A Note from Natalie
Natalie is the resident writer, but not an expert. For expert advice, please book a consultation with Dr Quinn
There’s no doubt that stepping outside your comfort zone can have learning benefits – new experiences teach us about ourselves and the world around us.
But by always associating the new with huge decisions, determined life changes and big commitments, we’re still sort of following yet another prescribed way to make lists and tick things off them. We’re also inviting the concept of failure into the equation if we ‘fail’ to do these things.
They say a change is as good as a rest, so let’s change perspective on how and why we benefit from a little change to the routine.
Sample some commitment-free ideas of how to shift predictable thinking and stir up the waters of your deeper, imaginative self which have nothing to do with goals, and more to do with experiencing the fullness of what’s out there:
This can be a tricky arena to get a foothold in, but there’s no need to get bogged down with difficult language or complicated rules.
The simplest lines can transport you into a fresh and exciting way of encountering the world.
The Haiku is a very charming way to exercise your creative self and play with lovely language as well.
Originating in Japan in around the 13th Century, the Haiku is a 3 line poem that traditionally focuses on images of nature. Haikus today are the magical art of arranging thoughts in to deceptively simple forms.
As soon as you try one yourself, you realise what a challenging process it is – selecting your words more carefully, focusing on the important ones and identifying those which are superfluous.
There is much to be said in this age of endless commenting and stating opinion that the power of words is something really worth thinking about!
The Haiku form:
Line one: 5 syllables
Line 2: 7 syllables
Line 3: 5 syllables
I must write a verse
But my mind exceeds the form
Must I train my mind?
I would LOVE it if you wrote your own in the comments below!
Travel is a bit of a preoccupation of mine at the moment because I don’t drive and a move to the country (away from London’s transport luxuries), means that freedom of travel has become something of an infatuating dream…
But while I keep my pictures of faraway destinations on my wall – (the tundra of the Arctic, the mesas of the American Southwest, the sparkling purity of the Pacific North West, the neon shimmer of far Eastern cities, and the rainbow of India) – I still try to adventure within my immediate bounds and all I can say is that I think we can be too concerned with the planning – too put-off by not having a reason, a destination or a purpose to account for taking the time or money to just… go.
Life constantly encourages us to think with purpose in mind, or at least using our time ‘wisely’.
But if we always follow another’s path – another’s advice on the best places to go and the best things to see at the precise time of the year or day… How do we find ourselves in the experience? How do we encounter the world differently?
And to experience something new, maybe we must do exactly that – something that someone else has not already felt, thought and written about.
Some of the most exciting books I’ve ever read about ‘travelling’ have been written by incurable ramblers, and have been about things like anonymous ditches, undesirable marshes and completely overlooked tangles of wood.
It’s easy enough to start there – it’s as much to do with language as it is geography.
Illustration: Su Blackwell/ Photo Colin Crisford
Recommended Reading for a new perspective on ‘Travelling’:
Robert Sullivan: The Marshlands
Robert Macfarlane: Landmarks
Giving in to passion
Orion Nebula, ESO, Chile
The dazzling beauty of the night sky relies on every single individual star to show its light. Not just the big ones. Every single one. The effect is a cumulative one – everything contributes to the essence and beauty of the whole.
Passion might be going out of fashion. Or at least, understanding how to recognise it seems to be a bit of a lost art. People push for extremes, as though they don’t know how to feel what they feel anymore without certain cues or signifiers. It’s true that for a long time passion has been somewhat discouraged: don’t get too excited because it’s not, somehow, ‘cool’. Don’t make too much noise because it’s rude or intrusive. It’s not surprising that passion has a bit of a strange image in our imaginations as something naughty, boisterous, flamboyant or even dangerous.
There has to be a happy medium between not feeling anything at all, and being the person standing on the top of a building with a megaphone.
So what is it? What’s its purpose? Where do we find it?
We’ve written before that the things which GIVE you energy instead of DRAINING your energy are likely to be the things directly in line with your authentic self. And it’s definitely true of artists: When they’re creating around the subject they love, they become prolific, they improve much more obviously, they reach higher achievements… Force them into a subject that might be more popular or suitable or appropriate and you’ll see quantity, quality and sustainability all diminish.
And that must be true for all of us: translate creative output into how a person thinks, feels, acts and seems every day and you’ll see that those who are free to engage with what they genuinely find interesting are going to be in a much better condition than those who simply never do.
Is it easy to devote yourself to a passion? Maybe not. But it does make probably the biggest contribution to your wellbeing. People ignore their afflictions to do things they really want to do. People overcome all sorts of obstacles. In other circumstances, you might give in to them, but when there’s something that you deeply enjoy, want, love, desire, can’t stop thinking about…
Well, that works kind of like magic. Nothing is too difficult to get just a scrap of the experience. And no tiny amount of it is too little. Anything will be enough.
When was the last time you felt like that?
If you don’t have a passion or a love – if there’s nothing you get excited about, this should be the top, if not the only thing you have on any kind of ‘to-do’ list.
Finding it, feeling it, treasuring it will work like a miracle on most of your other issues. It won’t heal the sick, but it will elevate them. It won’t bring you a fortune, but it will make money unimportant – so long as you can still get a bit of the thing you love. It won’t solve your problems but it will lessen their importance on your sense of self and wellbeing because you can defer your attention to something which is always going to be more important to you than the stresses or worries of the outside world.
Perhaps most significant of all it will give you direction. It will give you a reason, for everything you do, and everything you have to do.
Search back in time, try to remember. Search the world if you know in your heart you’ve never encountered anything that makes you feel so strongly that you’ll give up an hour of anything just to doodle with it…
It’s like falling in love – the experience is transformative and well worth investing a bit of energy and focus on.
Why not comment and share? We need each other to find new things – places, music, ideas, voices…
This week’s recipe Tips:
Important: Debbie is selecting recipes with combinations of ingredients to inspire your cooking regimes, but while they are healthier choices in general, they will not address individual issues. You MUST make sure that all ingredients you use are compatible with your own individual medical conditions, medications, allergies and goals.