Wednesday, 28 January 2009


You might not be sure about your new direction at work, but don't let that stop you from showing up with a positive attitude and doing the best you can. Your sense of identity could be muddied now by all the amazing possibilities that you see around you. The problem is that turning a dream into reality isn't as straightforward as you think it should be. Take it easy on yourself; your path will clear in time for you to arrive at your designated destination.

When I opened Google today I went to iGoogle instead and there was a horoscope bit on the page. I have moderate belief in astrology and think that it can be a bit of fun. I like to read it, but I don't plan my day by it. I thought that this horoscope was pretty bang on. My sense of identity is definitely muddled, big time. In all honesty this little horoscope has made me feel a lot better this morning.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Monday Afternoon

Just got home from my meeting with Nick at Zebra People. I will write more about that later. I have to prepare for a job interview tomorrow morning.

I came across this photo while I was going through my Flickr page. It was taken at an art gallery here in London, I wish I could remember the name. All the study abroad students were taken on a creative tour of London and we made a stop here.

Anyway. I remember at the feeling of shock and intrigue as I saw these taxidermy dogs in the gallery. One thing is for certain, London is full of surprises.

Sunday Night

I've been reading over my past blog entries and they haven't been very cheerful. There have been some challenging times, but at the same time I've been learning a lot. Things are getting better. Every day is a new day and all that jazz.

It's Sunday night and I've been getting ready for the week. Actually I have a pretty busy week. I have a job interview tomorrow with the recruitment agency called Zebra People. That will hopefully be promising. I heard about them through a woman I met last year. My project management instructor Julie Dirksen was kind enough to put me in contact with one of her friends that she knew in London. I just ran across the business card that she gave me with some names of recruitment agencies and she had recommended Zebra People.

I am looking forward to that. I've decided to move my focus to finding a job doing what I was doing back at Popular Front and forget about advertising for the time being. All my experience lies within user experience so I guess it would make sense to look for a job in that field. I really enjoyed working at Popular Front, I wonder if I will be able to find a place like it in London.

The interview is at 3 p.m. and then later that night there is a knitting group that I am going to go to over in Notting Hill. I am also looking forward to that. Meeting some nice cool girls and having a pint while we knit. Hopefully it will be cool. My knitting is coming along. That's good.

Tuesday I am going to a day long workshop event hosted by Blue Skies. In addition to the workshops they are doing a creative showcase of 2008. Perhaps I will meet some people there, do a bit of networking. I am interested in seeing what kind of crowd it's going to draw.

Wednesday I am meeting with a business director at Lowe International for a bit of a chat. That meeting is courtesy of William Humphrey. I've mentioned him before, very helpful. I am really looking forward to meeting some professional women in London and hearing about their experiences.

Thursday I meeting for coffee with a woman who works in the publishing industry. This was arranged through Tracy Downing's call FB call for help. One of her friends said they had a contact in London and I am going to meet her. Looking forward to that as well. I am very curious about the publishing industry.

Good things are happening. I am feeling very lucky to have had the help of good friends and colleagues in Minnesota. I am so thankful for the support and kindness that people have shown. I am so determined to get a job!

Here's to a good week and more positive blog posts.

Friday, 23 January 2009


At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
Albert Schweitzer

I went to an event last night put on by the folks over at D&AD. They started putting on pub nights at the Slaughtered Lamb (what a great name for a pub). I went to the last event which was on the topic of how certain pieces made it into the design annual and why certain ones didn't. There were a lot of feisty graphic designers there and it was a very lively talk.

The talk last night was about mentorship in the graphic design industry. Now I am not a graphic designer by trade, but I thought it would be interesting to hear about their experiences in London. The format was an established designer would speak about how they got started in the industry and who they considered their mentors and then a "younger" designer that they have mentored would speak about their relationship and what the mentorship experience was like from their point of view. It was interesting to hear their stories.

Everyone agreed on the benefits of mentorship and how necessary it is in the field of graphic design. How beneficial it is for everyone really. What people found so valuable was the learning that both people got as a result of the relationship. That's really what it's all about, learning and teaching and supporting others.

Of course it lead me to thinking about mentors I've had in my life and who are the people that I admire. It also made me feel excited to think about the support that I can offer to others. Most importantly attending the talk helped put into perspective that life is a journey and there are so many paths through life. I sometimes forget that what I am doing at the moment is going to lead up to something else down the road. That all these little things are leading up to something.

When I think of mentorship I think back to a class that I had at MCAD called Futures. It was a great class taught by Kevin Byrne. Kevin Byrne is an amazing man, he cares about his students and treats them with so much respect. He is a thinker and a doer and I've never met anyone like him. KB, as we like to call him, is just magic. He's the kind of professor that you always hope you'll have at college. He pushes you and challenges you and you know he does it because he believes in you. A dedicated educator and a great guy.

During that Futures class we had a project to create a timeline of what we thought and what we wanted our lives to be. We were supposed to create a life timeline. The timeline could go back and include some major events from our past and ended at our deaths. We had to determine when we thought our time on earth would end. At first it sounded like a really cool project to me and I was excited about it. We had creative license to execute the project in whatever way we wanted. At first it seemed like fun.

Then once I sat down to work on it I had a really hard time. Before I came to MCAD my life was do I put it? Well, I will say there was a lot of sadness and I had a pretty nontraditional upbringing. Going to MCAD was the first goal that I was ever able to set for myself and achieve.
When I thought about my timeline that brought me to MCAD it was filled with a lot of sadness. My mother was bi-polar manic depressive and growing up was unpredictable. She had a bad episode when I was 7 years old where she tried to hurt me and was sent away to a hospital. I went to live in a foster home for a few weeks while they sorted it out. I returned home to my dad and because he left early in the morning for work I started sleeping overnight at my best friends house two doors down. I would go over there after dinner and sleep there and go off to school with Cory and Nick.

To me, I feel like I've been on my own, taking care of myself since I was 7 years old. Eventually my mom came home and I didn't stay over night at Cory's anymore. Things were never normal. Although my parents loved me very much, they didn't know how to be parents. I was allowed to come and go as I pleased, they weren't very involved in what I was doing at school. I didn't have anyone telling me that I should be thinking about college. I had zero discipline and thankfully I did very well. I never fell in with a bad crowd, I didn't turn to drugs and alcohol. I was strong, but it was hard. I had to figure out a lot of things on my own and at the same time deal with my mom. I always felt like an outsider.

After high school I had no idea what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to MCAD and be an artist, but I didn't have any money. I was living in my own apartment after I turned 18. College was something that I wanted to do, but I wanted to be sure about what I wanted to get out of it. I was paying my own way and I wasn't interested in just fooling around at school. I got a job as a waitress and experienced life for a while.

Two days before I turned 19 my dad passed away from cancer. I was completely devastated and heartbroken. My dad, despite not being the greatest father, was a cool guy and I was really looking forward to getting to know him as a person. I wish we had gotten that chance before he passed away. His death hit me really hard.

My mom had always been supportive of me going to MCAD, she believed in my talent. I made the decision that I was going to go. First I was going to go to the Minneapolis Community and Technical College so I could apply to MCAD as a transfer student. I hadn't taken my SAT or ACT exams in high school, so I thought it would be a good way to go. I also wanted to get into the swing of things, being back in school before MCAD.

Two weeks before school started my mom passed away, she had taken her own life. I won't go too much into it now, but it didn't come as a surprise. It's hard for me to even explain what that day felt like, it was six years ago. It was one of the worst days of my life. I knew how much my mom wanted me to go to school so I went. I won't lie and say it was easy, but I am glad that I went. I went to MCTC for about a year and a half. During that time things were a roller coaster. At times I did really well in my classes and was really happy to be there and then there were times when the sadness was unbearable.

Still having MCAD in my sights I decided to stop going to MCTC and go back to work for a while. I decided to go see a grief counselor so I could work out my feelings so that when I went to MCAD nothing was going to hold me back. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I wanted to be at MCAD and experience it to it's fullest. I had to deal with the feelings of being an orphan before I went.

I was also scared to apply to MCAD for a long time. I thought I was scared that I wouldn't get in, but what I was really afraid of was what if I did get in and failed... As a back up I also applied to CVA and I was accepted at both. It really was a dream come true. It was the first time in my life that I could set a goal for myself. A time where I wasn't living in a survival mode and I could be proactive about my own life. It felt amazing and scary at the same time.

As much as I loved going to MCAD it was hard to not have my parents to share it with. I think I cried everyday for the first year. I just longed to tell them about what I was learning.

So, back to the project. So not only was it difficult because of my past I had never really thought about the kind of future I wanted for myself. I had gotten so used to making the best of things and reacting that I didn't know what I wanted. It was an awful feeling to not know what you want. I really struggled and I would go and see Kevin and I would just break down and sob. I would say that I got very good at burying my feelings and hurt so I could live my life, but Kevin would have a way of asking me a question or acknowledging that I had experienced some tough things and I would just break down. He was very kind.

I wanted him to see how hard the assignment was for me and excuse me from doing it, but he never did. He knew I could do it, even if it meant facing the pain. He knew it would be worth it. He worked with me to come up with an alternative assignment and I was grateful for his understanding and belief in me.

For me I never had the experience of seeing how little steps can build up into something. Logically I could understand it, but I couldn't get it. I had never said I want to achieve this and then worked for it. I had tried to before in my life, but something would always get in the way. As I get older and I can look back I understand. It's still a hard thing to grasp.

Going through that experience in Futures with Kevin Byrne changed my life. Him believing in me really was the most wonderful thing in the world to me. Going through the assignment, even though it brought to the surface all the pain I had been feeling from my entire life, was so incredible.

I thought about the Futures project as I walked back to the tube after the talk and thought about how far I had come in just two years. It made me realize that my life is a journey and that it's the little steps and experiences that are bringing me to something and it's ok if I don't know what that is yet. I know that the good choices I make everyday are adding up.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Fun things in London

I took up in knitting again. Well, I say again. I knew how to cast on before and do a few rows or two. I took at class over at Prick Your Finger and away I went. So far so good, I am looking forward to attending a few knitting nights to pick up some tips and meet some people.

I went out the other day to buy some yarn. I found out about this shop called Loop from reading a London knitters blog and decided to check it out. What a cute little shop and I was glad that I went. Loop is over in the North London, nearest tube is Angel. It was really a nice day out. The sun was shinning and I was very happy to go past the flower shop. How cheerful and inspiring to see all the plants and flowers. It put a little spring in my step as I made my way to the shop.
I do love winter in London. I don't miss temps of -19 at all.

Loop is a darling little place and it was nice just to have a look around. I picked out some yarn and a new pair of knitting needles and away I went. I love those kind of days in London. Just exploring, having a look around a different neighborhood. Matthew came and met me and we went to a pub to watch the inauguration. It was a great day.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


A few weeks ago I got a Twitter DM from a MN colleague, John Schneider giving me a heads up to a work experience opportunity at TBWA. I was really touched by that. I met John a few years back at a Marketing Conference. He was the first person that I gave my business card to and we've stayed in touch. He sent me this email and believe me he's a great creative thinker and a heck of a nice guy. Here's the email he sent me.

Hey Rhea,

It's absolutely no problem. I knew that you've been on the hunt via your updates on Twitter, and am always happy to pass on information that might be helpful to a contact of mine, we're all in this together after all. I hope the internship at TBWA turns out to be something that you want, and if so that you get it. As an MCAD grad you're too valuable to not be utilized by a good agency. Let me know if I can help in any other way and good luck.

Best regards,

I followed up with the link that he sent me and got in touch with Simon Law at TBWA and I had an interview the next day. Now, I don't and have never wanted to be an account planner. This was for planning experience, but I thought that it might be a way to get a foot in the door. One of the guys I had met with, Will, had nothing but wonderful things to say about him and knew him. Will is a planner at Lowe, who I met with before Christmas.

I was excited, it seemed like it might have been the chance I was looking for. I was also looking forward to meeting Simon and true to Will's word he was a nice guy. I spoke with him for a few minutes and then he brought in Toto Ellis to speak with me. I wasn't feeling very good about the interview at this point. It was hitting home that this wasn't a work experience that I even wanted and I am sure it showed, even though I tried to hide it. We had a chat about what I thought planning was about and my favorite ad campaigns at the moment. That was also a bad moment for me I totally blanked out, which is bad. I had done tons of research, but it all flew out the window. Not good during an interview. I left the interview feeling just, blah about the entire thing. I felt a bit bad that I had wasted their time, since I don't have any desire to be a planner.

I got the email the next day that they decided to go with someone else, a chap who was very keen. It makes sense, and it wasn't right for me. I am just trying to figure out what is right for me here and how to get a job doing it. I want to be an account manager so I should stick to that. Simon was kind enough to tell me that he was going to send my details to the Account Director, we shall see.

Every experience is bringing me closer to finding a job and this experience helped me to figure out what I don't want. I am happy for that. I also got to go back to TBWA, I really like that agency. It was inspiring.

I also had my first interview with a recruitment agency. I met with a woman from Blue Skies last week. I have zero experience using a recruitment agency so it was something new for me. I had attended an D & AD event and ended up chatting to a fellow who is a creative director at EHS Brann and his wife works for Blue Skies. There are a lot of recruitment agencies out here so it is always good to have a recommendation.

The interview went well. It's interesting seeing someone going through your CV and how they interpret your experiences. She said that there might be one role for me and I am waiting to hear back. Again I got the feedback that she wasn't quite sure how to market me. I am not your typical recent graduate. First off I am not 22 years old, I am 30. I have had significant internship experience where I was doing actual work. She told me that I am not at the very jr level, but at the same time I am not at an experienced level either. It's a bit frustrating. The position she was thinking of for me was a jr position, but with potential to move up quickly. That would be ok.

What I did take from it was that I definitely need to come up with a better strategy of what kind of job I want.

In between

I love technology, where would I be without email, FB, Twitter, or Flickr? That's something I have been thinking a lot about lately. I am spending a lot of time online, more than I would like to. Email and FB is how I stay connected with my friends and family back home, but in a way I feel like it's taking over my life. I hear you all saying, well just sign off and get out of the house. That's absolutely true and I do that. I guess I am feeling the torn between my old life in Minnesota and trying to make a new life in London.

It seems like I am always sending emails, because I want to stay in touch with people. At the same time it feels like all I am doing is sending emails. I know my friends and family will always be my friends and family, but it's hard to move on. Especially since I don't have a group of friends here yet. It's just a strange in between place. I seem to be living virtually in Minneapolis and physically in London. Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful to still be connected to people electronically. I am just wanting more "real time" connection with people. I miss talking to people on the phone, with me being six hours ahead it takes a bit of planning to call people.

FB is good, but it is also evil. It serves as a reminder of all the things that are going on without me. Events that I wish I could attend, all the fun that my friends are having with each other, with me living vicariously through their posts and photos. I am confident that things will improve it's just hard at the moment. I miss meeting up with people for coffee or a drink, just seeing and talking to people I like.

Things will work themselves out. I just miss all the people that I love.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Meeting New People

I have been meeting some new people lately. I met three nice blokes from the Ad Grads group and through Twitter. All very different people, two English and one American. I met a girl who is from Sweden, has lived all over the world and who went to Macalester college in St. Paul. My friend Tracy actually hooked that one up and I am very grateful. Tracy put out a call for help on Facebook asking for contacts for me in London.

I met up with a woman from the American Expat group. She sent me an email a few weeks ago. She's from Minnesota, and we got together for a drink. That was nice, she got married to an English man at the Loring Pasta Bar in Minneapolis. Matthew and I were considering getting married there, so we had that to talk about. I like hearing about people's stories of how the came to be living in London, especially how they found their jobs.

The one thing about meeting people and trying to make friends when you are older is that is feels a lot like dating in a way. Thankfully I don't get nervous about meeting new people, in fact I really like it. It's just what happens next is what gets confusing. How often do you contact that person if you happened to like them and want to hang out again? That kind of thing. Especially in a big city. I was talking to my friend Molly, who lived in New York, and she was able to sympathize. In a big city if you met up with someone and you don't like them or they don't like you it's fine because you never have to see them again. It's likely that you won't ever see them again. Which I guess has its good points. As compared with Minneapolis, where I see the same people at certain bars or coffee shops.

It's also stressful because I miss having my group of friends and being social that I have the feeling that I might be coming on a bit strong and radiating that I am so lonely please be my best friend and don't ever leave me vibe..... which is never good. The good thing is that with so many people in London you've got lots of options, although you've got to make a lot of effort.

I took up knitting just recently as a way to do something crafty and to meet people. I went for a class at a really cool shop called Prick Your Finger. There were only three of us in the class and I just fell in love with the guy and girl. He was from Chicago and she was from London and they were just lovely and I felt like throwing my arms around them and inviting them over for a sleep over party. I was like, wow these are great people we should be friends.... but I didn't quite now how to put that into words...

If you read this Chad and Michele please email me and lets go for a pint and knit :)

In a lot of ways I feel like when you are a kid at a new school. That's always fun.......

Sunday Night

I had orginally posted an entry about how rubbish I was feeling, but decided to take it down. In an effort to be more positive.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Friday Morning

Just a reminder to myself to get back to writing. Lots of good things have been happening that are bringing me closer to finding a great job. Just remembering my graduation day at MCAD, it was a great day and I felt very proud.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

New Year

the first 99% of getting from here to there is the determination to do it and not to compromise, no matter what sort of roadblocks those around you erect.

Once the fire is lit assume you've arrived and never look back or do anything no matter how trivial that's inconsistent with your new found quality persona.
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