The Artist’s Way

I came across Julia Cameron’s book in my late teens/early 20s. Back then I was an aspiring musical theatre actress. I did acting classes, auditioned for Opera Australia and even did some dance classes. Over the last few months I’ve been feeling really uninspired. I know that some of that comes from being genuinely unwell, but I know that part of it comes from just feeling a real disconnect with myself.

If someone asked me if I thought I was a creative person, I would say, yes, yes I am a creative person. Not the MOST creative, but certainly creative. In my last two years at school, I chased my artistic dreams – I sang, painted, sketched and read and wrote. For a while, that was ok, until I found myself craving mental stimulation – which is why I chose to chase a science degree.

After that, my creativity took a back seat. I sang, but not as much as before, and not seriously – just karaoke – even though I am a classically trained opera singer who completed grade 5 with the AMEB.

I’ve dabbled in some creative writing, tried my hand a ikebana, origami, video editing, I’ve played with Lego, started bullet journals and sometimes have a play with doing my own makeup.

Over the last year I’ve been ignoring my creative impulses. ‘It doesn’t pay the bills, so its a waste of time’ I would tell myself ‘You’re not even that talented – you’re just average – and you’re spread too thin, people who are really creative and good at what they do only have one focus and you have way too many interests – no one is interested in what you can do if someone else can do it better.’

BOOM – I just did one of the exercises from Week 1 – which was to identify what my limiting thoughts are – and now I have to do the affirmation thing.

I have a good life, and I am very lucky that I have so much time to myself. Over the last week, I watched the ‘Good Place’ again and again and again, and as I did I wondered – why? why am I watching this again and again, what am I trying to tell myself. I decided to listen to the ‘making of’ podcasts – it was just filled with the comments of the writers and the actors talking about their creative process and it jogged something inside me. Finally I understood what I’ve been trying to communicate to myself.

I want to be more creative. I want to explore my talents outside of work – and I have a lot of them – I’m not super fantastic at any of them, but I am capable, artistic and creative and I want to share it.

Being creative is important. When I am at my most creative, I am at my most generous and empathetic. When I am creative I can give more of myself to others. I am creative for me and I while I share my talents with others the reason I share it is to document my journey.

So I picked up Cameron’s book again today and I decided I’m going to begin by writing my morning pages and taking myself on an artist date and doing one of the exercises of the week. I think perhaps the morning pages and the artist date once a week are going to be the things I’m going to commit to for now. Today’s morning pages are complete and I also managed to complete my artist date as well, which was a couple of hours writing the lyrics to “Rewrite the Stars” – that song has been in my head for ages now and I’m just obsessed with it . I want to see if I can record it and put it on my Instagram. That would be kind of cool.

Books with Strange Plots

I’ve read two books with strange synopsis. Yangzhe Choo’s “The Night Tiger” centered around trying to reunite a dead man with his amputated finger while A.J. Pearce’s “Dear Mrs Bird” is set in the midst of London during the bombing raids in World War 2 and centres around a girl who is secretly responding to people’s mail in the women’s weekly against the express wishes of the editor.

I think I am drawn to both these stories because their synopsis’ are so odd, but I am fascinated at how just having a simple goal can really tie the story together. It never occurred to me that a story doesn’t need lofty goals such as “saving the world”, “find love” or “solve a murder” to say something meaningful

In fact, the simpler the goal it seems the easier it is to connect and relate to the characters and the more invested and upset you become when something takes a turn for the worst. I’m going to try this in my own writing.

All in the Mind

This Wednesday I did something I’ve never done before. I started something new. I told myself I would go to bed after writing down three things that I am grateful for, and then in the morning I will get up and get some exercise, and that is precisely what I did. After my work out I listened to a short podcast on mindfulness where the presenter talked about setting a daily intention in the morning when your mind is at its clearest.

I am aiming to build some new mental habits which include thinking about what I am grateful for before I go to bed, complete some meditation/mindfulness throughout the day and to start setting a positive intention for the day in the morning. I feel like doing more but I think if I try and do way too much I won’t actually get anything done.

So for now I am going to focus on two things: making my gratitude journal, and also setting my daily intention in the morning. I wonder how these new habits will change me.

The Art of Choosing

When I picked up Sheena Iyengar’s “The Art of Choosing”, I had hoped that her book would set out – step by step some ideas on how I can improve the way I make my choices. I was wrong. Instead of a step by step self-help book; the information in these pages examined the many influences that surround how humans make their choices and raises some questions about choice. In particular, it challenges the assumption that since choice is good, more choice must be better.

Perhaps my biggest take away from this book was that in order for one to reap the most benefit from choice, we must, in a twist of irony; commit to something to the exclusion of all other choices. As I reflect on this, I think of a line from “The Good Place” where the character Chidi, well known for his indecisiveness describes a dilemma at an ice cream sundae bar

There were too many toppings. And very early in the process you had to commit to a chocolate palate or a fruit palate and if you couldn’t decide you wound up with kiwi, junior mint, raisin, and it just ruins everybody’s night.”

 It’s funny when you can’t commit to a palate for a desert, but what happens when you can’t commit to a goal? A career? A partner?

Sure, you have many more options than people who do make these commitments, but is it worth it if the sum total of all your disparate, unrelated choices end up looking like the Chidi ice-cream special?

Many of the studies in Iyengar’s book continually prove that while choice is important, too much choice can be detrimental, paralysing and counter-productive.

So why do we continue to demand more and more choice? Iyengar explains this with behavioural heuristics – specifically “loss aversion”. Committing to a choice means saying goodbye to options that were previously left open to us – we are averse to losing choice itself.

In our society we are constantly told that there is no limit to who we can be, yet the limitations commitment imposes on us can bring order to chaos. They set a framework that allows us to better reflect upon the quality the options laid before us and how well they align with the person we have chosen to become.


32 years old



The beginning of the year always brings with it a new energy and time to reflect and realign my goals – and it always coincides with my birthday – well sort off.

In 2018, my main focus was my business. Learning how to be a good boss, managing my business finances and balancing client care with the needs of my business. While all of these things are still important to me now, I want to use 2019 to focus on self care.

This, perhaps, may sound selfish and counter intuitive to good business practice, yet I have always been of the belief, that by caring for yourself, you are also caring for others.  So what will self care look like for me in 2019?

  1. Decluttering – Anyone who saw my post in 2017 on how I decluttered my closet will know that I am a huge advocate for Minimalism. This year, my focus will be on decluttering other environments. Some of the things I want to declutter significantly are:

    My Office: 
    After running my business for a year I feel a lot clearer about what I want to do with the space in my office and I feel more comfortable about throwing out some resources that a year ago I wouldn’t have dared to.My Schedule: In order to have more time to grow my business I will need to take some time off work from client care so that I can start building other aspects of the business. I have lots of ideas, that, to be properly executed need time and research.My Makeup and Bath Products: I use these every single day and they are part of my daily routine. I would like to feel more polished at work, but I am unhappy with my current selection of beauty products. I’m hoping to do some research and build a collection of make up and beauty products that I truly love and will use on a daily basis.
  2. Setting Clear Goals – Like most girls, many of my past New Year’s Resolutions have been to “Lose Weight”. While I am not skinny I am generally in a healthy weight range. Having a fitness goal has eluded me mainly because I’m not really sure what a fitness goal is or how to set one. This year my fitness goal is to start pole again and be able to do an “Inverted V” straight from the ground. It looks like this:



    As well as setting clear fitness goals, I want to be setting clearer financial goals as well. Some of the things I am doing for this are:- Reviewing my regular business and personal expenses ensuring that they are the right choices for me.
    – Reviewing my financial products; e.g. savings accounts, credit cards, insurances
    – Setting up clear savings targets for what I am saving for
  3. Becoming more mindful
    For me this means:
    Eating Slower and with fewer distractions
    – It’s so hard to eat without doing something else! My goal this year is to eat my meals without looking at my phone and to chew my food slower.
    Practising gratitude – I find myself constantly comparing my life to others especially on social media, I know I have a beautiful life, even though it is not always photographable.Purchasing mindfully – I’ve gotten rid of so much junk this year already and to be honest it has been really difficult to find environmentally friendly ways to get rid of the things I don’t need anymore that I am making sure that when I do purchase something I really, really, really want it.
  4. Not worrying about being perfect
    While decluttering at my parents house last month, I found a whole bunch of artwork that Jess and I had intended to send to “Saturday Disney” when we were kids. We never sent it, always striving to make it perfect, but perfect never came. I’m going to be braver about sharing my progress when trying new things, instead of waiting until things are perfect before sharing 🙂

Fear of Meditating

Being afraid of sitting down and being alone with your thoughts for about 10-15 minutes a day has to be the very definition of an irrational fear. Yet, I feel it. There have been so many occasions this year where I have thought “Gee, I should meditate” and instead have decided to play Candy Crush, watch YouTube or scroll through Facebook, Insta and Pinterest, all the while thinking “people are on social media way too much these days.” (Yes, I am aware of the hypocrisy).

It’s prompted me to ask the question to myself; What’s the problem? Why have I chosen not to meditate? despite the fact that I know there are large bodies of scientific evidence about the health benefits of meditating, why does the thought of being alone with my thoughts seem off putting?

Here are the reasons it’s not:

  1. I don’t know how to meditate
    In 2016, I did a health retreat at Golden Door in Hunter Valley where I met a meditation teacher who gave me an hour masterclass on meditation. During that time, I learned lots of breathing techniques. During the class I meditated for about 17minutes and I felt great afterwards. After learning to meditate, I was able to keep up the practice daily for about a month before I fell off the wagon. I have meditated sporadically since and haven’t really been able to maintain a routine.
  2. I don’t have time
    I have time. If I have time to screw up my mental health with social media and candy crush, I definitely have time to meditate.

As I write these; It’s getting me thinking about what it is – which is good and why I started writing this in the first place.

  1. Meditation requires mindfulness. 
    Meditation requires you to stay awake. It is taking time out and being aware of your surroundings and living in the present moment. It’s about being aware of your thoughts and not judging them. It’s really hard! Candy crush is easier because its a form of escape, it allows me to get away from the present moment, it’s also a lot less work.
  2. My environment isn’t set up for daily meditation
    I don’t have a designated meditation spot. I also don’t have a designated meditation time. I’m constantly on the go. One thing I have realised is that I tend to over plan. I have a full-time job; I’m exhausted when I get home from work and weekends are just me recharging my batteries. As I get older I’m starting to understand the limits of my energy far more. I have to reduce my responsibilities.

By reading “Sapiens” I’m growing in my understanding that humans were not meant to spend their lives working and working without rest. Being busy always sounds like it’s an achievement when the reality is having a break also has a lot of additional benefits.

Small is Beautiful

Like any other human being, I constantly compare myself to others. Recently, I’ve been comparing my small speech pathology business to other speech pathology businesses. Thanks to the internet, I am able to look at their beautiful website pictures, numerous staff, their blogs and posts on social media with envy. Afterwards, I look at my tiny little business, and all of a sudden I hate how small it is. How insignificant.

Today, when I arrived home I sat down on my couch and read Chapter 5 of Yuval Harari’s “Sapiens” to my little sister over the phone. This chapter discussed the dawn of the Agricultural Revolution; how, by turning our efforts to tilling the soil and cultivating food we managed to grow our population with increasing success. While this is often seen as a positive shift towards progress, Harari encouraged the reader to think about things differently. Tilling the land took time – more time than hunting and gathering – and the grain cultivated had offered far less nutrition than what was found in nature when hunting and gathering, not only that, but the life of an average farmer was far less stimulating than that of a hunter-gatherer. The bottom line was that although there were more people in the world because farming was able to feed them, people had far less quality of life. It was a really depressing chapter, though it made me reflect on my own life.

My speech pathology practice is small (like a hunter-gatherer tribe) – so if I choose to measure the success of my business by how many people I can hire, how many people come to my practice or my gross revenue then I will lose to most people that I compare myself to and I will always feel disappointed.

Harari’s book reminded me that success isn’t always calculated by numbers, but by quality of life which can often be neglected in businesses focused on increasing revenue (like the farmers who were focused on increasing food production).

I love my little practice; we work hard during the school term and chill out during the school holidays. We go home at reasonable hours, take lunch breaks and make time for professional development and team bonding. We have fewer clients so the few people who see us are given the utmost care and attention and as a result we have a very good retention rate. Fewer people means fewer expenses meaning less stress with money.

Small is beautiful.

By divesting myself of the need to build outwards, I open myself to learn how to build inwards not only on how to be a better clinician and a good boss, but to excel in other parts of my life too.

I’m Not Busy

At the beginning of the year I listened to the “Crappy to Happy” podcast by Tiff Hall and Cass Dunn. It’s first topic was on “The Cult of Busy”. They talked about how everyone is so busy nowadays and that people often wear their “busy-ness” like a badge of honour. I have been one of these people, and strangely enough I enjoy being busy, and on many occasions I am busy, but not always.

I’m a huge advocate of having breaks. At work, I’m constantly reminding my colleagues to have a lunch break and leave work on time. Work is important to me, it gives me a sense of purpose and makes me feel like a valuable and contributing member of society, but my work is not my life. My life is my life.

I think I started really breaking up the idea of “work” vs “life” in my last year of University. I started to appreciate how much my environment impacts on how well I can focus. I also started to realise the impact “timing” had on my mental health and the quality of my work. I finished my honours thesis at Blacktown library. For a whole semester I worked every weekday for three hours in the morning (after going to the gym) and three hours in the afternoon (after an hour lunch break) I never pulled an all nighter or did a single shred of work once I came home or on the weekend for that matter yet, I got a great mark.

Since then, I resolved  never to do work at home. Nowadays, I won’t touch work with a ten-foot pole at home. To me, work is to be done at work, and if that means I have to travel 45mins on a Saturday to sit in my office and get crap done, that’s exactly what I will do. To me, home is for watching TV, showers and bedtime. Home is for feeling utterly and completely relaxed. If I took my work home I’d be stressed out of my mind and I wouldn’t be able to do the most important thing associated with focus and productivity and that is – recharging.

So here I am now, sitting at home – doing nothing particularly important (prior to this I was playing candy crush and am now waiting for my lives to recharge as I refuse to pay good money for them) while my partner is doing a university assignment and my work colleagues are planning weddings and studying french in their spare time. All I can think of now, is that about six months ago I would’ve felt bad about having nothing of import to do (like everybody else in my life) but right now I’m so happy that I’m not busy.

August Budget Challenge

For those of you who know me well, you know that every Tuesday fortnight is budget night. I’ve been budgeting my money since I turned 25 and I love budgeting. It is one of the most empowering habits I have and it is a skill that serves me well as a small business owner.

I haven’t always been a successful budgeter and even now, I still go over budget once in a while (I do have a safety net though – but I don’t like to use it often.) Usually, I spend 80% of my pay packet on living expenses with the other 20% going straight into savings – Mostly, I am successful and don’t spend the money I have earmarked as savings. This month I’ve decided to challenge myself even more and only spend 50% of my usual pay packet. I’m actually quite nervous about this, but I’m excited because I think there will be lots to learn.

That being said years of budgeting have taught me many valuable lessons that I think will help me out in this challenge.

Lesson 1: Know my day to day living expenses

Budgeting became a lot easier after I learned to log and track my expenses. I use the app “TrackMYSpend” which is an app developed by the Australian Government – so it’s a little buggy – but I love it. It allows me to see where I spend my money the most.

This simple task is a lot harder to complete than you think, not because you need to remember to “write down” what you spend – you can fix that by keeping receipts on everything you spend and logging it later – but because of the emotions that come with keeping track of your money. It was hard at first because I couldn’t help but judge myself as I put what I’ve spent into the app – especially when I ended up going over budget, which was often.

That being said, even though this is a hard thing to do there are so many benefits – but that’s a blog for another day

Lesson 2: Make sure I don’t feel deprived.

Usually, the word “budget” is associated with self deprivation. For me, budgeting means making better choices about how and where I spend my money.

For my challenge to be successful; I know I can’t cut out some of the things I love doing and having – like having a meal out with friends. I have to make sure that I account for social occasions too such as birthdays. This is where Lesson 1 comes in handy. Knowing how and why I spend my money means that I can identify areas in my spending that can be cut. This means becoming more creative with how I spend my money. Here are some of my bigger categories of expenses that I’ve noticed over the last few pay cycles ands some of my ideas to reduce my spending:

  • Gym/fitness – I’ve recently finished a 3 month run of TiffXO – I really like this program and I think it’s a nice one to stick to if it suits your lifestyle. The program costs approx $39 a month – which isn’t much but I also pay for a fitness passport and studio sessions at a local pilates place (which I’ve paid for in bulk because it’s cheaper). I’ve downloaded some TiffXO work-outs and recipes for my budget challenge.
  • Beauty and Cosmetics – Instead of spending my money on someone giving me a manicure or a massage – which admittedly I don’t do a lot but I know if I’m on a tight budget that I’m gonna want – I’m gonna start fishing out some of those bath products that I haven’t used and schedule in some me time.
  • Drinks – Gosh, I could spend $60 a fortnight on drinks. Chai Lattes and Kombucha have been my recent weakness. For Chai Latte’s I’m thinking I might get a box of special blend chai from T2 to keep at the office. The Kombucha – I know I like for two reasons the first is it’s probiotic features (which I’m going to replace with a daily apple cider vinegar tonic each morning – as I have a crap load of ACV at home) and the second is it’s fizzy sensation – which I will replace with mint and soda water.
  • Bought Lunches – This is a huge expense for me – which can be managed by doing more meal prep; I’m also going to try and challenge myself to work with what I have in the pantry and fridge to help reduce the grocery bill – I’ve also decided that I will only eat out if I have someone with me. Recently, I’ve increasingly begun to eat out alone which has blown my budget more than I’d like to admit.
  • Books, Music and Movies – This year I’m participating in the Popsugar Reading Challenge. In August I’ve decided to not buy books and to focus my attention on the books I already own but haven’t read. I’ve also registered for a free trial with “kindle unlimited” so I have some other choices, also I have a library card.

Lesson 3: Set a Time Limit

I think mentally this helps when looking to complete any kind of budget challenge. I’d love it if I could always save 50% of my pay packet every month but I know that’s not going to work out in the long run. That being said, a lot of the good habits I have now developed came because I set myself small financial challenges. My financial goals have changed their focus from “saving $X” to learning to develop better habits with money.

So there you have it, my plan of attack for my August Budget Challenge!

Wish Me Luck!

Two Arrows

On Good Friday my whole family agreed to stay completely offline for the whole day. It’s actually easier than one would think it would be. It is after all, only one day.

I decided to use the day to relax and read one of the books I have recently read called “The Book of Joy”. If you follow my instagram and facebook account you’ll find that I thoroughly enjoyed the read. It was recommended to me by my little sister and my friend Eric.

The book discusses how to be joyful and how to tackle things that are difficult and how important it is that we respond mindfully to our circumstances rather than just reacting. To help the reader understand what is meant by this, the Dalai Lama related a tale of a man hit by an arrow. He discussed that no doubt, the man will feel that pain, but he can choose how to respond. If the man gave into his fears, these would cause him more pain, it would be like he was hit by a second arrow – of his own making.

It got me thinking – how often do I hit myself with that second arrow after I’ve been hit by the first? More importantly, what is my role in creating my own suffering? And how do I respond to my stress triggers in a more positive way – so to avoid hitting myself with the second arrow. One thing I found, that worked, was just going through the 8 pillars of joy – and weirdly – or perhaps not so weirdly – i found myself – happier. I think perhaps the first thing one should do to stop themselves from reacting badly is to identify what it is that stresses you out. Here are my 5 common stress triggers.

Stress Trigger #1: Something unexpected comes up on my to do list/ and unexpected change in routine

Stress Trigger #2: Fatigue

Stress Trigger #3: Overwhelm – Too much to do.

Stress Trigger #4:  Disagreements with others

Stress Trigger #5: Clutter