A morning at Egaila Beach

I must have jinxed myself in my New Years resolution post where I set a goal to be super healthy and reduce my medication. I have had a really tough 6 weeks with my health and it overflows into other areas of the life. I’m tired. So very tired.

As I find my way back to good health, I am so thankful for the encouragement of friends. Jillian suggested that we head out to Egaila beach, here in Kuwait, for an early morning photography exploration walkabout and it was just what the doctor ordered.

Here is a little video clip and a few photos of the morning out. I hope it inspires you as much as it did me, and I encourage you to get out and explore your surroundings too. Sometimes all we need to get us up and on our feet again is a little love and encouragement and I hope this post can be that for you.

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Cheers.

la

A Love Culture – part 1

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A lifetime ago, when I worked full time (and then some) for an amazing architecture firm in DC, we talked a lot about mentorship. There was always the debate about what was better, organic mentorship or assigned mentors. I can see it both ways. I personally prefer to mentor, and be mentored by, people I’m drawn to. Alternatively, what happens to those that don’t really connect or are too shy to put themselves out there to be mentored?

For better or for worse, my firm chose the organic approach in mentoring, as with design in general. It became a sink or swim situation for people; a culture that you either fit in or you didn’t – and you simply moved on. In addition to mentorship, we used to discuss personality types. The thought process was if you understood where your bosses, peers, or subordinates were coming from, then you would know how to relate to them better. Again, this was a part of forming the firm’s culture.

Even though I’m no longer in the workforce, I still find these concepts relevant and important to cultivating healthy relationships. I also believe love languages play an important role in how we can learn truly love the people in our lives. They way they prefer to be (as opposed to the way we prefer).

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My mentor, Anita and I talk about this a lot. She shared with me that their family took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test to identify each individual’s personality types and the results helped refine how they relate as a family. It was a revelation! Using what we know about my-ENFP-self, my ESTP husband, and our boys, we can learn to adjust what we do (and how we might prefer to do it!) to create an environment where they thrive and develop into who they are meant to be.

Just like in the firm setting these tools can help us form the culture of our families. From the things we prioritize and value to how we relate to each other. Each child is different and often what works for one does not work for the other, but hey they are our kids, we don’t want them to leave our firm…

er family, due to the culture!

Let’s make the decision to mentor and motivate our kids, love them they way the receive it best, and relate to their specific personalities. Then we can be a generation of families that raise each other up, honor our differences, and spread love.

Here’s to developing a culture of love!

kdg

Check out these resources for more:

Personality: Myers Briggs  | Quick MBTI test | GEMS  

Love Languages: 5 Love Languages | For Children: Love Language

Stay tuned for PART 2 on creating your own family culture in the coming weeks!

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Love is in the air.

Ahh February, the month of love. Haters will say that every month should be about love and love should be celebrated every day. While this is supposedly true, commercialism has given ‘Love’ the month of February. I hope that doesn’t mean it gets eleven months off!

If you are curious to read up more on the origins of Saint Valentines day, click here.

Katie and I are excited to share with you our ’14 shots of Love’ photo challenge. Whether you celebrate Valentines day or not, we do all celebrate love.

William Shakespeare is my favourite poets of all time. Much of this has to do with the fact that my childhood home literally sat in the middle of Shakespeare street in Brakpan, Johannesburg. We went on to study him in school and by this point I was convinced I knew him better than anyone. My favourite writings from him came from his Sonnets. I want to share one of my favourites with you today to inspire you to embrace, appreciate, and celebrate love this February (and beyond).

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

-William Shakespeare

I hope you enjoy this photo challenge and I can’t wait to see what wonderful love-filled imagery floods our social media sites. If you play along, please tag your photo with #IACWLOVE2018.

Valentine Photo List 2018

Much Love,

la

Marbles of Kindness

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A few posts ago I mentioned how lucky we are to learn something from the people that we meet along this path of life. This morning I met Ruth, she is American and her family have been in Kuwait for 16 years. Our conversations with her were wonderful and she was an abundant source of experience and encouragement. The best advice I got this year by far, (yes I know it’s still only January) came from her.

If you have children who struggle with telling on each other, especially when you have more than 2 small ones in the house, (there’s extra chaos and so many more stories to tell mom about), buy a big glass jar. Buy enough marbles to fill this jar. Every time one of the kids tells on a sibling for doing something good or kind, they get to put a marble in the jar. When the jar is filled, the family does something special, like go out bowling or go to the movies.

When I heard this tip, I had one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments, as it seems so simple, I imagine it to be quite effective. I will most certainly be trying this in my home and I will report back on how it goes. We may open it up to more than just acts of kindness on those desperate days like, “Fine! If you finish your pasta you can put a marble in the jar”. Yup, I can see that happening, but I will do my best to try stick to the plan.

I would encourage you to try it as well and I’d love to know how you find it and if/how it works for your household. In addition, if you have any extra tips to encourage kindness between siblings and less tattle-tailing, I’d love to hear them, please post in the comments below.

Cheers to global parenting, it takes a village after all.

la

Inspiring Creative: Marissa Moss

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Nurturing creativity in our children is one of the most important things we can do for them. Last week, Lindy-Ann shared an inspiring TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson. He eloquently and wittily shared that our public education system, around the world, is broken when it comes to this crucial skill set. For this reason, I am so overwhelmingly thankful that we are able to send our son to the American International School here in Israel, where he is given opportunities to flourish creatively and encouraged to embrace how his brain thinks. The most recent celebration of creativity was a week of workshops hosted by children’s author and illustrator Marissa Moss.

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Marissa spent the week holding writing and illustration workshops for each grade. Through her stories and her own personal experiences she encouraged each child to embrace their unique story because, as she puts it, “everyone’s life is interesting.” Marissa also taught them the importance of making mistakes.

On Friday, at our monthly Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting, she spoke with us parents about some of the activities they did and how important it is to help our kids hone their visual storytelling skills. She even answered questions on how to encourage our budding creatives in ways that would challenge them lovingly and encourage with sincerity, not false praise. She also encouraged us, as parents and teachers, to help the children harness their innate critical reading and thinking skills, because “kids won’t read bad books; if it’s not good, they’ll tell you.” This critical reading by her own sons is how Marissa knew that children would enjoy her books. She even told us that her sons are her best and most brutal editors.

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There are two truths that Marissa hoped to leave with our kids that I think hold true for everyone, no matter what age you are.

Truth #1 Revision is your friend

In working with the second grade classes, Marissa had them work on crafting and revising a great opening sentence. As you can imagine most kids struggled with the fact that their sentence was not perfect the first time and did not want to revise it. In order to help them understand that revision is a good thing she showed them one of her sketches of a first draft – all lines and scribbles, and then the final published revision. Reworking and revising can actually be fun and exciting as you get closer and closer to that “A-Ha!” moment and the children were able to learn and experience that.

I asked my second grader about his sentence, and he exasperatedly told me he had to do it twice, but in the end it was a great hook: Peter has a big secret.  Did I mention Peter is a piece of toast. I’m intrigued, aren’t you?

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Truth #2 Mistakes are opportunities

I first heard this exact truth from my incredibly talented artist friend Joy, as I struggled to perfect a craft we were doing for fun at a girls’ night. Silly Katie.

Back when Marissa was an art teacher she saw this struggle in her own students and she was inspired to use one of their true stories to help other children see the beauty of making mistakes. She wrote and illustrated Regina’s Big Mistake and has helped other children be bold and just get something down on paper. It is the ideal book for the little perfectionist in your life.

Funnily enough, even when signing the books I purchased, she misspelled my son’s name and beside it she wrote “sorry, I make mistakes all the time.” It’s truly a great life lesson for everyone, not just creatives.

“Let yourself explore, take risks, and make mistakes. You never know where a mistake will lead you.” -Marissa Moss

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After hearing Marissa Moss and Sir Ken Robinson words I’m impassioned to encourage my boys and the other children in my sphere of influence to take those risks and be creative. I want them to be a part of this creative revolution we are experiencing and help shift the tide.

Learn more about Marissa and her books here. I also recommend the After School Monster, which I bought for my 4 year old. It’s a great story of being brave and conquering your own monsters.

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A NOTE OF THANKS

Marissa, thank you for your time and your heart for our children. I know all you taught them will impact how they see their {art}work going forward. Hoping the all best for you and your new authors!

Cheers,

kdg

Do schools kill creativity?

When I was in high school, I was being lovingly guided by two parents who both wanted what was best for me. My dad decided that computers were the future and that I needed to learn computer programming, become some IT guru and end up with heaps of money and a thriving career. My mom saw that my interests and strengths lay in the arts so in support of me pursuing my dream, my dad had me take computers in my final year as a backup.

Art won.

The art school I attended after grade 12 brought me to a great career that I loved and enabled me to earn a good living. Luckily for me it worked out. With my own children entering school I keep a close eye on their own developing interests and strengths and do my best to let them grow into the wonderful humans that they have been designed to be, and not put them in a bubble that I have crafted for them from my imagination. When a dear friend sent me this video, I gave it a standing ovation. There’s a reason this is the most viewed TED talk to date.

Cheers to the creatives getting the same respect as scientists.

la

11 years in the desert

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It was 11 years ago today that I landed in this desert land. It has been an absolute whirlwind of an experience. It has been the best and the hardest season of my life. I came here at the tender age of 25 years. I left my family, friends and my little dog Gizmo to take on, what I thought at the time to be, a two year adventure in the Middle East. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be sitting here 11 years later writing this post, on a blog that I started with my dear American friend who now lives in Tel Aviv. Wow, what a mouth full. I thought it would be fun to share some of my very first Kuwait memories with you, so here goes:

This was my first apartment –

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I will never forget the day that I came home from Ikea (my first experience with Ikea at that) and I started to build my very basic essential furniture. I was very proudly using my pink screwdriver that I had bought earlier from the local supermarket when I reached a point in assembling my wardrobe where I need to “get a friend to hold one side while you bla bla bla the other”. I remember the sense of helplessness that I felt when I fell to the floor in tears thinking “well, that would be great if only I had one!”

It’s tough adulting I tell you!

Those who know me will also know that I’m a little shy in nature. The fact that I jumped from my comfort zone of home and landed in this strange land to begin with is nothing short of a miraculous leap of Faith. But jump I did. I slowly grew braver and through the advertising agency I was working for at the time and a few good flat mates, I started to make some friends, got out and did things I that would ultimately change the very core of my being. I grew up, FAST!

My first trip out to the quad bikes in the desert –

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During my time here I lost my mom and more recently my grandfather, and I had to shelve my preconceived ideas of what the ‘right’ career path was for me. I got married, and had three very cool little people. And since then I have been able to reinvent myself, reignite my love for art and art history.  I explored my photography interests and became accredited through the NYIP (New York Institute of Photography) in the United States. I’m now also studying Interior Design. I have been Blessed with abundant travel opportunities. When I was working, I got to film TV commercials in Romania, Beirut, Dubai, Barcelona and Kuwait. I got to watch the Grand Prix in Bahrain. I went to Cannes, France for the Cannes Advertising Awards. I went to romantic Paris, and loved travelling the Rome and Florence with my better half.  I got diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (Google it – better yet, don’t Google it. Scary). I went vegan. We had our first family holiday to Portugal, Lisbon and Madeira. I learnt a new Language. I found God.

Top 11 things I have learned in these 11 year. 

1 – Life is short.

2 – If you can’t find the joy in life, BE the joy in life.

3 – Practise tolerance, the world is made up of so many different cultures and beliefs.

4 – If you’re not happy, make a change. If you stay in your unhappiness you will only bring people down with you.

5 – Tell people you love, that you love them. You never know when will be the last time you speak to them.

6 – If you’re toying with the idea of going from 2 kids to 3, go for 3.

7 – The food that you put inside your body REALLY does effect the way you feel.

8 – Listen to your body. It speaks to you.

9 – Love those who are difficult to love, that is when you can really make a difference.

10 – Write letters.

11 – Pray – there will always be an answer. It may not always be the answer you’re looking for, but there will be one nonetheless.

I have no idea where the next 11 years will take me. I may very well still be here and will report back then with another recap.

I have met so many very interesting people here, and from each person I have met, I have taken something, and learned something new about myself in the process. I have also learned to look back at my beloved home country with fresh perspective and new appreciation.

Cheers

la

Note: These photo were taken 11yrs ago on a very basic camera.

Advent-ures in 2017

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When I was reflecting on what to write about this last Tuesday of 2017, I could hardly believe the year has flown by so fast! My dad used to tell me that time would fly as we got older and I never believed him. But I definitely do now.

This past year I focused on being more joy-filled and joyful {#morejoy}, as well as being intentional with “all the things.” It was a growing experience for sure, as I pushed myself to focus on the little things that bring joy, surrounded myself with positivity, and tried to find balance in my planner. Time management is still a struggle for me. However, most of the time I made it through the crushing deadlines and early morning design sessions, in the midst of and in-between parenting and adulting, with a joyful heart and a cup of coffee. Let’s just say being intentional will still be a goal in 2018.

Although I may not have mastered time management this year, I have been intentional in other areas, especially in my faith walk. I host a weekly Bible study and, together with some amazing women, we dove deep and really basked in the richness of living in the Holy Land. My co-leaders and I knew we wanted to help our ladies establish their hearts during the Christmas season with an Advent study, but we couldn’t find one that fit our needs as a group. I did, however, find one for my family. Two things resulted from our collective searching. First, I committed my family to doing the She/He/Kid Reads Truth 2017 Advent study. Second, we co-leaders decided to create our own tailored Advent study.

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If you are not familiar with the She Reads Truth community, you should definitely check them out! Their goal is to simply bring people to the Bible daily and everything they do is designed intentionally and beautifully. I highly recommend their Open Your Bible study and the SRT Bible, both have encouraged and taught me so much about the Bible and how to read it.

As you can imagine, I was thrilled to see their Advent Study on Instagram and to find that they had something for the whole family! The materials truly helped us to focus and find peace at a time that has been especially busy and chaotic for us. I just love that our mealtimes were filled with discussions about the true reason for the season!

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A true Advent-ture 

Back to our group Advent conundrum:  In all honesty, the advent-ure of creating a study was an amazing experience! We specifically needed a study that would connect the overall narrative of the Bible from Eden to the manager in a concise, but meaningful, 3 weeks. At some point in 2018 I will share more about my mentor and co-leader, Anita, but for now I will tell you that the Lord has called her to write – and write she did for us. She compiled the text, scriptures, and questions while I designed the first draft layout of the book and the accompanying Advent ornaments. It was a true labor of love for us and we were blessed by the response we received from our group.

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Needless to say, it has been a busy, but abundantly blessed season of anticipation for sure! I hope as you are coming down from the highs of Christmas and preparing for 2018 that you may find moments of peace and reflection.

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Join us again in 2018 for more tutorials, inspiration, adventures, and travel.  We invite you to let us know how we can encourage you and walk through this colourful world with you!

Cheers,

kdg

 

A building worth touring – The Arab Fund

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Ahhhh, my creative soul has been filled again. I have recently felt myself running low on creative juices, but yesterday morning I had the opportunity to visit The Arab organisations Headquarters Building, also known as the Arab Fund Building, in Shuwaik.

Ok, so I agree the name needs a little work, but the building is truly quite remarkable. A piece of art. An administration building created by craftsman, designers, and materials from the likes of Italy, Morocco, Syria, and yes, even South African Yellow Wood can be found within it’s walls.

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According to their website,

The Arab Organizations Headquarters Building, situated outside Kuwait City in Shuwaik, blends modern architectural techniques with traditional artisan crafts. Completed in 1994, it is home to four major Arab organizations: the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development, OAPEC (Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries), the Inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation and the Arab Maritime Petroleum Transport Company.”

And I suppose big fancy meetings do take place there with really important people but…

…according to me,

“It’s an exquisite collection of art, antiques, and ideas – collected and bartered for – for the viewing pleasure of anyone willing to appreciate it.”

And appreciate it we did.

Our tour started with a sense of contrast. We were 3 housewives, with quite an artistic flare (think ‘almost cool’ Gypsies) combined with 3 middle aged men in black suits who probably held important titles and regularly used terms like; “not withstanding” and “including, but not limited to”.

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Anyway, it was a treat for us all.

This building took 2 years to design and only 3.5 years to build. The attention to detail is unrivalled. It’s so very beautiful.

An absolute treasure of a find for a photographer like me, who has a passion for history and culture.

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May these images from today inspire you as much capturing them did me. In this world filled with contrasts, details, and distractions, sometimes to find the most beautiful side of something, all we need to do is look up.

Cheers

la

Side Note: Please make the effort to visit the website, it is filled with many interesting behind the scenes imagery and extra details of each piece of art within the building itself. To book your tour, email adnang@earthlink.net.