Mathematical Mindfulness (making book birds)

As you may know this is my year of taking time out and living slow in order to mend.

At times this makes life a little lonely and isolated unless I make the effort to travel and push my anxiety. So today I did just that, I volunteered for my favourite people/ place/ festival/ oraganisation: Wise Words Festival. If you don’t know what they do check them out. They are an extraordinary festival run by people with enormous hearts and passion for change through the arts.

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Anyway, I go every year, whether working or as a guest, and always get involved. Last year I worked collaboratively with them on a number of projects :

This year I’m unable to work to my usual capacity but want to be a part of the goings on, so I decided to volunteer as an artist and maker instead.

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Today we met at my beloved Cowshed Studios to add the ever-increasing flock of book birds that migrate to the festival each year to roost in the trees. I’ve always loved them as a feature and thought they looked like the most complicated things to make. Little did I know how easy they are to create. If you have an hour to spend and a free pair of hands you can make them too. Warning though, its hugely addictive and you may take to your bookshelves, so make sure the books you use are ones you’ll never want to read again.

All there is to it is paper-folding, much less complicated than origami, and a lot of repetition as you need to fold each and every page. You only have to turn to Pinterest to see all the ways you can repurpose and up-cycle old books. I just searched ‘book folding patterns’ to discover all of the marvellous things people create.  I managed 4 books today using simple folds. Here are some pictures of my efforts.

Being a creative I chose a book of mathematics to transform first. I did end up getting caught in some of the pages as I was folding.

The best thing about this activity is not the result but the process of making. It is manual, easy, and repetitive (like a nice set of sums!). Before long it become calming and meditative, productive and relaxing. I could spend hours folding and chatting.

Why not give it a go yourself with an old book. All you have to do is pick a type of fold and repeat with every page in the book till it’s wings unfurl and a new bird has hatched.

If you are in the Canterbury area you could volunteer too, just follow this link to find out how…

 

 

Happy New Year with Bullet Journaling

So last year I made New Year’s resolutions then as you may know ‘life got in the way’. I have a habit of starting things and not finishing them, I carry a lot of guilt about it. Partly it’s my personality and getting excited about the next new shiny thing that comes along, dropping the old boring thing I started. It’s also having multiple chronic illnesses which tend to dump on everything. Oh, and then that life bit, I’m not the luckiest soul and 2016 was an absolute shocker!

So this year I debated on whether I should do the whole resolutions thing again. I thought about making things realistic, or achievable. But that’s just not me, I need to be interested and excited and reach for the sky. The difference is how I react when I come thudding back down to earth.

Last year I dabbled with some Bullet Journaling and wanted to continue with a brand new journal for 2017. For various reasons I’ve always shied away from journaling ing and committing to paper. A Bullet Journal was the ideal balance between a to-do list and a diary for me. I began with a basic journal based on this article and bulletjournal.com.

So on the 1st I made an Amazon list of fancy pens and a new Moleskine notebook, and then realised I was falling into my old habit of overspending. So I raided my art materials and as predicted had lots of beautiful materials already to work with.

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So here is what I did:

  1. I left a page spare at the front for my index/ contents. Every page is numbered in a bullet journal and every entry is logged on this page.IMG_3635.JPG
  2. I turned the page and thought about 2017 and brain dumped all the hopes and needs onto the page. I didn’t limit myself, I just poured my heart out…IMG_3638.JPG
  3. Next I looked at the ‘cloud of words’ and put them into categories. I wrote them as a list then made these into columns on how much time and effort I wanted to put into them. ‘Being secure’ is at the top of my list, unsurprisingly, as at the moment I feel so insecure. I colour coded them so I could later see how much time per week I was dedicating.Processed with VSCO with t1 preset
  4. I took each category and thought about how I could achieve them. Theres lots of cross overs and you’ll see in the pictures one category feeds another.Processed with VSCO with t1 preset
  5. Into my life, which is chaotic at the best of time, I wanted to introduce a routine. So I began with an easy morning routine to follow everyday. I aim to create a bedtime one soon to go with it. 
  6. I then divided the activities from earlier on into my first to-do list of 2017. This I divided into ‘one off tasks’ and ‘repetitive tasks’ that happen daily or weekly.Processed with VSCO with t1 preset
  7. I then added a year planner to be able to see the whole year month by month.Processed with VSCO with t1 preset
  8. Finally I delved into January. One page for the whole month day by day. Then I transferred items from the 2017 to-do list into the monthly one
  9. Finally I drew out the week by week journal and added a key. I also included a space for tracking my health and daily gratitude. My key is the same as the standard bullet journal key
    • X = Task Complete
    • > = Task Migrated
    • < = Task Scheduled
    • o = Event
    • – = Note
    • * = Priority
    • ! = Inspiration
    • Eye = Explore

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  10. It sounds complex and labour intensive, and in a way it is. But I think it’s worth it to have a practical journal that works for me. I already love and treasure my 2016 journal, as painful as the moments were that fed it. 

I know there are many prettier examples out there, but mine is mine and works for me!

Finally I read a chapter today about beginning a new project or learning something new:

‘In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in an experts there are few.’ Suzuki Roshi in Pema Chodron’s ‘The Places That Scare You’.

Chodron goes onto say that we all begin somewhere and at every stage of learning or activity we should  be ‘open, flexible and kind’. Resolutions should not be absolute but ever shifting guides to help us learn or steer us. Our life is an experiment and we are not born as experts. She concludes:

‘At the end of activity, whether we feel we have succeeded or failed in our intention, we seal the act by thinking of others, of those who are succeeding or failing all over the world. We wish that anything we learned in our experiment could also benefit them.’

So I’ll be doing just that, learning from the process and not judging myself on the results. I will also share this latest adventure with you…