Why, As A Writer, I’m Taking A Break From Books

I’m taking a break from books. (Or so I’m going to try.)

On average I read 4-5 books a month. That’s a lot of words to compare to my own, and I’ve decided that I ought to stop complaining I don’t write enough when I spend so much of my time reading.

I used to bring books to accompany time and space, my bag overflowing with one too many books. But now I’m starting to see that books are different to my own creativity. They are there, they are permanently in print, they create noise in my head. They are the expectation – I have to be as good as these to be published; to be read. I have fallen so far into admiring others I have started to doubt my own use of words. I’ve always known I can write as they do, its only lately I’ve started to realise I just haven’t been giving it enough time. I must live and breathe my own creations. Picasso didn’t look at paintings trying to figure out how they did it, he picked up a paintbrush and made strokes that felt right. I want to write because of the infinite possibilities a keyboard presents when I open my MacBook. After all, for every word I read, I could be conjuring one for myself.

As I’ve grown in London, I’ve observed that London is a city of expectation. Expectation through external stimuli, through noise, even something as small as facial expressions. As a young, aspiring writer this has proven to be hard…. I’m sure as any young person, trying to make it in this city, it’s hard.

Through time, I’ve discovered my laptop provides a silence that nothing else can. I can sit in the most noisy of cafes and hear nothing. When I am sitting in front of a screen I can achieve anything, write anything. Literal infinite possibilities the alphabet provides. With my laptop in hand, I can go anywhere in London; Anywhere, and it will always lack expectation.

I love books so much, but I love my completed projects more; my stack of poems, my nearly finished novel, my website and articles full of poetic monologue.

So here I start, indefinite days without reading any word of another. My to-read pile will just have to wait.

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Stick To The Status Quo? | The Self Series

Welcome to Episode 5 in The Self Series. This is the series where I give some thought to common said quotes in today’s society. This time it’s all about the status quo.

What is the status quo?

Status quo is a Latin word literally meaning ‘the state in which’. In today’s society, the label status quo is typically used to generalise what is deemed ‘normal’ in society.

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I have a discussion for us today based around my personal take on the saying “Stick to the status quo” – and before you ask, yes, I was a huge High School Musical fan as a kid.

So, what is my take? I see the status quo as more of a comfort zone; sticking to the status quo being the attitude of playing it safe rather than only societal norms. If we talk about the status quo in this way, this would be our own choice – right? We individually decide whether or not to stay comfortable.  If you ask me, life is all about taking risks and encouraging ourselves to get out there and make the most of things. Life is also about encouraging everybody around us to do the same.

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Quite often when it comes to something new, our bodies inject our minds with a little thing called fear. We can’t blame our bodies for this feeling, because ultimately it’s a survival instinct, but sometimes we mistake worry for fear; we escalate the anxiousness of failure to a level of fear that makes things seem impossible. Well, I’m here to tell you to feel the fear and do it anyway. This seems to be an overall theme in my blogs, but hear me out once again. If I asked you to join me on a skydiving quest tomorrow, what would you say? I know your body would probably start to feel a little more tense, and some part of your insides would do a little dive to the pit of your stomach, but after putting that aside what would YOU say??

I’d hope you’d say yes. After all, experiences such as this aren’t an everyday thing. I’m sure your first instinct would be to say no. Our bodies weren’t designed to fall from the sky, 15,000km above the earths tectonic plates, at speeds unknown to the raw human body – but hey? What’s the worst that could happen? I mean, ideally it’s probably not best to ponder this thought right before you jump – but seriously, you’d never do anything if you didn’t live with risk.

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” – Susan Jeffers

I have in fact jumped from a plane. When I was about 16, one of my brothers and I joked about skydiving on a family holiday. Emphasis on the word joke. The next morning, as we were in our holiday cabin comfortable in our bunk beds, my parents came in with an aura of adrenaline and asked us, “How about it? Want to skydive today?”. I can tell you now, I still remember that feeling of absolute terror and how quickly my stomach clenched. It had only been a thought, something to laugh about, yet now it was so close to becoming reality. Eventually after our parents encouragement, me and my older brother committed to jump from a plane.

It was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. It was also one of the most terrifying and fear-filled adventures I’ve taken part in.

When I find myself filled with fear; from accepting a new job role, to travelling abroad solo, I tell myself what’s the worst that can happen? I tell myself to feel the fear, and do it anyway because you only live once. More often than not, after we take these risks, we feel a sense of relief and accomplishment.

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We’ve discussed taking risks, and now I want to bring us directly back to the status quo and the idea of self-expression. I was doing some research for this article, and I came across this quote from none other than Dr Seuss:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

As a child, I loved the books of Dr Seuss because they were so different to anything else I read. I loved the unique illustrations, the crazy storylines and the characters being so different to anything I knew in real life.

This quote from Dr Seuss is the definition of a perfect life. We can’t conform to the ideals of society; we can’t live our lives in response to someone else’s standards. If someone dislikes us for who we uniquely are, do they really matter? Should we really let their idea of a ‘right’ life distinguish how we live ours? NO! And if someone lives a true, self-actualized and self-empowered life, they’re not going to mind how we live ours. Be unique, and only live for yourself.

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When someone says things such as stick to the status quo to me, I can’t help but think it over. Remember: that feeling – after conquering a fear or something with an uncertain outcome – is what we should all live for. Be who you are, be true to your thoughts and your feelings.

Don’t believe the status quo to be anything other than encouragement to be different and adventurous.

Travel Log: Copenhagen

Monday 6:50

With an early start this morning, I ventured out into the crisp morning air. The only sound coming from birds – a fresh perspective on a city life.  Today I am off to Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s a city I’ve never been to, yet experienced vicariously through those having borrowed my guide book. I’m currently sat in a café in Gatwick Airport waiting for my avocado on toast; one of very few vegan options I could find. I’m surprisingly awake for having woken up at 4am, perhaps it’s the excitement of spending the rest of my day in a new city.  Or perhaps it’s the 4-shot Soya cappuccino I just finished. This trip is very unplanned for me; I got my Danish krone at the airport, I have no idea how I’m getting from Copenhagen airport to the hostel, nor what my plan is for the return home tomorrow. I suppose time will tell.

10:18

I must be more than halfway to Copenhagen by now. The sky is the clearest of blue, allowing the sun to glisten perhaps too brightly off the plane’s wing through my window. I somehow always get a window seat, and I couldn’t complain less. It’s an interesting thing to be so close to nothing; so far away from everything you’re used to being near. Buildings insignificant and the rushing lives of those in the streets of London invisible. I feel calm, and I feel un-rushed in my impatient descend on Copenhagen. I’d like to think, as I look out at the world below me, if my plane were to fall that it would be caught in the soft grips of the clouds blanketing the earth.  The clouds – they bring us rain, food for the soil under our feet – they also separate London from the world beyond. We stop looking up after a while because we are so used to seeing the grey barrier above our heads; we get so accustom to looking down at our feet, knowing our direction, our daily path. It’s nice to be above the clouds, to feel as if there is nothing stopping me from seeing new things. I am amongst the unreachable. With the unexpected wifi on board, I feel confident in my plan once I land. I know I will take the metro, a 3-zone ticket bought with either coins or credit card, and I will get off at Hovedbanegården otherwise known as Copenhagen Central Station. From there I will walk to my hostel, check in, and carry on with aimless wandering. According to the flight tracker, we are 24 minutes from Copenhagen. The descend has begun, I am now gently leaning forward with the plane; gravity pulling me towards yet another destination to tick off the map.

17:49

My feet are ready to fall off. I got to Copenhagen Central Station just after midday and spent 20 minutes lapping the perimeter trying to find my hostel; suddenly earning a major appreciation for my Citymapper app in London. I found my hostel and then went back out in search of anything that defines Copenhagen as a city. I still feel near anxious being here. Not because of it’s size or population mass, just the fact of I know nothing about it. I always prepare my holidays, map out places I want to see, where I want to eat, I teach myself the language basics; this time I came in blind. After wandering in the heat and eventually discovering what seemed to be a busy part, I opted for a canal tour. A smooth sail into tourist mode. This was beautiful and somewhat informative. More than anything it gave me my bearings and sites to aim for by foot. The hour tour finished where it began, and so did my ventures. Saw beautiful buildings, did some window shopping, but more so just absorbing everything foreign. I followed it up with more wandering until now – Urban Bar, coffee in hand. As much as I am tired, I am also eager to see more and make the most of this 48-hour trip. I am headed to Tivoli Gardens this evening.

Tuesday 12:36

I am currently located in what seems to be the Danish version of Subway – iBagel. It’s pretty good, eggplant salad topped off with a beautiful dollop of humous (of course). I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to tackle another day of touristing. My first stop had to be food, and eventually I found my desired breakfast destination: 42Raw – a café that has surrendered it’s services to the plant-based community. An acai bowl and my new addiction, The Passage by Justin Cronin, made for a beautiful start to the day. Peaking above the city, reaching for the heavens, are spires scattered around the city. All distinctly different, I’ve been finding them an easier alternative to the maps within my guidebook. As 10:30 came around, I aimed high and true, and climbed 95m up Vol Frelsers Kirke. A beautiful old church which presented me with a stunning view of the city. Since my descend back down to earth, I have wandered; seen the Nationalmuseet, Christiansborg Slot, and Det Kongelige Bibliotek. It’s warm, I’m sun kissed veering burnt, but I feel calm and happy. My flight home to London is at 18:55, and according to the Central Station clock on the opposite of the square it’s now 12:57. I have plenty of time to continue this relaxing getaway.

Ignite

I still find myself trying to figure out how a passion is ignited, how a mood is lightened, how a day is made, by such simple things. If you live in London, you would have realised that the last few days have been beyond beautiful – blue skies, windless parks, and sun that is above 15ºC and has actual heat to it.

It was Friday last week, and I was having a pretty good day. I blame this living in London thing, any hint of sun and my day becomes that much brighter (no joke intended). So, on this fine, Spring day I was walking through the park and I saw a man on a longboard and I wanted to instantly hurl in envy. The sunglasses, the cool hat, the effortless glide of wheels on pavement; I wanted that back. In NZ, my Dad makes longboards. In total he’s made a miniature cruiser, and three longboards varying in shape. Living on the beach, in a beautiful town built on coastal hills, a longboard was the coolest way to get around. Picture this: You’ve finished work and you’ve changed into your favourite loose shirt. You grab your headphones and your board, and with an upbeat song blasting in your headphones, you’re carving through the beach roads, with the setting sun glistening on perfectly blue waves with an island in the distance? … Picture perfect right? It makes me sort of homesick in a way because that part of coastal life is something to miss. This scene is also possibly one of the things I look forward to recreating most when I go home for a visit next year. It was that image, that perfect image, flashing through my mind in the park that made my blood curdle green. I almost bought one last summer, and seeing this skater made me realise I couldn’t go another summer without it. So with the word impatient in mind, I had a board purchased and paid for from my phone screen through squinting eyes within 10 minutes .

My board arrived three days later and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was tracking it on the map as it circled in on my street. I tore open the box, and I couldn’t stop smiling. It wasn’t my Dad’s but it was damn near as special: a pinstripe, bamboo, 41″ pintail cruiser. I was stoked, I still am. The first chance of freedom, I was out there sailing the streets of London; the sun and Thames filling me with almost as much glee as boarding the coast in New Zealand did. I think even the simple thing of being on a board with a favourite song playing in my ears, is enough to ignite a genuine happiness within me. It’s just me, nobody else, I am in 100% control and totally free.

Ultimately I don’t know what the point of this blog is, but I wanted to share this simple thing that has made my last week so beautiful. As the days get longer, and as the sun shines brighter, I can’t wait to spend my second summer in London with friends and things that make me happy.

Happy.

Right now, in this moment, I am sitting at my desk.

My desk is conveniently placed next to a window, and as I look out at the Autumnal trees, the blue skies ahead, I’m listening to Waking Up – Explosions In The Sky. I can see shadows, birds flying, and leaves, all glistening in a way that reflects the changing patterns in the music. The music fills my lungs, empties my mind and I’m calm and collected. I’m inspired and aspiring for the future, but I’m spending my time being present.

That’s the beautiful truth of happiness. Living in the moment can change your energy levels, and your focus. I am no expert at living in the moment, but I’m trying to improve this skill of true happiness every day, so should you; don’t spend your limited time worrying. Where you’ll be in 2 years doesn’t matter right now, what matters is who you surround yourself with and making sure that what you do fill your days with, are things you’re passionate about. You are the power to your desires.

“If you don’t like who you are and where you are, don’t worry about it because you’re not stuck either with who you are or where you are. You can grow. You can change. You can be more than you are.” – Zig Ziglar

My name is Paige Bolland, and I’m 19 years old. After leaving home at the age of 18, and moving across the world, I now live in the city of London, in the United Kingdom (amongst 8.63 million other people). I was born in New Zealand, raised in a small coastal town surrounded by the same 3,200 folk for 18 years. The sounds of waves crashing, the unique harmonies of New Zealand and coastal birds, my attempts at deciphering my family’s footsteps throughout the house, and the familiar scenery, are all things that are a by-product of my true home; a small hint of these are enough to involuntary envelop myself in contentment. So how do I be happy when I’m 18,773 km away from all of these things?

I live in the moment. I do what makes me happy.

There are days I worry about how many years it will be until I can see my Dads smile, banter with my brothers, and hug my Mum and inhale her perfume. There are days I question my values and my beliefs. There are nights I fear of not doing the right thing, or working towards the wrong goal. In these moments, I’m slowly becoming stronger to bring myself back. That day of reuniting with my family and home will come when it comes; my life will unroll day by day; I truly believe everything happens for a reason and will work out. I should never question my beliefs because they’re mine and they belong to nobody else.  If you are passionate right now, and are experiencing everything you want to experience, that motivation and devotion will be a magnet for good things. I talk to my family everyday, I surround myself with people who make me laugh, and I spend my days aspiring to improve myself in the present day. It’s the days that I truly appreciate the present, that are the happiest. Music makes me happy. Writing makes me happy.

Right now, in this moment, I am happy.

Survival Instincts

From a young age you always hear the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and more often than not people will say this to you as a piece of ‘much required’ wisdom.  As much as I accept this phrase about not holding prejudice based on someone’s outward appearance, I do slightly disagree.

Judgment is an inherent quality that our brain feeds with experience. We have established this instinct for survival; the judgments we make are what permit, or prohibit, things to get close to the core of our lives. Moving to a new country, I found myself surrounded with the unknown in things as simple as a phone shop. I spent the first month making choices purely based off harsh judgment and gut feeling.  There were the initial times of pharmaceutical and grocery shopping, I would walk an extra block to shop at a chain-store over a cheapened corner shop. When I was flat hunting, as simply as talking to a person over the phone, I would judge the landlord on the language they used, and immediately accept or decline the idea. For all I know these are the simple judgements that have extended my life, or have caused me to miss out on opportunities.

So what happens when you take a leap of faith and do leave things up to chance? Once I was settled within a house, had a group of friends, and had all standard life requirements organised, I went through a phase of doing spontaneous adventures; going outside of my comfort zone with relation to cafes, experiences and stores. I think the key point here is that because I was successfully living, not only attempting to adapt and survive to this new environment, I didn’t need that safety net of judging everything as heavily as I once had. I remember phone calls home, discussing this exact topic with my parents.  There comes a point where after the judging and hard work has been done, you do need to loosen the reigns of planning, and live life day by day, decision by decision. Sometimes there are positive consequences to veering away from that planned path of judging things critically. This way of living, or leaving life to serendipity, is what makes for a more rounded life. You come across things you may have never knew existed, you may meet people who are destined to be in your life, or find a new passion.

Judgement is something that is I believe to be socially acceptable when you feel that your life or well-being is at risk. I think that we need to make decisions for ourselves based off our intuitions and personal judgements; ultimately we have to live with our own decisions and choices, so we need to be satisfied with them. Nevertheless, don’t forget to give things a chance; we need judgement to survive, but we need spontaneity to live.

March

I have been pretty lacking in the ideas department for this weeks blog.

I have decided to just post a quick overview of the first half of March in photos.

See more at https://instagram.com/paigebolland/

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