Enjoying your own company..

2014 has been a year of change.. a year of contrasting highs and lows. I’m so proud of what I have accomplished, but I know that it’s meant a lot of change both in me as a person, and in my life.

The past couple of weeks I’ve spent a lot of time alone… remembering how it feels to be in my own company. Doing things like lots of walking, taking pictures, getting pedicures, full body massages, re-organising my closets, meditating, enjoying the feel of grass under my feet.. and eating by myself, being fully present in the moment, enjoying and savouring each bite.

I’m happy to report that I still enjoy my own company…

As human beings we crave contact with other people, we seek out others for companionship, to validate us, make us feel special, to avoid dealing with our own insecurities and to hide behind the noise of day to day interactions. When we’re not with others, we’re on social media platforms – we instagram, tweet, Facebook post and stalk, anything to avoid being alone. Alone physically, emotionally and alone with our thoughts.

What is so scary about our inner selves that we constantly avoid our own company?

Why do we buffer our experiences to avoid being alone?

Personally I’ve learned so much about myself in these past weeks. I’ve re-learned the beauty of silence, and spent time embracing my inner voice.. I’ve faced my fears (and still am) and worked out the things that are truly important to me. I feel like I still need to spend some time alone with myself.. and its almost like this sacred time will allow me to move to the next phase of my life. Whatever it may be…

I’m not afraid of what I’ve found when I look within.. and thats an incredibly empowering feeling. When you know yourself and you know your true passions, hopes, dreams and fears.. there is a mastery of self and the ability to live your life in the present moment. It’s not all roses and champagne.. theres a lot of gunk and detritus to work through.. but the end result is the ability to enjoy your own company, and that is a gift you deserve to give yourself.

There is a slight catch – you have to do the work .

 

BUSY

#stop #breathe #be ….sometimes we’re so busy BEING BUSY we don’t even realise how completely out of touch we’ve become.

  • When was the last time you did something for yourself, just because?

On my change journey, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned was that I was so caught up in the DOING, I’d forgotten how to simply BE. There is a delicious sense of calm when you finally realise that you don’t have to be stuck in the pattern of being constantly busy.

When you learn to let things go, living and experiencing your life as it is occurring – rather than worrying about the past or trying to pre-empt the future – you get so much joy. Only when we STOP can we finally appreciate how lucky we are in the present moment.

 

Today I am Grateful for….

This is an exercise I try to do often, it helps me to be present in the moment, to appreciate my blessings and to be truly grateful for the goodness in my life – even if I am in the midst of the stresses of daily life….

today I am grateful for wonderful memories, deep/meaningful & gloriously silly conversations, for dancing around the house, walking along the beach, for shared bottles of wine, savoured meals, favourite songs, moments when nothing needs to be said to be understood, and moments where you feel you might explode for all the things you want to say/ share/ do.. I am grateful for those that challenge me, cherish me and chill with me. But most of all I am excited about creating even more moments to be grateful about.

10 Things to Feed your SOUL

Winter time… it’s so easy to fall into the cosy trap of hibernation when the wind is howling, the rain pouring and the temperature plummets.. but we so often neglect the simple things that we take for granted in the summer months, and wonder why we feel flat halfway through the coldest part of the year.

So here’s 10 things you can do that will feed your soul and help you feel shiny and bright again:

1. Breathe:  I often joke that ‘breathing is one of my favourite things, and I try to do it every day’ – but have you noticed how you are breathing? Chances are if you’re feeling a little stressed, tired, or just generally under the weather  your breath will be shallow and in the top of your chest.

So now just for a few minutes: stop, take slow, deep nourishing breaths down into your stomach.. do this for even 5 minutes a day and your mind will feel clearer, you will feel calmer and everything will be a little easier. Breath nourishes you, so make sure you bring your attention to this and you will be deliciously surprised at how you feel.

 

2. Drink plenty of water: this is easier in summer because the heat encourages us to hydrate – but your body doesn’t stop needing water in winter. There are two great ways to ensure that you are hydrating in winter, first – start your day with a room temperature glass of water, with half a lemon. (room temp is best, because otherwise its a shock to your digestive system.) The lemon is refreshing, and contains natural enzymes, antioxidants and vitamins to start your day right. Secondly: keep a bottle of water on your desk or near your workspace and work through this during the day. (tip: you can set a reminder in your calendar or phone each hour to remind you to drink water – I use a fitbit and they have a great silent vibrating alarm)

 

3. Cut down (or stop) the alcohol: this is a tough one when it’s a stormy night and you feel like curling up with a big glass of red wine.. but winter is probably one of the more easy times to do an alcohol detox than the summer months (less bbq’s and parties etc) When I do this, I start off with a week, then another week – and just see how long I can go. After about two weeks you will really notice a difference, feeing brighter, lighter – and surprisingly feeling less like reaching for the vino on auto-pilot.

 

4. Read a book: when was the last time you sat down and read a book, just for the sheer pleasure of it? Books take us away to a whole new world and the are a delicious way to nourish the mind. If you’re not a fiction fan, how about an auto-biography of someone you really admire? Or perhaps a self-help book on a topic you have been interested in for a while…?

 

5. Play some music: I’ve recently succumbed to the wonderful world of spotify.. and my musical universe has expanded again.. for around $12 a month you can listen to as many songs you like of any and all genres. You can quickly and easily create playlists that suit your mood. My three favourites are my “Latin Groove Mix” – “Dance Around The House Mix” and “Sing Along in the Shower Mix”. If you have a favourite CD, put this on and dance around your living room.. the music and the movement will get your endorphins going wild… sing and dance like no one is watching…

 

6. Move your body: one of the FIRST things to go in winter is exercise.. for some reason it just becomes easier to make up excuses not to get out and move your body, but it’s more important than ever to keep this up. Can you walk to work in the mornings? Take a walk during your lunch break? Not everyone is a gym bunny but your body will love you if you get moving! If you’re worried about wet and cold weather, invest in a shower proof jacket, a cap and a headband (or some earmuffs!) so you can brave the elements without catching a chill. (There are also lots of free apps to track your progress, or you can invest in a pedometer, fitbit or other wearable device that will track your progress and encourage you to keep moving…)

 

7. Take a bath: ok, not everyone has a bath – but you can recreate that feeling of bliss and relaxation with candles, your favourite music playing and a wonderful body wash even in the shower. If you do have a bath though: get amongst. Take your time. Put some bubbles in there. Make a bubble mohawk. Go crazy. Then take the time to moisturise yourself with your favourite lotions from top to toe – it’s too easy to skip this in winter as we hide our bods away! Take the time, nourish your skin, and bask in the resulting glow.

 

8. Nourish yourself from the inside out with fab food choices: if in doubt, always eat seasonal! Seasonal produce isn’t treated with the same chemicals for long distance travel and transport as fresh local produce. (If you want to know which foods contain the most/ and the least chemicals, you can get a free .pdf guide here) as tempting as it is to revert to comfort food in the chilly months, aim for a diet rich in seasonal veg and you will feel cleaner, and more energised. NB: Juicing isn’t just a summer thing! Some of the best fruit/ veg for juicing grows well in winter (i.e. beetroot) and this is a great way to ensure you are getting the necessary vitamins and minerals that your winter body craves.

 

9. Try something new: have you always wanted to try rock climbing? Learn to knit? Wanted to learn the secrets to fabulous french cuisine – but just been too nervous to try? There is no time like winter to pick up a class or start a new hobby. If you want to learn how to paint with watercolours, or to make jewellery and you don’t want to leave the house – order supplies online, and do some serious youtube research to get you on your way. You’ll be warm, dry, learning something new and adding to your repertoire of mad skills in no time at all.

 

10. Plan a holiday: whether you want to hire a house by a beach and take a winter escape filled with stormy beach walks, pop over to Waiheke Island for a weekend of vineyards and feasting, to Queenstown for snowboarding and skiing – or even if you want to leave the cold and wet behind you and jet off to a tropical island for 5 days, winter is a GREAT time to stop, relax and breathe. Because we go for so long without public holidays/ bank holidays over winter its really important that you schedule some down time to recharge your batteries in your favourite way possible.

 

So don’t let yourself fall into a rut.. any one of the above suggestions will give you the fabulous wee boost you didn’t even realise you needed. Nourish your soul and be kind to yourself no matter what time of year and you will find yourself sparkling in the winter darkness.

 

Pass the butter please…

Now along with using only butter and cold pressed oils in my kitchen, we don’t have a microwave (and haven’t for over 5 years) and we do not, ever, use margarine.

This was borne out of a desire to eat food that can actually be classified as food, and not something that was cooked up in a laboratory, but I read an article/ post today by a chap called Allyn Mackory about margarine that made my skin crawl. Below I have copied the post verbatim:

“Having Worked at Unilevers Premier Margarine Factory in the UK for 1 Year, as a Management Trainee, and then in Sri Lanka Managing Margarine Manufacture, I can safely admit that what you are about to read is true !!

Pass The Butter … Please.

This is interesting . .. .

Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back.

It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow colouring and sold it to people to use in place of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavourings….

DO YOU KNOW.. The difference between margarine and butter?

Read on to the end…gets very interesting!

Both have the same amount of calories.
Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams; compared to 5 grams for margarine.

Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study.
Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.
Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few and only because they are added!

Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavours of other foods.

Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years .

And now, for Margarine..

Very High in Trans fatty acids.

Triples risk of coronary heart disease …

Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)

Increases the risk of cancers up to five times..

Lowers quality of breast milk

Decreases immune response.

Decreases insulin response.

And here’s the most disturbing fact… HERE IS THE PART THAT IS VERY INTERESTING!

Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC… and shares 27 ingredients with PAINT.

These facts alone were enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance).

Open a tub of margarine and leave it open in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will notice a couple of things:
* no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)

* it does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value ; nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow.

Why? Because it is nearly plastic . Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

Share This With Your Friends…..(If you want to butter them up’)!

Chinese Proverb:
When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others.

“Pass the BUTTER PLEASE”

http://www.bodyimagemovement.com

#ihaveembraced

So this morning, through the wonders of social media, I was introduced to a project called ‘the body image movement’ – an inspiring and challenging look at the way women really feel about their bodies.

This is a topic that is dear to my heart, and resonates LOUDLY for me. Whilst I am a pretty well adjusted functioning human being… it’s been a journey to get to this place. And I had to do it for myself, and largely by myself.

There is a HUGE stigma associated with body image, conflicting messages, and an advertising/ marketing industry that plays on these insecurities because the body industry is BIG BUCKS.

I want to see more people being honest. See people waking up to the realities of a manufactured ‘standard of beauty’ that is NOT BEAUTIFUL. To realise that the things that allow us to TRUELY see our own beauty are the actions we take, how we give of ourselves, the decisions we make, and the kind of person that we strive to be.

If you’re interested in contributing to the kickstarter fund to make this doco a reality, please click here to find out more.

Finishing this with a quote from one of my favourite movies (Pulp Fiction) “It’s unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same..”

Lifestyle changes/ eating for health..

Reading through this list of heathy eating cafès published in the Herald today (not an exhaustive list by any means but still good selection) it does truly seem like Auckland is cottoning on to healthy, tasty eating…. There does seem to be a bit of a movement of this lately, and it’s been one of my (slow burning) passions for many years so it’s great to see some dialogue and energy behind this. (Am I just noticing this because I’m getting back into it, or is it truly changing?)

Since my health issues in 2012, and subsequent changes in my body since then (read: weight gain due to heavy doses of hormones, ongoing issues with my body dealing with a temp “fix” device pumping yet more hormones into my body each day) I’ve been trying to find the right balance to get myself back to optimum health…

Through the changes in my diet and lifestyle I’ve noticed that I’m not as susceptible to colds/viruses as I once was… or if I start to get sick I can generally knock it before it takes hold. This in itself would be reason enough to make the simple changes I have… but as I’m on a bit of a journey at present, there’s more to come!

Through my years of coaching and working in the recruitment industry I’ve noticed the common theme that everyone is looking for in their life is balance. (namely a career that provides challenge and opportunity to grow, whilst supporting you financially and allowing adequate leisure time and the ability to enjoy new experiences..) this is the holy grail right?

But it all begins with balance.

We can’t expect that our lives will change if we keep doing the same things that we have always done. It’s not rocket science – it’s logic. You need to change the ingredients or the inputs, to achieve a different result.

One if the easiest ways to change your life is to adjust your lifestyle – make some very real decisions about your inputs and ingredients. It can be the food you eat, the alcohol you imbibe, the fresh air and exercise you experience from day to day – or the people you spend your time and energy with/on.

You can’t make massive changes overnight, there’s always a period of adjustment, and that’s OK. Some of the things that have worked for me, which I will keep doing and refining are:
– Cutting down/ cutting out alcohol (seems a no brainer, right?)
– Cutting down/cutting out sugar/ refined and processed food (amazing how your body responds after the initial detox period)
– Increasing exercise (a lot of this is just finding out what works for you, for example gyms are not for me, but for some that’s perfect)
– Increasing organic/ wholefoods and vegetables in my day to day diet (had a huge impact for me personally)

The Herald article talked about healthy eating cafés really working because they haven’t compromised on taste, and this resonates with me… no one in their right mind (??) wants to eat dry, tasteless bird seed.. and you don’t have to. Cooking can be an absolute joy – with inspiring ingredients and unreal flavour and taste experiences.. food that nourishes you. <3

 

Buddha Bowl

No wonder everyone is so confused….

New year – new you! We hear this phrase so often at this time of year…. people thinking it’s a good time to turn over a new leaf, set goals, get in shape….. and it is. Except the media makes it so much harder than it needs to be. Case in point – the snip below from the life & style section of the NZ Herald – harking on about obesity in one column, and listing three EXTREMELY unhealthy recipies with mouth watering images right next to it…. Yeesh! No wonder people are confused!

 

 

Signs you need some ‘me time’

We all experience the ups and downs of daily life, and some days will naturally be tougher than others… but how do you know you’ve really had enough, and it’s time to step back and take some time out for yourself? If you are experiencing two or more of the below, then it might be time to book in some annual leave ASAP and get the hell outta dodge:

 

1. You have no patience
We often feel like we’re rushing around in our busy modern lives, but when you find yourself steaming mad, smoke coming out of your ears because of some niggly little everyday thing that’s taking TOO BLOODY LONG it might be time to step back for a little perspective…

 

2. Everything seems niggly & annoying
Speaking of things that make us mad… actually if most of the things you do and experience during your day wind you up/ really grind your gears… the reality is it’s probably got more to do with you than with the rest of the world..

 

3 You’re tired but you can’t sleep
You find yourself lying awake again, counting the minutes and hours on an imaginary clock, or worse yet picking up your mobile phone to check how long it’s been since you last checked how long you’ve been lying there… and it’s not any one thing that you’re musing over because, well, it’s everything….

 

4. Your body is aching
Phantom aches and pains, sore shoulders, clicking backs…. stomach aches, eye aches, everything aches! It might be a sign of your age but more likely it’s a product of your environment and the pressures you are carrying with you, emotional baggage and little angers are heavy, man.

 

5. Your head is aching
You can’t think straight because you’ve been carrying around a headache that’s barely kept at bay by the magical elixir of Nurofen… but that’s the point, the headache isn’t going away no matter how many pills you pop and it’s not normal to wake up feeling like warmed up dog poo. Just because you’ve gotten used to feeling like crap, doesn’t mean it’s normal or right.

 

6. You can’t muster enthusiasm for catching up with friends or family
Infact, if anyone invites you to another ‘thing’ or talks about how they never see you anymore, you’re going to flush your mobile phone down the loo. Never mind the guilt you’ve created all by yourself for not spending time with your loved ones… you can’t take it if they bring it up too. You don’t know whether you’re mad or teary about this. So many feels.

 

7. Getting out of bed is tough
Leaving the wonder and majesty of a warm and comfy bed is difficult at the best if times, but if you find yourself snoozing till you have no time to bathe and/or brush your teeth before taking off like a bat out of hell for the morning commute… It might be a sign you either A) hate your job, or B) need a break, or C) a little of both.

There are a million reasons you can create to tell yourself you can’t take some time off/time out, but there are equally as many reasons (if not more) to make this happen. Even a short break can reset your batteries, though the longer the better.

(The irony is, about 3/4 of the way through this break you couldn’t take, you’ll lament not arranging just a couple of days more…. )

 

Sometimes we just need a reminder that life is actually pretty bloody fantastic, and if we aren’t getting joy from how we’re living our lives, perhaps it’s time we changed that.

Insomnia…

For the past week or so I have been having a “sleep tight” tisane from T2 when I head to bed and read my book. And for the first time in living memory, I have been sleeping through the night. Some insomnia sufferers have trouble getting to sleep, some have trouble staying asleep – for me it’s always been both.

I can’t even capture in words what it means to have an un-broken sleep.. when you’ve had insomnia for as long as you can remember, you just get to a point where you never feel like you’ll be truly rested again.. you learn to get by.

You become somewhat of an expert at coping, by employing methods like meditation, no caffeine after 10am, cutting down alcohol, sympathetic yoga poses and the like… the elusive restful nights sleep requires a different concoction for every person – just as no two finger prints are the same, the path to restful sleep is unique.

After around 10 days of unbroken sleep, I think my recipe goes a little something like this:

 

Routine:
Go to bed at the same time every night, your body responds to routine and ‘winding down’ for sleep will become something your body automatically does, if you train it to do so.

 

Caffeine & alcohol:
Just don’t. As tempting as it is to pop 5mg of melatonin and knock it back with a glass of red wine to get to sleep – that blissful-ness of dropping off quickly isn’t worth the broken sleep to follow. You’re better to glide into sleep naturally, following your body’s rhythm, then to force the ‘drop’..
Likewise caffeine – do not be tempted to duck out for a triple shot flat white at 3pm to get you through an insanely busy time at work – you’re tired because you have too much work on, and your body is speaking to you. The tiredness is natural, propping yourself up with caffeine to get through is just punishing yourself in the long term.

 

Meditation:
If you can’t sleep – at least rest your mind. If you can’t rest it alone – find a guided meditation app: iTunes even has free ones…. it takes you away because you shift your intense focus to what they are saying, and you naturally, slowly, easily start to relax… white noise is also particularly good, I often fall asleep to a recording of rain..

 

Daydreaming:
If you’re relaxed but not quite ready to drop off… slip into a daydream… I often imagine I’m a character in one of my novels… or imagine that I’m in a beautiful place of solitude, a little haven of my own where I rest, relax, meditate, do yoga etc… I’ve imagined this place so intently I can now slip into it whenever I like… I play the rain track, imagine I’m there listening to the rain… And I slowly, naturally, drift to sleep..

 

Yoga:
A friend recently sent me a link to a supported yoga pose that really helps with insomnia, yoga in general is just the best friend of sleep and mindfulness. Get it in ya life.

 

Stress:
Some stresses you can cut out (like toxic people and environments that are negative for you) and some stresses you can ease but have to work through… wherever you can, try to cut stress out of your life, but also remember you are the master of your life and only YOU can control how you react to life’s trying times. Deep breaths, physically changing your state (ie actually getting up and walking away) and talking about your emotions can go a long way to keeping things in perspective. THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

 

Good food:
Your body responds to what you put it in and around…. so when it comes to food, be mindful of what you put in and around your mouth! Choose your nutrition with intent, make your food with love, and most of all, enjoy the pleasure of creating and experiencing good food. Juices, fresh vegetables, free-farmed meats, organic wherever possible, taste, flavour. Love your body and it will love you in return.

 

The biggest thing I’ve had to learn on the journey to restful sleep is to listen to my body… we’re not some machine that experiences the same inputs day in day out… our lives are in a constant state of flux, and the inputs and experiences we have change constantly… but sleep is like oxygen… we need it to live.. and the quality of our sleep effects our quality of life…

Listen to your body, be gentle with yourself. Stretch. Smile. Laugh. Sing. Lift your face to the sun. Dance in the rain. Be present. Dream beautiful dreams.