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Writing, learn-ing, jewelry, deconstructing t-shirts and reality - it's what I do. I live to be inspired, and to inspire.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Schooling

My summer reading list. Ambitious? Perhaps :-).
Summer’s here, and for me summer tends to be my most productive, educational time. I don’t get bored because I use the free time to do all the learning I had been missing out on while I was in school. Sounds weird doesn’t it? Missing out on learning while in school?

But that is what happens, the structure of school, particularly universities, is educationally confining. Our education becomes limited to the subject of the classes we are attending. While we’re in school we are in a learning environment that keeps us focused on projects, exams, grades, leaving us with no time to really explore and expand. All our time is spent on fulfilling a syllabus. And when we’re outside of the classroom and not doing homework we’re so mentally exhausted many of us are more inclined to engage in activities that are mentally relaxing rather than stimulating.

As such, I love to spend my summers learning outside of the classroom and doing projects that are not related to my studies at school. It helps me stay rounded.

Staying rounded is key. I have found that people try to confine you to one field of interest. If you put effort in another area they try to make it “either/or.”

“So what do you really want to do?”

“Oh, well maybe that’s your interest and not this!”

“You lack direction.”

Any of these sound familiar? They’re the kind of statements people make when you show you have varied interests. I spoke more about this in a previous post, Losing Focus.

The most difficult part of maintaining varied interests however is time. This is why when I’m off school my learning shifts into overdrive. My self-education is varied and intuitive. I actively seek out information and learning through a wide variety of avenues, I set challenges and goals for my own creative production (because you also learn by doing) and I don’t let myself get bored or complacent. I’ve found that having wide interests and devoting time and effort into learning “outside” of my field doesn’t take away from my so called career. In fact it helps me to understand what I learn in school within context of a much bigger picture. That’s important. How can you see the big picture if you don’t actually look at other parts of the picture?

Expanding your mind is exactly that, expanding. You don’t expand your mind by getting high. You expand it by learning, experiencing new things, and by discussing ideas to get different perspectives. If your learning ends with your formal education it is time to upgrade. Go out there and expand your mind. Take some control of your education by learning outside of the classroom. Be your own schoolmaster. Your entire world expands when your mind does.

Photo by Kelene Blake

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wasting Good Life

Many of us spend years waiting for our lives to start: waiting to be old enough, rich enough, waiting to finish school, waiting to get that career before we can really start living. I have news for you. Your life started the day you were born and each day, including today, you’re living it. So if you are looking into some distant future or goal, waiting for something to happen, you’re wasting good life.

I’m not saying planning for the future and working towards goals is a bad thing. In fact having goals and dreams to work towards is an important part of a happy, healthy life. Another important part of a happy, healthy life is being happy and healthy today as well, not just in the future. As you look forward to that future don’t lose sight of the gift of the present. The future is a gamble. Now is the only thing you really have. Right now, are you smiling? Are you in a good place? Are you happy?

There is a concept in psychology called the “locus of control”. If you have an internal locus of control, you believe you influence what happens to you: i.e. you control yourself and your life. If you have an external locus of control it means external forces, your environment, other people, circumstances, aliens, the government, anyone or anything else is controlling what is going on in your life and your responses to them. If you have an internal locus of control you are more likely to take actions that ultimately make your life what you want it to be. If you believe you have control over your health, you eat healthily, exercise, take care of yourself because you “know” it will make a difference. If you have an external locus of control you are less likely to take action because you “know” that no matter what you do it won’t make a difference at the end. You just don’t make the effort.

The reality is life is a little of both; we control ourselves, but there’s a lot outside of us that we don’t control. For example, we don’t control the weather, the economy, the driver in front of us. We don’t control others, as much as we “love” them and would like to get them under control: we cannot. But you know what? We do control our reactions to the world and what happens in it. We do control if we will stay down or get back up, if we stay around or walk away, if we stay positive or despair. And then whatever action we take in the face of that moment begins to shape a the rest of our future.

Do you see how just a simple perspective like this can have a major impact on your life? One small shift in where you place the control of your life can have a massive impact on everything in your world. Instead of waiting for our lives to happen to us, we can start today, right now, while you’re thinking about it, to take control of our “locus.” If we take control of our nows, we can live them the way we want to live our lives, even as we move toward that highly anticipated future. Our lives are a string of nows. It’s important to invest yourself just as much in the present as in the future. Live actively at every moment. Enjoy the journey. When you get to your destination you will realize this journey is the most important part of your achievement. You recreate yourself every day, little by little you either create the person you want to be or the person you were afraid to become. This is the gift of the present.