Loading...

Follow Holstee - Mindful Matter on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

Each month, we are privileged to work with artists from all over the world. Their unique styles and points of view make for an especially diverse sense of inspiration in the art that arrives in our monthly Holstee Membership. From Los Angeles, California to Barcelona, Spain and everywhere in between, each piece of art is a true collector's piece.

This month’s art is by Houston, Texas designer Moni Yael Garcia. She is (much more than) a pusher of pixels. She is a creator of lines, lover of learning, health, and women's rights. Oh and she names her plants. We got to work with her this month to help us bring our theme of Simplicity to life!

For a little more about what inspired this artwork, her process, and her life, here's a short Q&A:

Where is home for you?

For nearly ten years now Houston, Texas has been my home. After university I moved over to this ever-expanding city and have seen the arts and culture sector blossom. It’s here that I developed my career, explored my aesthetic, met my amazing husband and continue becoming my true self. And while Houston’s landscape may not be as bucolic or dynamic as other major cities in the U.S. (especially in terms of hiking), it still has so much to offer.

What is your definition of a successful life?

Like many people in our society I grew up equating success with fame and fortune. Honestly, I would be a fool not to welcome them. But beyond those materialistic notions I have come to realize that a successful life has more meaning. It’s about understanding who you are; finding your purpose. Having the opportunity to learn and grow every day as you work through your passion is priceless. Genuine fulfillment comes from using your skillset to positively contribute to humanity, big or small.

Describe your perfect day.

This is a bit of a loaded question for me. I truly am grateful for the life I’m able to live, but to be candid I struggle with anxiety, and self-loathing constantly, so “perfect days” are a bit hard to grasp. I constantly feel a push and pull that easily leads me to a downward spiral of negative thoughts and imposter syndrome, which in turn affects my whole day or even week. But thankfully, through the help of an established routine and my kind and supportive husband, I find myself moving forward. I have learned that days filled with a five mile run, weight training, yoga and the outdoors elevate my endorphins, creativity, and overall productivity.

How did you get into design?

Before the ubiquity of the internet and social media, I was only exposed to traditional career paths in the small town I spent most of my childhood and teenage years. I didn’t see my artistic pursuits as a strength or viable path into adulthood. Uncertainty accompanied me with each grade level and it was frustrating because I was already looking to the future.

It wasn’t until high school, junior year during my second semester, that I came across a library book covering some creative careers. I was floored and still very thankful that my BCIS teacher assigned that career project. Even though I didn’t really grasp the medium of graphic design, it stood out and I decided to pursue it.

I had a path, but after my acceptance into The University of Texas at Austin there was still a bit of uncertainty. At the time, freshman couldn’t declare Design as their major. I needed to apply as a Studio Arts major in the School of Fine Art and wait a year to apply to the Design Program.  The uncertainty was daunting, but thankfully I was selected for the program, where I learned about design and all its manifestations.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in movement, interactions, and self-reflection. Keeping my mind and heart open by stimulating it with exercise, plants, poetry, crystals, research, meaningful conversations and evening stroll.

What's your dream design project?

I really enjoy tackling extended projects that incorporate different facets of design: full scale branding, digital development, illustrated assets and experiential elements. Taking part in positive, impactful campaigns and seeing your creations within urban landscapes is always a dream.

Which designers or thinkers influence/inspire you?

I learn about so many great humans everyday and there’s a plethora of designers and thinkers that are extremely inspiring to me. However, I do find myself thinking about the wisdom and wonderful contributions of Juana Inés de la Cruz, Leonardo da Vinci, Simone de Beauvoir, Ray Eames, Frida Kahlo, James Turrell, E. Fay Jones, Dan Flavin, Carl Sagan, and Renee Engel.

What was the inspiration behind this design?

Simplicity is a natural quality composed of beauty, functionality, and timelessness. It is a practice that is accessible to all, yet difficult to implement — a meditative form that can bring balance and proliferate moments of clarity.

I wanted to evoke simplicity in all its forms through minimal shapes, natural elements, and a scene suggesting a quiet state of mind.

How does simplicity play a role in your life?

Incorporating simplicity into my life brings sanity and order. After moving a total of ten times in the past fifteen years I have come to embrace living a minimalist lifestyle. Beyond enjoying a clean and natural aesthetic I have experienced the benefits of decluttering, organizing, and streamlining everything, from our home to my digital files. It’s a constant, and sometimes arduous, practice my husband and I actively pursue to the best of our abilities.

At the moment, what is your favorite …

Color: White Pine and warm neutrals are currently my favorite starting palette.

Food: Natural, vegan friendly foods sans heavy oils, creams, and sauces or high sodium and sugar. Having a simple and clean diet works best with my body and gives me the necessary nutrients to stay focused and energized.

Song:  I’m enamored with both “Toy (Reworked)” and “Worth None (Reworked)” from Noga Erez’s latest album, RADAR Reworked (Live with Israel Camerata Jerusalem Orchestra). She is an inspiring artist and this album is masterful, from the lyrics to the avant garde sounds.

Quote: “If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise."

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Kristin Neff is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research, conducting her first studies fifteen years ago. She is the author of
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself and has co-developed an empirically supported eight-week training program with Dr. Chris Germer that is taught worldwide called, Mindful Self-Compassion.

For a little more about Kristin, here's a short Q&A! 

For those who received April's 2019 Compassion Kit, as a part of our monthly Holstee Membership, you will notice that some pieces of this Q&A are featured in the guide! 

“Self-compassion entails both yin and yang — it is tender and helps us heal but it can also be fierce…” — Kristin Neff

What activity makes you feel most alive? 

I love teaching people about self-compassion and helping them to find ways to practice it.  You can actually see the transformation on people's faces. It's beautiful - the discovery that they have this secret power that they didn't even know existed.  I am fed and nourished by being able to help in this transformation.

What initially drew you to the work you are doing now?

In my last year of graduate school I went to a class to learn mindfulness meditation to deal with my stress, and the woman leading the group talked about the importance of self-compassion.  When I tried being kinder and more supportive to myself it made a huge difference. Then I did a postdoc with a leading self-esteem researcher and learned about the problems linked to the endless pursuit of high self-esteem:  perfectionism, aggression, narcissism, and the contingency and instability of self-worth. It seemed to me that self-compassion was the perfect alternative to self-esteem because you don't have to be perfect or better than others to have it.  So in 2003 I published the first papers defining and measuring self-compassion, and now it's a huge field of study.

What is most commonly misunderstood about self-compassion

There are actually five main myths about self-compassion that come up over and over again:  it's a form of self pity, it's selfish, it's self-indulgent, it will undermine your motivation, and it will make you weak. Luckily now there's a large body of research showing that's untrue. Self-compassion makes you less self-focused, improves relationships, leads to healthier behaviors, increases motivation and grit, and provides strength and resilience in the face of adversity. Self-compassion entails both yin and yang - it is tender and helps us heal (yin) but it can also be fierce, taking action to protect and provide for ourselves as well as motivating change (yang).

How do you want to be remembered

I feel so blessed to have played a role in bringing self-compassion to the attention of science and the world at large. I would like to be remembered for this. I'm also now working on how fierce self-compassion can help women stand up to sexism and injustice, and it would be wonderful if I could also be remembered for playing some small role in the overthrow of patriarchy. :-)

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Each month, we are privileged to work with artists from all over the world. Their unique styles and points of view make for an especially diverse sense of inspiration in the art that arrives in our monthly Holstee Membership. From Los Angeles, California to Barcelona, Spain and everywhere in between, each piece of art is a true collector's piece.

Kristen Drozdowski is a hand letterer and illustrator based in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Working from her plant filled studio, her creations are inspired by a combination of bold patterns, gentle symbolism, and inspiration from nature. We got to work with her this month to help us bring our theme of Wellness to life!

For a little more about what inspired this artwork, her process, and her life, here's a short Q&A:

What is your definition of a successful life?

Living a life filled with purpose, passion, connection and creativity.

Describe your perfect day.

Things that make my day feel perfect are sunbeams coming through the window, having time carved out for art making, connecting with people I love, being outside in nice weather and feeling energized.

How did you get into design?

When I was in high school I got my first design job! :) Ever since then I knew I wanted to be an artist / designer and pursued that direction in college.

What is your definition of a successful life?

One in which you feel proud of the work you are doing. Where you are able to make a living doing what you truly love to do. Having a group of family and friends that love and support you.

Where do you find inspiration?

Nature, self-inquiry, shapes around me, relationships I have with others, yoga, mindfulness and energy awareness, colors that make me feel calm and happy.

What's your dream design project?

A book. :) Also, almost every project I get to make these days is a total dream. I am so happy for the opportunity to do something I love every day.

Which designers or thinkers influence/inspire you?

I am really excited about multimedia designers, painters and mural artists who are putting out a lot of amazing work and energy right now. Ashley Mary, Lisa Congdon, Kristen Texeira, Ellen Rutt, Alex Proba, to name a few.

What was the inspiration behind this design?

Our delicate relationship to nature that requires respect, tenderness and kindness.

At the moment, what is your favorite …

Color: I’m starting to not fear blue, which I have used rarely until recently. Cobalt blue and periwinkle are exciting to me at the moment!

Food: When my husband makes soup from scratch.

Song:  I can’t stop listening to a song called ‘Alberto Balsalm’ by Aphex Twin

Quote: “Let your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears” I saw this somewhere, but I am not sure where or who said it, but I am really feeling it right now.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Dr. Lucy Rattrie is a chartered psychologist, researcher, and thought leader passionate about creating health, happiness, and wellbeing. She also lectures, writes and speaks on inspiring topics of positive psychology and wellness, plus coaches and works with organizations to achieve sustainable wellness, particularly in the context of travel and work.

For a little more about Lucy, here's a short Q&A! 

For those who received March's 2019 Wellness Kit, as a part of our monthly Holstee Membership, you will notice that some pieces of this Q&A are featured in the guide! 

“The supremacy of the mind gets forgotten when fear, insecurities, or challenges arise.” — Dr. Lucy Rattrie

What activity makes you feel most alive? 

Running on mountain trails for hours, the sensation of hot sun on my skin, growing energy from the freedom. I come home with sore cheeks from smiling, a happiness aura, calm mind and my body feels fantastic! Traveling the world to take on an adventure sport also stirs excitement, teasing me with the wonder of what I’ll discover and accomplish. Always best when laughing with one of my best friends.

What drew you to the work you are doing now?

I’ve always had a strong desire to understand people, feeling enticed by the beauty, power and flexibility of the human mind. Over the years, as a Psychologist and later doing my PhD, I became more passionate about positive psychology (and disillusioned with negative psychology) as a mechanism for living a life we love. My father, who lived a healthy, balanced life, with a calm, steady mind-set, living to what is truly important in a way most people only choose once it’s too late, also passed away quite young, which fueled my drive to help people live a healthy and happy life, so they never look back with regrets.

What piece of wellness knowledge do you wish was more widely known?

The power within our minds and the level of control we have over the way we think and act. The supremacy of the mind gets forgotten when fear, insecurities, or challenges arise. But when we take small, targeted, conscious actions, we can literally transform our natural setpoint and develop a more positive lens on the world as well as a more vibrant body and spirit. Start by simply noticing your internal dialogue. If you repeatedly tell yourself negative things — “I am awful at this” or “They think I'm incompetent” — ask yourself if you are over-thinking or making assumptions. If yes, choose positive thoughts like “I am good at this, even if not 100% perfect” or “They still think I am competent, even if I made one little mistake”. In the words of self-compassion expert Kristin Neff, “Start treating yourself as you would a friend.”

How would you describe your practice of self-care?

I constantly work on developing healthy habits, so each month, I choose one thing to make part of my routine. Last month was sleep. My non-negotiables were no caffeine, going to bed at 9 p.m. to read or meditate, and waking up at 5:45 a.m. I felt amazing! Nutrition is important, and I use a “90%-of-the-time rule”. I find that 100% is unrealistic for many people who have jobs, families, friends, and hobbies. It creates the added pressure and stress, which could make the initial effort counterproductive. 90% is that sweet spot between becoming automatic and having a little bit of wiggle room!

How do you want to be remembered?

Someone who inspired and helped people to be healthy and happy to live a life they love. Who lived with adventure and positive spirit, to the max with no regrets. Went after her dreams despite fear or challenge, kept persisting until it became reality. Explored the world laughing with loved ones. Cared for those loved ones. A world-renowned wellbeing psychologist who created lasting positive change around the world would be awesome!

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Priya Parker is the founder of Thrive Labs, where she helps activists, elected officials, corporate executives, educators, and philanthropists create transformative gatherings. Her recently published book, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters, was named one of the best books of 2018 by NPR and Esquire Magazine

For a little more about Priya, here's a short Q&A! 

For those who received February's 2019 Intention Kit, as a part of our monthly Holstee Membership, you will notice that some pieces of this Q&A are featured in the guide! 

“Gathering matters because it is through each other that we figure out what we believe.” — Priya Parker

What sparked your interest in human connection? 

I come from the world of group conflict resolution. I’ve always been interested in how you create a connection, particularly across difference. Whether designing group dialogues to address race relations on college campuses, or building Hindu-Muslim community trust after riots in India, or working with state and federal officials vying for turf over a national poverty program, I hold at the center of these challenges one question: How could we design our time together in a way that would get these people to really see each other? 

Why is gathering important?

Gathering – the intentional bringing together of three or more people for a purpose – defines our days and nights. We do it so often that we’ve taken it for granted, and, unfortunately, too often go on autopilot and don’t actually think about how we gather. Gathering matters because it is through each other that we figure out what we believe, how we treat each other, what we stand for, what we should build, what we let go of, what we want to fight for, and what our collective sense of the “good” is. 

Why do you feel the current way of gathering is broken?

We have, particularly in the United States, over-indexed on individualism. We obsess over improving our individual lives (sugar intake, productivity, steps per day), and ignore how to improve our collective, shared life. I joke that The Art of Gathering is not self-help, but group-help.

Second, gatherings are interesting and memorable when they have specific forms with a specific purpose. However, most specific rituals come from specific sub-cultures that served a specific purpose (a Tamilian threading ceremony, an Argentinian sobremesa, an Indonesian tooth filing ceremony). As we’ve begun to mix (a good thing, in my biracial opinion!) and globalize, we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater. In trying not to presume a certain way, we’ve lost our specificity of form and get diluted gatherings like a “cocktail party,” a “networking night”, a “house party”. In not wanting to assume that my ritual is the same as your ritual, our gatherings have become vague and diluted.

And finally, our phones [and the exciting worlds we can enter at the swipe of a finger] certainly aren’t helping our in-person time together.

How can we become better at gathering?

By gathering around a specific, disputable purpose. By asking first: What is a need in my life (or in my community) that by bringing together specific people for a unique moment in time they might be able to fulfill? For example, if I’m giving birth in a few months, how could my community gather around my partner and I in this time, and what are we asking them to do in that moment that truly eases our way during this upcoming transformation of being a couple to being a family? Maybe pinning the diaper on the donkey is not the best use of that time. Should we even call it a “baby shower?”

By hosting courageously.

By excluding generously (don’t over-include.)

And by inventing pop-up, explicit, temporary (even fun) rules that serve the specific purpose of each gathering.

We need to invent gathering forms that allow us to come together in specific ways for a temporary moment in time, even while we come from different cultures and belief systems.

That, I believe, is the future of modern ritual.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Each month, we are privileged to work with artists from all over the world. Their unique styles and points of view make for an especially diverse sense of inspiration in the art that arrives in our monthly Holstee Membership. From Los Angeles, California to Barcelona, Spain and everywhere in between, each piece of art is a true collector's piece.

Image credit: Tatanja Ross

The artist to help us bring our theme of Kinship to life is Carla McRae, a Melbourne based illustrator. Her drawings pull together a blank space with clean lines, geometric shapes and strong color. Carla’s work is known for depicting open narratives inspired by the beauty of everyday moments, small gestures, and simple pleasures.

For a little more about what inspired this artwork, her process, and her life, here's a short Q&A:

Where is home for you?

I live and work in Melbourne, Australia. I love Melbourne and have lived here for the last 7 years. I grew up in a coastal town in Queensland and that will always feel like my home too. 

What is your definition of a successful life?

Having love and work criss-cross and overlap - making work that is meaningful and satisfying, to nurture and be nurtured, and in a larger sense, letting the scales tip into the positive always. 

Image credit: Tatanja Ross

Describe your perfect day.

Hmm, there are so many different kinds of perfect days. I think, for me, it is less about the things I’m doing and more about the feeling I get from doing those things. I love a day when my mind is clear, I’m feeling positive and time bends a little. This could mean a whole day where I’m working on a project and am in that worm-hole flow-state all day long, painting or drawing, listening to music and really feeling excited and content about what I’m working on. Or it could mean a day completely away from the desk, hanging with my friends or my boyfriend with not much to do at all - reading, drinking beers in the sunshine, just enjoying each others’ company and letting the day roll on forever. 

How did you get into design?

I’ve loved drawing for as long as I can remember - looking and making has always been a filter for the way I see and process things. I studied graphic design at university, but I never really became a ‘for reals’ designer. Drawing has always been my number one and I have been lucky enough to make a living from it for the last few years! 

Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott

Where do you find inspiration?

So many places! Reading, listening to music, podcasts, and stories, going for walks and just sitting and looking. I’m really inspired by everyday stuff. Travel is really important - switching off to absorb new things for a while is massive. It all swirls together and eventually filters down to the work. The passion and energy that my friends have for their work really keeps me rolling too.

Which designers or thinkers influence/inspire you?

Tove Jansson and Dick Bruna’s work, both ethic and approach are a big comfort for me too. I find a lot of power in Brene Brown, Rebecca Solnit, Roxane Gay, and Patti Smith. I also recently ripped through Alice Rawsthorn’s new book Design as an Attitude and am feeling really inspired by her writing about ‘attitudinal design’ as an agent for positive social and political change. 

What was the inspiration behind this design?

I was thinking about the power that we get from cultivating a strong sense of kinship and connection with the people we love. This feeling that kind of takes over the body - a proud glowing, warm feeling that softens us and also makes us stronger. Everyone needs this space for unconditional, judgment-free love and connection. 

At the moment, what is your favorite…

Tove Jansson and Dick Bruna’s work, both ethic and approach are a big comfort for me too. I find a lot of power in Brene Brown, Rebecca Solnit, Roxane Gay, and Patti Smith. I also recently ripped through Alice Rawsthorn’s new book Design as an Attitude and am feeling really inspired by her writing about ‘attitudinal design’ as an agent for positive social and political change.

Color: A deep, yolky yellow

Food: Cherries (It’s summer here!)

Song: Four Tet’s remix of ‘Lose My Breath’ by Destiny’s Child

Quote: “Speak truth to bullshit” — Brene Brown

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

James Clear is a thought leader, photographer, and the author of Atomic Habits. His writing is focused on how we can create better habits, make better decisions, and live better lives — combining ideas from a wide range of disciplines including biology, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. 

For a little more about James, here's a short Q&A!

For those who received January's 2019 Intention Kit as a part of our monthly Holstee Membership, you will see two additional Q&As from James featured in the guide!

What is the first thing you do when starting a new habit?

If I had to pick one place to start, I would suggest using the “Two-Minute Rule,” which states that you should scale your habit it down until it only takes two minutes or less to perform. 

There are many ways to apply this idea. Read 30 books per year becomes “read one page.” Do yoga four days a week becomes “take out my yoga mat.” And so on. 

Sometimes doing something so small sound silly to people. But the key insight is that a habit must be established before it can be improved. You have to master the art of showing up. Once you become the type of person who meditates each day or writes consistently or goes to the gym without fail, then you can worry about optimizing and improving your habits.

But if you don’t master the art of showing up (even in a small way), then there is nothing to optimize later.

What new habit has had the greatest impact on your life?

Writing. I started writing consistently only a few years ago (2012), but it is the one habit that led to the growth of my business, an email list with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and a best-selling book. The habit of writing is what transformed my business (and it’s the reason we’re doing this interview!).

If you could only accomplish one goal this year, what would it be? 

Write one article per week. That might sound simple, but there are a lot of things that need to happen for me to accomplish that. If I get to the end of the year and I’ve written one article per week, then it means I will have done a great job managing my time, saying no to distractions, clearing space to read and think, and planning ahead. Lots of challenges for such a simple outcome.

 

To learn more about James Clear and his book Atomic Habits, visit: jamesclear.com

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Each month, we are privileged to work with artists from all over the world. Their unique styles and points of view make for an especially diverse sense of inspiration in the art that arrives in our monthly Holstee Membership. From Los Angeles, California to Barcelona, Spain and everywhere in between, each piece of art is a true collector's piece. 

Damian King is an Oakland, CA based designer with a passion for all things made by hand. We got to work with him this month to help us bring our theme of Intention to life.

For a little more about what inspired this artwork, her process, and her life, here's a short Q&A:

What is your definition of a successful life?

One in which you feel proud of the work you are doing. Where you are able to make a living doing what you truly love to do. Having a group of family and friends that love and support you.

Describe your perfect day.

Sleep in, have a slow morning with breakfast and coffee. Spend the day in nature on the beach or in the mountains with my wife. Maybe end the day watching a movie on the couch or going out with friends.

How did you get into design?

My illustration career transitioned into more of a typography/design space in a very organic way. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact place where the shift happened, but I think it started when I began doing t-shirt design where typography was needed. From there I fell in love with letters and design in general. Honestly in wasn’t a huge leap. These days I am back in the illustration world though. I work for Clorox as the sole illustrator where I work for their family of brands like Glad, Burt’s Bees, Kingsford, Brita and many more.

Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere really. Of course Instagram and Pinterest are the obvious places, but movies, fine art, books, and nature all inform my work.

  What's your dream design project?

That’s a hard one. That answer will probably change depending on when you ask me. Right now I would love to get into doing large scale murals. Companies like Patagonia, Levi’s, or Deus Ex Machina are favorites of mine.

 

Which designers or thinkers influence/inspire you?

So many… Brett Stenson, Land Boys, Makoto Kagoshima, Keith Negley, Alice and Martin Provensen, Mary Blair, Paul Rand… The list just goes on and on.

What was the inspiration behind this design?

I wanted to create something simple, but eye catching that had a real purpose, something that would serve as a reminder to myself and others to stay present. 

At the moment, what is your favorite …

Color: Orangey red

Food: Poke Bowl

Song: ‘Feels like Summer’ by Childish Gambino

Quote: “There’s nothing to it but to do it”

 

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Holstee - Mindful Matter by Jocelyn Ulevicus - 6M ago

Life surprises me with delicious irregularity. I was reunited with my first love almost exactly ten years ago, reflecting upon my stunning good fortune has been a constant habit; a foil to my natural grumpiness and an antidote to my glass-half-empty outlook.

Five years ago, after twelve months of grieving for my father, I sat down in front of my computer and reflected upon some of the issues in my life. This year, events have not-so-gently nudged me towards repeating the exercise with a slightly different flavor. Today, as I stare at the small screen before me, my mortality stands alongside, a reminding hand upon my shoulder. My journey continues to teach me valuable lessons.

Firstly, I missed my father. He left this earth more than six years ago, but I don't just mean that I miss him — which, by the way, I still do — I mean that I missed him. Like a fool I missed my chance to find out about him before his last illness diminished him so cruelly, and while he could still share something of himself.

Over the preceding years I didn't ask enough questions, nor ask them persistently enough to elicit meaningful answers. All I know of my father is ‘Dad’; the little that this quiet man allowed to rise to the surface - an idea of which can be gleaned from the fact that after over eighty years of life, all he ever wrote down about himself was — at my urging, I might add — four or five pages. He barely told us more face-to-face. He was a generous and loving man, but he made a sad mistake in this regard. He left us wondering, and unknowing. I cannot let the same thing happen to my children.

His lost legacy is now the reason I write; I write — consciously — for and to them, and to their children. I am so very grateful for the lesson my father unwittingly taught me, and for the opportunity to avoid repeating it.

It took me a long time to learn to be loved. Indeed, I’ve only very recently — lying in a hospital bed and watching my lady loving me with a benevolent and passionate ferocity — begun to understand it properly. Even the thought of it now moves me to tears. I have always loved intensely, but I was always an unhappy lover, and only recently, in my mid-fifties, have I realized that I was eye-wateringly terrible at being loved. I denied it, I refused to believe it could be true, and I closed the door upon the joy of it. I loved desperately and hopelessly, and as a result, I lost. Awakening to being loved has transformed my outlook. Suddenly, my world is full of colors, filled with happiness and chances to return that gift. How blind I was; how beautiful is this new glorious panorama.

Looking forward is still fun. My lovely lady and I long ago formulated a step-away-from-it-all plan for our semi-retirement which we have now managed to bring to fruition. It's a simple idea, but one which fills us with excitement at the thought of creating a new chapter of our lives together. We managed to achieve a major part of it before I fell ill and were forced to put many of our intentions on hold. We never lost sight of our goals, and we find ourselves now in a delightful, peaceful part of the world, surrounded by natural beauty and softly embraced by our small community.

Our future, for a while veiled and uncertain, has returned to clarity and a measure of certainty as we embrace a fruitful last third of our lives. It is a fresh idea and as such is entirely ours, with few echoes of our prior lives. It’s an adventure (in a gentle and not particularly dangerous kind of way), and it gives me a great deal of joy to anticipate living within our little dream, with the person alongside whom I wish to grow very, very old. Looking forward Is not the sole preserve of my young self, after all.

I'm fortunate. Not just lucky, but incredibly fortunate. I am deeply in love with my lady, and she with me (and that alone is enough to make the world worth living in). Together we have three fantastic children — now adults — of whom we are very proud, and we live in a spectacular part of the world. Despite the different routes that we have taken to eventually get here, we have made this happen.

This year, we have come through fear, pain and an uncertainty neither of us has faced before. I could not have done it alone; I will be forever grateful, forever aware of the fate that we have been so fortunate to avoid and so fortunate to bring to fruition. We've worked hard to be here today; we deserve our happiness, but we also appreciate how lucky we have been.

It's not over until it's over. My wife and I lived apart for most of our adult lives. We first got together on the stroke of new year 1983/4 and became an 'item' within seconds. We were together for nearly three years before — mostly as a result of my previously noted troubles with being loved — we went our separate ways. But then, as 2008 came towards an end, we found one another again – or should I say she determinedly hunted me down half a world away.

The road between 1986 and now has been... interesting. There have been full lifetimes’ worth of ups, downs, and sideways-es in the interim, but I have to say that none of that really matters. We have both lived interesting lives on two continents, and we have loved, laughed and cried apart from one another for many, many years. These days, we laugh more than we have ever done, we remind ourselves of how loved we are, and we find joy in our instinctive outpouring of love for one another. Life — and living — is good.

We are now, after all — after all these years — where we truly belong. Together.

And now, I find myself reflecting upon my reflections. When the shimmer clears, when the ripples upon the water’s surface fade away, my reflection is clean and clear. At last, I know. Life — my life, at least — is about love; being loved, loving and demonstrating that love. Over the last year, the reflection in the mirror has changed more than ever before, as have my reflections. As my hair and my beard have grown whiter, my reflections upon the last fifty-plus years have become brighter and more positive. As my life lost its guarantees, it became more valuable and more valued. Life is good, and for the overwhelming majority of time, has been so. I’ve wasted time in not appreciating and enjoying that fact. It is time to change that now. For ever.

 

 ___________________________________ 

Leo Simmons is currently enjoying his new, home on a small island off the west coast of British Columbia, from where he explores his memories and the meaningful parts of life. He writes under his own name as well as the pseudonym Liam Samolis. You can see his work here or on Amazon.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Holstee - Mindful Matter by Jocelyn Ulevicus - 6M ago

On November 9, 2017, I woke up on the couch of a friend's apartment in Brooklyn. Later that morning, I took the A train to Chelsea and walked to a studio where I had a one-off job as a stylist assistant. I remember the sky was true blue and cloudless.

The job was for a wedding lifestyle shoot. On the set that day, I worked hard doing all the usual things that an assistant does: ironing, and steaming, and adjusting hemlines; handing pins to the stylist on set whenever she needed them. I helped to dress and take care of the model, giving her water, and making sure she took breaks and had snacks, and even slipped all the shoes on and off her feet. And while I was busy doing that, I remained quiet, and invisible, as a good assistant does.

But when I was alone, among all the dresses made of tulle and satin and silk, I touched them gingerly, dreaming. I couldn’t help myself. Though I don’t believe in marriage, I do believe in love. To me, these dresses represent big, wild, let’s be stupid with sentiment kind of love.

In 2010, I moved overseas for the first time. My formula for success was exact: I would study, meet someone and fall in love. It was all I wanted.

I spent five and a half years in Europe, and I studied; in fact, I earned a master’s degree and even spent four years in a doctoral program. Also, I met a lot of people and thought I was in love many times, but I wasn’t.

Instead, I watched friends all around me meet people and fall in love and make commitments, and babies. They were buying houses and moving forward in their careers. In other words, they were all doing the things that adult people do, living out the unspoken promise made to us children. The one that says when you grow up, these specific things will happen to you. There wasn’t a language for the people whose lives went another way. That would be one I had to learn on my own.

But before I was able to get there, I felt left out. Like something was wrong with me. And whenever a new person would come into my life, my enthusiasm would be all-encompassing, and when it wouldn’t work out, so would my despair.

In 2015, following the death of my father, I quit my Ph.D., and left Amsterdam, where I was living at the time. My life didn't look how I wanted it to, but I couldn't see that it was my responsibility to change it.

What I also didn't see was that my life was okay. In fact, my life was better than okay, it was filled with adventures that were precisely mine. But instead, I did what I usually did when I hurt or felt confused. I ran.

I was living with a lot of pain back then. In my body, there were unresolved conflicts of childhood trauma, as well as the loss of my mother ten years prior. I lacked the emotional intelligence to understand myself, and my feelings and I'd gotten so reckless with my emotions, that without even realizing it, I was hurting others by letting my hurt leak out. I just kept thinking, if I could get my life in order, so it looks like the lives of everyone else, then I'll be great.

When I repatriated, there was but one question that continued to surface: Do I matter? Though, I never dared to ask to whom. Suppose life offers us the same lessons over and over in a continuous process of unfolding. Suppose it’s what do when met with the challenge that makes us.

In total, I would go on to spend three years purging my pain with the question, Do I matter? In mind. It took me three years to see that that was the very question I needed to ask and answer for myself. 

The answer may surprise you. 

After a lot of introspection, my answer was no, no I don't. But how could I? I didn't know who I was. 

That answer came after exploring layers and layers of stories I told myself over time. At the core of it, I uncovered a nothingness that encompasses everything at once. The same everything that fills you. 

For a long time, I struggled with the same common fear that many people do — the one that tells us we aren't good enough. And like many of us, this one small untruth threaded itself throughout my entire life. 

In my story, I grew to be an expert self-saboteur and used all my failure to confirm my already tenuous self-worth. I tried to make myself into versions of a person I thought other people would want. Nothing hurts more than pretending. 

In my great search for love, when people would say, You have to love yourself first before you could love another, I'd usually roll my eyes. What did THEY know? 

It turns out, a lot.

But it isn’t so much that once self-love unfolds, you get your happy ending. Instead, you learn to nurture yourself and be your friend without looking for that one thing or person to complete you. Because you finally wake up and see that were whole all along. 

Learning to love oneself includes learning how to love better. To love better involves learning how to welcome love into your heart. Learning to bend and flow, you start to see that every interaction is a conversation, a dance between partners, the great waltz of life.

So how does one get around to loving themselves?

Well, for me, it started with a break-up — I broke up with my old self. And then we started from scratch and learned how to be friends. I used writing as a medium to walk around my past and explore its edges. I used solitude to explore my feelings and boundaries, and learn about my values. I leaned on friends when I felt sadness or anger, and my friends leaned back to let me know I wasn't alone. We practice giving and receiving love together. And none of this could have worked without permitting myself to be honest, and vulnerable, forgiving, and compassionate, scared, and wild through it all. 

When I let go of ideas of who I had to be, a child-like wonder returned. And there it was — the purest form of love. I was in my body wholly, intentionally, and found a way to move through the world deliberately, and on purpose.

On the set that day, I also brought two bags. Later that night, I was flying back to Amsterdam, where I am writing from now.

Another year has passed; another year filled with many highs, and lows, a lot of travel, and reflection, and confronting yet impressive growth.

It almost seems too fitting to be here now, looking back to my early wishes — to study, to meet someone, and fall in love.

Because I did meet someone along the way, and I made a great friend — myself. And there is love all around me; there is love all around me.

To this day, whenever I pass a shop window filled with wedding dresses, I stop for a moment and smile. I think about the love between two people, the love that they want to share and celebrate in front of all the people they also love, the people that grew them into who they are.

I no longer get sad or jealous that I haven't found a person to do life with. I've made peace with the fact that I haven't become a mother. And if I'm honest with myself, I know that I could have had these things if I was ready and open. But I wasn't. And also, it wasn't what I really wanted.

Coming to that space of honesty brought me back into a healthy relationship with myself. And anyway, if can you look at the world as a loving place, knowing you are a part of the wonder and magic, how could you ever feel alone?

 

___________________________________ 

Jocelyn M. Ulevicus is a writer, educator, and seeker of truth and beauty. Her work aims to assign a meaningful, accessible, and loving language to themes of loss, trauma, and heartache. You can follow her on Instagram or contact her via her website.

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview