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Catching Fireworks

Deborah Henry-Pollard: Creative Coaching

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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