Forget New Year’s Resolutions!

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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!

So you’ve gone out on New Year’s Eve and everyone’s asking, “What’s your New Year’s Resolution or Resolutions?” The answer to tell them is, “To not make any resolutions!” Reason being, I never stick to them!

For the last three years, I’ve told myself, the number one resolution for me is to lose weight!” The first year I wanted to lose two kilograms, the next year three and so on…in the last five years instead of losing weight, I’ve gained five kilograms! So no, this year I’ve decided – no resolutions and maybe next year I may have lost the five kilograms I had wished for in the first place!

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Research has shown that “making massive goals are deflating rather than motivating” and that most New Year’s resolutions are broken by March that year. Also 42 percent of New Year’s Resolutions involve trying to be healthier. Yes I tried this however if pureeing kale in juices makes you gag, just don’t do it – I did and it was the start of bulimia! I soon put an end to that. Also with past resolutions I wanted to be healthy. I told myself that I would cook more. Again – I was wrong! Cooking and cleaning up afterwards became more of a chore and a workout in itself. I spent the whole time cleaning the eggs whites that I tried to soufflé off the floor, and the pureed fruit and vegetables became a Pro-Hart art piece splattered on my walls. Suddenly I told myself – STOP! It’s OK not to cook every night, give yourself a break. I now cook two or three times a week and use the left over roast lamb or chicken in wraps, sushi or fried rice. The other nights I eat out at takeout joints that have healthy options, loaded with veggies, lean meats and proteins and grains. I also love takeaway sushi at places that make it fresh right in front of you, not those places where the sushi is going round and round on a sushi train for an hour or so, or sitting at counter all day for you to get food poisoning!

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So if anyone asks, “What’s your New Year’s Resolution?” Say, “to not have one!” And maybe 2017 will be a ripper year for all with no expectations! Just a year to live and be happy!

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Creative Halloween Ideas for Kids

Halloween is coming up on October 31st, 2016. Here are some fun craft and foodie ideas for children with The Wong Side of Life!

 HALLOWEEN CRAFT IDEAS

halloween-masks

Halloween hand masks

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Paper pumpkin (lantern style)

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Feet print ghosts.

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Hand X-ray using cotton buds & white paint

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Pumpkin style lanterns

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Cotton bud skeleton

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Spider web using pop sticks and wool (black or white)

HALLOWEEN FOODIE TREATS

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IMAGE: @AWEBB8 ON INSTAGRAM

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IMAGE: MEAGHAN MOUNTFORD THE DECORATED COOKIE

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IMAGE: @FIVEHEARTHOME ON INSTAGRAM

 

 

Creative foodie treat ideas

We’ve been doing many creative workshops for children over the last few years.

Here are our most popular foodie treat ideas.

 

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Banana sushi – a sliced banana rolled in peanut butter and rice puffs (or rice bubbles).

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Milky Way cars with smarties as wheels and Tiny Teddies as drivers.

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Lady birds on crackers made from cherry tomatoes, olives and Fetta cheese, on top of Cheddar cheese and water crackers.

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Crocodile made from half an avocado, carrot teeth, cucumber and olive eyes.

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The omelette wrap – filled with smoked salmon, mayonnaise, roast pumpkin and basil.

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Rice puffs / bubbles chocolate slice – 1 mars bar melted & 3/4 cup of rice puffs/bubbles pressed into a tray with melted chocolate on the top.

 

 

Creative terrariums – by Ikigai

Two Australian Born Chinese women – Kim and Beryl started creating terrariums as a hobby, which has now turned into a passionate successful growing business! I had the pleasure of interviewing them about their creative terrarium business.

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Joy: Where did the name come from?

Kim: The name Ikigai Australia comes from a Japanese concept ‘the reason of being’ and it is believed that everyone has ‘their Ikigai’. It is the idea of doing something you love; doing something you are good at, something, which the world needs, and something you can be paid for. We personally fell in love with the word and the concept when we came across it, and we feel that our Ikigai as such is to share our joy of our living products and designs with others.

Joy: What’s your background?

Kim: We’re both ABCs – Australian Born Chinese and we both did unrelated university degrees (Engineering and Audiology!).

Beryl: Ikigai Australia gives us the opportunity to be able to release our inner creativity, which we cannot otherwise express in our day jobs, and we love every moment of it!

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Joy: What made you want to start your business together?

Beryl: Kimberley had been making terrariums for some years now, and had been giving them to friends and family as gifts for some time. I have always admired her creations and how she could create a whole mini world within a glass container, so in the last year I started joining her in her creations, thus fuelling our passion and drive to something we can share with everyone.

Joy: How did you two meet and start up a business together?

Beryl: We’ve been best friends since high school and thought it would be an amazing journey to undertake this hobby and business together.

Joy: What gives you joy in your life?

Beryl: We love spending time with our families, friends and meeting new friends, as well as exploring new places and expanding our food adventures!

Joy: What do you do each day to start your creative flow & inspiration?

Beryl: We try to appreciate something every day – whether it’s noticing a new succulent growing in the backyard or how cute an elderly couple is when they’re sitting on a bench together, and then tying some of those things into our creations.

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Joy: What is your dream goal?

Kim: To be able to expand our current Ikigai Australia range of living creations and prints, and to be able to incorporate it as part of a cafe concept, which gives back to the community.

Joy: Where do you see yourselves in 10 years time?

Beryl:  We hope to be able to establish our terrarium café and at the same time be able to maintain a good family work life balance.

Joy: What advice do you give up and coming women in business (tips?)

Beryl: Just do it! Plan of course, but eventually you need to just take the leap of faith in knowing that while there is always the possibility of failure, you owe it to yourself to give it a go. Being passionate about what you do is also essential, as the first few months and perhaps years will be difficult, and it will be your passion in your products and your business that will pull you through!

For more information check out their website http://www.ikigaiaustralia.com

 

 

Unearthing Creativity with Elizabeth Gilbert at the Seymour Centre

One of my favourite Sydney Writers Festival events so far is Unearthing Creativity with Elizabeth Gilbert. I love her honesty, wisdom and humbleness when speaking to an audience of hundreds at the Seymour Centre. I must admit I tune out and am no longer a fan of those who are arrogant and think they’re better than the average person because in reality, we’re all part of the human race and experience the same emotions, fears and even life’s ailments! But with Elizabeth Gilbert, she never fails to inspire.

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I particularly enjoyed hearing her thoughts on creativity, embracing it and facing the world with courage and not fear. At sixteen she made a vow to herself, it was the day she got married to writing and committed herself to a life of writing. She said, “I will support you and you will support me. I will take care of us.” Elizabeth feels that everyone starts off being creative. “Everyone is curious. If you put Lego in front of a child, no child is going to say, I’m not into this today.” The result of someone not being creative is partly due to the fact that someone earlier on in their lives put them down, perhaps a teacher or a parent, or friend. And usually when the person re-enters their creativity again, they start where they’ve left off as a child. They start writing or painting or drawing where they’ve left off. Elizabeth says, “There’s no good reason to not do it. Nothing else makes you feel connected to people. Choosing a life of creativity is a path of curiosity not fear.”

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She then went on to explain that there are two levels of creativity, one that is driven by ego, who is competitive and is never satisfied and the other that is unfolding something that is soulful and content in one’s own path of curiosity, no one else’s. To be creative, you’re in “the zone” – being engaged in the flow or stream. Also it is “a break from the anxiety of who you are. That is Big magic!”

Elizabeth encourages people to do something creative for thirty minutes a day, and eventually, “maybe not the first day but maybe on the 10th day, big magic will happen!” When writing, Elizabeth writes as if she is talking to one person. She feels that if you are talking to everyone, no one will hear you, but when you are writing as if you are talking to one person, everyone will hear you. With her first book, Eat Pray Love she is writing as if she is talking to her friend – Darcy.

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When a person in the audience asked her, “I’m worried about my friend making a the wrong creative decision in her life…” Elizabeth answered, “You should be only worrying and focusing on your own path, not your friend’s. She has her own path to learn and make mistakes from.”

Another audience member asked, “I want to start writing a book but I’m worried about what a family member will think.” Elizabeth replied, “You should ask yourself if that’s an excuse playing in your mind to not want to start writing and do the work, because most of the time, the thing you think someone will be upset about will not be the thing the person is upset about.” Elizabeth gave an example of how someone was upset about a reference that they had size 11 feet, nothing else but just that! The crowd laughed.

“Do you still meditate?” one audience member asked. Elizabeth replied, “I take silent baths which replaces my meditation.” Everyone laughed again. “Some people may call it napping but I call it my ‘silence bath’ and afterwards I feel much better and ready to be creative.”

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Who better than to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak – the creative guru herself! They always say, life’s about learning. That was one good creative life lesson jam packed into an hour session. Thank you Elizabeth.

Big Magic is out now at all good book stores.

Fabulously Creative with Walter Mason

Walter Mason did a wonderful Fabulously Creative workshop for writers this week at Ashfield library.

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Walter’s first book, Destination Saigon was published at the age of 40 and says, “Anything fabulous can happen at any age in your life!”

He started the workshop with us closing our eyes and we had to think about our intentions for the workshop, “What I want to do is…” and then after a minute or so Walter rang a beautiful sounding bell, reminiscent to the bells you hear at temples. The beautiful sound echoed through the room, I felt like I was being transported into a Buddhist monk retreat.

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He shared with us “fabulous people” who inspired him as a writer. They include:

  • Rabelais (1483-1553) who came to Walter in a dream and was a writer, monk and Greek scholar. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, master of crude jokes and songs. He was a monk who often wrote about getting drunk and many other salacious stories. The lesson he learned from him – “Write warmly and take delight in everyday life.” A wonderful Rabelais quote was, “Wisdom can’t enter an unkind heart.” I really love this quote.
  • Ouida (1839-1908) was the pseudonym of the English novelist Maria Louise Ramé. She lived at Langham hotel in London and ran up huge hotel and florist’s bills, and commanded soirees that included soldiers, politicians, literary lights (including Oscar Wilde, Algernon Swinburne, Robert Browning and Wilkie Collins), and artists (including John Millais), “A little scandal is an excellent thing; nobody is ever brighter or happier of tongue than when he is making mischief.” The lesson learned – “Go to the places that inspire you.”
  • Baron Corvo (Frederick Rolfe) (1860-1913) was an English writer, artist, photographer and eccentric. He often carried eccentric and peculiar notebooks and pens and often had a story to tell for everything he had. Lesson: Write extravagantly and with style, and always keep eccentric notebooks.
  • E.F. Benson (1867-1940) An English novelist, biographer, memoirist and represented England at figure skating. He was a precocious and prolific writer, publishing his first book while still a student. Principally known for the Mapp and Lucia series about Emmeline “Lucia” Lucas and Elizabeth Mapp. Lesson: “Observe the world minutely and always look for stories in people and the places you encounter each day.
  • Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) was a British poet and critic and the eldest of the three literary Sitwells. She often spent one day of the week in bed! She had an ostentatious style due to her costumes and was an outrageous person, born with a twisted spine. Lesson: “Be noteworthy.”
  • Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962) was an English poet, novelist and garden designer. Lesson: “Cherish every moment in life and write about it. There is never a perfect time-all stages of life are worth celebrating.”
  • Elinor Glyn (1864-1945) was a British novelist and scriptwriter who specialised in romantic fiction, which was considered scandalous during her time. Lesson: “Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.”

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We then did some fabulous writing activities. They include the following:

  • 50 words – CREATIVE BLURB ABOUT YOU

Walter asked us to write a 50 words blurb about ourselves within 5 minutes. There was however one other small restriction placed onto us, and that was that we had to include one special word – one that was pulled out from his blue bag filled with typed words. My special word was, DROP!

So I wrote – Joy Hopwood’s a creative who works in the arts and entertainment industry. She founded the Joy House Film Festival and does creative kids workshops in schools as part of her “Kindness is for Free” workshops, an anti-bullying and racism initiative, with her DROP dead gorgeous Wong Side of Life puppets.

We all read out our blurbs and some other people had to include words such as “damage,” “bang,” “bake,” “pumpkin,” “chase” and so on.

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  • RECALLING YOUR WRITER MOMENT

We then had to write down a time in our lives that made us think we were writers.

I recalled a time in year 7, at school, when our class had to write down procedures of looking after our pets. I wrote about my pet goldfish and at the end of my story I wrote, “This is how I look after my goldfish, even though he died last week!” After reading it out loud, the classroom erupted into laughter and my teacher said, “I always enjoy reading your work Joy, because of the honesty and humour you put in your stories. Your stories often put a smile on my face.” This was the first moment in my life that I thought I could be a writer.

  • WRITE DOWN YOUR FEARS

Walter made us all address our fears and told us of an incident when one writing teacher told her class to get their names printed on business cards with one word job description underneath – “WRITER.” This affirmation made the class think differently about themselves. One of my favourite activities was when we all had to draw a vertical line in the centre of our pages and write down our fears on the left side and then a positive counteraction on the other side. For example on one side of the page I wrote, “My writing is untidy,” and on the right side of the column I wrote, “My writing is neat,” and so on. After everyone wrote down their lists of fears we were then instructed to tear off and throw away our fears and have our positive affirmations displayed near our computers or writing place. Walter stressed that it does matter how we talk to ourselves and that he once completed a 12-step programme of, “Fake it until you make it!”

  • FLASH FICTION

Writing and telling a story in 300 words is called flash fiction. By starting the story off with the action makes the story immediate and dynamic. Many flash fiction stories omit the set up of the story, and just went straight to the action.

For example, “My bird flew out of hands and dived into a world of the unknown…” or “He walked out on me after I confessed…” and so on.

  • PROMPT BOX

Walter told us about Twyla Tharp’s prompt box. Tharp is a dancer and choreographer who’s produced over 130 dances and ballets over the last 40 years. She believes that creativity can be learned and implemented for the world to savour and enjoy and often uses the “prompt box” technique. Twyla Tharp explains her filing organisation/ creativity project started system: “I start every dance with a box. I write the project name on the box, and as the piece progresses I fill it up with every item that went into the making of the dance. This means notebooks, news clippings, CDs, videotapes of me working alone in my studio, videos of the dancers rehearsing, books and photographs and pieces of art that may have inspired me. he box makes me feel organized, that I have my act together even when I don’t know where I’m going yet. It also represents a commitment. The simple act of writing a project name on the box means I’ve started work.”

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  • CREATIVE SHOPPING BAGS

Walter also told us about his creative teacher, Jan Cornall who has “creative shopping bags.” Each bag holds items that inspire the writing process. Walter said that his teacher has one bag titled – My memoir, another – My creativity and so on. This is another wonderful creative idea for story and writing stimulation.

Like myself, Walter has journals. He says journal writing stimulates a part of our brain into action. By writing one page a day, in bullet points is a great start; you can use it for articles or for writing a book. To conclude the workshop we wrote down our future dazzling successes, in five years time.

I asked Walter what gives him joy in his life and he replied, “It gives me joy doing the thing I want to do. It gives me joy helping other people, realising and reaching their dreams. I get really excited when I see other people doing something they want to do and if I can help them in any way it really thrills me. It gives me joy being with people I love and it gives me joy to be loved in return. It gives me joy that I have done something that makes someone happy.”

Destination Saigon   Destination Cambodia

Walter has two books published, Destination Saigon and Destination Cambodia, I strongly recommend them. He writes with great passion and humour. He has a few talks and workshops coming up. Here’s the link http://www.waltermason.com

Enjoy!

Christmas joy 2015 (plus foodies & creative ideas)

Christmas is coming up shortly and it’s that time of the year where I reflect the year – 2015

Every year I write a list of things I’m grateful for.

Family and Friends – during the good times and the bad times, you always know who your true friends are for the most challenging times of your life. My late mother always said, “There’s always someone in the world worse off than you, so don’t feel sorry for yourself.”

 

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I’m proud that I’ve been able to bring The Wong Side of Life’s Kindness is for Free into schools – an anti-racism & and anti-bullying initiative. We’ve been able to add role playing (drama) by using my puppets so children experience what it’s like to be “the bully” and “the bullied,” as well as making popsicle puppets as part of a creative craft activity.

 

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We also had a great Joy House Film Festival year, with the most entries received and audience thus far. I look forward to spread the joy each year by showcasing emerging filmmakers’ short film and giving prizes for not only best film, but also best youth and diversity short film. This is proudly supported by MEAA’s Diversity Committee. It’s a free yearly public event. Thank you to our sponsors – Media Super, Hoyts and Bendigo Bank (Willoughby North).

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I love giving talks and was lucky to do so for Laneway Learning this year – a great crowd and AAFFN panel in Melbourne.

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Christmas is also a difficult time for people, especially those in hospital. Every year I like to donate my Fairy Joy books to my local children’s hospital. To be able to give is most rewarding feeling.

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I hope you’ll be able to pay it forward, give joy, be loyal to your family & friends. Being grateful, ethical and giving is good for the soul – it’s a way of living a joyful life!

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Blessings to you and may 2016 be awesome for all.

Here are some creative foodies, craft & art ideas you can make and share for Christmas. Spread the joy!

* CREATIVE FOODIES IDEAS *

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Found on welke.nl

 

riley

 

http://www.rileyrecipeblog.blogspot.com

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 blogs.lasoo.com.au

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lovethispic.com

CREATIVE CHRISTMAS CRAFT IDEAS

Christmas tree hands – I did this in my creative lesson with the school kids- they loved it!

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Christmas tree reindeer made from pegs – made by my next door neighbour’s son.

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Reindeer egg cartoon head

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Found on craftymorning.com

Thumb print reindeers

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Found on flickr.com

 

CREDITS:

Moje Wypieki, indulgy.com, http://www.lovethispic.com/image/48714/diy-food-christmas-trees,

chickabug.com, http://rileyrecipeblog.blogspot.com.au/ ,  Newfoundland Memories Of Home’s Page ,

http://www.lovethispic.com/image/42356/christmas-santa-strawberries, http://blogs.lasoo.com.au/tag/christmas-

tree/, http://www.etsy.com/, http://craftori.com/, http://etsylush.com/, https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-

a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/227961_429493270441099_640727145_n.jpg,