My image, my focus: Kindness Challenge Week 1

Imagine a figure, blurred. The background behind vibrant, bustling and ever changing; a wall of monitors displaying thousands of different images and flickering all at once. Each flashing image has a soundtrack, but each is simply drowned by the other; each a smaller part of the ever growing cacophony. You’d be forgiven, given the scene in view, that these countless images, that there is no meaning here; that each screen serves only to be part of the whole, and to perpetuate this mess of unintelligible information. Closer inspection of the figure in front, however, will show you that his eyes do shift briefly, that his attention does focus, and his own image along with it. The blurred figure, in fact, may not be blurred at all when his eyes focus, like a lens finding a focal point. When he sets his sight on one image, one dream, he aligns again. There is definition to him, shape. He has presence, and physicality where previously there was none… but it’s fleeting. It’s lost again to the next saccadic movement.

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This week was Self Love on the 2017 Kindness Challenge, my intentions, for which, can be found here: Setting My Intentions. This week we’ve been challenged to take note of all the ways we feel we have to earn our own approval. This sounded a good premise on its own, but then I saw the suggestion of ‘Create a self-portrait’. Now, I’m no painter, but I am a photographer. I was determined to build an image with my camera and use that as a statement ‘This is who I am’ or ‘This is who I feel’, and then counterbalance it with an image of ‘Who I would like to be’. I never had the time or resources to take the image, though. I had the equipment, but the setup was a little harder than I’d care to admit, I wasn’t able to achieve the vision I originally set out to portray – the irony isn’t lost on me, by the way. Then it occurred to me, I may be a Photographer, but I am also, undeniably a Writer! So, I turned the image into prose instead… and thus I started doing myself a kindness… I’ll explain.

See, the piece above is open to interpretation… but to me represents my feelings towards myself. You’re welcome to interpret my writing however you see fit, and I’d love you to share below if you see it differently, however I’d like to explain what it also means to me. The figure, if you hadn’t guessed, is myself… or, at least, the way I feel about myself. I’m fuzzy, undefined, intangible. The backdrop in the piece is a portrayal of my dreams, my many, many dreams. Unspoken, and unreferenced, there’s dreams of being a good boyfriend, being a good son, being a writer, being a photographer, being the best me I can be… I often feel I am struggling forward towards these dreams, but also that I’m making no progress, mainly because, more often than not, I am just sitting back and watching them pass me by. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know this lack of motivation is a constant topic I try to address; this piece is no different.

Early on, I realised that the Self Portrait I had in mind was out of my reach, my aim was too high, and it was unachievable. Rather than beating myself up about it though, I knew I still needed a post for Self Love this week. So, I adapted. By doing this, I achieved my dream image, but I painted it with words rather than painting it with light. I didn’t allow myself to become distracted (mainly because I had a deadline) and I didn’t allow myself to become disheartened (because I found a different route of approach).

My soul searching for this week has revealed that I feel lost when I am not working towards my dreams, but also that I am far too content to allow myself to get to that point. I have so many dreams I want to achieve, that sometimes I simply lose sight of the one for the many. The sheer quantity of them, and the lack of focus I have for them, encourages them to build up and encourages me, their viewer, to simply sit back and watch them play out without me. My dreams define me, for better or worse. I want to say “I am a writer!“, I want to say “I am a photographer!“, I want to say all these things, but I won’t allow myself to define ‘Me’ that way if I don’t achieve them. That’s how I judge myself worthy of approval, if I’m succeeding in these goals. I need to teach myself to understand that these goals and dreams may help to define me in some instances, but they certainly don’t define my worth. I need to learn that I am capable of loving myself even when I don’t meet my standards, and that through self-love I actually support myself in meeting these standards in future. If I support myself, if I focus on the aspects in my life that are worthwhile, that help build my future, then all the better. I need to focus on ‘getting there’, not focus on having ‘not got there yet’.

If I had to set a Mantra based on my discovery for this week, it would simply be: “Find Focus”.

When I’m down because I’ve wasted another day without creativity: Find Focus. When I’m feeling guilty that I haven’t spent as much time with my family as I could: Find Focus. When anxiety is building up inside of me at the thought of ‘putting myself out there’ and taking a risk: Find Focus.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Setting My Intentions: 2017 Kindness Challenge

So, earlier this year I signed up for the 2017 Kindness Challenge, hosted by Niki on Richness of a Simple Life. Everything about the challenge appealed to me. I’m someone who values kindness, optimism, gratitude, and all those wonderful things, and this is exactly what the Niki is trying to encourage. The challenge itself is a 7 week focus on bringing more Kindness into your life, complete with weekly prompts and themes on how to do such. I’ll copy and paste the weekly themes below and, if they appeal to you, I highly recommend you hop over to Niki’s blog and take a look!

First things first though, we’ve been asked to Set Our Intentions… So, lets go!

sign-up

My Intentions for the 2017 Kindness Challenge

As I stated above I value kindness in my life. I also value happiness, optimism, and gratitude. I also don’t think any of these factors are exclusive; I think everything builds together to create a better lifestyle. I’ve had my times in life when I’m down, upset, and melancholy, my times when life just doesn’t seem to be going my way. During these times you tend to find one, or more, of these factors has slipped. Perhaps I’m not feeling grateful enough for the things I have, my place in life, and that’s leading to feeling unsatisfied. Perhaps I’m not feeling optimistic about things, expecting things to go wrong at any point, and that’s causing anxiety. It’s because of this that I try to blog when I’m feeling down, I try to analyse my feelings and I try to inspire gratitude and optimism within myself. Of course, these are only two examples out of a give four, and even that isn’t a comprehensive list… I feel there’s far more values that are out there, that are important to our well-being, so here I’m just summarising a few.

Why Kindness then? Why a Kindness challenge?

Firstly, I’d say a challenge to promote any of these pillars is beneficial, regardless of how familiar you are with them. If this was a Gratitude Challenge, or Happiness Challenge, I’d still be eager to take part. Persuading people to focus on these mind-set’s/behaviours is a positive thing. Kindness though, in particular, is something I’d like to be challenged on.

I’d call myself a kind person; I’m eager to help, I’m eager to encourage. I have my moments where I’m selfless, but I’m not without those moments where I’m selfish. Kindness is something I try to do with my daily life, but it’s not something I’ve necessarily focused on to the extent that I’ve focused on other things like gratitude (which I try to do semi-regularly here on the Clouds)

Also, if you take a look at the schedule below, many of the themes within this challenge are surrounding the topic of Self Kindness; things like Self Love and Self Acceptance. This is something I really feel I need to work on, especially when my confidence dwindles which it has done of recent. Honestly, this challenge couldn’t have come at a more apt time and really makes me think about Creating Coincidence once again… but, that’s its own separate post (it actually is – click the link).

So, to summarise, my statement is that I want to be kinder to myself, I want to gain more confidence through self love and be less judgmental of myself through self acceptance. At the end of the day, if this challenge just makes me think and reflect a little bit more, then it’s already of benefit. I’m a big believer in ‘Small Steps Towards the Future‘, you’ll have heard me say it before, and in my eyes any small step towards a kinder future, is a small step towards a brighter one.

Hopefully that serves as a good statement! Hopefully it’s something you’d like to join. The themes of the challenge are below, and you can find a link to the Challenge Sign up further down.

Themes:

  • Week 1 | Self-love
  • Week 2 | Self-compassion
  • Week 3 | Self-acceptance
  • Week 4 | Kindness role model
  • Week 5 | Choosing kindness
  • Week 6 | Kindness without expectation
  • Week 7 | Grateful for kindness

For the next 7 weeks you’ll be able to keep track of how I’m getting on every Thursday, and if you’d like to join the challenge yourself then head over to 2017 Kindness Challenge (it states 7th of May!). If you fancy commenting on my statement in particular, then please let me know in the comments below!