The Happiness Project

Irony is everywhere. When I started my continuing education Fine Arts Diploma Program (FADP), and this blog, it was in a mini rebellion against the self help industry. The Element with its tagline “How finding your passion changes everything” was the major culprit that made me look down my nose at this entire section of books and enrol in FADP instead. Of course as you know from my review of The Element, which I wrote immediately after reading the book an entire year after my initial shun; I loved it.

I stumbled upon another self help book that I devoured this weekend entitled The Happiness Project and I loved it too. This book is probably old news for anyone who is into these types of books but it resonated with me and I feel inclined to reflect on it and its implications for, which in some light could be looked at as the brand for my own Happiness Project. The output of this rumination will be the subject of the next few rapid fire blog posts. I am splitting it up to keep the outpouring of ideas digestible. It is interesting that I had alluded to some change ideas brewing from Wordcamp Victoria and which now, post weekend read, have been significantly altered.

First we will start with why I loved the The Happiness Project, then in later posts we will talk about what it means for me and our adventures exploring art.

It’s personal

The author Gretchen Rubin bares her soul. She shares graphic details of her temper, her husband’s illness and also profound glimpses into her inner conflicts. It is really inspirational to see someone open themselves up to complete strangers in this very rare way.

It’s relatable

Her personal stories resonated with me so much because I found the material so relatable. I had struggled with these challenges and came to many of the same conclusions. Her advice was often it depends – your situation may be different, you may have different needs. All of our journeys are unique.

It’s practical

The books is brimming with practical advice of little things you can incorporate into your own Happiness Project without having to travel to an Ashram.

The Happiness Project was wonderful. If you’re at all interested in promoting happiness in yourself and thereby in others as well, go get this book! More coming soon on its implications for me and

RED – A review

If you are in Victoria, Seattle or Vancouver and you are at all interested in theatre or Mark Rothko get yourself to the Vancouver Playhouse to see its production of RED before it ends February 4th.

My wife and I saw the play Friday January 20th, and the performance was outstanding. The two man show received an enthusiastic standing ovation from a not quite full crowd.

RED is writhing with dark humour, philosophy and poignant commentary on being human, art, and the perils of classification. I am not an art historian or well read about Rothko yet the general arc of the story was known to me. Even so, the playwright has managed to keep the play unpredictable and full of drama and suspense. The intermission free RED brushes past you at a perfect tempo, giving you enough time to reflect but not enough time to get restless.

For a play of this sort the set has incredible production values. Large canvases are used as props and curtains between acts.The use of light and the shadows cast by the actors are used to parallel the darkness in Rothko’s famous works both literally and symbolically. Rothko constantly smokes and drinks Johnny Walker, sometimes even offering a drink to his assistant. A record player is an important inanimate member of the cast that builds the atmosphere and sets the serious tone. The play creates an immense tension and tables some great philosophy with out being pretentious, obvious or boring.

Even if you have to travel to Vancouver go see RED. My wife and I just missed seeing it in NYC during our honeymoon two Septembers ago and I must say it was worth the wait. Don’t miss it, buy your tickets and make your plans today.

(The featured photo below is a no flash photo I took of a Rothko at the Abstract Expressionism exhibit at the MOMA in September 2010)

Virtual Novel Writing Studio – Scrivener

As you know one of my implicit and poetic New Year’s resolutions was to get serious about writing… practice the art, improve my abilities and create. It’s a multi-front undertaking about blogging, school, journalling and because I am a ridiculously enthusiastic individual, it is also about writing a great Canadian novel.

The subject of the novel is super secret but it’s starting out as a piece of creative non-fiction, which means research, organization, time-lining, outlining and other structural undertakings. I like this as it plays to my professional background – a project manager. However it quickly starts to get messy in a regular word processor. You quickly arrive in a situation where you have multiple word documents such as an outline and a draft that need to be kept up to date separately, not to mention the meshed network of file folders for research, notes, drafts and other related files. So this got me thinking, there must be an app for this… and sure enough courtesy of Apple’s OS X App store I found Scrivener, and it is perfectly tailored for the job. The price tag was a little disconcerting at first at $44.99 so I headed over to the developers website to see if they had a demo and they did…

After installing the demo and reviewing some instructional material including a very helpful video, I started importing over all of my miscellaneous files into the Scrivener app. That done I felt at home in my very well organized virtual writing studio, so I purchased a version through the app store, and I’m happy to report that the upgrade from the demo to the app through Apple was seamless. My work was not disrupted, my files were not corrupted. Since then I’ve even penned the first page of my opus.

Watch out world! Mr Campbell and his partner Dr. Scrivener are on the case.