March meet-up – The Art of Relating

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Uncertainty is the essence of romance” (Oscar Wilde). I love this quote and I think it should apply to all relationships, not just ‘romantic’ ones. The Art of relationships is unpredictability; meet new people, be spontaneous, do something different with your partner (go to salsa lessons!), take your kids on a new adventure & most importantly be present.

Before linking up with Psychologies Magazine, I had already planned an Art class for the March meet-up and as it turned out, it was the perfect forum to discuss ‘the importance of relationships’.  The Art class was set up so we could all ‘try something new’, ‘learn how to be more creative’ and ‘do something fun together‘!

The class was kindly taught by my friend Helen (an art teacher) ❤ who used the painting technique of  artist  Beatriz Milhazes as inspiration for our paintings. These are some of Milhazes’ prints –

Milhazes is a modernist artist who uses all sorts of materials including candy bar wrappers, large colorful paper, holographic paper, and paint; most of her artwork is done through collages. There is a lot of repetition in her work, especially with circular shapes. Milhazes’ work is playful, free, and psychedelic. Her style of painting was perfect for the project, because it is FUN, BRIGHT & PLAYFUL.

To create our work, we used interior paint tester pots Helen already had (she is in the middle of decorating), which was a great idea, as it means you don’t have to go out and buy expensive paints to create a masterpiece!!!  We all had fun painting our Milhazes style paintings and the time flew by. Helen said we all did very well (she was very encouraging) and these are some of our creations –

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I love a workshop, because they are a great way of connecting with like-minded people – you can ‘find your tribe’. It really helps to know there are other people out there with similar goals and interests as you.  You can make new friends at a workshop (conference, seminar, lecture) because you’re already compatible in at least one major area of your life. When I attended my first Action for Happiness lecture at Conway Hall I was unsure what other ‘happiness enthusiasts’ would be like. It was lovely to see how many other people are interested in ‘happiness’ and I felt ‘at home’ with these people straight away.

It is not always easy to find like-minded people and that can lead to feeling isolated and different; finding your tribe may not feel easy. I watched a programme the other night about Comic Con and I loved how all these comic lovers from all over the world come together to have fun, dress up and to express themselves (I now really want to go!).

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Dr Margaret Paul (Huffington Post) said ” If you want to find your tribe, then first you need to rediscover your beautiful core essence. Once you experience a sense of ‘at-homeness’ within yourself, then you will have an easy time finding your outer tribe”. We must know ourselves before we can find our tribe, it is easy to reject who we are and who we want to be for many different reasons. When we truly connect with ourselves we can start to connect with others.

While painting our masterpieces we discussed the questions from this month’s Psychologies Magazine regarding ‘connection’. I asked everyone “when did you last feel deeply connected to someone?” This question was difficult for some to answer, because the wording was quite strong. I explained that you may feel a deep connection with a friend, your child or a sibling. One member said she felt a deep connection with her 4 year old daughter while they played at the park the day before. We discussed the importance of having ‘quality time’ with the people we love , when we are truly present. Many of the members said they felt a deep connection with their immediate family and in particular, we talked about our love for our children. A few members brought their children with them and it was lovely seeing them having fun together during the meet-up.

Over the past few years, I feel I have developed a deeper connection with my sister. We are 7 years apart in age (I’m older), so our lives have always been at different stages, but as we have grown and had our children we have become so much closer – best friends ❤ .

Six Degrees of Separation – Helen, who was teaching the Art class, told me about how they do an exercise with the pupils at her school to see how they are all ‘connected’ with each other. This exercise reminded me of the theory of 6 degrees of separation. The theory contends that, because we are all linked by chains of acquaintance, you are just six introductions away from any other person on the planet (The Guardian).  I love the thought that somehow I am connected with everyone else on earth – especially Brad Pitt!! The members of CHP discussed how they are connected, two members who had just met at the meet-up recognised each other because their children go to the same nursery and another member knows my friend from her child’s swimming class – the world is smaller than we think!

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One of the pledges in Psychologies Magazine is to connect with a stranger each day. At a previous meet-up last year, when we were discussing Kindness, I came across an amazing project/piece of Art called ‘Art on the Underground’ by Michaal Landy. Landy is fascinated by the way we tend to disappear into our own bubble on the tube, disconnected from the people around us. One day, while sitting on a tube train absorbed in his own world, he suddenly became aware of two strangers, one trying to help the other. For Landy it was a life-enhancing event. He considered how easy it would have been for the person helping to look away and he wondered what inspires a stranger to be kind to another: what motivates someone to step out of their bubble and go out of their way to help a person they don’t know? He said being kind to a stranger involves sharing that sense of connection with someone you don’t know (Art on the Underground).

Since starting the Happiness Project, I have made a conscience effort to connect with more strangers and what I’ve found by doing this, is I feel less lonely. A day when I have not seen any friends or family could feel lonely, but I may have had a nice chat with a stranger instead! I met a lady today who was feeding the seagulls on the beach, the seagulls were surrounding her. When I spoke to her she said she loves living by the sea and said she has travelled the world but Walton on the Naze is her favourite beach – it was really nice talking to her.

I am going to ask the Chelmsford Happiness members to share their experiences of connecting with strangers on my Facebook page or share them on here x

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