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Guilty Pleasures

Posted on 5 February, 2020 at 6:40 Comments comments (36)



During a recent coaching session, a client spoke of her "guilty" pleasure, which was watching “Eastenders”. She felt that instead of watching this, she "should" be reading, exercising, working, doing house work, anything other than sitting watching a soap on the television. Even though, she added, it was usually the only television she watched.


We established that she really enjoyed the programme and got extremely involved in the storyline. She loved that she had followed these families for years. She didn't use the programme as background, but sat engrossed in it. So why, I asked, should she feel so guilty about having half an hour a day (or on a busy week, a “box set” binge on a Sunday), which was entirely about enjoyment? Entirely about her enjoyment?


Life doesn't have to be about spending every moment striving for goals, having adventures or doing activities to fill a page turning biography. Certainly those things can give you pleasure and if you like doing them, then go for it!


But pleasure can also be in the simple things, like the regular appointment with “Eastenders”. Or it could be time spent getting nails done, having a massage, doing a crossword. And if you don't think you have a guilty pleasure, I often find it’s one of those things which when you mention it to other people, you immediately strive to justify: ”Manicure I have to look professional”; "Massage - I have a bad back”; ”Crosswords - I'm doing it to keep my mind working". Personally, I love a couple of hours with a cup of tea and my feet up in front of a really good classic film.


We work hard. We strive towards our achievements. We all have to battle through circumstances which can seem beyond our control. At some point, we all need to take some time out to just "enjoy" for the sake of enjoyment. (And for those who still aren't convinced, doing something completely different can often give the sub-conscious time to ferment ideas.) 


So what guilty pleasure will you be indulging in tonight?!


If this has struck a chord with you and you want to find out if coaching will support you, check out how we could work together and get in touch.

Get Time on Your Side

Posted on 29 January, 2020 at 6:55 Comments comments (2)



Many years ago, I worked in the UK office of an international charity. We used to work long hours –I was often in at 8am and leaving 10 hours later. This was regarded as child’s play by the US office, where they came in at 8am and often worked until midnight. We were often made to feel like lightweights, lacking commitment.


Then I went over to the States to work in the New York office for a week and I discovered something fascinating. My colleagues, with all due respect, didn't produce more work; they simply took longer to do it.


In part, it was because they ran out of energy and so were being less effective. It was also because, as they expected to be in the office until midnight, they took more and longer breaks. (In those days, they were cigarette breaks, taken in the lunchroom wreathed in a permanent smoky haze.) They were, in effect, adding two or three hours to their day. Don't get me wrong, I am a great believer in taking quick breaks to boost your energy. However, taking a 30 minute coffee break because you know you are probably going to be there late perhaps not the most sensible way to do things.


When I came back to London, I had a huge rethink of how I worked. I work long hours because it was expected of me; it "showed my commitment", not only to others, but to myself. (This is a trap many people fall into when starting work as freelancers/business owners; how can you be taking it seriously if you aren’t working 70 hours a week!) I started setting boundaries: I wouldn't be at my desk until 9am; I would take an hour for lunch (which have been previously eaten and my desk) and I would leave at 6pm.


By becoming more focused on the time I was working and letting people know the boundaries, I became far more effective. Instead of the work expanding to fix the open-ended time, I was more efficiently both in time management and quality because I was working with my best. And by getting my evenings back, I became more relaxed and more of myself.


The lesson from this is to be more conscious about how you use your time. Instead of saying, “I’ll stay here until it’s finished”, say “I’m going to leave at 6pm, so I better get as much done as possible”. Ring fence time to do specific jobs and work in a focused way and it will give you more time to kick back and relax, try something new, and just feel on top of your work.


So what time will you work to today?


Take Five with Brad Kenny

Posted on 20 January, 2020 at 8:15 Comments comments (26)


Brad Kenny is an international contemporary artist, with works in collections in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Russia.

 

With an MA in Fine Art from the University of Chichester, Brad is attracted to Expressionist characteristics of strong colours, abstraction/distortion and individual experiences, exploring emotions, identity, character and narrative through portraiture. Being a dyslexic artist, Brad sees painting as a language, that is not easily written or expressed; it is a way of communication and interpretation. Brad's style, technique and subjects continue to develop; the abstract element of his paintings, allows him a form of expression which focuses on the human condition for the contemporary age.

 

Brad is an Artcan Member.



In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?

I love the fact my artwork is down to my own creativity (albeit, sometimes influenced by the world around me), that I can create and develop anything within my art practice, under my own control. I can focus on anything that inspires, interests or challenges, it is limitless on what I can create and how I go about it.


 

Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?

 

I would say a recent new hero of mine would be Muhammad Ali. During my time in studio, I listen to motivational videos and what I love is hearing how much Ali talks ‘’BIG’’ about himself. Some may say ‘’it’s being cocky’’, but I think lots of us lack that self-confidence or belief to say "I AM THE GREATEST", and if we don’t believe, why should we expect others to?



What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?

 

To have a side hussle or side project. My main practice is painting, my side hussle is framing, photography and commercial drawing.


 

If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?

 

When it comes to artist block my top tips would be; to become an observer and absorber. Take a step back and look at art that catches your eye, attend more art fairs, galleries and exhibitions, surround yourself with other creatives, and listen to them speak about their work, gather information and you will naturally begin to think. This perhaps will encourage a wider experimentation with your materials, challenging you to try new and varied subjects / works to create, this will often lead you to discover a route out of your artist block.

 


And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?

 

I would be a toe caped boot, wear them down the street as well as jumping and the mud and getting messy. Also looks like a normal boot but tough on the inside it could stop a nail.


Links:

https://www.bradkennystudio.com

Are You An Imposter?

Posted on 15 January, 2020 at 7:05 Comments comments (2)




Many years ago, I read a book by respected journalist (and later MP) Martin Bell. Amongst all his fascinating experiences and insightful analysis, there was one little bit which jumped out at me as a revelation.


He said he was always waiting for the moment when someone realised that he didn’t know what he was talking about.


What?! But surely it was only me who thought that? Only me who thought that any moment my cover was going to be blown and I was going to be exposed as a total fraud.


It was a marvellous moment to read this in Bell’s book. This multi-award winning journalist, respected by his peers and audiences, had the same concerns as me. I was “normal”!


Imposter Syndrome is a recognised condition that happens to most of us at some point and has been discussed by people with far more knowledge about the science of it than me. My knowledge comes simply from my own experience of those “who, me?” moments. But the important thing is that it is not my issue - as the marvellous, Award-winning musician Tim Minchin said in his excellent interview on the Inside the West End podcast, anyone who says they haven’t experienced imposter syndrome is lying.


It can pop up when you least expect it and the trick is to not let it get in your way.


Acknowledge what is happening and then keep going, using it as energy to power through.


Look back on your successes.


Acknowledge your individual, unique experiences and insights.


And if you want to remind yourself it is not just you, check out the link below to a great story from Neil Gaiman - another person who gets attacks of Imposter Syndrome. 


If this has struck a chord with you and you want support in getting passed this or other issues, check out how we could work together and get in touch.


Links:

https://play.acast.com/s/insidethewestend/2823aa13-c30d-44d4-9028-81e41385b8b9

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2017/05/the-neil-story-with-additional-footnote.html

The Difference a Decade Can Make

Posted on 8 January, 2020 at 8:10 Comments comments (2)

 


"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.

Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction."   

Bill Gates

 


If you are making plans for where you want to be in ten years time, the best way can be to start by looking back.

 

It is so easy to defeat yourself before you even start out. You have a great idea for a project, for your life, but because you can’t see it happening in the immediate future, you take your foot off the pedal or throw in the towel completely.

 

But what would happen if you dug in for the long term? As Bill Gates says, we underestimate what we can achieve in 10 years. (Indeed, I have seen people put together a 10 year plan and see it fulfilled within year 7 or 8.)

 

Looking back in my own life, a decade ago I was a year into my new business. (Just 18 months prior to that, self employment hadn’t even been on my radar!). In the last 10 years, I worked with an amazing array of clients around the world, created collaborations with great organisations, become a public speaker, created videos and written a book!

 

Frankly, if the me of today had gone back in time to the me of 10 years ago and painted a picture of my life now, the ‘old’ me would have thought, “This is going to be worse than I thought - she is obviously on medication.”!  

 

There was no way the me of 10 years ago could have foreseen all the brilliant and wonderful things that were going to open up for me. However, I sat down with a coach and started creating my own possible future, rather than just hoping it would all get better.

 

So, where will you be in 10 years’ time?

Attitude

Posted on 2 January, 2020 at 3:45 Comments comments (1)


 


"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."

Maya Angelou

 

 

The last year has just come to an end and the new year has just begun. Fact. But how do you view that fact?


Do you see last year as a wasted opportunity? Or are you focussing on this year as a wonderful blank sheet on which anything could be written?

 

You stuck in your work and need support.

Do you see this as a weakness or as an opportunity for others to express themselves and share their skills with you?

 

An element of your project doesn’t work out as expected.

Do you see this as a failure or a chance to find a new way of doing things?

 

Whichever side you came down on (or anywhere in between) in the examples above, it was just your way of thinking or feeling about the situations. These are your attitudes.

 

Attitudes can be positive or negative. They can sometimes be long standing, hanging around your mind almost like a habit. But if they aren’t working for you, they can be changed.

 

When things don't quite work out or you are feeling panicked or uncertain, adopting a positive attitude can help you see new opportunities and break through barriers. Even if you find this difficult, at least giving yourself the space to step back and see a positive attitude as an option can help you to look at alternative solutions. This is not about having an unrealistic outlook, only about knowing you have a choice on how to view situations, finding the lessons and opportunities out of them.

 

If you can have a positive mental attitude, it will often take on a tangible form, with others seeing you as a positive, confident person who is enjoyable and inspiring to be around and to work with.  And funnily enough, you may find that more and more positive things start to happen around you!

 

For more advice on how to change your attitude, check out my vlog Catch It, Check It, Change It.  https://youtu.be/PSLU96Vx5i0


Christmas Greetings!

Posted on 18 December, 2019 at 4:05 Comments comments (1)



 

and all best wishes for a marvellous 2020

- the beginning of a new decade!

 

The Catching Fireworks® office will close from 24th December, reopening on 2nd January 2020.


In the meantime, you can still:

 

Book for 2020: Creating Your Year Vision (and Beyond) Friday, 10 January 2020 2pm to 3:30pm, Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1 (https://www.catchingfireworks.co.uk/public-speaking )


Register interest in #ArtBizBootcamp 2020 - Be Smart About Art's signature 10 month online course, with Susan J Mumford and myself, starting February 2020. (https://www.catchingfireworks.co.uk/public-speaking)


Start 2020 (and the new decade!) by investing in yourself. Apply for a coaching place and a free consultation phone call. (https://www.catchingfireworks.co.uk/coaching)


 Buy What's Your Excuse for not Succeeding as an Artist?: Overcome your excuses, nurture your creative potential and thrive. (https://www.catchingfireworks.co.uk/my-book)

Christmas Lessons on Time Management

Posted on 11 December, 2019 at 5:20 Comments comments (1)


Photo by Barry Plott from Pexels


 

I had a conversation with a freelance colleague recently about Christmas and the lessons we can learn from it.


As a freelancer, with a freelancer husband, she was talking about the dilemma of having to work for some of the time during the holiday period, whilst also wanting to give their young children a great Christmas break. This is a situation which many people find themselves in.


We talked through all the possible logistical options, for example: 

  • deciding in advance which days were going to be their ‘working’ days and which ‘holiday’ days with their children; 
  • agreeing with two sets of grandparents, very eager to babysit, when they would take the children on treat days; 
  • setting up one play date in their home in exchange for their children going to other childrens‘ play dates; 
  • finding out what activities there are in their local area;
  • each parent having a special day with the children, whilst the other one worked, etc.


My colleague, already excited about getting Christmas handled, had a real lightbulb moment when she realised she could actually think like this all the time. She could plan ahead, to try and make her work and childcare balance better, giving both her and her children a better experience. And even those of us without children can use forward planning to make sure we make the best use of our Christmas time - and any other time for that matter.  (Obviously, life is never straightforward and something will often come along and throw things into disarray, but at least a good chunk of your planning will turn out as you expect.)


The second lesson to take away is that if you have identified a ‘work’ day and a ‘play’ day, then make sure you enter into it fully.  Don’t spend your work day feeling guilty about (in this case) not being with your children. And definitely don’t spend the play day feeling guilty that you should be doing working.  Be mindful, savour what you are doing and do it wholeheartedly.


However you decide to work, have a happy Christmas!

Take Five with Helena Appio

Posted on 4 December, 2019 at 4:45 Comments comments (0)



Helena Appio is a multi faceted creative with parallel careers as an award-winning film-maker, textile designer, artist, writer and educator. Her creative output defies easy classification but exhibits a profound commitment to the stories of humble people existing outside the media limelight, whose everyday work makes a difference in the world. 

Helena has recently created a suite of paintings, 'The Wisdom Of Angels' combining imaginative portraits of women with the talismanic iconography of traditional African indigo textile designs. 'The Wisdom Of Angels' draws our attention to the women who distribute good wishes and the protection of love, without name or acknowledgement. It is a tribute, celebrating female industry and creativity, and holds a critical mirror to the hierarchy in Western art criticism between ‘fine art’ and ‘craft’. It is also a manifestation of Helena's intention to extend the magical tradition – each piece is intended to act as a shrine, conveying a blessing to its audience.

Helena's pieces will be on display in a group show, 'Other Perspectives" with three other artists, from 6th December 2019 to 4th January 2020 at J Brown, 281 Portland Road, London SE25 4QQ.  (See Links below for more details.)


In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?

I love working in many different mediums, painting, film making, drawing and writing. My perfect project would be one where I can bring all these elements into one place. I’m currently working on a multi media, partially written, partially graphic novel, partially filmic piece about my mother! Ideally I’d like the project to include images of embroideries I created about her and fragments of films that I have produced about her.

 

Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?

I admire all those women artists who just kept on working whether they received recognition in their lifetimes or not, so, Alma Thomas, Frida Khalo, Annie Albers, Elaine de Kooning, Harriet Powers.

 

What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?

I made a documentary for The Arts Council many years ago called “A Portrait Of Mr Pink”.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXh_sho2NGw) Mr Pink had come to the UK in the 1960s from Jamaica and had bought a house in Lewisham, London which he decorated himself with vibrant colours both inside and out. It became a local land mark. I found the experience of making the film profoundly moving. Mr Pink had created a world for himself and had not allowed the opinions of others to influence his creativity. At one point in the film he says about his house, “Some people may like it, some people may not, but I like it myself”. His attitude taught me not to compare myself to others and to accept that not everyone will like everything you create.

 

If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?

Have a rest, go out, see a film, go to an exhibition, meet friends and take some inspiration from life, then start again, things often don’t look so bad after a rest. If a piece of work is really not what you want it to be, try re working it, cutting it up using parts of it as a collage etc.

 

And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?

I’d be a sparkly shoe of many different colours covered with all sorts of feathers, jewels and embroidery. I trained as a textile designer and I can’t resist collecting buttons, fake jewels, votive ornaments, sequins and vintage embroidery.


LINKS:

https://www.instagram.com/helenaappioartworks/

https://www.facebook.com/events/543058109760975/

A Thank You Goes a Long Way

Posted on 27 November, 2019 at 4:40 Comments comments (0)



Let me tell you a story.


A woman has a painting which was created for and given to her late father.


Enjoyed during his lifetime, the painting continued to give the woman pleasure after his death, for itself and for the family link.


After a few years, the woman decided the get the painting reframed, to suit her new home and to give the painting a longer life. This made her think about the artist, so she Googled him. Luckily, he was still alive so she wrote to him, to thank him for the joy the painting has given; she included a photo in its’ newly reframed state.


A few weeks later, the artist phoned her. He was delighted to see his painting and to find out it was still much loved.


The woman was delighted to hear the full story of how the painting came into being, instead of the sketchy details which had been passed down. Between them, they shared stories of the man for whom it was painted - a friend to one, a father to the other.


Both went away from the call having shared some lovely memories and happy to have enjoyed the glow of gratitude, as receiver and giver. (It is lovely to receive a letter of thanks out of the blue and just as lovely to write one.)


So, who could you write a thank you letter to today?


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