My Top 5 Favourite TED Talks

I know this is a second top 5, but I really enjoyed doing the movie one yesterday, so I thought I would share my favourite TED Talks that I have watched several times.

I won’t go into detail about why I love each one, but I would encourage you to find some time to watch them, because they have inspired me so much. There are so many amazing bits of gold in them, and every time I watch them, I hear new things, I resonate with different things, and become even more inspired.

The following four ladies are most definitely ladies I would consider to be great role models. Their passion, their drive, and their ability to be vulnerable, honest and authentic on stage is incredible.

What do you think of the talks? What is your favourite TED? Would love to know if you have any recommendations!

#1. Diana Nyad – Find a Way

#2. Elizabeth Gilbert – Your Elusive Creative Genius

#3. Brene Brown – The Power of Vulnerability

#4. Brene Brown – Listening to Shame

#5. Amanda Palmer – The Art of Asking

How I Deal with Criticism

“In many ways the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgement. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.”

–  Anton Ego, Ratatouille 

This quote from Ratatouille really hit home today, as yesterday I found myself to be the subject of a blog post, where I was personally ridiculed for my ‘extreme’ positivity. The author of the blog said that I had nothing at my core, and that my Spirituality was based on pretty pictures with absurd quotes on them, and that I foolishly believed that the Universe would provide me with everything I needed. He had unfriended me on Facebook because my posts of positive affirmations were offending him. Had this been someone I barely knew, it would have hurt less, I presume. But this was someone I knew and had trusted, and had wished nothing but good for. I asked to be unsubscribed from his blog, lest I be subjected to more of his negative rants, and he took offence to that, after all, why shouldn’t he express his opinion?

By all means, express your opinion. But know that it says more about you, than the person you talk about. And should the subject of your rantings express their desire not to read rubbish written about them, then you should respect that.

So what should we do, those of us who put our work, and ourselves out there in the world, when someone takes it upon themselves to tear us apart? A few months ago, I came across the story of an author who had listed her book, pre-publication, on Goodreads. For no known reason, several members took it upon themselves to write terrible reviews of her books, and very nasty things about her, which I will not repeat here. In response to this, she decided not to publish the book, and withdrew from the Goodreads community altogether. Because of that senseless trolling, the world will never see her words, read her masterpieces. Was her choice the right one? Only she will know that. I hope that one day she may be brave enough to bare her soul again.

Some might say that artists and writers need to toughen up, that criticism is necessary, and that we should just learn to deal with it. But why should we? Isn’t it our sensitivity that makes our words and images great? We dare to be vulnerable so that the critic doesn’t have to. And is criticism actually necessary? We do it because it is the norm, but I don’t believe it is for the good of anyone. I love the quote that Brene Brown uses often, that inspired her book – Daring Greatly. It was in a speech that Theodore Roosevelt gave:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. “

We artists and writers are in the arena daily, and we are continually picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off after being ridiculed or slighted for our work. But we mustn’t allow the critic or the pessimist stop us from being vulnerable and open. We are not weak when we are vulnerable, we are strong. Because we are not afraid to be who we truly are, no matter what anyone else might say or do to us.

Be yourself, everyone else is far too boring!

My advice to those who are finding themselves the subject of derision or negative criticism – is to smile, and know that as Neale Donald Walsch says – ‘No one does anything inappropriate, given their model of the world.’ The critic’s view of the world may be dark and depressing, but yours need not be. Don’t take their words to heart, because for every critic, there will be many people who love you, and love your work.

So finally, I would like to say thank you, to the one who said I was a ‘doolally flake’, because you have reminded me to surround myself with people who believe in me, as I believe in myself too. And in spite of all you have said, I still wish you the best.

Imperfection? It’s a doddle…

I have been inspired to write this post by two things. I am doing an eCourse with Brene Brown at the moment. It’s a 6 weeks course based on her book – The Gifts of Imperfection. I found a video of her on Youtube a few weeks ago and I was hooked immediately. I love the way she talks, how she is so open and honest and authentic, and how she put things in such a simple yet profound way. The course is in its second week now, and I am enjoying the art journaling, it’s been a while since I let myself mess around with paints and not worry about the outcome.

Something that I’ve begun to admit openly recently, is my inability to be imperfect. Sounds crazy, I know, but when it comes to trying something new, if I can’t do it right straight away – I’m usually not interested. Unless of course, I can practice in secret where no one can see/hear me, and then when I’ve perfected it, reveal it, looking all shiny and amazing. Yet, I’ve always encouraged people to try things, to experiment. When I worked in Buck’s Rock Summer Camp, my motto was ‘the wonkier the better’. I would encourage the campers to just create, and enjoy the process, and not worry about whether it was perfect. After all, the more imperfect it was, the more handmade it looked, and therefore people knew how much love and effort had gone into the making of it. When I worked in Derby College in the art department, it was a similar story. I would encourage the students to be creative, to experiment, and to not be afraid to do it wrong or to fail, because they could just keep trying. I would then tell them the story of Doddle.

Sometimes, there have been times that my first attempt at something was truly terrible, but for some reason, I was inspired to keep trying. One day, my mum had a craft magazine, that featured a mini fabric teddy bear. In the article, it said – ‘This little bear is a doddle to make in an evening.’ Well, mine took me a week, and was a painfully slow and frustrating process. My mum’s attempt went in the bin after a few hours. But I finished mine, and here was the end result:

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Though I find him to be quite endearing now, he is still so incredibly imperfect. The stitching is terrible, the shape is awful, I didn’t figure out how to attach his ears, so they have ragged edges, the list of his imperfections is huge. But do you know what? Every person who has met Doddle has fallen in love with him. I went on to make many more bears, getting a little better each time. I started making them from bear felt, which was easier to use than fabric. My friend worked in a Traditional Toy Shop, and she sold many of my bears in there for me. Then, after a year of two, I started using mohair. It was a big step for me, because mohair is over £100 a metre. My first few mohair bears weren’t perfect, but I still found families to adopt them. After a while, I was creating bears like Robert:

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He still may not be perfect, but he is a million times better than my first attempt. (sorry, Doddle!) And all it took to get from one to the other, was time, practice, patience and perseverance.

I plan to keep Doddle on my computer as a reminder that as Brene would say, Imperfection and vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity. And that I am imperfect, and I am enough. (As is Doddle 🙂 )

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