Maple Alps

intentionality

Intentionality Spotlight: Naida of Meaningful Word

Intentionality SpotlightAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

Readers. I am so excited today to introduce you to Naida, of Meaningful Word! I met her a few years ago at an expo and fell in love with her designs. We even have some of her work on a couple of tees we own! She has a true gift of making words come to life! I won’t say much more other than her story moved me, and I can’t wait to share it will all of you today!

Intentionality Spotlight: Naida of Meaningful Word | www.maplealps.com

First some easy stuff, tell us a bit about yourself. What is your
work, your passions and interest?


Hello, I’m Naida. I’m a Melbourne based Graphic Designer and Illustrator with a passion to create colourful pieces and experiences. When I’m not drawing or thinking about design concepts, you’ll find me taking photos, finding new brunch locations or exploring nature with like-minded individuals.



I absolutely love your work! How did you get started with art and ultimately Meaningful Word and your shop?

Thank you, I’ve always loved to draw ever since I was young. When I think about my art journey it took me a while to understand that 1 - this ability was a gift from God, and 2 - that it can be use for the church and ultimately for His glory.

The first time I ever thought of God having a part in that area of my life was when I was in high school. It was Friday night during lifegroup when the youth pastor said “Praise God” after I told the group about an award I received. I was brought up in the church, but I didn’t have a relationship with God so I was unsure why she said it. It actually rather annoyed since I did all the work – Silly me.

Fast forward to my final year of University where I focused all my attention on getting a job after I graduate because the design industry can be very competitive. It’s not just about having an amazing folio, but your industry experience and who you know that sets you apart. It’s funny how scripture says ‘Man may plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps’ (Proverbs 16:9) – because this was very much the case for me. I landed an internship with a design studio in the city where I got to work on some exciting projects for clients like Melbourne Fashion Week, Australia’s Next Top Model and for other up-coming fashion designers in Australia – It was a dream!

Intentionality Spotlight: Naida of Meaningful Word | www.maplealps.com


I had a lot of fun and learnt a whole lot, however, the more projects and more time I surrounded myself in that atmosphere, the more I found myself changing and what little connection I had with God was fading. I was in a dream role, but something wasn’t right and I was watching many things fall apart. But little did I know that God was working on me – out of the mess He was able to make something beautiful. I had to see all my plans crumble, to be at a point where I was left alone crying to God for Him to speak comfort into my life and redirect my path. He was asking me to surrender my career to Him.

Thus then Meaningful Word and a new career path were born as a result of my encounter with God. Meaningful Word started as a small challenge for myself to memorise verses – hoping that if I spent enough time and make it look visually appealing enough, I’d store it somewhere in my mind. It was also a means to create something for God rather than what I was doing in the past (helping the rich get richer, and creating things that looked beautiful, but had no substance to it). God was asking me to trust in Him and to use the gift He had given me back to Him to help others. Ever since then I’ve seen first-hand the fruits of surrendering to God. When you give it to Him, He blesses it, multiplies it and lets it be a blessing to others. I had planned my own way, but God’s plan exceeded it all – far more than I could have hoped for, and for the better.


I love how your art really brings Biblical truths and stories to life. Where do you get the inspiration for it? Is it hard, or does it come easily?

Well I guess it comes naturally. The verses, quotes or stories I post are actual reflections and thoughts from my devotionals that week – the things I’ve read, heard or experienced. I like to post scripture because I truly believe that the messages in it are just as relevant now as they were then. I just love how Hebrews 4:12 describes the word as ‘living, powerful, sharper than any two-edge sword’ and is a ‘discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’ – yep, still relevant!

My process starts with the message/text and then I consider what are the key parts of the text that I what to highlight. Vibrant colour palettes, patterns and nature drive my style and approach on each piece I create.

Intentionality Spotlight: Naida of Meaningful Word | www.maplealps.com

What is one other specific area in your life you find that intentionality is absolutely critical? How do you exercise mindfulness in it?

Investing my time wisely. This is in the form of time with God, time I spend with others and on my health and wellbeing.

Devotional time is super important for me because I just know I’m going to have a lousy day if my priorities aren’t right. Time with others is investing in solid relationships and to also empower the next generation. I’m a strong advocate that the Creative Arts has a place and can be used for the church – we need to encourage this more!  We all have a talent that can we used for God, we just have to give it back to Him.

And lastly, rest. In the past I used to think that ‘resting’ is for the lazy, but God has shown me that rest is just as important. Our mind, body and soul need to recover, and the best way I like to rest is on the Sabbath in nature with others – far, far away from a computer screen.


If you would give one piece of advice about {this area of intentionality} so someone who struggles with it, what would you tell them?

Ensure that your relationship and time with God is your first priority, because the rest follows. Start small. It’s not always easy to know where to even begin and yea, you may find you don’t want to pray or read your bible, but the beautiful thing about God is He meets you where you are. Start small, and have a conversation. Open your heart and ‘taste and see’ His goodness - you will not be disappointed. Start small & be consistent – After all, habits are formed in 30 days.



Find Naida at her Etsy shop or on Instagram


 

5 Ways to be Intentional About Your Phone Usage

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps6 Comments

Phone usage has been a hot topic since…..well, since phones came out. Studies and scares about phone radiation are always talked about and campaigns against texting and driving produce thought-provoking, heart-wrenching television ads. Not to mention all of the studies about how your phone is the most disgustingly nasty germ infested electronic you own. I see my phone as a necessary “evil.” I need it to call my mom, and it’s required for work, but sometimes I find myself unnecessarily using it (like adding simple numbers...what?!) and giving it time I will never get back. There have been moments I’ve wanted to throw my phone out of the window. Let me explain:

5 Ways to be Intentional About Your Phone Usage | www.maplealps.com

One thing that really hit me was realizing that I hardly know anyone’s phone number by heart anymore. In school, I remember memorizing my best friend’s number (I still have it memorized to this day!), but I don’t remember the last time I had to actually punch in a number.

I also rely on my phone too much to remind me of things. While this is fantastic, and I would have had to write it down anyway, I can’t help but feel that my brain is shrinking (okay, it's probably not...) when I don’t want to remember a simple task or take the time to write down a particularly great quote I want to remember.

The last thing: simple math. I’ve recently started being more intentional about NOT using my calculator app to figure out simple discounts in the store. I make my students figure out 20% of a number all the time, so I figured I should start practicing what I teach! Besides, that way when they ask when they will ever use it in real life, I could reply, “Well, I just did it Tuesday when I needed to figure out the tip for my hairdresser!” That’s logical, right?


 

Limit your mindless scrolling

Endless scroll through Instagram or Facebook can be an addictive, dangerous trap! Set a timer if you must, or limit your social media usage to a desktop version. It is amazing how much time goes by when you decide to scroll through social media on a phone.

 

Take advantage of do not disturb

There are these fantastic settings most phones have: a do not disturb and airplane mode option! Take advantage of it during quiet moments, driving moments, or if you’re like me, use airplane mode before sleeping or taking a nap.

 

Do not let your phone be the first thing you check when you wake up

Start your day right. Phone notifications can be a stressful thing! If the first thing you see are you unread messages and emails, your mind will go right to those tasks rather than making sure your morning is quiet and sacred. I like to think of it this way: I want to read God’s Word before I read any of man’s word.

 

Don’t let your phone be the last thing you look at before you sleep

Be strict with when you end your phone time. Put your phone away at least an hour before you go to sleep. This will allow you to unwind, relax, and maybe even get to that stack of books on your nightside table. Maybe have a quality pillow talk session with your spouse. Pray and connect with your loved ones before sleeping, not your phone.

 

Create a phone-free zone

When I was in college, I made my dorm room an English-free zone. My roommate and I were only allowed to converse in German. It was good for me. Having a phone-free zone has been good for me too. For me, it’s my bedroom. It took a LOT of convincing my husband (mostly because he uses his phone as that alarm clock), but we finally did it, and I am SO GLAD we did. You can read more about our experience here.

 


What sort of ways do you make sure you are using your phone intentionally? 


 
 

The Crucial Element in a Long Distance Relationship

Ask Amanda, RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment
The Crucial Element in a Long Distance Relationship | www.maplealps.com

 

Question: What was the crucial element that helped your long distance relationship?


I guess quite a few of you must be in long distance relationships, because I get this question quite often. In a globalized world, I suppose dating or even being married long distance is getting more common.


Let’s see…


My husband and I spent 3 years in a long distance relationship before getting engaged. With the Atlantic Ocean between us, it did not always make it easy (or affordable for students - which we were at the time) to spend time with each other in person. We calculated it the other day, and the time spent face-to-face during that time added up to between 7 and 8 months. While that is not a lot, we did talk almost every day.


Modern technology is fantastic for that and allowed us to stay in almost constant communication (as constant as an 8-hour time difference can allow for anyway…). If it wasn’t letter writing and emails, we could text and video chat - something our parents were not able to do in their own long distance relationships!


Did I mention that even our parents did the same crazy thing? Must be genetic.


Anyhow, despite a large time difference, insane cultural differences, and the fact that we were on different continents, it all still somehow worked out.


To answer your question, there were several factors that affected our successful (in my eyes) long distance relationship. I actually wrote a blog post about it a while ago called, “The Three C’s of Long Distance Dating.” You’ll have to visit to find out what those C’s are and to find some really fun ideas for your own long distance relationship.


But really it all boiled down to intentionality.


I know I use that word a lot, and it’s the theme of this entire website, but it really is true.


Intentionality was the one crucial element that helped our long distance relationship. We chose to make it work, which made every element something we intentionally thought about.


We intentionally talked about core values with each other, but most importantly, we really tried to intentionally keep our relationship a God-centered one.


Practically, we had to be sure we were reaching out to each other and that the limited time we had to talk was used wisely and we were not distracted with other things. I’m not even kidding when I say that we often created agendas as if we were entering a board meeting before talking. That way we didn’t forget what we needed to share or talk about. There were several resources we used to guide our conversations as well.


All of this is not to say that we have stopped being intentional in our relationship now that we are married - not at all! It’s just that intentionality in our relationship looks a tad different now that we are married.

But more on that in a different post!


 


Have you been in/are you in a long distance relationship? What was the crucial element that helped you?


 
 

What Happened When We Created a Phone-Free Zone

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps1 Comment

When I was studying abroad and learning German, I decided to make my dorm room an English-free zone. I even made signs and put them on my door and bulletin board, just in case my roommate was tempted to practice her English on me (she never was…).

While my German-speaking husband would love it if we had an English-Free zone in our house (hehe, I’m totally rusty), I somehow convinced him to instead make our bedroom a phone-free zone. It took quite a bit convincing, but we finally managed to do it. For one month, no phones of any sort were allowed to enter our bedroom-at all. And honestly, it was the best thing we could have done - especially since the month we chose was an extremely busy one (you’ll read why in a few paragraphs).

I thought that today I would share what happened during this experiment. At first, I was not sure what exactly to expect, but everything I experienced was extremely positive. Spoiler alert: I’d do it again!

Creating a Phone-Free Zone | www.maplealps.com

 

Phone alarms could still be heard outside the door. The predominant argument that was brought up when I suggested a phone-free bedroom was that my husband uses his phone as an alarm clock. Now, alarm clocks are quite inexpensive and not hard to locate, but for whatever reason, we opt to use our phones instead. I’m more or less a minimalist - I get it - so I suggested just laying our phones outside the door. Guess what? We could still hear the alarms in the morning. Besides that, one was forced to physically get up if they wanted to hit the snooze button. Helped the waking-up process a tad anyway since you were that much closer to the bathroom. I actually use a silent alarm on my Fitbit because I wake up so early, so this was not a huge issue for me.

 

Pillow-talk replaced pre-bed scrolling. I suppose I should mention that on top of eliminating phones from our space, we also agreed to go to bed at roughly the same time (which was a real feat!). Instead of the usual [mostly mindless] scrolling and not talking to each other before praying together and drifting to sleep, we were actually able to talk and tell each other about our days. It was nice to connect in this way, as we are both extremely busy people. There would be weeks during the school year where we would go days without seeing each other or speaking much (the pastor-teacher combination is not really the most ideal at times). This really helped us to be grounded at the end of the day and to not waste any time.

 

Our space became special. Because we were not letting distractions from everywhere imaginable into our room, it almost seemed like a more special place. A place where the outside world could not get in. A place of refuge from the interruptions and the noise. I’ll add a note here that our phones were not allowed in at any time of the day, so it was always nice and still! I thought that I would miss listening to music or podcasts while sitting in bed, but I really didn’t. I had the rest of the day for that, so it was a nice way to wind down.

 

I started to read [print] again. Without the temptation of a phone on my bedside table, the pile of books I had been intending to read started getting shorter and shorter. I decided on a few that I was not interested in, and picked up some really great reads! I was able to actually re-house a few of them back in my bookshelf. I also felt kind of fancy reading or browsing magazines in bed. Am I the only one who feels fancy when doing this? Perhaps you shouldn’t answer that…

What Happened When We Created a Phone-Free Zone | www.maplealps.com

Honestly, after the month was up and phones came back into the bedroom, I was mostly disappointed. While I do try to be more intentional about not letting it take over, I do want to go back to making a phone-free zone again. It’s easy to fall back into the mindless scroll trap and lose time you will never ever get back.

All in all, it’s nice to set aside the device after using it all day. It’s a fantastic way to end each evening.

 

 


I’d highly recommend this experiment to anyone! I’d love to hear how it goes for you!


 

Minimalism Essentials

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps1 Comment

In the wise words of Helen Keller:

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”

Although we live in an era when consumerism and all things fast and instant have taken over the world, there are still those who want to be more with less. It may sound depressing, but let’s look at it as an opportunity, instead!

This is our chance to overcome all the trendy cravings and enjoy true diversity of life without the need to possess. So, in an effort to make things simpler, the following list can be your own little to-do on your journey to becoming a minimalist!

Photo by  Yoann Siloine  on  Unsplash


A Decluttering Mindset

Yes, spring is your go-to time to empty those drawers, donate those shoes and jeans, but in order to enjoy a simpler life, decluttering should be more of a permanent mindset. A way of being, if you will. Instead of constant hoarding, which is yet another consequence of consumerism, do your best to give and share. What may be just another pair of socks to you can be someone’s lifesaver during a cold winter day!

Do your best not to constantly postpone decisions for later. That’s how we end up keeping an excess of things which we don’t need and we don’t use at all. If it has a purpose, or even several of them, preferably, keep it! If it sits idly in your home, ditch it!

Photo by  Alex Loup  on  Unsplash

Photo by Alex Loup on Unsplash

Decorate with Meaning

There’s a common misconception that a minimalist home is void of all personal things, and contains very few furniture pieces. Of course that you should pick your furniture according to purpose, but it’s no reason to keep character and charisma out of the process! In fact, in a minimalist home, those items that have the most emotional and personal value truly get to stand out, as there will be no clutter to suffocate their meaning.

If it was a gift from someone you cherish, or an item with a deep spiritual meaning for you, by all means, keep it, make it the focal point of your home! Add color and texture, play with styles, but don’t stuff your room just because.

Photo by  Chua Bing Quan  on  Unsplash


Slow Down Your Style

Fast fashion is one of the cornerstones of consumerism, and as such, it deserves to be banished from our look-books for good. It’s great if you want to refresh your wardrobe with an occasional new item that is a reflection of your personal preferences, but we still haven’t seen anything defeat the little black dress in the quest of elegance.

The same goes for other multifunctional pieces such as the Birkenstock Arizona sandals, which are considered a staple of comfort-wear, and a timeless classic among footwear. Go for durable, long-lasting items, not just in terms of trends, but also in terms of quality, so that you can wear your stylish clothes for years on end!

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


Simplify Your Menu

Another common item on the list we tend to complicate is our eating regime. We buy so many products that are disguised as quick and easy, such as pre-prepared meals, and a whole slew of processed snacks. They might be fine as an occasional indulgence, but in order to lead a healthy, simple life, we should nourish our bodies with whole foods with minimal processing.

Fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds in their natural form are the best possible sources of vitamins and minerals that sustain our immune system and protect us from diseases. Add to that lean sources of protein, and you can easily mix and match a versatile menu without resorting to overly-processed foods laden with chemicals.



Invest in Sustainable Self-Growth

Curiosity and learning are the basis of progress, however, the means to an end should matter as much as the end itself. If you’re an avid reader, which is an exceptional quality you should nurture within yourself, you can still continue to expand your library without actually buying physical books. Instead, you can get an e-reader such as Kindle that uses e-ink, it stores around two thousand books, and it’s an excellent choice for reducing eye strain.

You’ll be able to help save the environment, as this is a far more sustainable way to expand your library than to support deforestation for the purpose of printing.

Photo by  Leo Manjarrez  on  Unsplash


Finally, it’s vital to remember that there is no minimalist template that fits us all. You should strive to find your own, keep your mind open, and find the best possible ways to simplify your life, help preserve our planet, and enjoy your existence to the fullest!

 

Claire is a blogger and a Bachelor of Design from Brisbane, Australia. She is an aesthetic lover focused on meaningful living. She writes about fashion, art and consumers' habits in order to encourage her readers to live sustainably.


 
Minimalism Essentials | www.maplealps.com