Thursday, June 24, 2010

Good Things Come to Those Who Ask

I subscribe to Jack Canfield's newsletter, he wrote one of the best books I have come across on how to have a successful life. I am allowed to post his latest article as long as I include his contact details below.

Here it is:

Good Things Come to Those Who Ask by Jack Canfield

Good things come to those who ask!Asking for what you need is probably the most underutilized tool for people. And yet, amazing requests have been granted to people simply because they've asked for it!

Whether its money, information, support, assistance, or time, most people are afraid to ask for what they need in order to make their dreams come true.

They might be afraid of looking needy, ignorant, helpless, or even greedy. More than likely, though, it is the fear of rejection that is holding them back. Even though they are afraid to hear the word no, they're already saying it to themselves by not asking!

Do you ask for what you want or are you afraid of rejection?

Consider this: Rejection is just a concept. There is really no such thing as rejection! You're not any worse off by hearing no than you were before you asked. You didn't have what you asked for before you asked and you still don't, so what did you lose?

Being rejected doesn't hold you back from anything. Only YOU hold yourself back. When you realize that there's no merit to rejection, you'll feel more comfortable asking for things. You may just need a bit of help learning how to ask for what you want.

How to Ask for What You Want

There’s a specific science to asking for and getting what you want or need in life. And while I recommend you learn more by studying The Aladdin Factor, here are some quick tips to get you started:

1. Ask as if you expect to get it. Ask with a positive expectation. Ask from the place that you have already been given it. It is a done deal. Ask as if you expect to get a “yes.”

2. Assume you can. Don’t start with the assumption that you can’t get it. If you are going to assume, assume you can get an upgrade. Assume you can get a table by the window. Assume that you can return it without a sales slip. Assume that you can get a scholarship, that you can get a raise, that you can get tickets at this late date. Don’t ever assume against yourself.

3. Ask someone who can give it to you. Qualify the person. Who would I have to speak to get... Who is authorized to make a decision about... What would have to happen for me to get...

4. Be clear and specific. In my seminars, I often ask, “Who wants more money in their life?” I’ll pick someone who raised their hand and give them a quarter, asking, “Is that enough for you?” “No? Well, how would I know how much you want? How would anybody know?”

You need to ask for a specific number. Too many people are walking around wanting more of something, but not being specific enough to obtain it.

5. Ask repeatedly. One of the most important Success Principles is the commitment to not give up.

Whenever we’re asking others to participate in the fulfillment of our goals, some people are going to say “no.” They may have other priorities, commitments and reasons not to participate. It’s no reflection on you.

Just get used to the idea that there’s going to be a lot of rejection along the way to the brass ring. The key is to not give up. When someone says “No”— you say “NEXT!” Why?

Because when you keep on asking, even the same person again and again...they might say “yes”...

…on a different day
…when they are in a better mood
…when you have new data to present
…after you’ve proven your commitment to them
…when circumstances have changed
…when you’ve learned how to close better
…when you’ve established better rapport
…when they trust you more
…when you have paid your dues
…when the economy is better
…and so on.

Kids know this Success Principle better than anyone. They will ask the same person over and over again without any hesitation. (can you relate?)

Getting a good perspective on rejection and learning how to ask will make a world of difference for you as you work toward your goals. Practice asking and you'll get very good at it! You'll even speed your progress by getting what you need, or improving yourself in order to get it later.

Make a list of what you need to ask for in all areas of your life, and start asking.

Remember, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE… if you dare to ask!

Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mister Turkey and His Wife

Here’s a painting I did way back in 1988. I decided to call it Mister Turkey and His Wife.

It has been hanging in my mother’s house for just over twenty years and she loves it.

I have never shown it to the world until now. It was the last one I ever did along these lines up until now.

It ties together two running themes in my work back then that I only really noticed after giving a lot of thought to what I was up to in those days. One is the exploration of animals, sometimes figures, in unexpected places – like pigs in the lounge, horse statues in the sea, a pig at the dining table, and so on. The other was playing with famous works of art and using them as a backdrop for my strangely placed figures.

I did a couple of very large charcoal drawings – these were the first of these and give a hint to where I was going art wise. One is of strangely sized, unexpected figures in a landscape based on a famous painting by El Greco, the other is also strange figures – inspired by ancient Greek statues set in a landscape based on a work by Goya.

‘MisterTurkey and His Wife’ encompasses all of this – animals in a place you would not expect them, the place itself based on a famous painting by Jan Van Eyck often known as The Marriage of Arnolfini and His Wife. The animals too are much bigger than you would expect, I often deliberately change the scale in my paintings to further intrigue you and emphasize the idea that they do not belong in the setting in which I put them.

Yet at the same time, I try to keep the portrayal realistic, I want you to believe in what you are seeing. Yet we both know it’s not real – but I want to amuse you and at the same time make you want to know why.

Am I making fun of the Van Eyck painting?

I am certainly being very playful with it, maybe it’s a subconscious response to the way we elevate famous works of art. Do I think Mr Arnolfini is a turkey and his wife a chicken? No, not really, but I also know that it could and probably would be seen as such.

Perhaps that is part of the humour – just think – why a turkey and a chicken – I could have placed much more impressive animals. Would a lion and a tiger receive a different response? Undoubtedly.

I am often drawn to the mundane – I like to elevate in a work of art that which you would not often expect to be elevated – so it’s chickens, turkeys and pigs all the way.

I do this in landscape too, I often select a simple thing and elevate it by painting it with care and attention. This is why The Walk series is so appealing; it’s just scenes of “down the road” – a tree outside a cluster complex, a path leading to a dustbin and so on.

With the Mister Turkey painting , I am taking a great work of art, depicting a person who sees himself and his wife as important enough to warrant a commissioned portrait and thus elevating themselves, and replacing them with the mundane. So you could say I am reducing that which was elevated.

Interestingly, I understand my painting more now than when I first painted it, perhaps it is the distance of years that helps me see the big picture, or maybe I am just older and wiser.

The joy of owning a unique work of art

I have written another article for Empty Easel which they published! It's about my experience as a newbie collector of art.

Here is the full version of the article I wrote:

A few months ago I stumbled upon a local website that acted as a gallery and it featured many local artists, some really good, some maybe not so good and everything in between.

I was at this stage new to the whole art online thing and was surprised to find that some of the pieces were in a reasonable price range – still quite a bit of money but for a normal salaried person like me just about in my price range.

I then got it into my head that I wanted to be a collector of fine art and I saw this site as a way to become just that.

For me this was a radical concept, as I am also an artist and you would think that I have enough of my own art on the walls to even consider buying someone else’s.

I remember many years ago as an art student visiting our fine art professor’s house - can’t remember why but I think it was for a small party, and I was immediately struck by his wonderful collection of original works by various artists.

To this day that is the only thing I can remember about his house!

The thought occurred to me then that one day when I was rich I would also be a collector of fine art.

The seed had been planted back then, but there was another seed that said to me that art is only for rich people and a frivolous expense (I am a very practical person).

So when I saw this website, suddenly the possibility of becoming a collector became real for the first time.

I spent a long time viewing the works of several artists, and bookmarked my favourites.

Over the next couple of weeks I went almost daily to have another look at the works and artists I had selected.

One artist in particular kept drawing me back, and on an impulse I emailed him to say I admired his work.

He sent me a wonderful reply and a relationship was born, out of being fellow artists and a mutual admiration for his work.

After a couple of weeks I kept going back to look at two of his works in particular, I knew I wanted to buy a painting from him, it was a question of choosing the right one and ensuring I had the money available. Eventually I made my choice, told him I wanted to buy it – he was negotiable on the price too which also helped things along.

I paid him the full amount plus shipping and after a short wait, the painting arrived.

Oh the excitement as I couldn’t wait to see it in the flesh as it were – I had only seen it online. It was even better in reality than online and I was truly happy with it.

I found a good place for it to hang – it’s in my lounge for all to see.

Here’s the thing – this artist and I still maintain an email relationship and he mails me regularly to make comments on my latest blog (he signed himself as a follower) and I sometimes send him a mail when he posts new work.

Notwithstanding the fact that I love his work and want to buy more, this artist is also showing an interest in me and I what I do, so it means that a – I won’t forget about him and b – when I am ready to buy another work of art you can be sure he will be the first one I will go to.

Now I want to share with you how this painting makes me feel. When I look at it, I feel pride – in selecting a great and unique work of art, I know also that while I believe it was a fair price, it was quite a bit of money and this gives it added value.

So to anyone who wants to sell their art too cheaply – don’t – you are depriving your collectors an important dimension of owning your art.

Think Ferrari – they only make a limited number of cars a year, which means that not everyone can own one – this uniqueness alone makes them special.

But think on this – would they be as special if they only cost a couple of thousand each?

Imagine how you would feel if you were a car person (I am not but that’s just me), and you had a car that no-one else had and could never have and the price made you really appreciate what you had?

Well, a work of art is like that except, in the case of an original painting – that one painting is the only one of its kind – ever.

Posters and prints of original art don’t give you this same feeling, you may see the same picture, but you know it’s just a cheap imitation, and you just won’t feel the same about it.

I make a bit of an exception for graphic artists, as long as they make limited editions and personally sign each one by hand – think limited edition Ferrari again.

The other sensation I get is when I get up close and personal with the piece, I can sense the artist’s touch – I can imagine him placing his brush just so and it becomes almost a communication between him and me.

I don’t just see the work – I feel the artist as well. You won’t get this from a poster either.

Now why can’t I just get this from going to a gallery and looking?

Well let’s look at the Ferrari example again – it’s the joy and pride of ownership.

Also, it’s not just about the work anymore, it’s about me. I personally selected this piece, so there is meaning in the choice I made, I ponder on why I chose it, why I like it and how I feel about all that.

So my advice to anyone thinking they would like to buy some real art is this – do it. You won’t regret it. Find an artist whose work you really like and is also in your price range, select your favourites and sit on them awhile.

Eventually one piece may keep drawing you back, and then you will know that is the one.

Personally I like looking at new and unknown artists, if I love their work and I buy them while they are still fairly unknown, the prices are much easier on the pocket.

If I am lucky and made a good choice, then when they become famous the art I bought becomes an investment, even though I never intended to sell.

To all those artists out there who think that they can’t be collectors AND artists, think again. The feeling you get from someone else’s art is different to your own and I can highly recommend it.

If you at least like art and want something of that Ferrari feeling, then buying art is one way to get it without breaking the bank.

And maybe one day when your collection has grown and the artists are world famous, your heirs will be able to buy themselves a Ferrari!

If you want to see the painting I bought, check out my previous post.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Insomnia update – am I cured?

Well it’s been about three weeks since I started the sleep restriction program designed for me by the sleep doctor specialist guy. The first week was the toughest but I survived – just.

Near the end of the second week though, I managed four consecutive nights of solid sleep without sleeping pills. Since these nights were still restricted – six and a half hours, I was still pretty wasted during the day, as there was an accumulation of lack of sleep too.

Most of these successful nights took place while I was on a short three day break at a lodge next to the Kruger Park. When I got home again I found myself using pills again.

I was quite pleased with my results so far though, and was looking forward to sharing them with the sleep doc at my appointment that week with him.

He went through my sleep diary and declared it quite good; I guess there must be some insomniacs out there worse off than me. We discussed my four successful nights and he said it screamed loud and clear that something about my home life was stressing me, since my good nights were while I was away. He gave me the details of a psychologist/ psychiatrist guy who could help me in coping with my stress.

I haven’t had a holiday for a while so I guess I needed it. Last December I was laid up after my foot operation – which was also quite a stressful event.

Anyway, I gave it a lot of thought and realized that it was most likely financial stress that was sitting in the back of my mind and keeping me awake at night.

I have a very low debt threshold, my credit cards are always paid in full every month and I won’t feel truly satisfied until our house is paid off.

You could call me Susie Ormon with the way I try to handle my finances. My mother is tickled by the way I was planning my retirement at age 15.

The troubles all started in the latter part of my pregnancy with my daughter Claire– I would wake up at weird early times in the morning and not be able to go to sleep. After she was born all that waking up at all hours of the night wasn’t helping.

The clue here is that when I was seven months pregnant, Leo and I moved into a bigger more expensive house and suddenly I was dipping into my savings to survive – I work on a contract basis and don’t get maternity pay.

Well, now that I knew the cause of my insomnia, I could control it, and after a couple more nights I dropped using the sleeping pills.
I am happy to announce that I have had five consecutive nights in a row without pills and they have been between seven and eight hours of good solid sleep.

I haven’t called the shrink yet, maybe I won’t need to.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Soccer crazy SA

It’s world cup soccer time at last and you can feel the excitement, the joy and the cameraderie all over. On friday my husband Leo and I were driving back from a place called Ngwenya Lodge bordering the south end of the Kruger Park and we got caught in the traffic from Pretoria made up of mostly soccer fans on their way to the fan park near Centurion.
We had been given three days free stay using a friend’s timeshare so were returning from a relaxing mid week bush holiday. The vuvuzelas were sounding all the way back from Nelspruit onwards and once we hit the fan park traffic, you could feel the soccer fever.
Everyone was laughing, smiling, blowing their vuvuzelas and waving at each other.
Most cars had one or more flags, one car had all the flags – one for each nation and had lettering on the side and back “Yes I can”.
Nobody seemed to mind the slowness of the traffic, it was an opportunity to look into each car window and check out the flag painted faces, weird and colourful curly wigs and just about everybody was wearing a soccer shirt.

My husband Leo has gone mad and has bought tickets left and right for various soccer games. He is from Uruguay so naturally he supports the Uruguayan team.
Here’s the strange thing – it seems to me that Uruguay have been left out. Every time I go past a place that displays all the national flags, Uruguay isn’t there.
Every street seller selling flags has all the nations, but not Uruguay.
Leo and I searched and searched – every weekend he tried various sport vendors selling soccer shirts etc, but no Uruguay to be found.
I made a mistake one day when I saw a street seller with the Argentine flag – I knew the Uruguay flag was blue stripes and a sun, so when I saw the Argentine flag and noted blue stripes and sun, I promptly bought it for Leo, but was disappointed to learn it wasn’t Uruguay but Argentina. Being a tango freak I support them too, but my first team of choice is of course South Africa, but getting an SA flag was no problem at all.

So I have been wondering – why is Uruguay being ignored?
Leo did finally manage to find a giant size Uruguay flag, which he plans to wear draped over his shoulders to the next Uruguay match. This is to make up for not having the Uruguay shirt.
If anybody driving around spots a Uruguay flag either in a group display or for sale, I wanna know about it.
It’s got thin blue stripes – a bit like the Greek flag, but with a yellow sun in one corner.
Happy hunting – I defy you to find one!

On a positive note, I really enjoyed watching the World cup concert on thursday night, the highlight of which was watching Shakira in action. She has such a stage presence, is super sexy and her hip action is amazing.
I want to be Shakira in my next life.
A sobering thought, when my two year old hits her twenties and is ready to enjoy pop music, Shakira will be pushing the wrong side of 50. Yikes!
As for me, well, lets not even go there!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Insomnia update

Despite being oh so tired, I decided to go to the Rosebank milonga last night.

I was surprised to find I was dancing quite well, plus I got a nice dancing tip from Ariel and Daniela, the visiting tango couple from Argentina, which helped ease the pain in my foot – it’s all in the way I step.

I felt as though every guy there was leading me so well – but maybe it was me – perhaps being so tired means I can’t think so I just follow instead?

I got home just before midnight , took two disprin and an anti-anxiety pill ( the sleep therapy is making me anxious at bed time – will I sleep, won’t I sleep, that kind of thing).

Lay there for two hours, nothing, just thoughts in my head. So I get up and take quarter of a sleeping pill, spill water all over my jammies in the dark, fumble for my cell phone which also becomes a nifty torch, find new jammies and crawl back into bed.

Lie there thinking for a few hours more, alarm goes off at 5.30 (I am cheating here – it is supposed to be 5am).

When I go to bed I am also only allowed to stay in bed 20 minutes – if I don’t fall asleep I must get up and read a book until I get sleepy, but it must be a boring book. Here’s the thing, I was too tired to get up.

I don’t think I slept, perhaps I drifted now and then but I was awake just about all night.

So when I said I was beyond tired yesterday, I lied. Now I am beyond tired.

My sleep diary the sleep doc guy gave me only has three tick boxes for how I feel when I wake up. Very refreshed – who is he kidding?

Somewhat Refreshed – I wish

and Fatigued. That’s more like it.

So far I have ticked the third box every day. Today I need a fourth box and maybe even a fifth box – Very fatigued and Extremely fatigued.

I had a cup of tea just now so I am typing this on a caffeine buzz.

It’s going to be a fun day.


I went to see a sleep specialist last week. This is because I have been struggling with chronic insomnia for over two years. It’s funny, I have met a few people who say they also experience this – I consider them members of the club – they are the only ones who really understand how horrible it is.

I have been to doctors, a psychologist, an endocrinologist, I have bought a hypnosis program, I downloaded a weird noise soundtrack that is supposed to trigger your brain into sleep mode, a book on how to cure insomnia and have read countless web pages on the subject. I have scrolled through insomnia user groups and have learned there are those who have it way worse than me.

I have tried sleep restriction therapy, said to be the most successful cure for it.

It’s very difficult to do because it involves forcing yourself to stay awake until very late and waking up the same time every morning, no matter how many actual hours of sleep you got. I tried it twice in the past and could never manage more than three or four days before giving up in despair.

So I go to the sleep doctor guy and he puts me on a sleep restriction therapy program – aaak!

He tells me I have bad sleep habits – like I go to bed at 8.30 or 9 sometimes because I am so tired from no sleep the night before. I am not allowed to do that anymore.

He says I have to find a hobby to keep me busy late at night; TV and reading are too passive so they are out. I am not allowed to work either as this is stress related, so I now use this time to practice my drawing skills.

I just draw whatever I can find – animals, people, etc. Sometimes the drawings are not half bad, sometimes they could do with being binned straight away. I don’t spend too long on a sketch, it’s more about honing observation skills – which is one key to being a good artist. A lot of people don’t realize that this is something anyone can do and you don’t need to be born with a special talent. It only requires practice and desire.
These are a few of the sketches I made last night and the night before. This one on the right is of my dog Chino. The other dog sketches are from Max's Weighless booklet - yes, my dog Max is on a "Weighless" for dogs program, he's not just podgy, more like obese! Not quite his fault, the cortisone treatment for myositis is making him fat. It makes him more hungry as well, poor bugger.

As for the therapy so far, it’s been five nights and I am beyond tired every single day.

I still can’t fall asleep without a pill. I will get there, with determination and perseverance.

So if you are missing me at the milonga’s, now you know why.

I am too tired to dance.

The woman depicted here is from a photo in a book I am reading about a guy's travels in Africa, she is performing a fertility ceremony - p.s. - the bottom half of the photo is a bit rude!