what i learnt this week 2017 :: WEEK 24

#WhatILearntThisWeek

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 19

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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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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!

Not-so-happy Earth Da7 2017

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I feel like the earth is sad and no matter how much we recycle or eat local it’s not enough. It’s great to start at the grass roots but our pollies are seemingly clueless to the dangers in our future if we ignore the impact we are havimg on the earth.

With the liberals approving a massive coal mine in Queensland and ignoring the now terminally ill Great Barrier Reef it’s difficult to stay hopeful 🙁

Our earth is sad and I don’t know that anything we will do will be done soon enough to stop certain catastrophe.

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 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 🙂