Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Courage Interview with Cassandra Bazos

Cassandra Bazos is a jewellery designer from Oakville, Ontario.  She lives with a neurological disorder called Tourette Syndrome.  Tourettes is an inherited disorder that is characterized by multiple physical tics and at least one vocal tic.  Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada estimates that as many as 1 in 100 people may present symptoms of the disease.  The cause has not been established, although current research presents considerable evidence that the disorder stems from the abnormal metabolism of at least one brain chemical (neurotransmitter) called dopamine. Very likely other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, are also involved.  Despite the apparent frequency of this disease at mild to severe levels, there are many misunderstandings and mysteries surrounding the symptoms, which have created a stigma.  As we think about courage, it's important to look at the type that emerges from our own fears, and in the face of the fear of others.  Here is what Cassandra has to say about it:

1. What does courage mean to you?
Courage to me is the ability to laugh in the face of fear,.  To dive off a cliff knowing that you don't know what lies ahead.  Courage is a powerful thing.  It's something we should strive for as individuals.

2. What are some of the challenges you've faced , what was at risk, and why did you decide to take the risks on?
Jennifer, as you know, I have Tourette's Syndrome and this is a challenge that I have faced since I was 16.  For the longest time I had no idea what was wrong with me.  At 24 I decided to get tested, I was determined to figure out what was going on.  When I found out that I have Tourettes it felt like my dirty little secret, I didn't want to talk about it, let alone tic in public,  I knew what the stigma was, I wasn't about to let myself be put in that kind of situation.  I was afraid for the longest time that people were going to think that I was different, that I was not normal.  Then I made friends with a group of people at school who were not only understanding but asked questions when I first mentioned it.  I was very surprised that life could be like this.  I decided to take on the risk because I knew that eventually I would have to 'face the music' and why not let it be now?

3. Did you surprise yourself? Were others surprised?
I decided that I shouldn't be living in the shadows and that Tourettes needs to be de-stigmatized to the point of acceptance.  I did surprise myself at first but now I feel stronger than ever in that what I am doing is right.  Don't get me wrong, some of the people I have told that I have Tourettes thought it was a joke.  It did hurt that they weren't taking it seriously but it also made me realize that education is key for a syndrome like Tourettes.  There's too much of a stigma behind it that we have to break.

4. Where did you learn courage?
I believe that courage comes from deep down inside of you naturally.  We all have the capability to strive for courage but not all of us use that power.  Sometimes it takes a devastating situation to bring courage to light, in other instances it just takes a push to get it to manifest.  Along with courage comes compassion, which is what makes us human.

5. Tell me about a time when someone you know was phenomenally braver than they thought they were?
I remember high school as a rather traumatic experience for me but I had a best friend to keep me company.  I was an extremely hyper child so it put other kids in a precarious spot as to how to deal with me.  With that being said, I got picked on a lot.  My best friend was quite a passive individual and never really got into a conflict situation.  One day I was being bullied and he jumped right into the middle and fought words with words to come to my aid.  I will remember that day always, he was my true hero, my best friend.  He was brave for me.

6. What is something now that you will need to take on, and what will it take to push through?
Wanting to educate the world on Tourettes is a daunting challenge.  It's one thing to tell your friends and your neighbours but it's another to tell strangers and work on projects that will impact the knowledge about the syndrome as we know it.  I am currently working with the TSFC (Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada) on a jewellery line that will be able to promote the discussion of Tourettes and hopefully educate those who don't know what the disorder is.  I am also planning to take part in the 2011 Trek for Tourettes to help raise money and awareness on education and research to find better ways to assist those with this syndrome.

7. Anything you'd like to add for those facing the same quest?
To those who are facing Tourettes or any neurological disorder, don't let it run your life.  Be open with others and educate.  I believe that education of all kinds is the best thing we can provide for fellow man in life.  Don't be afraid, jump into the abyss, you're not alone.  Tourettes doesn't define you as a person, it adds value and meaning to your life.  I would say that it will make you feel much better once you've gotten it out in the open but for some of you that won't be the case.  If you're not a 'jump off the bridge' kind of person taking baby steps towards your goal of telling the world work as well.  I know, I've been there too.  Baby steps are key.  Even if it's only telling a close friend or a teacher or your dog, once you get it out in the open you'll realize that everything will be okay.  That's when you'll begin to open up and want to tell the world about this wonderful gift you've been given.  Having courage is taking a step in the right direction, just remember that.

Thank You very much to Cassandra Bazos for giving her insights so generously.  For more information on Tourette Syndrome and efforts being made to help, please go to http://www.tourette.ca

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Topic: Courage

The first thing I would like to say about this topic is that it has taken me a long time to differentiate between courage and recklessness.  I will forgo posting wikipedia definitions of each, and say that I believe the deciding factor is in the measurement, concern, and knowledge of risk.  I have come to believe that if a person has no concern of any risk, or refuses to consider it before throwing himself into a ridiculous situation, he is reckless.  As adorable as it is, I firmly believe it does no good but to serve as a warning to others.  Courage, for me is when you know the risks, you know how hard it is going to be, but there is a lot depending on your success, so you push through a ridiculous situation, trying to cause as little damage as possible, with your drive focused on a larger good.  My confession is that my greatest moments of courage have come after moments of recklessness, when I've been clobbered with the consequences of my actions and had to work my way out and over, with full comprehension of what could happen (again).  I suppose that means one of the blessings of experience is the opportunity to be brave.

I have a couple of interviews lined up to talk about courage, but if you have anything to contribute (your story, or someone you admire), please email me :)  frekkeldesigns@yahoo.com

 We share :)

Peter O'toole and Sophia Loren, summing up courage of 
heart, mind, spirit and body in Man of La Mancha, 1972.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Inspiration Interview with Lindsay Bess, visual artist, teacher

Lindsay Bess is a visual artist from Scarborough, ON.  She is also an Art Teacher who has worked with local community initiatives (Elevated Grounds, Por Amor, CKLN 88.1FM) for over a decade, and is fully vested in the uplifting of her audience and her students. The work she does is never very far removed from the issues going on locally and internationally, and shes consider her work to be functional, artistic social commentary. She has done work all over the world, mostly murals – and shes believes mural-making to be one of the best ways to engage the public in art making and appreciation.

Lindsay Bess lives by an aphorism, “The artistic education of those unfamiliar with art relies on its practitioners and how well they convey their ideas – and that is a reflection on how well the practitioners understand themselves and their roles as artists.”

What/who inspires you?
Many things inspire me, but right now it's my late mother. All of her struggles with life, her work ethic, her ability to make something huge out of nothing, her desire to be better and to have better for her children is totally incomprehensible to people who never knew her. She was amazing.

When have you had you greatest "A-ha" moments?
My greatest aha moments are when I least expect them, but always when I allow them to come in...meaning, when I stop being my own idea-blocker and creative control freak and start letting the thoughts just flow...and that's for everything actually. I had one of those moments today after a near-death experience (sorry if I sound super-dramatic - I lived, obviously). I had to stop and think about what had happened, be honest with myself about prevention and then I remembered a dream I had last night about my mother and grandmother. I miss them both so much and usually think about them as gone, not with me and very distant, but it was clear to me that they were and are with me every second of the day, still nurturing me and keeping me safe like I remember them.
What do you do when you feel you are in need of inspiration?
When I'm in need of inspiration, I listen to Stevie Wonder...or Jean Grae.

What do you feel you do to inspire others?
I think my cheerfulness is one thing, same with my giggling at even the worst jokes (you'll feel like a comedian around me, and yes I really think you're funny)...Actually it's me being a vegetarian. I know some pretty hardcore meat-eaters, and they always seem amazed that I can do it - and if I can, anyone can, seriously. And I think I've inspired a couple ppl to jump ship and travel, and go back to school...wait, that's a lot of things! But only because people have inspired me in the same way, so I recognize it in others.

Anything else you'd like to add...
Thanks for askin! This was fun! Hip hop ya don't stop...

Be sure to check out Lindsay Bess:
For inquiries email: visual.funk@yahoo.com

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bgirl Maehem Pendant... Look what I can do!

 What have I been up to?  Here is what I've been up to:

This is Maehem, bgirl/owner/instructor/awesome person, and now, pendant.  She is doing a freeze on one hand while holding her foot with the other hand.  She is made of Sterling silver and is suspended from a Sterling silver cable chain. 

To make mini-Maehem, I started with a sheet of silver, a few pics of the real Maehem, and her permission to use her image.

 Then, I released her from her paper prison...

 And glued her to the silver sheet.

  A-sawing we will go.

 Very, very carefully, the edges needed to be filed and smoothed with emery paper.  No snags required or desired.

Both front and back also got the emery treatment, and the front was polished to a mirror shine.

After I pierced the pendant, I used wire to create tiny rings that could attach the pendant to a Sterling silver cable chain.

 The rings need to be soldered to ensure strength and durability.

  Maehem in action

 Maehem, modeled by the famous Bgirl Maehem herself.
be sure to check out her studio's website: http://streetdanceacademy.com/

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Inspiration Interview with Gillian E. Batcher of Jewel Envy and Pash.

Gillian E. Batcher owns Jewel Envy, a collaborative studio, where she designs and makes jewellery. In addition to making jewellery she teaches classes from her studio, George Brown College, and the Ontario College of Art and Design. She has a degree in Psychology from the University of Western Ontario and a certificate in Jewellery Arts from George Brown College, graduating from both with distinction. In addition to studying at George Brown she took an intensive jewellery course in Florence, Italy. Upon completing her training she was accepted into Harbourfront Centre’s   residency program where she worked as an artist in residence for three years. She has participated in numerous art shows and exhibitions in Canada and the United States and has been the recipient of various awards for both technical and artistic achievement.

Her work is about re-establishing a connection to the roots of craftsmanship. Techniques previously used for their working properties are used today for their visual appeal. “I explore the integration of these
divergent uses and highlight the relationship between function and form in contemporary jewellery. To illustrate this relationship, I use methods to create volume balanced by structures that create strength. This results in a body of work that combines the appearance of delicacy with the practicality of strength. These complementary ideas allow for the creation of comfortable, sculptural jewellery that stands alone, but comes to life on the body.”

What/who inspires you?
I find inspiration in a variety if places from architecture to other artists work and even raw materials such as plastic.

When have you had you greatest "A-ha" moments?
Inspiration is a funny thing. It can not be conjured just because you need it. I find my most creative moments are either when I am completely relaxed or just after I have had a disaster (real or imagined). When I am relaxed, often just before falling asleep, I have moments when everything falls into place and I envision what I want to make as a complete finished piece of jewellery. With the piece formed I can move onto the puzzle of solving how to make it. The other moment for inspiration is just after I think I have ruined something. In some cases I have in others I have not, but the shock often triggers my mind to start coming up with solutions and alternatives to what I have already tried.

What do you do when you feel you are in need of inspiration?
When I need inspiration I start by flipping through my sketch books to see if there is a design I would like to bring to life. If nothing appeals at the moment I look to the materials I have at my studio and in my home. If neither of these sparks my imagination it is time for a vacation! I always come back from trips with fresh ideas and ready to start new projects.

What do you feel you do to inspire others?
I am not sure if I inspire others. But if I do it is probably my strong work ethic.

Anything else you'd like to add... 
Take chances in your work and your approach to success. If you are lucky you will remember what does not work and apply the knowledge to figure out what does work. Try not to regret failed attempts regret missed opportunities and try not to miss future ones.

Thank You Gillian!

Please be sure to Check out Gillian E. Batcher's studio, Jewel Envy, and all it offers!

Friday, January 7, 2011

We're still on Inspiration, and I have a couple more interviews coming (hint, hint, contributors!).  Until those are posted, here is a little book review:

Just before the new year, I started to read a book I picked up in September, called "She Inc." by Kelly Keehn.  It was a "Word on the Street" remainder find, which is sometimes a treasure, and sometimes... well, just a remainder.  I was excited at first about the prospect of handling my business and life as the sole CEO of my own corporation, ME Inc.  It makes sense, to be fully aware of all of the financial possibilities out there for yourself, and be able to handle it all on your own.  As a single mom and business owner, I was open to the idea of utilizing my skills in every aspect of my life and be truly independent, not waiting for something to come along and complete me.  The single mom's battle cry, it seems.
I'm not sure if it is because I am a person of faith, or if I am not completely willing to embrace my all-empowered greatness, but so far I have found the book off-putting, and not inspiring at all.  The author admits to not necessarily following a specific passion, but counts herself successful in wealth and accomplishments.  I respect that.  There are lots of references to the importance of preparing oneself for new horizons and opportunities, not getting too attached to a particular vocation, even if it you feel it is your calling...?  She has started to lose me a bit here, but I am trying to remember that she is coming from a banking background, and admittedly, not having ever followed a path driven by passion alone.  I am not talking about following a dying trade for the sake of being a starving artist with integrity, I just think it is okay to be excited about the possibilities out there for you when you are trying to live off of what you love to do.  Isn't it possible to maneuver quite a bit and develop yourself exponentially while still following your passion?  Doesn't it evolve with with your skill set and experience and exposure to new possibilities?  As I said, I understand where Keehn is coming from, but for people who are trying to live AND create, that advice may not be so useful.
The next part that gave me cause for a pause, was the idea that we should use volunteer work solely as a way of increasing our skill set.  Just?  Even Ayn Rand has mentioned that one of the virtues of selfishness is that what you've gained when you please yourself inherently helps other people.  That does seem to have some thread of giving back in it.  This is why I mention being a person of faith, meaning I want to do my best, but I do believe that my primary business on earth is too be available to help my fellow human beings, not to exploit them.
I'm probably not being fair.  I am going to continue reading, because I do want to be a stronger business owner and all-around superhero.  In the meantime, feel free to share any books/articles you've been reading, that you find Inspirational.

As a side note, I wonder if Mike Wallace is surprised at how things have come along...
Ayn Rand: 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Inspiration Interview with Erin Groff of Pulpa Paper Products.

Artist Erin Groff of Newark, Ohio, creates with fiber that is cotton mixed with various recycled fibers, dyes, and botanicals from the garden. The cotton and additives are soaked, possibly dyed, and beat into a pulp. Once this pulp (slurry) is created, it goes through a screening and pressing process and then left to dry. 
Erin built on the education she received from Columbus College of Art and Design, played, experimented, and now sells her art and sculpture online. 
This is what she has to say about Inspiration...

What insipres you?

Ahhh, a timeless question, "what inspires me?" Sometimes it seems so difficult to find and other days I can find it in the way the sun hits the trees, the way a child plays, or even as simply as the taste of really good peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

When have you had your greatest "A-ha" moments?
Keep in mind artists, that sometimes it isn't about how GREAT your art is, it's about how GREAT YOU BELIEVE you art to be. The excitement and energy we portray is fed into others around us, and they feel that too. They begin to think " This must be awesome"!, and it is!!!! This is my A-Ha moment!

What do you do when you feel you are in need of inspiration?
As I previously mentioned, there are those days when inspiration is difficult if not darn right impossible to find. What is one to do, especially if ones livelihood depends on inspiration to create the products one sells? Yikes! Well, they don't call us starving artists for nothing. Cleaning out my workspace and studio always helps, I find when everything is put back into it's place, neat and tidy; I cannot wait to spread it all out again and make a new mess! Otherwise, I take a bath, along with a deep breath, possibly a nap. Wake up, then go for a drive and hope that sun hits the trees just right!!

What do you feel you do to inspire others?

I try to live open minded and child like. At almost 35 years of age, I feel I haven't progressed much past cutting and pasteing, and I am thrilled for it. So many people I know get caught up in the 9 - 5, mortgages, and children, and husbands, dry cleaning, and PTA that they forget to stop and have fun. I want to be a testimonial to the fact that you don't have to be a grown up to do all these things. To be youthful and child like does not mean immature and childish! So cut something up, yell out the window, and don't worry if anyone else thinks this is NORMAL.
Peace, Love, and Handmade Paper!
Thanks Erin!!!

Please be sure to check out Erin Groff at Pulpa Paper Products, www.pulpapaperproducts.com