Advice to my younger self

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Yesterday, I proudly watched my little Sister graduate, it was such a lovely day and we celebrated in style. It was just what she deserved for all of her hard work. Four years ago today, I graduated (that’s me up there in the photo). It had been the most difficult summer of my life, for various reasons. Finishing university is hard enough and now that I’m four years older and probably less wise, I thought I’d write a letter to my 22 year old self (and then I wonder how weird this would actually be if this did happen, someone, you, from the future writing a letter to you. In reality, I’d think it was fake!) so here goes: 

Dear Sian,

Well done on finishing university, you’ve worked so hard but I’m afraid the hard work starts here. You’ve got some rough roads ahead of you and here is a bit of advice to help you through:

Don’t be so hard on yourself

Some things happen for a reason and it’s not because of anything that you’ve done. You’re doing absolutely fine. Some things don’t happen straight away and so be patient for things to happen in the right order, you can’t put pressure on yourself for things not happening straight away. You’ll have to be strong for everyone around you but let someone look after you sometimes.

You will get used to your new routine in time
Starting work will be the biggest shock to your system and you won’t believe it now but that hour commute each way will become almost bearable. You will learn not to read your phone the whole way and to invest in a good book to read …the only problem is that you don’t always put this into practice. Your iPod will also become invaluable.

Embrace what you love
You will continue to love the colour pink. You will continue to practice hand drawn lettering. You will have an embarrassing collection of Musical soundtracks and Disney songs on your iPod. You will always have more paper and notebooks than you know what to do with. Embrace that you love those things, maybe stop buying so many notebooks and try filling them, even the nice ones! Don’t let anyone (including yourself) make you feel bad for the things that you love, however embarrassing!

Keep saving those pennies
You’ve done so well in keeping to a budget whilst at University and you’ve saved loads of money, keep at it and you’ll thank yourself in 4 years time. (Thank you!) Your train ticket (into London!) will become more and more expensive as the years go on, take the plunge and get a credit card to buy a yearly ticket which works out cheaper, I wish I’d thought of this earlier, the monthly repayments have saved me £51 a month!

Listen to your body
Although you stay slim and look healthy, your body is crying out for you to do something about your health. See a doctor because some things aren’t normal and you shouldn’t have to live with it and suffer. The things you’ve read again and again online “could happen to you.” Yoga and linseeds are your godsend. Also, you love your hair short, never let it grow again!

Some spoiler alerts: You will survive 2010, 2013 will be tough but you’ll get through it and 2014 is such a good year. You and Rob are such a good team and you’ll have some great adventures together. You become an awesome team at building flat packed furniture and paying bills! Just have a little patience and life will start to look better.

The friends you have met in your 4 years of higher education will become lifelong friends, you may not see them as much as you’d like but it doesn’t mean they aren’t awesome!

Lots of Love
Sian xoxo

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August Currently

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MAKING Time for us
WATCHING Guardians of the Universe (such a good film!) Iron Man and Burlesque
COOKING Jamie Oliver’s Feta and Spinach Filo pie, just with cheddar instead of Feta!
DRINKING Rooiboos tea all day long
READING David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
LOOKING FORWARD TO the adventures we’ve got planned for the next few months
BUYING All the things ready for our holiday
PLAYING With my new camera
SEWING All of my tops so that they fit!
FINALLY Watching Dr. Who Christmas special
WISHING Our big holiday would come quickly
ENJOYING Time spent in our new house
LIKING A break from the blog
DRAWING Selfies!
WONDERING how there are so many spiders and cobwebs in our house!
LOVING My new found attitude
MARVELLING At the growth of our chilli plant
BAKING Very gooey flapjack
WALKING Around Aldenham Country Park
LOOKING Back through the photo book of the year I’ve been putting together and loving how it’s coming along
WEARING Shorts with jumpers, my fave combination!
NOTICING The absence of rage now that I don’t tweet about it
KNOWING I need to do so much more exercise
THINKING About life, the internet and holidays
GIGGLING At this advert (SO funny!)
FEELING Inspired
EXPLORING Silence
THANKFUL FOR My health despite of all my complaining
PRACTICING Yoga every morning

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Drawing Self Portraits

A little while ago, I started developing a little self portrait character to go along with Penguin on his adventures sometimes and also as a bit of a drawing challenge for me. I know I haven’t drawn Penguin in a while but I’d like to.

I remember back to my art foundation year where I used a “me” character drawing in my reflective diary, I’d trace the same image over and over and just colour the clothes a different colour each time. Another thing I would do is, draw one version and not develop it further and further until I was happy with it. Looking back, I can’t believe how restrictive that was and how I didn’t just embrace the differences in size, shape etc and loosen up a bit. I’ve changed a lot since then I guess and I’m so glad that I have.

So, one evening I cracked open my sketchbook and got “doodling” as Rob calls it and this is where is how far I got:

Shines_Selfies2I tried drawing myself in proportion and with a few different outfits, different hands and legs. I always drew myself with curly hair because well, I do have curly hair. I have been wearing my hair curly a lot more often recently and an illustration with her hair tied back is difficult to draw!  I tried colour but felt that didn’t work so have resorted to a line drawing for now. I enjoyed drawing this little character in different scenarios too, to see if she’d work. I hope that this little character will evolve as Penguin has done. What do you think?

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Smile: It’s infectious

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In the days following the death of Robin Williams, I had a heavy heart and mixed emotions. First of all, I remember the happiness that the film, Aladdin brings me. The laughter at the kitchen scene in Mrs. Doubtfire (with the cream cake on his face, “one lump or two”) I haven’t seen either of those films in years, in over a decade maybe, but the voices of these two characters resound in my mind, when I think of Robin Williams.

In the days following the news, I read many articles about depression that I had to stop after a few because it brought about a great feeling of sadness. There is someone very close to me who suffers from depression, so much so that he has turned to Alcohol as his escape for as many years as I can remember. When someone you love is being eaten away inside like that but refuses to ask for help, it is one of the hardest and most heartbreaking things that I’ve had to cope with. Someone else I love, lost a parent to suicide before I knew them, it brings depression so much closer to home but doesn’t mean I understand it anymore than anyone else.

I’m starting to understand a lot more of course as I read more and more about addiction and depression and am coming to terms with it all slowly.

There has been one thing that I’ve read a few times over the last few days in different variations of this: “be kind to everyone you meet because you don’t know what battles people are fighting” and it made me think: Of course! Of course I’m kind most of the time and I wish that a lot more people would look at this line and think, because I’ve faced my fair share of unkind people on my worst days. However, you don’t know what kind of sadness someone is fighting internally or how someone else is feeling. Sometimes all it takes is someone to do something so simple as to smile, to take a second to do something kind or to receive a text from a friend. I’ve made a small goal to commit random acts of kindness in an effort that it might make someone’s day, if it doesn’t then there’s nothing wrong with being kind and it doesn’t cost anything! I understand that this won’t cure depression in any way but a little consideration goes a long way.

I’m lucky that I haven’t faced depression first hand in my life so far, I’m sure there were times when I’ve been very close and it could hit anyone at anytime. Support those you love and be kind to your fellow humans, you don’t know what might be haunting them inside.

Equally, if you think you might be suffering from depression or other mental health condition, please do not be hesitate to speak to a doctor or call the samaritans.

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After the Jump

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I thought I’d pop up for air now that we’re half way through August and half way through my “challenge”. I’ve gained so much from the first 14 days of August already that I thought I’d write an update on my thoughts on life and the internet. Just a warning: this post is long and rambley. I’ve been writing a small thought every day of this challenge, this is the condensed version of that and I’ve tried to put it into some sort of logical order. 

First of all, you could say that I’ve completely failed so far in my attempt to stay off social media. To be completely honest, I have popped onto Facebook or Twitter very quickly, but it hasn’t be for as long as I would before and I wouldn’t comment, like, tweet, favourite or share. I wouldn’t want anyone to know I was there. It was social media in stealth mode. 

It has been about what I’ve learned from it all so far rather than it being a challenge of will power. I knew I needed a change of mindset and a change of routine. Before these last two weeks, I think I’d been looking for distractions. Especially when I felt bored or tired, so I’d idley scroll through the many social media sites that I use, only to feel either more bored, jealous, inspired (when I was too tired or busy to do anything about it), then guilty for not doing anything. I realised that all these feelings were not needed. A tweet from one of my favourite artists which said “WARNING: if in the wrong frame of mind, instagram can make you depressed. Don’t look at it on a full moon you will feel inferior to everyone” had me saying “YES!” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Maybe I have been feeling a little fed up after buying our house, a bit like “what now?” “Am I doing everything right?” but also confused because living in our house has made me so happy, I walk around smiling, so I can’t be that depressed. This wasn’t a huge problem but I realise now how much I needed a change of mindset. 

I wasted a lot of time procrastinating by scrolling idley through sites and not taking any of the information in. Was it a distraction for when I should be doing more difficult things? Was blogging a distraction from practicing the illustration I wanted to be doing? I would think a lot about blogging, thinking isn’t doing. I’d think of ideas, I’d write lists of things I wanted to do but never got round to them. Probably because I was too busy reading other people’s blogs and feeling jealous that they had the time to write and share. I know now that I should have stopped reading at that point and got on with my own work. I would also check in on facebook “I wonder how *insert friend’s name here* is?” Instead of doing this, I should have texted or called them to see how they are. 

At the beginning of the month, I read an article about refocusing your blog content. And throughout reading it I was thinking it’d be a good idea but when I really thought about my blog, I thought “ergh, bored!” This definitely got me thinking. 

Do I have time to blog? Do I actually enjoy it? Do I want to blog less regularly? My blog needs to display more work and less rambling (like this!). More progress images maybe? I have considered stopping posting on my blog all together. But what I’d like to do is share more work and punctuate it with personal blogging, not the other way round. I need to do a lot more photography and a lot more drawing and making to be able to make this work, I think I can. I have a new found creative energy for these kinds of things now that my very busy few months are settling down. 

I understand that there are blogging trends and over time, if you enjoy what someone is writing, you start to write about the same things and are inspired by that person but I hope that I can be myself, not copy anyone else or try to be anyone else. For this reason, for the second week of this month, I didn’t read any blog posts whatsoever and continued to write everyday to get my thoughts down and write as me, no-one else! 

Something else that I want to stop is complaining on twitter. I need to share articles, share instagrams, share my blog posts, share art related tweets, yes put some personal things in there sometimes but mainly positive. I’ve noticed that I have far less commuter rage now that I’m not in the cycle of feeling annoyed, writing about it on twitter, getting a reaction then finding something else to rant about.

Facebook is a little different but I don’t want to be a whinge on Facebook either. Keep it positive. Documenting life on Facebook is a strange concept for me because I’ll meet up with a friend and know exactly what they’ve been up to because it’s all on Facebook. (I won’t even get into documenting life on my blog, that’s a whole separate blog post!) Some things are meant to be kept private. However both twitter and Facebook are great for sharing interesting articles, communicating with friends and family who live far away and I love it for just that. 

Instagram has been an instant “take a photo and run” situation for me in the past. Now I’m taking photos on my proper camera more often, I don’t want to take too many photos on my phone. I want to practice photography techniques and take photos of my work then share it all later. The best camera is the one you have on you though and I rarely have space in my handbag for my camera everyday, we’ll see, I need to sort my handbag out a bit! 

With Pinterest, I’ve missed it but I can do without it. I really need to pin relevant things, not just pretty pictures. Useful links, behance pictures, images from dribbble and other design sites. And not get jealous by how lovingly styled someone else’s look or house is!

I just need to put a bit more thought into when/how/what I share. And use my time wisely. In the evenings, instead of sitting scrolling idley, is there something useful I could be doing?

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Writing process or “The Big Think!”

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This post should really be called “the big think” because it’s one of those posts where I have a big think about what I’m doing with my life and my work. How dramatic?

It all started when I had a chance to cozy up on the sofa with my ipad and read some blog posts that I’d been meaning to read, one thing led to another and I’d found about 5 new blogs to read, all with similar views on life to me. It’s so refreshing to come across a few of those once in a while.

I first of all came across Amber’s post about her writing process. It was great to see how someone else processes through different thoughts to form them into a blog post. I’m at a stage where I want to figure where I want to go with this blog. What am I doing here? Where am I going? Why do I do it? Is anybody actually reading? and interested? In Amber’s post she answered questions asked by Erika and I thought this would be perfect to go through to answer some of my questions. So I started to answer the first question and see where it got me…

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Goodness, so many things. I’m first of all working on making my house a home, it’s very nearly there and I’m slowly getting used to everything that being a homeowner involves. Getting used to living with Rob has been so easy and a natural progression, I just need to work on my mood when I’m hangry, I’ve been doing well I think.

Other things I’m working on are getting into a routine so that I can fit in some creative time most days and yoga time every morning. The yoga is going well but once I’ve done all the jobs for the evening, there’s very little time to sit down and draw and by that time, I’m exhausted so just want to watch TV. The same goes for the blog really, finding time to write is a problem, I mostly find myself writing on the train, then I tend to take/edit photos and edit posts at weekends, it seems to be all about routine these days, I’m sure I’ll get used to it all. I really want to feature more of my creative work on my blog and have started putting together a portfolio site (I know! But better late than never!) which is exciting!

I’d love to be able to see my friends more regularly too. The weekend I spent with them for the wedding was great and I don’t know why we don’t do it more often. Now that I have my own place, I can invite people over too, I need to do that!

There is so much going on and I’ve had a big think (hence “the big think”) and think that I should probably take some time off from the blog. This has been crying out to me for a while, I just haven’t been brave enough to do it. I feel like I need a holiday as it is so why should I give myself more work and putting pressure on myself to blog?

I actually want to have a complete detox from sharing, and social media. I originally wanted to share but not to read what everyone else is sharing but actually I want to live my life. I want to spend time with family and friends. I want to read, to write, to draw, to laugh, to meditate, to run, to explore, to walk and dance.

Blog Reading
I’m not sure if I should cut out reading blogs, that is something I have had to think about a little. I hate the comparison game and want to stop that. But like I said, I read two really great blog posts earlier. I think I can benefit from learning from other people, maybe I should read blogs more productively, I should comment, take notes so that I remember parts of what I’m reading, I started doing this just last night and look where it got me!

Facebook
I will only go on Facebook messenger because it’s one of my main points of contact with groups of friends.

Twitter
Just no! All I do is complain on there anyway and I need to stop.

Instagram
No! Far too many nice things on there and feeling as though my photos should look like theirs, I want to work on my own photography style and play with my new camera.

Pinterest
No! Again, far too many nice things on there and time wasted by me.

This will be for all of August at least, so starting tonight, now on the 31st July. Let’s see what happens. I’ll still be writing everyday, maybe I’ll post my findings on the blog in September, maybe I’ll decide not to.

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On Film & TV watching

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I’m sure if you’re like me, you’ve had the following conversation before, whether you’re the person asking the question or answering it:

“Have you seen {insert film/tv series title here}?”
“Ahh no I haven’t”
“Oomygoodness, I can’t believe you have seen {insert film/tv series title here}, how have you been able to go through life having missed {insert film/tv series title here}, you’re missing out, it’s such a classic!”

I’m the one who hasn’t seen that classic film. It’s likely that whatever classic film you mention, It’s more likely than not that I haven’t seen it, this also goes for most of the popular television series too. (No, I haven’t seen any of Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones! Shock horror!) Every time I have the above conversation, I feel a little bit of a failure, I’ve missed out on something somewhere and I’ve been wondering what happened here.

Before I go on, a brief history of my life and film/television watching: I am the oldest sibling of two in my family, my sister was born when I was 4 and a half and up until that time, I think all I watched was Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, Fireman Sam and Thomas the Tank Engine. I wanted to be a fire lady like Fireman Sam when I grew up until I realised that that involved a lot of fire, at that point I was out! I was petrified of fire!

When my sister was old enough to understand TV, all we watched was Barney the Dinosaur all day everyday, I know every song and most of the stories off by heart, it’s embarrassing I know! My sister was more of a TV watcher than I, she would watch Barney most of the day quite happily but I’d play with my dolly called Jamie, I’d spend a lot of time drawing and I’d turn our bedroom into a school room and teach all my teddies how to count.

Soon after my sister was born, my Mum became a childminder and our house would be filled with children a lot younger than me, they’d play their games, I’d also try to teach them in my school room of a bedroom but most of the time I’d draw. I think I learned how to entertain myself without having to watch TV or films. There definitely wasn’t any computer games around at that time, certainly no iPads or Netflix! It’s hard to believe that now and makes me feel quite old.

I digress. As I grew up, a lot of my time was used up with, first of all, School, like everyone. Then after school I was either going to Dancing School or Brownies or drawing or doing homework. When we did watch TV, my Sister, although she was the youngest, would have control over the TV remote and anything I wanted to watch as a teenager wouldn’t be suitable for her, this is weird to think of now as there isn’t too much of an age gap, I guess when I was turning 13, she was still 8, so it is a big age gap when you’re that age.

Even if I did have control of the TV remote, I wasn’t really that interested in TV or films. I much preferred doing other things. Especially when it came to films, sitting down for approx 2.5 hours just watching a screen seemed pointless. I could be doing so many other fun things! Maybe I just have a short attention span but I just see it as a waste of time. I guess all of this has worked in my favour, because whilst I wasn’t watching TV and films, I spent my time drawing, making little books with paper, I even created a magazine for mine and my sister’s “club.” The magazine was only one issue and the little books never got filled but look at where it has got me now. I’m a graphic designer by day and dream of creating my own stationery line by night.

It’s funny how things work out.

I am however aware that I have missed out on watching a lot of classic films that it seems everyone my age has magically watched and I feel so uneducated. I’ve started writing a list of the films that I haven’t seen and will tick them off as I watch them. I cheat a little and if I watch a film that I’ve never seen and isn’t on the list, it still goes on the list and gets a tick straight away. It’s just a bit of fun really.

Are you like me in missing out on a big part of growing up by following what you truly enjoy? Do you have any suggestions for my list? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

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She’s Back

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I’m so pleased to update that my laptop has now been fixed. I really had lost all hope of ever switching it on again but an IT guy at work took a look at it, and after much trial and error, managed to fix it! I can’t even describe how happy I was. I don’t like to take anything for granted or place too high a value on material possessions but I really didn’t expect my laptop, something I use everyday, to break and not switch on! I’m just so relieved it didn’t cost me hundreds or thousands to fix!

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In other news, I was awoken early on Saturday morning by the Amazon delivery man, with a parcel for me! It was the long awaited “I am a Witch’s Cat” book by Harriet Muncaster, the book was only released on Tuesday and I ordered it soon after. I am a little biased because Harriet is one of my best friends (I was her bridesmaid just over a month ago) but I knew how much work had gone into this book and it has been such a fun project to watch. The story is so clever with a fun twist at the end, it’s lovely. Even if I am slightly biased, I highly recommend it if you have children or if you’re like me and have a growing collection of children’s books just to look at the pictures.

If you still want more info, Harriet has been running a small “making of” series on her blog so that you can see what goes into making one of these books and Kirkus have written a great review of the story.

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Poorly Laptop



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This was my view last night, I switched my laptop on to make my biggest amazon purchase ever and had been planning for a while and wait a sec, there’s a loading bar that gets half way and then my laptop switches itself off. I then spent the rest of the evening, trying and trying again. Googling on my iPad, asking friends, asking google again. It really stressed me out because all the answers and tests were telling me that the hard drive was broken and needed replacing. Cue even more panicking and a few tears. I’ve only had my laptop 3 years, it’s not very old at all and I look after it well. She even has a name, Eve, as in Eve from Wall-E.

Today, I called the Apple Support line and they were ever so helpful and confirmed my suspicions that someone had to look at it and possibly repair it. I’ve now left it with the IT support guy at work over night, he’s running some sort of repair on the hard drive, and if all else fails, I’ll take it to the Genius Bar when I can get an appointment.

So, until I can get it fixed, I’ll be blogging from my iPad where I can and hopefully it won’t last too long. I’m so lucky that I have my iPad to be able to do this and as I said, hopefully it won’t be for too long but I look forward to using my sketchbook a bit more. It’s ironic that I now feel inspired to work on my website and on my blog now that I can’t, I’ll just have to channel that inspiration into more off screen ventures!

Tonight is for… #2

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Last night was full of lightning, thunder, wind, rain and heat, I hardly slept a wink! This was my beautiful view on the way to the train station this morning, it almost made up for the terrible nights sleep!

Tonight is for celebrating two birthdays, Tomorrow is for holiday planning with 7 other people as we plan the biggest holiday I’ve ever been on and Sunday is for meeting up with my fellow bridesmaids from the wedding for lunch. I’m excited for the weekend, hopefully I’ll have some time to squeeze in some work on a few projects too.

What do you have planned?

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Right Now #9

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I’ve had such a productive weekend, relaxing, getting things done and making homely improvements to our little house, it really is starting to look like home.

A friend of mine challenged me to a positive things challenge on Facebook. The idea is to list 3 positive things that have happened each day for a week. It is quite a challenge, I would say that I’m quite a positive person but are the things that I choose positive enough? are they boring? how do I choose just 3 things?

I bought some brush pens, which arrived on Saturday and I spent some time trying them out last night. Hand drawn brush type is definitely harder than it looks, I look forward to practicing over the next couple of weeks.

Now that we’re mostly settled into our new house, I’m finding a little more time to draw, blog, write etc. So, I hope to post a little more creative work on here rather than just my ramblings on life, although that’s good too!

I also felt really clever last night because I managed to install a new section to this blog, it isn’t live just yet but you can be sure I’ll announce it here when it is. It will be a separate portfolio site for all of my creative work, it’s about time I updated it all.

Congratulations to Germany on winning the World Cup, I’m a little bit glad it’s all over as I don’t really enjoy football and we can now all go to sleep at a decent time!

I’m now looking forward to the week ahead, I’m inspired to get to work on all the creative projects I have in mind. Right now though, I need to sleep to be ready for it all. I hope you have a productive week!

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