Time well spent

Time well spent


What is it about children that allow them to enjoy every minute of things they love? Unaltered self confidence, belief in themselves, no fear of mistakes or judgement? Whatever it is I have spent the last year and a half enjoying children and their creativity in my studio. 

I asked a group of pre-teen girls that were in the other day why they liked hanging out in the studio so much. Their answer was simple, “it’s fun and we can do things here that we can’t at home”. So- thinking about adults I would say that is the same. You can explore creativity, meet new people and relax at the studio. So why do so few of us spend the time nurturing that for ourselves?

I have set some new goals for myself this year. I will explore new hobbies, spend time carving out serious time to connect with others in my schedule, do more art (of any kind), and focus on having fun. If I can help to do this in my community for others- so be it!

Why is it always kids that have so much fun?”

I have decided to plan more events and programs that will provide opportunities for families to do things together, for people to try new creative things without intimidation and to really focus on building skills in artistic techniques.

This will take an army of educators, artists and willing participants but I feel like the time is right.

To do this I’m looking for feedback and advice from people who come to the studio, people who don’t and people who aren’t even close to Muskoka about what will make it work. I can think of a million ideas and do this all myself…. but then I wouldn’t have any time to play.

I hope to see you at the studio!


Experimentation or flop?

Experimentation or flop?

It is quite the task to come up with a variety of classes every 6-weeks. I imagined very early in this journey that I would need to get some feedback, to try new and random things and to take a chance that the classes may be the same as other places. So- I decided to go to the biggest critics. Children. Every last Friday of each month we do Testing Lab which is a time for our instructors to try out new ideas on kids and get their very real feedback about what works and what doesn’t. 

The first one was chaotic and messy and amazing. Children from 4-14 working together to have fun and try out our crazy whacky ideas. The most important part of the night for me was at the end when they told us if we were on the right track or not.

I decided that whatever the outcome, we would always try to do creative projects to keep people interested. What I didn’t realize is how much people just really enjoy doing ANY art.

I learned a lot that night and also since in the adult classes with feedback telling me that it doesn’t have to be so complicated… we can offer a variety of classes and our clients just love to do art.

Sometimes it may be what everyone else in the world is doing on Pinterest 

I will continue to try to find interesting new classes for people however there may be some cool projects we do that seem like everyone on Pinterest is doing… either way, more people in this community are doing art! Sounds good to me! Let’s keep going!

Lead With the Punch Line

Lead With the Punch Line

Month 2 in the world of active program in a business. We are all up hill from here. I am having a lot of fun, learning a ton and trying to remember that I also have a family to see once in awhile. (At least they come and see me in the studio). Life is good.  

I have always had a strange and uncanny ability to remember random numbers. It used to serve me well when I entered hundreds of payroll files, had to recall phone numbers before smart phones took over and if I ever wanted to do party tricks and shock you with your license number I happened to notice once when we met 3 years ago. Names and directions though.. that is another story.

I am having a lot of fun re-learning things and taking the lead from others.

As often as I could remember random digits, I also have a tendency to put my foot in my mouth or tell a joke and realize I’ve already ruined it with the punch line. I can’t recall instructions for a lesson plan or much less tell you what I did 10 minutes after leading a session. This is the story of my life and I’ve learned to adapt. Running an art studio has me on a steep learning curve as I need to recall those lessons from years past and teach them to others.


I am enjoying re-learning things and taking the lead from others. The studio is an amazing piece of the community- starting to form and come together while supporting each other through learning, regulars coming in and being pleasantly surprised when their friends are in the same group. From what I can tell everyone seems to be leaving the classes having either had a great time or contributed valuable feedback to us about how we can make things better.


I may not remember everything about art but the team of artists that have come together to teach at Let The Cat Go are truly inspiring to me and make me comfortable that I can continue being who I am. I will ruin your jokes and tell you your social security number AND I will also run an amazing art program. Bring it on month 3- I’m ready.


Hello Universe

I am inspired every day that I come to work. Those words used to make me cringe. I used to think that that was something that people said to cover up the fact that they really hated their jobs and it was like putting it out to the universe to see if it would actually come true.

Well, then I met Karen, Alan and Tristan. It’s been just over 2 weeks since I opened the doors of the studio and hundreds of people have come through for classes, our town’s winter festival and local schools have visited for class programs but I must say the most fulfilling for me is when the “peepers” as I call them, stop in for a chat. These are the random people that have no real idea what we do and stop in to check it out and end up staying for half an hour. I learn a lot about them and hope for that awesome exchange where we can both walk away somehow fulfilled.

These are the random people that have no real idea what we do and stop in to check it out and end up staying for half an hour.

Karen came in interested to see about what we had to offer because she no longer drives, can’t afford the cab ride out of town to local stores where she normally gets her knitting supplies and explained she is a bit more isolated socially than she used to be. She is coming back for a felting class.

Alan came in because he rents a room around the corner and had an idea to draw a picture on the windows rather than put up blinds (I convinced him probably not a great idea) and got him set up with some acetate film and sharpies. He and I chatted about drawing realistic dragons and coming in to meet more people.

Tristan came in after we had a dragon up on the window for our town’s Fire and Ice festival and he wanted to know if we would do a class on drawing tattoos. He says his dream is to be a tattoo artist when he finishes high school and really the only thing he likes to do is draw. He didn’t know we existed- we didn’t know he existed. He’s coming back for our next round of drawing classes.

Who knows if these relationships will stick or if I will see Karen, Alan and Tristan again. Some days the studio looks like the picture above and no one comes in. Even if I don’t see anyone- these stories still make me want to get up the next day and find out who was coming in next. So I think it is a reason to keep the doors open and figure out a way to connect these people together. Even if the words still make me want to barf a bit- it does inspire me every day to come to work.


Fail Fast

Fail Fast

Starting a business is kind of like going to highschool for the first time. You have to put yourself out your comfort zone, make new friends and work really hard to prove yourself all over again in every aspect of your life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love every minute of it however everyday is like an emotional rollercoaster and I have found myself reinventing the way I have worked for the last 20 years in business. It’s fabulous.

I spent a weekend recently with my best friend and mentor eating Indian food and writing my business plan while she gently prompted me to focus and refocus my goals and I learned a very fine lesson from her. FAIL FAST. At the time I have to be honest, that weekend there were a lot of things passing between us that as wisdom and laughter, I shelved as genuine nuggets as my always needed quality time with her and didn’t realize how important this one was until it actually started to happen.

This is not really something I had in mind when I envisioned the romantic view of working for myself.

Back in the trenches, planning for a business operation happens so quickly sometimes you don’t notice the passage of time. In one day I was meeting with 3 or 4 artists, a bank, my landlord, setting lesson plans for courses and trying desperately to figure out social media programs. I had changed the name of my studio 3 or 4 times in a week and the feedback was not what I had expected. My ego was bruised and my procrastination levels had hit a high. In a week the number of things that I did were becoming overwhelming and while it seemed that all things were positive, all of a sudden- they hit a wall. Whether it was my energy, momentum or just the way of things, no more calls came in, the meetings stopped and no one wanted to do classes at the studio. I was in a rut, so discouraged and feeling like it wasn’t going to work out.

I called my friend.

She reminded me- this is excellent news. You have hit a roadblock- a small failure and you have done it early so now all you need to do is refocus and decide how it can work for you rather than let it take you over. Get over it and figure out what to do with what you’ve got.

It sounded so simple to hear it come from her mouth and so simple to hear it now but it was just the kick in the pants I needed. I just wish that I had someone like her back in highschool to push me in the right direction, and to help me deal with failure quickly! Maybe I would have started a business a long time ago! Maybe then pigs would fly 🙂


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