Reflecting on the past 12 months…

So, this post is inspired a little by Estrella’s post on her top five moments of 2013 and a little on today being my birthday. It’s a good day to have a birthday, I think. I like the timing and the day of the year. It really suits me and I enjoy it a lot~ It also means that my Christmas and birthday are over pretty quick and I don’t really have to leave the festive mood once the new year begins…instead, I continue the celebration through to my birthday. One big, long celebration!

Anyway, the point of this post – my top five things in my something-something-th year of life. Here goes:

  1. I lived in Egypt for five months – wow and just WOW!!!!
  2. I travelled to Romania, met Estrella, made a lifelong friend, and was amazed by the country. It is a serious “must go now!” country. Really. I swear I’m not biased. Not a little. (Well, maybe just a *little* teeny bit…)
  3. I was able to seriously indulge in my reading addiction.
  4. I spent some amazing times with my other half. He’s amazing. Truly.
  5. I reconnected with my mother on such a deeper level. So good – so supportive – so beautiful.

It was difficult for me to pinpoint these moments, but they were there among many more moments. As I get older, I realise the value of my relationships and the value of experiences such as travel. I really do. Of course, when I was younger I had many amazing experiences but they were often tainted by following the crowd and not being sure of who I was. Every day I learn a little more about myself and I love myself a little more {in a deeply, honourably good way}. I surprise myself, too – both good and bad surprises. But it’s all part of what makes me who I am. And I love that.

Birthday roses

While this may not be the best photo, it is one full of meaning. Fresh roses picked from the garden at early-o’clock this morning especially for me. They smell divine and have been keeping me company all day while I work. ❤

mind-full-ness

In 2013, I undertook a project where I tried to take one photo per day to share with my family and friends through Instagram and Facebook. While I did not quite achieve doing it every day (I missed probably 20 days – mostly at the start when I wasn’t sure what I was doing!), I achieved much more than I ever thought I would. It started out as a simple way to keep in touch in my year of adventure, but it became a task in mind-full-ness. Yes, I write it like that: I know the convention is “mindfulness” but I find that my mind has become very aware and very full of the world around me. Every day I see more things – sometimes everyday things, sometimes special things – and I appreciate more in my life. Sometimes it’s the simple things such as a beautiful flower; other times it is an experience that is overwhelmingly beautiful or sad or loving or engaging. But the point is that I see more than I ever have before. I take less for granted and when I think I can’t find a photo for a day, I realise that I have a lot to be thankful for and that perhaps I wasn’t as present as I wanted to be during the day. This means that I sometimes needed to hunt for a photo that could represent my day. Other times, I have so many photos that I find it incredibly difficult to choose just one – but I only choose one.

Later in 2013, I found a wonderful article written by Nic MacBean titled Snap happy: bestselling author Matthew Johnstone finds peace through photography. This article helped me put my project into clearer words and to realise what I was trying to do with it. It also gave me another book to find and read! (Note: I love books – I can’t get enough of them – more about my year in reading in a post to come.) However, being able to articulate why I am taking photos and why I want to do it every day has been enormously beneficial in understanding my motivations and intentions for myself – something deeper than just sharing images from my year of adventure – something more basic in understanding myself and my life.

Here are some of the highlights from my year of adventure, mind-full-ness, and understanding.

a beautiful flower

beauty

a sad experience

a sad experience

loving experience

a loving experience

an engaging experience

an engaging experience

a beautiful experience

a beautiful experience

…these are just a few of my favourites – you can see more on my Instagram account: http://instagram.com/tabras {shameless plug – I know!}. I intend to continue to share one photo per day throughout 2014 as well, even though my “year of adventure” is over and I’m “back to reality”, as such. Who says we can’t play with reality and enjoy what we do? 😉

Inspiration vs. Motivation

Inspiration and motivation – I have thought these were the same and not bothered to interrogate my own understandings of their inherent nature and what they truly mean. This is odd for me – I’m usually a “word” person (read: grammar geek) and I like to know the subtle differences between words and when it is more appropriate to use one over another. But I have never thought deeply about this pair of words, together or separate. Besides, everyone knows what they mean – they are everyday words. I know that sometimes they are used as synonyms for each other, but I still haven’t defined or delineated them well. That is, until I read the start of a great post by Nerd Fitness. (Yes, it’s nerdy; it’s also got some great writing and *inspirational* stories!) In essence, my take home message was this:

Be motivated by anyone, be inspired by reality. {tweet me}

Let’s go back to definitions, though, and get a foundation from which to build our understandings.

in·spi·ra·tion  n.
1a. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.
1b. The condition of being so stimulated.

mo·ti·va·tion n.
1a. The act or process of motivating.
1b. The state of being motivated.
2. Something that provides an inducement or incentive.

When I look at these words in the cold light of a dictionary, they are starkly different: one is about personal enjoyment and engagement without seeking a reward or benefit; the other is about a reward or a lure to make someone do something. Wow. Just think about that.

One is from an intrinsic internal place; the other is external and requires something tempting. Black and white. Open and closed. On and off. Opposites.

Questions: Why do we so often interchange these words or not recognize the differences that are inherent in their meanings? Have we become so desensitized by the media, the pack mentality, the global grab that we cannot distinguish between these two anymore? Or is it just me?

The difference between these concepts is astounding. Going back to my take home message from Nerd Fitness’s post – be motivated by anyone, be inspired by reality – I didn’t realize it at the time, but at a subconscious level I understood. Now, it’s time for me to raise my awareness to a conscious level. Two questions (from Nerd Fitness) prompted my own introspection and interrogation:

What drives me daily to be better?

  • My desire to have my dream life that I have built inside my head based on others’ dreams and perceptions of “happiness”: buying a home, having a family, being stable, being “fit”, being “successful”, being “happy”.

From where do you get your inspiration?

  • My friends and my family: they have all had their own struggles and weaknesses (as we all do, sometimes even more), but they have never let those negatives stop them. They continue to achieve, continue to dream, continue to do. I admire every one of my family and friends; they are amazing people. (Yes, I am *that* lucky!)

What about you? What drives you every day to be better? Where is your inspiration? Share with us in the comments below~

supporting you

How can I support you when you won’t listen?
How can I support you when you don’t want to know?
How can I support you when you ignore me?

I want to support you; I want to be your rock; I want to be “there” for you. I’m here – right beside you – wanting to give you what you need right now. But you don’t want it; you don’t want to hear; you don’t want to know. You’re just too angry, too upset, too annoyed. What can I do?

I can wait for you. I will be here, waiting. I am here now and I will be beside you always. I am waiting: waiting for you to come back to me – waiting for you to be available – waiting for you to calm down.

I want to hold you and tell you that it’s all a mistake. I want to whisper in your ear that life goes on. I want to hold your hand, look into your eyes, and say “It will be okay”. I want to reassure you that this happened for a reason, that it was what needed to happen so that you can grow, that it is the right option right now.

You don’t want to hear this; you only see it as a mistake, a deliberate attempt to ignore you, a perfect lie. You don’t see it from their view: you don’t know their rules, their obstacles, their ignorance. You don’t want to like them – you want to hate them.

I know you love me, but shutting me out doesn’t help. You know I won’t go away – I’ll be here.

I’m here.

Waiting.

I want to make pretty things…

That’s what I want to do. I want to make pretty things. Pretty things like beautiful prose, lovely jewellery, and cute teddy bears to warm people’s hearts. I used to be so creative with my life – making things, designing rooms, painting pictures – but I’ve lost myself in the “corporate” world where there is only pressure to perform, to get to the next level, to do even better than before. I’m lost because I lost time to be creative and if I had the time, I had lost the energy to let my mind be creative. I love my “corporate” work, but I miss being creative. I miss making pretty things – I want to make pretty things again.

This year I have a chance to change my life; I have a chance to make pretty things. If I make pretty things and I work out how I can make it part of my life, I think this year is a win. But I haven’t made progress just yet; I have pretty things to be made – I just have lost my time a little with the rush and urgency of surviving here. I want to reclaim time to make pretty things and stop “wasting” time doing those things that suck my time and energy but don’t produce what I want them to produce.

I guess this is kind of a reorienting idea; I want to do my life differently and change what I do. If I want to leave the “corporate” world, then I need to make this year count and I need to use my time more wisely. I want to reinvigorate my passion for creation and for making pretty things. I want to reclaim what my soul is and what it desires to be. I want to become more of me.

Cluj Botanic Gardens: Pretty things

Sometimes It’s Overwhelming.

Sometimes it’s all so overwhelming – the thought of everything I have to do before the deadlines. Sometimes I become debilitated because there is so much to do. What sane person would try to fit all of this into one day, one life? I keep reminding myself that I need balance – but when it comes to it, I am exhausted. Exhausted by everything – exhausted because I can’t stop – not now, not yet, but soon. Soon, I tell myself, soon. Just one more thing, one more email, one more job on my list… Suddenly, the day is gone and I wonder where it went. I make choices not to do something that I really want to do; why? I really want to do these things, so I need to make time. Starting now. Right now. (I hope!)

A clean slate.

The Question: What would you be more of if you let go of the past?

I’m trying this one. I want to work out what is holding me back from my potential. I know I can do this and I know I can do it well. But something stops me. Continually. There’s moments when I can say “Well, just do it already!” and I will start to do it. Then I get distracted or have to do something else that cannot wait. Then I lose the thread again. I look for it everywhere, but to no avail. So what is really holding me back?

This burning question has been burning in me for a while now. I keep coming back to “…but there’s nothing in my past that’s holding me back! I have no regrets and I love who I am, and how I have come to be!” But something is holding me back. Two weeks ago, I think I found out what it might be. It might be fear of success. That’s right – fear of success, not failure. This realisation made me start to think again. Am I fearful of success? What happened after the last time I was truly successful? Let me tell you. I burned out. I crashed. I couldn’t do what they asked (and expected) of me. I bombed out so hard that it’s taken me at least a year to recover. (Yes, a year is not that long, but in my life, it’s painfully long. Let me digress for a moment. Imagine being separated from your loved one for an entire year because some government official wrote a silly sentence that meant that everything was not “safe” anymore despite the world around them being safer than ever before. It’s like weather forecasters who don’t look out the window to see the sunshiny beautiful day, but would rather imagine the rain and create the sounds of the rain. Being separated because of one person’s introverted, convoluted view on the situation. Frustrating. It’s like that.)

So, if I look back into my past and see that I have a fear of success and this is holding me back, what can I do to make this change? What would I be more of now if I let that go? What would I be more of?

I would be more of:

  • joyfulness in writing
  • happiness in living
  • confidence in understanding
  • security in loving
  • success in being me.

Not a long list; a long list would not be my reality. I am happy with who I am; I have no regrets; my life has shaped me in ways that I don’t always understand or appreciate at the time, but I love it now. If not for my past, then I would not be who I am today. I love who I am and who I am becoming. For now, though, it’s time for me to face my fear of success. And just succeed anyway.