the folks at Kinfolk

A few days ago, I participated in some market research slash retail therapy, as a little treat to myself after a slightly stress-filled but productive week at work.  To my delight the supercool (a mobile emporium) popped up at my local shopping center.  It was there that I stumbled across Kinfolk – a guide for small gatherings- created by a growing community of artists with a shared interest in small gatherings.  Delightful and very sweet.

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Invest in the human family.  Invest in people.  Build a little community of those you love and who love you.  ~Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

Photo Credit:  Kinfolk

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Spring Clean Your Heart – Get Rid of Jealousy

If you live Down-Under, we’re one month into Spring! (Yay – although it barely feels like it).  Whilst most of us will spend some time in our lives cleaning the house, cleaning the car, cleaning the mailbox etc, not many of us will  consciously pause to take inventory of the state of our heart.  Sometimes niggling, not so pleasant, emotions harbour there and can slowly grow into something  which eats away at our relationships with others and also with ourselves.
I used to think that jealousy was a teenage emotion and something which I had grown out of.  However, just last month the green eyed monster reared its ugly head.  The situation was fairly quickly resolved, as the person involved sensed the distance between us and cared enough to initiate a conversation about it.  I came to realise that all my worries were figments of my over-active imagination and that I was doing the other person a dis-favour by not raising the issue with them and giving them an opportunity to speak.

Coincidentally, a couple of days ago, I read this article on Jealousy, Relationships, and the voices in Your Head which fleshes out the undercurrents of jealousy.  I love sharing things that I find helpful.  It’s true, ‘a person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.’ (Tim Ferriss)

Go on.  Have that conversation – even if you anticipate it to be awkward.  It’s almost never as bad as the scenario in your head.

Definition of Success

IT’S EARLY September.  Right about the time when Year 12 students start to come undone as final exams draw near.  The fun of the formal fades into a distant memory as the enormity of University choices (or lack thereof) become apparent.  Speaking as one who crackled under this pressure in by-gone years(and survived) and more recently as a tutor…..here are some (useful) thoughts:

1. Writing notes does not necessarily equal to learning.  There is no point re-writing the whole text book if none of it is retained in your memory.  Find out how you learn best and use it to your advantage. 

2. When you study for humanity subjects (English, legal studies, history etc) handwrite your answers.  Yes, the computer is useful and yes, the ipad is pretty….but in the exam you’re going to have to handwrite your answers.  Practice so that you are used to it – we often over-estimate how much we can write when we rely on the computer.

3.  Learn what you don’t know and not what you know.  I know it sounds obvious, but often people revise what they already know because it boosts their confidence.  Be self aware and tackle those tricky ones!  Each new concept you ‘get’ means one less concept you don’t ‘get’.

4.  Don’t skimp on doing practice papers – they are the singular best way to find out how you are going and what you need to focus on!  If you do enough practice papers, you’re likely to get a topic or question in the exam which you have attempted.  There’s only so many ways a question can be asked.

5.  Use the study design to your advantage (I didn’t do this back in Year 12) – the dot points are what you need to know.  They are one of the best summaries and study tools around (but which are often overlooked).

6.  Finally, re-adjust your definition of success if need be.  No one can ask you for more than your best.  When it all becomes too much, try to learn for the sake of learning and not VCE.  Remember any subject is fascinating in itself (although it may not appear so when you have no choice but to learn it).  Knowledge adds to your life – it not only makes you more interesting to talk to, but it helps you to relate to those who are different to yourself.  Give it your all.  But know that if the final result is not exactly as you have hoped, there are many paths for getting to the same destination.  Life is full of second chances!

Below is a poem that my VCE Chemistry teacher gave me prior to my final exams.  I have revamped it a bit by painting a picture with it.  Life is bigger than VCE – although it might not feel like it at the time.

Counting down to Christmas…..

 Often, I whinge about stores advertising for Christmas prematurely and playing carols in the mall waaaaay before the season is on anyone’s radar.  This year however, I’ve been counting down to Christmas.  A series of events in my life have prompted me to consider what are the bedrocks in my life.  I can’t wait to spend Christmas with family and people special to me, celebrating Christ’s birth.  It’s never too early to savour life’s moments, to treat love ones well and to speak what you mean. x

Photo from Haley Sheffield.

the Forgotten Art of Gift-Giving

My iphone cover is slightly embarrassing.  It is so sparkly (read bling!) that I have to hide it behind my hair whenever I answer the phone, particularly in professional contexts.  However, it makes me smile because it was given to me out of love by an eight-year-old.  She gave me what she would like herself and beams every time she sees me use it.  That’s enough reason for me to keep using it.

Being somewhat introspective at times, I’ve come to the realisation that my gift giving strategy is like that of an eight-year old.  I buy presents based on what I like, regardless of how it will be received by the other person.  Sometimes this works well (if I’m buying for a twenty-six year old female), but I don’t think a teenage boy appreciates being given a sportsgirl voucher.

As I think about this some more, I’ve come to realise that gift giving is an art and that some people are really good at it.  I can name every single present that my dear friend E has given me for the 6 years that we were in high school together- that’s because she understood me, took the time to notice and wasn’t stingy with her time nor resources.  They weren’t expensive gifts, but they were something that spoke exactly the right thing into my life at precisely the right time.  For example, when I was in high school I really wanted a trophy.  The problem with trophies is that they must be earned.  Being somewhat of an incompetent sports person, the only sport that I was vaguely good at was swimming.  So I joined the school swimming squad, practicing three times a week before school for a whole year – determined to win the end of year swimming meet.  I trained, I persevered and I won – only to realise that they give out medals for swimming, not trophies.  E noticed this….and for Christmas that year, she gave me a trophy for being a ‘champion friend’!

She’s the one who’s the Champion friend!!!  I went on to win a trophy for tennis a couple of years later – but in comparison – this trophy means much more to me.

T is someone else who is good at getting prezzies that make me smile.  Having noticed that I forever have problems with umbrellas which turn inside out (and often feel embarassed about this), he secretly ordered a Senz umbrella for me.  It’s aerodynamic, doesn’t flip, and should stand up to 80km/h!  Overpriced brolly- yes.  But totally happy – I bring it everywhere with me!

Do you struggle with giving meaningful gifts?  What strategies help you?