Cleo Heard (Miss*C’s Graffiti Academy) Dyspraxia
How did you start your day today? Do you have a morning routine? What do you have for breakfast, do think a good diet is important?
I start every day the same way, wishing I could stay in bed for another hour. I am a creature of habit… always eating the same thing for breakfast, and believe good diet is essential. So much so I am alcohol, caffeine, gluten free and have regular nutritional therapy with the fabulous @sarahbayliss
How do you stay active? And what do you do to relax?
Before Covid, my job as a graffiti workshop facilitator kept me super fit, I did yoga classes and had adult swimming lessons (knowing I have dyspraxia was so helpful) and swam 4 times a week.
During lockdown I found Qigong via the brilliant @theqigang and I took up running but that is on hold while I deal with injury. I have always danced at any opportunity and I attend the incredible @lovetolearnto breathwork classes for relaxation.
Do you have a favourite word or phrase?
All the swear words and the word squidgy
Have you read anything good recently? Is there a book that changed your life?
Wintering by Katherine May (currently listening to this for the second time)
Insanely Gifted by Jamie Catto
A Year of Living Simply by Katie Humble
This Book will Change Your Mind about Mental Health by Nathan Filer
Currently reading: Environmental Arts Therapy and the Tree of Life by Ian Siddons Heginworth
The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton is the book that made me fall in love with reading even though I have always found it difficult.
Which 5 albums would you want to have with you on a desert island?
The Verve – Urban Hymns
Faithless – The Greatest Hits
The Cure – Greatest Hits
Massive Attack – Blue Lines
Sleeper – The It Girl
There are sooooo many more I would choose.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and who was it from?
I’m not sure I’ve ever received a “best piece of advice” but I am definitely a firm believer in trusting your gut feeling – if it doesn’t feel right, it often isn’t.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you were a grown-up? And what was your first Job?
My first love was dancing, and I always thought I would be a dancer, but I got retired professionally as a ballerina at 14. I did continue to dance, taking a Contemporary dance A-level and one of my first jobs was dancing on podiums in clubs and at raves! I sold mobile phones with bleary eyes in the daylight hours.
What do you do now and how did you get into it?
I have had the Graffiti Academy for the past 12 years and I have recently qualified as an art therapist. I have always observed with wonder the therapeutic benefits of creativity. I had explored becoming an art therapist when I was 19, in fact I interviewed for the art therapy qualification at the same university twice. Only took me 25 years to qualify as one!
Creativity and thinking differently are often credited to neurodiversity. Would you say that is true? And if yes, could you give an example?
I completely agree, I’m often the person that notices stuff other people don’t. I also have an eerie intuition! I can also trip over my own shadow VERY easily.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus, what do you do to get back on track? Do you have any hacks, tips or do you use any apps to keep you on track during the day?
This happens a LOT and I am learning what helps me get back on track. I listen to studying frequencies when I am trying to read, prefer low lighting and being outside. Working in the depths of the night, away from all distractions, always helps. I wrote my dissertation between midnight and 4am – every night – for weeks. I’m a fan of a to-dah list (listing the things as you achieve them), creative journaling and I NEED water! Hot baths, being by or in the sea and swimming all reset me.
Colour-coded schedules rock my world!! My student planner is how my dyspraxia was detected – by an eagle-eyed disability coordinator at my university!
How does your Neurodiversity affect new relationships? This can be professionally, socially or romantically.
I’m not sure how it affects my relationships – I am still working this out after only receiving my diagnosis 3 years ago. I am super sensitive to noise, light and temperature which is often difficult for others to understand. Oh, and I find the unknown, secrets and surprises quite difficult. The lockdowns have taught me that I am an introvert that can mimic being super sociable but not for long. I certainly recharge best in isolation and when in nature.
What makes you happy?
Spending time with my grown-up children, my baby nephew, and friends. Traveling! When that was a thing! Being by the sea, new art supplies, the smell of vanilla, Fry’s Turkish Delight, clothes with the labels cut out, dancing, sleeping, breathing, journaling, colour-coding, good food, warm weather, my she-shed, sunsets and amazing views.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Without a doubt getting my children to adulthood.
In second place would be my qualifications – especially now I understand how difficult it is for me to read, study and retain information.
Do you have a Positive ND message to the world? Imagine you have a £5 million advertising campaign to spend on billboards all over the world, what would you say?
I truly believe neurodiversity is a superpower!
My billboard would say something like: Love your neurotypical friends.
They have no idea how interesting life can be.
Final question – where can people find out more about you? Do you have a website and social media pages?
I have social media, website, and LinkedIn as Miss*C’s Graffiti Academy
And as Creative Journaling for Wellbeing on Instagram
I am in the process of building a website for my art therapy practice and can be emailed at:
Email: cleo.art.therapy (at) gmail.com