Skateboarding produces space, but also time and the self.

My bike (which I made from scratch) is pretty mushed up from when I got hit by a car 2 weeks ago. The front wheel is about as damaged as my ribs. As a result I was feeling pretty lost at getting from A to B. Sure I can walk, but it’s slow and boring. I could take the bus but it’s expensive. I need to do the excerise too. I’ve never been a fan of walking about, unless it’s a new place or in a city, like NYC where everything is a sight to be savoured. But generally, I’d rather take my bike instead. Nothing beats having the wind in your hair, the sun in your eyes, the burn from a mad-dash up a hill, or the adrenaline of riding down a steep hill at 30-40MPH.

No bike, I was stumped. Until I remembered that I had my skateboard that I bought whilst living in Brooklyn during the summer of 2008. It was a way to ensure I’d get invited by skaters to rooftop BK parties. And I wasn’t in a position to turn down friends. I’d practice riding the -then – not very busy industrial streets of Williamsburg, of course now it’s really busy down by the waterfront. And if you’re not getting hit by a car you’re probably getting run down by some dude on a fixie.

So it’s been a while since I took my skateboard out. My mom had hidden it in the depths of the cupboard where inanimate objects and old clothes go to die. I waited until I could lift my hands higher that my clavical without wincing in pain, and decided to take out the skateboard. I’ve certainly lost my confidence in riding, but mane, nothing beats the sound of skateboard on concrete.

Last night I went to my local leisure center. I know it closes at 4pm on a Sunday ensuring an empty parking lot. And honestly, I feel back in love with skating.  There’s a freedom to it. A control. A beauty between architecture, being and balance. It’s almost zen like. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was content with just riding up and down and around a parking lot. Just doing something relatively banal which feels so exciting! I feel like a child again trying to master something for the first time.

I’m quite excited to start taking the board from A to B again. Skateboarding produces space, but also time and the self.  I’m reminded of The practices of everyday life, which in everyday space, are rich in agency, invention and subversion, as much as they are habitual, controlled and restricted. Such practices produce and reproduce social space in ways that are both planned and unforeseen.

Here’s some of my favourite videos that I’ve found that really capture that playful, architectural production of space and time. It makes me really want to go back to America.

 

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QUIK from Colin Kennedy on Vimeo.

Balmorhea – Pyrakantha [official] from Colin Kennedy on Vimeo.

form from Colin Kennedy on Vimeo.

Four Corners: West – Episode 1 from Vans Europe on Vimeo.

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Growing Up A Second Time

It was my good friends birthday yesterday. She turned only 19 years old. Still a baby. Although 19 was only 6/7 years ago for me, it seems so much longer. Being in your mid-20′s isn’t that old, but I feel like I’ve aged 2 lifetimes in the past 3+ years, I feel like I’m ageing in dog years. Maybe ageing like that makes you look back a bit more.

As I was out with my young course friends, I thought about what I’ve done so far in and with my life. And what getting older kind of feels like.

Philosopher Alain De Botton tweeted today that ” ‘Growing up’ in many ways a long process of learning to put up with stuff. Eventually, even the idea of dying.”

I came from an incredibly poor family, mostly it was just my mom, my bro, and me with my nan popping in often.    As a result I didn’t have many things considered as “cool” growing up. My clothes were cheap, and shabby. I was a bit weird, I loved hip-hop and animation as a 8 year old. I had this incredible imagination. And I was kinda fat. This made me such an easy target to be bullied every-single-day up to high school. I tried my very best to be “cool” and “likeable”, but we didn’t have the money and when I did save up to get some “cool things”, the clothes looked weird on me. It looked insincere & wrong.  Luckily, time and age taught me to slowly accept myself and follow what I like. And the strangest thing was, the more I accepted myself, the less grief I got from my fellow bully students. In fact, almost the opposite happened. I got more respected, and more known once I had accepted myself. Funny thing that, self-acceptance.

After my GCSE’s, we were made homeless (for too many reasons) for 6 months. We lived with my nan for a few months, until her landlord knew she was over exceeding her limit of people in the house. And then we went from temporary accommodation to temporary accommodation, all whilst I was trying to study for my AS levels. We finally busted the system and got enough points to get a council house. Crazy point: being homeless doesn’t give you enough points on the system to be eligible for a council house. Or it didn’t in 2004/5. How fucked up is that?  I remember at the time being incredibly embarrassed about this. I didn’t tell a soul for months. But it just reinforced my love for Marxism and social justice. I was voted, by the whole of Doncaster by kids, to be a Youth Councillor for the Donx Youth.

I lasted about 8 months (and resigned) when I realised we didn’t really do that much except organize fun pizza parties.

I met Ed Miliband, he was the new MP the North Doncaster then. My friend & I had gone to complain about UCAS taking our money and then not processing our applications making our application late, and after the deadline – potentially affecting our uni offers (It didn’t). I stated it was because we’re working class, and the system was against us (Marxist in me). Of course, it was just a person not doing their job correctly, some clerical error. I can’t remember what he said he’d do. But I do wonder how many 16/17 year olds go to see their MP these days? You guys really should if you have an issue!

Ed asked, since he was new to the area, if I could organize for him to come to our school. I was pretty stoked with this & ended up doing a lil work with Ed. I had no idea back then that he could be the potential prime minister of 2016! (Hopefully, eh?!) – People, strangers, you meet will always surprise you. Everyone has a story.

I then was head-girl of the school in 6th form, and then also got excluded (for political reasons) as Head-Girl. I was also embarrassed about this. But as time has gone on, I realized just how kind of awesome it was. And it’s just another crazy story I get to tell. This taught me that the system, if it really wants to, will make sure you’re screwed over if you try and disrupt corrupted power.

As soon as I turned 15 my mom made me get a job. I didn’t even want one.  And earnt a measily £2.50 per hour of my life. I knew my time was worth more than watching kids throw plastic balls at each other and fish dirty nappies out of the ball-pool. But as I got older, I realised why my mom made me do it. 1.) to instil a sense of labour and work and pride in earning your own way. 2) to learn how to interact with people you may never interact with outside of that environment. I swapped the wacky warehouse for scraping chicken fat off trays at ASDA in the rotisserie for 2 years every weekend & some more, but for £8.50 an hour. Not too shabby for a 16/17/18 year old. I saved all my money from this job, & EMA and took my mom to NYC for her birthday. It’s one of the best trips I’ve ever had.

I went to study Fine Art at university, I’m not sure how I came to decide to go to university as I’m the first person & so far the only person who has gone to uni in my whole family. It’s something that was never discussed. I just came home one day & was like, oh I’ve applied to university! Like I’d just subscribed to a mailing list. I remember feeling very casual about it. I even thought that once I got to university, that I wouldn’t be smart enough, get home-sick and drop out.

But I was pretty wrong. I ended up bulking up my time an extra year & getting a BA & a MA.  I didn’t really return home for longer than 3 weeks for 4+ years.

My first uni year I applied to do Camp America. I ended up  being placed on an island in the middle of a beautiful, clear water lake surrounded by mountains and trees in New Hampshire. Once I arrived to USA, I stayed in an industrial part of New Jersey for a night, I had to catch another bus at 5:30am to take me to port authority bus station, NYC, where I had to catch a greyhound bus to Boston, switch to another bus in Boston to a Fullers Gas station in Meredith, NH. (a lonely, virtually empty – and closed gas station when I got there) Where a complete stranger from the camp was to meet me, alone. I felt like I was some tame, none-drug induced version of Jack Karoac’s On The Road at age 18/19. The age my friend just turned.

I had a decent enough time at the camp, but I felt like an outsider in a very -family orientated family camp, enriched in family tradition – where everyone had been brought up together. I counted the days down to when I could leave and be back in NYC. The strangest thing was, once I got to NYC for a whole week. I felt incredibly lonely. I hadn’t realized that I had accustomed myself to Sandy Island life and friends. That’s the thing about time, it punishes you later for wishing away your time.

I decided to do live my fantasy of “On The Road” I had about $500 in my pocket from my camp summer job and a flight home from LA. I was still in NYC. So I took a bus to DC (I didn’t have any sort of game plan, don’t ask how I was planning to get to LA?!) but ended up meeting some people around my age who were going cross country in  a van and camping. They asked if I wanted to join them so I decided to tag along. We did > DC > West Virgina and went Wild Rapid Boating > Virgina > Tennessee > Alabama > New Orleans — where my identity was stolen and I  was fruaded and had no $$ in my bank account. At this point I had about $150 to last me. I cried. I had no idea what to do. But  thing is, things work out. I was with good people. My mom wired me $80 >> we moved onto Texas, survived a mild hurricane >> Hitch-hiked over the border to Mexico, got really drunk and had to beg my way back into the USA >> New Mexico – saw some crazy bats > Went to Monument Valley and stayed on Native American land. I’ve never seen skies so clear. I slept outside on the ground in my sleeping bag instead of the tent – not even thinking about scorpions and crazy spiders and snakes that could have been hanging around – to sleep under the milkyway >> Went to Zion – hiked angels trek, and through rivers, went to Grand Canyon and we partied so hard we got asked to leave. >> We went to Vegas where I fake-ID’d my way into clubs, and bought nothing because well I had no money. But my new travel buddies help to pay for my liquor. We did a limo and ate at this super cool sushi place just off the strip. My first ever sushi experience> We drove to LA where we drank in a dive bar just near downtown LA, under a bridge. I felt like I was in some indie movie. This was the last night I saw my travel buddies. They were carrying on to San Francisco. I had my plane to catch.

That was the last time I saw them. I’ve seen a few of them since and we’re all still friends on Facebook. But this taught me to talk to strangers, take calculated risks, some times not having plans works out way better than having a rigid plan.

I once lived in this hip-apartment in Williamsburg one summer, that over looked the NYC skyline with a bunch of cool people doing internships for MTV, Saturday Night Live and The Onion – all on their daddy’s $$$ funds. I was funding my own dream. One of the dudes is an upcoming comedian on the West Coast and was in that Oscar winning Ben Affleck movie.

We were a mixed group of kids, with high energy, big dreams. Wide-Eyed in NYC. I ended up working for some of the most amazing and awesome people who changed my life in a then Chelsea Gallery. I remember how hot a NYC summer is… Coldplay Vida viva song was hot shit too. That album & Chris Brown Forever always takes me back.  I asked M, the gallery boss, what her story was, how did she and her husband open the gallery. She spoke about communist Poland, trips to Chicago that made her fall in love with NYC, a burning love for art & art-history, selling shoes, joining rich upperside ladies visiting studios and collections, borrowing money & opening their first gallery that’s still going strong 28/29 years later.

I remember every single piece of art in that summer show and if I even really think about it – how much each piece of art was being sold for. I’ve never been so upset about leaving a job (even though it was so short), some people, a place before that. But one of my distinctive memories is my last day there, i walked out of the gallery, turned left walked down to 9th ave, kind of holding tears back looking up at a clear blue hot sky. I walked to the first working pay-phone I could  find to call home to my mom to say how i was so happy that i had this amazing opportunity, but how sad I was to leave.  I thought that I’d probably never see the Postmasters crew again, I thought I’d get forgotten about because that’s how my life was/is… Important people just fleeting between moments.

Luckily, I get to go and see them every year and this makes my heart  so happy.

I left NYC and worked in a bookies (betting shop), trying to gain back the money I spent on my NYC wild adventure. I learnt how to bet, how to calculate all different bets like round robins and how to really bet on horses. That a favourite horse is statistically 33% to come in at a meeting, if you’re willing to chase your money around. I learnt how to follow soccer and do football bets. A great way to make money if it accumulates!  I saved enough money to take an amtrak train ride across USA the same summer with my good friend shivvers.

She made me a rule. I couldn’t talk about art the whole journey. I suspect that’s all I was bothered about back then. We stayed in the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas courtesy of her dad. Shivvers wouldn’t even let me open the mini-bar so we created our own from mini’s from the vegas giftshops. We had a cab driver who had some sort of turrets and cursed death on every driver he drove past. I learnt that it takes about 3 whole days to take a train from LA to Chicago, and that you should pack spare clothes and not just check them all in. There was a guy who was giving strangers Tattoos on the train (certainly not us). We sat on the train, making up our own before sunrise stories up for all the strangers. 2008 was a good year. I keep telling the kids on my course that 20 was one of the best years of my life.

I taught spanish kids english in Hastings for what I think was the Spanish Mafia. They paid me about £400 a week in fresh £50 notes, cash. I’d take it to the bank and every time panic that they might question me. They never did but I was sure they thought it was dodgy money.  These Spanish kids were clever, and spoke many languages. They learnt quick. I remember my favourite and most promising student failing her exam. She was the only one out of all 16 kids I taught, but I felt a sense of  responsibility & guilt for it. That I was the reason why she failed. Perhaps it was nerves. Perhaps it was my teaching. perhaps we were both complacent. I often wonder what they’re up to now and how their English is.

I went to Chicago and worked on social art projects, and at the university of Chicago. I saw proper Labour Activist movements, I worked with real poor communities. I wrote things for great art magazines. I lived with people who worked at the MCA and Hyde Park Contemporary Art Center. I saw Obama’s house, I saw the Home Alone house, I had my first ever real Thanksgiving, and lived through the coldest weather I have EVER EVER walked through (about -20). These experiences woke something up in me, I went back to standing true to what I loved doing. Drawing and comedy and truths.

I wanted nothing more than a 1st class degree in art, but I couldn’t figure what I was missing to push my grade in to the first category. When I decided to go back to what I love, not worrying too much about the marking criteria, I finally graduated at the last hurdle with that hard worked for first class degree. Another lesson to be learnt. Sometimes you need to stick to your guns and your integrity. Don’t just do something to please others or because you think it will sell. People can see if it’s not true. And remember not everything that glitters is gold.

I have since never had to use my degree. No one has ever asked to see it, except when I went back to study. i do remember my art lecturer sending me an email telling me what I got. my heart was practically in my mouth, I opened the email using Boltbus free slow wifi on a bus from NYC to Boston (On my way to work back at camp some 3 years later from my first experience). I was stoked. I just wanted to tell the world! But I was travelling alone, so I did the next best thing. I wrote an email to my mom, a few select friends, to M at Postmasters and to a past lecturer michael corris who I looked up to in many different ways.

The first year after graduating with an art degree can be pretty hard. They never really tell you that, you assume it will be hard but you’re hopeful that it won’t. I graduated in the thick of the new recession. people were loosing their jobs left, right and center. Companies were being acquired or forced into bankruptcy. I got lucky and worked part time in a bookstore with another group of amazing people. Nothing prepares you for the doubt that you feel about following what you love when you consistently get rejected. But with rejections come some lessons. Lessons turned into opportunities and more opportunities and more lessons to learn from.

Things started working out for me with making a basic living with art and drawing. And then I started feeling all funny. I experienced fatigue like I’ve never experienced in my life, I was having these drenching nightsweats, I couldn’t eat, I had nose bleeds constantly, I had pretty bad bone-pain. It felt like flu-like symptoms but without the flu. I went back to the USA where I ended up being told it looked like Lymphoma. Cancer. I was like, fuck.

My whole life view was flipped upside down. Things that I thought was important didn’t seem as important as they once did. The unimportant things felt way more important. Time felt heavy. I had to grasp, in that moment, that my life and everything I’ve known will eventually blink away in a matter of decades, if not years, if not hours, and I will cease to exist. Which is hard, because when you’re young – you feel kind of invincible. Like you can put things off, because there’s always tomorrow, next week, next year. But there’s isn’t always more time.

Things carried on as normal though. As if nothing had changed. Which can be the most annoying thing ever, because I guess I’m still hurting and I want change. I want more urgency in things. I learnt from being unwell to ask for help if I need it. We can’t do everything on our own.  I decided to learn from these experiences and use them to make a difference, so I went back to university and I am now studying Radiotherapy & Oncology.

I got hit by a car on my bike 2 weeks ago and broke & bruised my ribs. I flew over my handlebars and through air, I flipped upside down and landed on my neck.  And I realized that there’s far more probability in me dying from being hit by a car than most other things.

So, what does it feel like to be older?

From time to time something reminds you of the past. Things hurt that never hurt before. Music was definitely better 10 years ago than it is right now. You start to buy things because they wash well, and shoes because they’re much more comfortable to wear. Time goes way faster. Experiences mash together like a tie-die. Leaving only horrendous memories and those euphoria, bucket-listy, nice moments that help build who you are in this very moment. There’s nothing much else in between.

When you get older, things you thought were important when you were younger aren’t as important and those things you thought were unimportant become more urgent.

I’m left looking at my younger course friends, what life experiences are in store for their next 6/7 years on this life, and just how much different a 19 yr old mind & body feel like compared to a 26 yr old mind/body.

I ended  my friends birthday with this thought:  What if we celebrated our expected years left instead of our years already spent?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything is fragile.

Mid-20’s isn’t that old, but I feel like I’ve aged 2 lifetimes in the past 3 years. Maybe aging like that makes you look back a bit more. Just as you can see from my blog, my focuses in life have shifted; I’m not just looking for self-improvement in what I can change per-say, but  more to learn how to have grace in the parts of me that won’t budge, or have grace in things I can’t control right now.

One of the hardest parts of having to adapt to being a much slower, less  interesting and hardly a multi-tasker Smizz due to illness, is being observed 24/7. I used to invite people to watch my performance of trying to make it in the artworld— I’d post lots of things I’d make, constantly advertise myself – I kind of craved the attention— but I had no idea that it was going to open me up to some damaging mindsets. It now makes me feel like I need to be on top of my shit 24 hours a day, and I can’t do that anymore. Mainly because I’m either in bed (mostly), studying (secondly),  drawing, or out trying to live life (making up for 1 & 2).  I’ve been trying to learn the “It’s okay to say no to things sometimes. Because if you can’t say no, you can’t fully say yes”.

I’m no longer  living up to the persona I assigned to myself.  I feel like I’m not only letting everyone down who invested their time into me, but I’ve let it make me believe I’m letting myself down too.

So after feeling like I was going to die, and feeling really sorry for myself. After not having the mental /energy capacity to work on my own work, just enough to work on others (which has been/is amazing, and I needed it to survive- both mentally & financially). After seeing people who I admire and respect because of their vision & dignity, struggle in this world. After months and months and months of wishing I could be part of it,  I returned from this ordeal to resume work and rejoin the artworld, but  my membership had expired. I felt like the Artworld had forgotten about me. And everything I made and saw seemed like trivial bullshit—because quite a bit of it was/is (not all of it). Disingenious money grabs.  all speed was stupid.  Some things was just despicable, because it stole the dignity of everyone involved. We deserve better.

This is harsh criticism, and way super cynical, but it is how I felt at the time. These feelings have eased a lil bit, but I’ve always had a critical view on the Artworld because I’ve always been coming from a disadvantaged point anyways. And I’m a Marxist. However, noticing the bad also makes it easier to see and notice the good. Many of the things I love about the artworld are still here, and doing maybe better than some of the crappy parts of the Artworld.

 

My friends, Lesley Guy & Dale Holmes did this super cool show  at Bloc Projects in Sheffield about Pizza  a few weeks ago. It was so good I went home & ordered a Domineos.

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One of the best artists out there Gregory Sholette is trying to crowd-source this phenomenal project. http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/imaginary-archive-kyiv –  Which is an Imaginary Archive – a collection of fictional and real documents from a past whose future never arrived of Ukraine. It’s such a special and important exhibition, and so necessary at this time, so if you can find the time/$ to support it, that would be amazing!

 

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I really, really, really want to see William Powhida’s phenomenal “overculture” show at the most AMAZING gallery Postmasters NY, that just opened this week. Powhida’s practice is about helping us see how fucked up things are and to inspire us to strive to a world of justice, supporting (art) world which encourages criticality and  risks.  it’s basically the (art)world we all really want, yet too scared to bite the hand that feeds us.  I keep putting (art) like this, because the artworld is just a microscopism of the ‘real’ fucked up world. Every problem within the artworld is a problem within non-art-related society. Mainly because it’s the same shitty force that drives both: greed and value in the banal, and unethical under-valued/under-paid labour in order to make $$. When in actuality, there’s significant power in our dark-matter-ness if we realize it, together.

 

My focus  and definition on “progress” made it easy  for me to forget that you can turn around from traveling in a wrong direction, and return to the place where things last felt right. You can go back. Now I feel like I’m starting from the beginning with my personal art practice, and it felt like a failure. But I’m slowly accepting that sometimes going back is sometimes progress.

A few painful years has taught me 1 of the important lessons about life: you only become bulletproof when you refuse to disguise your injuries. The wounds are a gift: You learn how to accept help, and better yet, how to better give it. This in turn is another reason why I’m studying again, to emulate the best care & understanding I kind of know that the patient needs. Remember: if you need help. Ask for it. We can’t do it all alone. All the time.

Life is now somehow more precious and less. I’m now back to my humble beginnings: To share what you know.

So that’s part of what I’ve been quietly doing/working on with F/O/R/C/E, a collaboration with Paul Harrison and a few others – >  forcelectures.org

Don’t wait for a life disaster to be the thing that spurs you into action. Everything is fragile and you are more resilient than you think.

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The Living Cube by Till Könneker

The Living Cube by Till Könneker

I moved into a apartment studio without storage room. So i made a minimalistic cube design with a shelf for my vinyl collection, my TV, Clothes and Shoes. On the cube is a guest bed and inside the cube is a lot of storage space. Remo fromwww.holzlaborbern.ch transferred my sketches very beautifully. My friend and Photographer Rob Lewis made this great photos. Info via Behance

Dude. This would be a DREAM come true if i could have one of these in my tiny-ass-bedroom at home. I think THIS IS THE FUTURE. New Bucketlist Item – I WANT 2 MAKE MY OWN 1 OF THESE!

Book Launch!

I’m very pleased to say that my partner-in-crime (collaborator!) Abi Goodman & I’s SUBVERTIZE project (http://readvertise.wordpress.com/ – website needs to be updated hehe) work is featured in the amazing Ania Bas book which is created from a whole year’s awesome residency in Parsons Cross, Sheffield.

It’s a fantastic book – which you can get for FREE – on Saturday 2nd March at the Learning Center, PX, Sheffield. And not only that but Abi & I will be continuing Subvertise, with a different edge – making badges! Whilst our other artist friends offer some great events/projects/things too!

It promises to be an awesome day, so if you’re Sheffield based – DEFO NOT SOMETHING TO MISS. Come and celebrate a fantastic residency project that celebrates the people of Parsons Cross! 🙂 Making a difference.

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Faith & Doubt (Happy Chinese New Year, Y’all)

I like that Chinese New Year is celebrated in Feb. It gives us a reason and a chance to reflect on what we were hoping to do with the new year at the beginning of January.

Since I’ve been sick, I tell myself that i should never do all the bad things I do again. I should be a better person. I shouldn’t swear, or never drink another can of coke. I try to be the most clean-living person you could hope to meet. But life goes on. Things change, intentions get lost, you say another swear word & order a coke with your take-out food.

I had the MRI scan of my head on Thursday. I’m not a claustrophobic person, but it does feel really tight in there. It makes it almost hard to breathe. I was fine until they administered some contrast medium dye & I was instantly sick as a dog. I don’t think I’ve puked infront of people since I was 5. I spent the rest of the day feeling sorry for myself & embarrassed.  I had what they call a ‘mild’ reaction – something that only effects 1-5% of patients. What odds? Whilst in the machine, trying my best to stay completely still, breathe & not feel trapped or sick. I got thinking about Survivorship and our odds.

I tried for a while to live everyday  like it was my last. Whilst it was fun, and I did some wild things, kept saying “the drinks are on me!”, & i bought my mom ALOT of stuff for christmas, what I ended up with was a pretty shoddy bank balance of being waaaaayyy back in the negative over-draft. It wasn’t ideal.  When you live with this nagging small thought in the back of your mind that you might be dying, you feel like you deserve to spend the rest of your life on permanent vacation. And the reality is, you can’t. You must return to real life. Return to your family, friends, and colleagues.

But how do you slip back into the ordinary world, and your ordinary routine and being your ordinary self when you don’t feel like yourself? When you still feel gruelling poorly with probably only half of the energy you used to have?

I know quite a few people going through some tough things at the moment. All different kinds of tough. From family related, to money related. This is for you guys, to the people who are flagging, those whose energy is slowly decreasing in their personal fight. To those who feel like they’re loosing ground on something, or not responding, or struggling to face something. You’re amazing. What ever you’re going through, whatever it is – it can’t take away your spirituality, your intelligence, your friends or family. It can’t take away your love. Belief & Survivorship is everything.

 

How do you get through these crisis when you feel like you’re missing something, or feeling powerless? I, of course and unfortunately, don’t have the answer to that but I do know that you have to let others help you out, because it really does help. It’s others belief in me, and my want/need to believe in something better for myself and others that motivates me to keep on working. Since being sick, I’ve lost some of my independence  I moved back home to be looked after, I needed to be driven home from having needles stuck in my eyes at the hospital, I need my friends to casually bring up how I am doing so I can get off my chest whatever crazy things have been happening. Their support and belief has gone so far.

What you learn in survivorship is that you learn something new, a perspective almost. There’s this Chinese proverb – which says something like sometimes you need to burn down your house to be able to see the sky. It’s hard. And who knows if I will live, or if my friends problems will resolve themselves – but it gives us an excuse to have another chance at something. I want to work for something more than just myself.

I love riding my bike. One of my love/hate things about Sheffield is that it’s built on 7 hills. Big hills. One day when I was riding down a hill on the outskirts of the city, an unexpected bend came up in the road , a sharp unknowing dangerous turn turned into an open landscape, where trees lined up, and all these hills with the crazy chaotic awesome city behind me and peak ranges stretching to the horizon popped up. I realize now that this is my metaphor for how  life is.

The same bike, I’ve been hit by a car on twice. The second time it happened, i was stunned and found it difficult to get back up off my ass. That’s the point. We’re always getting knocked off our track. You don’t just overcome the odds once and that’s it… Things just keep, you know, happening.

A time to reflect, to gather your belief, get rid of any doubts is a good time. That’s why consciously  celebrating the New Year is a great idea. A month on from my last post about being better? I’ve began ALL of what I said I would do – with 2 exceptions that need to be solved. I’ve not been getting up early nor going to bed early. And I’ve been casually wasting time – like as if it wasn’t precious enough.

Well here it is, again, a reminder to myself. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME SMIZZ. WORK HARDER. BE NICER. BE BETTER. – How to do this? I think organzing my time better would be a big help.

Dear friends, you’re a survivor – be proud. Don’t let doubt cloud your vision or challenge. See you on the mountain side. 🙂 HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEARS Y’ALL!

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Trying To Be Mensch…

I probably should be watching the SuperBowl right now. But tonight, I’m tackling something different, something which seems necessary. Although you know me, I do love a bit of Beyonce!

In my new(ish) quest to try and live life, and live it with purpose with the weight of time baring judgement on me! I have decide that I need to learn the artform being Mensch. A mensch literally translates into “a person” in Yiddish, but figuratively it means something much deeper. A mensch is a person with whom you would be happy to befriend and associate with, because you feel genuine in a mensch’s presence, according to Wikipedia.

It has nothing to do with looks, with wealth, with success or with intellect (which is a relief for me really),  a Mensch is someone who simply makes others feel good when they are around them. I have quite a few friends that achieve this effortlessly, but not all of them would necessarily fall into the ‘Mensch’ category specifically. Not because they’re not good, or saint-like (quite the contrary – if they put up with the Smizz, then they gotta be close to being saints – lets be honest ha!). But more because they’re just socially fluet and happy people.

In theory, we are all decent people. Or that’s how we all start off at least. I’m thinking about “If I live, who do I intend to be?” and this is what I’ve come up with.

For most of my “making a living”, I listen to others. I listen to their ideas, problems, stories, and try and communicate that into visual bite-sizes. I listen to every-single-word they say. Now, you probably think in real life- we listen to every single word our friends and family say. We don’t. When I live-draw, I’m super tired and my head feels super clogged up after drawing for 8 hours of people’s talks. It literally is difficult to string a sentence together after 8 hours of scribing. That’s because i’ve listened to everything, and banked every single word, and it’s context. It made me realize that most of us, just listen to probably about 70% of what our closest friends say. And I don’t think that’s enough.

When I’m hurting, I just want to be heard. Listening is an artform we have seemed to have lost. But by listening, a mensch would make you feel worthy and cared for. A mensch would listen to what you need and what you feel. And I want to be that person. I’m not saying I don’t listen to you now. I do. I just want to be a better,  more empathetic, listener. I want to be a more compassionate listener. Because, now, I finally understand the necessity for someone to feel genuinely listened to.

Leo Rosten, the Yiddish maven and author of The Joys of Yiddishdefines mensch this way: *(http://blog.guykawasaki.com/)

Someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.

And these are some of the ways to become Mensch.

  1. Help without the expectation of return.
  2. Help many people.
  3. Do the right thing the right way.
  4. Pay back society.

 

They’re all things we know already. Almost religious, bible-like. I’m not religious. But I’m learning to believe. Believe in things, people, believe in other peoples things. Because, really – That’s all we have.to believe in ourselves and others.

So here I am. I’m like Smizz, here’s an excerise:  it’s the end of your life. What three things do you want people to remember you for?
1.
2.
3.

I’m gonna throw this question out on Twitter too.

Guys! I’m going to Live Draw the next USA Presidential Debate!

Yep. I watched Joe Bidden tear it up this week on the VP Debates. And I thought, there are moments that would be amazing if it was live-drawn. So funny and so visual!

So here I am, I am going to LIVE DRAW THE LAST US PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE. yikes! On top of this. I am ging to LIVE STREAM me doing it LIVE as the debate HAPPENS. Oh yeah. Yikes again! I can’t decide whether this will be a performance in itself.

It’s going to be challenging as I’ve never live-drawn a debate before. In fact I’ve never drawn people talk bullshit or be aggressive like The Republican party tends to be. So this is something that I’m going to have to think about how to represent without any of my personal political bias. I usually  draw talks of people talking about ideas, and amazing things that have happened ,or that they created and the problems and solutions to that adventure. So the debate drawing will be interesting to say the least!

I hope you will join me for this crazy task! And spread the word! Live streaming link and more information COMING SOON 😀

Thanks for reading yo!