Monday Starter : 56

What I’m reading: The 2019 Ikea Catalogue of course. - Did you know that it takes Ikea about 10 months to develop the catalogue from concept to final product? The catalogue takes up about 70% of their marketing budget and nearly 300 people are involved in its production. I saw a documentary about this last year. I’ll have to dig up the title.

What I’m listening to: Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G Major by Bach - I recently heard this wonderful piece performed live by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. I put it on repeat when I’m packaging products for clients. Somehow that exercise just works for me.

A movie I’ve seen: A Quiet Place - Possibly one of of most inventive and handsomely crafted horror films I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s terrifying but oh so good! And Emily Blunt!

What I’m watching: The Man in the High Castle - I’ve only managed to watch a few episodes as each one feels like a full-length movie and a tad exhausting. It’s a well put-together show with a great cast, beautiful lighting and an entertaining (if not disturbing) story. Highly cathartic.

A quote I’m pondering on: “There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” - Simon Sinek

Monday Starter : 55

What I’m reading: The Barefoot Investor for Families by Scott Pape - I read this book in one sitting on a flight to Perth. I’m usually quite sceptical of books like these and find them boring. But this one is practical, easy to read and actually refreshing and inspiring. We’ve started using the steps on our 13 year old son. I wish I had this kind of financial education when I was his age!

What I’m listening to: Freakonomics Radio Live: “Jesus Could Have Been a Pigeon.”

A movie I’ve seen: Free Solo - We saw this film on Imax. I think that’s the only way to watch it. So scary and exhilarating to watch. I was squirming in my seat. Superb film-making.

What I’m watching: Star Trek Discovery on Netflix - This show is pretty solid. It does take a few episodes to get back into it but there’s enough visual spectacle and layered storyline in the first episode to get me hooked again. Captain Pike played by Anson Mount is very “captain-y” indeed. I’m not a Star Trek fan at all.

A quote I’m pondering on:The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” - Alan Watts

Monday Starter : 54

What I’m reading: Daring Greatly by Brené Brown - No, I haven’t finished this book yet! But I’m loving it so far.

What I’m listening to: People aren’t Dumb. The World is Hard by Freakonomics Radio.

A movie I’ve seen: Green Book - I took my son to see this movie and I’m glad I did. Inspiring, funny and moving. Beautifully performed by the two leads.

A quote I’m pondering on:Being aware of your fear is smart. Overcoming it is the mark of a successful person.” — Seth Godin

2018 : My least favourite year

Well that didn’t work. In a previous post dated 3 Jan 2018 (a year ago!) I said something about continuing to write on my other website:

It never eventuated.

I think I forgot. What have I done in the past 12 months?

2018 was a difficult year. It felt like a blur. I was all over the place. I didn’t have focus.

I think that I can only be “productive” (and happy) when I’m working on a project. I did a few. Here’s a list:

  • SOGIE/Siya Project (working title) - a photographic essay on Transgender/gender diverse Filipinos. Incomplete and ongoing. Yet to publish. We applied for a number of arts grants and were unsuccessful. We attempted to start a new grant application but we didn’t follow through. I do need to go back to the Philippines to capture more stories. The time we spent there in 2017 was too brief. Two weeks was not enough.
  • Piano lessons (self-taught) - I played for 2 months then stopped.
  • Auslan (Australian Sign Language) - I did 95% of Certificate IV. I just needed to hand in my Research Project and log book. I still haven’t done it.
  • Digital content and project management for The Equality Project (volunteer) - ongoing
  • Started a new business idea with my sister : Filipino restaurant pop-up - it was an idea
  • Started a new business idea with a friend : Luxury gifts for men - still an idea
  • Did a soft-launch of my personal branding photography business - I haven’t done any promos yet
  • I think 2018 was also the year I launched - I haven’t done anything further on it

Notice how the list above includes a lot of incomplete tasks? What did I achieve?

I promised myself to read more than 10 books but I only managed 5 or so and that includes a couple of audio books. I haven’t finished reading Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari because I started reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Some 3 months later I haven’t finished either book!

I’m not a good reader of books. My son will read 3-5 novels in one day if he can. He has read both of Yuval Noah Harari’s books: Sapiens and Homo Deus. He as also read numerous series of novels (some I should be reading) totalling over 10,000 pages in the past year.  He is 12.

On that note, 2018 was a wonderful year to witness my son embrace high school. He has grown up so much. Literally. It was so weird to drop him off at the new school on his first day. I felt sad, excited and happy all at the same time.

As a parent, we all want the best for our child and I am endlessly trying to find ways to add inspiration in my son’s life to make sure he makes the right decisions. It is such a precarious balance between control and freedom. I am never in the middle - I’m either one way or the other. But fingers crossed, my constant too-ing and fro-ing will even itself out.

So what I’ve found is that I become less productive or I should say less effective (as I’ve just learnt that this is the better word to use. I can’t remember which podcast I heard this from.) — if I’m doing too many things at once. I lose focus. My time and energy are spread out so thinly I struggle to do anything well. In addition, I drop the ball on possibly more important things like my photography business.

Did 2018 make me happy? At times, yes. But more often than not it made me feel anxious about my life. It was also tough financially. I didn’t do as much paid work as I normally do. I did more stuff for other people - for free. All of a sudden I remembered that I had a mortgage and bills to pay. Crap. And I’m nearing retirement! Well not really. But I want to retire in less than 20 years. How do I achieve that if I spent the last 12-14 months doing a whole lot of nothing? In 2018, I kind of went backwards.

That’s not entirely true. The “whole lot of nothing” bit I mean. I did achieve some great things I can be proud of. I helped run a conference. That’s no minor feat. I managed to travel overseas twice with my family and shot some personal work on film. I also grew closer to my sister and helping my 70 year old mother move to her new home was a blessing.

And I was a parent.

So what now? I’m moving on. I’m writing down all the things I want to do and not do. I’ll have a plan (like I always do) but this time I want to return to some things that worked. That includes re-starting my “Monday Starter” posts.

Ever since I stopped writing my “Monday Starter” posts each week - I became more blah about the way I do things. When I was undertaking that exercise in 2017 - I didn’t think much of its effect on my life. It was homework that made me stop and think about the stuff I had been consuming during the week. And it wasn’t just any kind of stuff - it was artful content. At least that’s what I thought. Movies, books, quotes, things that moved me. I need to do that again and continue to do so as long as possible.

So in 2019 I will restart my Monday Starter posts. I will call them simply “Monday Starter : ##”. The next one will be #53. Let’s see if I can do this up to #1500+. I’ll be in my 80s by then.

Next I will have a closer look at what’s important to me. And only do that work. 2019 will be a year of minimising tasks and doing important work only. That’s it.

As I get older I want a simpler life. How do I achieve this? It might take me 12 months to work it out. That’s ok. I have time.

Everyone celebrates the beginning of each year with “Here’s to a wonderful/fantastic/prosperous/eventful/amazing etc (enter year)!” or something to that effect.

Here’s what I want to say: “Here’s to an even more challenging year ahead!”

xo Adrian

Monday Starter : 53

What I’m reading : Don’t Panic! More Reasons You Don’t Need $1 Million to Retire Well by Nick Bruining - This book hasn’t been reviewed well. A lot of people seem to hate it with a vengeance and I don’t understand why because it’s really helped me comprehend my retirement plan. I guess if you’re looking for a “retirement-planner-for-dummies-book” - this might fit the bill. It provides a good context for Australians who are planning on their retirement. I don’t plan to retire just yet but I when I started thinking about it last year, I couldn’t get my head around superannuation and the pension system. Indeed I felt a sense of panic. This books explains everything with illustrations to boot. Some topics are a tad complicated but I gather I will pick up this book again when the time comes.

What I’m listening to: How to be happy by Freakonomics Radio - This one is a gem.

What I’m watching: The Colony on Netflix - The premise is nothing new but it’s well delivered with enough action and revelations to keep me interested. The acting is okay compared to The Flash (that my 13 year old son loves to watch) where the performances are a little silly and repetitive at times. 

A quote I’m pondering on: Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small.  — Lao Tzu

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