Give Yourself Something Worth Celebrating!

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The end of the financial year never really had much significance for me; June 30 meant checking the letter box for my group certificate and making an appointment for my tax return. But I was reflecting on the fact that half the year had gone by (and so so quickly) and I realised that if I didn’t stop and consider things, the rest of the year would disappear without warning. I didn’t (and don’t) want to get to Christmas 2015 and think to myself ‘damn, I wished I checked in to see how I was travelling’.

Of course, I can say that now. Now that I’ve done it. I pulled out my lined journal that I wrote my goals in for 2015 and had a little look-see to check on my progress. What I found was very illuminating! [Read more…]

It’s been a bit quiet round here…

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog over the last few weeks. I’ve been pretty busy with a few balls in air, so I keep coming back to my blog, but keep getting pulled in other directions.

It’s an occupational hazard, I guess. When you’re trying to earn a living through writing, the writing you get paid for is what takes priority. I’ve explained this to friends before, my blog is my safe place, so I don’t want to abandon it just because life got busy. But also, it’s not something I do to generate an income. It’s my little corner, I visit to improve my writing, to write about things that interest me without the pressure of a commission. And it helps me clarify my thoughts.

So while I get my house in order, I thought I’d share some of the articles that have been keeping me busy. You can read about how to have romantic holiday, even with children in tow here

If you want to read about how to raise your child as a good sport, you can read about that here

Or, like me, you’re camping these school holidays. This piece explains why camping is great for the whole family. You can read it here.

Lastly, if you don’t love exercising, but know you should, there are a few ideas to get back on track in this article.

But I’ll be back soon. I have trouble staying away!

Confession: I am not the go-getter the world wants me to be!

Ok, so we’re on the cusp of February. And finally my inbox and news feed has stopped bombarding me with rhetoric on setting goals and intentions for 2015. I’ve never felt so paralysed by the onslaught, ever. So the result was literally, to do nothing. Which I am sure is the opposite to what it is meant to do.

I think all the articles on goals at the start of the year really are well-intentioned, but surely there is something in the editors check list that says – ‘publish stuff that’s not being covered anywhere else’. I’m sure their job description doesn’t say ‘make sure you cover a seasonal topic because every other media outlets is doing it and we don’t want to miss out’. I’m pretty sure that’s not a directive.

But come December and January the mandatory articles appear. Worst and Best Christmas present lists, festive ways to wrap a present (huh?), new festive recipes, how to say good bye to the year that was, how to stick to your new years’ resolutions (as if!), setting meaningful goals for the new year…yawn. Or rather, STOP!

If I wrote an open letter to all editors of media outlets I’d say:

‘Dear Editor,

You’ve just f***ked up the beginning of my new year by placing such intense pressure on me to set goals and make affirmations, to change my morning routine, to change the way I work, the way I clean my house, the way I think…the way I do, well… everything.

Holidays are meant to be about resting, relaxing, imbibing, enjoying. Chilling out, chewin’ the fat, just being. Please allow me to just BE. Leave me be. Please.

Yours,

Collette’

So, I didn’t get very far with improving my life for the better. But I did come up with a very gentle solution to my inaction, which made me feel a whole lot better about not being the go-getter the world wanted me to be.

I chose a word that will underscore my life this year. My word will inform all my decisions – from day to day choices, to life-changing decisions. I know we’re only four weeks in, but it seems to be working really well. There are things that I want to achieve this year, some things are left over from last year and some new things, as well. I already know what they are, but working towards them with my word in mind helps me feel that I am closer to achieving them.

So my word for 2015 is COMPLETION. I chose it because I always feel that things are in disarray – lots of half-finished things hanging around. Making me feel unsettled. So with an over-arching goal of ‘completion’ informing all of my decisions, it’s really helping me get things done. The upside of that is a sense of achievement.

Funny thing about this, once I’d settled on my word I felt much less bound up by the goal-setting issue. So in the end I did sit down and set some goals, some long-term and some short-term goals. What was great about it was that I don’t feel any pressure because I know that completion is what is driving me, so if I keep that on my agenda, I’ll always achieve my goals in the end.

Do you have a word? Please share.

Sometimes Quitting Can Be Glorious!

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(Image via Pinterest)

Life’s been a little bit hard of late. We all go through cycles where things get a bit tough and the cogs of life grind very slowly. That’s me at the moment, mainly due to my youngest daughter’s night time shenanigans; but that’s a whole other story.

So at the moment, I’ve been focusing on the basics. Just showing up, really. Making sure my kids show up (hopefully fed, clothed and clean). I also try for this (the clothed one is my priority – obviously). But when you’re sleep deprived for an extended period, anything but the basics is hugely taxing. It doesn’t help that when we returned from our trip I was energised, motivated and ready to go. With lots of plans and goals and six weeks in…well, life had other plans for me.

Fortunately, I recognise that this is just a blip. But there’s nothing like plans that fall by the wayside to leave your morale sagging a bit. I posted recently about the stress of meditation and how I berated myself for not establishing a regular practice.The same goes for all my other little projects. I see the pile of books that I have set aside for research, untouched. A list of ideas that I haven’t been able to develop, which keep popping up each time I open my notebook. Even leisure activities, a pile of magazines unread, webpages tagged and never revisited.

So this week, when I read Sarah Kathleen Peck’s article ‘Why Quitting is ok’ –  I felt vindicated and absolutely light-footed because of it. The article got me thinking about success and failure, but also the cycles that play out in our lives. A full life is a fluid life that weaves in and out of different phases; both good and bad. This is an honest life, lived well. But to berate ones self for this fluidity can be fool-hardy. To be restricted by the success/failure binary is not helpful to anyone, least of all our lovely selves.

So after reading Peck’s article on quitting, I took it one step further and decided that I don’t even need to say ‘I’m quitting’. I’ll just quietly move on if the peaks and troughs of life require it, and when those peaks and troughs permit, I’ll come back to what ever it is I’ve put on pause. That way, there is no pre-determined outcome. I can go back when I feel like it, if I don’t ever feel like going back to said activity, project, goal then so be it. It has served it’s purpose in my life.

Coming back to Arianna Huffington, (as I tend to do) she explained in Thrive that abandoning learning German, learning to ski, or other such extra-curricular activities was freeing to her. Striking it off her agenda meant she could walk away and move on. So finding your own way to let go (including letting go of the angst that comes with letting go) is a significant way to make your every day life a little bit easier, and quite a bit happier.

Lets face it, sometimes life can get hard; just showing up is hard. So letting go of the peripherals that make it hard is just one step towards making it easier.

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Don’t Let Your Outlet Slide

imageAt the start of August I had one major deadline and four weeks till our big family trip to Europe and Asia. So when my daughter’s carer told me she was taking early maternity leave, I didn’t really panic.

Then, as often happens in life, I got two new clients. Given I am still building my freelance writing business, I was not going to say no to these opportunities, even though I didn’t have any child care in place. I decided I would muddle through by working every day during Freya’s sleep time, and in the evenings, if needed, when all three children were settled.

So that’s what I did. Muddling through would probably be the most accurate way to describe it. Any one who has any experience with babies and toddlers will know, they can be unpredictable, even when you’ve mastered a perfect routine. Some days I’d plan to do the grocery shop in the morning, be home for lunch and then work after lunch while she slept, only to pull in the drive way at 11 and find she had fallen asleep in her car seat. The end result was that I did meet all my deadlines, but everything else went by the wayside, including this blog.

I’d fall into bed at night, with piles of washing waiting to be folded and put away, dust gathering slyly on my window sills and furniture, vegetables wrinkling up in my crisper, and me, feeling cranky, scratchy and pulled in all directions. It’s fair to say, chaos reigned (more than usual) in that period.

There was no down time because the time I would catch up on household jobs – while Freya slept – I was busy working to meet my deadlines, the evenings were spent trying to (unsuccessfully) catch up on things like the washing. But the biggest cost came in sacrificing my outlet. My sanity, my little love; my writing.

I mentioned earlier that I was tetchy. In hind-site, I can see that it was because I had sacrificed writing for pleasure and I had completely underestimated its importance, and its value in my life. It’s a thing that brings me calm, restores balance and brings me satisfaction. And I had foolishly abandoned it when life got hectic.

It’s been a great lesson for me, because not for one moment did I think that not taking that time for myself, to do what makes me happy, would impact so significantly – both on me and on my family. Because I was scratchy, they all suffered. And I suffered doubly – firstly because it’s not pleasant feeling harried and strung out, but I recognised that when I was like this, I wasn’t that pleasant to be around. So that old chestnut, mother guilt, came galloping back in to my life.

Whenever my husband could, he took over caring for the children, and doing house work, so I could work or rest. Which is how I now know, with some distance from the situation, that it wasn’t that I was trying to do too much (which obviously was part of it) but it was that I had let my outlet slide. I’d stopped doing what I love to do, what makes me feel happy.

I know that self-care is the most important thing a mother can do for her family, and in theory I always agreed. But it wasn’t until this little crazy month in my life, where my self-care got unintentionally ditched, that I truly recognise how important it is to make the time to ‘do your thing’. Arianna Huffington says that ‘when we take care of ourselves, we are only going to be better at everything.’ There is a lot of wisdom in that.

The practicalities of life will often prevent us from doing the things that we want to do, but the important thing is that we recognise what is really important to our wellbeing and make a commitment to carve out this time. After all, it not just for yourself, but also for your family.