In my Element 3

So, “In my Element 3” suggests that we’ve already been somewhere with this in the past and of course you’re right! As you might suppose there was an In my Element part 1 and part 2 before, celebrating my realisation that the world for me turns not on the very pleasant salary I received from my corporate exploits, but the satisfaction gained from working “in my element” on things that I enjoy, with people that I like and on things that can really make a difference to other people.

They were followed by a fabulous and insightful “Firestorm” post from my first guest blogger, the inspirational Lee of Elevatedby who shared his very personal experiences of being in his element and what motivates him to do what he does as a creative.

[Those embedded links will take you back if you didn’t visit, read and digest them before or just want to refresh your memory – I’m told they were quite a good read, though my friends are too shy to comment publicly to that effect].

So with my commitment to keep up with regular blog posts…ok, so sometimes real life creeps in and gives your virtual life a sideways nudge every once in a while, a sneaky extra week has gone by almost without notice, but I’m back here…well after midnight, with my blog. The rest of the world has already gone to bed for another night and all is quiet apart from the gentle whirr of my mind as it reflects on the last few weeks and the quiet tapping of my nails on my keyboard.

It’s been a strange few weeks, taken up mainly with my efforts on a large private commission I’m working on. That’s proving to be a challenge and a delight in almost equal measure. Working on a 5ft X 5ft 2in canvas is physically very demanding (I hadn’t really thought about that) and I have been reintroduced to muscles in my neck and shoulders I had long ago forgotten! I am reminded though that some of my friends face this every day and that for me this pain is at least only temporary and likely to disappear within a couple of days of delivering the finished item ti its new owner in due course. I am also reminded of how lucky I am to be doing this and enjoying the quality of sleep that comes from physical tiredness rather than the stress-driven headaches and mental tiredness of a couple of years ago! I wouldn’t swap this for the world right now!

I say taken up mainly by those efforts because there are other things going on and developing behind the scenes. In recent weeks I have had excited exchanges with and watched some of my new friends and business contacts growing slowly but surely with a new found confidence. A couple of them are seizing exciting new opportunities that will help them to create growing businesses and brighter and better futures for themselves than they might have expected only a short time ago, and I watch with respect and admiration and a sense that I would like to find a way to do more.

And you’re point is Karen?

Well, the thing is, although I continue to feel inspired by these people (they know who they are) I am equally frustrated by a sense that somehow things shouldn’t have to be quite so hard! It strikes me that no matter how hard some people try and how willing they are to give their all in pursuit of a self-supported, happy and fulfilling life, something just isn’t quite right with way things work. You see, I’m working with and talking to people who don’t necessarily fit the stereotypes of mainstream life and employment. At the same time I’m talking about people who are supremely capable so of course they don’t easily fit the templates requirements of public/institutionalised support systems either.

I’m talking about the people who fall between the gaps because they’re not necessarily viewed as employable, despite having a degree or other qualifications, yet can successfully set and and run their own businesses, (“after all who else would employ me?”). People who have been told “your needs just aren’t quite bad enough to warrant our support…”, people left to pick their way through the ad hoc and crazy paved provision of our “Big Society”, driven by the vagaries of a myriad competitive funding options.

In a creative sense I’m talking about creatively gifted people who don’t quite meet the expectations of “high art” galleries, not having studied art to degree level. Indeed, some have not studied any subjects to what is perceived to be an “acceptable” level due to the impacts of their learning difficulties, dyslexia, attendance at “special school” because of physical disability or long-standing physical and mental health problems. All these circumstances can make it difficult to understand what mainstream support might be available and certainly create a barrier to tapping into provision that can help create your own opportunities. Raising finance for a small business start up is almost impossible in these circumstances.

With all this in mind I have been exploring a few options and opportunities in recent weeks and feel inspired to continue to do so over the coming months. In the meantime I would be really interested to hear from anyone with any constructive ideas on raising funding or sponsorship or who has already set up an inclusive creative enterprise on any partially funded basis.

Why bother?

There are some very talented people out there who overcome the most tremendous adversity to achieve their creative goals, or some days just can’t quite manage to find the extra strength to have to fight and do things the hard way. With a great deal of effort but without complaint many do the things you or I might do on a daily basis without having to give it a moments thought, (whilst moaning about aching neck and shoulders in my case) or in some cases just give up the fight… strikes me there’s something just not right about that!

Next time:

Lee of Elevatedby will be back to share another episode of his inspirational story as a creative photographer.


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Help I missed earlier stories (open in a new window): Part 1 | Part 2 | Firestorm |


Guest Blog: Firestorm

I’d like to introduce my first guest blog Firestorm, written by the very talented artist and creative blogger Lee of Elevatedby. Lee is one of the amazing people I have blogged about recently, who inspire me to achieve on a daily basis and I’m delighted he has agreed to share a little insight into how he feels to be working as a creative in his element.


This may seem a little off topic, but please do bear with me as the metaphor unfolds.  Lets set our minds back to 29th and 30th December 1940.  On these two nights from 6:00pm till the early hours of the morning over 24,000 high explosive bombs and 100,000 incendiary bombs were dropped on our Capital City of London.  More than 160 civilians died during those two nights, and many more died later due to injuries sustained. Buildings were completely destroyed including 19 churches, 31 Guild halls and all of Paternoster Row (which was the centre of London’s publishing trade).

Many of you will have seen this photograph:

London after the blitz

It was a positive image of the survival of London and it was beamed all around the world.  The cathedral became a symbol of London’s defiance and determination to carry on, but what many people don’t know is that this image is a crop of the original, which shows, fallen buildings and a severely broken Capital City.

I’m sure I speak, not only for myself here, but also many others who spend their lives overcoming adversities presented by their disabilities.  I like to think of myself as the St Paul’s Cathedral in that photograph standing firm in the firestorm defiant and determined to carry on despite the challenges that my disabilities presents me with.

As I said, many people do not know about the ‘original’ version of the photo. It is one which shows the destruction, fallen buildings and devastation London sustained during the firestorm created by German invasion which looks a little something like this . . .

London after the blitz

Tough huh?  If you give me just a couple of minutes of your time, I shall reveal some of the stuff that I tend to ‘crop out’ of the image which I project to the public and the reason behind the name ‘elevatedby’ which I have chosen to give to my website dedicated to my creations.

Most of my immediate family have at some stage worked in the Forces. Grandpa was in the Parachute Regiment in Word War Two landing in Normandy on D-day. Mum was in the WRAF where she became a Dental Nurse and Dad was an aircraft engineer for the RAF and worked many aircraft, and spent most of his years after I came about on the SAR Sea King Helicopters at RAF Finningley in Doncaster. As for me? Due to my disabilities, I kinda missed the boat to go working in the Military, however I wasn’t going to let my disabilities get away with that lightly!

I have been invited as a guest blogger on and I am here to share with you  something deep within my makeup that not only gives me the drive and motivation to reach for the stars, but something that has provided me with a shield and protection against the adversities enabling me to walk through firestorms, yet miraculously walking out out of the other end untouched by its destructive force (AKA Self doubt and demoralization) That something is my desire to be creative!

I can’t ever recall ‘becoming‘ creative, that, I think is something that was built into my make-up the day I was conceived, but I can recall many times where I have been ‘elevated by’ my creative side.

Perhaps one the first instance, I can recall been ‘elevated by’ my creative side was when my friends would play soccer after school. Due to my balance and being uneasy on my legs, football was a game I’d choose not to join in with, but I’d still go out and join them, not with a football, instead I’d carry a note-pad and handful of pencils. Once my friends saw me, then It didn’t take them long to drop their football in favour of one of my pencils, asking me ask me to teach them how to draw helicopters or WWII bombers flying over Big Ben, with search lights coming from the Westminster bridge.

Another of many situations that I have found myself ‘elevated by’ my creations and creative desires was during the integration period into mainstream school from a special school for children with physical ‘disadvantages’ (as it was called in those days).  This was a very difficult period, it was my first taste of how downright cruel other children could be and it was the period of time when I learnt many lessons of life that could never have been learnt whilst being moth balled at a special school.

It was during this period of time when I learnt pretty quickly how to snub out and disarm what often felt like high explosives and incendiary bombs of verbal abuse and torment, and it was through my creations that would find an escape to what was going on around me drifting off with my imagination and drawing on whatever it was I had in front of me and then, I discovered a new and more powerful side to my creations!

One time during a French Lesson, I was spotted drawing a Ferrari F40 in my exercise book (which contained more sketches and drawings than it did French) by someone who dished out much grief. Word about my drawings seemed to spread around the school like wildfire and almost instantly after, it felt like all of a sudden I was the new favourite person to be around. Once again I was ‘elevated by’ my artwork, standing firm in the firestorm!

Lee | | Elevatedby on Facebook 

Thanks for sharing Lee!

If, like me, you enjoyed that and feel inspired check out the fabulous imagery on his website and sign up to his blog and Facebook page from the links above!

Lee will be back again soon to share the story behind just some of his fabulous artistic creations! Subscribe to my blog posts to be sure you don’t miss it!

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In my Element 2

So , there I was, minding my own business listening to Radio 2 (I often wonder what triggered the decision that I was old enough to make the switch from independent radio and Radio 1 to the “easy listening” station, but that’s one for another day), when Crystal Gayle regaled us again with the story of her brown eyes turning blue, then “stepped aside” to allow the introduction of Sir Ken Robinson.

An interesting chap, Sir Ken was introduced as an impassioned and supremely motivational speaker, then delivered his pitch in a fairly monotone voice that almost finished me off (yes, I’m easily bored these days). I say almost…he speaks of course about something I am extremely passionate about…people achieving their full potential!

A passionate educationalist Sir Ken is an excellent spokesman for the power of teaching as an art form and for the benefits of creativity and imagination in the learning process to generate and maintain enthusiasm and a desire for lifelong learning. He still believes in the notion of great teachers as those people who can inspire and fire someone up!

What I like about Sir Ken is his determination to speak up in favour of public educational reform and the paradigm shift that’s needed to make it possible for us to operate in our element – here’s a great case in point:

In my element

Sir Ken describes “the element” as

the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. It is here that people feel most themselves, inspired and able to achieve at their highest levels.

This is the stuff that’s far removed from the bored child in class, disillusioned and misused employee or person who feels frustrated but can’t explain why…it’s that point in life where we connect with our true self by understanding our true talents and lead a fruitful life by doing what we love. Most of all we begin to realise and achieve everything we are capable of in our journey of self-fulfilment.

So What?

I guess my last blog post really highlighted for me how I have started to make the shift from corporate wage slave to local enthusiast, coach, confidante, tutor and someone who feels they are once again making a difference. I feel I’m in my element right now.

Next time round my first guest blogger, the inspirational Lee of Elevatedby will be sharing his experience of being in his element and what motivates him to do what he does

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