To view more of Sophia's art go to or

to purchase prints and cards of her artwork go to

If you see an artwork on this website that you like but it's already sold - please contact Sophia as she does commissions.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Good advice - the frog story

I have received this before - but a very long time ago. It's something that is so true and that we need reminding of from time to time.

Once upon a time there was a bunch of tiny frogs..... who arranged a running competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants....

The race began....

Honestly, No one in the crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. You heard statements such as, "Oh, WAY too difficult!!" "They will NEVER make it to the top." or, "Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!"

The tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one....Except for those, who in a fresh tempo, were climbing higher and higher....The crowd continued to yell, "It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!" More tiny frogs got tired and gave up....But ONE continued higher and higher and higher.... This one wouldn't give up!

At the end everyone else had given up climbing the tower. Except for the one tiny frog who, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top!

THEN all of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it?
A contestant asked the tiny frog how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal? It turned out.... That the winner was DEAF!!!!

The wisdom of this story is: Never listen to other people's tendencies to be negative or pessimistic.... because they take your most wonderful dreams and wishes away from you -- the ones you have in your heart! Always think of the power words have. Because everything you hear and read will affect your actions!

Therefore: ALWAYS be....POSITIVE!

And above all: Be DEAF when people tell YOU that you cannot fulfill your dreams!

Always think: I can do this!

Friday, May 30, 2008


For my birthday two of my friends (who are both artists) gave me gifts that symbolised strength. One is the painting below - the other is this most beautiful book mark made of metal with stained glass wings.
My friend Melissa Muirhead (who gave me this) told me that dragonflies are said to be the symbol of renewal after a time of hardship in native American beliefs. In Japan they are symbols of courage, strength and happiness.
Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it. -Rabindranath Tagore

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Title: Strength

Artist: Tineswari Maruthamuthu (this was a birthday gift from a talented artist friend of mine)

My Great Aunt passed away last night - strength is a word I would use to describe her - she raised 5 children by herself mostly during hard years and then she defied all odds living as long as she did after major heart surgery nearly 20years ago. She was a very spiritual lady too and well loved by all her family and friends. She gave a lot and was passionate about animal rights and theosophy. May she rest in peace.

“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak” Thomas Carlyle

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Art and Happiness - Robert Genn

Title: You haven't Seen the Light (til you've seen the dark) - quote by IKSR
Size: Diptych
Media: Modelling paste and acrylic on canvas
SOLD (2006)

I've subscribed to Robert Genn's twice weekly letters form

Today I received this one that I wanted to share ....

In the recently published "Against Happiness," popular writer Eric Wilson disparages our current love affair with putting on a happy face. With our "feel good" culture and the widespread use of happy drugs, everybody's trying to be cheerful and there are no decent dollops of melancholy and sadness, he says. When this happens, art becomes bland, unchallenging and redundant. Dr. Thomas Svolos of the department of Psychiatry at Creighton University School of Medicine thinks Wilson is right. "When you're melancholy, you tend to step back and examine your life," he says. "That kind of questioning is essential for creativity."

What these guys are talking about is a redefinition of happiness, and I think they're onto something. Life's not about getting free of pain, but rather finding happiness through service to some process with links to a higher ideal. A state of thoughtful melancholy and sensitivity breeds an elevated creativity and a more profound happiness. Here are a few of my own keys:

Work alone and be your own motivator.

Take time for private wandering and nature's gifts.
Dig around and explore purposefully.
Serve others as well as your own passions.
Look for potential in all things and all beings.
Face life's deeper meanings squarely and truthfully.
Move through thoughtful understanding to pervasive action.
Know you are partner in a great brotherhood and sisterhood.
Accept sadness as part of the human condition.
Know that in the big picture you are not important, but what you make and do is.

Currently, 11 percent of American women and 5 percent of American men take antidepressants, the magazine Scientific American reported in February. A high percentage are prescribed ad hoc by family doctors, without benefit of thorough analysis. Does anyone prescribe a host of golden daffodils, a mountain stream, or a robin's nest on which to contemplate? Perhaps it's too "do it yourself" and non-profit to be considered. But it seems to me that's where happiness lies and dreams are made. Just try painting that nest. It's a spiritual act, loaded with joy. "The world," said Robert Louis Stevenson, "is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings."

Best regards,


PS: "The overemphasis of drugs is a knee-jerk reaction that's thrown our whole concept of happiness out of whack. Happiness is now seen as a lack of suffering as opposed to accomplishing important societal goals, like creating art." (Thomas Svolos)

Esoterica: Much has been made of the connection between full blown clinical depression and creativity. We have Beethoven, van Gogh, Georgia O'Keeffe, Sylvia Plath, and so many others. Their cases are the extremes and have not much to do with the normal healthy understanding of the mystery of our existence and the daily trials of life. Garden variety melancholics also carry the torch of happiness.

Monday, May 26, 2008

In times of loss ....

I wasn't happy with the outcome of my second piece for the collaborative project. I kept reworking it and trying different styles but nothing worked. Yesterday morning I was back to the drawing board and trying again - my mind was occupied with thoughts of my Nana who had passed away on Wednesday. I suddenly had a flash of inspiration and this piece is inspired by her - for her ....
My Nana was an artist too - she started later in life and painted watercolours - still lifes' and florals'. She regularly attended painting classes and it gave her immense joy.

Today is her funeral. How do you ever pay homage to a person that has touched your life in so many ways - who you loved completely - and who loved you unconditionally ....

My Nana had a huge capacity for unconditional love. Everyone was welcomed into her home and heart. She was considerate of others and thought of their needs. She gave her time freely and even with a huge extended family always made time for one on one with each of us. She was generous and thoughtful - she loved to give. Nana was gracious and appreciative and one of her favourite sayings was "you really shouldn't have". She didn't want anyone making a fuss of her or to be a bother or imposition. She loved life and had a willingness to go anywhere, do anything at anytime. Nana always kept up with what was happening in everyones' lives - she was without doubt the heart of the family. To sum her up in a few words and do her justice is impossible - but I would say that Nana had a huge capacity for giving - giving time, energy and love - we will miss her enormously.

One thing I'm grateful for is that I before she passed I told her once again that I loved her - and thanked her for all that she brought into my life - and the love she gave us. Sometimes it can be hard to tell people how much they mean to us when they are alive - and to express gratitude for all they have given to us .... and how much we love them. Do it now - when it matters - don't wait til their funeral to tell them.
In times of loss my spirituality is what brings me comfort and what enables me to rejoice in the persons life as opposed to mourning that they are gone. Of course there is always sadness with loss ... that is inevitable ...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wahine Ataahua - by Tony Reihana Brown

A couple of days ago my artist friend, Tony Reihana Brown, texted me to tell me he was doing a painting for me (and that he wanted to swap an artwork with me). I was totally blown away - Not only was I humbled by the fact he wanted one of my artworks but I felt truly honoured to receive one of Tony's artworks.

Tony is an amazing artist! - he completed his BVA (Bachelor of Visual Arts) a few years ago - has a studio at Corban's Estate Art Centre and this year he was a finalist in the NZAG Art Awards (which is how we met)
I had the privilege of visiting him at his studio a couple of weeks ago and just marveled at his amazing collection of artworks. Tony is a very humble artist and doesn't see anything different in what he does - but he has a very different style from any other artist I've seen and his art really moves you on a deeper level.
Tony came round yesterday and gave me my painting - OMG!! I was totally blown away - had to try hard not to cry - just a stunning piece and the photographs I've taken just don't do it justice.

Tony paints on boxed board and often carves into the wood. This time he carved the Maori words - "Wahine Ataahua" - which translates to - "Woman of Beauty" - Wahine means woman and Ataahua means beautiful.

On the back I have my own personal message and a little portrait of me that he did from my photo off this website .....

Thank you Tony for your friendship and help with the latest collaborative artwork for the NZ Art Guild. Thank you for your generous, kind heart and for one of the most touching, wonderful gifts I have ever received in my life.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

How do we define our "best day" ....

Title: Mountains (2004)
Media: Mixed Media and Acrylic painting on canvas

My son and I had a lovely converstaion tonight when I tucked him into bed ....
Son -"I'm not going to smile tonight mum"
Me (concerned that there was something wrong) - "Why's that?"
Son - "My face is soooo sore from smiling all day. This has been the best day in my whole life"
Me (rather surprised ) "That's great to hear. Why was it your best day? "
Son - "It has to be the best day ever because I smiled all day. I smiled so much my face hurts and I just can't smile anymore. But don't worry I'll smile again tomorrow"

I think the most surprising thing (for me) about today was just the normalacy of it - visited friends, had friends over, sang singstar, ate dinner, watched the movie Grease. Nothing unique - nothing especially exciting - quite simple really - but for some reason my little man smiled all day long and will remember it as one of his best days.

How focussed are we on achieving something, receiving something, doing something different in order to make it one of our best days? How many of us describe our best day as one where we simply smiled all day?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Another 20 ways to show children you care

Title: Anyway (2004)
Media: Acrylic (on 4 separate canvases)

1. Help them learn the feeling of gratitude, not just to say thank you.
2. Give them space when they need it.
3. Praise more, criticize less.
4. Know that a child experiencing love will express love. A child who does not act loving needs to experience more love and feel more loved. Until then, behavior changes you attempt may not be sustainable.
5. Help them discover what has meaning and purpose and feels good to them.
6. Keep the promises you make. If you do not keep your word, acknowledge that. Help them understand the circumstances or choices that precipitated the change in your plans. They will notice if keeping your word becomes a pattern
7. Answer their questions.
8. If you do not like their friends, teach them the qualities to look for in friends.
9. Go to their games and events; get to know their teachers and coaches.
10. Be consistent.
11. Let them tell you how they feel. Help them learn what their feelings are and how to express them.
12. Give them lots of compliments…and mean it. If you do not/cannot compliment them, examine why.
13. Suggest better behaviors when they act out. Teach first. Reward often. Be understanding. Punish last.
14. When they withdraw, offer love instead of demands or threats.
15. Nurture them with good food, prepare their favorite meals, and help them make wise nutritional choices.
16. Teach them to be responsible according to their own developmental age; avoid using them to do tasks that are your responsibility.
17. When you notice behavioral changes, be especially available so they can talk about what is going on.
18. Be understanding when they have a difficult day.
19. Teach them to be on time and to keep their word and their commitments – and model that for them.
20. Love them no matter what -- and especially affirm your love when you are feeling angry. If you are feeling love for them at the time you express anger, your anger is safe. Otherwise, they experience anger as having the power to displace love. Then they will learn to fear anger -- yours and their own -- and potentially develop the pattern of suppressing anger, which in sufficient accumulation, can turn into rage.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ways to show children you love them

So many children are neglected/abused in some way in our society - and NZ has one of the highest suicide rates in NZ - we all need to work together to raise the children in our community - its doesnt matter if they are your own - your nieces/nephews - your neighbours - your colleagues .... we all need to work together to give "our" children the best possible life they can have - and a future bright with possibilities ..... they are innocent beings born into this world - into their lives and we have an obligation to ensure that they are loved and cared for and can be the best they can be ....

22 ways to show children you care
1. Say the word “love” a lot.
2. Be careful not to criticize; simply tell them a better way.
3. If you withdraw your attention, avoid withdrawing your love.
4. Teach the principles of “why,” not just “what” to do or not to do.
5. Discipline with love, especially if you are angry. If you “punish” or “take away,” follow up with love.
6. Remember that children often reflect what they have or have not been taught.
7. Teach them to trust the truth by experiencing you as a role model of the truth and a model of loving them for telling the truth.
8. Be patient, not just tolerant.
9. Ask them what they need from you – and do whatever you can to meet those needs.
10. When you are stressed and unavailable, help them know that your condition is about your life, not them, and reaffirm your love.
11. Remember that children often need love the most when they “deserve” it the least.
12. Listen to them, a lot. Avoid interrupting. Give them your undivided attention.
13. Help them learn the feeling of regret, not just to say they are sorry.
14. Apologize when you make a mistake or do something you regret.
15. Teach them about ethics and values and principles they can apply in choices and decision-making.
16. Never make fun of them, shame them or blame them. It’s not their “fault.” It’s an indication of what they need, or what they need to learn, or what they need to unlearn.
17. Tell them how much you like being with them, if you mean it. If you don’t, examine what about the relationship dynamics – at that moment or in general – affects your not feeling that way. Then find a way to change that from within yourself.
18. Expect and support their best; don’t expect or require perfection. Praise their efforts; avoid judging them.
19. Avoid comparing them to anyone else; instead, help them develop their unique self and way of being.
20. Know that they will respect what you say if they respect who you are.
21. Encourage them to share, and teach them to share, but don’t make them share. If they feel enough love in their life they will be able to share; if they cannot share, it means they need to feel more love.
22. Hug and touch them often when they are young. When they are older, instead of saying, “Give me a hug,” say, “I would like a hug, would you?” Let hugging be their choice.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sorrow - the downside of Joy

In times of sorrow - remember that you would not be able to experience sorrow if you had never expereinced joy. Be thankful for the pain/sorrow - for it means that you have been blessed wtih joy /happiness at other times. Remember just as day follows night - joy will follow sorrow.

You need sadness to know happiness, sorrow to know joy, pain to know pleasure ... Respect these feelings - don't fight them - remember even the feelings we think are negative that we are experiencing have something positive that we can learn from ...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Reach Out" - NZ Art Guild Collaborative Project 2008

Each year the NZ Art Guild members create an amazing collaborative project artwork made up of many individual artworks. The pieces for these projects are sent out to members of the NZ Art Guild who want to participate. They are given basic instructions and a theme to paint to - they have no idea what the overall finished artwork will look like. These pieces are then returned and compiled into one huge artwork which is exhibited at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland during the Annual Members Exhibition. Towards the end of the exhibition this piece is then auctioned off on Trademe.

This is the first one which was created in 2006 for the Annual Members Exhibition - "Straight From the Heart". This piece was called "Fusion" and 49 members contributed to it. They were painted on individual canvases and the artwork measure 1.4m x 1.4m when finished. It was auctioned off on Trademe and sold for $8350

The second one involved 66 members in 2007 and was called "Patchworks". It was exhibited at the Annual Members Exhibition called "Off the Brush" The theme for this artwork was Soul. It was 1.5m x 1.5m and created as a wallhanging. This was successfully auctioned off on Trademe for $3310

This year 88 members contribute to "Reach Out" which will be unveiled on July 1st at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna at the Annual members exhibition "Make it Memorable" The theme of this artwork is "On your mind" and 20% of the sale proceeds are going to be donated to a charity. It's aprox 1.3m x 1.5m

?????????? NO IMAGE YET ???????????

Ok - don't ask - but somehow I ended up with two pieces to paint for this fantastic artwork

The first piece I posted on my blog some time ago - this is my second piece that I just finished tonight - the base colours are already painted - and the lines have to be kept - so was a tricky piece ..... opted for mixed media abstract

Continuing from yesterday

One of my best friends, who has just started reading my blog, sent this quote to me after reading yesterdays post ....

People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choicest words lose their power when they are used to overpower. Attitudes are the real figures of speech. -Edwin H. Friedman

Monday, May 19, 2008

Giving advice - give and let go

Title: Chill (2004)
Media: Acrylic

"The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not and never persist in trying to set people right." - Hannah Whitall Smith

When people ask us for advice we often become personally invested in the advice that we give them. We feel so sure of our rightness that we have to make sure that the other person accepts it. Deep inside us their acceptance of our advice is attached to our self worth. If they don't accept and act on our advice then we perceive that to mean that we are disrespected, devalued, not liked etc. What is far better to do is to give advice - then let it go.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

52 ways to show people you care

1. Notice them.
2. Smile at them.
3. Encourage them to think big.
4. Look them in the eye when you talk to them.
5. Ask them about themselves.
6. Let them tell you how they feel.
7. Listen to their stories.
8. Call them on the phone just to say hi.
9. Answer their questions.
10. Ask them their opinions.

11. Give them your undivided attention.
12. Believe what they say.
13. Tell them what you like about them.
14. Delight in their discoveries.
15. Listen to their favorite music with them.
16. Tolerate their interruptions.
17. Suggest better behaviors when they act up or act out.
18. Show up at their games, concerts, and special events.
19. Tell them how much you like being with them.

20. Tell them about yourself.
21. Help them take a stand, then stand with them.
22. Ask them to help you with something.
23. Keep the promises you make to them.
24. Tell them how proud you are of them.
25. Send them a letter, postcard, or e-mail.
26. Introduce them to your friends and family.
27. Make time to be with them.
28. Be excited when you see them.
29. Notice when they grow.
30. Remember their birthdays.

31. Believe in them.
32. Meet their friends and family.
33. Include them in conversations.
34. Laugh at their jokes.
35. Do things together.
36. Respect them.
37. Find a common interest.
38. Do what they like to do.
39. Applaud their success.
40. Contribute to their collections.
41. Read aloud together.

42. Accept them as they are.
43. Share a meal together.
44. Go places together.
45. Build something together.
46. Make decisions together.
47. Help them learn something new.
48. Be honest with them.
49. Encourage them to help others.
50. Let them make mistakes.
51. Admit when you make a mistake.
52. Be nice to them.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Thought of the Day

Title: Resurrection (2006)
Media: Acrylic and Resin

The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual -- for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost. -M. Scott Peck

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Seven Habits of Highly Successful People

Title: Autumn (2004)
Media: Acrylic

One of the "Seven Habits of Highly Successful People" that Stephen R. Covey talks about in his book is -

"First seek to understand before being understood"
This is about learning to listen empathetically in order to enhance communication.
If we all stopped for a minute - took the time to listen to the other person and make an open minded effort to really understand them, before we try and get them to understand us it would make a huge difference to all our communications.

When people are listening they are often just waiting with the intent of replying - they already know what they are wanting to say regardless of what the other person is saying to them. There are different levels of listening - ignoring, pretending to listen, selective listening, active listening and the highest form - empathetic listening.

Empathic listening is listening with intent to understand the other person's frame of reference and feelings. You must listen with your ears, your eyes and your heart. One of the greatest needs people have is to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated and to be appreciated.

Empathetic listening is about mimicking the content of the conversation , rephrasing it, repeating it back to them to check that you understand what the person is saying and how they are feeling, - remaining open minded and non judgemental. The key is genuinely focusing on the welfare of the individual to whom you are listening.
Once you have done this - then is the time to seek to be understood. The sequence for effective communication is to firstly have personal credibility then empathy and lastly logic. When you present your own ideas clearly, specifically, visually and in the context of a deep understanding of their concerns - you significantly increase the creditability of your ideas.

When we really deeply understand each other, we open the door to creative solutions and alternatives. Our differences are no longer stumbling blocks to communication and progress. Instead they become the stepping stones to synergy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You are a team - remember it and celebrate it

Title: Sealed with a Kiss (2006)
Media: Mixed Media and Acrylic on canvas

One of the most important things to remember in any relationship - but especially in our romantic ones is - not to response from the "got at place" when you have some kind of conflict. Its so easy for us to jump to our own defense - to become the aggressor - to close down the lines of communication - to feel got at by our nearest and dearest.
Remember you are both on the same side - you are together because you love and care for each other - the other person isn't raising an issue to try and get at you or cause problems in the relationship - they are raising it because they see it as an issue and want to resolve it to make the relationship better for both.
"During conflict, don't respond from the "got at place". Remember you are both on the same side, you both have a common goal"
How often have we heard or even witnessed how best friends make the worst enemies. This is because they know us like no one else. Don't use your deep knowledge of your partner/friend as a weapon when you are arguing. Use all you know about their friendship to move towards reconciliation.

FINALLY - Celebrate your team!
As I've said - remember you're a team - you're not enemies. Celebrate all the small ways you work together, acknowledge how far you've come, how well you have done, what you have achieved, instead of focusing on how far you have got to go.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

When communicating with your partner - give them information

Title: Windows of Emotions (2004)
Media: Acrylic on Canvas

"Without information our partner has no way to make improvements" - Toni Sciarra Poynter

How many of us expect our partner to know what's wrong - or what we want in a relationship - we mistakenly thing that if we have to tell them then they obviously don’t love us or understand us.

We are so wrong. The very fact that they DESIRE to know what is upsetting us - or what we want - that they want to completely know and understand us in every dimension - shows that they truly love us. It's not their ability to read our minds that proves they love us.

Sharing your body with your partner is a conscious act so should sharing your mind and heart.

Some great quotes from Toni Sciarra Poynter on this -

"The willingness to open up - rather than wait to be opened - is a hallmark of true intimacy. It is the kind of courage that love demands"

"You can't be understood as you've always longed to be with out being revealed as never before"

Monday, May 12, 2008

With conflict - Focus on solutions not problems

Title: Bright Lights (2005)
Media: Acrylic on Canvas

Most arguments focus on problems not solution. When we do this resolution takes longer because we have to work through the other persons defensiveness, their interpretation, their criticism of us and how we have handled it etc.

Try working backwards for a change. State your desired solution first - then let the problems go through this filter. e.g. Instead of saying "why do you play golf all weekend?” try "In the weekend I would really love to spend some time with your relaxing. Can we build in some time to do that without the distraction of golf?"

Focusing on the much wanted result opens the doors for problem solving since the other person won't feel the need to defend their actions. Now you are both working on the same side.

It's really important that your partner knows the positive reasons for your complaint - if they don't then you appear to be nagging all the time. With each complaint there is a positive outcome that we are hoping to achieve - put forward the positive reason for your complaint to encourage collaoration and not opposition.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mothers Day

I hope everyone has had a great Mothers day - and got lots of cuddles, kisses and love - not to mention a day that's chore free! lol

My little girl gave me the most gorgeous card that made me giggle ...

My mummy is beautiful and perfect because she gives me treats and she loves me and my brother so much that she will never forget about us. Love from Maria

You have to wonder what goes on in their minds at times to think about what makes them write she will never forget about us - do they really worry that they will be forgotten? Even if she does have that fear at least she is secure in the knowledge that it won't happen.

And of course - it's great to be thought of as beautiful and perfect - because as we all know - there comes the day when they think we know nothing and we're old and ugly ... lol

Treasure the special moments that come straight from a childs heart - with no pretence - no expectation - just the purity of their soul shining through.

Inner Peace

This was one of the comments left on my blog recently - since I know that a lot of people don't read the comments I copied it here ....

Learn to practice self love through self compassion and self nurturing. This will lead to building a foundation of inner security allowing you to remain calm and serene.

You are human and will make mistakes. Practice not judging yourself and release your resentments you hold against yourself for making a mistake.

Learn to forgive others when you are holding onto judgments resulting in grudges and resentments. This will only lead to disharmony within you. To get inner peace, you must learn to forgive and forget.

The most difficult aspect of honesty is to be honest with you. If you can't be honest with yourself, then it is impossible to be honest with others. When you can be true to yourself, this is one of the greatest gifts you can give yours towards obtaining true inner peace.

You are more than your physical body

Your core is your divine essence or your spirit. It deserves peace, true inner peace.

Practice thinking positively. Look for the good in every situation and every person. Practice positive actions that result in receiving positive feed back.

In every situation practice looking at it from an outside observer taking neither side. This will open your awareness up giving you more choices in life.

Remember life is a journey, it is not a destination. A journey that will allow you to learn and grow in self awareness if you allow it that will bring true inner peace.

Practice these simple suggestions on a daily basis to become full of greater inner peace and quiet serenity.

- Ashira Goddard

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Life Between the Dash

Title: Grief (2005)
Media: Mixed media and Acrylic on canvas

Yesterday I went to my friends mothers funeral and she read this poem that I'm sure some of you would have heard before but I would like to share with you ....


I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth and spoke the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the “dash” between those years. (1934 -1998)

For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth...and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own; the cars...the house...the cash, what matters is how we live and love and how we spend our “dash”.

So think about this long and hard...are there things you'd like to change? For you never know how much time is left, that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what's true and real and always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile...remembering that this special “dash” might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy's being read with your life's actions to rehash...would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your “dash”?

by Linda Ellis

Friday, May 9, 2008

Practice Contentment and Give time

Title: Darker Side of Love (2005)
Media: Mixed Media and Acrylic

The practice of contentment can occur even when you’re not content. What is the benefit of having the same argument 60 times with the same person? That person knows very well what is bothering you - calmly and completely state your position once more, then rest within yourself, trusting the unseen process of change.

"Sometimes you cant get there any faster than you’re already going. Don’t let your longing for the destination keep you from the quiet enjoyment of the journey" - Toni Sciarra Poynter

Once you’ve made your point in a discussion and you know you’ve been heard - stop making it. Give time for the person to process the information. If you overwhelm the person with grievances they will either shut down and not hear you or react with a counter-attack. Either way - there is no opportunity for resolution. Give the person time to consider what you've said - you will have time later to redefine the details.

"Handling conflict is 10% content and 90% technique. Work slowly towards solutions one facet at a time" - Toni Sciarra Poynter

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Choose your battles in relationships

Title: Round and Round (2005)
Media: Acrylic on Canvas

Choose your battles in relationships - decide which conflicts you want to pursue and which ones you want to let go of.

Think about it - are the things that you are never going to change worth fighting about for the next 50 years? Is it worth the angst of the battle?

Try something new - both of you try putting a few of those issues to the side and see if the annoyance dissipates through acceptance.

"Choose your battles and bear in mind that not every battle has to be won - or fought at all" - Toni Sciarra Poynter

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Achieving Peace

Title: Something's missing
Media: Mixed media, resin and acrylic on canvas
Peace starts from within - we cannot hope to achieve worldwide peace without first becoming at one with ourselves. Once we are at peace within - then we can spread it outward - to the people around us, our community , country and the world. Peace starts with the individual and flows from there .... we need to ask ourselves What are we doing today to be at peace within and create a harmonious existence ....

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Being Indispensable

Title: Unfinished business
Media: Mixed media, resin and acrylic
Size: 60cm x 50cm
FOR SALE - Contact me

So many times as a nurse I see people who are just about dead on their feet. When I ask why they are not at home in bed, the answer I get far too often is that they cant take time off - I'm too busy - I have this project due - They wouldn't be able to cope without me.

I then ask them what would happen if they got hit by a bus tomorrow (god forbid). Surprisingly enough they acknowledge that somehow the company would still continue to function.

Its a form of arrogance for us to assume that we truly are indispensable especially to our own personal detriment and ultimately the detriment of others around us. We need to take care of ourselves first and foremost. We owe it to ourselves to love ourselves more than our work - to make sure that we take the time out to rest and recover (whether its due to stress, exhaustion or ill health) We are doing no one any favours by being a martyr.

No one is indispensable. We may feel that way at times we may even believe it - in fact a lot of use would like to think we are because it validates us and gives us a life purpose.

Why do we have this need to be indispensable - whether it be at home, work to our spouse etc? We exhaust ourselves by doing so but end up feeling secure. It's because we wrongly believe that this will ensure our place in their lives.

Guess what? We don't need to do this in order to secure a place - we have that place - we need to be confident in that - and be kind to ourselves.

Being indispensable is destructive not only to us but our relationships. Often people come to resent those that they are reliant upon and who try and control their lives.

Monday, May 5, 2008

What do you do?

Title: Window to the Soul
Media: Mixed media with resin
Size: 76cm x 36cm
What do you do?

This is a question I've been asked a lot lately - I know it's used as an icebreaker and a means to extend the conversation further - but I also feel in a way it's an attempt to form an initial opinion of someone based on gross generalisations - eg. if you're an Engineer - they must be logical and practical ... a Dr is intelligent and caring ... a vet loves animals etc

I find this question increasingly difficult to answer as I have my finger in many pies at the moment ... do I choose one of my many jobs and say I'm a nurse ... well that's only a small part of my life ... do I say I'm an artist? ... but even that doesn't sum it up or give a very good explanation ...

So therefore I say, I'm a nurse, artist, business owner, manage the NZ Art Guild and solo mum to 2 kids .... well that answer seems to be a conversation killer ... in fact last night someone replied- "are you an over achiever or something" ... and another simply said ... "What?" with an incredibly quizzical look - like they couldn't grasp the concept I did multiple things to earn a living...

So what would happen if we interpreted this question differently. Instead of taking it to mean what do you do to make a living? How are you employed? What if we really threw a curve ball in the conversation and replied "I love and support my family and friends, am always there for them, stand up for what I beleive in, I cook great meals, go to art exhibitions etc" get the idea ....

I might try it next time ... just to see ... and maybe when someone asks what I paint - instead of saying "mixed media, abstract" - I will say "I paint my heart, soul and emotions"

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Title: Hard and Soft (2004)
Media: Acrylic
Size: 50cm x 60cm
"Life is under no obligation to give us what we want" Margaret Mitchell

Expectations are killers - they set us up for disapointment again and again. We are so often entrenched in what we think should be happening and what we want to happen that we miss what is actually happening.

We set up expectations for someone and we then project them onto that person then when they dont act according to our expectations we are disapointed.

Opportunites can be missed because of our illusion of reality through our expecations. We need to let go of our expectations and see what is actually happening so we dont miss out on life.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Title: Untitled
Artist: Ellie McGirr
Size: 20cm x 20cm
Media: Mixed

This week I've had the privilege of spending time with a wonderful, vibrant intelligent 15yr old. We have spent time creating artwork for her bedroom and also just doing odd jobs around the place. To spend time with another person regardless of age is such a privilege and a learning experience too.

Friends - they come in all shapes in sizes - all ages and walks of life - you can never predict who will be your friend - and sometimes the people you expect to be the ones to reach out a hand when you need it most arn't- and the ones you least expect are there for you.

Last week I had two friends that I haven't seen in a very long time contact me - one actually drove 2 1/2 hours (with morning sickness) just to visit me for a couple of hours - WOW! What a privilege!! Not to mention an amazing friend in more ways than one. We did our nursing training together - 20 years ago - and she has always been there - one of the most open, loving, giving people you would meet. I had no idea she was coming and of course the tears flowed when Wendy walked in ....

Another friend of mine from high school never ceases to amaze me - she texts me every birthday without fail - I haven't seen her for a couple of years (we both use the excuse of being too busy) - but she still takes the time out of her life to give to me. Wow!

Now the thing that its made me realise more than ever that we can actually take our friends for granted. Friends are so precious, but often our lives get too busy for us to take the time to meet up with them - to talk with them - and we think - we will do that next week - only next week never comes. I feel privileged, but strangely ashamed, that these two wonderful people (that I have known most of my life) take the time to be with me or keep in touch - but when did I last do that for them .... ?

How many of us can truly say that we are a friend? One of those awful realities of doing too much and being busy is that we have less and less time for friends. The appalling thing is that we actually have to make appointments for friends - hanging out with them is a luxury - and worse still an interruption. We assume we are friends but we never take the time to do anything to nurture that friendship and connection. We have to be a friend in order to have a friend.

Thank you to Ellie, Wendy and Tina for making me realise that I need to stop my busyness and take the time to be with people that have so much to offer - who's company I truly enjoy.