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We cannot escape ourselves

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are you right? or wrong?

Years ago, I was very concerned about being “right”. Now I am not remotely concerned about being wrong, feeling wrong or people thinking I am wrong. Or being right.

I still remember the shock of listening to what John Gray said years ago about letting go of a need to be ‘right’. Have you done his clenched fists exercise? I love that. I just tried to find it online for you to no avail.

I think I saw him do it on Oprah about 15 years ago. The idea is you think about something that’s bothering you and clench your fists rigidly while repeating “I am right” – then attempt to unclench your fists. Have a go now. It’s weirdly difficult to uncurl your control-freaky, angry/frustrated-filled fingers.

Maybe it’s a hangover from school days or a spin on trying to control an unpredictable world but adults seem to have a perverted yearning to be “right”. Children don’t have it so much.

Who cares if you’re “right” or “wrong”? You’re not at school. There is no exam. You will not be punished for being ‘wrong’. Nor get a prize for being ‘right’. {And it’s only you who is defining.}

Maybe you don’t even know you have a need to be right…? Check in with your body and release any muscular tension you find, just quietly.

With your hands relaxed and not clenched in a furious fist, (you’ll notice a surprising number of people walking about with at least one fist clenched) it is so much easier to be flexible, content and be fine with being wrong {but bear in mind, I am often wrong…}.

 

Image of gorgeousness, “Creative Life” borrowed from Amanda Cherie of hellocherie – buy a print here.

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Bring happiness and hope to hundreds of strangers


Today we are on a mission to create happy moments for strangers which will last right through summer.

We will be planting sunflower seeds all down the wire fence of two city wasteland areas near our home. And in several weeks time, there will appear seedlings and shoots followed by giant sunflowers smiling at everyone who passes and thinks, “how did those sunflowers get there?”.

And this simple thing will bring smiles to hundreds of people and perhaps the wildly surprising sight of giant sunflowers, heavy with yellow petals and seeds will bring unexpected hope to fatigued minds.

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere get yourself a pack of Sunflower seeds for mere cents / pence, find a piece of twig to use as a dibbet (thing to make a hole in the ground for your seed) and plant your seeds in forgotten, abandoned or neglected areas. Plant either in the rain or after the rain when the soil is still wet. You will be surprised at the *thrill* guerilla gardening brings.

Sunflowers, flower of children and simplicity, bees and butterflies, are easy to grow. Of course you might want to check the tiny plants now and again so you can feel your heart swell with the growing seedhead. If you plant your seed next to a wasteland fence you can tie the growing stems to the fence to secure them to stand tall.

I’m sure you can see that quite apart from the simple joy you will bring to others, you are making a soulful statement about bringing simple joy to the world and actively planting seeds of happiness in those forgotten, abandoned or neglected areas of your heart.

Guerilla gardening for the soul, planting seeds of boldness, you watching your happiness grow in the sunshine, giant sunflowers staked against wasteland fences,. It’s a beautiful thing.

 

Image “enjoy the simple things” borrowed from Parada Creations. Available to buy.

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Imperfect, it’s the perfect way to be

Have you noticed a growing backlash against the idea of “perfection”? And a growing appreciation of the imperfect? A move towards hand-stitched, hand-turned, hand-made rather than mass-produced, machine-made? Lots of people on Tumblr stating “I am imperfect” or “my imperfections are what make me me” in their bios?

I thought at first it was just me who yearned for, let’s just call it ‘the human touch’ for now in goods and clothes as well as service. I thought I was being slightly odd in, for example, asking the man selling Christmas trees for an imperfect, “more natural-looking” tree. He was surprised, I guess most people want the most ‘perfect’-looking, idealized tree and the growers attempt to grow that kind of ‘perfect’ tree.

{He wanted to give me a destined-for-the-skip “reject” for free but I gave him £7.50 for it. Ironically, it was magnificent: the bushiest, straightest most idealized Christmas tree I’ve ever had!} Imagine how many trees were chipped as not perfect-enough to be offered for sale…?

I’ve been thinking about how the media and advertising has for decades attempted to persuade us that we should look for, and expect, perfection in all things – that we should indeed aspire to “perfection” – the ‘perfect’ recipe solution to your friends-for-lunch dilemma(!) – the ‘perfect’ sauce for pasta, the ‘perfect’ coat for a night out and so on.

The other side of this is that as consumers we’ve expected perfection in the things we buy – from perfectly-shaped vegetables to perfectly-finished clothes and household linens. We’d throw our arms up in horror if we paid big bucks for something only to find a tiny flaw. Why? Because we’ve bought-into the promise of perfection.

We’ve bought-into it so much that our expectations of everything from the things we buy to our own selves, our homes and the behavior of everyone around us are SKY-HIGH.

No wonder we are so often disappointed in life!

Moreover, manufacturers closing the vicious circle of create-desire-for-perfection-in-people by giving us perfectly-produced high street goods has also meant enormous sacrifices have been made by factory workers in poorer countries who, as you know are possibly children and definitely vulnerable members of society. Consider also the villages soaked in pesticides – pesticides used to protect crops so they are ‘perfect-looking’ and will therefore sell.

Supplying nothing but perfect items has meant shocking wastage – imperfect goods, including garments are thrown into landfill.

It should be acknowledged that some companies including one particular high street store do try to alleviate the waste issue by cutting their brand label off the garments they don’t feel are perfect enough to offer for sale under their brand, but which have passed through the manufacture quality control and transit processes, by donating these brand-new and usually only marred in tiny, unnoticeable ways to charity shops.

And now we’re becoming bored of perfect and longing for something more ‘real’ looking, the laws in the UK changed last year so that food producers are able to offer ‘imperfect’ shaped fruit and vegetables  through supermarkets as they used to do, and have continued to do at farmers markets and such-like, rather than get dumped because they don’t look like an idealized notion of what perfect fruit and vegetables should look like.

As consumers demanding and expecting perfection, we’re funding and perpetuating a system that is on is knees trying to produce perfection and in doing so having to cut corners in all kinds of saddening ways to bring that perfection to us; in costs/cheap labor (making up for the waste of imperfect items not being put up for sale) through to investing in new technologies in an attempt to create a completely, laughably unnatural state of ‘perfection’.

I’ve even noticed people selling handmade goods attempting to make them look perfect, like they were made in a factory. WTF? This is a completely upside-down idea! We would feel much better embracing our own handwork than attempting to replicate a human-less factory look.

I think this system is going to implode. Such levels of perfection at such cost to fulfil an empty promise of perfect is not sustainable.

What really bothers me though is this sinister idea that perfection is a good thing and that everything, including us, might want to aspire to being perfect. The inference throughout western society is that we strive to be ‘perfect’.

No wonder plastic surgery is on the increase, no wonder so many people feel they are falling short of the mark; physically, emotionally, mentally. With our society actively providing so much ‘perfection’ and creating a sense that this perfection is in some way normal – and with so little tolerance of human mistakes – no wonder we feel a sense of not-good-enough followed through with a lack of self-confidence, self-value and self-love.

Being imperfect is being honest-to-goodness natural. Imperfection is beautiful, it’s human, it’s also divine. In fact, it’s the perfect way to be.

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How feathered is your nest this winter?

OK, it’s been nearly two months now that I’ve been like a coiled spring ready to unleash massive de-cluttering energy on a storage cupboard and the dastardly drawers of papers.

I am so ready. Primed, even. Excited. For even more emotional support there has been the turn of the year – a seemingly made-to-measure time for this kind of purging.

I’ve occasionally become a tsunami tidal wave of pent-up decluttering energy by re-reading motivational decluttering hand-holding posts from wonderful Miss Minimalist and Mnmlist (Leo Babauta). And yet my tidal wave is stuck at its peak, not washing all over the cupboard and papers drawers.

Why?

I realize now that as I’ve stripped away a lot of things over the past couple of years, I’ve found myself more susceptible to natural forces. In the sweet vulnerability of less, I am more in tune with natural daily and seasonal rhythms. And more affected by them.

My trapped tidal wave of tension comes, I think, from two opposing forces: 1) an intellectual and emotional desire and need to purge, de-clutter, create new spaces  and 2) a forceful, primal urge that I think we all have towards storing supplies, bundling up and feathering our nests during winter.

You don’t need to read Children of the Forest to know this is a powerful force.

The urge to feather our nests for winter. We bundle our bodies up with layers and layers of clothing, scarves, thermal socks, wooly hats, sheepskin coats to protect from the cold and meanwhile we also surround ourselves with all kinds of clutter in a primordial need to cosset ourselves and cozy our home.

If you were an Inuit (perhaps you are – hello!) you’d be wanting to fill that igloo up with warm materials as much as possible. And so in wintertime there’s a natural inclination towards bundling up which opposes an intellectual and emotional need to declutter for the (humankind created) calender new year.

Some of us, well me anyway, have strong bear and/or hedgehog hibernation inclinations and oh gosh, this is challenging to work against no matter how psyched we are to CLEAR EVERYTHING OUT for the New Year, take advantage of the timing to STRIP AWAY UNNECESSARY and OUTMODED people, possessions and passing whims, CLEAR THE DECKS for the arrival of new, unlimited opportunities and ways of being in the new year.

Perhaps the solution is to put yet another sweater on and work fast, like squirrels do between snowstorms. And be pleased that we have so many feathers in our nests – so many, in fact, we don’t need as much. Let’s remember there are many others with tattered nests who could use some of our nesting materials. That helps me to share my store of winter supplies, maybe it helps you too.

Image Birds Nest, Fine Art Photograph borrowed from Judy Stalus. Visit her Etsy shop to buy Judy’s stunning fine art prints.

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