The Hiding Place: A Monday Motivations

img_3287-1

Behind the fireplace in the drawing room, once you’d moved the book case slightly to the side, lay her safe space, her sanctuary; a place where the rest of the world just didn’t exist.

It served her those nights when her siblings were squabbling, when her mother had been drinking, or when her father was crying; those times when the world seemed so wrong and made no modicum of sense.

Recently, though, she had found need for it more frequently, as though things were slowly breaking apart, and her once sturdy sanctuary walls were now permeated more easily… the outside world was getting harder ignore.

*****

Two prompts in one day! Aren’t you lucky?

Like with this mornings Writespiration post, it’s been awhile since I’ve took part in one of  Esther’s  Monday Motivations; so long, in fact, that I didn’t realise we were now using Photo Prompts too! I really need to stay better up to date. My last post was At The End: A Monday Motivations

The themes here was: Hiding Place!

If you want to see my previous entries,  you can read Creation, The Musician or Gold & Misery!

The Switch: #Writespiration #12

The Switch pulsated; bright, rainbow light breaking into the pitch black room.

Everything about it was as exciting as it was mysterious.

Still, some part of her resonated with it, as though her life had lead her to this moment, and, deep down she somehow knew that it had to be pressed.

*****

This prompt brought out a nervous twitch in me, as I’m still lamenting not buying the Nintendo Switch… May can’t come soon enough! Still, it was nice to partake in another wonderful challenge posed by Sacha, in which we had to write a 52 word piece using only the prompt of “The Switch”.

I’ve been a bit lax in my entries of prompts recently, my last entry was The Juice Thief: Writespiration #5 which was… well, a fair amount of time ago!

 

My Lens: Part 3 – The Power of a Lens

What is your perspective of the world? Do you ever consider how much it changes?

It’s a post I’ve written before and one I’ve been thinking about more and more of recent. Coupled with Throwback Thursday I’ve revisited my two earlier posts, My Lens: Part 1 – Seeing the World in Pictures and Words and My Lens: Part 2 – A Happier Perspective, and, besides from realising how my writing and blogging style has changed since those earlier days here on the Clouds, I’ve also realised just how true it still is.

Part 1 deals with how our hobbies and interests shape how we see the world; the more we write, the more things that present themselves to be written about, the more photos we take, the more opportunities we see. I’ve found this to be fundamentally true as I’ve gone on. The “My Lens” series was one of my first blogs written to be read my a bigger audience, a less personal post. It was around a time when blogging was new to me and one of my fears was that I’d have nothing to say. Recently, I’ve had a lot of blogs scheduled way in advance, I’ve been proud of that, but it also meant I’ve rested on my laurels a bit. Due to this, I’ve actually noticed I’m far less inspired by things around me. Blog posts aren’t sitting around in my head waiting to be written, and my 9-5 is leaving me exhausted and too tired to write.

Part 2 of the My Lens series dealt with Mindsets; the more you practice positivity the more positive things will be. Written like that, it sounds pretty self-explanatory, but it’s the opposite that most people tend to ignore; the more negative you are the more negative things will seem. I know a lot of people who are negative, who’s believe the world is out to get them, that nothing ever goes right. They spend so long focused on the negativity, that not only does every new experience seem negative to them, but they’re ignoring and glossing over the positive too. When something good happens to them, it’s only a matter of time (in their eyes) before life is going to go to shit again. In this way we curse ourselves to a damned unhappy existence.

So, what’s this part 3? Why has it taken so long?

Firstly, it’s took so long because I’ve just spent hours writing a blog that, in actuality, was really waffley, self-indulgent, and had no real baring on anyone else. It had a message, certainly, but it took ages to get there. Stay with me for a bit though, let me see if I can break down to the true meaning of Part 3.

Power.

Part 3, is ultimately about the Power of a Lens. Like Skills, the Lens you don’t practice with is lost. The less writing I do, the less I see to write about. The less photographs I take, the less shots I see out there in the world. The less positive my outlook, the less positive things seem. It can become a somewhat self-fulfilling cycle and one you may have to consciously break or you’ll feel all hope is lost.

Now, bare in mind that your perspective doesn’t just have the power to shape your view, it has the power to shape your whole world. By practicing something like writing I will get better, I will also see more to write about, I will find more opportunity. Now consider if I practice love. By practicing love we will find more love reciprocated in the world around. It’s this that Part 3 is about. That there is power in the way you see the world.

This power that perspectives have over our lives is both a blessing and a curse. Whilst it enables and opens our eyes to the wonders around, perspectives also denote your blind spots, if you practice counting your money, you start to only see the world in monetary gain. You’ll  be more blind to the things money can’t buy, the things in life like love, gratitude, support. I’ve spoke before on what value truly is in How We Misinterpret Value. and I feel the need to point out how that is very much a perspective, a lens. After all, the old adage of “When you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail” works well here. Those who are so money focused will be the kind of person to think money solves everything; that their problems stem from too little of it, and that they can solve them by throwing their hard earned dough that further away. Similarly, those who haven’t ever seen love, and therefore don’t practice love, will be blind to its presence; may even scoff when you talk of its ability in changing the world.

We need to all be aware of how our perspective is shaping the world around us; the good and the bad it can do. We can shape the world to be more aware of the special, photo-perfect moments, we can shape it so we can see love, kindness and gratitude, or our perspectives can make us blind, they can act as narrow blinkers blocking all but that which we want to see. Our perspectives also let us see where others have blindspots, when people don’t care about others, or about society, or about the world at large. Our perspectives can show us the society-induced blindspots. The more we open ourselves to these more accepting viewpoints, the clearer the narrow view of the world at large can look.

I think the point I’m making clear here is… that after a rewrite this post is still pretty waffley. (Evidence I haven’t written something in a while… evidence that I’m on Day 9 of 13 shifts at work…) But the actual point I’m trying to make here is that it’s worth reflecting on your own lens, the behaviours you practice in your life, and thinking about the power they have in shaping the world around you. Is something you’re focused on shaping your world? And if so, is it for better or for the worse?

So, as homework, what would you say your ‘Lenses’ were. How do you see the world? And, on reflection, are there any lenses you’d like to switch out? Let me know in the comments below!

Looking Back at Fizz Free February

As I write this I’m drinking a bottle of Pepsi Max… I wish I could claim it is some sort of experiment I am conducting, but really I’m just thirsty and it was the only thing available (besides plain water, bleh!).

Last month I was doing Fizz Free February: A Fight with Caffeine Addiction and I thought that, after my first post and since it’s now March, that it was worth checking in on this subject to see how I was fairing a month down the line. In the interest of accuracy, it is worth noting that, dispite ‘Fizz Free’ being the title, I wasn’t 100% Fizz Free. In fact, it is probably more apt to call it ‘Reduced Fizz February’ instead. That said, even Kirsty will admit my habits are completely and utterly changed.

So, when have I been drinking ‘Fizz’ (in our case, Pepsi Max). I’ve drank the dreaded Fizzy Pop when it’s been a bit of a treat, i.e. with a meal out, or with a takeaway (might as well, since I’m ruining my body with grease anyway, right?). That said, there have been a few moments where I’ve had a bottle, one of those 600ml, 20% Bigger** bottles, and I’ve drank them fairly slowly. I used to drink these constantly, I could finish them in a few minutes, but now? Well, I can make one last. Not only that, but they sometimes leave me feeling a bit naff. They make me feel bloated and yuck… this one certainly is!

Of course, I used to notice this before, but I think I was just that conditioned to filling up my body with them that I’d accepted it as a standard feeling. It wasn’t until I felt better that I began to realise the body shouldn’t feel this way. That’s a lesson for life right there, sometimes you don’t realise how naff you feel until you feel better.

For some people this might be enough to never touch it again, but like a kid (or, lets face it, Grown Ass Adult) who keeps eating his weight in chocolates despite the awful repercussions afterwards, I’ll still continue to drink it; I know I will. I also know, though, that my addiction is broken.

I certainly don’t find myself craving it as I used to. When faced with the option of a drink of Pepsi Max or a drink of Water (with Cordial, thanks) I would always opt for the Pepsi Max, it always seemed the most delicious. Now though, coupled with the bloating after effects, I realise it just doesn’t quench my thirst, and I notice I actually prefer to reach for my cordial infused water far more often.

As for Caffeine, the major feature of the previous article, I’m not entirely sure I’ve fully recovered. I have days where I wake up as though I haven’t slept, where it feels like the time between my head hitting the pillow and my alarm (Kirsty’s hairdryer) going off were instantaneous. I think these moments are just symptoms of life, though, rather than symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. Same goes for me being moody, having a foggy head, or being demotivated. These are just my usual cycles, previously enhanced by withdrawal, and now settling into a norm. Who knows, though? All I know is I don’t need it anymore, and that’s good. Too much reliance on anything outside of prescribed medication is a bad thing.

So, has Fizz Free February been a success? Damn right it has.

At least, I think it has.

Let’s Recap: No more addiction, no more cravings, saving a ton of money (who knew Water was so cheap?), and functioning with minimal withdrawal.

That’s a success right there!

The Powers of (Mis)communication

Have you ever realised how much upset and annoyance can stem from a simple lack of communication?

A few weeks ago I talked about stress and anxiety in: 3 Steps to Help Combat your Anxieties!. There I mentioned that arguing with Kirsty was one of the things that brought me stress, but that things aren’t as simply as just ‘deciding to stop arguing’, instead you have to find a way to combat that, to avoid having reason to argue in the first place.

Last week, I talked about Seeking Sanctuary after my housemate moving out, and, whilst trying (and failing, a little? You be the judge!) to avoid going into rant-mode, I also wanted to talk about one of the things that upset the balance most.

Both these two points stem from the same source; both of them are a lack of communication.

Kirsty often gets annoyed with me when I don’t do something she expects of me, sometimes this is me not doing as I said I would, sometimes it’s me not doing something I didn’t even know was expected of me; all of it is a problem with communication. Maybe I didn’t listen when Kirsty was explaining something, and mid-argument I realise she’s right, maybe I didn’t communicate when, or how, I was going to do something and had left Kirsty with a different expectation than myself. If, in the first instance, we’d communicated better, if we’d explained and listened, explained and listened, than we could avoid arguments around those issues.

To prove this point, there have been times we’ve had arguments that, when you get down to the bare bones of it, stem from me meaning one thing and Kirsty meaning something completely different. That leads to an argument you can’t conclude, neither of you are listening, neither of you realise the argument is futile and, by its very nature, has no end. Sometimes, though more rarely, we’ll actually be in agreement, but arguing because we’re using different language; our shared goal lost in translation. When we realise that’s our cause, simple miscommunication, we settle back down, but how long have we wasted arguing? How tense have we left an otherwise pleasant and peaceful evening?

Similarly, many of the negativity from having a housemate stemmed from a lack of communication. Whilst waiting for him to move out, it never seemed there was any progress, it lead to feeling like no effort was being made (though I’m sure it was, just behind the scenes), we had no word when he was going to be in, or out, or when his girlfriend was going to be round as well; the closest we got was being asked if it was ok, whilst she’s there behind him, how can you say no? The thing was, we never wanted to say No, we liked them both and who would deny a young couple to share each other’s company? We just wanted a heads-up, a show of respect. Then came the move out, they had the keys, they had the place… and two weeks later there was no eagerness to move, their attentions more fixed on decorating and sorting than packing and leaving. Again, whilst we so eagerly craved our own space, we would have nothing against them delaying a week, two weeks, even three… but there was no communication. We weren’t kept up to date with their plans, therefore we became annoyed and irritated when they happened around us.

We’ve spoken since on the topic, I addressed my housemate and asked a question to the effect of “Why don’t you keep me informed of things?” and his response was because he felt awkward, and because I never asked. Well, I never asked because I felt awkward… Miscommunication, lack of communication, how much easier would the past five months have been if we had just had a simple conversation? If we’d explained and listened? One of us could have extended the olive branch; one of us could have saved the mutual awkwardness.

My problem is I hate confrontation; I’m passive aggressive, I’m petty. I’d rather say “I’m fine” than explain how someone has annoyed me. Half of it is through fear of upsetting someone else, half of it is through an expectation that someone should know they’ve upset me… but that’s not how the world works. Sometimes people are utterly clueless, regardless of the (seemingly) huge hints you leave in their wake. It’s just not a productive way of conducting life.

The world needs more people that communicate, more people that actually explain what’s wrong, and more people that listen to another’s points before reacted. Explaining, listening. Explaining, listening. When we shout over everyone, when we only hear the points we make ourselves, everyone is deaf.

Kirsty and I have took that on board. We’ve started to listen to each other in full, to try and provide comfort to each other when we open up as we realise it’s sometimes difficult to do so. More importantly, we’ve begun to listen to things. When Kirsty used to say “I wish you’d washed up today”, I used to hear “Why don’t you do anything at all in the house?”, when really she meant “I wish you’d washed up today”. We’re communicating now; we’re explaining, we’re listening.

Do you agree? How important do you feel communication is? And do you have any tips to ensure a healthy dialogue? Let me know in the comments below!

Making Connections: A Thursday Thought

For a reason I can’t explain I’ve been thinking a lot about connections.

It’s strange to think just how many connections we make in everyday life, be them professional or personal, big or small. The word itself has connotations of business, the old adage of “It’s who you know, not what you know”, and from there there’s a pressure around the need to network; the need to find people who can provide a helpful step up the proverbial ladder, a proverbial foot in the proverbial door.

In fact, connections can be something completely different; it doesn’t have to all be red tape and white collars. My blog was born over 5 years ago, a mere journal for me to jot down some thoughts at the time, but it was only ever something I looked at once a year, if that, and never really took seriously. Fast forward to last year, one of my best friend’s, Andy, convinced me to join a creative writing course, where we were introduced (and then ‘connected’) with Shelley. She convinced me it was worthwhile taking my blog seriously and really putting myself out there. From that connection, I’ve found many different people from all around the world; I’ve joined writing prompts, I’ve joined challenges, and I’ve joined Facebook groups. Connections leading to connections.

It can be easy to think a connection is something more tangible, it’s someone you can point to, someone who’s number you have, someone who ‘knows a guy’; really a connection can be something as small as a shared smile. By writing, by creating art, by simply giving form to our internal thought processes, we create potential connections that can span further and longer than mortal life. We are still connected now by works of art, by literature, by film or by photograph. We are connected to people we will never meet, or who’s names we’ll never know. To share our art is to create a connection en mass. To me, that’s beautiful. To me, that’s worthwhile.

Connections give us a power. They can give us support, they can give us guidance, and through them we can share our passion and our philosophy. We were born a social species, our evolution was encouraged by our communication, and through it we continue to better ourselves. By sharing our thoughts we are able to better each other; simply by increasing understanding and by portraying different perspectives. We live in a time now when our communication has transcended physical movement and speak; we exist in a world where we can learn from people across the globe. Right now there has been no better time to forge ‘connections’.

When I sat down to write this Thursday Thought, I wasn’t expecting to write so passionately, but now, writing this final paragraph, I feel genuinely moved. A connection is something more than a mere contact in a faceless industry, it is an ability to create understanding between us. When I write my blog posts, I first and foremost write them for me, but within them I try to include a positive angle; I try to promote my belief that we can all be good, that we can all be inspirational, and that we can all benefit from sharing. Nothing warms my heart more dearly than when I see us helping each other. Regardless of how we do it, be it charity work, random acts of kindness, or something as ‘trivial’ as writing a blog, we put aside differences and judgements to make the world a better place. If that isn’t making connections, I don’t know what is.

*****

Completely off topic: If you’re a blogger in the UK, or even further afield but interested in traveling, why not come to the Bloggers Bash? Details can be found here: BLOGGERS BASH TICKETS ON SALE NOW!!!

At The End: A Monday Motivations

I cowered, hunched against the cold, metal corridors of the ships interior; my naked flesh shivering and frost-bitten by the lifeless surroundings.

From the screens I saw stars, entities I’d only witnessed from the confines of Earth, slip by us without a care and over the intercom I heard the laughter, His laughter, cruel and sharp like a scalpel edge.

How or why He’d brought me here, I did not know, and all He’d say between His awful, insane laughter was “I am you. I am your Future. We are at the End”.

*****

Finally! I’m back doing another prompt for Esther Newton’s Monday Motivations. I’ve been taking a bit of an unintentional break from prompts, but hopefully I’ll be back on it this week.

The themes for this week were: Laughter, Cold, The Future.

A big thank you for Esther for running these Monday Motivations and hopefully this is a sign that I’m going to be doing my other prompts too this week. If you want to see my previous entries, there is either Creation, The Musician or Gold & Misery!