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 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 has been hosted by Zac and Dan's brilliant 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.