For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been focusing on creating 15 second films – some filmed while I’m out and about in London, and some quirky ones filmed at home.
Ironically, Instagram now allows you to upload films up to 60 seconds long – but I think I’m going to stick with 15 seconds or thereabouts for now. It’s harder to keep someone’s interest for a full minute!
I’ve always had problems finding comfortable shoes – so once I’ve found some, I dress from the feet up.
So, off I trekked to the “outdoors” shop in Kingston to try on some hiking shoes. I tried on several pairs of sensible grey shoes, but none of them felt comfortable. I was starting to feel rather embarrassed. In desperation, I tried on a bright pink pair – and they were really comfortable! So I bought them.
Fortunately, I have some clothes with a bit of bright pink in them (the outfit has to match the shoes), so all was hunky dory for a while. But then I started to get bored wearing pink all the time, and I longed for other colours. But how could I wear other colours with bright pink shoes?
I thought the answer was to buy an identical pair of shoes in GREY. So I sent off for a pair.
In the meantime, the deadline for sending in a summary of the talk I was planning to do at the Polyglot Conference in Berlin was looming. I had been feeling exhausted pretty much since our trip to Venice, and I just didn’t have the energy to think about Berlin. So I wrote to the organisers and said I couldn’t go.
I immediately felt a sense of relief. I told myself I had been asking too much of myself, committing myself to doing too much yet again. Pulling out of the event was the right thing to do.
But then I started to realise that I did want to go to Berlin after all. After a bold start, I had just got scared – and feelings of exhaustion had clouded my judgement. But was it too late to change my mind?
A couple of days later, I got an e-mail asking those of us who had missed the deadline if we could get the summary of our talk to them by a new deadline. I wrote to the organisers again, explaining my health situation and asking if I could be put back on the list of speakers.
The next day I received a reply. “Of course!” Hoorah – I was back on track.
Meanwhile, the grey shoes had arrived – but I was having second thoughts about them. They felt like a metaphor for me losing the will to be bold – so I decided to send them back.
No more grey and sensible. It’s time to invest in my greatness and stand out from the crowd.
Bring on the bold, bright colours!!
(Update: I later tried the grey shoes on with a pair of black jeans, and they actually looked quite cool. So I decided to keep them after all, so that I could wear other bright colours – red, yellow, green… which I couldn’t wear with the pink shoes. Bold, bright AND sensible!!)
I’ve done pretty much all of Xanthe’s courses over the past 3 years, and this one has been the most fun, partly because Xanthe gives you a topic each week to get you started, and partly because it’s so much easier to do a 15 second video than a 2 minute video – so I’ve managed to do one every week!!
There’s been a wonderful sense of community among the participants on the course, on both Instagram and Vimeo. Everyone has really been inspired by Xanthe’s prompts, training videos and support, and so many have stepped up and shared their films each week – and that has encouraged me to do likewise.
And now that the course has ended (sob), I plan to keep on going!!
It was a rocky start. We missed the flight and arrived a day late. But Venice forgave us and welcomed us with open arms and a sunny disposition.
It’s been a dream of mine to visit Venice for as long as I can remember – but I could never work out when would be the best time to go, to avoid the crowds and the mosquitoes.
Then I saw a friend’s post on Instagram, saying she was planning to visit Venice for Carnival. “When is Carnival in Venice?” I wondered. So I googled it and found it was due to start the day after my birthday.
Of course, had we gone in the summer, it would have been warmer. But it would have been a lot more crowded too. As it was, although we didn’t have the place to ourselves, we were easily able to make our way through the winding alleyways and over the picturesque canal bridges without being jostled.
Before we went, I had asked friends who either lived in Venice or had visited Venice: where should we go? In the end, we followed just one friend’s advice: simply get lost!
Venice isn’t all that large – compared with London, for example. But you can’t get anywhere in a straight line – you constantly have to make detours, so it can take a lot longer to get anywhere than you imagine. But that’s half the fun.
Everywhere you turn, you find stunningly beautiful architecture, the buildings encircled by turquoise-coloured waterways populated by bow-shaped gondolas being coaxed along by gondoliers in traditional striped jumpers and straw boater hats.
It’s a photographer’s and film maker’s dream!
Since our return, I’ve been feeling bereft – rather like I do when I’ve been enjoying reading a novel and have become engrossed in its plot.
This I know: we shall return, perhaps when the weather is warmer – even though that would mean sharing la Serenissima with many more of her admirers.
This has been a good week for reflections, in more ways than one. There have been blue skies, and I’ve been searching for reflections of iconic London monuments – such as Big Ben, Nelson’s Column and St Paul’s Cathedral – in the windows of surrounding buildings.
I’ve also been reflecting on the highs and “less-highs” of 2015, and thinking about next steps for 2016. I don’t tend to write in a journal or a year planner – I prefer to set a general intention for the year, and then stay open to spotting opportunities as they arise. My intention for this year is to be BOLD: to ask for, or offer things that might lead to people saying no. Or yes! (Both are equally scary!)
My reflections have also been inspired by what other people say…
“To the ones who asked me why I left my very good and well-paid job in London, to the dozens emails I receive weekly asking how, and to the many messages and comments seeking advice on how to follow your dream to travel the world.
Well, here is the honest answer you were waiting for: Fear. .
Yes, fear is what got me out of my comfort zone and “easy” life in the UK. Fear to be missing out, fear I would never be truly happy despite all my successes and accomplishments on the corporate ladder, fear I would postpone my own dream to travel to prioritise the common need of a shining CV and spotless career. Fear I would never see the world with my eyes, photograph it or writing about it. Fear my travel around Australasia would stay in the dream drawer forever. Fear that I might actually die before I could see all the things I wanted to see, do, experience or be. Fear I would never touch the Taj Mahal, or speak a few words of Hindi, fear I couldn’t never surf in Australia, fear I would never ride a camel or an elephant. Fear I couldn’t never see a kangaroo or hug a koala. Fear I wouldn’t see the skyscrapers in Hong Kong or discover the secret of mysterious Myanmar. Fear I would miss my chance for happiness. .
And this might sound a bit dramatic, because it is in fact. When somebody close to you does die, that fear you have dominated or forgotten for so long, comes out of nowhere and start eating you alive. This is what happened last year and this is what got me on the road 6 months later. Forget your career, your boss or your stupid professional achievements. .
Get out, eat the world, learn a new language, dance with strangers, look at the stars in the desert. Be alive. Feel alive. Inspire and be inspired. There is nothing more to life than feeling free. .
This is why I want to keep going, explore Asia and the countries I skipped because I feel in love with #India so much. I want to share this wonderful experience with a group of like-minded people, inspire and be inspired on the journey. See, experience, feel alive and make my life remarkable.
This is my mission. What is yours?”
I found this so inspiring, and it got me thinking. Fear is often what stops people from making progress – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection… But when I think about my own experiences, I realise I’ve also been driven by fear. Years ago, when I told a friend that I was reading “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers, she said: “you don’t need to read that – you love the fear!” And in a way, she’s right.
I don’t love the bungee jumping kind of fear, but I do like to constantly challenge myself – to see whether I can do just a bit more than I think I can. It keeps me on my toes.
That’s why I spent a month in Germany at the age of 15; why I worked as a temp during the holidays as a student, facing different technology and office politics each week; why I trained to be a computer programmer even though I had no idea what they did; and why I accepted a job that I knew would send me to Australia and New Zealand for my first project, despite being acutely claustrophobic and terrified at the idea of being stuck in a flying tin can for 24 hours!
It’s also why I did a parachute jump on the third attempt, in my twenties, despite being brought back down in the plane on my first attempt, and being pushed out of the plane on my second attempt!
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, in 2008, I knew I needed to change my life in some way, but I didn’t know how. I spent several months reading inspirational books and taking care of myself – but at the end of that time, I still didn’t know how to change my life. When I was re-diagnosed in 2011, and again in 2013, I realised I had fallen into the trap of believing other people knew better than me, and I felt that I needed to be myself, rather than trying to be like someone else. I even wrote a Manifesto about it.
But each time, after taking some time off, I went back to doing what wasn’t working – chaining myself to the desk and trying to build a business on the wrong foundations.
So in 2014, when I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in the spine, I realised I really needed to get off the treadmill and make some drastic changes. The diagnoses were getting closer together (3 years, 2 years, 1 year) and I genuinely feared that my life might end very soon.
My husband, bless him, told me: “stop worrying about trying to earn a living, and do what you love” – which was ironic, as that’s what I used to tell my life and career coaching clients!
I’ve always loved travel, but I didn’t have the energy or the funds to go far in 2015. So I decided to explore London with my camera (or, more specifically, my iPhone) and to meet new people. I stopped talking about “earning a living” – as though I have to do something in order to deserve to be alive – and instead thought about ways in which I might earn income from filming and photography.
2015 was a fantastic year. My energy levels gradually improved – although I still get very tired if I’m out and about or with friends for more than a couple of hours, and I have to have rest days in between. I had lots of fun and I made some lovely new friends.
In 2016 I want to continue filming and photographing, catching up with the friends I’ve made, and meeting new people. I also want to stretch my boundaries and travel more, and to find ways to get paid to travel. (I’ve done it before…!)
So this week, when I received an e-mail asking for ideas for lectures, workshops or language courses for the Polyglot Conference in Berlin, in May 2016, I sent off a proposal for delivering a talk about introverts as multi-linguists/polyglots. I was convinced they would say no, but I thought I might as well send it anyway, as I had nothing to lose – and they’ve said YES. Berlin here we come!! 😀