‘Everyday Inspiration’: wrap it up

Finally I have escaped the dreaded work deadline that has been hanging over my head and sucking up all my time these last couple of weeks! So I am back and ready to blog. First up, here’s that summary I promised on the Everyday Inspiration course I finished what seems like months ago now…


Day Twenty: Wrap It Up


And now, the end is near…yep it is the final day of the ‘Everyday Inspiration’ course that I have been doing over here on lovely WordPress.  Funnily enough they have made the last task a wrap-up piece, a look back over the course…never saw that coming…

I choose to take part of my curiosity about some ‘whats’ ~ what do I want from my blog, what I do want to write about and what direction or focus do I want to take?  Sprinkle in a few ‘whys’ ~ why do I write and why do I blog? ~ and that gives you a glimpse of the me that started this course.

It has given me both answers to those questions and at the same time given more questions about how and why I write and what I write about.  Stretching my writing muscles and trying new things has been an interesting experience.  I have not always been brave enough or pleased enough with the results to publish what I have written, I have though written and learnt **

Has taking part in this made me a better writer or blogger?  I don’t really know and maybe it is not for me to decide.  I am not even sure I would be able to answer, I would be too busy looking at what could be better or what I feel is still missing…the damn perfectionist in me hasn’t quite let go yet despite my efforts.  It has certainly given me ideas and shown me blogging doesn’t have to be simply spilling out word after word from my over active mind.

All tasks taught me something, either about my writing or about myself.  These three are the ones that go ‘hey I was really special though’…

Home is Everywhere and it is Anywhere – based on the single word ‘home’ this piece struck a chord with me and with people I shared it with on social media, it reminded me how home is not one building or place.

Dear Tokyo, I miss you– writing a letter to something rather than to a person is a style of writing that was completely out of my comfort zone and I so nearly backed out of it.  I didn’t and was really rather chuffed with the result.

If we were having coffee right now… – This task introduced me to a new way of writing and I loved it!  I will probably introduce it to my blog as a more regular feature.

So now the course is over and what comes next?  A little part of me is concerned that without the focus and prompts given by the course I may lose my way.  Right where’s that positive hat I don’t wear often enough?  Okay found it, yes I may be a little concerned but what sort of anxious person would I be without some worry?  Worrying is nothing new to me.  Accepting that and with my little hat on, I will continue to write, explore new ideas and share my thoughts with you all.  The focus and style for this blog will come together in time, my little thoughts will find their big voice.

**I may have missed a couple of tasks out…**

In Love with a Map


Day Seventeen: A Map as Your Muse


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I have a confession to make.  I once fell in love with a map book and still have feelings for it.  There, I have said it.  I hope you don’t think any less of me…

Maps have always been kinda fascinating to me, all those lines everywhere, all those different places and things out there to discover.  They seem to hold endless possibilities for exploration and adventure.  Maybe they appeal because they show the way and to someone still trying to find their way in life, that attracts.  I had never though got as excited by a map as I did with this one.

As part of our Big Adventure we travelled round New Zealand in a motor home for 4 weeks.  Tucked away in the glove box was this map book, quietly unassuming, waiting for me to pick it up.  Once I did, I was hooked and would often exclaim ‘this is such a good map book’ (often = daily…possibly more than once…)

Although we had a plan of where we would be travelling to, we chose places to stay as we went and this map simply had all the information we needed – DOC campsites, dump stations, sightseeing spots and of course the roads!  We learnt names of mountains and lakes, saw spots used in the Lord of the Ring films, changed routes because we saw something interesting on the map, found random places to stay.

The map book became as much as part of our travels in New Zealand as the motor home was or we were.  I can’t think of our time there without thinking of it.  I fell in love with it so much that I didn’t want to part with it.  Asking anyone for anything is not really in my comfort zone especially if they might think I’m odd or there is a chance they might say no.  This map book pushed me to do something I am very anxious about and I happily carried my map onto my onward flight from Auckland.

I may never return to New Zealand and may never ever need to use that map again.  The sight of it though makes me happy, it brings back memories of that trip, reminds me of freedom and most of all it reminds me that I can be brave.  Who’d have thought a map book could do all of that.

All in a Muddle with Social Media


 

Day Sixteen:  Mine Your Own Material


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Scrolling through the examples for this task, one jumped out and said ‘me, me me!’  Amongst the suggestions for using your own posts on social media as inspiration for writing about how we now document and live our lives online, the one clamouring for my attention was how using social media feels.

This is something I think about way too regularly and still am none the wiser about!  How exactly do I feel about the world of social media we live in and how can I use it in a way that works for me without the unhappiness and stress which so often seems to dog my relationship with it.

My relationship status with social media…well as Facebook would say…’It’s complicated’.  I love and hate it, part of me enjoys the world it opens up to me and another part resents the time I use on it, the effect it has on my mental state.  Looking at social media can so easily trigger anxious or depressed spells in me, make me feel isolated or sad yet it can also make me laugh, feel cared for and connected.  Just what is a girl supposed to do about that?!

I am on the big 3 (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and have different issues/likes about them all.  Twitter I don’t really quite get if I am honest, it overwhelms me and I can’t keep up with it.  I dip my toe in it every now and again generally finding it not my thing and moving on.

Instagram is by far my favourite and one that brings the least amount of issues to the table.  Sure I can occasionally get caught in the ‘how many likes did I get?’, ‘I wish my life was like that person’s’ etc and when I do, I step back and have a little break from it.  On the whole though I find Instagram a happy, welcoming place to be and have found some of my most supportive friends there.  I no longer try to catch up with everyone’s posts and have a little scroll once or twice a day, 9 times out of 10 leaving with a positive tummy feeling (on an aside, why are so many emotions felt in the tummy…or is that just me?)

Facebook is the big one for me, the one I really wish I could sort my feelings out for.  I loved Facebook when it first started.  It was a social place where people shared photographs with others, talked about what they were doing.  It was like meeting up with my friends and having fun, except these friends could be at the other end of the country or even across seas.  Over times though that has changed, Facebook has changed and it has become more bloated.  I spend less and less time on it and when I do pop by for a scroll, my feed is full of shared memes (often at someone’s expense), articles, bad news or people arguing  about the state of the world/the UK/the TV/whatever.

I am all for debate and think it is good that people do get involved in politics or protests and petitions, something though about Facebook seems to say to people ‘hey it is okay to be really rude and offensive’  I find this and the constant sharing of bad news or ‘shocking’ events hard reading and often leave Facebook feeling down or with my anxiety pushed right up.

Facebook to me is no longer about spending virtual time with my friends, ironically sometimes I feel like I am losing touch with them more and more because of it.  I simply can’t be bothered to spend much time scrolling through all the stuff that clogs my feed and so miss seeing actual updates from people.  Nobody seems to tell each other their news anymore, it is all ‘oh I shared it on Facebook’.  Friendships no longer feel so special.

In contrast I have people on my friends list who I never really talk to or interact with yet I feel that I can’t unfriend them because of connections with other people.  I’d like to keep my friends list to exactly that ~ my friends, yet it feels out of my control to do so.  I know I can unfollow people to keep the peace yet it stresses me knowing they are there and I berate myself for not having the balls to defriend them.

This all sounds like it is obviously pointing towards a break up with Facebook however the situation doesn’t feel that straightforward (as life never is).  Virtually all my friends are on it including many in other countries and I feel that if I left it, I would lose touch with some of them.  I suppose there is the argument that is how life is, people come into your life and some stay, some move on.  I like though that I can keep in contact with people this way, I like seeing what my friends in New Zealand or Japan are up to, I like the odd exchange of comments or likes.  I want that connection, the question is can I have it without all that negative stuff?  I am not yet ready to give up Facebook, I need to find a way of making it work for me though or I will reach that point for long.

See I told you I was all mixed up about social media!  What are your feelings about social media?  Do you use it and if so, how do you balance the real and online worlds in your life?  Am I alone in finding it all such a muddle?!

Reasons for Reading

“We read to know we’re not alone” – William Nicholson, Shadowlands


Day 15:  Take a Cue from Your Reader (or not in my case, I picked one of the prompts as didn’t have any suggestions sniff sniff)

Back on day 2 or 3 when I made a disastrous attempt to write a list of things I am good at (it never saw the light of day), Phillip mentioned how he was jealous at how good I was at reading and all the stories I get to read.  I have never viewed my reading as a skill, it is simply something that I do so it felt quite odd to have this said to me.  It is not something I have practiced in order to get better or improve, I simply read, quickly and all the time.

This quote got me thinking about why I read as much as I do, what it is I go from continuously finishing one book and picking up another.  There is always a book sitting waiting for me to pick up and continue our adventure.  I suppose there are many surface reasons for why I read – that I want to be entertained, to relax and to enjoy are some that immediately pop into my head.

Deep down though the main reason I read is because I want to escape.  Reading takes me away from my anxiety and depressions, it lets me go away when I am feeling stuck, it helps me to feel at times when my emotions may be struggling.  Reading shows me new places, it takes me to different worlds.  It shows me all the potential that could be out there, it encourages me to dream.  My world would be a much smaller place if I did not read and I suppose I would indeed be much more alone.

 

Pile of books - from Pixabay

photo by Pixabay

 

You Are Not Alone

 


Day Twelve: Critique a Piece of Work


“Hold on, Hold On.

Everybody hurts.

You are not alone”

~ REM Everybody Hurts


Another day I initially felt very tempted to skip, another day I found myself thinking this isn’t my thing, what on earth would I write about?  Then something came to me, something very personal.  It is not really a critique or a review, more an expression of what one song means to me and how it will play for me at the end of my days.

When I tell people that I want this song played at my funeral, at the start when everyone walks in, the reaction is usually always the same.  It is always something along the lines of ‘wow you really want people to cry, don’t you?’ and accompanied by a look that suggests I am being mean, that I am bad person for wanting to do that to people.  It is a song with a reputation for being bleak, a depressing song about hurt and loneliness, a ‘tear-jerker’.  And to be fair, once upon the time I thought so too.

As a teenager, my brother introduced me to a new world of music, quite different to the boy bands my friends were listening to.  This was how REM came into my life.  I loved REM then and still do, they seem to get how odd, screwed up and yet awesome this life can be.  They say to me that it is okay to be different, quirky and expressive.

‘Everybody Hurts’ was released shortly before I split up with my long-term boyfriend and temporarily moved back into my old bedroom at my parent’s house.  I was devastated.  My world and security had broken down and I was lost.  This song spoke to me of my grief, encouraged my sorrow and let me dwell again and again on how my life had gone so badly wrong.  To me it was indeed a song filled with hurt and sadness.

For years though this song has become a positive message to me especially when life has seemed more than bleak.  It is a song of hope, of finding a way through difficult and painful times, of not being alone.  There is acceptance that life comes with suffering, that everybody hurts and cries.  It is to me the perfect song to be played at a funeral, at a time when grief can seem too much to bear.

It is a song that has held me through many difficult times, it is sometimes the very thing that has stopped me feeling so alone and empty when depression has struck or when I have come face to face with grief.  Everybody does hurt, I hurt and it is this song that has helped me to hang on through some of the worst parts of my life.  Thank you REM for giving me this song, my world would have been a tougher place without it.

Short words ~ Day Thirteen: Play with Word Count


“Come come! Come Out!
From bogs old frogs command the dark
and look…the stars”

Kikaku


The task for Day 13 was to try the opposite of how you normally write in terms of length.  Now I normally write quite longish pieces (I always quite liked the opportunity to write a nice long essay…didn’t appreciate the stress that normally went with that opportunity though!) so short writing it was today.

I used to write (bad) poetry when I was younger and you can’t get much shorter than the Japanese poetry style of haiku.  The standard structure is 5-7-5 syllables in western terms and I did follow this..until I went all rebellious on the last one.  I was in two minds over whether to post these and decided to in the end as evidence to myself that I can try new things.  Read, enjoy and laugh at my poor attempts at this amazing form of poetry…

 

Outside my window

Birds sing, getting their nests ready.

New life in spring time.

 

Crashing of the waves,

Storm brewing, turmoil inside

Seeking peace somewhere.

 

Worries, thoughts, what ifs

Head is jumbled, body is tense

Looking for release.

 

Blue skies, clouds rolling

Day for dreaming, fleeting life.

Time to be living.

 

Turning away, avoiding all the eyes.

Need some space.  Life overwhelms.

 

If you’d like to see some examples of traditional haiku, take a look here.  Have you ever tried writing a haiku poem?  I would love to see them!

If we were having coffee right now…


Day Eleven: A Cup of Coffee


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Image from Pixabay

Another day, another new style of writing to try out and I am quite liking the idea of it.  It is a virtual coffee date between me and you, a time to share what I have been up to and have a catch up.  So I have settled down with a cup of coffee (with oat milk today) and looking forward to my date with you.  Grab a drink, a chair and let’s share (ooh that rhymed!)

If we were having coffee right now, I would tell you I have started jogging…again.  Yes I know I have tried it before with varying degrees of success.  This time though I am determined to give it my best shot.  I woke up this year to the need to look after myself better.  I changed to a plant based diet and am always working to improve my mental health so exercise was next on the list.  Jogging is free and we don’t have much money at the moment so the running shoes are back on.  I will have to let you know how I get on.

If we were having coffee right now, I would tell you about all the tasty creations I have been making since I changed to a plant-based diet and how much I love making ‘buddha bowl’ type meals.  You would probably be astounded when I tell you I can make yummy mayonnaise with chickpea liquid and gooey tasty cheese with potato and carrot.  I would tell you how I have now heard the ‘what do you eat?’ question and that thankfully I have not yet experienced any of the negativity that some vegans seem to encounter…so far…

If we were having coffee right now, I would tell you that slowly and surely our plans for mobile working seem to be coming together.  Our microstock portfolios are growing and so is the income from them.  I would excitedly tell you that someone is actually paying me to write things for them and then confide my doubts about whether I am actually any good at this writing business.

If we were having coffee right now, there would be news to tell you about my blog. How I am looking to moving to a self-hosted blog, how I have lots of ideas for how it will look and how I am being held back because I think a name change is in order.  I would explain that the name inspired by my button jewellery business no longer seems quite right but how confused I am about choosing a new name that reflects what me and my blog is becoming.  We would chat about ideas and hopefully inspiration would strike!

If we were having coffee right now, I would ask how are you?