BeautyScope 383: Leafy atmosphere

these colours, shapes and textures
drifted across my lens
and made me fall in love
with the world
a little bit more

Leaving social media

Subtitled: Stop reading about others' lives and start living your own!

Recently I left Facebook and Instagram...again.
This is probably not news to most of you.
However I thought I'd share what it has felt like on the other side.

The main reason I did the big leap is because I found myself very close to depression, if not in it.
I constantly had unexplained feelings of sadness which wouldn't go away.
Being the creative person I am, I wondered if my lack of creating could have some part in this.
But I found my headspace empty of ideas and motivation.

When I really sat down to examine it, I realised my mind and time were taken up with following others' lives and commenting on their problems and triumphs. Even the groups that I love and were the reason for returning to Facebook this time, were taking up more of my headspace than I wanted, and weren't delivering enough in return. I was looking madly for inspiration in the online world when I realised I should be looking within myself.

Me on my seat at Dolphin Beach

But to pull the plug was a very drastic step, and I procrastinated thinking with a little more will power and organisation I could manage it. I tried rearranging my apps to folders and different screens to remove the temptation to just check in one more time. I tried unfollowing so I didn't receive things in my feed that made me feel depressed. I tried restricting my online time to certain hours of the day.
But still the feelings of sadness persisted, and my kids started noticing.

Alarm bells ringing!!

So the only other thing I could think of to do was to pull the plug. I did worry that my work online would go unnoticed again. Who would read my blog posts and see my YouTube videos? But I decided too much was at stake, and I'd just have to trust that the people that needed to would find their way here. 

My first step was to remove the FB and IG apps to see how that felt. When I took this step I felt such a rush of relief I knew I was on the right track. Of course I then had to take the time to politely say goodbye, so I had to reinstall them, and wait around for a few days until the replies rolled back in! Because I am a polite person like that.

The upshot of this rather confusing account is that my feelings of sadness have gone! YAY!

One of the creative pursuits I have embarked on has been to make a dress out of an old tablecloth and t-shirt offcut(see above) This tablecloth was one used at our wedding that had developed a huge stain and hole in the middle. So I trimmed the hole to make shoulder straps and stepped into it to make a handkerchief hem skirt. The base of a t-shirt I turned upsidedown to make the bodice. I had previously dyed them in some natural dyes, so that is why they suggested themselves to me as partners. I love wearing it, and it will be very cool in summer. Here I am wearing it.

Other creative projects have been to:
Make a pair of shorts out of an old sheet (in process)
Mend a dress with holes with boro mending (in process)
Mend various other boring projects on the pile. (By the way, boro mending is surprisingly strong. I mended the crotch in a pair of jeans with it and it withstood a trip camping. I suppose it was used by  Japanese workers so it would have been strength tested!)
Join another choir. This time I am returning to my roots rejoining a singing group run by my former singing teacher.
Start gardening for the season, putting out a few new plants to fill the huuuuge gaps in our massive garden.
Convert the old spa sitting dead in the corner of our backyard into a fishpond. (in process) This one is a huge boon to my soul.

Note wooden floating sculpture (offcut from Miles' gun making project). The fish love to hide under it until we get some water lilies.

My soul has become more soothed and my mind feels emptied and stiller since I removed all the other (wonderful) voices.
I am able to take time to assess my surroundings, spend time in nature, and be inspired by nature's social media.

Tuross Heads

I do think this is a particular problem for my personality type. I am a sensitive old thing, and take on all the wonderful and not so wonderful feelings around me. Although I work hard at different techniques to stay grounded and present, and try to shield myself from others' angst by putting up boundaries, I must admit I'm not very good at it.

Miles at Dolphin Beach (don't jump in!) Isn't that the most gorgeous wave?!

When I received an email from IG about comments that had been left on my wall I realised I had left things incomplete so I went to look. While I was there I started reading posts and could feel the stress rising in my body again so I quickly backed away and hopefully closed down my site and email subscription properly this time. But it was an interesting exercise to confirm my decision.

I must admit to missing the lovely groups I joined, which is why I went back to FB this time. And I miss the little day to day connections with my friends. But I don't miss the pull on my time and my mind, and the sadness that accompanied it for whatever reason.

So the social media world will have to get along without me. I am still active on Pinterest and YouTube.

Speaking of YouTube, here is a creation I made recently. It is a compilation of fun moments on the beach I haven't used yet, set to some pretty music. I hope you enjoy it.

til next time,
keep on creating!
Jazzy Jack

BeautyScope 382: Magpie villain

Photo and story idea by Aiden Brack
the evil nemesis
that started
all the trouble

BeautyScope 381: Magpie warrior

Photo and story idea by Aiden Brack
the mighty hero returns
after saving the world
from a deluge

BeautyScope 379: Beach hair

the beach culture
rubs off on its inhabitants
now the seaweed
is growing dreads

BeautyScope 377: Rocks at rest

my rocky cove
sees a moment of peace
before the waves return
to batter it

BeautyScope 375: Sunny painting

the sun blazes the sky with its colours
using the rest of the paints
in one brushstroke
leaving the night black and white

BeautyScope 373: Crocodile sandcastle

sometimes in the morning 
arriving on the beach
someone has left you
a beautiful surprise

Photographing Hall Cemetery

Greetings one and all.

The other day Aiden and I took a small photography trip to Hall Cemetery. A little cemetery for the historic village that is located one suburb away from our house.

It was a beautiful sunny Winter's day to explore the gravestones.
I was pleasantly surprised to see all the natural designs. So I've taken a few photos to share here.

They have a rare orchid that grows here amongst other rare grassland plants, and they've even gone to the lengths of asking people who have reserved plots where the orchids have taken up residence, to volunteer to move. Tricky. I don't think they are asking the current occupants of graves to get up and move!

Aiden went around straightening up the fallen vases and putting things to rights.

Afterwards we took a trip to the end of the road and had a picnic in the turnoff where gravel is dumped. Such a gorgeous view over the mountains.

Also on this road is an amazing monastery with silver roofs. The Free Serbian Orthodox Monastery.
Stunning! It seems very glamorous to be sitting there all alone amongst farmland.

Speaking of fashion model son.

Til next time,
keep on creating!

Jazzy Jack

PS Just as walking is controlled falling,
living is controlled dying.

What do you think of that?

BeautyScope 366: Rock teeth

grinning wildly
the rock bares
its porcelain white teeth
for all to admire

BeautyScope 365: Full circle

Photo by Aiden Brack
effortlessly skimming the water
the seagull forms a circle
with its reflection

BeautyScope 364: Seagull convoy

Photo by Aiden Brack

where is it?
I think it's this way, over here! 

Creativity, Unschooling and a Poem

Greetings friends!
Recently I made a YouTube video about our trip up the Moruya River on our tinnie
(small fishing boat). Here it is:
Although this was not a perfect video by any means, I released it anyway, as a snapshot in time. Showing our fun on the day, and my beginner skills with the camera.(Videoing from a moving boat requires rather a lot of skill!)
My theory is that we need to recognise and relish in our beginner mind.
I have too strong a tendency to judge myself and my work, and sometimes that is appropriate.
However over time I've found it is more useful for skill development, to allow the mistakes to occur, and sometimes in public! To make room for more understanding and ability.
Creative pursuits are rife with difficulties in this area, because we can so easily judge our poor attempts at painting or playing an instrument etc., and give up. How sad that is, if it is due to criticism, as opposed to a lack of desire.
 'feel the beauty
of the origin of an idea.'
If we truly want to continue studying and growing in that area, we need to allow the mistakes, and the beginner mind to have its moment.
This can be challenging to our egos, especially when you are a person who usually performs at a high standard.
But there is a place there in the vulnerability and humbleness that can be a highly creative space.
We can allow more room for our ideas to flourish and our new thought patterns to develop, if we hold off on the judgement for a while.
Of course there is always a time to sit and reflect if we want to allow others to see this work.
But in this instance, after editing this video three times, and cutting it back by half (!), I decided to let you see the wobbles and wind gusts. To let you hear my silly singing, and include my son's beginner guitar playing, because we celebrate the attempt at creativity as much as the finished product.
I released this work so you can feel encouraged at my beginnings, and maybe have a go yourself.
We need to rejoice in our vulnerable starting points, and feel the beauty of the origin of an idea.  
I think this mindset is why I love Unschooling so much. It is a space where we allow beginnings and endings. It is a place to explore our interests and desires. It makes room
for imperfections and creativity, and gives time to expand into ourselves.
I am finding as a parent who is Unschooling my mind is becoming more relaxed about "the way things should be". It is an expansion where we need to gently guide, be aware, but leave our hands off until absolutely needed or wanted. I am more able to trust that things will work out in time if we let them. My need for control of every little educational moment is releasing and I'm gaining such wonder of the naturally perfect learning my kids are creating in and around themselves.
We are creative people underneath, and if we can silence or ignore our critic long enough and open up to love and trust and play, we can find wells of new ideas just waiting to rise.
So do yourself a favour, and give it a go.
Open your hearts
to your simplicity
your beginnings
your humbleness
Celebrate the imperfect
the feebleness
the wobbly lines
the hesitancies
Smile anew
at the sweet joys
of vulnerability
of trembling tries
Let yourself laugh
at your playful
and inconsistent
(I hope you like my playful creative examples above)
Til next time,
keep on creating!
Jazzy Jack

Coming to difficult conclusions

Greetings friends!


I write this post to help me process a recent occurrence in my life.

You may or may not know I have a relationship with a choir where I help out with vocal training. This year I branched out into helping with the warmups, to try and set the scene for the voice, as it were. Bringing in a little more vocal technique to help with achieving a better tone, increased breath control and higher notes.

Of course, being the creative soul I am, I couldn't just do the same warmups everyone else has used. I had to invent a whole new system.

So taking inspiration from my yoga class, I decided to incorporate some body work with some breathing and grounding exercises, before we started on the voice.
Then, in order to keep people from just cranking into their voices and to facilitate relaxation, I created stories where people were to put in sound effects and little sung phrases, to create a whole and take people on a journey. Almost like a story meditation but with singing.
It's a little difficult to describe, but it was a lot of fun.

However I had a five week break due to a family holiday, and when I returned the engagement from the choir just wasn't there. I persevered for a couple more weeks and then sent out an email survey to find out what people were thinking about my style.

Half of the respondents were on board and loving it, but half were either on the fence or actively negative. In particular one respondent tried to explain how two other conductors he knew did a similar thing but with much better results. He couldn't see how what I was doing was influencing the choir at all, or changing the sound.

I could have ignored his comment given the greater amount of positive feedback, but something wasn't right, and I was feeling a sense of disengagement from the choir overall.

I should mention this is the first time I've worked with such a large group (60 or 70 voices), and I struggled with my Asperger overload feedback loop in my brain. Whenever people sang my brain shut down for a second, and I lost all capacity to think. To counteract that, I wrote everything down, but this may have caused me to seem less engaging and able to think on my feet.

I'm not sure why I am so attracted to dancing on the edge of my abilities like this.


So I decided to pull out from the warmups, and from helping the choir overall for a while, to lick my wounds and reassess. If I had been paid, I would have pushed through the negativity, but being a volunteer, I didn't feel the need. It requires a lot of energy for someone of my sensitivities to overcome negative feedback, and I delayed issuing my survey knowing this about myself. But in the end I did it, and now have to live with the result. My precarious health and my kids' need of me, require me to be careful how I expend my energy, so I decided the environment was not ideal for me at this stage.

Leaving has been a hard decision because I really thought I might have finally found a place to hang my hat. I have a quirky way of relating to the world, and not every group or organisation can support it, but this choir was different I thought. I thought they might manage to go there with me, and maybe they would have in time, but somehow it didn't work out. I do wonder if we didn't have such a long break whether things would have been different. It has also been hard because this was my only real social outlet in my life.

Since I've left I have received some more emails saying how much they enjoyed my warmups, so that has been nice, but also induced a sense of guilt that I've abandoned people.

I think I am reacting so strongly to this situation because it is pushing buttons from throughout my life where I have been in a similar situation.

I seem to get to places where I can't see my way forward, perhaps I've run out of energy or other priorities arise, or I just can't do it anymore, and so I leave. I am not blessed with the ability to stumble along. This makes it seem like I leave things more than I complete them.

I'm not sure this is true, I have completed many things, including university degree, staying married for 29 years, studying singing for 10 years, many knitted garments etc. But I do struggle in groups when I don't have a direct connection with the people involved. Unfortunately being Aspie/gifted/highly sensitive, this can be many of the groups I attend.

Anyway I ask myself, what is wrong with knowing your own mind and deciding not to continue down a path that isn't suiting you? It is good to be proactive and design your life, even if it means making hard decisions.

I think I need to allow myself this process and not listen to the self critique that follows.

So once again I feel like I have something to share where I can't communicate what I can see, where I'm going deeply or intensely into it, and where many people can't follow.
It seems such a shame.

My Mum says I'm throwing pearls before swine...but then Mum's are notoriously biased. Love you Mum! It's so nice to have a cheer squad, to know you are in my corner!

So, I start again, trying to find a place for my talents. At the moment I am cocooning, and pulling back into my domestic space. I feel like I never want to try to share anything creative again. But of course, in time I won't be able to help myself, and we'll be on the rollercoaster again!

Til next time,
keep on creating,
as I will!
Jazzy Jack