Monday, July 29, 2013

Facebook Timelines!

I've been really busy with a multitude of clients recently. It's fun because there's a diversity to the work I'm doing. A few logos here, some print layouts there and a bit of Social Media marketing design!

Because Facebook and Twitter tend to update their interface pretty regularly, it's not always easy staying on top of it and ensuring that the look and feel of your page fits the new options available. I'm happy to say, though, Facebook seems to have ironed out the kinks of the Timeline since it was introduced last year.

I love integrated timeline images and there are still a few hic-ups in that the way my timeline looks on a phone is very different from how it looks on my computer - but for the moment I'm really pleased with my own Faunawolf Creations page.

I also have a very happy client who now has a selection of Timeline and integrated profile pictures to choose from for their own page and working with them on it was super fun for me.

If you fancy a customised Facebook Timeline toodle on over to my website to get in touch.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Good mental health

'Diaries of a Broken Mind'
Screen capture from BBC3
BBC has been running a series of different mini-documentaries on mental illness. I decided to watch a few of them through iPlayer because I'm always fascinated by the way the media portrays mental illness and because it's also been on my mind quite a lot since the release of Wise at any Age - which was inspired by my own experience with an anxiety disorder and depression.

The last show I watched was called Diaries of a Broken Mind and it followed several people under the age of 30 as they described their lives with everything from anorexia to agoraphobia.

Almost all of them said they 'hated it' or that they just wished they could be 'normal' and towards the end of the documentary they were asked this question:
Would you get rid of your condition if you could? 

This statement says so much about how far too many people view mental illness, including those who  currently have one.

This statement presupposes that all mental illness is somehow incurable.

As it was, I began writing what would become Wise at any Age the day I was told I no longer had a disorder, which is why this question irks me so. I no longer suffer from Panic Disorder and haven't experienced a bout of depression in over five years - just like I don't have shingles anymore or a cold or the flu or any other number of illnesses I've experienced.

Mental illness, just like any illness, isn't necessarily a chronic condition. Like any illness, it requires a great level of care and balance to recuperate from it and like any other illness, it can come up again.

Because of my anxiety I learned how important it is to love yourself first and best. Because of my anxiety I learned to listen to my gut and trust my own sense of reason. Because of my anxiety I have learned how important it is to pay attention. Because of my anxiety I have learned that I am resilient, capable, and entirely able to recover, grow, and change.

I know a lot of people will question how someone aged 28 came to write a book about wisdom. The entire point I'm making is that we can and will gain wisdom at any point in our lives, if we're paying attention to the lessons and looking at the world with curiosity. In the BBC Mini-Series Don't Call Me Crazy a thirteen year old makes the very wise observation:

"OCD doesn’t define who I am. I like music, I like playing the guitar, I like bands, I like the colour yellow, I like chocolate… I don’t like them because I have OCD. I like them because I am Emma"

So here's a question I'm throwing out there - taking into account that even those with something chronic can create coping mechanisms and a support network that will help them recover from a hopeless place: 
What have you learned from your experience with mental illness? 

Monday, July 22, 2013

My mum, the book agent

I have an amazing family. I really, really do. Wise at any Age includes many mentions of them and how they have influenced my own wisdom growth spurts. My mum gets quite a few special mentions throughout and perhaps that is why she sent out an email to all her co-workers inviting them to place order for the book through her to help reduce shipping costs (She ended up with 30 orders!) or perhaps it's because she's an incredibly good mother and that's just what good mothers do.

Either way, I admit it brought tears to my eyes when she told me all this work she was doing to promote my first published book. She sent me the email so I could see how she did the 'pitch' - seriously, mother's make great agents - and at the bottom she included her own little version of my 'author bio':

To provide a bit about Kait and her published book . . .

The book is a non-fiction and is well written.  Kait comes from a family of fluent readers and in 2011, became the only person within our family and amongst our friends to beat her dad at number of books read in the year.  She did commit to breaking the record so she would be able to say she had at least once in her lifetime out read her dad.  Kait read 67, Julian 65.  {If you are interested in the list, I have her list along with a critique of each one}   In 2012 Julian took back the lead as he read over 70 books; 2013 is looking fine as well with 49 so far and no vacation taken yet which affords him even more time to read.   
My parents often get asked what they did to have their kids turn out like my brother and I have. I know we are by no means perfect but I also know that both of us have talents that have never been squashed and aspirations that have never felt hopeless.

I'm sure there are very specific things I could say that my parents did and I often do provide examples of a cause and effect nature to share how I came to learn a particularly good lesson. But over and above all of that the thing my parents did was love me unconditionally. They loved me regardless of the giant mess my room was or how terrible my marks in math were or how obnoxiously angsty I know I must have been as a teenager. They love me and they believe in me and they always taught me to love and believe in myself too.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Genuine Appreciation

In Wise at any Age there's a section at the back where I've thanked some of the key people who helped me as I wrote, edited, and designed the book. I titled this section 'Genuine Appreciation'. Being genuine is about being completely honest and open and the appreciation I feel for so many is more than a simple sense of gratitude. It's an incredibly profound awareness that I wouldn't be the Creative Polymath I am without the love and support of so many.

As it is, I've got some more Genuine Appreciation to spread around because I've been getting some really brilliant love and support since the release of my book.

I want to thank Jana, the think-tank behind Ladies Who Impress, who wrote this smashing blog entry about me and has also given Wise at any Age a review. She's an incredible ball of energy who seems capable of anything and everything she puts her mind to so praise from someone like her is a bit humbling.

Some uber geek with my book...
I also want to thank Natalie, who stars in the video of my book release and who recently finished reading her own copy. She posted an amazing review, which emphasizes why I wrote the book in the first place. I wrote it to be loved, drawn in, explored, argued with, and thought about. Thus far the feedback I've had has shown me that it's doing all these things. I wrote the book to make people think, to challenge their ideas of how to cultivate wisdom and who is capable of it. That she enjoyed it so much and has made it her own with scribbles in the margins means so much to me.

Thank you again to everyone who continues to make this book more than I imagined. For me it was enough just to have something I'd written in paper form, bound and ready to share with the world. The fact that so many of you are enjoying reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together is like gold dust on top of an already amazing dream come true.

Monday, July 15, 2013


Following the print publication of Wise at any Age I have thrown myself into converting my book into an ePub. Arguably, it works better as a paper copy given the 'hands-on' approach I present.

*As an aside, I am thrilled by all the posts and messages I've been getting from people showing me how they are using Wise at any Age - Love to see it being scribbled in and noted upon.

My mum with her copy of Wise at any Age
One would think she was quite proud, no? 
But I know that there are those of you who prefer an eReader and are unlikely to ever purchase a paper copy of any book ever again. I also know that it's a good way to get the book out there - spread the love, so to speak - given that it broadens the scope of where it can be seen and by whom.

So I plug along with it. But I unfortunately can't give you a release date.

At the moment it's been validated according to all the work I did on it in InDesign and what I've been able to export from that end. But now comes the second bit, which involves editing the actual code of the ePub as an HTML document.

Lost me there? Don't worry, I hardly understand it myself just yet. But I'm working on it, diligently.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

£1 Doodlefications!!!

Ever wonder what you might look like with ears and a tail? Or how about some butterfly wings? Or perhaps you want to see what your cat would look like if it had horns and spines?

For just £1 you can! I'll Doodlefy your photos! And it's SUPER easy to sort out. 

First, go to my website

1. Select 'Buy Now' and pay your pound. 

2.  Forward your receipt to Faunawolf 'at' gmail 'dot' com with the photo you want Doodlefied (made-up words are fun!) attached. 

3. Await a Doodlefied photo in your inbox within just three days!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Master list of everything ever.

Every so often I become disheartened. I'm my own toughest critic but it's something I've been working on. I'm getting better, all the time, at appreciating and celebrating my accomplishments - but every so often I'll feel a bit like I'm just not getting anywhere. I know to some people this probably sounds nuts but to anyone who is a polymath, you know what I'm talking about. 

It's the feeling of doing a lot of little things and not getting any big things done. Or feeling bogged down by a big thing and not being able to celebrate the little things.

Several years ago I discovered a book called 'Refuse to Choose'. It changed my life - seriously - because it said it was okay for me to be a polymath and that I shouldn't (even if I was capable of it) choose to do only one thing with my life. But if I was going to embrace my polymath self, I sure as heck had to come up with some tools so I wouldn't:
A) burn out
B) get overwhelmed
C) feel like a failure for not doing absolutely everything I want RIGHT NOW. 

One of the best tools I got from this book was my Big Binder of Everything Ever AKA an important binder for all my ideas, aspirations, inspirations, plots, plans, dreams and goals. 

One of the first things you're supposed to do with it is write down everything you want to do in your life. Like, EVERYTHING. And be specific.

Not "I want to travel" but I want to travel to Florence, Barcelona, Ireland, Antarctica, Madagascar, Peru, all three Canadian territories, Newfoundland, New York, somewhere in Greece, Berlin, Gothenburg, Neuschwanstein castle, Brussels, Prague, Korea, Phuket (again), and Halifax (again).

After writing down everything you ever want to do in your life (being specific) it's possible to see that even though it is a lot, it's not absolutely everything you could do with your life and, if you are lucky enough to grow old, you'll have plenty of time to do it all. 

On the flip side you are also asked to make a list of everything you have accomplished so far. This is a good reminder that you have lived a colourful, rich, interesting life. And it's a really good list to have when you start to feel disheartened.

So recently, when I was feeling a bit down and a bit glum and a bit oh-my-gawd-my-ePub-is-taking-ages-and-I'm-not-getting-anywhere-with-it, I took a breath, and sat down with my binder of Everything Ever to update my Everything I've Accomplished in My Life So Far list with 2013 - to see how I'm doing.

So far this year I:
Quit a toxic job, 
set up as a freelance graphic designer (Rebuilt my old website), 
got a contract as an in-house designer, 
began studying psychology at the Open University, 
studied at Central Saint Martins, 
did an advanced Illustrator training course,
finished (and passed!) my British Sign Language Course, 
completed 16 course on,
read 20 books, 
saw Jann Arden perform live, 
saw Hellen Mirren perform on stage,
saw Judy Dench perform on stage, 
did a surprise visit to Calgary, 
spent 15 days in Japan, 
abseiled at the Royal Courts of Justice, 
AND became a published author...
so far

Because I'm a polymath I can see a lot of the stuff I haven't done and let it feel a bit more important than what I have done. But I would be a total whingebag deserving a good slap if I said boo about the stuff I've not been able to get around to so far this year, because no wonder

This is a brilliant list to have (especially that last item on there) as a reminder that dreams do become goals do become accomplishments and that I should really not be feeling like I've not got enough done. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Everything all at once

Life, eh?! 

The past four weeks have been particularly full-on for me, for a long list of reasons I won't get into here. For anyone who reads my blog regularly you'll probably have a pretty good idea of what I'm talking about. Those who know me personally will know the extra bits outside my book launch and the flooding in Calgary and my efforts to do some fundraising through the sale of my paintings. 
100% of the proceeds from the sale of
any of my paintings, print or original,
will be donated to the flood relief efforts
in Calgary, Alberta.

Anyhoo, the short of it is, this is the nature of life.

I used to be the sort who would say, "When things settle down..." - but I have to admit, realising that life never 'settles' has been a liberating thing. I no longer look at difficult situations as 'bad' situations. I accept that I grow best when I'm challenged and that even the most challenging of situations won't kill me. Especially when I've got loads of support.

This is why I wrote Wise at any Age and why I stand by my belief that I'd rather learn from my experiences than wonder what my life would be like if I'd been brave (foolhardy?) enough to take the plunge and try something new or different.

As it is, everyday when I wake up I ask myself the wise words of Pema Chodron: "If death is certain and the time until death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?"

Watching the recovery and clean-up in Calgary isn't just testimony to the resilience of the people who live there. It's testimony to the resilience of humankind and that, when we are really faced with what truly matters versus trivial 'first world problems', most of us are pretty well equipped to know the answer to this question. Those who aren't are confused and a reminder that no one does anything because they want to feel worse.

We're all scrambling for ground in a world that is constantly throwing curveballs or blindsiding us.

For me, the most important things are not tangible. They are almost ineffable, in fact.

They are community - friendships, human connection, the knowledge that we are sharing this planet and every action has an equal and opposite reaction and what we put out in the world is what we will get back.

They are good mental health - the ability to know what is necessary for my happiness, for my personal well-being, regardless of the situations I find myself in.

They are the ability to grow - to know what I am capable of changing, accept what I will never have control over, and the strength to let go.

I want to thank everyone who has been sharing the link to my paintings and doing all they can to help. Calgary is a beautiful city and no matter where I may find myself in the world, it will always be my home. It means so much to me that people have been supportive of each other and I'm immensely proud to see how people have banded together. I feel less helpless knowing I have something to offer, even if it's not very much (although if I were to sell all my originals it would actually be quite a lot), because at least it's something at all. Every little bit helps!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Calgary floods

Today is Canada day and I will be celebrating it in Trafalgar Square - but my heart will be in Calgary with my friends and family and fellow Calgarians, who are recovering from the worst flood the city has seen since the 30s.

Last Friday, on the day of my book launch, I woke up find Facebook full of messages about people being evacuated from all the neighbourhoods surrounding the river. On Saturday I saw video footage of the very dark, very flooded downtown core.

I am not just a Calgarian but an Inglewoodian. I was born and raised in a house that is now 101 years old and stands just one block from the Bow River. It's age was the thing that saved it - the basement being built when concrete was cheap and the walls could be made thick. Other neighbours haven't been so lucky. Our dear neighbourhood watch, who has been a fixture of the community for longer than I've been alive, has lost his home entirely as it sinks into the sodden ground.

By Sunday the photos being posted online had gained iconic status. The flooded Stampede Grounds. The warped LRT tracks (Roller coaster to work, anyone?). The Saddle Dome full up to the eighth row and Harvey the Hound's head, covered in mud.

And then there was where the sidewalk ends...

The Calgary bike path 

As a kid growing up in Inglewood, the bike path and the river were our playground. When I was over in April I rode my bike along this path, as I'd done hundreds, if not thousands of times before. It was the last time, because now it's gone. Taken away by the sheer power of flood water.

This was where we played Kick-the-Can. This was where we would watch beavers and porcupines at dusk. Last summer my dad photographed a young bald eagle in one of the trees that's now gone - swept away in an unstoppable tide.

 Inglewood is intersected by both the Bow and the Elbow, and it's green surroundings and proximity to the Wildlands, bird sanctuary and fish hatchery make it hard to believe that it's an 'inner-city' neighbourhood located only ten minutes from downtown.

When I was there in April I attended a collaborative art project being supported by the city. The idea was to celebrate the river by celebrating the neighbourhoods that run along it. I was so inspired because Inglewood truly is my favourite place on the planet - of all the places I've travelled thus far. I decided I wanted to tell my stories through some sort of web comic or graphic novel. To share how growing up in Inglewood has influenced so much of who I am and how I live my life.

This project now means more to me than ever before but it's going to be a long time in the works. As it is, I want to do something NOW. In a different time and place I would have the airfare to fly home and jump right in to the clean up effort.

Barring this I have decided to offer the only other thing I have - my artwork. I will donate the total sale of any of my prints or originals to flood recovery efforts. Together we will rebuild our beautiful city.

Happy Canada Day and all my love to everyone in Calgary.
 I'm so proud to call it my home, no matter where I might be in the world.