Meryl Streep’s Golden Globe award speech attracted a lot of attention for the clear message from it. I’m not going to linger on that, but rather her departing comment that caught my attention: “Take your broken heart and make it into art.”
Art can be anything, from the more traditional: Fine arts, acting, dancing….the creative kind; food and creating food is art; creating pictures, whether through photographs or other creative methods; designing; writing is art. And to the less traditional: gardening; building etc. But all is a form of art. We don’t even realise that we’re doing it every day. Communication is an art for that matter. (I am not going to start on the modern society’s loss of THIS art.)
We experience so many things in our lives. Each experience adds to our life on all different levels. Learnings, opportunities, day to day experiences, laughing, tears….and so many others. These all finds its space in our brain. How we ‘file’ it in our brain depends on how it affected us. Whether it was a mere something that happened or something that shook you to the core; those big life experiences .
Some of those experiences imprint themselves in a more profound way in our mind, either lingering there constantly or being triggered by a situation. All those experiences can be applied in so many parts of our life, including our art form. My best creations have happened when I’ve been either at my saddest or at my happiest. The challenge however is to find that ‘key’, the ability to unlock that file of experience when you create. Anyone working in the daily creative environment will tell you that you can’t always wait for inspiration. Creative projects also have deadlines. It’s the nature of the world we live in.
Finding that key to unlock the moments for the inspiration, will be different for everyone. The thing we can’t ignore is that when you ‘access those files’, it can take your work to a next level. You actively have to train yourself to get to the key. Let’s call the following my ‘training programme’.
Here are a couple of things I believe in and try (take note of this word) to practice every day. It’s not always that easy.
- Be more mindful: “Paying attention; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”, is what John Kabat-Zinn sums mindful up as. In short don’t live on autopilot, see what happens around you, experience things as you do it. Don’t let the monotony drag you down, there is something in each moment. Literally wake up and smell the coffee.
- Notebook and pen: That’s the way I roll. There’s always one with me, whether I write something down that someone said, something visual I noticed, a feeling or simply drawing something that you felt like drawing when you wait for someone. Leave that cell phone, get off social media and rather grab your book when you wait for someone. But DON’T use this notebook for your to do list. Make it yours to only add things that made an impact on you at that moment. Your: in the moment book or being or creative book….call it what you want.
- Exercise: As much as we might hate it, being active is crucial in all aspects. Almost every programme of some sort, whether it’s to success or productiveness, all of them talk about exercise. You don’t have to become a gym bunny. Just take a walk in the morning or even something as fun as playing hand tennis against the wall. But move, that’s what it’s about. And while you’re doing that, don’t think.
- Morning meditation: I prefer to call it, morning awareness time. Again this be different things to different people. Whatever gives you the right start to the day, whether it’s reading your bible, praying, sitting on the grass under a tree and just taking in nature? Take in what you read, study it, even write it down in your In the moment book, but mostly simply become aware of the day, don’t engage with thoughts of the previous day or of what need to happen during the day. Simply be aware, thankful and humbled.
- Be uncomfortable: If only once a week. Yes you have to be positive; it stays crucial if you want to achieve something. However, we all have a little something uncomfortable that we need to face, whether it’s emotional or something that you just have to work through. Or even a simple horrible physical task you need to do. Come on do it! It will also give you a sense of achievement. And being a bit uncomfortable, always teaches you something.
- Finish the day in a sensible manner: It comes down to ending the day positively. Write down what the day did for you. Even if you are angry or sad at that point. But go back to what was good or what you learned and engage with that. (Guess what, if you’re more mindful, this will be a breeze.)
- Live lighter: I am not talking about dieting. Trust me. I love my chocolate and cheese like any other person. I’ve just found that living lighter in your eating habits also helps you to be lighter in your body and spirit. I will not go into the detail of energy, water, health, etc. We should know that. I am talking by simply eating a little bit lighter, fresher when you can. When the body is lighter, the mind is sharper…is what I’ve found.
Living lighter can be as easy as this cold soup. Grab the blender and a knife and you’ll have a quick light lunch. It also works as a fabulous clean starter or can be a very nice palate cleanser in a heavier meal (served small).
About the green tomatoes; it’s tomato time in the vegetable patch. And even though I eat tomatoes like apples, it just becomes way too many to consume. Therefore I’ve been using some of the green tomatoes (also to ‘thin’ out) the plants a bit. You can simply leave it out, but adjust your seasoning – especially on the sugar – as it’s a tart flavour that you add to the cucumber.
Cold cucumber and green tomato soup
½ onion, roughly chopped
2 large cucumbers, skins on, roughly chopped
2 green tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup plain yoghurt & 1 T for topping
2 T Olive oil
¼ cup Vinegar or to taste
250 ml water
Salt – to taste
Black pepper – to taste
Sugar – if you’re using green tomatoes, add this to taste
Fresh chives, minced for topping
Simply place all the vegetables, yoghurt and the water in a blender. For a richer cold soup a very clear natural stock can be added. But I kept it clean. No meat here.
Now add the salt, pepper and sugar if needed and adjust your seasoning. Get it into the fridge to cool down. You can also add a block of ice or two to cool it down more.
Serve topped with a couple of drops of yoghurt and chives.
Note: If you just need a little bit more ‘body’ to your cold soup, you can turn it into a gazpacho by soaking 1/3 cup of bread in about 1 ½ cups of water. Squeeze out the excess water and add that to your vegetable ingredients when you put it in the blender. Adjust the fluids as required.