Tavi Gevinson used to do these awesome blog posts which were basically a collage of everything she was thinking about/creating/doing.
And I’ve been thinking I might like to do something similar. See if I enjoy it? See if it resonates?
Because there’s a lot of things piling around in my brain that feel important, maybe not important enough for an individual blog post, but also too important for a social media post.
Perhaps that’s because I think social media is increasingly a waste of time for both creators and readers.
It’s useless for readers who want to stay up to date on their favourite creators because the chances of you seeing what you want to see are next to nothing. And for creators, the chances of your work being seen is again – next to nothing. It’s like saying to a dear friend “Hey! I’ll meet you on Planet Earth!” and then never finding them again… or only by extreme chance, you know?
And I just think our creations and connections and relationships are more important than that bullshit. So I’ll be increasingly putting more energy and time into my mailing list because at least I know you’ll hear from me if you want to. I’ve got a bucketload of free stuff I want to create and give away, so I’ll do it through there.
Anyway, that’s by the by. I’m here. And I want to share. And I want to do it intentionally, and with heart.
Here’s what I’m doing/thinking/creating:
Yep – we’re moving again.
HO HO HO!
But this time! GASP!
We are only moving just down the road, not across the country!!
We are happy living in this region, and our eldest kid is at a school she loves, so we’ll stay around here for a while.
We needed to find a more permanent home as we’re in a smaller place with most of our belongings in storage. We also needed to find a place with potential for a granny flat incase we need to look after one of our ageing parents for a time.
We’ve ended up buying an acreage close by that has a house with an artist’s studio. I am THRILLED to be living back on acreage again. We left our Kuranda acreage four years ago and had no idea it would take us this long to be back on acreage again. But here we are. We’ve had so many adventures in the meantime. And now we get to love it and appreciate the experience even more.
I no longer make promises any more about staying somewhere forever. We will be here for however long it’s right for us to be here. That may be a year or ten years. We will find out by going there!
But one thing I am noticing is how much more love and gratitude I’m feeling towards Mr D. For walking this path with me. For knowing so much of my story. For being that sage counsel when I’m losing my mind.
This month is our 18 year anniversary of finding each other. He’s been by my side for exactly half my life now. It feels like it, in a really lovely way.
I feel like I’m so much better equipped now at loving now, more qualified at understanding him. Our relationship has forced us both to grow and heal and become better humans. We’ve fought a lot, and gone to a relationship counsellor, and unravelled a lot of our family patterns, and worked out a way to form a true partnership with each other.
We will never be perfect – we are splendidly human after all! But I just feel honoured to be the one who gets to love him.
READING PROJECT CURRENTLY ON HOLD
I was going great guns with my project to read all my current books before I buy anymore. I even read 100 books in 100 days!
And now I’m on unexpected hiatus for a bit… I’ve been having lingering headaches and neck problems which is unusual for me. I have no idea if the reading is tied to it, so I’m taking a break to recalibrate to find the cause.
By the time I get back to the reading project, my book collection that’s in storage will be delivered, so my list of unread books will be substantially grown.
It’s been SUCH a bloody great course to do to get my feet wet again.
To be honest, I was feeling really nervous and unsure about what to do next after closing my Academy down after 9 years.
I thought I might need to partner with someone else to create something. But the idea for the book course floated through, and I thought it might be fun. So I caught it, and ran with it.
And it’s ended up being the perfect thing for me for right now.
I am LOVING having a contained experience to walk people through a project. I love the extra levels of accountability I can create. I am loving the engagement. And I’m loving the results… SO MANY people have already finished writing their books and we’re not even at the 40 day mark yet!
It’s thrilling me. It’s definitely given me a whole bunch of confidence and excitement. I am also LOVING using Kajabi as my new course platform. Makes me excited to create MORE THINGS! ALL THE THINGS! ALL THE IDEAS!
I love Ahn’s spirit (and my kids are rabid fans of his books). And I so deeply appreciate the compassionate way he interviews.
Tim’s story was fascinating – he has been this brilliant musical comedian for so many years, and everything he touches turns to gold. Like his award-winning Matilda musical – and his collaborations with orchestras.
And then he kind of went quiet for a while, and I figured he was overseas creating new miracles and continuing being the brilliant success he is.
And he was – he was directing a huge DreamWorks animated musical movie with huge stars involved. He spent four years working on it… only for the project to be cancelled when the company was bought out. He talked about the despair and pain of that time, about wishing he had those four years back to create something else with.
It really struck me you know – this idea of working so hard for something which doesn’t work out. I know Tim will go on to create splendid, insane miracles in other ways. I just wish we all could have gotten to see the outcome of his work.
I hope he takes all that pissed off energy, the sadness and disappointment, and weaves it into a new kind of gold.
And I’m grateful to know that sometimes our creative and business journeys take routes we don’t always want them to go. And that we’ll go on to create something more out of that experience.
As part of the experiment, I decided to not buy more any more books until I read all the ones I currently have. I LOVE buying books… and it turns out, I have a HUGE unread stack of them. I had over 200 unread books at this house… and I have most of my books in storage currently which has SO MANY MORE.
So starting mid-Jan, I decided to really get into the reading spirit, with the hopes I would get through the 200+ unread books I had at hand by the end of the year.
Three months in, I’ve already 100.
This is astonishing – far more than I’ve ever read before. A few years ago I went on a reading binge and read around 250 books – mostly romance novellas. But still – 100 in 100 days in far more than I ever have.
Here’s what I discovered along the way.
Here’s how I did it, and how you can read more:
1: Finishing the books I have has a big pay-off now!
It’s HUGELY motivating to me that I can’t buy any more books until I read what I have.
Buying books is my hobby, dammit. I love poodling about in boutique bookstores. The book sections of Big W are my closest place to heaven. A pleasant evening to me is binge watching Netflix while trawling Book Depository and making a large book order.
So, I can’t indulge in that hobby until I’ve read what I’ve got. So guess what? I REALLY WANT TO READ WHAT I HAVE, STAT.
2: I made my reading goal public to make use of my Obliger tendencies
I’m an Obliger personality – I respond excellently to outside expectations. If I make my goal known outside of myself – whether that’s publicly through my blog, or to an accountability buddy, or my husband, I am FAR more likely to accomplish it.
I’m basically a productivity show pony – I like to perform and get external approval. Sure, it’s a habit that can get out of balance, however it can be powerful when harnessed thoughtfully.
So not only did I state publicly my goal of reading all my current books before buying anymore, I created a public-facing list of them here to tick off as I read them.
I cannot tell you the thrills I have of ticking off that public-facing list. Even if nobody is looking at that list, because it’s public, I am SO motivated to get it done.
3: The more I read, the faster I get
I’m definitely picking up speed as I go. I managed to read two complete books yesterday which is a new record!
4: If a book is shit, I give it up
There’s some books I’ve started, and put aside because I can’t get into it, or don’t like the way it is written. Before this experiment, I would put it back on the shelf and think that maybe one day I would change and like it.
I’ve never had that experience though of finally picking something up and liking it. So this time, I give it 20 pages, and if it’s still shit, it gets put in the out pile.
5: Embrace the skim
Sometimes there are parts of a book which are great… and then there are parts which are tedious or hard to get through. I used to get stuck, and put the book down until I had more energy/put it back in the bookcase.
Now, I give myself total permission to skim parts that would otherwise stop me in my tracks, and start reading more thoroughly again once it picks up.
5: I have a To Gift book pile
Once I read a book, I pop it in a pile near the door of my house, and gift it on. I’ve previously also sold them online + to used bookstores.
I keep piles of books wherever I usually hang out at home – on the couch in front of the TV, in our sitting room, on our breakfast table by my bed. If I head out, I pop a book in my bag just incase I’m bored.
7: I added more reading into my day
There’s a dietary philosophy called swamping: instead of eliminating something from your day, you just add more good things in. They fill you, and you’re less inclined to eat shit.
So instead of trying to radically change or eliminate anything, I started reading using the swamping approach.
I go to bed earlier and read for at least an hour.
I read in the evenings while watching TV.
8: Put your kids to bed earlier
This is the best parenting and life advice I have for you, honestly.
Studies show that our kids are getting WAY less sleep than they did a generation ago, and this is causing huge issues in terms of mood, memory, intellectual capacity and long term health problems. (Adults are too, by the way. GET MORE SLEEP!)
They are also getting way less free time, which is important not just for cognitive development, but spiritually and emotionally as well. Kids need to be able to experience the gift of their own energy and learning to follow their own instincts and intuition.
We solve both those issues with one simple habit: we put our kids to bed EARLY.
My kids are currently 9 and 5, and they get ready for bed at 6:30, I read to them for 30 minutes or so, and they are in bed by 7.
They don’t have to go to sleep then. They can stay up to read, draw, play quietly or listen to audiobooks. They do NOT get access to screens. It’s time to either rest, restore and enjoy their own company.
Of course, we’re not crazy Victorian about it: they can still leave their bedrooms to go to the bathroom, get water, or come out for another hug.
But they know that night time is time to retreat into their inner worlds.
And what do adults do?
We PARTAY LIKE ITS 1956. Make cocktails, embrace orgy life, take cocaine.
And by that, I mean:
We watch Netflix, and I multitask by either journalling, creating, reading or working while we watch. I rarely want to watch something by being fully immersed in it.
Our evenings are super relaxed. Then we head to bed around 9, and I read for an hour or more.
I’ve had friends visit, discover the loveliness of Early Bedtimes, and gone home to institute the same thing with their teenagers. They’ve had a family meeting, talked about the benefits and why they were doing it, and their teens now go to their rooms at 7:30 for Chill Time.
Not only is it HUGELY amazing for your own sanity… but it is massively beneficial for your kids on every level too!
You will thank me for this more than anything else.
9: Book Baths Are A Sport
Most weekend afternoons you’ll find me taking impossibly long baths with a book. If I’m feeling stressed or sore, I’ll take even more. I usually read for about 2 hours or more.
My kids occasionally wander in to see what I’m up to, or to let me know they are hungry or bored. This is where I practice Benevolent Neglect – an excellent parenting practice to help my children foster important life skills. I remind them to get themselves food from the kitchen if they are hungry, and that I can assign them chores if they are bored.
They rarely interrupt now, and just tend to themselves.
I also think I am modelling TWO excellent things to my children:
They are seeing their mother undertake self care. This is SO BLOODY IMPORTANT. They won’t see a martyr. They will see a woman who is tending to her own needs. That will be a soul lesson they will carry through their lives.
They see just how adored books are. That they are a phenomenal source of education and entertainment.
So… BOOK BATH ON, WOMEN + MOTHERS!
10: Momentum creates momentum
I say this alllllllll the fucking time, and the same is true for reading books too.
The more books I read, and the more I tick off my list, the more energy I have to do MORE.
When you FINISH something, you get a surge of energy, pride and satisfaction, which keeps you rolling onto the next book.
Just start. And finish. Even if it means skimming and skipping parts that don’t resonate with you.
11: Reading heals + enlightens you
Honestly, undertaking such a large reading project has been the best decision I’ve made in YEARS. I have learned SO SO MUCH. I have been healed, enlightened and educated so profoundly. Somehow, these books have acted together in synchronicity to give me what I need at just the right time.
It’s renewed my confidence, faith and charged up my business brain once more. I can’t even emphasise enough how much it has affected me.
I started this one years ago, and only completed it thanks to the challenge. It’s one of those books that is so simple and powerful that can take a while to read because it has so many nuggets of wisdom in it.
It’s for business owners and entrepreneur who want to harness their own strengths, and execute marketing in a way that works for them. It’s an anti-hustle book, which I love. And a pro-intentional productivity book, which is right up my ally.
I’m continuing my tradition of reading graphic memoirs to develop more understanding of other people’s lived experiences (racism, sexism, abusive families, war, sexuality etc). I didn’t feel like I understood enough about the polyamorous community, so I read this one. It was a beautiful read, and I’m grateful to Sophie for allowing us this glimpse into her life.
Maybe this is because of the stage of life I’m in, but I dig a book that’s about going through the hard stuff instead of just attracting only the good stuff.
This is the story of how Starbucks totally fucked up a bunch of things, and had to fix their company from the inside out.
It’s starkly honest and brilliant. It was a thrilling read.
I went through a stage a few years ago where I felt like my company was going in a direction I didn’t want it to be. I had to fight for it, and make so many changes to align it again. And it’s back to being exactly what I know it is supposed to be, but gosh it was hard to go through.
I feel grateful knowing that others go through similar phases, and come out the other side too.
A beautifully written memoir of a dude who works in mental health who suddenly finds himself experiencing psychosis, admitted to a mental institution. It’s tragic and funny and soaked with love all at once. And I think it’s such a wonderful way to understand bipolar disorder even more.
DDT has been a mate of mine for a fair whack of time now, and she’s continued to astound me with her wisdom, grace and integrity. She is someone who walks her talk completely, and has so much gold to share. Highly recommend, along with her other two books as well!
When I was 18, I lived in Malaysia for a few months. I stayed in a Buddhist household, and the host mother would teach me about her faith and rituals. She taught me:
Buddhism isn’t a religion. It is an education for the mind. It can co-exist with other religions. It is about learning how to deal with the suffering of being a human.
Malaysia was a blooming magical experience and taught me so much. And her words held up for me over the years. As I’ve become more and more human, as more and more suffering arises, I turn back to Buddhist teachings again and again. To educate my mind.
Today, let’s talk about how to deal with the fear of failure when creating.
When it comes to writing, you might find yourself spending a lot of time THINKING about writing, AVOIDING writing, TALKING about writing and feeling BLOCKED when finally sitting down to actually write.
See how time consuming it is already… and there’s STILL no writing being done?
After working with thousands of creatives over the last 15 years or so, I know that one of the biggest reasons for avoiding creativity is that we are being held hostage by fear.
The act of creating can bring up so many fears:
“Who am I to write this book?”
“Can I REALLY do this?”
“I don’t have anything original to say!”
“What if it’s terrible? What if I try my hardest and it isn’t good enough?”
“What will my parents/partner/children/friends/business colleagues think? What if they think I am untalented or ridiculous? What if they roll their eyes at my book?”
“I’m not an expert! I’m an imposter and this book will be evidence of that!”
“What if this hurts or negatively affects any of my family/friends?”
“There are so many other things I should be doing instead of creating. I’m a terrible person/wife/mother if I spend my time writing instead of taking care of other people!”
“I do NOT have time to write. There’s no way I can fit this in!”
And on and on and on…
The excuses seem endless. The fears seem insurmountable.
NO FREAKING WONDER IT TAKES SO LONG TO WRITE A BOOK!
But here’s the thing:
Writing a book actually doesn’t TAKE that long.
The actual writing process can be pretty fast when you’re not spending your time dicking about with fears. It’s why I’ve been able to write books in a month in a couple of hours a day.
So let’s talk about how to get rid of the fear so you can actually get to writing!
Here’s some practical ways to get your fears to shush it so you can become hugely more productive and actually get your book DONE.
#1: Give your fear another job to do.
Write it a letter.
“Possum, I get it. You are trying to keep me safe. I so appreciate how much you care about me. However, you’re not helping me in doing the thing I need and want to do right now. Instead, can you please help by doing this VERY IMPORTANT JOB i.e. guarding my writing time/using my subconscious powers to find the answer to world peace/whispering love songs to my cells as I work. Thank you so much darling. Let’s go make miracles together.”
For example, when I wrote the 40,000 word compendium that became my Double Your Biz e-course, I set myself a month to do it.
#3: Give yourself even smaller, sharper daily deadlines in a compressed writing period.
That deadline for my Double Your Biz compendium? My daily goal became very simple: write 3,000 words before sunset. I was sick with hyperemesis gravidarum, and had a short window in the afternoon where I could sit upright. By the time the sunset, I would be ill again. So I needed to write as much as I could in that short time window.
You don’t have to be ill to do the same however. If I was doing it again now, I would set aside 1-2 hours a day with a word limit to have reached.
#4: Fuck the distractions.
I use a Self Control app on my computer to stop me from me being able to access time wasting websites while I’m working. Facebook, Youtube, Buzzfeed, gossip websites are what I tend to find myself visiting when I am avoiding doing something. Using an external boundary to prevent me is a massive time saver. I also don’t keep my phone in my office to prevent the Instagram scroll from happening.
Tell someone – or as many people as you can – that you are writing a book, you want to write # of words and that the deadline is _________. It’s incredibly motivating, and I always get that much more done when I know I’m being watched!
I have a friend who wants to write more poetry. She asked me to be her writing accountability partner. I agreed, and asked her to define what success looked like. Writing more poetry is a really vague goal, and you won’t know if you are being successful at it or not. She had a think and decided her goal was to write poetry for 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Which was awesome – it was something I could hold her accountable to, and it was a very real, concrete action she could take and know she was completing her intention.
#6: Remember it is NOT your job to second guess yourself. Your job is to create.
I deeply believe that our stories need to be heard. That the things that are inside us – our journey, our experience, our wisdom, our gold – are great gifts that are needed in the world. Our stories can heal us as we write them, and they can heal others when they read them.
I believe that when you have an idea for a book, it is a divinely ordained request from the angels. They know that this creation is needed in order to help and heal the world. And so they plant the seed with you, in the hope you will birth it into the world.
With this kind of divine ordinance at play, who are we NOT to create? When the world needs the soul gold that lives inside us, who are we to ignore that mission?
Example Time: This is not about a book. But this is about a divine writing mission.
A few months ago, I had a strange feeling. I knew I was supposed to be writing a letter to someone I barely knew. I knew this person was going through a very difficult time. And I kept having this feeling that if I just opened up a page, and wrote to him, there would be things to say.
I had fears of course: What is this person going to think? Is it going to be the right message? Will I offend their religious beliefs by sharing the message I could hear? And who am I to do this?
But I knew I needed to nonetheless. The angels have blessed me again and again. They have given me so truth and wisdom and creative ideas that have healed me time and time again. Who am I to ignore them on this?
I should say here: I am NOT someone who hears the angels constantly. I only hear them clearly when I am writing. I can take dictation from them. I can occasionally hear them outside of writing – like in a sacred women’s circle, in dreams or in nature. They also came with my daughters’ spirits when both of them wished to be conceived. But that’s by the by. I just wanted to say – I wouldn’t regard myself as being super intuitive, or someone who talks to angels everyday. Reading back over this though, I definitely sound like a MASSIVE HIPPY however. Bahahahaha!
Anyways, the angels had given me a mission. And EVEN THOUGH I was scared, EVEN THOUGH I was not sure how it would be received… I knew I needed to do my job, and turn up, and respond to that divine calling.
I did. I wrote it, sent it, and gave it up to the world. I’d done my job. That was all that was needed.
I got a long email today, months after my mission missive message. It was a beautiful thing, coming full circle. He wrote to tell me what a bad place he had been when he’d received my email, and how my writing him had felt like God was speaking to him, reminding him that he was loved. That it was a touchstone for his healing.
And it was such a blessing, of course, to know that the mission I’d been given had worked as intended. But even if I hadn’t heard from him and hadn’t known the effect it would have, I still would have done the right thing.
The right thing is to create. The right thing is to heed the call of your creative soul and the call of the angels. The feeling you receive from doing it is indescribable. It is the closest to transcendence I have ever come.
The World Needs Us.
It’s time to get out of our own way, and get on with our all important mission.
We need to write our way to our own healing… and let those words free into the world to heal others too.
Fuck the fears. There is too much beauty waiting for us out the other side.