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.

Friday, March 19, 2010

3 more books coming my way soon

I'm really excited - after writing my review yesterday The Cadence Group invited me to join their group of book reviewers. I now have three more books coming to me from the States - a self help book - WOW, a childrens book - Sund and Moon and a novel - Citizen Dick. Can't wait to get them - they all look fantastic! Will share my thoughts with you all once I've read them.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude by Michele Wahlder

Below ia a book review by Sophia Elise

Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude
written by Michele Wahlder

Beautiful images, inspirational quotes, short narratives, affirmative statements, and an easy to read style make this small book with powerful messages a must have for everyone. Alphatudes – The Alpahbet of Gratitude by Michele Wahlder states on the cover that it contains 26 solutions for life’s challenges. I think more aptly it should read how to turn your life around with 26 letters.

Before I go any further I want to take a brief moment to explain what alphatudes are. An alphatude is where you go through each letter of the alphabet naming things starting with that letter that you are grateful for and why. Sounds like a simple exercise that anyone could do and why would anyone bother to write a book about it. Well, Michele takes it a step further and opts for things which are more holistic and philosophical like being grateful for Acceptance.

Before you start rolling your eyes and thinking here we go again – another airy fairy, self help book – I want to assure you it’s not. Michele doesn’t make promises like reading this book will result in financial freedom or deliver you with everything you ever wanted. What she offers the reader is the opportunity to take control of their lives and happiness. You can increase your optimism, find hidden blessings, overcome challenges and free yourself from negativity.

Ok – now I’ve made it sound like a very labour intensive process requiring a lot of soul searching and personal growth. Don’t panic – all the homework has been done for you and the only pre-requisite to putting this into action and incorporating it into your life is that you know your alphabet. I can hear you saying now – that can’t be right – I can assure you it is.

For each letter in this book Michele has selected a stunning image and a quote. The following page starts with “I am grateful for ….” followed by a short narrative and an affirmation. The opposite page contains what Michele calls a “prayer”. These aren’t traditional prayers - they are more what I would term spiritual affirmations – they are non denominational and so long as your not a staunch atheist then this is something that can appeal to everyone. For example, When Miclele talks about being Grateful for Giving she follows it with “let generosity of heart and hand begin with me. Help me to create a better world through the giving of my unique gifts, talents and passions ….”

So now we have covered what’s in the book - You may be asking – why would I want to do this and How will it make me feel? I would like to share with you how adopting a spirit of gratitude will help improve your life and make you feel happier.

Every day things happen that are out of our control, however what we always maintain control over is how we perceive and react to them. By replacing our negative thoughts with positive affirming ones we increase our feeling of optimism and we also start to take responsibility for our own happiness.

Many of us are not only guilty of the negative self talk but of also delaying our own happiness. We put our energies into finding things that we think will make us happy. We say to ourselves I’ll be happy when I get a new house, when I loose a few kilos etc. Unfortunately often when achieve that “thing” we thought would make us happy we often find we aren’t. We immediately embark on another search, looking for the next thing that we hope will make us happy. We keep postponing our happiness and when we do this we are robbing ourselves of our opportunity to feel happy every day of our lives and in turn pass that positivity onto others.

Michele talks about gratitude being a choice available to us all. We can make a conscious decision to see the blessings instead of hardships. If you are not used to doing this you may find it morally and intellectually demanding when you start but the more we express gratitude, the more positively we perceive the world and our experiences..

I remember a few years ago I used to say that the only thing I wanted was to be happy. I knew happiness had to come from within but the question was how do you get it inside when everything around you seemed so awful. I learnt that if you focus on the positive and are grateful for even the seemingly small things in life then you start to develop this deep internal happiness that no one can take from you. Even when the negative things happen you are so practised in looking for the positive in things that you don’t dwell on the negative but immediately turn it around so that you can feel good about it. I know this may sound like Pollyanna talking but I can assure you I was very much the negative thinker, dark side of life, and have suffered from debilitating depression. I have been at the bottom I know just how low you can get but I also know the other side and what has helped turn me and my life around – and that is the simple thing of gratitude.

In fact Michele’s book turned our whole families’ attitude around in less than 2 hours. Here’s how we did it – and how you can too. Firstly – this book is a fantastically easy read. I read it in less than 90 minutes in a school hall with 30 children doing karate in the background. . My children love books and wanted to know what I was reading – in less that 5 mins I had told them and they had looked through the book Then in the car ride home we put it into practice by going through the alphabet and each taking turns to express our gratitude (another 20 mins) It not only increased the positivity but it also opened up dialogues for us as well – dialogue we may not have had otherwise. How many books have the power and potential to change so many lives in such a short space of time with so little effort?

Ok – admittedly it may not be that easy to keep the alphabet of gratitude alive and breathing all the time – we all have our moments when we can struggle to see the light. But if you can just stop for a minute during one of those difficult moments and start your aphatudes you are guaranteed to start feeling a whole lot happier. It will make you feel so good that you will actually want to make this a part of your daily life.

I knew my children 8 and 10 had bought into the alpahtudes 100% when a couple of days after they had read the book they presented me and my partner with a poster. It was a poster with all our names and a complete alphatude. My son even wrote in a school report recently Count your blessings - people in India don’t have a lot, they don’t have food, houses, school, money etc – but they are happy – we could learn a lot from them. Alphatudes is now something they use when they are having trouble getting to sleep or if they are worried about something – we don’t count sheep anymore we count our blessings. This is a much more effective way to relax and increase happiness.

And lastly – one of the things that I am grateful for is the price of this beautiful book – only $9.32USD

Robert A Emmons – “gratitude is a deep and abiding recognition and acknowledgment that goodness exists under even the worst that life offers.

Over the coming weeks I will share some of my favourite parts from Micheles book.

Check out her website to read more about it and have a peak inside

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Am I a book reviewer?

In January I received an email from an American publisher to write a book review for one of their books due to be release this year. I was intrigued on many levels.

Firstly - that they had contacted me personally - not just in a mass produced email
Secondly - that they had chosen me because of the focus of my blog - inspiration and gratitude being two key focus points
Thirdly - with the increase in hoax and spam emails I did wonder if this is too good to be true - they will send me a copy of the book from America for FREE in exchange for me writing a review and putting it on my blog.
Fourthly - why would they want someone who isn't even a book reviewer to do this?

Anyway - I thought - I have nothing to loose by saying yes and everything to gain - and I LOVE books - Love writing - if it was a great book then I would enjoy the opportunity to help promote it and of course the title of the book sealed the deal for me ......

Alphatudes - the Alphabet of Gratitude by Michele Wahdler.

Two weeks later I have to admit to being a little surprised when this beautiful book actually arrived in my mail box. I opened it with great excitement and then proceeded to read it from cover to cover that afternoon. Yes it was that enjoyable and that easy to read! Not only that but my children who also love books leaped on it with great excitement and looked through it thoroughly sharing their favourite parts.

So now - finally - I am completing my end of the deal - writing my formal book review of this wonderful book (I have to admit that having my friend Kay de Latour Scott receive her book after me and finish her review before me was the little shove that I needed to bite the bullet and get this done)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pick Your Battles

We all know that life contains conflict and unfortunately we aren't able to escape it. But one thing that it's important to learn in life is how to reduce conflict. A great way is to pick your battles.

I read this on and really wanted to share it with you - it is written so simply and if we all took the time to adopt these principles than I think it would go a long way to promoting peace and harmony.

To gain a better perspective on when to fight back and when to “let it go,” practice the following disciplines:

1. Spend time with people who are different from you. This helps you appreciate and understand how others think and work. You will be less inclined to judge or battle them.

2. In matters of personal preference or taste, give in. Keep the main thing the main thing. If you don’t save your energy for what really matters, you’ll wear yourself out and wear out your welcome with others.

3. Don’t take things too personally. In general, hurting people hurt people. And they’re also easily hurt by others. Keep that in mind when you’re on the receiving end of someone’s anger.

4. Practice the 101% Principle. Whenever possible in a difficult situation, find the 1% that you do agree on and give it 100% of your effort.

Adapted from Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork

All the principles above are things we should be teaching our children from day one if we want any hope of creating a peaceful world for them to grown old in and raise their children in.

Number 1 on this list is something we were taught as children in my family and it is something I have worked hard to instill in my children. I believe that one of our jobs as parents is to present to children a smorgasbord of life and experiences - allow them the opportunities to experience, think, react, learn and develop their own opinions and thoughts. If we only ever let them eat green jelly beans their whole life because that's all we like, then we are making them miss out on the many other wonderful colours and flavours of the other jelly beans. Of course they may experience red, orange, yellow etc and still decide that green is the one that suits them best. Or they may decide that black is their favourite. Just because our children choose a different path from ours doesn't make them wrong - we still love them. And this needs to be transferred over to other people - just because they are different for whatever reason - doesn't make them wrong. Of course it's not as simple as just learning about other people, or understanding them - its about respecting that they are different. Once we take the time to understand others, respect them for their differences then we are one big step closer to world peace.

Number 2 is a great one - I decided long ago that most things don't matter. Whether we have pizza or Indian, watch sport or the movie, wear red or black etc. These are the little things in life which really aren't going to make a huge difference to our life. Let them go - put your energy into the battles that really need it - like animal cruelty, global warming etc. On the plus side you might discover that by "giving in" on the small things, that you make some one else happy and that is a reward in itself :-)

Number 3 is soooo true!! It is very important to try not to respond from the "got at" place - where you take things so personally. Yesterday I received an email from someone on our mailing list who was very upset and almost abusive at me for a typo - I spelt Coatesville without an e. She told me that it was offensive and disrespectful for the whole community. Of course it was a simple error, completely unintentional and not one that a spell checker piskc up. I apologised and reassured her that we would rectify the error. If I had chosen to take the attack personally (which was how it was written) then it would have left me in a blubbering mess - or angry and retaliating - however I realised that there must be something bigger going on here for her and responded with kindness, understanding and appreciation for pointing the error out. Admittedly her next email was just as rude - but as my partner says - the view is always better from the high road. If we all endeavoured to take the high road in conflict, think about how the other person feels, about how we would like to be treated if situations were reversed then we would be yet another step closer to peace.

Number 4 - this one is a new one to me - and I LOVE it!! I am going to give that a go next time conflict rears it's head - find that 1% of agreement and be thankful for that and then give that part the 100% :-)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My first artwork for Cassino, Italy

I have completed my first artwork for Legato - Cassino, Italy. This is from my Journey of Life Series - there is a story behind it - but the story will have to wait until the second artwork is complete :-)

Title: Journey of Life
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic paints on mannequin torso. The torso is solid with a flat back and hangs flat on a wall. It is textured (but hard to tell from the photo) The dots are handpainted by brush in black, white and grey.
Size: (aprox) 90cm long x 32cm wide x 15cm deep (all measurements taken at largest point)
Price: For Sale - POA Commissions accepted

To practice properly the Art of Peace, you must:
Calm the spirit and return to the source.
Cleanse the body and spirit by removing all malice, selfishness, and desire.
Be ever-grateful for the gifts received from the universe, your family, Mother Nature, and your fellow human beings. -
Morihei Ueshiba

"Legato" Exhibition, Cassino, Italy

"Legato" Exhibition, Cassino, Italy

The title of the exhibition I'm involved with in Italy in May is "Legato" There are 37 NZ artists who have been selected to take part in this fabulous event. 12 of them are travelling over (me included) The theme is Peace and Remembrance.

So do you want to find out why "legato was chosen for the exhibition title? Then read on ....

This explanation is copied from the "Legato" website - written by Kay de Latour Scott.

Why Legato? It is an interesting word. In music, legato is playing smoothly, but not necessarily slurring the notes together. In Italian it means "tied together". In one of my favourite songs, Non Ti Scordar Di Me, (Don't Forget Me) it is used as an adverb, and becomes "legata" as it refers to "la vita" life, which is feminine. "Tied" can have negative implications, but linked, intertwined, joined does have appeal. The strands of a rope are intertwined, giving it strength. When I first asked an Italian friend to translate the song for me he explained the word "legato" in those terms, the parts of a rope intertwined, joined together. In the context of the song that image is quite beautiful. Your life, and mine, entwined. And so it is with Italy and New Zealand.

The musical definition resonates with me. Notes are played close together, but with careful fingering are not lost in one another. Maybe that is how our cultures should be. Each has a space, there is no supremacy, but together they make beautiful music.

Italy and New Zealand are truly tied together, with so many friendships formed between families during WWII and maintained after the war. Now, two generations later, the grandchildren of the Kiwi soldiers are returning to Italy to visit these families, and young Italians are moving to New Zealand. Every year hundreds of New Zealanders visit the graves of their countrymen who remained here.

The horror of war has passed into memory, but the friendships are alive and vibrant. Nationally this connection may feel stronger in New Zealand where almost every family has a direct link to Italy, whereas in Italy there are many areas where other nations played a similar role and have these same ties. The New Zealand Division was heavily engaged in the fighting on the Gustav Line and so has a lasting place in the history of Cassino.

Legato, tied. The legacy of war is part of our common heritage. Now it is our task to make a lasting peace the focus of that heritage.

Please take the time to check out the website and see some of the fabulous artworks that will be exhibited in May and read the stories behind it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

NZ's Got Talent

"New Zealand's Got Talent" is the latest exhibition that I'm involved in. There are 4 small artworks of mine - 2 dotty ones - 2 mixed media ones. This is an exhibition which features both award-winning and emerging artists organised by fellow NZ Art Guild member - Chavah Kinloch.

It showcases a broad range of styles and is an expose of the upcoming visual art talent that New Zealand has to offer. From abstract to landscapes, mixed media to mosaics the lineup of 29 amazing artists is sure to delight viewers from all walks of life. The month long exhibit will be held at City Gallery, Don Street, Invercargill and opening night at 7pm, March 5th 2010. The exhibition itself is open to the public and will run from March 5th-31st.

Participating NZ Art Guild Artists: Janet Marshall, Sophia Elisa, Kirsty Black, Tanya Dann, Jane Santos, Natasha Shackleton, Chavah Kinloch, Sally Blyth, Robyn Robertson, Amy Mackiewicz, Sharlene Schmidt, Michelle Wallis, Suzanne Carter, Marimba Powley, Cath Sheard, Ambury Hall, Lyn Hurring, Pam Tapp, Ana Te Huurne, Sofia Spirtova, Theresa Cashmore and Rachael Inch.

Non- NZ Art Guild Artists: Philina Den Dulk, Tracey Strenhouse, Denita Tizard, Kay Ward, Alfred Memelink, Melissa McCreanor, and Erika Husselmann.