Have you embraced your Freebie? (Tom Hiddleston has)

While enjoying my morning routine of interwebs and procrastination – yes, I know I’m trying to cut down, but sometimes a gal has a moment of weakness and that moment is every morning ever.

Anyway, while browsing I came across this fun nugget of trivia that I’m sure everyone but me has probably already stumbled across. Apparently Kingofthebritishgentlemen Tom Hiddleston originally wanted to audition for the role of Thor in the Marvel Universe.

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Oh, darling

According to rumours, he actually got close to the final audition rounds before director/Shakespeare God Kenneth Branagh pulled him aside to gently break the news that they weren’t going to be offering him the part-

“Ken told me that every actor has something for free. Jack Nicholson has an irreverence for free, Anthony Hopkins has a majesty and gravitas for free. Idris Elba, who plays Heimdall in Thor – and, by the way, anyone who’s been complaining about a black actor being cast as a Norse god is just crazy; this is a fantasy world, for goodness sake – has a watchful gravitas for free. He explained that what I have for free is that I can’t turn off my intelligence. Therefore Loki would be much more up my street.”

How cool is that thought? That there’s some trait that’s so inherently you, that it’s just suffused into every role you’ll ever play- no need to work for it, it’s always just there. And the more I think of it, the more I can list actors and their ‘freebies’. Morgan Freeman has that playful God vibe, Helen Mirran (my queen) has that edge of ‘don’t mess with me bitch’- And Hugh Grant? Floppy fringe. I don’t think he can act without it

Acting world aside, I got to thinking of my own Freebie in the real world- the part of my personality that is just waiting to burst out. I would say that mine is enthusiasm. Push the right buttons and I will gush at a hundred words a minute about something I’m passionate about (you don’t want to be near me when you’re complaining about an unexpected bill, or how you don’t have any savings). The same will happen if anyone even breathes about a theatre piece I love, or some passing obsession that I currently have. It’s like my brain is wired to thrive on that endorphin kick I get from being ridiculously over-excited about anything.

I think I look like this…

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But I really look like this…

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For so long I’ve spent time apologising for my random outbursts, or trying to pretend that I am waaaay cooler than I actually am by moderating my responses (sound familiar?).

Recently I’ve started to wonder if maybe it isn’t just better to embrace that side of myself. And if I come off a little manic (and maybe a little ax-murdery, as has been mentioned in the past) then phooey- playing a serial killer is definitely on my to-do list anyway.

And if I know what makes me a little more ‘me’, then maybe that will help me pinpoint when I’m losing myself a little. If I can’t be bothered to muster a kitten scratch or a suggestion than an actor should roll their fifteen super funds into one account, then something is wrong in my life and I need to identify it. Because not having the time to scratch a kitten? Definitely not me.

So what would your freebie be? Is it something that you’re happy to indulge in, or something that only your nearest & dearest get to see? Maybe you have the dryest sense of humour, or you can’t help working to turn any room you walk into into a place of calm. Maybe you don’t even know what yours is yet (Hiddles clearly needed some help). Or am I raving (with enthusiasm) on a topic that isn’t really applicable in the real world?

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Have you embraced your Freebie? (Tom Hiddleston has)

Wanted: Cabin in the woods

As I write this, winter is slowly creeping in on Melbourne. The trees are dropping leaves and nights are cool enough that I’m sleeping snuggled around a hot water bottle. I miss the feeling of sun soaking into my bones, and the way it lingers on the corner of my couch when I have time to sit for a morning coffee.

Maybe it’s the change of season getting the best of me, but I’m also feeling as though life is stretching me thin at the moment. I haven’t had two days in a row off in forever (at least it feels like it) and I can feel my poor body struggling to keep up with the endless balancing act of my bill paying work and the ‘work’ of building an acting career. I get a sort of tightness in my brain that makes me crave a cabin in the woods somewhere with nothing but green as far as the eye can see.

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My soul needs this…without the stabby stabby

Failing a cabin, what would you suggest? How do you cope when life is getting a bit much?

 


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for updates, and if you want to see more of me, come say hello on my Instagram or Twitter, I would love to see you there!

Wanted: Cabin in the woods

I solemnly swear that I’m up to some good

It’s easy (for me, at least) to spend a fair bit of time thinking about where my money is going- or rather, where it’s vanishing to.

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This month I want to start spending more time thinking about where my money is going. And yes, that is a very important set of italics.

I’ve reached a stage with my money where I’m no longer the panicking, impoverished arts student. I wouldn’t say that I’m functioning with a grown-up level of income (what’s a real job again?) but I am at a point where it’s time to start thinking about how my spending is serving the world – what lives am I changing, what values am I representing?

I’ll be the first to raise my hand and confess that I’m frequently guilty of going for the bottom line. Why bother spending top dollar on some boring essential when I can duck down to Big W and get what I need for just a few dollars? But it’s time to stop kidding myself (and yes, this hurts). More often than not that bottom dollar is supporting sweat-shop labour, unsafe conditions, and probably terrible environmental practices.

If I’m voting with my money, then I sure don’t want it to be going to those people. I want to live in a world stuffed full of companies that are truly trying to make a difference! Hell, I want to live in a world that still looks like our world in fifty years. If that means shopping a little more mindfully and perhaps forking out more for businesses that support my goals, then I guess that’s a small price to pay.

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WALL-E is adorable, but not if his world becomes our reality

While I’m at it, I’m going to do my best to support the people with the dreams! The good folk in my area who have taken the dive and are trying to make good when the whole world says they can’t. I’m talking delicious freshly baked breads, beautiful plants (from somewhere other than the supermarket I’msosorryIcan’tleavethemtheretheyneedmeeee), handmade ceramics, locally grown organics, coffee from that new spot that just needs time to become the next big thing. Doesn’t that just sound like the dream?

And maybe I will have to make some sacrifices to follow through. Maybe I cut down my takeaway coffee habit to so there’s money to pay more for my veges, or maybe I save for the items I truly want to bring into my life from suppliers that I honestly want to support. The great thing about having a budget is that it’s totally possible to look at your spendings in black & white and re-evaluate as circumstances change.

I’m not going to lie, this is going to be hard for me. After so many years of being dirt-poor, parting with more money than I absolutely have to is going to take some getting used to. But I’m going to take a big ol’ breath and let go of the reins a little, putting my money where my mouth is. Because what’s the point of money, if we’re not using it to make the world a better place?


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for updates, and if you want to see more of me, come say hello on my Instagram or Twitter, I would love to see you there!

I solemnly swear that I’m up to some good

When it’s time to say No

We live in a world that places value on Yes. Yes to staying late at work, Yes to the third girls night out in a month, Yes to that upsize.

Yes means that you’re a team player, a go-getter, someone who’s seizing every opportunity that life throws your way. But do you also sometimes feel trapped by the big Y-E-S?

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(Gratuitous Hiddles GIF because we’re getting deep)

As I’ve detailed before, when I’m not able to make ends meet with acting gigs, I cover my bills with a variety of casual jobs. These all dove-tail nicely and usually mean that I’m able to earn more than I need to to keep afloat. And I mean way more. It’s completely normal to get a ‘By the way, are you free on…’ every time I’m in an office. My knee-jerk reaction is always to say yes, because who’s going to turn down extra money? If I don’t practice my No muscle, there are times when I can look at my diary and realise that I’ve worked 50-60 hours in a week. My workplaces are probably grateful to have an extra set of hands available and I know that my bank account always sure appreciates the extra boost, but how is any of that helping me move towards what I actually want in life? Looked at objectively, my Yes is serving everyone but me.

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The self-sacrificing Yes can disguise itself in a number of ways.

Online sales are my weaknesssss- I’m the person that will open a dozen tabs and add hundreds of dollars of items to my cart before coming to my senses and leaving everything behind. So where has my Yes to their emailed invitation gotten me? I’ve probably wasted a few hours of work time and decided that I need to completely overhaul my wardrobe, browsing the sale was really only the good little capitalist in me trying to burn my hard earned money on some low-cost, sweatshop clothing. Is that really what I’m working for?

The real irony is, the more I’ve been working in a day-job, the harder it is for me to resist the chance to throw my money away. I’ll find myself engaging in hard-core research for products I don’t even need, because deep down I’m trying to justify the overwork. I’m working so hard so I deserve to spend money on the things I want – or the things they tell me I want. And then what do I have to do to replace the money I spent?

Bingo. I say yes to overtime again.

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Sometimes not using your Yes won’t make sense to the rest of the world.

This whole blog post started in my head last night when I went to grab a burger on the run for dinner. At the end of my order, I was offered sauce for an extra 50c and obviously said yes because aoli is life.

And then I got ‘and what drink would you like?’

The options on offer were canned soft drink (which I’m avoiding because I’m trying to deny that it’s time for a visit to the dentist) or bottled water (see here and here for the back story on that one).

‘None, thank you’.

‘None?’

‘No thanks’

‘Are you sure? It’s free with the sauce.’

‘I’m good, but thanks’

‘Not even a water?’

‘No thank you.’

I had to turn down a free drink four times before she would accept my answer.

Because who doesn’t say yes to free? Crazy people, that’s who!

Saying Yes would sure have ended the conversation sooner. But then where would I have been? Technically I would have been up the cost of a water, but why do I need it? I had a bottle in my bag, and if I had taken the plastic bottle it would have lurked on my conscience all night.

No matter how badly the lovely woman wanted me to follow the purchase path (probably making her till order easier) and take the ferdydurking free water, withholding my Yes was what was better for me. (Okay, technically it was more of a series of very polite No’s, but you get the point. I’ll write on the power of a good No another day.)

Treasure your Yes-es as if you had a finite amount to give- because you do! How many times can you say Yes to everyone before you suffer a complete breakdown?

Save them for the things that will bring you joy. Say Yes to that movie with friends, that extra-nice bottle of wine, or that short film that you really don’t have time to do but the script is just so.damned.good (guilty). Save your Yes-es for the things that will feed your soul, because at the end of the day, you’re the only one who has to live in the life you’re creating.

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PSA: This post is written from the perspective of a compulsive Yes-er. If you think that mayyybe you’re a compulsive No-er, you go and sprinkle those Yes-es like stardust, you beautiful little nay-sayer!


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for updates, and if you want to see more of me, come say hello on my Instagram or Twitter, I would love to see you there!

When it’s time to say No

Time to face the digital reality: Part 2 (Attack of the apps)

Pre-post disclaimer: What you are about to read is extremely embarassing. Be gentle, dear reader, and try not to judge me…


A couple of weeks ago, Google Play (the android app store) decided to suggest that it was perhaps time for me to download an app to track my phone usage and monitor my ‘addition’

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Addiction Smaddschmiction. I’m perfectly in control of my usage.

And you know what? The app totally agreed with me! ‘Average Daily Usage, 29min’. That’s an absolutely acceptable time to spend on your phone if you’re a busy working gal, isn’t it?

Except that I knew that the average usage time was nowhere near correct.

My commute is roughly 25min each way to my closest job and if I’m not squeezing in a Headspace session, I can easily spend that whole time on Instagram (yes, it does make me cower in shame to say aloud). Not to mention scrolling on a coffee break, phone calls with jobs, or the dozens of things that are clearly absolutely necessary over the course of a modern day (or not). I decided to find a second opinion on the matter, and downloaded Quality Time.

Day One – 4h 36min.

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Yup, that sounds more like it.

FOUR HOURS AND THIRTY-SIX MINUTES.

I can’t even wrap my head around that figure. What was I doing all that time? Where did I even find four hours and thirty-six minutes? Even more confronting, looking through my usage for the day, there are only three instances where I was in the same app for more than six minutes. The rest of the time looks mostly like this:

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Flicking through apps, over and over again. Does that sound familiar to anyone else?

How many times did I mindlessly open Fitbit to check on my steps, or Instagram to see what the rest of the world was doing? With the majority of those opens lasting just a matter of seconds, the answer is apparently – a ferdydurking lot. 349 times, to be exact.

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Anecdotal evidence of social media use linking to depression aside (although if you feel that this is a problem for you, please don’t be shy to drop me a line or find someone you can talk to), those four hours every day are something that I’m mindlessly spending. I knew I was a heavy user, but I had no idea that the numbers would stack that high.

If the minutes of my life are like dollars, then it seems that social media has quickly become my Latte Factor.  Across the week, my new frenemy was telling me that I spent 30 hours 46 minutes looking at my phone screen. I tried to take comfort in the fact that I had a number of long calls to make last week, but it appears that Quality Time is smart enough not to count those minutes beyond the time taken actually setting up the call. With that excuse ripped from me, it’s time to face that every one of those 30 hours is time that I mindlessly fed into a machine.

Don’t get me wrong with all of this- as I stated when I opened this box of worms, I get a huge amount of enjoyment from social media! I love talking to people and seeing what lives are like on the other side of the world. But do I spend all 30 hours a week connecting with followers?  Or am I just mindlessly opening an app to ‘buffer’ my life for a moment? Methinks a lot of those hours went to the latter.

And so now I’m making a pledge!

Time to get this beast under control. For one week I am going to try and cut those mindless app opens in half. Every time I reach for my phone, I promise to check in with myself first to see why I’m opening that app. Is it really time to hang out with some followers, or do I just want to see how that latest post is doing?

Instead, I pledge to

  • Reach for a book!
  • Do some squats (might as well get some booty out of this!)
  • Tidy one thing away
  • Practice a language/an accent/an instrument!
  • Message a friend
  • Just close my eyes and breathe for a moment

 

And what about you? Is it your phone that’s sapping your time? Or perhaps you can lose your hours on the internet, or in front of the TV? If you looked objectively at those hours, what would you want to be doing instead?

 


If you want to see more of me, you can check out my Instagram & Twitter, I would love to see you there! (Oh, the irony…)

 

Time to face the digital reality: Part 2 (Attack of the apps)

Time to face the (digital) reality

I have a social media problem.

There’s literally no denying it. I start my morning flicking through my twitter & instagram (and Acorns #addict). Throughout the day I’ll be casually touching base, chatting with followers or replying to messages. At night I’ll normally do a last blast of commenting on pictures that catch my eye, stalk some friends on facebook or tweet a reminder about a new blog post. I would be the first person to say that the amount of time I spend with my phone in my hand is reasonably unhealthy, but I’ve always been able to justify my social media time by heaving a sigh and going ‘I know, but it’s really for my career’.

That’s not a complete lie. I was never into the insta/twitter obsession when they first started. I’m not great in front of a camera and I could probably count the number of selfies I had taken on two hands (and maybe a foot). They were the realm of people who drank smoothies and pranced around on beaches (without ANY sand sticking to them, I call bunk). But then I heard a story from a friend of mine who had gone in to audition for a short-term music theatre gig- the audition had gone well and she was invited back for a callback and then she was asked for all her social media account so that her follower numbers could be checked.

What.

Since when has someone’s insta-fame affected their ability to entertain a group of child-spawn? But the story stuck with me and I figured if that was the way the industry was going, I had better get on board. Cut to about three years later and Google Play (the android version of the apps store, for all you mac addicts) suggests that the app I really need in my life is ‘Antisocial’.

I was procrastinating, so of course I downloaded it.

“Do you find yourself constantly checking your phone? Finally discover and track how addicted you are to your smartphone with AntiSocial!”

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Exqueeze me? I am not addicted. I can do just fine without my phone. I don’t even ‘gram my food, I can’t be addicted.

BUT it is a new app, and I love new apps. AND if I’m honest, that love of apps robs me of so much time every day that maybe it could be time to get this beast under control.

So how does it work?

“Once installed, AntiSocial works in the background of your phone without you even knowing it. After 2 weeks, it accumulates all of your activity and delivers an easy to understand report.

More importantly, you will be able to learn whether you use your phone more or less than everyone else. Knowledge is power, and from there it’s up to you whether you want or need to take action. The app offers the ability to manage, block and restrict usage but again, this is entirely up to the user.” 

*gulp*

I have a feeling that I am about to discover more about my most-definitely-not-addiction than I am ready to face. I’ll update at the end of my two week ‘assessment’ and then I suspect things are about to get very embarrassing as the truth comes out…

Want to join me? Grab Antisocial and we can face our results together – I promise to let you gloat when yours put mine to shame.


Speaking of social media; if you want to see more of me, you can check out my Instagram & Twitter, I would love to see you there!

Time to face the (digital) reality

The Paradox of Choice

In Melbourne we have this magical wonderland called Brunetti’s. Established over 30 years ago, Brunetti’s offers *ahem* ‘Italian’ style sweets, pastries & gelato. These are basically my three favourite things in the world, and their range is huge.

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Seriously, this is about half of their range.

So why is it that despite the number of times I’ve walked into Brunetti’s, I’ve only ever purchased one (amazing) rum baba? It’s certainly not due to the lack of delicious treats available or to the scrooge factor, as they’re all roughly the same price.

To add to the story, my first rum baba was purchased when I had arranged to meet a friend for coffee & cake, and so was obliged to make a choice. The next (and only other time) I ordered something from Brunetti’s? After pacing the cabinet a number of times, I walked away with the rum baba again. Yes, it had been delicious, but I also could be fairly certain that I could throw a dart and it would land in something  that I would enjoy. So why the repeat?

Overchoice 

There are just too many delicious options to choose from. I could be happy with any of them, but choosing one dessert means forfeiting a dozen others that I may like even more. How can I tell that I’ve made the best choice? It’s all a bit too much, maybe I don’t really need a sweet anyway…

Then I will literally walk away. Choice overload short circuits my brain, making me think that it’s better to have no dessert than to make anything less than the best possible choice. And I think we can all agree, no dessert is never the best choice.

According to Shah, A. M., & Wolford (and Wikipedia) in situations like this, ‘Making a decision becomes overwhelming due to the many potential outcomes and risks that may result from making the wrong choice. Having too many approximately equally good options is mentally draining because each option must be weighed against alternatives to select the best one.’

-ie. how can I possibly weigh all of these equally delicious options against each other? They’re like children,  I can’t possibly choose.

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Spending literally minutes obsessing over a dessert might seem minor in the course of a day, but spending hours or days obsessing over larger decisions can chip away at your brainpower and result in poorer decisions in the long run. In a consumer-driver society, those larger decisions are everywhere. What internet provider offers the best deal? What credit card should you apply for? What car insurance is best for you?

Frequently having to make calls like these can involve hours of research and dozens of computer tabs (at least if you’re me). Sometimes it will be an ongoing project, idly stretching across a number of days. I start using the hunt as procrastination, dropping an hour here & there to ‘just check out some other options’. They’re all so similar and companies devote big money to making sure that they appear the best on the market, so how do I know I’m making the best choice?

I don’t. I’ll never know that.

All I can do is decide what my needs are (cheap internet, no annual card fee…and I don’t own a car), and find a product to meet those needs. It might not be the best product available, but if it does the job I’m paying for it to do at a price point that I’m comfortable with, is it worth spending any more time on the problem than that? As Tim Ferris so aptly puts it “It’s deliberation—the time we vacillate over and consider each decision—that’s the attention consumer.” 

And in this day and age, how much attention do you really have to waste?


If you want to see more of me, you can check out my Instagram & Twitter, I would love to see you there!

 

 

 

 

The Paradox of Choice