Is shelving a bad thing?

Life has gotten pretty crazy around here, and this project of mine has stalled. Although the life changes have remained, my active search for making writing opportunities has sadly been shelved.

Is shelving a project a bad thing though?

 

For a while there I was very much feeling a level of guilt for not engaging the projects I wanted to work on, not actively pushing on. I tried, but nothing came. There were so many other things going on around me it was as if my brain just didn’t have the left over capacity to work on the creative endeavours. So I stopped producing. Instead, I absorbed.

I read work from others, novels, philosophy and all sorts of literature. I watched movies that challenged me and TV series that entertained me. Slowly but surely, the more I absorbed, the more content my mind became, the less guilt I felt. I started to realise I wasn’t replacing my endeavours, but merely allowing them time to sit. Seeing what may be working within them and what may not. I realised some ideas I was forcing because I wanted them to come to fruition so badly. Yet is it worth bringing to fruition if there is no substance to it?

So I refilled the tank so to speak, giving my imagination and thoughts a chance to refresh and reboot so my creativity felt like a river rather than a blocked drain. Rather than focussing on the ideas on the surface my ideas come and go. My thoughts are a healthy river again; and that is a pretty fantastic feeling.

I stayed with meditation and yoga. I kept my basics in check, but what I didn’t do was try to create flow where there was a blockage.

Clear the blockage and the rest will come.

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Mindful over Mindless.

It became painfully obvious last night how much television has been designed to not only entertain but to trap us. It all started when one of my work mates wanted to watch a reality TV program. I have no problem with people watching what ever they want so merely sat on the couch talking while she watched, but before you know it I was watching as well. Then before you know it, one show ends and another one started, and yet it stayed there, flashing and begging us not to look away. Thrusting advertisements into our lives unequivocally.

If I were at home, I never would have caught pulled into it’s trap, knowing that I can’t stand a lot of those shows, yet when I was merely in the room with the television it grabbed my attention without any effort, before I knew it I was merely a zombie, as if seeing my body there, stuck. It wasn’t until I realised I was staying awake to watch a movie that, had someone asked if I wanted to watch it earlier, I would’ve declined.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with television, I find great source of entertainment in the art that people create, but with the advent of Netflix and streaming services, I can’t help but feel my ability to block out the bright, flashing shouting screens of commercial television has waned. As if being spoilt by choice that I control, I’ve relaxed myself into thinking that television doesn’t interest me anymore, when in reality it never did.

It’s further cemented my belief that I am on the right path. That eradicating the excess and making sure that everything in my life adds value it by far the best path to follow for me to lead a life I am content with. Last year I wouldn’t have even paid attention to the attention sapping prowess of the television, yet this year, although late, I saw it and made the call to step away and change my behaviour to suit. Sure, I still lost an evening watching programs that I couldn’t tell you a thing about any more. That day is gone though, I’ve already wasted those hours and they will never come back, yet in a positive spin, at least I noticed it early and can now accept that I can address that and make sure that I don’t get drawn down the same rabbit hole again.

It’s fine to loose hours in front of the television, sometimes it’s even nice to have a day binge watching your favourite shows. What I have learnt today though is the problem is not in the action of doing those things but the way in which we let hours melt through our fingers without paying attention to notice.

How many hours have we let slip in our life with no recollection of these days? How much of my life has been lost, with nothing to show or no memories to smile at? As well as avoiding compulsory consumption, it would probably be helpful to reduce mindless consumption of distractions as well.

 

Thank goodness for mindfulness over mindlessness.

Have to // Want to.

Have to and want to, many things in life fall into these two categories. I want to go for a bike ride but I have to  do the dishes. I want to take the dog on an adventure but I have to clean the house. These two phrases rarely join onto a mutual path, seeming to be running parallel to each other in perpetuity.

With each passing thought though, why do the things we have to do always feel like the biggest burden. Many people will wash their car happily, yet despise washing the dishes – a monumentally easier task. Some of my friends love cooking, yet I’ve never met anyone who loves cleaning the stove afterwards. Is this all a mentality thing? Is the key to life purely mentality?

I suppose in a simplistic way – yes. Some things will always be hard, and some things will never be fun. Having a good mentality about the subject will make those tasks more bearable at least, if not easier as well.

I thought of this the other day, the art of pride in every task, it came from my “Ritual” post a few days ago, waking up was hard; until I took pride in my mornings. That made it a little easier. So I’ve tried it in a few more ways. I try and look at the end product rather than the task at hand. Rather than seeing a sink full of dishes, I visualise an empty sink to give me the motivation to invest that 20 or 30 minutes into the washing. When the house needs cleaning rather than looking at the mess that may have accumulated over a week of living and working, I think about how much more peace I feel looking at clean work surfaces and cabinets. The task may be boring, but the end product is always enjoyable.

Every task you do can bear fruit of positive sensations upon completion. Focussing on the completion rather than the task helps to alleviate the sense of dread and replace it with a drive to complete the task at hand.

Your greatest achievements needn’t be a pay rise, completing a novel, running further than yesterday. Sometimes a great achievement can be taking part in an activity with your whole self, without ever having to think “I must to do the dishes when I get home”.

Treat every task as an achievement and allow completion to be an allocated part of your day, see how your day and mind changes through the process.

After all, it’s always easier to complete a task before you add more on top of it.

The Ritual.

Let me preface this by saying, I am not a morning person. I need at least a cup of coffee and ideally a cup of tea before I have to become too involved in any major tasks of the day. Sadly my work doesn’t always allow me to give in to my night owl tendencies and sometimes forces me to join those of the pre-sunrise. In that I always struggled.

Just because I don’t like the harrowing sound of a shrill alarm ringing before the sun has even burst across the horizon though, doesn’t mean I can’t modify my mornings to make it a little less of a begrudging awakening each morning.

Enter the ritual.

The time of morning I have to wake up varies, which wreaks havoc on my body clock. I always envied those in the world who could awaken at 5am and immediately be a functioning and productive human being, oh how I envied them. So I made a change, and dare I say, I’m nearly one of those early morning functioning humans… Nearly.

These days my morning goes a little differently. Gone are the days of snoozing my alarm 6 or 7 times, only to wake up in a panic because I’m running 45 minutes late. Actually, gone are the mornings where I had to set my alarm 45 minutes early because I knew I would snooze the alarm 6 or 7 times. No longer do I skip a morning meal that would tide me over for the day. No more do I wake up and jump in the shower, only to jump out as soon as possible. Gone are the days of not having time to make my morning coffee in peace, and instead having to spend $5 at the local coffee shop on the way to work.

It all seems a lifetime ago when my mornings were filled with stress, panic and rush. Thinking back makes me feel so much more at ease with my new peaceful, purposeful and steady mornings. No more being late, no more being worried.

Enough babbling about the past, how did it change?

Quite simply, I always get up early these days – regardless of necessity. For the simple reason that I have the ritual to perform. The best part is that the ritual only adds 20-30 minutes to my mornings – the time I would normally spend dragging myself in and out of sleep with the aid of a ‘snooze’ button. Let me just say – The snooze button is a terrible addition to an alarm.

My mornings are now simple. I set my alarm and hour and a half before I need to wake up – because I don’t like having to rush; life is too short to run everywhere in a panic.

The first step of the ritual is out of bed and into the spare room for 10 minutes of restorative yoga. Personally I use the “Down Dog” app which has always been brilliant and easy to follow as well as a peaceful experience. In 10 minutes of the “restorative” setting I get to do a variety of simple stretches, without too much exertion, to wake me up gradually as well as warm my body up, no more hobbling around the house in the morning.

Once I have finished my yoga I start phase 2 – Meditation. Currently I am undertaking mindfulness meditation through the “Headspace” app. Another brilliant and welcoming app for the beginner. This allows me to warm my mind up as well as my body; Meditation always finds a way to let me start the day in peace and happiness. In this way I can aim to start each day without the burden of any negative subject matter that may be fogging my mind.

Now in 20 minutes I have awoken my body and mind peacefully, that shrill alarm doesn’t seem so malicious as it used to. This allows me to properly wake to the day. The ritual is merely the bridge, across which I travel from the realm of sleep to the realm of wake. I make my coffee and my breakfast, walk the dog; all in high spirits. Then with my body and mind at peace and awake I can jump on my bicycle, grinning from ear to ear as I cycle to my day at work.

Because life is also to short not to have a smile on your face as you go to work.

Welcome to VeloMinima

I started this blog under a temporary name, I wanted to start writing but I wasn’t sure of the name I wanted to give it; despite knowing what it’s content would be.

I introduce you to: VeloMinima.

It’s simple, I’m a cyclist and a minimalist, my life is undergoing reconstruction and these two lifestyle choices are key building blocks in this adventure. Plus, it came to me on a walk. What better way to stumble upon a name than one that’s bred through the meditative sensation of walking outside. No need to stab a dictionary around these parts.

So I guess this will be my formal “what will I find here?” post. This is to document my transition to living a meaningful and purposeful life as well as endeavouring to reduce my impact on the world and environment around me. It started with me thinking about kids and the world. Would I want to raise a child in this world? I couldn’t say, but one thing I realised at that moment with almost sickening clarity was the question: “Am I doing enough with my own life for the world?”

Hence this idea was born, bred from a simple off the cuff thought; I decided, if one day I do choose to have children, the world around me will be as it is at that time, but I want to ensure that I am the best possible version of myself for them. I want to be someone my future kids will look up to. I want to be someone I am proud of and look up to.

So welcome to VeloMinima, I hope you enjoy your stay here. Pop in from time to time and see if you like what I write, maybe subscribe if you do. Maybe we can share a coffee over thoughts one day.

Three pieces.

One of the things I always struggled to comprehend was conscious littering. I would walk around my local park and be bemused at the state that previous users had left it in; especially as open space within sprawling suburbs is getting smaller and harder to find, it needs protecting.

After a while the age old adage came to the forefront of my mind – “if you want the world to change, start with yourself”. I’ve always been a firm believer in self improvement and being proactive in getting others excited to join you as the most efficient way to spur change in any situation. People like to be led by example not orders. So I started working on my three pieces rule; and it ended up very simple.

Every day, pick up three pieces of litter.

The idea behind it is simple. If I’m out on a walk and see litter, I pick it up and move it to a bin. I chose three as the number for a few reasons, mainly the fact that finding three pieces of litter is by no means a monumental task (yet) but it also isn’t such a monumental amount that it turns my dog walk or cycle into a trash collection walk. At the end of the day I want this to be sustainable long term and still enjoy these actions without being buried under the gravity of the task at hand.

That’s not to say I can’t collect more if I see it though.

For example birds had raided a local bin and strewn it’s contents all over the oval so I spent about 3 minutes just collecting it up and putting it back into the council bin. The rule is only stipulates that it cannot be less than three items.

Eventually I will hit a point where my personal litter contribution is 0. When I was younger, sometimes wrappers would blow away and I wouldn’t run after them, or a bin would be overflowing so I would add to the precarious tower of trash and walk on rather than waiting for the next bin. Even today, I’m sure remnants of trash in my pockets sometimes finds it’s way to the ground when I pull my phone or wallet out.

No one is perfect.

The goal is not to vilify everyone else for littering but merely bring our personal net total down. Once my litter contribution hits 0, I can start making a difference, then my contribution to collecting litter works towards becoming part of the reduction effort.

The ideal is simple. This method of cleaning up our cities is easy to perform, barely encroaches on our lives, takes almost no time, but will eventually make a huge difference. If one hundred people took part in three pieces, that’s 300 pieces of litter removed a day. No where near enough, but a start. Every time participation increases, we as a society get closer to holding a negative contribution of litter. So I urge anyone reading this, try collect your three pieces today, you may even find a little inner peace for yourself.

Winding out on a famous quote that works in this context – All it takes for evil [litter] to win, is for good people to do nothing.

An open thought on action.

I had another idea of what I wanted to write today, but this feels like a better rabbit hole to dive down today. After all philosophies and practices I can write about any day, whereas this is an active feeling and acceptance.

I wanted to go out tonight to try meet some new people, meet some potentially new friends, but upon getting back from work, I was just too tired and my body said no. Even on the way home from work I was struggling to find the effort. There are a few reasons that I have allowed myself to feel OK about not going to a meet tonight.

  • My body has actively said it doesn’t want to.

There is a difference between “I can’t be bothered” and “I can’t”. I never used to let myself see the difference, I was either lazy or not, did or didn’t. Had I got home feeling fresh and still not gone because the couch was calling, that would be lazy. Today I came to the realisation that I was burning my reserve energy and it’s a Thursday. That means that  I would be left mentally and physically exhausted with another day of work where I can’t just sleep it off. Burning the candle at both ends is never a good idea. Allowing yourself guilt when you notice that candle burning too rapidly is also not a good idea. Feel free to listen to your body and your heart. They are generally telling you what you need, just listen.

  • Sometimes you have to prioritise.

Without going into too much detail, I need to sit down with some people and have a proper chat. It’s also OK to put little things on the back burner when the important things need that attention.

  • Breakdown the rarity.

This is a weekly event. Next week it will happen again, I can always go in the future. If I actively plan for that to take place I can also make sure I get enough rest, eat enough food and be proactive in ensuring my body has the best shot of seeing a social activity through.

  • Don’t let the past guilt rest on your shoulders.

“This will be another one you miss” was uttered to me. While yes that is true and I have given up hope of going previously, that was in a different mind state. I am actively trying to seek more purposeful decisions, an activity I can admit I haven’t always given proper value. In the past, the couch or a Netflix binge would be enough to turn me around. Now I am actively weighing up the important things. Will this bring me value? Yes. Will it be the best use of my time in the long run? Maybe not. I’m starting to learn that letting the actions of the past find refuge in the decisions of today will help no one. Make informed decisions, if it turns out a decision was wrong – don’t dwell on that; learn why it was a bad decision and avoid making that choice in the future.

Ones and Zeros

I started my journey in the simplest way possible. From the depths of my hip pockets. I wanted to shrink the size of my wallet. Get rid of unused loyalty cards, or business cards I had accepted out of politeness upon my travels. My wallet is for the things I need these days; Money, ID, Bank cards and health insurance.

The more daunting task was the mobile though. The thing with smart phones? They really are smart. Without realising it that little device wriggles its way into your life more and more. Slowly popping up with abundant frequency. Apps we install get permissions to interrupt and shout at us, at all hours of day and night. We go to sleep to the same glow we wake up to. Where to start though? I was never a massive smart phone guy so surely there is nothing that isn’t worthwhile donning my menus and folders?

Well I soon realised how over time, it collects. I started with emails. I had a hard think about work emails. Why can I receive them 24/7?! Work emails can now only be received between 7am and 6pm; a little before and a little after my regular office hours and probably a little later for my early mornings. That was a liberation in itself. To know that once I got home and switched off from work, my phone did too. No more emails I can’t action popping into my evening only to make me more stressed about forgetting to action the thing I had read about seconds before. Now, I get that email at the perfect time, where if it’s important, I can take action immediately.

Apps are a tough one, there are a few that I need on a daily basis, and some that I use infrequently but are valuable. Banking and my work ftp are two examples. What I didn’t need is games I never played, unless I was looking to distract myself. Social media apps I used when I could be actively involved in something else, I wanted to turn to acting rather than distracting. I said goodbye to Facebook and Reddit. I can now only check those websites on my laptop as a personal control. Which conveniently means that if I am watching Netflix or television, I’m no longer juggling two screens at once.

Now for the truly revealing revelation – I don’t miss any of it. My life has infinitely improved now that I have broken the hold of my phone. Notifications other than those for phone and messaging, are removed. Now I can feel assured my phone will only shout at me, if someone wants to talk to me. The positives didn’t end there though. Running out of battery used to be a common occurrence, I blamed my phone for having a poor and useless battery life, yet now I can charge my phone once every two days. Saving my attention and lowering my power consumption.

Reducing your phones ability to creep into daily life doesn’t only improve your own life though. Now that I can happily not glance at my phone, I can be a more productive team mate at work. Rather than scrolling through Facebook in a zombie like stupor during moments of down time. I can ask others if they need help with their jobs, if there’s any way to make their day easier. By rejoining real life I have become a better team member and worker, and in return, those same people are willing to offer me more help when the situations are reversed.

This is easy to try with  no lasting repercussions. It just takes a bit of willpower to not find ways to break the pact with yourself, but it most definitely is worth it.

The Experiment.

2017 marked the moment I took the first step. I decided that rather than sit around, it was time to change the aspects of my life I found less than desirable. Ideologies and philosophies like minimalism and Buddhism had always piqued my interest. So this year I decided rather than sit with one foot in and one foot out. I would experiment by diving head first and exploring exactly what I could unlock about myself.

It seemed I was always too short of time, or my finances were stretched too thin to really explore this idea. So now I will explore taking control; as despite being time poor I always found time to binge watch on Netflix and despite stretched finances I could still find money to buy alcohol. I suppose those would be my first two pacifiers to tackle.

I have a lot of ideas I would like to put into practice this year, and as a way to stay motivated I hope to blog regularly, both to keep myself thoughtful as well as to give me a reference not only to what I was trying but how I felt at the time.

To 2017 and all it has to offer, and to anyone who may join me for the ride, I hope you enjoy reading about this year as much as I enjoyed experimenting throughout it.