Don’t Ask!

Seriously ! Don’t !

Don’t ask!
If you have an amazing idea or something that your soul is tugging, nudging and screaming at you to try out, FOR GOODNESS SAKE don’t ask anyone what they think about it. Because chances are it will be nipped in the bud quicker than bare feet across hot sand.

Why ? Because 99% of people don’t have any more idea than you do. Really. They don’t.
What they probably do have though is a lot more apprehension around the idea than you might. And what does that mean ? It means you’ll drown those dreams of yours in a rocky sea of fears and doubt.

And damn ! That fragile, delicate idea ; the one that makes your soul sing and fills you with optimism, hope and energy? Well, it just plum disappears in a shower of ‘Oh, you think so’s ?’ and ‘Maybe you’re right’s’ or even, ‘I’m probably not even cut out for it anyway’s.’ And you slink away, energy low, shoulders slumped, dejected but ‘reassured’ that your place is where it always has been : right with the people you asked.

Don’t ask anyone who has never thought of leaving their own village whether you should backpack through Asia then settle down for a new life in Singapore. They don’t know.

Really.
They don’t.

Don’t ask someone who’s always worked for a big company (maybe even the same one for their whole career, bless ‘em) or in the public service, whether or not you should start your own business. They don’t know. They aren’t doing it and, for their own very valid reasons, they prefer the security of a monthly salary from an employer. They are not cut out for the entrepreneurial life, which is why you shouldn’t be asking them in the first place.

Don’t ask … ANYONE…whether you should: travel, start a business, row across the Pacific océan, join pole dancing classes, go vegan, live out West of Woop Woop, past the Black Stump (insert your dream here…)’ unless…

…Unless they have already done it. Unless they are a beacon of inspiration and hope. Unless they are the very best in that exact, same field or have succeeded in something similar themselves. Or even if they have failed in something similar because in the end it wasn’t their thing but they tried, then went on to succeed in something uniquely them and equally as interesting.

But still, don’t ask.

Don’t ask WHETHER...

Maybe ask…’HOW ?‘ There’s nothing wrong with learning from someone’s experience.  But there’s a lot wrong with asking someone who has NO EXPERIENCE in the matter, wouldn’t have a sparrow’s fart of an idea more than you, and who for the life of them couldn’t figure out why on Earth you might want to do (whatever it is you want to do), because they want to do other things – or maybe even NOT.

If you really want advice on HOW to do something, learn from the best. Ask the champions, the pioneers, the leaders and the explorers. Or, if that seems too scary, get the biographies of those who’ve challenged themselves, challenged prevailing beliefs and actually taken the risk of failing. Ask those who have followed their talent to the brilliant but sometimes dark place where it leads. Ask those who have felt the sting of rejection/defeat, but had the courage to rise again and overcome.

Don’t ask your parents (unless maybe you’re under 18 – are you?), your sister in law, your hairdresser, your best friend’s dog, the boy next door, your cheese man, the local hedge trimmer…

Because THEY. DON’T. KNOW.

You do.

A deep part of you knows exactly what you should be doing. That deep part of you is called your soul. It has its own agenda, its own purpose. And it just KNOWS.

So possum, the only person you should ask ‘whether or not to take the leap,’ is yourself.

And you will only find an answer by following your heart, your gut, your intuition and your joyful curiosity about life, then taking the said leap, or even any small action that moves you a tiny step in that direction.

AND (again), let’s face it, you don’t need permission from anybody to do that.
What you do need is stillness, courage, resilience and resourcefulness.

You have it in you.

How do I know ?
red shoes

Don’t ask ;-)

The case for ‘Discipline’: Why we all need a dose of ‘D’

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It’s 6:15 am and I’ve been toying between sinking back into a blissful sleep (after all, I don’t have to wake the kids up for another hour) and springing out of bed to kickstart my day before the rest of that noisy, demanding world wakes up. What would you do?

There’s a magical, clear quality about the early morning calm that infuses me with energy – once I’ve finally shaken myself awake that is…Sometimes that means putting my alarm clock under a whole pile of mess, across the other side of the room, to make sure I actually get out of bed. I gotta have sneaky strategies and tactics like that to resist the tempting arms of Morpheus.

C’mon Ange – suck it up and throw off the covers.
Choices. That’s what life’s all about. Choices, and knowing what you really want most.

Do I really want to sleep in? Will that help me get the most out of my day? Seriously?

Nope.

What will help me get the most out of my day is Vitamin D! Discipline. The Discipline to get up earlier, knowing that I’m always most productive in the quiet of the morning, before everyone else starts laying claim to my attention.

My writing, my art, my sport, my wellbeing, my business, my dream life… Their relative success is directly proportional to the amount of Discipline I can muster up to push the rest aside.

Without my daily dose of Discipline, I could spend the whole day sorting through the orphan sock basket, cleaning the top of the fridge and vacuuming under the sofa cushions rather than working on a business that I’m deeply passionate about.

No Discipline and I’m saying yes to that second glass of wine and sweet dessert when in fact what I really want is to feel lighter and clearer.

No Discipline and I find myself living vicariously through Pinterest or Facebook, rather than actually living my own life – working on my mailing list, improving my calligraphy techniques, training for that trail run, sharpening my mind with meditation… writing this blog post. ;-)

Without a big dose of vitamin ‘D,’ everyday Life has a sneaky habit of getting in the way of what I really want. Life is messy and intrusive like that.

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The big D is a powerful combination of energy, willpower and strength. Ain’t nothing better than a Discipline high! Inject some Discipline into your life and you get an immediate sense of purpose racing through your blood.

Discipline is what helps us reach into the depths of ourselves and achieve great feats.

Discipline is what helps us create a business, body, mindset and/or life we love, and keep battling on when it feels like we’re pedaling through yoghurt and we’d rather be having a coffee with friends. Especially when our pirates tell us our dreams won’t work and that we be better to “Get a haircut and get a real job.” (Remember that song?) Really – your dreams won’t work… unless you do!

Discipline, consistency, IMPECCABILITY – and being unequivocally committed to my own clear, defined desires makes me a writer rather than a reader, a doer rather than a dreamer, a business woman/entrepreneur rather than an employee and an athlete rather than a couch potato.

Discipline is Effort and Consistency’s best friend.

Discipline means knowing the difference between what I want now (or what I think I want now) and what I really, TRULY, deeply want. It’s the difference between a healthy mind and body and one that falls prey to too much temptation. It’s the fine line between flimsy excuses for procrastination and knowing my real limits.

Discipline is long term happiness over short term pleasure…

Discipline is the backbone of sustained creativity. It ensures the ‘essential’ work actually gets done and provides solid grounding for spontaneity, rest and play.

Discipline is the the ant that allows my inner cicada to live!

Most importantly, Discipline supports my process of becoming an eternally better version of myself.

Someone more famous than me, whose name I can’t recall, once said that Discipline is the horse you ride. I think Passion is the horse you ride and Discipline is what keeps you on its back.

Yeah, I fall off my Passion horse a little too frequently. What can I say? I’m human… and epicurean by nature. Consistency is not my middle name – yet!.

In the mean time… ooh look! It’s 7:30 already, time to wake up the rest of the world…

Giddy up!

The Art of the Start… or the start of art… or revving up your creative power. The answer is yes! You do have it in you!

Theoretically it’s not great to write long titles like the one I wrote above. Theoretically. Theories are just begging to be tested and retested, refined and rewritten.  I say, never (or almost never, as in the case of ‘theoretically you shouldn’t walk out in front of a bus,’ but we’ll not take this to extremes now, shall we?) take a theory at face value. Never take your self image at face value either, pun definitely intended ;-)

Find out for yourself. Throw caution to the wind,  the waves, or over your right shoulder if you so desire.  Test, try it out, push the boundaries and evaluate for yourself. Get your hands dirty and take a risk.

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That’s what the participants at the Opening Doors workshops have been doing over the last few months: testing out their personal theories, scratching away at the flimsy and flawed verity of those self-llimiting images and beliefs they have of themselves. Underneath the surface they reunite with just how resourceful, talented, creative, brave and amazing they really are.

I say reunite because it’s not so much a discovery as a rediscovery. Deep down inside, an essential part of you already knows you’re BIG. And capable. And strong. And immensely, infinitely innovative, resilient, resourceful, determined and creative. Should I go on? …

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We’ve recently finished two Opening Doors workshops, one in French and one in English, so go check out this gallery and inspire yourself with some of the cool ‘Words on Wood’  the girls have made up to keep their flame burning and their focus on feeling strong.

Now it’s your turn!
What’s one limiting idea you have about yourself and your talents that you could put to the test today? Go on! Look it straight in the eye and give it a nudge.

Then come back and tell me what you discovered!

Love Ange

Getting close to your edge (it’s Life Jim, but not as we know it!)

You want it to be easy, don’t you? Life. I mean you do all the right things…go through the right motions.

You’re a great person, nice to your neighbours, you mind your own business and you’re respectful of others. You worked earnestly at school and you still try hard now to be great at your job. You’re a devoted mother/sister/wife/friend.  You do your best and maybe you even go to church on a Sunday. You keep your house clean(ish) sometimes obsessively so and your washing’s always up to date – mostly. You don’t make waves… you fit in. You don’t laugh too loudly or make inappropriate jokes. You dress for your social circle and try never to offend anyone.

You deserve to be happy. Yes!

You do.

Of course you do.

And you keep thinking that, one day, soon hopefully, you’ll have all your ducks in a row and life will be just peachy perfect. You just have one or two more things to ‘fix’ and then you can relax – and be truly happy.

Except that life is unpredictable. Life doesn’t fit into your pretty picture scenario at all like you want and expect it to. Life is answerable only unto itself. Life can’t be restrained, confined or shaped to fit. Not in the way you intend anyway.

Life lives through YOU!

It’s Life that will call you forth – stretch you, test you, shake you up and challenge you. More often than not, this will happen right at the very moment that you think you’re bordering on getting it all together. Murphy’s Law strikes again ;-)

Paradoxically though, the quicker we truly integrate the fact that Life isn’t linear, or meant to be easy, the easier Life becomes.

Not because it stops presenting us challenges, oh my Lordy wordy wordy no! On the contrary my dear Watson!
But because we fully recognise that all those ups and downs and challenges ARE Life. As the old saying goes… ‘Zat’s Life!’ C’est la vie babes!

There’s just no getting around it.  That simple acceptation on its own makes things a whole lot easier. Life just plain hurts less when we stop expecting it to be anything other than it is. When we neither brace ourselves for the fall, nor fall into resigned complacency, nor curse nor scream that it’s not fair.

Life takes on all its fullness and vibrancy when we accept the challenges that are thrown at us and take them on with optimism and curiosity. When we stop the doubting ‘whatiffery’ the whiny ‘OH GOOOOOOOOD WHY MEEEEEE’s’. When we stop the ‘I don’t have time‘ and ‘I’m not ready‘ excuses. (Excuse me but when don’t you have time and when are you ‘not ready’ to embrace life? You live every day! )

When we look for ‘hows’ rather than ‘why’s.’ When we step up and stop the dead-end, stomach churning angst and start replacing it with real, intentional, heartfelt soul searching. This is hard. It takes courage, strength and stamina. However, that’s our work!

It’s worth it! Yes it is!  This is YOUR LIFE! And it starts right at the edge of your comfort zone –  often at the most inconvenient of times !

There is no right time. There’s nothing to wait for. Embrace it!

Love Ange

IMG_2684P.S. My funky postcards giving 15% off the Opening Doors workshops have arrived!! OOHWEEE Youplaboum! That’s my surprise for this week. If you need a bit of a nudge to embrace life then come to Opening Doors! Artfully embracing life is our specialty!
Next workshop on March 21-23. Click on this page for details of how to sign up. Hope to see you there! :D

 

Don’t believe everything you think ! Relax into 2014

Think you should have made your resolutions by now? But you’re not overly inspired…
Think you should be bouncing out of bed to reach the goals you’ve set already? But it’s dark in the mornings and it takes a will of steel just to drag yourself out into the cold, dark early morning (for us Northern Hemisperers) to wake the kids in time for school. Trust me, I know… 
Think you’re not as effective, productive, interesting, artistic, creative, fun, loving, proactive, daring, organised… (insert your ideal quality) as  you should be? As ‘other people‘ are?
Think you should already ‘be there?’ Wherever ‘there’ is…

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You talkin’ ta meeeeeee?

Maybe… most likely… you’re just talking to yourself the wrong way. Would you listen to (and keep hanging out with) a friend who always compares you unfavourably with other people? Please say No! 

Topsy turvy thinking leads to stuckness.

Maybe… probably… you’re getting this back to front and outside-in. Yep – outside-in.

When you try and fix objectives and make goals with the ‘outside-in’ approach, you’re in pirate territory. Gets a bit doldrummy in those parts. Flat, dingy, oily waters. Not my favorite waters to be in personally.

I used to have dreams (when I was crashed out on the sofa after working and studying full time) that an invisible force was sucking me down into the crack in the back of the sofa and I couldn’t for the life of me pull myself out. Or sometimes I would dream I had a finish line in a few metres front of me, but my legs were ankle deep in chewing gum and I couldn’t  pull my legs up out of the icky sticky stuckness, without a superhuman effort.

The outside-in approach works a bit like that.

It’s shrouded in ‘shoulds,’ gottas’ and ‘musts.’ Thinking in terms of ‘shoulds’ (Pirate speak… completely 2013!) is self-defeating because it’s built on negatives and consequently often finishes in feelings of frustration, inadequacy, discouragement and general, all round stuckness. Like being sucked down the back of a couch, or not quite crossing the finish line because your body is weighted down in sticky stuff.

The inside-out approach isn’t powered by thinking. It runs on feeling, listening to your heart, and creating space. Everything a self-respecting pirate hates!

When you act from the inside out, your goals, wishes, objectives… dreams… future plans, personal transformations etc, are tethered in your soul. And if you get very quiet, listen intently and feel into what your heart is leaning towards (or in my case, racing full pelt into ;) ), you’ll feel a faint, but insistent pull in that direction, naturally. You’ll float towards it.

That’s when you start putting the structure underneath it.

Ditch the negative thinking, the shoulds, the whatiffery and the doubt … and all of a sudden, you won’t have to force, push, heave or yank yourself out of bed to greet the new year, or the new day for that matter. Ok – that was an exaggeration… It’ll still be a bit of an effort to make the transition from cosy dreamland to a cold, wood floor in a dark room.

But by then you’ll have a woollen carpet down and a bedside light handy to help you out! Because, more than anything else, you will want to!

Personally, I’m enthusiastically easing into January, taking my time to listen, breathe, take stock of last year and gently put 2014 on the maps, ready as always to circumnavigate and ward off my pirate thoughts.

If you need any help doing the same, give me a call. It’s easier and much more fun as a team.

Fabulous 2014 to you all!

Love Ange

PS. The 2014 dates for the Opening Doors ‘beat your pirates’ workshops are going up tonight. Even that is still in 2013 for the moment!
One of the lovely participants from last years workshops waxed lyrical about her thoughts on transitioning into 2014 here. Give it a squizz (check it out)!