The Journal

Posting every sometimes...

An ex once said to me; “If you really wanted to do something then you’ll just do it and it won’t be an issue”. That wasn’t very helpful (maybe why he’s an ex?). And it sure hasn’t been my experience!

Instead it feels like the things I want to do the most are actually the things met with the most resistance. Like, I can find all kinds of reasons to avoid doing the one thing I know I need to do and one of those things is showing up here to make these videos!

I’ve had a desire to share what goes on in my inner world for years now. And I’m in a space now where I have the time, I have the facilities, I have the ideas… So why is it still so hard? I experience this inner conflict where I want to do something but I also want to avoid it at the same time.

Is it fear? Yes.

Is it perfectionism? Absolutely.

So I’ve found a way to overcome those things - where I now write down everything I want to talk about in advance, to help me filter my thoughts or make sense of them and cut down on editing time, cause that’s just another excuse waiting to happen. I’ve also tried to bring in drawings to my videos because I’m an illustrator by trade and I want to make these videos interesting. And I was pretty proud of my last one I must say.

But then why is it so hard? I have this idea that things should flow and be easy if it’s ‘meant to be’, right? That if it’s too hard, then it’s a sign that it’s not for me. I imagine I can just sit on my couch and suddenly some divine inspiration will hit me and I will get up, in a trance-like state, and sit down at my computer and just spew out this absolute gold, and it will blast off to be seen by the people who need it most. But so far, that has not happened to me.

I have experienced flow-like periods in my life like when I quit my job to work for myself. I made a commitment and it was like energy shifted overnight and doors opened consistently, people showed up out of nowhere that could help me on my path, it felt like magic - but that’s a different story for another day. This one is about the struggle!

So coming back to that reflection on my process of writing, filming and drawing it out to ensure I have the best video I can make with where I am in my life right now. Why does it feel like such an effort? I challenged myself to approach it differently and one of the best questions I ask myself when things are tough is:

“How can I make this more fun?” and to throw away all the ‘shoulds’ like how I think a video should look, or how I should be to be interesting, successful etc - and then it hit me… it was the drawing.

The drawing felt like so much effort! And I could not admit that to myself for so long because, I’m an artist, it’s how I make my living! If I’m not drawing or showing my art in a video, I thought it wouldn’t be interesting, but people just talk in videos all the time, right?! There are tons of videos where it’s just someone showing up as themselves, providing information the best they can in the moment they have. So why can’t I do that? Oh no, that wouldn’t be interesting, that wouldn’t be enough - or is it really that I felt I wouldn’t be interesting and that I wasn’t enough on my own.

I realised my identity has been wrapped up in being an artist my whole life! Who am I if I’m not ‘an artist’? That’s my thing, without that I’m… nothing? Which we all know isn’t true and if this was my friend saying this to me I would be like “You are amazing as you are, you don’t even need to try, I love you for who you are” and so on, but when it’s you, it feels true, ya know?

I hadn’t realised how much value I had put on myself being my work, and I think that’s probably quite common for artists because the work we do is so personal, it really is like sharing a piece of yourself every time you create something, like bringing a bit of your heart and soul into this physical world.

I have wrapped up my identity as an artist, my value and ability to make money in my ability to ‘do’, rather than just be who I am.

What would it look like for me to just show up as I am? And just, be me? Well, it looks like this. I challenged myself in this video to just show up, without the drawing, without the identity shell (that perhaps I hide behind, now that I think about it) and you know what? It’s not that bad. I’m actually proud of myself.

So I guess to my younger self, to past Rhiannon who is struggling with taking action on the things she wants to do, I would ask her:

- How is taking no action actually benefiting you? (for me it was being able to hide behind my artist identity and not have to actually show up as myself)

- What is it that you are truly afraid of? What are you avoiding? (for me it was a fear of being seen as just plain ol’ me and that it wouldn’t be ‘enough’ for the world)

And this isn’t to say I won’t draw anything ever again, because I love drawing! But I want to draw when it feels good, not because I have to, or should do to keep up a consistent brand or - because I’m not enough without it.

I hope this little reflection helps you take your action that you know you need to take. And, you know, maybe my ex wasn’t wrong. His process and journey to action just looks different to mine… Less years of procrastination for him and that’s ok. I’m fine about it. Really…

I’ve been reflecting on this past year working in the live illustration game and realise I’m in this very privileged position, where I get to be a fly on the wall for many business workshops or social initiatives.I’ve spent my time in the regenerative space, in diversity and inclusion, self-development and leadership spaces. And I’ve noticed a common theme that I want to share…

And if I pose this theme as a design thinking question it’s this:

“How might we… create an environment for what we want to thrive?”

The key words here are ‘environment’ and ‘what we want’.

Here’s what I mean - Let’s go macro for sec and bring it down to what it means in the micro after.

Take nature for example, a literal environment. What grows in your backyard depends on what the surrounding environment enables. And when I say ‘environment’, I don’t just mean weather. It’s the soil quality, the food or nourishment, the plants around it, the type of seed, where you plant. If a flower isn’t flowering, we change it’s location, it’s environment, right? We don’t think “there’s something wrong with this flower”, “maybe this flower isn’t going to be a flower after all”. The expectation is that this is a flower and flowers bloom, so what can we change to enable this flower to blossom? How can we create the environment for it to do its thing? We don’t need to control when or how the flower blooms or try and make it blossom. We just need to enable the conditions and then get out of the way.

Let’s bring it down to the micro now, and focus on the body as an example. It’s the same story. Like nature, our body doesn’t work in silos either. It’s again, this ecosystem thinking, where the body is designed to thrive if we can create the right environment, provide the right conditions, then the body can tick along nicely. This might look like meeting our physical needs, our ‘maslow's’, meeting our emotional needs, spiritual needs. But in the same way, we can be creating a thriving environment for things we don’t want, all through our behaviours and actions.

So it begs the question - What does your body need to thrive the way you want it to?

How can you create an environment for your body that is healing, nurturing, balanced?

It’s the same for our communities, our workplace cultures and society in general. How can we create an environment where our community enables itself to thrive? How might we work together to ensure the foundation around us, the soil so to speak, is rich in nutrients and able to nurture those around it? To create a space which puts the stronger plants in a position to shelter those not yet strong enough to weather the storm. It’s the age-old question - “What would nature do?”.

I love how trees share nutrients and information with each other via their root system underground, or how plants use what they need and when they have excess amounts of nutrients, instead of hoarding it or using it to compete against others, they share it with the plants around them.

Imagine if we have a society that did that, that truly mimicked nature?

What would that environment look like for you?

Being in a constant state of worry can wreak havoc in all areas of your life.

For me, when the alarm went off, my heart would sink. My mind was racing, my hands always shaking. I’d avoid all social occasions because I didn’t want anyone to see me.

It was official; anxiety was running my life.

Unfortunately, I was the last person to find out! I’d heard of anxiety before but didn’t really know what it was or how it showed up.

I didn’t know it can creep up on you, stop you sleeping, create tense muscles and migraines, change your appetite and gut microbiome or cause your hair to fall out…

I found out the hard way. It felt like I was losing myself.

So I made some changes for the better, starting with these:

1. Exercise first thing

I’ve never been a morning person but moving my body before getting into things felt like it gave me back energy, leaving me feeling more positive throughout the day. Thank youuu endorphins!

Try biking to work, getting off the bus a few stops early for a brisk walk, or my favourite – a hot yoga class.

2. Notice the ‘in between time’

Those moments when you’re in between the ‘doing’. Travelling on a bus, waiting in line, heating up food… taking these times to anchor myself in the present moment by focusing on where I am physically, instead of racing off somewhere else in my head. As yourself “How does my body feel?”, “What can I see, hear and smell right now?”

Try it next time you’re waiting for the kettle to boil and looking around at what else you can do to be ‘productive’, try stopping and listen to the water heat up.

3. Reduce stimulants

My body was already pumped with adrenalin from all the worrying, (when we’re stressed, out bodies create more cortisol hormone, so we can be ready to fight or take flight. Learn more here) I cut back on caffeine, alcohol, sugar and scrolling Instagram late at night. Note that I say cut back, and not cut out! This helped bring my body’s natural rhythms back so I wasn’t having to continuously reach for something to numb my anxious feelings (ironically, these stimulants were making me more anxious, lose more sleep and fall faster down a spiral!)

You might be a ‘cold turkey’ kinda gal, or it might work better for you to slowly reduce by having one less coffee a day and see where your balance is. Try a more mindful approach to what you’re consuming.

4. Cut down on ‘noise’

From the moment we wake up, we’re flooded with the demand of others, be it notifications, emails, DM’s, traffic, schedules – I mean, when was the last time you ate lunch without looking at your phone?

With my head so busy and loud, I worked to curate what I could control – things like the media I was consuming, or the time when I replied to emails (ie. not in bed or as soon as I wake up!) I focused on what felt good.

5. Celebrate the small wins

Good and bad things are always happening. Alongside cutting the ‘noise’, I chose to focus on what I wanted to see more of, by writing down 3 positive things that happened to me at the end of each day. Our brains just want to solve a problem constantly, and over time, this exercise made my brain look for more good things naturally.

I can’t help others or change the world if I’m in a panicked, anxious state.

Of course, I’m writing this from a place of privilege, and there are so many heavy, negative things happening all the time in this world, not to mention systemic and societal structures. However, I’m also aware that I can’t help others or change the world if I’m in a panicked, anxious state.

There is no quick-fix and everyone’s experience is different.

Start small.

Start with one thing – what change resonates with you?