Some of the good stuff, and the things which are inspiring me right now.
• Remembering the wonderful exuberance of the Life. Be in it. campaign in the 80s. Obese couch potato Norm, the everyman Aussie. I think the program was meant to encourage exercise, but I definitely recall a sort of embrace-life-in-general ethos, which promoted hobbies, outdoorsy wanderings and family time together. I had a large Life. Be in it. calendar on my bedroom wall in about 1985, which had little cartoon characters doing all sorts of cool things on it: flying kites, making pottery, throwing a frisbee, walking a dog. I really loved that campaign. A little half-hearted Googling around suggests that the organisation still exists, but where are they, and why so quiet? Maybe it's un-funded. Un-funded probably means dodo status.
• The Artists Way, by Julia Cameron. A book which guides the reader through a course of self-discovery, and helps adults re-connect with latent creative talents and passions by giving "permission" to indulge them, and teaches the skills to rediscover them.
• Girl's Own, Boy's Own Annuals: My parents owned these as children; a combination of fiction, non-fiction, craft projects, science articles, woodworking, gardening, nature observation and puzzles. They entertained my brother and I forty years after they had entertained our parents. I collected a few cheesey latter day examples from the Seventes - a David Cassidy themed among them, and they had the same wonderful charm. Some of the later ones include clothing customisation projects and cooking. Where did this wonderful genre go? I'm going to revive it. I believe at this stage that the rejuvenated annual will form the core expression of my project's aims.
• The Roland Harvey calendars. These were the most desired item in my school's book club catalogue because they had the coolest cartoony illustrations and had a giant sheet of stickers for customising the pages, or marking dates. That a thing so simple was one of my most anticipated gifts every single year- wow.
• Lenore Skenazy's campaign for Free Range Kids - giving kids the freedom to live a childhood which isn't shaped by fear and paranoia. Well, in this social climate, when Skenazy can draw outrage by allowing he eight year old son to get the subway home, well, it needs to be said - we are suffocating our children.
• Flow, by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. Recommended with incredible timing and precision by Michael Hill, this book has made me into one of those book bores who goes around insisting that other people "MUST read this now". It's very tiresome, the way I've been behaving, but this book is seriously blowing my mind. It thrills me, but doesn't particularly surprise me to learn of all the additional benefits to striving for optimal experience through focussed attention. Facilitating Flow experiences is the highest aim of my project for a number of reasons that I'm working through now.
Components of flow
Csíkszentmihályi identifies the following as accompanying an experience of flow:
Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one's skill set and abilities).
Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
Distorted sense of time, one's subjective experience of time is altered.
Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.
Not all are needed for flow to be experienced.