I’m Pressing Pause On Social Media

Dearests,

I’ve decided to continue my social media hiatus – it feels too good and right for me not to.

I wanted to share my reasons why + what that will look like.

I’ve been online for such a long time – blogging since 2004, social media since 2007, with not much of a break (if at all in there).

It used to be a source of ginormous joy and creativity and connection for me.

The last few years, it shifted for me however. I started feeling saddened and defensive from the level of outrage and vitriol thrown around when someone misunderstands or disagrees with you. We would never speak that way in real life to someone’s face, and yet it’s all too easy to type it out to an apparently imaginary figure. I’ve lost too many hours of sleep putting out the latest internet fire because someone has wished to speak in ways which damage others.

I also have an increasingly un-fun relationship with the fame part. I never set out to become famous, I just wanted to share my work and help as many people as possible. I’ve noticed however that as my “personal fame” grew, so did people’s projections about me, what they wanted from me and how they saw me as a human (i.e. increasingly less human the more famous I got). It used to be that just the people who loved my work knew me. Now some people just know me because of the numbers of other people knowing my work. It feels wonky and odd and skew-iff when I’m either hated precisely because so many people know me or when I’m lauded for the same. It feels strange when I am treated more viciously and abusively because my work is known by many.

My skin has become thicker over the years from the attacks, it is easier to shrug it off as yet another projection. And yet, it also makes me feel more jaded, less light of heart, less willing to share from the vulnerable places. And honestly, it still hurts. I’ve tried to do good work and help people, and share the abundance I’ve received along to do even more good work with charities.

Of course it sucks when people are so eager to throw shit, so willing to dispel everything they know about you from a long history of doing good work, to project and name-call and attack. I’d tell you what I’ve been called over the years, and even worse for me personally, the things that have been said about my dear (and private) husband. You would gasp and you would laugh and you would say “How on earth could someone say that?”

But they have. And it adds to that etchings of scars, and I want to coil myself tighter, protect that tender heart of mine, protect those I love the most, those who never chose to have a wife or mother who happens to write books that a lot of people know in a time of wild west social media.

For me, it’s always about the work. It’s always about the work. It’s always about the work.
The work of creating and sharing. Making art and writing, sharing what I know. Nothing more, nothing less.

I’ve been so grateful for the abundance I’ve received in my life. Grateful for the hours my family and I could spend together because of it, excited by the support we could provide to wonderful charities doing good work because of that.

For me, it’s always about the work. It’s always about the work. It’s always about the work.
The work of creating and sharing. Making art and writing, sharing what I know. Nothing more, nothing less.

Taking a month off social media meant many things:

It meant I could take a break from feeling constantly on call.
It meant my shoulders could lower for a bit, no longer feeling tense, ready for the next attack.
It meant I could stop formulating every moment into a social media post and just tuck it into the pocket of my own presence instead.

It meant realigning to my priorities to all that is true for me:

First and foremost, I’m a soul, incarnated in the world, on my own journey. Secondly, I’m a mama and wife. Thirdly I’m a creative being. And far, far down that list of priorities, I am a business owner and entrepreneur.

A month off social media meant that when I created space in my life, something new came into fill it, as it always does.

And that thing that happened came as a wee bit of a surprise, and has also been one of the best things that has ever happened to me and my sweet family: we began homeschooling.

It’s been better than I ever could have believed possible, and healed so many pieces of me, and this, this right here, this is what I’ve always wanted to be.

Afternoons reading Story of the World and Fantastic Mr Fox on a blanket in the backyard, the autumn leaves golden, our resident Crimson Rosellas listening in from nearby branches. Art projects, and excursions, and homeschooling on a rock overlooking a great valley. Sunset walks up into the hills to look for wombats and rabbits. Nestling beside each other as Starry proudly reads me her very first book. A gift, all of this over and over again.

My kids are growing up.

That’s the surprising reality of my eldest turning 7. For so long, I’ve been counting down the years until it would be easier. And the elders would say: The years go by too fast! They grow up far too quick! And I would be sleep-deprived and lost in Toddler Land and too ridden with Post Natal Depression than to groan and inwardly think: Not fast enough.

But now suddenly I see it, and I see how true it all is, and I’m over 30% of the way there with Starry, and in another seven years, she’ll be 14, and it’s going too fast and I miss their baby faces and their toddler faces. And I’ve worked hard the last couple of years, and I’ve felt like I’ve been too focussed on that, and not on them, and I don’t want to miss a moment longer. And if you ever asked me to choose between this or that it would always be: them, them, them.

So to choose between social media and my inner sanctum, Facebook and my family, it is an easy decision. Of course I don’t HAVE to choose between them, many people do it, and do it well. I’ve done it for a long time. And it might be right again for me in the future. But right now, it’s not right for me.

A month of social media hiatus passed by, and there was no calling to return. It’s too good for it to end.

And so it won’t be.

And I thought about what all that meant, and what I’d like to do next.

Here’s the thing: I’ve worked hard for a long ass time to build my businesses. I’m not giving them up by any means. I’m just changing the parameters of how I wish to share and create.

I’m aching to do something different than hastily write Instagram posts and a zillion quote images.

And the joy of having built my business for such a long time… I don’t actually have to hustle anymore. I don’t HAVE to be on social media to earn coin. I can just continue with my work behind the scenes and be joyfully paid by that. I can afford to experiment, and find a path that is healthy and good and true for me once again.

So here’s what I’m doing next:

I’m continuing to pause the Workbook Facebook group and my Facebook page. Instagram and Twitter will be paused as well. These are all additional free services outside of my core business that I provide that cost me time, heart energy and staffing costs.

Will they be reopened in the future? I’m not sure. Maybe, if and when I feel called to it. It has to feel right and good and true for me.

I understand that this may cause sadness or grief for you. For that, I am sorry. And I also know that it is sacred and important work for me to hold the energy of that space, and if I am not called to continuing that currently in a strong and presence-filled way, it is not healthy to allow it to continue. Otherwise the energy will become distorted and wonky, and will not hold true to its original intention. (And no, I am not called to having moderators take over instead. After 15+ years of online community management, I know just how important it is to uphold the energy of an online space, and it’s not something I can allocate out.)

So if I am not called to it, I must trust in the words of my mentor Hiro Boga: “A no from your soul is a yes to other people’s souls.” I hope and pray that with this new space cleared in your life, it will be filled by something even better and more aligned for you.

THE ONLY PLACE I WILL BE SHARING PUBLICLY:

The only way you will be able to hear from me publicly is through my love letter mailing list.

If you haven’t already, you can sign up for that here.

I’ll be sharing my stories and photos and musings there. No set schedule, not often.

Will I be blogging? I really don’t know. Again, my love letter mailing list is where I’ll be concentrating my public sharing for now.

Specifics, Clarifications + Boundaries:

  • I will still be running + being involved in my paid Academy mastermind Facebook group and essential oils group.
  • If you have strong feelings about this decision, please watch this.
  • Nope, you do not need to email me with your complaints and crankiness. They’ll be filed under Nope, my kids are more important.
  • If you email my staff asking about things that have already been answered in this post, they will just be sending you the link to read it properly. So please read and understand before asking.

I’m grateful for the magic and connection of the social medias over the years.

But for now, the golden leaves of autumn await, as do my children, waiting to make art and learn about dinosaurs together.

There is a big, beautiful world out there to be loved.

And I’m ready for great swallows of solace of quiet and time beneath the sky again. Filling up my pockets with gladness. Sharing the acorns and magic when they overflow.

Big love,

Hiatus

Dearests,

I’m off on public-facing hiatus for the next wee while.

No blogging, no social media, even unpublished my FB page.

I’ll still be behind the scenes, working with publishers for my workbooks + teaching my Academy members + building my third company. I’ve loved being on stage, but it’s a beautiful change to be going quiet on the public front intentionally for a while.

I’ve been blogging since 2004, on social media since 2007. It’s time for a break.

I’ll probably be back later this month + will share the juicy deets about my third company then if the time feels right.

In the meantime, sweet sweet quiet.

Sending you love + gladness,

Spiritual Lessons I Learned From My Accountant

I always bring food. Gourmet donuts or expensive hipster treats. This time, I was running late, so it was a McCafe assortment of cheesecake and macarons.

Food is the way I celebrate, the way I make everything a celebration. Life is better when there’s ridiculously good food around.

Food makes long meetings feel like parties.

I pull up to that big white building, hauling boxes of books and juggling smoothies. I come bearing gifts.

I get greeted with hugs and wide smiles.

This is one of my favourite rituals.

*

I chose them carefully, my accountants.

These are my third set since starting in business.

With each one, as my business has grown, I’ve outgrown my old accountants.

I never want to be the big fish in a small pond. I want to be mentored and taught by accountants who know how to do business my size and beyond.

*

The last time I outgrew, I got disciplined in my selection process.

I knew how important accountants were to me, and I wanted them to fill my needs.

Before I had recruited accounting firms by referral, but this time I wanted to step it up.

So I created a spreadsheet of everything I wanted in an accountant:

  • Experience with online businesses
  • Experience with export businesses
  • Using cloud software
  • Quick responses to my email requests
  • Managing companies that were both smaller and much larger than mine (so that they had the skill set for exactly my size).

I also had columns for:

  • Whether they answered my call quickly or responded back to my enquiry quickly
  • Whether I liked them on the phone and if they made me laugh. (Because, you know… FUN is important to have!)

Then I added rows for all the accounting firms in my area, and set to work on calling them to interview them over the phone.

*

Some accountants were rude. Some had no clue about what I was talking about. Some made it clear I was outside of their expertise of “mom and pop small businesses.” Some didn’t respond to calls.

Each one was noted. Each negative answer was marked in red, each criteria addressed was marked in green.

*

Rob was the star performer in that interview round.

He got me. He got my industry. I wasn’t a large anomaly to him as a 7 figure business – he advised much larger companies than I. He was kind and patient and funny.

He got all green stars.

*

Rob said to me much later:

You’re the only person in 20 years who has interviewed ME to be their accountant. I had to work hard in that interview too! I knew what you were like just from that phonecall.

*

It’s been 18 months since I started making those quarterly walks up to his office, arms overloaded with food.

We settle in. The meetings are always long.

There is so much to discuss.

*

Numbers paint just a part of a picture, he says.

They raise questions, but the answers can only be answered by you.

*

That’s what these sessions are about.

Rob shows the numbers and is the voice of the questions:

This part here? This makes me want to ask: What is happening here? Why is this part growing? Why is this number increasing?

And sometimes I already know the answers and can confidently say:

I know about that. That’s a risk I took and it paid off.

or

I felt like that was happening. It’s a decision I made, and it hasn’t worked out, and I need to change it.

Things become clearer when the numbers paint their picture and I fill it in.

*

This time around, I feel like there’s a great weight on me.

It’s our meeting to review the year beforehand, the year of 2016, the year belovedly called: What In The Holy Fuck Just Happened?

It was the year I hired a large team, went through 3 COO’s in quick succession the year that did.not.work.at.all.

Thankfully, the company continued to grow in revenue, and despite expenses skyrocketing, I still made good profit.

But it wore on me. I worked harder than I ever have. I fought for the vision and purpose of my company. I felt profoundly unsupported and misunderstood. I didn’t love what I did anymore. When I went on health retreat, I cried because I couldn’t bear going back to work again.

I finally decided: No more. It’s my way or the highway. I will claim my own power and recreate this company to fit ME.

And I did. It was surprising how quickly things felt better, how much the noise quietened once I got clear. I slashed everything that didn’t fit Pareto’s Rule (20% of your work (the core, central, good stuff) will create 80% of your profit (abundant and joyful), 80% of your work (all the excess stuff) will create 20% of revenue (hard won and salted with sweat and tears).

*

I’ve been returning to this writing over and over for weeks, trying to get there. Trying to create the space and the quiet in my mind for it to keep flowing forward.

I went away to an essential oil convention which was huge and wonderful and energetically intense. I have a laughter hangover from being around my favourite girl squad, more stories than I can tell. And I backed it up with running the Mindfulness and Manifesting Success event yesterday at Australian National University.

And I’m grateful I’ve done both these things… heart-glad I’ve connected and shared and turned up and experienced.

And then it comes to pay the Introvert Tax, the tax of being highly sensitive/aspie/easily stimulated/whatever you want to call it.

The comedown, the overload, the backlog of thoughts and ideas and feelings and stories and adventures that need to be processed… whether that’s by telling them to Chris, writing about them here or in my journal, or simply just reliving it myself in my head until it makes sense.

I’m reading “First We Make The Beast Beautiful: A New Story About Anxiety” by Sarah Wilson, and it’s by far the best book I’ve read on anxiety. Everything makes sense now, and I just keep telling all my mates: Go. Go now. Go get. Read now. Must. In it, she talks about her experience of anxiety (and bipolar), and what she does to keep it being a gift, not a hindrance. And it’s making me think of all the things I need to do to calm the farm – the weighted blankets, the writing, the quiet expanses of spaciousness just to… think. And create. And make sense of it all.

So it’s Thursday and my commitments from the last couple of months have ended and I feel like I have a bit more spaciousness now. To write and think again.

And there’s still backlog to work through, but this is part of it.

Gotta write it out to make sense of it all.

So I’m cocooned away, in my office, door locked, lanky now-3-year-old playing with her papa bear.

Not only that, but I’ve gone into the innermost creative cave of it… the nook of the walk-in robe just off my office… a bean bag and candles and crystals and hand cream in a corner by the window… a sanctuary away from any noise.

Here. Here I’ll return to me again. I’ve gone on many adventures. It’s time to write myself home.

*

I wonder, you know. I wonder how I could have been a better manager, a better hirer so that I could have scaled up into a larger-sized business.

But it’s like trying to make an antelope be an anteater.

It’s not my gift in the world. It’s not what I was born to do. It’s not what lights me up.

This, this right here does. This part about writing and sharing, this part of listening enough to hear the soft voice inside of me, that’s what I was destined to be on the planet for.

To create endless systems and check-ins to monitor and ensure my staff were at full productivity and doing the right thing?

Nope. Nope. No. Not in a million years.

It was just way too… peopley.

And I didn’t have the right people.

And I didn’t love it, at all.

And I could spend my time beating myself up about that… about the fact that I’m not born to give dictation, I’d rather just do it myself… about the fact that this particular constellation of cells needs and craves great swathes of time in order to listen to the drum in her head and tap tap tap it out onto the keyboard in simpatico. I was not born to be a manager. I was born to be a Leonie.

But what’s the point of beating myself up?

It changes nothing.

And it makes the misassumption that managers are better than introverted creative types.

The fact is, this world needs both.

I got born as the latter.

And it’s my job to craft a life and a business that sings to that and plays to my best side.

*

So I returned to my Hedgehog Concept… the one that I’ve always been so devout about but it got messed with when I had too many loud voices in my team so insistent that they knew better.

The Hedgehog Concept is from my (beloved business-boner-inducing) Jim Collins.

From Mind Tools – a good article about the Hedgehog Concept:

If you could choose to be a fox or a hedgehog, which would you rather be?

Many people would choose to be a fox. After all, foxes are beautiful, sleek and cunning. Hedgehogs, which are small, prickly creatures found in Europe, Asia and Africa, are quite the opposite: slow, quiet and plodding.

So what do foxes and hedgehogs have to do with your organization’s success? In short, everything.

In this article, we’ll look at the Hedgehog Concept, and we’ll discuss why it pays to be a hedgehog in business.

About the Model

The Hedgehog Concept is based on an ancient Greek parable that states: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

In the parable, the fox uses a variety of strategies to try to catch the hedgehog. It sneaks, pounces, races, and plays dead. And yet, every time, it walks away defeated, with a nose full of spines. The fox never learns that the hedgehog knows how to do one thing perfectly: defend itself.

Philosopher Isaiah Berlin took this parable and applied it to the modern world in his 1953 essay, “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” Berlin divided people into two groups: foxes and hedgehogs.

In his essay, he argued that foxes are sleek and shrewd animals that pursue many goals and interests at the same time. Because of this wide variety of interests and strategies, their thinking is scattered and unfocused, and they are limited in what they can achieve in the long run.

Hedgehogs, however, are slow and steady, and people often overlook them because they’re quiet and unassuming. But, unlike the fox, they are able to simplify the world and focus on one overarching vision. It’s this principle that guides everything they do, and helps them succeed against all odds.

Jim Collins developed this idea further in his classic 2001 book, “Good to Great.” According to Collins, organizations are more likely to succeed if they focus on one thing, and do it well. By doing so, they can beat their competitors and become truly great businesses.

An organization can find its “Hedgehog Concept” by making three separate assessments. First, it can understand what its people are truly passionate about. Next, it can identify what it does better than anyone else. And last, it can determine where it’s good at generating revenue.

The right way forward is where all three answers intersect, and it’s this central position that is the “sweet spot” for the organization’s strategy.

*

I’d always been so devout about that Hedgehog Concept… knew what worked for the workbooks and the Academy. When I listened too much externally about what I SHOULD be doing next, it led to so much feature and product bloat it wasn’t funny. Revenue went up, but expenses leapt up at the same rate. More work, more money coming in, more money going out, same profit. I took on projects that I shouldn’t have. I got burned to a crisp.

In that meeting with Rob that day, I said:

I should have said No. I should have said No so much more. I should have just listened to what I knew was right, and continued to steer the ship in the direction it needed to go. I wish I had been stronger.

Rob looks at me kindly.

You know, Leonie, you need to be gentler on yourself. And that’s not true. You DID say No. You said No a LOT. I was with you in some of those meetings with your staff. You said No to many of those things that people were pushing you to do. You always knew.

And then:

You know, you were always going to get to this point…

How so? I ask, pleading to know the answer of how I’d managed to fuck it up.

Volume was always going to kill you in the end.

You’re not a slow growth company. You’re a high growth company. Sheer volume of orders was always going to force your hand. You were going to have to decide on either of two options: hiring a large team, or outsourcing. There are pros and cons of both, and it comes down to personal choice.

You just explored the option of hiring a large team. You’ve discovered that does not bring you joy at all, or help you feel like you are fulfilling your company mission.

So now you are streamlining and outsourcing.

Either way, you were going to reach a pain point. You couldn’t have kept going the way that you were without choosing one option or the other. All you’ve done is learn which one you don’t wish to do. Excellent. And you’ve done it while staying profitable. You can count that as a win.

Oh, I say.

Maybe I couldn’t have prevented the pain. Maybe I hadn’t made a mistake. Maybe I could give up on believing that if I’d just controlled more, worked harder, I could have avoided the growing strain.

This is normal, he says.

Everyone goes through this. Everyone has their thing to work through. The pain brought on by owning a high growth company. It’s called scaling up, and it isn’t always graceful.

*

I will get asked this question, so I’ll pre-emptively answer: Rob is from DFK Everalls.

Yes, I recommend them.

*However* they may not be the right fit for you. It’s up to you and your criteria.

Do your own spreadsheet and interview round.

It’s worth it to find gold like this.

*

Maybe I’m not that special. Maybe I couldn’t have done anything else but been what I am.

I think about what Richard Branson says:

“Even if I’m falling flat on my face, I’m happy, because I know I’m still moving forward.”

*

I fell on my face. It was muddy and shitty and it hurt.

It did not feel graceful.

It broke my heart to see my dream – that thing I loved waking up in the morning to do, become something I didn’t want to return to.

But that right there – that time, that space – gave me the opportunity to reclaim it.

A reclamation of vision, determined to heal my dream and make it whole again.

And in doing so, I stepped into myself again. My power and my light and my joy. My salty intuition and my lioness guts.

Each step of the way as I carved off the pieces that stung and the pieces that did not fit, I felt lighter again.

This. This is what it is meant to be. This dream that was here all along. It might have got covered up with vines and barnacles… but the castle remains.

*

Maybe I didn’t make a mistake – I just did what everybody does.

I tried something. It didn’t work. So I’m trying something else.

Right now, it’s working.

And if it stops working, I’ll change course again.

Maybe there’s never any wrong turns, just scenic drives along the way to give you insight and travelling stories you wouldn’t have without. My eyes are different for having seen that land. My heart is stronger and wider for having felt that pain and choosing me and my dream again.

*

Maybe the whole point of all this is that sometimes, in life and in business,

we go to places we don’t want to go, we learn lessons we don’t want to learn, we see things we don’t wish to see.

Maybe the whole point is that growth of any kind (revenue or spiritual) doesn’t come without pains, without fumbling and near misses in the dark.

That nobody gets through this unscathed, without their war stories, without their “Holy fuck can you believe THAT just happened?”

But that maybe the whole breathless, sweaty mess crafts us into better humans, far better than if the road was always smooth, the air always sweet, the choices easily made.

That this is what we were made for, the destruction and the resurrection, the losing and the reclamation.

It’s all the more sweeter, all the more precious, to have lost it and claimed it again.

Blessings,

P.S.

TWO IMPORTANT THINGS:

1. Due to popular request, here’s the complete list of courses available in the Academy.

2. Just 8 days left until Shining Biz + Life Academy prices DOUBLE.

Academy prices DOUBLE March 31! Enrol now!

Dearests,

Important news in this blog post.

It will probably be a bit of a long one, but it’s important, so there we go.

I’ve just opened enrolments for the Shining Biz + Life Academy.

I am doubling prices to $997 on midnight March 31 – so you have a month to enrol before prices go UP.

Enrol now to jump in at the current price
before the big price increase!

You get SO MUCH amazing support + powerful, inspiring education as an Academy member!

Here’s what our members rave about:

  • 120 powerful courses for all aspects of Biz, Marketing, Relationships, Life, Creativity + Soul!
  • A mastermind of thousands of vibrant women from all around the globe to support you.
  • Monthly group Q&A coaching calls with me (worth $1000 + the ONLY way to connect personally + get coaching with me like, EVA!).
  • $2000 worth of tremendous discounts in the Shining Discount Centre, a treasure trove of deals for the software, suppliers + goodies you need for a life + biz that shines!
  • New workshops added to the training resources at your fingertips monthly!

Enrol now to jump in at the current price
before the big price increase!

Q: Why are you doubling prices?

I shared about my bigger reasons here. Basically: I’ve added courses + services out the wazoo for the Academy, and even at the increased price, it’s still a fantastic investment for people.

Q: Is this a new thing you’re offering?

LOLZ. Nope. I’ve been running the Academy since 2010 – nearly 7 years now! I’ve taught thousands of women in that time to grow abundant, successful businesses + have happier lives. I’ve adored watching their lives + businesses change + grow because of the Academy! I’m so very proud!

Q: Do you have a payment plan available?

No. Not anymore. I shared about my reasons for that here.

Q: What if I don’t have a business? Does the Academy still apply to me?

Yes! There’s lots of people in the Academy who are just there to make use of the 75+ life courses for:

  • creativity
  • spirituality
  • health
  • parenting
  • meditation
  • decluttering…

Thus why it’s called the Shining Biz AND LIFE Academy! Ha!

Q: Can I buy just the business courses? Or just the life courses? Or just one course on its own?

Nope. The Academy is the best way I can support you. It’s comprehensive support.

Q: What if I’ve already signed up at a lower price? Does that mean you are increasing my membership price?

Absolutely not. You get to keep the membership price you signed up at for life.

I’ve always promised my Academy members that even if I increase prices, I will let all members keep the price they signed up with. (Note: if you cancel your membership and want to renew later, you have to sign up at the new price. So always best to keep your membership renewed!)

I take care of you, boo!

Q: What is your spirit animal?

Trick question for those still reading. Buffalo or horse.

Q: Will I get to keep this price, or will it go up?

Whatever price you enrol at, you get to keep forever. So if you sign up today for $497, that’s your membership price forevs. Even if I double prices again in another two years and start selling the Academy for $1997 a year – you’ll get to keep it for $497 a year. YAY!

Q: Does it include the printed workbooks?

Not this year. You’ll get access to the digital workbooks. I wrote about the reasons for that here. The focus for the Academy has always been about the courses.

Q: What is the refund policy?

There are NO refunds for Academy memberships except where required by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Law.

There are no refunds for change of mind, or because you’ve logged into the membership site and quickly realised that you will still need to actually – you know – work to see results. It’s not a “Click a Buy Button and Instantly Fix All Your Problems” kind of thing. Nothing is.

As soon as you enrol, you receive access to 120+ of my business, marketing, tech, creativity, spirituality, meditation and relationship courses. If you use them, they will work for you. They’ve been used by thousands of people over the last 6 years with huge results. It’s a unique, generous offering, and you’d be hard pressed to find as much content, resources, love and goodness in such an affordable program. When you invest in yourself with the Academy membership, your purchase is final.

I stand fully behind my products, and I don’t enable quitters. Do the work + you’ll see the results. Simple.

Q: Is your husband hot?

BIG TIME.

Q: I have another question!

Please, for the love of delilah, go read the dang sales page! Ha!

Q: What do people say about the Shining Biz and Life Academy?

Here. Dis:

Enrol now to jump in at the current price
before the big price increase!

Phew… Righto!

There’s more to share… but that will come in time.

For now, at least I’ve opened the enrolment gates.

It’s funny how both my babies – the Academy and the workbooks have been around for exactly the same amount of years as I’ve been a mama. I wrote the workbooks with a full moon belly of Ostara, and got the idea for the Academy one night in the dark haze of night breastfeeding a tiny baby in my arms.

I opened it the week after moving back to my hometown with a chubbier baby on my hip.

Oooh! Let me see if I can find the original video for it.

Nope… but I DID just find this!

ERMAGERD

MY OOOOOOVARRRRIES

Oh Leonie of 7 years ago. You are so beautiful babes. I am so proud of you. And I know your vajayjay is all bung up in this video, and you’ve got some big hard times ahead of you. But you’re going to make it through. And you’ll do it all your own way. And it will be enough. It will be perfect in its human kind of way. I love you.

EEEEP. Okay… that was a fun SASHAYYY down memory lane.

What next?

I just finished writing up all the courses I’m teaching for the next year for my Academy members. A beautiful blend of business, marketing, life, relationship, meditations + creativity. I feel excited. It feels… GOOD. I can’t wait to share them with you.

*

I took the weekend off social media + phones completely. Deleted them all off my phone, haven’t put them back on. Instead of using the phone as my reflex when I was bored or overstimulated… I had to make better choices. I read, and I journalled. I read a romance book in the bath so long I had to top it up twice with hot water. I made big art – the kind I haven’t done for a while.

All these choices I’ve made and been making…

it’s like the spring rains are coming

and little tendrils and petals are unfurling.

I feel like I’ve been beige for a while, for a variety of reasons – stress, illness, I lost my way.

But now I’ve reclaimed my path…

And damn it feels good.

Leonie in full colour is returning to life.

And it’s the most wonderful feeling of all.

*

If you’d told me last year that I’d feel this good by this time, I wouldn’t have believed you.

All I needed to do was make some decisions that were big and hard at the time…

but damn… if my life isn’t magnificent and good again from them.

I’m so damn grateful.

*

Wherever you are… however you are…

I want you to know you’re not alone in this.

Spring will come.

Big love,

Enrol before midnight March 31
before our price DOUBLES!

James on my mind.

James.

James.

James.

James Taylor.

How do I even begin to share about that night, about that magic, about what it meant to me, about who James Taylor is in the celestial gallery of stars in my heart?

At the very beginning I guess.

*

I didn’t get much of a musical history education as a kid.

I lived on a farm, and my parents were too busy chasing cattle or children to consider something as insignificant as music.

(That said, they did encourage us to play music – my brother and sister both played clarinet, the world’s unsexiest instrument, and I attempted very hard to learn how to play guitar thanks to my glorious Year 5 teacher Mr Davis, but only really mastered “Wild Thing”. Playing music just never was easy for my brain, not like the easy home of art and writing.)

There were a few stray albums floating around later on – The Lion King soundtrack and The Phantom of the Opera soundtrack.

And like every good child of the 80s and early 90s, I made mixtape recordings of the radio, screechy beginnings and endings and all.

I felt like a scavenger, desperate to find the songs that lived in my heart but hadn’t heard with my ears.

The only glimpses I heard was when my cousin Michael visited and sang old country music songs, or I listened to his dad’s scratchy recordings on tape…. his deep voice visiting from the past, glorious and strong, long before emphysema rendered him a grey ashen shadow on my grandmother’s verandah, spitting up chunks of lung into a yellow ice cream bucket. If ya’ll want to know why I’m so anti-smoking, glimpse into this window of the blonde, curly-haired imp, sitting on her Uncle Trevor’s bed, watching TV with him on his tiny screen for endless, baking hours.

“The only twisted branch… on my good old family tree…”

My Uncle Trevor’s ghostly voice sang from the tapes.

So I’d take his old guitar out to the long grass by the fence behind the vege patch, and I’d try to sing his songs too.

It came easy to him, but it didn’t come easy to me.

*

When I was 15 I could sense an earthquake was beginning to erupt on our family farm, one that would continue for years and break apart forever the Allan Dynasty. No more Christmases spent with the legion of aunties and uncles and cousins, no more pride in being an Allan, not when Allans turned against other Allans, not when there was greed and hatred and childhood hurts turned into adult warfare. I know your interest is piqued, and oh, the stories I could tell. But now’s not the time, and this is not the place, and they’ve all been eaked out by me in therapy already until the hurt no longer hurt and the shock no longer shocked, and all that is left is: Well, that happened.

Still, I left before the real earthquakes began. Somehow, somewhere, deep inside, I knew I needed to get out. Not because I hated the place – but because I knew I needed more. Get off the farm, get out of that small town, get out of that high school that was so filled with chaos and pain and bullying.

I sent myself to boarding school. I sent away for prospectuses, took scholarship exams, and when I had enough offers, I chose not was the most big or flash. Just the one that felt like the most like me. It was small and homely and filled with naive country kids who’d grown up doing School On The Air. Kids who took the opportunity of Free Dress days not to dress up as “cool” or “hot” as possible… but to wear their Akubra cowboy hats and their Wrangler jeans.

And those country kids? They still remain dear friends to this day, ones I’m so proud of, kids who dreamed big dreams and made them happen: the ABC correspondent who raised 3 kids in Africa, Australia’s expert on the Burma crisis, Canberra’s urban planner, a micro-electronic engineer who designs the software cars run on (and also happens to be the world #2 in beer pong). The pride is real, guys.

I chose the right place. There I had teachers who were kind and brilliant and fascinating who loved what they did. When high school teachers don’t have to spend their days policing for drugs or defending themselves against physical attacks from students or just even spending three quarters of class time getting that one kid just to BEHAVE ALREADY… that one kid who should have been expelled long ago, but hasn’t been… when they don’t have to spend their time doing that, and can just teach? They are a miracle to watch and a joy to experience.

Miss Weeks who would giddily clap her hands and squee when I handed in a writing assignment, telling me she couldn’t wait to read what I’d write. She’d encourage me to write more, be more florally, be more expressive, be even more of myself. Mr Trezona who was so excited about computers and IT and the internet I couldn’t help but catch the contagion, who treated me like a person and told me stories of his life which filled me with wonder and awe. Miss Scott who gave me my first spiritual book – The Celestine Prophecy, who was more dear friend than teacher, and continues to be to this day. Miss Landsberg, who told me stories of her life during the war as we sat together, side by side on a wire framed bench, looking out over the night. The rest of the boarding dorms were filled with ants scurrying and chatting, but between us there was a secret world we could talk our way through each break. She still writes me letters now, at 90. She is one of the bravest women I know. Mr Thompson our Principal, who believed in me and was kind to me even when others didn’t see his kind side, and he protected me from the war that was happening back home. He made me feel listened to, that what I said was worthy of being heard. And Mr Turier, who reigned over the kingdom of the art rooms. He was benevolent and ridiculous and charming and encouraging and incomprehensible and sage and teasing all at once. I don’t ever remember him telling us what to do, instead he mastered the art of holding space for us to be creative while watching us from his glass office, 70s music blaring. He sent me back to the dorm rooms with an armful of “real homework” – books by Krishnamurti, albums by Bob Dylan and Mike Oldfield and James Taylor.

I got lucky, beyond lucky, with that moment in time, with that bunch of country kids and that circle of teachers. They were a miracle and a blessing to me. I wouldn’t be who I am now if I hadn’t leapt. So many seeds were planted then that grew strong in my forest of trees.

*

Just one of them was James Taylor.

When Turier handed me that CD in that armful of “real homework” he didn’t know he’d given me the songs I’d been hunting for.

The songs that were already inside me, just waiting for my ears to hear them.

James was the bard to my soul, the music I’d been waiting for.

There in that dorm room that night, there wasn’t any shock, just a homecoming.

At last. At last. Here was the music. Here was home.

I inhaled “Fire and Rain” and “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Carolina In My Mind” and “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” until they became a part of my cells.

I lay on my bed and looked out at the night sky and rested.

*

And so it continued. I made mix CDs of James and Paul Simon and Fleetwood Mac and a thousand folk singers, with one odd disco version of Bette Midler’s “Beast of Burden”.

When I moved to Canberra, I foraged through the library’s music collection, hungrily feeding my ears all the new sounds I’d never heard before: world music and Willie Nelson’s later music and Janis Joplin and Sarah McLachlan and Xavier Rudd. One gleeful day, I came upon James Taylor’s familiar face, now slightly more weathered. It wasn’t the 70s anymore, but here he was – still making albums! He was still creating music! Still turning up, still creating! My heart swam with joy. I took home Hourglass and October Road, waited breathlessly, worrying, as all fans do, if I’d like “his old stuff better than his new stuff.” I worried that he was going to be rehashing, making shit albums. I didn’t want to break the James spell inside me. But the music came alive, and so did I.

Here was a man who still loved to make music. Who still made new music that was instantly timeless. Who was as brilliant as ever.

“Ananas” and “Line ‘em Up” and “Jump Up Behind Me” and “Another Day.”

*

When I was 21, I wrote a bucket list of everything I wanted to do in my life.

See James Taylor live in concert.

There were no other musicians or bands on that list. No Paul or Fleetwood Mac.

Just James.

*

Time waned and roamed as it does. I became a mother, I lived through the hells of Post Natal Depression and Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I married my one true love by the sea. A friend died suddenly, grandmothers died expectedly but still sadly. People fell in love and married and divorced. We had another baby, we moved around a lot. We lived a whole lot of life. We landed back in Canberra, the city my love and I grew into adults in, the place I’d found those new James Taylor CDs in the library. My face shifted from glowing maiden to a Mama-who-has-seen-some-shit, ya know?

*

I started using essential oils therapeutically last year. My body a ship on the rocks, constantly coming aground on infection. First just to ward off the rocks. Then as the fevers left, my intuition started to bloom again with them. That intuition which had once been so deep but now was dusty and tired. Maybe I’d left it in a moving box, or maybe it had been dented over and over or maybe I’d convulsively vomited it out during the Time Of The Great Spewing For 9 Months or maybe I just needed another 100 hours of sleep to catch up with my motherhood deficit. Whatever it was, the oils began calling it out again. Lubricating the joints of spirit with lavender and sandalwood, frankincense and white fir.

I began dreaming again, feet adorned in Frankincense. Dreams that were tonic, were prophecy, were awake and full colour.

One night, I dream of James.

He has come to a small gathering, we are by the sea next to a crumbling mansion.

He sits with his guitar and he sings, that familiar voice washing over me, awakening me.

I recline in my wooden deck chair in front of him, my spirit humming.

I keep saying to myself over and over:

“This is the greatest dream of my life. I have front row seats to watch James SING!”

In the morning, I awake, jubilant.

*

Two days later, there is a knock on the door of my soul, in the form of an ad pop up.

I gasp in shock at the recognition – it’s James’ face.

I go to close it, but remember my dream had come to me for a reason.

I look closer:

He’s doing a concert tour. Surely not in Australia though? He never comes here! Well, even if it IS, he won’t come to Canberra. None of the big American stars do!

Still, I caution myself. The dream. Remember the dream. Look harder.

I click. I look. I stop breathing.

James Taylor has just announced a concert. In Canberra.

*

By this stage, I am catatonic, clearly. I’m crying and I can’t speak. I’m Kristen Bell sloth-ing.

When Chris asks me what it is, I can only point and squeak and sob some more.

*

Not just that:

Tickets haven’t even been open yet.

I might just be able to get front row tickets.

I’m at Defcon Level 5 of Freakout.

*

Two days later, I wait patiently for the clock to click over.

11am.

Click. Front row tickets. Buy.

My hands shake and I am palpitating.

My Frankincense-infused dream has come true.

*

It’s two months between that moment and the next, the buying and the night of the concert.

I try and stay calm… two months is too long for me to be peaking out.

By the last week, I’m starting to freak. So I message my darling Deb for sage advice on how to emotionally process seeing James when I do see him.

Two things:

  1. She made me snort out my nose laughing. Most grandmotherly advice in the world: “Just keep yourself nice + don’t make too big a spectacle!” Even now I am chortling about this.
  2. It was a relief to know somehow that I wouldn’t have to emotionally process seeing JT. That it would just stay as a magical experience, floating about in the ethers of my body. That, I could do.

*

The night of the concert.

Our friend arrives to babysit and we are dressed up all fancy and in a minute we’re on the highway together, alone, for the very first time in a long time, and the very first time at night since I was in labour with Beth.

We find our way, get our seats.

And my dream and my click-happy finger have scored us the prize seats of the house… the two seats directly in front of the microphone.

We spend our time taking selfies in front of JT’s microphone and guitar and water bottle.

I am at Full Blown Fangirl level.

I make friends with the other front row people. I’m the youngest fan by 20 years.

Chris meanwhile says he’s going to need No Doze to stay awake (he’s more of a KISS glam rock fan).

I keep burying my head in his shoulder, clutching the warm river stone of him, my mountain of calm.

The anticipation is too much.

*

And then…

he just sidles onto stage.

Walks out like he isn’t James Taylor, best-selling musician for the last 5 decades. Like he wasn’t the first person the Beatles signed for their own record label. Like he hasn’t sold over 100 million albums.

Walked out in his cap and his suit and his buttoned up blue shirt.

He took off his cap and bowed long and deep, reverent and grateful.

*

This mythical figure is a real man. Tall and long limbed, piercing blue eyes. He is at once brand new and deeply familiar to me. He has always reminded me of my dead brother, Clinton who died in a farming accident when I was a teenager. They are born from the same mould, the same archetype of human. He is my brother if he’d only lived fifty more years. Most of all though, he is James.

*

He walks up to the microphone, no fan fare, no words, no supporting act, no fancy light show.

Just strums his guitar,

opens his mouth

and

sings.

*

And that’s what he continues to do for the next three hours.

In between, he told us stories.

Stories about creating, about the land he loves, about politics (“It’s easier to break the political system than you think. Trust me, we just did. We’re sorry about that”) and about musical history he was a part of (“When I auditioned as an unknown for Paul McCartney and George Harrison for the Beatles’ record label, I was like a Chihuahua on meth amphetamines. I can’t remember that much about that decade to be honest.”)

He is funny and hesitant, at once shy and at home on stage.

He makes jokes at his own expense, is gloriously self deprecating.

*

But what’s most apparent most of all?

His joy.

He can’t keep the smile off his face as he sings.

He closes his eyes and goes into another place.

He can barely contain his gladness.

*

*

This is a man who has lived the last 40 years making music.

He joked “I got famous for singing my dear friend Carole King’s ‘You’ve Got A Friend’. When I first heard it, I couldn’t stop myself from running to the guitar to play it myself. I don’t know if I knew then I would be singing that song for people every night for the rest of my life. Still, if I had to choose any song in the world to sing every night for the rest of my life, that is a good one to choose.”

And he does it with gladness, and with joy.

Irrepressible gladness at doing this thing he was put on the planet to do.

And it rose in me a question I keep ruminating over…

What would be the thing that would still make me impossibly glad to do 40 years from now?

What would make me smile like James Taylor still does?

*

Now here’s the part where I tell you:

Despite my adoration for him as a musician, I always thought he’d be a little of the “You’re So Vain” type that his ex-wife Carly Simon allegedly wrote about him. I expected him to be a little jaded or conceited or narcissistic.

I wasn’t prepared for how humble and gentle his presence was.

That bloke might have had a lot of drugs + crazy times + spent time in a psychiatric hospital… but this clearly was a dude who has done a lot of therapy, gotten over his shit, has the love of a good woman and has become pretty sage in the process. He’s a canary (as Glennon Doyle Melton would call him) who feels so much he’s had to learn how to channel it in healthy ways.

Who he is as a presence is even more beautiful and present and healed than I ever expected.

*

By intermission I’ve already had the best night of my life hands down.

As he dismisses us for intermission, he jokes he is just going to go stand behind the curtains and wait for us to come back. Instead, a young couple come scurrying up to the front, and ask him to sign a shirt.

James smiles and says “Of course! Delighted to!” and crouches that long frame down to sit on the side of the stage.

I stand, paralysed, a metre from him.

“Go,” Chris murmurs. “Go say hello. There’s about to be a stampede.”

So I stand behind the couple, and feel terrible that I am even asking him of this, when he really should be backstage resting. He turns to me and I go blank and jittery.

“Ummm! Shit! I’m so nervous! I can barely even talk! Thank you for being you in the world. I’m just so grateful. May I please have a selfie with you and get a shirt signed? Totally okay if no!”

“Of course,” he smiled. “I’d love that.”

Then I stepped back and the crowds surged forward. Chris grabbed me by the arm, and I shook like a leaf.

He guided me out of the concert hall so I could stammer and hyperventilate in peace.

“How was that?” he said.

“Best… night… of… my… life.”

My hilarious friends were less than impressed:

*

And then it was time for round 2.

As we headed back into the concert hall… I was gobsmacked.

The crowd was still surrounding James, who was still sitting on the stage edge, taking photos and shaking hands and signing autographs half an hour later.

He had not taken a break at all… used the intermission solely to thank people for coming.

People were a gush with his generosity.

His band came back from intermission and began to play.

Still, James crouched and signed signatures. People began filing back to their seats, but he stayed and touched and connected with every single person who wanted it. Eventually, his back up singers pulled him back up… and that man who’d just sung his heart out for 90 minutes and then spent another 30 minutes swamped by fans?

Didn’t take a break. Didn’t get any water.

Just stood up.

Played his guitar.

Opened his mouth.

And sang.

*

Three hours. Three hours, ya’ll!

The lovely lady beside us told me she’d seen him and Carole King sing live together in Melbourne, and that they kept singing for hours, around and around, totally joyful and in love with the act of singing.

After what I saw, I believe it.

This is a man who loves what he does. Who has an almost superhuman lack of personal needs.

Who plays that long and that hard and that well… and barely breaks a sweat.

Who smiles that whole time because he still can’t quite believe his luck that he gets to sing his songs and people want to listen.

On through the catalogue we journeyed.

I close my eyes, let the music vibrate over me, the song its own sound healing.

The catalogue of my life.

You’ve Got A Friend reminds me of my soul brother Dan, my high school best friend. His love saved me, and mine saved his. When I sent myself to boarding school, he said “I’m not staying here without you” and came with me. I’ve adored him for half my life now. That will only continue.

You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah,
you’ve got a friend.

Fire and Rain is the story of every fuckup and loss and sadness and grief. I think: If James Taylor can survive Fire and Rain, I can survive all these things too. And my weary old heart heals some more.

If this man who has been through so much – addiction, heart break, mental illness, fame, and can still be here creating 40 years later, still be lighting up as he does so… I can get through this great mess of life too. I can get through the Fire and still be joyful.

Won’t you look down upon me Jesus, You’ve got to help me make a stand.
You’ve just got to see me through another day.
My body’s aching and my time is at hand and I won’t make it any other way.
Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I’d see you again.

Wandering tells me I can forgive myself for being a wanderer, for moving so many times. That maybe just maybe I’m not alone in this.

I’ve been wandering early and late
from New York City to the Golden Gate
and it don’t look like
I’ll ever stop my wandering.

And in my own Z-list internet celebrity-ish life, I more deeply resonated with Fame than ever before – both the strangeness of it, and the sacred blessing of being on purpose.

Fortune and fame’s such a curious game.
Perfect strangers can call you by name.
Pay good money to hear Fire and Rain again and again and again.
Some are like summer coming back every year
Got your baby, got your blanket, got your bucket of beer.
I break into a grin from ear to ear
and suddenly it’s clear
That’s why I’m here.

And this will sound wanky, but it is honest, so that’s enough: That night with JT helped me understand a bit more about this fame thing. It helped me understand why some people feel the way they do when they meet me. My work touches them, so I can feel like both a mythical creature + a dear companion to them. Our creative work is so important and helps all of us feel less alone in the world.

*

He says he is just a country hippy, and all at once, those words become emblazoned on my heart.

Country Hippy.

That’s what I am. That’s what I’ve struggled with:

The small town farm girl who is into woo-woo and sacred women’s work.

But there it is:

I can be both.

Why didn’t I think of this before?

Still, now JT has said it, it’s officially a Thing.

*

I forget, but that night I remembered:

Music is transcendent.

It allows us to be present.

It asks only for our attention.

And it reminds all of us to be creative in the ways that sing to us.

*

And my husband, who thought he’d need No Doze?

He said it was one of the best concerts he’d ever experienced.

He said the joy and energy and gifts of James and his band of 10+ were contagious and brilliant.

He has converted and now bows down to the James Taylor altar with me.

*

James reminded me to PLAY.

Every part of that concert felt like play, as though we were invited in to see a band of 11 brilliant, gifted musicians jam together. It was a collaboration, a joyous celebration of music.

They had FUN most of all.

*

By the end of the night all the backing singers had got us all up and dancing by the stage. I was dancing in front of JT’s mike… it was all verrrry intimate… and I was basically in wild rapture trying not to wet myself. Chris was just behind me, man-guarding my handbag and attempting not to draw attention to himself. #oppositesattract

*

When it was over, my heart was so full.

All I could do was prayer pose and send waves of love and gratitude to James.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for doing your work in the world. Thank you for sharing your gift. You have touched mine and so many other’s lives because of it.

*

And that’s the whole point of it, isn’t it?

How can we be more playful?

How can we do work that still makes us grin madly to do in 40 years?

How can we more deeply trust that our work is meant for us and is meant for others as well? That this world needs our light and our song and our dance?

*

I return to my studio now, my James Taylor pass hanging over my head, a creative amulet.

I couldn’t make the music I heard in my heart as a child.

But that’s okay. James could. And James did.

And that was all that was needed.

So James plays his songs, and I write my words and make my pictures.

And we offer them to the world, in gladness.

Big love,

Leonie’s Bucket List, 12 Years On…

 

Graphic from ye olden days when I first wrote this list!

Dearests,

Twelve years ago, long before the workbooks were ever born, I decided I needed to start writing my bucket list at the ripe old age of 22.

What’s a bucket list?

“a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.”

For me, it was a list of all the things I wanted to do to live – really live – my beautiful life. The big & the small.

Once I got clear on what I wanted, I started making them happen.

Twelve years on, I am stunned at how much of it has already come true.

STUNNED.

And so grateful for all the things I still want to do as well.

So much more life to live and experiences today.

I thought about this list today because stunning, breathtakingly, another bucket list item is coming true for me in mere hours.

It came about a couple of months ago.

I’ve become quite enamoured with using essential oils for health, spiritual + emotional healing.

Each night, I apply essential oils to my feet to help me sleep and heal my broken immunity.

In particular, I used Frankincense which is good for both of these things, and so much more.

And what I discovered was… (along with a number of my oily mates)… is that Frankincense gives you… psychic dreams.

Really strong, vivid, clear dreamings. It’s full powerful and v special.

Anyways, one particular night, I had a crystal clear dream:

I was at a small gathering, and James Taylor was there.

(James Taylor, my one + only, my bucket list, the songwriter of my soul.)

And he brought out his guitar, and he started singing.

And I was sitting right in front of him in a deck chair, and kept thinking to myself:

“This is incredible. I have FRONT ROW TICKETS TO SEE JAMES TAYLOR SING! BEST.DREAM.EVER.”

It was rapturous and blissed-out.

Two days later, James Taylor face pops up on my screen. Literally. A pop up ad.

And I thought:

“As if he would be touring in Australia. It’s just a tour in America they are advertising. Even IF he is finally coming to Australia, he won’t be coming here. Not to this small city that NEVER gets any big American stars!”

But the dream was embedded deep in my mind.

So I clicked.

And I stopped breathing.

James Taylor.

In Australia for the first time in 7 years.

And.

He

Had

Just

Announced

A

Canberra

Show.

Canberra. Where I live. Where no US singers come. Canberra. Quiet, homely, Canberra. He was coming. TO ME.

James. Taylor.

James-Taylor-Lexington

I started sobbing immediately.

Not just that…

but tickets weren’t released yet.

AND… I talked to Chris…

and we decided to try and pull off my dream…

Buy front-row tickets.

I was in the car when they opened for ticket sales.

Chris was driving, Beth was having a toddler tantrum.

My hands were shaking.

I counted down the seconds.

And then, there it was.

I clicked.

And my dream land and real land had converged.

I had front row tickets to see James Taylor sing.

It’s happening tonight.

I’m trying not to think about it, lest I barf or hyperventilate with excitement.

I asked my darling Deb how to deal.

16602293_1346701282059059_7861068161020409982_o

“Just keep yourself nice and don’t make too big a spectacle.”

The most grandmotherly advice ever wrote.

I keep thinking of this, and laughing through my nose.

It’s good advice.

Damn good advice.

One of the most special things from my bucket list is coming true.

I am so bloody grateful. Thank you magical world. Thank you Frankincense. Thank you (sob) James Taylor.

So herein is the bucket list I started writing 12 years ago. What’s been dreamed alive, and what’s still being soaked beneath the surface, ready to seed and bloom in good time.

Things To Do This Life List

1. Have a midnight picnic

3. Have a bicycle with streamers on the handlebars

5. Read tea leaves

7. Play Bingo in a Bingo hall.

9. Handglide

11. Swim with dolphins.

26. Dance on a table

29. Get published by a publishing house

47. Sleep under the stars again

55. Get so flexible I can bend my head to my knees

59. Get a professional dress-ups photo taken (dressed up like another era) – I was so close to having this happen in a little German town in South Australia, but they’d just closed!

60. Baptise a baby

63. Watch a foal being born

74. Take photos of the red dirt of the Grand Canyon against a blue blue sky.

75. Gondola. Venice.

76. Meet SARK.

78. Paint with ochre rock dust

79. Create my own set of oracle cards

90. Walk the Camino trail

91. Go to Tibet

93. Go to Maccu Piccu

103. Hold workshops all around the world

110. Publish a range of greeting cards.

112. Return to Uluru.

113. Meet Brooke Medicine Eagle.

114. Go to a residential spiritual retreat.

120. Photograph a magical singer for their album

121. Do The Gift.

122. Go to Japan.

123. Go to the Goddess Conference in Glastonbury.

126. Go whale watching again!

127. Take Ostara to Reefworld

128. Go to Nu Zillland (New Zealand)

129. Celebrate our 50th love-a-versary

DONE

119. See James Taylor in concert. – TONIGHT HOLY SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

111. Go to Tasmania with my lover. – Done. Moved there for 6 months!

27. Design my own sticker series – Done.

2. Paint my nails bright purple – Done

4. Have henna painted on the palms of my hands – Done.

6. Learn how to say “thank you” in six languages. – Done.

10. Wear a lot of bangles on my wrists so I can make music when I *sashay* – Done.

12. Spread happy graffiti/street stickers – Done.

13. Photograph project of street art – Done.

14. Hold the hands of my beloved on a beach and say *I do* while looking intensely into his eyes – DONNNNNNNNNNNNNE!!!!!!!

15. Begin & finish my second gratitude journal – DONE! Used this!

17. Read “Mists of Avalon” – 50% read, and I think that was all I needed to read, so I am marking this as Done.

20. Have a book launch – Done. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but an online launch where I hit the charts of Amazon.

21. Write silly and insightful sayings on t-shirts and wear them – Done.

22. Paint like a goddess – Done, and will do for the rest of my life.

23. Watch “What the Bleep Do we Know” – Done.

25. Record a full length song – Done.

28. Feel truly enriched, uplifted and satisfied by my career. Touch other’s lives with my work. You know what? I’m going to keep doing this… but I’m calling it DONE! I love what I do!

30. Paint a photo frame – Done.

31. Have a big treasure chest of artsy goodies – Done.

32. Make an altar – Done. This is so much a part of my life now.

35. Get an eyebrow ring – Done. And I loved every part of it – getting it, having it, letting it go.

36. Rockclimb – Done! Canberra has the best mountain rocks ever!

37. Have bright blue hair – Done. 

38. Canoe/Kayak on Lake Burley Griffin – Done. I’ve been sailing on it twice, and hilarious fun ensued.

39. Go to a Sacred Heart Gathering at Uluru – Done. And it was incredible.

40. Howl at full moon – Done.

42. Get a tattoo. – Done

43. Do an art portfolio up with photos of all my works – Done. And it looks awesome.

44. Learn Tibetan Buddhist meditation – Done.

45. Dance on a beach at night – DONE!!!! That was my sacred hen’s night on the eve of our wedding!!!

46. Have a LeoniePaLooza – DONE! DONE! I’ve had many of them now.

49. Eat noodles again at a streetvendor stall in SE Asia. DONE! Singapore!

50. Have a hammock. – We have a rainbow hammock chair instead!!! WEEEEOOOOOO!!! PERFECT!!!!

51. Own a blue car – Done. Aurora the Blue Jeep!

52. Add to this list – DONE!

54. Dress in disguise – Done.

57. Perform a rain dance – Done, and it worked! Also performed a stop-rain dance. Also successful!

61. Find a signature perfume scent – Done. My signature scent, I have realised, is no perfume ~ just the sweetness of my hair, the breath of wind around me, and occassional swirls of essential oils. My beautiful friend Angel said to me the other day “I love your smell Leonie. I have a pair of your socks that even smell like you!” I think I realised then my perfume quest was over… my signature scent is me.

62. Create a dreamboard – Done.

64. Marry myself – Done. I love this so much. Best thing I ever did for me.

65. Give birth – DONE!

66. Find a song that sings about a Leonie – DONE! Found on my 26th birthday – Arjan Brass sings “Leonie”.

67. Have no idea about what I’m going to be doing for a year. – DONE! When I wrote this, I had a different idea of how that would look. But it was different to my expectations. The first year of mamahood was this over & over. A void of time & space & knowing.

68. Tell a stranger they look beautiful – DID!

69. Give a spontaneous hug to someone I wouldn’t usually. DONE! My friend Deb + I had a hug-fest afternoon at work one day… I hugged over 100 people in three hours!

70. Cut and polish a rock – Had a spontaneous invitation from a new friend to do this! How cool!

72. Belly dance in blue – Done.

73. See a buffalo – oh my god! Done! I loved this so very, very much. I didn’t realise it was on my To Do List until just now!

77. Paint rocks – DONE. Me & Starry painted rainbow affirmation rocks & planted them in our town’s Goddess Persephone statue! Tee hee hee!

80. Delve and acknowledge the wisdom of my authentic and ancient self. DONE! – I do, and forever more will do.

81. Drink tea made from loose tea leaves – Done.

82. Make a necklace – Done.

84. Ride a horse again – Done. And I will again and again.

85. Lead a womens circle – Done.

86. Run a sacred creative retreat – Done. It was AMAZING. And I thought I wouldn’t do this for years and YEARS… but I did, and it was divine, blissful, tranformational. More than I could have ever imagined.

87. Submit a book proposal – Done! You GO Goddess Girl!

88. Appear in a SARK book – Done. RAR!

89. Go to India – Done. Wow. I travelled around India with my beloved, two sisters and Mum. Adventure of a lifetime!

94. Write a book – Done. I self published a book “Today I grew like a Wildflower” when I was 22. And then another one.

96. Be an apprentice to a Wise One. – Done.

99. Go to a world music/alternative music festival. – Done! Sacred Sound Festival at Ingelara Retreat.

100. Paint a wall mural – Done!

101. Do things just for me. – Done.

107. Be Leonie. – I love being Leonie. I am SO good at it! DONE!

108. Sell a painting to someone in Asia, Africa and South America. (Then I would have a painting in every continent!) DONE!

115. Create a photography website. – Done.

116. Have a solo art exhibition – Done.

117. Bushwalk in the Australian Alps – Done. We spent so much of our time in Canberra in the mountains.

118. Travel the NSW South Coast – Done! Once with my women’s circle, and once with my love the day after we found out we were pregnant, and again with my 2 daughters + husband 5 years later!

124. Visit the Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. – DONE. It was so beautiful visiting this place with my beloved.

125. Get a pedicure. – Done!

97. Enjoy every single day of my life. – Dudes, I’m calling this DONE. I am rocking at it! Even when I’m not! Yeah! Woo!

98. Live in the country again. – A few more years & we’ll have our dream acreage!  WE DID IT!!! WE DID IT!!! 

105. Meet Doreen Virtue, Julia Cameron or Oprah. Or all three. – Oooh! I did interview Julia Cameron for the World’s Biggest Summit! It was scrumptious!

106. Set up a healing retreat We did.

92. Read all the books in my bookcase

130. Be completely debt-free (mortgage included)

The Things I Thought I Might Like To Do But I Don’t Think I Do Anymore And That’s Totally Perfect List!

42. Learn the dates of star signs off by heart. – Meh. Don’t need to. This feels more like a should than anything.

53. Change my name to Leonie Cougar Mellancamp Allan {or not} – Done. I choose not too!

24. Watch the Qaatsi trilogy – Don’t feel the burning wish to anymore.

48. Hike for three days – seriously. Do I even want to do that kind of shit? Maybe if it was the Camino! Nah. I can’t stand long walks!

58. Wear a grass skirt and a coconut bra – Meh. Can’t be assed.

83. White water raft – Meh. Too rough for me. Not that interested.

95. Stay at an ashram in India for a couple of months. – I don’t think so. Maybe it’ll surprise me later on. But hey, I totally read “Eat Pray Love”. That’s JUST LIKE doing it yourself. Right? Riiiight?

102. Be in the SageWoman magazine (illustration, article or review) – This hasn’t happened not for lack of trying – I’ve submitted illustrations & an article to it, but it wasn’t the right timing. And then I was offered a regular columnist gig with them for their Maiden column – but I was heavily pregnant and just about to become a Mama, and knew I wasn’t in Maiden space anymore. So it’s been off timing. And now I don’t want to force this to happen. You know what would be cool though? If someone wrote a review for it of my book !

109. Have a neighbourhood progressive dinner. Meh! I just don’t wanna anymore. 

8. Scuba dive – Kinda makes me feel ewwwclaustrophobic thinking about it. And that’s okay!

71. Make a plaster cast of my breasts & belly and paint it – This didn’t happen while I was pregnant with Ostara. It just wasn’t the right timing. And you know what? I just don’t feel the calling to anymore. I will always remember what it felt like to have a little mermaid swimming in my belly. And I have some truly exquisite photographs to remember that full moon belly of mine. And a painting of what it felt like to have her inside me. I am complete.

18. Read a Henry Miller book – downloaded onto kindle! And realised it’s totally not what’s calling me right now! Maybe laters!

19. Finish an Anais Nin book – downloaded onto kindle! And realised it’s totally not what’s calling me right now! Maybe laters!

16. Finish reading “Women who run with the Wolves” – No. I don’t need to at this time.

33. Cook a creme brulee – Decided against this after finding out I’m actually intolerant to dairy and eggs. Bwahaha!

56. Work in a bookstore – I’ve run my own publishing house. Close enough. Anyways, bookstores have books but also too many people.

The Things I Have Done And They Were Ding Dang Fun List!

1. Photographed a stranger.

2. Lived in Malaysia by myself when I was 18 for a couple of months. Gua Musang, Raub & Kuala Lumpur FTW!

3. Decided when I was 15 that I needed to go to boarding school. So I did.

4. Graduated as School Captain, School Dux, top student in every subject & with an OP of 2 (top 5% of the state). Dude, I’m proud of my little overachiever days!

5. Self-published my first book Today I Grew like a Wildflower when I was 22.

6. Worked in Parliament House in Minister’s Offices.

7. Told a joke to the Treasurer of Australia.

8. Worked as a finance trainee, a receptionist, a legal secretary, a personal assistant and a web editor. Now I work as a Goddess! Woo!

9. Studied at three universities: James Cook University, Monash University & Australian National University.

10. Twirled fire.

11. Met Louise Hay & Wendy Matthews.

12. Seen Sarah Mclachlan in concert.

13. Photographed the lovely & inspiring Lucy Cavendish.

14. Found my totem animal.

15. Invited people from the internet to be my Goddesses of Honour at my Inner Marriage ceremony. I met them half an hour before the ceremony. It was perfect, and one of them became my best friend!

16. Found someone with a matching Kath and Kim apron as me.

17. Found my dog’s soul mate.

18. Organised a mystery fairy picnic in an abandoned lot in another city while I was visiting. We wore fairy crowns and ate fairy food and made art and laughed and laughed and laughed.

19. Had a weekend where me, my love and my best friend had a mini-retreat at home and called each other only by our spirit animal names.

20. Found the Goddesses I work with: Quan Yin and White Buffalo Calf Woman. Even just saying their names feels like taking a deep, holy breath.

21. Found a spiritual mentor.

22. Had the guts to go to my first women’s circle when I was 21.

23. Had an impromptu photo shoot in a car park.

24. Organised hilarious lunches at the Pancake Parlour where we called each other by our porn star names, made everything sound deliciously lude, and took very silly sultry photos. Because that’s how we roll on public service lunchbreaks.

26. Been to a Wild Woman’s Weekend in Melbourne.

27. Discovered the joys of margaritas at Montezumas. Over and over again.

28. Celebrated my 20’s birthdays in ridunkulously fun ways.

29. Photographed my favourite tattoo.

30. Made a Find-Your-Birthday-Party Adventure Pack for my friend Deb. The map & chalk drawings of angels all over the city led her to us on a hill in the middle of a ginormous roundabout where we had a picnic and blew dandelions. It was the best fun ever. The End.

31. Danced with a baby in an old cow shed as a Filipino tribal chief sung.

32. Literally FROLICKED in the park when it became Spring in Canberra. Had a “23 degree celsius party” with a bunch of friends after one long, cold winter.

33. Did one of those awful work-exercise-things. You know the kind. The one where everyone is supposed to walk five kilometres for the sake of a sausage-on-bread BBQ. Managed to subvert it entirely by meandering like Jane Austen characters, smelling blossoms as we go and inventing our dream alter egos. The End.

34. Had a writer’s date with a friend in an antique alternate cafe for an afternoon. Pretended we were in Paris, took large numbers of photos on Photobooth and all round did very little writing. Most excellent.

35. Found my separated-at-birth twin in the same cubicle as me. Spent the next 18 months inflicting my need to play horse and carriage on him. Guess who was the horse?

36. Had very many spontaneous picnics with friends.

37. Invented a cocktail: Pink Frothy Vulva.

38. Ridden carousels with friends.

39. Covered a friend’s office desk with love post-it notes.

40. Staged the 2006 Cheese Awards.

41. Photographed an abandoned building.

42. Played nose to nose in sacred communion with a platypus in Melbourne.

43. Wrote a second book.

44. Mentored teenage girls

45. Bought my grandmother’s 100 year old cottage

46. Moved back to my hometown of Proserpine

47. Survived & thrived from Post Natal Depression

48. Interviewed Julia Cameron, Lynn V Andrews (two of my biggest heroines!) and 100+ other teachers for World’s Biggest Summit!

49. Made my life truly my own.

50. Thrown away all my old journals + sold my book library.

51. Cut my long long mermaid hair to short short pixie hair.

52. Held my dog as he took his last breath. Sacred.

53. Went on health retreat for a week.

*

Life. It’s pretty much the best thing ever!!!!

Dearest,

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend this practice of writing a bucket list.

Write it, and keep it close.

Watch the miracles unfold.

Big love,

P.S.