MAR 20

Transformative Spaces


selfArchive Blog 12/17  
Transformative Spaces

Transformative spaces are places free of bias, censorship and distortion. This concept visualizes a form of open space that promotes dialogue. In order to identify these open spaces, we need delineation—either they are open spaces or they are closed spaces. If the objective is an open space for dialogue without bias, then boundaries represent a form of censorship that is unacceptable. One solution is to recontextualize the perimeters as transformers. Using this framework, people and ideas transmute into receptors as they cross the membrane into the neutralized transformational space. When the exchange is finished, people are free to resume their shape as they exit.

This concept envisions a safe opportunity for the exchange of ideas. In order to create lasting change, a conscious willingness to suspend judgement is required. This is how genuine exchange and conscious transformation happens.

selfArchive 745 | Awareness | Diagram

© 2017 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2013 – 2017 Arlene Cotter Transformative Spaces
MAR 13

Creative Fear


selfArchive Blog 11/17
Creative Fear 

To live is to create. Human Beings cannot stop creating. As dynamic organisms we are constantly changing in response to the infinite potentials that surround us. In moments when we glimpse the interconnectivity of all things, our expanded perception can just as easily inspire us as overwhelm us because if we accept the responsibility that we are all co-creators, we will be asked to face both our capacities and our fears. When we’re attentive—and brave—we can live more of ourselves by meeting these moments with conscious intentionCreative Fear locates a moment of potential. Confronted by fear, a diver stands frozen even as the waters rise around her. Either she will make a conscious intention to swim, or fall unconscious. 

selfArchive 705 | Illustration

© 2017 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2013 – 2017 Arlene Cotter Creative Fear Series
MAR 06

Living Peace


selfArchive Blog 10/17
Living Peace

Consider 10 words from Mohandas Gandhi,* the international figure of peace.

There is no path to peace.
Peace is the path. **

The words embed a profound approach to many of the world’s social and political problems, yet this simple, direct message of peace is often lost to us. Here are five reasons for why we might overlook it:

Some of us can’t hear the message;

Some of us don’t understand the message;

Some of us distort the message, and

Some of us simply don’t care.

A fifth response is more interesting:

Some of us can hear and understand the message perfectly well but choose to ignore it because—whether consciously or unconsciously—we realize that peace requires too much effort on our part.

A willingness for encounter speaks directly to what lies at the core of self-awareness. Becoming self-aware doesn’t ask us to behave in any particular way except in one regard: Self-awareness asks us to notice what we’re doing and what we’re not doing.

When we read Gandhi’s words, even those of us with the best of intentions, might find ourselves jumping straight to an impersonal concept of peace activism (likely something far too ambitious to sustain) instead of being thoughtful about what is actually being stated and what is being asked of us. These simple words challenge us to sit in the ‘peace begins with me’ place for long enough to create a change in our own lives. If we’re willing, we’ll hear that peace is not something to seek, but something to live. 

Far from being in any way simplistic, these powerful words challenge each of us to live a peaceful (or peace-filled) life. In other words, right here, right now, peace demands our personal commitment. We’re asked to acknowledge that even though we might want peace in the world, peace demands something of us that we may or may not be willing to offer. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll concede that we’re making peaceful choices in our lives… or we’re not.

When we stay present and resist hiding behind the complexity of our stories, truth comes forward. Facing truth in our daily lives can be as daunting a challenge as it is for Gandhi’s’ would-be peace ambassadors. Most of us know this firsthand because between the consequences of our behaviour, the demands of our relationships and the constant bombardment of media, we struggle to live a peaceful life every single day.

Truth is elegant and simple,
so unlike
the complications we create
to keep us from facing it.

selfArchive 757 | Awareness | Illustration

* ** Mohandas Gandhi (1869 -1948) was a political leader for Indian Independence and world figure for non-violent activism. 
© 2017 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2017 Arlene Cotter, Peace
FEB 27

Human Boundaries


selfArchive Blog 09/17
Human Boundaries

Our thoughts create boundaries. We create real and imagined boundaries that define how we situate ourselves in relation to the world. Boundaries are whatever we create—physical and non-physical, concrete and abstract, real and imagined. Some boundaries protect us and others restrict us. When we explore the boundaries we create, we learn where our edges are soft or hard, rigid or flexible. We discover what we allow to touch us and what we block.

selfArchive 740 | Awareness | Diagram

© 2017 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2017 Arlene Cotter, Human Boundaries
FEB 06

Redux of First Book


selfArchive Post 06/17
Redux of First Book

Redux celebrates a long overdue thank you to my readers, contributors, publisher and agent. It is a formal acknowledgement of my first book. 

For years, I tried to keep my professional and private lives separate. When I wrote From This Moment On: A Guide for Those Recently Diagnosed With Cancer, the schism further widened. While I will comfortably present to 500 people on the topic of design, I had reservations about publicly sharing my private struggles with cancer. I’m an introvert by nature but that wasn’t the reason; I felt uncomfortable about sensationalizing what is for cancer patients and their loved ones an intimate and life-altering journey. My intention was to guide people on their own journey, not to distract them with mine.*

With time I’ve realized how the book, its contributors and readers helped me come to terms with my own cancer experience. The resulting integration of my professional and personal lives now allows me to share what I’ve learned without feeling guilty about surviving cancer—at least most of the time. My experience has also privileged to me to witness many stories of healing, each precious and unique.

* It hadn’t occurred to me that people might be interested in my story. My goal was to develop a tool to help others shape their own cancer journey. I was wrong. People were curious.

Explore the Book

© 2017 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
JAN 02

Polar Bear Swim


selfArchive Post 1/17
Polar Bear Swim

Polar Bear Swim was an exercise in creative process that took place over four weeks. The objective was to circumvent my professional (and deeply ingrained) challenge-solution design methodology. Without any conceptual agenda, I committed time each day to sit in silence and allow something visual to unfold… or not. Day by day the image evolved from bathing cap… to swimmer… to polar bear girl…. Each week the form became simpler and more stylized. In week four, something unexpected happened—a polar bear head emerged from within the swimmer. The final image transforms from human swimmer to polar bear and polar bear to human swimmer. 

selfArchive 701 | Creativity | Illustration

© 2017 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2017 Arlene Cotter, Polar Bear Swim Series