F#@* You, I won’t play to my strengths (2011 Aug 16)

I learnt a new word today.  It is a word I have in some way, shape or form been searching for for many many years.

(did you like the for for many many?)

(I did)


The word is: polymath

The meaning is a person who is very learned in many fields.  The posterGOD of Polymaths would have be Da Vinci, and many definitions claim a person needs in-depth knowledge in many areas, not just to know a little about a lot…

I am very excited about this new word because finally I have discovered a term that is just like Jack-of-all-trades, only without the negative connotations.  Yey me!


I wonder how many DaVinci’s there have been throughout history who never realised even a part of their true potential because they had some person they looked up to telling them not to spread themselves too thin.  Specialise damn you, DaVinci.


Again, my inner critic is tapping me on the shoulder asking what right I have to write these words.  Critic boy needs a name.  Let’s call him Arseface.  Hey, Arseface, my blog, my content.


I am, to quote Cheryl Crow, “high on intellectualism” right now.  Been working on my semester plan today, and decided to hone in on Montaigne, my new found love; Lewis, because well, he doesn’t need a reason; and Alain de Botton because my brother told me about him, and he’s still alive and would probably reply if I emailed him.  I am very excited about my Critical Thesis.  If you are starting to zone out, I will just remind you that I am in fact, dyslexic and in the process of throwing myself in the deep end in such a way that will likely result in an amusing adventure at the very least.  I think I have put Proust on my reading list.


There’s another little idea I have, but this is one that I will not be mentioning again until it’s done, and only if it’s done successfully.  More on that later, hopefully!


That shall be all for tonight.


Golly Gosh (2011 Aug 11)

Yup, just a quick update because I’m not through the tunnel of stupid-lack-of-boundaries-crazy-busyness YET.


Had a baby


+Had no sleep because baby had colic.

+Turned 32, but feel 62 :(


Worship Central


+Still not sleeping more than a 3 hr stretch

+Complete artwork for VC2 creche wallpaper


+Church moved from Central to Wanchai!

+Foolhardy decision to accept job of writing VC2 book

+Scramble to interview relevant people before leaving for:

+Holiday in Phuket with Cooks, husband and my two little munchkins

+8-day intensive Uni residency that required the appearance of coherent thought, boy baby with ear infection, girl baby with tonsillitis, me with food poisoning thus missing last day.

+writing of 38 pages for VC2 Book in 3 days

+writing of makeup assignments for missed day at Uni

+Sick again with two days of sweaty-chilly fever

+I think we just sold our flat

+oh, it seems to be August now. Does it really matter?  Who even cares?  Life isn’t much fun right now.  Wah.  I need a violinist and a medal.


+vow to reevaluate priorities and learn to say no sometimes.

+too much of a good life is still too much.  Apparently I have limits.


Three Painting Day (2011 Feb 18)

It’s been a nice day today.  I’ve had a busy week in town, so today I decided to don some sweatpants to up my odds of staying home, or at least in DB.  It worked.  I did take Layla on a two hour outing to the post office, but I feel recharged.

The original plan was to do some writing because I got some comments back from my advisor yesterday and so was feeling directed and ready to plunge in again, but then after looking at the calendar and realising I have three whole weeks til my next submission, I thought, why not have a painting day instead?

I’ve been meaning to paint because I am thinking about trying to sell some art as my DIY fundraiser for our church building project.  I would dearly love to do something physical like run a marathon, but really, I just have to accept that at 35 weeks pregnant, that is not an option for me this time.  So, perhaps I can fetch a few bob from a picture or two… we shall see.  I really don’t know how to go about doing this, but I have people I can ask.

I had a serious offer to put on an exhibition about a year and a half ago.  I was sent away to create twelve paintings, and therein lay the problem.  In order to do a series of 12 paintings, one must have some sort of stylistic consistency.  I haven’t decided on mine just yet.  The likelihood of ever deciding on one if very slim, so I’m really uncertain as to my chances of ever completing the 12…as far as I know the offer still stands, but ug…



So, today I felt like painting my good friend Clive Staples Lewis.  I am very frustrated because he had (what I thought) was quite an easy face, and especially an easy pair of eyes, but I got impatient and put too much oil down and then lost control of the paint and just don’t feel satisfied with my efforts, so then I set myself the never-before-considered goal of leaving a painting to dry for a week or two with the intention of coming back to it later.  I am not good at coming back to things.  I like to knock things out completely in one sitting – not a virtue.  I am learning much.

So, after shaking hands with myself to revisit Clive later, I went on to two of my slightly more typical kiddie-styled music pictures.  You can get an idea of all three in the fuzzy photo above.  Anyway, I fought and won against the temptation to paint into the night and instead cleaned my brushes and packed all the stuff away.  I need to practice for Sunday… so, over to Project Sweet Sound we go….

Fry’s Thoughts (2011Feb 16)

I am currently reading Stephen Fry’s Fry Chronicles.  It’s an enjoyable read and he is clearly an highly intelligent individual.  I like that he sidetracks a lot, and thought I would share what he has to say about acting (and what I have interpreted to mean the creative arts as a whole):


He is talking about people who like to remind creative hopefuls of how competitive and tough the acting world can be:


“…The people who tell you this are cut from the same cloth as those who grow up these days to become trollers on internet sites and who specialize in posting barbarous, mean, abusive, look-at-me, listen-to-me anonymous comments on YouTube and BBC ‘Have your say’ pages and other websites and blogs foolish enough to allow space for their poison.  Such swine specializes in second-guessing the motives of those who are brave enough to commit to the risk of making fools of themselves in public and they are the scum of the earth. ‘Oh, but a thick skin is surely necessary in the acting profession.  Actors and theatre people should get used to it.’  Well if you want to be in a profession that accesses emotion and attempts to penetrate the mind and soul of man, I should have thought it is more necessary to have a thin skin.  Sensitivity.  But I am wondering off the point.” P95

Here here Mr Fry :)

Playing to Strength (2011 Feb 10)

Yesterday I had the opportunity to lead worship at our church’s lunchtime prayer meeting.  I am forever grateful for the generosity The Vine shows towards fledglings like myself – they really do believe in giving people the chance to develop, with the understanding that these things can take time.  I have been plugging away on the worship team for what…16 years now, and although on the one hand that sounds very impressive in a long-term commitment sort of way, on the other hand it really just goes to show how patient church is with me as I continue to grow at my own pace and try my hand at different areas of ministry.


Anyway, the reason for this post is to put some thought into the idea of playing to one’s strengths.  This is no new concept, but one that I do find troublesome.  I have heard the idea preached by Brian Houston and John Maxwell, as well we discussed in pastor’s meetings here in HK.  I am just really unsure of it.


I mean, I get the concept- if why invest in taking one gift from a level 2 to a level 4 when you could put the effort towards taking another gift from a level 7 to a level 9?  That’s the general premise.


I have spent years of my life envying people who are really really good at one or two things.  I am not one of those people.  I am a little bit okay at a lot of different things.  I have come to accept this now, mostly as the result of no longer having the emotional resource to fight it.


The problem I found was that the times I have tried to shelf all but a couple of my inclinations in the name of playing to a strength or two, I have wound up miserable.  I don’t dabble on a whim.  I do it because I feel that I have been given an idea, and it is up to me to make something of it.  It is almost a duty.  If I turn a blind eye to those duties, I end up feeling depressed and unfulfilled.


There are some people in the world who hold such regard for the idea of excellence that they simply will not attempt something unless they are more-or-less certain that they will be happy with their outcome.  I understand this and cannot argue against it because I have seen these people excel numerous times.  What I will acknowledge though, is that I do not possess their same level of self-control.  If I get the thought of auditioning for a Masters Degree in Jazz Dance into my head, there is little that can stop me from trying, even though my chances of success are limited, so that at least I can know that I tried.  Let’s not go into that specific example right now though.  I think it’s just two different types of people – two different ways a human brain can be wired.


The disadvantage of my wiring is that I am very familiar with failure.  Again, that’s not meant to sound heroic in any way.  Anyone who has actually failed at something important will know that a visit to failville is not an enjoyable experience, nor one that is easy to recover from.  The advantage is that I have enjoyed the process of trying new things, and have also developed some wisdom from experience, but most importantly, I feel, some tenacity.


Anyway, the main question I am grappling with right now is that if everyone only focused on their strengths, then would we perhaps be missing out on the awesome experience of uncomfortable stretching, and that thing that happens thanks to 2 Cor 12:9 where God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness?  I’m no theologian, but my lay interpretation of this verse is that if I’m too strong then I don’t leave much room for partnership with God.  I honestly don’t know if I’ve got that muddled or out of context in some way, but I am most open to discussion.


I’m not saying that mediocre worship leaders should be given the right to get on stage at church or anything like that – that would not be fair on the rest of the church body.  I am saying that if someone feels that they want to try to develop their skills in areas of level 2-6 abilities, then why not just let them?  I can say for sure that with or without the chance to get on stage, or publish, or sell art or whatever, I would still be doing what I do simply because I get uneasy when I don’t.  If I do get given the those opportunities then how nice, but I think that life is more fun if we just get on with doing what we believe we were made to do, as long as we aren’t hurting anybody, regardless of audience size or response.




For the Fun of it (2010 Aug 3)

So, why have I opened a separate blog?  This one is actually going to be the main one – the thoughts about life and general projects blog.  When a project demands a blog of its own (like Project Sweet Sound), then I will open one.  I need to feel like I have some sort of system for compartmentalising my life.  I don’t know why.  We can explore that here later, and if it becomes a very interesting exploration, we can then open it a blog of its own.


I spent some time painting yesterday.  I finished a little frustrated, and have been feeling that same frustration all morning.  I don’t love what I painted yesterday.  I did as I usually do – I sat down with a blank canvas, and also all the paintings I am ready to paint over should I need a canvas that size, and then I get an idea, and then I paint.  I very rarely set out with a plan.  I don’t know how I feel about this method, but really, since becoming a mum 22.5 months ago, I have to just grab whatever painting opportunities arise as they do in order to actually get anything done.


Anyway, I was remembering bumping into an acquaintance a few months ago, and I asked her what she was doing with her time – as you do – but her response was not one I have ever heard before:  “Oh, I paint on commission.”


I know plenty of professional artists, but I felt that this was a funny way of saying it.  I have no idea what affect she actually intended her statement to have, but I sort of felt like she was saying, ‘I paint, but not as a silly hobby, people actually give me money to buy my paintings…‘


Fair enough I suppose, but still, a funny way of putting it.  Yesterday as I sat on the floor painting (on the floor because it was too hard to dig the easel out of the store room) I pondered this girl’s statement.  I’m sure it is very nice to paint knowing that someone is going to pay for your product, but I came to the conclusion that I like painting for fun.


As it happens I do actually have a fairygodmother type of character in my life who has first dibs on pretty much anything creative I produce, but I forget this often and still find myself holding onto the dream of really selling a painting, or getting a book or illustration or song published, or whatever it may be.  I think that sense of hope-boardering-on-pathetic-desperation is a healthy and natural part of the creative process…to a point.


One thing I have noticed though, is that my best work comes after the desperate hope fizzles out, and at the place where I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of what I am making, I am making it purely because I feel I must.  This is partly a holy attitude of doing things for my audience of One, and partly because I do believe that if we don’t just get on and do the things we have been wired to do, something feels wrong.  I hate feeling wrong.


I painted yesterday because I felt I had to, I am not overly excited about my results, but oh well.  I had fun doing it and I’m glad I did.