Posted in Art Philosophy, Courses, creativity, Gratitude, Journal, Minimalism, photography, skillshare

Learning a new creative skill

Last weekend, after doing some minimising of ‘stuff’ in my house, I wanted to do something creative and different. I wanted to learn a new skill.

So, I decided it was time to take the DSLR Camera (my friend owns it and I borrow it from time to time – he’s good to me like that) and start learning how to use it.

I went to my go-to creative learning site, Skillshare.com, where I created and published my own online class to teach people how to draw using negative space, and looked for classes on photography.

I found a class that focused on teaching beginners how to use their DSLRs. I watched the start and learned how to use some of the manual features of the camera. Buttons, and dials and widgets that had intrigued me for some time but I’d never got around to working out what they were for.

So far I have watched just over half of the course. As I learned about shutter priority, aperture and ISO, I fiddled with the manual settings and had a go at taking a photo or two.

Here’s a couple of photos of Rocket. I know these photos are not professional in any sense of the word and I’m not even sure what settings I used but I love them!

I think I love these photos so much because they really capture the cute attentiveness of Rocket. These are the first photos I’ve taken of Rocket in a very long time where I have been able to capture what his face looks like.

Having a black poodle is one of the greatest things in my life – I treasure him. He is my loving and ever present companion and I want to take images of him as he is, showing his sweet face to the world.

This tiny creative success has inspired me to keep watching the course on Skillshare.com and learning how to use the camera to take photos that I want in my life.

Also, learning a little bit of photography is a great way for my brain to rest after such an intense time of creative writing. I’ve found lately that my creative writing has slowed down and that I need to take a pause. To allow my creative writing bucket an opportunity to fill up again.

Learning a new creative skill helps to enhance all of my creative skills. And I get to share this with you too!

I’ve been cutting out the things in my life that no longer bring me joy or add value to my life. And I’ve been focusing on uncovering my highest values so I can live in accordance with them.

Creative expression is one of my highest values. I love being creative. Drawing. Writing. Painting. Mixed Media. Photography.

Each one of these creative activities helps me to take a breather from a fast paced world and allows me to see what is truly before me. Creative writing helps me to understand the human condition, as does reflective writing and journaling.

I am so grateful for creativity and the journey of continued self-expression.

If you haven’t tried something creative for a while, maybe it’s time to slow down the pace in your life and take a moment to put a creative desire into action.

Posted in Gratitude, Minimalism, Uncategorized

In The Moment With Life

When life is busy and I have so much travel to do to get to and from work each day, it can feel utterly overwhelming. My job is busy and I also write and read and my mind swirls with anxiety too. I want to do so much and achieve what is important to me, but sometimes … it is all too much.

That’s when change needs to take place. That overwhelm is a signpost on the path of my life and I am stopping long enough to heed it.

I took action as soon as I realised I was beginning to burn out.

I changed the route I take as I walk across Brisbane City to get to my place of employment. Instead of weaving in and out of a river of people on George Street and feeling stressed, hurried and overwhelmed, I now walk straight down another, quieter street to the Botanic Gardens and take a few moments with nature.

Nature has a way of bringing me peace, healing and wisdom.

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As I have walked along the path with lush overhanging trees, I realised just how important it is to give myself the mental, emotional and physical space to be in the moment. The simple act of walking and placing one foot down in front of the other on the pavement allows me to ground and to take stock of what is truly important in my life.

I’m thinking things through. I’m changing. I’m course correcting in my life and considering the consequences of actions and outcomes.

Who do I want to be?

What do I want to do?

How do I want to bring value into the world?

How do I live my life in accordance with my highest values?

These questions have deep answers and I know I need to keep asking them. Even with my creative writing and my artwork, I know I want to go deeper and give more and create in a way that is fulfilling to me and to anyone who receives what I have to offer.

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Each morning that I walk through the Botanic Gardens, I take a moment to look at the Brisbane River and appreciate the flow of the water. I contemplate it. The flow, the speed, the tranquility.

No matter what obstructions are in the path of the river, it flows with ease, even in choppy times. This seemed like an appropriate metaphor for me to contemplate. Maybe the message of the river to me is that no matter what may be happening around me, no matter what obstacles are in my way, I can be like the water and surrender to the flow.

I’ve noticed that nature has a way of being, of quietly doing, of growing and of changing and flowing with the elements. The river flows, trees are flexible and give when the storms batter them. The earth stays steady (most of the time) under my feet and sometimes the earth shudders to wake us all up to our place in this world.

Nature teaches me that my need to grasp, control and bend life to my will doesn’t work.

On my reflections about life and nature, as I place one foot on the ground and then take another, I begin the process of surrendering to the moment which is where peace sits.

It is in those in-between spaces of noise and hurry and want and grasping that peace sits patiently waiting. Peace calls lightly on the breeze. In those moments, the in-between spaces, where life truly comes into its own, that is where peace is found.

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I am not sure if my musings make sense to anyone else. But I do know that as I walk and contemplate and breathe, I give my brain and my nervous system time to unwind. I also allow myself the space to consider what is truly important to me.

In the last couple of weeks I have given myself the gift of a moment in time. I have taken deep breaths, released stress and I have looked up and I have appreciated the blue sky, the cool air as it rushes against my cheeks and the lush green leaves that sway and wave in the invisible wind.

I have taken time to consider all the stuff in my life and especially the stuff in my mind. This simple action has made me more mindful of the moment and the precious moments of life that I have. I am suddenly grateful for all that I have and all that I experience. And I take the mental action I need to take to de-clutter.

When I say, de-clutter, I don’t just mean getting rid of things. De-cluttering applies to letting go of outdated mindsets, thought forms, ways of approaching the world. I’m going through a re-orientation in my life and it’s very interesting to experience.

It is also scary.

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Posted in Minimalism, Uncategorized

Seeking a simple life – Minimalism

manuel-meurisse-464510-unsplashOn my way to work this week, I hit the highway at 5.30am. The world around me was ink-black and cars on the highway flashed bright lights like stars in my side mirrors. I was merging into the traffic and it was hard to tell how far away the cars and trucks zooming down the road were from me.

I’m cautious, but I have to get to 80km/hr to merge effectively. So that’s what I did and that’s when this semi-trailer suddenly appeared next to me and it was so close and I was running out of merging lane.

It scared me.

I realised I wasn’t going to be able out sprint this big semi-trailer in my little four cylinder Barina. I slammed on the breaks, ‘hitting the skids’ as the cliche goes and narrowly avoided flying off the side of the road and into a ditch.

I don’t blame the driver of the semi-trailer in any way for the scare I had. I just realised how dangerous it is (at times) for me to be merging into fast moving traffic when it’s ink-black and the car lights are an unknown distance away.

Anyway, the reason I tell you this little story is that it gave me pause.

A pause.

A moment to reflect.

A moment to think about what if this, that or the other happened to me as a result of this encounter.

Am I fulfilled in life?

Am I happy?

Am I contributing enough?

This event was a catalyst, and I realised I want more in my life.

My thinking on this encounter lead me further contemplating, which lead to action which lead to YouTube where I came across minimalism. I watched a few videos and felt something deep inside shift. A door opened a crack and I peeked through and caught a glimpse of what my life could be like if I were to let go of things that were holding me tethered.

What if I let go of my out-dated beliefs? Who would I be then?

What if I paid off my debt and truly embraced financial freedom? How good would I feel about my day and what other choices would I have to follow my dreams to fruition?

What if I finally released my attachment to poverty thinking? How much more abundance would I notice on a daily basis?

What if I stopped filling all of my emotional voids with stuff and started to consume consciously? What would happen to my life when I did these things?

This contemplation lead me to realise that I am seeking a simple lifestyle. I want less busy-ness of my mind, less anxiety, less stress.

I realised I want a life where I have room for my values. I want to live in accordance with what my values are and be guided by them to make wise choices in my daily actions.

I realised I wanted to pull over on the super highway of Selina’s life and take stock of where my life was really at.

So I stopped.

I started looking around.

I started a re-set.

I started digging for my values and searching for what I think is meaningful.

So here I am, metaphorically sitting on the side of the Selina Super Highway, taking a breather and contemplating.

It’s wonderful and terribly uncomfortable at the same time. I say this because from the moment I felt the shift toward simplifying my life and lifestyle, I have had to ask deeper questions of myself. Questions that do not necessarily have easy or quick answers.

The truth is I have no answers. But I do have actions.

My first action and outward manifestation of the internal shift toward creating a simpler lifestyle for myself as been to take on a minimalism challenge for the month of May.

From the 1st to 31st May, I have committed to letting go of one thing from my life every single day. I’m on day 6 and I have let go of much more than one thing per day. I have culled stuff from any number of rooms in my house and from my desk at work and from my emails.

I have culled old emails that dated back to 2010, right up to 2016. A palpable weight lifted from my neck and shoulders on the day I hit delete on all those ‘just in case’ emails. I let go of something I didn’t even know was stressing me out.

I have also thrown out and donated things that no longer give me joy, are no longer purposeful in my life or do not add value to my life. Things like the clothes I’ve been hanging on to ‘just in case’ I lose enough weight to fit back into them.

What was I hanging on to these old clothes for?

Well, I’ve put on weight – one of the side effects of sitting down and writing more often (for me) has meant weight gain. Not a huge amount but enough that I expanded out of my clothes and felt uncomfortable in my own skin.

This lead to drawing a line in my life and treading a healthier lifestyle as I have made healthier daily choices and incorporated more exercise. But, I’m going to be honest here ( that’s a value for me – I like being honest) I don’t love being a slave to the gym any more. For years, I was a slave to the voice inside my head that flogged me to go to the gym and exercise until my head was ringing. It told me that if I didn’t go to the gym and exercise, I’d get fatter and be ugly.

Yes, I’m vain. I didn’t want to be over weight or ugly as my inner voice told me. I didn’t want to look in the mirror and see all the cellulite on my legs and back side. I didn’t care what the experts said about it being normal. I was chasing a dream of extreme fitness and I hated myself for the way I approached it.

I like exercise but I hate being a slave to it, and that’s the honest truth right there.

Despite putting on weight, I have hung on to clothes that I loved to wear when I was two sizes smaller than I currently am. And since the day I woke up and realised I’d gained wider hips and a fat roll around my middle that made it harder for me to breathe, I have dreamed about getting back into those smaller clothes.

Please don’t judge me harshly for my honesty here. I would never judge another person for their body shape but inside my mind, I had a cruel mistress who was never ever satisfied with how lean or fit I got.

Anyway, back then I went through a cycle of self-hatred, flog myself at the gym, eat lean, then binge, then get angry with myself, fall into depression, then whip shite out of myself for failing once again.

That cycle of self-loathing is a cost that I no longer want to pay. And keeping old clothes that I no longer fit into has been torturous.

It’s time to assess the true cost of the stuff in my life and I have started donating all the clothes I’d been berating myself over no longer fitting into. Letting them go has felt so freeing.

And I’m excited by the new, simpler lifestyle and style I am embracing.

I’ll let you know how this whole process of simplifying my life goes.  I don’t think I’ll ever be a minimalist but I do enjoy applying the principles of minimalism to my stuff and to what I choose to consume in my life.

It’s nice to value people, relationships, my animal companions and all the things that bring me joy.

I’m finding joy in this phase of evaluating my life.