2018 Week 6: Accountability Update

Alpacas at Alpaca Magic USA in Homosassa Springs, FL
Week 6 was a really good week! I got a lot done & did some great, fun things!
  1. Made 1 YouTube video (Episode 033 of The Ashlee Craft Show).
  2. Downloaded 5 new fonts from the awesome Google Fonts.
  3. Faxed off IRS letter to update EIN with new company name!
  4. Downloaded numerous Kindle eBooks on the programming language Python so I can start learning it.
  5. Networked with 14 new people.
  6. Began working on a video about my personal “Mission Statement”.
  7. Installed DaVinci Resolve video editing software on my computer.
  8. Made post on here about interviewing people from my blog & received a lot of responses! Began writing interview questions for some of the people.
  9. Organized more of my Google Drive, which will ultimately make all my files easier to find.
  10. Wrote & published 2 blog posts.
  11. Had revelation about WHAT DO I REALLY WANT? (I wrote about this revelation here http://www.ashleecraft.com/personal-evolution/5-beautiful-rare-things-want-feel-2018/)
  12. Drew 3 new designs, which I will put on products in my online store once I edit them.
  13. Used CoSchedule’s Headline Anaylzer tool for the first time & was impressed by it.
  14. Re-vamped my Evernote to-do list to make it more practical & easier to use.
  15. Saw Billy Joel in concert!
  16. Went to Alpaca Magic USA, a local alpaca farm in Homosassa Springs, FL. Got to feed & pet alpacas, & got great footage for a YouTube video about alpacas!
  17. Began writing my 50 Adorable Moose Facts book, & got about half of it done.
  18. Felt like I lived with passion more of the days this week than not. I did a lot of amazing, fun things! My anxiety bothered me for a few days & on those days I had no motivation to do anything. But I took it easier when I needed to & worked through it.
  19. Slacking on my veggie-munching goals. I’m lazy when it comes to eating vegetables. So I bought mini veggie cups of beets & three-bean salad, as well as some fruit squeeze pouches, so I have no excuses. Ate sugar compulsively two days in the past week. Still not exercising as much as I wanted to.
  20. Began reading “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It” by Kamal Ravikant & “I Will Follow You: A Poetry Novel” by C. J. Robinson. Finished reading “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It”.

2018 Week 5: Accountability Update

The weather this week made me more tired for a few days, but I still got a lot done & I made sure I took time to rest & take care of myself.

  1. Published 1 blog post.
  2. Drew 12 coloring pages for my Cute Farm Animals coloring book.
  3. Began gathering facts for upcoming “50 Adorable Moose Facts” book.
  4. Made 41 slideshows for the Udemy course I’m making based on my “101 Ways to Love Yourself” book. Done making all 102 slideshows for the course! Next step is editing them.
  5. Wrote 4,085 words in the novel I just began on this week.
  6. Finished coloring two of my new designs (“Llama Pug” & “Owl Riding a Magical Unicorn”).
  7. Put 2 new designs of t-shirts, poster, etc in my online store.
  8. Read business articles & brainstormed.
  9. Researched & picked a programming language to learn. I chose the language Python because from what I can see it’s there’s a growing need for it, & it’s the language with the second most job postings on Indeed.
  10. Submitted EIN business name change documents to the IRS to update my EIN with my new company name!
  11. Reset password to my Shutterstock account that I set up years ago so I can submit stock photos.
  12. Researched how to be a voiceover artist, writing tips, cheap college options, how to play the saxophone, selling used clothes, & how to become a life coach.
  13. Finished the Udemy Course “How to Make an iPhone Sticker Pack” (1st Udemy course I’ve ever finished!).
  14. Went to an event at a local technical college about the various degrees & programs they offer there.
  15. Downloaded 5 new fonts from Google Fonts.
  16. Released 1 YouTube video.
  17. Downloaded ebooks on Kindle about learning the programming language Python.
  18. Sent LinkedIn connection request to one new person.
  19. Began working on my “mission statement” YouTube video.
  20. Installed & began using the DaVinci Resolve video editing software!
  21. Eating vegetables is now pretty much a habit, & I crave them a lot more. I didn’t exercise as much as I wanted to. Some days I ate more sugar than I’d like to. But overall, I feel like I’m definitely making progress on my health goals.

How are you doing this week & what are you working on?

2018 Week 4: Accountability Update

Here’s what I accomplished in Week 3 of 2018! It was a great week.

  1. Bought another domain name, which I will be building a website on very soon!
  2. Made 20 slideshows for the Udemy course I am working on (it will be based on my book “101 Ways to Love Yourself“).
  3. Published 3 blog posts (The Seven Levels of WhyMy 2018 Goal List, & Week 3 Accountability Update).
  4. Filmed clips for the first episode of my new YouTube show “Produce Exploration”, which is an educational show about various types of fruits & vegetables, what they taste like, & how to use them. The first episode is about Red Rome Apples, & the video should be up later this week.
  5. Put my 2nd custom jean jacket (“RENEGADE“) in my online shop!
  6. Wrote 1 chapter of the Tarot card definition book I am working on.
  7. Promoted my YouTube videos & original products on websites like Pinterest & Twitter.
  8. Asked another person for a blog interview. She said yes, & I sent her the interview questions.
  9. Networked with 5 new people!
  10. Downloaded DaVinci Resolve video editing software (I haven’t got a chance to use it yet).
  11. Made 2 new illustrations to be used as designs for t-shirts, posters, etc.
  12. Planned a farm animal-themed coloring book.
  13. Drew illustrations for my “The Seven Levels of Why” blog article. I’ve never really illustrated an article of mine before. It was a lot of fun, & I really like the end result.
  14. Recorded the bass guitar for my cover of the Crowded House song “Archer’s Arrows”. I hopefully will finish my cover of the song in the upcoming week.
  15. Put another design of t-shirts & posters on my website.
  16. Published the 10th episode of my podcast.
  17. Made & put out 2 YouTube videos – the 32nd episode of my weekly show, plus one pet video about my pet corydoras catfish.
  18. Finished reading “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport. Started reading a book about Superfood snacks.
  19. Bought some of the supplies for the pet tortoise I’ll be getting later in February.
  20. Did excellent on my health goals – exercised almost every day, reduced my added sugar intake significantly, & ate at least five servings of vegetables six days this week!

I feel like I’m gaining a lot of momentum & making a ton of progress! I’m so excited to see how this year unfolds!

2018 WEEK 3: ACCOUNTABILITY UPDATE

Here’s my accountability post for Week 3! I made some big strides towards increasing my income & creating additional opportunities for myself.

  1. Made 13 slideshows to be used in my first Udemy course, which will be based on my 101 Ways to Love Yourself book.
  2. Wrote & published 2 blog posts.
  3. Sent out an email newsletter to my followers.
  4. Published 3 YouTube videos, including Episode 031 of my weekly show.
  5. Researched blog monetization strategies.
  6. Had 45-minute meeting with my business-owner uncle regarding internet marketing & freelance strategies.
  7. Submitted the paperwork to change the name of my company from Freedom Meadow Media, LLC to Ashlee Craft, LLC in order to make it more flexible to be used for my online store. This needed to happen for a long time as I have recently switched my focus away from my media company & more towards my ecommerce & other business pursuits. The media company will still exist as a subsidiary, it just won’t be the parent company. Now that I’ve done made this change, I will be able to start buying wholesale from a variety of vendors & build new products!
  8. Signed up to be a Groupon merchant! I just need to enter some more company info, which I couldn’t do until I updated my company name.
  9. Researched how to make money on Medium.
  10. Researched how to become a Huffington Post contributor (until I heard they aren’t accepting new contributors anymore).
  11. Made 2 new designs to put on t-shirts, posters, etc & sell in my online store.
  12. Defined my niche (“DIVERSIFICATION”).
  13. Gathered images for my next book, which will be called “50 Adorable Moose Facts”.
  14. Realized I already HAD installed Google Analytics on my website.
  15. Networked with 1 new person.
  16. Did various promotional things for my blog posts, products, & videos.
  17. Took photos of my newest custom jean jacket so I can post it online for sale ASAP.
  18. Bought a pedometer. It was poorly designed & kept accidentally getting reset, so my mom is testing a different pedometer to see if it’s a good one for me to get.
  19. Finished reading “Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuck & Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Kids book. Started reading “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport & “Super Immunity” by Joel Fuhrman.
  20. Did better on exercise goals. Started running up & down the stairs in my house for a few minutes a day several days during this week. Ate more vegetables (& drank V8 juice) but still lagging behind in the veggie department. Overall, ate less sugar.

2017 Accomplishments

An overview of an outstanding year.
2017 Accomplishments - Ashlee Craft's World
It’s that time of year again! The time for me to look back + reflect upon the previous year. But it’s also time to look ahead with deep enthusiasm towards the upcoming year. (You can find my yearly poetry-prose article review of the year here).
2017 was, without a doubt, the most amazing year of my life so far. It feels so good for me to be able to say that. At the beginning of 2017, I was so hopeful that 2017 would be great. But I was also terrified that it WOULD NOT live up to my expectations & that it would be disappointing. I was much too busy at the beginning of the year & burnt-out from stress. I didn’t want the rest of the year to be like that.
But I’d also never actually had an outstanding year before. I can’t think of any other year where I GENUINELY felt like I’d made an incredible level of progress & grew as a person. Especially not a year where I felt those as much as I did by the end of 2017. For me to be able to say that 2017 was an outstanding year is incredible & amazing & wonderful for me. Being able to say that is something I’m very proud of. The year didn’t just turn out awesome on its own. Almost EVERYTHING good that happened to me last year was a direct result of my own decisions. So I’m also proud of myself for being the one making these things happen. I’m proud of myself for gaining the necessary momentum to make 2018 even more amazing.
That’s my real goal for 2018. Take everything good & amazing about 2017, & 10X those results to make 2018 the new best year of my life. Considering how 2017 turned out as great as it did, I have a lot of faith that 2018 is going to be that much better.
Here’s what I achieved in 2017:
  • CREATIVITY:

  • CONCERTS:

  • Went to an AMAZING selection of concerts. I saw 18 (!!!!!) musicians in concert, & went to my FIRST REAL CONCERT EVER:
    • Daryl Hall & John Oates (My first real concert ever! It was such an immensely positive experience that it changed my life.)
    • Tears for Fears (with Daryl Hall & John Oates)
    • Allen Stone (With Daryl Hall & John Oates)
    • Queen + Adam Lambert
    • Styx (As part of their United We Rock tour)
    • REO Speedwagon (As part of their United We Rock tour)
    • Don Felder (As part of their United We Rock tour)
    • Walk the Moon (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
    • Portugal. The Man. (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
    • Paramore (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
    • Vance Joy (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
    • X Ambassadors (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
    • The Lumineers (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
    • MisterWives (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
    • Bleachers (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
    • Saint Motel (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
    • Andrew McMahon & The Wilderness (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
    • Magic Giant (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
  • FOODS:

    • Ate rambutans for the first time.
    • Grew my own wheatgrass!
  • MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS:

    • Bought my dream guitar – a beautiful Fender 72′ Series Telecaster Thinline!
    • Bought my first Fender amp.
    • Bought a saxophone.
    • Got a sweet potato ocarina
    • Got a stylophone.
    • Bought a Cry Baby wah-wah pedal for my guitar.
  • PETS:

    • Got pet White Cloud Mountain Minnows, more Corydoras Catfish, & guppies for my aquarium. Also got Neon Tetras, which sadly did not work out.
  • PERSONAL:

    • Started investing in the stock market.
    • Completed my first-ever 5k! (Barktoberfest in New Port Richey, FL).
    • Became a monthly donor to the Humane Society of the United States.
    • Got a massage for the first time by Donna Joyce Foxwell.
    • Went to my first yoga class at Flow Yoga in Port Richey, FL.
    • Began learning to speak Spanish with the wonderful Duolingo app, which I highly recommend.
    • Became more of a minimalist. Got rid of my old dresser & got a great dresser alternative (article coming soon!)
    • Attended the free Dale Carnegie Public Speaking Mastery event.
    • Went to a Daymond John’s Success Formula Event.
    • Started coloring my hair red, & coloring the ends of my hair bright colors like yellow & orange.
    • Signed up for the 52 Weeks of Momentum course from Benjamin Hardy.
  • READING:

    • Read 57 books, up from only a sad, small handful in 2016.
  • TRAVEL & EXPERIENCES:

    • Went on my EPIC FLORIDA ROAD TRIP (which I wrote a book about – & that book will be out later this year!). My Epic Florida Road Trip was the first time I’ve EVER traveled by myself & the first time in my life I’ve gone on vacation. It was one of the best things I have EVER DONE. It changed me forever in the best way, & it gave me incredible confidence in my ability to take care of myself.
    • Traveled on a plane for the first time when I flew to Houston to see Queen + Adam Lambert in concert. That trip also included other firsts such as “first time renting a car” & “first time traveling outside the state of Florida by myself”.
    • Key Places I Traveled: Miami (FL), The Florida Keys, St. Augustine (FL), The Everglades, all around the state of Florida, Orlando (FL), & Houston (TX).
    • Went parasailing in Key West at Sebago Watersports.
    • Went to Zoo Miami (BEST ZOO EVER!) & saw amazing animals like tapirs, koalas, giraffes, giant tortoises, elephants, rhinoceroses, anteaters, otters, & flamingos. The zoo is 280 acres & is HUGE. It’s filled with so many amazing things.
    • Went camping for the first time! Going camping is something I always wanted to do since I was a Girl Scout (but I never got to when I was one).
    • Petted sting rays & nurse sharks (which were adorable) at Florida Keys Marine Encounters. Helped train the baby sting rays! Petted emus & a silky chicken at the Everglades Alligator Farm. Got to pet baby alligators at both places & held a baby alligator at the Everglades Alligator Farm. Held a pet skunk at the a booth at Barktoberfest.
    • Fed giraffes, a black rhinoceros, & parrots at the Miami Zoo; fed emus, Silkie Chickens, & koi at the Everglades Alligator Farm; fed sting rays, nurse sharks, tortoises, turtles, tarpon, & parrotfish at Florida Keys Marine Encounters.
    • Went snorkeling in a coral reef at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, FL. While I was snorkeling, I saw a Caribbean Reef Shark, which was awesome but it freaked me out.
    • Stayed in a hotel by myself for the first time! (Comfort Inn, in Naples, FL).
    • Camped in the Everglades! (Read my Epic Florida Road Trip article if you want to hear about how mosquitoes taught me perseverance). Went on a 15-mile bike ride in the Everglades, which was amazing.
    • Went on an airboat ride in the Everglades at the Everglades Alligator Farm!
    • Walked down Duval Street in Key West.
    • Visited the Southernmost Point of the United States (in Key West).
    • Visited an Alligator Farm (The Everglades Alligator Farm! I got to fulfill my desire to see gators there).
    • Went to two BEAUTIFUL botanical gardens in Houston (Mercer Botanic Garden & Houston Arboretum & Nature Center).
    • Went on a “canopy walk” in Naples at Myakka Springs State Park.
    • Visited the amazing art museum, The Menil Collection, in Houston, TX. Saw art by Andy Warhol & René Magritte.
    • Visited the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, an outdoor sculptural water fountain in uptown Houston.
    • Visited The Galleria mall in Houston. The Galleria is the 7th largest mall in America!
    • Went to the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.
    • Went to the Smallest Post Office, which is in Ochopee, FL (near the Everglades).
    • Saw baby armadillos foraging for food in the wild. They were one of the most precious things I’ve ever seen, & I saw them at Fort Matanzas Park in St. Augustine, FL.
    • Toured a lighthouse (The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum).
    • Toured an ancient building (Castillo de San Marco in St. Augustine, FL).
    • Visited the Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach, FL.
    • Rode on a miniature train, an airplane, & monorail for the first time; rode on a boat for the first time since I was a kid.
2017 had some challenges, but it had way more triumphs than challenges. I finally traveled for the very first time. I finally started going to concerts & saw some amazing bands live. I accomplished an incredible amount. I felt myself grow as a person each time I faced a challenge or setback, & each time I broke out of my comfort zone. I far exceeded my own expectations for myself in 2017. I pushed myself creativity & in my business. I finally have a clearer image of where I want to go & what I want my life to look like. I started believing all the things I desire ARE possible & out there for me. Most of all, I started trusting that I have the ability to make those things happen.
Stay posted for my 2018 goals article, which will be out soon!

2018 Week 2: Accountability Update

What I did in Week Two of 2018.

I’m doing a weekly set of posts where I outline what things I did this week to get closer to achieving all my goals this year & 10X my life. Read my post, “I’m Going to Become a Millionaire in 2018” to find out WHY I’m doing this.

Week 2 of 2018 was a pretty good week! I know I got a lot done, but I still found myself feeling like I didn’t do enough on some of the days. When I wrote it out & looked back at it, it helped me realize just how much I did get done.

Here’s what I achieved in Week 2:

  1. Made 20 slideshows (out of 102 total!) to be used in my Udemy course.
  2. Wrote & published 2 blog posts.
  3. Put 1st stock photo up for sale in my online store.
  4. Contacted someone I’ve wanted to interview for my blog for a long time. She agreed to be interviewed! I sent her the questions.
  5. Set up IFTTT (ifttt.com) to help me automatically post Instagram images to Pinterest & tweet them as native photos on Twitter instead of the bland Instagram link.
  6. Utilized Twitter, my blog, & Facebook to cross-promote new books I published at the end of 2017 & YouTube videos.
  7. Monetized YouTube videos I published before being approved for monetization when I saw they weren’t monetized yet.
  8. Filmed some clips for upcoming YouTube videos. Began working on another video using these clips.
  9. Uploaded 2 episodes of my podcast to iTunes.
  10. Researched & picked out a good video editing software so I can make better YouTube videos
  11. Updated my websites with new books I published at the end of 2017.
  12. Published 1 YouTube video (Episode 030 of The Ashlee Craft Show).
  13. Recorded most of the tracks for the cover version I’m doing of the Crowded House song “Archer’s Arrows”. When I’m done recording, I will make a video including my cover of the song & upload that to YouTube.
  14. Took down Christmas/winter holiday products from my online stores in order to keep online store updated with current products.
  15. Doing okay with health goals. I DID find myself addictively reaching for sugar as a comfort food numerous times, but I tried to balance that out with eating more vegetables. I still need to eat more vegetables though. Also, I only met the bare minimum of my exercise goals. This week I’m getting a pedometer, so my weekly step count will be reported here each week too. That will motivate me to meet my exercise goals.
  16. Doing pretty well with my “live with passion” goal & more often than not, I feel good emotionally. I’m working on changing my reactions when I start feeling low in order to put myself back in the mood I need to be in.
  17. Cleaned some of my house & threw away clutter to help me meet my goal of only owning things I love.

Hope everyone else is having an amazing week too!

I Got My First Acting Gig as Audrey in Ken Ludwig’s “Leading Ladies”! – Opening This Week!

Ashlee Craft dressed as Audrey for Ken Ludwig's play Leading Ladies

Backstage Selfie of my “Tango Costume”

I am totally thrilled to announce that I was cast in Richey Suncoast Theatre’s production of Ken Ludwig’s farce “Leading Ladies” as Audrey! The play opens Thursday, & runs for a total of ten days over the last three weekends in October. You can see the full performance schedule here. If you’d like to come see it & you live in the Tampa Bay Area, get your tickets now!

This all started a little more than two months ago, when I started thinking about doing something big, something new. Something which would really pull me out of my comfort zone, & remove me from the rut I was starting to feel like I was in. I remembered there was a theatre in my area & read on their website about upcoming auditions. I decided to audition, & on the second day of auditions, I was cast as Audrey, the character that I’d hoped to be able to play. I was absolutely thrilled. It has been an amazing experience, to say the least, & definitely one of the most fun + rewarding things that I have done.

The plot centers around two broke Shakespearean actors named Leo & Jack, who have just gotten booed off the stage of their latest production. They hear about a dying woman who can’t find her sisters’ children, whom Leo & Jack assume are her nephews, based on their names. They plan how they can dress up & pretend to be her nephews to get her money when she dies. Unfortunately, a wrench is thrown into their idea when they learn the relatives are nieces, not nephews. The men decide to carry out their plan anyways, & arrive at the woman’s house dressed as girls. Action & hilarity ensues. Leo falls in love with the elderly’s woman’s niece, Meg, who is engaged to a stick-in-the-mud minister, & Jack falls in love with Audrey, who unsuspectingly gave the men information that allowed them to carry out their plan in the first place. You can read more about the plot here.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing one or two more posts on the topic of theatre acting & reflections on this experience. All I can say though is that acting is something which has definitely enriched my life significantly, & I look forward to doing it more in the future!

All About My New Pet Guinea Pigs!

All about the newest additions to my fuzzy family.

Two brown and white Rosette guinea pigs being held

Moose (left), & Olive

In the middle of August, I accomplished a very long term goal of mine: I got pet guinea pigs! The one on the left is named Moose, & the one on the right is Olive. They are the sweetest little things, each with their own personalities, & they’re getting even cuter as I get to know them more.

For a very long time, I’d been thinking about getting a small pet. When I was fourteen, I had a pet rabbit named Indy, short for Indiana Jones. He was the light of my life, but unfortunately passed away suddenly at only six months old. After I grieved for him & was ready to get another pet, I decided on a dog, & got Sparky, my Boston Terrier/Shih-Tzu/Chihuahua mix.

A few years passed, & I found myself still wanting a small pet. I love animals, & wanted to add a small pet to my family that would be cuddly, affectionate, enjoy human attention, & be relatively easy to care for. Sometimes, I’d start looking further into getting a small pet, but I never ended up actually doing so. I extensively researched rabbits, guinea pigs, and rats, as they met my basic criteria.

One day, after going to the pet store to observe the different types of pets I was considering, it finally became clear to me what type of small pet I really wanted to get. A wonderful guinea pig with black & white Dutch markings put his feet on the cage bars & peered out at me, bold & unafraid. I fell in love with him. After going home & giving it a great deal of thought, I knew guinea pigs were the right kind of pet for me to get. They were easier to care for & more cuddly than rabbits, & they had a much longer lifespan than rats. I decided I wanted to get this guinea pig, as well as a second one, as I knew that most of the time, it’s better to have guinea pigs in groups of at least two.

The next day I went back to the pet store. The black & white guinea pig was still there. I held him, & although I was admittedly kind of creeped out thinking he wanted to bite me even though he didn’t (a fear well-founded due to my sister’s pet rabbit, who by no means can be considered friendly), I decided to bring him home. In another cage of guinea pigs, I found an adorable mostly brown guinea pig with a white rosette. He was super-sweet & cuddly, so I decided to bring him home as well.

Things didn’t get off to the best start. Even in their cardboard box on the way home from the pet store, the black & white guinea pig was fighting with & trying to assert dominance over the smaller brown one constantly. Things were even worse when I put them in their cage together. The black & white guinea pig continually tried to assert dominance over the brown one, even though the brown one rarely challenged him back. They fought quite a lot, & frequently, whenever the brown one wanted to drink water or eat food, the black & white one would scare him away. The cage I initially put them in was one unfortunately much too small for them, despite having been sold in the pet store as a “guinea pig cage”. This went on for several days.

I wondered if perhaps their lack of floor space was causing them to fight. I designed a home for them out of a kiddie pool. After reading on the Humane Society website about how if your guinea pigs really aren’t getting along, you can try bathing them together so they “bond together out of necessity”, & so they smell the same to each other. When I tried this, they were trying to fight in the bath tub. After their bath, they seemed to get along a little better, but a few days later, their fighting was only getting worse. One day in the space of an hour, they had two fights that had to be broken up with my family clapping their hands or tapping on the outside of their cage to distract them from their fight, & the brown one ended up with several small scabs. This resulted in them having to be put in separate cages for the safety of the brown one.

It was at this point that I realized they weren’t going to get along. I was conflicted regarding what to do about this. It broke my heart to think about returning the black & white one, now named Oreo, back to the pet store, but I also felt like it would be detrimental to separate them & have the brown one, whom I named Olive, live alone permanently, as even when Oreo was being mean to him, Olive still sought out comfort & contact from Oreo. That evening, I had a light bulb moment. I didn’t have to make either of those choices. I could have the best of both worlds, & make this a win-win situation for all involved.

Two brown and white guinea pigs in their cage

The photo above is from when Olive & Moose were first meeting in their cage.

I decided to give Oreo to my sister. Ever since I’d gotten him, she’d adored him the most, as she understood his somewhat nervous, active personality better than I did. The day after I decided what to do, I promptly went to the pet store to look at a third guinea pig. They had adorable baby ones, but because Olive was probably several months older than the babies, I didn’t get a baby one because I was afraid Olive could hurt it. There were quite a few adult ones, but I wanted to get one a similar age as Olive. Finally, I saw a wonderful brown & white rosette guinea pig. His fur was the exact same shade of brown as Olive’s, his eyes were the same shade of red, & his rosette on his forehead was identical. They looked like they could be brothers. This was the guinea pig I decided to get.

I introduced Olive & the new guinea pig to him on the carpet. They got along reasonably well, with very little dominance behavior between them. I put them in their cage together, & it was so refreshing seeing them getting along. They did & still do occasionally have small arguments, but they get along so well together for the most part, & both seem happy & healthy. I ended up naming the new guinea pig Moose, after failing to find another name I liked beginning with O for him.

Additionally, it’s amazing how much healthier & happier Oreo seems now, living in a separate cage. He actually seems a lot happier living in a cage without other guinea pigs. His cage overlooks the kiddie pool where mine live, so he gets to see, hear, & speak with them still, & my sister is able to spend a lot of time with her guinea pig. At least once a day, we have a controlled playtime for all the guinea pigs, where they can run around on the floor together & interact.

Brown guinea pig being petted on a yellow blanket

Olive snuggling in his blanket on my Mom’s lap.

I am loving having guinea pigs as pets so much. They are so cute & so sweet. When they’re out on the floor, my dog likes to gently approach them & just look at them. He finds their sounds the most fascinating thing in the world. Sometimes, he crawls towards them & gently touches them with his nose, or gives them a few kisses on their backs or ears (obviously I am sitting right in the middle of all the pets, supervising them closely). The guinea pigs now are used to Sparky to the point where they will voluntarily crawl towards him & sniff noses with him. It’s the cutest thing to watch.

It’s also awesome watching my guinea pigs’ personalities really start to come through. Olive thoroughly enjoys sitting on my shoulder when I hold him on the couch. He perches on my shoulder with his back end under my chin & will sit there for the longest time, sometimes quietly making sounds. Moose recently has started enjoying this as well, & he’ll sit there talking quietly the whole time. They are getting more bold when they run around on the floor as far as walking around & exploring, & they like climbing onto my lap when I sit on the floor by them. Every time anyone in my house touches a plastic bag, even a shopping bag, the guinea pigs started “wheeking” with excitement because it sounds like their hay bag. Moose is definitely the most talkative, & Olive is the most cuddly.

I’m so glad that I decided to add some guinea pigs to my life. They’re exactly what I was hoping for, & I’m looking forward to the future with them. ♥

I Launched a Company : All About Freedom Meadow Media

Freedom Meadow Media - Logo

Yes, it’s true & it’s awesome : I am now the proud owner of my dream publishing company, Freedom Meadow Media! This company will publish a variety of materials : books, films, music, zines, art, photography, etc. I will mainly focus on publishing & republishing my own materials for now, but in the future I plan on expanding to acting as the publisher for other people’s media too.

The Inception

Around three years ago, I had the idea for starting a publishing company. By this point, I had already been self-publishing for several years (April 4th this year marked the 5th anniversary of me publishing my debut book, Strange Occurrences. I was 16 when I self-published it.) After thinking about a variety of names, I decided on Freedom Meadow Media, & even drew a draft version of the logo, which I’ve had taped to my wall in my prosperity corner of my bedroom / house for years. At first, I had considered names such as “Freedom Meadow Records” or “Freedom Highway Records”, but ending up scrapping these ideas pretty early on.

Every year, I would put “Start my company” on my list of goals for the year, but every year, it would get pushed out of the way. Sometimes this was due to lacking the money to start my company, but admittedly, a lot of times I procrastinated launching my business because I feared that it would be too difficult or confusing of a process. At the end of last year, I decided that I was just going to go to it. I put in the necessary research, & through a process of trial & error, found the process a lot easier than I had believed it would be. This isn’t to say it wasn’t filled with some challenges & hurdles, like figuring out which kind of business license to get, & whether I needed a DBA (“Doing Business As” license), but I’m so glad that I prevailed in this!

Why I Did It

I wanted to own a company in order to empower myself to have complete creative control over my work as well as playing an integral part in the success of it (rather than relying on a traditional publisher to do these things for me), as well as making it much easier to promote my work as a whole. A be-your-own-hero kind of thing. Ceasing waiting for someone else to say that my work is “good enough” (after seeing how many books with bland plots or or ridiculous writing were published by regular publishing companies, including those which I had submitted my first manuscript to). Deciding for myself that my work was worthy of being published, & giving myself the full power to do so. Uninterested in trying to appease someone who would always find the number of books or songs that I produced in any given year to be “too much”. I wanted to be the one to tell myself “yes” rather than listening to people tell me “no” all the time; the one to give me permission to be as expansively prolific as I wanted to be.

What Does the Name Mean?

A “Freedom Meadow” is a concept I came up with years ago, & has since made its appearance in multiple, multiple poetry books & other media of mine. The idea’s first appearance was in the poem “Running Thru the Fields” in my Spring poetry book, the third volume of my Four Seasons series.

In the poem, the Freedom Meadow begins as such :

running thru the fields, our souls soaring with the fresh breeze of spring / the sun shining brightly overhead, blue sky glimmering above us / I feel so content & happy racing thru the fields of life with you / bright colors flashing past, the colors of tulips & daffodils & daisies & I see Queen Anne’s Lace swaying in the winds of beauty & change / sweeping up everything wonderful & perfect in life & depositing it in this sacred field

this field of beauty is not a physical place / it exists in my mind / you & I both sharing the same dream / this sacred field is the field of my Imagination, a field of Destiny, a field of Dreams, a field of Love, a field of endless Possibilities

Basically, a Freedom Meadow is a place, either real or imaginary, where you feel totally comforted & can believe that you really will be more than okay. A “safe place”. A Freedom Meadow reminds you of somewhere you’ve been, somewhere you wish to be, or a time in your life that feels particularly idyllic & halcyon & special; a place where you can completely be yourself and feel peaceful & happy. It’s a place that you can retreat & feel safe + nurtured when things in your life are stressful or difficult, & a place that you can feel happy & free when things are going great. A Freedom Meadow is a place which exemplifies happiness to you. To me, I see it as being a big beautiful field with a tree house in the middle of it, & a serene, joyful atmosphere. It can be whatever you want though, & you can always change or expand on what it means to you. I also think of it being like the line from Guns ‘n Roses’ Sweet Child o’ Mine

“Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place
where as a child I’d hide,
& pray for the thunder & the rain
to quietly pass me by.”

I love the fact that I have a company based upon this concept. I love the fact that I can say “I’m the CEO of a indie publishing company”, & that I can really call myself an entrepreneur now. I love the fact that I have a company which in the future will provide the same freedoms + environment I nurtured helping other people to achieve their dreams. I love the fact that I made this happen.

P. S. – It would really mean a lot to me if you could check out the Freedom Meadow Media website, follow Freedom Meadow Media on Twitter (I follow back!), like my Freedom Meadow Media’s Facebook page, or follow the Freedom Meadow Media Pinterest account. Thank you!!!

Indiana Jones Halloween Costume!

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Indiana Jones Halloween Costume by Ashlee Craft

Harriton khaki shirt / khaki pants by Columbia / belt from my grandmother / combat boots / whip is a strap from my sister’s purse / canvas medic bag / Indiana Jones-style fedora

Indiana Jones Halloween Costume by Ashlee Craft

I’ve been a HUGE fan of the Indiana Jones movies since I was a teenager. I’ve seen all the movies several times & even read the spin-off books, comics, & movie novelizations. BIG FAN. So, this year, I decided I was actually going to dress up as Indiana Jones for Halloween this year. Also, it was an easy costume for me to make – I already had all of these Indiana Jones-themed clothes, with the exception of the hat, which had been on my fashion wishlist for a long time. 

Indiana Jones Halloween Costume by Ashlee Craft

Indiana Jones Halloween Costume by Ashlee Craft

Cue the Indiana Jones theme song!

Here are some photos of my beloved Owl Pumpkin, #becauseOwls.

Owl Halloween Pumpkin by Ashlee Craft

Owl Halloween Pumpkin by Ashlee Craft

Owl Halloween Pumpkin by Ashlee Craft

Owl Halloween Pumpkin by Ashlee Craft

Also, here is a video of my dog wearing his Yoda Halloween costume.