020 76393028
07946 044936

Catching Fireworks

Deborah Henry-Pollard: Creative Coaching

Blog

view:  full / summary

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?

Christmas Greetings!

Posted on 20 December, 2018 at 6:15 Comments comments (0)

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.




Christmas Wishes from Catching Fireworks!



Thank you to all the clients, contacts and friends who have made this such a great year and I look forward to working with you all in 2019!

Take Five with Kim Youdan

Posted on 12 December, 2018 at 6:10 Comments comments (0)


Kim Youdan is an artist who uses her need for travelling around the world to photograph her temporary environments. She then takes these black and white photos and adds dynamic and bold splashes of colour which capture the atmosphere of each place. Minimalist but very striking, the images are of people, architecture, landscapes, textures which most represent the places to which Kim travels. Beautiful as artworks in themselves, they could also serve as superb reminders of your own travels when you are back home.



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

The way I structure my process allows me to live nomadically and work remotely, being free to travel and explore new places is definitely the best! It gives me so many opportunities to see new things, be introduced to different ways of life and experience culture at a deeper level. Having the freedom to travel ensures I have a constant source of inspiration for my art practise. To be inspired on such a regular basis is a huge part of my creative life, something that I try not take for granted!


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

I have many! When I was developing my technique a few years ago, Fabienne Rivory and Gerhard Richter really gave me a lot to think about. I also love the work of Sven Pfrommer. These three artists have been a constant inspiration for my work. They have all used photography in such different ways throughout their careers and they continue to be a go-to resource when I’m in need of eye-candy and inspiration!


In the last couple of years I'm beginning to become more and more influenced by the cultures and places I travel to, rather than specific creative people. I always explore the history and colour culture when I'm immersed in that country. These experiences have a big effect on me, something I want to capture in my work.


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

‘Don’t be precious’. I am still learning this. I grew up in a frugal household and find myself wanting to make the most of every piece of paper and photograph, not wanting to waste a scrap. I believe it’s a great value, but within my art practise I need to let go!


I have recently found a great way to help me discard mediocre work…”if it’s not a big YES then it’s a NO and it has to go”. From choosing imagery to print, and what pieces make the final series of works, this tag line has really helped me be decisive and progress with more flow, rather than fighting to keep everything on the table.


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

Change your state. Two things I tend to navigate towards are exercise and dipping into a creative book.

Exercise is an obvious one, it helps clear my head and such a great way to generate ideas. If I don’t have time for a gym session or to go out for a run -and I need something a little more immediate- I find flicking through a book really helps. I have a few in my studio that are great to dip in and out of when I’m a little stuck. Sir John Hegarty’s ‘Hegarty on Creativity. There are no rules’, Elizabeths Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’ and ‘Show Your Work’ by Austin Kleon, are all to hand when I’m working and I need a little push to keep going.


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

Great question! I love shoes but with our current lifestyle (living out of a bag) it’s not conducive to having a big choice of footwear. I would be one of those high heeled Nike trainer shoes! What an invention…a sporty look with the feminine touch and if you ask me they actually look pretty comfy!



Links

https://www.kimyoudan.com

https://www.instagram.com/kimyoudan.art/


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:

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

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.

Trick or Treat?!

Posted on 30 October, 2018 at 17:35 Comments comments (0)



As Halloween approaches, it marks not only the night when we use “the power of humor and ridicule to confront the power of death” (Portaro, Sam: A Companion to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts. Cowley Publications) but also just 2 months until the end of the year.


So, what have been the tricks or mischiefs which have been played on your life, work or career during the year? The plans which haven’t worked so far; the ideas which have stalled in the starting blocks; the brick walls you have hit?


Perhaps this is a good time to reflect on what your plans were at the beginning of the year and where you are with them now. Are you still committed to achieving them? What can you do to move them forward? Where can you get support? How much do you want to get done by the end of December or will you regroup and start it again in January?


On the other side, what have been the treats of the year? So often, we concentrate on the negatives whilst the positives just pass us by, so look at the goals achieved; the unexpected opportunities which came up; the moments when you powered through a problem and came out the other side laughing; the new friends and contacts you have made? This is a brilliant time (actually, it’s always a brilliant time) to give yourself a treat and celebrate all the great stuff which has happened and that you have created in your life.

 

Every life has a mixture of tricks and treats. Learn from the tricks, seize the treats and start to build for next year on the back of all this great experience!


Happy Halloween!


Links:

Photo by Toni Cuenca from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/backlit-black-candle-candlelight-619420/


Rss_feed