Category Archives: Lifestyle

Getting Focused on Dividing our Attention

Yep…that’s a yak.
cc license, Rob Blatt

A Sydney friend, Josh Capelin, gave a talk at the last local Pecha Kucha about yak shaving. It inspired me to write a blog post and share a few thoughts on multi-tasking related to professional lives. That was five months ago and I’ve been putting it off. You’ll see the irony in minute here, let me explain…

People sometimes frown upon taking on too many projects at once. It goes against the idea of getting focused and seeing something through from start to finish. However, I would tend to agree that I would rather move a few inches across several projects that a mile on one.  My mind isn’t scattered, but rather always thinking, dreaming and scheming.

Josh spoke about the many jobs and projects he has taken on. Some might view this is a journey – a path to figuring out what we want to achieve in life or where our careers will take us. This assumes that we are taking this disorganised journey to get somewhere, when perhaps this actually just life. I’m not convinced it’s always a bad thing to get distracted by the details and end up walking around in circles for a while. We choose to wear many hats at once.

I was at a talk by Frank Chimero during Vivid Sydney that I really enjoyed.  He had this great message around how he does things the “long, hard and stupid way” this is some of his best work. So perhaps when we are yak shaving and dividing our attention this is also some of our best work.

What do you think? Is this a phase we work through or a way to work? 

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Moving Day

All packed and ready to go!

I’m moving to a new place today. I’m bummed to leave Surry Hills, but I won’t be far away. My new spot is just on the other side of Oxford Street, in the lovely suburb of Darlinghurst.

Packing up my things reminded me of my promise for this new year to consumes less. It’s shocking how much I’ve seem to have collected over the last year and a half while living in Sydney. When I moved here I brought four large suitcases (shoes and clothing mostly). I definitely couldn’t fit my belongings now into those same four suitcases. What’s even worse is that I have stuff back in Ohio still. Stuff I haven’t used in 2+ years, collecting dust.

I do think that it’s a physiological challenge to battle “owning” things. I’m not a crazy hoarder or obsessive compulsive shopper by any means, but I don’t think I have the mindset (right now) to own less. I don’t understand what it means to be a minimalist. It’s something I have to work on changing and it’s not as simple as “just getting rid of stuff.”

Do you feel like owning too much “stuff” weighs you down? Any advice you can share? 

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Finding Your Home: Waking up an Expat

cc license, adamcnelson

How long does it take for the expat to wake up and no longer feel like an expat? Or does that day never come for some people? I don’t ask because I think I’m anywhere close to that day. In fact, I can’t imagine it. Next week I will have been gone for a year, and I have just begun my journey.

I’m curious how others define home. It goes back to the question, is home where you’re from or is home where you make it? Also, is home a physical location or do you think a home can be metaphorical, like a home you make with someone you love. Everyone seems to have different ideas about what home is and can mean.

If you had asked me a few years ago I would have told you that home will always be where I grew up, where my parents live, where so many memories were made. Now I’m less convinced. I’m young and have a lot of time to make new memories. I’ll always miss family and friends when I’m away but that will soon be true no matter where I go in the world.

One of my best friends from home wrote me an email that summed up the way I had been feeling about being away from home. “I feel like my heart is split between the continents, as far as Australia. I fear I will never find peace because I can never come close to having everyone that I love,” she said.When we are eighty and old and cranky will we look back and regret that we left our family for so long? For so selfish an endeavor? I am still not sure.

I don’t mean to come across as dramatic about being away. It was definitely my choice to move and I love living in Australia. That’s actually just the problem. As my friend pointed out, perhaps my issue isn’t finding home but rather that I might always feel divided between homes. No matter where I go, I’ll be missing somewhere or someone else.

Are you an expat or traveler — do you find yourself always missing another place?

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A New Adventure

recognize that building?

Yesterday I moved to Australia to start a new part of my life.  I’ve accepted an exciting role at a digital agency in Sydney and look forward to making this a new home.  I feel incredibly lucky and moving back to Australia has been on my mind for awhile now.

I’ve spent my first couple days mostly exploring and getting settled. I want to learn the busses and trains quickly since I won’t be driving at all (very different from home where I drive every day). Today it took me almost two hours just to find the bus to the mall. I went to a couple incorrect stops before finding the right one. I’ll be pro in no time, give me a month.

Studying abroad definitely helped prepare me for life here in terms of any culture shock or just acceptance of change in general. Little things don’t seem so weird or different, although I still can’t figure out how to order my coffee. Yesterday I got an iced coffee and the guy working thought that was funny. He told me I was the first one all day to order that (because it’s winter). Trust me though…it’s not that cold here. I was prepared for much worse.

view from my porch this morning

My apartment is in a really nice area called Manly which is just north of Sydney on the coast. It has a little community feel but it’s big enough that there is a lot to do and see. The beach is beautiful but it’s not warm enough to be hanging out there yet. Only the surfers are in the water right now.

I can take the ferry (30 minutes) right into downtown Sydney from the Manly wharf.  It’s a fun ride and they have free WiFi on the ferry so of course I love that.

I’m having lunch with my new coworkers on Friday. I also made plans with a friend for this weekend. I’m trying very hard to be outgoing and social from the start. I want to meet lots of new people and I know that I have to push myself.

I wonder if this is where my blog takes a new direction (not that it had any clear direction before).  I’d like to think that this is still my “everything” space. Where I can write on any topic that strikes me, but this move and transition will probably be dominating the conversation for awhile. I hope to write often and keep everyone updated.

Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions and say ‘hi’ below. All of my family and friends have been super supportive on Twitter and Facebook. I’m trying to keep up with getting back to everyone. I love hearing from you guys.

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Seeking Creativity

cc license, h.koppdelaney

Can you learn to be more creative? Or perhaps creativity is not learned but just buried and we need to practice it. In either case, I’ve recently been attempting to search for these answers and “exercise my creativity.” I want to seek inspiration from others by putting myself in creative environments and learning from passionate people.

I went to my first Pecha Kucha night in Columbus this week. Basically the speaker has 20 slides that rotate every 20 seconds for a 6 minute, 40 second presentation. I’m not sure how the selection process works but anyone is welcome to submit an idea online before the event. This Peacha Kucha was held at the OSU Urban Arts Space featuring 10 presenters.

The talks ranged from topics including drawing comic books and creating a font to questions asked at the Columbus library and Ohio wines. A new friend Rhoda Lazo gave a wonderful presentation on starting her non-profit, Little and LOUD. She focused on her personal journey and what it means to search for your life purpose. Check out the video here.

Another creative hub you may be familiar with is TED. I had watched many of the online videos before but I confess that it wasn’t until this past fall I was introduced to TEDx (independently organized TED talks). Columbus hosted a TEDx in October with some great speakers. I’m also going to TEDx Cleveland in a couple weeks. I love the combination of creativity and big picture thinking so many of the speakers express.

I was really blown away by the creativity and passion from the speakers and organizers at the Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship (APTE) Summit last Friday, hosted by the OSU Fisher College of Business. If you want to meet a group of driven individuals look no further. I felt like I had stumbled upon some best kept secret in Columbus. It made me question some of my own personal career goals, wondering if I have a calling to social entrepreneurship myself.

I was very interested in particular by an organization called Ashoka (something new to me at this conference). It’s a global organization that assists social entrepreneurs in their endeavors. According to their site, since 1981 Ashoka has elected more than 2,000 fellows. They provide these social entrepreneurs with living stipends, professional support and access to a global network of peers in over 60 countries.

All of these events were amazing but I don’t want to give you the impression that I think you can acquire creativity by standing next to someone. However, there is definitely something important about surrounding yourself with creative thinkers. Sharing ideas out loud and starting conversations can help develop your own thoughts.

How do you seek creativity?

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Distracted by my Own Breath

cc license, Ame Otoko

Last Friday I had the opportunity to hear Artie Isaac give a presentation at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. It was a talk on leading with your heart for a group of first year MBA students. Obviously, I’m not part of that group but there were some extra seats so I quickly took the opportunity to jump in and learn. I was left with a lot to think about, but I wanted to share just a few points in this post on how I want to start living.

How do you feel?

I want start taking time to pause and evaluate how I’m feeling. Not on an emotional or mental level, just physically how I’m feeling at a particular moment. Is my body relaxed, tense, hot or cold? What types of situations make me feel uncomfortable and stressed? There are some days I practically run through my routine. I rarely stop and think about how I feel, but perhaps this would help me feel more in control.

We are humans doing, not humans being.

Another thing I plan on trying is more self-reflection. Artie recommended sitting for a half hour every day in self-reflection. This does not mean writing another “to do” list or just relaxing with a good book that makes you think. This is a deeper examination of oneself. It’s a terrifying thought actually, because we are constantly doing. I am very guilty of this. I feel most alive when my schedule is the most crowded. I want to stop doing so I can start being and focus on my life.

Become selfish.

We must sometimes become selfish to be more helpful to others. I must tell people ‘no’ at times so I can become more powerful and make a difference. It’s an interesting approach, since we are told that being selfish is a negative attribute. Remember, taking time for ourselves in not a bad idea. I hope to find a balance between being a gracious volunteer and friend but also learning when I should say ‘no’ and avoid becoming overwhelmed.

If you haven’t met Artie yet and would like to hear him speak, I definitely recommend it. Take him up on his invitation to sit in on an upcoming lecture at CCAD. I also pull inspiration and new ideas from his blog on creativity and ethics. Now go spread the good word.

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Waiting for 2010

cc license, J. Griffin Stewart

New Year resolutions are the worst. Seriously, I sometimes feel like you have a better chance of accomplishing goals if you call them anything EXCEPT “New Year Resolutions.” Most of mine usually involve promises to work out more and eat healthier, sleep more, work harder, etc. I like the idea of starting off fresh but maybe I’m taking the wrong approach trying to start January 1st.

This year I’m not going to make any specific resolutions or promise myself anything for 2010. A wise Otterbein professor taught me not to wait for tomorrow. We shouldn’t count on the future because nothing is guaranteed. A scary thought but also wise and empowering in many ways. I want to be a better person and try harder everyday.

Having the mindset that I’m going to have to work harder every single day is not easy. It might even be tougher than setting goals for the year. It holds me more accountable. I’m not waiting or putting off my goals until tomorrow. I’m living for today and taking action now. I think this will make me happier than promising to go to the gym everyday.

Happy New Year friends!

Will you make any New Year resolution(s) for 2010? Do you find them effective?

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