2017 Spinning The Plates

Well, I know it’s like… half way through January, but dang, how did that happen??? 2017, I mean, it’s like I looked up and the year was over, and the new one had begun. That isn’t meant to happen when you are trying to live a ‘slow’ life.

I’m about to head off camping for a week so thought I’d jot down a few musings for 2017. I’ve done the whole ‘choose a word’ thing for each new year for the past couple of years, but like past resolutions, the word was quickly forgotten. I can’t even remember my last year’s word, and given 2016 finished only two weeks ago, I’m thinking that the ‘word’ thing doesn’t work for me.

I know that that particular exercise is inspired by that lovely feeling of possibility that comes with the start of a new year, and I completely embrace those possibilities. There is something so wonderful and energising about possibilities.

But I want to start as I mean to go on.

And I want to mean it. 

I’ve found what most inspires me is hope. Which can include ambition, and professional goals. But I think there is so much more to life than this limited framework. For me, hope includes plans for travel; working towards more meaningful interactions: with my family, with my friends, with my clients and work peers, and within the community that I live in.

Those connections are so important. Call me a cynic, or perhaps a little bit jaded, but there seems to be a lot of grabbing going on, in insidious ways. People ‘reaching out’ with the sole intention of trying to sell you something, sign you up to something, to get you follow them to increase their stats or numbers…

This year, 2017, is about looking for hope, enjoying what I’ve created, hoping it continues, investing myself in projects, and people and family so all the beauty does continue.

Finding joy in the small things and continuing my slow journey is a central focus. I feel lucky to be able to say that mostly I’ve got the ‘work/life balance’ right in my life. That’s partly due to committing to a slower lifestyle; you actually need less when you live slowly and intentionally. I know. A revelation.

 I’m looking for things that are bigger than me. The world is shrinking into the tiny social media connections of Facebook and Instagram and I don’t want to shrink with it.

Last year, I was in a client meeting and a team member was introduced and one of her ‘achievements’ was growing her Instagram followers to over 50,000. This was one of the reasons for having her on board. I left that meeting feeling a little disillusioned.

I’d gone back to uni to do my Masters’ in Editing & Communications. During the time that I was studying I gave birth to two of my three children. Visited the Mother & Baby Sleep Unit with both of them, sold our house, bought another and moved across the other side of the city, and in my final semester of uni I joined the Marketing and Communications department of a top tier law firm. It was a struggle to say the least. To hear that someone was on board the project because they grew their Instagram followers to 50,000 left me wondering if I’d wasted my time, energy and money on study.

When I say that the world is shrinking into our social media connections, I fear for struggle and the pain and the energy that people put in to doing work that has depth and real meaning. When someone can appear with a large Instagram following and be hired on the strength of that… Social media is the way of the world, I get that, but I live in hope that there is movement beyond this flakey imaginary world. I know now that my MA could never be wasted, because it was so personally enriching. That’s what I’m coming back to. Enriching my life, my family’s life, my friends’ lives.

This is why I took the month of December off Facebook and I rediscovered life before social media. Time to read, watch great TV (although there was no Netflix back then!). Don’t get me wrong I’ve actually made some lovely friends online, through blogging, who I’ve never met in person but definitely have a connection with. So YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, they all have a place, but rightfully, they should only take up a small space in our lives.

On my month off I discovered an embroidery in a box that my mother-in-law gave me so many years ago, when we still lived in England – before we were married. I had done one corner and started the second, put it away and forgot it ever existed. I’ve come back to that, I’ve done a little bit more on it. I’m rusty, that’s for sure.

When I started I had my mother-in-law to defer to, but now we live on opposite sides of the planet. I had forgotten how to do a french knot. When I realised I couldn’t remember how to do this, she would have been asleep so I couldn’t even Skype to ask. Thank goodness for YouTube (see, not all bad!). I’m still rusty, but at least I know how to do it now.

These are the little things that I speak of. Having projects, making plans, investing in my lovely community and friends and family. Rumi offers advice for those who have lost hope in life:

“Look as long as you can at the friend that you love.”

Friendships can nourish us. Strong relationships can nourish us.

Retreat in equal measure is just as important, which I experienced with my Facebook break. But it is also part of a living a slow and intentional life. Retreat provides sustenance. I’m still learning how to spin all the plates and keep things ticking over, but setting out with the intention to go gently means I look forward to the new year, whatever it may hold, with a simple recipe up my sleeve.

Retreat, hope, love, kindness and repeat. Practise one at a time, or all together.

Do you have a plan for your 2017?

“Get It On”: Why Dawn O’Porter’s Podcast Is Essential Listening

This is how it came to be. A friend of mine said to me ‘you should listen to Dawn’s podcast. It’s called Get It On, it’s really good’. I nodded, agreed, yes definitely I should listen to that. Knowing that I perhaps would never be able to fight the din of Alvin and the Chipmonks, or Lego Friends. And such is the ferocity of my three year olds demands for Netflix shows that while I dreamt of listening to Dawn and Get It On, I didn’t really think I would.  [Read more…]

December 1: Quitting Facebook (for one month)

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I’ve been pondering my relationship with Facebook for a while, and I’ve written about it in the past.  I happened upon the idea of quitting Facebook for a month, a few weeks ago. In the weeks in between then and now, I’ve been oscillating between doing it and not.

The fact that I have spent so much time mulling it over in my mind says to me, that yes, I need to do this. Like any addiction, there will always be a reason to keep going. But seriously, this is Facebook, why is even the prospect of coming off it a bit scary?

It’s that thought that sold me. That thought, and this excellent article by Mark Serrels, that appeared in SMH on Monday. The timing was amazing, and if I’m getting all woo woo on you, I’d say it was a SIGN! Another sign was that it didn’t appear in my Facebook feed. I found it all by myself!!! (Reassuring me that I don’t need Facebook to find interesting, meaningful and current content to read).

The truth of it is, I constantly feel time poor. I look forward to the evening so I can watch a documentary that I’ve heard about, or read a book, or finish a sketch. Or anything really, that’s not Facebook. But every night it is the same. I think ‘I’ll just have a quick look, before I start (insert lovely activity that is not Facebook that I’ve planned for the evening). Then suddenly it’s 10pm, my eyes have glazed over and I’ve not moved off the couch.

Just like Mark Serrels describes in his piece:

REFRESH… REFRESH… REFRESH

 

 

angryThere is also the outrage. I’m so tired of the outrage on Facebook. There are somethings that deserve to media attention, all our energy and outrage. But there are many other things that when I see them I can just feel energy being dragged out of me. There are beautiful and kind people frequenting Facebook, but there are also mean, bully, passive aggressive people on there as well, who are using it to be mean, to bully and be passive aggressive.

I don’t think it’s the forum for an argument. But it has become a platform for this, which is a shame.

I admire people who can log in once or twice a week; Facebook does not seem to have that same insidious affect on their lives. It not only robs me of my evenings, it’s now also stealing my thinking time from me while I decide whether or not to take this challenge. Thinking time while I’m hanging out the washing, or chopping spuds for dinner. Important thinking time where I work out what children need to be where, what’s happening on the weekend, whether I need to buy birthday presents, cook a cake, or take a plate. The sort of thinking that has to be done when you’re running a household with five people in it. Not very exciting thinking, but necessary nonetheless.

So I decided, it would be an experiment just to see. To see how it feels in the evening to have time to do all those things that I want to, to see how connected I still feel, to actually see how important it is to me.

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I’m staying on Instagram, it just doesn’t seem to suck my time the way Facebook does. I’m going to continue to blog, so if you want to continue reading and usually click though from Facebook, click on the subscribe link and my posts will be emailed to you.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little uncomfortable about this experiment. Again, this is further evidence that it needs to happen.

From midnight tonight, until January 1, 2017 I’ll be absent from Facebook. December seems an appropriate time to do this; I want to be fully engaged and present with my family during the Christmas period and I’m sure this will help.

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Is anyone else up for the challenge? I’d love to share the journey with someone else, but I’m also happy to go it alone.

Let me know if you’re up for the challenge.

 I’d love to know how you feel about Facebook, does it take up too much room in your life?

 

“Embrace”: Why Everyone Should See This Film

This week I saw the documentary “Embrace”. It was profound and shocking, and sadly, all too familiar. The documentary looks closely at women’s relationship with their bodies and why the predominant response is self-loathing.

The vox-pops were full of clips of women of all shapes and sizes describing their bodies: revolting, disgusting, droopy, I hate my hips/thighs/boobs (insert any body part you like right here).

Not one clip showed a woman saying strong, beautiful, curvy, functional, reliable… there was nothing positive.  [Read more…]

Here’s How to Banish FoMO from Your Life

office-605503_1920There is not a soul in the world who has not experienced FoMO (fear of missing out). Even my three year old gets FoMO. FoMO is not a modern day affliction, but the level of intensity which we experience FoMO is. Because of social media, not only are we aware of what our family and friends are doing, the constant barrage of information breeds the feeling that we will miss something.

Contrived online personas make the FoMO even more acute – beautiful, cool, successful people are out there doing amazing, fun and clever things – that I’m not part of. You may not have had that exact thought, but perhaps you have experienced an incarnation of it – even if subliminally.  [Read more…]