Davia McMillan is passionate about Living Lives We Love and her business the Life Design Lab is a coaching space that supports creative and compassionate exploration of self, business, environment and relationships.
Always a self driven entrepreneur, Davia’s first business after completing her Fashion Design degree in the early 90’s was a international mail-order business for wheelchair athletes, catering to their unique physical requirements.
After many years working in human service organizations and the disability sector Davia chose to refocus on her creative passion contributing to award winning landscapes with her Mosaic Art. However missing the human element within her creative practice she then retrained as a coach and mentor, opening Life Design Lab which now offers multiple ways to align head, heart and gut, making wiser decisions possible and generating full self expression and life leadership capabilities.
If you are familiar with feelings of being torn between following your heart and doing the what’s logical or even expected, if you experience being blocked and unable to take steps towards your goal despite having a great ‘plan’, then perhaps you are not fully congruent and aligned with your plan. Aligning the intuitive and values driven intelligences that already exist within you can create new possibilities for yourself and your future.
Drawing on the latest findings in Neuroscience and combining leading edge coaching techniques such as mBRAINING with years of experience in the creative space, Davia is uniquely placed to teach you some simple techniques that will assist you to become more consciously and consistently aligned with the things that are most important to you.
A great coaching conversation creates a space for understanding, choice and action.
Effective conversations are the key to finding creative solutions and developing strong relationships that benefit all stakeholders.
Everyone can have their needs met inside a great conversation. You can connect with Davia here . http://lifedesignlab.com.au/
When I’m coaching, I take a few minutes before I made a client to just sit there and get present to the moment, you know, and I put all of that other stuff that you might be going on in my life, I leave it outside the door, you know, because I don’t need that. They just need me to be there for them. So, you know, I always take 5 minutes, 10 if I can, if I’ve got it, take 5 minutes just to sit and do some balanced breathing, and to really get present to who I want to be for that person that I’m going to be coaching today.
You are listening to the mBraining show. The show about the new field of mBit, where you’ll get a blend of neuro science based research with practical applications for wise living.
Hey Davia, welcome to the programme.
Thank you, Bill. Thanks for having me. I’m a little bit excited and a little bit nervous. But thanks for having me.
You’re welcome. I’m excited too. I think it’s taken me the best part of however long I’ve known you to get you on the podcast.
Beenn a few years hasn’t it. Just a couple now.
We got it over the line and it’s actually interesting, because there’s a lot of people that have said to me stuff like “I’m not ready. This is not my time”, or whatever. And I’m very, I’m always interested about that, because we actually just here have a chat. And the chat is relevant to me, you and many, many other people, regardless of whether they’re in the mBraining community or not.
So I just find that fascinating that somebody is not really ready to have a chat.
Yeah. Well, I guess we all feel we have to have something of extreme value to be able to contribute to put out there into the world. It worries us that we don’t have that yet; that we are still evolving. At some point, we’re going to get there magically and have exactly what it is that people need. I just had to give that up this week.
Yeah, thanks for doing that. See, I had to give that up when… and I’ll pretend like, you know, that I’m surprised or whatever. But I had to give that up when I decided to do the podcast, because I was going to be doing this every episode. It was going to be coming on, and talking to people and hoping, hoping that it was going to be worth people listening to or valuable or whatever. And it just is because what we’re talking about is the usual stuff. And everyone relates to the usual stuff.
You know, all the challenges that we have, and all that kind of stuff. That’s all usual. That’s what everybody is going through all the time. There’s nobody out there that hear’s one of our conversations and says, “Well, that’s not relevant to me or anybody.”
And I think the best part of this is; you’re kind of being vulnerable. But actually, you’re not talking about anything new that people haven’t heard before.
We haven’t reinvented conversation, you know, when we do this, but it’s just really fascinating. So what was interesting was yesterday, when we did the test call. Yeah. And I was asking you to get Skype ready, right. Yeah. What was that like for you? Because that was for me, a very interesting response. How does it go down for you?
Oh, look, you know, I had two hours of complete meltdown. Because my… I don’t use Skype. I use a lot of other platforms. But I don’t use Skype. And I had a Skype account, but I hadn’t used it for so long that they’d actually shut it down and couldn’t get back in and I was trying to get back in, and they were sending… I kept pressing “send code” to my phone, and nothing was happening. And I tried to create a new account, and it just wouldn’t work either. So I went into complete hijack mode, like something was wrong. And I get like this with computers, phones, email accounts, some… Facebook, you know, Messenger, there’s been a whole lot of hacking stuff going on recently. And I’ve received messages from people saying, check out this video. And I get terrified that I’ve done something wrong, that I’ve clicked something I shouldn’t that I, you know, like, I so desperately want to get it right. And when things don’t work, it’s like a personal attack, like somebody, you know, has stolen my stuff, you know? And it’s really pit of my stomach, I feel sick, you know, and I can feel it just sort of rising up and sitting just under my diaphragm. And I feel like throwing up, you know, it just blergh… And it’s like a personal attack. And but my logical mind says, “Look, it’s just, it’s just computers. It’s just stuff, just turn it off and on again, come back later.” Like, but that logical brain actually just goes completely missing in action, when I have some kind of technological stuff up.
I wonder why that is. So what’s the heart doing at that point in time? What? What’s going on there?
I don’t think my heart’s even present. My gut is just completely ruling the show. And my heart’s just… it’s shut down in fear and just gone running away. Yeah, it’s just completely a gut reaction around, you know, survival. Sorry, I was going to say, had a lot of stuff stolen when I was a kid. And I think it’s still a memory reaction to you know, being robbed and things like that. I think it’s still the same same thing happening all over again, certainly feels the same.
Well, there you go. Well, that’s interesting, right? I was, obviously, I was gonna say it’s gotta stem from somewhere, something must have happened. That could be it. What I’m interested in, though, is like now that you have the mBraining suite, and I know you’re a coach, and I know you’ve done some other things before. But now that you have that, is it easier to overcome, to get over it, to notice it? Like, how do you go about sort of just…
Yeah, totally. Things like that used to be able to wrap me up for days, you know, like it would just continually overshadow the rest of my life for days if I couldn’t get it sorted. And even then, if I did get it sorted, it would still have me rattled. But now that I have mBraining and I’m able to put myself in a nice whole brain state, I can move and shift through this very quickly, just by doing some balanced breathing, and getting myself calm before I take the next step. Because, you know, when I’m just stuck in the gut, I’m in panic mode, “quick, fix it, click it! Put these code in”. You know, “panic, panic!”
Yeah. Right. So the how about… So it’s easier to sort of overcome, you’re aware of it. That’s what mBraining does for everybody. It gives us awareness. And we understand where it could stem from within us, all that kind of stuff. When you said… Before that, what was happening then? And like, how was it ruining… How are you stuck in it for a couple of days? Like what was it doing? And were you aware that that particular thing that occurred 2 or 3 days ago was still bothering me, 2 or 3 days later?
I’m not always aware, no. Some days, I could just be a royal pain in the butt to everybody around me, you know, and take it out on them and project, project, my anger and my fear onto my family and friends, you know, just be really snarky. You know, that kind of thing? Little bit of a bitch to be around. That’s the truth.
Sorry, I can’t relate to you doing that, to me. I can relate to that kind of person. Me being that kind of person. Right.
Yeah, we all be that kind of person. Yeah. But yeah, that’s how I was, I could be a real pain to be around and, it felt bad. You know, it really felt bad within; I felt sick of myself. Yeah, just wanted to get away from myself. Which of course, is not possible.
Especially when it’s an identity issue. And you’re using the gut to get away from yourself, but it’s an identity issue. So the two are trying… I’m trying to use the gut to get away from the identity part it’s not gonna happen is really difficult.
No, you just completely tie yourself in knots.
Yeah. Take lots of action to tie yourself up in knots instead of untie yourself.
Yeah, yeah. So mBraining makes, you know, and knowing how to balance breathe and get in touch with my heart and head at same time, you know, and just actually had a bit of an alligned conversation with myself. Take a big deep breath, and, you know, come back to what really matters here. And what really mattered with the Skype thing was getting in communication with you. I have several other ways I could do that. So it was, you know, once I saw that, that wasn’t it the end of the world, you’ve got to go through these steps, because at the time, it just feels like the end of the world.
Yeah, I know, he’s saying, and the reality was, is that, but that’s why we did the test, we did the test so that we could sort out their little bumps and whatever it was that was going to interfere in the Skype call. Yeah, the day before, so we wouldn’t have the issue when we get to get together. Yeah. And, and that was, that’s the thing, like, that’s what I do, try and work out with issues that we overcome them, because often I’ll organise a Skype call, and you won’t believe it, you know, all the technical things go wrong. As soon as you get together with that person, and you’ve booked in an hour. And all the problems happen then. And it’s like, “Okay, well, this didn’t happen yesterday”. Or “this worked the day before” or whatever. And it’s just one of those things. So I try to solve the problems before they happen. But in this case, I didn’t realise I was going to be creating a challenge for somebody, you know?
Well, you know, it to me, using Skype was like a, an entirely new piece of equipment that you’re asking me to use. Because it’s not something I’m familiar with. So when we first turned it on, you could only hear me you couldn’t see me, I hadn’t yet worked out where the video button was on the Skype. You know? It was new. It’s all new. Yeah.
You know, it’s interesting. It’s interesting to observe you in that situation. Because I’ve had the pleasure of having to observe you in coaching. Okay, so as an amazing coach that’s helped me and my family, overcome a couple of little things in the recent past. And I see you as somebody that absolutely is going to be involved in the next, you know, phase of me, sort of overcoming some of the challenges that we have at home, just the standard stuff with you know, kids, teenagers, all that kind of stuff.
Yep. That stuff.
And I do that; roll my eyes, and I talk about as if I was never one.
Yep! Keep that in mind.
Okay, bring that up when we start talking.
Yeah, yeah, keep that in mind.
So it’s really amazing to watch you in action, and to experience your coaching. And then it’s really interesting to see that other side of the person. And it’s… Remember what I said, when we first started, like, it was like, this is just a conversation. It’s two people, we all have all these things where we’re awesome. We’re in flow.
And when things are great, and then we’re not in flow, things are not great, apparently.
What do you notice that’s…
We all go through that.
Yeah, right, and your confidence in coaching and your confidence in helping us and all that kind of stuff; that’s a completely different version of yourself than the one that I saw yesterday, what is different for you, when you’re in flow? And when you’re not in flow? What do you notice that’s different? How do you think you kind of get from one to the other?
Well, I think it’s, I think it’s about really being present. It’s giving yourself the time to get present. You know, like really… When I’m coaching, I take a few minutes before I meet a client to just sit there and get present to the moment, you know, and I put all of that other stuff that might be going on in my life, I leave it outside the door, you know, because they don’t need that. They just made me to be there for them. So, you know, I always take 5 minutes, 10 if I can, if I’ve got it, take 5 minutes just to sit and do some balanced breathing, and to really get present to who I want to be for that person that I’m going to be coaching today. What is it that I think that they might need? And you know, they more often than not, they just need someone to actually really hear what’s going on for them, like, deeply understand what’s going on for them. So it’s more about listening than it is about talking. And the more I coach, the less I talk. That’s, you know, there’s a really good thing that… a gift that I got given by another coach at the end of last year, and it’s a little acronym called WAIT, and it says, “Why am I talking?” Yeah, and that is just the best gift. You know? Wait, wait. Just let the person really get present themselves.
Wow, yeah, that’s really holding the space for that other person. Yeah.
Yeah. Yeah. And it’s really hard to do. Because we have thoughts and opinions, and we want to share them. And we want to show people how brilliant we are. Really, we want to help them. Yeah. But more often than not, when people come for coaching, they actually just need someone to be with them and hold the space for them. So that they can go through whatever it is they need to go through to internally process it.
Yeah, that’s very cool. WAIT. It’s such a simple acronym. It means so much though, like it just really changes the game. Why am I talking? Like, that’s great.
Yeah. You just ask yourself that. Why? What is it that I’ve got that’s really valuable here? That they can already tell me?
Yeah. Okay. So that’s interesting. So for you, it’s pretty simple. And I know it is for me similar, the hold the space, just breathe. Just come to a balanced sort of state. And things tend to flow.
Now, how does that work? When you are sitting down painting one of your beautiful paintings, and you’re looking at a blank piece of paper, or cardboard, or whatever it is that you paint on a canvas? How does that work? Do you ever sit in front of the screen and go, “Oh, my god, there’s a piece of paper there”, or “there’s a piece of canvas that and there’s nothing going on it? I’ve been sitting there for two hours?”
Yeah, I don’t wait two hours. Just don’t have the time to wait two hours. But yeah, definitely the experience of the blank sheet of paper is, it’s rather intimidating, you know, because you feel that you’ve got to put something, especially if it’s a really nice piece of you know, paper that you’ve been saving, and you, you want to use it and it’s expensive, or it was a gift or, you know, like sometimes we just come across that beautiful piece of paper and think, I really want to do something special with this. But the more special the paper is, the more intimidating the process becomes, and making that first mark gets worse and worse.
Wow, interesting. So I didn’t expect you to say, a very beautiful piece of paper, a piece of paper as a piece of paper.
Yeah, look, it could just be a really nice, you know, A4 sheet of copy paper, who knows, but that first mark, has a lot of expectation in it. So sometimes I just chucked something at the page.
Whose expectation does it have? Like, where does expectation come from?
You know, it depends, it depends whether you’re doing, what your intention is, when you sit down to do a piece of art, okay? Is the intention that, you know, this is going to be part of an exhibition, and you’re going to show yourself as an artist, this is, has it got a purpose of some, you know, you’re creating a birthday card for someone really special or maybe, you know, you just want to doodle, that’s a different experience, doodling is easy because no one, there’s no expectation that anybody’s going to look at it and critique it at the end. But if it’s something that other people are going to see, you can start getting a little bit scared about what it is. And I know, a couple of years ago, I came back to art after a long break. And I decided that I would go along to some life drawing classes.
What’s a life drawing?
Life drawing, so naked bodies, people in a room with, you know, a ring of people around them all with easels or, and drawing boards and things like that. And you do a lot of really quick warm up drawings, and then you might have a longer pose that you study the person and so it’s life, there’s movement involved and… it can be anywhere from 30 seconds to, you know, few hours. But I was going to life during class and I felt, I took this nice role of crisp white paper along with me that I bought some lovely new cartridge paper, which is not super expensive. So I was sort of like oh yeah “well, whatever, you know, it’s just cartridge paper, no expectations.” But I still found it really confronting. And so a couple of weeks in, I just grabbed whatever paper I had lying around the house that was like, newspapers, things like that. And, but these are going in the bin, if I don’t use them, they’re going in the bin. So it doesn’t matter, I can just draw all over it. And it’s not about actually producing a piece of finished artwork, it’s about just getting in the flow of my own signature, my own way of working, you know, knowing my own hand and mark making ability. So I just drew all over the newspaper, because it was going to go in the bin anyway. And if it went in the bin, at the end of the night, who cares, you know, I would have had two hours of drawing and expressing myself and getting familiar with my own hand. So that the…
Did it go in the bin?
No, didn’t go in the bin because what emerged was this conference, this confidence that you have, when no one’s looking. It’s like, you know, when you dance in the dock, and no one can see you? You know?
Lucky they can’t see me, but anyway,
Or you sing in the shower, and no one can hear you. So it’s a bit like that, you know, that confidence that you get, when no one is looking and no one cares what you do. And then the most magical stuff emerges. You know, you start to just let go of all of the expectations of how it should look. And really just let your body and your hand and your eyes just flow.
Yeah, it’s really interesting. I was coaching an amazing young artist who is a singer, a dancer, she just does multiple different things. But she had this real problem performing in front of a crowd on a stage and the whole conversation was about “Not good enough. Not this, not that.”
In her own mind. So in the mind, that would manifest feelings in the gut and in the heart, but mostly in the heart, it was manifesting real problems for her, like real concerns and issues because she wasn’t living her truth.
You know, in her gut, she was all, you know, mucked up and all kinds of stuff was going wrong. And there was not a single person that listened to her sing. That said, you can’t sing.
There was not a single person that listened to her… to watch the dance and said, “you can’t dance.”
And she was amazing. She had an amazing, naturally amazing voice. And she would kind of have stage fright issues and all that kind of stuff. She would book herself into gigs and then she would cancel. So it’s interesting that she was a creative and had similar blocks in expressing herself in her chosen form of expression.
So when you’re coaching somebody that is looking at a blank piece of canvas, can you share some of the experiences that you’ve had in helping people get through that, like, move beyond the stagnation or the fear or whatever it is… What it might be for that person? What’s happened in the past, like, for your clients, what did they come to you with?
You know, even this morning, when I was thinking about coming online and talking to you, and, you know, I do my hair and getting ready and thinking, “Oh God, you know, I’m going to be on video.” And that’s intimidating, because that’s not something that I normally do. This, this thing comes up, where I make fun of myself. You know, I bring a lightness and a comedy to the situation that says, “Well, you know, who I am is who I am and people are going to like or, not like me. And I just got to like me, and I’ve got to be able to laugh at myself. Because if I can laugh at myself, it doesn’t matter if other people laugh at myself. So I actually have this little thing. I was joking with my daughter, that it’s like being a performing seal, you know, and I go… Smacking my flippers together, you know, and immediately it’s funny, you know, because I’m being an idiot, you know, making myself silly. And that just brings a real lightness to the situation that says, “Well, whatever. Whatever happens happens.” And it’s like, when I’m with a with a white page, I encourage people to put a mark on it to just throw something at it, close your eyes, draw with your with your opposite hand, you know, do something left brain, right brain sort of change your position. Do something that interrupts the way that you’re feeling? Yeah, so it might be, it might just be do some warm up exercises, imagining the picture in your head, and drawing it with your eyes closed. Yeah, draw it on a piece of paper, that doesn’t matter, that you’re not attached to. Just get in the flow first. Or use your other hand or draw something without taking the pen off the page, you know, just draw it in one continuous line, ends up looking a little bit scribbliest. You know, it doesn’t make sense. But you don’t expect it to make sense. It’s like being a performing seal. You know, you’re not going to do that when you doing something professional and in public, you know, in front of an auditorium full of people. But if you already get yourself in that relaxed frame of mind, and you get present to; I’m just here to, you know, to share something, rather than being criticised, or these people have come because they want something. They want to enjoy the moment.
Yeah. And that’s the thing is, you’re not going to be criticised for doing something. But we criticise ourselves all the time.
Before we’ve even done anything!
I heard something interesting yesterday. And I’ve heard it before. And I’ve even used it before. I heard somebody say like, “if somebody else spoke to you, the way that you speak to yourself, you wouldn’t stand for it.
Yeah. Yeah, it’s incredible what we do to ourselves.
You know, you’d be like, get out of the door, go home, I’m not interested in talking to you. You’d probably be a bit more forceful than that. So I find that really interesting that we will cop it from some, in some ways, you know, will allows us to cop it but in other ways we won’t. Why is it that it’s, why is it acceptable to accept our own criticisms, and to criticise ourselves to make ourselves feel bad? But why wouldn’t we accept it from someone else?
Yeah, it’s crazy, right? We all do it. And it appears that that is human nature. It is it is what we do to ourselves. And it does, in hindsight, seem really, really quite mad. But the trick is in noticing that we’re doing it and reminding ourselves that everybody does it.
When you when you know, that everybody else does it, and then, you know, “it’s actually not about me, because that person is doing it, too.”
You know, they’re meeting me with questions about themselves. How are they presenting? What do they look? They looking good? Are they looking bad? So the pressure kind of gets taken off you when you know that the other person is doing the same thing. They’re not as concerned about you as they are about themselves.
Quite often, majority of the time.
They’re doing exactly that, they’re focusing on all the problems that they’ve got, and how they’re going to appear and all that type of thing. And they’re probably thinking that you’re amazing, for some reason, and we want… and they want to be like you or feel like you are have your confidence, and you’re just putting on a show anyway.
Yeah, isn’t it nuts? So, you know, when you realise that the other person is meeting you in exactly the same space with the same concerns, it really lightens the situation and it’s very freeing, you know, because then you can work out who you want to be for them. Rather than trying to get it right. You know, you can… you have choice in the matter. Who you want to be for yourself.
Yeah. Have you done exhibitions before?
Yeah. Yeah. I had one a few years ago. Hang on, I’m going to tilt my screen; here’s some, can you see? That’s some of my work in the background, this is my studio, by the way.
It reminds me of a Greek church, when you go into a Greek church. There’s just icons everywhere.
Yeah, it’s a bit like that. These are leftovers from an exhibition I had a couple of years ago. It was massive. And I sold a whole heap, but there’s still some left. So, you know, I keep them round. And every now and again, someone comes around and buys one off the wall. Yeah, yeah. And that that was, I’ve got one here. Hang on, find one. From the last drawing class, when I drew on the newspaper. I’ll hold it up. All right. Here’s one.
For people listening on iTunes…
It’s a naked body lying on a side. And it’s drawn over the piece of newspaper ad of the Sunday magazine, The Age Sunday magazine. It’s a newspaper we have here in Australia. And it’s… you can see the pictures coming through underneath.
So, “take it easy”; was that the headline on the page?
Yeah, that was the headline on the page. And it was… it’s a recipe actually, for paprika pork skewers with capsicum salad. And that’s why this woman has the skewers coming through her because that was part of the picture underneath, and then she’s over the top. And what I was thinking about when I was doing this drawing was about the torture that we put ourselves through in regard to our own body image. So “take it easy”, is fitting, you know, we put ourselves on skewers, we came stabbing ourselves about how we look, and you know, body image is huge.
I love how you took that page that came out of a magazine, or a newspaper has different, you know, has a different, I beg your pardon. Has a heading that’s regarded as perfect for that context by the person who put that together. Who’s got a recipe that talks about food skewers, the rest of it. And you’ve turned that into actually a piece of art that is interesting, really confronting to look at. It’s bright, full of colours, it really attracts you. Similar to a place of food, you know, it’s really bright and attracts you. But you’ve changed the whole context of the skewers what they mean now; what the headline means. That’s just amazing. I think that’s brilliant.
Yeah, she’s a bit of pork on the skewer. It’s not really. Yeah, what the mind does when you’re in flow hye.
Yeah wow, amazing. I thought that you typed that lettering at the beginning when I first saw it, and I love how it just came from… the inspiration came from a page of a recipe, and you’ve turned it into that.
Yeah. So you know most things about creativity. There’s nothing new in the world, we just recreate things, you know, we just keep turning them over. And, you know, it’s a new iteration, it’s a new take on things. So we give it our own flavour and our own style, and everything is built on something that someone else has done before. Yes, it looks new, no one else has painted that picture before. But you know, I built on what that person wrote and who put that, that recipe and article together. And I selected that page. When I read through the paper, I went “great that’d be fantastic to draw on.” And I just held it to the side until I found the image that I wanted to put on it. You know, I can see it when it appeared. When the woman lay down in the life drawing in class I went “that would work.” You know, and often they don’t work. Yeah. But that one worked. Because I was in flow in the moment.
I wonder what the person who put that page together with think if they saw that page now.
I don’t know it’s Bill Granger’s recipe, I should give him a ring. I don’t know.
I just think that’s amazing. So I was going to ask you about getting ready for a show that you were going to work together, right? So setting up an exhibition. What’s that like? How was it the first time that you were… that you decided “I’m going to get my art and I’m going to put it on display, and I’m going to invite people to come and see it.”
It took me six years to get a solo exhibition together. Six years. And it wasn’t until I got myself a coach. And she said, “What do you want? What do you really, really want?” I said, “I want to have an exhibition.” And she said, “What’s stopping you?” And I went down all these rabbit holes this and this and, you know, it just went it went nowhere, just full circle back to I want an exhibition. And she said, “just go, here’s the place, go and sign yourself up.” And I walked in the door of this gallery. It’s really nice gallery. And I spoke to the manager there. And I said, “I’m thinking about having an exhibition”. You know, “how do I how do I go about booking one?” And she opened the diary straight to the page. And she said, “Well, you can have this fortnight or this fortnight.” And then she said, “Oh, no, you don’t want that fortnight that in school holidays, and no one will be around here then.” So it’s that one was like, “Okay.” That was all it was left in a whole year’s diary. There was a fortnight left.
Wow people are exhibiting all the time.
People are exhibiting all the time. And she said, “there it is that’s you” And I went, “okay.” And it was like I had 10 weeks, I think, to get my stuff together. So I just worked really hard for 10 weeks, because once once I had committed and given myself that deadline, it just had to happen. And I had lots of work.
Ready to go?
No, I’m not ready to go. I had work that still needed to be framed and mounted. I did most of the mounting onto canvases. So there was lots of.. yeah, finishing work to be done. But I just used every spare minute that I had, and got it done. So that was that decision. Once the decision was made. Everything was easy. Just flow.
So it was kind of like the other person booking it in almost for you, was kinda like, “Oh, well, I’m committed now I’ve gotta go for it.” What was that a relief? What was that like? Why did that make a difference?
Let’s see. There’s a great questions, Bill because I actually hadn’t thought about these, I just did it. Yeah, looking back, once I’ve made the commitment. And I’m very big on commitment. I don’t go back on my word. So if I’ve said I’ll do something, I’ll do it.
I love what you just said, “I go back on my word.” So we don’t take action backwards. Going to take action forwards once you’ve given somebody your word.
That’s so cool.
Yeah. So it was once once I’d said, “Yes”, that was it. And it was something I wanted, right. So I already had a heart. My heart was in the game. This is something, my heart had actually playing the game for about 6 years. But my gut had been terrified. And there was no action, because it was a huge threat to my identity. You know, what if I, what if I put together this whole exhibition, and spent all this money and time producing it. And then no one showed. No one showed let alone bought anything, you know, that would just be the worst. You know, and then all of the complications about the how the, because I was so scared. And having that gut resistance, my head wasn’t in a place to actually take the logical steps. Like it wasn’t in a place to actually make the list of all the things I needed to do, to get the process right to get the emails out to actually invite people to, you know, to find out what you need to hang an exhibition, there’s logistical stuff. How do you actually get the stuff on the wall and get it to stay there? What’s the hanging system like? All of that sort of thing. My brain could not compute any of the logistics, while my gut was in, scared and terrified. So, you know, once I’ve made that commitment, somehow, I found the courage to bolster me, to support me, and once that courage sort of came to the surface, then I could think clearly, then my head and my heart and my gut were aligned.
Yeah. Yeah, that’s awesome. So really, what happens is, it’s possible for you not to have to think about all the other things in the decision making. Somebody has booked it for you. Now you’ve got to commit because you don’t get back on your word. So you have to take a forward step; the gut’s trying to work out, “how do I do that.” Getting the head involved in that time? It’s kind of like not necessary. It’s just like, let’s just overcome this and work it out and move on. The head involved later with the logistical stuff kind of also gives the gut a bit of a boost. It’s a bit of a pep up. “Okay. That’s how we take action.”
Yeah, it gives it some reassurance.
Yeah we’ve gotta hang this, we’re going to do that. Okay. There’s a solution to that, and people have done it before. That’s how it’s going to get done. So there’s one less thing you’ve got to worry about, and the guts got a… sort of be concerned about. That’s just got to get comfortable with starting to identify as an artist who exhibits.
Yeah, yeah. And actually saying that, you know, declaring that that’s what I was being. “Okay, I am being an artist now, not just somebody who dellies away in her back room, and, you know, has a bit of fun with colour.” You know, just saying “Yeah, actually, right now, this month. I’m an artist. That’s what I’m doing.” I don’t have to declare myself as that forever. But that’s, that’s who I’m being. I’m being someone who creates and shares what she does. And she’s allowed to be a little bit vulnerable in that process. That’s okay.
Interesting. So, you know, when I was preparing to speak for the first time in public; I went along, it was after my second bleed in the brain, so the second stroke. And what I did was, I joined with the National Stroke Foundation. And they, part of the role was going to be to go out and talk about stroke prevention and awareness. Share my story, share the statistics, and all that kind of stuff. And actually, I thought, that’d be great. Because I didn’t start from I want to be a public speaker started from I want to get out of the bloody house, I’ve been in the house for six months. I’m bored out of my brains, I want to get out. And it was going to meet some people that were similar to me. And you know, I was going to learn a new skill, but it was never going to be about public speaking. Then we got to that front room. Then we got to the room, and you know, me my personality, like, I like to talk a bit. And I like to stand out in a crowd. And I like to do all those things. I have no issues with people, the focus being on me. And the first time I got up to speak, I started to notice that my heart was racing, I was getting excited. And because my head had switched off, like there was none of the self denial, the self negative self talk, there was none of that stuff. “You can’t do this. This is not for you”, or that kind of stuff. And it’s interesting how they trained us to do a 1 hour presentation, they trained us by starting with the first minute. Get up and talk for a minute about yourself. I could talk for days about myself.
That’s putting the mark on the page. Yeah, you know, like I say start with it. Start with a page with something already on it.
Yeah. Could be your part could be someone else’s.
Nice. Nice, right. So…
There’s your minute.
I got up, spoke for my minute. And then what we’re doing. And I didn’t know then, because I hadn’t come across mBraining yet, was that we’re building neuronal structures. And slowly, as you know, we spoke more and more, the more we spoke, the more the neurons would connect, and we more would start to identify head, heart and gut in those spaces, the different parts that we needed to identify with to grow those structures. Start being a public speaker. But like you, I didn’t say that I was a public speaker or a spoke publicly or anything like that. People used to ask me, “what are you doing now? You know, now that you’re getting better?” You know, do this, I’m gonna do that. And sometimes I go and speak to people about stroke. I hadn’t started to identify as a public speaker or anything like that. And I don’t really know what that term means. I think that terms a bit weird. Yeah. So it took me a while before I got to the point where I was completely comfortable with being able to say, I actually am amongst other things, somebody who is a public speaker. Yeah. And you could book me for that, if you wanted to book me for that. What’s really interesting to see that your approach is extremely… I relate to it so much. And I’m talking about speaking and you’re talking about, you know, drawing. The fears were the same. “What if I say something wrong? What if I make a mistake? What if? What if, what if, what if, what if?” And it’s kind of like, there isn’t anything wrong that you can say you don’t have to relate to everybody.
In any process… Creative process, whether it is something like, you know, forming an opinion, and then speaking publicly, or doing a drawing and, or painting or taking a photograph and then displaying it publicly, there’s a whole lot of blocks along the way, in the process. Sometimes there’s just the getting out of bed believing that you are that, you know, that that’s what you’re going to do. Finding the motivation to get out of bed and be that thing, whatever that thing is, for the day, you know? Connecting with your passion, finding your heart in the game. Yeah. So sometimes, that’s the first block is getting up. The second block is actually making your mark deciding what it is that you’re going to commit to doing on the page or in writing or by speaking. And then the next part is being brave enough to find an avenue to share that, whether it’s, you know, booking the gig; where do you… How do you do that? Where do you go to book the gig? Who do you speak to? What contacts that you got to build on? What are they going to say, when you ask and present yourself? Are you going to wait for them to come to you? You could wait forever. Because no one knows that you do it. You know, so how do you promote yourself? All of that, there’s blocks everywhere. And recently, I worked with some young people in a band, you know, and they’re young musicians. They have got great, new material. But they’re sort of latching on to other people’s bands and doing the the sort of not the main show they’re doing the warm up, you know? And how do they get an audience and build the confidence? And maybe it is not being the main show in the in the beginning? I did group exhibitions. Well before I ever did a solo one. And I haven’t actually done a solo one in the last two years, I’ve been concentrating more on my coaching. And now what I do is these doodles, 5 minute doodles, and I just, you know, page after page.
Show us a couple of them.
Okay, so 5 minutes, is just, it’s a little A5 sheet of paper. And I just make a mark on the page. Colour it in and you can sort of see this texture. So it’s a scratch on, scratch off kind of thing. Here’s a hearty one. It’s just making marks.
Yeah, hat’s pretty that one.
And having fun with colour. Yeah, this is not particularly good for the radio audience. Is it?
No, but we will pop all the images on the actual page where I load the podcast show notes. So that people can go there, when I share it, they’ll be able to see it.
Yeah. So with these images, they are, I’m just committing to making a mock, and getting in the flow, being familiar with my own personal signature. So I didn’t create these images to be shown anywhere else. Or for anyone else. They’re just 5 minute de-stressors really sit down and just get whatever emotion that I’m dealing with out of me and onto the paper. So you know, I might be scribbling away furiously if something’s really annoying me. Or I might just be processing something with some, you know, more fluid kind of strokes, or dabbing, or stabbing or anything. They’re really moods on a page.
Yeah, I was lucky enough to go to the Guggenheim in New York, when we were there a few years ago, and the Pablo Picasso exhibition was on. We nailed it not because I know anything about art. But just because, you know, it’s Picasso, you’ve got to see Picasso’s stuff every once in a while. And we got there and… What I was amazed about was the amount of drawings that were there, that he had drawn. Paintings that he had painted, whatever. And a lot of the things they were stuff that he considered to be incomplete, or the test ones or whatever, like it was… They looked amazing. I mean, they didn’t, didn’t have any less to offer them the finished product.
Yeah. Yeah. Because you’re seeing, you’re witness to his thought processes and his feelings on the day. And actually, those raw drawings can be I think more emotive than the finished artwork. Sometimes they’re less labour intensive. They’re just raw. Raw emotion, raw thought.
Yeah, like, it’s just, it was brilliant to see that now what he considered to be not relevant or wrong, or whatever was actually being shown, and people were paying to see that and people were learning to see, you know, learning from that. And me who’s not really an artist in any way, shape, or form in that sense of the word like… putting stuff on paper? Even I thought that “Wow”, like, you know, that’s got a lot to offer. And I imagine that it’s got a lot of value now. Like, it’s extremely valuable. Even thought it was something that he could have just discarded, and he probably discarded tapes of them.
Yeah, incredibly valuable. It’s the inner workings of the guys mind, you know, you saying it in action. You’re seeing his process and action. Through those pages. It’s quite amazing.
Yeah. That’s what I find interesting. Like when I’ve been to your place, and I see this stuff on the wall. And when I see them behind you now, it’s kind of like, they’re no different. I get the same experience that I got when I was in the Guggenheim, I know, it was the Guggenheim, and all that kind of stuff. I didn’t do all of that, “Oh amazing, yeah.” Christine goes, “Let’s go to an art gallery.” And we bought tickets to every Art Gallery in New York. So it was just another bloody Art Gallery. And by the time we got to the Guggenheim was kind of like “Oh there’s a nice hot dog stand outside. I’ll go and get a hot dog”, you know. So I can see art anywhere. And I just get an appreciation for the effort that has gone behind what is actually on the wall. And I’m not talking about, you know, it took a long time to draw, I’m talking about all the stuff we’ve spoken about for 40 minutes, that’s makes it… that gets in the way of that thing actually being on the wall. And even though those things get in the way, you’ve overcome it, the artist has pushed through. Found ways to get beyond all of the shit, you know that they have to get beyond to actually put that on the wall.
6 years of resistance. 6 years of resistance saying I want to, you know, “I want to exhibit my art.” I’m kind of glad I did wait, because I was 6 years better at doing it. But you know, all that time and agony, it adds up. And to some, in some ways, it’s worth it. Because the emotion and the pictures, the result is really good. That journey is worth it.
So it’s what Grant says, I think he read that somewhere in a book somewhere and I’m not remembering it 100%, but it’s “what’s in the way, is the way.”
That’s right. That’s right, I wouldn’t have produced what I produced, had I not experienced what I experienced. Yeah. And the resistance. I mean, the stories like, like this woman that I’ve drawn with the “Take it easy” and on the skewers… That was me, that was an expression of me. I was feeling tortured about my own body, you know, the period stage of life that I’m going through, and the changes that my body goes through, you know, I’ve had my children and they growing up and almost adults and, you know, so all of the body not being what it once was… All the thoughts and opinions I now have about it, you know being dissected. It’s like, you know, putting it on a plate and picking it apart. Every day. It’s quite painful.
Imagine how amazing it would be if you could get somebody going through what you’re going through, to just actually have the awareness that we’ve just had, which is what on that canvas now thats hanging behind you, actually, is a result of all the problems or challenges that you’re feeling right now. So that if you don’t feel those things, you’re not going to be able to produce something. And that you need to have that experience, that negative experience or whatever you associate as potentially being negative, which is actually not negative. It’s just life. You’re in it right now, this is the creative part. This is how the struggle gets put on paper. That’s how you see it.
Yeah, so I don’t want to spend our whole life dwelling on stuff. On the past and what we did and everything, but acknowledging what we did, what we went through what it felt like. And what we got out of it gives us the power to choose in the future. Right. So you next time, you’re confronted by a difficult situation, and it resembles something in the past, and you get that feeling coming through your body, that tightness in your chest, or that rumble in your gut, or, you know, that squeamishness or butterflies, whatever it is, you’re either going to do things the same, or you’re going to do them different. But you have choice, you have a huge amount of choice, because you could have acknowledged what you learned last time, you know, the choice becomes wiser?
Is a piece of on a wall, like you have drawn; is that an acknowledgement of all those struggles? Is that what we’re seeing? An acknowledgement? And now that you’ve become aware of it, perhaps instinctively, at the beginning, you’ve become aware of it… You’ve actually taken it out, and you’ve kind of exercised that and you put it on a piece of paper.
Yeah, I think ultimately it is, but you don’t, don’t necessarily say that in the process. You know, like, when you’re in flow, and you’re drawing a good drawing, you’re just in the flow, it just feels right, and you go with whatever kind of comes through your body, whatever the emotion is, and, and your hand kind of moves. And you know, whether it’s moving in the right direction or not, you can feel it. Afterwards, you can go well, “that all make sense, doesn’t it?” Reflectively I’ve seen that before or felt that before. Because it becomes… I keep saying “part of your own signature.” So do you remember, when you first got your own bank account, right, and you went to the bank, and you had to sign your name?
In the old days?
Yeah. How much did you practice signing your name? You practice signing your name so many times to get it right. So that it could be consistent, right? Because if you weren’t consistent, they wouldn’t give you your money.
Yes, they wouldn’t!
They’d think you were forging it. You know, I’m thinking when I was a teenager, I was so desperate that I could sign my name consistently, so I could get money out so I could spend it. But that becomes your signature, you practice it and practice it, you live it, you do it over and over again, and it becomes a part of who you are. So it’s the same, the more you make your mark on a piece of paper, the more you develop your personal signature, the way that your hand moves… You can sign your name with your eyes closed, can’t you?
Yeah? And you could sign a little; really minuscule, little. You could sign it really, really big.
I reckon I would struggle with really big. I could make it bigger, but not really, really big. I reckon I could but I reckon I’d struggle.
Interesting, huh? Yeah. Have a play people. Have a play and see how well you know your own signature. Maybe not so well, because have you done it a lot lately?
See, that’s interesting, what you said is interesting. Because that actually does bring up a couple of things where you said, can I sign it really, really big; my signature? And that I’ve been playing small.
Cool. So just get a big piece of butchers paper or a whiteboard, you’ve got a whiteboard? Practice signing your signature nice and big. And just be bold and throw it out there. You know? That’s, that’s, that’s the trick.
I’m near that point where I have to play big. And I’m talking global, big. Yeah, I’m talking beyond a podcast that goes on YouTube and can be seen anywhere in the world. I’m talking about proper play on a massive global scale. Massive in the way that I make it sound in my head at the moment. I’ve got to build, we spoke about it briefly yesterday, I’ve got to build some of the technology behind the scenes to facilitate that. And I’m becoming impatient. But I’ve just noticed that it’s actually not only impatience, there’s a little bit of doubt, again, this little bit of “Oh my god, that information, people are going to think that you’re mad” or whatever. “There’s no market for that”, you know, all that kind of stuff. So I would struggle playing really big and signing my signature really big, because my signature now is, you know, kind of doing good and okay, stuff, but let’s not do too much.
Well, I’m gonna assert something here. I think you can sign your signature big. And maybe you just have to do something like you know *seal noises*. You know, be the seal, performing seal. Just throw it out there. Maybe close your eyes or do it with your other hand? I don’t know. Just something that interrupts it long enough for you to be… take that courageous step.
Yeah. Thanks so much.
Just look, have a laugh at yourself. But have a laugh at yourself and look back at what you already know. You know, like, you know how to sign your signature. You know how to sign it really small. You know how to do it medium, and probably do it like this. So really, what’s the step?
That’s awesome. What you’re saying, I really appreciate it. And I’m glad we had that conversation. Because it’s… I never expected that a signature would bring those things up in me; just a larger signature. It’s interesting, I don’t see it as the signature, the way you’ve described it, to me has gone beyond just writing on a piece of paper… It’s the identity.
Yeah it’s your identity, yeah. It’s who you know yourself to be. Yeah, it’s like, What does Bill Gasiamis stand for? Who is he as a person? And what knowledge does he have, that is worth sharing? You know, if it’s worth sharing on a small scale, why is it not worth sharing on a big scale? There’s enough people there in the world who want what you’ve got.
Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, there’s no difference really to sharing it, it’s just… I’m not sure. It’s just, I can’t really explain that, why we wouldn’t have time for me to go into. And this is not a coaching session, but thank you. But what’s interesting is that I’ve found myself more than ever before, surrounding myself with amazing people that have done it before that are doing the same thing. So like how do artists… Is there somewhere where artists can go and do that? Get together and kind of experience ways the other people have overcome blocks, or I imagine there would be little groups that people can find all over the place that would support you know…
Yeah, there are and certainly around the, you know, for the budding artists, the universities and colleges and things like that have support networks, big peer support networks. I’m not a large player in the art world. I’m a little introvert who hangs out in her own studio and does her own little things and struggles for 6 years to have a show. But, and my real passion is in the coaching. So what I do know is that coaching is one of the ways to get yourself moving and really getting over whatever the blocks are. If you can get some coaching and some mBraining coaching, that helps you align your courageous self with your passionate self, and you’re creative self, then, you know, that’s a huge step. That’s the way I’d go. Coaching was the thing that got me to go and book the date to have my exhibition. And then coaching again, was the thing that helped me take apart all the steps I needed to take to actually bring it together to make it work. Faultlessly work, you know, I think we had some catering issues. In the scheme of things. It was brilliant.
Awesome Davia. I think that’s going to be a beautiful way to end the episode. People want to get in touch with you, where can they find you?
Ah… lifedesignlab.com.au. That’s my business.
Excellent. And I’ll pop the links in the show notes as well. I really appreciate having the opportunity to chat with you. I really appreciate having the opportunity to be coached by you and to have my family have you in our place and help us get through some of the difficult stuff that we get through. You know, we had to get through.
But pleasures mine, totally.
Thank you so much. We’re was so better for it. And I just wish you well and I look forward to keeping in touch having these amazing chats because we’ve had a few of these that haven’t been recorded. And just thank you.
Yeah, it’s absolutely my pleasure. It’s an enormous pleasure knowing you and watching your family grow. It’s great. Really thanks for the opportunity.
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