Category Archives: Musings

The Power of Positive Thinking

I always try to stay positive and happy. Eckhart Tolle teaches that there is no past or future, there is only the present. There is only Now. And if we choose to be happy, then we are happy. So, if we choose Happiness Now, and remain rooted in the present, then we shall remain in a state of constant happiness. No “Pursuit of Happiness” required.

Don Miguel Ruiz, in his Four Agreements, teaches that something is a problem only if we allow it to be. And something can only affect us if we take it personally. So, I try not to take things personally. And I try to see opportunities instead of obstacles, solutions instead of problems.

However, it isn’t always easy. There will always be some people who, wrapped up in their own tangled web of worries and concerns, will drag you down to their level and zap the Spirit right out of you. It’s emotionally and mentally exhausting to go through that, I can tell you! These people have a problem for every solution, an obstacle for every opportunity. Their heads are screwed on upside down. And there is no point telling them anything different, because they have already made up their minds that they are right, and you are wrong.

It takes me a full day to recover psychically from these “Attacks of Negativity”. I’m left feeling drained and need a whole day to recharge myself with positive vibes. It’s also hard to Not take things personally, especially when you are being attacked on a personal level. At times like these, being in the Now can be excruciating.

Yesterday was one of those days. So I turned to my old haunt, Google Images, for quotes about Positivity and Happiness, to help me heal.

Here are my favourites:

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Favourite Quotes

Just a collection of my favourite quotes, curated from my Pinterest board, “Inspirational Thoughts”.

imageThis is so true. I never know how a piece of my Art will turn out, until it’s finished. But I know that if I let my self-doubt win, I would never even be able to start that project.

imageActually, my list is very short. I’m lucky enough to be able to do what I love, Art, on a daily basis. Everything else is a bonus.

imageIf you don’t take that first step, your Journey will never begin. The first step is always the hardest. What if I fall? Ahhh..but what if I fly?

imageI believe in empowering my fellow women, that is why I always encourage and support them, and never think about bringing them down. Why would I? Women are Awesome!

imageI believe we all owe ourselves the responsibility to stand up for justice and equality. Change must begin from within ourselves first, before it can affect the world outside. More people need to wake up to this realisation.

imageSmall minds want you to be just like them, and to stay with them at their level. They can’t bear to see you succeed or move on upwards, so they will endeavour to bring you down to their level by belittling everything you do. Don’t allow this!

imageEven Sylvia Plath suffered from self-doubt at the best of times. The question “What am I doing, why am I doing it, am I any good at it?” is forever on the minds of great creatives. Forget about what others think, just do it for yourself. If You like it, it’s good enough.

imageThis is so true. But there are also “Commercial” artists whose job is simply to churn out piece after piece of art, a la “Painting By Numbers”, to satisfy consumers. Such as commercial Art by Chinese artists for the home decor market. And then there are also artists who deliberately create controversial or expensive art, just to make a statement. Or artists who hire underlings to mix their paints and fill in prepared templates, in order to mass-produce “Art”. So, caveat emptor!

imageWords to live by. We can change the world, if we ALL pulled together, put our differences and egos aside, and really tried. Let’s do it!

imageI love this – the layered background, the turquoise colour, the sentiment. The world is as wonderful as you allow it to be.

A Morbid Fascination

I remember a trip to Singapore many years back, standing at the Victorian-style bay window glass double frontage of a Doll and Teddy Bear store. I’d gone there to look at the teddy bears, but it was the doll displays in the next window that caught my attention. For some reason, the dolls looked like dead babies, grey and ashen against the delicate pastel lace and frills of their accessories.

For this reason, I’ve never been into dolls, least of all the lifelike ones, or those that can cry and pee. I didn’t mind the Barbie-types, with their impossible proportions. I didn’t mind the GI Joe types for boys. I’m talking about a 40+ year-old woman here, dear readers, not a pre-teen girl.

Recently, though, I’ve discovered that I DO like dolls. Only one particular type of doll, though. And not because they’re beautiful, or cute (they’re both)…but, most bizarrely for myself, because they are plain weird, strange and morbid. Hmmm…maybe a reflection on myself? LOL.

I’m talking about Monster High dolls by Mattel. They appeared on the scene only a few years ago, in 2010, but such is their appeal that they are the Bratz dolls of the Noughties. Bratz are so 20th Century hehehe.

Monster High uses the strapline “Be Yourself. Be Unique. Be a Monster”. The range is inspired by monster and horror movies and popular thriller fiction. Think Frankenstein, the Loch Ness Monster, Dracula, Big Foot, Dia de Los Muertos, Jekyll and Hyde. Think dragons, ghosts, banshees, gargoyles, werewolves, big cats, mummies, gorgons, invisible men. Creatures from popular culture, turned into highly articulated 10-12 inch dolls (1:6 scale).

Monster High (MH) dolls have elfin faces on disproportionately large heads, a very curved spine, short torso and long, long legs. Some sport protruding ears, tails, fangs, fins or scales. They come in a wide range of colours, from normal flesh colours, to blue, green, lilac, grey. They have amazing to-die-for hair, in envious shades, lengths and styles. Their limbs are articulated, at the wrist, elbows, shoulders, neck, hips, knees and ankles, allowing them to be extremely poseable. Apart from the clothes they wear (expandable with the purchase of “fashion packs”), each doll comes with its own accessories, which may be a coffin-shaped mobile phone (but of course!), shoes or boots, pet, and any other accessory relevant to the theme or the doll’s character.

The original MH line began with a few main characters but soon expanded to include over 2 dozen, with weird and wonderful names like Frankie Stein, Operetta, Draculaura, Robecca Steam, Ghoulia Yelps, Spectra Vondergeist, Lagoona Blue, Jinafire Long, Skelita Calaveras, Marisol Coxi, Abbey Bominable, Toralei, Catrine deMew, Avea Trotter, Gigi Grant, Rochelle Goyle, Nefera de Nile, Cleo de Nile, Clawdeen Wolf, Howleen Wolf, Twyla, River Styxx, Venus McFlytrap, Casta Fierce etc. With each edition, or “Wave”, Mattel releases new versions of these characters, placing them in locations like Paris (“Scaris”), or Hollywood (“Frights, Camera, Action!”), adding new clothes and accessories, and along the way introducing some new characters and hybrids too. And yes, there are boy Monsters too, known as “Mansters” – Deuce Gorgon, Invisi Billy, Jackson Jekyll, Slo Mo Mortavich, Holt Hyde, Heath Burns, Gil Webber, Clawd Wolf, Porter Geiss, Neightan Rot etc. Headmistress Bloodgood of Monster High is literally headless, as in she’s able to carry her head in her hands, and rides a blue horse called Nightmare.

Add to this already highly successful franchise a range of movies, online videos, Young Adult books, clubs, add-on packs, furniture sets etc and Mattel have a real winner on their hands.

Yes, yours truly knows her Monster High dolls, because she’s been secretly researching their suitability for a future Project. Shhhh!! ;-)

I believe MH dolls should be considered Art Dolls, as they are manufactured to very high standards, and their degree of articulation and poseability, and appeal to all ages, is unsurpassed. All other dolls fall by the wayside when compared to MH. Which is why many artists have taken to customising MH dolls, with startlingly beautiful results.

Here are just several images of my favourite customised MH dolls, curated from Pinterest. You’ll appreciate why I’ve waxed so lyrical about these dolls. They’re amazing! And the artists that created them – WOW! SUCH TALENT! is all I can say.

Enjoy! From this:
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To these:
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T for Taylor, T for Thoughts

I recently had an Art Exchange of sorts, with a photographer friend, Taylor Jorjorian. I follow Taylor’s blog, and when he posted up a photo of one of his newest works, “Forma 50″, I felt I just had to have a print of it. So, I contacted Taylor and he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Taylor sent me “Forma 50″ and a gorgeous matte black & white photo of another work “The Middle Of A Rhyme”. Money aside, I also sent Taylor one of my Juicy Journals.

When Taylor’s prints arrived, the package was so professionally put together, including certificates of authenticity and edition number, and not to mention the gorgeous lusciousness of the actual prints themselves…so much so that I felt our exchange was somewhat uneven. So I’m sending him another one of my Juicy Journals.

I haven’t found the perfect frames for my prints yet, they’ll have to be good ones to do justice to the superb quality of Taylor’s photography. But here are a couple of photos of “Forma 50″ and “The Middle Of A Rhyme”, taken from Taylor’s website, just to tempt you, and so you know what all the fuss is about.

image “Forma 50″ by Taylor Jorjorian

image “The Middle Of A Rhyme” by Taylpr Jorjorian

And here is the Juicy Journal I’ll be posting to Taylor. I used a simple pamphlet stitch, and when I cast about looking for a bead to add to the journal, I remembered that I had some Tim Holtz Idea-Ology thingamajigs that I could use. In the Muse Tokens packet I found a “T” that was just perfect for my purposes. It says “Thoughts” on the token.

And so here is my Juicy Journal “T for Taylor, T for Thoughts”.

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Inside one of the pages.

(Yes, that IS a black shoelace I’ve used to bind the journal. I came across a whole bunch of new waxed shoelaces for only 50 cents each at a sale. They looked perfect for binding my journals, so I bought several).

Mother’s Day 2015

Happy Mother’s Day to those countries celebrating it on Sunday 10th May 2015. Happy Mother’s Day to my own Mum. And to my 2 grandmothers, both sadly departed, and to my Mother-in-Law, also sadly departed.

I’ve curated some Mother’s Day quotes from good ole Google Images, just to share them here with you. No soppy roses and run-of-the-mill off-the-shelf sentiments here, but a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Mother.

I’m off to celebrate with The Kid today, by Abandoning some handmade bookmarks on the foreshore, and having a look at Rockingham’s “Castaways” sculpture on the beach exhibition. Followed by lunch at the Hog’s Breath Cafe at noon, with a complimentary Mother’s Day slice of Mississippi Mudcake that I’ll let him have. So that is why today’s post is extra early, in the morning instead of after 3pm.

I can’t believe my Jack is turning 13 this Halloween. He is the reason I get to celebrate Mother’s Day, without him there would be no cause for me. In fact, come to think of it, every day is Mother’s Day for me, as we are best friends and confidantes, and we go to the cinema together and have lunch or dinner dates. Or go cycling around town and chill at Baskin-Robbins, eating ice cream. In summertime, we hang out in our swimming pool, diving for rings and doing flips and just chatting. I drag him along to Art Abandonment drop-offs, to ComicCon and SupaNova “geek” conventions. I take him along to my favourite Malaysian restaurant in the city, Papparich, even though he doesn’t like spicy food (he has chicken nuggets and chips there, while I enjoy my chicken curry and beef rendang with rice). We tackle the dreaded Homework together, as if we’re playing the arcade game “Whack-A-Mole”. I listen to his grumbles and emphatise with his various complaints about bullies at school. I fix the squeaks and creaks in his bike…when you can’t find the WD40, dishwashing liquid works just as well. I nag him to tidy up his room (still working on that winning formula). He fills my life with all the little extra chores that I would normally not have to do, that eat away at my “me” time.

I would not have it any other way. Being Jack’ Mother enriches my life. Being a full-time Mother is the hardest job ever, and I haven’t a clue what I’m doing or even if I’m doing it right, I just make it up as we go along. You don’t get paid a single cent in money, the salary is zero. But you get paid with lots of Love instead. And lots of hugs and kisses. And giggles and laughter, as well as tears and tantrums. I love it!

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Art Quotes

Last week I posted on Facebook’s “Art Abandonment” Group Wall about my handmade Juicy Journals that I was abandoning. I thought I might get a dozen or so people commenting on it. Imagine my surprise when I received over 400 “likes”, and several dozen compliments about my Juicy Journals. That’s way more than my usual Facebook Wall posts ever get. Really chuffed and greatly encouraged by my fellow Art Abandoneers, thank you folks! :-)

I had several enquiries about whether I would be selling any of my Juicy Journals. I haven’t made enough to warrant selling them on my Etsy store yet…but you never know. Money is not my motivation for creating Art…but it does come in handy to buy more paints, inks and paper.

In addition to the 10 Juicy Journals that I abandoned in my town, I posted off a further 5 Juicy Journals to people who had expressed an interest in getting one. One of the 5 is a teacher in America, who intends to use my Juicy Journal as an end-of-term Art project for her class. Honoured, I am!

All this got me to thinking: “What does Art mean to me?” And so I did my usual modus operandi and looked up Art quotes on Google Images. I found several that resonated with me, so I’ll share them with you here:

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I also found one that describes me. I realise I am an Artist who also creates handmade/handbound books, marrying my passion for Gelli Plate printing with the same for making one-off Juicy Journals.
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Why “One More Line” is like Real Life

The Kid and I came across the computer game “One More Line” at Comic Con in Perth last month. It was rigged up like an arcade game, with just a simple monitor and a rotating ball button control. The premise is deceptively simple: get the highest score you can. You pilot a half-circle object which trails 3 coloured lines, up, around and past coloured obstacles of different sizes. Each obstacle is a similar, circular shape, and they all spin around with varying speeds, the bigger ones tend to spin more sluggishly than the little ones, and the closer you swing to them, the faster. There is only one control function – tap and hold to grab and spin around an obstacle i.e grapple, or let go to move on with a straight trajectory. Two lines, on on either side of your “runway” serve as barriers or walls – if you’re grappling an obstacle i.e holding on and swinging around it, your Pilot may pass through the walls safely. But if you’re in freefall mode i.e not tapping and holding the screen, you will crash and smash into smithereens if you hit the wall on either side, or if you crash into one of the obstacles.

“One More Line” is by the developers SMG and is available on both iOS and Android. They also have other games available, so if you like “One More Line”, you might like the others just as much.

Watch this video on how to play “One More Line”. It will give you a good idea just how addictive this game is. Oh, and if you don’t want a musical earwig (where you can’t sleep because the theme tune from some movie or App is playing on a loop through your brain), I’d play this game with the volume off.

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Sounds easy peasy, right? Wrong. The more I play “One More Line”, the more I’m thinking that it has a lot of similarities to Real Life. Here’s why:

1. In Life, the path is never straightforward, but goes round and about and is often full of obstacles.

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2. Some obstacles are tiny, others are huge. The Path you take and the decisions you make determine whether you come across the big ones or the little ones.

3. Some obstacles may be circumvented or bypassed by making clever or wise decisions. Others are too big to slide past or ignore, and must be tackled head on. Be careful that your decisions don’t lead you straight into another obstacle. Or worse, into a brick wall.

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4. You mustn’t get too cocky with your success, because pride always goes before a fall. The higher up you go, the more humble you must become. Control those impulses too! Don’t get too carried away because accidents happen when you’re taking too many risks.

5. You only have 1 Life. Crash, and it’s over. So, be careful with your actions and decisions, and always look where you’re heading. Be prepared to take last minute evasive action or change your direction. Sometimes, even an about turn may be called for.

6. If you tried and failed, try again. Try harder, fail better, and then succeed. Learn from your mistakes, and try not to repeat them.

7. In Life, we are all monkeys swinging from one branch to another. So keep practising those monkey swings, and let’s see how far you can go!

Social Observations: The New Religion

I was just scrolling through my Facebook feed, having read another shared post about the latest Apple vs Android debacle, followed by another one about some pastor who’s asking his congregation for a few million dollars so he can buy his own private jet…and suddenly my mind just made a connection between the two hitherto unrelated posts.

Apple fans have long been against Android fans, even more so against Samsung users, as Samsung is Apple’s main competitor. To say they hate each other is perhaps putting it mildly. I’ve owned both Apple iPhones and Android mobiles, so I can appreciate both sides of the coin. But I’ve lost friends on Facebook because I dared compare the long, snaking queues to buy the Apple iPhone 6, back in September 2014, to the bread queues of the Recession. Yes, really…one of those so-called “friends” on Facebook called me a hypocrite for using an iPhone and liking tech devices and gadgets, while at the same time “slagging off” Apple for pandering to consumers’ greed and egos.

It’s widely accepted that diehard zealots of Apple are members of the “Cult of Apple”, and that they will defend Apple’s products with their lives. Even when shown hard bare facts that some of Apple’s products are not as good as their competitors’ products, or not worth the bang for their buck. Even when shown how Apple devices are made using what’s tantamount to slave labour, in Chinese factories where workers never see the light of day and where suicides are a common occurrence. These Apple Cultists will gratefully swallow whatever expensive, non-essential new piece of bling Apple spews out.

I went to see what the big fuss was about, when the Apple Watch came out recently. (I wonder why it isn’t called the iWatch, with the “i” prefix, like all Apple’s other products?). The Apple rep at the store was waxing lyrical about this and that, even though I pointed out that 1) it doesn’t take or make calls 2) it doesn’t take photos 3) you can read your emails, sure, but you can’t reply unless it’s with a short previously prepared message 4) it’s going to pose a real driving hazard because drivers who get pinged while driving will be taking their eyes off the road to look at their wrists 5) why the obsession with counting heartbeats and steps? If you’ve been running, or if you’re excited, of course your pulse will be racing. So what? 6) Apple claims there’s a watch for everyone. Wow, like Joe Bloggs the hardworking blue-collar worker with a wife, 2 kids and another one on the way, can afford to fork out $500 for something that a $50 watch can do better? And, in this day and age, who can afford to splash out on a $24000 gold Apple Watch? When the same $24000 can feed Joe Bloggs’ entire family for a whole year?

But, as with iDiots, there will always be some rich people with no care for their community, environment, family, but only for themselves, who will buy that $24000 Apple Watch.

Just because they can. And just because it has the Apple logo on it, that they can show off. The world can go burn in hell, for all they care. It’s their money, they can buy what they like with it. What global warming? What climate change? What rainforest? What drought? What hunger? What poverty? What homelessness?

So…

Back to where I first started. If we were to compare Apple and Android to religion, then you could say that Apple is Catholicism, and Android is Protestantism. (Meaning no disrespect to Catholics and Protestants here, just using the religions as analogies).

Apple considers itself The Best, The Most Righteous, Catholic God, while Android fans are Protestants because there are so many different brands out there, all with their own good and bad points, but they just can’t agree amongst themselves so the schisms keep happening.

My two cents’ worth? Don’t follow the blind leading the blind. Find your own way, make your own path, follow principles that sit true with you and you alone. Buy products or follow brands that are ethical, guilt-free, GM free, organic, sustainable. Don’t just follow the Emperor, for the Emperor has no clothes.

And you know what else? If you really sit down and think about it, you don’t even really need a mobile phone. Not even the most basic model. People were perfectly fine before mobile phones came along. Now look at us. Tied to technology, not for any useful purpose, though, just to distract us from facing reality. Stuff you can and should do at the office at work, has now come home to us. As adults, we now have Homework again. Why not leave work at work, and go home and enjoy quality time with your family and children instead? Don’t be a slave to Technology, just like we are slaves to Money.

Me? I love my gadgets, to be sure…but nowadays I’d rather be in my studio making Art.

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Social Observations: Bronies

Today’s post, and tomorrow’s is a hodgepodge of different observations on modern society. Not so much Urban Legends like crocodiles in the sewer, or Bloody Mary etc. Just some things I’ve found out recently, or stuff which fell into my head suddenly in a “Eureka!” moment.

Let’s talk Bronies. The Kid is a self-confessed Brony. He just came out one day and told me he liked My Little Pony (hereafter referred to as MLP). I remembered those sweet little cartoon ponies from the days when I used to watch Care Bears and He-Man and the Masters Of The Universe, and She-Ra. Yup, THAT long ago. So what if MLP was originally aimed at an audience of little girls aged 6.

No biggie. The Kid told me that males who liked MLP are called Bronies (or Brony in the singular), a portmanteau word combining “Bro(ther)” and “(Po)ny”. Female fans are Pegasisters after Pegasus (all MLP ponies have wings). Very young fans are called “Colts”. I guess being a Brony’s Mum that makes me a Pegasister by default.

Being a Brony is just like being a Doctor Who fan (did you know there’s even a Doctor Who Pony called Doctor Whooves? Yes, really, and I’m going to get it for myself). Bronies stand up there with the likes of other cosplay convention nerds (yours truly, minus the cosplay). It doesn’t matter one jot if you’re a heterosexual male, or gay, or bisexual etc. Bronies transcend gender stereotyping, they are simply male fans of MLP who refuse to accept that MLP is for girls only. Cool with me!

Here’s an excellent primer on the subject of Bronies:
http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/subcultures/bronies

And here’s a poster that I just ordered on eBay for The Kid. It’s an amazing 43×24 inch one showing the character Rainbow Dash with a sword between its teeth, against a dark background sprinkled with stars. I think it’s totally rad!

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I’m an Eclectic Magpie

Today’s post is just a motley collection of images that appeal to me, curated from my travels in the wonderful lands of Pinterest and Google Images. All credit and copyright remain with the original artist/photographer/designer etc. I always save my favourites to my Pinterest boards (just search for AlyZen Moonshadow), so if you need further information about any particular image, that’s where you should head first.

What can I say, I’m an eclectic magpie. I collect images like the ones below, to help stir up my creative juices, provide a springboard for inspiration, serve as colour or mood boards for future photography and art projects, trigger nostalgia, or just make me feel all sunshiney happy and gooey on the inside. :-)

Enjoy!

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Have a wonderful weekend, all! :-)