THE BOOK LADY – Lets not go there

I am in love with the written word, in fact I have been for as long as I or my mother can remember. Both my parents were creative however their talent lay in drawing and sketching. I began school later in the year (not really sure why but beginning school was less regulated back then in our tiny little home town), and in a few short days I had caught up with a couple of months of school work. I remember as a kid that I was either writing something creative, or reading – so enthralled in what I was experiencing in these books that my poor mother would be screaming right beside me to get my attention to have me look up completely oblivious and say “oh hi mum”. In grade six I was also chosen to attend a writers camp at Tallebudgerra Camp School, it was a dream…an entire week of writing workshops and authors like Gary Crew!

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To be totally honest not much has changed in these areas, despite being distracted with being a mum and nurse, my passion for the written word is still so strong but I needed a little reminder of it to draw me back in. I started this blog a few years ago to meet the need I had to both write, and to share my story with whoever would listen (or read so to speak). This past week I have written more than I have in months which feels like bliss for me. In this time of rest and recovery I am having from the incredible exhaustion I was feeling, I have learnt how cathartic it can be to take back some time for be to simply be still with my thoughts. I spent a period of time the other day lane, quiet, and undistracted, to find my most clarified ideas come to the forefront of my mind. Within a small space of time I had developed and documented 5 children’s books about the health journey, and came up with the title of the nursing book I am writing. I do however think my minimalistic approach to my books need some tweaking.

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I really love hard copy books. There I said it! I’m not sorry for neglecting to join the kobo and ebook craze, I’ve tried from right here on my iPad but the most I can manage is emails and blogs. There is just something magic about holding a real book in your hands with the promise of feeling, experiencing or learning held tightly within the pages. There is a scent in books that evoke an emotional response that only avid book lovers relate to. It’s this love that has seen me hold onto far too many books. I confronted this fact whilst reading ‘Everything That Remains’.

“Didn’t you used to have a ton of books too?”
“Yes. A hoard of books. Like two thousand. Maybe more.”

I could see that over time my books had been getting their groove on and had been reproducing like bunny rabbits at spring time. I had fast forward thoughts of me becoming ‘the book lady’ as opposed to ‘the cat lady’, and really I don’t need all the books I have currently. Some are doubles, some are good but not life changing, and some well I just don’t know. So I’m getting ruthless. I’m committing to keeping only those books that put value into my life on a reasonably regular basis, and unless the book is super important I’m going to begin making regular use of the public libraries.

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THE BLUR – Finding yourself. Again.

I think we all at one time in our lives, sometimes more than one, go through the process of trying to ‘find ourselves’. Heck there are even so many movies dedicated to the topic they should have their own genre! Who can forget such titles as ‘How Stella Fot Her Groove Back’ and ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, not to mention the upcoming movie ‘Finding Dory’. I’m currently in this process. Again.

I began a few weeks of emergency holiday leave on Thursday after reaching a point in my life where I felt used, abused, and and unimportant. In my professional life as a nurse I give 110 percent to what I do and after a while you begin to notice that you are being stretched to a point that leaves you unable to inject your known level of passion into your role. Sure you can do the tasks, but since when is it fulfilling to just exsist doing the actions with less of the soul. So after a very emotional and hard working few weeks I was spent, it was some time coming with no repose, and I have taken these few weeks for my own personal wellbeing. My daily job now is to find myself, and to take back my passion for nursing…I want to lead a life of passion and purpose – I think deep down we all do.

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I want to highlight at this point tht over the next few weeks I will refer to a quote from the book ‘Everything That Remains’ by The Minimalists. Firstly, it’s a great book that is helping me to sort through the real and perceived clutter in my life, but secondly – well just because its my blog and I can.

‘…attempting to find something meaningful in the blur’

‘The Blur’. A very apt description of us trying to find meaning or find ourselves for that matter, amongst the blur of our cluttered and busy lifestyles. A blur. Like what you see out the window of a fast moving train as you whoosh though what you can only imagine is breathtaking scenery, only you are unable to really fully focus on any one point through the blur. It’s also not unlike seeing endless things in your periphery as a blur, but as in life you are so focused on the end game and miss the entire journey along the way.

The take away however is that meaning can be found in everything, you might just want to slow down long enough for the blur to regain focus and clarity.

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CONTAGION – Thoughts are infectious

A very interesting observation made by The Minimalists in their book ‘Everything That Remains’, and one that we tend to overlook.

“Someone yawns behind me, which triggers several more yawns among the crowd. Boredom is contagious.”

CONTAGION.

The global fear at this current blip in an ever expansive history is Ebola, and how nasty it is. Yes, keep on picturing those yellow or white hazmat ensemble complete with full head mask. Yet Ebola is not as contagious as many people are fearful of it being – your not going to catch it having a one off five minute conversation with someone in an airport for instance, as a nurse who has worked in infectious diseases I know that my safety rests on me taking the necessary precautions – but that’s for another time.

Meanwhile however in this western society, the infectious thing you should be most concerned with cannot be spread through droplets or drool, neither can it be spread from spew or poo. Instead it is spread through society like wild fire, from repeated exposure to people whose apathy about life – their life – has become somewhat a hobby for them. Except like an annoyingly executed marketing strategy, they keep repeating ‘but wait there’s more!’, until you too are lured into feeling the same way about your own life.

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There is a simplistic truth to that saying ‘you are who you associate with’ and ‘you are the 5 people you spend the most time with’. It’s a little like walking up a mountain. You begin by carrying your own rock (your emotional ‘stuff’), but along the way people notice that you have a backpack and they put their ‘stuff’ in your back pack. Before you know it, they are on their merry way to the top whilst you are huffing and puffing, struggling under the weight of everyone else’s ‘stuff’. Not only that but you now don’t know which is your ‘stuff’ and which is not. Personally for me I have experienced this in my own life, when I spend too much time with people that struggle to get out of their own way, or I constantly see them posting ‘poor me’ statuses of the same content over and over again with no action to remedy. After a while I notice my own thought patterns begin to spiral downwards.

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That’s not to say that I’m not responsible for how I feel and how I think. In fact over the past 12-18 months I have become more acutely aware of my emotions and thoughts and what impacts on them – hence giving me a greater control of the direction I steer them in. I think it has probably been the greatest influencer on the relationships I spend time in and ones I allow to drift away…some I will remain connected to in a proximal kind of way, but they no longer add value to either persons life. My take away message really has been that be aware of the contagions you expose yourself to and how many rocks you allow in your backpack – sometimes you might want to shrink wrap it!

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COSTUMES – Mindset or matter

“Our identities are shaped by the costumes we wear”

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BOOM! First sentence of the chapter in The Minimalists book ‘Everything That Remains’ and they have already captured the trappings of the modern western culture of BE. DO. HAVE.

Life edited and The Nonconforming Professional both explain the downfalls of this mindset very well.

I don’t know about your experiences in life, but I personally have spent an obscene amount of my emotional currency worrying about my ‘costume’. I worried about my fashion, although as a woman with a super long torso, ample hips and flipper sized feet I don’t really think I ever managed to master that one. I worried about what car I drove, although I’m still not an owner of that Ford Capri I used to drool over – be warned if anyone tells my husband I used to want a Ford I will deny, deny, deny! I worried about my status and title in career, although despite that I got a degree and rock at what I do, I still struggle with feeling ‘enough’. Essentially, my final concern has historically been with what others perceptions of what should only have mattered to me.

Each time we set the standard of what we will be, what we will do, and what we will have to be truly content and happy, the bar is raised by our own subconscious Oliver that just wants more please sir. We end up spending our entire lives reaching and striving for that ‘my life is complete’ point that keeps shifting higher and higher, until before we know it we are balancing precariously on a dozen or so stacked chairs trying to grab for that bar.

I think that the treasure I took from reflecting on the quote, is that we need to apply the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ and ‘its whats on the inside that counts’, to all aspects of our lives. Identify what costumes we are wearing in life that might not really be true to what is on our inside. I’m going to continue working on my inner self (deep and meaningful huh), and I am going to try to let go of the statuses that shackles me to the ever escalating bar.

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WELL PLANNED HOARDING – The illusion of the organised

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It’s been a while. What do I say. I’ve been busy? I have a life? Being a mum is a full time job? My schedule is cluttered? Cluttered. Yes cluttered.

It seems to be that everything in our lives today is cluttered. Our minds, our health, our homes, our diets, our schedules, our work spaces, our computers, our email, our cars, our to do list, including the list of everything needing to be decluttered in our lives. The funny thing is that when we “organise” our lives and our stuff we magically think we are somehow reducing that clutter. Sorry to burst your rainbow filled illusions folks but I’ve discovered a truth about this recently, and it can be best summed up by The Minimalists quote from their ‘Everything That Remains Book’

“Truthfully though, most organizing is nothing more than well planned hoarding”

Lets face it. As human havings we are consumed by our consumables. We work our whole lives to have stuff, then we pass that stuff down to our children so they too can hold false hope that this stuff can help define themselves as human havings too. We can see this each Christmas and Birthday and any other time where stuff is given. How many of us have received such stuff that although you are grateful you simultaneously wonder where on earth you are going to put it, or how you will use it when really the thought would have counted more.

It’s a timely thought particularly in Australia with Spring well and truly sprung, and Christmas just around the corner. For us we organise our clutter, get rid of a handful of stuff, and replace it with a truckload of new stuff. It makes me wonder why as human havings we are so connected to our stuff in a way that seems slightly cuckoo. If the thought counts and people over possessions rule the day, then why oh why are our collections of material items getting bigger, and our quality time with what really matters getting smaller.

Recently I participated in The Minimalists Game whereby each day for 30 days you get rid of items you no longer need. On day one you get rid of one item, day two you get rid of two items, and so forth. Add on a few more items along the way and by the end of 30 days you had reduced your clutter by a whopping 500 items! You must be thinking we are sleeping on the floor and eating out of cans – dont fret – it really is much simpler than you think. Try it and I promise you will surprise yourself. After this challenge I had the enormous pleasure of meeting these lads (Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus – lucky I’m married because not only were they quite striking, they are minimalists!!!).

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I asked the lads one question in my short moment with them that really was important (seeing as I’m a nurse nut).

Me: “What’s the biggest impact minimalism has had on your health?”

Josh: “It allowed me to simplify my habits.”
Ryan: “It allowed me to simplify my diet.”

…less stuff gave them more time to exercise

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Lately I have felt so overwhelmed with “stuff” in both my personal and professional life that I have taken leave, taken time, taken pause. My overwhelm was at a crossroads where I either needed to take this time, or embrace insanity on a new level. Stumbling over The Minimalists couldn’t have been more a synchronicity if you had planned it all along. My home, my life, my career – all currently upside down on a roller coaster ride. It’s okay though. I have realised when chaos abounds, it’s part of the process of remoulding, regenerating, and reforming of our lives.

I’m ready for everything that remains – yes it’s the title of their book, but when you clear the unimportant matter from your life isn’t what remains the most important?

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