Posts tagged with “work life balance”

For Love or Money?

Thursday, 2 February, 2012

What’s the one thing that you would spend money (that you didn’t really have to spare) on?

I think, for me, it boils down to two contenders: concerts and travel.

I love going to concerts and am still not tired of the novelty of seeing bands that I have loved forever LIVE! Having grown up waaaay down south, where very few bands, expect those with a giant budget, dare to go, I missed out on so many shows I would’ve loved to have seen, and so now I’m making up for lost time and cram in as many live shows as I possibly can, whether the budget really allows it or not 🙂 )There’s something so magical about the energy of the crowd and the almost surreal quality of hearing something done live that you’ve listening to hundreds and hundreds of times on a recording.

Then there’s travel. I would never, ever say ‘no!’ to exploring new places, seeing new sights, meeting new people, savouring new foods, and experiencing different cultures. Not only does it fuel my imagination and allow me to explore one of my passions, photography, it also often changes my thinking or gives me new insights or allows me to understand someone better.

To quote Mastercard: Priceless.


R and R

Monday, 6 December, 2010

I know this can be a wickedly busy time of year, where everything gets blurry round the edges (wait, is that because of too much eggnog 🙂 ) and a little stressful, but don’t forget to take some time out to be thankful for friends and family, goodies and treats, and also to rest!

I plan on resting and recharging as much as I can, to ensure I am rearing to go for 2011. 2011!! It’s terrifying to write. As an entrepreneur and teacher, I spend most of the year giving a lot of my energy to students, clients, employers, family, friends etc. and so often I have to force myself to remember  to take some time for me, to give myself permission to take some time off (and that includes brain-time too; i.e. NOT thinking about next term, the next project, my to do lists).

Although I usually take time around my birthday to check in with myself and my list of goals and wants and needs, I also do like to think about what I want the next year to be like as the old year draws to a close. I am excited for new opportunities, new friendships, new projects, and of course, a new term of students. I also like to reflect on everything that has happened in the old year (good and bad) and see where I need to improve, what I am proud of, and what I would like to make sure I achieve in the following year.

Most importantly, however, is to just be in the moment and enjoy myself! Don’t forget to do this for yourselves.

Happy holidays to you all,


Creative Path Series V: Cath Scott

Tuesday, 17 August, 2010

Meet Cath Scott, a South African photographer and mom, our latest addition to the Meerkat Creative Path series. You can connect with Cath via or on her website.


My career started as a teacher, until I became a mother, which led to becoming a photographer. My passion is photographing children and bringing out the best in them – capturing bits of time. Examples of my work can be found on: 

1. How long have you been doing photography? How did you get started with it?

I have always had an interest in photography, but didn’t do anything about it until I got a really nice camera in the middle of last year. I have since upgraded my camera, and the learning curve is huge, but having kids is what made photography amazing for me – something I had to capture properly!

2. Is this your full time job? A career goal? A hobby?

Right now it’s half of a hobby and half of a career. I take pictures because I love it. I have started a small business so that other people can also have memories captured.

3. If this is not your full time career, do you struggle to make time for this? Is there anything you do to ensure you make time?

Making time is a bit difficult, as I run my kids around all week, but my husband is very supportive, and I do most shoots on weekends – and he watches the kids for me.

4. How do you deal with “naysayers”… you know, those voices/people who keep asking when the phase is going to pass? Or negative criticism about your work/creative endeavor?

Most people have actually been very encouraging, and helpful. I have so much to learn, and have not had negative feedback, only positive encouragement – my friends are quite amazing. I would be my own worst enemy in this endeavour!

5. What would your dream project be?

Have a studio, and take pictures of kiddies having fun 🙂

6. Is there something you have worked on that you are especially proud of? Or received accolades for?

I recently won a photography course with the very talented Andre Van Rooyen. I entered a Breadline Africa competition with one of my images, and won. I am very excited about this!

7. What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity is absolute expression. Defining yourself by making things is fun, relaxing, and rewarding. It needs to be an arena where you can explore. You learn a lot about yourself through creating things.

8. What advice would you give to others trying to follow a similar path?

Go for it. Take tons of photographs. Read lots. Ask questions. Experiment. Go way out of your depth, and enjoy the learning curve!




All images are copyright Cath Scott and are not to be reproduced  or used without permission.

Creative Path Series III: Isabella Mori

Tuesday, 27 July, 2010

I’d like to welcome Isabella Mori, a Twitter friend, to the Creative Path Series. Read more about her and her pursuit of creativity, and feel free to add comments below.


Isabella Mori is a Vancouver writer and counsellor. Born in Germany to the painter Juergen von Huendeberg and his wife Elisabeth, she has lived in the UK, Paraguay and Chile. She immigrated to Canada in 1982. Isabella is the mother to three wonderful children and grandmother to the two most perfect grandsons ever to grace the universe.

While her mother tongue is German (and her grandmother tongue Russian), she writes mostly in English, with a little German and Spanish thrown in for spice. She blogs about psychology, creativity, spirituality and social justice at change therapy.

1. How long have you been a creative?

As Picasso said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” I was just lucky that growing up in an artistic family, not all of my creativity got stunted (although being told to take up the violin when I was 5 sure put a damper on my musical creativity). I was fascinated with typewriters all my life and made my first money by typing addresses for an invitation to a gallery opening for my father, who was a painter. And what did this 6-year-old do with it? Buy a fountain pen. I tried my first novel when I was 11.

Now you might say that because I talk about typewriters and novels, I should have said that I’m a writer. Which I am. But it’s more than that – and yes, I said “it’s”, not “I am.” The expression of my creativity may be most obvious in the word – in writing, and in conversation (I make my money as a counsellor) – but it is everywhere. “It” – creativity – moves through me in many ways, be it cooking, writing, thinking … it’s everywhere.

2. Is this your full time job? A career goal? A hobby?

It’s what I do.

3. If this is not your full time career, do you struggle to make time for this? Is there anything you do to ensure you make time?

While I also do lots of writing for my paid work (among other things, I blog and create resumes and artist’s bios), I do struggle often with making space for other creative writing efforts. Note I said “space” – not time. Making time is relatively easy (e.g. for a while, I did not allow myself to go to bed unless I had written a poem); making headspace is a bit more challenging. In the end, “just do it” wins just about every time, for example when I participate in NaNoWriMo, the annual challenge on the internet to write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November.

4. If this is your full time job, how did you achieve this?

The part that is my paid work – the easy answer would be “it just happened.” However, this “just” was long and arduous. First, I inched myself closer and closer, not even knowing what I was doing. I always found a way to carve out a creative niche for myself, although for the longest time, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to call it that. The strangest time was when I worked for a lawyer and would occasionally make incomprehensible mistakes; only later did I realize that was my creativity forcing its way through. Shortly after, when I was going through a difficult separation, I was able to make the jump into the counselling field. Education – university and all that – gave me some credentials but also sharper tools in thinking and expressing myself, mostly through taking courses in philosophy. I’d say I’ve achieved where I am right now through refusing to work in an environment that does not allow me to be creative.

5. How do you deal with “naysayers”… you know, those voices/people who keep asking when the phase is going to pass? Or negative criticism about your work/creative endeavor?

I don’t hang out with people who are unsupportive of who I am.

As for most of us, the biggest challenge are my inner gremlins. There is the Procrastinator, then there is Mr. Nobody-Cares-What-You’re-Doing and good ol’ You’ll-Never-Be-Able-To-Finish-This. The trick is to catch them talking out loud, then I can usually do something about it. The Procrastinator is easily defeated by simply doing one little thing – even a little haiku on Twitter – right now. The “nobody cares” voice can often be countered quite rationally by saying that a) it doesn’t matter and b) remembering there are at least a handful of people (including myself!) who do. The last one is the trickiest; being accountable to others really helps there. Unfortunately, finding someone suitable and reliable to be accountable to can be hard. But as I said, being attuned to those negative is a bit difficult; I’ve always been the kind of person who is more successful dealing with a direct challenge than with the quiet, subtle manipulation that those negative voices are so good at.

6. What would your dream project be?

Oh Gawd, you want the list? Ok, here’s one thing: I’ve always wanted to be a corporate philosopher. Work in a biggish organization, wandering the halls having deep conversations with people. Mostly for the fun of it (I’m really, really big on fun!) but also to help the organization become wiser, more creative and more humane, and to become a better force for the good in the world.

7. Is there something you have worked on that you are especially proud of? Or received accolades for?

There’s a few things that I look back on with a big grin on my face. Creating Mental Health Camp with my friend Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega, a conference about the intersection between social media and mental health, is one of them, particularly since the 3rd Mental Health Camp had a strong artistic component. Another one is my Tea Table Book which I created with my friend and book coach Carol Sill. In it, I make poetry more accessible (I hope) by accompanying each poem with a little story. Receiving the annual best thesis award from Athabasca University for my little opus on transformative learning in distance education wasn’t bad either.

8. What does creativity mean to you?

I’m sorry but I never know what to make of the word “meaning.” That’s what happens when you deal with words a lot. It’s hard to just glide over them; their sound, their many dictionary meanings, they way they look on a page, even the way they feel in the body when I say them – all of it easily sparks thoughts, associations, dreams, none of it seems insignificant. But I guess before I write a few pages about the many possibilities I see in this question, I’ll move on to the next question …

9. What advice would you give to others trying to follow a similar path?

DON’T STOP! Whatever it is that you’re doing – pottery, dance, writing, filmmaking, anime, oil paintings, throat singing – DON’T STOP! It doesn’t matter whether it’s “good” or “bad” or “mediocre”, DON’T STOP! Follow your creative urge because it’s the spark of life – not just for you but for the whole wide world.

Creative Path Series II: Annabelle Nicoll

Wednesday, 21 July, 2010

"Twelve Days" - copyright Annabelle Nicoll 2010

Our next creative to be featured is Irish photographer, Annabelle Nicoll.You can see more of Annabelle’s exquisite work on her website In her words, “it is what you see that informs how you see”.

How long have you been a photographer? How did you get started with it?

I have been a photographer for 10 years. I fell in love with the medium while doing a year’s foundation course in art and design; I then went on to study Editorial Photography in Brighton, UK, though I would see myself more as a Fine Art Photographer.

Is this your full time job? A career goal? A hobby?

It is a full time, part time, hobby that drives me crazy. There is a love hate relationship with it as there is no consistency and no predictability to how I work. For the last 5 years I have made good money from it but I now have 2 daughters who take up most of my time. My work is mainly shown in a gallery context and I have had work bought for the commercial sector.  I struggle with balancing the need to make money and my attachment to making work for this, and just working for pleasure’s sake.

If this is your full time job, how did you achieve this?

With lots of self help books!

How do you deal with “naysayers”… you know, those voices/people who keep asking when the phase is going to pass? Or negative criticism about your work/creative endeavor?

It depends on my state of mind at the time, if I am feeling confident, I would think it was only their opinion, yet if not, I may question my motives etc…

Annabelle Nicoll at work - copyright Annabelle Nicoll 2010

What would your dream project be?

To photograph the Ice caps, to highlight the worlds fragility and link it to our current state of consciousness as  a species.

Is there something you have worked on that you are especially proud of? Or received accolades for?

Yes. I worked on a body of work around Meditation and state of mind which has received numerous mentions in articles, including in the Sunday Times. This work has also had a lot of sales, enabling me to carry on working, going to Finland  to complete another body of work.

What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity is a human condition; it is part of who we are and to deny it is to deny ourselves. A  moment of flow, of true connection to who you are in a place in time. It is an unformulaic discovery, a process. It is something I cannot live without, yet to be creative is a calling that can drive you mad. Reaching the highest highs and lowest lows.

What advice would you give to others trying to follow a similar path?

To journal every day, to try (though hard) to not be attached to outcome . To be present, patient and persistent and to believe in yourself (hard also). To never give up and most important, to not be perfect, to make mistakes .

Just do it! (with apologies to Nike)

Thursday, 5 November, 2009

Daffodil budHow many times do you hear yourself say “if only I had more time” or “I’ll get to that tomorrow”? It is so hard to juggle many different projects; especially as a business owner with the myriad responsibilities that come with the territory. I find myself struggling to get through tasks some days, and other days I wonder just what the heck I actually did with the whole day! It is a strange balancing act, but sometimes you just have to DO IT!

Instead of saying, “I wish I could…”, sometimes you just have to take action. Don’t put it off. Don’t make excuses. Call the person you have been meaning to call, tackle that pile of papers, start cecking things off your ‘to do’ list. The sense of accomplishment far outweighs any anxiety that you may have about tackling the task in the first place.

I know a lot of the time, this is easier said than done. Mood, energy levels, family commitments etc etc can get in the way, but I have come to realise that they only come in the way if you let them. You are the only one who can take charge of your life and decide how you want to respond. You often can’t control what happens, but you can control how you react. Why wait until it is too late?

SO my challenge to you is to do one thing, just one thing RIGHT NOW that you have been putting off. For me, it’s doing some book keeping and marking midterms, so my promise is to do those today. What will you do?

I leave you with a fantastic quote from Psychoanalyst Carl Jung: “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”