I'm passionate about finding and sharing ideas that feed creativity and inspiration in this weary world. Because we're so surrounded with illusion and lies, I hope this blog will help others in their quest to get a bit closer to the truth. I'd also like to say that opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily mine or those featured here. Oh, and if you choose to use any images/words from this site, kindly obtain permission from all relevant parties and add the necessary links and references.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Art & Soul Retreat 2008

"Art & Soul is a paper, fabric, jewelry and fiber arts retreat taught by internationally recognized instructors." This is their 6th year hosting it. Take your pick from California, Oregon, Virginia or Italy - or if you have the funds, indulge in all! (graphic and quote courtesy of Art & Soul)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Interview: Organic Observations

The Henry Rollins Show is one of the few talk shows I can watch and not feel like my intelligence is being insulted. Henry was kind enough to do this interview while touring Europe. (image courtesy of henryrollins.com)

When you were a kid, what dreams did you have for yourself?

if I had any, I don’t remember them now. I had no idea of the future at all really. I didn’t think more than minute to minute.

What challenges do you face in your life and how do you get past them?
In my line of work, I am forced at some point to look at numbers and constantly compare. Ticket sales, up or down from last time, merch sales, how’s my company doing, up or down from last year, etc. This is not unique, it’s business but when it’s a human thing, like how many people are coming to the show, if it’s less than last time, you have to take that and sometimes it’s not all that easy. I deal with a lot of work and a lot of pressure and the nature of the work is such that I am almost always in performance or delivery mode. This can be very challenging. The way I deal with all this is to just get it done and go onto the next thing I guess. I live alone and spend a great deal of time alone, that is perhaps the best way to deal with the challenges I face. I don’t talk to someone about this stuff and that’s probably what keeps me able to hit it. I think intimate relationships are destructive to resolve and progress.

You are very politically and socially aware. What influences your views?
What I see. What I have been through. That’s it really. I see what I see, it’s all right in front of you, then I find the political issue the example falls under and I learn what I can. For instance, where I come from, the bad neighborhoods are still bad. What’s the problem? Why doesn’t anything change? You find out why and from that organic observation and the process that keeps that neighborhood bad, you derive opinions about policy and the mechanics of the politics. It all starts from a very street level take on things. I have been from Sweden to Belgium via Germany, Switzerland and Holland and no snow in sight in January. I have not needed more than a sweatshirt since I’ve been in Europe and it’s January. That tells me all I need to know about climate change. I have watched the weather get warmer for years because I am out here in this all the time. From observations like this, I go forth.

How were you able to convince the executives at ifc to take a chance on The Henry Rollins Show? (if this is too controversial, skip it)
Controversial? We pitched the show to them, they paid for a broadcast ready demo, we did it, they liked it and ordered a season and here we are together still four years later.

I think the world is always difficult to navigate for unconventional people. How do you deal with the demon of self acceptance?
I accept myself totally. I am what I am. I am very in touch with my inner motherfucker.

What brings you comfort and joy?
What brings me relief and a brief cessation from depression and anxiety, you mean? Nothing really. Comfort and joy don’t really exist in my world.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Interview: Living Abroad

Jen's Den of Iniquity is a fascinating blog about one woman's experiences as an American expat in London. I interviewed to Jen to find out more...

What dreams did you have for yourself as a child and are you living them out?
I did actually dream of living in London one day, back when I was a little girl reading Mary Poppins books. And I dreamt of traveling the world, so I guess I can tick that box too. I also dreamt of being a bus driver - that never materialized. ;-)

What was your impetus for becoming an expat and did you put a lot of thought/planning before moving?
I had just turned 30, recently divorced, feeling adrift and needing to take charge of my life. I was looking for something to turn my world upside-down. London was a thought that had always been in the back of my head, until I realized that if I was ever going to do it, the time was now. It took me about 4 months to get my plans together - getting rid of a house full of stuff, getting a visa, and getting over here. I think if I'd stopped to think about it for more than a nanosecond, I would have chickened out - but as it turned out, jumping in with both feet was the best thing I could have done, because it forced me to rely on myself. It was far from a smooth experience, but it gave me such incredible confidence to be able to make it happen.

You recently completed a trip around the world with stops along the way that included Beijing, Fiji, Australia and San Jose. Did you ever have any apprehension about long term travel and how did you get past it?
I was only nervous about not knowing what to expect. But once I got off the plane in Beijing, suddenly I was *doing it*, and the nervousness was gone. You're too busy trying to figure things out to be nervous! And after a month or so, you just find yourself living day to day, completely in the moment...and you never want it to end. Thinking back on my initial nervousness makes me laugh.

What qualities do you find that people around the world share?
99% of people around the world are good people, just trying to do the best they can. We all want the same things - peace, security, a better future for our families. There is much more that unites us than divides us.

What are our major differences?
Just opinions on how to best achieve peace, security and a better future for our families. That's all, really.

What brings you comfort and joy?
Confidence in myself, the love of family and friends, the smell in the air on the first sunny day of spring, watching my cat sleep with his paw over his nose. What more can you want out of life?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Not For Men Only

When most Americans think of anime, I think the first images that come to mind are either violent/sexist (naked women, rape, demons) or geared towards children (Hello Kitty, Sailor Moon). You may not be aware that you're missing out on many movies and series that are quite sweet and deal with mature subjects. One series that I like is Haibane Renmei. Don't let the guys have all the fun! (image courtesy of http://akira.anime.ru/)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Interview: Candy for the Soul

Kim and Jason are spreading the ideas of escaping adulthood and combating adultitis through their blog and business ventures. I spoke with them to better understand where their inspiration comes from. (pic and title taken from Kim and Jason's site)

Who or what were your influences? Jason: I have been influenced by a great many things. Most notable have been my parents and my faith in God. I have also been inspired by Charles Schulz (the creator of Peanuts), Bill Watterson (the creator of Calvin & Hobbes), George Lucas (the creator of Star Wars) and Sam Butcher (the creator of Precious Moments) to name a few.
Kim: There are so many inspiring people and groups who have influenced me along the way, such as Mr. Rogers, Dr. Phil, Patch Adams, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Alton Brown. I would not have the courage to walk this journey if it weren't for my relationship with God and the unending enthusiasm of both sides of our family.

Did you want to own your own business when you were a kid and if not, what did you want to do? Jason: When I was a kid, I originally wanted to be a superhero. But even more than that, as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be an artist of some sort. I loved to draw!
Kim: For the longest time I wanted to be a vet. My first venture as an entrepreneur came in junior high when I worked as a pet sitter in our neighborhood. I loved caring for those who needed help, which is why my first endeavor out of college was working as a kindergarten teacher. I've found there's little different about herding a bunch of cats and herding a classroom full of five-year-olds.

When you were starting out, were you afraid and/or overwhelmed? Jason: I have always been pretty shy. I was quite the chicken as a youngster. But after graduating college and getting married, I knew I wanted to do something with "Kim & Jason" and that passion has driven me to push past the fears. The vision I have for it is still quite overwhelming, but I just try to take it day by day, and my faith gives me the courage to face the unknown.
Kim: I've heard it said that if you are not overwhelmed by your vision, then you're not dreaming big enough. Jason and I have a very clear vision and although we haven't always known the exact steps to take to get there, our faith has helped turn our fear into productive energy. At the beginning we grew it slow and steady, with my kindergarten teaching salary to pay the bills. Sometimes I feel like it's actually harder now, since we have more invested, and have abandoned many safety nets along the way.
How long was it from the time that you came up with the concept to the time when it was put into action?
Jason: I first started drawing the characters as a sort of sappy way to win over Kim when we were dating. For the first few years, they were just a little thing between us. Eventually, people started commenting on the drawings and the gifts I was making for her. Some people wondered if a calendar I had made for Kim was available for sale. I spent the next few years just working on Kim & Jason on the side, and decided to go full force into it after we got married in 2000, which was about 5 years after the first little drawings. Of course, things have evolved quite a bit with the company since then.
Kim: Picking up where Jason left off, the first few years were mainly about the comic strip, some product development and increasing our business know-how. As we journeyed the vision became clearer and clearer, giving us the language and tools we use today to explain it all. (Adultitis, Escaping Adulthood, etc.)

Did you need a lot of support (whether emotional or financial) to realize this dream and did it come easily?
Jason: We've had SO MUCH support over the years from our parents, family, and friends (both emotional and financial.) It has certainly been anything but easy, although I am sure that the more "successful" we become, the more people will assume we were an overnight sensation. There have been a lot of financial sacrifices, sleepless nights, and anxious moments along the way. There are times we've wondered if we were crazy, but the belief that our friends and family had in us often kept us going.
Kim: One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was "A life of compare leads to a life of despair." We have had to remind ourselves of this many, many times. As our friends took the standard path of finding jobs with good benefits, buying homes, cars, having kids, etc., the differences in our choices have been stark. We have approached this business as an investment in ourselves and all of those we connect along the way.

You've created not so much a business, but a lifestyle company. Some of your endeavors are: Escape Plan TV, Club K&J, Lemonade Stand, K&J comic strip, podcasting and supporting at least 6 charities. How were you able to consolidate your ideas so that they make sense?
Jason: It is always a challenge to present a solid, cohesive message. It's especially difficult when you are so close to it. It's hard to tell if what you're presenting is really coming across as you've intended. We really started out almost exclusively focused on the comic strip and its characters, but the company has definitely evolved into the lifestyle company you describe. That constant evolution has kept us on our toes, making sure that it makes sense to people and that the message of improving your life by being more childlike is getting across.
Kim: As our vision has become clearer, the baby steps really started to add up and the new facets being born were just natural. We have surrounded ourselves with amazing people, who lift us up and challenge us to go beyond again and again. It all boils down to having the clear vision and working each day towards accomplishing the most logical actions steps. It's all been a very natural progression.

How do you find the time to run every aspect of the company (including speaking engagements)? Do you give over a lot of control to your co-workers?
Jason: It does take a lot of time and effort to manage all of the irons in the fire. One key is that we are passionate about what we do, so it never seems like work. We do delegate quite a bit to our co-workers. The secret is to put people in positions that take advantage of their natural interests and talents. For instance, Jenna is our Chief Sales Servant, handling most of the things related to our online store, The Kim & Jason Lemonade Stand. She is very creative and great with people, which makes her a perfect person to head up customer service. Kim is very organized and detail oriented, so she does a great job managing all of the travel schedules and details involved with the speaking side of things.
Kim: Honestly, I rely on divine intervention/inspiration to help me prioritize it all. Jason and I spend two hours each morning on self-development- exercising, meditation and breathing, praying, reading positive books, etc.. I think that is a secret to keeping our minds clear and open for decision making and creative thoughts.

What advice would you give to anyone who has a dream and is afraid to follow it? Jason: I would encourage them to think about what life will look like twenty years from now if you DON'T go for it. There are always fears and excuses when you start out, but you can't let that deter you. To me, the regret of not having even tried is much worse than any short-term fears that intimidate you.
Kim: Your dream is bigger than you, and it effects so many more people than just you. You have to go for it! Your role is a crucial piece to this big puzzle.

What brings you comfort and joy?
Jason: Doing what I love and loving the people around me. Oh, and watching football on a cold snowy day with a pot of chili cooking on the stove.
Kim: Every once in a while I get those moments, whether it's at a speaking engagement or writing a blog post, where I know that I am completely "on purpose," fulfilling what I was meant for. It overwhelms me with peace, comfort, and joy!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Interview: The Art of Manliness

Although the Art of Manliness is geared toward guys; to me, this site speaks to women as well. Brett McKay is the author and graciously agreed to an interview. (pic taken The Art of Manliness)

What were/are your influences?
My grandfather and my father are definitely big influences on what I write about on The Art of Manliness. I also read biographies of great men from history to see if I can learn anything from them. A few of the people from history that have influenced me include Teddy Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

What were your dreams as a child and did you overcome your fears and realize them?
I think I had the typical childhood dreams like becoming an astronaut or becoming a secret agent. When I found out you had to be good in math to be an astronaut and that you might have to kill people to be a secret agent, my dreams changed. From high school I've dreamed of becoming financially independent. I don't want to be wealthy. I just want to get to the point where I don't have to worry about money. Right now as a married law student, my wife and I are living hand to mouth and we're taking on debt. I can't wait until I can get rid of the debt and get to the point in our finances that we're not living paycheck to paycheck.

I haven't realized this dream yet, but I'm taking steps to get there. I created a blog called The Frugal Law Student when I started law school discussing the steps I'm taking to save money. It's helped me to be accountable with my money and it has grown enough that I actually make some money off of it.

Were you a Lost Boy and how did you find yourself?
I don't think I was the "Lost Boy" that I talk about on The Art of Manliness. I was your typical overachiever in high school and college. I made goals for myself and followed through with them. However, I know a lot of men my age who you can describe as "Lost Boys." They haven't finished school, they're stuck in dead end jobs and all they want to do is play video games. Many of my friends who were in this position would come to me for advice. That's one of the reasons I started The Art of Manliness.

How did you come to The Art of Manliness?
There were a few reasons I started The Art of Manliness. As mentioned above, I saw many men from Generation Y and X not wanting to grow up and take on adult responsibilities. They're less driven and motivated to make something of themselves. As a result many suffer depression or just have a general sadness about their lives. My goal with The Art of Manliness is to motivate these men to "Man up" and become adults.

The other reason I started The Art of Manliness was I felt there was a need for a men's publication without all the sex. Open up an issue of GQ or Men's Health and I'll guarantee you'll find some picture of an almost naked woman. I grew tired of the objectification of women and wanted to create something that a wife or girlfriend would feel comfortable letting their husband or boyfriend read. So, The Art of Manliness has all the tips and articles that men enjoy in men's magazines without all the sex.

The final reason I started The Art of Manliness was I grew tired of the lifestyle most men's magazines try to sell. It's expensive and frivolous. I hated how man's magazines would recommend a wardrobe with shirts that cost $300. What average man has $300 to drop for a new shirt? So, I wanted a men's publication that encourages a lifestyle that an average man can afford. So, you won't find suggestions for expensive clothes, cars, or luxury trips on The Art of Manliness.

A lot of women nowadays are dating fatherless men (my term for men who've never had a father figure) and find themselves disappointed. What qualities do you think a woman should look for in a man?
I don't know if a man is the right person to ask this question, but here's my take. Look for a man who respects others. Too many men today walk around with a chip on their shoulder. Watch they way a man treats other people because that's probably they way he's going to treat you.

Look for a man who is not afraid of commitment. Fewer young people want to commit to people, organizations, or jobs. If you want to find a man who you know will commit to you in the long run, look for a man who already has a history of commitment. Men that are involved in a community organization, attend church regularly, or who volunteer regularly demonstrate that they are willing to at least commit to something. The chances of them wanting to commit to you are better.

Look for a man who takes his life seriously. Most young men these days are just boys in mens' bodies. They'd rather play video games than go to school. They don't have goals for themselves. When you start getting to know someone, ask them what they're goals are. If they don't have any, that could be a sign they're not taking their lives seriously.

From reading your blogsite, I can tell that you genuinely like and appreciate women. What are qualities that you think a Found Man should look for in a woman?
I think a Found man should look for a woman who motivates them to be better people. One of the things I love about my wife is she is always pushing me to be better than I was before and I encourage her to live out her dreams. I honestly don't know what I would do without her. I wouldn't be where I am today without my wife.

What gives you comfort and joy?
My wife. She's always there for me when I'm discouraged and need a boost. Even when I'm not down, it always brings my joy to talk to her on the phone or go out on dates with her.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Interview: a gorgeous situation of goodluck

Emma Magenta was born in Sydney, Australia. Her drawing talent was recognised at an early age when she was commended for ‘The Best Depiction of Samson’ in a school art competition. Later, and perhaps on this merit alone, Emma attended art school for several years. World travel, palmistry and martial arts beckoned her from her studies, but eventually Emma’s art called her home. (bio and pic from Random House Australia)

Is Emma Magenta your given name?
Magenta was the name given to the female character that i would draw on everything and everyone for many years....over time i became known as Emma Magenta...now i am officially Emma Magenta.

What/who are your influences?
So many things...memories, people whom i meet in passing, whom i observe from a distance and those whom i have worked with. Animals of all kinds, nature in general...different objects that overtime become like a talisman, music especially, books in a big way, humour, my life experience and the conversations that emerge with friends out of intense personal histories...

Is Third Drawer Down Gallery the first place you were shown and how did it come about?
No, i have been exhibiting since about 1994 in various places, but TTD is the first place where i have agreed to representation. I was approached to create a limited edition Tea Towel and handkerchiefs and then Abi Crompton (Director of TTD) decided to start a gallery to exhibit all the original works of the artists with whom she has worked...we each have an annual solo exhibition.

What are the challenges you face when creating?
Not boring myself or seeking familiar ground as a way of safety...to constantly surprise myself and amuse myself by what i am doing and to at least break through into a new area of my own creative potential. To always be honest and not seek confirmation from anything other than my own feeling of delight in the process.

How did you first come to be published?
i was working in Berkelouw Books in Paddington and i had alot of my work on the wall that i had been creating while i sold books...a man involved in publishing came into the book store and saw my work and offered me a book deal...it was pretty much like a gorgeous situation of goodluck meeting joyful hard work.

What measures did you take in order to get your work shown? How did you know what exactly to do?
i gave up doing the typical method of hunting down gallery space and decided to embrace the limitations of my situation (ie: being stuck in a casual job to fund the creative life) and make the bookshop which is such a public space; my own domain...my gallery and just do the work and connect with people passing through and by and i just gave my work away for free if anyone was into it... until after awhile people began to commission me. Now i work full-time as a writer and artist. i just got into the magic that coincides with being non-attached to outcomes and after awhile i ended up just finding myself where i wanted to be before i stopped trying to make it happen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What's a Girl To Do?

Be still my heart... 10 weeks of Jane Austen! PBS is doing a series titled "The Complete Jane Austen" that has already begun to air, but cheer up my pets - there are still 8 more blissful weeks to go. Persuasion was achingly poignant and I wait with bated breath for the less popular Northanger Abbey which is on this Sunday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

For the Amazon In All of Us

Great Hera! I heard the Wonder Woman theme on the radio this weekend and was completely bitten. I did a search on all things WW and came up with this crazy underoo-esque set at the Bust Boobtique. Be sure to also check out their magazine Bust as well. By the way, lasso of truth not included.

Monday, January 14, 2008

No Apologies

Love means never having to say you're sorry. I never quite understood that line... Anyway, with these nifty stickers you'll be the star of your own love story. You can snag them at Warmbiscuit.com

Monday, January 7, 2008

Are You A Robot?

As a frustrated and unpublished artist and writer, I'm always relieved to find people who understand the difficulties of doing not only what you love, but also doing it well. Laini Taylor is one of those people. The title of her site, Not For Robots, is enough to garner a second look. Her collection of essays which include brainstorming and my personal nemesis, uh favorite - getting published, are priceless.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Gorgeous Sense of Hope

Fab title, don't you think? Emma Magenta has quickly become a favorite artist of mine. Her quirky "Magentaisms" combined with her seemingly guileless drawings make my heart giggle! Her books can be found at Amazon and her art is featured at Third Drawer Down Gallery - when you get there, click on the Emma Magenta link under Stockroom Artists.(pic from Random House Australia)

Friday, January 4, 2008


This blog/store makes me sooo happy! It took me an impossibly long time just to pick what image I wanted to use for this post. Spiralling, owned by the lovely Velda, is a feast for the eyes and a warm blanket for the soul. The actual store is under construction as we speak, but don't let that put you off. Kick back and take a look, I just know you'll see something that'll make you smile.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Maggie Beer Burnt Fig Jam

This is a really lovely jam. It's not at all like most preserves which can be cloyingly sweet. The caramelization of the figs provides just the right amount of added flavor. They have a beautiful website filled with lots of goodies and I just found out that they have a cooking program in Australia! You can download an episode if you'd like to check it out. They're located at Maggie Beer.

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