Category: Inspire me

It’s About Time

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Big changes are coming my way — I’m so excited for the next adventure, but also shitting myself at the enormity of it. So  coming across Laura Stack‘s Embracing Change: A Few Good Reasons To Keep It Moving Forward (from TLNT.com via LinkedIn) was serendipitous!

Stack’s one of America’s premier experts on productivity, and though she’s writing about change in organisations, her comments are relevant to life, too.

Key takeaways:

–> “The only completely consistent people are dead.” — Aldous Huxley

–> If you embrace change, who knows what wonders await you?

–> Rather than mire yourself in the mud of complacency and familiarity, learn as much as you can as change washes through, then apply Walt Disney’s famous dictum: keep moving forward.

–> Focus on the benefits: Most changes won’t devastate you. (I.e. You always have some sort of safety net. For me, it’s the love and support of my family and close friends. And Visa. Yes, there will be some inconveniences, but you need to remember you’re making the change because you’re over day after day in Rut City. The benefits outweigh the little shitty things.)

–> Smooth the transition; phase it in gradually.

–> Keep moving forward.

 

What some other people had to say about change…

“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.” – Stephen ChboskyThe Perks of Being a Wallflower

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” – Terry PratchettA Hat Full of Sky

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” – Eric RothThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Screenplay)

“Just because I liked something at one point in time doesn’t mean I’ll always like it, or that I have to go on liking it at all points in time as an unthinking act of loyalty to who I am as a person, based solely on who I was as a person. To be loyal to myself is to allow myself to grow and change, and challenge who I am and what I think. The only thing I am for sure is unsure, and this means I’m growing, and not stagnant or shrinking.” – Jarod KintzAt even one penny, this book would be overpriced. In fact, free is too expensive, because you’d still waste time by reading it.

“We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.” – Arthur O’ShaughnessyPoems of Arthur O’Shaughnessy

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” – Jon KrakauerInto the Wild

“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?” – Hunter S. Thompson

“Let us toast to animal pleasures, to escapism, to rain on the roof and instant coffee, to unemployment insurance and library cards, to absinthe and good-hearted landlords, to music and warm bodies and contraceptives… and to the “good life”, whatever it is and wherever it happens to be.” – Hunter S. ThompsonThe Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman

“Stop pretending. You wanted to be real right? This hurts, this is what it feels like, this is the growing up, the stoping pretending, the false past tap-dancing. This is the owning. This is the no-i-won’t-be-performing, this is growing out of the glamour and back into the tattered shabby mis-constructed hearts shadow. This is me owning. This is me admitting. This is me realing-up, maning-up. growing up, wanting up.” – Coco J. Ginger

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Local? Yeah, It’s Local (News).

Mum recently visited regional SA and brought home a copy of the Milang Community News ($1.50). Besides being a bookworm (and by extension, paperworm), she says on little country jaunts, one picks up the local rag to see what’s going on.

Among the local news and gardening club ads was this gem:

Milang Community News, April 2013, p. 23.

Milang Community News, April 2013, p. 23.

I love a good historical fact, and this one’s fascinating- the history of  ‘saved by the bell‘, ‘dead ringer‘ and ‘graveyard shift‘. I can’t see myself ever needing to know it – maybe some randomly coincidental quiz night question – or Google ‘origin of phrase saved by the bell’, but it’s still a great tidbit I’ll be filing away up top. Kudos, Mervyn Hopgood.

I wonder what the Milang Community News readership is…I imagine it’s put out by a tiny yet dedicated staff (including The Editor). Community news digests like Milang’s are popular in regional Australia (some are online, too)…I read an article last year about local news — for The Guardians ‘Greenslade Blog’ section, former journo Fran Collingham wrote, “Local people do, on the whole, still trust their local newspaper (more than they trust the national media) to tell them what’s really going on in their neighbourhood, and at a time when they can choose hundreds of different sources that can give them a version of what’s going locally, the role of a local newspaper in sorting out the nonsense from the real story is absolutely vital.”

No doubt, Fran, no doubt.

Library use in the digital age? Google It.

Sometimes I wonder: what did we do before Google?

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Obviously, we read (more hardcover) books. Visited libraries (more often). Speaking of which, how are libraries doing these (digital) days? I haven’t visited my local in ages, and I think I only visited my uni one once, and it was to meet someone – not even for research! I love hardback books (am I actually having to specify the type now – that’s I mean ‘traditional’ and not electronic?!) and have always considered myself an avid reader.

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But in the past few years, my hardcover book consumption has decreased, and my online book and information use has vastly increased. The last book I read was (I can’t believe I actually have to cast my mind back and think about this) A Six-Letter Word For Death, by Patricia Moyes (left).

I love murder-mysteries and whodunits, and Mum picked that one up at a secondhand bookshop (published in 1983, likely out of print), read it, enjoyed it, passed it on to me (for the record, it’s fantastic). Until my recent move back to my home state a few months ago, I always had a stack of books – either To Read or Reading – next to my bed. When I first moved back, I was reading a recent John Grisham, but for the life of me I can’t remember where I’ve put it – and why I haven’t realised that sooner.

I regularly buy books for my Mum, the original Bookworm . I will be eternally grateful to her for introducing me to the magic of reading and books; she’s responsible for the mini-libraries in our house…when I visited friends’ houses as a kid, I always thought their family was a bit weird if they didn’t have big overflowing bookcases. But lately, even she’s been buying up on Kindle (though sometimes, this is for the massive price reduction). And when I do buy hardcovers for her, they’re usually from op-shops, eBay or Etsy (out-of-print copies).

Kathryn ZickuhrLee Rainie and Kristen Purcell did some research on US library use and released their report, Library Services in the Digital Age in January of this year.

Among their findings:

  • Fully 91% of Americans ages 16 and older say public libraries are important to their communities; and 76% say libraries are important to them and their families.
  • In the past 12 months, 53% of Americans ages 16 and older visited a library or bookmobile
  • 52% of recent library users say their use of the library in the past five years has not changed to any great extent, and 22% say their use has decreased.
  • The main reason patrons say their library use decreased? ‘Can get books, do research online, and the Internet is more convenient.’ (40%)

As a journalist, I’m always impressed by those who’ve gone before me to report the news sans Google. William Prochnau, a former national reporter for the Washington Post, now a contributing editor of Vanity Fair, wrote this fascinating related piece for the American Journalism Review. For insight into the press biz 25 years ago, Prochnau spoke to Tom Fiedler, the editor of the Miami Herald. Fiedler remember when “We still had linoleum on the floors so we could stub out our cigarette butts.”

“You do pay a price for this…the ability to wander off, to think, to talk to people, may be getting squeezed out by all the technology. You find an extra hour when you used to talk to people and you go to your laptop and look for e-mails and surf the Web. Sometimes we lose ourselves in that stuff, and we never have that conversation where the thread of an idea just emerges, something that you would have never thought of.” – Tom Fiedler

The article also quotes Geneva Overholser (as Prochnau describes, “Overholser is one of those former everythings–editor of the Des Moines Register, Nieman fellow, editorial writer at the New York Times, ombudsman at the Washington Post. Now a faculty member for the Washington bureau of the University of Missouri School of Journalism”)…

She thinks we have created a modern journalistic world so driven by demographics and cost–target the readers, then give them what they think they want at the least possible expense–that it threatens our reason for being. “Newspapers are failing to give reporters time or even encouragement to do the things that we used to say made us ‘great’ or ‘good,’ ” Overholser says. “We almost have a different definition of good now. It’s not surprising that a handful of papers win all the Pulitzers. They are the only ones that are investing in journalism.”

That’s pretty damn melancholy.

Apparently, ‘B.C’ – Before Google – is a thing. Here’s a tribute website to it. One guy wrote about Searching the Internet B.G. (lengthy, but worth a skim to see how far technology has come). He explains how you couldn’t even search the Net until the 1980s. The mind boggles!

The whole point of this post, originally, was to share this recent discovery via StumbleUpon: The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. Then I got all distracted by how amazing the Internet is. BUT the page has a ton of da Vinci’s portrait studies, anatomy sketches, and drawings of inventions. Prepare to be inspired.

Happy reading?

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Monday Morning Inspiration and Indignation

Woke up early today to make sure I made a phone call when I needed to…forgetting about the time difference between Perth and Adelaide. So, with time to kill, I explored some new websites. Flavorwire (@Flavorwire on Twitter) is a collection of cool culture-related stuff. First page I visited was Musicians Hanging Out In Record Stores.

Including this pic (1/16)…

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Meanwhile, a friend of mine said he was writing an article for the website Your Friends House. Of course, I had to check it out.

Loved this post: Amazing Photos Of A Travelling Girlfriend

The post’s author, Sammy, says:

“In one of the coolest and most creative displays of affection, Russian photographer Murad Osmann has taken people on an intimate and eye-opening journey with his significant other. From Moscow to London to Venice and all over Russia, Mr Osmann maintains the anonymity of his girlfriend through a brilliant set of over-saturated shots, all the while never letting go of her hand.”

Also from Your Friends House (by the same poster, Sammy), this piece in response to this Geoffrey Barker article in The Age .  It caught my attention as I’d Retweeted a response to Barker’s article last week. I’ll be doing a separate post discussing this! To be continued…

Women: Do yourself a favour and learn self-defence. NOW.

margaret atwood quote

I’ve been training in mixed martial arts for a year, and love it. Not just the fitness aspect (a kickboxing class burns about 700 calories), but for the intangible benefits of studying any martial art: discipline, respect, indomitable spirit, perseverence, self-mastery, etc.

I’m also confident knowing I could put up a decent fight, if I was ever in a vulnerable situation. The likelihood of that happening – who knows? But I hate the thought of being a victim. As well, someone I know very well and love very much was the victim of domestic violence for many years. So I feel strongly that all women (and slightly-built men) should learn some form of self-defence. And others agree with me – around the world, people are encouraging women to take up self-defence classes: see here (Australia), here (Jamaica) and here (India).

It doesn’t have to be MMA or karate etc., but some skills that can be practice to the point where if you’re in danger, a self-defence move will be second nature, and give you enough time to get away. I enjoy watching the upper-belts at my dojo during sparring practice, and aspire to have top skills.

“It’s a scandal that violence against women is allowed, excused and overlooked.” – Amnesty International Australia

The stats are SCARY.

  • Globally, one in three women will be beaten in their lifetime.
  • In Australia, one in three Australian women will experience physical violence in their lifetime, while 23% to 28% will experience sexual or emotional harm.
  • Domestic violence constitutes the single biggest health risk to women of reproductive age.

It would be nice if we didn’t have to teach women to defend themselves, or teach men not to be violent, but we do. It’s encouraging to see movements like One Billion Rising and the protests that followed the gang rape and murder of a 23-year old woman in India and rising number of rapes nationwide. But while gender-based violence continues to be a major problem, I believe women should learn self-defence.

For more info on One Billion Rising, check out this article from TIME and watch Charlize Theron’s PSA.

gofI watched a self-defence-themed episode of Oprah in 2008 featuring Gavin de Becker and his book, The Gift of Fear (left). I highly recommend this book…I’ve read it twice, and keen to start it again soon. De Becker explains his book helps readers learn how to:

  • Recognize the survival signals that warn us about risk from strangers
  • Rely on their intuition
  • Separate real from imagined danger
  • Predict Dangerous Behavior
  • Evaluate whether someone will use violence
  • Move beyond denial so that their intuition works for them

Oprah also featured a self-defence/survival expert explaining some tactics regarding kidnapping prevention, and running in a zig-zag (rather than straight line) if you’re running from someone trying to shoot you. Similar info is available on Survival Options“Accurately shooting a live target – especially a moving target – is extremely difficult.” Again, it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever need to escape from a gunman, but I like knowing what to do just incase.

I’m really interested in ‘street survival’ tactics. These aren’t generally covered in martial arts classes; I’ve learned various ‘real-world attack’ (knife, wrist, hair, shoulder) defences in my martial arts classes, but not stuff like How To Escape From Zip Ties (via It’s Tactical – the guide includes lots of instructional videos).

Re: security/safety products

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LifeHammer®

I keep a ‘LifeHammer’ in my car (ordered after watching a survival-themed episode of Dr. Oz), purchased from eBay for about $5 including postage (from Hong Kong – obviously not the R’d Life Hammer!).

As the official website explains, the LifeHammer® allows people to escape from being trapped in vehicles by cutting jammed seat belts and breaking car windows. It features a double-sided hammer head, specially designed with hardened steel points to shatter car windows in an emergency, and a razor-sharp blade to cut through seatbelts if you’re trapped.

When I lived in Perth last year, I considered buying pepper spray (before I started MMA classes). When I studied abroad in the US, my roommate had a mini canister attached to a keyring on her car keys. I didn’t end up buying it in Perth (I saw a can for sale at the Freo markets for around $35, which seemed pricey), but it’s interesting that WA is the only Aussie state where pepper spray is legal, as a “controlled weapon”. I’d buy some here in SA if it was legal, but as it’s not, I could use my deodorant spray in a jam – presumably that’d have less-potent ‘stun’ effect if sprayed in the eyes.

Were You Paid To Do That?

When I was hunting online for an appropriate picture for this blog’s header, I came across some creative interpretations of ‘Field Guide to…’

To deviate briefly…

I’ve always admired clever creative types. I remember when I was about 12 or 13, my family went to the SA coast for a trip. My Dad took me to the local RSL hall, to see an art exhibition. I lost interest pretty quickly (lots of the same ‘bowl of fruit’ style interpretations, looked like lots of the members had done their first life drawing class and wanted to have an ‘art show’) and I remember Dad lamenting, “But you love art!” and me thinking, “Yeah…when it’s good!

One of my absolute favs is Fab Ciraolo – I came across his Marilyn Monroe on Twitter (via @fabciraolo).

'Marilyn Monroe'  1 Feb 2012  © Fab Ciraolo

‘Marilyn Monroe’
1 Feb 2012 © Fab Ciraolo

His Monroe started my love affair with his work (particularly Judy Garland, Dali, Princess Di, and 90s throwbacks: re-imagined characters from Thundercats, Jem and the Holograms and Captain Planet.) Can’t wait til I can afford prints!!

Some of my other long-time favs:

  • Old-school artists like Degas and Van Gogh, and M.C. Escher (esp. 1948 ‘Drawing Hands’ lithograph).
  • Pop artists Warhol and Lichtenstein. I visited a Warhol exhibition in 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. All his work is interesting, but it was the first time I learned of (and saw) the Oxidization paintings, sometimes called his ‘Piss Paintings’. As well as his iconic work, I also loved his documentary-style black-and-white photos of young celebs (all old or deceased now, of course).
  • Street artists Banksy and Shepard Fairey.
  • Comic book artists: Frank Miller, and the Brian Bolland/Alan Moore collaboration that resulted in this iconic pic of The Joker.
  • Illustrators Shane Prigmore (seen the movie Coraline? That’s him), Camille Rose Garcia
  • ‘Golden Age’ Disney artists (30s-50s) like Marc Davis and Eric Larson (animators on the 1950 film Cinderella – always enjoyed the three fairy godmothers), who used live-action models to guide accuracy in animation. Christopher Finch in The Art of Disney explains, “Disney insisted that all scenes involving human characters should be shot first in live-action to determine that they would work before the expensive business of animation was permitted to start. The animators did not like this way of working, feeling it detracted from their ability to create character. However they understood the necessity for this approach in retrospect and acknowledged that Disney had handled things with considerable subtlety.” …I was in Orlando, Florida just after my 20th birthday, and my sister and I visited Disney-MGM Studios. In one of the buildings, they had Disney artists/animators sitting at little tables, and you could buy sketches of Disney characters and have the animators personalise them. I bought a couple of Mulan and Beauty and the Beast ones, and the artist added on ‘Happy 20th Birthday – October 30th, 2004’. Awesome memory.
  • Tattoo artists eg. Kat von D and Chris Garver.
  • Photographers (including up-and-comers like my portrait photographer friend Lewis Loder)

The increasing popularity of, and corporate trend towards, digital media means more work for computer-savvy graphic designers — and more great stuff for me to look at! Web Urbanist said it better: “Watching an artist turn a piece of paper and some graphite into a realistic, imaginative work of art is amazing enough – but somehow, seeing such illustrations come to life from pixels on a computer screen can seem even more magical.”

But back to the Field Guides…

Who knows whether the authors were paid to create them (and who knows – the variety of job titles and responsibilities today, along with consumer demand), or created it when they clocked off? Either way, I love their idea of taking something traditional (‘Field Guide to Edible Plants’ etc.) and applying it to something else. As a fan of Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe, I would totally buy the ‘Field Guide to Heavy Metal Satan Fingers’ and have it framed as cool wall art.

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And here’s some of Shane Prigmore‘s work for Coraline (via Web Urbanist):

shane-prigmore-coraline

[For all the pics on this post, I’ve linked back to the sources – no copyright infringement intended!]

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