Friday, December 30, 2011

Now is as good a time as any

"Bodhisattva" 
Text reads: In life, may you be your own greatest teacher

January is an interesting month. My experience of it has always been to feel a sense of inspiration and opportunity. The year is new! Anything could happen!

People make resolutions with the intention of this year being 'different'. This year will be the year they finally get around to that thing they've always wanted to do, the year they finally break that habit they know is causing them harm, the year they get that job they've always wanted to have.

My feeling on resolutions is that, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing now. I don't want to wait until the first of the year to start making change in my life. If I want to take up a new hobby, learn a new skill, visit a new place, break and old habit, change an old thought pattern - the first of July is as good as the first of January. The twenty-third of April or September is suitable. Essentially, if it's worth changing then it's worth changing now.

But I do set yearly goals come January. This is the time of year when I list what I want to do in the next twelve months. It's about creating a yearly To Do list - and a year is a good way to measure accomplishments. For example, my goals for 2011 were to complete my tarot card paintings, hold a gallery showing in London, eat in as many Michelin starred restaurants as I could reasonably afford and visit Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

I completed my tarot cards in February and held my gallery show in August. I've dined at Bohemia, Murano, Pearl and Gavroche. I made it to Scotland and Wales but not Ireland. Instead my travels took me to Thailand, which was well worth it and a reminder that goals do not need to be set in stone because we have as much time as we are willing to make.

It truly was the year of the rabbit as it hopped by at a rapid speed, each month filled with a multitude of new experiences and adventures.

2012 is nearly upon us and my primary goals are to establish Me First life coaching and to finish editing manuscripts and start sending them out for publication. Two goals which will afford me more freedom for the future.

Of course you needn't set yearly goals on a January to January basis. You can set them on whatever calendar works for you - but I highly recommend the 12 month timeline for measuring outcomes. It can give you a lot of flexibility but it also makes for a wonderful way to keep track of where you are on a multitude of accomplishments. And above all, remember that you are in charge of your life. Where you end up, where you go, what you learn - it's all down to you. Ask yourself what you want (because you  come first in your own life and you deserve to be your own best friend.) and then get out there and make it happen.

Here's to a happy New Year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

May your love keep you warm


Taking a holiday is so very important. I tend to find them difficult because I am my own worst critic and hate to be seen as lazy. But it's important to love yourself first and best and part of that is knowing when to give yourself breaks and taking time to enjoy the moment without rushing about and being preoccupied with too many responsibilities.

For me, this is the one time of year where I find it easy to take a break. This is probably because it's the one time of year when the priority should be the people you love. I am so fortunate to have a wonderful, supportive family and incredible friends. For me, this is the time of year when I am able to express my gratitude and appreciation by making time to share in conversation and delicious food.

Living a good life is largely about the attitude you take to it. My attitude at this time of year is one of warmth and comfort. It's about building new memories and reminiscing on the old. It's about time spent with loved ones.

I think with those as my priorities, taking a break becomes much simpler. I'm not slacking off at all - if anything I'm doing some of my most important work. I'm sharing in the joy of the connections we have with those around us and celebrating the wonderful people who make my life so very interesting and delightful.

Merry Christmas to you and yours and I'll be back to my regular posting in the New Year.

Friday, December 9, 2011

London Journal - 2 years

O.K, not two years exactly just yet. One year, eleven months and nine days, if I'm going to be entirely accurate. The point is, I've nearly been in London for the original duration I planned for back in 2009. 

My life needed shaking up and the route I took for this was to move from the city where I was born and raised to London. Why London? A multitude of reasons spring to mind every time someone asks me this and it's something I've covered extensively in this very blog. The short of it is that I was ready for something entirely different than anything I knew before. 

It has been incredibly different and it's not over yet. My original work visa is set to expire in a few weeks, but it no longer applies as I've moved onto a temporary leave to remain card. I've got at least two more years in the UK but I wanted to reflect on the time I've spent here based on that original timeline. 

Everyday is an opportunity and as time passes it's amazing what we can accomplish. I didn't set out to do anything specific when I moved to a new country. I was just looking for adventure, change, a chance to explore. 


Explore I have! In two years I've been to Scotland, Wales, Jersey and explored a large chunk of England. I've travelled to Paris and Amsterdam, been to the vineyards in the south of France and gone all the way to Thailand for my birthday. 


As for change, I've had my fair share to reckon with. Culturally I've discovered and learned so much about myself as a Canadian. I've also realised that the UK is full of a multitude of cultural differences. Sometimes it's been a struggle as I have felt too loud, too up front or too honest for the relatively subdued English. More often it's been a delight as I've discovered the inherently English things about me and my family which have been passed down from my wonderful Grandmother, a war bride who left England at the same age as when I came to it. 


More than anything, there have been the opportunities. I didn't really imagine that I'd learn graphic design, hold an art gallery showing and take the first steps into starting my own life coaching business. Not to mention the incredible wealth of knowledge I have gained from watching brilliant BBC documentaries, visiting a multitude of museums from the National Gallery to the Louvre, and reading countless plaques and monuments to some of histories most significant characters. 

I know how easy it is to make excuses to not do something because of a fear of the unknown, an inability to save the cash or the feeling that some obligation to others is more important than any desire you have to live the life you dream of. I once spent two years doing so little that I can hardly remember them - day to day there was so little change. Now I've spent two years doing so much that I can hardly believe it's only been two! I feel as though I've been making up for that wasted time, ravenously reading books (59 so far in 2011!), studying psychology and philosophy, jet setting anywhere that takes my fancy, creating incredible artwork, editing more than one novel at a time, and continuing to find new things to try, new places to visit and new ways to see the world. 



We can get bogged down with cliches so easily but life really is what you make it. At the end, I doubt very highly that you'll be wishing you'd been more careful, less generous and more introverted - so go after the life you want. 






Monday, November 28, 2011

Emotions


Lately I've been posting questions to my facebook page about emotions and how people describe, feel or explain them. The resulting response has been really incredible. People have so many different ways of identifying their emotions. Sometimes there are similarities and sometimes they seem almost obscure.

We get pretty hung up on emotions and whether or not someone is 'emotional'. It's easy to disregard a persons actions as being unimportant because they were being very emotional. But emotions are really important.

As a creative person and as someone who seeks greater self awareness, I spend quite a lot of time considering my emotions and the emotions of those around me. Human beings can be very empathic, some more than others. This ability for us to connect to those around us through the emotions we share is really quite incredible.

When I write or paint or create anything, really, my emotions are as influential as the experiences I've had. As a life coach I know it's incredibly important for me to recognise and listen to how someone is feeling.

By asking people to describe the colour or physical form of an emotion, or explain where it is in their body, we can see how people experience emotions very differently. Essentially, what makes me happy isn't what makes you happy, although the feeling of happiness might be the same.

I encourage you to join in. If anything, it's a really interesting conversation. So please, do contribute.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The bonnie land of Scot

On the 3rd I attended the opening of the Trees for Life exhibition to raise money to save the Scottish Caledonian forest. I submitted a piece of work to the exhibition some months ago and when the date was confirmed it seemed like a great opportunity to visit Edinburgh.

The exhibition was completely successful as several pieces already had the tell tale red dots of a sale and many more acquired them throughout the evening. The proceeds are going straight to Trees for Life and will be used to plant new trees and provide a lush wild land for future generations. My submission is still available for purchase.
 The rest of the weekend was spent taking in the weird and wonderful city-scape. Edinburgh is not terribly large and therefore easily explored by foot. From Edinburgh Castle in the Old Town to the fabulous Georgian Dome in the New Town, the entire city is full of an indescribable character. The stones are stained with soot, as though a permanent shadow is cast across the corners of the buildings. Everything is subtly larger than London - the ceilings higher, the roads wider, the windows taller. The grey colouring does not make the city feel dull. Instead it intensifies everything in an incredibly magical and captivating way.
 Around the streets of the Old Town there are a multitude of closes, winding narrow staircases and dark doorways through to residential spots or hidden churches. The number of churches seems astounding given the rather small size of the city. Many do not perform their original function, having been turned into art galleries, theatre spaces and in one case an ironically named night club - 'Sin'.

 Just like London though, Edinburgh is full of art. Around corners, at the ends of bridges, in busy squares - there are sculpted wonders, incredible monuments and some things that can't be described and have not even been labelled.
Three days was not long enough to see all I wanted and yet I felt I'd seen more than I had expected as the weekend drew to a close and I was once more on a plane to London. Fortunately it's a short flight away, only an hour or so, and I know I will go back for it's the sort of city one is drawn to out of curiosity and a sense of wonder.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Off to Edinburgh

I knew November would be busy but I don't think I was prepared for just how busy it would be within the first few days. The charity I work for held a 'do' at the House of Lords on the 1st and as a result today has involved a lot of catch-up. I've had to be extra vigilant as I won't be in for the rest of the week because my partner and I are flying up to Edinburgh for the Trees for Life Exhibition which opens tomorrow night.

Both of us have work featured in the exhibition so we thought it would be a great idea opportunity for a trip to Scotland. This will be extra exciting for me as it also means I an tick yet another destination off of my 'Everything I ever Want to do in my Entire Life' list.

This is a good list to have. I recommend you start one. Get a binder, put some paper in it (lined or unlined - totally up to you.) or grab a journal or sketchbook and just start writing down all the stuff you'd like to accomplish in your life. The key is to really think about everything you write down. It's not a time challenge, it's a chance for you to truly consider the things you want to see, do and know.

If anything it's a wonderful way to see that you don't actually want to do a million things. It's more likely you'll have difficulty even listing the first 100. Once it's all down then it will be more obvious how achievable those things are and you won't feel like you've got to keep your brain cluttered with ideas. You've written it down, so you will remember because you have a reference. And then it's just a matter of finding the right opportunity.

In this case I found an exhibition doing an open call for art that featured trees. I contacted the organiser and sent in my piece. Deciding to head there for the exhibition was a natural follow-through and voila! Something to tick off my list. Easy peasy.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!


Hallowe'en is not celebrated in the UK the same way it's celebrated in Canada. It hasn't been a tradition here but the onset of globalisation has resulted in the youth of the nation attempting to cash in on the free candy. They don't do a very good job of it, mostly because they can't get the night right, apparently. I had youth showing up on Saturday and Sunday - not the 31st at all. I told them to come back on Monday and continued with my pumpkin carving.

 This year I decided to try something a bit more complex. I was inspired by a slideshow sent to me by my best friend. I have to say I'm really chuffed with the result! My fierce kitty is a great first attempt and even works when lit.
I also purchased a small pumpkin for my partner. She did a bit of research as she's not such an old hand at pumpkin carving as myself, and created a delightful howling wolf.

A total success as far as pumpkin art goes, I must say!

Happy Hallowe'en and Trick or Treat.

Friday, October 28, 2011

52 books!


I don't really believe in New Years resolutions because if it's worth changing I'll just get on and do it, regardless of the time of year. I do, however, see it as a great time to set specific goals. What better place to start a timeline to a goal than the first of the year? The weeks and months lay ahead, ready to measure the count down to that end project.

One of my main goals for 2011 was sort of a double act. I wanted to read at least a book a week and, if at all possible, read as many or more books than my dad. I figured that having the double goal would be helpful because reading fifty two books in a year is a challenge but reading as many or more than my dad was inclined to be impossible - he once read over seventy in a single year.

I needed to be pragmatic if this was going to be an achievable goal. I love to read, very much, as books are a source of great inspiration, ideas and growth for me. In 2010 I didn't read nearly as much as I wanted primarily because most of my reading material was non-fiction of a philosophical nature. Each book took several weeks to finish because a single chapter could leave me with a lot to mull over and I wanted to stop and consider what I'd read before moving on.

This year my reading selection has been a mix but falling heavily on the fiction side. I've been relatively indiscriminate about my reading material (Within reason, you couldn't pay me to read some authors - who will remain unnamed as I don't believe in squashing enthusiasm) and taken any book that came my way with eager anticipation.

Evidently this has paid off because today, a full eight weeks before the end of the year, I finished reading my fifty-second book. I'm elated because at this point I have achieved half my goal - the half which was a personal challenge - and can see that the full goal may yet be reached.

Proof that, if you take things as they come, keep and open mind and set clear goals, we can amaze ourselves.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

'Documentary' and 'Hiker'

In August I held a gallery showing of my tarot card collection. Everyone who came to view my work was given the opportunity to enter into a draw for a pair of free custom FaunawolfCreations shoes. Following the show a lucky winner was chosen and thus began my process of creating entirely unique footwear for someone. 
 When making my custom shoes the first thing I do is get a feel for the personality, attributes, tastes and hobbies of the individual who will be wearing them. I've done shoes for close friends and total strangers but I do love the latter if only because of the great sense of satisfaction I get when someone I've never met is delighted by what I've made for them. I think it's important to capture the passion of someone just right to make my custom footwear that much more valuable and, if I can do that for someone I don't know, then I feel I've paid attention.

A soon as I've found the perfect pair of shoes the design begins to form in my mind and until now the design has always been inclusive of both shoes.  In the case of this pair, however, my surface was ample and the possibilities were many. The lucky winner of the draw had given me a lot to go on - documentary film making, love of the outdoors, passion for language and travel, an interest in astronomy.
 The design for the shoe for the right foot came to me first. The whole thing started with the design for the toe. I was Googling images, looking for some inspiration, when I thought of the classic '5,4,3,2...' count in at the beginning of old film reels. From there the rest of the shoe just came together with a heavy duty film camera and a film reel on the right and left sides, respectively.


 The left shoe was a bit more challenging. I didn't want to continue with the 'Documentary' theme of the right shoe and there was still so much of the individual left uncaptured. I decided to focus on the outdoor loving aspect of their character and start, once again, with a design for the toe.
 The rest of the shoe design, just like the other one, came about naturally (Pardon the pun) as I went for a landscape at night to incorporate the astronomy angle as well. It occurred to me that this was my first ever landscape painting, as I find landscapes utterly boring most of the time and have never fancied painting on. This one was quite enjoyable and I'm really pleased with the end result.



As the draw winner doesn't live in London I wasn't able to deliver the shoes until earlier this week. They have been well received and I'm happy to add them to my portfolio of custom kicks.

You can now order your own pair directly through my newly designed website.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Live in 5-4-3-2....

The new look for www.faunawolfcreations.com is finally here!

This new look has been a long time coming. For several months I had been searching for solutions which would give me the site I was imagining. I wanted it to be inclusive of all my creative projects but not cluttered. A simple design and all encompassing online portfolio which is easy to navigate and use.

A huge thank you to my wonderful partner for taking the time to go through it page by page and check for silly spelling mistakes and other errors.

I'd also like to thank the creators of Weebly. I totally recommend them to people with little or no technical knowledge or skill. Building a site through them has been an utter dream and I've yet to encounter hic-ups with them.

I'd love to know what you think so please share your views through my Facebook page or come have a natter on Twitter.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

This will change your life

Life is a funny thing and human beings are interesting creatures. We struggle to understand why we were put here and we spend an awful lot of time attempting to come up with structure for our lives or guidelines for how it should work.

I have spent years listening to people tell me what the Rules are. The Rules being things like:
You need to pick one thing to do for the rest of your life.
Stability is the most important thing and unless you have a stable income life will be scary.
If you're talented or good at something you should make a career out of it.
You can't be happy at a job because a job will always ultimately be work and work isn't fun.
Do what you want when you're young because one day you will have to 'settle down'.

These are only a few of the Rules I've heard but I think this gives a pretty clear idea of what I'm talking about. I've got a revelation for you now.

Life doesn't have rules.

Life is chaotic, unpredictable and ever changing. In fact, the only irrefutable 'rule' life has is that everything changes.

In my life I have had multiple jobs, positions, titles and careers. I've delivered flyers, babysat, been a youth worker, successfully started a non-for-profit organisation, been paid to perform as a drag king, acted as researcher and administrator on an anti-violence campaign, been an assistant for a film festival, been an animator, a kennel technician, worked in a library, been a project manager for three different organisations managing completely different kinds of projects, done merchandising, building and sales at IKEA, been a freelance journalist, provided fundraiser support, become a graphic designer and marketing material developer for a charity and held two successful art gallery showings.

My income hasn't always been particularly stable but for me success is not measured by how much money I can make but how happy and satisfied I am with my life. I'd rather be content and poor than rich and bored.

I have many talents, as we all do, but that doesn't mean I want to make a career out of every single one. And we shouldn't have to. You can have an incredible talent and passion for cooking but being a chef just might not be your thing and that's O.K. Getting a paycheque for your talent doesn't make it any more or less important.

And as for having fun on the job? I've had jobs which were so much fun I forgot I was getting paid to do them. In fact, I often felt like I'd do it for free because I loved it so much. When I stopped loving them so much it wasn't because the job had changed or because it was a job that my interest went away. It was because I'd gotten what I'd come for. When you get bored with something or you start to dread going to work, it's not because work is or should be that way - it's the universe telling you it's time to move on.

You're allowed to move on no matter what age you are. My favourite example of this is Diana Athill. Diana spent her life in editing. She'd never written and didn't want to. She also never married although she was in many long term relationships. She travelled and she had many experiences. She now writes books and because of her experiences she also spends a lot of time speaking publicly. Diana is 94 years old.

She has never 'settled down' and nor should she. And nor should you. If you want to move to a new country, learn a new language, develop a new skill, take on a new career - you should, regardless of how old you are.

Life is a beautiful ever changing experience and you only get one as far as any of us know so you better go out there and live it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Either/or ... and?

Everyone has bad habits. From nail biting to cracking knuckles - we all have those things we know we shouldn't do but we often find ourselves doing without realising it. Generally bad habits are classified as physical actions. Leaving the toilet seat up, picking your nose, and interrupting are all quite obvious to those around us. But there is another way we can form bad habits.

Our brains generally have a mind of their own. Sounds funny, I know, but it's entirely true. If you've ever tried meditation you'll understand what I mean. Our brains tend to think even when we don't try. It's sort of like how your tongue will poke a sore tooth in your mouth, despite your best efforts. Of course, if you pay attention to it, you can stop your tongue from poking around and causing unnecessary pain. The same goes for your thoughts.

A lot of what we think and how we think becomes habitual. Our upbringing, schooling and experiences will all determine how we think and sometimes our thought patterns can form habits which might not be the most healthy for us. A great example is the either/or mentality, something which I have a lot of experience with.

I'm an energetic and creative soul and sometimes my enthusiasm hits an 'all or nothing' block. For example, I recently decided to make a SteamPunk themed costume for Hallowe'en. When it comes to making costumes I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I hold high standards for what I'm going to make and I want the end result to be what I deem 'perfect'.

As I began working on this costume I realised that the time and money restraints on me meant that I probably couldn't do it exactly as I'd imagined. Right away my 'either/or' thoughts kick in and I think it means I either make the costume, or I don't. But when I'm paying attention I can change that thought pattern. Instead I can remind myself that I'm capable of making a really good costume in a less complicated and time consuming way. I can also make a costume that will grow and change over time. I can do it in different ways.

So the ray gun which I imagined could only be made by gathering together some pipe, wood and cogs could be made using a simple water gun spray painted brass with a little winding key stuck into it. It still looks really good and will fit nicely with my costume - even if it's not what I first pictured.


One of my favourite things about life is the opportunities we're given to surprise ourselves. When we surprise ourselves by changing the way we think the result can be really incredible.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Change is Good


I’d like to begin by thanking everyone who has shared their comments and ideas with me over the past few months as I’ve been formulating my plans for the future. Your feedback has helped me immensely. I now feel I’ve got an excellent toolkit and timeline for launching myself as a Life Coach with this first step. 
One of the key things that came up was what to do with my blog. Popular opinion was that it should remain as it is - a way to share my creative projects - and an entirely new blog would need to be written for my Life Coaching. Initially I was wholeheartedly of the same opinion. I was certain that having two blogs, two websites, two twitter feeds and two Facebook pages was the way to go. 
I began to look at the logistics of it though and in short order I realised that the time and energy it would take to be a true Jacob Two-Two was going to detract from my ability to do either very well. On top of that, a lot of my creative projects feed directly into my desire to be a Life Coach. 
I truly believe we are our own greatest teachers in life. Each of us is full of unlimited potential and we can all accomplish incredible things with the right tools and techniques. The growth of my blog, the completion of my Tarot Card project, the move I made to London - are all testimony to this. Leading by example is the greatest way to show others that the techniques you’re sharing with them can bring success. 
Continuing on from that, much of my creative work expresses the concepts and ideas I want to share to help people feel empowered to create change in their lives. The things I write in this blog have never been just about the technical aspect of the work I do. I touch on a whole array of ideas through my creative work - ideas like moving forward, letting go, being confident, learning acceptance - which will be themes in my Life Coaching practice. 
I already have a wonderful group of followers and what I write here won’t change drastically. It will simply mean that not every entry I make will be connected to a creative project I’m working on.
Of course I can’t keep this blog and still call it Faunawolf Creations which is why I’ve decided to rename it. So welcome to ‘She Smiled the Widest Smile’ - a blog about living life well, being your own best friend and doing what you love. 



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Coming soon!

For the past year and a half www.faunawolfcreations.com has been hosted by Zac and Dan's brilliant foliotwist.com. When I first arrived in the UK and was still job hunting, I decided I needed an online presence with my art outside of this faithful blog. I did a lot of research before settling on foliotwist. They have met my needs admirably for the past year and a half but as I grow as an artist and author, so too have my needs for a website.

My new site will be under the same address but with a whole new look. It will go live in a few weeks time and I really want to hear your feedback on it. So far a lot of it has been built based on what I know I want for it, but also based on requests of my fans and followers.

More of my work will be featured - such as my sculpture and animation. These are two things I'd like to do more of and in the coming months and year I'm going to really throw myself into a sculpture project (or two...or three).

There's also an entire section devoted to my writing - which will grow as I finish editing my completed novels and start getting them published.

I'm terribly excited about it and I hope you will be too! Stay tuned for details of the launch by following my fanpage and tweets.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Costume Fun!

Gosh, I feel like a terribly neglectful blog writer. I keep meaning to update it at least once a week but it feels like the speed of this rabbitty year has really gotten away from me now. I'm busy as anything, but not feeling run quite so ragged. I've just got a lot going on at the moment - which is why it's important for me to do something a bit fun.

Seeing at Hallowe'en is right around the corner and I've been invited to a 'costume-optional' party on the 14th, I figured it would make good sense to go about making a costume. I used to make a new costume every year without fail. Granted, this was significantly easier when I was still in school and living at home.  I had a vast array of supplies and a sewing machine available for me to whip up everything from Hobbes to a praying mantis.

To add to the lack of usual costume resources, I'm also unfamiliar with the shops in London which would be equivalent to where I might have gotten that just right scrap of cloth or that last minute bit of construction paper to finish off a zebra, bat or Spy Vs. Spy character.

I'm also running on a short time frame, which means that I have to take into account that most of my planning, plotting, sewing, tweaking and construction needs to be done after work. This weekend is the last afforded me before the weekend of the party as next weekend I'm going to be in my Life Coaching classes from Friday til Sunday.

I was further restricted by the theme of said costume party being 'Art'. Arguably, I could therefore wear any of my already completed costumes as they are my very own personal artwork - especially the ones with hand crafted plaster cast masks. But I'm stubborn and I dislike re-wearing my costumes. I much prefer to make a new one each year for the sake of tradition and generally just for the fun of it. Perhaps it's due to my love of Mr. Dress-Up or the fact that I have too many ideas to risk missing out on one by repeating a costume. Regardless of the reason, I knew I had to come up with an art themed costume that was simple to put together in a short period of time and with limited access to my usual costume construction resources.

I love a challenge and this was not one I felt was insurmountable. I did some Googling, pondered a few different ideas and finally settled quite happily on going with the wonderfully whimsical choice of building a SteamPunk outfit.

For those who don't know, SteamPunk is a form of art which combined Victorian style and technology with modern day or futuristic conveniences. Imagine, if you will, a steam powered Smart Phone, a clockwork laptop, or a wind-up ray gun. Combine with a Victorian waistcoat, shirt and trousers. Apply some goth make-up or brightly coloured hair, a mohawk or lots of piercings. Voila! SteamPunk couture!

I just so happened to have a new cap, which was purchased for me by my adoring sprout, as a starting place for said costume. I've also got a smashing pair of Garrisons - modern day army boots made in Canada, perfect for the 'punk' aspect of the outfit. I set out to finish the costume by purchasing a suitable mix of Victorian-esque articles of clothing, including a pair of brilliant rust coloured shooting breeks, a waistcoat and a jacket with leather patches on the elbows.

The clothing done, my next step is to accessorize. I intend to do so over the next week and I'm quite looking forward to revealing the end result.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Universe has spoken...

I am a firm believer in the Universe sending us lessons in all forms. I've mentioned time and again that I'm not particularly good at giving myself breaks. I also have a habit of expecting an unreasonable amount of productivity from myself. This is illustrated perfectly by my inability to push back when I'm getting paid for a job. If someone is paying me I feel as though I should be able to accomplish absolutely everything given to me, even if the time it will take to finish it all is more than the time I've been given to complete it in.

Recently I was given a great lesson on being able to say, "No" to an employer. Not, "Sorry, no, I can't really get to that at the moment" or "No, but maybe this afternoon" but flat out, full stop, unequivocal: NO.

It was nerve wracking but liberating. I said 'No, it can't be done, and this is not my fault' and got on as best I could with the time I did have.

Everything started to ease up quite nicely and then the inevitable happened. Because I'm so bad at taking breaks, because I generally tend to give more than I should, and because I really need to learn the lesson, the Universe has bestowed me with shingles.

I've learned a lot about shingles these past few days. They're not the adult version of chickenpox, for example. Adults can get chickenpox or shingles and they're from the same virus but attack the body in different ways. If you never had chickenpox as a child you can catch shingles from someone who has them but if you did have chickenpox you can't. Shingles are something that you can get when you have had chickenpox - as the virus lies dormant in your system. The biggest thing which brings it on?

STRESS.

Huge amounts of stress.

And here's the interesting thing about shingles: it's debilitating. The Universe has struck me down and I cannot fight through the pain of the rash nor the drowsiness caused by the medication I have to take five times a day. I cannot help but rest, relax, and generally take it easy. I have been kicked to the curb and there I must stay.

It's refreshing, actually. It's liberating because now I have a damn good reason to back up my 'No'. 'No, I don't want to get shingles again, thanks.'

It's also meant I've had loads of time to sit about doing non-taxing things which require little or no movement, like working on my new website. I'm finally getting the website of my dreams and it has been so enjoyable to take my time with it. I've been able to do little updates each day, twenty minutes or so at a time, not feeling rushed or unreasonably pressured to get anything done. I'm really enjoying it and getting more and more excited about the launch!

I've also been writing a lot. This has been hugely fun because I often find it difficult to make time to write because it requires finding a space with no distraction and at the end of a long writing session I sometimes feel slightly idle for not having moved for several hours. Of course that's quite silly because in several hours I can write several pages, perhaps even several chapters, and ultimately my writing is something of which I am very proud.

So I think I'm learning the lesson well and as a result feeling emotionally extremely well, even if physically my side is in torturous pain. I'm learning that there are worse things in life then not meeting the unreasonable deadlines of other people and that I must always, always remember to take care of myself first and foremost.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A New Project!

I know I did a warning post several weeks ago regarding the change to my blog updating routine but for anyone who missed it - I'll still be updating my blog just with less frequency.

The reason for my silence this month is that September has been quite full-on for me. My parents have been visiting and therefore most of my spare time is taken up with exploration and visitation. I've also begun my Life Coaching course and as a result have been doing a lot of business planning and such around that.

But as October approaches things will be slowing down and I'll be updating my blog a little more often. Still not 12 entries a month, but far more than I've managed for September - which shouldn't be too difficult as I think that means more than two entries.

There is, however, a slight kink in my plan to do more regular updates. I normally like to post a photo with each blog entry because anyone who keeps a successful, well-read blog will tell you that images do wonders for holding people's attention. Plus, as a creative individual, I like to show people what I'm working on both through description and a nice snapshot.

Unfortunately my point and shoot has finally been damaged beyond repair as a result of my rather careless treatment of it. The screen doesn't work and therefore, taking a quick photo requires a lot of imagination, guess work and crossed fingers. It's just like using film again!

So this entry won't have an image with it but in some ways this is probably a good thing. I have just been to the post office and picked up a spanking new pair of white canvas sneakers that I ordered a week and a half ago. These are the shoes which I will be decorating for the lucky winner of the draw I did following my gallery show. Since half the fun of designing shoes for someone is the unveiling of the final product, it's probably better that I don't start posting loads of pictures.

My parents are returning to Canada this weekend and in the following week I'll resume my normal round of updates along with spending time working on my creative projects. These sneakers will be the first of the creative projects I'm going to dive into. I'm extremely excited for it and will keep you posted on the progress - despite the lack of images.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Task List

I'm so glad I decided not to stick to my 12 entries a month for a little bit. Clever planning on my part, really. Good advice for life, too: Whether you work for yourself or you work for someone else, be aware of your abilities and the restriction of time.

It's one thing to be capable of something, another thing entirely to be able to manage accomplishing multiple tasks in a certain time frame. If you can focus on one thing at a time you'll do a better job over-all and you won't run yourself ragged by having unreasonable expectations of what you can achieve.

As it happens, my gallery show fell at the end of a lull, as a kick-start to a lot of busyness throughout the next two months. I've got a lot of stuff happening in my personal life and a lot of change in my professional life. This means I'm learning to make more reasonable deadlines and getting used to the idea that sometimes, things have to wait. They'll get done, definitely, but one cannot be expected to complete multiple tasks all at once, especially if the plan is to do a good job of which you can be proud.

It's nice though, in a lot of ways, because I'm learning to relax into things. I'm taking my time and enjoying the free moments I have. Like today I was able to make a small task list whilst taking the train home from a day spent at the Hampton Court Palace with my parents. When I got home I jumped on it and as a result I've now purchased the perfect pair of shoes for the lucky winner of the draw I did in conjunction with my gallery show.

I've also managed to do this blog entry! Which is a little bonus and one I'm quite happy about.

On top of that, I'm feeling quite inspired after a day spent learning about the Tudors and where they lived. I'm using this inspired energy to get these things done and formulate some plans for the future, which I have time for because I made that task list which I've now completed.

So nice when you stop trying to control things and just let them fall into place.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A reading...



One question I was asked a lot during my gallery show was if I do tarot card readings. "Yes!" is the answer and it was because of this that I was first struck with the idea of doing my own interpretation of the Major Arcana.

My first deck was a gift (Traditionally it is believed that one should not purchase their own deck but have it given to them.) and the giver not only bestowed me with the beautiful set, but also offered to tutor me in reading them. I was fascinated with the artwork, the intricacy of the images and the depth of their meaning and wanted to learn more.

This interest was what fueled me to start exploring the history of tarot through painting. On top of that I had a strong desire to see my large depictions in a traditional Celtic Cross Spread, one of the most commonly used spreads for conducting a reading. I did get to use this spread at my show and photographed it extensively and enthusiastically, thrilled to see my dream coming true.

Another spread often used when reading tarot is the quick 'three card spread', which is usually how the cards are shown being used in popular media. The reader lays down three cards and 'foretells the future' of the querant...or something along those cheesy lines.

In actuality, the cards are used to read energy and they don't reveal anything you don't already know. They are meant to give direction, not definitive answers. Or at least that is how I've come to understand them and how I've always used them.

So what of this particular three card spread? It can represent many things depending on what you assign each card - mind, body and spirit/ past, present and future / positive, negative and self. Or it can be used to answer a direct question of the querant such as "Is my relationship healthy?" or "Am I doomed to be single forever?"

Personally I quite like current focus, coming focus, overall focus. When applied to these three cards: Love, The Chariot and The Sun, it makes a very profound statement about our own sense of self worth.

In this order Love sits in the current focus. This means that the individual is or should be working on loving themselves compassionately in every way. Good advice for anyone, really, and a large part of why I'm working on becoming a Life Coach.

People don't love themselves nearly enough but I believe it's extremely important to be your own best friend. When you can learn to rely on yourself and feel a sense of pride in who you are and how you've come to be that person, doors will open and life becomes far more enjoyable.

Which leads us to the second card, The Chariot, in the coming focus position. Ultimately, loving who you are isn't necessarily that difficult. You can sit down and make a list of the things you've accomplished, all the things you're proud of and all the joys you get out of life. You can list your favourite attributes and your skills and talents. You can find a sense of confidence and begin to really shine - but then we will notice the other things that couldn't possibly go on such glowing, positive lists. That silly mistake you made at work, or that time you were careless with someone else's heart. That selfish, hurtful thing you might have done or that cruel joke we partook in.

The Chariot asks us to look at how we can be our own worst enemy sometimes and that part of loving ourself is about compassion for those darker sides. It's about accepting responsibility for our actions and knowing that what we may have done in the past doesn't have to dictate what we'll do in the future. Rather than fighting, clinging, grasping and struggling, we need to open up, relax, accept responsibility and embrace change.

When we do we will reach The Sun, the overall focus and the plateau of Maslow's Hierarchy or the moment of enlightenment. That divine, glorious moment when we can understand that life is beautiful in it's tiny intricacy and it's never ending chaotic glory. This is positive energy, fitting in with the world and knowing that we are all connected, we're all unlimited potential and we are all capable of great things.

So this particular spread is full of a lot of good energy. It's one that I think makes a good teaching for how to live life with a sense of contentment.




Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Day After

Blank Canvas - The Apricot Gallery awaits


Sorting the layout


Prints of pieces in Canada hung in traditional Celtic Cross Layout

Buddhist themed work


Excited artist

Guest viewing the work


Celtic Cross layout of the original canvases

I thought this blog entry would write itself. I figured the entire experience of hosting a gallery show of my Tarot Card series would be content enough, but looking back I really have no idea where to start. This show felt like a very nice full-stop to what was originally just an intriguing idea for an art project.

From the High Priestess to the Wheel of Fortune, each card has been an exploration of my beliefs, the beliefs of the world around us and the energy which flows throughout. The sense of utter exhaustion I felt by the end of the two days was partly due to the physical effort involved and partly due to the emotional intensity of it. My blood, sweat and tears went into these paintings and as each guest came in I greeted and discussed with them the finer points of my work.

It was extremely interesting to find out which card drew an individual in and why they felt so captivated by it. For some it was the imagery, for others it was the description. For a few it was a combination of both, but no one seemed to leave without having chosen a card or two for which they felt an affinity.

I'd like to thank each guest I had for taking time to come look and have a chat. I feel like I have gained an even greater understanding of my own work by viewing it through the eyes of so many others.

I am extremely grateful for all the support I've had on this journey. I know I thanked many people upon completing the set, but I'd like to thank a few people in particular for this final step of showing my work.

I would like to thank my psychologist - my most expensive friend and a force to be reckoned with. Her persistence helped me stop making excuses. One of the guests of my show remarked that to put something like this one must take a lot of guts. I want to thank my psychologist for teaching me that fear can't actually hurt you. Without this encouragement I'd not have taken the plunge to move to London and I'd certainly not have believed in myself to think I could and should pull off what I have this past weekend.

I would like to thank my parents - they have always encouraged me to be the best of myself and without their unconditional love I know I wouldn't be the person I am today.

I'd like to thank those who were able to purchase my work. I did these paintings for myself but I shared them for people like you. I am so grateful for your appreciation of what I do and feel honoured that my work spoke to you in such a way that you would love to have it hung on your own wall to admire every day.

And in the tradition of saving the best for last, I would like to thank my partner. Not only did she do some smashing photography of the event, but she has given me huge amounts of support and encouragement throughout the planning and preparation. From all the little thing - like picking up cups for the wine and greeting people as they came in, to the really incredibly big things - like booking taxis and putting up with my fits of worry and anxiety, she has shown great patience and care. I am more grateful to her than words can possibly express.

In the aftermath of the showing I've become quite reflective. During the show many people asked what I intended to do next. I didn't have a straight forward answer for them but I can say that I came to the conclusion that, for now, my paint brushes will be set aside. I have mentioned before that I tend to want to do quite a lot all at once and feel almost paralysed by the abundance of ideas for creative projects which crop up on a daily basis. I feel though, having focused so entirely on this body of work for the past two and a half years, that there is time enough for all my work to be done - one piece at a time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How To

How to Put on a Gallery Show

  1. Complete something really incredible that you want to share with the world. You don’t even have to have a finished body of work. It can be a piece in progress if you like, just make sure there’s enough to share.
  2. Find a space. Any space. It can be a gallery, it can be your living room, it can be a pop-up gazebo in a park somewhere. As long as it’s suitable to what you are showing and you’re happy with it.
  3. Promote like crazy. Let everyone know repeatedly when, where, and what. Let them know who you are, most importantly, and make sure they know why they should come: e.g. original work, meeting the artist, a fun evening out, interesting conversation, something entirely different.
  4. Sweeten the deal. Throw in something extra. Add value to the evening. Food is a great thing to offer. People love something to nibble on when they’re admiring your work. Something to drink is good too but keep it classy and make sure any restrictions are considered when doing so.
  5. Sell yourself a little more. Make a special offer for people who attend. Like a slight reduction on the price of originals or the chance to win something you’ve made. Nothing that will be detrimental to your own pocketbook. You’re a professional, remember. Giving away your work for free doesn’t just keep you from making money, it means people will think you don’t value your own work. Make your prices reasonable but throw in a slight perk for those who attend.
  6. Give yourself ample time. Make a backwards timeline from the day of the showing. Figure out what you need to get done and by when. There is always going to be a certain amount of stress when it comes to putting on a gallery show but there’s such a thing as ‘unmanageable stress’. Remember, you’re your own boss. You make your own hours and you know how much time you need to complete any given task. Be kind to yourself by having an effective plan in place.
  7. Let go. At a certain point you’ll have done everything you can do. The trick is not to have any expectations, good, bad, positive, negative. The single objective is to share your work. If you sell something, fantastic. If you sell a lot of things, all the better. But if you don’t, that’s O.K. too. If a dozen people show up, that’s fine. If you end up with more people than the gallery can hold and it violates fire regulations, oh well. The important thing is that you are sharing your work to anyone who happens by.

8. Enjoy yourself. You are an artist. This is your moment. Relax, and just be.



Monday, August 15, 2011

This week!

This Friday my Tarot Cards will be on display at the Apricot Gallery just off of Brick Lane (Sorry to be flogging a dead horse with this one, but, y'know, self promotion is sometimes a bit repetitive.)

Several of the originals will be displayed as well as prints of the pieces currently residing in Canada. Multiple Hi-Gloss photo prints will be available for purchase and I will be taking orders for canvas reproductions.

I'm extremely excited to be sharing my work publicly for the first time since November 2009. My Tarot Cards are one of my proudest accomplishments but also the result of an incredible amount of support and encouragement from friends, family and fans. My work is an expression of my gratitude, my love of life and my desire to help people realise their own potential. I certainly hope you'll be able to join me on the 19th or 20th to celebrate.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A London Gallery Show


Photos from my November 29th, 2009 Gallery show in Calgary, Alberta


In just one week my Tarot Card paintings will be on display at the Apricot Gallery just off of Brick Lane. It seems like it's been absolute ages since finishing what ended up being a two year art project and booking the space to exhibit the completed work. I suppose it has been, having finished my final three cards back in February, but the time between my last Gallery showing and this upcoming on has been much longer.

In 2009 I truly began to take stock of my life, how I wanted to live it and where I could see myself in the coming years. I embraced my creativity, seeing my abilities as a writer and artist not as something to fill hobby time, but as something which could make me a living.

I also made the decision to move to London, one which has changed my life in unimaginable ways. Living in this city has been and continues to be an incredible education. Where else can you encounter a Henry Moore sculpture on a street corner, watch Kevin Spacey depict Richard III and gaze upon countless original pieces by the great masters of art?

I feel honoured and elated that my own work will soon be available for viewing by the London public. It seems so long ago that I took those first tentative steps into sharing my work and offering it for sale - a time when only eight of the twenty-two Tarot Paintings were complete.

Now I'm taking a new focus, still giving special consideration to my creative works, but with an aim to have a career which not only funds my art and writing, but also fulfills my passion and love of helping others. There's a lot to consider and as I do, I am becoming more and more excited about this gallery showing and what will come afterwards. There is nothing more liberating than the moment when we realise we are in control of our lives and in doing so we are loving the life we're leading instead of looking for a life we can love.

Faunawolf Creations Gallery Show: 5 - 9pm 19th of August and 11am - 9 pm 20th of August at the Apricot Gallery in the Rag Factory on Heneage Street just off of Brick Lane, 5 minutes from Aldgate East Tube.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Memory Lane - Kait's Mixtape

My newest art acquisition - 'Katy Bird' Chickadee

Today I caught the overground from Vauxhall to Wimbledon so I'd not have to go underground on my way home. The sun was gloriously, richly hot as it's not been for about two weeks. It was simply too nice to be in the network of tunnels running beneath London.

I stood on the train platform, enjoying the sun on my face and the music in my ears. I was completely and entirely in that moment. There was the pulse of an approaching train in my feet, the warmth of the sun against my skin, the familiarity of the lyrics which I'd not heard in so very long.

I have always admired Tegan & Sara. Born in my home town, they are a true testimony to doing what you love. They went from being a locally known duo playing in a local coffee shop in Kensington (The Calgary Kensington, not nearly so posh at the London one, but still very nice) to having their music featured on the L-Word soundtrack.

Their second album is called, interestingly enough, 'This business of art' and today I found myself listening to 'More for Me'. This is a brilliant song. I've always thought so, but today it was just what I needed to hear.

Had a bad day, as bad as they come.
Time to get a real job - you gotta stop having fun.
So I got a real job working nine to nine.
Making five bucks an hour til the day I die.

We are conditioned to believe that we must work and that work must be done out of obligation and that if it's work then it shouldn't or can't be fun.

If I could have one wish I sure wish I had never grown up
got a picture of the way I looked when I was three
I came out laughing, screaming, dancing.
I came out laughing, screaming, dancing.

When we are young it is so easy for us to celebrate the beautiful things in life. To see even the seemingly minor things, like a beautiful sunny day, as something to be celebrated.

I used to be free spirited
Now I'm just free of sleep
I've got a burning passion in my throat
I've got a burning passion inside of me.
I've got a job that wastes my time and gift
I've got a life that needs a serious lift.

It's easy to become complacent. To stop seeing the pure joy at the simple fact that you're alive and the world exists. But we can get into a place where we feel like we're bursting to get out, fidgeting with an energy that just won't go away, and this is where we can tap into our potential. This is where we can give that push.

I'll always have more for me.
I take a little more for me.
I take a little more for me.
I take a little more for me.
More for me.

Remember to always take care of you. That you can be selfish without losing compassion. That when you take care of you and do what you need for you, you will be able to benefit others more.

Remember why you're amazing and why you deserve a job you love and that you should love the life you lead and lead it as if you own it... because you do own it. It's yours.

"Tell me what you plan to do with your own wild and precious life."
-Mary Oliver






Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The writer and the artist

When working on my tarot card paintings I would often find myself most frustrated by a lack of time. I'd be completely willing to paint but I had to calculate the time I had available with how much I could get done once set up and take down was calculated. If it would take me fifteen minutes to get my paints sorted, pull out my easel, select brushes and get bowls of water and another ten or fifteen minutes to clean my brushes, pallet and bowls afterwards and I only had an hour available before I had to be somewhere or do something else, it just didn't seem worth my while.

I agonised over this on a weekly basis, resenting time spent at work or time spent away on weekends when I felt I should have or could have been painting. Eventually I began to take a more sensible approach and I made the time, planning on it at regular intervals. This worked wonders and of course, having a blog which needed twelve monthly updates was also a great motivator. Whenever I was lost for an update idea I could use my latest Tarot Card as the subject and write about a new technique I'd discovered or the latest bit of symbolism I was working into a piece.

Now that the cards are done I can easily say that my methods of time management were extremely successful. Once I stopped thinking about how long it would take and began planning on making time available whenever possible the chances for painting became more and more frequent and in short order the 22 cards were completed.

With such an incredible accomplishment done I felt I deserved a break before jumping into the next big thing. The 22 cards marked more than my choice to begin living as an artist - they were key in a lot of personal growth and self discovery which has resulted in a huge amount of positive change in my life. I want to mark this with my art gallery showing, which will be held on the 19th and 20th of August.

But in the mean time I've begun to feel a bit aimless - lost without something to fill those spare pockets of time. I've begun to look at my writing more and edit a lot of the stuff I wrote when I was younger. This involves a different sort of prep than the painting did. I can write or edit anytime, anywhere, whenever the mood strikes me, as long as I've got my computer or journal to hand. I almost never leave the house without one or the other and as ideas strike me I'm finding myself getting back into a flow I've not felt since I was in my late teens.

It's interesting though when I try to marry these two parts of myself - The Artist: the sculptor, painter and creator, and The Writer: the storyteller, the philosopher, and the inventor. This conflict in all the thing I want to do, either because I want too much at once or because one single project requires more focus and time than I feel is available to me, is leading me to take serious stock of my life and how I live it. I've written about this before very recently as I've just begun to embark on a really important career shift.

As I begin to learn about Life Coaching and defining how I want to do this and be this, I'm looking at all the tools available to me which have been essential in promoting my creative work. My creative work will never cease as that would be like asking me to stop breathing, but I wonder about how I'm going to use the tools I've got already with the new career I'm creating. Do I keep this blog as it is and just close it - a record of my Tarot series and other art projects I did for over two years? Or do I keep it going but update it with less frequency? Or, and this is the option to which I am leaning, do I keep this blog and begin to shift it along so it becomes a practical tool for my Life Coaching?

One thing I know for sure, making time is entirely up to me. Whatever I decide for this blog, my art website, my editing and my writing, time is a limited resource which needs to be considered with great thought. In September I'm beginning a course and already I've begun a marketing program which aims to give me a lot of tools for launching my Life Coach services.

These are important first steps which require a lot of focus and attention - a lot of time.

To that end I've come to a decision. Right now twelve entries a month is just not feasible if I've got homework (Yeesh) and classes. So this will be the last month in which twelve entries will feature on my blog... for now. I want to thank everyone who has followed and read it twelve times every month. I especially want to thank everyone who has shared comments and kind words about my writing. It's this sort of genuine appreciation which fuels me and I certainly hope you'll continue to follow it as it evolves.

I'm absolutely giddy to see what happens.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shoes!



These are some promotional sneakers I've done up for the Crazy Sexy Cool show featuring their logo and a bit of my own design work. A nice way to pass an hour out in the sunny garden.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One month!!!

Today is July 19th, which means my gallery show is in exactly one month! And guess what? You're invited!

It's where the green arrow on this map is pointing, on Heneage Street, just off of Brick Lane and only a short walk from Aldgate East Underground station.
It's located in the Rag Factory at there Apricot Gallery, which looks very barren in the photo below but won't be on the 19th and 20th of August.
It won't be barren because it will have lovely Tarot Card Paintings on the walls, like this one.
And this one.
And as if the convenient location and fantastic art wasn't enough, there will also be free wine courtesy of these guys.
Plus everyone who comes will automatically be entered into a draw and given the chance to win a pair of custom painted Faunawolf Creations sneakers, like the ones you can see here.


So if you like good company, fantastic art, delicious wine and a chance to win unique custom kicks, you should really come by from
5PM - 9PM on Friday, August 19th and from 11AM - 8PM on Saturday, August 20th.