I’m DONE…

For a number of years now…  I’ve had this growing discontentment with Society and the Status Quo… and How-Things-Are.

I just don’t believe in it any more.

In fact, not only do I NOT believe in it… I think it’s poisonous.  And life-sucking.  And vile.

It’s ironic – because, for many years, I slotted in neatly with Society’s Ideals and the things deemed important by the Powers-that-Be.  For years… decades… I never QUESTIONED.  I didn’t question authority… I didn’t question the government… I didn’t question our way of life… I didn’t question what my school teachers told me… I didn’t question what my pastor told me… I didn’t question what I read in magazines or what I watched on TV… I didn’t question the TV adverts… I didn’t question the assumption that life was to be lived in a certain “way”…

For years…  I just didn’t question.

I slotted neatly into the System.  And I did what I was told.

I shopped the way that my mother had shopped… buying the same brand of dishwashing liquid (Sunlight)… the same household cleaner (Handy Andy)… the same flavour of cheese (cheddar)… the same crackers (Provita)… the same margarine (Rama)…  out of – I dunno – some kind of automatic brain setting – to just continue doing the “done thing”…

These days, I think “The Done Thing” is what’s killing us (literally and figuratively) – and this planet.  I fucking hate The Done Thing!

We moved into the suburban house… and got into debt… and amassed a mountain of *stuff*… because, it was The Done Thing.  And nobody questioned it.

Nobody questioned the debt… the shopping… the regular mall excursions… and the amassing of cheap-shit-from-China.  Nobody questioned the blind allegiance to Big Brands… or Political Parties… or Church Denominations.

I mean… jeez… when I was a kid, I can’t remember a single adult (or person from our church) address… or discuss… or explain… the system of apartheid.  It wasn’t considered polite dinner conversation.  It wasn’t considered “appropriate”.  It wasn’t The Done Thing.  

And I grew up learning not to ask uncomfortable questions… and to shut-up about things that could get me in trouble and cause offence.

Going to church and being a Christian was (for me) the Done Thing too.  My mother became a Christian when I was two.  I was raised in church.  It was natural and *normal* to just… carry on doing… The Done Thing.

Going to school, of course, was also The Done Thing.  I mean, who doesn’t send their kids to school?  What kind of weirdo-nutters would even consider such a blasphemous aberration?

Getting married was the Done Thing…  (in a big white dress… with a religious person to officiate… and mass amounts of Dad’s cash blown on canapés, cocktails and colour-coordinated bunting)…

Babies… and baby-rituals like baby-showers…  all The Done Thing.

Working from 8-5… Monday to Friday… for the rest of one’s life until one eventually retired… was also – very definitely – The Done Thing (whether you actually enjoyed your work was considered irrelevant).

Marching to the Cadence of the Corporate Drum – The Done Thing.

Sitting in rush hour traffic every week day – The Done Thing.

Eagerly counting the days until Friday – The Done Thing.

Voting – The Done Thing (regardless of how corrupt, how power-hungry the politicians are… regardless of how you don’t believe – AT ALL – in any of them… in any of their promises… in any of their systems).

Wearing the latest fashions was The Done Thing (God forbid you mince out of your front door proudly boasting a mullet and a muffin-top)….

Owning a big TV… subscribing to cable… and watching soap operas and Reality TV every night was also The Done Thing.

Being the same as everyone else – The Done Thing.

Fitting In – The Done Thing (children, in particular, learn this from a very early age).

Eating lots of sugar and refined carbs… and feasting on the crappy plasticky food at places like Spur, KFC, McDonalds…  all The Done Thing.

Quaffing down processed, chemically-laden food of all varieties – The Done Thing…  (“What’s actually in a Tinkie?  Who knows!  Who cares?”)

Buying cheap… buying discount… shopping-for-bargains… buying-on-sale… (whilst never, for a millisecond, considering The Price… the REAL price… of what cheap shit costs humanity and the planet)…  all The Done Thing.

Caring more about the articles in the gossip mags… and the latest celebrity scandal (rather than the woes our planet is inflicting upon itself)… definitely The Done Thing.

Caring more about gossip and what-Mavis-wore-to-church-on-Sunday…  than giving a steaming turd about wars, weapons, sweat-shops, child labour which *WE* support with our buying choices) – The Done Thing!

Endless…. unrelenting…. unquestioned…. CONSUMING…. CONSUMING… CONSUMING… (in every imaginable way)…. The-Done-Fucking-THING!!!

Complacent acceptance of the world’s woes…“Oh well, it is what it is.  There’s nothing *I* could possibly do to change anything.  The problems are too big.  Sorry, gotta go… I’m missing an episode of the Kardashians…”…. The Done Thing.

SO….

Suffice to say…

I am DONE… with the DONE THING.

Just letting you know.

 

The LAST list of disclaimers I shall ever write on this blog!

Okay.

If you’ve been on the Living Differently Facebook page… you may have seen a bit of a conversation between my sister and I (on the last blog post about the art and the jobs).  A slight altercation, maybe.  A bit of a disagreement on her part… and an instant freak-out on my part.

Just to tell you a bit about my sister, Soo.  She’s 2 years younger than me… and can probably push my buttons more quickly and effectively than anyone on this planet (except – perhaps – for my mother).

Here are (some) of the areas where Soo and I are the same:

  • We enjoy a lick of sarcasm.
  • We laugh at dark humour.
  • We hate slapstick comedy.
  • We’ve both been divorced.
  • We’re both in love with big, hairy men with brown eyes and clever brains.
  • We enjoy (mostly) the same films.
  • We have a… problem… with the baklava cheesecake at Tashas in Hyde Park.
  • We both love our parents – and each other (in spite of all our differences).

And here are (some) areas where Soo and I are completely different:

  • Soo is atheist (I’m more of a romantic agnostic).
  • I’m married with kids (Soo is not married – but has been in a long-term relationship with Owen for a few years now.  Her animals are her kids).
  • I work-from-home and can’t stomach the idea of ever working for a boss (Soo works for a huge multi-national corporation in a job she genuinely enjoys).
  • Soo generally enjoyed her time at school and likes the idea of studying further (I absolutely loathed school… especially high school… and my idea of “studying further” is travelling, reading and my own personal research into topics that interest me).
Soo and I as kids.  I'm the mermaid.  Who'd have thought that cute, pink little doll could be so fearless?

Soo and I as kids. I’m the mermaid. Who’d have thought that cute, pink little doll could be so scary?

Possibly one of the biggest differences, though… is that I am a complete and utter Word Wuss (you can read more about the dreaded Word Wuss in the Illustrated Guide to my Personalities).  And I cannot abide conflict.  I deeply… deeply… hate conflict – and will usually do anything in my power to avoid it.

And I worry… incessantly… about what others might say or think about me.   And I worry about arguing… and fighting… and whether people will want to fight with me – and insult me… and not like me.   And – because of this continual, present, time-consuming, thought-consuming worry…  I tend to edit myself.  Bite my tongue.  Delicately hide-what-I-really-think.  Smile-and-wave.  Not speak up on something I feel strongly about.

And I add disclaimers.

The Word Wuss (if she could) would add a long list of disclaimers to every single blog post…  to every single Facebook post…. mostly in her attempt not to piss people off or start a fight.

Now… my sister… (who doesn’t seem to have the Word Wuss lurking in her inner psyche)… doesn’t give two steaming turds about pissing people off.  She cares nothing about starting a fight.  In fact – I think she quite enjoys a nice fight!  Most of her Facebook status updates are statements just…. begging…. for a fight!  Almost like… lots of mini invitations to fight!  Like she’s saying:  “C’mon… I dare ya!”…

Soo once threw her popcorn box at the head of a movie-goer, 2 rows in front of her, because he wouldn’t stop talking during the movie.  When the box hit his head, and when he stood up and angrily spun around to confront the box-thrower… she stood up too and hissed:  “Next time it will be my fucking shoe!”

He sat down.

And kept quiet for the rest of the movie.

See… I am not Soo.

I am the person who just sits quietly and passively next to the obnoxious, noisy movie-goer…  silently steaming… fuming on the inside, mute on the outside.  Rude movie-goers get away with their rudeness because of people like me.  People like me, who don’t speak up.  And – to be honest – I am really beginning to tire of my wuss’ness… of my reluctance to speak up.

I am this:

word wuss

A big part of me admires Soo’s temerity.  Another part of me is scared for her… (and sometimes, of her).  I mean – what if popcorn-man launched himself at her?  (She was, after all, much smaller than him!).  I worry that the crazy chick that she was fighting with on social media a few months ago is gonna physically hunt her down and knife her in the guts (Soo has, after all,  attracted a few stalking lunatics in the past).

And she has lost more than a handful of friends over the years (and gained more than a handful more)…. (Actually, I think many of her friends delight in the fact that she comes out and says stuff that they’re all too chicken to say themselves – but are thinking – nonetheless)!

As for me, I tip-toe neatly around the friends and Facebook acquaintances I DO have.  I wrap them in tissue paper…  too wary… too wuss’like… to call them out occasionally (on things I disagree with)…  for fear that they’ll hate me forever – or – worse – say hurtful things to me.

I am very… very… very…. SUPER-sensitive to Words.  Especially hurtful words.  And insults.

And I try to do anything and everything in my power to avoid the possibility of a mean word being tossed in my direction.  I’ll do anything to avoid a war of words.

As it is, I’m a pacifist who hates war.  I also hate warring with words.

Okay… so back to the disclaimer thing.

Soo thinks I add too many disclaimers to my posts (and to my life).  She says I must stop.

She’s probably right.

But it’s HARD for me not to add disclaimers…. (in the case of this particular post, I would like to add a disclaimer that reminds everyone that I love my sister and this is not an attack on her character! )…

But, if I don’t add my disclaimers, I keep thinking things like this:

  • “But what if they misunderstand what I’m trying to say?  I don’t want people to misunderstand me!”
  • “But what if they think I hate them?”
  • “But what if they think I’m angry with them?”
  • “But what if they think that I think that I’m better than them?”
  • “But what if they think that I’m trying to say that MY way is better than THEIR way?”
  • “But what if they’re just not *getting* me – or getting what I’m TRYING to say?”

So… I keep adding disclaimers.  And tip-toeing… and watering myself down.

It’s quite pathetic, really.

So… in an attempt to take my sister’s advice and to cure my disease of “Disclaimeritis” (as she has called it)… this post is a list of the LAST DISCLAIMERS I shall make on Living Differently.  After this post, I shall try (really really really hard)… to be brave – and to speak my truth… and to stop fretting about being misunderstood or mis-read (or hated).

HAT’S LIST OF BLOG DISCLAIMERS:

  1. I neither want – nor expect – everyone to live the same as me… to believe the same as me… to make the same choices as I have.
  2. I love diversity – and I *like* the fact that the world is full of different people.
  3. This blog is my way of sending out a ping – and searching for a tribe… or looking for connections with people who resonate with me.  I am NOT blogging because I’m trying to “evangelise” My Way… or My “Truth”… or to try to convince others that they are “wrong” and that I am “right”.  For more reasons on why I blog, click here.
  4. I have NO intentions of attempting to convince or convert anyone.  You are all free to disagree with me entirely.  However, I only ask that if you DO take offence at what I write on this blog… that you respectfully just stop reading it – and please… please… don’t see yourself as The Great Corrector… as though you’re going to *correct* my erred thinking and set-me-straight.  Different opinions and respectful debates are one thing… people who view themselves as “Correctors” are quite another.
  5. Just because I educate my children differently to you, does not mean that I think you’re a bad parent for not doing things the same way as me.
  6. I absolutely *get* that there are many different ways to educate and raise children… and just because you’re doing something differently to me, does NOT mean that I think you are *wrong* and I am *right*.
  7. I very seldom view the world through the lenses of Right-or-Wrong… Good-or-Bad… Truth-or-Lie… Black-or-White.  I’m not as dualistic as that.
  8. Just because I hated working for a boss… does not mean that I think that everybody hates working for a boss – and that corporate jobs are *wrong* for everyone.
  9. Just because I hated school and loathed high school – does not mean that I think everybody hated school as I did.
  10. Just because I had some awful experiences with some school teachers – does not mean that I think all school teachers are of-the-devil!
  11. Just because I’m agnostic – does not mean that I hate or ridicule people of other faiths or belief systems (I love diversity, remember?)
  12. I know that Russell Brand and the Trews is not everyone’s cup of proverbial tea – and that’s FINE!
  13. Just because I moved away from the idea that The-Bible-Contains-The-Truth… or that The-Bible-is-the-Word-of-God… does not mean that I expect every other Christian to do the same.
  14. Just because I disagree with people – doesn’t mean I hate them… or even dislike them.  In fact, I have many people in my life (whom I disagree with on a deep level about something or another) – but I still think they’re awesome people and I enjoy their company.
  15. I don’t think you’re *wrong* because you’re not like me!!
  16. I don’t think “I’m Right” and “You’re Wrong”.  I just don’t process the world like that.
  17. I might rant occasionally about my childhood – but that does NOT mean that I don’t have the utmost of love and respect for both of my parents – who loved us deeply and did the very best (for us) that they knew how to do.
  18. I might rant occasionally about The Church.  This does not mean that I consider all Christians to be awful, hypocritical assholes.  On the contrary, I have many wonderful friends who remain fervent believers – and I hold absolutely no grudges against them for that.
  19. I respect your right to believe whatever you want to believe (and hope you will afford me the same respect).
  20. Just ’cause I hate slapstick comedy – I don’t expect everybody to hate it too… and I’m not saying that it’s *wrong*.
  21. Just ’cause I think olives taste vile – I’m not saying that everyone who eats olives are vile too (my Greek eats vile olives all the time)…. (being Greek an’ all).
  22. And… even after all my desperate attempts at being “heard” – and NOT being misunderstood…. if you STILL misunderstand me – and feel that my blog posts are deeply offensive – and some kind of personal attack on you – or your way of life.  I’m terribly sorry…  please feel free to click off this page – and read another blog which agrees with your sensibilities.  Peace!

Okay.  That’s it.  I’m done.  Disclaimers over!!!

If I start adding more disclaimers to future posts – please feel free (like Soo says) to call me out on it – and to remind me to stop being such a Word-Wuss!

I am now going to stick this Anthony Hopkins quote somewhere where I can read it (and absorb it) every single day:

“It is NONE OF MY BUSINESS what other people say about me or think about me.  I am who I am, and I do what I do.  I accept everything and expect nothing.  And it makes life so much easier”

 

 

Is “work” more valued than “art”?

A couple of months ago, I watched Amanda Palmer give a TED talk on the art of asking.  For those unfamiliar with Amanda Palmer, she’s a musician and singer – who began her career as a street artist called “The 8 Foot Bride”.  Anyhoo… during this season as the 8-Foot-Bride (check out the TED talk for the full story of what that entailed), she says this:

“And I would get harassed sometimes. People would yell at me from their passing cars. “Get a job!” And I’d be, like, “This is my job.” But it hurt, because it made me fear that I was somehow doing something un-joblike and unfair, shameful”

Omigod.  How very very… achingly… familiar I am with that feeling.  The feeling that (cringe! cringe! cringe!)… that I could ever *ASK* for money for my art… seems, almost blasphemous!

Here, she talks about passing-the-hat after a show (with some of her musician friends):

 “…but there was this one guy in the band who told me he just couldn’t bring himself to go out there. It felt too much like begging to stand there with the hat. And I recognized his fear of “Is this fair?” and “Get a job.”

And later, she says:

“And the media asked, “Amanda, how did you make all these people pay for music?” And the real answer is, I didn’t make them. I asked them. And through the very act of asking people, I’d connected with them, and when you connect with them, people want to help you. It’s kind of counterintuitive for a lot of artists. They don’t want to ask for things. But it’s not easy. It’s not easy to ask. And a lot of artists have a problem with this. Asking makes you vulnerable”

So… Amanda’s talk has provided me with a LOT of (very!) uncomfortable food-for-thought.

Because, yes!  Asking IS counterintuitive!  I definitely don’t want to ask for things.  It feels… needy… it feels like I’m begging… it feels like I’m greedy.  Mostly  (and this is my personal issue)… it doesn’t feel like it’s a *fair* exchange.

I don’t doubt that I’m a Creative Creature – able to create a whole bunch of creative things.  I don’t doubt my natural artistic ability.  What I DO doubt… is the *worth* of my art.  Does it have any value?  Is it worth anything?

The irony is that…  when I switch off from Hat-the-Artist mode… and I become Heather-the-Graphic-Designer or even Heather-the-Illustrator… it’s like a whole different set of values enters my head.  Heather-the-Graphic-Designer / Illustratior has (or – at least – HAD… until I shut the whole bloody lot down)….  a “Real Job”.  And, back then, I didn’t mind charging clients for my “real-job-work” either.  It was a fair exchange:  a few hours of (my) boredom and misery in exchange for their money.  I mean – isn’t that how the whole world works….(?)  We accept money from our employers – and, in exchange, we obey their orders… sit at our desks for a designated amount of time per day… and do their bidding?

“Real Jobs” are not expected to be fun or fulfilling.  In fact, if they ARE fun and/or fulfilling… you’re probably doing something wrong (or thus goes the unspoken assumption… and especially if you’re from a certain kind of middle-class upbringing).  You’re not supposed to (gasp!) ENJOY your work… your “Real Job”.  Real Jobs are there for us to… endure… to suffer through so-that-we-can-pay-the-bills-at-the-end-of-the-month.

Real Jobs are *necessary*.  They’re about responsibility… and respectability… and duty… and about NOT being a ‘taker’ or a lazy-arse-bum.

Consider this chapter written by John Holt:

A man writing, sympathetically, to a radical paper about life in small towns in Iowa, where in order to pay their debts, many full-time farmers have to do extra work in meat-packing plants – as he says, “shovelling lungs” – says, “The work ethic has been ground into these folks so thoroughly that they think anyone who doesn’t hold down – continually – a full-time painful job… is a bum”.

They don’t want their kids to be bums.  Back To The Basics, for most of them, is code for “No-More-Fun-and-Games-in-School”.  Most of them don’t care particularly about reading, as such.  They read little themselves – like most Americans, they watch TV.  What they want their child to learn is how to WORK.  By that, they don’t mean to do good and skillful work they can be proud of.  They don’t have that kind of work themselves and never expect to.  They don’t even CALL that “work”.  They want their children, when their time comes, to be able and willing to hold down full-time painful jobs of their own.  The best way to get them ready to do this is to make school as much like a full-time painful job as possible.

Now – my post isn’t about education (even though education and schooling is in the context of the quote above)… it’s more about how I seem to have absorbed the same mentality mentioned in the paragraph above.  I view somebody with a “good work ethic” as somebody who – well, let’s be honest - holds down a full-time, painful job!

Somebody like my Dad (even though he ran his own businesses – he was never in them for the enjoyment… or because he was passionate about the product or service he was creating.  He was in it to make money…. to be a responsible-respectable-provider-for-his-family).

And he was – and still is – a dutiful, responsible, respectable, hard-working Provider-for-his-Family.

Dad worked… and worked… and worked some more.  He spent long hours at the office.  He’d come home late at night… exhausted and irritable.  He’d eat his supper, watch TV and go straight to bed.  As kids, my sister and I barely saw him.  He was like a ghost.  Either too busy – or too tired – to attend our school concerts or prize givings.  Mom was the parent who raised us.  Dad was the Working-Provider… mostly absent – and, as we would have defensively told you, “understandably so”.

And we all admired him… deeply… for this “incredible work-ethic”.

What an admirable thing:  to work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work…. WORK (regardless of how unhappy, exhausted, unfulfilled or miserable one was)…  (regardless of how little quality time spent with loved ones).

A Good-WORK-ethic easily trumped all of those things.

Even to this day – there are many people whom we admire (in my family and in Nick’s) who are all deemed to have “an incredible work ethic”.

We proudly refer to them as the family work-a-holics.  And they make us proud… those work-a-holics.

They’re not bums.  They’re not takers.  They’re not lazy.  They’re not selfish. They work-damn-hard!

I wonder why we never really give a thought as to whether their work makes them happy?  Or whether they actually enjoy their work?  Or whether they find any sense of value, meaning… or fulfilment… in the tasks that they perform…. day-in and day-out for the (majority) of their short, precious lives?

I mean – my God – it’s estimated that our “work” takes up about one third of our lives… isn’t it important… that we… I dunno… enjoy what we do?

Isn’t it important… that we do something meaningful… and valuable… with our time?

Isn’t it important to be… happy?

Is that SUCH an offensive aspiration?

Duty before happiness!”…  Responsibility trumps meaning!”Routine and Respectability above passion… fulfilment… joy!”  “House-and-Car above experiences and making-beautiful-memories”….

Isn’t that the world we live in?

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying… and the number one regret (especially amongst men) was that they deeply regretted working-so-hard (instead of spending time with their loved ones).

And – it seems to me – that I, too have bought into this mindset so deeply (even if on an unconscious level)… that even though I am now doing what I LOVE (instead of loathing my work… my job)… I still feel a deep sense of inner guilt.  I still feel as though what I do now (see?! I can’t even manage to call it ‘my work’)…  my art, my music, my offerings, my various projects…  don’t have any *REAL VALUE*…. because they are not “Real Jobs”… they’re not “REAL work”… because they are not boring or painful or tedious…

And – because they are not boring, painful and tedious…  they somehow are not… “valuable”… or worth anything.  And certainly not, you know… worth… actual money…!

Do you hear what I’m saying?

I (in my role as “Heather the Graphic Designer”) held down a full-time, painful job for many years.

You may be wondering what a painful job looks like for a graphic designer / illustrator?  Well – you could read part of that story here (regarding the endless deadlines, stress, brown-nosing the corporates and generally not having a life)… but mostly, it had to do with… in a sense… prostituting my creative gifts in exchange for money.  Very little of the work I did (during the years I ran my design business) was… in any way… personally fulfilling, meaningful, happy – or, for that matter, even creative!

It was about following instructions (given to me by the client).  It was about adding ugly colours and dodgy fonts (because the client insisted upon it – and they were, after all, paying money for the work – so I’d better give them what they wanted).  It was about creating mountains of marketing material that would promote products and services that I didn’t like… or believe in (and, in many cases, which I thought were shitty and dishonest)… again – all in exchange for money – which seemed fair enough.  It seemed like a “fair” exchange.  A fair exchange:  my “hard-work”… my hours of boredom and busy-work doing-exactly-what-the-client-wanted-me-to-do… in exchange for payment.

I never felt guilt about sending them a bill for my services back then.  Money… for that kind of crappy-WORK… was deserved.  Payment was “fair”.

But now?

I could spend many happy hours creating a piece of art… but do you think I could ask you for some MONEY for it?

God no!  I enjoyed it too much!  It was fun… it was hours happily spent…  but it wasn’t *work*….

… and thus… it’s not *REAL*…

and thus it has no value.

See?  Told you I was screwed up!  ;-)

As a side note:  The Oatmeal (a guy called Matt – who used to design-for-clients and now creates hilarious comics instead) perfectly illustrated the typical Graphic-Designer’s experience in a comic that almost had me wetting my pants with gleeful laugher.  If you’ve never understood the painful process of graphic design… just click here!  (tee-the-hee-hee!)

 

Why I can’t stomach the ‘good colouring’ chart

The "Good Colouring" Chart...

The “Good Colouring” Chart…

Okay.

As a reasonable person… (who tries to see differing perspectives)… I’m going to approach this little colouring chart from two directions.

To be honest, my first response was one of instant, irritated frustration.  But now that I’ve given it some thought and calmed down somewhat…  I’ll offer this perspective instead:

Option One:  This Chart Was Designed to Teach Children how to Follow-The-Rules

If the purpose of the chart was to help children understand The Rules (of life, school and perhaps, even…art), then the chart does it’s job.   Most schools teach kids – from an early age – to follow-the-rules and colour-in-the-lines… and to be compliant and obedient little worker bees.   If that’s the purpose of this chart, then it succeeds.  If the idea of the exercise is NOT to encourage children to be creative thinkers and initiators… then full-marks, ten out of ten goes to the teacher who created this chart.  If the idea is to demonstrate to children that art… (as in life)… has a “right way” and a “wrong way” – and that colouring in the lines is the *Right* Way (just like fitting-in and living within the constraints of the Status Quo is also the *right way*)… then, well, the chart isn’t so bad after all.  It does what it was always meant to do (kinda like schools).

Option Two:  This Chart Was Designed to Teach Children the *Right* Way to Create Art

To be honest, I’m leaning towards option 1.  Because “colouring in books” and “colouring in sheets” have nothing to do with “Art” in the first place.  Art is about creative expression.  What – pray tell – is creative (even slightly creative) about colouring in a picture that somebody else has drawn?  And… jeez… if you can’t even add your own creative expression whilst colouring… and choose your own colour palette… or draw outside of the lines… what’s the point?  It’s definitely not art.

One of my pet personal hates is colouring-in-books for children…  or colouring-in-sheets.  I think kids should be allowed (and encouraged) to create… and express themselves… in whichever way they choose.  There is no *right* way to draw a cat… or a flower… or a sun.  Walt Disney was scolded by his teachers at school for drawing faces on flowers… and it seems like Society is still hell-bent on imposing similar stupid rules on our kids today.

My mother (bless her) banned colouring-in-books from our home.  We drew – on paper – what was inside our head.  We didn’t colour in neat little cartoons that adults had drawn.  To this day – all of my artwork comes straight out my head.  I don’t copy from other people’s illustrations, photos or references.  Mom did me a huge favour… encouraging me (in a multitude of ways) to express myself fully and authentically.

This came out of my head yesterday morning… while waiting for a coffee to arrive.

This came out of my head yesterday morning… while waiting for a coffee to arrive.

A couple of years ago… when life was very different… my daughter spent her days at pre-school.  And the pre-school teachers seemed to love colouring-in books and colouring-in sheets.  “Art” lessons simply required handing out some photocopied sheets of a cat or a dog… and instructing the children to “colour in neatly”.

It was only 3 years later, when I took my daughter out of pre-school, that I realised how something so seemingly insignificant as colouring-in-books (and the accompanying rules) had really taken it’s toll on my little girl.

We were doing art at home… and I had supplied her with a colourful range of paper, pencils, paint – and encouraged her to draw.

“What must I draw?”  she asked me.

“Anything you want!”  I said.

“But I don’t know how to draw” she said.

“Of course you do!” I encouraged her, “Draw what’s in your head!”.

She agreed to attempt to draw a mouse.  But… no sooner had she made the first marks on paper, she began getting very upset.

“It’s all wrong!” she cried

“It’s not wrong!” I said, “I really like your mouse”

“But it doesn’t look how it’s supposed to look!”, she said… with tears streaming down her face.

Morgan had already – even with only 3 years of pre-school – been so programmed to believe in “right” and “wrong” and rule-following… and how things are “supposed to be”… and “supposed to look”… that – in her mind – only the neat predictable cartoons, illustrated by adults, were “right”.

Her beautiful art – in her eyes – was *wrong*.

It took 2 years of gentle encouragement (and – of course – NO colouring-in-books and stupid rules like ‘colours must make sense’) until Morgan really began to embrace her own, unique creative expression.  Today, she draws confidently and many, many hours of joy has been derived from making art.

Here’s a little picture that she drew (about year ago).  I love it!

IMG_0936

All of this reminds me of The Logical Song by Supertramp.

It goes like this:

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful, a miracle, oh it was beautiful – magical…

and all the birds in the trees, they’d be singing so happily, joyfully, playfully watching me…

Isn’t childhood like that?  When kids are so full of innocence and wonder?  When life is beautiful, miraculous, magical?

But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible, logical, responsible, practical…

and then they showed me a world where I could be so dependable, clinical, intellectual, cynical…

Well… yes… that’s what school did.   That’s what school taught.  Even Morgan’s pre-school taught those lessons to her.  Taught her how to obey orders, be ‘good’, follow rules, fit in with everyone else and comply.

Watch what you say, or they’ll be calling you a radical… a liberal… fanatical, criminal…

“Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re acceptable, respectable, presentable…” (a vegetable)…

(That’s how I often feel about posting in this space…  we can’t be TOO honest… too *radical*… we need to watch-what-we-say….)

There are times when all the world’s asleep, these questions run so deep for such a simple man…

Will you please, please tell me what we’ve learned?  I know it sounds absurd – please tell me who I am!

Well…  I know who I am now.

And I know who my kids are.

And even though Society… in general… is *still* trying to tell us fit-in, slot-in, follow the rules, be normal… colour-in-the-lines… we have found *SUCH* freedom in saying:  “No thank-you.  We’re doing it OUR way”.

stupid7

 

 

I’m still searching for my Tribe…

oscar quote

I dunno about you, but I long for a tribe.

I long to connect with a bunch of people who *get* me.  My kinds of peeps… those who resonate with the things that I feel strongly about.  “Mad” people… abnormal people… people who don’t *fit* into the Norm… into the Status Quo.

  • People want more out of life than just… “survival, getting by, making do”…
  • People who hate being “governed” and “ruled” and told-what-to-do (as much as I do)…
  • People who are Questioners (instead of Knowers)… people who question everything… and especially the Powers-that-Be, The Status Quo and “Authority”…
  • People who question (and who are generally skeptical of) The Institutions that mould and contain us (school… church… banks… state)…
  • People who don’t believe everything they read or watch on TV or on the internet…
  • People who don’t believe everything they’re told by The Teacher, The Pastor, The Media, The President… (notice, I wrote ‘everything’ not ‘anything’).
  • Parents who respectfully and peacefully parent their children…
  • People who enjoy watching TED Talks…
  • People who love travel… and want to see as much of the world as they possibly can before they die!
  • Artists, activists, creative-creatures, out-of-the-box-thinkers, dreamers, DO’ers…
  • People who see potential where others see nothing.  People who can build beautiful things out of junk and nothingness.  Up-cylers, inventors… people with ideas and solutions
  • People who don’t want what everyone else seems to want… (i.e.: “American Dream”… big house filled with lots of *stuff*… fancy cars… branded clothes… status… all the stuff the glossy magazines say is somehow important).
  • Those who don’t give a damn about being “in fashion” or “on trend”.
  • People who don’t take themselves too seriously… and who love to laugh…
  • Those who vomit a little bit in their mouths when faced with racism, sexism, homophobia, fat-phobia, hatred of people who believe differently…. (and all the other awful forms of discrimination that mankind has invented to separate himself from The Other)…
  • Those who don’t view “feminism” as “man-hate”… but rather the continued (and utterly necessary!) efforts to see women and girls treated EQUALLY in our home countries – and around the world (here’s a great article ‘Where are MY rape threats?’ - written by a man – that perfectly sums it up).
  • Those who are revolted by the idea that – in many circles (and certainly, according to the popular media)… a woman’s worth is determined by what she looks like – instead of who she *is*.
  • People who recoil at the very idea of brand-worship… i.e.:  “I am more worthy and more important than you because I drive this brand of car… or carry this expensive designer handbag.  It makes me important and special”.
  • People who have thoroughly questioned all of their religious beliefs… and who are following a certain faith (or not) because they have THOUGHT about it… and scrutinised it… and wrestled with it… and it resonates deeply within them (and NOT simply because it-was-the-beliefs-they-were-raised with…. or because-the-pastor-says-so…. or because-the-Bible-says-so… or because-the-pastor-says-the-Bible-says-so).
  • People who also love this quote by Anne Lamott:  “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do”.
  • People who are bigger than name-calling, ridiculing and insulting.  I thoroughly enjoy the company of people who engage in meaty, respectful debates…  but as soon as people start ridiculing, shaming, insulting… that’s where I excuse myself and leave the room.
  • People who think outside of the box when it comes to “jobs”… people who are initiators, inventors, pioneers… who want to forge a new path – and not just march to the rhythm of the Corporate Drum.
  • People who think big thoughts and dream big dreams… and who make the world a better place (in big or small ways – it doesn’t matter).
  • People who ooze love – and an unreserved acceptance of “The Other”.  People who love and celebrate diversity!
  • People who view the all the people of the world as equal citizens.  People who see past race, age, nationality, religion, class, culture, income-bracket…  people who view themselves as equal with all humanity (whether the Queen of England… or the tramp on the side of the road… addicted, dirty, disease-ridden).  “All wars are civil wars because all men are brothers.  Each one owes infinitely more to the human race than to the particular country in which he was born” – Francis Fenelon.
  • And speaking of countries…  people who view themselves as citizens of the planet… rather than obsessing about flags, anthems, countries and invisible lines drawn across the earth.  “Nationalism is an infantile disease.  It is the measles of mankind” – Albert Einstein.
  • People who live differently.  Not just for the sake of being different… but rather because the “normal” way just doesn’t make any sense to them.

Of course… the list could go on and on.

I’m certainly not implying that everyone needs to *be* ALL of the above before I deem them worthy enough (I don’t even tick all of my own boxes)…  I’m just trying to paint a general picture of the people I yearn to connect with.  I’m also not trying to insinuate that the above ways-to-view-life… or ways-to-DO-life… are the *Right* ways… (and that everyone else is wrong).

I celebrate and respect diversity… and am very happy for the folk in the world who have found their little tribe (no matter how different those tribes may be to mine).

There are tribes of conservative Christians… there are tribes of Harley-Davidson-loving-bikers… there are tribes of Geek Atheists…  there are tribes of crystal-swinging vegans… there are tribes of wealthy, spa-visiting housewives…. there are tribes of sport-players and sport-watchers… there are tribes of corporate-creatures…. and mall-loving shopoholics.  There are tribes of football fans…. and tribes of Mommy-bloggers… and tribes of gym-bunnies…

… which is all great and fine…

But this post is about *my* tribe…  and I must admit, I have been finding it achingly difficult to connect with Similar-Minded-Folk.

I have a small tribe…  make that a TINY tribe of peeps who *get* me (whom I know in person).  They could probably be counted on only one hand.  They are the people with whom I can be completely… and unreservedly… *ME* without tip-toe’ing, disclaimer-adding, biting my tongue, choosing my words carefully or trying not to offend….

Nick, of course, is my main Tribe’ster.  He is the one person in this world who *gets* me… completely.  I still (even after knowing him for 17 years – and being married to him for almost 10 of those years) I still find him so fascinating and interesting to talk to.  Most nights, after the kids are in bed, the two of us chat for hours on end…. and especially if we’ve just finished watching one of Russell Brand’s Trews episodes… or a meaty TED talk.

But… aside from Nick… and my tiny handful of friends…  I (mostly) feel that I have to tread very carefully in the world out there…  and choose my words very carefully… and add disclaimers to my conversations…. and this – by the way – is also true of this blog!

There are many people who read this blog who…. (although good people)…  are not, necessarily TRIBE people.

Family members read this blog.  Old friends… old acquaintances… people from my Facebook feed… friends-from-school-days… friends-from-church-days… friends-from-band-days…. etc.

Nothing wrong with that, of course.  But not everyone who reads Living Differently are *Tribe* folk.  And this can sometimes create a problem… which looks like THIS:

“Oh shit…  I wrote about how I hate kids’ parties…  and _____, _______ and _________ occasionally read this blog – and they’ve all invited me to their children’s parties in the past.  Will they get offended?  Will they think I’m referring directly to them?  Will they never invite me to another party again?  Are they angry with me??”

or…

“Oh crap!  I wrote a ranty post about my home town!  But ______.  _______.  _______. and ___________  still live there!  And now they’re all uber-pissed with me!  Now what?  Should I forever bite my tongue about how I feel about my home town?  Am I never allowed to be honest about these types of things?  Is this one of those hush-hush topics that I should not discuss in an open forum, like a blog?”

or…

“Oh here we go again.  I wrote a post about the stuff I really dislike about the schooling system.  Except…  _________, ___________, __________ and ____________  all send their kids to the very kinds of schools that I take issue with.  If they read this post, will they be offended?  Will they take it personally?  Will they see it as a direct affront on their decisions?  Will we be able to agree to disagree?  Will they think I’m judging *them* – as in… personally….?”

or…

“Oh Jeez.  I wrote a religious post.  Except…. _________. ___________. _____________ and ___________ are all Christians – and they definitely won’t see eye to eye with me on these issues.  Is this going to cause all kinds of awkwardness?  Should I have bitten my tongue instead?  Should I not talk about these things… just in case it causes… *issues* in my real-world relationships?  Should I just delete this entire blog!!???”

You hear what I’m saying?

I have really been pondering on these issues for many months.  It’s part of the reason why (at least according to me)… this blog is very… meh.   And ho-hum’ish.   It’s meh because I’m always trying soooo hard NOT to offend certain people in my real-life world… (I’m not talking about random troll-strangers… I’m talking about real-life people – whom I know and respect… and I don’t want to create tension and awkwardness between us because of what I write in this blog!!!).

So…  I can’t… *REALLY* be honest on this blog, you know?

There’s a great quote by Oscar Wilde:

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.  Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth”.

I absolutely agree.

But… other than start a whole new blog under a pseudonym (mask)… I’m not sure what to do about it.

I’m so tired of spending my life biting my tongue.  Aren’t you??

The crappy part of living differently

So… we are back in Johannesburg after 7 fabulous months in Cape Town, 2 months of road-tripping around the United States… and 6 weeks of roaming the Karoo, Hoedspruit and the Garden Route.

We’re back in Joburg for work:  namely – Nick’s latest film… which requires him to be here… in this city… for 3 months.  And we are all here with him because… as much as we love Cape Town (and other beautiful places)… we love Nick more… and being away from him (while he commuted on the past film) was difficult for the kids and I.

Here’s a round-up of the good and the bad news of the past 3 weeks:

The Bad News:

  • I’m suffering Cape Town withdrawal symptoms.  Actually no…  I think I’m just suffering from general travel-&-explore withdrawal symptoms.  I really hate having to return to the Sameness of Joburg.  It’s achingly familiar… and I don’t find familiarity and sameness comforting.  I find it limiting, boring and frustrating.  Yes, I could probably do with an attitude adjustment – but right now, I’m finding it tough.
  • I’ve been sick for 3 weeks with a wheezy chest cold that has only just started easing.  I don’t know what brought it on… (perhaps submerging myself into Joburg’s smoggy pollution after enjoying 7 months of fresh sea air!).  I visited the doctor… who prescribed antibiotics and other pills… which did nothing for me – except bring on horrendous depression and (this is a first for me) a full-blown anxiety attack.  I don’t know whether the depression and anxiety was as a result of moving back to the dull routine of Joburg… or whether it was because I was feeling physically sick… or whether it was because of the dodgy meds… or a combination of all of the above.  But nonetheless, I have been feeling VERY unlike myself of late.  And I don’t like this feeling.  At all.
  • I’ve also been feeling like a bit of a hypochondriac (also very unlike me).  I’ve been having all these dark, doom-brooder thoughts about how I’m going to end up dying before I’ve truly LIVED.  And every ache… pain… or bruise on my body… leads me to instantly think things like “Cancer!”… “Heart disease!”… “Fatal affliction!!!”… “Death-coming-soon!!!”…  I mean, WTF???  This is (so!) not like me!!!  What is Joburg doing to my head??
  • All 4 are of are currently squashed in to the tiny garden cottage of our old Joburg home (which is currently rented out to the awesome geeks of Dee-Twenty).  It is not an ideal situation.  I would be able to manage the garden cottage situation if we just *lived* here…  but Nick needs to work here too!  And productivity is impossible when all of us are home…  so I need to make sure that the kids and I leave the cottage every day so that Nick is able to work.  And – of course – it’s not like Joburg has the…. options… that Cape Town has (for curious, energetic kids!).  It’s not like Joburg has beaches… and wine farms… and mountain trails… and a gazillion things to do.
  • We were planning to rent a furnished apartment in Joburg… for the 3 months (and Nick would continue living in the cottage).  But finding a furnished cottage…  (with landlords prepared to sign a 3 month lease – and no more) has been harder than what I anticipated.  Joburg doesn’t have a lot of short-term, furnished accommodation options… and the stuff they do have – called “Executive Apartments” – is outrageously expensive.  Just on principle – I flatly refuse to pay the same amount of money for a small, shitty apartment with shiny floor tiles, fake bullrushes in urns and orange chintz scatter-cushions…  I refuse to pay the same amount (for that) as what we paid for the Misty Cliffs Beach House.  Beautiful… beautiful… Misty Cliffs 3 bedroomed beach house with pool… for the same amount of money for a bling’esque Sandton apartment?  No!  I refuse!  I’d rather stay squashed in our garden cottage.

Here’s some garden-cottage pictures:

Our weeny-weeny kitchen...

Our weeny-weeny kitchen…

Looking through the kitchen serving-hatch onto the lounge / TV room / living room / Nick's studio space...

Looking through the kitchen serving-hatch onto the lounge / TV room / living room / Nick’s studio space…

The bedroom… where all 4 of us are currently sleeping...

The bedroom… where all 4 of us are currently sleeping…

The Good News:

  • The main bit of good news about Joburg (which will always be the thing I love most) – is that it’s close to our family and very dear friends.  I have loved catch-up time.  I’m really not nuts about Joburg itself…  but… the people in Joburg are another matter entirely.
  • More good news is that… in spite of the compressed discomfort of the cottage… what it means is this:  It saves us money!  And where do we plan to invest this saved money?  Why, another road trip, of course!   (December & January… country to be confirmed… but probably in Europe).  The December road trip is currently my light at the end of the tunnel.  Whenever the dark clouds of depression come rolling in, I just keep thinking:  “Keep your eyes on the Road Trip, Heather!  Keep your eyes on the travel!”
  • More good news is that I’ve just scooped a really big illustration job for a big international client.  Best of all – the illustrations themselves are on the subject of things I feel passionate about (i.e.: I’m not rolling turds in glitter).
  • And… more good news… is that I’ve discovered an awesome Learning Centre (a mere 10 minute drive away from our cramped-cottage).  It’s run by a group of people passionate about encouraging children to discover their talents and strengths… and to discover (without forcing or coercion) what they’re genuinely passionate about and interested in.  For a monthly fee, I can drop Morgan and Joah at the Learning Centre… whenever I want – and there’s loads of things for them to do:  art classes, music lessons, book club, maths club, robotics club, soccer club, jewellery-making, swimming, Ec0-Warriors club, drama classes (and so much more)…  plus endless recourses which they can choose to use (or not).  Books, games, art materials, computers & games, outdoor jungle gym… etc.  Oh – and a wide range of children (of all ages and from all backgrounds).  Homeschoolers go… unschoolers go… and children (from local schools) also attend after school for help with homework or for specific tutoring.  It’s a gem of a find for us.  The kids have been attending for 2 weeks now – and they love it.  So – for now – it’s a nice arrangement and change of pace (for the kids) for the next 3 months.

As I type this, I’m sitting in a lovely little coffee shop called Petits Fours.  I’m working on a few illustrations and Nick is back at the cottage, editing.  The kids are at their cousins for the weekend.  Last night was Cousin Danni’s “Disco Party” for her 7th birthday – and the kids stuffed their faces with cupcakes, danced the night away, enjoyed a night-picnic… and sang karaoke.  Happy kidlets.

Nick and I enjoyed a rare date-night last night… just the two of us… and managed to squash in a dinner, a theatre production (starring our friend, James), after-show chat with James… AND… dessert at the Haagen Dazs shop… AND a late night movie (all good news)…  followed by feelings of inexplicable misery (bad news)… and all sorts of out-of-the-blue, completely irrational fears that “Something Bad” was going to happen (more bad news)…

I fell asleep next to Nick… feeling uneasy and offish… and just… very NOT like my (usually optimistic) self.

I hate feeling like that.  I hate not feeling in control of my head!!!

A few posts back – I mentioned my personalities.  Well…  it feels like the Doom Brooder has escaped her cage in the attic…. and taken over my head.

The rest of us are working hard to gain control again.

Okay.  Random, strange post done.  I’m going to order a freshly squeezed carrot, apple & ginger juice.  And draw.

 

 

Why I’ll be surprised if my kids get a job

I come from a family of entrepreneurs.  My great grandfather (on my father’s side) was the Mayor of Morecambe in England… and owned a business that made potted shrimp.  He was even awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by the King of England for his contributions to the local fishing economy.

My Great-Grandad Herbert Willacy - the Mayor of Morecambe (obviously the guy wearing the fancy mayor-necklace)...

My Great-Grandad Herbert Willacy – the Mayor of Morecambe (obviously the guy wearing the fancy mayor-necklace)…

The BBC came to interview my great-grandad about the whole shrimp-business-thing.  Here's a cool photo of some of the fishermen with the BBC guy (and my great-grandad in the background)...

The BBC came to interview my great-grandad about the whole shrimp-business-thing. Here’s a cool photo of some of the fishermen with the BBC guy (and my great-grandad in the background)…

And here's another awesome photo of the BBC guy interviewing the women who worked in the factory.  Great-Grandad still lurking in the background… and in the foreground, to the left, my great grandmother.

And here’s another awesome photo of the BBC guy interviewing the women who worked in the factory. Great-Grandad still lurking in the background… and in the foreground, to the left, my great grandmother.

Great-Grandad Willacy’s daughter (my granny) married a similar-minded entrepreneur who packed up the family (my dad and his 4 brothers) and sailed to South Africa where he immediately set to work… paving his own way and building his own business.  Grandad… (and this seems to be a running theme in my family)… didn’t like being told what to do.  Grandad (like Great-Grandad) wanted to be his own boss.

So… when I was born, my Dad was working for Grandad at the family-run, Cape Town-based business… and, true to form… Dad (who, like his father and grandfather… hates being told what to do)… left the comfort and confines of the Patterson family business (much to Grandad’s chagrin) and moved us all inland to Johannesburg, in order to (drum-roll)… start his own business and be his own boss… because even working for his father still required being told what to do… and Dad… (all together now!)… hates being told what to do!

Dad (white overalls in the centre) with his brothers, Mike and John… at the family business (before Dad left to start a business of his own)...

Dad (white overalls in the centre) with his brothers, Mike and John… at the family business (before Dad left to start a business of his own)…

So, I grew up in a home with a successful, strong-willed (read: stubborn) entrepreneur.  From a young age, the idea that one could forge their own path… and make a plan to generate their own money… was the only way we knew.

In our home, there was never a fear around the topic of money.  Dad firmly believed that everyone was capable of generating it.  He was a visionary who easily recognised gaps in the market (where money might be made).  He was also not afraid of hard work… nor of taking risks.

Even when he lost (a very large sum) of money in a failed business… he simply picked himself up, dusted himself off, started from scratch… and built another business – starting from the garage of his home.

“It’s only money”… he’d say.

Dad's first successful business venture (after leaving Cape Town) was Cosy Gas Log Fires.  He built and sold these fireplaces.  This is the company brochure (I'm the one in the blue nightgown)...

Dad’s first successful business venture (after leaving Cape Town) was Cosy Gas Log Fires. He built and sold these fireplaces. This is the company brochure (I’m the one in the blue nightgown)…

A newspaper article published in the Benoni City Times (after Dad had opened his new factory and showroom).  He later sold Cosy Gas Log Fires to a company called Jetmaster (for a significant sum)… and moved on to other business ventures.

A newspaper article published in the Benoni City Times (after Dad had opened his new factory and showroom). He later sold Cosy Gas Log Fires to a company called Jetmaster (for a significant sum)… and moved on to other business ventures.

Today, Dad runs a successful business that manufactures electrical components.  The business is housed in a newly-built factory complex near his home in the south of Joburg.  He owns the other 5 factories in the complex – and rents them out to tenants.

The point of this post is this:  throughout my childhood,  my family’s risk-taking entrepreneurial modus operandi was the lens through which I viewed the world.  I never thought:  “One day, once I’m properly educated… I will hopefully get a good job that will pay a good salary”.

I never thought in terms of “the job” I would one day ask someone else for…

It never occurred to me to think in terms of “someone else”… like a boss or an employer… being responsible for my financial wellbeing.  I – and I alone – would be responsible for the money I made (or didn’t make).

I always thought in terms of the business I would run… or the freelance work I would do (on my terms)… or the money I would generate by selling something (again:  on my terms).  I always assumed that I would carve my own path in some kind of creative entrepreneurial pursuit… and generate my own income… and live on my own terms (which I have done – for better or for worse) without having to rely on a corporation or a boss to generate it *for* me.

Nobody in our immediate family worked for a boss.  Everyone was their own boss.

My mom… even as a stay-at-home-mom (who didn’t need to generate an income because Dad’s financial provision was more than enough to support us all)… generated her own money nonetheless.  She hosted pottery classes, dressmaking and pattern-making workshops… sweet-making courses (and many – many – countless other things too).

One of my Mom's money-making ideas… she created these different shapes which could easily be fitted together to make unique playhouses for kids (you can see Soo and me enjoying ourselves with this one)...

One of my Mom’s money-making ideas… she created these different shapes which could easily be fitted together to make unique playhouses for kids (I’m the one on the inside)…

Another one of Mom's business ventures:  a Play-Group at our home… and art lessons for kids (I'm on the left)...

Another one of Mom’s business ventures: a Play-Group at our home… and art lessons for kids (I’m on the left)…

(Mom’s grandfather – interestingly – was also a self-made entrepreneur in the beverage industry).

After my parents were divorced (many years ago), Mom continued with her creative entrepreneurial ways – and today she owns and operates Fisherman’s Village (conference centre, coffee shop and Christian ministry of restoration).

My younger sister also went through a stint of owning her own business but decided that the corporate life was just a better fit for her.  Soo enjoys competition, people, minions and corporate perks and, for a number of reasons (which she has mentioned in her blog here)… has chosen to go that route.  Not because she “can’t” make it as a business owner (she can… and she has)… but rather, it didn’t quite suit her unique design.

It suits mine, though.

Much like Dad… and Grandad… and Great-Grandad… I, too, am a stubborn creature who hates being told what to do.  And for the (short) seasons when I did work for a boss… I loathed it deeply and sunk into a miserable depression.

Another interesting dimension of this story: I married Nick (spawned from generations of Greek entrepreneurs).  Greeks seem to be natural-made entrepreneurs (possibly also something to do with that hate-being-told-what-to-do thing??)…

Almost everyone in Nick’s family is a self-made entrepreneur.  Nick’s parents (together with his uncle and aunt) began their South African business ventures (in true Greek style) with a corner café and bakery – which later grew in to a bit of a food empire (the older Greeks have now retired and the company is now run by Nick’s cousins, Helen and Sandra).

Helen’s husband, Vasco, is a structural engineer with his own business.  Their son, Alec, is a professional drummer and music producer.  Their other son, Mike, is a professional freelance photographer (both Mike and Alec are based in Liverpool).  Nick’s brother, Dino, is a sound engineer with his own recording studio.  Nick’s sister, Angela, is an interior decorator with her own consultancy and shop.  Nick’s cousin, Peter, has a business manufacturing jewellery… on and on it goes.

Even more interestingly… (come to think of it)… almost everyone in our closest circle of friends work for themselves.  Rogan is a mastering engineer with his own studio.  Tracey is a professional photographer.  Ray is a professional musician.  James and Anel are professional actors and producers.  Ryley makes documentary films.  Josh is a director and production-studio owner.  Joel is a published author and speaker.  Joe is a popular singer…  (and, of course, all of my travelling family & nomadic friends either work freelance or own a business)… (and most of my homeschooling & unschooling friends too!)…

Come to think of it… very few of our friends work for a boss or within the constraints of an 8-5, rush-hour traffic sort of job.  (I can think of 5 good friends who are required to ask for leave or clock in on time).

I wonder why this is?

It’s not as though we *deliberately* set out to surround ourselves with people who are… similar.

And I definitely don’t scorn those who work full-time jobs for bosses.

It’s a DIFFERENT life to mine… a different choice.  It has nothing to do with right or wrong… or good or bad (I love diversity – and neither want, nor expect, everyone to be the same as me!)…  but that said, the Life-of-the-Entrepreneur is just so familiar to me… so deeply ingrained in my DNA (and in Nick’s)… that I would be genuinely surprised if Morgan or Joah grew up with aspirations to work for a boss at a big corporation.

(Notice:  I didn’t say “disappointed”… I said: “surprised”).

I’m kinda expecting that Morgan and Joah will naturally pattern what has been modelled to them and, like the generations before them, they will either open their own business… or freelance… or make their own films… or write their own books… or open a restaurant… or a guest house… or whatever…

I’m sure they’ll have a season of working for a boss (as I did… as Nick did too) – but ultimately, I kinda imagine that they’ll be entrepreneurs too.

After all, it does seem to run in the family….  :-)