Posts by: Andy Solo

Second home

Posted by on Mar 17, 2011 in Blog, Life, News & Events, Philanthropy, Travel | One Comment

My family considers Japan our second home.

We named our son Akira after a close friend we made while staying there a while back. We’ve visited many times and try and get back there as often as possible.

Akira studies Japanese for 80 minutes every day at school, in the hope that he forms a similar connection to a country his parents love. We perhaps went overboard as he has wanted to live there instead of Australia since the age of 5.

Akira’s best friend at school is Japanese, along with many other friends at his international school. He not only learns the language every day but delves deeply into the culture, environment, systems, flora, fauna, landscape, food and way of life in his ‘favourite place in the world’. Dan and I fight over who gets to help Akira with his Japanese homework to test our own flimsy grip on the language.

My first photographic exhibition was images from Japan and my hard drive is clogged with thousands of others from this wonderful country. The numerous artworks on our walls at home are a testament to our Japanophilic obsession.

My travel file is filled with details of our next planned journey to Japan, strangely enough to the north-east of the main island. Our close friend Noriko was due to travel back to her homeland last week but instead we sat with her at their table watching horror upon horror unfold.

I was about to sit down to a Chinese dinner with family when I first noticed the newsflash about the quake and tsunami. I honestly felt sick to the stomach and sat with my eyes glued to the corner TV instead of downing my roast duck.

Things of course haven’t improved much since then in terms of feeling any better about Japan’s devastation. I turn to the news frequently for updates but I’m a sensitive person and don’t last long when the human face of the tragedy is shown.

These are the most extraordinary people who have welcomed me into their country warmly and graciously over and over again.

One man drove his car 200km to return a bag I stupidly left on a bus and then apologised to me and gave me a gift. A waitress in a country town offered Dan and I a place to stay at her grandmothers house when we were cycling around the country. A bus load of elderly Japanese women bought Dan and I drinks after we cycled to the top of a particularly steep hill. Another lady drove around to every hostel in Nara throughout the night until she found the one we were staying at to return Dan’s jacket he had left at her restaurant.

These are extraordinary people. They are warm, gracious and welcoming. They are humble and stoic. They are also hilarious, fun and optimistic. They’re intelligent, talented and courageous. Many of them are our friends. All of them are our brothers and sisters. And I can’t begin to express how upset I am.

The world seems a little too fragile at the moment, doesn’t it? But we all have to remain positive, strong and kind-hearted. Please, do what you can to help. Trust me, the Japanese would give all they had if the situation was reversed.

x Andy

Girl in the Window

Healthy competition

Posted by on Mar 15, 2011 in Blog, Business, Goals, Life, Plans | One Comment

I’m an ideas person.

I even had the idea to make an ‘Ideas Bank’ where ‘idea people’ deposit their fabulous plans and people with time and money on their hands take the idea and make a mint out of it (then share it with the ‘ideas person’). I think the only flaw with this idea is that people with time and money on their hands have probably made their loot from having great ideas.

Aaaaanyway, I’ve had a great idea which I’m actually going to bring to fruition this time. I have a business plan, I’m finalising the budget, I do all this during my well-scheduled work day and it’s all coming together wonderfully.

Up until yesterday that is.

From the very start I couldn’t believe nobody had had this idea before. It’s the perfect business (for me) and I’m tripping over myself in excitement to get it launched. And terrified there’s somebody else out there that may beat me to it. But surely I’m just being paranoid and there’s nobody else living the same dream as me?

Wrong, of course.

In doing more web research yesterday I accidentally found somebody that is more than likely doing exactly what I’m doing. Except they have a team of 20 people working on it. And funding no doubt. And fancy schmancy offices. And a track record of success with similar products. Damn them to hell.

In response to this threat, I suffered an immediate headache, which made me need to lie down on the couch and sulk, which then forced me to find and decimate the chocolate stash, which soon led me to the medicine cupboard for some Nurofen, then down a slightly destructive path of self-loathing and, finally, into a state of anger, then slowly determination, gradually some fire in my belly and, finally, back to my desk and on the path to retaliation and one-uppence.

Some people can take weeks or months to go through this series of shock-disappointment-destructiveness-disgust-action-recovery when they suffer a set back. I’m proud to say I had it all done and dusted within mere hours. It was hugely unbalancing, all-consuming and distressful but, oh, the magic combination of chocolate, nurofen and resilience!

I’ve done a pretty serious self and business re-assessment during these hours and come out the other side refreshed and determined to do things even better than I had planned. It’s called competition. My business would be easier without it but perhaps not better.

Where would the Chinese economy be if they had shied away from competition? Could we even afford to jump on a plane for a holiday if we only had one national carrier (hmmm)? I can say at least, without a shadow of a doubt, that the quality of a cup of coffee in recent years has increased exponentially with the numbers of cafe here in Bondi. And imagine how expensive banking would be in Australia if there wasn’t any competition? Ok, the logic falls down there dramatically but let’s not get onto the topic of collusion so early in the day hey?

What I’m getting at here is that I have to deal with this potential threat to my business as a positive. I don’t want to get all Deepak Chopra on you folks but a little bit of optimism goes a long way. Either I give up my plans that excite and inspire me in a way I’ve never felt before or I focus on carrying them out to the very best of my abilities.

And beat the competition. Ha!

Yours in Deepak determinism…

x Andy

Geared to Go

Magic of mystery

Posted by on Mar 10, 2011 in Blog, Bondi Beach, Life | No Comments

After galloping (ok, more lolling than galloping) along the sand early this morning, I was heading on my uphill home stretch when my eyes were drawn, as always, to a building nestled on Campbell Parade.

This is a building of fairly typical beachside architecture, dark dull yellow in colour and one of many opposite Bondi Beach’s north end. In the deep dark autumn morning, however, it’s windows are lit with a warm glow. There is a comforting, dimly lit eating area with the odd person passing through and a hefty telescope pointed down to the waves.

This triple-storied residence has no signage, a number of hotel-like rooms extending out behind the main building and a rare-as-hens-teeth large, fortressed private car park attached. Who the hell lives here? Who stays here? I’m pretty sure I have full knowledge of the handful of accommodation options in Bondi Beach and this place is not listed anywhere.

I want in! Every morning I want to finish my run by inserting my specially cut key into the front arched doorway and heading into that cosy room, huddled up with a coffee and sussing out the beach scene from the special spying-device planted in the expansive window.

Who lives there? I’m not really after the answer to be honest. Well, I am, But I’m also not. You see, I’m one of those people who LOVE a mystery. Every morning I think up a new little story about who has access to this perplexing private palace. I’m insanely curious. It makes me feel alive with wonder.

Are you one of those people? Or are you someone (like most people I know), who is immediately on a mission to discover the truth…frustrated until you do… then satisfied once the mystery is solved.

I do feel a certain level of satisfaction in an answer but it comes with a sense of let down too. A stab of disappointment. Story finished. Mystery managed. Curiosity quelled. Lord knows there are always more mysteries to solve though so I just readjust my attention on to those I guess.

The old “why are we here” nugget is my favourite. No matter what your belief system, there’s one thing for sure…it all remains a mystery. Religion is just a way to achieve some sort of peace with the huge unknowableness of it all. To mitigate the frustration of the mystery. And full respect to each wondrous story (and god) – we’d never get anything done if we didn’t have some way to get it off our minds.

I’m also a fan of the chicken-or-the-egg fiasco. And the platypus. And the humble tomato (can it really be deemed a piece of fruit?). One of my biggest heros is Sir David Attenborough. He continues on his life mission of discovery throughout the natural world. Bless his safari-suited cotton socks.

And my newest love interest (in the most platonic of ways) is Professor Brian Cox. All you folk out there dancing away with me in the clubs in the 90′s may remember the anthem “Things Can Only Get Better”. What a song. Prof Cox was the keyboard player for the band D:Ream. A year after they disbanded in 1997, Cox was awarded his PH.D. degree in high energy particle physics. And thank god for that.

This guy is great. Loveable, intelligent, gorgeous and bang up about physics. He is on a life mission of discovery throughout our physical world and out into the far reaches of the universe. This is a guy who clearly loves a mystery. And in the spirit of discovery, I’ll say no more and let you check his sexy, soothing, sci-fi self out for yourself (just google him).

And oh the mystery of space time. Where the hell has the morning gone? Over and out Houston…

x Andy

Heavens Above

Hi Ho!

Posted by on Mar 8, 2011 in Blog, Bondi Beach, Goals, Life, Plans | One Comment

Yeeehaa!

I’m free! I’ve had a couple of days to attend to domestic duties I have been neglecting (washing, shopping, cleaning, etc) and am now ready to get cracking.

I’ve had a few people shocked that I’m not going to take some time off after finishing up my day job but I just can’t. I’m bursting at the seams to get going on my new creative ventures. I don’t want to waste a day!

The good news is, my new lifestyle demands that I start the day at a cafe, sipping coffee, whilst reviewing my experience. Followed by some more time in the sun and cool breeze blogging away. Tough times.

I then head home to continue work in my office. Yes, my workspace is a desk in my bedroom because the space:affordability ratio in Bondi Beach is horrific but SO worth it to have the sunshine and sea breeze streaming in my window and the ocean mere minutes away for my midday break.

And on Day 1, I’ve taken the first step to achieving my goal of creating a network of women in the area that I can touch base with regularly to share support, motivation, ideas, skills and so forth. The main idea, really, is to have to provide progress updates to my peers (nothing like some healthy competition between friends…).

So, my gorgeous blonde friend and I are having our first meeting next Friday morning. I’m giggling already at the thought of us both desperately cramming on Thursday night! Nah, I think we’re both super keen to get our projects up and running which is one of the reasons I approached her. She’s also fun, positive, intelligent and full of ideas. Can’t wait to start our meetings (can’t help thinking of the name The Gaggle for our little gal group of two).

So, hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go!

x Andy

Off to Work I Go

Dangling Carrots

Posted by on Mar 2, 2011 in Blog, Goals, Life, Photography, Street Art | No Comments

There’s no doubt about it…I’m a yes person.

I like to please people; I like to help; I don’t like letting people down, even to my detriment. And I think that’s ok, that’s just me.

But sometimes there is nobody in trouble. Sometimes I’m presented with an opportunity and regardless of how upset, scared or negative I feel about it, I usually take it on because 1. I don’t like to say no and 2. you just never know, you know

Well I was presented with an opportunity yesterday with the usual immediate response required. It was a brilliant idea that was solely mine for the taking. No tender or application required. The gig was guaranteed mine.

It included an opportunity to connect with over 100 entertainment industry folk who regularly need photographic services. Seriously, two of the words in the proposal were ‘National Geographic’. Other words were ‘party’, ‘exclusive’ and ‘incredible opportunity’.

This is something I would usually say yes to. Who wouldn’t, right? It was most likely going to take me down a road of photography, fun and financial success. The only problem being, it really wasn’t my scene. At the start of the year I worked out what I really want to do with my life and the steps that would get me there. And, sadly, this opportunity wasn’t part of it.

I’m still thinking about it though. I know I made the right decision turning it down but it’s one of those ‘Sliding Doors’ moments where you just never really know where the other path could have taken you.

But I stand firm by my decision which, surprisingly, involved the answer ‘no’ (followed by much thanks, explanations and “please think of me next time anyway!”). I feel like this has given me extra resolve to make things work with my own projects. I have to make it work now I turned down an opportunity that could have been amazing.

So, sometimes you try and take a bite at the dangling carrot and sometimes you don’t. This particular one was a deep orange, perfectly formed, large and tasty looking offering but I’m going to stick by my organic, garden-variety carrot this time around and hope in the long run it will be better for me.

Yours in resisted temptation…

x Andy

Organic Options

Knuckling down

Posted by on Feb 28, 2011 in Blog, Bondi Beach, Goals, Health, Life, Plans | No Comments

Yes, sorry folks, my blogs have been slowing down in frequency. You know when you can see light at the end of the tunnel and you’d just prefer to wait until you get there instead of fumbling around in the dark?

I have 4 more days left at my day job and last week I went off the rails a bit with writing, exercise, healthy eating and so forth. I thought I’d just wait until all the pesky working-for-somebody-else thing was over and done with before I got cracking on all my grand master plans.

But, as of yesterday, I realised that all the things that keep me sane, happy and healthy were the things I had given up. Why would I do that? Why stop jogging when it makes me feel so good? When did overeating ever work for me except in the very moment of stuffing my face?

What happens when I start dropping all my ‘good’ goals is my health starts to wane, my mood drops and my inspiration begins to fade. I’m at the point now (it only took 20 years or so) where I can recognise this change and jump back on board quickly.

So, there I was a few hours ago in the dark, quiet of the end-of-night (let’s not even pretend to call 5.30am ‘morning’) jogging along the promenade, wind in my hair, bounce in my step, lightness in my being and all was well. And it’s never more important to remember how good it all feels, how essential it is, to keep motivated and committed to your goals on the last day of summer.

Yes folks, tomorrow is Autumn and many people suffer a form of grievance. I am rejoicing! I love the coming of the cool, jeans, boots and coats, bright rustling leaves, the bailing of the Bondi backpacker, the snuggling in. And the knuckling down.

I couldn’t think of a better time of year to focus on a new life. I can’t wait to bunker down and snuggle into my new life. Just 4 more sleeps to go!

x Andy

Snuggling In

Best laid plans

Posted by on Feb 22, 2011 in Blog, Goals, Life, News & Events, Plans | 2 Comments

So, I quit my day job yesterday.

I know, I know. It was only a few posts ago that I was sprouting off about preparing, planning and timelines. Being smart about things. Being patient.

But sometimes you have to know when to quit. Dan and I weighed up finances against sanity, budgets against bullshit and, simply, if I could continue at my day job for the rest of the year without going slowly mad laying awake at night, without more tears, high emotion and stress.

And the answer was no. Dan and I don’t really waste life on situations that are negatively charged. I’ve stuck it out for as long as I can, to a point where there is now someone can take over my role and I can finally be free and start concentrating on me and by Big Plans.

The emotionally drain at work was sapping my passion, dampening my dreams. Taking up too much precious time. I’m going to have to seriously re-work the home budget and get some plans in place for income streams but, for now, I’m free!

I would be happier if I wasn’t writing this before ‘the big moment’. It’s all good and well handing over the sealed envelope to your immediate boss but telling your colleagues is a whole different ball game. And today is the day, mere hours away. The worst bit is having to explain why you are leaving to people who are staying. You can’t just say “because this place drives me nuts”, “due to the corporate culture crap” or, my personal favourite “because I have better things to do with my life. You can all suck it up and stay here. Wa Ha HA!”

Because I actually really like all of the people I work with. I spend most of my days with them and have learned to love them all, despite their differences. I feel sorry that I’m leaving them. I’ll miss them. I’ll miss my work (won’t I?). But there is a whole world of pain that I’ll be leaving behind too. And that’s what’s going to get me dancing around my living room celebrating in just 10 days time!!

And then, the following week, I’m going hell for leather on my own business. Sheesh, I’m excited. Finally, the time and space I’ve been craving to get my passions flowering, my career into gear. Yeeha!

Yours in freedom (nearly) and excitement (real soon)…

x Andy

Peace & Freedom

Taking off

Posted by on Feb 16, 2011 in Blog, Goals, Life, Plans, Travel | No Comments

There’s a guy I know of that works really hard. Probably 7 days a week but he’s doing what he loves, which is great. One of his main focuses and passions is travel, just like me.

He works in travel and has connected with people all over the world through his work. He gets offers to stay with any number of people when he chooses to go to a particular country or city. Which is lovely, except that the guy likes solitude, just like me.

So a few days ago he decided to do exactly what he loves doing…jump on a plane to a far away country and get lost in the culture, anonymously. I can’t begin to tell you how jealous I am. How every cell in my body wants to do exactly the same thing.

I have the money, I could make the time (by quitting my job) (whatever) and I certainly have the desire. I just don’t have the freedom and circumstance. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change things for the world because the very thing stopping me is also the most important – my child.

Yes, that’s right. The guy I know doesn’t have kids. He has a wife but you can leave wives, reason with them. You can tell them you love them and that you’ll be back soon. You don’t have to make sure they’re awake, feed them breakfast, get them dressed, brush their teeth, makes their lunches and ship them off to school, pick them up again, dinner, bed, PJs, teeth, reading, playing, singing and putting them to sleep. Every day of the week.

And of course I wouldn’t give it up for the world but oh! to have the freedom again to just be able to pack a bag, book a flight and head off. Dan and I did this for about 6 years, non-stop. Every 3 months usually. Can you imagine! People thought we were crazy and I admit finding a new place to live and work every 3 months has its challenges but oh the adventure!!

But I am held firmly in my domestic routine now and I am happy, truly. But what if I could be this content and still keep traveling? All of us…our little family of three. Not possible you say? What about schooling? What about my responsibilities? Well, I’m not saying I’m going to do it but I could. I know I could because people do. Not many but check these guys out… http://www.soultravelers3.com

This family is beautiful. A mum, dad and young girl from California who decided to undertake an extended family holiday around the world and just never stopped. I think they will have been going 5 years this September with their little girl heading towards the age of 10.

They have god to guide them and their girl sounds like a little genius but, besides that, they seem pretty similar to my little family. So why can’t we do it? Anybody? Please tell me why, otherwise I might just be tempted to join them…

x Andy

Waiting World

Image ownership

Posted by on Feb 14, 2011 in Art, Blog, Photography | No Comments

I wish I didn’t feel compelled to write on this particular topic but I can’t get it off my mind. The subject is image copyright. This could have a little something to do with someone claiming complete ownership over several thousand of my images.

The basis of the claim was that I simply took photos of performance art. Performance art that incorporated the culmination of a number of brilliantly, talented creative artists in the realm of performance, lighting, sound, costume, set design, etc (which is all true). Apparently all I did was press a button on a mechanical device which does not constitute art in any way.

(Even though photographers who work in the field will tell you the combination of extremely low light and fast, leaping bodies make this style of photography one of the most difficult, not taking into account the feel, timing and artistic interpretation skills required, nor the thousands of dollars of specialist equipment needed).

Seemingly it was only the content of the image that made the photos “stunning”, “gorgeous”, etc. And, furthermore, this is “just how it is” in the industry of performance art – the company presenting the show automatically owns all the images because of this theory of ‘art’ versus ‘mere capture’. This may be shocking news to any photographers out there who have undertaken similar photographic projects?!!

The good news is that these claims are incorrect (and, to be honest, I found them a little offensive, though apparently this is just because I am overly-sensitive??). Thankfully, the Australian law in this situation is pretty straightforward. The person who takes a photo has immediate, free and automatic copyright over the image taken.

There are a few exclusions such as wedding photos and personal/family portraits (unless the photographer and client negotiate otherwise). And, yes, if the photographer and client (or subject of the photo) have a prior written agreement establishing copyright and usage licensing outside the law then this obviously becomes the agreement.

And that’s pretty much it folks. Though it’s perhaps not as simple as that. Photography and the use of the resulting images also involves a hefty dose of trust, by all parties involved.

The photographer should be mindful of the subject represented in any images and use/exhibit/publish them respectfully with credit, where appropriate. Likewise, if the subject of the images (or ‘client’) has copies of the images they should respect the wishes of the photographer and copyright laws and only use the images as licensed, agreed or at the very least in a respectful manner (ie. crediting the photographer).

So where does this leave me with my dilemma? I’m not sure as yet. I’ve been more than reasonable and generous with my offerings to the client and explained the basic copyright laws and I can only hope this is enough – I hope to hear back from them soon.

Whatever the result, it is a lesson learned in ensuring an agreement is signed before any images are taken…because trust is clearly not always enough.

Yours signed on the dotted line…

x Andy

Paint Permit

Plans a plenty

Posted by on Feb 10, 2011 in Blog, Goals, Life, Plans | No Comments

I’m so keen to get all my new projects going that I nearly quit my day job yesterday. Granted it was prompted by offensive behaviour from a colleague but I’m just so keen to put all my new ideas into action that I nearly dropped the ball of responsibility.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, to get things cracking successfully you have to have some plans and a timeline (unless of course you’re rich and single with no responsibilities).

I have my list of goals for the year and at the end of March I’m going to have a mini review and see how I’m tracking. I know I’ve improved my health as I’m monitoring it on a weekly basis. I’ve ticked a number of boxes to do with artistic projects and have put more effort into my relationships (which should receive an even greater boost after Valentines Day!!).

There are a couple of areas that haven’t scored points on the board in terms of practical achievements but they are bubbling away in my busy brain and should be good to go later in the year.

But life throws things at you regularly and you have to be prepared for change. So far there hasn’t been any serious spanners in the works but I feel one particular dream sliding off into next’s year’s plans. And it hurts. Because its my big one.

I would love to take 2 months off for travelling at the end of every year – for growth, learning and enjoyment but also for work. I need these journeys for material for writing and photography. For planning, discovery and connections. For enrichment and inspiration.

But alas, it may have to wait. If I’m to commit to my new (big) project I’m going to need to be home for it. Lucky I’m nearly as excited about this new work as I am about the travel.

But slowly, slowly. I have to be patient. I have to plan. I’ll probably only have one chance at this thing so I have to be smart about it.

But I also know myself well and if I don’t have a holiday planned I start getting anxious. I need the constant groundswell of excitement about an impending journey. But when and where to go? I don’t know but WAHOO I’m feeling the buzz of potential already. I’m off to make some more plans…

x Andy

Rainbow Dreaming