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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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.

 

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!

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 …

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

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

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.

My, Haven’t You Grown …

I'm a big kid now, and I just have to accept it. Image taken from http://weknowmemes.com/2013/03/growing-up-sucks/

I’m a big kid now, and I just have to accept it. Image taken from http://weknowmemes.com/2013/03/growing-up-sucks/

Had an epiphany the other day that I am, despite all evidence that may show otherwise, a GROWN-UP.

The fact that I’m calling my adulthood being a “grown-up” is reason for me to believe that I still haven’t really wrapped my late-blooming head around that fact. I should’ve probably stopped being in awe of this the first time I moved out. Or the time I turned 21. Or the time my friends and family members started gettin’ hitched and having kids etc etc.

But nope, I stil kind of think I haven’t reached full-on, hardcore adulthood yet.

So when – and how – did my epiphany hit?

My boyfriend, who is more like my favourite person in the whole world, confirmed he wanted to put up with me till his dying days, knelt in the rain and pulled out a piece of bling  we are now looking to get insured and appraised. I cried. He cried. I joyfully announced it to random people walking past. They congratulated us.

But that’s not when my epiphany hit. It hit when I got home to call the parentals. I looked down at my left hand and the grin grew and grew. Then I noticed my right hand and saw the $3 ring I bought on sale at Lovisa. It was shaped like a skull. It was supposed to look like silver but bits of not silver (I want to say copper?) were showing through. It looked liked a teenager could wear this ring.

It looked like the complete opposite of what my new ring was and what it represented.

I felt like such a fool, like one of those people you see who could really rock a sophisticated outfit but just end up wearing shit from Supre coz they read too many trashy mags and watch too much reality TV.  Then I realised I was probably doing a bit of self-sabotage in this area anyway.

Like the way I come home at the end of every day and do next to no cleaning up, not even a little bit, coz I still act as if I live with the parentals and the dishes will clean themselves, somehow. Hell, I paid for the washing detergent and I bought the plates. I should be able to look after them.

Or the way the inside car handle on the driver’s side of my car snapped and I still haven’t gotten around to fixing it (or rather, organising for someone else to fix it). I paid that car off and it was the best feeling when I got rid of my biggest debt – I should be able to keep that momentum going and put a little love into my car.

Or the way I decided, when I was quite comfortable in an old job, to throw it all in and follow my heart.  It takes courage to change career paths and I did it.  The development has been slow and there is still so much I want to achieve and learn, but I did it.  But I don’t think I give myself enough credit for this move. In fact, if anything, I should use this and build on it too.

I feel like a fraud, like I don’t know if I am a grown-up or not. Like that episode when Monica turns 30 and she completely stuffs up her thank-you speech at her birthday. Old enough to be a thirty year old, but too stupid to do with class.

That’s how I feel like I’m living my whole life!

Ahhhh, the getting of wisdom comes with age, right?

In a little (long) while, I will be part of something bigger than just me. And that’s the most grown-up I’ll ever be. Until a third wheel comes along. But I’m definitely not grown-up enough for that.