What I learned (and re-learned) in 2020

  1. When I was little, about 8 years old, we went into the city to take my brother to the dental hospital. We lived in the country and when I saw all the tall buildings I asked my dad what the people did in there all day. “This and that,” he said. Then I asked what would happen if they all stopped what they were doing. He said that would never happen. He was wrong.
  2. There’s nothing like a health scare to get your priorities straight. The world has had a major health scare this year and I had a minor one. I caught mine in time, I just hope the world can get on top of it too.
  3. 4Ms of mental health got me through this year. It’s a perfect system for me because I get to DO a lot! The 4 Ms are Movement, Mindfulness, Meaningful Engagement, and Mastery. (Dr Sue Varma) Many of us automatically turned to Movement for our sanity. I would not have coped so well this year without yoga. The Boy and The Boss have been doing home workouts all year and returned to their sports and gym when they could. Mindfulness is a much bandied about word and most of us have no idea what it mean let alone how to ‘do’ it. For me it’s being present in my daily activities, something I need to improve. I have returned to my daily Meditation practice using the Insight Timer when the noise in my head got too loud for seated meditation. Meaningful Engagement saw us all reading, playing games, writing letters (or books in some cases). Many people returned to study and hobbies. And Mastery. I decided to learn formatting, relearn my old Photoshop skills, and deep dive into editing.
  4. This year the world has turned to science for safety and the arts for succour. I’m not great at science so my contribution, my writing, is given in the spirit of education, of calming, and of course, entertainment.
  5. I’m told Charles Darwin mentioned the term ‘survival of the fittest’ 3 or 4 times in his book The Origin of the Species, but wrote the word ‘Love’ more than 80 times. I cannot find a reference for this, and short of reading it with a pencil in hand I cannot back this up with fact. The person who said this was trying to make the point that humans may learn through adversity but what gets us through that adversity is Love. My heart goes out to anyone who is facing this turbulent time alone. My family would not have coped without each other this year. I live and work with my two favourite people in the world who I call The Boss and The Boy. I am forever grateful for their presence in my life and love them deeply for their unique often hilarious take on the world around us.
  6. Even the smartest person in the room can still learn something from everyone else in the room. My son taught me this.
  7. Never take anything for granted. Nothing like a global pandemic to hone those priorities.
  8. Australia is a pretty damn good place to live. It’s got it’s shortcomings like everywhere else but it’s safe and despite the sometimes dubious efforts of the powers that be, looks after its citizens.
  9. Having said that, some people here follow everything the USA does, especially the stupid stuff. Seriously, if John Howard hadn’t got rid of the guns we’d be having school shootings. Stop it, people. Please. And they call us sheeple.
  10. You can fool some of the people all the time has never been more true. The dangerous conspiracy theories bandied about this year have been mind blowing. I’m sorry, but anyone who thinks there are 300,000 children in tunnels under Melbourne has rocks in their heads. It is manipulation by bad foreign players aiming to destabilise our country. Well they’re working to destabilise the USA but read point 6 again for clarification. They’re playing into your desire to help others. Who wouldn’t want to help children? Are you a monster. Are you one of them if you disagree? Divide and conquer has never been easier in the social media era. I read an article today that said one of the lead conspiracy theorists was starting to wonder if Trump really was “playing 5D chess…” *sigh…
  11. Hoarding comes from the same mentality whether it’s toilet paper, money, or houses. The “Me First, You if there’s any Left” mentality is alive and well.
  12. I can’t control how people around me behave or how they respond to me. I know I should have learned this years ago but hey…
  13. Even though I’m nearly 50 I don’t have to rush towards my goals. What will be mine will be mine in the right timing. Rushing, forcing and fretting only makes us anxious. Opportunities can be missed when we’re anxious.
  14. You can change others but only by changing yourself. Even something as simple as putting up a boundary, saying no, can ripple out into your life.
  15. So many people are running around right now talking about the “Great Awakening.” Waking up is awesome but before you wake up, you need to make time to show up, clean up, and grow up. WHY? Because as the late, great Louise Hay said, you have to see the dirt before you can clean the house, and I say you have to clean the house before you can have a party! How do we show up, clean up and grow up? A great place to start is Integral Theory and Spiral Dynamics. A few years back I happened to listen to a talk by Ken Wilber, the co-founder of Integral Theory. Integral Theory grew from Spiral Dynamics. Spiral Dynamics (SD) is a model of the evolutionary development of individuals, organizations, and societies which was developed by Don Edward Beck and Christopher Cowan. It was based on the emergent cyclical theory of Clare W. Graves, combined with memetics as proposed by Richard Dawkins and further developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. A later collaboration between Beck and Ken Wilber produced Spiral Dynamics Integral (SDi), with Wilber subsequently incorporating his own modified version into his overall Integral theory.[1] Right so all that was from Wikipedia. Please do yourself a favour and read what you can on SD and Integral Theory. There are a bunch of podcasts (See Actualized.org, The Lively Show, Your Own Magic) Actualized.org has some videos, too. You can also read my very basic descriptions of Spiral Dynamics. Spiralling in my current rabbit hole, Spiral Dynamics, Green to Yellow and beyond. Our future literally depends on our ability to grow up right now.
  16. Purging your social media, follows, like, etc is almost as good as a holiday! I have Marie Kondo-ed my feed and unfollowed any account that doesn’t SPARK JOY. It hurt to unfollow wefuckinghatedonaldtrump but they had to go. I don’t need the aggravation but they are funny af. Usually I do a big purge of emails on New Years Day – I’m an early riser and I normally use that time to clean out my handbag, delete unwanted emails, clean up my hard drive…you know, fun stuff… But inspired by a friend, I did my purge on 1/12/20 and felt like I was getting a head start. For the past 2 years, I’ve been doing a ‘challenge’ called #Last90Days and the idea is to spend the last 90 or so days of the year GSD (getting shit done) and I LOVE IT because I’m a fan of GSD!
  17. I am rubbish at gardening and I have only just realised this. Completely rubbish at it.
  18. Shadow work is never finished but we all owe it to humanity to do our work. A lot of people are focussed right now on the collective shadow, all the shitty things humans have done to each other and are still perpetuating…I know, there’s a lot of that going on…BUT the only way to really work on the collective shadow is to do our own work in private and watch the ripples out into the collective. I can’t fix you, you can’t fix your dad, he can’t fix his boss…we can only ‘fix’ ourselves but as each of us grows, the impact on those around us is undeniable.
  19. Your ‘work’ will ripple out, there is no need to try to change other people (see point 18 above.) My husband and son are serious animal lovers but still eat meat. They are eating far less meat now though. I have never harassed them, I’ve never shamed them…that doesn’t work! Spiral Dynamics ‘Green and below stages’ often insist on shaming meat eaters and this only gets their backs up. No lasting change comes from being made to feel bad. Having said that I think there is a way to spread certain messages on social media to educate people on how their choices impact other people, animals and the environment and this is very important work.
  20. Individuals can make a difference. I am committed to a plant-based diet, recycling, and reducing single-use plastics in my home and business using products from ZeroCo. Don’t let anyone tell you your contribution doesn’t help. I heard the founder of ZeroCo on Osher Günsberg‘s podcast and signed up immediately. Amidst a global pandemic they put out great products that produce zero waste.
  21. If someone suggests you do something, you should consider it. I was listening to an interview with Lisa Jewell, multi-million seller author of The People Upstairs. She started writing because a friend promised to take her to dinner if she wrote her first three chapters. How wonderful to have such a caring friend. My dear friend Deb was that person for me when I was writing Hotel Deja Vu. Deb encouraged me, read large parts of it even in its roughest form, and gave me critical feedback. I couldn’t have written it without her! In the same spirit, just yesterday my friend Julia tagged me in a post suggesting my son sign up for Masterclass so I signed us both up on the 2 for 1 offer! He’s going to love the music classes and I am already half-way through Judy Blume’s class.
  22. Saying yes is often more fun than saying no. People celebrate the power of saying no, but I love the sheer beauty of saying yes and all that brings to our lives. Certainly if we’re learning to set boundaries with toxic people, saying ‘no’ packs a punch, for us and them. They say in business we ‘say yes until you can say no’. I see this in The Day Job as we’ve reached a point where we can say no often. But saying yes to invitations, to events, to travel (when we can), to adventures can bring magic into our quotidian existence before, during, and after the actual event.
  23. Just because someone gives you a pineapple, doesn’t mean you have to sit on it. Pain is part of being human, suffering is a choice.
  24. There is a massive difference between astrology and horoscopes! The two are related but the way I see it, astrology is to horoscopes what a 3-star Michelin chef is to making pancakes. I have absolutely no hope of explaining it better than that! Sorry! I follow the remarkable Dr Michael Lennox and he can explain it better!
  25. For Writers – Marketing and editing can be easy and even fun if you shift your mind set around those ‘chores.’ Like washing the dishes, selling and improving on our work is crucial for all creatives so we might as well enjoy it! I discovered the joy of editing through creating a process. The first draft is done by hand, then typed into the computer. This is printed and hand edited. I then type the edits into the Word document, expanding and editing again which acts as an extra ‘pass’…then I use the Read Aloud function in Word to listen to my story. This picks up typos, repeated words, missing punctuation. I read along with the computer voice and pick up homophones and other hidden mistakes.
  26. We have to write what’s in our hearts, even if no one will ever read it.
  27. Writers need other writers in their lives. When I was painting I don’t think I ever truly connected with other artists but perhaps it’s me who has grown…
  28. Some people don’t like swear words, some people don’t like the word moist. I don’t like the sound of snoring but I’m working on it. Being stuck in our predilections and antagonism isn’t healthy. Every day a new meme pops up on socials – introverts don’t like this, tropes we hate as readers, writers procrastinate (what are we like, eh? I’m so dysfunctional, isn’t it cute?) Our triggers are signposts to our shadows – we can learn so much from what annoys the crap out of us. Invite 2021 to be the year we all get over our petty personal poisons of choice and realise our potential!
  29. 2020 = I LEARNED. 2021 = I APPLY.

For 2020, my word was discipline. I think I’ve been pretty disciplined. My word for the coming year is Potential. Let’s see if I can live up to it!