Merry Ordinary Christmas from me and my family to you and yours.
And if it’s been a shit one, even more hugs and love to you. We have had a quiet Christmas as always… one filled with LEGO and books. Low-key is our style statement.
I asked my husband on the day if he had any Christmas feelings coming up that needed processing. You know the kind: guilt, grief, sadness, unmet expectations, longing, pain, pressure, worry, overwhelm, exhaustion. His was only about a 2/10 this year. Mine were about the same, so that’s a win. We’ve certainly had years when those feelings were much bigger and needed much more attention.
I share this because I’d like for all of us to know that not being 100% merry is totes normal.
We can craft our own season, free of expectations, and more able to acknowledge the full breadth of our feelings.
Here’s a pie chart of Christmas feelings this year:
And now the holiday season REALLY begins!
My favourite time of year is here… the post-Christmas gentle after all the expectation and pressure-cooker build up gone… the days between now and January’s end ready for reflection, dreaming and planning.
Today, I pulled out my workbooks that I wrote a year ago and read through it all… the closing ceremony and the goals I made. It’s amazing how things have changed in one year, and I’m so grateful I have these written reminders of who I was, how I’ve healed, and what I’m becoming next.
So many dreams came true this year – most I planned on in those goals workbooks, others I didn’t (i.e. the beautiful surprise of homeschooling). It’s always a miracle to meet with my Past Self and Future Self in these workbooks. I can see the random threads of my life weaving into a tapestry. What a blessing.
Tis the time to review last year’s goals workbooks… and start filling in next years!
And then dreaming up what is next…
Over the next few weeks (right up until January’s end), I’ll be ensconced in my own dreaming process.
I wrote and illustrated these babies for myself a lifetime ago before I was a mama… thought I’d share them with the world as an afterthought… only for them to become a cult hit used by over 400,000 beautiful souls around the world (!!!!)
Even if I’d just kept them for myself though… they would still be my favourite creation. Such an essential part of my own process for crafting my own life and business.
But I’m glad it’s not just me that’s doing it… that I get to share this journey with so many of you… it makes my heart so happy to hear of YOUR dreams and goals coming true as well.
If ya love ’em, I’d gratefully love a review to help other souls know they are worth their time.
In the meantime…
Let’s go gently.
It’s been a massive year globally. The Tower is falling in so many ways, systems falling apart and old modes of being being exposed to be consciously healed. Needed – yes. Cathartic – yes. Painful, scary, stressful – yes. All these things, all at once.
And we can only do it with self-care and self-compassion, first and foremost. Tend to our wounds so we can tend to the wounds of the world. Tend to the wounds of the world so we can tend to our own. It’s so intrinsically connected.
Come home to our centre, grow within us light, love, compassion and understanding. Then: radiate that out into the world.
I think we can start feeling like our dreams are selfish… and yet they are essential. We must make our dreams and plans for how we want ourselves + the world to heal next. One can’t happen without the other.
We are each needed in this big, beautiful world, with our gentle, loving hearts, and our sky-wide dreams.
It’s that time of year… my annual tradition of sharing my favourite reads for the year. You can read previous ones years here: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.
To be honest, I wasn’t planning on writing one of these this year – I felt like all I read was homeschooling books. But then one of my Academy members told me she was couldn’t wait to read this year’s booklist (thanks Jill!) and I got to thinking of all the good reads I HAVE had. And that it might not be as big of a list as in year’s previous, but there were still books that should be shared.
Plus, I thought, while I’m at it, I thought I’d share my favourite tv shows, podcasts + shit I bought.
First up: state of the read. What were my reading habits like this year?
I changed (again) my reading habits.
This year has felt like an intensive study into two new themes: homeschooling + network marketing.
I bought them in the truckloads, and consumed them as rapidly as I could.
I definitely didn’t have as much free time this year with starting homeschooling + a third company, and that impacted on the amount of books I read outside of those two topics.
I kept reading printed books 95% of the time, Kindle for uber trash romance/erotica that I didn’t need a paperback of.
I’d definitely like to get back into more of a pattern of reading more, and across more themes in 2018. This year has felt like a mad scramble to consume content!
By far, this is the best book of the year. I would even go so far as it entering my top ten favourite books ever (!!!!)
It was one of those serendipitous finds: a last-minute rush buy in an airport bookstore before a flight. That trip ended up being a disaster of comical proportions, but this book was its saving grace.
It’s the true story of a young bloke walking across America in order to get his shit together. Sounds a bit trite, but seriously: this book had me switching between laughing, madly scribbling vast swathes of it down in my journal, and sobbing convulsively.
Honestly, it was better than Wild for me (and I love Cheryl Strayed!) or any other “walking to fix your inner shit up” books I’ve read (I love that that’s a category of books now! ha!)
So much heart, and wisdom, and kindness, and hope.
I’m a longterm fan of Scott… in fact, I bought this book about 10 years ago. It was the first finance book we ever read, and it really helped us get our shit together. Scott’s the reason we cut up our credit cards and started understanding money and how to make it work for us. He’s still the one I rely on most of all to increase my financial literacy.
He re-wrote and re-released the book this year, and it is beyond brilliant.He’s the real deal, the shit, the bomb dot com. I know I sound like a raving fan, which I am. I think EVERYBODY should get this book and do the steps in it. It will change your life.
When I read Gretchen’s last (also fantastic) book Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits I was enthralled by a chapter of it on her four habit tendencies (or personality types). It was that brilliant, I wished the whole book fleshed it out more. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one to think this, because she did it! This book is the result of that. I couldn’t be gladder.
I reckon this book is excellent in helping to increase your productivity by knowing your tendencies’ weaknesses and strengths. Here’s a brief overview of the four tendencies, and you can also take the quiz here to determine which tendency you are.
For example, I’m an Obliger. I am great at meeting other people’s expectations, not as great at meeting my own at times. The way I get around it: I use public accountability and tell other people my goals in order to create outer expectations. It’s probably why I blog about my goals too! It’s all about seeing clearly how you work best, and setting up the structures to make it happen.
This one is a brand new book-baby, but I’ve gobbled it up.
Honestly, learning about this shit has been a life theme for me for a while now. And I’m bloody DELIGHTED that somebody has written about it. It’s made me feel so much less alone in dealing with challenges.
I found it really useful as a base textbook to consider things to be teaching for the year. Good, clear, fluff-free. There’s one for every grade. I’ll definitely be getting the Second Grader one for next year.
So as you know, I just completed a 12 month experiment in network marketing + managed to become the fastest doTERRA business builder in history. It’s been a fun adventure learning a new business model, and I consumed a ginormous stack of books about the industry. Here’s some of the best:
Oh gosh, how can I even say how wonderful this book is?
100 beautifully illustrated profiles of brilliant women throughout history.
We read this over dinner, with a globe out to find the country for each profile, and an iPad and Google Home to do further research (i.e. interviews or songs or poems) from the women my girls are most excited by. We’ve had such a lovely time together going through it.
Ostara is OBSESSIVE about this book (she is 7)… so much so, when we finished it, she said:
“WAAAAA! HOW AM I GOING TO LIIIIIIIIIVE NOW THIS BOOK IS FINISHED?”
It’s been one of the biggest parenting honours + joys of mine to introduce my daughters to my most favourite childhood author. They do however have to intermittently wait as I sob through parts of it though. #sorrynotsorry
I don’t love most magazines, to be honest. I always feel a bit disappointed by them, but I keep trying them again and again in the hope of hitting gold. This one is gold – decent, well-written, thoughtful articles written by people who haven’t had a lobotomy. Gorgeous illustrations, and delicious pull-outs. Hooray!
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the magazine that has been my #1 honey for nearly 20 years (!!!!): Weekend Australian Magazine. Comes free with every edition of the Weekend Australian. Current favourite columnists: Trent Dalton + Nikki Gemmell.
I mostly deep-dived into homeschooling blogs. Some of my favourites:
Two journalists sharing what they are cooking, reading and watching. They make me feel smarter for being in their realm, plus their relationship enters the territory of… what’s the chick version of bromance? Let’s call it fromance. I don’t know. But they are adorable.
Oh MATE. MAAAAAAATE. Hands down one of the best tv shows of recent years. Starts off slow and takes a bit to find its pace… but holy cracker, it grows into something brilliant, funny, philosophical + stunningly smart.
I stopped watching it in Season 4 when Danny + Mindy split up. SPOILER ALERT INCOMING! As soon as I read they were getting back together in the finale, I binge-watched the SHIT out of it. Still as hilarious as ever, with a brilliant ensemble cast. Can’t wait to see what Mindy creates next!
Ill-advised obsession. I usually refuse to watch reality TV dating shows (except for my beloved Farmer Wants a Wife #dontyoujudgemeIgrewuponafarmIcanthelpititmustbegenetic). But I got sucked into this one out of curiosity, then quickly fell down a rabbit hole of obsessively reading the live Twitter stream while it was being broadcast, and then reading all the hilarious blog recaps, and mostly becoming far too emotionally invested in working out who would win. Ask my poor friends, who were subjected to copious amounts of texting while I emotionally processed the situation, and also sent photographs as evidence of body language that indicated the winner. For the record: I was right in my obsessive Rain Man-ing calculations. But upon reflection, it was NOT a great way to spend a month of my life. Just to be clear. Ha!
I should also state: my husband sat with me and watched the whole thing with me. Because: also long-suffering but understanding. He never spoke or judged, just sat and watched sweetly. And at the finale’s end, turned to me and said:
“What the fuck have I just spent the last month watching? What are we DOING with our lives?”
And then we both laughed and laughed and laughed.
I hereby promise myself (and my long-suffering husband and mates) to never commit my life to another Bachelor or Bachelorette season again.
I fell down a planner rabbithole in research with my own planner that I created last year. And when I knew I wasn’t going to continue creating them, I decided to find what I wanted to use for myself going forward.
I landed at Happy Planners because I love being able to easily add pages and cards with a special hole punch. Plus, because it’s a fairly simple design, it means you can pimp the fuck out of it rainbow style with washi tape, photos, collage etc. It’s basically scrapbooking your calendar. There’s accessories galore which can become quite addictive.
I’ve found it useful to lay it out visually each week – it helps me see where I might be overscheduling myself, plus my brain memorises it once I’ve made art about it. Plus, I’ve enjoyed trying out different colour schemes that I wouldn’t try ordinarily… I’ve even done (GASP!) some black and white themed weeks (!!!!!)
Last year I wrote about discovering Youfoodz which delivers fresh readymade meals. That worked really well for us for ages, until we got bored with the meal choices, and fell back into our regular meal habits: my husband cooking very basic meals on some nights, and ordering takeaway other nights. We decided it was time to make a change again, and start cooking and eating healthier at home. Maybe it was from watching cooking shows as our family TV selection! Ha!
Anyways, I decided to try a Marley Spoon box which is recipe cards with the ingredients you need to make it. We’re pretty massive fans… I’ve learned new cooking skills, and we’ve so enjoyed trying new meals. Plus, it’s helping our kids try new foods as well.
I dig that I don’t have to do that painful (to me) task of having to hunt for recipes, making a list of ingredients, then searching for them at the grocery store, and having leftover ingredients afterwards. No food waste and pain-free WOOP!
(Also: I should say, I know I sound like a sponsored ad. As always, it’s not. I’m just a raving fan!)
Recycled boatwood furniture
I think this is more of an inner realisation thing. I finally realised that I should just accept my taste in home furnishings, and not buy anything outside of that taste wherever possible.
What brings me joy is: recycled boatwood furniture. Kind of chunky, weathered furniture made out of old boats (or recycled wood). And that it can be bloody hard to find in furniture stores, but it’s worth the hunt.
When this bookcase arrived and we put it in place, my love noted:
Hey! It matches our artwork collection!
And it totally did. Old wood + turquoise + colours = my style statement.
(Paintings by Janet Lloyd. She builds her frames out of old houses, funnily enough!)
Pro-tip: I found good pieces on VidaXL. Ishka also has them in store as well.
And where would I be without talking about my own favourite ritual to close out a year + set goals for the next.
These have been the rudder + sails of my life for the last 9 years, and I don’t know where I’d be without them. They’ve made a massive difference to me, my life + my business. I’m looking forward to drinking white wine in the sun in the backyard, watching my kids play in the sprinkler, and scribing out my deepest dreams for the year ahead.
Things not going to plan. Things that were going to plan coming with additional clauses of stress.
I decided wallowing in the house wasn’t going to change much, so I thought a walk would be best.
Outside there is movement and sky and a wander up a hill and maybe the chance to see things with a bit of space.
Outside there’s a chapel to talk to God, one I can’t seem to access inside a loud house of family. God sometimes takes her time to lay interventions in my wake so I can’t help but be transformed. Sometimes there is nothing but silence and itchy legs and I wonder why I have been abandoned. But at least I have to go outside and try.
So I laced up my offensively pink walking shoes and set off.
As I reached the end of my driveway, there was an older man walking along, pushing a pram.
He was headed in the same direction in me, and I wondered if I should do the usual city response of a head nod, and brisk walking away to ensure a large circle of personal space and silence.
But I thought: that’s not really my style. I’ve always been a “talk to strangers” kind of person. I’m the kind of person on public transport who will gleefully launch into conversations and make firm friends… then turn to another stranger and invite them into the stranger party. For a while there in my twenties, I was the main instigator of the “Bus 313 Crew” – a motley bunch of 10 or so hitherto unknown public transport strangers who became far too involved in each other’s lives and went to laksa houses for lunch and Irish pubs for dancing.
But then kids happened, and I stopped doing a lot of that spontaneity. And I miss that. I miss that part of myself, and that time of my life where it felt like miracles were around every corner.
So it was a decision that day:
Do the uncommon thing.
So I turned to Man with a Pram. And I smiled. And I talked.
First about the weather (of course), and then about his new grandson (just a few weeks old, a fresh new arrival on the planet). He told me what it was like to be a grandfather for the first time: “I enjoy it this time around. I’m relaxed. I’m glad I can be here for this.”
We start strolling together, with a tiny brand new soul asleep in his nest just before us.
It feels holy to walk beside the brand new ones: we get to glimpse the tender miracle it is to even be here and experience all this.
I ask him about his work, and he tells me he works in disability services. I tell him my brother had cerebral palsy.
And then he asked me how old my brother was.
At which point, I promptly burst into tears.
It was surprising. I didn’t know the tears were so close.
“He passed away 20 years ago,” I I said, gulping through the sobs. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I’m crying. I should be over it by now.”
He was kind, and gentle with me, and we talked about what it was to have a good life – whether it was length or depth.
We crept closer to the pram, to that vivid new light.
Strangers who’d walked just a few hundred metres together, but somehow managed to talk about the big things we forget to share: birth, death, grief still twenty years on.
It was time to take different paths.
He asked me for my name. I asked for his.
That was our goodbye: to know the basic of each other as we’d glimpsed the rare and vulnerable in each other.
I took the shortcut between the houses, strode out along the path between eucalypts, walked up the hill that smelt of Australian summer, walking beneath that bright blue sky, sobbing.
Sometimes grief rolls in like a wave, unannounced.
Sometimes, on walks, I feel held by angels.
I see things which make me believe they’ve placed gifts before me, reassuring me I’m on the right path. And they always seem to be sequenced in threes. Three gifts from the heavens. 1, 2, 3.
It doesn’t happen always, but it happens enough.
That day was one of those times.
First, a feather.
Large and black, glossy with purple.
So large it must be from a swan.
The winged ones are close, I think. The angels.
I lace it through my braid, and walk on.
Up where the path sweeps around the hill, there is a stone.
Black with a distinct white line around it.
The size of my palm, flat and smooth.
I hold it, palm it over and over again.
Gifted twice over by the earth.
This must be one of those three gift days, I think to myself. If there’s more than one, it’s always three.
First a feather, then a rock.
I wonder what next will meet me on the path.
I carried on, down through the paddock, through the narrow gate, tracing my way back down into the suburbs and in to home.
And I keep looking for that third gift.
The gifts always come in threes.
I drop down between the two houses, emerge onto my street.
The angels must have forgotten the third today, I think. It’s a double gift day. Maybe that’s a new thing they are doing.
Either way, I am grateful. It’s been a holy walk.
I never come back from a walk the same person as I left,
Funk gone, wiped clean by tears and kindness, earth and air.
It’s only later that night, sitting back over the day, that I see what was so true all along: