13 March 2013, 12:00
Where would we all be without our phones? Mine is constantly at my side, and I’ve discovered it’s not just great for obsessively decorating, listening to music or taking a million photos. In fact, there are a bunch of iPhone apps that can actually improve your life. Here are a few of my favourites!
If you can’t sleep: Relax Melodies
Relax Melodies is basically a little sound machine in your phone. You can choose any combination of sounds — like ocean, rainforest, thunderstorm, or rain on the roof — and they just loop for hours. I know you’re not meant to sleep with your phone beside your head, but sometimes, when there’s a guy parked outside with his car stereo booming, I need something to help me get to sleep!
I love Relax Melodies. It really does relax you, and falling asleep to the sound of rain is about the most peaceful thing I can think of.
P.S. There are two versions of Relax Melodies: free and paid. I upgraded mine, but I think the free version is completely adequate!
If you want to get your inbox to zero: Mailbox
First, the bad news: At time of writing, there are approximately 700,000 people ahead of you in the queue to use Mailbox. But the great news is that the queue moves quickly — I waited about two weeks, I think — and when you’re granted access, Mailbox is a complete game-changer.
Mailbox makes it really, really easy to archive or delete your mail, as well as a brilliant “show me later” feature. You can choose to delay a message, and deal with it tomorrow, next week, or even next month. Mailbox also keeps a little numeric tally of messages as part of its icon, which really inspires you to clear out your inbox on a daily basis!
Mailbox has replaced iPhone’s OSX Mail app as my email application of choice… And I’ve never been happier. Just watch their video and I think you will be similarly convinced!
If you have a goal: Everest
Everest encourages you to break your goal down into manageable, bite-sized chunks. No matter what your intentions are, this app will help you get there.
You can connect with friends to help keep you accountable, as well as browse around and see what complete strangers are doing. I haven’t had a lot of time to play with this app yet, but I think it is so brilliant!
Additionally, if you’re looking for some more adventure in your life but aren’t sure where to start, just tap the Challenges tab and accept someone else’s dare! Some examples include cut out sweets for a week, don’t complain for 24 hours, do a silent retreat, create a plan to get debt-free, and run a half marathon. Each challenge is broken down into steps which you simply swipe to complete.
If you’re stressed: Take A Break
Take A Break is a free app which comes with two different guided meditations: one is a “work break” that runs for seven minutes, and the other is a stress relief meditation, which is thirteen minutes long.
You can choose whether you’d like to just hear the voice, if you’d like music in the background, or nature noises, which makes this very simple app a little more customisable.
Guided meditation is one of my favourite types of meditation, and it’s particularly useful for anyone who is new to sitting still and quieting their mind! It gives you something to focus on, rather than trying to think of nothing and obsessing over how much your nose itches!
I always feel much more serene after using this app. Give it a try!
If you can’t remember everything: Wunderlist
I have tried so many apps over the years, always looking for that sacred sweet spot: the intersection between ease of use and practicality. I’ve recently come back to Wunderlist, and I’m in love with it.
One of the reasons I love Wunderlist is because it has a desktop app. I don’t like to do everything on my phone, I like to be able to type and research on my computer, and Wunderlist syncs beautifully across all devices.
Wunderlist is basically where I vomit everything I need to keep in my head. At the moment, I have lists for places I want to visit in Los Angeles, pictures I want to take for Instagram, articles I want to write, things I need to procure to make my living room a better place, a Blogcademy “to do” list, a generic shopping list… And that’s just for starters.
It really helps to keep me on track, and I think it will help you, too!
If you want to keep a journal: Day One
There are a lot of journalling apps on the market but Day One is my favourite. The design is sleek and easy, and the app just does exactly what it says: no more and no less. One of my favourite features is the ability to add a photo to your diary entry. It makes it more visually stimulating, which provides a whole lot more motivation to keep adding to it.
The best thing about Day One is that you can set an alarm to remind you to update your journal. Maybe setting an alarm for 10pm or 7.30am would be the best time to get your thoughts down. Play around with it and see what works for you!
If you want to be on time: Uber
Uber is like having access to your own personal driver through your phone. It’s different in every city, but in NYC they have partnered with a number of black town car services, and it simply pings the one who is nearest to you.
It’s so easy to use: you input your address and it gives you an estimate of how close the nearest car is. Where I live, in the East Village, a car is usually about 6 minutes away. Once you submit your order, Uber will actually chart the path of the car while you wait.
Using Uber is a little more expensive than a taxi, because it’s a town car service. A trip that would normally cost me about $16 cost me $24. But I didn’t have to leave my house and go searching for a taxi, the car was impeccably clean, I didn’t have to swipe my card at the end (it’s all done in the app), and the tip was included. (A 30% tip on a $16 fare is almost $5, anyway.)
I am completely obsessed with this service! It’s truly perfect if there’s somewhere you need to be, if the weather is terrible, or if you’re just feeling too fabulous to want to prowl the streets in search of a taxi!
By the way, if you use my invite code, you’ll get $10 to use towards your first trip! Awesome!
If you want to eat healthy: My Fitness Pal
You know how they always say you should keep a food journal if you want to become more conscious about the amount — and type — of food you’re eating? It’s a great idea, but no one really does it. Or at least, I’ve never met anyone who managed to make it stick!
MyFitnessPal seeks to fix this problem. You can search for foods or scan any barcode and have it instantly entered into your food diary, figure out serving sizes, and even discover how many calories you should be eating if you have a certain weight goal.
If you’re anything like me, you have serious eating habits. I eat the same foods every week, and with MyFitnessPal, once you’ve entered them once, they get saved in your regular foods list. This makes it really easy and fast to keep on top of your diary.
There’s also space to enter any exercise you do. Great for gym bunnies!
If you want to say thank you: Ink
With Ink, you can instantly create greeting cards using the photographs on your phone. I love this app, because it removes any and all excuses for not sending a quick thank you to anyone who deserves it.
Using their app, you select a design, pick a photograph, add any text, then choose a contact to send it to. The Ink nymphs print it out at their magical factory, then slap a stamp on it and send it out. It arrives at your friend’s house soon after, and you all rejoice!
Now you really can be the babe with the best manners!
If you want to get centered: Pranayama Universal Breathing
Pranayama Universal Breathing is a super-simple app. When you fire it up, onscreen you see an animation of a man sitting cross-legged. Next to him is a pie chart, which shows how long your inhale and exhale should be. The first 1/3 of the pie chart is devoted to your inhale, and the rest is intended for your exhale.
Then all you have to do is follow the instructions. Breathe in… Breathe out. Breathe in… Breathe out. Do it for a few minutes, and you’ll feel back to your old self in no time!
You can up the ante, too, if you’re looking to try some more advanced breathing techniques. Fabulous!
I hope you have fun playing around with these apps!
Help! I think I’m in love with my phone,
21 August 2012, 11:50
One of the reasons I love spending time with my father — other than our matching noses! — is his perpetual curiosity & interest in the world around him. Every time I talk to him, he’s reading a new book or investigating a new idea… & if you were wondering, yes, I got my interest in the world of self-improvement from him!
When he was in town last week, he made me sit down & listen to a couple of chapters of Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. I walked away with my head full of ideas, & a day later, I purchased it & started reading it on my iPad.
Okay, I have to be honest. I am immensely sick of “productivity tips”, & I’d be really quite happy if I never read another one. But, but! This book is different.
In fact, one of the basic tenets of the book is that you will NEVER GET EVERYTHING DONE. Isn’t that kind of a relief to hear?! Brian Tracy’s thinking is that since you’ll never get it all done, you simply need to prioritise what is really important. (This is a bit “duh”, but it’s one thing to know it, & another thing entirely to put it into practice every day.)
It’s a quick & simple read, but some of the ideas are really brilliant. I’ve been implementing ALL of the ideas below in my daily life for the last couple of weeks & I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve been able to get done! (The feeling of freedom is immense & a total Virgo natural high.)
Here are a few notes on Brian Tracy’s book. I definitely recommend picking it up!
Clarity is one of the most essential parts of achievement.
Of course, this means that you have to know what you want in order to get it! If you don’t write it down, it’s just a dream or a wish. You should always, always, always plan on paper.
A lot of us were never taught how to set goals or make plans, & I honestly think that not knowing this stuff puts you at a disadvantage. The good news is it’s really easy to learn how to do this. Here’s a rundown…
How to set goals:
1. Decide exactly what you want;
2. Write it down;
3. Set a deadline on your goal;
4. Make a list of everything you have to do to achieve your goal;
5. Organise the list into a plan;
6. Take action immediately!
7. Resolve to do something every day that moves you toward your major goal.
Another thing to keep in mind about goal-setting is that the best goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant & time-based. I wrote about this approximately two million years ago, so have a peek if you want more advice on goal-setting!
I have also been advised by my father that the next book I should read is Flight Plan: The Real Secret of Success, which is all about goal-setting, so maybe once I’ve flicked through it, I can tell you what I’ve learned! Yay! It’s like a book club, except you don’t have to read the book!
“An average plan vigorously executed is far better than a brilliant plan on which nothing is done.”
Start with a master list
Get out a piece of paper & write down EVERYTHING you have to do: from paying taxes to fixing that shoe to going through your bathroom & throwing away all the old stuff you don’t use anymore. I used a sheet of A4 & wrote items all the way down the side. Simply put, if you don’t have it on paper, it will never happen. So put it on paper!
Once you’ve done your master list, you need to work out what you’re doing day-by-day. You should always plan your entire day ahead of time. In fact, write it all down the night before. In addition to waking up feeling ready to go, your brain will be subconsciously working its way through your list while you sleep. Sometimes this means you wake up with a brilliant solution or way to deal with an upcoming problem. Bonus!
Use the ABCDE method
When you make your master list, as well as your list of activities for the day ahead, be sure to categorise all your tasks into one of five categories: A, B, C, D or E.
A tasks are very important. If you don’t do them, there are serious consequences.
B tasks are things that you should do. If you bump them a day, there will be mild consequences, but nothing major.
C tasks are things that are nice to do, but have no real consequences if you miss them. Common C tasks include catching up with friends or returning social phone calls.
D tasks are things that you should delegate.
E tasks are activities that you should eliminate from your routine. Yes!!!
Write the category (A-E) next to the item, then take a new piece of paper & rank them, with A tasks at the top & E tasks at the bottom. If you have more than one A task, prioritise them (A1, A2, etc.) & put them in order.
Now, here’s the trick: never complete a B activity before an A activity. As Brian Tracy said, “resist the temptation to clear up small things first”.
It is horrifyingly easy to keep ourselves occupied with little tasks & mindless busywork, & while it can feel satisfying to do these things — like reply to email, tidy our desk, etc. — ultimately it keeps us from doing the things that are really important.
You have to start with the biggest, gnarliest task first. This is otherwise known as “eating that frog”, & is the basis for the entire book. The idea is that the activity you’re dreading most is your frog for the day, & your job is to eat it. If you have several big, ugly tasks, then you have to eat several big, ugly frogs. You’re supposed to eat the biggest, ugliest one first.
My father & I have talked about this so much that the subject has become a constant theme. We ask one another, “Did you eat that frog today?” Truth time: YES, sometimes this is annoying. Double-whammy truth time: it keeps you on task & you get things done, & isn’t that the point, after all?
So, as you work through the items on your list, tick them off (or scribble them out with vigor, which is what I like to do). It will give you a feeling of accomplishment & encourage you to continue on your path of world domination!
“Everyone procrastinates. The difference between high performers & low performers is largely determined by what they choose to procrastinate on.”
Three questions to ask everyday:
1. What are my highest value activities?
2. What can I — & only I — do that if done well will make a real difference?
3. What is the most valuable use of my time now?
I am a huge nerd who has to take notes on everything or else it is just IN ONE EAR & OUT THE OTHER (as they say), so these three questions are scrawled on a piece of paper & taped to my wall just above my laptop. Looking at them has so far kept me motivated & on track. Awesome.
Let me reiterate, in case you missed it the first time: you will never get everything done. Once you know this & accept it, you can feel less guilty about eliminating or delegating tasks that are unimportant.
From the book: “One recent study concluded that the average executive has 300 to 400 hours of reading & projects backlogged at home & at the office.” C’mon, now!
You can only do so much: do the things that ONLY YOU can do, & the things that have the power to REALLY CHANGE or improve your situation.
I think the three questions above can really help keep you chuggin’ along. What is the most valuable use of my time right now? is my fave.
“You can get your time & your life under control only to the degree to which you discontinue lower-value activities.”
Now… Go get started on your master list, & report back in a week!
All photos from Alannah Hill.
12 June 2012, 12:32
Christina Aguilera & her legendary shoe closet.
The other day, over coffee, Nubby & I were discussing the appeal of moving to a small town. Of course, we both love New York City & Portland, but there is something delightfully chilled out about small towns. We were talking about what it was that we liked about those places: the slower pace, less pressure & more leisure time. I started to wonder if that was because there are less options in a smaller town. I looked at her & said, “Sometimes, too many choices make us unhappy & anxious. As much as we might think the opposite, we’re actually happier with less options.”
I don’t know where this idea came from, & it wasn’t something I thought a lot about before I said it. But once it had come out of my mouth, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. When I got back to New York, I googled, “the more choices we have, the less happy we are”, & lo & behold: someone has written about it already.
The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less is a book from 2004 by Barry Schwartz, & it spells out this very notion. It explains that companies which sell 24 different types of jam make less sales than those who only offer 6 varieties of jam: at a certain point, too many options feels suffocating & turns us off making a choice at all. In fact, growing up, my father often mentioned “analysis paralysis”, where we are presented with so many options that we are unable to make a choice, fearing that we will make the wrong one.
Our brains — already over-worked & exhausted — cannot cope with too many choices. We’re asked if we want small, medium or large; full fat, half & half, soy or almond milk; vanilla, strawberry or chocolate; skinny, bootleg, boyfriend or bellbottom. Actually, being presented with too many options stresses our brain. It gives it too many things to compare & contrast. The problem with being given a lot of choices is that we simply don’t have the time to research or investigate all of them… & then we feel like we have failed.
The crux of The Paradox of Choice is that because humans are wired to adapt, you won’t be happy with what you have forever, meaning you will always be tweaking & changing things. Schwartz has divided people into two groups: satisficers & maximisers. A satisficer is someone who chooses products or services that are “good enough”, while a maximiser is someone who is always trying to get the very best product. Interestingly, the satisficer is usually happy with their choice, while the maximiser is seldom happy, often regretting their purchase. The maximiser experiences agony when some small part of what they consider “the best” is not available, while the satisficer enjoys life more without the constant angst of decision-making.
In fact, Barry Schwartz agrees with psychologists David Myers & Robert Lane, who independently concluded that the current abundance of choice often leads to depression & feelings of loneliness & isolation.
“There are a lot of people walking around, really, really dissatisfied with their lives, unable to put their fingers on what it is that’s so troublesome. And because this notion of choice is sacrosanct in this society, that would be the last place they looked… So I come out and I say, ‘Listen! This thing that we worship, maybe it’s not an unalloyed good.’” (Barry Schwartz; source)
Well, that’s all well & good. I can accept that & understand it. But how can we apply this truth to our own lives? How can we benefit from this lesson & make ourselves happier? I have some ideas.
When you set yourself limits & guidelines, everything moves more efficiently. Just think about Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. In other words, if you give yourself a week to do something, it’ll take you a week. But if you allow yourself an hour, it will take you an hour.
If you give yourself limitations on the art you produce, your art will be better. Pick a word limit, or a time limit, or give yourself a very specific theme. Once you have boundaries, you can thrive within them.
If you’re self-employed, make a decision — a permanent decision — about the time your work-day starts & ends. Stick to it: you’ll never have to think about it again, & it will make your life easier.
If you want to maximise time with your beloved, for example, you could decide that during romantic dinners, there are no phones allowed. This is a rule that Mike & I have & it works very well for us. There is nothing more sad, to me, than looking over at a couple in a restaurant who are ignoring one another & instead, absorbed in their phones. Anyway, my feelings on this aside, the reason this works is a) we are completely present & attentive to one another, & b) we do not have to burden our brains with the choice of ‘Will I look at my phone now?’ The choice has already been made for us.
When you’re faced with a dizzying array of options, just cut them down. Do it arbitrarily. If you’re buying a car, choose one brand or company to buy from. Honestly, this will make your life easier!
There are questions we have to ask ourselves every day which make us crazy. I once saw a hilarious tweet which said, “If I ever wrote a suicide note, it would simply say: Could not discuss what we were going to have for dinner EVER AGAIN.” There are about 100 restaurants which will deliver food to our apartment any night of the week, but we only order from about 4 of them. Whittling down our choices has made our evening routine much easier. I also don’t ask my husband what he wants for dinner anymore. Instead, I’ll give him two choices. Otherwise you get into that loop…
“What do you want for dinner?”
“I don’t know. What do you want?”
...& that is the worst loop EVER!
We’ve been told that MORE IS BETTER; trained to collect things we love; convinced that owning a closet of cute shoes is a worthwhile goal for a woman. But the people who have told us this profit from passing on this message. It’s important that we understand this.
You have to ask yourself — really ask yourself — will this dress, bag or pair of shoes make my life any better? It might give you a temporary rush, but it won’t change anything else. You will still have issues with your relationships, problems with cashflow, arguments & questions about the meaning of life.
There is nothing wrong with owning things that you love. There is nothing wrong with getting a contact high from a beautiful pair of shoes or the lustre of lipstick. But we have to know when to say enough is enough.
Being presented with dozens of shoes makes it even more difficult to get dressed in the morning. I have two bookcases which serve as my “shoe library”, & you know what? As much as I like to look at my shoes, I wear the same pair of motorcycle boots almost every day. My wardrobe is stuffed to the gills with wonderful things, but it isn’t wonderful at all, because I can’t even see what’s in there.
As soon as I’ve finished writing this article, I am going to go through my closet & divide it into a few piles. I’ll keep my absolute favourite pieces, but I’m going to divide up what’s left over, split it between consignment stores, & donate the rest. I can already tell that this is going to make my life so much more simple… & make me so much happier.
Everyone has a to do list that is a mile long, but staring at a list of 50 items will just make you go cross-eyed… & more often than not, demotivate you! You won’t know where to start, & you’ll feel overwhelmed.
On Sunday night, take a couple of hours to get yourself organised for the week. Write one main goal for the week — something that might take you a few days to complete. Then, every day, refer to that goal. It will keep you on task & you’ll find that you are much more productive.
When it comes to a daily to do list, never scrawl more than 3 items on it. Otherwise, you’ll feel swamped & over-burdened. Keep it simple, baby!
In his TED Talk (below), Barry Schwartz tells a story about going to a store to buy jeans. There used to be only one kind. When he walked into the shop, after years of not having to buy a new pair of jeans, he was confronted with a million questions from the sales assistant. Bootcut? Stone-wash? Distressed? Relaxed fit? Button fly? Zipper fly?
Schwartz was understandably overwhelmed. He spent an hour trying on jeans, & when he left the store, he admits that he was wearing the best pair of jeans he’d ever owned… but he was LESS HAPPY about his choice. Why? When we’re presented with more options, we expect perfection… & of course, there is no such thing!
Don’t idealise things. Nothing is perfect. Loosen your grip on that need for everything to live up to an impossible standard, & you will be much happier!
Even though it’s natural for us to feel the need to constantly investigate new options & want to “trade up”, obsessing over the possibilities & fixating on alternatives only serves to make us unhappy. If you like something & it needs replacing, go get the same one — or one model up. If you like a particular brand of juice, or hair product, or coffee, just stick with it. Odds are that it is good enough.
Do you really need to own the perfect hand cream? Do you need the most energy-efficient fridge on the planet? Probably not. Pick your battles; learn to differentiate between what is truly important & what is superficial or insignificant.
Don’t spend forever researching everything, or in the constant quest for perfection. When we seek perfection, we miss the wonderful things that are right in front of us!
Barry Schwartz at TED.
Do you feel inspired to simplify, simplify, simplify?! I do!
P.S. You can read more about this phenomenon in this interview with Barry Schwartz.
2 January 2012, 13:53
“Now that it’s all over, what did you really do yesterday that’s worth mentioning?” (Coleman Cox)
Put this in your diary: “In 2012, I will write a personal mission statement.”
...But why would you want to do something like that?! Well, let me tell you a few reasons why writing a personal mission statement is important & useful. Firstly, it’s a fantastic way to figure out what your values are. This way, when you’re feeling bogged down with email, projects or meetings, you can quickly think back to your mission statement & be able to figure out whether what you’re doing today is relevant to what you want to achieve. The second reason why a mission statement is helpful is because it’s hard to make things happen when you don’t know what you really want! To get things done, you have to start with the end in mind, & a personal mission statement will help support your goals in a wonderful way.
If a “personal mission statement” sounds too heavy, you have my — our — your own — permission to call it something else. A statement of intent. A manifesto. Your quest, on paper. A vision communiqué. A declaration of fabulousness!
I know that the whole idea of this might sound incredibly serious & permanent. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the best mission statements change & evolve as you do. The things that were important to you five years ago may no longer be pertinent, & that’s wonderful! (It means you are progressing & growing!) So don’t feel like committing something to paper means you are bound to it forever. You’re not.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to complete this in a day, or even a week. It might take you some time to put together your own mission statement. In fact, I’d be inclined to say that the more time it takes you, the better! Allow your brain lots of time to percolate & germinate the ideas! Start with a rough outline & fill it in over the rest of the month. Make this exercise something you create time for every day.
“A personal mission statement becomes the DNA for every other decision we make.” (Stephen Covey)
How to begin: Grab a piece of paper & your favourite pen. Get seated somewhere comfortable & write down some questions. I like these ones, but they’re just examples to get your juices flowing. There are no hard & fast rules with this!
I am at my best when… I am at my worst when… What do I really love to do at work? What do I really love to do in my personal life? My natural talents & gifts are… If I had unlimited time & resources & knew I could not fail, what would I choose to do? My life’s journey is… What would people say about you on your 80th birthday? What do I consider to be my biggest future contribution to the most important people in my life? Are there things I feel I should change or alter, even though I’ve dismissed these thoughts many times? What are they? Imagine you could invite to dinner three people who have influenced you the most. Write their names & the one quality or attribute you admire most in these people. Let’s think of balance as a state of fulfillment & renewal in each of the four dimensions: physical, spiritual, mental, & social/emotional. What are the single most important things you can do in each of these areas that will have the greatest positive impact on your life & help you achieve a sense of balance? What are your values? What is most important to you? What are some goals you’d like to achieve this year? What kind of image do you hope to project? Is it similar or dissimilar to the image you’re projecting right now? What are your roles in life? Are you happy with them?
Allow your mind to wander around these questions & scrawl down anything that comes to mind. It really helps if you can be open-minded about this, & not censor yourself. No one else has to see this, so please feel free to be completely honest!
Another great thing to add to this piece of paper (or multiple pieces of paper!) is a selection of quotes or sayings that evoke strong feelings or fan passionate flames within you. From doing this, you can start to see patterns around what is really important to you.
From here, you can pick key phrases as well as words that seem to keep coming up, & weave them together to make a first draft of your personal mission statement. There are no rules: simply put words together & see what appears in front of you.
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” (Rumi)
Want more inspiration? Your mission statement doesn’t have to be straight-forward or plainly-spoken. It could be in the style of a haiku if you like! Erma Bombeck’s mission statement is written in the format of, “If I had my life to live over, I would have…” This site has a bunch of examples to look over. Debra Moorhead provides some more questions you can ask yourself, as well as some short & sweet mission statements to inspire you. Here are some mission statement sentence templates for fill-in-the-blank type fun! Work Awesome has a great piece about the art of the personal mission statement, too.
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.” (Carl Jung)
Alternatively, if you’d like to try an automatic personal mission statement generator (!!!), FranklinCovey has a free one you can try! (You have to give them your email address, but that’s no biggie.) It’s a fantastic way to get your thoughts going & investigate the truth of who you are, & who you want to be. I think the results are quite rad, too. Here’s what mine spat out:
“I am at my best when I am working on things which inspire, inform & excite others. I will try to prevent times when I feel confined or hedged-in. I will enjoy my work by continuing to create, dream big, connect with others, & share my vision. I will find enjoyment in my personal life through taking photos, travelling, having adventures & exploring. I will find opportunities to use my natural talents & gifts such as writing, creating, inspiring, uplifting others & speaking. My life’s journey is to love myself, & to inspire other women to love themselves too. I will be a person who has inspired countless others to take control of their lives, think big & live according to their own rules… My most important future contribution to others will be to show people that they can live however they want to, & that there are no rules. I will strive to incorporate confidence, creativity & chutzpah into my life.”
This was a great place to start from, but I wanted a shorter, simpler statement. Thankfully, I was able to whittle it down over the course of a few days!
Wild dreams & radical self love.
Curiosity, wonder & spontaneous delight.
Seek magic; adore the moment.
Dare to be true; dare to be eager.
Emancipate, & above all,
be a love letter to the universe.
I wrote my mission statement in big gold letters & stuck it to my wall, above my desk, where I can see it every day. I’m going to use it to guide my goals for 2012, to help keep me on task & remind me of my purpose.
It will help me navigate through the small day-to-day things, & give me perspective. A simple glance at my mission statement will help me decide whether to say “yes” or “no” to the opportunities that come my way. It’s the perfect way of distilling my ambitions & aspirations, of focussing my intentions, & manifesting my ideal future.
The fact that this piece of writing exists relaxes me. It reminds me that what I want is really quite simple, & to get there, all I need to do is be true to myself…
I hope you write a personal mission statement this year, too!
“To come to be you must have a vision of Being, a Dream, a Purpose, a Principle. You will become what your vision is.” (Peter Nivio Zarlenga)
10 May 2011, 15:16
Summer is my favourite time of year. There’s nothing better! For a couple of years, while I was flying back & forth between America & New Zealand, I lived in perpetual summer, & it was wonderful… One day, I hope to make that a permanent part of my lifestyle!
I have a lot of goals this summer, but to keep it fun, I’ve added some frivolous things to my To Do list. As I go through them, I’ll report back! (Yes… I do plan on being busy!)
Use a Diana or Holga camera obsessively!
My somewhat excessive use of Vignette (an amazing Android app) has ignited my passion to experiment with different film formats! In fact, I am so obsessed with Vignette that I have been using my phone to photograph everything. I picked up my Nikon yesterday… & it was dusty!
The good news is that just a few hours after I wrote the above paragraph, I walked into a store… & walked out with a Diana F+ Parisian! It is so sassy (& striped!). I raced home & bought some film on Amazon, then waited impatiently all weekend for it to arrive… I’m really excited about having a new way to document my adventures! Plus, there’s something wonderful about actually using film, not knowing how things will come out & having to wait to get it developed. A great escape from our insta-culture.
Become a bicycle-lover!
The wind in your hair as you whiz down the road at speed… What could be better, right? After falling in love with bicycles a few weeks ago, I bit the bullet & bought one which made my heart pound. Now the challenge is just in getting comfortable on it.
It’s true, riding bikes makes me nervous. It’s a known fact that riding in NYC is insane, & I am usually a person who is pretty doubtful of her own coordination. Both of these things could combine to make for an ugly situation, BUT I choose to be daring & take a risk! A life lived in fear is a life half-lived, isn’t that right?
I’ll be writing much more about my adventures in cycling — & in bicycle chic! — as time progresses. I’m excited just thinking about it!
Ride a roller coaster!
I love roller coasters! I have always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie like that. I’m going to L.A. in June with Nubby, Amy & Kevin, so maybe we will head back to Disneyland like last time. (Tower Of Terror is one of my favourite things on the entire planet!)
If not, it’s okay, because Six Flags Great Adventure is only an hour or so away from NYC! I’ve never been to Six Flags but their crazy Batman roller coaster looks amazing, & Kingda Ka is the tallest roller coaster in the world, & the fastest in North America… Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn!
Go to a water park!
It has truly been too long since I slithered speedily down a watery slide & plunged into a pool below. TOO LONG! There are no water parks in NYC — unsurprisingly — but just outside of the city are plenty of options for thrill-seekers & water babies alike.
Water Safari: Enchanted Forest looks preeeeeetty rad, Splish Splash has a 40 foot drop (!!!) IN THE DARK, & Tomahawk Lake looks like a super-cute, low-key weekend getaway. They even have picnic tables!
I think it would be so wonderful to spend a long, hot day at a water park, rocking my cutest bikini (turquoise & black stripes? Black & white polka-dots? Fluorescent pink? Who can choose?!), & screaming with delight as I splash around. Then there’s that wonderful time at the end of the day when you’re so exhausted you can barely stay awake, heading home with the last of the sunlight leaking in through the windows.
I vote YES to water parks this summer!
Learn to kickstart & ride a motorcycle!
Just ‘cause it’s badass. Plus, there are plenty of grown men who cannot kickstart a bike, & it looks pretty awesome. I like having random skills under my belt!
I don’t know if I’d be keen to take a motorcycle out on the road in Manhattan, though. That is somehow even more terrifying than riding a bicycle… ! We’ll see how we go!
It pains me to tell you that I don’t know when I last climbed a tree!
When I lived in Auckland, New Zealand, climbing a tree & sitting in it for several hours was one of my cures for a bad day. It’s pretty rad: no one bothers you, & you can just hang out & do your own thing until you’re ready to come down again.
I live near so many parks that there is really no excuse for staying on the ground all the time!
Stay awake all night & watch the stars!
Being an adult is a drag. Before you know it, you’re locked into some monotonous schedule & going to bed around midnight. Quelle yawn!
I remember back in the olden days, when I was crazy & irresponsible… I used to stay up all night ALL the time! Nowadays, I can’t even tell you the last time I did that. Maybe when I was on a plane to Paris & I couldn’t sleep!
Regardless, staying up all night is a fantastic, time-honoured tradition which I have abandoned. Chalk it up to maturity, overly vigorous workouts or just being an OLD BORE... Whatever the case, I’ve had enough! This summer I WILL stay up all night… & it will be fantastic!
Have a picnic!
People — generally — do not have enough picnics. Last year, Nubby & I threw the Virgo Birthday Extravaganza, which was picnic-esque, but I feel like in order for it to really be a PICNIC, you have to sit on the ground. (Am I wrong?) Anyway, picnics are something which can easily get away from you — the idea is always there, but somehow it just gets delayed again & again.
It’s so simple, all you need is a blanket & some nosh. In fact, here’s a really, really, really old article I wrote on the subject: How To Have A Great Picnic!
Catch (& let go of!) fireflies!
Fireflies are amazing, & before I lived in America, I had never seen them before. I’d seen them in animated movies, but didn’t believe they were real! Imagine my surprise when I saw my first one in Tompkins Square Park on a hot summer night in 2010! They are so incredible. (Did you know you can talk to fireflies?)
Last year, I was amazed & bamboozled watching Mike cup them in his hands, & to see their little lights flickering on & off. This year, I want to do it myself! Yay!
See a feature at a drive-in movie theatre!
I have NEVER been to a drive-in movie. They’re a very American phenomenon, & I’m pretty sure there’s never been a drive-in in New Zealand! Anyway, Grease pretty massively influenced my life as a child, & it bestowed upon me — as well as a love for diners, boys in motorcycle jackets, 50’s fashion & breaking into song — a major desire to attend a drive-in.
Thankfully, websites like driveinmovie.com exist, & incredibly, it appears that there are HEAPS of drive-ins within NY state! New York magazine also has a list of drive-ins near New York City, which is very helpful for people like me with little to no knowledge of American geography! The Warwick Drive-In is my pick! They’re even showing Thor!
Make an effort to dress up!
Honesty time: Sometimes I walk the dogs in my trackpants. It is so not cute or sexy. It makes me feel like I am letting the side down! That’s the problem with trackpants… They’re creeping & insidious. You buy them to work out in, & then you get home & they’re just soooOOOooOOoOOooo comfortable that who would want to take them off? Before long, you’re wearing Uggs to fancy dinners & chewing gum even in your sleep. It’s an ugly scene.
I’ve already started on this resolution, but I’m definitely making more of an effort in my everyday life. Just wearing a simple skirt makes me feel SO MUCH BETTER than a pair of trackpants! Yuck! Fanciness forever!
Go to the botanical gardens!
Everyone always thinks of NYC as being this crazy concrete jungle, with a total lack of nature. It’s so untrue! I mean, sure, there are a lot of buildings, & people are crammed in on top of one another, but the streets are actually lined with trees… & we have some of the loveliest gardens, parks & public spaces in the country.
In addition to our world famous parks — oh, you may have heard of this one, Central Park?! — we have the New York Botanical Garden, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden & the Queens Botanical Garden, all free, huge & bursting with wonder. There are always events going on: the NYBG is opening an 11 acre azalea garden this weekend, & it’s Wildflower Week at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Getting out of the house & into the oxygen is so important. My goal this summer is to go & DO THAT, instead of staring at Twitter!
Go on a roadtrip!
I am SO EXCITED to actually do this… My best girl from Australia is visiting the U.S.A., so we’re going to meet in Miami (which I am totally rapturous about!), spend a few days there, then roadtrip around!
The best thing about hanging out with her is that we have very similar agendas: great hotels, vintage shopping, weird kitschy diners, sunshine & shoe shops! She insists that we must visit Cracker Barrel (I’ve never been), as well as take a ghost tour in St. Augustine. I’m SO in! I can’t wait to see her again!
Become awesome at the trapeze!
The more time I spend in the air, hanging from a bar, the better I feel about life. It’s true!
I have been loving my trapeze lessons more than you could imagine. It’s so much fun & it really engages a different part of your brain. When you’re up there, there’s no time for logic — you have to listen to the commands from below, & just do them. When you stop thinking about it, you’re amazed by what you can do.
I’m learning an average of two tricks per lesson at this point, with no intention of stopping! I want to go flying on Trapeze School New York’s outdoor rig next!
Fire a gun!
I am not really a gun girl. I never grew up with guns, & my first time seeing one in the flesh was when I came to NYC & they were attached to every cop. It kind of freaked me out, to be honest. The police in New Zealand don’t have guns, though some rural officers will keep a shotgun in the car, in case there’s like… a wild boar attack, or something!
But I like the idea of knowing how to shoot a gun, & being a good shot in general. You never know, right? Plus, it’s cool to be able to do unexpected things. Most people would not look at me & think, ‘Now, there’s a lady who knows how to handle a pistol’. That’s what appeals to me most!
Attend retreats & courses!
Retreats & courses appeal to me in so many ways. Firstly, there’s the “escape” portion. I have a Sagittarius Moon, so travel is always going to be a huge, magnificent, life-enhancing part of my world. Secondly, they help to quench my insatiable curiousity about the world. I love to learn new things, & a course is a wonderful way to do that.
I attended Veronica Varlow’s Danger Dame School of Deadly Charms on Sunday, & I absolutely loved it. It was magnificent, & it put me a little bit out of my comfort zone, & I came away from it feeling so reinvigorated!
On Thursday, I’m going to Danielle LaPorte & Marie Forleo’s Selling Your Soul, which I just know is going to be off the hook. I can’t wait!
Also on my retreat wishlist are Redvolution: Unleashing the Red Hot & Holy Feminine with Sera Beak (LOVE!) & Surf & Bikini Boot Camp in Hawaii. Yes! Please!
Stay at the Madonna Inn!
The Madonna Inn is the stuff of legend. Built in 1958 & located in San Luis Obispo, it has been an ever-evolving project, with more rooms being built all the time. It now has 110 hotel rooms available, each uniquely decorated. There is a room for every possible eventuality; you can take your pick from waterfall showers, psychedelic carpet & wild floral bedspreads.
Oh, & I didn’t even mention the best bit… They have a Barbie pink steakhouse. It’s simply fantastic. LET’S GO! (Bring your camera!)
Go to the Jazz Age Lawn Party!
I’ve been meaning to go to the Jazz Age Lawn Party for years — & in fact, even just to get out to Governor’s Island — but when I read Shilo’s post about the party, I knew that THIS year was going to be the year I did it!
1920’s & 1930’s style is not so much my bag, but I have more 1950’s dresses than I know what to do with! I want to wear a fabulous dress & a big hat, take a picnic & a blanket, & have a dance. I think these are modest, sane goals, don’t you?
Make more time for meditation & magic!
What are your goals for the summer (or winter)? Be sure to write them down somewhere prominent, so you see them all the time!
I’m planning to cross mine off during the next few months, & I’ll let you know how I get on!
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