This week’s storyhack is a guest post from my best friend and husband, Euan Smith. He is and continues to be a constant inspiration to me in a world that is hampered by mediocrity and conformism.


“Aren’t you bored yet ?”, said no plover, ever.


In 2016 I found myself in a fortunate position. I was able to choose to step off the corporate hamster wheel for a time, well before my aspirations for ‘retirement’ had been reduced to milky tea & a nice lie-down.


My news, which I positioned as something like a ‘late gap year’, was received by those I told with varying degrees of respect, happiness & jealousy. I get all that. As said, I know I was lucky. But what fascinated me most was the frequency with which people asked, of myself and my family – “Is he bored yet ?” The regularity with which the question appeared was remarkable. Over assorted lunch dates former colleagues smiled and asserted definitively that “you’ll get bored in a few months”. Friends peered over their coffees to ask with concern – “How are you filling your days ?” Two headhunters recoiled in shock when I politely passed up their shiny baubles.


But it’s such a great opportunity.”


No. Extended time out was the great opportunity. A ‘once in a lifetime’ blue-chip job it may well have been, but not this lifetime.




March 2016. I am in J-Bay in South Africa. This morning I rose early to stroll the majesty of the beach. At this hour it is delightfully free of humans. In the lull, under skies already cobalt, wildlife has temporarily reclaimed the world. Black-backed gulls tentatively explore a stranded jellyfish. A prowling mongoose slithers frustrated into bleached grasses as I approach. Out on the rocks a group of cormorants gossip as they hold out their wings to dry. It occurs to me that, like all anglers, even birds that fish seem inclined to exaggerate the size of their catch.


Where the wet caramel sand gives way to powdery white a small plover is working. She is hard to spot amongst the bric-a-brac of shells & driftwood; only her darting movement gives her away. From this distance her body is as smooth and pebbly as those that surround her. She perches totteringly on spindly legs, colours muted and flecked through, like an upside-down cappuccino. Her small head, equally mottled, flicks from side to side. She is perpetually caught in two minds – between the need to feed & the need not to become food. She pauses and turns towards me. Even against the white of the sand her snowy breast is dazzling. Abruptly she sets off at speed down the beach, legs peddling crazily, head bent low like a granny with a shopping trolley. And then, just as abruptly, she comes to a dead stop, rises like a queen. “Running ? What ? One ? Good heavens, no !”


And then she does it again.


I follow her at a respectful distance as she scours the sand, urgently stabbing her short needle beak when an insect is uncovered. Her industry is intense. She bursts into a run again for no apparent reason, then pulls up short, suddenly wondering if she left the gas on.


A dove sized bird with greenfinch plumage explodes from a frondy palm, screaming an alarm. ‘Waiki ! Waiki ! Waiki !’. I wonder briefly if mongooses can climb trees. And then I wonder if the correct term should be ‘mongeese’ ?




Perhaps all the ‘boredom’ questions came from ego, from a desire to protect our place in the world, a need to maintain status quo. Passion-riddled entrepreneurs and ladder climbers aside, I observe so many people walking soullessly through their careers, counting the hours until they can escape. They live life in their vacations & retirement, create bucket lists that they immediately consign to fantasy. We complain endlessly about monotonous meetings, about repetitive, vegetative tasks. We complain about being pulled away from our families at weekends, about having to attend yet another social event / conference / sales pitch with the boss / client / accounts team. And yet I found that when I consciously created space away from all those obligations, all the crazy noise (which many profess is also their dream) I seemed to touch an open nerve. We can all rationalise our own fears away when some hippie bails to start up a pottery in Devon, but not when one of the ‘normal’ ones steps out ? And so the default seemed to be that many created a story, a hope, that I would somehow be unfulfilled, that I would crave a return asap with my tail between my legs. “Phew. He’s back. I knew it. I’m ok.”


I watched Miss Plover for almost an hour. It felt like ten minutes.


Not once was I bored.


I came back, in my own time. With new perspective, a new story and (I think) much the better for the time away. If you can engineer it, stepping off the hamster wheel just to see what happens, is 100% the way to go.






The power to change is in the subtle – which is why most people miss it.


This month, I journeyed to Sacred Ground International in Montana, US. It is a place beyond time. A space full of respect and honour for all life. A place where the teaching comes fast for those who are able to embrace and hold it. I think of the land as the portal into the deepest story we are capable of imagining and sensing.

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Restorying Life Podcast – A New Story of Sustainability

Join Genevieve Boast, Founder of Beyond Human Stories as she adventures into the new territory of restorying sustainability. Over the next 6 months, she will dialogue with change makers, visionaries, elders and story hackers, discovering how human resilience and invention is transforming the old stories for good. These ‘bright spots’ of innovation are the forerunners for a new story of sustainability on Earth. They serve as inspirations and reminders for each of us to choose how we will participate in the change all around us.

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Many people over the last few weeks have been asking me to describe in detail the process of storyhacking. What does it mean and how do we consciously work with its transformative elements to create change in our lives?


So here is my Storyhacking 101.

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This weekend I was gifted with a 48 hour period away from my normal story. My wonderful husband booked us into a tree house yoga retreat in the forest just outside of Sydney (at the amazing Billabong). It was just what my soul had ordered, yet the outcome was not exactly what I was expecting. In fact, what I ran up against as I came to my yoga mat multiple times each day was the strength of my own inner resistance.

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