Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical words and watercolour

Self Development

9 Favourite quotations about friendship

Self DevelopmentKerrie Woodhouse

Today, two flower faces appeared on the page. They seem to understand each other. They remind me to pause and reflect on the value of those things that make our lives worthwhile. Always, these are things that are without price. Like friendship.

Because of these two little flowers I have been musing on friendship today. I would like to share 9 of my favourite quotations about friendship...

  • "One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives." Euripides
  • "Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light". Helen Keller
  • "Friendship... is not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything." Muhammad Ali
  • “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”  Friedrich Nietzsche
  • "Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity". Khalil Gibran
  • “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” C.S. Lewis
  • “No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” Alice Walker
  • “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” Mark Twain
  • "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." Marcel Proust

Explore the rest of the Flower Faces Series or see if you can find your favourite in the shop.

Boost your creativity the natural way

Self DevelopmentKerrie Woodhouse

You know and I know that flowers just make us feel better. Actually, they make us perform better too. You can boost your creativity, productivity and memory by ensuring that your environment contains plants.


At the Chelsea Flower Show in 2013, the Identity Realisation research group at the University of Exeter carried out 90 experiments in association with Indoor Garden Design.  Results from the 350 participants that took part in the study show that allowing  staff to make design decisions in a workspace enhanced with office plants can increase well-being by 47%, increase creativity by 45% and increase productivity by 38%.

An earlier study by Robert Ulrich found that workers demonstrated more innovative thinking, generated more ideas and came up with more creative solutions to problems in an office environment that included flowers and plants, relative to those in an office with no flowers or plants. And of course, plants and flowers improve the quality of the air in the office which also contributes to the improved well being and productivity of the workers.

In this study by Ulrich,  the men generated more ideas than the women when the work environment included flowers. However, the women exhibited greater creativity and contrived more flexible solutions to problems when flowers were present in the environment.

According to Sherry Burton Ways, the integration of plants in offices has been proven to reduce absenteeism and stress levels and lower blood pressure. Other proven benefits include lower noise levels, lower room temperature  and reduced humidity.

It would be a mistake to think that design decisions are nothing more than superficial  and that decorating your work environment with flowers is frivolous. Scientific studies have repeatedly shown improvement across measures of psychological comfort and business performance in spaces that incorporate natural elements such as plants and flowers.

So get yourself a cheery plant or fresh flowers for your work environment and raise your creativity and productivity. It has to be worth a try, surely?

Explore more of the Flower Faces series 


You don't need to be large or loud to make a significant impact in the world

Fascinating facts, Self Developmentphoenixarttally

You don't need to be large or loud to make a significant impact in the world. The world often feels to me like such a noisy, crowded place.  It seems like you need to have a sizable 'presence' just to be heard. Those that seem to be capable of making a difference appear to be the enormous corporations,  world renowned speakers, or 'celebrities' with gazillions of  social media followers.

But that doesn't mean that the small, quiet ones are not doing important work, without pomp and ceremony. The best symbol of this is the ladybird.

Small, but beautiful. Clear of purpose. Not needing attention to do their good work in the world.

They are quite fascinating little creatures. Did you know...

  • Ladybirds are loved by farmers gardeners because they are nature's pest controllers. They eat aphids and scale insects, managing them more effectively than poisonous chemicals.
  • They can defend themselves by emitting hemolymph from their jointed legs (reflex bleeding). Hemolymph is a bitter-tasting, foul-smelling fluid.  The beautiful red and black markings on the ladybird serve as a warning reminder of this for predators.
  • There are some ladybirds that are able to change colour to blend into the reeds they inhabit. They are beige with black spots until the spring when they turn bright red to warn off those predators.
  • The number of spots of the ladybird varies by species. Some have only two, others seven. You may even come across a ladybird with up to 19 spots.
  • Despite the name, not all ladybirds are girls (obviously...) but it is very hard to tell the males from the females without a microscope (or an entomologist)
  • Ladybirds from Australia were introduced to California in the 1880's to save the citrus trees because of their effectiveness in controlling pests.  This was so successful that more than 100 different species of ladybird were then brought to North America.
  • Ladybirds love cosmos and dill, so if you want to attract more ladybirds to your garden try planting those!

But whatever you do, let every ladybird you see remind you that no matter how small you might feel sometimes, your contribution is important. Like the humble ladybird, persistently doing the work that you were put on earth to do does make a significant impact on the world.

Explore more of the Flower Faces Series here.

Make a little time for yourself

My art journey, Self DevelopmentKerrie Woodhouse

Yesterday I used up all the white space around my flower face with a textured background. Funny - it was only when I covered up the white space that I actually noticed that there was a lot of white space in most of the other pictures in this series.

I like that they don't have to share the page with anything else.  I like the white space.  It reminds me that I have made time in my life to make them, and that in turn has given me a little 'white space' around myself. Each flower face sitting in its clear space seems to be saying, "Make a little time for yourself."

It is so easy to have life take over and for there to be an endless stream of tasks to tick off the to do list. How often do you get to the end of a really busy day and find yourself wondering... what did I really do today?

If I am not careful, the day whizzes by in a flash. Before I know it the things I would like to do  - the things that are important to me, have been squeezed out.  Unless you prioritise them, and  set aside a specific time for them, they will be neglected into oblivion.

We multi task whether we realise it or not - even if we have read many an article telling us that this is not the way to do things anymore.  Our mobile devices beep and flash and vibrate with every little whimper from cyberspace. It is hard to ignore that flashing envelope icon with every new mail, or the persistence of our social media notifications.  In the car at school pick up, we can be planning the evening meal, googling a recipe for it and placing an online order - all while chatting to the mum parked beside us.  Whatever happened to staring calmly into space for a few moments?

No, I seem to have to allocate time to be still. I don't want to say this, but it is like scheduled 'me-time'. No you see... I really want to go back and delete that. It sounds so selfish, doesn't it? But really, if we don't reign in the frenetic pace at some point - find a little white space for ourselves, we become less capable of doing everything else that we need to do.

If you are wondering how to go about incorporating a little time for yourself, this article has some helpful suggestions.  If you are looking for some more in depth information and guidance than an article, you might want to have a look at Cheryl Richardson's books.

Sitting down with my paintbrushes and pencils is my daily white space. What is yours?

Explore the rest of the Flower Faces Series.

Why you should never resist the urge to doodle

Self DevelopmentKerrie Woodhouse

Today, I had the urge to add doodles to the petals of my flower face. And one should never resist the urge to doodle.

I have been a doodling fan for quite some considerable time. I stumbled upon Zentangle very early on in my creative journey. I was drawn to it as a less intimidating form of artistic expression. Life drawing, perspective, proportions, value scales.... these are all pretty intimidating to a beginner. But lines and dots and repeated patterns? Everyone can have a go at that. Little did I realise how soothing it was. I concluded that it was like meditation for people who struggle to meditate.

Aside from Zentangle, I often feel drawn to including doodle patterns in my journal pages. (If you want to have a go at this you could hop over to Joanne Sharpe's website and take one of her doodle classes - she is a lot of fun and so are her classes.)

I realise I was originally prey to the invisible indoctrination of the 'doodling is the antithesis of intellectual thought movement'. Not for serious people.

It turns out that science came to the fore a few years ago and proved this to be false*. Doodling actually has been shown to enhance memory function, and stimulate creativity. Although we generally tend to believe that doodling signifies a loss of attention or concentration, it is in fact a preemptive measure that engages the brain and prevents it from losing focus.

In her terrific TED talk, Sunni Brown explains that we  take in information in 4 ways:

  • auditory
  • visual
  • reading/writing
  • kinesthetic

In order for deep learning and engagement with this information, two of these forms must be simultaneously present, or one form plus an emotional experience. Doodling combines all four forms and the possibility of an emotional experience.

Well, I don't need any more convincing than that. But I have just added another book to my reading list. Sunni Brown's Doodle Revolution. I will tell you all about it in due course... Have you already read it? What did you think?

*Andrade, J. (2010). What does doodling do? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24: 100–106. doi: 10.1002/acp.1561.

Explore the rest of the Flower Faces Series.


Ideas come from ideas

My art journey, Self DevelopmentKerrie Woodhouse

When I started this series I worried about whether I would just create different colour versions of the same sort of doodley flower I started with. Would I come up with anything else? Enough to fill a month? It turns out that ideas come from ideas.

Committing to a series is like an extended brainstorming session. If you have ever been in a corporate style brainstorming session - first of all, sorry about that - and secondly, you may have noticed that they usually begin with awkward silence.

No ideas. Some one well versed in management speak will then usually say something like 'there's no such thing as a bad idea... don't be shy...'

Eventually a small voice pipes up. Hmm. Some thinking ensues. Perhaps a little smirking. Then another voice. It is often easier to criticise an existing idea than come up with a new one.  But funnily enough, criticising an idea is the first step to making the idea better. Or coming up with a substitute.

Before long the brainstorming snowballs.  From little or nothing in the beginning to multiple ideas. It's like our idea generating equipment needs warming up.

Initial idea sketch and final painting

Initial idea sketch and final painting

When I first felt a twinge of doubt about having enough flower faces to fill a month I got out my sketchbook. Made a scratchy doodle of something that looked more like a dandelion than a flower. From there other flowers appeared in my sketchbook. Each idea a little easier to come by than the last.

Now the only thing I have to ask is - is a dandelion a flower?.... well for my purposes, yes. And she looks far too regal to be a weed. But then, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said...

"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.

Explore  more of the Flower Faces Series


So what exactly is a midlife crisis these days?

Self Developmentphoenixarttally
So what exactly is a midlife crisis these days?
Double page art journal spread created in Jane Davenport's online class 'Create Emotion'

It seems to me that a midlife crisis is one of those first world problems (not a bad kind to have...) I'm not sure it's actually a 'crisis', and I don't think you have to be 'midlife' to have one. I came to art courtesy of a midlife crisis. It was something I tossed out in witty (obviously) conversation one day without much thought. Then I got home. OMG, am I actually having a midlife crisis? (Well, I said 'OMG' so I can't be that old.... or is a compulsion to say things like 'OMG' a few steps away from the cliched red sports car?) Apparently, a midlife crisis is more appropriately termed a midlife transformation these days. Yes, I do like that better. And, it turns out you don't need to be mid-life, to find yourself facing a bit of a crisis.  Essentially it is just a transition point. The space between one phase and the next. I'd like to think that means that some longer term goals have been realised, and new longer term goals are ready to be made. In the best light it is a chance to surrender to the fertile void between these life phases and be open to possibility. It is a chance to let go of trying to fulfill the 'shoulds' which probably arise from the expectations of others rather than your own. Time to reassess what is actually important to you. Marcia Reynolds explains in Psychology Today that these transition points often occur in the transition into a new decade, when you turn 30, 40 and 50. At each of these points the questions that arise are different. At 30 it's probably career choices; at 40, life purpose and from 50 it's most likely to be about legacy. There is a lot of truth in that for me, although I reserve the right to another 'crisis' regardless of whether there is a zero in my birthday! Google will turn up countless lists of symptoms of a midlife crisis. Most, if not all of these include some creative compulsion, like the desire to learn a musical instrument, paint, draw or write. This makes perfect sense to me. If you are at one of life's transition points, you are probably asking a lot of questions. What do I really want out of life?  What matters most?  What is the best way to spend my time?  These are really just some new problems to solve. And creativity is our problem solving equipment. Doing something creative gets that 'right brain' going. It's a chance to play, explore, experiment and discover in a low risk environment. We encourage kids to do this all the time. Don't we deserve the same?