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Handmade Renaissance

Most people have an interest in being creative in some way. Our jobs are often just not big enough for us. Not many define themselves by their Monday to Friday jobs, but ask them what their interests are and you start getting to the essence of the person.

In the very early days of writing The River and the Ravages, I knew I wanted the protagonist, Aaliya, to be a saddle maker. This wasn’t just a random selection of a trade relevant during medieval times. I wanted saddle making for its association with practicality and for its incredible range for beauty. Saddles have stories. The people that had owned the saddle, the distances it had covered and the horses it had been on, the battles the saddle had been in, the unique parts of the world the saddle had been taken to. All of this mattered. And it shaped the character, Aaliya: who she was, what she stood for, what she wanted to achieve.

There’s a significant renaissance in the handmade movement at the moment. Etsy.com (Ebay for handmade) is mega-business as people seek out unique products. I’m drawn to handmade the same reasons so many other people are: the ideas, the tactility, and the hands that work upon the matter. You don’t just get a material item with handmade, you get meaning and stories. There’s longevity. Handmade items are rarely thrown out and in our disposable society, that’s BIG. Handmade items are often handed down through generations. They stand the test of time in a world where there is so much change and nothing seems to last. They help to define who we are and our place in the world.

I’m also heartened by the fact that around the world schools of old trades and craft are opening up and are thriving. Schools for blacksmithing, saddle making, woodworking, decorative ironwork and on it goes. Many people have become interested in learning old trades and craft as a way of counterbalancing our busyness and highly distracted modern lives.

More importantly, I think everywhere people are learning there’s a sense of joy to be had from making. There’s also a strong connection with the present moment when you’re making. You’re not thinking about your imperfect body, or the size of your mortgage, or your messy divorce. Loneliness simply drifts away when making and creating. All that matters is the connection of hand and mind and achieving something real and beautiful. Even if it’s just for yourself. No one else need ever see it.

Victor Frankl once wrote: ‘It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.’ Joy is the goal, not happiness. And I’m a firm believer that making is a strong element of joy in life.

Expect that anything worthwhile takes a long time. You won’t go from novice to highly skilled overnight in whatever craft you pursue. But that’s not an excuse not to start. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. But you already know that. And it’s more than likely you’ll discover a whole lot about yourself along the way.

And you know what’s the easiest part? Nothing. It’s hard work. But the rewards are plenty.

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  • Every now and then you’ve got to share the big scary stuff you’re going through. Some of you already know, but for those that don’t I’ll be leaving the comfy cushiony public service world for the less cushiony world of small business in the very near future (June 20 to be precise).
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Excited? Yes. Nervous. Hell yeah! I’ve been  a public servant for most of my working life so the leap feels pretty big. I’m going to (reignite) my website design and development business and because my world is words, words, and more words, copywriting will also be thrown in for good measure. . 
It’s going to be a big brave year. Probably going to be some tears and hide-under-a-rock moments. But it’s going to be one helluva journey. .
As I’m a big fan of poetry, I’ll end this with the words of Robert Frost who nicely sums up the way I’m feeling: Start with a big fat lump in your throat. Start with a profound sense of wrong, a deep homesickness, a crazy lovesickness, and run with it. If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love. And don’t stop until you get what you love. #flyingsolo #amazinglife
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Goodnight folks. 
XO Jann
  • Every year my birthday comes around and it’s a strange sense of dread and elation. . And every year I’m amazed by the quirky gifts I receive from friends who know me best. Am I weird enough to wear squirrel socks...yes indeed. Thanks for all the lovely birthday wishes. X
  • Reliving the joy that is photo booths in Japan. I’d go back just for the silly fun of doing this again
  • Hanging out with these bruisers at the #aflw grand final @ Adelaide oval. Amazing to be here. It’s gonna be a big score for the crows #genw
  • There’s been some pretty miserable stuff in the media lately...this time women making inroads and shaking up the boys club that is sport. .
Realize we’ve still got so far to go. It boggles the mind...we’re in 2019! But the fight needs to go on. . 
As it’s Women’s History Month just want to keep this issue alive and reach out to everyone of you and say, YOU matter and the fight’s worth it. .
Let’s keep looking after one another. None of this is going away in a hurry and there’s too much at stake. .
#fuckthepatriarchy #strongwoman #proudfeminist
  • Beautiful Adelaide Fringe opening truly was like walking through a Dreamtime
  • Day at Port Noarlunga beach. God damn it was lovely. Great ending to school hols.
  • Not tiring at all of black buildings in this city. #whatilove
  • Inari is an absolute delight. I thought it was going to be a quick visit but 4kms later we were still climbing Mt Inari which (I believe) is the head shrine of the God of rice, these beautiful Torii gates to walk through all the way to the top. 🇯🇵

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