Compromise isn’t 50/50

When most people think of compromise they think of meeting in the middle. This kind of implies a 50/50 split, of efforts on either side, which I don’t think is a good way of looking at things.

Perhaps in the grand scheme of things it evens out to a neutral number, but each occasion isn’t quite this even; and that’s not a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with this at all. In fact, I think it’s perfectly natural, normal, and shows a great commitment and strength.

In this day and age we seem to have forgotten how to compromise. There seems to be this ever-growing idea that the world should be ‘fair‘ and things should be ‘even‘. Ideally, yes, but reality will prove otherwise. Whether we’re growing more entitled, or more selfish, or I’m just getting older and seeing these philosophies that have existed for an age, I couldn’t say. What I can tell you, though, is how I see things.

Relationships, with friends, family, loved ones and even colleagues are not a constant 50/50 and nor do they have to be. When times are good, they may be close to that average, but most times you’re each dealing with your own troubles and difficulties. At times like this, you may have to reserve more of your strength and energy for yourself, at times like this your partner may choose to invest more into the relationship to make up for that. At times like that, you’re making a compromise but it’s not a strict 50/50, one person is perhaps giving more than the other simply because they can.

To use a more material example, it’s true with money as well. I have plenty of friends in relationships who will call each other out. “I paid last time”, or who split the bill by the items they each individually had. Kirsty and I don’t keep track of this, we just go out and one treats the other… We don’t keep a tally chart at home, who owes who what, we just compromise by helping each other. One of us will treat the other, and that doesn’t just depend on who did it last. It can be plenty of things to who’s mood is what, and who’s finances are stronger. Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason at all.

When we start thinking about how much someone owes the other, we start getting petty and selfish. The idea of being ‘owed‘ anything in a relationship of compromise and love can lead to distaste and anger itself. It can make us feel under-valued. I’ve written about something similar before: How We Misinterpret Value. The problem is, many times this extends to things that are not as material as finances, things that can’t be added up quite as easily. I’m talking here about things like emotional compromise. There are times when someone might be dealing with a lot of stress, they may even be dealing with depression, there are times when their health, either mental or physical, may well be on the line and they simple wont be able to give you everything you might want or need. Standing by someone, and aiding someone during this time, can mean giving a greater proportion than they’re able to give back, but it will be worth it every time.

Anyone in a relationship with someone with a long-term illness will know the compromise might not be strictly fair. Sometimes it takes more work of one party than of the other. Not because one half is selfish, not because one half is holding everything back, but because they simply can’t give as much as the other, or because what they do give takes all the energy they can spare. There may be things they can or cannot do, things their health doesn’t allow. They may need more strength and support than ever, or they may even need to be left alone (it’s own kind of effort in the relationship – that of being able to give space). In these circumstances you have to treat the ratio on an individual basis. If you judge something strictly by the relationship as its own entity, if you tally it up on some petty and hypothetical chart, it might be true that one person is ‘only’ responsible for ‘30%‘ whilst the other ‘70%‘, but if you look a little closer you’ll realise a more important truth. Someone’s 30% might be their 100%, and just because it isn’t the same as you can give right now, it’s them pushing their own limits.

Just like everything in life we’re individuals, we’re all fighting our own battle and we’re all trying to make sense of the world. By showing compassion and love, we help give each other strength, and by compromising we lighten each others load. Giving that little extra isn’t a bad thing as long as you have it to give. Many of the best people out there are such because they give with no desire to take. We need to ignore the ratio all together, we need to scrap the 50/50 ideal, and we need to just recognise that compromise just means helping each other where and however we can. We need to recognise that sometimes someone needs to take a little bit more, but that they’ll give it back tenfold whenever they can. 

I’ve waffled longer than I though I would and the point is no clearer than if I’d just streamed consciousness onto a page. I’ll try to simply summarise here. An adult relationship is certainly one of compromise, one of understanding, and one of lending each other strength. At times, you may have to do more for your partner because of where they’re currently at, and thats ok. In fact, its more than ok. If you’re with the right person you won’t mind the compromise, because you can rest assured that when the tables turn, which they could at any point, that person will lend their strength to you, they will fill their side of the relationship. Of course, as with anything, there’s a negative view. Some people out there are takers, and will take, take, take without any means of giving back. I’m not addressing that here, I’m letting you judge for yourself. The people who are worth it will make it worth it. They’re the ones who are loyal, who are strong in less obvious ways, and who you feel are worth giving that extra to. Remember it’s hard to be objective, and remember that someone’s objective ‘30%‘ might be a personal ‘100%‘, which, in my eyes, is even more valuable.

What do you think? Should compromise be a purely 50/50 split? Or do you sometimes need to give/take a little bit more? Does it all even out in the end when all is said and done? And if it doesn’t, does it matter? Let me know in the comments below!

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I’ve been away from the blog for a while, my last true post was end of May. There’s a post in June celebrating my 1 year blogging, which I’d had scheduled for a few months, always with the intent of touching up when the time came, but it went out as is and there we are; no point looking back now, we’re going to be looking forward!

In truth, the end of May and the rest of June were busy, busy times for me. My day job had an important deadline and work ramped up accordingly, there was even an 18 hour shift in there at one point which I am not eager to repeat. Then over at Level Up Photography we had our biggest event yet and it has taken a lot of time to sort out all our material from that, though thankfully that work was far more enjoyable and inspirational. Then, there’s been a bit of illness in the family, which has filled a few of thoughts. Life, therefore, has kept me very busy and taken my mind away from my writing. As the adage goes though, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ and, sure enough, I’ve missed the Clouds.

I’ve missed partaking on Sunday Blog shares, I’ve missed providing content and commenting on the work of others. I’ve missed the interconnectivity of all our lives. It was possibly the worst time to get busy, as I also missed the Bloggers Bash, I missed promoting my Blog for the ‘Hidden Gem’ award (though, it went to a very worthwhile winner), and I missed countless other events that have taken place across the blogasphere.

hidden-gem

But, as I said before, we’re moving forward. If you’ll allow me this week to catch up on where I left off and then it’s back to it!

Thanks for staying with Clockwork Clouds!

What about you? Whats new with yourself and your blog? I’ve been gone about a month so feel free to catch me up! Let me know in the comments below!

5 Reasons Not To Vote!

Vote.

Regardless of who you’re voting for: Vote. That’s the best advice I can give right now: Vote.

The second best advice I can give is to read up on who you’re voting for. Read manifestos, look at past voting trends amongst the candidates and their parties, go into that polling booth informed and educated. If you can’t though, if you don’t have the time, then at least just vote, hell, at least, if nothing else, make sure you’re registered by May 22nd.

You’ve probably heard the stats rolled out again and again, that 18 – 30 year olds aren’t voting. Why should you? What reason do you have for voting? Perhaps you came here looking to have your arguments justified… Well, lets see.

The Parties Don’t Care About My Age Group

True, maybe they don’t. What Politicians care about is people who are actually out there voting. If us youngsters refuse to vote, then they’re not going to aim themselves at us to begin with. By voting now, in this election, you ensure they will sit up and listen in the next. By not voting, you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face. For some parties, the best thing we could do is keep quiet, not vote. They’d rather not engage us, they’d rather brush us aside. If we go out and vote in this election, we ensure that in the next all parties have to take us into account; and that’s true of any age group… just look at the trends! Whilst keeping this as objective as possible, I’d argue that some of the parties out there are aiming themselves right at us, they’re discussing things of key interest to us now, and us in the future.

Vote: Think about the future, ensure that our age group is heard in the next election, and that the future of people who replace us in this age group are continued to be heard.

 I Don’t Agree With Any Party.

Understandable; especially considering the above. Maybe there’s nobody appealing to you at the moment, they’re not discussing the issues you’re interested in, or worse, they’re taking the issues you care about and producing nothing you agree with. That’s an absolutely fair viewpoint… but, there’s an answer. Weigh up you options. You may not find a party that agrees with you 100%, but you might find that you agree with one parties policies more than another’s. It’s a cliché, but pick the lesser of the evils. By not voting, you’re not mitigating against the worst case scenario. Even if the most you agree with a party is 10%, it’s better to vote for them than have your vote ignored. Not only is something better than nothing, but this is the best stepping stone to getting to a future where you agree with a party 15%, 20%, and more.

Vote: Anything is better than nothing, if you don’t really agree with any, but REALLY don’t agree with some, vote for the lesser of two evils… Build those building blocks towards better parties in the future.

All Politicians Are The Same.

We always get hurt, right? Whoever we vote for, things go awry, policies aren’t upheld. It’s easy to write these things off as broken promises, fractured trust, and it can be easy to say all politicians are the same. Regardless of whether I agree they are or not, my answer is simply the same as above… Vote for the lesser of the evils. It’s true politicians want to win your vote, often they may say things they’ll struggle to do later, but at least vote for those that are trying to do the things you agree with, or have a history of voting the way you agree. Simply choosing not to vote only guarantees you’re never heard.

Vote: Help those Politicians you agree more with, trust more, or appreciate the values of more, hear your support by voting for them.

My Vote Doesn’t Matter.

Your one vote may not make or break the election, it’s true. This is one of the hardest mindsets to overcome, that one person doesn’t make a difference, so why should they? The masses are loud and your opinion drowns… right? But what if everyone felt that way? What if nobody felt it mattered? It does. It really matters. Not only do you prove to others that the mindset can be broken, you set a trend amongst peers to do so too. When we vote, we help convince others to do the same, when we take it seriously, others take it more seriously too. It’s like Recycling… Your one plastic bottle that you didn’t recycle may not destroy the world, but if nobody recycled? The impact would be great. The more of us who recycle the better the world will be, and the better example we set to those who ‘don’t have time’ or ‘can’t be bothered’.

Vote: Your opinion has a bigger impact than you think, it matters to your friends and family, it matters to your social networks. You set an example by voting, and the more people voting the better.

The Party I Agree With Will Never Win.

This is a reason I hate the way we currently vote; I was all for the Alternative vote those few years back. We always seem to end up in this race between Conservatives, Labour, and Lib Dems. Perhaps you want to vote Green, perhaps you want to vote Independent. What’s the point? They won’t win… Well, of course they won’t if you’re not voting. Not voting because your party won’t win is a contradiction, and it’s very, very similar to the point above. The parties you agree with need your support, they need you to vote for them regardless of the difference it makes, and it shows them (and all the other parties) that people out there agree with them. By not voting, you’re not encouraging them to maintain those values, and you’re not encouraging them to keep trying. If every voter out there felt the same as you, that they weren’t going to bother because it didn’t matter, then these parties will fade away, and other parties values and beliefs will only get stronger.

Vote: Even if you don’t think your party will win, you can only help by voting and letting your voice be heard. At the end of the day, even if they don’t win, you ensure that people recognise that these values matter to someone.

I honestly don’t care who you’re voting for, regardless of my own political alignment. I don’t care if you’re voting based on your area, based on your job, based on the future of the country, or voting on Brexit. I don’t care if you’re voting passionately, from the heart, or if you’re voting tactfully, ensuring the lesser of the evils in your area. By not voting, all we do is ensure that the whole country isn’t heard equally…  Over a third of people in the country didn’t vote in the last election, that’s a third of the country in silence. Perhaps the conditions aren’t perfect right now, but we can set a foundation for elections going further. We need our voices out there and need to encourage others to do the same.

Please register to vote by May 22nd, and please attend the polling stations on the day to cast your ballot.

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.

*****

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!

Thinking About Me

Recently I’ve been thinking About Me.

No wait, I’ve been thinking about my “About Me”. You’d be surprised how similar the two statements are though, despite sounding different. Both require a certain understanding of myself.

I’ve known for ages how old my About Me section is outdated. Hell, the photo I was using on it was from when I was between 19 to 21. To put it into perspective, I’m 27 now and 28 in less than a month! Time for an update, right? Not to mention I didn’t even have a beard back then… I’m not me without my beard!

 So, with thanks to Suzie’s post How to Create a Successful About Page, I’ve refereshed mine!

I’ve added a more current interpretation about who I am, along with what I’m trying to achieve in both life and on the Clouds. I’ve also summarised my Posting Schedule, in case you find yourself so inclined.

You can find it by clicking here: About Me

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!!!