Monday, February 22, 2016

Independence – Do any of us really have it?

Independence – Do any of us really have it?



Photo by Finola, all rights reserved-message if you'd like to use it
As we celebrate our 37th Anniversary of Independence here in Saint Lucia it seems a good time to reflect on what Independence means.
We all grow up with our parents guiding us in their own way, to be independent. Some do a great job, others barely know themselves what it means, having grown up with the aim of securing a job upon which you will be dependent for the rest of your life, or for many of our mothers, securing a husband upon whom you will remain dependent till death do you part.
I’ve written on Independence before over on Sun, Rain, Or… but that’s the thing – what Independence really is turns out to be hard to pin down! Yes, it’s a level of self-reliance and self-sustainability, but since none of us exists as an atom in a vacuum, then our ‘independence’ tends to involve a whole myriad of relationships and alliances that are what makes life, well, life. And in many cases make life its best and its worst as well, right?! Lordy. What to do?
read more on Island Effect (my new blog)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Let's Talk about Love Baby...

It’s interesting as you grow older and look back at yours and your friends’ lives and the mix of experiences of love, relationships, marriage, divorce, single lives, freedom, loneliness and desires.
www.freeimages.com/photographer/s-s-57764
Love. What really is it? Each heart you ask will give you a different answer and each experience of love a heart goes through makes pinning down what love ‘is’ as impossible as figuring out how many leaves will fall with each breath of wind.

There’s a repeating conversation that I suspect many of us have: The essence of it is what X person, should or should not do about their less-than-perfect relationship. In this conversation, there is usually a ‘good’ partner, diagnosed as being misguided in believing they ‘love’ the other ‘bad’ partner and so is enduring no end of misery.

Now, while there are definitely people out there who really are NOT good partners…is this what is really the core of the problem for most of us?

Please continue reading  on my new blog - Island Effect 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

I call it as I see it

An interesting question on decision-making popped up on Facebook last week. Stan Bishop, one of my favourite local reporters asked:  “Which is better -- running around in circles or being stuck at square one?”

Well, for me, the answer was easy

Somewhere to go

“I'm going for stuck at square one. You know its square 1 and there are others to get to. Being stuck is only permanent if you let it be. Keep checking for a solution and you'll get one eventually. Circles....well, that's the definition of madness - doing the same thing over n over again”

But reading others’ ideas was interesting and made me realize, yet again, that whatever your problem, how you look at it determines how you find a solution – and nobody can tell us all the ‘right’ way to see things.

Stagnation

Vernita had a completely different take to mine: “The fact of being stuck at square one sounds very stagnant I have hot feet so I will opt for going round in circles. Maybe, just maybe whilst going round in circles I may encounter something or someone that will help change the circumstance.”

Two-for-One

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Time is on my side, yes it is!

www.freeimages.com/photographer/herrschmid-44485
Ok, so last weekend I started unsubscribing from blogs, newsletters, Facebook page notifications…I thought it’d take me a couple hours on Sunday and I’d be done.

Well, not so fast chappy! I unsubscribed to a lot of things on Sunday – I had both Saturday’s and Sunday’s emails to deal with, and the 3 main emails I still use - but what I didn’t expect, was that I would still be going right up to this morning!!!!

So, guess how many I am up to at time of posting… no, I’m not going to tell you in the post, have a guess. One guess each and whoever comes closest first will get one of the few remaining 2016 Nature Calendars I have in stock and if you have one already, well, they make great gifts J

What shocked me is the realization of how much time I allowed to be eaten away each and every day in the task of keeping my inboxes clear. And how much negative energy I was adding to my day if I allowed all that undealt-with clutter to stay in my subconscious.

Let’s do a little math:

10 minutes first thing in the morning while you look at the titles and select those you know you won’t read and delete them.

www.freeimages.com/photographer/winjohn-50474
15 minutes while you half-read some of those you ‘want to’ / ‘should’ read

20 minutes every 3 days when one catches your attention and you dwivay (divert aimlessly) down a path that may or may not significantly improve your life.

In a week, that’s 70 + 105 + 60(ish) 


= 235 minutes or nearly 4 hours of life.

4 hours…that rings a bell…Tim Ferris and his famous ‘4 Hour Work Week’ book (which I am yet to read, I got the gist of it from various blogs, but maybe I should take a read…). Now, tell me, if the theory is that in 4 hrs a week it is possible to do enough targeted work to earn you a comfortable living, then why, oh why do so many of us let such a significant chunk of our lives fritter away?

Think what you could fill it in with:

“Oh! I wish I had time for the gym! L
“Oh I wish I had time to learn to sail”
“Oh, where will I find the time to visit some of the exiting spots in my island/village/town/country…”
“One day I will find time to paint, read, swim, learn Spanish, go to my kids’ shows, clean my store-room, write my novel, adjust those clothes, learn golf…………………”

So, I have resolved to stop asking people carte blanche, to subscribe to my blog – by all means do if you feel it is going to be a worthy read that will help you move forward on your journey – I have kept a small selection of subscriptions for this purpose, but otherwise, do the more important things! (Remember I will move to http://islandeffect.blogspot.com, so if you do subscribe, please do so there :)

I’ve chosen to invest some time in figuring what my own special priorities really, truly are and to concentrate on putting things in place, bit by little-step bit, to make those happen. As I talked about last Sunday, I have signed up with a coach, Debra Ross, "Life by Choice"  and we are setting do-able weekly to-do lists. This is allowing me to have ‘experiences of success’ and yes, it does feel pretty darn good! I realize I am still not fully comfy with my goal levels and progress, but I realize also that that is a part of the process, so I am not beating myself up over it J

In this process of figuring my priorities, I realized there was an unexpected blessing in the challenges of my 5-day a week job that has been a real tax on my energy – physical and mental: I stopped being able to do my art/craft/other pursuits because I couldn’t muster the energy to do things, and this unexpectedly, opened up a space for me to see my priorities in a very different light.

Ok, I’ve been on this journey of self-rediscovery for quite a few years now and I’m sure that helped, but what happened was I found that as I lounged or went to bed early tired, but could not sleep, my mind wandered all over the place, thinking, wanting, yearning, being pissed, annoyed, occasionally depressed, over all that I was losing, what I felt I couldn’t do anymore.  

What this process allowed was that I gradually, (over a couple of years, but I’m sure it can be done fasterJ), figured out what I really wanted to do: I no longer ‘had’ to do these things to survive – I have a decent salary, that part is definitely a blessing of the day-job, so now it became purely a ‘what do I REALLY want to do’ and that question applied whether I went the path of keeping the day-job or moving forward to a new version of being self-employed.  So when Debra came along with her coaching – it fitted very nicely in to what I was almost unconsciously already doing myself. Now, with the coaching, it has much more definite focus.

Also, per a convo I had today: Don’t buy into that crap that you have to be all positive feeling and big goals all the time – positive affirmations are good, but ONLY if you are really ready to buy into the positivity, otherwise, if the bar it set too high, they can just seem like one more unattainable goal and big reason to beat up on yourself for ‘not being good enough’. Allow yourself to be occasionally sad, mad, depressed about something, recognize the feeling, respect that it exists and see if you can let yourself find some learning from it. Maybe permission to accept you don’t like something, maybe realization that you are asking too much of yourself or trying too hard to be what someone else says you should be…take it one teeny step at a time if you need to and know that sometimes, being still for a while neither moving forward or backward, just ‘being’ is just fine too.

So, Sunday morning finds me still a little un-used to the dearth of emails to deal with in my inboxes. It does give me a good feeling, but I am yet to really effectively reorganize my day to make best use of the time I now have. I can say I HIGHLY recommend doing this though. It is very cathartic and I know in the big picture it is worth a huge amount: I will put this new time I have to good use!

Me n Suzie on top Pigeon Point - time well spent!
Time is so precious and modern life has so many ways of helping us waste it. Take what is yours back and do just one little thing you really want to do instead.
 
Don’t forget to put in your guess for the number of unsubscribes I have done! And if you do the same yourself, please do share your feelings on what it did/didn’t do for you J









PS I am not being paid to talk about Debra's coaching - I just genuinely feel this journey is a good story to share with you all and the coaching is part of it, so don't be put off by thinking I'm going the 'paid promo-blog route' I'm not, I am promoting her, but only because I think it's proving to be a very useful part of my journey.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Laser Focus, the Real ‘Secret’ and Experiences of Success


Distraction is SO, SO easy to find isn’t it?


I had a mini-jolt listening to my current audiobook ‘Unlabel’ on my way home Friday when the author said something about his ADD – can’t remember exactly what, but it fit me – always being distracted by things I want to learn and things I can do. It’s a dangerous place to be if you are self-employed and responsible for creating your own income and even if you just want to live a full life. I think most of us in today’s world have ‘ADD tendencies’ – not the full-blown illness, but enough that our lives are constantly derailed. But I believe this ‘ADD’ is a thing I CAN push aside. I can have laser focus and a life on smooth running tracks. We all can.

So, here comes my start to 2016. I don’t ‘do’ New Year’s resolutions; they usually just give you one more ‘experience of failure’ and let’s face it, most of us have enough of to go round and share with every passing stranger if we wanted to right?

Damn! You see! I just went off and checked something on Facebook because my phone pinged! Ok, ‘focus, focus, focus…’ phone is now on silent. Simple tools, like ‘mute’ buttons, to help you achieve your goals ARE worth using.

So, it’s not quite a New Year’s resolution because I’ve been working up to this all last year, but I have decided that I MUST get back on track with my personal business goals this year. I have been derailed by taking on the M-F day-job which has proven to be a real energy drain as there is never a moment when, in my position, I can say I have completed my work: it’s one of those roles where the pile of things to do is sky-high and messy and there’s no time allowed to sort it out…yuh know?

Happily, we now have a new, very organized and capable Boss who is, using Project Management techniques, gradually, bringing things into a manageable focus – and that has helped immensely! It makes such a difference, and can for you too –simple project management tools really help with many small businesses – especially creative ones and are easily applied to home and personal life; they can really help move you forward to a clear view of the light of day. 

You CAN change your reality and have time pockets popping up regularly available for LIVING!

Over the years, I have read and practiced MANY techniques – starting with ‘The Secret’ and  some ‘Clear your Clutter’ book – can’t remember which one. I subscribed to some blogs etc…and as the internet of how-to’s has grown (of which, yes, I know, ironically I am a part), I have gradually realized that you can really have WAY too much guidance in your life and that the real ‘secret’ is that there’s a reason there’s no film called ‘Think It And They Will Come’ … because it is DOING things, ACTION, Building it, that makes things happen!!!

The Secret in a nutshell: If you think it, you will be it
The REAL secret: if you don’t do it, you can think you ass off and you’ll never be it.

ACTION IS EVERYTHING

I’ve written before about how it pisses me off, the mega-bucks industry of telling people they can bend the ways of the universe by focus and all good things will fall into their lap…I believe VERY strongly in our ability to create a positive energy that helps make things happen - what many people would call the power of prayer, but I believe just as much that without laser focused action, no amount of mental, cerebral, spiritual focus will make things materialize.

Luckily the real secret is actually quite doable

By all means choose a few guides and help books – they are all useful, including ‘The Secret’ which I credit with helping me move from a negative life cycle into the positive one I am now in. BUT don’t get trapped in hoarding how-to books!!! Just use a few, and let them lead you to your own conclusions. 

Trust that you CAN: trust in it being really possible and you will find your locks clicking open. You have to make a definite personal choice to allow that to happen. If you don’t, no amount of reading and coaching will unlock you.

Sign up with a coach: If you can afford it (and think carefully about how you decide if you can/can’t ‘afford’ it –this is an investment that should enable you to break out of a negative cycle and start to experience success) sign up with a coach. I signed up officially for my friend Debra Ross’s coaching sessions – Life by Choice – to help me find the laser focus. I had gotten quite far with various books and mini-coaching sessions, and blogs – Mark McGuinness of Lateral Action blog being the one I have had most really useful help from, he also provides coaching to creative people. BUT, I realized I was not, in my current circumstances, able to make my personal goals happen. Recognizing the need for specialized help is a positive, sound business move.

Clear your inbox clutter! The ‘unsubscribe’ button is your friend!!! How often has your plan to ‘get things done’ disappeared into a crazy-maze of internet surfing initiated by that oh-so-interesting-but-really-is-it-really-useful-e-newsletter? (you can get them back when you really DO have more spare time...)

Now, my ‘Aha’ moment BREAK IT DOWN! Chip, chop, section off, divide and conquer! Break it up into small enough chunks that you can get yourself on the road to a whole life-changing EXPERIENCES OF SUCCESS (Arnold Mol, ‘CreatingWinners in the Workplace’ is a good book even if you are a solopreneur)

Make your goals achievable – mini goals – yes, you (may) have your big goal – you may not, and that’s also ok – don’t build an Iron Curtain for yourself by not doing anything because you can’t figure out your life’s dream/ purpose…it will come as you unlock things for yourself

What's your Target?
Use Project Management Techniques – Goals (the big end result) eg  Success as an artist may be a good goal, but heck! How the hell do you get there? Break it down into steps. Baby steps.

Mine for my first week of Life by Choice coaching is to: Create a workable workspace

This involves

Physically moving just those tools and materials out of my badly messed up studio, into my clear living room – so I can work (leaving the big Iron Curtain of clearing my studio aside for now)

Clearing the mental clutter – writing a list of all the ‘little’ things I have to do – for house, family, colleagues, friends…and ticking them all off one by one by making the conscious choice to do them regularly during my breakfast, lunch and evening. NOTE- do not use up all your rest time – this is a non-negotiable – just do a bit each day in each period and you’ll see how doable it is.

Choose a small selection of my photos to work from. This is also to be done while having a glass of wine on an evening – relaxing…enjoying browsing my photos. BUT I have to do it efficiently – once I have enough to get going, then I…GET GOING! Avoid rolling down another slippery slope to ADD-dom! It is NOT necessary to find absolutely the best, perfect things to work on – that is a fairy tale place! Good enough is exactly what is needed!
 


 

Write one blog a week – well ;) here I am…doing it (and while reminding myself of my goals and objectives)

Now, back to the rest of Project Management: Set your goals, then it’s simple – break them down into (if needed) Objectives – so ‘To become a Successful Artist’ – what are your steps?

Maybe ‘find inspiration’ (pick your voice)

Maybe ‘learn X technique’ (keep it laser-focused…DO NOT derail off to A, F,K and Z techniques too!)

Maybe ‘Hold a mini-exhibition’ NEVER be afraid to show your work and get it out there – you don’t have to achieve greatness all-in-one, but you do have to build it step-by-step and believe in yourself. And a piece of extra advice – do market research at these first showings – it will help you decide how to have your authentic voice and the market be really good profitable friends (I am still on this step btw!)

Ok, next Project Management steps are – BREAK IT DOWN into ACTIVITIES – all the little steps needed to make these Objectives happen – AND note some ways in which you will MEASURE YOUR SUCCESS – real measures – eg 10 paintings completed; 1 exhibition held…

Set timeframes – give each activity a deadline – make it realistic – DO NOT set yourself un-achievably short timeframes – allow yourself to succeed by setting reasonable time-frames. NOTE not lazy ones either – I have chosen WEEKLY GOALS for this reason – I need to see it done and feel the success.


Before I knew of Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ I had made my own wall-stickers saying ‘Do it, then it’s done’ this was long before any self-help books or internet blogs…like me, you DO have what it takes inside you. Believe it, unlock it, do it. Succeed!

End Note: I will be, finally, moving my blog over to Island Effect I do hope you will join me here - please pop over and subscribe there so I can see that you are still going to be with me :) 

I will post a mix of my work as it evolves as well as my journey and things I learn along the way. Also, there'll be places and things that interest me - especially as I set out to be a tourist in my homeland Saint Lucia...so lots of things .... for now, these posts will be in both places

Thank you to all those who share the love and comment here - it is always like a surprise gift!  Comment here or on Island Effect both make me very happy!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Where Shall we go in 2016?



Last sun of 2015
Wherever it is, I am grateful for those who accompany on my way. Each and every one in all your shapes and guises. 

I left 2015 in a happy contemplative mood. After overcoming my apathy on Wednesday, I partied happily with the staff of the Cultural Development Foundation at our Christmas Party and was reminded how good it is to just let go and dance :) and on New Year’s Eve I knew I wanted to just reflect and renew. As I look back over the recent past I’m inspired by so much that has come from circumstances that most people determine should be ‘very difficult’ for me. But  that is not the heart of what they are. They are inspiring. And I’d like to briefly talk about one of them, the death of my Dad, Pa Clark.

On 24th September in the early hours of the morning, I watched my Dad take his last breaths on this earth. The sense of relief for me and my sister who was with him too, was palpable; he had been blessed to depart without too much struggle and as he wished, without ‘becoming a burden’. We had all managed to spend the last days with him, though he was immersed in a world of delirium where we witnessed his ceaseless deep concern to be doing the right thing, not inconveniencing people, making sure his work was done well as he apologized in French for apparently being in the wrong seat on a train, asked for help to pick up piles of files that had scattered on the floor, assured unknown people he’d be ‘with you in a minute’. And then he’d look up and chuckle. He never revealed what made him laugh, but each time, we found ourselves laughing softly with him, happy to know somewhere inside he still had that mischievous humour alive and well. He didn’t really express knowing who we were, but we knew that somewhere he did. 

The hardest thing about losing him is all the things we didn’t do. And it makes me think even more about all the things we didn’t do, couldn’t do, with our Mum because she died so long ago and our lives as kids were affected by her struggle with alcoholism. It also makes me think of all that we did, despite all that we didn’t have and all that our family faced over the years, our parents managed to create some amazingly wonderful times for us. I’m carried along on a journey that raises every type of emotion and as I travel through it, I can contemplate again, the highs, the days that faded into haze and the low days of anger and frustrations, but accompanied by the loss, and illustrated by the warmth of people sharing their memories of Pa Clark, JC, Geoff and how he touched their lives, what I’m finding is that all together, this part of the journey is turning out to be, well, odd as it may sound, quite wonderful. As I let each memory, mine, or someone else’s shared, float up and surround me, I find myself opening up to it, knowing that I can let it be something more than just a happy or sad memory, it can be something that inspires me and fuels me on and up to be, to do, to see, to feel. To live.

I wish everyone who reads this, a fulfilling journey through 2016. A year where we find we can be ourselves without requiring others to be like us, but without compromising the things we deeply believe in and that we can enjoy them being who they are just as well. May we find a path that takes us on adventure, may we be led through temptation to emerge to a better place, a place where we want less without it needing us to have more. And may we cry soulfully and laugh till our bellies hurt, be peaceful without fear, love openly, give without reserve and receive with humble gratitude. And may we be glad to be alive.
 
Celebrate
Good morning 2016

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Art of the Peoples

Shirin Tobie-Paul of Tupah & Pohtay meets
Her Excellency Dame Pearlette Louisy
I’ve had my heart broken by being an Artist of the Peoples, aka, a crafter. I went to college in the UK to a place that was as confused about what craft was as the worst person in the street: they taught us it was art, but even though it can be, it wasn’t, not the way they conveyed it. They neither taught us technique nor art, but rather something between, something largely homeless. So I left there wondering if I’d missed something. Well maybe I had, but I think most of all, they had. They’d missed the gift of being mentors and instead made the stereotype of ‘those who can’t, teach’ something that you really began to wonder may be true. I have since had my best moments in life being a teacher and a mentor - I never cease to be grateful I can.

I also left there convinced that the uppity snobby world of pretension that pissed on Art of the Peoples, was not a place for me - I wanted what I made to be inspiring to everyday people. Something to light up smiles on the faces of my friends, my dentist, the random worn out parent of a child whose eye passing by, caught the colours. (Thank you my dentist Azmina Long, for meeting me at the supermarket Friday and reminding me that you thought my art was beautiful and urging me to get back to it)

I've been a 'crafter' for many, many years and miss it immensely now my energies are used up at a desk-job, but those years also left a bitter taste in my mouth and scarred my path in life in ways that only other creatives may understand: the public that 'loves' your craft that pops hundreds on some foreign imported piece of crap and turns straight to your face and says 'bondye...give me a little break nuh...you can give it to me for less, you know the pockets empty?' (and what do you think mine are, you lash back in your head while struggling to maintain a semblance of a smile on your outside) Or turns away with a half-cheups, saying nothing at all to you but mumbling to others "I doh know why these artists don't make their prices reasonable...' as they turn to go and waste good money on some other 300% marked up plastic status symbol they deem more worthy. 

And while I'll be the first to teach that you have to know and cater for your market, I now make no apologies to also teach that 1) these people probably aren't your market and you need to avoid trying to make them until 2) development of the market has reached a place where people understand the value of what we make, what we artists do. 3) Don't give in. Find your market, find the one, two or handful that do understand and let them lift you up. 4) Practice what you preach - buy from your fellow artists, speak kindly to them and inspire them as you want for yourself.

So it was with an energy on an endorphin high that I spent my last two days at the Saint Lucia Taiwan Trade Fair where I began to believe that Saint Lucia might be, might, just, be, on the cusp of coming out of the dark ages where art – of the intellectuals and the peoples – has been a bad word, a road to debt, a highway to crazy where good people full of light, fade and dust and dry rot. Maybe, just maybe we are coming close to a long-closed door being recognized for what it is, what it has always been; the path to freedom.

Heart-to-heart talks, frank caring critiques from creative to creative, art of the peoples touched, bought and ready to be gifted at Christmas…The Ministry of Commerce having included a 'Voucher Scheme' where exhibitors could exchange vouchers to 'buy' each other's goods. The unbridled joy of primary school kids playing, singing and dancing our traditional songs; their teacher’s face a story of love. The adults testing the strength of the stage-boards leaping, pouring sweat, lost in the love of dances rooted in African pasts long foreign except in places that oceans cannot touch. This is my world, this is what I love. I will be back there today and I hope many more will be too. This is the true backbone of the nation, the Arts – of all shapes and forms. The works of expression that enable us to be.

I am hopeful.

See my photos HERE More to come, so please subscribe to my blog (make me feel good!!! TIA :)  and 'Like' the Cultural Development Foundation's Facebook page  - click to get Notifications also and you'll be kept in touch with all that we are doing (that's my day-job)