One Year on the Clouds

Despite what WordPress would have you believe, that this blog has been active almost six years, this weekend actually saw our first birthday on the Clouds. Sure, I had posts before then, very sparingly, one every six months when I got swept up in enthusiasm, kind of things, but now it’s been one year since I started posting regularly; always aiming for that Monday post (like today!).

The 3rd June is when my blog became a real weekly thing. I’d been to Creative Writing course, I’d realised that the only thing that was holding me back was myself, and I started to take my writing a lot more seriously. Hopefully one year of dedication to the clouds has shown this, to you lovely readers as well as to myself. The journey is still ahead, and never truly ends, but I’ve shown I can come this far and can hopefully continue going forward.

Here’s to more years!

When Problems are their own Solutions.

Have you ever realised that sometimes you solve your problems by… solving your problems. I don’t know how to put it better than that, and maybe it’s just me, but it’s so utterly obvious sometimes I manage miss it.

Before this post, this one you’re reading here, I started a post where I once again moaned and waffled on about my motivation. In this previous post, I talked about how my writing wasn’t flowing recently (and in truth, it hasn’t been) and I talked about how I was feeling pretty run down and a bit, for lack of a better word, shit. As I wrote this previous post, I started to lighten up, and the crumminess I felt throughout the day started to disappear. I was still tired, I was still a little bit disheartened, but I was feeling a bit more determined. Why?

Well, one of the reasons I feel naff is when I don’t feel productive. I’m all for lazy days, lazy weeks, hell give me a lazy month, but after a while they start to creep up on me and I realise that I’m wasting my time on this planet once more; I’m not working towards my goals, I’m not investing in my future. This gets me down – in fact it gets me down big time – but I often don’t realise it until it happens. It’s weird that way, I grumble and complain but I simply don’t realise the source of it all. The thing is, as I was writing the previous, now completely scrapped post I was simply trying to hit my “One Post Every Monday Guaranteed” target. It was purely some personal waffle aimed at making sure I didn’t let myself, my blog, or my audience down. In other words, it was actually productive. Now don’t get me wrong, it certainly wasn’t very good, case-in-point it’s now scrapped, and it was purely some filler piece designed to hit a statistic, but it was also progress towards something. I started to fix my problem by actually fixing my problem.

The problem with feeling unmotivated is that it can feel like quicksand. It can feel like you want to do all these things, but you can’t, or you won’t, or you don’t know how… and so you sink further. We distract ourselves from this with TV, with Video Games, with scrolling down Facebook… and we continue to sink without noticing. Just like quicksand though (and hopefully my armchair expertise on this subject doesn’t fail me) it’s about taking a slow progress. Simply by sitting down and writing, even if it was complete and utter waffle, I took a small step and I felt better, I felt lighter, I didn’t feel as stuck. Was it because I was unloading my feelings onto electronic paper? That was probably a help! Writing always makes me feel better! But it was also because I was doing what I set out to do. I was writing, which is my goal, and I was blogging and hitting that Monday deadline.

It amazes me that I don’t notice this solution more often, despite how often this cycle continues. I’ve even written before about how often I feel unmotivated only to realise it takes that one simple step forward… that little bit of productivity… and it can snowball. Productivity encourages more productivity, writing encourages more writing, and putting stuff off encourages more putting stuff off… I’m going to try not to do the latter.

Here’s to a productive week ahead!

What about you? Is there anything small you’ve been putting off that could make a big difference? Maybe this is the week to get started! Let me know in the comments below!

My Happiness Jar: A Friday Feeling

Continuing my weekly theme of New Years, with Mondays resolutions, Thursdays 2016 Thoughts, I wanted to do a Friday Feeling in the same vein. Thursday highlighted what made 2016 a great year, it was full of positive reflections and helped me to really reminisce about the year gone by. I think, more often than not, that’s the problem; that reminiscing can just be so hard when you don’t take the time to keep reminders.

Whilst many of the more prominent moments of 2016 were easily brought to mind, without the use of Facebook, I would have left some of my memories behind. I don’t like the thought of that. I know we can’t remember everything, but I want to remember as much as possible.

Well, luckily, 2017 is going to be a bit different. Not only will I have this blog to look back on, but I’ve invested in a jar. A Happiness Jar, to be precise.

A Happiness Jar slowly filling with memories!

Ok, so at the moment it’s just a jar… but you get the idea. Over the course of the year, Kirsty and I will slowly fill this jar will all the happy memories we make. Then, on the 1st of January 2018, we’ll open this up and read through everything that made 2017 a great year!

This was an idea brought to me through the powerful medium of Shelley Wilsons blog, and it instantly struck me as something I wanted to do. Every year, without fail, I try to start a journal. I am obsessed with starting brand new notebooks where I write down my happy things for the day… As with most things, I’ll miss a day, then a week, then a month, and then these poor little notebooks get left by the wayside. This jar will be different. It’s pride of place in my lounge, and Kirsty and I are already filling it up with different slips of coloured paper. It’ll look beautiful as it fills with a rainbow of different paper slips and, come January 1st 2018, we’ll have a big jar of memories to open and look back on.

My new diary! “A Good Plan”

All that said, I can’t really give up my notebook addiction. I helped to fund the English translation of this fancy little notebook, “A Good Plan“, at the end of last year; you can find it on their site here. It’s a bit more in depth and reflective than my other journals, but the tagline for it really appealed to me: “Because the most important book in your life should be about your life”. Let’s see if I can keep it up!

How are you keeping track of the year to come? Relying on memory? On your blog? Or on a something entirely unique? Let me know in the comments below!

Word-High July

I’ve decided to take part in Wordhigh July; a word challenge with an open invite that you can find here.
I’ve seen a few word-prompts scattered about on WordPress, but this is the first challenge I’ve been genuinely excited about. Is that because I found it based on recommendation of fellow blogger Sam at Mousehound Writes? (Partly!) Is it due to the use of a Patrick Rothfuss quote at the top of the initial Wordhigh July invite post? (No; but that got me very intrigued!) Or was it just the use of 30 Beautiful words with which to challenge ourselves as writers? (Bingo!)
In fact, it was a little bit of all these things and a little bit more. I want to pursue challenges with my writing, but at the same time I want to actually have fun with it. For me writing has always been a solitary practice, something I did late at night with only the comforting glow of my PC screen, or to escape the everyday boredom of work on my lone lunch break. It was never something I really shared with anyone; I never even read my work aloud.
That’s changed recently; I have more direction. Wordhigh July looks like just the sort of thing to help me keep this motivation going. It’s open, carefree, and promotes sharing from all people of all cultures and hobbies. The words and their meanings are beautiful and naturally inspiring, and I can’t think of any better muse for a series of short pieces. So, in keeping with these gorgeous prompts, I will be trying to write 30 positive, loving pieces. I wont be posting them daily, as not to bog you readers down with my work, but instead every Friday I will compile them all into one long post for all to see. Who knows, since I’m also big on my photography right now I might throw in a photo or two as well!
A special shout out has to be made to Maria of Doodles and Scribbles and Rosema of A Reading Writer, without who this challenge wouldn’t exist!

Leaving the EU: My Thoughts.

Those of you that know me will know I’m an advocate for positivity and compassion. In everything I do, every situation I come across, I try to see the good in that scenario. It’s hard sometimes, ridiculously hard, but I try.

With today’s news, and the outcome of the EU Referendum, I struggle to find the words. I struggle to put down in writing the absolute shame I feel for my country and I struggle even more so to see the silver lining in these dark, thundering clouds above. The outcome of today fills me with a white hot anger mixed with an amalgam of equal parts shame and disgust; it’s a difficult emotion to find myself processing. I find myself angry that our country is taking these backwards steps, angry that people voted without thought of consequence, and I’m especially angry at the lies and bullshit our media and spokespeople have been leading us to believe. This is not what almost half our nation wanted and it certainly doesn’t bode well for the future of either the UK or the world.

That said, I want to try and reframe my outlook and, whilst I certainly can’t find anything positive to say about this farce, I can perhaps find compassion. For better or worse our country has made a decision and, whether it was made intentionally or not, all of us have to deal with these consequences. We need to face them head on; we need to face them in unity.  It is easy to point fingers of blame, to ostracise those we don’t agree with, but that serves no purpose beyond pettiness and smug self satisfaction if all goes wrong.

There are people now living in our country, people who came to our country for a better life, who feel scared, isolated, and unwelcome; more so than they probably felt before. We have to show that we are still human beings, that we’re still capable of being loving, emphatic humanitarians. We shouldn’t roll over and be defeated, but at the same time we mustn’t foster hatred between ourselves.We can have the discussion, we can potentially try for another referendum, but we should not split ourselves further than we’ve already come. It was divide that brought us to this debate; it was fear that won it. If we loved and cared for each other, as selflessly as we would look after our own close family, we wouldn’t be in such a horrid, unthinkable mess. All of us have to deal with this situation now, so each and every one of us should support the other as best we can. We’re not just looking out for ourselves, but for every single other person on this planet.

My Lens: Part 1 – Seeing the World in Pictures and Words

Do you ever find that when you’re doing something so much, or so focused on one thing, that you end up seeing the world through a certain lens? As someone who plays a lot of video games, I’ve noted this since I was little… I remember lying in bed at silly o’clock, after sneaking some game time after Mom and Dad fell asleep, and finding it impossible to use my imagination without picturing it in that video game world. It’s actually called the Tetris Effect and, back then, it was distracting to say the least. Now I’m older though, I’ve realised it can actually be quite the blessing.

As a photographer, spending your days looking down a viewfinder, you begin to see the world as a series of potential photos. Where other people see their walk to work, you see a series of incredible images going unnoticed to the general populace. Before actually devoting time to my camera I used to scroll through the thousands upon thousands of amazing photos on Flickr wondering “How did they capture that moment?”. I realised later it’s because of how they see the world, their practice with the camera, and whilst I’m by no means the best photographer in the world, I now finally see those potential images in everyday life; it still surprises me to this day. It’s a wonderful, creative way to view the world and one I’d recommend to anyone.

So why am I mentioning it? Is it to recommend everyone take up photography? Not really, at least that my sole aim, though I’d recommend to anyone and everyone to try it, at least for a few weeks. The reason I mention it is because I’m seeing the world through yet another lens now… I’m seeing the world in words. I’m not talking about how Neo sees the Matrix, letters and code flying up and down, but more that I’m seeing and thinking of potential blog posts and potential stories. I’ve always been a writer, I’ve always had ideas building up within my head, but I’ve never quite got to the point of having this outlook. One of the main things that’s always held me back is a doubt I’ll have enough ideas, as though my mind is a spring soon to run dry. After all, there’s only so many times I can bitch and moan about my motivation, right? But in all seriousness, blogging more frequently, even writing more frequently, is what I’ve needed to see the world in an entirely new way. I liken this to my photography, because it’s what I know, but I’d assume its akin to musicians hearing songs in the every day hubbub of life. It’s true that to be a writer, a photographer, a musician, you have to actively practice your craft, but nobody ever tells you how it changes your view. If it works for writing, photography, and, I assume, music, try to imagine what else is out there!

As the title suggests, this is only Part 1. Please check back this time next week for Part 2… And in the mean time, why not comment to tell us… How do you see the world? Do you have a certain “lens”?