Left & Right Sides
Today has been my first real day back at work after Christmas, and of course, as we all do, I have begun to fill my new, pristine-beige-paged diary with dates, events, appointments, deadlines: exciting things, new things, and lots to look forward to.
It has been the most incredible journey developing Hector & Haddock, my design business, since 2011: a dream come true really, one that has involved an inordinate amount of work, and dedication, but one which has been so fulfilling, and one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done in my life. It is a real privilege to be able to have an outlet for one’s creative musings and design led work, and I do truly love what I do. I have met some incredible people over the last few years, and have been involved in hugely exciting and rewarding projects and features. So much is already planned for 2015, events, markets, new lines and new products- I cannot WAIT to get cracking.
What I have loved about the past four years, is that I have learnt that you don’t have to be defined by what you studied for, or what you may have labeled yourself as (or indeed what others may label you as). You also have to just go for it: you have to ignore what the world says, and trust your gut, and go for it. The things that can open up before you will be amazing, if you can allow yourself to say yes to opportunities that come your way and ideas that you may have. You also don’t have to do ONE thing in life: you can do a lot of different things, or jobs, should you so wish. I wish someone had told me this when I was a girl at school: that you don’t have to go out in life and be one ‘thing”. You can be lots of different things: a notion I think the world is still perhaps getting to grips with, but something that I think is certainly starting to become more accepted.
2014 saw another line of work develop: my writing. I’ve written two design-led pieces & features for Pretty Nostalgic, which I loved: luckily, I got to style & shoot the images for these features too, which allowed me absolute creative freedom. A few months after writing these articles, my background in education and teaching led me to write for Smallish, a family magazine: I write Small Minds, their education & development column every month. Topics so far have included developing enquiring minds in children, nurturing empathic skills, the effect of studying a musical instrument, and, this month’s feature, Praise You Like I Should, focuses on the best way of praising children. I taught full time for 13 years, and still teach on a supply basis at secondary and primary schools: it fits in with my design work perfectly, and, as most teachers will agree, no anti-aging potion in the world is better than a classroom full of children, small or large ones: their view of life, the world, and the universe constantly inspires me, and their sense of humour keeps me smiling. Frustrating and hard work? Of course they are at times, but, for the most part, being involved with the development and education of children is a privilege. I’m a firm believer, and always have been, in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s words:
“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”
The education & development writing has allowed me to re-exercise the other part of my brain: my creative side often overrules the other, more academic side. Examining how and why we educate our children, and tackling issues around such concepts, has been a hugely invigorating and rewarding experience, and I can’t wait for each new month to come round when I can tackle a new subject.
Click here to go to Smallish Magazine.
The other fantastic project I’m lucky enough to be involved with is Mr Fox Magazine, the brainchild of editor and creative Lydia Gard, an online magazine focusing specifically on the aspects of raising and parenting boys. Now, if writing for Smallish exercises my more academic side of the old brain, writing my regular column The Reader allows my brain to delve into nostalgic literary loves, and then align these with my years of English teaching: I take a much-loved children’s book, develop a set of questions about the text based on Philosophy for Children, extract six key themes for each book, and then I devise activities for each of these themes, activities that children can do at home, and activities which encompass a variety of learning styles.
It is quite the most enjoyable task: I read wonderful books, and also get to write about important issues in the books, and develop activities for children to further their engagement with the texts. Books Mr Fox has focused on to date have been Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Dr Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go! and for Christmas, Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales. There are so many more to come, and I am so looking forward to re-reading some of my old favourites.
So, 2015 promises to be an exciting, invigorating year of developments in design, styling, writing, creating, crafting in the Hector & Haddock household: I hope your 2015 is one filled with challenges, developments, fun and enjoyment too!