No more stranger-danger.

We grow up being told never take lollies from a stranger, never get in the car with a stranger and never talk to a stranger.

The meaning behind the repetitive phrases from our parents, our school teachers, and our baby sitters seem to finally kick in at about the age of 6. Before then we are still excited little kids with an endearing trust in everything and anything.

I was sitting in the park the other day with a friend and a little girl, who was about the age of 4, was running around openly absorbing the world with her eyes. She stopped, picked up a headband that was a few meters away from us, and in a surprisingly mature and unintimidated manner casually asked if it was ours. It wasn’t. Which we politely told her. She put the pink headband back down, exactly where she had found it. And walked away. No stranger-danger for her.

Sadly this ease of communicating with strangers doesn’t last.

For the next 15 years of our lives (sometimes more) we avoid ever having to talk more than mumble a few words to strangers. Whether it be in the video shop, the supermarket or to the couple asking for directions. I do understand the need to be alert – there are bad people around with unwelcome agendas – but I feel we have taken it a little far.

It takes most of us at least into our 20’s to become comfortable enough to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger.

To have the confidence that not every single man in the street is a pedophile. All those years of being told the stranger is an enemy is a hard belief to destroy. To try and bring ourselves back to the same raw state that we entered the world in is tough – to that of a trusting human being.

Today I think I have shed most of my stranger-fearing scales. But it was, and still is, a conscious mission. I do see now that great things can come out of talking to new people, which I have thought about in a previous post. But today I am really encouraging the fall of stranger-danger.

This photo was taken as part of a ‘professional’ Yammer photo shoot. As you can see, we encourage people to talk to strangers which I think is awesome. I am definitely in the right place.

*This photo was also taken by the wonderful photographer Alan who happens to be @bryonycole‘s Dad – you can find out more about him over here.

 

For the month of March I am writing a blog post every day as part of #b03. Thanks to Steve for the challenge.

Playing words with real friends.

I am a bit of a geek. I love word games. Like millions of other people I got slightly addicted to words with friends. I love that it is an app that doesn’t rot brain cells (read: angry birds) and something you can whip out whenever you have a dull moment – train, dentist waiting room, over a coffee. But lately I have played more of the app type of word game rather than the real life ones. And tonight I got a lovely reminder.

Real life games are fun.

I had forgotten how much better trying to make words out of a random batch of letters is when you are with others and not flying solo squinting at your phone. It is hard to beat sitting around the table with friends and family, feeling content after a good meal and a couple of glasses of red and playing some competitive scrabble. The sort of board game competitiveness that can only come out in a crowd that you know well. Swearing over a Q, three A’s in a row or trying to get away with LOL as a word. It is a chance to get some of the real life connectedness that too often gets missed these days.

Apps are great, but so are dinner parties and board games. Put down the phone and play word games with real friends. Anyway the app practise pays off and people actually get to see you win. If old school connection doesn’t draw you in, surely winning in front of the home crowd does.

The search for continuous improvement not the holy grail.

People often ask me why they are not improving their running, getting stronger, or losing more weight. They are exercising regularly, have a routine and stick to it. They run a 5km loop 3 times a week. But are not getting any faster. Or fitter. Or better. And they do not understand why.

I say it is all about adaptation.

The body needs to be in a state of stress to be forced to change. It needs to be challenged in order to adapt and improve. If you always run the same loop or always do the same gym session, you do not need to improve in order to complete it, so you won’t. They body is smart. And so is the mind.

Exactly the same thing applies to your mental capacity.

If you do the same mundane job day after day, there is not need for adaption or improvement so you will continue along the same monotonous path.

Without a mental or physical challenge you will stay exactly as you are. No need to change.

Some people are fine with that. Happy with their current state of monotony. For others the search for continuos improvement is what drives us to enter a marathon, start a new job or learn a language. Just a we get all our projects under control we decide to start a new one. I always thought that I was just a busy person who liked a challenge. Just as I became good at something I would stop it and move onto something else. I would accept a role that I knew would challenge me or decide to play a sport that I wasn’t very good at. All for the process of adaptation. Purposefully putting myself through the flailing, learning stage to come out the other end stronger, more skilful, faster and well… just better I guess. Some people say that I like to suffer but I say I am just in search of continuous improvement.

There is only one of me and I want to be the best version possible.

You should try it too.

Sleep tight: Think about what you have done, not what you haven’t.

At the moment I am feeling really busy. A little overwhelmed. A little challenged. Always slightly behind where I want to be. Not uncomfortably out of control but if I had a to do list it would be getting longer not shorter.

So conveniently enough today Steve blogged about getting things done  and making stuff happen. Handy. Just what I needed. He refers to the Getting Things Done methodology and books by David Allen. Which ironically enough is one of the three books that I currently have on the go…. something which I am sure breaks many of his rules about how to actually get things done. Carrying multiple half read books around in my bag, all niggling at the back of my mind to be finished. Not good.

But my favourite part of Steve’s post, and his concluding line, was to talk about the things that you have done, instead of the things that you haven’t.

So instead of going to sleep tonight thinking about all the jobs I have to follow up tomorrow, the friends that I didn’t call over the weekend, the run that I didn’t do, the house plans that are not out of council, the car that needs to be serviced, and the books that I haven’t finished. I am going to think about the wedding I made it to in Adelaide yesterday, the 18 blog posts I have written every day of March, the research papers I have handed in for my Masters, the learnings and insight I have already gained from my new job, the logo I designed for a side project and the website I am building for my Dad. I have done HEAPS! Awesome. Sleeping tight now. Thanks Steve.

A card of sincerity…

As I sit here writing my blog (which has just taken a dramatic topical turn), my partner is attempting to write a card for the wedding we are attending this afternoon.

He wants to write something that sounds, and is sincere. For weddings I find this difficult. The typical lines slot their way into the heart felt card, which manages to remove all sincerity:

You make a beautiful couple.

Thank you for choosing to share your wedding day with us.

We are so excited to be part of your special day.

You certainly have luck on your side with the perfect weather… not that you need it!

Here’s cheers to a fabulous future.

Blah blah blah.

 

Even if you do really mean the words within these corny lines, they devalue themselves as they have been overworked. Maybe I have just attempted to write too many wedding cards lately.

I have never been on the receiving end of the wedding card train, but if I feel like this writing the card, I can only imagine the monotony of having to read it 100 times over. I do not intend to be a cynical unwed lass, I just like things that are unique, from the heart and with character. And it is difficult to capture that in the congratulations-on-your-wedding spiel.  A home-made card usually  helps tone it down… but today we left our run a little late.  Maybe instead we can whip up a wedding rap or something… time to work on the card. We have to earn the afternoon at the winery. Yeehaa.

Mental palate preparation.

The power of the mind is amazing. We all know that. But usually it is in reference to things like healing, athletic ability, telepathy or deja-vu. But it is also overwhelming powerful at preparing the palate for food. As old Pavlov’s dogs will attest – when we know something tasty is on the way, we salivate. We mentally prepare our tastebuds for the sweet refreshing sensation of pineapple. And when we take that first bite and discover that it is instead a triangle of cheddar cheese. Our tastebuds retract in horror. Even though usually they actually quite enjoy a chunk of cheese. It is all about expectations and what our mind has prepared us for.

The cheese incident is a true story and happened last night as I was about to enjoy a Martini. My good friend Luke also was all set to eat a green glazed cherry that turned out to be a pickled onion. Talk about the mind playing tricks and a shock and a half. Or maybe we should just not have ordered Australian vegemite martinis in the first place.

*This photo is THE Martini from last night – who would guess that was cheese and an onion? Definitely pineapple and a cherry… yes?

I also had a similar instance when I was younger. I remember my mum picking me up and passing me a water bottle which I thought was full of water. Being a thirsty child I chugged back the water. Which turned out to be lumpy. And sweet. I spat it out. It was disgusting. But the worst shock came when I found out what it actually was. A nice cold pre-mixed bottle of Milo. What a lovely Mother. And I loved Milo. But because my pre-emptive controlling taste buds were only prepping themselves for water, they retorted at the thought of Milo. So strange. The amazing power of the mind. Important not to forget what our mind can control.

 

For the month of March I am writing a blog post every day as part of #b03. Thanks to Steve for the challenge.

The power of the lazy me.

I slept in this morning. It was too dark and rainy and cold looking outside (although it was actually hot…) and well I was just plain lazy. So when my alarm went of at 6am I turned it off and planned to roll over and go back to sleep. But that didn’t happen. I kept thinking – “I should go. Get up. I don’t want to go. I should go. Get up. I don’t want to go.” You get the idea. A little internal monologue that goes around in circles. Next thing I know it was 7am, so naturally I turned on my computer, checked my email and made a cup of tea.

Usually my motivational voice wins and I get out of bed. Go for a run or swim or to the gym. Come home, pat myself on the back, feel pumped for the day and really enjoy breakfast and a coffee.

So why is it that even when we know the rewards are great, we still can’t snap our lazy selves out of bed? No injuries, not sick, not particularly tired… just lazy. Where is the logic in that. When we know that the benefits greatly out way the costs but we continue to lie still and pretend to be fast asleep. Not logical. Not results driven. Just stubborn. We then have that smug, guilty niggle that proudly sits on our shoulder all day.

Sometimes the power of the lazy me is just too strong. 

After 9 hours of self motivation and internal pep talking. I ended up running after work. In a thunderstorm. And it felt great. But man I hope the lazy me quietens down. Self-motivation can be draining.

 

For the month of March I am writing a blog post every day as part of #b03. Thanks to Steve for the challenge.

Bring your other, care-free travel self to work.

When you are travelling you make more friends, get offered more opportunities, stumble on more good luck and in general just have more fun. Does this actually all happen because you are in a sunny, care-free place with palm trees or simply in an open and welcoming mental space?

I often wonder if the people that you befriend when you are on holidays would act the same if you met them in their home environment.

Would they be the same person, or are they a care-free travel version of their real self?

I do think that the holiday mode kicks in, and because you have less time constraints, less structure and generally less on your mind, you are more open to distraction in everyday activities. Sometimes this distraction can be chatting to the person sitting beside you on the bus, asking for advice or directions from a stranger at the traffic lights or talking to the waitress in a restaurant. All these interactions that you would usually avoid because you are busy thinking about the next thing you have to do, can lead to opportunities. Whether it be discovering a new place, learning something about the history of a town or trying a new type of food. All which are exciting and adventurous and open up a new little pocket of your mind.

So why is it then that when we are home, set in our routine, we close ourselves off to these opportunities?

It is almost like we are too busy to let any interaction deter us from the path that we are on so we keep our eyes down just incase. We become a less approachable and disinterested version of our holiday self. Last week I wrote a post about how sometimes being a little lost is good for us. This is the same concept. But in an everyday approach. Trying to bring some of that carefree attitude to your ‘normal’ life.

Allowing your holiday self to enter into your working day life will also lead to opportunities. Being open to deterrence can result in great things.

I ended up on a deserted island in the Andaman Sea, sleeping in a hammock and eating coconuts all because I was in holiday mode and that turned out pretty well. Just imagine what could happen if I brought that welcoming mental space to work… especially with online collaboration tools, my Mac Air and a love of the cloud.  Ah the possibilities…

For the month of March I am writing a blog post every day as part of #b03. Thanks to Steve for the challenge.

The Fig.

An interesting, sweet, versatile, perhaps confused, odd looking and weirdly expensive fruit when fresh.

Normal to some people and completely foreign to others. I am one of those kids that grew up with a mum that loves figs. Fresh figs, dried figs, figs in savouries, figs in sweets. So they were never strange to me. But I have many mates who screw up their face at a dried fig and have never seen a fresh one. Strange. I do also find it odd how much you pay for a fresh fig. At the moment they are in season. You can buy them separately at the fruit shop for around $2 each. The season is short and the life span mini. I mean they are tasty, but they are still just a fruit.

Anyway, lucky for me, we have a tree. So at the moment, so many figs we do not know what to do with them (if times get tough – perhaps sell them for $2 each in the old school, lemonade stall nature strip  style. But not yet).

Instead, this morning I had some figs on home-made muesli for breakfast, and then tonight I made some fig, lemon and rosemary pasta. Easy. Tasty. And shareable. So here goes…

Making Fig pasta

Pick some rosemary sprigs. Grate a lemon for its rind then squeeze it. Slice some figs into quarters. Chop up some garlic. Fry up some pine nuts. Make bread crumbs out of three slices of real bread,  then fry it up in a pan till crispy.

Fry the garlic in some oil. Add the figs. Add the rosemary. Add the lemon rind.

Cook some fettucini. Strain the fettucini. Put the fettucini in a bowl, pour over the lemon juice. Add all the tasty bits. Voila.

Or another Fig option…

Perhaps if you have to pay $2 a fig you would prefer not to make them into a pasta sauce. Instead try cutting them in half, putting some blue cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on top and sliding them under the griller. Another tasty option for Mr versatile Fig that can sit in either the pre or post dinner category. Not bad at all.

*On a side note I do feel slightly strange that  I dedicated my whole blog post to figs. But that is the beauty of a blog. And of sharing. And of the Fig I guess.

For the month of March I am writing a blog post every day as part of #b03. Thanks to Steve for the challenge.

Why wearing lycra with the work crowd is a good idea.

I like to be outdoors. I like fresh air. And I like to bond with my work pals. As much as I like to share a beer or glass of vino with colleagues and business partners sometimes I think it is good to mix it up and do some bonding over exercise.

5 reasons why I wear lycra with the work crowd:

1.  People let down their guard and remember it the next day.

2.  You earn respect that does not tarnish your professional reputation.

3.  Once people see you in your running gear you don’t worry so much about what you wear to work.

4.  If there is an awkward moment you just focus on running or riding or boxing. Superb.

5.  You actually wake up feeling good the next day.

Strong and real relationships are founded when you share a bit of exercise in the outdoors. I can vouch for that. And a good career needs good working relationships. So time to get networking in lycra.