inspiring folk · it's all about me

Stick-ability or tick-ability?

Being fifty-something means my attention span is more important than ever. I have a Bucket List to pursue, a million and one ideas to explore, countless things to read, digest, ponder, experience and share.

If I don’t keep my nose firmly pressed to the grindstone, how will I ever manage it all? (Or even half?)

Clearly, I need some stick-ability, to be able to focus on one thing at a time and follow it through to completion. No distractions. No procrastinating. No excuses.

On the office wall, staring threateningly down over my desk, I have a little sign … a diminutive but powerful piece of do-it-now strategy, in just eleven words.

One thing at a time.

Most important thing first.

Start now.

I should probably get that printed on a tshirt.

Or tattooed on my forearm.

Or chiselled into my headstone.

Just to remind me what I should be doing. Or should have done.

Of course, I blame my lack of focus on the digital world: the accelerated pace of 21st century living, the demands of family, the lure of the internet (always) and the expectation of 24/7 availability that smart phones and wifi have constructed for us.

Which reminds of an intriguing snippet of stick-ability folklore I learnt of recently. Truth be told, I can’t stop thinking about it.

I was in a group, viewing a display of indigenous artefacts which I assumed were of Australian Aboriginal origin. The storyteller, a New Zealander, explained that a couple of the small hand-shaped axeheads were made of greenstone, probably by New Zealand Maori people.


Greenstone (or nephrite) was prized by the Maori people. You might have seen it shaped into pendants and jewellery, popular souvenirs for New Zealand tourists. It’s a super-hard material that’s not easily carved into axehead shapes. Or any other shapes for that matter.

Greenstone photo By The Evil Monkey on

Intriguing. So how did they manage it without mechanical equipment, not even a Dremel in sight?

It wasn’t so much a matter of tools or techniques … it was about time and focus. Nose to the grindstone. Shoulder to the wheel. A greenstone axehead could take more than a lifetime for a man to carefully, laboriously shape.

What the …?

Traditionally a man would start the process and then pass the partly shaped axehead on to his son to finish, long after he’d gone.

A finished greenstone axehead could be the product of two or even three generations.

Now that’s stick-ability – an attention span to aspire to.

Imagine dedicating your lifetime to a single project, knowing that you would never see the finished product.


I’ve had sweaters that have taken me a couple of seasons to knit.

Knitting photo by stephalicious on

I’m currently midst a renovation project that’s stretched out for more than a decade.

I know people who have been chipping away at university studies towards a degree for longer again.

But always, there’s the hope of wearing the sweater, relaxing in the just-as-you-imagined-it-finished home or skipping gleefully across the graduation stage in an academic cloak and mortarboard to collect your degree.

I’m not sure the pleasure of passing on a half-carved greenstone axehead to the next generation would float my motivation boat.

I’m more self-serving than that.

Turns out I’m seeking tick-ability rather than stick-ability.

Forget the greenstone. Let the next generation think up their own projects.

I need to get ticking and flicking on my bucket list.

To experience the warm glow of that ticking-off endorphin bliss (for myself) once in a while.

Starting now. Right now. As soon as I check my Facebook.

11 thoughts on “Stick-ability or tick-ability?

  1. My attention span has always been…unreliable at best. And the flittiness of the Internet definitely makes it about 100 times worse. But I find that long-term projects like knitting or spinning help settle my jangled brain–not sure how I’d feel about a project as long-term as a greenstone axe head, though!

    1. I hear what you’re saying, Karen. Maybe it’s about running parallel projects, some for their relaxation values, some for excitement and immediate gratification, some for tick-ability. Bugger! It seems to always come back to balance, doesn’t it? S. 🙂

  2. The way the greenstone carving was described to us, when we lived in New Zealand, is that they use sand to start the process of chipping away the outer rock, which is a sort of mottled brown. They mix the sand and water, and just keep scrubbing until the stone is all green. Then they had many tools that they used to carve what they were inspired to carve. My friend told me that they pray to their gods to guide them in releasing the spirit of the stone. (How cool is that?!) It is a very long process, but at the end of the day, the stone is a prized and valuable posession. They call it the Maori jade. I have several beautiful pieces that were given as gifts when we left NZ. The hook, called a Kuru, by the way, is given to people travelling over water. It is meant to appease and call on the gods to protect them. LOVE learning things like that.

    Focus isn’t hard for me once I start something. It is the getting started part that I tend to be lazy about. Maybe because there is always so much I have to do, rather than want to do, that I just can’t get motivated.

    You know, I don’t know that I have all that much on my “bucket list” these days. There are a few places I still want to go see, and I want to learn to paint, but other than that, I have pretty much completed all of my wish list. Huh, never thought of that before now.

    1. Thanks, Karron, for sharing your knowledge on greenstone with us. It is indeed a fascinating material and an intriguing culture. I’ve never been to NZ, let alone lived there. Though I do have a client there and have been writing (in my day job) about NZ holiday destinations. Thinking a journey across “the ditch” could be in order very soon. might have to add it to my Bucket List. S. 🙂

      1. You are most welcome. It is the teacher in me that always comes out when I have information to share. Sorry if that was too long a response.

        I like the term stickability, I think it may be the total opposite to my “coming unmanufactured” that strikes around here so often.

  3. Now I have a new term I can use! When I’m ramble or distracted, I can just say, “please excuse me, my stick-ability is misfiring right now.” Here, I was beginning to think I was developing something I needed to be tested for….then again, my family, may tell me otherwise. lol

    1. No tests necessary, Denise. And you can deflect the family by saying you’ve been diagnosed with Stick-ability. Said with authority, I believe it will pass for medical terminology. 🙂 S.

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