David Ginn

Writing down thoughts and drawing pictures

A storm rages inside Voices disharmonious Which direction now?

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The busy mind misses seeing Bluebell sentries lining woodland paths A moment stolen

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Where the skylark soars Time erodes the familiar My heart is heavy

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Ingredients

  • 3 large bananas
  • 75g Rapeseed oil (sunflower and vegetable oil works too)
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 3 heaped teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 50g raisins or sultanas

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan) or 200 C (conventional) (gas 6 in old money) Mash the bananas in a large bowl with a fork. Mix with the oil and the sugar. Add the flour, baking powder and mixed spice. Combine. Add the raisins and mix until distributed throughout.

Line a 2lb loaf tin with parchment paper and grease the paper with oil. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes has elapsed, remove from the oven and cover the top of the tin with foil to prevent burning the top.

Continue to cook for another 20 minutes. Poke with a skewer. If the skewer is clean, the bread is done. Otherwise, continue to bake.

Cool slightly and serve.

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Originally I thought of myself as a minimalist. This later proved to be difficult to maintain, since minimalism usually requires sacrifice.

I see minimalism as an aesthetic consideration first. A way of reducing something to its basic form over functionality. Minimalism grew out of an art movement, after all.

Essentialism, on the other hand, I see it as a way of disciplining the mind to find the essential aspects of an object/animal/activity, and to embrace it.

Minimalism in its pure form might require me to give up on something because I am not reducing my life to basic functionality. Modern minimalists, with all their talk of balance, are actually instead referring to essentialism.


Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown

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As I have been searching the Internet I've noticed there is a distinct lack of understanding of 'minimalist wallpaper'. They're usually not simple or understated enough, and often covered in the names of their creators.

In an attempt to keep things simple, and using my own knowledge of graphic design, I've created the following wallpapers, which I will add to over time. They're free for you to use, but if you link to them on your own website please remember to give credit where credit is due.

Zen – (1920x1080)

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Life rarely goes the way we want. That's an overused, but accurate assessment of the way many people feel, especially at a time when our freedoms have been limited by the spread of the coronavirus.

During this time, many of us have chosen to play games, like the wildly popular Animal Crossing, which seems to have come along at just the right time, and escape into a virtual world to socialise and find some comfort away from the problems posed by our real lives.

I'm no exception.

I play computer games to escape the problems of my life, and, unlike many in the media, I believe it to be a vital mechanism for dealing with stress.

In reality I'm a 35 year-old graduate stuck at home, trying to deal with the alcoholism of a family member who lives far away, whilst attempting to reconcile my own mental health problems, and deal with the financial fallout the extended lockdown in the UK has caused for me personally.

In a game such as Animal Crossing, I live on a remote island paradise that I can control. There are no obligations, and I can indulge my passion for design to my heart's content. There are no money worries, because you directly 'earn' rewards that are proportionate to the amount of effort you put into the game. This 'other life' is completely under my thumb. I dictate everything, including how long I spend there. An hour a day is sufficient to bring a feeling of calm before returning to reality.

In actuality, it bears little difference to other forms of escapism, such as reading books, watching TV or going to the movies. The only exception I have noticed is that the interactivity of video games makes them more engrossing.

Granted, escapism does very little to actually deal with the problems directly, but indirectly it helps me to see my choices more clearly by calming me down. The calm is better for my physical health too, which obviously can become another source of stress at a time when I don't need more.

As long as those of us who indulge in this form of escapism take the time to act in our real lives, and don't retreat into the fantasy completely, it can be healthy and at least for me, a vital link in the mental health chain for which I have found no substitute.

I believe it should be noted that escapism is the opposite of mindfulness, and that too is something that can be used to deal with stressful thoughts by grounding ourselves in reality and the present moment. Both methods are valid, although at times when we've all had too much reality, switching off from the problems of the world and our lives by taking a virtual holiday seems more logical than a real one, especially when you take potential virus transmission into account.

In short: stay home, stop reading the paper, put your phone on silent and play a game for an hour a day. You might find a solution to one of those problems suddenly hits you when you're not paying it any attention.


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In my experience, many people associate minimalism with the online images of a perfect monochromatic environment frozen in time, ever unchanging. It’s a comforting thought. Never again needing to clean, to accumulate more things, and the image exudes a timeless quality that doesn’t diminish on the whims of the latest trends, or wear out with age.

What you might not be aware of is the mess that was created off-camera to craft that perfect moment. A sea of tripods, cables and lighting, as well as props of all kinds usually monopolise the rest of the room. As I was browsing through my usual sources of inspiration online, I looked at the photographs used by a similar blog to this one: Minimalism Life, by The Minimalists. The articles are witty, and the headlines hook you into clicking and reading more, but the imagery has always bothered me.

The vast majority of the photographs materialise from the same place online: unsplash.com. A repository for free stock photography. The trouble is exactly that: they’re stock photographs of simple monochrome scenes and objects. They happen to employ keywords that facilitate a user looking for ‘minimalism’, but they’re not directly related to the article in any way. After all, isn’t minimalism the lack of things? How can one photograph what isn’t there? Unfortunately: Imagery is generally very important online. As I’m sure most people will agree, someone is more likely to read an article if there are pictures to go with the blocks of text. They should really be related, and ideally taken by the writer themselves, even if they aren’t as ‘picture perfect’ as those taken by professional photographers. The photograph should accentuate the meaning of the original writing. That is best done with an equally original image.

The point I’m driving at is the pursuit of perfection often distracts us from the message, and the pursuit of perfect minimalism, the kind that appears on the front of a glossy magazine, is no exception.

Labelling yourself as a minimalist and feeling pressured into measuring yourself against that label each and every day can be a source of stress. Especially if you are constantly asking yourself, “If I buy this thing, can I call myself a minimalist anymore?”

Everyone, even minimalists will have an extra slice of cake on their birthday, or make an impulse buy every once in a while. Part of the trick is not to beat yourself up over it afterwards, but rather ask what made that impulse buy so special in the first place. Life is all about balance, and the chances are if you’re using everything you buy, you’re not tripping over everything to reach the front door, and you aren’t in debt, then you’re doing just fine.

If you find yourself in the contrary position, however, perhaps you can benefit from some minimalist practices in your life. Just arm yourself with the prescience of mind that most of the minimalist images around the Internet are a fantasy scenario of perfection none of us can have.

To that end, I’m planning on creating simple sketches as a part of my morning mindfulness to go with each article from now on, unless there is a photograph that better suits. The images will always be mine, but perhaps these sketches will illustrate my state of mind on the day when I also write an entry such as this. They may not be directly related on topic, but they are directly related in as much as all the content here comes from me, and it always will.

David


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