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 …

Advertisements

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.

It’s all work ….

My favourite thing on Facebook that has nothing to do with my actual friends or my Facebook friends is Humans of New York. If I had a dollar for every time I thought, “why didn’t I think of doing something like that?”, I’d never have to think it coz that’s what I would be doing all day every day, going out into the world and meeting all kinds of people and finding their unique stories.

And Humans of New York have done it again. The picture and caption/explanation of the image(s) came up on my Facebook newsfeed and, wow:

Following your dreams is nothing but work

 

I love that. “… Following your dreams, successfully, is nothing but work”.

I really needed this right now.

Having a hard time seeing the forest from the trees, vocation-wise, because I thought I had worked past the “following your dreams” bit and was, you know, finally bloody following them.  But lately everything just seems HARD. Hard to work on what you love. Hard to be with who you love. Hard to do things outside of work to be a well-rounded person, someone you love.

This TED talk by Nigel Marsh is bookmarked on my laptop and I watch it every now and then to remind me that the idea of work/life balance is a bit of a weird one. It implies that you can have this neatly divided focus and time for work and for your life.  My favourite part of this talk is, ” … Being more balanced doesn’t mean dramatic upheaval in your life. With the smallest investment in the right places, you can radically transform the quality of your relationships and the quality of your life. Moreover, I think, it can transform society. Because if enough people do it, we can change society’s definition of success away from the moronically simplistic notion that the person with the most money when he dies wins, to a more thoughtful and balanced definition of what a life well lived looks like.”

I love this. CHANGING THE DEFINITION OF SUCCESS.

Work will always be work. It will not be about spending time in the sun with the husband in a five star resort by the pool, even if you are a five star resort reviewer who gets to take their husband on flights with them everywhere.  Coz you’re still going to have to file that story, speak to the management, get it through to your editor, ensure it gets read, ensure it doesn’t read like a dog wrote it.  It’s still work.

So Brandon Stanton from Humans of New York is definitely right.  There’s always work involved in following your dreams.  So now I know that this means that all that work better on something you believe in and is worth the effort, otherwise you are definitely not following your dream.

There is no inspirational meme on the interwebs right now that can succinctly mirror this idea, even if its an image of a sunrise or a young girl doing the “heart” sign with her hands or if you put a hipster filter over it.  I’m not even really sure if those do anything to inspire me anymore, because the urge to punch the screen sometimes becomes too strong.

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.

 

I was lost …

Reading through my notes from a play I reviewed but knew nothing about prior to watching it. In a moment of panic, I wrote, “I don’t have a damn clue what this play is about really, and I’ve been sitting here for 30 minutes”.

Turns out, as my notes show, I ended up really liking the bloody thing.

My brain power … sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s dead.

Some of my reviews are here, just an FYI.

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you!

happy

The start of the new year and although I’ve got a lot of goals to hit this year, I am happy – yes, there’s that word again – that I am beginning the year not a slovenly, drunken mess who got out of bed at 3pm after an all-night bender.  I feel fresh and in the zone.

So happy to be happy. So happy to be content.

Also, I took the Facebook app off my phone. Met up briefly with a buddy earlier and she said she did the same thing, prompting me to do it too. She said she already feels like she’s not wasting time on the phone checking her newsfeed. Brilliant, it’s amazing how just the simplest action can achieve so much. On the other hand, it’s scary how monumental this action is for me. Ha – Crackbook addict that I am.

Had the best day with friends at the beach a few weeks ago. My fiancee reminded me that our friends are our family, and that we’re blessed to have wonderful people in our lives. It was just a nice day out, a nice way to reaffirm the theory I believe will lead me towards a more meaningful life.  That I have to be happy to allow happiness into my life.  That gratitude is the key to being happy regardless of your circumstances. That you have to revel in the positive in your life to let more happiness in. That happiness doesn’t have to be elusive to you just because you’re not “successful” (in whatever defines success to you).

So I’m starting to feel a little better these days, knowing that I can allow myself to be happy even if there are still goals I want to hit.  I’m also finding (LOL “finding”, as if I’ve had all this time to digest this information and put it into practice, but in actual fact it’s just been the last two weeks. Although, what a great fortnight it’s been since I planted this into my brain) that allowing your default temperament to be set at “happy” doesn’t mean you’re deliriously ecstatic all the time.

But then I thought about why I wasn’t allowing myself to be “happy” lately and it was mostly because of career stuff.  I was associating my worth and my happiness so heavily against my career trajectory that I forgot that I can be happy AND still have career ambition.

I recently revisited an article on the Tiny Buddha site called 4 Myths about Doing What You Love for Work.  I think I read this at the time when I was questioning my career. I feel like I’ve already solved that mystery now, but now I’m grappling withhow to grow in my career without making work all-consuming.

The first point in the article talks about that old adage, “Do what you love and the money will follow”. I interpreted that as saying that because we associate so much of our career success on how much money it will generate for us, perhaps we need to redefine our idea of success, and make it more about  doing what we love, career-wise.  Instead, if you want a career in something you love doing, but it’s not financially lucrative, then success can be about how fulfilling the role is. I mean you might have to make up the finances in other areas or cut down on some things that don’t fit the budget (which we can all do), but you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you are doing something worthwhile with your life.

So this is how I’m going to view my career. How personally fulfilling it is for me and how much of my talents I am using to make myself useful.

I tried for so many years to stick to New Years resolutions but I don’t think I’m going to make a list this year. This time, it’s not so much a New Years resolution – it’s a life-changer. I’m going to do things that are good for me, things that benefit me. If it won’t benefit me in the long run or won’t be useful to me or anyone around me, then I’m not going to bother with it.

Living life happy! 🙂

have less

My beef with TED and other things I’m sure most people have no problem with …

I’ve been listening to TED talks a lot lately, desperately trying to find life advice so that I can live a more meaningful existence, and I love it. Totally.  I love it.

I can’t remember who said these quotes, but they’re on the site (search under happiness) and I had to make a note of them:

It’s particularly important that you never put the quality of your life in a commercial corporation.

And:

Happiness is not about having what you want. Happiness is about wanting what you have i.e. gratitude.

I totally paraphrased that last one. Sorry.

But they’re GOOD pieces of advice, right? Never put the quality of your life in a commercial corporation. I think I miss-quoted that one, it sounds a little wrong, but what I got out of that talk was that finding happiness in a corporate workplace is NOT going to happen, not true happiness you will be proud of on your deathbed, anyway. Corporations are developed to make money and deliver a product or service, and that is it. It will not hold you when you are sick, it will be kiss you goodnight, it will not pay for your tombstone.  So it’s up to US to make our lives outside of work more meaningful, or else let go of thinking money and happiness can mix. Coz true happiness doesn’t come from the money you make. But at the same time, you have to make money to pay for bills, care for your family, and pretty much survive. So while you can’t shirk off the responsibilities of a day job, you can still live your life with happiness.

The last quote was about gratitude. Gratitude gratitude gratitude. I am thankful now more than ever. I can see clearly now – the greed has gone.

But the thing that gets me about TED and the talks I am drawn to (mainly about happiness and finding a work-life balance) is that they’re all given by dudes (yeh mostly dudes, the ones I’ve listened to) who are CEOs of companies and who decided to downshift their lives after going hell for leather in their careers. So they, for the most part, had the means to take it easy for a while because they had amassed all these wealth from their CEO salaries.

But what about regular people? I want the TED site to feature the same topic but given but someone who isn’t a CEO and who can give me real life examples and tips on how to live like that.

How AWESOME would that be??

Still holding what I’ve heard from the site close to my noggin though, because even I am nowhere in the same stratosphere, salary-wise, as the speakers, I still find the talks insightful and inspiring.

🙂

 

Warm and fuzzy feelings …

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and if not jolly, then at least the season to look at your life and find out what you can do to make yourself jolly. The pursuit of happiness and all of that.  And the introspective look at happiness comes around like a ton of bricks from about late November and doesn’t fully leave the system (my system, anyway) until about late February of the New Year.

Last year, or maybe it was the year before, I was obsessed with a single dad from the USA who uploaded clips of his eldest daughter, then 6, singing heartfelt pop songs while he accompanied her on the guitar.  The clips got funnier and cuter and he eventually reined in his then 2 year old daughter too.  The result?  An adorable channel on YouTube called RealityChangers, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t watch a clip from them every morning before I got ready for work and every night before I went to bed.

OBSESSED.  So I just want to say to Jorge Narvaez, you saved me from thinking dudes were horrible people and you made me see, at a time in my life when all I met were horrible dudes, that there were good decent men out there!

In the past couple of months, I’ve been following Jessica Shyba from mommasgonecity.com and her endearing Instagram pics of her youngest son Beau napping with the newest member of their family, rescue pup Theo.  I cannot get over how cute they are, and they both look so deliciously comfortable cuddling together that I can almost smell the baby powder in the pics (weird, I know, but it’s a comforting smell. Like freshly washed clothes and cinnamon. Yeh, I am venturing into “these are a few of my favourite things” territory. Bear with me).

Again, OBSESSED. Looking at these images reminds me that there is life outside of deadlines, career, work and the gloomy insides of an office. And that life is the real deal, and when we’re all old and grey, that life is the one we’re going to look back on.  Not the processes we developed for our teams.  Not the money we saved our employer.  Not even the money we earned (although this, I admit, is relative. If you earn enough, you’re fine. But you have to be good with what “enough” means).

I’ve been feeling pretty out-of-sorts lately and this whole pursuit of happiness got me thinking about what I was doing every day, the relationships I have and how I’ve nurtured them (or not, as is sometimes the case), and if I was actually happy.  If I was doing OK, you know what I mean?

And then I found Shawn Achor via the TED site, and this talk about happiness.  In a nutshell, he said (and I’m sorry if I’m misquoting):

If happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there. What we’ve done is we’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society. And that’s because we think we have to be successful, then we’ll be happier

And this was quite frankly is the best kernel of wisdom I’ve heard in a very very very very long time.  I’m now aware of my behaviour and way of thinking, in that for a very long time and for a while to go, I have believed that in order to be happy, I have to accomplish something. Hit a goal, become something else, prove to myself or someone that I am worthy of happiness.  But now I see that this is getting me nowhere, so I have decided now that I don’t need to WAIT for something “good’ to happen to me to allow myself to be happy.  I have to be happy to let good happen to me.

BRILLIANT!

The presentation offers advice for people seeking a happy state of being, and this one below (which I pulled from a Huffington Post article), really resonated with me:

Focus On The Positive

Write for two minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours.  This is a strategy to help transform you from a task-based thinker, to a meaning based thinker who scans the world for meaning instead of endless to-dos. This dramatically increases work happiness.

Oh my god. Couldn’t even begin to tell you how enjoyable writing daily for 2 minutes about something awesome that happened to me that day. I’d bump it up to 10 minutes and tell you how I felt before, during and after the event. Why this is genius?!?!!?

So from now on it’s more youtube clips of Jorge and his girls singing “Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros.  It’s more revelling in the totes adorbs images of Theo and Beau.

It’s more spending quality time with my fiancée, whom I did agree to spend the rest of my life with, so it might as well be a meaningful one.

It’s more reaching out to my family a little more, and not just the odd occasional call to my mother on my lunchbreak because I have a spare moment (horrible, right?).

It’s more checking in on my friends every once in a while, who are just as fed up and busy as I am.

I’m trying to be better, and every year brings new challenges, but this one, to be appreciative and happy with your life, I think this one could be the one that sticks.

heart

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:

Inspiration never gets old …

Reviewed a play on Thursday night called The Westlands at the Riverside Theatres in Parramatta and aside from it being incredibly moving (for me, anyway), it was also really inspiring to be in the vicinity of people (the cast and crew) who have such a love for artistic endeavours and are creating and promoting and producing these pieces for us all to enjoy and be moved by.

Whenever I feel disheartened by the mundane and ordinary aspects of my life, I remind myself that there are people out in the world who are creative, motivational, entrepreneurial, “glass half full” and big picture types who don’t let the little things in their lives get in the way of something bigger than themselves.  They live as creators rather than consumers and I love that there are people like that to aspire to.

There's always something more you can do.

There’s always something more you can do.