Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Ever feel like a fraud?

Image credit: Arvin Febry via Unsplash.com

Impostor syndrome is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalise their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’. It’s a limiting belief based on fear, a nasty little trick of the out-dated lizard brain that is actually trying to help but instead is a complete hindrance. It kicks in as a form of protection - being good is scary because it's hard work and with that comes an element of risk. Impostor syndrome flies in to rescue you in the face of danger!

Research suggests that over 70% of the population have experienced this inability to internalise our success at some point in our lives and that list includes a list of the great and the good or, as they think of themselves, ‘a bunch of frauds’ – international best-selling author Neil Gaiman, activist and author Maya Angelou, actresses Meryl Streep, Emma Watson & Jodie Foster, genius Albert Einstein, businesswoman Sheryl Sandberg … the list goes on, and yes I’m in there too (well not the great and the good!) – in fact I thought I invented it!

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”  
Maya Angelou

The typical scenario sees a successful person gaining a promotion, getting their work published or receiving praise and adulation. Being in this position can be a little nerve-wracking as most of us are hard-wired to want to keep it up, we can’t quite believe we made it, we compare ourselves to others and worry about how they perceive us. We expect at any moment to be ‘found out’. Sufferers might then either work harder, earn more praise and set the cycle going again or undervalue themselves.

The daemon did it

Sometimes the syndrome takes a new angle. Frequently I’ve read back over a piece of work I laboured over months ago and can’t quite believe that it came out of my own fingertips. I believe it’s because of our inner genius, our muse, or whatever you want to call it. I first became aware of this phenomenon while listening to Liz Gilbert’s incredible TED lecture. She explains that the Greeks and Romans believed that creativity wasn’t something that came FROM us, but rather it came TO us in the form of what they called our genius or daemon – an entity that, like a guardian angel, was assigned to us and could be equally blamed for our works of art and our creative madness – a bit like an invisible friend I guess. (Read more on the Genius/Daemon here)

Liz encourages our belief in this genius for our own sanity so we can then steer clear of the route of the tortured artist. After all, it’s far easier to blame your Muse for taking a holiday than to believe you just can’t birth a new idea or feel the desire to pick up a paintbrush again.

Likewise if this other entity had a part in your success, then maybe that’s the reason we suffer from Imposter Syndrome or have no recollection of creating a piece of work. We didn’t. Our genius did it!

Brain dump

Impostor Syndrome is yet another form of interruption and distraction. The brain can be a peculiar organ, it seems to delight in feeding our conscious with a million and one other thoughts than the one we need at that precise moment. Right now I am thinking three steps ahead in this article while also wondering if I’ve got any new emails, checking the time for my next coaching call and itching to check my most recent post on Facebook to see if there’s any new conversation. Err, where was I?

By inviting in all those distracting thoughts we also welcomed their best mate – anxiety. We step outside of flow, lose concentration and fret about items outside of our current remit.

We may be tempted to tone ourselves down, play it safe, miss out on opportunity. I am guilty for playing it safe for years - wrapped up in a cosy comfort blanket of familiarity, ease and repetition. I stopped believing in myself. Eventually the cashmere turned to horsehair though and I came out in a nasty rash. I knew I was capable of more.

Impostor Syndrome is just another distraction sent to try us, but fear not, there are ways to control the beast!

How to get over it
  1. Share it! I had no idea Impostor Syndrome was even a thing until I read about it in a magazine and saw myself in those eye-opening paragraphs! Talk about your experiences with your friends and peers and laugh at how silly we are all being! Convince others of their worth and they will surely help you see through your own  unfounded feelings of inadequacy.
  2. Make a list of your achievements. We give our failures far more memory than we should so sometimes our wins (even the small ones) need a helping hand to make it to the hall of fame.
  3. Keep a folder of emails where colleagues and friends have given you praise for a job well done – I call mine ‘Nice Things’. Read them over and over until you actually believe what they are saying! I think the most powerful are those from work colleagues or strangers on social media who are unlikely to bolster the truth and your ego in the way you mother might! Read through them when struck by fear and doubt. Give yourself a well-deserved warm and fuzzy feeling!
  4. Accept that you played a part! A big part! Whether or not you believe in the idea of a divine force sneaking into your subconscious and crafting your magnum opus, it was still YOU! I give you permission to give yourself a little pat on the back for a job well done. Remind yourself that if you did it once, you can again.
  5. Be present. Lock the door to distraction and imposter syndrome – you might find that a simple visioning meditation will do the trick, or just count backwards from five to zero to switch your focus. 
  6. Watch for the pause. Self-doubt can kick in at any time so get in the habit of noticing the types of situations when it is most likely to occur and be bold and leap in ahead. Make your decisions count.
  7. Embrace and trust in your inner genius – there’s a perfectly formed space right inside of you where she sits and once there you work as a team. There’s magic inside of you – go make it and believe in it and yourself. In all likelihood it won't be easy, but face the pain bravely and work through it.
  8. Look for the positive. Impostor syndrome prevents hubris, keeps us questioning our own ability and takes us on an upward curve of continuous improvement. After all, if we believed in ourselves too completely we might feel too safe, only to discover we were swimming in a sea of sharks without an armoured wetsuit!
 Now, onwards and upwards! Grabbling with the beast of Impostor Syndrome is one of the topics we could discuss together as part of a coaching session. Let me know if I could help.

“The Fraud Police are the imaginary, terrifying force of 'real' grown-ups who you believe - at some subconscious level - are going to come knocking on your door in the middle of the night, saying: We've been watching you, and we have evidence that you have NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE DOING. You stand accused of the crime of completely winging it, you are guilty of making shit up as you go along, you do not actually deserve your job, we are taking everything away and we are TELLING EVERYBODY.”
Musician, Amanda Palmer

Monday, 6 February 2017

Lettuce not panic

In between all the Trump coverage and Beyoncé's twins there slipped a devastating piece of news for the British public. It appears that the salad crops are failing in Spain (due to the rain on the plain) and henceforth all iceberg lettuce will be rationed and courgette's will be sold on the gold markets due to their new value #courgettecrisis.

Supermarkets are only allowing you to buy three, yes that's right a meagre three  lettuces per person per day! My goodness disaster is upon us. Apparently the rationing is to stop Gordon Ramsey and friends raiding the supermarkets when the wholesalers run out in case they have a run on prawn cocktail.

Everyone knows what a rich source of fibre and vitamins the iceberg is - we will have scurvy and rickets before the week is out. I fear for the nation and the nation fears for itself. Callers have been flooding the Jeremy Vine show with horror stories of rabbits and tortoises starving to death... and apparently it portends the first of many Brexit disasters.

Let's just pause a moment shall we...

Aside from the obvious suggestions of eat carrots, cauliflower, kale, onions, parsnips, cabbage etc... instead... Why doesn't anyone focus on the poor sods in Spain whose livelihoods are presumably at risk because their crops failed? Isn't that the story? It's bloody winter anyway - who wants to eat salad when it's barely two degrees above freezing outside? Bring me my carrot soup at once!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Want to catch your dreams?

                                      


I recently left the corporate world with one of the reasons being I was tired of the end goal so often being about profit - always driving for more, more, more. In my role as communicator and engagement consultant I’d often want to do things because I intuitively knew it was the right thing for the employees, but was continually up against the notion that unless you could measure it then it wasn’t worth doing. You had to prove you were impacting the bottom line. I just wanted to make people happy! Yeah, what a hippy right!

So, taking my love of communicating and engaging with others and mixing it up with my passion for the arts and hippy values, I decided to become a Creativity Coach so that I can inject more meaning into both the life of my clients and my own.

I don’t know about you, but making art is more than just the act of putting paint to canvas and creating something pleasing to the eye. In our modern world many of us exist in our left brain – where we rationalise, analyse and use language to make sense of the world.

While over on the more intuitive right side, the subconscious likes to look at pattern, shape, thoughts and put the seemingly disparate together to make links and new meaning. Here feelings and behaviour come to play in our decision making. There is no capacity for language.

Being creative gives you the opportunity to exercise those dormant right brain ‘muscles’. The results are not just pieces of art to grace your walls but a new awareness, better decision making, increased power of thought, learning how to ‘fail fast’ and innovate.

Wouldn’t you like to explore your right brain a little? It might just help you take the steps you’ve been putting off to make major change in your life.
I am guiding a small group through a powerful, creative experience called Vision Quest and it is starting this week. I participated in my own Vision Quest and it changed my life.

It opened me up to all the ways I can create the change I want.
It showed me how I can create the FEELINGS I want to feel in each moment.
I now have my paintings, sacred symbols, guides, talismans, hanging around my home and I LOVE them!

This class is for beginners and the more experienced as there are so many ‘layers’ to it (pun intended!). It’s not just about painting. It’s going on a quest to find the part of you that has been bubble-wrapped and put in storage.
I have more confidence, more hope and more energy to pursue the highest calling for my life. And part of that calling is sharing this experience with you.
I want to invite you to read more HERE.

And if you have any questions, please drop me an email so I can answer them for you!

Maybe you have heard me mention Vision Quest before on this blog or in Facebook. I want you to know this Vision Quest is super special because Whitney Freya, my mentor and creatress of Vision Quest, has lowered the price considerably because the more of us that QUEST, the better our whole WORLD will be!

So check out more HERE and enter Vision2017 at checkout for $200 MORE off the price! Yay!

What do you think? Just let me know. Go HERE to read more. Vision2017 is the magic word to get US$200 off.


Sunday, 22 January 2017

Anticipation versus instant gratificaiton

Image credit: Luke Chesser via Unsplash.com

I have subscription to Spotify. For around £10 a month I have access to virtually every musical genre known to human ears and millions upon millions of tracks. The algorithms know my tastes and provide me with perfect suggestions when I'm looking for something new. It's pure bliss.

My son, who turns into a teenager next month, has suddenly started taking a deeper interest in music. Like me he has varied tastes with his playlists that see country music stars rubbing up against the kind of tunes a parent yells "turn that racket down" at. 'Head-banging music' as my own parents would have called it.

It was back in the early 80s when I made my first purchases of vinyl 7 inches - having finally persuaded Mum and Dad to buy a record player. I remember taking my pocket money to Boots and coming away with Eurthymics Sweet Dreams clutched in my paws (yes, millennials, Boots used to sell music once upon a time!).

There was something to be said about that anticipation. Saving your pennies - £1.20 was a lot back then - and then finally getting the living room to yourself, wiping the dust off the needle and letting the magic happen. It's something my son just won't get. It's all instant gratification and I suppose there's nothing wrong with that. He can go on a musical journey right from the comfort of his phone these days, taking in a bit of early 20th century jazz alongside today's pop funk. His musical education is right there for the taking.

Maybe it's just nostalgia, but there's still something special about slipping the vinyl from the sleeve and hearing that crackle as the needle begins its journey...

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Free 3 video class


Do you wish you could paint? Or are you looking for a more intuitive way to create?

I’ve spent the last four months working with Whitney Freya to become a certified Creatively Fit Coach so that I can guide others through her Vision Quest programme and run my own workshops and courses.

Whitney is a wonderful teacher –full of creative energy that she commits to sharing with others.

Right now you can sign up for a FREE 3 VIDEO SERIES where Whitney shows you how to paint a dreamcatcher. No painting experience required – in fact you’ll be able to see her coach a complete beginner through the process in the videos. Whitney’s process helps build your confidence and bring out your inner artist while also opening your heart up to all manner of creative possibility!

If you love what you learn here, at the end of video 3 Whitney will invite you to continue the process through the Vision Quest training (with a special discount for those who watch the video) which will include coaching from me!

Follow this link to find out more and get your hands on that free video training – I’m painting my Dreamcatcher right now - it needs to be strong enough to hold Donald Trump as I dreamt he was chasing me the other night (he won’t be in the painting though!).

I’m also going to be running some really fun painting party workshops locally. Northamptonshire friends - watch this space! They will be a great opportunity to gather with friends and spend a day having fun, getting messy and creating beautiful art.

I'm so excited!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Grounded


My Goddess of the Lotus

The final stage of my four month Vision Quest with Whitney Freya brought us down to EARTH which is pretty appropriate as I plan to bring into this post an analogy about some cute fluffy creatures with big ears that like to burrow below the earth and make their homes among tangled tree roots, but more on that later.

Here with feet on terra firma we solidified the lessons learned in building our creative practice and gained clarity on what we wanted to manifest going forward.

Working through Air, Fire and Water had prepared the soil ready to plant the seeds that would be the start of new intentions. As I've been painting layers and meaning I've been building my understanding of what it will mean to take my coaching message out into the world.

I've also been realising how important it is to nurture those tiny new ideas and actions. Just like little green shoots, they are tender things that require constant attention - if I don't give them enough light, feed them or leave them in the dark they will wither and die. Ideas and intentions need room to grow, to put out new shoots that explore and develop.

Our the course of Vision Quest we have been learning to switch on and listen to our intuitive mind. The act of creativity, when we are completely in flow, will quiet the noise of our everyday lives and allow messages to come through. This might sound a bit 'woo woo' until you actually try it. Just as our brains sort through the day's events in the form of our dreams at night, so does our right brain like to figure things out.

Ready for the rabbit analogy now? Strictly speaking the bunny wisdom I want to share with you comes from a creature that didn't always live underground - not until he was 'real' anyway! I am of course referring to the Velveteen Rabbit! Tapping into our right brain through the creative process is like rummaging through our stuffing until we find what makes us real.



The simple act of writing down our thoughts and questions we seek answers to on our canvas and then covering them with layers of paint is like spark to a flame for our right brain. As we play, the brain sifts through its store of knowledge and produces solutions. It asks not "what is it?" but "what can I do with it?". Being intuitive opens us up to taking a much wider view, we look from all perspectives, going beyond the here and now. It never ceases to amaze me at what comes out when I start to paint, collage, create. I'll often look back and wonder if someone else made what is before me.

Then, moving off of the canvas and back into 'real' life we begin to learn the lessons from our creative practice. So many times when I make art I'll stare at a terrible first layer and want to quit. But I've learned to keep going, reinventing, trying something new, innovating.  It was just a step on the journey, a test to see if you could fight off any resistance you were struggling with.

And so now, as I develop my coaching practice I'm taking these lessons to heart. I fail fast, try another layer and bring in different tools and methodologies to see what will happen next. It's already making me a better coach.

And if you don't believe me, how about this guy?

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We  have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift."
Albert Einstein

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Going with the flow


“If you are interested in something, you will focus on it, and if you focus attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it. Many of the things we find interesting are not so by nature, but because we took the trouble of paying attention to them.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology Of Engagement With Everyday Life

Have you ever felt the flow? Perhaps it was while watching a movie, playing a console game or ... CREATING! That's when I get it - those times when hours fly past because you are so immersed in the enjoyment of your process. When I'm in flow my intuition seems to take over. It's my right brain kicking in and adding its flavours to my creative juice.

Letting my paint and life flow in the direction it needs to go

Can you remember what it was like when you were a young child and presented with a blank sheet of paper and some poster paints. Did you sit there and moan to the teacher that you couldn't draw or that you didn't know what to paint? Or did you slather colour across the page, sticking your tongue slightly out of your mouth in concentration, and just make something?

Flow is naturally represented by Water and was the element explored by Whitney Freya and my band of vision questers last month. We dove deep into our soul and cleansed ourselves of notions that we weren't good enough or that everything had to perfect.

Imagine your life at present immersed in water right now. Are you all at sea with the waves of life taking control and casting you against the rocks. Is the sand clogging your senses? Do you need a sense of direction?

Or are you at one with your intuition, flowing down the river? When an obstacle appears on the horizon you don't fear it, you just flow right around or maybe grab the things from the water that will serve you and let go of what doesn't.

I've been painting with my intuition, just letting what wants to come make its way onto the canvas. Mostly the same canvas, I've fought the impulse to hang onto something just because it looked good at that moment and instead practiced detachment.


Evolution of a Picasso-inspired painting - later it became a red bird!

The lessons I've learned have applied in my work life too. I was holding onto a role that had been a comfort blanket but hadn't realised how much it had gone from soft and welcoming cashmere to a scratchy horse hair that was bringing me out in a nasty rash! So, I bravely let go of that which no longer served and followed my bliss. Right now for me this is stepping away from my regular income and throwing myself in the deep end as I launch my Creativity Coaching business. Scary stuff but there are no rocks so far! The water is warm and I'm bobbing along just nicely!

And as I flow into this new coaching career I seem to have Liz Gilbert on autoplay in my ear reminding me about how important it is to act on your ideas before they carry on downstream to find someone else to grow them to fruition. So, while in flow I've already launched both a new Facebook Group and a collaborative art project to further help bring my tribe together.

Art is Life. Life is Art.


Friday, 18 November 2016

Phoenix rising

Rising from the canvas - layers of paint underneath this Phoenix

This month on Whitney Freya's Vision Quest programme (where I'm training to become a Creatively Fit Coach) we are working with FIRE! Fire brings forth change and most of us are hard-wired to resist that right! But to create we must burn away resistance and stick our hands in that metaphorical fire. We might not find it as uncomfortable as we first think!

As we grow older and/or step away from a regular creative practice it's easy to carry around thoughts and behaviours that don't serve us. How many times have you said or heard a friend say "I don't have a creative bone in my body" or "I can't paint". Well, I'm here to tell you that as long as you can pick up a paintbrush and drag its laden bristles across a surface... then... YOU CAN! Vision Quest takes us through this process

The single most important change you can make each day is the movement from not creating to creating and once you take that first step it's a delightful ride to creating with wild abandon!

As we grow as artists there's more often than not a desire to make meaning from our creative pursuits, but sometimes just the very act of making the art is meaning enough in itself. The act of laying down colour and watching it mix and settle on the canvas is juicy, exhilarating and even a little bit sexy!

The beauty of many painting and mixed media materials is their ability to layer - to cover up. Not mistakes, never mistakes because we don't make those when we create! Oh no... we just make decisions that we move on from. We find interesting discoveries and openings. We just have to trust in the process.

Pretty soon what we thought was just blobs of colour starts to talk to us, to whisper itself into creation. Just like the Phoenix rising from the flames and all the other metaphors and stories that give us lessons in transformation and alchemy. Fire destroys but also purifies and opens up land to new growth.

Can we burn away your creative tangles and frustrations and open you up to rebirthing your creativity?

Sari - my Phoenix companion


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Art in unexpected places



8.15 on a Friday morning, the tide of humanity sweeps through Moorgate Underground station, head down, bags gripped in sweaty palms. Clear objectives - get out of the station as quickly as possible, avoid the tourists, slow coaches and people dragging tripping devices on wheels. Except for one...

Spot the artist, phone in hand waiting for the seething mass to pass so she can take a photo of the torn and tatty posters glued to the tiles. There's art and story in those layers. Look deeper, journey inside, be pulled in.

I haven't done anything to these photos except to crop them. Each I believe is a work of art on its own worth hanging in the Tate Modern. I wonder how many others saw the lady in the blue dress dancing and leaping across the layers; the man about to burst out with joy and the unrequited lover watching her beau walk away again...







Monday, 3 October 2016

Following my nose

My drawing of Little Bunny from the original illustration by J P Miller

When I was a little girl one of my favourite books was Little Bunny follows his nose, a story about a rabbit that sets off on an adventure with nowhere particular in mind. He just ... follows his nose, in other words his intuition!

There was something about this idea of nose following that I always loved - a clear clue to the free spirit in my nature, the yearning to always know what's around the next corner from the country path and city street to the results from the choices we make.

My intuition and I are friends and, although she doesn't say much, she's always there to nudge me in what she believes to be the right direction. I don't always listen though (bad Lisa!) and usually regret it if I shut out her opinion. My intuition lives in the right side of my brain alongside the power of the subconscious where she looks at pattern, shape, thoughts and puts the seemingly disparate together to make new meaning. She's a clever thing.

Recently I let her give me a huge push. I'd reached a point in my career where I wanted to inject something new into the mix. I've been thinking a great deal recently about sharing the wealth of knowledge and experience I've gained over the years. I've a yearning to make a difference in people's lives - particularly other artists and creatives. I love to talk about creativity, right brain magic and art making. Moving into coaching seemed to offer everything I was after and then, wouldn't you believe it, the Universe only went and delivered me an email from Whitney Freya offering the opportunity to train with her and become a Creatively Fit Coach.

We started our first month in September focusing on the under-utilised power of the right brain - a topic so close to my heart. I was blown away the first time I read Dan Pink's A whole new mind - why right-brainers will rule the future and love to let my right side loose outide the box - to rip it open, tear it up and make something new! Of course, there's a balancing act - we need the left side too, but as the world became more automated our right brains just haven't been given enough to do. For many, they are packed away in bubble wrap and placed in storage. It's time to get them out for a play!

Whitney's tool bag of exercises are designed to exercise and limber up the cramped right side - it was time to understand exactly how we will stretch the creative muscles of our clients' creativity and energise them into artistic action.

This month I've been losing myself in Mandala-making, spending time switching off and being 'me' and just playing with pens on paper.

By far the most interesting exercise I found to be the Soul Scribble. This is a method of tuning out of your left and into your right hemisphere. It's really easy, why don't you have a go now.

Grab a sheet of paper and a pen. Take a deep breath and try to switch off the 'noise' of daily life - you know, the thinking about chores you need to do, the urge to check your phone, wondering what the dog is up to... Try and empty your mind and ask it what it needs you to know.

Now just close your eyes and scribble on the page. About three seconds should be enough. Now, look down. What do you see? A tangled mess of lines? Look again. Turn the page 90 degrees, squint and turn it again. Write down five words inspired by the drawing then just keep writing and see what comes out.

I saw a whale on a stormy sea - was that me? Riding the waves, singing my own song?

Another day I drew my scribble, looked down at the marks on the page and saw a pair of lungs. Not really surprising as I'd had a chest infection all week and was still coughing so hard it felt like I was turning myself inside out. I grabbed at this symbolism and started writing about how my lungs feel clogged. Then the magic happened. I moved beyond the sickness and took my power back. I wrote down the word BREATHE. I realised that the story wasn't about my lungs at all. It was a message to slow down. Maybe that's what the chest infection has forced me to do... I have already started this process but it's given me more clarity. I have put many of my projects on hold so I can focus on becoming a Creatively Fit Coach. I'm putting away the things that aren't serving me at present. Not all of them are bad, far from it. There just isn't space for them in my life right now. That's OK. They can wait.

I saw a face with crazy hair that looked like two women. Was this perhaps the strongest message of all? That my exploration of both sides of my brain is exactly what I should be doing, that I'm learning. The figure on the right side looked like she was climbing out of my head - emerging, ready to move into her own power.

The Soul Scribble is taking us into our right brain, it's speaking in symbology rather than words and forcing us to think differently - it's taking us to answers to unspoken questions. It's incredibly exciting and I can't wait to share this and all the other things I am learning with my clients.

Magic is happening my friends. Stay tuned... there's so much more to come - I feel it in my soul scribbles!


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