#92 Be Low Maintenance

When I hear the phrase ‘high maintenance’, my mind generates an image of a perfectly groomed girl in a miniskirt, walking along in Jimmy Choo heels, toting a Gucci handbag with her obliging boyfriend meekly in tow.

But being low maintenance means more than just not requiring label clothes and feeling ok without a weekly manicure.

I like to think of it as needing less. In many senses of the word.

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#91 Be an Artist

I didn’t like art day in homeschool group.

My lines were all wobbly. My noses looked like carrots. My stick people didn’t do what I wanted them to.

So I wrote myself off as an artist, and decided I’d be a writer instead. Words were much easier to work with.

It’s only very recently that I’ve realised I can be an artist. And so can you. We don’t have to sketch incredibly life-like portraits, paint awe-inspiring landscapes, or form perfect pottery bowls.

All we have to do is express ourselves.

Can you fingerpaint?

You’re an artist.

Can you stick colourful squares on paper?

You’re an artist.

Can you decorate a cake?

You’re an artist. 

Can you handwrite a quote in bold pen, and draw pretty squiggles around the border?

You’re an artist.

Can you make a strange yet wondrous sculpture out of recycled things you found in the garage?

You’re an artist.

It’s time we move past our mental blocks of ‘I can’t paint’, ‘I can’t draw’, ‘I’ve never been good at art’, and just start using our creativity, in whatever form it takes.

Here’s some guidelines from Sark:

sark-how-to-be-an-artist

Be an Artist. 

#90 Be Selective

There was a time when I said yes to just about anything – new friends, new opportunities, new clients, new places, new events, new causes to give money to or volunteer for …

It was fun. I learnt a lot, experienced things I wouldn’t have otherwise, ended up with heaps of people in my circle, plenty of work to do – but eventually, it all becomes a bit much.

Racing to a different social event every night, trying to remember all the birthdays, babies, and things going on in your friends lives, working late to make sure your clients are happy … it’s a recipe for exhaustion.

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#89 Be a Self-starter

Part of us is secretly waiting to be discovered.

We’re waiting for our big break – a gracious benefactor to spot our innate talent and sponsor further study, our boss to finally recognise all that hard work and grant a promotion, a venture capitalist to be wowed by our business nous over dinner and back the idea that we’ve been talking about for years.

But it just doesn’t seem to happen. 

The talent scout passes us over, the promotion never comes, the wealthy investor isn’t conveniently seated beside us at the networking event.

We wonder why. We shake our heads. We stick our ideas in the bottom drawer along with lumps of blu-tack, broken bulldog clips and dusty photoframes.

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#88 Be a Maker

We visited a friend yesterday.

There in the middle of his lawn stood a crazy contraption – a tall, empty gas tube, lawnmower engine balanced on top, and two halves of a plastic barrel hung out like wings on the sides. It looked like some sort of strange flying machine.

He proudly announced to us that this was his new kitesurfing pump.

The wind spins around the barrel-wings, causing the piston in the motor to move, and compressing the air, ready to pump out from the valve he’d attached.

He’d made it all from things found at the dump, it took the better part of a Saturday, and made him feel like Albert Einstein.

There’s a simple joy to be found in making things.

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#87 Be Surrendered

I’ve been through some interesting challenges over the recent weeks. My work has been on a low since pre-Christmas with only a few little jobs here and there. I didn’t feel in demand or needed as much as I was before when things were really busy and I wished they were a bit quieter. And with those few jobs that did come through, I allowed myself to wander in thoughts wishing for greater, more significant and purposeful tasks. Stuff that makes a “real” impact. I ended up in a small crisis; feeling lost and unsure whether what I am doing is the right thing. Continue reading

#86 Be Real

I went to a 10 day Vipassana meditation course recently.

Seeing as I was already going without talking, treats, books, music, cuddles, and exercise, I figured I might as well add one more thing to the list.

Concealer.

Ever since I was about 13 and discovered this magic brown stuff that could perform miracles – making ugly pimples, scars, or any other skin imperfection disappear – I’ve been a faithful applier. Each morning after washing my face, I wouldn’t let ‘the world’ see me until my concealer was on. I didn’t care about other make-up (my sister can tell you that I’ll practically run away from an eyeshadow brush!), but I’d always felt safer, more confident, and I guess just, well, prettier with concealer on.

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#85 Be an Initiator

I sometimes catch myself waiting.

Waiting for someone else to come up with an idea.

Waiting for my friend to let me know they’ve been thinking about me.

Waiting for my partner to be the first to say ‘I’m sorry’.

Waiting for a situation to change so I’m happier, more content, or better off.

The thing I’ve realised is – nothing much tends to happen when you’re just passively waiting around for it. Chances are, everyone else is doing the same thing.

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#84 Be Self-forgetting

To be perfectly honest with you, I hardly ever ‘forget’ about myself. Even when I am giving to another person, or doing something for them, if I dig down really deep it’s likely that I have some sort of hidden agenda. Something I’m expecting in return, or some ‘good’ reason which means I feel more important as a result of doing or giving.

It’s rare that I do something without any sense of self entangled-up in the action. And when I realise that, it makes me sad. Because why am I so gosh-darn important anyway that I always need to be thinking of my own interests? Truth is, I’m just a tiny speck floating around this big planet. Like you. Like any of us.

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#83 Be a Rule-Breaker

We have an abundance of rules and norms that regulate our behaviors and influence our judgement of what we think is right or wrong. To mention only a few common ones, in most countries and cultures there are rules and norms for how fast you can drive, where to park, on what to wear in different contexts, what time we have to appear at work and when we can leave, what you’re allowed to say and to whom, and what you can bring with you on airplanes, and so on. Continue reading