31 Things I Know, Now That I’m 31

1. When I was 16, I felt like I knew everything. Now that I’m 31, I know that I definitely don’t.

2. Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.’ As I get older, I see more and more people dying. Their bodies just haven’t realised it yet.

3. There’s nothing wrong with routine, or habit, but every now and again shake it up; take a different route, start the other way around, order a different drink. Just because.

4. Where possible, do things because you want to, not have to.

5. People change. It’s unreasonable to expect someone to be the same person for an entire lifetime.

6. Don’t make excuses.

7. A well-stocked freezer never disappoints. There will be nights when you’re cold and weary. Nights when your legs feel like lead. Nights when even thinking is too tiresome. These are the nights you defrost.

8. Different people will stir different things inside of you. That’s why your circle should be wide and varied.

9. We are guests of this world, this planet, and we don’t own shit; let’s all act accordingly.

10. People do the best that they can with what they have and what they know. But people can always do better.

11. Anything is possible. I mean Cadbury just put Vegemite in chocolate, so really.

12. Use everything; your best earrings, your favourite shoes, the expensive hand cream, the fancy gifts. Use ‘em all until they fray and run out and break.

13. Figure out what you’re not prepared to compromise on, ever, and don’t.

14. There’s very little black and white and a whole heap of grey.

15. If you have to choose between settling and running, run.

16. When a day ends and you’ve been scared and challenged and nervous, understand that’s not a bad day. That’s the very best type of day.

17. Live like you mean it.

18. When it all seems too hard, too big, too messy, wait until the sun sets and the sky goes midnight blue and the stars start twinkling. Then look up.

19. Love yourself first.

20. Someone recently shared some advice with me they’d once received, advice they live by: ‘just say yes’. So just say yes. To the things you want to do, to the things you don’t know how to do, to the things that scare you.

21. Throw yourself out of your comfort zone. Often.

22. Eat your greens.

23. You’ve just gotta listen to music every day.

24. There is enough of everything for everybody.

25. People will tell you to ‘be yourself’ but in order to do so, you’ve got to get really comfortable with who you genuinely are.

26. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do.

27. One day you’re 20 and then you blink and you’re 30. Some days might be long but the years are short so if you can do something with them – something meaningful and good – then you should. Don’t let a decade pass only to wonder what could have been.

28. You will likely leave this world in a similar way to how you entered it; naked, screaming and gasping for air. I don’t know why people make the part in between those two events so difficult and pointless, but if you can help it, try not to be one of them.

29. Everyone is on this quest to find the blank white space where everything is neat and perfect and sorted and solid. And that’s great. But if you can get lost in the sticky for a while – that gooey, uncomfortable place that everyone’s running from – then you should. Get wildly lost.

30. Things are only ever as complicated as you make them.

31. To feel is to live. If you don’t feel it, you’re not living.

Why I Love Him

This morning I read this beautiful piece, written by Malcolm Turnbull, to his wife, Lucy.

And I loved every line. It’s about real love; the kind that is enduring and somewhat rare. It’s about honest love; love that has grown, with people that have grown.

My favourite lines are these:

Yet, truthfully, we have been so lucky in so many ways. To meet the love of your life at all, let alone at such a young age, is such a blessing.

Over the years, we have grown together. It is almost impossible to imagine, let alone remember, what it was like not to be together, so much so that I have a much clearer sense of “Lucy and me” than I do of “me”.

I think I love this piece so much because it reminds me of my great love.

I met my husband when I was 17. He was 19. We have grown and evolved and changed but we did it together, teetering a fine line between growing and thriving personally and staying together, on the same path, walking beside each other but never for each other.

We did it, truthfully, without great effort. Without trying too hard. Or being too conscious of it.

I know people, couples, that have been wonderful but they met and then grew and then grew apart.

I’m not sure why we didn’t grow apart. Life has pulled us in different directions, it has sometimes even chewed one of us up and spat us out, somewhere far away, but together we have stayed.

I also don’t remember what it’s like to not be with Kaz. Even though we both have separate interests, and do things together, but often apart, I know he is always there, somewhere, metaphorically hovering around.

Perhaps that’s where our strength has been; being together whilst also remaining ourselves, pursuing our own interests, whilst supporting and fiercely defending each other.

Perhaps it’s because, before anything else, he is my best friend. And that has never waivered.

Perhaps we are lucky, but I don’t particularly believe in luck. Perhaps we have worked hard at it, but I know that hasn’t been the case, at least not most of the time. Or perhaps it’s because it just works, without too much effort, and maybe that’s the most important part.

Kaz and Sandi Sieger

On our wedding day 

There are so many reasons as to why I love Kaz; because he is kind and caring. Because he is funny and witty. Because he is talented and modest. Because he is fair and clever.

But maybe, and maybe somewhat selfishly, I love him because of how he makes me feel and how he improves my life.

Because he makes me laugh, when I need it most. Because he finds humour, and beauty, in things I would sometimes ignore.

Because he pushes me to be better, when I think I am, or have done, enough.

Because he makes me happy.

Because when I was in labour with O, he was brave, when I needed to be brave, even though he was more frightened than me.

Because he teaches me things, all the time, probably without even knowing it.

Because he makes me more capable than I already am.

Because he is my greatest cheerleader.

Because he usually makes me see the other side of an argument, or issue, and even though I usually fight the point, or disagree, I am later thankful. Sometimes I even change my mind.

I don’t remember ever thinking, or believing, that we’d never end up together, forever. I never saw my life without him in it. I still don’t. It’s unimaginable.

I know what we have is special. Sometimes people tell us that, and it’s a nice reminder. Sometimes we recognise it ourselves. Sometimes, I see a film, or read a piece like I did this morning, and I think, ‘I have that. We have that.’

And it’s all kinds of wonderful.

Cutting Through The Bullshit

There’s a quiet still in my house that can only come from it being 6.15am on a Sunday morning. My husband is asleep, the baby is asleep… even my chow chow is curled up and breathing deeply.

It’s a nice place to be. It’s a nice thing to sit in the thick of. And, I’ve realised, sometimes you need moments of pure silence so you can hear yourself the clearest, and the loudest.

Over the past few days I’ve been meaning to find a moment to sit and reassess. Check in with myself and make sure everything’s on track. I’m generally in a good rhythm, but sometimes I can miss a beat.

Missing beats, for me, aren’t necessarily big things. They’re little things that, over time, add up until suddenly I find myself wondering…what am I doing?

You know what I mean.

The meeting you agreed to, but probably shouldn’t have. The coffee date you wish you hadn’t have made. Time spent doing a favour for someone you don’t even like…when you should have just said no. The phone call you keep taking. The salesperson you allowed to sway you, just a little.

I saw a dear friend yesterday, Gaynor Alder, and she said something that I know is true (and couldn’t have come at a better time):

“You’re all about cutting through the bullshit. It’s what I love about you.”

I have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullshit. I just can’t stand it and I’ve no interest in playing with it. But, like anyone, from time to time I find myself dancing in a little pile of it, because I think that’s what’s required to play along… but it isn’t.

And the reality is that now, more than ever before, I’ve got the best ‘excuse’ for my zero tolerance policy. He’s about 57cm long and cute as a button.

A couple of months ago, my best friend Mickey told me that after you have a child, you really reassess what’s important in your life. Your friendships, your job, your commitments, everything, because your time is so precious. And you do, even in a subconscious way. Sometimes, even before your baby has entered the world.

Since having my little boy, I’ve been surprised at how determined I am to do better and be better. My passion for my work has not trembled. But my time has, and with that, my questioning of what I want to value my time with.

Do I want to travel to and spend time in meetings devoid of actual purpose? No. Do I want to sit and meet with faux friends, the ones who natter on about their everything, but fail to ask how you are? Hell no.

I want to sit in meetings that matter. Meetings that achieve things. Have coffee with people that allow for a two-way conversation. I want to work, and write, and continue to grow Onya Magazine, and O&S Publishing, and run camps for kids and be a goddamn firecracker, but I don’t want to waste any time.

So I’m reassessing. I’m cutting through the bullshit. I’m making sure I’m on track. Not missing any beats.

Books Don’t Harm Kids, They Arm Them

“Books don’t harm kids, they arm them.” – Mem Fox

I popped into The Little Bookroom on Degraves Street in Melbourne yesterday afternoon. Of course, now I’ve legitimately got a reason to spend quite a bit of time scouring the shelves. I just love the little store – and I would have been mad about it as a child.

I was mad about books as a youngster. Still am. And it’s a love I hope my little man inherits. I read him a story every day. Many people would say it’s a waste of time. Many people would assume he doesn’t understand any part of it. But I know that with each story being read his language is developing. His mind and imagination are expanding. He’s becoming more empathetic, more understanding, more curious. And it’s a beautiful part of my day, one of my favourites, sitting with him and reading.

“The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading. It isn’t achieved by the book alone, nor by the child alone, nor by the adult who’s reading aloud—it’s the relationship winding between all three, bringing them together in easy harmony.”  ― Mem Fox, Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever

When I was two years old, I had already memorised my favourite book, The Little Red Caboose. I never struggled with reading, not for a single moment. I know the confidence that comes from being able to read and communicate well. It’s a basic skill I believe all children should have – and it’s not hard for them to have, all we need to do is read to them. Five minutes a day. To change their lives forever.

And so, because I love books, and because I’m armoured with all the reasons as to why reading is so beneficial for children (if you need the reasons, check out Mem Fox’s Reading Magic), I can’t stop buying them for O. I’ve gone a little mad. But I think it’s more than worth it.

photo copy 3

Vader's Little Princess

Sincere Forms of Flattery

Sincere Forms of Flattery

So, I’m certain you already know about O&S Publishing, a little e-pub business I started with my friend, Olivia Hambrett. And I know I’ve written about Sincere Forms of Flattery on this blog before. And now, there’s only one week left until we release our little love project – très exciting.

But if you don’t know? Here’s what it’s about…

It was the idea that started it all. An anthology that drew together a cluster of top notch young writers and asked them to write a short story in the style of their most beloved writer. Accompanying the story would be an essay on why their chosen writer is so important to them and how their own craft has been affected by this wordsmith. The anthology would be an homage to writers of the past and those who continue to enthrall today. A volume of love and appreciation.

Originally, we were going to print it, but when the idea for O&S Publishing took hold, we decided to make Sincere Forms of Flattery our first title, and try e-publishing. We would have complete editorial and aesthetic control and the book would be instantly and globally available.

SFOF brings together a handful of some of the most exciting voices we know, honouring some of the most terrific voices literature has ever known. It will be the first title of O&S Publishing and it is coming this year.

Get ready for a seriously good read.

Sincere Forms of Flattery will be available for download on June 3rd, 2013 for $7.99. If you would like to pre-order your copy, at the discounted rate of $5.99, please email sfoforders@gmail.com with your name, email address and what e-reading device you use by June 2nd and we will contact you with the next (extremely uncomplicated) steps. 

I’m so excited to share this fab, fab read with you all.

My Son

My son

I’m sitting up, in bed at hospital, looking at my husband sleeping to my left, and I’m smiling.

My husband’s arms are thrown upwards, escaping the sheets, wrapped around his head. He’s in a deep sleep and his handsome face is full of peace.

It’s the exact same image I was greeted with only half an hour earlier when I went to feed my son.

My son.

My beautiful, peaceful, joyful son.

Two days ago, our little man entered the world, and life changed. I’ve never loved anything so much, so quickly, with so much intensity. And, as each hour passes, I can’t believe how much further in love I fall. How much more my heart swells. How much stronger I grow. I’m in awe of him.

A friend sent me a text message tonight and wrote that despite my ability for writing, and my husband’s talent in music, our son was most certainly the best thing we’ve ever produced. And I can’t help but agree.

He’s the product of almost twelve years of love, laughter and friendship. Staring at him, I almost don’t believe he’s real. But then I see my husband’s expression across his face, and I know he is. I see my nephew in him, my brother, myself. And I realise that he’s more than real; he’s ours and we made him.

And I get lost for words. I lose myself in his face.

My son.

Our son.

The best thing we’ve ever produced.

I’m besotted.

Wisdom of the Ages

Wisdom

I was thrilled to be invited to speak at Wisdom of the Ages, an event organised by Tina Jensen to be held at Hub Melbourne this Friday the 8th of March, to coincide with International Women’s Day.

I’ll be reading a letter, sharing a story, to my 18 year old self – “If I knew then what I know now…”

All are welcome and you can find further details and ticketing information by clicking this link.

Image © Sandi Sieger

Oh, looksy, it’s me!

I’m very, very thrilled to announce some exciting news… I’ve got a new writing gig and it’s with a company and publication I admire and respect greatly; Forbes.

As of, oh, well, now, I can add Forbes Travel Guide Correspondent to my bio. And I couldn’t be more excited.

I’ll be writing about (one of) my favourite cities in the world, Melbourne. Blogging, answering questions and providing expert advice.

You can view my profile here.

Sandi Sieger, Startle/Forbes Expert, Travel Correspondent

Wonderful Weekends

It wouldn’t be a wonderful weekend without this guy…

I love a good weekend.

And for quite a while now, they’re the only kind I’ve been enjoying.

Ever since I decided to shut the laptop and switch the smartphone to silent come Friday night, I’ve enjoyed weekends more than ever.

I’ve discovered that I’m more productive from Monday to Friday after two work free days; I’m more motivated and more refreshed when it’s time to get stuck back into it.

I’ve realised that no matter how much you love something – writing, social media, Internet surfing – that a little break each week results in a much less stressed, more content working week. And so that’s how I treat my weekends, as treats. That I’ve earned. And don’t need to feel guilty about. The biggest thing I’ve learnt is that if you can’t finish your work in five days of the week, you’re either incredibly overloaded or incredibly ineffective.

Belgrave’s End of the Line Festival, featuring a sneaky snap of Des the Wizard.

This weekend started – after morning chats in bed with Kaz – by popping into the Selby Fire Brigade Fair, followed by breakfast at the Kallista Tea Rooms, then some sunshine-filled meandering around our local Belgrave where the End of the Line Festival was in full swing. After ducking off to my new hairdresser for a much needed trim, I spent some time sitting on the deck, reading the papers, soaking in some sunshine. A spontaneous decision to head to the pools resulted in some refreshing splish, splosh, splashing. Then it was back home for a BBQ and creating some tasty Japanese dishes using my Saori Sauces I picked up that morning at End of the Line. Saturday night was spent relaxing, reading, catching up with the in-laws (and catching up on some much needed zzzzzs).

Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

On Sunday, after a French toast and berry compote breakfast feast, Kaz and I headed to Fitzroy to prepare for the All India Radio ‘Red Shadow Landing’ album launch. Kaz has been playing with the band for a few years and their ambient rock music is truly exceptional. And by preparing I mean that Kaz was unpacking the car and setting up for sound check, and I was wandering the streets and window shopping.

All India Radio ‘Red Shadow Landing’ Album Launch.
The best plate I’ve ever seen.

I murdered some lunch at The Workers Club whilst chatting with the lovely guys from the band, then enjoyed the gig. That was followed by dinner at Little Creatures Dining Hall with friends, where this small feast was devoured:

Hand-cut chips and hummus with flat bread.
Rocket, beetroot, feta, broad-bean and walnut salad.
Prawn and prosciutto + potato pizza.
Cinnamon doughnuts.

And so, a full and fun weekend, that was also relaxing, resulted in these two happy faces:

The Siegers.

And I think that says it all.

Mistaking Motion for Action

The other day, I read this blog post from my dear friend, Faustina. Currently in LA, Faustina is stumbling upon some life lessons that are making me nod my head and ‘ah’ in agreement:

One thing that I’ve become far more aware of, particularly in the last couple of months, is that lessons in life will keep on presenting themselves to you until you learn and understand them wholly. The lesson I’ve consistently been presented with is to stop rushing aspects of my life when making transition.

That paragraph sums up the last few months of life, for me. There are lessons, and thoughts, and feelings that keep on presenting themselves; sometimes weekly, sometimes daily, that make me think, ‘Ah, I’m back here again.’ Thoughts and feelings and lessons in waiting that I cannot shake, that keep peeking around and popping up in so many aspects of my life.

Then I read this, and it made so much sense I felt it with every fibre of my being:

When I wake up in the morning I think about what I feel like doing that day. Not just what I should – cause then the list goes for days. And then the pressure sets in.

We hardly ever give ourselves enough credit to follow what it is we want to do.

Granted, there’s things we should and need to do, but if we fail to put the want into our day, we’re just cheating ourselves.

And sometimes, we needn’t worry about what we should do. Some days we should pack the car, go for a drive, hit the beach or the mountain and breathe, or, go wherever it is we feel like going and do whatever it is we feel like doing.

I’ve been following my gut feeling over the past few months and it has lead to some discoveries and realisations. As well as some of the most relaxing and fulfilling moments of my life.

I’m sick of the should-dos. And the can-dos. The up-and-gos. And the to-dos.

I’m sick of rushing.

I know too many people who are too busy getting very little done. There’s been some great work written on busy lately, of which I entirely agree, and I say that as a person who’s spent the best part of her twenties being busy – and fulfilled, and happy, and full of life.

I still want to be fulfilled and happy and full of life, but I recognise that in order to do so you don’t need to be busy. We are constantly bombarded with messages of ‘life is short’, ‘make every day count’, ‘live each moment like it’s your last’, but the reality is, for most people, life is long, full of many days and moments, and I feel like all this ‘make every moment count’ hoo haa is just another way for, as Faustina says, ‘the pressure to set in’.

We’re so obsessed with making each moment count, we try to have multiple moments in one. We’re no longer satisfied with one thing at a time. We’re no longer satisfied by simple moments.

Social media, for all its brilliance and blessings, has allowed us to develop a behaviour where we feel as though we can’t miss a moment, so we need to be plugged in and switched on all the time, but not only that; we also can’t miss out on the opportunity to capture a moment. Our computers and laptops and smartphones, gadgets that bing and ding and ring and ping, are pulling us from the very moments we’re supposed to be enjoying because we’re so afraid we’re not capturing it all, or, that there’s something going on that’s more important or interesting than what we’re currently doing.

We can no longer watch a TV program without vomiting opinions about it – in real time – online. We can no longer watch a movie at the theatre without a screen lit up in our palm (I’m about one movie away from picking up someone’s phone and throwing it). We can no longer capture a beautiful view in our minds, we need to Facebook and Instagram and Twitpic it.

The constant need to share has started to make me a little ill. I actually don’t want everyone to know what I’m doing, all the time. And I don’t really want to know what other people are doing all the time, too.

I don’t want to have conversations with people that are multi-tasking. I expect undivided attention.

I stopped using Foursquare weeks ago, because I realised I didn’t want people to know where I was enjoying a coffee, and it’s become more and more apparent that I care less and less about where other people are having one too.

I love gaining insights into people’s lives via social media, I love the banter, the humour, the connections and the links sharing great writing. I don’t love the negativity. I don’t love the opinions – particularly those that are degrading or rude or judgemental. I don’t love the links sharing bad writing.

So I use social media in my own way now, in a way that suits me. That means taking in 10% of what’s going on, sharing 15% and using the other 75% in more positive and productive areas of my life.

I don’t run to social media first thing in the morning anymore, or last thing at night. I switched off my notifications. My phone rarely pings and dings and bings anymore. I only answer calls if it suits me to answer them. Ditto emails. I check social media when I want to (some days, I forget to check it at all – it’s surprising how quick and easy it’s been to detach). I find myself enjoying social media more, when I do use it, because I’m using it less. I find myself less affected by people’s opinions and negativity. I find time to read more good quality blogs, online magazines and newspapers. I still connect with people. Online and offline. And I’m getting more done. I read more. Yes, books.

I’ve written about the farce that is multi-tasking before, and I kind of feel that way about online activity now – not that it’s a farce, but that you can spend a day flicking between websites and social media profiles, feeling busy and rushed, but achieving very little.

When online activity started to make me feel rushed and pressured, when I started to feel like I had to have something to say, and share things in my day, that’s when I decided to change my approach.

Life may be full of moments, but I don’t think each and every one of them has to count. I’m reminded of a quote from one of my favourite films, The Age of Innocence, when Newland Archer played by Daniel Day Lewis, replies to a question of how he’s going to spend his day, by saying, “I’m going to find a way to save my day, rather than spend it.”

That, I believe, is what we should focus on. Not the ways to make each moment count, as though the more we do, the more we have to accumulate, thus making our lives more worthy, but rather, focusing on how to save and cherish moments, acknowledging that sometimes, whittling away the hours doing sweet nothing is far more meaningful than rushing in the pursuit of something.