Lately blogging has fallen to the bottom of my to-do list, but I try to at least make time for Head & Heart each month – it’s such a good way to pause, review the past month and look ahead with future plans. So much has happened over the past month that I thought surely it’s been a couple of months since I last blogged, but it looks like I haven’t quite managed to miss this month’s wrap-up yet!
“A monthly capture of my feelings and doings, in the raw.”
What I’ve been grateful for
The huge support I’ve gotten for Side Project. I’ve been blown away by the people’s generosity, the support from my friends and the words of encouragement from people who maybe aren’t the target audience of the zine but appreciate the effort that went into it and the achievement of taking an idea and turning it into a tangible product. With any labour of love project you have to wonder sometimes whether it’s worth it, but the response we’ve gotten really makes me feel like it is.
Work/Life balance. I love that I can take off at a reasonable time and still put in some good time on my hobbies and side projects! That might make me sound like a less than dedicated employee, but I definitely think that the time spent immersing myself in creative or relaxing things outside of work makes me a happy, balanced and overall better worker than if I was putting in crazy overtime hours. I’m definitely in the ‘work smarter, not harder’ camp.
What I’ve been thinking about
What is work anyway? I tend to think of it as the thing that I do to make money, but I think it’s such a limiting definition that can turn work into a negative. If ‘work’ is tasks undertaken to achieve a purpose, then my lettering, Side Project, cooking, photography etc. are work – they just happen to be work that doesn’t generate income. Conversely, a job that feels like it doesn’t have a meaningful purpose is unsatisfying because it’s something you endure to make money, rather than work in this sense. Here’s a quote on the subject attributed to French writer Chateaubriand:
A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.
Weddings! Three couples of friends got engaged recently and another will be getting married in just a few weeks, so I’m getting caught up in the wedding madness along with them (willingly of course). It’s interesting contrasting the just-engaged happy glow to the is-it-over-yet pre-wedding stress. Weddings are a lot more fun as a helper than as the bride!
What I’m excited for
Issue 2 of Side Project. We have some really cool contributors lined up for the next issue, and this will be the one to really test how the zine will go long term. Our lovely friends were really supportive in buying the first issue, but I’m not so sure the ones who aren’t actually interested in creative living and handicrafts will continue to buy it. It’s both scary and exciting, especially as we connect with new people who have just discovered the zine and are genuinely excited by what we’re trying to do.
South Africa. We fly out for Johannesburg in less than two weeks, then straight off to a safari before flying over to Port Elizabeth and driving along the coast to Cape Town. There’s been so much going on that I’ve hardly had time to get excited, but now that things have calmed down a little it’s starting to hit me. I’ve heard so much about South Africa, especially Cape Town, so I can’t wait to see it.
What I’ve been doing
Side Project launch! At the time of my last blog post, we were waiting for Issue 1 to come back from the printers. Since then we launched the zine with a big party at Beau Est Mien, and have since sold almost all of the 100 copies. I thought the party itself would be easy compared to the stress of making the zine, but it was one very crazy week of preparation and a very full on day getting everything set up. By the end of it I was ready to drop, but I’m so happy and proud of how it all turned out. I think having a team of three makes you all push each other to get things going, whereas on my own I’d be in the planning stages forever.
Art of Inky Letters workshop. I was asked to step in for another artist doing a brush lettering workshop, so for November I was madly practicing and preparing to feel up to the challenge. Running the workshop really made clear to me how much I’ve learned over the past couple of years doing calligraphy, and how even though I’m far from mastering it I still have a lot to share and teach people who are new to the discipline. I’m already starting to think about what I’d do differently if I have another opportunity to teach a workshop again. You can see my calligraphy and lettering work over on Instagram.
No [sham]Poo. Shampoo isn’t really something that I questioned until I started seeing references to the ‘No Poo‘ movement (what an unfortunate name!). But after reading a bit about the subject, the process of using shampoo to vigorously strip hair of oils and then conditioner to put them back on again, along with a cocktail of chemicals, feels like a very inelegant and wasteful process. Switching to baking soda and apple cider vinegar hasn’t entirely been a smooth process, and I feel like I haven’t quite gotten the balance right yet, but chasing that elegant solution keeps me going. I’ll update the blog on my progress once I feel like I’ve gotten it right, but I do encourage you to give it a go!
Alexander Technique lessons. I’ve struggled to explain the Alexander Technique to people, and to be honest it sounded far too wishy washy when I first heard about it from my sister in law. But with my ongoing back issues I felt that it was time to give it a go, especially as there is evidence of its effectiveness in treating chronic pain, particularly back pain. It’s fascinating and I think helpful so far – at the very least I’m far more aware of how I hold my body and move, and how much this has been effected by my experiences and environment. This year has been one of my worst in terms of pain levels, so I have my fingers crossed that this will be a step in the right direction.
What I’ve been reading
On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Classics feel punishing when I’m reading them, but it feels worth it for those fantastic thought-provoking nuggets of wisdom and actually understanding references made to them in other texts and media. On the Road has been on my to-read list forever, and it feels appropriate reading material for travels. I’ve only just made it through the lengthy introduction/analysis so far, so we’ll see if it lives up to the hype and makes me want to go backpacking.
Tickle the Imagination. I just came across this Perth-based magazine at a market recently, and am in love! It’s kind of what Side Project wants to be when it grows up – polished, full of amazing photography and content, and distributed all over Australia. I’m in awe of editor & designer Tanya Collier who manages to single-handedly do what it takes the three of us to, whilst also wrangling kids. If you’re into crafting and handmade things, it’s definitely the magazine to see and be seen in.
Generally I’ve been a lot more relaxed about reading articles and things lately – less reading more doing. I think both are good to do, so I’m just rolling with it and gathering interesting links on my to-read-later list for when I feel like it.
What I’ve been spending my money on
Travel. In Bali I spent what is really a pittance on what felt like a ridiculous amount of food; I’m now booking accommodation and paying off flights and safari balances for South Africa. There’s not much I’d rather spend money on than travel.
If you’d like to join us or see others’ posts in this monthly series, head on over to helario.us for the master list.
Pictured above: The entrance to Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, in Ubud, Bali.