Sunday, August 19, 2012

Curieux et de plus en plus curieux! 10 minutes pour créer n'importe quoi!

Coucou possums.

Je voulais traduire tout ce que je venais d'écrire dans mon dernier message en Anglais pour vous faire le même message en Français. Vraiment. C'était mon intention. Et ça l'est toujours. Mais il s'avère que je ne suis pas très efficace dans les traductions le soir tard et les 12 cloches de minuit viennent de sonner. FORT! Vous ne les avez pas entendues?

Y a plus personne la haut dans ma tête. Demain, par contre, mes possums, demain est un AUTRE JOUR! Même si c'est techniquement aujourd'hui déjà. Donc je vous promets que dès ma petite course à pied de 2 heures sera finie, je serai à vous. Idées claires, motivée et pleine d'énergie :)

Alors ce soir je vous laisse avec une petite marionnette. Cette marionnette fait partie de mon projet 'Le MEGA nettoyage de printemps d'enfer' qui m'octroie pas mal de mon temps en ce moment.

Ce n'est pas sensé être une oeuvre d'art. DUH!! Ca se voit non? Ce n'est pas plus qu'une simple marionnette: fait en 10 mts de bric et de broc parmi ce qui se cachait dans les tiroirs de mon atelier et dont je devrais me débarrasser.  Mais je ne peux pas :(

(La tête est plutôt rigolote non?)

Alors j'ai triché! Je suis très rusée quand il s'agit de me permettre de créer, et ne pas jeter des objets. Les pieds faisaient parti d'un vieux piano. Les bras de vieux tubes de gouaches scolaires.

Je me suis lancée un défi qui consiste à utiliser tout ce que j'ai, sous peine de m'en débarrasser d'ici 3 mois. Il y a un double défi en ce que j'ai limité le temps de création pour chaque pièce à 10 mts en forme de mini projet. Il paraît que cela aura pour effet d'encourager et stimuler plus de créativité dans mes idées. On documentera mon progrès ensemble :)

Bonne nuit les petits

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Curiouser and curiouser. A secret play date and interview with Maryann Devine

(Rappel pour les Frenchophones: Pour le Français, ça vient! ça vient! Ce sera un plus tard ce soir après que j'ai fini de traduire l'interview avec Maryann Devine)

Last Thursday evening I finally allowed my Curiosity to get the better of me.

Often my Curiosity nags at me like one of my mess monsters negotiating for a turn on the iPod. It pulls first gently, then more insistently at my mind. Ok - my mess monsters don't really do anything gently, they just full on nag. But I liked the image...

Unfortunately often, far too often, I ignore it. At the first spark of Curiosity a Pirate takes over my mind, brandishing the 'Curiosity killed the cat' cutlass and menacing threats like 'Are you crazy? Remember what happened to Pandora!!' Sometimes though, he's just really parental and boring, guiltifying me with, 'Stop being childish and get your project done (or you'll walk the plank). You have a deadline y'know.

So I switch back into 'grown up' mode and let Curiosity melt into a distant wave on the horizon of  my mind as I struggle with writing the content to my Project (with a capital P, because it's big and amazing). Sigh.

I've been pussy-footing around about signing up for some online classes for the last month.  They sounded like delicious fun and full of curiosity - absolutely no sign of dead cats or a panic stricken Pandora. Without fail, however, each time I'd go for the 'buy' button, I'd be Pirated. Yup! My inner Pirate would rear his ugly head, asking me if I was Serious, if this was Serious, if I didn't have more conventional, more business-school ways of advancing on my Project with a capital P.

Luckily, Last Thursday was different. I escaped past my dozing Pirate, bit the bullet and signed up for an amazing class called 'The secret play date' organised by the motivational and very lovely Maryann Devine.

For most of the hour I scribbled words (you know me) that evoked qualities I'd like for my business onto a huuuuge piece of Kraft paper. The others worked on their own projects.

Anyway - I sooo loved the class that I just had to interview Maryann and find out how she'd come up with such a brilliant idea. (Secretly wishing of course that I could come up with equally as brilliant an idea for inspiring you all. Maybe soon... in the mean time - try play dating!)

Without further ado... meet Maryann and take a peek into a true Kindergarten Mind and the world of the secret play date.

Moi: Maryann, what is the concept behind your business and blog 'Kindergarten mind?' 
Maryann: Kindergarten mind is the state of being open and curious. It's a mindset that assumes creativity is the norm.
In that kindergarten state of mind, you go ahead and paint or noodle on an instrument or invent a new twist on hopscotch -- it never occurs to you that you can't. You never question your own creativity or ability.
In my imaginary kindergarten, your desk is optional. When your body needs to move, you get up and dance. When you're sleepy, napping is the logical and acceptable next step.
You can play on your own or gather up your friends.
It's a safe space, but also stimulating -- spaces that are soothing and spaces that are raucous.

Moi: Did you just 'give up your day job' on a whim and a light bulb moment or did you develop the concept over time? 
Maryann: Kindergarten Mind emerged slowly. In 2006, I left my position as director of marketing and public relations for an opera training program to do similar work as a consultant.
But my work kept evolving. I went from PR strategizing for arts clients to teaching their staff to use social media to helping artists get their amazing work noticed and now, enabling people to discover their own creativity, strengths, and resources.

Moi: Do you have a vision for the future? 
Maryann: My wide-angle view of the future is a world where we all tap into our creativity as easily as we call on our linear thinking skills. A world where we all see clearly that the answers are inside us, rather than outside, in expert hands.
I believe that *everyone* has a deep well of creativity, no matter what people may have told them, no matter what they do for a living.
We are *all* creative, and the more we bring that creativity into play, the richer our lives become. Yes, creativity makes you better at your job, but more importantly, it makes for a deeply satisfying life.
As for the future of my business, I prefer to let it unfold organically. Six years ago, when I struck out on my own, I had no inkling that I'd be teaching people around the world to look inside and tap into the creative genius we all hold, and I'm delighted.

Moi: That's very much my vision for education on a global scale too. Where did the idea of 'secret play dates' come from? Tell us more about the spark behind the idea and how you have developed it. 
Maryann: Secret Play Date is like a lovely braid woven from different converging threads. 
In 2010, I found myself with the urge to make things. You see, I spent many years pursuing a career as an artist, but I intentionally gave it up and hadn't made anything with my hands in at least ten years. 
Another thread was the fact that artists often dislike marketing their work, and dealing with the business end of the field. I wondered, what if they could do it using techniques and materials that they loved, instead of word-processing programs and spreadsheets?
And then, why limit that to artists? Wouldn't all those business-y tasks be more fun with crayons and markers? 
So I started experimenting with the idea and sharing it on my blog. Then I invited people to join me, and the Society of the Secret Play Date was born, a virtual clubhouse where we could hang out, play with our projects, and cheer each other on. 
What I didn't expect was that Secret Play-Dating could be the catalyst for so many realizations and break-throughs for each of us. We are so disconnected from creativity and play in our lives that it truly seems like magic.

Moi:  Can play dating help people who don't consider themselves creative? 
Maryann: Yes, yes, yes! It's my *mission* to help people see that they *are* creative, that we all are. 
Play-Dating can open people's eyes to their own creative potential. And Play-Dating helps you flex your creative muscles, so to speak. The more you engage your creativity, the more it becomes available to you, whenever you need it.

Moi: What's your favourite technique for getting out of a creative rut (or any rut for that matter)? 
Maryann: The thing that works best for me is switching things up. For instance, if I'm having a hard time writing for the blog, putting pressure on myself is only going to make things worse. 
So I'll temporarily switch out of writing and start drawing -- have a Play Date. Or switch from trying to write a blog post to writing out some kind of day-dream. Or go for a walk. Or do Dance of Shiva.
Once I stop trying to force the writing (or whatever), it starts to flow again.

Moi: Has play dating helped you personally? 
Maryann: Oh, yes. Enormously. I paint and draw now, with a joy and absorption that I haven't felt for many years.
I write more easily and frequently. I have these huge mental leaps forward in the internal issues that (of course) effect my business and my life. In the last two years, my work has evolved so rapidly.
When you see that you can introduce curiosity and play into your life and work, it changes everything.

Moi: As a small business owner, what does your daily routine look like? Do you have one? Are there any special rituals you follow? 
Maryann: The primary rule that I observe is that mornings are off-limits to meetings, appointments, and errands. I do my best creative work in the mornings, so I work to preserve that time for myself.
Moi: You speak of Shiva Nata? What is that exactly and how do you use it in your work?  
Maryann: Shiva Nata, or Dance of Shiva, is a body-mind practice that turns you into an epiphany machine! If Google it and find videos of people practicing Shiva Nata, you'll see moves that remind you of martial arts.
You learn patterns of movement, in Shiva Nata, and then completely un-learn them. New neural pathways are formed. You start to see your own patterns and how to take them apart and create new from old. 
My husband once said, when I was trying to describe it, that it was like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time -- yes, except a bazillion times harder!
And that's what makes it so effective. 
I'm certified to teach Dance of Shiva by the #2 world expert, Havi Brooks. But rather than teach it on its own, I plan to super-charge my classes and workshops with it.  
Maryann, you are one of the most interesting and inspiring people I have ever met. The the secret play date did wonders in getting rid of that Pesky Pirate too. I owe you one ;-) Hey possums, anyone wanna come play dating with me?

 Hopefully I've tempted you to join in so here's some extra info on Maryann and her contact details:

Personal awesome-illuminator and perspective-shifter Maryann Devine creates the ideal conditions for discovery, and safe spaces for growing your creative genius. You can find her at and @maryanndevine on twitter.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Out of the blue: un peu de Franglais SVP

Alert! Alert! Attention!! Everybodyyyyyyyyyy
I have an EXTREMEMENT IMPORTANT announcement to make. 
This blog is now fully bilingual :)
I also have a few big 'MERCIs' to say but you'll have to read right to the bottom for those.

Enfin on est bilingue, MAIS pour le Français, rassurez vous, c'est  un peu plus bas. En fait. PFFF Mon DIEU! J'ai écrit un tome!!  C'est juste un peu plus loin EN DESSOUS DE L'ANGLAIS. Promis :)
Honestly possums, I realised today that myself and I have been having a coherency problem together. Just doesn't make sense, does it ;-). Only last night I heard myself saying that I was SHOCKED that the local international school was churning out brilliant young minds that hardly spoke a word of French. While it's true that technically French isn't exactly the most 'necessary' language in the world to learn for anyone other than those living here...

 Off the topic but...Did you know that creating something while you're trying to think about a major issue is a great way of getting some space around it?

When you live in a 'foreign' country, you have the most amazing opportunity to understand another culture, the whys and wherefores of its cultural quirks even though some may still frustrate you IMMENSELY, bridge a few gaps and rev up some ultra useful neural connections during the whole mental gymnastics routine of trying to think in two languages at once. But these kids come out still practically speaking only English. :( Sad. Sigh. Sad. Missed opportunity. Bleuch.

 Did you know that some whales sleep vertically. I found that out recently. Out of the blue ;-)

That got me thinking about my own blog. Fact: I express myself a zillion times better in English than in French. SO??? Is that any reason not to try? I got a comment on my last post from a lovely French calligrapher who struggled to read through everything in English but who was so encouraging about me starting back again. How nice. How Humbling. 

 Major reality check on that one! Hello! Aaaaaange! Exactly WHERE do you LIVE? Hmmmm. So I've decided it's time to at least partially grow up, become a bit more coherent and give myself yet another challenge. Not start a completely bilingual school, that finishes at 3.30pm at the latest, has after school sport and theatre groups, and includes a more zany approach to teaching every possible subject than the current, cramp in the hand style. NOT... YET! OMG NO! that's for a couple more years down the track. 

Whales, even hand made, painted up, scrappy ones don't worry much about the dark. But I do when I can barely see anything other than the words I'm typing and only because the screen is backlit. Pity because the what-feels-like-a-sea-wind is gorgeous. So bear with me while  I drag my wee Mac back inside. Goodbye outside pink table cloth. Hello inside pink table cloth :)

I quite simply am going to brave the rampant inner critic, the monsters in my head, not to mention any rebel Gremlins racing round up there and try my hand at writing all my posts in both languages. This will probably be unintentionally funny in French. It's also likely to mean that I'm going to have to shorten them.
Just when I was on a roll ;-) 

My word for the day
Ode to where I live.
Out of love for the country that has adopted me
Time to be fully who I am, where I am.

Erm. A scruffy looking rainbow fish ;-) Pardon the photo. The family took off with my big camera and I'm not iPhone compatible yet.

Next week I'm going to be interviewing this amazingly interesting woman who holds secret play dates for grown ups so they can destuckify themselves when they have an ultra personal and slightly miffing project - or not- to work on. Like me.

 I've signed up for one next week. Will let you know what it's like with the interview. 

AND I SAID THERE WOULD BE THANKYOUS so MILLE MERCIS to all of you lovely possums who commented on last week's post. I was really chuffed :) Touched even. WoW! I've written back to you if you want to check that out. Putting a bit more stuff on my Facebook page recently too so pop by and 'Fancy' it (as my Pirate English speak calls it) so we can chat a bit more often.
Much love


Coucou. S'il te plaît, faut pas rire. Je vais me mettre à écrire mes postes en Français et en Anglais. Pourquoi? Parce que je viens d'apprendre, juste l'autre jour, que l'école 'internationale' près de chez moi ne sort PAS des enfants bilingues. SHOCKING! En fait, il y en a plein qui parlent à peine le Français à la sortie. Je trouve ça triste. Une opportunité manquée pour comprendre plus profondément une autre culture, même si tout n'est pas facile à comprendre, et n'en parlons pas d'ô combien ça stimule des neurones d'essayer de penser en deux langues à la fois. Je te parle en connaissance de cause ;-) Voilà. Alors je me suis dit:
 "Ange, tu habites en France, pratiquement tous tes amis sont Français et tu adores le pays qui t'a adoptée. ALORS POURQUOI T'OBSTINER à n'écrire qu'en Anglais?" "Bonne question", je me suis répondue... "Mais j'ai peur. Peur de faire trop de fautes. Peur de ne pas savoir m'exprimer convenablement et surtout PEUR de me faire mal comprendre car j'ai un sens d'humour bien 'Australien' qui n'est pas toujours facile à traduire. J'aime pas offenser. Pourtant, j'adore faire rire." Et partager ... 

Savais-tu que de créer quelque chose, n'importe quoi, avec ce que tu as sous la main pendant que tu réfléchis sur un sujet qui te tient à coeur, ça stimule des solutions intéressantes et créatives aussi? Ca décontracte et permet une autre façon d'aborder un sujet qui coince.

Donc, avant de me lancer dans l'ENORME PROJET de monter une école entièrement bilingue avec des heures adaptées aux enfants et des moyens d'enseignement bien plus créatifs que ce qui existent aujourd'hui, je vais commencer par faire un tout petit pas.  Je vais te demander d'être patient(e) avec moi. De me pardonner mes fautes d'orthographe et mes tournures de phrases maladroites. Tu vois, quand on maîtrise une langue, et on adore communiquer, nos 'monstres intérieurs,' nos gremlins ( ces pensées négatives qui nous empêchent d'avancer sur un projet quelconque parce c'est 'en dehors du cadre de nos compétences habituelles) commencent à s'agiter et d'essayer de nous convaincre par tous les moyens de NE PAS PRENDRE LE RISQUE. What ever that is! EUCHHH - plutôt mourir que d'avoir HONTE. Gloups!
J'ai décidé de ne pas les écouter. 
J'ai envie d'essayer. 
J'ai envie de profiter du fait que j'ai de la chance d'habiter dans un super pays avec des amis que j'adore et de les inclure dans mes pensées de tous les jours que j'exprime par mon blog. Et j'ai envie aussi de m'exprimer dans ma langue natale parce que, tout compte fait, j'ai toujours adoré écrire en anglais depuis que je suis toute petite. 
Alors? T'es avec moi? On prend la route bilingue? 
Ca va faire des articles assez longues. Mais tu peux sauter la partie en Anglais et aller directement à la Case Départ, à la partie en Français. Nous allons parler de plein de choses. 
L'art. L'art de se surpasser. L'art d'avancer et l'art de calligraphier des mots qui nous élèvent le moral :) 

L'art de bidouiller des objets rien que pour se changer des idées et ne pas se prendre au sérieux tout le temps.
L'art de se lacher et de se permettre la possibilité d'une bonne surprise!

Je voulais remercier Coeur Canelle, une calligraphe qui m'a fait la grande surprise la semaine dernière d'avoir lu le blog et laissé un commentaire si gentil, même si elle n'étais pas sure d'avoir tout compris en Anglais. LA! LA! C'était la honte!! En deux langues dès aujourd'hui Cannelle, maladroitement peut-être, mais en deux langues. C'est promis. Et qui sait? Peut-être que je finirai par t'amuser un peu. Te 'chatouiller l'humérus l'humourus' comme on le dit en Anglais. Espérons :)
La semaine prochaine je vais interviewer une femme qui m'inspire beaucoup parce qu'elle organise des rdv secret 'jeu d'enfant' pour grande personnes!! L'idée me botte beaucoup! Si tout se passe bien, j'aurai ressorti mes plumes et pinceaux aussi. Entretemps je suis sur Facebook si tu veux passer faire coucou.

Mmm - profitez du beau temps qui nous envahi en ce moment. L'été bat son plein.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Finding Freedom

Six months is a flipping long time to go without posting but I needed a break. I know, I should've warned you, let you down gently and maybe apologized a bit. But I didn't feel like it. It wasn't exactly running away from you or hiding, or even being petulant. It was more of a gentle taking back of my own space and time. And it happened naturally, almost without me realizing it. (Damn spell check keeps changing all my 's'ses to zeds and I don't recognize the new look of Blogger at ALL! They snuck that one in while I was away ;-)

The last six months have been spent SE.RI.OUS.LY sorting through the clutter and losing the extra weight. Literally. Like a whirlwind I've been emptying out every nook and cranny of objects that take up as much space in my mind as they do in my home and studio. OUT! OUT! I don't need you any more. Object, you are no longer a reflection of who I am now. You were once dear to me. And yes - I could make you into something ever so amazing. But your 'potential' fogs my mind and diverts me from the BIG MISSION I have chosen to sink my teeth into. Yes dear object, let's just say you would be better suited to some other Pinterest craft fanatic, and we must part ways.

Goodbye chandeliers with crystals. If we are destined to fall in love again, I trust our paths will meet at a local brocante some time in the future. Eternal optimist that I am ;-) Farewell drawers full of craft supplies that my mess monsters have shown absolutely no interest in. Ever. For They are not Me. I have to remember and respect that. Craft supplies, you will have a lovely time in another child's home being lovingly scrunched up, stamped on and scribbled over. Good bye vintage boxes that I don't want to fill up for the sake of it. Au revoir thousands of shiny bits and pieces that glitteringly consume too much space, in my head...

Talk about the outer life needing to be a reflection of the inner life!

And now, given so much fabulously Spacious Space, Euphoric Emptiness,  Clinching Clarity there is room for me to create. Once again. Oh Gloooorious Gleeful ME :)

Just between you and me, it's also a tad helpful that the mess monsters have disappeared for a couple of weeks and my 'space' is now handsomely accompanied by a generous SILENCE!

Anyhoo (as Kasey would say), I'm back. Happy to be back. Ready to be back. Itching to write.
Dearest Itch - I MISSED YOU! Thank goodness you've returned :)

I know it always was, but I claim this now as my space. Basically I'm just going to spill out anything that comes from my heart, as if I was talking to myself, or one of my best friends. YOU may take from it what you wish. Pray that with all this space, my sense of humour will come back too... It used to be wicked but got a little self conscious here in France due to cultural differences. We shall have to coax it out again, n'est ce pas? A wicked sense of humour is really quite essential and fun to have around. Life's a drag with out it.

 As ever, a big, uncluttered, spacious dose of love to you all