On the Smugness of Minimalists

I’m in a slightly ranty mood, so take from this post what you will!

I have stuff. And I like all of it. I’m not a hoarder in the sense that I keep absolute rubbish, but I do get sentimental about things. I come from a family of hoarders, so in my defence, I never had a chance.

I get that energetically, it’s better to have less ‘stuff’. To have a clear space is to have a clear mind, and I have to say, every time I watch a decluttering program (I do love Marie Kondo!) I have the urge to clean, tidy and purge my stuff. And some things have improved – my drawers contain all Konmari style folded clothes now, and have done for months. But some things don’t change.

And one of those things is, I like my stuff.

I’m not just a writer. Or even just a reader. I have a LOT of interests and hobbies. I knit, crochet, scrapbook, sew and create all sorts of crafty things. I love stationery (washitape is my current addiction) so I have a lot of papers, pens, stickers, notebooks etc. I run my own business, so I have stock, packaging, and equipment like lighting etc for filming videos.

And you might be reading this, thinking – so what? Why is this an issue? Well, the issue is, I don’t own my own home, and in the last 12 years, the longest I have stayed anywhere is my current home for the last 13 months. So I have moved, a LOT, and every time, I get so many comments from people on just how much stuff I have. Yet I bet any of them would struggle to move their belongings every few months!

I honestly do wish I could be minimalist, and believe me, I have done energetic work on having too much stuff. But the things is, I love the things I own. In the words of Marie Kondo – they bring me joy.

What doesn’t bring me joy is having to pack them up and move them all the time! So of course, the easy solution is to have a permanent home. But unless a magical unicorn that poops gold bars drops out of the sky right now, that’s not really an option.

There’s not really a point to this post, I was just feeling ranty because many minimalist people seem so smug about not having so much stuff, and to be honest – if I were minimalist, I’d probably be smug too. It does seem like an easier way of life!

But until I find the magical minimalist pill, or a gold bar pooping unicorn, I guess I better just get used to packing a lot of boxes…

(This image may seem completely random, but it shows one of the many craft projects I have done in my life and had a fun quote on it!)

Comparison – The Thief

Roosevelt said that comparison is the thief of joy, and I have to say, I quite agree.

It’s a completely different world for authors right now, to just a mere ten years ago, and now, it feels like we should be producing at least ten books a year, to keep up with reader demand. Gone are the days where you could take several years to write a book and hope to do well.

Since I began publishing properly in 2011, I have published at least 2 books a year, and I now have 16 books available. Quite an awesome accomplishment, but instead of revelling in the joy of what I have created, I find myself looking at authors who have published 50 or 60 books in that same amount of time, and wondering why I have been so lazy in comparison.

Then I saw the posts about the latest plagiarism scandal. It seems that a bestselling author in Brazil has been taking chunks of other authors’ work, and giving it to ghostwriters on Fiverr and then publishing what they’ve cobbled together and making a mint from it. She has a large list of books available, and it would seem that none of her material belonged to her.

Which made me wonder, how many of the authors with massive output are actually writing it all themselves? Or even using original material?

And somehow, this made me stop comparing myself to them. Because I know that I write every word of my books. And I know that I only write books that turn up and annoy me until I write them. And that it’s actually quite realistic to write and publish two or three books a year, when you take into account the editing and proofreading, publishing and marketing.

So although I am quite upset for these authors who have had their work ripped to bits and made into bad books that have made thieves a lot of money, I am also grateful to now have been released from this comparison game, and I plan to revel in the joy of each creation, knowing that I am producing work that I am proud of, and that readers will love, and that is wholly my own.

Do you compare yourself or your creativity or your life to others? Do you think that you should be further along, or richer, or better, because you look at what other people are doing?

Let me know in the comments.

The Shack

The other night I snuggled down with my latest sewing project and watched The Shack. I had read the book many years ago, and the story had always stayed with me. Family go on camping holiday, dad’s attention is diverted for a few minutes, youngest child goes missing, her clothing is found and she is presumed dead. The father, who is distraught, visits the shack where her clothing was found, and has an experience that changes his life forever.

The film is beautifully acted and shot, and although it has religious tones to it, it is more on the spiritual than dogmatic side. By the end of it, I had big, hot tears soaking into my jumper, my sewing forgotten on my lap. The film addresses the ultimate question, something I have been struggling with recently, which is –

Can we truly forgive those who have hurt us, or the one we love?

Can we truly show them compassion, understanding and even love?

Watching The Shack helped bring me closure on a situation with someone, helped me to forgive them and let them go, and I find that yet again, I have found a movie that is not simply just a piece of entertainment, but an instrument of life change.

I wrote a post a while ago about my favourite spiritual movies, and I think this one has just become my number one.

Have you read or watched The Shack? What are your thoughts? Have you forgiven anyone who has hurt you?

Autumnal Faerie Photoshoot

I’ve always been fascinated by Autumn. The beauty that nature creates from what is essentially the death of its bounty, astounds me. I think it’s my favourite season, especially as I have experienced the colours of New England in the Fall, which was incredible. If you have never seen Vermont or Boston in October/November, put it on your bucket list – it’s a must see.

Anyway, it felt like it was time to take some new author photos, as my last ones were taken in Summer 2016, in various places across the States, and I like to take new ones every year.  I decided to do some Autumnal ones, and went on an adventure with two Faeries, into the local woods. I may have added a few magical elements…

As always, would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

 

Famous Banana Pancake Recipe

I warned you I would start posting recipes, didn’t I? Well, this is a special recipe, because I’m quite famous for it! It’s ludicrously simple and incredibly yummy, and is gluten-free and vegan too!

To make it a tiny bit more interesting, I have done it as a photo recipe. Enjoy! (let me know if you try it and love it!) It make about 3 small pancakes. I have a tiny one-egg frying pan which is perfect 🙂

Ingredients! (Choc spread optional, leave it out to make vegan, obviously)

 

Mash the banana with a fork

 

Until it looks like this

 

Add some gluten free self raising flour (or normal flour if you're weird)

Add some gluten-free self-raising flour (or normal flour if you’re weird)

 

Mash the flour into the banana

Mash the flour into the banana

 

Keep adding flour and mashing it in until the mixture is so thick the fork stands up (or you get bored of mashing)

Keep adding flour and mashing it in until the mixture is so thick the fork stands up (or you get bored with mashing)

 

Add some water this was too much water, add a small amount at a time)

Add some water (this was too much water, add a small amount at a time)

 

 

 

 

Mixey mash the water in until it looks lumpy and runny like this.

Mixey mash the water in until it looks lumpy and runny like this.

Put some coconut oil in the pan and let it heat up a bit

Pour some mixture in and cook on very low heat until it starts bubbling then flip it  (if you have done a very thick one, then you may need to flip it while it's still runny on the top)

Pour some mixture in and cook on very low heat until it starts bubbling then flip it (if you have done a very thick one, then you may need to flip it while it’s still runny on the top)

 

mmmmmm

mmmmmm

 

Add favourite toppings, then consume.

You’re welcome! Oh and if you want to make enough for friends, simply add more bananas and more flour and more water. Yeah, it’s that scientific… you could add chocolate powder to the mix too…

Where Do Our Ambitions Come From?

This post wasn’t on my list to write, but I just had a realisation about twenty minutes ago, which I needed to write about.

Do you know where your ambitions came from? Do you know why you wanted to do the work you do? Have the relationships you have? Why you love some things and hate others? Most people would say that our conditioning and programming comes mostly from our family and from teachers and friends who are around us when we’re growing up. That’s why we end up dating replicas of our parents, because it’s what we know.

Well I just realised that my desire to have my own business, and my love of stationery and packing up goods into boxes and sending them out, came from a movie.

Yes, that’s right. A movie. And they say that media doesn’t have that much impact on us? The movie was my favourite, I have no idea how many times I watched it, but I know it was many times. It was called Baby Boom. It was about a high-powered business woman who ends up with a baby girl after her cousin dies, and who ends up leaving her job in New York and moving to Vermont, where she ends up starting her own baby food business.

Baby-Boom-Movie-Poster-1987Thinking about it, that may have been the beginning of my love of New York and New England too…

Anyway, my favourite parts of the movie were when her business is taking off and she is sending out jars of the baby food in brown boxes with the custom Country Baby label on them. I remember being fascinated by the idea of running a business, and I remember wanting to do that myself.

Now of course, I may have still wanted to do that, whether I had watched that movie or not, but it makes you wonder if it wasn’t that movie that planted the seed in my mind.

Was my interest in aliens and ghosts started by watching Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, ET and Ghost? Was my love of fantasy and sci-fi started by watching the Goonies, the Neverending Story, Hook or Back to the Future? Was it all the many movies I watched set in America that created my love of the US and created my desire to visit there and even live there?

I have no way of knowing the answers to those questions, but it does make you wonder how much of our lives are shaped by the media that we consume at a young age, and it makes me wonder how kids now will turn out in years to come, with the sheer volume of media they are exposed to. A few 80s and 90s movies are nothing compared to the movies, TV shows, games and YouTube videos that are available to watch now.

Just something to ponder, I didn’t have any conclusion to make from this realisation, I just wanted to share it! And if you’re wondering why I suddenly has this realisation, it’s because Baby Boom is currently on Netflix!

 

How Time Flies!

12914843_10153321894867163_755225151_oFive years ago today, myself and my ex-partner’s three kids buried four jars around the garden, containing notes and drawings and things that represented our lives in that moment in time. We then drew a treasure map, and decided that we would dig them up on the 26th March 2016.

 

The weather is terrible, but we went out in the rain in our wellies with a spade, and Luc and I dug up our capsules. The girls will be around later next week, so they will dig theirs up then.

 

 

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12904006_10153321893472163_1848713509_oMine was easy to find, as I had tucked it into the hollow of a tree, and then placed a tribal metal face to protect it.

 

 

 

12903753_10153321893162163_1839105323_oLuc’s was a little more interesting to find! We knew which tree it was, and roughly where, but in no time at all, the spade hit a rock. A giant rock. That didn’t move. A little bit confused, we dug around it, and gradually it started moving.

 

 

 

 

 

12919574_10153321892287163_1116490572_o12899411_10153321891997163_1771774849_oAll the while, we were questioning whether we really would have placed a giant rock over the jar! We had to get a crowbar in the end, to help us ease the rock out, which had actually become attached to the tree root! We managed to lift it out (how we put it in there five years ago, I have no idea) and then with a little more digging. we found Luc’s jar. Phew!

 

 

 

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Muddy and wet, we hosed the jars off, and then came back in to reveal the contents. Luc was only seven years old then, so his jar contained adorable drawings of the things he liked at the time. And a message from his sister!

 

 

 

 

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My jar contained lots of bits, including three lucky stars I had tucked tiny notes into, a haiku, an affirmation card, my lucky golden cat, an almondy tart label, (I loved it!), a Lindt white chocolate wrapper, the February calendar, and a lucky penny!

 

12919542_10153321887367163_173686854_oI also had a note in there about me at that time as well as some pretty wise advice to my 32-year-old self! The date on the note is the 27th February, because that’s when we created the time capsules, but we didn’t bury them until the 26th March.

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Some of my predictions have come true, when we did this in 2011, I had yet to publish any books, and wasn’t anywhere near being a well-known author!

Would highly recommend doing this, especially with kids, as five years is a long time, and it’s fun to look back at what they loved! When creating it, they might not understand why it’s fun or important, but when they dig it up, it’s like time travelling back to that moment.

Just don’t place massive rocks on top that will get entangled in tree roots!