Back from Blog Holidays & The 100 Day Project

It’s been a while, but I’ve been having a little blogging holiday. Sometimes I just lose my mojo and get a bit distracted so I don’t blog. I take a step back. Sometimes I fret about it, and worry that I should be blogging. But when I think about it, holidays are good and they help you feel refreshed and recharged. So it’s been a blogging holiday.

So I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been busy with this business we call living. School holidays, Easter, work, life.

If you follow The Morning Drum on Instagram you’ll know that the other thing keeping me busy is The 100 Day Project. I am loving this project. For so long I’ve been wanting to make space for more art and creativity. All the best laid plans would always fizzle, I’d get busy with kids or work and I’d be left thinking ‘maybe tomorrow then…?’

But very rarely did tomorrow bring that mystical pocket of time that I needed to sit and do some sketching or painting.

I’ve written about how I needed to make the time to write daily, so I got up earlier. That has worked like a dream and I am consistently writing on weekday mornings now. As I sighed and contemplated the art practice that never happened, I realised that if I really did want to do this (rather than just ruminate on how I wish I could do it) I needed to make a change, somehow.

With my pre-dawn rising already committed to writing, I had been thinking about how I could work things, and still manage to do my paid work, and all the running around that comes with three kids.

Then one morning I was reading about The 100 Day Project.

And there was my answer. I just needed to commit to something. So I rather spontaneously decided that I would do it. After a few hours I felt a little bit sick thinking about 100 days, (it seems like such a long time!) and the project finishes on July 12th. We leave for Vietnam on July 1st – my first road block.

But I forged ahead and decided I would just work it out.

The 100 Day Project is about making art, or creating something every day. You choose a theme and create daily based on that theme. Mine is 100 Days of Seasons, here’s my hashtag if you want to take a look on Instagram: #100daysofseasons.

The 100 Day Project promises to help cultivate a daily creative practice, gives you access to a supportive community and an opportunity to look outwards and see what other people all over the world are creating.

Day 2/100 Tomatoes for Summer

Some of my offerings scream “amateur”; but some I am very proud of. The 100 Day Project has made me a little braver. Braver about putting myself ‘out there’, and braver with the type of things I am creating. I am trying different styles and different mediums. Ultimately something like this fosters growth. It’s Day 22 today so it’s early days, and who knows what is around the corner. But while I can manage to do a piece of daily art, I’ll continue with it because the benefits have been so wonderful.

I’m virtually off social media – I post my art on Instagram (as part of the project) and while I’m there I stop to look at other people’s projects. But when it comes to Facebook, I briefly pop in and then pop out again, which I am SO damned happy about. Late last year I took a month off Facebook, but it snuck back in. I feel like I’ve broken the habit and because there is no embargo on my use of it I can dip in when I like, but I’m finding I just have better things to do.

Day 11/100 Bunnies for the Easter season

I am constantly working towards living a slower life. It is a work in progress, of course, because the actual world we inhabit is not that slow. Not slow at all, in fact. So in a way it is like running against the tide. But doing something like The 100 Day Project is a perfect accompaniment to living at a slower pace. In the evenings I’ve been leaving my lap top at my desk and sitting with my sketch book. It’s mindful, it’s considered and it is so satisfying.

In the morning the kids are eager to see what I’ve created the night before. Happily, my work is a source of inspiration for them. So once they are dressed and fed, they’ve been reaching for their own sketch books. I tell you, the volume of art work coming out of the Beck house at the moment is extraordinary – anyone would think we had a contract with Lombards!

For my youngest, in just three weeks, she has gone from writing her name in a way that (sort of) resembled letters, to writing her name clearly and neatly on each drawing. Every day her pictures improve and she adds more and more new detail. There is less nagging for the iPad and the three of them interact and compliment each other on their work.

The thought of participating in something like The 100 Day Project in the past has been too much to get my head around. But the benefits are more than I could have imagined – and we are only three weeks in. While taking on something extra like this may seem tin conflict with my ultimate goal of slow living it has actually made me feel less stretched and hassled by the day to day machinations of life.

Day 20/100 Poppies for Anzac Day

What helps you slow down? Do you have a daily practice of any thing?

It’s March Already: Taking Stock.

We are in March already. Sometimes I want to just press pause for a moment, but no matter how    hard we try the cyclone of life collects us up in its frenzied twister and dumps us into the new month. The arrival of March signals a change in seasons, cooler autumnal weather, which ultimately signals winter. While we can’t complain too much in this southern tip of Australia with warm sunny days every day this week and the same for next week, the mornings are decidedly cooler.

My daughter observed on a day last week when the temperature tipped 36 º, that in Summer she longs for the Winter, and in Winter she misses the warmth of the Summer. I completely understand this, and often find the same. Although the benefit of adulthood is that I can remind myself not to wish life away. The cooler weather will come, all longing aside. It will come anyway. And then we will curse how cold it has got, and will the Winter days to pass so we can glimpse the Spring.

As most of you who read regularly will know, I took all of December off Facebook. It was quite a    revelation. If you’ve ever given up sugar or caffeine, I liken the experience to this. Withdrawal headaches in the first week, shadowy voices calling you back with temptation. December was a hard month to step away, with parties and lots of goodwill – and perhaps a toned down version of the internet outrage. There were a few times in that first week where I did feel that I was missing out.

Then I started being mindful and taking stock of what I was doing in the time where I would otherwise be staring into that lonely blue computer screen. I found time for art, reading – both books and magazines. I found an embroidery, buried in a box, that I started more than 20 years ago. It was a gift from my Mother-in-law when we still lived in the UK. I haven’t done a lot of work on it, but it has been lovely to be able to pick up, do a little then put it down again.

First corner completed (most of it was done 20 years ago!)

 

Making progress on the second corner!

It is only when we stop and take stock that the important things come back into focus. My  daughter is giving up the iPad for Lent, so I decided to pick up her lead and give up evenings on Facebook. I find the evening is when it becomes so insidious – it’s my down time from the busyness of the day, the kids are in bed. Facebook is easy, it’s so mindless that before I know it an hour has passed and I’m fast losing my evening to something I don’t much care for. The happy result thus far, is that I’ll have a quick look during the day but my separation from has highlighted just how inane it can be.

While I have made some lovely connections on there, and been able to keep in touch with friends and family who are not in my immediate orbit, there is a lot to wade through for these benefits. But enough Facebook bashing, this post is about taking stock.

So this is where I am at on this day in early March.

Making : time for the things that I love doing (well, trying to anyway)

Cooking : Jamie’s Fiery Dan Dan Noodles from the Jamie’s America cook book. It’s a good way to use bok choi, which I’m really not keen on, but it comes in my organic box and I hate the waste!

Drinking : right now it’s tea, but over the weekend it was home brewed beer, and some bubbles.

Reading: I just finished The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith, and tonight I start The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman.

Wanting: a little something to nibble with my cuppa

Looking: at a gorgeous rose I just picked from my garden. (See above right). The bush is old and gnarly, and the roses are covered in thick thorns but it never fails to produce velvety bright orange roses. This one is still in bud. I love the anticipation of what it will become, and the smell is just heavenly.

Playing: with my four-year old daughter (well, in a minute. We are going to the park just as soon as I finish my cuppa.)

Deciding: How to spend the long weekend in Melbourne. We are contemplating a camping trip but I am also keen on a slow weekend pottering around the house, mornings in pjs and pots of tea in bed.

Wishing: that this weather would last forever. It is my perfect climate, sunny and warm, but cooler at night so sleeping is easy.

Enjoying: being back into reading, and making time in the evening for reading.

Waiting: for my second round of home grown strawberries to ripen

Liking: growing my own strawberries. There has not been an abundance, perhaps one or two a day, but we split them five ways and all enjoy a slither. I feel like Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Oh, the sweetness…

Wondering: what 2017 has in store

Loving: getting to know our new chooks – we have four of them. And they are funny little things.

Pondering: how I can get more organised, why siblings fight so much and how I can tune out from that.

Considering: going for an after dinner walk. The sun is shining till late in the evening at the moment and it’s an opportunity to claim half an hour for myself.

Buying: not too much but considering a new couch. Our current couch is 15 years old and was bought pre-kids, but now that there are five of us, we don’t all fit on it.

Watching: The Crown – just so good.

Hoping: to spend more time in our art room – maybe over the long weekend.

Marvelling: at how my eight year old son can continue to talk non-stop without drawing breath.

Cringing: at my Kath & Kim dancing on Saturday night. Fun at the time though…

Needing: a nana nap. And a slower pace of life.

Questioning: our way of life, we seem to chase our tails working, earning, spending…

Smelling: my gorgeous home-grown rose.

Wearing: shorts and a t-shirt, it’s 28C and sunny.

Following: lots of England-based people on Instagram, which is making me pine for the mother-land…

Noticing: how tired I feel right now.

Knowing: that we are all doing the best we can.

Thinking: that kindness costs nothing and it can make the world of difference.

Admiring: lots of artists on Instagram

Sorting: dinner out – the kids are excited about the fiery Dan Dan noodles

Getting: excited about planning our trip to Vietnam in July (recommendations please!).

Bookmarking: not much actually, it’s amazing how much less online reading I do since disengaging from Facebook.

Coveting: not much, but maybe that new couch

Disliking: all the running around and chasing of our tails

Opening: a new book tonight – excited!

Giggling: at my funny little chooks.

Feeling: thankful for the day I’ve had.

Snacking: hmmm, perhaps some cheese and crackers, or some nuts. I didn’t realise I was so hungry!

Helping: my son with his home work – this is his first year of homework and it’s been a bit overwhelming.

Hearing: my kids chatter (and not fight!)

What’s been happening for you? 

December 1: Quitting Facebook (for one month)

unknown

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.

images

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.

advent-1067183_1920

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?

 

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…]

Four things to consider when engaged in introspection

As I’ve reached middle age, my life is lived through an altered lens. I think anyone who has lost someone will have some recognition of this. I seek to live a better life. Not in the sense that I’m chasing the unattainable, but in the sense that I try to recognise those things that aren’t making me happy, or enriching life’s over all experience.

One of the most common things I’ve noticed, due to my altered perspective, is how many people watch life, rather than live it, and indeed I was one of these people (sometimes I still am).

It’s useful to check in with yourself every now and then, to make sure you’re actually living life, not just witnessing it from the sidelines.

Here are some thoughts to help you consider if you’re satisfied with how you’re you living your life:

Social Media – I’ve written about social media before, you can the article here. This one is a double-edged sword. It can provide amazing communal support, a means for meeting like-minded people, provide opportunities for learning and research. It can connect people who feel unconnected, which is a great thing.

But it is also a connection with great limitations. What us humans actually seek are real and meaningful connections – not virtual connections.

It is a constant flow of information that can be like a vortex that you can’t escape from. And sadly, sometime’s people aren’t honest.

If you can’t wait to get online and see what all your ‘friends’ are up to, you probably need to recalibrate. Work out how much time you spend looking at other people’s photos and commit to actually seeing these friends in real life for that same amount of time. It’s a sure fire way to guarantee you’re actually living life, not watching it. 

Television – Is your TV on for most of the day? Do you plan your life around the box set release of the latest drama series? Are you addicted to a television program and forget that the characters are just that? (Errrrm, Patrick from Offspring anyone?)

Ask yourself why you have so much invested in these ‘people’? I’ll admit, I felt real remorse when Patrick died, but it was also my aha moment. When ‘Patrick’ died, Offspring and I broke up. It was liberating. Try it.

Video games – so when the Wii first came out, everyone was enthralled. It’s amazing, you can play tennis, do yoga, go bowling, play soccer…the list is endless. And all in the privacy of your own lounge room.

The one flaw with this is, well, it’s all in the privacy of your own lounge room. If you want to play tennis, call a friend, go with your partner or your child. Same goes for yoga, go to a class, you might meet a real person, who you actually like! You get my drift.

As for Candy Crush. Just go to bed, get some sleep and stop sending me invitations to play it with you. If you really want to connect with me, let’s have a coffee.

Magazines – ok, I confess, I am a total mag junkie, but I also have the legitimate excuse that it’s part of my work. But nonetheless, I have wasted (and will probably continue to waste) hours of time reading magazines. I especially like the aspirational home and lifestyle magazines, so yes, this advice is directed 100% to myself.

There are so many more interesting things to spend my time on, than looking at photos of other peoples homes. And I am well aware, when these photos are taken there is an army of stylists on standby to pick up after the children, sweep up after the dog, touch up the lady of the house’s make up. It’s not real, but it is addictive.

The biggest issue with all this voyeurism is that it generates comparison. Even though in our conscious minds we know the characters aren’t real, nor the scenes that have been created, or the impression someone is trying to make on Facebook with their montage of photos.

None of it is real. But it does generate real thoughts. Theodore Roosevelt once said that ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ We make assumptions about others’ greatness and compare it to the worst parts of ourselves.

Try not to. Life is passing you by when you do this.

Forget about looking outwards. Look inwards, you’re much more interesting.