Morning Pages Ritual

On and off for years now I follow a Morning Pages ritual. I try to do it everyday. That doesn’t always work. I don’t beat myself up if I miss a day, or a week or a month. I just show up again and continue where I left off. They are called Morning Pages yet I tend to write mine in the evenings, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning when I haven’t gone to sleep yet. I rarely write in the morning yet I still choose to call them Morning Pages (MP). My sleep pattern at the moment is late. I sleep late and I get up late. Am I a night owl? Yes, I suppose. Would I like to be an early riser at dawn or 5am? Nah. I do know that’s just not me.

A ritual for me is a sequence of minor actions that are repeated to set the mood or scene for the intended major action in a particular place. There is no religious significance for me. Yet this repeated series of actions could be considered a type of meditation. So rituals could be absolutely anything done mindfully or thoughtfully: taking a walk, preparing a meal, gardening, writing, painting,… The preparation of getting the minor actions in motion allow the mind to prepare for the next action and the next until the major action. If you are lucky then ‘flow’ will follow. Taking a walk ritual could actually begin the night before when you select socks and place your shoes by the front door. Preparing a meal could start the night before also defrosting ingredients. Calling what I do a ritual makes it purposeful and more meaningful to me. I take care to get items ready. I enjoy the sequence and the scene. It sparks joy in my day.

My Morning Pages ritual location is well chosen. I made an oasis in a area of my studio. I have a Japanese desk that sits on on a carpet on top of two Japanese tatami mats. There are no legs to the desk. It sits low and right on ground and I love it. I bought the desk in a secondhand shop many years ago. I bought the tatami mats at an online auction. The desk has a fold down front and doesn’t take up much space so I always leave the writing desk open ready to write. There is one drawer inside and many cubby holes, slots and shelves to store paper and other stationery. There are sliding doors under the fold down front for more storage. It is a simple and well designed desk. I only ever wear socks or bare feet in the house so the tatami should last for many years.

I have an eclectic collection of miscellaneous knick-knacks on top of my Japanese desk. Ganesh sits next to a giant Troll doll with purple hair bought for two dollars at a weekend market, two minute origami cranes that were gifts from a best friend’s daughters lounge in front of an old Russian ink blotter that was hand carved during WW2. I have a Bakelite and metal calendar that I picked up while shopping with my uncle and aunt. I have a Russian doll that I painted as a red owl. A barometer stands next to a mini soft toy Totoro and a Gegege no Kitaro’s father plastic figurine. There is a collection of small interestingly shaped stones, there is sand in a tiny glass bottle from a friend who visited the Sahara Desert, a tiny capsule of red ochre collected while following the ghost of Matisee in France, a hand drawn postcard and an essential oil burner made out of rock.

There is a fabric coaster where I place my tea or coffee. There is a wooden stand where my fountain pen rests. The journal leans ready in the cubby hole. I have a green felt mat that I cut to size that I rest on top of the open desk. It is covered in paint splotches and I have no intention of replacing it for something new. This is a place of creativity, or mistakes and ideas. The old felt mat stays. The desk also has paint splotches too. I leave them there for the same reasons. I have ink bottles ready for when the ink runs out. Today I use Pelikan Edelstein’s Smoky Quartz ink. For everyday writing I use a red Lamy Safari fountain pen. I find the colour puts me into a good mood. I own several colours yet I keep going back to red. I write in a Japanese journal. The paper is exceptionally smooth. I like the sound of the ink gliding over the paper. I love stationery and paper. Smooth paper for journaling, And piles of blank and full journals and sketchbooks.

I make a cup of tea or coffee, I light a tealight candle, put a few drops of essential oils into the oil burner, change the old-fashioned Bakelite calendar by flipping the day of the week, scrolling the day of the month, I turn on the lamp, I get out my journal from the shelf, I pick up my fountain pen and I start writing. If I’m really lucky one of our cats will curl up in the basket and be in my eye line. It’s a peaceful view.

I have created a place to write that is comfy. I have the flame of the tea light candle, the smell of the oils, a comfortable cushion on top of a legless swivel leather chair. The location is set, the writing instruments are laid out, the ritual is in motion. Something to drink. The one thing I don’t prepare is what I wear for my MP ritual. I wear what I am wearing at the time. The clothing isn’t important. Sometimes I am still in my pyjamas, other times dressed for lounging, or ready to go out. For the MP ritual the clothing isn’t a part of it. The only thing would be that the clothing be comfortable for sitting cross-legged. Nothing more.

But what do I write? How many pages do I write? I write the date at the top, the day of the week in Spanish, and a simple tiny picture of the weather. The next line down I write where I am, the city. And after that I write whatever comes into my head. I mostly write three pages. I write down my thoughts, my feelings, my emotions, my dreams, my gripes, my questions, my ideas. Anything. I write out an affirmation five times somewhere in those three pages. I also write down three things that I’m grateful for. Some days the words just flow and the end of the third page is a breeze. I end with the words ‘Well done.” I rarely read what I write again. It is really to clear my mind of clutter. Sometimes there are a few good ideas and I might flip back to it to remind myself. Some days I am up and down like a yo-yo and it takes forever to finish. Some days one page is all that happens. What I write, how much I write is not the point of the ritual. The point of the ritual is to show up and open the journal.

Do I notice when the candle flame goes out? Not usually. Do I watch the clock to see if I am writing fast enough? Sometimes. On those days I am writing like a snail pushing a nut uphill. Do I forget to change the month on the desk calendar? Sometimes. The sound of the click as the metal hits the bottom of the date is very satisfying. One more day of writing to do. I am showing up. I am here.

What daily, weekly, monthly or annual rituals have you added to your life?

Sober as a line of Sahara sand.


Space: Physical 01

I can look at a space, let’s say a lawn, and I can envision what it could look like with say raised vegetable beds there instead of said lawn. I can picture it in my mind and imagine what it could look like. To know whether something is a good idea or a bad one ahead of time can save you time, money and stress.

I can look at an existing lawn and envision something else in its place with relative ease yet if it were a completely undeveloped site, say a new house and untouched landscaping then I would be stuck completely.

On the surface these two scenarios seem the same but they are not. One starts with an idea that has already been laid out, the other is a completely blank canvas. You could argue that they are indeed the same, you just need to imagine no lawn and then go from there.

Another aspect of this is with an already developed area you can see what has been planted or how it has been landscaped, hard and soft, what grows, how the sunlight affects the area. It has been done once. The fact that you are taking a closer look at the area means that you are ready for change. You want to improve the area, make it more you, more in keeping with the rest of the land, neighbourhood or the times.

When you have a blank canvas with an outdoor space you have unlimited possibilities to develop and create an area to the best of your ability and budget. That blank canvas can be frightening, to the point of inaction. Too many choices, too many options, no clear idea so resulting in indecision and not moving forward.

If you have made it this far, you are still with me. What I am trying to say is that I find it relatively easy to arrange things spatially in my mind without having to assemble something first. I love puzzles and assembling kit set furniture. I love maps and have an insanely good sense of direction.

Say if you were house hunting and you were visiting an open home and it was stuffed with the owner’s possessions and they weren’t to your taste I could easily imagine what it could look like with my own instead. I can overlook the madness and see a new vision. Yet with viewing a home that is void of furniture I find it harder to imagine what it could look like because there is no scale, the palette is clear and the reverse happens. I find it very difficult to imagine the possibilities because there are too many.

I understand why staging companies have multiplied in New Zealand. We are copying the American way of selling house. Plus we have a growing population and an economy that seems to be doing quite well. We have more money than sense. By staging I mean companies that ask owners to remove all of their belongings and clutter and any ounce of a homely feel and instead bring in generic furniture and other items to create an image of the ideal home without the overflowing junk. People either store their belongings or have already purchased their new home and have moved on hoping to sell their home for the best price.

I value space. I appreciate space. I think I need more of it than most. I don’t like to be confined, cramped or squashed. But then again who does? No one. I feel most comfortable when I have plenty of space between myself and the next person, standing, walking or just being. I prefer to live with the view of nature. I like to hear the sound of the trees swaying in the wind. Space now though comes with a premium. Space and convenience are a wanted commodity in the modern world. I love both but I would sacrifice convenience over space any day.

I value space over convenience.

I love putting things together with or without instructions.

I love maps and have an insanely good sense of direction.

I love figuring out spatial puzzles.

10 months sober

For those of you wondering about my maths ability, yes, I jumped the gun earlier, and said I was 9 months sober when in actuality I was only 8 months sober. Today I am absolutely sure that I am 10 months sober.

A year ago today did I think I would be sober? Absolutely not.

A lot has changed.

Being sober seems to be the easy part. The ‘What Next?’ Step is the hardest. What I mean is facing myself and who I am is the challenge. I have spent all my life moulding myself to fit in, blend in or please that I don’t really know who I am. Don’t get me wrong I am not always entirely agreeable. I can be downright stubborn a lot of the time.

Am I being my true self or am I being an image I liked on Pinterest? Is it really me or is it an image of what I think I should be like? Today I have no idea. Today I cannot be bothered to do anything. I think I am afraid that I am nothing more than a couch potato.

My vegetable garden looks an overgrown mess. It is not tended well. Did I plant the garden because I like gardening? Do I want to grow my own vegetables? Because I saw it on YouTube and thought it looked fun, it’s on trend? Why did I bother?

Why did I start my vegetable garden?
I started it because I wanted to have more vegetables on my plate.
I want to eat healthier.
I wanted to have control over what food I ate, as in how it’s grown, spray free, etc,…
I like the idea of going outside to pick something fresh for the table.
The price of salad ingredients is ridiculous and so I wanted to grow my own for a fraction of the price. I wanted to save money.
Having a lawn doing nothing seems like a waste to me and so I wanted to create a garden that produces food for the table, an edible garden of what I like to eat.
The mulch from the hedge clippings goes into the garden and makes great soil. It all stays in the garden. Full circle.
I used the Hulgelkultur method so I could use rotten logs and branches and mulch and tidy up the place.
I measured the distance between the beds so I could easily fit a wheelbarrow between them. It was planned.

Marvellous answers to the question “Why” but do I really like gardening? Is it me? Or am I and will I always be a supermarket shopper? Today I find it hard to answer that. No doesn’t seem right. Yes doesn’t seem right either. I really don’t know. The fact that I have a broken leg and I can’t get about may have something to do with that. The garden doesn’t excite me today. Nothing does. Placing this in the too hard basket and will bring up the question to myself on another day.

Feelings are honest

Feelings are honest. Thoughts sometimes lie.

Feeling can be confusing. Especially if a feeling is new. It might be hard to describe and put your finger on it at first. Letting it roll around your head to get the feel of it.

Do people even bother to wonder how they are feeling? Do people glide through life not really noticing their thoughts and feelings. Rushing from one to-do list task to the next, the one important task to the next urgent one. Putting out fires in their busy lives, rushing from one appointment to the next. Driving on empty and managing to refuel at the weekends.

Why is there a desire to achieve? Where does it come from? Is it a Western concept? This desire to compete, to achieve, to have ambition, to excel, to do? Is it necessary in life? Is it making our lives more difficult? Does it make us feeling incomplete without it? Unfinished?

We are enough as we are. Why is there this push in Western society to do more. To rest is considered laziness. To have no desire, drive, ambition is seen as a weakness rather than a strength. To be content is to be satisfied, or at peace. To forever be chasing more means you will never be content with you as you are now.

When we attain some new achievement there may be a rush of adrenaline and excitement but the new bar is higher now and to achieve another new high becomes harder and harder. The excitement shorter and the satisfaction duller. The human condition is to want more. It doesn’t stop. You can make it stop though.

Step off the wheel and be content with where you are now, today.

Evaluate where you are. What you want, what you need. Where you want to be. Who you want to be with or surround yourself with. Does the you of yesterday match what the you of today thinks? Can you trust your thoughts of either time period? How do you know what is true? How do you evaluate yourself and your life? Through facts alone? Feelings?

How do you evaluate your life? Yourself? Don’t compare yourself with anyone. You will always be not enough as some, and more than others. Then where does it get you? No further. It doesn’t matter about other people. You are alone in this world. You arrive alone. You live in a world alone with your thoughts. You can chose to share them with others or not. And then you die alone.

Learning to live with yourself and being content is one’s life work, is it not? Nothing else matters, right? If you happen to do extra, then that is the icing on the top of the cake of oneself. Your cake might be heavy with icing and hollow in the centre. Only you will know. Icing covers up the mistakes. And mistakes are what we do make. They are necessary in life. We learn from them. We read about other people and their lives and their doings. Reading about the past helps learn about the present and the future. Not always but it helps. It gives comfort, sorrow and hope.

Sometimes no matter how many biographies we read we don’t learn from other people. Egos get in the way of betterment. Evaluations lie by the wayside. Invincibility leads to disaster because we are all fallible. But aren’t we supposed to make mistakes to learn? Perhaps. But not to the detriment of others.

Are you honest with yourself? Do you catch yourself in a lie? Or do you only realise after the fact? Pay attention to yourself and notice what you think and feel. You may surprise yourself. Pleasantly or otherwise.

Thoughts and feelings

When a thought is being thought can a feeling be felt at the same time?


When a feeling is being felt can a thought be thought at the same time?


Thoughts are like clouds and they pass through the mind according to the weather sometimes coming fast and furious like a storm and other days they are like a summer’s day with hardly a cloud in the sky.

Hang on a minute though, what is a feeling and what is a thought? A thought is an idea or an opinion. A feeling is an emotion or a reaction.

I am ashamed. FEELING


So if you think that you are an idiot first you can also feel ashamed at the same time. However if you feel ashamed the feeling takes over

Not all thoughts are created equal. Negative thoughts are not to be trusted. Despite the fact you might have thought something, it doesn’t make it true. Just because you thought: “I am ugly and stupid.” It doesn’t make it true. A thought is fleeting. Or it should be. If you do not release the thought it will bang about inside and create havoc. You might start to believe the negative thoughts. Thinking something a thousand times doesn’t make it true either. It just means you are stuck and don’t know how to find the window to release the thoughts.

Back up a bit there.
When you are feeling something you cannot think at the same time?
Think mindfulness.
When you are experiencing touch, taste, sound, sight or smell and paying attention you cannot have thoughts at the same time. Your attention is on feelings and the present. During that space and time there is no room for thought. You are in the moment. While you are in that moment you cannot be distracted by negative thoughts. You are in the present.

Your attention probably won’t last long but the moment of being in the present will give your mind a rest from thought. Your concentration will improve and your day will be brighter from paying attention. Quite something isn’t it.

Take time out of your day and hone your attention on something that catches your interest. Really notice. The mundane can become something wonderful with a little bit of guided attention. A simple cup of tea can become so much more.

If you have hardly given yourself a thought over the last few years perhaps don’t try mindfulness. Sitting alone with your thoughts might be a bit much for you. Take it slow. Listen you music alone first and build up to mindfulness. It might not be for everyone. It might freak you out paying attention to your surroundings. Our society spends a fortune on distraction. Films, commercials, advertising, music, books, sport, alcohol, drugs, travel, social media, the internet. Society doesn’t want you to get to know yourself. It takes effort and the natural state of human nature is laziness. Effort requires exertion and conscious thought. You may come up with an original thought. Give yourself some attention today.

The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates