Moving Forward!

street art montreal

Winter is not my favourite season, yes it has the best natural light out of the seasons with its soft ethereal glow but light is also limited at this time of year and SAD has hit me hard this year and we’ve had quite a bit of grey, overcast skies meaning I’m struggling a little! But on the plus side not too long until winter solstice where I can start celebrating that the days will start getting longer again. I’m like Wall-E, I’m solar-powered and need the sun to function properly and so at this time of year you can find me permanently stationed under my day light lamp!

That aside, I’m also glad this  dumpster fire of a year is nearly over, whilst there have been no major traumas, it’s been one of those years where a slow trickle of this and that with a side of low-level health issues that just eats away at you little by little, and although time is arbitrary and you can start afresh on anything at any giving point, winter kind of puts me into hibernation mode, which is a pretty normal feeling I think. So whilst usually this is a pretty busy time of year for me, this year it isn’t because sometimes that’s just how the economy rolls! It’s been one of those up in the air kind of years in relation to everything, an uneasy feeling of uncertainty and where do go from here? But next year I want to put down roots especially when it comes to work and create a bit more stability for myself.

This year politically has giving me a lot to think about and I can say for certain that it has taught me a lot, mostly about other people but truly what I care about and you know what I do care and if that makes me a snowflake then so be it! Black lives do matter, me too matters, poor people matter, reproductive rights matter, trans rights matter, LGBTQIA matters! And before you skip down to the comments to say everyone matters, you’re totally missing the point! Yes everyone does matter but what we’re focusing on right now are the people who over-privileged asshats think deserve to be erased. It’s the 21st century and we are apparently having to discuss whether people have the right to exist because of their skin colour or sexual orientation!!!! We as a species suck big time! But the flames of the fire are stoked and instead of hiding behinds closed doors these issues are being brought to the forefront and we are dealing with them, there is still a long way to go and I believe things are going to get a lot worse before they get better again but I’m willing to do my bit even if it just being a better human being and providing support where I can!

The thing I’ve learned over my life is that nobody is perfect, we have all done and said things we regret, the thing to focus on is did we learn from it and did we use it to grow and change into a better person? I always find it weird when someone says ‘ooh you’ve changed!’ Like change is a bad thing but nine times out of ten it’s because you’ve outgrown them. Change is good, change is growth, if we do not grow we stagnate. there are a lot of stagnant people in this world! A few posts ago I was taking about comfortable ruts, too many of us are comfortable in our ruts, trust me the world is not going to stop revolving for you, so don’t complain when it leaves you behind!

As always half way through writing a post I realise I may have gone off track slightly but to be honest this year has strayed closely to flying off the rails! But it’s time to refocus on moving forward. It’s not always about making grand sweeping gestures to make changes, sometimes it just requires a tweak here and there and the rest will fall in place. It’s about trying to do better and be better, it’s about refocusing on what is in your heart, your passion, your wants, your needs. it is not about being a people pleaser, there will always be critics telling you you’re doing it wrong, you’re not, they’re just afraid of being left behind.

Turning 40 was weird for me, mostly because getting older does not usually bother me it’s part of parcel of life, in the past I’ve revelled in turned older but this year not so much probably a mid-life crisis on some sort. What have I/have not achieved and all that jazz, the fact that even though I usually to end up pretty much good at anything I try my hand at, I’m not really focused on one thing in particular, I tend to have a jack of all trades approach to my career, to many fingers in too many pies. I guess that’s a drawback to having so many interests, in the grand scheme of things it’s a relatively minor problem and an easy one to fix.

I read an article recently about how 90% of people fail to reach their goals because they basically don’t care enough about reaching them and therefore are not committed to reaching their target. Sounds simple and a no brainer but it was also an epiphany moment. Every year I do the Goodreads challenge in an effort to ream more, every year I never reach the target because it dawned me the challenge itself takes the joy out of reading. You find yourself so eager to finish each book so you can start on the next that it takes the enjoyment out of actually reading the book. Whilst I encourage reading all the books you can, it’s also important to enjoy the book your reading. All these things when said out loud sound easy but it’s so easy to lose sight of why we do things in the first place. I don’t think the current climate of social media helps, everything is based around numbers and whilst numbers can be important they can also be meaningless and empty. We’re so busy trying to reached number goals we forget the actual goal. There are so many dos and don’ts to blogging, to being self-employed to life that we forget to focus on what we actually want, the things that we care about, the things we want to do.

If I had to pick a buzzword for next year it would be focus. I’m not really into resolutions and whatnot but I think it’s good to have something to aim for or not depending on what tickles our fancy but focus is something I’ve never really had, I’m easily distracted and forget what the task in hand is supposed to be, so I’m going to focus which I guess after this rambling blog post would be a good thing, so thank you if you made it this far. I’m working on finer details of next years projects but will mostly be working on setting up my second Etsy shop, designing and making stuff for that. I know it will take a little longer than my previous work but that’s okay, I want to focus on improving my skills especially when it comes to sewing and photography. So I guess that is my theme for 2018, refocusing and putting down roots!

Photo: Taken by me in Montreal, Quebec.

The Art Of Slow Living

P1010152

What is slow living? Another question inspired another hashtag than we never really think about except to cut and paste in the hope that someone will see our post!

I guess like many things it varies from person to person but essentially it is taking a more mindful and slower approach to everyday life. We live in a rat race as they say, we’re encouraged to be the best that we can be to strive to the top of our game but without any thought of the other consequences that come with it.

We’re made to feel that if we don’t have as million instagram followers we’re not doing it right. Stats are important apparently, so much that people resort to faking it and buying followers to look like they are keeping up. We live in a world of fast food and fast fashion, everything is available at the click of button, hell yes even I’m guilty of an online buying binge every now and again. It gets to the point where we ask ourselves who are we trying to keep up with and why?

Now I know many people have already written on this subject and Hygge and other Scandinavian lifestyles have become popular as we find ways to get more out of life but I want to talk a little more in relation to me and how it affects my life and mental health situation.

I was that ‘weird’ child who used to shut herself away in her room to read and do art, I liked being on my own, I now realise that I was (and still am) introverted. I never got called that because I wasn’t shy and people like to categorise things according to stereotypes, FYI you don’t have to be shy to be introverted. I just find people draining, I prefer one on one or small groups of people, I can deal with certain situations I guess I’m probably more of an ambivert, it just depends on the people.

These days I know when to take time off from the world, or at least mentally prepare myself when I know I have to go and stuff that I’m not particularly fond of. Over the years my circle has shrunk to fewer and fewer people but these are the people who I love spending time with, they don’t make me feel obligated to stick around and have fun, they understand that we all need time apart, that we have our own lives, that we are individuals that lead different lives. You’ll be surprised at how many people don’t get that because as far as beings go, humans are inherently selfish.

But there is nothing wrong with being selfish especially when it comes to preserving your mental health. You only have so many hours in a day and you can’t do everything, so turning down a request or two to focus on one thing doesn’t mean you’ve let people down. Two half-arsed jobs do not make a whole! You are entitled to have time to yourself to recharge and do the things that you like. it took me a long time to figure this out, I guess wisdom does come from experience. I don’t care if you think I’m boring, it’s not your life to live. I’ve learned to switch off when suddenly people start announcing that I should do this or I should do that because they think they know better. Nobody knows me better than I do, only I really know what I should do with my life and that it is to do the things that make me happy.

I get that I have already been practising some aspects of slow living already but that doesn’t mean I’ve been practicing them right. It’s all good and well making your own clothes and cooking from scratch but not if it’s rushed and causes stress. I know that my main fault is that I’m always trying to do too much at once, that I never really get to appreciate it. I’ve been getting better over the years but recently not so much, I’ve been slipping back into my old habits and it’s counterproductive.

It’s hard to break bad habits but I’m making a concerted effort to slow it down and appreciate the things that I do. I didn’t become self-employed to mass produce half-thought through items that are on trend. That is not me. I didn’t learn to make my own clothes for them to be ill-fitting and half-finished because I got stressed out over them being perfect. I didn’t spend all that time making a meal to forget about it and let it burn because I was too busy doing something else.

Slow living isn’t just about taking a five-minute break to relax and catch your breath, it’s about enjoying and appreciating the things you do. We recently went on a trip and between destinations we decided to take the train instead of a plane. Usually I hate train journeys but I live in the UK and our rail system is basically expensive and crap! Even though we booked last-minute because we basically forgot and was a little more expensive we actually didn’t mind because it was worth it, we arrived at our next destination relaxed and not stressed, sometimes the longer option is the better option.

Slow living is not about living the perfect life, as at times it is going to throw you a curve ball and you need to be ready for that but for me slowing down is necessary and needed so that I can appreciate myself and my time more. Living in the moment doesn’t always mean being spontaneous and adventurous, sometimes it just means taking time to stop, listen and appreciate what is around you and most of all appreciating yourself.

Photo: taken in Allan Gardens Conservatory in Toronto, ON, Canada by me.

Graffiti Alley

 

P1010493

Graffiti was one of the first art forms I was interested in as a kid despite at the time it was considered nothing but vandalism. As a child in the 80s I poured over books and articles of 70s and 80s NY subway art, incorporating the influence into some of my own art work now and then, intrigued by stories of gangs of artists risking arrest and possibly even life to express their art form but judged by society as nothing but vandals and degenerates!

P1010489

Wherever you go, which ever city you set foot in there will be graffiti or street art as it sometimes now referred to. Some of it crude and slap dash, a territorial marking and some of it intricate and well planned out but these days these days graffiti is a little more respected as an art form.

P1010541

On our last day in Toronto when we have to find something to do between checking out of our hotel and checking in to our flight, we headed down to graffiti alley in The Fashion District and I noticed a real nostalgic theme when wandering down the alley, there was a real 80s influence to some of the work.. Here is a little of what I caught my eye.

P1010593

P1010551

P1010532

P1010536

P1010587

P1010505

P1010576

P1010567

P1010513

P1010599

P1010598

P1010570

P1010572

P1010496

 

Stuck In a Rut!

P1010535.JPG

You know when you’ve been stuck in a rut for so long it actually becomes comfortable? For no one reason in particular I have not been making things, no sewing of own clothes, no making things for my new shop, I’ve been procrastinating like a boss though!

For a workaholic I don’t actually get much done, I appear to be stuck on a merry-go-round of routine and same old, same old and whilst everything is the same, I don’t feel very defined in myself or dedicated for that matter. I seem to float on a weird air of whimsiness that everything will all fall in place at some point and I will find my place in this business. I am probably fooling myself on this front, in fact I know I am.

I flit between projects, never able to fully concentrate or focus, I have too many ideas and forever want to move onto the next thing before the last thing is finished. Last count 25 unfinished sewing projects for my wardrobe. Most of them no longer fit, that is another story, for another time.

What was a well-intentioned break, turned into a creative block, whether it was intentional or not I froze when it came getting back into creating. The block turned into a rut that I just ignored until it got comfortable but I’m not very good with comfort when it comes to work I like challenge. What caused the block? Turns out fear of mediocrity! No one wants to be just good at something or be okay with being average, we are not conditioned to be okay with being average and not be average is a hard order to fulfill.

As always I talk to my husband, he is a good listener, sometimes you don’t need advice you just need someone to listen. I have found over the years people are not very good listeners but they love to give advice, especially in areas where they have no knowledge. I could go either way when it comes to work, be über on trend or take a risk and be über niche. He says always be yourself, that is the only advice anyone needs to hear, unless you’re an arsehole then don’t be yourself but being yourself is kind of hard especially when everyone else is telling you how to be and you’re doing it wrong, the voices are loud because everyone is an expert.

So I’m filtering out the voices, internal and external, I’m slowly erasing the doubt embedded in my psyche, I’m going to step out of my comfortable rut and just create. It’s easier said than done and even though it’s been said many times before, it doesn’t hurt to say it again but don’t be afraid to step off the beaten track to find your inspiration, don’t be afraid to believe in yourself.

Photo: taken in grafitti alley in Toronto, ON.

Nemophilist

Is someone who likes being in the woods.

mont royal 4

Ever since I was a child I have had a fascination with the woods, not in a fairy tale kind of way, I feel instantly connected with nature, way more than I do with humans.

mont royal 13

Humans assume too much, they go against the grain, they require too much energy to deal with. Nature is the opposite, it is restorative, it offers no opinions or criticism, it just lets you be.

mont royal 2

I like being in the woods, I like the solitude, I like the peace it gives you.

mont royal 1

Psithurism is the sound of leaves rustling as the wind blows through the trees, it is the one of the most comforting of sounds to me.

mont royal 3

Sunlight glimmering through the leaves, the Japanese have a word for that – Komorebi.

mont royal 6

In German the word for the feeling of being alone in the woods and connected to nature is Waldeinsamkeit

mont roayl 8

Shinrinyoku is the Japanese word for having been forest bathing, ie taking a relaxing trip to the forest to improve health and well-being.

mont royal 12

mont royal 11

mont royal 10

mont royal 9

mont royal 8

Location: Mount Royal park in Montreal (not technically a forest but close enough especially for city dwellers like me!)

Photos: By me.