Storytelling Adventures

The last year has been full of new events, odd things and opportunities that would take to much time to explain on today’s blog, but lets start with a story…

Once upon a time this dyslexic creative decided
she needed to get her act together…

I have spent the last 12 plus months paying attention to my goals and using different techniques to keep my personal and family objectives on track. I have been lost in the story of career and daily living in the past and as we all know, time just gets away on you. But over the last year it has been different, I have achieved many goals I set out to do.

1477848587991Original and historical scary stories at a historical village for Halloween

This has been a catalysis in my life which has created many changes.
I have always aspired to write and illustrate my own children’s stories, which with dyslexia, no formal illustration training and a full-time career teaching, I haven’t manged to achieve. In fact in the past I had begun to think it may be an unrealistic goal altogether.

This year I made the choice to re-energise my writing and story skills in other ways,  to pursue my stories in whatever way I could, to not feel defeated by the difficulty to get published.  I decided not to go down the normal path and I changed my inner script from,
I must get published, to I must share my stories.
I went back to basics and fell in-love with traditional oral storytelling.

scots 1 025Storytelling at the Auckland Highland Games.

Wow what a difference it has made for me and my stories. I started telling traditional  and my own original stories to children of varied ages.
At events, libraries, and schools wherever I could, large and small crowds even quiet one on one tellings. They were all uniquely special and I learnt a great deal.
It reminded me what is important in a story and what is not and just how creative children’s and adults imaginations can be.

scots 1 074

I have a passion for historical early settler stories and Celtic heritage stories, my love of Aesop fables creeps in every-time and  I love the amazement on peoples faces when they sit down and I don’t have a book to tell from, then we can flit from story to story as fast as their minds can take them.

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The stories come from my head and heart.
After all isn’t that where all stories start?
In either our head or our hearts
It has been a wonderful telling year and I look forward to telling many many many more…

Storytellers-We-Are-Just-Getting-Started

My Summery
Part of my teaching role is to teach career planning and goal setting.
Over the past year I have reformed some key points.
Points that I would forget (ignore) for myself,
but would encourage my students to always do.
So what is good for the student is good for the teacher.

If you are not achieving what you want on your life journey, PAUSE FOR A MOMENT, don’t just keep trudging on, you can never reverse time, so do not waste it on the wrong path or project. Take time to analyse and adjust on a regular basis.

look at the vehicle you are trying to use?
Is it the right tool for the job?
Could you do it a different way?
Look at your inner script, what are you saying to yourself, about YOURSELF and your SITUATION?
Is it true, or incorrect self-doubt?
If it is true, change it and you can’t change it, how can you approach your challenge to minimise the impact?
If it’s not true or true for you anymore, think outside the normal box?
What could you do to achieve it from a different point of view?
Listen to all the feedback the world offers, find the silver lining it will be there.
What are your goals and dreams, Could you look at them from a different angle?

Find your story  xxx Allie

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Childhood Dreams

 

I was lucky, my childhood
was full of adventures and dreams.

Character draft for my story ' All the ways'

Character draft for my story ‘ All the ways’

 

High on my list was to one day have an artist studio.
As a child I would pour through art books amazed at all the paint smocked, artists working or lounging in their spacious but cluttered studios, and I thought thats it …. that’s what‘making it’ looks like.
In those still frame photographs I saw success.
Well in my defence, I was very young and for perspective, my other dream was to be Wonder Woman.
I was still at an age where the concept of success and reaching your goals was still black and white, and the myth of over-night success still had a footing. Was I right all thoes years ago? Childhood and indeed Adulthood dreams are what makes us unique and ready to strive out and conquer (face) the world (often that next bus ride to work). They are our the fuel spurring our motivation and helping us realise our daily, weekly and yearly goals and achievements. Now that I have grown up (well most of the time) I realise that sucess comes in many different forms and on multiple levels. Also that  goals are stepping stones in life , not the end destination. Also of course I know that over-night success is a complete and utter myth. Everyone who finds the sucess they are striving for has set out on that path way before we all noticed them (so not over-night then) But the 3rd most important discovery as an adult is that dreams do come true and that if you work/live smart enough, you will reach mile-stones in your life that make you happy and fulfil your wishes (no genie required, but can I still have a big blue one?) The 2nd most important discovery is that if you give all you can to every challenge and opportunity you will always enjoy the ride. As I sit in my still to be painted studio I realise that yes I was right this is what success feels like … a space to sit and dream. Whether it is a studio, a room, a chair or a park find you spot to sit and dream it is what success is all about. Oh yeah discovery #1 …. I Am WONDER WOMAN!

 

When your heart is breaking…

Hug Eyes Closedcrt
At the start of 2014 I committed myself
to completing my creative career goals, nothing else would do.

To recap, it was to (self or otherwise) publish two of my children’s stories as picture books another as an e-book and at least one of my scripts as an animated short. To set up a web page, keep a blog about my creative journey and to set up my own artist studio.  Whilst doing this I would also be the best teacher I could be
and bring as much creative inspiration into my lectures as I could.
Well  ‘Life’ mustn’t have read that post (or did it?)

I knew this year would be finacialy tight but I was ready. I wanted to take occasional days off from all paid positions, to dedicate to my productions. This could be done because a day without income is better than not achieving my goals.

I would be teaching and working in my studio thats it. So I got my ducks in a row I saved and decided not to spend money in areas I didn’t need to. I was so motivated I was almost levitating.

Then small things started to happen, just little time consuming things nothing big …. I kept trucking on.
Then I had a few finacial dilemmas that popped up which took some hard thinking and some other life things like bereavement and friends in need … but  I kept trucking on.
Determined to reach my goals made me focused, fear of not achieving them kept me moving forward at speed.

Thats when the Truck actually HIT ME!

Well truthfully it was a plumbers van, but you get the idea. My car which was one of my ducks, had been maintained instead of upgrading, so I could keep finacial expenditure down this year. Said car was now a write off.

after accident

after accident

Thats o.k I was insured and not in the wrong …. for the moment I just kept bicycling on … nothing was going to stop me achieving my goals.
The insurance paid out, 1/3 of what I was expecting, due to fine print I didn’t know about.
But I found a little car that would do for now and I could afford, I needed to dip into savings for book number one to do it,
but I was still motoring onslower and not so good up hills but

During all these mishaps, accidents and life journeys I was starting to think I would never achieve my goals. On the surface I was putting on a great show of optimism but underneath my heart and nerves were taking a battering.
My new car needed more work than I thought but that was o.k
…I was doing o.k!
Around me good things were happening that lifted my spirits and motivation.
I didn’t feel I had a right to feel sorry for myself.
So I shook it off and recommitted to getting there.

It sort of worked:

  • the builder had set a date to start my studio renovation.
  • I had finally picked the two stories I would move into the next development faze (this had been a big problem)
  • We had started to look at the different printing options and pricing.
  • I had managed 1 extra day off.
  • I was enjoying writing my blog.
  • I had written new lectures and the students seemed to be enjoying them.
  • The web page was being developed ….. I was achieving the small steps that would eventually lead me to my goals.

But I had a feeling of  something foreboding just out of sight.

Lilly and Skye drawing desk

Writing or in my studio my constant companions are my two dogs, Skye and Lilly.
They are always at my feet or on them and have heard many a story draft.
I was coping with the minor set backs I was having but I was still happy.
But then Lilly developed a rare disease and within three days
of showing a small sign of something wrong, she was gone.

“That was it, my heart broke and any forward momentum ceased”.

Not on the public face, I still needed to teach and do my job I had to keep smiling
and trying to be motivating and inspirational.
But all my own creativity was gone and I couldn’t look at any of my work without thinking of Lilly
and the other things that had happened.
Lilly
This also made me look at other things in my life with a skewed perspective, which added to my unsettled state.
I knew I needed to change how I was feeling or this would go on
and taint any chance of what I wanted to achieve.
I had taken many knocks over a two month period and I just didn’t know if I could get up again,
so what did I do?
I talked to others around me, who supported me but knew they couldn’t make me feel creative.

Eventually I did what so many others do,
I GOOGLE‘D it.
Search was something like this: ‘How to keep to your goals when things go wrong’
Result: Irritation, anger, and flabbergasted
why is the number one goal on the net to loose weight!

Health is an important goal, but that isn’t just about loosing weight, most sites told me how to refocus on my weight and training…. anyway in the end I did find a couple of blogs and my trusted go to for inspiration TED
to help me enough to feel like I could be normal’ish. (great talk on stress). http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend

If I had written this blog 3 weeks ago it wouldn’t have been pretty and I am glad I didn’t.
At first not doing the blog added greatly to my stress as this is one of my absolutely must do goals.
But working through this over the last three to four weeks has helped me come up with some new ideas for keeping your creativity and sanity a little healthier.

What I have learned and have put into practice.
No#1 new idea: When something happens that knocks you slightly, process it before moving on, or you will make it bigger in your mind.
No# 2 new idea: It is better to keep your goals in a soft grip so its easier to adjust. Things will happen, it’s just life, which is more like sailing than tug-of-war.
No#3 new idea: This isn’t really a new idea I tell my students to do this all the time. I just forgot it for me. When it’s not working take a quiet walk, take a breath then try again. (sounds simple but time to yourself is magic) step away. Time away from your goals is important if you want to achieve them and have a happy life, (actually thats probably idea 3.a).
No# 4 new idea: have faith in yourself, you can deal with and achieve what you need to. Otherwise you will always be looking in the shadows for something bad to happen. Have faith you will manage with whatever may happen and prosper.
No# 5 Biggest old but forgotten, so new, idea: Remember and celebrate the good and wonderful things and people in your life, it makes your heart healthier than any diet and will always help you keep on track with your life goals.
There will be times when you don’t feel creative, thats a sign you need to take time just for you and look after yourself. I also realises that all grief, sadness and disappointment is relative … to you… only you know how it makes you feel and only you can decided the appropriate response for yourself. Remember how you approach the situation will help, but don’t just ignore things that happen.

Yesterday I was going to hear a publisher give a talk about the situation in publishing at the moment.
I was very excited and had been looking forward to it for sometime.
Then a cyclone (small, med) came to town and everything was cancelled.
Was I disappointed, of course?
This must be kept in perspective, people whould have suffered property damage and maybe worse yesterday,
but I just missed a talk.
With my knew way of thinking I just sent a prayer to all those in the storms path
and moved furniture around in my newly built studio. (Next weeks post, will show the renovations)

I haven’t seen the news this morning and I do not know what the storm damage is.
I do know I will  cope and if I need to put down my goals to clear up I will.
What do you do to stay happy healthy and creative when life gets you down?

All my love and I hope you have sunshine.
xx Allie

Nature of things sharable

Tall-share-image2

original poem and photography. Copyright A.Simpson

Just a quick post with a sharable version of ‘The Nature of things’ my poem posted last week. I have been asked to make a poster type image of the poem so it could be shared easily. I will do this with future poems posted. I hope I have done this correctly. If you want a higher resolution version e-mail me and I will send out a copy to you. Enjoy. Allie xx

The invasion begins…

Have I planned enough for the invasion?
I am determined to do things differently this year…

It is Sunday night and I sit to write my post.
But all I can think of is how tomorrow my school year begins. I have been at school for weeks getting ready, but tomorrow the students arrive and that makes me nervous.
Not about them, I am excited to meet them.
I’m not nervous about teaching, I love teaching.
What has me nervous and concerned is whether or not I will stick to my new-found time and work management systems.
Sounds boring, but these systems have finally put me in control of my creative time and energy. I now have ways of controlling
the copious amounts of work and projects on my proverbial plate, and that’s amazing.

Or will I just cave and give everything I have to my teaching position and students, leaving my projects neglected, again?

Well of course my goal is not to let that happen and part of this will be to stick to the work flow plans. I have definitely put the foundation work in and am very proud of the new systems for my staff and myself. One of the most important changes was to clear all clutter created by my work, old paperwork has been thrown out or archived out of the way. Projects that are not going to be developed now have been sorted into a tickler file to remind me when the time is right.
Anything not of use to me has gone, which has cleared my mind to start thinking again to create and be productive.
I left my office on Friday, tidy and with no work in my trays or on my desk or dear I say it in my briefcase.
Yes I still have work to do, but it is filed in a system that doesn’t make me feel consumed with work and always behind.
I still have a lot of clearing and sorting to do with the home office and archives at work but I am starting to feel under control and clear-headed. It is a totally different feeling as a creative and team leader when you do not have piles of work and unfinished projects and a backlog of work, screaming at you to handle it and get everything done.
It is simple I will keep my work sorted and in categories everyday. The principles and suggested working system in David Allen’s book ‘Getting things done’ has had a profound impact on how I plan and execute my day, I highly suggest if you are struggling with work and personal project balance, take a look. Now I just have to stick to it when the invasion of eager and creative student and my own productions all need my creative energy and attention every day.
Don’t forget if you have any suggestions or questions please add them in the comments, have a great year everybody.
xx Allie

DSC00581   Very proud of my end of week in-tray. 🙂

Grow

I have decided to start posting some personal poetry I have written for myself or others. I find poetry a wonderful catalyst for thoughts and feelings, with my dyslexia I find grammar and structure hard to deal with. So I use poetry to challenge myself a little, but often I write what feels natural for me to say. I hope you enjoy.

‘Fall down seven times, get up eight times.’- Japanese Proverb

This poem was written for a friend who was struggling with life’s troubles. I gave it to them as a gift I hope you enjoy and please share to anyone you think may find comfort in the words. Allie xx

The Nature of Things

By Allie Simpson

Life mirrors Nature,
At times storms brew.
Winds ‘a’ blow.
Lightning flashes.
Thunder crashes.
Snow covers all.
But as with nature,
Once fallen & fellow,
will mellow.
The sun will shine.
Buds will bloom.
Birds will sing.
Constant is the mighty tree.
He weathers all.
Continuing to grow,

Tall.

tui-hillweb-Web
My painting ‘Tui Hill’ painted to remind me of my family and where I come from.
Also where I stand (in my mind) to gather strength when unsure or uncertain.

Carrying the weight of the world

WHY DO I FIND IT ALL TOO HEAVY? 

mountain cr

This year will be exciting, I have committed myself to completing my career and personal goals. To achieve my goals I must complete multiple projects and breathe life back into ones that have quietly withered from neglect.

Although to do this I must be truthful with myself. Every year I want to complete my goals, I try to do so, only to get swamped with work and other commitments.
My teaching year definitely has an ebb and flow of pace, but is that really the problem?
Am I doing the same actions and time management techniques that have not worked in the past, and expecting them to work this time.
Alleluia I spent time with myself over the Christmas break and discovered that pearl of wisdom leading me on the path of finding something new that would help me do it all better.
I needed to get organised and have a permanent system to track and manage my demanding calendar and schedules. I also needed to identify my trouble spots and put measures in place to prevent my projects from being neglected again.
I have always had a habit of putting others needs and want ahead of mine, often they didn’t know this and that it was costing me the time needed to work on my projects.
So I can’t blame anyone but myself.
Even then I suffered from a perpetual la-la way of thinking, I had more hours in the day than was actually possible and of course, I always want to feel helpful and needed.
Put your (rhetorical) hand up if, in your mind there is over 24hrs in your day or does the helpful bug sound familiar. Of course the result was I would run out of time.
I would have half-finished projects, a lot of ‘almost there’ goals and a whole heap of guilt and self loathing because I couldn’t get anything done!
Again being truthful with myself is my New Years (and I hope All Years) resolution.
Doing the same thing and expecting different results….not smart.
I have searched for help, which I will share as I find it and now have a starting plan.
Firstly know what I want to achieve(what is really important right now).
Know what commitments I have (both at work and home)decide what are commitments and what is just overloading.
Be realistic in my time planning, what can I actually do in a 24rh day?
Schedule in some energy re-booting time, no burning candle at both ends.
The starting process is to clear all clutter so I can see what I need to do.
Here is the start of my personal Goals this year.

  • I want to self publish two children’s stories.
  • Produce at least one children’s animation and get it aired.
  • Project manage, submitting a children’s series for funding.
  • Launch a web page.
  • Open/ set up my private studio.
  • Become healthy and fit again.
  • Provide scheduled quality time for family and friends.
  • Create a children’s creative art course for 2015
  • Prepare for an art exhibition for 2015

My teaching goals are:

  • Finish my planning work for coarse development in 2014.
  • Add as many new and exciting elements as possible during academic year.
  • Follow good working practices at school, preventing bringing home work.
  • Delegate and defer more work during academic year( not trying to carry it all)

I have smaller projects and wants that I will put into the year but the above two lists are my main creative and career goals.
I know we are all busy living and trying to get what we want, but I have come to the conclusion that sometimes we are unhappy because we think we are not achieving.
When in reality we are achieving a great deal… just in the wrong areas.

I have become overloaded  and blamed myself or resenting others, for not getting where I want to be. But now I realize I should have been scrutinizing some of the tools I was using to manage, the commitments I had made to others, and the lack of commitment I had made to myself. I had been so busy racing to do everything I didn’t realize I had actually achieved some of my life goals, they had been lost in the rush that was my life.

My main goal this year keep my life balanced,it makes things lighter to carry’.
One resource I am using to help is a book by David Allen. ‘Getting things done, the art of stress-free productivity.
http://www.davidco.com/