Miss T Tonic

On 7 August 1974, French street performer Philippe Petit walked and danced on a wire he illegally rigged between the New York World Trade Center’s twin towers.

Captured in an incredible documentary, Man On Wire, Petit’s six years of planning and preparation to achieve what’s been described as the ‘artistic crime of the century’ is an awe inspiring tale. He conceived the idea based on an article he read about the towers construction whilst at the dentist in France, and dared to dream that one day he would walk between them.

Each day, we all conjure up ideas that we’d love to materialise but never follow through on them. What does it take to defy the odds?

When Petit was asked why he did the twin towers stunt, he would say, “When I see three oranges, I juggle; when I see two towers, I walk.”

Incredible feats are achieved because people dared to see the opportunity in any situation. Whilst some may see nothing but brick walls, others see the potential to do something that invigorates them. What they rely on is their instinct, determination and a dose of compulsion.

If you’re going to break with convention, you need to not be a sheep of society. You have to zig when others zag. You have to ignore the criticism, relentlessly get back up every time you fall down, canvas alternate paths, and continually find inspiration. Defeatists need not apply.

You also have to be under no illusion that it’s going to be a walk in the park. I recall reading an article a couple of years ago about Olympic swimmer Eamon Sullivan’s battle with injury – five hip surgeries and 10 years of shoulder, back, knee and neck injuries – and training till he vomits. If you want to achieve the seemingly impossible, be prepared to roll up your sleeves and do the hard yards.

And finally, you have to be prepared for the potential isolation. When you go against mainstream thinking, you unintentionally force those around you to question their own beliefs. Not many people like to feel that they are wrong, or that their idea of what’s possible in life is somewhat questionable. So instead of supporting you – and your allegedly crazy ideas – they distance themselves and sometimes walk away. On the flip side, you may find others want to join you and give you infinite support.

Many of the great ideas came from people who defied mainstream thinking. The likes of Hendrix, Branson, Banksy, and Jobs were all revolutionary in their offerings to the world.

The question is, are you prepared to defy the odds to achieve your dream?


Miss T Tonic is a strategist, designer and LifeStylist who spends her days taking great ideas and turning them into reality at Howl Communications and Style to a T. A passionate storyteller, she shares her insights on business, life and doing more of what you love.

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Have you noticed lately how happiness has become a commodity?
In one corner, happiness has become an item we seek from others through their approval, validation, acceptance and love. In the other corner, we have the hedonistic lifestyle approach where instant gratification is sold as the sensory quick fix to happiness.
Unfortunately, happiness has been marketed as a ‘thing’ external to ourselves. Whether sought from others or bought from a store, we’ve somehow confused momentary pleasure for our happily ever after.
According to 8th Century Indian Buddhist scholar Shantideva, “All the suffering in the world comes from seeking pleasure for oneself. All the happiness in the world comes from seeking pleasure for others.”
So how do we get back to grassroots happiness? How can you feel good for free?
Have you ever been fully absorbed in an activity where you lost track of time or even your surroundings? According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, you were experiencing flow, a mental state of complete focus, full involvement and enjoyment in an activity.
You can achieve flow with any task, at work or at play; put simply, all it requires is challenge, control, concentration, and immediate feedback. For some, that might be playing sports, engaging in hobbies, or creating art. For others, it could be writing poetry, mowing the lawn, or cooking.
When we voluntarily choose to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile, we create optimal experiences. And it is these optimal experiences, where exhilaration and a deep sense of enjoyment coexist, that stick in our minds as markers for what life should be like.
Creating a go-to list of flow activities can help direct you to feel good when you need it. If you don’t know what causes flow for you, identify a range of challenging activities you think you may like, and give them a go without any self-judgement or distractions. Discover what you enjoy, discard the ones you don’t. You may even want to share your flow activity with others.
But what about those days when nothing you do makes you feel good? The Buddha once said, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” Given the average person has around 70,000 thoughts a day, we have many opportunities to change the way we think at any particular moment.
What the happiest people in the world have in common with each other is that they have flexible attitudes. They are able to bend with circumstances when necessary; that is, they are willing to accept that some things are beyond their control and they are what they are. In other words, they don’t harbour irrational beliefs about how things should be.
Irrational beliefs are thoughts that make you unhappy, inhibit your ability to experience good health, and cause you to engage in self-defeating activities. They include thoughts such as the world should be a fair place or that you must be loved and approved of by everyone.
These views can make us feel glum when our life experiences fall short of our preconceived ideals.
To feel good, challenge your thoughts and become more flexible about your views. Turn your rigid beliefs into preferences and remain open to life’s changing circumstances. Once you do, you’ll discover that whilst life may not always live up to your expectations, you can positively change the way you react to the situation.
I’ve come to realise that happiness is the sum of every detail of your life, good and bad.
Achieving happiness doesn’t make you immune to experiencing days when you will be challenged. More often than not, you will have to step out of your comfort zone to make some tough decisions.
With your newfound flexible attitude and go-to list of flow activities, your patch of feel good sunshine is only a moment away. All it will cost you is two out of your 70,000 thoughts today.

Miss T Tonic is a strategist, designer and LifeStylist who spends her days taking great ideas and turning them into reality at Howl Communications and Style to a T . A passionate storyteller, she shares her insights on business, life and doing more of what you love.

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‘Never _______ enough’ is a sentence that has featured prominently in my thoughts over the years. It is amazing how quickly and easily one can fill in the blank, perhaps even infinitely.
Insert words like beautiful, wealthy, skinny, clever or successful, and you begin to realise how slippery that slide is into the self-pity pool.
Typically an affliction of women (and loved by advertisers), these murmurs of doubt, dollops of fear and sprinkles of self-deprecation are deeply rooted in societal norms and can be said to be the drivers for many of our decisions in life.
Like it or not, we live in a culture of scarcity, where feelings of deficiency are often driven by (unconscious) comparisons of how much you and/or everyone else has, doesn’t have, wants or needs. With deficiency comes fear, and with fear comes action. And that action is consumerism, a belief that we can buy our way out of hurt, despair and loss with an immediate fix.
I was educated that having a good career was paramount if I was to make it in the world. That is, having a well-paid secure job that afforded me all the needs, wants and luxuries I could ever desire. And so, I trotted up that corporate career ladder and enjoyed the lifestyle that went with it. I could buy any solution for any ailments I encountered.
But over the years, I began to question whether the choices I made were my own. The jobs I chose, the clothes I bought, the venues I frequented, even the car I drove, were all executed with the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ mindset. My job title had become my identity and my rule of thumb decision maker. I had fallen into the materialism trap.
Dissatisfied with my place in the world and the person I had become, I decided to turn things on their head. Perhaps now was a good time to let go of the idea of who I thought I should be and become who I really was. And that started with redefining what a career meant to me.
My new definition of career is where you call the shots on who you want to be and how you want to interact with the world; it is yours to design, chop and change, and keep. It’s an allencompassing occupation that culminates in your life’s work. Your traditional notion of paid work career is but a single component of what I call your life career.
A life career determines your social interaction, community involvement and family commitments. It is grounded in values and beliefs that you want to exhibit in all aspects of your life. It involves articulating how you might benefit others, how you can act with purpose, and how you want to be remembered.
In everyday terms, my life career includes engaging with people and activities that give me energy. I am relishing deeper, more meaningful conversations and am continually looking at ways to build a greater sense of community amongst friends, family and strangers. I’ve identified qualities and characteristics that I want to cultivate and have sought out activities that foster the development of these. My paid work is continually changing as I strengthen the foundations of my life career, but I’m not worried; I’m enjoying the experiments.
My newly defined career ensures I smile and laugh each day, even if it’s at myself. It reminds me that life can be amazing and fulfilling if you can let go of that feeling of being not enough. I’ve come to realise that I don’t need to buy anything to feel better about myself; all I need is time and patience. And those are still free.

Miss T Tonic is a strategist, designer and LifeStylist who spends her days taking great ideas and turning them into reality at Howl Communications and Style to a T . A passionate storyteller, she shares her insights on business, life and doing more of what you love.

Photo Credit: Brock Davis, Behance

I don’t subscribe to schmaltzy self-help.

Yet I found myself sitting on the floor one morning, jotting down what I wanted from life.

Up until that point, I’d undertaken actions that ticked the boxes for others, whilst the knot in my  stomach was kicking me to do otherwise. I had always rationalised that it was for my own greater good, and having ignored the conflict for so long, it became a natural reaction to silence my instinct.

Things are fine I used to decree; everything is great. I’m just taking it in my stride – it will all come good in the end. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

So there I sat, brainstorming and recording how I could be the best version of myself. Not frivolous resolutions that I’d never keep, but true thoughts on principles, values, beliefs and ideas that I wanted in my life, and how I could manifest and channel these ideals into the world every day.

The result was my Life Design Manifesto [see image above], an objective snapshot of what I’m all about, or as I like to think, what the calm, rational version of me would counsel in times of confusion, on paper.

How do I use it? Whenever I feel a little off course or am having trouble making a decision, I take a quick glance at it, and am instantly reminded and reassured by what works for me. It’s highly useful when my emotions can be dismissive of my own truths.

What I didn’t expect was the exclamations of appreciation and admiration from others of the words I had gathered onto a page. Turns out that others too needed to be inspired and reminded of the things that mattered to them.

But what works for some may not work for others, and the words you choose to live by may be somewhat different from mine.

There is no right or wrong way to create your own manifesto, but you do have to be honest with yourself about your aspirations. Conjuring up the principles, ideas, priorities, actions, beliefs, values and ideals about what you want from each aspect of your life can be a little daunting, so here are some questions to get you started:

1. What do you want to get out of life?

2. What qualities, characteristics or values do you want to exhibit and possess?

3. What activities in life make you happy and content? What gives you spirit? What drives you?

4. What can you do or stop doing to eliminate grief, guilt and bad habits?

5. What good habits do you want to cultivate?

6. What emotions do you want to feel? How will you achieve that?

7. Are there words of encouragement, motivation, or quotes that that you like, have resonated with you, or that you constantly refer to?

8. Are there areas of your health, wellbeing and lifestyle that you would like to improve? What would you need to do or feel to achieve these?

9. What characteristics would you like your relationships and friendships to embody? How could you achieve those?

10. What aspects of work would you like to change or improve? What could you do to make those happen?

Another way would be to do a brain dump of what’s on your mind over a few days. You’ll unearth what makes you tick and what keeps you up at night which in turn may assist in identifying what you’d like more or less of in your daily life.

How much of my contentment has to do with my manifesto? I would say maybe 50 percent; the rest comes from not thinking and just being. If you’ve been honest with yourself in developing your manifesto, the characteristics you aspire to already exist deep within. A manifesto simply provides a means to reacquaint yourself with the real you.

And did I mention that I don’t subscribe to schmaltzy self-help?

Bio: Miss T Tonic is a strategist, designer and creative tactician who spends her days taking great ideas and turning them into reality. Her Life Design Manifesto, along with other artfully designed posters with purpose, can be viewed at Style to a T.

Photo Credit: Style to a T

I’m often told, “I could never do what you do.” The truth is, I never thought I could either. And yet today, you’ll find me building a business (and a new career) around work I enjoy and creating the flexible lifestyle I desire. But it wasn’t my original plan.

For a long time, I pursued a career that my doe-eyed 16-year-old self ominously decided upon all those years ago. Whilst I often felt unfulfilled by my choice, I was trapped in the cycle of  accomplishments, accolades and acquisitions to ever want to break free.

It took becoming a redundancy refugee during the GFC for me to take charge of my future, choosing to do more of what I love in order to bring more meaning to my life. But trading certainty for the unknown can be incredibly daunting.

How do you really know if changing career or creating your own lifestyle business is the right thing for you?

One approach would be to ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do I really want this? Why?

2. Are you prepared to move out of your comfort zone? Are you willing to do things you’ve never done before?

3. What are you willing to give up or sacrifice in order to succeed? What things will you gain by pursuing what you want? Consider things like income, lifestyle, time, family, and sense of purpose. How do you value these things?

4. What skills do you possess to make this happen? What skills will you have to learn? Are you willing to retrain, informally on the job or formally at college/university?

5. Are you self motivated? How willing are you to make connections and seize opportunities?

6. Are you resilient? How do you cope with setbacks? Are you good at problem solving and adapting to move forward? Do you know when to push and when to quit?

7. Are you able to work independently? Are you resourceful?

8. Have you spoken to people already working in the industry? What are their thoughts on the good, bad, barriers, perks?

9. What support do you have? Can you turn to friends, family and professional networks to help you? What finances and resources do you have?

10. Is what you’re thinking of doing feasible? Can you succeed? Do you have a sensible, marketable, sustainable, and financially rewarding idea?

Another approach would be to bypass contemplation and just dive in blind, which is what I did. Sometimes, you just have to trust your instinct and give things a go – it’s the only way to assess if it’s for you.

I’ve learned that you can never be prepared for everything that happens. However, if you continually evolve and adapt to situations, you can give yourself some control over how you’ll tackle the next challenge.

The trick is to not make judgement calls about what’s right or wrong throughout the process. If you make a mistake or don’t get the result you are after initially, it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. Rather, you’ve just discovered more information that can help you to move forward.

Finding the inspiration to do something is not difficult; it’s finding the courage to follow through that can be elusive. So do what feels right for you and you’ll soon forget about being nervous.

Miss T Tonic has changed careers and established businesses. A strategist, designer and creative tactician, she spends her days taking great ideas and turning them into reality at Howl Communications and producing thought provoking posters at Style to a T.

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Not so long ago I lived life back to front. I would spend time trying to perfect the things that weren’t right, stew over situations that hadn’t gone my way, and berate myself for illconsidered ideas. Too often, I’d skip over celebrating goals I had conquered in favour of tackling what was next on my ‘to do’ list.

I soon discovered I wasn’t alone in this topsy-turvy approach. The white whines from strangers about cold lattes, slow smart phone connections, and costly shipping for online shopping, confirmed that others were also caught in this infinite loop of dissatisfaction. It got me thinking, why do we pay more attention to what is wrong in our lives rather than to what is

I recently read, “What you think about and thank about, is what you bring about.”

We live in a culture that values achievement over appreciation – if you’re not looking to top your last victory, you’re not moving forward in life. But as we keep moving the goal posts, we make it increasingly difficult to manifest the perfect life we long for. How often have you achieved a goal only to feel empty inside?

Many of us take for granted the good things we already have in our lives; in fact, many of us forget that we even have them. Our desire to continually grow, be challenged or change means we no longer take time out to sit and enjoy the moment. Yet it is this overlooked expression of gratitude that can instantly improve our wellbeing.

There are many methods to practising the gratitude attitude. For me, the easiest, most effective way is to jot down (or recall in my mind) three things that went well today. From finding a parking spot at the supermarket to a client accepting my work proposal, spending time each day acknowledging what went right reminds me that good things can and do happen to me all the time.

Why is expressing gratitude good for you? According to research by Dr Michael McCollough and Dr Robert Emmons, practising daily gratitude can result in higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Their studies revealed people were less depressed and stressed, exercised more regularly, made more progress toward personal
goals, and were more likely to feel loved.

Personally, I’ve tried to complain less and celebrate more. Where I’d previously throw thankyou’s in as courteous conversation punctuation, I now ensure they’re backed by genuine appreciation. In the same way I congratulate others for their achievements, I pause to celebrate my own wins, no matter how trivial.

When you celebrate what’s right in your world, you begin to see the infinite possibilities, the multitude of solutions to your perceived problems, which previously were hidden from your view. The next time you feel like life is not going your way, take the time to consider what has turned out in your favour. You could already be living the perfect life you’ve been dreaming of, all that’s required is for you to stop and notice.

Miss T Tonic believes that anything is possible. A strategist, designer and creative tactician, she spends her days taking great ideas and turning them into reality at Howl Communications and Style to a T . A passionate storyteller, she shares her insights on business, life and doing more of what you love at Howl Hatchery.

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We welcome our newest fabulous 10thousandgirl blogger Miss T Tonic. A smart, creative woman and a great addition, she kicks off her posts with something that spoke to us personally. Enjoy and we look forward to reading more!

There was a time when I just bumbled through life. I said yes to things when I wanted to say no, and no to things when I really wanted to say yes. I sought the opinions of too many people who didn’t know any better than me. And I blindly adopted and pursued ambitions that were often not mine.

Not surprisingly, this confused approach to living left me feeling disenchanted, resentful and disappointed. I was treating life like a competitive sport, trying to second-guess the next move, yet I frequently never felt like I was winning. Why was I programmed to keep shortchanging myself?

I recently read that there are two characteristics to a bad day: one is that you knew what the right thing to do was; the other is that you let someone talk you out of it.

Too often, we believe that our ideas are not good enough and often let others convince us of their preferred solutions. So instead of matching our needs, we allow our decisions to be hijacked by someone else’s preferences, fears and bias. No wonder many of us feel so detached at times.

So why do we allow this to happen? According to research professor Brene Brown, some of us don’t have the courage to accept our imperfections and so defer to defensive techniques like asking others for advice. In doing that, we are trying to shortcut the process by making the uncertain certain, when instead we should be sitting in the uncomfortable space of not knowing a little longer, waiting for the right answer to pop into our gut.

To flip this and become what Brown calls wholehearted, you have to be open to being vulnerable and exposed. To be exposed, you have to get deliberate and be authentic.

Authentic is when whatever you feel on the inside is reflected on the outside through your actions. When the two are out of sync, you may feel fearful, frustrated or even angry that noone understands you (and they won’t because they can’t read your mind). However, when you are in sync, you will feel connected, centred and at your best – you are deliberately being you.

Over the past few years, I’ve purposefully tried to sit in the uncomfortable space of uncertainty. It seems enveloping myself in fear drives the best decisions of my life out of me. Sure, I still slap my head every so often when I make a mistake (you don’t become immune to them), but I no longer feel as resentful as I used to.

Deep down we all know what the right thing to do is. Instead of seeking permission from others, just go ahead and do it anyway. Better to have tried and failed than to waste energy wondering, ‘what if?’ You have far greater things to achieve with your time.

Miss T Tonic believes that anything is possible. A strategist, designer and creative tactician, she spends her days taking great ideas and turning them into reality at Howl Communications and Style to a T . A passionate storyteller, she shares her insights on business, life and doing more of what you love at Howl Hatchery.

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