Sunday, 24 October 2021

Personal blog: #StoicWeek2021 - Saturday and Sunday

Sunday evening, 20h13, last day of Stoic Week 2021.

I said in my Friday post that I would post yesterday, but I did not. Unlike the previous time I did not post, this time it was a decision not to do so. My Stoic practice was not neglected, but I was working on the project I mentioned before. I decided to rather give it as a birthday gift instead of waiting until Christmas, and needed to work to get it done urgently - her birthday is this coming week. The basic construction of the book is completed - I finished it about two hours ago - but there is still some work to be done before it is ready as a gift.

It also means that I spent most of today working on it. Aside from the time I had to draw today's Inktober prompt (you can see it here) and preparing for the prompt for tomorrow, and a few chores, most of my day was spent on the book. Still no new bone folder, but I managed. It can be frustrating to wait for glue to dry (boring, right?) especially since the deadline moved from weeks to days. Unfortunately, I cannot use a hairdryer like I can for a watercolour painting. Patience is the only option. LOL!

Source: Stoic Week 2021

I have read that some people believe that Stoicism cannot be practiced by creatives because it dampens the creative spirit (it is after all a rational philosophy) but from personal experience I found it to be the opposite. Even though I am not a professional artist or writer (meaning that I don't earn my primary income from the sale of my art or books), Stoicism has also helped me in my creative endeavours.

Here is how it works for me:

1. Self-control: Procrastination is the universal enemy for many creatives, myself included. I have not won this battle (yet), but I find that the discipline of "getting out of bed, and doing my duty" (a creative reference to Marcus Aurelius's Meditations 5.1) is the essence to getting things done. Inspiration is a thing, but the muse works when you do - by showing up and doing the work. (You can learn more about getting things done in this YouTube video. I can definitely recommend the book discussed in the video.)

Practice makes better. I have been writing since 2000, and doing art since 2012 (Stoicism since 2018) and only by showing up and doing the work can you improve.

2. Wisdom: I found it interesting that the VIA Institute questionnaire results indicated that Wisdom is my number one character strength. I wish I could say it came with age, but I know it is not the case: age has very little to do with wisdom. I am far from being wise, but I have learned over the years that learning something from a book, or video, or other means, can only benefit oneself with actual practice. Learn, practice, and adjust where necessary. The same applies for Stoicism and any creative skill: learn a technique, practice it, adjust where you didn't get it right, or go back and study it again. Only with this iterative process can one improve - whether it is learning to draw, write a novel, or become better at being a Stoic.

It is for this reason that the words from Epictetus resonate with me from the moment I read it the first time, to right now when I can see on the wall of my office: First say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do. 

Whether I am doing my daily job (business owner, and consulting engineer), studying and practicing Stoicism, being an artist, art teacher, or writer - I have to show up and do the work.

If Stoicism is something that resonates with you, then be patient with yourself. Becoming a better human being is a lifelong endeavour.

A last note from me before I conclude my comments on Stoic Week 2021: I am a Christian (Calvinist) and I practice Stoicism within that belief system.

All the best with your Stoicism study and practice - until next time!

🙋‍♀️💜 Linzé

Friday, 22 October 2021

Personal blog: #StoicWeek2021 - Thursday and Friday

Hello there!

It's Friday! 😂 22 October, 20h45 as I start this post.

Yesterday, Thursday, completely got away from me. I am sure you know exactly what I mean. I only popped out to a shop, to try and buy a bone folder (more on that next), but remained at home for the rest of the day, mostly because I didn't have work to do. It might sound weird because I did mention a nightmarish job list, but it did happen. My work as a safety certification engineer requires that I do tests that can sometimes cause damage to equipment. Since the client indicated that they would repair or replace the equipment for me to continue testing, I had to wait until they did. So I went to the lab today and finished the tests (probably damaging it again) but now it's done and I have the report to finish.

Source: Stoic Week

I mentioned my difficulties in obtaining a bone folder to a colleague, when he looked at me as if I grew a horn from my forehead. LOL! After explaining that it is a tool mostly used in book binding, I told him about the lack of available stock at almost every art/craft shop in my city. I have a bone folder but it is damaged and I have to be careful otherwise it tears the paper I am currently working with. Yup, I am making two books and I worked on them most of the day. I will try another shop next week, but it is a long shot. Online shops have not been helpful either, so the struggle continues.

My husband mentioned a late meeting for Thursday, so our normal dinner time got delayed by almost two hours. At first I didn't mind so much (okay, I did mind a little) until I remembered that I had an art class to present and the late dinner was going to seriously mess with that. I asked my friends if we could cancel, and they graciously agreed. But the late dinner made everything late - specifically the chores required after dinner, and that also included Thursday's blog post that you are reading right now.

Friday: I mentioned self compassion on Twitter an hour or so ago. Since yesterday did not work out as planned, I decided to let it go and to add a few comments here just to catch you up.

Today started perfectly. It rained a little bit. I love the rain, and always feels grateful for the blessing of life falling down to earth. It makes my car dirty, but I don't worry about that. Although those muddy spots might look good on a SUV, it does nothing for my sporty sedan 😜

When I arrived at the lab though, the gratitude attitude evaporated with the noise of jackhammers and a workman-crowded space. Since lockdown began, I have become a bit socially anxious when there are lots of people crowding my space. The lab is a small company and I only share workspace with one person, but all these workmen today made me hide away in the lab for most of the time. My colleague also mentioned that the noise was exceptionally distressing. Both of us are introverts, so the invasion of sound and bodies was not easy.

Getting to the bathroom was a mission and a half: I know I am no skinny runway model, but walking on slippery broken tiles (and breaking more with each step), wearing hearing protection I have to mention, was definitely a first for me. 😆

Oh, the reason for the noise and workmen: they are busy re-tiling the whole building. Apparently they will finish tomorrow, so I am praying that our workspace will be its normal peaceful self on Monday.

Source: Stoic Week
How did being a Stoicism practitioner help me today (and yesterday)?

I mentioned self compassion (a timeous article linked here if you want learn more) and it reminded me of our theme this Stoic Week - wellness. In all the situations I found myself in during the past two days, I reminded myself about the value of staying calm and letting go of things that I have no control over.

Of course, I could have avoided the noise and the crowd of workmen by simply getting into my car and going home, but then I would have not finished the job I committed myself to do this week. Because of the required repairs my planning did slip two days, but finishing a job is important because I said I would finish it this week - and doing the work is within my control.

Once I came home today, I worked on the books again, instead of working on the report. I also did my Inktober drawing for today's prompt. It was my way of taking a few hours to relax and clear my mind of the day's stress. I will do the report over the weekend, but for now my mind is calm and I can plan my weekend activities with clarity.

Today we look at our world from above, and with that mindset I think I can say that it would be good to put today and yesterday behind me to look toward tomorrow with a fresh outlook on everything I need and want to do.

Have a wonderful weekend, and I will chat to you again tomorrow.

🙋‍♀️💜 Linzé

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Personal blog: #StoicWeek2021 - Wednesday

Hello there! I thought to share this morning's study quote with you because it spoke to me.

Whatever happens to you, remember to look inside yourself and see what capacity you have to enable you to deal with it. If you catch sight of a beautiful boy or girl, you’ll find that you have self-control to deal with that; if hard work lies in store for you, you’ll find endurance, if you are insulted you’ll find patience. If you get in the habit of responding this way, you won’t get swept away by your impressions of things.

Epictetus, Handbook 10

Wednesday, 20 October, 18h59

Spend most of my day doing tests at the lab then had to tell the client that I broke the equipment and need some more samples to finish the tests. Yeah, he was not exactly impressed 🤦🏼‍♀️ LOL! Unfortunately, damage to the test samples as a result of the tests is just par for the course.

Source: StoicWeek

For today we are reminding ourselves of the four Stoic virtues: wisdom, justice, courage, and self-control. Part of our early morning "homework" included a link to a website where you can do a survey to tell you what your Stoic strengths are. Intrigued I did the questionnaire and it told me my number one strength was wisdom. Hmm, not sure how that happened.

I am working on a project to give as a Christmas gift, so not going say any more for now. But also have to do prep for tomorrow evening's art class and plan my day for tomorrow. Still have to do my evening meditation and journal for today, so will not keep you much longer.

In short:

My Stoic practice came in handy (of sorts) when I approached the bridge over the highway this morning where I had to take the off-ramp. While on the bridge (waiting for the traffic light) I spotted the traffic to the left of me standing still. Yeah, my first thought was this was going to be a long one. I then cranked my neck to look at the other side, a touch more difficult since the highway is downhill to my right. The cars were moving, so the logical deduction would be that the problem was underneath the bridge. And that should not be a problem for us getting onto highway driving North.

Yeah, you would think. When we descended down the offramp, all the drivers in front of me (yes, every single one) had to brake to see what was going on. To me that has to be the most illogical and irrational thing to do - unless of course you could be of service. But the ambulances and the police and everyone else were already on-site, so there was nothing to be done, except drive and get our little butts out of the way. But no. My dad always said that people want to see blood. Still makes no sense if you ask me. So I got my butt moving, and out of the way of the traffic that had to negotiate the accident.

Wisdom? Don't know, but definitely something about human behaviour that continues to boggle this engineering brain to this day.

Until tomorrow!

🙋‍♀️💜 Linzé

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Personal blog: #StoicWeek2021 - Tuesday

Hello, and welcome back to my blog. This is the second day of #StoicWeek2021 and the topic for reflection today is emotions. A tough one on the best of days.

If you missed my musings yesterday, here is the link. But let's get back to my Stoic experiences of today.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021, 20h29.

Yes, I am a bit later than yesterday but I have been thinking about what I want to write about today.  Not that I am blocked or anything, but Tuesdays are my most challenging day in the week. It starts early and unlike any other day, I cannot afford to oversleep. Yes, handy little thing called a smart watch that I wear on my wrist who beeps twice to try and wake me.

Source: StoicWeek

Part of the challenges include managing the dogs while the garden services are working, cleaning up the garage if they make puddles, and then having breakfast and trying to get to work. Today I had to fetch an order I made online (delivery at home is not possible because I don't know if I will be there when the courier arrives), then I had a Zoom meeting with a financial advisor. These disruptions were not surprises, but they can seriously affect my focus when trying to work. And I had to finish the report, send it to be checked (rules of working in an accredited lab) and then prepare for the tests I have to do tomorrow.

Unless I have to go somewhere, I spend my Tuesdays working at home. Practicing Stoic philosophy seems pretty silly when there is no one else that impacts my day. Today was no different in that respect. All my interactions with other people were professional and emotions other than polite friendliness are seldom a concern.

So a pretty uneventful day even from a Stoic perspective. What did surprise me, and to some extent I forget that this happens every time during StoicWeek: I get more done in a day than normal. Stoicism? Or perhaps I know that I have more to do than normal, and don't allow myself to be distracted? Something to think about.

It is almost 9pm, and time for my last cup of coffee for the day, then my evening meditation and a few minutes with my journal.

Until tomorrow!

🙋‍♀️ Linzé

Monday, 18 October 2021

Personal blog: #StoicWeek2021 - Monday

It has been a long time since I posted a personal blog, and StoicWeek 2021 seemed to be a good time to do it again. The organisers of Stoic Week encouraged people to vlog, or share their experiences online this time around. This is not my first time taking part in Stoic Week, but changing the way I share now does not seem to be a good time. So I thought to stick to an old favourite, my blog.

My life is really hectic at this time of year, so these posts might seem cryptic or impersonal, but I can assure you they are very personal to me.

Monday, 18 October 2021, 19h33.

This is not the end of my day, but I thought to share how my Stoic Monday (practice) has gone.

My husband gets up at 5 am, and after doing all his morning stuff leaves the house at 05h30. It is then time for me to get up and start my day. Since I plan my week ahead, my early morning musings were about the time I have before leaving for the lab at 8 am.

After getting dressed (and all that is required to get to that point), I spent some time in my office doing the morning meditation/reflection using the audio file narrated by Donald Robertson. To be honest, I was not focused on his words every minute, because I reflected on my own situation at the same time. I do practice mindful meditation, and thoughts drifting off are not a real concern as I as aware of this and then bring them back to the narration (or my breath) as required.

This seemingly simple exercise has proven to be beneficial to bring a calmness to my mind which I often feel last for several hours afterwards. Given the fact that I have to drive more than 20km to the lab on a very busy highway, calmness of mind is essential as I am sure you can attest when dealing with other drivers oftentimes driving as if their attention is anywhere except where it should be.

My workload is stressful and getting worse this time of year. While I expect it, it is still causing me to feel overwhelmed more often than at other times of the year. The calmness helps, but once my attention is required for the tests, my mind then switches into overdrive and stays there for the rest of the day. I am an engineer, and focus is important since I deal with potentially hazardous situations in the lab during the tests that we do.

After spending the morning doing what I had to do, inspecting the equipment for a new job, updating the technical director on the situation, I drove home again. My mind had lost its calmness as mentioned, but I no longer get angry or upset in traffic. A situation which helped me to avoid an accident, and helped me to remain clear headed - which helps when driving at high speeds.

Source: StoicWeek 2021

On the way I had to stop for a few things at a pharmacy/department store close to home. We needed toilet paper, but I decided to wait until today to get it on the way home. We usually do our groceries shopping on a Friday or the weekend, but the store at the mall we went to, is not a favourite, thus the detour today. But they didn't have the packaging size I prefer. Making a scene was not going to help, and they did have the smaller packaging size available. So I took a breath, grabbed the toilet paper, paid for my shopping and went home. Until now I haven't even given it a second thought. Stoicism needs practice, and only when I sit down to think about it, do I notice how "instinctive" my behaviour has become especially when it comes to the matter of control.

At home, the highly intense focus usually causes me to require a few hours to relax. I had my "lunch" at the lab, so I made a light snack for lunch and caught up on a few videos on YouTube from artists that I follow. I suffer from hypoglycemia so multiple meals are required each day. This is also a good time to catch up on my personal emails. I have a work email check schedule, because it can become a huge distraction. If there is a crisis, or someone needs urgent information, all my colleagues and clients have my mobile phone number. Years of experience have taught me that no email is ever that urgent, and a quick reply usually only happens when I am online at that moment and a short answer could resolve the issue.

A second opportunity to "not get angry" presented itself when I had to place an order for my second business. The details are not important, but I took a moment to think about what I should do instead of blowing up about it. This pause to think is not easy, but it does become easier with practice - believe me.

At 4 pm I start dinner, so that we can eat by 5 pm - yes, it is already 12 hours since we started our day, so an early dinner makes sense. After dinner I packed Hubs' lunch box, loaded the dishwasher (it finished a few minutes ago), did my Inktober drawing for today, did the pencil sketch for the drawing due tomorrow, planned my work for tomorrow, and wrote in my journal about my day.

It is now 20h18 as I write these words. It is still a few hours until bedtime, which means that I can get a head start on my report. After I finish the evening meditation of the day and perhaps write a few more words in my journal.

Book Feature: Dare to be a Duchess by Sapna Bhog


He’s a powerful duke. She’s his uncle’s ward. They have forever been at war, until one night, one masquerade, and one kiss…

Lara Ramsay is no stranger to scandal. As the orphaned daughter of a British colonel and his beloved Indian wife, whispers follow her everywhere. Not even the protection of the formidable Duke of Wolverton, a man she can’t stand, keeps the gossips at bay.
The audacious Lara has driven Tristan Wentworth, The Duke of Wolverton, to distraction since the day his uncle took her in—and he’s quite certain doing so is her favorite pastime. After catching her and his younger sister at a salacious masquerade, he’s had enough scandal and issues a marriage ultimatum: find a husband within six months or one will be chosen for her.
Unfortunately, no one in the ton appeals to her. Except, perhaps, the duke himself. The battle of wills has only just begun, and when Lara kisses him, their fate is sealed.
Sometimes even the most proper duke needs to break the rules to win the heart of the woman he loves...

Book Links:
Goodreads * *

Quotes from Dare to be a Duchess:

“Here, right at this moment, I’m giving you an ultimatum: Find someone from the ton to marry in the next six months or I will choose someone for you.” – Duke of Wolverton

“Well then the plan is simple, ‘Divide and Rule.’” – Lara Ramsay

“You’ll be surprised that a gentleman with the best intentions can behave like a rake when faced with temptation.” – Duke of Wolverton

“I think, Wolf, that you go on and on about my undesirability and my unattractiveness as a way to convince yourself more than me. The fact is that you kissed me because I am desirable and I am very attractive indeed.” – Lara Ramsay.

“You know very well that I’m accepted in the ton, albeit grudgingly, thanks only to you. No man wants to marry me, and I don’t want to marry any of those men.” – Lara Ramsay.

Read an Excerpt from Dare to be a Duchess:

Wolf crossed his arms and glared at Lara. Despite being at fault, she was as unrepentant as ever. Her absolute nonchalance drove him mad, always. 

“It is my concern. Getting into trouble is second nature to you, so I’d be lying if I said that it gave me any pleasure to be the one to help you out.” Wolf scowled at her. “Paxton is not a fool. He only has to think closely as to whose identity I would desperately want to protect and then remember your dark hair and he will come up with your name. You truly have no sense at all.”

“Well then you shouldn’t have bothered coming to my aid,” Lara retorted. “I could have handled the situation perfectly well by myself.” 

Wolf put his hands on his hips. “And how may I ask would you have done that?”

“I’ve heard that a well planted knee on a delicate part of a man’s anatomy would normally do the trick.”

His eyebrows shot up. “You’re crazy to think that you could have deterred Paxton that easily.”

Lara merely stared at him, her head held high, further fueling his temper. 

“What, nothing to say?” he snapped. “Which brings me back to my first question. What in the world are you doing here in this depraved place?” 

Lara continued to watch him with those deep blue eyes, her lips set in a mutinous line. Her lack of response irked him even more. 

“Answer me,” Wolf demanded, his tone sharp.

She met his gaze head on. “We had no inkling this place would be so bad. And nothing untoward has occurred, so stop shouting at me.”

 “Unbelievable,” he growled. “Do you know how bad this place can be for two innocent girls like yourselves? Behind their masks and costumes, the men here have only one thing on their minds when they look at you, and you, as usual, don’t care that you could be completely ruined if discovered, let alone taken advantage of, in this den of vice. You are wild and irresponsible and you give no thought to your actions or the consequences thereof. And you 

brought Anne here? Just because you don’t care about your reputation doesn’t mean you can play fast and loose with hers.”

Lara’s eyes blazed with fury. “Anne is not a child. She is a grown woman who has a mind of her own.” 

“And that is justification for you to come here?” Wolf countered.

“I, too, have a mind of my own,” she shot back. “And I do not appreciate you telling me what I can and cannot do.”

His nostrils flared. He was the Duke of Wolverton, one of the most powerful men in England. No one defied him. And yet this one woman stood against him at every turn. Why couldn’t she understand the potential danger for her or Anne here?

About the Author:
Sapna Bhog is an author from India who writes contemporary and historical romance novels. As a self-proclaimed die-hard romantic, her books are filled with swoon-worthy heroes and feisty heroines who clash all the time, but do get their happy ever after. Sapna has always surrounded herself with books and when she is not writing she is reading. Originally from Dubai, she now lives in Western India with her husband, kids and a Siberian Husky. Sapna gave up a successful IT career and took a foray into writing and has never looked back since. Her favourite pastimes are reading, writing, traveling and shopping—not necessarily in that order. She loves to hear from readers.

Sapna on the Web:
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The CreativeLife in review - planning, time management, and the creative life

  Hey there, creative friend! It's been a week or more since my last post but mostly because I have been taking time to do other things....