theme.’ They were a lot of fun, although, I did not make it to her actual marriage celebration or the following Pub night as I was having a terrible day (health-wise). While T had a traditional wedding which was awesome and a lot of fun, S’s wedding occurred on the field of our Home Canadian Football League (CFL) team field and her actual wedding for all those who could travel was in Varadero, Cuba.

img_4919
( Credit: Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved).

I was looking forward to attending the Cuba wedding initially, but my settlement had been so close to the wedding that it wasn’t possible and even making a couple of extra hundred dollars a month I couldn’t have afforded Cuba in November this year.

Anyways, both brides are deliriously happy, and my friend T is pregnant with her first child who is due in a couple of months now. I received the baby shower invite but already had the gift put together. It’s difficult not knowing if the baby will be a girl or a boy but at least her nursery theme of woodland/jungle animals is quite ‘in’ and I found outfits and blankets along with a couple other great items.

img_5423
Unknown Unsplash

Another friend found out she was having twins and twins are a great deal to handle along with her almost two-year-old. My Mom and I attended a ‘The Handmade Revolution’ craft-show, ‘MakeIt‘ and I received the business card there from a lady who makes these soft terry blankets/towels perfect for swaddling a baby and carrying a larger infant/toddler. Later, they work as towels for kids from three to five years old. I got two bundles with cream good for chapped skin, especially where babies feed. You can check out these handmade goods below if you’re interested. Here’s the online shop called OneBerrie.

Finally, one of the things I had been saving up for was a tattoo, and lucky I had saved it before my income went down last December. I found a great tattoo artist through friends at a place called Eye of Lotus. Megan is amazing, does watercolor tattoos and has a six-month waiting list at least and that’s always a sign of a talented artist along with Megan’s years of training, tattoo portfolio, and the personal artwork around her working space.

So the tattoo took two sessions and was three hours along with a touch-up session which was about thirty minutes but truly brought my tattoo to life. The touch up was only $25.00 but the other three hours were regular price for most tattoo places of repute where I live. Eye of Lotus was also rated highly as a tattoo place in Edmonton so there are also other talented artists there. Megan specializes in watercolor. Anyways, below is the final result.

The tattoo is on my right side and hip. It was not that painful. I mentally psyched myself up for much worse and truly it was pain much less worse than waxing certain areas of the body. The black lines barely hurt at all. Where the color was filled in felt like it burned at first, but I got used to it quickly. Only when the tattoo went right into my side did it hurt. The words of the tattoo have personal meaning and refer to the Bible verse in Romans 5:8.

img_1468
(Credit: Mandibelle16.(2017) All Rights Reserved).

Last but not least, I wanted to share some odds and ends with you guys. I can still apply for my MFA in Creative Writing, and I’m thinking about it. I have to act fast though as I only have a month. I’ve wanted to work on a short story for it, but it’s been hard with freelancing. Also, I do plan to work on my book now shortened to the title How Was Last Night?. I’m still on my second draft, finished until about Chapter 20 or so, maybe a bit further.

However, I’m attending a writers conference next August with my friend who is also writing a book. I have learned a great deal more in a year and want to have the third draft done for this event or at least the first quarter of the book for the conference as we do have the opportunity to pitch our work. Here’s the conference website if you are in the area for When Words Collide. Of course, there are many speakers and a fun Galla at night so I’m looking forward to this as it’s all at the hotel we’re staying at and I think the conference will be educational and fun.

(Credit: Whenwordscollide.org.)

Also, I have a story that is going to be part of a Cinderella Anthology. The Anthology is still being edited and I’m excited about its release. Moreover, if you want to read what I have of my novel in the second draft, it’s on Wattpad under my pen-name ‘A.M.Wilson’ and @mandibelle16. It’s still rough, even the two-thirds of it that are edited from the first draft, but unfortunately, this year has not left me much time work on it except after last Christmas.

But that will change as I’m not paying off debt anymore, due to my settlement. I do not have to freelance as much if I do not want to. Here’s the link to my unfinished novel How Was Last Night by A.M. Wilson. Any tips, thoughts, or constructive criticism can be left in the comments after each chapter so please don’t hesitate to speak up.

Lastly, something neat I found on Indigo this morning that you all might enjoy when searching for something good to read: Indigo’s Best Books of 2017. This list is their top 50 books.

Have a Merry Christmas!

img_5425


©Mandibelle16.(2017) All Rights Reserved.

12 thoughts on “Catching Up: A Whole Year of Events and Happenings #amwriting #nonfiction

  1. Simon December 16, 2017 / 4:35 pm

    Hi ya Mandi, you’ve had a busy time of it not all good but it seems you’ve been blessed later in the year. You’re looking well in your picture and your tattoo looks really good.
    Hope to catch up soon. ☺️
    I’ve been letting bloggies take offer my blog and post on here lately that invite is open to you if you would like ☺️☺️☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    • mandibelle16 December 16, 2017 / 11:24 pm

      Hi Simon, thanks for reading my long update. There are always struggles but inbetween there is always those good things in life that pull you through it and good people too. Thanks I’m happy you like the picture and especially the tattoo. I really love it.
      At the moment I have so much going on that I’m not in a good position to guest post but thank you for the offer. Maybe in the future I can work something out? Enjoy Christmas with your family and thanks again for stopping by 🙂 Cheers 🎄🎈💕

      Like

      • Simon December 18, 2017 / 1:55 pm

        Hi Mandi, what inspired the tattoo? I’ve been thinking about one but I’m not Indies l inspired.
        I hope life gets calmer for you soon ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

      • mandibelle16 December 18, 2017 / 4:21 pm

        Well I have wanted one since my godparents son babysat me when I was 4 and he had tattoos everywhere but I decided that I wanted a pretty one. Not a skull or dragon. Then, being 7 or 8 my class went to an art gallery exhibit on tattoos since the 1600’s and I wandered off. It was an awesome art show and for me memorable. At 18 I couldn’t find the right one. I found a black one of poppy’s a few years back but I wasn’t quite sold. It was watercolor Style but mo color. Then I started seeing these colourful tattoos all over. My hairdresser and aesthetician both had tattoos from the artist who did mine. I combed through Pinterest, finally downloading the pics I most liked and then trying to draw stuff out.
        Finally I came down to the peacock feathers, the Gerber daisy, and the words on the bottom with a font I liked. And Megan put it together and suggested placement.
        My dear friend and great-Godmother passed away at 98 in February. I knew she was dying but this gives me something to remember her by always and what she stood for as a great role model for me. Also, if you knew this lady she was a peacock in life and very much loved to be the centre of attention. I don’t but it occurred to me how blessed I am by the peacocks in my life, especially my dear friend, and how their stubbornness, thirst to enjoy life, and faith in God, has inspired and directed me in life. Both from my friend or great godmother and both from one of my best friends who is battling cancer. She is winning at the moment but in stage 4 but she is beautiful and resilient despite all life has thrown at her and she’s an inspiration and a beautiful peacock too. My Great Godmother is the bigger peacock feather, my friend the smaller. It is my hope that she will beat the cancer as she is doing now and the memory can be her surviving.
        The Gerber daisy is my Moms favorite flower and mine. To me it also represents Home. I am close to my Family and the daisy is carrying a piece of Home with me wherever I go in life, no matter what happens to me in my life. Home is safety & security and having that with me is empowering.
        Lastly the words “I Loved You at your Darkest” was a phrase I kept seeing that really resounded with me and is a direct reference to the Bible verse from Romans 5:8
        8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
        It reminds me that although I have been to some dark and dangerous places with my health, thus, effecting my thinking and at one time, my state of mind, God Loved me still when I was at rock bottom and feeling like life wasn’t worth living. Lucky I had family and good medical care and I was helped right away. What I was experiencing at the time was a psychotic episode where I was hearing things, echoes after people spoke and later from the TV etc. I have never had a psychotic episode again but they are usually pretty terrifying experiences as anything you’ve ever thought or read or learned about can become a delusion. I was I hospital and the things I thought were awful, terrifying, and I was so scared I would lose site of reality when my mind heard mean echos after what people said for real or when my thoughts raced and I believed a lot of bad things about myself, my worth etc. Despite all this God Loved me anyways and was my light in the dark, even when the darkness was myself, my own body working against me.

        I don’t know if that makes sense, it’s pretty deep. But the words remind I’m safe, forgiven, loved, and never alone like I felt during those couple of months. What I have now is much different than what I had 9 years ago but the beginning was a terrible experience. Thanks

        Like

      • Simon December 18, 2017 / 4:28 pm

        That’s such an amazing art of stories and thoughts there Mandi. It shows that your tattoo is like your life drawn out in an image and that’s just the most beautiful thing.
        I hope you never have another psychotic episode and I pray that your friend recovers. Thank your for sharing that with me ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

      • mandibelle16 December 18, 2017 / 4:33 pm

        Thanks Simon. It’s what it ended up to be I think to have something that permanent on me. However, I do think there is worth in having an image you just like an is meaningful just b/c u like it as a tattoo as well. Thanks Simon I appreciate your thoughts. My friend is doing really well, naturopathic medicine is such a good thing to help fight cancer along with regular medical treatments. Thanks for letting me share. 😊🎈

        Like

      • Simon December 18, 2017 / 4:37 pm

        Thanks Mandi, always a pleasure ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Singledust December 16, 2017 / 6:29 pm

    thank you for sharing your life with us Mandibelle! reading it tells me of a live lived so abundantly no matter the storms that try to wreck it. you float and fly as the wind takes you, please know what a treasure you are to the people you come into contact with. You can’t write about lovely encounters like you have just done if you the person you are were not a beautiful magnet for such awesome memories. I wish you only the very best in the coming year and that every situation you have to deal with you will do so with your sweet grace and elegant spirit. you are a beauty my friend inside and out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mandibelle16 December 16, 2017 / 11:20 pm

      SD, you are so sweet and generous yourself I’m glad you enjoyed my Update and hope to do them a bit more often. Your words touch me, thank you again. I hope this season isn’t too difficult for you and please know you too are graceful and elegant of spirit and deserve so many good memories and good things in life. Have a Merry Christmas my friend. I’ve been so happy that you can blog again and have time to spend on your wonderful writing. Hugs and Cheers. 🙏🏻🍷🎄💕

      Liked by 1 person

      • Singledust December 18, 2017 / 3:26 pm

        Happy Christmas to you too my sweet friend and lots of good cheer but peace always at days end as you sleep wrapped in the warmest of family love. Thank you for your lovely wishes, it’s my heart’s treasure you know. It’s both a difficult yet joyous time, I know I will get through it with a lot of tears but plenty of smiles to balance it out too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • mandibelle16 December 18, 2017 / 3:59 pm

        I’m very glad to hear that ❤️🙏💕

        Like

  3. mandibelle16 December 18, 2017 / 4:25 pm

    P.S. My recommendation is too look on Pinterest for all kinds of tattoo ideas. Websites of tattoo places are excellent as well. And make sure your sure. Good luck and have a great Christmas 🙂

    Like

I’d Love to Hear From You. Feel Free to Share Your Thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s