Taking Things One Week At A Time And Playing With Shimmer Sharpies…

Well, I think this week’s blog may take on two different themes because I just don’t think my brain has been thinking in a solid frame of mind all week. I am feeling the pressure of the semester and just trying to keep my head on straight throughout this online semester. Also, I am trying to allocate the time for myself to open up and feel creative without the pressure of needing to post something about it.

Let me start with the not so fun stuff, like laundry that has piled up to the point where you have no more clean pants. Or that therapy appointment you know you should go to, but you are insisting to yourself that it’s going to take up too much time, so you don’t go but instead of being productive you just scroll through social media. Not to mention the hours’ worth of homework you are actively procrastinating while you imagine all of the ways your classmates could be judging you during zoom classes.

Life is moving so fast that in one moment I may feel like I am rocking productivity and the next I am literally laying on the ground crying because I don’t think I’ll have enough time to read everything. I am the type of person who is always looking ahead, trying to plan and strategize for any future inconvenience while still trying to put out all of the current fires in life. In some respects, I think this has helped me throughout life because I am hardly ever surprised, but when I am surprised it sends me off my rocker.

I think as I grow older the number of things that can be planned out and strategized for continues to dwindle because with age comes the wisdom that nothing is predictable. So, my ability to constantly look to the future may help me with school projects but for the majority of life that isn’t schedulable, I think it makes it harder for me.

That is why I have been practicing taking things one week at a time since I have started the fall semester. Breaking my energy up into weeklong segments allows me to focus my time on the tasks at hand while still being able to look to the future but just for a week or so. If I try to think of all the projects, I’ll have to turn in by the end of the semester I just end up stressing myself out. Each week all I need to worry about is doing the reading for each of my five classes, complete two to three quizzes, post to discussion boards, complete two to three weekly projects, and of course attend my classes.

Within that week, each day I just focus on finishing whatever tasks are due first and I cannot explain how much this way of thinking has changed my life. So, maybe a week is too short for you, or too long but either way I truly believe that at least consciously knowing every task you need to complete and when is a game changer to productivity.

With this method of mental organization, I usually end up leaving my painting or creative time for the weekends. More often than not I just find time for my creative endeavors in the evenings or early mornings when I can convince myself I have caught up on homework. There have been a few days that I chose to focus my mental energy on something for my little business rather than homework and I quickly regretted it when I came out of the creative trance.

Needless to say, creativity sometimes takes a backseat when I feel like I have a million other responsibilities and I couldn’t tell you why it makes it harder when I feel the pressure to post on my social media outlets. Considering I don’t want to see myself fall out of practice, or worse just stop altogether, I have been channeling my inner silly and trying to have more fun.

Since I try to finish a painting every week, this week I wanted to add a little something extra to the art. I painted a typical scene I find easy, some clouds and a mountain top, but the dried product was so bland I decided to add some sparkle. Metallic Sharpie’s are always fun to write with, so I picked some up and went to town on my boring painting, trying to create something new and exciting.

The first stroke was the scariest because I knew that I couldn’t really paint over it unless I wanted to completely restart my painting and video. Once I placed that shimmering gold sharpie tip on the canvas I just hoped for the best and glided it across the slightly defined mountain tops. By the time I got to decorating the clouds I was just playing around with different shapes and patterns but eventually decided on a simple dot effect, this meant I had to fill in quite a bit of my mistakes.

In the end, I was left with a simple sparkling design (if you catch it in the right light). It may seem silly and I’m not sure exactly when else I could use this technique, but I did enjoy getting to do something brand new to me. I think it freshens up creativity and hey now I’ve got a new multi-medium art piece. Thank you for reading this week’s blog and make sure to check out the video of my sharpie creation!

Copyright © 2020 Serra Isabella. All rights reserved.

Choosing Colors As A Beginner Artist…

One of the biggest challenges I face in my daily painting is color choice and tone because frankly I just wing it and like painting with monochrome pallets when I’m lazy.
When I took my painting class during the spring, I learned the basics of the color wheel, how to shade, and how to blend different colors, even skin tones briefly. I have always” liked” painting but I never considered myself an artist in any form of the word.

I wasn’t the girl in high school who was obsessed with painting or drawing, I only started painting a lot when I was maybe eighteen. For the first few years of high school, I was really involved with musical theater and choir, but I suppose I would draw little sketches on scraps of paper at my first job. Of course, now I remember the countless doodles all over my notes because I liked to make the holes in the paper little people heads, and boy don’t wish I kept those pages. the last year or more was online high school (not exactly typical).

Serra Isabella

To get through that topic as quickly as possible, I only started considering myself as someone who does art later into highschool. All in all, it has only been about two years of painting somewhat consistently (but I must admit it has been mostly inconsistent up until recently). I think I felt really overwhelmed by other artists on social media because everyone seems to have such beautiful color schemes established.

I felt like a floundering artist who continued to pull out absurd and “slightly off” colors. I spend hours upon hours looking at the colors in the isles of my favorite craft stores, comparing shades, buying a few to compare opacity and texture. It first started with the cheap crafting paint found at grocery stores but since taking a painting class I have realized the importance of the product quality. There is a major difference in the color you get out of paints found in a set or paints you buy individually, and the colors you can create vary greatly.

Serra Isabella

I could go on and on about paint and texture, opacity, vibrance, etc. but what continues to baffle me is mixing colors I like to paint with. I can mix a brilliant orange-red color for sunset but then when I am mixing a forest green to compliment that brilliance, I end up feeling like an amateur. The more I learn about color theory and observe artists I admire; I notice that shading and tone are where this color choice really comes into play.

I could mix reds and greens and yellows or blues all day but there will be no dept if there are no light spots enhanced with white paint or shadows pulled down with black or blue paint. I have noticed that adding white to whatever color I have mixed does give it a new tone that I am drawn to. Something I often forget to take advantage of is shadows and creating depth by deepening colors with black.

Serra Isabella

For someone who never considered herself an artist, all of this color theory made me question how good of an artist I really am. If I can’t even create a beautiful color pallet off the top of my head, then why should I call myself an artist? If I can’t identify a complementary color pattern easily then who even am I as an artist?

It is easy to fall into the pit of despair and self-doubt, but I had to remind myself that no one starts out with all of this information. Frankly, it’s just theories, not something I should feel any less for not having memorized. I have to remind myself of all of the self-taught artists I admire on social media. Do I really think they knew all about color pallets and theory when they first began creating art? No.

Serra Isabella

So, with a more forgiving and understanding heart, I want to explore color pallets I like, understand color theory in my own paintings, and begin establishing a sense of what colors to use before I begin painting. As of now, I just tend to put one color on my pallet at a time, focusing on the blue in the sky first or the green in the mountain tops. I am notorious for repainting over colors that I decide halfway through a painting just aren’t good enough, and you can see that in my video this week.

Click the video below to see how I struggled with the color choice on a limited sized canvas and how I adapted to using different materials this week! I kept it simple with some easy landscape images but I tried to mix and match colors, play around with tone and shading, and hone my technique.

Copyright © 2020 Serra Isabella. All rights reserved.

Ash Falling From The Sky

I have lived in Colorado my entire life, born and raised as they like to say. My dad always used to say he chose Colorado to be our home because he liked that we have all four seasons here. He was right, we have summers that can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit and winters that can get below freezing, fall always has brown and orange leaves and spring often brings rain showers and tornado warnings.

Growing up here, I didn’t realize that not every state experienced clearly different seasons throughout the year. A short visit to Georgia when I was sixteen and a vacation to California when I was seventeen showed me that wasn’t the case and I grew a stronger appreciation for my home state. Though with all of our seasonal changes also comes some natural destruction.

We are home to the Rocky Mountains, one of the most beautiful mountain ranges full of forests, lakes, and The Colorado River. Anywhere that holds so much beauty also endures pains like uncontrollable wildfires, and of course, 2020 would be the year I experienced the worst forest fires in my lifetime.

The past few months the air has been filled with smoke, but you could only see it from a highway or outside of the city. The fires have been lighting up the sun so bright it looks like a highlighter spilled all over the sun. Seriously, it has looked like the sun itself is on fire only made hazy by the clouds of smoke signaling the burning forests.

We have been dealing with this for a month or so now, maybe more, but it wasn’t until two days ago when the sky began to illuminate red as if the fire was just above the clouds that I realized how tremendously destructive mother nature can be. The entire world was tinted orange all day yesterday, and ash was falling from the sky as if we were in Pompeii.

I tried to record videos and take pictures to capture this phenomenon, but I fear they didn’t grab the essence of how strange it was yesterday. Ash falling looked like snow in September and it stayed so dark all day because the sun was illuminated like a highlighter on fire. Everyone’s cars were covered in burnt pine needles and flakes of ash that seemed to cover the world in grey. By the end of the day, my porch too was covered in roasted pine needles and ash that look like coal dust.

In true Colorado fashion, the temperature over the weekend and on Monday was reaching close to 100 degrees. It is currently Tuesday morning and it is 34 degrees with a high of 35 and chances of snow either today or tomorrow. So, with that, I am assuming Colorado has finished with summer and officially entered sweater weather.

It is almost as if mother nature has decided enough has burned and it is time for the calm now, time to let the ash settle and wash away our pain. I really believe in the idea that nature cycles through birth death and rebirth, in every aspect of life. The trees go through that cycle every year with losing their leaves and growing again in the spring only to repeat the cycle again in the fall. If you really scrutinize life, everything can fall into a category of going through birth or death or rebirth.

Humans go through many cycles like this, we are born and raised and then must shed our childhoods and be “reborn” as adults. Even as adults we go through many phases of finding ourselves and letting our old selves die, and I believe this is all a part of nature. When there are wildfires rip across the state and destroy just about anything in the way, I can only hope it is making room for more and better. When the rains come washing in and slowing the fires spread, they are allowing the earth to rest and regain its beauty. Allowing the Earth to flourish and sprout up in ways no one could have imagined.

This pull between birth and death, or destruction and growth show me the duality of our reality. For there can be no destruction if there was nothing beautiful there in the first place, and there can be nothing new and beautiful if there is no destruction of the old. This does not mean that the destruction does not cause pain, it just means that we can know there will always be more after the pain.

With that, I want to wish all the firefighters and other volunteers fighting these fires on the front lines the best of luck. If it weren’t for them, my state would be ravaged. Sorry is not a strong enough word for everyone who has lost something in these fires, but I am sending all the good vibes I have. 

Copyright © 2020 Serra Isabella. All rights reserved.

Haircuts Change A Lot

So, over the past several years I have been growing my hair as long as possible. I was going for a long layered ombre that entailed bleaching my own hair. I know, I know every stylist out there will tell you not to do this, but it also isn’t realistic for me to spend upwards of $300 on a haircut. Therefore I have been cutting and dying my own hair since middle school, and since I usually keep it simple this hasn’t been a problem.

But… all that dying by myself sure did leave my hair feeling dry and broken. I had more dead ends than I could count, and it felt like my hair was always breaking and shedding. I haven’t bleached it in over a year so all of the blonde strands were below my shoulders and if I didn’t do something to hold it during the day it would be a tangled mess when I got home.

I finally had enough and decided I’m chopping it off, but not before telling my boyfriend over and over again for months that I was going to do this. Don’t judge me, I like a good plan, okay! Anyway, I wanted to dye any remaining light streaks and the rest of my head a purple/blue color (tanzanite to be precise), but unfortunately, it wasn’t as opaque as I thought. Instead, we ended up with a little longer than shoulder length chopped hairstyle, and a sliver of remaining blond hair at the ends.

Instantly I felt the tangled weight fall off my shoulders and I knew I made the right decision (I have even been thinking of cutting it a bit shorter). A new haircut may just be exactly what you need to put the pep back in your step, and here is why.

Confidence Boost

Seriously, a new hair cut can give you just the right amount of oomph to have you checking yourself out in the mirror a bit more, or maybe you’ll start dressing to match your new hairstyle. You know that feeling when you just got a fresh cut and you stare at yourself in the mirror for a while… Flipping your hair this way and that, getting accustomed to the new look. Finally concluding that this is cute, and I look good.

Most of us then snap a selfie and tell all our friends, family members, and really anyone who will listen to us: “I got a haircut”. Usually followed by compliments: “oh it looks so good”, “I love it”, which of course boosts our confidence. Whether it is from our own thoughts or the thoughts of those around us, a new haircut provides a needed boost of confidence.

Healthier Hair

From split ends to heat damage to straight-up color damage, sometimes your hair just needs a little trim to help let go of all the dead weight. If you have been growing your hair long for years, it is much easier for your hair to feel less healthy with signs of damage (trust me I speak from experience).

Now, I know we are all imagining those horse haired women with long flowing hair that falls to the floor in shiny strands but keep in mind they probably don’t damage their hair daily. It is easy to forget how harmful it can be to straighten or curl our hair, and for those who love creating a new hairstyle at home with hair dye you got from Walmart, our hair is just screaming to stop.

New Sense of Self of Style

Hair controls a lot about our styles, and for many, it is a major form of self-expression. In today’s culture, you can change the color, length, create layers, and designs, shave part of your head, or all of it. The point is people are doing crazy stuff with their hair and nothing is off-limits at this point. So, go cut off those dead inches, revitalize your look, and have some fun, because at the end of the day it’s just hair that will grow back.

Thank you for reading my blog post this week and making it to the bottom of my page! If you liked any of the art on this blog post make sure to follow my Instagram below to see more of my art! You can also buy some of my art at my Redbubble shop here.

Copyright © 2020 Serra Isabella. All rights reserved.

Art Style As A Beginner Artist

Recently I have been expanding my learning and understanding of most aspects of my life, art being one of them. In the spring semester of 2020, I took the first real art class I’ve ever taken and in just a few short months I had I learned so much. Since then I have been continuing to learn what I can online, whether that’s on YouTube or just by listening and paying attention to artists I look up to.

In this experience of expanding my horizons as a writer and artist, I have been hearing more and more about artists needing to find a “style”. The artist community tosses this word “style” or “personal style” around like crazy as if everyone is just screaming to the world that they are an artist!

But it got me thinking, do I have a personal style yet? Am I supposed to know what my artistic style is now? How do you find your “personal style”?

I’ve been diving into a couple of chapters of the book called On Writing Well, by William Zinsser, and a particular chapter caught my eye, chapter 4: Style. Zinsser explains to his readers that true and captivating writing comes from a writer expressing his or her style without fear of judgment. He reassures the audience too that finding this “style” everyone speaks of takes time.

It is simply illogical to assume that you could be the fully developed and stylized version of your artistic self without the years of experience it takes to get there. Most importantly, it is okay that it takes time, it allows you to play with new creative things and have blissful fun without the pressure of upholding a certain “personal style”

If you are on a journey to find your artistic “style”, like me, then continue reading to see what I have been doing to discover and develop my artistic style.

Being Creative Daily

This is somewhat of a hard one but arguably the most important aspect it seems, of becoming a developed and stylized artist. Me telling you this, along with every other respectable artist out there, isn’t new information but maybe you will practice it better than I have. It can be so hard to find time every single day to create something, but I have noticed the benefits are worth the struggle

Trying New Ideas

I have always loved painting skies and mountains and oh do I love painting moons, but it wasn’t until recently that I gained some interest to start painting different scenes. Sometimes creating a new pallet of colors opens up your imagination, for example, I accidentally created a beautiful sea green color and have been enjoying creating ocean scenes. In a recent painting I decided to go even further and try painting something I have never done before, painting people, well a mermaid to be exact.

You can see in the video, I wasn’t trying to be perfect and I most certainly knew that this would not end up being any of my best work, but it was so fun to experiment with skin tone and body shape. More than that I learned a lot about what I could do differently in the future to improve my painting abilities. Stepping outside of your painting “norms” can be just the push you need to see more creativity come out of yourself than ever before.

Learning New Mediums

I would say my primary medium for creating and painting is acrylic paints on canvas (either board or stretched). I have dabbled into watercolors but nothing too fancy, and I enjoy calligraphy and hand lettering, but if I had to give one medium I use, it would be acrylic. I just love that it is opaque and dries so that if I make a mistake it isn’t too hard to cover it up.

However, a medium I hadn’t considered before six months ago has now become a medium, I go to often, digital media/art. My purchase of the app Procreate has been a game-changer in my digital art practice, compared to the Windows Paint 3D I was using beforehand. Opening myself up to trying a new medium as digital art has most definitely increased my creativity because I have discovered so many tools I can use in future projects. Even in the last couple of months, I can already notice certain styles appearing in my work and I am excited to continue developing my artistic style.

I hope you all enjoyed this little blog post where I examined ways in which creative people can find or discover their “artistic style”. Go ahead and check out my painting video at the end of this blog, I would especially appreciate it. Make sure to like, comment, and follow to never miss an update from me, happy reading!

Copyright © 2020 Serra Isabella. All rights reserved.

In-Person Learning Amidst A Global Pandemic…

I’m not really sure how to start this topic because so many people are starting school again and there is a lot of “nervousness” in the air. There have been emails after emails sent from the schools to parents and students that are detailing strategies to not spread COVID – 19 and new safety procedures, check-in procedures, the possibility of everything being shut down if we don’t all just comply to all of the rules.

There were police officers at the entrances to my school, where we are supposed to show our school ID, answer one question about whether we have symptoms or not, and get a thermometer pointed at our forehead to ensure that anyone entering buildings isn’t sick. Then we get a colored wristband to show we are “safe”.

All of this makes sense given our circumstances and I know everyone is doing the best they can with what they have, but it is strange. Masked faces everywhere, more students sitting outside then I’ve ever seen before, half of the benches and chairs inside turned upside down. I didn’t even think to explore my library or bookstore yet, but I was so determined to find my classroom because it was a busy morning.

Entering a classroom for the first time since March was freakishly bizarre. I only have one in-person class this semester and the rest of my schedule is online or through ZOOM, so I was so curious to see how an in-person class would be set up during this pandemic.

There is only one chair to each desk (the desk itself is probably 5 feet long or so). The teacher was nice enough to buy everyone a composition notebook and have notecards and any other material she wanted us to have laid out on each desk. There was hand sanitizer spray, sanitizing wipes, spray, any kind of disinfectant you can imagine.

This teacher is fantastic and even tried using the face shield she had too because it was a bit easier to hear through, plus we could actually see her face. I can tell already that this is a teacher I am going to like because the second thing she discussed on her long list of discussion topics for the day was a bit of a woman’s history with the 19th Amendment. She had my respect from that moment on, I can tell she cares about teaching because she was taking every precaution, then some.

She expressed how hard it was for her students to adjust to online learning in the spring and how she wants to try everything in her power to keep us learning in person. This class requires a lot of in-person activities and projects, (it’s Introduction to Education), and now I see why this was the only one of my classes that stayed as an in-person class this semester.

Nonetheless, it is a jarring scene to witness your instructor present her speech through a plastic face shield that has bulky padding around her head that pushes her hair up unevenly and leaves some hairs poking straight out. Everyone’s voice is muffled with cloth in front of our mouths as we try to introduce ourselves, even though we can’t show so much of our expressions hidden behind the masks.

This is a vastly different experience compared to my first year of college which began completely normally but ended with a stay at home order. Now everyone is trying to find a sense of normalcy among the new CDC guidelines along with our own state guidelines. The staff is trying to make everything as safe as possible; the students seem to be following the necessary steps to stay on campus safely, and all the while faculty are passing out freebie bags all around campus.

My level of commitment is far more limited than that of my instructors because I only have to be on campus for about an hour and a half (including travel time). I am following all of the guidelines and wearing my mask of course but I also have four other fully online classes so if this doesn’t last all semester long, I will be okay.

I feel for the instructors who are working their butts off to be able to educate the students (me) in the best way possible, they are pulling out all of the supplies and are always willing to adjust to help us (the students). If the school isn’t able to continue in-person learning through until the end of the semester, that is who I will feel for, the teachers who are trying everything they can to continue teaching their students valuable lessons.

I’m not sure how this update on my schooling experiences for the 2020 Fall Semester turned into an appreciation post for teachers, but oh well. Thank you, teachers, instructors, professors, whatever you may call yourselves thank you for not letting an entire generation of young U.S citizens miss out on a year of education.

How is everyone else acclimating to the new learning style in 2020? How are people from outside of the U.S. handling this new school year? I would love to hear from you all in the comments below! Thank you for reading my blog, and happy reading to every one of you.

Copyright © 2020 Serra Isabella. All rights reserved.

Not Creating Out Of Fear…

Sometimes I just feel like I have a gazillion things on my To-Do list, and I can never get them done. I have so many ideas in my head of creative things I want to write or paint or record, and they all rush through my head at top speeds. Whizzing by, before I can even fully digest the thought, another brilliant plan comes soaring in and stealing the show until another genius idea grabs my attention.

Everyone says just do one thing at a time and it will work itself out. All of the productivity masters preach about ”niching down” honing in on just one skill or activity at a time. That all sounds like fantastic advice but my question is, how on earth should I choose any one thing?

I am realizing more and more that I can’t really do one thing at a time, even when I am learning in my college classes. In the fall semester I did in person classes and really had a hard time sitting for almost two hours in lectures. Now that almost all of my schooling has switched to online, I am fully aware of how I multi-task to do everything.

It makes some sense considering I end up multitasking while watching things on my phone or, like cleaning or cooking or resting. I am always thinking at least six steps ahead of where I actually am, just constantly thinking of what I can do next to be better (sometimes to a fault). I find that whole “being present” thing very hard sometimes, and then other times the reality of now hits me like a ton of bricks and I realize all the other ideas I forgot about.

On top of creating this blog and deciding to make internet content, I am a fulltime college student and I am looking head on at a fifteen credit fall semester that is now going to be fully online (except for one class). I have a lot going on in my life and I’m always trying to find time to socialize with my family and friends, bond with my partner, and even time to take care of myself.

I feel like I’ve let myself down or others because at this point, I don’t know how to balance all the greatness in my life, but I am grateful for it. I have more than I could ever ask for and the people I love and care about have shown me nothing but support in my creative journey.

I have some amazing things I want to do in this world and so much art and creativity that I want to share as well, and I don’t want to give up on any of it. People always say choose one thing and go after that, but I want to be so much more than just one thing. I want to be a mother and a businesswoman, who can teach if she wants to while creating art on the side.

I want to be an author and an artist, because I don’t think just one of those characteristics portrays me the way I want to be portrayed. I am all of the things I am, and I refuse to be diminished to one single trait, there is so much more to my story than just an artist or just a writer.

These dreams I have are not too far off from reality except, I know I have a bad habit of getting my thoughts stuck in my head, not giving them the chance to ever come to fruition. I need to choose instead of mulling the idea over in my head for days, then weeks, then months, and now even years, to act when I have the feeling to create.

I think so much about how young I am and how much life I still haven’t seen yet, and that silences a lot of my stories. I like to be well informed before telling the world something, probably because I’ve seen clear instances when I had incorrectly spoken, and I don’t want to be that person. I like to know I am educated on what I am talking about, but I also have to recognize that I am often talking about my own feelings.

If a story I want to tell is about my feelings, my experience’s, or my thoughts, then I am already the expert I crave to be (at least on the subject of myself). I too often fear that whatever I am saying or putting out into the internet world isn’t worth putting out there and that is just simply not true. No one in the world has heard my exact story, maybe very similar, but I haven’t heard a story exactly like mine!

Instead of worrying about how the world may perceive me or that my voice doesn’t need to be heard in such a chaotic world, I choose to do what feels good, make what feels good, and follow those feelings in creating my life.

Feelings are so fleeting; I could be crying for joy one minute and the next weeping from sorrow. So, with that in mind I should take advantage of the feelings that propel me to make things instead of squandering that voice with fear.

Preparing for a New Semester | Fall 2020

This semester is all kinds of new regarding mandatory masks as well as the fact that I am switching from doing schoolwork in notebooks and on loose-leaf paper to doing schoolwork on my iPad and going paperless. I have so much to do to be properly prepared for this new semester online and I decided to bring you guys along with me! You can learn everything I’ve done to prepare for a primarily online semester in this blog post and in the video, I posted on YouTube.

This is my second year of college and the first year I will be taking only classes that are applying to my major, which is Elementary Education. I am taking five classes, one is in person (of course with mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing), two are remote learning classes (meaning we will meet during scheduled class time in a zoom chat), and two fully online classes.

I know I may sound a little crazy, but I am actually excited for this upcoming semester! I feel more prepared than ever before with my iPad for schoolwork and on top of that, I am excited to have the chance to be back in a physical classroom again.

With all of this excitement and anticipation in mind, I am going to show you what I have done to prepare for this unprecedented semester and how I am preparing my digital space for paperless learning.

The first step in preparing for an online and paperless semester is to download all of the apps I will need to be able to take notes, store files and images, edit assignments, and upload assignments. The first and in my opinion, the most important app is Goodnotes 5, which you can purchase on the Apple App Store for $7.99. I know for many broke college students like myself this may seem unnecessarily pricy but believe me, it is worth it. I tried many of the free note-taking apps similar to Goodnotes, but none compare to this. It allows you to create notebooks, folders, import pdfs (which makes doing homework and tests a breeze), add images, and so much more (not to mention, all the different pages, pen, and color options).

The other apps I know I will be using during this semester are Pages, Grammarly, Google Drive, and of course Zoom. Pages automatically come with any Apple device and are just a basic word processing platform like Word, I’m sure I will be using it for writing papers homework on my iPad. Grammarly is a fantastic app that allows you to edit and correct documents, and if you allow access to your keyboard the app with the edit as you type in any other app on my iPad. The app also has various settings or filters you can set when editing a document to better match the needs of the paper.

Now that I have become familiar with the apps, I want to use this semester I can begin creating files and notebooks for my classes and organizing my documents on my iPad. For each class this semester I created a file folder, and, in those folders, I created three notebooks, one for notes, another for homework, and another for tests. I figured I could upload any homework and tests into the notebook and simply export a single page to be able to turn it in for credit.

For each class, I created covers for the digital notebooks in Procreate and then added class labels in Canva. To make it the cover of a notebook in Goodnotes all I had to do was add the pictures I created as the first page of the notebook. I decided to use these covers as a way to color-code my classes so that color coding in a planner is easier to keep track of! My Intro to Literature class is a purplish-blue cover, Intro to Education is a bright teal or turquoise color. I made my Cultural Anthropology class orange-red, my Women’s Studies class a pink color, and my American Government class green. I was agonizing over these colors for a way to long, but I think I ended up with some colors I will be happy with for the entire semester. This leads me to the next step in preparing for the upcoming semester…

In this app Goodnotes, you can edit the order and color of all the different pens (ballpoint, fountain, and brush), as well as the highlighter colors. So, with that, I decided to find all the colors I would want to use with the pens to write and order them into an aesthetic pastel rainbow. For the highlighters I decided to make these correlate to the class colors I had coded with the notebook covers earlier. I also made sure to adjust the automatic pen and highlighter sizes with the slider bar. My main goal for customizing and organizing the drawing set in the Goodnotes app was to just make it easier for when classes start in a few weeks.

The next step in organizing my schedule for the upcoming weeks of class in August and September was to block out my time in a digital planner. Goodnotes has amazing planner pages in their page templates that allowed me to create a really easy online planner that shows hours of the day so that I can block out my time with the highlighter tool. I love this time blocking planning technique because with just a glance I can see how my time will be spent throughout the week.

I simply used the highlighter presets I created earlier to block out each class in the first week of school then I labeled them for this first week just so it is easier to remember in the future. I specified which classes were zoom meeting and the time each class started in this first week as well. After I fine-tuned the color choices and placement, I created a little color key at the top of the page and copied and pasted it to the following weeks. With the color key at the top of the page, I will be able to block out the time without wasting time writing out labels every week.

Even though this is a primarily online semester I knew I would need some physical items for my one in-person class, not to mention the different storage devices I will be using throughout the semester. I will be using a small little backpack to take my iPad to class along with the much-needed masks I need for in-person learning this semester. Another really important item for this semester will be my flash drives and external hard drive, these are used to hold pictures, documents, and any past schoolwork. I went through all my devices and moved all my pictures and old documents to flash drives so that I can start the new semester with plenty of storage space.

This is how I have prepared myself for a new semester this fall, by organizing digitally and physically, becoming familiar with the applications I want to use for the semester, and planning my time efficiently and creating systems for planning in the future. I am sure I will be updating organization practices and such as I learn more about paperless schooling, but I am excited about the foundation of learning I have laid.

In these coming days, I encourage everyone to take some time to rest. The semester will come and go so soon, so we must take care of ourselves in the calm and unbusy moments we have. I will be enjoying my last weekend of the summer in the mountains, breathing in nature and taking a break from the hustle and bustle, before it all starts up again. Thank you for taking the time to read this story of how I prepared for the new fall semester, and let me know in the comments what you have been doing to prepare for the new semester!

Copyright © 2020 Serra Isabella. All rights reserved.

A New Decade

So in the truest fashion of my blog I am uploading my birthday content a month after the event, which makes sense because this was a surreal and unexpected scenario to be in when turning twenty. With that in mind please bear with my scattered thoughts from a month ago, but her it is:

To anyone who didn’t know I am a 2000’s baby, which means as we all have entered a new decade of 2020, I have entered the second decade of my life. I am no longer a teenager woohoo! Or at least that is what I thought I would feel like but instead, I am feeling the weight of the world as I realize I am now no longer really considered a kid. I mean I am of course still very young and at the beginner of my journey, I realize that, but I am no longer in the excusable teenage years.

I think entering a new decade of my life has gotten me thinking about the past ten years of my life, which comes with a lot of reflection at who I was as a kid and who I am now. With that I have also been contemplating the next ten years of my life, who am I going to be in another decade?

Graduating and having a career is on my horizon and with that, I also want to create a family. Buying a house is on the horizon if my partner and I play our cards right. Financial freedom is in my future if I just keep killing it at what I am doing now and continue believing in that dream. I may be a broke college student now but if I continue creating the dreams, I always wished for I can have whatever I want in a matter of years. There’s not even a number on it I just know that if I continue creating art with the passion I have and keep writing my experiences and stories, I will become the middle-aged woman I want to be, not the middle-aged woman I fear becoming.

The woman who gave up on her dreams because they were too big or too frightening. I don’t want to become the mom who hates her life because she gave up her dreams for kids, but I also don’t want to be the mother who is so concerned with her career that the babies feel unloved. I want to set up a lifestyle where I can be making money without actively being in the office every day before I have children so that I am allowed the financial freedom to enjoy taking care of my family for a while when it does happen. Because I am so excited for those days, I am turning twenty and simply thinking of the time I get to be a mom.

That life seems so far off from the one I have now where I get anxiety at having to make dinner most nights, but I am going to therapy, I am working on myself daily to create the future I know I want to have. That is the life I want and dream for bur I know I am young; I don’t expect perfection now. I know I am too young to expect my dreams to come true but how do I continue propelling myself in that direction?

I am taking my late teens and early twenties years to learn about how to create a passive income, how to be a good parent in the future, how to be a better partner now, how to teach people things, psychology, history, English, I am even relearning math. I am learning about my country’s government, I am learning about the economy, about foreign countries economies and governments, about world history.

I am about to start my second year of college and that has got to be exciting! I survived freshman year, I did better than just survive and now I shouldn’t let myself get down because the world seems unsure while I’m in college. To be honest, my education experience has never been normal, or easy, or even typical. So why would I expect my college education to be so? Thinking about it like that makes me chuckle to myself, to think that this would be my first year of college. Ha! A pandemic, of course.

Nothing about my life has ever gone the way I expect it to, I never thought I would turn twenty during a global pandemic, and I never thought I would be living in my home town after I turned eighteen. Nothing went exactly how I would expect it to, but none the less, I graduated high school and now I am working towards a career and living with my love in our own apartment. Just because this is not the way I would have imagined my life at twenty doesn’t mean it is a negative outcome.

They say the best time to learn is when you are younger, that’s why children can learn new languages more easily than adults and why older generations seem to be stubborn. It’s hard to learn how the world works when you’ve spent your whole life not being taught. That is why I care so much about learning now! I have an infinite amount of information at my fingertips with google, and not to mention the benefits I get as a college student. Now is my time to learn. I have to take advantage of it while it’s right in front of me.

I didn’t expect this birthday to be as introspective and reflective as it was but now, I see I probably needed it. This is not the birthday I expected but life isn’t what I expected and that is okay. It’s okay to not know what the hell is going on because you just turned twenty years old and you’re signed up for five college classes during a global pandemic. I am so lucky to have made it to twenty years old, and that has got to remind me that it is all okay.

Recognizing Blogging Day (a day late)

Well, it is the day after ”Blogger Day” and I wanted to post a blog about it but per my usual style, it is not posted on the day. Even though I am a heavy procrastinator and never, and I mean never, post anything on time, I still wanted to post something in honor of blogging because of how much it has changed my life.

I started inconsistently blogging in April of 2019, as a form of journaling about my feelings and in hopes of finding like-minded humans who could relate to my content. Since then I have gone through a galore of self-doubt, re-evaluating my circumstances, anxiety, bouts of depression, surges of inspiration, and bursts of productivity. Since I began blogging I have rediscovered art and painting, started going to college, decided on a career path, and burned many bridges.

When I decided to take my art and writing seriously in April of 2020, I began to notice all of the habits and negative self talk that have plagued me for as long as I can remember. Over the past months of this year I have broken down walls within myself that I didn’t even know were there, and once I broke down a few walls I saw all of the barriers that have been caging my soul, for who knows how long.

Writing about some of the things that have plagued my heart on my blog or on my social media accounts has given me some solace in knowing I am not alone. When I post my experience and feelings to the internet, I am met with other people doing the same thing! The internet is such a vast and ever-changing place that it excites me to think of what it may look like in the future.

Even with the knowledge and realization that the internet, blogging, posting my arts and passion can connect me to people from anywhere who relate to my information and may even like it, I still feel inadequate. Considering I took a long couple of years not posting really anything to any social media, I have concluded that this must be some deep understanding I have about myself that isn’t caused by the sometimes overwhelming internet.

How could it be? The joy of creating a video I am proud of and posting it to the internet where just one person says they like it, has given me more support than I can by telling myself in the mirror affirmations. How can doing something that gets my heart beating with excitement and my mind racing with inspiration be a bad thing? I love forming words and sentences together to make intriguing stories and possibilities for an audience, I love letting my mind melt away as I paint sunsets and mountain scapes, I gain so much joy from creating content I am proud of.

Although, this joy does not override my mental illness so I have started attending therapy and I am really trying to improve my life, even if some days I fall back into toxic patterns and behaviors that end up making me feel like I haven’t improved at all. Being able to look back at the videos I have created or the blogs I have written, gives me a window to my old self, which as I grow older seems to be farther and farther from who I am.

So here is to blogging day, a day I want to continue celebrating, for how much blogging has brought to my life. Creating a blog was really my escape from the boring adult world to a creative and expansive world of inspiration and art. Thank you whoever invented blogging, and thank you to everyone reading, you are the reason I continue writing and creating so that someone like you can find it and enjoy.