Things I've done (and some I haven't)

Survived my parents' divorce; taught myself about lung cancer when my father got ill; saved my couple after infidelity; wanted to write a book collecting experiences with infidelity; wanted to organise concerts for rock bands on myspace; taught myself to cook; passed my driver's licence at 27; took yoga lessons; studied black & white photography in evening classes; studied graphic design in evening classes; wrote a newspaper with my best friends, The Mary Rose, when I was 8; organised all our travels, to Thailand, New Zealand, Greece, Dominican Republic, Malta; learnt to speak French and Dutch; worked as a barmaid on an international train; spent 3 months in Paris; taught English to 2 Japanese kids; translated movie subtitles; went canyoning, rafting, scuba diving, horse riding; started my PADI training; took macrobiotic cooking classes; got a bikini wax; gave a training to my fellow colleagues; designed christmas cards; sold photos on the internet; taught myself html and built a website; made myspace layouts for several friends; designed a CD cover for my boyfriend's band; organised a road trip through France with a friend; started a blog; busy organising my wedding; organised a New Year's Eve party for 30 people with celebrations every hour for each different country passing into the new year; played volleyball; tried - and loved - speleology; learnt to make sushi; learnt about wine and did wine tastings...

My little house of ideas

Living room

A pot full of shells: we collected the shells off a beach in Normandy, thinking it would be nice to create a collage with them to hang in the kitchen. If I used a pretty thick and deep frame, I could stick 3 or 4 of them in a row and maybe find some pebbles that would fit inside the bottom of the frame.

Tea tasting: I bought a book about tea and a set of 3 tea samples when we were in Hong Kong last year. The little book was all about how to make good tea, the different types of tea and where they came from. The idea was to learn about teas the same way you can learn about wines.


My Nike shoes: bought in Barcelona last year, they're the kind you can hook up to your ipod and keep track of your runs with. At the time I was already sceptical I'd actually ever get around to using that function...

The Rasterbator: a really neat programme I discovered a few years ago and wanted to use to create a huge poster for the wall behind our bed. You upload a photo and the programme generates a "dotted" version of it, any size you like. Really cool results.


My sister's saxophone: when she left on her round-the-world trip last year, I asked if she could leave me her saxophone. I've often wanted to learn to play.

Photo albums: I bought a really big photo album ages ago, wanting to make big print-outs of my most artistic photos and collect them in the album. There's also a cute album we bought in Thailand with a wooden elephant on the front for our best pictures from our trip. And the scrapbook Diana made for me when we went to France on our road trip.

Scanner and slides: I managed to reduce my father's huge collection of slides (I'm guessing several thousand) to about 250 that I kept. I wanted to scan them all as they are in poor condition, and use the photos to create a picture book. I also wanted to document my father's life in some way, so his stories wouldn't disappear with him, but it's such a vast task.

Psychology book: I bought what looked like a basic introduction to psychology, to see if it really was a direction I would be interested in as a career.

My bookcases: probably too many subjects to list. All things I was/am interested in: photography, wine, underwater archaeology, reiki, yoga, natural food, travel, hand reading... A lot of them unread.

My Scanner Daybook - March 30th

March 30th, 18:20

Sunday morning art workshops

A few days ago, a friend came over for dinner and we were discussing how little time we have to be creative, so I suggested we start our own art workshop. The idea would be to get together among girls - with any of our friends who would be interested in joining - at a fixed time every week. Sunday morning sounded ideal (except the getting out of bed part).

Hot chocolate and warm croissants from the bakery across the street.
We'd get together at my place around 10 a.m. and one of us (maybe in turn) would bring supplies and a "briefing". So, each week we'd make something new.

For example:

  • Everyone brings a few of their favourite pictures. Someone brings different coloured papers, glue, glitter and stickers. Everyone makes a scrapbook page for their pictures.
  • Sketching the view over the city
  • Making jewellery using beads and string (I've got plenty left over...)
  • A writing session on a particular theme
  • Making a patchwork cushion cover

We could all have lunch together afterwards, each week a different salad recipe.

Maybe after a few months we could hold an exhibition to show off everything we'd made. We could invite other women our age to come and visit it, and maybe get them interested in the workshop.

We could create a blog dedicated to the workshop and post pictures. It could turn into a step-by-step guide of everything we create, so readers could reproduce things themselves.

... okay, wouldn't want it to develop any further than that, I don't think :)


My Scanner Daybook - Prologue

Okay, so I started reading the book by Barbara Sher "What do I do when I want to do everything".
And so far I can absolutely relate to the people she calls "Scanners" (not very sexy, huh?).
Anyway, she recommends keeping a "Scanner Daybook", which is supposed to be a real book you write and draw in, but I'm going to be rebellious and try my own online version.

Here goes...

Procrastination... or the art of diversification

It's not that I just lie in bed all day, comatose. I actually get up, with a long list of things I could/should do.

Well, "list" isn't exactly accurate, seeing as I rarely make lists unless things have really gotten out of control. It's more like a vague cluster of random thoughts and unspoken possibilities (put together bathroom cupboard... fill in time sheets... read book... take table down to basement... wax legs...), a seemingly endless ocean of things I vaguely believe require my attention.

So how do I manage to not only do none of the things I considered doing when I woke up this morning, but actually spend most of my day absorbed by some compelling new activity (in this case an adventure through the fascinating world of blogging, trying to discover all the cool features you can add to your blog, signing up to multiple sites, testing, debugging...)?

My life is an endless collection of similar behaviour. I always end up adding more "to dos" to my list, by embarking on some new hobby or discovering some new gimmick.

And I suppose one new thing being added automatically means something else gets left behind. I'm sure it would be cool to see a visual representation of the whole process. And how my mind actually decides what to "keep" and what to discard.
I don't think anyone would believe how many half-read books are in my bookshelf, how many hobbies I bought supplies for that are sitting in some cupboard, half used up, how many amazing plans I have spent time exploring but never actually put into practice.

So, am I really a procrastinator? Or can I actually make peace with the fact I will always take more pleasure in starting something that I will in finishing it? Can I accept that I will probably never become an expert in anything, but will continue to know a bit about everything, which -for lack of any other purpose - can always come in handy at boring dinner parties?

Suicide line

I guess life is full of opportunities to test yourself, and it's up to you to decide if you want to be tested or not.

Before engaging in life-altering decisions about career changes and studies, I might have the opportunity to find out if counselling is something for me.

The first week we moved into our new place, I was looking through the local directory and a small ad caught my eye. It was recruiting volunteers for the local suicide helpline.

Apparently they train you, and ask that you be available about 5-10 hours a week to take calls.

I think I threw away the directory, I need to Google it, see if I can find it again.


This is what triggered this existential questioning: our boss has discovered his - previously unthinkable - people management skills and decided to get us all tested and charted using the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) method.

A few years ago, my sister worked at a company active in leadership management and they used MBTI in their workshops, so she'd already gotten me interested enough to try and find some free online tests at the time.

Well, there are loads of these test around, some more serious than others. I think I tried 4 or 5 different ones, like this one and this one (maybe I should mention I'm an online test junkie).

So, anyway, I took some tests and the result showed I was INFP.
An explanation of the different scales (I/E; N/S; F/T and P/J) can be found here.
But basically it means I'm a permanent resident of la-la-land. INFP's live in their own heads a lot, are constantly busy analysing emotions, collecting new information and delaying decision-making. When they do make decisions, they're gut-feeling based more than rational.

So, a couple of years later I was curious to see if the results of the serious, paid-for-by-my-boss test would be anything similar, and they were.

Of course, me being me, I began Googling like mad to find more information about my type, hoping I would find the answer to all my life questions in the results of this test. I guess I found a whole new series of questions instead.

On the up-side, I can pinpoint much more easily the things I actually really don't like about my current job (anything to do with planning, budgeting and arriving at work on time) and can see that it isn't just because I'm a lazy sloth, it's actually a perfectly logical characteristic of my personality type (how's that for a great excuse?).

But, I guess, more importantly, it's slowly helping me realise that there might just be jobs out there that don't feel like a constant struggle (and I thought that was just something you had to learn to accept - that's why it's called work, right?). Which is where the questions begin.

Question 1: How much faith can you put in a psychological test when you're making decisions that will determine the rest of your life? If the individual influences the result of the test, is it acceptable that the result of the test could influence the individual?

Question 2: How can I decide exactly what job is right for me? There's a world of difference - in my opinion - between becoming a writer, a counsellor, a musician or a priest. All of them are however recommended careers for INFP's.

Question 3: How can I be sure that I will enjoy this new career more than I enjoy what I'm doing now? Maybe the job isn't the problem, maybe it's all me. Maybe I'm just a negative person, a whining baby who will never really be satisfied with anything she does, will never really feel like getting up in the morning and never feel she's being paid enough for her precious time.

Question 4: What if this new career involves years of studies? Going back to university? Can I really consider that option? Should I try to find a short cut, and run the risk I won't be qualified enough? What if people don't take me seriously? What if the job would be ideal for me, but the people I'd have to work with are horrible? And why am I so scared to give it a try, when I've always been a risk-taker?

And all this time, I do have a new direction slowly forming in my mind. No idea how long it will last, though. I've been through so many career fantasies I've lost track: marine biologist, globe-trotting reporter, sexologist, psychologist, teacher, graphic designer, architect...

So, to become or not to become a trainer/coach/counsellor? And how do you go about it?

A blog about blogging

What are blogs and where do they come from?
More importantly, who writes them and who reads them?
How do you find blogs you want to follow, and how on earth does anyone ever find your blog?

If, like me, you're not too keen on advertising your blog on your Facebook or MySpace account (because you're boss is a "friend" and you well, just really don't want him reading here, for example), does anyone ever find their way to your blog?

Is it acceptable to be asking these questions? Should I save face and pretend I actually have a clue how any of this works? Do "real" bloggers know the answers to these questions and will they laugh when - if - they stumble across these words? Will I be considered a blogging pariah?

Why is it everyone else always seems to know what they're talking about, what they're doing, what things mean and how they work? Am I really that stupid, or do I just need to learn to pretend I'm intelligent?

Well, if you do stumble across this - and I can't for the life of me figure out how that could happen - be a good sport and let me know how you did it, okay?

Have another slice of pizza

How does anyone ever decide what they want to do with their life?
It seems to me it's an utterly impossible task.

Yesterday I decided I wanted to become a trainer, and 54 Google searches later, I have the name, address and credentials of some obscure academy safely tucked away in my bookmarks. Whether it will ever go any further than that is another question entirely.

In my sudden recent burst of proactivity, I also ordered a book from Amazon: "What do I do when I want to do everything?", which I'll no doubt get around to reading shortly.

So now I'm wondering, how do other people do it? Do they quickly decide on a goal, then make a detailed plan of how to get from point A to point B? Do they stick to their plan? How do they even know where to begin?

Apparently, my idea of a structured approach involves starting a blog and putting a pizza in the oven. I'm also listening to my French Rock playlist on iTunes, playing scrabulous on Facebook, updating several programmes on my computer (how does anyone resist the "There is an update available. Click here to download"?) and trying to figure out what to do with my 8 year old nephew when he comes to visit next week. Oh and then there's the wedding to plan.

I wonder if there's a market for multitasking as a profession? Or would that just make my life even more complicated than it already is? Maybe I need to do something really simple and basic, to balance out the chaos I create everywhere else in my life.

In the meantime, I think I'll have another slice of pizza.