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182. Face painting

When I was younger I had a Saturday job in an art shop and I loved it. Every month or so we'd do product demonstrations of the craft or art materials and the most stressful one that I always dreaded was facepainting. In my eyes having to paint a wriggling person is what they get you to do on repeat in hell.


With Faye Benfield

Faye is Digital Product Management Lead at Parkinson's UK and would always be part of my dream work team if I had to pick. She's super organised, always positive and clued up to what's going on in the digital world. She's also very lovely. I should probably quietly hate her for being so cool but I can't. Damn her.


So I approached this task with trepidation given my prior feelings to the craft and my new addition of a tremor into the mix. I even bought us masks to paint on so no one has to wear the result of the hours creativity.

Faye starts off by telling me how she got into it. Self-taught to begin with, she first picked up a brush for a friends event she had been asked to help organise. Then shortly afterwards another friend said she had seen a course advertised and was Faye interested in joining her on it. Faye now is that useful friend you can rope in to offer a fun skill at birthday parties or charity fundraisers.

We start painting and Faye shares some tips about hygiene and how to get the best out of the equipment. I decide to paint a tiger and she finds me a photo to work with. I start sponging orange onto the mask and realise that moist skin and absorbent cardboard aren't exactly the same when it comes to finish but we'll power through.

I'm finding it quite fun, building layer upon layer, grateful that we'd booked this for the part of the day where my tremor is usually taking a nap. This is not the chore I remember it being, perhaps it was the having to do it part that narked me off before.

We finish and admire our handiwork. Granted, Faye's lion is more consistent than my tiger but I'm super proud of it. I wonder what else I could try that I hated when I was a kid that I might like now!

'I've always enjoyed learning, I loved school. As I've gotten older my desire to learn (outside of work) has ebbed and flowed, sometimes hampered by anxiety and not feeling good enough, I've on occasion held myself back from learning and experiencing new things.' Faye Benfield

Talking to Faye on the subject of trying new things is fascinating. She was one of the people who just got why I was doing it when I first started the project:

'I recently learned (via the 6 Music breakfast show, and their guest neuroscientist Prof Sophie Scott) that the reason time seems to pass more quickly as we get older is because our brain is evolved to automatically process things we've done many times before, it's about efficiency. We don't need to spend precious brain power on washing the dishes, commuting to work or even driving. Have you ever driven somewhere and not remembered ANY of the journey? It's kinda scary, but it's just your brain being efficient. To counteract time passing quickly we need to experience and learn new things on a regular basis, this slows the passage of time as we create new neural pathways and process the new things. Finding this out has inspired me to be more proactive about my learning and to seek out new experiences more often. Feel like time is passing too quickly for you? Go forth and try new things!'


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