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 …

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The one where the long weekend becomes like this thing where I start from scratch & stuff

Image by By Lou Levit from Unsplash website

Image by By Lou Levit from Unsplash

It happens every year. A long weekend rolls around and I have to look at it as the first – and last! – time I reset, re-evaluate and basically get my shit together.  This year was no different.  In fact, this year was worse, coz I feel like at the age of *mumblemumblemumble* I should have my shit together.  So I made the following promises to myself on Thursday morning:

  1. To clean the kitchen table, A.K.A the dumping ground for all unread mail, brochures, receipts that I wanted to keep and random magazines I have been meaning to read (I don’t know why, but I have been holding on to TWO issues of Peninsula Living.  I’m not even from the Northern Beaches originally).
  2. To do aaaaall my laundry and get rid of all the clothes I no longer wear and head on down with all my good-but-unloved clothing to the local Lifeline.
  3. To catch up and clear my to-do list for my Maysays stuff.  All unwritten articles so I’m ahead.  All unread emails so I’m aware.  Lists, plans and ideas to action.
  4. To get really stuck into building up on my new site My Local World so it doesn’t feel like I’m living in a fantasy land and this will only be of benefit for me.

Did I do any of these things over the long weekend? Yes and no.  I did a lot of no. 3, which was good and really helped get me into actual working week mode for the short week ahead.  I partially did no. 2 because I needed clean undies and I was also wondering where a certain white shirt had gone and I found it somewhere in the depths of my laundry pile so I cleaned all those things out of necessity more than anything.  I’m about to do no. 4. I did a bit of no. 1 as the hubs and I were catching up on Empire (I was channelling Cookie whilst doing that task).

But I don’t feel like I changed the course of my life in four days, the way I think I will every year after the Easter break.  This break means more to me in this way than the start of a new year.  Maybe because there’s so much more at stake at the start of the year, and by the time Easter rolls around you’ve already got 3 months under your belt to assess how this year will go if you continue to travel the way you do.

I feel OK. I feel like at least it was like years ago when I really didn’t know what to do with myself.  At least now I have goals. Even if they are just based predominantly on domestic chores.

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

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.

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.

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.

 

The longest Thursday ever in the history of long Thursdays …

Coz everyone needs a little Tina and Jimmy to brighten up their week. I miss 30 Rock (even though I can watch the whole series at home at any given time) and I don’t get to watch full eps of Jimmy Fallon (due to you know, geography and such).

A day without laughter is a day wasted.

Going to the chapel and I’m going to go broke …

Have possibly booked date for wedding reception.

I guess that’s the beginning, really, of all the wedding bru-ha-ha that follows?  Ironic, coz I got engaged MID LAST YEAR but my bretrothed and I have been sitting on our merry little asses trying to deny the impending financial nightmare that comes with celebrating a commitment to have and to hold as long as we both shall live.

I do NOT want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on this wedding. But it can’t be helped, it seems, because every time I make an enquiry about booking something or other, and I stick the word “wedding”, in the sentence, the price goes up by A THOUSAND PERCENT.

Here’s what I’m finding whilst organising the supposed happiest day of my life:

  • Pictures of wedding dresses on wedding dress models online or in those wedding magazines are HORRIFIC. All shiny and weird, like a car. Pictures of brides on their wedding day, regardless of style (or price) of dress? Beautiful. Can’t they make catalogues of actual women on their wedding day wearing their dresses?
  • The wedding dresses I have liked are very expensive. Unless this dress also transforms into an automobile post party, I don’t like these prices at all 😦
  • I’ve seen fake cakes people can buy for just their wedding photos. Fake cakes?!?!?!
  • Some venues charge extra for little things like, ohhh I dunno, a knife to cut the wedding cake with. And AV systems. Waaaaaaah!

The happiest day will be when it’s all paid for. Paid FOR, not paid off.

Whilst I am loving being engaged and looking forward to being married, I am not loving this planning the wedding part. In fact, I am going on record as saying I am not going to Bridezilla my wedding. I’m going to Bridepoohpooh it!