I am all about that upcycled life and I figure, what better way to get more people doing the same than to show you all what I’ve got going on in my own home?

One woman’s trash is certainly another woman’s treasure. I’m always looking for ways to reuse things I might be passing towards the waste pile, or unwanted things someone else is trying to get rid of, thus preventing them ending up in landfill. All it takes is some patience and creative thinking to transform something old into something new. And when it comes to interior decor, why opt for mass-produced and flat-packed when you can display something truly unique that you’ve designed yourself?

Minimalism and streamlining are two passions of mine and I find that having items that I’ve made myself and put my creative energy into are the ones that stand the test of time. See, trends come and go and we change our minds about things as time passes, but if you’ve created something yourself, chances are that you’ll want to keep it around. Or, if there comes a time that it’s truly incompatible with your aesthetic, you can gift it to someone special where it’s likely to be gratefully received.

So, as I was saying, here are three features I’ve introduced into my home. They were cheap, easy to make and get many compliments paid their way.

1. Industrial displays

These came straight from the laboratory that I work in. They were headed to landfill, but I managed to seize them just in time and make a fun project out of upcycling them into some industrial-style shelving. They are made of stainless steel, but with a copper theme in mind, I picked up some spray paint from a local craft store and sprayed them from all angles. They’re strategically placed on the walls with a simple pair of nails and great for displaying smaller, interesting items.

2. Driftwood & Air Plants

Living by a beach, I am exposed to nice strolls, of course, but also some epic driftwood finds, such as this one. Initially I picked this up without knowing exactly what I wanted to do with it, only knowing that it would become a feature in due course. With some air plants lying around, I decided to combine the two and it makes for an epic piece of living art. I’ve seen similar things on a much smaller scale whereby the plants are glued onto the wood. This makes for a quick fix, sure, but just seemed so cruel to me. The best way to water air plants (Tillandia spp.) is to soak them in a bowl, sink or bathtub (depending on the quantity that need watering) for half an hour or so. During this time they absorb what they need. Follow this by letting them rest on a towel, then replace in their display. I had this idea for mounting them on driftwood in a way that would allow me to remove them every couple weeks for watering. I used a reserve of some wire Christmas tree ornament hooks that I had to hand, supergluing these to the wood in the locations I knew I’d want the plants. Then, after allowing to dry overnight, used the maleable nature of the hooks to coil around the plant and hold them firmly in place. I mounted the driftwood onto the wall with two hook brackets (which I plan on spraying copper eventually to tie everything in together).

We have a really ugly thermostat smack bang in the middle of the wall. I used a tumbling air plant to strategically drape over and cover this.

3. Unexpected Art

The final way that I’ve upcycled came when I had a card that I couldn’t bear parting with. The message inside was nice, but the image on the card itself even nicer. It felt such a shame to throw it into the recycling bin when the colour scheme was exactly my aesthetic. A quick look through the frames I had lying around revealed one that was a perfect fit. This made its way out of the rubbish pile and onto my wall. Buy someone a really beautiful card from an independent designer and be sure to include a little note inside suggesting they hang it on their wall afterwards. Throw in a frame too if you’re feeling super generous.

I am excited for all of the upcycling projects that I’m sure 2018 will bring with it. Never let yourself think that a small budget needs to stand in the way of you and the home that you want. Take a walk on the wild side and let your creativity come out and play.

 

 

Permission

Sat around the dinner table this evening with friends, talking about life and our dreams, I was thinking about permission. Too often we hang fire on chasing after our dreams because we’re waiting on someone else to give us the permission to do so. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we’re awaiting permission from parents, society, our peers or even ourselves.

There are two kinds of people. The first are those who are spoon-fed. The second are those who grab the bull by the horns. The former are those who do things the way things were done before them. Even if it doesn’t feel the best, they do what they feel they ought to be doing. It’s what everyone else is doing, therefore surely it’s the smartest choice…The latter are the people who don’t wait for someone to give them the permission to chase their dreams and do what calls to them. These are the people who instead commit to going after what they want – regardless of how difficult it is and how many ‘no’s’ they encounter along the way.

It seems the pattern is fairly consistent here. It doesn’t matter what the committed pioneer is pursuing. First, he tries and goes against societal expectations. He faces the ridicule of friends and family who are still stuck in old ways. This ridicule only stems from those who can’t imagine doing things any other way, or those who have tried and failed. He then faces self-doubt. ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’ he asks. And then, he wins. And it’s that win that feels more fulfilling to him than any amount of spoonfuls presented on a plate. This is because the meal he’s finally tasting is enriched with the most decadent and exotic flavours, far exceeding twice the quantity in slop.

This is metaphor heavy – I realise – but for someone who’s tasted the freedom of dream-chasing, any other life is a sure-fire path to starvation. It’s slop on the plate and a weevil-infested pantry in the mind.

We wonder why mental illness is at an all-time high. Loneliness and unfulfilled dreams permeating every ‘social’ circle. These brilliant minds are bored. They don’t believe in what they do and they’re craving the satiation – the satisfaction – of dreams come true. They’re craving the boomerang effect of vibrations just like the ones in their heart and soul bouncing back at them from a manifested existence that they want to be a part of. More so – that they want to create.

So if we’re all created equal. If each of us unique, with our own set of skills and strengths, why are only a few of us calling the shots? I call it a disease of awaiting permission unnecessarily. And it has quite simply got to stop.

There’s a formula for how the world works at the moment, and few who dare to go against the system and make an attempt at doing things differently. What would be the wider outcome if this became the way of the world? How would the system change?

Today’s food for thought.

Photo: Flickr

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I’m currently sat on the grounds of the beautiful Finca Bebedero in North Tenerife, taking a break from one of the many adventures Jonny and I have been pursuing while we’ve been on this island. More to come on those very soon. Today I wanted to give mention to my reading choice for this trip.

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Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (known for the world-famous Eat, Pray, Love) has captured so much of my appreciation. This book discusses the life of the creative. It captures perfectly the torment and the turbulence and the terror or dedicating yourself to a life of making things. Whether you’re a writer or a painter or like knitting, Gilbert challenges the inner turmoil of artists that we’ve grown to revere.

There is this well known idealogy that one must know suffering in order to produce authentic, raw and well, good, material. But where has this thinking come from? I questioned my own approach and I too have this idea that I do my best writing when I’m either heart-broken or depressed or anxious or disappointed. Why do we maintain that we can’t be feeling the love and the joy to create our best?

I thoroughly enjoyed the read and cannot recommend it enough. Gilbert presents the idea that creative inspiration floats around waiting for the person with the right mind in the right place and time to bring the idea to life. I like that. I like that all we have to do is be ready for it. That, and follow our curiosities.

As I’ve wandered around this island, discovering numerous microclimates, pockets of culture, and tradition, I’ve felt alive for one, but also exceptionally happy. It hasnt been a struggle, I haven’t faced any drama and I certainly haven’t been suffering. Yet, I’ve captured some of my best photos ever. I’ve had ideas for pieces that I had never dreamed would come to me before.

When we’re open to lightness and love, marvellous things can happen. We can be creative and not need to hold on to our suffering. We need not attach such seriousness to our work.

Unlike a medical professional or a plumber or a roofer, the beauty of the creative life is that one can make or do or capture whatever they feel like. There is no set standard for what must be achieved. There is no direction which must be followed. You must simply give the mind something to occupy it so that it does not pursue something you may not want it to. I say it all the time, but dog-chewing-on-furniture syndrome.

This trip and Big Magic have fitted together beautifully, hand in hand. I can bask in beauty and the good life and still create. If you are feeling frustrated with a creative pursuit, I recommend this read for a refreshing change in perspective.

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Reading

Much like that beaten-up old car that miraculously keeps chugging along for you, my reliable tool for fulfillment in every day life is getting back to the present moment. You hear it harped on about across the self-help board, but there’s a reason it is consistently advised.

When we spend too long in the past, we are missing the precious moments of the now. When we fret over the future, we are wasting the present for an outcome that may never actually occur. If all we have is the now, then surely we would do best to make the most of it?

But there’s another place you can be as well as the past, present or future and that is in the creative world of fantasy. Used as a tool of escapism, it is an avoidance tactic from the present by somebody not wanting to face their reality. Used as a tool of inspiration, it will enhance the present and allow your creativity to flourish.

Although you are presented with a story that takes your conscious self to another place while watching a film or play, there is nothing that quite compares to reading the pages of a book and conjuring up the dreamscape yourself. Think about it: a film is a story put on your plate; you see exactly how everyone looks as per the perspective of those who made the film. A book, however, uses descriptions which you have to interpret yourself and actively imagine. This process encourages you to create. And the more you do it, the better you get.

The Creator

The more you read, the more creative you become. This is particularly true if you have a broad spectrum of reading material. The more accustomed your mind is to visualising a story based on the words of writers who communicate in different styles or genres, the more adaptable you become. The more adaptable, the more creative. The more creative, the more you can conquer. The more you conquer, the more powerful at being able to write your life story in the way that you want to.

You see where I’m going with this, don’t you? We are all creators of our own lives. We put forth the intention for what we want and – faith-dependent – manifest that thing. The more diverse you feel reality can be, the bolder you can be with your creations. If you don’t feel you can really accomplish this or that – you feel it just too far out of your reach – you simply won’t. You must have faith in your ability to design your life if you are to do it with joy and intention.

The Observer

As well improving your ability to create, reading puts words in your mind that may not have been formulated in that particular fashion before. The way an author describes a protagonist beauty or cruel villain, the dew on the grass in the morning light or the stars under which you surrender yourself to the night can inspire the observer in you to take notice. Alternative perspective, attention to detail and emotional investment in characters paints a more colourful picture that you can interact with in your reality. It can take walking in another’s shoes to realise what standing in your own feels like.

Living life in the present is absorbing your surroundings; observing your surroundings. Reading can give you the words to describe the emotions that you feel as you walk through your days. And it makes you pay more attention to the details.

The Joyrider

It doesn’t have to be – and probably shouldn’t be – a stolen car, but joyriding life is living for the pure thrill and pleasure of life itself. It isn’t being caught up with the purpose of everything, the meaning behind every occurrence, or mastering the mayhem. It is experiencing universal expansion and your days on Earth simply as they happen. It is absorbing through all your senses and chasing what feels good.

 

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Seagull

I am sitting in my bay window, eyes to the sky cast grey and searching eagerly for any promising patch of blue that might indicate that I don’t have to carry my umbrella with me today. It’s May, right? That means practically summer, right? And yet looking at that sky I know I must still keep my year-round British accoutrements within close reach – either waterproof or umbrella – because though the patches of cerulean do treat my irises from time to time, the grey is ever-looming in this universe of infinite possibilities.

As I let my mind begin to drift off and take me to warmer reaches of the globe where rainfall is minimal, I spot two crows high up in a tree directly ahead of me. Simultaneously I hear the familiar screeching of a colony of seagulls. I see how the crows begin anxiously hopping from branch to branch high in that tree top. They acutely watch each other’s backs, anticipating the first of what I suspect will be many swoops in a total mobbing. I wasn’t wrong; the seagulls took turns diving, legs outstretched, attacking the crows.

I didn’t think that seagulls would go for crows; after all, those wise black birds are rather large in comparison and as such I didn’t think the seagulls would be so audacious as to try tackling them. But then I got a greater perspective of the scale as I counted ten then eleven then finally twelve gulls darting overhead. I recognised in that moment that to these gulls, the crows were hardly intimidating. If you’ve got many supporters, you feel empowered and as such the risk is lowered and the obstacle or feat at hand minimised.

I don’t know what each one of those gulls was thinking; they may well have all had the same-track mind, the same innate desire to attack. But it is also just as plausible that a powerful few in this colony of strongly hierarchical animals influenced such an aggressive encounter much to the dismay of the rest of the party. We see this in nature and we see this in our own race.

It is a natural instinct to want to be a part of something, to want to fit in and be accepted no matter the internal emotional cost. We see this throughout our time growing up and well into adulthood. And the perimeters of this stretch far and wide across all societies. But some of us – the lucky ones – and I say ‘us’ because I’m feeling the boundaries of creativity in myself crumbling walk our own path despite the odds stacked against us. We are given the formula for how to succeed according to the standards deemed acceptable en masse, but we choose to take off in the other direction.

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Once you start, you can’t stop; just like the Pringles pop. This is what I’ve learned this week. All it takes is the right curious thought, the right trigger of self-reflection that causes you to have no choice but to express yourself and follow the beliefs you know innately to be true within yourself, despite the risks involved. The risks are losing compatibility with the life you have been living, drifting away from people that before you would have named as your friends and facing the pain of shedding layer upon layer of the façade you have so carefully hidden behind for so long that you can’t quite remember life before.

Self-preservation is prevalent in this world. It is a necessity. But there is a difference between seeking shelter, food and water and watching your dreams expressed in another life parallel to yours because you’re telling yourself you’re preserving your life. Who said life was meant to be lived safely? Who said that life is meant to be lived under a shroud of accountability and protection, insurance and insignificance. Is that really self-preservation? Or is it in fact self-abuse and self-destruction? I believe the latter.

What would change if we all accepted that those desires we know to be valid within ourselves, that drive for whatever that we feel as the slow burner of our soul were there because it’s our internal guidance system telling us what’s what, guiding us in the direction of what it is we should be doing? What if I told you that there’s nothing wrong with you? What if I said that you’re perfect exactly as you are and that those creative pursuits you wish to pursue worthy of your time? What would you do then?

 

Photos: Konstantinos Dafalias via Flickr, Samy Abul Wahed via Flickr