If, like me, you are feeling creatively blocked or petrified by the thought of drawing “badly”, I highly recommend grabbing a pen or pencil and scribbling whatever your eyes fall on first. No more than 1 minute. Just do it!
Even if the result is unrecognisable, I promise you it’ll be very liberating!
Remember, no one has to see it. (Unless, like me, you have several social media accounts and poor impulse control!) 😉
I was inspired to make this piece while contemplating the little gold charm bracelet that I’ve worn almost every day for over 20 years. It struck me how little it would be worth to anyone but me, as the true value is in the meaning attached to each individual charm, all the memories preserved and provoked when I look at them.
Each charm has a complete, standalone story of its own, and when linked together on a single chain they become part of an even more intricate and meaningful whole. A metaphor for life, really, as who we are is the sum of our myriad parts, all invaluable.
I have always had a “things” drawer in my kitchen, a Purgatory for random objects that don’t fit or belong anywhere else. Some are waiting to be useful again, some waiting to be repaired, some waiting for their pair to show up, and some have been in there so long that the outside world has forgotten they exist.
This things drawer has been moved from rental house to rental house over the years, and i thought it was time to explore it. Spending so long with each random piece, cleaning it, preparing its surface and gilding it, then linking them all together was quite an amazing experience. Every single seemingly insignificant castaway had a story to remind me of. Every single thing had once had purpose, played a part in my life. Remembering the tiny ways in which each object had served me over the years prompted all the surrounding memories to surface. I was able to see patterns and links and make sense of the chaos. It was just the start of a very important and ongoing process.
For as long as I can remember, creating art of any kind has been been more about the process than the product. Even as a child, I didn’t draw to replicate what I was seeing, but to explore things emotionally. I was acutely aware of how what I saw affected me, and how what I was feeling affected the way I saw. For example, a donut would look very different to me depending on how hungry I was. When not hungry, I’d be more relaxed and inclined to notice and wonder about all the various ingredients, colours, shapes, textures, smells and tastes. I might even notice how the light reflects off the individual specs of sugar; the contoured edges of the glossy frosting; the spongy, rounded surface of the golden pastry…
When starving, I’d simply see a doughnut.
When I produce a visual representation of my internal chatter, I can see things more clearly. My muddled thoughts start sorting themselves into orderly queues instead of simultaneously clamouring for attention.
To put it another way: imagine hundreds of oddly shaped, different coloured Lego bricks scattered across the floor around you. Sharp little boobytraps everywhere you look! Each individual piece unidentifiable as anything other than part of the one big, insurmountable MESS. You can’t step in any direction without hurting your feet.
It is easy to become so focused on getting rid of or around “The Mess” that you fail to see The Bigger Picture. You might even find yourself paralysed (Procrastinators Unite!) stuck to the spot, awaiting rescue.
But what if you were to stop for a minute, crouch down, give each and every little brick your full attention; start sorting through them, finding connections and piecing them together…? You might see how each seemingly insignificant piece, while not of much interest or use on its own, transforms into something entirely different when it’s linked to others. Each little piece plays a vital role in constructing The Whole. By the end of the process, you’ll still have the same number of oddly shaped, different coloured bricks as you had before, but now there is cohesion and clarity, and more space in which to manoeuvre (For the techies: think defragmenting the hard drive on your computer)
To all those people thinking “But I don’t have time to sit around all day playing with my problems! Hand me a broom!”, think of all the time that you’ve already wasted trying to avoid doing emotional housekeeping.
So that’s how I’d describe the art-making process; forcing myself, despite the discomfort, to slow down and confront the chaos, start picking through the minefield in my head, treading carefully to avoid detonation! Examining and fitting together seemingly random thoughts and feelings until I find a common thread or an image starts to form. Because everything is related. No thought, however trivial, meaningless. Everything matters. The answers to most of my questions are hidden somewhere amid the jumble, so I just keep sifting and sorting my way through it, without any real sense of direction, until I have what I call an “AHA! moment”.
And then, there’s ….
Have you ever tried catching a feather or leaf that’s fluttering about on the breeze? The more you wave your arms or move your hand, the further away it will get. That’s what it feels like for me when inspiration is just out of reach. The AHA! moment comes when I have managed to grasp an idea. Then, the the hard part is over.
When in that creative zone, known as “the flow”, my mind becomes very still. I’m no longer chasing or running or flailing about desperately trying to make sense of things. I am completely tranquil, opening myself up, letting those fluttering objects drift down and settle upon me. I loose all sense of time and space, and switch into cruise control. Emerging from this flow state feels like waking from a dream, only I’ve brought something tangible back with me. A souvenir from my subconscious.
Externalising my thoughts and emotions in this way helps me gain better understanding of them and how they affect me, but it also makes my internal world accessible to others. Exposure to scrutiny and criticism absolutely TERRIFIES me, and makes me extremely vulnerable. So why do I do it??
Because my deep seated longing to make authentic connections only very slightly outweighs my paralysing fear of rejection.
It’s something I find difficult to write about without feeling a tad wanky, but there you have it.
The struggle to find the G-spot and achieve the mythical “vaginal orgasm” is real. Books have been written on it; sex therapists have explained how to stimulate it; even Cosmopolitan magazine has tried to instruct dutiful readers how to find it.
But a review published this week in the journal Clinical Anatomy may just halt all of these fruitless quests with the conclusion that neither the elusive G-spot nor the vaginal orgasm exist.
“Like most things that are about sex, people get very hot and bothered on either end of this, but I really can’t say from my clinical practice that I’m at all convinced that there is a G-spot,” Dr. Gail Saltz, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital and author of The Ripple Effect: How Better Sex Can Lead to a Better Life (who was not involved in the new review), told The Huffington Post. “I think that a lot of women are very frustrated trying to attain something that may not be attainable.”
Scientists have yet to prove the existence of a G-spot.
In their Clinical Anatomy article, Italian researchers Vincenzo Puppo and Giulia Puppo stress the importance of using the correct terminology when discussing female sexual organs and women’s capacity for orgasm. They write that the so-called G-spot, a term that refers to a pleasurable spot located inside the vagina in the pelvic urethra, doesn’t exist — rather, every woman has the capacity to orgasm if her clitoris is stimulated. As such, the term “vaginal orgasm” is incorrect and “female orgasm” should be used instead, they argue.
The original research on G-spots, led by Addiego, who coined the term after German gynecologist Ernst GrÃ¤fenberg in 1981, was based on a woman who “identified an erotically sensitive spot, palpable through the anterior wall of her vagina.” When the area was touched, it became larger and the woman reported increased sensitivity, pleasure and a desire to urinate — all of which led Addiego to conclude “the orgasms she experienced in response to the GrÃ¤fenberg stimulation felt much the same.”
However, the new review points out that the woman also reported that, at the time of testing, she had been diagnosed with a grade one cystocele, a condition in which “the supportive tissue between a woman’s bladder and vaginal wall weakens and stretches, allowing the bladder to bulge into the vagina.” The resulting side effects of cystocele, the authors argue, make the woman a poor candidate for the basis of a sexual theory with flimsy subsequent medical proof.
Neglecting the clitoris and emphasizing the G-spot may be why so many women don’t orgasm.
Despite previous studies, the researchers say the vagina has no anatomical relationship with the clitoris. They write: “The correct and simple anatomical term to describe the cluster of erectile tissues (i.e. clitoris, vestibular bulbs and pars intermedia, labia minora, and corpus spongiosum of the female urethra) responsible for female orgasm, is ‘female penis.'”
While the concept of a “female penis” may sound strange, the clitoris and penis have quite a few similarities when it comes to sexual pleasure, starting with their shape (see the illustration above), and that increased blood flow causes their spongy tissues to engorge as orgasm approaches. The problem is, much of the unerect clitoris isn’t visible — it may be up to 9 centimeters long, according to a seminal paper on the clitoris published by Australian urologist Helen Oâ€™Connell in 1998.
The majority of women don’t experience orgasms during intercourse, so having a clear understanding of what’s going on down there — and how to refer to it all — is important for women seeking sexual pleasure, said Saltz, especially when it comes to wiping out the shame that comes with feeling “broken” because of an inability to orgasm.
The clitoris “is not just sticking out in plain view with a clear directions manual, so that means that a woman has to be familiar with herself, having looked and understood and experienced,” Saltz said. “Then she has to transmit that to her partner in a way that’s comfortable for both of them, and it isn’t always easy.”
But mapping out female sexual pleasure is an issue that extends beyond climax.
The new research adds to the already-fervent debate on female sexual pleasure, which spans beyond the medical sphere and into the realms of social activism and art.
Doctors offer G-spot-enhancing procedures, a practice Jeffrey Spike, a bioethicist at Florida State University’s College of Medicine, equated with “medical fraud” in a 2007 interview, adding that “the G-spot belongs in the same category as angels and unicorns.” (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also called out these procedures for the lack of data on efficacy and safety.)
Aside from clinical opponents of the “vaginal orgasm,” artist Sophia Wallace attempts to dispel misinformation about female sexual organs through her “Cliteracy” project, which uses street art and her “100 Laws Of Cliteracy” to inform women and men that female sexual pleasure is not only possible, but an important step toward gender parity in society.
Women need to prioritize finding out what works for them.
Since the male penis itself cannot stimulate the clitoris during intercourse, the researchers recommend masturbation, cunnilingus, partner masturbation or using a finger during vaginal/anal intercourse to make sure the clitoris isn’t forgotten. But Saltz also noted that much of the recent data on female arousal centers around how a woman feels psychologically, rather than physically — feeling “loved,” “attractive” or “safe.”
As for the women who do claim to achieve orgasm from “G-spot” stimulation? More power to you, Saltz said (well, in a nutshell). But she also said that being so singularly goal-oriented toward orgasm may not be the most direct route to pleasure.
“The way that we talk about it in society, many women feel that [orgasm] is what they’re supposed to do and that that would be the supreme success of the encounter,” Saltz said. “But most women do report that it’s the closeness; it’s the shared intimacy; and, of course, the physical arousal is pleasurable by itself.”
That said, Saltz added that she was surprised that these findings debunking the “vaginal orgasm” are considered news at this point.
“The G-spot is an issue and there are definitely people who feel strongly that it’s real,” Saltz said. “But I think that women who are fairly sexually educated know that their clitoris is where it’s at, so to speak.”
After returning from a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia, 24-year-old Edinburg resident Daniela Liverani started having persistent nosebleeds. This carried on for weeks, but she assumed they were due to burst blood vessels caused by a motorbike crash two weeks before arriving home. Even as she felt the parasite wriggling up and down her nostril, she thought it was a blood clot. After all, “your initial reaction isn’t to start thinking, oh God, there’s obviously a leech in my face,” she tells BBC Radio Scotland.
She made the realization last week while showering. With the heat and steam, her nasal passages opened wide, and the parasite started poking out, nearly reachingÂ her bottom lip. “So I could kind of see it out of the corner of my eye but still didn’t think it was a worm because it just looked like a blood clot,â€ she tells BBC. “I jumped out the shower and I unsteamed the mirror and I had a proper good look, and I could see little ridges on him.”
Hospital staff removed the leech with tweezers and nose forceps, and they appeared equal parts horrified and intrigued. â€œIt was agony,â€ she tells Daily Mail, â€œwhenever the doctor grabbed him, I could feel the leech tugging at the inside of my nose.â€
It was nearly eight centimeters (around three inches) long, or â€œabout as long as my forefinger and as fat as my thumb,â€ she tells Daily Record. She and her friendÂ nicknamed the leechÂ Mr. Curly,Â since it was probably curled up and nestled cozily in her nostrils.
A public relations worker was â€œquite surprisedâ€ to find he was the richest person on the planet after PayPal mistakenly credited his account with over a thousand times the worldâ€™s GDP.
Chris Reynolds, 56, opened an email from the online payment site to find his account balance was $92,233,720,368,547,800 â€“ or $92 quadrillion. The total wealth of the world is estimated to be just $200 trillion.
Reynolds, from Pennsylvania, told the Philadelphia Daily News: “At first I thought that I owed quadrillions. It was quite a big surprise.”
But the huge windfall didnâ€™t last long as after logging on to the site Reynolds found his balance was back to $0.
Had the transfer been upheld, the father of three says he would have been sensible with his money. Reynolds said: “I’m a very responsible guy. I would pay the national debt down first. Then I would buy the Phillies [Philadelphia’s baseball team], if I could get a great price.”
The gaffe left Reynolds in a charitable mood and he donated $30 to his local Democratic councillor, despite not being a quadrillionaire.
Reynolds, who owns a public relations firm with his wife, has been a PayPal customer for about 10 years and uses it to buy and sell items on eBay, including vintage car parts. He said he usually spends no more than $100 a month using PayPal.
The Lotus in a scene from ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. Picture: RM Auctions
IT is one of the most famous cars in the history of the movies and when it goes under the hammer this September it could fetch over a million dollars.
But the James Bond submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me nearly sank without a trace.
The customised Lotus Esprit was forgotten about in a storage container in Long Island, New York. It only came to light after a local contractor bought unseen the contents of the container in 1989, paying less than $100, according to a report on CNBC.
When the contractor opened up the container with his brother he found the white sports car without wheels and with a dented roof.
“They really didn’t know what it was at first,” said Doug Redenius, co-founder of the Ian Fleming Foundation, which authenticated the car.
Not knowing the value of his find he loaded the car on a truck. It was only after other truckers told him over the CB radio what it was and he had rented the film and seen the car in action that he realised the value of the find.
Mr Renedius told CNBC that eight different versions of the car were driven by Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me. This one will be sold by RM Auctions in London on September 9.
Â The submarine car was lost in storage for many years.
Previous James Bond cars have fetched millions at auction. A 1964 Aston Martin used in Goldfinger sold in 2010 for $4.6 million.
Mr Renedius described the current owner as â€œa blue collar guyâ€ who makes â€œa very modest livingâ€.
“I told him, I said ‘Come September 9th, be prepared for your life and your wife and your children – your life is going to change dramatically,â€ he said.
Actress Angelina Jolie has revealed that she has undergone a preventive double mastectomy to reduce her risk of cancer. Her mother died from cancer aged 56.
Angelina Jolie has revealed that she recently underwent a preventative double mastectomy.
The actress, whose mother, Marcheline Bertrand, died of ovarian cancer in 2007, was tested to see whether she carried the ‘faulty’ gene that increases a woman’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
“My doctors estimated that I had an 87 per cent risk of breast cancer and a 50 per cent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman,” Ms Jolie wrote in a op-ed piece published in The New York Times.
“Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimise the risk as much I could.”
Ms Jolie’s treatment began in February and finished on April 27, with the procedures remaining secret until the Oscar-winning actress chose to go public by penning a first-person piece on her decision for the Times.
“I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” Ms Jolie, who is 37, wrote.
“Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into peopleâ€™s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.”
In her article, Ms Jolie detailed the various stages of the medical procedures involved with a mastectomy, including the major surgery, which she said “does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film”.
“But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life,” she wrote.
Tests not covered by Medicare
Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in Australia, with one in eight being diagnosed by the age of 85.
However, hereditary breast cancer is rarer than many people think, with only 5 to 10 per cent of cases occurring in women whose families have a gene fault.
A clinician at the hereditary cancer clinic at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, Lesley Andrews, said in Australia the test for the mutations was not covered by Medicare.
“Genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 is individually funded by each hospital,â€ she said. â€œThe criteria for women to be offered testing usually includes that there is at least a 10 per cent chance that a mutation will be identified.”
This usually meant a woman would have two or more relatives diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, with one aged younger than 40 when she developed the disease.
If a woman was not covered under the hospital policy she could pay for the test herself, which usually cost about $2500.
The head of the breast cancer risk management clinic at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Kelly-Anne Phillips, said about one in five Australian women found to have the breast cancer gene mutations went ahead with a preventative mastectomy.
“Having a risk-reducing mastectomy is the most effective way of reducing risk,” she said. “It can take her from an 80 per cent risk of breast cancer to aâ€¦ lower risk than an average woman.”
Chief executive of Cancer Australia Helen Zorbas said outcomes from reconstructive breast surgery could be â€œextraordinaryâ€, with no obvious outward signs when a woman was in clothing or swimwear.
She said most women who chose to have preventative surgery chose to have a reconstruction.
“However, women I have met who have chosen not to have reconstruction are equally happy with their decision in terms of their mastectomy because they have reduced their anxiety and concern about their risk of breast cancer,â€ she said.
Despite the mastectomies and subsequent breast reconstruction being a difficult process, Ms Jolie said she was pleased she had gone through with it.
“The decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they donâ€™t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer…
“For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.”
A MICHIGAN judge whose smartphone disrupted a hearing in his own courtroom has held himself in contempt and paid $US25 ($24) for the infraction.
Judge Raymond Voet has a posted policy stating that electronic devices causing a disturbance during court sessions will result in the owner being cited with contempt, the Sentinel-Standard of Ionia and MLive.com reported.
On Friday afternoon, during a prosecutor’s closing argument as part of a jury trial, Judge Voet’s new smartphone began to emit sounds requesting phone voice commands.
“I’m guessing I bumped it. It started talking really loud, saying ‘I can’t understand you. Say something like Mom’,” he said.
Judge Voet has used a Blackberry mobile phone for years, and said he wasn’t as familiar with the operation of the new touchscreen, Windows-based phone.
“That’s an excuse, but I don’t take those excuses from anyone else. I set the bar high, because cellphones are a distraction and there is very serious business going on,” he said. “The courtroom is a special place in the community, and it needs more respect than that.”
Over the years, the judge has taken phones away from police officers, attorneys, witnesses, spectators and friends.
During a break in the trial, he held himself in contempt, fined himself and paid the fine.
“Judges are humans,” he said. “They’re not above the rules. I broke the rule and I have to live by it.”