CHAPTER 89: THE STRUGGLE ENDS WHEN THE GRATITUDE BEGINS

I’ve yearned to write a new post the past few days.  The struggle is getting real, the hurdles aplenty and the pain bodies continue to call out my ego despite my efforts to muffle them.  But it is not in my being to write another post about the strain.  I will not feed it or humour it, I will not give in to the easy route.  On the occasions that my mind is still, I am reminded that the overwhelming driver of the past three months has been a place of peace.

There has been a new baseline of living.  Completely separate from the physical realms of things like financial wellbeing, my overall presence has been, well; better.  I am conscious not to use the word ‘happier’ because I don’t think it’s accurate.  Happiness is a state that I aspire to as much as the next person but it is just that; a conscious awareness of such.  This place I have been spending more time in is different because it occurs mostly unbeknownst.

In this place of unconsciousness, of being, I have been free.  Free to breathe deeper breaths.  To sleep in a few more minutes after a restless night. To read pages of a random book.  To take in the colours and smells and sounds of my neighbourhood.  To take longer showers.  To sometimes, not shower at all.  To eat less.  To feel the sunshine on my body more.  To undertake an intense period of learning.  To make mistakes and have the space to understand how not to make them again.  To cook a meal.  To do laundry and vacuum and dust – and enjoy it!

IMG_1458

Literally a picture of me studying in the sun last week.

Surprisingly, and perhaps to the concern of my therapist, I have thoroughly enjoyed the absence of routine.  It’s a double edge sword because I know routine keeps me at my ‘most polished’.  But, for the most part, I have really loved – not being polished.  There will come a time when the pendulum must find an equilibrium but until then – it’s a natural-faced, messy bun, Birkenstocks; kind of life.  Which is quite freeing in itself.  There is a good reason why Obama and that-Facebook-guy wear the same thing every day.   It’s so their decision-making muscle is reserved for more important things throughout their waking hours.  How great is this.  What an effortless way to contribute to stemming fast-fashion.  Minimalism at its’ best.

So you know, after my loose morning routine, I start proceedings by working on the things that I feel most closely to that day.  Deadlines influence, as does weather, and funds – but besides that, the day’s to-do-list is what I make of it.  My life has slowed, dramatically.  There is no rushing or missing out or clashes.  I was even early for a meetup with friends the other day; I had to call my husband to share the moment.  I now look at events on weekday evenings, and consider them instead of instant dismissal.  It has opened up this whole other world of activity.  None of which is obligatory.  So I attend some and not others.  It is no big issue.  But it is fulfilling.  Like I am seeing more of my city and its possibilities.  Feeding more time into my interests.  Even the insignificant ones.  Like visual feasting on Pinterest.  Or wasting time but not mind on suduko and arrowwords.

I am grateful for the people in my life.  They provide support and understanding, friendship, growth, and fun.  There are those whom without their presence; the journey of life, would not be so enjoyable.  There is an ease that is unexplainable.  It provides an unconscious inner comfort that could never be brought or inorganically manifested.  And for reasons I am yet to understand, our communication stays active despite my conscious fear of answering the friendship phone (yep, sprung).  They fill in the gaps that I create and our time together is none the wiser when we are in each other’s presence.  They make life worth living and I couldn’t recommend a better bunch of people to any soul in search for a soothing song.

IMG_0323

Who could not love this mad bunch?!

Which brings me to the Unicorn.  I find this one the most difficult to describe because our time together has provided a somewhat rebirth for me.  Combined with the long and hard hours I spent bettering myself prior, it was by the grace of the universe, that this human and I were brought together after many years of distant acquaintance.  This was to both of our surprise. And once seen, it could not be unseen.  So, it was with dreamy hearts that we began our journey together.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that, for the most part, we have spent the last six and a half years together being very stupidly, madly and happily in love.  Do we have a secret?  Is there such a thing?  I think it helps to marry someone open-minded who loves you more than you love them – both ways.  Together your selflessness will continue to burn bright no matter how big the hurdles that make tracks in front of you.

But it is not without reason that I have left the big picture till last.  Sometimes I forget it’s significance and importance but mainly, it’s presence never leaves my side.  It is my purpose.  My ikigai.  My reason for being.  I am grateful that this current time in my life is an uncomfortable push.  A shove.  A hard boot up the ass.  To find a closer pathway that is my calling.  It is in the discomfort of the past few months that I have had to dig deeper and continue to unearth the new road on this lifelong journey.  It has twisted and contorted.  Sometimes feeling ugly and uncomfortable, it has risen again shedding the heaviness and beholding bigger and better places of beauty.  It is through this process that I have come to lose a few balls, a few marbles and a few unstable paths.  But all for reason.

So as I continue to search for that role that fits like a glove, I push on with my side projects and passions which may inevitably be that match.  I am not in control of very much these days but I do have assets.  And seeing as I cannot seem to get rid of them (despite my best efforts in some cases), it is time to take my lemons and make the best damn limoncello that this town has ever seen.  I am literally in the process of selling all the old shitty furniture in my apartment and swinging in some jazzy new stuff (thanks interest-free).  I am turning this unused, light filled, open-aired hunk of a space into my next chapter.  Insert ‘Ontwerp Huis’.

Meaning ‘design house’ in Dutch, this space in inner city Melbourne, will become the new permanent home to eight designers or ‘ontwerpers’ as they will be known.  I really do love working from home but feck me, it can get lonely, boring, isolating, distracting and on some days – a little bit loco!  What I truly miss about the corporate world is a team to bounce ideas off, to share the lows and celebrate the highs with.  I’m not gonna lie, I’ve already brought the Friday-night-drinks trolley – it’s the tits.  This permanent workspace won’t be like any others you’ve heard of or been too.  For it would be remiss of me to open a workspace that reverted to the old rules of the game.  Practice what you preach, right?

beckett-bar-cart-c

Ok, so maybe not this fancy – but close!

A governing set of ‘Huis Principes’ will guide the family.  Productivity is king and the pomodoro technique will be a daily fixture.  The office will be paper-free for the most part, coffee will be offsite, and the biggest advancement is that we will only be open 4 days a week.  Because progress. For you; the individual, the business owner, the entrepreneur, the ontwerper.  And for society; your families, your friendships, and your community.  It is a forced day out of the office and into your clients world, your places of inspiration, your home without weekenders or your ‘third space’ – a café or library or local place that completes your (scientifically proven) productive triangle.

Holy crap, that feels good to share.  Like the rest of my life, the website is ‘under construction’ but I will share the love as soon as it’s complete.  In the meantime, if you know any absolute-fucking-legends (no more, no less) who own their own business, are designers, or entrepreneurs, or just need to work outside of their corporate office a bit more (but still get shit done) – then please send me a message, text me, or call me (I’ll pick up, promise).  I’m looking for an all-star cast; no egos, no bullshit, such a bunch of rippers looking to shred through their own next chapters in epic form.  Introverts, extroverts, feelers, thinkers, black, white, LGBTQFD, whatever the fuck you are – if you are someone who works hard, respects the people and places that surround you, and doesn’t mind a cheeky Friday night vino – then,  this one’s for you kid!

Yours in eternal gratitude,
Zig B x

CHAPTER 77: A REAL DOOZY (EXPLETIVES NOT DELETED)

I’m having an off day.  A real doozy.  One of those ones that I should really keep to myself.  But if you want vulnerability; give vulnerability – right?  I’m going to say that it began last night but realistically it’s probably been brewing for a while.  Heck, it’s probably being brewing my whole life if you ask any good expert.  Anyway, let’s move on to introductions.  I was hoping that you guys wouldn’t meet but he’s resurfaced again and the timing is really bloody inconvenient.  I’m hoping that by getting it out in the open, he might – well, fuck off.  I have an important and unfinished Masters assignment that is currently sitting open and staring blankly at me.  It understands the notion of timing and has advised that there is exactly 55 hours left until it gets handed in regardless of my doozy or old friend…so here goes.

Meet Chip.  He’s a real asshole.  He hasn’t been around for a while but at some points in my life, he was around for too long.  He likes to sit on my shoulder and weigh me down heavily.  He points out how hard done by I am, how hard life is and how unlucky I’ve been.  He used to visit often but I figured him out a while back and told him to hit the road.  He did.  But occasionally he comes back to visit.  Sometimes I don’t mind his company in small doses.  He props himself up on my shoulder and begins whispering his views about the world.  Always without solution.  What a drainer.  Nonetheless I let him go if he doesn’t pipe up too much.  You know; acknowledge, move on, don’t cause too much of a scene.  He’s not that bad really but every time he pays me a visit in recent years, he puts out an open invite to his other annoying mates.  Many of whom, I am not cool with.

He has this one friend we’ve spoken about before – Imposter, who I just can’t seem to shake.  As Chips visits die down, Imposter’s seem to be on the rise.  How is this possible?  If you’re leaving – take your friend’s with you.  Yes, friend’s – plural.  Let’s just say, no trio would be complete without a polar opposite to balance out the torment.  This friend is like a Tornado; overtly confident, recklessly passionate and full of beans.  He/she enters the room with full force and no matter how much I duck or weave; it is inevitable that we will collide.  During this time I am overcome by false greatness.  I don’t aim for the moon and reach the stars; I aim for the Milky Way and end up in another parallel fucking universe.  Here, my disillusionment is completely normal, reinforcing a wake of unbelievable beliefs.

What the fuck am I saying.

pexels-photo-29813 (2)

Ok.  So you know that I am in a ‘transition period’ currently.  What a gross combination of words.  I’m having a ‘life pivot’, a ‘nervous breakthrough’, a ‘period of not achieving on a societal score board’.   I am proudly full steam ahead with the bigger picture goals; storytelling, boutique accommodation plans (another day), completing of a post-graduate degree, perhaps even opening a new coworking space…but.  Inevitably, the short-term has caught up with me and the freight train that is financial responsibilities is steaming ahead with no signs of slowing.  Perhaps I’m exaggerating, apologies.  But you know, Chip is in town, and he has this effect.  So anyway, the artistic freedom and joy that I am currently moving through must be balanced with actual paying work, stat.  But I am obsessing and stalling and over thinking and fretting like a mutha fucker.  Some days I spent hours and hours fixating on job sites.  No industry categories, just a few geographical and time sensitive filters.  So I am scouring like five or six sites daily, scrolling through hundreds of options.  I know what you’re thinking – fucking refine!!  But I don’t want to.  I don’t want to be limited to one industry or one job type.  I want to be open to a completely new chapter.  One that I am passionate about.  I don’t want to waste any more of my life being underemployed.  It served its purpose but my heart cannot take it anymore.  I’m not being picky.  I’m being purposeful.  So far, it’s been disastrous.  Just to be clear, I am very aware of the three types of roles that are open to us all.  I could get…

A job – it might be on the pathway to a career or vocation but generally, you are paid for your time rather than your skills.  Oh my gosh.  That hurts to write.  I know this one too well.  I even managed to climb the ‘job ranks’ and get paid reasonably well which kept the self-perpetuating cycle of staying in the ‘job’ drawn out even longer.

A career – requires much more time commitment either through qualifications or on the job training.  The longer you spend specialising in a specific area; the more likely you are to have greater responsibilities and pay.  I think this is where I have fucked up majorly.  Yet it could never have been any other way.  I spent so much time doing job’s that I didn’t love – that I ended up making a career out of an occupation that I have zero fucking interest in.  Ouch.

A vocation – working ‘mecca’ if you will.  A position that brings immense satisfaction.  A calling, a lifelong partnership, fulfilment, purpose, meaning.  They say that a lot of the time, these ‘vocations’ are selfless works.  People helping people, people helping animals, people helping the environment.  You may be familiar with one of these if it applies to you.  A vocation has also been described as the innate ability in an individual towards a particular occupation.  I like that definition.

pexels-photo-51187

So this makes it easy then; stop being so fussy and find a job that pays the bills asap?  Bzzzzz wrong.  I just can’t.  I have this blockage.  I literally cannot apply for something that I don’t believe in, not even at a ‘job’ level.  I have to have some sort of appetite for the product or the brand or the role.  But that can be something as simple as pouring delicious, craft beers – in this regards, I really am-not fussy.  I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, picking or packing, pouring or storing.  I’m not looking for a ‘sexy’ job (though there could be some cash in that field hehe).  I am open to stumbling across a job, career, or vocation.  But as I want to keep my entrepreneurial snowballs rolling, I consciously made the decision not to look for or apply to any ‘jobs’ or ‘careers’ that weren’t part-time.  Like we’ve discussed; a part time role will offer structure and financial benefits but without wholly consuming my entire life and energy sources.

But I do have exceptions.  Of course, life is uncertain so a healthy level of flexibility is a must.  If a ‘vocation’ role was to come up; of course, I would throw my invisible rule book out the window.  So let’s just say that a week ago, one did.  It snuck into my part-time filter and blew me away with the best role description I’ve ever seen.  It was perfect.  An aspirational role that I felt fully and wholly capable of blowing out of the park.  I wanted to be the best goddamn *insert role title* that the industry had ever seen.  And I would have been.  I would have set new benchmarks, led with great esteem, and helped grow this unbelievable social SME into a global powerhouse.

Except for one problem.  I didn’t even get to interview stage.  Huh?  Well on paper, it looks like I have zero fucking experience in this field.  And doggone, I think they’re right.  I don’t.  So why the fuck did I apply?  Because I have the soft skills to slay this role.  I have a robust emotional vocabulary.  I have an insatiable curiosity about people.  Why do you think I am doing a Master of Marketing?  Not because I believe I can be the best advertiser or researcher or communicator the world has ever seen.  But because I am fascinated with human behaviour and decision-making and the power of brands to influence.  I am doing an intensive post grad degree so that I have options to continue my studies further down the track in my passion areas of psychology, sociology, anthropology and philosophy.

I know my strengths and weaknesses.  And I am crystal clear on the trough that is – my resume.  I understand that I have a wealth of experience across a spectrum of impressive areas, few of which match up to my current passions or future aspirations.  I am vulnerable (see above text).  I think I am a good judge of character and continually improving as the years go on.  I see people blindly regardless of their physicality’s or specs on paper.  I see their motivations and desires.  Their behaviours when everyone is watching and especially when everyone is not.  I take a complete 360 view of each individual before I begin to draw a picture of them.  I love pushing them to greatness; ironing out creases, jumping hurdles alongside them, offering a hand up to the podium, and clapping loudly when they are rewarded for effort.

I get results.  But I haven’t been measuring.  It’s inauthentic to me.  But it comes at a cost.  I am now unable to leverage these occurrences for my own future growth.  If one where to look over my job titles, they would rightfully not see the coaching, the hard conversations, the strategic influence, the deep relationships, the radical inclusion or the benefit I have brought to the teams I have worked in.  Get them to be my references?  It’s not that easy.  For deep, authentic work often goes on behind the scenes, inside and outside of workplaces.  It is a powerful yet subtle occurrence.  It is unseen though heavily impactful.  It is fulfilling for both the giver and the receiver.

pexels-photo-102614

So what now?  I applied for a job that I have the skills to do but not the qualifications or experience for and I didn’t even get close.  I’m not going to lie, it stings.  But I get why.  But it still stings.  Ok.  So I needed to get this all out so that I can get my head back in the game.  I need Chip, the Imposter, and that overly confident (or delusional) Tornado to fuck off so I can regroup with what I’ve got and move forward.  Because that is the biggest risk.  Not in applying for jobs, careers or vocations that are beyond my paper limits, but in getting caught up in the expected and unexpected results when things don’t go my way.  Pick yourself up, dust yourself and move fucking forward.  Chip is heavy when I’m still but he can barely hold on when I’m moving forward. Weeeeeeeeeeee.

I’m trying to be patient.  There is a universal plan with my name on it and with some level of hope, these setbacks are all a part of it.  That dream role would have taking me away from my storytelling and maybe my storytelling is going to be a bigger part of the picture than I realise?  Goddamn it storytelling, why can’t you be more provocative?!  Dance for the people, make them realise how important you are to the world even though you aren’t all colourful and flashy.  Your slow gratification is fulfilling but they’re looking for a quick fix.  And help pay some of my bills while you’re at it.  I’m giving you my time and abilities, will there come a day when you give me more than mental and artistic progression?  Why isn’t there more ‘writers in residence’?  Is that even a thing?  How unsexy.  Imagine that; boutique hotel has scribbles of paper all over the walls, writer sits in a glass room scrawling pointless ramblings down at a rate of knots whilst people watch on and try to disseminate the quiet, incoherent mumblings.

Lordy.  2000 words and I’m still not sure I can get back to my assignment.  It’s going to be a long few days.  Maybe I need to take this website off my resume??  Eep!!

Zig x

Chapter 54: Decision Time

The strangest thing about not working is being accountable to yourself.  There is no one to answer to.  No one to instruct you, guide you, discipline you.  It is a huge lesson in self accountability which sits strangely alongside a stream of honour.  It is an honour to live your life freely.  To immerse oneself in the human-ness of being.  To feel the ups and downs in all their rawness and to not be shrouded in modern-day ailments such as tiredness, busyness or exhaustion.  This freedom is as exciting as it is terrifying.  With all this head space, more questions arise than answers.  What does my perfect day look like?  What do I actually want to spend my time doing?  It’s as if all the hopes and dreams that made up your escape plan changed form.  Suddenly, and without notice, you are engaged in a game of Guess Who – except the faces are your future plans.  It is on this board game that you are presented with a number of turn offs.  It seems like more than before but really these options have always been there.  It is your perception that has changed.  In taking off the corporate cloak, the comfort and familiarity that once clouded your view has disappeared, leaving a clear runway awaiting your next move.

img_0318

So what are these options, you may be wondering?  Well let’s start with the most obvious and socially acceptable one – go back to corporate.  Head back to the grind, the office, the desk job, the emotionally contained, the safe, the well paid, the Monday to Friday, high pressure, high performance , instantly rewarding; 9 to 5.  The obvious drawcard is the financial security, followed loosely by the structure and sense of leading with direction.  Management set tasks; I complete tasks; I am rewarded with a sense of achievement.  I’ve been amazed to find how much I miss this fickle sense of accomplishment.  Tied to it were my hours, my energy, my effort, my time away from the things I loved, and time away from my human-ness.  When you put it like that, it makes complete sense that I wrapped up a sizeable portion of my self-worth in these endeavours. Though, too often I would think about the worthiness of it on a larger scale.  Am I actually any good at this work and is there opportunity for growth?  Am I passionate about this, do I really love the tasks?  And then the ever-growing elephant in the room; is what I am doing contributing to the greater good in the world?  I can tell you now, often the answer to these was a resounding ‘no’.

The next option was a ‘think-less’ job.  A few shifts per week, non-corporate, low stress, low responsibility.  A ‘job’ rather than a ‘career’ type role.  It has merits.  The obvious one, again, being dollars in the bank (though perhaps not so many as the prior option).  But the flexibility of its unstructured nature would allow some level of breathing space to commit to other more purposeful side projects.  Depending on the field, this job has the potential to bring…joy!  Maybe even fun, connection, and who knows what other invaluable qualities.  But herein may lie a self-placed-trap.  This option may provide a outlet to hide away from progress and moving forward.  A cozy, noncommittal option to waste precious resources such as time and talent.

Which brings me to my next option and the one many of you have been waiting for or perhaps expecting; the passionate entrepreneur.  There I’d go – skipping down the road, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  With a suitcase full of big and bold ideas and a taut stomach ready for the onslaught of start-up punishment.  My heavy head appears tilted as the depleted left brain is outweighed by the right; drowned in a sea of failures, pivots and empty pay cheques.  It is a continual dig into an endless mine of possibilities.  Lump of coal after dirty, filthy; lump of coal.  We fill the lorry in the hope that one of these days that big shiny diamond will appear and make this often thankless expedition all worth it.  This lifestyle is a volatile one.  A mix of hard work, finding the right people, and an unwavering commitment to solving the worlds biggest and most immediate problems.  I am reminded of the sizeable amount of personal effort this option requires.

Which brings me closer to the option with the least amount of strain.  It is none of the above.  For me, anyway.  It is the last and final option and questionably the most confronting.  And no, it is not the dole line, albeit tempting.  This option is financially unstable.  Structurally insecure.  It is not guided or managed.  There are no VCs dying to invest and there are no key performance indicators providing clear metrics.  There is  no immediate reward or socially acceptable management structure holding me to account.  There will be no reward or disciple depending on my outcomes.  Yet somehow, there are still be a number of pro’s.  There will be a strong need in this pathway to continue to self-structure, lead and hold oneself accountable.  It is comical that as a highly functioning species, this self-regulating option is such a foreign one.  It’s as if we have been taught to colour in the lines but can only do so when being supervised.

IMG_0696.JPG

You’re still not catching what I’m throwing, are you?  I get it.  I sound cryptic.  It is time for the big reveal and I am being coy, stalling almost.  Perhaps I am afraid of what you’ll think.  Or afraid of my own harsh judgements, of the reality of the situation.  Because even as I try to put into words what this fourth option entails; I, myself, struggle to find the right title.  The right explanation.  The right position description for a role that really does not have one.  As I boxed myself into my former roles, it was easy to provide a title.  Manager, Coordinator, Co-Founder.  Though the titles rarely described the actions undertaken, they did allow you to form some sort of image in your mind.

But this last option, potentially my most purposeful prospect yet, is well….beyond titles.  It is not within a scope or confined to a few sheets of A4 paper.  Yet I must try to translate  but a section of its capacity if I’m to bring closure to your wondering minds and bring hope to my ailing heart.   So here goes.  From one angle, I guess you could describe my new purpose as a STORYTELLER.  You may think of it as a writer, an author, a sharer, a thinker, a philosopher, a different perspective, a teacher, a word sleuth.  From another angle, it will take form as a PRESENTER; a visual communicator, a mass media patron, an appealer to those that will listen and an interest piquer for those who may not.

For I have come to understand that my well wishes to teach a good few may not be as fruitful as the capacity of scale that is held within film, video, audio and the written word.  If successful, our messages have the potential to reach the unreachable.  The moving image is downloadable, transferable, scalable, discussable, and most importantly, thinkable.  I have avoided being seen for long enough but I no longer care for my ego ruling my life decisions.  I will park the fears of judgement, the appearance issues, the anxiety beast, and the kicking and screaming ego to one side as I focus on getting across the right message to the right people.  I want to continue on the “ikigai” journey and scour the globe for those meaningful stories that bring us all hope.  What are the most resounding reasons-for-being and what gets people out of bed, happily, in the morning?

CypYWc6VEAUOBEH

See I told you it would be complex.  But I believe in your capability to think laterally.  And I am beginning to believe in myself.  That my purpose is to guide and connect.  To bring people together and to highlight our commonalities and humanness.  Though they do not come regularly, my words come freely and I hope they provide some thought provocation for those patient enough to stop by.  But it is truly the verbal expression where the greatest impact lies.  Discussion, conversation, facilitation.  The face to face immersion in all its non-verbal glory patiently awaits these stories to be told.

I’ll be sure to get something on the side to pay the bills because well…LIFE (the house didn’t sell)…but hey, what’s it all for if not for trying.  So I’ll film a few pilots.  Write a few stories.  Interview a few wise and weird folks.  I’ll give this unforeseen pathway a chance to breathe and see if we can grow it into something tremendous.  It might be a slow burn or perhaps alight much quicker but either way, at least it’ll be enjoyable.  Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life – right?

ZB x

Chapter 31: A New Dream

And so it came to pass, that the aspirational lifestyle no longer served its purpose.  It was time to move on.  To regroup together as mind, body and soul – and ask ourselves what was giving us energy and what was draining us so.  Together we twisted and contorted, turned left and then right.  We got angry and frustrated.  We got depressed and empty. We did our very best to squeeze our square little selves into the roundest of round holes.  Although the roles began as somewhat fulfilling, the long-term sticking point came from the people.  There were laughs and banter.  A collective common as we fought to utilise our greatest strengths and squash the bits that strayed outside of the lines.  We rode the highs together and we bonded strongly during the lows.  We flowed together as a pool of conflicting personalities – all heading in the same direction but crashing and rebuilding through our own personal rapids.  We worked hard, we were accountable.  There was a pride in our work, our product.  There was an openness of speech and humility in response.  There were people driven by ego and there were lots that were not.  I enjoyed it for the most part but it was time for growth, autonomy and new connections.  It was time for the next chapter.

I never wanted to work in “corporate” growing up.  I never dreamt that I would spend 5 days a week sitting on my ass in front of a machine that would dominate my every waking hour.  I never dreamt that life would become a chore – a never-ending day of the same routine.  Wake up tired, drag myself to some sort of physical activity, transit amongst other sick and depressed looking people, work passionately and longingly to build someone else’s dream – usually Shareholders of some sort – go home exhausted, not effectively communicate with my husband, drown out the pain with low functioning TV or aspirational personal work till the wee hours, toss and turn through the night with ghosts of lives past, rinse, cycle, repeat.
 
God.  When you put it like that, it’s a wonder I ever made it out of bed at all.  And to be honest, most days I barely did.  I was a walking zombie.  One for whom coffee was not an option.  I couldn’t even drug myself to function on the required level.  So one day I decided to sleep when I could, in the morning.  And so I started a bit later and my productivity levels and serotonin drastically lifted.  Once I got past the judging looks of those early risers and at worse, my own inner demons – I didn’t look back.  Feeling more balanced that I had in years.  It was a credit to my final managers that this change in routine was never questioned.  Finally an evolution in perception, where the quantity and quality of work completed at last outweighed the insignificance of hours in the chair.

Version 2

My corporate alter ego – Zombie Rob.

So if this was never the dream, then why was I here so many years later?  Well, why do you think?  Remuneration was not a desire but a survival factor.  I was out on my own, paying to put a roof over my head at 17 and food on the table which no longer magically appeared each time I sat down.  I had started in different industries but a series of unfortunate events had led me to the environmental and financial stability of the modern working office.  I was lucky enough to work for some fun brands, national and international icons but at the end of the day, once you have spent enough time anywhere – it is no longer about the sport, the art, or the fun – it becomes about the bottom line.  Or sometimes the poor management.  Or the archaic patriarchal structures that has served these companies for generations past.  I dug my heels in occasionally, speaking up for change and fairness.  I was met with looks of shock or admiration depending on the evolution of the individual.  It was often empowering.  Often disheartening.  Often frustrating.  Efficiency, workplace progression, fairness – these were all things that the machine did not have room for.  Unless you had a fancy title, then suddenly these words had more power.  Or at the very least, the person’s hearing them, heard them with more intensity.

I can hear the chip on my shoulder as my thoughts spill out.  I would be lying if I said there was no damage done.  But it is not for me to blame an individual, a team, a company, or the social and business structures that have allowed our world to revolve around an economic model that has left us modern slaves to high salaries.  The perfect picture has been painted in this lucky country we call Australia and it involves coming home late to your children and losing contact with your friends because you no longer have the time or energy to give back to yourself.  We put so much of our energy and effort keeping the beast turning over.  We feed it our blood, sweat and tears so that it can continue to grow year on year.  For it can never be big enough.  It can never stop growing.  It will never grow so large that it self implodes, spilling out expired executives and oozing out the skeletons of the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed people that entered so long ago.

Or will it?  We are at the start of a global revolution where the user-generated economy is taking an axe to previously dominated industries.  This wave of startups and change makers finally have the technology to harness a scale that was never before possible.  And as it does, not only will there be a somewhat re-balancing act of the ants and elephants…but it will allow the next wave of workplace robots to evaluate what they value most and hedge their bets accordingly.

I hedged some great bets.  I was gifted safety, security, stability.  I had some truly great workplaces, worked with more capable people than I care to remember, attended some great events, led some big projects, and made many people feel supported directly or not. But with every action comes a reaction and so it has come that my actions and reactions are screaming for change.  It is time to try something different.  I walked out full of beans.  With big plans and a full agenda of extra curricula activities to maintain momentum and continue on the path of saving the world from itself through education and evolution of the mind.

IMG_0124

The new dream – how good are burritos!

It is less than a week into this new life before the first hurdle strikes.  The reality that an overly ambitious deadline has been long missed is accompanied by a hasty reminder that hopes-and-dreams are no match for execution-and-action.  So after a few days of mixed emotion and energy resetting, I find a present moment where I can be grateful for the space to do this.  To allow the natural timeline needed for the ups and downs of life is but the greatest gift of all.  There is time for healing, energy for physical and mental exertion where only you are the beneficiary, there is an openness and a longing for awe – something large in scale and nature to take our breath away and remind us that our problems are not so but thinking makes them this way.

In a “normal” set of events, we would rush through these moments – parking them in the back closet along with those elusive “stress” responses, our deepest fears, and our greatest ambitions.  There is no time to consider these things as real and unique to us.  There are presentations to build, children to feed and idiots in the traffic to yell at.  Our energy is great in its form but it is constantly projected out to those we work for, those we love, and those we love to hate.  We give this energy willingly because it feels normal.  But it is us who have normalised it.  We have chosen paths and words and responsibilities that mean we will forever be tied to offloading our energy for the benefit and detriment of those around us.

But this energy is ours.  It can be harnessed and utilised.  It can be focused and channeled, and streamlined for our benefit.  And when this happens, guess what?  We benefit those around us so much more.  It is an old sentiment.  We know it to be true.  But who has time to implement it, let alone give it the head space for implementation?  It is much easier to agree and then walk away.  Until the next article or study comes out and we nod in agreement again and walk away all the same.  Without this time and energy to strategically think about our own lives, we will always continue on the same trajectory.  A comfortable path that cocoons us in paid bills, the odd “escape”, and the nice feeling we get when we know that we are colouring in between the lines.

IMG_0200

Me post-corporate; not colouring in the lines with my “new addition” (sorry Mum).

So I cannot stay in this openness forever.  Or can I?  The day will come when I too have bills to pay, where the safety net I have placed below will no longer carry the weight of my living costs and when my husband decides that my old mentality of “spending” is not catching up fast enough with my current lifestyle budgeted for “minimalism”.  Maybe on this day, I will be moved to find an intermediate space.  One where I do not re-enter the beast and its temptations nor give into a life of debt and social isolation.  I have many balls in the air, and am hoping that one or all of them land in a place that brings reward – be it personal, spiritual, financial or inspirational.  I would ask you to wish me luck but if I’ve learnt anything, it’s that you have to make your own luck.  But I’m superstitious so go on, wish me luck anyway!

Zig x

Childlike Wonder

I have been thinking a lot lately about childlike wonder.  Not so much its occurrence in the young but more so its absence in the old…er.

To me, childlike wonder encompasses so many wonderful things.  It is first and foremost an insatiable curiosity and interest.  It is expressed in questions and found down rabbit-holes.  It does not care for your preconceptions nor expectations.  Childlike wonder quite often sets its own rules yet surprisingly, never blurs its boundaries into hurt or pain.  For childlike wonder is born out of love and purity.  It is honest and creative,  allowing itself to be expressed in both rainbows and rainclouds.  It does not pretend to be pretty yet it is not afraid to be pretty either.

My childhood wonder had unbelievable artistic merit.  It scribbled and painted, and got messy often.  It wore things in the wrong order in the wrong sizes in the wrong patterns; it was a trend forecaster.  It asked a lot of questions, read a lot of books and at times; made lots of silly jokes.  My childhood wonder was a performer but it did not always perform.  It would sing and dance and pull faces.  It would burp out loud and laugh hysterically for minutes after.  My childhood wonder was hilarious.  And confident.  And stupidly happy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So where the fuck did it go?

Did I lose it in the sleepy coma that was my middle teens?  Did I lend it to a friend drunkenly at some party and forget to get it back?  Did it slowly seep away from me over the course of 20 years when I stopped making time for it and acknowledging its presence?  I mean, that’s where yours went right?  It got left in our former chapters prior to corporate jobs and mortgages and parenthood planning?

The process has been so long and unconscious that mostly I think, we do not realise it.  I mean, every three months we fill in half a page in a colouring in book – so we must still have it, right?  Or last year, when we spent six months on that project at work coming up with the next “big thing” – I mean, that was pretty spontaneous?  No matter that we were beaten to market twice, we were just unlucky.  Or how about the other day when we spent a whole 20 minutes making things out of dough with the kids….a whole 20 minutes!!

We often try to reach into this mythical bag of ‘wonder’ as adults for more often than not, we find the bag is empty.  Or it is hard to find in our busy schedule.  Or perhaps we have just put it down for a while but we have every intention of picking it up tomorrow, or the next day, or just once this busy period at work is over.

But in doing so, in not finding or utilising our Wonder – we miss out.

We miss out on the messiness and the joy and the fulfillment that our Wonder brings us.  We miss out of the effects of our Wonder’s flow, how it seems to make time stop altogether.  Wonder is immersive and welcoming.  Wonder doesn’t worry about deadlines or schedules.  It doesn’t care if you’ve done your make up or had a shave that day.  Wonder is accepting and all-consuming, and Wonder really hopes you wear your gumboots or neon tutu or whatever the heck else you want to wear that day.  Because Wonder doesn’t care for material things.  Wonder just wants you to be happy in whatever sparkly outfit allows you and your Wonder to function best in.

I haven’t made any hard or fast goals for 2017 (yet) but I have made a conscious commitment to bring more childlike wonder back into my life.  I want to be more creative, more ‘artsy’, I want to write more, I want to get messy, pick up a paintbrush and maybe wear some sparkly bits on my face one day.  I want to get lost in fun activities and I don’t want to feel guilty about spending time with my Wonder.  I don’t want to be thinking about emails or deadlines or to do lists or chores or tomorrow.  I want to get absorbed in the moments spent with my Wonder where time has no meaning and we ebb and flow through works that we love, or kinda love, or don’t love at all; a time where we don’t give up on each other.

Of course I am fearful.  My material brain fears time spent on things that don’t make money.  Not for indulgence but as a basic survival instinct.  But I must train my brain to see the intangible value offered in watercolour, or the connection that 1000 words may bring, or the personal fulfilment and satisfaction found in a completed creative project.  And who knows; maybe the two are not diametrically opposed.  Maybe in fully giving in to my childlike wonder and creativity, something entrepreneurial may be born.  Lord knows of the many that have gone before and the many that are still to join the industries of freedom and spirit and letting their Wonder’s loose.

I hope I have the courage to not second guess my Wonder.  For whilst my Wonder is a brave soul, I am not so.   Together, we will sail the high waters of expectation and judgement, and crash heavily through waves of instability and self doubt; finally surpassing the storms of social expectation and magnification.  Together, we will transition into the calmer waters of childlike wonder – where we will charter all obstacles together; arm in spaghetti-bracelet arm.  For we both know that when we arrive on the other side, there will be boundless amounts of purpose leaving us with nothing but feelings of overwhelming joy and fulfilment.

Love Ziggy + her Wonder  x

The Changing Face of Success

An outline of this post has been sitting in my drafts for months now.  I’ve gone to complete it at many intervals but something has held me back.  I can’t blame time or busyness because the truth is, it has been pain that has stopped me.  A burning pain that lies deep inside in those who are not living a life akin to their ‘ikigai’.  It is funny because my passion and understanding of emotional intelligence allows me to acknowledge what is going on at each and every layer but it does not make it any less circumstantial or easier to correct at the time.

I currently wrestle with many conflicting desires.  There is a desire to hold on to everything that I have built up to be my current lifestyle, which is a comfortable one, for the first time in a very long time.  It is not indulgent nor excessive but it is financially stable and that makes it a lot more enjoyable.  On paper, it would seem to an outsider that I have some definition of success.  Two houses; one of the east coast and one on the west, a car that gets me from A to B, a paying job in a global giant, enrolment at a good university, and a trip of a lifetime to a far away place – a not so distant memory.

img_4011

Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii – May 2016

As time goes on, I’m becoming more and more aware of my changing definition of success.  I’m not sure the precise time of these shifts but I assume they happened in subtle increments whilst I was busy living my ‘successful’ life.  Success is such a funny word.  To each of us it has a unique meaning which varies greatly and holds a different priority in each of our stories.  It is remiss of me not to acknowledge those for whom the word, as we know it, means absolutely nothing.  To those faced with adversity and real threats of survival; success means triumphing through another day without major harm.  Surely if we were to look up the the word, they would ironically take the definitive prize?

But it is not those who we reward a podium finish, at least not in the world I grew up in.  The literal gold medal is being fought over by those for whom material success is paramount.  It is an attainable pinnacle that dominates excessive norms,  luxe as a given and occasionally questionable behaviour can often be, well, paid to look otherwise.  I would think that the silver medal goes to the ‘resume’ crowd.  A majority of reasonable citizens  who rightfully enter a lifelong ‘pissing contest’ of graduate schools, multi-national firms and fancy titles.   Which just leaves the bronze medallion for those who are bettering the world through thankless actions, improving the lives of themselves and those around them.  Insert radiant sound clip.  I have never been one to covet designer bags, red-soled shoes or expensive wine.  I have never owned a new car nor played tennis on a court that had not been paid for.  To me, a lot of hefty price tags rarely do match the value exchange.

img_6338

Yes, this is me collecting shells. A simple pleasure.

Though, I am not without charge.

As a child my desire for fame and popularity was often the driving force behind my ambitions and desires.  I cursed anyone who was gifted with unearned popularity and despite my lean upbringing, I stretched and strategised with the little I had so that most were none the wiser.  As I grew older, the thought of flashy cars and big houses suddenly began to draw appeal.  How successful were these owners of such?  Why was I so far removed from all of this and what exactly did I need to do to get a slice of the sweet cherry pie?

Fantasies began about scouts finding me on the street, they would know how talented I was and fame and fortune would follow closely behind, right?  Or there was the one where the rich royal swoops me off my feet and into his four storey beachfront, delicately placing the string of locally sourced pearls around my neck as we stare off into the ocean. Do they call that one Escapism or Disneyism nowadays?  There were thoughts of lotto, becoming a poker champion, finding a hidden suitcase full of cash buried in the garden and even the wildest one of my parents confessing we actually were rich, they just wanted to make sure I didn’t grow up a spoilt brat – good one guys!  But like all good fantasies, that’s exactly where they stayed.  Locked up in the tower of never-ending thoughts next to the angsty teenage rebellion and behind the lyrics of Coolio’s ‘Gangsters Paradise’.  Great song that, pity I wasn’t graded on it.

So I did what any kid from that comes from nothing and wants it all does – I got a fucking job.

I loved getting my first job.  Working was a pleasure, I took pride in it.  I worked hard, tried not to let the boss down and relished any opportunities for further training and experience.  I was 14 years old when I got my first job and I stayed with that company for 4 years, working part-time after school and on weekends at first and then took on some extra shifts once I graduated from high school.  When University didn’t work out (another story for another day), I took pleasure in the fact that I could now increase my work hours and continue to pay rent.  Working meant I could stay somewhere nice, drive my car places and put food on the table.  In essence, it met a very functional need in surviving my late teenage years.  It also funded a lot of fun nights out and blurred memories, semi-stored.

I got bounced through a shitty system for the next couple of years trying my best not to let the worst stuff stick.  My work ethic was high so I was rewarded with roles that were often more senior than my years but the downside was that I was young and naive.  I let my passion and emotions get the better of the situation at times.  Worst of all I came across and reported to some of the biggest assholes I have ever met in my life.  Real schmucks I tell ya.

Luckily it didn’t deter me.  After 10 years in the workplace, I took on a job that actually paid well and I made the life choice to build my first house.  Now I call it a life choice because that is exactly what it is at any age, let alone when you are 24.  What it took away from me was freedom, lack of responsibility, and the prospect of living or travelling overseas long term.  These are big things when you are in your early twenties.  But what it took away, it made up for in things I needed at the time – stability, homeliness, security, and a small step towards a big dream.  It was never even a question of if I should do this or not.  It was more so; when, how long, do you take cash?  Amusing because realistically, I still didn’t have much.

Anyway, so it went that I brought and built my first house.  Disclosure:  Have you seen Australian house prices?  I obvs wasn’t alone in this purchase.  I wasn’t earning THAT much money.  Credit where credit’s due – this dive into the property market came because I was able to go 50/50 with my partner at the time….hi Aaron!  I’m not so sure his motives were the same as mine but he signed the papers nonetheless and our journey off the cliff was done so hand in hand.  It was a proud moment for both of us.  We were ‘home owners’.  At the ripe young age of 24 – holy shit.  It was a great first house – 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, split living spaces, remote control garage door (I really loved that thing, we didn’t have one growing up), and all in a nice neighbourhood a little out of the city.  It was a pleasant change and lifestyle at the time, and best of all – it was a reason for us to smile and acknowledge the hard work we had put into to making this happen.  Where am I going with this?  I am rambling, yes, but I must confess; tomorrow is a big day.

I am selling my house.

house-1

My first house. Built 2009.

My first house, my baby, my blood-sweat-and-tears.  My safe spot.  My far away place that, for a time in my life, made me feel successful for a fleeting moment.  Now, it is time to let go.  Time to let go of the physical property, of the hypothetical meaning that other people have placed on multi-home ownership.  It no longer has ties to my ego, to my importance of being.  In fact, it now has the opposite effect.  This double-mortgage lifestyle is keeping me tied to things that no longer align with my life’s purpose.  My definition of success has changed and now I must take the steps to align my assets and liabilities to change with it.  It is uncomfortable, occasionally sad, and mostly necessary.  I am ready to let go and I hope that years of sacrifice will pay back even part of the cost that has been taken.

So here is to the next chapter.  To less material wealth.  To more fulfilment and less ties to unnecessary commitments.  To happiness and freedom and travel.  To letting go of the need to be tied to titles and group think.  Here’s to breaking through one layer in a pile of many.

ZB x