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

A soothing novel in twelve short paragraphs …

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

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

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

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

Fifth paragraph

Sixth paragraph

Seventh paragraph

Eighth paragraph

Ninth paragraph

Tenth paragraph

Eleventh paragraph

Twelfth paragraph

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

Lessons learnt from David Sedaris ….

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

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

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

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

Urgh, technology.

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

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

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

medium_6908080437

photo credit: fiddleoak via photopin cc

Breathe and Stop … and Breathe and Stop …

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

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

Gargoyle

photo credit: niznoz via photopin cc

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

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

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

ENTER AROMATHERAPY

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

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

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

WHAT IS AROMATHERAPY?

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

Our goodies on the table

Our goodies on the table

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

MAKING THE PRODUCTS

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

Essential oils used in the workshop

Essential oils used in the workshop

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

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

 

THE PRODUCTS WE MADE

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sze Wing Yip from Intuitive Coaching during her workshop.

Sze Wing Yip from Intuitive Coaching during her workshop.

Articumalationising

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

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

Written in a dark screening room with very little coffee.

I will refine and it will be brilliant.

 

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.

Maths

Conversation between me and my 15 year cousin yesterday:

Me: Come on, quick!
Him: I have homework
Me: I’ll help you. What is it?
Him: Maths
*Pause*
Me: Oh can’t help you

So it was me and his 9 year old sister who cleaned up the purple glitter we spilled all over her bedroom floor (another story, another time).

On the up side, I did get a homemade bracelet out of the visit. And I learnt my limit. Everything on his workbook page looked like code. Maths …

The Happiest Sushi People in St Leonards

800px-Western_Sushi

Today I went to get sushi from the little sushi shop (or hut, more like), near the Platform 9 and 3/4 tunnel near St Leonards station.  There are 4 people who operate the shop:

1. Head chef (I think). Fatherly figure. Wears glasses, always ready with a smile

2. Main lady behind counter. Quick, business-like, cheerful. Always ready with a smile

3. BBQ beef guy, who mans the BBQ beef station near the front window of the shop. Also wears glasses. Not so quick with the smiles but that’s probably because he’s so busy with this cooking and grilling and bbq’ing.

3. Other lady behind counter. Maaaaaan, this woman is cheery. Always, always, always ready with a smile. She is never NOT smiling.

I walk in dazed. I’ve spent the past 5 hours staring at my computer screen in the office, amending copy for things like bluetooth bracelets and discounted accommodation in Noosa. All I can think of is the unread emails in my inbox, the un-crossed-out items on my to-do list, and the end of the day. I could’ve been standing next to a giraffe, and I wouldn’t have noticed.

Cheery woman, all happy, pops up out of nowhere. No, not really. She popped into my line of vision. She had probably been standing there all arvo, it was the lunchtime rush after all.

Her: Hello hello!
Me, deadpan: Hey there.
Her: What can I get you today?

I’m scanning the sushi display and although I could smash a couple of salmon sushi thingys today, especially with the mayo on them I like, my eyes travel over the head of Cheery Lady and up to the board behind the counter. There’s ramen and udon and bibimbap and other dishes. The ramen looks tasty. I’m intrigued.

Me, to Cheery Lady: I think I’ll have the ramen with chicken?

All of a sudden, Main Lady and Head Chef appear at Cheery Lady’s side.  They look concerned.

Main Lady: Are you sure ramen?
Me: Ummm, yeh?
Cheery Lady: You don’t like spice, you say before. Ramen is spicy!
Me: Like, how spicy?
Main Lady: No, too spicy. What about udon?
Me: Ummm … ok

I feel a little defeated. I can’t believe I’m being denied my choice by food, no less! Spice, man! Spice is what gives variety to life, spice is great, there were 5 spicy women in Spice Girls who peppered my experience of the late 90s. What’s a bit of spice gonna do? Also, the image on the board looks  a m a z i n g ! 

Then, like a knight in a chef’s outfit, Head Chef says, What if I make the ramen less spicy?

I’m back on board. Main Lady nods wisely, Cheery Lady’s head nodding is much more enthusiastic.  I’m all for it. Load me up, I say bravely. I’m smiling as widely as Cheery Lady now.

My day’s looking brighter. I didn’t sit for 5 bloody hours only to have my lunchtime choice vetoed! Oh no, sir! The universe saw I wanted ramen, and the universe is delivering. The Universe, capital “U”, and all!

In less that 10 minutes, my ramen and noodles with chicken is delivered to me in a takeaway bowl so I can return, triumphant, back to the office to eat slurp soup and noodles at my desk like the hero I am, clearing my inbox whilst simultaneously dying on the inside.

Head Chef hands the bowl over like a proud chef handing over a meal he partially modified to appease a non-balls customer.  He says, If it’s still too spicy for you, just add a bit of hot water to it. 

I am so touched by this culinary gesture, that I thank you, thank you so much profusely to everyone in there, including the BBQ guy, who had nothing to do with my meal. Head Chef gives me a little chuckle and a wave.  Main Lady gives me an Enjoy! before I head out the door. One last look, and Cheery Lady is smiling and nodding intensely in my direction, as if to say, you’llloveityou’llloveityou’llloveityou’llloveit! 

Back at the office, I plop down in my seat and peel off the plastic lid. Steam rises from the bowl like a magical expectation. The soup is somewhat red in colour. Dear god, that’s the spice, right? The noodles are loopy and fat and sloppy. The chicken are logs of kastu joy. I’m ready.

The first slurp tells me, yep, I’m cool with this. Not spicy. The second slurp does the same. The third and the fourth, still nothing. I can’t believe this, I’m doing it! I’m really doing it!

I eagerly hack into my noodles. Yum yum yum, everything is all good. There’s a satisfying feeling in the pit of my belly that comes with hoovering down carbs, and it’s happening again with these noodles. I am in my happy place. I’m like Po from Kung Fu Panda when he’s eating. I’m smiling all over.

Then the spice hits me. Not all at once, but it had been building for a while. I try to deny it by slurping down more soup, more noodles, even charging in on the chicken which I had planned to eat halfway through my bowl, but the spice is still there, and it’s not going anywhere. Head Chef told me, f it’s still too spicy for you, just add a bit of hot water to it, but I’m already re-stamping my ass into my seat, and the kitchen is like, over there, so I don’t want to get up for the hot water.  I’m going to have to deal with the spice like a grown-up. I’m eating slower now, carefully, so as not to keel over from extreme spiciness.

Ten easy email replies, two medium-ish tasks and 45 minutes later, the bowl of ramen noodles is sitting half eaten to the side of my computer screen. The chicken pieces are gone, they are the only bits not affected by the spice invasion. I should’ve heeded Head Chef’s warning after all.

Later that afternoon, I head out the door to the 7Eleven to grab a Dare Iced Coffee and promise myself to get the udon noodles or the salmon sushi on Monday.

The staff warned me. At least they were nice enough to do that. I’ll go back just for their cheeriness!