Monthly Archives: September 2014

Workflow : INITIATE

Here is another card from my Oracle Cards project. The card is called “INITIATE”. I was inspired by a graphic I saw on Pinterest, which utilised curlicues, shape templates and borders.

For the background, I chose a photo of a piece of scrapbooking paper (oh, I have hundreds of those!).

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Which I then processed on my Samsung Galaxy S4 with the app PicsArt. I added a frame, some curlicues and a shaped template, from the Clipart section of PicsArt. Then I added the text “INITIATE”.

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My initial idea was to create an image that looked vintage and mysterious. I quite liked the above image already as it was, but I felt it was missing something.

So I loaded the image to Pixlr Express and toyed with a few filters and effects. Then I noticed a new set of effects that the developers post up for a limited time every now and then, like a teaser.

Of all the effects I tried on my image, this geometric one spoke to me the most.

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And there you go. 🙂

INITIATE : If you have a project or a plan but you have been procrastinating about starting it, now is the perfect time to put things into motion. Initiate action now, and things will fall into place. Don’t overthink it, trust your instincts and your heart will tell you if you’re going the right way.

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Australian Aboriginal Artist : Walangari Karntawarra

Continuing with my exploration of Australia’s Aboriginal artists…it never ceases to amaze me how this country continues to produce such a plethora of talented people, each one even more amazing than the next, if that is even possible. It must be something in the hard red earth of Australia.

Walangari Karntawarra is a contemporary Australian Aboriginal artist. He has a distinct style that is somewhat different from other “Dot Painting” artists. I like to describe his style as “evolved”, as it shows a subtle shift in nuance from other contemporary Aboriginal artists…it is hard to explain, just look at the images below (courtesy of Google Images). You can see direct representations of animals such as snakes, and in another painting you can almost discern a decidedly modern Jackson Pollock-like style, in yet another abstractness lives side by side with traditional Aboriginal symbols. All done with a meticulous eye for colour, clarity and detail.

Walangari also has his own website
Walangari states on his website: “Aboriginal Art encompasses a wealth of visual art, dance, performance and music. These art forms are all part of our traditional culture and remain important ways of educating people about our beliefs.”

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I’m seeing Raccoons…

Sometimes, strange things happen that make you sit up and pay attention. Mostly it’s patterns – once I noticed 3 women with casts on their right legs, all in the same town as I was cycling around. Another time there seemed an inordinate number of pregnant ladies around. Then there were the 4 men in the same t-shirt in various different locations. Sometimes it’s numbers – repetitions of 2, or sequences like 7171, or I wake up at 3:33am, 4:44am etc.

Today it was Raccoons.

1. First, a friend on Facebook posted up some photos of her visit to a Birds Of Prey centre in Ireland. One of the photos showed her petting a raccoon. I especially noticed it because raccoons are not native to Ireland, and besides, it was a Birds of Prey centre.

2. Another friend on Facebook posted up a video of a raccoon stealing the cats’ food. http://youtu.be/FTcjzaqL0pE

3. Yet another friend posted this up. “Raccoons are Awesome” http://youtu.be/jlYKZmTvzi0

4. Here’s another raccoon related post I saw just before bedtime last night.

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Too many raccoons to be a coincidence. So I looked up Raccoon in Steven D. Farmer’s “Power Animal Oracle Cards”. I wasn’t familiar with the deck, having only received it 3 days ago. So I wasn’t sure if there would be a Raccoon card in it.

But there was! And it said “You have all the RESOURCES you need”.

I’m taking this as a sign that my Oracle Cards and Lenormand Cards projects, which are running concurrently, are achievable. I’ve done enough research into the logistics and practicalities, and I’ve also created some of the cards already, on my smartphone.

Either that, or Facebook is testing out some new algorhithm on its users, and bombarding images of raccoons here and there, for people to pick up and share.

And now…just to seal the deal, I’m off to watch Resident Evil on DVD, not sure which one from the 4 movies, but I like them all. Oh hey, guess what…it revolves around wait for it…Raccoon City! 😄

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No Teddy Bears Picnic

If you go down to the woods today…

Just some awesome photos that I’ve collated here from a couple of my Pinterest boards. I’ve been pinning them under “Amazing Places” or “Awesome Photos”, sometimes both! I’ve always loved images of trees in a forest, shrouded by mysterious mist and fog, with shafts of sunlight breaking through. Could be the Red Riding Hood in me 😄.

If you’re wanting to know who the photographers are, please look at my Pinterest boards, and when you click on the images therein, you will be taken to the website. Magic carpet wha hey!! 😁 If you’re not on Pinterest yet, why ever not?

Don’t you just want to go there already? Just to stand and stare, and wonder at the glorious magic of Mother Nature?

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Art Licensing Caveats – from Joan Beiriger’s Blog

Since some of my Art is licensed with a number of Art Licensing Agents, I subscribe to Joan Beiriger’s blog, to keep up to date with the industry and also to chase up any leads Joan may introduce.

Joan has just written an editorial about what to watch out for when dealing with Art Licensing Agencies. If you are an Artist looking to get your Art licensed, or even if you are already a licensed artist, the following can still be useful information to bear in mind. I have taken the liberty of simply reposting Joan’s entire article here verbatim, for your ease of reading, in case you’re not subscribed to her blog. Joan is an expert on the subject and I’m most certainly not, so the purpose of this post is to simply disseminate Joan’s message to those who may not already know. (Note: Hyperlinks to books and resources mentioned below are clickable on Joan’s blog, but not on this page).

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From Joan Beiriger’s blog:


Art Licensing Editorial: The Truth About Art Licensing Agencies

WARNING! This is not an upbeat article and is depressing because the art licensing industry is like other industries where people sometimes take advantage of others. The purpose of this article is to warn artists that they need to make sure that they are signing a fair contract or at least know the repercussions in signing an unfair one when they agree to have an art licensing agency represent them.

The truth about art licensing agencies is that there are MANY agencies that are honest, professional, have a fair artist/agency agreement (contract)* and work hard to represent their artists. BUT, there are SOME that are unethical, and/or are not professional in dealing with their artists, and/or have unfair contracts, and/or have poor business practices. Sounds alarming, huh? Well, it is! And, that is why an artist needs to do her/his homework before signing with an art licensing agency. Read the following so that you do not make a bad decision and sign a contract that negatively impacts your income and even worse allows an agency to have control of all your art so that you lose your rights to it.

In the fifteen or so years that I have been in the art licensing industry, I have heard many complaints and some horror stories from artists about the agencies that represent them. Unfortunately, those artists with the horror stores were so pleased that an agency wanted to represent them that they did not read the contract closely enough, understand all the terms, or realize that some terms that should be in the contract were missing. The artist’s big mistake was not to acquire information about the agency’s reputation and business practices by asking other artists and not having an attorney that is an expert on art licensing contracts look the contract over before the artist signed it.

* The artist/agency agreement is a contract and is referred to as a contract or artist/agency contract in this article.

Common Artist Complaints about Agents
Most of the complaints I’ve heard about agencies are not as drastic as unethical agencies and unfair clauses in the artist/agency contract but about the lack of communication between the agent and artist, poor business practices, not getting enough or any licensing contracts with manufacturers, and not receiving enough money from the contracts. Some of these complaints were because the artist had unrealistic expectations such as earning a lot of money from each licensee contract. Read below for more information about agency complaints.

• Lack of communication
Lack of communication and not being on the “same wavelength” between persons is a common human foible. It often results in frustration and may be intolerable when working together. Some artists want to be in constant communication with their agent and feel adrift and slighted if the agent does not immediately answer their questions or respond when new art is sent. Other artists realize that agents are busy and will respond as soon as they have time and are not upset when they do not get a quick response. Although, it does not go over very well if the agent does not respond at all. No one like their emails or art to “drop into a black hole” and not know if the agent received it. Note: Some artists find that if they phone the agent they will get a faster response than if they email her/him. Agents may not have the time in their busy day to sit down and write an email but find the time to chat if their artists phone them.

Some artists expect agents to provide art direction, to send them the latest in art trends, and give feedback from the licensee when art is submitted. Or, there are personality clashes where communication between the artist and agent does not work because they are not on the same wavelength. Not all agencies provide art direction and some depends on the artist to keep up with trends. That is why it is important for the artist to talk with the agent before signing with the agency to see if there are any communication problems, if the agency provide the services the artist expects, and how the agent envisions the artists work will be used on products.

Artist Jill Meyer describes the process she went through in selecting an agency in her very informative article “Finding a New Agent.” An important part of Jill’s process in selecting an agency was talking and asking lots of questions of the agent before considering hiring the agency to represent her. Also important was talking to other artists about the agency and having an attorney familiar with art licensing agree that the artist/agent contract was fair.

• Poor Business Practices
SOME agencies do not have the best business practices. They are negligent in submitting art, do not make adequate follow-ups, do not keep track of art already submitted or licensed to manufacturers, and do not respond to emails from licensees or send signed contracts back to them in a timely manner. Any of these will damage the creditability of the agency. The following are some complaints I have heard from other artists and licensees.

1. Poor method in tracking art
– Some agencies do not keep track of the art they submit to licensees and thus submit the same art time and time again. Licensees are looking for new art; not art that they already have seen.

– Some agencies book keeping abilities are not very good and they do not keep track of the art that have already been licensed. Thus, they are at risk in licensing the same art for the same product to different licensees and breaching the terms of the contract granted to the first licensee.

2. Poor response to queries and return of contracts
Some agencies do not reply to licensee emails or return signed contracts in a timely manner. Art directors appreciate quick responses and it shows that the agent is professional which helps in promoting future business. Also, a slow reply to a query can mean missed opportunities to license and promote art.

3. Poor follow-up
– Some agencies do not follow-up frequently when licensees show interest in art and thus they may lose the opportunity to license it.

– Also, some are poor in following up when payment of licensing fees are late or contracts do not arrive when expected.

4. Poor method in submitting art
Some agencies submit their artist’s work to their entire client list in what I call a “shot gun method” in the hopes the licensee will be interested in some of them. Instead they should be submitting only the appropriate art for each manufacturer. Licensees do not appreciate getting a ton of art that is not suitable to be put on their products and will eventually not open emails from agencies that submit art that way.

• Not enough deals or pay enough
Artists may not get licensing contracts because the agency does not have a list of licensees that is suitable for the artists work. Of course, the agency should never have signed the artist for representation if they did not think they could license her/his work. Or, it could be due to the impact on the licensing industry with the change in consumer spending and also the increase in competition of artists vying for licensing deals. The change in consumer spending has drastically changed the way retailers sell products. Retailers now order lesser products from manufacturers and the shelf life is shorter. Thus, licensing revenue per image is less than it was before the recession struck in 2008. Consequently it is not the fault of the agency to now get fewer and not as lucrative licensing deals for their artists.

Artists and art licensing agencies are struggling to get contracts and bring in revenue. In the article “You Are Not Going to Make It in Art Licensing” art licensing agent Jim Marcotte of Two Town Studios wrote, “Art licensing today is an industry in search of a workable model. The scramble is on – agents and artists who used to make their money by licensing art are now finding ways to collect from (mostly newbie) artists in ways that run the gamut from coaching to holding contests. Some agencies are accumulating artists, hoping that more people earning less money can make up for the reduced sku counts and short market runs. Branding agencies are taking on artists and art agencies are promoting brands, and both are consulting for manufacturers who are buying art worldwide and licensing art only when they have to. It’s a wild time in the biz.” Jim’s article is a very “tough pill to swallow” but his aim is not to discourage artists so they quit trying to license their art but to energize them by trying new ways to license it. To get Jim’s perceptive on licensing art in today’s market, read his article.

Note: I recommend that you read Belgium surface designer Ine Beerten’s article “The Big Contest Dilemma” if you are interested in entering a design contest. Ine wrote a really thought-provoking article about contests. She ended her post with “So what do I hope you take away from this post? I hope you think careful when you enter a contest next time, think whether it’s just an easy way for the company to get free artwork and cheap marketing and whether the prizes are truly fair, or if you can really gain something that is actually worth something to you. By entering these bad contests you only help them devaluating your own and other artists’ work!”

Artist/ Agent Contracts
In “16 Art Licensing Agent Agreement Essentials” by licensing consultant J’net Smith, she states that “It’s easy to get excited about the prospect of finally signing with an agent and forget to make sure that the contract is not only fair to both of you, but includes everything you need. . . Don’t accept the first contract you are given without understanding all the obligations and ramifications of each clause. It may be your first and the most important contract you will ever sign.”

Artists may interpret the terminology and meaning of legal terms or poorly written clauses in a contract incorrectly. And, if clauses that should be in the contract are missing such as the date and terms specifying termination, the artist may be obligated that the agency continues to represent her/him forever. That is why it is recommended that an attorney experienced in art licensed legislation look over the contract before the artist signs it. It is less expensive to pay an attorney to make sure the contract is fair to the artist than to pay him/her to try to free the artist from a bad contract even if it is possible.

• Unethical business practices and contract terms
What I deem unethical is when an agency does not pay monies due to artists for licensing their art or taking advantage of artists by having clauses in their artist/agency contract that takes control of the artists work and denies the artist usage of their own work.

Several years ago two artists told me that their agencies were not paying them revenue for their art being licensed. Their agents insisted that the art had not been licensed and yet the artists saw their art on products in stores. In one case, the artist was able to get monies owed by hiring an attorney. In the other case, the artist found out that her copyright was infringed upon and the art was illegally used. It is important that artists be constantly looking for their art on products in stores and on the Internet. And, getting their friends to help. That may be the only way that an artist finds out that their copyright has been infringed upon.

In the article “Hot Words to look out for in contracts” art licensing agent Lance Klass of Porterfield’s Fine Art Licensing discusses the word “assign” and the consequence when used in any art/agency or licensee contract. He wrote “. . . when you see the hot word “assignment”, make certain that you’re not assigning the copyright or all reproduction rights to your artwork as a part of the agreement. If you do, it’s lost to you forever. Other people will control the reproduction rights to your art, and you’ll actually have to ask their permission to reproduce the art that you created.”

Lance relates a couple of horror stories that artists endured by signing bad contracts in his article “How to Avoid the Most Common Mistakes in Licensing Your Art”. In one example, Lance said “. . . This agency, which just happened to be owned and operated by the same people who owned and operated the publishing company, gave itself the exclusive right to publish any or all of the artist’s work for the next five years and to sublicense his art to anyone they wished, whenever they wished”. He stated, “If there’s any one piece of advice I could give an artist about to enter a legal agreement, it is to read every single line in the contract and make sure that you totally understand it. I know that isn’t easy for most people, but don’t get in the water if you don’t want to get wet. If you find that there are sections or sentences that aren’t written clearly, don’t say what you want, take away a bit more of your rights than you feel you want to give, or if any of it seems confusing or contradictory, have the company rewrite it in plain English. . . . But don’t let this stop you from promoting your art for license. Most companies are quite reputable and many contracts are completely understandable by the average human. Just make sure you read every word, and know what it means”.

• Unfair contract terms and business practices
Not all agencies have unfair terms in their art/agency contracts but some do. Terms that seem unfair to artists are usually in the contract because of the way the agent decides to operate the agency. For instance, a clause in the contract may state that the agent will make all decisions in licensing the art. That means that the artist has no say-so in what company manufacturers her/his art, will not have the opportunity to approve or not approve the licensee contract or even see it, and cannot approve the amount of royalties or flat licensing fee that will be paid for the use of the art. That is unfair to the artist. But, the artist may trust the agent to do a good job and is willing to sign the contract because she/he wishes to be represented by the agency. What is NOT acceptable is if the artist is blindsided and not aware that the terminology in the clause gives the agency that right. And, that is the reason why an art licensing attorney should be hired to point out unfair terms in the contract before it is signed. Note: Yes, there are agencies that have that clause in their contract.

Below are more contract terms and business practices (may not be in the contract) that may be construed as unfair to artists.

1. Artists do not get to see licensee contracts
A variation on the above unfair term is that an artist does not see the licensee contract but gets to approve or not approve the contract. The agent sends a form to the artist with the basic terms of the deal so that the artist can sign it for approval. Just like the above term, the artist must trust the agent that she/he makes sure that the clauses in the licensee contract is fair.

2. Agencies continues to receive commission after termination
Most agree that the termination clause is the most important clause in the artist/agency contract. In his article “The Artist – Agent Relationship” art licensing attorney Joshua Kaufman states, “The greatest issue of tension and dispute between artists and their agents surround post-termination issues. . . . The issue of how long an agent is entitled to keep receiving its commission after the contracts terminates, is one that is strongly negotiated. Agents of course, wish to be compensated for not only the full term of their contract but for the term of the licensing agreement and of all extensions and renewals. The artist wants to limit the payment to the agent after their contract expires. Agents believe that they secured the contract, they work long and hard, had to wait for their money and should be entitled to their receipts throughout the term of the contract. ” Note: Most contracts do give the agency the right to continue receiving commissions from the contracts they obtained for the artist until the contract expires and no renewals are requested by the licensee.

3. Agencies continues to represent the artist after termination
Some agencies have clauses in their contract that allows them to continue representing the artist after the termination of the contract. The representation is for an additional several years after termination and is limited to those licensees that the agency obtained contracts for the artist’s work during the term of the contract. There are questions on the legality of this clause according to attorney Joshua Kaufman in his article “The Artist – Agent Relationship”. He states “One finds in many agreements prohibitions against dealings by an artist, post termination, with the agent’s clients. First of all there is a question (which depends on which state law applies) whether those clauses are enforceable and to what extent. . . If the agent’s client list is very large, and there is a blanket restriction against dealing with the agent’s clients, and this precluded the artist from doing business or greatly hampered their ability, many states will disallow the restriction.”

4. Do not allow any interaction between the artist and licensee
There may not be a clause in the artist/agency contract but some agencies do not allow their artists to interact with licensee art directors. All licensee requests for high-resolution art are sent to the agent who forwards it to the art director. And, all requests for editing of the art go through the agent. This is awkward and frustrating to the artist. It is much easier and faster for the artist to make art changes if she/he works directly with the art director.

5. Artists do not get to approve samples
Not all licensing contracts allow the approval of art on the products before they are manufactured. But if it is in the licensee contract, the agent normally approves the samples and not the artist. That restriction may not be in the artist/agency contract but because of licensee time restrictions it is not usually possible for the agent to ship the sample to the artist for approval.

6. Artists are required to pay part of booth and marketing expenses of the agency
Many agencies do not require artists to pay any of the agency expenses. But, if they do required their artists to help with trade show and other agency expenses it should be clearly spelled out in the artist/agent contract according to art licensing consultant J’net Smith in “16 Art Licensing Agent Agreement Essentials”.

Summary
There are many good art licensing agencies. But, do not get blindsided and sign a bad contract. Do your homework and ask agents for recommendations of artists in their agency to talk to and/or look at agency websites for the artists the agencies represent. Select a few artists and find out their contact information from their own website, Facebook or LinkedIn. Either phone or email them to ask questions about the agency. Make sure that you fully understand all the terms in the artist/agency contract. And better yet, hire an attorney that knows the ins-and-outs of art licensing to look over the contract and point out any unfair clauses before you sign it.

For a list of agencies, read “List of Over 50 U.S. Art Licensing Agencies”. But, you need to research the agencies yourself because I am not familiar with all of them or their artist/agency agreements (contracts).

Resources:
The above post mentions quotes from the following articles. I recommend that you read these articles because they contain a lot of important information you should be aware of.

• “Finding a New Agent” by licensed artist Jill Meyer

• “You Are Not Going to Make It in Art Licensing” by art licensing agent Jim Marcotte of Two Town Studios

• “The Big Contest Dilemma” by Belgium surface designer Ine Beerten

• “16 Art Licensing Agent Agreement Essentials” by art licensing consultant J’net Smith

• “Hot Words to look out for in contracts” by art licensing agent Lance Klass of Porterfield’s Fine Art Licensing

• “How to Avoid Mistakes in Licensing Your Art” by art licensing agent Lance Klass of Porterfield’s Fine Art Licensing

• “The Artist – Agent Relationship” by attorney Joshua J. Kaufman

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Workflow : CLARITY

I was just fooling around with some new filters the developers of Pixlr Express had put on the App. I had no set plans or ideas to create another Oracle Card image, but this one literally created itself. Divine inspiration? 😇

For the background, I chose a colourfield image I had created previously using the Android-only app “Impressionist Fingerpaint”.

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I simply ran this through the App Pixlr Express, and liked the effect that created this crystalline entity.

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Then, still in Pixlr Express, I added some lights to add depth to the image.

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Finally, I loaded the image to PicsArt, tweaked the brightness, contrast and saturation, then added the text CLARITY.

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CLARITY : By stilling the voices in your head that constantly clamour for your attention, and by deliberately calming your mind, you will be able to see clearly all your options and opportunities. Clarity will come to you like a crystalline vision bathed in a bright light. Let your intuition lead you.

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The Price of Affluenza

My local thrift stores often have book gems that I snap up immediately. One such book was Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth”, highly recommended reading.

I love my serendipitous trips to these thrift stores. I like to think of it as the Universe providing knowledge and information for me in a timely manner.

Another book surfaced last week, “Affluenza” by Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss. I’ve only just begun to delve into this book, and already something has jumped out at me.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“Nineteenth century economists predicted that the abundance made possible by technological advance and the modern organisation of work would result in the emergence of “post-materialist” humans – people existing on a higher plane, where their cultural, intellectual and spiritual powers are refined. In such a world the importance of economic considerations would naturally diminish. The 1960s and 1970s saw a flood of literature predicting a future in which technological progress would allow for us to work only a few hours a week and our main problem would be how best to enjoy our leisure. Futurists saw a future transformed by the fruits of sustaimed growth – a society in which humankind, freed of the chore of making a living, would devote itself to activities that are truly fulfilling. But, instead of witnessing the end of economics, we live in a time when economics and its concerns are more dominant than ever before. Instead of our growing wealth freeing us of our materialist preoccupations, it seems to have had the opposite effect. People in affluent countries are now even more obsessed with money and material acquisition, and the richer they are the more this seems to be the case”.

This book was written in 2005, even before the iPhone was a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye. And yet how relevant and accurate the statement above is today.

It seems to be the case of “The more we have, the more we want”. Today’s generation seems unable to appreciate what they already have, they always want the latest, the most expensive, the best. And they generally put themselves out to get it at all cost. Then they sit back and enjoy their latest toy…Until the next one comes along less than a year later. Then it’s a mad scramble all over again, to get THE latest toy.

When will it stop? In case the above was too lengthy to visualise, here is a simple analogy:

A city starts out as a village, which becomes a town, that grows and grows as it attracts more and more industry and with it, people. Its lanes soon turn into roads. Roads turn into highways. As more and more people drive cars, these highways get congested. So the city council decree that they need to widen the highways, from 4 lanes to 8. They say that will ease the congestion and make driving more pleasant and convenient. And so 4 lane highways become 8 lane superhighways. But what do you think happens next? Yes, now there are even More cars on the road, more people buying cars and driving, and the congestion builds up again.

“Build it, and they will come”…that saying has never been truer when reflected on today’s society. Perhaps the economists of the 19th century were correct in theory, apart for one oversight: that humans are not mature enough to make that ideal scenario a reality. We are still very much like children, squealing with delight at the latest shiny gadget and toy, we simply Have to have it, and because we’ve indulged, we’ve fed the industry that creates such shiny gadgets and toys, so they in turn create more and more for us. Then, when we find our money depleted, we shrug and simply find ways to get more money. To buy more stuff. And so it goes on.

When will we grow up? “Poor” countries don’t suffer as much from Affluenza as “Developed” countries. They literally can’t afford to be. They’re more concerned with putting food on the table for their families, staving off starvation, staying alive when wars break out. Affluenza is a disease of the haves, the wannabe-haves and the desperate have-nots.

Perhaps it’s time to step off the treadmill.
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If You Make A Mistake…

…I hope you are big enough to admit it.
There’s nothing our Ego dislikes more than to be told it is wrong, or to be challenged. It will do all it can to convince us that it is right and the other person, or even the World, is wrong, and it will defend itself at all costs, even when deep down inside, you know that is the wrong course of action. For this very reason we have to try to put aside our Egos, in order to move forward. Otherwise, the cycle repeats simply itself and you’re stuck like the proverbial hamster in the wheel.

If this sad world of ours is to have a chance at saving itself, a good place to start would be for each of us to have the sense to admit our faults, learn and move on.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m rather embarrassed at how materialistic I used to be in my “old” life. I put too much emphasis on material things, and not enough on the things that truly mattered, that of trying to make the world a better place by doing my part. I thought if I could get enough savings in the bank, then I could afford to take up worthy causes and help my fellow men and women. It never occurred to me back then, that that kind of mentality was exactly like the attitude that declared that “We’ll have children when we can afford it”. Well, guess what, if you waited for that day to arrive, you’ll never have children. Ditto helping the world. You will never have enough in the bank to start saving the world; it’s got to start NOW.

These days, I look around me and I cringe at all the people going round with trolleys laden with stuff that’s not really necessary. I know some people who spend all year buying Christmas presents for their relatives. I pass by a jewellery shop with a woman announcing extra special deals on gold, silver and diamonds – why?? You won’t die without those! TV ads are even worse – who needs an indoor abdominal exerciser for 5 instalments of $49.99, when you have the floor and ab crunches you can do for Free? Or a free mobile phone every year, when your phone can last you another 5 years perfectly well? Who really needs to change their car every single year? Seriously??!

My own vice was magazine subscriptions. I especially love Elle Decoration and Vogue Interiors, and last year I was engrossed with the idea of becoming a textile or surface pattern designer. So I subscribed to these magazines…which weren’t cheap, as they came from the UK. I also invested in Adobe Creative Cloud and a dozen books on textile designing. I admit I did enjoy the whole learning process, but ultimately the whole exercise, with a little more thought, could have been done for free through online courses or videos, instead of the thousands of dollars I spent on buying stuff. So yeah, silly me (face palm roll eyes).

What makes me sad is that many people don’t even pause in their daily stride to consider these things. They think it’s normal, because it’s what everyone else is doing. Sheep following sheep. Sheepwalking, I call it. Or, worse still, they think that to even contemplate doing something different from the norm is Wrong. That You’re wrong for wanting to rock the boat or change the status quo. And why? As I’ve already outlined above, because they are coming from the place of their Ego, which prevents them from admitting that there’s anything wrong with the picture.

Here are my favourite quotes about making mistakes, taken from my favourite source, Google Images. Each individual image remains the copyright of their creators, naturally.

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So, dear friends, take a good look around you. Can you see where the human race has gone wrong? Are you able to see your own involvement in it? Are you helping perpetuate the Lie? Are you willing to admit your own mistakes in life and move forward?

Or, do you believe the world is perfectly fine as it is, and that nothing needs changing? That the people who tell you about these things are the crazy ones?

YOU decide.

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Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

It is human nature to not welcome Change. We all want to continue living in our cosy little bubble, doing the things we are accustomed to doing and getting the same results…and yet in every one of us there is a niggling seed of doubt which asks this question:

THERE MUST BE MORE TO THIS LIFE. THERE MUST BE SOMETHING BIGGER AND BETTER, WHAT AM I MISSING? WHY HAVE I NOT FOUND IT?

Well, if you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. Only a Fool believes in repeating the same action over and over again, expecting a different result. So, don’t be that Fool. Step outside your Comfort Zone and make that evolutionary leap forward. Yes, it feels uncomfortable, strange even, you’re out of your depth, treading water infested by unknown dangers beneath it, but swim you must, for if you simply stay where you are, you will surely drown.

On a personal level, 2014 has been a tumultous year for me. For a while I struggled to find my feet, for a while I was disheartened as time after time I got knocked back in the job stakes. I was even made to feel that because I had no income I was worth less. Then I had a sudden epiphany one day, and realised that what was happening was simply the end of a Dream that I’d been in for many years. I’d actually started my spiritual awakening years ago, without even realising that’s what it was. Then the toll of daily life, work, responsibility and family commitments took over. Now I realise that That was the Dream, not the Reality. The Reality is Now, and I feel my real work has only just begun. It’s been a hard Dream to shake, it felt so comfortable and reassuring while I was in it. Everyone I knew was living in the same Dream.

But now Reality is exciting, unknown, mysterious and full of possibilities and potential. It is also exhilaratingly terrifying. You know the saying “Leap, and the Net will appear?” Well, I’d like to add to it: “And if the Net doesn’t appear, then you damn well better learn to fly, fast!”

I’ve collated some quotes from Google Images to show you what I mean:

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Today’s words to ponder are : Comfort Zone, Change, Step Out Of Your Box, Grow.

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What will You do…

What a wicked world we live in! Apathy, greed, avarice, selfishness, egoism, laziness, materialism, the list goes on and on. We as a human race appear to have lost our way, in the Pursuit of  Happiness. Know though, that Happiness cannot be bought by Money. There is no such thing as the Pursuit of Happiness, just the Pursuit of Money. Money can buy you Things, that is true, but Things don’t make you happy. Only You can make you happy, so choose to be happy no matter what, and you will have Happiness. Just look at the swamis and sidhus in India, or any of the gnostics and ascetics around the world – they live very simply, but they are happy.

I have no lessons to teach. I have no manifesto. I’m about as intuitive as a lamp post. No, that’s not right…the lamp post is more intuitive than me. I feel awkward and inadequate when in a crowd of people and everyone seems so clever. I’m just a simple person who has been blessed recently with a clarity of vision. I have had my eyes opened to where our world is heading, and sadly it is heading towards destruction and not salvation. We need to wake up now and take up just causes, there are so many good causes to choose. Pick one or two and devote your attention and time towards it. We are caretakers of the Earth, not its owners, so we need to take care of it, instead of plundering its resources for our own selfish gains. Now is the time to work together, not against each other.

Just the other day, I posted up these 2 photos on my Facebook Wall. And boy did that incite a great debate or what! I won’t go into too much detail, just have a look at these 2 photos and think about it.

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In one photo, people are queuing up for the bare neccessities of life. In the other, they are queuing up for something they don’t NEED but WANT. One shows people sacrificing their time for the benefit of others. The other shows selfish people. One is of a breadline. The other is the queue to buy the new iPhone 6.

The backlash from this simple comparison caused a “friend” to unfriend me on Facebook. She felt I was being anti-Apple, that I was offending her by “shaming people into becoming better”. Not at all, what I was objecting to was the attitude of people today, I was simply pointing out where their priorities were skewed, and that people need to wake up and do something to turn the tide. If that had been a photo of people queuing up for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, the latest PlayStation, XBox, etc, I would have still written about it the same way. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things too, I’m only human. But I wouldn’t sacrifice a month’s food for my family, just to feed my own Ego.

Ask yourself this question: Does our constant lust for consumables advance our society towards the greater good? If yes, how? If not, what will You do about it?

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