It’s okay to enjoy your work

Depression & Anxiety, Thoughts & Ramblings

Over the weekend I caught up with Chris, the man behind Criss-Fit (follow him on Facebook or Instagram). He recently became a personal trainer, so I wanted to feature him as a creative over on SONZA. I’ll share a link to the whole interview once it’s up, but there was one thing we talked about that I have been working through and would like to put in the public forum.

It’s the idea that if we are doing something we love, we should feel guilty about it. Now, on paper (or rather, on screen) this seems absurd, and yet it’s something I’ve struggled with for a really long time. It has only been in the last year that I’ve actually identified it as an issue and begun to work on it.

Before I started writing this post, I was working on yesterday’s page for the 100 Days Project, and I noticed this feeling of guilt. I put the page aside to write this post, because I think it’s important that we don’t feel like this. I believe that when we are doing things we’re really passionate about, the world is a better place. It’s why I became a teacher, it’s why I share my work, it’s why I try to encourage others, and it’s why I spend my time on things I love and care about.

Last week I spent a whole afternoon making these journals, and it was bliss.

But while I am doing these things, a little voice pops up sometimes and reminds me that other people are slaving away at their desk-job, or walking miles to get barely-drinkable water, or working hard physical labour. How dare I spend my time on something so frivolous and enjoyable as art?

I try to reason with it. I’m doing this project to build my connection with, and to raise awareness of the beauty of our natural world; I’m publishing to inspire children to follow their dreams; I’m interviewing awesome people to raise their profile; I’m sharing my experience of depression and anxiety so people know they’re not alone. But I know that those aren’t really why I’m doing any of it. I’m doing it because it helps me, because the process of creativity is a wondrous experience, and because I love being a part of other people’s transformations.

And I am entitled to make and share my work for those utterly selfish reasons. I am allowed to spend my time doing stuff I love doing (and some things I really don’t like doing). While I still feel responsibility to help people less fortunate than I, the way that those more fortunate than I help me, I am only human, and I am only here for a short time.

There are a few people close to me who have died, in my lifetime. When I look back on why they are so special to me, and why I looked up to them while they were around, it has nothing to do with what they sacrificed for others. What I admired about them was how they lived their daily lives with passion, and how kind they were to others. I loved them for their uniqueness, and even for their ‘flaws’.

I want to end this post with an Instagram post from my friend Amanda, that really struck a chord with me this week: “Be proud of who you are and let it come out in everything you do.”

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The awesomeness that was the Hamilton Zinefest 2017

Events, Zines
hamilton zinefest 2017 zee zr southcombe

Setting up at Hamilton Zinefest

The first zinefest I ever attended was the 2016 Hamilton Zinefest, so it was great to be back at this year’s event. I managed to sleep in, then got ready in a rush, and somehow arrived half an hour early. Yeah, don’t ask. It was definitely a coffee day.

I’m all set up!

What I love most about zinefests, and zines in general, is the creative freedom you get. There’s so little monetary investment that there’s less pressure to make something commercially viable, or mainstream, or even necessarily ‘good’. The room was filled with truly diverse expressions of creativity, and a huge range of people.

What really struck me this year was how incredibly nice everyone was. There was no judgement or comparison. The local school zines were as valued as a professional illustrator’s posters which were as valued as the lady next to me who’d just started drawing (Mini V – you can follow her on Instagram). This is what a real celebration of creativity looks like. More of this please, Universe!

The room begins to fill…

I also loved that, compared to other markets, there was very little emphasis on sales. What we were all there for was to share our work, to invite others to share with us, and to make connections through our zines and conversation. Kudos to the zinefest committee who made this such a successful, seamless day – I am already looking forward to the next one!

Ukulele entertainment

ALL the links:

Two weeks in – Auckland (half) Marathon Training

Depression & Anxiety, Mindfulness & Mental Health, Running

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve signed up to the Auckland Marathon as a ‘Charity Hero’, to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation of NZ. It’s now been two weeks since I started training for the 21km run in October. What have I learnt?

For training, I’m alternating walking and running, with a day or two off. I’ve been keeping it pretty casual, and this worked well for a while. I went from only being able to run 2km (and finding it difficult) to running 4km without trouble.

My best run yet – the views helped! @ Kiwi Esplanade, Auckland.

However, I only got a couple more small runs in after that because I was too sore. I managed to push myself too much, in too short a time period, and my body was not going to let me get away with it! To counter this, I’ve spent some days ‘off’ only walking, and finding yoga routines to help stretch my muscles (see my playlist here). I might also use it as an excuse for a hot bath. To be fair, I did expect this to happen, I just thought it would happen further down the line.

What came as a surprise was how much I enjoy the act of running. I had thought that, like going to the gym, I would appreciate how I feel after a workout. Well, I do, but while I was running along the coast I was elated; lit up. People around me have noticed a change as well, in my general happiness and energy levels as well as my appearance.

So where to next? I’m going to stick to a six days on, one day off schedule, but listen to my body more. I’ll be incorporating more yoga, and doing more squats/stairs to build my quads which can’t handle the jandal right now. My goal is still to get under 30mins by the end of May (see progress here).

I’ve been fortunate to find two running-friendly tracks on the way to my two dayjobs (Kiwi Esplanade and Pakuranga Rotary Walkway). I know I can run anywhere, but it’s the views that keep me going so I’m really grateful for living in a place where views aren’t hard to find πŸ™‚

Shameless self-promotion time:

 

A Simpler Way – tiny changes to move forward in our world

News, Thoughts & Ramblings

I have a vlog that is waiting to be edited and published, but in the interim I want to bring your attention to a documentary which EVERYONE should watch.

Yes, everyone.

It’s about a small group of people who have committed to living directly off the land, in community. They’re buildng their own (tiny) houses with primarily reclaimed materials, and pretty much living waste-free.

I’m not ready to make the sort of change this group has made. Not nearly. But what I love about this doco is that it shows a way forward. It’s not doom and gloom, it’s a feasible solution.

The other thing I like is that there are things we can apply to our own lives. Perhaps we aren’t prepared for radical change – but maybe we can start a vege garden, eat less meat, recycle instead of throwing away, trade our services, buy local… seriously, just watch the doco.

And then make one (tiny) change.

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2017: Projects, not goals.

News, Thoughts & Ramblings

This year (or technically, next year) I’m doing my goals a little bit differently. For the past three years, I’ve set up publishing objectives and schedules. These have been based on the bigger picture of becoming a full-time author. I’ve had spreadsheets and timelines and while it did help me do a lot in a short amount of time, it didn’t allow enough for celebration or changing my mind.

Cause I do change my mind. A lot. The big picture has changed, so the goals need to as well. New ideas, new experiences, improving my skills, mindset shifts… these things happen. And they should happen. But fixed goals and fluid experience do not go hand in hand!

I believe in experimentation, because if we don’t try things how can we possibly know if it resonates with us? 2016 has been trying to teach me that this is okay. I think it has also been trying to teach me that we all contribute the most when we are wholly ourselves; when we are in our element.

My fiction is experimental, my art is experimental, and I have delighted in the experimental nature of zines and paper dying. Why not embrace this, instead of trying beat it into line?
So the big picture has changed from ‘full-time author’ to just being the best version of me that I can; permission to let go.

My projects are:

  • Year one of my post-grad dip in counselling.
  • A picture book The Train to Nowhere that has been waiting for my attention for FOUR YEARS.
  • More (wo)manpower – and MANpower – zines. Spotlight on the New Zealand Arts (SONZA) running regularly.
  • The third annual NZ Young Writers’ Anthology.
  • The first annual Indie Annual .
  • More non-fiction about writing and art, starting with Where Do Ideas Come From? And I am a Writer.
  • More crazy stories in my fiction world.
  • Zines! I’m letting these be whatever they want to.
  • Art. Ditto as per zines.

What’s something you’re looking forward to doing in 2017?