If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to see it, do you hear the sound it makes?

I know I would still be writing. And I would still be reading out loud. I think that if you are any kind of an artist, then validation is just sort of… it can be a result, but you’re going to do the work anyway. Because you’re just wired that way. It’s so engrained, it’s such a part of your personality that you don’t just stop doing it. Eventually I’ll retire on some level, eventually no one will want to buy my books or a ticket to see me read, it’s inevitable that’s going to happen. Uhuhuhuh fake cries But it won’t stop me from writing. I’ll just write about how sad I am all the time.

– David Sedaris on whether he’d persevere as a writer without validation.

If a tree falls in the woods, do you hear the sound it makes?  If you write and write and write but don’t get the feedback or recognition you need to push on, does it matter?

Yes and no.  I’d write anyway, just because it’s the only way I can organise my thoughts and when it’s quiet, I enjoy writing just for myself. I enjoy the tap-tap-tapping on a keyboard, I enjoy writing on a thick pad of paper and I enjoy the solitude writing gives me.

On the flipside, I don’t enjoy the solitude when all I hear are the voices in my head. If I write for myself, sometimes it feels selfish if I’m the only one getting anything out of it.  I would prefer if my writing was doing something for someone.  Probably because it’s been drilled into us in school and uni and whatever that if you love something, you should find a way to share it with the world.

I see how that works, but also … does it take the fun out of what you love, if you put a monetary value on it?

I love to write, but sometimes it doesn’t come easy. Right now I’m on fire, but I’m emoting and I feel like because this is just me on a rant, it doesn’t matter what I write.  I had a previous role where the writing tasks were draining, so much so that one Easter long weekend break I went home alone (while my husband and friends went out for a post-work drink), polished off a bottle of wine by myself, ate a wheel of blue cheese by myself and fell asleep in front of the TV watching old episodes of 30 Rock.  My husband came home and found me passed out on the couch like a chick flick cliche.

It was one of the worst nights of my life, and it was the beginning of the end for me with that role.

Ironically, though, I wrote about that experience in a long and frustrated entry in my journal the next day.

I decided I would write because I love it, and to stop focussing on the money and the recognition.  There is so much around making what you love the thing that you do for a living. It is hard work … but it has to be worth the hard work.  If you come home at the end of the day and the hard work just doesn’t seem rewarding anymore, then … what’s the point?

But writing is different. It’s kind of like a habit now. I’ve come so far from being someone who denied herself the right to finally embrace my love of writing, that I can’t abandon it now.  I wrote for myself before, but now I feel like I can share that with others.

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to see it, does it make a sound?  Yeh of course it does. The reality is, a tree dropped from an upright position and crashed to the ground, and yeh, that makes a loud sound.  Whether anyone was around to witness it or not is irrelevant.

I want to make a sound with my writing though. I want people to hear the crash as a piece or post or article hits the ground.  I want people to come running into the forest to check out the noise, “What was that? Who did that?”.  They don’t need to be rich people. Or beautiful people. Or important people. Because I’m not one of those people.

So I’ve dropped something, which has taken me years to put together as it’s been germinating in my head for a long time.  I’ve finally knocked that tree down.

http://mylocalworld.com.au/

From my welcome note on my homepage:

Welcome to MY LOCAL WORLD, which I hope will soon become part of YOUR local world 🙂 Get outside the world you live in, and discover multicultural experiences right here in your own home.

This is about bringing the world to you, and in the process, discovering that it is, in fact, a small world, after all.

I’d be delighted if you could check out the tiny noise I’ve made. Maybe as more people join you in the forest, the sound, in hindsight, will just grow louder …

The only thing you need for a trip is curiosity

Travel. But not just to “exotic” places.

You’ve got a 9-5′er.
You’ve got kids.
You’ve got debt.
You’ve got no money, seriously.
You’ve got an expired passport.

What you’ve got are excuses.

A walk beyond your front door is travel. The only thing you need for a trip is curiosity.

– Something I read off the Matador Network site

In 2009, I was debt-ridden and living back home with the parental unit (thanks Mum! xxx). While friends and family were traipsing the globe having wild adventures, I was stuck in Sydney shovelling money onto my credit card.

I could have lived like a hermit, but I chose instead to discover all the cultural places, food and events that Sydney had to offer, recreating a kind of mini world adventure in my own city. It’s become the way I explore my city now, and finally I am getting serious about it and sharing these amazing finds via a new blog, MY LOCAL WORLD. It’s not ready (yet), but it’s coming, and I can’t wait to see what else is out there, and discover more places with more people!

If you have any suggestions or contacts for anyone wanting to showcase their cultural cuisine, event or spaces, feel free to contact me here or at hello@maysays.com xxx

My Local World ... coming soon to YOUR local world xxx

My Local World … coming soon to YOUR local world xxx

Inspirational Individual – Bill Odenkirk

So Bill Odenkirk, according to Wikipedia, is this kind of amazing:

He is the younger brother of American comedian Bob Odenkirk, and worked as a writer, producer and actor on sketch comedy TV show Mr. Show with Bob and David, which featured his brother as co-star. Odenkirk went on to write for Tenacious D and Futurama. He has written and executive produced episodes of The Simpsons. He holds a PhD in Inorganic chemistry from the University of Chicago. He was a co-inventor of 2,2′-Bis(2-indenyl) biphenyl.

Not that being the “younger brother of American comedian Bob Odenkirk” makes less of the amazing individual he already is, but it says a lot about the Odenkirk family stock that they can produce two go-getter guys, yes?

And what kind of brain writes for The Simpsons and co-invents something in the field of Inorganic chemistry? A legend, that’s what kind of brain.  I didn’t even know what Inorganic chemistry was, I had to look it up and now that I’ve looked it up I’m still in the dark about it.

Bill Odenkirk, you’re awesome. I’m just reading the guy’s bio again and he has a PhD, for crying out loud. I had to motivate myself to put on eyeliner this morning, such is the nature of my ambition levels today …

A never-ending challenge …

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been this really overly anxious person.  I just put it down to being a “stress-head” or “overthinking things” and I have just learnt to live with it, like it was just one of my character traits.

But I have this weird (OK – wrong) habit.  This too has been with me since I was a kid, and probably cropped up around the time I was getting anxious about … everything.

I could lose hours playing with my hair

I pick at my hair. I play with it. I split the ends. I watch TV and I twirl it around my fingers. In school, I would sit at my desk doing my homework, and sometimes the answers would flow from me like magic, but in the times where I was stumped, I would sit there and pick at my hair. I could lose hours sitting there, picking and playing with it. Studying for maths exams was hell, not just because maths was my worst subject, but because I was so bloody anxious about not being good at it that to avoid facing the heartache of learning trigonometry I just … picked at my hair instead.

When I was bored, I picked at my hair.

When I was sad, I picked at my hair.

When I was angry, I picked at my hair. Angrily.

By the time I left school at aged 17, I could no longer tie my hair up in a ponytail.  The sides were sparse, little sprouty baby hairs or something were the only things left.

I was mortified. I don’t know why my friends never noticed it, and I especially don’t know why my boyfriend at the time didn’t notice it. But I was glad he wasn’t the “run my fingers through your hair” kind of person, so I was cool with that.  Similarly, I was cool that my friends at the time were not, “let’s give each other makeovers and braid each other’s hair” kind of folks, either.

Coping and failing, but succeeding, sometimes … 

For the longest time, I’m talking like all through uni and after graduation, I tried to stop my “bad habit”.  I went to a hypnotherapy woman, and while that worked for a little period of time, it was so expensive I stopped.  She did, however, give me some tools which I still try to implement today, like keeping your hands busy and visualising what I would look like with a full, healthy head of hair.

Sometimes, I would be OK.  I could go months without an urge to touch my hair at all, except to comb it.  I even resorted to cutting it really short, so that I had no choice but to NOT play with my hair, and that worked too.  When the hair grew out, I was able to tie it up and back, and there aren’t many people out there today who know the sheer joy of being able to do that, after years of feeling like a pariah because you just couldn’t do simple things like tie your hair up when you go to the gym.

During the really bad times I would lose myself for hours and I would arise from my clumped over position and I’d have picked at the sides of my scalp in a weird non-frenzy, because it wasn’t done in this frenetic way, it was done calmly like I was doing delicate cross-stitching.

To this day, I have never tied my hair up with the use of serious bobby pins. But at least I can tie it up.

It is what it is

A couple of months ago I saw this youtube clip about Becky, who has Trichotillomania. And I holy crapped myself because I read up about her and her condition and I was … floored.

Because there was someone like me out there who has had to deal with crap pretty much all her life, and she was so open with sharing her story to the world.

Something about Becky and her story clicked in me, and I decided that I wasn’t going to ignore this in myself anymore, and I was going to acknowledge that this was something I NEEDED HELP with, so I am seeking it now.  Re-phrase that, I have sought it. I have good days and bad days, lately I have been OK, not great.

Good and bad days

Some days I am great – I use the tools I’ve been given to combat my urges and keep me out of “danger zones” (i.e. I’ supposed to be mindful of where my hands are on the steering wheel while I’m at a traffic light, as I tend to zone out and pick and pick and pick …).

Some days I am horrible. When I am stressed about a deadline,  or if I am finding something hard to write (I’m also a freelance writer, which makes me much more introspective and prone to overthink everything), I have really bad days.  When I get down on myself, then it’s over.

But I accept now that this is something I need to work on daily, because it’s not a thing I can beat entirely, but it’s a trait I have to understand – or it will beat me entirely.

I think taking the stigma out of mental health is so so so important, because many times – ok, all the bloody time, I feel like I am fighting this alone.  And it’s yes, yes, it’s my battle to fight, but it would be nice to have support, you know?  In Australia, in NSW anyway, there are no Trichotillomania support groups.  There are online tools and they are U.S-based, but the support of everyday folk to even take the sting out of it would be so lovely.

HatDay_CMYK

Hat Day is an event run by Australian Rotary Health, and it happening this Friday 10 October 2014 to coincide with World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Week.

You can participate by wearing a hat (everyone loves hats!) and donating to research.

It’s important to support mental health awareness and research because everyone, at some point, is touched by it in some way. Hard facts:

  • 1 in 5 people will suffer a mental illness this year.
  • The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020 mental illness will be the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death in first world countries.
  • Every Australian will know a family member, work colleague or friend who will experience some form of mental health condition.
  • Mental disorders are the leading cause of sickness absence and long-term work incapacity.
  • The annual cost of mental illness in Australia has been estimated at $20 billion, includes the cost of lost productivity and labour force participation
  • Nearly 50% of all Australians experience at least one episode of mental ill health in our lives

If that doesn’t say a lot the state of mental health in Australia, well … read those again and get back to me. ONE IN FIVE.

How you can help

Visit www.hatday.com.au to register a Hat Day FUNdraiser event, and invite your friends, family and colleagues to join in and to donate generously on your fundraising page.

Follow Hat Day 
Facebook – www.facebook.com.au/hatdayevent
Twitter – @hatday
Hashtag for instagram, twitter and facebook – #hatday14.

If you or someone you know is in need of counselling, contact Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 or Lifeline: 13 11 14

The path to fame and fortune isn’t paved with gold and inspirational memes

Maybe because I’ve seen so many of them, maybe because I no longer connect with them, I dunno, but I know that those inspirational memes like this:

From photo credit: symphony of love via photopin cc

Photo credit: symphony of love via photopin cc

Or this:

Photo credit: deeplifequotes via photopin cc

Photo credit: deeplifequotes via photopin cc

…no longer have that strong an effect on me.

OK, so the last one was nice.

But these inspirational memes do very little by way of giving me tools to overcome difficulties, or show me how someone aspirational has overcome whatever challenge he or she had.

I love when Hollywood stars come out with really insightful things to say. Viola Davis was recently featured in a Vulture article called Viola Davis’s 14-Step Guide to Happiness and the article said this about her thoughts on fear and failure: 

“Nobody tells you about failure,” Davis argues. “People always talk about winning, vision boards, getting what you want. People also don’t talk about fear. It’s always keeping fear at bay. Squelching it. Throwing it away. I’ve embraced fear and failure as a part of my success. I understand that it’s part of the grand continuum of life. I’ve been through it all. Breakups, heartache, and I’ve lost a parent already. So now I get it at this age, I get that that is it. That life literally is what you make it.”

I love that she says that fear and failure form her journey to success.  A lot of the time whenever I read about someone who’s achieved a lot in their lives, it’s always as if they’ve had clarity the whole way, they never wavered, they had this unyielding passion and tunnel vision attitude to success.

Which is great for them, but what if you don’t work like that? What if your idea of success is very different to the more traditional notions of success? What if success doesn’t mean fame but more a recognition of a job well done and recognition that you’re a thought leader or expert in your field?  What if success doesn’t mean riches but is more along the lines of comfort and not excess?  What if success means not reaching goal after goal and being disheartened after each goal is reached, but rather living through your life’s direction (I learnt this last idea from Sze Wing Yip, who told me that living a life based on your path and journey rather than goals was a better way to live – totally paraphrasing, but I’ve lived by it since she told me this)?

So Viola Davis’ article really got to me, it means that fear and failure are part of my journey to live my life’s direction, and as long as I keep reminding myself of what that is (so that I’m always asking, “what is the purpose of this?”) then I should be fine.

The pot calling the kettle fat

Fat like a wombat

My previous post was balls-out about empowerment and not caving to society’s pressures to be a certain ideal.

Today, I realise I am not taking care of myself, and while I don’t want to look like a Hollywood doll churned out by the Plastic Surgery Machine, I also don’t want to look like I can’t be fucked doing anything about my health and wellbeing.

See that?  Even that phrase, “I don’t want to look like”.  Now I’ve outed myself, because the kicker is that the reason I want to get my health back on track is not solely because I want to live well and feel well and appreciate my health and my life and the world, it’s because I’m starting to look gross.

Urrrgh.

So I’m just as superficial as everyone else. Bleccccccccccccccch.  I sent a msg to the boy about how I look like a wombat.  A round ball of no discernable shape. Cute as they are, they are just … round. I don’t want to be a wombat.

I’ve also tried, tried and tried and tried again, to get up early to get my writing done and about 90% of the time so far I have failed, failed failed.

I keep telling myself, “If you want to stop starting from scratch, then stop giving up“.

So I’ve failed. Well, fuck it. I’m gonna keep failing untill I don’t fail anymore. Which I WILL DO. I will get there. I have to be less of a “it’s all over” type of person.

And so … this leads me to lunch. Healthy salad it is, then …

Trying to be a morning person …

… but it’s so damn hard!

My bed feels like a cloud

It even smells like sleep (in a good way)

My boy snores in bed next to me, so that just makes me not want to get up. How am I supposed to get up when someone else isn’t. Ironically, he gets up before me. Fail on me.

I go to bed at like, 2am most nights (lol, nights) so I’m phuckn buggered when it’s normal person morning time

I need ACTUAL FOOLPROOF TIPS for becoming a morning person.

Step one, sleep earlier the night before.  I geddit.

Impostor Syndrome

Sometimes I feel like I suffer from Impostor Syndromeand I feel all, “I don’t know how I got here and it must be some sort of stars in weird alignment phenomenon”.

And then sometimes I take on the advice of pop psychologists and just tell myself to fake it till I make it. I repeat it to myself like a mantra. Dream, believe, achieve, succeed.

And these two are such opposing theories that it makes me want to lie down, take a nap, get up, eat some Cookies and Cream ice cream (has to be the Connoisseur brand), watch 4 hours of Friends, and then go back to bed again.

In my heart of hearts, though, I believe you are who you say you are. I don’t want to think of myself as an impostor.

I just don’t want to live life like this:

So close, yet so so so so far …

I feel like I’m in high school or uni all over again. Full-time work and full-time worry makes me a stressy stressy lady.

I’m a week away from three weeks off and I feel like this should be the home stretch, but it feels like a loooong stretch of home stretch. Like that final semester of university when everything seems 6 times harder. Or the quarter of a quarter tank of petrol you have left when you’re 4 traffic lights from home.

And then I ate two chicken sticks and a packet of noodles for dinner. But that’s Future Me’s problem. And I’m hoping it’s a distant Future Me.

Urrrgggghhhh

Urrrgggghhhh