What I Learnt This Week is a passion project I started in 2015

I decided to take note of and blog about one thing that I learnt each week. It sounds simple but it can at times be challenging. Some weeks I feel as if I’ve learnt nothing and other weeks I have difficulty choosing which lesson to write about.
Read along and join in if you want. Follow the tag #WhatILearntThisWeek on Twitter and Instagram.

About me

I’m a visual artist and illustrator based in Sydney Australia. I love to write and draw and am somewhat of an over-sharer (if there is such a thing in this day and age).

I really enjoy observing people so that I can draw them and this leads to all kinds of amazing observations and lessons I can learn and share.

I work in both traditional pen/pencil & paper as well as digital images. I specialise in two broad styles of drawing a) cartoon style pen or digital drawings and, b) traditional/realistic drawings of a wide variety of subject matters. My painting style is representational but I break areas down into blocks of colour and paint on thick dark lines to distinguish different areas of interest.

Recent Blog Posts

WHAT I LEARNT THIS YEAR 2017

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I have realised that I am an open book. Most of me is on full display and I don’t have a lot of hang-ups when it comes to subject matter… well I do have some, but not as many as most.

I like to share stories and ideas, things I’ve learnt (well obviously LOL) and talk about big ideas that interest me. It’s something I’m passionate about… I like sharing ideas with my immediate family, friends close and far and online communities.

I’m a talker. I can’t help myself 😛

I have really enjoyed sharing my ideas via #WhatILearntThisWeek for the last 3 years and I did it without expectation of response. There is something lovely about doing a project sans expectation… it’s liberating as it means any response is a pleasent surprise.

I wrote these posts for myself as much as I did it to help other people. It’s been a kind of public diary. It’s never concerned me if my ramblings were popular, read widely or shared… that’s not what it was about.

I have decided not to continue with #WhatILearntThisWeek in 2018 only for the reason of time-saving. I am deciding instead to focus my daily art practice.

All of the lessons and self-reflection has made me realise that I want to be a full-time artist. I want to be known for my work, earn a good living from my art and expand my skills so that I can fulfil my own creative imaginings.

I’m sure I will still find a way to share my musings, as I can’t help myself, but from now on I will regularly share my artwork instead. So it’s out with an old project and in with a new… and I will once again share my work without expectation of response or success.

Here’s to a creative and art filled 2018! Viva creativity!!

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 52

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The year’s end has come around so quickly that it terrifies me.

Each year speeds by faster than the previous one and there is no reason to believe that time will slow down anytime soon.

Now that I’m in my 40’s, I am questioning what I have achieved so far and if it’s enough. If I’ve learnt anything from writing these posts over the last few years, it’s that we can always do more than we think we can.

We can write more + create more + love more + dance more + care more + look after ourselves better + engage with our community more + be better.

Every second our life is ticking by… tick tick tick tick tick… it’s equal parts terrifying and equal parts liberating. Every second we have spent so far is gone and we cannot get it back. It doesn’t matter what we have or haven’t done in our past up to now… NOW, from this SECOND onwards it’s UP TO YOU to make the most of your life, your skills, your loved ones and your time.

Make every second count.

Minutes or hours lying on the couch relaxing counts for something… I’m not saying we have to be at action stations all the time. But finding the right balance and making sure that at the end of each day we have achieved something to be proud of, helped one other person, done one kindness and have done our best to look after ourselves, then it’s a day well spent.

Listen to the ticking clock counting down the rest of your days and don’t see it as a terrifying tick of impending doom… instead choose to see it as counting up to great things, counting up to your best self. Make the seconds count… your time starts NOW!

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 51

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Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek fame famously says, “Make it so”. He does not command his crew to wish it so.

Just like the crew of the USS Enterprise-D you need to get shit done. Wishing for things to happen or to come to you will NOT make it so.

Sitting on the couch watching Netflix is fun (in appropriate doses) but it’s not going to get you to where you want to be in life. If you want a career then work hard to get it. If you want a lover then go out and find it. If you want a different life make steps every day to get that different life.

Sitting around and waiting for life to happen to you will get you nowhere fast. Sitting around and being sad about what you don’t have will only lead to sadness and depression.

Do shit.

Get up.

Work hard.

Stop wishing and strat doing.

Figure out what you want in life.

Go out and get what you want in life.

Don’t wait for life to come to you… go out and meet life head-on.

Listen to Captain Jean-Luc Picard and make it so.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 50

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Life is too short to kiss arse.

According to Wikitionary kiss arse = To flatter or perform favours excessively, especially to receive preferential treatment from a boss or other superior.

There is a huge difference between being kind and polite and kissing arse. Some people want to get ahead by sucking up to the rich and powerful people in their circle. This is sad to watch and it seldom works.

Most people who are truly powerful don’t respect kiss arses. They want to be treated the same as everyone else. If someone does respond to kiss arserery they are probably a massive douche and you shouldn’t want their approval.

Instead of investing all of your energy into sucking up to the “right people” why not put that same energy into being freaking awesome. Send your time and energy kicking arse. Be the best you can be. Strive harder. Run further. Work harder. Be the best you possible.

The right people will notice at the right time and you will get ahead if you keep working hard enough. Think of how satisfying it would be to get to where you want on your own merits instead of by sucking up to some smarmy git.

This does not mean that you can’t get help or favours from friends and influencers along the way, but they should want to help you because of your hard work + tenacity + mad skills + desire to succeed + abilities rather than because you kissed their arse.

So, the next time you find yourself pursuing your lips ready for a good arse kissing… question your own skills and choose to work hard on yourself and your projects instead of sucking up for preferential treatment. The win will be so much sweeter.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 49

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Regardless of whether you’re doing something for yourself, for someone you care about, for a stranger or for your community… do something every day that makes a difference.

When we have a crisis of conscience and wonder why are we here… the answer to that question doesn’t really make much of a difference in our lives. What makes a difference to our lives, our hearts and our minds is to know that we are making a difference.

We can feel overwhelmed with what we should be doing and what kind of legacy we will leave behind, but freaking out about it won’t actually make a difference. Action will make a difference.

You may not have a grand plan. You may not know what change you want to effect in the world. We are not all going to leave a mark like Elon Musk. We can’t all change the world on a grand scale. You can, however, make a small and accumulative difference.

Your difference does not have to be huge. Small gestures can change the world.

Bring in a neighbour’s rubbish. Help someone into a store. Pay for the next persons coffee. Send a cake to a lovely old couple sitting in a cafe. Deliver a takeaway meal to a friend who is having a hard time. Call someone who you know is lonely.

You don’t have to be a huge hero. Just be a little hero… every day. Take action. This will add up over a lifetime and make a real difference. Maybe no one will even notice… but you will 🙂

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 48

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Some people try to be as normal as possible and will do anything to fit in. I recently saw a lovely video of Pink (the singer) talking about her daughter and her motherly advice was that normal was boring and to always choose weird.

While I don’t think you have intentionally manufacture weirdness, just being yourself and comfortable in your own skin can be weird enough for most.

A lot of people are spending so much energy trying to fit in, trying not to stand out and trying to be “normal”. What the hell is “normal” anyway? No one is going to give you a gold medal for being “normal”. You’re not going to get to the end of your life and be proud of not rocking the boat and for being the most “normal” person ever.

You have a choice. Be normal or be yourself. You might not be normal. Why not just be you? Imagine the energy you would save not trying to be something that you’re not.

So, make a conscious decision to be a fluro pen in a world full of boring blue byros. Imagine how bright you could be!

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 47

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I’m not sure if it’s just an Australian thing but tall poppy syndrome really affects people’s ability to shine.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel is an old proverb taken from the Sermon on the Mount. While I am not at all religious, Jesus had some wise words to share and by saying this, he was telling his believers not to hide their faith.

I use this saying to encourage you to not conceal your talents or abilities. If you have a mad skill… use it… share it… don’t be afraid to be FUCKING GREAT!

According to popular music, you’re supposed to shine bright like a diamond but as soon as you start shinning in Australia you get pulled back down and put in your place. We can’t have any tall poppies rocking the boat. It can be so extreme that some people don’t ever strive for greatness for fear of being called out.

I cop a bit of tall poppy bashing from time to time as I am not shy about sharing my talents or acknowledge that I’m good at certain things. We are all great at something. It’s as if we are supposed to be so ‘modest’ about our skills that we have to pretend that we’re really crap at everything to be accepted in society. Well, I say, FUCK THAT!

If you are really great at something… shine brightly. If people can’t handle that, then shine brighter. Don’t hide your light under a bushel.

Why are we so concerned with fitting in? We need to get out from under our own private bushel and shine bright! All of us.

Rhianna has it right… shine bright like a diamond!

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 46

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The older I get, the less room I have in my life for high drama.

I am not talking about real life drama like accidents and illness… we all have to accommodate real shit like that. I am talking about the attention seeking high drama of the emotionally inept.

You know what I’m talking about… those seemingly from nowhere tantrums that some grown-ups will have. They misinterpret your words or intentions, they make up stories for attention and stir up all kinds of trouble for anyone within hands reach.

They exist (although there are not too many of them left in my world) and they are dangerous to your emotional and mental wellbeing. There is so much real shit going on in the world and in your life that you don’t need any manufactured drama to pile on.

How much drama is too much drama? For me, fake drama is too much drama. I won’t put up with it anymore. I have reached peak high drama!

From now on, people who bring this kind of shit to the table will not be invited back. I really don’t have the mental or emotional room to accommodate these toxic and energy zapping people. I have to save some energy for my own real-life drama, the good things in life and time for cuddling puppies. I can think of a million things I’d rather be doing with my life and or time than putting up with anyone’s high drama.

Take a look around and see if you can identify the high drama individuals in your life. If they are easy to eliminate from your life then go for it. Life is too short to give up perfectly good Netflix and chill time to try to talk a sense into a fake drama addict.

THIS IS A HIGH DRAMA FREE ZONE BABY!

 

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 45

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A good girlfriend of mine says this and I love it. She abbreviates it to CUTO!

It’s so spot on. We all need to start saying this to ourselves… like all the time!

You’re always going to have tough times. We all are. No one is going to have a smooth ride through life. Ups and downs are in your future… they’re going to happen no matter what measures you take to avoid them. So, what’s a girl to do?

Well, you’re going to put your chin up, pop your tits out and get on with your day. It’s the smart thing to do. All the cool kids are doing it!

I often say, “put your big girl pants on and get on with it” but that can sound a bit mean… but maybe it’s my abrupt in my delivery. Whatever it takes to keep you moving forward is a good thing.

There are other benefits of CUTO… putting your chin up makes you look thinner as you are eliminating most of your double chin (s) 😛 and putting your tits out can also make you thinner… it’s always good to lead from one of your best assets.

So the next time you’re feeling a bit flat, down or unmotivated… put your chin up, stick your tits out and face the world full frontal… fake it till you make it… you’d be surprised how far this philosophy can take you.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 44

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It’s important to make things. It’s a fundamental human trait. We make all sorts of things… we cook, draw, write, paint, sew and create things almost every day and while for most of us it’s just a hobby some of us also try to make a living out of it.

I sometimes want to stop making something or using a particular style if it isn’t popular, doesn’t get any love or sales but why should that matter? If my intention is to make work that I love, does it really matter if it’s “successful”? I think not.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the capitalistic philosophy that rules all of our lives, but there has to be room for love activities, things we do just for us and passion projects. If some of them take off and make some money or garner some online love then great, but don’t let that be your driving force.

Only making things for profit or popularity will change the way you make. It will prostitute your ideas. It will make your work insincere and soulless. Often, it’s the soulful secret ingredient in a book, recipe, piece of writing or hand sewn gem that makes it super special.

We need to make from a place of passion. Keep making, keep challenging and keep trying new things… maybe one might take off and become a success but what the fuck is success anyway. Success is in the making. You actually got out of bed and made something. That is the prize. That is your gold medal.

GO OUT AND MAKE SOMETHING… NOW!

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 43

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2017 has been an amazing year for women. It seems to be the first time in history that women – on mass – have been heard. The world is finally listening, despite the fact that roughly half of the world’s population are women.

The women’s marches that happened around the world, the outing of serial sexual predators and the rise of the Me Too discussion have elevated women’s rights and feminism to new heights and it is wonderful. It’s not the end of the road, rather it is just the beginning of a much larger conversation that, if continued, might lead to real and sustainable change.

Exciting times.

I have however had a few interesting conversations with men who I had thought of as “woke”. Men who I love and admire and who I thought understood the issues women face on a daily basis.

At the end of the day, only women can really understand what women have been putting up with for decades. I was silly of me to assume that men would go out of their way to understand. Their lack of understanding does not mean that they don’t care, they are just not aware of the frequency of sexist bullshit the women in their lives are living with.

I do feel temporarily furious when a man gets defensive and says “yeah, but it’s not all men”. Yes, I know that you numpty, that’s why I’m talking to you about it. If I really thought you were a heartless dick then I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you, would I?

I resist the urge to slap these guys up the back of the head. Yes, we do know that it’s not all men that treat women terribly – consciously or subconsciously – but sadly every woman has been treated terribly on the basis of their gender. Every single woman and girl in this world will come up against sexism at some point – in different situations and in various degrees but at the end of the day, it is every woman.

So, to the men in our lives who love and respect us, when we are taking about women’s issues, we’re not actually talking about you. You don’t have to feel persecuted. If we thought you were a sexist fuck wit, we would not be having that particular conversation with you.

Ok, we good now? Good!

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 42

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A friend of mine recently shared an amazing piece of writing by Pema Chodron on Hopelessness and Death. This sounds as if it would be something depressing but it’s actually very uplifting.

Hope can be a barrier to success. Think about it… if you spend all of your time hoping, then you’re not getting on with shit. It’s easier (in the short term) to sit back and hope for a different future, to hope that one day you will be a different you, hope for a knight in shining armour to swoop in and rescue you from your shit life or to hope for your luck to completely changing resulting in a different life than the one you currently have. This just doesn’t happen. Sitting back and waiting for great things in life to find you will not get you where you want to be.

Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty… We feel that someone else knows what’s going on, but that there’s something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world.
– Pema Chodron

If you are relying on hope to get you through then you’re not likely to be a success. Hope is not enough. Instead of hoping, why not look at yourself and figure out where you’re lacking. What is it that you need to learn or do to get ahead. What feelings of inferiority or worthlessness do you need to confront so that you can actually get on and get shit done? Stop hiding in hope and face your fears. Face your hurdles. Face your own limitations.

Hope can lead to misery as you’re sitting back waiting for life to happen to you rather than going out and making your own dreams come true.

Hopelessness or a lack of hope means you have faced your own reality and are no longer lying to yourself… you know exactly who you are and what you want to be. Only then can you be free to create, soar and succeed. Hopelessness is the ultimate freedom and we all need more of it.

If you want to read more of Pema Chodron’s ideas you can read When Things Fall Apart:  Heartfelt Advice for Difficult Times.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 41

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A lot of women I know apologise WAY TOO MUCH!

I used to do this myself until a friend of mine called me out! He got really annoyed and asked me why I was always apologising.

I have recently noticed some of the women in my life over-apologising… a crazy amount.

“Sorry, can you please get me the bill?”

“I’m sorry, do you mind if I go past?”

“Sorry to bother you…”

It goes on and on and on… frankly, I’m tired of it. What are we all so fucking sorry about? I don’t notice any men doing this… it seems to be an exclusively female problem. We are brought up to be polite but this is getting out of control. It is as if these women are apologising for being alive and I used to be one of them.

It’s time to not be sorry anymore… at least for things that we shouldn’t be sorry for. It wasn’t until I was called out that I realised how much I over-apologised… once I stopped I felt so liberated. It was rather miraculous.

I do still apologise for things, but I make sure it’s only for things I should really be sorry for, like bumping into someone or being really late. It’s time to stop being sorry for being alive… if you really can’t stop saying sorry maybe start out by transitioning over to “sorry – not sorry.” Over time you’ll get used to it and stop saying unnecessary sorry’s.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 40

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Happiness is free and it should be a social requirement, however, some people feel guilty if they are happy.

I know people who seem afraid of happiness. They feel guilty if they are happy or they think their happiness comes at the cost of someone else’s. I don’t understand this as I grew up in a very happy household with an awesome mother who still grasps every opportunity for happiness.

I’m not sure if this fear of happiness is a hangover from religion or family belief systems but there is absolutely nothing wrong with being happy. Being happy does not negatively affect anyone else and if it does that’s their problem.

Happiness has so many benefits. It’s good for your health, it’s good for your mental state, it’s good for the people around you as it is an infectious state of being and it is good for your soul. We can sometimes hold onto negative feelings as there is something satisfying we get from them but there are many more long-term benefits that come from being happy.

Sometimes happiness needs to be manufactured. Think of laughing yoga… it seems silly to fake laugh but within a millisecond, the laughter becomes very real. This is also true for happiness… you can’t wait for it to come to you, you have to manufacture it… the more you have it the more you will get. It’s one of those things (like love) that gets enriched rather than diminished when shared.

Make a conscious decision to be happy… see the best in every situation… have a good laugh… read a funny story… watch a silly movie… do everything in your power to be happy TODAY. Maybe you’ll get more comfortable with happiness and it will grow… happiness is the best infection you could get 😛

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 39

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There is not a lot we wouldn’t do for love… love is wonderful. It’s a fantastic drug that keeps us going through the tough times. However, if it feels bad, then it’s not love.

Love is uplifting. Love is caring. Love is joy. Love is support. Love is NOT pain. Love is NOT suffering. Love is NOT abuse.

We all want love, it’s a deep human desire. However, some people are sooo eager to be loved that they put up with all manner of crap. They put up with being treated terribly and they think they are loved. Well, I’ve got news for you… love should not feel bad.

Love is like a good pair of shoes. It supports you, makes you look good and lifts you up. We’ve all had a bad pair of shoes that pinches, makes your feet look horrible and leaves you with a sour look on your face due to the pain. Well, when a pair of shoes makes us unhappy, we get rid of them (or at least sensible people do) and we should do the same with relationships that hurt us.

You deserve to be loved… choose your relationships wisely.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 38

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I find it interesting that some people will complain about a gift they received… perhaps they have forgotten about the real meaning of giving.

gift
a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.

A gift is something that is supposedly given willingly as in its voluntary. However, society has evolved and there is a lot of obligatory gift-giving these days and this can lead to tension and resentment.

Some people are better at giving gifts than others but we don’t only give gifts. We also give our time, attention, friendship and love.

In a perfect world, we would all give the same amount and no one would lose but that’s not how life works.

My cousin recently said something that made a lot of sense… people are either fountains or drains. It is such a perfect description of how people can be givers or takers. I am sure at different times in our life we are fountains and then at other times, we can be drains. At the end of the day, it’s the average of give and take that matters.

The next time you feel like someone isn’t giving you enough, ask yourself… what have you given? do you really deserve more than your getting? are you being a drain and not a fountain? Think about it!

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 37

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We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get certain things done by a deadline… for many of us, it’s the end of the year. I do this a lot. I put loads of pressure on myself and when I don’t reach my self-imposed deadline I get really really mad at myself.

But now that it’s nearly the end of the year it’s time to reassess. What is really important and what are you really capable of completing? There is no shame in moving the goal post.

Doing so could make you more efficient. It could allow you to work harder on the really important projects. By giving the important projects the effort and attention they deserve you can get a better result… leading to a better feeling of accomplishment.

Finishing 10 tasks in a half arse manner won’t win anyone any prizes. Finishing 5 and doing them really well is much more desirable.

It’s good to set hard to reach goals but it’s also important to reassess and make sure you can not only finish them but finish them well.

So now that we’re a few weeks out from the end of 2017 take a moment to make sure you’re using your valuable resources well and don’t try to be a hero… there are no gold medals.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 36

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Further to my last post, I can be really hard on myself. I used to feel so bad when I’d give myself a deadline and then not meet it. I’d sometimes abandon a project because I had not finished it on time.

There are some things that absolutely positively have to get done on time… these non-negotiable deadlines are firm and real and we must do our best to meet them. I’m referring to things with real-world consequences like paying your mortgage on time.

However, some of us put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get EVERYTHING done ALL THE TIME. This is really unnecessary and can cause a lot of stress.

I do this. I try to be all things to as many people as I can. I have learnt recently that I can’t do this. It’s just not physically possible. I have to pick my battles and pick which tasks I need to get done today, this week or this month. I have decided to stop bullying myself into doing too much and I feel much better for it.

It would be nice to be able to get EVERYTHING on my to-do list done today and I’ll do my best, but if I don’t get to fold the clean clothes or make it to the post office before closing, that’s ok. I’ll get it done the next day.

Are you putting too much pressure on yourself? You might be stressing yourself out for no real reason. Try to remember you don’t always have to be on time… give yourself a break… as long as you get shit done, eventually 😛

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 35

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I am my own worst critic and I am by far my own worst bully. We, humans, are a weird bunch.

Some of us spend a lot of time building up the people around us but we simultaneously tear ourselves down. What is with that?!? Where did we learn this behaviour? Can we stop it? Yes, yes, we can…

I got myself an art coach earlier this year and she keeps reminding me to be kind to myself. I am super-duper hard on myself and I rarely give myself a break. Being periodically reminded to be kind to me has seemed to have worked. It shone a light on a behaviour I was not aware of. I did not realise that I was my own worst bully until someone called me out.

I am taking small timeouts – even when I’m seemingly crazy busy. I’m forgiving myself for not completing everything on time. I am allowing myself to eat the occasional naughty something without chastising myself. It has allowed me to do more work, be more creative and basically set myself up for greater success. It has had a really positive knock-on effect.

There is another side to being kind to yourself. If you are kind to yourself you are showing others that you deserve kindness… in effect, you are leading by example. Show others that you respect and treat yourself well and they will too – and if they don’t, well they can just fuck off 😛

So be kind to yourself. You deserve it… and you’ll probably get more shit done!

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 34

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There are some people out there who really hate women. I really don’t understand this – perhaps that’s because I am one. Sometimes it is cultural and sometimes it’s just that someone is a complete dick. But whatever the reason it’s just downright baffling.

Every living and breathing human being on this earth was built in and came out of a woman’s body. Just think about that for a moment. Women are capable of making people…  like a whole person. It’s mind-blowing and it’s something we take completely for granted. Yet women are considered the weaker sex.

So, if you hate women… then you, in fact, hate yourself as you came from a woman. The toughest most masculine manly man in the world came out of a woman’s body… every single man, woman and a child came out of a woman’s body. Until we have developed an alternative method of growing people, we should praise the strength and flexibility of women.

If you hate women, you need to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and wonder why you hate yourself. Work on that and then start treating women with the respect and care they have always deserved*.

Mike drop!

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 33

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It can feel like we’re fighting arseholes all the time… let’s face it, chances are we are. There are a lot of big egos out there that we have to deal with on a daily basis but the only we have to control is our own.

ego
noun
a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.
he needed a boost to his ego”

The ego is a funny thing… it’s hard to get your head around as it’s intangible, essential and potentially problematic.

The ego is the part of our psyche that facilitates belief in yourself. It allows us to take chances, believe in our ability to get shit done and we need it to keep pushing forward in life. Getting a handle on our own ego is a lifelong process and as our circumstances change we need to adjust it accordingly. This process of adjustment and change is mainly subconscious but we can at times be aware of it.

Without our ego, we would get nothing done. Trouble comes when we try to control other people’s egos instead of our own.

We have no rights or control over other people’s egos. While we can influence people, who are in our circle, we cannot control their ego. That is up to them. That is their responsibility. But many of us waste waaaaay too much time trying to tame others people’s egos.

The sooner we can let go of our desire to reign in other people’s egos and focus on refining our own, the sooner we can get on with the business of living our own lives.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 32

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Never before have we been fed more bias information and it’s not just the fault of news media.

Despite living in a 24-hour news cycle world, we are all getting most of our news from social media. How much of this is actually true? and how much of it is skewed towards our existing point of view?

We like and follow people and associations that we admire and respect, creating a social network of potentially like-minded people and organisations. There’s nothing wrong with that right? Well… this means that we are only presented with news and ideas that already align with our own way of thinking. We can edit our feeds so precisely that we may never again be presented with a challenging idea or alternate opinion.

Now we can even filter which news organisations we wish to receive news from. Surely that’s not a problem right! If you only get your news from an extreme left or extreme right news source then you will not be presented with an opposing point of view. How will you ever learn about other points of view, or how your ideas affect other people? We learn so much by being challenged. We even learn by arguing (respectfully) with others. We could, after all, be wrong or sitting on the wrong side of an argument. It’s not until we are presented with new ideas that we can see both sides and only then we can make an informed decision.

We are spiralling out into small silos of communication, only hearing our own point of view fed back to us and only speaking to people who agree with us. This reinforces dangerous ideas and is a terrifying side effect of social media. This phenomenon is in part responsible for the rise of previously isolated and maligned groups, like the recent public display of white supremacy in the US.

This is one time when more information is not necessarily better. We need to worry more about the quality of the information, news and opinions we are deciding to digest and accept. Think about how biased your news and social media feeds are… are you even allowing yourself to be challenged?

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 31

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Sometimes it might be nice to fantasise that we could always get our way… but we really do need to hear the word “NO” sometimes.

Think about people in history who became so powerful that no one could ever say no to them… they nearly always ended up completely bonkers.

Once he was truly famous, Elvis was out of control. He was taking all sorts of pills. Pills to wake up. Pills to go to sleep. It has been reported that anyone who stood up to him and tried to get him back to health would be unceremoniously removed from the inner sanctum. This lead to a “YES” culture that ultimately lead to his untimely death.

Look at the end of Michael Jackson’s life. He was out of control. No one could rein in his spending despite being in enormous debt. It seems that no one was able to convince him that it was not wise to share his bed with children. When it came to doctors, he shopped around for one who would do his bidding rather than what was good for him and we all know how that ended.

I wonder if these two incredibly powerful men had people saying “NO” to them once in a while – assuming they were heard – that things might have turned out differently.

Think also of two modern day examples. I can’t imagine Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin get told “NO” too often. I am sure that the people in their inner circle know not to challenge them. Look at the effect of this NO FREE ZONE is having on all of the world, not just in America and Russia.

No one should be immune to hearing the word “NO”. There is nothing wrong with being challenged. It does not mean that you have to listen, but it is wise to take it as an opportunity to question your own actions, thoughts and logic as you might be able to find a better way of doing things.

Make NO your friend… don’t avoid it.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 30

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Now that I am recovering from the flu rather than dying from it I am stunned at how weak us humans are when facing a virus. It’s mental how quickly it can debilitate us.

This year’s flu was particularly bad… it hit our household and it hit us HARD. It’s amazing that something so small (like a virus or bacteria) can bring us to our knees.

I am not the kind of person who cries a lot… I’d say I have a good cry about 4 times a year (not counting the occasional TV Show/Movie/Commercial related tear) but with this flu I cried up to 4 times a day. The pain was horrendous… I hadn’t been this sick since 2007 when I got whooping cough from a colleague who coughed in my moth (between kissing cheek 1 and cheek 2).

As I lay there feeling very sorry for myself, I felt like an abandoned baby. When you’re an adult you have to get up and make soup and pour your own water… we regress but sadly our circumstances don’t meet that expectation. Anyway, I made it through… I just hope I am somehow stronger for it… eventually.

The flu is a great equaliser… everybody gets sick… eventually.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 28

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Anger is a tricky emotion. It can be a positive force in small doses but can be a very toxic and destructive emotion if not managed correctly.

anger
noun
a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.
“the colonel’s anger at his daughter’s disobedience”

 

The trick to benefitting from anger is to use it as a motivating force. It’s holding on to anger that is dangerous to your physical and mental health. If you can use it as a motivator to strive further or work harder then you are transforming it from a negative to a positive force.

Anger can make you feel strong and powerful. It may even help push you forward to get what you want. It can be the incentive for change that you need to succeed and flourish.

It is believed that anger can make us push on towards our goals in the face of problems and barriers. Perhaps there are some milestones we never would have achieved had we not been sufficiently wound up by anger. Maybe a small dose of anger is the secret to success?!?

So, the next time you feel anger rising… make sure you don’t hold onto it. Use it as a force for good. Use it as a catalyst for change. Turn it into a positive drive forward. By not holding on to it you can improve yourself and push yourself further than you thought possible.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 27

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I always find it hilarious in movies when a character tells someone to leave only to be devastated when they go. What did they expect would happen?

This seems to be a common phenomenon on the screen… and in real life.

Is it because they overestimate their own importance in the other person’s life and can’t believe they would ever leave them? Is it because they’re afraid of letting someone get close enough to them to see their flaws/weaknesses?

It’s not just a poorly advised ultimatum that I am thinking of. It’s the behaviour of pushing someone away for some unknown reason. I’ve seen this in so many people – including myself at times. It can be done as a test to see if this person really wants to be with you or a fear of letting someone get too close. Whatever the reason, the result is often the same… the person will eventually walk away.

While that is to be expected… the pusher is almost always surprised that their tactics to be alone actually worked. It’s a strange human phenomenon and I’m not sure that many people are even aware that they’re doing it.

So, remember that while you cannot control the decisions someone else makes, however you can influence them heavily. If you are alone wondering why no one sticks around… ask yourself if you are pushing people away. While we all strive to be tough and resilient, we don’t have to be so tough that we end up all alone. Remember the role you play in your relationships and don’t make promises or demands that will hurt you if and when they come true.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 27

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I learn differently to others. It took me a long time to figure this out. Not surprisingly I am a very visual person (being an artist/illustrator).

I struggled through primary school with traditional teaching techniques. I would have fallen really far behind were it not for my amazing mother who would teach me extra work after school. She kept me interested and inspired. She found a way to reach me.

Not everyone has an amazing mum who is so dedicated to their education and because of that a lot of really naturally smart people, slip through the cracks.

We are all so very different and it is silly to think that we should all learn in exactly the same way. Education is coming around to this way of thinking – finally – and you can see some fantastic out of the box teaching going on around the country and the world. Even though there are some advancements, I am not sure that it is communicated to the child that we all learn differently.

I know children who feel stupid and left behind because they’re struggling in one or more subjects. It erodes their confidence and diminishes their self-worth. More often than not, if they get the right tutelage (either from a family member or professional tutor) they eventually ‘get it’ and you can see the change in their level of confidence. I think it is important that we all understand that we learn differently and instead of striving to compete with some random standard of assessment, we should instead focus on how we learn as an individual.

Finding our individual key to learning is perhaps one of the most important education milestones we can conquer. Once I figured out that I will never learn by reading the manual and following the text and that I learn best by being shown and experiencing the problem rather than reading about it, I was set for life. I now learn things very quickly… I only wish I had understood this while I was at school.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 26

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I have fallen victim to the perfectionist trap… many times. We can want so much to be perfect and to never fail that we can become trapped in a world of little to no change.

The truth is that if you never fail it means you’re not doing anything new or difficult. Wildly successful people haven’t succeeded by never making mistakes. On the contrary, they make many mistakes – big and small – but instead of letting their mistakes cripple them, they learn from them, grow and move on to the next mistake on the way to success.

Failure is not always a dead end. It can be a huge opportunity to learn. In fact, it’s often not until you have failed that you can figure out the right course of action to take. Look at Steve Jobs for example… he had some epic fails but they did not paralyse him… they energised him and he went on to be incredibly successful.

We need to become resilient to failure so that we can bounce back, learn and go on to thrive. We need to teach this resilience to children so that they can challenge themselves, grow and innovate.

Do something that scares you, be prepared to fail and then to go on and be awesome. The only people who don’t fail are losers who are happy to stay in the same place for eternity.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 25

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It’s hard to accept this at first but it is true… you have to be a squeaky wheel.

People by nature are lazy and will not go the extra mile to help you. Also, some people are actually bad and will take steps to get in your way or impede your progress.

 

The squeaky wheel gets the grease is an American proverb used to convey the idea that the most noticeable (or loudest) problems are the ones most likely to get attention. It is alternately expressed as “The squeaky wheel gets the oil”
– Wikipedia

 

We knew a lady who was very dramatic. She would go to the doctors or the hospital and scream and carry on until they saw her. We thought this was terrible, but she did get seen very very quickly. It wasn’t until I was much much older that I realised the wisdom of her actions. A few years ago, I was in a hospital emergency waiting room waiting to be seen with a raging eye infection… I won’t describe it but it was becoming very serious very fast. I was constantly pushed back in the queue until my awesome mother kicked up a stink. It’s sad that this is what it came to but it was the best and only way to handle the situation.

I know of people who have applied for the NDIS only to be offered little to no help despite being very disabled and in need of help not only to enjoy life but to survive. In each case it has taken stern action by themselves or their advocates to be taken seriously.

We want to think that people are out to help us and that they have our best intentions at heart but it is often not true.

Be kind, be respectful and be patient but if you can’t get the help or service you need then be a squeaky wheel… squeak loud and squeak hard… be very very squeaky. Squeak loudly and be heard.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 24

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Most people who know me, know that I’m a feminist. I was born that way.

Feminism has recently had a bit of a resurgence and I’m glad for the discussion and increase in awareness. However, I am weary of the discussion. Why is it we still have to fight for equal rights. For fucks sake, it’s 2017 already. Haven’t people realised that regardless of gender or race that we are not the same but we certainly are equal. How are we still even talking about this?

The problem isn’t only men… it’s a lot of women. I recently said, “I’m a natural born feminist” and two women (one in her 20’s and the other in her 50’s) said, “but I like men”.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. For fucks sakes… can we please stop equating equal rights with man hating. Why is that me wanting to be granted the same rights, opportunities and safety as a man mean than I hate men? I LOVE MEN. Seriously just shut the fuck up already.

Just the other week I was at the art gallery and a sweet old man started up a conversation. Through his thick old man white bushy beard, he asked me a question about Margaret Preston and I made the statement that it was sad that she was considered a crafter rather than a full-blown artist while she was alive because she was a woman and he said, “for god’s sake, don’t tell me you’re one of those”. He went on to tell me that I was a silly little girl and that he doesn’t understand why women complain so much. Do we really have it so bad?

I actually felt sorry for him. What a sad little man. Does he not have a wife, a sister or daughters?

Anyone who is not treated as an equal regardless of why (gender, race, socioeconomic issues) should feel hard done by. Why should I be content with getting paid less because I have a little bit more DNA that a bloke (XY vs XX)? A woman getting equal pay does not belittle men… unless a man is so small and fragile that he needs more money to feel like a big boy.

It’s hard to believe that this topic is still up for discussion. Enough already. Let’s just respect each other and treat everyone in a manner we would like to be treated. Problem solved 😡

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 23

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I don’t have much trouble starting and maintaining a conversation but I do know this is a challenge for many. Even I get stumped occasionally.

I recently heard about an interesting technique that sounds like an automobile but it makes a lot of sense. FORD is an acronym to help people come up with discussion points when social interaction becomes difficult…

FAMILY: Most people have a family of some kind… you can ask someone if they have any siblings? Where they grew up? Do they have children?
Take a moment to listen, focus on their answers and ask more questions.

OCCUPATION: While I try not to sound materialistic when I ask this, what we do for a living is a huge part of who we are. Ask them what they do for work? If they enjoy what they do? What would they love to do if they had the chance?
This can open up many lines of discussion and you might find some common interests to discuss.

RECREATION: Who doesn’t love a good recreational activity! What are their hobbies? Great passions? Deepest creative desires? If they haven’t pursued any of their passions, when are they planning to start?
Recreation can be a huge passion point for people and it can really get the conversation rolling.

DREAMS: Do you have a bucket list? What is on your bucket list? When will you start ticking things off? Ask them if they could do anything, what would it be? What did they dream of when they were a child that they still haven’t done.
You never know, by having this discussion they might actually start planning their own dream fulfilment. Also, you might find that you have some dreams in common.
For each of these points, the key is to listen. If you listen to their answer then you will know what to talk about next. Too often people talk and don’t listen. You’ve got two ears and one mouth so try to use them accordingly… it makes for better conversation.
So, the next time you’re stuck in a going nowhere conversation, remember FORD and see for yourself how these simple talking points can bring us all a bit closer to understanding each other.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 22

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In the 1990’s Oprah started talking about poo. The subject was breached by Dr Oz when he started out on her show and at the time it was quite revolutionary. They talked about size, texture, colour, regularity and most surprisingly shape. They went on and on about C and S shaped poo. This was the holy grail of a healthy gut, body and lifestyle.

After watching Oprah’s revelatory poo discussion, I began checking my bowl for letters of the alphabet and was super disappointed that I could not see letters of any kind. Over the last 20 years I periodically checked my toilet bowl with anticipation and optimism, hoping I might have finally cracked the poo code.

“It should be an S shape and you want to make sure the colour’s normal because the colour of the poop tells you a lot about how you made it” – Dr Oz

Flash forward to a recent overseas holiday to Hawaii – I had never been to the United States before. Despite having been warned about the high level of water in American toilet bowls, I was still surprised by just HOW MUCH WATER there actually was. It was so high that I was scared of accidentally rinsing my hands in toilet water (thankfully I never did).

It wasn’t until my first number 2 in an American toilet that I finally (after 20 years) understood what Oprah was going on about. I had no chance of fulfilling my dreams of finding a C or even better and S shaped poo in my toilet bowl at home. There simply wasn’t enough water to allow a full display of my good works.

Not only did I have a great holiday in Hawaii, I got to fulfil my biggest poo goal – on a daily basis 🙂

It was comforting to know that I had always been as healthy as I could be (in terms of poo shape), but the limitations of non-American toilet bowl design never allowed me to fully realise how awesome I had always been. So, all along Oprah was right… I should never have doubted her wisdom… it was non-American toilet design that had let me down.

VIVA POO and as Chris Hardwick’s father used to say, “Any day you can take a shit is a good day”. Here’s hoping your day, and your poo, are good today 😛

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 21

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Superman is super strong but he is made weak by kryptonite. I am usually really strong unless chocolate is nearby. I think it’s safe to say that chocolate is my weakness.

It is not something I can moderate easily – if at all. I can hear chocolate calling me from hiding places in cupboards and draws around the house and I will eat it all until there is none left. Then once it’s all gone I can hear the call from isle 2 of the local supermarket which is only a 2-minute drive away… road trip anyone?

I think I’ve come to the conclusion that is something I’m might to defeat in this lifetime.

Maybe like other addictions – that are much more serious – I can’t ever be left alone with my addiction.

I’m not sure why it is such an issue for me. Is it the sugar? Is it the texture? Is it an association with nice feelings from my childhood? Maybe if I could figure it out then I might have a chance of getting on top of this one. Until then I am a slave to coco deliciousness.

While I know that I am fully addicted to chocolate, I don’t know how to get on top of it and am open to suggestions, tips and tricks… does anyone ever get to a better place with chocolate? I would love to hear your success stories…

I aspire to be the kind of person who can delay chocolate gratification and enjoy a block of chocolate over days and weeks… I’m sure it is possible (fingers crossed).

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 20

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Now that it’s winter – and a bloody cold one at that – it’s easy to talk ourselves into hibernating from the world, give up on our health & fitness plans and abandon projects. We retreat into our cocoons and watch Netflix (occasionally if we have enough energy, we might also chill).

While it feels natural to give into our lizard brain telling us to conserve energy and curl up into a ball on the couch, it is not the best use of our time. While a bit more rest and comfy cozy blankie time is delicious in these colder months, it’s important to keep moving and doing. You know how bad you feel after binge watching and entire series in a day… not saying I don’t do this… why can’t we watch 4 episodes and then get up and do shit?

Doing nothing makes you feel bad. It makes you feel useless and stupid. It makes you feel as if you’re wasting your life. In the long run, it makes you feel unhappy.

We are filled with potential. There are so many great things we could do – even in small increments – to make our lives and the lives of those around us better. It’s different for everyone but ask yourself, what is it for you? Is it writing a story, sharing a painting, studying online, baking a batch of cookies for a sick neighbour, doing some exercise, not eating the rest of the cake, writing to an old friend of heaven forbid, picking up the phone and actually talking to someone.

I know it’s cold, it’s fucking freezing, but put a limit on your supreme laziness and get the fuck up and do shit. Trust me, you will feel a lot better and happier 🙂

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 19

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cectimm_WILTW_2017_Week19
We are all so busy and so organised that getting lost can feel like the end of the world. Sure, if you’re super late for an important meeting then getting lost can be stressful. Also, getting lost in a dodgy area can be very dangerous.

So important meetings and danger aside… it can be awesome to get lost.

Recently on a super fantastic holiday in Hawaii we got lost a few times. Hire cars don’t have Gregorys in them anymore and if your map app takes time to load then it’s very easy to get lost. One day we took a road we thought would go up the east coast and it was a slow road… speed limit of 26 mph and at the end of this very long road we did not come out at the east coast, we were at a dead end. This was very disappointing but we decided to go with the flow. We had unwittingly arrived at a luxury hotel and decided to pop in for morning tea.

We entered this unknown hotel with no expectations and we asked where we could have some morning tea and made our way down to the kiosk by the beach. On our way down we walked across a quaint bridge over a lagoon and were stunned to see dolphins swimming in the water. Our no expectations had turned into immense joy. We spent more than an hour admiring the playful dolphins, talking to their handlers and we ended up having a fabulous lunch on a tiny private beach. It was the most happy and wondrous of accidents and proved to me that it’s ok to get lost.

We’re all in such a rush to get everything done, appear perfect to everyone else and not waste any of our time/life. However, while rushing around everywhere we are missing out on many opportunities that may be awaiting us around the corner, down the road or at the end of a log slow road.

Get lost… you might like it.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 18

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cectimm_WILTW_2017_Week18
I think that most of us are born with a lean towards being a positive or a negative person. This doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to be one way… we are humans and we are capable of growth and change. I do think though that it’s important to be aware of your slant and adjust according… if it bothers you.

There are great advantages to being a supremely positive person… perhaps the most important being that it makes life more enjoyable (regardless of your circumstances). Think about it, would prefer to spend time with, hire or help… a cranky long faced moody git or a pleasant person who is a joy to be around.

Some people are so cranky all the time and their attitude makes any situation worse – for themselves and for everyone around them. Why be that person!

No one signed a contract at your birth saying that life was going to be easy… there are plenty of hard times behind and ahead of us all. It’s up to us how we get through tough times and the tone of our mood and our point of view will determine how we ultimately experience these setbacks.

Even if the only thing being a positive person gets you is an adjustment of perspective, then it’s worth it. Make a conscience effort to see the bright side the next time you’re in the shit… it might just take the edge off.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 17

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I recently relearnt this old but wise lesson… and anyone who is friends with me on social media knows how much I enjoyed my last holiday.

While I was holidays, I saw a cartoon that highlighted the depression one feels upon returning home after an amazing holiday. This was not the case for me. After having an amazing holiday I am energised, refreshed, delighted to have experienced all that I did and ready to work my arse off so that I can do it all again.

I don’t holiday very often and I hadn’t gone on a big overseas trip in a few years (I’m not counting New Zealand as that feels like I’m going interstate) and it was long overdue. I had the great pleasure of going with two of the most fun and amazing women I know… my wonderful mum and my most excellent sister 🙂

We had the BEST time. Hawaii was wonderful beyond words and we crammed a lot in… making every day an epic adventure.

It’s so wonderful to learn about different cultures, traditions, geography, wildlife and food. In addition, the constant warm temperature was so good for my body… I could walk further, drive longer and was in a lot less pain than usual (maybe my happiness helped mask some of the pain as well). It was delightful.

Now that the holiday is well and truly over I am not sad or depressed. Instead I am extremely grateful for the effort put into planning the holiday, getting to experience living in paradise (even if it was only temporary) and the great times we had together. It has filled up my library of memories with so many beautiful images and fantastic experiences that my heart is full enough to get me through this wretched winter 😛

BOOK YOSELF A HOLIDAY NOW!

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 16

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Oh boy this is a big one… and some of you will immediately know exactly what I mean by this.
I have been living with a lot of chronic pain for several years now… I’m good at it. In fact, I think I should get some kind of award, but sadly this mad skill is not recognised.

The source of anyone’s pain is irrelevant when it comes to having to live with it. There are many types of pain – nerve, muscle, back, a sprained ankle, emotional pain and they all come in acute or chronic formats – all are hard to live with.

Something happens to you when you have to deal with a large amount of pain… like ALL THE BLOODY TIME. It wears you down, it makes you tired, it makes you cranky, it sucks the life out of you, it makes you not want to go out and play and it can eventually become completely oppressive.

It is not until you are taught tried and tested coping skills so that you can better deal with your pain that you can emerge triumphant from under the oppressive nature of pain. I am lucky that I did an immersive course at the Royal North Shore pain clinic which was very helpful but at the end of the day, you still have to deal with a bunch of never ending pain.

Even with guidance and daily practice of pain management techniques, pain can still pile up and become oppressive again. It’s a daily struggle and often you can’t win the battle no matter how hard you try.

The struggle is real.

Over 11% of people have chronic pain of some kind so if you know someone who is suffering try to do something nice for them… chances are they’re exhausted and a bit fed up.

Now that winter is here and the cold has swept in I am a prisoner of my pain. Cold weather is my kryptonite and right now I am doing my best to dodge the cold. You may not see me out and about much in winter but I will be doing my best to fight this great oppressor by continuing to work, create and be the best me I can be (from within my prison).

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 15

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As adults, we hold on to memories and archive many trinkets and keepsakes to make sure we don’t forget anything. We cling to the past as if it’s trying to leave us.

Children have not lived long enough to understand the passage of time and history; therefore, they have no need to cling to the past.

This lesson in living for right now is a great one.

As an artist, I keep all my drawings and sketches even if I don’t like them… what is that about?!? I worry about the archival nature of my art supplies so that any work I make that I do like has a chance of surviving. Why do we hold on to things so tightly?

A child does not cling on to things in the same way. A kid will make a painting and then happily rip it up. They don’t want you to throw it out but they don’t really think about saving, preserving and archiving it.

The same sense of impermanence is true of street artists who paint their masterpieces on public walls knowing that it will be tagged or painted over at any time. What drives people to work so hard for something that is not permanent? But then what is really permanent… is anything really permanent?

Maybe we’re focusing too much on holding onto the past and we should be focussing more on living right now.

Learn a lesson from the kids in our lives and try to let go of things in the past… don’t worry too much about saving every moment and choose to live in the impermanent now!

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 14

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This is an odd one for me to write as I am often found in the shade wearing a shirt.
I am kind of allergic to the sun. At least that’s the easy way to explain it. I have nerve damage that makes the sensation of the sun on my skin feel painful instead of enjoyable. At least that’s the case in Australia for most of the year except for early mornings or in the middle of winter.

I recently went on holidays to Hawaii and the sun did not hurt me as much there. Of course, in the middle of the day I wore my shirt to reduce sore skin but there were much larger chunks of the day that my bare skin could be touched by the sun’s rays and it was delightful.

Maybe it’s because I can’t usually get a lot of sun that this brief reprisal was such a delight. I do think however that most people are hiding from the sun… in their offices and locked away in their homes behind high fences and closed windows.

Although we do have to limit our sun exposure for health’s sake there are benefits from limited sun exposure. At the top of the list is that basking in a reasonable amount of sun is that it feels so bloody good. There is something our lizard brain revels in when we do it. If you feel like crap it makes you feel better… but like all good things it’s advisable to practice restraint. Small doses.

Now that I am home and the harsh Aussie sun once again hurts my skin for most of the day I am going to make a point of finding a few minutes a day to toast my fragile skin in the early morning or afternoon sun… I’m sure if it feels that good, it must be good for you 🙂

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 13

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One of humanities greatest strengths, and at the same time greatest weakness, is the belief deep down that we are never really going to die. This allows us to let go and enjoy life without freaking out every 5 minutes that it’s all coming to an end… but on the flip side, it also allows us to be lazy, complacent and able to watch life slip through our fingers without a sense of urgency.

We often think it would be a wonderful thing to be immortal, however if we did live forever we would have no need to get things done, achieve anything great, push out limits or even get out of bed in the morning.

The same way a deadline at school or college allows us to achieve great work, so does a deadline on our lives. Some of us are better at managing that than others.

I think I need a bit more urgency and drive to be able to do the things I want to do in this life… while others need a little bit more down time to appreciate what they’ve already got.

It is not an easy balance to strike however, if you know that you can adjust your levels of urgency and relaxation then maybe you can find a better level.

We don’t live forever so love, play and work hard… your expiry date might be sooner than you think so take this chance to find out what you’re made of instead of rotting away on the couch (FYI I see the irony of me writing this on my couch).

Check out my main man Neil deGrasse Tyson speak about the urgency of accomplishment that knowing we will one day die can bring… it’s not a doom and gloom thing, is a positive 🙂

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 12

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This is so simple but it is so true.

Some people are selfish with their joy… it’s almost as if they are scared that by sharing their joy it will somehow be diminished.

Joy is one of the only things in this life that is not diminished when shared… it is intact enhanced and grows every time it’s shared.

You never know if someone is having a bad day – despite how they present themselves – so drop some joy and let it spread… it might be just what someone needs to get through that day… and it might just come back to you multiplied.

Spread the JOY!

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 11

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Politicians in Australia are trying to cut costs and it looks like the next target they are trying to hit is education.

Education is one of the most important investments a family, community or a country can make. EDUCATION IS EVERYTHING. Without adequate funding for educators and students our future is very much in jeopardy.

If you look at Freakonomics – a method of applying economic theory to a variety of subjects and seeing how spending or saving in one generation can have knock on effects for years or decades to come – I hate to think what our current lack of spending on education will do to our future.

Dramatically cutting funding for public education will surely have a negative effect on our economy, politics and society in 20-30 year’s time.

Think about it… if you adequately educate your young people they will grow up to be well informed, curious and capable of questioning leadership. If you don’t properly fund education we will end up with a poorly educated population that will be less capable of standing up for their rights and beliefs… oh hold on… maybe that’s what the politicians want. Hmmmmm!

It’s all good and well to say that the best of the best will rise to the top and get access to scholarships but how can people get to that point. It takes a very good school, a passionate teacher, diligent parents and a well-funded and resourced education system or a combination of these. Removing adequate funding from the education system means that there is less chance of people reaching their potential. If you don’t have the opportunity to study then you won’t know if you’re any good at it.

Education should be for ALL not just the elite… let’s face it the rich or ‘elite’ get enough bonuses… those bonuses should not come at the cost of education for all.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 10

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When we are suffering from pain of any kind (physical, emotional or spiritual) we can feel very isolated and alone. At the end of the day can anyone truly understand your unique brand of suffering? No, chances are they cannot. Our suffering is as unique as we are and even if we are exposed to exactly the same stress, we will all respond differently.

This can make it difficult to feel like anyone can relate or help.

In truth, someone does not need to know my exact suffering to be able to support or care for me. It’s important to remember this the next time you’re riding out a rough patch. My friends and family try to understand the physical pain I put up with on a daily basis – I do my best to hide it – but no matter how hard they try, they cannot.

This does not mean that they can’t support me, listen to me and do their best to help me out when needed. It can be very difficult to accept help but we all need support at different times in our lives so it’s best not to fight it.

So, the next time you feel like no one can reach you, help you our support you remember that your loved ones don’t need to have gone through exactly what you are going through to be able to help. Accept that while they cannot understand exactly what you’re going through, that does not exclude them from being there for you. Let them make you a cup of tea… let them give you a hug… let them in and you never know, it might make things just a little bit easier.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 9

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If you treat someone with disrespect, you are teaching them that they are not worth respect. If you teach someone that violence in a powerful currency then you can’t be surprised if they decide to use it. Violence is a cheap and easy power hit and quite often people don’t know any other way as it is all they have been taught.

I won’t harp on about video games + the normalisation of porn + the glorification of violence in film & TV (think Game of Thrones to name one) … that discussion has being going on for decades and I do think they have a HUGE part to play in the increase in violence in our society.

The NSW Police commissioner retired this week and as he left he commented that there has a rise in domestic violence and an increase in the number of women being killed by their partners. What the fuck is going on and how is this getting worse… surely it should be getting better.

Last year, ABC’s 4 Corners did a stunning expose on the abuse children were subjected to while incarcerated. The violence and abuse that the children were exposed to was breath-taking. Family members would say that their kids were never the same after being detained… they had been treated so poorly that they did not feel worthy of being back in society!

There is something really wrong with our justice system, people are often in more danger in jail than out in the community. There is a power imbalance and I don’t know how it can be fixed. Norway seems to have a good way of dealing with criminals. People who are incarcerated are treated with respect + have nice accommodation + a strict routine + the doors to their rooms are not locked + they are free to roam around the compound often taking up educational activities. The recidivism rate in Norway is less than 20% compared to Americas rate of more than 76%. It seems that there is some wisdom in treating people that they are worthy of respect. If you teach someone they’ve got nothing to lose then they’ve got nothing to live for and will not strive for a better future for themselves.

Be mindful of what we are teaching people around us… every action we take is influencing someone around us. It’s up to you to make sure it’s a positive influence.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 8

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Sometimes you need to talk to someone about the issues swirling around your head and all you really want to do is talk… not listen to a bunch of solutions.

Have you ever sat down to talk to a friend or family member about something that is really bugging you and they come back with a simple and flippant solution before you’ve even got it all off your chest? Yup me too.

It’s right up there with mansplaining and almost all men will happily give you a practical solution without knowing the full set of circumstances you have to deal with. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we need to speak to our girlfriends to stay sane.

There are times for discussion and there are times for release. Granted it is hard to tell them apart. I too am guilty of offering simple solutions to complex problems I don’t fully understand, but I’m trying to get better at just listening.

I once read of an ancient cultural practice of finding a rock, telling that rock all of your problems and then throwing the rock away. I really like this idea as shows a good understanding of our need as humans to unburden ourselves. Often it’s the act of talking about our troubles that gives us the most relief. In saying the words out loud we can often see our own way out.

Some people do take advantage of this and complain all the time… I am not referring to those people. They suck and should be avoided at all cost!

So the next time someone close to you is pouring their heart out, take a breath and look at the situation. Ask yourself if they need to get something off their chest or really wanting your opinion. I’m sure with practice we can all get better at identifying when our sage advice needed.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 7

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cectimm_WILTW_2017_Week7Every day we pretend to be stronger than we think we are. Everyone is fighting a battle of some kind, but most people slap a smile on their face and get on with their day. This is one aspect of strength being a performance.

Think of all the times you pretend to be strong… you fall over in the street and get up, pretend to be fine even though you’re dying on the inside and your butt really really hurts… when someone you love betrays you and you act as if your heart is not breaking but it’s really really breaking… you’re in heaps of pain and you must carry on as if everything is right in the world even though you really really want to curl up under a doona and cry.

I often wonder who we are performing for. On the one had we act strong so that others will think that everything is alright, for example if there is an accident some of us will try to keep it together so that everyone else will feel that everything will be ok. But there is another side to strength as a performance… it’s the performance we do for ourselves. I live with a lot of pain and often pretend that everything is fine, even if it isn’t. It’s about pretending that you can do something until you can… fake it till you make it.

However, we can go too far though and many people pretend everything is alright when they are falling apart on the inside… therefore it’s important to take notice of our family and friends asking them every now and then if they are ok.

The hard part is finding the sweet spot where we are pretending just enough to get us through but not so much that we’re covering up our decent into madness.

Strength is a performance and some of us are better actors than others.

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 6

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Now let’s get one thing straight… I’m not a think happy thoughts and unicorns and rainbows will suddenly fill your day’s kind of person. That’s a bunch of crap.

While what we think is not going to karmically change the world… it does influence our health and wellbeing. However, being around negative people and things has a negative effect on us.

Much like a rotten apple will spread rot to adjacent apples… supremely negative people in your life will spread their negativity to you.

It can be difficult to eliminate negative people in your life as some might be in your family. Try your best to do all you can to reduce their influence on you. Avoid negative colleges, don’t call back old friends who only bring doom and gloom to the table and do your best to minimise your exposure to relatives who have nothing nice to say.

It has been proven that negativity is bad for your health… now that we know that, it’s time to make moves to reduce our own negativity and our exposure to that of others.

Be positive and repel the influence of the negative Nelly’s who want to bring you down to their shitty dark level. There is a lot of good stuff out there in the world… choose to focus on that 🙂

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 5

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There is so much talk about our core and how having a strong core is good for us… but is it really? Yes, it bloody well is.

I recently read a fascinating article about Why One Neuroscientist Started Blasting His Core and I’m totally convinced… it’s all about the core.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that a strong core is beneficial for our physical and mental health, but now there is the proof… scientists have shown a direct neural connection between the nerves in our gut and the part of our brain that deals with stress.

If I asked you to impersonate someone who was depressed, you would likely slump over… there is a reason for that. Someone who is depressed feels so terrible about everything that they can’t even sit up straight to greet the world. This may be more than a side effect. Maybe having weak core muscles plays a part in depression or generally feeling bad.

“There’s all this evidence that core strengthening has an impact on stress. And when you see somebody that’s depressed or stressed out, you notice changes in their posture. When you stand up straight, it has an effect on how you project yourself and how you feel.  Well, lo and behold, core muscles have an impact on stress. And I suspect that if you activate core muscles inappropriately with poor posture, that’s going to have an impact on stress.” – Peter Strick a distinguished professor and chair of the department of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute.

A strong core also has other benefits like a stronger back, good posture, improved balance, less injuries, organs are happier with good posture rather than being all squished together and you look a hell of a lot thinner when you stand tall.

So get moving no matter how horrible you feel. Do it just because you have to and maybe eventually you’ll end up enjoying it. Get yourself a strong core and stand up tall to meet the world.

Source article

WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 4

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There is a Chilean saying “que rico es quejar” which translates to it’s lovely to complain.

I grew up hearing this saying (being the massive wog that I am) but as it turns out… it is not true. Complaining is BAD (said in the voice of Mr Mackey from South Park who always says ‘Drugs are bad’).

In 2004 I attended a pain clinic to learn how to live with chronic pain. One of the first things they taught us was that pain responds to attention and the more attention you give it the more pain you will have. It is a downward spiral. This is the reason you will rarely hear me complain about how much bloody pain I am in… it just doesn’t do you any good.

I recently read an article in The Huffington Post titled How Complaining Rewrites Your Brain for Negativity and it was fascinating to learn how bad complaining is for your overall health.

Just like smoking, eating sugar and doing other bad stuff… it feels good to complain. Our brains are very efficient and the more we do an action the more likely we are to keep doing it – as neuroscientists like to say “neurons that fire together, wire together.” It’s what makes our brains so efficient. This efficiency applies to both good and bad behaviour and habits.

So if you complain a lot, then you will continue to complain a lot and it will only get worse. Complaining can also shrink your hippocampus (the part of your brain responsible for problem solving and intelligent thought). Think about that for a minute.

Complaining can also lead to increased blood pressure and blood sugar thanks to the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Excessive exposure to cortisol can also impact your immune system, increases the risk of high cholesterol, diabetes, heart attack and weight gain leading to obesity.

So instead of feeling like a failure because you didn’t lose the weight you wanted to, take stock of your complaining habits and start to make some changes. It might be just as important as doing exercise or eating well.

In short, complaining is bad for your health, shrinks your brain, makes you fat and most likely makes you difficult to be around… time to reconsider mindless complaining.

You can read the article here.

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WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 3

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I remember being in primary school and having to look forward to the year 2000… it seemed like it was so far into the future (and it was). I remember trying to imagine what my life would be like and what the world would be like… I never imagined that 17 years after that distant landmark in time we would still have to protest for women’s rights.

What the fuck has gone wrong that we are still having to fight for basic rights and equality. It’s difficult to create change, I get that, but I think we’ve waited long enough.

I’ve learnt a bit about the male perspective by talking to the men in my life. Some men are dismissive of the comments and treatment women still have to put up with on a daily basis… while others who are the “good guys” who see women as equal can get frustrated with the talk of feminism because they feel like they are being blamed for bad behavior that they themselves don’t contribute to.

I’m not saying I have the answer but we have to change something… I recently said to a bunch of women that I was a born a feminist and a woman in her 20’s and another in their 60’s said “Oh but I like men”.

They might have well punched me in the pussy. Seriously? What the fuck has one thing got to do with another? Really? This shit again!

The dictionary definition of feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”. Women’s rights meaning that women want EQUAL rights to men… not more… and we’ve put up with less for far too long.

We have to change the script… feminists want equality… that’s all.

Every single person on this earth was grown inside a woman’s body… that means that every single person on this planet should be in awe of the amazing physical strength that the average woman possesses to make + grow + birth + bring up a life. This is somehow viewed as a weakness for women rather than one of the greatest displays of adaptability and strength in the natural world.

If you hate women then you hate yourself… because you came from a woman.

I am a feminist (a natural born feminist) and I love men… these beliefs are not mutually exclusive. It’s 2017 already and it’s about time we fixed this centuries old problem.

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WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 2

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We have all fallen for food fads… it seems to be unavoidable in the developed world. Gluten free, Paleo, Kale… the list goes on. The truth is that these fads only serve one purpose… they make a couple of people a lot of money… that is until the next fad comes along.

Let’s examine some recent fads…

  • Kale: people lost their minds over kale… however, long term people did not see a lot of benefit and it was later revealed that you can have too much kale… some people experienced low level poisoning and mental issues.
  • Coconut oil: I went hard on coconut oil when the fad was at its peak. What I didn’t realise at the time was that it was extremely high in salicylates… something that I have a severe intolerance too. There are benefits to eating good fats but too much coconut oil can lead to an increase in blood cholesterol.
  • Gluten free: I was gluten free for 5 years (prior to finally figuring out what it was I was allergic to) but the benefits of this diet fad is not what you would think, unless you are a true coeliac. For me it was moving away from heavily processed foods that benefited me the most.
  • Turmeric: last year people lost their minds about the health benefits of turmeric. It is meant to cure all kinds of things… it has just been revealed that it is very difficult for our bodies to absorb the beneficial molecules and that the effects are not as great as first reported.
  • Paelo: there is so much wrong with this fad including the fact that Palaeolithic ‘man’ cultivated and ate potatoes and judging by Palaeolithic art… they had their own weight problems. The long term effects of this diet on cholesterol and heart health is untested and the benefits are usually derived from eating less processed food and cutting out sugary drinks (which anyone can do).
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An example of Palaeolithic people represented in their art… it seems that weight was an issue back then LOL

There seems to be a bit of a theme in all of this… STOP FOLLOWING FOOD FADS. You don’t need to change your lifestyle and diet every time a celebrity chef or beauty blogger writes about the benefits of the NEXT BIG THING.

Eat sensibly, eat what you need… nothing more and incorporate aspects of the only scientifically proven diet known to man… the Mediterranean diet. Lets spend our precious energy on things that will really improve our lives like following our dreams or finding new ways to connect with family and friends. FUCK FOOD FADS!

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WHAT I LEARNT THIS WEEK 2017 :: WEEK 1

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The New Year brings with it so much hope… hope of better things to come, hope of change. Who is bringing that change into your life? What are you doing to make your life better?

We all seem to forget that our time on this planet is finite and we plod along in jobs we hate, making money for things we don’t really need, to impress people we don’t even like. Nothing in your life will change in the way you want it to unless YOU CHANGE SOMETHING. Think about it.

Many of us have heard the saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Then it’s up to you to get different results… by doing something different… taking a calculated risk… mixing things up… being your own hero.

So many of us wait for a prince to come and save the day… wouldn’t it be lovely if a strong, stoic and good looking man (or woman depending on what you’re into) swept you off your feet and fixed all of your problems… including the leaking tap. Well that’s not going to happen. Chances are the guy that sweeps in and saves the day has an agenda and might well be a control freak who will take over your life.

Don’t waste your time waiting for someone to save you. Don’t waste anther day wishing your life was different. MAKE IT DIFFERENT. CHANGE SOMETHING… ANYTHING… TODAY!

So go to the hardware store and buy a new washer and learn how to fix your own leaky tap… make a change for the better so that you can make sure 2017 is the year you don’t make empty promises to yourself… make it the year you started making things happen, FOR YOURSELF.

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