40 things

Updated: May 3

i turned 40 in april.


on the first day of april, i woke up wondering how i was supposed to feel. there was no longing, no illusory life milestones to fret about, no schedule, no stress. just the perfect present of an autumn month eager to be unraveled, in a city i love, with people i love. i couldn’t help but wonder at the very human search for complacency in feelings of contentment.

photo shot by fiona at spicers retreats, maleny, qld.

i felt grateful for everything; including all the wisdom i've picked up along the way. words i've stumbled upon, revisited, written down, and saved. things i've experienced from books, podcasts, art, music and film, as well as my interactions with friends and family. life lessons i've observed them demonstrating in their own lives; from choosing uncomfortable enlargement over comfortable diminishment; to letting things lightly happen, to our cosmic insignificance. from the absolute necessity of solitude and silence, to craft vs. talent. it’s amazing how, unknowingly, their words have been my proof it’s possible.


i’ve been fortunate enough to consume and savor so many bits and pieces; here's a collection of my favorite striking lines that have repeatedly stopped me in my tracks over the years:

 

'expect great things to happen to you.'

evelyn omala

 

‘finding yourself is not really how it works. you aren’t a $10 bill in last winter’s coat pocket. you are also not lost. your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. ‘finding yourself’ is actually returning to yourself. an unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were when the world got its hands on you.’

―emily mcdowell

 

'take your lips where they will be kissed.'

barbara byarugaba

 

'sustainable productivity requires keeping a larger perspective about the role of work in our lives.'

ann mwangi

 

'that lesson will repeat itself until you learn it.'

barbara byarugaba

 

'friends that understand your anti social phases are important.'

jauharah kayemba

 

'the body keeps the score.'

bessel van der kolk

 

'learn from others. you don't have time to make all the mistakes yourself.'

junior kwebiiha

 

'take a mental day when you need it. you don’t get a gold star for burn out.'

vered netzer

photo shot by fiona: painting 'fields of gold' with friends at 'cork and chroma', brisbane

'watch your life as if it were a film. absorb everything. what you see, hear, and feel will stamp every alphabet of your work.”

―nikky finney

 

'on reframing your day; instead of feeling like you lost the day after a bad morning; reframe each day as 4 quarters: 1) morning 2) midday 3) afternoon 4) evening. If you blow one quarter, just get back on track for the next one. fail small, not big’

―gretchen rubin

 

'don’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore to be happy.'

―jane marczewski

 

'when you pray for a thing, also pray for the sacred flexibility to sustain it once it manifests.'

―lalah delia

 

'drowning people sometimes die fighting their rescuers.'

―octavia butler, 'the parable of the sower'

 

'in a highly distracted society, concentration is currency.'

―nneka julia

 

'forget the noun; do the verb. let go of the thing that you’re trying to be (the noun), and focus on the actual work you need to do (the verb).'

austin kleon

 

'outgrow allowing discomfort to stop you from advocating for yourself. you will never feel comfortable acting in your best interest by avoiding acting in your best interest.

―eric kamara

 

'grief is just love with no place to go.'

―jamie anderson, 'doctor who'

 

'silence is a form of rest'

―the black yoga collective

photo credit: sally birungi, brisbane river

'feeling sad after making a tough decision doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision.'

—barbara byarugaba

 

'learn to discipline your disappointment.'

—nneka julia

 

'you are not who you say you are until your actions match your words.'

—anthony zake

 

'the choice is very simple: we can insist on resting on our laurels, or we can begin anew. the stringent requirement of a sustained creative life is the humility to start again, to begin anew. it is the willingness to once more be a beginner that distinguishes a creative career.

—julia cameron, 'the artist’s way'

 

'we think we understand the rules when we become adults, but what we really experience is a narrowing of the imagination.

—david lynch

 

'the more you talk about it, rehash it, rethink it, cross analyze it, debate it, respond to it, get paranoid about it, compete with it, complain about it, immortalize it, cry over it, kick it, defame it, stalk it, gossip about it, pray over it, put it down or dissect its motives it continues to rot in your brain. it is dead. it is over. it is gone. it is done. it is time to bury it because it is smelling up your life and no one wants to be near your rotted corpse of memories and decaying attitude. be the funeral director of your life and bury that thing!”

―shannon l. alder

 

no one is entitled to your story. vulnerability is not relational currency.

—personal musings

 

'surround yourself with people who are free in ways you’re not; people who are playing just a slightly different game than you are - awakening you from any finite game you might be already asleep in.'

—anthony zake

 

'there will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. when people die, they cannot be replaced. they leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate—the genetic and neural fate—of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

—oliver sacks, 'gratitude'

 

'you are still sacred on the days when you don't feel like yourself. love yourself through it.'

—vered netzer

image credit: gemma dawson, tattoo artist

'no one, including you, knows how much talent you have until you develop the techniques that give your talent a way to flow. craft gives you control, and gaining control of your talent will give you the courage to trust your instincts. every time you do an exercise—without judgment and for its own sake—you will be developing instincts and confidence. you will be encouraged. and courage is what you need to pursue writing.

—ellen sandler, “the tv writer’s workbook”

 

'one important reason to travel the world is so you know how to speak about things. so that there exists in one’s mind a system of comparison so that one can realize, finally, and most importantly, that it is true: no one thing exists unto itself…'


'we are all born into histories, worlds existing before us. the same is true of places. no place is without history.'

—sarah m. broom, 'the yellow house'

 

'every action you take is a vote for the person you wish to become’

—james clear

 

'sometimes being private and not telling everyone your side of the story even when you have a lot to say, is top tier self care.

—anthony zake

 

your children go through your energy and moods with you: be mindful

—personal musings

 

'every little action of common day makes or unmakes character.'

—oscar wilde, 'de profundis'

 

‘there is a place in you that you must keep inviolate; you must keep it pristine clean, so that nobody has the right to curse you, treat you badly, nobody… ‘cos maybe that is the place you go to when you meet God. say ‘no’ when it’s no, say so, back it up because that place has to remain clean and clear…”

—maya angelou

 

'the things that excite you are not random, they are connected to your deeper purpose; follow them.'

—heather baker

 

the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. you open your safe and find ashes

—annie dillard

 


 

which of these things has tickled or delighted your curious mind? let me know in the comments


love and light!

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