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Self Confessed Cynic

I’ve just proven to myself today – in my personal life, I am definitely one of the world’s biggest cynics. How does that happen? How does one start off in life believing in people and their stories, to getting to the point where you start to question everything and everyone?

IMG_0904When you’ve been let down by someone once, you move on and consider that as a one off; when that one off becomes just about every relationship you’ve ever had in one way or another, you start to think that is just the way it is. Conversely, you question yourself and wonder if it’s all about you.

Questioning if it’s just you then makes you wonder if you’re expecting too much or if you’re just too damn fussy. What I’d like to know is, what is too much to expect? Is it too much to want someone to accept you as you are, believe in you despite your foibles? Is it too much to demand respect, honesty and trust? I certainly hope not. It’s always other people who get it right and I really don’t know what the secret is.

The trouble with being this way is that you go into every situation, every conversation and every potential relationship with low expectations. I guess that might not be a bad thing in some ways, you can only go up from a basement start. However, it’s a really hard thing to battle within your own head; that feeling that it won’t be any good and it’ll only lead to hurt, can hold you back.

The toughest thing is breaking the circuit. Cynicism is only bred out of experience and you can’t delete experiences – they happened, simple as that. It’s not as easy as hitting the backspace button and wiping experiences from you memory. You can choose not to let them cloud your decisions by trying to be positive about every new encounter, but lurking in the background is that element of doubt that rears it’s head and starts ringing alarm bells whenever something seems too good to be true.

No idea what the answer is, or whether there is one. If I find one I’ll let you know, but as with most things, there’s never really a definitive solution to anything. But maybe I think that because I’m one of the world’s biggest cynics!

Let the Universe Decide!

Sometimes the universe makes decisions that leave you slightly flummoxed. It’s these moments that we can choose to wallow in self-pity or pick yourself up and get on with it. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, a true friend will lend you their shoulder to cry on and counsellors will offer you comfort and support in a professional capacity.

Put a stop to something once and for all, remove yourself from a situation that hurts or simply admit that the past had it’s good moments, but the future is in your hands to create far better ones. Life is there to enjoy, don’t let other people’s decision get in your way of having a damn good time and realising your potential.

Go for it! 

Free yourself of restraints and embrace the adventures ahead.

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Seize the Moment!

Photo by Tom Fenner at the BBC

AN ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS EXPERIENCE.

As one gets older, you start to recognise that experiences can only happen if you decide to seize the moment and go for it. I don’t mean ridiculous, dangerous things, like jumping out of an aeroplane (that’s my idea of hell, but I’m sure it’s someone’s idea of exhilaration and excitement), I’m talking about seeing an opportunity and acting on it, right there and then. If you’ve got your ‘business’ head on at the time, you may even consider the moment to be one that could propel you into another realm of business success. If the possibility of that is in your head, then why can’t it become a reality. You’ll never know unless you try.

People who know me, know that I am quite outspoken at times, but I’m also not one to need that ‘centre of attention’ feeling. However, sometimes without thinking too much about it, I find myself not only centre of attention, but on national television. Yep, it’s that moment of madness/excitement/opportunity (insert your own word here if you like), that can be the one to open up an experience that you’d never normally dream of considering.

Back in June 2016, I was slobbing on my sofa one Monday night with my daughter, watching the lovely Alex and Matt on The One Show. Towards the end of the show they were talking about a silly game that they were going to play with one lucky viewer the following night, with none other than the Absolutely Fabulous (clue there), Jennifer Saunders and Julia Sawalha. It was obviously all about the release of the new Ab Fab Movie and as a die hard fan from years gone by (back in the early 90’s), I felt well equipped to go for it! All the ‘viewer’ had to do was email in and say they’d like to play the game and confirm that they were free for the following two nights. I wrote a quick email, hit send and thought nothing more of it.

Hi Alex & Matt, Definitely a fan of AbFab & can definitely be in London Tues & Wed! Would love to play your AbFab game. Cheers, Cathie

theoneshow-preshow-1To cut a long story short, The One Show rang me the following morning to see if I’d like to be on the show. It wasn’t a long moment between the question and a very excited reply of YES! Various emails followed about where to be and when, what to wear and what to expect when I get there. Before I knew it I was on my way to London to be a guest on The One Show. How excited was I? Ridiculously!

I arrived early at BBC Broadcasting House in the heart of London’s West End and hung round in the local coffee shop, people watching and collecting butterflies in my stomach before heading to the studio. The next couple of hours were spent in the holding room (only celebs get to go into the Green Room) with other normal guests, discussing our purpose for being there. In comparison, my reason wasn’t quite so high brow, but a hell of a lot more fun.

The time finally came to be escorted to the studio, I was introduced to Alex and Matt (as lovely as they appear on the telly) and waited until my moment in front of the camera. My piece was to be the last 5 minutes so the wait was a killer – the butterflies had turned up there fluttering by now – industrial strength wings in action. I stood there watching Matt and Alex interview their guests, and the obvious stars of the show, Jennifer and Julia, waxing lyrical about their new movie, old episodes of Ab Fab and life in general.

My moment finally arrived. I was introduced as ‘Super Fan Cathie’ (hilarious) and was lead over to the sofa to sit myself next to Matt. Being introduced to Jennifer and Julia felt so surreal – the whole moment felt surreal. What to come was even more so. I was given an eye mask and Jennifer had to describe members of the cast of the new film and I had to guess who they were. I did myself proud, guessing most of them. But that wasn’t the shining moment. Next thing I know, Jennifer Saunders is personally inviting me to the World (yes whole wide world) Premiere of Ab Fab the Movie the following night at the Odeon in Leicester Square. Gobsmacked, speechless and ever so slightly wanting to scream with excitement, I expressed my sincere gratitude and the show was over. Credits started to roll, a little chat with my new friends (not really friends but for that moment it was nice to think so) and I asked for a few photos, which they kindly agreed to and well, that was it. It was all over. My 5 minutes of fame, my 5 minutes of excitement and a lifetime of memories and opportunities.

Needless to say, the next night at the Premiere with my good friend Jan (who had booked tickets for us to see the film at the Aylesbury Odeon on the night it was released on the following Friday), was a night to remember. In simple terms – glamour, glitter, celebrities in abundance, gorgeous ladies, equally delightful men, half the transvestite population of London who were simply fabulous and two birds from Hertfordshire.

Thanks to The One Show, I’ve got a story to dine out on for many years to come. Boring my friends with the details over and over again – not being able to get my head around it actually happening.

If I’d not bothered writing that email, it would never have happened. If you see an opportunity and think, I’ll leave it, not worth the effort, it’ll never happen to me, think again – there’s as much chance of it happening to you as it did for me. And you simply don’t know where any opportunity might lead you. The thing is, 6 months ago I was on the telly, people stopped me in Boots in my home town the next day to say, “Did I see you on the telly last night”, my kids friend’s parents saw me, blah blah blah. That was one moment, no one apart from me (and my long suffering friends) even remember that item on The One Show that night, but what it did was open up doors for me (hence this blog piece). I’ll always remember it and I’ll never regret sending that email.

An over used phrase maybe, but ‘Seize the Moment’ is definitely something I’ve done many times in my life and quite honestly, there’s always been more good than bad come out of it. Be your own marketing guru and be brave. Go on, give it a try! You may just enjoy it.

Stefan Sagmeister’s Top 5 | Create

The design master shares his top 5. What’s yours?

Do you agree with his picks for the five best designs?

Source: Stefan Sagmeister’s Top 5 | Create

POSTER: “Made in Japan" Designer: Tadanori Yokoo

POSTER: “Made in Japan, Tadanori Yokoo, Having Reached a Climax at the Age of 29, I Was Dead” Designer: Tadanori Yokoo

PACKAGING: Sufjan Stevens’ BQE Designer: Sufjan Stevens

PACKAGING: Sufjan Stevens’ BQE Designer: Sufjan Stevens

WAYFINDING/SIGNAGE/ENVIRONMENTAL: Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam

WAYFINDING/SIGNAGE/ENVIRONMENTAL: Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam Designer: Paul Mijksenaar

LOGO: Kewpie, Japanese Mayo Designer: Unknown

LOGO: Kewpie, Japanese Mayo Designer: Unknown

BRANDING SYSTEM: Unilever Designer: Wolff Olins

BRANDING SYSTEM: Unilever Designer: Wolff Olins

 

 

 

 

Acosta and French – not on the same night!

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the chance to attend two amazing events. Two equally talented individuals, who have been honing their craft for many years, sharing with the audience very special, personal moments.

On Friday 7th October I managed to get tickets for my daughter and I to attend Carlos Acosta’s final classical performance – The Classical Farewell at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London. To say that this was a treat is an understatement – we felt so privileged to be a part of the audience that night. We enjoyed some of the finest classical performances from our favourite ballets, performed by the cream of the Royal Ballet‘s crop of amazing artists, alongside Carlos; the dancer of my daughter’s generation who will inspire her, as my idol Mikael Baryshnikov inspired me in my youth. It was purely magical.

Carlos is a true athlete, a dedicated and disciplined dancer and although I’ll never know him personally, seems to be genuinely good man. He has a passion for dance that is expressed so thoroughly in every performance and the fact that his classical career has now come to an end is truly sad, but equally exciting knowing he is moving onto more contemporary work. After many magical classical pieces including Kenneth MacMillan’s Winter Dreams, Mayerling and Requiem, George Balanchine’s Apollo, Marius Petipa’s Don Quixote  he concluded with Memoria by Rambert’s Miguel Altunaga. It was pure, ridiculously perfect and so exciting – a taste of things to come.

When the final piece,  Memoria (a contemporary piece choreographed especially for Carlos), was complete, the audience was only too aware that we had just been witness to the last classical performance by the finest male ballet dancer of his generation. It was beautiful and sad. He moved from his final position to a single chair set off centre of the stage, sat down, removed his ballet shoes and placed them in his bag, replacing them with normal, everyday training shoes. A poignant, special, moving moment –  I can only imagine what must have been going through this great man’s mind. I sobbed with sadness that his classical career was over, but the sheer excitement of what is to come is something we cannot wait for.


My second event was last night (20th Oct) at the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand in London’s West End – Dawn FrenchThirty Million Minutes. I bought tickets for myself and my friend who had helped me out with a tricky time recently. We were excited about seeing Dawn on stage in this one woman show, but nothing could have prepared us for the story we were to hear .

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She started at the very beginning, her life with her family: meeting the Queen Mother, dreams of becoming a ballerina and a pop star, BOYS, stories of angelic and naughty grannies and the day to day life of a family travelling to wherever her father’s position in the armed forces placed them. A family unit that was so strong, yet not without its sadness.

The years as an adult – marriages, children, health and all things about being a ‘grown-up’ – were dealt with a beautifully considered respect, not only for herself but for her nearest and dearest. Her personal life remails personal, but we have an insight into what makes Dawn who she is – the person we see and love on our TV screens.

There was laughter and tears in equal measure, however the tears of laughter outweighed those of sadness. Optimism and positivity in abundance.

Dawn’s ‘performance’ felt so personal, to the point where you basically forgot you were watching an actress/comedienne – it was not acting, it was story-telling of the highest degree. Entertaining, moving, funny and a damn good story – a true story and one that she didn’t have to share with us, but chose to. That’s what people who love life and are happy in their own skin do.

What else can I really say about this remarkable woman, that won’t sound contrived and patronising? We were so touched by her candid, honest accounts of the many stages of her life to date; her self-deprecating humour and ability to openly convey how she’s dealt with the trials that life throws at us. It was a sheer pleasure and again, a privilege to be a member of the audience. Congratulations Dawn, you are truly inspiring.

(And thanks for liking my Tweet!)

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A Quick Start Guide to Adobe XD: 8 Essential Tutorials for Experience Design CC – GraphicStock BlogGraphicStock Blog

If, like me, you use the Adobe Creative Suite for just about all your graphic design work, you might find this interesting. I’m yet to dive into Adobe XD big time, having only had a brief look at it, so maybe if you’ve used it and have any comments about it, please feel free to let me know what you think.

Enjoy your creativity!

Source: A Quick Start Guide to Adobe XD: 8 Essential Tutorials for Experience Design CC – GraphicStock BlogGraphicStock Blog

Motivated and ready to go!

When that moment hits you, that you’re actually getting old and the body doesn’t do stuff like it used to it’s time to do something about it. Today I did just that.

I’ve been inspired by my 15 year old daughter. Every morning for the past week, she has been getting up at 6am to do her stretching & exercise regime. She’s doing this in order to achieve the maximum physical strength and agility required for her to reach her goal – being accepted on a dance course for her final two years at school. I used to be like her, ballet, & dancing in general, was my first love, it was my escape and my passion.

I’ve attempted going back as an adult several times, but always end up injured, both physically and mentally. The physical injuries leading to the mental ones – not being able to physically complete an exercise is as damaging to the body as it is to the brain. You feel deflated and fed up, and as a consequence start to wonder why you bother with the whole exercise thing. You can see a vicous circle happening here can’t you.IMG_5267

Anyway, today for the first time, I actually set my alarm for 6am. I must admit I nearly didn’t get up, I lay there for a few minutes until my daughter popped her head round the corner and said she was off to do her exercises. I then lay there for another few minutes trying to convince myself that having another half an hour in bed would be far nicer and tried to go back to sleep. I couldn’t. At that point I conquered the lazy devil on my shoulder and took up the challenge by the motivated, energetic angel on the other one; got dressed and heading out for a brisk half hour walk.

It was fabulous! The sun was shining, there was a nice breeze, and it was quiet – no chance of bumping into too many people. The odd dog walker, a man in a suit heading to the station and me.

I actually felt like I’d achieved something. There was a real buzz about that. I started my day in an energetic way and I intend on doing that every day from now on. Not sure how I’ll go once the dark days or Autumn and Winter come around, but for now I’ll do my best to remember why I’m doing this and what I’m achieving by sticking to it.

It’s as much for my health as it is for my kids – I want them to be proud of their Mum and to know that I’m looking after myself so that I’ll be around for them for as long as I can.

Happy Monday Everyone!


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Sunnyside Allotments

Record Store Day & The One Show

It was National Record Store Day on the 16.04.16 and even though I haven’t played any of my rather minuscule collection of records for many years, it was something that gave me such a feeling of warm fuzziness  inside. The pleasure of those youthful moments spent in the local record shop in my home town of Wangaratta seemingly a millennium ago, but as memorable as if it was yesterday. Dislocation, owned by local Tim Dickinson, was only a small shop, but as a teenager it was one of my go to places for an escape from my nagging mother. Somewhere to be me, enjoy whatever  music I wanted to without being asked “what’s that rubbish you’re listening to?”. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who experienced that and I must confess to now having to restrain myself to not say the same to my teenage kids every now and then. Mind you, I like most of their music, just can’t get my head round the rap stuff that my son insists on listening to sometimes.)

Skip to thirty years later and my collection of records are still in the box they’ve been in since leaving home to go to uni back in the mid 80’s. No record players to be seen in our student houses back then, it was all cassette tapes and ghetto blasters – not a ‘ghetto’ to be seen in Ballarat as such, but nevertheless, we all had our own versions of the said beasts.

My recent connection with this celebration of all things vinyl came quite out of the blue when I noticed a Tweet from the BBC One programme, The One Show. A current affairs/human interest programme that is aired live every evening at 7pm on BBC One. They were preparing a piece for National Record Store Day to be aired on Tuesday 19.04.16, asking for people who’d attempted to recreate a classic album cover, like the one that the other hugely successful BBC One programme Dr Who recreated. The classic Beatles cover for Abbey Road, replacing the Beetles with Daleks, the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his companion (Jenna Coleman).

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When I saw this, I just had to send them a few examples of a calendar I produced back in 2013 for one of the players of Northampton Rugby Club, Paul Diggin. It was Paul’s Testimonial year and the calendar was to be produced to raise money for his named charity based in Northampton called Niamh’s Next Step – raising money to fund research into childhood Neuroblastoma – an incredibly worthwhile charity to be able to help.

I was thrilled when The One Show contacted me via Twitter to say they were potentially going to feature one of my pieces of artwork. So excited! I posted my news to every social media platform that I use and got such a lovely response from friends and family worldwide. Not only did they show my work, but they chose the Take That album cover for Progress – to say I’m a die hard fan from their first time round, is an understatement. (Pretty chuffed about that – needless to say, it was one of my favourite months of the calendar.)

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Thanks to the lovely Alex Jones & Matt Baker and the production team at The One Show for making my day. Also to all my lovely friends for your kind words of support.

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Alex & Matt – presenters of The One Show

It’s little spontaneous moments like this that really make me smile and realise that no matter what, there are so many more wonderful things happening in my life and kind people to share them with that the crap stuff is simply blown out of the way.

Now all I need is for some exciting new clients to contact me for some more freelance graphic design work. That would make the perfect cover to my own favourite album!

Please feel free to contact me for any of your design needs or to just leave a comment -hopefully a nice one! I’d love to hear from you.

Bigger issues

During a conversation with a friend the other day, something she said made me stop and correct her – in a nice way, not a judgemental way. We were in the midst of a discussion that was basically a tennis match of issues. Hers, then mine, then hers, then mine… you get the idea. At one point, she said to me, “…my issues are not as important…”. Wait a minute, yes they are! Why are her issues not as important as mine? Of course they are, they’re her issues, they’re important to her. There’s no comparing when it comes to sharing your issues with a friend. We all have our issues and no one can tell you that your issues are less important, and neither should you even consider that. A true friend will rate your issues as important as their own. You can help each other to get those problems out there for discussion, find solutions or simply talk your heads off with a bottle of bubbles close by to simply alleviate the stress that they cause. A problem shared and all that.

One thing I’ve learnt over the years of dealing with ‘issues’ is that you cannot put them on a scale from 1 – 10 of importance. They are all equally important. Yes there are problems that we have to deal with on a daily basis in our civilised world that might seem insignificant in comparision to those dealing with ‘third world’ issues; nevertheless, they are our problems and they cause us stress, heartache and sadness. Never beat yourself up for feeling bad about something, it’s your bad time and you’re allowed to feel crap about that. The best thing to do is find someone who you can trust to share that bad time with and thrash it out. You might not solve it, but you’ll have a damn good try and possibly find something to laugh about as well.

Happy Wednesday everyone! I’m off to drink bubbles then to the theatre to see Sunset Boulevard – with a very good friend – therapy!

 

Game changer

When you find your life has all of a sudden taken an unexpected turn, it’s a bit tricky to be rational about choices and decisions. The first step to getting over this is to acknowledge when the irrational is merely a consequence of one’s situation and at that point, you need to grab it by the horns and battle the anxiety & angst head on.

One thing that I’ve learnt about myself over the last 20 years (from dealing with marriage, children, divorce, re-educating, new career, relationships, friendships…) is that you can never plan things, not really. Yes you can feel smug that you’ve got your diary filled with wonderful social events, meetings, work commitments and the odd holiday or weekend away; but when it comes to it, none of these are certain. Keeping an open mind about things not going quite to plan is a healthy way of dealing with life in general. If we’re too caught up with sticking to those diary entries, it becomes a relentless personal challenge to attempt perfection.

What’s so wrong about trying to get things right? Nothing, but sometimes it’s the getting things wrong that leads us to making better choices in the future. If we can come to terms with the mistakes that we make then we can learn from them and improve on the decision making process when faced with new challenges.

I love my work, but it’s not always as creative as I would like it to be. Recently I’ve realised that some of the work that I’ve been doing isn’t really challenging me in the way that allows me to grow my skills as a designer. It’s all about finding the balance and sometimes you have to say ‘no more’ and make that decision to change things. I did just that. I finished a job that was leading nowhere. When you look around, after three years, to find evidence of all your hard work and really can’t find it, you have to question whether your hard work is really what that business wants, despite what they  might need. Sometimes you have to deal with attitudes that are not prepared to accept that the world is changing, that they need to embrace those changes, enjoy them and reap the benefits. The penny finally dropped, I was wasting my time and energy, and my creativity was being stifled.

Time to exit. Time to move on. Time to think rationally and time to turn my life back around to a place that makes me happy and makes my kids happy. Looking after number one maybe a selfish thing to admit to, but it is necessary. My game changer moment has been a tough one, but certainly not something that I regret.

Being able to smile and laugh at life is sometimes a challenge, but one that should have a firm appointment in all our busy diaries. Have a damn good day!


 


 

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