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"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."
- Thomas Merton
Living our best life has to be one of the most over used phrases in what we knew as normal before Covid-19, but what does it actually mean and how does its intention makes us feel?
For some it will mean celebrating the small things and the simple pleasures of everyday life, to appreciate the ordinary, and that was Ikea’s original intention; a celebration of how the little things are the big things.
For some however the phrase “living your best life” has turned life into a competition of being the best or better, and nurtured a belief in many that resources and time are finite and will run out – they will only be available to those who are perfect or better, those who work really hard and strive continually.
It places perfection as the pinnacle of human endeavour of purpose and meaning…
And by so doing it loses sight or the everyday of the ordinary of what true purpose actually is and is not.
As lockdown begins to ease, now is a perfect time to reflect on our true purpose, to consider what our normal will look like, taking forward with us the truth that there is enough for everyone, we are not in competition with anyone and that we will have as much time as we need to be, do and have whatever we desire.
So relax, practice kindness and generosity. Leave space to watch the magic happen. We have choices, we can align with our true selves and let things fall in to place naturally or we can push hard and exhaust ourselves, and in so doing miss the beauty of everyday.
We miss the awe in the ordinary
Focus on the now – the present moment – leave the past in the past and accept the future is working itself out – it doesn't need your attention right now.
Give your attention to the right now – this present moment – the one you are living today.
Be aware of the self talk – of all that which has gone before that wants to make its presence still felt – acknowledge it – thank it kindly – and then move on, don’t carry it with you into the future if it doesn't serve you well.
As Nadine Searle said, be more dog! Accept your own truth. Keep things simple and honour your true self – what do you want today? What will make you wag your tail with delight?
Cathy Mckinnon spoke about Byron Katie and you can learn more about her and her teachings here - https://thework.com/
The school of work questions are:
1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to question 3.)
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who or what would you be without the thought?
Other useful questions to ask yourself in order to stay balanced, calm and present:
What meaning are you overlaying onto this situation?
To contact Cathy visit – https://www.coachwithcathy.com/book-a-session-new
Cathy trained at the Martha Beck Institute - https://marthabeck.com/
Oh Magazine - http://ohcomely.co.uk/
Connecting to nature is a very good way of calming a busy mind and learning the power of being in the present moment.
Read this article for tips and hints on connecting with nature –
One artwork that celebrates the ordinary is Rachel Whiteread’s concrete house
Lesley Samms MSc ANLP
If you would like to contact Lesley – email email@example.com
Definition of potential: latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success
On average people consider they have achieved about 40% of their full potential
So what are the game changers that enable people to align with and grow into their potential and ultimately achieve their goals?
1. Become more aware of your own behaviour and the behaviour of others
Emotional resilience enables us to manage our emotions more effectively, to ensure we are not overly influenced by the emotions and behaviours of others.
So, how can you build emotional intelligence and resilience?
Apparently mixing with or sitting near a high performer can help you achieve better results. This sounds like a good thing, however it has also been proven that stress and anxiety can also be contagious, as we have witnessed first hand over the passed 7/8 weeks!
The reason for both these outcomes is the human ability to mirror emotions and behaviour and our basic instinctive desire to be part of a tribe.
According to Moran Cerf, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University, who has been studying decision-making for over a decade, when two people are in each other's company, their brain waves will begin to look nearly identical
One study of moviegoers, for instance, found the most engaging trailers all produced similar patterns in people's brains.
Again this can be seen very clearly during the pandemic, as we respond to news broadcasts with reactive threads of dialogue and shared posts on social media.
This means the people we hang out with, not just in person but also on social media, actually have an impact on our engagement with reality way beyond what can be explained, and one of the key effects is we become alike.
2. Become more aware of other peoples perspectives
Recent research (Antinori, 2017) found that people who are open to new experiences have an ability to absorb more information than others and process it in different ways.
This flexibility helps boost their creativity and innovation and thus ability to solve complex problems and be more successful.
So, how can you become more open-minded?
Why do we think pink is for girls and blue is for boys?
This is a very modern stereotype – prior to the 1940’s Pink was more often a boys colour.
Did you know the Nazi’s used pink in concentration camps to identify gay men and transgender women.
Listening is different to conversation. In conversation we listen for only a very short time and then start thinking about our own experiences and how to respond (we listen for approximately 20 seconds).
Empathy is different to sympathy. Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Sympathy is being in harmony or agreement. Sharing the feelings of another.
3. Take responsibility for yourself
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life!” Pablo Picasso
“Making and consuming art lifts our spirits and keeps us sane. Art, like science and religion, helps us make meaning from our lives, and to make meaning is to make us feel better.” Grayson Perry
A recent report by the all-party parliamentary group on arts, health and well being which included hundreds of interviews and dozens of case studies demonstrated how powerfully the arts can promote health and wellbeing.
Co-chaired by former arts ministers Alan Howarth and Ed Vaizey, the all-party inquiry contends that their findings evidence the arts can keep people well, aid recovery from illness, help people live longer, better lives and save money in health and social services
Fresh air boosts brain function and exercise reminds us that practice, repetition and patience are critical to learning.
Nutritional imbalance is now being linked by scientists to all manner of conditions such as hearing loss, previously linked to age.
New research (Kumaria et al, 2017) found that regular meditation can make our sight more responsive, due to the brain attention system benefits it is believed to trigger. In the study, Buddhist meditators were compared to non-meditators in various tasks. The meditators eye movements were consistently more accurate and responsive, demonstrating how the practice could help to boost focus.
4. Take responsibility for your own choices, decisions and actions
Why is time important?
Stress over lack of time causes lower well-being and contributes to anxiety and insomnia. Psychologist Dr.Elizabeth Dunn argues it is time, not material goods, that raise happiness levels.
So, how can you give yourself more time and be happier and more content?
Prioritising and saying No is an essential learned skill in a world where the demands on our time are infinite. Write do it or ditch it lists. Be strict with yourself when setting screen use times and social media contact times. Especially now when it’s easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole!
Thoughts are not facts!
Set goals or outcomes which stretch you.
Have the courage to be brave. In the words of Dr. Brene Brown – Do it scared
Become the hero of your own story, because it is often in the failing that we learn the most and reap the greatest rewards.
Ask yourself the question – “What can I do today to be brave?”
Lesley delivers group and on line training and 1 2 1 professional development, mentoring and coaching
Do you ever feel like you’re sleepwalking through life with no real idea of what you want or where you are going?
Perhaps you know exactly what you want to achieve, but have no idea how to get there or you are simply overwhelmed by the prospect.
That’s where goal setting comes in.
Goals are the first step towards planning for the future, and play a fundamental role in the development of skills in various facets of life, from work to relationships and everything in between.
They are the targets at which we aim our proverbial arrow.
In the words of Pablo Picasso:
Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.
And in the words of Benjamin Franklin:
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
So, what is Goal Setting?
Goal setting is a powerful motivator, the value of which has been recognised in a wealth of clinical and real-world settings for over 35 years.
‘Goals,’ as defined by Latham & Locke (2002, p.705) are “the object or aim of an action”
According to Locke (2019) “Every person’s life depends on the process of choosing goals to pursue; if you remain passive you are not going to thrive as a human being.”
Locke & Latham goal setting theory is based on the premise that conscious goals affect action and that conscious human behaviour is purposeful and regulated by individual goals.
Therefore, we must decide what is beneficial to our own wellbeing and then set goals to achieve it.
So, why do some people perform better on tasks than others?
The key is motivation. The more we achieve the more we become motivated to achieve more and bigger.
Goals give us control over the future outcome of our lives…
The key principles of goal setting are;
1. Commitment – the more committed or invested you are the more likely you are to succeed.
2. Clarity – Goals need to be clear and specific
3. Challenge - they must be challenging but attainable
4. Complexity – the timescale must be relevant to the complexity of the goal
5. Feedback – reporting and learning
Goal setting is especially important for artists as it is closely associated with achieving flow state. Setting clear goals that are both challenging yet within your skill level is a powerful contributor to finding yourself in ‘the zone’.
Have you heard of SMART goals?
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebased. SMART goals help focus our efforts and increase the chances of achieving our goals. And don’t forget the importance of rewarding yourself when you achieve your goals.
When done correctly, goal setting is effective and often critical to success.
Goals give us direction by focusing attention on goal-relevant behaviour and away from irrelevant tasks (Zimmerman, Bandura, & Martinez-Pons, 1992).
Miner (2005) suggested that goal setting works through three basic propositions:
If employed incorrectly, goal setting has the potential to cause rather than solve problems.
Goals can present with threat of negative consequences, leading to stress and anxiety as an outcome if not attained.
Also if there is a conflict between two or more goals, performance with respect to each goal may be undermined (Locke, Smith, Erez, Chah, & Shaffer, 1994).
Studies have shown that people perform much better when they write down what they need to do.
So, what makes the to-do list such an effective productivity tool?
Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik was perhaps the first to note the brain’s obsession with pressing tasks. The so-called “Zeigarnik effect”
He noticed we remember things we need to do, better than things we’ve done. This theory stemmed from observing that waiters could only recall diners’ orders before they had been served. After the dishes had been delivered, their memories simply erased who’d had the steak and who’d had the soup. The deed was done and the brain was ready to let go.
More recently, a study by professors Baumeister and Masicampo from Wake Forest University showed that, while tasks we haven’t done distract us, just making a plan to get them done can free us from this anxiety.
The pair observed that people underperform on a task when they are unable to finish a warm-up activity that would usually precede it. However, when participants were allowed to make and note down concrete plans to finish the warm-up activity, performance on the next task substantially improved.
The mental load is reduced and we can function at a much higher level.
Some people resist this kind of structure, however. They think it will affect their creativity or prevent them from being flexible. Time management expert David Allen – whose book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity - Believes these free-spirited creative types are quite simply wrong.
He believes anyone with a full schedule and no structure will struggle to cope. A system is needed – and scribbled notes on hands won’t cut it. It’s not enough to scrawl “bank” or “Mum” on a Post-it note, says Allen – you need more detail. Is it an email, a visit or a phone call, and for what purpose? If your to-do list isn’t clear enough and to the point, your tasks probably won’t get done – and they certainly won’t be prioritised.
A major downfall of the list can be chunking up – for example “Write my novel” is a pretty foreboding task; “outline first chapter of my novel” is far easier to cope with mentally!
Remember don’t try and eat the elephant in one go! It will be easier to digest if you break it down into bite size pieces
Dopamine is the key here. Dopamine is a chemical messenger – Your body makes it, and your nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells.
Motivation is the essential and irreplaceable element of success.
When we’re not motivated, we fail.
When we experience even small amounts of success, our brains release dopamine, which is connected to feelings of pleasure, learning and motivation. When we feel the effects of dopamine, we’re eager to repeat the actions that resulted in that success in the first place.Neuroscientists refer to this as “self-directed learning.
When we are positively motivated to do something, we learn to take that same action to receive the same feeling. This is why achieving small goals is such an effective way to stay motivated during long-term projects and processes.
Or even during lockdown!
Checking items off of a checklist releases small amounts of dopamine that then fuel us to keep checking off more items, i.e. get more done!
Thus the saying “fail to plan and you plan to fail”
A great hack you can introduce to make your lists even more effective is gamification.
Gamification is the notion of tricking your brain by making it think you are playing and having fun.
An essential ingredient of gamification is rewards.
You must remember to reward yourself when you tick things of your checklist – your brain responds quickly to these rewards – but you must have integrity – the negative low is very low if you try to cheat yourself!
Another hack to trick your brain is to send your lists forward to your future self. You can do this via futureme.org. Select a date in the future to receive it back. Seeing the impact of your past to do lists in the future can give you a real sense of satisfaction and achievement on how far you have progressed, or a reality check about the importance of the kind of tasks you choose to prioritise and get anxious and overwhelmed by...
You can download Suzan Aral's design project checklist here:
Here is Suzan's Campaign design order form:
We have between 70,000 and 100,000 individual thoughts every day and they are constantly trying to help us interpret and make sense of the world around us; describing what is happening – the sights, sounds, smells, feelings….
Without even consciously realising it, we are interpreting and giving our own meanings to everything that is happening around us. We might decide if something is pleasant or nasty, good or bad, dangerous, safe or unsafe…
These thoughts are simply electro-chemical impulses in our brain.
Thoughts are NOT statements of fact.
In the words of Srikumar “Our mental chatter is fake news!”
Epictetus, in the first century, said: "Men are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them".
It is not the event which causes the emotion - and our behavioural reaction to it. It is the meaning we give to that event - or what we THINK ABOUT that event.
As a consequence of our previous individual and unique experiences; our upbringing, our culture, religious beliefs and family values, we all make very different interpretations and evaluations of situations. These interpretations and meanings result in the physical and emotional feelings.
· Something happens or we notice something, which triggers a thought.
Use the STOPP technique to help you learn to notice, question and decide how to react to your own thoughts consciously:
Just pause for a moment
TAKE A BREATH
Notice your breathing as you breathe in and out.
In through the nose and out through the mouth. Make the out breath longer than the in breath. Breath deeply, from your abdomen.
PULL BACK - PUT IN SOME PERSPECTIVE
PRACTISE WHAT WORKS FOR YOU - ASK YOURSELF - PROCEED
Pure Founder Lesley Samms MSc ANLP provides one to one professional development, mentoring, coaching and NLP.
If you would like to book a free exploration session please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
So here is a list of some interesting and innovative opportunities emerging and information you might find useful - gathered together for your delight and pleasure by our very own Mollie Barnes:
1. BBC ANNOUNCEMENT
The BBC have announced a new ‘Culture in Quarantine’ Programme for artists! Part of this is a fund for approximately 25 established UK based artists of any discipline to create brand new works in creative media!
Check it out below:
2.ARTISTS SUPPORT PLEDGE
If you’re on Instagram you have probably seen the amazing Artist Support Pledge launched by Sussex artist Matthew Burrows.
The rules are simple:
1. Post your image/s on your Instagram account
2. If possible use the ARTIST SUPPORT PLEDGE image and text by reposting or using a screenshot.
3. Give details of the work and price (£200 or less and local currency where appropriate)
4. Ask for anyone interested to DM (message) you
5. Add #artistsupportpledge
6. Follow the #
7. When you have sold £1000 worth of work fulfil the pledge and spend £200 on another artist/s
8. If in doubt do it with generosity, that's all that matters
Anyone, anywhere in the world is welcome to join this movement of creative generosity. You create out of a generous spirit, so post with generosity and contribute generously. Please repost this message and with friends across the globe.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA
Use this time to get your social media going. We recommend: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. There’s loads of helpful information online on how to set these up if you’re not sure/ need a refresher. Instagram is a brilliant one to start with, though can take some time to get going. Here are our top tips:
1. Photograph all your work. We know this can be boring, but now is the perfect time to dig out all of those older pieces, the frames behind the chest of draws and those new pieces on the easels. Photograph them and keep them on your phone - then it’s done.
2. Get some posts ready. Don’t send them all out at once, but start to create a post on Instagram, then instead of clicking ‘Share’ in the top right corner, click ‘back’ until you get an option to ‘Save as Draft’. Do this for multiple posts so they are ready to go when you want them to. This is something you can do while catching up on the tele!
3. Don’t over edit your photos. Clients and buyers want to know what they’re getting - they want to see YOUR work. Keep the little imperfections and make it true to life. :)
4. Catchy but informative captions are key! Bring out your personality and let them sing.
We know you need inspiration at this time. Lots of galleries have stepped up the challenge of having no visitors by launching online viewings. To start with, check out the Google Arts and Culture App and walk through the halls of all your favourite large gallery spaces.
5. FREELANCE JOBS
Have a look for freelance creative jobs online for the duration of the lock down. Hastings Museum and Gallery are looking for freelance creatives to start creating resources for them. The information is on their Facebook pages.
Stay home and stay safe
A very easy tool to help you manage stress and anxiety during these difficult times: APPLE
ACKNOWLEDGE - Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
PAUSE - Don't react as you normally do. Don't react at all. Just pause, and breathe.
PULL BACK - Tell yourself this is just the anxiety or depression talking, and this thought or feeling is only a thought or feeling.
Don't believe everything you think!
Thoughts are not statements of fact.
LET GO - Let go of the thought or feeling. IT WILL PASS - You don't have to react or respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or on a cloud.
EXPLORE - Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing, and the sensations of breathing. Notice the ground beneath you.
Look around and NOTICE what you NOTICE - what you can see, what you can hear, what you can touch, what you can smell - right NOW.
Then, SHIFT YOUR FOCUS OF ATTENTION to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else mindfully with your full attention.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious, struggling to focus or simply feel stuck, and would like some support, please email me at email@example.com
Professional development, mentoring, coaching, NLP
"Art is the imposing of a pattern on an experience
and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern."
Alfred North Whitehead, 1861 - 1947
Artist Fran White considers what she communicates when she creates her artwork; in her own words…
“I think my art reflects the collective beliefs of my family and friends and the many people I have met and spent time with along the way, and more recently as I have transitioned from my career as a weaver and linen shop owner to full time painter."
Considered in response to Alfred North Whiteheads words “The pattern I create with my art is a reflection of my memories and deep seated emotional responses to past collective experiences: events, people and places and our commonly held beliefs, values and ideas."
In the Beginning
As a child my family lived near Thetford in Norfolk. I was born into privilege, which seems to have engendered a deep innate sense of duty in me - doing the right thing is a core value I still retain today. I was the 1st of 4 children and often felt protective over the others; a sensibility that became more profound after our parents divorced.
I attended a fairly progressive boarding school called Cranbourne Chase, housed at Wardour Castle, near Tisbury, Wiltshire. It had a female head mistress and a considerable art & music department. Despite this my creative gene seemed to go completely unnoticed during this time!
At least one of my school friends went on to art school, but, it never even entered my thinking to do anything similar. I don’t recall being actively discouraged from such a path, but looking back, I do remember being very keen to be considered able and accomplished in subjects such as english and maths, so maybe I was encouraged down an alternative path as a consequence of my own tendencies.
Weaving the Thread
My artistic journey really began in 1970, when I was 19 years old. I mixed with a lot of creatives at this point in my life (without realising I was actually one myself!). I had many friends who collected art, or who worked in &/or owned art galleries. I remember being especially drawn to the work of the Russian born artist Romain de Tirtoff, known by the pseudonym Erté, whom I first encountered at The Met in 1968 and I started collecting his work thereafter.
One particular friend taught me how to develop & print B/W photos in their darkroom and this set me down a specific path, working as a photographers assistant then a photographic stylist [collecting props for editorial & advertising photo shoots], that would prevail for much of my young adult life.
At this time I started ‘Linen Hire’, a business I ran from my London home, supplying fabric backdrops for hire. I also started distance learning with the Open College of the Arts, which ended with my attending The Surrey Institute of Art & Design SIAD in Farnham, as it was known back then - now it is The University of the Creative Arts - specialising in weaving with linen. I also started attending West Dean College around this time.
After graduating college, encouraged by Ann Sutton, I began commissioning woven linen fabrics from mills in Ireland, Scotland & Belgium, to sell to trade & retail.
I began my transition into retirement in 2016, triggered by the lease renewal on my shop. I realised that if I renewed for another 3 years, I would be 67 when it expired and that what I actually wanted to do more than sell linen was paint!
The trend set early in my career of spending much of my time mixing with creatives still prevails today, but the art forms this circle now encompass is very wide, including textiles, fine art, photography, gardening, pottery, basket weaving… the list is endless. And in recent years I have added many new friends as a consequence of the painting courses I have attended and my membership of various creative communities including PURE Arts Group and Instagram, which can feel like a very real community as we share thoughts and ideas.
My husband Angus and I live very close to Partridge Green where the Emily Ball at Seawhite courses are held. I’ve been attending these on & off since graduating college in 1998.
I realised that a lot of the models we were drawing in the ‘putting people into painting’ course were reading, which triggered the initial spark for the Women Reading series
I am a keen reader myself, I have a lot of books in my study and am in a book club, so this subject really resonated with me and drew me in. It has however now become something of an obsession - I see people reading everywhere!
Surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you and never give up!
Starting a new career can be difficult at any point in your life, but it is especially difficult when the career choice is something that calls for expansive emotional content. Being an artist can feel uncomfortable, overwhelming and highly emotional at times, but, I’ve learnt to push through this discomfort and keep moving forward - following my dream.
Possibly the most important lesson for me however with regard to my personal career aspiration is you can’t do art wrong! You need to be brave and have courage to experiment and play. Often the best work comes when you least expect it, so don’t be scared, just keep going and trust the process.”
website: whiteart.net • instagram: @franwhiteartist
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