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Deborah Henry-Pollard: Creative Coaching

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Happy Valentine's Day

Posted on 14 February, 2019 at 3:30 Comments comments (0)



"Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world."

Lucille Ball


Wherever you look today, there are Valentine’s Day cards, chocolates, menus, flowers, champagne, meal deals, jewellery, perfume, … all the things you need to declare your love for your partner.  (Although I’ve found a big hug and “I love you” works just as well as baubles, but then I’m not trying to sell a product.)

 

In the middle of all the proclamations of love to others, are you remembering to love yourself?

 

I don’t mean loving yourself once you’ve lost that weight, got that promotion, found that man, sculpted those abs.  I mean loving yourself now, even with all those little flaws that probably only you see or care about.  It is about treating yourself with self respect, compassion, kindness, affection, tenderness, all the qualities you would bring to your relationship with your best friend.

 

Sometimes people have problems with loving themselves, thinking it is selfish or arrogant.  But in fact, it will make you more confident and happy and that can only impact positively on those around you.  It can help you to achieve your goals and dreams.

 

So how do you do this?  Well, better people than me have written countless books on this, but for starters, you can take a leaf out of Queen Latifah’s book: “When I was around 18, I looked in the mirror and said, 'You're either going to love yourself or hate yourself.' And I decided to love myself. That changed a lot of things.”


And yes okay, why not buy yourself some flowers to celebrate loving yourself?

The Begin Book

Posted on 7 February, 2019 at 7:25 Comments comments (1)


I have a ‘Begin’ Book which I use to start my day. It started by accident.


When I was going through the coaching process to find a route to my new career (leading me to where I am today), my late coach, Cherry Douglas, encouraged me to find and keep anything which set me thinking about possible new careers. These include postcards, images from magazines, phrases from job descriptions, feedback from colleagues, headlines from articles. There were thought provoking, inspiring or just things I liked the look of. The idea was to keep them with no judgement and every so often, pull out 2 or 3 at random to imaging possible new careers.


When the exercise of collection was over, I was left with a couple of box files of material. Some I was happy to let go of and it went into the recycling bin. But other pieces had a longer lasting resonance and I wanted to keep them. They would help to remind me of my aims for my new career and focus me on a daily basis.


I bought a spiral bound scrapbook with hard covers - at first, this was just from the aspect of longevity and ease of use, but I soon discovered another purpose. I could open the book at any page and stand it up on my desk. The book also has a ribbon tie and that has added to my daily ritual.


When I get into my office every work day, I undo the ribbon tie and open the book at random.


I stand the book open at those pages next to my desk and these pages create the context for my day.


If I lose my rhythm or motivation, I can look at the pages and remind myself of my daily context. It gives me a boost, a refocus. And if I am really stuck, I can flick through the book or check the pitch at the back of the book where I keep thank you letters from clients.

 

At the end of the day, I close the book and retie the ribbon. (As a solopreneur, this is also a useful physical reminder for starting and ending my work day!)


It is a simple tool, but one which helps to start my day and keep me on track.


If you need support in getting started and keeping on track, get in touch and see how we might be able to work together.

Life Lessons Over Lipstick

Posted on 31 January, 2019 at 5:00 Comments comments (0)



 

Who have been your major positive influences, who have helped to shape you in ways you never realised?


It is the late 1960s. I am sitting watching my paternal Grandmother, Victoria, putting on her makeup. This is the first time I have been allowed to do so. She will be dead in a few months, so unbeknownst to both of us, it will also be the last time. Grandma is the only woman in my small 8 year old world who wears makeup. She is in her late sixties, but has a timeless glamour with her brilliant red lipstick, hennaed hair, whip thin figure, style and elegance.


Her morning transformation is my first real encounter with what it is to be a ‘glamourous’ type woman. As she applies face powder and tea rose perfume (the aromas of which still conjure her up to me), I ask lots of questions, like why should women wear makeup and worry about their outfits?


“Because,” she says, “a woman should always be ‘finished’. You never know who you are going to meet during the course of a day. It could be the person who could change your life.”


"But," I ask, "why makeup, why stick paint all over your face?"


“Because to get on in this world, a girl has to be seen to be pretty or intelligent.”


Taking my chin in her hand, she looks at me intently and says, “And you, my dear, will have to be very intelligent.”


At the age of 8, none of this means a lot to me (although I know enough not to recount this episode to my mother.) For one thing, I am a tomboy whose greatest ambition is to be a cowboy, and cowboys have never struck me as needing to be either pretty or intelligent. However, as I grow up, reach my late teens and start getting interested in being female, subconsciously I start taking Grandma’s advice. I try to dress as well as my budget will allow and even when I’m being casual, always make sure that I am “finished”. This has stood me in good stead when I have been called to a job interview with 4 hours notice or have met someone at a casual event who turns into a future client. (By the way, I am not saying women 'should' wear makeup - it is about finding your own definition of what gets you ready to meet the world.)


I have also taken the intelligence bit to heart, keeping an open mind and a willingness to learn. When I got the results of the degree I undertook in my 30s, my first thought was for Grandma. I think she realised that I was like her in many ways. She was a strong, self-reliant woman who never let circumstances beat her, who was always looking on the optimistic side and who, if something went wrong, would brush it off and move on to the next thing. Abandoned by her husband and left alone with their baby, she went from crying on finding a coin in the gutter because it meant she could buy food for that night, to owning her own house. She never saw a reason why being a woman would have to stop her doing anything she wanted (although pragmatic enough to know that sometimes, it paid to play by 'the rules' of the time, hence the pretty or intelligent comment).


I think she was aware that I would not, as an 8 year old, get upset and take to heart, negatively, what she had said.


But I do wonder if she knew exactly how much what she said would shape my life and who I am.

Abundance

Posted on 11 January, 2019 at 0:35 Comments comments (0)



Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.

Buddha


11 days into January and how are you doing with your New Year’s Resolutions?  That bad, huh?!

 

Last year, I made a list of things I wanted to do; create more work, learn as much as possible, make new friends and contacts, read, dance, visit galleries, exercise, etc, etc.  I had it all set up with goals, timelines, action points. Gosh, it was impressive, but in order to get everything I wanted done, it seemed I would have to timetable my life down to the last second. By 3 weeks into the shiny New Year, I realised there was no way I could keep up with my clever plans and all I had done was created about 30 sticks with which to beat myself.  


Now, goals and action points can be really useful, but sometimes they can become the focus rather than the tools. You can find yourself completing your actions successfully whilst losing sight of what you wanted to achieve in the first place. I would say that most often, what we ultimately want to achieve is a state of mind, such as happiness, balance, security, independence, well being, accomplishment.  


When I recognised this last year, I immediately threw out my New Year’s Resolutions and decided that I would concentrate on just one word, which for me was Abundance. This covered so much – abundance of time, friendship, money, energy, balance. I lived my life within this context during the year and at the end of it, I had had a successful business year; written a book; created new collaborations; made loads of new contacts and had new clients. By living in a mindset of Abundance, I felt I had enough of all the things I needed to achieve all the things I wanted. I didn’t get quite as stressed out by self imposed “oughts” and “shoulds” and found myself open to all kinds of opportunities which I never expected.  


This year, I am keeping Abundance as my word and adding Forgiveness – forgiveness to myself for the days when I get a bit too action led.  


What is the word which will inspire you this year? And if you can't find it, perhaps I can help.

Choose Your New Year

Posted on 2 January, 2019 at 5:55 Comments comments (0)



This is the time of year when people set their New Year’s Resolutions - getting fit, getting a new job, starting a new hobby, finding love…


A lot of people I have spoken with find New Year’s Resolutions a chore, things which most often fail, which we end up feeling bad about.


I was talking about this recently with a client and asking what they wanted for this next year. They were caught between two extremes. On the one hand, they had a goal which seemed to them too small - to be able to mediate for 5 minutes a day. At the other extreme, they want to write a novel, but they couldn’t see how they could do that alongside an existing and successful creative practice.


She had more or less decided to do neither meaning she would have got to the end of the year in more or less the position which she began it.


This particular client has been thinking about her book for a few years with notes written and a rough chapter outline. The only thing stopping her in this (and in her mediation practice) was her commitment, her choosing that this was something which was important to her.


With my support, she has reminded herself why these things are important to her, why she had wanted to do them in the first place, the changes they will make to her life and her well being. Out of that picture of a new future, she has begun to create a plan, a way of moving forward. She has blocked chunks of time into her diary when she can write, and put a reminder on her calendar to do one small thing a day towards her book.


She started ‘road testing’ some possible ways of working in December, to give her a head start on the year. We are only a little way in, but it is going well so far. She has changed her mindset from, “one day I will write a novel”, to “I am a novelist”. With her business as busy as it is, she possibly won’t have it finished or be ready to publish by December, but she will have it much further along the line that it is at present, a work in progress rather than, in her words, an “epic fail”. And her meditation programme will help to reinforce a mindset of calm and possibility.


How can you change your mindset to support you so that you can choose is important to you for the next 12 months, so that you can look back, on 31st December, having achieved your goals?

Making the most of December

Posted on 5 December, 2018 at 13:55 Comments comments (0)



December is a strange time for freelancers. On the one hand, you might be hectically trying to get work finished before the break or on the other, you are left waiting for work until the New Year as potential clients are winding down.


Whichever camp you find yourself in, December is a good time to be networking. Received wisdom will tell you that if you work alone, you won't have an office party. This doesn't mean you need to be sitting at home during the festive season like a Billy No-Mates.

 

If you have been busy during the year making contacts or going to events, it is surprising how many Christmas parties you will get invited to. They could be run by colleagues, collaborators, suppliers, venues, networking groups, professional bodies and of course, social groups. Whoever hosts them, they are great opportunities to touch base with existing contacts and make more.

 

Even for the most Scrooge like, it is worth getting involved with the seasonal jollity whether it is drinks at the pub or a sit down meal. If you have a product or service which can be packaged as a Christmas gift, you might get a chance to catch the last minute gift buyers. You can pick people's brains about their plans for the New Year so that you can be ready to get back in touch with them in January. As they look ahead, you may even start to sow seeds about ways they might need your work in the next 12 months. At the very worse, you will meet a bunch of great people to add to your network who may be very useful to know at some point in the future.


So, put on your party shoes, pack your business cards and get out there!

Wishlist

Posted on 29 November, 2018 at 8:10 Comments comments (0)



I keep a wishlist.


It is made up of two types of items.  Some are those things which I am actually going to do and they live on the list as reminders until I am ready to put them into action.  For example, when I lived in Chester, I had ‘move back to London’ on the list.  Over a couple of years, this went from being a general idea, to becoming a real vision, a plan, actions and finally, reality.


Other things live on the list as ‘wouldn’t it be nice?”, but to which I am not necessary committed to doing anything about at the moment.  They live on the list as possibilities if the right circumstances arise.  These can be things like have a portrait done (by the wonderful Taragh), direct a film, go to Buenos Aries …  Some of these things have happened, some have yet to happen.


The great thing about having items on a wishlist, rather than a To Do list, is that it keeps them in your mind, but without the pressure of having yet something else to think about.  Also, occasionally it just isn’t the right time - you might need to get more skills, more money, you haven’t met the right person/group of people, it is a ‘nice’ thing but not a priority, the idea isn’t yet fully formed, or any other number of reasons.  My wishlist has the names of several people I already know with whom I want to work in the future, but the project just hasn’t shown itself yet.


Some things my clients have on their lists include: get an accountant; get a cleaner; get a Virtual Assistant; learn French; go for a specialist holiday to learn to use watercolours; go on a yoga retreat; trace a family tree.  Every so often, when the time and the feeling is right, one of these wishes makes it on to the To Do list, where it is then planned, put into a timeline and actions identified.


By reviewing your wishlist on a regular basis (I look at mine every couple of months), you remind yourself of things which you would like and they sit at the back of your mind for that moment when someone mentions they run intensive French courses and have a special discount at the moment, have just hired a really good VA, or know a yoga teacher who wants to run a trial retreat and needs volunteers.  (All these are real examples which have happened to clients.)


So, what will go on your Wishlist today?

Take Five with Charlotte Zalepa

Posted on 22 November, 2018 at 9:55 Comments comments (0)


Charlotte Zalepa is the award winning jeweller behind Chalk Designs. Much of her work is inspired by nature, both in subject and in the slow and unhurried process of the wax carving which is the starting point for creating her beautiful pieces. Also inspired by her commitment to the world around us, Charlotte uses recycled silver as her material of choice. She has also joined forces with ethical fashion designer Gung Ho to handcraft three of Britain's most endangered insects, the Stag Beetle, Tiger Moth and Bumble Bee. Each sale of these insects gives a £5 donation to Friends of the Earth.

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

It is going to sound pretty cliché, but the best thing for me is being my own boss. In simple terms this gives me freedom and responsibility, and this authority over my life is the path to happiness. For most of us we work more hours than we don’t, and so it’s really important that if you have the opportunity to choose the work that suits your needs, then surely it is a no brainer. At the beginning I found that working for others was a way for me to learn, meet people in my industry, and get paid at the same time, and so it was a very important stepping stone to get me where I am today. However, during my previous jobs after a certain amount of time I would loose interest in the repetitiveness of my role, feel generally unfulfilled day to day, and having learnt what I felt I needed to I would search for the next step in my career. It’s worth mentioning that of course this isn’t the easy route, especially in terms of making money it can be quite a strain working for yourself. After years of grafting I am starting to see my hard work paying off, and it just makes me so much happier to know that I have achieved even this much off my own back. Frankly you can’t buy happiness, you make it.


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

I am quite in awe of most creatives I meet who work for themselves, I know how difficult it is, and when they give off this excited energy about their work I can’t help but feed off it. There is one person who stands out for me personally and has influenced my more recent endeavours, which I would describe as ‘more me’. Charlotte De Syllas is a renowned Artist Jeweller who works with gemstone, carving it into beautiful fluid forms. I actually took a week gemstone carving class with her in 2014, (gosh I can’t believe it was that long ago), in which I persuaded her to take this class, and I am so glad I did. From when I have met her, read about her as a person and her work, seen her work in the flesh, I have always taken away this sense of contentment and passion she has for what she does. She may say I’ve got that totally wrong and it may have taken her years to feel that way, but for me it is an ongoing reminder that I don’t need to constantly be on top of everything and should take a step back from time to time and enjoy myself, otherwise what is the point of it all. Not only this, I find her work to be magnificent, it oozes this simplistic skilful manipulation of a material I hope I too can one day achieve in my own work. Check her work out at the link below.


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

Set out your goals every year, month, week and day, if I’m totally honest I was probably told this but only now have started to get to grips with what it actually entails. This is something I have slowly learnt to do over the years out of necessity, and I think will carry on developing as my life inevitably changes. The years before this realisation look like a complete shambles to me. I would rely on my brain to remember everything, with the odd little list here and there but nothing substantial. So now at the end of the day, week, month, and year, I can look back on my goals and see what I have achieved, what can be changed and what still needs to be done. It sounds so simple but my goals and interests can develop so frequently that the only way to keep up is to write it down!

My advice to anyone working for themselves would be to set aside a few hours or a whole day (if you can spare it), and try to get to grips with all your goals for the rest of the year, then break it into your current priorities and anything that has a deadline. I promise you, even if it doesn’t sit right with you at first, you will develop a strategy for goal keeping all of your own. In time you should find that this will deduce the crazed moments of overwhelming, help you take the wheel, and give you a better overall understanding of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.


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

In that moment I find the best way to work through the block is by creating a massive diagram on A2 paper (or bigger if you can), then scribbling down everything on my mind, work and personal. It helps me to get to grips with what it is that is stopping me and what my goals and priorities are, getting me back on track. I don’t tend to have moments where I have nothing to do and twiddle my thumbs, but I can have moments where I don’t know which thing on my list to do and can procrastinate on tasks that should take minutes but end up taking hours, or focusing on tasks that I don’t need to do. I talk to other creatives about this problem and it is surprising how many of us suffer with this overload = procrastination block. For me this creative block is usually caused by a ‘crazed moment of overwhelming’ (as mentioned in my previous answer), and so this diagram is actually an important goal strategising moment where you often readjust or recall your goals.


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

I’d probably be a Dr Martens boot; well worn (of course), practical, and chunky, all the things I like in a shoe. The history of the Dr Marten boot speaks of a creative self expression that challenges society, and I might not be the most out spoken person, but my values and creative expression is becoming more and more driven by this need have a say in conversations that really matter to me.


Links:

The Harder I Work...

Posted on 8 November, 2018 at 4:25 Comments comments (0)



...the luckier I get is a quote ascribed to several people. Who originally said it is unimportant.


I have often been described by people who don’t know me well as being “lucky”: in the right place at the right time, etc.


My letter asking if there were any vacancies as a window dresser arrived on the day the junior window dresser handed in their notice.


When a theatre marketing job came up, I was contacted because I had been talking to people about how to get into the profession.


When asked a contact to help me revamp my CV, she offered me a job project managing her new business.


A fundraiser friend got a celebrity patron for her charity because having lucked out via the actor’s agent, she happen to mention it to an acquaintance, whose girlfriend was the actor’s PA.


A client wanted to reach the then editor of a leading newspaper. She mentioned it at a networking meeting and someone in the group turned out to be the editor’s house sitter.


Yes, these all seem like luck or coincidence, things which happen by chance. However, in every case, these was an intention and an action (or a series of actions) which had to be in place first. I had to write letters; get into networks. The fundraiser had to identify the potential person they wanted to get the charity message out. And in all cases, once the “coincidence” happened, it had to be backed up with a track record of hard work and knowledge. So you have to do the work, meet the people, know what you want and get the message out.


Trusting to luck is a nice idea, but luck never shows up unless you do.

Dignity, Always Dignity!

Posted on 12 October, 2018 at 0:55 Comments comments (0)



Imagine the scene: Nunhead Station, 7.30am on a cold, misty Monday morning. I am wearing THE coat. This is double breasted, scarlet, ankle length and has earned me the nickname The General from more than one friend. To accessorize, I am wearing a red and brown velvet scarf and a brown angora pill box hat. I am Julie Christie in Dr Zhivago and I look the business.


The train arrives and the doors open on an already crowded carriage where people are studiously ignoring each other as well as they can given that they are close enough to count each others ribs. There is no space for me so I dash along to the next carriage. Here, I find just enough room for my feet. I clamber in and lean slightly forward, because I have to make sure that the doors can close behind me. The door mechanism starts to beep and the doors slide shut. I've done it! I am on the train so I do not have to wait 30 minutes for the next, equally crowded one. I don't have to hold on because it is so full that there is nowhere to fall and anyway, I can just lean back against the doors. Whoops, a bit shaky there, but no problem because something is holding me back.


It is at this point that I realise that my extravagant and deeply loved red coat is trapped in the doors behind me. And not just a rogue corner, but all the way from hip to hem. I have suddenly switched from Julie Christie to Buster Keaton. My mind starts racing. I know that these doors do not open at any point between here and up to and including my final destination at Blackfriars. I begin to tug discreetly at my coat, but because there is no room, I can't get any real leverage and so the coat sticks fast.  To my mind, I have three options:

1 wait until I get to Blackfriars, wait for people to leave and then tug like fury

2 go to Blackfriars, stay on the train which I know will return to Elephant and Castle where the doors will open on ‘my’ side of the carriage and I can leave, get onto the Tube and make my way to town or if all goes horribly wrong,

3 get to Blackfriars, wait for people to get off, get out of my coat and leave it hanging there.  (Obviously, this would cause a possible manhunt as they try to find the body to go with the coat, but this is a minor consideration.)


The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that there is not an option 4) ask for help. I want to be inconspicuous - well, as inconspicuous as someone dressed like an extra from War and Peace can look. Being seen as someone with an eccentric style of dress is one thing; being seen as someone who can't even board a train without making a complete hash of it is another thing altogether.


So, here I am, still on this train. Just in case drastic action is called for, I have transferred my gloves and tissues from my coat pocket into my handbag. We pull into Blackfriars Station and draw to a halt. People rush off the train and hurl themselves at the ticket barrier. I stand coolly aloof, as if elbowing my way through the hoi polloi is beneath me. When the coast is clear, (and against the clock – the train is due to go the other way any minute), I grab the back of my coat and pull. It moves about an inch, which is promising. I just need to get a bit more leverage, so I plant my feet about a foot apart, take a firm grip with both hands and give it a damn good yank. Voila! Like a hero from a boy’s action story, with one bound I am free. Or to be more exact, with a hefty tug, my coat releases from the doors and I catapult across the carriage and out of the train doors like a shot from cannon.


My tango training (I knew it would come in useful!) allows me to stop the momentum dead and as I do, the doors of the train close behind me, ready for its’ return journey. I take a deep breath and walk purposefully towards the barrier. Aside from a long dirty black mark on the back of my coat, I think I have pulled it off and the words of Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain run through my head – “Dignity, always dignity”.


And the life lessons to take away from all this?

1 have several solutions, however silly, up your sleeve

2 always keep your cool - other people won't know how you are feeling

3 often, in fact most times, things never turn out as badly as you expect.