Compassionate Conversations with Ailsa Robson

#transformationaltimes

Kindness and connection changes lives.

Artist, Alli Parson lives by this and the fact that you can never quite tell how much someone is suffering inside, so please always chose to be kind.

Alli created an art project to support her mental health whilst she processed the end of her 10 year relationship. She chose to create an artwork each day for 54 days, regardless of emotional state, and along the way she learnt invaluable lessons about herself.

Alli now has divine collections of Inspiration cards born out of transformational times and the messages that supported her, are supporting others.

We touch on accepting imperfections in life and art, the ripple effect of giving yourself permission to reflect and compassion along the way, why it’s important to follow your passion and just start (Alli worked from her dinner table and created art even on days she felt she didn’t have it in her).

Alli’s card collections are for sale and may be exactly what you or a dear friend need right now x.

We had a heartfelt conversation and reflected on various topics including: 

 

  • Body image angst
  • Permission to be imperfect
  • Self Compassion
  • The ripple effect of showing kindness
  • Following your passion

 

Mentioned Links:

Click here to read transcript of the interview...

Ailsa
Welcome, Alli Parsons, thank you so much for joining me today.

Alli
Thank you very much. I’m very, very pleased to be here.

Ailsa
Well, Alli, I feel very honored that you have chosen to speak with me today because we’ve got a bit of a professional and personal connection. And first of all, I might just introduce you as an artist, above all else do you think?

Alli
Okay, so yeah. I think that’s probably what I’m considered as at the moment anyway.

Ailsa
Yeah, absolutely. So Alli, has her own business, Nutmeg and Lime, and she is a watercolor artist. She also enjoys pottery, and does these beautiful little … well, I’ve got all sorts of those gorgeous little things like spice spoons, and you also do bookbinding and other magic things in your collection. But, I’ve particularly asked Alli to join me today, because she’s recently created a magnificent collection of inspirational cards. But maybe what I’ll do is backtrack a little Alli, and ask you about what roles and intentions fill your days.

Alli
That’s, that’s a big question. Where do you start with that? What roles? I mean, obviously, I start the day with being a mum. That’s always that’s where I start as far as that goes. And, you know, that’s with my son, I’ve got one son living here with me at the moment, so yeah, I sort of tend to use that role first, and then from there throughout the day, I tend to be the artist and yeah, yeah, because I’m the chef in the evenings, and just keeps, you know,

Ailsa
And a bit of a bird whisperer too. I can hear, are they your birds in the background?

Alli
I have budgies but I’ve also recently purchased a couple of finches so they are brightly colored, and I’ve called called them Claude Monet or Mona. Because they are like little paint palettes, they are the Gouldian Finches and they’re bright colored light painting. I couldn’t resist them the other day, and I thought they’re coming home with me.

Ailsa
Oh that’s lovely, I can hear this songs in the background, so that’s lovely to have that, you know, company during the day.

Alli
Absolutely. And I’ve got a water trickling with the fountain as well out there, I don’t know whether you can hear that, too? So that’s beautiful while I’m painting.

Ailsa
Well we’ve certainly got a gorgeous spring, sunshine day today here in Adelaide. Yeah, and maybe we can also talk about our connection. So what’s our connection to you?

Alli
Well, I think, now we’re going back probably about three years ago, or somesthing it would have been, and I did quite a bit of Googling, because I was going through quite a few traumas in my life, had been for somewhat 10 years or so. And I think I got to the point where a friend of mine had said to me maybe you need to see a counselor. So I went down that track and did the Google search, and I came across your name, and I kept going back to you out of all these other people, because there was something about you that clicked with me, and so I think I’ve sat on it for about six months before I contacted you because I’m a procrastinator, like, it’s what I do. But I think I kept going back to you all the time, because there’s something about you, and then in the end I contacted you and had a session with you and yeah, you inspired me a lot. So you helped me a lot with getting me on my path to different thinking even though we may have only had a couple of sessions. It was sort of, I just found that what you did say was enough to get me back on track.

Ailsa
That’s lovely, well I certainly remember when we first met, and, it’s always, it’s joyous when you meet a client that shares a lot of similarities and philosophies and interests. We, yeah, we hit it off, and I was so pleased, and your story’s not not very different to most people, there’s a lot of people that spend quite a bit of time searching and kind of looking in the background at social media and making sure that the person that they find is actually the real deal, I suppose before they step over the line.

Alli
Yeah, you have to be able to click with someone, don’t you, when you, especially when you want to confide in a lot of things, it needs to be someone that you feel that you can trust, and you certainly have been that, so

Ailsa
Thank you Alli, I appreciate your willingness as well, and also to share this with me because I’m on an interview that’s going onto the internet and live, this is very special to have you on here, but not so much about our work together, it’s really about like, where some of that has taken you now I’m really, really interested, and maybe we can start with how you, no doubt we’ve started off talking about this within one of our first sessions, but how perfectionism shows up in your life?

Alli
Now I thought about that the other day, and it’s one of those things that I think we all, it’s a bit of a love hate thing sometimes, isn’t it? I think, you know, we all share that to a certain point. I know, for me, I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be this perfect person for everyone, but in my work, especially I found when I was first starting to create and show my work, I felt so ashamed of showing anything that wasn’t perfect. And that was something that I have found really, really hard to let go of, I mean, there’s so many things. I mean, there was some little spoons, I don’t know whether you remember? I just happen to have them handy, yeah, but I made so many things that, they were faulty, and so I felt that they weren’t good enough to sell and things like that. And I think when you have a business, it’s a loss of costs and things like that as well when you’re trying to run something like that. But I found these little spoons that I made at one stage, there was three of them that cracked, I think there’s three? might have been more than that. And I put them all together, and I thought these dear little spoons. I can’t, I can’t throw them out, they’re just too beautiful to throw out, so I put up the little bundle and I put them up for sale at the same price as what I sold the others for, and I thought somebody is going to love these for what they are. And YOU put your hand up and said ‘pick me’

Ailsa
Because the imperfections, they were beautiful, little cracked, it was also, the glaze was just gorgeous, it was kind of cracked, which was beautiful I thought.

Alli
Yeah and that to me, that proved that you don’t have to always get everything perfect and everything right for it to be loved and appreciated for what it is. But yes, I think that, over the years, I have spent so much time trying to get everything spot-on, and if it’s not spot-on then I don’t like anyone to see it and I think that’s, I think working with you, that actually opened my eyes to realizing that it’s okay if it’s not perfect. Yeah,

Ailsa
Yeah, in fact, it gives layers, it gives layers to understanding and to knowing and to having a different perspective on life. I remember years ago, I had a moment in my 20s where I was just feeling overwhelmed. I think a relationship had ended, I was very sad, I was feeling really unsure about my body, and I just didn’t know if I was ever going to be loved and appreciated for who I was. So I took myself down to port Elliot, and I went down to the shoreline to the rocks down there. And I remember taking black and white photos of these big kind of granite boulders that the waves were washing onto, it was like that the waves were lovingly caressing these rocks, and they were all, they were like, they were imperfect, some of them were really large, and they kind of reminded me of my thighs, or my bottom, or other parts of me, they had creases and cracks and yet the ocean was loving them, like, really loving them, and caressing them, and I thought, This is what I have to remember that these are like all these beautiful bodies, you know, women’s bodies that are kind of, and men’s bodies, lying, they’re being caressed by the ocean for their imperfections. It was really profound for me at the time.

Alli
Yeah, absolutely, yeah, no, I love that, but yeah, I can very much resonate with that, because I’ve always felt the same, I’ve never liked what I had in my body, and I think I had struggled with a lot with my body image and things like that, especially now, I’m in a situation now where I’m now single woman, and after 10 years of being in a relationship, it left me with a lot of lack of self esteem, I guess, so yeah, I get that completely, so yeah, it’s funny when you to look at things and you think, well, if you’re okay, with that being perfect, then why can’t I be okay with myself not being perfect?

Ailsa
Yeah, and it just takes, sometimes there’s moments in time where it shifts that perception, and then you build on that, and you build on that, and you notice messages that are coming through to you, like, I feel like getting into your cards now if I may? Do you want to give a little bit of a background into what happened when you begin creating your cards?

Alli
Yeah, well, I was in, I had been in a 10 year relationship that was crumbling before my very eyes, and I was at a point where I didn’t know how to reach out for help, I didn’t know where to go, because I was in so much turmoil. I think that’s around that time when I spoke with you, and you had then express that, you know, maybe you saw the artwork. I don’t know if you can see them in background there, they’re hanging up there on the wall. There was a few pictures I brought in and I showed you, those, that I had started, but I felt like I’d failed because I hadn’t finished them. And you said why do they have to be finished? And then you went on to say about, why don’t you incorporate your artwork in your healing, so and I thought, well, actually, that actually makes a lot of sense. And then a little while later, I think I had a Zoom meeting with an art therapist. And she actually then also suggested something very similar to you. And then I got to the point where I got off, after seeing both of you and I went right, I need to get this art thing out of my system, because I feel that that is what is going to help me on the path to healing, and you know, throughout the following year, I went on to produce this first set of cards. And working with that I set myself 54 cards to paint for 54 days in a row, so it was one one a day. And it was mainly to keep me focused, and to keep me in a place where I could just, even on the days when I wasn’t in the mood to paint, I forced myself to paint and produce something, it didn’t matter what it was, as long as it was something and you’ll probably see there’s a couple of cards in this set that weren’t that great, but I didn’t care because it was how I was feeling at the time, and so yeah, and I’ve actually

Ailsa
All worthy, all worthy

Alli
Yeah, each one of them had a purpose, and it reflected my moods and things like that at the time, and it did help a lot with my healing so, it showed me that I was going to be okay. No matter what happens, so.

Ailsa
And as you were progressing, you were sharing them on Facebook, and what kind of response did you get?

Alli
Wow, I was blown away, I mean, the first couple of times, I think it was another friend of mine, he said to me, you should post these on Facebook, and you know, just share them with everyone share your work. And so I started doing it really just as a, it was really just as a healing thing for myself and never was meant to ever be something I was going to sell. But yeah, it turned out that, yeah, as I was gradually sharing them, everyone was just going crazy, saying they’re lovely, they’re so beautiful. And it just really built up my confidence a lot too, and I think that really helped, it made a huge difference to how I saw things, so

Ailsa
Where did you find the inspiration for some of the quotes and some of the words? like I’ve got here, ‘kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body’.

Alli
Some of those, I did get off the internet, I’d look and do a search because I had a picture in mind of what I wanted to paint, I wanted a quote to go with it that would match, or sometimes it was the other way around, or I’d think of a quote, and then I want a picture to match. So I do lots of research and things like that. Sometimes I’ve made up the quote, some of them are just some of my funny little thoughts that I put it in to them, I think there was one with rainbows on it, I think that was another one that, I can’t even remember where that one is now, that was another one.

Ailsa
I love the one with the eye. Yes, to really see yourself.

Alli
That one I think I kind of made up a bit, I saw the quote and went, I think I’ll just turn it into something that is all about me.

Ailsa
And you did this within a day didn’t you?

Alli
Yeah

Ailsa
That’s amazing. Yeah, and so that process, there would have been opportunities, as you said, you kind of stuck to it even when it was uncomfortable.

Alli
There were days that I didn’t want to paint at all, because it was so low, but I just made myself do it, whether or not I wanted to or not and yeah, it gave me focus and it gave me a purpose and that’s I think what I think I needed at that time so because I was pretty low.

Ailsa
Yeah, yeah. Well, it was wonderful to watch that journey, and I know that not only do you have one card set, now you have two cards sets.

Alli
I do, I do, we’ve given birth to another set.

Ailsa
Yay, yay, and I’ve passed on your card set to others, and I know that these are also being gifted out and passed on to other people and you’re hearing stories about that too aren’t you? The ripple effect.

Alli
Oh, it’s beautiful, the stories that I’ve been getting back, the feedback on my page, you know, the amount of people, one person in particular, she said that what she’s done, I think it was one of my cousin’s, I think in England, she was actually, through all the COVID stuff, she was actually handing out cards to people or posting them individually, so, and I thought that was beautiful, because she picked one out and select one just for that one person, that suited them and cheered them up, and I thought that’s so beautiful, gifting a one card to each person, so yeah, it’s lovely the feed back I’ve had.

Ailsa
The compassion that you showed yourself, is then rippling out to other people having compassion for themselves, and then also showing compassion for others as well isn’t it?

Alli
Yeah, and that’s what I think I found, is that it did, it had like you said it had a ripple effect, I found that, what, helped me helped others as well, which was an absolute bonus, because I just thought that was so good that it was helping others as well, so yeah.

Ailsa
Absolutely, and it’s taken you a little bit further now too, hasn’t it? In a business sense. It’s creating more, can you talk about that next little project that you’re working on or is it just something special?

Alli
There is some special things happening, actually, I am currently working on a website, so we will have a website up and running, as we speak I’ve being the last couple of days been working on a website. So that’s, that’s a biggie, because that way I can get the card sets launched on there, which I feel will help expand that side of things, and I do intend on going a couple more sets yet. There is a couple other things on the cards, but it may be a little, a little book happening as well, and I’ve also been asked to do a special set of cards for a man that I have been talking with, he produced, I don’t know if you can see this one, that was a book called just one reason. And that was based on, suicide prevention and that sort of thing, which it has affected my life as far as that part of things go. And, I feel that that is something really important as far as mental health goes, and when he was discussing it, he wants to expand, so there may be, you know, maybe room there for a little nutmeg and lime book with all my cards in it. And later on down the track, I think he’s also asked me to do a set of cards, a commission set of cards for him as well, so just for his business, so, yeah, it’s happening. Lots of things happening.

Ailsa
If you were to, you know, somebody’s listening to our interview today, and they think wow, what an opportunity I love to create art myself or I like drawing or I like watercolor or photography or anything, what would you say to them?

Alli
Do it, don’t even think about it, Just do it? Because when it’s a passion, I just think, I’ve been having the same discussions with my boys, and my youngest son, especially he’s 15, and, we were talking about it the other day, because he’s a bit mixed with what he wants to do throughout his life, or how he wants to start with apprenticeships and things like that. And I say whatever you do, make sure that you love doing it, because there’s got to be a big element of passion and enjoyment.

___ Slight Pause in video as there was a power out _____

Ailsa
Thanks for your patience their Alli, it seems that there’s a perfectly imperfect power outage that just happened at my end. And it cut you off, but you were talking about if somebody was to say that they wanted to create art themselves, then you said, go for it, do it, if it makes you happy.

Alli
Absolutely, yeah.

Ailsa
And then you were starting to talk about

Alli
Yeah, I was talking about my boys, when there’s a passion for something, something grabs your attention, go with it, and make it the best you possibly can, and that’s my, my thing. You know, I’ve seen so many people having jobs and things like that in nine to five jobs that they actually hate. And I think, I know a lot of people need income and things like that they’re doing what they need to do, just to bring in the income, but somewhere there has to be a little element of something that you love, even if it’s something that you do, just as a hobby on the side, keep it and, keep plugging away at it is what I say just do it, do it.

Ailsa
Absolutely

Alli
I mean, I would love to teach art as well, I have done a few classes and workshops and things like that, and that is something I’m going to expand on later on down the track too. Because I just think I just want to share with everyone that art is such an important part of life, I think,

Ailsa
Yes, yes

Alli
Whether it’s someone that’s viewing the work, or whether it’s for someone that’s actually doing the work, we all share in art, somewhere along the line.

Ailsa
We do, we do, and again, it’s our, it’s only our perspective, of whether or not something is worthy or not worthy, the art itself is just what it is. And if it brings you pleasure and brings you joy, I am an absolute advocate for pleasure in life, we are taught to kind of be to push pleasure down because we need to get on with life, and it’s as if it’s a bit frivolous, and indulging, but immerse yourself in your senses and find meaning in something that you’re creating, it’s so important. And witnessing this, this ripple effects just having the opportunity to connect with somebody that makes you feel heard and seen, and witnesses your story then gives you the permission to then move out into the world to explore your own story and have permission and then you give other people permission and it just passes on down.

Alli
Absolutely

Ailsa
And whether or not your boys are embracing it yet, they are witnessing you do it, so you’re already teaching them aren’t you?

Alli
Follow your passion, that’s exactly right, whether it’s art or some sort of creativity, I mean, two of my boys are right into cars, and detail, and you know, things like that on cars, it’s still creative it’s a passion go with it. Art to me has just been, my whole family have all been artists, my oldest sister is like my guru of painting, well actually both of my sisters, Sharon and Karen have both been my mentors as far as painting goes, I mean, their work is impeccable, like their work is perfect. Sorry but it is.

Ailsa
I’m sure they probably don’t see it that way though. Do they?

Alli
No, they’ve probably knocked everything they’ve done.

Ailsa
Yeah.

Alli
But, I look at their work and go wow, they’re amazing, and so they’ve always been an inspiration, and my whole family have been artistic, and I think that you don’t yet have to be artistic though to start painting and to start creating, you just have to want to do it, and that’s what I think is all you need is want to do it, so, if that makes sense.

Ailsa
Oh that’s lovely, and so I feel like we’ve kind of been dancing around perfectionism and compassion, is there anything that you want to add to this conversation about perfectionism or compassion?

Alli
What could I add to it? There’s so much that you could add to it, isn’t there? I just think, don’t beat yourself up, I think I’ve done that a lot with everything that I’ve done, as I mentioned before, even with the little spoons, and you know, just, there’s so many things that I’ve made and creatives that I’ve just felt as though was never good enough, and in that you could also use that in yourself. Like, there’s so much about myself that I think is not good enough to show other people, and you hide it. And I think that we need to start realizing that we are enough and what we present is, it should be accepted in we should learn to accept it ourselves, so, I think

Ailsa
That was interesting, because that’s the card that I pulled out. You are enough.

Alli
Absolutely, I was in tears when I painted that one. Yep, that was a painful one for me, because I felt that after my breakup, that I was not enough, and that was an important card for me. That was a biggie.

Ailsa
Yeah, those words are huge words that we will struggle with, we all struggle with, yeah.

Alli
In so many ways, too, isn’t it? Whether it’s looks or whether it’s your size? Or whether it’s personality? We all struggle with it?

Ailsa
Yes. Yeah, and I, love that, this has been wonderful to talk to you and to see, I’ve got, there’s so many there’s like, I would love to show like all the cards as we go, but that’s okay, because you can buy your own set of these cards, and Alli’s got, oh, I haven’t seen those, are you opening up the new set?

Alli
Do you want to give a quick reveal?

Ailsa
Yes please

Alli
I’ll give you a quick flash.

Ailsa
Go on then, go on

Alli
There’s the back of the new set.

Ailsa
ohhh, I like that, is that a dandelion?

Alli
Blown away, expanding and it’s flying away, and it’s spreading its wings.

Ailsa
I like that

Alli
My mum told me after doing this other set here,

Ailsa
Yeah

Alli
See those?

Ailsa
Yeah

Alli
That’s the back of the other set, I don’t know, is that reflecting?

Ailsa
Yes, I can see it.

Alli
And she said she was disappointed with the back of them, because she said there wasn’t enough colour in them, and I thought, Oh, I didn’t think of that, I was just thinking of keeping that simple, but so for the second set, she said, can you please do something a bit more colourful and I though oh, I can’t not please my dear mum, so I thought right, we’ve got colour now.

Ailsa
I love it. I love it.

Alli
So that’s the first card, there’s so many here that I could share but you have to buy the pack to see it, there’s 54 of them, otherwise there’s too many to flash in front of you, but yeah, I’m a bit excited, that’s my sample set here so, I’m in the process of working on this next series, so they will be available very very soon I hope.

Ailsa
Yeah, and maybe there might be some people that haven’t actually got any card sets or affirmations that they have around the house, I’ve got lots, I have like a tear off Louise Hay affirmation calendar that’s a 365 day calendar, so, and then just the words with with pictures. But I also have a lot of other card sets that I kind of draw on for inspiration, sometimes it’s helpful if you’re journaling and you want a prompt for what to write about, or if you’re having a difficult day, it could be that you mount a couple of cards around your house. There’s lots and lots of opportunities, as you said, gifting them, gifting them individually or gifting packs, we’re coming up to Christmas, this is exciting because you can also buy some of these from Alli too, and other things on her website, she’s a talented photographer too, all sorts of things

Alli
I started out as a photographer, I think the photography really helped with painting too, because it allowed me to learn how light sits and things like that, and shading and shadows. It taught me that side of things, and I found that there was a lot that I learned with photography that I’ve incorporate into painting as well so, yeah, it’s

Ailsa
Fantastic.

Alli
Yeah, go with your passions, that’s what I say, go with.

Ailsa
Yep, I say it too, I mean, step outside of your comfort zone and give it a whirl, and if you do need somebody to walk alongside you whilst you’re kind of exploring some of that, certainly I work with people literally walking alongside them, like walk and talk therapy or sitting in the room. But then there’s also you mentioned I think it’s Bel Ryan didn’t you?

Alli
Yes I did

Ailsa
Yeah, so yes, she’s another Adelaide based therapist, art therapist, and there’s a lot of people working within both of our spaces so if you do want to explore that with a professional, qualified mental health provider, then please seek us out. There’ll be links to everything below – mine, Alli’s Bel’s, and we’re all interested in keeping contact. So, thanks so much Alli, really appreciate your time today, and I can’t wait to see where this leads you next.

Alli
Neither can I, I can’t wait either, I’m excited, and thank you so much for having me on here, I’ve really enjoyed it, I was very nervous, I got there in the end.

Ailsa
You didn’t even say that, yes. Thank you. I really appreciate your generosity of spirit and time having a chat with me.

Alli
I’ve really enjoy it, it’s been good.

Ailsa
Okay. Thank you so much. Bye,

Alli
Thank you. Bye

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