Morning Pages Will Change Your Life

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One of my long term goals is to write everyday. But I’ve always found that life just gets in the way. I just couldn’t find a way to make it happen. I’m not sure if it was procrastination at work, a long term crisis of confidence or something deeper, that was holding me back from making this happen.

But something shifted within me. I’m not sure what caused it, perhaps me just waking up sick and tired of looking at my long list of things I want to make happen and finding that none of it was.

Consciously, I knew that I was the only one who could turn these dreams in to a reality, but it’s much easier to blame external factors. My biggest one was that I have three small children who take up ALL of my time, anything left over was for me, and my fella. But really, this approach didn’t get me very far. [Read more…]

The Art of Disconnecting and Reconnecting

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Trentham to Lyonsville walk

This week we’ve been away at a friend’s farm in Trentham, Victoria. There is nothing quite like the feeling of the crisp frosty morning and the glow of the fire that has been burning all night, keeping the living room toasty for when you get up to make your morning cuppa. I love the smell of the air in the country; crisp and clean but punctuated with the smell of log fires and home baking.

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For us city-dwellers, the novelty never wears off. Every time I come to this part of the world, I feel revived and inspired. Our kids also get the benefits. They love that we do things as a family that we don’t do at home. Not out of choice, but because our day-to-day lives are so full of activity that we are constantly in the throes of football, netball, gymnastics, soccer, school, work… you get the idea. [Read more…]

The Stress of Meditation

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I have to say I’m a huge supporter of meditation. The benefits are endless: it can reduce symptoms of depression, assists with seeing life in a more positive light, it aids self-acceptance, helps forge connections with others and boosts our ability to be compassionate, it will help build your creative energy. A calmed mind allows ideas to flow more freely, as those ideas are not crowded out by incessant internal chatter. I could go on. And on.

I’ve experienced those benefits first hand. But it’s probably more accurate (and more honest) to say I’ve experienced them second hand. My husband is a walking, living example of the wonderful benefits of meditation. He is calm, centred, loving, giving, generous, optimistic, realistic, focused, kind, gentle. Again, I could go on, but I think you get it now. Before he started meditating (around 10 years ago) he was also all of these things, but in a less pronounced way. I’d say meditation has brought out the best in him, and helped bring these qualities to the surface. And now he owns them. But without presumption or righteousness. He just naturally radiates these qualities.

But he deserves to because he has practiced his meditation with dedication and commitment; most days, for a long long time. I, on the other hand, have not. I start with commitment and end, sadly, with distraction. I aspire to meditate regularly, but I’m yet to get into a routine with it. But I do think my time for meditation is dawning because for the first time in a very long time I am being kept awake at night. And not just by my children, but largely by my thoughts.

I eventually abandoned my meditation practice because I’d decide that I was going to do it every day, then I’d miss a day or two. Then I’d beat myself up over missing a day or two. So I’d reset my commitment and the cycle would continue. I’d miss, then get cross with myself. So I decided that meditation was just causing me too much stress. And I opted for a glass of wine instead. The stress-relieving benefits of a glass of wine can’t be underestimated. BUT, it doesn’t still my mind. And usually if I double up on that glass of wine (due to its superior stress relieving qualities, of course!) the insomnia actually increases. So not only is the internal chatter keeping me awake, so is the wine.

So, I ask, how do I still my mind? The answer is simple – meditation. Yes, but how do I still my mind enough to meditate? Again, the answer is simple. Meditate. And so it goes. Meditation is one of those things that doesn’t come naturally to anyone. To become good at it, you need to practise. So I’m starting again and today is Day 2 of the Deepak Chopra 21 Day Meditation Experience. It’s for people like me who struggle to maintain their regular meditation practice. If you want to meditate, you can join. It’s free and you just need an email address. Once you register you’ll be sent a guided meditation to your inbox, click the link and all you need to do is make the time. You can join here.

I’ve written about the difficulties of meditation before, if you want to catch up on that, you can read it here.

I’d love to hear of your experiences with meditation. I really believe it is the antidote to the crazy, frenetic lives we’ve all signed up for. I’ll keep you updated on my progress as I go. Please share if you join up. We can all debrief together!

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Letter to My Younger Self

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I have always been fascinated by the ‘Letter to My Younger Self’ and whenever I see them in magazines and online, I always make a point to read them. I imagined that it would be quite a cathartic exercise. I guess I’m quite fortunate that I don’t have a great deal to purge, and what has brought me challenges over the years, I sit with comfortably now. But what I most enjoyed about the process has been reflecting back on how I’ve grown and what I’ve learnt.

I offer no ground-breaking advice, but some simple musings will serve me well beyond today.

Dear Collette,

Here are a few things to help you on your way.

You’re mostly a happy soul so don’t lose that; this disposition will usher you through the trials.

Reshape regrets – they’ll only eat away at you. If you can reshape them you’ll see the purpose they served to make your life better in the end.

Celebrate your success, not only do you deserve it but it will help you identify your true friends. Those who celebrate with you, wish you only good. Those who don’t celebrate with you, harbour resentment and will one day let you down.

Champagne will thicken your waist (and your head), when you over indulge be sure that the joy of the over indulgence will outweigh the discontent of a thick waist. Mostly it will, but be sure to check in with it.

Listen to your father. He was wrong (mostly) about you being the class clown, the town drunk and at times the village idiot, but he was bang on with his advice about adjusting your expectations of others. He told me to never expect someone to behave the same way as you would, if you do you will always be disappointed (your older self is still working on this). 

Listen to your mother and store away what she has to say. Each day something will come up that you will want to ask her and when she is gone you will miss deferring to her on life’s practicalities. She would have known what to do when your youngest wouldn’t sleep. So listen up.

Be more compassionate when you feel that someone has failed you. You will fail someone some day to, and not be able to help it. We all have limitations.

Trust yourself. That sick feeling you get in your stomach has always been right. Don’t ignore it, act on it, then you’ll find that you’re on your right path. 

Write everyday, it is the only way to hone your skills (your older self is still working on this one to). 

That cliche, authentic. Well, there is no other way. The only way is to live truthfully, honestly. You will fail at everything you do if you are not living truthfully. Life will be so much easier to live when you are being your real self. 

Don’t worry about money. Things have a way of working themselves out, even if it’s not how you imagined it would be.

I probably don’t need to tell you this, but have fun, always. Even when you feel your soul is under fire. The joy of the small things will get you through.

And finally, always remember that life will never be better than it is now, so make the most of it.

And so my friend, be brave, be bold and go gently; it is a fine combination.

Collette

Do you have some advice to your younger self that you’d like to share? Share below, it is rather cathartic after all.

 

 

#100happydays fatigue

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As many of you know, I’ve been taking part in the #100happydays, which is meant to foster mindfulness and a greater awareness of the small things in your life that make a positive difference.

 

On Friday I read an article called ‘Is 100happydays making you miserable?’. It was my lightbulb moment. To say it is making me miserable is probably a little extreme, but it’s fair to say, it was starting to become a chore.

 

Part of my efforts to become more mindful and more present, was a decision to disengage somewhat from social media. The problem was I’d just about be ready for bed and I’d remember that I hadn’t done my 100happydays post, so I’d have to get on Facebook again.

 

Then I’d curse inwardly because I wasn’t quick enough with my camera phone and had missed the perfect moment earlier in the day. But I wasn’t quick enough because I probably had the baby in one arm, and a basket of washing in the other, and food on the stove that needed to be turned off just before it caught on fire. But the point is, I was cursing myself. Surely that goes against what 100happydays is trying to do?

 

So then I’d quickly try and find something to post – I think the ‘love heart log’ takes the cake here. It was kind of cute, and it DID make me happy, but only because it meant I didn’t miss my post that day. Seriously, a ‘love heart log’?

 

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Last week I wrote a post on my love/hate relationship with Facebook. My participation in 100happydays was actually fuelling the ‘hate’ part of that post, because when I was done with social media for the day, I’d then have to get back on so I didn’t miss a day.

 

But there was also the performative aspect of it that didn’t sit well with me. You can choose to email your pictures in for privacy, but I chose Facebook and after a week or so I tried to change it to email so I wouldn’t have to get on Facebook everyday, but there was no option to make changes, once you’d registered.

 

One day I posted a picture of baking cookings with my daughter. It was a lovely thing to do together, no question. Later a friend told me she had wondered how I was able to get everything done and still bake cookies. Chaos followed that evening, because I’d lost time that I would have used to make dinner, but of course I’m not doing a follow up post on the baby screaming at the dinner table because she’s so hungry, because I’m 45 minutes late with dinner! Not so happy days, yes?

 

Then after I read ‘Is 100happydays making you miserable?’ I saw the inaneness of it all. I was off the hook. Now, I know the stats say that 75 per cent of participants don’t finish their 100 days, maybe it’s because they all got happy days fatigue, like me.

 

That’s not to say it wasn’t a worthwhile venture, it was. Because in the first few weeks I really got a lot out of it. Without a doubt, it did what it was meant to do, and I definitely take more pleasure in the smaller things, than prior to the challenge.

 

If it was #30happydays I think the success rates would be much higher, as when the fatigue sets in, you’d only have a few days or a week to go, so it wouldn’t be such a chore to finish. But also, 30 days is enough time to change a habit, so doing the challenge would still achieve its objectives of encouraging mindfulness and gratitude.

 

So on the Happy Days theme, I’m just going to be cool with it all. Cool with not finishing, cool with not recording every happy moment, just cool. Like the Fonze.