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  • Here's why your surrounding matters

    I realized the value of leaving home and getting fresh air when during the pandemic. I’m a homebody you see and I was working from home before it became the new norm. Even though I went out occasionally. I never really did think about its importance of it till the pandemic. I realized what it actually meant to get some fresh air. I guess you don’t pay attention to small things till the freedom is taken away. When someone tells you, ‘Hey this thing you’ve been taking for granted is no longer available’ That’s when you start regretting stuff that tends to mount up and implode. Life can be weird that way. I’m actually writing this article at a café, well the first draft of it anyway. I never really thought I’d be writing an article about it too. But here I am. Of course, I understand the basic idea of getting some fresh air but if I had to be more specific about what I inferred about it, is that your environment and surrounding plays a huge role in your mood shifts, thought process, creativity. If you’re going to be in the same environment time in and time out, odds are you’re going to go through a funk, feel unmotivated, uninspired, and slowly don’t find the physical energy to improve your situation. Artists I’ve worked with tell me that’s when they go through a creative block. For creatives and artists, the environment can be everything. Sometimes, the walls no matter how pretty, start to close in on you and even if everything around it is pretty amazing, constantly being in the same place can cause your mood to change and cause severe burnout. My experience with the environment and surroundings is related to my burnout. I know I’m going through one when all of a sudden, I stop going out. I start binge-watching shows instead. Sometimes watch the same stuff even while eating. I feel so loud in the head that I feel it’ll explode. I don’t see myself smiling and physically feel as if I’m carrying the weight of the world. It takes me a whole two to three days to understand that I’m going through stress and burnout. That’s when I force myself to make an effort to get ready and leave home. Once I’m out everything changes. I always imagined how powerful those women must feel when taking their books and laptops to cafes and getting engrossed in reading or working and the onlookers can’t help, but wonder what must be so interesting in that book or what must they be working on so intently on their laptops. I always found it quite attractive and inspiring. As silly as I sound, I wanted to be that! I’m on the other side today, I’m the one with my laptop, typing away intently on this laptop, with people looking at me wondering who am I and what must I be doing and honestly, it hardly makes a difference. I feel important to an extent, but the allure isn’t about power in my experience. It’s about the surrounding. I don’t know about those women. Maybe it was about the surroundings too. I do love to write in a café. Surrounded by strangers doing their own thing. I don’t have to talk to them but I like that I’m not lonely. I love the idea of coworking spaces cropping up so creatively nowadays. As an introvert, it’s a dream come true, to just smile at a stranger, do my work, leave when I want. Don’t you think so? Maybe you’re wondering ‘this isn’t going to solve my problems’ What is the point of this article anyway? You’re right. It won’t. But that’s not the point. The point is that your surrounding plays a huge impact on your mood. It changes the way you feel, think, understands, and experience. That’s the reason so many people travel, they save up, so they can travel! They’re looking for a change in their surroundings. I remember having a conversation with a client a while ago who didn’t give herself permission to go out or try a place she could work from. She didn’t see the point. I completely understood. But I could also see how harmful the effects could be in the long run. I remember when I was trying to improve my writing or at least understand how I felt about it, I had a meeting with someone in the creative field. He told me, ‘Your creativity will never flow if you’re going to have only one view. You need to step out and explore. You need to see colours that are unfamiliar to you. You need to see faces you may never see again. You need to have conversations that are beyond everyday life. You need to break the pattern of routine. It won’t make you a better writer but your creativity will flow. It’ll expand and your perception of life will change drastically. And for that, you need to go out and get some fresh air.’ It obviously never made any sense to me at that time. So, I didn’t give it much thought. But slowly I realized what he meant. It wasn’t about just going out and spending money. It was about exploring and opening your mind to amazing things you didn’t know existed. But the point is, to do that every day, almost every day. Have you ever experienced a moment when you felt trapped and claustrophobic? Maybe not literally, but with your situation, your thoughts, your mood? At that moment, did you ever just step out and change the scenery? Met someone new? Observed other people? Do something other than locking yourself up? That liberating feeling is what helps us move past the slump. It makes sense that it’s impossible to do that every time you go through a slump or if you have a full working day. But don’t allow these reasons (read: excuses) to stop you. Here’s what you can do – Go out if your work permits you to go out. If not every day, try to go out every other day. Make it mandatory. If you can’t work outside, try to take your lunches or dinners outside. Go out. If you’re a business owner, entrepreneur, freelancer – try to take your meetings outside. Can be close to your area, can be a small place but try to take your meetings outside or rather in-person. Even at home, change your workplace from time to time. Sitting in one place can cause boredom and burnout. If going out is not an option at all, try to create an ambience at home, especially when you work. Any kind of ambience that works for you or you want. This may seem simple, silly even. But something that you may consider as insignificant as your surrounding will play a huge part in your day-to-day life. Burnout is easy and very real. It creeps in on you when you least expect it. Or want it. Stagnation easily happens. It clogs your mental wellbeing and creativity. I’ve worked with designers, creatives, artists, who have always told me how important the surrounding is for them. How easily they lose touch with their creativity and experience mundane ideas because they’re stuck due to their surroundings. They deliberately go for a walk, change their scenery for better creativity and ideas. In the short run, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. It hardly counts or matters but in the long run, it has a huge effect on you. I read. I read fiction. And a change of scenery. Blending in the storyline of other characters gives me a reprieve from my burnout, my stagnation. That’s how I realized the importance of getting some fresh air, even if for an hour. Choose what works best for your fresh air based on your life. Try to actually give this a try. It will help in your burnout, perception, and creativity. I’m not sure if this concept and idea make sense to you. But if it does resonate with you. If you’ve had an experience you’d like to share. Please feel free to write to me. I’d love to know more about your experience. Journals that can help with this -

  • Benefits of visualization by writing

    I received a text a few weeks ago. This text made me so happy. It made me fall in love with the idea of writing even more. A client with whom I’d worked in the past wanted to let me know about something miraculous that had happened in her life. Back when we were working together, she desperately wanted something, she would often cry over it and it was very heartbreaking to see her this way. I knew there wasn’t any active way to help her in this situation. It was beyond my help and all I could do was help her relax, listen to her talk about the disappointment over and over. But I was determined to help her in some way that would give her at least some hope, relief, and direction. During one session after she yet again talked about the thing she so badly wanted, I made her do an activity. She was reluctant at first. She didn’t think it would help but we did it anyway. Here’s what we did, explaining it to you, step by step First, I made her take a piece of paper and a pen and asked her to write down about this thing she wanted. In great detail. She told me she felt weird to see it in front of her eyes, as it kept reminding her of how she doesn’t have it. Second, we changed the way the sentences were framed. Instead of ‘I want we changed it to ‘I have. We framed the sentences in a way that she already had the thing she desperately wanted. Third, I asked her to describe it, in writing, the way she would in her mind. I asked her to write about why she wanted this, how was it going to make her feel, how is she living with it every day. Lastly, I asked her to keep writing this in her journal every day. Once during the morning and once in the night. I informed her that she could not miss a single day under any circumstances and that she needed to do this very medicinally. I knew this was a gamble. I knew this was based on consistency and patience. And my client had a problem with both. She was not only getting impatient but losing faith. She tried for a couple more days and got tired of all the writing. Nothing was happening. She told me she was done with this dream/goal and that it was time to face the reality of the matter. As long as my client was in a healthy space, I accepted her decision to move on. Things got better she did start to focus on other things and she looked happier, peaceful, calmer, and more focused. But she would always mention this dream of hers so very fondly. Something told me she still had some hope left in her. But I didn’t want to nudge her regarding this, not unless she wanted to do something about it. Our session ended. We both got busy in our lives. A couple of weeks ago, she sent me a text. In this text she told me about how she couldn’t give up the idea of her dream, she decided to do the only thing she thought made sense. Try the writing visualization once more. But this time, she had nothing to lose, she was calmer and more patient. She bought a journal, especially to write about this dream of hers. And every day, just like we discussed, she filled them up with her dreams. Just like a painter paints a picture, only she used words. Each day, she would take her cup of coffee, her journal and just lose herself in that world. She confessed that she wasn’t sure if it was going to work but writing about it as if it’s already happening, gave her so much relief. She told me how her words changed the scenario every day. How she got better at understanding this dream of hers. How each day she used to look forward to this writing. She filled pages and pages, notebook after notebook. In her words, she wasn’t obsessed with her dream/goal but writing about it made her fall in love with it, something that she believed was missing back then. Some weeks ago, things regarding this dream started to happen. And over time they’d come to pass. Albeit not exactly how she had written them but it was pretty similar. However, she told me it was so much better than what she had imagined or written. She told me how she used this visualization practice for other things that had come to pass too. But when this happened, it was almost miraculous and something she had to and needed to share with me. I was so grateful. It was unbelievable but I’ve used this technique several times and know the science behind the power of repetition has on our brain, mind, thoughts and choices. So, I had no difficulty believing it. But I knew consistency played a major role here. She wasn’t a writer she found the task of writing quite boring but I guess in this case, it was all she could hold on to. So, she powered through. I understand this approach may not be as soothing as my client’s experience was. Believe me, my experiences have also been pretty sour and tedious. But I do believe that the elements at play here are clarity, repetition, and perseverance. The outcome is rarely predicted to be affirmative or positive but writing down our dreams/plans/goals tend to help us envision them with better clarity. You certainly don’t have to be a good writer to pen things down. They can be simple although descriptive, in a language that feels comfortable to you. The main ingredient here will be patience and not forget faith that it’ll work. I can’t tell you how long this can take, so just to experiment, try with small wishes and hopes. See how they work for you. And the way they make you feel. As long as you’re 100% sure about what you want and descriptive about the way you visualize it, it could work for you. Here’s what will help – Make sure about what you want Why do you want it? Instead of focusing on how you get it, focus on how you feel once you get it Focus on that feeling of achievement as much as you can, paint a picture about that feeling. This experience is different for each person and takes a lot of practice for the belief to kick in. But there’s absolutely no harm in trying. I hope this helps you in some way. If you happen to practice this, do write to me or dm me on Instagram. Thank you for reading. If you liked the article, don’t forget to like the heart. All my love, Nikita

  • In conversation with - Namrata Baruah

    If I take you to my cabinet, most of the collection of mugs I own and use is made by Namrata. I am obsessed with her work and I feel fortunate to have seen her journey from an intern at slow pottery, to her own studio, and her recent upgrade to a new studio, to now taking classes for teaching pottery. I'm inspired by the way she is so secure about her work and the mindfulness with which she makes each piece. Her style is so unique that it's easy for me to spot an aware studio piece now. Each time I use a mug made by her, I automatically feel calm and there's a sense of solitude. I knew it would be super inspiring to feature Namrata's story from the first time I bought her mug. And here we are! I hope her story encourages you to not only become a potter but anything you wish to become. Perseverance and feeling secure with whatever you do and create are what I took from her story. Q - Hi, please tell us a little bit about yourself I am Namrata Baruah, from Bangalore, India. I have worked as a banker, grown and scaled an NGO focussed on youth mentoring and after 16 years, finally, have decided to nurture my creative side professionally. After an episode of severe burnout, back in late 2019 - I left my last job and my career in the development sector. It was during this phase of recovery that I tried pottery for the first time in September 2020. Since then, there has been no looking back! I loved it so much that I didn’t think long and hard before deciding to build a career as a potter. Pottery has helped me work on my mindfulness and the beauty of it is too hard to let go of! A little more about me apart from my newfound love for pottery - I love scuba-diving; am an ardent coffee-lover; a ravenous foodie; nature admirer; got the travel bug - love spending hours in art /history museums. I also am extremely fond of behavioural sciences, take a deep interest in photography and get excitedly involved in board games. If you ask my friends & family to describe me, I am certain that warm, talkative, obsessive, kind, conscientious, intense are adjectives you’ll hear loud & clear! Q - Was it always your dream to become an artist, if not how did you make the choice? I have always loved art & craft - though forever slotted for leisure time. Do you resonate with it?! The conditioning of most of us youth growing up, I believe, has been that success equals a fancy white-collar job, which in most cases implied being an engineer/doctor/banker and the like. Art was a leisure activity - the idea of perusing the same with the intent of building a career out of it was alien to me. It took me longer to get rid of this conditioning. Friends who challenged similar old-fashioned mindsets and who went on to follow their creative dreams have influenced me in breaking my stubborn ideas of a successful career person as a creative! Having said that, my first step towards a creative career was mostly out of chance. When prompted by my therapist to practice mindfulness, I took to pottery. I eventually decided to build a career out of it owing to two primary reasons - first, I truly appreciated how clay humbled me and kept me centred. I became increasingly eager to further explore my relationship with it. Second, I know that I thrive in new and unexplored environments -most recently, my tryst with the development sector help me realise that. So I decided to commit to building a career as a creative professional - a studio potter - why not?! I knew it would keep me on my toes for the longest time; allowing me to explore, learn, express limitlessly. Elements I seek in my career, I deemed, would be an ingrained aspect of a creative career; took the plunge! Q - who or what was your inspiration? Took me a little time to pen this one down! When I decided to invest in a new career, the newness of everything that surrounded me kept me engrossed and excited. But then slowly, with days passing, for like any budding potter, it dawned on me that my work was not marked by anything that screamed me. What direction did I wish to take as I embarked on this new journey? I sat down to think. It soon occurred to me that I had an opportunity to marry my newfound love with my strongest love, food! How could ceramics influence a diner’s dining experience - I became curious about it! The first thing that would come to one’s mind is (I am guessing!) - “oh! make tableware/kitchenware then” - functional pieces to be precise. True. Indeed. But not limited to just that. I knew a range of other aspects that have contributed to astoundingly remarkable dining experiences for me. I got inspired to explore the same. The shape of a ware, its colour and size aren’t factors that alone influence the taste of a dish - everything on a dining table and in a dining room could. I realised that as a ceramist I found a massive playground to play around in - with a singular objective of alleviating the experience of eating a delectable dish! So yes, food and the field of gastrophysics has been my inspiration so far Q - Please tell us about your milestone journey, especially the difficulty you faced? Milestones so far have been my first sale to an individual outside of my network of friends & family, realising my dream of a fully functioning studio, taking on the role of a teacher/mentor in this domain and launching my brand. Difficulties mostly have been a product of my mind - thoughts and ideas. Confidence in self, imposters’ syndrome, taking on too much, lack of self-care - these and other behaviours are what I have been fighting. But from the business point of view, figuring out nuances of things like running a studio efficiently, packaging ceramics, building a customer database etc have been trying endeavours. Q - As an artist, what is your process like? How do you prefer to work? What projects/subjects are your favourite? Currently being focused on functional ware, I often start working towards any prototype of a ware after secondary research online. What shape, what colour, what size, what texture would or could influence the food that will be served on it / eaten from it. In my early days, when I bumped into research by Stewart, P.C., Goss, E. “Plate shape and colour interact to influence taste and quality judgments” on how judgments made on simple elemental properties (sweetness and flavour intensity) and higher-level compound property judgments (food quality or food liking) were shown to be differentially influenced by the interaction of plate colour and plate shape - I got glued to this science. Ever since I spend abundant time in the design process of the ware. Once I have a few options shortlisted, I work with clay to arrive at ideal weights and then processes that will help me realise my designs. Q - At this point in your career, are you happy? 100% Q – What are your future plans regarding work? Too early to comment on BIG plans - but I am certain I want to keep learning, keep sharing and keep growing with my community members. Q - If someone read your story and wanted to follow in your footsteps being inspired by it, what advice would you give them? Listen to yourself. Stay curious. Reflect & Introspect.Act. Q - Do you believe in dreams? Absolutely! They drive motivation for me which in turn translates into positive actions. You can find Namrata's work and buy her pieces from her Instagram page - @a.ware_studio

  • Celebrate what you have done

    Podcast Episode - 12 I think it’s perfectly normal to keep setting goals and the urge to constantly keep moving is universal. I’m not here to tell you to not have goals and dreams. I’m not even going to tell you to slow down. But I do want to take a minute of your time and tell you, remind you rather, to reward yourself for what you’ve done. This reward could be as simple as getting a good night's rest. I also want to add here that the reward we’re giving to ourselves is not after we accomplish something, it's for making an effort. Quite often we attach rewards after an achievement. I used to think this way as a child and for a long time as an adult too because only after I had accomplished something or achieved something, I was appreciated, acknowledged, and rewarded. I didn’t think the effort was something that required celebration. How can you celebrate effort without reaching its end goal? Effort holds value only if a milestone is achieved. That’s what we have been taught. But the fear of not accomplishing pulls us down. We don’t even try. We’re terrified of disappointing ourselves more than anyone else. We’re afraid that we’ll judge ourselves before anyone else does. And that disappointment is not pleasant. It’s devastating! I don’t remember how I realized that without effort, nothing is possible, so each time you make an effort, you need to celebrate it. But when I did, it made me feel so confident and good about myself. About trying something I was afraid of or uncertain about. It took me a long time and sometimes even today I have to remind myself that I need to appreciate myself for every step that I take. I needed to celebrate failure and setbacks too. Because the point is about celebrating what I did and not whether I achieved or failed. So, I’m here to remind you that if you are hoping to celebrate, don’t wait for the result, celebrate the effort you put into it. No matter what that may be. Celebrate the effort and start again. Celebrate and start again. I hope you take some time out to celebrate today. If you do, I'd love to hear all about it. Write to me at Journals I recommend for this - Thank you for listening! If you've been enjoying listening to the show here's how you can support my podcast: Rate the show on Spotify Share the episode with a friend or on social media My Shop - Here's how you can stay connected with me: Instagram - Subscribe to receive new articles - All my love, Nikita

  • Why your journey is just as unique

    As someone who posts quite regularly on social media, I get many messages from people who have told me this – ‘I wish my life was just like yours, you seem so focused, happy, successful. I wish I had it easy like you do. I wish I could buy stuff like you and charge like you. I wish I had the confidence that you have and I wish I could be as courageous as you.’ Let me confess, these are quite beautiful and flattering comments. I’m also happy to say that I receive them, pretty much on a daily basis. But I also feel as if I’ve deceived you unintentionally because my life is not all that perfect as it seems to most people. I’m just as disorganized, unmotivated, lost, confused, disappointed, sad, and my life is pretty difficult on most days. But because I don’t share that often on social media, it naturally looks easy. I’ve often had a similar misunderstanding about someone else’s life too. And I’ve always hated the metaphor, ‘the grass is greener on the other side' It only wanted to make me go to the other side, even more. I understand how easy it looks, but has there been a time when you managed to get to the other side, only to find out, it’s even tougher? I love writing. I enjoy the process of writing. But writing is tough. Sometimes the words just don’t flow. Sometimes the sentences don’t make sense. Sometimes, it takes twice the effort. So, each time I would listen to a podcast, or audiobook, it made me feel as if that was so much easier and wouldn’t it be nice if I could do something like that? I mean it's so much easier than writing. Right!? So, I got started and got to recording podcasts. Yes, initially it felt easy. I just have to speak, I said. But as the days went by it started feeling burdensome. Just like it does for my writing when it’s a bad day, creatively. And to be honest, writing came so naturally for me, almost effortlessly, whereas this required a lot of conscious effort and most importantly, didn’t feel like me. It felt good to get it out of my system. Since everyone talks about podcasts and how cool it would be to have one. It felt really nice to try it. But I knew I couldn’t live in that space for longer. And soon, albeit slowly, I started writing again. And each time I experienced a day where I tried to look for something ‘easy’ more ‘inviting’ more ‘interesting’ I paused. Took a break and got back to writing, slowly and it got better each day. The more I think about it. My life has been this way too. I’ve often confused myself between inspiration, escapism, and imitation. It can be very easy to get influenced by those who have it all and make it look so effortless. “Why can’t my life be so easy and simple, just like theirs?” Quite frankly, if you do a 360 turn, you’ll notice how someone else is saying this about their life, by looking at your life. Don’t believe me? Laugh all you want! You’re probably wondering ‘My life!? Seriously?’ yes! Your life. I know this sounds way too philosophical than it probably is. But it doesn’t make it any less true. And that’s the point of my article. I don’t know your story. I don’t know which phase of your life you’re currently in and what impact it has on you. I understand the temptation to simply want the life someone else is living. The one that feels ideal to you. But what if your journey is a lot less difficult than they had? Would that make a difference with the way you see your life? Probably yes. I’ve often needed to search for motivation and inspiration more times because I receive setbacks very easily. I’ve often been so swayed and charmed by how beautiful something looks on the outside that I often get lost in the illusion and forget to draw a line at inspiration. It’s so common. Most creatives