Things I love Thursday


Day 72

13th March, 2014

Yay! There has been such a lot to love this week:

Sitting under a grand old tree and looking our over the Brown Brothers Winery as my nephew married his sweetheart; lots of awesome dancing and wine tasting ensued! road trip with my other nephew and his girl ~ with way too many McDonalds pit stops! celebrating my adorable grandson’s first year with much pirate goodness and shenanigans; freshly baked scones and coffee for morning tea with my beautiful nieces and seriously cute great nephew; finding a Uniqlo pop up store in Swanston Street and loving it! dancing with my sweet husband and only having eyes for each other; lots of walking and thinking and writing and thinking; lazy Sunday mornings; uncovering some hidden feelings and inspiration through Desire mapping…with Danielle LaPorte; sinking into a hot bubble bath; lots of yummy Japanese food at Ajisen Ramen; feeling a bit of afternoon bliss with a hot stone massage; a bit of a pizza and Weiss Cards night with a friend; reading late into the night; and being kind and loving it!

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.”
― Alfred Tennyson



The definition of insanity


DAY 53

22nd February, 2014

I had to wonder why I was here.

Here, at the table, having the same conversation, with the same friend about the same thing. The same conversation that we have been having for nearly four years.

Yep – you have that right. Four years!

Insane right? Well maybe.

What do they say the definition of insanity is? Doing exactly the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome? Well here I was, asking my friend to see what I see every day. She is an extremely talented artist. Her work is quirky, dark and seriously awesome. So many people love her work. But she doesn’t see it. And here I was telling her the same thing…doing the same thing, and expecting a different outcome.

I had to wonder why she was in my life. I believe that people can come into your life, not only because they need you, but because you need them. You each have lessons to learn from each other. Ever had that weird scenario where it seems everyone you come across has the same stuff going on? Often it’s because you are the one who needs to change. Not them. The lesson isn’t about them, it’s about you. Surrounded by emotional vampires? Then perhaps the lesson is about you valuing yourself and your time and learning to say no.

So perhaps this situation wasn’t about what my friend wasn’t seeing. Maybe this was about what I wasn’t seeing?

Whenever I need to clear my head and think I either go for a walk to the beach, or I put on some loud music and dance. In this instance I headed down to the beach. There is a little old park bench I like to sit on, that has a great view of the city across Port Phillip Bay. Sitting there in the sun, listening to the waves lap up against the moored yachts, I pondered the facts.

My friend is a talented visual artist who is afraid of following her dreams. So she clings to the devil she knows. It’s something I totally understand, having been a single mother for a while an needed to pay the bills and feed my children. But denying her passion visibly eats away at her and almost every week she looks ragged or falls sick. Incredibly sick. It’s as if you can see her soul crying out to be released. The pain of her choice is etched into her skin, the fear of taking a risk on her ability as an artist, sits like a dark phantom behind her eyes. Whenever she has some time off, or a weekend where she has spent the time drawing and painting, it’s as if she transforms; her smile dazzles, her energy lifts and you literally see her breathe again.

As her friend, I don’t know what to do. I no longer know what to say to her and I am at a loss as to how to help her.

So what am I missing here?

Sitting on that bench, it didn’t take long to realise that I am a reflection of my friend. Perhaps not in all ways, but in some.

The very things that I have been trying to tell her, are perhaps the very things that I needed to hear myself.

It is no coincidence that I am surrounded by artists, film makers, writers, dancers and actors. Over the years I have left behind many of my artistic passions and pursuits for a steady income, and a professional career. Have I died a little? Maybe. Have I been afraid to follow my artistic dreams. Of course. And it has made me sick at times; cemented the fear and the pain in my heart. It’s not that I don’t love my day job. I do. But I have forgotten what it is like to create another world with words and to take people on a journey across my universe.

Until I started the DBM project, I hadn’t written a story or a poem for over 25 years. That’s a very long time for a writer to stay silent. It’s a lot of stories to keep buried beneath my skin. It is, quite simply, the very definition of insanity.

That day sitting on the park bench looking at the view of the city and the bay feeding into the sea beyond, I made a promise to myself. That I would listen to my gut and be the writer I have always been.

That was Christmas Eve 2013. A week later, on New Years Eve I started to write again. The Dead Before Midnight Project was born.

I’m still not sure how to help my friend, but I think I am a much better friend to her as the writer I always meant to be.

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”
― Vincent van Gogh

Leaving the land of the walking dead


I used to work for an organisation that one of my dear friends referred to as the ‘land of the walking dead’. No one looked happy. No one. People wandered the corridors looking lost, in their grey corporate suits, shuffling papers for 8 – 10 hours a day. They sat in their cramped little cubicles, at their grey desks barely speaking to each other, heads down, bum up, endlessly typing up yet another corporate policy. I’m sure you could see their spirits slowly being sucked out through their ears and up into the air conditioning. Even the staff room which was located at the bottom of the building was referred to as ‘the dungeon’.

It was hard to imagine anything better when you were surrounded by this level of living death. I have often wondered, if I hadn’t had some amazing friends on the outside, how would I have escaped? I’m not sure I would have realised what kind of culture I was working in every day if not for them.

Realising that you are born to fly, not endlessly walk the corporate corridors, is the first step. Working out your dream and purpose is the next. Once you realise that you have a dream to manifest, the next steps are all about being brave and vulnerable.

Most people go back to being grey. It’s safe and they may not like it, but it’s predictable and they know this way of life well. No surprises. No putting yourself out there and above all no risk of failure! They may be part of the living dead, but there’s a level of certainty about it – and its true that we need a level of certainty in our lives. But not everything in our life should be certain. If we don’t have uncertainty as well, we wither and fade. Never being vulnerable or failing or making mistakes doesn’t protect us in the end, it makes us empty and will finally kill us, or at least kill our spirit.

For a very few, finding our passion and realising our dream becomes such a driving force in our life that we are willing to risk it all. (A bit similar to how we feel when we fall in love or lust!) We are prepared to do almost anything. We are prepared to put ourselves out there. To become vulnerable. To fall over and pick ourselves up again as many times as we have to. To make mistakes. Lots and lots of mistakes. Nothing will stop us realising our dreams and living a life of purpose!

But what if you are in the ‘certainty’ community and you would really like to escape the walking dead? You just don’t know how and it all seems too big and hard and so overwhelming!

Why not trial it for 30 days?

Here’s the thing: You can change anything. Add anything. Delete anything from your life. Change any behaviour you like in just 30 days. This concept was first thought up by Steve Pavlina, who is an awesome blogger on personal development. His idea was based on the 30 day trial, which most of us would be familiar with when buying software products or anything off the shopping channels. Do steak knives for a 30 day trial sound familiar?

Recent research tells us if you introduce small sustainable changes into your life, they have a much better success rate and are much more likely to stick.

So the process is pretty straight forward.

If you are a little anxious about change you can start with something fairly simple and small. In an earlier blog I spoke about taking on a planking challenge for 30 days and achieving five minutes by the end of the challenge. Another one of my recent 30 day trials was all about adding more raw food to my diet. I really wanted to eat better and after lots of reading up on the benefits of eating fresh raw food, I decided to give it a go.

The trick is that instead of thinking that you will change this for the rest of your life, which seems paramount to climbing Mount Everest, you just think, I’m just doing this for 30 days. If you don’t like it you can stop after 30 days, or you can add another 30 days.

So for me, I decided to make it even simpler. Every day, for the next 30 days, I would make one of my meals 51% raw. You may want to add a juice, walk in the mornings for 20 minutes, mediate, write a gratitude list every morning,  stop drinking coffee, write a hundred words, learn a new word in another language, write a love letter to your partner every day, drink water, do a headstand, stop smoking, make your lunch for work, go to the gym, read a chapter of a book, hula hoop for 10 minutes every afternoon, read the newspaper, get up half an hour earlier every day, cook a new dish…the list goes on.

I’m up to eating two meals a day that are 51% raw, and I add a fresh vegetable juice every two days. Every time I add something, I tell myself, “It’s just for 30 days”, but I find that the 30 days is usually just long enough for the new behaviour to become routine.

Practice with something small. You may like to do a few trials. Remember you can add as well as delete. Add something positive to your life! Don’t just stop something. Test the water!

Over the past year I have changed quite a few things in my life with a 30 day trial. Every now and then I get to the end of the trial and think, well that was a great experience, but I don’t want to keep going with this.

As Matt Cutts said in his TED Talk: “Thirty days will pass whether you like it or not, so why don’t you try something new. Think of something you have always wanted to do and give it a shot!”

Creating the space to dare to dream

I don’t have any time. I want to be a writer/cure cancer/start my own business/learn how to dance/climb that mountain/learn how to ski/paint that masterpiece…but I am just too busy. I have sooooo much to do. You don’t understand – I have kids! I don’t have any money. I’m tired from my day job. I’m sick. I’m too sick. I’m alone, I just can’t do that by myself. I’m not smart enough/beautiful enough/rich enough/tough enough…well you understand.

I could go on. I’m sure you have plenty of your own stories you tell yourself to make yourself feel better about why that amazing dream that you have always had tucked away in your head, that you probably barely think abut these days, just can’t happen.

I get it.

Our lives are just too busy. Way too full of other important stuff.

But it’s funny how sometimes we have the energy and focus to move mountains.

I’m guessing most of you have been in love. Or at least been so attracted to someone they are all you can think of.

I remember when I fell in love with Cristian, it was all I could think about. I wanted to be with him all the time, and when I wasn’t with him, I was thinking of the next time we would be together. At the time I was working a full time job, managing two large facilities and a big team of staff. I was recently divorced and had four little boys who need to be fed, watered, cuddled, homework sorted, bathed, put to bed, loved…well you know the deal. Before I met Cristian I seemed to be always exhausted. I was falling into bed at midnight after the tenth load of washing was on the washing line and the school lunches were packed and in the fridge, and then I was dragging myself out of bed to a a mini football team who needed to be pried apart, fed porridge, and danced with in the kitchen (a story for another time) and driven to school. I was sure that I couldn’t fit another activity into my life. Not even an extra cup of tea. Impossible.

Funny word that: impossible.

Within days of meeting Cristian, I was renegotiating my diary to go on a date in the middle of the day. Then a few days later, I miraculously found enough money to pay a baby sitter so I could go on a date at night. It wasn’t long before I was seeing Cristian almost every day. As if by magic I seemed to have an abundance of time and, I was buzzing with energy.

Here’s the thing: If you are really passionate about making that dream happen, nothing can stop you. You will move mountains to make whatever is important to you, happen.

Talk to anyone who has achieved their dream and they rarely talk about it falling it their lap. They talk about working their bum off and refusing to give up when they failed, or fell over. They got back up and tried again. You have to be passionate about your dream to get up again after you have screwed up or made a mistake. Because if you are not, you will give up and go and lie under your doona and dream of it happening ‘someday’. But the truth, my friends is it will never happen if you don’t get yourself up, wipe up the blood and try again. Never.

So why am I telling you this? Over the next few days we are going to find work out what we are passionate about, and how to make this dream real. And we are going to do it with all the intention, and ‘mountain moving’ determination we have when we fall in love or lust.

We are going to create the space to dare to dream.

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Neil Gaiman, Coraline