Go Admire and Get Inspired – at SALA: South Australian Living Artists Festival

So often the work of great artists of history are accompanied with the tale of anonymity in life, and fame after death.  What a lovely thing it is then to have an annual Living Artists Festival here in South Australia. Each year throughout the month of August our state comes alive with the work of current makers and visual creatives on display. We get to see art in our public spaces. It grabs our attention and usually our admiration. It can spark our curiosity. And we can have the opportunity for observation of the making process and for conversation with the artist him/her self. 

During SALA we can find mini-exhibitions dotted around in our usual environments like our local libraries and shopping centres – places where we can just come across art in the midst of our usual routines. For example, this week a stop off at a suburban bakery “Jeeze Louise” revealed an exhibition of striking black and white lino prints by 12 year old students from the local Walkerville Primary School. You can find this listed in the SALA guide.

You can also use the SALA guide to plan your visit to any number of studios, galleries and exhibition spaces that come alive for this festival each year across our state.

For example, on Friday I purposefully travelled 45 mins south of the CBD to visit a studio/gallery at Kangarilla for an exhibition of watercolours and mixed media artworks titled “Ode to the Flower” by artist Judy Garrard. See – https://www.salafestival.com/artfuel/program

Standing in the studio gallery there, amidst the artist’s framed original paintings, exquisite teapot cosies, cushions, plant art, and handmade and decorated photo frames, her amazing and prolific level of mastery as an artist and maker jumps out. We heard how the local artist’s collective and the SALA Festival offer avenues to share and display and sell that which she is constantly driven to create. 

We chatted with the artist over a cuppa and the topic of making and creating flowed, with my aging mother in law indicating how many artistic crafts she herself has turned her hand to throughout the course of her life – like cross-stitching church kneelers, making mosaic tables, china painting, floral arranging, and now in her 90s still beading beautiful pictures for framing. She spoke of her sister’s penchant for weaving and woodwork – not only teaching weaving at Barkuma in her day, but making the wooden weaving looms too. She had gone on to upholster furniture for fun later in her life.  And as we chatted, we were looking out into the wintry day over the colourful garden to where Judy’s husband was building a charming stone wall in keeping with the era of the original old dairy building where the studio is located.  Another example of humans taking the time to make by hand.

This studio/gallery provided an immersive experience – like a day spa for the spirit.  We left feeling refreshed and nurtured by all the beauty. We had certainly been reminded of the value of the human capacity to make things of beauty.  

An influential occupational therapist Mary Reilly is often quoted for her observation that “Man, through the use of his hands, as they are energized by mind and will, can influence the state of his own health.” Delivered in her 1961 Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture at the national conference of the American Association of Occupational Therapists, lets look past the masculinised language of the era to the intent of her message that our creative outlet through our handiwork can be an avenue for experiencing wellbeing, and I would add…. not just for the maker nor only in the making itself, but also for people who connect with the making process and outcome through observing and appreciating.

So this month as we start to shake off winter and feel the stirrings of spring within and around us, may I recommend you get out and enjoy any of the SALA exhibitions available at the moment. Its the perfect time to go get inspired as you admire! 

Community Wellbeing in Winter

How tempting it can be in winter to stay inside in the warmth of our own homes! And yet heading out to participate in positive community events, can warm us from the inside out! Or at least that has been my experience of late.

Last weekend Elizabeth and I from NOW Leadership Inc went to the annual fundraising dinner for the Womens’ Community Centre of South Australia.  Wow what a night of fun and celebration. From the Aboriginal welcome to country, to the acapella songs from Africa and Persia, to the games that had many guests up and roaming the room and chatting to each other as we went, to delicious shared Indian cuisine – all the elements of the evening welcomed and relaxed us. And the longevity of friendships in the room was remarkable – therein lying a significant element of resilience for the Womens’ Centre.  What a great night out for a great cause.

And this weekend, it was a public concert that got me out of my warm cocoon at home. I am so glad I stepped out because what was evident at the concert by Tutti Arts was a mastery in co-creating an expressive, inclusive culture – harnessing and celebrating the talents of artists with disability.  The program was woven together beautifully, delivered with tolerance and dignity, and MCd with warmth and humour. There was a joy emitting from the singers and musicians alike that was positive, confident and contagious – and I imagine I am not alone in feeling lifted and inspired by what I witnessed and enjoyed there that evening – the wonderful performances and the wonderful Tutti Arts culture.

So how about you – have you been stepping out this winter beyond your own home and closest circle?  If so, I hope you’ve been met with positive values and attitudes to warm the very cockles of your heart.

 

 

 

“Balance for Better” – the 2019 theme for International Womens’ Day

Celebrating International Womens’ Day last week brought to mind the many women I know doing a multitude of amazing stuff every single day….. raising kids, supporting partners, supporting relatives with disability, tending to aging relatives, bouncing back from various crises and challenges, contributing in paid work roles, building businesses, studying to transition to other careers, keeping friendships alive with listening and simple acts of kindness, fitting in fitness, sustaining pets, caring about their communities, listening to their hearts and knowing their why behind their choices.

And one thing common to all women is that a healthy dose of self-care is necessary if we are to sustain our valuable leadership and contributions in our busy lives.

This year,  NOW Leadership Inc  partnered with Stretton Connect to celebrate IWD19 on 8th March with a luncheon event that highlighted three successful business women from the northern suburbs of Adelaide – Vanessa Bamford, Louise Nobes and Monika Fiebig.

Vanessa&Monika
Monika Fiebig sharing her wisdom on the panel at IWD2019 luncheon at Stretton Connect

Focussing here on just one of these amazing women… Monika is the managing director and owner of Monika’s Organics, and at the event she shared her story of determined success in building her organic produce business over the past two decades.  It was brilliant to hear how having a very clear why, plenty of persistence, willingness to ask and learn in what she found to be a male dominated industry, and a strong drive to succeed have all been assets in growing her business.

In relation to the IWD19 theme “Balance for Better” Monika advised the women at the event to commit to regular self-care. She told us about a handy acronym – “NEWSTAR” –  that she came across, which highlights various ways we can pursue self care:-

N….nutrition

E…..exercise

W….water

S…..sunshine

T…..temperance

A…..air

R…..rest

This list is a great reminder that self-care can be about taking simple actions that nurture us, at low cost and without special equipment.

Monika’s tips were a great prelude to the mini workshop I then facilitated where we kept the conversation going about how we can experience more of the ever-elusive Balance, and considered some further tools and strategies that can help with this in our busy lives.

Balancing your life for Better miniworkshop IWD19
Cherie’s mini workshop discussing some tools and strategies for experiencing more balance

So in the spirit of International Womens’ Day, Monika and I encourage each woman reading this to pursue success in whatever it is you are focussing on – and to make it sustainable by including some self-care elements every day.

You can follow Monika’s Organics on Facebook for more information and updates about her nutritious farming produce, and connect with Heart Choice Enterprises on Facebook too, where the focus is on ‘Making Life Do-able’.

Everything you need will come to you wth perfect timing

Hey there peeps – happy new year to you!  I am kicking off my blogging for 2019 with an update with recent changes for me in the work arena.

Displayed near my computer screen at Flinders University was a meme with this Chinese proverb:- “Everything You Need Will Come to You at the Perfect Time”.  

I love it because it speaks of faith in an ultimate Providence.

For 18 years now I have taught part-time into the Clinical Rehabilitation and then Occupational Therapy programs at Flinders Uni.  Looking back, I can see that without a doubt everything that was needed to fulfil the role did indeed appear with great timing along the way – all the better to serve and support undergraduate and post-graduate students with the face-to-face and online teaching, tutoring, topic development and coordination, and in developing student-centred teaching and learning resources.

I can see the influence of Providence all the way through and as recently as in the closing months of 2018 when the time and opportunity came to choose to resign from my role at Flinders University and redirect the focus for the next chapter of my work.

Having finished off my Uni work now, I carry in my heart much fondness and gratitude for those wonderful colleagues and students who enriched my time there.

And here we are in the first weeks of a new year – 2019!

This is traditionally the time for reviewing and renewing our life commitments, focus, habits. What perfect timing for the next chapter in a purposeful life to emerge, and in my case for Heart Choice Enterprises to now be able to receive much more of my time and attention.

No doubt Providence is present in your life too, and if you haven’t already, I invite you to reflect on how this has been apparent in recent times, and to prioritise where and how you want to direct your time and attention into the new year to capitalise on that.

Humans are occupational beings, and we can make a better world by using each day we are given well.

To that end my wish is for the grace of Providence and Prosperity to bless the path of all good endeavours in 2019 and beyond.

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Self Care – it’s More than Important!

Last weekend I packed up the car, the child, the tent, some food, and “headed for the hills”.  We were going to visit friends on their land for a short camping trip.  On the day it did not seem the most important thing to be doing, but we were doing it anyway!

There were many more pressing things showing up on the day – like the housework that was piling up. Shopping for a new refrigerator was now on the agenda as well – considering that the old one packed up unexpectedly that very morning, delaying our departure.  The urgent unpacking of fridge and freezer items into an esky and a friend’s freezer all needed to be done before I could set about thinking of everything we would need for camping and getting it packed into the car – ugh!!!  And one look around my back yard that morning got me wondering if my yearning for some time ‘outdoors in nature’ wouldn’t better be fulfilled much closer to home – like, in my very own jungle of overgrown grass and weeds silently screaming for my attention?

Yes indeed, by the afternoon when we were still getting the fridge stuff sorted and the car packed and were therefore still at home instead of on the road, it was seeming much more practical and logical to cancel the planned trip – and yet my spirit was urging me to GO.  I could sense how easy it would be to feel really FLAT if I put this mini-break in the “too hard” basket.

I am writing this to tell you what a fantastic decision it was to go away despite the pressing domestic matters!  In the end we were away for less than 24 hours – and how effective that time was for relaxing and recharging the inner batteries.

The highlight was sharing great conversation and laughter with the family who invited us – good company sure can buoy the spirit.  We also got to gaze into a campfire, roast potatoes in a coal pit, play board games, listen to the guitar being played beautifully by an 11-year-old, listen to frogs croaking merrily and loudly all night in the creek beside us as well as the noisy rain on the tent just above our heads that sounded even louder in the darkness.  Faced with water on the floor of our tent overnight we got to work out how to keep most things dry until morning.  In the morning light we got to walk over green pastures, and admire the many birds and the rainbows in the clearing sky. We enjoyed swinging out over the creek on a wooden plank rigged up to a tree branch. The kids got involved with gathering kindling from the bush and setting the fire, and even helped with the cooking and the cleaning up! (Must have been all that fresh air!!) And we all had the absolute pleasure of seeing a very large nest high in a tree that was inhabited by a pair of wedge tail eagles and their young.

Our trip away last weekend showed me some really important ingredients in my self-care toolbox – which are social time with good friends, and outdoor time to feel the space and embrace of Nature’s beauty. Plus the reassurance of friends to help in the face of unexpected events such as ‘white goods’ breaking down!

Now here I am, the weekend after our camping trip….writing this overlooking a very tidy backyard (having done the backyard lawn-mowing yesterday and having a lovely surprise of a neighbour mowing the front lawn and verge for me), and with a replacement fridge organised for delivery later this week.

So it seems to me when balancing out the important things to attend to in life, it’s kind of important to know that self-care goes beyond important – it is in fact, Essential.

Self care can have many forms in many situations, and last weekend taking up our invitation to head away for a night of camping was exactly what I needed to do for my wellbeing.

Have you chosen to prioritise some self-care recently, and did you get to feel the benefit?

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A wonderful read that sparks some wondering…

What a wonderful book we have just finished reading in our household. It came highly recommended by a friend who had read it with her kids (a shout out to you here Libby, thanks!).

For me, a well written book tells a solid story, keeps me engaged and evokes my emotions.  So I was thrilled to discover R J Palacio’s very well written book, titled “Wonder”.  It’s the story of a boy – August (“Auggie”) – starting school for the first time. And its’ also the story of his courage in starting school, as he has significant congenital facial deformities. Plus it is the story of his journey from the perpsective of various people involved along the way.

It is an engaging story and it was hard to put this book down. Personally, I would have loved to stay up and indulge in an all-night read, but reading it to a child dictated otherwise.  Fortunately for me, said junior also found it compelling and requested extra chapters and deferred lights-out most evenings whilst reading this one.

There were several places where I was moved to tears as I read “Wonder”.  Over all the years of bed-time reading this hasn’t happened very often but whenever it has I must admit I’ve found it a little embarrassing to have a child’s eyes witnessing my beetroot face and my wobbly chin and hearing the squeak that replaces my usual voice. Of course, the ‘blubbering’ attests to the power of the great storyteller – deep emotions welling up in the reader without conscious control, simply triggered through empathy for what is happening in the story.  And I am pretty sure I am not the only person to cry whilst reading this very humane tale…., but I am curious as to whether we all cry at the same parts?

Don’t get me wrong it is not a sad story, but it is often poignant. For me the points that sparked tears were quite specific – including:- when big sis mentions having been witness to all that her little brother has been through with his surgeries from a young age; then when her grandmother declares her special love for big sis with reasons that show her deep empathy for the place of sibling; and then following a particular turning point (being suitably vague here to avoid spoiling the story) when Auggie can’t hold back his tears and finds himself crying openly amongst his peers – in that vulnerable moment a new mate doesn’t pull away but simply hugs him more – which also sprouted tears for me as my heart overflowed.  The tears are welling again as I recall these moments to write about them here!

I’m curious as to whether you too were moved to tears as you read “Wonder” – and where in the story this happened for you.  Is the relative poignancy of situations within this story dependent on the reader’s lived experiences and prior sensitivities and values?  Or do all readers shed a tear at the same points simply because we share a common humanity?

Explaining my tears to an inquisitive son, I described the chord being struck with my own lived experience of having a sibling with special needs. The community of compassion that arises in this book around the main character, Auggie, is such a delightful triumph. For those who share this lived experience of supporting the special needs for a family member who has some type of disability or difference, it is so good to have the resilience and triumph of all concerned celebrated in this book, not just dwelling on the challenges.

Knowing and loving someone with enduring special needs or differences is a powerful path for awakening empathy and compassion.  Shifting from “other” to “ours” – as in our aunty, our brother, our sister, our friend etc – can grow acceptance for diversity and difference, and stir a yearning for an inclusive society.

Reading “Wonder” is a great, down-to-earth way to grow and to refresh our appreciation for the human values and qualities that help to build community well-being and resilience. It can be a great discussion starter with your kids too.

If you haven’t read this story yet, I hope you get the opportunity soon.

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Praxis – what’s it good for?

As an occupational therapist who has researched apraxia I am often asked – what is praxis?

The term praxis in the neurological sense is the human ability to turn our ideas or impulses into doing!  Specifically, the ability to know what, when and how to perform actions to achieve skilled task performance.

A very simple example you could bring to mind here is applying a topping to toast at the kitchen bench in the morning – this is a task that requires you to skilfully use a knife – with spreading and then cutting actions at the right time.  Contrast that with another example that requires action – playing the piano. Piano playing requires you to move fingers and thumbs separately, rapidly and accurately, striking the instrument in the right places with the right pressure to create the desired tune and musical expression.  Similarly, you can take a moment to picture all the body actions entailed in playing a different musical instrument such as a violin – a whole different set of actions is entailed! And what about thinking of actions entailed in leisure pursuits like playing tennis effectively, compared with playing golf; and in the area of paid work what about the skilled actions involved in barista work compared with taxi driving?  These examples help to convey the human ability to vary our whole body actions and produce them perfectly for the task at hand – and here we are, my friends, in praxis territory!

Hands playing a piano against a sunlight lighting at a music lesson in a class.Close up of female customer driving in car at showroom

I wonder if you can recall your early stages of handling your first smart phone, and grappling to answer the first incoming call? It feels like an eon ago! I remember failing and having to listen to the voicemail later.  You see, I had never had to swipe on-screen to answer a call, and so that action was not in my learnt repertoire of actions for handling a phone.  And in those apraxic moments of grappling ineffectually with my new phone – trying to find a button to press as had been the technique on my old phones and even trying the pressing action onscreen – critical time ticked by and voicemail took over for me!   Thankfully humans are wired to be adaptive and strategic so that we can be successful with the tasks we want to complete – and so after just a single episode of struggling and failing I knew I needed a different technique!  I consulted with a friend briefly, heard that after pressing the screen I needed to add a swiping action….. and thereafter I was competent with answering calls on my smart phone.

Young Woman's Hands Holding Red Smart Phone

These examples show how, neurologically speaking, human praxis has both a motor aspect (performance of the right actions for the situation) and a conceptual aspect (knowing which actions are appropriate and how to sequence a series of appropriate actions).

Indeed in the medical and allied health literature praxis is described as a high level cognitive ability that arises from whole-brain cooperation – from parallel processing throughout the cerebral hemispheres and subcortical structures, and also supported through the motor learning role of the “little brain” – the cerebellum.

As this human capacity called praxis allows us to be competent in conceptualising and operationalising actions, enabling each of us to be able to do what we want to do effectively and efficiently – across all occupational areas of our life – from personal care tasks to work and leisure and any meaningful activity related to our roles and participation in society, it would seem that the answer to the question “What is praxis good for?” would be – “Everything! 

Praxis is good for everything we want and need to do.

More praxis ponderings in future peeps…..  for now I hope you can take a moment to connect in with gratitude for your own praxis capacity, and all it enables you to do in your life!

Cherie Rowett

Heart Choice Enterprises

M: 0401 065 234

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The value of harmony

HarmonyDaywebbanner-horizontal-orangeRecently my collaborators and I in NOW Leadership Academy Inc and Happy Hearts Hub invited other potential collaborators to join with us in creating a Harmony Day celebration.  It was interesting to discuss together our various views of harmony when we met.

I found myself recalling experiences of creating vocal harmony as a member of a choir.

Have you ever sung in a choir?   I’ve found that the art is in upholding your own tune together with your section, whilst balancing and coordinating with the diverse tunes and timing of the sections around you. It helps when everyone sings their parts confidently – with choir members willing and committed to coordinating their individual efforts.  And a shared vision and intention as a choir overall is essential too, to fuel the persistence in practicing for a streamlined performance.

As the choir develops more skill together, the collective beauty of what is being practiced and performed seems to call forth a greater contribution from each singer  – and you find you are in the midst of an amazing UNITY of voices and hearts that are transforming the components into a very musical whole.

When it comes to multicultural harmony I find my choir experiences can serve as a metaphor, indicating that whilst we can all benefit from the results of social harmony, we cannot take it for granted – as it is the result of honouring a co-creative process with each other and keeping our skills and willingness honed.

In Australia there is an annual day to celebrate Harmony together nationally.  Together with our collaborators we are very pleased to be co-creating an event together on Sunday 19th March in Adelaide as part of national Harmony Day celebrations in 2017.  You can find more details of our event under the Events tab on this website and on the national events register. In the meantime if you want to jump online to book in to the event you can use this link – we’d sure appreciate your presence on the day. Because EVERYONE BELONGS!

Happy Hearts Harmony Day HUB event bookings

 

 

Heart Choice Families – February fun!

We gathered, we did – we 4 families, being 6 parents and 8 kids – and in our gathering circle to open we each shared a highlight from our week.  We found the start of the school year and the return of busy routines was a common feature.

We then walked the 5 minute stroll to the local Croquet green where we discovered the joy of generating a pendulum-like swing of a wooden mallet to send balls rolling across the impeccable lawn towards or, better yet – through – each metal hoop.  In our teams of mixed (kids and parents) composition we hit and giggled and gratefully accepted the tuition and tips from our kind advisor, Don.

A fine afternoon was had by all.  At the end, over a cuppa together, many of us commented on the value of carving out the time to connect and share this camaraderie and an activity together.  We found it a fun activity for all – adults and kids alike (from about 8 yo up).

Even the sprinkling rain could not deter us from playing, and as it gradually got a bit heavier it added a sense of adventure to the return walk too.

croquetfeb17

 

A new year is here!

This new year feels exciting to me – like crossing a threshold into the next chapter. I look forward to the daily chance to create more personal and community wellbeing…and wish YOU an abundance of self care and a vibrant community life throughout 2017.

This year my intention is for self love and well being to be so well nurtured that they supply endless energy for growing community, connection and belonging.  This intention is accompanied with heartfelt Gratitude for ongoing and emerging collaborators.

May blessings abound in this beautiful work – and this beautiful world – throughout 2017 and beyond!

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