What’s your secret Disney Identity? Disney films and characters as a self development and motivational tool (3 min read)

I was recently asked if ‘You were a brand what brand would you be?’ ‘What brand would describe your personality?’ Wow great soul searching questions and the answer? I would be Disney. (And seriously for a natural conscious earth respecting hippie like myself I was shocked at this however the fact remained that I as a brand I would be Disney.) Creative, playful. A Walt Disney quote is even one of my mantras “If you can dream it, you can do it”.

The more I thought about it the more I wondered why is it that I connect so much with Disney? And the answer came to me relatable characters, adversity  and bravery to follow their dreams and stories that connected with me at the right place and time in my life when I needed to hear a particular message.  Honestly the Little Mermaid was me at 11, rash and daring, Belle at 14, desperate to go out into the world and escape my small town life, Mulan the warrior facing and winning against all the odds inspired me in my partially homeless 20s and Tiana now in my 30’s determined to create my dream into reality. I have been a constant Peter Pan all of my days, with the optimism of Winnie the Pooh and lived all of the fears and bravery of Piglet. And not forgetting Up, the film that inspires and epitomises my dream of a true love and partnership.

Most of us have a favourite Disney film and a favourite character. But have you ever thought about what your connection to that story and character is ? (Apart from your tshirts, mugs and cuddly toys either hidden about the home or proudly displayed.) Every story we have heard or seen  and remembered has affected us on a conscious or unconscious level. As we feel drawn to a character we admire them, their personality traits their resilience. I mean who wouldn’t love to have Rapunzel’s effectiveness in housework chores. Seriously though these characters we love display qualities we wish to possess or mimic. For example take my connection with Belle. She didn’t fit in, neither did my 14 year old self. She didn’t seem to care and stayed determinedly herself, my 14 year old self desperately wanted to do that. Belle made sacrifices for her father who she loved and put his needs before her own. Something I have always done (although the latter was not a healthy experience it did teach me a lot). Her story is as much a transformation as the Beast’s and oh didn’t my bespeckled, teeth braced awkward self want the transformation from bookish outsider to a loved and appreciated beauty.

These films, these characters we identify with have messages for us all throughout our lives if we look for them. Recently I re-saw Beauty and the Beast and I was shocked at the power of my emotions. Honestly I was crying and afterwards when I looked at which songs I had been so moved by I realised that my life situation at the moment was reminding me a lot of my teenage gawky school days as I now face my recent Asperger’s diagnosis and living in an entirely new place. The film helped me see the challenge clearly and from that I have now been able to work with it.

Try watching your favourite Disney movie. Make notes of where you feel emotional pulls. Who do you identify with and why? How does this character, plot line relate to you now or in the past. Journal this and see if you can find a teaching in the message the film has given you. (And sorry no I cannot be more specific the message is yours to interpret I can’t guide you there, just keep looking until you find the answer).

Disney characters can also be used as a way of identifying our ideal personalities. Now please don’t get me wrong I am not saying any one Disney character is absolutely perfect, they are not. However as I mentioned before they have qualities we admire that we would like to see in ourselves.

Think about the qualities of your favourite character. What do you admire in them? Write a list. Now look at each quality ask yourself how am I like this? If you cannot see this but would like to then ask yourself ,how can I bring this quality into my life?

Many years ago I found out quite by accident that not only can Disney character’s help us learn about ourselves, they can also act as motivators and inspiration. A girlfriend was in a bad situation. She loved Pocahontas. So I, in my desperation to help ,asked what she though Pocahontas would do. To my surprise her body language took on a different quality. Her head went back and she knew exactly how her favourite character would have handled her situation. So I told her to connect with her inner Pocahontas when she need the bravery to face her problem. A few days later she was on top of the world and the problem was on her way to being solved! I have tried this time and time again and I have always found it works. We just find it easier sometimes to think through another’s perspective and character. Plus when we think of them we smile and feel good, which just goes to show Disney is doing what it does best if it can evoke that feeling even years after we have seen a film.

Or maybe it is as Tinkerbell said “Imagination has no age”. So allow yourself to connect with your inner child and find your secret Disney identity this week. Allow the magical kingdom to open doors and pathways to healing, understanding, bravery, imagination and empowerment whether it’s from a mouse, a fairy, a princess, a stuffed bear or simply a warthog <3

 

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Turn your Monday frown upside down in three inspiring and hilarious steps!

Mondays uggh! Some days you just get out of  the wrong side of the bed. Today I had it on overload. At 3 minutes to 8am I was done. Even after spending time going through my gratitude list and my positive affirmations 3 secs later something new just annoyed me. Nothing seemed to be shifting my irritable negative cloud. I could have quite happily returned to my bed and slept until the weekend – you know the scenario.

So I started to think about what could make me feel better, what can you do to turn around a monday frown upside down when all the odds are against you? The universe kindly responded by showing me and now as I am sitting here writing to you I am buzzing with energy and dancing along to Don’t Worry Be Happy! (Surreal to think if I had heard this song this morning it would have bugged the heck out of me). So what’s the secret? It’s really simple and easy to follow. If you want to turn you Monday frown upside down and enjoy the rest of your day in spite of getting out of bed on the wrong side follow my three simple steps kindly taught to me today by the universe.

Open up and breath

I know this is the tough part. The last thing you want to do when you are annoyed or irritated is to stop being annoyed (humans, such weird creatures we are). However  if you want to feel happier you need to take charge internally and open yourself up to the possibility of shifting your mood.  And one of the easiest ways of doing this is power  meditating.

I have tried a lot of meditation and always struggled with it however power meditating is the most simple  and shortest meditation/affirmation technique of them all! The concept is simple. Just as a quick power nap freshens the body a quick power  meditation freshens the soul – I found this technique here at Mind Body Green (however the name is from yours truly).

Basically you focus on your breath and breath deeply into your belly allowing it to relax and become soft. Then begin internally repeating to yourself, “Breathing In, I calm myself. Breathing out, I smile.” And you keep doing this until you find you begin to smile. The corners of your mouth start twitching and as you smile you feel better and open for an improvement in your day.

Be creative and release your inner creative child

Children get the better deal. Hours of playtime, oh don’t you miss it. Especially the hours we all spent with paint brush or crayon in hand creating scribbly, wibbly stick men masterpieces to be lovingly displayed on Mum’s fridge. On a crappy day allowing yourself the freedom to doodle, draw and paint the way you did all those years ago (not so long ago for some of you) is absolutely the best medicine.

Why? Because creativity clears the mind. It craves focus which prevents you from being caught up with negative or stressful thoughts. The other equally important part of creating in childhood is that it involves interacting with colour. Colour is all around us but unless we have been lucky enough to follow a creative career path we often stop interacting with it in our adulthood. Colour impacts our moods, our feelings and our behaviours. Best of all our interpretation of colour is completely utterly personal, No-one in the world experiences and reacts to the different colours in exactly the way you do. Stands to reason that interacting with colour liberates us unconsciously.

Step two is simple – Be Creative. However I don’t want you just to be creative, to get rid of your bad mood. I want you to be as creative in a childish way. Small children don’t care. If they make a picture they love it, because they enjoyed making it. They have freedom to express their creative potential because they don’t compare themselves and their abilities with everyone else’s. Something we have all forgotten how to do.

Now I don’t mean you should regress completely and allow your inner child to take over your workplace. However an hour of childish artistic freedom works wonders on any black cloud day. I was lucky today. I got a few hours to paint and stick and glue, in an art class (the wonderful perks of studying human development means you get these kind of opportunities). However if you are at work I get that it can be challenging to suddenly get the crayons out and begin to make stick figure drawings. Luckily the recent fad for mindfulness colouring books and zentangling has made grownup colouring much more socially acceptable, plus it is a great way to be creative without having to initiate the process of the drawing. The first chance you get today grab some paper, draw or make some time to colour. Don’t get caught up in being artistically perfect, get caught up in the experience of playing with colour and the freedom of creating. No matter what it is you make, your inner child will think it is wonderful and if you end up smiling who the heck cares what you drew! (And if you really don’t want to be artistic on paper, another easy and fun way to be creative and interact with colour is Lego. I am serious. And the bonus is that there is always some small child in the world very happy to take it off your hands when you have done the making).

Be stupid and play

Do something stupid. I don’t mean stupid in the buy 100 lotto tickets way, I mean stupid the way you did when you were small. Play. We as adults are incredibly self conscious and caught up in what other people think of us. Getting out of our stuff and doing ‘something daft’ (as my mum would say) is not just a liberating experience for us but for everyone around us. The important factor here is to make sure whatever you do is physical and has absolutely in no way at all a connection to your adult life (which means going to the gym does not count).

Start a paper aeroplane competition, have a pillow fight, jump in puddles.If you dare

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Miranda daring to be daft !

go bigger and follow the wonderful example of Miranda Hart in the BBC series “Miranda” who makes the enjoyment of living alone an art form. The picture says it all…

 

If at all possible do something daft with friends, it makes you laugh more. Today in my second class of the day I was to be found wearing a giant rabbit costume whilst we reenacted a nursery rhyme dance as part of a demonstration of a cognitive and creative development activity for children (again the opportunities of studying human development).

The unexpected byproduct of this experience was the  liberating effect on the adults taking part. Suddenly dressed as fairy tale characters and dancing around playing a game each of the adults came out of their shells. It was a sight to behold.

However as you may have hidden your Buzz Lightyear costume in the darkest recesses of your loft I recommend instead of watching the news tonight getting out the Twister. Nothing lifts the mood like entangling yourself in an impossible position and howling with laughter.

And if nothing else there is always the option of dancing around like a ninny in the kitchen to your favourite music.

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You may notice that the universe today provided me with an experience of childhood which I am recommending to you. To be honest returning to a child’s world perspective, getting out of yourself, ignoring your adult mental constrictions and having a few hours playing and creating, reminds you why life is worth living and it makes sense. Try it (even if you think it sounds bonkers) you will see what I mean.

Combine the acts of breathing, creating and being stupid and I guarantee you that your Monday (or any day of the week) frown cannot possibly remain.

Life is our own adventure so choose to make yours a fun one!

 Have a fantastic week , got to dash I’m off to have a disco in my kitchen (Cue Abba “I am the dancing queen …..”)  

Happy Monday 🙂

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#lifelessons101 –  Life without play is just existing (And why I like to play with wands… Expelliarmus!!) (2 min read)

This weekend I will be donning my purple wig, grabbing my leather jacket, putting on my battered old army boots and heading on the yearly Odense Harry Potter Festival. That’s right I am going to be playing Tonks and Mr T will be Lupin, complete with scar on face and a stick on moustache ( which I know he will be complaining that it itches within 30 seconds of the glue being dry! That’s just his way of having fun).

So why, I hear you ask, is  38 year old women going to spend her entire weekend roleplaying in a fantasy world? The simple answer is because I can! And why not? As kids we have our fantasy button turned on constantly. A stick becomes a wand, a laser gun or lightsaber- do you remember that feeling of it being so real to you? I do. And I am so glad I do. So what happened to us  between then and now? Who turned off that switch? Well I am sorry to say you did. Society judges adults that like to play. Less and less I am happy to say, but unfortunately there is still judging dogma around it. Apparently it’s not mature to play lightsabers, it is not socially acceptable for adults to play. (Unless its Bridge playing Bridge is socially acceptable). The big problem is you believed them. And the more you believed them, the more difficult it was to turn on that fantasy switch until one day you couldn’t  find it again. And even worse because you believed them, you even begin to judge the adults that happily still play on the swings.

If you have found yourself in this situation it is the universe trying to poke  you with a giant stick. At this point my friends, you need the lesson from one of life’s wisest creatures. The baby.  Babies are humans in their most raw form. Happiness in a baby is a beautiful thing. Life to a baby is a beautiful thing. Babies are great they eat, poop, cry and sleep when and where they want to. And when they are not doing the above they are observing and laughing. Babies aren’t afraid to try something new. “Hey who knows what will happen if I put my foot in my mouth, it might taste good.” They don’t care if someone tells them a game is stupid. If it is fun they are going to do it anyway.

And so should we. We have, as far as we know, one life on this planet. One beautiful life to live to the fullest. And you are going to stop doing something you love just because you are apparently too mature. Surely this is the definition of insanity! Get out there! Go play, laugh , dance and feel joy! To forget to play is to forget to live, without it we just exist. Play makes the memories more beautiful and laughter come right up from the belly.

So go out this weekend and find your inner you and do something fun. Something your younger self would have enjoyed. No one knows when the day might be your last, wouldn’t you rather that in that day you had laughed, danced and had moments of pure joy. I know I would. So have a blast this weekend doing exactly what it is that makes you happy. For me that is going to be running around with wand in hand all weekend challenging other equally happy folks to a magical duel.

Have a wonderful playful weekend!

Expelliarmus!!

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(P.s Please note this article is written to those who have forgotten to play. I know there of many of you still out there that love childish play and to you I hope one day I mee you on the swings, *cos I know I can swing higher than you can 😛 !!)

Change is just another word for adventure

changes gives you the oppertunity to grow

Change happens around us every day. We all go through life changes puberty, marriage, old age. In natural world the process of the seasons transitioning is much quicker than the natural changes is in our lives. Conscious change(when we know it is happening), can be one of the scariest processes of all. Conscious change can often be unexpected and a sharp jolt in the journey in our lives such as a death, a relationship breakup or even losing our jobs. Or it can be planned a wedding, a pregnancy or moving home. No matter how conscious change comes whether seen as positive or negative, our natural reaction comes with fear and anxiety and often stress.

In 6 days I am making one of the biggest changes in my life. I am moving away for the life I have created for myself over six years in Copenhagen and moving to Jutland to begin living with my boyfriend of two years, the wonderful Mr T. Now although this is a happy moment in my life and one I have dreamed of for, well two years; I am shocked at the amount of fear and anxiety I am feeling. As always I want to understand and work with these feelings to grow from them. So over to my favorite resource google and in my research I have found it is actually a perfectly normal reaction to life changes, no matter how pleasant they may be. (Yey! I am normal not an emotional overreacting wreck losing sight of perspective and sanity!)

Biologically when we face change our bodies get into fight or flight mode. Chemicals and hormones and adrenaline start to race around the body and we stand in the middle like a rabbit in the headlights. The body can’t actually differentiate between physical threat and the stress of change. Great, and I thought I was just concerned about being packed on time and having enough space on the trailer.

Fortunately there are ways of coping with change in a positive way. Here are …….tips I have found to help me and you cope with changes in ours lives.

Acceptance

It’s ok to feel afraid, anxious or stressed don’t beat yourself up about it. Remind yourself this is a natural reaction to the change in your life.

Identify your fears and feelings

Write a list of your fears and feelings. When you identify what your challenges are you will be able to see where you can resolve some of these things and where you have to accept them. I have used part of the serenity prayer to help me with this process.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Find the opportunities to grow

Every change creates new opportunity to grow. Sometimes it is hard to see but the loss of a family member can bring a family closer, the loss of a job the oppertunity to find something better for you. Think back over the major changes in your life. How did these changes give you opportunity to do something positive in your life? Again make a list of all the opportunities this change will create for you. Remember this big change is just a phase of transition and you will find a rhythm in your life again.

Make a plan

Of course this is not always applicable . If it is applicable make a plan of how you will respond to this change. For me I found this list was actually much bigger than I expected and really helped me feel positive about the coming change.

Use your support network

It is ok to ask for help, to talk through your fears with your family and friends or even if you feel comfortable within a help forum. If you are moving there are so many ways to keep contact with loved ones email, phone, Facebook or even the old fashioned letter. If you need help it is a good idea to try and identify how you need help. For example I have asked Mr T to be especially romantic and loving this week to remind me how lovely it will be together forever.

Do what makes you feel happy

If exercise is your thing then do that, drawing do that. It’s good to relax although when fears are getting the better of us it’s good to relax in a busy way. Don’t forget to watch your favorite films and at this time yes it’s its ok to eat some of your favorite comfort foods too!

Reaffirm to you that this is a positive experience

Affirmations are a fantastic way of tricking the brain into a new thinking pattern Every time your brain tries to go into your fears tell it NO. Then fill your brain with a positive affirmation. You can use the following or create your own, and keep it simple

“I can do this”

“Everything will be alright”

“All is well in my life”  

“I am willing to change and grow”

If you find it challenging to say an affirmation I find it helps to pick my favorite to print out and put up at home or use it as a screensaver.

Remember that the nervousness won’t go completely away, however I found that by using these steps it does help the nauseous feeling in your stomach turn into butterflies and now I am feeling excited about the coming change in my life . After all change is just another word for adventure…….