I’ve written before about how much I love listening to podcasts during pretty much every waking moment. Walking to work? Podcasts. Freelancing? Podcasts. Out for a run? Podcasts. On a long drive? Yep, podcasts. Most of the time I listen to podcasts for entertainment, whether they’re fiction or true crime or, my favourite genre, folklore and paranormal. However, there are also plenty of great podcasts out there that can educate, inform, and best of all, help you with your creative work.
Obviously, podcasting is a creative medium in itself, but it’s also increasingly becoming a way for creative business owners to share their secrets, talk to other creatives, and discuss the process of creative work. Whether you’re a blogger, a wedding photographer, an artist, or just keen on learning about how you can enhance your creative process or maybe even turn it into a side-gig or a career, here are some of my favourite listens for getting the creative juices flowing.
Mindfulness is a lifelong practice, and for most of us, it requires conscious effort. We wake up in the mornings bleary-eyed and in need of caffeine rather than serene and at peace with ourselves and the world. It’s easy for us to go about our days telling ourselves that we don’t have time to meditate or do yoga, no spare minutes to practice gratitude in between commuting and working and hitting the gym and cooking dinner and taking care of kids and doing homework and buying groceries and doing every other one of those essential things that seem to eat up every moment of the day.
The truth is, we do have time, and we choose to fill that time with reading and Netflix and sports and bar-hopping and every other one of those non-essential things, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This isn’t a “social media is the devil” post, because that subject is beyond played out and anyway that’s not how I feel (perhaps a topic for another post). What this is, is proof that even with the few spare moments you have in your life, you can practice mindfulness. Even if you only have 10 minutes, here are 10 ways to bring more awareness into your everyday.
I mostly try to avoid calling a celebrity a hero of mine. Being someone whose work I enjoy does not a hero make, and especially in recent years I am wary of heaping too much praise on (particularly a male) celebrity when I don’t know what they could have been doing behind the scenes on set or in the recording studio. But I have no hesitation in saying that Anthony Bourdain, who was found dead today of apparent suicide, is one of my heroes.
My three favourite things are travel, food, and writing, and Bourdain was an inspiration to me in all three. I’ve read several of his books, seen all of his shows (most episodes of No Reservations more than once), and any time I am going somewhere new one of the first things I do is check if Bourdain had done a segment there and what he had to say about it. He travelled the way I want to travel, and he ate the way I want to eat—not because of the variety and amount that he got to experience, but because of the way he honoured each place he went and each meal he ate.
I have friends who eagerly check their horoscopes each and every week, consulting the pages of Cosmopolitan or clicking into Refinery29 to see what the stars have in store for them. I don’t dis-believe in astrology, but I don’t believe in it in that way.
To me, it makes perfect sense that the universe has an influence on us; look at the way the moon influences the tide or the sun influences the temperature, how could it not affect humans the way it affects the world? And it makes sense that the influence can be emotional as well as physical; anyone who experiences SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or simply gets gloomy on a rainy day or excited about a warm summer afternoon understands. And there’s no denying that things like the full moon and the infamous Mercury in retrograde have a huge impact on many of us. But I don’t personally believe that the location of Mars on a certain date lets you know that you should buy a lottery ticket or whatever; I think celestial influence is much broader and less personalised.
It’s also not something I tend to seek out too much information about, so occasionally I discover something new to me that relates to my interpretation of astrology’s impact, and that happened for me last week when I learned about Saturn returns.
You know how some people just rub you the wrong way, even if they’ve done nothing to warrant it? Maybe it’s the guy who works at the coffee shop you frequent every morning, the one who always says hello but looks as though he’s just smelled something bad. Maybe it’s your coworker whose friendly attempts at small talk grate before you’ve had a chance to drink the coffee you just bought from the dour barista. They haven’t done anything to offend you; there’s just something about them.
There’s a girl in my yoga class who, until recently, was like that for me. She’s never said a word to me, nor I to her, but I was just not a fan. Most of the reason is that she commits one of my biggest pet peeves–getting up and leaving during savasana (or sometimes she does other, more energetic poses in place of this all-important final resting pose)–but the fact that she always seems determined to try to stretch herself into the fullest extent of the pose, form be damned, didn’t help either. Take your cues from your body, not from Instagram, girl.
So I’m in class, in savasana, while she’s doing pigeon pose or whatever, and suddenly I realise: if she’s beng a “bad yogi” by ignoring the niyama of isvara pranidhana, surrender, then I’m being a bad yogi by letting her actions dictate my feelings in opposition to the niyama of santosha, contentment. Whatever she is doing is not half as detrimental to my own well-being as what my own thoughts and prejudices are doing to me.
About a year and a half ago I ran my first half-marathon. Then I all but stopped running. It’s not that I don’t enjoy running, because I obviously do or I wouldn’t have run a half to begin with, but first I was taking a break after all that training; then the weather was too hot; then too cold; then we were living in a van. Next thing I knew it was a year and a half later and I hadn’t run in ages. When I moved to Wellington I decided to sign up for the Round the Bays half, convinced Steve to do the same, and started running again. I learned a lot from the Vancouver Half-Marathon, my first-ever race, but I still picked up a few new insights this time around.
The first thing I learned is that in some ways, it is like that old adage about riding a bicycle. Obviously you’re not going to jump back into running after not training for ages and immediately be able to run that whole 13.1mi/21.1km, but running a race requires mental training as well as physical. Before training for my first half-marathon I had never run 13.1 miles before. The longest run I could find in my Runkeeper records was 10 miles, way back in 2012. Usually I topped out around 5 or 6.
Training for my second half-marathon was different because I knew I could finish it. I had a good suspicion that I could back in Vancouver, but for this one I already knew because I had done it before. Getting over that mental hurdle (running pun, ha ha) made it much easier to jump into training and push myself toward that 13.1 mile goal.
While the first thing I learned came at the very start of my training for Round the Bays, the second arrived at the very end, as I crossed the finish line. I ran my first half-marathon in 2:08:12. That time around, I didn’t have a goal time because I had no benchmark for how fast I was and I just wanted to finish. This race, my goal was to finish in two hours or less. And… I didn’t. According to the official race results, my final time was 2:00:42. Just 42 seconds longer than my goal: close, but not quite there.
I’m a perfectionist, and I hate not meeting my own expectations. There are a lot of excuses that can be made– a serious head wind for most of the course, a rumour that the track is just a bit longer than a half-marathon (and the GPS on my phone would seem to back that up)–but at the end of the day, I just didn’t quite get there. Usually I’m pretty hard on myself when I “fail” at something, so I expected to feel disappointed that I didn’t achieve my goal.
Instead I felt proud and excited. I cut seven-and-a-half minutes off my previous time, with half as much training as I did for the last race. I also felt energized–after my last half-marathon I felt like there was no way I could see myself running a full marathon in the future. Now? It seems like a definite possibility (with a good bit more training first, of course). I’m happy to celebrate my victories instead of dwelling on my “failure,” and now I have a goal to work toward in my next half.
My main goal is to not stop running for over a year like I did after the Vancouver half. I’m enjoying a week off from running this week to rest and recharge, but I’m looking forward to getting back to it next week and breaking that sub-2 hour barrier in my next race for sure! And maybe then I’ll be ready to turn 13.1 into 26.2! Or not, but I’ll be glad to succeed or fail at whatever comes next.