Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Award time

Yesterday I received what I call the Carrie Bailey award for my nifty shake it whimsy blog. I think that's great! I am deeply humbled. Make that bumbled. Carrie has traveled the world and has done wondrous things, including living in Chile teaching English, studying Philosophy at Oregon State and is currently revising a YA book that combines the hysteria of information piracy with trials of post-apocalyptic despair. She writes to her heart content!

So what does she do now?
As a new author, Carrie established Peevish Penman to connect with other writers and learn together. Her first publication will be available later this year! If you share her passion for free information and education, don't hesitate to connect with her. (She's not really Peevish)
So yep: she's a very cool gal, her website Peevish Penman is a great platform and excellent read. 

Getting back to this blog award: why did I get this award?
"I simply couldn't miss an opportunity to link to you and tell everyone I believe you're great"

Well what can I say? I couldn't have done it without everyone who surrounds me thus providing me with steamy inspiration and tales, waffly stories and ideas. Kudos to you who know that I mean you. (silent moment here) You who read these words are the true wonders! (Okay moving on, moving on, flick, flick, flick). Now, the cool part is too that I can list 15 blogs I discovered lately to receive this noble One Blog Award award. I went over this carefully ANDDDDD here they are! (drumroll):
  1. Lucy she rocks the kazba. Am a big fan.
  2. Joi is a force of Oodlie Nature, an absolute gem!
  3. : Kit, a wondrous surprise of candor
  4. Allie, a hilarious mega awesome unicorn
  5. is inspiring and surprising in his insights. Special.
  6. Sharon always cracks me up. She's whizz bang fizz hot.
  7. Tavi is a fashion Icon and she's 13. What can I say?
  8. Italian. Food. Dig in. Now.
  9. The Moggit girls. Writing about the weirdest home decor and furniture. Ever. They do it with such gusto. And concise. 
  10. Annabel is someone I met recently, she's very sweet. She is also going to stock my new tea towel designs which is cool. Love her blog posts and adore their store!
  11. Australian and New Zealand designer blog: not to miss.
  12. My friend Jerod's partner Maite and business partner Daniel from LA boutique store Mortise Tenon's laugh at people who buy furniture from the mall. Their mission is to rid the world of blandness!
  13. Julie-Ann is my twitter home decor buddy. very good before and afters. Excellent forum. Interior decorating advice!
  14. Kristina has this cool ability to turn spotting photos into colour schemes. 
  15. My friend Reatha's Photography blog. beautiful lighting. Very Dunedin New Zealand. Ace.
The One Blog Award is past on from blogger to blogette to bloggee to blogbagette who are credited for their great blog work. The rules of this award are these: 

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
(What is it with a blog award? To understand more read this.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

whimsy man

I was getting increasingly depressed today. Me! I know, it's ridiculous. And why? because I felt I had to act grown uppy like. And let's face it, that is so boring. I mean it can be helpful to get a grip, but to overload myself on punishment because I'm not mrs Fab 24/7 is let's face it: deranged. Let's not ask ourselves to do the impossible by asking too much, but certainly give it a whirl to try something you're not great at yet. (I did in the weekend and I am now officially a good wood chopper. It helps too I have a kick ass ax to wield.)

So I thought; how about connecting to equally whimsy inclined beings and making each other feel better? Yes that could work. For an hour. Maybe two. It does make me feel better when i get a bit... whatever it is.

Then it hit me: putting all my mentally throbbing ideas and pokings and stick it in a folder. I had planned to do this for a while. I already filled up a small folder with my crazy ideas. By depositing the popping ideas my creative craxy brain can deal with the self inflicted overdose, or lack thereof, and I can actually find this stuff again. There is also such a thing available online, which can be helpful: where you can basically dump stuff ma thingies you otherwise forget (with thanks to Joidesign for this tip!)
Also check out: the online toolbox for happiness. Groovy man.

I started writing many things down and am adding it to my tree of 'want-to-finish-it-'-s. The streamlining is very helpful. I think I'm getting there. It is great to see it nicely laid out. And it's workable. And achievable. Yay me.

Aiming for the stars is great. If you're an astronaut. I like it simple. Chop wood, burn the fire, be happy. And chip away at it steadily, and sensibly. And make sure life is fun and good. If there is more boohoo then heeeehaaaa then re examine what you're doing. Trust me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

the workplace

Someone I know has been going through an interesting time at work. If I didn't know any better I'd say it was a sandpit wrestle more commonly carried out by toddlers. Why adults are able to display crazy attitudes in a professional environment and think this behavior is acceptable is beyond me. It is entertaining to a certain degree, but for the people involved it's just a pain in the proverbial. So what are we dealing with here?

Wiki: "Workplace bullying, like childhood bullying, is the tendency of individuals or groups to use persistent aggressive or unreasonable behaviour against a co-worker or subordinate. Workplace bullying can include such tactics as verbalnonverbalpsychologicalphysical abuse and humiliation. This type of aggression is particularly difficult because unlike the typical forms of school bullying, workplace bullies often operate within the established rules and policies of their organization and their society. Bullying in the workplace is in the majority of cases reported as having been perpetrated by management and takes a wide variety of forms:

These fun and games take place over time, and before you know it we are seriously wondering why we are working in this environment at all. What are we doing here again? 

So what can we do when we're niggled at?

1. Deflect the bully if you can. Remain calm, stand firm, and try to keep up a confident appearance. Keep a detailed record of every incident; you will need it as proof if you decide to make a complaint.
2. Check your job description. If you suddenly find yourself being set menial tasks, or are given an increased workload with shorter deadlines, and it isn't in your contract then you can do something about it.
3. Try to get witnesses to bullying incidents, and avoid situations where you are alone with the bully.
4. Get advice from your trade union, or from personnel and health and safety officers at work. Does your employer have a policy on harassment or against unacceptable behaviour?
5. Take a stress management course, and do some assertiveness training. They are good for your general health, and will help you in the future.
6. If you go ahead with a complaint, choose your words carefully. State the facts clearly, but don't get sucked into a slanging match - you could be accused of malicious behaviour.
7. Get emotional support from your family and friends, talk to them about how you are feeling. Ask your GP about counselling. Take sick leave if you need it.
8. If you decide to leave your job because of the bullying, let your company know exactly why you are resigning. It may help others in the future.
9. If you wish to pursue a legal claim against your employer, start by taking advice from your union. If you have a good case, they will take it up on your behalf.
10. Many forms of legal action that may be possible, including: industrial tribunals, civil claims for personal injury, and sometimes even criminal action.
(source tips: TheSite)
Sticking to the facts seem to be the go. I would also suggest to look at our own "contributions". There are always 2 sides to the story and it would not be credible if we didn't ponder what we might have added to the mix. Yes some people are just pricks, still, let's not rule out our own intriguing dispositions. That way, if we sit in that air-conditioned room with a member of the Union present, glaring over a stand-in-coffee, we know where we stand and where we're at. 
"The best defense is a good offence?" Just do your homework amigo.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

time management

Do you get all the things done you need to? It seems a continuing saga for me. I do get it all organised, some things planned and some things on the fly. Prioritizing is an ever lasting event, and some things are put on the back burner; driveway, new wood burner installation. But things are surely changing. It's habit changing and simple gritty determination.

Task-lists generally give me the jitters but the fact is if I don't remind myself to simply churn through them I have a huge pile when I don't need it. So they help save my tush that's what. Basically I try to keep track of the following both in my brain and my diary (my diary is most accurate):
  1. What I promised to do for someone else: husband, friends, work, professional relations and also includes myself (socially based)
  2. The simple weekly to do's: groceries, bill paying, car stuff, house stuff. This includes haircuts and other fluffing (maintenance)
  3. The long haul plans: business, farm, personal goals (long term)
  4. Legal and banking paperwork (in case any slipped past in 1,2,3)
Everyone has different ways to get here. My husband is incredibly apt in keeping track of the mundane and boring things. He has Sheldon Cooper tendencies regarding "logic". Unsurprisingly my brain seems to lose details of these items as I consider them boring (yes yes I know they are important). I guess that would make me quite like Penny. Still: a Penny on a mission because all those loose ends drive me nutty.

Getting back to some time management tips: (inspired by Steve Pavlina )
  • focus + list: what do you need to get done right now? ask yourself
  • flexibility: know your goals and be willing to make adjustments while en route
  • quick turn around: finish tasks as soon as you can as it keeps your mind clear and allows more time to do other things; don't procrastinate
  • decide: best to fire and steam ahead: too much time to think can kill progress
  • get rid of time wasters. Use the trash can liberally. Stop watching tv.
  • be effective: "also known as the Pareto Principle, the 80-20 rule states that 20% of a task's effort accounts for 80% of the value of that task."
  • don't disturb sign: make sure you're not interrupted when doing a job 
  • self discipline:  don't get sidetracked.
  • multitasking: if you can do something else while having to do a maintenance or activity that you simply have to do; see if you can combine the two.
  • enjoy: go after what really inspires you. Don't chase money. Chase your passion. If you aren't enthusiastic about your work, then you're wasting your life. 
  • eat and exercise well
And another thing: use your diary and cellphone with reminders. Every time I stop using my diary and think I can remember things on the go: I can't. I finally came to the conclusion that an organized and focused approach actually saves me wasting time and therefore have more "me-time" later, something that is a luxury item to me. 
I am interested to know what your experiences are.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

the calling of the goat

I've had questions in the past: "Are you really a goat herderess?"

Yes of course I am a goat herderess! And to show you what fuzzy bounty I am in charge of: viola the evidence my friends. See it and weep with delight. They exist. they are awesome. (Oh and they don't faint, these are mostly Saanen like, they're not the falling down kind. I mean come on!)

They LOVE silver-beet, it's goatie gold, green gold..... yummersssss

Did I mention they are accompanied by Bella, a highland calf who thinks she is a goat... and her brother Kuddles who knows for certain that he is not. But he thinks the white mob is friggin funny.

This outrageous fashionable wonder above is called Teresa (coincidently also the name of our fabulous Canadian cousin). She is half Angoran and proud of it. Fuzz rules amigos.

The plan is to start milking the girls next year and yours truly is still on the look out for a milking machine and storing tanks. It will happen! So there you are: they're real and they kick ass. Not literally though, they rather eat hay and snooze. Or play. And eat silver-beet.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

frolicky frock

My mac at home is so ancient, you could turn the monitor into a fishbowl and turn the computer itself into a side table, considering I doubt very much it will spring to life again. I'm not keen to make an attempt any time soon. Problem is that most of my Dutch design work, brochures, logos are on the croaking thing. Hm... #dilemma

I started thinking about why it would be handy to have an online portfolio. Anyhoo: my focus is textile design, so I came across something on Twitter today that could be fun. (You know really: it's a good real time search tool, you should consider using it, it's not just the earth's water cooler spot for catching up with other global villagers.)

If you have creative endeavors, go check this competition out: "Create a vintage inspired surface pattern for Clothkits to print, and see your creation come to life on the catwalk!" Link hereIt sounds very Etsy. In a good way. "Want inspiration?   We do not need to see the end shape of the garment, just the fabric design, but why not think 50s pinched waist dresses, 60s mod shifts or 70s flowing frocks.  We will then take the design, print it, and make it up into a summer dress. "

So get ready set go, start frocking readers and readerettes. If you're ever so inclined of course. Otherwise feel free to do a Google on something else. My point is that it can be fun to try something a bit different today. Don't sell yourself short. I'm not interested to hear the but... but... if we do that we never do anything frolicky or frocky. I reckon the world can do with some more frothy frolicky frock. Uhuh.

image by Clothkids

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Zealand flavor

I'm working on new textile designs for Hemptech and myself, at the moment I'm trying out different combinations with red deer, wine and gumtrees (there are surprisingly many red deer farms here, I guess the taste of Venison goes beautifully with all the local wines...). The design below of the Suffolk sheep I finished recently. It makes sense somehow, the softness and squishy-ness of both sheep and muffins. (I'm not advocating you should eat them both mind you, and certainly not together - I tend to eat more banana cupcakes than roasted lamb personally.)

I get new ideas all the time, and I try to stay with the New Zealand green theme as much as I can. I really enjoy it, and it's hard for me to not draw groovy beasties. What can I say, I'm a softie and everywhere you go in New Zealand, trust me you will,  most definitely, come across sheep. They have fun too those woolly critters, as you can see. Giddy up Fred!

Monday, June 14, 2010

a cup of tea

I came across the following article today that I wanted to share with you. 
"SYDNEY – In those bleak moments when the lost souls stood atop the cliff, wondering whether to jump, the sound of the wind and the waves was broken by a soft voice. "Why don't you come and have a cup of tea?" the stranger would ask. And when they turned to him, his smile was often their salvation.
For almost 50 years, Don Ritchie has lived across the street from Australia's most notorious suicide spot, a rocky cliff at the entrance to Sydney Harbour called The Gap. And in that time, the man widely regarded as a guardian angel has shepherded countless people away from the edge. What some consider grim, Ritchie considers a gift. How wonderful, the former life insurance salesman says, to save so many. How wonderful to sell them life.
"You can't just sit there and watch them," says Ritchie, now 84, perched on his beloved green leather chair, from which he keeps a watchful eye on the cliff outside. "You gotta try and save them. It's pretty simple."
Since the 1800s, Australians have flocked to The Gap to end their lives, with little more than a 3-foot (1 meter) fence separating them from the edge. Local officials say about one person a week commits suicide there, and in January, the Woollahra Council applied for 2.1 million Australian dollars ($1.7 million) in federal funding to build a higher fence and overhaul security. In the meantime, Ritchie keeps up his voluntary watch. The council recently named Ritchie and Moya, his wife of 58 years, 2010's Citizens of the Year. He's saved 160 people, according to the official tally, but that's only an estimate. Ritchie doesn't keep count. He just knows he's watched far more walk away from the edge than go over it. (..)
Something about Ritchie exudes a feeling of calm. His voice has a soothing raspiness to it, and his pale blueeyes are gentle. (..) Some he speaks with are fighting medical problems, others suffering mental illness. Sometimes, the ones who jump leave behind reminders of themselves on the edge — notes, wallets, shoes. Ritchie once rushed over to help a man on crutches. By the time he arrived, the crutches were all that remained.
But he remains available to lend an ear, though he never tries to counsel, advise or pry. He just gives them a warm smile, asks if they'd like to talk and invites them back to his house for tea. Sometimes, they join him.
"I'm offering them an alternative, really," Ritchie says. "I always act in a friendly manner. I smile." (..)
By offering compassion, Ritchie helps those who are suicidal think beyond the terrible current moment, says psychiatrist Gordon Parker, executive director of the Black Dog Institute, a mood disorder research center that has supported the council's efforts to improve safety at The Gap.
"They often don't want to die, it's more that they want the pain to go away," Parker says. "So anyone that offers kindness or hope has the capacity to help a number of people." (..)
In 2006, the government recognized Ritchie's efforts with a Medal of the Order of Australia, among the nation's highest civilian honors. It hangs on his living room wall above a painting of a sunshine someone left in his mailbox. On it is a message calling Ritchie "an angel that walks amongst us."
He smiles bashfully. "It makes you — oh, I don't know," he says, looking away. "I feel happy about it."
But he speaks readily and fondly of one woman he saved, who came back to thank him. He spotted her sitting alone one day, her purse already beyond the fence. He invited her to his house to meet Moya and have tea. The couple listened to her problems and shared breakfast with her. Eventually, her mood improved and she drove home.
A couple of months later, she returned with a bottle of champagne. And about once a year, she visits or writes, assuring them she is happy and well. (..)
Despite all he has seen, he says he is not haunted by the ones who were lost. He cannot remember the first suicide he witnessed, and none have plagued his nightmares. He says he does his best with each person, and if he loses one, he accepts that there was nothing more he could have done. Nor have he and Moya ever felt burdened by the location of their home.
"I think, 'Isn't it wonderful that we live here and we can help people?'" Moya says, her husband nodding in agreement.
Their life has been a good one, they say. They raised three beautiful daughters and now have three grandchildren to adore. They have traveled the world, and their home is decorated with statues and masks from their journeys. Ritchie proudly points out a dried, shellacked piranha — a souvenir from their vacation to the Amazon, where he insisted on swimming with the creatures (to Moya's dismay).
Until about a year ago, the former Navy seaman enjoyed a busy social life, regularly lunching with friends. But battles with cancer and his advancing years have taken their toll, and now he spends most days at home with Moya, buried in a good book. His current read: the Dalai Lama's "The Art of Happiness."
Every now and then, he looks up from his books to scan the horizon for anyone who might need him. He'll keep doing so, he says, for as long as he's here.
And when he's not?
He chuckles softly.
"I imagine somebody else will come along and do what I've been doing."
He gazes through the glass door to the cliff outside. And his face is lit with a smile.
Text: By KRISTEN GELINEAU, Associated Press Writer, source: Yahoo News
After reading it I thought back to a young girl, she couldn't have been more then 16 years old who we met at a campsite once. We got talking about her life, and she later divulged that she had already made an attempt to kill herself using a gas oven. From the details and her demeanor we could tell this was not your teenage kid just wanting some attention. I just remember that Nico and I stayed very calm, let her speak and ask questions.
I think many of us forget the roles we can play in strangers lives. It doesn't hurt you to smile more often, but it can be painful for others if we don't. Here's to all the angels inside of us!