New Art that Took an Unexpected Turn

As I mentioned last week, I started a series of ACEO art trading card artworks based on various kinds of symbols. I created a couple of these artworks based on Native American symbols, but somewhere along the way of creation, they kind of took a turn of their own and didn’t end up looking quite like the symbols I started with. I figured I would still share them though.

The first one was based on the Native American Hano Clown Kachina Mask image. This one did turn out closer to the original image than the other one:

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The second image was based on the “Spirit of Evil” symbol, but turned out looking far more like a creepy ape lol:

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Both of these new artworks have already found a home with a fellow art lover, but if you like my art, feel free to check out my art currently for sale on my Ebay store!

New ACEO Artwork Series: Ancient Symbols

Recently I decided to combine my love for art and ancient symbology into a new series of ACEO art trading cards. I have several books about signs, symbols, and sigils and plan to make a variety of artworks celebrating my love for these mysterious and intriguing ancient forms of wisdom.

So far, I have made four of these cards, two of them inspired by Shinto symbols and two inspired by ancient Egyptian cartouches (a series of symbols that represents deities or royalty).

The first Shinto symbol is a version of the Good Luck Crane:

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I also did a version of the Shinto Tortoise of Longevity:

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As for the Egyptian cartouches, the first represents Thothmes III:

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And the 2nd represents Hatshepset:

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Please let me know what you guys think of this new series. I hope you like it. You can find these artworks and more for sale on my Ebay store, so check it out!

“The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life” Book Review

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I wanted to write a short review of a book I picked up at the library recently. I found it in the children’s section, but I truly believe it is an inspirational read that anyone of any age could appreciate. It is called “The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life” and it is written by Kwame Alexander, who happens to be a Newbery Medal-Winning author.

The book is a fairly quick read, with much of the book being simple “rules” for success and inspirational quotes from various athletes. There are a few written chapters interspersed throughout that tell personal inspirational stories about athletes that obviously inspired the author. The one that I found most interesting was the chapter about Wilma Rudolph, the incredible Olympic track champion. I had no idea that Wilma had suffered chronic illnesses throughout her childhood, including polio! A woman that went on to win three gold medals for running in a single Olympics was once a child that had only one working leg and had to wear a metal leg brace for many years!

Stories like these mean a great deal to me as someone who struggles every day with chronic pain and other health issues. It makes me feel like I can still make a difference and chase my dreams, even if there are significant obstacles in my way. Another story in the book that made an impression on me was the one about Venus and Serena Williams and how their father would actually pay other children to yell out rude and demeaning comments to his daughters while they practiced tennis as kids. He knew they would face racism and other forms of hatred and wanted to toughen them up. I’m not sure this is actually a good parenting tip lol, but I guess it seemed to work in the long run for the girls.

There was one quote in the book (by the famous motivational speaker Willie Jolley) I took a real liking to:

“A setback is a setup for a comeback.”

Imagine having that attitude about every challenge we face!

Fun Visit to the COSI Science Museum

Today my husband and I visited the COSI Science Museum in Columbus, Ohio. It is only about an hour from where we live and I had been wanting to check it out. We had a lot of fun there today, and my husband even got free admission for being a teacher! Here are a few of my favorite photos of the day:

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They had a large dinosaur exhibit, which is always really cool. I like to see how big these animals really were! I liked some of the mock displays they had of prehistoric wildlife as well, especially this cute one of dinosaur babies:

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My other favorite exhibit was the Oceans one. The best parts of it were some cool cave-like tunnels that led into a huge Poseidon water fountain which was impressive. Here is a pic of me casually leaning on the world in front of the fountain (which I did throw a penny into while making a very special wish):

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Before leaving, we also saw a cool 3-D movie called “Amazon Adventure”, which was based on the true story of Henry Bates, who was an explorer in the 1850’s who helped provide proof for Charles Darwin’s theories of species changing over time due to evolutionary processes:

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“Mini Myths”, Kids Board Books Based on Greek Mythology

I love children’s books. I collect many different kinds of books for kids and honestly probably have more books geared towards children in my library than I have books geared for adults. Recently I came across these “Mini Myths” board books that are made for babies and toddlers (written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli). They feature characters like Pandora, Hercules, and Medusa from Greek mythology and are simply adorable:

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Here you can see a brief glimpse inside the books:

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I think my favorite is probably Pandora, although I love Hercules’ energy and trouble-making attitude. If you work with or have small children of your own, I would definitely check these books out. They are a great way to introduce even the youngest of kids to fun characters from mythology in a silly, playful way kids and parents will love.

You’ll Regret It All

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I recently came across the following quote by philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and it really struck me as deeply true, at least for me. No matter what I choose to do or choose not to do in life, there is always a part of me that wonders if I made the right choice and won’t shut up with the “what ifs”:

“Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.”

Lady Lilith

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“Lady Lillith” Painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Lilith has been one of my favorite mythological figures for years. Here’s why:

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Written By: Maranda Russell

Kick-ass,
Adam’s first wife
you spurned his advances,
refusing to be beneath him,
but had to be equal
or even superior.

The Dark Maid,
The Maiden of Desolation,
are you truly so dark?
Like the owls you adore,
you flex your wings
and curl your talons.

Symbol of fears,
cursed to give birth,
your children murdered,
you seek revenge
from human children,
but who can blame you?

Succubus,
vampire of wet dreams,
refusing to kneel,
you chose to leave
paradise rather than
submit to a man.

New Videos! Artworks for Sale & My DNA Genealogy Test Results!

Hello! I had a couple videos I wanted to make sure I shared with my blog readers! The first is just another look at some of my newest artworks and what inspired them (quite a few of them already sold!):

Also, I decided to do one of those DNA genealogy tests for fun, just to see what kind of results I would get, so here they are:

Hope you guys enjoy the videos! If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to my YouTube vlog channel, Spiritual Agnostic.

Life Update: MRSA, Cleveland Vacation, Freelance Writing, and Book Awards!

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Me at the USS Cod Museum in Cleveland, Ohio

As June 2016 draws to a close, I thought I would do a quick life update. Things have been kind of crazy lately between health problems, summer vacations, book releases, editing and freelance writing, vlogging, etc. So here are a few highlights (or low points) of my recent days:

*We went on an actual vacation for the first time in a few years! We went up to Cleveland, Ohio and went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the USS Cod Submarine Museum, the Cleveland Zoo, Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and Lake Erie. I found some awesome driftwood while walking along the beach, drooled over the Michael Jackson and Nirvana memorabilia at the Hall of Fame, rode a camel, and ate way too much junk food!

*My hubby is fighting off another MRSA infection, which makes me afraid we are both going to be passing it back and forth again. Even with all the bleaching and cleaning we do, that stuff is hard to keep from spreading!

*I am proud of the fact that my career in freelance writing and editing continues to expand, with many repeat customers and brand new clients! My favorite projects are those that align well with my natural interests (specifically children’s writing and poetry), but even some of the more technical jobs have been more fun than I expected! These jobs allow me to continue to do what I love to do and work at home!

*My YouTube vlog, Maranda’s Toys & Books, continues to grow! I have been pleasantly surprised to find out I’m not the only nerdy adult who still loves collecting dolls, ponies, action figures, and other things from her childhood! I am even getting some free toys and books to review on my channel which is pretty darn awesome!

*My new middle grade children’s book, “Creepy, Funny & Just Plain Weird: Stories and poems for kids“, has already been nominated for a children’s book award! Fingers crossed that I win! If you haven’t read it yet, please give it a try!

5 things I miss about the 90’s

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I was definitely a 90’s child. Being born in 1982, I don’t remember a whole lot about the 80’s. Some bits and pieces of those earliest years break through my memory bank, but the 90’s definitely became the defining decade of my childhood in many ways. Now I find myself more and more drawn to songs, movies and other things that bring back those childhood days. When I find myself in that nostalgic state, I find it hard to believe how old I am now and that it has been about two decades since those memories were made. Remembering can make me feel happy and sadly bittersweet all at the same time. Here are a few things I miss about those days…

1. The music. Ok, some of the music in the 90’s was cheesy and stupid. No doubt there. But at the time, it seemed so cool and new. Listening to the soundtrack of my childhood can still make me feel like “one of the cool kids” in a strange sort of way. The music also reminds me of hours spent watching MTV when my older sister had the remote control – back when MTV actually played music. It makes me remember how cool and rebellious I thought Nirvana was and how amazing Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson’s music videos seemed. I also remember how angry my mom got when she caught me listening to and singing along with my sister’s Salt-N-Pepa cd (she especially hated their song “None of Your Business”).

2. The magic of childhood friendship. Is it even possible to have adult friendships that are as meaningful as your childhood ones? I think I have found that magic with my husband, but it is hard to find that connection with my other adult peers. Don’t get me wrong, I was never popular, but I did have some great friends throughout the 90’s. I’ll never forget the hours I spent with a few special people I grew up with. I’ll always remember that feeling of belonging somewhere – even if it wasn’t with the “in crowd”. I’ll never forget the hours of gymnastics, skating and playing ball or sneaking around construction sites in the middle of the night and even getting picked up by the police (who luckily we knew well enough to get away with just about anything).

3. Believing I could do anything. I miss the naivete I had back then. How I thought the world was a big playground and that all options were open to me. I do have a good life now and have achieved many things I wanted, but I never realized back then how hard and cold the real world would be. I wish life were truly as easy as I thought it was back then.

4. The simplicity of 90’s technology. I know we have made huge leaps and bounds technologically as a society in the past two decades, but sometimes today’s technology just seems overwhelming. Now, things become outdated as soon as they hit the market. While today’s phones, video games and computers are sleek, portable and able to do more, they can also become a big pain in the butt. Figuring out how to use all the features on these things can become annoying and time-consuming. When electronics malfunction we almost don’t know what to do anymore, it can shut society down and cause panic. And to be honest, I wouldn’t mind not seeing everyone on a cell phone all the time either.

5. Progress. In the 90’s, it felt like we were making real progress in fighting prejudice, hate, sexism and ignorance. We tried to become more environmentally aware and actually valued science. I’m not sure what happened, but it feels to me like we have somehow regressed horribly. Some groups want us to regress even more and are actually gaining faithful followers instead of being told how freaking crazy they are. What has happened to us? Have we let the fear of terrorists and an economic recession cause us to lose our minds and turn on the very values we all cherished so much? I try to think of what else might have changed our collective goals and just can’t figure it out. I know I might have been naïve back then, but surely I didn’t imagine it all.