Self Actualisation

Beautiful Bronze, Colour, Philosophy, Relationships, Soul searching

I was listening to the radio whilst driving the other day and caught a snippet of discussion about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which was a visual map about what motivates people. It was said that if undergraduates of psychology recall anything they remember the pyramid diagram of the stage model of five motivational needs. I smiled because, indeed as my psychology degree lies somewhere hidden underneath the blankets of motherhood and I could visualise the pyramid and it’s five stages , well I could remember the first being food and shelter and the last being self actualisation, what ever that meant.

The radio programme went on to discuss that Maslow, only listed 18 people who had reached self actualisation, including Einstein and himself I think. When looking at the characteristics of self-actualizers to write this, I think my husband ticks most of the list. He is so unbelievably motivated. On the programme they discussed that Maslow’s conception was someone who had a “heightened sense of awareness and reality” or “completely absorbed in an activity and don’t know time passing”. I would say this is totally my husband and could give countless examples. The thinking is all about “Possibilities not restraints” and the possibilities of change and of the human being. 

There are so many flaws with Maslow’s theory especially if looking at artists. Van Gogh lived most his life in poverty and probably didn’t have the middle stages but arguments have said he was self actualised. However, I would perhaps argue Van Gogh wasn’t, he was exploring his creativity and pursuing inner talent but without the support of the base of the pyramidal needs he wasn’t able to reach self actualisation. My instinct is to think that in order to reach self actualisation you must have worked through the pyramidal needs. To have actually experienced what it is like to not have had. If we are from a privileged background where the basic needs of food and shelter are not tested and we become complacent that they are a given, then reaching our potential is hindered. The drive the ambition is not likely to be as great.

I am so unmotivated, far from being self actualised, however I do think in my role as ‘Sculptors wife’ could be classified totally as ‘helping others to achieve self s’. Which could put me at the peak of the pyramid in ‘Transcendence needs’  in the revised version and eight stage model. Not that it’s a competition or anything! Unfortunately that puts my whole theory on its head. I rather like the idea of being transcendent though I could get motivated about that 🙂

I have just trawled through my entries to see if I have put images of this piece up before. I was convinced I had but it wasn’t where I thought it was and looking very different in my past entry. It had a face lift after the fire, it is still bronze but somehow giving it this cover links with the ‘branding’ of my husband’s work. It sort of symbolises motivation. You do have to take that leap of faith and take the step forward in reaching your aims. I think Maslow would be happy with this;

big step 1

‘The Big Step Forward’

‘The Big Step Forward’

big step

‘The Big Step Forward’

Love and other drugs.

Beautiful Bronze, Egyptian, Mother and Child, Relationships, Soul searching

Sunday saw the start of yet another bug in our household, a really nasty one that has my eldest and I still suffering on the sofa. So, it was nice to see this piece ‘Patience’ back home though restored after the fire and looking highly polished and reflective, looking very different to before. Patience, so needed when you are poorly. Especially as it was the start to the holidays and I had lots of things planned to do with the boys.

'Patience restored'

‘Patience restored’

This week’s illness has really taught me to be much more patient and gentle with my eldest soon who is ever so often fighting off illness. It has really taught me how to be a bit more ‘motherly’ in my care towards him. I am quite a believer in the body’s ability to naturally fight infection and also that it  is our bodies way of purifying. Not in a negligent way. I give the children calpol but when the doctor insist there isn’t anything stronger needed, I don’t really push for it. Although, I am starting to get a bit concerned about how frequently we get poorly in our household. When it come to being poorly I am all for the love and homeopathic approach. Perhaps also because it’s not long since that due to lengthy nursing and two pregnancies i couldn’t take strong medication. However, I have indulged in a Lemsip and a few adol (paracetamol) and that seems enough for me.

My sister-in-law in Egypt who is a pharmacist, really noticed the different approach when she was here in December sent me a message. She sent me  a message  asking how we all were, so I gave her our weeks account of our illnesses. She wrote to me, ” oh you poor girl, take one of the antibiotics’ I brought you and a pill for flu and an adol pill and you will be fine in an hour, you amaze me you English people with your patience about sickness!!! Move off the sofa and take meds now! I had to laugh I now understood my Husband’s lack of sympathy. He had told me to take medication. If there is a simple solution to a problem then that is the obvious solution. I can understand it, when you see your child particularly suffering you want to just get them better quick. In Egypt they can’t stand illness and suffering and pharmacies are a business where most sold items are medicines not cosmetics. My sister in Law thinks it will require 50 years or more till the medical system is one like here, “Souls are not yet so valuable”.

So I did a little research and here is why we don’t dish out drugs easily here….. “Studies from around the world have shown that between 40 and over 90% of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary. In many parts of Africa, where antibiotics are commonly available from unsanctioned providers, it will be worth educating the general populace about the consequences of irrational antibiotic resistance.” ‘Antibiotic Resistance in Africa’ (Iruka N. Okeke* and Anibal Sosa†)

The Department of Health in the UK advocates that;

  • Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at a rate that is both alarming and irreversible – similar to global warming.
  • Urge patients and prescribers to think about the drugs they are requesting and dispensing.
  • Bacteria are adapting and finding ways to survive the effects of antibiotics, ultimately becoming resistant so they no longer work. And the more you use an antibiotic, the more bacteria become resistant to it.”
  • Antibiotic resistance is not new, but more action is needed now to tackle this global problem if we are to keep pace with its development.” (Professor Dame Sally Davies)
'Patience'

‘Patience’

The UK is leading the way in responding to EU calls for action, with the development of a new cross-Government Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy and Action plan, which will be published by the Department of Health next year.
The strategy will champion responsible use of antibiotics, and build on ongoing work to:

  • slow down the development of antibiotic resistance
  • maintain the efficacy of existing antibiotics
  • develop new antibiotics and alternative treatments
  • investigate the link between antibiotic use in animals and the food chain, and the spread of resistance in people
  • minimise antibiotics entering the environment in other ways
'Paitence'

‘Patience’

So I do believe it has reason to exercise patience when poorly, strengthen our natural defences and immune systems but most importantly  in educating  and developing an understanding into the problems with using antibiotics. Sometimes the quick fix isn’t the best long-term solution. So despite the best laid plans for this weeks holiday and my initial frustration with having to stay put, I also learnt that some times laughter, lemsips and love are the best kind of drugs!

Challenges, Changes and Chocolate

Beautiful Bronze, Mother and Child
mother and child

‘Mother and Child’

Short and sweet today as this ‘Mother and Child’ piece has been written about before but it was one of the pieces damaged in the fire. It’s been highly polished to giving a golden shine. Sometimes things happen for the better even after something which isn’t so good. For some reason it makes me think of liquid chocolate. Maybe because it’s gold? Maybe more like golden syrup.I have totally over done the sugar today. Something to do with Pancakes and making a chocolate cake. My boy who doesn’t eat chocolate cake suggested we make one like the one in ‘Matilda’!. Great Treat though for my husband’s birthday which is today. I know many creative people born at this time of year. I wonder why that is?

I had started this entry a few weeks ago, but the challenge of writing and the challenge of running this year has not quite yet taken off. I blame the snow! The snow stage is hopefully  ending and spring will soon approach us. It so easy to blame something or someone else but the challenge is to master ourselves. The child in this sculpture is still a babe in arms and I am starting to feel this stage of motherhood is ending. It is sad, but change is inevitable. I love the baby stage but I see the next as giving me a little more time to master the challenge I set for myself. The motherhood challenge, well that is never-ending and answer to that is chocolate!

mother and c

‘Mother and Child’ restored (left side)

Wild from the woods

Beautiful Bronze, Connections, Making, Mother and Child

Not only does this beautiful bronze look a bit like earthy bark, both in colour and form but the whole piece represents me today. I am sat writing warming up with a cup of tea after a fantastic play in the woods with my youngest boy. It was all of those basic natural delights; fire, sticks, mud, fresh air. Finding Fungus, looking at leaves. Watching, observing, learning. Windswept and whiffing of smokey woods. We loved it!  Out in the semi wilderness this morning and braving the elements, I envisaged the cold that will come. I have got a bit to used to my creature comforts and it is too easy to forget that long ago people survived and still do from the outdoors alone. Foraging for firewood, finding shelter gathering berries, being connected with nature. When my little boy fell and slightly grazed his hand, the second injury of the day, he wanted some more cream as I had already coated his cheek in some hypercal, which has properties of calendula. I pondered on what would have been used as herbal healing treatment in days of old.

These images are the newly taken photos of a bronze I blogged about in one of my first posts. These images really show the smooth texture of the original clay material which my husband sculpted with his hands. Then cast in a patinated bronze which enhances the whole mother and child. A mother and child at one with nature.

“and though I had been taught in school that the wilderness of the world was cold and uncaring, unfeeling and ruled by tooth and claw, I did not find it so. It gave me all I have and began to teach me a truth I had not learned in school, a truth plain in it’s every line, and movement and turning. For nature does not know how to lie. It is such a simple observation that there are no straight lines in nature but it is a door into Nature’s heart”, Stephen Harrod Buhner.

Read a few blogs recently about this sort of thing;

a local one I just discovered and someone I used to work with.   http://www.annieberrington.co.uk/

Can’t find the specific entry I  was looking for but the whole ethos of this blog: http://knowthesphere.wordpress.com

Alone

Beautiful Bronze, Philosophy, Soul searching

'The Thinker'

This sculpture, from this angle looks like a Japanese mask. Warrior like. Powerful. Strong. Alone.

In 1997 I spent 6 months in Japan. It was the first time I left home and I was on the other side of the world. Although I made lots of friends and worked there, so was  settled in a routine, it was the first real experience of being alone. I definitely experienced loneliness rather than homesickness. On my days off work I would sometimes go to the local shrines or the ‘apple cafe’ to draw. I remember  on a walk up a mountain, and on resting, lying down on my back and seeing a circle made from the tall trees above me. Then watching a single swallow flying across the sky. Like a Haiku poem. I realised I was alone.

As a teenager, I do think I dwelled upon the world ‘alone’ being a lonely place. Now in adulthood, being literally on my own is almost a luxury. So when I do have the time to myself I relish it. I find strength in it. There is peace and contentment to be found in being with yourself. Which leads me to my next question, are we ever really alone?

Whether we are the only planet which inhabits life is one big question of being ‘alone’ or ‘not alone. For me, another more profound reason as to why I am not alone is my belief in God. We watched something last night that resonated with me. The idea that those who don’t believe in a higher being or struggle with the concept, need to have an absolute proof, a certainty that there is something ‘greater’, ‘a creator’. For myself, having had almost, a before and after experience. I feel that believing in something is not just simply a comfort, as it then brings up so many more struggles and challenges.

Yesterday, our eldest boy was having a conversation with a friend of ours.

 “Alien’s don’t exist” our boy said.

“How do you know? Asked the friend.

“Because in my dreams about space I don’t see any aliens”

I was amused and intrigued by this exchange. He had logically thought through, that if he didn’t see them (in his dreams) then they didn’t exist. Proof of children’s ever-changing states of mind, the number of drawings we have of aliens almost disproves his own argument. (I think he has seen them in his dreams!)

It made me think about the arguments:

Do we really need to see things clearly to know they exist?

Does finding comfort in the idea of a creator just stop us from thinking we are alone?

Or, do we struggle with the idea of being alone because when we are, we are forced to think more deeply about whether we really are?

The Art of Listening

Beautiful Bronze, Philosophy, Relationships, Soul searching, Steel
'The Thinker'

'The Thinker'

'Sliced'

Contemplating the difference between networking and friendship, I wonder if, listening is a fundamental difference. I am not one for blowing my own trumpet but I would put listening high on my list of skills. Although, being silent whilst another person speaks does not always mean ‘good listening’.

I have become increasingly aware that having three male voices to listen to in my house, quite often all at the same time, I may add; I have developed an art of appearing to be listening whilst often thinking a million and one other things at the same time. Isn’t that what most of us do, really, if we are honest ?

It is quite rare I think for a man to be verbally descriptive about what happens in their day. However, even in his second language my husband vividly describes every detail of what happens in his eventful days. Which is fantastic. I can almost imagine I am was there with him. So, on his return from London the story he told me of the Debut Contemporary Exhibition opening was as colourful as his sculptures. It can be hard to concentrate and to properly listen, something I am not doing too well at the moment, but if we do we can reap the benefit.

Joel Kramer, “The Passionate Mind” describes ‘the art of listening’ brilliantly. I have often looked at this to remind me of how to take on board new information.

“Ordinarily what we do when we think we are listening is to take in the words, translate them into something we know or are familiar with,and then agree or disagree.

If the words fit our structures, our beliefs, the things we feel comfortable with, the things we know then the speaker is a wise man and we agree.

If the words do not please us, do not fit our structures and beliefs, do not give us pleasure, then the speaker is a fool and we disagree.

That is what most of us do and call it listening.

But if we are either agreeing or disagreeing, then we are not listening.

For to listen there must be an openness, an innocence, a putting away of old ideas, so that possible the fresh can come in.

If you are busily involved in either agreeing or disagreeing, and you can watch yourself doing this by the way you nod your head as you listen, then what you are doing is not listening at all,

and the new, which is the fount of growth and learning, does not come in.

Walls and Webs

Beautiful Bronze, Connections

The big step forward'

Ever get that feeling that someone has read your mind? Are we all connected by some invisible thread weaving us together?

The world-wide web connects us in so many ways. For my husband, Facebook is like a meeting place for artists. The old greats would meet in some Parisian coffee shop or art expose. Much cooler and artisan, in my opinion. Today’s modern equivalent is the internet. The terminology and ‘speak’ that goes hand in hand is amusing and somewhat confusing to those who are not ‘plugged in’. “Get off my wall” one teenage said to another as they sat next to each other with phones in hand.

I don’t completely understand the difference, but my husband now has a public Facebook page. So take a look at my husbands ‘WALL’. We haven’t ventured into the world of bird speak . Perhaps, that’s yet to come. Although, I am a little more apprehensive about twittering. On his return from London we have made some improvements to his website too www.samshendi.co.uk .

Considering we live in small village in North Yorkshire my husband has a strange way of being very ‘in vogue’. Last year he painted our showroom in vibrant greens which was, a colour which was few months later, ‘on trend’.

‘The big step forward’, a beautiful bronze piece has come alive since being professionally photographed and is symbolic of the stage we are in at the moment.  His practice has moved on from the kind of pieces above and has found himself again in the middle of what magazines are suggesting is in fashion.

I wonder if there is some subliminal connection between creative types, their thought process and ideas. In the world of fashion (London fashion week this week) it is all researched and analysed to predict forward trends…still not quite sure how they do that! Perhaps, there is some hidden webs tangling the talented together.

Awakening

Beautiful Bronze, Egyptian, Mother and Child, Relationships

'Mother and child'

 2012 so far has been a little sleep deprived. I think colds, teeth and just general comfort are the main reasons my baby keeps ‘waking up’ at the moment. For me it is on top of 17 months of sleepless nights so it is starting to take its toll. However, I know this whole period doesn’t last long and I am sensing already a ‘waking up’ from the comatose state of baby days. As the baby grows into a toddler it also feels like a ‘waking up’, so much more active. Walking, babbling, playing..less sleeping during the day! Their senses awakening to the world around them.

I was heartened to read two articles recently which confirmed my own method of sleep and motherhood. It is amazing how just another person agreeing with you gives you the confidence to feel stronger in your own stand point.  I was lacking that confidence due to the fact that I am very aware that in a western society the idea of co-sleeping with your infant is ‘not the done thing’. We are programmed some how through media and community to put the baby in a crib and then a cot in the nursery. Affected by my maternity in Egypt both my boys have slept in my bed. It has been so much easier for a variety of reasons, if not simple due to lack of space, but also I have found dragging myself out of bed so much more tiring as it ‘wakes you up’.

Despite the recent snow and ice there are subtle signs of spring. Life is also waking up slowly as the crisp winter mornings are un-curling into sunnier spring afternoons. We continue to have awakenings throughout life, we have to be ready to unfold into them.

'Mother and child'

'Mother and child'

‘What a waste’

Beautiful Bronze, Philosophy

I haven’t written for ages and it has been so long, so much has been happening on a daily life level that hasn’t given me time as such. In some ways I have had more time as I have been at home housebound whilst my eldest son recovers from having had his tonsils and adenoids out. I feel like I have been a wasting time, being slow and sedate at home has made me a little less motivated. What has been happening globally sits really well with my husbands most recent piece.

In fact, in the news the other week they put two items side by side that really highlighted the philosophy of this piece. ‘Will and Kate’, the newly wedded royals on their first tour took in Las Vegas and tables were selling at some astronomical figure…..to wine and dine, so they showed images of the glitz and glamour. (OK – it is for charity but that isn’t quite the point here)  The next item was the suffering in East Africa as a result of the lack of water, as a result of the civil war…..I will let you think of the meaning from this piece without giving too much more ; (‘The Diner’ . Bronze . 2011)

'The Diner'

'The Diner' - close up

'The Diner'

Friendship & Perspectives

Beautiful Bronze

'The Missing'

We have missed the sunshine for the last few days, it has felt like it was constantly raining. Such is the English weather. Our Swiss/Egyptian friends were staying with us gave us a holiday from our usual routine. The smell of coffee filled the house, we had the Egyptian news on in the background, a number of languages being batted about and various discussions alongside eating far too much food!

It always amazes me how we are all the same in so many ways but can lead such different lives, have alternative viewpoints. I used to think we should look for friendship in people who were the same as ourselves. However, the beauty of friendship is to gain from someone else what we lack in ourselves and appreciate what we have. We can’t have it all and sometimes others can play out another lifestyle for us. It’s important to spend time with others to listen to another point of view, understand that our way is not the only way. I felt a loss as we waved them goodbye, but now it’s a time to be on our own again to reflect.

The sun has ironically come out now they have gone  and I had my wisdom tooth extracted this afternoon. I was so nervous. I was asked by the dentist if I wanted to keep it but I decided not to. The idea felt at first like a piece of me was going to be missing. At the moment my mouth aches and something inside the cavity is annoying. It will soon heal over and hopefully my discomfort will go. Sometimes we need a little pain, a little missing, in our life in order to understand the comfort. A different perspective on things can only make us stronger.