CREATIVE HEROES: Jade Th’ng

17 04 2016

When I started this series my idea was simple; interview people who were living fully creative lives. I often say our lives make sense in hindsight. That’s especially true when you reflect back on your life as a creative journey. The interviews, so far, have been people looking back on long, adventurous journeys. This interview is someone at the beginning of their adult journey.

jade cover

Jade Th’ng is a talented, smart, beautiful woman in her mid twenties. As a child she preferred crafts to dolls and Office Depot with its endless supply of markers, pens and pencils, to Toys R Us. She would be the last one to finish when working on a group creative project, paying attention to the tiniest details. She was drawn to music. She says it has it own language; one that all musicians—around the world and throughout the centuries—understand. She also always loved the sound of applause. Her audience could be just her parents when 4-year old Jade sang the entire Sound of Music score to keep from going to bed to 17-year old Jade performing an oboe concerto in front of a full theater.

Crafts

Creative projects

As a teen she was still creating; sewing and making jewelry, painting and drawing, baking and decorating cupcakes. She started a jewelry business with her mom called Nekkid Girls Designs. I know all this, because I’m that mom. Both her father and I are graphic designers, so she grew up in a home where creativity and making things were just what we did.

Performing

Always performing

Jade entered college as a music major. She hit a roadblock her sophomore year when she recognized she was not thriving. This future of being a musician did not fill her with passion and her grades suffered. Changing majors was a hard, tear-filled decision. She meandered for a while and it took her 6 years to graduate. She ended up with a liberal arts degree with three seemingly unrelated concentrations; Italian, film, and communication. Her Nana never understood and kept asking when Jade was going to cook her an Italian meal, since she was studying Italian.

jewelry

Jade made her first pair of earrings at nine. She’s still making jewelry.

Learning Italian allowed her to be an au pair in Italy one summer for the only daughter of a pair of doctors. She polished her writing skills with a quirky and funny blog chronicling her adventures called “Twenty-One in Tuscany”. Her jewelry making skills creatively connected her to the strong Italian mother in a way that nothing else did. She also returned home with a wonderful authentic lasagna recipe and her  Bellini’s now make brunch a memorable event. So her Italian did make her a good Italian cook, which pleased her Nana.

Italy

Jade in Italy from a summer as an au pair. She brought a great lasagna and Bellini recipe home.

Student jobs included waiting tables, bartending, and working in production on TV commercial sets. Her sewing skills put her in the wardrobe department and she once made a caveman costume for a small budget commercial. Her attention to detail led her to assisting Louisiana’s top food stylist for several national commercial brands.

In her meandering she took a class that ignited a new passion—screenwriting. She discovered while her classmates were all writing dramas; she had a talent for writing comedy. She once filmed me for a mockumentary to talk about the evils of Comic Sans (my own personal nemesis).

After graduating, she knew she wanted to pursue comedy and set her sights on Chicago. She studied comedians she admired, like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. What many of these comedians shared was learning comedy and improv in the windy city, Chicago—1000 miles away from the sleepy, southern city she grew up in. So off Jade went last summer, to what is her unofficial graduate school. She’s taking comedy classes at the renowned iO Theater, she’s honing her writing skills, she’s getting her work produced on stage, and she’s waiting tables to pay the bills. She has also found a creative tribe of friends who are creating their own art while starting their own adult lives.

I know one day all her skills will fuse together. It will make sense in hindsight. I don’t know where her journey is going to take her, but I do know that creativity will always be a part of her life. She is making her dreams happen. She is living a fully creative life. That is why Jade, my baby girl, is a creative hero. She will always have my applause.

Click here to watch an extended conversation with Jade (be sure to watch the very end—it’s the best part).

screen shot

Click here to read other CREATIVE HEROES stories

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She Who Weeps* (Part 2 of 2)

15 09 2014

weeperConnecting, sharing our authentic selves are gifts we give the world. I’ve been trying to write about “the Process of Creativity” workshop I facilitated this summer, but have been unable to find the words. The creative journey sometimes takes longer than planned and leads us in unexpected directions. It was not until I burst into tears in front of the Rev. Deanna Vandiver that my lessons from this summer’s workshop became clear. You can click here to read Part 1 of this story.

* I’m a big crier and come from a family of criers. Someone once told me my Indian name was, “She Who Weeps”. This story contains tears of joy as well as tears of sadness.

My Creative Journey Continues

ripple

I often say that our actions are like tossing a stone into water. We don’t always know where the ripple will land. It is a gift from the universe when we learn of a ripple’s impact.

My workshop on the creative process was fun and interactive. My belief is that if you understand your strengths as well as your obstacles, then you can become better at achieving your goals. Creativity to me is problem solving.

I expanded my 2-hour workshop to an all day event. Two artist-writer educators joined me with hands-on activities. My session brought the intellect and their contributions brought the heart. It was a terrific marriage of right and left brain working together.

And just like my tearful moment with Rev. Vandiver, there were many moments of authentic connections when presenters and audience expose our vulnerable selves to each other.

In my own introduction I talk about dealing with my fears. I tell what my skydiving adventure meant to me. It helped me to move past the fears that were keeping me from my dreams. Here’s a link to that story, Taking the Leap

As one presenter introduced the next, another authentic and powerful story was told. Therese spoke of being desperately lost in a life that didn’t allow her creative spirit to blossom. As she felt her own spirit withering, she heard about a neighbor who was an artist. When she would see this artist walk down the street, Therese saw the life she longed for, yet seemed unobtainable. She saw this artist as a creative vision of possibility. She held on to that vision as she left her old life and began anew. Jacquie was the workshop’s next presenter and had been Therese’s neighbor years ago. Therese told her artist friend Jacquie that story for the first time that day in front of everyone. This was another holy moment that brought tears to my eyes.

Jacquie had no idea that she was someone’s beacon of hope. She was just living her life, but the authenticity that radiated from her allowed someone else to find their way back to their own creative spirit.

So how does this all connect?
After my cry in front of the Reverend (part 1 of this story), our conversation didn’t end. The Red Shoes is another organization that brought the speaker we were both waiting to hear and it is The Red Shoes that housed my Process of Creativity workshop. It was a natural segue to tell Rev. Vandiver about this great organization and that I had just put on a workshop on the creative process there and what a wonderful experience it had been.

She then asked me if I would be interested in coming to New Orleans to put on my workshop. Of course I said yes. Rev. Vandiver is community minister to three congregations and is the Executive Director of The Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal. It is at the Center where I’ll be on October, 4th facilitating my workshop.

It’s always a gift to see where the ripples of our actions land and to learn of our interconnectivity. It’s also important to remember that the ripples continue even if we don’t see the impact. When you are true to your authenticity and know that your actions come from love, know that you are impacting the world. May we all act out of love on our creative journey.

My Process of Creativity workshop would not have been possible with these fabulous women and organizations:

Wendy Hersham of the Red Shoes who shared her wisdom and opened the Red Shoes to my idea. The day would not have happened without you.

Teresa Knowles, a wonderful woman and artist who shared her art and wisdom. Your story of vulnerability still brings me to tears whenever I think of that special day.

Jacquie Parker, your gentle words and art are a beam of light that shines from your creative soul. It is a gift to know you.

 Robin McAndrew and the Community School at the Arts Council of GBR who believed and supported my vision from the beginning and allowed me to grow. You are a real friend and a blessing to my life.





Life is Like a Song

19 08 2013

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It has been a season filled with friends and music. Songs speak to us and can bring us back to special moments in our lives. From road trips, to weddings, to milestone birthdays, this season’s songs have kept singing to me of love and friendship.

If dreams were thunder
Lightening was desire
This old house would’ve burned down 
A long time ago
—Angel from Montgomery, sung by Bonnie Raitt and by me in my car driving to see her

I took a road trip across the south to listen to Bonnie Raitt perform at the classic Sanger theater in downtown Mobile. Her music has been playing in the background for more than half of my life. The real reason for the trip was to hang out with one of my dearest and oldest friends. She and I have shared our life’s stories over countless cups of coffee and equally countless glasses of wine. There’s been times when I’ve fled to sit on her porch to cry over lost love, but mostly we get together and laugh. We’ve watched our children grow up, seen our life upsized, downsized, our intimate relationships shift and change, our careers evolve and we have always accepted each other for who we are.

We’ve always said when we get old, we’re going to open a Voodoo Shoppe in the French Quarter and live above it and yell at people from our balcony as they pass by on the street. Sometimes we practice what we would yell from her porch overlooking her pool to imaginary people…this always makes us cackle. Bonnie Raitt, John Prine, New Orleans Jazz Fest—music is always playing in the background of our friendship.

And when I tell you that I love you oh
You’re gonna say you love me too oh
—I Should Have Known Better, a Beatles tune sung by my daughter at a friend’s wedding

My daughter is a musician. Her school years were filled with piano/flute/oboe/choir performances. She stepped away from her music for a short while and has recently rediscovered it with an unlikely instrument, the ukulele. She’s playing and singing for the pure joy of it these days. A casual video of her singing caught the attention of a work friend as she began to plan her wedding. And before too much time had passed, there was my baby girl playing her old flute and her new ukulele and singing in her beautiful clear voice at the wedding. With the setting sun backlighting the scene, a fresh take on an old Beatles classic was a perfect song to float in the air at this lovely outdoor wedding. My friend, the bride is closer to my daughter in age and they have become friends.

The bride’s grandmother is an amazing energetic 94-year-old who got up with the band at the reception and sang “Jambalaya”. Her grandmother recently discovered jello shots. She’ll tell you in her southern drawl, “Yes, they are delicious, I like to make mine with bourbon.” We’ve discovered several unexpected connections between our families. There we all were, new friends with old family connections spanning generations, singing and dancing and celebrating with the bride and groom the beginning of their journey together.

Songs about hope and dreams
Songs about loving everything
—Beneath these Strings, a song by friend Martin Flanagan on his new first-ever CD

Flyin Alligator waterfront lounge

Friends and family gathered to celebrate a milestone birthday of my sweetie. A cool, crisp night, under a full moon with it’s long refection across the dark river, sitting on a pier that bridges the space between land and water. Full of gumbo, drink in hand, surrounded by friendships that spilled across decades. A night full of storytelling and reminders of long-forgotten stories. Listening to friends sing their songs and play their music. Well…it all made for a magical evening that took my breath away. I’m also thankful no one fell off that pier.

My sweetie and I have been friends for over thirty years. We know many of the same songs that have been milestones in our separate lives. We’re approaching our fourth year anniversary of our first kiss. Life, love and friendship are all singing together this season.

At last
My love has come along 
My lonely days are over 
And life is like a song
—At Last, me and my sweetie’s song

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Birthing an Idea

4 11 2012

I am in labor right now. The gestation period is coming to an end. I’m birthing an idea. My partner and I are creating a brand new business. This isn’t the first idea we’ve given birth to, but it’s the first business we’ve created together. We know that once an idea is born, it takes on a life of it’s own. I’ll be a working mom. I’m not quitting my day job to take care of this baby. I work in Marketing at one of the largest OB hospitals in the country, so this birthing analogy is natural for me. I’m still waiting for my real baby girl to be totally self-supporting. Time will tell if either of these babies will eversupport me!

If the idea of starting a business was inception, the first labor pain was coming up with the name.That name became Greenview Designs. Why Greenview? It’s the literal
avenue where our creative journey starts every day. It’s our creative oasis. It’s where we grow ideas.

Our vision is a business that houses different kinds of design and nurtures creativity. Together we have decades worth of talent and experience of turning ideas into things. We want our idea to grow into what it wants to be and will give it the freedom to go where life takes it.  I like the story of FAB. It started out as one business model and evolved into something else. That something is even more fabulous than the original
idea. 

Our starting concept is that Greenview Design is a design and strategy company. We’ll
facilitate workshops on creativity and innovation; offer graphic design services; commercial TV/video producing and production expertise; branding and marketing consultation. We’ll transfer your VHS tape to a DVD. And we’ll nurture a personal passion—custom furniture design.

Procrastination is really a part of the creative process. I’m good at this phase. Finally after spending some quality time procrastinating, I pushed and pushed and a logo was finally created. Designers put extra pressure on themselves when designing something for themselves. I treated myself as a client and came up with three options. Then I made it my partner’s job to pick one. Here’s a bit of the process work.

First ideas are
rarely the best in logo design.

After I did
this, I realized I’m watching too much
HGTV.

Clean, classic
and simple.

The chosen logo.

The Hurricane Bar is the first custom built furniture that was created under the Greenview Designs umbrella. Here are a few more examples of custom furniture that’s available.

Chef’s
Table

Shaker Step-Back
Cupboard

This blog is about
my creative journey, so it’s seems appropriate that the birth of
our business is shared here. I’ll keep you updated with this baby’s
progress. Facebook, Pinterest and a website will be among it’s
first milestones.  We’re still deciding who gets the president
or the CEO title, which reminds me, I better design that business
card.

HEE, HEE,
HOO.

An idea is born into the
world.  Watch it grow!

Contact us at:
greenviewdesigns@gmail.com





Miracle Balls

16 07 2012

This blog post is like one of those movies where there are several stories that seem unrelated, but come together in the end.

Backstory 1

I love process books. That’s a book that breaks something down into small doable steps to achieve a goal. One that’s pretty well known is “The Artist’s Way”. But the one I’m reading now is on “Making Miracles” . I’ve been reading this for months and months. I like to read it only when I wake up really early (5 AM) and have quiet meditative time, to read, meditate and journal. And even though I love this quiet time and to awaken with the world and hear the birds sing and see the sky lighten and savor the silence, I really love sleep.

This book is about creating and making miracles happen in your life. I really do have miracles happen to me all the time. The key is to be aware when they are happening and to savor them and be thankful for them. This blog will highlight my miracles as well as -my goofiness, because it’s all the same journey that I am stumbling through.

Backstory 2

The chapter I’m reading is about manifesting something real in your life. The exercise is to imagine something that you can hold in your hand. It can be anything. But to totally imagine it, what it looks, like, feels like, it’s totally real in your mind. And then let it go. And wait and watch till it comes to you. I imagine a small multi-shaped star. It is silver and shiny—I like shiny things— like a charm you could wear on a necklace.

Backstory 3

I started following Fab.com when I saw a few FB posts from designers that they had bought something from them. Fab has a great marketing story. They now send me lots of emails most of which I delete.

So months go by and I forget about this. And one day when insomnia hits I am looking at my Kindle in the middle of the night and click on the Fab email. And there were my stars. It was exactly like I imagined it, and was earrings that I could afford and wear. So I ordered them. Pretty cool. And the artist that designed them was awesome.

Backstory 4

It was coming to the end of the year as my position of AAF-BR president. The president gives a party every year for the board that’s reflective of whom they are. My sweetie Steve and I are foodies and he’s an awesome cook. So he agreed to cook a multi course meal that I would pair with my favorite wines. Father’s Day was coming up and he said, even though he’s not my father or the father to my daughter, if I got him anything, he’d like a chef’s tunic that he could wear to the party. So I ordered one with Chef Steve embroidered on it.

Backstory 5

It’s the day before the party. And both the earrings and the tunic arrive on the same day. Steve had totally forgotten he had asked for this and was so touched by the gift and so proud to wear it for my party.

The Miracle

It’s a great party. The food is great, the wine is pouring steadily. I’m wearing my Miracle Balls. And I’m telling the story to these people I really care about. And there’s this WOW moment when I tell it, when we realize that it’s all come together at this moment in time. This great gathering of professional friends, the man I love proudly wearing my gift and me wearing my Miracle Balls. And that’s the Miracle and it was really a night filled with love. It was a much bigger gift than I was expecting…miracles always are.

And I call them Miracle Balls because is sounds a little naughty.