Friday, December 24, 2010

How about yes?

We often say no. No to work requests. No to the check out lady when she asks whether you brought your coupon card. No to nice ladies who wish you to donate to charity. No to animals that want food right now. No to kind invitations. No to confirming someone we don't know on Facebook. No to different ideas. No to things we don't agree with.


We could decide to say yes for a change. Have you noticed how we have taught ourselves to usually pop up some automated barriers, when interacting with other people? They ask something and we immediately spell out no or go erm.... and why is that? To protect ourselves? From what exactly? From having more fun?


Recently I said yes to these things:

  • I said yes to spending a special day at a friends place in the city even though I absolutely prefer and love spending that particular time on our farm. It made my friend happy that we're coming and me too.
  • I said yes to giving money to a busker. He looked happy. I was too.
  • I said yes to admitting design work to a local art competition and included a friend of mine. My friend was happy to go along with this crazy plan as the deadline is a week away.
  • I said yes to working Christmas eve. My boss was happy and she said I could leave earlier when I felt like it. We were both happy.
  • I said yes to many wonderful things next year that I will know will acquire me to be focused and dedicated. I know it will be fun. This made me very happy and my design friend too.
  • I said yes to my husband changing his job (Actually I have been saying yes to that for about 12 months now). This made him happy and me too.
  • I said yes to another kune kune pig arriving on our farm. After the initial debate pig Spunky had with new pig Piggie we are all very happy. I asked Spunky to learn to say yes.
  • I said yes to designing a new book cover for my mum's new poetry book. She was thrilled and I was happy too.
  • I said yes to a bbq Christmas dinner and staying at home. I did make a superb desert and it's called Ambrosia. My husband and I are both happy with that.
  • I said yes to learning a new skill and accepted it takes time to do it well. It makes me very happy.
  • I said yes to new changes and I said yes to new possibilities and new ventures for 2011.
  • I said yes to my life changing all across the board. For the better. It's exciting! It makes me happy.
  • I said yes to the decision to say more and more yes.
How about you?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry and Happy

The best wishes are yet again zooming around the planet. Christmas is close at hand. And summer holidays too for all here down under!


The best story I have heard in the last few days was from a dear friend. I won't repeat it here but it was incredibly hilarious. Smiling at things is a blessing. It takes the seriousness out of a situation and makes us relax and have fun. I mean, it's Christmas after all. What can you do for others to cheer them up?


Here's a toast to a kiwi (New Zealand) summer! Wishing you a most wonderful time too, wherever you are.




Wednesday, December 22, 2010

interpretation



Why is it that the Art world and the people who work in it professionally have such a need to explain all its aspects or make clever possible and assumed explanations of why a particular Art work is created? What is Art about? To me all sorts of talks about Art are fascinating only because we hear the story the speech giver is relating to us, which says more about them personally then the actual Art work. It gives us insight into the person, but does it give information about the Art work? 


A fascinating example of that is this story here about the work "woman with sticks' by Ron Mueck, see the video by clicking on this. (Amazing works by the way.)


I don't know why but these sorts of speeches have always bothered me. Not me personally, but in the sense that apparently there is a need to lift Art, for it to be taken seriously, to a level of explain-away-literacy. To me many Art folk have the habit to say "let's create this complicated story so dumb people "get" what this Art work is about". I find this behavior quite baffling. In Art-school, myself and my fellow students could quite happily create Art at a fast pace or having to take much time, usually via association and through ideas that popped in our heads. Yes we did many drawings and sketches and so on and sometimes we were simply on a roll. Only later would we come up with a clever story to explain why we used old pots and pans to create a sculpture for example. This was a necessary requirement to be able to concoct the most fabulous of theories that our professors would understand. Never mind we were on student pennies and the local second hand shop carried the funny pots which fit the bill too. I think Art critics should carefully consider an artist's life and his or her surroundings instead of filling in the blanks with their own witty interpretations, but that is just me.


To me Art works simply tell the story of a creator and what the creator thinks about, what they value and what they love. It is all inevitably inter connected. Art is visual story telling pure and simple. Of course it can be most fascinating to understand intricate aspects we otherwise would miss, but that can be fine if we so choose. Art for me will always be interpreted through our feelings, not our analytical mind to "understand". Then some say, but it is good to "educate". Is it? Perhaps it is to learn to make up your own mind eventually.


If we want to know more about any Art we can go talk to the artist. They made it and only they can tell you their story and answer the questions. Sure some stories will be complicated, and some will be simple. But isn't that just the beauty and the richness of life itself? Is Art not as diverse as we people are?


So why make it so fluffing difficult to explain Art? I still don't get it. That's alright, it doesn't worry me but I do find it amusing.

Friday, December 17, 2010

personally

This last week I have noticed numerous instances where people online have entered comments to defend their hurt feelings regarding online topic debates or to simply observe participants at play. Fascinating. As many of us spend so much time online, including grandmothers and grandfathers who are a growing demographic on Facebook, we are taking the daily conversation to the inter-sphere. Nothing new there, but how we incorporate these platforms IS. It is likely we will see increases of different and more seamlessly joined forms of communication, both technically based, and not. It's an exciting time to live in.

So why is the way of communication changing? Not just because we have access to all the techy gizmos. We basically upgraded to other forms of connection then we did previously. Mind you we still stand around the bbq in summer and catch up on all the highs and lows too, as we have physical bodies to sustain. Online at times we seem to be more honest then we would be in real life, giving our opinion more readily. On the other hand there are plenty of people who enjoy the game of make pretend. Calling people names or sharing our inner most secrets is really an individual choice. The whole behavioral dynamic is what I personally find most wonderful to watch.

And then there is the choice you have to make in all aspects: how much do you want to share? Once it's out there it's hard if not impossible to erase. The written or video-made testimony is out there for as long as there is internet. I have discussed this with various people. The credo is: if you don't have anything to hide, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. On the same token: common sense rules. Always remember, as you do offline and online, the rules of the game are the same: if you behave like a jerk people will stop wanting to play with you and no longer choose to respect or like your word. Social online communication does require some skill and practice. Being a douche doesn't. Something to ponder.

A good friend of mine says: "don't take it personally". There is truly a lot of wisdom in that.

Monday, December 13, 2010

the hard yards


Often we may feel we are always doing the "hard yards". Working when others have stopped doing so, working the weekends, looking after children when we may not feel like it, visiting people when we'd rather collapse on the couch at home, listen to a client who's getting on our nerves, having to phone someone when we don't feel like it, take the trash out and do the dishes, and on and on.

So are those hard yards really worth it or are we really fooling ourselves thinking that making our own lives difficult will somehow help us towards becoming more joyous in our work and daily life? Since when has punishing ourselves with dedication to other causes then what we really want to do, aided us in feeling better about ourselves?

Yep. I don't know the magic number either. Having a farm-let did teach me this: whether you are happy or sad, tired like hell or happy: the animals always need tending to and always come first (if you have kids enter "kids" where I had put "animals" -same rule applies.) So yes by all means finish projects you know need doing, but allow "me time" to balance yourself out. You are as important as the people you promised you would do things for.

Instead of getting so worn out that you feel like being in a continual state of full blown PMS, consider the opposite:
fighting or battling against something will cost you more energy then if you accept that at the moment it is all simply as it is. (I have done this regarding my daily work and my that has made a huge amount of difference, I'm even quite restful about it. I can be Zen when others get in a tizzy.)
Then take your foot of the friggin' accelerator and park next to the road. Notice the wild flowers. See the hare dashing across the road in the distance. Sniff some hay-fever elements! In any event; stop pushing yourself like you have a work addiction. Seriously! Would it be the end of the world if a project would finish later? Would it matter that the house is still not painted before Christmas? Would it matter you will not have a flash dinner this Christmas day but instead settle for a "salad in 5 min option"? Does it really concern you that you are a bit late with some things you wanted to do this year? 

Once you step outside of that zone of "have to have to have to panic panic tired tired PMS feelings" you will notice something quite wondrous!
The sun comes up every morning. You actually see it this time. Everything simply pans out as it pans out. You will however have reclaimed your sanity. That my friends, is already a miracle this time of year. Now go find a friend or a lovely tree, and hug it. Voila! Instant happiness. Just... Chill... Out!! You have worked hard! Now have some fun too or simply allow some extra hours snoozing in bed.

Told you it could be done. You just have to allow yourself to try. And stop pushing.
"Battle less, love more" - Gabriel

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

openness


The arrest of Wikileaks founder mr Assange has sparked much debate about freedom of speech and the way governments run their business. Now the fact that mr Assange has been arrested (and is likely to be extradited to Sweden on an alleged rape charge) we can see that rumors do not just spark, opinions are very much divided and many people have stong feelings about this case. Is the rape charge not just simply a cover up to stop Wikileaks and make readers believe they are baddies? Is Wikileaks not just another form of terrorism? What is it really that needs protecting? 

Only the ignorant believe that military and political groups are there to protect our safety. Think about this carefully. Does anything really need protecting at all? If there's nothing to hide then there should be no problems in the information coming to the surface, so why have this existing system anyway. Who does it really benefit?  
(Note: I'm not advocating going on a rampage of deliberately releasing information without thinking through what the impact will be. The debate here is not so much politics or individuals/idealistic groups but very much Ethics.)

It looks that the way Politics have been run is changing: with online media available to practically everyone on the planet, news spreads like wild fire. Trying to control this would be a mistake and only leads to one action: either severe conflict to try and gain control again (a very old school approach) or perhaps it would be novelty to start afresh by being transparent. This openness could mean that we all could accept that we are indeed all earthlings instead of sticking to our little individual agendas. Short term thinking and ego driven actions are simply on the way out. The new flavor of the day is a strong desire for genuine behavior build on mutual respect and trust.

The danger today is that all of us are still looked upon as potential terrorists. At airports we are screened, soon iris photos will be taken to identify everyone and unless we say no you can bet on it they will come up with a way to convince us all that having a chip injected under your skin would be so beneficial to your health and protection. (Flu injections anyone?) More and more people wake up and clue in on the fact what is really happening around us. We have started to realize how things work: what we are told daily (what we are fed) and we get an idea on the vast enormity on what we are not. 

We are choosing a new way to look at things, a new way to run our own lives and do this respectfully and transparently. Wikileaks may have done this in a very controversial manner. The fact it touches so many nerves should tell us something. Perhaps one day in the future we can say that the reason this happened because it sparked the debate that was needed to move forward and clean up our act. Governments will find they will have to change tack, as their people simply do not wish to participate in the old ways anymore. The world has become too small for that.

From today's 'the New York Times':
"Mr. Assange depicted WikiLeaks as a proponent of what he termed scientific journalism, which “allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on.”
“That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?” he wrote. “Democratic societies need a strong media, and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest.” (...)
As of Monday night, the group had released fewer than 1,000 of the quarter-million State Department cables it had obtained, reportedly from a low-ranking Army intelligence analyst.
So far, the group has moved cautiously. The whole archive was made available to five news organizations, including The New York Times. (...)
Justice Department prosecutors have been struggling to find a way to indict Mr. Assange since July, when WikiLeaks made public documents on the war in Afghanistan. But while it is clearly illegal for a government official with a security clearance to give a classified document to WikiLeaks, it is far from clear that it is illegal for the organization to make it public. (...)
In recent months, WikiLeaks gave the entire collection of cables to four European publications — Der Spiegel in Germany, El PaĆ­s in Spain, Le Monde in France and The Guardian. The Guardian shared the cable collection with The New York Times. (...) The five publications have announced no plans to make public all the documents. WikiLeaks’ intentions remain unclear."
From excellent shirky.com:
"Over the long haul, we will need new checks and balances for newly increased transparency — Wikileaks shouldn’t be able to operate as a law unto itself anymore than the US should be able to. In the short haul, though, Wikileaks is our Amsterdam. Whatever restrictions we eventually end up enacting, we need to keep Wikileaks alive today, while we work through the process democracies always go through to react to change. If it’s OK for a democracy to just decide to run someone off the internet for doing something they wouldn’t prosecute a newspaper for doing, the idea of an internet that further democratizes the public sphere will have taken a mortal blow."
Exactly. 

Further news on this story: 10th Dec:
Great read on Wired.com:
  • About EasyDNS, a company accused and backlashed for supporting Wikileaks and then pulling the plug; alas they were confused with a similarly named company. Now they do support Wikileaks. The story: click here
  • Dutch teen of 16 arrested for aiding Wikileaks. About how Wikileaks is organized and who works for them: groupforming. Read more here.
Further news: Reuters: 15th December:
Reuters: 
  • Assange back in jail as Sweden appeals bail> read here
  • U.S. Air Force blocks NY Times and Guardian over WikiLeaks > read here

Monday, December 6, 2010

back to school

Whether you actually will go back to school to study or not: keeping an open mind always has benefits. Some scientists will explain in great detail how certain synapses in the brain are activated and new pathways are built and so on. As I'm not a scientist but a communication designer I will just stick with this:
the willingness to learn is as important as actually learning something itself.


Before we decide to walk mount Ruapehu, mount Cook, mount Kilimanjaro or climb a horse, we have to decide to simply wanting to put one foot forward. We then actively start to carry out our made decision to "move". With the moving the action starts and things are getting into motion. This is the start of the Process. Then there is the "doing", the walking the riding the sweating the absorbing of that which we are interested to do, to acquire experience which provides us insight, which inspires us, which provides knowledge, and ultimately joy and wisdom.


Do we have to go to school to do all these things? Sometimes yes sometimes no.
The good news is that now free education is available. Yes, the time of online schooling is well and truly here and the best news is that you can attend, when you like and it doesn't cost you anything except your time.


From fastcompany: Udemy; a free online university for all.
"GAGAN BIYANI Cofounder and presidentUdemy Palo Alto, 23, is connecting the eager-to-teach with the eager-to-learn through Udemy, the Academy of You.


"There are millions of experts everywhere, and we provide them with the tools to share their knowledge online. Udemy gives instructors the ability to use video, PowerPoint, articles, and blog posts to build rich courses. They can even host virtual conferences with students. People spend $9 billion on casual learning each year, and another $20 billion on continuing and professional education. We can catalyze that market to move online, and provide forums that create in-depth learning experiences about everything from Thai cooking to calculus to Esperanto. We launched in May 2010 and more than 2,000 courses have been created. We're introducing a pay platform so our instructors can decide if they want to charge for their courses, but we expect 80% will remain free. The education industry is very top-down, but this has the power to change that."
So there you go, if you are keen to learn more and were unsure how to go about it: Udemy might be just right for you. If you always wondered how to go to a club and dance cool: here's the tutorial :) > click here

Friday, December 3, 2010

art that speaks..

There is something about these photographs that is both beautiful and unnerving. These works are by Charlie McLenahan - her website is hereI guess everyone who sees them may have a different feeling about them naturally.

Somehow it seems to show both how we care about living beings and how we have distanced ourselves as well (slaughterhouses etc, the reality of SPCA)

Sometimes too we may find we cling on to something that is no longer there... I find this photo of the chookie very impressive.

And this one touching. It may happen too, that our connection with a being has become something that we distinctly remember, and it has become a part of who we are as it lives along in our memories. We treasure this time, as we have treasured them.
____________________________________________________________
Charlie says about her work:
"I am a London born artist now living in Moray,Scotland, where I completed my BA (Hons) for fine art. My art uses the medium of photography to show the things that we all see but never look at. Within this work I have photographed road kill and any other newley found dead to create an immortality for the animal." 
"this work consists of an expose of the soulless exploitation of the natural world it manipulates the interface between the digital and the dead to effect the transition between life, death and eternity"
_____________________________________________________________
All I can add is: thank you life, that is both breathing and dead. Special and cumber-sum, heavy and light. Thank you animals for adding richness to our lives and putting up with our ignorant antics. We appreciate you being here with us.

For more about Charlie's work, there is wonderful interview by artist Leisa Rich (one of my online friends) here.