Category Archives: Life

I was once a dedicated follower of fashion!

I’ve been working on an idea for quite some time.

It revolves around Penny and Benny. Penny is a Sophisticat Fashion Blogger and he, her partner, does stuff on the web and keeks her blog up to date – he does the photos as well.

I have a picture book I want to make about them, but I really want to establish them as a couple first. I see them more as an adult type children’s book than just for kids.

My first project is going to be a KickStarter Maker 100 project. A limited edition project exclusively done in January. It will be a book of images of Penny in 1950’s retro fashion.

I’ve been doing sketches and putting them on instagram I’ve been really brave and opened an Estsy Shop too. I put three Penny watercolour sketches up and they’ve all gone!

When I was thirteen or so, I really got into fashion and wanted to be a designer – inspired by Dior and Yves StLaurent. I even did my main history project at  Olevel on Women’s Fashion. They didn’t know what to make of it or me! I wasn’t encouraged and eventually gave in to the electric guitar and singing in a band.

But doing these fashion drawings of Penny has reawakened something very deep, and I’m loving it – maybe I’ve found my calling at last!

What is Empathy?

With Empathy Day coming up on the 12th June, I’m having thoughts about what exactly empathy is.

There is a kind of animal empathy which is the innate and learned understanding of facial expressions and body language. It’s an almost universal language.

Innate animal empathy allows us to look at that smiley face above and understand the emotion portrayed. You can probably look at this group of Apple Emoji and give a pretty good approximation of the emotion each one portrays.

No matter where you were in the world, if you couldn’t speak the language, You would know if someone was happy or sad, tired or despondent, tense or relaxed. This kind of empathy oils the daily process of rubber ing along with other human beings.

Then there is a deeper kind of empathy – more psychological – definitely a learned thing.

It’s not sympathy – Sympathy is a feeling and showing of concern and. Sympathy is born of empathy.

Empathy is not compassion either – Compassion is more practical. It is sympathy with action, to help from a more distant position.

Empathy is the the parent of both those emotions. Without empathy there would be no reason to get involved in anything.

Empathy is placing yourself inside the shoes of another and looking at the world through their eyes, dropping your beliefs and prejudices for a moment, and really trying to understand how someone else views the world you share.

At that point, you may alter your views and re-examine your beliefs. At that point you may choose to have sympathy or compassion. You don’t have to though.

Maybe understanding is a closer description?

Seeing the world through another’s eyes does not mean you have to be best friends or that you have to help or fundraise for them.

You may detest the person whose eyes you look through – Hitler… Stalin… Shipman, maybe?  But by looking through their eyes, you may better understand how the world works and how you may defend yourself, your beliefs and your freedoms.

How best to see the world through other’s eyes? How to understand Hitler or Mother Theresa, the condemned man, the six year old child, the aged-aunt, the fluffy celebrity or a politician in free-fall?

Read a book.

Reading a book is like putting on a second skin – living in a different but similar world – wearing someone else’s shoes – looking out through someone else’s eyes.

Unlike another medium, you are at the centre of the story. You are looking out through the eyes of the protagonist. You are creating the scenery as you go along. You are creating an inner understanding of another person’s mind that will never go away.

Read a book – more than anything else, they are manuals to a deeper understanding of life.



Empathy Day 12th June

I’m going to be inThe New Forest on Empathy Day, this 12th of June. So will Sue Hendra, author of the wonderful Supertato, that I have enjoyed reading with children before. We will be at Netley Marsh CE Infant School, talking about and encouraging the skill of empathy with the children there, using ur books, stories and drawing.

Empathy day has been championed by Empathy Lab who have been researching the effect that reading has on empathy. A book is like no other medium. Movies and TV show you. We watch as observers. Empathy is about getting inside another person and seeing the world through their eyes. Nothing does this quite as well as a book.

We create the pictures inside our heads as we read, slowly filling the shoes of the characters and viewing the world through their eyes. This is a deep, sustained form of empathy lat lets us experience this world, and others – from the point of view of people, animals creatures and inanimate objects we might never encounter in real life.

Building the skills of empathy allow us to see the world through the eyes of our nearest and dearest, our neighbours and our foes. This understanding is the base point of sympathy, compassion and, most importantly, understanding, which is the root of peaceful negotiation and agreement.

On Empathy Day itself, I’ll be blogging about a book – a diary – that made a terrific impression on me, allowing me to see beautifully drawn Victorian characters in an awful situation as real human beings. I’ve always thought of the Victorians as stuffy, stupid or cruel. Reading the book allowed me see and feel the humanity and share the trials and tribulations of the people involved.

So, I’ll be thinking a lot about empathy over the next couple of weeks and may well come back to the subject. If you could look outing through someone else’s eyes, who would that person be and why?