Money can’t buy joie de vivre, but it can buy a ticket to Paris!

“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.” – Albert Einstein

Paris diaries 01.

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Travelling slows down time, everything is new again. Your routine, your surroundings, your perspective, everything, changes. I don’t think it is always necessary to leave your city or country to have a refresh, a reset, but I do think it can help to get there quicker and with more effect. Which is why I went to Paris by myself for 10 days (with a hiatus for a few days when my friend joined me). 10 days felt more like a month (in a good way).

Maybe this feeling or need, to get away, to leave, to change, isn’t for everyone. Maybe you are ok with time slipping away so quickly before you, where weeks go by in a flash, and you are quite content with everything staying roughly the same. For me, it is like an internal itch, to get away, to see something new, be somewhere new, encounter new people. I’m sure this could be seen as perhaps unnecessary or extreme, however, if it spurs me to do things and make changes, I guess I’m ok with that.

 “When you’re travelling with someone else, you share each discovery, but when you are alone, you have to carry each experience with you like a secret, something you have to write on your heart, because there’s no other way to preserve it.” – Shauna Niequist

Over the years I have often embarked on adventures that probably seem strange or even foolish to others. (side note – somehow I have always been really lucky and can think of a number of times where I look back and think, thank goodness I had some weird luck following me or that could have turned out a whole lot worse!) Travelling alone for some people is probably a foreign concept, and at the same time for others, a beautiful and exciting one, with total freedom. I think I’m somewhere in between on that front. But what I do think I have is an internal compass of sorts, or maybe it’s more like an alarm clock, and after a while it compels me to book something, there and then. With not much of a plan, and frankly, very little thought, I go ahead and book something, I set my heights super high and usually have some grand vision of how wonderful it is all going to be…. And then the time comes around and it is the night before I am due to leave, and everything changes. Excitement and hope quickly changes to fear, anxiety, and general unease at the sheer unknown of what lies ahead of me. Then I will be thinking, ‘why, why, do I need to make myself do things like this?!’.

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to require the most from you.” – Caroline Myss

But, this is all part of it. Not that I have the insight to think that at the time, I’m too busy being scared or beating myself up. Only once I settle in, and meander along my bumpy path, with doubt and a whole lot of unknown, that I realise that it is an adventure. You can’t have the adventure and the glory without some of the fear and mishaps. Instead take the plunge, give into fear and surrender to whatever lies ahead. It is a (necessary) voyage out of your comfort zone and into a new arena, and often, a new time zone. By which I mean literally, but also metaphorically, abandoning your usual time restraints and restrictions. I personally find it easier to just drift and not be concerned with what time it is, or even what day it is. To no longer feel tied down by the day of the week, or hour of the day, to me, is a pure joy, which no doubt with practice can be brought in to our every day lives, but it is something I find very difficult to do. This is time to slow down, let go of time, and expand. Expand into new ideas, new perspectives and new levels of creativity. Getting out of your comfort zone in this way helps in many ways, sometimes it will help you see something from a new angle, or perhaps tackle a problem from a new angle, and it will definitely build your confidence. Once you look back and remember the fear, that you then changed and settled into, you can build on that and recognise the strength within yourself that you have created.

“How do the geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans, know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within, if only we would listen to it, that tells us so certainly when to go forth into the unknown.” – Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

Many of us in the western world, busy ourselves along day by day, week by week, hardly looking up to take a moment to notice anything. This is not a way to live. By taking an hour out, to go for a walk, or take a weekend off to drive to the countryside, or, if you are able, leave the country for a week or longer. And, if you are brave enough, do this alone. Only when you are alone can you see things as you alone would see them, let them seep in and let them conjure up new views, new ideas, and breathe in a new lease of life.

If you do this alone, it probably won’t be all roses, especially if you are not used to solo time. But now, more than ever, it is important to physically get away. If you are an amazing yogi, or meditator, maybe you don’t need to physically remove yourself. You probably have it sorted where you can just sit down, close your eyes, and bliss out to anywhere you want by not going anywhere at all. However, with the growing number of distractions we are near enough constantly faced with, this is not easy for most people – it is for sure something to practice though.

I know this idea of getting away, or of shutting yourself of from the world isn’t a new one, but it is a great one, especially if you are trying to pursue anything creative.

So I will end there, and encourage you all to take yourself away from it all, even if just for half an hour, whatever/ wherever is accessible to you. Allow yourself that time. I read/ listen to so many successful people say that their best ideas come when they are not trying, when they go for a run, or have a bath or generally slow down and take time out, time off.

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, and I hope it got you thinking, (and perhaps even doing!).

To follow in a blog post soon – a little more about my time in Paris.

Holly

http://www.hollysharpe.com

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Stand out from the crowd.

Coco

‘Coco’ 2016

Everyone discovers things in their lives at different ages and different stages. Hence, to compare one’s life with another is completely futile. The lessons you have to learn are complex and unique. The time and methods you take to learn them are also unique to you. So let go of thinking that things should be one way or another, of measuring experiences and achievements. Life is not linear, so we must stop treating it so. 

Something I wrote down sometime last year in my notebook of scribbles, ideas, thoughts and things I need to put down to get out of my head, and to help me when I look back at them. (So pretty much just a manual version of this blog in fact!)

On the one hand the words I wrote are stating the obvious and are so simple. Yet they keep coming up in my life and now seem quite profound. I’m pretty sure most people, if not everyone, at least in the Western world anyway, struggles and stumbles over this at different times in their life. It’s like there are these invisible pressures all throughout our lives. You have to do this, and then that, get a degree, get a car, get a mortgage, and meet the ‘right’ person and make a certain amount of money etc. And if you haven’t done all of this by a certain age then you have probably failed at life. At least that’s what society, or our inner subliminal pressures make us think. When in fact, there are examples of the very opposite all over the place. It is actually the people who intentionally ignore these pressures, or fight against them and listen to what their own being actually wants,  that are really succeeding at life. The people who question all this stuff and resist it, who fight to understand what makes them happy rather than trying to buy it or just doing what the person on instagram is doing because they look happy. Who cares if you rent where you live anyway. And, if you think about it, what an insane idea that you should find one person on this massive planet that is somehow supposed to fill up every area of your life, and keep doing so, your entire life. We keep chasing money, chasing things, and ending up back where we started, wondering why we aren’t happy and why we followed this stupid, tired, and well trodden path that has been dictated to us our entire life whether we are aware of it or not.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

It also comes down to the Paradox of choice. Watch this amazing TED talk which hits the nail on the head with this concept. This has become more and more the case every day in our current world, we are told that we can do anything we want, be anything we want, go anywhere we want, have anything we want (and put the whole country in a recession, but hey, you got the car you wanted), live anywhere, date anyone, wear anything… you get the idea. And at first glance this is freedom, so much freedom. But actually, it may just be the opposite. Because if you have even a shadow of doubt, about which dress to buy, or which person to marry, of which city you should live in or whether to quit you job and take off, well, that is debilitating, and can often lead to inaction instead of being proactive. Indecision is crippling. When you can do anything, it is often easier to do nothing, change nothing, or constantly question whether you made the right decision. And that can slowly lead you to insanity, depression and a constant anxiety over your own life. Yes I do think we can do anything, go anywhere etc, but wise words to remember are that ‘you can do anything, but you can’t do everything’.

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. “Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”

Instead, we need to take control and make decisions, but also be content with the decisions we make. And look back and realise that even if we have regrets, tell ourselves that we did something because at that point in our life it was exactly what we wanted, or what made sense to us at the time with the information we had. And that’s ok.

It takes courage to take time to step away from the mainstream and question what actually makes sense for you, but when you do you will be so free with the liberty of doing what the hell you want and where you want and why, that your whole life will change.

“He who is brave is free” – Seneca

It is so easy to be overwhelmed by choice in today’s world, there are too many distractions, too many options, with everything.

One minute I can be happy and feeling on track and then quickly get swept away on social media and suddenly I am questioning everything.

So do not compare yourself. Do not compare your one precious life and belittle your own achievements and virtues. Everyone is on their own path and we should be working harder to make our own path unique to us, and to celebrate that. To be true to our own person and personality and to not just follow the crowd and follow what someone else is doing or being.

Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are. – Kurt Cobain

Be yourself, don’t try to copy someone else, who they are, or what they do.

The world needs you to be you.

-Holly

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(Watch another brilliant TEDx talk here on ‘The art of being yourself’ )

If you liked this here are other posts with similar ideas why not to compare yourself and Go your own way.

Limited Edition prints of ‘Coco’ available HERE

Gratitude.

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“Very few people on the planet have the opportunity to even follow their dreams at all. Most people live in poverty, or in communities where the repercussions for behaving how they want are a lot worse than people just talking shit. If doing what you want is an option for you, you should do it, because you’re one of the few lucky people who can. And even if you fail, you will be in a better position than if you’d never tried. Every horrible thing that has ever happened to me has added integrity to my art and improved my understanding of the human race.”

The above was said by Grimes, apparently. I love these words so much, and I love them even more knowing that she said them. I also love her. Have been a big fan of hers for a while, and then I got to see her live earlier this year in Glasgow, and now I am slightly obsessed. She is so amazing. She exudes energy, creativity, and complete and utter individuality. But anyway, she is right. If there is even a small, tiny strand of hope, window of opportunity or thread of chance that you can do what you want to do, you have to grab it with both hands and chase it until you can do so no more. I think the majority of people that aren’t happy, are unhappy because either they don’t know what they truly want, or they aren’t trying to get it, and have decided that it is not possible before they have even tried, which is insane when you think about it, and also because they cannot see how lucky they are with everything that they already have.

I put the above photo on my Instagram earlier, and not that that can sum up how I was feeling today. But I was feeling insanely thankful, and a tad overwhelmed, which happens to me a lot actually. Through a few things I have done over the past year, and things people very close to me have done, I have not had to tread far to witness first hand how unfortunate some people are, how fragile their lives are, how much they got the opposite of a head start in life. It makes my heart bleed, and break, and want to envelope them in all the love in the world. I want to take all their pain away, and stop all the pain that I know is still to come for them. But I know I can’t. I can try, and there are some things I can try and do within my power to help them. But I can’t live their life for them. And if I didn’t feel grateful for so much in my life before, which I did, I now feel even more so. I feel so blessed, so lucky, so fortunate. Rather than feeling some sense of guilt or sadness that for some reason I have been more fortunate in some ways than them, I see it as a chance to be even more grateful, and instead to take advantage of my situation. And to me that means spreading my own positive energy as far and wide as I possibly can. Whether that be through my work, or by each and every time I come in to contact with any other person. Which is not always easy to do, I have my bad days as well. But rather than dwell on those, I try to cherish the good days, the good moments, and hold on to them as long as I can, and to let them radiate to anyone I can connect with.

And until I figure out how to take their pain away, that is all I can do. That, and encourage everyone else to be more compassionate, to think before you judge someone, because you literally do not know what burdens they carry, you do not know what they have been through, you can only try to imagine, but until you have walked a day in their shoes, be kind, be more accepting, and the world will do the same for you.

To come back to the point of ‘The best things in life aren’t things’. The best things I know I have been given are by people. I have been brought up with stability, with a family around me, and with that, so much support, and I know how rare and splendid a thing to have had that is. And through many ways, that has given me love, so much love, and I know that has made me capable of feeling and understanding love, as well as understanding how important it is for everyone to have. So if you are dwelling on the money you feel like you don’t have, or the materials things that you crave for so much, take a step back and look at the people in your life, the love that is hopefully there all around you, and that you can give back to others. Showing someone you care, giving them your time, is more valuable than anything you could every buy them.

– Holly

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BE. inspired.

Sky - Holly Sharpe
‘Sky’ (sold)

Spring is here, and along with that so much light, everywhere, and a strong sense of hope. That is how I feel anyway. I love this time of year, when it feels like anything is possible and each day is getting longer – in Scotland anyway… Hopefully these words are uplifting in some way…. I wrote them on my phone on the bus after meeting a friend who was full of energy and enthusiasm and it made me light up and want to share it.

Let yourself be inspired.
Seek inspiration.
It is everywhere.
Don’t see it? Think your life is boring and the same every day?
That is your mind and the way it has been conditioned to think that life is dull, boring, and unexciting.
Open your eyes. Open your heart, and let in the thing that is always there, it longs to break free and escape the mundane.
All you have to do is change your perspective and see things differently. It all comes from your mind.
Everything you look at will change, if you change your mind.
Walk on the other side of the road.
Drive a different way to work.
Smile at someone.
Start a conversation with someone you wouldn’t usually.
Smile.
Speak like you mean it.
Act like you mean it.
Do everything with more awareness.
If you are more aware you will start to notice even small glimpses of hope, and little opportunities that you don’t even realise you usually walk straight by because you decided that you are stuck and that you don’t deserve better.
If you do even small things and start to change your mind, your heart, and see things differently, I promise you your world will start to open up. Things and people will come your way, if you believe it is possible for things to change, they will.

This is all a practice. It is about breaking long term bad mental habits, like being negative and not seeing opportunities but rather always feeling stuck and like there is no option. And instead to practice building up good mental habits, like choosing to be happy, trying to think with clarity and remember that there is always a solution. Whatever situation you feel trapped in, there will be a solution. It might not be an easy one, but, if you don’t scale the mountain, you won’t see the view….

-Holly
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http://www.hollysharpe.com
Image from my Instagram

 

Drawing heals.

drawing maps- Holly Sharpe

Drawing heals

Through pursuing this thing inside of me, I hope to encourage others to realise they can do the same. Sometimes I wonder if it is selfish? To wrap myself up in my own world. To be able to draw / paint/ create for hours… Or have I simply made a choice, and by the way, in some ways have sacrificed a lot to enable me to follow that choice, to do what I want. I try to reflect from time to time on what my intention actually is, what do I want to say, or achieve through doing what I do?

Well, I like to think that firstly, when there is a wish so strong inside of you, a calling if you like, to do something so much… Perhaps if would be selfish, and maybe even foolish, to ignore this. Sometimes I think that it is my way of lighting up my world, of making sense of things, and by doing so, hopefully lighting up other peoples world, letting them feel something or encouraging them to feel something. Maybe even inspiring them. Inspiring them to bring to light what it is they feel, or what it is that makes them spark.

I also hope to encourage people to create. It really is a powerful therapy. With no desired outcome or objective, just play, dance, draw, paint, sing, create a lovely meal, write, sew, whatever it is, let the only reason for doing it be to let your heart and head wander, to feel free of any other aim or goal for that 30 minutes, or hour, or whatever time you can spare. And if you can look at what you have created afterwards and be proud or happy about it, that is simply a bonus. The process of creating it was a million times more important than the outcome.

I realise that this fairly brief post probably has more questions than answers, I suppose it is just me thinking out loud… The main thing I come back to and realise, is that whatever the answers are, and whatever the reasons are for me doing what I do, ultimately, I can’t imagine not doing it, I could never just stop it entirely, even if occasionally the thought does cross my mind, but I couldn’t, I would feel lost without it. I just hope that more people can wake up to the thing that makes them feel this way, something that you can’t turn your back on and that helps bring balance back into your life. I think everyone has that something, even if they just haven’t realised what it is yet.

Holly
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http://www.hollysharpe.com

twitter: @hollysharpe

 

Step outside of your comfort zone.

fall

 

Step outside of your comfort zone. Do it. Trust me. Don’t ever get too comfortable. We are creatures of habit, there is no doubt about that, and we love our comfort. We stay in relationships, jobs and cities that bring us no joy, yet they are safe, comfortable. But why? Is it not better to jump, to risk it all, or at least risk a little in the hope that it will pay off? And if it doesn’t, we will surely learn a lot from trying, and have a better idea of what we want and what direction makes sense for us…

There is never a right time, you will never feel ready, have enough money, be thin enough, etc, stop waiting for the right moment to act on whatever wish or desire it is that you crave, the right moment will never come, you could wait a life time for it. The right moment is now. Go with it, do it, the rest will fall into place, it may just take time. I know some may think I am foolish and perhaps naive to encourage, think, and for the most part try to live by, these ideas, but the reality is, if you are reading this right now, probably on a smart phone, you are already in the top 2% (or is it 1%…?) of the entire world. You live in absolute luxury. I am guessing here, but I will go with it, you have already eaten at least once today, you are wearing relatively new clothes and shoes, you will go home to a safe, warm, sheltered house and have a sound sleep in a comfortable bed. Then you will wake up again and have a shower in running, warm, clean water. This is to name a few, as I’m sure you can now reflect on all the other luxuries that you are surrounded by. My point is, you already have everything you NEED, (and more!) so what are you waiting for, or saving for…. life will keep on going, the world will keep on spinning, so if there is something you want to do, stop making excuses about money or time, and start acting. Yes in an ideal world you can save for a while if that is what you need to do, but whatever it is, make a plan, and make it happen, even if you only take some small steps now, it is better than doing nothing and just talking about what you will do if and when this and that happens and continuing to cruise along waiting for something amazing to come and slap you in the face without you even trying – that, in my opinion, is foolish, nothing is going to land on your door step unless you take action or make positive steps to make it happen.

If you do continue to wait for the right moment, even if it does come, it may then be too late, because you will be too comfortable and will never know how it feels to fall, to jump, to take a risk, to brave the unknown, nothing worth doing was ever easy or however the saying goes… Growth, real growth, can only really happen when you push yourself, come up against your edge, out of your comfort zone and into the depths of the unknown.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” –  Franklin D. Roosevelt

The people who ‘succeed’ do not necessarily have the most money or ideal circumstances, they just did, they made do with whatever they had. So, improvise, problem solve, use your head, be inventive, get creative, there is always a way around it, you may just have to think a bit harder about the solution.

Only when you truly embrace the lack of time, or money or whatever it is you are waiting to save you, can you really push yourself, take risks and make progress. It is about being brave, courageous and perhaps ever so slightly foolish.

Let yourself fall into the faith that things will work out, trust that thought, believe it, even if it is rocky for a while, that is all part of it and I truly believe things will inevitably come around again, maybe not in the exact shape that you envisioned, but that’s ok. On the other hand if you sit and wait for the right moment, you will gain nothing, apart from more fear of the unknown and more anxiety of all the things you don’t have or have never done.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish” – Steve Jobs

Thanks again for reading,

Holly

http://www.hollysharpe.com

Motivation 2015.

words - find a way

Procrastination is not your friend. I am fairly well acquainted with it and I know there are very few occasions, if any, when it could be seen to be a positive. I remember years ago reading a fairly generic article where various woman shared their best one – liners of advice and the main one, well, the only one I remember is so simple, but for me, so perfect – ‘Just do it, then it’s done’. It just made me think, if I could just apply this to so many things in my life, I would surely be more productive and most likely less distracted. Like with all those little things that niggle at the back of your mind – phone this person, email someone else, fix this, buy that, do this, do that, go here etc etc Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure we all have them… don’t we?! I go through phases where I get better at applying this to my life. If I need to fix something or email someone, I try to do it straight away. It is amazing, if a tad pathetic, the relief and satisfaction I seem to feel after dealing with these small, but irritating things, that simply just need to be done. So, I am writing this for myself, as a reminder, as much as I am for anyone else that perhaps needs a little push. If you want to be more focused, productive, and generally achieve more in your day, week, month… tick off those little, but necessary things on your list first, get them out the way and then you will hopefully be more focused with less distractions at the back of your mind to get on with what you really want to be doing. This could, I suppose in it’s own way be seen as procrastination as I have read people advise that the best way to be productive is to tackle the hardest/ biggest thing on your to do list first, otherwise you just circle around it all day and find other things you could be doing first. Perhaps this is the best tactic, I’m sure different ways work for different people. But the main advice in both is to start, take action… like, now!

Continuing on this thread, after receiving another email earlier from someone asking how I came about a certain commission, or client or how I did this or that, it made me come back to something which really gets me excited and motivated and realise that it is something I want to do more of this year – I want to motivate you, I want to inspire you and I want to help more people see that they are not fulfilling their potential and that they are so much more capable of so many things if they only put their mind to it. The more I give out this sort of advice, the more I question it… perhaps I’m wrong and not everyone is capable of what I think, maybe I should be more careful when I tell people to quit the job they hate, and have done for years, to take to the road and travel with no particular aim but just because they had a strong urge to. Maybe not everyone is strong enough to deal with the aftermath, the struggle to then help your reality take shape. Or maybe not enough people have even tried? And that is why more people don’t. If you are surrounded by people who just accept things as the way they are, and think they have no choice in the matter, then it is less likely that you will question that in your own life. Without trying to waffle too much, once I get into this I could go on for a whiiiile, here are my main two points, I think.

1. Question everything.

Ok, maybe not everything, but ‘question most things’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. All I mean is, if there is something in your life that you are not happy with, don’t just accept that there is no other option, feel sorry for yourself and continue with it. Question it.

It really is my belief that most people have an option, everything in their life was and is a choice. Once you accept this, it gives you control back, it’s exciting! What would you change if you could? Well guess what, you can! I know some will think I have my head in the clouds, but the reason I am close to 100% sure of it now, is because I did it, I changed things I wanted to, and I try hard to keep changing things that I am not happy with now.

2. Action is key.

Whatever it is you want to do, whether it be loose weight and get into shape, learn a new language or quit your job and do your creative thing full time/ freelance, you need to do more than think and talk about it. Obvious yes, but it is in our blood to talk the talk and so many people convince themselves that they mean it and will get around to going to the gym, or eating healthy, or looking for a new job, but it seems much rarer that people actually take action and do something about it. Which we have all done, and the reason is that it takes effort, and confidence and courage. But it feels amazing when you even take one small step towards it. My advice, is start with one small thing. What tiny step can you take towards your goal? Do it. Then figure out the next small step… you should congratulate yourself after each small step, because it is a lot more than thinking and talking about it. For example, if your goal is : to loose weight/ be healthier. Don’t be unrealistic, start with something achievable like, no snacks between meals. Or no snacks every day apart from Friday. Then maybe your next step could be to eat more veg every day. Then maybe your next small step – after you have kept up the previous two for a little while – could be to do 15 mins of exercise every day, or take the stairs instead of the lift (elevator) everyday, or do sit ups every other morning.

Ok less about vegetables, but I hope you get my point, if you can apply that method to whatever it is that you want to do, it does make it seem more achievable and therefore you are more likely to stick to it longer than a week.

This may be stating the obvious but actually I think sometimes when things are written down, or said out loud, they all of a sudden become so much clearer and therefore easier to put into action.

I don’t believe that January is the only time to make changes and resolutions, but it is as good a time as any, so I hope this has helped some of you feel a little more motivated with your goals or resolutions!

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
Holly
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