Yo No Bi – Finally Finding Zen in My Almost-Every-Day #Hobonichi

*Fair Warning: this is a long post. So get comfortable… 🙂 Feel free to skip to the end to read my personal thoughts. Please feel free to let me know – in the comments – how you “plan your day” if you do and what your favourite planner/planning system is. Thank you for reading.*

This year I have been focused on productivity and productivity habits/methods/systems/tools. One of the reasons I have been so focused on productivity is because I have been fighting a personal battle of being well enough to be productive. I have also had to learn to be kinder to myself. I am my own worst critic at the best of times but in the times when my own body is the enemy to my productivity, I am usually even worse at criticising myself. 

As I have shared on here, a few months ago, I am a Migraineur and I live with Chronic Migraine on a daily basis. The last year has been particular difficult and trying as my Chronic Migraines went from bad to severe, from 10 a month to about 20 – 25 a month now. I have had to accept that on the bad days I can’t get writing done and beating myself up mentally about this does not get me anywhere and just ends up creating more stress for me. And one thing Chronic Migraine does not like is Stress. But I am determined that this Migraine will not steal more of my life and creativity than it already does. So I have been researching and trialling many different productivity methods/tools in order to turn my chaotic into calm.

The concept of “Yo no Bi” (Japanese)
~ transl. Beauty Through Use ~

  

I recently shared a post about returning to the world of planning Filofax-style in my new Kikki K. I also shared the fantastic Day Designer undated template I found for planning out my day. But after a few months of using this system, I was feeling underwhelmed and under-motivated. (*I meant to use “under-motivated specifically instead of unmotivated. The motivation was there but the system underwhelmed me.*) 

There was nothing glaringly wrong with the system but I knew something was missing. There was too much “plan” and not enough “usability”. I ended up feeling more frustrated and restricted than calmer and more organised. My planner system was simply not the right plan for me personally.

As much as I love my digital tools, I knew that ultimately I love unplugging and using paper and pen. For the last year I have also been getting back into the world of fountain pens and beautiful paper. (A whole other rabbit hole to fall down into.) I made a pros and cons list about what I wanted vs what I needed in the “perfect planner”.  This was my list:

My “Perfect Planner” Wish List

  • Must be pen and paper.
  • Preferably fountain pen friendly.
  • Minimum A5 in size and fairly portable.
  • Enough sections to be able to fit in everything from deadline dates, a chronodex, appointments, tasks to do and a “clean and simple” space for writing – working through story ideas, character development, and a brain dump.
  • A system with enough structure to make my perfectionist-me happy and enough adaptability to make my creative-me happy.
  • A system contained within itself, something that can be taken with me on the go and be usable anywhere and everywhere whether at my desk, at a cafe, on a plane/bus/train or while travelling.
  • Simplicity not complication.
  • Beautiful function. Functional beauty.
  • Something both aesetically beautiful in design but fully functional and practical in usability.

Once I knew what I truly wanted and needed, I knew what to go looking for. As a stationery addict I could spend a lot of money on many products that would match all my needs and wants. But the key to me in this instance is that I don’t need more stationery for the sake of feeding my love for stationery. I needed a productivity system that would allow me to feel more organised. 

  

I have finally found the system that works for me. I have finally found the Zen in my “Almost-Every-Day”…
find out more…

(P)ersist (U)ntil (S)omething (H)appens #OneWord365 2015

2014 has ended…It was the year of hard lessons for me.

Every year I pick a word for the year. My personal life word this year is: metanoia.

But my working writing word for the year is: PUSH

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push
pʊʃ/
verb
verb: push; 3rd person present: pushes; past tense: pushed; past participle: pushed; gerund or present participle: pushing

Origin

Middle English (as a verb):
from Old French pousser,
from Latin pulsare ‘to push, beat, pulse’ (see pulse1).
The early sense was ‘exert force on’, giving rise later to ‘make a strenuous effort, endeavour’.

1.
exert force on (someone or something) in order to move them away from oneself.
“she pushed her glass towards him”
synonyms: shove, thrust, propel, impel; More
antonyms: pull
hold and exert force on (something) so as to cause it to move in front of one.
“a woman was pushing a pram”
move one’s body or a part of it into a specified position with effort.
“she pushed her hands into her pockets”
press (a part of a machine or other device).
“the lift boy pushed the button for the twentieth floor”
synonyms: press (down), push down, depress, exert pressure on, bear down on, hold down, squeeze; More
cause to reach a particular level or state.
“competition in the retail sector will push down prices”
2.
move forward by using force to pass people or cause them to move aside.
“she pushed her way through the crowded streets”
synonyms: force (one’s way), shove, thrust, squeeze, jostle, elbow, shoulder; More
(of an army) advance over territory.
“the guerrillas have pushed south to within 100 miles of the capital”
exert oneself to attain something or surpass others.
“I was pushing hard until about 10 laps from the finish”
informal
be nearly (a particular age or amount).
“she must be pushing forty, but she’s still a good looker”
3.
compel or urge (someone) to do something, especially to work hard.
“she believed he was pushing their daughter too hard”
synonyms: urge, press, pressure, put pressure on, pressurize, force, drive, impel, coerce, nag; More
demand persistently.
“the council continued to push for the better management of water resources”
synonyms: demand, insist on, clamour for, ask/call for, request, press for, campaign for, work for, lobby for, speak for, drum up support for, sponsor, urge, promote, advocate, recommend, champion, espouse
“the trade unions will be likely to push for wage increases”
informal
have very little of something, especially time.
“I’m a bit pushed for time at the moment”
informal
find it difficult to achieve something.
“he will be pushed to retain the title as his form this season has been below par”

Last year was a year that upended my efforts and really put a giant PAUSE sign in my way. From about midway thorough the year I was struggling in an unbeatable fight with sapping energy levels, lack of concentration, and chronic, mind-sapping insomnia. Initially I put this down to my migraines which had also ratcheted up to unacceptable levels. But eventually something told me this was something more than just effect of my migraines.
I felt burnt out and almost extinguished. I thought maybe I needed a holiday. I had not had a holiday for 3 years. It pushed me to take a 5 day writing retreat, at a secluded little beach cottage, for a week in November with one of my close writing friends.

Lesson #1 Don’t feel guilty about taking a break, having a time-out. Go away somewhere if you can. De-stress, actively relax and unplug.

I still felt listless when I got back from my retreat. But wait, there’s more

The Naked Writer…Exposing My Bell Jar #iiwk14 #invisibleillness

*Personal Post – Writer getting real – Longreads*

Battleground
© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

The soldiers are unseen
Camouflaged in skin
Their weapons are lethal
They are elements of torture
They have captured me
Stretched out on a rack
Every muscle screams in protest
Every muscle held in a vice-like grip of agony
My jaw is locked shut
My eyes are blinded as the blades enter
My mouth is slack with pain
My fists tied down, tightly clenched
The torture has only just begun
My body fights to find an inner strength
The needles pierce the back of my neck
I am held in place, too weak to struggle
I try to call out for mercy
I am ready to confess anything
The needles enter my skull
There are hundreds of them
The prison is too bright for me to see
Shadowy figures surround my body
Slowly I feel the needles draining my veins
I try to release the bindings on my limbs
They use my body as a pincushion
I have no more strength to fight
I can feel the weakness take over
My mind tries to fight, to shout
I open my eyes
I stare into blinding white light
The needles in my skull blind me
Bile rises up from my empty insides
I search for the unseen enemy
These faceless soldiers dealing in torment
I open my eyes and see a figure before me
It looks familiar, a faint echo of disbelief
The reflection is myself
My very flesh the rack of agony
I lose hope, I lose the battle against my skin and bone
My body is my battleground, my flesh the enemy torturing me

This is my invisible reality. This is the Bell Jar that hangs suspended over my life. My Bell Jar is: Chronic Migraine. A genetic neurological disorder.

This is not something I speak about often. Partially because it is a fairly invisible illness. Partially because so many people don’t understand what the difference is between headache, migraine and then chronic migraine is. Partially because I do not like admitting vulnerability. Partially because of the inherent shame and guilt I have in having an invisible illness.IMG_3971-0.JPG

But no more shame and no more guilt. No more “invisible” illness. Living life is about embracing all of life, the good and the bad, the strengths and the vulnerabilities. This monster that turns my body into a torture chamber has been my constant companion for the last 18 years and counting. For the last 6 years this companion has become a jealous and possessive monster determined to isolate me from those who truly love me. This monster does not live under my bed or in the cupboard like the Bogey Man. This monster has taken permanent and unwelcome residence in my exploding head.

Migraine is so much more than a bad headache.

Continue reading “The Naked Writer…Exposing My Bell Jar #iiwk14 #invisibleillness”

Skin | Blood & Ink

Imagine being one small part, a word, of a story…Now imagine your skin being part of a global story.

This is what SKIN is.

…while thinking about how much I liked forms that reflected their content, I thought of my unfinished story “Skin,” and suddenly it suddenly occurred to me that there is a kind of “publishing” we already do on skin: tattooing. The idea of publishing a story on volunteers, one word at a time, was only a few mental leaps away. The whole concept of the Skin project leapt into my mind in that moment. I put out a call for participants in summer of 2003…
– Shelley Jackson

2003 – Shelley Jackson came up with this idea to craft a new medium for story. She would write the 2095 word story and then request volunteers to have one word of the story tattooed on their bodies.

…The existence of the author is a necessary flaw in this (every?) story. But this project makes me keenly aware that I am not the only, or even always the dominant voice in it. I recently took great pleasure in watching three “words” coach a fourth, nascent word through her first tattoo: “Have you eaten anything? Here, have this apple. Do you want us to hold your hand?” My presence was a comfortable irrelevancy to them at that moment. Furthermore, my story is being rewritten, one word at a time, by my participants. As my words enter the specific contexts of their lives, they change forever. In the end, 2095 other people will have signed their names to my story…
– Shelley Jackson

Each person would be given a word by Shelley and would then need to tattoo this word on their body. Once accepted as a WORD each volunteer would then receive the complete story. The provision being that they would keep this story forever confidential.

…I was quite serious when I called this a Mortal Work of Art. As words die, the story gradually changes; it’s possible that the first word will die before the last one has been published, meaning that no complete version will ever appear. But I consider each version of the story legitimate; each successively shorter version of the story that will be created by these deaths is the story too, right down to the one-word story that will be its final printed form. If all my words hold to their promise not to share the story, that will truly be the end. The work includes its own disappearance in its aesthetic project, so it is not complete until it is gone. However, like all living things, each “word” has a complex destiny of his or her own, affecting many other lives, and I consider that part of my project too. When I die, the destiny of the project will fall into the hands of the remaining words, who might decide, who knows, to do something different with it than I intended! Some people have asked if they could will their words to their children, creating a second-generation story…
– Shelley Jackson

I love the idea of this project on so many levels. I love the exclusivity of the story only being made available to 2095 people. I love the secrecy and the intimacy of tattooing a story one word at a time on different people around the world. I love the idea of being a WORD in a story in both a figurative and a literal sense.

Tattooing is an ancient art form. I have always been fascinated by the whole process of tattooing.

Who gets a tattoo?
Why they get a tattoo?
Where they choose to be tattooed?

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“There is something wonderfully melancholic about a piece of writing that’s living flesh and finally dies and is grieved over.”
– Shelley Jackson

Tattooing is one of the most intimate experiences.
I have long been fascinated with tattoos and I have been designing my “dream” tattoos for years now. I have not yet found the perfect tattoo that I would want inked on me permanently yet so the search continues. But a tattoo is so much more than a symbol or a fashion accessory, in many cultures it is an integral part of the culture’s history and spiritual practices. Tattooing is a bizarrely intimate ritual: a ritual where a person literally carves a symbol, words or an image into your skin with permanent ink.

…the body interests me most as something to write about, not to touch (not in a professional capacity, anyway). I am fascinated above all with using it as a object of fantastical transformations, because we care about the body and we know it intimately, and I think that makes it possible to invest bizarre scenarios with very strong, creepy, personal feelings…
– Shelley Jackson

As a writer alone this bizarre ritual where blood and ink are fused together into a permanent “stain” sparks my imagination.

This long-held personal fascination with tattoos and the desire to seek out their history in different cultures sparked the idea behind The Tattooist my current WIP.

Would you get/Do you gave a tattoo?
Do you prefer Literary (words/quotes/mantras) tattoos or image tattoos?
Would you be a WORD for Shelley Jackson’s SKIN project?

Skin: A Mortal Work of Art

All Quotes courtesy of
Written on The Body: Interview with Shelley Jackson

Related Posts

Why this new brand of Fiction is a Life Sentence

My Life as a Word: How I became part of The “Skin” Short Story Project

Shelley Jackson Writes on Snow for a New Story

Images courtesy of Shelley Jackson’s Ineradicable Stain