In a recent blog post, Controlling Distractions, we explored our relationships with phones and how we can use them in a more meaningful way. Phones are often used to pass time and perhaps lead us to ignoring the world around us. Hannah recently shared a Mary Oliver quote on a post it note and stuck it to reception where it still lives now. The quote is as follows:
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
Mary Oliver’s work can teach us how to find comfort in the quiet occurrences of the everyday. In a world where we are surrounded by white noise it’s all too easy to stop paying attention. Days blur by as we fall into the rhythms of life. As a result of this, we forget how to appreciate the small delicate intricacies of living. I can’t help but feel that we have lost our awe in the everyday. It often feels as though that in a busy world, we try to keep busy and amongst the hustle and that we are tricked into thinking this is how to feel accomplished or satisfied.
Our obsessions with doing and comparing our productivity and accomplishments to others bares us with a neverending weight of dissatisfaction, eventually we burn ourselves out. We forget to notice the pleasure in the everyday. The pursuit of productivity leaves us feeling unfulfilled, like we’ve never quite done enough with our days, but what’s wrong with enjoying a day for exactly what it is? Start to allow your days to unfold as they are and try to stop with our tendency to constantly optimise our time. Allow our free time to be exactly that, free time and time to rest. I think that collecting moments it’s a nice way to nurture this growth.
“Our days don’t need to be optimised, but simply occupied-that is, lived in, tended to, renewed.”- Madeleine Dore, I Didn’t do the thing today.
On our podcast, Working For Progress, we ask our guests for five simple pleasures. We have noticed over time that these simple pleasures are simply that, a collection of small moments. A morning coffee, the falling of cherry blossoms, a bike ride to work. They are never overly complex, nor do they tell an astonishing story. Most of these pleasures may not have been shared with others or spoken aloud. But what they do reflect is the fundamental beauty in the everyday. Free passings of time that we should consciously indulge in more often.
Let’s practice collecting moments that bring a feeling of joy and focus on them. It’s one thing to keep a log of these small moments privately on your phone but to tell others about it spreads the joy, broadens your attention and ultimately makes us more connected to the world around us. When we look without noticing, we lose our sense of belonging.
It’s time to start to enjoy those moments of nothing… Spend your time noticing the free sounds, sights, tastes of life. I shared this thought with Hannah and Dani, I asked them to collect moments in their days so that we could reflect on them. We invite you to do the same.
“A mind narrows when it has too much to bear. Art is not born of unwanted constriction. Art wants formless and spacious quiet, anti-social daydreaming, time away from the consumptive volume of everyday life.”-Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation
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Creativity is unique to each individual, it encapsulates many different forms, processes and connections. Creativity and play can generate an important challenge; embracing fear and your inner critic. We lose interest in hobbies as we grow older, arguably this is as they need to hold a greater meaning than ‘just for fun’. Spending our precious time on something, anything, must produce a worthy outcome and once play is lost from our lives, it is difficult to regain.
A quick google search of the word ‘play’ will primarily show images of children playing, but it is just as important for adults to play too! The further removed we become from the idea of play, the more troubling the idea becomes. A purposeless activity becomes a concept that is impossible to grasp and often causes feelings of awkwardness. The average person has up to 60,000 thoughts a day and creative play has been shown to help focus the mind. Creative play and finding your flow can reduce anxiety, depression and stress. So why is it so alien to us?
Flow is a state of mind achieved when you are fully engrossed in an activity. When you lose all sense of self and time, that’s flow. It’s been found that repetitive creative tasks can help you find your flow, tasks such as writing, knitting and drawing are great examples of this. Once you have achieved a state of flow, your brain becomes flooded with dopamine, the feel good chemical that helps to motivate you and ultimately will encourage you to repeat your chosen form of play.
“…It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness
Having fun with creative play is often seen as a nice idea, but we are at a loss as to where to start. For most people, it’s been so long since they last played, they have forgotten altogether how to do it. Whilst it is a nice idea, we are no longer sure what it means to play. In the words of Maya Angelou, creativity is a bottomless pit: ‘The more you use it, the more you have’. Creative play becomes even more important as we age and as our lives get busier. When embracing play, it is important to remember that the act of play must be deemed as being more important than any form of outcome. Most of all, creative play should bring you joy, you should engage in play to immerse yourself in a moment to moment experience.
“Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organized around doing the things necessary for survival.Play is the vital essence of life. It is what makes life lively.”
― Stuart Brown, Play
Often, we recognise that people benefit from free spirited play such as dancing, scribbling or writing but cannot see the point in engaging in it ourselves. Art in any form wears a veil of elitist mysticism. If you view yourself as an ‘outsider’ to the culture, it becomes even more difficult to engage with it. Instinctively, we lean into these feelings of imposter syndrome by becoming more concerned with the physical outcome than the positive internal feelings the act brings us. Creative play is not about making great art, or a great piece of writing, it’s about finding your flow and happiness.
I think sometimes we need to grow down, free ourselves from the constraints of what it means to be an adult. Let yourself indulge in silly fun and stop thinking about what is and isn’t possible. Be in the moment, open your mind, find your flow and remember, the act is more important than the outcome.
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Have you heard of the 100daysproject? There are 2 simple rules;
#1 Repeat a simple creative task everyday for the duration,
#2 Record each day’s efforts.
This is my fourth year doing the hundred days project and each one has taught me so much. I first heard about the 100 days after reading The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna. From a young age, I have always loved doing art and have managed to keep it sacred—something I do for myself. It is for pure pleasure and processing thoughts and feelings.
One day my daughter had a new pal around and she was proudly showing her all of my artwork and her friend thought they were amazing and asked if I was an artist. My daughter looked at me and I didn’t know how to respond. I mulled this over and realised I would like to explore this further and would commit to the 100daysproject to see how I felt after 100 days of creativity about calling myself an artist.
So I began, one pen drawing a day. No pencils, as I wanted to learn that mistakes didn’t matter. It was great, each week brought more confidence and doing it with others really helped me be accountable. It wasn’t linear—there were moments when my confidence dipped and I would want to make excuses to stop. I had to wiggle my way through finding my own practice, not care what other’s thought but also be fuelled by the community and public sharing. Within the small group of 100daysproject through Tribe Porty, we encouraged each other and on the days I didn’t feel like making the effort, I showed up for them. It quickly became something I looked forward doing at the end of the night.
The practice became a meditative ritual and also led me to find the local community in 100 Days Project Scotland.
Now reaching the end of this year, it has been once again, transformational.
By the end of the 100 days, I called myself an artist. I maintained that art was for myself and no anyone else but the encouragement was also welcomed. it felt good and I was hooked.
This time I tightened my brief a bit. Again using pen but stuck to portraits and played more with lines. I really enjoyed the therapeutic benefits of drawing so many lines. By the end of the second 100 days, I was confident enough to do even paint a large mural. Here are some drawings and a picture of part of the mural. One drawing also ended up as a tattoo on my arm.
This year was different because I started experimenting with drawing on the ipad, something I never thought I would like but I do and in love with quite quickly.
I set myself a goal to get some printed and even went on to create Capturing Dani a website and shop with prints and postcards. I received commissions and now draw illustrations more than on paper.
This year I decided to combine the creative process with gratitude and would draw a part of my body and give thanks. After almost two years of chronic pain, multiple exploratory procedures and fatigue. Every day has been a surprise- nothing has been planned and I have changed the way I see myself.
Just over halfway through, something changed how I looked at myself. I found a new level of acceptance of the good and of the imperfections. I looked at myself the way I would look at a body in a live drawing class. Admiring the curves and not viewing with critical eyes.
Offer the aspiring juggler in your life all the kit and skills they need to learn to juggle a three ball cascade, as part of an exclusive Learn to Juggle intensive learning experience this January. Our gift set is perfect for any would-be-juggler (we recommended it for ages 8 and upwards). There are Juggling Gift for One and
Juggling Gift for Two.
Each one of our tools plays a part in supporting the local community – from our Tools for Life program which mentors and trains disadvantaged youth, to our most borrowed tools which not only help houses become homes, but help the planet with their carbon footprint too.
Whether it’s your way of giving back, a gift for a tool-loving companion, choose the tool you want to adopt, pick a donation plan that suits you and together, let’s build a shared future. Adopt here.
You can also, Gift the experience of working with your hands and making something new out of everyday materials. This pre-recorded workshop is £5 and will be available from Nov. 28th – Jan 31st.
Last but not least, memberships to the Tool Library make excellent gifts!
Would you like to help someone clear away the energies of 2020? Check out root at the link below and get in touch with Molly Shanahan if you would like to gift a shamanic healing or energy healing session to a friend or family member. It is a great way to release this year and step anew into 2021!
Limited Edition Prints from Kirkcudbright, Portobello and Falkland books are available via Peter’s etsy shop along with the books themselves. peterjoneshouses on Etsy
House Portrait and Book Portrait gift vouchers are also possible, please contact Peter directly with your enquiry here.
IL Design Studio has designed a series of cards to highlight the subject of men’s mental health and the view that men have greater difficulty talking about their feelings and struggles than women do. The aim is to encourage men to talk, express their true feelings, be there for each other and never feel afraid to speak up or ask for help.
All orders over £10.00 receive a 10% discount. Code: THANKS10
On the back of my last #100dayproject drawings, I have created lots of illustrated prints. There are 30×30 prints and three sets of 8 different postcards available. To order, go to Capturingdani.com and use TRIBE for a 20% discount on all purchases.
See more here.
Find out more here.
Jenny Pope, artist and coach, is offering a one off Coaching sessions for £60 – making it an ideal gift to someone who wants to start 2021 with a plan, to review what 2020 has meant and what to take forward into the new year.
Jenny is also offering Collage Kits for £10 each plus p&p, a hand curated collection of beautiful papers to create your own special artworks.
For more info and to purchase go here.
Supportive photography workshops led by professional photographer, community collaborator and experienced educator Alicia Bruce. Full-day courses also have complimentary hot drinks from Little Green Van and Civerinos pizza delivered for lunch. There’s also new 90min morning and evening photo walks.
Photographer, Jo Tennant’s, fine art seascapes can be bought here – shot from the sea in Porty and off the west coast of Scotland- they make a beautiful present for the sea swimmers, sea lovers and selkies in your life.