A stream of consciousness from @KinfolkCafe

Note: this was written on Tuesday morning.

It’s 9:45am. Right now I am sitting at one of the communal tables at Kinfolk Cafe. In the last few weeks I have been trying to develop the routine of hitting publish on a Sunday night, regardless of the state of my writing. This doesn’t feel natural to me. In the last year I have broken my favourite habit of writing on a daily basis in a notebook. Staring at the screen doesn’t inspire me to write anymore and I am struggling to refine a fluid style.

Kinfolk Cafe itself is a rich blend of suits and t-shirts. To my right is a man typing on his iPad, refining thoughts from scribbles in a notebook. The rest of the table is deeply engaged in deep conversation – I heard the words ‘expanding consciousness’ before I fell into my own world of headphones and bluegrass music. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I feel comfortable here. It might be good to write about it.

I just spoke with Eddie for three minutes on my mobile. He told me to write for twenty five minutes and just let the words flow. If I’m not happy I can simply go back and delete. From a productivity end this method would normally work for me. Right now, I feel content simply by observing my own surroundings but in these last few moments I have found myself reflecting on my own experiences at this table.

Last time I was here for an extended period on a weekday morning I had a coffee/brownie with Steve. This was my initial introduction to the complex world of spiral dynamics which for me has become a new way of understanding the world from a growth development perspective. I also met the incredible Pete Spence for the first time.

I spent a few afternoons here in early 2011 reading David Allen’s ‘Making It All Work’ (I am currently re-reading this with a fresher perspective). I can remember geeking out while having lunch with Bryony as we both pulled the book out of our bags. The blend of conversation around GTD, structured chaos, mindfulness and hip hop music still makes me laugh.

I come here with Tory every Wednesday for our ‘hipster lunch’ where we catch up and talk about .Net web development and our shared fascination with Katy Perry.

There is a positive energy here. It might be the paintings of birds on the walls, the jars full of coffee beans that are dedicated to NFPs or the awesome tea pots.

Either way, I don”t feel blocked right now. I’m not checking for spelling mistakes and refining sentences. I can feel my old writing ‘style’ re-emerging as I type. I feel consciously awake.

Time to get back to the office.

On 2011

After reading Jan Stewart“s post (inspired by Ehon), I wanted to share some of the rad things that happened last year.

For the first time in my life, I took time out in the right way. Instead of sitting on the couch and reverting back to the lizard brain, I became proactive and schooled myself on how to effectively manage situations. I learnt to wake up in the morning and measure how I felt i.e. stressed, pressured etc on a scale of 1 – 10 and negotiate how that was going to effect my day. Small but effective.

I started my first “side project”. I came up with an idea, put together the wireframes, worked out the release one features and received some advice on how to make it happen. I didn”t do it the end. I didn”t fail though, because I didn”t actually start. You either do it, or you don”t – that is the only way to fail. So this year I am going to deliver and do something awesome.

I also started wearing

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heels again after a three year hiatus. In January 2009 I tore three ligaments in my right ankle while skiing in Japan. To put it poetically, it sucked. A few months ago at around 2am, I was out dancing with some friends and I felt ridiculously short in my ballet flats. I then said to myself, “Fuck it!” and bought a new pair the next day. It”s not life changing but it happened, and if you are a girl, it”s a huge event!

Most importantly, I met amazing people who are so selfless in what they give and ask for little to nothing in return. I have spent hours talking with the wise and wonderful Jan Stewart about the world and learning about the #deepdive. I met Steve Hopkins twice (once over a brief coffee at Kinfolk Cafe) and yet, five minutes before I spoke at Trampoline I received a message from him telling me to kill it. I met Rakesh who nailed it into my head with a ten pound hammer that I needed to bet on myself before anyone else would. This list could go one for days.

On New Years Eve I received an email from Jan Stewart asking me to join the Melbourne chapter of the Awesome Foundation.

So for 2012 I have decided that I am going to go from talking to delivering and do something awesome in the process.

Catastrophising and clouds

Disregarding the blue Wayfarers that are permanently attached to my head in darkness and in light, I have never been one to stare up at the sky.

I prefer to stare at the waves. I”m fascinated by their liquidity and motion and that they are simply tremors that travel through space and time. It”s calming.

Last Sunday my mind was rapidly assembling a list all the things that felt wrong in my life. It”s an unruly habit that many of us can”t seem to shake off – we catastrophise.

After a workout, I walked out onto the yoga deck of my apartment building and laid down on one of the concrete benches to decompress. I soon found myself staring up at the clouds.

Moments later my mind wandered into a state of  expanded consciousness, the tall buildings no longer stood as strong pillars, they became lost in the movement of the sky. It was pretty awesome.

So why am I suddenly so fond of the clouds? Perhaps the deeper reason lies within their simplicity. They are enduring and yet constantly changing.

Every time I catastrophise, I”m going to come up here and stare at the clouds. They remind me that life is without limits.

Trampoline Day, a celebration and reminder of awesome people

Last week I spoke at Trampoline Day. This happened to be my first public speaking experience and a pretty unique one at that. #tramplineday itself is a brilliant concept – it’s an unconference where anyone can nominate themselves to speak for an hour, as long as what they present is “a-may-zing” to them.

Despite the sinking feeling in my chest, I stood up in front of the room and led a small discussion about what I find to be amazing, the relationships in my life. There were some people in the room that I knew, they were smiling with unwavering support. Others faces in the crowd that I didn’t know did the same. After a minute or two the sinking feeling immediately morphed into an enigmatic confidence. How cool is that? We really do thrive when we embrace life together. That’s amazing.

Moving beyond Trampoline Day, I’ve become a firm believer that greater wisdom leads us to people who we can learn from and teach.

You could easily curate a list of awesome things in your life, but that would be way too easy – instead I would like to celebrate the people that make it awesome, the friends who day-to-day are leaders, teachers, change-makers and mentors. We really do not do it enough. That celebration is a side project that is coming soon…

#flightmode

In a high performance environment we need to find a balance between operating at our peaks and recharging our batteries.

This is something that we should be doing to optimise the quality of our day to day lives (unless you are a fan of burnout).

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Jan Stewart in recent months. A few weeks ago over lunch we were discussing how we “recharged” our batteries. We touched on the usual suspects: meditation, yoga, exercise and disconnecting ourselves from the social web. These are things we do to ensure that we are reaching our desired levels of productivity and operating at our individual peaks.

We then stumbled onto the idea of #flightmode.

In one instance #flighmode is about shutting out the noise and distractions (i.e. switching your iPhone onto Airplane Mode and escaping the grid).

#flightmode is also about achieving an optimal state of living. As we reach a certain height like a Jet Stream airplane, we are functioning at our highest level.

Every morning I hit a mental reset button – it’s a new day. Every night at 9:30 I shut down for one minute (or thirty) to meditate and breathe.  I do these things to achieve the dual meaning of #flightmode.

Chaos #ftw

“A very slight change in our habits is sufficient to destroy our sense of our daily reality, and the reality of the world about us; the moment we pass out of our habits we lose all sense of permanency and routine” – George Moore

We all spend a lot of time embedded in our daily habits. We find structure to be a source of comfort but when something changes and struggle to adapt and subsequently freak out. This happened to me last week.

On Monday morning I arrived at my regular coffee joint in my pre-caffeinated haze to pick up my 7am long macchiato. I soon discovered that the barista had left, the coffee blend had changed and the coffee cups no longer had the gripped texture that prevented my hands from burning. This brought both shock and horror to my world.
I didn”t feel tethered to this place. It was just a small part of my daily work routine. And yet, I was genuinely bothered.

On Tuesday morning I met with Pete Williams for a mentoring session. He mentioned a theory developed by Edward Lorenz and “subsequently the uber geniuses from the Sante Fe Institute” (thanks @rexster) that has been playing in my head for the better part of the last week. In a nutshell:

As humans we live amidst chaos and small factors have the ability to alter anything, no matter how certain something they may seem. If this is in fact the case then the perhaps the best strategy to adopt is to take life as it comes because nothing is enduring.

A change in daily routine should not confound us. If life at its core is chaos, then it is also about adapting – maybe we should consider doing the same.

This morning I walked 100 metres up the road, messed with FourSquare’s head and hit up Little Wish.

Reading Something Country #2

Written by Larry Cordle and Larry Shell, “Murder On Music Row” is a critique of the continuing craze of country-pop ‘crossover’ acts, suggesting that the coarse nature and authenticity of the genre have been abandoned, resulting in its symbolic murder:

They never found the fingerprints
Or the weapon that was used
But someone killed country music
Cut out its heart and soul
They got away with murder
Down on music row

(“Murder On Music Row”, Cordle and Shell, 1999).

The whole forcing of creativity thing, not so good.

In recent weeks I have been focusing on becoming more aware of my thought stream.

After spending the majority of the Christmas/New Year period immersed in reading books, blogs and articles about innovating thinking, meditation, mindfulness and stress management.

I found myself attempting to force a stream of creativity.

For days I sat down with my notebook waiting for inspiration to majestically emerge. Well, it didn’t happen. I became frustrated.

I soon realised that the root of my frustration was my inability to force something that is intrinsically organic. I harked back to days of thesis writing where I would write for hours, listening to Loretta Lynn and absorbing chapters of Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity like I now absorb caffeine.

I stopped. Put down my notebook and went for a run. That was five days ago.

Yesterday I woke up, turned on the Nespresso machine, browsed through my Google Reader and noticed an abundance of CES related articles and digital music startups. Something in my head clicked. I stopped reading. I found the nearest piece of paper and scribbled down a basic map of a project that I now want to set in motion over the coming months.

And guess what? It’s going to be awesome.

What am I learning?

Inspiration cannot be forced and passing ideas cannot be let go.