Creative space creates space

One of the most indulgent things for me is time with a new magazine and a pot of tea. A few moments to sit, peruse and be inspired. I discovered ‘Flow’ magazine this week, and what a find! This magazine oozes inspiration, motivation and creativity. The articles in this particular issue focused around happiness, mindfulness and the wealth of time.

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I am in a stage in my life where I feel there is simply not enough time in the day for me to express and engage in the hurricane of creative ideas whirling through my mind. I go to bed every night feeling as though I missed an opportunity to learn something or try something new. I never imagined that this freedom of creative space I enjoy would cause me angst. But it does.

After reading some of the articles in Flow, I have been inspired to ponder on why I feel this way.  Does my creativity needs to be harnessed in order for me to regain the sense of playfulness that began this journey of simplicity, sustainability and creativity for me a number of years ago? I believe it does. So what does one do to regroup, and restore some balance with creative passions and the ordinary-ness of  everyday life (which is totally able to be EXTRA-ordinary too, when we live creatively!) ? Here is what I plan to do:

1.  Slow the thinking down for a bit

So many of my creative endeavours – those that have begun and those still in concept stages – are a labour of love, an active process of trial and error, planning and lots of mess making (which then needs to be cleaned up – agh!).  I strongly believe passive creativity has its place, and I aim to indulge in more of this to regain a sense of calm and fun in my creative pursuits. Passive creativity is still inherently creative, and still engages those creative parts of our brains, but with zero stress! Colouring in is my passive creative outlet of choice, and Johanna Basford is my artist of choice. What exquisite colouring books she has created, so that you and I can enjoy creativity any time, anywhere. Narrowing the creative decision making to colours as opposed to broader ideas, is a simple, yet effective way, to come back to the pure enjoyment and simplicity of creative endeavours. Just watch a child when they colour, and the calm and focus they have as they create a masterpiece. Now, you have a turn!

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2. Celebrate creativity with others

I have started hosting Crafternoon Tea and colouring parties at my house as a way to get together with friends, and to inspire and enable them to pursue creative pleasures in a way that is manageable for the stage of life we are at (children, school, sports etc).  Through setting aside pockets of time, the creator within gets a chance to be at the forefront.  Other things are set aside, and creativity reigns for an hour or two!  Hosting these get togethers has made me realise how much others crave creative outlets, and are sometimes just waiting for an opportunity to allow themselves to set aside responsibility, and nurture themselves.

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3.  Create for fun

When I have a period of time when I am not under the pump with orders for my Flair Enough business, I love to create things that are just for fun. Stationery is often my creation of choice when I get the urge to make.  I have been posting snail mail using my handmade stationery, as a therapeutic way for me to engage with people in a  simple and whimsical way. There is something magical about a handmade note in the letterbox, written for no particular reason other than to say “hi”. Snail mail is a lost art in many ways, and I want my children to see the value of handwriting, expressing oneself through the written word, and the joy of posting and receiving mail. What is your creative outlet of choice, just for fun?

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4.  Pots of tea

Tea is known to have relaxing properties, but a tea bag just doesn’t cut it, in my opinion. The ritual of pouring a pot of tea, drinking from a tea cup and saucer is good for the soul. When we drink a teabag infused cup of tea, there is often a sense of rush from the outset. But a teapot needs time – time to infuse, time to rest.  We need to do the same every now and then, so brewing a pot of tea serves as a reminder and a prompting to take some time to just BE.

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5.  Kids are creative beings – take a leaf out of their book

My children are incredibly creative, and sometimes their idea of fun is not mine. But usually, when I go along with their ideas, I get caught up in the flow and have a blast! Floor time with children is a wonderful way to foster theirs and our creativity.

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Making room for creativity, creates space in our minds. When we nurture creative thinking, we find our creative problem solving capabilities increase, we think outside of the box. Creative space creates space. But we need to create space for creative space to enjoy the benefits – and we also need to ensure that our creativity is harnessed well, rather than utterly chaotic to maximise the benefits of our creative pursuits.

Storytelling: The ancient art

Stories are powerful, captivating and enable us to transcend our immediate cares, albeit briefly.  I am a story junkie. I always a stack of books on the go at the one time. I am eager to hear the stories of those I meet amidst the pages, trusting them to help me further understand myself, others and the world around me.  Books are one of my great loves,  and I genuinely grieve when I close a book for the last time, feeling torn between wanting to know the end, but wanting it to go on forever.  However, some of the best stories of all are the ones that are a part of us, a part of our own history.

 

Reminiscing is one of the most beautiful forms of storytelling in my opinion.  Retelling the stories of our childhood, our school years, our courtship, our mistakes and embarrassments keep the memory, the sounds,  the smells, the emotions of these stories alive. Retelling these stories to our children is  a great gift, and one that those who have gone before us knew all too well.  Storytelling is an ancient wisdom, yet sadly, we often rely too heavily upon authors to fill the storytelling craving within us.

 

Imagination is the author of stories of every kind.  Imagination is not something we should leave behind as a distant memory of our childhood. Imagination can be our constant companion through life, enabling us to live creatively, laugh hysterically and escape reality for snippets of time. Imagination is also one of the most, if not THE most useful tool for parenting.  You would only have to eavesdrop at bedtime to hear the delight and the call for “just one more story Mummy!” to know that a story that comes experience or imagination is pure delight for a child.  I know my children will have fond memories of the characters and places I have told them of before bed.  We like to create stories where one person chooses a character, another a setting, and another an object. Simplicity at its finest, enthralling my sons.

 

Then there are the real life stories that need to be told. During a visit from my dad, I had the urge to ask a few questions about one of my grandfathers.  My Pop was an Englishman loved by all he knew.  Smiling eyes and bulging muscles, he often reminded me of Popeye.  I remember vividly walking with him, and wherever we went he was warmly greeted by people, old and young alike.  The kids used to call out to say hi to “Mr Bill!” He was a friend to all.

Pop died when I was 7 years old, so I have limited memories, but the ones I have are rich and tangible. However, without the reminiscing and the stories being retold, these memories are in danger of fading, or being lost forever.

When my dad started to tell stories of Pop, his face lit up, the room filled with laughter and we all felt it – we all felt that we touched the mischief and the ebullience that was my Pop.  There was one story in particular that I wish I could tell my own kids, but they will have to wait a few years – we don’t want them testing this one out…

Pop worked at the railway, and was getting sick and tired of his sandwiches being stolen. Going hungry day after day he decided it was time to take action and get the last laugh.  He made some special sandwiches for the lunch box bandit, and spread a layer of dog poo between his bread.  Wrapping them as usual, placing them in the usual spot, he waited for the usual suspect to take their first bite.  Old Pop never did have to worry about his lunch being stolen after that.

 

Motivated by my own childlike responses to hearing such stories, I  share some more of my childhood memories with my sons often. Their eyes fill with wonder, excitement and shock with these real life “this is what we used to get up to” stories as much (if not more) than they would with the most enthralling picture book by the most popular children’s author.

 

I want my children to catch a glimpse of me as a child – because they relate to that.  Adult stuff isn’t that interesting to them. They don’t really want to hear about the book I am reading, or that the interest rate just went up again, or that plums are on special this week.  They want to hear adventure, mischief, strife and hilarity – so let’s start telling them the stories that live in our memories, before we forget them.

 

It’s amazing how much we can remember when we start to tell the story. Keep this ancient art alive. Tell stories, everyday.

Yard Sale Psychology

You can learn a lot about humanity by holding a yard sale. Firstly, about your own life. The accumulation of stuff that we once deemed so necessary in our lives, now up for grabs to passers by. My “no buy it diet”changed me forever. So the amount of stuff we culled this time was, in fact, minimal, but there’s still that quiet reminder that too much stuff doesn’t add to the essence of our lives.

First observation – blokes came looking for stuff for themselves! Tools and fishing gear. So many a man walked away empty handed.

Second observation – some people wear tshirts they probably found at a different garage sale, for example; “Trust me, I’m an alcoholic”.

Third observation – women usually buy with others in mind. Therefore my sons started singing “all the single ladies” in the hope that it would have a Pied Piper effect on the neighbourhood ladies. Women came mostly buying for friends with babies or children.

Fourth observation – women AND men change their minds. One lass purchased something only to return 10 minutes later for a refund. Do I look like a department store?! But I do look like a pushover, it seems. So I handed her fiver back. It hurt too, as that was 25% of our takings at that point.

One fellow thought long and hard about a Lego and Wii purchase. As we were eating dinner there came a knock on the door, 6 hours after we packed the gear away. He had $10 so we did an after hours deal on the doorstep. Odd, but the kids scored an extra $5 each.

Fifth observation – kids learn niceties quickly when greeting copious amounts of strangers asking them “How are you?”By the end of the day, they were (unprompted!) asking, “And you?”

Sixth observation – making a batch of gluten free scones and a pot of fruit tea for morning tea is good on any day.

We didn’t make much cold hard cash, but our home feels lighter, and our ongoing quest for less is strengthened!

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Pre-google Parenting reminder

I have been thinking about the simple life a lot lately, with longing. As our lives this year have been a tad more hectic than we would like, some of the simple pleasures we grew accustomed to with the change of my pace of life these past few years, have been lost in translation somewhat. With uni, work, school, soccer, swimming (you know the drill) it has been a challenge to hold tight to the simplicity we value. I keep telling myself that it is a big year, that is halfway done, and as soon as I graduate it will be all worth it. True. However, I need to become more intentional about simplicity once more. This was a nice reminder – an old blog that I needed to revisit.
https://outnumberedmumma.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/pre-google-parenting-2/

These are a few of our favourite things…

It’s been raining a lot, so it’s been a slower than usual day. I’m not one to scoff at a hibernation day, so we enjoyed some of our favourite simple activities.

Bilibos are a wonderful toy, limited only by our imaginations. We take ours to the snow, the beach and the pool. We play with cars in them, play catch with them or balance on them. We wear them as hats, roll things under them or play marbles in them. But our favourite thing to do is sit inside and SPIN!!

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Rory’s Story Cubes provide endless fun. Roll and spin your story! I also utilise these in my toolkit for working with young people. They are a great conversation starter, and could be a great counselling tool.
I’m going to use them as art prompts for the lads sometime soon. I think that’d be grand,

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Imaginets could quite possibly be the funkiest magnetic set around. Complete with pattern cards and whiteboard surfaces, the possibilities are endless.

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Under the carport we enjoyed a game of hopscotch. I loved this as a young girl.

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I was reminded today of an older post you can find here as we enjoyed our simple, slow and creative play. It’s a good skill for our children to know how to rest, slow down and play games that are tactile, not electronic! Creativity really can thrive when the busy noise subsides.

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I will leave you with this Leunig cartoon. Let us ever be drawn to the real things.
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Cloud Gazing

The sun was shining, as I took to the deck with my book. I only read a few pages before I was distracted by the clouds above. I saw a dinosaur, a crazy bird face and a goat. I was reminded of how often I used to cloud gaze as a little girl, and how infrequently I do this as an adult. Generally when I do, it’s with the lads. But today it was just me, a hammock and the sky.

Isaac wandered out later and asked me what I was doing. Then he pointed out an Ankylosaurus and a Stegosaurs, instantly.

Just a few moments of cloud gazing was food for the soul.

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Oh my darling, lemon time!

Cupcakes are fun, don’t you think? I decided I wanted to bake today. I had a bowl of lemons from my Dad’s tree, so the winner is…..
lemon cupcakes!

I wish I could tell you that I pulled out the family recipe book that has been handed down through the generations, but there is no such thing. (I could blog about the flavours of my childhood, but that may traumatise you.) I did the next best thing and grabbed the iPad, googled “lemon cupcakes” and clicked on this:
Lemon Cupcakes

I’m gluten free, so I just substitute the flour with GF.

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We sat down with my late Grandmother’s tea set and munched our yummy treat. I made a pot of Earl Grey and forced Matt to sip it out of a tea cup he could barely hold onto. He’s not that into drinking from quaint tea cups, so that was fun to watch. I’m a big believer in making an event of the simple things, like a cup of tea.

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With the leftover lemons I made a batch of old fashioned lemonade. I used 4 lemons, 5 cups water and 1/2 cup of sugar and stirred. We added a few apple mint leaves from the garden, and enjoyed sipping in the sunshine.

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Now to clean up my creative mess…

Enoughism

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Epicurus

The trap of our time and our society is the desire for more. More money, more opportunities, more clothes, more travel, more, more, MORE!

A perfect example of this modern ill is the frequency of the donation of our “stuff” to charity. Of course the donating to charity part is good. But remember when those things that we now want OUT of our lives were things that we desperately felt we needed IN our lives? That top for a wedding, that book we simply had to own rather than borrow from the library, the toy that was going to assist in our quest to create a child genius. Now these things sit in a box waiting to be dropped off to the nearest charity bin because they crowd our lives too much.

I’m determined to continue on my quest for less. Enoughism is a concept that resonates with me.

“Enoughism is the theory that there is a point where consumers possess everything they need, and by buying more it actually makes their life worse off. Enoughism emphasizes less spending and more restraint in buying behaviour of consumers. Unlike Consumerism which Mirriam-Webster defines as “the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable”, Enoughism is an antonym to consumerism.” John Naish.

I know that my own childhood, which was one of poverty, has caused me to have urges to give my children more “stuff” than they need. Mostly these little treasures are found in thrift stores, but even so, my challenge this year is to resist these urge to bring more stuff into our home. Whenever I have that inner compulsion to buy my lads a surprise gift, I will go deeper and ask myself a few questions. What do they really need? More stuff or more of me? I will question my urge to buy them a material gift, and no doubt I will find something within me that I can give; an idea for a creative activity or game, an extra long story time before bed, a special family dinner for no reason at all. These are the real treasures I can gift my children. Material gifts are easy to give. Creative, intentional and loving parenting is the real gift, the one that remains with them, and in them forever.

Take a look around you. What do you see? When I look around I see a beautiful family, a lovely, albeit compact family home and evidence of fun, love and learning (aka mess!) These things I now have were once only in my imagination. These are enough.

Wardrobe Cleansing

Tonight I pulled every item of clothing I own out of my wardrobe. The mountain of clothes on our bed made for some giggles and jumping fun for the lads, but was a stark reminder to me of the insanity of fashion! I rediscovered a number of items that have been hiding amidst the mess that I tackled tonight. I’m sure you can relate to the, “Ah! I forgot I had this!” moment.

It’s almost 2 years since I made the decision to quit buying new clothes. I was never a shopaholic, but I did want to change my spending habits and reinforce the values I want my children to take a hold of. I have purchased just 3 new items of clothing since November 2010. I love the challenge of scouring op shops. Recently, all of my jeans had started tearing at the knees, so the hunt has been on for the perfect op shop jeans. I’ve found a few pairs, and have paid around $5 each. I’m not in love with them, but I refuse to pay $100 for the ideal jeans. I love to look good, but I refuse to be caught up in the ever changing tides of fashion. I’ve got better things to do with my time and money. I know some people are totally freaked out that someone else has farted in my second-hand jeans. I understand it’s not everyone’s thing to recycle fashion. But I’m more than happy to share bum pockets with previous wearers if it saves my hip pocket and gives much needed financial support to charities. Not to mention the environmental benefits.

Tonight I tossed 50+ items of clothing to the charity store. My wardrobe is still full, but now that it’s not bursting at the seams, I’ll actually be able to see each item, and try a few new looks.

I was stoked when I found three pairs of shoes in superb condition for $18 at St Vinnies a few weeks ago. I scored some Chuck Taylor high tops,, near new, for $8 and Asics runners or $4. For Matt, some Merrell walking shoes for $6. Brand new, these same shoes would’ve set us back somewhere around $300. Now that’s retail therapy.