Being Me, Blogging Me (A-Z)

“But enough about me, let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”

— Bette Midler as CC Bloom in Beaches, 1988

I’ve been blogging for 10.5 weeks. 74 days, baby! Yeah!  Petal & Mortar is my new favourite place to be, but I’m still not sure if I love my theme. Let’s just call it a work in progress. I don’t know if it’s ‘me’. I worry that my organisation into categories and pages is bordering on the anal/compulsive (too much me!). I’ll work on that, too. No, maybe not. I like organisation, dammit.

Blogging has given me such a great outlet, and a chance to craft a new persona. A hybrid public-private avatar. As an expat, I’m used to sharing my ‘creation’ story. I’ve honed it to a witty blurb (I’m terribly cosmopolitan in my head, with perfect eyebrows and nails). What no one tells you is that it becomes exhausting re-telling the story. You just want people around you who know the story. Who get the story. Who remember all the versions of ‘you’.

I’d say the ‘real me’ started developing about 21 years ago, when I left home to finish high school in the States, and grew my first solid friendships. Five years later, I was growing my clan in Iceland, and it was from this group of friends that I chose the legal guardian for my daughter, should both husband-person & I pop our clogs simultaneously. A. knows all the versions of ‘me’. She could tell baby girl my stories if I couldn’t. 

But then this got me wondering about how people see me? How do my readers see me? What do I share that creates ‘me’ without the sound effect of my laughter (dirty chipmunk), the visual of my random dancing with jazz hands, the rapid gesticulation when I talk? There was a fleeting thought about a quick poll on SurveyMonkey (I said fleeting, I can corral the crazy!).

And then last night, I was helping my daughter out of the shower when she stilled my towelling, held my chin with her hand, looked deep into my eyes and apropos of nothing (I swear!) said, “You’re a nutjob, but you’re perfect.”

Hear that, world? I’m mad & I’m perfect. One or the other, one and the other. Perfectly nutty, that’s me.

It’s Too Big!

Get your mind above the waistline, dear reader. I’m referring to goals and dreams. I was working with a fellow participant in the #MFM2015 challenge, and we were trying to break through the barriers most humans seem to impose upon themselves on the path to success.

I’ve discovered that pushing through the not-knowing, the messing-up, the plans-not-panning-out is a growth experience, whether it ends in success or failure. It will change your perspective for the better and give you skills & wisdom that you can use in your next adventure!


Your thoughts & beliefs can be the biggest obstacle to overcome. Many of us carry around beliefs about ourselves that need to be removed or improved. If you believe you can’t, you probably won’t even try. Start by recognising your negative mindset and taking action to overcome it. Time and persistence are key to eradicating these beliefs.  A one-percent improvement isn’t note-worthy (or even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run, when you factor in the compounded effect of a thousand small adjustments and corrections. There is power in small wins and slow gains. This will help you accept the fact that no matter how well you plan, and think through, your plans will never work out quite the way you expect! Be flexible and allow your plans to evolve. You never know what might happen!


Making one HUGE step can mean having to sit back and wait to see if it worked or not. This makes the action more of a gamble and less of a consistent step in the right direction. Small actions built on another (called habit stacking) can lead to a big win further down the line. Compound effect again.

there’s no such thing as a “perfect” moment  

You’ll never see a perfect set of circumstances that allow you to leave your job/start exercising/change your diet/etc. etc. without stepping outside your comfort zone. Action is always better than inaction, and perfection is the enemy of progress. Pull a Nike and Just Do It.


Even if you’re raring to go, it’s going to mean little without the right people supporting it. Hold yourself accountable, and get someone else to support this. It doesn’t matter if it’s friends, family or a life coach. Without someone holding you accountable, your goal could vanish into the mist when the going gets tough.


Some people choose to let failure get the better of them and abandon their goals or dreams, but the truly resilient accept and understand that failure is perfectly OK, sometimes unavoidable and usually a great opportunity to learn & grow. If you keep this front and centre, it’s easier to accept failure and move on with a clearer vision.


Millions of people set goals every day, but not all of them follow through, or give up when the situation becomes challenging. Persistence & heart are the keys to achieving your target. When the doubts pile up, when you’re hesitant, and when you’ve lost the initial spark, persisting is the only way to see your ideas through to fruition. Focus on how you’re going to feel when you make it. Have faith in your own abilities to keep you moving forward even when you face massive obstacles along the way.

Stay in balance

When you’re aiming for something, it’s easy to be totally consumed by it, but this momentum is difficult to sustain. I’m trying to eat healthier, but I have never been able to stay on any diet longer than 3 hours (the time between breakfast and lunch). So my new take on this is Monday to Friday healthy cooking for the family, and I allow myself goodies on the weekend. No, I don’t go overboard, I just revel in the fact that I don’t have to cook and can even try something new.

To maintain balance, reflect on why you set the goal initially. You control how you achieve this goal, so be purposeful about maintaining balance on your journey. There will always be challenges to overcome but they are part of the fun when you can compartmentalise them. Keep climbing that mountain, but stop to enjoy the view!


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Back to Basics, or recovering from PTSD

When every day is a dance between hypervigilance, constant alertness, feeling jumpy, irritation & insomnia, committing to the basics and mastering the fundamentals of recovery can be hard. 

#panic #anxiety #PTSD

Nine years on, I still wait for the watershed that I believe is coming, that magical moment when I will be healed and whole. But it’s the hidden power of small choices, daily habits, and repeated actions that I make on a daily basis that are going to take me through to a new normal. 

I have to stop wasting hours of my life wondering about the ‘edge cases’. Edge cases are the what-ifs, the could-bes, the minor details — the things that have a 2 percent chance of happening, but mostly distract me from the real life I could be living the rest of the time. Keen eye for detail or inability to filter & block? 

I’ve become an obsessive planner, from someone that used to fly by the seat of my pants. I’m always trying to “get all my ducks in a row” or figure out “the right way to do this”, which gives me an easy ‘out’ of the hard decisions. Research & planning is only useful until it becomes a form of procrastination, or worst case, totally cripples you from taking any action. I used to be a doer rather than a researcher; I still bake like this, going on feel and sight rather than a recipe. I need to bring this back into the rest of my life. I don’t need any more time or better strategies. I’m good to go. Starting this blog was the first impulsive decision I’ve made in ages, and it was liberating.

Moving on, I need to do the real work and master the basics of figuring out and managing my triggers, minimising their impact on my life. Eventually, hopefully, shaking their hold on my life. It’s hard to say, “I’m focusing on the basics, but I haven’t made much progress yet.” A one-percent improvement isn’t note-worthy (or even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run, when you factor in the compounded effect of a thousand small adjustments and corrections. There is power in small wins and slow gains. I intend to own it.

Read the start of my journey here. Sign up on the right to read more Random Musings from Petal & Mortar!

The Balance of Risk & Return in team building

I’ve worked with some great wealth managers over the years. Everything I know about building portfolios, I learned from them. I realised that a lot of considerations one should take into account when building a portfolio are the same when a leader is building a team.

When building a portfolio for long-term investment, there are investment styles that fit your attitude to risk and allow you to meet your goals with a high probability for success. Similarly, there is a ‘magic’ combination of personalities that will work well together, perform under pressure & take your company/brand to new heights. There are a few other factors which contribute to the success of both, which I discuss below.

The ‘perfect’ portfolio is one which keeps you on target to achieve your goals without abandoning your strategy at the worst possible times (market volatility). It is prepared for all potential economic environments, but committed to none. Similarly, a solid team is clear on its goals and where its energy should be directed. Communication (in all its forms) is key: it builds on the premise of honesty & transparency, especially across diverse teams. 

Every team member should be clear why they are part of the team & what they are expected to contribute, based on their skill set & area of expertise. Your team needs creatives, strategisers, networkers & planners. In the same way, if you are investing, you should be clear on why you are picking a particular investment and what part you expect it to play in your overall wealth strategy.  

Use periodic rebalancing to take advantage of ‘reversion to the mean‘. Rebalancing your portfolio allows you to benefit from volatility and contrarianism in the market: you sell some shares of the winners and plough the gains into the lower performers and/or put new cash into investments that earned lower returns.

The same tactic applied to business allows you to consider new additions to your team. What perspective could your administrative assistant offer? If (s)he’s dealing with your clients & customers on a daily basis, you might get some great insights and ideas. If you have a high performing team member, could you assign them to lead a new team? This will set them on a new learning curve and keep them engaged.

In essence, the key to a good portfolio & a good team is the balance of diverse but complementary elements, active management, a clear vision & concise communication. 

Give Your Idea Life 101

There is a happy place between paralysis by analysis and doing without thinking. In fact, doing without thinking is arguably riskier because you can waste time and money making mistakes which could have been avoided with some good spadework beforehand.

Before you launch your product at the world, start by running through this checklist:

  1. Identify similar offerings & research if they have have struggled commercially. Find out why. Are you about to make the same mistakes?
  2. Will you be competing against a more established company in this space or not? If not, why not? What do they know?
  3. Talk to a knowledgeable adviser about your target audience, distribution channel, or business model. Are there invisible risks?
  4. Map out the process for a single transaction of your product. How will your target audience hear about your product? How will they buy it? How will you handle a problem with the product?
  5. Research the competition. Look at financial statements for companies in your product area. How do they generate revenue? What was their initial outlay? Are you missing an element to compete? Do you have a realistic estimation of what it will take to get to market?
  6. Create a proposition for how you will make money, and describe it to a savvy friend or trusted adviser. Ask them to take your proposition apart! It’s not easy hearing someone poke holes in a long-held vision, but it will help you perfect it.

And then read this incredibly inspiring article about the Shake Shack, which went public today on the New York Stock Exchange!

If you want to read some more, here’s what I’ve got on my Kindle (some are free with my Kindle Unlimited subscription!):