Practicing The Art of Kindness With Meredith Gaston
Meredith Gaston believes that there is no kindness or positive change too small. It’s with this mindset that she has carved out her dream career as an author, illustrator, and wellness coach. To date, she has written and illustrated seven joyful, uplifting books. Her most recent release, The Art of Kindness - Caring for Ourselves, Each Other and Our Earth, is designed as a guide to help readers practice just that. Meredith recently shared with us the most rewarding parts of her career, advice for budding creatives, and how she practices the art of kindness every day.
What is your Life Mantra?
I can’t narrow it down to one line but this is what I believe in: kindness, gratitude, joy, inspiration and freedom. Loving wholeheartedly. Having fun. Living a magical life.
Who inspires you?
My grandmother Nora continues to be a real inspiration for me, and is around me all the time in spirit. The sparkle in her eyes, her courage and tenacity, her devotion to faith and love, and her firm but kind way. In so many regards, she was ahead of her time.
I am deeply inspired by the Sufi mysti Rumi, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, St Francis of Assisi, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, Maya Angelou, and a colourful mix of others whose wisdom and example I explore, live, and weave into my books. In way of art I adore the work of Mirka Mora, Cy Twombly, Marc Chagall, and John Olsen - just to name a few.
You’re an artist, author, and wellness coach - how do you balance the creative aspects of your career with wellness coaching?
My appreciation for mind and body wellbeing and my love for others colours all that I do and create. In this way, the two ‘hats’ I wear professionally are completely intertwined. All my books are grounded in my philosophies around self-care and wellbeing. There is no kindness or positive change too small. The littlest gestures or moments of loving kindness towards ourselves are so powerful - enough to turn any tide. After all, what we are looking for isn’t somewhere ‘out there’ it is within us.
My books cover subject matter from the importance of rest and relaxation, the arts of gratitude, kindness and wellbeing, and the cultivation of inspiration in daily life. Each of my books is informed by my experience and research in the wellness space as an integrative health coach, and appears in both written word and illustration to uplift and inspire readers of all kinds.
What is the toughest lesson you’ve had to learn and how do you deal with overcoming adversity in life and in business?
I spent much of my childhood, teens and early twenties suffering chronic health issues and enduring much time in and out of hospital. I was often horizontal and feeling lacklustre. There is nothing more humbling than being unwell in this way. I learnt great patience, discovered more about my inner world, and tapped into resilience and courage I never knew I had. I took it upon myself to learn as much as possible about healing, not only for myself, but in order to be of loving service to others over time.
I am a highly sensitive person and out of respect for myself, have learned how to structure my business and lifestyle in support of the person I am. I prioritise my health and happiness so that I have real energy to care for myself and others. I live a spacious, quiet life, close to nature. I keep things as simple as I can. I work with people I love and trust, and have a small, efficient and thoughtful team by my side.
What is the one piece of advice that you would give others looking to embark on a creative career?
Be completely you. Make it your own. Your originality - your uniqueness - is your most precious asset.
You’ve written and illustrated seven books to date - what was your motivation behind these books and where did you find the inspiration to create them?
I am very much motivated by my own journey, and by my desire to see others experience happiness, health, and fulfilment in daily life. I care about other people and our earth, and feel into our infinite potential to make positive change. Human beings inspire me, the beauty of nature inspires me, and the wisdom of amazing thinkers, poets, artists and philosophers past and present nourishes me.
Your newest release, The Art of Kindness, is designed as a guide to help readers practice more kindness in their lives. What’s your number one tip for practicing kindness every day?
My number one tip is to practise small kindnesses as often as possible, until kindness becomes an unthinking, completely natural state of being. And then look at how much better life feels for you, in every single way! There is no kind word too insignificant. No compliment too small. No random act or gesture of kindness ever wasted. So say kind things. Perform kind acts with love. Just make a start, and let kindness grow. As Francis of Assisi reminds us, ‘It is in giving that we receive’. The power of kindness when it comes to transforming our own lives and the lives of those with whom we share our worlds, cannot be underestimated.
What is the most rewarding part of writing and illustrating a book?
Every part of the process is joyous for me, but nothing tops the moment when I am handed the first copy of a book - signed, sealed and delivered. It is magical. Every time.
Describe your average work day
Every day is different but usually I wake up, do a little bit of writing, make a beautiful breakfast, spend some time in the garden, do a little bit of admin, make a few work and personal calls, spend time at my desk and easel, take the dog to the beach or park, and do my yoga, meditation and stretching. I let my work ‘work’ around my life, rather than vice versa. And I still manage to get everything done! It feels miraculous, but being relaxed and rested means that everything just flows, and is done well.
I don’t love the idea of fixed routines. I’ve never had a diary, and I try to minimise appointments wherever possible. I don’t like to overwhelm myself with a busy schedule, and always allow for ample creative time. I take each day as it comes, depending on how I’m feeling, the season, and what is happening around me. People observe that I work extremely hard. I do, but I don’t feel it because I am always enjoying it. Always sinking into it. Time passes freely. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow.
What are the three things that you can’t live without?
Love, good food, sleep.
The best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Just get on with it and do it. Do whatever you are doing with love, care and authenticity. It doesn’t have to be perfect, perfection is subjective and fleeting. Don’t hold back on yourself or your dreams. We are here to make attempts; to make journeys. To explore, learn, and blossom. There is no time to lose.