Learn to rest but not quit. This is something that took me a long time to learn and I am still a work in progress. At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey I was very adamant about working any waking minute. I started noticing my burn out events and even tracking them to understand why they happened. For me burnout was also accompanied with feelings of defeat and desire to give up and quit entirely. With time I learned that it is ok to rest even if I am not seeing the results that I want to see right away. Rest is essential to keep going, and this journey is a marathon.
As a part of my series about the the things we can do to develop serenity and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Volta Voloshin-Smith. As the founder and artist behind Color Snack Creative Studio, Volta brings original concepts and brands to life through watercolor illustrations, animations and online workshops. Volta’s vibrant designs enable brands to use color & connect with consumers in a meaningful and engaging way. And her virtual workshops provide a safe and nurturing way to experience calm and creative self-expression.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I have always felt like an artist at heart but didn’t always pursue it. After college, I spent about a decade in the field of digital marketing. Even though I enjoyed the work, something was still missing for me. During one fateful flight back home after a trip, I experienced a lot of turbulence and fear as a result. At that moment it became very clear to me that my time on earth might be limited and despite that I haven’t even tried to purse the one thing that set my soul on fire. Since that moment I started taking steps towards becoming a full-time artist and creative entrepreneur.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
One of the proudest moments since I started on my journey to be an artist was being invited to lead a brand activation watercolor workshop for the Dallas Mavericks. It was during Art & Basketball night and I was one of the participating artists, leading a workshop for their attendees. It was an exciting night that celebrated the local art scene along with basketball and I am so grateful I got to be a part of that.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Learn to rest but not quit. This is something that took me a long time to learn and I am still a work in progress. At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey I was very adamant about working any waking minute. I started noticing my burn out events and even tracking them to understand why they happened. For me burnout was also accompanied with feelings of defeat and desire to give up and quit entirely. With time I learned that it is ok to rest even if I am not seeing the results that I want to see right away. Rest is essential to keep going, and this journey is a marathon. Every small step we take will add up to something great. But we cannot operate and be the best at our jobs if we do not rest.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
I would recommend instilling a culture that celebrates rest and mindfulness just as much as they celebrate achieving goals. Time to play and feel creative can be wonderful ways to recharge from typical daily tasks. This type of active resting can bring many about many new and innovative ideas.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
‘Stillness is the Key’ by Ryan Holiday. This book resonated with me because it mentions and teaches the art of stillness when the world around is spinning. It shows different examples from celebrities, athletes, notable people, who have taken to the habit of embracing stillness as a way to deal with a chaotic environment. This ability enables people to make the correct decisions no matter how stressful the situation.
It resonated with me because at the time I was having trouble staying focused and kept getting distracted by multitude of social media notifications. Reading that book helped get back on track and instead of wasting my time online, I became more intentional about how I spend my day. It helped me get back into my moments of stillness for greater focus and better mental health.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious just from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
5 steps to develop serenity during uncertain times:
- Dedicate time to sit still and either meditate, or pray, whatever aligns with your belief system. The important thing is to spend even just 10 minutes each day, in a quiet moment, without any distractions. Take deep breaths and focus on the breaths. The idea is not for us to have nothing to think about but to rather just sit, observe our thoughts, and take deep breaths.
- Get out your watercolor paints and get creative. Many studies have proven that art creation leads to reduced levels of cortisol, which is responsible for stress. The most important part is that skill level of the art being created is irrelevant; the benefits are still there. Creating art, no matter how complex or simple, helps us get out of our heads and be in the present moment. That is the main reason why I created my watercolor meditation class — it was a response to the pandemic and a marriage of two of my favorite worlds: watercolors and meditation.
- Grab a journal and do a daily brain dump. This practice is adapted from the book ‘The Artist Way’ by Julia Cameron and it mentions doing Morning Pages. Essentially this is a way for us to write out all our worries and fears and leave them out on the paper. It helps declutter our heads and express those feelings in a healthy way. The purpose of this type of journaling is not to refer back to the writing. It is to just simply release and never look back. I often end up (safely) burning those notebook pages and which gives me a feeling of lightness and freedom.
- Listen to a visualization or sleep meditations. Often times those are combined with breathing exercises as well. They provide a nice framework of visualizing a peaceful scene, and living that feeling in the moment, regardless of what is happening in the outside world.
- Daily gratitude. Start a habit of listing things you are grateful for every day. It’s important to not do that mindlessly but rather with intention and feeling behind it. Give the gratitude a context so it is more meaningful. For example, instead of “I am grateful for my husband/wife/partner” you could say “I am grateful for my husband because he cooked a delicious meal for us today”.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
5 steps we can offer support to those who feel anxious:
- Listen to what they have to say without trying to offer solutions. Be really present with them while they explain their feelings.
- Check in with them on a regular basis without intrusive messages. Send happy memes or funny animal videos to lift up their spirits.
- Invite them to have a video chat with you and find a game or activity you could both do while chatting online. You could both doodle each other or follow along an art tutorial and then compare your masterpieces.
- Send them a happy letter or package in the mail. It could be something handmade or a colorful card made by you.
- Send them a playlist of soothing music to help them relax and feel calm
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
My favorite resource during times of anxiety has been doing meditative art exercises with watercolors. This art medium has a very soothing property in that one can observe the beautiful colors interacting with water and the flow that results from that. A watercolor exercise can be a series of repetitive brush strokes and they can combine taking deep breaths in and out with that. The result is a meditative art experience that calms the mind and brings you to the present moment.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
One of my favorite life quotes is the following by Jacob Riis.
“Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”
I like this quote because it helps me keep going in my journey and fighting for the things I believe in no matter how many times I have to try. Success is all a matter of consistency and the more we persist and continue with our path, the more opportunities and good things will come our way.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
A movement to instill a meditative art habit for everyone. It’s so powerful in helping us feel more at peace and express our feelings in a safe and colorful way.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!