Interview with Charity Volunteer Kara

Interview

I’ve taken a break from Fandom 5 this friday to bring you the latest interview! The wonderful Kara is here to tell us all about her involvement with the non-profit organisation Jam Tse Dhargyey Ling.

Each month I will be interviewing someone from the online world. They could be someone creative, quirky, geeky or a fellow spoonie. I’m really not picky; the whole point of this is to open up dialogue, share with the world and if you wish, bring awareness to your work or a cause. Interviews are open to anyone who wishes to take part so if you’re interested in volunteering please check out the Interview information page.

 

The Interview

Hi Kara, please tell us a bit about yourself!

Hi all! I’m a 26 year old Australian who shed the shackles of the “normal” life I’d been living, and found my way to New Zealand with little but a suitcase and my best friend. Since being here, I have become involved with a Tibetan Buddhist non profit (the Jam Tse Dhargyey Ling centre), helping to organise events such as Sand Mandalas, public dharma teachings, and Thangka art classes, along with fundraising and campaigning for causes such as the conflict in Tibet and the recovery efforts for the earthquake-stricken Nepal. I work alongside volunteers, Buddhist practitioners, nuns, monks, and a experienced Geshe (high lama/teacher) to bring aid to those in need, and learning to all who seek it.

How did you get involved with Jam Tse Dhargyey Ling?

The most ironic thing about all of this is that I didn’t really get into it… it actually more so found me. After I uprooted myself from my stable Australian life, left my friends and family and long term job as a kitchen designer, I found myself kind of wandering aimlessly, unsure of what in the world I was supposed to be doing. I’d always been a very busy person who filled every hour of the day with work and friends and family and kitty snuggles, but yet here I was being asked to completely redefine myself in how many ways. Who do you become without that work, those friends and family, that lovely kitty to snuggle? I’ve always been the kind of person who very much believes in jumping and building your wings on the way down, but I will admit that I started to feel immensely threatened by the notion that perhaps I wouldn’t actually be able to build something that would carry me anywhere before I crashed down to the bottom. It was after seeing a post on a Facebook community noticeboard asking for volunteers for an event where a Tibetan Sand Mandala (an intricate mandala made entirely with individual grains of coloured sand) would be constructed on Waiheke that my enthusiasm sprung to life – I was so excited at the idea of being able to help out and maybe even do something like make a meal for these wonderful Tibetan Monks! Little did I know that it would be a single Facebook message that would change the course of my life. I was given a phone call and then asked to meet a local Maori leader in charge of the Piritahi Marae (sacred Maori land), where the event would be held – and within a few moments of conversation, this gentleman was insistent that I was precisely the person that they needed. I wasn’t going to cook for the monks. I was not going to direct visitors. I was going to organise all the volunteers for the entire thing.

How many years have you been doing it?

I’ve been interested in charitable event organisation for quite some time, and even back in Australia I was constantly involved in helping to organise spiritual events and the sort for local businesses, but it wasn’t until 2015 that it really took hold for me and became something that I centred my life and career around. It has been the community and sense of family found within the centre I’m a part of that has really solidified everything for me.

What does your charity work mean to you?

This is the hardest question in the world, because I can’t fathom a way to put into words how precisely everything that I do makes my heart sing. It seems tacky to say that “it means the world”, but that is the first thing that springs to my mind, regardless. The work that I do is something that resonates within my very soul. It gives me the opportunity to reach out to people, to get people involved in events and occurrences that are bigger than them, and bigger than the daily lives that we all lead. It reminds me, each and every day, that there are people out there fighting for the greater good, that there are people whose entire life purpose is to bring peace, joy, clarity and kindness to others. I am able to help those people, and hopefully, through my work, become one of them. We are able, as a team, to reach out to people – whether that is by helping a single human being who is struggling with the darkness that they find in their own soul, who we can give the opportunity to come to a community, a place, an event where they feel at peace, or it is by sending funds to monks working in places like Nepal, where each dollar that you can raise will go entirely towards funding schooling for orphaned children, rebuilding homes, giving opportunity of employment, feeding the starving. Sometimes, all I can do is offer someone a smile, some perspective, a ray of sunlight within the day as I work within the charity store that I manage, that has been set up to support everything that we do. But regardless, big or small, I am blessed each day with the opportunity to help – and it brings me incredible peace to be able to do so.

What was the first time you realised that was what you wanted to do?

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve been drawn towards helping others. As an Empath, growing up was a constant battle between my emotions, the emotions of everyone else, and an overwhelmingly crushing feeling of never being able to do enough to help. As I grew older, I sought out ways to assist and to heal, throwing myself into multiple charities, causes, movements, but never really finding an outlet that soothed my soul while I did it.. it all threatened to become too much. It was the peace and clarity that I found when we first opened up the Sand Mandala that affirmed to me that perhaps, within this, I had found a place that I could stay.

What is your proudest moment?

My proudest moment was undoubtedly the dissolution of the Sand Mandala. I’d been working behind the scenes for months ahead of time, trying to organise enough volunteer manpower to staff a 12-day event. The location, the supplies, and the monks were already provided for me, but everything else needed to be organised from my end. We would need a team of at least 20 volunteers able to run a kitchen, cook, clean and bake, care for the Marae, attend the monks, man our merchandise table, and direct guests, as well as answer any questions that might come our way. We would need – from limited funds – to organise enough food to feed the monks, the volunteers, and, in the beautiful tradition of the Marae, any of the visitors who came to experience the building of the mandala. We would need to advertise the event, gain support from the local community and the backing of Waiheke businesses. We would need to be prepared for an opening ceremony, and a closing ceremony, in which we would see hundreds of people flood our doorstep to bear witness to the creation, and the dissolution, of this incredible, intricate piece of sand-art. And at the end of this incredible 12 day event, where we had seen countless smiling faces light up with awe, where we had fed morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea to thousands of people, where we cared for and tended not just the monks but also our Marae, where we had sold endless incense and prayer beads and flags to people wanting to support the centre, where I had found myself, lost myself, found myself again, discovered relationships that would last a lifetime, meditated, laughed, cried, played, and lived for 12 solid days – there I was, standing in the ocean, one single part of a gigantic line, engaging in a Maori tradition of “sharing breath” with the person beside you, holding hands with two of the people who mean the most to me in the absolute world, watching as hundreds of people linked together and braved the surf and the wind to unite as our monks and beloved Geshe sent the blessed sand along with offerings of flowers and plants out into the ocean, with the hopes that the energy that we had all invested being able to help other countless beings, as well. I was overwhelmed with pride, not just in myself, but in every one of my 20+ volunteers, in our local Marae leaders, in the monks and our Geshe, and in every visitor and guest who took the time to come, to witness, to walk in circles, to pray, to meditate, to breathe and exist, laugh and cry, to find themselves, right alongside me.

What are your goals for the future? What do you hope to achieve?

I would love to continue to help with the centre, and also branch out into further event organisation to help raise support and acknowledgement for causes and charities that are close to my heart. We, as human beings, are given the potential to reach out to one another, and to make a difference. I know that I am incredibly blessed, and I am very lucky to be given an opportunity to help others – and I feel that it is thus my responsibility, but also my heartfelt desire, to use any skills I may have to bring peace, kindness, awareness, clarity, assistance, growth and healing, to other people in need.

What was the best advice you were ever given?

Once upon a time, I was given a promise, that if I simply remembered to “just breathe”, all things would pass, and I would find myself in a time and a place where even if things weren’t okay, I would have the capability to make them so. It is the simplest advice in the world, really – just breathe – but it’s incredible how hard it can be at times. I will admit, though, that the gentleman who shared such advice with me has never been wrong – and that by taking the time to continue, to persevere, to hold space, to simply breathe, I have learned valuable life skills that have gotten me through anything that has ever been thrown into my path.

Any advice for others wanting to get into charity work?

Find something that sets your soul alight. Do  not settle for things that you care a little bit about, but continue to seek the cause, the person, the place, the inspiration that will set fire to your soul and lift you to the highest person that you can be. And when you do find that thing, because you will…give it all the breath you have in your body. Fan those flames, always. Your passion is everything.

 

Now for some random questions…

If you were the god/goddess of anything, what would it be?

Oh, my! This is the hardest question in the world to answer! I would say that I would want to be the Goddess of the Soul – not because I feel that I’m particularly good at managing peoples souls or anything, but because everything that I have based my life around has been intended to grow the soul. I believe in passion, in meaning, in emotion, in any of the things that will make a persons soul sing – and I love to see that in people, because when our souls are dancing, we as human beings are at our best, our most beautiful, and most wondrous.

What would your animal form be?

Do mythical creatures count as animals? Because if so, my answer is undoubtedly the Phoenix. I have built a magnificent life from ashes in a lot of situations. I believe in adaptability, and that adversity will make us strong. Rising from the ashes is the most beautiful thing in the world. Picking a more worldly creature, however, I would turn to the Wolf – loyal, courageous, fierce, protective, pack-oriented, and defensive.

Do you have any fun quirks?

I can break out into song at any moment. Literally, I will have a song for any moment in time, and I will usually accompany said song with some ridiculous vocal tricks and even worse dance moves!

Do you collect anything?

Seashells and gemstones. I want the majesty of the earth around me at all times. I feel like these little gifts are the Gods reminders that no matter how harsh humanity may seem, the world herself, she is beautiful.

 

And finally; time for a shameless plug:

Please check out the website for the Jam Tse Dhargyey Ling centre at www.mandala.org.nz 🙂

Interview with Youtuber Hanii

Interview

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while now due to RL being so up in the air, so I am proud to bring you the third interview here at Ruby Wings Blog; the gorgeous Hanii. Hanii is my adopted little sister and as you’ll see in the interview she is a lovely talented soul who has her fingers in many pots! Today she’s here to talk about youtube, JPop and KPop 🙂

Introduction

hanii

 

Howdyyy! 😀 My name is Hannah, or Hanii, and I’m a dork. XD Also, I’m a dancer on YouTube and a lover of all things cute, pink, anime, manga and Hello Kitty! I love to cosplay, sing, dance, sew, talk with my friends and watch Disney movies. :3

 

 

The Interview

Hi …. please tell us a bit about yourself!

Hellooo! My name is Hanii, though I used to go by Hannah or Hannie before. I just had a birthday and turned 26. I joined the online world when I was about 10 years old on Neopets and have been a part of various communities and lovely groups of people ever since. It’s a bit weird to think that’s been nearly 2/3 of my life. I love all things nerdy and am in a group that plays tabletop RPGs together–I also play League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm, among many other console games. I’m super into Pokemon, and work as a librarian, so I love books. I’m also mildly obsessed with anything on BBC–specifically Orphan Black (it’s technically a part of BBC!) and Sherlock. I’m basically a huge dork who loves to talk about how much of a dork she is on YouTube!

How did you get into YouTube ?

I’ve bounced around between all sorts of media and always loved being able to use my creativity. When I was active in the Fanlistings community, a friend at the time, Korey, had asked me to upload myself singing–we were both super into Broadway music and theatre. We weren’t sure how to record or upload it, so we decided I’d take a video facing upside-down, record my voice, then put it on YouTube unlisted for only him. Before I knew it, I was trying to learn Japanese, so I was uploading public videos of myself dancing to music from Anime and then singing to it.

How many years have you been doing it?

Gosh, I want to say 6 or 7 years now. It’s terrible but I have no idea when my channel’s “anniversary” is and most everyone else I know even celebrates it each year. I love my channel but I’ve never been good with dates.

What does your work mean to you?

It’s part of what gets me up in the morning. When I’m depressed, I can always find a way to get in front of my camera or record myself singing to try and bring up my mood. One of my saddest days recently, the only thing that made me happy was filming a new video. It’s a way I can visually connect with people (especially my friends) visually, while promoting something I love in hopes that maybe someone else loves it or will find interest in it as well. YouTube allows me to spread my wings in all directions with my creativity as well. It’s just so fun.

What was the first time you realised that was what you wanted to do?

I realized I wanted to pursue having a YouTube channel officially when I found channels of other people doing something similar to me and connecting through it. I started to make my videos public and received an insane amount of positive feedback. I was shocked that anyone would want to watch me flailing around in cosplay, but it was something that gave me joy. I put a lot of time and effort into making my costumes and learning the dances–the feedback made all that work feel 100% worth it, so I decided to keep at it and expand what I was doing.

What is your proudest moment?

This is so silly, but it was placing in a competition this big YouTuber in our community of anisong dancers (KimonoTime–though I think she changed the name of her channel) was having in my first year or so of posting videos. I worked super hard on the dance and had no expectations of doing well at all. I went to work the morning the winners were announced and my phone was just blowing up. At the time, there wasn’t really a Facebook messaging app and even the Facebook app was sort of buggy on my phone, but I had all these notifications from there and from my email. My friends were all so happy for me and the emails were tons and tons of new subscribers. I think I went from like 400 to 700 in just a few hours. I’m still very grateful that I received her support back then. She’s super nice–we even share a birthday!

What was the first piece of work you ever sold?

I was actually paid to sing in an anisong cover contest. We didn’t win, but the lovely girl in charge insisted she pay me for my services. It was a pretty difficult song–from Sword Art Online, if anyone reading knows what I’m talking about, and I was super grateful for the extra money that month.

What are your goals for the future? What do you hope to achieve?

My biggest goal is to keep at trying to put out two new videos related to Jpop or Kpop a month. Ideally, I’d like to start covering dances again, but I find I just don’t have the time needed to practice enough. I think if I can keep that up and reopen a blog that I regularly update, I can raise my subscriber count. I have no intention to ever try and be a YouTuber full time, but I definitely want to keep trying to grow my audience!

What was the best advice you were ever given?

Do what makes you happy–if something stops being enjoyable, find something new that is.

Any advice for others wanting to get into your hobby?

You don’t need an amazing camera or editing equipment and never let the lack of those (or even the lack of money) stop you. I know it’s standard now for beginning YouTubers to have all sorts of equipment off the bat, but it isn’t necessary. Find your niche and just press record. I’ve actually stopped using my nice camera and am using my iPhone for recording these days. I’d love to buy a DSLR one day, or, really, any camera that blurs the background in videos, but my iPhone works perfectly. There are free editing programs out there and, if you have a Mac, I 10/10 recommend iMovie. Just have fun and be yourself–people will find you in time and you will meet wonderful people. Also, never be afraid to communicate with your viewers or with YouTubers you watch. I started my channel at nothing, then started commenting on other channels similar to mine where I met some friends I’m still close with years later. We supported each other and still do, even though we’ve taken different paths with our channels and lives.

 

Now for some random questions…

If you were the god/goddess of anything, what would it be?

Goddess of Positive Energy–some times I feel so energetic I’m going to burst, and it doesn’t always come out in a happy manner. I’d love to inspire positivity everywhere and use my energy to do so.

What would your animal form be?

CAT. I love cats. I suppose, specifically, a white tiger, so I can be both beautiful and extremely terrifying at the same time. I definitely relate most to felines, even though I love most every animal (except fish–I really dislike fish).

Do you have any fun quirks?

I’ve been told I have an innate ability to dress in items that should never go together but make them look like they do. LOL I sort of love that about myself. In terms of personality, I am definitely seen as spacey. I always know what’s going on, but I’m probably 10 steps ahead in the conversation in my mind, so I’ll often get lost, which comes across as having no idea what’s happening around me.

Do you collect anything?

I collect Japanese idol photos and items related to my favorite line-up of the JPop group, S/mileage. In Japanese idol groups, the members will often change up, so the member line-up can be different. I also collect Disney tsumtsums, but only from movies I’m super into (I still need to get the Lion King set!!). Going along with the tsums, I really love stuffed animals and always have, so I tend to pick those up from time to time. My favorites right now are a Lucky from 101 Dalmatians “pillow pet” and a giant Domo (Japanese character). Domo sits next to me on my bed and is like a foot and a half tall. I admit, some times I get quite confused and think there is a monster on my bed until I realize it’s just Domo.

 

And finally; time for a shameless plug:

Please do check out my YouTube channel, if you’re at all into JPop or KPop. I talk about the music, sing the songs, eat the food–and some times do unboxings or hauls related to both cultures. I would like to start a proper blog up again, so check me out and help inspire me to do that! http://youtube.com/user/itshanni3

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Interview with Writer & Coach Mandi

Interview

Welcome to the second month of interviews here at Ruby Wings Blog. Last month we had the lovely Jen Pattison, talented artist extraordinaire. This month I’d like to introduce you to another of my good friends, Mandi!

 

Introduction

mandi

Mandi is a writer, writing practice coach and dreamer empowering the writerly insides of those who choose to step into the spotlight.

She is breaking internal editors, sabotages and procrastinators to bring writing into the lives of every day women and men to help them feel at home insides their haven created by a writing practice that empowers and motivates them to get more out of life

The Interview

Hi Mandi please tell us a bit about yourself!

Hi! I’m Mandi and I’m a writer, editor, day dreamer and writing coach over at Dreaming Fully Awake and I work with writers who want to learn about getting a writing practice that’s full of grace and heart into place. I am a personal trainer that their writing needs giving them the accountability and loving nudge to get things posted, finished and out in the world.

How did you get into writing?

I’ve always been a writer, well that’s a lie, I first penned my first serious story at 12 and it was about a boy band who shall not be mentioned and I sorta of ran with it. It wasn’t until I hit my early 20s that I realised just how beautiful it would be to help people figure out how to make their writing better. And lets be honest, I loved to get emotions from people, whether it’s love, hate, disgust or whatever I wanted to make people feel that and I wanted to help others get the chance to do it.

How many years have you been doing it?

I started to do it seriously about a two years ago when I enrolled into B-School and did Bright Eyed and BlogHearted to help hone my vision and get me where I realy wanted o do.

What does your writing mean to you?

Everything. It’s my life support, it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning and it’s what gets me going. I use it as way to escape, a way to celebrate, as a respite as life itself. Every possibly way has a use for me.

What was the first time you realised that was what you wanted to do?

It was probably around the time that I actually had my high school teacher check my wrists after I wrote a story. It was such a powerful and livid moment. It has always stuck and that was the unconscious moment, the conscious moment was when I was sitting in one of my classes at uni and I had a classmate tell me that he was physically revolted by something I wrote but I definitely should keep up with it.

From there things came naturally. I wanted to be a writing coach because I love to write but most of all I love being able to help others realise how fun writing is.

What is your proudest moment?

When my clients just get it. I can see that moment where it snaps on and my clients are like I totally know what you mean now, and it’s such a high to be able to watch them get to that point.

What was the first product you ever sold?

My editing services to a friend! It was probably my proudest moment and also my defining moment. I learned through his project that I was seriously underselling myself!

What are your goals for the future? What do you hope to achieve?

I’m hoping to have a successful business, where I can help women and men, alike, write and get on track but mostly I really want to get published. I want to hold my novel, physically in my hand, in all it’s glory and beauty.

What was the best advice you were ever given?

Don’t give up. Keep your chin up no matter what.

Any advice for others wanting to get into your field?

Start reading. Read like it’s going out of fashion and then keep reading and then try writing. Write until your fingers are numb and you can’t remember what real life feels like or that you need to wash your hair or have a shower, because it’ll make you a better writer and your writing will thank you for it later.

Now for some random questions…

If you were the god/goddess of anything, what would it be?

Oh, I love this! I love Persephone, but the whole being kidnapped and tricked by an uncle really is terrifying…so perhaps Artemis. I really do love finding my way around a bow and arrow…

What would your animal form be?

Cat. 110% my animal form would be a cat, they have the best lives, they get to sleep, eat and get cuddles. It’s great.

Do you have any fun quirks?

I have to listen to music when I’m writing or I can’t concentrate. It’s the same with my reading. Everyone thinks I’m crazy!

Do you collect anything?

Notebooks…seriously, the prettier the better, I’m terrified of using them so I just collect them. And they gather dust. Although sometimes I do forget I’m collecting them and use them! Ha!

 

And finally; time for a shameless plug:

If you want to work with me as either an editing client or a writing client, head over to http://dreamingfullyawake.com/work-with-me/

Follow me on instagram: http://instagram.com/mandikont Facebook: http://facebook.com/dreamingfullyawake twitter: @mandikont

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Interview with Artist Jen Pattison

Interview

Welcome to the first in a series of interviews here at Ruby Wings Blog. Each month I will be interviewing someone from the online world. They could be someone creative, quirky, geeky or a fellow spoonie. I’m really not picky; the whole point of this is to open up dialogue, share with the world and if you wish, bring awareness to your work or a cause. Interviews are open to anyone who wishes to take part so if you’re interested in volunteering please check out the Interview information page.

 

Introduction

I am very lucky to have the wonderful Jen Pattison, a talented artist who I am lucky enough to call a friend. She is the one responsible for creating one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received, so I am ever so slightly biased 😉 I hope you enjoy the interview!

 

The Interview

Hi Jenny, please tell us a bit about yourself!

I am a Scottish 2D artist working in illustration, portraiture, game/animation asset art, concept art and comics colouring. I freelance, working remotely with clients all over the world.

How did you get into your profession?

I have a 2 year college qualification in illustration and an honours degree in animation. I contacted a company, Infamous Adventures, online in my final year of art school and started working with them on fan remakes of old Sierra adventure titles but the company decided to go commercial after I’d only been there a few weeks so I stepped into a character design role and we sought crowdfunding through Kickstarter to make our own IP, under the new company name Infamous Quests. I have since worked on another two adventure games with IQ and we have another on the way soon.

How many years have you been doing it?

I have been drawing and painting every day for about the past eight years but I’ve been working in the industry, as a freelancer for about 4.

What does your work mean to you?

I think maybe illustration/work for hire differs from other, more self-driven art disciplines in that you are mostly just producing work to someone else’s specifications, so often the work is more of a craft than self-expression. It does make it all the more special when you get to work on a project that you have a personal passion for, because it’s in an art style you enjoy or it’s for a type of game you would choose to play yourself.

What was the first time you realised that was what you wanted to do?

I come from a family of artists so I always liked the vague idea of being one as a child but when I started playing pc games from Sierra and LucasArts I was so taken with the environments and art styles that I knew then I wanted to work for a company like that. Of course by the time I was old enough to, those companies were either long gone or not making those types of games anymore, but once I had gone through art school there was a small revival underway at least!

What is your proudest moment?

I think finishing every project or commission feels like a bit of a victory but the day we wrapped production on Quest for Infamy and I saw it live on the Steam homepage was a proud moment for me.

What was the first artwork you ever sold?

I actually sold an old painting I did of an eye on the back of a tshirt with fabric paints to one of my best friends. It is harder than you expect to let go of original artwork (I work almost exclusively digitally these days) so I was glad it was going to a good home!

What are your goals for the future? What do you hope to achieve?

I think my goals are pretty generic, really. I already love what I do, I just want to keep improving as an artist, learning new skills, connecting with more peers, and keep a nice steady stream of work coming in!

What was the best advice you were ever given?

When I was just starting out I asked around a lot for advice on my portfolio, and generally on how to go about getting my foot in the door. The best, most practical piece of advice I got was from Adam Duff, a games concept artist working in Canada. He told me to spend time on the parts of an image I was having trouble with and really make the effort to make sense of them, rather than trying to fudge my way through because even if it takes you five hours to get that hand right now, you’ll do it in half the time on your next image!

Any advice for others wanting to get into your field?

There are lots of different ways to approach a career in art, even just within illustration but the most important things are to keep practising all the time and to keep networking/self promoting. When you are working on personal projects for your portfolio, make the kind of art you want to be hired/commissioned for and don’t be shy, get out there and show people, whether it’s on social media, your online portfolio, or at local conventions/shows.

 

Now for some random questions…

If you were the god/goddess of anything, what would it be?

I’d probably be the goddess of pyjamas and forgetting to hoover!

What would your animal form be?

I have been told repeatedly by one of my more regular clients that I am a tiny hippo, so I guess they’ve answered that question for me!

Do you have any fun quirks?

I can drink a glass of wine using my feet instead of my hands. Maybe my animal should be a monkey instead? haha

Do you collect anything?

When I was a kid I collected stamps for a while, and semi-precious stones. I also had a guitar-badge from almost every Hard Rock Cafe in the world (my dad travelled a lot!). I try to keep clutter to a minimum these days as I have way too much stuff so I don’t collect anything other than too many games in my Steam library.

 

And finally; time for a shameless plug:

You can check out games I’ve worked on that are available on Steam, GOG and Humble store: Quest for Infamy, Order of the Thorne: The King’s Challenge, and Serena. Or you can find me on twitter: @Estirdalin for news on current/future projects and a lot of art WIPs/general nonsense.