A Green Spin

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Productivity over Perfectionism

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I read an article today about James Franco. – [click here]

tl;dr version: The first line of his wikipedia article: “James Edward Franco (born April 19, 1978) is an American actor, film director, screenwriter, film producer, author, painter, and performance artist”, which gives you an idea of just how many things he has achieved so far in life.

James doesn’t sound like the kind of person who is obsessive about getting the best grades, about being the best. He simply wants to do a lot of things, and experience many things. And through doing all of these things, he manages to be insanely successful. As the article says:

“If the work is good,” Franco says, “what does it matter? I’m doing it because I love it. Why not do as many things I love as I can? As long as the work is good.”

People no longer want to be great at one thing. They want to be great at everything. They want to be able to speak different languages, write books, do degrees, act, sing, dance, everything. However, doing too much is overwhelming. I know personally that with so many goals, whole days can be spent lying down thinking ‘what now? what do I do now? how can I do so much? shouldn’t I just give up?’. And this is the point at which many people break off, and really end up not following any of their dreams.

Alternatively, we could take a leaf out of Franco’s book, and work hard and relentlessly, every minute of every day, because we know we don’t have much time on this earth, and we have to follow our passions whilst we’re here.

According to his mother, Betsy, Franco has been this way since he was born. In kindergarten, he wouldn’t just build regular little block towers—he’d build structures that used every single block in the playroom. At night, he would organize his Star Wars toys before he slept. When Franco was 4 years old, a friend of the family died. Betsy gave him the standard Mortality Talk: no longer with us, just a part of lifeyes, but hopefully not for a very long time. Little James burst into tears. He was inconsolable. Eventually, he managed to choke out, between sobs, “But I don’t want to die! I have so much to do!”

Written by Peppidee

June 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm

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What is YOUR passion?

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“I don’t give a damn what you think of me. My clients are the whales and the fish and the seals. If you can find me one whale that disagrees with what we’re doing, we might reconsider.”
— said by Captain Paul Watson, leader of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society which every year sinks more and more whaling ships in a direct attack against whalers.

This quote gets me each and every time. This quote wants to make to get off my ass and get on one of these ships and do everything I can for our planet. This quote makes me angry, and it makes me cry, and it makes me feel, ‘THAT’S the only thing that will work. And it doesn’t matter what people say against this society. This is the only thing that is going to work, and I have to do it, and I don’t care what people think.’

Find your passion. Find what makes you react.

Once you have your passion, ignite this angry, ignite the happiness, the fear, every emotion associated with it. Nurture it, and grow it inside of you.

I first got involved in animal conservation last year, when I was selected to go as a Youth Ambassador for WWF UK to Russia to work at the Youth Tiger Summit. That event in itself was lifechanging, and I knew I had found my passion and my calling in life.

But over the past six months, my passion has dwindled. Real life has started kicking in, and I’ve let it. I’ve let exams and essays get me down. I’ve become so wound up by animal cruelty and the lack of sustainibility in the world that I’ve allowed myself to falter. I’ve let people’s arguments influence me, and worry me. “What if this think this or that about me?” “Is it bad that I’m into animal conservation? Will people judge me?”

Who gives a crap?

I’m sure there’s something inside you as well that is shouting out to be heard; some passion, some love, some desire. For me, I know it’s animal conservation, because I care more about animal needs than human needs, because I would consider my life worthwhile and well-lived if I knew I had saved a single tiger. If I write about animal conservation, my anger kicks in. If I compose music about sustainibility, I get wound up.

That doesn’t mean I’m weird, or that your passion is wrong because it’s different to mine. It means that you have a passion too, and it’s kicking and screaming its way out of you.

Will you let it out?

Written by Peppidee

June 8, 2011 at 5:18 pm

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Do our possessions hold us back?

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Do our possessions hold us back?

I find it very, very difficult to work in my bedroom.

I blame this on many things: the theory that you shouldn’t work in the same room as your bed and leave your bedroom only for sleeping; the fact that I have a tiny laptop which I deem to not be work-conducive; my room is always untidy, etc. etc., and so on.

But since I’ve become involved in the minimalist movement, the items I own have come under great scrutiny. Project 333 has made me purge myself of most of my clothes (but I still have many, many more clothes than 33!), I have ‘digitized’ my important paper documents… but I still feel great dissatisfaction with the items I have. Why is this?

  • They represent ties to the past. Books from childhood. Gifts you’ve never used, but feel bad about throwing away. Emotional attachments. Letters from old friends you haven’t spoken to for five years. Clothes you wore when you were a kid, or when you were thinner or fatter.
  • They represent commitments to money. All those books from university first term that I never read! Gifts that you’ve never used but you know are worth a lot. Investments you made into certain hobbies.
  • They represent unfulfilled dreams.

This final one, I believe, is the crux of it all. I would say at least three quarters of the books on my shelf are still there because I haven’t yet read them, or I feel bad I never read it and now I’m not interested in it. My wardrobe has clothes that I want to wear but don’t look great on me. There’s jewellery I’ve never worn. There are craft-making materials, papers and glues and strings and cords, that I bought during my craft-making era but now am too embarrassed to throw away. There are notebooks I haven’t filled (at least 20). There are paints I haven’t used for years. There are dance shoes and DVDs I don’t use anymore.

If I actually went through my room, and filled up just one box of items that I could take away with me, I think I could easily do it. My camera, my video camera, my laptop, a few excellent books I love, pens and paper, a few notebooks, all my travel kit, my favourite dresses and shirts… and I do this pretty much every time I go abroad. Yet even when I’m abroad, I don’t feel free. You know why? Because I’ve left my room behind me, an almost ‘false impression’ of me.

My room isn’t me, and I want it to be.

What does your room say about you? Could you fill a big box full of your possessions, and be happy with just these?

Written by Peppidee

June 8, 2011 at 4:31 pm

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Why do we write?

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Why do we write?

Is creating an innate desire in everybody?

What’s up with the amount of blogs regarding minimalism?

The more blogs I read about simple living and minimalism, the more I notice that those who are writing blogs – from Castles in the Air to EVBogue to the smaller blogs I read – are those who want to expand their writing to the next level, those who want to be professional writers. Even here I’m being a bit specific, as many bloggers are interested in music, in knitting, in street art – but it all comes down to the same thing. We all want to CREATE.

The question is, is this an innate human desire? Do all humans secretly want to create? I think of people I know as I consider this; one older person who has created their own business, but who I know has always wanted to write but never pursued that dream; another person who is very logical and who desires to work in a setting where they are a cog in the works, but still ‘invents’, still creates through computer programs and through maths, and wants to pursue this; yet another person who wants to be a journalist, yet feels she doesn’t have the skills to get there. The more I think of it, the more I think of friends who want to be writers, musicians, computer programmers – inventors, creators and dreamers all around me. Yet they don’t pursue this. So I think a LOT of people have this desire; if not to create, then at least ‘have’ something of their own, to be proud of something. Maybe it’s part of why our society enjoys having kids; why we enjoy decorating our homes; why we enjoy gardening. All things that personally, I don’t want right now, because I am so focused on my music and on my writing.

I just came across a great post, My Incredibly Selfish Reason for Writing This Blog, which sums up how I feel: “I write what I need to hear”. And this, too, explains the flourish in minimalism and simple living blogs. As the blogger says here, he doesn’t want to be considered a self-help expert (same here!!), but he – I guess – almost needs to help himself. Just like all of us.

The more I read minimalism blogs, the more I think ‘this blogger is writing this over and over again… I’m getting bored… where’s something NEW?’. But through this point of view, I can kind of see why it happens. It’s kind of like the typical simple living blogger is driving it, not just into their readers, but into themselves; and as they continue to drive this into themselves, they continue to develop, and so we see new insights in each blog. It keeps us coming back, as a side effect. We want this constant reminder, just as they need the constant reminder for themselves.

It’s very clever.

And this is why I write my blog, too. I don’t want to self-help anyone, and I’m a little scared of writing sometimes, in case I seem this pompous 20-year-old young adult who has no experience of the world. But in some ways, I’m reassuring myself of what road I don’t want to go down as I get older. I’m reminding myself of what I want to do. And if at the same time, my writing can be interesting and engaging to others, then all the better. If at the same time, my writing develops as a result of being self-reflective – then I’m happy. I write so I can live.

Why do you write?

Written by Peppidee

June 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm

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What the world needs is people who have come alive.

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“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

The world doesn’t need you trying to reach a goal you really don’t care about, just because you feel people will view you highly and be impressed by you, or because you feel you should view their expectations. Everyone is judging you, and you can’t ever get past that. That doesn’t mean everyone actually cares.

The world doesn’t need you trying to conform into the ocean of society, another drop in the ebb and tide. It needs the colourful fish, the leaping dolphins, the shrimps and the sharks and the great whales. The world doesn’t need you to get a credit card and buy a fancy house and own the latest trends in fashion.  You think the world needs that, but you’re wrong.

The world doesn’t need you pretending to be alive. It doesn’t need you to be pretentious and believe you’re better than others. What it needs is you to focus, to do what you really believe in, and commit yourself. Focus and committal are probably the hardest things, because deep down, you actually know who you are and you know what you really want to do.

The world doesn’t need labels. It doesn’t need the people who are the best. It doesn’t need people who are selfless or selfish, good or bad, honorable or evil. Because everyone has a flaw in their selflessness, and everyone has a flaw in their badness. There is no black and white, no best and worst. Don’t let labels tether you. Let go.

Written by Peppidee

June 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm

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How to live – letting go of perfectionism

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Sometimes through the monotony of internet trawling, you come across a really great blog post that makes you tingle and go ‘eureka!’. I thought I’d gather these ideas up, for the sake of fellow perfectionists like me who are struggling in the vast sea of goals, procrastination and conformity!

  • Step 1 – Let go of your goals

Perfectly summed up by Leo Babauta’s The best goal is no goal [click]. Yet it is so damn hard to actually put in action. One thing that helped me think about this was when I was reading Jacques Derrida’s post-structuralist ideas on the metaphysics of presence [click] in Western history and culture. So basically, in the beginning half of the 20th century he wrote about this idea that as a culture we place a LOT of emphasis on presence over absence, or in more basic terms, emphasis on the ‘meaning’ of something, and how we always want to find a meaning behind everything. This is very different to cultures such as the ‘orient’, where another post-structuralist, Roland Barthes, writes about the lack of this meaning (or in posh words, transcendental signifier) when he goes travelling to Japan.

So what am I talking about? Basically, how we as a culture place a hell of a lot of emphasis on goals, meaning and direction in our lives. We never take the time to stand back and let go of it all – things like our old goals to learn French, to learn to play the piano, to travel the world. Yet once we let go of these goals, once we let go of our need for ANYTHING, we FINALLY open our minds up to the idea of the potential we have for each and every day, and how we can use it. Effectively, we get rid of the ‘to-do’ list. Following on from the idea of the ‘to-do’ list…

  • Step 2 – ‘Do it tomorrow’

Personally I found this book by Mark Forster ‘Do it tomorrow’ [click] incredibly useful. The main point you take away from it is the idea of not trying to sabotage your day with a continuous stream of things you need to do (mostly related to the work scenario, e.g. your boss/colleagues asking you to do such-and-such), and instead putting EVERYTHING done on a ‘Do it tomorrow’ list, so you can tackle it the next day. In a work scenario, this is a great idea, and also a good way of tackling e-mails/texts/phone-calls/social media etc. basically all those little things that niggle their way into the ‘priority list’ every day.

You need to read this whole essay to take it all in, but it’s definitely worth it. It’s basically a new way of looking at procrastination, and what I took from this is the usefulness of having an ‘indefinate important task’ at the top of your vague ‘to-do’ list, but then leaving it for weeks/months at a time whilst you do other things instead. It’s good to think of this important task as something that isn’t really necessary for tomorrow, and not something that’s actually a DREAM of yours – for example, don’t put ‘Travel the world’ at the top, because you just won’t do it! Instead, you should put something like getting an essay down for a client, or redecorate your home, or whatever is important but not actually defining to your life and how you want to live it. For me, I tend to put ‘Tidy and declutter my room’ at the top, then go play piano/write songs and stories/do actual uni work instead.

  • Step 4 – ‘Where comfort ends, life begins.’

This quote is a slightly destructured version of “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” (Neale Donald Walsch), rearranged because I think it sounds better that way. Basically, we live in our comfort zone, and we’re not greatly inclined to get out. Food, internet, TV and sleep are all some of our most damaging comforts, that stop us from ‘beginning’ life and taking risks, starting new projects because we’re afraid of failing.

Out of all the above steps, I think this is the hardest by FAR. It involves questioning everything you do. I first heard this quote on a day I was actually decluttering my room for once, and it quickly became the most surreal afternoon ever. I’d walk out of my room to the computer to settle down on Facebook, then turn around midstep because I’d realise I was heading for comfort zone number 1. Then I’d walk downstairs to the kitchen, comfort zone number 2. I was basically walking from one comfort zone to the next all day, and analysing my every step.

Ever wonder where your days go? Probably on one of your little comfort zones, if you’re anything like me. Try analysing your day-to-day actions, and see how often you retreat into your comfort zone. What happens when you step outside the every-day comforts, and look life square in the face?

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth.  Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

  • Step 5 – Create who you want to be. ‘The self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.

Don’t quite agree with this? How about, ‘The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action’. Either way, you’d be inclined to agree that the person you are is made from your choices. Nurture the person you want to be. Let it grow. If you’re into meditation, maybe take a look at this [click]. Who you will be is not inevitable – it will be made from your choices now, today, and every day. Fear must be overcome again and again. Relish it. Breathe it in. Live on it.

Written by Peppidee

May 17, 2011 at 11:33 pm

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All these number challenges…

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The 100 Items Challenge is great, but don’t compare the amount of items you own to someone else. ‘They have 65 items, I need to have less than that!’ – It’s not a competition on how many emotional attachments you can vanquish. Half these people aren’t including toiletries and disposables, food, and things that aren’t ‘personal’ (e.g. household objects, furniture…)

Project 333 is fab, but don’t get rid of everything you own and love to satisfy some mystical number 33 which someone came up with. I NEED my six pairs of shoes, for all different things. I love all of my dresses, and appear at quite a few social events, so I can’t just wear the same 5 dresses on rotation for the rest of my life. I have six different hoodies, depending on whether it’s hot, I’m cycling, it might rain… (And again, look at the exceptions – lounge wear, work out gear, and underwear!) – That doesn’t mean I have a huge attachment invested in them. I travelled to South America with five t-shirts and two trousers last year; only you know your own limits., and whether you need all the clothes you own, or you’re just reluctant to throw them for good.

Don’t get obsessed with the numbers if you can’t get rid of the 34th or 101st item, that’s all I’m saying. Your life; your rules.

Written by Peppidee

March 27, 2011 at 10:27 pm

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