Where Do We Go From Here?

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After passing by this little gem at school last month (yeah, BCIT is a concrete prison), it all made sense to me: I would rather a life of quirk and quaint over luxe and glamour. I often look at those women who are put together so perfectly and feel a bit slobish. I bring it on myself. I feel silly when things match too well, and I tug at my ponytail until little pieces of hair fall down around my face. I feel out of place when I walk into a boutique. Instead, I feel I am at my best in a thrift shop. I confidently flip through those clothing racks at lightening speed and march around like I belong.

I’m just not one of those fancy girls…

…but I ain’t no tomboy either.

I have more nail polish than I can keep up with. I love my eye makeup. My liquid liner and mascara are waterproof, and I’ll proudly wear them to the beach. “Oh my gosh, that’s soooo cute” is sighed daily as I gaze at something that just “get’s to me.” I’ll never own enough shoes and I am happiest in dresses. I cry just thinking about how much I love my husband, or my family, or my cats, or this new career path I am following. I am a total (and proud) girl.

Truth be told. I am just like the other 97% who never felt cool in high school: I’ve always felt awkward and I’m so relieved that the world is full of other awkward people. And I am beyond thrilled when that awkwardness is parlayed into creative genius whether music, literature, art or design.

I think it was this little moment between the car and another drafting class that gave me a moment of clarity I have never quite had. A moment when I breathed out and accepted that I’m not rich nor fancy. I’m not even particularly exciting. But I am happy. I contantly notice and I am inspired by the things that are different. I see humour in the little details. My heart jumps out of my chest whenever something sparks a new idea. I think all of my awkward friends are the funniest people I’ve ever met. I like to hum and sing when I am walking, and I don’t really care that I always get “busted” by strangers (standing at a cross walk, thinking I’m alone and then I notice the three people standing behind me… stopping now would only be embarassing, so I act like I knew they were there).

A guy made fun of me for living in one of the oldest apartments in town,

“I looked at those when I was looking for a place, but they were way too ghetto for me” (I stared at him in disbelief, partly because I couldn’t believe he was ok with being that mean to my face and partly because I ADORE my little apartment and all the cute elderly neighbours that live in it).

A coworker whined about her “old” (2006) car until she finally caved and bought a new SUV (my civic is a 2001, we have driven it into the ground, and I will cry my eyes out when it bites the dust- I have been preparing myself for that tragic day for quite some time).

I find myself in these moments all the time. The ones where people are complaining about the very thing I am thanking God for.

I count myself blessed. I’ve never cared much for the Jones’ and what they do. And in light of that previous post about finding a better way to use this blog, I think I’ve found a direction: sharing the little things, the quirky, the quaint, the cute and the swoons.

You’ll see what I mean soon enough.

I just want what I put out there to make people feel better about their lives and not jealous of mine. I don’t want to come across as a braggart, but rather, a thankful heart. There are so many great things in the everyday life that often get overlooked. Inspiration exists everywhere, and a beautiful life lies in the details. For those of you who know me and have (bless your hearts) followed me from blog to blog- my stumbling block has always been that I feel an inner conflict in that the blogger-world can often feel far too self-promoting. I feel uncomfortable with the hey look at me mentality (let me be clear, I pass no judgement on other bloggers. I am the girl who feels much happier to celebrate other people’s birthdays than my own, and I’ve been known to go as far as to keep my birthday a secret because I don’t enjoy being the center of attention. I am ALWAYS more than happy to celebrate other people).

Celebrating the details of life is something that everyone can relate to. It isn’t exclusive. A good book, a pretty sunset, an inspiring artist or a really great recipe are all things accessible to everyone in their everyday lives.

A beautiful life lies in the details…

My new mantra (did I steal that from somewhere? Probably).

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Propellor.

A major bonus to working as a design assistant/apprentice is that I get a better view of what’s out there beyond Ikea and Home Outfitters for furniture and waaaaaaaaay beyond Home Depot for finishing materials.

I’ve been trying to source a light fixture for our new conference room, and I came across Propellor and got those warm tinglies.

Propellor is an independent, Vancouver based multi-disciplinary design studio. We thrive on the challenge of creating useful, beautiful and ecologically minded objects and experiences…

Their core values stack up the same as my own:

Collaboration:

Three heads are better than one – working together takes us places creatively that we wouldn’t think of going alone.

Sustainability:

We work at being good citizens. In our community and in the world at large we take our social and environmental responsibilities seriously. We work to reduce our impact at every level of our practice… Evolving as people, as designers and as a company involves continually questioning our choices, learning new lessons and working to take every new step in the right direction.

Loves:

The smell of horses, bon-vivants, podcasts, bicycles of all kinds, wool, whiskey, meals with friends, spring in Vancouver, sleeping under the stars, deep conversation, talking trash, making bread, the rainforest, mushrooms, manifestos, shit disturbers, mom & pops, remote Canadian surf spots, the patina of use, fall in Vancouver, birds of all kinds (especially ravens), vibrant public spaces, investigative journalists, creeks, streams, rivers, thrift stores, sore muscles, tidal pools, documentaries, the tundra, drifting in a canoe, intimate music venues, gnarly old buildings, permaculture, pillow talk, sea otters (who doesn’t), loooong baths, downpours, problem solving, human-powered devices, summer in Vancouver

the patina of use… that is so damn romantic I can’t even handle it. Are you as in love as I am?

Propellor gets me excited. Not only is their site so jaw-droppingly inspiring to look at, but there is such an intimacy to their work/belief-system. I have ranted in past posts about how much I disagree with the competitive, back-stabbing and superiority that can happen in this industry. I love to see local companies who don’t adhere to the norm.

This is just a fraction of what they’ve done, but these light designs speak to my little industrial-loving heart.

Mycologic

Oyster, shitake, morel – our love of mushrooms compelled us to investigate how they grow. The Mycologic light takes it’s abstracted form from the branching characteristics of the mushroom’s root systems.

Calvino

The Calvino series of pendant lights pay homage to novelist Italo Calvino. As in his great utopic book Invisible Cities, our Calvino light suggests an idealized floating city, warmly lit at night.

Galiano

Comprised of two iconic West Coast woods, the Galiano light takes it’s name from our favorite island off the coast of Vancouver. The Galiano’s shade is made from Douglas Fir finished with natural oil and beeswax while the hanging Arbutus branch serves as the pull switch.

Kilter

Kilter emerges from the process of taking something old and making it new, transforming something forgotten into something of use.

Now what are you still doing here? Go to the Propellor site and see the mountain of awesomeness that they’ve been building!

All images from Propellor

Harvest Agency

Call me crazy, but I think we can all get along. I believe it to be a devastating lie to think that everyone in the design realm has to be in competition with each other. Design is collaborative. It’s a process of problem solving; thus, it is always best to have a few extra sets of eyes to point out the things you might not have thought about.

Plus, there’s a deep sense of understanding: “yeah, I keep absolutely everything too because I think I can make something out of it” type understanding.

We’re all mad here.- Cheshire Cat

Aside from being insanely good to look at, Harvest Agency understands that it is far better to be in collaboration than in competition. Trying to make it on your own is intimidating and so so so hard. It’s great to have a team cheering you on, sharing in your successes and “at least I learned a lot” moments.

I see my future in design as being part of something bigger than myself. I’m really not looking to get famous. I just want to be inspired and enriched in the creative process. I believe in surrounding myself with like-minded people. Maybe I’m crazy or maybe I’m on to something.

All images via

The What and the How

We’re going to a memorial this afternoon. Forever frozen at 27 years old. Beyond the shock and sadness of it all, there is a deep sense of gratitude. I realize that I am beyond blessed, and I’ve been feeling it a lot lately. I am endlessly thankful for the life I have been given.

There is also inspiration and motivation to live like a thankful person. I am learning the lesson that it’s really less about what you do and so much more about how you do it. The sudden end to such a young life is a testament to that. I’m such a work in progress, but I am trying to be mindful that everything in life is an opportunity: an opportunity to be kind, to love, to learn, to inspire, to be inspired…

I’ve come to know a few of my customers in the restaurant from simply serving them food. It has turned into hugs when they come in the door, and conversations about life, even some tears. It’s a funny thing when you start to realize that even waitressing can be deeply fulfilling. That it is the how you do it that makes all the difference.

His life was short. Mine could be too, or it could be long. All I know is that I need to cultivate more gratitude. I need to focus on the how, and not always on the “once I achieve ____ I will be happy.”

 

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Gratitude.

That’s it. Left another decade in my dust this morning. The joys of a December birthday when you’re a student means that there’s homework and studying for finals to be done before (and probably after) the birthday dinner. Been really reflective lately. Really reflective, and the common thread tying all my thoughts together is the act or practice of gratitude. I could go on and on and on about it, but it boils down to this: I am beyond blessed and I am shamefully ungrateful.

In a world where so many things go invisibly right- taps bring clean water, shops serve clean food and electricity switches bring electricity- it is ironically much easier to focus on the things that go wrong.- “Enough” by John Naish

In a culture that leaves me constantly striving to DO MORE, BE MORE, GET MORE- I forget to stop and say thanks for all the great things in my life (family, health, friends, food, shelter). Gratitude in todays culture has to be fought for- cultivated through choice and practice. If there’s a goal to be strived for in my 30’s- it’s to become an unbelievably grateful soul.

This video is worth a watch. It speaks volumes about not giving up, but I also think it speaks volumes about using what we DO have and squeezing every last drop out of it. I believe beautiful things can come from not only be grateful in thought, but also in action (making the most of what we’ve been given).

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. – Melody Beattie

 

What’s so Bad About an “Oops” Anyway?

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.

– Ken Robinson, TED Talk

You know when life gets so busy, how you feel like you are living underground, like you have only a headlamp on and you can only see what’s right in front of you, and you know the walls are close and you don’t have much room to move, so mixed with panic and exhaustion you keep putting one foot in front of the other hoping to find the end somewhere? Ever get that feeling?

There’s that twisted part of me that loves being busy like that. Getting one step closer to that finish line does wonders for my results oriented personality. The physical part of me hates it. My body hates the lack of sleep, and my brow becomes permanently furrowed as an act of protest to what I am forcing myself to do.

Truth be told, I can’t seem to get my brain to shut off until about 3am, and I hate the wasted hours of sleeping in. I am going to have hell to pay. I am just hoping it’s not until Christmas break- I can’t afford to get sick right now.

Tonight’s class was brilliant. My group and I did an amazing presentation on Karim Rashid and I am systematically overcoming my anxiety over doing presentations (this program loves making us do presentations).

But moreover, we discussed the topic of CONCEPT and how all our design projects will come from a concept. Continually coming up with fresh, innovative concepts is one of the biggest challenges facing us design students in the months to come, so thus began the conversation around creativity.

I stayed an extra 40 minutes after class continuing the discussion with my instructor. My mind just LOVED tonight’s class.

We watched a TED Talk that discussed how our culture systematically destroys creativity through our education system…

Give the video 60 seconds and I am sure it will pull you

The whole idea of how the fear of making a mistake is culturally ingrained in us and actually gets in our way of embracing deeper learning through trying things out (rather than just reproducing what we’re told to think/do). The quote at the top is a keeper. Such a solid reminder.

Bearing a Bit of My Soul

When I wake up in the morning, I stumble around in a daze. I need a solid 30 mins to suck back a couple “cuppas” (New Zealand slang… remember I lived there once?) before I can get serious about my day. Scotty always shakes his head at me when I begin to calculate how early I have to get up for something. I always factor in the minimum 30 minutes I need to let the caffeine soak in before I can begin to get ready. Generally, I get up a solid 1 1/2 hours before I have to leave. I take 40 mins to shower and be ready, but I can NOT just stumble out of bed and into the shower. I have to process this.

Our thanksgiving was low-key. Weekends are a bit of a luxury in this stage of our life. The need to catch up on homework and make enough money to pay the bills usually dominates our Saturday and Sunday. I can’t complain. We had our fun down south. Now it’s time to work. But that meant I suffered intense pangs of homesick thinking about my own family on the island gathered around my mom’s dining table. We ended up getting a “sympathy dinner” on Monday night consisting mainly of the previous night’s left-overs, but it thrilled us- especially me, who got her very own Tofurkey completely with Vegan gravy (which I demolished two days later).

But despite the fact that this weekend was filled more with responsibility than festivity, I came out of it feeling pretty bloody blessed.

Friday I was bed-ridden with the worst migraine, complete with room spins and total nausea. By Saturday, I had regained my will to live and poured my coffee into a “to-go” mug and went for a walk with my man to the beach.

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Seriously nature? Can you be any more awe-inspiring? I’ve said it in numerous posts (on this and many of my other blogs), nothing can beat the beauty of nature- it’s insanely spiritual. There are no words. Your eyes take it in and it communes with your inner being.

Cheeseball and truth.

Since then, I have adjusted my morning routine. My half hour of coffee ingestion is done on foot. Creation is the first thing to greet me in the morning, and the inspiration it lends is incomparable. While in Spain a few years ago, I had one of the most soul-shaking experiences of my life: experiencing Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. It is far more than just a building, it echoes creation, all of Gaudi’s work does. I have never been so inspired in my life than I was in that moment when I entered the Sagrada. To see how a man-built environment can be such a soulful experience lit a little flame in me. Design doesn’t have to revolve around the superficial. It doesn’t have to be about $500 throw pillows, or one-upping your neighbours. It can feed us, it can inspire us, it can move us in ways that we can’t put into words but can definitely feel.

Close friends and family know the journey I have been on in coming to this path in life: being a bit of a social-justice-environmentalist-bleeding-heart-i-wanna-change-the-world person who is passionate about creativity and design, and not just in myself, I love to hear about it in other people’s lives. For the most part, people tend to be self-deprecating when they show a painting, drawing or talk about an idea they have that might be considered artistic. But rarely have I ever come across anyones creative/artistic expressions and was anything less than inspired. I truly believe everyone has something to offer and they should really own it.

So how does a teenager who dreamt of being a doctor in Africa, who became psychology major and worked with marginalized young women in the foster system (that so many didn’t want to make time for, but can I just say that I have never witnessed such strength in any other person than these young women- I feel truly blessed to have met every one of them) proceed to the next step of pursuing interior design as a profession?

I have no clue.

But doors keep opening, and when I feel doubtful, I get a nudge- a “keep going, I’ve got plans for you”- I always thought that I would save the world by providing medical care to the third world, or by helping mend broken spirits and hearts to the marginalized. How design fits in, I do not know, but my values are still the same: I feel a responsibility to humanity, justice, and to the environment. The picture is so foggy right now but somehow design will fit that.

School, despite its moutain of work, is going so well. That colour assignment came back to me with a great mark and a note from my professor begging for my permission to make a copy of it to use in future classes. That insane drawing class I took this summer (the professor is famous around school for being the hardest on his students) came with an open invitation to apply at his architectural firm as an student-apprentice, and next week I have an interview with a designer downtown to see if I can do some kind of internship.

Doors. They’re opening. Yes, I am working my butt off, but I feel led. I feel encouraged.

I feel thankful.

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