Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Making Choices

This is my first al fresco vlog - I take a few minutes in the park (St James's not Green Park as I mistakenly say in the video) in London to ponder the way we make choices about how to spend our free time. This topic was inspired by Dom's recent decision to take a break from studying karate in order to focus on podcasting and vlogging.

 Do you operate from a position of hedonistic pleasure seeking, thoughtless whim or calculated strategy? Also there are squirrels.

My husband's channel - in case you want to check it out

Monday, November 21, 2016

My Self-Help Addiction

Today I am getting up close and personal with my self-help habit.  I have been looking for answers for years but seem no closer to finding them than when I first began to look.  Could it be that the search is futile?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Can the US election make me a better person?

New video up about the US Election .

Everyone is talking about it but I hope I am bringing a new perspective to the table, albeit a very personal one .

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

From blogging to vlogging

So I started a YouTube channel called Imagine the North, and here is the first video.  It is my attempt at picking up where I left off when the blogging muse failed me.  Let's hope the muse of vlogging is a little more tenacious.  It is rough and ready, I need a lot of practice but here goes.  Love.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Journalling - humble beginnings

Midori Travelers Notebook, Bullet Journal, Planning, art journaling
sample pages from my Bullet Journal and Midori Traveler's Notebook

When I was about 10 years old I had a sleep-over at a friend's house. We got ready for bed and went to say good night to my friend's mum who was herself sitting up in bed writing in a notebook.
"What are you writing?" I asked.
"Well, actually I am writing about you" she smiled. "Every night I write the day's events in my diary, the things I did, what made me happy and what made me sad. Right now I am telling my diary how you came to spend the day and night at our house."
My friend's mum, her bright coloured pyjamas and her glasses perched on her nose with a double drape of beaded chain swinging from each temple, instantly became promoted to the coolest person I knew. She was talking to her diary, about me no less.

Subsequently I became one of those people who started a diary on January the first every year of my life (since I have been able to write) and rarely made it past Epiphany. Maybe once or twice I dragged my pen into February - entries all ready having degraded to "sunny morning, beans for dinner, Sons of Anarchy / awesome".

Once I maintained a sporadic journal for over a year and rereading those entries both horrify and fascinate me. But I am sometimes envious of people who trained their journalling muscle young, and have a stack of well-inked notebooks chronicling their life. And it isn't particularly that I want to reread all of what happened: there are great chunks my life that I know I have forgotten and will probably never retrieve, and in many cases this is a good thing as much of my past was spent crouched in a corner rocking. I definitely wasn't always as happy as I am now and the fact that the memory of pain fades is a good thing. Anyway 'no regrets' is a personal mantra - so looking forward, I am now the proud owner of a journal writing habit - how did that happen?

Well, I started bullet journalling.

I won't explain bullet journalling now as there is tons on the interwebs about it - and if you are interested go here. But basically I was using a couple of digital productivity tools to stay on top of my work tasks but nothing was really working to my satisfaction. I think productivity is something that can be trained - but just like any form of 'fitness' you need to find a way of training that suits your personality. Bullet journalling worked as a framework for me and the motivation to stick with it came from stumbling upon an online community of fellow journal lovers on YouTube and Instagram whose love of all things stationery was deeply infectious (hello, washi tape!).

I started in July this year, sustained it through the past five months in a way that feels comfortable and makes me confident that I have formed a habit and not just flirted with one. It is a process that always has room for refinement and evolution - but it is here to stay.

The one thing I was struggling with however was how to combine my work and free time journalling. Work was easy - the bullet journal took care of that, but I found my weekend / free-time entries often became long narrative pieces (all journal and no bullets essentially). And I realised that while I wanted to 'organise' my working life from this point (where I am at) to some point in the future, my free time was a combination of planning and organisation (chores and projects) and reflection / learning from events and experiences (basically the stuff of traditional memory-making), and the two formats didn't mesh.

Then I met Midori.  The Midori Traveler's Notebook (MTN) a lovely leather-bound notebook system designed for travellers to document their journey, but used by pretty much anyone for pretty much anything. I fell in love with this system by watching YouTube videos of creative people enthuse about the softness of the leather, the thinness of the paper and the flexibility of the system.  On holiday in Singapore I found a retailer and splurged - hard. The rest, as they say, is history.  My Midori is where I keep my narrative - the reflections and unbulletable (it's a word now) text that helps keep me sane.  There are no dates and therefore no guilt about blank pages and as my fragile habit of reflection is tethered to my more stable habit of organisation I am able to sustain it.  Magic.

So this is just my introduction to this theme - I will share thoughts and pages regularly and keep you updated on the evolution of this habit.  But let me leave you with a few of the online resources (people and pages) that have been my inspiration during those crucial first months.  I am very grateful.

Courtney @ Little Raven Ink & The Little Ink
Kim @ Tiny Ray of Sunshine (and through this site I found the Instagram #planwithmechallenge - which I HIGHLY recommend).
Jessica @ Pretty Prints & Paper
Kara @ Boho Berry
and Dee @ Decade Thirty who also has a fab Etsy shop here

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New look for an old bag, I mean blog

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Originally we used to organize our blog posts by date. You found someone writing about a topic that interested you and read their most recent post. Then if you enjoyed it, you scrolled down and read some early stuff.  A dedicated reader might travel back in time quite far, and notice the posts getting slowly less useful / funny / well-written / articulate / diligently proofread until you end at their beginning with a clumsy first post:

"Hello, this is my blog - I am not really sure what I am doing right now but I hope some people will enjoy reading about my shot glass collection".

Or something.

When I started this blog back in 2008 tag clouds were all the rage.  We dumped as many keywords as we could think of into that label box and built up a bank of words that ostensibly existed to help people find all the cool stuff. A bit of code ensured that words were rendered to scale according to their frequency (commonly used tags were larger).  Then one day some devious plugin-coding-masturbator figured out how to make them spin and we all wanted one of those.

Boy did we think they were awesome, but then we though Microsoft's marching red ants were awesome for a while, and Geocities gifs, and Myspace glitter graphics. Or maybe we didn't, because you would have to be as old as me to remember these things.

Anyway yesterday I spent an hour taking all of my tags out of every post so I could re-purpose the 'label' plugin with a category function.  I'm dusting off the old blog as I have started getting a little more creative and it is nice to document these things. Imagine The North (ITN) is the only blog (and I have had many several) that really works for me.  Looking around most blogs these days use between three and ten categories / subcategories - which makes a lot of sense; we might not stick to one topic, but people usually are drawn to our blogs through a common interest and they want to be able to find relevant content easily. Of course we hope they will then be drawn to content on other themes and become Faithful Readers of Everything.

So I have been trying to chose categories.  Here is where I am right now:

Journals & organisation
Thailand & travel
Health & wealth
Apps & tech
Close to home

Okay so I am being a bit sneaky as most of these categories are actually two categories mashed together (and let's be honest 'Close to home' is essentially everything else).  But I think this just about covers the main areas I am interested in / likely to post about.

Which is basically a long-winded way of saying, I'm back - blogging.

selfie trans MakeupPlus app beard sexy chihuahua
WTF Mama?!

(it's an app)