Mindfulness is all about observation, and so is drawing. Both require you to slow down and pay close attention to what’s in front of you. Drawing is a great way to practice mindfulness because it allows you to be focused in the present moment - in what is happening right in front of you. And mindfulness can help people who think they can't draw (like me!) because it helps to release the judgement and harsh criticism that keeps people feeling stuck.
When I’m hurtling down a mountain at 40km/h I really need my mind to be on my side. The same is true when I’m flying down the highway on a motorcycle, or navigating a series of rapids in a kayak (though I’ve traded kayaking for white-water rafting). In learning to ride and paddle, I’ve picked up some powerful lessons that carry through to the rest of my life. Here are my favourites.
I realized that while I accomplished a lot more than I had expected in the past 12 months, the overarching theme for the year was constriction -- a feeling of being caught in a prison of my own making. I weighed myself down heavily with unnecessary obligations, adding more and more tasks to an unstable pile. While this definitely helped me take my art business further than it’s ever been before, it also left me with a sour taste in my mouth. This - burned out, worried, stressed, exhausted - is NOT how I want to feel.
Receiving feedback is hard. We need to open ourselves up to the potential of being hurt and of facing things we’d rather ignore. But I also think it’s essential. If you’re struggling with how to receive feedback without shutting down, lashing out, or feeling like a piece of garbage, here are my suggestions based on things I’ve read and my own experience.
We all have times in our lives when our commitments outweigh our energy. When we've said yes to way to many things and can't see how it will all get done. When even the things we love start to feel like a burden and we long for a bottle of wine, our couch, and all the Netflix we can handle (it’s not just me, is it?). I’m coming to the end of one of those seasons and though I am deeply tired and quite achy, I am still standing, with a much lower meltdown factor than I expected. Here are six things that have helped me survive the last month with my joy and creativity (mostly) intact.
This week, as I was writing out this Instagram post, I realized that one word has made more of a difference in my life than any other. It helps me through the worst attacks of anxiety. It strengthens my relationships. And it keeps me moving forward with my art practice and business. It’s not a word we might usually associate with strength and power but trust me, it carries plenty of both. The word is softness and despite its unassuming nature, it has utterly and completely changed my life.
Curiosity is a beautiful thing, but only when it isn’t an obstacle to doing your creative work.
It’s all too easy to keep putting off getting started because you just need a little more information. It can create a powerful mental block that tells you that you’re not ready, you don’t have everything figured out, and you won’t succeed without having it all mapped out ahead of time. I’ve learned that there is no such thing as ‘having everything figured out.’
“How do you take a big idea and break it down so you know what to do for 15 minutes or an hour, in the time that you have? Anything I could do today seems too small to make a difference.”
This all-or-nothing thinking trap is a particularly sticky one. It can be so hard to start a project that you’ve been thinking about for a long time because it tends to build up in your mind to the point where getting started feels hopeless. And things get especially tough when you have tried to work on it but haven’t seen the results you want. The answer? Put a stop to the mind games and sit down and do the work - no matter how much or little time, money, or energy you have.
In the first part of this series, I talked about how social anxiety has impacted my life, and the things I did that made it worse. The second post was about all the ways that I've been working on changing my mindset from fear to openness, and the last post was about the things I've done to push my boundaries and leave my comfort zone. Today is the final post in the series and I'm going to share where I'm at with the process right now and where I see myself going.
This week I'm covering some of the actions, behaviors and situations that have pushed me outside my comfort zone, and helped me become stronger and less fearful. If you haven't already, make sure you read last week's post on mindset shifts, since I've found that pushing myself to do scary things without bringing a ton of mindfulness, softness, and self-care to the table just makes me feel worse about myself.