Category Archives: Mind

Celebrate Buy Nothing Day this Friday!

When did Black Friday even become a Thing?! Yuck. The UK Buy Nothing Day website describes it this way:

The anarchy that ensues on Black Friday has now become an absurd dystopian phenomenon. The big retailers use the event to spin out highly competitive one day offers, which often creates a rabid free for all. Black Friday is creating a brand of shoppers who will trample and fight each other to get their hands on next years landfill.

Why not escape the shopocalypse and buy nothing this Friday?

The Story of Stuff Project has a pledge you can sign here. This is the pledge:

“This year I pledge to join people around the world in celebrating “Buy Nothing Day” on November 27th. I will say no to more Stuff and yes to loved ones, yes to sharing, yes to life!”

If you’re really committed, you might even consider going 200 days without buying anything new like this lady who was prompted to undertake this after the death of her father – her story is well worth reading.

And if you’re stuck for ideas of what to do, here’s a little embroidery I did a few years back for Buy Nothing Day:

buy nothing

Enjoy!

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Prompt60 #3 Green

prompt 60 #3 full spread

prompt 60 #3 lhs

prompt 60 #3 rhs

This journal page is my response to Daisy Yellow’s Prompt60 #3, which was about creating a collage around the colour of green and baring in mind the principles of book page design. You can read the full information about the prompt here.

I enjoyed pulling together lots of green ephemera. In fact, I discovered that a large proportion of bits and pieces that I had saved in my collage box were green, so I guess I am drawn to the colour. The chap on the right hand page is Milarepa, an ancient Tibetan yogi and poet. He is sometimes referred to as the “Green Yogi” as it is told that, after subsisting on a diet of nothing but nettles, his skin turned green “and even the hairs on his head became bristly and green.”

After making the collage, the prompt suggested journalling some words in the margins. I feel my words may owe some explanation! I am reading Norman Fischer’s “Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong“. Lojong is a Tibetan Buddhist practice, training in generating compassion and wisdom with the help of short slogans. The first slogan is “Train in the Preliminaries”. Fischer suggests this can be interpreted in three main ways:

1. Recognising that regardless of what has happened in your life and why, it is your life and you are the only one equipped to deal with it.
2. Practice meditation. Daily if possible!
3. Follow the traditional set of reflections – I have written these around the edges of the right hand page. (The rarity and preciousness of human life; the absolute inevitability of death; the awesome and indelible power of our actions; the incapability of suffering)

One of the questions he suggests asking of yourself has really struck me and that is “Am I a force for good in the world?” and this I have written in the bottom right hand corner.

I hope this goes some way to explaining the possibly slightly unusual (and some might consider, morbid) phrases in my journal page!

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

This week’s Sketch Tuesday assignment was to draw something with batteries. Having been woken in the night by the smoke alarm battery-low warning beep, this seemed the obvious choice for me:

batteries - v

Waif likes drawing things with lots of buttons so he went with a remote control:

batteries - r

Observant readers might notice that there is no sketch from Gman this week. That’s because of this:

P1110593

Yep, after six years of home education, Gman has chosen to return to school. Six years ago, I thought that taking Gman out of school was one of the most terrifying things I had ever done. Six years later, I feel as though sending him back to school is one of the most terrifying things I have ever done! It’s funny how things go. For the last week, I have had a David Bowie earworm: ch-ch-ch-changes. I think it’s only fair to inflict it on share it with you:

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The Wisdom of Children

After Gman’s surprising ICAD, here is nine-year-old Waif’s nugget of wisdom (although he may have been aiming for something more spooky than wise ;-))

icad #26 - r

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Teenagers – Full of Surprises!

I was blown away by this index card created by my 14 year old muscle-bound, rap-loving, cool-as-a-cucumber son, Gman:

icad #23 - g

Waddya know?!

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Play the Ball Where the Monkey Drops It

icad #14 - v

This card was inspired by a story I heard told by Buddhist teacher Tara Brach. You can read it on Huffington Post here, but the moral of the story can be summed up in Tara’s words:

It doesn’t matter what is happening. What matters is how we respond. How we respond is what determines our happiness and peace of mind.

Hopefully, the card will act as a reminder to me.

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Found Words – Conflicting Messages

For my latest couple of index cards, I made some backgrounds then clipped phrases from a 1975 Which? guide “Avoiding Back Trouble”.

As you can see, the messages are kind of conflicting 🙂

icad #13 - v (2)

icad #13 - v (1)

I would like to live my life in accordance with the first principle. In reality, my natural inclination is more towards the second! Ah well, it’s a work-in-progress!

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How much is enough?

Last night I was lucky enough to attend a teaching given by Theravadan Buddhist monk, Ajahn Jayasaro. One of things he said that has been running through my head today was the importance of asking the question “how much is enough?” Sometimes it is hard to swim against the stream of “as much as possible!”

So, today I have been reflecting on this question, and my index card reflects this:

icad #3 - v

How much food is enough?
How much exercise is enough?
How much rest is enough?
How much social media is enough?
How much reading is enough?
How much talking is enough?
How much tea is enough?

How much is enough?

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The Maybe Islands are Hostile to Human Life

I’ve got Jenny Doh’s Creative Lettering book out of the library at the moment and it has been inspiring me to play with letters. I made this postcard, quoting from the book I am currently reading – Jeanette Winterson’s “The Stone Gods” (highly recommended – the most poetically beautiful scifi novel I have ever read):

maybe islands postcard

The truth is that I’ve spent all my life with my binoculars trained on the Maybe Islands, a pristine place of fantasy that is really no better than the razor rocks of misery […] Maybe, baby, that promised land was there and I missed it. Look at it glittering in the light. But the truth is that I am inventing the maybe. I can only make the choices I make. So why torture myself with what I might have done, when all I can handle is what I have done? The Maybe Islands are hostile to human life.

I think I have spent too much of my life with my binoculars trained on Maybe Islands. Time to set my sights elsewhere.

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Bad Art, Buddha and the Gifts of Imperfection

I am sure you will agree that there is a lot of amazing art to be found online. There are talented drawers, painters, mixed media artists, textile artists, sculptors…and it’s easy to get into the mindset of “who do I think I am, sharing my feeble attempts at art when there is so much quality work out there?” I know I feel like this at times. I recently came across Brene Brown’s work, and in particular her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” and I feel much better about making art, and about sharing it. In her chapter on creativity, she talks about the importance of letting go of comparison in relation to our creativity. As she says this is “not a to-do list item. For most of us, it’s something that requires constant awareness. It’s easy to take our eyes off our path to check out what others are doing and if they’re ahead or behind us”. I am trying to cultivate this awareness. I am trying to approach looking at others’ work in a spirit of interest and appreciation rather than with a feeling of “I’d never be able to do something as great as that”. And to realise that it’s ok to share my work, however imperfect, in the hope that others will share theirs, however imperfect, and that we can all understand that our creativity cannot be compared.

In this spirit, I share with you my second attempt at a watercolour-only piece which is this little painting of a Buddha head statue that I did. It’s far from perfect, but I enjoyed painting it 🙂

buddha

Some might say it is “bad art” but so what! Listening to Grayson Perry’s recent Reith Lectures, I found myself nodding in agreement with his answer to an audience member’s question as to whether it is important to be a good artist or can you be a bad artist:

It’s important to make art because the people that get the most out of art are the ones that make it. It’s not … You know there’s this idea that you go to a wonderful art gallery and it’s good for you and it makes you a better person and it informs your soul, but actually the person who’s getting the most out of any artistic activity is the person who makes it because they’re sort of expressing themselves and enjoying it, and they’re in the zone and you know it’s a nice thing to do. So I don’t think it’s important to be a good artist, no, unless you really want to be one and it can be very painful if you aren’t.

So express yourself, enjoy yourself and don’t worry if it is “good” or “bad” 😉

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