We can shine even if the sun don’t – July’s review

July was supposed to be a summer month in the United Kingdom. In fact the first couple of days saw record-breaking temperatures. It didn’t last. It hasn’t been particularly cold, where I am, but it hasn’t been overly bright either. It is like summer is holding its breath, waiting to exhale and bring a smile to everyone’s face.

leaves and clouds

For me the month began with a quarterly review. I found this very helpful as mentioned here. This set the tone for the month for me. I found that I was more focussed and achieved a lot more. I have an evolving daily routine, and more specifically a morning practice that I find sets me up for the day ahead. I have recently begun, once again, a morning pages routine, where I write whatever comes into, or more accurately, out of my head. This has also helped with focus for the day ahead.

Another thing that has greatly helped with my focus was the removal of my troublesome tooth. It took the dentist a while to wiggle it free, but now it is gone. As it went it took with it the almost constant ache and pain that I have had for the past couple of years. The gum is still healing, but it already feels much better.

I had a couple of freelance pieces of work that were completed on time. The few bills I have will be paid this month at least.

On the music front I have been working once again for the talented Suzi Blu, who has just launched her Gypsy Boho A Go Go Show. She is using Patreon to support this project. Follow the links to see what it is all about. If you are into creating art, and art as a lifestyle, then you’ll love what she is doing. More info on Suzi Blu’s Patreon page. If you want to know more about what I am doing musically then the latest is always at This Temple Eden.

My main project for the month has been A Day in the Life. What is this, I hear one or two of you mumble from across the ether. A Day in the Life is a book, a real hard copy book. You know, like they used to use in olden times. It’s a beginners guide to developing a regular writing habit through creating A Day in the Life of an individual. It has 30 prompts to inspire your writing and is, I believe, a fun way to begin to write. More information on its availability once I have received the proof copies!

I managed to write and post six times to The Creative Minimalist and the same for Imaginality. One goal for August onwards is to post more regularly and with a little more forward planning. I have been using a specific journal for planning my blog writing and this has helped. If I can focus my time a little better it will help even more!

The posts included the following:
Create more – do the right task at the right time
Wot no ideas – coping with a barren creative spell
Minimalism and the art of journal zen
My bad language – words and phrases I use too often

I am trying out Periscope as a means of staying in touch and building my social media platform (oh dear, that sounds so dry). If you want to connect with me there I can be found as @darrenrhill, the same as I can on most apps including twitter and snapchat – do add me, let’s connect.

July has been a productive month. This was down to having clear goals and commitments. The quarterly review helped too, enabling me to see the monthly objectives in line with the bigger picture of where I want to be. Now to plan August… and if the sun could shine a little more that would be appreciated too.

Minimalism and the art of journal zen

my current journal pile

My idea of minimalism is to simplify. If I don’t need it then I shouldn’t have it. I should not consume more than I need. The simpler my life is the more I can do with it; the less I carry the further I can travel etc etc etc (I may be channeling Yul Brynner).

So why do I struggle when it comes to journals, notebooks and the like?

The image above is not what I have, my stash is in a box hidden away, but what I am actively using. This is a snapshot of my current daily stash. How can I possibly need all those at the same time?

  • I have a Midori Traveller’s Notebook that is my diary and notebook
  • A Moleskine that I am using for journaling and monthly focus
  • A Moleskine for art, or quotes or inspiration
  • A Moleskine Volant for blog planning
  • A song journal, for song writing
  • An Iconic Essay Book for noting things to learn (a commonplace book)
  • A small prayer journal (two actually)
  • An A4 pad for my morning pages
  • A Midori Passport size, which doubles as my wallet
  • An A4 layout pad, for when you need a little room for ideas
  • An A3 sketch pad, for when you need even more room for ideas
  • An A4 art pad, for those rare moments when I get visually creative
  • A pocket Moleskine that is kept in my bag in case I forget to take out one of the above with me

At any given time there may be additional scraps of paper or post-its in use too. I am a stationery junkie, or at least the journal / notebook aspect of stationery. Now I know that there are some of you out there who have and use far more than me. I wonder if there is a need to set up a help group to discuss our addiction. However, we’d only share and inspire each other to buy more.

I don’t want to work, or be, this way though. I want things simple and in one place. Part of my problem is that I have decided a task should take place in a particular journal. Therefore I have a separate notebook for each task. However, I should, or could, have one notebook for several tasks. Have I confused my minimalism in order to absolve my stationery fetish?

The number of notebooks is a problem because I can’t keep them with me when I head out and travel. I find that I am also duplicating things in more than one notebook, this, for my minimalist intentions and general productivity, is a bad thing.

So one task for the next few months is to pare down the number of notebooks I use. I can already see that several can be combined. I will take it slowly though, this sort of thing can’t be rushed, and, of course, each current notebook will have to be filled and completed :) . As you can see I have a long way to go when it comes to minimalism zen in my journal collection.

I’ll try and share my journey and any recommendations, hints and tips I discover along the way. I have a feeling this could take a while though.

I suppose I should also have mentioned that I use several electronic journals too, perhaps that’s another post.

My bad language – Words and phrases I use too often

my daily pages

I have finally started, or restarted, writing my ‘daily pages’. This is an idea from Julie Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self. The concept is to write about 750 words, or three sides of A4. You don’t set out knowing what to write but let the words flow. I am adding it to my morning routine.

I used to use www.750words.com. I found it a wonderful aid to my creativity. Writing in a digital environment offers word count and word use tools that help you review what you’ve written. I want to try the low tech approach, part of a move away from so much digital reliance, don’t get me wrong I love all things digital and will still see if the ‘new thang’ can minimise things for me. However, I wanted an organic balance to my writing. I suppose it is one of the reasons I like journals so much. That and a love for Dr Henry Jones’ diary in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

It didn’t take long in the process for me to identify patterns in what I wrote. I didn’t need a digital algorithm to point out that I tended to use certain phrases. In itself this isn’t a problem until I realised that these phrases were affecting the way I go about things. There were three phrases that stood out!

‘I am not sure’

I over think things. I always have and it is something I have to actively work against. I will make sure that when deciding things I put extra emphasis on my ‘gut’ feeling.


This might be a hangover from my spirituality into my planning. Future hope, the idea of a heaven and a whole host of other events in the future, mean I use the word hope a lot. Not wrong in itself, but if over-used everything I want to do gets pushed into the future. Everything becomes an event that I ‘hope’ will get done.

‘I need to’

Is this the practical out working of hope? I see what needs to be done. I make a note of what needs to be done. I make an intention to do what needs to be done. And then… does it get done? I am much better at completing things than I used to be. Being freelance means you have to be, unless you can afford to out source. When I was part of a team, we could use the strengths each one of us brought to the table. Now it is all up to me.

If I keep using these words I ingrain them onto my mind and my very being. I become a creature that isn’t sure, that lives perpetually in hope that things will get better, and has a nice list of things that need to be done but never completes them – or even starts.

Do you have any words or phrases that you use so often they begin to define your very being? It might be time to change your language, your bad language.