Sunday, January 31, 2016

I call it as I see it

An interesting question on decision-making popped up on Facebook last week. Stan Bishop, one of my favourite local reporters asked:  “Which is better -- running around in circles or being stuck at square one?”

Well, for me, the answer was easy

Somewhere to go

“I'm going for stuck at square one. You know its square 1 and there are others to get to. Being stuck is only permanent if you let it be. Keep checking for a solution and you'll get one eventually. Circles....well, that's the definition of madness - doing the same thing over n over again”

But reading others’ ideas was interesting and made me realize, yet again, that whatever your problem, how you look at it determines how you find a solution – and nobody can tell us all the ‘right’ way to see things.


Vernita had a completely different take to mine: “The fact of being stuck at square one sounds very stagnant I have hot feet so I will opt for going round in circles. Maybe, just maybe whilst going round in circles I may encounter something or someone that will help change the circumstance.”


Faye-Chantelle’s comment looked at both options “They are both equally bad to be very frank, however being stuck at square one allows you time to re-evaluate your strategy, while running around in circles takes you absolutely nowhere, but back to the starting point and of course provides good exercise...Personally, I rather the circles, cause it allows for wonderful physical activity while simultaneously offering much needed re-evaluation time... (Strategy-wise)... So in essence it’s 'killing two birds with one stone' and the best of both worlds... in an odd, not so productive kind of way :-)”

I read somewhere that when Buddha advised people to follow the path to enlightenment, he actually didn’t mean, do as he did, except in that you should find your own path, like he did.

Balance of Open and Focus

So, I just tried to write a few ‘take-aways’, (see list below - there are some possibilities in there J ) but really, the main thing is that we can tend to get caught up in just doing things the way we are used to, I call it as I see it…but this can result in our sight being (un)fairly limited. 

There are many ways to get somewhere: Being open to possibilities while focused on finding ways forward is probably the best combination of attitudes to get you going forward. Whether you adopt a meditative run round in circles, (labyrinths come to mind) or you stop for a moment where you are, at square one, (seated meditation?) and open up from there matters much less than being open and trusting that a solution is there.

Be ready to let go your assumptions, try a different approach, sometimes the change in habits is enough to crack the door and let the light in and be able to see something that you didn't know was there before

I call it as I see it...Mermaid
The Cutting-Room Floor clips:
  • While “whatever works for you” may be good advice most of the time, there’s bound to come a point where we have to be able to open our minds and look for new ways to do things
  • A leader, vs ‘a boss’ – Good leaders help people stay focused but let them use their own methods once they are able to get through to a solution
  • People take different approaches and what works for you may not work for another
  • Your answers are your answers and mine are mine, and they may or may not coincide.
  • Whatever works for you is your right answer/right path

WINNERS!!! Well, I had exactly TWO (2) people take last week's challenge and guess how many emails I'd unsubscribed to in the week - both were nowhere near close - one guessed 15 and the other 527! Well, it was 104 at the time and is now 132 today. So both of you - Don and Jeannette - you'll each get a calendar - send me your physical address to this email: and it will wing it's way to you...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Time is on my side, yes it is!
Ok, so last weekend I started unsubscribing from blogs, newsletters, Facebook page notifications…I thought it’d take me a couple hours on Sunday and I’d be done.

Well, not so fast chappy! I unsubscribed to a lot of things on Sunday – I had both Saturday’s and Sunday’s emails to deal with, and the 3 main emails I still use - but what I didn’t expect, was that I would still be going right up to this morning!!!!

So, guess how many I am up to at time of posting… no, I’m not going to tell you in the post, have a guess. One guess each and whoever comes closest first will get one of the few remaining 2016 Nature Calendars I have in stock and if you have one already, well, they make great gifts J

What shocked me is the realization of how much time I allowed to be eaten away each and every day in the task of keeping my inboxes clear. And how much negative energy I was adding to my day if I allowed all that undealt-with clutter to stay in my subconscious.

Let’s do a little math:

10 minutes first thing in the morning while you look at the titles and select those you know you won’t read and delete them.
15 minutes while you half-read some of those you ‘want to’ / ‘should’ read

20 minutes every 3 days when one catches your attention and you dwivay (divert aimlessly) down a path that may or may not significantly improve your life.

In a week, that’s 70 + 105 + 60(ish) 

= 235 minutes or nearly 4 hours of life.

4 hours…that rings a bell…Tim Ferris and his famous ‘4 Hour Work Week’ book (which I am yet to read, I got the gist of it from various blogs, but maybe I should take a read…). Now, tell me, if the theory is that in 4 hrs a week it is possible to do enough targeted work to earn you a comfortable living, then why, oh why do so many of us let such a significant chunk of our lives fritter away?

Think what you could fill it in with:

“Oh! I wish I had time for the gym! L
“Oh I wish I had time to learn to sail”
“Oh, where will I find the time to visit some of the exiting spots in my island/village/town/country…”
“One day I will find time to paint, read, swim, learn Spanish, go to my kids’ shows, clean my store-room, write my novel, adjust those clothes, learn golf…………………”

So, I have resolved to stop asking people carte blanche, to subscribe to my blog – by all means do if you feel it is going to be a worthy read that will help you move forward on your journey – I have kept a small selection of subscriptions for this purpose, but otherwise, do the more important things! 

I’ve chosen to invest some time in figuring what my own special priorities really, truly are and to concentrate on putting things in place, bit by little-step bit, to make those happen. As I talked about last Sunday, I have signed up with a coach, Debra Ross, "Life by Choice"  and we are setting do-able weekly to-do lists. This is allowing me to have ‘experiences of success’ and yes, it does feel pretty darn good! I realize I am still not fully comfy with my goal levels and progress, but I realize also that that is a part of the process, so I am not beating myself up over it J

In this process of figuring my priorities, I realized there was an unexpected blessing in the challenges of my 5-day a week job that has been a real tax on my energy – physical and mental: I stopped being able to do my art/craft/other pursuits because I couldn’t muster the energy to do things, and this unexpectedly, opened up a space for me to see my priorities in a very different light.

Ok, I’ve been on this journey of self-rediscovery for quite a few years now and I’m sure that helped, but what happened was I found that as I lounged or went to bed early tired, but could not sleep, my mind wandered all over the place, thinking, wanting, yearning, being pissed, annoyed, occasionally depressed, over all that I was losing, what I felt I couldn’t do anymore.  

What this process allowed was that I gradually, (over a couple of years, but I’m sure it can be done fasterJ), figured out what I really wanted to do: I no longer ‘had’ to do these things to survive – I have a decent salary, that part is definitely a blessing of the day-job, so now it became purely a ‘what do I REALLY want to do’ and that question applied whether I went the path of keeping the day-job or moving forward to a new version of being self-employed.  So when Debra came along with her coaching – it fitted very nicely in to what I was almost unconsciously already doing myself. Now, with the coaching, it has much more definite focus.

Also, per a convo I had today: Don’t buy into that crap that you have to be all positive feeling and big goals all the time – positive affirmations are good, but ONLY if you are really ready to buy into the positivity, otherwise, if the bar it set too high, they can just seem like one more unattainable goal and big reason to beat up on yourself for ‘not being good enough’. Allow yourself to be occasionally sad, mad, depressed about something, recognize the feeling, respect that it exists and see if you can let yourself find some learning from it. Maybe permission to accept you don’t like something, maybe realization that you are asking too much of yourself or trying too hard to be what someone else says you should be…take it one teeny step at a time if you need to and know that sometimes, being still for a while neither moving forward or backward, just ‘being’ is just fine too.

So, Sunday morning finds me still a little un-used to the dearth of emails to deal with in my inboxes. It does give me a good feeling, but I am yet to really effectively reorganize my day to make best use of the time I now have. I can say I HIGHLY recommend doing this though. It is very cathartic and I know in the big picture it is worth a huge amount: I will put this new time I have to good use! 

Me n Suzie on top Pigeon Point - time well spent!
Time is so precious and modern life has so many ways of helping us waste it. Take what is yours back and do just one little thing you really want to do instead.

Don’t forget to put in your guess for the number of unsubscribes I have done! And if you do the same yourself, please do share your feelings on what it did/didn’t do for you J

PS I am not being paid to talk about Debra's coaching - I just genuinely feel this journey is a good story to share with you all and the coaching is part of it, so don't be put off by thinking I'm going the 'paid promo-blog route' I'm not, I am promoting her, but only because I think it's proving to be a very useful part of my journey.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Laser Focus, the Real ‘Secret’ and Experiences of Success

Distraction is SO, SO easy to find isn’t it?

I had a mini-jolt listening to my current audiobook ‘Unlabel’ on my way home Friday when the author said something about his ADD – can’t remember exactly what, but it fit me – always being distracted by things I want to learn and things I can do. It’s a dangerous place to be if you are self-employed and responsible for creating your own income and even if you just want to live a full life. I think most of us in today’s world have ‘ADD tendencies’ – not the full-blown illness, but enough that our lives are constantly derailed. But I believe this ‘ADD’ is a thing I CAN push aside. I can have laser focus and a life on smooth running tracks. We all can.

So, here comes my start to 2016. I don’t ‘do’ New Year’s resolutions; they usually just give you one more ‘experience of failure’ and let’s face it, most of us have enough of to go round and share with every passing stranger if we wanted to right?

Damn! You see! I just went off and checked something on Facebook because my phone pinged! Ok, ‘focus, focus, focus…’ phone is now on silent. Simple tools, like ‘mute’ buttons, to help you achieve your goals ARE worth using.

So, it’s not quite a New Year’s resolution because I’ve been working up to this all last year, but I have decided that I MUST get back on track with my personal business goals this year. I have been derailed by taking on the M-F day-job which has proven to be a real energy drain as there is never a moment when, in my position, I can say I have completed my work: it’s one of those roles where the pile of things to do is sky-high and messy and there’s no time allowed to sort it out…yuh know?

Happily, we now have a new, very organized and capable Boss who is, using Project Management techniques, gradually, bringing things into a manageable focus – and that has helped immensely! It makes such a difference, and can for you too –simple project management tools really help with many small businesses – especially creative ones and are easily applied to home and personal life; they can really help move you forward to a clear view of the light of day. 

You CAN change your reality and have time pockets popping up regularly available for LIVING!

Over the years, I have read and practiced MANY techniques – starting with ‘The Secret’ and  some ‘Clear your Clutter’ book – can’t remember which one. I subscribed to some blogs etc…and as the internet of how-to’s has grown (of which, yes, I know, ironically I am a part), I have gradually realized that you can really have WAY too much guidance in your life and that the real ‘secret’ is that there’s a reason there’s no film called ‘Think It And They Will Come’ … because it is DOING things, ACTION, Building it, that makes things happen!!!

The Secret in a nutshell: If you think it, you will be it
The REAL secret: if you don’t do it, you can think you ass off and you’ll never be it.


I’ve written before about how it pisses me off, the mega-bucks industry of telling people they can bend the ways of the universe by focus and all good things will fall into their lap…I believe VERY strongly in our ability to create a positive energy that helps make things happen - what many people would call the power of prayerbut I believe just as much that without laser focused action, no amount of mental, cerebral, spiritual focus will make things materialize.

Luckily the real secret is actually quite doable

By all means choose a few guides and help books – they are all useful, including ‘The Secret’ which I credit with helping me move from a negative life cycle into the positive one I am now in. BUT don’t get trapped in hoarding how-to books!!! Just use a few, and let them lead you to your own conclusions. 

Trust that you CAN: trust in it being really possible and you will find your locks clicking open. You have to make a definite personal choice to allow that to happen. If you don’t, no amount of reading and coaching will unlock you.

Sign up with a coach: If you can afford it (and think carefully about how you decide if you can/can’t ‘afford’ it –this is an investment that should enable you to break out of a negative cycle and start to experience success) sign up with a coach. I signed up officially for my friend Debra Ross’s coaching sessions – Life by Choice – to help me find the laser focus. I had gotten quite far with various books and mini-coaching sessions, and blogs – Mark McGuinness of Lateral Action blog being the one I have had most really useful help from, he also provides coaching to creative people. BUT, I realized I was not, in my current circumstances, able to make my personal goals happen. Recognizing the need for specialized help is a positive, sound business move.

Clear your inbox clutter! The ‘unsubscribe’ button is your friend!!! How often has your plan to ‘get things done’ disappeared into a crazy-maze of internet surfing initiated by that oh-so-interesting-but-really-is-it-really-useful-e-newsletter? (you can get them back when you really DO have more spare time...)

Now, my ‘Aha’ moment BREAK IT DOWN! Chip, chop, section off, divide and conquer! Break it up into small enough chunks that you can get yourself on the road to a whole life-changing EXPERIENCES OF SUCCESS (Arnold Mol, ‘CreatingWinners in the Workplace’ is a good book even if you are a solopreneur)

Make your goals achievable – mini goals – yes, you (may) have your big goal – you may not, and that’s also ok – don’t build an Iron Curtain for yourself by not doing anything because you can’t figure out your life’s dream/ purpose…it will come as you unlock things for yourself

What's your Target?
Use Project Management Techniques – Goals (the big end result) eg  Success as an artist may be a good goal, but heck! How the hell do you get there? Break it down into steps. Baby steps.

Mine for my first week of Life by Choice coaching is to: Create a workable workspace

This involves

Physically moving just those tools and materials out of my badly messed up studio, into my clear living room – so I can work (leaving the big Iron Curtain of clearing my studio aside for now)

Clearing the mental clutter – writing a list of all the ‘little’ things I have to do – for house, family, colleagues, friends…and ticking them all off one by one by making the conscious choice to do them regularly during my breakfast, lunch and evening. NOTE- do not use up all your rest time – this is a non-negotiable – just do a bit each day in each period and you’ll see how doable it is.

Choose a small selection of my photos to work from. This is also to be done while having a glass of wine on an evening – relaxing…enjoying browsing my photos. BUT I have to do it efficiently – once I have enough to get going, then I…GET GOING! Avoid rolling down another slippery slope to ADD-dom! It is NOT necessary to find absolutely the best, perfect things to work on – that is a fairy tale place! Good enough is exactly what is needed!


Write one blog a week – well ;) here I am…doing it (and while reminding myself of my goals and objectives)

Now, back to the rest of Project Management: Set your goals, then it’s simple – break them down into (if needed) Objectives – so ‘To become a Successful Artist’ – what are your steps?

Maybe ‘find inspiration’ (pick your voice)

Maybe ‘learn X technique’ (keep it laser-focused…DO NOT derail off to A, F,K and Z techniques too!)

Maybe ‘Hold a mini-exhibition’ NEVER be afraid to show your work and get it out there – you don’t have to achieve greatness all-in-one, but you do have to build it step-by-step and believe in yourself. And a piece of extra advice – do market research at these first showings – it will help you decide how to have your authentic voice and the market be really good profitable friends (I am still on this step btw!)

Ok, next Project Management steps are – BREAK IT DOWN into ACTIVITIES – all the little steps needed to make these Objectives happen – AND note some ways in which you will MEASURE YOUR SUCCESS – real measures – eg 10 paintings completed; 1 exhibition held…

Set timeframes – give each activity a deadline – make it realistic – DO NOT set yourself un-achievably short timeframes – allow yourself to succeed by setting reasonable time-frames. NOTE not lazy ones either – I have chosen WEEKLY GOALS for this reason – I need to see it done and feel the success.

Before I knew of Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ I had made my own wall-stickers saying ‘Do it, then it’s done’ this was long before any self-help books or internet blogs…like me, you DO have what it takes inside you. Believe it, unlock it, do it. Succeed!

End Note: I will be, finally, moving my blog over to Island Effect I do hope you will join me here - please pop over and subscribe there so I can see that you are still going to be with me :) 

I will post a mix of my work as it evolves as well as my journey and things I learn along the way. Also, there'll be places and things that interest me - especially as I set out to be a tourist in my homeland Saint lots of things .... for now, these posts will be in both places

Thank you to all those who share the love and comment here - it is always like a surprise gift!  Comment here or on Island Effect both make me very happy!