• Goodbye jelly belly!
    Losing weight using Tony Robbins’ 5 steps to change.

    This is my first woodcut using the two blocks that I carved and showed in the previous post. I had a lot of fun making this but I ran into a lot of problems. It was a great learning curve. Hopefully the next one will be more straight forward.

    Idon’t fit my favourite dresses.
    My children slap my wobbly tummy and giggle.
    I yearn for the strength and lightness I felt when I was fitter (when walking felt like restraint because every inch of me wanted to break into a run; and when running felt easy – not heavy and awkward.) More than anything, I don’t want to let go of my belief in myself that I am determined and self disciplined.
    It’s been eight years since I was at my ideal weight (pre-children), but this year I have a plan and no excuses: I am going to use a ‘Neuro Associative Conditioning’ technique taught by Anthony Robbins (often referred to as Tony) in Awaken the Giant Within.

    Below are excerpts from the five steps to change that Tony Robbins recommends. To understand them fully it is necessary to read his book. They are laid out and explained in detail in Chapter 6 and can be applied to any change, not weight loss specifically.

    1. Decide what you really want and what’s preventing you from having it now. The more specific you can be about what you want, the more clarity you will have, and the more power you will command to achieve what you want more rapidly.
    2. Get leverage: Associate massive pain to not changing now and massive pleasure to the experience of changing now. The only way we’re going to make a change now is if we create a sense of urgency that’s so intense that we’re compelled to follow through. To paraphrase the philosopher Nietzsche, he who has a strong enough why can bear almost any how. 20 percent of any change is knowing how; but 80 per cent is knowing why. If we gather a set of strong enough reasons to change, we can change in a minute something we’ve failed to change in years. Ask pain inducing questions: What will this cost me if I don’t change? What is it costing me mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually? Ask pleasure-associating questions: If I do change how will that make me feel about myself? What kind of momentum could I create if I change this in my life? What other things could I accomplish if I really made this change today? How will my family and friends feel? How much happier will I be?
    3. Interrupt the limiting pattern. In order for us to consistently feel a certain way, we develop characteristic patterns of thinking, focused on the same images and ideas, asking ourselves the same questions. The challenge is that most people want a new result, but continue to act in the same way. Think of some of the ways you can interrupt your own patterns. One of the key distinctions to interrupting a pattern is that you must do it in the moment the pattern is recurring.
    4. Create a new, empowering alternative. This fourth step is absolutely critical to establishing long term change. The failure by most people to find an alternative way of getting out of pain and into the feelings of pleasure is the major reason most people’s attempts at change are only temporary.
    5. Condition the new pattern until it is consistent. If you rehearse the new, empowering alternative again and again with tremendous emotional intensity, you’ll carve out a pathway, and with even more repetition and emotion, it will become a part of your habitual behavior. Your brain can’t tell the difference between something you vividly imagine and something you actually experience. Conditioning ensures that you automatically travel along the new route, that if you spot one of the “off ramps” you used to take all the time, now you just speed past them – in fact, they’ll actually become difficult to take. The next step is to set up a schedule to reinforce your new behavior. How can you reward yourself for succeeding? Don’t wait a year,. When you’ve gone a day, give yourself a reward!

    I will also be using advice and tools I have discovered via The Life Coach School. I have listed the specific podcast episodes below. I’ll be logging my progress over the entire year, aiming for a weight of 47 kilos by Christmas 2018 (preferably sooner). I weighed in two days ago at 55.5 kilos. Please get in touch if you’d like to join me in getting slim, strong, and healthy this year!
    Have a great week,
    Bren

    Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins (also known as Tony Robbins)

    The Life Coach School Podcast Episode 197: Urges
    The Life Coach School Podcast Episode 129: Weight Loss and Overeating Tools Part 1
    The Life Coach School Podcast Episode 131: Weight Loss and Overeating Tools Part 2

  • A Little Advice…Or Not!
    Glennon Doyle Melton

    My latest experiment is with woodcutting. I’ve always loved woodcuts but never tried one myself. I designed this as a repeating pattern at a size suitable for homewares and interiors. The finished piece will appear in my next post.


    Irecently listened to the audio version of Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. My favourite excerpt is this small piece about advice. It stands out to me because I know that I need to be more mindful in this area with my friends and family. I think Glennon makes a point beautifully and succinctly about what people really need:

    “I don’t believe in advice. Everybody has the answers right inside her since we are all made up of the same amount of God. So when a friend says, “I need some advice”, I switch it to, “I need some love”, and I try to offer that. Offering love usually looks like being quiet, listening hard, and letting my friend talk until she discovers that she already has the answers. Since I don’t offer advice Craig and I find it funny that people ask me for it every single day. Craig once asked what I make of that and I told him that I think friends ask me for advice because they know I won’t offer any. People need a safe place and some time to discover what they already know, so I just try to hold space and time for folks.”

    Glennon Doyle Melton

    I know I have a tendency to offer advice, but I think Glennon is absolutely right. In our hearts I think we do know the answer, and we just need the place and space to connect with it. What do you think? I welcome your feedback.
    Have a good weekend,
    Bren X

    Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. At the time of writing this does not appear to be available through Audible. I listened to it via the Auckland Library on the Overdrive app.

    Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.
    If you are interested in reading more of Glennon’s writing, she is famous for her blog Momastery and has recently released a memoir called Love Warrior.

    This will form the backdrop of my design, but this is not repeating. I will show the completed piece in my next post.

  • Eagle Vision, Mouse Vision
    Keeping on Track to Your Goals: Martha Beck

    A few weeks ago I began listening to, and working through, Martha Beck’s ‘Follow Your North Star‘ via Audible. This audio feels to me like an important discovery. Martha Beck gently guides the listener towards living a life that brings more joy by tuning them in to their own wisdom and intuition. The author delivers the material herself and it allows a wonderfully personal touch – just like having your own life coach on call!

    This week I dug out a pattern of mine from a few years ago and recoloured it. I am about to start working with lino and woodblocks and am feeling very inspired by Japanese-style design once again.

    In ‘Follow Your North Star‘ Martha Beck teaches simple techniques to guide you towards your ‘right life’. She teaches how to access what she describes as the compasses within your mind, body, and spirit that are always turning you towards the life you are meant to have. She details distinct phases of change you will go through, how to gently manoeuvre through the obstacles, and she offers tools to check you are on track. There is much valuable material in ‘Follow Your North Star‘, but my favourite take-home tool is Eagle Vision, Mouse Vision. It’s purpose is to ensure you are on course towards your desired life and goals:

    Eagle Vision, Mouse Vision

    From Follow Your North Star by Martha Beck:

    The eagle is an animal that rises high above the earth and can see things at a great distance, so eagle vision is the ability to look far into the future, far away from the present. A mouse is an animal that can’t see very far but is very sensitive and good at picking up detail about what’s right in front of its nose, so mouse vision is where you look at what’s directly in front of you.

    Go into an eagle vision mode; picture yourself rising up above your life and seeing everything with perfect clarity from a long way up. Answer these two questions:

    • How do you want the world to be different because you have lived? (Nothing can be too small or too big, but something must have changed)
    • How do you want to be different because you have lived in this world; in other words, what experiences do you need to have to feel like you’ve been on all the rides you came for?

    Martha suggests you go back to the eagle questions frequently because you will get different answers on different days, but if you do the questions consistently she says you will find that common elements arise over and over again.
    Now picture yourself dropping from an eagle perspective down to a mouse perspective. A mouse looks at what is right in front of it, so look around you. Where are you? What are you doing?
    Ask yourself :

    • Is this task in front of me moving me in the direction that my eagle vision wants to go?

    Do this several times a day to check that your mouse is headed in the same direction as the eagle.

    Rambling Flower Burnt Orange by Bren Michelle. Licensing options are available; please contact me for more information.

    If you are already very clear about where you want your life to go, and what your goals are, then simply checking your mouse vision several times in a day is so quick and effortless, yet could yield some valuable results. There couldn’t be an easier way of keeping on course! And if you are not yet clear, then the Eagle questions can guide you towards the things that your heart truly desires. I really hope you’ll check out ‘Follow Your North Star‘ by Martha Beck. You never know -it might just change your life!
    Have a great week.
    Bren

    Follow Your North Star by Martha Beck, Available on Audible

  • The Work of Byron Katie:
    An Extraordinary Tool for Wellbeing

    Ihave recently become fascinated by the work of Byron Katie and I am excited to share it here because I think it is the most powerful tool I have discovered to date. I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s take on it below:

    “Byron Katie has rocked my world and shaken loose my mind more thoroughly than any other spiritual teacher I’ve ever encountered, living or dead.” —Elizabeth Gilbert

    I created this pattern as an experiment in Procreate (iPad app). I found the recolouring options frustrating so I then took it to Illustrator. I’ve not given up on Procreate though – more practice necessary!

    Byron Katie (or Katie as many call her) has an intriguing story. Following almost a decade of severe depression, self-loathing and suicidal thoughts, she suddenly woke up one day and saw things differently – or in her words, “woke up to reality.’ She realised that what had been causing her depression was not the world around her, but the beliefs she’d had about the world. It was an epiphany that was to change her life forever and has seen her go on to helps millions of people.

    I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that.

    Byron Katie

    The following excerpts from Katie’s audio book ‘Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life’ explain how Katie’s process of inquiry she calls ‘The Work’ can help radically shift your perspective, setting you free from suffering:

    Suffering is optional. Whenever we experience a stressful feeling, anything from mild discomfort to intense sorrow, rage or despair, we can be certain that there is a specific thought causing our reaction, whether or not we are conscious of it. The way to end our stress is to investigate the thinking that lies behind it, and anyone can do this by himself with a piece of paper and a pen. Through ‘The Work’ – Katie also calls it ‘Inquiry’ – we discover that all the concepts and judgments we believe, or take for granted, are distortions of things as they really are. When we believe our thoughts, instead of what is really true for us, we experience the kinds of emotional distress we call suffering. Suffering is a natural alarm warning us that we are attaching to a thought. When we don’t listen, we come to accept this suffering as an inevitable part of life. It’s not.

    Fill out the Judge Your Neighbour Worksheet (which you can download on thework.com)
    Write down your thoughts about someone who upsets you – a situation past or present that feels unresolved in your life. (Katie suggests that if you new to inquiry don’t start with yourself. It is easier to do our judgements of others.)

    Ask:
    1. Is it true?
    2. Can you absolutely know that it is true? (Invites people to inquire more deeply.)
    3. How do react when you think that thought?
    4. Who would you be without this thought?
    5. The Turnaround: This is a chance to experience alternatives to the original statement that may be as true or truer.

    Notice when your thoughts argue with reality. The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with ‘what is’. When the mind is perfectly clear ‘what is’ is what we want. If you want reality to be different to what it is you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try and in the end the cat will look up at you and say meow. You can spend the rest of your life trying to make a cat bark, and yet if you pay attention you’ll notice that you think thoughts like that dozens of times a day: – people should be kinder – the queue at the supermarket should be shorter – my husband should agree with me – I should be fatter, thinner, more successful. When you argue with reality you lose 100% of the time.
    The work reveals that what you think shouldn’t have happened should have happened. It should have happened because it did. No thinking in the world can change it. This doesn’t mean that you condone it or approve of it. It just means that you can see things without resistance or the confusion of your inner struggle.


    Judge your neighbour.
    Write it down.
    Ask four questions.
    Turn it around.


    The power in this process cannot be denied if you hear it in action on ‘Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life’ (available on Audible). I think that to really make this process work for you it is necessary to dedicate a significant amount of time to listen to (or read) Katie’s material. I have found that the more books of hers I read the easier it is to understand Katie’s way of looking at the world and how it can be applied to my own. It is time very well spent in my opinion.

    If you want reality to be different to what it is you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try and in the end the cat will look up at you and say meow. When you argue with reality you lose 100% of the time.

    You can learn more about Byron Katie and ‘The Work’ at her website thework.com. There are free resources and videos on her site, and there is a large selection of books available on Audible. I think audio is a great way to be introduced to this process, as much of the content in Katie’s books is dialogue. I suggest starting with ‘Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life‘ and ‘Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life‘ The latter really does offer a lot of insight by letting us hear the process as it is applied to people’s real-life situations. Some of the stories are heartbreaking and yet she is able to help them see through the pain to another perspective. I found it truly compelling and inspirational.
    I hope you find ‘The Work’ as exciting and as helpful as I do. Have a great week,
    Bren X

    Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life
    Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

  • Steve Pavlina’s Answer to Scarcity – How to Turn Things Around Financially

    When I heard Steve Pavlina’s podcast ‘Overcoming Scarity’ I knew I had to share it here. I’ll make a summary of the critical points below, but you’ll get so much more from listening to the actual podcast episode – you’ll hear evidence of how a counter-intuitive approach to scarcity absolutely turned Steve’s life around.

    This week I had so much fun trying out some photography. I combined a photo I took of a philodendron leaf with some of my printmaking textures. I worked on it in the Procreate app on the iPad and completed it in Photoshop.


    When you are broke or struggling financially, the natural temptation is to focus on your own needs, thinking that you have to get something going for yourself before you can contribute. Instead, Steve says, the answer is to focus on enjoying life more and especially to contributing more.

    Neediness and lack are very uninspiring to people. People won’t naturally want to help you or to make a contribution to your life, but when you reach outside of that and contribute to other people’s lives it makes a huge difference.

    Steve believes it’s much better, mindset-wise, to focus on making a contribution for/to other people and the reason it works is that it invites all sorts of help into your life. He goes on to explain that neediness and lack are very uninspiring to people. People won’t naturally want to help you or to make a contribution to your life, but when you reach outside of that and contribute to other people’s lives it makes a huge difference.
    A massive positive flow came into Steve’s life when he adopted a contributor mindset, and from that came abundance. His advice: “If you are in that mindset right now – that mindset of neediness and focusing too much on trying to get for yourself because you think you’ve got to crawl your way out of this pit – realise that mindset is what’s keeping you in the pit. Realise that is the trap itself, and if you stay in that trap it’s not going to get any better. Maybe it’s time to branch out and find some small way to help other people.”

    Steve Pavlina Podcast Episode 19 Overcoming Scarcity on iTunes
    Or listen to it via video on his site.
    www.stevepavlina.com

  • A Quote to Remember in Every Situation
    Charles R. Swindoll

    Attitude is everything! Today I would like to share another wonderful quote, one that can be applied to absolutely every situation. Scroll down to read…

    This is my second lino-cut experiment. It really is a lot harder than I expected. There were a couple of areas where my hand slipped and I accidentally cut out pieces I wanted to keep. Shhh, don’t tell but I might have, well…photoshopped them back in. Linocutting is not a medium for perfectionists!


    Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.

    Charles R. Swindoll


    Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
    “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

  • Daring Greatly:
    Brene Brown & Theodore Roosevelt

    Most people will be familiar with the work of researcher-storyteller Brene Brown. If I had to name one person whose ideas I most admire and wish to integrate into my everyday life it is Brene’s. Why? Because her ideas come from years of research – thousands upon thousands of pieces of data. She’s also extremely likable, very funny, down to earth, and her findings just make so much sense to me.

    My featured creation this week is a pattern I put together in Photoshop using three separate linocut prints I made recently (see previous post).

    Through reading Brene Brown’s excellent book Daring Greatly I was introduced to a wonderful passage from a speech by Theodore Roosevelt called “Citizenship in a Republic”, sometimes also referred to as “The Man in the Arena”. It evokes powerful imagery and has an inspiring message. I think it’s also a great follow-on from the last post – supporting the idea that it’s the showing up that counts, not the result. Here is the famous passage:

    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 best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly….

    Theodore Roosevelt


    A lot of Brene’s work examines vulnerability. She took a lot of inspiration from the passage above and teaches that we must dare to show up and let ourselves been seen. Her TED talks are among the most watched, and I guarantee it’s time well spent. If you haven’t already seen them I hope you will enjoy them now. Scroll down to find the famous talks.
    Have a good week everyone,
    Bren xxx

    The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown. This is a Sounds True Recording available on Audible.

    The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly and Rising Strong – all excellent books by Brene Brown,

    Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

    Brene Brown: Listening to Shame

  • Measure Yourself on Your Effort:
    Brooke Castillo & Stephen Cope

    Istarted this blog and immediately life got busy again. I didn’t get past the first post! It hurts to abandon it though, so I am going to try to find the time going forward even if, at times, the text and visuals will be brief or simple. For today’s post I want to share some ideas that I heard on Brooke Castillo’s brilliant podcast The Life Coach Schoolit is what inspired me to rejuvenate this project.

    The card pictured is one of my first attempts at lino-cutting. It was more challenging than I expected to control the cutter but I loved getting away from the computer and getting my hands on real art equipment.

    In Episode 80 Brooke Castillo discusses the lessons she has learned from Stephen Cope – author of The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling. She says – and she is referring to Stephen and his teachings here:

    “The point of the work of your life is not what you accomplish. It’s not the body of work. It’s not how many people you touch. It’s not the books you write or the product you create. It is the effort that you put into it that matters. It’s the work, it’s the showing up that matters…
    He taught me to measure myself based on my effort, not my struggle, not my resistance, not my angst but my effort, my genuine effort.”


    Brooke claims that the teaching enabled her to shift her focus from what it is she is creating to the effort she is bringing forth to the creative process. In The Great Work of Your Life Stephen teaches that people feel most happy and fulfilled while meeting the challenge of their work or goals, not on completion of them. Courageous action should be measured, not the result.

    Courageous action should be measured, not the result.

    He quotes Krishna ” Success or failure are not your concern… Your task is only to bring as much life force as you can muster to the execution of your dharma”.
    I find this teaching enormously liberating, and a powerful value to teach my children. Removing the pressure to succeed, and the anxiety of possible failure, certainly brings more enjoyment to the creative process. It probably improves the likelihood of success too – the creative juices can flow uninhibited and the added pleasure in the process may fuel a greater commitment. For children it must be hugely reassuring to believe that it is not important how good they are at something so long as they make an honest effort. The way I see it is that sometimes the effort required is our very best, and at other times that will be pushing beyond our fear to try something or to simply show up.
    There are sooooo many gems within Brooke’s Lessons from Stephen Cope podcast, so check out the full episode over at The Life Coach School. The transcript is also available for download.I hope you enjoy.
    Bren xxx

     The Life Coach School Episode 80 Lessons from Stephen Cope by Brooke Castillo

    The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling by Stephen Cope (I haven’t read this but this is the book that Brooke references in her podcast.)

  • Seek Out What Magnifies Your Spirit

    Hello and welcome to my new blog!
    Hi, my name is Bren and I create design under the name Bren Michelle. I’ve had a big break from creating while focusing on my young family, but now it is time to get back to it! ‘Inspired’ is a project I’ve initiated to keep myself learning, creating, and growing – as an artist and as a person. It’s a commitment I’ve made to live more mindfully and meaningfully. It’s a way to keep interesting snippets I’ve found in one place for reference, and to share them with friends or anyone who may enjoy them. Most importantly though it’s my way of getting inspired; I hope you will find something here to inspire you too. Posts will be sporadic no doubt, as life is busy and unpredictable, so please follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Bloglovin for notification of updates. So, here goes…

    Blackbird by Bren Michelle. Copyright Brenda Michelle Sutton 2016.

    Seek out what magnifies your spirit. Patti Smith, in discussing William Blake and her creative influences, talks about writers and artists who magnified her spirit — it’s a beautiful phrase and a beautiful notion. Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often. Use them not only as a remedy once spiritual malaise has already infected your vitality but as a vaccine administered while you are healthy to protect your radiance

    Maria Popova (Brain Pickings)

    Maria Popova has created one helluva good blog over at Brain Pickings. I recently rediscovered it and wondered how such an incredible resource managed to slip out of my consciousness for so many years. But what a beautiful reunion, and it is there to dive into whenever time presents itself. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!
    The excerpt above was taken from a post detailing Maria’s greatest ten learnings from ten years of Brain Pickings. It’s a must-read in my opinion and as a bonus Maria links to the things she most loved reading and writing about in her first decade of Brain Pickings. Brain Pickings was included in the Library of Congress’ permanent web archive in 2012, so, it’s safe to say I’m not the only one who thinks the site is something special. I can guarantee you’ll find something of interest in the ten years of Brain Pickings post. Enjoy!
    Bren XXX