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Meet The Reinventor: Maisie Barlow, Artistic Director

My name is Maisie Barlow and I am confident, bubbly and some might say a little crazy! I spent my formative, teenaged years in New Zealand and then became an actress.

My passions lay with creativity and people and I'm currently doing a course that marries the two together at the Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education.

I enjoy being outdoors and absolutely love swimming and being on open water in my kayak. I believe in the power of the arts for social good and self exploration, alongside various artistic mediums being a way we can truly express ourselves and explore our innermost needs, when we know ourselves we are able to make the most of life!

What is the greatest challenge you faced in your life and how did you overcome it?

I think it was probably leaving my parents at the airport when I was 15, to travel back to New Zealand alone to finish my studies. It was a shock to my system to be living as a lodger and it really put into perspective what it meant to exist outside of a school setting.

I had made a promise to myself that I would do my best and achieve all that I could, I kept that commitment to myself in my mind and decided to focus on the positive parts of my life rather than the negatives.

It also taught me that sometimes our biggest achievements lay just behind our biggest fears. Now when I am faced with a challenge I think back to that 15 year old girl and think if I could do that, I can do this!

What impact do you want to make in the world?

I want to help people realise their potential and give them the confidence to ripple this effect outwards. I truly believe that kindness doesn't cost a thing and the greatest joy in life is to see something you have done positively impact others.

This is why I initially became an actress, to touch people in a way that made them question things about themselves and the world we live in. I think that compassion is the key to life and if we thought about others and our shared responsibility for what happens around us, we would have happier people and a healthier planet for all to enjoy.

What is something that nobody or a few people know about you?

I sometimes write notes and leave them for strangers to find on park benches and on the tube in London.

It all started when was living in Derby. I used to travel a lot for work up and down the country for auditions. One day I got on the train, to a pretty empty carriage and saw a girl on the phone to a friend in floods of tears. I didn't want to interrupt her conversation, she was talking about whats seemed to be a pretty painful breakup. I always carry a note pad and pen so I pulled it out and wrote a few words, reminding her of her beauty, strength and worth.

As I jumped off the train at the next stop, I dropped the folded not onto her lap as I passed and gave her a smile. I'll never know what happens to my notes, whether they are read or discarded but if people can spread hate for no reason, why not try spreading love.

What's your Top 3 life principles you live by?

Don't worry about the what if's.

Everything in life is a lesson or a blessing- count your blessings and strive to understand the lessons.

Who inspires you the most?

When thinking of inspiring individuals I will always go back to Maya Angelou. I remember when I first found out about her and I just couldn't stop listening to her recital of 'And still I rise'.

I am also inspired by my Mum, she is the kindest person I know and if I am ever to be half the woman she is I will have lived a good life.

What's your favourite book? Why?

I would have to say, Viktor E. Frankl's 'Man's Search for Meaning'. It is heartbreaking, raw, honest and above all allows you to examine your own existence. There is a certain paragraph in which the author, a holocaust survivor, is describing the image of his wife in his minds eye and it moved me to tears. After reading it, I ran around the workspace I was in, reading it to others.

Is there anything you ever regret in your life? Why? Do you want to change it?

I don't really believe in regrets, I think there are things in life that if I had the knowledge I have now I would probably have done differently, but that is part of living. I once had a good friend tell me that everything in life is a lesson or a blessing and I really feel that this is such an amazing way of looking at life. We learn from the lessons and we count our blessings!

Is there any moment that completely changed your life?

There was a series of events that completely challenged me and changed my life. It was early 2016 and I had been fired from a job that I loved due to an undesirable manager and in the same month I saw my boyfriend on a date with another girl. This could have destroyed me, I had been feeling so desperate, but something inside of me woke up and I began to question why these things had happened.

Later that year I was onstage performing a one woman show and receiving rave reviews for my performance. Without the struggle of the beginning of that year I really wouldn't have made it onto that stage. It serves as a reminder even now, that when things feel like they are challenging, they are really shining a light on something in my life I have to question or uncover.

Any goals/plans you want to achieve in the next 3-5 years?

I'd like to be instrumental in seeing Let's Reinvent grow into something that is making change happen and empowering individuals daily. By then we will have executed a handful of global programmes. I don't know where in the world I will be but my goal is to have a balanced work/play life and to integrate my learnings on my Art Therapy course to help others through coaching and interactive art psychotherapy workshops.


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