illustrated moment

making sense with words and pictures


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Simplify the complexified

im simple

 

Life is complex – BAM! Too much philosophy for you to handle right there!

It’s naturally curvy, with its delightful ups and eye-rolling lows. It’s a journey each and every single person has to trod along, regardless of the weather. Now why don’t we put all the metaphorical talk to aside? Let’s have a heart to heart.

I am currently in a place in my life where I must face some hard truths. It’s not all sad – after all, a serious reflection should be scheduled in every so often to keep life on a positive path – but it’s still a challenge. Having worked as hard as I did at school before the summer break, my mind was craving the freedom of a timetable-less life. Once the last exam was sat, and the final results were delivered and celebrated – I just couldn’t stop smiling at all the potential projects I was so eager to get on with!

I wanted to kick-start the illustrated health videos, I wanted to get back into the wonderful rhythm of blogging again, I wanted to finish off a book I had started writing the year before, I wanted to sew and knit, I wanted to learn a language, I wanted to create, invent and energise. As you can see, my brain was on fire – but I was okay at that point. When I discover a new project (whether I create it from scratch or it pops into my head one night and nags my soul until I give in) my heart beats that much faster. I tend to fall in love with my numerous projects, caring so deeply for each one to the point of slight insanity.

So off I went to animate videos, blogging, writing a book, and attempting all the things I had been eagerly awaiting. Unfortunately, I have come to understand the real meaning of stretching yourself too thin – instead of feeling energised and excited, I began to feel disappointed and frustrated – because I was trying to do 100 things at once, with the same level of enthusiasm and my efforts weren’t producing the immediate results I wanted. So I moaned and whined for a short moment.

Then I decided it was time to face the music. I made a list – yes, I made a real list, handwritten on some paper. I placed all of my great project ideas onto it – without a priority designation. This piece of paper got messy – by the end of it all you couldn’t decipher the language used beneath the energetic scribbling – but it was my solution.

I decided right there and then that my main focus would have to be this blog and Illustrated Health. Given that the summer is officially over and I’m now in the final year of my studies, I won’t have the luxury of time and energy to throw around frivolously. Some sacrifices had to be made, although they are only temporary, because believe me when I say that I will be creating an even bigger list of stuff to do for next summer!

My little moment had me thinking how complex life already is – we all have so many responsibilities upon our shoulders, and yet we can find even more things to add to our load. Creating, investing, learning and exploring are not bad things – they are wonderful things – but we must do them at the right time. We all want to enhance our lives, living it to the max, embracing it with all our might – but sometimes keeping it simple is the best thing we could do, to ensure that our efforts are fruitful and our hearts are content.

And with all that, I wish you a wonderful day!

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A one-sided conversation with a busy person

im busy

You don’t have time – I know. Life is busy happening and won’t wait around for you, so you must keep up to its pace, or else you will be left behind – trust me, I get it.

When was the last time you did something at your own pace? Was there ever a time?

Possibly, when you were a baby. You cried out when you wanted something – often food. You enjoyed sleeping, giggling and making a mess just for the sake of it.

Before you knew it, school started. Suddenly, you had to be up by a certain time in the morning, fall asleep by a certain time in the night – and even food was rolled out on a set schedule. Sure you spent your early years as a student of play, but soon the colourful toys were replaced by standardised tests to standardise you. You didn’t catch on immediately but you were being funnelled into a life defined by deadlines and performance.

And now you’re here, reading this. You don’t really have time for it – I’m still aware of that fact. But you’ve decided to stop by today, so here’s a hello to you!

Today is made up of 24 hours. You’ve made time for sleeping and dreaming. You know you will always make time for eating. But the rest of the hours that are left for you to play around with are often filled up by you thinking about what you need to get done – not necessarily doing it all, but definitely making a huge list of it all. The reality is on a day-to-day basis, you are unlikely to use every single hour working away to shrink your professional looking to-do list. Yes, yes, you are very busy and there’s just so much to do – but the thing is, there will always be so much to do which will inevitably keep you busy. I hope you don’t think that life is defined by a tick-sheet and deadlines, because there is more to you, but you won’t be able to see it if you aren’t looking for it.

Do you remember the last time someone you cared about asked you to join them for a day out? An entire day doing nothing! No, no, no that won’t do, you can’t afford to waste time like that – so you told yourself. Then you turned to that loved one and politely rejected their offer, you promised to reschedule and you explained that you hate being so busy all the time.

What you didn’t realise in that self-centred moment was the hand that this other human being was holding out to you. They wanted to spend an entire day with you – talking, laughing, enjoying and exploring – but what you saw was a waste of time.

You see, when you create an infinitely long to-do list, whether it’s in your mind or on paper, you peek into the possible future and then do some mental arithmetic. Dividing up the vaguely calculated time you have until your wishy-washy deadlines by the number of tasks you must accomplish, you begin to sense that your time is incredibly precious – and people will have to wait.

I’m going to burst your bubble. You are being lazy. How can something be more valuable than someone? Of course you have to work hard, make money, pass exams and run tedious errands – so does 8 billion other people. You let your unrealistic list of tasks build up in your mind and exhaust you from the inside out. When you do get an hour to yourself, you feel too tired to bring someone else into your picture – keep going like this and it will be a lonely portrait. It’s time to change. Value life above menial tasks.

Make a date with your best friend – time spent together is an investment for the future of your dreams. Spend time with your family – hear what they have to say and be interested in what they have been doing. Put in the effort for your loved ones – if they can’t come to you, then it’s time you go to them. Treat your loved ones with the respect, support and crazy charm that only you can dish out.

Building relationships is the true hard work of this world. Now go out there and reciprocate the love that you have been shown!


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Storm in a teacup

imteacup

I’m flying through the days. I’m hurtling through the seasons. I’m racing through the years.

Every second I get older, make more connections, get busier, have to work faster and harder.

I would hate for you to misunderstand me – I love the way life develops, shape-shifts and grows. It’s exciting! It’s an adventure which is unique to me! I know this – but sometimes it can be overwhelming.

If the balance of Life seems like it’s tipping from the exciting to the daunting, you need to stop what you’re doing. That’s what I did, on a grey and windy afternoon. I had been ignoring the internal alarms which had been triggered a while back – I thought that if I didn’t want to see them, then they wouldn’t exist. I was wrong.

I noticed that the focus of my mind was unravelling, my heart was feeling a bit heavy and my body was fatigued. For a long time I had ignored the small anxieties about trivial things, and instead of going away, they had begun to root themselves and grow larger. After a while, it stopped being the case that I was too busy or had better things to think about than to spare a thought to my worries – I started to fear the confrontation with my own internal conflict. That’s when I started noticing the effect my clouded mind had on my day to day life. Self-doubt, indecision and unnecessary concern began to feature in my normally carefree, happy and excited life. There was only one way I could calm the storm brewing inside.

I made a hot cup of tea. Switched off all buzzing, beeping, flashing technology. It was time for some old-school therapy, with a piece of paper and pen at hand. I sat down and confronted myself. Reflection can sometimes be uncomfortable, but it is the only way you can figure out exactly what is truly causing you stress. I made a list of all the negative thoughts and emotions I had – I just listed them down so I could visualise them with my eyes. Some were trivial, some were complex. There were some that I thought I had dealt with in the past, and some that felt surreal, but there they all were – right in front of my eyes. Instantly, I could see the ones that were an utter waste of time and energy – they were not based on anything real and there was nothing I could do to ease them – so I put a line through them. Instant relief from instant action. For the others I had to use the energy my wonderful cup of tea had given me. Using rational thinking and an objective view of realism, I worked through my insecurities, concerns and melodramatic emotions. At the end of that intense session, I felt exhausted but very light, like my head was now clear and back to its focussed, awesome self!

In an effort to wrap things up in a positive way, I flipped the page over and made a list of my hopes and ambitions. It didn’t matter if they were tiny short-term goals or epic long-term dreams – they all deserved a space on that sheet of paper! It felt great to refocus my mind and energy on the positive ambitions I want to live my life by.

So now I know how to calm the internal storms before they get out of hand. All it takes is a piece of paper, a pen and a glorious cup of tea to keep you company. The moment you identify your fears and anxieties is the very moment you strip them from their power over you. Don’t put off some self-therapy – make time to sit down quietly and pinpoint your thoughts and feelings. In an age where you need to stay on your toes, ready for the momentum of any life event, your energy levels are valuable. Don’t tire yourself out with the little things you can overcome. Choose to take control of your mind and your life.


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Joining the gym

Is there anything more intimidating than joining the gym? For those of you who are seasoned exercisers, it might be an enjoyable place. You may see it like a sanctuary where you can convert tensions and frustrations into muscle mass. However, if you’re like me, and have never been to the gym, it can be nerve-racking.

The way my mind sees the gym is very unappealing. It’s a place where a kazillion-billion people coalesce to watch themselves in the mirror whilst they pump weights two times their own body weight – absolutely drenched in sweat and extremely smelly pheromones. It’s a place where if you’re not lifting heavy then you must be running hard. I imagine people running on treadmills for hours on end, yet they are so fit that they manage to hold up a conversation with their neighbour on the next machine. My mind is convinced that gyms are a place where already super-fit people go, and all the newcomers are laughed at. That’s a terrifying image isn’t it? I have been informed that my wild imagination is incorrect, and following further debates I decided that I would sign up to the gym.

Saturdays are glorious days. They were made for enjoyment, everyone knows that, and for the first time in a while the London weather wanted to play nice. The sun was out and I was ready to join the gym and then indulge in some unnecessary shopping. Of course, given that my crazy mind would freak out further if I attended gym sessions on my own (without back up dancers), I decided to arrange my membership with a good friend of mine – we could motivate each other! Yay! Then go out to eat! Yay!

We met in the afternoon and came to the conclusion that we would need to scout a few gyms before settling on one. With standard membership prices in our area being eye-wateringly high, we knew it was either the gym or food – whether we actually attended the gym or not, we were guaranteed to lose weight. After a quick Google search we discovered a place not too far from us that wanted £20 per month – it was like discovering a gold mine. We made our way there whilst imagining up our soon to be chiselled abs and ripped arms. The map on our phone revealed that we had reached our destination…but we couldn’t see it…until we saw it, and then our faces looked very confused. It was the dodgiest place ever – beneath some apartments, with a tiny entrance. I took a look inside, and a member of staff looked back at me. It all happened too quickly, so I couldn’t consciously decide to make my face look less horrified, but I turned on my heels and got out of there. I am not a gym buff, but I have seen some gyms and that was nothing like the definition of the word. I may have been quick to judge but as a believer in gut feelings I wasn’t about to spend money on something I would not use. My friend felt the same, we laughed about it on the bus and agreed that we needed to find somewhere a lot more appealing. But not before we ate lunch, we were starving.

Both of us were more conscious than ever about our health and well-being, so naturally we picked up cheeseburgers and fries and set off on our journey to the next gym on our list. As we threw the grease-soaked wrapping papers in the bin we were adamant that those were the last burgers we would ever eat.

The walk to the next gym was longer and much colder, but it took us through the nicer areas of London and soon enough we had arrived at what looked like a very swanky establishment indeed. I almost jumped for joy when I laid eyes on a clean yet inviting reception desk and waiting area – this place couldn’t be more different from the earlier gym. We were given an impressive tour and an opportunity to see some people in action. Guess what? Everyone was doing their own thing, and they all looked normal. Even my crazy mind liked it – it had a friendly atmosphere and wasn’t intimidating one bit! We both excitedly signed our bank details over and gave them permission to take our burger money for the next few months. I never thought I’d feel like this, but I’m actually excited to be a part of the gym – maybe I’ll even do some exercise in there!

Even though this gym was pricier in comparison to the other one, I think it is important to feel comfortable and happy in the place that you will be working your body into a fitter shape. I had always thought that the motivation to go to the gym came from within and it didn’t matter where you worked out – that might be true for some people. However, I feel more motivated when the paint on the walls compliment the carpet and there are comfy chairs in the waiting area. It also doesn’t hurt that there’s a shopping centre right next to it!


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Robot vs Human

If you’re a student you will have deadlines, assignments and examinations. If you’re employed you will share similar pressures, along with targets, evaluations and the prospect of promotions. No matter who you are, Society provides us with a huge picnic basket of mental burdens.

Working hard has become equal to success in our minds, and many of us are guilty of letting the pressures of Life get to us more than necessary. As children, we begin school and soon learn to put our toys down and compete with our peers. As teenagers, we are subtly expected to ignore the emotional rollercoaster our hormones hold us hostage on, so that we may achieve good grades and a good foundation for our future. As adults, we are taught to do as we’re told and be rewarded with money for bills and material goods.

If we do everything perfectly and follow the instructions impeccably, we would be no different to a well-built machine. A planet of robots. But, that is not the case in reality.

As children, we are most joyful when we play with our action figures and create portraits of loved ones out of dry macaroni. As teenagers, we are most peaceful when we are socialising and having fun with friends. As adults, we are most content when we are loved and surrounded by family and people who became family overtime. In short, we are human beings. The prospect of creating, thinking and discussing excites us, and provides fuel for a fulfilled life. Our jobs and our studies shouldn’t be our primary reasons to exist, but they should be seen as the perfect way to learn new skills, achieve new goals and enhance the development of our souls.

We could never function like robots – it’s just not in our nature. We would consist of a badly wired circuit, with sparks flying all over the place, inside a metallic box, devoid of character or personality. It is our human nature to strive to be the best, to compete and desire to win, to want everything and still want even more. We are the perfect mix of an emotional living creature and a rational, hard-working and enduring machine of intelligence. That, is the definition of our nature.


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My battle with Time

I feel like I'm being held at gunpoint!

I feel like I’m being held at gunpoint!

In my very first post I stated that I wanted to inject a bit of creativity into my life. I needed to return to old hobbies and interests – drawing and writing – to boost my motivation for everyday reality. Posting on the illustrated moment blog and working on the storyboard for the upcoming videos has been so much fun, and a much needed change of speed to my usual daily routine. I have even found myself studying with more enthusiasm than before! However, it’s not all fine and dandy. I still have a To-Do list, longer than my arm, of all the things I must do, and I want to continue posting more articles and pictures. Despite there seemingly being 24 hours in a day, I always feel like I’m running out of time. It’s as if Time holds me at gunpoint and sadistically reminds me how inefficient I am.

It may sound childish, but I think a timetable or a schedule may help me out. I feel like designated timeslots for everything may be the complete opposite of spontaneous creative flow, but I have to try it. It’s no secret that we all would rather spend time reading, writing, drawing, TV-zapping or internet-surfing, than to concentrate on work and studies. It’s also no secret that long-term happiness comes from the achievement and development of skills and opportunities in both our professional and personal lives. With both aspects of my existence being so important, I think it might be time to find a more proactive solution to my problem.