Back to the Future: How the pressure of ‘What are you going to do?’ is making students feel like they haven’t done anything yet.

Remember the opening scene from Bridget Jones’ Diary?

“Great. I was wearing a carpet.”

Our protagonist, aloof in a sea of Christmas jumpers and turkey curry, does her best to deflect dirty uncles and that “one question dreaded by all singletons”.

“So… how’s your love life?” slurs her gropy ‘Uncle G’.

“Not my real uncle.”

“Super, thanks Uncle G!” she replies, like a drawstring doll chirping out a catchphrase. Luckily for Bridge, her Mr. Darcy is mere metres away and her eventual ‘happily ever after’ ensues.

But what about those of us without Colin Firth to help fulfil us? What about those of us who have no idea what their Happily Ever After even looks like, let alone where to look for it? At least Miss Jones already had a job.

bridget_jones

Strip away the unfortunate Christmas apparel; swap the intimacy inquiries with probing ‘post-grad’ questions and it’s a story every undergrad student knows all too well.

“So… what are you going to do with a creative writing degree?” a nosy patron probes at the local bar, where I work.

I make a spiel about “transferrable skills” and how “communication is one of the most highly valued assets by potential employers these days”. I continue to inundate him with statistics about journalism’s new ‘niche market’ until his expression shifts from one of curiosity to poorly-masked pity – although maybe that’s the booze kicking in.

Happy hour is OVER.

Happy hour is OVER.

Luckily, I hear a glass shatter somewhere in the courtyard and excuse myself – pulse racing; palms balmy. Why do I feel like an imposter in my own life? Am I the only one?

I remember my first week of University. I had just sat through my first 2 ½ hour tute in post-high school French and finished my first ever coffee – ah, sweet innocence (2 sugars, actually). Unsure of the ‘toilet break’ policy, I briskly made my way to the bathroom after the class. There, above the toilet role, it read: ‘Bachelor of Arts: take one!’

Ouch.

Ouch.

‘Well jeez,’ I joked to a classmate later that day ‘if it was this easy, why did I bother busting my ass through VCE?’

But that ‘shitty’ image stuck with me – and, as it turns out, I wasn’t the only one.

Georgia Polmear, (almost B.A.) came to the University of Melbourne as a decorated student: Drama Captain, Poetry Prize Winner, Debating Champion, Gymnastics Captain as well as scoring nearly 50 on her Studio Arts folio – an accomplished woman, even by Mr. Darcy’s standards.

Cheers Darcy.

Cheers Darcy.

Yet, in spite of these successes, she is quick to dismiss this époque of her education.

“I suppose it sounds good when you rattle them off like that… But that was high school. It doesn’t really matter anymore. Plus, it was a totally different pool of people to Uni.”

As well as her academic achievements, Georgia was also home-schooled for the first nine years of her education. Upon reflection, she admits this to be one of the most instrumental and informative eras of her life.

“I remember how free I felt. I was at that limitless age where I knew I could be anything I wanted, both now and in a future sense.”

Spreading her days between self-directed study, excursions, family debates and circus school, Georgia recalls a time free of insecurity and full of possibility.

“It didn’t even occur to me that I’d have to choose just one area of study. I loved playing something new every day.”

You go girl.

You go girl.

And play she did. After a two-year slug at her Arts degree and an ever-plummeting sense of purpose, Georgia left university to finally pursue her acting dream. It took thousands of dollars in VET fees and therapy to get her there – but, at last, she “found her roots”.

Of course, as an actor, she still faces that dreaded question – perhaps even more than an Arts Student – but she’s found the ‘happy’ party of her ‘ever after’, which is more than many of us can say.

And it’s not just the Arts students.

By the time he was 22, Andrew Sheahan was successfully co-managing two small local businesses and in the beginnings of launching his own start-up PR company. He had also initiated a charity expedition to Cambodia and was undoubtedly that kid with a lucrative profit margin at his neighbourhood lemonade stand.

Like Georgia, his past is paved with passion projects and accomplishments that ascend beyond his years. He is a born entrepreneur.

Why, then, is he currently “battling” his way through a Masters in Engineering?

“People kept asking me what I was going to do with my undergrad in engineering.” He admits.

“I felt like I didn’t have enough life experience to start out on my own, so I went back to do post-grad.”

So where does his start-up dream fit in?

“I’ve just got to put it off until I’m done. It’s frustrating, because I realise that this stuff is what I’ve always been good at, but there’s just too much pressure to prove myself academically.”

In a way, Georgia and Andrew are lucky. In spite of prospective pressures, they’ve managed to cotton onto what Psychology refers to as their ‘calling’

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What about the rest of us who don’t know ‘what we’re going to do’? What about those of us who are so busy trying not to appear ‘lost’ that they daren’t pull over and ask for directions?

Well, according to wellbeing facilitator and positive psychologist, Michelle McQuaid, we can start by asking the right questions, using a technique called “Appreciative Inquiry”.

Michelle explains that appreciative inquiry is a model of analysis that uses four, simple questions to recognize the best in people or organizations.

“It’s about affirming past and present strengths, successes and potentials; to perceive those things that give us life.”

The four areas of inquiry include DISCOVERY, DREAM, DESIGN and DESTINY/DEPLOY:

AIdoc

Participants are encouraged to choose a ‘Positive Topic’ into which they will inquire.

In organisations, this topic may be wide and universal, such as: “Best Practice Teaching” or “School-wide wellbeing”, but Michelle reminds us that “A.I. can also be applied on an individual level”.

For example: “Enjoying my education” or “Fulfilment at work”.

“One of the founding principles of A.I. is that ‘what we focus on grows’” Michelle explains.

“When we only focus on ‘solving problems’ we end up limiting ourselves to ‘issue-based’ thinking. Similarly, when we only focus on a student’s lack of employment or stability in the future, they think and act accordingly – from a place of intimidation, instead of inspiration.”

Michelle talks me through a personal Appreciative Inquiry, and the research resonates. While I don’t believe we should get bogged-down in the past, it is a story worth re-reading when equipped with such an expansive lens.

In fact, I can’t help but be reminded of an Eleanor Roosevelt quote that shall be infinitely shared on Instagram posts for years to come:

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#instagreat

Perhaps Appreciative Inquiry is a way for us to gift-wrap the past in a way that makes us excited rip it open each day. Instead of faking future plans and spiels about the ‘niche demand’ we can revel a little in the reality of our prior awesomeness.

Maybe then, when our respective ‘Uncle Gs’ ask us what the hell we’re going to do next, we’ll be wrapped to tell them (then make a b-line for the turkey curry buffet).

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HOME

‘… Where the heart is…’
‘……Where your rump rests…’
‘………Where the WIFI connects automatically…’

I was about to explain my recent Blog-dodging by saying ‘I haven’t been home much’. Now I realize I have never been closer to it.

Read on…

So for the past few months I have been trotting the World’s terrain a lot more than I’ve been tucked behind my laptop.A new job, mind-exploding (in the best way) degree, endlessly fulfilling fraternization and building the foundations of my own Wellbeing Movement have kept me ‘in flow’ on my feet and in my mind. This new delicious cocktail has prompted me to ponder’ what ‘HOME’ really means to me. As a person who doesn’t believe in bedrooms/walls/pajamas… and who declares her family to be those that she chooses as well as those in her DNA chain, I’ve been seeking both a Real Estate and State of Mind that encompassed this.

Finally, in my daily blog-oggling (http://anadventureintyping.wordpress.com/ – a whimsical yet pragmatic penwoman), I espied these words that truly resonated with my sense of ‘residency’ in my Universe:

“[Home] is the place where you feel most yourself, where you feel most free and least oppressed. Go where you know you will be looked after and enjoyed and valued. This can be your best friends place, your parents’ place, or even the place you currently live. But once there relish the feeling of being home – spend time with the people who make it that way for you, do the things you can only do there and smile at the peace you feel.”

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“What do you WANT!?”

So now that I’ve Nicholas Sparks-ed your interest, I’d like to begin by slapping everyone’s favourite scene in the face. Indeed, as aggressively affectionate and played-by-Ryan-Gosling as he may be, I’ve decided that The Notebook’s Noah Calhoun isn’t the only one who gets to demand that question. In fact it’s a question we should ALL passionately probe ourselves with from time to time.

Let me fill you in.

So recently this rambling Rainicorn that I am has burgeoned into the most bustling, bureaucratic era of her life!

I think I’ve entered what convention would deem the ‘shit-together-getting’ époque of my life. And do you know what, homehoundz? It feels all kinds of awesome.

After throwing myself to the wolves of the Web and requesting any leads for new work, I managed to score myself (thanks to the support of a dear pal) an increasingly exciting gig in the Real Estate game! And, on top of that, I’ve returned to full-time uni with a vengeance and a view to kill it.

Yes sir, after years of hoping I’d win Life’s Lottery, I’ve finally bought a ticket.

But where will this ticket take me? And what trots will this uNaycorn need to take to get there? Ever since I can remember I’ve dreamed of the ‘Great Wide Somewhere’ more than Belle herself. And after a soul-embracing Bali expedition, that dream has never burned bolder.

Indeed, the day I got home from Ubud I announced plans for my imminent re-departure from domesticity and academia. I’d sampled Life’s Buffet and I wanted more! I want to chase that dream!

It took a lot of mind-mapping and advice from munificent friends and family members to help me realise that I can start to design that dream here: build foundations from which to fly.

So… after 5 years of torrid to-ing and fro-ing with my Undergrad degree, I finally see it for the expansive, explosive knowledge-bomb and calling card that it is. It is, as my darling friend Georgia, my father and an extraordinarily generous flight attendant explained to me, my ticket to anywhere I choose. The trick is to buy it and work out my flight path.

(I’d like to sidebar for a moment to thank every single person who has helped shed this light. You know who you are and you constantly enlighten and brighten my world!)
All that said, this doesn’t mean procuring it will be easy. This semester I’ll be juggling an ever-expanding career prospect, a university degree, a blog, besties, a boy, volunteering, yoga, jogging, singing gigs, mass-masticating Superfoodie Bars, stealing to the cinema solo, getting my thespian thrills, going on self-guided gastronomic ventures and pounding the Thousand Steps whenever possible… just to frame the picture. *Which reminds me to add photography to that list, too.

Yes indeed, this era sees an abundant share of both Life’s delights and duties. And I intend on enjoying both fully. In fact I’ve started beginning each day by exclaiming that: ‘Today will be a GOOD day’, forecasting awesomeness that awaits. And I promise you, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy! I’m just like the Oracle only I crack crockery in my microwave instead of bending spoons.

And while Life is so terrifically unpredictable (even for those with kinaesthetic kitchenware wielding skills), I’ve found these morning rituals and indispensible mindfulness techniques (grâce à ‘The Smiling Mind’: check them out here!) have taught me to stake my claim on uncharted territory.

Indeed, they’ve taught me that I can make any day; lunch-date or minute mine when I’m present and honest with myself and my neighbours.

So as I walked through my neighbourhood on this mystical, misty eve, fretting over studious, staying-putness needed to attain said ticket, I realised that what I ACTUALLY have is a whole year to both plan and pave my path. Not to mention bank a few bucks.

‘What a JOY…’ I thought, ‘ …after realising so many of my ambitions of late, to get to plant my feet and plan my next step.’

And then, in a puff of hot air in the cool night, came these words:

 

‘What do I want NOW?’

 

And I swear they sprang from my chest before my head could catch them.

What do I WANT?

What are my new dreams?

Where would I go if I could go anywhere?

My friend Georgia said to have a carrot to chase: to invent an adventure to await me on the other side of my degree… And to make it the best goal ever (except for that goal scored by that bangin’ streaker, obviously!)

So I now ask myself these questions with a pragmatic, ignited inspiration, rather than an abstract fantasy. I’m literally building the Best Mother-Fucking To-Do List I’ve made TO-DATE.

And here are some of the front-runners (in no particular order):

 

I WANT TO (AND WILL):

 

–          Write a book

–          Start my own Life Coaching business

–          Live in Bali for at least 2 months

–          Get a tattoo

–          Learn to cook ‘clean’, healthy foods

–          Ride a Friesian horse

–          Go sky-diving

–          Move in with a dear friend

–          Get a cat (weirdly… never knew I wanted one!)

–          Go to India

–          Speak at a Wellbeing conference

–          Attend ADVANCED yoga classes

–          Sing my own musical gig

–          Get a singing coach

–          Move to London

–          Tour the USA

–          Be with someone that makes my cheeks hurt from laughing every day

–          Run 10km

–          Work with the Butterfly Foundation

–          STOP CALORIE COUNTING

–          Get published in print

–          Take pole-dancing classes

–          Go to a WILDCARD country like Ice Land

–          Give inspirational talks to young women about Body Image

–          Work with Elephants

–          Say ‘I Love You’ while laughing and crying at the same time

 

There are SO many more, but being mysterious is secretly on that list in invisible ink, so I’m going to keep some to myself!

It may be as big as having a baby or as little as trying shellac for the first time, but why not ask yourself, feet planted right here… What do you REALLY want?

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50 THINGS I FANCY:

HAPPY FRIDAY, INTERFRIENDS (and my more intimate ‘intrafriends’)!

So I’d like to m’excuser for my absence of late, but I’ve been very PRESENT at my swanky super-adulty, stiletto-sporting admin/writing job! Yep, hereafter I get to play dress-up each day and keep the workplace butt-spanking to a maximinimum! I’m currently brewing a chest-swelling piece on ‘Pride’, but a fellow bloggette’s recent bounty (as well as my habitual TO-DO LIST scribblin’ at work each day) and a Friday dotted with simple joys have inspired me to forge my own ‘FIFTY THINGS I FANCY’ list!

What a great way to ground yourself in gratitude! Try it!

 

50 THINGS I FANCY:

 

  1. Fuzzy morning sunshine
  2. A comforting, sooty Londoner accent
  3. People who wear LOUD socks
  4. Daphne flowers and their HEAVENLY first-born-daughter-name-inspiring scent
  5. Farting in solitude after hours of polite, muscular butt-plugging
  6. Elizabeth Gilbert
  7. Unseemly or unsettling segways
  8. Cappuccino Cacao Superfoodie Bars. HO-LY SHIAT.
  9. Soy cappuccinos 
  10. Sani, my Barista, who insists I snag a macaron sample each morning.
  11. Macarons. Salted caramel.
  12. Inventive macaron flavours like chocolate lychee or THIS.
  13. Doing my nails.
  14. Grinning whilst running
  15. Flirting with strangers
  16. Flirting with friends.
  17. Anything involving wine, cheese and my best ladies.
  18. Pimms and Lemonade.
  19. British pubs.
  20. The WOODS.
  21. Bluebells
  22. Reading Self-Help books/articles
  23. WRITING Self-Help books/articles
  24. WRITING. WRITING. WRITING.
  25. Getting up at 3am and writing for 3 hours because I have/want/need/love/am compelled by some exterior force to do so.
  26. Yoga
  27. Bears
  28. Canada
  29. Maple Syrup
  30. Every single person I met while volunteering. Especially the Canadians.
  31. My favourite sunset spot in Cape Paterson.
  32. Choosing NOT to take a photo of something and taking a private aside with the World.
  33. SEX. AND. THE. CITY.
  34. Reading dirty Cosmo articles.
  35. Blanket forts.
  36. Cinnamon scented oil burners.
  37. Meditation.
  38. Being surrounded by hundreds of lives every train trip! 
  39. Colourful doonas!
  40. Garter belts and thigh-highs.
  41. Doggie style.
  42. Porridge with berries and choccie protein powder.
  43. Blooper reels.
  44. The Holiday
  45. TRAVEL. Anywhere.
  46. Spontaneous shopping, lunches, brunches or bike rides.
  47. Hiking.
  48. Driving. CARaoke.
  49. Karaoke.
  50. Mojitos.

ALSO: Humans of NY, ducks, Disney, pink and yellow roses, piano, Pictionary, baking cookies for friends, acting, psychology, horse riding, views, mountains, patterned tights, leather boots, hand-me-downs that remind me of dear friends and… Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hakuna Matata and ABBA.

Ok, I’ll stop.

67. Breaking rules.

Smacking down these beloved past-times and petits fours that life dishes up to me makes me realise how speckled my life is with specialness!!! Originally worried about being able to produce 50 Fancies, I now find my literary cup overflowething with things that I love! Life is your best friend (with benefits!) ;)

PUT DOWN THAT PUZZLE!!!

Today I had the pleasure of discussing healthy body image with some new friends over high-tea.

Having been fake-tan free for a month now, I can say that my sense of peace and self has never been better! I remember when I was in Bali frantically snaking the supermarket aisles in search of fake tan and booing and hissing when all I could find were moisturizers “With Skin Whitener”. That’s when the gravity of this universal corporal dissatisfaction really hit me. These radiant women were trying to bleach out of their skin the same sunkissed glow that girls like me lather onto ours like holy water. My mind was blown; my heart was heavy and then my funny bone was bumped and I had to laugh.

This is in no way to detract from the gravity of this globalised dysmorphia, but rather to choose to live in the light (no pun intended) instead of the dark. To realise that skin is simply something to feel earthly sensations and to shower (any fake tan users who’ve had to strategically plan their bathing around their bronzage, holla at me) with cleansing water and kind eyes. I want to treat myself the way I would a pouty child; with kindness, humour, compassion and patience. It is human to believe that our grass should be greener (or our skin lighter). That’s ok. Be kind. You never solve a puzzle by obsessing over one piece. You’re not your hips or lashes, love-handles or thigh gap. Fuck that! You’re a whole person.

“Don’t try to be someone else’s beautiful.”

I recently read an article where 5 successful women of the web articulated their attitudes towards body image. Whilst all courageous and compelling, these words from BuzzFeed’s style editor really stuck with me:

“I am still dissatisfied with now — in that I’m NEVER going to be 6 feet tall. Never. It’s so dumb, but this is the body I have. I always think of this Nora Ephron quote: “Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was 26. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re 34.”

Now for those in the Southern hemisphere sporting a swimsuit may pose certain sultana-smuggling obstacles, but pride and presence are colours that look great on everyone. So let’s don our most immodest, metaphorical swimsuits, god damn it!

I may not have deciphered the World’s dysmorphic puzzle yet, or even my own, but I’ve started to realise that a cackle and kind eye can push it way down on my to-do list. And the more I prioritise what I DO over how I look, the further it falls with each passing day, until maybe one day I’ll realize that this ‘puzzle’ is already solved. And that this puzzle, in fact, comprises many different colours, shapes and sizes and that they all, in fact, fit together perfectly when we step back to see the bigger picture.

Now enough bored board games! Why don’t we go play outside instead?

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Bali HIGH!

Dearest scrollers and high-rollers!

I hereby welcome myself BACK TO THE WEBIVERSE! After an epic quest to the land of light, smiles and delicious dirty, divine scents (Bali) I return to you now full of Tempeh and a glorious tempest of memories and motivation!

You’ll notice that I have not – as has been my habit in previous posts – apologized for my absence! That is because said absence truly has made my heart grow fonder of the person wrapped around it, and why the HELL would I apologize for that?

“So whence in the Wild Thornberries did this soul safari venute originate!?”

…Is what my mother asked me in a less colourful manner. And the truth is I didn’t know until I was standing there saluting the sunrise on that first morning. The roosters crowed. The woodchimes chingled (I declare this a word). The smokey morning seeped into my lungs. The kites rippled on the waves of a wind that brought so much illumination and joy into my life. I say illumination because this trip wasn’t just one about discovering the new, inspiring, hilarious people and gob-smacking places, but about sheading light on the life I’d already lived and where it had lead me.

And to Bali it had lead.

In coming posts I will share so many of my experiences from Bali – like the Hawaiian Yogi who convinced this aquaphobe to swim out to an underwater cave, or the bikey who took me on a spontaneous, swerving scenic tour of a volcano – but what I learned can be summarised by a mantra I learned from a Yogi vixen from Venice Beach: “Breathe in gratitude. Breathe out love”.

And I need one hell of an inhalation to contain the gratitude that I have for these people, this place and the place they’ve taken me in my life. It was like I jumped in a cab and trusted that I’d get where I needed to go. No, scratch that. It taught me I didn’t need a cab at all (speaking more literally I partook in many cheap taxi trips and can report Ubudian drivers to be some of the most enlightened humans I’ve ever encountered!). Bali taught me that I am in the drivers seat. It taught me to own my journey and trust my own GPS, because it ended up taking me to the most harmonious, joyous places, both physically and metaphysically. Did I mention ‘Ubud’ is Balinese for ‘Healing’?

So I know this post is bouncing around like a ball dropped by The Juggernaut, but I wanted to share my imperfect joy more than I value perfect silence, so here it is.

Also, in reconnecting to my inner truth and youth I have found myself utterly immersed in Disney and fasntastical delights once more, and had to share this bad boy!!

http://www.buzzfeed.com/kmallikarjuna/27-confessions-that-will-make-you-believe-in-the-magic-of-di

Thanks and hugs to all!!!

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Pearls of Wisdom

In my opinion the world is not only your oyster, but a sea full of pearls whose shells we must crack open.

pearls-of-wisdom

Another phrase I praise is: ‘Do what you can with what you have’.

I believe this is the essence of Mindfulness in one phrase. It compels us to appreciate the self-proclaimed ‘awesome’ guy who baristas at your favourite coffee joint; the feeling of your best friend’s new haircut on your fingertips; being inescapably present to your pounding heart across your collar bone after an afternoon run… Or chasing the buzz of writing a blog post at the witchingest of hours.

Sometimes, however, it is more challenging being here, now. That in no way means we shouldn’t be there. In fact, like a mind-shagging hand of cards, the hard moments demand our attention more than ever.

Teenage years span a big hunk of the existential, emotional spectrum. Electric highs and cutting lows.It’s open soul surgery.

When I was a teen I found myself on the stage, in words that were both older than my family tree and words that had been penned by me. I felt the world’s personal, Oysterly promise to me. It was mine.

But there were times I felt that oath broken. I felt like a shell. Hormones and hidden, insidious naysaying (as opposed to my now highly regarded ‘Nay Sayings’) sent me down an isolating path.

‘I feel helpless, Mum.’

My throat ached as I finally voiced those words to the person I begged to make them untrue.
But she didn’t.
Now I realise she couldn’t. But I didn’t then. In that moment all I wanted was for her to keep me afloat. To end the descent I’d been diving down.

‘You’re never alone, my Angelpuss. I’m here. I love you. What’s happening? Let me help you. It gets better…’

This is what I begged to hear. In a perfect world, maybe I would have.

But we all know our world is marvellously imperfect.

“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.”
– George Orwell

‘…Maybe think about someone other than yourself.’ She said.

In that moment all I heard was that begging for sanctuary was selfish. Being seen and heard was an ultimate sin. This was a schema I’d shown myself years prior to and proceeding that day.

But as Rafiki insists to Simba at that funky soul pool: ‘Look harrrrrder.’

Image

 

In a way Mum gave me something more important than a life raft. She made me save myself. She showed me the bottom of the plunge pool. She forced me to find it with my own two feet and find my own strokes back to the surface again.

What’s more? She taught me to see outside of myself. She made me hunt harder than ever for that oyster.

I don’t think that’s the lesson I should’ve learned in that moment, but as an insightful tutor recently told me: ‘you never know when a lesson’s true value is learned’.

I no longer wish to concern my time with wouldas, couldas or shouldas. They’re like McDonalds. Addictive and noxious to the body and soul.

What is nourishing? Trying new dishes. Forming new pathways: physically and thereby physiologically. Learning new lessons and opening up old ones from time to time.

Today I found said nourishment in my Newsfeed. Yes, Facebook! That captivating, fluid Modern Museum. Facebook is somewhere I often consider to be an abundant chasm filled with a wondrous, surreal world. Look but don’t touch.

But today I chose to look somewhere that touched me. Today, at 4am on a Monday morning I awoke with Mum’s words floating in my ears and I used this infinite space-book to find a life outside myself.

She was called Roberta Errico and was a lead dancer at an academy. It was her emoticon-enriched post on Actress Lily Collin’s photo that had caught my eye. That was our first connection right there. A shared love of Lily Collin’s. There ya go!

It was the first of many. With one roll if the scroller I learned that she lives in Naples and loves fantasy novels about vampires. I thought how beautiful ‘blood-sucking’ would read in Italian: “suzione del sangue”. Awesome.

I thought about how she might pronounce her name. Would she roll her Rs? Last year my favourite part I played onstage was named Roberta. In 2012 a highlight of my year was a pizza pilgrimage to Naples’ St Michele Pizzeria. Some of you (like me) will know it as the home of the Eat, Pray, Love pizza. I wondered if she’d tasted it too.

(This video itself merits a whole blog post. “Giovanni likes the muffin!”)

We can find so much with a single click and choice to be open to starting a new search. As Sonder says: “think about the random passers-by, each living a life as vivid and complex as your own.”

Some might consider this stalking, but the truth is that this is an expansive, online aspect of modern life. And I feared it more than anyone. I’d been shirking it like an Amish grandmother.

But now I see the bounty of information that awaits me when I breathe, click and decide to feed off some new buzz.

And the Web is just a map for the World Wide. These profiles are animated and navigated before our eyes every day. They; you and I deserve to be seen.

Get an appetite to know and be known.

One of the best morsels in all this? This curious hunger self-perpetuates. Find out what nourishes you. Become a Soul Nutritionist*. (*stay tuned for this for more on this!)

So here’s my proposition to you: nourish yourself with someone new. Online or standing right before you on the morning commute. Be ‘that girl’ or ‘guy’ at the bus stop who wants to know how their neighbour takes their coffee and why. You never know where the conversation will careen. Look outside yourself, as my Mum told me.

One of my favourite quotes is that: ‘Creativity is the courage to let yourself out and the world in. It’s as simple and complicated as that.’

The kicker? I wrote that quote. And I’ve got plenty more pearls to share. Why not crack a new oyster shell today?

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Room for Improvement

Shakespeare once erroneously wrote that: “Journeys end in lovers meeting.”

Now it should be stated that I do maintain a lifelong subscription to this prodigious life-penner and his works. But in reference to this statement? Well this is one, Will, where there is simply no way.

It’s not that I don’t believe in fate. Or journeys. Or the act of making acquaintance. And I definitely believe in love: epic love that rocks your socks (and jocks) off and makes you feel both more energized and peaceful than you’d ever imagined possible. Like a human lava lamp: constantly bubbling and reforming in unique, exciting shapes every moment. This is what I see both a great love and life boiling down to. A frenetic, fluid force that warps and contorts but never fails to give off light.

By contrast, the fateful finality with which Willy-S refers to love/life makes me think of the grand chandelier in Beauty and the Beast. Raised aloft in priceless perfection many years ago. Beautiful from a distance, but gathering dust.

But what’s lamp got to do (got to do) with it?

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Don’t we all, sweet Brick?

Well, ladies and lumieres, during a recent ‘D&M’, a dear buddy of mine had the innovation to liken personal development to a home reno. Much like the ‘body is a temple’ terminology, he sees our body and soul as a house that we must both inhabit and maintain as well as restore and renovate when our life’s ‘spirit level’ seeks to rebalance.This house, as with life, is both a place for relaxation and inspiration; for motivation and perspiration. It is space for love to live and illuminate (like lamps; geddit?), if we let it. But, more important than all – it is never ‘finished’. There’s always a room for improvement.

Now I’ve never really been a domestic goddess, but I am an avid bedroom philosopher and this theory started me thinking about my life’s blue-print.

So recently it occurred to me that I’ve been searching subconsciously for ‘completion’. For the perfect ‘estate’, rather than a state of mind. Like newlyweds with new money, I’ve been trying to hastily develop myself into haphazard McMansion. I’ve been rendering my walls and double-bolting my doors before I even laid a solid foundation.

My whole life I’ve been developing. I’ve been accumulating colour charts and works of art that I feel reveal my personal palate. I’ve been trying to build a solid roof over my head. I’ve been working out the right sized windows that both let me see the world and seclude myself when I so choose. There have been times when I’ve let people overstay their welcome. They convinced me to knock down some walls only to have them rebuilt in double brick. They left me feeling like my house would never be ready for auction.

And that’s how I’d been managing my estate: like a project. A property to perfect the image of by Sale Day; as though one day it would be done, dusted and ready for a down-payment.

Ok, real estate talk? Recently it has hit me that life is much more complex and infinite than that. My goal is no longer to reach my ‘highest potential’ (or potential buyer), but to live within this potential. Every day. To view each day as a chance to build something new and see how each of my grand designs develop by the light of a lava lamp. It’s time to love the walls I live in. In fact I may knock them down all together. Maybe it’s time to try open-plan?

I may not be much of domestic deity. Indeed, I decided if I was bestowed with a summer vacation I owed my vacuum the same courtesy. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be house proud. Or make every surface a ‘feature wall’ once I learn how to hang a painting. And learn how to paint, for that matter.

However grotty, grandiose or lily-guilded my abode may be, I’ll never stop renovating and reinterpreting who I am. Because was it not also Bill Shakespeare that said: ‘This, above all: to thine own self be true’?

 

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Shootin’ hoops!

‘You are your own worst critic.’

We’ve all had it said to us at some point. Unless we’re Mr. West. He just has a cacophony of his own voice growling ‘Yes We Kan(ye)!’ on loop to a backing track of motorbike engines and Eagle Squawks. Or so an unNaymed source reports.

Someday he’s Bound 2 get it. Anyway, as for the rest of us, we’ve all been guilty of a shameful face-palm or internal flogging from time to time, be it duly deserved or otherwise. Whether it stems from eating a plate of Tim Tam-stuffed hot cross buns; starting your assignment a gentlemanly 2 hours before its due or maybe even being a total buttplug to someone you love… We’ve all felt like stuff ups from our muff-ups at some point.

It’s OK! Learning hard lessons is a hunky dory practice! And at times a kick up the keister is just what the quack ordered. It’s how we grow and establish our values.

However, be it from billboards demanding us to ‘Lose your Winter Bulge’ or perfectionist parents or your own ameliorative ambition, certain things seem to feed this masochistic part of our minds.

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Indeed, oftentimes this voice of self-offense becomes too omnipresent; too omniscient; like it always knows best and we (the meaty vehicle for this judicious naysayer) do not. Well, fellow magnificent meat-bags, it’s time to stop roasting ourselves and let ourselves be the raw, unreliable hunks of awesome that we are. Ma always said that cheap cuts make the best stews.

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So let’s ditch the meat motif and browse the illuminating corner of Buzzfeed that prompted this post. As it happens, it was this Bucket List Check-List that helped me check myself before I wrecked myself. As the ticks kept coming I started to feel like the kind of ‘Accomplished Woman’ Austen would consider it her authorial duty to depict (well, a girl can dream!)

I said before that I knew myself to be guilty of some neglectful Nay-talk. In the past the din of my insecurities has almost deprived me of some of my greatest achievements: a devil shouldering out any angelic, affirmative action. Like the fact that I’ve survived and thrived at uni overseas by myself (voice: ‘you could’ve gotten better marks and eaten less croissants!’), that I successfully auditioned for an internationally renowned theatre school (voice: ‘you have the emotional availability of a sausage!’) and that I bared my heart to disarm my Prince Charming (voice: ‘if he doesn’t ask, don’t tell!’) and many more.
Nay VS the Naysayer.
No more.

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Affirm believer

Darlingest blogonites!

A thousand apologies for my absence! I trust your hearts are now expectorating fondness.
I’ve been a very productive, then illness-plagued and now PIONEERING lass of late! I’ve had huge internal discoveries and I’m expelling myself out into the universe to make some external ones too!

Yes, aves and apis (birds ‘n’ bees for geeks), I have applied to volunteer in Thailand and Bali, teaching English! I know what you’re thinking… You have to actually adhere to the basic structure and established vocabularation of a language to teach it… but I hope to rein this Neigh Neigh in a bit for the good of these new, blooming lives!

This decision to not only inquire but INSCRIPT myself in this life-affirming opportunity is indicative of how the past few pages of my ‘Novel Experience’ experiment have been playing out! In the past week I’ve applied to 2 volunteer programs, 3 writing gigs as well as sending a video application for my dream job as a lingerie vendeuse. Excitement; expression; exhibitionism… That’s what the paint on my canvas now!

With the support of my psychologist, friends who give infinite extension of their ear lending and – of course – numero uno, I have realised that I have let resentment, fear and an obsessive hunt for approval dilute the richness of my life. I’ve been like a lioness hunting without actually wanting to sink her teeth into anything; without even thinking she could catch even the wobbliest of wildebeest. No more. I’m ready. I just can’t wait to be queen.

At the start of the year I wrote a declaration to devote myself to this quest into the wild; into wellness.  I had the talk then, now I feel like I have the walk. And that’s a point I want to make. I am not  BEGINNING this journey now. I am just noting the feet I am following. I think that’s something about making resolutions. I am ‘affirm believer’, and support goal-setting like a show-mum at a Spirit Finger Competition. But what life has learned me lately is that there is no separate ‘New Start’ to headline and heed. No. The future is now, as Marty McFly has undoubtedly thought, and porbably said over the course of the 3 films. If he hasn’t let me prepare my haughty-letter-hatching type writer. But I digress!

I’m demosntrably a very visual vixen, so the way I’ve been looking at myself and my personal growth is with the image of a jar to fill up unti lthe lid pops off. Recently, I realised I’d been waiting for that spontaneous moment where the lid would catapult off into the rest of Life’s Kitchen. But now I see it differently. We’ve all had those self-actualizing, brutish battles to open the jar of pre-made pasta sauce. I know my family isn’t the soul subscriber to Instant Italian cuisine… Guys? Mi scusi? Anyway the transcient glory of popping said jar-top was always met with awe and indignation, in equal measure. ‘I LOOSENED IT FOR YOU!’ your brother/mother/blasphemous Italian aunt would contest. And as a infamously victorious lid-loosener, know that I rob myself when I admit that… well… they were right. Contrary to instant gratifcation implied by its ingredients, that jar taught me that success takes both time and teamwork. So let’s twist again and take a moment to look back on proclamations we’ve made; goals we’ve set and kicked and boxes we didn’t even realize we’ve ticked:

January 1st, 2014.

This year I dedicate myself to wellness and action.
I will live moment to moment. I will shed my yesterday skin. I will breathe in this air right now. I will look forward to tomorrow. I will truly have a HAPPY New Year and dedicate myself to helping others to do the same. I will take my own steps on my path. Each time I trip is a new journey: disorientation leads to discovery. I will enjoy being a woman: I will feel pretty and witty each day. I will rejoice in new shoes and a smoky sunset. I will take the time each morning to connect to myself and my world. I will create at every corner. I will live and breathe my words. I will share my thoughts. I will truly OWN this year in a way I never have before; in a way that intimidates me. If my dreams aren’t scaring me, then they’re not big enough. I will take positivity off the page and live it. I will commit myself to courage. Courage enough to reach for the highest shelf; to make that call; courage enough to say I truly gave everything to a moment. I’ve spent my whole life holding myself back. I don’t resent this part of me. It comes from a place of protection; of survival. I wanted to stay safe: to stay alive. But a life without leaps of faith; without butterflies and fears and inevitable tears is simply one of existence. Oscar Wilde said that ‘To live is the rarest thing in the World. Most people just exist, that is all.’ Well I am not most people. I’ve spent my whole life striving to stand out and yet longing to be accepted for my differences. I realize now that I can only control one of those things. It’s time to let go. It’s time to let go of this quest to be quantified and qualified by the beings around me. You are all beautiful souls searching for the same thing. People of infinite intrigue and passion with your own world to share in. Some of the best advice I have ever received was from my vocal coach,Stephen Costan. He told me 5 words that echo in my artistic, anxious, ambitious soul whenever I need them most: ‘You have nothing to fear’. I’m beginning to see anxiety for what it is: an illusion: a pair of shades that will protect me from the World’s shine and hide the sparkle in my eye. Because this universe is full of light: from the sun peaking between the clouds: from the smiles of my dearest friends: from the unique giggle of a man on the train: from that song that moves you to tears and those words that echo in my ears. There’s light in his eyes and shooting across the beachside skies. This year I commit to creating each moment; to loving it; and to loving myself and my fellow human for making it what it is. This year I will be honest and open. I will love myself the way I want you to love me. I am a chaotic, crazy, kind, passionate philosopher who has just learned to admit that I crave love down to my core. My vulnerability is my strength. I will be brave enough to let you in. I’m going to let you in my walls and help me knock them down. I won’t let myself push you away. This year I’m going to write beautiful, inspiring, ridiculous things and people will read them. People will hear them. I’m going to act. I’m going to take ACTION. I am going to live for myself and NOBODY else. I am going to give up control and concepts of perfection, because it has made me sick and held me back for far too long. I won’t be paralysed or antagonized by that voice that says ‘enough is never enough’. FUCK you. I am enough. This piece I’m writing is enough. It’s not perfect. Neither am I; but it’s a piece of me that I dare to share with other hearts and minds. It may be loved; hated or ignored. I may be loved; hated or ignored. But these words are mine. This voice is mine. This day is mine. This year is mine. 

2014. I am going to own it.

 

It is utterly inspiring for me to re-read this piece below and realize how far little steps have taken me. I said I’d share my thoughts. I have now gotten close to 700 views on a blog I never knew I’d even begin, let alone maintain. I said I’d let people in. I am now 3 months into the most loving, honest, supportive relationship I’ve ever known. I said I’d start to believe that I was enough… And I’m walking further along that path every day; prowling like a lioness, ready to sink my teeth into new, exotic, philanthropic adventures. I’m speaking figuratively of course… I won’t eat the children. As adorable as they are.

Fingers crossed for the volunteering gigs!

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