The air is lighter, the breeze is warmer and everything seems just that little bit easier with Spring finally kicking into gear. (Of course the grass is also longer and I need to buy a lawnmower, but let’s not let practical facts get in the way of the enjoyment!)
I have been busy, but not with anything I can show you here. Filling out paperwork. Paperwork about my son’s special needs, paperwork about child support and why I think I should receive it on behalf of my children, paperwork about how I would like my children to be supported by both their parents. Numbers, facts, dates, numbers, and histories. My brain is full of it, and my bench is covered in piles of papers sorted into piles (until I realise that one supporting document from one pile is needed to support the issue another pile is addressing, and then chaos reigns supreme.)
It isn’t getting me down too much, but it does mean that all sewing, creating, etc is on hold while I address it all, and still try to be present with the kids. That is a bit dangerous because it means that I have time to order……fabric, notions, bits and bobs. As little packages of zips, of fasteners, of webbing arrive my kids roll their eyes at how boring it all is. and I get excited at the possibilities that each little package holds. I have so many things I want to be making!!
Webbing and key fob notions….. so many ideas!
I am using the time productively though – I have finally started a products and prices page (you can see the link at the top of this page) so that those of you who want to place an order now have some reference points to do so! I still plan on re-stocking my Etsy shop, but this can help in the interim!
However the two most exciting things to report are that I now have an iPhone 6 which means that my photos are so much clearer, and that it arrived in time for a behind the scenes tour of Floriade, our annual floral celebration. It was beautiful being there before the crowds arrived, with the morning dew on the flowers and the air so clear. I may have got a bit carried away with photos…….
These flowers were planted after a Floriade spectacular a few seasons ago by apprentices who used a bull dozer to plant them randomly along the shores of the lake.
These giant snails next to a floral wall spelling out Floriade are beautifully colourful!
Tulips, tulips, everywhere!
The theme of Floriade 2014 is Passion. This is the automotive garden reflecting the passion people have for their cars!
The view from the Ferris Wheel allows you to see the plantings from a different perspective!
Passion for fashion reflected in the argyle and houndstooth patterns, while art is reflected in the garden of coloured pencils!
The family, with all it’s wonderful diversity, was represented in this garden, and the plantings are surrounded by figures representing different family groups.
The family garden from a different perspective!
I have also started on a fitness and health campaign, and, although I am still struggling to get out of bed each morning, am starting to enjoy the benefits of eating healthy, tasty and nutritious meals and regular exercise. (I know! Who knew that the experts were right?!)
We have a few days left until our two week school holidays, a camping trip, some birthdays, and hopefully some time to get out and about and have fun with my chicks. I hope that your Spring or Autumn has started some new habits or new joys for you too.
One of the things that I didn’t expect with this whole ‘being a human’ thing was getting to meet and hang out with all the other ‘humans’, and being introduced to people who are experts in their social media fields in order to learn from them. (Okay, so I really didn’t think any of this through at all did I??)
The highlight of the experience for me so far has been meeting the other humans who are part of the Human Brochure. It is because of their company and contributions that I have been able to enjoy the Discovery Events so much. We are an eclectic bunch, and bring different strengths and levels of engagement to the event. Which means that it is fun getting to know other people, but also means that I am now viewing everyday life around me in a very different way. There are some extremely talented and dedicated photographers in the group. As a result I look at the spectacular sunset out my back window each day and know that it will be captured, and captured beautifully, by at least 3 or 4 of my fellow humans. Following them on Instagram is a delight! People with a passion sharing their passion in beautiful images is a wonderful way to spend some time each day!
A brochure of humans reflected in a sculpture at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden
I am sure to leave someone out if I try to recommend photographers to follow from the group, so instead will recommend that you look at the feed on the website to see the daily amazing images these people post!
Humans collaborating on an Instawalk with Lauren Bath
There are amazing food bloggers, elite athletes, mummy bloggers, people who can manage to be using social media for instant responses while still holding down their day jobs, Uni students, fashionistas, and the list goes on. Some have a massive social media following, while others are smaller and more ‘niche’. What we all have in common is that we use social media, and we love living in Canberra!
Some human profiles!
The organisers of the Human Brochure arranged two different sessions for we 101 to spend time with experts in the field of social media. The first session was held with two travel writers, Kerry Heaney and Christine Pfieffer.
It was interesting hearing their advice on using social media from the travel perspective. Some of it doesn’t translate well to those using social media for business etc, and some of their experiences were quite different from mine, but it was certainly a privilege to hear their perspectives. Kerry is a food and travel writer, while Christina specialises in travel video blogs. Her list of photographic equipment certainly had a few members of the audience getting animated!
Floating head installation at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens
The second was an Instawalk with Australia’s top Instagrammer, Lauren Bath. I didn’t really know what to expect of an Instawalk, but soon realised that whether I learnt anything about using Instagram more effectively or not, it was a great way to meet more of the ‘humans’. We had a rainy grey morning, but with the Sculpture Gardens of the National Gallery close at hand, the conditions made for some awesome pictures! And we did get to pick Lauren’s brain about the most effective ways to use Instagram to promote Canberra (our aim in the brochure) and generally.
Industrial remnants (my interpretation) installed at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens
The interesting aspect of all of this, however, is that many of the ‘humans’ are in fact experts already, so learning from them has been of benefit to all of us. The photographers have been sharing their tips, lenses and shoots with each other – professional and non-professional, and many a discussion has been had over twitter vs Instagram, how to manage a number of platforms, and various other aspects of social media. Which means that the learning isn’t confined to the two workshops – it is ongoing and collaborative, and really quite inspiring! I know that I am going to walk away from this experience with a whole lot more than just a deeper knowledge of the town that I live in. New friendships and new skills are the absolute icing on the cake!
Sculptural plants and curved concrete in an installation at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the kick-off event for the Human Brochure, and how everyone was worried about meeting each other, what to wear, etc. And I haven’t really written much since. Partly because I was flat out preparing for the markets, and managing family issues, but partly because at some point we will have a separate blog for our ‘brochure’ blogs. But if I leave it much longer, as usual, all my words of wisdom and wit will have dissipated. (And probably have a bit already!) However if I write about it all in one post it will be pages long as our experiences have really been quite wonderful – and varied – so I am going to write a series! (Wahoo – so professional!)
The launch was really quite wonderful. It was held at the Nishi Gallery, in the New Acton precinct of Canberra. This is an area that has been developed/re-developed over the last few years and it really is quite different from any other part of Canberra, and is very special. I haven’t spent a lot of time there of late. When I first found myself single again, a few friends and I would meet at the very lovely Parlour Wine Room. It was one of those places where I didn’t feel daggy and old, even when surrounded by pretty young things, and where the wine, food and atmosphere was sophisticated but fun. In short I loved it. Then there was a terrible fire and the bar was badly damaged. It reopened recently but I haven’t made it back since then. And of course in the intervening period I have had major life changes which have meant that I have really become quite hermit like. It is ironic really. At a time when I am growing into my own skin and feeling more comfortable about where I am in life, I have also been battling a feeling of not fitting in socially anymore. So the opening event was an interesting challenge for me on several levels. Would I feel out of place, would I hate socialising again, and would I wonder what on earth I had signed up for.
The answer to all of that is ‘no’. The other ‘humans’ selected to take part in this adventure are lovely, warm, and open. The opening event, held against a backdrop of an exhibition “Straight Face” by the artist Luke Chiswell, was wonderful. A great atmosphere, beautiful food, interesting talks, and a chance to meet and chat with some of the other 101. While all the photographers were whipping out their cameras and phones were taking selfies left right and centre, my phone stayed in my bag all night, and I was okay with that (until I came to write this post and realised that I had no images to attach to it!). My words are my strength and I didn’t want to be missing any of the action by fumbling around trying to take a picture that wouldn’t work as well as the many others that were being taken. (well – that is my justification now – but don’t worry – I learnt my lesson and have pictures for the other events I have attended!)
We had a welcome speech by the head of ACT Tourism which made me realise that this whole adventure is really quite big. Unique. Pretty awesome. And I get to be part of it! I truly hadn’t appreciated the depth of time, effort, planning and industry involvement that was going into this until that night. Here I was thinking about whether they thought I was doing an okay job using social media to talk about where I live. What I hadn’t appreciated was that Industry would be working so hard to make sure that I had amazing things to write about. The launch event really showed the high calibre of organisation – and of expectations – involved. Very humbling to be included once I understood a bit of that side of things!
After the event was over we were invited to go to the bar at Hotel Hotel, just next door, where the bar staff had created a cocktail in our honour. Called ‘Fog at Hive No 6’, it involved honey collected from the Hotel’s beehives near the lake (hive number 6 of course) and pashmak to represent the fog on the lake. I declined a taste (which I still regret) as I was driving and needed to get home to respond to multiple missed calls from the chicks who were ringing to complain about various things happening at their father’s house (!!) Hotel Hotel is an amazing building and experience. I am going to take up their offer of a tour and write more about it because I am a little bit in love with it, so take this as a place marker!
After that, there has been no more discussion about what people are going to wear to any function! We been provided with two sessions/workshops on using social media, and we have attended Discovery Events. These are events designed by our local tourism industry to showcase what they have to offer. We were able to RSVP to as many or as few as we liked. I wanted to attend them all! Reality, and children, and life meant that I had to pick and choose, and have had to cancel a couple that I thought I could attend, in order to address reality, children and life. But the events that I have made it to so far have been amazing. Stand by for the next instalment in my ‘series’, which I promise will include photos!!
If you would like to see amazing photos I recommend searching #humanbrochure on Instagram or Twitter, or looking at the website Human Brochure as there are some very, very, very talented photographers in our group and their images are just beautiful.
This week I am able to announce that I am officially human. Even better, I am a local human. I am one of 101 local humans selected to be part of a ‘human brochure’ about Canberra. My chicks think it is hilarious that I am now a local human. Over the next couple of months I will meet my fellow 100 humans and we will get to visit all sorts of VIP events at local attractions – many of which involve food and/or alcohol, and places I haven’t visited. The chicks get to attend a few events with me too. Then we get to spend time sharing our experiences in our local region, using social media, culminating in a weekend in October where we can show our city off to family from out of town. It is a pretty big deal.
Of course, you know me – part of me is terrified about all the juggling of competing priorities, about letting myself put me first for once, about meeting all these uber-cool fellow humans and remembering that they have all been fooled into thinking that I am uber-cool too. The other part of me is really excited about getting to go out and have fun with adults doing cool things! If you follow me on any of the social media I use (instagram, twitter, facebook – oh my I am so cool these days) you will see the hashtag #humanbrochure appearing and you will now know what it is about! (and I promise I will try to reduce my use of the word ‘cool’, given that it isn’t actually that ‘cool’ these days.)
Of course, with the confirmation that I am human, comes the realisation that I am a mere mortal, and therefore fatally flawed. Which isn’t really a surprise to anyone! The notification about being human also arrives at the same time as a whole slew of good things, and an avalanche of challenges. Life. Gets you every time doesn’t it?
Good things first (then you can choose to skip the challenges if you want!) I was selected as part of the launch of a new feature on Ebay where you can make your own collections of things that you like. They selected a pile of bloggers and other people to create the first collections, to set the scene for the launch. So far I have had two sets of 5 collections approved, and am working on a 3rd. I tend to use Ebay for very functional things, so taking the time to stop and look around has been interesting. One thing I have learned, very quickly, is the importance of good product shots. I have been aware of it for selling on Etsy for a long time, but really hadn’t thought about it in the Ebay context, until I was looking for images that would hang together well. Oh my there are some shockers out there. One image of a gorgeous vintage porcelain piece had a background of a piece of uncovered, dirty rubber foam. Others showed delicate things for babies sitting on the carpet for the shots – which just didn’t work! The whole image of Ebay as a place for bargains might be the reason, but given the amazing array of good available there, I suspect that the move to collections might start to have an impact on the way people choose to display their wares.
The next good thing was lovely feedback from a customer, lovely feedback from a colleague, and a request to be allowed to quote one of my blog posts in someone’s book (!!!) all within a day or two. It is a bit like getting a compliment from a random stranger while walking down the street – it makes your day! I have also managed to have some of my items on Etsy make the front page after renewing my involvement in my teams on the forums – one of those cases where promoting others really does help yourself.
This one made the front page of the US site, so massive exposure for my bag!
The middle chick is currently directing the shooting of a video that will star the boy, as an entry in a competition to represent the local milk company. Whether they win or not is irrelevant as they are having so much fun making it, negotiating the story line, and adding special effects – it is hilarious to listen to them!
And finally, I was able to sit down and make my first bag using the leather I recently purchased. It is very different from sewing with fabric – not just because of the bulk of the leather when dealing with seams etc, but because it seems to stretch and move when it is sewn (despite my judicious use of clothes pegs to hold it together) and unpicking (which I did a LOT of) leaves holes in the leather that don’t disappear like holes in fabric do. Still – the results are so different to fabric that I think I will continue learning and practising. I am considering investing in an industrial machine – I suspect that would help a lot! For this one I used some leather from a piece of milled hide, a part of a sleeve from a suede jacket a friend sent me, and lined it with an indigenous print cotton.
As for the challenges? My boy. That beautiful soul who snuggles in and remembers the most awesome details about conversations you have had years before, who loves to be able to help, who fills my heart with joy. Once again we are back to dealing with challenges. The respite gained after the trip to the chiropractor was short lived. I suspect the change in houses over the weekend contributed to it. For a boy who doesn’t deal well with change, moving between houses each week is challenging. I have said it before and I will say it again. Divorce sucks. It doesn’t just suck because the adults are hurt and grieving. It sucks because the children who have no control over their environment get hurt, over and over, for years after the fact. I struggle every day to think about how I can reduced the impact of our family circumstances on my boy. There are no simple answers. However his school continue to find ways to support him to feel okay about himself. When a relief teacher did something in reprimanding my boy that still makes me shake with emotion, the boy was able to come home feeling good about himself (and completely unaware of how upset I was) because the executive teachers made sure that he was safe and felt wanted and useful. God bless them. We are entering another phase of analysis and diagnosis with yet another specialist. The next few months will be challenging. Again. Thank heavens that when he is good he is awesome!
Heading into the weekend with the rounds of winter weekend sports, children who need to be ferried from friend to friend, and all the other activities that seem to fill our days of ‘rest’ I am hoping to be able to get a little bit of sewing done – and finishing those last few rounds on the rug for the girls’ room! I’ll check back in and let you know how it went!