Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How To Do More Of That Thing You Love

Source: FFFFound (via Sleevelessness)
So you have a passion. You love baking, or photography, or writing, but you never seem to do it. Between your day job, chores, friends and the odd at home facial, there barely seems enough time in the day to do That Thing You Love. You’ve even gotten to the point where although it’s still at the top of your “Interests” list on your Facebook page, you haven’t done this thing in such a long time that you’ve mentally downgraded it from “passion” to “hobby”. It’s just one of those things that you were once exceptionally talented at and loved doing beyond all else that you just don’t do anymore.

Ring a bell? It does here. While caught up in the whirlwind of a new job and working on this website, I hadn’t done any scriptwriting or video work in such a long time that when I did eventually get around to making something, I skipped about my apartment because I’d forgotten how much I’d loved it. Final Cut Express was the old faithful stuffed animal that got shunned for the shiny new toys I’d gotten over Christmas that was suddenly rediscovered and it renewed the elation of playing with it… Well maybe until it crashed and I hadn’t saved in a while... But that’s final cut for you. And, you get the gist.

Source: FFFFound (via Sleevelessness)
So here are some tips I’ve found to help you do more of what you love:

Find a way to make it important. Say you love photography – instead of promising to make time for it and then reneging on that promise frequently, tie it into something that you will actually do. For instance, say your Mum’s birthday was coming up – perhaps you could get your family together to take some great photos to put into a scrapbook as a present. Or you could take some photograph restoration courses and restore some of her favourite photos that have faded or a simply old and tattered. Similarly, if you make writing on your blog a priority, and you love film and editing, make a video for your blog.

Make a habit of it. This is where I like to use my “21 Days to Change a Habit” stationary from Kikki K. Do that thing you love everyday for 21 days, and it’s said that you should have by then made that thing into a daily habit. So, say I wanted to hone in on my writing, I would challenge myself to write every day for a week (yes, even weekends) and when I get to the final day of my week I would reward myself with something, like a trip to Video Ezy or a block of Raw Dark Chocolate. This trick also works if for flossing.

Make Your Passion Easier To Do. You love painting – but every time you do it you have to clean your brushes and pack everything away and sometimes it’s just easier to roll over and die. Yes. It sucks. So perhaps you could try to make it easier for yourself. Instead of getting out your paints, perhaps you could simply sketch, or try using a drawing tablet with a program like Photoshop. You like photography, but hate carrying around your giant expensive camera bag? Perhaps you could experiment with the camera on your phone instead. Trying new mediums can help to broaden your artistic horizons and make your work in your original medium better. And hey, if you don’t like it, just switch back.

Do That Thing You Love With Your Friends. You love baking? Well I bet your friends will love you baking too. Or Snorkelling? Well, I bet you have at least one friend who would jump at the chance to spend a day at the beach with you. Or photography? Throw a picnic and invite your friends to dress up in vintage wear and get snapping. Love baking, snorkelling and photography? Combine all of the previous for a delicious vintage picnic photo shoot at the beach. Involving someone else means that you commit time to That Thing You Love and it’s a lot harder to wriggle your way out of. If your friends are obliging, it can be the quickest way to get out of your Thing-You-Love-less rut and before you know it you’ve fallen back in love with That Thing You Love once again.

Good Luck!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Madness!

Unlike last monday, when I had the day almost entirely free to lie in bed and read, today has been the opposite, and since hopping out of bed this morning I've been rushed off my feet. My To-Do list for the day spilled over the post-it note which would regularly be ample room for my day's worth of chores and such, and as I buzzed about the city crossing each of them off I couldn't help but feel incredibly productive.

On top of this feeling of accomplishment and organised-ness, I kept getting ideas for a creative project I've recently thought up. Of course, the ideas come at the strangest, most awkward moments, such as while driving (can't write anything down then, can you?) or in the shower (notepad and pencil don't go down too well in there either), and since I've been so busy today, my mind has been in overdrive, churning out insights into characters and plot points and all of the rest. When I'm sitting at my computer ready for the ideas to come, they generally tend to be off doing something else (ain't that the way?).

So I've almost finished unpacking from my trip up the hill to T'ba the weekend past, and I almost have to start packing for my trip to Hervey Bay and then to Gladstone to see my family this Thursday. I picked up my sister's birthday present this morning (checked off the list) and can't wait to give it to her on friday! She's going to LOVE it. Yay.

How about your monday?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Things We Love Thursday

Things Ell-Leigh Loves:
Crazy Sexy Awesome; As previously mentioned I'm back on Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Diet and it's doing me wonders! I'm feeling great, fresh, energised and slim. Last time I CSD'd I found that my sinus allergies cleared up a whole heap so I'm hoping that happens again this time, considering in the last few days I've gone through an entire box of tissues...

Reading and Writing and Ideas, oh my! Since starting The Writer's Tale by Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook my brain has been in serious writer mode, a mode which it hasn't seen much of recently, much to my dismay. However, all the discussion of writing and storytelling has bombarded me brain and I've once again been forced to place my pink moleskin notepad and a pencil beside my bed for late night idea scrawling.

Small things Ell-Leigh Loves: reading The Writer's Tale and reliving all my favourite moments from Dr Who series 4 (I'm such a Whovian right now), crisp capsicum in my dinner, grocery shopping (it makes me feel so grown up and responsible), watching Go Back Where You Came From on SBS (Raquel! God!), ZUMBA (yeah, did the 20min workout today, funtimes!)!

Things Lauren Loves:
Holidays Soon!: So, I don't actually get 'holidays', but since in both my jobs I work with school children, school holidays still provide me with a bit of a break. I switch to working mornings instead of afternoons and evenings and have weekends free. Hurrah for afternoons! To be honest, I've had a massive first half of the year, and while it's been great, I'm exhausted. I'm looking forward to the time resting, relaxing in my rocking chair with a blanket, some mulled wine and a good book.

Little things I love: haircut haircut haircut!, winning amazing free things at the hairdressers (like a tiny, cute, green speaker for my mp3 player), as Ell-Leigh: watching Go Back Where You Came From on SBS and being proud that it was made by people in my country (and terribly ashamed of what it says about my country at the same time), washing all my clothes and feeling like I have a new wardrobe, finding the perfect pair of pink jeans, committing to buy nothing new next month and curbing my spending, stocking up on icepacks and bandages for my poor sore knee (I'm trying to turn this one into a positive...shopping is fun even for medical supplies...?), planning delicious mulled wine for our party tomorrow night.

Awesome pink jeans!! Souce here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A whole novel in a day.

Last night I started reading Portia de Rossi's Unbearable Lightness. I read three chapters before deciding to go to sleep. When I awoke this morning with very little actual work to do and an incredibly runny nose, I decided to curl up with my box of tissues and read until something made me get up. As it turned out, I spent the entire day, with a few half hour long exceptions for picking up groceries and dropping my sister to her exam and eating breakfast and lunch, in bed reading. And a few moments ago I finished the book.

It is a really intense and well written novel, and I would recommend it to anyone. Not only is it heart-wrenchingly honest and frightening, but it's final chapter is especially hopeful and life-affirming (A quick aside for those who have finished it, and those who just simply agree with me - how gorgeous are Ellen and Portia! Aww. So sweet! True love. Sigh...). It really confirmed for me how important it is to be true to yourself and not deny yourself the things you want and love. This article is really interesting if you've read or want to read it...

When was the last time you read an entire novel in a day? For many this pleasure is reserved for special occasions, such as the release of the Harry Potter books (Stevie, my sister read the final book in less than 24 hours. It took me two weeks! The others I read in one to three days, however...) or particularly short novels. Have you read anything you couldn't put down for the life of you?

I remember last year when I started reading The Hunger Games I actually made excuses not to go anywhere despite being invited by a number of people out to do things (like go to Walmart and go swimming in the river) because I just wanted to find out what happened next. It was intense! I've got my other sister's copy of the second book in the series, but I'm not going to read it until I get all my library books read... If it's anything like the first book I doubt I'll be leaving my apartment for a day or two.

Things I'm thankful for today (because after reading the Epilogue of Portia's book I'm in a particularly thankful mood); avocado on toast/rice cakes when I run out of bread, oreos, dancing around to Gimme Sympathy by Metric, going to parties I wasn't personally invited to and having a wicked time, raw vegan chocolate, catching up with old friends, cheering up friends who are in need of some cheer, seeing X-Men First Class again, which brings me to the next item on my things I'm thankful for list - James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender's faces, Strawberry and Lime cider, trying to think of a great costume for a "Hollywood/Movie" themed party - or, more specifically, trying to choose whether to go in a Team Zissou (The Life Aquatic) costume, as Margot Tenenbaum (The Royal Tenenbaums) or as Shoshana from Inglorious Basterds.

get dancing, friends.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Being Creative

Lauren Says: 

When Ell-Leigh first suggested we write about the importance of being creative, I laughed in a, “Oho! Creative, important, yes!” *Gulp!* kind of way. Creativity, demonstrating it and possessing it, has always been a rather anxious issue for me and my reaction made this quite clear.

In my childhood creativity was held up as a commodity, or at least, that’s the way I saw it. Artistic talent and creativity were linked in a way that meant those who could draw, sing, dance or sculpt pretty things were good and those who couldn’t, were bad. Not in an overtly discriminatory way, definitely not in a ‘separated into opposing groups like the blue eyed/brown eyed experiment’ kind of way, but in such a way that I, at least, felt it.

You see, I can’t draw very well. In fact I’m not particularly good with any type of hand-work, so sculpting, painting and carving were all struck off the list as well. Nor can I dance in a way that garners praise or, much to my constant disappointment, sing particularly tunefully. As a child, there seemed to be a push to be able to do these things, and a sense that while you could be whip smart, fantastic at arithmetic and spelling, a master of organisation and even particularly sporty, if you weren’t artistic then you weren’t creative and you were really lacking that something. It was, and bear with my while I sound overly dramatic, almost as though you were a little less of a ‘full human’ if you didn’t possess creative talent. (Thinking about this always reminds me very much of the children needing to be creative in Kazuo Ishiguro’s book NeverLet Me Go. I think Tommy’s struggle with the issue is one of the main reasons I love that book).

It was at about eighteen or nineteen, while I worked through my Bachelor of Theatre Arts degree (a course I took all the while fighting the little voice inside which cried, “But you are not creative!!”) that I had an epiphany about creativity. Creativity and ‘artistic-ness’ are not linked. Not, at least, as I had believed. Artistic skill or talent is relative; it depends on what our society likes at the time and what each persons own preferences. Creativity, on the other hand, is a little bit more definitive. It is the ability to think differently than we have been, to solve problems, adapt to situations, see opportunities and manipulate our world.

In terms of how important I think it is to be creative, well first I have to shift this ingrained idea that creativity is linked to ‘making pretty things’ and my sadness about my own inability to do so and focus on what creativity really is. And, once I’ve done that, I can tell you that I think it’s incredibly important. When I consider the people I know who ‘feel down’, or the times when I have myself, it’s always linked to a feeling of being trapped or stuck in a routine, life or world that doesn’t have any movement. Everything is the same and nothing is exciting anymore, there’s no colour, no light and seemingly no way out. Why?  I think it’s because the person has either forgotten or is not able to work their life creatively.

If you are living creatively you are seeing the opportunities you have to turn all situations into good, positive and worthwhile experiences; you are working out problems not just watching them; you are active rather than passive or aggressive. I would argue that holding creativity, with all its energy and wakefulness, is the state that we are naturally meant to sit in as people, and that without it we are lost and unhappy.

Creativity is not about artistic-ness or visual aesthetics, but it is about the beauty of life. A business that is run creatively in a way that allows for growth, flexibility and new ideas is a thing of beauty to see and experience. There is a harmony there that speaks to us, and the owners, managers, employees and clients will feel this and be happy. There is no one better way to be creative than others. The creativity of a baker who experiments with ingredients to bake the healthiest and most delicious loaf of bread is no more than that of a secretary who solves scheduling conflicts with astounding ease. A novelist may be no more creative than a teacher or a salesperson or a stay at home dad, but all these people may utilise their ability to live creatively to different degrees, and that’s what makes the difference.

I can’t draw well because I’m not particularly visually oriented and I have weak hands. All this means is that I’m not a drawer. I do my best work when manipulating and sharing ideas and I do this best when I do it creatively. We all possess creativity, but it’s a muscle that needs to be practised and strengthened through use and time. It’s scary to use it, because doing anything differently than we have been told or shown means we have take the responsibility for the actions we’ve chosen and their consequences. But it’s that challenge and adventure that keep us vital, happy and looking forward.

Creativity is important. So is making sure we understand what that really means. I think right now our society can lack both the understanding of and push for creativity. And that’s why things sometimes seem not so great, and more so than seems normal. We need to work on this, as individuals and as a group, as role models, friends and family members. Creativity is important.

Ell-Leigh Says: 

When I suggested to Lauren that we write about creativity, I’d really suggested more that we write about the idea that to be a writer/actor/creative artist in any way shape or form that you had to do creative things everyday. As it turns out, she was creatively lead in a different direction – however this is what I’ll be writing about, as it’s something that has niggled at me for a long time. For some reason it has been drilled into my tortured noggin that creative artist = morning pages, daily writing or setting aside half an hour of every 24 in order to work on your craft despite your day job. I can pinpoint the moment when I first took this belief on board; it was sitting in a large class full of all of the creative arts students in first year, when my lecturer told us about morning pages and The Artists Way, which caused an influx of library holds on the book and a number of online purchases (including one myself).

But do real artists actually take their time out to do these things? And how much of a certain thing constitutes enough? Are the ten minutes I spend thinking of awesome concepts for Lady Gaga film clips while I chop up carrots for lunch able to be considered part of my “working on my craft” time? Or when, on a whim, I decide to dream cast the novel I’m reading, or re-cast an old film I’m watching for an imaginary remake, am I just giving into my film-nerdy side, or can I add these points to “creative time”? Do I get points for critically analysing the episode of Glee I just watched with my sister, or making time in my schedule to watch a classic film I’d hadn’t yet seen, or for the creative new analogy I just thought of to describe how different Superannuation fund structures work?

I spend a lot of “the rest of my day” being creative, and yet I’m forced to sit at my computer in agony trying to think of some spark of an idea to write a page of creative writing about.

It doesn’t matter if it sucks! Says the mentors, and the books. The Artist’s Way, from what I can remember of the four chapters I read in second year, makes quite an effort of helping you to shut your inner critic up. Isn’t that the same inner critic which helps you determine that you need to write another draft before it’s ready to see the light of day, thus saving your arse from embarrassment? And isn’t that the same inner critic that helps the director strive to make the shot more beautiful, or keeps his eyes and ears keen for continuity errors? The same critic who makes the edit just that bit tighter, and the score just that bit more tender?

No one’s inner critic should cripple them, or stop them from creating at all, but surely when someone who doesn’t write and hasn’t ever naturally felt the impulse to – say, a dancer, or an actor who has reading and writing difficulties – won’t they, of course, feel crippled by their inner critic the minute they pick up a pen or their fingers hit the keyboard? Won't that in turn make them feel like even more of a failure, despite being quite brilliant at their chosen artform? And don't you still feel a little sucky when you know what you've made isn't terribly good and that you didn't really want to make it in the first place?

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that the standard I have in my head doesn’t seem to work for everyone, and it sure as heck doesn’t seem to be working for me. But how do we move around it? What do we do instead, when all we know is that we should write a few pages a day, come rain, hail or shine, essentially in order to prove we’re creative? Is working on your craft every single day really that necessary? Or is it that we depend on these creative daily rituals to prove to ourselves that 'yes, I am a creative artist - my notebooks full of crappy writing morning pages proves it?'

It’s times like these I wish I could just call Quentin Tarantino or John Lasseter (could I have picked two directors whose work is further apart?) and ask them what it is that they do in between projects in order to stay “creative”. I wish I could shoot Tina Fey or Stephen Fry or Cate Blanchett an email and ask them if they need to prove to themselves that they're creative sometimes. Maybe I should go to Video Ezy and rent out all the available dvds of The Actor’s Studio

please click images for sources.  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Things We Love Thursday

click for source
Things Lauren Loved:

Planning my housemates’ BirGradDay Party: With one housemate having a birthday and another graduating university, it seemed an appropriate time to plan an amazing, celebratory, wintery party! Sometimes I think we don’t place enough importance on celebrating life’s milestones, because we get too busy or something else comes up or we don’t think people will be interested. There is no reason that I can see that turning twenty-two (you only get so many double digit ages!) and getting a degree isn’t cause for mass merriment!

Being food lovers ourselves, we’re always delighted to have an opportunity to feed people; chicken wings, cheesy garlic bread, cupcakes and mulled wine so far making up our menu for the evening. I’m also a bit of an organisation fiend, so was delighted to make up the facebook invitation page, especially when realising that we didn’t actually have any photos of the three of us together (for shame!) I would have to create my own (see below). Apart from all that, it will be nice to regroup after a very busy first half of the year for all of us, to spend time with friends and make plans for the rest of 2011.

The picture I made in paint for BirGradDay...I was SO EXCITED.
Little Things I’ve Loved: Beach Day! – wearing knits all the time – extra long yoga classes – wonderful tingly peppermint tea – plans to go to the circus on the weekend! – finally getting a copy of one of my favourite books I Capture the Castle in the mail – making herby cheesy garlic bread – slow cooking everything and having the house smell so good when I come home in the evenings – imminent school holidays meaning a welcome change in work scheduling – my new raspberry pink slippers – rediscovering my love for Matchbox 20 – my new rocking chair!! – waking up warm and cosy in bed when it’s cold outside – icecream and cheesecake and croissants for breakfast when we feel like we deserve it.

Things Ell-Leigh Loved:

Giving my diet a Crazy Sexy Makeover, again. I did it once, and it was awesome. Why I stopped? Bread. Even bread ain't gonna stop me this time, and despite the increase in my grocery bill (cucumbers are expensive this time of year) I'm not compromising my health and energy anymore. I've been easing myself into it for the last week and I already feel ten times better, and my skin is clearing up and healing super fast. Miracle diet, I tells ya.

Watching movies. I have a great job where a lot of the work is getting in touch with people, which means I call them, usually during their lunch breaks or after they finish work, and then one or two days a week I hit the road and visit them with paperwork to sign, etc. This means on the days when I only have to call people I basically have all day except around lunchtime free to do whatever I like, and lately, that has been watch movies. As a movie-lover sometimes I feel as though, despite having seen more films than a lot of people I know, my movie knowledge is really limited and I don't have a strong enough grasp on the 'classics', so this week I've made an effort to not only re-watch some of my favourite films (Inglorious Basterds, The Royal Tenenbaums) but also to get my hands on some Hitchcock (Psycho, Rear Window, Vertigo).

Little Things I've Loved: Shopping Spree at T2 - raw organic chocolate (drool) - looking forward to seeing X-Men First Class again - One month 'til Art Vs Science! and Harry Potter! Squeal! - having tea with Lauren yesterday - my cool new toothbrush (reward for brushing my teeth everyday for a month, go teeth!) - baby capsicums and the yummiest organic green beans - A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (almost finished... Then onto Portia De Rossi's Unbearable Lightness), wtfrudoingjamesmcavoy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Her Majestys a pretty nice girl but she doesn't have a lot to say.

Happy Queen's Birthday Long Weekend, All. How did you spend yours?

My friend Jaz and I walked over to the part near my apartment and had a healthy picnic with tasty dips with veggies and corn chips, a few Oreos and some yummy fruit juice. Today was the first lovely sunny day in a while, and it was so nice to be able to go outside without a jacket and numerous cardigans on in order to stay warm.

Yesterday I went to see X-Men First Class with Stevie. Totally impressed! Perhaps it was the eye-candy, or perhaps the movie was just really well directed, probably both. Much higher quality than X-Men 3 or Wolverine, in my opinion, which makes me glad. Loved the Hugh Jackman cameo, Wolverine is so awesome and baddass.

And finally, a picture of two Corgis on a treadmill, in honour of The Queen since she loves corgis so much and we think she's a pretty tops lady.

picture credits: 1, 2, 34

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Things We Love Thursday

Lauren Loves: 

This week, I’ve loved the way that things just seem to work out if you leave them alone. At work, my job involves a lot of scheduling. Often there’ll be days when I stress all morning about how I’ll sort out a scheduling mess, either self created or designed by the fates to test me to my organisational limits, and then at about 1pm someone will make a call, or I’ll remember a note from last week, or something will happen that means my schedule is all back to orderly without me having to do much at all. It’s rare that these situations don’t just figure themselves out without me. In a similar situation, I’ve recently taken on another job teaching a drama class on Saturday mornings. It’s brilliantly exciting, but also a bit nerve-wracking because we have a showcase in less than a month for which my energetic group of nine to twelve year olds and I have so far nothing to show. This morning, though, in the meditation part of yoga I had, and I kid you not, a full blown epiphany about the most fantastic way we can begin the performance, and now instead of feeling stressed I’m incredibly excited to get in on Saturday and begin work.

Tell me that this guy doesn't make you smile. Look at that tail!!
Little things that’ve made me cheery this week: getting into my bed late at night when it’s all warmed be a heat pack and reading with a steamy mug of tea – mint chocolate – the feeling of possibility when you’ve just bought the groceries and can eat anything you want – legitimately wearing boots, scarves and wintery clothes – making delicious flat bread pizzas – finishing Little Women – getting excited about seeing X Men on Friday night because of the amazing cast list of surprise and awesomeness – getting excited about dressing up for Harry Potter 7.2 in July – planning holidays and many other things besides.

Things Ell-Leigh loves:

Typing this up on her new acer android tablet! Please excuse any formatting weirdness that this may have caused, it may be gorgeous and a lot lighter and less bulky than a laptop, but it has its weird quirks.

Going to the dentist? oddly enough, despite fearing yesterday's dental appointment with an unhealthy amount of dread, it turned out to be not so bad, and my new dentist is lovely.
 It's funny how terrible past experiences of something can make a simple task seem so awful, and this was definitely the case for me and my teeth. Boy do I have some dentist horror stories - but that's another story for another time.

Little things I love this week: hanging out with my family and my dog, getting closer to some real progress at work, sleeping in, big breakfasts, getting random creative ideas suddenly when doing the dishes, buying tickets to see Art Vs Science in July!

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