Wednesday Whiteboard #11


Dotpoint 1: Last weekend was the Beanie Festival in Alice Springs. I can hear you saying: WTF?!? I shall explain.

In winter in Alice Springs it gets COLD compared to coastal Australia. How cold? Well, minus 6 (centigrade) is the coldest I’ve ever experienced, but most of the time the nights are down around 0. And one thing lots of us do over winter is go camping in the amazing landscapes around us.

Thus, we need beanies to keep our heads warm.

And the Beanie Festival was born…

The Beanie Festival is something you should come to Alice Springs for. It is not just about beanies. It’s about music, food, making beanies, socialising and people watching. It’s very, very alternative, but the town –my town which has a significant number of rednecks in it- has embraced the Beanie Festival.

And there are about 5000 beanies for sale.

Not boring old grey beanies that fishermen wear. And they’re not the beanies that your gran used to make, either. We’re talking works of art. Wool sculptures, dreadlocks, emu feathers. Beads. These beanies are yummy works of art.

Look. Just come. Next year, book a plane ticket to Alice Springs last weekend in June and see why the Beanie Festival is so amazing.

Dotpoint 2: Explosions. Happy Territory Day. More Explosions!

July 1 every year, is Territory Day. It’s where we get to buy fireworks and try to kill each other celebrate the Northern Territory’s transition to self-government in 1978. In Alice Springs and Darwin the streets sound like Beirut in 1973 are full of people letting off $1000s of fireworks.

This year I was in Darwin for work, so I saw the cracker craziness on Vestey’s Beach. I could also see the official NT fireworks display set up on a barge anchored just off Mindil Beach. To the amusement of those standing around us, we hummed ‘The Final Countdown’ really loudly as the display went off. (And made a lot of people crack up).

The display was fantastic. So impressive, I’m sure Tennant Creek Hospital probably won’t be able to employ doctors for the next six months.

But that’s the Territory for you. Explosions before doctors. Can’t cramp that famous Territory Lifestyle.

Dotpoint #3: Do NOT Let Your Kids Hook up their Wii Online.

The other day, I thought there was something wrong with the internet because it was slooooow. Next day, same story, so I called Telstra. Seems our account had been ‘shaped’ because we’d exceeded our (apparently) unlimited download limit.

Turns out with Telstra, there’s no such thing as unlimited. Be warned, folks.

Also, I learned that using your Wii to play international Mario Kart sucks megabytes like there’s no tomorrow.

As for my account being ‘shaped’… I really wanted to laugh when I heard this. Why not ‘limited’ or ‘slowed’? This is spin doctoring gone too far.

It’s like the time someone said: “We’re going to migrate the printers…” at work. I immediately thought: Migrate them? Where? Italy? New Zealand? Will I see a whole flock of printers going north for the winter?

Telstra. Pfft!

‘Shaped’ Double pfft!

Mario Kart. 🙂


Wednesday Whiteboard #10: Thesis Deadline Edition


Dotpoint #1 Thesis Deadline Day is July 26

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, the answer is busy. Busy, out bush for most of last week (sacred site clearances for gravel pits in the most glorious, remote outback places) and busy finishing my PhD thesis. The thesis needs to be in a finished state by 26 July, when I go to Canberra for a month to work intensively with my supervisor to prepare it for submission. I have about two-thirds of a chapter left to write.

Thus, my life has been wading through data about the practices that comprise joint management (co-management), what people say ‘doing’ joint management is, and what the organisation I’m studying has written in business plans, funding documents and reported about ‘joint management activities’. Yes, chapter 7 is all about the stuff that gets done (and classified) as joint management. Incidentally, if you click on the link, you’ll see a picture of Aboriginal Elder, Leslie Foster (Blackhat), with whom I spent a day last week for my consultations. Jason (the ranger) used to be the Parks & Wildlife Joint Management Pin up boy. Unfortunately for PWS, Jason no longer works for them.  But hey, that’s what happens if you piss off your talented staff.

The important thing is this: I probably won’t be writing a lot of blog posts for the next few weeks. I’ll be glued to my thesis. So please be patient with me. Once it’s done, I’ll be able to go full steam ahead with the blog and the BIG IDEA once more.

Dotpoint #2 Writing a PhD Thesis is MUCH MUCH HARDER THAN CHILDBIRTH!

I am qualified to say this. I have given birth to two children. Doing a PhD is much harder than childbirth. Much, much harder.

For example: I took about 11 hours to give birth to Rhiannon. It took 2 hours to give birth to Ben – and I kept a moment-by-moment diary that even includes the cricket scores.  However, it has taken 10 YEARS to give birth to my PhD thesis. That’s right: 10 years.

There are some striking parallels:

  • In childbirth, nurses and doctors make you feel dumb and as remove your sense of control … So does a PhD!
  • During childbirth, a whole lot of strangers peer into, poke and prod at your most intimate parts … when you do a PhD, your writing is the window into your mind, also poked, prodded and peered into by a whole lot of strangers (examiners).
  • There are no instructions for childbirth (ignore the breath stuff – it’s bullshit. Your body just takes over) … There are no real instructions for a PhD – your data/supervisor/deepest fears take over.

Writing a PhD is only slightly less difficult than bringing home a new baby: sleepless nights, baby wanting your boob all the time, nappies to change, more boob, depression. Blech. That’s why there are 7 years between my children – I almost didn’t go back for more.

Dotpoint #3: I’ve Been Really Stuck and Depressed About the Thesis

Another reason I haven’t been writing is that I’ve been pretty down about the thesis (and a few other things). Stuck. Worried about the deadline. Feeling like it’s not good enough and won’t be the thesis I want it to be.

I’ve been having some great coaching from the guys over at Action Podcast for this. I have worked out a plan with the help of Sam & Paul, and I’ve had to change it slightly as last week, I had a HUGE bushwork week. But really, I’m just going to have to work through the plan and my depression and do the work when I have so little confidence in myself and the thesis I’m creating.

It’s not that I can’t write – I can write fine. It’s not that I don’t have enough data – I have so much data, I could write another thesis or three!

It’s that I’m worried that the thesis  is not going to be intellectually sophisiticated enough. And I’m worried that there will be huge holes in my arguments. I’m relying on my supervisor to help me with these things. My complete and utter trust in these things is with my supervisor, which is at least some weight off my mind.

I have no idea how this will all turn out. Whether I’ll have to rewrite the whole thing. Whether the examiners will reject it and laugh.

And there is no real reason for me to do a PhD: no payrise, no tenure. No promotion. I will simply have some letters before or after my name.

I really wonder why I’m doing this to myself.

To prove I’m good enough, smart enough, worthy enough … to myself? My mother (I was never as good as the little girly-girls across the road when I was a child). My peers?

I often wonder if I am doomed to be eternally insecure about my entire existence. Everything that I am, have, my relationships. My world.

There’s times when I feel absolutely alone. Like it’s just me inside my brainbox and no one else can relate to what I’m doing. Something else I just have to live with.

Anyway, perhaps I’ll get to write another post later on in the week. If I’m lucky.

Wednesday Whiteboard#9: The Spiritual Bulimia Edition


Dotpoint #1: The 30 Day Challenge.

It’s day … (hang on, I’m counting) … 27 of my challenge to do yoga everyday. I can report that I’ve missed only 2 days so far. My practice has been asana, japa, pranayama and meditation. It takes about half an hour each morning.

Sometimes, I feel if I don’t do these things, I’ll be a cranky, evil bitch for the rest of the day. Other times, I do them because I told you that I’d do them.

Mostly, I do them because they make me feel good.

Once the 30 day challenge is over, I’m going to start another 30 day challenge. I will write about that next Wednesday.

There was one 30 day challenge that I tried to do using Steve Pavlina’s ’30 Day Challenge’ Template in my journal. It was to do with writing my thesis everyday. It didn’t work… I actually wrote in my journal every day for 30 days instead of writing my thesis.

Which is why I’ve just sought help with my thesis writing…

Dotpoint #2: Spiritual Bulimia & PhD Writing

Over the past two months, I’ve experienced a slow, grinding halt to my thesis writing. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get myself motivated or interested. This is scary, because the whole thing has to be finished by July 26. Worse, there’s only one and a half chapters to go.

I had to take some radical action.

Exactly what I did, I will share with you in a moment.

I’ve noticed a new trend that I call Spiritual Bulimia.  People are eating, and then regurgitating all sorts of inspiration, quotes and advice, but have no real power or evidence of success or change in their own lives.  They ingest all the self help and inspirational materials, but they don’t digest it.  They are taking it all in, but not actually implementing the behaviors, changing the thoughts and eliminating the patterns to have  lives that should be a by product of such voracious consumption.

In the quote above, Staci Shelton highlights the massive numbers of people Tweeting, blogging and burping (ok, I made that one up) self-help advice. Make that re-tweeting, re-blogging and re-burping self-help advice but apparently not doing THE WORK. Traci encourages people to do THE WORK. I suspect that many people have something else in mind (blog traffic and selling their e-products) other than THE WORK, but more on this later.

How does this relate to my thesis?

Well, I got stuck. Quicksand stuck and demotivated. I tried a few things to get myself unstuck, but decided I had flipped into ‘overwhelm’.

Not good. Not good at all.

Overwhelm is when you are paralysed. Overwhelm is when you can’t go up, down or sideways because the problem is sooooo big. Overwhelm, for me, has only one solution…

Life coach time.

The life coach who helped my kick depression last year (Lisa Branigan) is currently on maternity leave. So I spent a couple of days looking for suitable people. I emailed a couple of Australian life coaches via their websites. One didn’t even bother to reply. The other didn’t respond to my second email. I Tweeted my request for help. Svasti retweeted it for me. What I got was some life coaches following me, but no offers to coach.

I decided to contact the folks at Action Podcast … and bingo! Life coaches, Sam Forsberg and Paul Bailey were on my case. I am recommending Action Podcast here because these guys are real people. They are not in the RA RA RA pom-pom girl squad. They are not space cadets. But they do know their stuff when it comes to coaching.

Why does life coaching work?

Because someone external holds you accountable and you get a totally fresh perspective on your situation.

Operation Thesis Overwhelm: the Method.

Here’s the initial exercise Paul had me do (I’ve edited some of the questions out/my answers are in blue):

How many days per week do you want to spend working on your thesis? Be realistic here. Think about how much time per day you can comfortably work without getting too distracted.

I work full time, so it’s not huge:

Tues 2 hrs

Fri 2hrs

Sat 3hrs Sun 4 hrs

Now you should roughly know how much work you need to do and how often you need to do it. Now again be honest with yourself, does that sound achievable? Do you need to tweak anything to make it more realistic?

Total: 3300 words per week

Or: 5 weeks of Tue, Fri Sat, Sun

It’s only just achievable- I have one long weekend scheduled in the middle where we are definitely going away.

Once you have fine tuned your plan, write it down in a short statement and read it aloud a few times. Does it sit comfortably with you? Yes- Great on to the next stage, No- do a bit more tweaking!

I can effortlessly write 3300 words per week and finish Chapters 7 & 8 by the 26th July, 2009.

The Results:

Over the long weekend (we just had a long weekend here in Australia) I went into thesis isolation mode, spending four days down at our second home, Watarrka (Kings Canyon) National Park. There’s no internet. No mobile phone coverage. It is very, very remote outback!

I wrote:

Friday – 1400 words

Saturday – 1700 words

Sunday- 700 words

Monday- 300 words

Tuesday – 700 words

That’s 4800 words and I have finished the draft of Chapter 7.

The mere thought that someone else was checking up on me and I was paying them for it, has worked like nothing else has. I’ve got another session on Friday at 5.30pm with Sam. In the meantime, check out their podcast on Overwhelm here for some more tips and hints.

How do I feel now that I’ve done this?


I’ve shifted the overwhelm. There is no question that my thesis will be done by my July 26 deadline. It simply will be done. I’ll keep the coaching going throughout this time.

Dot point #3: The Real Me: An Ethical Commitment.

At the beginning of Dotpoint #2, I quoted Traci Shelton’s comments about passively regurgitating or absorbing self-help material. The point is, why bother reading, retweeting or whatever if you’re not walking the talk?  If you’re just after traffic for your blog? You’d be better to put up posts about big boobs or even better, pictures of big boobs if it’s blog traffic you’re after. Better still, publish a downloadable e-book of pictures of big boobs and call it: BIG BOOBS! Then you can earn money from it, too.

As much as I enjoy self-help blogs like Zen Habits, I tire of their sameness. I realise these guys are making a living from their blogs, so they’re not strictly blogs. However, I learn far more from reading someones who’s included the pot holes and detours of their life and is DOING THE WORK on themselves everyday, than I do from reading ‘five more tips for being eternally happy’ over and over again, written by people who I suspect, aren’t even half happy and possibly aren’t doing the work. Check out Svasti’s blog or Havi Brooks’s blog. Read Linda Sama’s blog from last year when she lost her teaching job at a centre run by a dysfunctional alcoholic. I learn from these chickybabes more than I do from: five random self help dot points.

Spiritual bulimia: never had it. I do the work and fall flat on my face sometimes.

Watch this space for more pot holes on my spiritual journey…

Wednesday Whiteboard #8


Dotpoint 1: Raw Food Freaks. Yes, I know raw food is good for me. That’s why I eat heaps of it. But I am absolutely, utterly, totally OVER people in the self-help community shoving raw food down my throat. (That’s a pun. Svasti & Gary note: I made a pun!).  I have a message for all those raw food evangelists whose newsletters I subscribed to not for the purpose of hearing raw food sermons: You’re into raw food. Great. Now shut the f*ck up about it.

Dotpoint 2: Not in the USA? Then you don’t exist. Some* people are insular. Some Americans are insular, too. Note that I said SOME. Not all.  I know you guys are NOT all insular and I’m not judging everyone by the following example. Most Americans I meet are warm and friendly – especially online.

But here’s a real life example of someone who claims to be open and non-insular … and isn’t.

An inspiring ‘soul’ coach living in the US was offering a retreat/teleclass (at a price, too) I thought I’d like to take. Unfortunately, it was on at 2am, Central Australian time. So I emailed her, saying I’d like to do the teleclass, and asking if there was any chance of her running another for those of us who live outside the US, at a more friendly time. Her reply: I have other plenty of other international people joining me for this class. If there’s a will, there’s a way. Well, sorry Ms Summerhawk. There is a whole world of people who don’t live in the US and don’t want to get up at 2am on a Friday morning. But then, I guess you don’t really need to expand your seven-figure income any more. My response: Unsubscribe. FAIL.

Dotpoint 3: Super-yummy Aussie creative maven websites:

Meet Me at Mikes is the scrumptious blog of Melbourne creatif, Pip Lincolne. Pip also has a real live shop at 63 Brunswick St, Fitzroy (Melbourne, Australia). Pip’s website is overflowing with recipes, crafty doo-dads, and her inspirational ‘Words & Pictures’ contributory blog-in. You need to see Words & Pictures to understand exactly what I mean – it’s an absolutely fab idea.

Goddess Leonie Leonie’s site is a delight to look at. I’m a sucker for bright, warm, rainbow colours and that’s what you’ll find here. Kind of like SARK’s but oh-so-less commercial. Goddess Leonie’s website is all about bringing out the creative goddess in YOU. She runs e-courses, coaching, tarot readings, goddess drawings, and is doing a clutter-busting course very, very soon! Don’t just read my boring old words. Get over and check out Leonie’s amazing stuff! Leonie was also interviewed by that creatif maven and Hip Tranquil Chick, Kimberly Wilson recently. You can download the podcast to listen to here.

Dotpoint 4: I love, love, LURVE my Slow Cooker. For Mother’s Day, I got a slow cooker. Last week, we roasted a piece of corned camel in it (yes, you read right: camel). Tonight, we had the most divine beef curry. I prepared it in my lunch hour (one of the benefits of living in Alice Springs is that you can go home for lunch!), put it on and when we were ready for dinner tonight, yum yum in our tum tums! Slooow cooking is marvellous. I’m going to try out Anne-Marie’s curry recipe for the *Bogan party down at King’s Canyon on Saturday night.

*Bogan – An Australian and New Zealand term for trailer trash. Also called ‘Westies’ in Sydney and Melbourne.  Check out the Wikipedia definition for more info here.

Wednesday Whiteboard #7

Dotpoint 1:  Update on the 30 Day Yoga Experiment

This is day 14 of the Do-Your-Own-Yoga-Everyday experiment. So far, I can report that I haven’t missed a single day. It hasn’t been all sun,surf, and asana, though. In fact, it’s been largely japa, pranayama and mindfulness meditation. It fits so seamlessly with my morning routine, I feel like I should just keep it going after the 30 days are over. So yes, in case you can’t tell, I’m pretty chuffed with myself.

Which of course requires the Mouth of Sauron grin:


Dotpoint 2: The PhD Thesis is Almost FINISHED.

Ten years. Three re-writes. A total change of theoretical framework AND fieldwork location. Lots of boredom … and I have a PhD thesis that is a whisker away from being done. I’m going to Canberra (Australia’s capital, about 3000km from where I live) to prepare my thesis for submission in late July. If you’ve been through the PhD process, you’ll understand why I’m feeling so happy. This requires an even BIGGER Mouth of Sauron grin:


(Needs a dentist!)

Dotpoint 3: Tom and Katie are moving to Australia. Close the borders! NOW!!