Aim high, hammer lower

There is a way to hang pictures on your walls. There is nothing more depressing than a lonely picture, squint and so high you have to tip your head back to see it. Good ol’ Martha has some useful tips. If you are not sure, think in groups. df4970eb51549df229aacbc27f899a03

Pictures should also be hung at eye level; most often than not, picture are hung too high. Also remember that the frame and how it is framed is just about as important as the actual artwork or photograph. Play around with mats, use 2 or 3, oversized mats, different colours, etc. If you feel that you don’t have anything to frame, check out pinterest, google, etc. There are loads of images out there which one could easily print and frame. You can also frame maps, cards, sketches and more with very little expense. I beg you not to buy a cheap canvas print of a red flower. Make it personal to you. 91b0f2ddac1b6e8dc507f1dafa7d6e86 ada4cd0978ffd0a7246d339c8c2606c4d22c0ec00472a6610b82b342dff4237a2f346fc7d214ceb77ecb067a9f668a05

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Trade School Love

More and more common are skills sharetime banking and trade schools. Why is this? As much as they are all different, they are based on similar themes; the power of people and social capital.

Social Capital concerns the institutions that help us maintain and develop human capital in partnership with others; e.g. families, communities, businesses, trade unions, schools, and voluntary organisations.

Human Capital consists of people’s health, knowledge, skills and motivation. All these things are needed for productive work.

Enhancing human capital through education and training is central to a flourishing economy.

In Scotland, the government is aware of the financial difficulties and changing policies to encourage community assets.  This is evident in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill, the changes in the principles behind the health and social care integration and the move towards the 20:20 vision.  All of these bills and strategic vision reflect the move towards empowering people.  This movement also supports the increasingly popularity of social enterprises. The idea that there should be less of a gap from the highest paid earner to the lowest paid employee in a company, that businesses should have a social or environmental purpose and that the profits should be reinvested into the community they are serving is good. It is a move away from the rich profiting from the poor and hopefully one step further away from the feelings of despair, poverty and serious health inequalities.

Now, people need to answer the invitation. People need to realise their own potential, take healthy risks, try new things and become less dependant on other people giving them permission to be a certain way. Take ownership and pride in who you are and be open to new things. And I believe the likes of Trade School does it part towards harnessing the power of people through learning, teaching and sharing knowledge and skills which are individual. Classes are based on what the teacher has to offer so a wide variety is offered. No money exchanges hands and the barter items offer a real sense of gratitude on a human level.

Do it. Get involved, you’re not too busy and you have nothing to lose.IMG_0128

Brunch in Brooklyn, effortlessly lovely

I was in NYC last weekend and met up with some University friends. I haven’t been to the City for about 9 years and I have to say that Brooklyn was a highlight. Mostly because that is where my dear friends live and the weekend was filled with late night parties and a long Sunday brunch.

My friends are cool, of course, however, these guys are effortlessly cool and their house emulates that as well. Nothing looked or felt contrived or trendy, everything was meant to be and with ease. A bit like these two; hey have been together for 16 years and they effortlessly fit together.

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Pièce de résistance, Julie and David’s handmade table below.IMG_2499IMG_2486 IMG_2487 IMG_2491 IMG_2492 IMG_2488 IMG_2480 IMG_2479 IMG_2478 IMG_2477 IMG_2484 IMG_2485 IMG_2489 IMG_2490 IMG_2493 IMG_2494 IMG_2495 IMG_2496 IMG_2497 IMG_2498 IMG_2483 IMG_2476 IMG_2475

An ode to the refuge givers

tran·si·tion  n. Passage from one form, state, style, or place to another.

We all find ourselves in the midst of transition at some point in our lives. Between homes, cities, jobs, countries, certainty, love. We start somewhere and oftentimes without our permission, we are required to participate in this process of change from one thing to another.

I have found myself in transition many times.  21 rooms to call my own, six countries, countless friendships, a fair share of relationships, and a handful of jobs.  The moment I was making myself comfortable, I find myself here again in a kind of limbo – surrounded by both fear of scarcity and hope for abundance.   

While I value each opportunity to take a deep breath, acknowledge the journey, and take the first step – there is no doubt it’s a hard place to be in.  Constant pep talks in the shower, making plans, biting nails, and wondering how in the world I got here again. As Jeannette Winterson said, ‘what you risk reveals what you value’.  Unfortunately, the risk doesn’t always work out but it certainly does reveal.

But as my mom always says in times of trouble, remember the helpers. Observe those who – often quietly and not asked – offer assistance and care.  When I was between states, styles and places – there has always been a helper and often, their gift has been of space.  A refuge. A place to lick my wounds, find my feet, and take a strong step forward.

I’ve always been grateful for their offerings, but looking back – especially from my perch of limbo – I’m overwhelmed with gratitude.  I would like to make an ode to these refuge givers.  Thank you for opening your home, making space, clearing out cupboards, bringing home beers, and reminding me of both patience and tough love.

When I finally arrive somewhere, I look forward to the space I can offer to others, as you have offered me.

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Check out other writings from Jo at Bikeable Jo and EUSA Global. We are also happy to report that she has found a lovely home down by the sea.  If you are looking to sell a nice double bed and other bits of furniture, she’d love to have a look.

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Shared Spaces

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I am working from home today. I have found a combination of office base, home base and out and about work suits me best. When I first started my new job, I didn’t enjoy going into the office everyday. I couldn’t quite figure out why, besides the extra time of commuting, train fares and expensive lunches from the West End of town. What I realised over time, however, it was the lack of concentration that bothered me most. Even in a small office, with sometimes only 3 people in it, it was hugely distracting to be in the office. I found myself so much more productive at home, with no distractions and the ability to keep my head down. Listening to people on the telephone and the constant bleep of emails coming in on everyone’s computer was enough to reduce my attention span to seconds.

In the age of shared technology, shared work space, hot-desking, etc., how are we making sure we are using our time best? And why is the kitchen always so gross! Is it the majority or minority that just doesn’t pull their weight?

Some articles on shared space etiquette.

Strategic Workspace Etiquette– makes me laugh that this information is called strategic…you would think it is a no-brainer.

Prefer to think about how to make work space more fun and the other problems will lessen…maybe? Simple tricks to make your work space more fun. 

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At home it is the same and very different.  Living with people is what makes us human and what also determines how human we are. Being able to accept differences, embrace differences and share spaces with open hearts and perspectives can make sharing a gift. When I say sharing, I mean in the widest sense;  sharing the world we live with others to sharing the most intimate part of your own unique world.

Be a kind human, even when it is hard.

Good Security

I have felt, for the first time in Scotland, vulnerable in my own space. On Friday, someone came into my house and stole my bike. I chased after them but they got away. Then two days later, someone tried to steal my campervan. They broke the window, door handle and steering wheel.

This has led me to all kinds of thoughts. Revenge, wanting to separate myself from “other” kids of people, sadness and questioning why some people are compelled to take from others. I also realised that part of what I needed to do after my bike was taken was to take action. I instantly posted pictures of my bike on facebook sites and campaigned the local community to start communicating about crimes to one another and the police. This was good, this made me feel less helpless. This also made me feel divided.

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At the same time all of this was happening, I was attending a two-day conference, “Feeding the Five Million”. This conference was about people in Scotland eating well and how, as a nation, we are malnourished and obese at the same time. There is food poverty here, something that is almost unthinkable in a developed and prosperous country. I also feel privileged and guilty to have a regular organic fruit and veg delivery for me and my family.

So back to feeling vulnerable and different (and admitting somewhat morally superior) from those who take. Why people steal is much more complicated than the fact that they are bad. I understand that to some extent. What worries me more is the environment which we have created which supports the gap between the rich and the poor. Why is our criminal system so ineffective, our food system so debilitating, and our national health system designed to treat the sick and not nourish good health? What changes can we make now to lead us to a better future? Quite often I go back to thinking about community. Feeling part of a community is powerful and is the whole reason Jo & I started Trade School Edinburgh. Social capital, the power of people and the value of people.

Back to the not so great feelings of humanity…What is the flip side of wanting to punch them and take back my bike?  Leads me to something a read recently about how a tribe treats criminals (I can not verify this but nevertheless believe it is powerful).

How an African tribe deals with crimes.

DECEMBER 6, 2012
I was recently told of an African tribe that does the most beautiful thing.

When someone does something hurtful and wrong, they take the person to the center of town, and the entire tribe comes and surrounds him. For two days they’ll tell the man every good thing he has ever done. The tribe believes that every human being comes into the world as GOOD, each of us desiring safety, love, peace, happiness. But sometimes in the pursuit of those things people make mistakes. The community sees misdeeds as a cry for help. They band together for the sake of their fellow-man to hold him up, to reconnect him with his true Nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth from which he’d temporarily been disconnected: “I AM GOOD”.

So if we fed those who needed fed, listened to those who needed better health and reminded those who forgotten they were good- we would all be better. I wish we were there already but we are not. If I came face to face with the thief again, what would I say? How could I change the pattern and cycle of ill deeds? How can I support a better future by my actions and guidance of my children? And sometimes we benefit to go back to go forwards.

PHOTO OF POUNDMAKERPoundmaker, Plains Cree Chief
1842-1886 – his dying words

“It would be so much easier just to fold our hands and not make this fight…, to say, I, one man, can do nothing. I grow afraid only when I see people thinking and acting like this. We all know the story about the man who sat beside the trail too long, and then it grew over and he could never find his way again. We can never forget what has happened, but we cannot go back nor can we just sit beside the trail”.

Girl Next Door

Making a home is not straight forward. Sometimes, a collection of what you have worked for, what you have been given and what you have had to compromise with, make up what kind of home you inhabit. Relationships, break-ups, divorce, children, school, work, money, all play a factors on where we live. Sometimes we have to make the best of what we have and sometimes a place you have had for a long time just gets better and better.

This is the case for my lovely neighbour. She bought her seaside abode over a decade ago and this was a wise move.  They have made their home beautiful and a great family home. It is real and nothing feels staged or false. Their personalities come through. Enjoy the pics and thank you to the girl next door! IMG_1629 IMG_1630

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