Tag: New Writer Thoughts

‘Why not you?’

My brother told me about a conversation he had with my niece. She wants to enter a fiercely competitive field, full of people who seem so much more qualified and suitable for it than her. He stopped her as she talked herself out of it, mid-sentence of self-doubt, mid flourish of the tendency to accept failure before we even begin. And simply said to her, ‘Why not you?’

Of course he then went on to list all the reasons why she should try, why she was as competent as the next person and so on. But it was those three words which struck me.

Most people I meet are a lot more talented, creative, hard-working and loving than they give themselves credit for. We are pretty realistic too, so often the things we aspire to are not way out of reach. If we can just make the leap of faith to try, or in some cases feel we are worthy, then who knows where we might end up.

To believe in ourselves enough to attempt the things we want is tough. There is absolutely no guarantee of ease and success. Rejection and failure happen and are good reasons not to put yourself out there. Sometimes the things we seek are not realistic but isn’t hanging onto what we can’t achieve a way to avoid what we can. Yes, the trip could be a disaster, the relationship awful and bruised with regrets, even the career you’ve worked so hard for may be full of disappointment.

But what if it wasn’t?

Want to feel that sparkle not the dread of the unknown? The glow of satisfaction that your hard work is paying off. The promise of possibility and optimism which brings us to life. The readiness to make a difference? In which case, ‘Why not you?’

Do You Need Creative Inspiration?

You know sometimes we are so bombarded by where we should be finding inspiration that we can forget to look around us. We become so preoccupied with that greener grass, tempting us from the other side of the fence, that we ignore our own backyard. If you find yourself daydreaming more than doing, wishing more than appreciating, have a look for your inspirations close to home. Be mindful of your current environment, be present, and allow yourself to experience it in as many sensory ways as you can.

  • Your local natural world is a wonder. A garden, a park, a beach, whatever is near you, observe it. Albert Einstein summed this up so beautifully, “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”
  • Find a possession which you love. A painting, a book, a plant. Something, which every time you see it, you feel lucky to have. Imagine the journey it took to create it, the hours, or the passion which inspired it.
  • Remember feelings of accomplishment and achievement, find the items which remind you of your successes. A photo, a card, a present. They are our symbolic trophies, so stop and reflect on the work it took to receive them. Let them be a source of future inspiration.
  • And listen to your own personal soundtrack. Music takes us to the good times and the bad. It allows the mind to wander which can lead to a new path.

It is often the smallest, most mundane of things, which combined correctly, produce the greatest of things. The details of the world give an authenticity to creative work. And, who knows, your next great inspiration could be a lot closer to you than you think.

Love your thoughts…

Art work by @Dana Kinter- a wonderful artist who inspires me.

The Lotus Effect

Recently I was lucky enough to travel to Cambodia. A long-held dream to visit Angkor Wat and the mighty temple complexes was realised. I came away with my head full of images and stories and truths of a civilisation so sophisticated it staggered me. Along the way I was also swept up in local tours and attractions but the one which truly struck a chord was a lotus flower farm.

The lotus flower is a sacred symbol for Buddhists and Hindus and flourishes across South East Asia. On the edges of Tonle Sap, a huge fresh water lake, our guide took us to a lotus farm. Like a paddy field, raised muddy walkways surrounded huge ponds, thick with rubbery lotus leaves, buds and pink flowers. Right on cue the afternoon monsoon rain arrived. Huge warm drops, splashing onto the plants and churning the pond water.

I had never really looked at lotus leaves but in the down pour I watched them. Water gathers on the leaves and it moves like balls of mercury. Sometimes they collide with each other and sometimes they roll and cascade over the edge. The self-cleaning properties of a lotus leaf cause water droplets to scoop up dirt and stop it sticking to the leaf. Of course the science is fascinating. How amazing for something to be able to self-clean and like butterfly wings the lotus leaf is the subject of much investigation. But more than that was the way the droplets moved. Totally at the mercy of the pond or the crash of a rain drop.

Our guide came and stood beside me. ‘You know,’ he said. ‘I think of my life like the water on the leaves.’ We watched as a small drop joined with a bigger one. Others scattered and shifted across the leaf, all on different paths. The pond rippled and our big drop rolled closer to the edge. As a wave hit the leaf it tumbled overboard. He smiled, ‘See, like life. You never know when you are going to live or die.’

The image of that pond, in the rain, in Cambodia, stays with me. The lotus effect is not only a scientific breakthrough but a powerful lesson in acceptance.

Positive Reflection

untitled-design-2The end of the year is often a time for self-reflection.

We can all be super critical of ourselves and while analysis of what we didn’t do can move us forward it can also pull us down. So in pursuit of optimism and to see 2016 out with a bang instead of a fizzle, I’ve pulled together some ways to reflect on the year with a softer, kinder lens. Take a moment to reflect on what you did do, not what you didn’t…

  • I bet you loved unconditionally.
  • I bet you learned things you didn’t know last year.
  • I bet you have supported someone other than yourself.
  • I bet you maintained, rekindled or developed a friendship which brings you joy.
  • I bet you have got through a personal challenge.
  • I bet you indulged yourself and didn’t feel guilty about it.
  • I bet you accomplished different things than you intended. 
  • I bet you got knocked down but you got up.
  • I bet you had a really good laugh.
  • I bet you did many acts of random kindness.
  • I bet you were braver than you thought you could be.

Imagine reflecting on your year as a friend would and I bet you’ve done a pretty awesome job…

Power of Poetry

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The single clenched fist lifted and ready,

Or the open asking hand held out and waiting.

Choose:

For we meet by one or the other. 

By Carl Sandburg

I love this poem. In fact I love the collection it comes from; Staying Alive-real poems for unreal times. Sometimes when things are getting a bit too much it’s amazing how the words and wisdom of a distant other can strike a chord and encapsulate a situation when we can’t.

For me this poem is about communication. Are you approaching potential conflict defensively and ready to bite, or calmly, ready to resolve. It jumped out at me because it is exactly what I needed to think about today.

All too often we keep pushing through, doing it tough, and not actually stopping to reflect on the emotional flash-points in our day. This attitude certainly gets things done but the lack of vulnerability can leave us isolated and maybe a bit misunderstood? When I’m feeling like that my first response is usually to call a friend or relative, discuss or diffuse things by sharing with another. But recently I’ve been trying to be a bit more retrospective.

Reading and listening to a source outside your immediate circle can be very powerful. Poems aren’t for everyone but what about quotes, mantras, podcasts, books. All these things allow us to think about what we are dealing with without having to talk about it. We are giving ourselves a bit of take up time. Time to reflect before we respond or react.

And sometimes when we’re open to reconciling our world the right words seem to find us…

 

 

Perspective

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I was at a party on the weekend and was desperate for a glass of water. A lady was standing by the sink sipping on a cocktail and as I turned on the tap she asked me, “What are you doing?”

“Having a glass of water. Would you like one?”

“Hell no! Have you seen what that stuff does to ships!”

We laughed and in a way she was right, what may be good for my inner organs certainly rusts out a lot of other stuff. It got me thinking about perspective. For me the water made sense but for her not so much. And it wasn’t the water itself but the different attitudes we brought to it.

So, here’s the thing, we cannot help but bring our own perspective to anything. And that’s okay because it’s these things which make us who we are. But the problems set in when we hang onto them so tight that they become big giant monsters of self-righteousness, huffing around in an I’m right, you’re wrong corner.

The stand-off differing perspectives causes can be exhausting. And whether it’s with family members, partners or out in the wider community unresolved issues are unhealthy. If we keep spending all that energy on feeling misunderstood we’re not doing ourselves any favours because we may be missing solutions only a tiny side step away from what we think.

So we have choices we can accept the other person’s perspective, reconcile it and move on. Happy days. But sometimes no matter how hard we try we cannot accept it and then we have to let go of the indignation and call a friend! No seriously after the call we do need to try and move on. We can listen to their point of view and if we don’t agree it can be a buffer, clarify a situation, or maybe even be a call to action. Sometimes we don’t like their perspective because it challenges our sense of self but no matter how much we want people to see things our way the truth is they may not. The only thing we can do then is manage our response.

Sometimes I really struggle looking past my own interpretation of situations but when I can it’s a bit like climbing a hill. We don’t just look one way when we reach the top we look in every direction, take in every view. We do look a little longer at the view we like best but at least we do see the whole panorama. As Wayne Dyer says, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” Hard but worth a try?

The Importance of Mentors

I hope you’ve been lucky enough to have a mentor. Someone who’s been able to help you transform your life or at least a part of it. Like an umbrella in the rain they offer security, wisdom and support to help us move forward with new projects, learning or ideas. In dictionary terms a mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser. Words like confidant, counsellor and consultant keep popping up to describe them. So how do they help?

  • Mentors are experts in their field. This may be professionally or within a creative community. They’re industry or artistic leaders and this gives them credibility. Learn as much as you can from them. It’s actually okay for this to be important because we all want to learn from the best.
  • Mentors provide validation to an important area of our lives. I mean, isn’t it great that someone you respect wants to take the time to improve your practice. The belief they have in you shouldn’t be underestimated. After all, why would they bother if they didn’t feel you were worth it? So embrace this recognition and celebrate their faith in you.
  • Mentors have good connections. Whatever you’re doing or want to achieve we don’t live in isolation. Now more than ever it can be really helpful to have someone support you to forge industry or community links. Build on opportunities which present themselves.
  • Collaboration is a vital part of the mentor/mentored relationship. The opportunity to share ideas, discuss options, and review actions, develops a partnership for a purpose. Mentors ask the difficult questions while pushing you to do your best. Continue to earn their respect by trying and or acknowledging what they suggest as your work advances.

If someone you respect is offering you mentor-ship don’t ignore it, if you think you’d benefit from mentoring seek it out. I’m eternally grateful to the people who’ve taken the time to mentor me. At its core the mentor/mentored relationship is reciprocal, it may last only weeks or a lifetime, but it’s a relationship which changes you forever.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”  Benjamin Franklin

Making A Tough Decision

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Making the big decisions is one of the hardest things we have to do, especially if they effect relationships, career or health. Maybe this springs from our desire to control, maybe we want the cake and to eat it too, maybe outside pressure is backing us into a corner. But whatever the reason, being in that state of flux isn’t good. You get swept up in the world of what if and as the poet Edward Young said, “Procrastination is the thief of time.”

  • So give yourself a time frame or the situation may possibly have one. Of course there are some decisions you can’t rush. Circumstances need time to play out. But don’t fool yourself, there always comes a point when you need to decide. Putting it off any longer than that is just making excuses.
  • Ask the advice of a friend. One who knows you really well, warts and all, and one who’ll be honest with you? It can be tricky asking for advice and then not acting upon it. But advice is like a present, we should give it freely and be able to receive it without obligation. A good friend has your best interests at heart and wants what’s best for you.
  • Weigh up the pros and cons. Don’t be afraid to make a list. Writing alternatives down focuses thinking. This makes options more concrete rather than random swirls of thought which come and go.
  • And follow that hunch. There’s a lot being written about the power of our inner voice. And sometimes if we allow ourselves to shut out all the other dialogue we can hear the answer we need.

When the decision is done you really do feel lighter. Take comfort in the fact there are no guarantees, because no matter what you decided you cannot control the outcome. The most interesting people I know have made some decisions they regretted but others which have transformed their lives.

Do You Need Creative Inspiration?

 

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You know sometimes we are so bombarded by where we should be finding inspiration that we can forget to look around us. We become so preoccupied with that greener grass, tempting us from the other side of the fence, that we ignore our own backyard. If you find yourself daydreaming more than doing, wishing more than appreciating, have a look for your inspirations close to home. Be mindful of your current environment, be present, and allow yourself to experience it in as many sensory ways as you can.

  • Your local natural world is a wonder. A garden, a park, a beach, whatever is near you, observe it. Albert Einstein summed this up so beautifully, “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”
  • Find a possession which you love. A painting, a book, a plant. Something, which every time you see it, you feel lucky to have. Imagine the journey it took to create it, the hours, or the passion which inspired it.
  • Remember feelings of accomplishment and achievement, find the items which remind you of your successes. A photo, a card, a present. They are our symbolic trophies, so stop and reflect on the work it took to receive them. Let them be a source of future inspiration.
  • And listen to your own personal soundtrack. Music takes us to the good times and the bad. It allows the mind to wander which can lead to a new path.

It is often the smallest, most mundane of things, which combined correctly, produce the greatest of things. The details of the world give an authenticity to creative work. And, who knows, your next great inspiration could be a lot closer to you than you think.

Love your thoughts…

Art work by @Dana Kinter- an artist who inspires me.

Seek Out Your Positive People

Now, if I lived in The Hundred Acre Wood, of Winnie the Pooh fame, I wouldn’t be hanging with Eeyore for motivation.  Not that he’s not a nice person, but his glass is always half empty and that’s never a good vibe when you’re trying something new. There’s heaps of research about the benefits of surrounding yourself with positive people, especially if you’re on a fresh journey. We need them. The naysayers are not helping! So seek out your Tiggers, your positive people.

  • They thrive on energy. It’s infectious. Spend time with a passionate, enthusiastic person and you will be inspired. It doesn’t matter what they do or how they do it. It’s the energy that’s important. Don’t waste it, it’s a gift. They want you to have as much enthusiasm for your life projects as they do.
  • They take a risk. Sure, it may be a disaster but at least they try. We all need people who take risks in our lives. They push us to do new things or at the least help us confirm what we can’t and don’t want to do.
  • Motivated people are resilient. Look how when things go wrong they regroup and try again. It’s hard to dig deep and keep going but somehow they manage it. They inspire you.
  • They’re optimistic. A deep-rooted sense of self belief in themselves and the world cloaks them. Share it. Scoop it up.
  • They actually do stuff! And to get anything done you actually have to start.

Now, sometimes we all need a little down time. When you really can’t be bothered, hang with your loyal Piglets and depressingly funny Eeyore’s. But to get things done embrace positive people because, after all, “Bouncing is what Tiggers do best.”

P.S This is for my PP-you know who you are.