Time Management Tweaks to Get Back on Track

Today I found myself wondering, “where is the year going?!” It’s already the middle of April and it feels like Christmas was only last week! The first quarter has just disappeared, and I’m not sure I’ve used my time effectively. Sure, I’ve been ‘busy’ and things have been happening, but am I where I thought I’d be at this time of the year in terms of my goals? Not quite…

So of course I go into self-protection mode and remind myself that I’m a working mum and the toddler makes things tricky. I remind myself of all the things I HAVE achieved so far this year… and there’s actually a bit there to be proud of. But I’m not letting myself completely off the hook.

Time management can make or break us. I know I’ve heard from a lot of readers who have said this is their weakness, so I’d like to focus more on this in coming posts. I have so many thoughts on time management and it’s a bit of a love-hate relationship for me!

Sometimes I’m pretty good with my time management, but at other times it all falls apart and I end up wasting a lot of time or being pretend-busy. The last few months have been a little bit of a blur, so these are the things I’m going to focus on to get myself back on track, and I’ll be back soon with some more specific time management thoughts and tips.

In the meantime, check out 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think if this is something you’re really into!  

Track your time

The best way I’ve found to manage my time better is to actually think about time. Focus on it. Be honest with yourself about how you spend each chunk of time in your day. And the most accurate way of doing this is to track your time in half-hour blocks. It not only helps you to see where you’re losing time, but also helps to keep you accountable and motivate you to do something productive with your time. You don’t really want to write down that you just spent an hour scrolling mindlessly through Facebook.

Make your down-time worthwhile

Using time effectively doesn’t mean you have to be constantly doing something. Rest is important too. But if you don’t feel refreshed or energised after your chill-out time, then you’re doin’ it wrong. If I spend an hour scrolling through Facebook and I come away from it with nothing but a headache and general feeling of annoyance, then I’ve wasted my time. But if I watch a 1-hour episode of a TV series with my husband and we connect over it and laugh about it or chat about it afterwards, then the down-time was worthwhile.  

Relaxation time can still be useful and productive
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Switch to something more productive

When you catch yourself doing something that’s not serving a purpose, switch to something more productive. Think about what you could be doing right now that’s going to get you closer to your goals. Whether it means getting your shoes on and going for a run, Googling a healthy recipe for dinner, putting a load of washing away, or doing some research for a project you’re working on, there’s always something productive that you can fit in right now with the time and the energy that you have. Put down your phone and just do something. One trap I fall into is thinking that I can’t do anything while my toddler is around because he slows me down, gets in my way, wants me to pick him up all the time etc. And sure, I can’t write an essay or clean the whole house while he’s around, but I can probably put a few things away or write up a meal plan for the week.

Time to wrap it up…

Just being conscious of what I’m doing and what my goals are helps me to use my time more effectively. But it takes practice to maintain this consciousness. It’s so easy to get sucked into the busy-ness and exhaustion of everyday life, but then before you know it, the year has slipped away and you haven’t achieved what you set out to achieve.

Increase your awareness of where your time is going. Let’s start thinking about it now so that we can still fit everything we want to do into the rest of the year. Leave me a comment to let me know your best time management tips, or your biggest time management problems!

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Learnings from a family weekend getaway

One of my #19for2019 goals was to plan a weekend getaway for me, my husband, our toddler, and our two dogs. Now the reason this was a bit of a challenge for me is that I’m usually a bit resistant to changing my routine or stepping outside my comfort zone. Weekends away just sound like a lot of hard work! All that packing, all the decisions about where to eat, trying to wrangle a toddler in unfamiliar territory… Not to mention the cost involved!

Stressed about planning a family holiday with toddler and dogs. Picture is a woman sitting on a bed with her head down, holding a coffee cup.
The thought of planning a family holiday causes me more stress than excitement.

But my husband loves to go away, and he knows that once I’m there I love it too. So whenever we do go anywhere he’s the one that does all the planning work and I stay right out of it. Which, I think sometimes makes him feel like I’m just not interested in spending time with him. Not true.

So I challenged myself to plan a weekend getaway. And I learnt some interesting things!

What my weekend getaway taught me

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to have a break.

I found a reasonably priced Air b’n’b which was pet friendly. This meant we could take our two dogs and didn’t have to worry about finding pet sitters or burdening family with the responsibility. Knowing that with the dogs and the toddler it would be tricky to go out for meals, I took our meals with us. I had a curry and a bolognaise in the freezer from a while back when I did a big cook-up. So I took those and some pasta and rice to cook once we were there. Super easy! Some basic essentials got us through breakfast and lunch, and all we bought once we were there was some milk, bread, and some cheese & crackers to have with our wine.

Eating on holidays with a toddler.
Taking food with us cut down on costs and made meal times with the toddler easy.

It doesn’t have to be action packed.

Just being away from home is relaxing, because you don’t have to worry about all the housework you should be doing, or anything else on your to-do list. Getting away from all the clutter in your home gives you breathing space, space to think, space to just be together and enjoy each other’s company.

mum and toddler relaxing on weekend getaway.
Nothing else matters on family weekend getaways except spending time together.

Kids are adaptable.

My toddler has certain routines that I don’t dare mess with. For example, when I get him out of his cot I must kiss his moo cow first, then play peek-a-boo with moo cow, then Archie is ready to get up and moo cow can bugger off. All hell breaks loose if I forget to give moo cow some lovin’. But other than that, the tiny tyrant was totally cool with his new digs. He loved exploring the back yard and was mostly just ecstatic that there were several sliding doors he could play with for hours. He slept well in the portacot, loved sitting outside to eat, and had plenty of space on the deck to practice his new walking skills.

Toddler playing with a door on his weekend getaway.
The toddler loved exploring new places and playing with all the doors!

The housework can wait.

One of the reasons I’m reluctant to go away is because I’ll get so far behind in all the daily routine stuff. I worry about not being able to catch up again and that things will get too far out of control. But it really isn’t the end of the world if we get a little bit behind in this stuff. It can all wait. Making memories with your family is much more fun (and important) than having a clean and tidy house. It may take a little while to catch up and get back into the daily routines, but that’s okay!

A west highland white terrier relaxes by a pot plant on his weekend getaway.
Teddy was glad to have a break from the housework!

So all in all, our weekend getaway was a success. Sure, it was a bit of work to get organised and get us all there, but it was totally worth the lovely memories we have now. We didn’t do a lot, but it was guilt-free chilling. And it was a good warm up for our next holiday… Fiji, here we come!

Get in touch

Am I the only one who stresses about going on holidays? I’d love to hear your tips for making family holidays easier! Leave me a comment or share your thoughts on my Facebook page.

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HELLO AGAIN

HELLO AGAIN

Life has really been kicking my butt lately. I’ve been scrambling to keep my head above water, and just between you and me, I’ve been running a lot. Not the kind of running that’ll give me a good butt, either. Just running from that ol’ Black Dog that’s been chasing me for a while. So Fly Life has taken a back seat, allowing me to focus on the essentials of self care and basic life management.

The problem though, is that it’s been so long since I posted a blog (maybe 5 or 6 weeks?) that I have found myself feeling really stuck about what to write about! When I’ve been struggling myself, I start doubting that I’m the right person to be dishing out advice on personal development and positive psychology!

But then I try to remember that when I’m having a hard time being a parent, I’d rather hear advice and stories from other parents than from an ‘expert’ who’s never actually had kids. So maybe in the same vein, I am the right person to share my ideas and learnings, because I’ve actually had to apply them.

I’M BAAACK….

So this is just a post to say, “hello, I’m back”.

While I’ve been gone, I have been thinking about the future of Fly Life and I’m excited about the possibilities. I’m putting together some workshops, thinking about an e-book, and really wanting to get the blog pumping.

I would love to hear from you. Is there something you’d like me to write about? Something you’re struggling with in your own life? What topics of workshops do you think would be useful? It would really boost my motivation and help me to home in on what you’re interested in if you’d get in touch via the comments, Facebook, or a private email.

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How to use your energy for the things you value most

WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?

Life gets busy. So busy in fact, that some days you skip breakfast, drink too many coffees just to try and keep your energy up, and snap at your loved ones because they just don’t get it. You probably don’t even mind being a bit busy – it’s better than being bored, right? But you take on more and more… and more… until you’re completely overwhelmed and heading straight to Burnout Boulevarde.

Every now and then you need to remember to stop and reassess your priorities. It can be so easy to get caught up in what’s urgent, what you feel obliged to do, or what other people need from you. When this happens, we tend to forget what actually matters most to us. And what matters most is what we should be spending the majority of our energy on.

For example, my family and my health & wellbeing are two of the top most important things to me. But when life gets busy, I tend to spend LESS energy on those things, and in fact sabotage them! When work gets really busy and stressful, I’m less inclined to spend quality time with my husband and I get frustrated with the baby being so needy. I spend all my energy on work and then I’m too tired to make healthy meals so I eat crap and don’t fit in any exercise.

What makes it so tricky is that my work is important to me too. But is it MORE important than family and health? Nope. So why does it get more energy than those things? It shouldn’t.

How you spend your energy should reflect your values.


Rank your values

Take a few minutes to list all the things that are important to you.

Now rank the top 5.

This can be really hard, but be honest with yourself. No one else needs to see this.

Here’s an example, but your list might contain totally different things, or in a totally different order.

List your top 5 values in order of priority

Rank your energy expenditure

Now you have to be even more honest with yourself… how are you currently spending your time and energy? Again, rank it from highest to lowest, and remember you’re just looking at the top 5 energy consumers in your life.

If it looks like this:

  1. Work
  2. Facebook
  3. Reality TV
  4. Sobbing into my wine glass
  5. Commuting to and from work

… then you’ve got a problem to fix.

Match ‘em up!

Once you’ve identified what’s important to you and how you’re currently spending your time & energy, it’s time to make some changes.

How can you re-structure your time and prioritise the things that are most important to you?

Sometimes just becoming aware of the difference between your priorities and your energy expenditure is enough to start making small changes.

But sometimes you need to make some really big, tough decisions. For example, if your job is sucking the life out of you but doesn’t even rank on your Top 5 values, it’s time to start looking for a new job. If your family is draining all of your energy but they’re not the number one value, you might need to start setting some boundaries and putting other things first.

Wrapping up…

This is a great exercise to do when life is getting busy or overwhelming, or when you just can’t seem to fit in things that are important to you. You might like to do this exercise as part of a regular review of your life and goals.

Remember that the point of the exercise is not to rank things that you think should be important to you. It’s not about ranking what other people value. It’s about what YOU value. If you really value reality TV more than work, GREAT! Make sure it ranks higher and find ways to put more of your energy toward that. This is all about identifying what you value most, and living for those values.

I hope you find this helpful and would love to hear what you think of the exercise.

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5 Things my Yoga Teacher Taught Me That Changed My Life

5 things my yoga teacher taught me that changed my life

My first yoga teacher was a gentle, earnest, spiritual, and funny woman. When I started yoga, it was because I had quit smoking and was trying to find some other way to calm my mind and improve my body. I was at the beginning of my path to self-improvement, and Penny, my yoga teacher, was a strong supporter and guide. Without even realising it, she did so much to inspire me.

We became friends and she followed my progress with interest. I was honoured when she asked me to do some early editing of her audiobook, and I was always inspired by her constant search for ways to improve herself and to learn as much as she possibly could. She was in her late sixties, but had so much enthusiasm and zest for life.

I was so sad to learn this past week that she passed away recently. We hadn’t kept in touch these last few years after I moved away, so I wasn’t even aware that she was ill. I regret that I didn’t do more to stay in touch with this wonderful woman. Despite not staying in touch, she frequently pops up in my mind. She was such a positive influence for me, and there are many things she taught me that are always coming up in my day to day life.

5 things my yoga teacher taught me (that aren’t yoga postures):

Never stop learning.

Penny inspired me to complete my degree and then keep on learning.

Penny had such a thirst for knowledge and made me realise how fortunate we are to be able to learn pretty much anything we want. She struggled with technology but there was no way in the world she was ever going to let it beat her! I used to think I’ll just finish my degree and I’ll be done with education. But Penny inspired me to think of all the things I’d love to learn one day, and now I can’t ever imagine not working at learning something. I’ve developed her enthusiasm for constantly learning. Whether it’s through formal education channels, or teaching yourself something through YouTube and online tutorials, the possibilities are endless.

You can control your mind.

There are so many things in the world that are beyond our immediate control. But Penny taught me that no matter what is going on around you, the one thing you have full control over is your mind. With focus and practice, you can take yourself to where you want to be emotionally and spiritually. In times of intense fear and danger, I was able to remain somewhat calm by using this skill.

You don’t have to be the best, but you do have to be better than your previous self.

I’ve always been a bit of a high achiever, but I’ve never been the best at anything. The feeling of total inadequacy has been a constant thing in my life. Penny taught me through yoga that it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing or achieving. Their experience is different to yours. What matters is that you are working on being better than you were previously. I have taken this and applied it to all areas of my life. Instead of the constant feeling of inadequacy, I now have a frequent feeling of achievement because I know that however far from perfect I might be, I’m still better than I was before. And that’s progress. Penny was always far more excited about progress than she was about complete mastery!

Be true to yourself.

Penny was passionate about a lot of things. A lot of those things were a bit weird. She had some spiritual practices that would raise eyebrows simply because they were out of the ordinary. We would go out for lunch to a café and she would bring out this little gadget and put a tiny portion of her food inside it. The first time this happened I was very confused. Was she taking some home for a pet mouse or something? No, it was an offering to the Gods, she explained nonchalantly, then proceeded to say a prayer and then urged me to eat. While I did not feel the need to take up this practice (mainly because I don’t like to share my food), I loved and respected that it was an important practice to her, and she would not allow others to modify it.

I’ve since learned that this is a pretty common practice in some religions, but it was very rare to see it occurring in a public place in the country town I lived in.

You can teach others even while you are still learning yourself.

Penny had an expansive knowledge of yoga, but she was very open about the fact that she was still learning herself. There were some postures that she could not quite master, but she would still teach them to others and would show great excitement about the fact that we were all learning together. By being open and upfront about what you do and don’t know, and by continuing to learn with your students, you can in fact be a better teacher than one who believes they have mastered the subject and has nothing more to learn.

I will continue to miss Penny and to think of her often, because she truly helped to change my life. The principles I’ve mentioned in this post are some of the main drivers of Fly Life.

A challenge for you:

Think about who has inspired your beliefs, your behaviours, your dreams. Who do you want to be like?

Sometimes it’s not until someone is gone that you realise what a huge influence they have been in your life. So today I challenge you to think about who inspires you, and why. What have they taught you, or how have they changed the way you do things? If you want, you can just do this as a private exercise, but I’d love it if you would share your thoughts in the comments!

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Personal Development: ‘Fly Life’ Style

Personal Development: ‘Fly Life’ Style

Personal development is such a huge field and probably means different things to different people. My interest in personal development started at a time when I realised that I couldn’t always change a situation, but I could change how I respond to it. I could change myself. So I started making tiny changes that rapidly built up until I was actually quite a different person to who I started out as.

This doesn’t mean that I’ve reached the end point in my personal development journey. I think it’s a lifelong pursuit to be a better person, to be someone you’re proud of, to live a life that you love and are proud of.

I’m not out to “fix” anyone or tell people what’s right and wrong. I’m just enjoying my own path to self-improvement and I like to share my own experiences and some things I’ve learned along the way through my studies.

My view on personal development, and what I hope to bring you through my blog, is this:

Personal Development Fly Life Style.

Always try to be a little bit better than the person you were yesterday.

Try to make someone else’s day a little bit better than it was before they interacted with you.

Be conscious of what kind of person you want to be, and work toward it.

Make gradual changes, have a go at new ways of doing things, new ways of thinking.

Life is a constant experiment. Have fun testing what works for you and what doesn’t.

If you don’t like something, change it, or at least change how you respond to it.

What it looks like in practice:

Some days you might experiment with developing a small habit, like say for example, making your bed or doing meal prep for the week. Other times you might experiment with something huge like starting a new career, studying a new field, or ending a toxic relationship.

I’m focusing big this year on just trying to always be a little bit better than I was before. Personal development is NOT about being better than someone else. It’s not about proving anything to anyone else. Really, it’s just about being who YOU want to be.

Even when I’ve had a bad day, I feel okay when I can go to bed knowing that at least I tried to do something positive about it.

You with me?

So if this seems like your version of personal development, self-improvement, growth…. whatever you want to call it… come hang out with me. Follow my blog, subscribe to my newsletter, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, or send me an email now and then. Let me know what you want to read about or talk about. Tell me what you find useful. Share your tips or experiment findings with other readers! Let’s make each day a little better than the one before.

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Start planning now for your best year ever!

There’s something at this time of year I get even more excited about than Christmas. Don’t get me wrong – Christmas is great. I love the special time with family, the music, the food and drink, the games… and of course I love tracking Santa so I know when it’s time to go to bed.

But there’s something else that I get really excited about, but I never tell anyone. It’s the approaching new year. A fresh start! The opportunity for new goals and resolutions! A brand spankin’ new diary!!! Squeeeeaaaal!

I really do believe that you can start a new goal or a new resolution any old time. But at the start of a New Year is obviously the ultimate starting point.

This gets a little tricky in one way. Here in Australia we are still often in holiday mode right throughout January. Even if we’re back at work, the long summer days and hot weekends tend to mean more socialising and relaxing than normal. Which in turn can be detrimental to your goals… unless of course your goal is to socialise and relax more.

So the way I handle this is to treat all of January as my starting point. I work on my new goals with the plan to have them firmly in place by the end of the month.

Make the whole month the starting point, not just Jan 1.

For several years I tried to quit smoking. I tried at all different times of the year, but it was always a New Years Resolution. It was eight years ago that my resolution changed slightly. Instead of “Quit Smoking on January 1”, my resolution became “Be a healthy non-smoker by the end of January”.

Quit Smoking
I had the whole month to practice quitting, but after I got through the first three days I knew that it wasn’t worth going through it again. So I quit on the 9th of January 2011 and haven’t looked back.

I was still on holidays from work for that first week of January, so trying to completely stop smoking during that time would be a disaster. Like it had been every other year! But every other year when I failed on day two and had a cigarette, I just accepted that I’d failed my resolution again, and went on smoking.

This time though, things were different. During that first week of January I would think about quitting every time I lit up. I would try different techniques like delay and distraction for as long as possible. But when I eventually caved and lit the cigarette, rather than calling myself a failure, I acknowledged that I was making progress and there was still time to quit before the end of the month.

The last time I smoked a cigarette was 9 January 2011. Almost 8 years ago. I was successful that time for a number of reasons, which I’ll write about in another post, but one important reason was that I’d given myself some room to move. Maybe that would work for your resolutions, and maybe not. But it’s something to consider!

All I know, is that year I changed how I approached my New Year’s Resolutions, and that was the beginning of a totally new and happier life.

Start planning now.

Anyway, back to my geeky excitement over the prospect of setting resolutions…

New Year’s Resolutions are too important just to make on a drunken whim on New Year’s Eve.

Start thinking now about how you want next year to look. More than that, how do you want it to FEEL?

Imagine this: It’s this time next year. You bump into an old friend who asks how your year has been. Your response is: “2019 was my best year EVER! Nothing could have been better!” Now pick apart what things might have happened during the year that could lead to that statement.

You might have just identified some goals to work toward!

Start thinking now about how you want 2019 to look. Having the plan formulating in the back of your mind will help set you up for success.

There’s no need to sit and do a whole planning session right now. I’m sure there’s a million other things you need to get done before the fat man in red turns up. But I think it’s good to at least have this stuff swirling around in your mind so that when you do sit down to do some serious planning, you’re already primed.

Looking back on this year.

I think it’s always important when looking forward to your new goals, to also reflect on the past. It’s good to recognise what went really well, because this encourages us to keep going. Acknowledging what the challenges were helps us to plan for similar situations in the future.

Here are some questions you might like to ask yourself:

Ask yourself some big questions to reflect on the year that has just passed.

  • What has gone particularly well for you this year?
  • Did you achieve something great?
  • What did you work really hard at?
  • What is your happiest memory of the year?
  • Are there things you could have done better?
  • What things about the year do you wish you could have changed?
  •  What was the hardest thing you faced this year? How did you get through it?

These questions might also feed into how you setup your resolutions for the New Year. We want more of the good stuff and less of the crappy stuff!

Set aside a planning date.

Those days between Christmas and New Year are a beautiful time to set aside some time to sit and work through all of this in detail. You are setting your year up for happiness and success, so it’s worth putting a little bit of time and effort into.

Set yourself up for an explosion of possibilities!

For me, I’ll be trying to put aside a couple of hours at least. The house will need to be quiet. I will need a glass of wine and a clear desk. I’ll reflect on 2018, and plan for 2019. Perhaps I’ll consider the different domains of my life and have resolutions for each one. Maybe I’ll think about doing my own Happiness Project (which I’m currently reading). Or maybe I’ll have an overarching theme for the year that I’ll break down into goals.

Ohhhhh the possibilities. I can’t wait to let my mind explode with ideas, visions, goals, and plans.

And perhaps in another 8 years’ time, just like my quit-smoking achievement, I’ll be able to identify this as another significant turning point in my life.

Will you join me in setting up 2019 to be your best year ever? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Let’s NOT catch up before Christmas!

She’s making her list and checking it twice. Make that six times. Because even though she looked at it five other times, she was also juggling a screaming baby, trying to get the washing in, doing some overtime, and answering a bajillion questions from her husband. So she forgot what was on the list.

But now she’s checked it six times and rushed out to get some late-night groceries after the baby has gone to bed. Don’t worry, daddy is home with the baby! She’s madly trying to find everything in the store and wondering how far in advance she can buy Christmas food. Will it go bad? Will it get eaten before Christmas meaning not only that it goes BACK on the list, but so does a new pair of jeans in a bigger size?

She’s just remembered the Christmas party this weekend that she needs a Secret Santa gift for. Add that to the list. She’s wondering if she’s got the energy to get a few gifts from K-mart after this since it’s the only place she can think of that’s still open at this hour.

And then she turns the corner and sees a familiar face. It’s an old friend she hasn’t seen in a while. They have a great chat about how busy and stressed they both are. And then comes the dreaded phrase she knew was coming…

“Anyway, let’s catch up before Christmas!”

WHYYYYYYY dear God?! WHYYYYY?

One of two scenarios often happen next:

  • They agree on a time and place and she goes home feeling more overwhelmed and stressed.
  • They agree to catch up but don’t arrange anything specific so she feels stressed anyway and awkwardly avoids that friend until the same thing happens sometime next year.

Now step this way, and stay with me…

Imagine for a moment. You’re working at a retirement home and there’s an assembly for all the female residents. Tom Jones swaggers in and promises to take one lucky lady out for dinner. The first person to reach the stage wins.

Suddenly you have old ladies who haven’t walked in years leaping out of their wheelchairs. Others are whacking the competition with their walking frames, with a strength they certainly didn’t have when you were asking them to move from their bed to the chair.

Nobody gets between Martha and Tom Jones

Hips are breaking, wigs are flying. You’re trying to push three wheelchairs at a time so as not to show any favouritism. Martha reaches the stage and Harriet screams that Martha’s a no-good lesbian cheat. (Harriet’s not a nice person actually, and we’re secretly glad she didn’t win after this snarky comment).

The residents from the dementia ward next door have just arrived and most of them believe they’re under attack. And now you’ve been informed that you must assist everyone back to their rooms within the next ten minutes…

Hectic, right?

This scene is maybe a bit fun to watch,  but also panic-inducing and very alarming! That’s what life is like in the lead up to Christmas. (I promise I’ll work harder on my metaphors).

But seriously, life is crazy at this time of year. So unless there’s some urgent pressing reason you NEED to catch up with that person in the very near future, DON’T!

Catch up after the craziness when you can relax and enjoy!

It doesn’t mean you don’t care about them or value them. It means that you value your sanity. And it also means that you value that person enough to want to save the catch-up until after Christmas, when things are quieter and calmer. When you can relax together and laugh about all the family madness you’ve both experienced over Christmas.

I’ve started politely declining invitations to catch up before Christmas. Most people understand when you say that you just can’t fit more in but would love to catch up after Christmas.

You know that quiet period when you feel a bit lost because all the excitement and madness is over? You’ve come out of your food coma and you’re ready to face the world again. The only thing you really should be doing is that big decluttering project that you swore you’d do in your holidays… THIS IS THE PERFECT TIME to squeeze in those extra catch-ups!

So do whatever is right for you in the lead-up to Christmas. If catching up with friends is what gets you through the season, do it. But if it adds a layer of stress, just lovingly say no. Arrange a later session instead. Start the new year with some fun social engagements to look forward to.

How do you feel about pre-Christmas catch-ups? Love them? Hate them? Think I’m just a grumpy loner who doesn’t get it? Let me know in the comments!

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Surviving grief

So many people I know and love are grieving at the moment. I have been absorbed in my own grief for the past two years after my friend was killed in a tragic theme park accident. Dealing with grief has been one of the hardest things I’ve experienced. So to witness my loved ones experiencing it now is tough. There is nothing I can say or do to make it better for them.

My husband’s cherished grandmother passed away very recently. The grief has hit him hard. For many years she has been warning the family that she won’t be around the for the next Christmas. So I guess in a way we all thought we were prepared for this. But you can never really be prepared to lose someone you love, regardless of their age or the circumstances leading to their death.

Other friends and loved ones have recently lost their dads, their mums, their brothers, their sisters, their partners, their pets, their mates. And they weren’t prepared either.  In fact, most of the deaths were sudden and unexpected.

Grief is an emotion that can have more power than anything you’ve experienced before. It hits you when you least expect it. A smell, a song, an object, a phrase… tiny details that trigger massive waves of emotion.

Not the kind of waves that lap at the shore, either. The kind that knock you over, drag you under, and throw you around until you don’t know which way will bring you back up to the air.

Over time, you might learn to let the wave drag you under. You’ll learn to stop fighting it,  just give in to it, knowing that once it does its thing, you’ll eventually float back up to the surface.

Soon, you’ll start to see the wave coming, and you might learn to swim into it, making it a much less frightening experience. Eventually, the waves will mostly just lap at the shore. Consistent, frequent, but manageable.

And then it will only be the very occasional moments that you’ll get hit by a strong one again when you’re not looking. You’ll be dragged under, tossed around, and eventually come back up for air thinking, “where the hell did that come from?”

Surrender to the grief and let love be your lifebuoy.

They say grief is the price we pay for love. When you’re experiencing grief, it makes love seem too expensive. Like if you knew it was going to cost this much, maybe you would have left it on the shelf. But in time, when the initial pain has dulled a little, you remember all the happiness. You realise that the value of the love was much higher than the cost.

 

So surrender to the ocean of grief. Love will be your lifebuoy.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Grief is a very normal and healthy emotion and process. But if you are having difficulty dealing with your grief and need support, please speak with a professional or someone you trust.

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4 ways to restore your energy

Life is busy, stressful and sometimes draining. It doesn’t matter how motivated and dedicated you are to your goals, sometimes your energy just fizzles out or you feel completely overwhelmed. Others place huge demands on you, or you burn the candle at both ends. Whatever the cause of your depletion, you need to find a way to restore your energy. Then you can get back to living your best life.

Personality plays a part

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert is a huge factor in how you restore your energy. Lots of people believe that introversion means your shy while extroversion means you’re loud and social. That’s not entirely true. Introversion/extroversion is actually more about how you get your energy.

Introverts restore their energy from within, usually by having quiet time. Extroverts restore their energy by being around other people. Introverts can be very social and not at all shy, but they still prefer their own space when they’re feeling depleted. Extroverts on the other hand, can be very shy, but they still get their energy from being around other people.

I am most definitely an introvert. Not so much shy, but definitely socially awkward. And given the opportunity to go to a party or have the house to myself for a few hours, “Lock in B, Eddie!”

How I restore my energy

Since becoming a mum, I get very little time entirely to myself. When the baby’s asleep, the husband wants to talk to me, and when the husband’s working, the baby needs my attention. Even when everyone else is asleep, I’m listening out for the baby or trying to think ahead to what he’ll need when he wakes up.

In my day job I’m meeting with people every day that I’ve never met before. I need to learn a lot of information about them in a short space of time. Then I go back to my desk which is in an open plan environment and can be extremely noisy as discussions go on around the office.

All of this is completely draining to me. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy any of it. I love ALL of it. But it drains my energy. So I need to then find some quiet time to recharge.

These are my favourite ways to restore my energy:

Cooking

The combination of following a process and being creative is therapeutic and energising.

Not the kind of cooking where you’re trying to get dinner on the table before the kid loses his mind and the husband eats all the snacks. The kind of cooking where the kitchen is clean, the music is playing, and I can create. The aspects of cooking that bring me comfort are a bit contradictory. On one hand I enjoy having a process to follow. But on the other hand, I like deviating a bit and being creative. I tend to look at a heap of different recipes and then make my own up based loosely on what I’ve read.

 

Reading brings me inspiration or temporary escape…

Reading

Whether I’m reading to learn, or reading to escape, it restores my energy. The non-fiction books I read teach me about something I’m interested in. This inspires me and boosts my energy a lot. When I read fiction, I remove myself from my own world for a little while and become totally absorbed in another story. My brain gets a chance to let go of all my own issues and worries. My body gets a chance to rest. And I feel restored.

Planning

Mapping out my week and my tasks helps me feel more in control.

Stress often builds up and energy begins to drain when I’m feeling overwhelmed. The best way I’ve found to combat this is to sit down and write it all out. Dumping all my tasks onto a bit of paper and then sorting out a plan helps me to feel calmer and more in control. I like to plan my meals, my week, my goals, and my work. More often than not, I have to deviate from the plan. Things come up. That’s life. But working out the plan is therapeutic for me, and having the plan helps me feel a bit more energised and focused.

Soaking

A luxurious bath relaxes me entirely, then restores my energy to face the world.

One of my favourite, but most rare forms of energy restoration is a luxurious soak in the bath. Hot water, bubbles, essential oils, soft music, and a good novel. And a glass of wine. Don’t forget the wine. This gives me some time out away from every other human, relaxes all my muscles, and makes me feel pampered. At the end of it, I’m usually nice and relaxed and ready to face the world again. It makes me a bit sad to realise that it’s been about two years since I’ve properly enjoyed this experience, so it’s going on my list for 2019 to make it a more regular occurrence.

Other (boring but important) forms of energy restoration

Now of course, there are other ways to restore your energy that are important to mention. These are the things that are important for all people, regardless of whether you are an introvert or extrovert. They are also the things that we read about alllll the time and know we should be doing… you know the ones.

Food.

Water.

Exercise.

Sleep.

I’m not gonna go into them in this post but keep them in mind. They really do help!

So I’ve talked about some of my favourite ways to restore my energy as an introvert. I’d love to hear your favourite methods. Please leave a comment below!

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