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Value: Word of the Year 2016

Value - Word of The Year 2016

I've been meaning to share my Word of the Year for weeks now. But, between travels and catching up with work after the holidays, then settling back into old and new routines, blogging has fallen by the wayside. Yep, as usual. But, I'm here again, trying to get back on track with blogging.

And, I'm doing that now by sharing my 2016 Word of the Year (WOTY): VALUE.

This word came up top, followed by Give and Purpose, while I was going through my annual WOTY process.

And, I'm keen to find out what this word will bring into my life this year and onwards. Because, yes, that's the thing with WOTYs. They never just stay as a 'special word' for one year. In my experience, they seem to become special words for life. That's why I feel that choosing a WOTY is a big deal.

Anyway, as part of my WOTY process, I try to make at least one small art piece for my word. Sometimes, more. And, I display that art piece somewhere I can easily see it every day. To help me to stay focused and on track. This year, it's the card that you see in the photo above. And, the quote below -

"Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value." - Albert Einstein

"Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value." - Albert Einstein

It's really interesting how this word just stayed with me while I was considering my options. That's why I'm keen to know what VALUE really means to me. I know that this word has several meanings, and I intend to learn how all of those meanings relate to my life right now.

Some questions that come to mind when I think of my WOTY this year include: What are my most important values? What are the things that I value the most? How do I value myself? How do I value others?

I am also challenging myself by asking: How can I bring more value to everything that I do and am part of? How do I add value to others' lives and endeavors?

So, yes,  I'm anticipating a few WOTY-related moments in 2016. I'll try to check-in as often as I can here.

Did you choose a WOTY this year? What's your word and how did you end up choosing it?

To find out my previous words of the year, you can check out my WOTY archive.

Regardless of where I am, or what I'm going through, choosing my One Word of the year is a practice that I intend to keep at this time of the year. I've started doing it late in 2007, when I chose my first word for 2008. Since then, I have seen the power

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Best Books of 2015

My Year In Books: 2015

When it comes to books, 2015 is a milestone year for me.

You see, when I decided to join Goodreads' 2015 Reading Challenge last year to start off my "50 Books A Year" challenge, I didn't think that I'd be adding two books under my name in my list. So, being able to do just that for Today:Life and Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes  in August/September 2015 was such a thrill.

Never mind that at Goodreads, Today: Life was listed as 'Least Popular' (since they haven't been added on to other people's lists) in my 2015 books list. The fact that I even have a book in there (and I'm now officially a Goodreads Author), is incredible.

Apart from this accomplishment, I'm also pleased to share that not only did I meet my 50 Books goal in 2015, I have actually managed to get to 54 books. Partly because I read some short children's books too!

Another special book-related milestone in 2015 is the revival of an old blog I used to run: KIDoosh. I used to run it as a group/network blog with a few blogging friends. But, I've taken it down some time ago and it remained dormant for a while. In 2015, however, it got revived. This time, as a book/kids review blog - with my two kidlets as co-bloggers. I haven't been updating it as much due to time constraints. But, it has been a great initiative for the kids to read more and write about their completed books. I'm hoping we can continue it.

Anyway, as some of you may already know, the main part of this blog post is my annual list of recommended books from friends, colleagues, and contacts on social media. And, as with the previous years, there are a lot of interesting books shared here. You can read previous recommendations in this Best Books collection.

My favourite reads of the year -


Apart from Dance With Dragons, some of my other favourite fiction reads from 2015 include these YA fiction: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (a former recommendation), To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (and its sequel, P.S. I Still Love You).

In children's fiction, I absolutely adored The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers. I also enjoyed I Will Never Get A Star on Mrs Benson's Blackboard by Jennifer K. Mann and Introducing Limelight Larry by Leigh Hodgkinson.


  • Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. I've seen this book many years ago but resisted buying and reading because it seemed so gimicky. Silly me. Now, I regret being late to the party. It's a gem of a small book. Very inspiring. I read and own it on Kindle, and I plan on buying a paperback copy.

Other favourites include: Abstract and Colour Techniques in Painting by Claire Harrigan and Robin Capon (Love, love the art here! It's not a how to book, but it's inspiring and envy-inducing. Wish I can paint like this!). Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul (a book I've had in my library for years but never finished reading until recently). Walking In This World by Julia Cameron (started reading this a couple of years ago, but only finished; Not as good as The Artist's Way, but has inspired me to take action on some dreams/hopes).

So, there you go. My best books in 2015. Here are others' best books -

What about you? What are the best fiction/nonfiction books you've read in 2015?

Are you doing a reading challenge in 2016? Here's my Goodreads Reading Challenge 2016, to monitor my second year of "50 Books A Year" challenge.

Happy reading in 2016!

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Hello, 2016. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year. Welcome, 2016!

"Don't count the days. Make the days count."

It's the first day of a brand new year. And, I'm already creating (and checking off) my brand new lists for 2016.

I usually have several that I start off at the end and beginning of the year. Some of my lists include:

  • Highlights from the Past Year
  • Lessons from the Past Year
  • Goals for the New Year
  • Things I Want To Do in the New Year
  • Things I Want To Learn in the New Year

If you're keen to get some lists started too, check out Inc.com's 16 Lists To Make To Jumpstart Your Career in 2016. While it's an article primarily created for making lists regarding professional matters, the ideas can also resonate with personal list-making.

Since I've been remiss with my blogging here lately, this post is one of the things that's included in one of my new year lists. I know, I know... I keep telling myself I'll be a better blogger here at ShaiCoggins.com. Or, if I'm not, I won't beat myself up too much about it. I fail at both, consistently.

I'm hoping 2016 will be the year that I'll finally get my act together for this blog. For this to happen, I realise I need to make some changes with how I approach this blog and my content creation themes and processes.

I am currently working on these changes. They won't happen quickly. The plan is to roll them out bit by bit, with guidance from your feedback.

So, if you've been reading my blog for some time now (or even if you just came across this blog recently), I'd love to hear from you. What would you like to read in this blog? What would make your blog reading more enjoyable and productive?

I look forward to sharing our 2016 adventures together.

Have an amazing year ahead!

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Thanks, Adelaide! First Art Market Check-In From Victoria Square Arts Market 2015

Victoria Square Arts Market 2015 - Adelaide South Australia

With my two lovely little helpers who were thrilled with their first art market experience.

It has been well over two weeks since my family and I did our first ever market stall here in Adelaide. So, I thought it's best to check-in here and share our experience at the first ever Victoria Square Art Market.

The day didn't start out promising, as the sky looked gray and it was drizzling with rain. At least, it made us grateful that we rented a marquee with  just a front opening, though it was an added expense. We left the house around 9.30am so we can get our stall set-up before 11am. Thankfully, the sky cleared and the market was still buzzing for most of the day.

In fact, our first customer came even before the official start of 11 am! You can see the lovely lady in the photo below, with my small painting, "Birthday Roses" (oil on wood, approx 8x8 inches). And, towards the early afternoon, another one of my small paintings sold (photo below, of mixed media piece "Moment Tree" with buyer). Both of my art buyers were very sweet and enthusiastic about the pieces they bought. It was touching!

We had a lot of folks stop by and chat about all sorts of things - from books and colouring to art and family. The kids were especially excited to see their handmade jewellery almost got sold out (they had about 8-10 pieces on sale).

I also ended up selling a few copies of #ColourBliss colouring books and a couple of #JournalingToday guided journals, as well as a few of my colouring postcards. We also sold a few knick-knacks that we added to our stall (ie, colour pencils, markers, washi tapes, etc). A number of people also picked up our free colouring-in pages and my business cards.

It was an exhausting but exhilarating and fun day! I think the kids got the market bug because they were really sad when it was time to pack-up at 5pm. In fact, when hubby and I were starting to pack up at around 4.45pm, our kids stopped us, saying: "No! Not yet!" And yes, they've already begged for us to do it all again one day.

I'm not sure yet if we will do another market stall or not. I did love how much the kids enjoyed it, though. They were very good with talking to customers and potential customers. They showed excellent math skills as they handled payment transactions. And, they were very enthusiastic with every step of the market experience - from getting stock prepared to setting up and packing up, as well as looking at our spreadsheet of costs, revenue, and income. It was an incredible learning experience for all of us.

And, if anything, it was really quite something else to be able to talk to people who appreciate and admire your work in person.

Some of my key art market take-aways include:

  • Make sure there's enough variety of stock. Have big items, mid-priced items, and small items available. It was interesting, for example, that my colouring postcards was the one item that we sold the most of at the stall. It was one of the cheapest items we had on offer. My biggest item on sale is my "Joyful Joyful" acrylic painting. And, whilst it received some interest and positive comments, it didn't sell. But, it was okay because it showed me that my work *can* attract such interest. Perhaps, one of the things I might be able to look into one day, if I do this again, is to get inexpensive prints done of some of my more popular bigger art pieces. Or perhaps, create postcards out of them.
  • Don't pre-judge my own work! Although it was an art market, I must admit that I only brought in a total of 4 original paintings to sell at the stall. And, I just had one set of original art prints. The rest of my stock are mostly books and related items. TWO out of the four paintings sold, both small ones. And, I'm going to admit that I only brought those two paintings in as an 'add-on' to my stall. I had a handful of paintings back at my home office/studio that I probably could've brought in and displayed too. But, because I wasn't so sure about the 'sale-ability' of my recent art work (last time I sold my art was over a decade ago), I didn't take them with me. That's why my husband said: "You should've brought the rest of your paintings that are just stored at home!" Yeah, I think I probably should have. And really, I should be painting more and just sharing. Who knows when or where my work would connect with someone!
  • Never underestimate the power of research and preparation. When I first signed up for the market stall, I really didn't think it over too much. I just thought I'll bring in whatever stock I might have (art and books), put them on a table, and just see how things go on the day. But, as days went by, I thought I better do some research on how to put on a proper market stall. Mostly because even though I'm fine with things not selling, I wanted my kids to have a positive first market experience. I didn't want them to go home thinking that doing business like the market is awful. So, I researched best practice tips. That's when I learnt more about how to set-up market stall tables properly to optimise interest and sales, offering different items with various price points, how to utilise items at home for display, etc. I also learnt that it's best to practice your market stall set-up beforehand, so you know where everything went. So yes, doing all of these had been a bit stressful and time consuming. But, I think it all contributed to an overall positive first market experience.
  • Stress less, enjoy more! I must admit that leading up to market day had been really tough for me. Even during the day, I was so nervous that I barely managed to eat. I didn't even get the chance to browse around the market myself. And, I didn't get to chat with people who stopped by our stall a lot better. I mean, I talked with most people who stopped by, but I know I could've done better. In fact, there were a couple of people who stopped by our stall and I didn't get to catch their names even though I really wanted to talk more.  And yes, I didn't take the time to set-up a 'Sign-up for My Mailing List' form or anything like that either. So yes, I wish I can do those things better, if I ever decide to do this again.

There were definitely a lot of highlights and 'must learn from' moments. And, for the most part, it was a very worthwhile experience! Kudos to the organisers for a great day.

Victoria Square Arts Market 2015 - Customers and Supporters

Customers and supporters at the Market: Buyer of 'Birthday Roses' painting (Top L), Friends Tony and Neri, with their family/friends (Top R), Rose with her family (Bottom L), and Buyer of 'Moment Tree' painting (Bottom R).

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Adelaide: See you at Victoria Square Art Market!

First Victoria Square Art Market in Adelaide

Ever since my son was five years old, he has been asking me to do a market stall. He has always fancied the idea of running a shop. Something I find amusing since I grew up in a family of shop keepers. My maternal grandparents ran a shop. My parents owned two shops. And, I have several families who owned (and still run) shops. So, maybe it's in the blood or something. 🙂

Anyway, I've always wanted to encourage entrepreneurship with my kids so I kept saying that yes, we will run a market stall one day. If and when we have something to sell.

Now, my son is 11.5 years old and I'm finally able to deliver on my promise.

When I told him that I finally signed us up for a market stall, he was beyond excited. He couldn't believe he still had to wait a couple of months for the day to arrive since I got us a stall at the inaugural Victoria Square Art Market (VSAM) here in Adelaide.

He was the one who wanted to make sure we had a marquee, so instead of hiring just a 2x3m artist stall (which was my original plan), I ended up getting a 3x3m market stall and rented a marquee (they're only available for 3x3 stalls). He was also keen on trying to make me sure we have enough stock to sell, so he kept asking how many books do I have available, which of my art would I sell, etc. He (and his little sister, age 8) even started making jewellery items to sell at the market.

It's so wonderful to see how keen both my kids are for our very first family market stall experience. That's why I'm hoping that they would really enjoy the experience. Of course, I have been trying to manage their expectations to let them know that things may not go as well as we all hope it would. But, we would still enjoy the day - especially since there would be live entertainment, food trucks, and a kids zone at the market. So, they're cautiously optimistic, as I am.

The photo below shows some of the things that would be on sale at our stall - Today: Life (guided journal) and Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes (colouring journal/book), stickers based on some of my clip art designs, colouring postcards (some based on existing designs from Colour Bliss + some new unpublished designs), lino block art prints, and some of my paintings. I've also added products that I didn't make but would be great companions to my journal and/or colouring books (washi tapes, colour pencils, and markers).

Repurposing household items and other things for display purposes in preparation for next week's market stall in #Adelaide. Yes, as part of a family activity, we're taking part in Victoria Square Arts Market next week (11 Oct, Sunday, 11am-5pm). Our first

It's also great to see that VSAM has been receiving some great write-ups over at CityMagAdelaide Review, and Weekend Notes.

So, we're all hoping that the day would be lovely with plenty of inspiring artists' works to see and enjoy, wonderful food to devour, and hopefully, some friends saying hello and making new friends on the day too.

Oh, by the way, the folks at Splashout Art Studios would be there, doing live painting demos and selling some works from the group too. 

If you're in Adelaide and you're able to head on over to Victoria Square this Sunday, 11 October, from 11am to 5pm, do say hello. We'd love to see you there! So... #JournalingToday & #ColourBliss just got more real. 100 copies arrived today and 4 of them have already been spoken for. Now the search for new homes for 96 books begins! :)

Stickers! I've converted some clip art that I had in my Etsy shop into stickers. Also snuck in a #JournalingToday set in there. Love how they turned out! :)Getting ready for something here in #Adelaide next month, so look what I've got? New biz cards that match #ColourBliss books. Yes, they can be coloured in. :) Also got some colouring postcards made featuring some new designs. <3 them. One downside though

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