A soothing novel in twelve short paragraphs …

“It was summer, and it was hot. Rachel was there. A lonely old grey couch. And the kingdom was theirs forever, the end!”.

Another Sunday night in, another night of remembering lines from F.R.I.E.N.D.S.  Lines I’ve known since forever, lines I probably know a little too well.  Most of my internal dialogue derives from pop culture. It’s the greatest thing, to know that film and television shape your thoughts to the point where you don’t know what’s original and what’s something you’ve heard before.

Jack Johnson is on the stereo. Another thing I’ve been listening to since forever. My appreciation of him is really just as much about his music as it is about the fact that I just think he’d be a really cool person to be friends with.  And he seems so chilled out.  And despite being around for ages, he hasn’t really done anything celebrity-ish like star in a reality show, release a line of cologne, date a supermodel or start a twitter rant about another artists.  Cudos, Jacko, for not being a f**kwit.

When I’m done here, I’m going to watch an episode of Doctor Who with husband. He’s the only person I know who loves it with all his heart and soul. And he’s not even British. And now watching it puts me in a good mood, because it means if I’m watching it, then I am relaxing and sharing in his nerdiness. Not even sharing in it, but actively allowing it.  Like I’m not a nerd myself.  I read somewhere once that “nerds will rule the world”.  I am a massive nerd and I don’t rule a thing.

Fifth paragraph

Sixth paragraph

Seventh paragraph

Eighth paragraph

Ninth paragraph

Tenth paragraph

Eleventh paragraph

Twelfth paragraph

This post was a writer’s block exercise called “Write a soothing novel in twelve short paragraphs” taken from Language is a Virus, and I swear I can’t make it to 12 paragraphs right now.

Lessons learnt from David Sedaris ….

… who’s one of my favourite authors (as in, I wish I wrote what he wrote):

It’s not lost on me that I’m so busy recording life, I don’t have time to really live it.  I’ve become like one of those people I hate, the sort who go to the museum and, instead of looking at the magnificent Brueghal, take a picture of it, reducing it from art to proof. It’s not “Look what Brueghal did, painted this masterpiece” but ” Look what did, went to Rotterdam and stood in front of a Brueghal painting!

Sometimes I feel like blogging and writing is like that.  You’re so busy being an observer you lose sight of actually being part of the event.

Social media’s a bit like Sedaris’ anecdote too.  Here’s my selfie by the ocean. I won’t go in it, but here’s proof I was there.

Urgh, technology.

I hope Sedaris’ peeps don’t get the shits with me for quoting him above. I love his work, OK? I love it.  FYI I’m currently reading his book Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls which you can buy from all good bookstores. Hope that covers my ass.

I’m gonna be really sad when this book ends coz then I have to get into a new book.  I have The Reader waiting for me, and The Fault in Our Stars. I don’t know which one to read first.  The one that will make me cry, or the one that will me cry and ponder humanity’s ways.

Before the Sedaris book I read Juliet, NakedNot a lot deep pondering there but man Nick Hornby is funny.

medium_6908080437

photo credit: fiddleoak via photopin cc

Synthesising Happiness

Why, TED, do you keep challenging me and shaking up my view of the world?

… imagining that not getting what you want could make you just as happy as getting it …

I think this is less about synthesising happiness and more with being CONTENT to play the cards you were dealt.

Not that you shouldn’t stop striving for what you want, but you shouldn’t deny who you are either.

Ahhh, happiness … you’re not an elusive b!tch, after all …

Let me know your thoughts :)

Breathe and Stop … and Breathe and Stop …

It’s been a busy few weeks. I’ve gotten a new job (starting this week), still working at my old job and finishing everything off as well as the work I do outside of my 9-5er (which I guess will be the norm now that Australians have to work till they’re 70, and I’ve found it hard to find down time, me time or any time outside of deadlines and writing.

The nature of my career and profession means I sit in front of my computer all day, every day, typing and working on the occasional image (although I am in no way a graphic designer, illustrator or any kind of visual artist).  I hunch over my laptop or keyboard (if I’m at my work station at work), fingers poised like wriggly claws, shoulders curved in stressful anxiety, face contorted in concentration. The tiny study/bedroom from which I work at home has a full length mirror next to the desk, and I see my reflection and posture as I type. I look this like this:

Gargoyle

photo credit: niznoz via photopin cc

I mean, OK, I don’t look like knarled old geezer when I’m working, but that’s how I feel. All hunched over and curmudgeonly.

And I act like that too. Like god forbid the person who tries to talk to me while I’m in the middle of working.  My poor fiancee. I can’t believe he has to deal with this side of me.

But I told myself enough is enough, and I couldn’t continue being like this all the time. Sure, the nature of my work requires me to spend hours at my desk, and this is true for everyone. But I needn’t be chained to my desk, and, if anything, I needed to find some inspiration away from my desk, and do something that was not only good as a break and breather, but also good for my health and wellbeing in general.

ENTER AROMATHERAPY

I know, what the … whaaaaaat!?!?! But hear me out. I chose to take part in an aromatherapy workshop because I believed it would help me in the following ways:

  1. It would help me get creative
  2. It would let me use my hands rather than just being hunched over my computer. Again
  3. Aromatherapy has been known for ages to assist with health and wellbeing
  4. It would mean I was making things that I could share and use with my family and friends
  5. It would smell …. GREEEEEAAAAAAT :)

So I was really excited to sign up for Sze Wing Yip‘s DIY Natural Beauty and Spa Products Workshop, which was held on Saturday, 3rd May at the Life and Balance Centre in Glebe. I’d already known what Sze Wing can do, so I trusted I would be getting a pretty good, well-rounded beginner course in the area of aromatherapy. I was really looking forward to it after I signed up, not least because it would give me the chance to step away from my laptop and do something different for a change.

WHAT IS AROMATHERAPY?

Google the meaning, and the interwebs will come back with a search result that will tell you that aromatherapy is, “… the use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils for healing and cosmetic purposes”. Hmmm, science-y!  But that afternoon in a beautiful room in Glebe, aromatherapy was 8 people seated around a table filled with little vials of essential oils, pens to write with, a workbook each for us to take home, bowls and mixing apparatus to make our goodies with and a willingness to learn as much as we could in that afternoon.

Our goodies on the table

Our goodies on the table

Sze Wing explained to us the beginnings of aromatherapy, the benefits of aromatherapy and the different kinds of essential oils to use. She also showed us the kinds of household products to use, which are really easy to source – straight from your local supermarket, like oil and salt which you can easily find from your local Coles.  This was another one of the reasons that attracted me to this course. The ingredients and products you can use, aside from the obvious essential oils which are of course necessary for making aromatherapy products, aren’t going to be hard to find, which means I would be more than likely to keep using these again long after the course had ended. I also really liked the fact that different aromas would assist with different ailments, which I thought was pretty cool. It’s nice to know that things derived from nature held such healing powers.  I always feel much better knowing I’m going for a natural remedy rather popping a pill.

MAKING THE PRODUCTS

Thank goodness Sze Wing walked us through the making of our products, because had it been me in my home with a booklet, I would have made a mess of things! But thanks to Sze Wing’s direction and her workbook, which also included recipes so we could recreate our products at the conclusion of the course, we were able to make our own products with relative ease. In fact, I don’t think anyone had any real with the making of our products, so this was actually lots of fun.  The mixing, the experimenting, the sharing our results with the other people in our class and then of course trying out our products all added to the hands-on element of the course, which was exactly what I was going for.

Essential oils used in the workshop

Essential oils used in the workshop

Ingredients for our body scrub ... and it was so easy to make!

Ingredients for our body scrub … and it was so easy to make!

 

THE PRODUCTS WE MADE

So we made and we created, using our hands, which was great coz it involved NOT ONE LAPTOP OR KEYBOARD. I think a lot of people out there who work an office job and sit at their desks for hours on end can appreciate how lovely this is, to create something and use other senses. For me, the real fun in the aromatherapy workshop was the chance to stand or sit, depending on what I was making, to use utensils and tools that are normally associated with fun stuff like cooking, and, of course, the chance to make products that smell AMAZING. I am a big fan of citrus products, so I used a lot of that in one of the products I made.

I was also really glad, at the end of the day, that I got to create something that inevitably would help with my health and wellbeing.  Not only was the act of taking time out to do the workshop beneficial to my overall wellbeing, but the products I made using aromatherapy techniques was also beneficial too.  It was a win-win, and as I grow my knowledge about all things in the big ole sphere of wellbeing, I felt incredibly grateful to have been a part of that workshop.

I walked away from that workshop with the following self-made products:

  • Massage oil
  • Body butter
  • Body scrub
  • Bath oil

And I was so proud of myself!  I’ve already used the massage oil and body butter, and will the body scrub soon (this is my favourite product and for some reason I am using my “save the best for last” mentality with this one), and giving the bath oil as a present, because they are all contained in cute little containers with adorable little tags which Sze Wing supplied for us on the day.

Will I be doing more workshops like this in the future? You bet. The more I educate myself about health and wellbeing, the more open I am to trying different things in this area. I know treatments, techniques and theories change all the time, but this area of work is fascinating to me and it’s great to discover new ways of being a healthier, more balanced person.  Something we’re all striving for in this day and age. :)

Sze Wing Yip from Intuitive Coaching during her workshop.

Sze Wing Yip from Intuitive Coaching during her workshop.

Articumalationising

Writing notes for a review (The Zero Theorem, Terry Gilliam’s new film), and this is my best note from it:

Bob, the young guy in the movie, is like the Andrew Garfield character from the Heath Ledger movie in the other Terry Gilliam film.

Written in a dark screening room with very little coffee.

I will refine and it will be brilliant.

 

What TV taught me and why I’m like this now

Just read this article from Huffington Post called 10 Movies This Child of the 80s Wants Her Kids to Learn From  and I LOVED IT! I’m not looking down the barrel of 40 like the author of the article, but I am definitely a child of the 80s. I am also the only child of two very over-protective parents, so if I wasn’t running around outside with a ragtag group of neighbourhood kids for safety, the parental unit preferred that I be indoors situated firmly in front of the box, watching whatever TV show or movie was appropriate for me at the time.

I loved that the article mentioned The Goonies, The Princess Bride and The Breakfast Club, three of my favourite movies of all time, because I took so much away from each of them. When you’re not allowed out a lot, you live in the make-believe world on the screen, and THANK GOD there was usually something great to watch. Television and movies now are still great, but TV now is a little bit harrowing for me. It takes a lot of emotion to sit through Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Do we need debriefing sessions every time we finish an episode?

Breakfast Club School

Outside the building they used to film The Breakfast Club at.

Anyway, I digress. I am a child of the 80s (and 90s), and like Allison Tate, I have very strong emotional connections to TV and film from that time. I’m so connected to them, that I think they’ve actually shaped my world view of how life was supposed to be and I am constantly being reminded that nope, life doesn’t always work like that. I don’t have kids of my own, but I’ve learned a lot from 80s pop culture! For example:

THE GOONIES

Everyone loves The Goonies because they were all different, they were such great friends, had that mad adventure together – without adult supervision – and did something great for Astoria (hahaha). The Goonies taught me that having an adventurous spirit was a cool thing coz cool stuff came out of it, and you got to have fun with your closest buddies. It also taught me that you need to have close buddies, otherwise you don’t get to do cool things. Real life equivalent was every time I went overseas looking for adventure.

FRIENDS

By far and away my favourite all-time TV show, although set in the 90s, I was still a kid when it debuted here so I’m counting it. Like The Goonies, Friends taught me that your friends are your family, so be tight with them. It also made me appreciate – and someday try to replicate – the mismatched dining chairs look. Friends also made me see that having mates from all walks of life was a good thing, coz there’s so much comedy gold to be found in differences of opinion, like in the episode when Ross was getting really annoyed at everyone for humouring Phoebe’s belief that a missing cat was the reincarnation of her mother. Real life equivalent is that none of my longtime friends work in the same industry as me, so when we all get together to bitch about work, we all sympathise with the generic “tough day, huh?”, but don’t know the exact ins and outs of each other’s jobs. That was a bad example. But now one of my friends actually lives in New York, so maybe she’s the real live equivalent to a Friends character now?

THE BREAKFAST CLUB

High school was sooooooooooooo not fun for me, but even the guys from The Breakfast Club made detention look like it was worth it. I never had any life-affirming moments like they did in this movie when I was in high school, or maybe I did but I was too far up my own ass in self-pity and teen angst to recognise it. The Breakfast Club made me see that someone recognises cliques, and how being in one makes you a supreme a-hole, and how sometimes, for a brief time, you don’t have to be the label people put on you and you can just be friends with whoever you want to be friends with. I don’t have a real live equivalent for this movie, but I still love it because it was well written and is one of my favourite movies. Oh, wait, I do have a real life equivalent, because today I am a basket case.

You know sometimes you wish life were like the movies or like the lives of people on TV? I kind of half believed it would be! And now here I am staring down the barrel of not 40 but maaaaaaan, what a rude awakening I’m getting! :P

 

My ovaries exploded

I’m not a die-hard fan of Bruno Mars. I’m not “in the red zone”, so to speak. And I’m not even pregnant. But this, ohhh lord, this clip!

See, some people need a sugar hit in the afternoon, but this is my sugar this afternoon. Check the expression on this kid’s face! Well done to Ellen for not cracking up laughing during his little performance!

Living all the days of your life

Maybe it’s because I’m a hundred thousand years old, maybe it’s because I’m sick of wasting time, maybe it’s because I keep looking for more and searching for more, but I’ve started actively looking for ways to improve my overall life. I’m more conscious of the time I spend procrastinating (which is a LOT, thanks Buzzfeed), because I don’t want to be wasting my time doing useless things. At the same time though, I don’t want to busy myself with simply being busy for the sake of it, and I’m more aware of quality downtime too.  I’ve also taken a good hard look at the exercise I do (or don’t do) and the food that I eat (I use the term “food” loosely), and I’m acutely aware of the fact that while I don’t feel the effects of my complete lack of pride in my fitness and health, I will soon, if I keep this up.

So when I wrote about SzeWing Yip’s services as a life coach at Intuitive CoachingI was interested in more than just promoting her business properly. I was looking for some kind of divine intervention.

AN OBJECTIVE PROFESSIONAL

I’d always been open to seeking the advice of an objective professional regarding how I should get my ass into gear and do stuff, but I always thought somewhere in the back of my mind that their services were only really reserved for people who had gone through a major life change or were seriously lost and floundering. Was I floundering? Are my wheels spinning? I suppose so, but what I got out of my time with SzeWing was … totally worth the time.

SzeWing operates her business from the Life & Balance Centre in Glebe, a cute little hub of like-minded practitioners who use the space to offer health and wellbeing services. SweWing herself is very bubbly and outgoing, has a lot to say, and has a lot of ideas about things she wants to do and what she wants to develop.  It’s very clear she’s passionate about her work as a life coach.  I’ve read somewhere (in a lot of articles of late, actually) that when a person is passionate about something it will show in their work, and this is SzeWing to a tee. She’s a dancer and a teacher and it’s obvious she’s a people person.

COACHING INTUITIVELY

I didn’t know what to expect when I went to meet SzeWing for the first time. She was dressed smartly (not like a banker) but casually (not like a uni student). Perhaps because I already pre-associated this to her, I was already assuming her to be the picture of someone who has her shit together. She looks it. She looks healthy (also in no small part to her dancing). I guess this is what you want in a person who’s made their career into helping others. Coz if they don’t look like they can help themselves …

A majority of Intuitive Coaching’s client base are in their 30s-50s, mainly women. Most of them are well-educated, upwardly mobile, professional.  Most of them are looking for “something more”. Ironically, SzeWing says a lot of her close female friends are in this age bracket to. Instantly, I’m impressed by this – to me, it shows that SzeWing is “of the people”: she can relate to anyone of any age.

During our session, we discussed my career (actually, she asked me about my career.  Actually, she asked me, “Tell me about you”, and then I launched into my career).  Without giving all the ins and outs of what I told her, I was basically just dumping all my niggling thoughts and doubts that had been swirling around in my brain into the session.  I really thought that SzeWing would turn around and say, “yes, you should follow your passion”, but she didn’t.  She told me that what I do now will help in the bigger picture of how my career will unfold. She used a mix of straight out pragmatic coaching techniques and even some Angel cards to communicate this to me.  I found this comforting, somehow.

PERCEPTION

One of the most poignant pieces of advice SzeWing gave was about perception. Because most of the session was about my career, she said my perception of my role needed to change, so I could be objective and look at the skills  I was gaining in the role, rather than thinking of my role as an all-encompassing career. I liked that. It made me see that there was a time for everything, and it helped me organise, albeit in my head, what I needed to focus on right now and when to know that I’d had my fill.

She also said during my angel reading that I need to give myself time to step away and think, perhaps take a holiday, or meditate, or do something. I am thinking she is talking about re-grouping or taking some time each day.  Not sure I can take the break I would really love to have right now (seriously wondering if I can convince my fiancee to sell all our stuff, pack it all in and chill on a beach in Bahia, Brazil for 6 months!), but since this session I’ve been acutely aware of how much time I take daily to clear my mind, get some exercise in and shake it off. As a result, I’ve taken steps to try to be more active. I’ve looked at jogging as a form of exercise and I’ve become better at even just stepping away from my desk at work. SzeWing was spot on though – meditation and clearing your mind is fast becoming an important part of my daily routine.

YOUR LIFE’S DIRECTION

The most striking piece of advice SzeWing gave, and which has pretty much remained embedded in my mind since my session, was about the difference between direction and goals, and how thinking of your life as a whole in terms of the direction you want to go in, rather than thinking of the goals you have to hit, you’ll be much better placed mentally and spiritually to be happy about the path your life is on. Going by goals may stop you from going further, and can limit you from other opportunities and experiences around you. Goals should be thought of as milestones, each milestone in line with your life’s direction. Your direction is a wider path than goals, so you can think of taking steps to keep you on your direction, rather than focussing on the steps as if they weren’t part of a bigger plan.  If someone had told me that after uni …

I felt really uplifted after my mini-session with SzeWing, particularly when she said everything I was doing career-wise was all joined together and it would all fall into place.  I felt more hopeful about my situation.

JUST KEEP GOING

Maybe because I’m more attuned to it right now but I’ve been picking up a lot of these helpful notes of late. I read something online regarding the phrase, “Just keep going”, when you’re feeling helpless or fading. Perhaps that person also got that from “Finding Nemo” (just keep swimming). But I think it ties in with SzeWing’s point above about direction. Just keep going in the direction of your life’s path. Just keep going …

Maybe it’s also because I’m in the middle of reading The Happiness Project that I am totally open to everything SzeWing has told me.  I find this complements my own exploration of personal wellbeing and happiness.

I’m still on that path, still striving daily to live a full life, but I’m glad that I can finally recognise that this is a much better way to live than only focussing on one area of life.  There are a lot of things I need to do and want to do, but now just remind myself about my life’s direction, and whether the choices that I’m making are in line with my direction. Which may or may not lead to the fridge door.