Social media – release or embrace?!

Much has been written on the ills and/or necessity of social media in this internet age.

Depending on who you read, social media can be a contributor to social dislocation or an essential part of your personal brand. Personally, I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle (as it usually does).

Social media is, in my view, neither the devil incarnate nor the answer to your everything. It is a tool which can support, and even enhance, our lives, but it also contains hazards. Not just the obvious noisy trolls, but quieter dangers like discontent, jealousy and time-wasting.

I don’t worry so much about avoiding trolls: they will trample wherever they will, and there ain’t much anyone can do about that except wait for them to move on.

I have found a way to managing the quieter dangers. It is simple, but effective:

consciously choose what goes into your feeds

I’m a Tweep, a Facebooker and a Pinner. All these media have feeds.

Over recent weeks, I’ve been making conscious decisions about what I do and don’t want in my feeds, and who I want to hear from: I’ve cleaned out my Twitter follows and started work on my Facebook newsfeed. Pinterest is yet to come.

More important to me than clearing out is choosing what to embrace in my feeds. I want to be encouraged and inspired, so I can spread that joy wider.

Interestingly, I’ve found that I enjoy Twitter more than I do Facebook. I think it’s partly because there is no requirement to be friends with people to share their wisdom and humour. And the character limit makes for quicker scrolling and less ranting. Facebook does help me stay connected to people I care about, but Twitter leaves me smiling!

Anyway, here’s a couple of tips for releasing and embracing your social media feeds:

  1. Think about what you actually want to see:  what do you want to be feeding your soul? If you do this right at the beginning, it will make choosing who to release and who to keep around much easier.
    • My Twitter feed had ended up full of cynical political commentary which was dragging me down. Cynical is one thing I really don’t need encouragement for – I can do it quite well by myself! So, I’ve deliberately chosen to follow people whose tweets encourage me and make me smile (especially if they feature cat pics).
  2. It is okay to release people from your feeds. Chances are they’ll never know…
    • I find Twitter is less emotionally charged than Facebook for this – but I have discovered you can unfollow individual Facebook friends without having to take that fraught step of unfriending. This takes them out of your newsfeed, but leaves the friendship in place. Pinterest is dead easy – just unfollow boards you don’t enjoy any more.
  3. Build a feed that feeds you
    • It really doesn’t take much effort to fill your feed with images and words that feed your soul. Just search for what you actually like and want to see (see #1) – and do remember it is okay to release and unfollow what no longer works for you.

We are allowed to grow and change, and we are allowed to take our social media with us as we do!

How do you manage your social media? Do you have any tips for de-cluttering this part of life? Please share 🙂

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Discovering your personal aesthetic

A few years back, I wrote about my journey to discover what my actual personal aesthetic was, rather than what I thought I ought to like. My journey is still continuing (I’m not dead yet!), but I thought you might appreciate some hints for your own aesthetic journey… (and if you want to see where I’m heading on my journey, have a peek here or here)

#1 Give yourself plenty of time

Roman wasn’t built in a day and working out this stuff won’t happen in five minutes, if my experience is anything to go by. I’ve found working in bursts of activity over weeks, months, and well, years now to be the most effective way for me: I gather a lot of images and then review them a while later, which brings us to…

#2 Build a collection (aka mood board)

While you could do this with magazine pics in the off-line world, there are so many digital images available, it seems a shame to waste paper 😉

Online tools/sites

  • Pinterest is the most obvious collection tool. I would suggest setting up a separate board and just working with that – which leaves all your other boards free for whatever you feel like. Up to you whether you make it a secret board or not.
  • Etsy has a favourites function, which is what I initially used – this limits you to Etsy items only, but there’s a very wide range of those. Of course, it could be hazardous for your budget (not that I’d know… much!)
  • You could also try setting up a Tumblr account or curating an album on Facebook. I haven’t tried those. If you do, let me know how it works. And there may well be other sites out there I don’t know about – feel free to share ideas.

Once you’ve picked your tool/s, it’s time to find some images. You probably already have some ideas about what you like: start by searching a favourite colour or a theme or style. It doesn’t really matter what’s in the pictures – it could be clothing, scenery or something else entirely.

You are looking for images that resonate with you – not just things you look at and think “that’s okay”. You want to feel the love! If you’re half-hearted about an image, leave it out. You won’t miss it.

#3 Don’t over think it

It’s really easy to slip into over-analysing or spending a long time one each image. Unfortunately, this gives your brain time to think, and risks letting your social approval mammoth off its leash… which can lead to self-editing which can lead to finding out someone else’s aesthetic, rather than your own.

If you catch yourself doing this, take a deep breath, and maybe even a long break (it’s okay to pause in this work).

Then, when you’re ready leap back in and watch your instant reactions: it’s okay to react with loathing to things other people like; it’s also okay to really love something your mother might find weird… Only add the ‘loves’ to your collection.

Once you’ve got a bundle of images (I’d recommend at least 20), it’s time to move onto…

#4 Refine/ Edit / Curate

Now, no matter how hard you try, you’re not going to shut your mammoth up for the whole of the step 3 – trust me, I know!

So, once you’ve got that collection, leave it. Come back days later and review each image – you’re still looking for that instant love or resonance or ‘aaaaah’. You may be surprised at how you react to things you originally thought you loved.

This step has been the most important one for me: separating the ‘oughts’ from the ‘loves’ can be harder than you’d think. It’s all to easy to get trapped into thinking that if you like one aspect of a subculture then you must like everything.

For example, my own aesthetics include a lot of goth and steampunk influences. Within these subcultures, tentacles are a regular feature (I blame Cthulu, myself). While I appreciate a good kraken as much as the next person, I’m really not that into random tentacles. It ‘only’ took me about five edits to realise this!

#5 Rinse and repeat

You can repeat steps 3 and 4 as often as you want – I’m still going after several years! And I’m still learning more about myself as I do…

It’s normal for your preferences and passions to develop and change, along with the rest of life. This is a continuing journey, not a one-time special offer!

But mostly, have fun with it!

Personally, I’ve found it both fascinating and helpful to work out what really floats my boat aesthetically. It makes things like shopping, de-cluttering and home renovations much more straightforward. And I really enjoy having more confidence in my own taste and my own self. I hope you can find that too.

Which brings us to our final step:

#6 Share your discoveries

This is entirely optional, but I would really love to see what you find. So, please feel free to share links to your collections in the comments section below or on the Facebook page – who knows, you might help someone else uncover something they never knew they loved!

Random bits of inspiration – BLUE

Stained glass

Goddess of Transcendent Wisdom, Prajnaparamita Cambodia, Angkor period, late 1100s – early 1200s. Sandstone, 59 inches (130 cm) high.

Passing Shadow Over an Ageless Moon  Fantasy by Dancingheron

WOW!

Corinne OFlynn, Writer: N for Nudibranch - #atozchallenge

Snowy Forest.. Kyustendil, Bulgaria (by inhiu)

Dr. Who No Soliciting Sign by SparrowsEdgeDesigns on Etsy, $45.00

.Gorgeous tile work <3

I really love when the clouds are reflected in a body of water.  It doubles the dramatic sky.

Nurturing your creative life

Something that is vital to having a creative life, but often oh-so-hard to prioritise in the daily grind, is nurturing that creative life.

As you may have guessed from my posts, this is not something that comes naturally to me. I have had to learn ways of doing it, and all too often the daily grind takes over. I suspect this is true for most of us (please tell me I’m not alone!)

So, here are three things I’ve learned (and endeavour to apply) that help keep me sparking:

* First on the list, and for good reason, is giving myself time and space to ponder and dream.

I have a journalling habit that helps me clear the dross out of my brain. I find handwriting with a nice flowing pen helps the thoughts flow through me – it constantly amazes me what rises to the surface when I can achieve that semi-trance flow state (and how fast it all comes to a crashing stop when the kids want something… only two three interruptions while writing this post!)

* Next up is making sure I have regular exposure to inspiration in its myriad forms.

I use Pinterest and my music collection for this when I’m at home – and is the reason behind my ‘Random Bits of Inspiration‘ posts. I’ll also trawl YouTube for new music and use Google image searches on whatever topic springs to mind. Out and about, I try to look around me and appreciate my surroundings. I also have a serious library habit, and I try not to limit myself, but wander all the shelves (especially non-fiction) to see what leaps out.

*Third (and where I often fall down) is getting on and actually doing creative stuff.

Right now, this often involves sitting around knitting or crocheting – I find that process meditative, and the colour and feel of the yarn is a form of inspiration in itself. I do get caught in the ‘too many ideas and not enough time to make them’ trap, but I’ll keep plugging away.

What I would like to do, and don’t get round to often enough, is to take myself to my studio space and play – be it dancing, sewing, beading , yarning, whatever. For some reason, actually getting myself downstairs into my studio is a hard thing for me to do at present. It’s much easier to stay upstairs and dream and knit. I suspect part of it is the ‘fear of my own creativity‘ thing. Another part may be my desire to have a less-cluttered space – which means less fabric and less yarn and less stuff, and I don’t want to let go! It’s (another) work in progress (and I’m never short of those 😉 )

So, that’s me. How about you?

Do these ideas resonate with you?

Do you have other ways of keeping your creativity alive and well?

I’d love to hear about them (and you)…

 

 

Irritation and the meme

I spend more time than is possibly healthy on sites like Pinterest. While I find the images for the most part inspiring, I’ve also found I’m getting irritated by a particular meme.

No, it’s not grumpy cats or anything to do with cheezburgers… it’s the regularly repeated idea that ‘mess’ = ‘creativity’ and/or vice versa.

Why is this irritating me? It’s the perfect excuse to ignore housework and live in chaos… which would be fine if my creativity worked like that.

But it doesn’t.

I use mess to shut down my creativity: to bury the muse with clutter so I can silence her terrifying voice.

My muse thrives on clear spaces,

on an environment filled with meaning and order,

in a place where I can grab what I need easily and there’s a surface already clear to work on.

I don’t begrudge others their creative mess, or judge them for their different approach. In many ways, I envy their ability to contact their muse without having to vacuum the floors and remove the clutter first…

So, please excuse me if I don’t ‘Like’ those cute sayings about creative messes on your boards and walls. It’s not that I don’t ‘Like’ you or appreciate your creativity. It’s just that I don’t like feeling shut out of the creative community because I crave order and space…