003 Inefficiency is a virtue
Calming anxiety, lost Ukrainian art and the value of doing very little.
7 things to draw on this week
Is anyone else feeling discombobulated?
Definition of discombobulated
dis·com·bob·u·lat·ed | \ ˌdis-kəm-ˈbä-b(y)ə-ˌlā-təd \
informal: characterized by confusion or disorder
The A Word
Eight days into the Ukraine conflict, I suddenly felt that sharing all this creative and personal stuff felt somewhat vacuous, mostly irrelevant when people are dying, and the stability of our world is at stake.
This is otherwise known as ANXIETY.
I’m assuming I’m not alone in feeling this way; therefore, this week, I’m sharing creative and mindful resources that serendipitously popped up just as I needed them. Thank you, Universe.
1. The Five Finger Breathing Technique
When you’re anxious, the best thing to do is to take a pause and focus on your breath. But when regular breathing exercises don’t work, the five finger breathing exercise is excellent. It encourages a multi-sensory approach.
You use more of your senses as you watch and feel your fingers whilst also being aware of your breathing. This takes up a lot more of your brain’s cognitive resources and thus drowns out some of the noise of anxious thoughts and feelings.
(The video says Coronavirus Anxiety, but this technique can apply at any time you experience anxiety.)
2. Spiralling Out Before Working
More Lynda Barry inspiration this week.
I read about these spiral drawings in her wonderful book ‘Syllabus’ (another fantastic Austin Kleon recommendation). What’s interesting about the video I’m sharing today is as Lynda creates her spiral, she does a top-down body scan as she draws. This is a beautiful example of creativity and mindfulness working together and a perfect way to eliminate anxious thoughts and feelings.
3. Your Peak Mind
A book I recommend if you’re not ‘into’ mindfulness but want to understand its benefits from a neuroscience perspective, is ‘Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day by professor of psychology at the University of Miami, Amishi Jha. Not only does she explain mindfulness in terms of training our brains to be better focused, she offers techniques to try that you can easily fit into your day.
Here’s an excellent, concise interview with Amishi on The Accidental Creative podcast with Todd Henry
4. Beautiful Ukrainian Folk Art - a Casualty of War
I was saddened to hear, via the Great Women Artists Instagram post that some of the works by Ukrainian folk artist Mariia Pryimachenko were destroyed during the Russian Invasion
Katy Hessel writes:
Prymachenko (1909–1997) was a Ukrainian folk art painter. She worked across painting and embroidery, tapestry and ceramics for her dazzling, brightly coloured compositions of animals and flowers which dance off the surface in their glittering glory, and are filled with messages of peace.
We need to honour artists like Priyamachenko in times like these and remember the far-reaching consequences of war on all our cultures. So I encourage you to take some time to read about this beautiful artist and her magical work.
Image: Bird (1962) Reproduced in Mariia Pryimachenko. Al'bom (Kyiv, 1994). YA.1997.a.1106.
5. Musings on An Inefficient Life
In my despair at the world this week, I haven’t felt like writing much, so I’ve no blog posts or artwork to share. This set off an all too familiar feeling of guilt and failure that so often plagues my psyche!
In his wisdom, my wonderful husband recognized my quiet anxiety and sent me this article, Musings on An Inefficient Life’.
He gently reminded me that fast isn’t better, unfinished doesn’t matter, and inefficiency can indeed be a virtue.
How seldom do we stop and tend. Because tending to things slowly and attentively isn’t a virtue in a world of efficiency. Why bother? Why bother to learn the art of sewing when you can buy clothes ready made, and cheap, too, at a big store? Why bother to learn how to plant a seed, care for a seedling, pay attention to frost dates and brave the prickly cucumber vines when you can just go to the store and buy a perfect cuke? Why bother carrying in the wood, learning the art of building a fire, having to pay attention to the ebb and flow of flame and heat when you can set the thermostat and pay no heed? Why, indeed? …
Taking time to process my thoughts, or stare out of the window, to feel grateful for the warmth, love and safety I’m so lucky to have - well, my week might not have resulted in efficiency, in doing or creating, but time out is time well-spent. And we would go far to remind ourselves of this when the chaos gets the better of our sensibilities.
6. Instagram vs Reality
That isn’t entirely true. I did manage to share something this week online, via Instagram stories: an image of my polished digital life vs the absolute mess of reality, aka my desk!
7. And Finally…
This week, I’m not finishing with a quote but with a poem.
I’m Busy by Brooke Hampton
but not in the way
most people accept.
I’m busy calming my fear
and finding my courage.
I’m busy listening to my kids.
I’m busy getting in touch
with what is real.
I’m busy growing things and
connecting with the natural world.
I’m busy questioning my answers.
I’m busy being present in my life.
Now, my friends, go get busy with inefficiency and being with what’s important, instead.
Have a restful weekend