The art of really listening

I have one particular friend, who I won’t embarrass with defining details, who has the enormous capacity to listen. After conversations with her, I’m left stronger, warmer, calmer.

In a world that moves at a seemingly more and more frenetic pace, this friend cuts through with a gentle heart and a quiet voice. She has the ability to listen, and listen deeply at that.

Everyday the world shouts out around us, media slams, social media whirrs in an endless suffocating foam, we glorify busy, and glamourise mind boggling financial debt.  It’s as though some days, the universe roars angry on its’ concrete perches.  We’ve got it all so wrong. Conversations between real people, when they actually occur in place of a text or email or instant message, can feel like not much more than a well time table tennis banter. We wait without hearing, eager to jump in with our bit.

So to have one particular friend down the volume on all the noise and to just listen –  it is nothing short of spectacular. She listens intently, with an open heart, without judgement, without well intentioned unwanted advice, or jumping in with an empathetic story to prove how much she understands. She just listens, and she hears you.

I’m so incredibly lucky to have her kindness in my life because with real listening, comes real understanding. It’s a gift she gives to others. Her time and a capacity to hear the other person. It’s an age old skill and a beautiful one at that. And each time she gives me the gift of listening to me, I’m reminded of how important it is to be heard. Really heard. To be heard as opposed to liked or shared or ‘fixed’ with an answer. And I’m inspired to do a little better next time I’m listening to someone who needs to be heard.

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Letting your dreams change tracks

 

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had the dream of becoming a fiction author. I’ve chosen creative writing courses at uni, I have writen short stories to help me get through hard times. I love books and films and all things story telling. However, I haven’t been able to put the dream into action.

I do every thing but.

I try though, I’ve got two unfinished fiction manuscripts. Yet, I seem to do everything but finish them.

Am I really that afraid of failing? Possibly.

This morning at 4am, when I was tossing and turning unable to sleep, it occurred to me that I could very well spend the rest of my life pining over this dream, frozen by fear and trapped by inaction.

Or, I could let my dream change tracks. Just the other day I decided to start work on a non fiction ebook. One that I know has an audience, one that I can give away for free. That people will enjoy.

And in doing so, I will get somewhere closer to that old dream, of becoming an author. Just a slightly different one.

The realisation made me wonder, should dreams be rigid structures, or do they bend and sway and move. I’ve always seen ‘the big dream’ as a huge concrete step in the sky that you one day reach and plonk your self down on to enjoy the miraculous view. Perhaps I was wrong, perhaps dreams are more like clouds and that you just end up on them, in a direction you hadn’t quite imagined, but enjoying the wildest and fluffiest ride.

If life wants to take me down a slightly different angled path, and I let, who knows what great things could be instore. Along the way I might somehow kick down some of those imaginary barriers in my head that seem to stop me from finishing those fiction works. We’ll see.

 

 

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Simplify life. Less decision. More headspace

I’m short on energy these days. More so than I ever thought possible. So in an attempt to simplify life and have more time and energy and room in my over active head, I realised today that I hold onto way too many unnecessary decisions.

Little control freaky moments. OH MY GOSH.

Take for example, the evening meal.

In a bid to work less and have more time at home for the family, we’ve been a little more vigilant with the shopping list and sticking to the monthly grocery budget this year. Which means we cook dinner every night. So, in order to get more bang for our buck, my partner and I decided to make a meal plan each week.

It sounds boring. And yes, it can be. However, once you’re in the swing of it, it liberates your 4pm.

No longer do we have the tired old daily “what are we going to eat for dinner” phone call to each other. It’s one decision we don’t have to make 365 days of the year. No thankyou. Just 52.

Nor do either of us have to rush out and buy the grocery items and then cook them after a long day. Nope, it’s already sorted. And it takes about 10minutes to work it out once a week, which we do just before the weekly fresh food shop. Plus whoever is home gets about preparing the meal around their daily tasks. It’s a good way to break up the day. Onions and garlic in the morning. Throw in a few chores. Chop the veggies after lunch. Get stuck into a creative project with some of that extra headspace.

And where possible, we make double or triple quantities and freeze food. Nothing quite beats a defrosted home cooked healthy meal on a bone tired day.

It is shameful to admit, but now I’m FINALLY at the point where I’m happy to not be involved in meal planning, grocery list planning or the shopping. Yes I’ve realised I do not have to be involved in it because others are as capable of doing it just as well as me. Epic realisation. If my partner wants to do it, great. If not, I can do it. They touched on this sentiment on Channel 9’s Home Renovation TV show, The Block the other night. “If you’re pressed for time, don’t go shopping together”. Makes sense. Why double up on monotonous decisions or tasks?

I’ve also worked out that my partner knows what I like to eat. There’s a lot of salad and light meals on the menu that he supplements on his plate with hunks of meat.

The other side of less control is more surprises. Trust and surprises, these are lessons I’m learning as I take more steps into the realm of ‘easy-going-ness’.

It’s a sentiment that is spilling into other areas of my life as I realise how tightly I hold trivial details of day to day life.

Less meaningless – must – dip – my- toe- in- every – pie moments.

Another example is the monthly trip to the bottle shop (another money saver technique of ours, you churn through the cash at the local bottlo with their $21 bottles of wine) – ‘just surprise me honey’ I said to my partner today. (I know, you may think that’s a no brainer, but for me it was a first). As I realised there’s no need for me to trawl through Dan Murphy’s website, create a list and then have my partner trawl the aisles looking for the items I’ve added to a list. He’s there, he can work out a game plan.

Same goes for the landscaping on the backyard, we’ve talked about what we want it to look like. I won’t be doing the heavy work, and I can’t get down to the recycling centre to work out which items we’ll be purchasing… so I’ve handed over the rest of the details to him. It’ll be a nice surprise to see how his interpretation of the backyard plans turn out. And I don’t have the energy.

When you let go, it creates headspace.

As I look around now, I see dozens of trivial decisions cropping up everywhere. Ones that don’t require two adults, or even me for that matter. Ones that can be divided and conquered to free up more headspace.

It really is incredible how the world still turns without my watchful eye on every single decision…

 

 

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How many clothes do you really need?

 

Last year I got rid out most of my clothes. They weren’t fitting. I haven’t replaced them. When I threw them out (aka gave them away) the strangest thing happened. The process of getting dressed, or rather, selecting clothes each day, became so much easier. No more raking through overstuffed drawers or the . . . → Read More: How many clothes do you really need?

The summer of succelents

This morning I made a start on what I hope to be a summer of creating beautiful succulent art.

Succulent cuttings growing in the makeshift hot house – now, to wait for them to grow!

Repotting left over pieces of other succulents. All of these came from small pieces and other succulent plants. For . . . → Read More: The summer of succelents

Getting back into my blog

It’s time to get this blog back up and running. Stay tuned people!

 

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Discipline and freedom

When I was a highschool student, my rep basketball coach taught us that the way to reach your goals is through patience, tolerance and determination.

Coach would then proceed to run us ragged with suicide drills. Which is the term used for timed sprinting drills up and down the basketball court. If the team . . . → Read More: Discipline and freedom

Gunners

The 2013 Australian Guns & Roses concert. I had absolutely no expectations when I went to the concert, despite thinking it might be woeful, with Axl being the only original band member, I was still keen to go.

When I was 17 my next door neighbour Michelle and I were miraculously given permission to . . . → Read More: Gunners

On picking oneself up off the ground

 

A missed opportunity. Passed over for someone else. Failing to reach a personal goal. When the chips don’t fall your way and you miss out on something great, for reasons that you can’t control, what do you do?

I generally land in a heap on the ground. I sulk and mope. My internal . . . → Read More: On picking oneself up off the ground

How to figure out sugar content

 

Just after New Years Eve, I decided to take Sarah Wilsons’s I Quit Sugar Experiment which runs for 8 weeks. During a stressful work period, and over the summer holidays, I’d somehow let sugar was creep into my diet and I wanted to do something about it.

So, armed with Sarah’s e-book (which . . . → Read More: How to figure out sugar content

Rainy days

After weeks of scorching heat, the rain has finally arrived. It’s a lazy melancholy public holiday here in Sydney, so I thought I’d take a few moments to wander around my garden in the rain and snap some photos on my phone. My garden is small and more wonky than whimsical. It won’t ever win . . . → Read More: Rainy days

It’s beginning to feel like armageddon

As I ever so gradually and gracefully become more seasoned in life, I’m starting to enjoy the warmer weather*. For a very long time, I loathed super hot weather – possibly because for a long time I was 19 years old** with a face full of luscious make up, my hair perfectly styled into . . . → Read More: It’s beginning to feel like armageddon

My thoughts on writing

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The little things

This morning I was inspired by a friends facebook comment, in which she spoke about trying to start the morning with an optimistic glass half full outlook. The comment really struck a chord with me, perhaps because I’m struggling to find the’ half full’ outlook when it comes to my day job. Whilst I’m grateful . . . → Read More: The little things

It makes no sense

I don’t know Jill Meagher personally, but waking up today to find out that they’d found her body left me feeling slightly shattered. I’ve been anxiously following the social media appeal to find her over the past 7 days.

Jill’s story has struck an almighty chord with Australia.

The public concern has been impressive, . . . → Read More: It makes no sense