Tag Archives: Creativity

2015- Bring it On!

 

Keeping Away from the Comfort Zone

image via shutterstock.com

image via shutterstock.com

So, first post of the new year is here. But you’re okay, this will be a resolution free zone.

I’ve done the usual looking back, looking forward thing that January’s two-faced namesake, Janus, seems to impose on us. It’s as good a time as any to stop and reflect on the good and the bad in our lives, to be grateful for all the positives and to accept, or at least come to terms with, the negatives.

However, keeping reflection and resolve to a once a year activity, dictated by a number on a calendar doesn’t really work for me. And setting big annual goals for radical changes to your life just seems to be setting yourself up to fail.

That being said, I do believe in making small beneficial changes, and I do believe in setting myself challenges. I do take time to reflect on my life and to plan, just not on a January-only basis.

Small changes have more chance of becoming new habits and can on a cumulative basis become big changes. For example, let’s say you want to get fit, but are starting from a level of (in)activity that a sloth can only aspire to. Deciding to take a brisk walk for half an hour  once or twice a week is more likely to be doable, and to lead to more frequent and intense exercising as you become fitter, than deciding to take up running several miles a day from a sitting start from the first of January.

The challenge in the above example should be to improve fitness levels from where they are now and the changes are small, possible and cumulative.  Nothing hinges on one big event such as running your first marathon and there’s room for degrees of success. It’s not the all-or-nothing that New Year’s resolutions tend to be.

Of course there are always the challenges we don’t choose, ones thrust upon us, ones which floor us. But even in these circumstances it tends to be the small resilience-building steps that get us through and out the other side. More than ever it’s important in dark times not to impose a rigid timetable for recovery or improvement but to value the smallest of steps and the shortest of respites.

image via shutterstock.com

image via shutterstock.com

My one over-riding, self-imposed challenge is the one I set up many years ago following kicking cancer’s ass, and one which I hope will persist for many more, and that is to opt wherever possible to take the road less travelled.

In a literal sense this has seen me travel all over the world, several times on my own, and not always to places on the tourist route. And in more figurative sense, it has seen me give up a secure, promoted-post job and family home to move to a completely different environment i.e. to no job and from city-living to relatively isolated island dweller. It all worked out, me and the husband both got jobs and flourished. And I began to write. Ten years on, no regrets and once again contemplating a move and beginning another new phase.

Taking the road less-travelled in 2014  has seen me once more resign from a teaching post. This time to take early retirement from my thirty-six year career in order to be a full-time writer. I have a children’s book to publish, I have a new adult novel to start and I want to continue to build the blog.

My long term health challenges continue to be to improve/maintain my physical and mental health. I will continue to fight the anxiety demon and to manage the chronic fatigue. To do this, I’ll keep going with the yoga, something I began last year and absolutely love, and with trying to live more mindfully. I will cultivate the art of appreciation, continue to visit art exhibitions, go to plays and concerts, enjoy music and working in my lovely garden. I’ll keep up with the regular walks, and  I’ll go to talks on all sorts. I’ll enjoy the company of family and friends and play with my grandchildren. And I’ll read, read, read.

And as well as all that, in 2015, I have a working holiday, a writers conference (details of both  in later posts),  and our son’s wedding to look forward to.

image via shutterstock

image via shutterstock

But, if forced to make a resolution for 2015 and beyond, it would be to keep heading for the crossroads, to keep choosing the less-walked-on path and to perch only momentarily in the comfort zone. It’s the way to keep growing, creating and LIVING!

And you can hold me to account on that as I’ll be posting on most of the above throughout 2015.

In like a lion…

Sea Spray

Sea Spray (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

The first Tuesday of the month and, as the saying goes, March has come in like a lion here in the Inner Hebrides. Since the weekend we have had snow, a bracing wind and yes, rain. However, we’ve also had some spells of bright sunshine accompanied by the freshest, coldest, most revitalising air and it’s been good to get out and soak up some ‘vitamin D-making’ energy.

Portree

Portree (Photo credit: bluestardrop - Andrea Mucelli)

Mr Writeanne and I walked out with our lovely granddaughter in her pram at the weekend during one of these bracing spells of bright respite. The Mr wondered if anyone would mistake us for a couple who’d had a late baby. But I had to break it to the poor delusional chap that I reckoned it would be quite obvious that here were a pair of proud new grandparents.

English: Portree Camanachd Ground and Clubhous...

Image via Wikipedia

The shinty season starts in March and last Saturday saw the first matches played. The game of shinty is as, if not more, popular than football in highland Scotland. So, all other sports will all but disappear off the back pages of the local newspaper for the next few months, as the pundits turn their attention to the Camanachd Cup. Above is a photo of the Portree pitches and clubhouse.

Shinty game in progress

Image via Wikipedia

The tourist season will also be starting up again at the end of the month and hotels, B&Bs and self catering places are all starting to prepare. The island has done well during the last two seasons with Brits deciding to holiday at home. And international travellers continue to arrive in very healthy numbers. The deep harbour means that cruise liners can anchor in the bay and disgorge hundreds of passengers into our wee village who can then explore all the beauties of our wild and spectacular landscape and discover the island’s fascinating and ancient history. Although it can be a pain trying to drive to work behind tourists who don’t understand the etiquette and codes of motoring on single track roads with passing places and who refuse to pull over, it is good to see our businesses thriving for the relatively short season.

Deutsch: Single track road auf Isle of Skye

Image via Wikipedia

Our new home is taking shape – some of the new curtains are up, as are some of the pictures – so it all helps the homely feel. Gradually we’re finding a place for everything and offloading what’s not required. And with order beginning to appear indoors we can now begin to think about what we want to do with the garden. It is just as it was handed over by the builders a couple of years ago so consists of a fenced off rectangle of grass. I’m beginning to make a list of bird-friendly cover planting and some hardy, wind and sea-spray resistant perennials that will bring the patch to life. I enjoy gardening and it’s a good balance for all the hours I spend at both my work and my writing desks.

However, with more snow and gales forecast for the next few days, it may be some time before the garden theories get put into practice. Here’s hoping that with the lambing season getting underway that March goes out like one of those wee woolly things…

English: New Lambs

Image via Wikipedia

Meanwhile, I’m off to batten down the hatches.

Tioraidh/ Cheerio!

I Love My Brain

Principal fissures and lobes of the cerebrum v...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m quite fond of all my bits. I haven’t got long shapely legs, or beautiful teeth or
gorgeous hair, but this body is the only one I’ve got and it’s mostly served me
well. So I do appreciate it, take care of it and treat it with respect.

But when it comes to my brain, well, I love it.  And
as with many beloved things, it’s easy to take it for granted. Recently,
however, I’ve been reminded of just how awesome the human brain is – a blob of
electrically charged grey jelly – that is constantly developing, adapting and
multi-tasking.

I have an M.A. and M.Sc in psychology and I teach for a living, so yes, the workings of
the mind definitely interest me. But it’s been my writing life that has revived
my awe and respect – for the workings of this most amazing organ.

As I write my stories and novels I’m newly amazed at the brain’s creative abilities. I
love how it can be left to problem solve on its own. If the plot of the
work-in-progress stalls, I know that a night’s sleep, or the diversion of
exercise or music will give my brain the space it needs to tease out the knots,
puzzles and blocks. It’s like preparing a meal. You gather the ingredients, set
the mix off, and leave it to simmer. And while you’re not looking the ingredients
morph, mutate and synthesise into a pleasing and satisfying dish.

I love the right brain/left brain interaction of writing, I love the eureka moments, the
moments of change, inspiration, decompression that are all involved in the
creative process. I love the plasticity and adaptability of the brain – how it
constantly makes leaps and new connections. This process is obvious in my young
pupils, but it’s particularly heartening to see that the process continues
throughout life.

I hope that my brain and my writing continue to nourish one another until I draw my last
breath. I hope that engaging in the creative process keeps my brain as fit as walking
and jogging keep my heart and lungs. I hope my brain knows how much I love it.