Climb Every Mountain – Unless it’s a Bridge, then Climb Every Bridge!

Above and Beyond

Above and Beyond

I was given a wonderful birthday gift from my brother Matt, and almost-sister-in-law Lan yesterday: the opportunity to tick something off my list of achievements. Together, with the added bonus of Xenia (in disguise as Vicky – her coffee name) we climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was cold and rainy and I ended up with jelly legs and it was absolutely AMAZING! We even made it to the summit before The Rock. Take that Dwayne Johnson!

I’ve lived in and around Sydney for most of my life, and the Bridge was there standing strong and steady every single day. I drove over it. I walked over it. I bused over it, and trained over it. And I took for granted how connected it made us all in the sprawling city that is Sydney. Like everyone else I’d get the shits when traffic flowed too slowly, when someone  had an accident and prevented me from getting where I was going on time. I never really gave a thought to the people who built the Bridge. The ones who worked 7 days a week for 4 years to give me easy access to the city. The ones who hammered in the 6 million chunky rivets by hand. The ones who scaled those heights with no safety harness; no PPE. The ones who fell from it and died a terrible death. All so I could get to the city on time to tick something off my list. To all of them I thank you – and I’ll try really hard not to get the shits with the traffic again. If it wasn’t for you, I couldn’t have made a wish of mine come true.

So what about you? Have you been getting out there and ticking things off your list? Is there a mountain out there that you’ve always wanted to climb? What about a bridge? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do that you can do for yourself today? Or even a step you can take towards something that’s going to take a thousand steps to achieve? Go on, what are you waiting for? Permission? OK, I give you permission. Go have some fun!

And while you’re at it, stop in at Jamie’s Italian and do what we did yesterday; follow Flora’s advice and get yourself some cake. The Epic Brownie with salted caramel popcorn is something you should tick off your list.

Thanks again Matt and Lan, Xenia and Sarah for an Epic birthday. Who needs The Rock with friends and family like you?

In case my 8 seconds of fame doesn’t appear in your email, you can check it out here. Thanks “Vicky” for letting me steal the limelight!

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Yes! We! Can!

 

Victory is ours!

Well I’m back in Sydney, back to work, back to the blog, and ready to take on the world. It was great to escape for the last week or so, do a spot of soul searching, and get ready to take the next step.

The last step was to see out a successful exhibition. What a thrill to witness someone’s idea take form; a spark of imagination transforming into a drawing, morphing into a giant pile of styrofoam and fibreglass, and blossoming into a life-sized blue whale’s heart. Thank you Ronan for the opportunity to witness the unfoldment of your heart. And for the opportunity to get dressed up like a high school chemistry teacher in a backyard meth lab. We sure know how to rock our Personal Protective Equipment!

PPE Has Never Looked So Good!

While I was out of town, I pilfered my brother Daniel’s copy of Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large. In it, William Shatner discusses his rules for living. Amongst these rules you’ll find: Know which conversations require a bulletproof vest; Talk is cheap – unless you can make money with a talk show; Always have a spare set of underwear on hand; and my favourite rule, Say “Yes”. Bill almost always says “yes”. Why?

“Yes” means opportunity. “Yes” makes the dots in your life appear. And if you’re willing and open, you can connect these dots. You don’t know where these dots are going to lead, and if you don’t invest yourself fully, the dots won’t connect. The lines you make with those dots always lead to interesting places. “No” closes doors. “Yes” kicks them wide open.

I can feel an itchy foot, ready to kick a few doors wide open! Already I’m saying “yes” to organising the first Chiron Creative event in August. I’m saying “yes” to setting up an orphanage. I’m saying “yes” to climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge for my birthday. And I’m saying “yes” to falling in love with the unknown, and letting the dots connect in interesting and unforseen ways.

If I set you a challenge, will you say “yes”? Good. Then here’s my challenge to you: Take a pen and paper and write yourself a list of at least 3 things that you’ve always wanted to do. Go on, it’s easy. 3’s nothing. Write them down, and when you realise you can’t stop at 3, write some more. Write as many as you want. See if you can beat me and my 162 things. Now stick that list up somewhere you’ll see it often. Then get out and start kicking!

While you’re pondering the need to invest in some good sturdy steel-capped boots, I’ll leave you with a short cautionary tale called Eat, Fry, Love from the indelible Mr Shatner. As Bill knows, on some occasions it’s better to say “no”. Especially when you’re all out of Personal Protective Equipment!

The Vaguely Vegetarian Option

The Local Yahoo

The Local Yahoo

I’ve only been to Central Australia once. I was 19 years old and I was on a business trip to Darwin when I got to spend an hour sitting in the airport at Alice Springs. I remember it being very flat. And very hot.

If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll probably know that I have a list of things that I want to do before I die. One of those things is to visit Uluru (#144). Another is to sleep under the stars in the outback (#4). It’s been a while since I’ve ticked anything off my list, so I thought I’d contact my good mate Russ, who lives in Alice Springs (if you need a crane he’ll hook you up!) Being the complete ignoramus that I am, I wanted to know when the best time would be to visit the Red Centre. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s now. Perfect weather that’s not too hot, not too cold, just right.

Russ also told me there’s a race-day-rodeo-extravaganzary-thing coming up in August, a few hundred kilometres out of town, that might be a bit of fun. So I consulted my other good mate, Google, who guided me to the amazing looking event website.

It was looking like a lot of fun to me until I saw the “ladies cow tail tossing competition” with a photo of an enormous bloody cow’s tail in mid-flight. That photo completely destroyed my plans to hole up in my local cafe, The Butcher’s Cafe, in fact, with one of their insanely tasty egg and bacon rolls this morning. Instead, I had to deal with my first-world crisis by murdering a few almonds that went into the best damned almond croissant on the planet from Infinity Bakery.

I could murder an almond croissant right now

I could murder an almond croissant right now

So what about you? How do you feel about animals and eating meat? How do you feel about vegetarians? Are you a cow tail tosser?

Throughout my life I’ve gone through periods of vegetarianism and veganism, pescatarianism, lacto-ovo vegoism, carnism and back again. Yesterday I ate a plate full of sushi for lunch. Today I’m taking the vego option. Does that make me a hypocrite? Yes. Do I care? As a matter of fact, I do. I hate hypocrisy. Am I going to go to the race-day-rodeo-extravaganzary-thing? If circumstances allow, yes. Number 161 on my list is to crack a bull whip, and I might have a chance to do so there. BUT, I won’t be tossing any bloody cow tails. Not that the organisers would let me, because I’m not much of a ‘lady’ anyway.

Um… Hello? Can You Hear Me?

 

Open Mic

Is this thing on?

In pursuit of storytelling inspiration, I grabbed a my friend, Xenia last night and headed to the Art House Hotel for a storytelling slam session. ABC’s Radio National holds a bi-monthly open mic night called Now Hear This! And I wanted to hear what This was all about. Being a storyteller with an ENORMOUS fear of public speaking, I thought I’d also challenge myself to get up and tell a story. Next time. Last night was all about research!

So, what I discovered is that you need to be really amazing at maintaining focus, not allowing yourself to be distracted by the live music being belted out in the adjoining bar. If you want to score big on the points, you need to tell a love story if you’re a guy, or tale of tragedy if you’re a girl. If you go first, you will never win. And if you’re an 8 foot tall Amazon woman with the inability to keep still, you shouldn’t sit in front of me because I’ll remember you next time and I’ll make you pay for your misdeeds!

But back to the stories. There were tragic tales of Nullabor Plain crossings, and several stolen goods stories (luggage, computers, unpublished manuscripts). Prose on picking up chicks in the Sistine Chapel. The memoir of a 10 year old Philippino boy who wanted to be a tall skinny Bond girl, and my favourite tale about a smelly ghost. I didn’t have the heart to tell the smelly-ghost-storyteller that her house up on North Head was probably not haunted by a ghost from the nearby Quarantine Station. But the likely culprit was the sewage treatment plant down the road, which was very generously sharing the fragrance of Sydneysiders’ insides with her!

Shhh! Do you smell something?

Shhh! Do you smell something?

As the storytelling slam came to a close and the ferry beckoned to carry me home across the harbour – past the Quarantine Station, in fact – talk turned to something with a much finer fragrance: coffee. Xenia let me in on a little secret of hers when it comes to ordering coffee. It’s something that makes the whole coffee experience that much more delicious. She uses a coffee name.

“What the hell is a coffee name?” I asked.

“Well, you know how they ask you what your name is when you order your takeaway coffee? It’s really annoying because they always get your name wrong because of all the noise, and they never understand my Hungarian accent. They end up calling me Zena or Anya, and I can’t be bothered trying to spell out X-E-N-I-A because they’ll get it wrong anyway. So I tell them my name’s Vicky. Now, every morning when I come in to buy my coffee, it’s all ‘Hi Vicky’, ‘Here’s your coffee Vicky’, ‘Have a good day Vicky’.”

“That’s hilarious!” I said. “So, what’s your boyfriend, David’s coffee name?”

“Guido!”

And with that, I boarded the ferry, safe in the knowledge that when I heard the barista call out “Heidi” in the morning, my coffee would be good to go.

Quick! Get the Camera!

 

Snap Happy

Thank God and the Queen for long weekends. But damn them both for not making long weekends last even longer!

I’m back home, easing back into ye olde routine after a long weekend on the beautiful mid-North Coast. I had my camera out happily snapping, and ticking things off my list. As of today The List has 160 items, 3 of which have been crossed off, 6 are in motion, and there’s space for 40 more so I can tick off item #100 – Add another 100 things to the growing behemoth!

On Friday I ticked #86 off the list by visiting a butterfly farm. I know, it’s small and cheesy but it’s great motivation to keep pushing ahead with some of the bigger, more impressive items like #94 – Take a photo a day, every day for a year. Or #19 – Be my own boss.

#86

#86

When it comes to writing your own list, don’t let small and cheesy or big and impressive stop you. Go all out! List everything! What have you always wanted to do? Make one of you mum’s prized recipes? Me too! (#102). Go cheese rolling in Gloucester? Me too!! (#106). Drive across the US in a black 1967 Chevy Impala following the trail of Sam and Dean Winchester? Wouldn’t you know it?! Me too!!! (#84). Dream big, my friend! Dream big. Dream small. Just dream. And write it down. Write it down and share it with a friend. Write it on your blog. Send it out there into the world. Then pick one thing on that list and tick the hell out of it. Then pick another. Then another.

And be on the lookout for ticking opportunities that start finding their way to you as your tick-fest gathers momentum. Be open to ticks turning up in disguise, or as part of a package deal. Don’t assume that #39 “Be a Superhero for a day” is only going to happen when you go out and hire a nice tight Batman costume. It might. But it might happen when you save the day in another way – telling someone just the thing they needed to hear to get them through the day; finding a child’s lost teddy bear; doing the dishes! Just as items #19, #26, #35, #127, #148, #151 & #160 are all being tethered together as I sally forth to conquer #6.

Have you written a list yet? If not, I truly, madly, deeply recommend it. There’s nothing more satisfying than ticking something off it. You don’t need to write a list of 100 things, or a list of 1,000. Just start with 1 and see where that takes you.

And send me a copy!

 

Everyday Inspiration

What inspires you to get out of bed every day? Every day? Even on days like the ones we’ve been having in Sydney of late. The ones where  hefty grey clouds dump their loads on a far too frequent basis. The wind whips up and blows the rain in under your umbrella. Sydney’s sideways rain. I’m not a fan! But it can make for interesting attempts at getting out of your comfort zone, getting out of your pyjamas, and getting your creativity on.

Rain & Drain

Rain & Drain

To fire up my creativity I’ve been taking a photo a day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a photographer. I’m all about the point and click! But pointing and clicking has found me 43 days into taking a photo a day, every day for a year – #94 on my list of things to achieve in this lifetime. It’s bulking up my flacid creative neural networks, making me more aware of the inspiration to be found in everyday things, and more alert to creative opportunities that spontaneously appear, like #137 on my list: photograph a double rainbow.

 

Double Rainbow

Double Rainbow

Chantelle over at Fat Mum Slim has some fantastic photo a day challenges to play with. I’d encourage you to check them out. Especially if you’re struggling to drag yourself out of bed today. And if that doesn’t help, maybe this little video will. It’s the ultimate in double rainbows.

 

I’m running away to join the Circus!

What do you do when you get writer’s block? Or painter’s block? Or sculptor’s block? Is there a magic cure-all for the dreaded stagnation that ensues when your muse runs away to join the circus? My muse up and left me several years ago after a particularly harsh review. I wandered the streets calling her name, “Stella!” Only to hear the lonely sound of nothingness in response. All that wandering led to THE CORPORATIONS – my arch nemeses of creativity – and a sense of emptiness that constantly threatened to consume me.

But it’s not all bad, because the corporations did lead to a trip to the circus. Not my trip, mind you. Somebody else’s. And on his way to Cirque du Soleil he told me (and a bunch of other corporate-types) his story. Have you heard of Sebastian Terry and his list of 100 things? If you haven’t, you should! Seb inspired the bejesus out of me when he told his tale at a sales conference I attended last year. A lost soul wandering the world, Seb wrote himself a list of 100 things that he wanted to achieve in his lifetime, and promptly went forth and conquered. He’s living life on his terms, ticking incredible achievements off his list, and helping others to do the same. AND he’s written a book about it!

100 Things Talk

Meeting Seb at his 100 Things Talk – Item #126 on my list – TICK!

If like me, you’ve been suffering from any kind of block, be it writer’s, painter’s or even a life block, take a leaf out of Seb’s book and write yourself a list. Write yourself a dirty big list (or clean little list) and share it with a friend or two. You’ll be surprised at what happens when you write your dreams down on paper and start taking steps towards them. Even if they’re baby steps. Even if they’re micro steps. It’s not long before your muse will hear your footsteps and turn around to meet you. And she’ll often bring her friends. And they’ll bring their friends. And before long you’re writing again, pulling together a creative business and working on an art exhibition!

Joseph Campbell said:

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.

I say:

Stella, get our sequinned leotards ready. I’m gonna join you at the circus!