Category Archives: life

20 for 2020: week 5

Week of 27 January

I was on leave this week and fully expected to spend it hanging out with Kramstable, doing some work on my uni course, and working on some of my photo projects.

20200127 Scoby city edit

If you ever wondered what happens to a kombucha scoby when you leave it alone for four months, I found out so you don’t have to. Also, the chickens love it.

I didn’t anticipate that I would be spending a lot of the week dealing with a family issue and that my plans were going to unravel.

The first thing to disappear was my 15 minutes a day working on my photo project (thing 1) as recommended in the creative kickstart course (thing 6). My plan, as I explained in week 2, was to set aside 15 minutes every morning after I return from my (non-negotiable) walk to work on a creative project. The aim was to make this as non-negotiable as walking is, but it hasn’t clicked yet. I guess I’m still in the early stages, and thinking how much of a struggle it was to get back into walking after I stopped for a couple of weeks, and acknowledging the difficulties of the moment, I don’t want to be too hard on myself. I just have to keep trying. This week I did it two days out of seven, which is better than no days out of seven. It’s 30 minutes I wouldn’t have otherwise done.

20200127 UTas Chemistry 11-Edit

Monday morning photowalk

This is the second official week of my second uni unit (thing 8). I sat in on a webinar with the lecturer early in the week to discuss the work we need to do before our first face to face workshop and for our first assignment, which is due on 9 February. I started work on the assignment and am feeling pretty overwhelmed by it all right now. I have a lot more to do and the unexpected events haven’t helped. I have to keep reminding myself that I can only do what I can do, it doesn’t have to be perfect and what is most important is the learning, not the grade I get. (I struggle with this idea. A lot.)

I completed all the remaining photo collages from 2019 (thing 4), so now I have to print them and stick them in the book. I think all up I’ll have about 26 collages to trim and stick. A boring task for when I’m really bored. I also completed the first four weeks of 2020 and have to figure out a way to keep this work up to date so I’m not left with weeks and weeks to do at a time. That might actually mean trying to make it a weekly habit rather than hoping it gets done and ending up weeks behind like I have been. How does that sound for someone who can’t stick to a schedule? This needs some more thinking.

I reviewed the work I’ve done so far on the creative kickstart course. The “just 15 minutes” is the main takeaway I have so far.  I worked through two more days of the material (Days 12 and 13).

Thing 22 (of 20, yeah, I know) was to commit to and do the monthly review in Susannah Conway’s Unravel Your Year workbook, which is intended as a prompt to remind me to actually keep what I’ve said I’m going to do this year at the front of my mind rather than complete the workbook and forget about it for the rest of the year.

I wasn’t sure what a monthly review would look like, so on Sunday I grabbed the book and went to my local coffee shop to reflect. I made a note of the main events of the month and completed the sections on what I’ve been grateful for that month and what you’ve learned. Following that are some reflection questions that are different each month, so I jotted down some responses and made a list of action steps to take as a result. I flipped through the workbook and had a look at everything I had written and started to feel overwhelmed because there were all these grand ambitions but no real plan to put them into action. Not how I wanted to feel.

20200202 Monthly review at the Picnic Basket edit

Sunday morning

I decided to let that go for now and try to focus my attention on the most important thing at the moment (other than the family issue), my assignment. At the moment it’s the thing on my to-do list that is weighing most heavily on me. I feel like until I can get everything I want to say out of my head (and out of the readings) and onto the page so that I can sit down and start to edit it, I’m going to continue to feel feeling scattered and light headed. I’m recognising a pattern here in every assignment I do, and I’m not sure if there is another way to do this, or accept it’s just the way I do things and to roll with it.

Summary for the week
• Things completed this week: 0
• Things completed to date: 2 (10, 18)
• Things I progressed: 4 (4, 6, 8, 22)
• Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (1, 3, 13, 14, 16)
• Things not started: 11 (2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21)

20 for 2020: week 4

Week of 20 January

20200122 Sunrise Taroona Beach edit

Wednesday morning walk on the beach

There’s not a lot to report on this week. I went to work and had two days off that were largely taken up with family matters, a big event on Saturday and a long bike ride and some study on Sunday. It means I didn’t get as much done on my 20 for 2020 list as I would have hoped but I managed to keep some of the things ticking along.

This is the first official week of my second uni unit (thing 8). I was very relieved that there are a lot fewer readings in this module than there were in the last one, some of which I didn’t manage to read and are still sitting in a pile waiting for me. (Yes, I know. Go paperless. I can’t read on screen. I have to have the paper so I can scribble on it and get out the highlighter pen). There is a lot of reflection to do in this unit and the first module is about understanding yourself, your style, preferences, strengths, values and identity. It’s something we’ve been looking at at work, as well as tying in with some other work I’ve been doing recently, including Indistractable (thing 13) and the wellbeing course (thing 3), neither of which I progressed this week. I’m interested to see where this is going to take me.

I made some more photo collages (thing 4). I have four weeks left to do plus the first four weeks of this year.

I have committed to working on my photo project (thing 1) for 15 minutes every day, an activity from the creative kickstart course (thing 6). 15 minutes is better than nothing and it means I’m making progress on a project that stalled last year. This week I did that for six mornings, so I’m happy with that. I listened to another one of the course lessons this week too.

I had a bit of a revelation, which wasn’t so much a revelation than a reminder, that in all of this work, I don’t have to do everything. I need to take what is going to work for me in the place where I am right now. For example, there are going to be days especially leading up to intense periods of uni work, where I will not have the time to sit down for even one block of 50 minutes to do my creative work, let alone three or four. I’m currently looking for slots in the day where I might be able to fit some of this work it in as well as my 15 minutes in the morning.

This all relates to the Indistractable work too and the struggle I’ve been having trying to schedule everything. I’m very good at making schedules. I can timeblock forever. I love composing timetables down to the smallest detail. But ask me to actually do the things on the schedule and that’s never going to happen. If I’m doing something and the time comes do start on something else, the chances of me doing that are basically none, unless it’s “go to doctor’s appointment” (or “meet friend for lunch”).

So I’ve been scouring the internet for ideas on what to do if you can’t make yourself stick to your calendar.

I posted in one of my Facebook groups asking for help too. Someone suggested I was aiming too high trying to schedule everything and that I could try to put one regular thing in my calendar each week, commit to that and make that a solid habit before moving onto the next one. I like that.

Someone else suggested putting an alarm on my phone and putting the phone out of reach so I have to get up to turn it off, thereby stopping me doing what I was doing and giving me a better chance of actually doing the thing I want to do (in this case, go to bed on time), because the act of getting up will force me to stop what I’m doing, so I then have to take that opportunity to stop properly, not just pause.

A final person said maybe I’m just not a calendar person (I think that’s right) and maybe I need to just pick out the top three things to do each day and work on them until they’re done. That might work but I think it will require planning so I can figure out what are the most important things I need to do and I would still need to figure out when to fit them into my day. So I’m not sure if that gets me any further ahead.

But anyway, baby steps.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 2 (10, 18)
  • Things I progressed: 4 (1, 4, 6, 8)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (3, 13, 14, 16)
  • Things not started: 12 (2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22)

20 for 2020: week 2

Week two: Week of 6 January

Welcome to week two of 20 for 2020. This is the first full week for the year and I’m lucky I still have some time before my uni course starts to concentrate of some of the other tasks, some of which I think will be important to have done because they will help me stay on track with uni (thing 8).

The most obvious of which is Indistractable (thing 13), which is a book by Nir Eyal about helping out get control of your attention so you can do the things you really want to be doing. There is a bit of overlap between this work and the creative kickstart course (thing 6) and also the wellbeing work (thing 3) I’ve been doing so I think it’s good to be tackling them all at the same time.

Something that all three things look at is whether what you do every day is actually what you want to be doing. It’s described differently in all three, but the idea is that you look at how you spend your day, look at how you would spend your day if you were leading a life that you truly wanted to live and then start to see what shifts you can make to move your life closer to the life you want to be living. Each approaches it in a different way, and I love seeing the differences in approaches between a productivity person, a creative person and a person focused on health and wellbeing.

Rather than attempt to explain all of the three groups of activities, I’ll write about what I’ve been doing.

One of the first things I did was to track my time. This is important so you know what you spend time on and can assess whether you might be able to claim back some of the time you spend on activities that are less valuable to you so that you can work on things that are really important to you. I did this in excruciating detail for five days. I kept a spreadsheet and every time I started to do something different, I noted it down.

The first thing that struck me when looking back at it that every day I woke up to the alarm rather than already being awake (four of the five days) I lay in bed from 25 minutes up to an hour and 25 minutes. So over four days I wasted four hours lying in bed avoiding getting up. If that’s normal, it means I waste 365 hours a year avoiding getting up. That’s 15 days a year I spend in bed doing nothing. Two weeks!! I only get four weeks annual leave each year. I’d never waste two weeks of that like this, so what the hell am I doing this for?

I had never thought about it this way until I looked at those numbers.

The next thing that is painfully obvious is that I am very “distractable”. Other than things like walking, going out for a lunch break. watching a movie or spending time with family, the longest stretch of time I did any single activity for was 48 minutes. That was highly unusual. I did most of my work in 10-15-20 minute bursts (or even less), interrupted by emails, checking social media (48 times in five days and I think this is way less than I actually did), getting up to move, colleagues, text messages, phone calls, family members, my boss . . .

Not all of these were bad distractions. Getting up to move, for example, is very important for my physical wellbeing and to prevent further injury to my back. But a lot of them were distractions that I initiated myself, and this is where some of the work in Indistractable and the creative kickstart work is focused. Eliminating (or minimising) self-initiated distractions that take me away from the work I want to be doing. I don’t have to check social media ten times a day. I don’t have to check email that often either. What this exercise has shown me very clearly is my lack of capacity to work undistracted for long periods and, therefore, to get into a state of focused concentration where I can do my best work. This isn’t just at my day job; it’s at home too when I want to do some writing or photo editing, so when I say “work” I am talking about both.

Part of this is environmental and it’s not all down to me not controlling my attention. My day job is in a noisy open-plan office, which is not conducive to doing concentrated work for long periods. Indistractable has some ideas for minimising distractions in that type of environment, which I’ll get to later, but my work for this week has been on minimising the distractions that I create for myself.

One idea that has occurred to me is that I find I get annoyed by the walk breaks, which are reminders on my Fitbit at 10 minutes before the hour if I haven’t moved enough that hour, because I’m often (finally) settling into some work after dealing with distractions I gave into throughout the hour. So I thought if I restrict my access to my phone until the walk alarm goes off, that will minimise a lot of my self-initiated distractions and I can use the 10 minutes to have a break, move and check things on my phone if I want to. The challenge will then be to put it away again when I get back to my desk. I also think that in my day job it would be helpful to use the walk alarm as a trigger to shift into a different position and to take advantage of the sit-stand desks, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on trying to make more habitual. Using the walk breaks for good.

Distractions notwithstanding, however, the main purpose of this tracking exercise is to look at everything you do and to figure out what you’re doing that aligns with what you really want to be focusing on, and what is taking up your time and stopping you focusing on your work (however you define that, paid work, art, writing, blogging, photography . . .) and the things that are important to you, such as family, friends, walking, photography and chickens. Having done that, you decide whether you can get rid of some of the stuff that doesn’t align. If you can’t (hello, cleaning out the chicken enclosure) and, if not, whether you can delegate it to someone else, defer it until later, reduce the amount of time you spend on it, or change it in some way so that it does better align to what you want.

Travel to work is a prime candidate. It’s not a thing that aligns to anything. It’s something I have to do or I might find my cashflow stop rather abruptly. One way I got rid of it a long time ago was to start working from home one day a week, which, from where I was living at the time, gave me an extra two hours a day. Nice, but not available to everyone. Now I just scroll social media on the trip to work.

I want to read more. But I have no time to read. But I have an (approximately) 20 minute bus ride to work. Therefore, I have 20 minutes to read. Twice a day. Done.

I want to do more exercise. I bought an e-bike that get me to town with some effort but not enough to make it necessary to need to shower when I get there. Therefore, I have two sets of about 35 minutes of exercise.

Okay, that’s an easy one, but you get the idea.

On the same theme, Gretchen Rubin had this great idea many podcasts ago about mundane activities. She says that when you’re doing an activity that’s really boring try to put the word meditation after it to reframe it. “I’m doing waiting in line . . .  meditation”, which she says feels a whole lot better than being bored and frustrated by waiting in line or cleaning the bathroom or waiting for the bus (or subway in her case since she’s in New York). She refers to the saying “if you can’t get out of it, get into it”, which is, I think what “shifting” is all about. Related, Gretchen and Liz have an interesting discussion on boredom in this podcast, which is a little related to my Bored and Brilliant challenge (thing 12).

After looking at my activities and working out what aligns with where I want to go and what doesn’t, and discovering that there isn’t much on that list I do that I can actually delete, I worked through Chapter 10 of Indistractable, which asks you to allocate how many hours a week you want to allocate to each activity. Then you sit down and work out how to fit it all into your schedule.

My hours added up to 196.5.

This is after eliminating everything I no longer want to do.

There are 168 hours in a week. This ain’t gonna happen, kids.

Well, I do have 30 hours a week of work. 196.5 minus 30 is 166.5, which gives me an hour and half to watch a movie as well . . . .  Unfortunately, I also need the pay that comes with that work time!

So the work now is to figure out a schedule that gives me time to do what I love to do, and what I have to do. This is only chapter 10. There are 25 more chapters to work through.

I finished reading the book too, with my new bus reading habit (thing 14).

As I said, a lot of the work I’ve been doing for Indistractable has been connected to the wellbeing work (thing 3) and I did some of the journalling for that this week too.

I’ve now worked through seven days of the creative kickstart course (thing 6) as well, which covers a lot of the same ground. One suggestion I liked was to set aside “just 15 minutes” every day to create. I have started experimenting with doing that after my morning walk. The idea is not just to commit to the time but also to commit to what you’ll be doing at the time, so I decided to spend just 15 minutes every day on my photo project (thing 1). It’s not much, but if I do this consistently for a year it will be 90 hours I would otherwise have not devoted to the project. That’s nearly four days! I have to be able to get it done in that time.

I rode my bike to work (thing 10) and read some of my uni material (thing 8) in preparation for the start of the unit on 20 January.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 1 (10)
  • Things completed to date: 2 (10, 18)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 13, 14)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 0
  • Things not started: 13 (2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22)

20 for 2020

20 for 2020 is a continuation of 19 for 2019, which is an idea I stole from Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft’s podcast Happier (here’s the link to how Gretchen and Liz did on their 19 for 2019 lists). I think they actually started it with 18 for 2018.

I’m going to do 20 for 2020, which, I mean, how can you not? All the twos and zeros.

I haven’t made any further progress on my 19 for 2019 list since my last post, so in the end, I accomplished 14 of the 19 things I wanted to do in 2019. Three are still in progress (things 2, 6 and 16) and I will complete them, one I decided I didn’t really want to do (thing 14) because putting the systems in place to do it, rather than actually doing it, was more important, and I think I went some way to doing that. The other one (thing 10), I’m waiting on someone else so maybe I need to follow up.

Having learned from 2019, I’m going to include a mix of small things that I’ve been putting off for ages, longer term projects that I want to finish off and some new things that have just recently popped up in my life.

The first step was to look at my uncompleted 2019 things and decide if any of them need to be carried over into 2020. I’ve kept the photo project on the list (thing 16), getting my sewing machine fixed (thing 10) and completing the wellbeing program (thing 6), which will actually run again in 2020, so I will be able to dip back into that work as I need to.

I’ve also included two things that I did in 2019 and want to do again in 2020. And a whole bunch of new things.

Here’s the list

Carried over from 2019’s list

1. Complete my photo project

2. Get my sewing machine fixed

3. Complete the wellbeing course lessons from 2019 (and go back into this work over the year to pick up on things I missed last year or need to reinforce)

Repeated from 2019

4. Complete my 2019 weekly photojournal and put in place a system so that I don’t get behind with the photos again (I have kept up a lot better than I did in 2018 but I still have about 10 weeks of photos from 2019 to sort and edit)

5. Have an alcohol-free month

New for 2020

6. Complete the 21 days creative kickstart course I started at the end of 2019

7. Complete the Photoshop class I signed up for in 2019

8. Successfully complete my uni course and graduate

9. Use no camera other than my SLR with a single prime lens for 30 days and post a photo a day for the month

10. Ride my bike to work

11. Set up a mini studio at home

12. Finish the Bored and Brilliant challenge and write a blog post about it

13. Read the book Indistractable and do the activities it recommends (at work and home)

20200101 Indistractable

14. Develop and maintain a daily habit of reading for enjoyment

15. Redesign my study wall as a vision board

16. Have a hearing test

17. Learn to use my graphics tablet

18. Reorganise my sock drawer

19. Take a class in fermentation

20. Repot my orchid

21. Use the sprout jar

22. Commit to (and actually do) a monthly review every month

I know. There are 22 things on that list. Clearly maths isn’t my strong point or I have travelled in time to 2022.

Allow me to elaborate. The monthly review idea comes from Susannah Conway’s Unravel Your Year workbook, which is a lovely thing that Susannah sends out to her email list every year to help you figure out how you want your upcoming year to look. I’ve dabbled with these in the past and shoved them into a folder somewhere. This meant I never followed up what I wrote down in the early days of January and have come back to them 12 months later to find nothing I wanted for the year happened.

I couple of weeks ago I saw a post from a friend on Instagram about her starting her workbook and I commented that I never followed through with mine. She said she found the monthly reviews really good, which got me thinking about how staying more in touch with the book over the year might be key to actually getting the work done.

So I got it spiral bound at the local printers so that it looks more like a book and is a lot easier to carry round and write in than loose pages or putting it in a folder. I’ve been working my way through it over the last couple of days, pulling out some of the key themes to include as things for my 20 for 2020 list.

20200101 Uravel your year

The monthly review is a way for me to remind myself to check in on how I’m doing throughout the year, along with my regular(ish) blog updates.

I just threw the sprout jar in as a thing at the end because it’s been sitting on a shelf looking at me forlornly (almost as forlornly as my sick orchid that is in desperate need of repotting and if anyone knows how to do this please help!) ever since I got it. I figure it’s a small thing to do, one that I have been putting off for months, and if I include it here I might have a chance of actually doing something with it. I didn’t have the heart to bump anything else off the list to make room for it, so there it is. Something I could probably do in five minutes, but it will probably take me six months to actually do.

So there we have it. My brand new list for 2020 with lots of fun and challenging things to do.

19 for 2019: a review

20191101 Sunrise Taroona Beach 6 editIt’s coming up to the end of the year so it’s a good time to reflect on my 19 for 2019 list: what went well and what I didn’t quite do. I haven’t posted for a while because there hasn’t been much to say now. Every week since week 32 would have been much the same: I listened to one of the wellbeing course classes (thing 6), I added some photos to my folio (thing 2) and the sewing machine (thing 10) people still haven’t contacted me. I don’t have the big beautiful photo I imagined I would have (thing 14) and I’ve been dabbling with the photo project (thing 16) but I’m not going to get it finished.

So, let’s review what went well. I finished 14 of the 19 things I set out to do. I have three more classes of the wellbeing course so I might get there before the end of the year and I will have a folio of my favourite images of 2019 but I won’t have edited them or done anything with them.

I’m happy with completing 14 things from the list. I did some things I had been putting off for years, like getting a skin check (thing 4) and I now have a nice skin doctor who wears cool socks and I have reminders to rebook every year.

20190716 After manicure 3

We got manicures

I finished the 31-day photo course (thing 1) in a little longer than 31 days but I did it and at the same time gained a pretty reasonable understanding of how to use Lightroom (thing 19). I had my first manicure (thing 17) and I walked on a track in kunanyi (thing 15). I actually did this twice if being parent help on Kramstable’s bushwalk counts! I walked to Moonah (thing 3) and I filled up my Bucket List journal (thing 18) with not 50 but 100 things, so I also did that thing twice.

20190713 Bucket List Journal

Bucket list journal

I also had a bonus list of things I wanted to do but that didn’t make it onto the final list, so my real 19 for 2019 list was actually 30 things. I completed five of those things and I made a lot of progress on another one, so if you add those five to the 14 from the real list I actually did do 19 for 2019. I just picked the wrong 19!

I did a few other things I had wanted to do for a while too. I had a month off coffee and as a result I am no longer a regular coffee drinker. I didn’t buy anything I didn’t need to actually live for a month. I went alcohol-free for a month. And I almost completed the Bored and Brilliant challenge. I have one exercise to go. I should do it.

20190901 Tree on the Police Building 8-EditOn top of all that, I applied and was accepted into a university course through my work, which I had no intention of doing at the start of the year; it wasn’t even on my radar, but my manager encouraged me and I got seduced by the thought of graduation in a funky gown and a funny hat at the end of next year. So I’m now a uni student for the first time in more than 20 years and while the modules are running there’s little time for anything else. (Sorry, Weekend Wisdom posts.) I did way better in the first module than I ever dreamed possible and have three more modules to go. The last one is a workplace project, which I’m starting to gather some vague ideas about in my head and which might even end up here.

So that’s 19 for 2019 almost done and dusted. Out of all the things I wanted to do, there’s only one that I think was over-ambitious and that’s thing 14, make a photo I am proud of, frame it and hang it on the wall. I imagined that some of the other things, the photo course and learning Lightroom especially, would I have led me to be able to do this. I have a few photos from this year that I really like but none that stand out and say “this is the one”.

20190901 Boats at Derwent Sailing Squadron 14

I hadn’t given this too much thought until today when I was listening to David duChemin’s podcast, A Beautiful Anarchy. In this week’s episode, Learning to Drop, David talks about self-confidence and how if we mis-define the task we have to do, we set ourselves up to fail and, by failing, we fulfil the belief that we can’t do something. He compares it to juggling. If we think the task in learning to juggle is to juggle, we will fail and we will reinforce the belief that we can’t juggle. But the first task in learning to juggle isn’t to juggle, it’s to throw a ball and let it drop. We can do that task. Anyone can do that.

And so it is with creative work. If we identify the task as “I’m going to make a masterpiece” we are setting ourselves up to fail and to believe we can’t do it, because no one makes the masterpiece straight up. It takes a lot of throwing the ball and letting it drop before we can move onto the task of catching the ball. It takes a lot of “failures” and shitty first drafts, a lot of first lines, a lot of overexposed, underexposed, badly composed photographs that don’t go anywhere before we actually make any progress. David says

The creative life is one of failed first efforts. You’re meant to drop the ball so you can concentrate on what it feels like to throw it. Catching isn’t the point. Not yet.

So I think it was a mistake to want to make a masterpiece in a year. I should have focused on the process of creating and making and learning and experimenting and failing, not on the outcome I wanted. And, to some extent, I did that through the course and I want do to more of that in 2020. So there will be no “make a masterpiece” thing in my 20 for 2020.

Just like there will be no “read x books” in 2020 because focusing on the goal rather than the process this year meant that I basically gave up reading after I’d got to the magic number. Not what I wanted to happen when I wanted to develop a reading habit.

I’m going to use 2019 as a learning experience when I put together my 20 for 2020 list.

20191109 OHH-106 Construction House

How about you? Did you have a list of things you wanted to achieve in 2019? How did you go? Are you going to jump on the 20 for 2020 bandwagon with me next year? Let me know in the comments.

Weekend wisdom 6

A weekly review of things that came through my inbox that I found interesting and want to remember.

This week, I found myself annoyed at someone about something they did, or rather, something they didn’t do. The thing about this was that the person would have had no idea that I expected them to do this thing and I had no authority that would require them to do it. Just an expectation that they should behave in a particular way.

As I worked through being irritated and annoyed at them, I realised I was blaming them for me feeling bad, when in reality, they’d done nothing wrong. I was being completely unreasonable, and I eventually figured out that dwelling on this was a waste of my mental space and that I should get on with doing my thing.

Like magic, I got an email covering exactly this topic from the Bold Self Love podcast, which I don’t listen to but I do flip through the transcript if it sounds interesting. The title of this week’s episode was “When Others Disappoint You”, which seemed to be about the feelings I had been processing. And, indeed, it was about exactly that.

The message was that when someone does something, it’s a neutral event but we choose to interpret it in a certain way and it’s our interpretation that causes our negative feelings. We then blame the person because we think their actions caused the feelings rather than recognising that it was our interpretation of their actions causing the feelings. If we’d had a different thought about the event, we could have ended up feeling completely differently about it.

The post goes on to say that we create instruction manuals for people, which are our expectations about how we think they should act and behave and then, when they don’t behave like we think they should, we get upset. The person has no idea we have these expectations and, even if they did know, we don’t get to write their instruction manual—they do. They get to choose how they behave and we get to choose how we behave and we get to choose the meaning we give to everything that happens. For example, hypothetically, my sister didn’t return my call as soon as she got my message. If my “sister manual” includes an expectation that she’ll call me back asap I’m always going to be disappointed if she takes three days to get back to me. If I release this expectation of her and accept she’ll get back to me in her own time, however, I’m not going to be annoyed if I don’t hear from her for a few days.

As I was reading this I realised it applied perfectly to the expectation that I’d had of the person whose behaviour had upset me and that it was up to me to change my thoughts about this, not up to them to change their behaviour. They’re allowed to do their thing, just as I’m allowed to do mine—indeed I can only do mine— so I need to get on with it and forget about what other people are (or aren’t) doing.

20190725 Cool cloud 2

A cool cloud I saw on Thursday

Along similar lines, an email from Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, had a nice take on how to deal with people who put you down.

It can be challenging to deal honorably with others when they come off as judgmental, offensive, or belligerent. So when you find those pesky defenses and negatively charged emotions rising up within you, I want you to remember one simple maneuver that may just keep you sane—reframe it.

When a photographer takes a picture, what he or she includes in the frame makes a big difference. A portrait focuses solely on the face of a particular individual. Similarly, when we find ourselves focused on the actions of one person, that’s all we see. So if they treat us poorly, it fills our view and consumes our attention.

However, if the photographer were to pull back and frame a bigger picture, the person originally photographed would not seem as important in light of the overall scene. When you learn to pull back and reframe a negative interaction, it can make all the difference. You may have a judgmental in-law, but your spouse loves you. Your marriage is good. Your kids are happy. There’s a bigger picture, and you are not enslaved to seeing only one person’s opinion on your life. Same goes for a bossy boss, a complaining coworker, or a negative naysayer on social media.

Reframing your perspective in the midst of conflict could very well help you stay cool, calm, and collected. Remember, keep the negativity of others in its proper place. If there’s truth in it, acknowledge and learn from it—but don’t react to it. The quickest way to do this is to simply reframe it in light of the bigger picture and know their opinion is not the only one that matters.

James Clear had a good piece on what to do when you’re struggling and feel like giving up. I love the concept of the mind as a “suggestion machine”. James says,

Consider every thought you have as a suggestion, not an order. Right now, my mind is suggesting that I feel tired. It is suggesting that I give up. It is suggesting that I take an easier path.

If I pause for a moment, however, I can discover new suggestions. My mind is also suggesting that I will feel very good about accomplishing this work once it is done. It is suggesting that I will respect the identity I am building when I stick to the schedule. It is suggesting that I have the ability to finish this task, even when I don’t feel like it.

This reminded me of last week’s Bold Self Love podcast on self-care, which observed that our brains “like to avoid pain, they like to seek pleasure, and they like to conserve energy, so they’re kind of lazy” so they’re always telling jus to do things that make us feel better. But they want us to feel better right now, which is why our brains encourage us to not exercise, or to over-eat, or to drink too much alcohol, because it will make us feel better in the moment. And she says what we need to do is become aware of when our brain is telling us this and to “replace these thoughts with new thoughts that will lead to new results”.

Along similar lines, an article by Lisa Grace Byrne on integrating self-care into your life rather than it being a thing that you do.

I especially liked this line: “You eat all day, and every meal is an opportunity to support your body, mood and mind toward vitality and wellness” because it’s so obvious when you think about it. Every time you eat something you’re making a choice as to whether you will nourish your body (and mind) or potentially harming it. Every meal is an opportunity to care for yourself.

I love this!

Some other things that got my attention this week were

A piece that really spoke to me that a friend posted on Facebook about having been a smart kid and having been praised for this, but then growing up and not feeling so smart any more

This resonated with me this week as I was reflecting on my school subject choices, the expectations people had had of me at school, where that had led me to, and how my life might have been different if I had followed the dream I’d had in primary school rather than the path well-meaning adults set me on. (Coincidentally, I did an online career quiz recently and my top career result from this was the same thing I had wanted to be in primary school and early high school, before my “smart kid” got sent in another direction entirely.)

Which leads us neatly to James Clear’s five lessons on being wrong.

What is the likelihood that your 22-year-old self could optimally choose the career that is best for you at 40 years old? Or 30 years old? Or even 25 years old? Consider how much you have learned about yourself since that time. There is a lot of change and growth that happens during life. There is no reason to believe that your life’s work should be easily determined when you graduate.

James says:

Given that your first choice is likely to be wrong, the best thing you can do is get started. The faster you learn from being wrong, the sooner you can discover what is right. For complex situations like relationships or entrepreneurship, you literally have to start before you feel ready because it’s not possible for anyone to be truly ready. The best way to learn is to start practising.

So, with that in mind, here are 8 Micro habits that will completely change your photography in a year on the Digital Photography School blog.

And finally, Sean Tucker’s video on doing your own thing and ignoring social media attention.

19 for 2019: week 29

Week of 15 July (week 29)

I’ve had a lovely slow week this week. It’s school holidays and I had four days off work.  Wonderful! It meant I got to spend some time with Kramstable and to do some things for me as well, including finalising a post for my photoblog (I mentioned this in my Weekend Wisdom post) and taking myself to the movies.

One of my 19 for 2019 things was to get a manicure. I’d never had a manicure before this week and I’m not sure what made me want to have one. I never let my nails grow very long and I’m not a nail polish fan. But I do have a couple of friends who have really nice hands and I keep thinking it would be nice to have soft, well cared-for hands rather than chapped ones. So I put it on the list (thing 17).

Kramstable is fascinated by all things nail polish so I asked him if he wanted a manicure too. He did, so I figured it would be a good school holiday activity for us to do together this week. And we did.

I wasn’t sure what would be more difficult for the lovely nail ladies: my ancient hard-as-rock hands with years of cuticle growth, or Kramstable’s small fingers. Bethany, who was working on Kramstable’s hands, said his hands were easy and if I thought that would be hard, try doing a manicure on a three-year-old.

I mentioned to Jessica, who had the unfortunate job of working on my neglected hands, that I had never had a manicure and didn’t take very good care of my hands. She just smiled and said, that’s why you’re here. Indeed. It wasn’t an unpleasant experience and my hands felt and looked very soft afterwards. I mentioned that I had some really old cuticle oil at home and Bethany said get it out, put it by your toothbrush and use it when you brush your teeth.

Great idea! I’m going to do that as part of my evening routine (thing 6) so that next time I go back (because next time I’m going back for the ultimate hand pampering treatment) my manicure will be easier and my hands will look even better.

Quite coincidentally, I learned that that day was a strong “earth” energy day and good activities for earth energy days include “treats and luxuries” so it ended up being a perfectly appropriate day for it.

20190716 After manicure 3

I have been doing horribly on getting to bed on time and on staying hydrated, which are my main wellbeing goals (thing 6). I can’t, hand on heart, say I made any progress on that this week.

But!

I completed the last three assignments for the photo course I started back in December (thing 1). The course was meant to take 31 days. It took eight months!

20190719 Waterfront from Mac 2 03

Never mind, I got there and I learned a lot and certainly know a lot more about Lightroom (thing 19) than I did when I started. I’m also working my way through a book called The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby, which I bought for my Kindle before I started taking the course and had forgotten about. It’s nearly 500 pages long and covers file organisation, which was helpful when I started before I had any clue how any of it worked, as well as having a lot of material on workflow. It has a lot of instruction about dealing with your finished images (printing, publishing and so on), which doesn’t really interest me at the moment.

I’ve flicked through it and I don’t think there’s anything more in there that I need to know to edit 90 per cent of my photos. I think what I need to do now is practise and edit lots of photos. If there’s something I need to learn how to do, I can look it up either in the book or online. There’s no point in going through it now when I don’t need to use it because I won’t remember it and will have to look it up anyway. For the purpose of this being a thing I wanted to do in 2019, I’m happy to call it done. I will never know everything there is to know about Lightroom, but I know enough for what I need. Thing complete.

I edited some photos for my photo project (thing 16) and I added this week’s photos to my 2019 folio (thing 2). And with No-buy July (take 2), I’m up to day 11.

Status for week 29

  • Things completed this week: 3 (1, 17, 19)
  • Things completed to date: 14 (1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19)
  • Things I progressed: 2 (2, 16)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 1 (6)
  • Things not started: 2 (10, 14)