The Look Back | 2023

You say goodbye (2023) and I say hello (2024). Here I am again, with my qualitative reflections, learnings, and ravings about the year that was. Due to this years’ accomplishments, there is a strange and buoyant finality about reaching the end of 2023. Something is sizzling in the air, accompanied by the sound of summer’s cicadas , that heralds in the end of an era. That assessment feels indulgently dramatic, but I think that it’s fair given that some fairly momentous projects have come to a close.

I appreciate this grounding and clarifying practice of new-yearly self-reflection – it was initially inspired by James Clear’s Annual Reviews, and guides me to take stock of what the year held for me – particularly in regards to how I was able to live in alignment with my values, move towards goals, live with intention and stagger about in this dizziness of freedom (that’s a Kierkegaard ref – I quote philosophy now, keep up). Let’s get to it.

2023 In Three Words


What Went Well This Year?


Went well/went badly (but who’s grading and what’s the rubric?) In a conversation with JB recently, he mentioned that I view parenting as a project to execute with precision rather than an experience to be lived into. Rude and accurate, as per usual. This paradox packages my sentiments nicely, it really is the best most awful job. I find myself with many challenging and mixed feelings about motherhood, and at times, I feel disconnected from the prevailing narrative of what motherhood is. It is also a moral battlefield beyond what I had ever imagined, where everyone has their own impassioned take on what is right for their kid and how to be the best mum you can be, etc. It is easy to take any maternal discrepancies as testament that you’ve made the wrong choice or lack the requisite amount of presence/discipline/gentleness/selflessness. I think I need to heed the wisdom of my partner here and relinquish the need to take a critically evaluative, performance-based approach to parenting. One’s success as a mum rests more on one’s ability to both gracefully endure and consciously defy the pressures, norms and pleasures of parenting. In this way, it’s more like a work of abstract art than a mathematical equation.

In the year coming… I’d love to relinquish the expectation that parenting needs to feel some kind of way to signal when you’re doing it right. I’d like to take more photos together, create more art together, play games, watch movies, see music, cook, learn and laugh together. In short, I’d like parenting to be better integrated into the joyful moments of life and not experiences as just another job to be done on the side.


This year, I continued my part-time role at Support Act, where I was appointed the Mental Health & Wellbeing Content and Programs Lead (what a professional-sounding mouthful). As I eased into my second year with the organisation, I was able to be a part of some awesome music events and contribute to a bunch of important projects. Here are a few memorable bits…

  • I took part in a number of industry events and conferences, including Bigsound, WAMCON, Tropical Fiesta, and SXSW Sydney. I facilitated Sound Minds & Creative Minds live events in a bunch of major cities, and manned the stall backstage at SITG.
  • I finished putting together our Financial Wellbeing digital workshop – Money Moves (due to be released next year) and we launched the Mentally Healthy Workplaces Program, which we’ve started to roll out across a range of music industry orgs.
  • I’ve gotten to travel to a bunch of new cities across the country, and I am proud of our ongoing efforts to promote wellbeing, safety and community across the wider music industry.

In the year coming… I would like to do more keynotes and workshops, network across industries, finesse our existing resources and programming, and work on more exciting and engaging activations at festivals and conferences. I’m keen to be a part of our 2024 research project and get that research published. I’d also like to work more closely with our team of presenters and mental health practitioners, nurturing the great team we have and grow it further.


Well well well. I’m so glad that I can shift this up to the ‘What Went Well’ section this year – as it’s been historically relegated to the ‘What Challenged Me’ section. Not that it wasn’t without its challenges. But I have made it to the end of my PhD candidature relatively unscathed. For the most part, I deeply enjoyed the experience. I loved the deep immersion in my topics of interest, going down the research rabbit holes and furiously highlighting a bunch of interesting books. I appreciated stoking a greater love of philosophy and developing deeper conceptual understandings of the self. l loved improving my research skills, fumbling through data analysis, and developing my academic writing skills. Having a body of work come together in this way, complete with stats and data, is something that – at times – I did not believe I was capable of. But here we are. We can do hard things, etc. I also had a blast taking (and losing) my poster to LA to present at the Psychology of Technology Conference at USC. A true academic highlight!

In the year coming… I would like to fully submit my thesis, complete with emendations, so I can graduate early next year. I want to write up some articles from my research and submit them for publication. I also want to present at some academic conferences next year and see how I might stay connected to the academic scene, in the realms of teaching support, lecturing or research.

Friends, Family & Community

The people in my life are embodied treasure. There is nothing that brings greater joy or greater hope than the relationships that nurture, inspire, support and guide me. I have had moments of lightness, joy and laughter with friends and family this year, but also moments of collapse, vulnerability, and the sharing and holding of deep sorrows, struggles and hardships. Being with people is not always easy, but being without them is impossible. I am dramatically grateful for the people who make up the web of my social universe, and am thankful for every hug, text message, shared bottle of wine, park hang, dinner date and book recommendation. May we always show up for each other in the ways we most need it.

I also continued connecting with folks in the mental health and research community, and what a joy it has been! Our quarterly SHRNKS sessions have been genuine highlights, and I’m grateful for the friendships and working relationships that have deepened and expanded as a result (including our wonderful book club).

In the year coming… I would like to have more fun with friends. More holidays away. More spontaneous expressions of gratitude, love and joy. I would like to continue to show up for my family, friends and community in ways that are supportive, useful and genuine. More home-cooked meals. More layered cakes. More listening parties, art dates and book launches. More connecting and revelling over art and music and being here on this weird, spinning rock at precisely the same time.

Healthy Habits & Committments

I knew that I would have to be diligent with committing to rejuvenating and restorative habits this year if I was going to make it through my final PhD year, with frequent work travel, JB on time-consuming shoots and international tours, and a toddler sucking up my lifeforce like a tiny, feral vampire. I was pleased to continue committing to regular practices, such as reading and my daily German, whilst also powering up my yoga practice this year which was, quite honestly, a lifesaver.

My DuoLingo “German” streak is now at 1310. There’s something deeply gratifying in the small but mindful stakeout of time for this daily practice. More than being just a useful tool for language-learning, it’s a regular moment for me to honour my love of learning.

Yoga has been something that I have practiced diligently and reverently for most of this year, logging in over 93 classes (which is me coming good on my 2022 pledge). I have attended classes at The Yoga Factory in Annandale and received a great deal of guidance and support from the passionate and committed teachers. Whilst my more formal meditation practice has lagged a little this year, I have been able to practice mindfulness and breathwork as part of my yoga classes, and have also seen my strength, stability and flexibility increase too. I attended a 108 Sun Salutations class, where I surprised myself with my endurance, and also when I started ~sobbing~ at the end when One by U2 came on. It was a moment.

Art is always close to my heart but has always been low on my list of priorities. Fortunately, my time with my kiddo has provided the opportunity to rekindle my love of art, as we learn about various works of art via the At The Gallery art card deck, and recreate them together. This is not without it’s frustrations – but then, the practice of art never is! This year, we’ve explored work by Matisse, Sidney Nolan, Louise Bourgeous, Hokuzai, Keith Haring and more.

Writing was one of my goals for this year and write I did. 88,908 words written, in fact (I’m talking it up, a lot of those words were part of the Reference section). My regular commitment to simply get it done was honoured, and I also tracked the days I worked on my writing and research, which was a useful accountability tool that allowed me to visually take-in how I was regularly showing up.

I read 44 books. This has been a mammoth year for reading – these books are in addition to the jumbo list of articles and chapter excerpts I’ve read for PhD study. It’s testament to how energising and fulfilling I find reading to be. Some particular joys in the realms of books this year included reading books written by friends, and attending their book launches, and kicking off a bookclub with some SHRNKS friends.

Plenty of psych non-fictions on the list, a few more philosophical reads this year, and also turns out that I don’t go in for anthropology (as per a few of my DNF’s). Good to know.

  • The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin
  • Awe – Dacher Keltner
  • The Pisces – Melissa Broder
  • A Field Guide to Lies & Statistics – Daniel Levitin
  • To Have or to Be – Eric Fromm
  • The Good Life – Robert Waldinger & Marc Shulz
  • The Psychology of Money – Morgan Housel
  • Sedated – James Davies
  • Civilized to Death – Christopher Ryan
  • The Rulebook – Chris Cheers
  • The Perfectionists Guide to Losing Control – Katherine Morgan Schafler
  • I Have Some Questions for You – Rebecca Makkai
  • Enchantment – Katherine May
  • The Art of Choosing – Sheena Iyengar
  • What Got You Here Wont Get You There – Marshall Goldsmith
  • The Communication Book – Mikael Krogerus & Roman Tschappler
  • Psych – Paul Bloom
  • The Resilience Project – Hugh Van Cuylenburg
  • The Influencer Industry – Emily Hund
  • The Art of Gathering – Priya Parker
  • Romantic Comedy – Curtis Sittenfeld
  • The Empathy Diaries – Sherry Turkle
  • One Simple Thing – Eddie Stern
  • Donald Horne: Life in the Lucky Country – Ryan Cropp
  • The Experience Machine – Andy Clark
  • The Luminous Solution – Charlotte Wood
  • Diagnosis Normal – Emma Jane
  • The Philosophy Gym – Stephen Law
  • Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
  • Piranesi – Susanna Clarke
  • Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite – Robert Kurzban
  • Contagious – Jonah Berger
  • The Secret Life of Secrets – Michael Slepian
  • If You Should Fail – Joe Moran
  • Meaning in Life and Why It Matters – Susan Wolf
  • A Real Piece of Work – Erin Riley
  • Talk Like TED – Carmine Gallo
  • The Curse of the Self – Mark Leary
  • Touring & Mental Health – Tamsin Embleton
  • Wild Problems – Russ Roberts
  • Nightbitch – Rachel Yoder
  • Exhalation – Ted Chiang
  • Letters to a Young Poet – Rilke
  • Chatter – Ethan Cross
  • Reclaiming Conversation – Sherry Turkle (DNF)
  • The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene (DNF)
  • Guns, Germs & Steel – Jared Diamond (DNF)
  • The Dawn of Everything – David Graeber & David Wengrow (DNF)

In the year coming… I would like to recommit to these practices, with a greater immersion in them, particularly in the art realm, with more journalling, life drawing, photography and art classes. I’d like to do more writing and graphic design. I’d like to borrow more books from the library (saving space/money, etc.) and am excited to read more books by friends. And I’d like to watch more movies and see more live shows & live music. I’d also like to ease into my witchy era, learning more about tarot reading, the moon and stars, manifestation practices, and the natural world. It’s kinda nice to try on a different paradigm.

Money Stuff

As per my comment from last year, I gave myself space this year to invest time in dr-me – which required a great deal of unpaid study. As a result, this meant that I wasn’t able to hustle much for additional paid work. Still, regular savings and investments have been going steady. I also have gained greater clarity of regular outgoings, and developed an understanding of how much I’d need to be earning to live a rich life.

In the year coming… I would like to pick up more paid work, in order to make substantial contributions to our savings, and move closer to the goal of purchasing our first home. I’d like to be more accountable for my recreational spending, and eliminate unnecessary costs and subscriptions.

What Challenged Me This Year?

Mood Management

Life is a rollercoaster just gotta ride it. I love actual roller coasters. Emotional ones, not so much. I go through periods of feeling very balanced, stable, accomplished and energised and then, sometimes without catalyst, the bottom falls out and things get…hard. In these times, life feels like an agonising slog, my self-care practices offer little in the way of returns and it feels almost impossible holding things together. Since I was a teenager, I’ve experienced this variability and over the course of my life, it’s been easy enough to attribute changes in moods to a natural response to challenging/unfulfilling/draining things in my life. My deep dive into positive psychology practices has offered me a great deal, but these practices unfortunately haven’t been able to touch the sides when it comes to regulating or abating my moods.

In the year coming… I’m going to be more proactive in tracking and managing my moods and looking for new ways I might be able to make life easier for myself during these heavy periods.

The Great & Impossible Balancing Act

We’re told to understand what it is we need and then to advocate for it – but sometimes the challenge lies in knowing what is reasonable to demand and which needs need to be surrendered. Maintaining my self-sustaining practices, remaining connected to my social sphere, writing a phd, working, having fun, raising a kid, making time for my partner and stepping up when he is working long days or on tour – this stuff is always in flux and getting the ideal balance is simply unsustainable.

In the year coming… I need to be more communicative of my capacity and have regular check-ins with the people around me with how things are impacting me. We can then work collaboratively on how to support one another better, whilst also ensuring we’re doing what we need to do to get our work done and take care of ourselves.

Existing Ethically & Giving Back

I have lived quite small in my little bubble over the past year and I haven’t given much consideration to how I might contribute positively to the world around me. I am grateful to contribute meaningfully with the work I do. And I am proud that I’ve made the shift to purchasing more second-hand fashion, giving fast fashion the flick. But there is much more to be done, and I’d like to try to do better and do more.

In the year coming… I’d like to donate more money to charity, with more regularity. I’d like to be more conscious about my meat and fish consumption, and perhaps explore mentoring or supporting the arts in different and helpful ways.

Drainers / Sustainers?

Reflecting on the things that drained and sustained me, I can better understand how to limit my exposure to, or support myself around the things that challenge and drain me. I can also understand what helps nourish me and sustain me!

Mental Wellness PlatitudesClean Uncluttered Spaces
Anxious Mind-ReadingTrips Away
Consecutive Solo Parent am’s & pm’sGetting Dressed Up
Thinking What To Cook Sun Salutations
Sickness & Sinus ProblemsMaking Art
Chaotic Kids EventsDelicious Cocktails
Bad Nights’ SleepStar Gazing
Internet Moral PosturingBeach Getaways
Over-SpendingFresh Flowers
Long, Drawn-Out BedtimesPasta
Low MoodsSinging & Dancing

What did I learn from this year?

Continuous commitment can yield great rewards

The vast, looming task of completing my PhD by the end of this year was daunting. I had not worked on it regularly and diligently over the preceding years, so there was a lot left to be done. When I sat with that reality, I felt almost frozen with the immensity of time, effort, motivation and focus that completing it undoubtedly required. But I did what the productivity guru’s fap on about – I broke the task down into consumable chunks, and I made a commitment to visually track my PhD-progress days to ensure I wasn’t letting too many days pass without getting some work done on it. Little by little, this chipping away left me with a finished product that, while far from perfect, is something I’m proud of. It’s lived-experience-proof of what is possible, when you make an ongoing commitment to something important. In light of this, I can reflect on what other ongoing committments I want to pledge myself to in the coming months and years.

The mental health & wellbeing movement routinely simplifies the complex reality of living a full life

During my PhD research, I found myself exploring philosophical ideas surrounding the self and identity, authenticity and morality, via fascinating podcasts, books and papers. After being so firmly entrenched in the colour-by-numbers approach to mental health & wellbeing for the last 5-ish years, these refreshing, confronting and in-depth philosophical examinations of life and the human condition offered more representation to the moral, social and existential contradictions that we all reckon with through the course of our lives. They were free of platitudes, full of paradoxes and offered opportunities to think deeply about the nature of the self, the nature of goodness & morality, and the meaning of existence (you know, all that lighthearted stuff). I’m hoping to bring some of these deeper reflections into the ways I live and talk about life, relationships, well-being and creativity.

2022 | The Look-Back

Another year over, a new one just etc, etc. At the risk of sounding like screeching cliche, this year went fast. I feel good that this year has come to a close – with all its delights, challenges, opportunities, miseries and repeated episodes of Bluey. It wasn’t easy, but I think, especially amidst the mess and turmoil, there is a great deal to reflect on. And this practice of new-yearly self-reflection has been so valuable for me. It has been inspired by James Clear’s Annual Reviews, and guides me to take stock of what the year held for me – particularly how I was able to live in alignment with my values, move towards goals, live with intention and just have a bloody good time.

I’ve made some additions to the practice this year, and I invite you to use this framework too, to reflect on your own year that’s just hit the rearview, and set intentions for the year ahead.

2022 In Three Words


What Went Well This Year?

Raising A Baby

Parenting is waaaaaaay more everything than I anticipated. I ignorantly assumed that I would be able to seamlessly slot a little kiddo into my busy life with zero compromises, and hasn’t it been a rude shock to confront reality. It’s a strange gig, because you never really know if you’re doing it right, if you’re doing enough, if you’re priming your kid for extensive years of expensive therapy, etc. But I take my role as mother very seriously, and I invest a great deal of effort to consistently show up as a calm, engaged, fun and aware parent. I think that it’s important to acknowledge my efforts on this front.

In the year coming… I’d love to prioritise creating memorable and engaged moments as a family, honouring important milestones and capturing memories regularly throughout the year.


This year saw my departure from The Indigo Project, and into a permanent role with Support Act. I loved all the work I got to contribute to working with Support Act, as well as staying connected to the music industry with my current expertise and past lived experience. Here were a few highlights…

  • Copped my General Registration as a Psychologist (wiew!) ~ got the email while I was watching the sun rise over the ocean. Pretty mega moment for me, and I was grateful to get to celebrate with my bestie who got his rego just two weeks before.
  • I moved into a permanent role with Support Act, creating a range of workshops and programs which I am very proud of. I presented a number of live panels at Support Act’s first mental health in music conference, Head First, I represented Support Act at Splendour in the Grass, hosted live panels at Bigsound 2022, presented Support Act’s programming at state parliament and launched Creative Minds – a 1-Day Creativity Workshop, facilitating it in cities across Australia!
  • I attended my first ever in-person conferences, Purpose, Bigsound and Happiness & Its Causes.
  • I presented at Creative Mornings, Sydney.
  • I hosted my own Perfectionism workshop on Zoom.
  • I also continued to contribute to a number of articles and publications, for Refinery29, ZeeFeed, SBS Australia, ABC News, Popsugar & The
  • I launched a bunch of new merch with Heavy Mental, including my own gratitude journal The Daily Greats, and my self-care magnet sets, the Make It Happen Menu‘s.

In the year coming… I would like complete my phd (huge life goal), and continue to contribute to important projects with Support Act, as well as help empower and train other mental health practitioners to deliver workshops and presentations.

Friends & Family

My people saved me this year, I can safely say. And the more I learn about social psychology, the more I understand that the people around you are not just a nice little bonus – they literally shape and support your sense of self. My parents and their ongoing support with Levon allows me to show up for my work and uni in ways I can be proud of. I am incredibly grateful for them. My husband and his dedication and persistence inspire me daily. I have a beautiful group of friends who I can rely on, celebrate with, rant to and count on through thick and thin. I am very, very lucky.

I also made a lot of new friends this year, in the psych realm, which has been incredible. I trepidatiously launched SHRINKS, a bi-monthly gathering for mental health practitioners, where I was able to cultivate and enrich connection with great people doing cool work in the mental health space. It’s something that I am so proud of kicking off in 2022.

In the year coming… I would like to tell people I love them more often, so that no one is a stranger to how much they mean to me. I would also like to make more friends in the Academia realm who can help to support me and keep me accountable for my phd progress.

Healthy Habits

My habits have been so helpful in sustaining me and allowing me to regularly dip into self-care and accountability. The habits below are ones that I have been building on over a number of years.

My DuoLingo “German” streak is now at 1009. That’s almost two whole years of commitment. I still feel like I can barely string to words together, but alles in ordnung, it’s about the process not the product.

Daily Meditations using the Waking Up app, where I am now a Lifetime Member. I love this app and all it includes. I try my best to do a 10-min meditation every day. It’s a deeply supportive asset in my digital arsenal. Currently I’m at 414 mindful days, with 7.7k mindful minutes.

I read 40 books! Not as many as last year, but some chunkier, more dense books so I’m not going ham with comparisons. Lots of social psychology in there, a few unfinished ones that I just didn’t vibe with. A few fiction books in there, and some parenting ones. ~ Journal articles not included ~

  • Work, Parent Thrive – Yael Schonbrun
  • Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin
  • Willpower – Roy Baumeister
  • Life Is Hard – Kieren Setiya
  • Deep Work – Cal Newport
  • When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chodron
  • The Gardner and the Carpenter – Alison Gopnik
  • The Sweet Spot – Paul Bloom
  • The Web Of Meaning – Jeremy Lent
  • Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain – Lisa Felman Barrett
  • Getting Things Done – David Allen
  • Creativity – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • The Highly Sensitive Person – Elaine Aron
  • Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) – Caron Tavris
  • The How of Happiness – Sonia Lyuomirsky
  • The Social Animal – David Brooks
  • The Road to Character – David Brooks
  • Radically Condesned Instructions for Being Just as You Are – J. Jennifer Matthews
  • Social – Matthew D Lieberman
  • Mindwise – Nicholas Epley
  • 10% Happier – Dan Harris
  • How Emotions Are Made – Lisa Feldman Barrett
  • Wired to Create – Scott Barry Kaufman
  • Living an Examined Life – James Hollis
  • The Creative Curve – Allen Gannett
  • Storyworthy – Matthew Dicks
  • The Stoic Challenge – William B Irvine
  • The Power of Bad – John Tierney & Roy Baumeister
  • Death – Joan Tollifson
  • The Plot – Jean Hanff Korelitz
  • Designing & Leading Life-Changing Workshops – Ken Nelson
  • The Status Game – Will Storr
  • Bittersweet – Susain Cain
  • Therapeutic Improvisation – Michael Alcee
  • All That’s Left Unsaid – Tracey Lien
  • It’s A Shame About Ray – Jonathan Seidler
  • The Self Explained – Roy Baumeister
  • The Hatred of Poetry – Ben Lerner
  • How to Write A Lot – Paul Silva
  • The Anthropocene Reviewed – John Green (unfinished)
  • Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking – Daniel Dennett (unfinished)
  • How to Be You – Skye Cleary (unfinished)

In the year coming… I would like to continue committing to these healthy habits. I will also be tracking a regular writing goal of 250 words daily. And commit to regular yoga classes throughout the week.

Savings & Contributions

Continued to make progress with savings, as well as investing money too (compound interest ftw).

In the year coming… I would like to continue saving regularly, but also give myself some space to acknowledge this year will be spent investing in future dr-me (with a good deal of unpaid work), and so it’s understandable that making money-moves won’t be top priority this year.

What Challenged Me This Year?

Phd Progress

Pitiful. Time to get my ass into gear.

In the year coming… I need to write this thing. Just. write. it.

Saying Goodbye

This year, we said goodbye to my childhood home, parting ways with a great deal of history, and leaving behind a treasure trove of memories. It was a sad moment, and confronted me for a variety of reasons. One of my best friends also moved across the country and, while it was a wonderful opportunity for her, it was sad to know she wasn’t 10min down the road for deep d&ms, stupid Macca’s runs and horror films anymore.

Health & Vitality

I feel like I was constantly ILL. Coming out of constant lockdowns, and with Levon in his first year of daycare, countless health maladies visited our household with frightening regularity. My mental health also took a wallop, with a number of low periods where my self-care practices didn’t seem to cut the mustard.

In the year coming… I have booked in to see a nutritionist. I am also booking back into regular therapy sessions. I will also track yoga sessions x 3 each week, and would also like to organise & meal prep, so that we’re eating healthier food more regularly and we’re modelling a healthy and balanced diet for Levon.

Drainers / Sustainers?

Reflecting on the things that drained and sustained me, I can better understand how to limit my exposure to, or support myself around the things that challenge and drain me. I can also understand what helps nourish me and sustain me!

Consecutive Solo Parent am’s & pm’sMovies & Good TV
Grocery ShoppingYoga, Dancing & Movement
Last Min Dinner ScramblesNature
People PleasingSkin Care
Mum GuiltDeep Conversations
CleaningDinner Parties with Friends
MessinessFancy Hotel Stays
TantrumsWords of Affirmation
Non-CommunicationThings to Look Forward To
Managing EmotionsBooks & Music

What did I learn from this year?

Bad is stronger than good

There is no even-trade between good and bad moments. With the excess weight negative moments carry, you have to go out of your way to create a surplus of good. They say the ratio is around 4:1 (obviously depending on what type of negativity your seeking to balance out). I recognise that my mind has the tendency to focus on the bad, the imperfect, the challenging and the painful. So I need to take extra care to make sure my days are bursting with goodness. I’ll do this by committing to my Daily Greats with more regularity, as well as spotting and speaking out about five star moments, when I’m living them!

Meaning is often more valuable than pleasure – and more interesting too

Cultivating meaning whilst you’re moving through the midst of things can feel brutal, boring, challenging and event paradoxically pointless. But meaning is one of those wonderful things that allows you to look back and feel a deep sense of pride and accomplishment. There was a lot of meaning-making throughout this year and while it definitely hasn’t been easy, I am very grateful and proud of the effort I have invested in living in alignment with my values and the person I am [becoming].

2021 | The Look-Back

Phew. We made it. It did feel touch-and-go for a few moments there, huh? A spiralling global pandemic…again. Disconnection. Isolation. Confusion and uncertainty. This year called us to confront some of the more challenging aspects of being a human being alive on planet earth, and while I won’t lie and say it was easy, I will say that it provided many opportunities to work through challenges, confront discomfort and practice asking for, and accepting, help (as difficult as that can feel).

Something that I kicked off last year, inspired by James Clear’s Annual Reviews, is to take stock of what the year held for me – particularly how I was able to live in alignment with my values, move towards goals, live with intention and just bloody enjoy myself sometimes.

I share these publicly on my blog not with the intention to boast and whine (although, no one can deny the reality of mixed motivations) but in case it can be of any help to you. Of course, you will need to reflect on your year in the context of your own life, but this might lend a little structure to your own personalised look-back and allow you to take pride in your accomplishments, learn from challenges and create momentum towards fresh goals.

What went well for me this year?

Raising A Baby

Guys, raising a baby is hard f*cking work. I wasn’t sure whether I should put this in the “what went well” or below in the “what didn’t go so well” section, as the nature of child-raising is relentless and chaotic. It can be difficult to know if you’re doing it right. However, if Levon is anything to go by, then he is a shining star of joy and curiosity, and I feel bloody proud to have helped support his journey through the world so far. I’m grateful for the time I spent with him – even all the days that seemed aimless, dull, frustrating and never-ending. And I’m hugely grateful for the help of my wonderful parents – who model the most incredible love, support and mindful presence that a grandchild could want. One of the untold joys of bringing a kid into the world is undoubtedly watching family and friends extend their love and time to your child. I’m so happy (and Levon is so lucky) to have so many people like this.

In the year coming… I would like to make time to be fully present with Levon, to visit new places, try new things, dance, sing, play, read, watch movies and laugh…a lot. I want to be open to all that he has to teach me about patience, curiosity, openness, freedom and autonomy, and I want to do the The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment on him. 😅


This year, I worked a lot, so it’s a good thing that I love what I do!

  • I am almost ready to submit for my General Registration as a Psychologist (wiew!) after a big year, which involved passing the National Psychology Exam, submitting all my case reports, conducting tests & assessments and working with my incredible clients.
  • It was a big year for workshops and I’ve found so much joy in putting them together and facilitating them. I’m grateful to have worked with some amazing organisations and companies, including Pinterest, Linktree, Pedestrian TV, Linktree, APRA/AMCOS, Live Nation, UNIFIED and heaps more. I am also proud of my bespoke well-being booster pack workshops, that I hope to facilitate into the new year!
  • I held my first in-person (okay, half in-person, half via-zoom ~ thanks COVID) course Get Your Sh*t Together, for The Indigo Project.
  • I was involved in a range of awesome projects with Support Act, including their monthly On My Mind webinars, the Plug-In workshop series for Aussie music crew workers, and heaps of workshops & Insta-lives. They offered so much support for the Aussie music scene through this past year and I’m proud to be working with them.
  • I also contributed to a number of articles and publications, for The Guardian, ABC, Refinery 29, Sydney Morning Herald and Zee Feed. My favourite of which has to be the smh mental health profile on Succession characters.
  • I launched Heavy Mental, and with that, a bunch of custom merch which people actually bought. Which was so cool.

In the year coming… I would like to secure my general registration as a psychologist (big life goal), hold more in-person workshops (COVID, move aside, kindly) and continue to create impactful, evidence-backed psychology and self-development content with passionate, like-minded people.

Friends & Family

This year, I made social self-care a real priority, as it’s true that once you have a kid, it’s easy to tumble down a parental abyss and lose touch with important people. However, socialising looked a little different this year, thanks to Lockdown 2.0. My birthday was spent celebrating at home, but we set up an impromptu photoshoot, and my friends threw me an awesome murder mystery zoom party. I’m grateful for the extra time I got to spend with my partner (who didnt get to work a whole lot), and for all the thoughtful check-in’s people sent me throughout the year.

In the year coming… I would like to be open to cultivating new friendships, particularly in the psych and academia world, and I’d like to host more dinner parties!

Healthy Habits

While it definitely took a few years to get into a good groove with my habits, I’m so proud to have done the groundwork for what is undoubtedly some very supportive and helpful habits, that help keep my mental health in check, and that allow me to feel like I’m living into my values a little bit everyday.

My DuoLingo “German” streak is at 674. That’s almost two whole years of commitment. I still feel like I can barely string to words together, but alles in ordnung, it’s about the process not the product.

Daily Meditations using the Waking Up app (as well as Insight Timer and Headspace, depending on what my needs are). I feel like Sam Harris’ guided sessions have invited me to connect with mindfulness in a new and empowering way.

Regular posting on Instagram. I know, a boring one, but something that allows me to write a reflect a little each day and noodle about with fun graphics.

I read 57 books! Lots of psychology and personal development stuff. Reading was a true highlight of my year this year, for sure!

Where the Crawdads Sing

The 10X Rule

Darkness is Golden 

The Changing Mind

ACT with Love


Reality Slap 

Think Again

The Algebra of Happiness 


Breaking Badly

Make Time for Creativity: Finding Space for Your Most Meaningful Work

It Didn’t Start With You

The Culture Code


Trick Mirror

Do Nothing 

Cynical Theories 

Whistling Vivaldi

Infectious Madness

The Wisdom of Psychopaths

The confidence gap 

Dangerous love 

High Conflict 

The No Asshole Rule 

If You’re So Smart Why Aren’t You Happy?


Come as You Are



You’re Invited 

Rule Makers & Rule Breakers

The Quick Fix

The Midnight Library 

Sometimes Therapy Is Awkward

The Mother Wound

The Untethered Soul

The Success Experiment 

The Book You Wish Your Parents Read

Dare to Lead 

How To Do The Work

Know Thyself 

The Practicing Mind


9 Nasty Words 

Self Compassion 

The Antidote 

Scout Mindset

The Happiness Trap

Four Thousand Weeks 

Power of Now


Stumbling on Happiness 

Against Empathy 

The Compound Effect

The Gift Of Therapy

In the year coming… I would like to continue committing to these healthy habits. I’d also like to add a daily writing habit into the mix, in an effort to move closer towards the completion of my phd. I definitely would like to fine-tune the habits surrounding my groceries & meal-prep, and strength & fitness training too.

Savings & Contributions

Super proud to have smashed my savings goal this year (even after some sneaky surprise expenses showing up), and learned more about crypto investments (thanks dad!) I made some donations to Effective Altruism too.

In the year coming… I would like to learn more about crypto and throw my hat in the ring with some investing (as scary as it feels!) I am still interested in setting aside some of my salary each month to donate to Effective Altruism charities, even though I didn’t quite get there this year.

What didn’t go so well for me this year?


While I have been proud of the work I’ve done on my phd so far – including sharing my survey, sourcing a sample of over 600 people, and delivering presentations, I feel like there is still a great deal more to be done. I’m looking forward to shifting my focus for 2022 to prioritise writing and submitting to journals.

In the year coming… I would like to immerse myself a little more in the academic space, commit to a daily writing habit (in order to keep my head in the research), and submit some writing for publication.

Art & Music

Last year, I did have visions to spend more time on art and music (specifically learning piano), however, neither of these really got much of a look in during 2021. Sometimes, life is about focusing on certain things to the exclusion of others, and so instead of mourning the time I didn’t commit to art & music, I’m instead going to be proud of the small creative challenges I’ve embarked upon (using the W1D1 app) and the digital art I’ve created for my Instagram Profile and merch. I also made it to Clay Sydney for a class!

In the year coming… I would like to continue to eke out time and space for creativity, wherever I can find it.

Diet & Fitness

This year was certainly an improvement in regards to my diet and exercise, but I hold myself to high standards on this front and feel like I could make my life easier by putting some strategies in place to make healthy eating & mindful movement a more structured and predictable part of my life. I have loved my weekly Rock’n’Pole classes, which have helped me feel more in my-body, and enjoyed the yoga practice I committed to through lockdown. I’ve also re-joined the gym!

In the year coming… I want to commit to 4 sessions of exercise per week, including a yoga class, and a HIIT class. I would also like to organise & meal prep, so that we’re eating healthier food more regularly and we’re modelling a healthy and balanced diet for Levon.

What did I learn this year?

Thinking you should “feel differently” creates friction with reality

This past year, I’ve really dedicated myself to a regular mindfulness practice and for the most part, I am living the benefits – less reactive, quicker to notice sensations in my body that I can meet with curiosity and compassion, able to choose my actions, reactions and behaviours with greater intention. However, one of the things that comes up time and time again for me, outside of practice, is the recurring thought that I should be feeling differently to however I am feeling in the moment. This has been most apparent in time spent with bub, where we might be playing or hanging out, and I recognise the oppressive feeling of boredom. I can then become quite hostile at the fact that I’m bored, and my mind runs with stories like “If you were a good mum, you wouldn’t be feeling bored, you’d be feeling present and connected and grateful”. A friend and I also spent a few nights in Byron Bay this year, and as we watched an incredible sunset go down over The Farm, we both discussed how we were assailed with thoughts like “I should be enjoying this more than I am. I should be happier right now, in this moment.” which resulted in added disappointment. What I’m slowly realising now, is that these thoughts, these cognitive critiques on feelings, are barriers to presence and connection. The more I think into them, the more I struggle against whatever simply is in the present moment. These thoughts attempt to resist reality, and instead of allowing me the freedom to be more connected or present, they drag me down deeper into a pit of uncomfortable and challenging emotions. I’m continuing to learn that you cannot think your way into feeling differently (no matter how much CBT you’re smashing out). Sometimes, acceptance is the best tool we’ve got.

Small committments are better than no committments.

Simply moving through this end-of-year reflection, I’m recognising how much small committments are worth. I used to be an all-or-nothing type – jumping in, with both feet to some new project or practice, only for it to fizzle out, be abandoned and then onto the next thing (or back to the old, unhelpful thing). This year has seen me dedicate myself to healthy practices, without a sense of military-style regimen. So I could miss a day or two, or a week or two, and simply start back up again. The old me would’ve thought “What’s the point?”, but the wiser me can recognise the fact that good things done sometimes is better than never at all.

Giving up on the person you think you are allows you to be whatever you want to be.

Thanks to Sam Harris’ Waking Up app, I’ve been thinking more about the nature of self. I’ve been asking questions such as, “Is my self some continuous enduring force, lurking in the one body, glimpsing through the same set of eyes? Living out the one, congruent life?” Sam’s meditations explore the idea of consciousness and he likes to challenge this idea of an enduring self, that sense of being an “I” inside your mind. This was all incredibly confusing and mind-bending to wrap my head around initially, but as I move through his meditations (and the other thought-provoking reflections in the app), I find that he makes a good point. Much of what we experience as “I” is not generated or “thought up” by us, but merely experienced by us. And with mindfulness practice, we can learn to experience our “I“-ness more mindfully, with less resistance and hostility, and less commitment to being trapped in a restrictive, immoveable self.

Get clear on what’s important.

Understanding your values can be clarifying and nourishing, but living into them can be really f*cking hard. One thing I’ve learned is that doing the things that keep you aligned with your values wont always be easy, and sometimes (lots of times, even) challenging feelings will arise. When we’re guided into doing Values work, I think many of us harbour this latent desire that once we’re living a values-driven life, that everything will feel good in pure alignment, and we’ll always be happy and fulfilled. Ain’t that a load of bs. Suffering is inescapable. But we do get to decide what is worth suffering for. And since getting clear on my values and what’s important to me, I’ve realised that I can look back across the year and feel pretty damn proud that the suffering I endured (in the form of sleepless nights consoling a screaming baby, exhausted hours spent hunched over exam notes, compassion-fatigue from client-facing work, disruptive fears I’m not smart or eloquent enough to run workshops or write articles, boredom at the thought of cooking another healthy meal, or doing another morning yoga class, or sitting through another meditation…) has all been worth it. Because I chose it, knowing it’s in the service of how/who I want to be.

The Comparison Grasp

How A Rude Shock in a Yoga Class Got Me To Confront An Exhausting Habit

After four months of cramming my yoga mat on the floor of my busy living room, in amongst plastic whales, teethers and the detritus of baby-food missed in the flurry of a nightly clean up, I was excited to do my first class back at an actual yoga studio. A semi-regular yoga practice had been an anchor for me through lockdown, allowing me to reconnect with my body, embrace movement and flow, and focus on my breath in amidst a sea of uncertainty and anxiety. Yoga felt like the perfect invitation to connect with my felt experience of moving and being, in a world that is so suffocatingly obsessed with proving and doing. 

But, I got a rude shock a few min into my first communal yoga class back, when I scanned around the room, swiftly evaluated the poses of those around me and immediately noticed a loud thought arising, that said…


Barely 5-min into a class that I attended for my own personal progress and growth, and I was already scrambling to compare myself with other people, and judging myself as good or bad depending on where I happened to fit on the yoga-doers hierarchy… in a GENTLE FLOW class, less than ONE WEEK after a 4-month lockdown.

Huge Buddha energy right there. 

Why Are We Obsessed With Comparing Ourselves to Each Other?

My rush to comparison is a deeply human habit, and one that I have had plenty of practice with throughout my lifetime. In fact, comparing ourselves with others has been a staple of the human experience, given that we learn a great deal about how to behave and how to adhere to social norms based on observing other people’s behaviour, and the subsequent results or consequences of that behaviour – imagine a mum at a grocery store pointing out another well-behaved toddler to her own explosive child in full tantrum-mode, and saying “If you’re good like that little girl you can get a finger bun with sprinkles for the car ride home…”

The desire for status is also a feature we’ve inherited from our mammalian ancestors, and one that requires constant comparison and analysis of other people’s levels of power and prestige, so that we might evaluate where we fit within the social hierarchy. 

It’s no wonder that we’re obsessed with comparison, but over the past few months (even before this embarrassing yoga experience) I have noticed how it’s become an almost constant feature in my daily life. I’m driven to compare myself as a mother, as a writer, as a psychologist, as a public speaker. I compare my body to other people’s bodies (“They’re so much fitter than I am…”). I compare my IG account to other peoples IG accounts (“They have wayyy more followers than I do…”). I compare my successes to other peoples successes (“That person has published a book! I haven’t published a book!”). 

There are two different types of comparisons we make, upward and downward comparisons, and while they seem like polar opposites, they both wind up enforcing a dangerous ideal – that our worthiness is something that we judge based on the achievements & aptitude of others.

Upward & Downward Comparisons

Downward comparisons, that is the kind you make involving people you consider as doing or being worse than yourself, can ignite a cheap and transient experience of euphoria in the moment (“I am so great, I’m better than you”). On the flip side, upward comparisons are the kind you make with people you consider as doing or being better than yourself, that often leave you struck with feelings of inadequacy, incompetence and failure (“I am so shit, they’re so much better than me”). Social media creates a rife and fertile ground for upward comparisons, as you’re bound to find people on social media who present themselves with lives, jobs, families and achievements that look rudely superior to your own.

Although the immediate, felt experiences following upward/downward comparisons might be different, the act of comparison itself (regardless of its direction) is a habit that reinforces the importance of visible or external factors on your sense of worthiness & success. It constantly requires looking outside of yourself for who you are and how you’re doing, and constantly requires you to scramble to “please, perform, perfect & prove” (as Brene Brown puts it) in order to establish your worthiness. 

The Comparison Grasp

You can also become easily addicted to the fleeting euphoria of evaluating yourself as better than others (kind of like a nangs-style ego boost), leaving you chasing it constantly (kind of like me in that yoga class). I’ve given this a name – The Comparison Grasp. That jolt to compare is almost like me grasping for a quick feel-good fix, but the other side to it is, that, if I don’t think or feel like I’m doing better than others, I cop a gross, feel-bad blow. From there, I’ll then force myself to “please, perform, perfect & prove” to increasingly greater degrees, in an effort to grasp again for the chance of that fix. It’s an exhausting and chaotic way to live. 

Can We Get Over the Compulsion to Comparison Grasp?

Well, the real talk is that we probably can’t – not completely. There will likely be a running dialogue in your mind urging you towards comparisons – more so, if you’ve found yourself entrenched in the habits of “pleasing, performing, perfecting & proving” your way to feeling worthy of love and belonging. 

But what we can do is notice when these thoughts and the urge to “comparison grasp” arises. We can acknowledge that the act of constant comparisons reduces life and experience to a very narrow and rigid dichotomy  – better/worse, good/bad, success/fail. And we can acknowledge that indulging in the cheap thrill of a “I’m better than you” downward-comparison leaves us at the mercy of suffering the discomfort and disappointment when we’re faced with the inevitable upward-comparison that says “You’re better than me.”

When you find yourself drawn to the urge to comparison grasp, just as I did in the yoga class that day, your best next step is to pause and take a breath. Unhook from the flurry of thoughts cascading through your mind by allowing yourself to sink back into the experience of being in your body.

You can do this in a yoga class, or while scrolling instagram, or while your kid’s having an exorcist-style meltdown. Recognise that the urge to comparison grasp is natural and human, but the result of being driven by these grasps leaves us trapped in an exhausting and unwinnable race. A race that pits us against friends, colleagues, acquaintances and strangers, where life becomes something to win or lose. Gently guide yourself back to your own lane and be present with your experience for what it is, in that moment – something not necessarily good or bad, better or worse, but rather a gesture in the kaleidoscope of growth & experience that we call life. 

2020 | The Look-Back

This year has certainly been one to remember. It’s been said that there are some years that ask questions and other years that answer them. This year has held a great deal of answers for me, as well as much learning and reflection.

Something that I have found increasingly useful to do at the close of the year is take stock of what the year held for me – particularly how I was able to live in alignment with my values, move towards goals, live with intention and just bloody enjoy myself sometimes.

I’m sharing this below in case it might be helpful to you (even though it does feel a little boastful/whiney to be putting this out publicly). Of course, you will need to reflect on your year in the context of your own life, but this might lend a little structure to your lookback and allow you to take pride in your accomplishments and create momentum towards your goals.

What went well for me this year?


This year I grew and birthed a beautiful, healthy baby. So that was pretty cool.

‘sup Levon.

In the year coming… I would like to spend quality time with Levon, be present as he grows up (they do that pretty quick, so I’ve heard), and mindfully and compassionately introduce him to the world. 


I am proud of how I progressed this year with my psychology work – getting 6 months into my provisional licence, working with clients and learning lots about therapeutic interventions and ways to support others. I wrote a bunch of cool blogs and articles on behalf of The Indigo Project. I also got to hold a bunch of Zoom-workshops, courtesy of Support Act, where I chatted about mental health and hopefully helped some folks learn a little more about their minds, emotions and behaviour. I enjoyed facilitating workshops for Big Sound and would love to do more of this in the future. 

My tile for facilitator at BigSound2020

In the year coming… I would like to tick off one full year to my provisional registration, hold more workshops (in person and online) and create more impactful and visible psychology and self-development content with passionate, like-minded people.

Friends & Family

This year, I got to spend a lot more time with friends and family. Thanks to COVID, I was forced to make the effort to catch up with people and spend quality time with people whose company I enjoy. I’m grateful for the amazing people I have in my life and would love to continue to invest in my relationships and make an ongoing committment to be present and generous with the people who matter most to me. 

My Baby Shower Oct 2020

In the year coming… I would like to continue to enjoy the company of others, host dinners, play games, and keep in better contact with friends who live far from home.

Healthy Habits

This was the first full year where I committed to my healthy habits and I really committed. 

335 Days of German Practice (DuoLingo)

343 Days meditated (Insight Timer)

~330 Days of my gratitude practice, affirmations & journaling

I read 32 books

My Values Board for 2020

In the year coming… I would like to continue committing to these healthy habits, and add more exercise and healthy eating into the mix. I also started learning piano early this year, and going forward, I’d like to add that to my weekly habits too.

Savings & Contributions

Thanks to COVID, I surpassed my savings goal this year. Spending most of my 20’s being frivolous and carefree with money, I am proud of the discipline I have been able to show, and the system that has been put in place to put money aside regularly (Thanks, Barefoot Investor.)

In the year coming… I would like to hit a savings target! I would also like to make regular monthly contributions to a charity and learn more about investing. I would also like to start a savings account for Levon.

What didn’t go so well for me this year?


I didn’t make a great deal of progress with my phd and so as a result, feel quite behind with it. The shut down of the uni’s ethics portal and the impact of COVID didn’t help.

In the year coming… I would like hit some important milestones with the phd and make sure I am back up to speed with it.


I didn’t spend much time creating art this year and that disappoints me. I feel like it’s really something that does not get done unless I eke out specific time for it. 

In the year coming… I would like to make a regular time to create art, both digitally and off the computer. I would also love to attend a Clay Sydney class, and a Sip and Sketch class too!

Diet & Fitness

Due to my pregnancy, as well as COVID, I wasn’t able to commit to my exercise regimen as well as I would’ve liked and was not particularly concerned with healthy eating. As a result, I don’t feel great in my skin right now and many of my favourite clothes don’t currently fit me.

In the year coming… I want to commit to 5 sessions of exercise per week, including one yoga class, one weights-based class, and one cardio class. I would also like to organise & meal plan, so that we can order less take-out and make more healthy meals each week. Oh, and stop drinking so much Coca Cola…

What did I learn this year?

If the worst could happen, so could the best.

Throughout my pregnancy, I spent a great deal of time worrying about the worst case scenario. This took a great deal of effort (was super draining) and also robbed me of enjoying my pregnancy. Turns out that Levon is complete fine, healthy and thriving. While I can forgive myself for being anxious given the circumstances (COVID and weird ultrasounds, etc.), I can now acknowledge that uncertainty does not always equal disaster, and that if I am making room to consider the worst case scenarios, I should also make room to consider the best – because sometimes the best comes true.

We can feel multiple things at once.

This year, I have done so much better at accepting that emotions aren’t the bad guy. I have given myself permission to feel what I feel, and not try to force myself into feeling differently or stop feeling. This has been a hard thing to learn, as it can be tricky to distinguish if you’re allowing yourself to feel your feelings in a healthy and constructive way, or instead wallowing in them and allowing them to rule you. I think daily reflective mindful practices (including meditation and journalling) have really helped with this. It’s one this to accept this conceptually, something totally new to actually learn to do it. 

Some therapists just won’t be your person. 

The psychologist that I was seeing earlier this year was not the right fit for me. I didn’t feel super comfortable sharing with her, and didn’t feel confident in the strategies she was suggesting. Doesn’t make her bad, doesn’t make me flakey/a quitter. I’ll have to practice what I preach here, and understand that finding a great therapist can take time and energy. 

Cut yourself some slack. 

Once upon a time, I would have given myself a flogging for all the ways I fell short this year – my weight gain, or lack of phd progress or for neglecting my art practice or failing to continue with my regular piano practice – however, I now know that that does little to help motivate me into the future, and instead, would simply damage the relationship I have with myself which I’ve worked so hard to nurture. 2020 has been a tough year and I’ve learned that you don’t have to do everything all the time. Sometimes it’s enough to tend to what’s important for you in the moment. This year, it was growing a baby and working to become a better friend, mum and psychologist – and I’m proud of my efforts all round.