On the mat, as in life

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I woke up feeling like hell this morning, I had a headache you could photograph, my neck was killing me and I felt a little bit like I’d been hit by a bus, not that I’m suitably qualified to know what being hit like a bus feels like, but permit me that little bit of artistic freedom.

Anyway, I had some plans that I was really looking forward to that I had to cancel. One was a writers group Skype and another a coaching group Skype. I felt bad doing it, but my usual sparkling wit and charm were well hidden behind the headache and I couldn’t have concentrated in any case.

So what did I do? I laid on the mattress in the lounge room that we moved out from our bedroom after a series of 41 degree days. We have beautiful air conditioning in the lounge, but not the bedroom. We haven’t bothered moving it back since as it’s been a bit like having a camping holiday and we’ve enjoyed it.

So there I laid all day and we binge watched The Outlander on Netflix, gees it’s good! I had planned to go to yoga tonight, as I promised myself to recommit to my practice and so far I’ve done it, after all it’s been a whole week and a bit since 2017 began and so far I’ve stuck to my goal! Cue pat on the back and puffed out chest.

As I felt so revolting I sent a text to my girlfriend who also happens to be my favourite yoga teacher (I have the BEST and most talented friends in the world I tell you, the BEST!) and asked what kind of lesson she had planned for the evening, which would help me decide if I could get my backside off the mattress or remain firmly planted. She asked me what I was craving, can you imagine? My request was for nurturing, stretching and reflection. Later she sent me a text telling me to get my arse on the mat at class tonight. How could I not go?

By about 4pm I could barely keep my eyes open, but given I had a special yoga class ahead of me, I really had no choice, I actually fell asleep about half an hour before I was due to leave.

So, off I went and walked my tired body into the studio and flopped onto my mat. Whenever I make the effort I’m so thankful. Yoga is so nurturing, delicious and full of goodness that no matter my mood, it soothes my soul and heals my wounds. We had a lovely practice that was exactly what I needed and I loved every moment. I’m still getting to know my new body due to my weight loss, changes in flexibility due to getting a tiny bit older and respecting that my capacity is different every time I approach the mat. Every. Single. Time.

That’s one of the biggest lessons I learnt from yoga. Flexibility. Just because last week I could forward bend with ease, doesn’t mean that this week I will. Just because last week I was able to sink into savasana, doesn’t mean that today my monkey mind will settle easily. Just because I was meant to do things today, doesn’t mean I couldn’t change my plans and honour my body.

On the mat, as in life. We need to accept that every day we are different. Emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally. It’s a good thing really, imagine if every day was the same. What would we learn? How would we learn to take care of the most important person in the world otherwise?

So tonight, I went with what my body needed, what my spirit called for and where my mind wanted to take me. It was blissful, healing and all things wonderful. We did lots of lovely stretching and great poses where we contemplated opposites, yin and yang. We ended with supported child’s pose, with a slightly weighted blanket on my back, it was soooo good, followed by a wonderful savasana, I never wanted to move again. Ever.

I’m home again obviously, and still feeling tired, and back on the mattress that we really should move, maybe tomorrow….but I am feeling a whole lot better than I did this morning.

Tomorrow is another day, and I wait with eagerness to see what lessons it brings me.

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Simplicity is The New Black

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I am loving the current trend of people downsizing, minimising, decluttering and simplifying. Have you noticed it? It’s everywhere right now! I suspect it’s been amplified by the new year and the promises it brings and the feeling of freshness people are looking for.

I began downsizing many years ago and have had three major downshifts so far. The first was in 2004 when I moved from a massive four bedroom home with two dining areas, two living areas and everything that opened and shut to a small and simple three bedroom home that with one living area that I built. This was meant to be my forever home. This was a well intentioned move, but I took a bad marriage, moved it 300kms away, and built a house and bought a busy seaside hotel in the middle of tourist season – it didn’t end well. I had already downsized significantly then and did it again when the marriage ended and I took far less than half of 28 years worth of stuff. I didn’t want it, I wasn’t attached and was happy to begin again.

After moving to Ghana in West Africa for a year in 2010, I returned home and found my small possessions at that time to be excessive, so I downsized yet again. We live very simply and our home has just enough of everything that we need, and enough of everything that is beautiful and brings us joy. We love to travel so a simple life frees us up to do that. As an aside, we will be downsizing again in 2018 as we plan to move to Bali. I will be spending the next year reducing what we have down to a few boxes to put in storage and we will move with just our suitcases and a few books – well that’s the plan anyway.

Downsizing in physical terms is relatively easy and there are plenty of resources and places you can check out here on the wonderful and wise world wide web that can assist you, if you are unsure of where to start. I highly recommend doing it, and there are more benefits to it than I can possibly count, but think about freed up time, energy, money, resources, space, less cleaning and organising, greater abundance and the list goes on.

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Decluttering and downsizing is actually an incredibly inspiring process and once you begin on your physical environment, you may find that you start to seek the same freedom and clarity in other areas of your life. One of the great benefits of decluttering is that you have the space to bring in abundance in every area.

Here are some other ways you can begin to declutter;

  1. Email – check the lists you are subscribed to, are they still useful, do you read the content or just hit trash as soon as it hits your inbox? It’s sometimes quicker to delete than unsubscribe, but in the long run, setting aside some time to unsubscribe is a powerful decluttering process. Clean out your inbox – I am down to an inbox of less than 10 and intend to keep it that way. I prefer 0, but I have a few things I like to keep as reminders when I am working on them.
  2. Facebook and Social Media – how many accounts do you have, and how many pages do you follow, like and how many groups are you in? Are your friends people you are aligned with or wish to remain connected to? I recently did a full declutter and it’s still a work in progress, but I like my newsfeed to be inspiring and uplifting, and I was in way too many groups. I turn notifications off when I join groups too, as those little red notifications can be so time consuming if they aren’t necessary. I also had over 700 saved links in Facebook of posts I was going to read later. I spent some time going through them and am down to 170, my goal is to have less than 20, so every day I clear a few more. I have saved some great stuff, so I didn’t want to just delete them all, so step by step I’m getting there.
  3. People – do you spend your time with people who uplift, inspire and bring you joy? Are your relationships serving you? Decluttering relationships can be a very healthy self care strategy. Sometimes you don’t need to do anything at all, it just happens all on its own – if you let it.
  4. Money – there are many ways you can declutter to bring money in, but a few simple ones I like are; keep my handbag clear of junk, keep my purse only for money and cards, and clear out old receipts, bits of paper and loyalty cards I’m no longer using. You need to allow the physical for money to flow in, and this is one easy way to make it happen.

There are many other ways you can declutter your life and I will write more in part two. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your favourites, let me know in the comments below if you have some to share, or if you try any of my suggestions.

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This post originally appeared on my other site, I’d love to see you over there where I share information to help you live a flourishing life.

51 times around the sun

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Today at lunch with my love

Today is my 51st birthday. Even as I write this, I still can’t quite fathom it. All of the regular cliches come to mind – time flies by so fast, it only seems like yesterday, life is short, where did the time go, I’ve heard myself say them all and with great frequency recently. Seriously where the hell did 2016 go? I swear the planet is spinning more rapidly this year and it’s not just me who feels this way.

But – it’s true. I am 51 years of age. I have been on this spinning blue planet for 51 cycles as it circles the sun. In my head I still feel just as I did when I was in my teens, of course with more wisdom and knowledge and I only have to look in the mirror to know that I am no longer 19. I still feel like everyone on TV and in the media is older than me, but the reality is they are all younger than me, or mostly anyway.

At 51, I am proud to have raised two incredible men, Josh now 30 and Matt who is 26. I am grandma to two amazing human beings, Ella 5 and Jake 3 – me, a grandma! Seriously? In my day grandmas wore petticoats, stockings and frocks, had blue rinses and never left the house without their face on. No matter my age, I can’t see myself ever doing any of those things.

At 51 I am freer than I’ve ever been, happier than I’ve ever felt and think I finally know what I want to do when I grow up. Well, maybe anyway. One of the great things about living life with freedom and curiosity is that anything can change at any time. I might find something new and exciting that calls to my heart and I might do that instead. Who knows, and how awesome is that!

At 51 I have nothing to prove to anyone other than myself.

At 51 I have all that I need. I live a simple life, surrounded by simple pleasures that bring me great joy. I don’t want for anything. I am rich beyond measure; in love, health, family and friends and experiences that teach me lessons that I could never have learnt at school.

At 51 I am content.

At 51 I am wise. I am free. I am loved. I am happy. I am enough.

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11 days of down time…

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I have been back in Bali for 11 days and I’ve done pretty well two thirds of nothing. I’ve only written one blog post prior to this one and I’ve almost finished reading one book, I haven’t even had a swim.

So what have I been doing? Sleeping (at least 10 hours a night!), chatting and posting on social media, talking with friends and my hubby, catching up with good friends here, watching nonsense I downloaded on my laptop, pottering around, a tiny bit of shopping, relaxing, eating, having massages and treatments, and that’s about it.

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When I came I had grand plans that included finishing writing one of my books and breaking the back of another one, planning my business offerings for 2017, going to yoga and meditation, walking for kilometres each day and I have done none of those things. Not one.

But it’s ok.

It’s really ok.

The negative should part of my brain tells me that I could have done these things at home, but in reality I wouldn’t have.

The positive part of my brain tells me that I have done what I needed to do for me.

And I have.

What I needed to do was nothing. Time out, quiet time, nothing time, to relax and decompress.

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You see before I came here, I had had a crazy few months of flat out work, travel, a trip to Africa to start building a women’s shelter and a whole lot of craziness and stress leading up to it, too much busy-ness, one very unpleasant experience that impacted hugely on my ability to fall asleep, leaving me with about five hours of sleep a night (I am a minimum eight a night girl) and to top it off I had bronchitis for almost four weeks. By the time I left home I was beyond exhausted. I was so tired I didn’t even know myself.

Being back in Bali has, as usual, been wonderful. I feel so at home here and I easily slip back into the laid back tropical lifestyle that only Bali brings me. It only takes a day or so and I feel as if I am breathing out, and time doesn’t matter any more.

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I am heading home tomorrow and have planned to do almost no work until the end of January and I aim to keep it that way. I am taking this opportunity to reassess my schedule, look at different ways of working and reintroducing myself to the hardest word of all for me to say – no. 2017 is already shaping up to be very busy and I want to enjoy all it brings me, while maintaining optimal physical and mental health.

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I plan to do a closing off ceremony for this year and look forward to taking time to reflect and give thanks. 2016 has been one of the most challenging, difficult and yet exciting and wonderful years, full of growth and opportunity, filled with so many contrasts and for all of them I am very thankful.

So, as I head off to sleep for the last night in my beloved island home, I wish as you much rest, relaxation, breathing out and down time as you can take.

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It’s either perfect or falling apart

 

d60de5a45ddb39bad1ed471a22a9cbf8While I love social media and consumer created content, I also loathe it at the same time. I love how we can stay in touch and share our stories, experiences and life with people we care about. I’ve been blessed to meet several very special friends solely due to the wonders of Facebook and I spend way too much time on there, but I do enjoy it a lot.

I have only recently started using Instagram and to be honest I’m not sure it’s right for me as I’m active enough on Facebook, but I’m having a play anyway. One thing I notice on there is all of these beautiful, perfectly curated pages, with flatlays and never a thing out of place and seemingly perfect lives – all day every day. Travellers in white bikinis on sun soaked beaches in dream locations, perfect coffees, amazing lunches, stunning landscapes, and models with gorgeous clothes, all so beautiful in their perfection. I have not been at all strategic with my Instagram, I just share photos that reflect my day, if I feel like it. I may go months without posting and other times I may post frequently.

On the other hand we have the recent trend, for want of a better word, of people sharing their vulnerabilities, which I absolutely love and have done so myself on more than one occasion. I think vulnerability is the new black and I’m now proud to stand up and say I’m perfectly imperfect. I believe this has been one of the greatest things to happen to people who felt afraid to admit that their life was anything less than Instagram perfect.

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So we have the perfectly perfect perky lives and the falling apart lives, but what of the in between? What of the every day mundane things that make up our days? The washing, house cleaning, commuting to work, shopping for food and cooking dinner. The getting shit done days. What of the days where it’s just ok? What of the days where I can’t be bothered doing anything but watching Netflix, but I don’t feel like my life is falling apart. What about the middle of the road mediocre, life as it is days? The majority of how it is in fact. normal day .jpg

I’m not advocating for us to share every single moment and the minutiae of our lives, no way, there is enough of that out there, thank you very much. What I’m wondering is how people feel who are just a little down, a little isolated, a little can’t be fucked today? Do they feel that they need to be either perfect or falling apart to accept who they are in that space and time? Do they see others in those opposite ends of the spectrum and feel that they don’t measure up or aren’t vulnerable enough? The reality is not every day is sunshine and unicorns, equally every day is not a crisis. We have much much more of the in between. That’s normal every day life.

While I do my best to be upbeat and positive most of the time, I have my in between days too and some crappy yet not falling apart days too. Days where I eat peanut butter on toast for breakfast, lunch and dinner, where I watch too many episodes of nonsense on Netflix, where I lie on my lounge and absolutely nothing gets done.

And that’s ok. It’s perfectly ok.

We are all perfect just as we are.

No matter what Instagram or Facebook says.

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No games please!

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I don’t play games.

I hate them.

I don’t mean games as in cards, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit, those I love. I mean the games that people play where the intention is not to have fun, but rather the opposite.

I don’t do well with that behaviour or those kinds of people. Maybe I’m naive or stupid, but even at the ripe old age of almost 51, I still expect that what people say is what they mean and what people mean is what they say.

This is how I live my life.

If you have something to say – say it.

If you need to get something off your chest, by all means – unload.

If you want something – ask.

If you don’t want to or can’t do something – don’t.

If you can’t make it somewhere – be straight.

If you aren’t sure – say so.

Never say stuff about other people when they aren’t around if you wouldn’t be happy for them to hear it too.

Never, ever make shit up.

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I pride myself on being straight up, I may be a little in your face, I tell it as it is, and I wish that more people were that way. Some of my favourite people are those who are straight, almost to the point of being blunt, but boy do I love them – a lot.

If you are in my life, you know where you stand, no questions asked. I can’t pretend to like someone if I don’t and as I’ve said before, I most definitely don’t have a poker face.

I am never unkind, or at least I do my level best not to be, but I’d rather step away or disconnect from someone or something if I can’t be straight. Authenticity is everything to me.

This has come from a place of truth, vulnerability and authenticity and the context isn’t important, what’s important is that I do not play games and I honour what is true.

Maybe this post could come across as a bit of a rant, but it’s not. I just have a dream that one day the truth will be all that matters.

That is all.

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Self regulation?

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Yesterday a client came to see me and had her two teenage sons with her. Their family home schools, read tons of books, play loads of games and choose not to have a television, though they do watch movies. It was actually really lovely to see her two boys playing a card game rather than looking down at phones or screens for the time they were there.

After a couple of hours one of them asked me if he could turn the TV on. Of course I said, assuming it was OK with his mum. He said to me “we don’t have TV at home”, without any hint of regret, resentment or anything remotely other than matter of fact, and clearly based on the things they do in their life, no sense of missing out on anything either.

My instant reply was “oh I wish I didn’t have a TV either”. I imagined all of the things I could get done; books from my massive reading list that could be finished, projects completed and writing and study accomplished. It’s not that I watch TV all day, but as we have a smart TV and I work from home regularly, I will often turn it on to Netflix or YouTube for company and background noise, but find myself distracted and abandon whatever it is I’m working on at the time and get sucked into the shiny sparkling vortex, a lot like the black hole of Facebook.

I left my husband in Ghana about four weeks ago and in my mind I was filled with all of the wondrous things I would achieve without his presence to distract me.  I was wrong. I downloaded a few of my favourite TV series and rather than read, I started watching them for company in bed each night.

Anyway back to my “oh I wish I didn’t have TV” comment. I realised as the words came out of my mouth that it was an absolutely ridiculous statement. It’s not as if the TV turns itself on and forces me to sit there glued to it. It’s not as if it calls me, entices me or reminds me of its presence, as chocolate and biscuits do regularly. I can hear them calling from the pantry – is it just me or do other people find that too?

So I got to thinking. Why I don’t I act like I don’t have a TV for a bit? When I am in Bali I never watch it, I never turned it on in Ghana and I never watch it when with friends, unless I am there on holidays. Clearly I like it for company and it makes for a great procrastination tool, you can read more on some of my hot tips for avoidance here. I also like music, but there is something about the instant gratification of mindless TV that seems to hit the spot.

Self-regulation is not one of my greatest strengths, and it was interesting when I completed the unit on strengths when studying positive psychology to have this confirmed by one of the instruments we used. I completed the VIA strengths inventory and was not at all surprised to find humour to be my most often used strength and self-regulation sitting right at the bottom as my least used at number 24. This applies to all areas of my life and something I am well aware of.

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So, I’m going to give it a try. I’m going to go back to turning on music and not getting sucked into mindlessly watching TV. I’m going to pretend, at least during the day that I don’t have one and see how I go. I am sure I will be much more productive and enjoy the things I am doing as I will be completely present to them all, so I’ll let you know. You never know I might just start using my office that I completely overhauled recently.

However, my biggest distraction returns home tomorrow –  let’s see if I can regulate myself when he is back too.

Wish me luck!

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