Basic Training (Communication Basics)

Here at timotheories I believe it’s important to provide you dear readers with a depth and breadth to my content which is fairly uncommon in many blogs of the day.

I write about the arts (music, film, events), share global wisdom and learnings I’ve uncovered on how to maintain and flourish as a creative professional, and build lots of stimulating content about the value of art, often focusing on the medias of movies, table top gaming, and interviews with salt of the earth artists. I follow a monthly schedule to ensure I release a lot of quality content: written and video.

One of the reasons I do this because I believe that good communication is one of the key skills you need in life. Another of the reasons I have this workflow down pat is because good teachers and leaders practice what they preach.

#sobasic

So many of the lessons I share are cyclical,  the kind of stuff you’ll hear over and over in your life and which you really need to learn, those things you run away from until you finally own up to your obstacles and face them head on. It’s one of those theories that is so compelling when life is going great, but difficult to accept when you’ve just been handed a shit sandwich after life pummeled you and then ran over your dog.

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.

Pema Chodron

I found this quote from Pema Chodron, an American Tibetan and practising Buddhist. One who happens to be both an ordained nun and acharya. In case you’re wondering what an acharya is, it’s someone who is a senior instructor in religious matters. They teach the next generation of monks and nuns, and are generally expected to stay put, rather than wander the earth as so many Buddhist monks do.

Communication is at the root of us facing our fears in life creative cuties. As soon as you recognize that other people aren’t actively trying to limit your actions, but rather further their own lives (just as you do), it becomes way easier to recognize that the EST models of life are a real thing – exist, survive OR thrive.

As I mentioned in my first post on communication, there are seven aspects of communication to consider and make crucial in your life – clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete, and courteous. I’m not going to spend the rest of this post outlining how those aspects all work and what to do with them, though I can see that becoming a future series down the road, if I get enough interest from you fine folks…

Instead I want to go over the basics of communication.

All About That Base

I found this really cool chart from Psychology Today which demonstrates how communication works. I’m not sure if they made the chart themselves or got it from somewhere else, but kudos to whoever came up with this diagram. It’s on point.

You see friends, communication can happens with multiple people simultaneously, but more importantly it is always a process that happens between a sender and a receiver. I could be delivering a presentation to a group of fifty people, but no matter how many people I present to, I am conducting individual communications with each party in the room.

So while nineteen people could understand the message I am relaying about marketing, one person might shut down as soon as I mention how we need to use more third party services as an annual media mix. This is because as the sender I have a responsibility to consider how I encode my message for the receiver and to be sure I truly understand the subject matter I’m speaking to. If I have complicated thoughts and feelings about the topic, I may not explain myself well, and so the listener is more likely to miss the message.

Now from the perspective of the receiver, a few things could happen which led to the misunderstanding. They could have not really been listening to the message for one, and for two, they might not have the comprehension skills needed to decode the message, but refuse to acknowledge their limitations. Which is a whole other loaded challenge of its own. And third, by adding a separate meaning to the message from what was intended. i.e. the person might think I’m suggesting incompetence in them and by stating we should hire more third party groups, I am affirming to the receiver that I want another company to support the workload because they are more talented.

theories Summarized

All that said, communication is most definitely something we can all learn to do better, and while it is a two way street, as you become more competent you’ll succeed more,. That means choosing your words and expressions more carefully, as well as being aware of your shortcomings in communication AND asking others to explain back to you what you’ve shared. Then you can expect to have better results getting help with editing your videos, distributing your brand new EP, or booking that photography shoot with the paint night lady.

It might not be a basic instinct, but communication really is key to success in the arts, and business in general. Just a theory I have.

Tim!

She Paints (Edmonton Valley Zoo)

Zoos are controversial, apparently.

Some people think that we shouldn’t cage animals, like at all. Because of a few different reasons of course.

And they just might be right.

  1. Captivity can make animals unstable. Zoochosis is a condition where some animals pace back and forth, others injure themselves, and the rest seem to move their heads from side to side or back and forth frequently.
  2. Zoos are profitable businesses. This means that baby animals are traffic drivers but older animals are not, and are often sold off.
  3. Endangered species don’t live in zoos. Lots of zoos claim to care for rare animals and breed them for longevity of the species, but not for preservation.
  4. Limited education opportunities. Signage out front of animal displays only cover the basics, animals don’t exhibit normative behaviours, and people spend little time at each display.
  5. Enclosures are dangerous. For animals anyway. They eat thrown away trash, sometimes face negligence, and are a secondary consideration in the event of natural disasters, like floods and wildfires.

Walk With The Animals

But I wanted to visit the Edmonton Valley Zoo for myself this weekend. It reminds me of my youth, its located in the heart of the river valley, and it’s open every day of the year except for Christmas day. Owned and operated by the City of Edmonton, this zoo has by accredited by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

I know it’s weird for me to write about a zoo, which has little to do with the arts, except I’ve known an artist activist or two in my lifetime, and there is an elephant there who likes to paint sometimes. If that’s a thing, and not training.

It’s a big part of Edmonton history, just like Fort Edmonton Park. Founded back in 1959, replacing the Borden Park Zoo which was on the property that currently serves as Northlands, it was called Storyland Valley Zoo up until 2010, when it went under some major renovations. Why Storyland? Because a big section of the park featured nursery rhyme characters.

The zoo is also home to over 350 animals (both exotic and local, including hundreds of squirrels) and it houses over 100 different species.

Edmonton Valley Zoo regularly hosts events and raises funds through conservation efforts – the Makira Conservation Fund, Red Panda Network, and the Species Survival Plan to restore endangered animal populations to the wild. And things like letting children take on the role of a veterinarian of an animal hospital to see what zoo veterinarians do. After Edmonton City Council decided to inject $50 million into the zoo, we’ve seen the property expand to one and a half times its previous size. The Arctic Shores exhibit and The Wander Trail being key elements in the facelift.

Additionally the zoo is home to the Inner Zoo (formerly Storyland Valley Zoo), Makira Outpost, Carnivore Alley, Elephant House and Exhibit, Saito Center, African Veldt, Back Paddocks, and the Birds of Prey area.

So there are two sides to this story of whether captive animals are happy or not.

But let’s talk about Lucy for a minute.

Lucy

Lucy is the elephant which lives in the Elephant House and Exhibit – at over 4000 kg and forty two years young.

Something of a charmer, and called a peoples elephant by her adoptive herd, she visits with the public at least few times a day and supposedly loves to spend time with her zoo family. Many people have come from all over the world to see Lucy, and we’ve seen our share of protestors ready to come and rescue her from the zoo, including Bob Barker of Price Is Right fame. Lucy was orphaned in Sri Lanka and was brought to the Edmonton Valley Zoo through partnership with the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage and Colombo Zoo when she was two years old.

theories Summarized

Do I think zoos are inherently evil? No. Do I think they are awesome? No to that too.

People have been domesticating animals since we’ve been able to, and the same can be said for eating them. I generally hold the opinion that eating meat is an acceptable way to go, but I’m not overly stoked at the prospect of it. That said, the zoo is a place to go and see beautiful creatures, living and breathing. As a visual artist, I firmly believe that seeing something in person is far better for your creative eye then on film, but I’ll let you battle that out in the comments. Theories and all.

I’m off to the zoo this weekend? How about you?

Tim!

Time Of Your Life (timotheories April 2017)

 

April is one of my favourite months of the year, for a few reasons.

It’s the month I was born, which every other year is the same time as the Easter holidays, and it reminds me of my family. You see, dear readers, when I was growing up, every Easter, my family of six would all cart ourselves from one province to another to visit the grandparents. We called our grandparents Papa and Nana, of course. Because of the Ukrainian ancestry.

Which is why this month I decided to focus a lot of my posts on things that matter to me personally. Music, film, the arts, and how to be successful as an artist.

Just kidding, I do that every month. A little late for an April Fools joke, but you can’t say I didn’t try. Terribly.

Also, I mentioned this in my HMV post, but technically I won’t have a problem with reliable forecasting on film and music choices, now that I’ve converted to Amazon Prime, but for the sake of humility, I’ll keep this disclaimer up… just in case.

*Disclaimer* As always, every week I purchase an album and movie one week ahead of the actual review release and while I have the best intentions, I don’t always get what I want… so if you follow me on instagram (@timotheories) you can actually see what’s coming.

timotheories summarized – April

Stimulating Sundays – (04/02) …, (04/09) Cross Talk Ep. 21, (04/16) Cross Talk Ep. 22, (04/23) Cross Talk Ep. 23, (04/30) Alex Racine interview
Melodic Mondays – (04/03) Sampha, (04/10) The Mavericks, (04/17) Arca, (04/24) Father John Misty
Theatrical Tuesdays – (04/04) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, (04/11) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, (04/18) A Monster Calls (04/25) The Founder
Wisdom Wednesdays – (04/05) Li Kunwu, (04/12) Life Satisfaction, (04/19) David Deida, (04/26) Facebook Success Stories
Timely Thursday – (04/06) timotheories April, (04/13) Easter, (04/20) Fate of the Furious, (04/27) Birthdays

So I missed the mark on the first Sunday of this month – it’s been a bit of a challenge to stay focused with all of the personal changes going on, and my day job, and a new(ish) relationship. Not making excuses, just letting you see that I too am mortal and fully capable of failing.

But let’s focus instead on the fact that I’ve got three Cross Talk episodes coming your way, one of them about Easter Eggs in film (super fun topic), plus the beginning of a series further exploring how certain themes exist in film, but defy genres.

And no, I didn’t forget about Amanda Wall creative cuties. We’ve been trying to figure out a way to make her interview happen. She is a freelancer and full-time mom after all, and scheduling has proven more challenging than originally anticipated. That said, I do have something in the works with a local game designer by the name of Alex Racine – I promise that’ll be fun.

The rest of the topics are gonna be amazing too, from films set in the Star Wars universe, Harry Potter lore, and an adaptation of the beginnings of McDonalds, plus some Mavericks from my past, I have a ton of theories to share on books I’ve read and social media too. Also, did I mention it’s my birthday month? And that the eighth instalment of my favourite film franchise opens in less then a week?

So many theories, so little April to shower you with ideas. But I’ll do my darnedest!

Tim!

The Price To Not Pay Is Steep (Health)

Holistic health has been on my mind as of late dear readers.

 

You see, I have this theory that there is a strong connection between art, healing, and health. And I think holistic health holds the key to that connection.

Holistic health is a type of healing process which considers the whole human being and not just the body parts and/or symptoms. As we strive towards optimal health and wellness, considerations of the body, mind, spirit, and emotions are all relevant.

I like to believe that we can address each of those aspects of ourselves with some basic activities. For the body, there is exercise. When it comes to the mind, reading things and a variety of things covers it off, emotions are founded in both positive relationships and pursuing our passions, but spirit is the most difficult to address.

To put it simply, I think that art is key to addressing the spirit, and if we ignore this part of ourselves, we suffer all the more for it.

Medicine For The Heart

 

The interesting part of this theory is that there is evidence out there which suggests a healing connection between art and the spirit, but it is not given nearly as much research as other disciplines, but it certainly can provide value. The point we need to consider most in this discussion is that each of us is drawn to different forms of art, so what heals me might not heal you as easily. And I think that has to do with our preferred learning styles.

  • Visual learners prefer two dimensional forms of art like drawing, painting, and photography.
  • Kinesthetic learners should look towards performance arts, like dance, magic, and theatre.
  • Auditory learners are best served by music, writing, and narration.

Now, outlining the reasons why I think art has the power to heal our spirit will take up far more time than a single post can give, so rather than diving deeply into it today, I will share a few of my favourite videos on the power of art for affecting the spirit.

Namely this one.

 

And also this one.

And definitely this one.

Health Matters

If it hasn’t been made clear yet, the aim of this post is to address health as it relates to the OECD index, making this the eighth entry in the Wellness Factors of Life series inspired by Postconsumers.

Artists matter, and I know in my heart of hearts that I will always advocate for the arts, no matter where I am or whatever the context that I am making the argument in. But timotheories isn’t just about me, it’s also about providing you with the resources you need to fight the good fight. As art makers, art facilitators, art collectors, and art enthusiasts, each of us has a responsibility to share with the world the merits of working on creative projects, from economics, to health, to politics, to entertainment, you creative cuties know that art has the power to heal. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

The spirit is the key in all of this.

 

theories Summarized

It is absolutely essential to reconsider the notion of the starving artist, and start to consider the notion of the starving souls who do not support the arts nor make room for creativity within their lives, it takes time to establish yourself creatively, no different than any other specialization.

Doctors, engineers, lawyers, scientists, politicians, professors, and teachers, I’m looking squarely at you.

So let’s invest in art, because it’s good for us.

And yes, I am theoried out for the night, so I’m gonna settle into bed with a good book, after a night of exercise, writing, and communicating with my lovely girlfriend, and know that I met all of my wellness needs. Another day, another theory satisfied.

Tim!

The Final Frontier (Appeal To Logic, Emotions, Ethics)

I think it was about a month ago, or it could also be four weeks ago if you prefer, that I started to address a complex topic about logic, emotion and reason. I began this investigation with the intent of fleshing out the details of what a creative passion should look like on paper (read:artist statement) and using my own artistic practice as a backdrop in the means of an explanation.

At the time I promised I would come back with a series of posts outlining my theories on how to accomplish this.

And so here we are.

It Is Only Logical

This stimulating topic we’re on is the three modes of persuasion, and sometimes known as ethical strategies or rhetorical appeals. Aristotle posited that the best types of persuasion are clearly demonstrated. The ways that we accomplish a successful persuasion are by showcasing good character through credibility (ethics), stirring up feelings (emotions), and proving a truth (logic).

So if we want to be successful artists, writers, musicians, et. al., then we have to build a proper case for what we do for a living, that way whenever we are approached by a stranger, and we want to leave a good impression, we can put together the best elevator pitch ever crafted.

After all, you care about your art right? You know that your unique voice needs to be expressed and the best way to accomplish that is by gaining positive attention and proper acknowledgment. And of course, you want to do it in a way that is authentic, unfiltered and real.

Thusly I have given you your first example of using the three modes of persuasion. And through the lens of logic.

A Logical Decision? Probably. But The Right One?

Now I do have to consider that the best way to establish this artist statement for yourself can be overwhelming, and given that we are are going to be spending a far amount of time going over this, I want to make it very clear what’s at stake here. Your integrity for one.

People are most like to identify with someone who looks like and talk like them. But this character needs to be trustworthy too. In films and television, this is why the lead character always has a strong reputation with the authority to back it up. If we look for characterizations of ETHOS we can quickly identify people like Dexter Morgan from the tv show Dexter, who has clear motivations, an a stong demonstration of his skilset, and because we experience his thoughts and feelings, it humanizes him and makes him seem like a “normal guy.”

But that’s kind of a creepy example, and I think I can do it one better.

Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy is the chief medical officer on the Star Trek Enterprise, he is a fourth-wall breaker when the other characters are making strong decisions. He serves as a moral compass for the trio of main characters by talking Kirk off the ledge and challenging Spock’s dry and cold approach to everything.

He is more human than Spock and less of a hero than Kirk, and he is most definitely an authority figure on the ship, who everyone defers to. One of the best quotes attributed to McCoy is the old “Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a [insert job of the moment]”.

I Don’t Believe In No-Win Scenarios

Without an emotional core, we have nothing to go on!

People don’t connect only to logic, nor do they respond to an authority figure just because they have a title, it’s the emotions that impassion a message and give a sense of humanity to whatever the topic at hand.

You know that because I’m fighting the good fight for all artists out there, and that I struggle with doubts but can carry on through passion and sheer force of will that I will make timotheories work and work for you. It’s about justice, imagination and painting a picture of a bright future for everyone that wants to make something beautiful.

PATHOS is for all of the artists who have a fire inside and will never give up. Or surrender.

theories Summarized

There is no way that well go over this all in two posts my friends, just I didn’t think it would happen in one post. But I do hope against hope that this is starting to come together for you.

In case the basic principles of the three modes of persuasion are not clear just yet, I’ll embellish on that Star Trek reference some more. LOGOS is probably the most obvious example and demonstrated through Spock, while I’ve just demonstrated that McCoy is ETHOS, and lastly Kirk is PATHOS. Kirk being the most impulsive and emotive of the three, he takes risks and always acts from instinct, experiences, and a sense of responsibility.

And as I’ve mentioned already, I have a pretty cool theory about how you can take the lessons from those three patron saints of Star Trek and apply their modes of thinking to your own work. But I need to power down for the night creative cuties. These theories don’t running on neverending battery.  At least not yet anyway.

Tim!