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Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

The great rumble and lurch as I hurtle along the concrete path, a sudden lift in the pitch black. The lights become smaller, we bump through the blanket and poooof!

Out we pop above the beautiful marshmallow mattress of cloud-cover. Rolling out into the distance like a soft winter blanket. The purest while, rippled and dappled with the blue of the dawn.

A bright orange speck on the horizon splits through distant cover and streaks a sunbeam across my vision. The colour, the deepest brightest blood orange. A tint only possible made by something Greater.

The sweetest, rawest sunrise over T5, en route to Copenhagen, 7am in October.

The infinite bobble blanket so beautiful, my heart swells. Another small adjustment, a gentle tug forward, and we rise another few thousand feet, the blanket drops away.

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Goosebumps. A spark.

I read this article:

https://medium.com/life-learning/last-night-i-panicked-i-was-scared-id-been-wrong-2540105fe554#.79tdh9l8j

I saw this quote:

I think there are too many people who try and present a smiling, sexy, happy, glamorous version of themselves online. Their lives appear perfect, without a glimpse into the shadows and the shit that keeps them up at night.

I feel draw to the phrase “The shadows and the shit”. It’s the dark side of all of us. “I’ve got fractures, cracks and damages”. We all have. It’s our humanity. It’s our beauty.

I feel a stirring in my soul. It looks like a poem, tastes like a song.

Inspiration hits. “Ding”.

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I’ve just returned from a weekend in the Woods with 200 shiny people who were all buzzing at the edges with energy and ideas around escaping the Corporate world and embarking on what is known (in those circles) as a “21st Century Career”. But more on that later…

At the festival two things happened (well, again, much much more, but relevant to this post); 1. I turned my phone off for the weekend, and 2. I encountered an amazing group called the Rebel Book Club, with wonderfully book-obssessed people, who meet monthly to read and discuss a world-changing book. I have plans to join.

So today, back at my desk, fully hardwired back into interweb-networks, I found myself scanning their Twitter feed and a post to this article:

How Making Time for Books Made Me Feel Less Busy (Havard Business Review)

And I spend my very short lunch hour (not an hour) at my desk, reading the article and drinking my soup. Not really getting away from my glowing screen.

I immediately wanted to jump on Facebook to announce to my world (my Facebook world) that I was leaving Facebook for a month and heading to the mountains of digital detox-dom. But then I realised we have a New Year’s Resolution Club meeting next week and I need to be on Facebook to promote and so forth. Not that easy.

So instead, I have decided to follow Hugh McGuire’s excellent 3 step approach to becomming less busy through reading more books:

1. I get home from work, I put away my laptop (and Phone).

2. After dinner during the week, I don’t watch Netflix or TV, or mess around on the Internet. 

3. No glowing screens in the bedroom (Kindle is OK, though).

You’ll need to read How making time for books made me less busy for the positively bouncey benefits, and I am completely sold. This kills two birds with one stone – how to feed and nuture my bookworm, whilst taking baby steps towards a full on digital detox (which I’m not sure is entirely possible given that I work, but a partial, out of office hours detox could be the way forward).

I’ve been trying to get TV out of my life for ages, this may help. Netflix went last week, replaced with NowTV (so much better). So that will be a tough cookie.

My phone and ipad have been taking up residence on the bedside table (on top of the Kindle). I will now banish them to another room.

We have the builders coming in in less than two weeks and right now there are a million other things we should be doing rather than messing around on the internet. So I’m hoping this will really make a difference. Let’s give it a whirl for a month and see what happens!!

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My friend Anita has a beautiful outdoor porch. She uses it as her retreat, leaving the confines of the house with walls, out in the garden, surrounded by trees and the click and bleep of a thousand invisible insects.

This haven is set deep in a sub-division of Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m entranced by the exoticism of the garden surrounds; bright pink and purple flowers hanging heavy on tree branches. Red birds flitting around the feeder. And that noise. That jungle-loud insect cacophony that rings out from the dense woodland lining the housing estate, constant, other-worldly, hypnotic.

We paint on the porch. Picking over the long lines of white paint tubes, all spattered in a kaleidoscope of colours. Squeezing and dabbing and swirling that paint onto clean white canvases in many shapes and sizes. Seeing what flows from the brush. Listening to the bleeps, working alongside each other in silence, feeling waves of warm air drift through the porch, and out into the expansive woodlands behind.

Two big fans on the ceiling gently throw invisible sheets of cool air down on us, a welcome relief. We swill our brushes, heavy with turquoise, pink, orange, green, around in the murky water in the jam jar.

Faces emerge from our canvases. Lizards, birds, animals, humans. We rip and stick newspaper cuttings, messages from the print. Sequins, beads, glitter. Wash over with another layer of paint.

Our hands and legs grow freckles of paint. I have some in my water glass. A dab more, a dash here.

And then it’s done. We lift our canvases up to take a look, and prop them up on the mosquito netted windows to admire our latest creations.

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I’ve been writing a morning journal for the last two months, by hand, using a pen and flowing ink and scrawling my spider-scrawl across a notebook. It’s part of my new morning ritual and it’s a vital part, it empties my head for the day ahead. Takes the top layer off the chatter, tames the monkey.

But there is something that is strange to me that I can’t quite understand, and that is what flows when I’m holding the pen, compared to what flows when I’m typing with the keyboard. It’s like two completely separate voices. So right now, I’ve decided to experiment with my morning ritual and layer in this second journaling exercise, this time on my laptop. See what comes. Surely, as it was hard enough to fill the paper when writing directly into my pad, this flow would be completely void of character, information or, well, anything really.

keyboardBut strangely it seems that once again, my fingers, when dancing over those plastic keys, are more tapped into a creative aspect of my brain. Already I can feel a different voice speaking, or rather typing. Already I can feel creative juices starting to thaw and flow within my mind, they’re stretching and waking up after a long winter. And they weren’t there with the pen. This seems completely contrary to anything I read about the artist being connected to the physicality of the pen and the paper.

This reminds me of a seminar I was in earlier this week, about screen reading versus paper reading. There, the idea was that people are more comfortable reading in the format that they learnt to read in. So, most people over the age of, well, about 12, learnt to read and write using the pen and paper. So that is their default format when reading and processing information. But today kids are learning to read on tablets and computers, so their preferred learning and reading systems in the future are likely to be digitally based.

So why then, am I, most certainly a digital tourist, foreigner, alien, able to tap into a more creative voice (in my opinion) when on the keyboard? One that lies dormant and disinterested when I pick up the pen?

Maybe it’s because of the physicality of typing? I have always felt more comfortable expressing myself when moving.

Maybe it’s the speed of my mind, and my thoughts are more easily accessible when my hand can keep up with them.

I don’t know. It’s strange to me but I’m relieved that I can access it again. It feels like a release, meeting back up with an old friend.

And I was getting a little bored of listening to the action replay of my day in my journal, which the pen was affording me. This is much better.

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I’ve got lots of plans for 2015, and due to a slightly obsessive planning streak I’ve undoubtedly been spending a disproportionate amount of time thinking about goals. I have three major ones for this year; the house (“Number 26”, which is such a big goal, I’ve decided to chronicle my adventure on it over here), nurturing my creative side by dancing more, learning to play my uke, and generally playing when I can, and running and evolving and running the New Year’s Resolution Club for 2015. But despite my big goals for the year, there is one elusive goal that has fluttered into my sights on more than one occasion and for some reason has always escaped me. The early rise.

I am most definitely not a morning person. But I would love to be one more than anything in the world. I’ve tried in the past to rise early but the call of the warm duvet suddenly turns up the dial on gravity and I am physically unable to swing my legs out of bed. It’s just never stuck. I am, instead, a night owl. Often staying up late into the night reading on my Kindle with my little light in the darkness, him on the pillow next to me groaning and rolling away “turn OFF that light”, as I retreat under the covers to keep reading…

I’ve planned all the things I’ll do in the morning. Time to meditate, time to stretch, time to dance or hoop, time to write, time to cook or prepare a breakfast (even just a boiled egg), time to enjoy getting ready in the morning, pack my bags, time to walk or cycle to work (rather than running to the bus). Time to get all those self-nurturing things done before I start my day. I do love the mornings when I am up, the serenity of it all. That beautiful stillness before the world properly wakes. And the sunrise.

So today I took a day off work, to get some of those things done that I don’t have time in the mornings to do, and I took one of my favourite strolls across the park to our local library. Here I piled books high into my arms before heading back to light the fire and settle down for a cosy afternoon. One of the books was Life Lessons from the Monk Who Sold his Ferrari, as as I was flicking through the lessons, the book fell open at this page…

Page on Early Rising

I’m taking it as a message. I can do this. I am going to beat the “Battle of the Bed” by putting my “Mind over Mattress” and, according to the “monk”, it will:

  • Reduce my stress levels
  • Give me more “me time” – doing the things I love (maybe NOT playing the uke or tap dancing!)
  • Allow me to use my mind when it’s at it’s best (apparently!)

So the advice is to be patient – it doesn’t happen quickly – I need to give myself time, so I’m going to try this in February and see how it works out. It’s a new habit I need to allow to settle in. And it will be difficult and perhaps a little stressful, so I’m ready for that. I also have to be careful to not go to bed late, not read in bed, not eat after 8pm and not watch TV an hour before bed.

Phew. OK, here we go, the night owl is about to try and catch the worm….

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I dream of getting a puppy. A house with a garden and a vegetable patch. Time to create, to write, to paint. To spend time doing yoga, dancing, hooping, snowboarding, roller skating and playing for exercise. Meeting new friends and cherishing old relationships; friends and family. Completing new challenges and dreaming up new schemes. Helping others do the same and enjoying the adventure with like minded explorers. Not being afraid to try. Never being afraid to try.

2014 is just around the corner, full of promise, hope, potential, opportunity. It’s time to dream, to let imagination run riot, to paint a rainbow of possibility across your mind. Tint up your glasses with rose, etch those clouds with a silver lining. Make it happen, make it count, build up your dreams and run out into the world screaming at the top of your voice. Come on 2014 let’s see what we can do together.

In 2014 a friend and I are starting a club for 30 women in the Oxford area. It’s called the New Year’s Resolution Club. We’ll meet once a month for “class” which will be a monthly top up of creative journaling, networking and goal setting and tracking. It’s going to be a blast and I’m super excited to meet our first recruits for the year!

If you are in the Oxford area and fancy being part of our group, class enrolment is open! Sign up today and we look forward to meeting you in January!

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