It’s Wurst and Apfelstrudel time!

It’s Wurst and Apfelstrudel time!

Seeing as we’re about as daft as a brush about European languages, we’re headed off to the pristine hills and rural valleys of Austria and Switzerland (with a short visit to Germany) armed with nothing but unbriddled enthusiasm and a cornucopia of of mispronounced phrases!

In my mind’s eye, I see us having loads of Apfelstrudel and a zillion types of Wurst all washed down with Kölsch or Viennese coffee! As you can see, I really have this well planned ;P (NOT). My deepest apologies to anyone who’s German, Austrian or Swiss for the abject colloquialization of your culture and it’s reduction into rudimentary bits of food and tourist hotspots!  I hope that my naïveté and genuine wonder at it all makes you feel less flesh-creepingly embarassed about what you might see here post holiday! :D Stay with me…I aim to please!

All I really know about the next two weeks is that it’s going to be fab family time with the 5 of us ; there will be moments when we won’t know if we should believe that this is indeed our life, and not me chasing after some sort of spangled dream; and moments when we painfully think we should never have planned this holiday or chosen the London Zoo for the day (at a fraction of the price)! I hope that there’ll be no illnesses, that for a change no one throws up on our economy flight where the bathroom’s the size of a wheelie bin. That we don’t get robbed or get drenched more than twice in one day!!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, family of the year

I’m going to very deliberately be off the Internet in my endeavour to have the truest experience of being in the moment, of trying to nest wherever I am and travel even when home; so if you need to reach me, please do email me and I’ll drop you a line as soon as I’m back! I’ll make an exception to my “off-grid” experience on the 4th  of August where I’m going to be posting photos that will be used on the TOTS 100 Instagram feed as part of their Summer Instagram Takeover so if you fancy seeing pictures of Swiss Villages, HERE is where you’ll find me :)

There’ll be a few travel posts (totally scroll-intensive) after I’m back so please do pop in and have a look!

For now, I’ll leave you with a song that’s been playing on repeat for me, maybe it’s the monochrome imagery that has always moved me at a molecular level or a girlish Country-Music/Rodeo Cowboy hangover – Stetsons, Cuban heeled boots, Plaid! I very nearly made Calgary my home once ;) .I hope you like this song…

Family of the Year: Hero!

Here’s a photoessay from the last time we went away in case you fancy indulging your wanderlust ;)  :

“Arrivederci Roma!” – A Photo-essay.

www.intrepidmisadventurer.com

Coming Undone & Rethinking your Creative Mojo!

Coming Undone & Rethinking your Creative Mojo!

I think that every creative person goes through intermittent periods in their life when they look at the daunting blank of the canvas before them and feel utterly paralysed. I’m sorta still there now. I’ve been there over the last two weeks!

Very often I’ve thought that being unable to write must mean a cessation of your creativity,  a time when you’ve genuinely got nothing to say, no narrative left to create anymore. I’ve read more oftten and on more varied platforms than I care to list that this is when you should step back, do other things you love till you feel fired again to go birth thoughts and ideas and clothe them with the frivolity of wit and feel ready to set them free, unrestrained….

I’m passionate about a lot of things and am usually someone who has ideas, a lot of them..most of which I know might never lend themselves to more than a paragraph in print! They’d probably end up dividing the world into two sides of an argument (very Tolkienesque, I know) and in my writer’s fantasy, everyone would fire up their laptops just as they’re hit with a new post notification and in a 90 second ad capsule, converge on my post with cups of cocoa and carefully considered teas!

*Ahem* Uncanny just how much of a resemblance that bears to real life! ;P

Over the last week, I’ve had to rethink my inertia when it comes to my creativity and realise that it’s not that I have nothing left to say but that everything that I do want to say seems raw and painful. (For those of you who regularly read me, you know I’m moving…again! ) I see myself standing at the brink of another big change, a few more strange roads, a new house to call mine and make a home of. Children to settle into a new school and new friends – whose lives we must weave ourselves into gently, without disturbing their established ecology! Sure, there is a rush of excitement, a chance to start afresh – new beginnings are positive too! But largely, I’ve lost my voice to the call of this challenge, to leaving behind old friends, laughter, the security of an established life… again!

spool thread, connectivity, coming undone, writers block, creative slump. creativity. writing

I so often hear about writers/bloggers who swear by keeping a diary with them to note down ideas, sentences, inspiration for them to revisit later and heaven knows I’ve tried that, and like all things in the bag of a mum of two young girls, it finally ends up littered with cookie crumbs, the home of softening, last flakes of a bag of crisps, dampened by used wet wipes after ballet and swimming. And the once-gorgeous Moleskine begins it’s adagio into the seventh circle of hell!

I’ve recently had a few days of turning up at my desk and blankly staring at a screen before I decide to arbitrarily scan Twitter (I’m not much of a Tweeter/Twitterer (?) so my peppered interaction is often the result of an extraordinary delightful day or quite likely the converse) and then going on to browse sales I would never succumb to! :) I’ve also realised that looking for inspiration to break out of a slump is generally not to be found on Twitter (Pinterest, maybe- for some), but Twitter made me want to run and hide! The one thing you don’t need is to see how well everyone’s doing the one thing that seems to have bid you so long. If you’d take my advice, stay off all social media for a day or two if you don’t feel like the “King of the World” when it comes to your creativity!

 

spool thread, connectivity, coming undone, writers block, creative slump. creativity. writing

In all my searching and thinking, the one thing I realised was that there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Here’s what worked for me and I hope will help you in some small measure.

  • I read. I went back to parts of old books that I’ve loved and that’ve meant something to me over the years (the kind that have paragraphs you want to highlight, or if you’re a complete saddo like I am, do highlight so you can come back to it sometime!) I re-read them and smiled, cried, felt inspired to create again, to write how reading that made me feel.
  • I’m a bit obsessed with music so I made a playlist and listened to music that’s new to me, that I don’t have any real history with. I also listened to music I have a deep history with and the both of them helped get the groove back, I decided I’d engage every sense I can till I know I can face the empty screen again and know that I have something to deliver. I owe myself to deliver on the one thing I love doing most.
  • That’s another thing that helped, making a commitment to myself to get over this creative slump! It’s daunting when your entire being is racked with self doubt. You stand convinced that there is no place or use for your thoughts, your contribution is negligible if at all, and everyone, including your next door ‘tweenager ‘ probably says it better than you! The self negation is extreme at times! (Helped knowing that Coleridge felt it too, and Susan Sontag – one of my favourite authors). Telling yourself that you understand that you need a break, but you’re going to be back by a certain date has more of an impact than you can imagine. Choicelessness is often a great way to get things done ;)
  • Sometimes your mind won’t let you write something that it feels is unauthentic, especially if you’ve got “real” issues on your mind. Creative people know intrinsically what they want to say and if you can’t for whatever reason address that -maybe the story isn’t even yours to tell – you find it impossibe to settle for the second best that you feel “allowed” to write. Take some time off to make peace with whatever you’ve got to shelve for the moment. Maybe write it on paper or on a Word Doc and after it’s out of you, either click delete or save it if you think you might like to read what you felt. I wrote to a friend I trust with all my heart. It was raw, it was real, and most importantly, it was dead honest. And even before I got a reply, I was better and could miraculously compartmentalize again. There are things that we would love to write about, “blogging gold” as a more accomplished blogger called it- but for myriad reasons, we never will. That’s just part and parcel of our creative journey, and rightfully so! Don’t be afraid to change your plan, if one idea won’t play out, work on another. Plan B doesn’t have to signify a lesser alternative. Don’t force it, you’ll end up with something you’d be embarassed about in time to come. Trust me, I’ve been there ;)
  • Cook, bake, craft…whatever you enjoy that’s removed from your writing. Finish something. I’m usually guilty of being very harsh on myself because I’ve left so much unfinished in my life – half started projects that I’ve tired of or lost enthusiasm for; a half written second story! Taking something to it’s logical end makes me feel, somewhere subconsciously that I will /can come through on things! My writing will not be another bullet point on my unfinished list!

There’s a good reason that you feel what you do when you’re all clogged up in your head – it’s a call to learn to trust yourself, be gentle and kind to you. Your subconscious is trying to say something by being uncooperative! You won’t find your answers by incessantly searching Google, you won’t find YOUR fix in a random list that might work for 7/10 people. The biggest favour you can do yourself is realise that maybe it’s time to shut that laptop, mute that smartphone and finally listen to the you that you’ve been so desperately searching for!

You might also like to read :

How I write..(and all that jazz!)

Still Lifes & Shelfies – The Art of Repeat!

www.intrepidmisadventurer.com

 

Unfinished Business!

Unfinished Business!

I suppose one naturally assumes that writing a blog post about your Unfinished Business at 37 is a sure sign of a healthy mind! ;p Well, if you think this is another bucket list where I very originally envisage swimming with dolphins followed closely by bungee jumping in Machu Picchu, this is where you should hit the exit key! I can’t swim and I’m rather given to caution when I hear that the risks of a fatal accident from bungee jumping are roughly 1 in 500,000. That statistic actually scares me…yeah, I’m a real gambler at heart- I buy into the odds that the 1 in 500,000 could be ME!

venice, unfinished business, bucket lists, meaningful living,  travel, machu picchu

I tread a bit sceptically when it comes to regarding most published bucket lists; for frankly, entries like “falling in love” (mentioned in an astounding 87% of lists) is hardly something that happens as a result of a carefully engineered plan! I once (as part of my job) attended a marketing seminar that spoke about concretely visualising your goals as being a way of making sure they happen. We all came away with a pack of large, brightly coloured Post-it’s, (no points for guessing who one of the big sponsors were ;)) and for a long time, I stuck post-it’s everywhere, about everything (including telling myself that I’m gorgeous-drop dead gorgeous!)…And you know what? They actually did the job (bet the drop dead gorgeous one is still somewhere within reach–work in progress, that! ) But, apparently, writing down a goal gives you a 30% increased chance of achieving the target because a thought is not recognised as a call to action by your subconscious mind as is print, therefore the motivation you have toward that task is maximised by putting it in writing! Very compelling reasons for making lists – I know!

I often think of the industries that have come into existence to cater to the sole need of awkward, yet highly individualistic behaviour that needs to do things that veer away from the ‘sameyness’ of everyone’s life! Frankly, I find that very debatable when a sizeable population also wants to be a part of the ‘same’ , virtually identical, acquisitive lifestyle! Of course, the fuel that keeps the embers glowing is an attempt to surpass yourself – the acceptable face of competition! To go up higher, to win bigger, to attempt to answer the call for meaning and structure and silence the ancient questioning within.  And in our quest to complete this perfect picture of our victory-rich lives, we exist as a generation of urban ‘individualists’ bounding (at a skydiving pace, nonetheless) towards a collective end– alone!

venice, unfinished business, bucket lists, meaningful living,  travel, machu picchu

Exotic tea parlour!

Well, having just rubbished what at least a couple of million people take quite seriously, let me tell you what my unfinished business is about – and it’s not wanting to change the world- I gave up on that in my 20′s! I now just attempt to change the 6 square- feet of earth that I call mine, and hope that the ripple effect from there exponentially gives me street cred in the ‘change the world’ business!

I want to stop being a city girl, and by that I mean ‘cerebral’, I grew up in a small nuclear family with “Mattel” being the one of the most important words in my vocabulary, in a city that does not sleep! I know the names of a few flowers, recognize three trees to be precise and constantly feel like an outsider in nature. I want to feel a ccommunion – (no, I’m not in need of skirts made of hay and tie ‘n die kaftans despite loving Janis Joplin and most things Woodstock!)

I want to romance food – I’ve always had an unhealthy relationship with food. I’ve either feared food or I’ve craved it…I’ve never approached it as a friend who’ll nurture me and whose embrace I can accept with no strings attached! I think our culture’s taken that from us and the slew of magazines that celebrate food, even just bread in it’s rudimentary form is evidence of the fact that we’ve lost a deep connection with sustenance – of the most basic kind!

 

murano, burano, lace, venetian masks, venice, unfinished business, bucket lists, meaningful living,  travel, machu picchu

I want to raise compassionate, self-assured, spirited daughters who will not make mistakes that cost them their whole life to put right! I want them to know the value of asking for things politely and stopping to say thank you. Entitled, thankless people are the scourge of our times! I want them to have the strength to get up every time life knocks them down and say “Right, where were we again?!” and I hope that they’ll make good partners and good mums, and be loved enough by their families to be forgiven the mistakes they’ll make…

I want to know – and not just bookishly, that pine cones react differently to different temperatures and times of day; and that there are ways of living happily without a blow dryer or straighteners and an internet connection that allows me to upload a 10mb file in under five minutes! With every apocolyptic, dystopic film I watch, I realise how ill-suited most of us are to “living off the land”. I want to be able to grow my own anything really- coriander will do! And I want to grow my children up with a deeper connection to the earth than I will ever, naturally have!

venice, unfinished business, bucket lists, meaningful living,  travel, machu picchu

You know how all of us have events, people – choices that we made that served no purpose other than prove to us that we are totally capable of making ut-ter-ly rubbish decisions; (yeah, those)..I wish that someday I can truly lay the memory of them to rest! To be at peace with it without oscillating between the regret or the indifference…

I bet that some clever PR person somewhere thought that it might be nice to create some hype about people swimming with dolphins, and laughed his way to the bank just as filmmakers did with travel chick flicks…but naiively, I do yearn to be lost within a different culture- for a long enough time to not have to choose between identities.  And yes, I know that culturally and politically, there is no real way that will ever happen to me- but seriously, neither will watching a lunar eclipse while mattress-surfing happen to the poor bucket-lister who wishes it upon himself! The more I read, hear and discuss people’s plans as they course through life with carefully ‘curated’ lists; I wonder if maybe it is important that we live our lives in a quest for ‘organic’ meaning and ‘granular’ experience – but equally important too, is to realise that some “dreams” are intended to remain just that…dreams!

What do you dream about doing? Tell me, I’m listening … x

You might also enjoy reading :

“Arrivederci Roma!” – A Photo-essay.

Retro-Chic and the Cult of Neo-Sobriety!

www.intrepidmisadventurer.com

*The pics used in this post were taken by me in Venice, Murano and Burano and used in an essay titled “The portrait of ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns!’”  long before the birth of The Intrepid Misadventurer x

How I write..(and all that jazz!)

How I write..(and all that jazz!)

So, I find myself tagged in a Blogger’s Writing-Style chain post where I let all you lovely people know what makes me tick, and why I think people read me – and let it be said at the outset, I’m flattered – Proper.Flattered! Kerry – who nominated me, is the high priestess of Be A Mummy Blogger, with her years of experience in the writing industry and as a regular contributor to parenting and food channels on Yahoo UK , she aims to help bloggers and mumpreneurs take their blog to the next level!

For as long back as I can remember, writing has gone hand-in-hand with problem solving for me. I was one of those who kept a journal for a long, long time…way after it stopped being ‘cool’;  and no, it wasn’t one that came password protected- I grew up in the middle ages, a chimp could’ve broken my code!

I’ve had several careers that revolved around writing- I lectured at University for six years, teaching Post Graduate students European studies for a while before I went to work with an American news corporation where I did scripting and technical writing for a very long time! We became parents, we moved countries, we set up new lives and through it all, I contnued writing – contributing to journals, writing academically too, as I took on a Ph.D. It’s just something that’s underscored every stage of my life!

And then came the gift of webspace and a WordPress theme…my friends and family totally twisted my hand behind my back and got me to start The Intrepid Misadventurer, and boy, I’m glad I did..It was the choice to put down all my thoughts-  emails that I would write about certain topics to a select group of friends, movie reviews that we would share- all finding a home at one destination and it being open to anyone who wanted to stop by for a chat, share a thought, contribute… It’s as close as I can get to a “mountain cafe”!

 

 

Writing style, perspectives, blogging success, decisions, red pill blue pill

 

Okay, let’s get down to business, grab the nomination baton and run with it ;)

What are you working on?

Currently writing about How I write..(and all that jazz!) … and then I’ve got two posts in my drafts (It almost never happens!) One is about Unfinished Business, yes-  a bucket list of sorts, but with a twist  – how are you going to leave your mark? What says “you were here”? Another which is going to be a food post, and a very manly one at that!  Then I will be doing some work for the English National Opera..You’ll have to watch this space for more..

I wish I was more organized with my writing, but I’m not. Writer’s Block is my default position, much like our grey skies- but then suddenly and without warning, the light just breaks through!

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

I have always believed that we’re all more alike than we’re different and are powered, enthused, intrigued and perplexed by vastly similar things. Those “similar things” make the core of my writing. I don’t write about things I do with my children, for a lot of the times, they’re barely enthralling to me! A lot of mums out there do it better and are very inspiring…I learn from them about things to do with my 7 & 6 yr old girls. I don’t feel I’m quite there yet to be writing about our daily life..

I write about ideas and issues around parenting (introversion, birth order behaviour, raising children in a very nuclear cultural ethos – they don’t see family for years), I deconstruct trends that seem popular and appealing like our recent obsession with shelfies and all things retro. I write about music and meaningful living and I think I do it with a lighthearted approach. All my thoughts are perspectivesmy experience of life in my skin – not hard hitting truth and doesn’t call for my readers to be parents at all. There’s something there for everyone! I’m humorously snarky, for really all of us could do with taking ourselves a little less seriously – let’s leave the rabble rousing for the Tele, shall we?! :)

 

Writing style, perspectives, blogging success

Why do I write what I write?

If I knew, I’d tell you… I’m on a trajectory to being the 40 year-old in Baz Luhrmann’s “Everyone’s Free to wear Sunscreen” , of whom he says

“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t.”

I guess I write what I write to access a world outside of me and my immediate life. I write to comapartmentalize my intellect and creativity from my routine…after a day of being mommy, getting school work sorted, lunches packed, dishes done, meals planned and then there’s afterschool to deal with, you can feel totally disconnected with the ‘why’ of you. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade any of the above to be the queen of the world, but writing is that magnifying glass that hones in on me and what I bring into the world. I hope that as you read what I write, you nod along with that shared experience, I hope that coming across my blog is a 5 minute break where you think of something differently, or add to the conversation because you and I are on the same page, but on different lines!  I write so I’m part of something bigger than myself – It’s a manifesto of where I would like to go with my life; it’s a chronicle of where I’ve been!

 How does my writing process work?

It all starts with a foggy mist, I’m never sure of what my next post would be. Ideas come to me, and like seeds, some die and some take root.. I do a lot of research if I’m writing about something that I claim has some sort of scientific backing, if not – I go with my creative flow.

My writing process is collaborative, I write to be spoken back to. My greatest need through my writing is to reach another person, to connect- maybe it stems from when I taught literature in a classroom and it was a two-way process!  Staying relevant to people’s lives is my basic premise, and to be honest about my voice. I don’t write to be liked, or agreed with…a connection can be made on differing opinions! More than anything, my writing operates on a level playing field, you’ve invited people into your world, play nice. The best ideas fall apart in a negative space!

My writing is meant to accomplish nothing other than remind us of our connectivity as human beings – we are as diverse as we are uniform, of celebrating shared experience that makes such a measurable impact on us all; knowing that we’re not alone in what we feel! If I’ve accomplished that with any one reader, then in my own right this is a successful blog!

Thank you Kerry from Be a Mummy Blogger for nominating me and getting me thinking, I’ve enjoyed mulling over the “why” of it all :) I don’t feel like I know anyone well enough in the blogging world to nominate them, but throw the invitation open to anybody who’d like to take this conversation into their own lives and tell us what makes them tick! X

You might also enjoy reading :

Nature, Nurture and Apples falling from Trees!

Retro-Chic and the Cult of Neo-Sobriety!

www.intrepidmisadventurer.com

* The images in this post are borrowed from Daniel Simm with express permission! All the images on this site are mine unless otherwise stated and I would really appreciate if I was asked before they were liberally used elsewhere on the net! Don’t say you haven’t been warned ;)

“Life is Good!” – A Mini Boden Story!

“Life is Good!” – A Mini Boden Story!

One of the first few ‘British things’ I fell in love with was Boden clothing, and Mini Boden in particular! I have closely spaced children who are only 15 months apart and have diametrically opposite tastes.. they’re as different as peas and yams! As I mentioned in Nature, Nurture and Apples falling from Trees – one is capable of zingy flamboyance, the other opts for a more muted palette!
Since my girls were little, I’ve turned to Mini Boden for their clothes so when I had the opportunity to review a few of their clothes, I thought I’d go the extra mile with it! We decided to make a small movie of our time spent in the South Norfolk woods…storytelling, poppy gathering, dandelion blowing and a lot of cake-eating.. (that really is what good times are made of!) (Please do watch it – it’s our first movie here on the blog and so that teeny bit extra special :))

The Intrepid Misaventurer featuring Mini Boden from Kanchan Char on Vimeo.

Mini Boden has always stood the test of time for me.. the quality is *great* (and in the one odd occasion where something goes wrong – Boden operate a no quibble returns policy – provided the fault has little to do with “having been mauled by pets, drawn on by nephews or worn while decorating”. It’s like a little insurance policy!;P

Do I hear ” At those prices, you need one?” Admittedly, Boden does cost more than a few highstreet brands (though I’ve been surprised at some labels recently that surpass Mini Boden in price but pale in comparison on design and quality).

 

Mini Boden. childrens clothing, video review, British clothing

For us, Mini Boden is a thrifty option – here is where I get lynched and mobbed, but hear me out! I buy clothes that are to be used by two children simultaneously, they see a lot of wash and still look as good as new for a looong time – I say this after years of buying Boden! I find that Mini Boden styles can be bought in a bigger size than your child needs and are still very wearable because of adjustable features, making sure you get maximum use of the item. Clever things like adjustable waists, slightly longer sleeves than what you get elsewhere (that means tees can be worn longer) and dresses that are A-Line in style tend to go on looking good even after your child’s grown out of the size bracket on the label. Nifty things like footless tights – again a Mini Boden staple, takes care of those transitional season days we have almost every other day in beautiful Britain! ;P And after all that jazz, stick it on eBay and get a very sweet sum back (I speak the truth, go test it…). This effectively makes your purchase (if at all), a couple of quid more than a super market buy.

Mini Boden. childrens clothing, video review, British clothing

I’ll let the gorgeous prints and design speak for themselves…or you can go over and have a browse at *Boden* and see for yourself. They’re offering a nice 30% discount  at the moment and if you’re a new customer, you get a little gift (say you’re new in the space provided for delivery options at checkout).

 

Mini Boden. childrens clothing, video review, British clothing

Happy Shopping! ;-)


*Disclaimer : This is a sponsored post, and I was given clothes from the Boden Spring Summer Catalogue for my participation! All opinions (very honest, btw), stories and ramblings are authentically mine! :)*
A big thanks to the wonderful Daniel Simm, my partner in crime for collaborating with me on this! :)
You might also enjoy reading :

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