The Extraordinary Ritual I do Every New Year’s Eve

It’s not too late. Life Imagineering works on any date

In 2006, I moved into an old apartment above a French furniture store. 

Smoking was not permitted and there was no letterbox. I also couldn’t hang any artwork because there were no picture rails. My paintings and photography were too heavy for plastic hooks. All my student pictures, photos I had blown up and printed, and Chinese propaganda art sat on the floor and leaned against the walls instead. 

I was happy. And not happy. I turned thirty. And was single again. I asked questions like, ‘Is that all there is’? 

Then I made a decision. A new year’s resolution. I decided it was the Last Place I Would Rent. Ever. 

My vision was of freedom to paint walls. Freedom to drill holes. It didn’t have to be a palace. It just had to be affordable to buy. And I had to love it enough to stay for a few years. 

I imagined a leafy, private garden with dappled sunlight. An apple tree. A bird bath. Greek mythical statuary. I dreamed of my little oasis. And the universe conspired to help me.

In May 2008, four months before the collapse of Lehman Brothers (and the beginning of the western financial crisis) I bought my little cottage. I still live here and love it to bits! It is my forever house. 

backyard with freshly mown grass and large apple tree on right with yellow house in background.
Picture of the back of my house taken in about 2015 after mowing. Source Author.

Every new year’s eve I do this ritual. It is life-affirming and life-engineering. It’s exhilarating and powerfully effective. It is the process of bringing dreams to reality.

What you need.

Create a psychologically safe and happy place. When in the week do you feel best? Saturday morning is it for me. I love listening to the meditation hypnosis of Paul McKenna. Guided hypnosis is part of my daily routine. This may help you relax and see the opportunities around you.

Gratitude Reflection on the year just gone

  1. First things first, what are you proud of last year?

2. What have you achieved this year? The answer could be anything meaningful to you.

3. What are you grateful for?

4. When were you happiest?

Write down a paragraph that includes your achievements, gratitude, and key lessons in your notebook like this.

I have achieved...

I am grateful for…

I was happy when

Ask each other the full question and take turns.

Nothing injects confidence like achieving a life goal

Whether it is buying a house, getting to your ideal body shape, or mastering a skill you’ve been grappling with for years, nothing injects pure, authentic confidence in yourself than your achievements.

LifeBook program is similar to this one and uses 12 categories. It seems to be a successful program. If you can afford the Life Book program, I say go for it! For me, twelve is too many for a New Year’s Eve. But the principles are the same.

Four Categories, Three Goals for each

I use four categories in a diamond shape. I then devise three goals (maximum) for each category. 

I call them Mind, Body, Heart, and Soul. You can include any key things you would like to achieve in one year but put them under one of these relevant facets. Money and career I put under Mind. You put them where they fit best for you.

Dream up your vision

It starts with the vision. You have to see it clearly in your mind in order to bring it into being. Here are a few questions to help.

Imagine it is 12 months from now. 

I don’t know how it works, but it does.

It is the act of writing it down that helps things be manifested. It isn’t magic, but when you are intentional, things happen. You automatically make decisions—small and big—that drive you toward your goals.


In twelve months, how do you feel? 

How do you want to look?

Is there a health issue you need to address? What would be the ideal outcome? 

What could you realistically accomplish in one year?

You could include things like fitness goals, weight loss or weight gain, and eating goals. 

Write down three things you want to achieve for Body.

Then, the next step is to decide what you need to do to achieve them?

For example, if you want to shift some weight, do you need a few hand weights to exercise? Do you want to start with daily walking? What are the practical considerations? 

Draw an arrow next to the goal, and give yourself a few tools you can, realistically and affordably, use to help you get there. Sure, a gymnasium membership might do it, but when will you have time to go? Maybe a daily walk around the block will be more achievable and help you hit the goal.


What do you want to know or learn? What skill would you like to have?

What is your next career step? What course do you want to start/finish/continue?

What books do you want to read?

What excites your brain? 

One year, my goal was ‘Write every day’. It has to be achievable and inside your control. I can’t state a goal that is ‘Get published in XYZ magazine’ because I can’t control whether something will be accepted.

But I can make a goal to submit something to XYZ magazine. No surprises, that’s my goal again. Submit to blah blah blah.


Relationships fall into the heart facet. 

How do I want to love and honour my partner?

How can I dedicate more time to playing with my kids? To giving them the best life?

What adventures can we have together?

How can I acknowledge and thank my customers and clients?

Think about the way you conduct your relationships. That includes friendships, family, customers, and colleagues. 

Choose three simple goals. Write them down.

Then draw an arrow and write how you are going to get there.


The Soul goals are for you and relate to your life purpose. What do you really, really care about? 

I would think about philanthropy and donations here. Where will I Give? If you don’t have money, you may have time or a skill. Everyone has a skill that can help others.

What resonates with you?

How do you want to leave a legacy?

How would you like to earn your living?

How would you like to live?

How important is money? What will you do with your money?

How would you like to make a positive impact?

Bushfire prevention? 

Sustainability and climate action? 

Animal protection? 

All of these things are amazing. What is the one thing that lifts you to your higher ground?

Final advice

Think of simple actions you can take every day or week to move you toward your goals.

Remember, twelve months might be enough time to achieve a milestone on a longer journey that could be three years down the track. The milestone itself could be a goal. Make it easy on yourself.

I am so proud of you! You are no longer a passenger in your life. You’re not drifting from one situation to another, powerless, floating with the current. You’ve got an oar. Your kayaking! You are amazing!

Life is an adventure!

Good for you! Now go for it!

For some people, getting vaccinated is scarier than getting COVID

Jill* (not her real name) is a caring and fit early childhood teacher who has had to leave the career she loves and quit her job at the age of 60 because she refuses the vaccine. In my State, it is mandatory that early childhood and other workers have been vaccinated against COVID.

Jill is adamant. She will not be vaccinated. Why? She is a Christian and believes we are now at the end of our civilisation. The vaccine, as she sees it, is the mark of the beast.

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The Choke by Sofie Laguna: Review

The title of this book is apt. The choke is something I felt from the first moment. It’s also the main thing you worry about when you have small children.

While the book is not about strangulation, it is about children and adults who have not progressed much beyond the infantile. The vulnerability is palpable.

It starts with a frantic kids’ fight. Justine (Jussy) has teeth that are struggling through the gums. She is about six years old. It’s so vivid you can feel the power in her little legs.

We don’t know much about her yet, except that she is playing with big boys and one of them has access to a rifle. Continue reading

My best life advice for my children

I write these basic life rules with my children in mind.  These are the philosophical breadcrumbs I’ve used throughout my life. Wherever the destination, this is the course.

They are not unique but they are deeply cogitated, not imported without critical reflection. They include learning, money, kindness, spirit, God, and daily life.

One or two I was raised to believe. One or two are the opposite. So you will need to make up your own mind.

For what it’s worth, this is what I think.

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Walks with Margaret and Jonty

Twelve years ago I bought a little cottage in a village far away from everyone. Margaret was a near neighbor. She was the first person to knock on the door and welcome me.

Margaret walked her dog—Katie at the time, later Jonty—past the house every morning at eight and every afternoon at four.

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Military Blunders in the War Against Terror



I recently saw a Super 8 video filmed by an acquaintance at a Cambodian hospital. The subject was a young man who had to have three men hold him down so that gangrene could be scraped from the inside of his amputated thigh.

It is easy to be caught in a western fog that amputations, which result from landmines are clinical, that anaesthetic is administered and that recovery is sound. In reality, the victim’s limb may be hacked off in order to get out of the minefield. Victims commonly lose both, not just one of their legs, as well as their penis and testicles. Some victims ask to be murdered as they lay in blood and shock, unable to move. Later, artificial limbs are usually rudimentary and awkward. Continue reading

You probably know someone with MS who is keeping it secret

This World Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Day, you may spare a thought for those affected by this chronic, debilitating disease. You may not realise, however, that there are people you meet every day with MS who are keeping it secret from you.

Early this year, Jamie-Lynn Sigler – who played the daughter of Tony Soprano in the TV show The Sopranos – revealed that she has the disease. The announcement came 15 years after her diagnosis. Like me, she’s been in the closet with MS.

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The Fracture & Other Shorts

The Fracture and other short stories: seven original pieces of short fiction including:

• Dystopian sci-fi goes freerolling in The Fracture

• The meditative Zen & The Art of Washing Dishes

• Taste some irreverent Australian humour in The 45-Minute Chair and The Benley Acquisition

and other short pieces.

Get your copy from

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Go on, download your free copy of the  Book right here [pdf]

It’s your subscriber gift. Here’s the cover to look at.

ebook cover

Reckoning by Magda Szubanski

I love Magda Szubanski. I’ve loved her since I was a kid. She’s a true comic. Her humour is borne out of acerbic intelligence and astute observation. She can pull a fully formed character out of the collective unconscious and breathe them into being.

Reckoning is expansive and it covers all of her life from early childhood to today. Instead of being delivered through a ‘story of my success’ type framework, Magda is ensconced in her heritage and history. Continue reading

Panic Hour


It’s eight in the morning. An escalator pulls me down from the street into the intestinal darkness. Streaks of lightning blue rush past my left shoulder, Photoshop motion-blur. Same in orange on the opposite wall, like this is an immersive internet advertisement. This tunnel is the cable. We are the particles. A unitary quantum system with a single wave function. I adjust the weight of my satchel and start plodding into the dim crowd. Continue reading

The Man Who Loves Music

With a name as unpretentious as Les Hodge, it’s hard to imagine the impact he’s had on the music industry. From marketing huge acts like Kate Bush, The Rolling Stones and Queen, to coming up with the name Ticketek, Les has left fingerprints everywhere. Now he is responsible for bringing some of the world’s most beautiful classical music into Australia, and the Southern Highlands is its first port. Continue reading

The Benley Acquisition

I’m at the bar, chugging orange juice with my mates, and we’re laughing at each other’s pov jokes. Nuns Frightened by Change. That’s the name of Friday night’s band at the Landula Criterion. Our band, as it happens. It’s our first gig. ‘The Nuns’ are two mates in my year and me. I’m called the percussionist. That means I play drums and, occasionally, I whack a thong on a bongo. Continue reading

From the Village to the Brothel

After nearly 30 hours of flights, the city of Kathmandu was awash with blood and there were headless carcases of horse-sized beasts on every corner. In my shock, I sent a sarcastic email to family saying that the entrails lining the streets to herald my arrival was an absolutely lovely gesture.

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Mining Industry Propaganda

The recent Australian mining industry campaign (not shown above) certainly looks impressive. The soulful, worried faces of mums and dads, average looking, average people. It seems so believable and important.  Even if the statistics are the result of heavy-handed play with definitions as basic as “tax”. Continue reading

Bundanoon Says NO to Bottled Water

evian label as naive

July 9th, 2009

“Australians spend half a billion dollars every year on bottled water that we could get for free from a tap, but we complain when petrol goes up a few cents a litre,” said Jon Dee, Founder of Planet Ark and Do Something at a public meeting held in Bundanoon Memorial Hall on July 8th.

“We’ve been conned and they’re laughing all the way to the bank.”

Residents of the Southern Highlands village, known for its national park, pristine water and cycling paths, voted almost unanimously to back moves which will see Bundanoon as the first bottled water-free town in Australia.

The initiative, known as Bundy on Tap, would see businesses no longer selling bottled water and fresh, clean drinking water available in shops, on the street, at school and at events. A reusable bottle will be manufactured which can be refilled, as opposed to the single-use plastic bottles manufactured by most water companies.

Bundy on Tap is the brainchild of local businessman, Huw Kingston, organiser of mountain bike race Highland Fling and proprietor of Ye Old Bicycle Shoppe café.

Huw, Jon Dee and local business representative, Peter Stewart, spoke to attendees about the environmental damage, health impact and marketing lunacy of the still, single use bottled water industry.

While local business is behind the idea, measures are still being explored for ways to ensure their sustainability.

“We will lose money immediately, but we hope that it will bring a few more people and they’ll buy a few more newspaper,” said Peter.

With support from the community, a working group was formed and Jon Dee became an enthusiastic participant six weeks ago.

“The catalyst for the plan has been the ongoing battle against NORLEX, a company that has been trying unsuccessfully for more than 12 years, to bore Bundanoon’s aquifer for the bottled water industry,” said Huw.

“Although this campaign is not an attack on NORLEX, it has meant that Bundanoon is very aware of water issues.”

It takes 1,000 years to decompose a plastic bottle with 70 per cent currently ending up in landfill or oceans. Conservative estimates state that more than 15 million litres of oil is used each year in the manufacture and distribution of bottled water in Australia alone. Others believe this figure is much higher.

At the meeting, health impacts were also raised. The conspicuous absence of fluoride in the 1,000+ brands of bottled water sold is raising the concern of some dentists, especially for children.

Jon Dee says that the belief that bottled water is somehow cleaner or better for health is a fallacious perception.

“They’ve been taste tests all around the world and no-one can tell the difference. The spin that goes into it, we’ve bought it hook, line and sinker. The fact is there are huge amounts of money to be made selling water, more than soft drinks or sugary drinks.”

After a morning that started at 5am with ABC interviews, the team of three had conducted some 70 interviews with global reach, including CNN, NHK Japan, Sydney Morning Herald, BBC, and the Times of London. Appearances were also scheduled for Channel 7’s Sunrise and Nine’s Today Show this morning.

The morning’s media blitz was followed at lunch time with an announcement by Premier Nathan Rees that he would be banning all bottled water from government departments.

“If we had have paid for this PR, the bill would be in the millions,” said Jon. “We haven’t even sent a media release yet. The media is behind us.”

Culligan Water and Street Furniture Australia, who have already installed public water stations in Manly, have promised to donate three water stations to Bundanoon, one of which is earmarked for the primary school, if the town goes bottled water-free. The combined value of the water stations is $18,000.

The crowded, standing room only meeting included residents, businesses, councillors including Pru Goward, journalists and camera crews, needed little encouragement to vgote yes for the initiative.

Jon Dee who helped Coles Bay in Tasmania be the first of many towns in Australia to go plastic bag-free, said “fifty councils are now in touch with us to do the same. They all want someone to do it first. Bundanoon will provide a role model for everyone in Australia.

Letter to my Accountant

Thank you for your very kind letter.

My initial tax meeting with your very pleasant sub-contracting accountant concluded with a statement I was not expecting to hear. Not the mellifluous, “you’ll be getting a refund of a grand.” Rather, the strong and discordant, “you owe the tax office two thousand dollars.”

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