Connecting the dots

In the past year I have learned so much – about writing, blogging, social media, about people and about myself. And it couldn’t have been learned in a week, even if I read and wrote 24 hours a day, clocking up the same amount of hours as over the past year. It doesn’t work like that.

Sometimes you need to see a snapshot over time and I feel I am now beginning to connect the dots. What I have learned is that I am not alone in my ups and downs. I experience great highs and lows and unless the entire blogging world of writers are all bipolar, then nor am I! (Actually, don’t answer that). I read and get to experience wonderful highs in others’ posts, words of joy, wisdom, encouragement, faith and now I look on them not with skepticism, knowing that it will crash back at some point, but with love and connection. I read about people’s lows also, interpreting what’s between the lines and only guessing at the depth of pain contained therein.

But my aha moment today is seeing the ebb and flow of it all. Our inner worlds simply can’t remain the same; it’s not possible. I want to get out there and hug every blogger, whether they are at their peak or wondering how they let the joy slip away without noticing and wondering what on earth to write about if they felt their blog should be all joy and roses.

Here is my hug people, whether the sun is shining, your world is simple and the decks are cleared, ready for the fun times ahead to be enjoyed or whether you are wondering why you are bogged down and nothing seems to interest you these days. I truly believe we are ultimately all the same and there is nothing wrong with that. Remember to connect your own dots and see the picture you are creating.

need a hug

need a hug

 

 

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I like to think…..

Thinking child

  • that this blog will be of comfort to my kids if I died suddenly and they would read it, feeling like I am still there talking to them…
  • that my ancestors might even be interested in these little snippets of my current thinking from 2013
  • that if any potential employer sees my blog, they will be able to work out if I am right for their organisation in whatever capacity, mostly because I’m a ‘nice’ person and not afraid to be me
  • that one day I will be truly organised, with nothing in my house I don’t truly need, a recipe book full of tasty, easy, nutritious, inexpensive, one pot (little washing up) meals and a folder of photos of my outfits, carefully assembled so I know what to wear every morning and have some hope of looking polished
  • that one day I will not judge each mouthful I eat against my figure and each dollar I spend against my need to be thrifty; actually that I will lose some of my perfectionism

 

Think

  • that I will get to meet my favourite bloggers in person one day such as Yaz in Doha, Diane in America, Little Miss Wordy in Puerto Rico, Sarah Jane in Malta, Colin in America, Adriana in South Sydney etc etc. Hey what a trip that would be!
  • that my kids will live their lives doing what they love and have a gift at; that they are better prepared for life mentally than I was at their age
  • that I will never stop thinking and dreaming and making these lists
  • that anyone who reads this will make their own list and perhaps then take steps to examine some of their unspoken dreams

 

Examine your dreams

When nothing is something

Froggy doing nothing

To do nothing is also a good remedy – HIPPOCRATES

For seven years I had a wonderful friend whom I met with once a week. Since his passing (RIP John Edwin Sheehan 1920 – 2007) I have flashbacks of the things he taught me. He would say ‘When you don’t know what to do, do nothing’. At the time, my impulsive nature and ‘bull in a china shop’ personality found it hard to fathom. To me, it was procrastination which is never a positive thing. But there was truth in it of course. Perhaps it meant to think about the situation longer and if action was needed later, it would be well thought out.

But what are the situations when to do nothing is actually something; a choice and not procrastination? Most likely when something is a consumable, expendable, time related and the opportunity will be lost forever if you don’t do it then. It could be using a non refundable plane ticket perhaps or speaking up at the time someone else is being bullied, or need rescuing from a burning car.

Sometimes when people are talking to me, if I am present and aware of awareness, I can catch myself reacting inside to what they are saying. If my ego was present instead, I might formulate a biting retort. But being aware means I can choose instead to do nothing. Smile and let it go; a much more peaceful alternative. In the past my favourite thing was to walk off in a huff when my feelings overcame me. If I had ‘done nothing’ and stayed put to see how things played out instead, it would have saved me years of uncomfortable impasses in relationships, especially when they didn’t come after me.

Anyway I digress. The image of the frog above suggests that doing nothing is lazy, idle. Look at the way his hands rest on his protruding belly. However, being still and silent like this has so many benefits we are told. It reduces your stress levels, calms your breathing so that you take in more oxygen (which boosts your immunity), makes you more aware and able to see the big picture in life, leading to better outcomes for you and all around you. You can tune in to your inner intuition and make better choices. I wonder if Hippocrates was aware of these?

I seem to be tuned in to the message that meditation is key to everything! For me, being aware of awareness as much as possible is almost like a mini meditation throughout the day, where I catch myself and think ‘this is me, thinking about me’, instead of I have to do this and she should do that or I hate this and I feel bloated.  Whatever 🙂

This being really aware is something I used to do as a child when I looked in the mirror (this is me looking at me) but it freaked me out at the time as I didn’t understand about being trapped in your head and ego and that it doesn’t have to be that way.  Eckhart Tolle is all about that.

So today, as much as possible I am going to ‘do nothing’. I will accept everything that happens, all that I have to do and everything that is said. I will listen as much as I can, react as little as possible, except with curiosity and not run around doing more than necessary for some outdated belief of being more of anything, to please my ego.

Hippocrates’ remedy for what? No clue exactly but let’s see. Maybe it’s the answer to inner peace.

 

I dare ya!

Skull oil lamp

How do we keep our blogs burning? I spend a lot of time on the blogging world because I read every post of every blog I follow and there are quite a few. Something I have noticed though is that many I am drawn to started within a few months of when I started. Do we have the same level of freshness/enthusiasm/naiveté? Are we on this journey together and how fast do each of us travel? Some have exponential growth in followers, and some none at all. One has only written two posts but I wait with baited breath for the third. Others have years of archives I long to explore.

The other thing I noticed is that some people appear to have stopped writing their blog. I follow a few diet type blogs because my other blog is helping me lose a little weight. What happened to those people who stopped? The last post of one implies that he has fallen off the wagon and started to eat unhealthily again. What are the consequences of stopping a questioning, feel-good type blog like I hope this one is? Could it be that I have become depressed and have nothing in my oil lamp to keep it burning? Would you continue to follow after a year if I didn’t post?

Perhaps I am drawn to the kind of blogs where the humble writers don’t have all the answers and are seeking them, or maybe that describes all of mankind, in some way or another. I have a passing interest in non soul searching blogs such as how to be a blogger and the latest trends and photography. I satisfy my curiosity for the new on Pinterest more now also. But there is no connection there except where the blogger posts comments on my posts and I feel I know them and care about them as people. The information only blogs only attract my attention sporadically. This is why it’s called social media I expect!

So back to you, my wonderful blogging friends. What does your oil consist of? How are you today? How does your mood affect whether you blog or not? Do you take the time to keep putting oil in the lamp, however you enrich your soul, enough to dare to blog? For it is a dare, really, a great act of courage to say anything at all and hit publish. I have looked back at some of my past posts and think ‘what rubbish!’ but the point is the confidence with which we write, not what we actually say. The confidence to hope that one other soul (or our own soul) gets some benefit from it. I applaud every post I have written, rubbish or otherwise and all of yours! You did it!  The lights are on!

Light bulb lamp

Just some random thoughts from a scrambled egg mind. I didn’t think I’d blog today….

Do you mind being called a ‘Control Freak’?

Alone in a boat

A committee of one gets things done – Joe Ryan

I just couldn’t blog on Friday. I had the requisite hour, wasted ages looking at Pinterest, ran out of time and decided that a great photo and one quote would do it – and then the Universe wouldn’t let me upload the photo! That was my sign. No blog. Blogger’s block or something.

So it was time to do something different. I chose this quote at complete random out of a desk calendar and went with it. The point of these is to stretch my mind. Thank goodness I liked it because I wonder how well bloggers go with a subject they don’t like? Do we freeze up? Would I have made myself write if I found the quote boring? 

Anyway I digress. So why would a committee of one get things done? There are many other quotes about teamwork and ‘two heads are better than one’ and ‘standing on the shoulders of giants‘ etc. But then you get ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ and quotes like this.

This boat photograph inspires a good example. I once had the biggest fight with my best friend when we were 14 on a lake in a rowing boat. We soon grasped the whole rowing thing but when we tried to do it together we went round in circles. This added much merriment at first and a lot of embarrassment being at that age (in a public park in Paris I might add) and we eventually managed to progress, but when it came time to get back to the rental by a deadline so that we wouldn’t lose our deposit, it all went horribly wrong. Communication was lacking, co-ordination was lacking (mine) and we shouted, splashed and zig zagged along until we decided that one person alone would be better despite the combined strength of two. A committee of one.

I do like to work alone. I could not possibly blog with someone else. One person decides what to write. There is no room for discussion except with yourself and you just go for it. It would take too long to brainstorm and discuss other ideas each morning. I wouldn’t want to interrupt my ‘flow’ when I have it and I decide what I write, how I edit and when to hit publish. It’s a great feeling of control, this blogging thing isn’t it? Perhaps as writers/artists we are drawn to being in control. Are you a control freak? Do you mind being called that any more, now that it’s so commonplace?

I accept that side of myself now when it appears. And yet the answer to happiness I have decided this week is to be as easy going as possible and not let anything bother me if I can possibly help it. You might think the ultimate easy going people are all ‘peace, love and brown rice’ and live simply and rather poorly, which is too depressing but here’s the thing – they are happy! They have let go of wanting everything. I haven’t. I want all my creature comforts and lifestyle and to still be happy. Are they so hard to combine? Or do I have to be part of the rat race to keep this up and therefore likely be more stressed?

Anyway, I went to see the ‘movie’ Samsara yesterday, which was really thought provoking. It’s basically just footage of short videos from around the world and music to go with it, for 1 ½ hours. I thought it would be like spectacular armchair travelling (and leave me with a sense of wanting to get on a plane immediately) and it started out that way with volcanic eruptions and a monastery perched on a rock; the monks making sand Mandalas. But it progressed to disturbing images among the incredibly beautiful ones. It left me with a feeling of how lucky I am to be here. The rat race is doable for me because it’s what I know. Appliance factories in China and abattoirs and prisons and armies and tribes in Africa are too out of my experience. We all cope with and ultimately accept what we must.  Such is the human spirit.

Boy I am off the subject today! But at least I am flowing again.

Apologies for rambling on, to anyone who gets this far (or who stopped reading immediately). Blogging is for me to explore my beliefs and I’ve enjoyed that today. I rest my case – a committee of one.

 

Finding the Artist in You

Life is Art

 

Hear, hear! Here’s to unique, creative, artistic people! Wow, I guess the part about decorating your home seems obvious but now I think about it, the rest make perfect sense too, even the way you love someone.

I guess we were brought up thinking that art is only paintings and it has subtly been expanded to encompass many things, even graffiti. Andy Warhol comes to mind in this regard.

So why are all these other things considered art by this unknown author? (I found this on Pinterest). They seem to be talking about style but I agree that style is art. And everyone has their own style. Style is neither good nor bad.

If we agree that you each have a certain style and that what you are creating is art, what then makes us stylish and creative? It’s those million and one little decisions we have to make each day, even about what to put on our grocery list. Each decision is a personal choice, an expression of who we are. We are creating our world every second. We are creating art.

I think this is a great way to look at the mundane and not so mundane in our lives. It’s a way to see things differently; to appreciate ourselves more. We are out there, we are doing this, it’s not a rehearsal. If we can appreciate as we go about our day that we are putting ourselves out there, taking risks and creating something unique to us, that tells the world about us, we may grow a little in confidence.

And if you’ve gone one step further and created a blog, showcasing in essence who you are, then there is no doubt you’re an artist. Congratulations!

 

Where will you be at 103?

dont compare your beginning to someone else's middle

I could have just used the quote ‘Don’t compare’ and stopped there. Using comparison is a natural way of learning so it sticks with us but it can paralyse us also if we feel insecure and therefore feel a yearning to compete. I once read that the Amish people made incredibly beautiful things because they couldn’t see what else there was in the world and be intimidated by it. So they worked on their own styles, developing their beginnings into middles.

When I started blogging I was afraid to read others’ blogs because I knew I would be intimidated. But I had missed the whole point and therein lay my lesson. Not that my outpourings suck and that I am quite immature compared to other bloggers but that it was needless to compare my beginnings to their middles and of course I could learn so much from other bloggers, like having lots of wise aunties and grandparents, or creative and fun young people around to converse with.

How is your middle looking? Are you a newborn, child, teenager, young adult or oldie in this world of blogging? Have you started just the one, focused blog or had ten previous ones which fell by the wayside as you tried to work out who you were or what you really wanted to write about?

It doesn’t matter what you’ve posted on your blog or where you are now. And nothing you’ve posted in the past needs editing. If you’re blogging, you’re moving. Moving into yourself, taking detours, learning, growing, surprising yourself and learning more than you ever could about life, than from a book or a lecture or a wise person. Writing your blogs teaches you more than reading them. It teaches me about myself, my insecurities, my strengths, on good days anyway, and what I am capable of bearing in feedback from others. It teaches me to keep going, try things anyway, let go of the external outcomes and focus on the internal ones.

Spending time at the computer may seem like a waste but the world is right there at your fingertips. A world of thoughts, images and ideas, memory joggers and fresh views. And as you seek out like minded people or even completely different people if you want something completely new every day, you are still becoming more you. It’s like a case of ‘I’ll know it when I see it’ because you don’t know what you are looking for but this is a much faster way to see it.

So how are your beginnings looking? I feel like I begin anew every day. I have no clue what I will write about. Sometimes what I find inside makes sense to me and sometimes it seems to make more sense to others. Perhaps I am helping you become more you when something I write reinforces a belief of yours, or jogs your memory, or best of all, makes you curious and question your own beliefs.

So to all you curious bloggers out there, enjoy your beginnings, be proud of your middles and may we all end up together, still blogging until we have to blog in whatever way we can. I will try voice recognition software one day! May I get to blog about incontinence and retirement and dating the only centenarian for miles. Or maybe make up stories and live in a fantasy world completely removed from the trappings of being 90.

That would be an awesome way to spend my ‘old’ age! Surrounded by a world of friends of all types and ages on the internet, I can continue to evolve and become the real me. Might take me till I’m 103…..

Will you still be at it?

Where the bell meets the silence

The day is too short

 

I just spent 40 minutes looking at quotes on Pinterest because I prefer to use a quote with an image now. More to think about and reflect on. I decided they were too direct and messagey in themselves so I went looking for quotes by Zig Ziglar and then by Winston Churchill and then just on the subject of Christmas. Nothing was satisfactory. This left me very little time to blog today but I still learned something, which is the point of blogging in the first place. To learn.

I learned that some days you are just not all there. Today the quotes were unsatisfactory, I was unsatisfactory. Nothing is sinking in. None of the beautiful quotes and images spoke to me and no doubt if I put my iPod on shuffle, I would keep on going because none of the songs I carefully downloaded after years of listening pleasure would speak to me either. I have a grey filter on my soul for as long as it lasts.

Other days I am spoiled for choice with quotes and images and I want to listen to and marvel at every beautiful song, every beautiful thing. On those days I feel just like John above. And those are the best days. You are interested in everything. Those are the days that are the polar opposite of depression when nothing interests you.

So today is just a ‘Blah’ day. That’s all I have today. The blahs and mehs too. Until …. a moment comes any time soon and I no longer have the blahs. The veil will be lifted. It could be in 10 seconds or it could be in an hour. I wonder if I will recognise the moment when the sun comes out, like the moment when the sound of a bell resonating in the silence meets only silence. It will be beautiful, all the more so because of recognising the blahs now.

So if you find your days are Too Short, just like Mr Burroughs above, you are incredibly lucky. Enjoy. Enjoy it all. Nothing will be completed and it doesn’t have to be if you are treasuring each happy thoughts and moment instead of needing to have done ‘ALL’ to rate it as perfect.

I am happy just thinking of that day to come. It could be any moment now 🙂

 

Beautiful people do not just happen

The most beautiful people

This is one of my beliefs, borne since becoming a blogger (which actually means reading others’ blogs more than writing my own). I am most drawn to and in awe of the people with ‘an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life’ or the will to understand it. You are beautiful.

So this little post is for the other bloggers out there with enough to say (or photograph) and the need to say or show it that they grabbed the confidence to share with the world.

I think the only difference between artists and others who would not call themselves creative is that artists take time to slow down, examine the world, find enough space between their ego and their inner self to let go and put themselves (their work) on the line (heehee online). We are not on a driven path (not anymore anyway) to somewhere but more in the present, observing. We are explorers in a way, pushing boundaries as soon as we see them.

Bloggers = writers = artists using words (or photographs) instead of paint.  Artists have a reputation for being unstable, depressed, doing their ‘best work’ when down etc etc. Think Van Gogh, musicians etc. If we were permanently ‘depressed’ we wouldn’t be getting out of bed long enough to blog. We have beautiful highs also. If depression is a distant memory it still shapes us and if it hangs around threatening to rear its ugly head it makes us appreciate the good times even more. Win win if you look at it the right way.

Anyway I digress. Thanks to the beautiful people out there taking unpaid time to write and share. Thank you for your gifts; they are much appreciated.

 

Baby kiss

The Insatiable Question

Can you see friday yetWe yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability?”
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

What is it about the future that’s so appealing and interesting? Eckhart Tolle says we think we need the future to ‘complete us’ but that we actually don’t. Albert Einstein says that physics proves that time is not linear and that we can affect the past by what we do now. I certainly believe we can affect our understanding of the past with a healthier mind and therefore can affect the amount of ‘suffering‘ which we let the past inflict on us. Buddha says all suffering is self-suffering. That often comes to my mind and is now held true in my personal belief system.

Anyway I digress. What importance do we give the future? When I was sad as a child, I cheered myself up with the thought that one day I would be married with kids and all the love in the world. It helped because I was seeing the essence of it; the anticipation of what that love meant to me. Loads and loads of just love. Do we always see the future in such black and white terms? I think so, purely because life bombards us with detail and we can’t even comprehend the detail of what’s to come, so we generalise. We look forward to a warm feeling we think we are going to have, from whatever objects or experiences we think we are going to have.

Of course it can go the other way and we could see the future as nothing but misery if we are depressed now, in the very same way; a hunch, a feeling, an overall concept. Very little detail.

But you can’t forget the detail of the ‘future’. The detail confuses things but also gives rise to potential to create what we want out of it. Life is like a soup. If you are swimming around in the soup, thinking it’s chicken soup, then every time you come across a shred of chicken your beliefs are confirmed. If you think it’s sweetcorn soup, you will notice all the chunks of corn instead. But you may assume your future is just going to be an all good or bad soup, and you forget all the flavours, variety and experiences coming to you which you will be ‘manipulating’ with your current belief system to create more of what you actually already have.

So the future is just more of what you have now. It’s not so different. It can’t complete us. It can only try to complete the ego which is the insatiable part. Insatiable needs to satisfy an insatiable ego. Futile really.

The future starts today, not tomorrow.” 

Pope John Paul II

So I am back to the realising the Power of Now. It’s all there is and it’s very comforting knowing that I already have everything I need. I can see Friday quite clearly and it looks good to me.