Three words, five stickies and seven months

More than half of the year has already passed, which means that it is a good time to reflect back on my choice of words for the year.

Focus, treasure and design.

Since I stumbled upon this three words exercise at the close of 2009, it has worked consistently well for me. It is timely to check back and see how the 2013 mantra is holding up.

Early in the year, I also found started the quirky “five stickie” plans for my weekends. The five stickies aim to bring a bit of balance, carpe diem and inspiration into my free time and they are also guided by the three words. I need to take care of those practical and organisation tasks (focus), as well as prioritising my physical and emotional well being (treasure) and ensure that I take time for the creative things which are important in my life (design). The plans works incredibly well, possibly because it is so simple. And five is not too big a number!!

My niece has also adopted the three word approach, and I am so inspired when she posts regularly on Facebook with an update on how the words are working for her. And this prompted my thoughts for a mid year (ish) reflection on my words.

So how are they doing?


This is long overdue!  I feel as if I have been floundering a bit, especially with my writing.  I also see the need to bring a bit more order into most areas of my life.  I am a bit of a butterfly – I flit about from one thing to another.  My attention is easily drawn by something new and interesting.  Ideas are not a problem.  Or perhaps they are.  I have so many that I tend to move onto an exciting new though as the inspiration strikes. I love ideas and where they take me.  I like far less the graft of shaping and working with them through to fruition.  And that is why I need to focus. I have a number of embryonic writing projects.  Some more embryonic than others, and I recognised to need to prioritise and organise these projects if I want to see anything realised!  Hence “focus”.  And not surprisingly this has been the hardest one to work on.  The five stickie plan really helps, as one or two of the five of each weekend’s stickies must relate to “focus”.  I have taken time to better organise my electronic filing and writing work, spent time sorting and binning papers and junk which I am incredibly skilled at amassing and I have taken time to plan and prioritise my main projects”.  A friend also introduced me to the Pomidoro time management tool and I find it works incredibly well for me both personally and professionally. I am much more focused when I know I have 25 minute chunks of time, and then 5 minutes to stand up, check email, make a cup of tea or even just to go to the window and look at the clouds!  Perhaps there has been progress then, I realise.


My second word is treasure, both the verb and the noun.  This has been painful, if I am honest.  I knew this year would be difficult and in March I spent the last week I ever would with my father. I cannot express how much I treasure that time and those memories.  They can never be taken away and always be cherished.  My break in Malaysia just a few weeks ago was a time to reflect, heal and recover and those days are also ones I treasure, holding the warm sensation of rest close and real for as long as I can.  Treasure also features in the weekly stickie plans and is a reminder to focus on my own wellbeing too, with time or space for the soul and self.


This is my third word, both about creativity but also taking control and being deliberate and proactive.  It relates closely to focus and I have again made sure to set aside time and energy for the creative side. For balance and harmony. I realise that the five stickie strategy (is this getting boring yet?) has worked really well to keep that focus.  I continue to enjoy learning and experimenting in both the writing group and Photography club here – pushing boundaries and really surprising myself.

Frangipani blossom, just landed

So I guess I am happy to report that the words are working their magic for me. And soon I will need to start thinking about three words for the coming year!  What a treat! J

The Five Stickie Plan

How many times do you get to a Sunday evening, as the sun sets on the weekend, and you wonder where the weekend disappeared to?  And moreso, what did you do during the “rest days”.  Has yet another weekend been squandered?

This is something very much at the forefront of my thoughts, in the “carpe diem” mood which characterises the very specific increment of time “between checks in a hopefully post treatment phase”.  I feel almost a sense almost of urgency. Of “carpe that diem”. Because you just don’t know what’s ahead.  And if I were to tumble from this very precarious path that is NED, (which I am not exactly firmly upon if I am to be honest with myself) I want to have no regrets that I have squandered away good health time and not maintained a sensible work life balance.  A great deal of time is dedicated to my amazing but highly demanding day job, so the weekend is particularly precious.

A few weeks ago, with a weekend looming and the compulsion to make the most of it ever present, I pulled out some of my cute fluorescent sticky post-it notes to jot down a few reminders of things I wanted to do over the weekend. To avoid that very “where did the weekend go and what on earth did I actually do?” pang on the Sunday evening.

I scrawled “toe nails” on the first sticky and “finish reading my book” on another.  The fact that Book Club was meeting on the Monday was not in the slightest coincidental!

I know that the number 3 is much more auspicious than 2, so cycle and/or swim quickly appeared on another sticky.  I was on a roll.  I knew I wanted to commit a blog post to the world’s wide web and so the commitment to work on a subject in my mind and publish it, appeared on a fourth sticky.   Another less auspicious number was balanced by the need to be disciplined and work on my electronic clutter of creativity.  Sticky 5 instructed me to work for a couple of hours at least on organising my writing files.

I loved this. A 5-sticky Plan to shape my weekend, with a mix of doable, enjoyable and necessary things to do.  Not too many and not too few either.

Then I realised something else. Perhaps by coincidence, or perhaps guided subconsciously the 5 things to do sat very sweetly and comfortably within the scope of my three words for the year.  The organising task was part of my need to “focus”,  the wellbeing tasks (pedicure and swim/cycle) a reminder of “treasure” and the prompt to read my book and write a blog post is captured by the creative “design”.  A simple planning and implementation system with a built in monitoring framework had been born for my three words!!

Now I know that this must come across as somewhat nerdy, and more than a little cheesy.  But it makes absolute sense to me, and more importantly – it works.  Four weeks later, I approach my weekends with 5 sticky post-it notes.  I have even had some fun putting together some thoughts and ideas just in case inspiration fails me any time as a weekend draws near.

Who knows, this may not last. But for now, I like it. and it gives me an excuse to loiter in stationery shops and stock on emergency stocks of cute sticky post-it notes.

This week's five sticky plan

And this weekend?  Well it is late on Sunday afternoon, and I wrote this (longhand) as I was enjoying a foot massage which of course was one of the 5 sticky tasks.  Yesterday, I had fun sorting a heap of photographs, and I visited 2 galleries with friends.  I have finished my Book Club book and have a list of ideas for future blog posts.

I am ready for the week ahead, feeling refreshed and satisfied with my weekend.  And I am looking forward to the following weekend and trying not to commit to my 5 stickies too early as the ideas flow.


Up to speed

Some housekeeping is overdue!

I have been remiss in caring for the bloglet, and with updating on news from my end.  The last thing I remember, I was packing bags on January 2 and heading for Bangkok for the additional and scary review with Dr W2.  Now it is January 13 and I am not sure what has been happening in between times.

That is not entirely true, actually.  Life has been happening.

As soon as I arrived in Bangkok, I swung immediately into the “preparing for the tests” mindset with the gritted teeth and clenched knuckles that accompanies and characterises that tense time.  I moved through the checks like an automaton and was spat out the other side in one day.  Exhausted, numb and emotionally drained.    The main things to check were the clottability factor due to the embolism and of course, the dreaded tumour markers. In a nutshell, I have been released back into the wide world again and will be reviewed again in another three months.  The cloattability is pretty stable which is fine, although I do have that checked regularly in Yangon too so was not hugely concerned about that.  It was the tumour marker which was stressing me.  The important thing about the markers is the trend rather than the individual result, so it is important to see this over a period of time and a number of tests.  I knew that a further increase would be the most worrying scenario and was very glad that although the markers are still above the reference range, they have decreased slightly.  So now we just have to see how a trend plays out over the coming months, but I do have some reassurance and can breathe out for now.

That gave me a day in Bangkok to do around a week’s worth of chores and tasks and before I knew it I was back at Bangkok airport waiting to board the return flight to Yangon, along with a number of friends and colleagues also returning after the seasonal break.  I arrived home without incident, unpacked, ate, went to bed all set for the first day back after my break.  And indeed, before very long the alarm woke me, I forced myself to get up in the pitch dark, put on my swimming stuff, and some warmer clothing and shake the dust off my bike in a return to my morning routine before work.

The days have thus been full, with the early start in the cool (and now even cold) Yangon mornings and intense activity at work so my first weekend has been very welcome although it has brought quite a backlog with it.  Hence a game of catch up and a need for bloggish housekeeping.

While I was in Bangkok, I took advantage of the superfast internet and uploaded a few photos.  I decided to change the background picture here, and decided eventually on this image.

Angkor Birthday

This is a photograph from my visit to Angkor (Siem Reap) in Cambodia last year, a wonderful adventure and a truly confidence building exercise.  I loved the ruined temples, and especially the way nature and the temples have evolved with tree roots holding the structures together in some places and dividing them in others.  I was continually struck and by the resultant impression of man-made and natural elements in complete fusion.  As well as being a photograph I like, it has particular happy associations and that is how I would like to set the tone for the on my background.  There are many more photographs on the sister (photography) blog.

As we move into 2013, I remain enthused by my three word mantra (focus, treasure and design) and am embracing the coming year.  I am taking the time to focus in on what I want to achieve and draw up clear goals for my year.  And in a beautiful and unexpected gift I received from a friend and colleague, I have the perfect reminder.  A pair of stunning Feisty Blue Gecko earrings, something to keep me focused, to treasure and of an intricate and precious design.


So with a galloping account of hospital visits, early mornings, plans and goals, Cambodian temples and opal earrings, I trust that I am now getting back up to speed.