Monday, March 26, 2012

Deco san brings macrobiotic playfulness to harborside Sydney

Deco Nakajima is the Audry Hepburn of Macrobiotic cooking teachers - tiny, lively and loved.
She lives a rural permaculture life with her American photographer husband, and has five, FIVE children.

Anne and Deco Nakajima, with Cecilia

I heard she was in Australia, on tour.
Then suddenly yesterday the family turned up for dinner at my place, here in Sydney.
What a surprise!

I was a bit worn out after running a workshop, but Permacutlure people make the most of what they've got, so the four of us (and a good fridge and good gurilla garden) came up with a lovely dinner.
Ingrediants included millet, sorrel, mushrooms, purple carrot, and dutch cream potatoes with rosemary and smoked salmon, and some greens from the Orange Grove Organic Market.

Here's how it looked:

Oh no, we've already eaten it!

The food gets us all flirting.
Miki the yoga translator from Byron Bay, 
Cecilia the Permacutlure Fairy (why does everybody call me this?) 
Nakajima Deco the macrobiotic legend. 

Alluring ladies, practicing their charms, and the Sydney Harbor bridge. 

Cool Nakajima Titbits

Deco's daughter Anne lives in Bali, and goes to the amazingly beautiful Green School

Deco's son goes to to CLCA at seaside Odawara, where I designed the Permaculture garden and ran workshops

Deco's Farm Brown's Field takes WWOOFers, and they speak English. 
You can go there, grow rice, take deep baths, and sip tea, joyfully. 

She gave me a myoga root, which I have already planted. 
Myoga is one of the reasons I always try to be in Japan in June. 
We really, really have to start an edible Japanese 'doorstep' garden project here in Sydney. 

Good Idea!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday's workshop - Refining your profile, not as easy as it looks

Last Sunday's workshop was fun, super-useful, and attended by my favourite kind of people. 
So its on again - This Sunday, Harborside Balmain. Tell your creative mates. 

Who came? 
How did we turn our fuzzy descriptions of self and work into a haiku of deft, persuasive communication?
Lets see... 

 Cast of Characters (left to right)

Laura the graphic designer multi-talented permie, 

Eimear, Music therapist, fiddle-player, chiropractor, and permie-to-be

Rebeca the Naturopath & organic co-op founding permie

Vince the Wordpress website designer and Permie from Singapore

Cecilia the international woman of mystery

and not seen, but heard,
Paul Boundy, monumental Permaculturist of Sydney

Around the corner, Annandale Village, the place for hot cross bus

Roasting bunya nuts, toasting buns, turning fruit into salad

The mission was to refine our descriptions of what we do and who we are, to attract and keep high-quality customers over 2012.

If this was easy, we would all have clear and compelling profiles on our websites.
We don't. 
But with practice, with each others feedback, and with The Matrix, we are on our way.

Here it is, the positioning matrix, developed by Matt Church of thought leaders. 
I first saw it in 'Fast, Flat and Free,' by internet marketing guru, Gihan Perera.

How did we go fitting into the Matrix? 

It was a darn big challenge. 

We found we were not just describing what we do, we were re-defining and re-creating who we are and how we will work in the future. 

Wholistic Healer, co-op creator, and natural Permie, Rebecca,
with a generous bag of tricks including bunya nuts for teatime

Because this is all too confronting to do at once, we tried practicing the model with a 'Lie Boldly' version of our amazing selves and our extravagant achievements.

Here is a fine example, with the categories from the matrix above in their own colours.

All about You:

Your obsession, Category, and history:

"For the last 19 years I've been a pioneer of social Permaculture design, with a mission for helping the over-priviliged create exciting, energising home lives.  Im author of 3 bestsellers, including  'Design power, not willpower' and 'Tantric dishwashing - tango though daily life with Permaculture'

All about your Work:

Uniqueness: why they should choose you and not another, an analogy that clarifies what you do, and a story that illustrates it.

Through years of travel and research, I have lived in the homes of some of our centuries greatest achievers and seen the design 'tricks' these essentially ordinary people use to arrange the support for their astonishing results. Like a skilled chiropractor I can immediately see the whole picture, that while pain might be here, but the problem is way over there. With a small, disarming adjustment, the pressure is taken off, and your life blossoms. After a kitchen and communication 'declutter' session, one client-family went from years of ignoring each other, to raucous shared dinnertimes, 3-5 nights a week.  

All about your Clients: 

Their true purpose in work and life, their pressing problems, and what they can buy from you to solve these problems  (This helps them see that you understand them, and see them in a good light)

My corporate seminars,  home consulting, and how-to guides rely on design-power, not will-power, to help you and your staff and family be the most cared-for selves they can be, with a home that supports and inspires them to go out and make their creative contributions to the world.
 Being the most posh house in the street was, after all, groaningly tedious

There you go! 
Thats' the lying version. 
Now we know how to do it, we just have to write one that could really be us.
Our very best selves.

Please have a go yourself. 
I'd love to get an email of you results, even just your drafts.

Sharing the surplus - Rebecca's whole street had a garage sale that morning. Here the unsold goods are on their way to the op shop, via us.
Everything this lady does has 3 - 5 multiple benefits.
Just by becoming a master wholistic health practitioner, she turned herself into an unwitting social Permaculture virtuoso. 

Completion Day
We will be holding a completion session this coming weekend, in Balmain. 
If you know someone culture-creating who should be there, send them along. 

Back at my Balmain Home, watching the ships go by

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Food Festival March 17 & 18 at Ron & Bev Smith's Amazing Dairy Farm, Wilson's Prom

Ron and Bev Smith raised 11 children on one hundred cows.

Yes, its impossible, but they did it, and had a stream of local farmers visit, imitate, and go organic.

 'Whats up with her"? I asked of one rather droopy cow. 'She is fine!  its that she is 17 years old' said Ron. Then he told me her name - they are all named, their character known, their quirks understood. Conventional cows go to the knackers after 4 years, Ron's cows just keep on going.
"I'm actually a microbe farmer' he admits, as he tells us the tricks using swale, moon, and soil milkshakes, that give him solid-to-the-core' grass.

I remember wandering down medicine lane, the special place for convalescing cows, where his big ladies are let in to browse and self-medicate when sick - they know what they need more than we do, if you give  them the choice.
I could go on and on, but these are just remembered stories, you should go and get the facts yourself. They are magicians of microbes, my favourite farmers in all of Australia. Its like a Disneyland of practical, inspirational Permaculture.

By the way, they have the worst web presence - somebody volunteer to help them. It could be better for you and the world than almost anything else you could do, if you are not currently on a mission of your own.

And this weekend, you can go and meet them. The drive will be worth it.
Even if you live in Darwin!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Even Monkeys fall from Trees - Catastrophe in Sydney

'Even Monkeys fall from Trees' is a Japanese expression, used when experts mess up.

For many months now  I've lived a housesitting life.
Beautiful harborside homes in Sydney's movie-star suburbs, all to myself, all expenses paid.

"How do you do it?' People ask.
"I'm Tarzan" I would grin 
'I just swing from house to house, they just appear a few days before I need them' 
People seem impressed, and I secretly have been marvelling.

The other night, in a storm, I lost my focus, and catastrophe struck.

It was a Dark and Stormy Night

Dark and Stormy night by Matt Duncan

It was the night I moved from a harborside house-sit to another.  

It had been a tough day, full of lone acts of unacknowledged heroism, - working, cooking, listening to the woes of friends, rooftop garden entertaining, all requiring me to perform at my best, mining into my reserves of focus and persistence.
I had packed so many times this last year, I thought it was easy. This time I just heaved the suitcases in, without thinking of retrieval order, just trying my best to dodge the big raindrops, as the thunder rumbled.

I was feeling sorry for myself. 
A dangerous frame of mind.

The storm grew dramatic, the rain turned the roads into rivers. 
I steered my Toyota-ship carefully across the harbour bridge, all by myself. 
Arriving close to midnight at my friend's house, I was so eager for my own safe harbour that I didn't even  reach to the back for an umbrella, let alone attempt to unpack my treasures and expose them to the storm.

I grabbed sleeping essentials: My handbag,  cosmetic bag, and gold-edged china cup for my tea in the morning. 
In I dashed, to the safe hug of my friend Trish.

Not to emerge again until morning.

The calm-after-the-storm morning.

With my cup and saucer in one hand and key in the other,  I strolled out, blinking in the sun, with the sweeping green sea of parkland before me. Which I should do first:  drink tea in the park, or unpack the car?

Then I saw it. 

The window was shattered.
In the back where the suitcases were stacked was an empty space. 

All my treasures were gone.

There was a curious instant of hesitation between seeing what had happened, and when I started screaming. 
My LIFE had gone. 
My past and my future. 

I had left my laptop in the car, for the very first time. 

I had left my backup external drive with all my data,  and the backup of my backup, all my data with the laptop.

All three together for the first and last time. 

All my Permaculture presentations were gone.  
My folders of drawings, scans of these drawings, gone forever.  
Life-changing photos that told stories, from years of  travels and pioneering projects, gone forever. 
Gone before I ever published them, shared them, showed the world their cleverness and inspiration.

Photos and documents that someone was right now deleting, to get a few bucks for the empty electronics. 

I don't know why I screamed, just screamed and screamed like an animal. 

It it turned out to be exactly the right thing to do. 

Yell for help - thats the way we are designed

Without time elapsing, the motherly lady I had seen on other side of the park was here, and hugging me.  Neighbors were coming out to help.

Moomin by Tove Jensen

One moment I felt my life had been sucked out a Jagged hole, and then just moments later somebody warm and boosomy was rocking me and calming me. 
And it worked. I went quiet.

First Cecilia, the creative and glamourous traveling permaculture Cecilia was gone, and I just had to accept it.

Now Second Cecilia could happen.
I would go and marry anybody and have a lovely child and live in the old stationmaster's house in a country town, and lay low till life was done.  
Maybe this robbery will turn out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me.
For the rest of the world this robbery is another burning of the library of Alexandria.  
All that unrepeatable Cecilia-gathered wisdom lost, and I've used up all the years that I could  go and get it again.
Its the world's loss, not mine.

I really did think all that, within the first 4 minutes of being robbed. 
Man,  I'm so naturally positive.
Completely heartbroken, but positive.

Things started coming back, wave upon wave

"There's a case of art materials in my front garden' said one lady

"I saw a pile of documents and clothes, back there' gestured another. 

Couldn't be sadder, but still able to organise a photo op - I'm so interested in my life. 

It was true. 
One by one, treasures started coming back. 
My drawings. My clothes. The spare key to my car. The last four years of diaries.  

The thieves even bothered taking the parking coins from the drink holder, coins that were sitting under where my iPhone had been. A measly bunch of coins! 

After a few hours of believing I had lost my friends and contacts to, something black and square appeared on the floor of the car. 
My iPhone!
Maybe because it includes satellite tracking, its un-stealable. 

The police were kind, but gave me no false hope that my electronics would come back - they almost never do.  
They asked what colour my suitcases were.
"Blue? Oh, it must be the one we saw on roadside, earlier this morning" 
But by the time they went back to look for it, it was gone.

 My pink pyjamas, Irish passport, Japanese eyeliner,
pretty tea towel, Permacutlure pamphlets

The motherly lady had woken up her son, and he wandered out to help me, putting the muddy remains of my life into a box he brought over. 

"I've, um, seen you before" he told me quietly, as he carried my muddy treasures to the empty house.

"Really? Where? "
"At a Permaculture event. You were giving a lecture"
He had seen my final presentation, ever.

There would be no more beautiful Cecilia lectures.   
Most had not ever be delivered in English, and never would be. 

Yet in a world of many, many people,  this randomly-met man had seen one. 

It feels like poetry, when life lines up and starts rhyming like this.

The young man made sure I ate and drank, and did all the other first aid angels are expected to do, when you are picking up bits of your life from the mud. 

How and why did I let this happen?
A very interesting question.
How shall I live from now?
Even more interesting.

I will let you know.

The most important piece of information I did not realise for almost six hours.
In my brothers house is an old, aqua laptop, with bits of plastic falling off it.

I was going to put it in the bin after getting my lovely Apple Mac 18 months ago, and backing everything up, twice.
But I just couldn't get rid of a pile of junk that had once been so precious.

It turns out I had not lost my life's work, just 18 months worth.  And there ARE photos of this lost period on Facebook and my blog.

CS Lewis said that in our heavenly bookselves, we will only find the books we loved enough to share with others.
I wish I had shared more.
And I suspect that from now, I will.
I will make e-books, and find an audience.
I will give my lovely presentations to whoever wants to hear them, and let them get better and better each time.

And I will be calling for help, loudly and awkwardly, but on purpose this time.

Trying to do things by myself is why I got into this strife.

Clever and beautiful: Rainbow Valley Farm photos, lost then found,
are now going straight to my  first e-book.
What title shall I give it? 

They aren't my stories, they are just in my care.
I want them out of my care and into the world, doing the work they are meant to do.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Formula for writing a spot-on, online profile, to connect with quality customers - Sunday Workshop, Sydney

The quality and depth of your network determines the quality and depth of your impact on the world. Thats the way things are now.

Creating a spot-on profile that attracts exactly the right customers and colleagues is a very good place to start changing your world.

We are often the LAST people who can see our profiles as others see them,  and we all need an extra set of entrepreneurial eyes to do a good job. Preferably caring and constructive eyes, as writing up your essence to sell is a fraught task, but thrilling once you've got it right.

So I'm holding an afternoon-tea workshop at my home-studio in Annandale, and have invited some of my favourite local culture changers - a Children's garden designer, a Permie Naturopath, a writer, a soil expert, and more. Come and meet them.

Time: 2pm - Sunday March 4th
Location: Annandale, Sydney 
Contact: 0412 474 282
Cost: $20

Bring along:
Print-outs of 3 of your current online profiles: Facebook, website, LinkedIn, etc.
Red pen - those profiles won't recognise themselves!
Back pen - you will know exactly what to put in, by the time we are done
Snacks to share from your garden, if you have any
Show and tell about yourself and your work - brochures, etc.

Cecilia's Annandale Studio, 10 minutes from Sydney CBD

 If you are changing the world with your very own business, I recommend  'Fast, Flat and Free - How the internet has changed your business', by Gihan Perera.

Its a  hands-on, do-able manual for getting the internet side of your business clear and effective, the best use of $10 you will ever make.
If you implement it.
But we don't, generally. Me too.
Thats why I'm holding a workshop, to practice what Gihan preaches.
I've learned that change happens when we are with friends we trust and admire. And when there is nice food nearby.
So I've arranged it. Come

Here is what we will do:
1. Define our ideal customer, and our not-ideal customer.
Then we will check that we are doing everything to be their ideal provider, that we are good 'cultural fit', and are communicating that.

2. Ask and answer the 'Framing' questions in our customer's mind:

                        why you? 
    why this?                          why me? 
                        why now? 

3. Use the Though Leaders Positoining Matrix to express what we do, in 3D :  Concise and catchy for twitter, Friendly for Facebook, and solution-oriented for our LinkedIn crowd.

Matt Church's Positioning Matrix, Thought Leaders

Here is an example of how a fantasy business, in this case a balcony garden designer (not me!), would use this template to write their profiles:
  • Obsession: Your driving passion or obsession 
  • Category: A simple – almost simplistic – description of your current 
    role or job description 
  • History: A few relevant qualifications from your past

    e.g. I'm a balcony garden designer,  who want to live in a city dripping with fragrant, delicious gardens.  I'm author of 'Living on the Edge - how to make your balcony garden love you back' .

  • Uniqueness: What makes your business different 
  • Analogy: An analogy or metaphor for your business 
  • Story: A case study, example, anecdote or fact 

    eg. 'I'm more of a life coach than a gardener, as planning your edible garden starts with a kitchen declutter, menu plan, and garden party schedule,   Most clients report eating home-cooked meals with companions has increased by 3 days a week, and hours of electronic recreation - T.V. and internet - are reduced by two hours per night."

    • Purpose: What is their real business goal? 
    • Problems: What problems do you solve for your customers? 
    • Solutions: What solutions do you offer to these problems?

e.g.  "My clients are passionate creative professionals who find it hard to 'switch off' from work and take care of themselves, their bodies and their relationships. The routine of spending mealtimes on a dappled, self-maintaining balcony garden, with the gift of a new bloom, creature or fruit appearing each day, re-sets their spirits. They turn up to their work life with more optimism, less adrenaline, and better results. "

Alongside Gihan's structure will be bouncing off each other's creative ideas, helping guide each other through blind spots, and make the whole process productive and fun. And maybe meeting people who will be our colleagues and supporters for beautiful projects in future. 

Cecilia's blog creation workshop for entrepreneurs, Melb. 2009

A second Online Presence workshop will be run on April 15, though the Lifestyle Designers Meetup

If you have a mate that should be there, tell them about it.
If you can't come in person, follow the  formula above, put it on line, and see what happens. If you are generous, you might send us your 'before and after' success stories to inspire our next batch of out-there Creatives.

Do contact me with any questions or suggestions:
0412 474 282
cecilia.macaulay (at)