A life full of color


Some lifetimes ago, a sixteen year old version of me failed to get the place in art school that she’d pinned all her early hopes to.

Dismissed by the grown ups who’d repeatedly explained: ‘being an artist isn’t realistic’ led to years floating adrift from my calling.

(They were wrong. And this isn’t what I do, I’ve come to realise, it’s what I am)

A few years ago, rattled by some mid-life reminders of mortality, I finally fulfilled my life long ambition. But being an art student was as far as I’d thought this plan through. After spinning around in a self made feedback loop of regret for two decades, while I loved my time at college, I’d completely lost sight of the purpose.

My confusion was confounded when my course was cancelled after the foundation year. Before I’d time to consider my options my personal life fell apart, as a few weeks later my mum died.

Now I was free falling and had to find something to grasp onto, something simple I could rely on to slow the descent.  

I needed a project to latch my focus to. I needed a subject I could immerse myself in. It had to be something creative, it had to be something colourful.

It just had to be color.

 

 

I hadn’t the bandwidth for anything more complex. I needed colors, but one at a time. No other rules. Just me, a book, and whatever paints and pens and things I had to hand. In just one color. I began with the color I felt most drawn to at the time, which was red-violet, magenta. It was soothing. It was all I had space for.

I took that year, one color at a time, one month at a time.

 

 

After another family bereavement a couple of months into my year long color project, I knew I needed some accountability, some way to keep this project afloat. That’s when I started this blog.

By the end of the year I’d created a this whole book full of color.

 

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It’s still with me in my studio as a resource for inspiration – (that’s something I didn’t foresee when I began this project.)

(You can see it page by page here)

12 in 12 from mixy gecko on Vimeo.

 

 

As I showed my book of 12 colors to more of my artist friends, the idea of revisiting a year full of color began to develop. And they wanted in on it too.

So in 2017 I invented TWELVTY,  a way of sharing the adventure around the color wheel with other creatives as an online program.

It’s been an astonishing journey, (which isn’t over yet) and I’ve learned so much (more on that in another post).

I didn’t expect to run Twelvty as a program with others again after this year – it’s been all consuming and I had other plans for 2018 – but Twelvty has plans for me too, it would appear. 

So here we are, in preparation for:

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We begin the journey in the new year, but registration is open from November.

I think it speaks for itself that some of this year’s Twelveteers have already joined up for a second trip around the color wheel in 2018!

There are a limited number of discounted places available to folks on my mailing list. If you aren’t signed up already – what the hey?!! – scoot down to the end of this post to add your email before they’re all swooped up!

100 lessons from 100 drawings


“Life imitates art” but art imitates life too.

(I read that as ‘art irritates life’ just now. Also true) 

 

100 daily drawings taught me a lot more about drawing, more than I realised I didn’t know. Drawing techniques, practicalities, possibilities, and all that comes along with steady daily practice.

But there seemed to be bigger lessons showing up as well.

These were observations I heard over and over again in my thoughts, page after page. Of course many of these revelations aren’t really about drawing. They are about everything.

In no particular order, these are the top 100 realisations that accompanied this project.

  1. It’s been an exercise in letting go of expectations, of ideal outcomes, and the accompanying paralysis of progress.
  2. I’m learning to let go of ‘finished looking’  – being finished – being a ‘piece of art’ (whatever that might be).
  3. Letting go of what other folks think, a neediness for approval or validation.
  4. Letting go of the rules. This is my book: my rules. Rule 1: there are no rules.
  5. ‘Drawing every day’ isn’t even a rule.
  6. Drawing for 100 days doesn’t mean 100 consecutive days.  Don’t make up excuses to stop. Pick up and start again. Keep doing this. Just get to 100. 
  7. The photo is only a guide, a suggestion, a jumping off point. This isn’t an exercise in copying. A drawing can’t be wrong.
  8. It doesn’t have to have the same colors, same shape, same perspective.
  9. It doesn’t have to be the same every day – the same time, the same ‘style’, the same anything. Just another day, another page, another drawing. Keep exploring the other-ness
  10. Some days have a flow to them – some days have an awkwardness – some days are fuelled by imagination – some days are an uphill slog.
  11. Some are bits of all of these and flit and flicker between.
  12. Some pages have words – information – data – facts – important-to-remembers.
  13. Some page’s words and rememberings are from another day and don’t make sense any more. And that’s okay.
  14. Some days are unfinished. They will stay that way. I don’t have to go back. (there is no real ‘finished’).
  15. Some days get lost and forgotten.
  16. Some days are just made for catch ups.
  17. Some catch ups are liberating – rejuvenating – expansive – explosions of imagination.
  18. Some catch ups are uncomfortable and riddled with angst.
  19. Some catch ups are a cold hard slog and bring up all the WHY???s


  20. Sometimes it feels like a trajectory that cannot fail.
  21. Sometimes it feels like losing footing – in slow motion – in the dark.
  22. Sometimes it feels like treading water – waiting – waiting – waiting….
  23. Sometimes it feels like falling – sinking – drowning.
  24. Some drawings take on their own life with unseen meaning.
  25. Some drawings take on their own life with an energy that didn’t come from me.
  26. Some drawings have their own momentum – I watch them take shape with the curiosity of an outside observer.
  27. Some drawings just don’t care. I could learn the most from these.
  28. Some drawings have to be inched out slowly.
  29. Some drawings surprise me by the reactions they evoke from others.
  30. Some drawings surprise me by the feelings they evoke in me.
  31. Some drawings overwhelm, some disappoint, some pass unjudged.
  32. Some drawings have stories that let out secrets.
  33. Some drawings are stories that hide more than they reveal.
  34. Some stories are universal, everyone recognises a little bit of it in themselves.
  35. Some stories are so deep they are unfathomable.

  36. Some projects are way larger than the sum of their parts. This is certainly one of them.
  37. Some projects are a stepping stone to a place I never knew existed before I started.
  38. Some projects are meant to be finite. Done is done.
  39. Some projects are meant to be repeated – reiterated – revisited.
  40. Some projects are not supposed to be finished. They hang….
  41. Some projects are so deeply enmeshed in a life, we are one and the same.
  42. Some projects are fun to watch – to join – to play along.
  43. Some projects never escape the confines of my mind, jammed up in the mechanism of the mental rotadex.
  44. Sometimes the purpose will shift and change midway through. Over and over. The act of shifting becomes the purpose.
  45. Sometimes the purpose won’t show itself until long after it’s over.
  46. Sometimes the purpose is only clear to others.
  47. Sometimes the purpose is only clear to me – and that’s all that matters.
  48. Sometimes the purpose is unique to everyone who witnesses it.
  49. Sometimes the purpose is unique to the season – or to the day.
  50. Sometimes the way it seems, is the way it is. Sometimes it’s not been close.
  51. Sometimes the way it seems is only a clue. It’s a seed, or a plan, or part of a bigger pattern.
  52. The more I look for patterns the more I see them.
  53. Patterns can be visual, patterns can be habitual, patterns repeat.
  54. Patterns within patterns fascinate me most.
  55. It’s ok to get stuck in one color for a while, the other colors will wait.
  56. It’s ok to use all the colors – or none of them – or not care which.
  57. It’ll never be finished, so keep moving forwards. 
  58. It’ll never be perfect, don’t ask it to be.
  59. This might not answer the questions you thought it would.
  60. This might not answer any questions. It might lead to more questions…
  61. This might have no meaning at all – right now – or ever. And that’s okay too.
  62. If a meaning wants to show itself to you, it will find a way.
  63. Whatever is underneath, showing through, is part of what is now. Let all the elements become parts of the whole. Allow the merge.
  64. Describe the drawing in words –  this is where the metaphors hide.
  65. Describe the drawing out loud,  it’s subtly different.
  66. Shift the emphasis foreground to background, positive to negative space. Dance in between them.
  67. Choose which details to use, which details to ignore, and which to make up.
  68. Choose the image from within the image.
  69. Find the art inside the photo.

  70. Notice how some images repeat, return and revisit.
  71. Notice how some characters keep showing up.
  72. Notice how some character’s expressions are the same: the face that asks: you still trying to draw me?
  73. Notice how color schemes repeat.
  74. Notice the themes of facing pages match unconsciously.
  75. Notice how time concertinas in and out when you count the days.
  76. Notice how the seemingly simple is really complex. And how the complex can be divided into manageable size bites.
  77. How complexity presents a challenge, then the victory, the good enough level of mastery.
  78. Balancing good enough against keep trying.
  79. Knowing when to stop, knowing when to keep going.
  80. How it’s all a freaking metaphor (and that’s all of these too).
  81. The bravery to pursue a doomed drawing, to trust it to turn around and turn out good, or just okay.
  82. The bravery to post a picture I didn’t like, and the ones I did.
  83. The bravery of sending these out into the wilds of the internet. It can be cold out there.
  84. The revelation that others might like what I didn’t, see a beauty I can’t.
  85. The revelation of turning the page, not looking back for a few weeks. How what’s on the page ‘gets better’ when it’s left to rest.
  86. The revelation of drawings I hated, that hold no strong feelings now. And drawings I loved.


  87. How much a background wash or splot of paint makes adds to a drawing.
  88. How much a patch of color shifts a mood.
  89. How much the character of the drawing is from the colors.
  90. How much a drawing style develops over time, but can’t be seen from such close quarters or day to day.
  91. How much a drawing style develops through simple repetition.
  92. How much simple repetition is the key to it all. How much simple repetition is the key to it all. How much simple repetition is the key to it all. 😉
  93. How ideas will hide and evade when called for, then descend en masse when it’s too late (and how it’s never really too late).
  94. How some ways of making are so ingrained I don’t know there are other ways.
  95. How chasing the other ways is part of the learning.
  96. How finding other ways leads to new kinds of learning.
  97. There are always going to be new ways of learning!
  98. The journey is a spiral. The path isn’t re-trodden, next loop around looks familiar, but the view has altered.
  99. The journey keeps going. Keeps going.
  100. The mixed emotions at the end of a project, the end of an adventure, the intangible closure.

 


Catch more of my musing and artings in my monthly-ish newsletter delivered right to your inbox: clickety-hop aboard my email list right here.

(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)

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Your email is utterly safe to me. It will be wrapped up snug and nestled with a hot water bottle & a kitten until the spring arrives.   

sticky things


The backdrop to my 2017 is the year long art project, TWELVTY, where each month has its own color. An unexpected side benefit to this is I’ve got this clear delineation in my time. Each month is visibly new. A month is a manageable sized lump of time, and I’m relishing month-sized projects this year.

It all began in February.

On the evening of January 31st, full of pending-new-month-enthusiasm, I happened to be listening to an episode of  The Slow Home Podcast talking about #minsgame – the minimalist’s month long decluttering challenge.

Now, I’m not seeking minimalism, but the place I want to be is in that direction from here…

Hmmmmm…. 

This is the way it works:

Day 1 – get rid/recycle/donate/throw away one item of clutter.
Day 2 – two items,
Day 3 – three items – you get the idea…. for a month.

February, having 28 days, equates to 406 things. Just 406 things. No problem…

Did I stick to it all month?

No. No, I didn’t.

The first few days were hard. Because singling out just one/two/three things means resisting gathering up more than today’s allotted number… but that’s why it’s called a challenge, right? Through week one, as I made my coffee in the morning, I’d find the thing/s to put in the donations box. Odd things that don’t get used… bits and bobs. Easy. Fun. Yay!

By the end of week one there was a box of assorted junk/treasure to donate: 28 things.  

 

In week two I was distracted by the fact that in week 3 I was going away for few days, which meant either before or after my trip I’d have to collect up an extra 63 things in order to keep up.

Suddenly this felt weightier than the actual living amid clutter.

I’m really averse to rules and structure. And precise counting.

My inner adolescent was stomping about in my head ‘I don’t need to be told how to get my shit together…’  (and my inner adult  was surveying the clutter and shaking her head.)

But y’know what? – that first voice was right. 

All I’d needed was the nudge into action. To convince myself it was a game. By mid-week two I’d built up so much momentum I couldn’t limit myself (or be bothered to keep count), so I went with the flow and box after box of stuff has found its way out of my house.

recyclemenowBags and bags of ‘just in case’ material for projects that haven’t manifested, boxes of ‘holy cow that’s a bargain I’d be crazy not to’ excess quantities of *way more than I could ever use* plus all those things that were someone else’s sentimental memories. Memories of people long gone.

I sailed past the 406-thing-mark and didn’t look back.

As are the ripples. I’ve also deleted swathes of old emails. Documented trivia from over a decade ago: gone. Conversations long dead: gone. I’ve unsubscribed  and I’ve unbookmarked, and with every unchecked box and each ‘Are you sure?’ — YES, there’s a bit more brightness.

The relief is tangible.  I actually felt lighter.

 

But what I came to discover next was the sorting and choosing, the bagging and boxing, the discriminating between hasty enthusiasm I might later regret and misplaced sentimentalism, all that choosing and deciding, that wasn’t the final act.

My car contained the bags of stuff to donate, but there wasn’t a parking spot close enough to the charity shop. For longer than I expected.

The bags of textiles sat next to the door awaiting their final journey to the recycling centre for longer than I planned.

It’s like there’s an energy around these things, having a sticky quality to them.  Their energy is so entangled with my own, the process became multi-layered, and it’s not over yet. I’ve cleared out round one and now as I survey my surroundings it’s with a different eye.

There’s a new hierarchy and the filters are finer.

I am a work in progress.

And I’m learning more about being me all the while.


If you’re tempted to haul yourself from the mire of accumulated years of clutter, I can really recommend Rachel, the Messy Minimalist, on Youtube. She’s fab. My mantra in moments of doubt was: If Rachel can do this, so can I.  I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s book, but I’ve got the gist of it and used some of her principles too. There are countless Youtubes on folks Konmari-ing their homes and lives too.

Good luck! X

 

who is that?


The time is here: I really want to consolidate some of the mishmash of identities I’ve got here on the internets. It’s confusing for me now, so I forget how disconbobulating it must be for others…

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Some variations of ‘Me’

Y’see, I set this blog up all those years ago as a bit of a whim. I wanted to have a record of what I was doing and making and thinking at the time and it seemed like the internets was a safe place to put it so it didn’t all get eaten alive by yet another computer. That’s all.

“Ephemeral Gecko” was just a couple of words I liked.  I liked the way they sounded together.

I didn’t figure on anyone else noticing. I googled the phrase and when nothing untoward came up in the results, I made the choice and claimed the name. It didn’t occur to me anyone else would be interested in these musings. So, live n learn, huh?

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Some variations of ‘Me’

Recently I heard Seth Godin talking about blogs – when you start to write online, he advised, use a pseudonym, gauge the response, if it isn’t favourable then who cares – it wasn’t ‘you’. Yes! clever me and my forethought! I knew that already! that’s what I did!!

Then he went on to recommend you switch to your real name after a few weeks.

Oh, not that bit. I didn’t do that bit.

And it’s been a few years now …

… and a few names too.

Ephemeral Gecko became the me that instagrammed and twitted (not twitting often enough to matter… until I remembered the auto-twitting of my blog posts I set up and promptly forgot about. So in that sense, a version of me I’d forgotten about was busy over there.

A long time before all this happened I used the name pentangled for my jewellery making and early dabbles into digital art. I disliked that name more and more over the subsequent years and having established myself in that guise in deviantArt & redbubble, I finally ditched it.

I know, I know.

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Some variations of ‘Me’

I adopted the name Mixy on facebook, to begin from pure silliness, then stuck with it as a point of principle. That was a time when it was being claimed fb was closing down the accounts of folk not using their real name. Which was really screwing up the lives of ppl who needed anonymity for their personal safety. That wasn’t my story, but I wanted to stand in solidarity with those for whom it was. No matter how futile and ineffective. I knew why, and that’s what mattered to me at the time.

There’s all sorts of reasons why this all seems scrappy and indecisive and bad practice, not quirky and adorable and fun. But there we are. I’m all those things, and I’m using the defence of “I’m an artist” in the same way as Marvin Gaye (formerly Spartacus) Chetwynd does. Because really, who cares? I make stuff. I share it online and sometimes real life exhibitions.That’s all that really matters. If things like this get you all tangled up, don’t let it, pour that angst into something important and leave me here.

This is all of me. Here I am – just the one of me – typing this too you in all the places I type to you from. And perhaps someplace automated I don’t remember too.


If you’d like more insights into my ridiculous & made up world, my colorful antics & frippery, you can do so by hopping onto my newsletter list for sporadic updates. And I’ll send you my  lovingly hand crafted ebook all about color 

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Be well, my friends, Much love to you all X

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(Your email is absolutely safe with me, I’ll just pop by and check up on it time to time, feed it biscuits, plump up its cushions, that sort of thing.)

Twelvty launch!


Hi friends!

Here we are, after much squirreling around I’m delighted to let you know: TWELVTY is now on sale!

I am SO excited! 

To celebrate I’m offering a 2 month discount off the year long program if you sign up this week

TWELVTY is a brand new program I’m launching today, it will run from January through December 2017 and it’s all about color!

Intrigued? Find out more here

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New Moon – New Plans


New Moon – New Plans

I got back from my travels last month so wiped out with jetlag, post giddy-with-deleriously-excited induced tiredfulness that I lost most use out of almost a full fortnight. Then no time at all later I went and took off again. I’m back now, this time long enough to catch my own tail, to take a deep breath. And again. And to make some plans. 

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Last weekend brought a new moon, which on this side of the world was the second new moon in the month making it a black moonI’ve loved the mythology, the tradition, the woo-woo – the whatever you want to call it – of aligning with the lunar cycle since I was a wee scrap. It’s part of my way of fumbling through this life.  The new moon is the time to sow seeds – literal and metaphorical. Actual plant seeds want you to pay attention to the season for best success, but the seeds of ideas can be planted any time. I like the belief they get a head start when fuelled by intention and belief.

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Inspired by a couple of dear friends I’ve met this year, this new moon I was inspired to begin this new moonly ritual.

A New Moon – Moodboard – Art Journal – Scrapbook. … Snappy title, right? ha!

The idea was introduced to me by  Kate Robertson, I love it so much as it brings together a bunch of things I already do – the art journalling, the new moon intention setting, my unending love of cutting up and gluing together images… I haven’t moodboarded much before, for want of getting around to it, and finding a space for the thing to live, so to have it in a book is the perfect solution for me. Said book is now propped up open at the current view and in my line of vision where I sit and do my artly doings.

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The process was enriched by the influence of Hali Karla, who I was delighted to meet up with in real life on my travels. Hali is an artist, intuitively in tune with an astrological practice that she weaves into her creativity, she provides an Art Practice New Moon audio recording each month you can listen to here. On Sunday I settled myself down with the big ole box of magazine pics I’ve been hoarding forever, a big new art journal, and as I listened to Hali’s words I chose the images and thoughts that shone out to me as what I want to bring into the coming month.

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These shorter darker days call in more than ever the warm bright glowing colours for me, for cosiness and comfort, for the mental hibernation and reconbobulation I’m looking to toward the end of a year of big changes and personal re-routing.

I’ve got a sense of releasing the past, letting go and lightening up. Looking into the place where the dreamworld meets the real world, matching the edges together and seeing what I can make next.

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In doing this I’m piecing together new plans for 2017, plans I intend to nurture this month. (Much more on that soon)

living the dream


So you know how it was such a long held wish to visit the US… from early little me watching TV through growing up with the music and the movies and all that hype … through to a growing realisation the place is enormous and a long way away.

And then a number of years later, I arrived.

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coming in to land in Seattle

A friend said today how it was curious to see America through my eyes.

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Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Mango Astronaut Ale. (No, I didn’t)

There are things I see as foreign, despite the similarities between the US & UK, it’s subtle nuances, things I knew about from TV but have never seen in real life. It feels like I’ve slipped through a portal to a parallel universe in which I shrunk back to child sized in relation to my surroundings. And with mountains. Actual mountains. With actual snow on them!

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Mount Rainier National Park (saving this for next trip, image courtesy of the internets, I could see it but  only filtered through a bit of cloud)

 

In my three week adventure I covered almost 12,000 miles, through 8 states, and met some really wonderful people.

I’ve been home about a day and a half and gradually processing and decompressing from the gazillions of new experiences. I came back with upward of 42 GB of video and photos … some edits required, then I’ll show you some of my adventurings!

 

 

 

Happy landings, shininess


a few days ago I landed in Seattle, and I fell in love with the place.

Not least for the Seattle Center which includes the Experience Music Project – the EMP Museum – the most amazingly shiny building I’ve ever encountered – which I spent a good hour or so just circling and photographing while oohing and ahing.

Designed by Frank O Gehry, this extraordinary building has colours that seem to shift as you walk round, and the wobbly surface make for funky reflections. Get these…

 

And Chihuly Garden and Glass —oh my days!! —If you’re like me and get giddy on shiny things, this is a place that will make your heart sing! 

Check back soon — I’ll post up the pics from there once I’ve filtered through them. (I took approx a gazillionty-hundred-and-twelve… watch this space!!)

jumping!


I’m taking a big jump into the unknown this week!

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Since I was a little thing I’ve dreamed of visiting the USA. That magical place I saw on TV. Over the subsequent years I’ve made some half baked plans, but now it’s actually going to happen! The spirit of seven year old me is going to meet Mork & Mindy, along with all the accumulated wishes and hopes of every version of me that’s existed since then. (should I pack more clothes? – that’s a lot of us)

I’m going to meet up with some very dear (until now online) friends while I’m there, and I’m truly in bits with anticipation at this!

In the hope to soak in as much as I can in my couple of weeks I’ve planned a cross country trip by train to see as much as I can, so I’ll be whizzing through seven states in all.

I’ll keep you posted along the way – as time and wifi permits – and I’ll take some photos for you too! 😉

Big love, dear pals X

merging emerging


Last night I couldn’t sleep. So I painted. And I pondered.

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The magic of metallic paint on cushiony soft paper, that biro marks indent and cast tiny shadow outlines.

Life is as quick as a flash, a sprint through some generations and it’s done.

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And life is a slow evolution, spiralling up through understanding new layers of the game.

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It’s both.

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Everything & Nothing. Empty & Full.

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Contrast & Confusion. Zigs & Zags.

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Deep & Shallow.

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Some folk like to scramble the edge, following the truths they’ve chosen to absorb, busying away their days in occupation and activity, punctuated with ritual and escapism.

IMG_7349.jpgFearful of treading over the lines, getting their toes wet, or worse.

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Some folk run at it fast, not leaving anything to chance, escaping the dangers by out-running and out-witting. No way is right, no way is wrong. We’re all just making it up one bit at a time.

~~~~~

I’ve been listening to Pete Holmes’ podcasts: You Made It WeirdHe kept me company through the night, kept me laughing and thinking. So far I’ve really love love loved his interactions with Liz Gilbert & Deepak Chopra and been curiously riled by Noel Gallagher &  Tim Minchin.