Monday, December 20, 2010

A very sweet challenge!

Here's a lovely challenge for us!  It's from Liz Lamoreux who has written Inner Excavation, a really great book, I think maybe a "must have."

December 1 from liz lamoreux on Vimeo.

Radical Self-Care Strategy from Sark for the Holidays

I wrote the words below for you based on my newest book Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity. I sent this out to you in November and feel very moved to send it again.

I invite you to soak it in and practice living with Practical Gladness in what I call the "marvelous messy middle" this holiday season - and every day. I also invite you to gift someone you love - especially yourself - with one of my ePrograms. I'm having a SARK Succulent Sale! See what I'm talking about here.

The holidays are full of pressures to be glad even if you don't feel that way. People talk about "holiday cheer," "finding the silver lining," "looking on the bright side," all of which are fine when we feel those things, but can actually add to feelings of loneliness and depression when we don't. There is also a certain kind of "holiday tyranny" where we are encouraged to hide how we're actually feeling, for the "sake of the holidays."

We are meant to feel what we feel when we feel it, then let it go. Most people don't know how they're feeling, or that it's okay to feel it. We are not taught how to have, or hold multiple feelings simultaneously, so many people choose one and cling to it. That one feeling might be described as happy or sad, but it's not a true reflection of our complexities as humans, and results in our feelings not flowing. Instead they get stuck, or other feelings are left untended.

For example, you might feel happy to see your mom at Christmas, sad that she's physically declining, angry that your sister isn't doing more, and worried about the future. If you fixate on just one of those feelings, it will not be as productive or helpful. Instead, it would be much more effective to feel all that you feel, respond lovingly to yourself, your mother and your sister, and create good systems for your family and self-care practices too.
Practical Gladness means living in the "messy middle" of all of your feelings and finding your "glad ground" underneath. From this glad ground place, you can be aware of and hold all of your feelings, notice ways to respond instead of react, and transform what's possible to transform.

When we find our glad ground in the middle, it is possible to enjoy the holidays truly, authentically, and with grace and wisdom. Here are some practical ways you can experience more gladness this holiday season:

1. Create a new self-care plan -- Think of what you need to feel good during the holidays, and provide it for yourself. Some of these things might be:
*Special foods that you know you will enjoy
*Call a friend to share how you're really feeling-- not how you think you should be
*Practice ways to experience less stress, like going for a walk or attending a yoga class
*Write in a journal or book with lists of things that nourish you, and do the things.

2. Adjust and lower your expectations, or better yet -- have none -- Notice how your expectations bring suffering when they aren't met.  For example, if you feel ignored or overworked at holiday times, take yourself out for champagne and ignore some things you "should" be doing. Change your expectations about what you or others "should be" doing or acting like, and practice allowing how it actually IS. Focus on what's good and working

3. Educate others in the best ways to support you--Become clear about what actually feels supportive to you, and ask for others to contribute. For example, if you typically care for others and wish others would or could care for you, figure out what they could contribute to you that would be easy and fun. You might ask a friend to meet you for tea and laughter in the midst of a busy shopping or cleaning day, or sit with you while you wrap gifts or write cards

4. Experiment with new traditions and rituals for the holidays -- Do things differently. We all tend to repeat and become habituated. For example, "we always have our meal at _______." Some of my greatest holiday experiences have taken place at the movies, miniature golfing or serving food at a shelter instead of trying to participate in rituals or traditions that no longer represent who I am now.

5. Allow yourself to experience your holidays imperfectly -- Revise your ideas of perfection and increase your capacity for spontaneous joy. For example, if you get tense and pressured about preparing a meal, buying gifts, sending cards, or trying to do it ALL, try:
*Doing less and feeling good about it-refuse to be a prisoner of others expectations
*Doing parts of things -- fix the dessert, ask others to bring the other things
*Doing tiny amounts -- consider attending a holiday party for 5- 15 minutes with no explanation about why
*Asking others to help and then don't control or manage "how they do it"

6. Practice transforming what hurts into what helps -- Find the places that aren't working and speak up about them. For example, you might ask a group of people in your home to talk about different subjects like what they're loving in this moment, instead of sitting there judging how bored or dissatisfied you are feeling.
*If you're cooking and get crabby, let others know and help you!
*If you hate shopping, ask others to create experiences or adventures for each other instead of buying gifts
*If you keep complaining about the holidays, see if you can put your complaints on paper and resolve to have new experiences
*If you feel ungrateful, find someone to listen to who is facing challenges that you're not.

Being glad no matter what is NOT about feeling glad when you don't- how annoying. It's about practicing with all of your feelings and feeling glad as often as you possibly can- especially during the holidays!

Sending you every gorgeous moment,
aka SARK


SARK's eLetter is published by

Copyright 2010 SARK. All rights reserved.
Permission is granted to reproduce, copy or distribute this eLetter, so long as this copyright notice and full information attributing SARK are attached.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday post full of links and inspiration...

Oh my word what fun this was, using Kelly Kilmer's amazing collage ideas but with a totally digital twist.  Layers and textures from FlyPaper Textures , Kim Klassen, and DJ Pettitt, while the central image is part of my growing tintype collection.  (Getting ready for my newest eCourse.)

"All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle." - Francis of Assisi  
Check my blog for some good links for holiday fun and or survival!

Collage Fun with Fotoshop Freedom

This eCourse is all about playing with photo manipulation programs and collage.  The "class room" is "learn while having fun" area for players, photographers, artists and non-linear learners.  It’s an eight week course with two lessons a week, one on collage and the other on photo manipulation, using the collages you create during the first part of the week.   The new course will begin on January 10.

My approach is definitely non-linear.  I don't learn in a linear way, I love experimentation and play, so that is also the way I love to teach.  I have found plenty of good, solid, linear type tutorials and links for those who would like that too, so no worries. 

One thing I have noticed in my exploration of various art techniques is that if I start with images and ojects I really like, the learning is much easier for me.  So that is the key to this course.  We will be using the images  and objects we love.  My intention with this course is that we get inspired by what we find and that our inspiration will lead us to learn more techniques with greater ease. 

As part of the course we have a blog, a yahoo group which allows us to discuss our struggles and triumphs in real time, and we also have a flickr group where we can share images easily.  Hope to see you in the course really soon.  If you are interested there's a TOP SECRET discount button for blog readers over on the column to the right.  (The new Resilience Art class and Photoshop Fun class will be starting at the same time, so you can sign up for one, two, or three at a huge savings!)

The new session begin’s January 10, 2011 and runs for 8 weeks with lots of coaching and play.
Price - $39.99

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Playing with Photoshop and Collage...

I posted this over on my blog but it bears repeating...

Playing with photoshop and morning pages collage.  Layers and textures from Kim Klassen DJ Pettitt,  FlyPaper Textures and angels from ItKuPiLLi
Oh my word, am I having fun!  So I'm thinking a little more about this idea of combining a collage making course with a photo manipulation course.  I should have a class up and running in the beginning of January.  Exciting!  The Fotoshop Fun class has been such a blast, I can't wait to see what happens with this one! So if you like major fun, want to do more with collages, and mixed media and run them through the whole Fotoshop Fun process, then you might like to join this class!
Stay tuned...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Radical Self-Care Strategy

I've always had self-care strategies as part of my Resilience and Art eCourse, but I've decided that periodically we need some self-care strategies right here on our 14 Secrets for a Happy Artist's Life blog.  I'm really sure about this one thing: self-care is essential to having a happy artist's life.  So sharing strategies are a great way to share happiness!

This self-care strategy is pretty radical, probably not for everyone.  It comes from blogger, Scott Dinsmore.  Scott noticed how often we ask each other what we do for a living and how it often leads to some really unhappy and highly competitive feelings.
He's taken to asking “So what do you do for enjoyment?” instead.

So try it as a radical self care strategy.  Instead of asking others about career and work, try asking about what we all care so about–our passions and enjoyment. You should notice the immediate change in energy, posture and overall physiology in yourself and others. Some amazing things immediately happen when the focus is here.  Not only will everyone immediately start thinking very happy thoughts and releasing endorphins like crazy, but you may actually get some more great self-care strategy ideas from the conversation.

Try it, if you dare, and let us know what happens.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Do you know the work of Mariko Kusumoto?

Beautiful, wonderful, fantastic!

And the whole happy collection is here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

More Tanya Davis

I love this video! Tanya is a delight!