One for the Dabblers


Don’t you love it when an article in a magazine validates or at least identifies one of your quirks? You know, a trait or a behaviour that you thought nobody else had, that your family and friends give you a hard time about because they’re clearly not one of the chosen ones who get to enjoy such an element in their lives? Even better when the article paints this quirk in a positive light (what? you mean I may not be the spawn of hobgoblins after all? Please, do go on…) It’s like finding a soulmate on a page, a new friend amongst a bunch of words.

I experienced this feeling recently as I flicked through a copy of Psychologies from a few months back (hooray for Christmas where you finally have time to catch up on reading while you hide from relatives and recover from your food/drink/chocolate/fruit coma – choose as applicable). There was an article talking about people who are serial starters – they start all kinds of projects and either don’t finish them or finish very few.

‘Hey, that’s like me!’ I squealed to Nut, who didn’t bat an eyelid (probably coz he doesn’t have any). Yet his expression said it all. Yes, Kel, you started making *my* blog, remember? You started putting ideas together, started taking pics, started editing pics, but where’s my blog?


Well, I… Hey it’s coming, alright? Haven’t you got a spider to harass?

Whoops. That came out a bit defensive. But sometimes we do that when we’re challenged, don’t we? Particularly when it regards something that’s more or less a natural inclination for us. Something that’s misunderstood. Something that, for whatever reason, society/family/peers/Grumpy Cat deem undesirable. Or inefficient. Time-wasting. Deviant. Frivolous. Harking back to some underlying, old school belief about how life ‘should’ be lived.
‘You’re not doing your life right, you’d better shape up and get things together in the prescribed way or you’ll regret it.’
Hang on – whose life is it?!

That’s what this article was getting at, in a way. Honouring what feels right for you. Putting aside the guilt and instead adopting the assumption that, deep inside, you actually know what you’re doing (even though you may appear like a headless chicken bumping from one thing to the next!)
For those of us ‘serial starters’, we’re not lazy or quitters. Some of us are just wired to explore rather than settle. And who’s to say that it’s not the way to go, or that it’s going to be detrimental? Because often the dabblers among us can be made to feel inadequate, as if there’s something wrong with us for not having that ‘one thing’ we do in life. Yet, the world’s now changed in a way that actually favours the dabblers and jacks-of-all-trades.

So what if, in the bigger scheme of things, we’re actually ahead of the game? What if our occasionally criticised dabbling has given us a wide and varied skill set that makes us highly adaptable? Not to mention well-attuned to our interests and strengths? How is that a bad thing?

Another thing I loved about this article was its praise for curiosity. As any creative knows, permission to explore and experiment opens the way for those happy accidents and discoveries you never would have made if you only kept to what is known and accepted. A healthy dose of curiosity about life – your own life in particular – surely leads to a brighter, happier you.

In my experience, a brighter, happier me is the one that embarks on all kinds of new projects. Usually with the intention of finishing them, but not bound to doing so. (Pressure to finish things can sometimes stifle the joy of them.) I like starting different projects because I think they’ll be fun. I love learning new things. I love the energy of beginning. Sometimes I lose interest part way through. Sometimes I embrace it all the way. I can’t know till I get going. Coz how are you supposed to know what really resonates with you until you’re in the midst of it? (Riding the waves of ‘succeeding’ and ‘failing’ along the way too.) That’s what makes life interesting.

At the same time, the article suggests that sometimes the lessons we’re meant to learn arrive before we finish the task itself. Be it a book, a project or a course, if you get the feeling you got what you needed halfway through, rejoice! Now move onto the next lesson elsewhere; wherever your interest takes you, coz that’s where you’re going to be happiest. Imagine if we praised and valued our adventurous minds instead of scolding them!


I reckon it’s time to let ourselves off the hook regarding things we haven’t finished. Maybe we’ve already learnt what we needed to learn and our energy is best channelled elsewhere, into new things. If that is what’s happening naturally, why fight it? Relax and be more process-orientated rather than outcome-orientated. Who knows, maybe the process is the outcome, and was always meant to be.

*The article I’ve referred to throughout this post is called ‘Starter’s Orders’ by Barbara Sher, in Psychologies magazine, October 2013 issue. I started looking online for a link if there is one, but my brief search got nothin’. By that point I was already moving on to photo editing and finishing a block of chocolate (see I do finish some things!!) ūüėČ

What the Water Gave Me

I’m not one to fling myself into the ocean much when I go to the beach. Sure, our beaches are beautiful, and I’ll wade in¬†every now and again. But what I love most is walking along the sand searching for the odd, the interesting, and the magical. Yeah, I’m one of those ones you see crouched beside rock pools or hovering over dumpings of shells and rocks on the sea-licked expanse.

It’s easy to lose track of time and place when there’s so much to explore, with¬†the afternoon¬†wind and waves crashing in the background.

Sometimes I’ll collect things I find and¬†like (though who knows what I’m gonna do with that pile of weird sea rocks & shells, or the funky driftwood stick…).

Other things, however,¬†can’t be taken except in picture form. Either because they can’t be picked up, or you get the feeling they’re where they belong. Here are a few of my favourites from recent wanderings along Sydney’s Northern Beaches armed with¬†my¬†iPhone 4s.

A favourite escape

Narrabeen – a favourite escape


Sand stars?

Sand stars?


Arrangement as found

Sometimes Nature does its own arrangements


This made me think of a faery ring...  Sea-fae?

This made me think of a faery ring. Sea-faery-style.


I did say the odd and the interesting...

I did say the odd and the interesting…


I feel there's kind of sad beauty to this find.

There’s kind of a sad beauty to this find, I feel.


I wonder what its story was.

I wonder what its story was.


It still fascinates me now. Life, death, and what is left behind.

It still fascinates me now.


Life, death, and what’s left behind. The sea produces¬†so many¬†treasures for those who recognise them, and who take the time to visit.

Thank you for visiting!


(And thanks to Florence and the Machine for the title inspiration) ūüėČ









Scrap Wood Made Good

So last week was a good ole play around with photographs and editing apps. There has been more of that, thanks to more apps, more time messing around, and more chocolate. The muse likes chocolate.
But this week I’ve also been getting my hands dirty (or at least dusty & roughed up a bit) with woodwork. Nothing fancy! I’d better establish that from the get go. We’re talking veeery basic – chopping & sanding, since I haven’t done any projects with wood since Year 8 (i.e. a while ago). I think I’ve even still got the money box I made, somewhere…
But why wood? Why now?
Well, I found a piece. At the side of the road. Just an old shelf with four bonus screws poking out dangerously underneath. [Insert jump for joy here] Coz one thing I’ve been wanting to try for a while is making rustic, artsy little signs (you know the ones; currently breeding like rabbits in a homewares store near you). I think they’re great. And I wanted to create some with my own sentiments and quirks, rather than the usual ones you see.
So I lugged this plank home, ignored it for a couple of weeks, and then finally decided it was time to play. (Stars aligned and stuff like that.) Thanks to Dad being a hoarder of all kinds of tools and handyman shit, I had access to: circular saw, drill, sandpaper, ruler and pencil. The last two I could’ve provided but hey, package deal.
The result: a pile of pieces to sand.

Site supervisor - Nut

Nut decided to supervise.

Actually very enjoyable. And I found the stain on this particular wood created an awesome effect when sanded around the edges only. Bonus!
At this point I was also thinking about ideas and effects. The experimental piece reveals some of my discoveries so far:

Sacrificed for the greater wood. Erm, good.

Sacrificed for the greater wood. Erm, good.

Scratching letters in (channelling the high school vandal I never was), looked great but took too long. Metallic gouache that I had lying around, was shit. No, really. It needs to be chucked. Should’ve known there was a reason for the markdown price. White acrylic paint looked alright but I wasn’t completely sold on it.
Then enter the hero: Ink. Precious ink! that I’d snubbed all these years for no apparent reason in favour of watercolour and acrylic and graphite. I was introduced to this marvellous medium a month or so ago by a graphic novelist at a workshop he was running. Nothing beats ink and brush for creating a damn sexy line, he’d said. I have to agree. Line work, filling in, all of that, it just feels so good with ink. Which led to this morning’s trial run on my first little sign: Hero sign
A bit of free hand calligraphy that fit – thankfully. I’d sketched it first (good idea) coz I’m notorious for just charging in, which doesn’t always work but seems to work enough that I do¬†it more often than not. (Gambler! Rebel!)
I’m currently deciding if I’ll add anything else before finishing. As I said, this is all experimental, and I’m really hoping ink remains the hero by staying permanent and shiny and neat.
If not, well, maybe it’ll be onto plan B. The wood burning kit. Which hoarder Dad remembered (and found!!) last night. Gotta love Dad. But it does mean I’ve gotta cut him some slack re: the overflow of stuff. For now. At any rate I’ll be experimenting with wood burning next!

In other creative news: note pad fail! I’d painted pics on little notepads to sell in gift packs for Christmas, applied clear nail polish over the acrylic paint to seal it, and then this happened:

Oh nooooo!

Oh nooooo!

The whole thing has peeled off like a big sticker (which I can use for something else, I guess) – but ack! Glad I found out now rather than later. Must’ve been the particular plastic cover coz that’s never happened before.

Which leads me to a thought for the week: giving oneself permission to fail. I never used to. I’d have sooner keeled over than made a mistake, let alone tell anyone. But that’s no fun and scares the muse away (chocolate or no chocolate). So I’ve given myself permission to mess up and laugh about it. Even share it with the world. o_O
Be sure to watch this space for future f-ups, triumphs, and the joys of being creative!