First Confest

My Confest was a delightfully relaxing experience. I gave two workshops, attended two and did some work as a volunteer. Beyond that I was able to completely let go of the need to organise, facilitate, coach, or be switched on to all that was going on around me other than to be a good friend to my friends, connect with new people and have great conversations.

As much as it had been described to me by friends who knew I’d want to go, I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t expect such density. I expected a bit more nudity, and a few more outlandish costumes (maybe that’s a different festival) but I didn’t expect so many tents so close together. 

I mentioned to a friend that I went to the bush to get away but usually there aren’t that many humans around. I experienced having far more people around than I’m used to, especially working for myself and spending lots of time working from home. Perhaps that’s what had me go into a bit of introvert mode. A bit overwhelming, not in a bad way, lots of lovely things and people to see and experience but taking it all in, well, that’s a feat I’ll leave to my subconscious! 

Hanging Out With an Amazing Toddler

I had an opportunity to spend some time with little Diddle, the daughter of a friend, for a couple hours as her parents spent quality time together at the massage tent. I got to be on the edge of the love bestowed upon her as she went around melting hearts with her adorable self. She’s 20 months and very independent.

I was super impressed when we came back from our walk (where she completely forgot about her parents absence) and she helped me pack down my tent. She took the pegs out of the ground (knowing she was capable after seeing her pull up the solar lights stakes the day before) put them in the peg bag, took things out of my tent that I asked for and when I handed her an empty biscuit tray and asked her to hang on to it for recycling, she took it over to the bag I’d put other recycling in and put it in there on her own volition, she’s not even 2 yet! Smart one!

Self Organised Chaos

It felt like a real see saw of letting go and self organisation. There were lots of dirty dishes left in the communal kitchen waiting for someone else to do them or when the person who put them there got back to them, eventually. 

People came to let go and be free to be themselves, express parts of themselves they feel inclined to. It could be their nature loving self, magical self, yogi self, primitive skills self, mud tribe self, conspiracy theorist, peacenik, nudist, masseur, drummer, dancer, fire tender, tarp erector, gate keeper, the list is endless but you won’t find much in the way of the corporate self, the suit wearing, conformist, duty bound, obliged employee. This is what many people come to Confest to escape. Some, strictly based on appearance and stereotyping, it appears, that was never their world. I noticed myself looking at them, wondering how they earn a living. And then, told myself to let go of assumptions and judgment. But I still wonder.

What else did I learn. Oh yes, when i was so chilled and relaxed a few people asked me if i was ok, my response was that this is what being relaxed looks like. I didn’t feel compelled to fit into social norms about polite conversation and engagement, I simply allowed myself to be. To be introverted, to be with out an agenda and wander around the site checking out the various spaces, meeting random people, many of whom I hadn’t seen in years. It was lovely to connect with people and share with them that it was my first time at Confest.

Many looked at me with disbelief. Many expected I’d be a seasoned Confester. And it’s true, there’s a big part of me that is an earth loving hippie that craves community beyond the confines of normal society. 

And there’s a part of me that has made assumptions that once I go to Confest, I won’t be able to re-discover that corporate suit wearing part of me. Oh, do I even want to find that part of myself? Well, there’s a place for it, as much as there’s a place for the self organised chaos of Confest, there is a place for the office towers of disengaged workers and occasional pockets of innovative and creatives businesses. 

I do want to work with them, I do want to help the disengaged workers alter the culture of their workplace, and inspire new ways of doing business. So I don’t need to let that go, and I can put on the suit (like the women at FOW) if it feels like the thing that will help me support a company to change the culture that will help bring some of the self organising creativity that confest is known for. Even if it’s only a drop, as we know a single drop of oil can significantly alter a bucket of water. 

Will I return next year and let my freak flag fly, you can count on it. 

5 Learnings and a Reflection from FUTURE OF WORK Conference

I attended the Future of Work Conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre recently. It was a gathering of a diverse array of organisational psychologists, researchers, co-working enthusiasts, tech junkies, futurists, employers of choice, entrepreneurs, educators and students.

There were about 200 people in attendance and took advantage of all the mod cons of events. Several keynote speakers were present, not via satellite but via Cisco’s teleconferencing technology. They were sponsors and as a result were able to see and hear Guy Kawasaki, Lynda Gratton, and Dave Evans the Futurist from the USA and UK.

The hashtag for the conference, #FOW2014 was prominently displayed and tweets posted on screens outside the plenary room. These days it’s normal for people to be at a talk and be paying attention to a glowing screen in their lap rather than the speaker. Tweeting quotes from the presentation, posting pictures of slides, even asking questions and having dialogue with other participants. This was new for me and I got right into it, more on that shortly, but first, my learnings.

FOW Conference – that’s my blonde head in the middle.

Some of the things I learned:

1) With advances in nano technology and medicine we’ll likely start to live even longer. Organs are already being generated using donor tissue and 3D printers. WEIRD! 

What does this mean for human relationships? Perhaps we’ll start to question the validity and modern relevance of monogamy even more, brining my relationship coaching for opening up to multiple relationships even more in demand. How exciting, sort of! 

Note to self: Let go of the last shreds of shame and caginess associated with incorporating this skill into my professional repertoire.

2) Even when there are forward thinking ideas that go beyond divisiveness, once a discussion on collective intelligence gets oriented around the lack of diversity and inequality, discussion can easily get bogged down in the wrongness aspect of right and wrong. 

Note to Organisers: Be clear about the desired outcomes of a session so that session facilitators are empowered and enabled to steer the conversation towards productive discussion before it goes down the rabbit hole. And participants can balance spontaneously generated responses without taking it on a track that goes way off topic and brings down the whole room. 

3) Twitter is a great way to have conversations during plenary sessions. I am generally not a big tweeter but have found events to be the place I seem to engage most and this conference took my tweeting to a whole new level. Initially tweeting quotes or concepts from a talk, then reflections and questions. 

I especially enjoyed watching the person in front of me retweeting me from their iPad mini! The questions and reflections of other participants were fascinating and particularly questions from @JWatersLynch. The dialogue generated from that was rich and provocative. Another pleasant surprise, when I managed to start including the twitter handle of the speakers, I found I got responses and gratitude for my tweets, it sure makes the world feel smaller and more connected when you can engage at that level! 

Note to Organisers: Include speakers twitter handle and hashtags in presentation/session title slides. 

4) Emailing people you met with a personal note about your interaction is an important follow up action. In one interaction I learned that Google Plus is the social media of business, and a place to put a bit more attention to. Sadly I’ve been unable to incorporate it into Hootsuite. Another interaction I mentioned a company doing similar work to the person so I sent him the name of the company and offered to introduce him to my contact there. I love being a connector. Feels good to bring people together and be completely unattached to the outcome! 

5) When presenter doesn’t purport to have all the answers and asks the audience, it beautifully generates interaction and cultivates wisdom from the group. I loved having the opportunity to contribute when the question of how to make it safe for a group to talk about difficult issues. I just finished teaching a course where the unanimous feedback about our ability to create safety in the group was affirming and heartwarming. 

I piped up with ‘creating a group agreement’ and ‘modeling vulnerability’ to give the group permission to be vulnerable. For example to ensure we stick to the timeline and intention I might cut off a conversation, that’s hard to do, and is a courageous and vulnerable act that has potential risk for the group and my credibility as a facilitator.

It’s something I don’t take lightly. In the past I’ve done it quite delicately yet it was not well received. Since then I’ve had that in the back of my mind when I step in to end a discussion. Thankfully it doesn’t stop me but I’m present to the risk and feel vulnerable doing it. In response to the presenter asking the audience, I talked a bit about powerful vulnerability and how it creates space for transformative moments in groups. This is something I’m quite passionate about. I loved the speakers response, wanting to quote what I just said for the book she’s writing! Can you say ‘ego boost’?!?!

At the end of the conference I was approached by someone looking for a facilitator. We had a conversation that felt like a strong lead. I am delighted and will be following that one up on Monday. Update: I have a meeting next week to find out about the scope to form a proposal. Thrilled with this outcome! 

Last thing of note. Women are caught in a fashion trap. Two of the presenters, one keynote, another in a break out session, appeared to be dressing for the perceived opinions of others. It really felt like they wore what they thought would be acceptable or expected rather than something that expressed their style and personality. This was disappointing on a number of levels. I felt sad for them and wondered what they’d wear if they felt more free to be themselves. I found the attire distracting, noting ill fitting pants or what appeared to be an intentionally let down hem line that was trimmed with lace, antithetical to the stark lines of the styling. 

Why? Why do women who are clearly in positions of power, being asked to speak at a leading conference, why do they still think they have to please someone else? 

I was also disappointed in the feeling that I didn’t have more allies in my recent decision to let go of other expectations and wear what feels right to me. I want more women to express themselves for their own sake, for what has them feeling great, rather than stuff themselves into some preconceived notion of what they should look like. Really, if that’s not the future, I don’t want to go there. Let’s create a future of acceptance, of personal leadership, of pushing the boundaries, respectfully while expressing who we are. It’s our own uniqueness that is a critical part of what we have to offer the world. Let’s step into that fully. If that’s not powerful vulnerability, I don’t know what is!! I admire the people who can wear clothes that augment their individuality and remain stylish. I want more of that in the workplace! 

In essence what I learned is that the future is coming at us, and fast! And that its up to us to create our future, both in terms of how we as a society, relate to technology or integrate it in a way that advances our social development and in terms of getting clear about what we want to do with ourselves and finding ways to make that work. My own entrepreneurial journey has been a profound learning journey and I continue to try new things and learn from them and come up against my own perceived limits and clash against my beliefs about being able to earn a living doing what I love. But ultimately the conference affirmed for me that as the future hurtles toward us, it’s up to me to find my way, and make my way into the world of work, doing what I love and loving what I do. 

Next Steps in Exploring the Mind

It’s no secret that I’m fascinated by how our minds work, what motivates change and the power of our subconscious mind. So it won’t surprise you to know that I recently trained as a hypnotherapist. Many of us know how to take really good care of ourselves, we’ve done the courses, learned the skills, and down our own research, yet often we don’t do what we know to do to maintain optimal health and wellbeing. Why?

What part of us neglects our self-love regime and sits in front of the TV eating crap? It seems so contrary to the image of our competent adult-self that makes wise choices, nurturing our self-esteem and standing in our power. We are more influenced by our surroundings and upbringing than we know, yet we need not be confined to limiting beliefs that sit beneath the level of our conscious awareness. subconscious

There are many ways to release ourselves from the grip of this conditioning. I have explored many of them. The one I am really interested in right now is, surprise, surprise, hypnotherapy!  It allows for direct communication with the subconscious mind. The part that actually controls the vast majority of what we do, especially our habits. It feels mysterious, but it can be very effective. Some of the influencing factors include suggestibility, level of trance, number of sessions.

My own experience has been that I have experienced improved memory since doing the hypnotherapy course. Part of our learning was to write a hypnotic suggestion for ourselves, I wrote about improving memory, clarity of mind and being able to grasp complex concepts and easily convey them to others. Instead of needing to refer back to the specials board at Cider House, I could remember the details of the ingredients and features. I was impressed with myself! And overall, my memory and mental clarity have improved.

I have begun practising and learning about what works, using different inductions and suggestion tests (to determine hypnotizability). As I explore this territory I am offering sessions at a very low rate, just under half of my regular coaching rate. If you have something you want to know if hypnosis can help, get in touch. I do complimentary consultations for up to 20 min by phone, Skype etc. At the end of April I will be doing Thursday afternoons Thornbury and Monday mornings in Carlton for those who want to give it a go. Stay tuned for more on that and on my new website. Or contact me for a consultation.

The areas of focus I plan to pursue with this work include stress management and performance enhancement, especially for entrepreneurs and students. Watch this space!

Day 31!!!! Self love challenge complete!

It’s the final day of the blog component of the self love challenge. The practices will continue for who knows how long! For as long as it seems useful. Although I am noticing subtle shifts, it feels like a long way to go to significantly improve my relationship with myself, impact my self worth and alter my day to day existence.

I have really enjoyed this challenge, especially writing every day. Although this is my heart-mesecond blog challenge, this is the first one that was self initiated and one I felt I fully owned. I certainly have experienced a shift in how I relate to my blog, including more personal experiences and events. I’ve been reluctant to bring that into a public space but from the feedback I’ve had, it’s mostly people I know reading this anyway. I’m not yet at the stage where people not known to me are reading my blog and keeping my distance isn’t going to change that.

Today I got my hair cut. A few hours later after accomplishing a big task I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and felt very appreciative and delighted! Interesting that I find it easier to be self loving in the mirror when I have short hair. I was saying to the hairdresser that when it gets too long I stop recognising myself as an expression of how I feel. I get a lot of people saying they like my hair when it gets longer, I really don’t like it at all! It just doesn’t feel like me.

So on this last day it feels appropriate to share some of the key things I have learned.

  • Some meditation is better than no meditation.
  • I know I’m doing well when I do several of my practices. Yoga is a given, plus meditation, plus writing or mirror work, reading etc. The more of these I do, the higher the indication that I’m in a good space.
  • Conversations with others help me see things I can’t see on my own, put things into perspective and illuminate progress.
  • Repeating the “I love myself” mantra is a practice that is worth sticking with, and staying present for. The longer I do it, the closer I get to actually experiencing self generated self love.
  • When the self love practice becomes reality in the moment, it feels sweet, nurturing and like I’m getting a really nice hug. This is something to cultivate.
  • I’ve come a long way and I have a long way to go!

Thanks for all your support. Your comments really make a difference, even on past posts. Feel free to read the others if you haven’t and let me know what you think, what difference it makes to you. With deep gratitude for your attention and support!

Day 30: Standing tall

I’ve been watching videos of when I was a baby. I’ve seen them before but not for at least 10 years. My mom sent them to me on DVD from Canada. Lots of me learning to walk. I look a bit like a zombie with my arms out.

A metaphor emerged from watching the film. As I fell down and got back up, there was always someone to help, my parents, my aunt, my cousin.  Sometimes I’d get back up on my own, sometimes I’d wait and look around for someone to help me up. When I was all bundled up in snow gear, I would make a bit of a game out of falling back down after being propped up. I even did a faceplant in the snow and didn’t seem to be too fussed.Jacket_Picture

It had me thinking about my life now, especially my entrepreneurial ventures. It’s all about standing up and falling down and getting back up again. What I learned from watching myself as a toddler was that help is never far away. I can use it or not, and when it’s not as easy to get back up, it’s a really good idea to let someone help me. I am getting better at this and I think it will be a theme this year, collaborating with people and being more open to the contributions of those around me. And even seeking out the support that will get me standing tall.

In conversation with a client today, I asked about what she could do to transition out of being disempowered. I loved her answer, “Straighten my back.” Just yesterday I was reaping the benefit of that, how a simple posture shift can alter one’s experience. What a remarkable gift our body is. Feeling grateful and self-loved up!

Day 29: Back at it

Back on track, yoga with “I love myself” mantra, meditation, mirror work (ok a loving glimpse!) and the mantra much more present in my mind in the last 24 hours. I was a bit surprised to go a whole day without it yesterday! I’ve been in service mode, with a friend staying with me because she’s unwell. I actually quite enjoy being of service, it feels purposeful, tho at times I lose myself and my practices!

After some co-working via skype I was wiped and went down for a rest. Could have stayed but after what felt like a couple of hours, I got up and started cleaning the kitchen and prepared some food for my guest. As soon as I started into it my tiredness loosened it’s grip, and a sense of purpose felt quite strong. self-love2

In my meditation I noticed a lot of oscillation from warm fuzzy self love to neutral numbness, almost mindlessly repeating the mantra, and then more sweetness and self nurturing feelings. I think the resistance was just under the surface of the neutrality and greater focus could have brought more of the warm fuzzy. Being present was also an issue. My mind is SO all over the place, it starts writing this blog post, thinking about today’s conversations, what’s on for tomorrow, what else I could be doing….. and then reminding myself to be present and adding “& I’m present” to the mantra!

I noticed as I became present to my body that I was hunched over. I straightened up and was brought back to the experience of improving my posture in the early part of the meditation when I was filling my body with light. And the same experience came to mind, erect posture brings light filled body. Yes, more of that please!

I have two days left of this blog challenge. I’m really quite pleased with myself and anticipate continuing the practices for a while yet, tho I may not write about them daily. You’re welcome to check in with me and ask how it’s going, that would be a great way to support me to keep it up! Thanks in advance for being on this journey with me. Your comments and likes have made a huge difference to me!

Day 28: Hot Nectarines

Today is the first day that I haven’t done any specific self love practices! I honestly don’t recall using the mantra at all! And am loving myself regardless! It’s been a full-on day and the challenge continues. From greeting a chook at the back door before she came inside, to watering before the heat set in. Walking the dogs quickly before 9am, vacuuming, preparing the house for a guest. Rolling with the changes as they came. Plans? What plans? Good thing I’m flexible!

Co-working with my business partner via skype for a few hours amidst the changing current. Flowing with flight arrival changes for the afternoon airport pick up of a friend from Canada. Responding to a client’s request for feedback on a code of conduct. And then the cool change came!

It was expected to get up to 39 today, it got up to 40.3 and has now cooled right down to 22! It was also quite windy so lots of windfall from our nectarine tree. I went out and got a nectarinesfew more ripe nectarines from the ground and a few from the tree that came off easily. They tasted cooked after being in the hot sun all day! The bucket of nectarines in the kitchen was becoming remarkably pungent, calling to be processed before rotting. I managed to pit the whole bucket and put them in zip lock bags for freezing to make smoothies and other nectarine flavoured delights in the coming months. All while talking to my brother on skype!

As I went outside to take out the bowl of scraps from the nectarines that had ugly inedible bits, I heard a thud as another stone fruit dropped to the ground. A large bat took flight, away from the human threat to it’s peaceful meal. The night air was cool, such a contrast to the heat of the day. The last thing I did before bed was wash my feet, perhaps the most directly self loving thing I’ve done all day!

Day 27: Dancing with Avicii

Four days left! Wow, pretty impressed with myself that I’ve made it this far. And enjoying making it my own, bringing in other elements, not just about the self love challenge, it’s all connected isn’t it?

There are so many things I want to write about and some of that is starting to come through here. Once the self love challenge is over I will take a bit of a break and then start up again with what wants to be written.

It’s 34 degrees outside, tomorrow, and both weekend days are forecast to top out at 39, Wednesday is the cool day with a high of 24 expected and the other two days mid 30s. Another warm week coming!

Last night I took Emma to Avicii, her xmas present. It was a beautiful night, really warm and festive, on Australia Day. A handful of times I stopped paying attention to the mindless party goers, most of them half my age, and allowed myself to be free of concern. I was able to simply enjoy the moment, the music, the atmosphere, and just move to the music.

2014-01-26 20.34.58There was a couple of guys near us, my gaydar was going off. It became clear to us that they were a couple, but only subtly apparent. I became present to the privilege of being able to be in public with my same sex partner and be affectionate, dancing together. The guys were more reserved, no PDAs, didn’t even put their arms around eachother when a straight couple took a pic of them after they took a pic of the straight couple, a nice gesture as they were doing a selfie.

I was really struck by how reserved guys are. Another straight couple near us had a tall dude with tattoo sleves but looked more like an athelete than a biker. He hardly moved, almost like he was on duty as protector of is girlfriend dancing gently in front of him. A single woman on the other side of us was totally going for it, not wildy but clearly really enjoying herself, not to impress the friends that weren’t with her, just responding to the music expressively. Quite a fascinating range!



Day 26: Earth Honoring Australia Day

January 26 is known as Australia Day. It is intended to be a celebration of the day Australia was “discovered”. Some refer to it as “Invasion Day”, reminding us that Australia has a black history. It is politically fraught with issues of colonialism, racism in history and contemporary Aussie society. Rap News did a fantastic satire that I highly recommend checking out.

What I want to talk about is a more personal take on Australia day. I recognise that the history of Australia is horrific and this is my heritage. I am gutted when I think about how the world’s oldest living culture has been and continues to be treated. How can I honour this?

I was born here, I lived in Canada most of my life and then one day about 10 years ago, the calling from my homeland became louder. A soft rumbling in my gut spoke of a hunger of another kind. One that words can scarcely describe. I was being called back to the land of my birth. And I listened.

I have been back in Australia for just over 9 years now. Although, I have my own patch of earth, I know this land doesn’t belong to me. I am a settler, here to love this patch of earth the best way I can. Sometimes that means loving myself and not tending the garden, despite how town I feel and want my inner garden to reflect my outer garden. Ultimately I am owned by this land, and she holds me, loves me, nurtures me. This week it’s with nectaries falling to the ground on warm windy days. Earth Honoring Australia Day

The spirit of the aboriginal people is still here, I see it in the ground when I walk along the creek just up the road. There is an area of ochre, white (spirit), yellow (land) and red (people). I call it rainbow ochre, where the colours blend as the land unites us with spirit. It feels like sacred ground, where I connect to spirit more deeply in the steps I take as I walk through nearly every day. This is where I usually remember to use the “I love myself mantra.” A reminder from spirit.

I give thanks to all who have created this land and made her what she is today, all her glory and scars, the thriving cities and the stark desert, the generous beauty and the violent past and present. The vast array of what this country has to offer is phenomenal. I am eternally grateful that I chose to listen to the call and that I am back here where I came from, being who I am and exploring this miraculous thing called life!

Day 25: Gratitude

Today feels auspicious, not sure why. I went for a walk this morning (after my meditation, despite my plan,) and felt really alive and present. The air was fresh and warm. I could smell the Lemon Myrtle, earthy soil, and sweet breeze. It was a beautiful day! My mantra evolved into “I love myself and I am present.” And then I’d go off into thinking about what I was going to do next, and gently brought myself back to being present. And the cycle repeats.

I started to think about all the things I’m grateful for. Gratitude practice always helps lift me up from wherever I’m at.

I’m grateful for:

  • Everything that has brought me to this point, all the trials, tribulations, joys and delights, and everything in between.
  • How I was raised, with all the freedoms I was afforded like climbing trees, wearing a batman costume. These helped me experience life without an adherence to convention or what was expected to fit into social norms. Freedom to be me. heart sky
  • A conversation with a friend who I hadn’t been in touch with for a while, helping me to see the progress I’d made and the impact taking a stand had on an important relationship.
  • My health and all I do that comes naturally and easily that are good for my body.
  • Yoga practice, stretching my limbs each morning, getting my present to the physicality of my existence.
  • My girlfriend having the magic touch that got my motorbike started!
  • Nectarines from my tree, fresh, juicy and tasty not to mention ultra-local and organic!
  • Interactions stemming from these blog posts, either in the form of comments on the posts themselves or via the facebook posts.
  • Solar panels that power my air conditioner on hot days and the ceiling fans that make a huge difference, meaning we don’t use air con as much, unless it’s really hot, upwards of 40 degrees.
  • The choices I have in my life, though at times overwhelming, gives me a freedom that I appreciate deeply.
  • All of the work I’ve done on myself that has given me the level of self awareness I have and my desire to continue to develop my relationship with myself as the foundation of all my relationships.
  • Bringing me back to this self love challenge, gratitude to Anna for posting the link to the book and to Kamal for writing it! Plus Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson for the post about the only resolution for the year being about loving yourself more.

What are you grateful for?