Recently, I was privileged with the opportunity to interview JoDee Luna, a fearless entrepreneur and pioneer of the multimedia arts. She rehashes her personal journey, and how her steps into the blogosphere grew into leaps and bounds. Today, JoDee is active on her social media platforms and websites, one of which is home to a plethora of creative resources including her book, Refrain from the Identical: Insight and Inspiration for Creative Eclectics. I myself can only attest to all the value I have garnered from utilizing social media over the past few years, especially when it has led me to certain individuals who are a remarkable reflection of my own passions. So it is surely an honor to share JoDee’s personal experiences and wholesome artistic pursuits as they are a beacon of hope, encouragement, and advice for others who, like herself, thrive on a myriad of artistic expressions.
Hi, JoDee! I’m incredibly excited that you would take the time to share with me today. So, for starters, I see that you are really active online. Tell me:
What was it that started you on utilizing social media?
Over three years ago, my best friend of 39 years, Barbie, begged me to join Facebook. At the time, I was deeply engrossed in writing my book, Refrain from the Identical, so I was worried that social media might swallow me whole. By the summer’s end, on September 7, 2009, I gave in and joined. My fears gave way to joy as I began to reunite with people from childhood until the present.
The following summer, I came across “Artful Blogging,” a magazine by Somerset. I fell passionately in love with the idea and started my first blog. This blog led to four more, one of which is an educational website, www.jodeelunainnovations.com, I created for the literacy students I taught. I wanted to provide a fun resource for these struggling middle school readers.
That is a rather interesting way that you converged both your profession and your interests.
My creativity website, www.refrainfromtheidentical.com, resulted from a dream in which I saw the URL and knew I was to create a creativity website with resources for artistic people. So I decided to learn web design to fulfill the vision.
Social networks have helped me to share my artistic talents with others and to receive encouragement and help as well. Social networks have also facilitated the selling of my first book; in addition to selling masks and art my daughter and I make and list on our Etsy stores.
However, I’ve often put far too much time into maintaining too many blogs and social media networks. Recently I’ve reassessed how to best use my time online and decided to focus posts on my creativity website instead of trying to keep all of the blogs full of fresh content. Times of regular reassessment are essential because I work a full-time job and so my time is limited. After twelve years in the classroom, I have recently become a Middle School Support Specialist, so I’m having to adjust my social media expectations to embrace my new job.
My latest love is Pinterest. What a fabulous tool for organizing our eye candy and letting people know what we artistic types love to create and dream about doing
As someone who is constantly inundated with new ideas, I understand what it is like to always want to change things up. What was the defining moment in which you knew this book would be your “next project” for everyone else’s “next project”?
I began writing every morning six years ago while reading Julia Cameron’s books The Artist’s Way and The Right to Write. I related to Cameron on so many levels: both educators, both artists, both a bit wacky and distracted by so many different kinds of art forms. Her concept of “Morning Pages” took hold in my heart and propelled my creative journey forward. During those years of writing every morning, along with most weekends and many evenings, I started to organize my writings into themes and typing them into computer folders.
The defining moment came during a morning writing time while surrounded with candles. I watched the flames dance across living room walls and the urge to write books churned in my soul. Here’s an excerpt from those journal pages:
An inner urging, like the dancing candles that surround me, beckons me to go back to the beginning. To write the story of my life in hopes of finding out what the final chapters will be.
Little did I know multiple manuscripts would emerge from what I initially thought was one book forming. Refrain from the Identical was one of three I extracted from the enormous manuscript. The other two are in the editing process. One features my path as a writer and the other includes pieces I wrote while processing my journey of becoming a woman who explored self-development and pursued creative expression.
That is incredible. As much as a creative eclectic can thrive without structure, sometimes a good dose of organization can really light the spark.
So, what are some basic tips that would you give to those who are just stepping into their own, whether as creative eclectics or as people seeking to expand their network?
To use a barnyard metaphor, sit on your creative eggs with the intent to hatch creative chicks, and not to sell the eggs. We live in a culture that extols fame and fortune; yet creativity doesn’t bow to these idols. Seek to discover what brings you joy and try not to focus on becoming popular or selling your wares.
Building a network is like planting lots of seeds in your garden. The work and the wait seem to go on forever, but eventually they sprout and others come across your creative flowers. Find social media outlets you enjoy and online expressions suiting your unique talents and interests. Then expanding a network is like making lots of friends while doing what you love.
I like that metaphor!
As far back as I can remember, I wondered whether there was a God. And if there was, all I ever wanted to do was to love Him and be loved by Him. It was as if I had an inborn draw towards this mysterious being.
At the age of twelve, I convinced my parents to take me to a Billy Graham movie at the local theater and in the dark theater went forward to give my life to Christ. Yet those high school years were not particularly spiritual in nature until I attended a Girls’ State week as a delegate from my local high school. This week was transformative as I encountered other youth that shared my interest in God.
After my twentieth birthday, I left my home to join an international, interdenominational missionary organization called Youth with a Mission. This overseas experience began what developed into a fifteen-year ministry experience.
Additionally, who and what are some of your inspirations? What are the things that fuel you and incite you to jump out of bed every morning?
I believe the Creator of the universe delights in sharing ideas with us earthlings. I go to sleep praying for dreams to grace me. I invite God to whisper what is on His heart. Often creative ideas awaken me, and I jot them down in my spiral notebook positioned on my nightstand in preparation for idea snatching.
My mornings always begin with writing whatever comes to mind. This is a time of emotional cleansing and spiritual connecting. I believe the good Lord has a destiny for me, and the desire to discover His treasures intended for the day invigorates me.
For more information on JoDee’s creative projects and services, you can visit her website or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTOS: Courtesy of JoDee Luna, http://www.refrainfromtheidentical.com