Habits are so hot right now aren’t they. Experts everywhere are talking about habits. How to break them, how to make them, wellness habits, business habits, parenting habits, habits to make you rich, and habits to help you sleep. Luckily for you, I’m rubbish at habits. Not as rubbish as I used to be, but still rubbish. Being bad at habits and therefore routine, you might assume that I’m all fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, spontaneous, floating along wherever the breeze may blow. I’m not that either, at all. I suppose I’m somewhere in the middle, like most people, probably like you. I’d like to be better though, and I think life could run more smoothly, just like the podcasts tell me, with a few tweaks here and there. I’m not going to give you any advice, but here’s the tip of the iceberg of changes I’d like to make. I’d love you to add your three in the comments below.
One to Break
Staying up late for no good reason. There are some good reasons to stay up late, but not many and they’re not at my house. Staying up late has definitely become a habit. When I go to bed late, I wake up late, I wake up tired, and I can’t be bothered starting the day in the way I’d like to - in a way that sets me up well for the rest of the day. Days are precious and like everyone else, I have a lot going on in life. Now more than ever I need to give myself the best chance of having a decent day, and it seems to start the night before. When I’m home, I’m going to bed by 10pm.
One to Make
Clean my brushes completely, immediately. I’m good at working right up until the last second and sticking my brushes in a glass of water when the clock strikes “school pickup”. What I’m terrible at is coming back to them in a timely fashion and finishing the clean up job. I’m ashamed to say that my beautiful, treasured, expensive paint brushes can sometimes stay in that glass of water for a couple of days. Bad artist, bad artist!! I must make a new habit of cleaning up completely, immediately. I am not silly enough to think I can achieve this in any other room of the house, but I’m going to do it in the studio. If I’m late for school pickup, you’ll know why.
One to Keep
Drawing every day. Every day. I started doing this a few years ago, and at first I was a little shaky. Sometimes I didn’t feel like drawing and sometimes I didn't know what to draw. Sometimes I didn’t have my proper drawing tools, the right sketchbook and my good pencil or pen. So sometimes I didn’t do it. I didn’t feel like I was “good enough” at it. But guess what? There’s no minimum standard required. Now drawing in the sand is enough, so is half a crayon on the back of an envelope. Daily drawing makes you an opportunist, a maverick, an adventurer. Now that I draw every day, I don’t get attached to the outcome and am less critical not just of my drawing but of everything.
I’d love to know what has worked for you, be it health, wealth, work, parenting, or just the general management of your crazy life. Add your breaker, maker and keeper in the comments below.
Yesterday my family departed for the last time, from a special little piece of the earth we’ve been blessed to call our own. This little piece of land has changed us all forever.
I confess that I enjoy procrasti-searching on real estate websites. It’s so easy to find yourself falling into real estate hypothetical la la land. It’s one of my favourite ways to avoid folding the washing or cleaning the bath. (I have many great strategies for this actually, but that’s another story.) Anyway, one fine clothes-pile-laden evening, I found a ripper. I’d been searching for pretty land in pretty places, but not because we were interested in buying. I was searching for fuel to feed the yogi, artist, earth mumma, nature lover, beautiful-thing-maker, creator-of-something-out-of-nothing show reel that I play in my head when I need direction and inspiration.
The photos of this property were oh so pretty, but that’s not unusual for real estate sites. We’ve walked through enough properties to know that you can’t expect an actual property to match its super-lens, digitally-enhanced marketing photos. We booked an inspection partly because the photos were incredible, but also because this property was just out of Marysville - a town that already had our hearts from many years prior, and also a town that maybe needed our love. We hadn’t visited since the Black Saturday bushfires, and a day trip felt overdue. We decided to arrange to visit this property just to see if the pictures were real. They were not just real, they barely did justice to the beauty and the magic, and the vastness, and the wildness. The scars were deep and still pretty fresh, but this land had us at “We’re here”. We were like a corny tv commercial. My husband and I walked in awe, glassy eyed around the land as the children squealed and ran and skipped from one new discovery to the next. They ran their little hands over the charred tree trunks and forged pathways through bushes that scratched their skin and they didn’t even notice. Big daughter hugged trees while little one collected “crystals”. As an artist, my mind was wild with possibilities, ideas, projects, potential. This fourteen acres of raw, wild bushland with a tragic past became ours 6 months later.
This is not the first time or the last time that a procrasti-search has ended in a purchase, but this was especially unexpected and could be filed under “Acts of Great Intent and Enormous Optimism”.
Should we name it? Suggestions from the back seat came fast “Friends Road!” from the older blue-sky girl. “Long-time-to!” from the little one who doesn’t like winding roads. “The Beech” the front seat agreed, still in awe of the ancient Beech Myrtles we’d wandered through on the last visit. We called it all of these things, and more.
As we spent time there over the years that followed, we made big plans and dreamed beautiful dreams of what this place could become. Our children made markets and cafes from sticks, rocks and found rusty things. They made billy teas from the plants they found and learned to recognise, and made perfume from whatever was around that particular season. They made a skink hospital. We met locals. We made friendships we intend to keep. We learned so much about our land. Camping with a tent, and no running water or power, we had to. We did endless research into the history of the land and the vegetation of the area. We found Indigenous land management philosophies that were worlds away from what our trusted authorities prescribe. No surprises there. We did our best to give back to the land what it needed, and what it once had, but we also stood still a lot and watched nature’s recovery processes taking place. All this, while every time we visited eagles soared above, watching us too. We didn’t do everything we’d planned, not even close.
Now we are handing it on to the next custodians and I know they’ll have big plans and dreams like we did - it’s that kind of place. We hope they spend many happy years watching and learning and growing as they too become a part of this special land.
So how has it changed us all forever? How did Marysville make us? I don’t yet know exactly what the special purpose of this whole exercise was in our lives. Along with the joy and adventure, there was also some stress, backache, and a bicycle cog through a little big toe. I do know though, that I will look back on all of this one day and see that it was transformative for all of us, and maybe I’ll even find the words to describe it. It’s not so obvious in the present moment to see the effects of any such journey but in the rear view mirror of life I’m sure it will be clear.
If not, that was some very expensive camping.
See you soon Marysville xo
I haven’t really done much. I’ve not done mountains of things. That’s why I’m perfectly qualified to write this piece about getting things done.
If you wanted to lose 10kg (by the way, you don’t need to), would you go and ask the metabolically-gifted, naturally and effortlessly reed-thin friend who is always complaining about the problems associated with not being able to fill out the back of her jeans? (Apparently these problems are real, don’t scoff) Or do you go to your other person you know, who has battled a bit with their health. Your friend who has made lots of attempts, and almost as many failures, but seems to be thriving with vibrant health and happiness right now will be a far greater source of wisdom. (Youdontneedtolose10kgsyoudon’tneedtolose10kgsyoudontneedtolose10kgs)
So that’s where I come in. I’ve not done lots of things and I have failed so many times in so many ways. But there are somethings I have done. Allow me to be your guru!!
Here’s how you do stuff.
1. Power Up
In order to get to the end of these 4.5 steps, you’ll need a some juice, some fuel. This is kind of like packing your bags for a holiday, gathering ingredients for a recipe, or packing the entire contents of your house into a nappy bag (yes, memories permanently burned in). Preparation is everything and you need to prepare your mind.
I power up with inspiration that will convince me that anything really is possible, I am an amazing human being, and that the universe is on my side. Podcasts, books, TedTalks, meditation, time spent with world-conquering friends. Any or all of these are great at getting your mind where it needs to be before you begin, and you must continue engaging in these mind-feeding activities. Forever.
There comes a time when you have to actually start doing your thing, whatever that is. At this point, you must tell someone that you have started and what your end game is. Not your dog. Tell your world-conquering friends, tell your cheer squad. Don’t have any world-conquering friends or a cheer squad? Tell someone who does stuff. It’s likely that at some point you’ll tell someone that will respond with something less than encouragement. When this happens, grab a permanent black marker and write “DON'T TELL ME BIG STUFF. MY MIND IS TEENY WEENY.” across their forehead. This will protect you or someone else from making the same mistake in the future. Return to Step 1 and re-fuel. Once you have told the right person, the person who will ask you how it’s going next time they see you, you will feel a little nervous buzzing feeling. That's just the cogs of good action starting to turn. Now it’s time to gather your resources, make list of what needs to be done, and in what order, and place a goal date beside each. And now do it.
I know you can't quite afford it yet, and you don't have all of the necessary expertise, and the timing isn't right, but just start anyway.
3. Have a Breakdown
You are going to have an emotional breakdown of some kind. Whether your thing is building a veggie garden, tracing your ancestry back to the beginning of time, getting a book published, or turning your little passion project into a multi-million dollar enterprise, you are going to have a breakdown or three.
What is important to realise is that it is just another step in the process. An important step. It’s not the end. It’s resilience-building. Have your breakdown, get a haircut, move on to the next stage. Perhaps you need to re-visit Step 1. You won’t have a cheer squad celebrating every time you cross an item off your to-do list. It will be lonely and tedious at times and you’ll find lots of excellent reasons to abandon ship. For goodness sake keep going. Have your breakdown, and then keep going.
I have two words for you. Self sabotage.
I know the things you do to that keep you small and safe. You say No to little opportunities because you’re too busy, not experienced enough, have other responsibilities. You refuse offers of help because you don’t want to inconvenience anyone, and you don’t put your hand up for help when you know you need it. You let due dates slide, because then you’ve missed out and that lets you off the hook. You listen to the naysayers on repeat in your mind, and you call them “voices of reason”. I’ve done them all, I’ve resigned from awesome jobs, and turned down perfect opportunities because I was scared of failure, and also scared of possible success and the unfamiliar territory that success may land me in.
I was in the audience for Missy Higgins’ first keynote speech where she spoke about her creative life and creative process. She was an amazing speaker, and had a great story to tell. Her advice for getting stuff done was “Don’t take any shit from yourself”. Call yourself on your own crap, and get it done. Keep going and don’t stop until it’s finished. UNTIL IT’S FINISHED.
The extra half a step accounts for the fact the you must keep returning to Step 1. Tell someone you’re starting, return to step one. Have a breakdown, return to step 1. Rescue yourself from self-sabotage, return to step 1. Finish you thing completely, return to step 1. There are so many resources out there
In the comments below, tell me how you do stuff. How do you Power Up? and tell me I'm not alone in my self-sabotaging ways....?