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Taking time to just be

30 May

Last week, I chucked in my job. My body was telling me to give it a break. My mind was craving a new challenge. And my spirit – my poor spirit – was silent, waiting to be granted the freedom to soar.

I’ve realised I’m not good at the 9 to 5 gig. I feel boxed in, like a little bird with clipped wings. And when I feel caged, I squirm and squawk until I finally undo the latch and give myself the permission to just float. To just be. And to trust that all will be well. My wings will grow. They’ll flap. I’ll find a new nest.

It’s now the middle of my first week as a ‘proper’ freelancer and, for the first time in a long time, I’m breathing. Not short, shallow, stressed breaths. But deep, nourishing, nurturing mouthfuls of air.

I’m still busy – incredibly so – with exciting new projects and many challenges. But it’s a busyness that I’ve created myself. I’ve chosen those clients, I’ve welcomed the work and I feel like I’m in an endless forest of opportunities, rather than a little wire cage.

For the first time in a long time, I actually feel in control of my life. And when I’m in control, I treat myself well.

I’m sitting still. I’m closing my eyes to meditate. I’m up early each day to cook a fresh brekkie. I’m slowly sipping tea. I’m listening to lovely tunes. I’m baking with wholesome ingredients. I’m not spending much money. I’m dreaming about India…

Of course, I should have lived this way while I was working for an employer. I’m sure many people don’t have to quit their job to feel the way that I am. But for me, freelancing fits.

I’m in a good place. Just letting things be.

I try – leaping without looking

7 May

Oh, hey blog! It’s been a while. Apologies for the neglect, but I’ve been doing something just a wee bit exciting…

Last week, I quit my job. Without a whole lot of thought. I also bought the last items on my India packing list. And I snapped up the domain for my newly-launched business, Kat Tate Copywriting! I even have the certificate to prove it (apologies for the dodgy shot):

In essence, I invested in my future. My freedom. I launched myself off the cliff and free-fell. Without knowing where I would land. It was a week of being courageous, of listening to a little voice that told me to jump. And ignoring the voice that said, ‘But what if you fail? What if you have no money? What if…’

My plan is to freelance in June, jet off to India & Nepal for a month-long health and wellness quest in July and return refreshed and ready for my next adventure.

Here’s to living fearlessly. Here’s to leaping without looking. What a feeling!

Are you on the right track?

10 Jan

I’ve lost count of the holidays I’ve planned, but never taken. Courses I’ve craved, but never started. Or worse, courses I’ve started (and often spent a lot of money on!) before running out of steam and deciding they’re no longer ‘for me’. There is so much I want to do and achieve. Yet at the start of each new year, I find myself with a long list of unfulfilled dreams. I tell myself, this year will be different. This year I’ll take those trips, learn that language, write that novel! While knowing, in the back of my mind, I probably won’t.

Does this sound like you? (Here’s where you nod your head so I know I’m not alone!)

Do you find yourself researching new ideas, career paths, courses, holidays or ventures, only to go off them a week later? Or do you excitedly set out on a new path, before throwing in the towel and realising it wasn’t right? What happened? And how do we know which plans we should run with, and those that aren’t worth our time?

To find out, I spoke with breakthrough and transformation therapist Shelley Viskovich.

Shelley says it’s not a big deal if our loose plans to take a trip to Thailand with friends (plans often made after a few wines!) don’t go anywhere. It just means it wasn’t a priority.

“We only have so much energy to use for what we want to do, so it’s about how much you really want to do it,” Shelley says.  “If it was important enough for you to go with your friends on vacation, you’d move mountains to make it happen. Whereas in the scheme of things, it would probably just be a nice thing to do.  It’s great to think of doing these things as it gives you ideas of what you want to do and what you like.”

The light bulb moment

So how do we know which plans are the ones we should, uh, plan?

Shelley says it’s about the ‘light bulb moment’.

“I get an incredible surge or intuition in my body.  I feel really present and it feels as though time slows down and I am in the flow of the moment.  It’s like I am going through life doing my daily activities, but something bigger is going on underneath like that goal is alive and is working under the surface all the time.

“When you feel this way about a decision, you know that it is right for you.  Also when things connected to that choice come up, you know it’s right as well.  Like if you are thinking about moving to Cairns and then out of the blue someone talks to you about living in Cairns.  You know that’s the universe’s way of letting you know you are on the right track and your energy starts bringing things in to you.”

I like this mantra. It’s about trusting that the right decisions will present themselves. Feeling the surge. Surrendering to it and letting the process take over.

Reflect on the past

What decisions have you made in the past that turned out and changed your life for the better (or worse)? Shelley advises writing a list of those decisions that worked out, and those which didn’t.

“Sit and feel into what each one was like.  Did you have a sense it wasn’t the right choice but you did it anyway?  People often report that they did have a feeling it wasn’t the right choice at the time, but they override it as part of them wanted to do it anyway.”

Years ago, I started a counselling diploma, because I was desperate to escape my mind-numbing job. Plus, my friends and family said I’d make a good counsellor. I’m still trying to finish the damn thing and my heart just isn’t in it. It didn’t feel right at the time, and it definitely doesn’t feel right now. I now know that I didn’t trust what my ‘self’ was trying to tell me. I needed to listen.

Be a smart planner

Of course, it’s not all up to the universe. Despite what advocates of The Secret might say, you do have to put in some effort!

So often I’ve had an idea, one that really stirs something within me, and I’ve left it at that. Surely if I want it that badly, it will come into fruition, right? Not so. Here’s where the practical stuff comes in. It’s important to set S.M.A.R.T goals. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

If we really want to change, we need to turn vague thoughts into concrete, achievable goals.

Continue to explore

One of the joys of life is questioning where we are now and where we want to be. I may not have taken any of those planned trips, or spent a year teaching English overseas (something I’ve wanted to do since I was 20). But reflecting and thinking and dreaming can be a lot of fun. It can help free us from our own restraints.

“Life is about constantly exploring new options. ‘Do I like where I live? Do I love my job? Am I happy?’  Exploring this it is a good thing, as if you don’t love your job and love your life, you should look at making changes in the areas that count.”

And with that, I’m off to plan next year’s trip to India! 😉

‘Tis the season to be thankful

22 Dec

The valley view from mum's verandah.

This is a short post, as I’m preparing to head up to mum’s tomorrow for Christmas.

But I don’t need many words to express today’s Thankful Thursday thought.

I am…

Thankful that I was able to write that paragraph, on a computer that works, in a comfortable, temperature-controlled room.

Thankful that I have a job which allows me to take time out to be with my loved ones.

Thankful that I am in fact paid to take that holiday.

Thankful that my mum is able to live on top of a mountain, surrounded by clouds and eagles and clean air.

Thankful that she has met a man who has renewed her happiness and helps around the house.

Thankful that I have met a man who loves me unconditionally. Even when I cry after too many vodkas. Or roll out of bed with a blonde afro and blobby thighs.

Thankful to God for all these blessings.

Sara from Tis the Life has written a beautiful Thankful Thursday post. You might like to read it and leave a comment.

What are you thankful for this week?

Monday musing: If you could be, do or have anything

19 Dec

A few years ago, mum sent me The New Psychology of Achievement – a set of six CDs by motivational guru Brian Tracy. Being the self development-obsessed lass that I am, I eagerly tore off the wrapper, loaded the CDs into my iPod and listened to them day and night. I lapped up the lessons, nodded along to Brian’s wise words and believed my life was about to change.

One of the questions repeated on the CDs was “What one great thing would you dare to dream, if you knew you could not faiI? If you could be, do or have anything in life, what would it be? If you had all the money, all the resources, all the contacts and all the skills, how would you live your life?”

The idea was that once you had answered this question, you would never have to work again. Well, you would, as unfortunately optimism doesn’t buy shoes. But the idea what that it wouldn’t feel like work. You’d be living your dream.

I mulled over the question for weeks and eventually came up with a list that included:

  • Helping others to enrich their lives.
  • Working for myself from home.
  • Writing about anything and everything.
  • Being a published author, with a suite of novels.
  • Eat Tim Tams without gaining weight (I imagined one of the ‘what ifs’ included ‘If calories didn’t exist’).

Then one morning, I sat upright in bed and decided I would run my own business helping people to get organised. The idea just popped into my head. I decided to go with it. A few weeks later, I quit my stifling job and launched my professional organising business. Just as the recession hit. Perhaps not the smartest move! But even as people were tightening their belts, I still managed to build a successful little business. It was a short stint. I ended up returning to employment after 10 months (though, thankfully, in a job I loved). While answering Brian Tracy’s question didn’t get me set up for life, it did help me escape a miserable job and find another focus, even if it was just for a few months.

Asking the question again

As a new year approaches, I’m once again pondering the question ‘If I could be, do or have anything, how would I live my life?’ The aim of the question is to get us to re-frame our lives and ponder our path. It’s about a paradigm shift. Brian claims that if you can change your thinking, you can change your life. 

He says that if you can shake off the ‘I’m not good enough’ feelings and re-frame how you see yourself, you can be your perfect self. If you imagine yourself as ‘the perfect person, the very best person you could possibly be, with the very best qualities you could possibly have, living the life, doing the things, having the things that are most important to you, this is your self ideal.’ Once you start visualising and living as your ideal self, you can set out to achieve the ‘be, do or have anything’ dream and voila – you’ll be living your perfect life!

This year, I haven’t allowed myself much time to stop and think this question through. I’ve been so focused on ticking off my to-do list, leaving little time to ponder, plan and dream big.

One of my biggest fears is looking back in ten years’ time and asking, ‘What the heck did I do all those years?’ So this Christmas, when I escape to mum’s retreat for some much needed R&R, I’m going to pull out the pens and paper (I find the computer crushes my creativity) and go to town on that paradigm shift. Sure, I might come back with a big wad of idealistic crap, but at least I’ll have granted myself the time and space to create that crap. And surely taking the time to plan how you want to spend your time, is the first and greatest challenge.

If you could be, do or have anything, what would it be? Or do you already have it all? Share by commenting below. 🙂

Does prettiness pay?

16 Nov

I joined in a heated Twitter discussion this morning. Blogger Susannah Breslin published a post about how to get a job if you’re a twenty-something woman. One of the tips she gave was ‘be attractive’.

She wrote, “If you’re a twentysomething woman who is looking for a job, it really helps if you’re attractive. If you’re not, or you pretend it doesn’t matter what you look like, or you attempt to hide the fact that you’re pretty in some weird way out of feminist-induced anxiety over your sexuality, it’s going to make things that much harder for you. This is just a fact.”

Once Susannah tweeted her blog post, the Twittersphere went off (well, at least my feed did, as I followed the convo). The responding tweets ranged from the outraged (@MichelleHaimoff ‘Just read your article. Please stop bashing feminism. It’s the reason you can vote, drive, work and own property’) to the supportive ( @ShelleyShooting ‘It helps to look put together. Distractingly frumpy and distractingly skanky are both negatives in the long run.’)

To be honest, I didn’t know which side of the pretty picketed fence I wanted to precariously place my behind.

When I started my career as an editorial assistant (the modern version of a ‘copy boy/girl’), I didn’t feel particularly attractive. Compared to the other teens in my social sphere, I felt frumpy, spotty and big-nosed. But I had drive and determination and a keen (albeit big) nose for news. Sure, I often felt uneasy in a newsroom where slimmer, prettier and more confident women reigned, but I knew my looks wouldn’t write a good story. That was the responsibility of ‘inside Kat’. It wasn’t long before I had a couple of front page stories published, fluffier features in the paper’s lifestyle supplements and was approached by the editor to apply for a cadetship. I turned it down and went on to chase a career in public relations, then online writing and now my dream role as an editor.

I might have gotten prettier along the way (at least, she says modestly, I feel that I have), but it was my continually-honed skills that got me the job each time and earned me the respect of my colleagues.

Enough about me

I know some ‘pretty’ girls (I use inverted commas because I really do believe attractiveness is subjective) and I know some ‘less pretty’ girls. I also know some ‘handsome’ blokes and some blokes who are a little more au naturale. Some of them have been successful in their careers and their personal lives. Others have struggled to get a foot in the door or find their ‘dream’ partner (but hey, we’re still young!) When I think about all these people, there isn’t a common thread running through them. And there certainly isn’t one that’s based upon the conventional western ideal of what’s hot and what’s not.

The people who stick out to me as being gorgeous are those who are full of life, always smiling, dedicated to their loved ones and who throw caution to the wind. Qualities that I always wish I had more of!

I have a friend who is forever travelling to far-afield lands, photographing and documenting her intrepid journeys. In every photo, her face is glowing with what I imagine is a tremendous feeling of freedom and awareness of the world around her. That is beautiful. That is attractive. That is what will draw employers to her when she chooses to work for someone else.

Another friend of mine gives all her time, energy, spirit and soul to her friends and family. She oozes love. She only wants to make others happy. I honestly believe this has helped her get far in life. It’s what has made people want to work with her, be with her and be like her. That too is beautiful. That trumps ‘prettiness’.

The study says…

A Google search will produce hundreds of studies and papers which claim that attractive employees are better paid and more successful.

Economist Daniel S Hamermesh reckons better looking folk receive more perks above their pay, than their ‘less attractive’ colleagues. Apparently they also score better bank loans, better marriages and are happier.

However, if prettier people are more successful, how do you explain Rupert Murdoch? Oops, did I just say that?

Do you need to be pretty to succeed?

Sure, I won’t dispute that being mildly attractive may get you that foot in the door (I wouldn’t know, I was lucky enough to get mine via my dad). But after that, it’s all up to you baby!

What do you think? Does pretty pay? Do you need to be attractive to land your ‘dream’ job?

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