Tuesday, November 30, 2010

yellow brick road

Yesterday a fur seal had an adventure on tar-seal in Dunedin. Fred was on exploration. The humans had a bit of a kafuffle guiding him back to the water whereas Fred was just happy lying on the nice warm grass between the 4 lanes having a snooze. (He loves to eat fresh fish and the occasional muffin. He enjoys playing with humans. Just don't prod him, he has sensitive skin.)

Sometimes other people think we are lost, have no idea what we are doing or doubt our abilities, mostly they just want to do "the right thing" and try and drag us back to that thing they call "reality". Naturally this can be sensible, as let's face it all of us have the occasional blond moment or fly into fairyland. But what if we just want to play? What if we did think about it?

We simply may enjoy having a little adventure, like Fred. Maybe it would be nice if people let us do silly things and pretend we are in charge of our own lives. If we inadvertently hold up traffic, like Fred, then the cops can be called upon. Just don't panic too early when you see someone venturing off into the unknown. It could very well be just the thing for them. Some people call it "going bush", "gone fishing", "painting in nature", "meditating" or "going to a retreat" or even "tree hugging". 

"When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.
-- Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A. A. Milne"

Seeing people do certain things maybe don't make sense, but it can be useful. If you feel the urge yourself, simply do it by yourself and try not to bother anyone else once you're doing it. And when someone does track you down just be nice to them and thank them for caring.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Today we are going to chat a bit about change. Not that I haven't done so before ;)

I'm going through quite a transformation at the moment and seeing the light or not, one also needs to do the dishes every night and walk the dog. So it is getting into the exhilaration of "knowing" and the act and purposefulness of "doing". I am happy and excited to continue to bring you funny and informative reads. Feedback is always welcome, questions too.

Now then. What are most of us experiencing and wanting at the moment?

You are wanting an expansion of your knowing. Many are troubled. The world as we have known it is changing. Tell your story. Tell of how you wish it to be in your life. Know that you are strong and that your vision (ambition/goals) can be realized. You may be required to leave that which you know to be familiar behind you.

What is holding you back? What is your biggest wish? What do you dream of? What are you afraid of?

Not many want to have their questions answered in fear of what it will tell them. The alternative is to lead your life without knowing. How much fun can there be in that? I have made a start and done things to contribute to that which is good for many. See what you can do. Start a group, build a movement... or simply share what's on your mind and what is waiting in your heart. It's not that hard. You made it so if it is.

Make friends, be open, be courageous, dare to live, cease to be afraid. The time is now and embracing the change that is, is found on your doorstep. Will you take a chance? Open the door and finally immerse in that which is bigger then you. It's exciting and it is fun. Join the Change that we all are becoming.

Monday, November 22, 2010

all in a name?

What's in a name we often ask? Or... a title?

I was reading Nicole's blog post today: about her discovery that she is in fact not a hand-bag designer. To her this was a very important discovery. To others it is probably not that important. Then I remembered reading this leaflet in the car long before I got to work and came across Nicole's blog post. The said leaflet informed me on the different design streams within the local Polytech. I was reading about product design... yes familiar.... fashion design.... not my field... interior design.... yes work in that one.... communication design.... huh? This lovely umbrella of Communication Design covered the whole spectrum of what I have been doing for many years, excluding the activity of goat herding - somehow that is not part of their curriculum. Interesting to read though. I thought: ah! now I can do away with all the summing up of what it is I do, this umbrella would suit me fine.

Sometimes I observe that we have the tendency to either make things unnecessarily complicated, too interesting then it really is or simply too darn wordy. Being concise has benefits. People get a quicker grasp on what it is we do. Of course the questions is: do we wish to be labelled? Does it matter? And: we are often labelled whether we agree with it or not! Do we make enough time to explore more about a person we meet? Look past the label or title enough?

Just recently I met this lovely couple through my work. They live only 10 minutes away from where our farm is and they needed a solution for their interior. A few years ago they helped us with our highland cattle as we had been shifting them from our farm to the neighbors. Then last Saturday I finally discovered what it actually was what the husband does for a profession. He hunts Moose. In New Zealand. With a bunch of cameras. In a very dense large stretched out area called Southland. Apparently he is quite well known throughout New Zealand and I hadn't had a clue, because I hadn't heard about any of it before. His work is controversial and many New Zealanders think that his work and theories are a bunch of crock (as they say here) because no one has seen a live Moose since the 50s. The fact that Ken is relatively famous is not interesting, but the funny fact that it took me a few conversations to finally clue in on the fact that of course there was a lot more to these lovely people then met the eye, as my main priority had been to help them with their interior.

A title or name can be useful, but being labelled can have negative connotations as Ken has found from time to time. Either we choose or accept the label we like/are given or we decide to just play the part we want to ourselves regardless of it. It's not so much what we're called, it's what we do that makes a difference. It's what stories we share ourselves.

More about the topic of labeling here (excellent post)

Friday, November 19, 2010


I like writing about people, not about individuals in a gossipy manner, but how all of us are exploring this vast universe, our world, our private thoughts, our interactions with others. One of my goals is to offer information about these explorations to many people who are looking for it, to meet others and to share knowledge. I would be the first to say: hello you! I'm learning too!

If you would live by yourself all the time, like a hermit, what would you learn really? Don't we learn most when we are interacting with others? At times, the more friction, or upset, the more we can learn, although I wouldn't advocate starting arguments or wars in order to achieve that progress. I read somewhere that the people who challenge us the most, who touch us deeply or simply piss us off beyond belief, are our best teachers. I think this is very accurate.

Instead of perceiving other people as the ones who I'd never like to see again and stay far away from, I have found that it actually doesn't bother me anymore, quite literally too, if I do run into them on occasion it's all fine with me. This is a funny thing and surprisingly: offers great freedom. I can actually wish them well, even if I choose not to be friends with them anymore. I guess we can only be "free" from those, if we have learned to let go of the notion  that we somehow have to "be right" at the end of the conversation, or the silly idea that we always know best. I prefer to think of it as a wise and mature approach, and whenever I catch myself being stuck in an "ego" debate I try to look past whatever it is and "get over it" by realizing I'm being petty or that I don't know all the details.

Being right has never brought anyone anything, except ignorance and arrogance. Haven't we got better things to do? Aren't all of us here to do the same thing? To experience, to grow, and to have fun in a loving and preferably more or less safe environment? I like the idea of treating everyone I meet as if they were related to me in some fashion. This automatically meant I would treat them well, support them in whatever they do and help them if asked for. I will not ask them for anything, as I have all I need inside of me and everyone has got enough to do already. Still, many manage to surprise me with their love, friendship and honesty. To me, that is the most valuable thing of all.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

you giving today?

I found this inspirational video and I very much liked the idea, and how it was so simple and effective.
How to cheer people up quickly and why it is so much fun to be the "do-er" and the "receiver" of that gift.

Found via http://www.revonet.co.nz/p/cool-stuff.html via Marc from www.businessblogs.co.nz

Monday, November 15, 2010

asking hard questions

Whether you're in business or not: do you ask the hard questions? I find I'm doing this more and more across the board on all sorts of topics. I was having a chat with my dad the other day on the phone about this. What matters really? And what doesn't? This past year I've changed quite a bit. Asking the hard questions is part of my (learning) process. Having fun is one thing, doing something great with a more long term scenario in mind is better. I'm reading an excellent book at the moment by Tony Hsieh: delivering happiness.

So starting something is one thing, carrying it out and finishing things is important to actually get somewhere. This I'm finding more and more and it's exciting to see my focus come into action and create tangible results as well.
Tony's advice to building anything sensibly is this:

  1. Decide. What do you want to do?
  2. Culture & Values. What is it about?
  3. Commit to transparency. Build your Story, be genuine.
  4. Chase vision not $. Big bikkies are nice, but that's not why the game is played.
  5. Build relationships. Meet and treat :)
  6. Build your Team. (Find co-conspirators.)
  7. Think long term!
One of the hard questions I'm wanting to answer today is: why would my designs and creations matter to others? What benefits do they really bring? And do I really want to become a goat-cheese maker in the future?

When we have focus, and are driven, and learn to not spend fluff time on all sorts of projects that get out of hand, we have fun and grow. Ask the hard questions, you will be surprised by the answers.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Most of us carry images in our mind of how the world should be. When reality and those inner images don't overlap or struggle to come to a meet, we generally experience strong emotions as  a result. In the past I observed the bumps and bruises expectations can create when they are not met in my own family. It's not so much painful to me to see this when I am involved, but more so when I'm not as it makes me sad.

What I find funny is my occasional 'bumps' and 'hiccups'. Just when I think I'm on a road of being at peace with things and feeling energetic something might throw me off balance unexpectedly. Then I'm thinking ok what have I done NOW? Sometimes I can laugh about it, other times I call myself an idiot. Usually it's about something I failed to recognize, like say discovering an old habit that I have been ignoring or seeing that my attitude needs re-aligning in an area.

Making small steps and changing the images of our desired life in our minds to a fairly upbeat realistic scenario is more preferable. Self acceptance can be trying if we keep battling parts of who we are: demanding of ourselves to be this or that no matter what. The thing is too that it's not other people's job to live up to your expectations to ease your life, it's your job to live up to yours. And preferably: you will be nice to yourself in the process.

Try and appreciate others even if they don't conform to your expressed or unexpressed wishes. Wouldn't it be a lot nicer if we set each other free? It would surely take the pressure off. And we would be far more fun to be around each other.

So really: trying to accommodate other people's expectations is very hard work, but your own can be such a struggle too. And it doesn't need to be. It takes a lot of willpower to stay true to ourselves and to let others do things their way. Trust that other people are experts at running their own lives, making their own choices, even if you don't see the wisdom of it. You may not be holding all the cards. Let them go.

And have a laugh. I know I am for being such a muppet! (That post was almost too serious for my own good. Time to move on. Have a fab weekend!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Yay!! Today I can finally share with you the uplifting groovy news that I have been working with design star Joi Murugavell, of Joidesign in Melbourne, to create a very snazzy and most intriguing batty collection of work. Our collaboration name is MOOODLIES. Joi is a Pop-art artist, illustrator and web designer. Like me she has an art degree and many entrepreneurial years behind her. Her website is: www.oodlies.com

We have developed our first range of art designs. They are a Social Object, a story. They are cushions. The theme of our first collection is "Tea party": the getting-to-know-each-other phase, that works like an initiation ritual. The designs are brimming with whimsy as it is play, a poke for reminding us all not to take life too seriously. (Top picture shows a montage of small parts of our designs - we will show the full designs at a later stage...)

The cushions will have a hook on the back to actually physically hang them on walls. Therein lies the difference, the common place home decor accessory becomes the art work, the art work can also become integrated into daily lives instead of a more "revered" (and usually also hugely expensive) piece. Our designs are printed in a limited edition. We are currently in communications to organize an ideal Art Gallery in Dunedin to hold our first MOOODLIES exhibition. These are exciting times!

Mooodlies is about exchange, about ideas, innovation and... a lot of attitude.
(More on why our collaboration worked so well: read this fascinating theory here, a snippet below:)

"But now, thanks to the Internet, ideas can meet and mate globally and instantaneously like never before. What else is crowdsourcing but working with one another? The cross-fertilization of ideas between, say, Asia and Europe that once took years, decades, or centuries can now happen in minutes while Australia, the Americas, and Africa eavesdrop. The cloud is for everybody, whereas in the old days the sharing of ideas was reserved for the privileged elite. There is, as Stanford economist Paul Romer has argued, not even a theoretical limit to the number of combinations of atoms and electrons we can devise, and the rate at which we devise them is bound to accelerate.
Fasten your seatbelts."

And here is an Oodlie by Joi:
A moo design by me:

Friday, November 5, 2010

young ones

I was at a birthday bash a week or so ago. There was talk about "those young ones these days"... "the cane should be brought back at school".... "no manners nowadays".... "too many teenage mothers".... "we need to give them discipline". As is my nature I couldn't help but interject that ACTUALLY there are a lot of young people out there who make big life changes, who do not follow their parents, who choose a different life for themselves and who do incredible and very many positive things, for others as well as for themselves. I was greeted back with dumbfound expressions. What was I talking about?

It's so easy to generalize, to blame, to pinpoint failure. Too easy in my opinion.

When was the last time you did something wondrous? Something entirely not profitable for someone else? Something selfless just to help out? Have you or haven't you? Did you never make a mistake in your life? Do you know everything? Of course not. 

I came across a young lady's story today and was reminded of the birthday party's mutterings regarding the inadequacies of young folk's behaviour. Isn't it up to adults to set better examples perhaps? To guide in a non preachy way? To be encouraging? Or can we really just have more confidence in younger generations? Why would that be so hard?

From Fastcompany: "Maggie Doyne left on a post-high school trip to Nepal and never came back. After seeing the way kids--many orphans--were living, she called her parents and asked them to send over her life savings, with that money she founded The Kopila Valley Children's Home in 2006. Four years later, she is the legal guardian for 30 orphans and just completed building a school for them. Doyne talked to Fast Company about her remarkable journey, starting as a girl in Mendham New Jersey and ending up a leader for social change in rural Surkhet, Nepal."

Read the whole blogpost here. I'd say that most definitely generalizations aren't very helpful, positive individuals are.
Maggie's website: http://blinknow.org/

Monday, November 1, 2010

social object

Currently my screen printer is working her way through printing a collaboration project. It's an exciting time for me and my fellow designer (who for now shall remain Miss x). I was thinking about the product that we are creating and how it will most certainly become a Social Object in the hands of buyers. (Trust me it looks nothing like the bovines above)

The difference in our approach is that we do not look at our created product as a commercial number, but see it as being both a story as well as an art piece. So even when saying that; why would what we make be ANY different from the gazillion other creations "out there"? Well we'd like our oddball pieces to go viral, to multiply like the Gremlins. As Henrik Werdelin puts it: 

"Virality is all about making your users look awesome in front of their friends". 

So in a nutshell: we make you look good by making you look "different and interesting".

How right Henrik is. We do not see our "work" as just another Art gig, nor as a practical item, it's is actually meant to be a funny focal point in the home, a Social Object. This is where it gets more fascinating.

Hugh Macleod, winemaker and pofessional cartoonist and artist:
"The Social Object, in a nutshell . . . . Human beings are social animals. We like to socialize. But if [we] think about it, there needs to be a reason for it to happen in the first place. That reason, that "node" in the social network, is what we call the Social Object." (via gapingvoid.com)

In essence we have decided to turn what normally would be considered an Art work on its head an integrate it quite literally in the space where the buyer lives. So even-though we didn't create our work to be just practical pieces, not specifically to generate conversation, they most certainly will create a lot of talk, without a doubt.

What we are currently working on is this: (Henrik again:) 
"A good exercise is to spend some proper time making a good story about your business/endeavor and try it on a few people. Then wait a few days and ask them to explain to you what your business is doing--and see if you like what you hear. If the story is good, it should become a social object. From there it can be shared easily with everyone from new customers and investors to your mum. Happy storytelling."

And by golly it's a lot of fun!