Tag Archives: Art

Jazz and Collages

5 Feb

One of my favourite things to do on a winter evening is listen to jazz and make collages.

Collage

A recent collage

I started making collages two years ago, after my yoga teacher asked everyone in the class to “go home and make a mood board”. In fact, “our subconscious works with images”, she said “so it is more useful to look at an image of what we wish to bring into our lives, rather than to make a list of New Year’s resolutions, for example”.

In order to pick out images that relate to our subconscious, our yoga teacher gave us the following instructions:

1)      Set aside at least half an hour in your day for solely this activity.

2)      Create a calm atmosphere: light candles, put on relaxing music, dim the lights, take a few deep breaths, clear your mind.

3)      Have a selection of magazines and newspapers ready. It doesn’t matter what they are, as long as they have pictures in them!

4)      Flick through the magazines and cut out all images that you feel immediately attracted to. Don’t think about it – your ‘gut’ choice may be surprising or unexpected to your rational mind, but the important thing is to go with your gut feeling.

5)      Put all of the images together either into a frame that you can hang up in a visible place in your home, or into a large art notebook, to which you can add images regularly.

6)      Keep on looking out for images that seem meaningful to you – ask friends to give you their old magazines, pick up free newspapers and leaflets, take photos, print out images from the internet that you love. Keep on building up your mood board and make new ones when the older ones no longer seem relevant.

After having made our collages, my yoga classmates and I began discovering amazing things manifest themselves in our lives. A girl who had chosen an image of a horse walking on a beach was soon invited by a cousin to do horse-riding along the sea. I had made collages based around photos of the beach and nature, to find myself moving to the South of France half a year later.

Collages not only remind our subconscious of what we truly want, but they add a personal and warm touch to our homes. In my kitchen and my living room I have collages that reflect my desires. These carry so much more meaning for me than the artwork of an unknown (or famous) artist hanging on my wall, because they are something that my subconscious itself has chosen and created.

Collage

Kitchen Collage

I also have a large art book, to which I regularly add images from any magazines I can get my hands on. I choose a page in the book that I particularly like and put it on a visible place in my home. Looking at these images brings me a sense of peace and comfort.

 Collage

Another favourite from my book

Try it yourself: set aside half an hour this week to make a mood board. Follow the instructions above and keep your mood board in a visible place. Let your subconscious and the universe do the rest!

Advertisements

Art of the Essential Part III

22 Nov

I couldn’t believe it when I saw that our neighbours, a young couple in their early twenties, were back for the tenth time to move out their possessions. During their move out of their one-bedroom into a two-bedroom flat they had already loaded a 7-seater four times, a moving van twice and their own car at least four times. Their main reason for moving was “the need for an extra room to fit in all of their things”.

Among the things that my neighbours were packing away were VHS tapes, games for consoles they no longer owned, furniture they never used, broken electric appliances and various items of home decoration that was mostly kept in drawers. It shocked me to see just how much energy and time they were wasting to move these useless things from one home to another. And to think that they would be paying extra rent for the sole purpose of storing these unused things!…and that they would now have a whole room just dedicated to junk!

I couldn’t understand why anyone would choose to have so many possessions – so many useless possessions, at that. I have been living with only the bare essentials for almost a year now. Last autumn, inspired by Dominique Loreau, I started sorting out all of my junk (because that is precisely what most of it was), trying to get it down to the essentials (see The Art of the Essential, The Art of the Essential Part II). During the first few rounds of sorting, I reduced the quantity of my possessions by about three-quarters. I then moved to a different country and have been living with about 3-4 suitcase-worth of things for the past ten months. And to me that is more than enough – I’m already worrying about all the books and magazines building up on my shelves!

I follow these few simple rules to ensure that I don’t end up storing unnecessary junk:

1) Don’t buy it. If I don’t need it or don’t love it, I don’t buy it. Even when I ‘treat’ myself, I still buy either something I need or love.

2) Use the library. Books take up a lot of space and weigh a lot. I usually only buy and keep books that I love and which I am sure to read more than once. If I can’t find them in the library, I buy them in second-hand shops and give them to charity once I’ve read them.

3) Sort as you go. As soon as I know that something isn’t serving me anymore, I put it up for sale or take it to charity immediately. That way, I avoid build-up of junk in my cupboards and basement, saving me space, time and energy.

4) Set a deadline. “If my chair doesn’t get sold on ebay after two months, I will give it to charity”. If we don’t set ourselves deadlines, we will keep holding on to our junk.

5) Rules for freebies. If someone, after having sorted out their own things, offers me free clothes, books, furniture etc., I ask myself “If this was on sale in a shop, would I buy it?”. Keep, if yes, give back, if no.

7) Make your own home decorations. Pen pots, candle holders, curtains, folders…there are so many things we can make ourselves using cardboard, paints, fabric and a bit of imagination. Once we’re bored with these things or need to move, we can just throw them away or recycle them.

What rules do you go by to avoid the build-up of superfluous possessions?

Photo Friday – Love at the Door

11 Nov

Happiness Project – Week 1

10 Nov

It’s been one week since the start of my happiness project. I am proud (and happy!) to say that I managed to do 9 of the 15 activities on my list:

1) (Go for a walk every day)

I went for a walk every day. However, some of these walks were simply to get from A to B, whereas others were evening walks specifically to calm down and clear the mind. I realised just what a positive effect the latter have on my state of mind and my ability to wind down at the end of the day.

2) (Wake up at the same time every day)

I started waking up earlier. Much earlier. So early that my working day was finished by 1pm. And this is thanks to the fact that I…

3) (Go to bed before midnight, or preferably at 11pm)

Went to bed before midnight. Once I even went to bed at 10pm! On other days I managed 11.30.

5) (Do some sport every day)

I did sport…but only three times in the week. I danced in my living room, blasting Britney Spears and Black Eyed Peas music (into my headphones). I felt like I shook out all of the negative energy that had been building up in me over the past few weeks. I also did one yoga practice and went to one dance class. It’s a good start, but I feel like I need more.

7) (Buy myself something pretty to wear)

I went to a special clothes sale where I bought myself some very nice skirts and dresses for a very nice price. I haven’t worn any of them yet (still in the wash!), but it feels nice to have renewed my wardrobe a bit.

10) (Go to a new place in the city every week)

I went to an art gallery, to which I had wanted to go for months. It’s only a fifteen minute walk away from my home, so it was about time that I finally got there! Although I didn’t find the exhibition particularly interesting, I enjoyed looking through the gallery catalogue and finding out about various artists and photographers. It made me want to take photos, draw and create.

11) (Try a new recipe every week)

Today I tried a new recipe for a healthy cake. Half of it is already eaten! I also revisited a recipe that I hadn’t done for over a year. It reminded me that I love cooking; I love giving myself a whole afternoon to make something, to create something that will bring happiness to the ones I love and to learn something new. My cooking sessions are also accompanied by music and singing; today I discovered two singers that will definitely go onto my playlist.

12) (Buy a juice making machine, and drink fresh fruit juice at least three times a week)

Although I did not buy a juice-making machine or make fresh fruit juice, I did eat fruit every day, which I haven’t done for a long while. I immediately felt, and tasted, the magic of natural vitamins. I could feel my body rejoicing in having received this healthy energy.

14) (Go to one new social event a week – alone)

I went to a singing class. I met friendly and open people, I had a lot of fun and I sang out loud on my own in front of a group of strangers! I was enjoying myself so much that I didn’t even care about being out of tune and off beat. The singing class filled me with loads of positive energy and I realised that music is a sort of meditation for me: while singing or playing an instrument I am so concentrated on my activity that I forget everything else. I lose track of time, my mind clears of all thoughts and I simply let go.

***

Aims for week 2:

-Do not make ‘other people’ and excuse for not doing any of the set activities on a given day – there is always a way to make time for the things we would like to do.

 -Meditate. What’s holding me back from doing sport, considering I used to do dance, aerobics, yoga and jogging regularly? Why do I feel guilty giving myself the opportunity to do something I enjoy? Why do I resist setting aside time to pamper myself? I know I want to sing and continue learning to play the guitar…so why do I not take the step to do so?

I leave you with an awesome song that I listened to quite a few times this week. I think you’ll understand why it’s part of my ‘happy’ playlist.

 

Week 2 of my Happiness Project starts now! (Oops, it’s already past my bedtime!).

Counting the Blessings, Not the Events in My Life

15 May

I had heard that time flies, but no-one had told me that it soars. The past year has gone by with the blink of an eye. For me, it has had little form and even less structure. What have I done during the past twelve months? What has happened in the last 365 days? Looking back, the past year looks like a stretch of time marked by uncertainty, emptiness and waiting. Things have moved at a slower pace than ever before, and there are few events that have been caught on camera or written into a diary. However, when I think about the past year, I realise for the first time that it is not the quantity of memorable events that matters so much as their quality. This year has brought few notable events, but they have had a crucial role in the direction of my life’s path.

1) I graduated from university.

2) I went on a life-changing trip to India.

3) I completed a novel-writing course, which made me realise that, despite my fears, that I am capable.

4) I was offered my first ‘real’ job in a field that I love.

5) I moved to a different country.

6) I moved in with my boyfriend.

However, when I look back at the past year, these events feature only as a backdrop to that which happened on centre stage. In fact, it is my spiritual experiences and changes that played the main role during this period of time.

1) I got rid of 50% of my material possessions. In my new home, I live only with the things that I use regularly.

2) I deleted my social networking accounts. If they’re my real friends, I should be able to call them to find out about their lives. If I feel uncomfortable about picking up the phone to speak to them, I don’t need to be filling my mind with their lives. Seven months without Facebook, and I feel calmer, more confident and I know who my true friends are.

3) I took a risk. When I started job-hunting last autumn, I knew that I had two choices: I could either persevere and look for jobs in the field that I love –writing – or I could take the easier option of going into a better paid, more stable and more ‘prestigious’ career. Parents considered The City or the EU as a good destination for me, but I knew that if I didn’t take the chance to try my luck in writing, I would never again have the opportunity to do so. Three months later, I was offered a job as an online content editor.

4) I made a dream come true. Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of working in a cute little bookshop, where I would be able to pass on my love for literature to others. In the autumn, I was hired for a week-end shift at a new independent bookshop in my area. I only worked there for four months, but the experience was unforgettable. I was blessed with kind, knowledgeable and good-humoured colleagues, with friendly clients and with a brilliant stock of books to enjoy.

5) I chose love over fear.  What if I don’t like it? What if it doesn’t work out? What if he changes his mind? What if we get bored? A million doubts filling my mind before moving to a new country and moving in with my boyfriend. Four months after my move, this new life feels like second nature.

6) I was honest with myself. Young women my age are going to parties, filling their days with countless activities, following fashion, spending, seducing, networking…I tried, but never found fulfilment in any of these activities. I finally admitted to myself that I would prefer to spend Friday night watching the sunset from a hill, spend the afternoon riding a bike, spend evenings doing yoga, spend the week-ends doing photography, and spend my money on dance class, art exhibitions or fresh local food from the market. By being honest with myself, I have found a more natural way of life.

This year, I may not have had many events to talk about, but I have had many ideas and feelings to share. I think I am finally starting to learn how to count the blessings, and not the events in my life…