Bit fuzzy from my much-abused camera phone, but this is the moment we handed in our entry to work’s art competition. Based on one of our academic’s TEDx talks, about homophily – which is “the tendency of individuals to associate and bond with similar others”.
This was a group effort from Crafty Coffee, our Friday lunchtime craft group – and we thought it illustrated us perfectly.
Don’t miss Campus Cat in the middle! Maria’s original talk is here, with the images we were inspired by at 15:19.
Discovering, a couple of years ago, that I was a Scanner, was a turning point in my life.
If you’ve never come across the word in this context before, alternative names include Renaissance woman/man/soul, polymath, da Vinci personality, multipassionate, multipotentialite, and some that are less complimentary – dilettante, flake, Jack-of-all-trades, fantasist.
Barbara Sher, who coined the term Scanner, goes into it in much more depth in her books, but the gist is that it’s someone who has many interests, usually moves jobs often, can’t seem to settle on one thing to do and who has ideas all the time, and frequently leaves projects seemingly unfinished.
I’m not normally one for labels, but I’d struggled for years with my many, many interests, and my attention span waxing and waning depending on what I was doing, but also on when I was doing it and what other things were currently on my radar. I had more hobbies than the rest of my group of friends put together, and found it utterly impossible to stay in a job for more than 18 months or so without being bored to tears. By the time I was 24 I had a CV which spanned as many pages as my Dad’s did – he was 66 at the time.
Even the line dancing I adored, I stopped once I’d reached a certain level. I qualified for, competed in and placed in the World Championships in Nashville in 2000, and it has taken me fifteen years to rekindle my love affair with line dancing. I got what I wanted out of it, and then I quit. (Though I’ve worn cowboy (girl?) boots ever since I was nine.)
Modern Western society expects us all to be specialists, and to choose one thing to do for the rest of our lives. Even at 16 I raised eyebrows by choosing English, French, German and Physics for my A levels. So many people told me that I should have taken another Humanities subject. I’d have taken something arty (photography or textiles or something like that), but I was told at school, repeatedly from childhood, that I was academic and not creative. So I did what I could at the time, while dreading the thought of refining my choices even further.
My tendency to stop completely and move on, once whatever I was doing ceased to be interesting or fun, has been frowned upon over the years too – because in our society, whether at work or at play, quitting is seen as giving up, as being unreliable and therefore as a bad thing. I couldn’t understand why people would continue with all sorts of things, most of which were either supposed to be fun or which took up a considerable chunk of precious life – work, relationships, hobbies, projects – long after they stopped enjoying them.
Discovering blogs (or weblogs, as they were known in the misty recesses of 2005) was a revelation – here at last was somewhere where I could write about and share the day to day stories of being me, of everything I did – and instead of simply recording it in a diary, I found likeminded people! Other people’s writing, blog comments, forums for incredibly niche hobbies like collecting model horses – for the first time, no one judged me for having a series of bursts of enthusiasm for something, then taking a break and returning to it later.
(A vaguely relevant side note – I found it hilarious when people started extolling the virtues and wonder of internet dating, and meeting people online, a few years ago – because these were the same people that gave me repeated lectures on how stupid I was to go to London to meet new friends I’d met online through my hobbies… whether Wheel of Time fans, model horse collectors or photographers. My first internet meetup was with Chloe in London when I was 19, back in 2006 – and it was apparently far from normal to do that then. She’s now one of my dearest friends. Who knew something held in such suspicion would become so mainstream so fast?!)
Regardless of the type of project, idea or pastime, I followed (follow!) a pattern of sorts – I’d have an idea or something would pique my interest, I’d research it a bit and decide I wanted to learn about it or learn to do it. I’d do some more research, meet some people who already did it, buy some things related to it (craft materials, jewellery tools, small collectable resin horses, typewriters…) and then throw myself into it with an all-consuming passion. Until the next thing caught my attention.
An example – at the time I write, I have just found the new My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series. I ADORED MLP when I was younger, and had avoided the new style ones in case I hated them. Then I saw an episode on YouTube and am now devouring the first and second series on DVD, while scouring shops and the internet for MLP memorabilia to keep on my desk, pin up in my studio, and hang from my handbag.
I’ve driven both my (now ex) partners and my parents, and probably my friends too, up the wall for decades with my wild enthusiasm for a new project which dwindles into inertia just as they’re starting to come round to the idea of me having chosen My Thing, at last.
So after the best part of a decade of doing this and blogging, and trying to justify my inability to choose or find that One Thing to do with my career and free time that was supposed to keep me interested for the rest of my life, I found one of Barbara Sher’s books in the library.
And I read it, and I cried… because there at last was proof that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t a flake and that I wasn’t broken. I just had a different kind of brain – and there were other people out there like me.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I’ve actively sought out other people who get it, though the majority of people I know still don’t. Which is ok – we’re just wired differently! Lots of the solopreneurs I now count among my dearest friends (the internet is a properly magical thing!) are also scanners, and we’re learning how to make our personalities work with our businesses rather than forcing ourselves into a box.
When I find a new thing, the time I spend engaged with it varies – from a few days to a few years, and I am never without several things on the go. (if I’d had a £1 for every time someone asked me how I fit so much in and follow so many hobbies, I could probably retire tomorrow). And I have a noticeable cycle, though the timing isn’t consistent – generally, if it’s something I discover and like enough to chuck myself into it, I make friends within it and then continue to return to it after intervals, throughout my life.
Examples of these include collecting, painting and showing model horses; my car Poppy and the club I belong to through her; roller skating (started at age 6 and I go through phases of being addicted to it every few years); horse riding; jewellery making; papercraft and scrapbooking; customising shoes and clothes; reworking the interior of my home; sewing; camper vans; cross stitching, baking, wanting to write a book… the list is endless (almost literally).
The only things which are consistent are writing and photography. Which brings me to the heart of this post.
When it became apparent at an absurdly early age that I was going to write, and read, far more than I was going to do anything else consistently (the photography came later), it’s been suggested repeatedly that I should be an author and write books, or a journalist and write articles, or a travel writer, or [insert traditional writing-related-job here].
And they’re all good ideas on the surface. But the trouble is, I don’t want to write whole books (well, I do, but I know myself well enough now to know that completing more than one is highly unlikely – the kick I’ll get when I finish Unfurling is highly likely to be enough for me to move onto something else instead of writing a second book).
I don’t want to dive so deeply into one subject that I don’t have time or energy left over to explore all the other amazing things out there – which, if I pursued a traditional writing career, I would have to do. Even journalists, who write short to medium articles instead of whole books, usually specialise in a broad topic – business, or travel, or cookery, or lifestyle.
And while thinking about my blog, and where it’s headed over the next few years, and how I got into blogging in the first place, it occurred to me that it really is the perfect place for my scanner personality to develop, grow and flourish.
It takes the two things I do naturally and consistently, and applies them to the ever-changing series of things that I do equally naturally, but much less consistently. I can write one-sentence posts, or 2,000 word epics like this one – and I get to choose, rather than an editor.
Since I very first started blogging back in 2006, and in a more structured way since the inception of Ducking Fabulous in 2010, I have used my very own space on the internet to record, write, think out loud and muse about life, learning and all the things that catch my fancy.
To explore and investigate my passing enthusiasms, catch ideas I’d like to follow up in the future, and record my journey through learning and practising and discovering. It gives me a self-made library to refer to when I come back to something I’ve done before, and means I have tangible evidence of how I’ve improved, changed, or grown in a particular area.
Through my writing I’ve learned to give myself permission not to finish things, and to hop, if I want to, between interests. I allow myself to stop doing things if they’re not working – a complete antithesis to the previous generation’s work ethic, which tends to be along the power-through-and-keep-going-even-if-it’s-hard-and-it-should-be-worth-it-in-the-end lines.
Credit is also due to the rise of blogging in popularity and as a career choice – I no longer have to explain what a blog is, and it’s the best excuse I’ve ever had for trying out new things – all in the name of fresh content for my lovely readers. Yet this blog, seemingly uniquely for a blog that supports a business, is still very much my little space on the internet. I’m forever reading articles which tell you what you must and mustn’t do in order for your blog to be businesslike, or relevant, or grow your readership… and I stand by my belief that a blog is the equivalent of your home online.
I want people to see me for who I am, and if they resonate with me and like my writing, then some part of my business will probably be a good fit for them. Whether it’s jewellery, tarot decks or courses depends very much on them and what they’re looking for.
I’m trying this year for the first time to schedule my posts and write them in advance, and while it works for some types of post, it’s failing miserably for others. Like these. I need to write them when the inspiration strikes, and then I want them out there so I can have the conversations they spark while the subject is still fresh in my mind.
So what about you? Are you also a scanner, or beginning to realise you could be one? Let me know in the comments (or email me if you’d prefer it not to be public) – I’d love to know.
This week I got my creative mojo back in buckets and have been making jewellery, and experimenting with new techniques. And I’ve finally applied to the Secret Vintage Fair – a fair I’ve wanted to be at since they started, but life has got in the way. Fingers crossed my application will be accepted and I’ll be able to take my new stock out in April!
The other contenders for this week are in my Flickr stream, including my first ever Cornish pasty……
Once, long ago (well, in 2008) I did a 365 photography project. I loved the challenge of taking photos every day, but my life is now far too full to be able to commit to that. And I have quite enough half-finished projects and barely-started ideas to knowingly add to the pile!
So instead I’m starting a 52 project for 2015. One photo a week, all year.
I’m sharing the best contenders each week over on my Unfurling Flickr page and will post the one I choose each Monday over here.
For the very first week of January I struggled, because it was full of amazing at home and with friends. And lovely Anna’s 40th birthday! So in the end I went for an arty one and one of the birthday girl, because it was far too hard to choose from the ones of my friends all together.
The lovely people at Country Baskets sent me a box of craft ingredients and a challenge – make a Christmas decoration using at least four of them. I’m up against other bloggers and they will judge the competition this week. Eeek!
My box contained florist’s wire, satin ribbon, a frosted (faux) mistletoe spray, a wonderful garland of fluffy white pom poms, silver (faux) poinsettia with wired stems, silver bells on a chain, a pack of cream coloured wire balls and a pack of heart shaped baubles.
I had a wonderful time unpacking them and the cats had a wonderful time exploring the box and the packaging. (Thank you for the unexpected bonus gift of a cat-sized box, Country Baskets!)
But what to make?
Due to the EU VAT fiasco that is still raging, I haven’t had a lot of time for crafting, and I wasn’t sure what would best fit the challenge in the tiny pockets of time I had available. Then I remembered that a few years back I used some similar wire, plus tinsel and baubles to make an evergreen wreath. Those pom poms were crying out to be hung on my front door, so I set to work.
It is nearly impossible to craft when you have inquisitive cats who are firmly convinced they’re helping…
But eventually I had a finished wreath – and I’m chuffed with the mistletoe in the middle, as real mistletoe is poisonous to cats so I won’t have it in the house. Here it is:
And here it is adorning my front door, just in time for Christmas brunches and drinks!
*Courtesy of Country Baskets – I wasn’t paid for this post but I did receive a free box of products to use in my decoration.
My love affair with Filofaxes blows hot and cold, but I am certain it will never blow over.
It’s that time of year when I start needing to write stuff in my diary for the following January and February (and March, given our upcoming trip) and my stationery addiction comes out to play. (Oh, who am I kidding – it comes out to play most days!!)
I blogged over on Ink Drops recently about my custom daily planner, and I have been really enjoying using it. However, when three months of the year is chunkier and heavier than a standard A4 hardback notebook, it’s not the most practical for planning – and it’s become more of a daybook – somewhere to record what I do, spend my time and money on, am grateful for, would like to do next, and all the random thoughts that occur throughout the day.
Then I ambled into my friend Nic’s office and found her pulling apart an A5 Filofax, while her printer churned out some beautiful planner pages. And a little light went “ding” in my head.
On leaving the library in 2011, I was given a Paperchase voucher (because they knew me well) and I bought myself… yep, you guessed it, the most glorious plum leather A5 Filofax. I adored it and I’m not entirely sure when or why I stopped using it.
And wouldn’t you know, there is a whole world of Filofax and personal planner customising out there – a way for me to let my inner crafter loose!
I’ve spent most of my spare moments this week creating dividers from scrapbooking card, joyfully making lists of what sections and sub-sections I want to have in there (I’m in geek heaven) and Nic and I have even bought a proper hole punch between us so we can easily add more custom bits to our planners. I’m also working on a whole bunch of custom inserts, which I might chuck in the Etsy shop if I ever finish a cohesive set of them!
I’ll reveal it in more detail at some point, and review the punch too (you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find one, but this one was reasonable at £32 and has worked exceptionally well so far).
The best part? Except for the punch, I’ve not spent a penny – I’ve used scrapbooking card & papers I already owned, Project Life cards and stickers from my stash to jazz it up, and I even already had colour coded pens (why does that surprise no one?) to keep with it.
I’m sure I start every post like this, but how fast is 2014 disappearing to?! It’s turning out to be such a funny year – a mixture of ups and downs both big and small.
A few days away from the day job, in theory to work on my businesses and get myself organised again after some reshuffling, have ended up being gorgeous but not as business focused as I’d originally planned.
I’ve house hunted with a dear friend (and found one!), discovered I can drive a Luton van, experimented with glow in the dark paint, got Poppy through her MOT, visited my Gran, had a whole day with Mum mooching round the independent and charity shops of Maldon, fixed some jewellery, had lots and lots of kitty cuddles and started sketching out and playing with new jewellery designs. Which is exciting, as that’s been on hold since about February.
I’m planning to focus my new work on the printed pieces (wooden and dominoes) as talisman jewellery, to go in my shop here and also probably over on my Etsy shop at some stage. From trees to keys and owls to ravens (and of course typewriters and campervans and wings!), I hope that everyone will find something that helps them keep their beliefs and secret wishes by their side always.
Annastasia and I have also been having a glorious time choosing new stock for Ink Drops, and one of our new artists lives just down the road from me – truly local!
Back to the day job tomorrow but I’m feeling ok about that – campus is so beautiful as we approach autumn and though there’s a huge amount of work to be done between now and Christmas, at least I’m busy… my Creator and Scanner selves don’t deal well with boredom!
And this afternoon I’ll be adding more stock to my shop… so keep your eyes peeled.
A summer of Instagram and meeting some photographically minded friends last weekend have inspired me to get out and about with my camera. If I’m exploring a new area, I love doing an A-Z challenge alone or with people.
Decide on a theme, and then fill it in before you leave or as you go along, and use as a shot list. You can do it solo or with friends, collaboratively or as a competition.
You can also use the list for gratitude lists, blog or article series ideas, places you want to visit… anything that’s alphabetical really.
You can download your own copy of my blank list here (no sign up required!) or by clicking on the image. And don’t forget to show me how you’ve used it on Instagram! The more inventive, the better…
I'm Carla, a quirky thirtysomething with a penchant for unicorns and glitter. I believe in magic and make-believe, and the gorgeous rebellion of making your life absolutely your own. And I'm a proud multipod!
Proud to be both girly and geeky, when I’m not writing, photographing or daydreaming, you can find me dancing burlesque, riding my bicycle Bluebell, growing herbs and collecting typewriters.
Things I wanted to do in 2017. 2018 is a massive work in progress still! From my Daydreams To Do list and also from my general goals for the year.
~ experiment with film cameras
~ walk more
~ explore Colchester
~ beach time
~ kitty portraits
~ western riding
~ spa days
~ learn to make bath bombs
~ recreate Lush's Angel's Delight soap fragrance
~ slow reading club
~ craft gatherings
~ work in sterling silver
~ build a catio
~ handwritten letters
~ photobook of the house project