Saturday, February 23, 2013

In need of illumination?

Hello friends. I hope wherever you are you are well and happy and enjoying a weekend. I’m just home from Melbourne after the most amazing week doing some deep soul searching with a sensational group of people at the School of Life Summer School Intensive. If you don’t know about the School I highly recommend you check out the website, or visit the Bloomsbury hub if you’re ever in London. I’ll promise to write all about my week when I’ve had the time to digest all I learned.

You may have noticed I’ve been rather quiet of late. I haven’t broken my arm or abandoned my writing, but been holed away stirring the pot on a project that’s been on my mind for such a long time. In the last couple of months snippets of ideas, thoughts, observations and discussions that have been tangled up in my head (sending me a bit crazy) have finally started to unravel and morph before my very eyes. I can’t tell you how excited I am.

For years I’ve dreamed of bringing together two passions, creativity and helping people, into a project of some kind. Looking for answers I paralleled a career in design and user experience with degrees in Art Therapy and Psychology, but on completion was feeling even more lost for a way I could bring these two diverse fields together. For months I stewed and wriggled uncomfortably in a fog. I impatiently watched, waited and listened. Finally, by letting the overthinking go, ever so slowly an idea appeared.

“… I feel empty inside”
“… after 15 years of marriage, I don't know who I am”
“… with my last child going to school, I just don’t know what to do”

I feel empty inside. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what to do. Over the course of time I’ve heard these and other similar words so many times from so many people. I’ve observed it in faces and in interactions. Every time I just want to reach out and hug the person and help them uncover the beauty and richness they have inside of them. If only that were possible.

Of course it is, and it's exactly what I plan to spend the next few months putting my heart into. I’ve developed a new program that will help people illuminate the darkness within, to uncover the riches that have been buried by the grinds of daily living and pushed down by internal and external pressures. The program aims to surprise and delight in the rediscovery process, to enable people to embrace their true selves and to couragously open the doors and let their light shine into the world.

The Illumination Project is born. I am excited beyond words.

So what does this mean? Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be releasing some more details about the program which will first up take the form of in-person half-day workshops. The activities I’m planning will be playful and fun, with opportunity to both reflect and create. I’m running my first workshop in Sydney just after Easter, and based on the outcome I’ll be scheduling more in Autumn. If all goes well, I’ll be taking these workshops to Melbourne and then possibly online. Weeeeee!

Doesn’t this sound like a magical thing to do?

Get ready to be illuminated.

Pen and peplum and me

Did I mention that the delightful Miranti over at Pen & Peplum interviewed me about work, life and workspaces? Take a peek here...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Treat yourself like you would treat a friend

This week I had one of those days. We've all had them - a day you're pulled in a thousand directions but never quite reach any of them. A day when you feel misunderstood. A day where you feel leaned upon a little too heavily, like every request is just one too many.

A point of bucket overflow. You've nothing more to give.

I realise it's my tendency to drive at full throttle, pacing through life at a rate of knots as the 'can do' person. It's a lifelong habit I'm working to undo, but in the meantime...

Sometimes it all becomes a bit too much.

And what do I do? I beat myself up for not being able to do it all. I treat the very being and body that's pushed on silently without complaining like I don't matter. I tell myself I'll tend to my needs later, they're not important. As long as everyone else's are looked after I'm ok.

But I'm not.

And this past Monday I realised that I wasn't. But rather than talking down myself and soldiering on, ignoring my internal whimpering, I did what I've set out to do this year.

I treated myself like a friend. Not a slave worker, but as someone who needed to be respected and nurtured. Believe me, this is a big shift.

I asked myself, what would I do for P if he rang me all messed up and worn down? Would I tell him to pull himself together and get back to work, and make sure he kept slogging til the wee hours of the morning because hey, sleep is for wimps. Would I tell him his health doesn't matter and dining on something fast and furiously unnourishing is exactly what he should do. Would I tell him his own personal desires come second to those of others, that his dreams are just that: dreams?

If I did I'd be dropped as a friend like a flash of lightening.

So I decided I'd treat myself the way I would treat any my friends. I ran myself a bath, drank tea, watched something on TV that made me laugh until I cried. I chatted long-distance on Skype and smiled stupidly at pictures of Tuna the wonder dog. I went to bed early.

By the time Tuesday morning dawned I was a new woman, and a night of nurturing had given me something more than the time out I so desperately needed: it gave me perspective. So my work wasn't completed; in time it would get done. Or not. There's always more work. But reality is if I'm not at my best, I can't do my best.

So dear people, take my lesson to heart. Please be as kind to yourself as you would be to your nearest and dearest. Treat yourself like you are your own best friend. It will make such a difference not only to you, but those people around you who can only but benefit from your renewed zest.

// KINDling list: It's a great idea to create a list of the things that perk you up when you're batteries are getting a bit low. Download and write your top 5 kindlings onto this card, cut it out and put it in your purse for when you might need a gentle reminder.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Build blocks to make time

Do you have a project or venture in your head that you've been trying to find time to get off the ground?

Does it seem so enormous that you're blinded as to where to start, and you find you're doing anything to avoid spending time working on it?

Do you fear that in devoting time to this project other important things in your life will have to give?

Dear readers, if this sounds like you I know exactly how you're feeling. You've got some kind of vision, you just can't seem to get further than that. You feel overcome by all that's involved.

I've had a project that's been sitting on the slowest simmer for months now. I find all the excuses in the world not to tackle it - 'it won't be perfect, people won't like it, I don't have time' and so on. In addition to making time to nurture this venture, I'm finding it hard to break it down into nice little chunks. Ironically, helping people break down complex problems is one of the things I do for a living. But hey, teaching others how to 'make things better' seems far easier than putting it into practice ourselves.

This week I met with my mentor and fully spilled the beans on my idea. She listened intently, and then said something that had been once said to her:

You have a huge gift that will be of service to the world. Stop making it about you. Get on with it.

There it was. The truth. I'm preventing myself making a difference to other peoples lives by holding myself back with my own insecurities. We all have something to give, yet it's only us that stops us from giving.

So I decided there and then I had to get over myself and make a start. This project isn't going to manifest by itself. This week I have committed to spending 10 hours working on moving my project forward.

Ten hours I hear you say? Woah, that's alot. On top of a full-time job and all the other things that need to get done. I thought so too, until I broke it down.

What I did was divide the ten hours into manageable time chunks and visually map them out - small squares for 10 minutes, large squares for 60 minutes. After sticking this chart in my working journal all I had to do is cross off the chunks of time as I'd done them. I'm writing against the squares what I achieved towards my project in that time block.

And you know what? It's working. I'm actually making tracks. When I'm feeling fearful and blocked I take a ten minute chunk and do something small. When I'm inspired I will work for the sixty minutes then take a break.

What about those breaks? I hear you whisper. I still need time out from this plan of mine. The great thing is this technique works for planning breaks too, actually it's good for anything where you would like to dedicate time. I've created a note in my book a chart of nice things I want to do for myself as breaks over the weekend. This way when I'm looking for some downtime, I just choose something from my chart. It could also work for jobs around the house, dinner party plans, really the applications are endless.

What strategies do you have for dedicating time to things you're finding difficulty moving on? If you're feeling stuck and decide give this method a go, I'd love to hear how you get on.
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