Tuesday, 26 September 2017

What Stops Us Creating (and what to do about that)

Having a creative business working as an artist isn't exactly like a 9 to 5 job.  Creative work is laced with emotion and feeling, there can be difficult moments of lack, despair and comparison to overcome, vast pits of empty nothing when it feels as if all the ideas that I once had have evaporated overnight, that awkward phase of 'not being able to paint anymore' when it all feels forced and ridiculous and physically putting paint onto a palette is akin to walking through black treacle.
Creating art to share with the world exposes our vulnerability, we are laying the bare bones of our soul out for all to see and this can be tremendously difficult when you first start out.

Stepping up and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, and to be seen is one of the bravest things we can do.

But this work also bubbles with deep joy, as I share my innermost thoughts and ideas on paper or canvas with you.  When the ideas seem to flow out through the brush without any conscious effort on my part and the colours and the images blend beautifully and come together in a way that is more than I could have ever engineered by myself.  The euphoria and endorphins generated by moments such as these are worth every second where it felt hard, or didn't work out.

I know from experience that this work can be difficult if it's forced or pushed.  An idea that was once laden with enthusiasm and excitement can be snuffed out like a candle, and I am left standing in the quiet emptiness.  Where did it go?  How can something that felt so amazing suddenly dissipate and feel so empty?  It is important to seize the moment when you can, follow the flow when the idea ignites your soul, and if you can't then realise that you might have to let that one go.  We worry that we will never have another idea like it, that was it - our moment of genius - gone!  But know this: there will be others, there will always be others.

I accept that there will be days when it doesn't flow - it's the natural order of a creative mind to ebb and flow like the tides, there will be rich, flourishing times and there will be barren ones too.  On these days I take to other work, like writing or going for a walk - or both.  Walking proves to be a wonderful tonic for times when I feel stuck, it is very rare that I return from a walk in the woods or over the hills without a new spark of an idea on how to move forward again and that's when I grab my journal and write things down, make a note, do a sketch.  It's there in black and white then, a solid reminder of a new beginning.

It's really important to notice when the natural ebb and flow is turning into procrastination though. This is when we decide that we need to be online shopping, cleaning up or doing something else rather than our creative work.  It is a sly, and devious companion to a creative soul, wandering in the wake of our despair and seductively teasing us away from what calls us, delaying us, stealing our joy.

I am now more aware of these times, and guide myself back to what I truly need, rather than vacuous pursuits like spending money on Stuff or idling away the hours on Facebook.  When I relent and give in to procrastination, I know that I am coming from a place of fear.  Fear is what stops us, it's what makes us ignore the call to create - it's most likely deeply ingrained within our subconscious, and we don't realise that while we waste hours on our devices or wandering around the shops, we are simply covering up the fear of failing, of not being good enough.

I know now, that I can only create if I surrender and accept.

I have to accept the roller coaster of emotions, the quiet spells when I have no ideas, the times when procrastination calls, the times when I wonder if it's good enough.

The secret is to keep challenging it all though, to keep moving forward.  If you don't accept and surrender, and keep moving forward you will never begin.  You will never learn what it feels like to be in that almost celestial space of creating from your soul, to be completely in the moment where time doesn't exist.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable, to make a start.  Allow yourself to begin, despite the fear and the difficulties.  Imagine where you will be this time next year if you start now - imagine where you will be if you don't.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

How Our Expectations Stop Us Being Happy

I sometimes come across people who say things to me like "Oh I could never do what you do", or "I wish I had time to paint or create but I'm SO busy..." and it got me to thinking about how the way we think creates our reality.

Things like this happen mostly on a subconscious level, it begins with a simple thought that flashes through our mind about something, like for example, making art.  Perhaps you haven't picked up a pencil or a paintbrush since you were at school?  You might be feeling a bit nervous, or out of the loop and so you tell yourself 'Oh come on, I couldn't possibly do that' because you fear the outcome, you fear looking silly in front of other people, of failing.

And that one single thought seems to lodge somewhere in your mind, and that thing you really want to do, well you think about it a lot because deep down it calls to you and you would LOVE to give it a go, but your critical inner voice is telling you no, no you can't do that - what would your husband say? You don't have time! What if it looks bloody awful? For crying out loud YOU ARE TOO OLD TO START SOMETHING NEW!!!

And that one single thought becomes a belief, and that belief becomes an expectation.  We teach ourselves not to expect to have time to follow our creative dreams, we teach ourselves not to expect a positive reaction from a loved one to our new idea, that age is a barrier to experiencing joy and a fulfilled life.

And when we teach ourselves to believe these thoughts, they become deeply ingrained in our subconscious, our lives follow the pattern of our thoughts you see.

We are the creators of our thoughts - it took me quite a few years to understand that what we focus on becomes our reality, and in turn, our chance to be happy.  Or not.  We limit ourselves with our self imposed belief systems, we tell ourselves we aren't capable or good enough, rich enough or thin enough.  We tell ourselves these stories that shape our lives without us even realising it.  We make ourselves small and in turn, our lives shrink and we become miserable.  We might even stop one day and think - I didn't want it to be like this!  This isn't what I wanted life to look like.  I've had these very thoughts myself, I've stood rooted to the spot and looked around at my life and wondered why I'm stuck, why I haven't achieved what I wanted to achieve?  And it all breaks down to this:

We fear failure, we tell ourselves we can't, we stop expecting good things, that this is as good as it gets.

So, how to change?

It starts with gratitude.  It starts with being in the moment and allowing yourself to be grateful for all that you currently have in your life.  When you start to practice gratitude for the things you already have, you will start to notice life opening up in new ways for you.  You will discover opportunities appearing, and you will feel happier inside.  Gratitude also helps to dissolve fear, it helps us to see how amazing our lives are, and encourages us to say yes to experiences that will enrich our lives further - therefore increasing our level of expectation for more good stuff to happen.

So you have the power to turn it around.  It takes practice, and it takes time.  Your belief systems may have been ingrained for many years and so it's going to take a little time to change your thought patterns.  But it's doable.
Expect daily miracles, expect good stuff to happen, expect to feel good and to feel happiness!

Watch each day how things begin to change when you focus your attention on consciously creating your life by choosing to appreciate what you have and expecting more good stuff to come your way.

You might have a blip - that's ok, and natural - the positive thing about a blip is when you notice it and change your thoughts to get yourself back on track.  Each time you do this you're re-wiring the hardware in your brain to create new neural pathways, which in time will become new belief systems, which in turn, become your life.

Before I go...

My Christmas Hearts Workshop is now filling up - tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite, priced £37.00.
Click here to find out more about this event, and to book your place.

Enter code: get my ticket

Hope you can make it!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Making a Dream Real

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting outside a pub with a cold glass of white wine in Saltburn up in the North East, looking out to sea.  It was early evening and the sun was beginning to set in spectacular fashion over the water.  There was a line of surfers waiting to catch a peach tinged wave and on the horizon the maritime lights of ships twinkled.

I sat with my hands wrapped around my glass, and looked out, drinking it all in.
I want this, I thought.  This is my happy place, by the sea.  I want to be able to come down to the shore in the evening and watch the boats, listen to the waves and the cry of the gulls.  I want this to be my life.
My mind began to wander, as it often does at times like this and I began to ask myself some questions.

How can I get from where I am to where I want to be?

It suddenly struck me, like the proverbial brick at the back of the head - I needed to focus on my passion and my purpose in order to move my life forward.  I was suddenly acutely aware that I had been drifting along in life for quite a long time and this gave me the jolt that I needed.

Although I am already living one of my biggest dreams in being an artist, I knew that there was more in life for me than just creating art.  I saw how over the last few years, despite enjoying my work enormously a small dark hole had begun to emerge inside, and it had grown bigger turning into a depression.  Although I live in a nice corner of the world, it wasn't where I truly wanted to be, and I knew it.  I cried often, I felt trapped and stuck, and didn't know what to do to change.  I saw a doctor during that time and took medication for a few years because I was at such a loss as to what to do, only knowing I couldn't stand another day feeling so bloody lost and wretched.  I eventually went to see an herbalist, who helped me wean off the strong medication with soothing herbs and tonics, I went back to yoga, started to walk and cycle, swim and meditate.  I made changes and felt better, but still I knew I wasn't 100% fulfilled and now I know why. 

Outside that pub, watching the surfers that evening I realised what I wanted to do and I realised what had been holding me back for so long.  I wanted to teach art, I wanted to share what I do with other people, it was only fear of course that was standing in my way.  In that moment, the desire to have the life of my dreams was stronger than it had ever been and I knew it was time to take action instead of sitting back and wistfully hoping for something magic to happen.  I knew I would have to do the work, I knew I would have to invest my time, my heart and my soul into it, and I'd have to look fear in the face and tell it squarely where to go.  I knew I would not be able to move forward and achieve what I wanted if I played it small.

We came home from Saltburn and my head was bursting with ideas...for classes, workshops, online courses...as well as blog posts and emails sharing what I know...I felt so fired up and excited but also a little nervous - this is new territory for me, but nerves are good, it means I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and moving forward.

It was the night after we came home that I was lying in bed unable to sleep, my mind still full of new ideas when I had a light bulb moment:

A Christmas workshop, an afternoon of painting Christmas heart decorations with a small group of people in a lovely location...I envisaged fairy lights and mince pies, laughter, fun and conversation and everyone going home with a wonderful decoration that they had created in a creative and inspiring environment.

I'm so, so pleased to tell you that I have booked a venue and will be releasing the booking information for my very first workshop soon!  I am so excited to share this with you, and  hope you will be able to join me in Yorkshire, in November for a really special afternoon.

If you would like to be on the waiting list you can sign up very easily on my homepage - just scroll to the bottom and fill in the last sign up form, I will be sending more information out in the next week or two all about where, when and how much etc.

This is just the beginning of a very exciting new journey for me.  I now have plans to host online classes and possibly local weekly art classes too, as well as sharing heaps of content with you online here.  I am fired up and feeling happy like I haven't in a long time and I know that I'm heading in the right direction, on the path to my dream life.  It won't happen overnight, there will be some tough obstacles to overcome no doubt but for the first time in years I now have a purpose, and a vision.  I know where I'm headed.