Improve

Walking in 2017 like…..

Me doing this improvised piece is beyond a big deal for me. It exposes me and shows me at my most vulnerable state. I watched this video like a thousand times cringing and frowning only because I am my worst critic. Dance was once MY LIFE and I literally haven’t performed in 5 years. BUT this is my start. My start in perusing what I love and the things I’m most passionate about. I realize that me walking in the journey of my truth requires me to be vulnerable and to take risk. So even though I kind of don’t like this performance I will share it anyway. I’m extremely rusty and I got some work to do but I’m ready …. *sigh*

Peace and blessings and happy New Year loves!

📸: Linda La Sarabi
🎼: Jazmine Sullivan - Masterpiece

Why you’re not improving your art

Have you ever felt like your art is on the same level for a long time? Have you ever felt like you can’t grow your skills. Have you ever felt like everyone around you grows in rapid speed and you are just like a snail at the end of the race?

I was thinking about that and trying to pinpoint the reasons why you might feel that way. I figured out some solutions that helped me and some other artists I know.

1. Not looking for critique/feedback

‘You can’t yourself pinpoint things you need to focus on because your eye still isn’t trained enough to pinpoint exact problems.’

This is number one problem I see and many professional artists will tell you about that. You can’t be too shy to show your work to people who can give you good critique. Look for professionals who are willing to help you and use that. Critiquing is mistaken to be something hurtful for young artists BUT in reality people giving feedback are trying to help you grow. I know how hard it is to hear that you are still not good enough, that your art is lacking something. Maybe you know that yourself but you can’t yourself pinpoint things you need to focus on because your eye still isn’t trained enough to pinpoint exact problems. The best person to go to would be professional with trained eyes who is able to say by flipping through your portfolio what it lacks and what you can do to make it look better. Don’t be afraid and seek that help. Don’t be too attached to your own art and accept that it isn’t perfect and you need a fresh pair of eyes to look at it.

2.  Not implementing the feedback

'Implementing is the key step in the process of growing.’

After you have done first step from my list and you finally found a professional willing to give you feedback try to implement feedback. Don’t just listen to it, nod few times pretending you understand what it being said. Don’t defend your art and don’t give excuses if the critique is genuine. Implementing is the key step in the process of growing. There is no use in feedback without you actually trying out the tips you were given. The whole point of that is to change your work. You are not being better artists by collecting thoughts about your art. Now it is time to do the work. It actually requires to put time and effort . Usually what people do,after receiving feedback, is  they pat themselves on back like it was 'job well done’ and being lazy. They are not willing to actually put in the work to implement feedback. It is time consuming and you need to put a lot of effort. Although without that there is not any point in seeking feedback.

3. Not trying/not failing enough

'Embrace failures as a valuable lessons.’

Yes! There is lesson in failure! As hard as it is to understand. Once you collect experience you grow from it and become wiser. You know what path to choose to avoid next time failure. Successful people are the ones that can try something many times before they finally succeed. When they finally succeed it’s just a result of many attempts they have made before. No one is born ready for challenge. People are scared to lose because for our psyche it hurts more than a win feels good. People will try avoid at any cost losing so at some point they give up and stop trying. You can’t say for sure you will be successful artist after you did it for a year and don’t see result. You are not the one deciding how long it takes. It will be done some day. some day you will meet your artistic goals. But you will only meet them by trying and failing probably hundred times on a way. Just don’t be afraid. Those mistakes on a way are path that differentiate you and a professional. They already failed many times to get to where they are now. When you understand that you will embrace failures as a valuable lessons.

4. Doing things that are not  challenging you.

'Feel uncomfortable and pick up this damn pencil and draw like no one else is watching!’

Don’t settle in your comfort zone. You’ve heard that already many times right? That is why. You limit your skillset. Good things come out of comfort zone. If you feel like you have problems drawing something you are probably right. The reason is you don’t challenge yourself enough to draw things that are difficult for you. For example if you are only drawing a boy in front view standing with hands straight it doesn’t sound like the most exciting art right? But what if it’s the only thing you can draw and it looks somewhat decent? Well then, solution for that is easy - experiment with different angles, experiment with expressions, with composition, with different species. Be brave here and discover topics you don’t draw. You art will become more interesting and you will be more confident drawing. Personally I know that this is the hardest part for artists. It is hard to let go of what we know and discover unknown. We feel vulnerable and  like we can’t really draw. This feeling sucks. As much as this feeling sucks you know what else sucks? Sucks that your skills are stagnating. Feel uncomfortable and pick up this damn pencil and draw like no one else is watching! I guarantee that after some time you will be surprised with what you created and how your art have changed.

Good luck to everyone who is on path of improvement!

I don’t want to look like anyone else.

I want to look like a stronger me.

I want to look like a faster me.

I want to look like a more confident me.

I want to look like the happiest version of myself.

I don’t want another person’s body. I don’t want their hair. I don’t want their smile. I don’t want their boobs, or butt, or anything. I simply want to look like the best version of myself. 

10 Journal Prompts to Help Guide Healthy Eating

1) Make a venn diagram with your favourite foods on one side, healthiest foods you can think of on the other side, and healthy foods you love in the middle. 

2) Get ahold of some second-hand cookbooks and cooking magazines. Cut out recipes and keep them in a pocket in your journal. Dedicate a few pages for pasting in the recipes you’re most likely to make. 

3) Draw and colour little doodles of your favourite healthy raw ingredients. Next time you are shopping for food, remember to pick up some of the things that you drew. 

4) Make a collage with the labels from foods that you are proud to eat and enjoy. It will be easier to collage with tiny cut-out sections rather than the whole label. 

5) Divide the page into columns. At the top of each column, list a meal you like to cook for yourself. Below each meal, brainstorm additional ingredients that could improve the original meal. Try to replace unhealthy components of the meal with healthier counterparts. Highlight ingredients that appear in multiple columns and keep them in mind next time you are shopping. 

6) Make a list of food-related goals. Ie. cook dinner at home at least twice a week, eat at least one vegetarian meal per day, etc. Put a tally next to the goal for every step you take towards achieving it. 

7) If you’re journalling at night, try to remember everything you’ve eaten during the day and make a list. Highlight items on the list that you are proud to have eaten. Take a moment to reflect and congratulate yourself for the healthy choices you have made. 

8) Make a list of your favourite dips, sauces, and condiments. Pick out a few that seem easiest to make and find recipes for them that use healthy foods and raw ingredients. List the ingredients in your journal and keep them in mind next time you buy groceries. 

9) Draw some of your favourite cooking herbs. Beside each herb, make a list of the dishes that taste best with it. Put a checkmark beside each dish after you’ve made it. 

10) Brainstorm a list of the benefits and desired outcomes of eating healthy. For each item on the list, dig a little deeper and describe why it is beneficial. For example, beside “better nutrition” you might write about the downsides of poor nutrition.  

9

DBT Distress Tolerance skills: IMPROVE the moment.

Distress Tolerance skills are here to help you tolerate painful situations. When changing a situation/emotion is either impossible or ineffective, the other option is to tolerate it. These skills aren’t here to make your painful emotions go away. Allowing yourself to feel emotional pain as it happens is necessary in order to avoid suffering. Instead, distress tolerance skills exist in an effort to make feeling emotional pain a bit more bearable as the situation takes it’s natural course. One of the DT skills is IMPROVE.

  • Imagery: Visualize a safe place. The ocean, a field of flowers, your favorite vacation spot, etc. Take yourself there mentally.
  • Meaning: Find the meaning in the situation. Why is it happening? Is there a reason behind your emotional pain? Self growth, self-validation, etc? 
  • Prayer: If you’re religious, pray and find comfort in your religion. Those who are not religious can also meditate and read positive affirmations.
  • Relaxation: Take care of yourself. Take a bubble bath, have a spa day, curl up in a warm blanket with some hot cocoa, take a nap, etc. Unwind.
  • One Thing At a Time: Don’t attempt to multitask, as this gives your mind more leeway to wander. Focus on doing one thing at a time and fully participate in doing only that thing. Mindfulness is key.
  • Vacation: Take a break from the situation. Give your mind space to breathe for a while. Have some ‘me’ time. Read a book, watch an upbeat movie, imagine going on a real vacation, or (if possible) really go on one. 
  • Encouragement: Self validate. Remind yourself that you’ve gotten through difficult situations in the past and you will again. Be a friend to yourself; be your own cheerleader. If needed, you can also seek outside encouragement from close friends or family members. 
10 Ways to Get Smarter By Keeping an Art Journal

These journal prompts are designed to help you employ common memory devices to learn new things and keep track of information. Most of these techniques are taken from the books “Moonwalking With Einstein” by Joshua Foer, and “How to Develop, Train, and Use Memory” by William Walter Atkinson. These prompts emphasize the value of making connections, visualizing information, and decontextualizing key details to improve memory recall. 


1. Plan your learning:  Brainstorm a list of topics you want to learn about. When you feel left out of a conversation because you don’t know anything about the topic, take a note and add it to the list. 


2. Take Non-School Related Notes : Pick one of your listed topics and search for a simplified explanation of it on Youtube. Dedicate a page in your journal to take notes on that video. Define key terms, write in point form, and connect what you learn to things you already know by circling the point and writing in what it reminds you of. 


3. Learn About Current Events: Cut an interesting article out of a newspaper or magazine and paste it in your journal. Highlight key passages and take notes on the implications of the part you’ve highlighted. Beside the article, write your thoughts, opinions, and concerns regarding the article. 


4. Mix School with Your Personal Life: Dedicate at least a two page spread to taking notes on something related to school. If you’re not in school, take notes on something you remember learning but have forgotten all about. Use lines to connect your point form notes with elements from your personal life that are relevant to the topic. Example: If you’re learning about water pollution, you might connect a bit of information to your own experiences swimming in polluted water. Connecting school to your personal life helps makes studying seem like something you want to do, not something you have to do. 


5. Recall Insignificant Details: Cut the title page out of the book you are currently reading (optional, as I know a lot of people have a visceral objection to cutting books). Give a point form summary of everything that has happened in the book so far, without going back to remind yourself. Forcing yourself to recall small details will strengthen your ability to remember details in the future. 


6. Answer Your Own Questions: Draw a line down the page to divide it into two columns. In one column, brainstorm questions that you don’t know the whole answer to. Example: how does photosynthesis work? What is nuclear fusion? What trees grow in my area? Google each question and write the answers in the second column. If you find an answer that is particularly interesting, take detailed notes on the opposite page. 


7. Learn to Use Mnemonic Devices: If you are studying difficult vocabulary or something else that requires wrote-memorization, keep an ongoing list in your journal of terms and concepts you need to remember. For each one, break the word down into syllables and assign a picture or word that the syllable reminds you of. Then, put those words/pictures together in a way that is relevant to the word’s definition.  Example: the word “Zooxanthellae” (a kind of algae) can be broken into ‘zoo’ ‘zan’ ‘tell’ ‘eh’. You could think of an algae hiding in a zoo, telling a woman named Suzan about Canada, eh. Describe this situation in your journal. This is a highly effective memorization tool called a ‘mnemonic’. 


8. Kill Boredom With Memory Recall: Brainstorm lists of the books you’ve read in the past year, the things you bought at the grocery store last, the things you’ve eaten in the past two days, the characters in your old favourite tv shows, and anything else that requires detailed, accurate memory recall. Fill a page in your journal with these lists. 


9. Record Your Life: Write at least a small point-form journal entry every day describing what you did, who you saw, what you bought, and what you ate. Recalling these details strengthens your memory of them, and recording them creates memory-bridges that can be used to retrieve your memories of each day, even after you’ve completely forgotten them. In a few years, re-read your journal entries: you’ll likely be able to recall something from almost every day you took the time to record. 


10. Record and Perfect Your Thoughts, Opinions, and Ideas: Write a list of topics that you either spend a lot of time thinking about or that you have strong opinions on. When you feel like writing for a while, review this list and dedicate a page to recording your thoughts about each item. I like to title these pages “Thought practice”. Recording your thoughts will help you sort out inconsistencies and develop thought-out ideas that you can express more clearly in conversation (since you’ve already written out what to say :P) Make sure to ask questions and point out flaws in your own writing. Keep track of areas where you might be missing information.


Bonus: There are many more useful memory tips and tricks that I haven’t written about in these prompts. I’ve included a few below, but be sure to check out the books I referenced at the top if you’re interested in learning more. Both books can be found as audiobooks on Youtube.   

-Sorting information using different coloured pens or different fonts/ writing styles forces your brain to concentrate just a little bit harder, making memory bridges just a little bit stronger.

-Connect new information to something emotional, funny, or sexual to make it stand out in your mind. 

-Practice creating mnemonic devices in your head when you have some time to kill (at the bus stop, in line at the store, etc.)

-Study the same information in many different places, especially standing or moving around. 

-Teach others about what you have learnt whenever possible. Teaching reinforces memories and will also help you express your knowledge in a logical, linear way. 

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