Walking back from the woods, I find you, a couple of spruce pine cones, squashed, into shapes that reminds me of a broken wing; feathers bent back at an awkward angle, tawny like an eagle or an owl.
My breath catches at the thought of death and destruction, of an imaginary bird, landlocked without the aid of one wing.
My heart somersaults at such a striking thought that’s followed quickly upon by feelings of blame lying at our feet.
I didn’t set out into 2020 with a reading goal. I didn’t set any numbers but I did say I wanted to read more. Vague I know. And not the ‘proper’ way to set goals that you want to succeed at but at the time it was enough for me. And it’s been working.
January saw me curled up with actual books and the iPad sporting the kindle a lot more times than I felt I did at the back end of 2019. Could I say the whole of 2019? I’m not sure. Maybe my memory fails me here.
But the reading habit, the muscle memory of turning off all distractions and getting lost in a good book, fiction, non-fiction even poetry, seems weak in relation to the last couple of years to be honest.
Hopefully, with January now behind us, I can say that the drought is over as I hurtled through a number of books this month. I’m pretty proud of my numbers but also about how expanded I feel in terms of ideas and language and joy. The joy of reading has paid a long overdue visit and I want it to continue. So look forward to a monthly round up of books read each month. You might even find a book you’re interested in reading along the way.
I’ll list the books read and then give a review or details about just one of the books, as if I did it for all of them read this month, we’ll be here all day and come on, it’s the weekend.
Completed January books include:
1. Eat and Run- My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness – Scott Jurek ( started in December and completed at the beginning of January)
2. Turned Out Nice Again– One Living with the Weather– Richard Mabey
3. Heavenfield – LJ Ross
4. Angel – LJ Ross
5. High Force – LJ Ross
6. Cragside – LJ Ross
7. Dark Skies – LJ Ross
8. Seven Bridges – LJ Ross
Ongoing January reading include;
1. The Last Wolf – Jim Crumley
2. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
3. Coastlines: The Story of Our Shore – Patrick Barkham
4. Blogging Basics For Authors – Nina Amir
Book review in the next post. Thanks.
When things get overwhelming, I take to colour. I think this is the reason I love Autumn so much. The myriad of colours; crimson, pumpkin, golden and umber. See what I did there? I elevated my vocabulary as sometimes I can be lazy and just use the obvious.
Anyhow. Back to the colour fields. Playing with colour fills my pot. Shifts my energy. And makes me happy. A simple task but well worth the effort.
Lately, I’ve started new journals. Square journals. Altered books. Notebooks. Any blank page I can fill with colour I will. I share some of the results here to inspire you to play. To let go and just lose yourself in the process. Forget the result. Forget perfection. And surrender to the joy of play.
I’m currently on another social media hiatus.
After my last three months absence, from November 2018 – February 2019, while away I left Twitter and Facebook, I’ve been posting once or twice daily on both my Instagram accounts. I was posting about my #100daysprojects as well as my personal adventures into nature. Things were going well, but I knew a burnout was coming. I was being too prolific and focused. I knew, from experience, that I would run out of things to say. So I called the hiatus before that point, but by the time the end of April came along, I was ready to go.
I value the connections I’ve made through Instagram. I enjoy witnessing what others are doing. I take the time ad energy to cheer them along on their journeys. But at the same time, I’ve my issues with social media and these are what they are.
1. Social Media can be a distraction.
I find that social media can be noisy and distracting. So many people are doing or offering great things and telling everyone about it. And it can mean, I spend my time watching them instead of watching what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s just another way to procrastinate and take me out of my own creative flow.
2. Social Media can be damaging for the self-esteem.
I’m not stupid, and I know people post potted, designed versions of their lives and journeys but that doesn’t stop me from falling into the comparison trap. Sometimes, I see other people’s brightly photoshopped lives and feel paralysed. No amount of effort or time or talent could get me to this level, so why bother, I think. So I do nothing.
3. Social Media can be toxic.
I’ve met some good people on social media. Good people who now support me through Patreon, or through reading my writings and posts. But one reason I left Facebook was because of the negativity and arguments and harm that was showing up on my feed. There wasn’t much love coming my way or being circulated around. I saw a lot of hate and it was affecting me, physically and mentally. So I had to go for my own sanity and well-being.
4. Social Media is not the real world.
I know if you’re living far away from loved ones that social media is a great way to stay connected. With the photos posted you are able to ‘see’ them and feel as if you’re not missing out on their lives and happenings. But this isn’t the same as living in the real world. Nothing can beat having face to face contact with friends and family. And sometimes, we use social media as a substitute for making more of an effort to connect with our people physically.
5. Social Media is controlling our lives.
Being on social media takes time and effort. We post our loves and hates, we post our joys and worries, we post our dreams and successes. We invest a lot of our time and energy and love into platforms that are set up to leach our personal information and money. They profess to be fostering community but really they’re keeping us locked into the vicious cycle of being mindless consumers. Yes I’m still on Instagram and yes I know it’s owned by Facebook. But I’m looking for a way to leave all social media and still be connected with my peeps around the world. One possibliity is here, blogging and my website. I’m trying.
Work in Progress
In 2015, when the shit hit the fan, I had to change. My whole life was in tatters and I had to find a way to live again. But live on my own terms. Live true to my soul.
For decades I’d been on the production trail. Do do do. Produce produce produce. Because I’d eventually I’d get to the promised land. I’d be successful, famous and accepted.
What I know now from having to start over is that there is no end point. There’s only the journey. I’m in a constant state of becoming. Becoming a better version of myself. But I will never be complete or perfect because that state just doesn’t exist. It’s a fallacy we’re fed to keep us keeping on. The desire or promise keeps us working with our heads down, selling out our souls for very little rewards. We think we are living the life we want to live but really, we’re living the life ‘they’ want us to live. The system, that is.
Now, I’m happy with less. Happy to work small. Happy with little ripples I create because I know in my heart that this is the authentic me at work. I know now, what I do, I do from the heart. I do in service to others with no expectations or need for anything in return. Living my life on my terms is my reward. And that’s enough. I’m enough just being me.
The Minimalist Vegan: A simple manifesto on why to live with less stuff and more compassion by Micheal and Maša Ofei does what it says on the cover.
This is not a ‘how to’ book but a ‘why’ book. For me, is serves as a reminder and an inspiration as the world we live in continues to suffers from “The More Virus”: the mentality of always wanting more.
This book doesn’t tell me anything that I haven’t read before, but I’m just grateful that this information is all in one place and up to date.
Micheal and Maša, the creators of the website The Minimalist Vegan, mark out how minimalism and veganism intersect, how these concepts work hand in hand to help us live more mindful and grateful and compassionate lives.
Our economic system is based on constant growth by any means necessary. It thrives on us consuming more. Each day we are bombarded by thousands of messages and adverts which persuade us to buy and consume more. The adverts promise us happiness and satisfaction and connection, playing upon emotional triggers. But once we get this new product home, it fails to provide the promised benefits. The thrill soon wears off and we’re left seeking another fix promising happiness and satisfaction and connection.
This book upholds the less is more doctrine. How if we simplified our lives, became more mindful of what we consume, becoming more aware of how every decision we make impacts our lives as well as everything and everyone around us, then we will stand a better chance of saving our lives and the life of this planet.
I found this book a quick and easy read but still important in terms of the messages it advocates. It serves as a reminder that change isn’t easy especially if we’d rather do what everyone else is doing to fit in rather than stand out and make a stand against the industries and practices which cause animals harm.
Did you know that about eight million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every single year? The figures in this book are shocking. What is more shocking is when we know the figures and could do something to change them, to make this a better world for all species, we still
choose to do nothing and continue along this path of self and others’ destruction.
Reading this book does affect me and makes me question what more I can do. What behaviours can I start to change today in order to buy and waste less and be more compassionate? Anyone who reads this book and isn’t compelled to make change really is missing the point.
I missed submitting for the special challenge with Nine Muses Poetry this month. The challenge is to respond or be inspired by a different photograph posted at the beginning of each month. For April the image was fittingly Viewing Cherry Blossoms at Ueno, by Katsukawa Shunzan. I completed this poem this morning in response.
Loosening the Bounds
I wish I could say,
the orchard is a rare find.
That I never think of blossom.
That the pure smell doesn’t
undulate to the sea.
But that would be lying.
At this time of year,
there’s no escaping the stain,
the crowds. No escaping him.
His neck is red. Pain in his head.
That must be why he seldom smiles.
I know I put them on a pedestal.
I want what they had.
How they kept the blossom from dying.
Perhaps, the sea is history
and the lop-sided pagoda clinging
to the shoreline, made me think
we were going somewhere.
Same images played over and
over again. The trickster,
just using my face. My skin. My voice.
Give me the cherry blossom every time,
time with my sisters,
lost in the crowds, easing off
our sandals, loosening our bounds
like blossom caught on the bsea breeze.