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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Collective Helplessness.

The problem with the local news is that it tells a disempowering story.  One where we are always the victim.  We, the local people, should feel scared, terrified, disgusted.  These atrocities are happening in our neighbourhood, in our streets, in our neighbour’s house.  And there is nothing we can do.  Just be on the lookout, be wary, be cautious.

It is true that these things are happening, yes.  But why do we need to know?  So that we can continue to be paralysed by fear and so that fear can be used again to hook us in to the cycle of fear.  Watch again to see if they’ve caught the killer.  Watch again to get the ratings up.  Watch again so that the billionaire at the top can take his yacht out in Cannes this afternoon.  If the purpose is to inform us, then there are many ways to get a suspects face out into the public; social media being the more obvious place in modern society.

But the sharing of crime and negative stories are not part of a bigger solution.  By sitting in the comfort of our homes and watching this daily droll, we are indirectly supporting the cycle of continuity.  If we were really appalled by these people, these behaviours, this constant stream of assault and death and horror; then wouldn’t it be more beneficial to support the circuit breakers?

Let me explain.

  1. Mr Smith kills Mr Jones – random attack, assailants not known to each other, Mr Smith has a history of mental illness and violence, and is known to police.
  2. Media goes wild.  The attack happened in an affluent area, neighbours remark that they thought this was a “safe place to raise children”, a shot of a nice car driving down a nice street pans away.
  3. We, the public, watch this and immediately react either consciously or subconsciously.  Our mind, hearing upon the threat of death races into fight or flight mode.
  4. We take a sub-second check of all the things that mean something to us; our family, our partner, our friends, our safe neighbourhood.
  5. Then we react, rightfully so – fear, disgust, sadness, anger, hopelessness.  Another morning or evening news session and another reason for our body to recoil into an unhealthy stress response and cement our victim mentality.

We feel sick, or worst of all, we feel nothing.  We are used to seeing this on the screen.  It’s a daily story that is the same but usually the characters and the location change a little.  We are educating ourselves by watching.  We are being presented information that we did not previously have, right?  – “News”.

But what is “news” if it is only telling 0.1% of the story.  Not lies but not complete pictures either.  I mean, last night, one person was murdered in my city.  Actually horrific, terrifying, and scary. Uncomfortable to think about.  But what about the 5 million that didn’t murder last night?  What about the 5 million people that cooked an average meal, watched some shitty reality tv show, spent more time checking their emails and social media than talking to their spouse and then went to bed; tossing and turning for a good 45 minutes before waking up before their alarm went off to the dog barking?  What about those stories.

Well, they’re boring, aren’t they.  They don’t serve to inform of us any impending danger or give us any new information or entice a certain heightened response from us.  But these stories are important.  Because we have forgotten them.  We have forgotten that the majority of the stories not being told are overwhelmingly positive.  That the majority of us are surviving and thriving and cooperating with each other as best we can.  Not only does this story need to be told, it needs to be celebrated.

5 million people went about their business today without punching one person in the face.  50,0000 of those crazy fuckers even held a door open for someone.  2 million gave way to another car in a merging lane (still another million who haven’t quite grasped the concept but we are not perfect).  3.5 million walked in to their houses last night and received a hug or kiss within the first five minutes of arrival.  This mass wave of connection, kindness and contact occurring between the hours of 6:00pm and 7:00pm sent a huge burst of positive energy into the world and should be applauded.

But instead we focus on the 0.1% who chose not to choose kindness.  We give them air time and our energy.  Which would be ok if that was energy towards a proactive response. But instead it steals a piece of our most precious asset, time, and takes with it the recoil of joy.  Our victim mindsets are cemented and our learned helplessness continues.  What if we saw this story of Mr Smith and Mr Jones and got to choose one of the following responses:

  1. Press A – to donate money to this relevant local health service
  2. Press B – to encourage your local politician to put more of government spending towards mental health and police services
  3. Press C – to support your community in one of the following areas of early intervention; domestic violence prevention, increased education opportunities
  4. Press D – to educate yourself further on the scientific findings of this mental illness and what the prime causes such as a neglected childhood really do to people
  5. Press E – to feel worried about your own safety but not worried enough to do any of the above

Or you can Press F.  You can vote with your button.  You can turn off this skewed bullshit and you can stop lining the pockets of the people who do not care about your welfare, or your safety, or the safety of your children.  You the individual garner more power than you know, more power than the billionaires and the government, and the media.  But your power is magnified significantly if you use it as a collective.  There are millions of you and together you must remember that the future is hope not death and misery.  But only if you unplug from the negative vomit being spewed into your minds.

If you really want to know what’s happening next door, look out your window.  If you really want to know what happens in your neighbourhood, look at the statistics.  If you really want to know what is happening to your fellow humans on the other side of the world, look outside your mainstream channels.  Search, seek, hunt for the truth.  And then – do something.  If you believe that what is happening is atrocious, as it often is, make the decision to become part of the solution.  As we take our place as the innocent bystander, we stand as much with the perpetrators as we do the victim.

Change is uncomfortable and it takes effort.  Despite this, we all must choose one option.  So, if you are unable to press A, B, C or D – then at least press F and spend your energy with that beautiful, average, law abiding majority this evening.

Here’s some “serious news” to give you encouragement, 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.

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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

Festival of Dangerous Ideas

In 2015 I came across an email that was sprucing tickets to an intriguing event called the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.  Being the eternal rebel that I am, it was obvious that I was drawn to the mere concept of this yet unknown event.  With a bit of online research, I uncovered what was soon to be a monumental moment in my thus far, frustratingly constructed life.  The bill for this festival was a melting pot of overarching, ethically debated, boundary pushing global topics that brought me instant spouts of joy as I plugged in my preferences for a festival multi-pack (very well priced, if you were wondering).

I chose sessions that were either close to my jaded heart or high up in my fiery pit of societal passions.  It landed here:

  1. Incarceration – a VICE panel on the broken and shameful business that is, our national prison system.
  2. Big Sugar – a look into the ‘new tobacco’; the industry, the lax government regulation and the frightening health and addictive effects of this tasty, tasty treat.
  3. Ceasefire on Drugs – Johann Hari champions the factual campaign of legalisation and re-engagement programs for illicit drugs in lieu of the 100 year failed drug war.
  4. The New Satirists – a real shits ‘n’ giggles session with some of Australia’s best satirists, easy laughs at serious issues to lighten the often heavy festival tone.
  5. Bad Education – a philosophical view of the perhaps not-fit-for-purpose, modern education system.  Basically all I heard was, “exams are unnecessary”.
  6. Dying Europe – a sneak peak into the global dilemmas and impacts of the European Union.  No, at this point, there wasn’t any forethought that the UK would be exiting!

I booked some cheap flights up to Sydney, stayed in a surprisingly lovely hostel on/at/in (?!) The Rocks and had one of the best educational moments OF.MY.LIFE.

What I listened to and pondered over the next few days, quite simply, blew my world apart. I was fascinated, interested, passionate, and obsessed in a way that I had never been before.  Why didn’t I learn about these things in school?  Why was I finally learning about things that seemed more important than the crap I had been force fed in the media?  My mind had been yearning for a different, more truthful learning experience and at 30 years of age, I had finally found it.  It was these sessions that would grow me as a human being, as a global citizen, and as a person that was not constructed from an outdated manual.  I remembered to think and critique objectively.

Look, anyway, what I’m getting at is that FODI is an amazing experience.  It is back on this year at the amazing Sydney Opera House, a location which really adds to the enormity of the ideas exploding within it.  If you are in the area or can get to Sydney during the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of September, then I implore you to choose some subjects close to you heart or otherwise, put your ego back on the bottom shelf and call yourself to action during and post these sessions.

Some interesting sessions this year include; A.C. Grayling’s ‘Closing the Modern Mind’, India’s Age of Extremism, Open the Borders, Apple vs The FBI, Legalise Drugs in Sport (with Stephen Dank yikes!), The Asian Arms Race, Not Worth Living, Gender Doesn’t Matter, The Bamboo Ceiling, US Politics: Even Worse Than It Looks, Stop Fishing the High Seas, Why Don’t We Want To Talk About The Arts, Break a Rule a Day, I Was A Human Guinea Pig, Why Black Lives Matter, Freaks Like Me…and many, many more!!!

Head to Festival of Dangerous Ideas for information and ticketing.

Your future self thanks you.