Category Archives: Creativity

In Praise Of Pottering

There is a Serbian word, that translated to the feeling of contentment and bliss, that delicious sense of oneness with the universe when performing simple pleasures. Those small moments that add up to a fulfilled life. A contented life. I wondered if this is pottering, the Serbian way.
One of my main skills in life is pottering. There is an art to high-level pottering and of this, I am a master.

The first rule for sterling pottering is to not have any particular goal in mind.
Do not try and finish anything. If the act of pottering results in something being finished, such as the dishes, or planting spring herbs then so be it. It is neither good or bad. It just the outcome of that moment.

Do not set out with a goal. I repeat, no goals today my pottering pal. Just be. Maybe you are looking for a book and end up sorting out the poets from the playwrights. Or you sit on the floor, in front of the bookshelf and read the first three chapters of Love in a Cold Climate because you forgot how much you loved that book.

Stop looking at the time. Time will slow when you’re pottering, so savor the extra minutes and take care with your task. If you want to carefully wipe down the leaves of your Fiddle Fig, then take all the time you need. The Fiddle Fig will enjoy the attention and company.

You are allowed to be distracted. Have three things happening at once. A book open, a recipe you’d like to attempt open on your computer, a sewing project half done with no expectations of when it will be finished. There is no start or end when pottering.

Pick lemons, arrange them in the sweet bowl from the op-shop. Stroke the cat on the neighbor’s fence. Let the tea steep for an extra minute. You have time.

Tidy the car while listening to a podcast, wax the surfboard while humming a tune, pat your dog while sitting in the sunshine. Watch the coriander seeds sprout in the little plastic pot you picked up from the side of the road.

Wipe down a surface but only one. To do more than one is considered cleaning and right now we are pottering. It is about seeing and responding to the moment. Being in the moment and enjoying it.

I love cleaning my desk, with no intention to work there that day. Just wiping it down, rearranging my things, it’s meditative.

I move from moment to moment, doing what I want and what jumps out at me. But not too much because then it’s work and I have enough of that during the week.

Potter or putter or dawdle or tinker to your soul’s content. There is time enough to reach the goals and clean the house and tick things off the list, but for now, relax and feel the merak.

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Talk About A Bad Day At Work

I was reading that resilience comes from talking to people about your troubles. Sharing the moments that scare or confuse you. That the act of talking it through is in itself a decision to be resilient.

This year I experienced an extreme act of professional bullying. It wasn’t just aimed at me, it was aimed at everyone in the business, slowing ebbing away any semblance of independence and confidence. Micromanaging bullshit and game playing that eventually ended up in me leaving in a manner that meant I spent the evening on the phone to Lifeline, pondering my pain and self-worth. Should I stay or go?

In an act of desperation, I wrote about it on Facebook, asking a few close friends if I was what he said I was in our last meeting. A deeply personal accusation that bordered on cruelty.

I’m not usually that person who puts up the sad sack post on FB but I needed help. I was drowning. It played over and over in my head. I couldn’t stop crying. I was sick to my stomach. My children cried watching me cry. My husband was furious and helpless. I didn’t want anyone to feel that way because of what happened to me. So I asked. Am I what he said I was? I had been misunderstood and I was punished for it. I was punished for being myself. For the way I wrote, and the way I expressed my enthusiasm.

The love and support I got was amazing. The care and kindness. People called me to tell me I matter. People met me for coffee and talked about their own experience with this tyrant. I got job offers. I gained an amazing new client from it, and I felt so deeply loved, that I cry as I read this. I asked and I received.

I talked to my psychiatrist about it and she said that our support networks are our lifeline. Sometimes it’s okay to be vulnerable and say, ‘This happened and I’m in a bad place.’ Because those people will remind you that they got through similar and worse, they will have advice, and the act of talking it through helps your brain make sense of it, and you can begin to practise options for recovery and coping.

I am not someone who shies away from emotion. I am okay with the ugly cry. I am okay with the rawness in life. I can talk about death and suicide, and mental illness and grief. The dark waters don’t scare me anymore. But being frightened by someone else does. I was frightened. I was traumatised. I was in shock.

I asked my doctor when other people would find out what sort of a person they are, and she said, when they open their eyes enough to see the bigger picture. Emotional intelligence isn’t something everyone has. Sometimes they avoid the behaviours because they are getting something out of it. The greater good doesn’t always play out in the world.

We live in a society where excuses are made when people’s bad behaviour is overlooked because they might give us something. Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Michael Jackson, Louis C.K, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump. We can forgive anything if we are getting something out of it. But can you ethically and morally separate the art and artist or the boss and the bully, especially when their behaviour traumatises people?

You cannot excuse them just because you enjoy their work or they make you money. The long game means that many will eventually end us losing. History tells us so. One law suit. One review. One person says something and soon the others come. The truth, just like the moon, cannot be hidden long.

But the lesson isn’t about that. That will sort itself out.

My lesson is that it’s important to share when you’re struggling. Talking helps you makes sense and decide. That great friend’s and loved ones are your safety net, and that you will be the same for them or have been. It’s called love. So work hard and be nice to people. It’s easy if you try.

* Graphic Design -Anthony Burrill