Chase your dreams

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Last year my horse mad 6 yr old Granddaughter asked me to do a painting of a unicorn for her 7th birthday present. I was a little nervous about a unicorn as my subject matter but what developed through the painting was a thought of what I would want her to know if I wasn’t around to tell her.
What would I say was important in life if I had to say it simply and clearly.
Life I believe is made of many highs and lows and you can never truly stop there being both in your life. To try to keep all bad things from happening, is like trying to hold back the tide.
No I would rather try to remember, that even when there are hard times, they can be survived and there will be good times again. Don’t get me wrong I am no Pollyanna I have seen or helped people through some dark times, but if you look for a dream,a hope that there will be better times you tend to find them. The first thing I would want to tell her is to chase her dreams, not in a corny go out kid and chase your dreams but in a clear know who you are and what you want in all parts of your life. So when things get tough you will have a path to follow to see the glimmer of hope. That can make all the difference when you are in the low points, knowing there is hope, when it is hard to see. That if you hold on to the dream of having a happy life you can create the reality and be happy chasing that dream. Why do I think this is a dream and not a goal? because goals have a deadline a finish date, achieve this goal by this date… etc, but our dreams tend to be things that are organic and change and move with us. One of my most important and cherished dreams is to have a happy fulfilled life and that is something I chase and achieve everyday.
It is not a goal that I will wait till the end to measure, nor is it a goal that has defined parameters, some times I am happy when I don’t get what I want. Because I got something or someone else and I am experienced enough to know I can respect the day as it is.

I wrote the key words of what I wanted for her to know in gold paint in the drips I deliberately let run off the paper. Because I think that is an important key to happiness. Finding the meaningful people and things in the mess or accidental moments. Then building your life on that foundation.

What do you think is important in life?

This painting and message was for her but if in some small way it is of use to you please take it and chase your dreams. xx Allie

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The words I wrote were these:

BE CREATIVE, in your own way.
Spend time with FRIENDS and those who love you, for they will strengthen you.
Always LOVE YOURSELF, not in a conceited way, but from your own truth and honesty.
Be quick to share LOVE everyone needs it, and it will not run out.
Free your IMAGINATION, it will not survive in constraints, not yours or others.
RESPECT all and everything will be your teacher and guide.
LEARN  from every mistake and from every situation and you will always see a gift you can take from it.
DREAM BIG, then put one foot after the other on your journey to get there.
THERE IS ONLY ONE YOU, don’t compare yourself to others, it waste your time and kill your courage.
FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS, especially when its hard, don’t give up. Ask for help, it will come.
MAGIC HAPPENS everyday, look for it and you will see it.
When others can’t see it for themselves give HOPE for when given, hope grows.

Above all remember everyday:
YOU ARE SPECIAL, and needed in this world.
YOU ARE LOVED,by many, let it start with yourself.
YOU ARE ALWAYS IN MY HEART,as I am in yours.
SO WE ARE NEVER ALONE.
XX Nana

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Why taking time is important.

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As some of you know I made a plan to pay attention to the 4 main season changes this year (2016) and celebrate the Summer Solstice, Autumn equinox, Winter Solstice and then Spring Equinox. With taking 4 focus points and keeping an eye on my life and career goals at each point it has helped enormously with my goal achievements and plans.
As a teacher I had always had a tendency to let the school year swallow me and my goals up.
Only surfacing at the end of the school year, often too tired to achieve much in the time between one year and the next. Now with having 4 yearly dates to analyse, celebrate, read-adjust and instigate I have found it easier to keep a healthy overview of what my students and clients need and what I need. The Winter Solstice is in 13 days and I am using it as a day to look at and celebrate what I have achieved in the past and to let go of anything that hasn’t worked. I will be using the symbol of winter warmth to remind myself that I need to rest and to fan the creative fires. I have been asked if what I am doing this year is based in a religion or similar,
the answer is no.

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What I am doing is paying attention to the seasons around me which in turn reminds me that everything has a season. Also that everything changes. I feel that we do not take enough time to celebrate our successes and to keep on track with what we want in our year.

We stand on New Year’s Eve and worry about how we aren’t good enough or we need to lose this much weight or stop or start the list goes on and on. Resolutions not inspiring.

I have found that just one day a year looking at what I want in my life is just not enough nor does 1 day out of 365 days show any kind of life balance.

So this year I decided to try something new. Inspired by my story research I looked at how our ancestors had to pay attention to the seasons to live and I took a leaf from their book. (pun intended)

This is the plan I sketched up last December 2015.

The Summer is all about abundance so at the Summer Solstice (21st Dec) we had a fun family and friends get together. I payed attention to how much abundance I had in my life, and what I was grateful for. This helped me to shape my goals for the year as I came from a mind-set of what I was happy with and already had. Not a sense of lack like on a New Years Eve .
As a side note realising how much you have a week before Christmas is interesting.

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The Autumn Equinox was for me about sustaining my momentum and laying in stores for the work ahead, also paying attention to change in your life. I had a wonderful time looking at how my plans were growing and taking time to listen to others plans and ideas inspiring me to keep going. I was also able to spend time doing storytelling outside and the landscape was just amazing.
For me I used the Autumn Equinox point to remind myself of my direction and goals

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The Winter Solstice is on the 20th and 21st of June and I want to use it as a halfway point.
To take time to rest by a warm fireplace and look back at all I have done so far, then stop or change anything that isn’t working and move on. I wanted to be near the snow but due to work commitments I can’t (never mind next year) I do plan on warm food and company.

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The Spring Equinox is in September on the 23rd. I plan on using the idea of new growth to check my success and put anything new into the mix. But we will see.

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So what I am doing is using these 4 days as special markers to remind me that a life worth living is one that you are conscious of and always adjusting and developing. So far this year it has worked for me. Give it a try it may help you remember just how well you are actually doing and what you have around you to be grateful for.

We may not live as slowly as our ancestors and no there is no dancing around a fired in states of undress for me. But I feel more In-tune by paying attention as they did, just that bit more.

What are your thoughts? Do you have a goal plan that helps you?

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…

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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

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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.

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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.