Yesterday I picked up our boys from school and like clockwork youngest son asked his daily question on the car ride home, ‘Mum was your bucket filled today?’

The bucket he is referring to is like an invisible happiness thermometer and depending on how you feel, what you do or what others say or do will determine whether your bucket will be filled. If your bucket is filled this means you are happy. If your bucket is not filled it means that you are not happy and did not have a good day.

Just before my boys school pick up, I had shared and explained this ‘bucket’ concept at a meeting with another young creative. We were discussing the challenges of basically being your own boss, the importance of boundaries and protecting ourselves to ensure that we can create sustainable spaces for the work we are both very passionate about creating #EnablingPasifikaVoices #SharingPasifikaStories

The conversation naturally led to sharing our ‘bucket filler’ strategies. Mentally needing time and space to rest and reflect on our work. Exercise to try to keu le fika I have left #LOL, spending time with kids or loved ones and most importantly – protecting our buckets from ‘bucket dippers’.

My youngest son told me once that bucket dippers are ‘people that steal away the stuff in your bucket mum’, basically preventing you from reaching your happiness quota.

I’ve found through experience that there are those that unconsciously dip from our buckets without realising, even though they have good intentions overall. Like when you are asked to do things people can and should do for themselves or when people don’t realise that they take #YourTime #YourEnergy #YourSoulLOL and in actual fact give you nothing in return.

Then there are the bucket dippers who have holes in their own buckets, the most dangerous ones in my opinion. And for many different reasons these people try to take from your bucket to fill their own, but until they fix these holes #PersonalIssues #Brokenness, their bucket will unfortunately never be filled.

This is why setting boundaries are so important and highlights an important rule I was taught as a young teacher – ‘What you allow, you teach, you enable’. If you allow bucket dippers in, you teach them that it is okay – you enable their behaviour, you enable their negativity and issues to burn holes in your own bucket. This then leads to the scariest part where you then risk becoming a bucket dipper yourself because at the end of the day #MiseryLovesCompany.

Another upside to boundaries is that it will actually point out the hidden bucket dippers in your life. Some bucket dippers where masks acting like friends and family #RealFriends&FamilyAreBucketFillersBTW, which can make it really hard but I was recently told that people don’t change, they just reveal who they truly are #BelieveWhatYouSee.

Then once cut off these bucket dippers are usually not good at understanding and will continue to question why, never really acknowledging their own behaviour and attitudes as the cause. Other behaviours include getting upset, angry even, talking behind your back, being allergic to talking straight, trying to blame and even shame you because they don’t have access to your bucket anymore and are left to deal with their own holes – well at least you pray and hope they do.

It has taken major life lessons and experiences for me to learn about this bucket system and the importance of setting boundaries to protect my own bucket – especially in light of the passing of my mother earlier this year #Nearly8Months😇. But the best part of having your bucket protected and full is that you can clearly see the buckets that deserve your love, respect and support. These are the other buckets I choose to fill.

For instance, just this week my bucket was filled up by daily morning walks and chats about exciting developments for hubsta’s business #EmpowermentTraining, getting to bed earlier and back into my intermittent fasting regime, a life chat with my palagi sister #ChildhoodFriend, sister check in, kids sibling school photo that looks too cute to be real, snuggling with giant children who still ask to be hugged like babies #LOL, weekly siva class with my old Meko girls, lunch date with dad, daily signs from mum, prayers, meditation and receiving positive feedback about my Teine Samoa Project.

As a result I have been able to fill other people’s buckets this week by creating a video on behalf of my Gray family for our family in Brisbane, brainstorming with my amazing illustrator #MrDarcy, supporting another Pasifika creative #ValleyNow, celebrating the opening of a fellow Pasifika entrepreneur’s make up studio #IAM, randomly taking a Cook Island siva class for tamaiti at our local community hub, completing the 2nd edition of Teine Samoa #ComingSoon! Then having the energy to teach at the end of the week.

So as we pulled up to our house and our car came to a stop at the end of our driveway, youngest son jumps out of the car and asks, ‘Mum did anyone steal any stuff from your bucket?’ Overwhelmed with gratitude thinking about the lessons of my week so far, I smile and reply, ‘No son because no bucket dippers are allowed near my bucket.’

Author: Dahlia Malaeulu

dah·li·a (dah-lee-ya) / noun: a flower that is widely cultivated for its impact and coloured personality / adj: abundant, bright, bold, fresh, ready-to-bloom / human form: daughter, mother, wife, educator, problem solver, creative, teine Sāmoa / working on: creating more brown spaces in the world / currently: moving in the write direction.

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