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Deborah Henry-Pollard: Creative Coaching

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Keeping a Positive Mind

Posted on 25 April, 2019 at 4:00 Comments comments (0)

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – either way you will be right”


Martin Luther King Jnr   

 

I have written before about the importance of having a vision. This is really powerful and if you write it down, draw it, or make a mood board, you can read/look at your vision paper whenever you want. But how can you keep it real, as they say, everyday? Particularly on a bad day?


One way is to distil your vision into a few words, an affirmation that means something to you. Your subconscious mind will give you exactly what you tell it. By repeating an affirmation again and again, you will hard wire your mind to think positively and your vision will become more of a reality to you. (Don’t believe me? Have you ever felt a bit bleurgh but have had to mentally gee yourself up because you were going to a party, meeting friends, etc., and didn’t want to be a wet blanket? It’s just the same principle. If you are into musicals, it is just like Deborah Kerr in 'The King and I' whistling a happy tune.)


How do you go about creating your affirmation?


The first place to start is with yourself.  This affirmation is all about you, what you want and how you want to inspire yourself.  So this is one occasion when the key word is “I”, for example:   


• I am a great artist 

• I am a successful writer 

• I am awash with creativity 

• I am a great public speaker 

• I love networking 

• I am confident   

 

Notice something else about those statements? They are all quite short. These are sentences you want to be able to remember and repeat quickly to yourself, so you don’t want an essay. Also, the subconscious mind likes simplicity.   

 

Did you also notice that all the statements are positive? Affirmations must be done with an upbeat twist. Why? You have to focus on what you do want because whatever you think, your mind conjures up. Don’t think of a blue rabbit in a tutu. Ah ha, I said don’t think of a blue rabbit in a tutu, but I reckon that little bunny is hopping around your brain just now. Blue bunnies are not a problem, but if your affirmation is “I don’t want to be a failure”, it puts the concept of failure into the brain. And be honest, which one is more inspiring:    


• I don’t want to be ill 

• I am healthy   


The last thing about the affirmations is that you put them in the present tense. This is telling your subconscious mind what you want in a way that makes it real. If you say “I will be a successful artist”, there is still a bit of doubt with the “will”. When you say, “I am a successful artist”, you can start believing in it and behaving accordingly, which can give you confidence.   


Obviously, it doesn’t matter how much you say something if you don’t put in the work to make it happen. However, if you have the vision, your affirmation is a little language device you can use to keep you on track and give you confidence.   

 

Many years ago, I went to the excellent ‘Best Year Yet’ workshop run by Jinny Ditzler and I created the affirmation for myself:  “I am everything I need, to be everything I want”. This has helped me when I want to try out new things and more forward. I also have another affirmation which is at the back of my mind when with clients: “I light the blue touch paper”.   


What affirmation will take you to your vision?

I'd Forgotten I'd Done That...

Posted on 28 March, 2019 at 11:10 Comments comments (0)



Can you remember all the things you have done in your professional career? 


I ask because in recent weeks, it is a common thread which has woven its way through client conversations. In the busyness of day to day professional life, we can forget some of the great work we have done in the past, or it has got lost as it was a small part of a bigger project. It could also be that we do not recognise the relevance of what we have done in the hurry of actually doing it. 


Every so often, it is worth sitting down with your CV, a blank piece of paper and a pen (or a computer if you prefer) and write down everything you did as part of a particular job / project. (This is relevant even if you are just starting out – look at any extra curricular projects you did at school / university which gave you new skills.) For example, a long time ago I had a post as an administrator with a charity and did all the usual administratory things you would expect. But along the way, under that great job description catchall of “and any other duties...”, I curated an exhibition of Shona sculpture at the Commonwealth Institute and managed large conferences.  


Once you have gone through your CV, add in anything you have done on a voluntary basis. Because we do this type of work out of a personal commitment, we often forget to acknowledge what we might have learned. (For example, in my voluntary life, I have developed very good group management skills through chairing boards.)  


Okay, we’ve done professional and voluntary lives, what about your life “outside” your professional practice everyday life? Think about all the skills and experience you have there.  

 

  • Have you planned a big birthday party for a friend? Event management. 
  • Have you arranged a holiday for yourself, your partner, your children? Multiple diary management. (Actually, parenthood is one of the best basic trainings for business skills you can get!) 
  • Do you play football?  Team building skills. 
  • Have you sat down with your bank statement and worked out how much money you have for food, going out, rent, etc., for the next month? Budgetting. 


Yes, okay, with some of these, you might need to develop the skills further, but you already have a good introduction.  


What is the point of doing all this work?  


If you want to move into another area of work and need to make an application for a job or project, seeing what you have already done can give you valuable evidence which you can add to your CV / covering letter / project brief, as well as giving you confidence that you have already had relevant experience.  


If you aren’t sure which direction you want to move into, it can give you a great overview of options, things you might not have immediately considered. For example, my running conferences could be a great opening for a new career in event management. 


Even if you think you don’t have particular experience, you can often find that skills you have are transferrable. For example, you may see a piece of work as successfully creating a piece of sculpture to be installed at a particular gallery on a particular date. In business skills terms, straight away we are looking at time management, logistics, client liaison, resource management, budgeting...   


Another important element to all this is that it gives you a chance to sit back and acknowledge exactly what you can do and have achieved to date. You would be surprised how many of us forget just how versatile and great we are on a day to day basis!  


Block yourself out half an hour, get a cup of your favourite beverage and do your own skills audit. At the end, read it through then say, “Yeah, that’s me and I’m great!” Then look how you can use all these newly recognised skills to move your practice forward.

Spring Clean Your Business

Posted on 21 March, 2019 at 5:55 Comments comments (0)


With Easter a few weeks away and the sun streaming through my office window, it looks like Spring has sprung!  


It's time to open the windows, get some fresh air through the place and spring clean your home. Why not harness the energy of the season and spring clean your professional life?   


Here are five tips on giving your career a Spring boost. 


1.  Take a fresh look at your vision. 


Do you know where you want to be in five years? Is your vision still pulling you forward? Remind yourself why this vision is important to you and how you will feel when you achieve it.  If your vision needs tweaking, this is a great time to do it so that it is challenging and exciting. If you don't have a vision, get out into the sun and give yourself time to let your mind create your future.   



2.  Spring clean your space.


Set aside time to go through all your files, drawers, cupboards, etc., in your workspace. It gives you a chance to throw out anything which is cluttering your space, redesign your space and it can also throw up ideas and opportunities.   


 

3.  Take a new look at things.


We can all get into a rut, doing things the same way because it is how you have always done it. During the course of a week, check out all the things you do regularly. For each thing, ask yourself "is this the best way to do this? Would another way be more stimulating or effective? Could I even get someone else to do it?" If you are happy with the way it is going, great!  If not, how could you change it?   


 

4.  Meet new people.


Find opportunities to mix with different people who can inspire and stimulate ideas. They could become clients, collaborators or friends or just spark new ways of seeing things.   


 

5.  Refresh your self belief.


Embrace your talents, your passions, your creativity, your drive and develop your positive attitude. If you believe you can do it, you will enrol others in your vision.

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.

Have a Good Scream!

Posted on 17 January, 2019 at 5:10 Comments comments (0)



I have a friend who screams under bridges.


This is not some kind of phobia, but something she does when needed as a stress buster. On her walk home from work, she passes under a railway bridge. If she times it right and there is no-one else about, she waits until a train goes over and screams. The noise of the train under the echo-y bridge is far louder than she could ever be, and she finds it a brilliant release of any stress she has built up during the day. Once the train has gone, she continues her walk home refreshed and ready for her family.


Another friend of mine say he gets the same release from going to football matches and shouting for his team (or at the referee!).


In both cases, it is as much about engaging the whole body as it is about the noise.


If you aren’t in a position to actually shout, but want to get the same release, an actor taught me a technique which can be used to quickly lessen tension.


  • Take yourself away somewhere private (a lavatory cubicle is perfect)
  • Plant your feet firmly on the floor so you are really rooted to the spot
  • Tense up all your muscles through the body as though you are going to unleash the most unholy scream you can imagine
  • Take a deep breath, open your mouth wide and “mime” a scream from deep in your diaphragm, expelling all the air
  • Basically, you do everything you would if you were screaming, except produce a noise.
  • Make the “scream” as prolonged as you need and then totally relax every muscle.

 

Repeat if necessary.


This may sound a bit bizarre, but I have used it myself in the past and taught it to many people who have found it a very beneficial quick fix.


If you want to work on the issues which are making you scream, perhaps I can help. If so, get in touch for a chat.

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?

Visualisation for Well Being

Posted on 15 November, 2018 at 4:20 Comments comments (0)


I have written before about creating a vision for your future and how it can motivate you.


Visualisation is also a terrific tool to use in other circumstances. When I had panic attacks in the past, a tool I used to manage them has been a visualisation process learnt from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. It is a displacement activity, taking you out of the immediate panic and giving you space to calm down.


You begin the process when you are unstressed. The idea is that you spend time (maybe a few sessions of 5 or 10 minutes) building up a strong picture of your ‘safe place’ so that if/when a stressful situation occurs, you can immediately switch into your fully imagined place. (For me, it is Venice.)


To build the picture:*

 

  • Start by getting comfortable in a quiet place where you won't be disturbed, and take a couple of minutes to focus on your breathing, close your eyes, become aware of any tension in your body, and let that tension go with each out-breath.
  • Imagine a place where you can feel calm, peaceful and safe. It may be a place you've been to before, somewhere you've dreamed about going to, somewhere you've seen a picture of, or just a peaceful place you can create in your mind’s eye.
  • Look around you in that place, notice the colours and shapes. What else do you notice?
  • Now notice the sounds that are around you, or perhaps the silence. Sounds far away and those nearer to you. Those that are more noticeable, and those that are more subtle.
  • Think about any smells you notice there.
  • Then focus on any skin sensations - the earth beneath you or whatever is supporting you in that place, the temperature, any movement of air, anything else you can touch.
  • Notice the pleasant physical sensations in your body whilst you enjoy this safe place.
  • Now whilst you're in your peaceful and safe place, you might choose to give it a name, whether one word or a phrase that you can use to bring that image back, anytime you need to.
  • You can choose to linger there a while, just enjoying the peacefulness and serenity. You can leave whenever you want to, just by opening your eyes and being aware of where you are now, and bringing yourself back to alertness in the 'here and now'.



It is a great and easy tool where you create your own experience of calm and which, even better, no-one can see you using. (Sometimes the fear of others seeing you having/dealing a panic attack can add to the stress, so a ‘secret’ tool is doubly beneficial.)

So, if ever you are with me in a stressful situation and I momentarily zone out, I am just taking in the Venetian air!


Links:

*(taken from http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk where you can also find many other useful CBT tools)

https://www.catchingfireworks.co.uk/apps/blog/show/45758903-waterloo-sunset-and-the-power-of-visioning

Waterloo Sunset and the Power of Visioning

Posted on 20 June, 2018 at 5:00 Comments comments (0)



"But I don’t feel afraid

As long as I gaze on Waterloo Sunset

I am in Paradise"

Ray Davies

© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.  


How do you keep yourself focussed and on track when you are working towards a goal?


One method I have found extremely powerful is visioning, having a clear image of what you want to achieve and keeping this in your mind regardless of any ups and downs along the way.  The vision which keeps you going could be the opening night of your first solo exhibition; opening the cover of your debut novel; reading your profile in The Observer...


As a creative person, you can build up a clear picture for yourself – where you are, who is there with you, how you are feeling, what you are thinking.  Make it as rich and full a vision as you want and remind yourself of it every day.  You can use an image as your computer wallpaper or use a mood board, or use music.


The best example I have of using visioning in my own life comes from a few years ago, when I was living in Chester where I had been for 9 years.  I like Chester very much, but I really wanted to get back to London, a place I love.  On 1 January 2001, I told my friends that by 31 December 2001, I would be back in London.


I had no idea where in London I would be living, whether in a flat or house, or what sort of job I would be doing.  So I created a quite simple picture for myself as my vision for my hoped for new life.  On the day after I moved back to London, I would stand on Waterloo Bridge with my CD player and as the sun went down over the Thames, I would listen to Ray Davies’s mini masterpiece, “Waterloo Sunset”.  At that moment, I would know that my goal had been achieved.  


During the next few months, I had several near miss job interviews and “almost” opportunities, with all the emotional highs and lows which go along with them.  But every morning, without fail, I would refocus my efforts and my intentions by playing “Waterloo Sunset”.


On the late afternoon of 18 December, 2001, I could have been found on Waterloo Bridge huddled against the chill air, wearing earphones and a silly big grin on my face as I watched the wintery sun slide behind The Houses of Parliament, listening to this wonderful song, before going home to my new south London flat.  It was a bit of a close run thing, but I made my goal with a few days to spare.


And even better, whenever I need to focus on a goal, I can go back to the song and know, “Well, I made that goal, I can make the next one.”


Links:

https://youtu.be/N_MqfF0WBsU