Friday, 21 January 2011

Life's Little Lessons: Just Smile

Dearest Devotees,

Pain, disappointment, hurt. These are things that no one can avoid in this life, no matter how charmed their existence may seem to an outsider. Sadness and difficulties are all parts of the path that we must tread. I imagine there is no one who is successful, happy and fulfilled who has not had to face some sort of hardship to get where they are, because it is how we face whatever difficulty that is put in our way that makes us great.

January is the month of New Year's Resolutions, goal setting and ambitious planning. For many, the start of a new year brings a sense of revival, a feeling that the slate has been swept clean and a renewed sense of purpose. We believe that we can do anything that we set our minds to and that the sky is within our grasp, and we continue to feel this way until we encounter our first hurdle. A lot of the times, this first hurdle is the most difficult because it breaks the illusion that we are infallible and forces us to realise that just because we've started to work towards our goals doesn't mean that everything will come easily from now on. It is during these trials that we have to remember that nothing good ever comes easy. If it did, there wouldn't be so many clich├ęd sayings about the need to "pay your dues" and how "quitters never prosper" :) .

During these trying times, these quotes don't necessarily help me but what usually does help is remembering to smile constantly. I can not count the number of times I've felt better after laughing off an unfortunate mistake in my design or shrugging off a painful jab at my work by ignoring the jabber and spending quality time goofing off with a close friend. At first it may seem fake but after a while the fake smile fades away and a real one with real good feelings takes it place. Trust me, taking some time away from your path to nurse the wound caused by your first fall, will stop you from falling into the dreaded cycle of negativity and doubt and will ensure that you can come back stronger and more assured of your ability to persevere until you succeed. So the next time you encounter a perilous bump in your path to self-fulfillment, step away from the melancholic music, cancel the pity party and smile through the pain. You'll feel better for it.

Love you all and Stay inspired,

P.S. So let me know what you think. Have you ever tried smiling to cheer yourself up when you feel like things aren't going your way? How did it work and what other methods do you use to pick yourself up when you're down? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Seeking Inspiration: Visualise

Dearest Devotees,

Last semester in my Modern Drama Literature class, we spent some time talking about the importance of the scene and setting and how in some plays, the scene is so important that it can even be thought of as a separate character. Outside of art, everyone knows how important atmosphere can be to our mental, emotional and physical states. This is why some people take walks by lakes and sit in candle lit rooms with aromatherapeutic oils when they are feeling stressed. I find that when I'm feeling creatively blocked atmosphere matters a lot. To overcome my creative blocks I usually:

  • Make sure I'm working in a clean, airy, well-lit (preferrably sun-lit) room.
  • Make sure that all technological distractions are set to a minimum- that means no facebook, twitter or tweetdeck, and that my phone must be on silent or vibrate. To prevent my computer notifications from distracting me I use programs like Concentrate and Ommwriter to turn all my notifications off as soon as I start working until I'm done.
  • Surround myself with inspiring quotes, pictures and works of art.
  • Have calming music and sounds playing in the background, such as Ommwriter's nature soundtrack, and some of my favorite classical pieces like Yiruma's The River Flows in You and Maxene Cyrin's piano version of No Cars Go.
If I'm still feeling stuck after all of this, I try to get my mind moving in the direction I want to go by using the visualization technique. I believe that all art tells a story, and therefore has a plot, themes and a setting. Perfect chemistry between characters and the setting is vital to the creation of a good story. With the visualization technique, all you have to do is to imagine the setting or scene that corresponds to your work and mentally place yourself in that setting. It could either be a literal place such as a clearing in a forest, or a figurative place such as a world in which you are the best version of you. After imagining yourself in this place, feel free to explore it and allow yourself to get to know the place better. Imagine the little details, and think about how your interactions with the space could influence your actions (or those of your characters). Using visualization in this way helps you to have (almost) firsthand experience of the place you are trying to portray and could lend believability to your work.

Another way of using the visualization technique is by thinking about the message you would like to get across, imagining the effect it would have on the lives of you or the desired audience and figuring out what it would take for you to get that desired effect. For example, let's say you want to get across the message of what it means to truly love yourself in a song you are writing. You've written about half the song, but you are not feeling pleased with what you've got because it feels too preachy to you. By reminding yourself of the reason you are writing and thinking about what you would need to do to get the message across to your particular audience, you would be able to understand your audience better and therefore write a song that would appeal to them.

Finally, visualization is not just a technique that can be used by artists in a creative block. You can use visualization to reach any kind of goal that you are having difficulty with, be it creative or not. People use visualization to help them reach academic, physical, spiritual and life goals all the time. Being able to imagine yourself somewhere can help you rekindle the flame, when fear and intimidation may have snuffed it out and can help you get back on track when you're feeling derailed.

***Seeking inspiration assignment***
Create a work of art (it can be any kind of art, dance, music, design, poetry anything you want) that represents the story that you think is being told in the picture below. Or visualise your favorite place in the world (it doesn't have to be real). Explore the place and create a work of art that best depicts this place.

Links I've Loved Lately

I know this has nothing to do with anything but this little boy is just too cute. Plus laughter and smiles are great for creativity.

If you are lacking inspiration and have never heard of this search engine- Go. You're Welcome :)

I love TED talks! I recommend that you check out the talks given by Isaac Mizrahi, Elizabeth Gilbert, but really you can just choose a topic and search for the talk or look for a person that inspires you.

Okay. This video is probably one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Love Steven Johnson for it. The full talk is on TED too and is totally worth watching.

I love being made to think by videos like this.

Love you all and Stay inspired,

P.S. So let me know what you think. What's inspired you lately? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.
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