Since I am now apparently smitten by this art form, and since my two instructors - Jolene Ballendine and Chris Dinger - were so brilliant at creating safe, inviting environments and getting us students to take giant risks, I decided to ask them about what improv has to teach us about creativity and life in general. I was delighted by what they had to say.
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.
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.
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.
I don’t strive to be a full-time artist so that I can feel burned out and anxious. I do it so that I can feel fulfilled, challenged, connected and joyful. And when I’m not feeling that way, I know something is wrong. This is because I’ve done a lot of work around figuring out how I want my life to feel, instead of just making a list of accomplishments to check off as I go. Most of the time, we’re encouraged to set goals based on outward measures of success. But when we’re not clear how we want that success to feel, it often doesn’t turn out how we thought.
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.’
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.
In my last post I wrote about my struggles with social anxiety and all the things I did that made it worse: obsessing over what was wrong with me, trying to fix myself, reading endless books about communication and social skills, putting my tale of woe on repeat, and letting other people define me. In this post and the next one, I want to share what I've done that has helped, and how you can apply what I've learned to your own life.