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I can’t remember a time when I felt I was okay just as I am. I’m guessing I’m not alone in thinking like that. We are who we are, but most of us aren’t particularly satisfied with that – and we let it hold us back.

We think we’ll be okay once we lose weight, or get a better job, find a partner, have a baby, get published, get famous, win lotto… The problem is, like getting cosmetic surgery, we’ll still wake up and be looking at the world through the same eyes. And we’ll be looking for our next feel-good fix.

But what if we took a different approach? What if we said – hey, this is what I am. Now how can I work with that? And I’m talking about working with our flaws, instead of against them.

Because if all we focus on is the bad stuff – the things we’re not – the less we’re going to get out and give things a go. The less we’re going to put ourselves out there… until we’re all fixed and perfect.

Think about a civil engineering team who have the task of building a road from A to B. Except between those two points are a mountain, a river and a floodplain… and lots of other hard stuff to contend with.

What do they do? Do they say… oh, there’s a mountain there, and that floodplain isn’t great. Let’s not bother. No, they sit down and identify all the issues – the realities. Then they find a way to work within those parameters, and figure out what they can do differently or better so they get that road built.

And when it comes to who we are, I reckon we have to do the same thing. Work in our strengths. Work on our weaknesses. Not throw up our hands and say I’m just not good enough, or pretty enough, or funny enough, or fit / wealthy / intelligent / creative / tall / young enougj0435251h…

So face your life like you’d face a project. Work out exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are. Then ask: how can I work with what I am to get where I want to go? And when you’re on the way, and your confidence is building, start working on your weaknesses.

Because if you wait until you’re ‘just right’, life will have whooshed past you – faster than you’ve ever imagined.

Okay, I’d love to hang around chatting all day. But I’ve got project work to do!

🙂 lou

P.S. Take a look at incredible paralympians like Chinese amputee He Junquan , cyclist Barbara Buchan, and so many others. And when you think you can’t do something, think about a man with no arms who became an elite swimmer… now that’s inspiring.

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clonesYou know what we hate? Clonesville. Everything the same, thanks to the corporate copycat syndrome.

We’re a franchised culture where you can walk into a shopping centre here, on the other side of the city, or in another state, and the same shops are there. Aren’t we getting just a little bit too comfortable with the familiar?

Then there are those Fast Food outlets that are same same the world over. That’s comforting to some people, but it’s soooo Bland.

Then there’s those formulaic TV shows and movies – different actors, same plotlines, same one-liners. Why? Because the networks go with what works. Or worked. They want their money safe, so we get served up the reheated leftovers. Oh god!

Or those ‘beige-ist’ housing estates crammed with million-dollar, architect designed residences. Every house may be fabulous in its own right, but chuck ’em together in those tone on tone, elitist estates and they blend into a bland mass where all signs of human existence have been erased. Blah.

Even our language is, like, blaaaaand. And don’t get us started on corporate-speak. How many customer-focused, performance-driven teams delivering cutting-edge solutions can there be out there? Or open dialogue, synergy, relationships being leveraged, win-win, and anything ‘going forward’ (the latest meaningless buzz word…because, thank god, you’re not going backward).

We even heard a relationship expert the other day saying it was ‘important to maintain open dialogue, so you get the results you want going forward’. Oh please! Imagine being a fly on the wall in their bedroom…zzzzzzzzzzz

When are we going to welcome in a new age – and we don’t mean lighting candles and taking up the downward dog position. We’re talking about the Age of the Individual. Shedding the clone mentality. Having the guts to be different. Being real.

And talking in a language that doesn’t put people’s brains into neutral.

End of rant. Happy Wednesday.

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CBR003054Have you ever asked yourself  ‘What do I really want?’ and come up blank – because it’s been way too long since you had time to think about it. I have.

But yesterday I discovered that finding out what I don’t want can be quite illuminating.

Recently an opportunity presented itself – one I’d tell anybody else to jump at – but (after much soul searching) I didn’t grab it with both hands.

Yesterday, I said ‘no’ to it. And it wasn’t out of fear. I actually felt it would take my life in a direction I didn’t really want to go in right now.

When I thought I should go all Nike inspired and just do it, I felt a huge sense of loss – especially of the freedom I feel I’m getting now, to create the life I’ve imagined. Yes, the opportunity was indeed fabulous – but it just didn’t feel right for me.

What do I really want? Finding out what I don’t want just brought me a lot closer to knowing…

I’m talking in riddles, because it doesn’t really matter what the opportunity was. For me this time, it was a brilliant job in another state/city – but what mattered to me was that I no longer feel I have to jump at every opportunity, even if that’s what I’ve always done.

I’m beginning to understand what I value and I feel like I’m getting closer to my true self. And I know that, because when I said ‘no’ I suddenly felt free again. Free to reinvent myself in whatever way I choose to. I followed my heart – not my ego or the fear of missing out or the $$ signs.

And, I’ll admit it, the $$ signs were starting to dictate my life, thanks to the GFC. No wonder I was feeling off centre.

I’m usually an advocate for the ‘leap and the net will appear’ theory. But that’s about following your heart, your instincts. And it means you’re pretty convinced that leaping (into whatever it is) feels right for you.

I’ll never know for sure if I made the right choice, but I believe I did and that’s enough. So maybe, for me, it’s about passing up a great opportunity to make way for a better one that’s hot on its heels! (Bring it on!)

What do you really want? Find out what you don’t want, and what you do want will become clearer.

Lou

If you liked this, you might like these Art of Moi posts:

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A University of Vermont study has shown that Wednesday – not Monday – is the worst day of the week.

Personally, it’s my most favourite day…except possibly Friday. But in the spirit of furthering (or skewing) research, we’ll be doing a “Wednesday-it is” blog every second week.

For our inaugural Wednesday-itis rant (which is late, we know, but we were having such a great day we forgot to complain), we really really really hate:

a) Stupid drivers who slow down for the warning signs. People, when the sign says ‘hazard 2km ahead’ there’s really no need for you to slam on the brakes!

b) Online bookstores selling the same book under a different name. (Okay, so I’m feeling a little bit stupid not knowing that Karen Joy Fowler’s Wit’s End is the same as Karen Joy Fowler’s The Case of the Imaginary Detective – but there should be a disclaimer!)

c) Microwave popcorn.                               You need a reason? ‘Cause it’s disgusting. That’s all.

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A month ago, we were talking about getting started in our ‘Five for Fridays’ blog. So today I took our advice… and I got started.

I sat down and wrote the first chapter or so of a YA Romantic Comedy I’ve been thinking about doing all year. And the amazing thing is, I started writing (and ignored work!) with the intention of just getting down the first page.

I wrote 1950 words. It’s the first step towards finding the ‘voice’ for the novel, and getting a handle on the characters. Now I just have to test it on my three daughters and see if I’m on track – or way off.

…it’s a start. Fun.

Have you started anything lately?

Lou

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My mother is old enough to have stopped counting. About four decades ago. We were talking today about something she’s never forgiven herself for.

It happened in the last five years and it’s something most of our generation would celebrate… not flog themselves over. Not my mum.

When I said she should forgive herself, coz it’s dragging her (way, way) down, she looked at me as if I was mad. I am, but that’s not my point. To her, forgiving herself was beyond imagining.

I get the sneaking suspicion we are all a bit like that. We’ll forgive most people for most things, but we are so damn tough on ourselves.

So, I now know where I get it from, what’s your excuse 😉

The next time you start to beat yourself up, stop and think:

  1. There’s not a single person on this planet who hasn’t made a mistake. I think even the Dalai Lama would agree with that. We are not perfect. We stuff up. We get it wrong.
  2. You can’t change the past, but you can step in the future – and work on not making the same mistake again (although you’re bound to make different ones!)
  3. If it involves someone you’ve hurt and they are suffering for it, acknowledge your mistake (without making disclaimers!) and ask for their forgiveness.
  4. Don’t spill your guts to an unknowing person just to make yourself feel better – which will effectively pass the pain on to them!
  5. Chances are, that thing you said or did is long forgotten. We tend to have a very powerful magnifying glass when it comes to ourselves…
  6. Admit (to yourself) you did the wrong thing – and make peace with yourself.
  7. And if you’re religious like my mum, make peace with your god
  8. Then…Stop flogging yourself. Take a deep breath. Be kind to yourself.

I don’t think it will work for my mother. Old habits die hard. But it might work for you if you start now.

Coz, wow, by the time you get to be carrying around seven-or-more decades worth of making mistakes and not forgiving yourself, you’re going to need an emotional wheelchair to get around. 

So let’s all be more forgiving. Of each other – and ourselves.

Lou x

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clover

...looking for luck

 

No matter how many disappointments I have in life, I’m still not that great at dealing with them. 

I go through my day afterwards, looking a bit vague as I have those ‘what if’ conversations in my head!

 

You know all about that head-chat, I’m sure! You go ’round and ’round, thinking about the things you could’ve done differently, the cool or smart things you could have said, the dumb things you actually did say…

Thank goodness for all those fabulous, uplifting quotes, truisms and other isms (optimism springs to mind). Most involve picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and moving on. Like these:

  • When one door closes, another door opens – or a window. Usually high up and small, and you’ve got to scramble through. But it’s there.
  • When opportunity knocks at the front door, don’t be out the back looking for four leaf clovers. Or sitting on bees. Which also like clover.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. Except if you’re a stalker. Then you should stop.
  • Failure is not in falling down, it’s in not getting up again. But if you’re 25 metres from the marathon’s finish line and you’ve collapsed with dehydration, don’t feel bad when they bring the stretcher. (PS. For me it would be 25 metres from the start line)
  • If you’re going through hell, keep going. Also when walking on hot coals.
  • Face the sun, so the shadows fall behind you. But don’t forget the sunscreen.
  • Experience is the toughest teacher because she gives the test first, and then the lesson. Is it playtime yet?
  • Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far they can really go. This is really annoying when you miss the exit on the freeway and end up at Gympie.

I’ll leave you with these wise words from Yoda: “Do or do not there is no try.”

My case I rest.

🙂 Louise

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Obstacles come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them we deal with, some of them we don’t. Some of them might be with us for life – so you’d better have a way of dealing with them, getting over them, or just simply living with them. Here are our Five for Friday suggestions:

  1. Step back. If you’ve got your face a few inches from the wall, it fills your vision and overwhelms you. You can’t see how high it is or how wide – and you sure can’t see any way over it. If you step back, you can put it in perspective. You might even find it’s not that wide and you can find a way around it!
  2. Try a different approach. Einstein said the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Let’s admit it – we all do that (especially with computers!!). So try a different approach – something you’ve never tried before. If one way’s not working and driving you nuts, what have you got to lose?
  3. Breathe. Come on, drop those shoulders and take a deep breath. Is this really as tough as you think? etc etc
  4. Be brave and trust yourself. Most of the time, when we’re faced with apparently insurmountable obstacles, fear kicks in and we lose confidence in our ability to cope. But trust yourself and be brave. People face all kinds of challenges and get through it – not because they’re way different from you, but because they don’t give in or give up. Go on, trust yourself. You can do it!
  5. Take a look around. It’s easy to become so obsessed with the obstacles in front of us that we fail to notice the life going on around us. Find something that gives you joy to give you a break from the obsessions. Is it your kids? your dog? your cat? your car? your garden? And if there is nothing that gives you joy, then you need to find something. Reconnect with family. Volunteer for something, even if you’re not that interested. Get out and connect with the world around you. When you have something or someone in your life to give you joy, the obstacles might still be there, but they won’t own you.

Is there a favourite way you ‘take back your life’ from the obstacles that try to own you? Let us know.

L & S.

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...hounded by the black dog [Photo: Ashleigh Ralph]“]
…hounded by the black dog [Photo: Ashleigh Ralph

There are times when you can take on the world. You’re bursting with energy and nothing seems too hard or too ambitious.

You know you can finish (or start) that best selling novel, climb Mount Kilimanjaro, pack up and move to France, finally shed those 5 kgs, or just get those pesky cupboards sorted…

Then there are those days when the black dog is sitting just watching you. Or the Planets are converging – on you, apparently.

You wonder how you’ll pay your mortgage this month or finally shed your credit card debt – or all those other bills that hang over your head like an axe. The work stuff you sailed through last week is an anchor pulling you down this week.

And you’re taking everything personally, because your sense of humour just evaporated. Cracking up laughing is out of the question when cracking a smile is impossible.

I used to believe those emotions were real, based on the stuff in my life that I couldn’t deal with (aka being a victim of my own life). But then I realised not much had changed since last week – or yesterday. What had changed was something in me.

Often it was associated with PMT (another black dog – this time, the Rottweiler with lipstick). Which  made me realise the thing that changes is the chemicals flowing through me – which dictate my highs and lows.

Chemicals help you go to sleep and wake up. They make you smile or cry about the same thing. They help you cope, or knock you flat. They keep your body functioning, actually.

My Buddhist friend tells me they see feelings as part of an impermanent or unstable inner landscape. I found this article on it today: The contemplation of feelings in Buddhism…

So these days when I feel the black dog breathing down my neck, I don’t immediately scour my life for all the reasons why I feel like crap. Instead, I take it as a sign… that I need to slow down and carve out a bit of me-time. Even when I’m too busy. Especially when I’m too busy.

I’m not talking about sitting on a cushion contemplating my breathing patterns, because I really suck at that (besides, it makes me hyperventilate and that’s probably counterproductive!). But I do soothing things, like making a nice brekky for myself, or a coffee, tea or vino (depending on the time, of course!). Or I just get outside.

It usually hits me in the morning, so sitting in the garden watching the day unfurl around me really works. I watch my curious cat chasing a bug I can’t even see. I hear the crows talking. I watch the bees sucking nectar from blossoms. I hear the tradesmen shouting at each other as they renovate the old Queenslander house next door. Okay, that’s not soothing.

Some days I’ll find something to read that makes me feel good – like an article on confidence or happiness, or a book I’ve been meaning to get to. Or I go all Zen and start thinking about all the stuff I’m grateful for. Often, I’ll do a ‘brain dump’ in my journal, and sometimes I even write blogs…

For the day to day highs and lows, it really works. Because I know this will pass. And soon I’ll be ready to take on the world again!

And let’s face it, if you haven’t got time to fall apart, then you can’t afford not to take the time to look after yourself.

cheers, Lou

If you liked this, read Bistaari Bistaari, Slowly Slowly

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Hi there! Every Friday we’re going to post our five favourite ideas for doing stuff – like getting started, keeping going, creating ideas, loving yourself, and more.

You’re always welcome to add your own favourite tips, or give us ideas for other ‘five for friday’ posts.

This week, we’re into getting started. Because, let’s face it, that’s half the battle.

We’re both as bad as each other. We take forever to get started on anything, but when we get going, we’re hard to stop. Make that impossible. We’re (over)doers, but sloooow starters.

Here’s our tips for getting started. You know you can!

  1. Fool the resistance. Tell yourself (or those voices in your head) that you’re only going to do one small thing, like write a sentence or two of your novel or sand one little bit of the wall you’re going to paint.
  2. Start easy. What’s the one thing you can do right now to make progress? It might be 10 crunches or a walk around the block to kick off your fitness regime (which is always on the to-do list, isn’t it?), or you might do some web surfing to research something in your novel…
  3. Give yourself permission to fail. Remember Roosevelt’s ‘Man in the Arena’ speech?  ‘…who at the worst, if [she] fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that [her] place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat’
  4. Shut down the critic (or if you’re a writer, the editor!). You don’t need to get it right, or have everything perfect, you just need to do it
  5. Think about how you’ll reward yourself… do you need to take ‘progress payments’? A reward for beginning. A reward for getting started. A reward for making it halfway. A celebration when you’ve finished!

Remember, the longest journey begins with the first step. So think about how great you’ll feel when you make it to your destination…  and get started.

Okay, we’re off to reward ourselves for finishing this blog!

Cheers.

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