Creator or Consumer?

Have you ever thought about where you fall in the categories of humankind? I must admit, it’s a subject that has been done to death by philosophers over the centuries, and there really isn’t anything I could say that hasn’t been said before. I can’t even say it in a much more entertaining or clever way, either. There is a certain value, however, in reminding myself (and you) that the great majority of mankind could be said to fall into two categories: that of the creator, and that of the consumer.

Having recently acquired an iPad has forced me to determine for myself which of these categories I would like to fall into. I say ‘would like’ because it is a thing in progress. ūüėČ When I got my iPad I spent some time browsing tutorials on how to use the iPad and also to find out which applications would best suit me as a nursing student and aspiring writer. The majority of blogs, news articles and so forth were in two camps about the iPad’s functionality: some were of the opinion that it was good mainly for consumption – that is, for watching movies, playing games, browsing, and generally wasting time (blame it all on the magnificent Retina display).

As I am now the very proud owner of an iPad, I find myself at two roads diverged… however, I do not believe so much that it is the iPad’s innate functionality in question, but the owner’s use of it. Can I say anything more obvious? Yet it is surprising that so many journalists, tech experts and the like feel the need to do endless reviews of the iPad praising its many qualities – both as an instrument for creation and as a tool for consumption, as well as taking very definite stands as to which activity owning an iPad encourages most. The iPad itself is thus at question, not the user. Were I to conduct a research project on the opinion of the so-called ‘tech’ population in regards to its perspectives on the iPad I could, hypothetically speaking, and based on my personal research, find a sample of people that stubbornly uphold the iPad as only a consumptive device. Not a word about a consumptive generation, mind you – it’s all to do with the device!

Is this reflective of a lack of accountability? That we blame our tools for our lack of creativity instead of ourselves?

I believe it is true to say that nowadays the average person creates far less than they used to – although they mightn’t like to admit that. Just think – In our great-grandfather’s day if you wanted to cook a hot meal, you did it from scratch. No zapping things in the microwave! If you wanted a certain kind of dress, you made it yourself. Think of the creativity involved in such a task! Choosing the fabric, planning the design, etc… nowadays we just drive to the store and buy a ready-made, factory produced piece, the thousandth of its kind. Readily made foods in the form of chain-food stores and supermarkets make life even easier. An elderly lady once told me that life in the 21st Century was much more fast-paced than in the early, or even mid 20th Century. Why is that? I ask myself. Is life nowadays necessarily happier, since we have things so easy? Mind you, of course I acknowledge that everyone works hard according to their capacity and according to their obligation to survive in this world today. I’m merely addressing the changes in our contemporary society that seemingly make life easier than it was a century ago, with our technology, namely, computers, faster cars, iPads, heating systems, washing machines, etc., not to mention television.

It is undeniable that the great advances in technology feed the creativity of some – take the talented movies directors of our time, for example, or the masters of their craft who have refined technology to such an extent that we, the common populace, can now scarcely do without our devices. But what of the countless others? Those who watch, rather than do? Everyone is familiar with the image of the working class person who comes home from work in the evening, and slumps down in front of the television after a day at the office. Wives complain about it; soap operas glamorise it. Seriously, what would happen if the Internet globally crashed for a whole week? Mayhem? I’d say so…

The debate over the iPad’s functionality and use is an instance where mankind judges his ability to produce based on the limitations of a device. It makes one wonder how Tolkien got by penning ideas for his story on the back of a student’s essay! In some ways the proliferation of technical devices has dampened our productivity… why? Is it so easy for us nowadays that it’s hard?
Have we lost the will to fight precisely because there is no fight?


Becoming Uninhibited

Ever wondered about the talents you showed as a child not showing up in you as an adult?

Perhaps you are now painfully shy, and lack the confidence to even eat in public.  Yet, as a child you never hesitated to pick your nose, or do the most outrageous things in full view of everyone!

I often envy the innocence and guileness nature of most children. ¬†Children aren’t typically known for their tact or discretion. ¬†No, prudence is an adult virtue. ¬†Sadly, human respect is an adult vice. ¬†(Generally speaking.)

Some call it socialisation. ¬†Psychoanalysts, behavioural psychologists,¬†those sorts of people who sit back and study human nature and behaviour in its forms. ¬†Call it what you will, but¬†I could certainly live without it. ¬†It’s like living through someone else’s eyes.

Does that make sense? Have you ever done anything, or¬†not done something you thought you should, simply because you wanted to avoid the repercussions it would cause in people who did not agree? Mind you, I am not talking of doing unlawful things, but just everyday decisions, or, more to the point, decisions that impact your own life and happiness, that isn’t really the business of anyone else. ¬†I see all the time so many instances of persons who never realise their full potential, WHATEVER that might be or¬†take, BECAUSE SOMEONE NEGATIVE STOPPED THEM. ¬†It didn’t have to be in so many words; a scornful look, a hurtful joke, anything.

Even more, ¬†it’s oftentimes a vicious cycle. ¬†Those who are subject to this kind of treatment often become that way themselves, and pass on the negativity to others.

Where does it stop?

I say it stops with me.  You.  Him.  Her.  Right now.

It’s time to be fearless. ¬†What is that something you wished you were doing, instead of coming home after work and just blobbing in front of the television? Sure, it feels relaxing and good at the time, but don’t you ever regret it when you look back on the endless stream of evenings spent this way, when perhaps your children have grown up under your very nose and you have missed it?

Perhaps you are an alcoholic. ¬†Or suffer from a drug addiction. ¬†Perhaps you are generally unhappy with your lot in life. ¬†Whatever the problem is, it’s still the beginning of 2013. ¬†Don’t waste this year. ¬†Find something, be it small or great, that changes things to how you’d be wanting them to have been, when you come to the end of your life.

I think that’s a valid goal for anyone. ¬†Isn’t that what New Year’s resolutions are generally about? How to¬†better ourselves somehow? Or better our management of things? Did¬†you make resolutions? How’s that going?

Maybe I shouldn’t ask. ¬†But if you have kept to your resolutions, I’m sure you know how HARD that can be. ¬†Perhaps they were too general, or too inconvenient?

So, let me reiterate: pick just ONE thing that you can do without too much trouble, that will, slowly and surely, make you happier.  In the long run.

And see how it goes!


Going Against the Grain

My last post dealt with deciding if you are in a rut.  Ruts are tricky things; they can be emotional, mental, or physical, even.  They can spread out like tendrils into various aspects of our lives until they eventually take over our lives.

The rut you find yourself in will be specific to YOU. ¬†If you are a writer, for example, that rut might be a wall-like barrier to your creativity. ¬†In writer’s terms, this is often called ‘writer’s block’. ¬†I see in my mind a haunting image of the writer at a desk, gazing blankly at a computer screen. ¬†A recipe for sore eyes, I can assure you.

Writer’s block. ¬†This is an excuse behind which most unsuccessful writers hide. ¬†Have you noticed anything about excuses? They are defense-walls. ¬†Very often they defend us from what we are afraid of, too tired, too lazy, or too ignorant to break down. ¬†Have you ever been told, “honey, the only thing standing in your way is¬†you?”

As¬†clich√©d as that sounds, it’s true.

You¬†can¬†burst through writer’s block. ¬†Want to know how? Observe the kind of university student (just one example out of the many kinds of university students out there) who procrastinates on assignments, but says that they work best with panic on their side. ¬†Honestly, the best work they do is in the final week, or couple of days before the assignment is due. ¬†Suddenly they’re on a roll! Legal pads come out, they scribble frantically as one idea after another pops into their head. ¬†Miraculous ways of garnering information are discovered, from Google Books to online databases you and I have never heard of before. ¬†Whether their quality of works merits an A or a C-, supposing they pass the assignment, they will tell you that their best work happened in those hours of pushing themselves. ¬†Panic was their¬†friend. ¬†Often these students enjoyed their studies most at that time, rather than when they were sitting in class for weeks in advance (which were meant to be used in preparation for the assignment in the first place) playing Candy Crush Saga on their smartphones.

Why does this happen?

I rather think it’s partly because in that time of panic they¬†did not have time¬†to second-guess themselves or question how they were going to produce. ¬†The time of what I term ‘negotiating procrastination’ was over. ¬†Being out of time, they just went for it. ¬†They had to. ¬†Failure is not an option. ¬†As painful as it was, they forced themselves through it.

Here’s one piece of advice I will give you: Never debate with yourself about what you have to do to achieve what you want in life – your goals. ¬†If you have set up actions to forward the achievement of your goals, do not allow yourself to compromise on those actions.

As a more typical example, let’s say you’ve decided in this New Year, to get up every day except Sunday at 5am. ¬†I tried this once. ¬†I’m sure you know how it went – ¬†As soon as the alarm on my iPhone rang, I hit the snooze button. ¬†Fine – it’s permissible to hit the snooze button. ¬†Once.

Not five times.

Which is what I did ūüėČ

Thinking about it later in the day, I decided to do what any lifestyle website writing on “Waking Up Early” would tell you to do – put the alarm clock, or cell phone, far away from you so you¬†have to get up, just to turn it off.

The reason for this is simple. ¬†I discovered the next day that I was so concentrated on turning off the alarm that I jumped (literally) out of bed (I didn’t want to wake the others in the house) and turned it off. ¬†Immediately I climbed back into bed.


Obviously, a new strategy was needed.  This is what I have now come up with to get myself out of bed in the mornings.  Let me bullet-point it for you:

  • put the alarm clock away on the other side of the room from the bed
  • go straightaway to the toilet
  • while washing my hands after, I might as well wash my face
  • oh, while I’m up I might as well have a coffee
  • hey – I wonder if that client has emailed me back yet concerning my post?

There! I’m up! I’m up! I’m up!!!

In a nutshell, I’ve stumbled upon a routine that works for me. ¬†You might be able to notice from my train of thought once I’m out of bed, that my subsequent actions follow quite naturally. ¬†There’s no pressure for me to “stay awake” – I do not agonize about “Ohhh, man, I have to stay awake… I’m soooo tired… just another minute…”

Nope. ¬†My actions are simple, and natural. ¬†I need to go to the toilet. ¬†I need to wash my hands. ¬†Those actions for¬†me¬†go without question once I’m first awake. ¬†Washing my face and having a cup of coffee are actions I enjoy. ¬†And the curiousity of whether I’ve been emailed really helps me to not even think about going back to bed.

See, there was no debate, no conversation going on my head that might open me to the attractive possibility of a few more minutes of snoozing.

To break out of your rut, you will undoubtedly find that you need to do something that is completely unexpected. ¬†A bit like Tolkien’s Bilbo Baggins. ¬†I’m a big fan of¬†The Hobbit, and anyone who reads it will be amused and inspired by the way Bilbo became the Bilbo of legend, and not a simple Baggins of Bag End who never did anything out of the ordinary. ¬†No – he did something quite unusual: he had an¬†adventure. ¬†He went against the grain – and so must you.

Back to the example of arising at 5am РI had spent years sleeping closer to that time than waking at that time.  So the idea of waking at that time was revolutionary!

There’s something about doing ‘the unexpected’. ¬†A kind of attraction and intrigue about doing something revolutionary to your normal behaviour.

My Reader, I encourage you to sit and think. ¬†Pull out a notepad and make notes. ¬†Brainstorm. ¬†Screw that up and rewrite your ideas of change without the chance of referring ¬†to what you read before. ¬†Why do this? I’ll explain later. ¬†For now, remember,¬†tiny steps. ¬†You need to challenge that rut. ¬†Step out of it. ¬†Yes! Yes, you can do it! It’s called will-power. ¬†You need to apply yourself to the work of revolutionising your way of thinking, your way of trapping yourself in ruts, whether they be emotional, mental, physical, and so forth.

Leave any comments below, if you’ve found this article thought-provoking. ¬†Oh, and I’d be eternally grateful if you’d sign up to follow my blog ūüėČ

More later!

PS * Also, here’s a neat trick: if you read “How to Sleep Better” blogs or articles, they’ll usually tell you to not use a computer or watch TV or any other backlit device for a few hours before going to bed. ¬†That’s because the exposure to bright light suppresses melatonin release, which helps you to feel sleepy. ¬†Well, I’ve found that the light from my PC or iPhone wakes me up something marvelous. ¬†Try it!

Is It a Rut?

Okay so… in the first place, how do you know if you’re in a rut?

Firstly, let’s define ‘rut’. In a manner of speaking, a rut is intended to mean a groove that you are struggling to drive out of, if you are trying to escape at all. For the purposes of this blog, it might be a life situation that you find yourself in that is less than desirable, or a state of mind that you cannot shake. Whether it be one or more of these possibilities, it is either something that sinks you into a static depression, or kickstarts your innate ‘fight or flight’ drive. In other words, there are those who remain stuck in a groove all their lives, and always ‘mean to’ do something refreshingly different, but who never actually do, because ‘the time is never right’. One of my friends who also was a caregiver constantly said, “oh, as soon as another job comes up, I’m leaving this place!”

Thing was, she’d worked there for donkey’s years, and will probably stay there till she retires.

Examples of this sort of doggedly putting-up-with-a-situation-that-you-hate abound in human life. And there will always be sensible reasons for us doing so. Lack of sufficient income, kids to feed, bills to pay, etc. Yet we pine after those who were brave enough to make changes to their lives, and who are now happy as a result. Evidence of this is everywhere. The Internet is a wonderful thing – everyone tells everyone their life story! While this might be frowned upon, it is a great tool for self-education and learning from other’s mistakes. It will always be true that no great things were achieved without sacrifice. Changes are not made in a day. Success takes time and effort, however you choose to define it. Basically, you’ve got to do the hard yards first.

That being said, plan your work, and then work the plan. So you’re in a rut. You feel under-utilised, over-worked in a situation you hate, trapped in a bad working or personal relationship, whatever the case might be. The list is infinite. Will you stay there, like an animal in a trap, or will you take your life in your own hands and accomplish what you were born to?

You are?


What to do next?

Let me give you an example from my own life. For many years I worked as a hospital assistant, here in New Zealand. I needed the money, being first of all a poor Arts student, and then a poor Nursing student. For six years in total (a long time in my book) I put up with back breaking lifting, (although striclty speaking you are not allowed to lift in NZ resthomes, but please – as if hoists and slippery-sams are all that easy to operate? Talk about cumbersome!) cleaning all manner of human waste, and being faced with a decrepit and thankless form of human nature. The pay was a joke. Most importantly for me, I was waking up each day dreading getting out of bed and going into a job I absolutely hated. I hated every minute of it, from the time I arrived to the time I left.

To be fair, Nursing was not what I really wanted to do with my life. It was a poor decision, in any case, to decide to become a nurse. Since I was little I loved to draw and write, and was fascinated by Ancient History and Mythology. The possibility of exploring other worlds in the distant past was always something I was waiting to grow up to be able to do. Sadly, when I did grow up and leave high school, I was stuck in a very narrow-minded bubble; I was advised to get a degree – it didn’t seem to matter to my so-called advisors what degree it was, just as long as it was a piece of paper saying I had completed study at Tertiary level. Why a degree? To get a job, of course. Doesn’t matter if you hate it! We need to have a guaranteed income in our day and age, when jobs are scarce. There are always jobs in the Nursing Profession – therefore, away to Nursing School I went.

My Reader, let me tell you, that was the stupidest piece of advice I’ve ever heard in my life. And my following it was the dumbest thing I could have ever done.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with Nursing. I admire nurses with every fibre of my being. For me, though, it was this poor decision that sparked a desire to make some drastic changes in my life. Cleaning all that poop whilst caregiving made me recognize that the reason I was unhappy at that job was because in it I was not utilising my full potential. I knew my talents, but wasn’t using them. This was what made all the difference, I realized. I firmly believe that it is important to work in a field that you enjoy. Here’s my reasoning: you spend no less than eight hours of a day, often more, at your job. Why not do something you love? I lately watched “The Making Of” Appendices to my “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy set, and what struck me as being particularly inspiring, was the way Sir Peter Jackson and his team looked so happy about their work. They seemed up-beat, motivated, and full of energy. “These people truly enjoy what they do,” I thought to myself, “so why shouldn’t I?”

So, I am now doing what I always wanted to do – write. 2013 has marked a new era for me. It’s the year I come into my own as a writer and artist! It’s my time to perfect my craft. Hopefully one day soon I will earn money doing it.

I am fully aware that there are many ‘realistic’ people in the world who will condemn such a radical idea as this. On the phone today to a customer service operator, I said (rather blithely), “I’m going to earn money doing what I love!” To which she replied, sarcastically, I thought – “don’t we all?”

I find her lack of faith sad. Don’t you, My Reader? Look around at the people in life who inspire you. Look at those whose lives you envy. They seem happy to go to work, and seem to do well both in their working and personal lives. They love where they’re at in life, and so on. I bet it’s because they enjoy what they do.

From the example of my own life you can see that I took the first important step: I firstly realised I was in a rut. I came to understand that I was unhappy because I was not doing what I was born to do, quite simply. Maybe you too, have an urge to write, sing, act, study volcanoes, be a zoo-keeper, whatever. Maybe you’ve got the potential to be a brilliant scientist but are stuck in a relationship where your ‘significant other’ refuses to encourage you or give you the chance to explore the amazing possibilities of your talent.

I repeat: Whatever the case might be, your life is what you make of it. We all build and tailor our lives. The couch potato, as obvious as this statement is, has made himself into such. How? Perhaps boredom led to television-gazing, maybe for an hour every evening after work. That soon turned into whole days during the weekends. Maybe now he is in a state of such passivity that he has no drive for life except to relax in front of the screen. Life’s too exhausting anyway, and it’s easier to watch adventures than have them. Before long he has no life outside of the flat screen.

– You get my point.

Take the time to sit back, brainstorm, and think about how you got to where you are now. More than likely your present unhealthy habits or way of life have taken years to form. You can’t rewind the clock, but you can start afresh. Start today, right now, to forge new habits that will help you to accomplish what you want to, to lead a fulfilled life.

Tiny steps…

More later. Share your thoughts below…

Introducing Step Out of That Rut

Step with me…

If you have stumbled upon this page, you’re probably looking for the same thing most of us are at some point or other in our lives: how to get out of this infernal rut you’ve found yourself in. ¬†It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, how old you are, or what your situation in life is. You’ve come to the conclusion that you are unhappy with the way things are at the moment, life couldn’t get any more boring, or mundane, or energy-sapping. ¬†Your spirit feels like it’s almost broken under the weight of the everyday struggle at a job you hate, for example. ¬†You want to live to your full potential, even though you may have no idea what the extent of that is just yet, or how to unleash it.

In a nutshell, you want out.

Well, stay with me here. ¬†You are not alone. ¬†I was exactly like you once upon a time. ¬†Yes, I can actually say that now. ¬†And it wasn’t so long ago, either. ¬†Somehow, though, the feeling of being stuck somewhere I didn’t want to be in my life helped open my eyes to new possibilities. ¬†It is possible, I discovered, to make what seems to be going AGAINST you in life work FOR you. ¬†Maybe that’s old news to more informed and philosophical folk, but it was a revelation to¬†me. ¬†I’ll elaborate on that here.

Yep, that was a great moment when I suddenly realized, “You know, all you have to do to get out of this rut is to¬†step out of it.” ¬†I don’t know where that thought came from, but there. ¬†It’s my motto for this year. ¬†I was inspired then and there to start this blog. ¬†Not to offer advice; I’m not a psychologist, or a counsellor. ¬†Just a writer, wanting to put some ideas out there, spark discussion, and hopefully awaken like-minded individuals to share their own perspectives. ¬†My hope is that this blog will facilitate the birth of new concepts. ¬†In whatever way that happens.

For me, twenty-thirteen is going to be different.  It can be for you too! Break out of that rut!

There’s nothing worse than being pathetic, afraid, and needy. ¬†Unfortunately, so many of us are like that. ¬†Afraid to reach out and fight for what we want. ¬†Take¬†what we want, when it’s there for the taking. ¬†Whether it’s staying at a job we hate, in a one-way friendship that more often than not drags us down rather than lifts us up, or stuck in a life situation that does not fully expends our talents – either because we are too afraid to do something alternative, or because by changing we raise eyebrows – in short, letting our actions be governed by the thoughts of others, approving or otherwise.¬† ¬†Who knows why! ¬†It‚Äôs just how it is.¬† Socialization, some call it.¬† Paralysing is what¬†I¬†call it. ¬†Interestingly, those of us who are lucky enough to recognize that we have this paralysing sickness often hate seeing it in ourselves. ¬†But we just don’t know how to… how can I say it?¬†Get out of that rut. ¬†Our excuse? We lack the creativity, money, resources, blah blah blah, to change our lives.

There are so many great bloggers out there in the cyber universe offering help and¬†advice on how to achieve your goals,¬†live life to the fullest, etc. ¬†So why aren’t we? It’s not that their message doesn’t get to us. ¬†And perhaps it’s not even because we lack the motivation to follow said advice. ¬†Why¬†are¬†we¬†not successful? Fulfillment seems to come so easily to some, and seems out of the reach of others. ¬†Why is this?

Now, I’m not talking about people who don’t want to change. ¬†I’m talking about people who genuinely want to change, and have tried several times to change, but somehow, before long, found themselves back at square one. ¬†I was like that. ¬†Until I discovered something crucial to ongoing – let me repeat –¬†ongoing, success.

What do I mean by success? Do I mean lots of money? Fame? Wealth? Power? Love?

No.  These are often, but are not necessarily, by-products of success.


It’s a fluid concept. ¬†Success for me is living doing what I love. ¬†Success means a fulfilled, content happiness that I feel deep within me in¬†all¬†aspects of my life.

What’s this great secret I’ve discovered? Let me tell you. ¬†It’s the name of this blog. ¬†It is¬†that easy. ¬†Just step out of your rut. ¬†Mind, I use the word¬†step. ¬†It’s not something to be achieved in a moment, a week, or even months. ¬†Visualize a whole series of baby steps, that bring you closer and closer to being the person you want to be. ¬†Living the kind of life you want to live.

What are those steps? It depends on where you want to go. ¬†But before we move on to that, tell me…

are you in a rut?

What is your definition of success?