The Human Tradition of Keeping A Diary

Since time immemorial people have been recording their lives and surroundings.  As far back as the Stone Age people recorded the world around them on the walls of caves in the form of art.  They depicted the animals they shared an environment with and recorded hunting events.  They reflected on the world around them and set it to stone in the same way we set it to paper today.

This reflection on the world and our place in it is an unavoidable aspect of being human.  It’s what we do.  We observe both our internal and external worlds, and try to make sense of them.  Naturally, with the rise of literacy came the rise of the diary as daily record for the masses.

“Swiftly, swiftly, record your thoughts before they are forever lost in time.”
Trevor Wright

The earliest reference to a diary as a book in which one recorded daily life was in Ben Jonson’s 1605 comedy, Volpone.  In 17th century England diary keeping became quite popular with people recording all kinds of different aspects of life.   Like today, there were many kinds of diaries you could commit to keeping.

In John Beadle’s 1656 Diary of a Thankful Christian he wrote:

“‘We have our state diurnals, relating to national affairs. Tradesmen keep their shop books. Merchants their account books. Lawyers have their books of pre[c]edents. Physitians have their experiments. Some wary husbands have kept a diary of daily disbursements. Travellers a Journall of all that they have seen and hath befallen them in their way. A Christian that would be more exact hath more need and may reap much more good by such a journal as this. We are all but stewards, factors here, and must give a strict account in that great day to the high Lord of all our wayes, and of all his wayes towards us’.” (Source)

While Beadle was making use of the diary genre to keep a record of his life as a Christian for God, many others were using it to record other elements of life that were important to them.  Four centuries later we continue to do the same.

Continue reading The Human Tradition of Keeping A Diary

Macaneta: Bridging The Gap

Macaneta is cut off from the mainland by the Inkomati river.  People make the trip out to this rural area to spend time on the beach.  It’s a very natural, sparsely inhabited place where cattle roam the wetland close to the river and its community have to make daily trips to the city and surrounds by ferry for everything they need.

The ferry is pretty iconic around here because if you’ve visited Macaneta you have undoubtedly spent some time waiting in line to be ferried across the river.  It isn’t a very large ferry either – it only carries 6 cars at a time and takes about 20 mins to make the crossing.

MF 5 - 20121228 - Lightroom Jul 2016

A new bridge is set to replace the ferry that wanted to die ages ago.  The community have had to make their way to the mainland by ferry or boat for a long time and this bridge will be life changing for them.

The bridge brings a lot of advantages that could not be foregone but as I looked through some photos from a few years ago I had to wonder how it will affect this little nature paradise.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Operation Declutter Your Home: The How & Why

Two years ago I packed up my entire home into boxes for a move to a new house.  Ultimately, we didn’t move to that new house and I was stuck with all my stuff in boxes.  While it was disappointing at the time, I look back with gratitude because it enabled me to do something very important.

I didn’t have the energy to immediately unpack everything because I was still quite disappointed with how things had turned out so I just unpacked what I really needed for that week.  After that first week there were certain special items I missed having around me so I unpacked those.  Within the first month I had unpacked what I really needed and what was very important to me and nothing more.

Months passed and what I came to realise was that I had been harbouring a LOT of stuff that I thought I needed, wanted, or would one day use that was just cluttering up my space and my mind.  The really important result of not having all that extra stuff out is that I had the space both physically and mentally to re-evaluate my life a bit and see what I wanted to do next and how I wanted to live.

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”
Marie Kondō

It seems that when you have all the stuff from your past still cluttering your home it becomes difficult to see the changes you actually want to make.  Your stuff holds you back.  I highly recommend clearing out the clutter to make space for the new to come in.  Once I had everything out of the way I began to see how I could make my home’s style a better reflection of who I am now and what I’m aiming for.

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”
Marie Kondō

I don’t expect you to go and pack up your whole house as I did to figure out what is worth your space and what is not (although if you can it works well) but I do have a strategy that I think can help you reach the same results in increments.  Instead, pack up room by room.

  • Go into a room of your house and pack everything up.  Take this opportunity to clean the room top to bottom.
  • Leave this room over night or as long as it takes for you to go into the room to do something.
  • Then unpack only what you need for the task or for a week.
  • After a week unpack the things you really miss having around you but be strict about this.  Only the stuff that truly means something to you like photos, special gifts or ornaments, etc.  Do not riffle through boxes and pull out stuff just because it has a memory attached to it because that’s all your stuff.  Just those things that can’t be replaced.
  • Throughout the first month only unpack those things that you need, those special things that you enjoy having around you and which are in line with your current mindset and home style.  Leave everything else in the boxes.
  • After that first month anything that remains in those boxes you should consider donating, selling, or throwing away.

Move from room to room in this way and if you are honest and strict with yourself you should have cleared out plenty of clutter and maybe even made a bit of money from it.  When it comes to clothes the one month rule won’t apply to seasonal clothes so you may have to revisit your wardrobe each season and cull those pieces that don’t get worn within one month.   Give it a try and see how you do.  Do it every year if you want to.  Like everything the more often you do it the better at it you’ll get.

If you find yourself needing a real push to help you declutter you might want to read famous Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.  It is jam packed with quote-worthy motivation and revelations.

What’s your take on clutter, love it or hate it?

 

 

Why Your Next Holiday Should Be A Roadtrip

Going on holiday is always exciting.  I love holidays and while flying to your next destination often means you can travel to more distant places much more quickly there is something special about loading up the car and hitting the road.

Here’s why making your next holiday a roadtrip will be good for the soul:

  • You have complete control over your journey.  You decide when to leave without imposed delays and you get to avoid the chaos that is airports.  Come rain, come shine, you can get in your vehicle and head off on your holiday.
  • Solitude or together time.  Whether you’re heading out on your own, with your partner, or your family you get the solitude you need to recharge, think, and enjoy me-time or you get to spend some quality time together without the interference of distracting everyday stuff.  There’s no TV or wifi and while you might have to put up with a few cell phones or tabs (depending on what rules you choose to impose) it’s still a chance to be together where no one can just get up and leave.
  • Seeing the country is a great benefit of roadtripping.  Seeing the land shift and change along the way is beautiful and gives you perspective on where you live and what’s around you.  It feels like you really are seeing the world when you cross country that you don’t normally see.
  • You can stop whenever and wherever you want.  You can plan a trip hour by hour but I guarantee that if you travel by car you’ll find something interesting that you hadn’t planned for or didn’t know was there.  This is one of the absolute draws of roadtripping because you get to discover and enjoy new things, places, and people.  This is especially nice for nature lovers because every now and then you’ll find a particularly special spot in nature which often isn’t on the map.  Pull over, grab some snacks, and spend an hour in a new spot.
  • Once you get to your destination you have a car to explore the area even further.  Obviously you can rent a car in other situations but that can be an extra hassle that you might not want to take on.  With your own car you’ll be much more inclined to spend a few hours away from your accommodation or resort to see what else the area has going on and like I mentioned above you may discover some amazing stuff that you hadn’t planned for – you just never know.
  • It inspires the adventurer in you.  With the freedom of hitting the road in your own car and an open itinerary you may feel yourself open up to the spirit of adventure.  Invigorating and fun, this is exactly what you need to relax and come home refreshed and inspired.

Get out your map book and plan a trip somewhere new.  Get your car ready.  Hit the road.  Simple as that.  Don’t forget to leave some time open to explore, discover, be a bit spontaneous.  I guarantee you’ll have a great time.

New Year, New Goals: Setting Goals for a Mindset Refresh

We are two weeks into the new year.  By now many people have already defined their new year’s resolutions and a few may already have given up on them.  I like the idea of resolutions but I tend to prefer goal setting at the beginning of the year.  Rather than focus on things I want to stop doing I like to focus on what I want to achieve during the year, where I want to be by the end of the year, and what I need to do to get there.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.

I think what’s important is not so much the goal (although achieving it would definitely be wonderful) but rather the mindset we get into by thinking carefully about what we want and how we will get there.  Getting your head into the right gear at the beginning of the year is a powerful way to let go of the year just ended and prepare to be open for the new.

I’m not sure that looking back over a year and judging it as either good or bad is the right strategy for life.  There is no doubt that some years leave us drained or depressed while others have filled us with joy and hope.

“And just as he who, with exhausted breath, having escaped from the sea to shore, turns to the perilous waters and gazes.” – Canto 1, lines 22-24, The Inferno of The Divine Comedy by Dante

The quote above is how I see looking back at a tough year.  You got out alive and there’s much to be grateful for in the lessons we learn in tough times.  These make us stronger and prepare us for greater challenges.  This, too, is important as is happiness and prosperity.  Another quote I like that often helps me see what I initially perceive as a tough year as part of the greater picture of my life is from Zora Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God:

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

If last year wasn’t the year you hoped it would be, don’t worry.  Everything is preparation.  Get out a fresh, blank piece of paper and think about what you want to achieve and what kind of life you want to have.  Then write down the things you need to do to get there.  Be specific.  Each day you can work a little more on completing task after task until you get closer and closer to where you want to be.

Last year I asked questions about where I am and where I wanted to be.  It was about coming to a realisation that I wanted a drastic change and that I needed to take risks to get it.  This year I have a better and clearer idea of what I want and the steps I will take to get there.  Among the many changes I will try to bring about this year the main one is focus on developing skills that will better help me to express the creative side of myself.  I will be taking courses in Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, focusing on developing my photography, and working towards creating better content for digital publication.  Doing these things will bring me joy and satisfaction because essentially my goal is to do more of what makes me happy and not put any more time into doing stuff that doesn’t fascinate and inspire me.

What are your goals for this year?