#AlwaysBeLearning

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Having had been a student for the past two and half years completing a Diploma of Graphic Design and thinking I was done with study for a while, I decided to go back to Uni earlier this year to complete a Bachelor of Communications majoring in Media Studies. Working in the e-learning industry, and being surrounded by it every day (on top of what I’m learning at school), really got me thinking about just how much learning has become an integral part of who I am. Looking back on my journey so far, my learning habits have changed so much, coming a long way in just a few short years. Some of the habits I have picked up have seemed like a lot of work, while others less so. All continue to evolve as I look ahead with still so much to come.

I incorporate some form of learning into my day, every day. While there is the learning that I engage in every day, for both school and work, getting into the habit of learning something new each day just for the fun of it has been an eye-opening habit to get into. We’ve all heard of the one-hour rule of learning per day, but I really don’t believe it has to be so complex. Even a few minutes each day can make a difference if it’s sparking those ‘Aha!’ moments, challenging you, and perhaps even changing your perspective on something.

Nobody tells you this, but learning can be damn hard.

Seek diversity. Someone once told me learning is like food — if you eat the same food every day, you won’t reap the benefits of a well-balanced diet. To me learning is about expanding my mindset and seeking out the bigger picture. I read articles, watch online content, track down interesting books, and attend talks I find interesting. It may seem obvious, but so many of us are creatures of habit that solely rely on what’s in front of us and what’s within arm’s reach. While this can be great when time-poor, I also believe in looking at the bigger picture of my learning through making a concentrated effort to invest in it and track down different sources to feed my interests. I admit this can be a bit of a challenge, but being exposed to different viewpoints, perspectives, and information is only a good thing to build out well-rounded knowledge about something.

I cut myself some slack. Nobody tells you this, but learning can be damn hard. To really learn something can be one of the hardest things you do. But it’s also one of the most rewarding. The feeling when I’ve begun to really understand something, relate it to what I already know, and then almost ‘seeing’ those pieces fall and click into place makes it all worth it. But before the reward comes what I also call the ‘dark side’. The pressure, the overwhelm, the feeling that you can never have enough psychological bandwidth to cram all this information in. This is where I have to pull back, and tell myself I can’t learn everything the first time — it’s virtually impossible to learn everything there is to know about something the first time and retain it all. There will also be days of un-focus, mental exhaustion, overwhelm, and anxiety, and days where no matter my intentions life will get in the way. Cutting myself some slack and working with what I have is the best way to keep on track to make it more manageable.

Write it all down. Not just notes directly related to what I’m learning (though these are important!). Writing about the experience itself, the thoughts, feelings, and impressions on what I’m actually going through with my learning. It may sound like a lot of work but I was always that kid who kept some sort of journal, and it wasn’t until recently that it clicked that I could do the same thing with my learning. And its helped me. It has increased my self awareness, allows me to track where I’m up to, plan my next steps, smooth out any hiccups, and articulate what I can do to improve on an on-going basis. And most important of all, it helps the learning stick.

Have fun with it. This is where the creative side of my brain comes out, especially when I don’t understand an idea or a concept. So I do the only thing I know how to be — creative. I play with it, tinker with it, pick it up and put it back down again. Return to it. Analyse it, turn it over, pull it apart then put it back together. What other purpose does it serve? Where else does it fit? Question it, ask it why? Why not? This is the space where I’ve realised you learn. Really learn. Not what I’ve been told, or what I’ve read, but where I create my own experience. Be that person who asks questions — question everything. If it doesn’t come, I’ve had to learn not to force it — I’m learning to trust it will come when I least expect it. Especially if I’ve found myself in a conversation where I’ve had to explain it — more often than not I remember and know a lot more than I think. And the golden rule — I’ve had to be patient and cut myself some slack.

What learning habits work for you?

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The Creative Life

I have a confession to make.

For a long time I have buried my creativity.

I have denied it. Pretended it doesn’t exist. Called it by any other name and left it waiting at the door, turning my back on it at every opportunity.

Something which not many people know about me is I have high-functioning anxiety, which wells up very quickly, and makes it very difficult for me to jump off the anxiety cloud when I’m on it and in full flight. I often feel it’s because my creativity isn’t being expressed on a daily basis. For the past 2 and half years I studied design – this was my creative outlet. Since graduating, I have felt an empty well. I no longer have had a regular outlet for this energy to go.

I feel my creativity as a giant winged bird which permanently sits between my shoulder blades. He is constantly in my ear, whispering to my heart the true purpose of what I should be doing – why do I refuse to listen to him? With every refusal he settles in more snuggly, and weighs on me more heavily every day. He is waiting for me to take the reins on my life, to pursue the things that I love in my life.

He is waiting to lift me up on wings, but I need to take the first step to get us there. And it is hard. I am afraid to fail. I am afraid I’m not good enough. But something has changed in me, something is now different. It is my creativity itself –  instead of knocking softly, is now pounding the door with its heavy and insistent wings.

On creative thing per day is all it will take to make a change. Watercolours. Illustration. Taking an unusual picture. Cooking a beautiful meal. I will pursue my dreams of letting creativity take the reins of my life, and embrace the life I feel deep in my bones I am meant to live.

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Pastel watercolours are my favourite and so much fun to play with!

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Pink! One of the best things about watercolours is the wacky shades the water turns when mixing the perfect colour. If tea came in this colour it would be happy days indeed!

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Working on my Fruit Series – I am planning a few more. These are inspirations for digital illustrations I am currently creating. Created using thick gouache for the background for a textured effect with thinner paint applied for the detail, these are my experiments in using gouache as I haven’t painted with these for a very long time. I am slowly recovering  old techniques as my hands familiarise themselves with my paint brushes again.

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If you want to keep up with my painting and creative journey, follow my Instagram  – Damselfly7.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Goin’ back to school!

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This week marks the first week of me going back to school!

I know I have been quiet this year, making my first post in March is a little sloppy, but now that I am back at uni studying Communications, majoring in media studies it is time to get serious about writing.

I have had a love for all types of communication for a long time – being a creative soul I was drawn to the visual arts, and graphic design in particular. I was fascinated with the process of planning and executing design, and the strategy behind it – logo design, branding, putting together advertising campaigns, and my first love – illustration. So off I went and applied for a Diploma of Graphic Design, and I am proud to say I finished it last year and now can call myself a designer.

But I have also had a love for written communication, and writing in all forms since I was a little girl. I would spend hours playing with my toys making up fantastical stories of daring, courage, and adventure as I led my playmates through the thick jungles of my mum’s garden’s undergrowth. When I got a little older and had learnt to write, countless stories would be written as part of school projects, and when that wasn’t enough I began to write in small journals. This became a bit of an obsession as I got older, and to this day I have about 15 journals that I have kept on and off over the years, not counting the ones that have been lost.

By the time I became an adult and had discovered the world of blogging, I was hooked and knew I held a deep love for writing deep inside.But there was one thing I always feared with writing, and that was a fear of failure. Would I be good enough? Would anyone want to read anything I had ever written? Not just in terms of stories, or fiction, but the same translated into when I joined the workforce and would obsess endlessly over the emails and memos I would write. Over time, I have improved. In all forms of written communication. And in doing so, the itching passion has come back now twice as strong, and the desire to write, and share, and build, and create, and connect with others has come with it.

Now that I am older, and perhaps a little wiser, I can see how far I have come. I have also come to the conclusion that I can marry both my creative loves and take my life in a different direction.

Coming into my own in the last 3 years has really fuelled my decision to be authentic and pursue the things I love. Learning and up-skilling as an adult has not been the easiest thing, but I am willing more than ever to keep putting one foot in front of the other and continue my journey.

I am very excited to see where this study road leads as I attempt to hop, skip, and jump to new destinations and opportunities. I am a firm believer in that when we take the initiative and make the move to move forwards and better our lives, the Universe resounds a big fat yes! and makes these things happen for us.

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it – Paulo Coelho 

 

 

Summer season: Enter the Buddha bowl!

Now that we’re well and truly in the middle of a crazy Aussie summer heat wave, I’ve been craving hot meals less and less. The thought of spending time in front of the cooker whipping something up has made me want to run and permanently camp out in front of my fan.

So for lunch today I decided to make this buddha bowl instead. Having been a vegetarian / vegan for many years, I have been making these for a long time – I started making them as a way to eat simple food in as close to its natural state as possible. I’m super happy to see them all over the internet as they gain popularity, it just makes perfect sense to return to eating in a way that is healthy, simple, natural, and looks so beautiful.

 

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The stand-out ingredients in this bowl for me are the rice, and the buffalo heart tomato. The rice has come directly from farmers who travel to Sydney and sell their produce range at a local farmers market. As they often have produce left over they cannot sell, to avoid it going to waste one of the farmers has given some friends and I a bag of uncooked, milled, short-grain, semi-brown rice to try. I admit at this point I did need to turn the stove on  and cook it for 20 minutes, however after adding in quinoa, and chia seeds, I left it to simmer away while I retreated to the safety of the living room to my fan and iced water.

The end result of cooking the rice was pure deliciousness. Nutty, sticky, but with a subtle flavour, both texture and taste were perfect. The farmer had told us that the reason this type of rice was often unwanted and wasted was that the semi-browness of the rice confused consumers, but after one bite of this rice, I was the one confused. It took no longer to cook half a cup of rice than with store-bought rice, and it looks no different on the plate either. I have a bag of it in the fridge ( the rice is also pesticide- free so needs to be kept cold) so I cannot wait to see what else I can make with it – I am thinking coconut milk and chia seed rice puddings, and rosemary and thyme rice balls. Watch this space!

The buffalo heart tomato was an interesting find I picked up at my local fruit and vegetable market. While I love all kinds of tomatoes, summer calls for something a little more exotic, and the buffalo heart does not disappoint. Its unusual, striking heart shape is lovely, its skin smooth and light summery red. And it smells like a freshly-dug tomato – subtly earthy and sweet. I can see myself eating these like apples, as they don’t contain many seeds –  there is no tomato mess!

 

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If you’d like to make your own bowl, here is the list of ingredients I have used. While I call this my 10-ingredient bowl, you can use as many or as little ingredients as you like. I use as many as I can in mine simply because as a single person living on my own, I tend to have to buy more food than I can eat – I often need to get creative in the kitchen to use as much of it up as I can!

  • Romaine lettuce – both the green, and red variety
  • Lightly sautéed baby spinach
  • Lightly sautéed baby bok choy
  • Broccolini
  • Tofu in Chinese Honey flavour
  • Rice with quinoa and chia seeds mixed through
  • Chickpeas
  • Red cabbage
  • Buffalo heart tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Hummous with nuts and seeds sprinkled on top
  • Lemon and sea salt sprinkled liberally over all ingredients once on the plate

The beauty of these bowls for me is the combination of both lightly cooked and raw food. I can have these side by side, their respective flavours complimenting each other perfectly. To keep the bowl in balance, I always make sure to mix veggies, one source of grains, one source of protein, and one source of healthy fats. I’m a minimal dressing kind of girl, so opt in for lemon and salt most of the time, generously sprinkled over the bowl. And as for the colours, they look beautiful on a pristine white plate. I love the different shades of green, browns, and the sharp splashes of red and purple in this bowl. Seeing what my food looks like before I eat it is a big motivation to eating healthily, looking after my body, and making me appreciate where my food comes from. The earth has an amazing capacity to provide us with everything we need.

 

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If you’d like more inspiration on Buddha Bowls, I love lifestyle and interiors blogger Moon to Moon’s post on suggested bowls to make – even though this article is a little older, I love to come back to it from time to time for inspiration.

If you have any favourite buddha bowl recipes you’d like to share I’d love to hear from you.

Enjoy!!

This year 2016

After many months of absence I have returned back here to this space, as I’ve done many times without writing or contributing to what I have created. While I am still to work out the direction in which I want to take my offering,  I am ready to pick up where I have left off and let my words flow once more.

This year 2016 has been a big one in many ways. My intentions for the past 12 months were ones of investment and transformation, which I worked on in major ways to bring more of both into my life.

  1. I finished my Graphic Design diploma – 2 and a half years of hard work, commitment and pure perseverance enabled me to cross the line and say I am now a designer.
  2. Moving into an airy, sunny, and quiet new apartment. This is move number 6 in 6 years.
  3. Re-commiting to my yoga practice
  4. Committing to my new adult braces
  5. Being free of my Deep Vein Thrombosis!
  6. Writing my own portfolio website and learning to code enough to get the job done
  7. Visiting Vegas, experiencing the beautiful Grand Canyon, and partying at Omnia nightclub with over 4,500 colleagues at Caesar’s Palace for a work trip
  8. Enjoying and celebrating one more year of life with my beautiful senior dog
  9. Deciding I will not settle just for any man – I am willing to wait for someone special
  10. Reaching over 900 posts on Instagram – am on track for 1000!
  11. Continuing to work towards self-love. My journey has been a long one and it is a road I continue to walk down each and every day.
  12. Learning to accept that I will make mistakes – I forgive myself and move forwards with my head held high
  13. Allowing my inner gypsy princess to come out more often and play with beautiful skirts, long earrings, and bare feet
  14. On that same note, growing my hair to mermaid lengths and leaving it alone without heat styling and straightening
  15. Investing in more books than clothes
  16. Recognising my work-life balance is a little off-center. I am beginning to put together a plan in place for better balance and organisation in 2017.
  17. Ditto for my personal finances
  18. Friendship. I have beautiful, strong, successful friends who I celebrate spending time with and who I am grateful to have in my life
  19. Grateful for family – watching my nieces and nephews grow up is  beautiful experience – they grow up too fast!
  20. Articulating for the first time what my numerous dreams are, and allowing myself the luxury to really think about how I can make them happen. They are unique to me, and not letting others dissuade me with well-intentioned-but-not-for-me-opinions.

As the year comes to a close, I work to plan for 2017, a year of new beginnings, big changes, love and joy. And so it is.

 

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Direction

It’s been such a crazy long time since I wrote here – I feel like life often slips away as soon as my back is turned. It is now June 2016, and so much has happened in the last 6 months it is difficult for me to even comprehend the passing of time so quickly.

I am sitting at my vintage wooden table, watching the rain lash the window, and the season’s change through the deepening of the leaves on the maple trees outside. Winter is well and truly here. I wonder what the next 6 months will hold for me, where life will take me, what will I do with myself. As with most years at this time, I am presented with decisions to make, courses that will change my life, and I am feeling a little overwhelmed. How do I choose which is the right path to take? How do I set the wheels in motion for the things I am hoping to have happen?

As I sit here holding my cup of tea, I am hopeful of the future, but also nervous of where the roads may lead. I am reminded by the words of Robert Frost – ” Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less travelled, and that has made all the difference“.

 

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This year 2015

As the year comes to a close, it has got me thinking about the past year and all the things that happened -all the threads connected to make up 2015.

  1. Gave up flat sharing and moved into a tiny one bedroom flat that is all my own
  2. Started working for a huge social media platform and my first real foray into working in the corporate world.
  3. Travelling – visited beautiful Santa Barbara twice, San Francisco, Puerto Rico, and second visit to New York City
  4. Ill health – being diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis and being put on blood thinners has taken it’s toll. This has meant a change in my diet, aenemia, and feeling like a pincushion due to so many blood tests.
  5. Knocked off more subjects of my Graphic Design diploma- not long to go now before I wrap up!
  6. Began working out with a personal trainer after a long hiatus from exercise
  7. Red toffee peanuts became an obsession – there was a while there when I couldn’t go to the local supermarket without buying these and I’d scoff them within a couple days.
  8. Invited more plant friends into my life – am officially becoming a plant hoarder and rescuer.
  9. Discovered a crazy love for old world French cafe music
  10. Yellow squash has become a staple in my diet. Until a few months ago I had never tasted it.
  11. Hosted webinar presentations for work clients all on my own.
  12. Having my three wisdom teeth removed.
  13. Learning who my real friends are, and sadly who is not.
  14. Not understanding why we don’t have Barnes and Noble in Australia!
  15. Becoming more self-aware and accepting of my faults
  16. Bought a whole heap of dresses – I found that wearing dresses is so much better than jeans!
  17. Recognising the real difference between wanting to be with someone and needing to be with someone.
  18. Slowly giving up alcohol. This year has been about slowly letting it go and drinking less and less.
  19. Giving in to my gypsy soul. There is no denying the pull of wandering, travel, big skies, wildness, and freedom.
  20. Keeping an open mind opens doors to new information, new avenues, new possibilities.

Here’s to 2016!

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