Do the thing.


Dear Self,

I woke up this morning and decided to do something different.

For a long time now, I have been frustrated with how much money I spend at supermarkets that are part of massive, ethically dubious companies.

I promise myself that I will try an alternative, but I always find myself back in the capital S ‘Supermarkets’.


When I really think about this I don’t like the answer I get.

The truth is that I like how calm and ordered they are. I like how, most of the time, I don’t really have to talk to anyone. I like how few choices I have to make.

On visits to Preston Markets, which is the kind of place I would rather imagine myself shopping, I have felt overwhelmed. How do I know who to buy cauliflower from? I mean there are at least 7 different shops selling it, how would I pick? And the people, so many people awkwardly moving past each other and getting in each other’s way. And then the conversations with the deli staff I have to have to get my filo pastry…

I have found myself deeply resistant to engaging with all these things. And that really sucks. Because I know I want to spend my money and my time in a place like the Preston Markets.

Last night, at Campfire, I set an intention for myself, something special I wanted to happen for all of us as a result of being together. I decided I wanted to welcome everyone, to remind them that they belong, but more than that…I wanted to invite everyone to welcome each other. To reach a little beyond what they might otherwise have done and help someone else feel welcomed by connecting with them in some way.

This seemed to really work. I watched that little barrier that we can put up at times get lowered. I saw people taking care of each other simply by connecting.

At the end of Campfire someone came and spoke to me and told me how excited they were that someone else had shared some of their paintings…they told me that it reminded them of a thing they always did with their sister, how they wanted to do that thing…and also how they used to play an instrument and how they felt inspired to pick it up again. We chatted about that space between the thing we want and doing the thing we want. The little habits we have that get in the way. And how in the end you just have to ‘do the thing!’.

And so, this morning when I was about to head to the ‘Supermarket’ I decided to do the thing. To go to the Preston Markets and grab the couple of things I needed. Even though it was more complex than the alternative, it was the thing I wanted. So, the complexity was worth it.

On the way there I had a thought. What if I approached this in the same way I would encourage someone to perform at Campfire? What would that look like?

For me that would mean I would lower the bar.

I decided I didn’t have to actually shop at the markets. I would just go there and get to know the place a bit better. Have a walk around and understand how it all worked.

I have to say this went very, very well.

I arrived and found that on a Sunday morning it is all reasonably calm.

I walked around and found not as many of the fruit and veg shops were open.

I walked through all of the ones that were and got a feel for the different places. They are all quite different in their tone, they seem to specialise in a particular thing.

I checked out the price of cauliflower at all of them.

Then I went and found a deli I had been to once before, walked past and got a feel for if I liked the look of it.

Then I went and did some shopping. I bought more than I thought I would (but not too much), even found a bakery for some bread. At the end of it all there were a couple of things I couldn’t find – so I went to the Supermarket and got them.

As a result, I spent 90% of my money at small businesses. That’s the thing I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

When I went into the big S to get the last of the things I realised that these places have been cleverly designed to wean me off interacting with staff, designed to make it easier and easier to grab things I don't really need.

Which is why I had to really consciously choose another path. One that feels better on all levels…but that takes a little effort and even a little discomfort.

Maybe some of the people at Campfire last night had this little moment when I invited them to welcome each other, I imagine someone did. Because we have been trained, largely by our choice to use social media in the way we do, to avoid actual contact with people.

I hope that what it looked like happened is actually what happened. That welcoming each other opened the door for each of the people at Campfire to feel welcomed.

Because then everyone who decided to come along, even though there were a million reasons why ‘staying at home’ was easier, did the thing.

And when I did the thing…it felt great. So, maybe, doing the thing felt great for them too.



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Day 1,153

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Defensive, awkward and hurt.

Defensive, awkward and hurt. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Defensive, awkward and hurt. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I am uncomfortable with someone seeing me in a way that doesn’t, in my opinion, represent my values and who I hope to be in the world.

I feel defensive and awkward and hurt.

It feels unjust.


It is, I can see, part of the deal. One of the ‘costs’ of doing things in the world. Of being out in public trying to make things happen.

It shouldn’t surprise me.

A person’s interpretation of something or someone is always made through the lens of their experiences in the world. None of us are ever really ‘neutral’.

Knowing all of this, somehow doesn’t make it feel better.

Truth is I just want everyone to like me.

And that is unrealistic, unlikely and unhealthy.

My job is to act in ways that align with my values and to like myself.

The rest is noise.



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Day 1,139

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Money is a strange thing.

Money is a strange thing. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Money is a strange thing. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

What is something worth?

Money is such a strange thing.

It’s this made up idea. This agreement we all have to represent value in an abstract way. Which is even weirder now that we hand that value over to banks as a series of 000000’s and 111111’s.

It is ‘make believe’, on one level, but very real on another.

Particularly if you don't have any of this fantasy to pay for things like food and shelter.

Getting caught up in money is far too easy. Dreaming about all the things money could do. Wishing I had more. Hungering after this virtual nothingness…

But it doesn’t represent what’s really important. (Particularly after I have enough to pay my bills and eat and all that).

People are what matter.

Relationships, connection and community.

Money is important, but only so important.

The people in my life are important. Really important.



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Day 1,101

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Epic. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Epic. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I saw a dance piece last night called Colossus. Choreographed by Stephanie Lake as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival at The Arts Centre.

It was epic.

50 dancers on stage. Pulsing, throbbing, flocking. Unison and chaos.

En masse like that, the human form transforms itself. It suddenly becomes alien, or rather, it reveals itself as animal.

The work is a beautiful reflection of this moment. The joy and terrifying power of humans forming and breaking apart and reforming in tribes. Both live and virtually.

Most of the work reflected the magic that people create through intense cooperation. At one moment the group turns on one of its own. Singles them out.

Victim and hoard.

It was chilling. Frighteningly real. It triggered my experiences of having groups of people turn on me. It reminded me of how vulnerable I am to being abandoned by my village. How the invisible threads of support and trust keep each of us safe. For a moment I was that isolated human under attack. It was extremely uncomfortable.

Eventually this lone figure is delicately folded back into the group. This confused me. I accepted it, it seemed real…but is that it? Is there no retribution for the mass hysteria? No self-reflection from the group on its irrational seething anger? Why is their violence unpunished?

It was like the fog of irrational hatred cleared and it never happened.

It’s not right. How can they get away with this?

It may not be right...but it is sadly accurate. The victim gets chewed up and spat out on our social platforms…and then rapidly forgotten. We don’t see our own behaviour, our own hysteria, as part of the problem. It just happens for a moment and then it is gone. Like it never happened. The entertainment of it all finished so we move on, absolved of any responsibility for it all. The victim lucky if they are embraced back into the community.

These reflections are intensely uncomfortable. I don’t like how they make me feel. Don’t like that I see that I am a part of all that.

I much prefer the feeling I had when I watched the group in complex and profound cooperation. Which is where they were for the majority of the performance.

It was like watching a scene from a nature documentary. Calming. The natural world in harmony.

Colossus did that thing where performance morphs beyond entertainment into sense making. It helped me see something about myself and the worlds I inhabit.

Even though I was unsettled by some of what it had to say I am pleased that I live in a culture that gave space for this voice.

I feel richer this morning for that experience.




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Day 1,026

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Where do I look?

Where do I look? Drawing Luke Hockley.

Where do I look? Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

The world is awash with conversations about people and things that I cannot control.

Outrage, chest thumbing, desk whacking, foot stamping.

I’m tempted to join in.

It all makes me so angry.

It is galling. Unjust. Offensive. Dangerous.

It is wrong.

But it is also well outside of my control. Well outside my country even. Outside the politics I can influence.

Joining the chorus just fuels the global circus.

There is plenty to look at in my own back yard. Plenty of things to be outraged about. Plenty of behaviours that need to change in my own politicians. Plenty of injustice. Plenty of offensive and reckless behaviour.

And I get a vote here.

I get to call my local member and have some influence.

Me and my friends have a voice here.

So, where am I going to look?



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Day 952

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A man can’t possibly settle a crying baby.

A man can't possibly settle a crying baby. Drawing Luke Hockley.

A man can't possibly settle a crying baby. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

The other day I was having dinner with lots of people and I looked up and noticed that a friend of mine was sitting at a table with a plate full of food, completely untouched…because she was holding her baby. She was waiting for her partner to finish eating so they could do a hand over.

I’d just finished eating so went over and offered to help out.

My friends were so grateful.

The little one was grizzly and grumpy (which is why they were being held in the first place), but we knew each other reasonably well. So, I hung out within arm’s reach of Mum and Dad and did my best to keep things on the down low.

The room was too noisy for really getting settled, and I was a poor substitute for Mum or Dad…but we struggled along as the parents gratefully shovelled food, coaching me all the while on how to move the baby closer to sleeping or at least resting quietly.

I really needed to go out into the hall into the quiet, I knew that, but didn’t quite have the confidence, didn’t think it was the right move to leave the parent’s side…

Then, out of nowhere, a woman came over and offered to take the baby and settle her. I was very taken aback, and, after a quick check with the parents (that they were ok with the hand over) did as I was bade and handed the baby over and left.

I was very put out by this.

Very, very put out.

This woman, unlike me, hardly knew these parents or this baby.

I don’t know what it is like to be female and have a man ‘assume’ I don’t know anything about an engine or mathematics or politics or money or…like, whatever, but I am guessing the feelings I had fall into the same category.

It seemed to me that this woman saw me as a man who was incapable of settling a baby…because I was a man.

As far as I was concerned I was failing gloriously. I’ve had quite a bit of experience nursing babies, I had both parents at hand and there was no danger for the baby. nI was learning how to have a conversation with an infant, listening to their needs and trying to work out how to meet them.

It felt uncomfortable, beautiful, awkward and deeply selfless. It felt like an opportunity to learn about being a human…one that was lost to me because someone decided that I couldn’t possibly work this puzzle out.

Now, for the caveats.

I have no idea what motivated this woman to want to take over.

I suspect she had no thoughts whatsoever about my gender, perhaps she was missing her own children (if she had them) or maybe she wanted children (if she didn’t), or maybe she was a professional child carer, or maybe she thought I wanted to be ‘saved’ (which I didn’t) or maybe a million other things…but it doesn’t really matter, my experience was that of being undermined because of my gender – and I didn’t like it one bit!

And it is certainly a stereotype that ‘men’ aren’t the ones who ‘care for babies’. So, on some level this idea was likely to be influencing the situation in some way.

What’s really remarkable about this is just how rare it is for me to feel like this. I can count on one hand the number of times I feel that someone has assumed I am unable to do something because of my gender (like the time my year 10 sewing teacher accused me of getting my mum to make a pair of shorts and a t-shirt that I had made, because I couldn’t possibly be able to sew such a complex thing from scratch when everyone else was trying to sew a straight line and get their sewing machine licence!).

Which goes to show how much of an ‘easy ride’ we men are having every day. And most men aren’t doing things that challenge the gender norms they are bought up with, so they are even less likely to experience this feeling.

My female friends tell me this experience is far from rare for them. If anything, it is what happens to them every day.

Every. Single. Day.

Possibly many times a day.


This is completely unacceptable.

Totally. Outrageous.

It makes me feel angry and frustrated and all messed up.

So, what do I do with all this…feeling?

I know that I want to avoid feeling like ‘I’m not good enough’ to do something.

Which means I’m likely to avoid putting myself in situations where I am publicly doing something that isn’t considered ‘normal’ for my gender.

Which means…I’m actually going to seek out opportunities to do exactly the opposite.

And then, if and when I have this feeling again, I’m going to do my best to kindly and generously hold my ground and do the thing anyhow.

And then, afterwards I’m going to sit with this feeling. This outrage and injustice. This sense of inequity. I’m going to hold it, be uncomfortable and know that people who identify as female are experiencing this feeling all the time which is simply not good enough.

And then I’m going to look for as many situations as I can to catch when I, or the men around me, say or do something that limits a person’s experience of the world based on their gender.

And then I will say something. I’ll apologise for my lack of self-awareness and insensitivity...or I’ll point out to someone else what they have just done, let them know that it’s an easy mistake to make and an even easier one to fix…

And I’ll assume that they, like me, want to fix it.

And I’ll expect them to fix it.

Because it is damaging to us all when we enforce these ridiculous gender stereotypes.

I’ll expect them to fix it because the baby I was holding was a little girl and I want her to be to grow up in a world that has sorted this stuff out.

I don’t want her to watch the news and not see any women playing sport, I don’t want her to buy her first car and have some guy talk to her like she is an idiot, I don’t want her to be paid less or have less opportunities or feel in any way less entitled purely because of her gender.

And I certainly don’t want her thinking that a man couldn’t possibly settle a crying baby.

I feel sad to know that I am probably reinforcing gender stereotypes without even knowing that I am.

Change is always a bit uncomfortable.

A bit of discomfort is much better than things staying the way they are.

The ‘way things are’ isn’t ‘uncomfortable’, it’s damaging.

Damaging each other is way worse than being uncomfortable.

Way worse.



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Day 917

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Obnoxious, offensive and unacceptable.

Obnoxious, offensive and unacceptable. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Obnoxious, offensive and unacceptable. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self  

Yesterday at the football...(What? Football! Hang on...I can explain, oh whatever...)...a very unlikeable man was sitting behind us. 

He had an incredible vocal ability. He could amplify his voice to such a level that it got serious cut through. He was impossible to ignore.  

Thing is, the way he barracked for his team was just plain bad sports-person-ship. He was really into abusing the other team and not above abusing his own team members, in fact he seemed to enjoy this as much as he did celebrating their wins. 

All of this made him obnoxious, unlikeable, unpleasant.  

But we're at the football.  

He was worst than most...but there isn't much of a case for asking him to be quiet or change his behaviour (even though everyone around him desperately wanted him to stop ruining the game...)'s the football!

I sat there waiting for him to yell something racist, sexist or homophobic out...

I'd decided that was my line. I was prepared to stand up and tell him that he could barrack however he wanted, be loud and obnoxious, but it was not acceptable for him to say racist, sexist or homophobic things. Full stop. 

And he didn't.  

We moved seats, a few rows behind him, so that he wasn't blasting his dribble in our ears.  

At half time something disturbing happened.  

It seems that he was there with family and friends. A few adults to his right, two 10 year old girls to his left and two young adult men in the row behind him.

At half time he turned to these two young men, who had just come back from getting a drink, and said to them:

"What have you two fellas been up to? Raping and pillaging? Having your way with the ladies?"

Both young guys said very little. I'm pretty sure they were embarrassed by his behaviour in general.

It was gross.

I was very uncomfortable and said...nothing. 

You see, he wasn't yelling it out for the world to hear. It was a semi-private conversation that I was over hearing. It felt like if I said something that he could be rightly angry with me for eavesdropping.  

Excuses, excuses...I think this is the classic thing that men do to excuse themselves from saying the thing they know they want to say but don't feel confident enough to say. 

Did I feel safe enough to say something? Maybe. Probably. But I'm a little unsure about that. I think public humiliation would be pretty high on this fella's triggers. I don't really know what he would have done. And I genuinely didn't feel justified in saying anything because I was "listening in". 

It's all so confusing.  

Did I let the team down or did I just keep myself safe? 

How's this kind of crap going to stop if no one says anything? 

Does getting my head punched in really help the situation? 

More questions than answers on this one.  


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Day 888

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It’s a very Bitcoin Christmas.

It's a very Bitcoin Christmas. Drawing Luke Hockley.

It's a very Bitcoin Christmas. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I have this palpable sense that I am about to miss out on something. It feels like a rising anticipation and anxiety in my stomach.

It feels like a game that others are playing that I could play too.

It’s gambling, I’m clear about that.

But gambling on what?

In the short and long term that gamble is different.

Short term I would be gambling that others will get super excited about the game and invest their money and that I can then pull my money out before the things has a ‘correction’.

Long term I would be gambling that it is a ‘correction’ and not an all-mighty-house-of-cards collapse and that cryptocurrency becomes a genuine alternative to ‘money’ as we know it.

Long term the idea, as I understand it, is to be able to use cryptocurrency in the same way we use every day currency. To buy your bread and milk and the like. Then the banks will have less control over the way things are done.

Banks are pretty rotten. They have too much control, it is very tempting to want to be involved in something that disrupts the financial system as it is.

The problem is that it is not really clear to me who exactly is in charge of this new world and what they plan to do with it in the future.

Is it a global scam?

Even if it is not a scam what are the people who thought it all up really planning?

You see Governments and banks and regulations…well as bad as it all is at least I get to vote for the government that is controlling those regulations. And, in the past, there has been some very good things that have happened as a result of the financial market being regulated.

One thing for certain…there is going to be a lot of Bitcoin conversations this Christmas around the dinner table and that is only going to fuel the cryptocurrency hysteria…that doesn’t feel good.

It doesn’t really feel good at all.


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A union of 2 people.

A union of two people. Drawing Luke Hockley.

A union of two people. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I grew up knowing something was wrong with me.

I was sick.




I learnt very early on that how I felt couldn’t be trusted. That my desires had to be suppressed.

Before I knew anything about who I loved, or what loving someone really meant, the people around me worked hard to help me understand that what I was, was unacceptable to the world I lived in.

They knew they were right because everyone knew they were right.

Even the law agreed.

And then the law changed.

I remember being at a friend’s wedding and hearing that statement that was legally required to be read at their marriage ceremony.

“Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

I was hurt by it. I have to admit that. I was hurt that my friends would agree to marry when the very act of getting married was condoning this discrimination that was embed in the law of our country.

I don’t blame them. Everyone was doing it. It is how it has always been. I’d never really thought about it before that moment. But when I heard that statement read out loud to a large gathering of loving people and we all just had to accept that is just how it is…I felt affronted. Like a second-class citizen.

Today that changed.

From today onwards when 2 people decide to get married the celebrant will say…

“Marriage means a union of 2 people, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

Something feels different now. I’m relieved.

This feels like an important step in reclaiming myself as normal, natural, loving and accepted.



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Group survival kit.

Group survival kit. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Group survival kit. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I like my groups to be filled with both men and women, I like them to have clearly defined boundaries and I like them to have a clear leader.

Last night I found myself in a group of men who are meeting with boundaries that (to me) are still being defined and that is led by the group (everyone is the leader rather than one individual holding that role).

In these situations I am holding myself together with bailing twine and paper clips.

I tend to take over. If something happens that makes me feel unsafe in a group then I tend to take default to the facilitator role in order to make myself feel safe.

This year I have really been looking at this behavior. I see it as a strength, of course, sometimes groups need the clarity that I can bring. But sometimes, if someone else is leading or if the group has decided there is no leader and I have chosen to come along knowing that, it is isn’t appropriate for me to do that.

This is when I feel incredibly unsafe.

At these moments I am really left out on a limb naked.

I’ve realised this is so confronting for me because what it requires is that I express how I am feeling as a member of the group and that I then make myself vulnerable to the group because they can decide whether they help meet my need to be safe, or not.

Last night I did a good job of expressing how I felt rather than taking over the group.

That was a big step for me.

I’m very pleased I was able to do it.

Let’s call that progress.



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