You can change your life

You can change your life. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But it is not as easy as it sounds. Here are some essential ingredients that you will need:

stairway

Be willing. You might think you are willing. You might say you are willing. But do you feel willing? Really feel willing to make the changes necessary?

Be persistent. You may experience setbacks in your attempts to change your life, but you will need to persist with your attempts and not let rejection, disapproval of others, or failure to stop you. You need to keep trying time and time again.

Know yourself. Is this the change that is right for you, or is it something you are chasing because it is seen as something desirable by others? Know yourself well enough to know that this is truly right for you.

Realise reality. Know what the reality of this life change will bring. Visualise this new life. The reality of what you desire may not live up to the imagined life at all. Think it through carefully.

Make sacrifices. Know that you will be sacrificing some things with this change. Life will not be what it was. Some things will leave your life forever.

You have choice. Know that you are free to choose the life you want, but so are others and they may not make the life choices that are compatible with yours. You can only change your own life.

Be brave. It is scary. Once the changes are set in motion you may get nervous and you will need to have courage to keep going. It is too easy to give up and return to old habits and to what is known and comfortable. Don’t mistake this discomfort with unwillingness.

Photo by Susan Bentley Oct 2009You will always have you. You will take your Self with you. Remember that. You can’t escape yourself. But a new environment amongst a different group of people may affect your behaviour; hopefully for the better.

Uproot. Leaving your old life will feel like uprooting and it is. All that is known to you will be left behind.

Life will never look the same. Once you are on the road to your new life, the whole view of the world will change for you. It is as if the dust has been shaken off everything you see around you and you see the world with fresh eyes; like the eyes of a child; like this old familiar life and scenery is something new.

You will know it when it happens. You will know it when you have crossed the threshold into your new life. You will feel it deep within and you will know that there is no way back, even if you wanted to go back. You can’t. It is in the past. It was your former life. You have grown beyond that former life.

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Treasured memories

If you are old enough to remember what life was like before digital photography you will remember: buying rolls of film for your camera; being limited to the number of shots on the film; not being able to delete any bad ones; taking the film to a shop to get developed; waiting a few days before collecting them; looking through the pack in anticipation; throwing out the blurred shots; putting the good ones into a photo album; maybe getting slides made; then boring family and friends with slide nights or photo albums. Then the albums yellowing and gathering dust on the shelf. Remember that?

self_portrait

Digital photography has revolutionised the way we capture images of our lives and then share and preserve these images and treasured memories. Now we can click like there is no tomorrow. We can delete any bad ones as they occur. We can take hundreds and thousands of photos.

How do you organise your photos? Chronologically? In arbitrarily named subject folders? Saved to CD or external hard drive? We all need a management software system to manage our files of photos. We all need to have the organisational skills of librarians to make sense of our systems. And it all takes time.

My trip to Europe last year produced 2000 digital images on two cameras. At home I had to sort, delete, label, save to CD, and this took me ages. I produced a digital photo story set to music then made into a DVD but I still haven’t had any images printed for a photo album or book.

Books of photo collections are all the rage now aren’t they? You can get these done at many shops, or online. You can choose the images, the layout, borders, etc and produce a professional looking coffee-table book. Cool! Printing photos for an album is still done but with the DIY systems everywhere you have to allow time to do this. But who does that anymore?

Photographic images have become transient. Who bothers to try to capture our memories anymore? Facebook and twitpics, make sharing images immediate and then forgotten. Google Earth/Maps, photo blogs like leavemehere, and Flickr provide meaningful structures that allow us all to benefit from the clicks we are all doing. It also provides us with feedback when others are enjoying our work.

I recently created a slideshow of my best photos that I had gathered over many years, and I put it onto Slideshare. It was not long before I was notified by Slideshare to tell me that this slideshow was featuring in the top 10 mentioned slideshares on twitter. After one month online it has had 338 views and 24 downloads with no promotion on my part. Another photo of mine of a place near Hobart in Tasmania was found on Flickr and added to Schmap with my permission. And it seems that this is not an uncommon occurrence. Read this by writingtravel.

There are still many people who do not understand the laws of copyright. There seems to be a misconception by some that if it is on Google it is free. Or if it is in the public domain it is free. This is wrong of course, and those who do want to illustrate their blogs with photos that they copy from the web can do so by using photos from a Free image archive like freeimages or freephotosbank or from the Creative Commons. Or try to contact the creator of the image and ask for their permission, like Schmap did with me. Or indeed create your own! Blog writers lose credibility if it is obvious that they are sourcing and using images without any attempt to cite the creator, and their blog loses its place in my full blog-reading schedule.

When you do place your images online you must not be naive enough to think that someone somewhere is not going to copy your lovingly created image and use it for their own ends. Hopefully they will be used for Good and not Bad. I have come across people in my work as a Librarian in public libraries who see nothing wrong with copying images from a Google Image search then printing them, making posters and selling them at local markets. Entrepreneurs yes – legal no. And it is disappointing for the creators of the original image to think that others are making money from their work and creativity.

What do you think?

Here comes the sun

Beach Sunset 016

Photo by Ryan James Bentley 2009

Sunday with no plans so I went for a walk. I knew there would be cyclists on the main road taking part in the annual Around The Bay In A Day event. I had gone for my ride yesterday avoiding the crowds.  15,500 cyclists wearing colourful lycra pedalled their bikes in both directions looping 250 kilometres around Port Phillip Bay.

At Anthony’s Nose three large men in bulging lycra asked in their English accents if I would take their photo. With the silvery bay clad in morning light as a backdrop and the tall buildings of Melbourne peeking above the horizon as small black pegs (their destination) I took the picture of these jovial men. They told me they were from Sydney and came down each year especially for this event. Finding time to stop at a cafe for breakfast was a priority they said. I wish I had my phone with me so I could have taken a photo of them for myself.

Later in the day I drove to Mornington to see and hear a friend sing as part of the Two Bays Choir. The Annual Mornington Food and Wine Expo was in full swing when I arrived. The main street was closed to vehicles and instead filled with tent stalls where local wineries offered samples of their wine, and all sorts of food was being made and sold. A rock band played loudly at one end of the street and another at the other end. It was difficult to find my way through the crowds of people, children, dogs, and stalls. The cafes, restaurants and hotels were open for business and diners were eating and drinking, spilling out onto the footpaths.

Eventually finding the stage where the choir performed I sat and enjoyed their efforts despite the competing sounds from the rock bands and crowds of exuberant people. As I was about to leave a group of 14 people gathered and sat in a circle with bongo drums. A joyous rhythm of drumming began and a crowd gathered to lap up their sound and spirit.

I drove home along the beach road as the sun made its way to the western horizon. Boats were still out on the golden bay and people were fishing, skiing, or just motoring around. A barbeque dinner at home with family finished off a great day. Springtime in Melbourne heralds the arrival of longer days of sunshine and everyone gets out enjoying themselves in this glorious weather.

Choose your Guru

Have you noticed how many self-proclaimed gurus there are on the internet now? With the blossoming of online social networking there have emerged, dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of people happily doling out advice to anyone who will listen.

Who are these experts? And what makes them so knowledgeable? Many I’ve noticed are perhaps 20-something in age. Have they lived? Learned? Made mistakes? The confidence, certainty, and arrogance with which many espouse their views stun me. They preach and prattle and fill blog after blog with dot-point precision. Here is a random selection: How to become a Level 80 Twitter Ninja; How to go tribal and sell a truckload of books; Nine Ways To Build a Bridge Between Who You Were and Who You AreThe You, the Me and the We – How I’m Changing How I Use Twitter | Stayin’ Alive; Choose the Bigger Life; No Pressure Knitting. And I could add many more examples but I’m sure you’ve found your own. Everyone is an expert.

Now I realise that many use the social networking neighbourhood for their own self-improvement and education and blogging about it is their way of sorting through the crap and working out their own ideas. But to offer these often infantile notions firmly as well thought out, tried and true rules for living is ridiculous in my humble opinion. I don’t mind reading some of these blogs and twitters but the increase in the number of people doing this is astonishing. And some appear to have all the authenticity and credibility of a Snake Oil Salesman. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this.

mandelbrot-set

Where are the humble folk who stumble through life like me? The older I get, the more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know. Life is chaos and can present things to you that you had never imagined. Life can’t be totally planned, controlled or “manifested”. Perhaps because this is my belief then it is my experience. But I do find solace in the Chaos Theory because I don’t have much faith in the attempts of Man to tame the world to the one I would choose. I prefer to believe a higher power holds the aces and will create a world that is far more enriching and awesome and unbelievable than what my humble mind can imagine. So I enjoy seeing the weeds appear in the cracks in the concrete. I am in awe of the Mandelbrot set. I love to see the NASA images from the Hubble telescope of the worlds beyond this Earth.

The philosophies I like to live by in dot-points and at this point in time are:

  • Leave no footprints
  • The Theory of Chaos
  • Live in The Now
  • Be Kind
  • Create your own life
  • Do stuff
  • Keep it simple
  • Appreciate and be grateful
  • Learn more stuff
  • Be optimistic
  • See The Big Picture
  • Be authentic

There remain the constant big names in personal development who have written books on the topic, established themselves as leading thinkers, and have now joined the social networking scene: The Dalai Lama; Deepak Chopra; Dr. Wayne Dyer; Marianne Williamson; Eckhart Tolle, and others. Of course the wisdom of the ages can’t be ignored and these sources stand apart: The Bible; the teachings of Buddha; the words of Jesus Christ; A Course In Miracles; etc, etc. You know them as well as I do.

Newcomers to the scene who are making an impression are: Leo Babauta of Zen Habits; Gary Vayerchuk. But the stampede for recognition in this area is scary. What are they hoping for? A well paid talking circuit? 68,000 followers on Twitter or Facebook? Nirvana? Bliss? Who knows? Not me!

Here are some more dot-points which form my humble advice about how to live a happy fulfilling life:

  • Turn off the computer/laptop/mobile phone/handheld device/whatever
  • Look up from the screen
  • Pat your cat and hear it purr
  • Look out the window
  • Go outside – yes outside!
  • Take the dog for a walk
  • Take your kids to the local park or playground
  • Kick a football or throw a ball
  • Walk down the street
  • Talk to a local – then really listen to what they have to say
  • Have a coffee and a chat with a friend at a local cafe
  • Return home
  • Have a conversation with a family member
  • Cook a healthy meal
  • Smile
  • Get a good night’s sleep

Indeed reject my advice in favour of your own self-discovered words of wisdom and lifestyle.