Create Like a Child

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via Daily Prompt: Create

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To create is to live. I believe that every single one of us on the planet has the ability to create and be creative, and I believe that through a creative process, we come alive.

As a child many of us are constantly creating, making a mud hill, painting a picture, creating a make believe world, a story, lego structures, forts, etc. I believe that through this creative process we learn. It is a way of interacting with the world, of pushing boundaries and limits and learning about yourself.

The simple joy of creating a mud hill, playing in water or drawing for the sake of drawing seems to disappear when we are adults, and yet I believe that this process something so naturally human. It is a basic creative mode, where there is no goal, no outcome to be monitored or assessed, just fun to be had in being creative.

This is something I vow to do more of, to reconnect with that creative inner child, who has no critical demons demolishing the thing that she creates with self doubt and ideas of failure. To just create for the sake of creating and just to be in the moment with that process.

Creative Block

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Perhaps I am just destined to live my life feeling vaguely frustrated and agitated and not being able to put my finger on it and fill it.

Lately I have been feeling a creative block. Inspiration has been at my fingertips but just out of reach.

I find it so easy to slip into a numb yet frustrated melancholy when this occurs, and give up on things too easily, because I just don’t have the will power or incentive to try anything. All too often I will be struck by some inspiration or motivation but when I’m busy doing something else, and by the time I am free to do whatever it was I was feeling excited about, that feeling has gone and I end up doing nothing. That is exactly why I am writing this at this moment in time, I arrived at work today and was suddenly filled with positivity and inspiration and motivation and sunshine, but I can’t do any of the things that I truly want to be doing because I am stuck at work for the next 8.5 hours. So instead I am channeling that feeling into writing, that energy has to go somewhere, and no, I don’t want to channel it into my work, thanks. My work is uninspiring and suffocating, so let’s leave that there.

 

But I find it so hard to be creative and motivated at home!!

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I notice though that despite now feeling the inspiration and motivation, it has not got rid of the frustration. Perhaps I am just destined to live my life feeling vaguely frustrated and agitated and not being able to put my finger on it and fill it.

When I have no motivation I find myself filled with doubt, insecurities, self-dissatisfaction, self-berating thoughts which push me further into the hole that I am in, but I seem quite incapable of stopping myself from doing it. I have no internal locus of evaluation, which is pathetic, and probably why I can’t commit to anything or get my arse in gear and do things.

So today I feel pumped and I want to go to a yoga class and a Zumba class and go find a beer garden near a river and fall asleep on some grass and sit under a tree and read a book, and I want to write, and get on with some of my projects and take pictures of weird tiny objects and make a cool thing and organise my belongings and maybe hang some pictures….

I resent my work because I don’t want to be here. When these moods strike me I want to be free to do something about it. By the time I have finished work and got home my enthusiasm for doing things has waned considerably, and I tend to dick around, or hang out with people, instead of doing something productive, and I can’t keep beating myself up about it, because I have been doing something productive for 9 hours, it was just for someone else’s benefit, not mine.

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So maybe I can’t control my swings of motivation vs hedonism, but I should probably try to be nicer to myself about it and stop beating myself up and holding myself to such a ridiculously high standard, or at least I can hold myself to that standard but not expect myself to meet it every second of every day. It is ok to have blips and emotions and not be feeling it.

 

Growing Old Reluctantly – It’s my birthday and I’m terrified.

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It is my birthday on 5th May. I shall be 29 years old, and that is possibly the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me (or is about to happen).

Why does this feel so terrifying?

Perhaps in my head I associate being in your 20’s as the time to grow as a person, achieve, make connections, set your life out and get your shit together. It is the time to blossom, to have the magical moment where you become a person.

I do not feel yet like I am quite a person. Still a piece of plaster-cine in need of molding.

My peers look at me expectantly, as though they too expect me to be a fully assembled person, and I am afraid I just am not. They live wonderful lives of conformity, doing all the things society deems we should at this age, marriage, kids, mortgages, things that I  have no interest in.

I want to go to a city centre and take black and white photographs of pidgeons and weird buildings.

I want to discover a weird bar and drink there all day talking to weird and fascinating people.

I want to meet random people and invent a new sport.

I want to listen to music loud and let it fill and nourish my soul.

I want to buy some super soakers from a pound shop and chase my friends around a town centre. But my friends don’t want to do that.

 

They want to go home in their finance cars, to a home that they have bought, where a spouse awaits with a meal and an evening in front of the telly where they tell each other about their days and then go try to make a baby.

Trying to make a baby sounds like the worst thing you can do to sex. How to make it go from sexy to a regimented boring outcome orientated activity.

But these are just my opinions. I support all choices, and I am happy for people who want to live that life, any life, but it is not a life for me. I feel increasingly isolated in my beliefs and outlook.

Increasingly I see people who are accomplished, grown up looking, fully functioning people, who I assume are older than me, only to find out that they are actually some years younger than me. I don’t know if I look old, I see my face everyday so can’t judge, but I probably do.

I can no longer use the excuse “because I’m only young”.

Mortality starts to become a little more real when you find yourself doing something without thinking of the consequences, and then hurting yourself.

My body has changed (largely because of the implant) but I am sure were I younger I would find it easier to shift the excess weight.

Yet inside I feel unchanged. Wiser, better, stronger, but not a grown up yet.

On the plus side I thought about turning 30 next year and started hyperventilating, so 29 isn’t that bad….

 

 

Lessons from old friends

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This week some old friends have given me pause for thought.

I’ve never been good at explaining things.

I am a naturally very quiet person, but my brain is very noisy. I have what feels like a thousand thoughts a minute, all jumbling and fighting for room, a constant hum of white noise rattling around, and I think that on the rare occasions where I do open my mouth, or try to convey a thought or idea, so many of these thoughts come tumbling out, shouting over each other, too quick for me to keep up, that key points are lost, and all I succeed in doing is confusing those around me and frustrating myself. This is the main reason why I have so many blogs. An avenue for chaos and a way to siphon ideas out of my head, much like Dumbledore and his Pensieve. It is hard to keep track, sometimes, of what you are thinking, where you are going, and what you are doing.

But, this week, a few friends have been invaluable in helping to organise and declutter my thoughts.

As most of you know from my various blogs and ramblings, I have struggled for a few years now with being “unsatisfied”. Chasing something but not knowing what it is, feeling unfulfilled and bored and not quite sure what the fuck I am doing with my life. I have tried many different things over the past 4 years in an attempt to quieten this feeling, to fill the hole, but none of them have worked. They have had the wonderful temporary effects of novelty and excitement, but I have always quickly returned to feeling a bit empty.

I have blamed my job a lot over the last couple of years, believing that I needed to change and be self-employed, and starting lots of crazy schemes (and some not so crazy that have actually worked really well), but have ended up with no time for myself or others, as I am busy running around trying to build and run an empire, in the vain hope that this will calm my unease and discomfort at life. Recently, I took on another venture – The Hippy Shop – and whilst this really did make me feel happy, and that it could be something that filled the hole, I quickly became burnt out. It was just too much, and I would moan to anyone within earshot that if I could just quit my job, things would be fine.

Eventually there came a make or break moment with the shop, and I chose to decline and walk away. I was too scared to quit said well-paying stable job, and jump into the unknown. It was the right and sensible decision in the end and as sad as it was to do this, I actually felt a huge sense of relief, and I realised that it was all too much. I am not infallible and capable of running three businesses, a full time job, a degree, an allotment and trying to have a semblance of a life. This may seem rather obvious, but the intensity of the void inside that I try to fill, has only grown over the years, until it has become all-consuming and apparently I was willing to go to incredible lengths to fill it.

That said, the shop had succeeded in plugging the vortex for a few months, and now the emptiness seemed more vast than ever, and everything just a little bit more pointless. As most of you will know, I have been depressed, not tidying my house, looking after myself, not going out much and allowing myself to be consumed by this.

Anyway, I booked a week off work and agreed to meet with a couple of old friends last week, and in doing so have come to some realisations that may help this overwhelming pit of fuckery.

Like any good narrative, there are three parts – three friends – a fitting beginning, middle and end.

First friend. Affectionately called fuck-face normally, but will be referred to as JB. Haven’t seen JB since Halloween, and met up on Tuesday for drinks and musings. Our meetings are usually very philosophical and deeply personal, no catching up to be done, just straight to the nasty bits. Due to train station confusion, and complete lack of communication, we ended up in Cambridge, meeting much later than we planned. We plunged straight in to heavy topics as we downed expensive beers at The Eagle, and whilst I won’t bore you with the details, as it always gets a bit brainstorm-y and mad, but we had some interesting conversations on self-restriction and time management, more specifically the lies we tell ourselves concerning these two things.

We discussed our shared opinion that we “did not have time” for so many important things, and discussed how true this statement was and began examining the meta elements (not to be confused with meta tags!) and how we both participate in small self-sabotaging behaviours. I will not discuss JB’s issues obviously, but one of my own is the fact that due to a reaction to a contraceptive implant I have gained 2 stone over the last year. I hate it and I am not going to get into that particular subject, but I have been known to be frustrated and moan at how slowly the weight is coming off, as I “don’t have time” to go hit the gym crazy hard, or take classes, go for walks etc. In reality, I could have done more. I could be doing more. This “lack of time” that I describe is in my head.

I left at the end of the night with feelings of greater responsibility for my actions, rather than blaming external variables as is so easy to do. I always find this a great grounding feeling, accepting responsibility to the extent to which you truly are is a humbling feeling, and clears all bullshit, leaving just you and your actions, behaviours, interactions, motives etc. It is also a great frame of mind for organising and examining. So it put me in a contemplative mood for the week. I have been trying to find something to pull me out of this depressive funk that I have been in, so when presented with an opportunity to hash things out with JB, I grabbed it, and it helped as I knew it would.

Second friend. This was a friend that I had not seen in over 10 years, and who I was, if I am honest, quite nervous about seeing again, especially as I was a depressed mess, although I didn’t tell him that. I felt quite tempted to call it off until I was in a more awesome place and state of mind. On my way to meet him from the train station my palms started sweating, something that hasn’t really happened to me before, and in my head I thought how grateful I was that I didn’t have mom’s spaghetti down my sweater. Then I chuckled out loud on the bus and got strange looks which didn’t make me feel any better about the situation.

The friend in question is one of only a few people on the planet that has the ability to knock me off kilter. Increasingly these days I find myself feeling socially awkward, so I expected this to be the ultimate in awkward. Surprisingly I felt perfectly comfortable. He spoke at one point of drunken adventures and meeting new people, and it dawned on me that I haven’t gone out and met new people in ages. Sure, you do meet new people, but my feelings of awkwardness intervene and I actively shut people down. I am “too busy” to make new friends. Yet here should/could have been a most awkward situation (we were never very good at communicating as teenagers in the first place) and yet I was perfectly comfortable. Through hanging out with him I came to realise a few other things.

  1. He did some magic with my laptop and phone and fixed a whole bunch of shit , for which my laptop was probably eternally grateful and was probably in heaven, being touched by someone who actually had an idea of what they were doing. Watching him was fascinating, he didn’t do anything massively impressive, but I have always loved watching people do things that they are good at. I love watching people enter a zone of inner confidence, where they know their shit, it’s beautiful. I love to hear people talk about things they are passionate about, things that they geek over, even if I don’t fully understand, it gives me the same feeling, it’s beautiful. And I realised that I do not do this. For some years now I have not had mastery over anything, not geeked out over anything, I have not pushed myself, and I have nothing that makes me feel like that. I need to.

2. He had a cool little electronic gadget (god I sound like a fucking pensioner) I don’t know what you would call it, but it was like the world’s smallest keyboard and was capable of recording music and looping it all together. I was fascinated by it, and wished he had shown me more, or that I had asked what the fuck it was. Again I watched as he fiddled with buttons, and set up a couple of basic loops, and it was great to watch him. I commented that I own a keyboard but haven’t touched it for a couple of years and missed dicking around on it. Watching him reminded me of my childhood keyboard, and how I would sit for hours recording and looping drum beats, melodies, bass lines, and how fucking entertained I would be. I loved it. I realised that even the simplest creative things are so fulfilling, they don’t have to be for work or for a purpose, they can just be because it’s fun, and I how I used to know that but have recently forgotten it.

3. It made me feel a little bit vulnerable, letting him into this depressive world I have been inhabiting, and part of me felt ashamed. I used to be an awesome person, always doing crazy things, new things, weird things, living life. I had come to believe that perhaps I had stopped being that person. He, on the other hand, has always had a spark in him, something creative, yearning for the learning, wanting to experience, crazy spark. He still has that, yet he had changed so dramatically since I last saw him. He told me things he had done and I couldn’t imagine the 14/15 year old boy I met doing those things. I mean at all. Sure we are twice as old now, but the confidence and sureness in himself that he exhibited (I cannot speak for his personal feelings) was amazing, I felt so happy for him that he was an awesome person.

But it made me wonder how two people can part ways and in 10 years go in such different directions. One of the reasons I liked him when we were teenagers is because he was so like me, and understood me and one of the things we had in common was that spark. Somewhere along the way I lost it, and I’ve known that for a while. Believing that it had been beaten out of me by life and circumstances, whatever excuses I had convinced myself of, now stood in unrest. He is going through a very difficult time at the moment, and yet here, the spark stood, untouched. It made me realise that all the “reasons” I had come up with for why I couldn’t get my fucking arse in gear were invalid. We are not all the same, this I know, but he and I were similar and I realised that I had been lying to myself.

This thought began to unravel and I began putting things together and taking things apart and questioning what exactly had I been doing with myself. All of a sudden an image of myself, stagnant, giving up and being an un-awesome person floated to the surface, as a true self portrait. I realised that I had given up on something, that I had become old before my time, throwing myself into work and into crazy things to stem the flow of “void-induced” pain.

There were some other things that made me question whether the things I told myself I was happy with, were actually simply comforting untruths, and by the time he left I was feeling quite bemused and emotional. Whilst it had been great to see him, it had left me with an awful lot to think about.

Friend number 3. She is almost twice my age and has lived an amazing life. She sailed the Atlantic, set up home in the BVI and lived there like a native for years. She has memory issues, and as such does not lie. As she says, she’d never remember them so there’s no point. Her honesty and bluntness is one of the reasons why I love her, and one of the reasons why she makes such a good friend. She also has a brilliant outlook on life.

She came round Friday lunchtime, and could tell that I was unsettled. We discussed things and her blunt dressing down of me was welcome. She said a lot of things that made a lot of sense, as she always does, and her gentle support and belief in me gave me a positive spin. She encouraged me to address the things that were on my mind, change them, be true to myself, and to get my head out of my own arse and stop worrying and procrastinating. The more she talked the more I realised that she was completely right. I had been placing self-limiting beliefs on myself and my circumstances, and I had allowed myself to wallow in the fiction of these beliefs.

I ended Friday feeling happy and inspired. I then tried to explain this drunkenly on Saturday and it all came out wrong and made me sound mental, so I then spent Sunday consumed with a regret that only alcohol can bring. I could have bowed my head and given in, that nothing had changed and carried on with my melancholy. And nothing has changed. But I can change it. I can find something in life that makes me feel creative. I can find something in life that brings that spark back. I don’t know what and it may take me a wee while to figure that out. I do still think I need a new job, but I need to think long and hard about it. I also need to stop beating myself up, and stop saying no to things, experiences. “I can’t” is something I say so fucking much and I hadn’t even realised. I want to have an awesome life, and be an awesome person again.

Who Am I?

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Who Am I? What Am I?

I have always struggled with these kinds of questions. I literally have no clue how other people perceive me. My usual answer to these questions is “quiet, a bit weird” or “laid-back, friendly?”.

I recently did an art piece using words to describe me, words that I had come up with and words I had asked other about. When it was finished I was pleased that I had come up with so many words, and I started going through them, but I realised that whilst the words written in front of me did in fact describe me, they could also describe billions of other people on the planet. Yes I was looking at an accurate description of myself, but not one that anyone would look at and guess immediately, “That’s got to be “L”!”.

So what would make someone say that? What could I put onto paper, that wasn’t a picture of myself, that would make someone say, “That’s you, definitely you.”

Is that what makes us, us? The bits in the middle, the bits that don’t seem important but that are unique to you.

I sat staring at it, feeling deflated, and wondering what I was missing. What was I?!

I am a girl woman who refers to herself as a girl when she really isn’t one anymore.

I am a woman who traces facial features, clothing hems and outlines, signs, traffic, and subtitled punctuation with her thumb obsessively, constantly and unconsciously.

I am a woman who drinks weak black decaf coffee and strong green tea. I drink weak gin and tonics and strong commercial beer.

I am full of regret and sadness.

I am full of hope and ideas.

I am a disillusioned Disney Princess who likes a drink.

I am a childless mother.

I am a walking existential crisis.

I am a health conscious smoker.

I am a workshy workaholic.

I am a depressed therapist.

I am the socially awkward life of the party.

I am a walking fucking contradiction, and I still don’t know if any of this is something people would read and say, that’s “L” right there.

What do you think constitutes as making someone “Who they are”?

Be Unapologetic!

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Be Unapologetic!

I haven’t written for so long, and I recently came across some articles I had written years ago that floored me. I couldn’t believe how eloquent I sounded. They were professional sounding articles, and I could scarcely believe that I had written them. One of them, a scientific report, was gibberish to me! I had a vague idea of what I was talking about, and I remembered doing the article, but a lot of it went over my head. I remember that it didn’t take long to write, and as I sat there reading, I was filled with a sense of longing. I enjoy writing so much, there is something wonderful to me about the keys tapping away, keeping in time with my thoughts, or the pages of a  notebook getting filled, marked and wrinkled.

So I decided to create this blog. This blog is not a professional space, I have a (neglected) blog for professional work, this is just for me. To write about what I want, to write nonsense sometimes, but to let the fingers roam free as the thoughts come pouring out.

So I have mentioned to a few people that I have started a new blog, and that I am looking forward to getting back into writing again. I sent the link to a few people and asked for input on colours, layout etc.

What came back to me was all very positive and nice, but one thing kept reoccurring – “Don’t get too personal will you?” “Make it sound a bit more professional”.

Whilst I get where my loved ones are coming from, I don’t want this to be a professional blog. In fact, quite the opposite. I WANT this blog to display my flaws, dodgy grammar, typos, undesirables, emotions and imperfections.

I have a professional blog, where I double check my work, make sure it sounds right and perhaps go through two or three drafts before it gets posted.

This I want to be an out-pouring of words. A stream of consciousness. I have ideas that I would like to implement, I quite fancy interviewing some people, I quite fancy doing a few weekly fun things, but these things are 1) For me, and 2) For everyone else.

I am bound and constricted by society, to be something I am not. In my work I have to talk a certain way, behave a certain way, that does not come naturally to me. I have to remove my piercings, cover up all of my tattoos, and hide the shaved part of my head, by wearing my hair over it. I cannot dress how I want, but instead have trawled through charity shops looking for boring work clothes that won’t make me happy, but that I have to spend money on anyway. I cannot be myself around these people, there is a constant message of “Your natural appearance and being is offensive to us, please disguise it”. Now it might not sound like much to some of you, but I assure you it is exhausting.

I have found myself, in so many roles, not just work related, being bound by limitations that I have not imposed, and I find I rarely have a chance to just be me. Having a mental health issue, I spend a lot of the time trying to downplay, or cover this, which is exhausting.

So this blog is just for me. And hopefully for other people to read and enjoy too. All the flaws, mess, beauty, complication, complexity and wondrousness that makes me, me.

Searching for Inspiration

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It can be difficult, when you are cooped up in an office, doing work that is uninspiring, to find motivation and inspiration. It is hard to maintain an ignited flame, with the stifling, stuffy office environment suffocating it. In times like this, where I feel my soul being sapped away with the tapping of the keyboard, I look to other people for inspiration. I sneak off for a quick 5 minute phone break, and devour stories of women achieving, their utter bad-assery, against the odds, doing what they believe in, making a difference. Not always women, but their stories are somehow greater to me.

It is people like this that can re-ignite that flame. People who’s own flames are burning brightly, they light up that stuffy, suffocating darkness, and call to your inner flame, willing it to be relit, willing you to get up and do something. Sometimes I feel as though my creativity has up and left and may never come back, but I know that it just needs nurturing, encouraging and letting out.

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I often talk about feeling like a caged animal. Stuck inside a building all day, stuck at my desk all day, frowned upon for leaving it, maintaining an unnatural posture to prevent posture problems when I am older, nothing about my working day is natural. I feel as though my creativity comes from that natural place within, so it is no wonder it feels stifled and trapped, unable to burst free and express itself.

I feel tempted to start a creative meetup, where all people from all walks of life can meet and bounce off one another, allowing the creativity to zoom about the place igniting all the flames that struggle to keep burning through the dogmatic ideas of modern life, working to live, in order that you can die with no debt to your name. We are born into a debt, that we spend the rest of our lives paying off, and at what cost. Who might we all have been if we hadn’t been forced to forgo creativity and concentrate on bill paying?

I should try and do one creative thing each day, no matter how small, as long as I have totally devoted myself to doing it, and let my creativity free. I’ll post each day, my little thing, and keep the little flame burning.