The Kindness of Kindred Spirits

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Growing up with a Canadian mother brought me great joy and profound insights. I learned life survives ferocious winters, hospitality trumps even the most mean-spirited, and no person arrives on earth better than anyone else. As the Canucks among you can tell, my mom came from the Western Prairies (a bastion of both radicalism and independence).

Her greatest gift lay in teaching me to seek out kindred spirits. Inspired by her favorite book Anne of Green Gables this meant looking inside a person to find their core values and beliefs. In the process you disregarded differences in race, class, and gender. Looking back on my mom’s amazing life she never faltered from this approach however far it drove her from the path planned out for her. As a result she created a beautiful extended family which still benefits us long after her passing. Image

It hit me again tonight as I visited other bloggers’ sites. Like my mom, WordPress gathers a pretty diverse bunch. These bloggers write for various reasons: to capture beautiful images all around the world; to save souls through politics or religion; or to share their hard won  knowledge and experience (without payment). At their core, each seeks to bring beauty where perhaps none currently exists or wants to show the beauty our busy eyes currently disregard. Image

One of the cool things about aging is you really grasp how little trappings matter. You have been fooled once too often, survived losses you once assumed insurmountable, and humbled by how the little things make you the happiest. It’s truly what the cliché “youth is wasted on the young” means. But of course, the cliché disregards the lessons one must necessarily learn to get where light shines through darkness. Image

It’s late so I’ll wrap up now. However, let me give a shout out to kindred spirits in my life (both real and virtual). Most importantly let me say love you to the woman who got me out of bed to write it. Miss you Mom. Here’s  one of your favorite places (SF Japanese Tea GardenImage

 

Paying Homage to Designers, Including the Inner Ones

Social Graphic Designer
Social Graphic Designer (Photo credit: Filimonas)

I whiled away the last hour or more on blog design. Confident a new theme, color scheme, or header picture would magically transform my blog into a high-end magazine knockoff, I grew frustrated as reality intruded. Namely, no quick set of clicks could suddenly elevate my work to match professionals. After all they poured years of sweat into learning their various trades, developing a host of innate talents, and acquiring multiple influences to inspire them.

In the past my Attention Deficit Disorder (“ADD”) inspired ineptitude would result in me tossing my hands up in despair and walking away from a host of creative projects.Day 15--Frustration My mom on seeing the “look” would tease “out, oh better let the Wookie win.” My longtime ex-partner – her already too small house littered with my failed projects – more accurately described me as lacking discipline. My ex (a gifted musician) knew with practice comes, if not perfection, at least competence. Inside I saw only a fulminating frustration destroying another set of dreams. Fortunately I have inattentive ADD so I could quickly let it go after my initial outburst. Unfortunately, this  ADD type made me forget to pick up after myself (gulp; remember I said “ex.”🙂

Our computers II
Our computers II (Photo credit: aranarth)

Then I discovered – relatively late in life – the virtual world of computers. Here I could save documents without running out of space, redesign pages without tearing them up with erasures, and manipulate hosts of objects without censure. Once again my childhood dreams of world domination resurfaced – if you follow this blog, you will see these dreams reappear on an almost weekly basis. :). Suddenly I could physically create documents resembling my inner designs. This greatly aided every job I went onto hold, whether complex or mundane, paid or unpaid. Moreover, I more easily tracked things, which previously  disappeared along with the paper scraps holding them.

Fortunately designers of all stripes helped  me to plunge feet first into this world. Each year designers made computers ridiculously easier to use and more  beautiful to view. (I have the bills to prove it.) College English professors hammered the need for structure,balance, and variety from the simplest sentences to the most complex paragraphs. (Building on the foundation the nuns laid – albeit heavy handedly – when I was a child.) Gifted designers like Robin Williams shared secrets in books like “The Non-Designers Design Book.”  (Classically boiling down the great principles  Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity to the easily remembered CRAP.)Magic Lessons

Communication
Communication (Photo credit: P Shanks)

Despite the wide variety of fields represented, all emphasized Communication. More significantly each placed the responsibility on the writer, not the reader for understanding the message. However unlike my punitive inner self flailing in frustration, each provided  methodologies and tools making it possible. Much like WordPress created an army of bloggers, these folks birthed design for the masses. Still much like a CPR class won’t turn us into heart surgeons, none of us will replace a truly gifted designer. It’s okay; the CPR class might get you to the heart surgeon, and a WordPress blog may carry your Little League team through a season.

Of course, it also means once again my ex was right. Sigh. Yet another lesson learned too late. Or maybe just learned later. Until the end, none of us can know whether something is “too late” or “just later.”Also some of us can only learn the hard way. Or ultimately my rationalization skills improved.exWives Club