This is a very interesting article about the influence of Facebook and Google has over society and the unbalanced discourse that has been growing over recent years. It’s been a recurring concern of mine about Micro.blog and the many calls I’ve seen on there for diversity. They have rarely, if ever, included calls for people who take a more conservative stance. Balance is something that is needed if the service is to avoid the pitfalls that created the echo chambers we find on Twitter and Facebook now.
When I was back home at my parents over Christmas I sorted through a couple of boxes of bits that were taking up some space in the room I sleep in when I’m there. During the process I came across some of my old sketchbooks from my Art Foundation course and had a flick through.
I was struck by how different they were compared to the notebooks I’ve been keeping for the last few years. They were full of creativity. Each page was different, whether it was exploring my own ideas on a project, or a contextual spread about a designer or artist that inspired me.
The last couple of days have been odd ones for me. After many months of not feeling much of the effects of my depression, yesterday when I woke up I could feel the heaviness and fog of it. I had the same thing this morning, so I’ve done what is the only thing I can do. I’ve tried to push on and not let it stop me doing my work.
This evening I put a film on, one of my favourites, Good Will Hunting and grabbed my sketch book, a scalpel, two magazines I get free from Waitrose, a pritt-stick, and my Bible. I flicked to one of my favourite verses and while I watched the film I sat on the floor cutting out words and letters.
It’s been a long time since I did anything like this and about ten minutes before the film finished I had finished. It might’ve taken me a lot longer than I remember it taking, but for those two hours there was no fog and I was just able to enjoy being absorbed in something a little more creative than my normal design work.
I’ve been trying to establish some new habits lately so this was a timely post from CJ Chilvers. I’ve been using the app Streaks like he mentions to keep focused on some of my habits, but there is a certain lack of accountability that goes with it. When a big streak gets broken it’s very hard to find the energy to start again.
One thing I’ve found a bit easier to face when starting—or restarting—a project is to break it down to months. Define the goal, decide to begin it at the start of the next month, and then make sure you’re ready to go in the time in between. The space allows you to process what you’re aiming to accomplish, and allows you the time you need to make sure you’re ready to get going.
Mom: “Remember … don’t forget to write to me at least once a week – even better – every day.”
Me: “Every day! There wont be enough to say every day!”
Mom: “You will find that the more you write the more you will have to say, because then everything is important. If you only write once a month, there will be nothing important enough to write about.”
I’ve found it incredibly difficult to make time for long-form writing the past few years. When I have, the catalyst has been reminding myself of the tremendous ROI as a designer, manager, business owner, and so on.
If you want to be a better designer, write more.
If you want to be a better manager, write more.
If you want to be a better biz owner, write more.
You can also substitute “speak more” for each of these.
The act of synthesizing what’s in your head for an audience of critics leads to increased analytical thinking, self-awareness, clarity, and much more.
Last but not least, you inspire others to write—or at the very least ‘write’ by joining the conversation you’ve started.
It’s something I’ve been thinking about lots the last couple of weeks. I’ve been wanting to post to my blog more because I think it will be beneficial for me in many ways, one of which to help me build discipline and self-control in other areas of my life.
The thing that really strikes me about this Twitter thread, the whole thing would make a good blog post. It probably would’ve been easier to post to a blog as well, likely have a longer life span, and consequently have more of an impact. Not all writing on a blog has to be long to have an impact, if it’s worth stringing four tweets together in a thread to make a point, it’s worthy of a blog post.
I’ve been thinking a little more about the link I posted to Austin Kleon’s blog the other day. I finished it with the line
Instead there should just be turning up to write down a thought and seeing where it takes you.
It’s a sentiment that you hear quite regularly around the Internet these days. Just keep turning up every day and do the thing—whatever your thing is.
The phrase turning up is just a less intimidating way of saying be disciplined. Turning up to write a blog post everyday is a discipline, just as reading your bible every day is or getting up without pressing the snooze button.
As I get older I’m understanding more and more that learning to be disciplined is one of the most important things you can do. It can effect every area of your life and it’s easy to assume that discipline is something that you have or you don’t. That you’re either able to be disciplined or you’re not, but that’s not the case. Discipline, I’m learning, is something you can develop. It’s like a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it gets.
The hard part, I believe, is not getting started but maintaining and developing. Everyone can start something, doing it for a couple of days before they get distracted or it begins to feel like work, and then stopping because it requires effort to continue. But that’s where you need to begin exercising that muscle of discipline, when things feel too hard keep going regardless, over time how hard it feels will disappear and instead it will become something you do each and every day.
So join me in learning to be disciplined. Starting tomorrow morning decide what time you’re going to get up, set your alarm and then get up when it goes off. No snoozing, no rolling over, just turn off that alarm and get up. Then do it the next day, and the next, until it becomes something you just do.
Today when you say “nest egg” many think of money saved and put away, but a literal “nest egg” is a real or fake egg that you put in a nest to encourage a bird or a hen to lay more eggs there. So what Thoreau is saying is that by simply writing down a thought, you encourage more thoughts to come. When you have enough thoughts pushed together in the same space — a collage of thoughts, juxtaposed — they often lead to something totally new.
This is the magic of writing.
Austin Kleon wrapped up a recent post with the quote above. The post on one level is about journaling and writing in general, but do you know what else that quote describes? A blog.
A blog is nothing more than a series of thoughts written down over a period of time. When you think about it that way it’s incredibly freeing. There should be no pressure. Instead there should just be turning up to write down a thought and seeing where it takes you.
This is a really interesting post from Colin Walker about what we have effectively been doing on social media for the last 10 years. Painting a self portrait of ourselves over time.
I’ve never thought about it like that before, and when you add in you’re own blog or personal site, it makes for a rich and textured ongoing piece. His conclusions at the end of the post are challenging…
We can tell the stories we think other people want to hear. We can tell skewed stories as we are often not truly honest with ourselves. We tell other people’s stories rather than our own, without comment, without opinion.
What use are the wrong stories and are we doing ourselves a disservice by telling them?
I think, that without realising it, over the last few months of trying to revitalise my blog and using Micro.blog I and many others are trying to reclaim our stories and take hold of the paintbrush.
Posting to Twitter through your own site first changes the focus of the service entirely. We go from being a passive consumer, liking, retweeting, replying, with the occasional original post, to an original post being the focus. We are creating and adding to our own story rather than expanding and adding to someone else’s. Of course it’s not wrong to be involved in other people’s lives, we are created to be in community, but by creating first the involvement turns into a conversation rather than just turning the volume up for someone else. There’s a balance to be found.
Last week I was away at the CMJ Conference, I had the pleasure of joining them to take photos of the event, post to social media throughout it on their accounts, and to hear some excellent bible teaching in the process. It lasted from Friday afternoon to late Sunday afternoon, and by the time I got home I was absolutely exhausted. I spent most of the week recovering whilst trying to work and, thankfully, have spent most of this weekend doing some serious introverting at home.
Last Saturday afternoon while I was sat on the sofa reading and watching Le Tour, it struck me that we are nearly at the end of July. We’re over halfway through the year and it seemed like a good time to review some of the goals I set out with at the start of the year.
For those who don’t know, I laid them out in my now page at the start of the year, which saw an update in April. Whilst I didn’t make a post here about those updates, a mid year review of those aims seems like a good thing to make note of.
Health & Personal
One of my aims at the start of the year was to take better care of myself than I’ve done in previous years. I bought a Fitbit and set out to hit the 10,000 steps per day goal. That aim is going reasonably well. I’m hitting an average of 9,219 steps per day, which isn’t quite the 10,000 I’m aiming for. However when you consider that I’ve spent a total of 2 weeks taken out by illness (thanks former housemates for sharing your bugs) or my wisdom tooth operation when I barely hit 1000 steps a day, I’ll take it.
In terms of exercise, I was playing football most weeks until it stopped for the summer, although I wasn’t enjoying it quite as much as I had done. The couch to 5K plan hasn’t really happened either, running is something I do not enjoy, I find it frustrating and boring so easily become demotivated to do it. I have however been doing a Fitstar work out most weeks since May, although I confess that June/July has not been great on this front I’ve started that up again this weekend.
I’m pleased to say that I am still working through the 5 Day Reading Plan. I’ve gotten behind a few times but never more than a week, and what’s more, I don’t find myself reading out of obligation but out of desire to keep reading The Word of The Lord.
My use of the Prayer Mate app has also continued although much more spottily. I go through phases of using it everyday and then phases of only using it here and there. That’s ok though, it’s a tool after all and not an obligation or the only way to pray. The times I’ve used it well it’s been beneficial, but so have the times when I have not used it as much.
When it comes to the memorisation of scripture, I’ve not been quite so good. The Verses app is still on my iPhone, but I haven’t used it as much as I hoped. I plan to be more intentional over the second half of the year to make use of this app.
I’m still continuing to do this, and in fact the last couple of months have been busy and very enjoyable. Please do recommend me or get in touch if you know anyone who might need some design work.
I am posting to this site more regularly, although the majority of the posts are small status type posts I have been able to post a few more considered posts. One thing I’ve noticed it that I am posting less links which means that more of the content here is original and not pointing to somewhere else. One thing I have decided to do is put less pressure on myself to post, it’s my site after all and so why should there be a pressure to put something here if I’m not feeling creative in that way.
I have also started another side project, and I can’t decide whether to dual post here as well as there. In the mean time it will remain where it is and on Medium as a publication.
My Goodreads Reading Challenge is on track. Of the 25 books I pledged to read I’ve read 13 so far and am a good chunk through 2 more. Once again the number of fiction books are outweighing the non-fiction ones, which is understandable as I read at the end of each day to help me relax, it is something I would like to be more even over the next half of the year.
On reflection it’s been a pretty good first half of the year, both in terms of the goals I set out to accomplish and in some of the things that happen in life. My prayer is that the second will continue in this vein, perhaps with a bit more progress on the healthier living side of things than I’ve had so far.
Back in January 2015 when I realised I was ill, and consequently started a course of antidepressants, many people encouraged me to exercise. I had been a keen cyclist and they encouraged me to keep at it and get out on my bike as much as I could. I was told, and in fact read many times, that exercise was a great way of countering some of the symptoms of depression. My issue was that the thought of going out on my bike caused me anxiety and stress, both things which I was trying to avoid and so I dismissed the notion as not for me. Nearly two and a half years later I’m starting to understand a little of what the mysterious they were talking about.
About a month ago I moved into a new flat, one which I’m living in on my own, it’s great to have my own space again. As a consequence of that move I’ve been doing a lot more walking. It’s located in such a place that I can walk to pretty much everywhere I need to go on a regular basis. I can walk to my shifts at the coffee house, my church, a couple of supermarkets, as well as the centre of town, and I’ve been doing that as much as is practically possible. It’s become a time that I enjoy, an opportunity to pop my headphones in and listen to some music or catch up on a few podcasts.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve begun to notice something, when I don’t get my daily walks in my mood suffers. The realisation has come home to roost this bank holiday weekend. On Saturday and Monday I didn’t really go out. I stayed home in my flat tinkering on my websites, making a few adjustments, watching some TV shows, what most people call relaxing. And it has been just that, but today I noticed the heaviness creeping in, it made me realise what effect going out for a walk has on me.
It’s not just the small amount of exercise that a brisk walk provides that I’ve missed today, it’s the intentionality of going for a walk. Instead of the day just passing by, the act of walking to work is intentional and provides an element of structure to my day. I need to schedule in the time for my walk to work otherwise I won’t get there on time letting people down. It helps that my walk to work is a pleasant one down an old railway line, that’s what’s in the photo at the top of this post, for a moment I can be lost in the wonder of looking at the trees and greenery as I walk. It provides a chance to look at God’s creation and see how the same place changes from day to day. It’s a chance to walk and listen to some new music or the latest podcasts, in my own little world that’s outside in the wider world. It’s a chance to pop the headphones out and walk listening to the birds and rustling of the trees. When the sun’s out it’s especially enjoyable, but even on a rainy day I look forward to my walk to work.
Almost by accident I’ve discovered that the act of walking to work provides me with a moment of calm. In that walk there is nothing I can do for my design business, nothing I need to do for my coffee house shift, no tweets or Instagram photos to catch up on (unless I want to walk into my fellow walkers or be run over by the many cyclists), I can just enjoy the simple act of walking.