It’s all invented

We’re really good at inventing rules and setting boundaries. We’ve spent years and years perfecting these, and they’re usually aimed at the other(s). The thing is, once we’ve worked so hard and for so long setting rules and establishing boundaries, it’s kind of hard not to apply them to ourselves.

The irony here is that we don’t even realise it. We’re not aware of how contained some of our remarks are and can be taken aback when someone’s frank to us. It’s outrageous. When did we start saying more no than yes? How is it that we forgot to have fun? And why?!

I’m an artist, your rules don’t apply to me. Please read this in your own voice until you get, it until it hits home. Read it as many times as you need to, and think deeply about the rules you’ve set for yourself. And now go be awesome, do something, share it with the world. I’m rooting for you <3

The struggle is real

I wonder why we shy away from talking about our fears. Are we afraid of being ridiculed? Our fears being too small? What is it exactly that it makes us so reluctant in showing up with that side of ourselves, too? After all, it is an integral part of our psyche, and we come to the party with both the good and the bad. What I find ironic and a tad interesting is that we’re not that shy in sharing our dreams and expectations, our hopes and ambitions. We bring them to the table with a grin, we’re proud of them, we carry them like riches, and we want to show them off to people.

I’ve noticed that, when we share the hopeful side of us, there’s a twofold reaction we’ll get: Oh my god, so cool, glad you want this, go get it, I’m cheering for you and Oh, wow, that’s a bit crazy, why would you want this, what’s wrong with what you have now? One could be so lucky and only get the cheering, though I cannot stop wondering whether we need the pessimists, the detractors, just as much we need the cheerleaders. It’s a game of balance, of course, although I would say that it’s the no’s that kind of push us further and ambition us to turn that dream into a reality if we want it bad enough.

My question is: why don’t we share our fears, too? What’s keeping us from not showing that so-called dark side of ourselves? I’ve been doing a lot of fear-sharing lately, as part of an organized exercise (more of this another time). And I’ve realised that people don’t frown, and they don’t think you’re crazy, au contraire, they see and accept you. And they share their own fears, too, not because of the need for reciprocation – it’s their generosity that commends them to do that. And you want to know something else? Once we talk about our fears, put them out in the open, either in writing or in a conversation, we acknowledge them. Which means they become something palpable, they upgrade from the in-our-head status to in-the-present. And suddenly, they become manageable, they become actionable, we can see the possibilities that lie ahead, because we’re not stuck in the conversations happening upstairs.

Here’s my a-ha moment regarding fear. This whole fear aspect of the conversation doesn’t last long, you move to the next thing, conversation flows, as it happens when you’re in dialogue. What’s more, if you’re not comfortable in sharing this with another human being, in a verbal conversation, put it in writing, talk to your dog or your fish. It still works, and once you voice it out, the pen on paper will move on, you’ll find yourself telling your dog another story, and you’ll also feel relief. Try it out and see for yourself, observe your own change in motion. It’s magic <3

How to be a cutie pie

– a 10-step guide to cuteness –

Step 1. Smile to random people; 90% will smile back.

Step 2. Avoid frowning.

Step 3. Embrace your inner weirdness.

Step 4. Talk to strangers (without being creepy or stalkerish, though).

Step 5. Remember: it’s just air coming out some people’s mouth, so let them breathe.

Step 6. Dance like no one is watching.

Step 7. Enjoy lightness, even when it rains; look at the clouds.

Step 8. The middle finger: it’s a no-no.

Step 9. Drink water.

Step 10. Get your swag on.

I wrote this guide together with Becca, in a moment of quietness in-between what was a hectic couple of weeks. We had a lot of fun in the 5 or so minutes it took us to write it, and I just came across it whilst looking for something else on my laptop. And it made me smile, so much so, that I’m putting it here 🙂

If the guide seems too complicated, in a nutshell:

  • Accept & embrace your self
  • Hydrate your body and nurture your mind
  • Be present and kind

same-same but different

Empathy is a handful. Its difficulty resides in its simplicity, and we usually shy away from too simple tasks — they scare us.

Here’s a thought: we should think intently and write more about happiness. Take a moment to be grateful for something or someone, or think about something that makes you happy. Practising empathy is one road towards this path — did you know there’s no angry way to say bubbles? I dare you, try it for a few times and laugh at the silliness of it 🙂

Practice openness and acceptance through the eyes of empathy, not because it’s a must-do. More like a feel-do. And then, practice seeing the others and thinking really, really hard if they’re actually the others and us, us.

What if we’re same-same but different? What if we take this limited perspective of us vs others and shift the angle; and let ourselves be amazed by the possibilities that lie ahead.

Empathy is not a button we press to activate a state, neither it’s something we can do only when we feel like it. Empathy is our mind in motion, acting as if and constantly challenging us to be more. More understanding, more forgiving, more present. And since it’s a balance exercise, it’s also challenging us to be less judgemental, less fisty, less absorbed in vacuum activities like mindlessly browsing social media or checking our emails whilst somebody is talking to us.

Next time you find yourself in a difficult situation with someone you see as the other, try and find the similarities that can bring you closer, and focus less on what can distance you more. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

tiny gestures

Call a friend today and say that pending ‘thank you’, it will make a difference.

Everything we do has a backend story to it, some unseen work, some unsung heroes, or some credit still needing to be given. When’s the last time you thanked your mom, for being your ever supportive and nagging champion? Or that friend who thinks you’re cuckoo but is there for you ’cause life’s short and friends rare? Or the barista who smiles at you at 7 am and wishes you a grand day ahead?

We should say ‘thank you’ more often. This is not about manners, though we should talk about those too, especially when it comes to the perception shift when changing the culture. This is about giving credit where credit is due, the more so if it’s behind the scenes work made by a team which the public won’t know about.

We all tell stories, be it via digital media, or in person, or in written media. We chose an angle (or more), and run with it until we make our point. In marketing and communications, so many people contribute to one single story, it’s amazing. It takes a tribe, eh?

The idea or the story are at the front; the messages it convenes; the feeling(s) it transmits. But then, there’s also the people. The strategy lady, the coffee guy, the brand artsy guru and so on. Most of these people are the invisible ones, the ones nobody thinks about when reading that story. And that’s okay. Here is where there’s some behind the scenes magic just waiting to happen, and it’s as easy as telling to someone who needs to hear it a heartfelt ‘thank you’.

My thanks of the day go to a bunch of awesome ladies, who make me better just by believing in me and reminding me I am worthy and enough and that’s kinda awesome. Go on, pick up the phone, say that overdue thanks 

train stations and (digital) tribes

When I was a kid, I had this ritual with my grandpa – he picked me up from home, we would go get croissants for me and a newspaper for him, and then we would take the tram to the train station. Towards which one of the 3 we were heading it didn’t really matter; what did was that we were together and that we would be train-watching. And people watching. This was indeed THE best thing to do, and it was perfect in every way.

I’ve always loved people watching, and I’m guessing that we all have a voyeuristic side of sorts. And I love train stations. The funny thing about train stations – they’re ‘suspended’ in time and space. Space typology is made up of temporal perspectives, and train stations usually give us a good glimpse into a city’s anatomy. Hence, we can perceive them as transition spaces, sometimes unaware of the fact that the private-public distinction lies in the eyes of the travellers.

Train stations belong to nobody, but they’re used by everybody, so their emotional charge is huge – can you even imagine? People always on the move, going places, doing things. They’re incredible, dynamic places.

Like digital spaces. They’re nobody’s and everybody’s, and if you’re lucky enough to have found your tribe, then things are pretty much great. The beauty about finding your people in this digital day and age is that you’re no longer bound by space or time to one place.

Digital train stations are all sorts of places, from Seth Godin’s Akimbo workshops (oh man, if that’s not an awesome, generous bunch of people, then I don’ know what is!) to the Do Lectures and Paul Jarvis’ Co1 to James Smith’s JSA. Which means we no longer have excuses for not going places. For not doing things.

We live in a world so utterly connected, that we sometimes forget about the possibilities that lie out there. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Who do you need to reach out to make that happen?

13 cups of coffee

Some people whoosh through your life, some people challenge you, some make you a better person. You never know, at first. As leaves dry up, stories unfold, and some people stay a little longer, some are gone with the fall.

The first coffees with Penny were either too rushed, or too hot, or not enough. And then, time slowed down, and the coffees were just right. About this time last year, Penny decided she wanted a makeover for her side project. She thought well, and she thought long before approaching us for this project. Not because she did not want to work with us, but because she wanted to get the timing right.

You see, timing is everything. Penny is a medium. So, we started working on the revamp late last August. It was a journey full of discoveries. As autumn flew in, she looked at the past and she asked for inspiration. We were trying to find the right shape for the meaning this revamp bore, as she was growing out of a shell into a new one.

the magic

It’s challenging, to say the least, to encompass one’s spiritual journey in a few shapes and figures. To make it resonate with others who might be on similar. Turning to nature, we found the nautilus – majestic, beautiful, ever-evolving. And it stuck with us.

The nautilus is a symbol for an ever-evolving journey, with no set destinations, just well-thought intentions. A good reminder we’re only going forward.