Saturday, 23 May 2015

Seeking Inspiration

I have just spent an hour trying to decide what to write for a blog post. I am still very new to blogging, and although I have lots of ideas (which is why I finally started this blog), I don't always feel like writing something from the list of topics I have prepared for myself. I'm feeling restless and in limbo at the moment, as my time in Germany is coming to an end and I'm feeling both happy and sad to be leaving. When you finally accept the fact that your time in a place is drawing to a close, sometimes you just want to get it over with.

But it has been two weeks since my last blog post, and if I mean to take this seriously, I need to keep it up, right?

So what do I write about when I don't know what to write about? The advice I come across most often for beating writer's block is to just write about anything. And the first "anything" that popped into my head was the things that inspire me.

Breakfast inspires me. There is something about mornings, the promise of a new day, sunrise, birds singing, the sound of rain or the radio playing cheerful tunes to get you in the mood for a good day. I love the versatility of breakfast, and the way it varies from home to home, country to country. I love starting my day with boiled eggs, fruit and musli, fresh bread, honey, cheese, even the occasional full English. And of course, lots and lots of tea (or a milky coffee, if no tea is available!) Breakfast with good friends, breakfast with a book, breakfast on the go, whether that be a flask of tea and some biscuits on the way to work or a takeaway coffee and a bun from a bakery in an exciting city, it's my favourite meal of the day.

Another inspiration: stationery. I'm a writer, and I have a nostalgic love of postcards and letter writing, so of course, I have an unhealthy obsession with stationery (unhealthy for my purse, at any rate!) Those notebooks waiting to be filled, the pretty writing paper longing to be sent to penpals new and old, pens of all colours and styles, notecards and postcards featuring famous paintings and vintage photography... It might seem like something trivial, but these simple pleasures are enough to brighten any day.

New discoveries, whether that be travel, or simply finding a sweet little shop or a café with just the right atmosphere, always provide fuel for my muse. I have been on many a holiday or city break that has awoken a gnawing desire to create. Many a poem has been written thanks to travel and I've found so many ideas for paintings. And, I'll admit, the chance to tell stories of my travels has been another reason for creating this blog (keep an eye out for my next post). When I'm not travelling, the postcards mentioned above provide some relief for my wanderlust, as well as scrapbooks, coins I've collected, and holiday snaps.

And if the arts can't inspire me, what can? There is nothing that makes me want to create more than seeing, reading or hearing art. Afternoons spent in art galleries or browsing DeviantArt; reading wonderful books or poetry or even just seeing bookcases full of books at home or in a bookshop; lyrics and haunting tunes that speak of emotions and stories and other times. For all its downsides, the internet sure has brought me closer to the arts, and over the years it has helped me to discover what sort of person I am. Perhaps humans can't fly or turn princes into frogs, but we can create, and that is how we make our own kind of magic.

There are so many other sparks of inspiration, things that I come across in every day life: the way the light falls through a window, certain clothes or hairstyles, trees blowing in a breeze, water, the orange-gold glisten of raindrops on a window pane at night, patterns on fabric or wallpaper, trains, certain smells, baking, holding hands with a loved one, the seaside, a lamp- or candle-lit evening snuggled up doing something relaxing or creative, clouds, crystals, beads, colour combinations, animals, positive blogs and instagram accounts, chats with best friends, favourite stories...

Considering an hour and a half ago I had no idea what to write, I sure am feeling inspired.

Friday, 8 May 2015

On Making Discoveries

I was 13 when we finally had that big garden that meant we could get a family dog. And what a lovely dog she is. I remember how scruffy and poorly she looked when my mum first got her out of the car on her first day, and trying not to get too hopeful in case the vet said she wouldn't get healthy. She was an extremely skinny, heavily pregnant, one year old Belgian Shepherd, and a week later she had seven pups. The vet was hopeful, and eleven years later our dog still loved and lovely, if not very grey around the muzzle!

But it wasn't just a friend my mum brought home that day. She brought home freedom. Bess, as my mum christened her, was to be mine and my brother's responsibility. We fed her, cleaned up after her and walked her. Before Bess, I didn't know much about my surroundings. We went everywhere by car, and as we'd not long moved into our house, I really didn't know the area too well. Bess changed that.

As I got older, the walks got longer, especially at the weekends when my brother and I would walk all the way to the pine forest. We got another dog too, Samba, who sadly passed away last year. But years later, as I write this, I am living in Hamburg, Germany, and Bess is at home with my family. I don't have my dog to take on walks, but who's to say I can't go walking on my own? It's easy to be lazy and stay at home, or only wander to the park round the corner when I need a bit of outdoor time, but if I didn't go for walks, alone or with company, I wouldn't have discovered the brilliant things I have found in my temporary German home. I have discovered beautiful parks, cool shops and cafés, new places to go and see and experience.

Are you sat at home reading this? Have you got an empty afternoon ahead of you and you're not sure how to spend it? Why not go for a walk, head somewhere you haven't really been before? And on the way, look. Have a wander into shops that catch your eye and take pictures of the pretty scenes you come across. You'll be getting fresh air, stretching your legs and discovering something new, something you can't really experience from a seat in a car.

Nothing says freedom like long walks with furry friends.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Memento

When I was in my early teens I had a diary. It was a "secret" diary, mostly full of embarrassing writings about my latest crush, as well as the occasional mention of the hopes, dreams and regrets of thirteen year old me. I would write in it about once a month, but the older I became, the less I confided in my diary. However, I managed to make those 200 or so pages last around five years. By the time I had my first boyfriend and I had got into uni, the internet, academic work and romance made me feel like I didn't need a diary any more. And now, in my mid-twenties, I regret not having kept it up.

Despite not having an actual "diary" during my uni years, I did carry a notebook around with me at all times. I never knew when I would need a pen and paper to hand, and those notebooks wound up full of scribbled ideas, fragments of stories, poems, letters to friends and even the odd lecture notes. But when my best friend from uni gave me a jumbo notebook as a parting gift, I decided I didn't want to spoil it with any old rubbish, especially not with the dedication from my friend on the first page. So the notebook sat on my shelf for at least a year, until one day I decided to start noting down something nice from each day, or at least each week. Whether that be a special moment, or an entire perfect weekend, the main idea was to create memories. I realised that I barely recorded my time as an Erasmus student in Germany, which was, hands down, the best five months of my life so far, and so I took a vow that I would keep track of the most beautiful moments and days of my life, if only by writing a sentence, a few bullet points or even a paragraph in my notebook.

Every now and then, I flick back through my notebooks when I need some inspiration, or else when I'm feeling a bit blue. An afternoon spent drinking coffee with a friend or watching the sunset at the beach two years ago might seem like something small, but those are things I especially like to do, things that make me happy, and it's memories like that that might fade from my mind, but they will always be there in my notebooks as long as I take the time to write them down.

What enjoyable things did you do today, in the past week, or even in the past month? Is it your birthday, or the end of the year and you want to reflect on your time, or perhaps there is a special event currently taking place? Whatever the occasion, however you're feeling, take the time to write it down, even if it's just a sentence. You never know how that memory will cheer you up days, months or years from now.

Here's to full notebooks.

Here's to making memories.