Find Your Space.

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Brick Lane.

Notes after a recent break in London.

The importance of getting out of your bubble, to travel, even if not very far.

Slow down time.

Break up your routine.

Open your mind.

Put things in perspective and be reminded that there is a whole world out there, made up of lots of individual lives with different paths, ideas, and dreams, by all sorts of different people.

I was strongly reminded of this when I went to London for a few days at the end of April, it was busy, but it was a good busy, I was away from all my usual ‘stuff’ and I let myself get lost in a book, which I never usually make time to do (fyi the book is amazing, even if a little twisted!, and is by a Scottish writer, – ‘Fallow’ by Daniel Shand), I saw an array of friends, I walked down lots of streets, went to galleries, and generally just wandered, like time was endless, even if only for a few days.

One highlight was by far the David Hockney exhibition, it is on until May 29th, if you are able to get to London to see it, 1.Book 2. Go. I didn’t even necessarily consider myself a Hockney fan, but it seriously blew me away. There is almost nothing I like more than meandering through a big exhibition by myself and trying to absorb it all. I think this could be a whole other blog post, so all I will say for now is that it lit me up, it lit me up and it made me see everything differently. I felt different when I came out of the gallery and walked back to the tube station, I actually saw things differently. And, I even started sketching in my little sketchbook, trying to record this new way of seeing things, drawing things I would never usually think to draw, or ever want to.

Hockney Postcards

 Postcards from the Hockney exhibition

You don’t have to go to London to get this. You just have to do something different, go somewhere different, it doesn’t matter how far, change your routine, even a little, even for one day. Even if it just means walking to work a different way, or going for a morning run and seeing what that feels like, or start a new class, or change an old habit – like swapping tv for reading a book, or swapping time on your phone with time with real people, or spend time doing that thing you actually want to be doing with your life. Everything takes practice, and with that takes time. But imagine if you could even dedicate one hour a day to that thing, you would slowly become better and better at it. Or just stop, stop your crazy cycle of constant busyness, just stop, even for 5 minutes, to look around you, and actually look, to see who is there and what is there and take some time to actually think about that. Sometimes all it takes is to slow down to see things clearly.

Whatever you do, wherever you go, the key thing is that you do it with an open mind. Be ready for whatever new ideas and inspirations and insights will come your way.

I think creating this space, allowing yourself to be refreshed, in whatever way that means for you, is important for everyone, but probably even more so for creative people, we need to keep in the loop, stay open, be inspired and stay inspired. And sometimes, that is hard. Sometimes, we can become so caught up, so swept away by being busy, by being distracted and by running some sprint to try and achieve something in some record time. And I think when you try to step away from that, even just metaphorically, or even just for a short amount of time, to get enough distance to view it from afar, and to question it. To ask why you are doing what you are doing, and is it still how you want it to be? Or maybe you would be content earning a little less and having more time to roam, or to just be.

For this reason, and for your general mental and physical health, but mainly for you to be able to keep on keeping on, to keep coming up with great work, and new ideas, you need to give yourself some space. Space being everything that word can mean, in every context. Get away. Or maybe your getting away is closing in, shutting yourself off from the world, from the internet for a day. In your own little space.

Things are so different these days when it comes to creating work (and obviously in many other ways). We can instantly share something we have just created, or even share photos throughout the process. And this is amazing. But sometimes it can be detrimental, it can leave you placing too much importance on how many likes it gets on social media, it can undermine your hard work as it just floats on through the internet stream and becomes just another image (or blog post!) in the vast array of images. And actually, if we are talking visual art at least, you are allowing people to judge your work when they are, for the most part, viewing in on a tiny screen on their phone. I listened to a talk on http://99u.com/ (there are loads of great talks on there by the way!) recently, which was , in part, about Dr Dre’s headphones, ‘Beats’ and Dr Dre said he would spend years making a record for everyone to just listen to it on rubbish little white headphones that don’t play the sound any where close to what he intended. Which is where I drew the comparison of creating visual art work, for example a painting, which can never be truly appreciated through a digital screen, it just can’t. So I for one, will try to remember that, and take any social media, or general response online to any work I post, with a big pinch of salt and get some perspective about what that even means. And I will also endeavour to get my work seen, in person, by more people, around the world. Because that’s the way it should be viewed.

If you are passionate about something, hold it tight, protect it in a way that means your passion for it will never cease. At least some of it must stay close to your heart so it cannot be trampled on by people who don’t know, or who just don’t understand quite how precious it is to you. That is what you must protect. But also make sure you do, at times, open that up, just long enough to help other people try and understand how precious and important and beautiful a thing it is.

Or, in short:

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place” – Iain Thomas

Thank you again for reading, if means so much to me that you are.
Holly
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http://www.hollysharpe.com

This talk (http://99u.com/videos/28133/sarah-lewis-creativity-solitude-go-hand-in-hand#comments) by Sarah Lewis also touches on this idea of creating that space in which you can work, physically, but also a metaphorical space.

“Much of modern creativity advice focuses on “getting your work out there” and networking with others. But great work often requires that we work in isolation.” – Sarah Lewis

Stand out from the crowd.

Coco

‘Coco’ 2016

Everyone discovers things in their lives at different ages and different stages. Hence, to compare one’s life with another is completely futile. The lessons you have to learn are complex and unique. The time and methods you take to learn them are also unique to you. So let go of thinking that things should be one way or another, of measuring experiences and achievements. Life is not linear, so we must stop treating it so. 

Something I wrote down sometime last year in my notebook of scribbles, ideas, thoughts and things I need to put down to get out of my head, and to help me when I look back at them. (So pretty much just a manual version of this blog in fact!)

On the one hand the words I wrote are stating the obvious and are so simple. Yet they keep coming up in my life and now seem quite profound. I’m pretty sure most people, if not everyone, at least in the Western world anyway, struggles and stumbles over this at different times in their life. It’s like there are these invisible pressures all throughout our lives. You have to do this, and then that, get a degree, get a car, get a mortgage, and meet the ‘right’ person and make a certain amount of money etc. And if you haven’t done all of this by a certain age then you have probably failed at life. At least that’s what society, or our inner subliminal pressures make us think. When in fact, there are examples of the very opposite all over the place. It is actually the people who intentionally ignore these pressures, or fight against them and listen to what their own being actually wants,  that are really succeeding at life. The people who question all this stuff and resist it, who fight to understand what makes them happy rather than trying to buy it or just doing what the person on instagram is doing because they look happy. Who cares if you rent where you live anyway. And, if you think about it, what an insane idea that you should find one person on this massive planet that is somehow supposed to fill up every area of your life, and keep doing so, your entire life. We keep chasing money, chasing things, and ending up back where we started, wondering why we aren’t happy and why we followed this stupid, tired, and well trodden path that has been dictated to us our entire life whether we are aware of it or not.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

It also comes down to the Paradox of choice. Watch this amazing TED talk which hits the nail on the head with this concept. This has become more and more the case every day in our current world, we are told that we can do anything we want, be anything we want, go anywhere we want, have anything we want (and put the whole country in a recession, but hey, you got the car you wanted), live anywhere, date anyone, wear anything… you get the idea. And at first glance this is freedom, so much freedom. But actually, it may just be the opposite. Because if you have even a shadow of doubt, about which dress to buy, or which person to marry, of which city you should live in or whether to quit you job and take off, well, that is debilitating, and can often lead to inaction instead of being proactive. Indecision is crippling. When you can do anything, it is often easier to do nothing, change nothing, or constantly question whether you made the right decision. And that can slowly lead you to insanity, depression and a constant anxiety over your own life. Yes I do think we can do anything, go anywhere etc, but wise words to remember are that ‘you can do anything, but you can’t do everything’.

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. “Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”

Instead, we need to take control and make decisions, but also be content with the decisions we make. And look back and realise that even if we have regrets, tell ourselves that we did something because at that point in our life it was exactly what we wanted, or what made sense to us at the time with the information we had. And that’s ok.

It takes courage to take time to step away from the mainstream and question what actually makes sense for you, but when you do you will be so free with the liberty of doing what the hell you want and where you want and why, that your whole life will change.

“He who is brave is free” – Seneca

It is so easy to be overwhelmed by choice in today’s world, there are too many distractions, too many options, with everything.

One minute I can be happy and feeling on track and then quickly get swept away on social media and suddenly I am questioning everything.

So do not compare yourself. Do not compare your one precious life and belittle your own achievements and virtues. Everyone is on their own path and we should be working harder to make our own path unique to us, and to celebrate that. To be true to our own person and personality and to not just follow the crowd and follow what someone else is doing or being.

Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are. – Kurt Cobain

Be yourself, don’t try to copy someone else, who they are, or what they do.

The world needs you to be you.

-Holly

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(Watch another brilliant TEDx talk here on ‘The art of being yourself’ )

If you liked this here are other posts with similar ideas why not to compare yourself and Go your own way.

Limited Edition prints of ‘Coco’ available HERE

Circle of influence.

the-ability

Do you believe me when I say that you, each and every one of you, has the ability, the power, the capability, to change someone’s life. I think this post ties in with words I have mentioned previously, and words I plan on coming back to. This idea, or truth, depending on how you want to look at it, that we have SO much potential already inside of us, all of us, all of you. I mean that so sincerely when I say YOU, there are no exceptions. And yet so many of us don’t even come close to experiencing what that true potential is.

I don’t want to ramble too much, or sound vague, so to try and make clear my point, here is a list, when in doubt, use a list (if you could see my studio/ my diary/ any scrap of paper within 2 feet of me you would understand my obsession (problem) with lists!).

  1. You are an incredible result of nature, of circumstance, of experiences, of days, weeks, months, years, SCIENCE. Your sheer existence in coming into this world is not far from a miracle (if you have any understanding of how much is against you even arriving in the first place, nature is miraculous).
  1. People play a huge part in your life.
  1. Everyone wants and strives for the same thing, they just have different ways of trying to get there, or different ideas of what it means, but what we all want, is, ultimately, to be happy.
  1. You are influenced by your surroundings, whether that be the people you are surrounded by, the places, the weather, the experiences.
  1. Someone, or possibly many people, have helped shape who you are today, be that in a positive or negative way.
  1. Therefore, following from point 5, it is basic maths that you too have had an influence on one, or many, people’s lives.

Considering point 5 and 6, this is my main focus, you may not all realise it, but you have the power to inspire and influence people, each and every day. My wonderful friend Jaq refers to this as our ‘circle of influence’. This is a beautiful and comprehendible way of describing my point. This way of looking at it really helps me. It is so easy to be disheartened by all the misery and seemingly unchangeable things in the world, and feel like you can never make any difference, or aid in any way to all of this. As well as on a personal level, you may feel like you have no control over your life, over the things that happen to you and you feel lost in the situation you are in. But is the other option to do nothing? To not even try?

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Instead, why not look at it as every person having their own ‘circle of influence’. Think about how many people you know, or have known, throughout your life, how many people do you speak to throughout the day, or even just pass by on the street, or the person that served your coffee this morning, or your dinner last night etc etc. All these people, friends, foes and acquaintances make up your very own circle. All of those people I have just mentioned have their own circle, so already that is A LOT of people. Once it is broken down like that, it does make black and white sense how many people you can influence throughout your day/ life.

Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects. – Dalai Lama.

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‘Flame’ 2016 (sold)

Sometimes I find this comes naturally to me, and I see, so clearly, how my attitude, body language etc with every interaction effects the outcome of that interaction. It has an impact on how I feel, my mood, their mood etc. But sometimes, I don’t feel so positive and it is easy to get a bit stuck and mope around and drag others down with you. So that part takes practice, noticing when you are choosing to be negative and spreading that energy around, then practice getting out of that headspace and see how you actually, in most cases, have the power to turn it around.

I like to think of it all as energy. You can either steal energy from people, or you can spread energy every where you go. In an ideal situation, the exchange of energy should be equal, so both people leave the conversation/ interaction feeling equally better than when they started. I’m sure you all know people that either always seem to bring you down, or, on the flip side, I hope you all know someone, or many people, that make you feel amazing after spending time with them. They always appear to be happy, positive, and want the best for you, you feel inspired and energised after just talking to them, and it lifts you up, it brings out the best in you, and therefore they feel good too. So you both leave bursting with positive energy. You may have the idea in your head that they are just naturally always happy, and maybe they are, maybe some people are wired to always lean towards that, (although psychology would say all humans are naturally wired to have a negative bias) OR maybe they try damn hard every single day to choose to be positive, to see the silver lining, to strive to be better and to help others be better. The only reason that everyone isn’t like this, is because it is also the harder route, and we are programmed to see the negative, to be fearful of things, but it has become disproportionate to every day experiences. It takes practice, dedication, and perseverance, but I believe it is a choice. You can make the choice with every situation, every day, each morning, to be grateful for what you have, to be positive about the good things in your life, and look at your problems as a welcome challenge to work through, rather that going about your day/ life feeling sorry for yourself, blaming every one and every thing for your misfortune, and therefore attracting more misfortune and misery into your life.

Look around you, at others, for evidence of how much weight your thoughts and actions have on your life.

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Often the best, and simplest thing you can do to help someone else, is LISTEN. Actually listen, with your full attention. Which has become something of a virtue in our current world  filled with a million and one distractions, with the depths of social media and the blackhole that is the internet, people have lost sight of the importance of genuine human connection. Many have lost the art of concentration, and of really listening. When you get someone to open up to you, often you don’t even need to say much, unless you have some wisdom to impart, often the most valuable thing you can give them is your time. To feel like someone else cares enough to listen, can be a huge comfort in itself.

I know this may seem like a small, trivial, and inconsequential start in the greater scheme of things. But when the entire world is made up of small moments, with people just like you, if everyone changed those small moments to better moments, THAT would have huge consequences, for the better. The talk below, puts into words a lot of what I am saying, in an inspiring, powerful, beautiful and poignant, way.

 

Thanks again for reading,

Holly

x

twitter: @hollysharpe

http://www.hollysharpe.com

 

Your inner fire.

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“You can’t take the sky from me.” – Joss Whedon

I spent the first week of 2017 with a horrible virus that left me house bound and feeling very sorry for myself. If you are anything like me, you struggle to think clearly or positively when you aren’t well. It colours everything with a horrible shade of blue. You have little clarity or perspective. So you have to be aware of that and remind yourself that your negative view point when you feel like that is coming from the over shadowing illness and not your own mind. And it is important to remind yourself you will be thinking more like yourself again when you are feeling back to normal and back to health.

I had been so looking forward to spending that week contemplating my plans and dreams for the year, allowing myself to ease into the year slowly, to do things I like doing and generally feel like I was getting a head start on myself. But that never happened. So last week was my first week of 2017, that’s how I was treating it anyway. Yes I still felt a little behind, and have sorely neglected social media as well as other commitments I should have worked on. But I didn’t want to start the year the way I ended the last one, in a rush. This whirlwind will creep up on you if you aren’t careful and you will be so caught up in the race, the rush, that you won’t even realise it. In times like that, when I get too caught up, too busy, I lose all insight, I am flustered and probably dampening my creativity, it is not a good place to be. Being busy has become something to strive for in our hectic modern world. It is the true entrepreneurs, the real innovative thinkers that have realised that being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being more productive, and most definitely does not mean being happier . They have learnt to harness their own pattern, their own balance and find what works for them, often being more productive in a lot less time.

So to put a positive spin on my poor start to the year, it was in some ways the best way to start a new year. A slap in the face reminder to not ever take my health for granted. Physical, and mental, health. And to shine a light on how precious it is to be healthy 95% of the time. It has also led me to my main focus for the year, my year of ultimate health. I call it so, as I would say I am pretty healthy already. I take care of myself, eat well, I like to exercise, I try to sleep well and meditate. However, I have a lot of space for improvement, and have possibly become somewhat complacent with my health and fitness. And I realise how much it can impact every area of your life, every area of you. I want to be strong. I want to feel strong. I do not agree with diets, they are quick fix, short term, solutions, but I do believe in changing or adjusting habits and your lifestyle, for life. I am only a week in, but so far I have introduced what will hopefully become my new habits, I won’t bore you with the details, but I am feeling motivated and excited about my new challenges.

I actually love January, I know a lot of people don’t, but I really do feel like it is a clean slate, a fresh start, to think about what worked and what didn’t work the previous year, and to try and re-align what your priorities are, what you want, who you are, who you would like to be, what you would like to do. It is a good time to think about what is important to you and put that first. Make it a priority if you can. Don’t let that light go out. If you have a light on at all, you are one of the lucky ones, and the world can’t afford to lose you.

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. – Albert Schweitzer

One thing I can personally reflect on from last year was that I realised I may in fact be a “people pleaser”. I think a lot of people are, whether they are aware of it or not. I hate the thought of someone not liking me, I don’t like to let people down, and I generally aim to impress. This realisation hit me in a big way, and it has definitely started to change how I think and how I make decisions. If I am doing something mainly to please someone else, I have to question why do it in the first place. I am not talking about helping others, that, in my head, is completely separate and I will always try to make time for that. But doing something, and straying down a tangent because you think it is what someone else wants you to do, doesn’t tend to serve you. So this year, I also aim to care a little less what other’s think. To not be side tracked by what someone else may see for my future. And instead to focus on where my own ideas, dreams, and priorities lie.

In order to have the strength of mind to stay true to you and what it is you want to do, you have to work on keeping your cup filled up. Keep your self filled up. Make time and head space to do the things that keep you physically and mentally strong. Sleep enough. Eat enough, of the right stuff. Exercise. Spend time outside. Spend time with people that lift you up. With people you love. Make time for doing what you love. Make space in your life for it. Only when you have this, can you help fill others up. Love yourself first and your world, and the world of those around you, will open up.

All of this, to me, comes down to getting to know yourself. Building an awareness of your mind, your body, and your heart. Only by trying to understand yourself, and spending time doing so, can you then understand what you really want. And what you need in order to keep your fire ablaze. I think I am some sort of weird introverted extrovert, (apparently most people are a combination of the two and it is very rare to be completely introverted or extroverted, most people have sides of both – this amazing TED talk talks about the importance of introverts) because I know now that I need quite a lot of time by myself, but I also need time with other people. I get energy both ways. It is a delicate balance. I thrive off meeting new people. And, to be honest, at times can be quite comfortable being the centre of attention, or the one keeping the dance floor busy at a subdued wedding. But if I have been running from place to place and taking on more work than I can manage, and have had no time to process it all, and be alone, I will be useless around people, I will have nothing to offer. However, if I have had time to do all the things I know feed me, I will try and give what I have away, I will try and share my energy, I love to make people laugh, or inspire them or show them the light if they are at that time struggling to see it. Which brings me to how much I also need those close to me. Only they really get to seem me when I do feel weak, and burnt out, and incredibly vulnerable. When I have lost all direction and am not myself. They help pick me up and I hope I can do the same for them whenever they may need it.

“Your spirit does not shine when the sun shines and your life is comfortable. It shines when darkness swallows you and you cannot breathe for the strangle of fear. That’s when what was invisible becomes undeniable.”  – Toni Sorenson

When I started to feel a bit better again last week, and a bit more myself, I decided in order to help guide and remind me of my ‘year of ultimate health’, I would do a new illustration which tried to encapsulate what that meant to me. I started with one that was similar to the photo below, a very restorative, meditative, pose. Which I do value, a lot. However, when I started the drawing, something didn’t feel right, it wasn’t working. Which is why I went on with the illustration at the start of this post, which started to make more sense as I was creating it, it felt right. When I am in a good routine of doing yoga every day, I try to do a ‘difficult’ pose, a challenging pose, within my practice, doing so makes me feel strong. There are a lot of yoga poses that are only possible with physical and mental strength, not only to get into the pose, but also the strength to dedicate your mind and body to practicing it, to give yourself time to practice it, day in day out, and to realise that there is no rush, no one to compete with, but that it will happen, if you give a little every day, every week, you will get there. And this, makes me feel strong, confident, and ready to take on challenges outside of my yoga mat as well as on it. So this is my symbolic illustration for the year. Not to mention the burning ‘sun’ in the background, (I call it the sun, but this is a metaphor as I would never attempt to capture something as vast and powerful as the sun itself in an illustration) this is my fire, this is your fire, this is the thing inside you that you need to work on keeping lit. If you let it go out you will have an even longer struggle to get it lit again.

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I encourage you to get to know yourself, get to know where your priorities lie, and from there take action on what you want, what you need, from this year. This is a good time to do it before things start to get too fast, too busy, and you have lost any sight or direction for yourself. And if that leads you to decide to work on letting yourself shine, working on being the best version of you, and trying to stay with that fire every single day, and help others to find and follow their fire, then that, in my opinion, is an honourable, and positive start to the year.

“The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it”  – C.C.Scott

A belated Happy New Year everyone, from a rejuvenated Holly.

If you liked this blog post you may like these similar ones: Awake and Motivation

http://www.hollysharpe.com
twitter: @hollysharpe

Self doubt will swallow you up

words

 

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt”

Sylvia Plath

It’s strange, I was talking to someone about my work recently, and what part it plays in my life, and how I feel about it etcetera – ye, pretty big questions I guess. And they asked me if I sometimes doubt my abilities. My first thought was, no, I am pretty confident after having so many people believe in, buy, commission and compliment my work… but then I thought about it a bit more, and yep, there is a shed load of doubt there. And like most of my emotions/ complex issues, it is not very far below the surface. To say I have ‘thin skin’ would be an understatement, although I like to think I hide it well most of the time… I’m sure those closest to me have never been fooled on that front. So whenever things with my work aren’t going exceedingly swimmingly, say a commission doesn’t materialise, or a commission does not go well, / is entirely rejected, or when I create something that doesn’t work, that I hate,… or when I decide to procrastinate by seeing what some of my favourite, and extremely successful artists/ illustrators have been up to of late and compare myself and my lack of comparable achievements, it sucks. (and here is a post about why you should not compare yourself). Some of these times I let self doubt engulf me and take over, I doubt everything and question everything and overthink everything and sometimes this can result in not doing anything. It is a slippery slope and leads to a big black hole and you have to reach out and lift yourself up before you go down too far.

So don’t do it, don’t let the doubt seep in. It will not serve you. This definitely takes practice, to make the choice, the decision to seek the light and not the dark, but keep practicing and it will slowly get ever so slightly easier. The plus side is I actually think I am getting a whole lot better at putting these things aside, yes, I mourn them for a bit,  I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I didn’t let it affect me at all, because I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t care about it all immensely. But I try to take a step back and be rational about it. Which also takes practice.

“Self-doubt does more to sabotage individual potential than all external limitations put together” – Brian Tracy

If you are in the creative industry, and no doubt many other industries, and if you work for yourself, you absolutely have to keep going. You cannot let it burn you down, because if you let it, it will. You have to get back up and use it. In a way, I think these times are actually necessary, otherwise maybe I would become too complacent with my work, I would sit too comfortably and not have the same fuel to prove other people, or perhaps more importantly, prove myself, wrong. To aim even higher, push even further than I have before. So that is my next tip, USE IT ALL. Use everything, all the emotions, the anger, the doubt, the frustration, the confusion, use it. I feel so fortunate to have an outlet to do so. Even writing about it right now helps. Especially because I know that I am not alone in feeling like this. Far from it.

I really feel like in this day and age there are so many things we have to deal with/ think about/ consider/ decide on (*yawn*). Things which, I can’t help but think that artists 100 years ago did not have to consider. Not that I long to have been an artist back then, as of course they had a whole other set of issues which perhaps we do not have now. But still, it is interesting to think about how much has changed, and perhaps to use that to figure out what is really worth doing, and what it is you actually want to do. Is it worth the heart ache? Or have you been sidelined again onto a tangent that isn’t even the path you wanted to go down?  Overall, I am using all this as a positive thing, these feelings, as well as many others, have always been useful for me to use, to push me to create something even better than before, to never get too comfortable, and to always try and work outside of my own boundaries, my comfort zone. Otherwise we will stand still. And in a world that moves so unbelievably fast, you cannot stand still, you have to swim, otherwise you may just drown in it all.

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” – Kurt Vonnegut

 

Conversely, even though doubt is not a useful thing to have when you are trying to be bold and make things happen, there is also a humbling element to it. Which reminds me of a lovely phrase one of my favourite yoga teachers (Laura, that’s you!) used to say which went something like this,

“Be humble enough to know that you are not better than anyone else, but wise enough to know that you are very, very, special”.

We are all so fragile, but that is part of what makes us beautiful, and capable of creating wondrous moments and creations. It will always be hard to reveal your soul, to expose your feelings in words, a song or a painting, but it is what helps us stay connected, and we need that now more than ever.

“life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one” – Stella Adler

Thanks again for reading,

if you liked this post you may also like this one,  or this one

Holly x

twitter: @hollysharpe

http://www.hollysharpe.com

Go Your Own Way.

 

img_3779‘Soar’

 

“Life is painful. It has thorns like the stem of a rose. Culture and art are the roses that bloom on the stem. The flower is yourself, your humanity. Art is the liberation of the humanity inside yourself” – Daisaku Ikeda

Things have happened in the political world this year that have genuinely shocked me. And no doubt plenty others. I don’t think anyone could have even predicted this even 10 years ago. They would probably think it was a joke. Because that’s what this started as, a big joke, and now it is real, it is so real. I think that’s why I am actually still feeling quite detached from it all, because it is hard to believe that it is actually real. Maybe if I lived in America it would be feeling a whole lot more real right now. But thankfully, I don’t. But even so, this is going to have an impact on me, on the UK, on the entire world. To me, this is what is so baffling about all of this. The entire world IS connected, in more ways that just economically. And yet, this mass wave of building boundaries, barriers, and borders is taking over. This hatred against other humans, this anger, it is breeding. We should be building bridges, not barriers, that is my intuitive feeling, that is what is in my heart, and also in my head. To me, that is logical. Again, there is so much I could go into on this topic. But I typed the title before I started writing this, because I want it to be about that, and not some long negative rant about what is wrong with the world. Instead, I want to talk about what I think is the only way to move on from here.

I am sure there are countless people I could quote here, on the value of keeping going, on the value of art, and of hope. But for now, here are a few to get the point going –

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope” – Barack Obama

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilisations heal.” – Toni Morrison

The title of this post, and in fact the whole idea I am attempting to explain, came to me when I was in the car this morning and listening to the song with the same title, loud. And it felt good, and it reminded me of a few things. With so many things in life, you can choose how you view them, you can choose your reaction to them, you can choose what you do about it and how you move forward. Some of which may take practice and working through negative habits, and tricks that your mind may play on you. But it is a choice. If you are feeling sad and depressed and you put on sad music, you are wallowing in it, dwelling in that dark place. That is not the solution, you must find the light, you must seek the light, you must cling on to the hope, you must keep going. If this is hard to start with, think of doing it for others rather than yourself, think of staying strong for them. If you don’t, all this noise, this chaos, will drown out the good, will dampen the hope and block out the light, and we cannot let that happen.

Get creative. I am of course biased, but I know I am not alone in the belief that art has a huge, and very real, place to play in all of this. Even more so than ever, at times like this, when many sci-fi stories are now becoming a reality, when so many people appear to have lost their way, this is the time. This is the time to immerse yourself in your own reality, to believe that anything you dream is possible, because when things are happening that no one believed could or would ever happen, when the boundaries between what is real and what is dreamt has been blurred, there is your evidence, there is your reason for propelling yourself even more so into something that drives you, something that feeds your soul and makes you come alive. Because if you come alive, everyone around you will start to feed of that positive energy as well. When there is less to lose, there is everything to gain. Let this be the time when everything has turned on it’s head and so you must turn everything you thought to be true on it’s head. What do you really want, what do you really believe. Let the answers to these questions be positive ones, and put them into action. Inspire and encourage everyone around you to do the same, to choose their own path and to question the path that has been dictated to them. You can do what you want to do, you can choose which way you want to go. And yes, things will happen that are out of your control, but that is not a reason to become despondent and give up, it is actually the opposite.

I hope that made some sort of sense. I typed that at a record speed because it is the only way to try and get my thoughts down and into something that makes some sort of sense before the thoughts seem to dissipate and I can’t remember what I thought, what I felt. So I am hoping I got there in time, I am hoping I managed to record the thoughts I had this morning, so that you can hopefully take something from them.

And if it didn’t, here’s some more quotes that might.

“ No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world” – Robin Williams

“Art is an attempt to compensate for some of the difficulties we have in human connection” – Alain de Botton

“The power of art can break the shackles that bind and divide human beings” – Daisaku Ikeda

If you liked this post you might also like this one which I wrote after Brexit, and this one, or maybe this one..

Thanks,

Holly  x.

If you liked the image at the start, ‘Soar’, it is avialable as a print HERE.

Twitter @hollysharpe

http://www.hollysharpe.com

Trust in YOU.

As per usual, it has been over a month since I last posted something on here. I have actually drafted a few posts, but some I am still working on, and others the timing doesn’t feel quite right, yet… I have had some intense creating time recently – which involved painting for long hours to create some new work for Breeze gallery here in Scotland. It had probably been a few months since I had painted that intensely, and it really felt like it was needed. It is such an amazing feeling to let something out that has been inside of you, and sometimes weighing you down, the whole process is quite cathartic. However, like with most creative things, and with most things that are worth doing, it also comes with some element of struggle. Struggle to not over think what you are doing, and why, trying to not question your work too much, and trying to come up against and cross this weird threshold that seems to hold you back from finishing anything at times. Thankfully I was under a nice amount of pressure – ie not too much, but it was still there – which meant I knew I had to finish them, rather than leaving them in this strange limbo where it’s as if by leaving them there you have some excuse as to why they ‘don’t work’. Maybe to some of you that made no sense at all, but I am hoping some of you creatives out there, from all creative disciplines, can relate to what I am talking about, even if I didn’t word it in the best way.

Since then, it now leaves me with a mass catch up operation. Yawn. This involves emails, making my new website (which has been ‘in progress’ for so long now it is starting to hurt >< ) , and the tedium that is photoshopping what feels like endless amounts of scans/ files so that they are ready for web/ printing. I have been wondering if I need to do a class in photoshop as it is quite possible there is a quicker way to do what I am doing… and I know I have a bad track record for inadvertently making things harder for myself. Anyway, my, longwinded, point is that because I haven’t been doing anything that creative for the last week or so, I am once again flooded, with a running commentary of words all jumbled up from everything I have thought/ learnt/ listened to / conversed about of late. It’s like I have too many to make any sense of. And they often hit me at times when I can’t actually put them down on paper, like when I am driving and listening to music, or if I am out for a walk by myself, or exercising, basically at times when my mind is allowed to wander. Which is a bit weird because I am by no means a writer, but I think perhaps because I don’t currently have a creative outlet whilst I am doing all the tedious stuff, that therefore I have to explode my creative stuff in some other way, and it has started to come out in words. Maybe because in some ways it is more instant, that’s what it feels like for me anyway, like I can off load a tonne of stuff quite quickly and it is like a weight has been lifted, or like a sense of having achieved something.

So I did start to write this to explain why I finally managed to unearth some sense and some direction to be able to hone in on a topic amongst all the other noise/ commentary in my head. And here it begins, the thing I actually sat down to write about(!) :

I came across this article the other day, an interview with none other than THE real life Erin Brockovich. Which many of you may know because of the film in 2000 where Julia Roberts played her. And if I am honest, is still one of my favourite films. It inspires me, and I love the whole idea of someone fighting against something that many would deem impossible/ insurmountable. (And even more so because the someone in this case is a woman!! *and I think women are amazing*) I also feel this is an apt moment to quote from another brilliant (!) film, also based on a true story, that I re-watched recently, ‘The Imitation Game’

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine”.

The quote below however, was the main catapult to put my thoughts into words. Mainly because, upon reflection, this concept was the main thing I learnt for myself last year, 2015. There were a few instances with my work, and decisions I had to make/ risks I chose to take in relation to my work, but also in my personal life (needless to say there is a very grey line where one starts and the other ends) where it was pointed out to me, mainly by a few of my nearest and dearest friends that I need to believe in my own decisions more, and trust in them more. I was actually taken aback when it was first said to me, even the language I was using was almost like justifying a decision in some way. I hadn’t even realised this was something I did. It was like my default, to think that someone else always knows better than me. It was also one of my great yoga teachers that made a similar point, that with some of the biggest decisions in our lives, we often turn to someone else for help, he used the example of buying a house, we entrust the help of a solicitor etc – and pay them a lot of money to do so! Now, I am not sure it is even possible to sell or buy a property without that in the UK, but if you think about it, it is a bit crazy, especially when I know many people who are so frustrated by the incapabilities of their solicitors in these instances, missing details at the start and quite basic things which then hold up the whole process, and yet we still pay them thousands to do this for us.

Erin B quote

Of course I accept and acknowledge that sometimes someone else does know best, sometimes I need someone that has the experience, or expertise or knowledge that I simply don’t have, and I hope I will be humble enough to take their advice. However I also know I still need to practice, as I’m sure many others do, to listen to myself and look back on how well I have managed so far, in a lot of aspects in my life, and usually through my own decisions, and hard work etc. So why would I stop trusting that sometimes I do know best? I can’t help but think that we live in a society where it is commonplace to assume that you do not know best and to often pay someone else or look to someone else for the answer. Perhaps we wouldn’t have many of the problems we do if more people took charge of their lives and situations, and spoke up about certain things. Rather than think just because you are young, or old, or because you don’t have this or that, or you don’t have a certain qualification, does that mean your opinion, thoughts or ideas don’t matter?

One last quote, on that note, that I saw on Instagram, so not sure who even said it, but it made me laugh, and is also very true! :

“Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young to accomplish something.
A baby shark is still a fucking shark”

-Holly

x

http://www.hollysharpe.com
@hollysharpe

 

WE ARE ALL CONNECTED.

EU ILLY - 02 - 100 dpi - holly sharpeWords are not my forte  so sadly I cannot express as well as others can my complex feelings on the news today, but I felt the need to attempt to do so too strongly not to try. There are a whole host of reasons why I voted to stay in the EU, which I will not go in to entirely. I hope that in the days, weeks, to come I will be able to be more positive about the whole thing and figure out how we can attempt to get out of this mess.

The whole scenario, for me, has highlighted that this world is becoming too driven by greed, power, and money. And at times appears to have forgotten the power of love and the necessity for human connections, for remaining connected, as individuals and as countries, across the entire world. I believe that people are generally good, inherently so. Yet in many cases this has been clouded over by unhealthy distractions, and has led people to think that the purpose of life is to make money, and to somehow imprint their power on others, and on the world. The media for one has done a stellar job at brainwashing the masses into believing that somehow people that were less fortunate than us to be born in a country in a far worse state that ours are something to be scared of? And to abandon them. To make them feel like they are somehow less than us.

We are all human. And we are only human. And too many people have lost touch of what is at their core, their human spirit. We have so much power in our hands, with the right weapon, or vehicle, one can take another human’s life with such ease. Equally, we are so capable, of such wondrous and special things. Yet we are fragile and easily led astray, and too quick to turn our back, to seek revenge and to play to our egos and to the egos of those in power. NEVER believe that just because someone is in a position of greater ‘power’ than you, in a position to enforce laws, shun the less fortunate, to make a decision that will take the lives of many, to neglect their human spirit in exchange for wealth and power, never believe that that makes them more worthy, more intelligent or ‘right’. We, everyone, all ages, all races, need to question those in power, and speak up.
Headspace, and physical space, in my opinion should be a priority in everyone’s life. Take time out, by yourself, to allow your thoughts to drift, and be unobstructed by pressures and opinions that are not necessarily your own.

Gratitude.

photo

“Very few people on the planet have the opportunity to even follow their dreams at all. Most people live in poverty, or in communities where the repercussions for behaving how they want are a lot worse than people just talking shit. If doing what you want is an option for you, you should do it, because you’re one of the few lucky people who can. And even if you fail, you will be in a better position than if you’d never tried. Every horrible thing that has ever happened to me has added integrity to my art and improved my understanding of the human race.”

The above was said by Grimes, apparently. I love these words so much, and I love them even more knowing that she said them. I also love her. Have been a big fan of hers for a while, and then I got to see her live earlier this year in Glasgow, and now I am slightly obsessed. She is so amazing. She exudes energy, creativity, and complete and utter individuality. But anyway, she is right. If there is even a small, tiny strand of hope, window of opportunity or thread of chance that you can do what you want to do, you have to grab it with both hands and chase it until you can do so no more. I think the majority of people that aren’t happy, are unhappy because either they don’t know what they truly want, or they aren’t trying to get it, and have decided that it is not possible before they have even tried, which is insane when you think about it, and also because they cannot see how lucky they are with everything that they already have.

I put the above photo on my Instagram earlier, and not that that can sum up how I was feeling today. But I was feeling insanely thankful, and a tad overwhelmed, which happens to me a lot actually. Through a few things I have done over the past year, and things people very close to me have done, I have not had to tread far to witness first hand how unfortunate some people are, how fragile their lives are, how much they got the opposite of a head start in life. It makes my heart bleed, and break, and want to envelope them in all the love in the world. I want to take all their pain away, and stop all the pain that I know is still to come for them. But I know I can’t. I can try, and there are some things I can try and do within my power to help them. But I can’t live their life for them. And if I didn’t feel grateful for so much in my life before, which I did, I now feel even more so. I feel so blessed, so lucky, so fortunate. Rather than feeling some sense of guilt or sadness that for some reason I have been more fortunate in some ways than them, I see it as a chance to be even more grateful, and instead to take advantage of my situation. And to me that means spreading my own positive energy as far and wide as I possibly can. Whether that be through my work, or by each and every time I come in to contact with any other person. Which is not always easy to do, I have my bad days as well. But rather than dwell on those, I try to cherish the good days, the good moments, and hold on to them as long as I can, and to let them radiate to anyone I can connect with.

And until I figure out how to take their pain away, that is all I can do. That, and encourage everyone else to be more compassionate, to think before you judge someone, because you literally do not know what burdens they carry, you do not know what they have been through, you can only try to imagine, but until you have walked a day in their shoes, be kind, be more accepting, and the world will do the same for you.

To come back to the point of ‘The best things in life aren’t things’. The best things I know I have been given are by people. I have been brought up with stability, with a family around me, and with that, so much support, and I know how rare and splendid a thing to have had that is. And through many ways, that has given me love, so much love, and I know that has made me capable of feeling and understanding love, as well as understanding how important it is for everyone to have. So if you are dwelling on the money you feel like you don’t have, or the materials things that you crave for so much, take a step back and look at the people in your life, the love that is hopefully there all around you, and that you can give back to others. Showing someone you care, giving them your time, is more valuable than anything you could every buy them.

– Holly

x

BE. inspired.

Sky - Holly Sharpe
‘Sky’ (sold)

Spring is here, and along with that so much light, everywhere, and a strong sense of hope. That is how I feel anyway. I love this time of year, when it feels like anything is possible and each day is getting longer – in Scotland anyway… Hopefully these words are uplifting in some way…. I wrote them on my phone on the bus after meeting a friend who was full of energy and enthusiasm and it made me light up and want to share it.

Let yourself be inspired.
Seek inspiration.
It is everywhere.
Don’t see it? Think your life is boring and the same every day?
That is your mind and the way it has been conditioned to think that life is dull, boring, and unexciting.
Open your eyes. Open your heart, and let in the thing that is always there, it longs to break free and escape the mundane.
All you have to do is change your perspective and see things differently. It all comes from your mind.
Everything you look at will change, if you change your mind.
Walk on the other side of the road.
Drive a different way to work.
Smile at someone.
Start a conversation with someone you wouldn’t usually.
Smile.
Speak like you mean it.
Act like you mean it.
Do everything with more awareness.
If you are more aware you will start to notice even small glimpses of hope, and little opportunities that you don’t even realise you usually walk straight by because you decided that you are stuck and that you don’t deserve better.
If you do even small things and start to change your mind, your heart, and see things differently, I promise you your world will start to open up. Things and people will come your way, if you believe it is possible for things to change, they will.

This is all a practice. It is about breaking long term bad mental habits, like being negative and not seeing opportunities but rather always feeling stuck and like there is no option. And instead to practice building up good mental habits, like choosing to be happy, trying to think with clarity and remember that there is always a solution. Whatever situation you feel trapped in, there will be a solution. It might not be an easy one, but, if you don’t scale the mountain, you won’t see the view….

-Holly
x

http://www.hollysharpe.com
Image from my Instagram