Making and letting go.


I want to tell you a story about when I was 13 and I wrote my first song. Things weren’t great, at the time. I was a budding artist, and spent hours drawing and sketching away, working on my own little comic book. It meant the world to me, the story I was telling and the characters I had clumsily assembled. My inspirations were Todd Mcfarlane and Jack Kirby, weavers of dreams that were far beyond my abilities.

Unfortunately, drawing art like that came with an occupational hazard; my Dad. Dad didn’t like comic art. He thought I was wasting my time and my life by not learning to paint landscapes and freehand portraits. I guess he wanted me to go to art school and become a professional artist.

We used to clash about a lot of things, in a relationship that would only get worse as the years went by. But when I was thirteen, that was when I gave up on trying with him. Because every time he found the art that I put my heart and soul into, he’d tear up each piece of paper and throw out the remains. Without fail.

I used to go to my room and cry, wishing he could understand, wishing I could understand why he was like that.

It was in the middle of all this, in a hot Australian summer, that I discovered punk rock through bands like Black Flag and the Ramones. My older brothers gave me CDs to listen to, and for the first time the guilt that I had felt for disappointing my Dad began turning into anger.

I wrote my first song at the end of that summer. I wrote it holed up in my room, on the bunk bed that I shared with my younger sibling, and for the first time I expressed the way my Dad made me feel. When I finished writing the lyrics, I read back over them and I was calm.

I had clarity. I had made something new, something that he could never understand. I had made something that I believed in. The more I wrote songs, the more I made things that let my anger and frustration and depression out, the better I felt. I started my first bands, one after the other, and explored what I intended to be a career in music.

It was something my Dad didn’t understand, which appealed to me.

When I first started seeing a therapist, a little while ago, she told me that I needed to clear my mind and let go of the things that bothered me. She said I should envision myself placing each thought onto a water lily and watching it float away. When she said that, I realised something. For me, that’s what making things was like. I would put every fear and every emotion or memory that bothered me into whatever I was working on, and when it was finished, try to let it go.

Understanding this about my own creative process was a big step, and it wasn’t an easy one. The more I think about it, and the more aware I am of how I work, the better my relationship with myself has become.

My Dad and me? We haven’t spoken in years. And I like it that way. He was an angry man, and a man who made his family afraid of him. For me, knowing him is a lose-lose situation. So I don’t lose sleep over how or what he’s doing.

I still make things every day. They aren’t songs, anymore. Truth to be told, I think I said all the things that I wanted to say with music. These days, I write a lot more and I draw a lot more. I try to apply my creativity to business as well, which has helped me to found Reach and start planning an online magazine.

I’m a lot happier now than I ever used to be.
We are who we are, and we make what we make, because of some people. We are who we are, and we make what we make, in spite of others.

That’s it from me. Have a kick-ass week.

Screen Time Zero.


I want to start this by specifying that I love technology. I am a person who is almost constantly connected, using my UP band to track my daily stats and keep a regular log of my emotions, always buried in my iPhone, iPad or Mac.

You know what? I am not going to change that. I like it. I enjoy technology, and I enjoy using it. I think the abilities that these devices give me are amazing, and I think that the experiences they can provide are truly incredible.


Over the past few months, I have been trying rather irregularly to set aside a few days to enjoy zero screen time. When I say enjoy, I really mean struggle painfully through, of course. The reasons are pretty simple. Every now and then I get caught up in routines, where I open apps and I do the same little things on them over and over again, and sometimes the information that I am opening myself to won’t even sink in.

Ever found yourself checking the time on your phone only to have no idea what it was just a few minutes later? Yeah. I’m talking about that. I can’t explain how it happens. Maybe we just become totally desensitised to how incredible this technology, these screens really are. We just fall into a rut and our thought patterns become too predictable and start to feel almost pointless.

On my zero screen time days, I keep everything turned off. I read a few books, draw some artwork by hand and go for walks. I write in my journals and I play guitar. These are rarely productive days.

I am convinced that sooner or later, I will end up busting out the action figures and playing old classic games such as Gandalf vs. Darth Vader vs. He-Man.

These zero screen time days become partly a break from technology, but partly an excuse to rediscover ways of enjoying myself and passing the time that I have forgotten about over the years.

What are the effects and benefits of switching everything off for 24 hours? I feel relaxed. Relaxed and energised and ready for new challenges. My brain feels like it could take on any problem (which it can’t because math always defeats me.)

I would never advocate becoming a Luddite and rejecting technology. Hell, when I wake up the day after a zero screen time break, I can’t wait to reach for my phone and catch up on everything that’s happened while I’ve been offline.

It feels like Christmas morning used to, before I discovered the Santa Scam.

Here’s my advice to you. Just once a month, set aside a Saturday or Sunday to turn off your devices and hit zero screen time. You don’t even have to enjoy it as much as I do. You can hate it all you want. But try it. You won’t regret it.

Collaborative calm.

Creating, Culture, Dreams, Lifestyle, Online, Writing

The startup I have been involved with has slowly geared up and launched. This is a very exciting time for us! If you’ve ever been involved with a creative project, you know that even having an idea for something and then taking the courage to set it free can be so draining.

So far, Tuteable hasn’t kicked off any panic attacks for me. Yet.
I do find though, that projects on which I am working with a collaborator tend to be a great deal calmer than projects that I tackle solo.

I’m not saying they get finished more often. But at least trying doesn’t feel quite as pointless or problematic when I have someone with whom I can share the dream.

In realising lately that this means I’m not necessarily the completely independent person I always wanted to be, I have begun to wonder if some of my other projects and ideas might have actually been successful had I tried to collaborate instead of doing everything myself.

If I had to go back and redo some things, these are just a couple of things I think I’d do differently now.

1. Share the dream.

That can be hard. But it’s also worth it. This would have helped me find people who wanted to get involved with my work, contribute to it in a meaningful way. I believe when I was younger I was trying to somehow protect my work from the world. No. Wrong. Don’t do it. Spread the word. When people ask what you do, the first thing that comes out of your mouth should be your dream.

2. Respect other contributions.

In the past, I have been very good at finding ways to denigrate the work of others. Not for any good reason. Not for the sake of constructive criticism. More just as another way of protecting my own work. This isn’t a healthy habit. It makes you blind to the flaws in your own projects, and it means you miss out on the amazing things that other people could do for you and with you. Try to show their efforts the respect you want shown to yours. And I don’t just mean publicly. I mean in private too.

Today, I got up early.


And the world seemed a lot quieter.
I have recently started a new full time job with a heavy commute, and I decided I need to begin training myself to get up earlier and exercise. I’m doing this in stages because when I make instant heavy change in my life I can sometimes just falter and not accomplish anything.

I figured the first thing is just to be better at being awake at 5:30, way before I think about jogging at 5:30. I’m not one of those instagram super-humans who can survive on a diet of fruit and wake up at 4 am every day feelin’ groovy. Oh no. Not me.

Today I woke up, climbed out of bed looking like Morla from The Never Ending Story (ew) and just started my day. I’m trying to eat breakfast at home rather than at my desk, so I did that today with a bowl of rather dull muesli and a bottle of water. I sat down and ate while I worked on a few little bits and pieces for Tuteable (more on that later).

It wasn’t an exciting morning. It was just quiet and simple. I had time to get stuff done that would have stressed me out later. I have time to write this blog post. And I have time to really think about my day, and determine, through my own choices, exactly what kind of a day I’m going to have. 

I think I could get used to this!

In the final analysis.


“The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself he becomes wise.”

- Alden Nowlan 

In the final analysis, what matters?

I was considering this question just the other day. You know, the old saying, you can’t take it with you. That applies to almost everything. You can’t take your possessions, your accomplishments, your friends or your family. But I think there is something you can take. I think wherever you go, wherever you end up, you take your choices with you.

Your choices are the only thing that can ever truly be yours.
Every time you choose to hurt or help someone, to treat someone like they matter or like they’re not worth a damn thing, only you can make that choice. 

That, I find, is something so hopeful and positive. Because as long as you can own your choices, you own some wonderful and incredible things. The trick is to make sure you actually DO own your choices. I think a lot of the time, our choices can be made not necessarily by us but by the contexts that surround us.

For many people, some of the biggest, hardest, best and worst decisions are made by their own reflections of their parents. Or their siblings. Their best friend, their bad experience. And this isn’t always a bad thing. It is just something that you have to be aware of. You have to be aware of who or what is making your decisions. 

I think, honestly, that it is better to make a bad decision yourself than to make a dozen good decisions for someone else. If you can step back and examine the times you messed up, and equally, the times you did the right thing, and then acknowledge that those choices were yours…well, you’ve picked up some things that will mean a lot more than anything money can buy.

The quote above, from Alden Nolan, is something that has meant a great deal to me over the last few years of my life. I think its meaning only grows more and more as we become older. It brings to mind the hardest step, which is of course to learn to forgive ourselves, after we take our choices on board.

Have I started to accept my choices and decisions? Yes.
Have I started to take ownership of them? Finally, yes.
But have I begun to forgive myself for them?

I would have to say, that remains on my bucketlist.


The post project slump.

comics, Creating, Culture, Lifestyle, Online, Writing

I recently found a project that I had worked hard on for a number of months suddenly placed on hold. I was okay with that. But it did precipitate a bout of what I call the completion blues. And this happens with a degree of regularity every time I finish work on something. First, I tend to be relatively elated. It feels amazing to have signed off on something creative that I have put myself out for.

Unfortunately, next comes this need to be busy with something else. To find a new project that will keep me both occupied and satisfied. I find myself drawing panels for comic books that I have not yet written, leafing through sketchbooks and feeling discouraged by my art, glancing over short stories that I have begun but that fail to capture my interest or excitement in the moment.

I begin going through my phone and looking up contacts to see what they’re working on, hoping to find something cool to get involved with. These jitters are enough to drive you crazy! What it comes down to eventually though, is something of a slump.

I start to feel pretty burned out, and unable to think clearly, unable to focus on stuff. Which is why, as of today, I am implementing a new policy. From this day forth, every time I finish something, I do solemnly swear to take at least one day away from creativity and just play roleplaying games, read books and sing songs of good cheer.

I’ll be back to my usual crazily overly annoyingly productive self before long. But recharging is a good thing. For anyone.

What goes on?

Creating, Culture, Music, Seriously Dude??, Writing

I was out last night at a venue in Sydney to catch a few local bands, including one from Melbourne called Magic Bones. That band were one of the best live acts I have seen in a long time, and I was blown away but their attitude, their music and the sheer lack of pretentiousness. Fantastic act. Unfortunately, by the time I headed out of the bar and caught the long two hour bus ride home, I was feeling pretty disheartened. Why was this?

Because the whole evening just didn’t feel right. The room was full of people out to have a good time and a bit of a party. They were all dressed for a night out, and good on them. But when did going to a bar to see a bunch of indie/alternative bands become just another evening out on the town? When did it stop being all about going and catching some honest music for the sake of it and start being about looking a certain way, doing shots and ignoring a hard working band who are sweating it out on a tiny stage playing songs they believe in? To some extent it kind of felt like the music last night was being treated like window dressing. And that isn’t how things ought to be.

I don’t really know what has gone on for it to reach this point. But when I was younger, and going to shows it was definitely more about a shared love for the bands and the music and the culture that surrounded us. When I saw Gorilla Biscuits with my best friend, people cried in the mosh pit from the sheer emotion of the moment. We drove two hours to see that gig and then we jumped right back in the car afterwards and drove home. And we did it in torn vans and old t-shirts.

Maybe the problem is with me in some way. Maybe I’m being judgemental. Maybe I’m just taking these people at their appearance and not seeing the hearts and minds underneath. But you know what, when a lot of them were hanging at the back laughing and shouting over the music, it didn’t feel like there was a lot of love in the room.

I think what I’m trying to say is, if you want to put on your new heels or that tailored suit and hit the town that is more than fine with me. Sometimes we all want to look sharp and party like there’s no tomorrow. But perhaps you could save it for the clubs. And when you go see a band, focus on what they’re doing. That is their art. You don’t know how much those songs they wrote mean to them. How heartbreaking it is to put yourself out there in your own lyrics, at your most vulnerable, and see people standing with their backs to you because they’re chatting someone up at the bar.