Dear Creative #2

How much we value something corresponds to how much energy we give out. If we value our job, because it pays for the necessities in life we give it our energy. If we value a friend or family member we give energy to those people.

Right?

So, does that mean when we have been at work all day, and connected with the people in our lives the rest of our energy is put into scrolling, eating badly, binge watching Netflix… and so on.

What is happening?

We know we value aspects of our lives. For example, if I asked you to create a list of the most valuable parts of your life you would probably start with people you love and then move onto passions and pastimes that bring you joy.

Raglan, New Zealand

What’s never on the list, but in my mind should be at the top, is YOU. Not what you like to ‘do’, just YOU. So, my list, for example, of aspects in my life that I most value should look something like:

  • Julia
  • People in my life I care for
  • Creativity
  • Spending time in nature
  • Work

Just an example, but I’ve never written a list that starts with ‘me’ and I can confidently assume you don’t normally think of valuing yourself first in this way either. I mean we all know the metaphor about putting the oxygen mask on ourselves first before we help others. And, most of us acknowledge that we are important- but have we ever committed to actually prioritising ourselves in a way that firmly places us first.

It seems selfish. Maybe if we did that we won’t be able to serve others. Maybe we will end up completely narcissistic???

I don’t think so. Actually the opposite will happen. I dare you to add up all the scrolling time you engage in within a week and spend half of that time on you. Meditating, eating well, reading… whatever it is that creates a connection with yourself.

Value yourself. Make yourself top priority. See what happens.

Catch you next time xx

Reflection Matters

January is a great month to start reflecting on the year that has been and planning the year ahead. December, in my experience, an extremely busy month, with more pressures on us than usual. There are often a lot of events to attend, work parties, and other end of year activities, plus any holidays or celebrations to participate in. So, January can be the perfect time for reflection.

So taking stock of what has bee and what is before us is actually very beneficial. For me, it is easy to become very passive in my life, to let the day to day activities drive my life rather than working to have control; this often looks like indecision. But it can often be due to decision fatigue and a lack of commitment to my own goals.

I started this blog to use creativity and creative processes as a way to engage and fight against consumption. To spend time using creativity instead of filling up hours with consumerism or buffering on social media platforms. Being involved in creativity certainly makes me present in that moment, relieves the constant anxiety to have the same things or compare myself to my peers. To me it is a personal protest against consumerism, with the added bonus of enriching rather than taking (time/money). Even though I’m discussing not purchasing unneeded ‘stuff’ – 2 books, which I have shared before I think are a good purchase, and help – with less purchasing… does that even make sense? These are The Bullet Journal Method, and La’rt de la Liste: Simplify, Organise, Enrich your life.

So coming back to my first point; January is a great time to take stock, reflect on the year that has been and put some new processes in place for the new season. To do this I want to discuss ‘lists’. YES, you read it correctly… lists. One of my current finds is La’rt de la Liste: Simplify, Organise, Enrich your life, it is a beautiful book on lists and the art of list making by Dominique Loreau. When I first picked it up I thought, “Oh No, another book to organise my messy life”, and in a way it is, but it is done with creativity, inspiration and flair.

“Writing, correcting, editing, clarifying, refining… the work of deleting, of filtering, of gradually trimming back the superfluous as we aspire towards the essential. It is always possible to express truths, personal convictions or powerful, fleeting pleasures in a more succinct way. Just like the haiku, the list can represent a way of turning a selection of words and sensations into a mini work of art.”

There is delightful Japanese approach to the book, the way Japanese approach lists and the fine art and execution of them. If you love lists – then you will find this book a treasure. Link here to review.

So back to January. It is here and I have a need to reflect. What have I done in 2021 that has helped me to organise my life and in turn given me freedom for creativity? The biggest change I have made is incorporating bullet journaling into my life (BuJo for those in the know). I actually did this a couple of years ago – BUT – it is still changing the way a ride the wave of time and motivation. Ryder Carroll wrote a book titled The Bullet Journal Method, which outlines a style of journal/diary, he states:

“The Bullet Journal method will help you accomplish more by working on less. It helps you identify and focus on what is meaningful by stripping away what is meaningless.”

Without reading the book, it’s quite difficult to explain the elements of the BuJo that make it so successful. What I like most about it is its ability to put everything in one place. I’ve always had a diary, but then hated the waste of paper, I use lists all the time, and then I write little quotes to myself, or draw, or write down goals in another book – the BuJo method puts it all together using an index system, which is easy and quick to learn.

I recommend the Matter Bullet Dotted Journal it comes in a variety of colours and is simple to use, this is the Lavender one – my favourite. You will see from the pic below – this is not one of those journals – but mine is on order….

This method of organising, has probably been the biggest change I have made and stuck to this year. And, I will definitely keep practicing the BuJo method next year. I absolutely recommend this book. There is also a website to visit, which is linked here.

Thinking about 2022 commitments and goals: I have a selection of ‘list’ activities (below), which I will work through to come to a decision… and stick to it. These activities can be used in all manner of ways, for small aspects of your life, or larger projects you may be working on. I will link the different websites or references for each.

List Activities

Negative Selection

This is a great way of making lists smaller at the beginning stages. If your possible lists for an idea or project has become too large, and you’re confused as to which one to start, you can use the negative selection. We have a great ability to see the negative in something, more than the positive. Go through the list and write down, NO or MAYBE beside each as you think about the possibilities.

Attribute Listing

  • List all the attributes of the object, or process in question
  • Consider the value of the attributes
  • Do the attributes have a positive or negative value
  • Modify the attributes
  • Look for ways you can modify the attributes, so you can increase value

Challenge Assumptions List

  • When having an block, or trying to solve an issue, you can write a challenge assumptions list
  • Start by listing the assumptions you have of the problem
  • Then ask, “What if…… was not true?”
  • This type of listing and thinking will help you to see the issue from different perspectives.

Osborn Checklist

Alex Osborn, who developed the brainstorm technique, also advanced other thinking strategies, and one of these is the Osborn Checklist.

  • Adapt? What’s similar, what are parallels, what can you imitate?
  • Modify? Can you change colour, moving, size, shape, tone, smell, etc.?
  • Substitute? Different process, positions, music, elements from other countries, etc.?
  • Magnify/Maximise?  Increasing frequency, size, height, length, distance, etc.?
  • Minimise/Eliminate? Lighter, smarter, etc.?
  • Rearrange?                
  • Different sequence, etc.?
  • Reversal? How to mirror the ideas, etc.?
  • Combine? Is it part of a bigger picture, etc.?
  • Other use? Is another use possible, etc.?

The Wish List

Wishing helps to expand our thinking, it is playful and without boundaries. You can wish for anything. Making a wish list helps you understand yourself and you can consider ‘what ifs’ without limiting your choices to practical solutions.


So these are some of the activities I will use over the next week to reflect on my commute. Hopefully it may be useful to you as well to think about how you can make some positive changes in your routines for next year.

December Diary: 2021 Day 21

Well, today has been interesting. I’ve been having terrible trouble with my sinus resulting in the most terrible headaches.

About 4 weeks I had a CAT scan and the doctor found some issues on the left side of my head behind my ear. So, today I’ve just seen a specialist and I need surgery. I was really hoping for an outcome today, but I didn’t expect that.

I’ve been on antibiotics since the scan, and apparently I need to stay on them until the surgery, which could be months away. Prebiotics, probiotics…. Yep, that’s me for awhile.

Sorry, hope I’m not over-sharing. This is a creative blog. But the reality is when I’m suffering from severe headaches I’m not actually doing much making.

But I am thinking and planning for creative endeavours 2022. I’ve got something exciting In the works. And, I just can’t wait! Every time I think about it I start to smile. So, good. Isn’t that good? Good to have something that brings hope and joy. I know it will be a ‘shit”’ load of work, but totally believe it will be well worth it.

Didn’t have a picture for today, so here is a pic of our cat.

That’s it for today – Catch you next time xx

December Diary: 2021 Day 18

We were on the road today. We left Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland early, with a trailer to pick up all the furniture left from our old house. During COVID lockdown we were not allowed to travel, so this is the first big day trip. So I thought I’d blog my day.

We stopped for breakfast at this cute rural cafe, and enjoyed their food and Christmas decorations.

It was so nice driving through the country side, we haven’t been through here since August, just so nice to see the green spaces of the Waikato region.

When we arrived the real work began. It was a major sort through and some strategic planning on how to pack the trailer as we had several drop off points. Some friends are taking some furniture, some is going to a secondhand shop and the rest to storage.

The morning moved along quite quickly once we figured out how everything had to be packed. It was strange being in the house that we had lived in with our family for so long with new owners. But such is life. We have moved on and I’m so happy the new people love the place.

We stopped off on our way back through Kirikiriroa Hamilton to a favourite ice cream shop ‘Duck Island’ love their flavours. I had pavlova and vanilla. Then hit the road again. Had to get the rest of the stuff to storage.

Huge day, feeling so tired. But, so satisfied that this job is done and dusted. Now back home at our apartment for a well deserved glass of wine.

Catch you tomorrow xx

December Diary: 2021 Day 16

It was the last day of work, pretty hectic but managed to finish all the odds and ends by the end of the day. And now the break.

It’s so odd having a break, in some ways, because I wish for it all year long and when I get here I often don’t know what to do. I know rest, relax and all that but it’s a tall order when life has been so stressful. How to stop. How does one stop? I have no idea. I just make plans to fill the spaces up.

However, I am going to try to take more time out. Without my phone, laptop, camera… just away from things and distractions. I really need to clear my head. More than ever.

I wonder what 2022 will bring. I want to be hopeful, but the last 2 years have been so strange I don’t know what to think. It’s late and I am rambling after a long day. I am positive, I am hopeful.

Yesterday’s photo was the city view looking back from the harbour, todays is the same idea but from a different position and much later.

Just a short note today

Catch you tomorrow xx

December Diary: 2021 Day 13-15

Yep I’ve missed a couple of days blogging, but you get that. It has been so crazy at work finishing up for the year. I suddenly realised I had so many small things to round up before I could sign off for the holidays that my days and nights have been packed.

But such is life.

Tomorrow – will hopefully be my last day. I’m extremely fortunate to be able to take time off work, I know so many people can’t, so even though I’m busy and tired I am full of gratitude.

Coming to the end of a year is always a good time to reflect, and I think more than ever I have some big aspects of my life to reflect on. I know a lot of people are saying things like this more than ever and I wonder if COVID 19 have affected us in a different type of way than say just socially or financially – but also philosophically. I feel like I’m asking bigger or deeper questions of myself than I have before. Not just reflecting on my year – but reflecting on my values.

I made a short YouTube clip on this which you can watch here. But it really is saying the same thing in a different way, trying to formulate a new way of thinking about how and why I make some of the decisions I do – and if those decisions are still serving me.

Anyway that is all I have today. I will write again tomorrow. The photo below is of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. We went for an evening walk after dinner and this is our view. How grateful am I.

Catch you tomorrow xx

December Diary: 2021 Day Six

Hi, I hope you are well.

After work I decided to sew a book. I know, a bit random but I wanted to do something creative that wasn’t painting or drawing or filming or writing…. hahaha

Sewing a book together seemed like something I could do. First I rounded up all sorts of paper and folded 2 signatures of 6 A2 folded over, which gives me 24 pages for each signature. I then made 3 simple stitches. Once that was done I created a cover and sewed the 2 signatures in. I’ve never done this before, I simply made it up as I went along – but it has worked out well so far.

Just to finish off the sewing, I tapped down parts where I put the stitches through to strengthen the binding. Once that was all done, I went about adding paper to some of the pages – glueing in these, just where I thought it needed it.

Pic of the day: Journal so far, will take a final one tomorrow

I still want to do some decorating on the front cover, and put pockets into the back cover, but I need to let the whole journal dry. So, I’ll finish it off after work tomorrow. I’m also thinking of making a second one for a Christmas present. It will be nice to give someone a handmade gift.

Gratitude

I’m grateful for creativity. It was a very difficult day at work, but knowing that I had time to do some creating after work made everything OK.

That’s it for today –

Will write again tomorrow. Catch you then xx

December Diary: 2021 Day Five

Well we have arrived. We are now in the new apartment. Shifted.

And, the unpacking begins.

It’s an interesting task to unpack, find new places for old items. I have this horrible habit of saying to myself, “I’ll stick this here for now…” and in my mind I’m thinking “one day I will find a better place for it”. But will that day happen? Or will that item be always in a new location that doesn’t quite suit?

As I have said in previous diary entrees we have down-sized, and we did get rid of a lot of stuff – but “oh my word”, I still have so much. Maybe I need a second round. It is surprising how much stuff I don’t need. This time I have given away a lot of items I use to feel sentimentally about – but it just does not serve to keep them – so I have said goodbye.

Change is exciting, it’s also daunting but I think in the end it keeps us resilient. We need to keep changing, adapting and allow ourselves to face new obstacles. Part of moving into this apartment is to face new challenges and ask of myself to: ‘begin again’.

Pic of the day: I saw this in a cafe today and had to share.

Gratitude

I am grateful for good coffee. Sounds superficial, but today it was awesome!

Catch you tomorrow xx

December Diary: 2021 Day Three

It is the last night in our house before the shifters arrive tomorrow. It’s been pretty hectic getting packed up and ready to move while being in ‘lock-down’ and working pretty much full-time. But such is life, can’t complain. Actually I’m extremely grateful.

Tomorrow brings a new chapter.

A fresh start. Change. Movement.

As I said in the last couple of posts, the apartment is smaller than our current situation and it has been the best time to get rid of unwanted, unused, stuff and think about what new items we will bring into our lives. I think we will be much more intentional this time around.

I have two more weeks of work, and then I’m off for a month to enjoy the holidays with family and a much needed rest. I truely believe this year has been my hardest. So much has happened, and I’m not even talking about the pandemic. During my time off I want to reflect on my YouTube channel. Re-think how I am putting myself out there.

As an audience member of YouTube, I know what I enjoy and why it brings value to my experience of engaging with online content, but it is very difficult to create it. Ha ha – but I love doing it, so keep on keeping on.

Pic of the Day: Early morning walk at Cornwallis Beach this morning.

Gratitude

I’m thankful for the sunshine today. It popped in and out of the clouds all day and seemed to be there when I needed it most. I find that sunshine is so critical to my mental health.

Hope you are all well.

Catch you tomorrow xx

December Diary: 2021 Day Two

I always feel as if December has extraordinary energy. A little too heightened at times, but full of possibilities. I don’t know if it is because it’s the last month of the year or because of holidays, or something else. In the southern hemisphere it is the first month of summer, so maybe it is the fresh heat, the summer wind – I’m not sure, maybe it is a mixture of all these things. But I do recognise the energy and I thrive in it.

I feel like a cat caught in a ray of sun, soaking it all up, unable to move away. I love December. Today was a particularly good day. We finally picked up our keys to the new apartment. New to us – it is actually a bit of a do-up. But a new exciting adventure. Once we picked up the keys we went and spent some time in the apartment. It was our first time there without the realestate agent. Isn’t it odd that the most expensive thing you purchase in life (if you are fortunate enough) is something you hardly get to see. Anyway, we hung out, opened the windows and doors, listened to the sounds and tried to imagine all our furniture fitting in and making a home.

Photo of the day: Keys to our apartment

Shifting is hard to do, not just physically, but emotionally, and mentally. I love change, I want it and need it, but at the same time I resist, the ‘same’ seems safe. So, today I’ve been a bit up and down, one minute I’m excited looking forward to all the ‘new’ and the next moment I’m feeling nervous and wondering if we have done the right thing. But that is life I guess. That is change.

Gratitude

Today I’m grateful that our cat ‘kitty’ can go to a cattery for a few days while we shift. Although I miss her, I know she will hate all the boxing, and shifting that is going to happen. I’m also grateful for that summer wind, I was talking about before, it brings with it a fresh cool touch and a feeling that anything is possible.

Chat tomorrow xx