Notes on The Fine Art of Elephant Training & The Happy Artist

Yay!  My copy of Lani Gerity’s Elephant Training and the Happy Artist arrived this week!

ElephantTrainingHappyArtist

I was super excited to re-visit Lani’s Elephant Training lessons from her blog transformed into book form. This time I took notes while reading each chapter! 🙂 The 24 chapters include lots of Lani’s inspiring art, reflections,  links, and take aways from the teachings of Christine Carter, Christine Arylo, Rick Hanson, Kelly McGonigal and others.

Elephant Training and the Happy Artist focuses on many helpful and encouraging ways to develop or strengthen your creative (or overall well-being) practice from a positive psychology, reward driven and neuroscience lens. Reflections on self-compassion, mindfulness, willpower, and gentle ways to cultivate motivation & change are presented through Lani’s narrative, as well as creative prompts you can use to explore these concepts in your own art-making.

These writings from Lani have been a huge support for my revo’lution manifesting this year, including my 365 project, which continues to focus on the intentions simplicity, stillness, service, trust, honor, light, and simplicity.

Here are only a few of the Elephant Training and The Happy Artist gifts from Lani I found valuable to remember (and re-remember):

  • The process of change– i.e. transformation of what we do (or what our brains do) takes time & practice (lots of practice sometimes) to re-wire- and it’s okay if it’s “super hard” and to appreciate that making even the smallest steps toward this change is just as important.  (small change –> leads to big change  (page 12)
  • The act of rewarding yourself and creating a reward driven system to keep giving yourself a regular dose of motivation, dopamine and not to underestimate the power of simplicity when trying to create change…  for me, this has become visible in my 365 project… (page 12)
  • Value your strengths and incorporate them into your reward system- Yes! (page 17)
  • Simplify:  Let go of what creates distraction & spend your focus and energy freely on what contributes to what you love to do (page 36)
  • Practice, practice practice: Learn from your mistakes, show patience with yourself, and find small ways to help strengthen your practice towards revo’lution making (page 23).

There is sooo much more!

You can order your own copy of Elephant Training and The Happy Artist here.  It’s available in paperback, as well as in an electronic format (easy to access to all the links!) via lulu.com.

Below is my daily practice of 365 revo’lution making: Day 117…. Dedicated to the fine art of Elephant Training!

365 Revo'lution Making- Day 117

Advertisement

My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain

brain11.jpg
my brain: circa 2002

A few years ago I came across the art and story of Elizabeth Jameson and was so very moved and inspired by her work, research, and interpretation of taking her own medical imaging and brain scans as a personal expression and inquiry to understanding and coping with her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, as well as to help others with the disease and educate the medical community through her art.

It was 10 years ago this month that my life changed forever when my own central nervous system, myelin, and brain wiring first started to misbehave.  In recognition of this year’s 10th anniversary, I think I’m finally up to the challenge of reflecting on my experience of living with a chronic illness and to make some art using the MRI films my neurologist handed to me in 2002.

Jameson’s call for people living with brain inflicted illnesses to “feel how ugly it is and how beautiful it is”, really speaks to me to explore this dichotomy further through art-making with my own beautiful, but altered brain scans. I need to think more about what I want to make or how (perhaps an altered book?), but I do know it is really important that I create something.  This year’s milestone and re-visiting Jameson’s work gives me the motivation (and courage) to finally get started on something I have always wanted to do.

I even included this intention as part of my 2012 revo’lution as something to pay attention to this year.

You can check out more of Jameson’s art and research available online through the Johns Hopkins’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, The Beautiful Brain, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society if you are interested in seeing/learning more about her amazing work.