MUSINGS: Against Fake Inspiration

In ‘Hey, Internet: Stop Trying To Inspire Me’, Jamie Varon expresses how tired she is of people trying to inspire her to have a better, bigger, happier life.

She notes that there’s a monumental wall of stuff out there which attempts to make us feel inspired, but ends up leaving us feeling inadequate and ashamed.

You may have heard some of this stuff in your travels around the web and beyond.

Life is an adventure! Happiness is a choice!

Jamie asserts that while sounding well-meaning, positivity slogans and inspiring quotes and mantras can make us feel ashamed that we can’t be more positive, happier, better, stronger. Their meanings dry up the moment life happens.

Jamie says that rather than surrounding ourselves with cheap, easy, flowery inspiration, it’s time to embrace realness, community, and wanting to feel understood and heard.

“Let me exist. Let me fumble. Let me find the patch of light in the long tunnel of darkness. Let me figure out some shit on my own” she opines.

I have to agree.

In a world that slings ‘how to be a better person’ mantras our way every minute of every day, and spews forth endless ‘positivity slogans and ‘lists to inspire greatness in you’ it’s refreshing to read some honesty amongst the BS.

And that whole ‘happiness is a choice’ thing. No it’s not. Its hard work and it can be fleeting. It’s ok to not feel happy every single moment. It’s human. Note to self: you don’t need to fix yourself if you’re not smiling every moment of the day. Life isn’t a pink fluffy cupcake.

We don’t ALWAYS have to strive for perfection, no matter how many times it’s drilled into us by social media and in everyday discourse.

We shouldn’t feel compelled to pine over pinterest or instagram and wish that some stranger’s perfectly curated life was ours. No no no. Your experience, YOURS, alone, defines you. Good times, bad times and everything in between.

Life isn’t an infomercial for bubblegum. It’s bumpy sometimes; scary, complex, weird, and sometimes its just plain dull.  We shouldn’t feel disenfrachised from feeling every nuance that life has to offer just because social media tells us that we should ‘look on the bright side’ and ‘strive for greatness’.

As Jamie says “I’d rather see people fucking up than trying to act as if they never do.”

Of course, there is nothing wrong with positivity. Looking at things from a ‘glass half full’ kinda vibe is often a good thing, if it is felt honestly and authentically – and not forced upon us by someone else as a prescription for how to be, all the time. If we feel that we have to be positive all the time and fail at doing so, it only serves to negate our real experience and make us feel like failures.

In the authors words, ‘less fake inspiration and more realness.’
Give me some of that.

xDS

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MUSINGS: On the creative process

I’ve been pondering a little of late about the creative process; more specifically, how to exercise that reflex and how to keep the creative tap turned on. Once we’ve found (and have learned how to entice, not spook) our muse, what is it that sustains and nurtures creative flow?

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Are there any specific practices or processes that successful creatives put in place to ensure that their stream is as constant as it possibly can, and give it the best chance to flourish?

Many of us, especially when we begin a new year, promise ourselves that we will commit to our practice more. We’ll finish that short story. We’ll aim to write in our blog every single day. We’ll fantasise about drawing and painting every day, finishing that studio piece, practicing our instrument without fail.

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Like those proverbial plateaus we often hit when working out, we sometimes lose the steam that once powered new and exciting ideas. So we take a day off to ‘rest’, which can turn into two; until eventually we sometimes find ourselves opening up a notebook or picking up our guitar only to realise it hasn’t been touched in two weeks – or more.

So how to break the drought? How do we implement some changes that will allow us to produce not only a bigger volume of work, but better work?  How do we get into a “growth mindset”, so essential for success?

I find in instances when I am running dry or feeling flat on my creative intuition, I turn to the pros for help. Success breeds success, and if we seek lessons from those who are achieving and succeeding now, we can find a range of ideas and tips on how to bring that creative spark back with a vengeance.

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Learning from the pros is imperative, but if you don’t put their lessons into practice, it won’t take you far.

Professional creatives can offer a wide range of ideas; however, a common thread to their success is more often than not the two D’s- discipline and determination.

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What does that mean in practice? That means making the time for your craft. It means not believing in writer’s block. It means turning off the television, silencing your phone, and finding that secret zen bubble. Easier said than done?

I was reading recently about Nick Cave, one of my absolute favourite multi-faceted creatives – songwriter, novelist, film-score composer, screenwriter – a brilliant, prolific and true modern-day Renaissance man. His genre-bending legacy is that of a highly creative and somewhat obsessive lyricist whose songs and stories never suffer for a lack of vividness.

With an astounding command of the English language and a seemingly unlimited pool from which to draw inspiration, Cave’s creative output in it’s quantity and quality is truly inspiring not to mention his weight as a performer. Although obviously inspired by many influences, his creations are uniquely his.

Claiming that “writing is a necessary thing for me, just to keep myself level”, Cave sees writing as a means of self-definition and self-preservation. Without creativity, Cave feels he would be “less of a human being”. But whilst he celebrates the creative process and claims “I can write certain stuff in my sleep”, there appears to be an element of toil in his art.

He has stated that lyric writing is often the most difficult for him, an agonising activity from which he derives minimal enjoyment. “Writing a song, I’ve always felt, right from the start, like I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel. I don’t ever feel there’s a font of ideas to fall back on.”

That said, Cave has proven that he is not the type of songwriter to sit around waiting for lightning to strike.

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Apparently he sits down to write daily, even it’s a mere few lines or a scrap of an idea or a ponderance. ‘‘I go into my office every day that I’m in Brighton and work. Whether I feel like it or not is irrelevant.”

Cave has committed to his writing for many, many years; through times of wild touring, excess and near-self destruction in the Birthday Party years, through the passage of marriage and fatherhood.  The muse beckons as strongly as ever, and projects of all kinds keep bubbling out.

Extraordinarily gifted, the two beacons that shine through and have been a constant for Cave are his discipline and determination to practice his craft and flex that creative muscle, ‘whether you feel like it or not’.

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I find this so motivating; I’ve heard it echoed from varied sources of authors over time and I’m sure it applies across many other disciplines. It reminds me of esteemed funny man Jerry Seinfeld; poles apart from Cave, you’ll agree- he has also talked at length about the creative method that worked for him, and enables him to create new material, often at short notice.

Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity tip is called “Don’t Break the Chain”; perhaps you’ve heard of it? His method for success is simple enough to execute: at the start of each year, he hangs a large calendar on his wall and, for every day he writes new material, he takes the exquisite pleasure of drawing a big red “X” over that day.  Over time Seinfeld found that drawing those Xs got to be pretty rewarding, so he kept doing it. Eventually, he began to create a chain of red Xs. The idea was to never break that chain.

This approach programs the body and mind to sit down and do something daily.  It also motivates you to continue that beautiful string of big, red Xs. If you don’t practise your art on any particular day, you don’t get to draw the X.

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It doesn’t particularly matter what you do, whether you write blogs, articles, scripts, your memoir. You could be an illustrator, struggling to find the time to finish a piece. You could be a painter, desperate to find the time to get into the studio and lock the door on the world. Or you could be like me, wanting more than anything to be able to create artistry on a face or body, if not every day, then as often as possible, with the rest of the time working on concepts, retouching looks, reflecting and writing about the process.

The common thread here seems to be as long as you’re actively and routinely pushing to try and observe and practice what you love as often as you can, you are going in the right direction.

First and foremost, it means making your creative outlet a major part of your life.

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To do that, you have to make it a habit, just like going to the gym, eating healthy food, or flossing- but of course, it’s not that simple. There are countless excuses, most of them completely acceptable, which hold us back from practicing our passion. Often, it’s our never-ending To Do lists, whingeing at us at every minute for attention, that take precedence.

However if we commit to exercises like ‘Don’t Break the Chain’, our art, too, becomes a daily task to cross off that To-do list. Methods like ‘Don’t Break The Chain’ are a constant reminder that, if we want to succeed, we must acknowledge our craft and respect the process.

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Of course, there are other ways to maximise creative energy, clear obstacles, transcend the ordinary and harness your true creative power.

Making the time and making the space seem to be common game changers. Being willing to try and fail as part of the creative process is another biggie.  Finding the balance between being carefree and careless, and visualization and affirmations, are other powerful tools you can add to your arsenal to help you empower yourself with the strength to become successful in your chosen creative field.

Because the reality is, if you do work at your craft obsessively, you will find success.

In the words of Cave, “inspiration is a word used by people who aren’t really doing anything. Keep going, avoid “starting”, never wait for inspiration, accept failure, carry on”.

Sage advice, indeed.

Happy creating xx

DS
 

 

Musings: Follow Your Bliss

“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn’t know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else”

Joseph Campbell

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MUSINGS : Aloha 2014!!

Hello my sensational sunshyne peeps!
Welcome to this glorious new year- are you ready to OWN it?
I know I sure am, and have emblazoned a cap with ‘BOSS’ in big bold sparkling neon letters in preparation (this may or may not be true).
In order to make any year boss-worthy its important to have some goals in mind of how you’re gonna achieve more boss-ness in your approach to life. How are you going to do things even better than before?
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I have a few things I want to keep front of mind, and I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a doozy of a list below! A doozy!
This has been edited from my mile-long post-NYE hungover list, scribbled on a notepad and titled ‘I-have-to-do-everything-better-this-year-as-I-am-feeling-sorry-for-myself-and-have-many-mountains-of-things-I-need-to-improve-on’; to its current, kinder (and more logical) state.  I’ve culled all the obvious stuff like- be more available, drink less, answer your phone, stop impulse buying clothes all the time – and distilled it down to the very biggest, most primary things that I think are manageable.  It covers most aspects of the areas of my life I want to AMPLIFY, not necessarily CHANGE.
I haven’t made too many resolutions per se, as I usually resolve to do something straight away when I decide to do it- not always at the start of the year…I also try not to set any expectations too high. For me its more of a benchmark that I can refer to throughout the course of the year, to see how I’m tracking and if things that I’ve deemed important at the beginning of the year are even relevant or valid any more. It’s always a nice warm feeling to look back and see how far you’ve come in 12 months, isn’t it?
So, without further adieu…
 
LOVING AND LIVING
I fully endeavour this year (as I do every day) to give more love, expectation free.  To live abundantly without motive, without obligation and without strings attached.  Just give out bucket loads of it when I can.  Even if it doesn’t always come back. That’s OK I’ve learned- its all part of this amazing, interconnected cosmic web of energy and eventually it will come around again, even if its not from the person it was directed to. Lessons learned from last year were many and important: you can’t always expect love and support from those you’d expect it from, and you can’t force it. You can only open yourself up and give as much as you can, always.  Oh, and something I was taught by my very wise mum- you can’t expect everyone to love you. Nuh uh. Just ain’t gonna happen.  Not every SINGLE person you encounter in your life will like you. Once you grasp this- wow.  All of a sudden you’re not trying to be everyone’s best friend! When you stop worrying if people like you, and realise that all you can be is the most loving and caring and abundant version of yourself as possible, its so freakin’ liberating. If others are down with that great! If not, move on up.
If I’m an open book, giving out love freely, nothing can harm me. Nothing. Only expectations, high standards and motives can cause harm, as they will shatter the perfect love-giving bubble and cause everything to crash down in a seething pile of negativity.  I don’t get down like that!
CAREER
I plan to set my business alight and jump at EVERY opportunity!!!! To be bigger and bolder in every way I can and stop letting lack of self belief stand in the way of greatness! I can do it and I will do it is my new mantra. Last year I dipped my toe into a lot of new experiences and opportunities that were outside of my comfort zone, and thoroughly enjoyed every moment. I’m a fiend for new adventures and doing things I haven’t done before. The payoff is amazing when you discover new skills, meet new people and make new connections- here’s to more o’ that please!
I’d also love to find a dream ‘day job’ (whilst I still have to work for someone else) that will allow me the security, peace of mind, and the support to follow my dreams (without the stress)! The day job I have had for some time is no longer fitting or serving me- its time to move on, in the best possible way. This will hopefully see me pushing the boundaries to the limit in makeup artistry and beyond this year.
HEALTH / WELLNESS
Like every year, I resolve to be as healthy as I possibly can- within my own limits. I’m certainly not perfect, and there’s always room for improvement, but I do pretty well…I’m a lot kinder on myself than I have ever been and I listen to my body a lot more now than I used to. They really are so smart, our bodies.
I usually start each year with a re-focussed mindset to work harder and eat cleaner.  It always comes at a good time, straight after all the cheer and indulgence of the silly season has hit its peak and I can no longer keep consuming my body weight in cheese, chocolate and vodka (boo). In this spirit, I have committed to a 30 minute awakening and supercharging run or walk through the park every morning – committing to this ritual wakes me up so much quicker, gets my energy flowing and affords me a chance to get my mind and body connected right at the start of the day….a supercharged way to get into the day ahead. And I won’t feel all that bad if I miss a workout later – bonus 🙂
I’ve also resolved to fit more yoga and meditation into my days. I did so well last year at upping the frequency of my yoga routines and found some that were amazingly good. I’ll be sure to share them with you this year. Aside from this, I’m cleaning up my act again, avoiding sugar (I had lapsed of late, sneaky chocolate cravings!), staying off the booze for as long as I can last (or until my liver decides to talk to me again), and I’m giving a vegan, plant-based diet a go again. To de-clutter and reset everything always feels good.  Alhtough I am having severe margarita cravings of late – particularly in the searing heat of summer.  Virgin they must be for now.
GRATITUDE/ ATTITUDE
Like last year, in 2014 I resolve to continue down a path of seeing everything as a gift and a blessing.  I’ll make more of a conscious effort to curb negative thinking (as I have a habit of over-thinking and over-analysing things) and instead, practicing acceptance and thankfulness for what I have received and what I have around me.
I won’t be giving energy away where its not warranted or invited, like stressing over things that haven’t happened, or being anxious over decisions or what ifs. Time to enjoy being in the moment and being thankful for the awesome energy I have around me.
PASSIONS
Each year I always remind myself to do more of everything I love- for me its blogging / writing more, playing and writing more music (and possible learning a new instrument), creating more art and generally just taking time out to do the things I love- spending time with my fams, going on adventures, travelling, dreaming, connecting with amazing people, exploring, photography. So more, more, MORE of all of that, and anything else that makes me shine! Make time for the things you love, so important.
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What do you think? Is it a little like your list?

What do you want to achieve in 2014?

Do you even make resolutions or are you more go with the flow- taking every day as it comes, and giving it your best shot every day?

I’d love for you to share with me your top goals and resolutions below and what habits you will be abandoning or starting.
As they say in the classic, there’s no time like the present to get cracking!

xDS

MUSINGS: the importance of listening to your heart

It’s often cited that nourishing one’s soul with things that you LOVE to do is a sure fire way to get on the path to true happiness.

Many a wise person has mused and reflected on the art of enriching one’s life through self-fulfilment. Following your dreams, taking the time to indulge in your passions, and just taking the time out to do the stuff that YOU want to do. Seems perfectly simple and obvious doesn’t it?

Yet sometimes we get so trapped in the minutiae of routine and existence that we lose sight of what it is that makes us happy. Everything external to us in our immediate periphery seems to be dull, boring and eating away at our soul’s pure intent. It’s too easy to lose the rays of sunshine and happiness when your time is sucked away by things you’d prefer not to be doing.

I know that my happiness definitely tends to derail when I am too busy working, and I disconnect from those things that make my heart sing its true song. The little things that make your EVERYTHING smile. That make time stretch…and sometimes stop altogether! You catch yourself in a magical moment, truly and utterly feeling blissful and blessed.

These past few months for me have been another kind of crazy. I’ve embarked back into the full time corporate world again after a small period of searching for the NBT. I’m in great industry, in a role where I am more than capable and very experienced. It offers plenty of challenges and scope to learn. And the culture is great.

Yet, I’m left lost and lonely at the end of every working week, wondering where the hell my time, mojo and energy went. Wondering which damned corner my joy disappeared around. Confused and afraid that my life is slipping by in a whir of daily grinds, to do lists and constant deadlines. During the working week, serenity and zen are two words that tend to vanish from the soul’s vernacular and are replaced by stress, limits, errands, timelines, and looking after other  people’s needs well beyond my own. 4 months in and I am really struggling.

I told myself this year would be the year I would HAVE to do this. I would have to bury myself in a full time job and get myself financially back on track, slowly chipping away at the last vestiges of debt that have been trailing me for some time. Although mostly mopped up now, there is a still a good amount of knuckling down to do before I can survey my surroundings and not see any lingering financial worries in my periphery. Though deep down I chose this, and remind myself of this very fact every day, it doesn’t get easier. In a nutshell I am over this full time thing; it’s slooooowly wearing me down and a thick black cloud has been blooming over my head, growing fatter and more ominous with every passing day.

Above all I yearn for my time back. Commuting for hours a day is starting to wear thin, especially in this bitterly cold and gloomy winter. I crave one morning a week where I don’t have to rush, not be on the clock; where I can be myself and not feel like a f*cking robot. I wish for just one day during the week where I don’t have to jump on that wheel, join that queue and be battered and hammered by the proverbial mass drudging their sad, unfulfilled souls along the path well worn.

I’m sure every full timer feels this way from time to time. There are some that are blessed in that they TRULY and utterly LOVE their day job: I have yet to find that synthesis. So I’ve set myself a limit of when this will have to end, before I lose all remnants of sanity and my passion for life. When that time comes I will seek that all elusive work life balance and commit to it hard. Until then I must listen to my heart as much as I can, and take the time to re-connect with my passions again. I have to. My happiness depends on it.

This weekend, I’ve committed to doing lots of what I absolutely adore, whatever that entails; lots of time to do some yoga and meditation would be a great start. To get some writing done would be another win. I’d also love to spend half a day out of the city, far away from the traces of the rat race, perhaps hiking through the hills or finding a hidden waterfall. The smell of fresh air is beckoning! I’m also planning lots of family time and merriment with my some very quality friends, seeing some bands, and just celebrating being! All the things that make me forget the creeping, pervasive unhappiness I am starting to feel on the regular because of this working life.

On a good weekend, when the time stretches out (very rare) and there aren’t too many errands to be done or commitments to be adhered to, makeup is always on the cards. Coming up with a concept to transform a face or body; painting some crazy colours, or some intricate design or some gory SFX (I love making myself look like a creepy scary mess) – these all very much ignite the inner fires. I am safe in the knowledge that the savage beast will be temporarily sated whilst I am in my zone.

There are other things that make my soul fly to its happy place and they are always on my list of things I’d love more time to do: art of any kind. Photography. Dancing in whatever form takes my fancy. Cuddling my awesomely handsome and cuddly cat. Cooking something ultra-magnifique. Travelling. Staring at the clouds. Taking a long luxurious soak in a hot tub (never happens, but damn its great when it does).

It doesn’t matter what it is –skating, building, biking, redecorating your office, sowing a veggie garden, playing with your pets – anything that puts you in a place of zen is a good thing, and you need to nourish this. Knowing where to get your kicks and connecting with your true inner fire is a gift that you should always give to yourself.

I’m re-committing to making time for my heart’s passions, as often as possible- regardless of what the clock says.

Let’s do this together.

xDS