Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Making things happen

When I was in elementary we had this art assignment to draw a timeline of our lives. It was rather uninspired but I went for it as I was eager to get good grades and it seemed simple enough. I can't recall everything I drew but I know that I got a bit lazy and I ended the drawing with a picture of me holding a load of cash in one hand and a winning lottery ticket in the other.

I got a pretty decent mark on it and brought it home to show my parents. My mum was unimpressed, "What is that all about?"

"I'm going to win the lottery and then I'll be rich and I can afford to do whatever I want."

She was livid. She told me she was utterly disappointed in my lack of imagination and the fact that I would be so shallow and unmotivated to rely on chance for possible future wealth.

I didn't take it well. I was miffed that she'd shot down my clever drawing and in the tradition of many mothers and daughters the world over, I was right and she was wrong.

But as I grew older I came to understand what she'd said and what my 'prediction' had meant. I began to see the sense in her anger and why she'd been so upset.

It's super easy to think that life is something that happens to us. Some people believe it's a series of unpredicted events. Others see it as entirely pre-determined and impossible to alter. But the cliche 'Life is what you make it' actually holds quite a lot of wisdom. To me when I was ten, saying I was going to win the lottery was a sort of whimsical wish for a future full of fortune. To my mum it was me saying that I didn't possibly think I could generate my own wealth, that I expected chance was the only way I'd happen across it.

The odds of winning the lottery are slimmer than the odds of being mauled by a hippo - or something like that. I'm just making stuff up for the sake of a good example.

The point is, relying on chance for you to get your dream job, take your dream holiday or earn your dream income is all about dreaming. It's a fantasy and whilst I'm a huge advocate of positive energy, wishing for something to happen isn't going to make it so.

If you want to achieve something it's up to you to go for it. Trust me, the odds of you achieving something you've worked for are far better than the odds of that winning lottery ticket being in your hand.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Me First Creativity Coaching

I'm totally excited to announce the new look to my Coaching website. I'd like to thank everyone who has taken the time to answer my Facebook surveys and Twitter questions, who's edited and reviewed stuff for me and given any feedback at all to help get it out there.

Now that the site is up with it's new look I'd love to hear what you think so please post your comments below after taking a perusal.

If you're a Creative Specialist like me and you want to have your own fabulous website, this is just the sort of thing I can help you with as your coach! A free tip for all those Creative Specialists out there, share your talent whenever you can. Creativity is something to celebrate!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

When you know you're wrong...

"The Magician" represents awareness of your own abilities without pride or shame

I often find myself saying, “It’s not an excuse but it’s a reason.” There is a very important difference between these two things and understanding what that statement means. 
When I was pulled over for speeding I told the officer that I was late for a wedding, but fully expected to get a ticket as I’d broken the law. 
  “It’s a reason for me to speed but not an excuse for doing so,” I said sheepishly, handing him my license and insurance. 
He smiled, taking my information and returning to his car to process it. 
There were several other cars that had also been pulled over. In one was a couple. They were arguing. Or rather, the woman was obviously agitated and had a lot to say and the man was looking out the window with a scowl on his face. The woman in the other third car had a look of indignation on her face, as though the police were treating her unfairly. 
It was a beautiful day. The sky was clear blue with the occasional perfect puffy white cloud. The sun was warm and accompanied by a pleasant cool breeze so it didn't get too hot. The grass was green and bright. 
I sat in my car and reflected on how beautiful the day was and how O.K. I felt about what was only going to be an extra expense. I knew better than to argue with the officer. 
When I was a kid my mum had annoyingly told me many times over: "If you're wrong you shouldn't argue because you know you're wrong. If you're right you won't have to argue because you know you're right." 
It drove me up the wall because I was an argumentative and stubborn child. But now I get it. I could have argued with the police officer. I could have stated that getting to a wedding was really important and getting there on time was more important than obeying the laws of the road. I could have argued that he should be out 'catching rapists and murderers - real criminals!' rather than 'innocent' speeding drivers. But that would have been wrong. 
I'd broken the law, plain as that. By cooperating and accepting responsibility, I drove away before the other two vehicles that had been pulled over before me and I wasn't late after all. 
It's not easy to admit when you're wrong. Believe me, as a child I really hated it. When I'd hurt someones feelings I hated to apologise because that was admitting I'd hurt someone. In my head I was too nice to be hurtful so I equated apologising with saying "I'm a mean person." 
But when we learn to admit our mistakes, to take responsibility rather than to argue, we see that we're not bad people. We just do silly, stupid things sometimes. Everyone does. No one gets it right all the time. 
And when we do have it right, when we know with a shadow of a doubt that what we have said or done was informed and in the best intention, then we don't need to argue. 
I used to love arguing a point. Still do sometimes but I used to actually seek out controversy. It was something that gave me a rush - being able to prove my point. But I began to see that most of the time all the energy I put into angrily trying to make my side be seen was for nothing. We'd both go away indignant, feeling like the other was in the wrong when we were so clearly in the right. 
Don't mistake arguing with debate. Debate is dialogue engaged to stimulate thought. Arguing is very back and forth with an awful lot of attachment from the parties involved. 
I remember when I started to understand that I didn't have to win an argument to know I was right about something. I realised that being right wasn't about changing someone's mind. Being right is about knowing your own mind. 
Someone accused me of lacking a work ethic. I knew so deeply, right down to my toes, that this was a ridiculous statement. I didn't say a single thing to refute it. I didn't have to. The statement was not a reflection on my ability to work hard or not. The statement was a reflection of how little the person who'd said it knew me. 
This ties in with my previous entry about being genuine. When we are genuine - when we aren't pretending to be any better or any worse than we actually are - we can be more honest with ourselves. When we are honest with ourselves then we will trust what we know to be true. So if someone says to me "You can be really bossy sometimes," I can shrug and think, "That certainly is true." And if someone says to me, "You're manipulative," I can shrug and think, "Clearly this person doesn't know me at all." 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Being Genuine

When I was a little kid I found being genuine really easy. This was probably because my parents had always allowed my brother and me to express ourselves as we wished. I felt I knew who I was and that I was pretty awesome so I never felt the need to pretend to be different. 
Junior High shook all that up for me. I was going to a new school in a new neighbourhood. There was a lot of change happening for me and everyone else in the school. Suddenly what made you ‘cool’ mattered an awful lot and apparently, I didn’t have what it took. My hair was wrong, my clothes were wrong, the music I listened to was wrong. 
At twelve it’s pretty difficult to remain entirely indifferent to these pressures. I wanted to be true to myself but I also wanted to protect myself from the scrutiny of my peers. For this reason I did everything I could to pretend to be cool. I wore the clothes I thought were right. I styled my hair in ways I thought would make me fit in. I claimed to like music that I really didn’t. 
But it wasn’t just with the ‘In-Crowd’ that I did these things. I had a few friends, fellow outcasts in the social circles of Junior High. My friendship with them felt precious and I would do everything I could not to jeopardize it. I adopted a similar attitude - one of telling the world to f*ck off. I roughed up my edges, showing anger where I actually just felt really afraid and uncertain. 
Our teen years are pretty intense. Our bodies are changing rapidly. We’re growing, being flooded with hormones and also starting to determine who we are as people. 
For me the struggle was no different than for millions of others. I felt like I had a collection of masks to wear. Around my parents I needed to be Happy-Everything-Is-Fine-and-I’m-Good-At-School Kaitlyn. Around my childhood friends I was Nothing-Has-Changed-and-I-Never-Have-to-Grow-up Kaitlyn. Around my school friends I was I-Don’t-Give-A-F*ck-and-Am-Super-Hardcore Kaitlyn. Around my teachers I was I-Try-Really-Hard-and-am-Studious Kaitlyn. Around my peers who bullied me I was Please-Just-Ignore-Me-I’m-Not-Really-Here Kaitlyn. 
It was exhausting trying to be so many different people! And I was doing it so all the different people in my life would see me as I thought they expected to see me. 
It wasn’t until I was fourteen that I began to consider the idea that maybe I shouldn’t be acting how I thought other people wanted me to, but acting as I knew I was. It wasn’t until High School that I understood that being truly genuine included being true to the bits of myself that I don’t always like. And a few years ago I learned that being true myself also meant not pretending that the bits of myself I don’t like are any worse than they actually are. 
Being genuine isn’t easy and I don’t always get it right, but I like to think I’m getting better at it everyday. As a result the people in my life now are more genuine, compassionate people. And when I come across the ones who aren’t I can practice compassion for them because I remember being in Junior High and I remember what it was like trying to please all of the people all of the time by pretending to be someone I’m not. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I was commissioned to do a pair of custom shoes for a Valentines/Birthday gift. Here is the result! They're called 'Tropical'.  I'm quite pleased. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Never Too Late

I sat in my car on the way to work. I was on one of the busiest commuter roads in the city and traffic had been inching along for the past ten minutes. I could see I was going to be late. As a perpetually punctual person (Like, ten to fifteen minutes early without fail) this was the sort of thing that I would normally be really bothered by. I'd already called my manager and let them know about the traffic, but usually even my high level of responsibility didn't stop me from fretting that my punctual reputation might be on the line.

So why wasn't it bothering me on this particular day? Because on this particular day my life was a hot mess. For those of you unfamiliar the term 'Hot Mess' generally means everything that could possibly go wrong was, had and did do. Being late wasn't even icing on the cake at this point. Being late was edible glitter on little sugar flowers on butter icing on fondant on the cake - only the cake had been dropped on the floor.

I had planned out my life quite neatly. I knew who I was gonna marry, where I was gonna live, who my friends were, what my job was, what job I was making for myself and where I would be in the next five, ten, fifteen and possibly even twenty years. You know that silly cliche 'Don't count your chicken's until they're hatched'? My chickens were counted, lined up and categorized for years to come and the Universe didn't like it. 

The Universe was all, "You think you've got it all sorted, don't you? Well, reality check - life is change, change is constant, nothing is forever and you're not a fourtune teller."

In short, as I sat there stuck in traffic travelling to a job I was resistant to working, every single aspect of my life as I'd planned it out was falling apart. Six weeks before the wedding I found out my fiance didn't want to marry me and had cheated on me with someone I thought was my friend and consequently all of our mutual friends were showing their 'true colours' and the house that I lived in was no longer a safe place and the job I'd wanted was no longer what I wanted and so a little bad traffic was piddly squat to me.

So I'm sitting there in my car listening to the radio and thinking about what an utter catastrophe my life has become when this fauxpunk boyband comes on. Like a cross between Back Street Boys and NOFX - like when punk is manufactured and prettified.

Not known for having poignant lyrics but none-the-less, it's a catchy song. Only today I hate it. I hate it because the primary lyrics are 'It's never too late' and I'm busy wallowing, like absolutely, completely and utterly, wallowing in my own self pity. I'm dripping with 'poor me' and all I can think is these stupid little fauxpunk boys don't know what it's like to have your heart ripped out of your chest and kicked around my people you thought you could love and trust. What could they possibly know about my suffering?

So I turn it off and I creep along to work and I distract myself by trying not to think about how nothing I thought I knew is real or true anymore. But those stupid lyrics keep coming back because damn, it is one catchy song. Seriously. It's right up there with 'Hey Yeah' or 'Mr. Brightside'. And the more I think about it the more something begins to change in my way of thinking. Because it's catchy and it's simple the lyrics are easy to remember and as a whole, as simple as it is, the song has got a good point.

At the time of this entire experience I was twenty-three. I know there are a lot of people reading this thinking, "Seriously? Only twenty-three and you thought your life was over? Pfft!"

And you're right. It's ridiculous. I know that now. Just like I know a heckuvalot of other stuff that I didn't know before my entire life was pulled out from under me. I now know that life is totally what you make it and it's up to you to decide what you're going to do with the time you have. Which means giving up on life at twenty-three, or thirty-three, or even fifty- or sixty-three is a bit ridiculous. And yet, I hear people say it all the time.

I hear people say, "It's too late for me to do *insert dream, desire, idea* here."

Arguably, I was only twenty-three when I learned the valuable lesson that it's never too late so it's easy to go, "Well, yes, but you were young."

I was young, but the key word is 'never'. It's never too late. Ever. Even if you want to be an Olympic athlete, you can still do it in your fifties if you decide to take up curling, for example. Ultimately, if you decide it's too late, what you've really decided is it's too hard. And trust me, it is really, really hard to accept that living your life is totally down to you. It was so much easier when I could blame my ex or my job or my income for why I couldn't live the life I love. Admitting that making life awesome was always going to be up to me meant growing up - big time.

But I did it. And three years on I'm living in a place I never thought I'd even get to visit and doing a job I never dreamed was possible and creating things I only ever imagined and married to someone I didn't think existed.

So no, it's never too late. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

He said, she said. They said, we said.

It was a cold evening in Wimbledon. There was a crowd of commuters, school children and shoppers waiting for one of six buses. 
The bus pulled up and people shuffled themselves around, moving towards the door if it was their bus and stepping aside if it wasn’t. 
The back door hissed open and commuters, school children and shoppers dismounted. The queue which had formed was blocking the door and as one woman with a pram was trying to get off she bumped a man standing in line, waiting to get on. His response was instantaneous and aggressive. He pushed her back and slagged her off. 
She slagged him off right back. The volume of his voice increased and I was able to hear him quite clearly. He was extremely vocal about the fact that he had a small child in tow and that he pushed the woman because she’d pushed him first. This was punctuated with language I would not deem appropriate to use in public. His small child tugged at his arm and cried out, “Daddy!” 
The crowd surreptitiously watched - interested, appalled, entertained, intrigued, shocked, embarrassed, uncomfortable, afraid - who knows. Any of the above, all of the above. 
The front door of the bus opened and I moved forward with the push of the crowd, the man continuing his verbal assault behind me. 
I made my way to the top deck - the best place to sit on a London bus. 
Behind me a woman spoke to a friend, “They’re still arguing. He said he pushed her because she pushed him. She said he shouldn’t have pushed her because she has a kid. He pointed out that he has one too.” 
The whole thing got me thinking about the wonderful troublemakers we encounter everyday. You know those people that get under your skin or really push your buttons? 
In this case - people with poor parenting skills, really. And a total lack of self respect and respect for others. What IS the world coming to? 
Well, I stop myself right there. First of all, if I let stuff like that get to me then I’m just adding to that intensely negative energy. 
Secondly, I don’t know the circumstances of their days. Maybe they just got an unexpected bill that they can’t afford. Maybe they had their hours cut back at work. Maybe a close friend or relative just told them that they’re terminally ill. Maybe they stubbed their toe, missed a train, lost their wallet and cracked the screen on their phone. Who knows. I don’t. You don’t. 
Not that this excuses their behaviour - but I really challenge you to tell me that any of those things wouldn’t put you on edge a little. 
“But suppose they had a perfectly uneventful day, what then?” you may say. 
Well, I know I’m a product of my experiences and my environment. Living in London has taught me a lot about how Canadian I am and what that means. It’s also taught me a lot about the kind of upbringing I’ve had. I fully recognise that I’m hugely fortunate in that my parents have always encouraged me and told me I was capable of great things. They taught me self respect and they enforced the importance of manners. My culture enforced that too - we Canadians are universally known for being polite and friendly - and I totally get that now. It’s not a stereotype - it’s true. 
To give it an analogy - you can’t get angry at a kitten for being a kitten. Well, you can if you want to but you’ll look silly. You’ll be all, “That kitten knocked my plant over and then clawed the couch and then got muddy footprints all over my bedding!” 
Duh. It’s a kitten. That’s what they DO. 
A lot of what people do is habitual. They can unlearn it, for sure, but only if they’re aware of it. And most people aren’t. Even those of us who think we are aren’t really aware. 
The only difference between me and those two people arguing is that I know that I do stuff without realising it that probably annoys, irritates, irks and bothers other people. 
Then you say, “But shouldn’t they learn that their behaviour was inappropriate?” 
Lets look at the exchange again, shall we? She pushed him so he pushed her and she said he shouldn’t have done but he said he should’ve because she did it first. 
Sounds a bit childish. Sort of - simple reasoning. Have you ever tried to tell a child how to think or act? Parents will know what I’m talking about. As a babysitter I quickly learned the magic of reverse psychology. Trying to change people by telling them what to do, if they didn’t ask and if they’ve already got their back up, isn’t exactly going to work. 
Besides, that’s assuming I know better. No one likes someone saying “You’re doing it wrong and I know these things because I’m smarter/more clever/better at this stuff than you.” 
I know I don’t like it. And I also know it’s something I need to work on. 
Which brings me to having gratitude for troublemakers. When I see stuff like that it reminds me where I still have work to do. It reminds me that I’m not perfect and I don’t have everything sorted out. It reminds me to be mindful in my actions and thoughts and not to make excuses for poor behaviour. 
So I want you to thank your troublemakers. Without them we wouldn’t be challenged. And remember, we’re all really different and that means you’re probably someones troublemaker, yourself. So thank yourself too and remember to be kind about it. Life is about growth and experiences. It would be a pretty boring planet if everyone thought the same and acted the same. Why, then we’d all be Borg! And we know how creepy Borg are. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cheer Up

I'm a big believer in taking time to laugh at life. Laughter is a brilliant medicine and when I'm getting really tired of feeling grumpy or irked or put out I find that looking at the silly and delightful things in life improves my mood immensely.

I'm not talking about ignoring a problem or difficulty. I'm just talking about taking a break from the things which may be causing a lot of stress. Sometimes a good break is all you need to be able to come back and tackle a problem. After a good laugh you'll feel more relaxed. It's a way to clear your head and take a step back - and it's a reminder that you deserve to take breaks!

I suggest making a list of some resources that are definitely going to lighten your mood and remind you not to take life so seriously. Only you will know exactly what will tickle your ribs but I thought I'd share my own personal list for a bit of inspiration. I wholeheartedly stand by these as resources that are guaranteed to make me guffaw.

And they definitely remind me how important it is to relax.

Clients From Hell - Especially good if you're feeling frustrated with people you're working for. If anything, it's a reminder that you're not alone! We all have to deal with stupid people sometimes.

Get Fuzzy - One of my favourite cartoon strips. I've always seen them as Bloom County-esque. Bucky is ridiculous and Satchel is endearing.

George Takei's Facebook Page - I really admire George. He's an activist who uses humour to share his message. I find his posts both entertaining and inspiring.

Hyperbole and a Half - This is an absolute genius blog. She's also a great example of how simple it is to share your talent with the world. If you do what you love people will love you for it.

The Bloggess - Satirical and weird. Totally my kind of humour. Also a brilliant example of how mental illness doesn't have to paralyse you.

I'd love to know what is on your list. Please share below!

www.CreativeLifeCoachLondon.com - I have a new booking page!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lightbox Shenanigans!

Two years ago my dad and I built a lightbox for me to use for animating. I used it a few times but was so focused on my Tarot Series that it mostly just sat there, awaiting a time when I was ready to give my time to making a new animation. I wasn't worried because I knew it would come with me to London and soon enough, I'd be at it again. 

I brought my lightbox to London with me and after just a few weeks I pulled it out to muck about. I plugged it in to a North American power bar plugged into a converter and set to work. 

First there was a smell - a bad and familiar electric-something-burning sort of smell. Then the box popped - or rather, the lightbulbs inside the box popped. They fizzed and went out. 

I checked the chord. I checked the socket. I checked the converter. I wasn't sure what had fizzled out. 

After more checking I determined the problems:

1. The converter did nothing to convert the wattage - which was what had blown the bulb. 
2. The bulbs in the UK wouldn't fit in the sockets I had in the lightbox. 

For the next two years my lightbox sat untouched, unused and relatively lonely - other than when one of my cats would get into my wardrobe and curl up next to it. 

But then! 

The other day I went on a shopping excursion with the intention of getting something which would work as a suitable desk. Remember my blog entry about expectations? If you haven't read it you can go do that now. 

I am a total planner and I tend to get it stuck into my head when I've planned something that it must get done. If it's written in my agenda it's like it's written in stone: "This WILL happen" 

But flexibility is important. When we focus too much on one single thing, one end goal, we tend to not see the other opportunities around us. For this reason I do my best to keep an open mind. I make sure my imagination is going and I pay attention to those thoughts that might be in the back of my head. 

So when I noticed some nice flat LED lights I suddenly thought of my poor, neglected lightbox. 

By the end of the day, with a little help from Delirium Naughty-Pants and my lovely Sprout (My partner and I don't like the word 'Spouse' - mostly because Sprout is clearly more fun.) I had a fully functioning light box! 

Ta Da!!!!

Want to learn how to animate? Been putting it off for a long time? 
Together we can develop a plan of action so you can learn a new skill and start sharing that creative spark!