There’s Peace in Process

I’ve held back on this post since typing up it’s title in June. Back then I had this overwhelming need to write about surrender and acceptance, presence and patience. I felt like I was just on the brink of reaching it. Just.

I’ve held back on this post since typing up it’s title in June. Back then I had this overwhelming need to write about surrender and acceptance, presence and patience. I felt like I was just on the brink of reaching it. Just.

See I returned home to the lovely Apple-Isle of Tasmania at the end of 2011 after spending seven glorious years in sunny Queensland. I was convinced that I’d be here ‘just for a little while’ until my husband finished out his fly-in-fly-out contract. I was sure his work would return us interstate in a year or so. While it wasn’t my first choice to come back home I resided to the fact that I should settle-in to enjoy being closer to family and old friends and discover a new romance with Tassie’s well known unique island lifestyle.

I hated it.

For a long time. In fact there were probably two whole years I spent completely absorbed by a mindset that had me pointing out everything I didn’t like about my location and circumstance. I struggled through the darkness and freezing temperatures of winter. My job wasn’t giving me the kicks I needed to feel progressive in my career and I felt a complete disconnect from mainland Australia the rest of the world. And without detailing too much of my inner Negative-Nancy’s stories let’s just say in a nutshell Tassie’s lifestyle is typical of that in most regional areas  – it’s just not for me.

Naturally my mental state took a battering in this frame of mind. Nancy crept into any space I’d let her. I saw very little good, every bit of the bad and spotted the ugly (and unfortunate) a mile away. I have to say, while my friends are reluctant to, I know this attitude turned me into a real drag to be around. Who wants to go out with a chic who’s all about telling you how crap the town is that you choose to live in? Yep, draaag.

I knew it was happening. I could feel my good vibes and optimistic outlook on life flying out the frosted door. But my wish and will for things to change was so strong and no match for a few self-help books and positive inspiration feeds I grappled with.

All because it wasn’t perfect. The situation wasn’t my ideal. And ultimately, what I wanted wasn’t happening when I wanted it to. Tutt, tutt, tutt.

In the moments we feel like we’re at battle with ourselves and our lives I think it’s pretty hard to do what we know is right and ‘trust the process’. And in my experience most people choose to mutter these words only when there’s a positive opportunity in the mix. Rarely are they spoken when you’re in a completely screwed up situation e.g. after the four hour drive to Falls Festival you realize you left your ticket at home (true story!), not cool and pretty hard to see why ‘trust’ in that process would benefit you.

So yes, it’s harder than it sounds but evidently it can work out. It does work out.

When I drafted this post back in June I’d surrendered to trusting in the process. It’s all I had left. I’d spent so much energy on wishing and willing things to happen a certain way that my ‘wishing’ well was at an all time low – I was tired.

But with fatigue came surrender. Surrender grew acceptance and acceptance let me just be. And just being (in it’s simplest form) is the most blissful state I can be in regardless of it’s geographic location.

Surrender started small. Rather than resent all the big things that triggered my Negative-Nancy attitude I focused on the act itself. I opted out of criticizing the limited night-life options that drove me crazy and focused on the opportunity of actually having a girls night instead. I was after all lucky I to have my good girlfriends around me. Gratitude grew. And rather than curse the cold weather, I treasure-hunted hearty and healthy recipes, learnt to light a fire and devoured Pinterest for winter outfit inspiration.

They were small (but deliberate) changes in my focus and kept me exactly where I needed to be and discover what I needed to learn: presence and patience.

Then, it happened.

Last Thursday, my husband greeted me at the door with words I’d been waiting so long to hear: ‘We’re all on for Newcastle.’

In seconds after he gave me the news I wish I could tell you that that I had a cathartic outpouring of relief, excitement and gratitude for what was now finally happening. There was no such moment.

And a quote comes to mind:

“Peace is in the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”

Wayne W. Dwyer

And that’s the only explanation I have for my reaction; I’m at peace with the process.

I truly believe that when you totally accept your moment in time, when you unashamedly learn the lesson and give complete acknowledgement to the feeling – effortlessly – things will start to make sense. Life will seem to fit and striving will stop.

Like I said – it’s harder than it sounds – but if you’re beating yourself about because things aren’t flowing and life just isn’t panning out as planned do the thing that you’re most fearful of: surrender. Trust the process, see the simple and let the Universe catch you the way it’s meant to.

Images: BustBright, Wokisnotajob.com, Best Quotations 4 UCoffeeinthemountains.tumbler.comJoyreactor.com, alohatides

The Post-Baby Body: The Celebrity vs. You

loveyourlines

Admittedly I was kind of shocked. The #loveyourlines campaign on Instagram is pretty confronting stuff if you’re a woman who loves nothing more than to hide them. And I am one such lady.

I can only admire the almost 200 women who’ve hashtaged their personal struggles and stories with their post-baby body onto the page. With over 63,000 people following the trend it’s clearly a point of interest.

And I’m going to guess that’s because there’s strong support (and perhaps curiosity) for how so many women can dig a whole lot deeper to celebrate more than what’s stretched across the surface. In a world obsessed with the celebrity post-baby slim down here’s a bunch an army of women who not only can let-go of perceived perfection but are willing to declare it with a photograph for the world to see. Gutsy stuff.

I think it’s this gutsy sharing amongst women that has this campaign turning comparison on its head. When I first landed on the hundreds of images of ripples, rolls, scars and sags it kinda brought a feeling of comfort. You know that moment when you confess something to a girlfriend and she turns to you and says “Yep, I have that too.” There’s a bit of relief that you’re not alone. Or (and this probably isn’t in line with the spirit of the campaign – but) that yours aren’t as bad? It’s human female nature.

So comparison got me reminiscing on an article I wrote in my last year of uni titled The post-baby body: The celebrity versus you. It was around the time Miranda  Kerr stepped onto the catwalk three months after giving birth – and it was headline news.

I wanted to look a little closer at the celebrity-post-baby-body thing; why do we love it and hate it equally as much? Enter a switched on psychology researcher with some aussie-grown research on the ‘Yummy-Mummy’ and a recently new mum and gym instructor and I had full-term team of experts.

And for a bit of insight (and a flash-back to a short-lived interest in traditional journalism) it’s here for your perusing. And, as the article explores, whoever the comparison comes next to let’s keep it real.

THE POST-BABY BODY: THE CELEBRITY VERSUS YOU

Another celebrity post-baby body: Celebuzz.com features model Miranda Kerr returning to work on Malibu Beach, California on April 17, 2011. Kerr gave birth to a son Flynn January 6, 2011.

 

That toned and tanned tummy. Those ever so delicately defined arms. And that highly perched and perfectly rounded butt – it looks like it must have been poured into that bikini.

In a photograph taken just three months after giving birth Miranda Kerr’s beautiful body is no doubt that of a supermodel.

It’s hard for our eyes not to be drawn to yet another celebrity’s trim and tight post-baby body splashed across a cover page. Internet sites like People.com even include a body watch segment allowing you to compare a celebrity’s post-baby body before and after. But it’s this attraction to celebrity post-baby bodies that sparks a thought for any non-celebrity mum feeling pressure and expectation to lose the baby weight.

As a gym instructor said she had a horrible perception of mothers who still carried weight from their pregnancy. Laughing, Shannon said she questioned why they hadn’t lost the kilos.

“How mean is that? No sympathy what so ever…suck it up get out there and jump higher and you lose everything and that’s how it’ll work,” Shannon said.

Three years down her path of motherhood and just days away from expecting her second child Shannon is now more empathetic admitting to feeling the pressure to lose her own baby weight.

“Everyone said to me ‘You’ll bounce back straight away’. It took me a while and I thought with the fitness ability I had and the knowledge I had… I also thought a lot of people were judging me because of that. For me the expectations I felt were very high,” she said.

Despite those expectations Shannon refuses to compare her post-baby weight loss to that of a celebrity’s.

“I hate it when they bring out celebrities [as a news item]….because they don’t talk about the rest of their life.

When Miranda Kerr came out the other day and all my friends are sitting there saying ‘Wow she’s beautiful’ and I said ‘Yes she is and I take nothing away from her in regards to that however… she has a personal trainer, a chef, a baby sitter. Bring it back to reality. That is not what the majority of women can do.”

In 2008 a study titled Post partum women’s body image: The curse of the yummy mummy psychology researcher Lucia Bongiorno said over 68% of participants indicated it was comparing themselves with their peer group rather than celebrities that made them feel they should diet and lose weight during the post-partum period.

“The socio cultural accepted ideal of body image is that thin is good,” Lucia said.

“Think about it if you put on weight, no one says anything to you…you lose weight and people will go ‘Oh my god you lost weight you look fantastic’. Why is it that we feel we can comment on when people lose weight but not when they gain weight? Because the socio cultural expectancies say that the skinnier you are the better you are and therefore we praise it.

While the media exerted the greatest amount of pressure on women to maintain the ideal, it was actually comparison with their peers, other mums, that made these women feel bad about their bodies and made them want to lose weight,” she said.

However the study also identified that a trend in celebrity body bounce backs was developing a new ideal for post-baby body image.

“We’ve had a group of celebrities that have given birth

Lucia explains that over a period of time the term ‘has emerged to describe the celebrity post-baby weight loss trend. The yummy mummy is young, stylish, attractive and very slim and acts as an alternative to society’s thin ideal relevant to women having babies.

“The media stereotype of the yummy mummy places undue pressure on new mothers to perform to an unrealistic ideal.”

“You’re standing at the supermarketyou stand in line to pay for petrol at the petrol station it’s there. And you might have a quick scan of the cover while you’re next in line to pay. The message is there in our face, the beautiful body image.”

But for Shannon, the unrealistic ideal is only relevant if you let yourself be carried away with that celebrity image.

“Yes the instant perception is ‘My god she looks amazing, I’ve got to look like that,’ but then maybe a bit more reflection. Keep it real.”

 

Images: loveyourlines, DailyNews.com

 

Love to hear your thoughts on this one in the comments below! Or share if you another lady needing a little post-baby uplift x

What stories are you telling yourself?

I have a tendency to get global, quickly. By this I mean that often I get totally consumed by what’s in front of me and in front of my mind. Hold a magazine up to your face so it touches your nose. Yep, it’s like that.

You can’t read the words of the story, they’re blurred beyond recognition. You can, however, smell the pages, get a glimpse of one or two images and as your retinas try to focus you might make out one or two of the title words. And you remember the story:

‘Comparison tells all – you’re falling behind.’

Or perhaps the tagline:

‘Get down from that big vision and back to reality.’

or last month’s cover story:

‘101 reasons why you’re just not good enough yet.’

Oh and did I mention they were all by the same author? You may have heard her words before? Ms. Inner Critic.

For me, she’s been published quite a bit of late so I’m busting her on the irresponsible journalism she’s been toting. It’s the sensationalised, self-doubt one-liners that we always hear. Never the good stories. So let’s check it.

Here’s 3 ways (or phrases – whichever you prefer) that might be useful to front her:

1. Identify (a.k.a. ‘Like that’s even half-way true? Bitch pleease.’)

Really needed that a big breathe in huh? And that long exhale? Where did that come from? What were you thinking about? It’s usually a sign you’ve been taking too many short breathes the last few minutes because your heart rate’s up thinkin’ and wishin’ about a…yep, story.

You’re tense, not at all motivated and you’re totally consumed by thoughts. They might even be hard to remember if you’re unconscious to what’s got you going. Identify the story-telling happening in this moment. Call it out and name it. ‘Oh, there it is again. That story: “<enter whatever fear, frustration or bad ju-ju story is relevant to you here>”.’

Verbalising (under your breathe and in private – I get you don’t want to seem cra-cra) is powerful. It brings a big and impossible catastrophe down to a, you guessed it, story.

2. Unhook (a.k.a. ‘You can just back the f*^& up’)

The key word here is separation. Accept that it’s just the story and separate yourself, your being, from that thought. Getting yourself to understand that you are not your thoughts is key to unhooking from the complete mind-consumption going on. For me,  it helps to take a deep breath in, say ‘ok’ and tilt my head to the right.

Yes I know that sounds weird (most humans favour their right side) but it’s brilliant in changing my vision and focus which is essential to the next step.

3. Break the story (a.k.a. A big Demi-Moore-in-Charlie’s-Angels hair flick and a ‘So whatcha gonna do about it?’)

Thr story needs a reel to run – make yours too pre-occupied to help. Start intense focus and attention on exactly what you’re doing in that moment. Washing the dishes? Take notice of the slight dis-colouration on the plate you’re rinsing or a chip in your favourite cup. On the computer? Pay attention to how the keys feel under your finger tips; slippery or soft?

Breaking the story is all about focusing on what’s in front of you right now because that’s opposite of what story wants to do. It wants to run into the future. Slowly, and if like me, after many attempts to distract your mind you’ll eventually have spent enough time away from that story to see it for what it really is – a fabricated article with out-of-context images and shaky according-to-a spokesperson-for-You quotes.

Your inner critic is often just you over-thinking. Over-thinking leads to stories and stories keep our minds far busier than they need to be.

Busy minds miss miracles.

And who wants to miss a miracle?

Image: lucile.be

Are you there yet? Getting clear on what you really want.

Feeling good is life’s primary intention…

 ‘The having-it-all pressure can drive you crazy when things aren’t so perfect. Like it did for Missy, who told me, “Hell, I had it all, on the outside. My business took off, my husband’s a great guy, I had two perfect toddlers. I even had the marble kitchen counter tops. But I was boozing it up in the pantry every afternoon because the pressure to be perfect was getting to me.” She went on: ”Ya know, sometimes I wanted to show up at our mommy walks without a great attitude, or without my makeup, and with my filthy kid, and just say, ‘Ladies, this is all I fuckin’ got to give today!’”

The Desire Map

Amen Missy. A. Men.

The above is an excerpt from an amaze-bomb book I’ve been pouring over the last few weeks: Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul.

Danielle’s a super star in the divinely-led blogger world. Her website, DanielleLaPorte.com, has been referred to as “the best place online for kick-ass spiritualty” and Forbes named it one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women”.

The girl is good.

There’s a bunch fields of quotes, personal stories and let’s-be-real advice that I’ve felt compelled to share with you. But I couldn’t deny my immediate connection to Missy’s story and it’s relevance to the message I’m trying to send here: Perfect ain’t always perfect.

For some of us, we unconsciously play the roles we think we want. Keyword: unconsciously.

We buy the house, study the degree, stay at the ‘good’ job we secured years ago and possibly in the same relationships that went with it. We set the goals and go after them. It makes sense to do this. It’s easier to do this. Until it’s not.

‘…Missy had a breakdown that turned out to be a breakthrough. She moved her family to the country, doubled her business, and quadrupled her peace of mind.’

The Desire Map

Like Missy, it starts with an undeniable feeling (or behaviour – e.g. pantry drinking) that eventually reaches a peak within us that we can no longer handle. We crack. We cry. We act-out or withdraw. We get conscious.

That – right there –  is your soul calling an intervention.

Why? Because…

Feeling good is life’s primary intention.

The brilliance of Danielle’s book is her ability to show you that achieving the ‘goal’ doesn’t always guarantee the ‘feeling-good’ aspect. As she explains:

‘You’re not chasing the goal, you’re chasing the feeling you hope reaching the goal will give you.’

The Desire Map

I get that. I believe that.

Exhibit A: I was a good girl, got good grades all through school and graduated with even better results at Uni. I got every job I ever applied for. Career pathways were offered to me by my boss-ladies and men. I was even part of a pretty cool ‘we’ and together had multiple houses, cash in the bank and lived (and bought) like we wanted. I’d say to myself over and over, ‘This is what you worked for. You have it. You can start feeling complete now please.’

I couldn’t make it happen. In fact the striving to-feel-complete sent me into a sad and messy state as I tried to talk myself into being happy with where I was.

 

Knowing when something’s not right for you (even when it’s ‘perfect’) is one of the best and worst things about being human. It’s called intuition.

It torments us when we’d rather just accept current reality and tread water. Yet, thankfully, it also guides us when we’re brave enough to start stepping on to a new path. It feels what it wants to feel. And if you’re subscribed to listening to it it’s undeniable.

How many times have you heard yourself say: ‘I can’t wait until <insert your seemingly far-far-away life goal here> so I can just feel…’. Sorted? At home? Like I’m qualified? Skinny? Whatever the feeling you’re yearning for, how many times have you declared that you ‘can not wait’ to feel this way?

The Desire Map light bulb moment for me? You don’t have to wait.

‘Small, deliberate actions inspired by you true desires create a life you love.’

The Desire Map

Whether you’ve arrived at your said goal or you’re still busy striving for it stop and reflect – use your intuition. Are you moving towards what you really want? That is: how you really want to feel?

If not, then shift the focus. Change the gears. Walk towards the feeling. In any way.

Do something that reminds you of what your real desire feels like. If affluent, knowledgeable, influential, ease or energised are in your desire vocabulary then do one thing today that makes you feel that way – however small.

 

Test drive the car you can’t yet afford, post a thought-provoking comment to influence conversation, do yoga to feel at ease or blend-up a green smoothie to spark the energy you’re chasing.

The Desire Map’s concept brings the future into the present. Most of us know pretty well whether moving closer or further away from how we really want to feel in our day but having the guts to do something about it has always, ALWAYS, been my sticking point. For this reason I ignored trampled on my something’s-not-right feelings for years.

The truth is we don’t have to wait. There’s no risky moves, resignations or eloping involved. Just small, intentional acts that edge us a little closer to the feelings we crave and in turn the true goals we aspire for in our life.

And while these small life-affirming gestures may seem insignificant they’re a nod to your soul. You hear it. You’re honoring the feeling today. And in that moment you’ll feel a little more positive about working towards where you really want to be. You’ll see possibilities your tormented and teased mind couldn’t comprehend before. You’ll let go of perfection and hold onto pursuit – of feeling good.

Again, why would we do this?

Because feeling good is life’s primary intention.

So thank you Danielle. For me, getting clear on what you actually want to feel like and being able to feel that way TODAY is the best I’m-not-there-yet medicine I can think of goin’ round.

P.S If you’re intrigued by the book and end up buying it I’d love to know what you thought in the comments below!

Images: via Pinterestbohemianbeyou, daniellelaporte.com

Fears of a Working Mum

Nerves. Expectations. Answers. Avoid looking like an idiot.

These words seem rightly placed based on the expression on Marilyn Monroe’s face as she met the press back in 1956. While she may not be the poster girl for working mums I think this snap captures the feelings many women conjure up when we feel a little under the spotlight.

And by spotlight I mean situation. It’s that moment when we feel just a little bit judged. Like all eyes are on us. And our families, the houses we live in, the jobs we do or just our decisions about our ‘next move’. There’s a concern that what you do (or say) next is going to be scored, commented on and repeated in detailed descriptions by those close to you when they’re asked cookie-cutter questions like: ‘So how’s she doooooinnnng?’.

The feeling? Fear.

Personally I think it’s a pretty strong word for what most would describe as being ‘just worried’ about what others might think. But after scouring through articles about female fear and it’s ties to failure, perfection, self-doubt and life-paralysis it’s a serious description for a serious problem.

Bryce Covert’s article for The Nation details US statistics that indicate women are self-selecting out of ‘hard fields’ like Science, Technology, Economics and Math for fear of delivering imperfect grades. Catherine Clifford’s article at Entrepreneur.com talks about the fear of failure that stops women keeping pace with men in the entrepreneur stakes.

While I’m not lining up at uni to take on  astrophysics nor am I looking to kick the boys outta a self-start-up business I do get this trend.

My most recent fear-moment (and I have many of them) came this week when it reared it’s ever-so-fricken-huge head in a delayed realization of what returning to work from maternity leave meant for me.

(Hold in there for a sec for those without kids…)

Essentially in this situation – you’re again – the new girl. You’ve been out of it a while so you’re new in the sense ‘you weren’t here’, as your colleagues say, when that major event that seems to be consuming everyone (else) happened. You’re playing catch-up.

Fear 1: You’re behind in your job. And others know it.

You’re also forever working to a deadline. The deadline to leave home, arrive at work, finish that report, get to that meeting and finally run out the door (while still looking like a committed employee) before your child is the last one left at childcare. Gone are the days when you can stay back to ‘catch-up on a few things’ or have brilliant networking chats in the hallway. Let’s face it: a working mum is a walking egg timer.

Fear 2: You’ll never be able to perform like you used to.

Then when the work days are over and you return to the sanctuary of your home you cant help but see the tired-toll smeared across your little one’s face.

Fear 3: I’m doing more damage than good.

Judgement. Perfection. Guilt. It’s all rolled into a messy lunch box that gets carried off to work and still stinks after you’ve washed it.

Now I’ve written before about the ‘having it all’ saga before but mother-of-two and PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi, gave a beautifully refreshing take on something that this week was driving my fears. (The 2 minute video really is worth a watch if you’re want a bit of a laugh).

“We’re screwed. We can not have it all.” Nooyi says.

She explains that the biological clock and career clock are in total conflict with each other. We must make choices between being a wife and mother everyday, multiple times a day and find coping mechanisms to do so.

I took comfort in this. If we’re screwed what do I have to be fearful of? If Nooyi’s observation is true then there’s a pretty high likelihood that, yes, at times my fears will be realised. I might have to play catch up for a couple of months at work, I’m probably going to have days (and weeks) that are far less promotion-worthy than those before I had a child. And yes, there’s probably some form of loss, damage or missing out that’s happening on some level of my little girl’s growing awareness.

And I actually feel better already.

Hear that? It’s acceptance. And I think it’s just the ticket women need to cope with fear. Whether yours is tied to kids, your job, your relationship status or bank balance I think accepting what we’re afraid of, in fact, makes it less scary and helps us take back the power.

Enter ACT.

Not our nation’s capital but an emerging therapeutic activity known as Acceptance and Commitment Theory. ‘Act’ as it’s pronounced is basically about building our resilience to failure and fear by accepting the, well, shitty feelings. Accepting what’s out of your personal control and committing to action that improves the situation – your life.

This makes sense to me. Accepting the fear, the out-of-our-control and committing to doing our best to get the job done is enough. And better yet, it’s freedom. If we stopped putting so much energy into avoiding what we fear most and put more energy in to what we want more you’d see a lot more female entrepreneurs around the place.

We can let go of fear. You have at some point before. We all have. If I had never of let go of fear I’d never have gone back to work. I’d never of had a child, started this blog, moved interstate, traveled overseas or married my husband! So accept your fear, find it, feel it and let it lead you to what you really wanna do.

Images: via PinterestLamsweerde and Vinoodh MatadinZephyrance Lou

 

The Food and Exercise Dance

They’re two of the most powerful forces in my life: food and exercise.

For me these two are at the forefront of most decisions I make during the day. My inner-dialogue sounds like this: “I should just stick with oats for breakfast – it’s the most nutritious option in the cupboard,” or “What’s the best thing on this menu (in leafy green terms)?” and “I didn’t get to the gym this morning – fail – maybe I could squeeze in a walk in my lunch break? No, I’ll go to Pump tonight instead – that’s a whole hour – double brownie points.”

This might seem a little OTT but my health is important to me. Food and exercise are at the core of that, so, everyday I have these types of conversations with myself. Our minds and bodies know nothing else but to be honest and when I fuel and move mine correctly I feel the truth every time; nourished and strong.

This is the dance. When the song is playing good food and moderate exercise put everything in sync. Life just flows. The body is fueled to go the distance and my mind operates with clarity. It feels natural, easy… even effortless. The nutrition packed meals slide onto the table (and into my handbag – I’m super organised with healthy snacks when in this phase) and the movement enters my life from all angles: walks, gym classes, runs on the beach, pilates and yoga. My body laps up the endorphins and sound sleep that comes when I’m in the zone.

It’s good. It’s rewarding. But let’s be honest – it’s freakin’ hard to keep up.

The winter season has set upon my little piece of the world, the most southern (and I believe the most consistently cold) state in Australia, and I’m feeling ‘meh’. This week month I’ve been berating myself for the fact that I can’t be arsed lost my mojo for the Food and Exercise Dance. Despite knowing how good it is for me, knowing what it feels like to be in flow, I’ve forgotten the steps, the rhythm, heck I’ve forgotten the god damn song.

The new dance? ‘White’ is a fair description of what’s been on my plate of late: bread, potatoes, oats and diary, they’ve become my new staple. My green smoothies have lost their pop, my clean cut meats and steamed veges taste like cardboard and I’m craving drawn towards hearty, heavy, hot meals that are low in greenery and high in the Italian-comfort-food category. And exercise? Well swapping Pump classes and sprint sessions for a walk every-third-day is an even deal right?

If you’re joining me in a case of the winter blues (which I/we will get over and eventually find my/your mojo  underneath the bed covers, couch or fluffy dressing gown – wherever it was last year) it’s got me thinking: What’s healthy motivation to stay, well, healthy?

Some might describe my behaviour (a.k.a lack dancing) sheer laziness. Weakness might get a look-in and perhaps even a good old-fashion case of dog-ate-my-workout-DVD excuses? Laziness, weakness, excuses I’m sure I’ve seen these ‘motivational’ words somewhere before…

or this…

 

Oh… and this one makes me feel really good…

I used to pin these images, as ‘motivation’, to a fitness and health board I thought was destined to keep me on track. Then I started to scroll back through the images and quotes, this time with a clear and reduced need-to-be-perfect mindset, and was numb. “It’s just stupid,” I thought.

Let me ask you this: if I called you lazy, put a bunch of french fries in front of you and told you to do a thousand sit-ups whilst lifting up my top (exposing my perfectly photo-shopped abs) and saying “What did you do today to earn this?” you’d laugh and mime a WTF at me right? There’d at least be one hell of an awkward silence mortification. Moving past that situation I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be at the top of your she-makes-me-feel-good-about-myself list.

My point:

Just because you ate a burger or skipped the gym doesn’t make you less than the girl who didn’t. 

Berating and scolding yourself about how well you did the ‘dance’ this week is not helping you on your way. I really believe it is so-so dangerous to assess how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you were today with how much you worked-out or ate. You’re essentially attaching your worth to this assessment. You’re comparing. And human nature tells us you’ll almost always see yourself come up short against someone else.

Now I’m not giving you a free-for-all here. I’m not endorsing a self-destructive but ‘feel-good’ lifestyle. Food and exercise are at the forefront of managing your personal health BUT (and I really like to avoid this word) should not be at the expense of damaging your inner-self.

Remember her? She’s your feel-good compass. She’s that butterfly feeling in your gut when you’re excited or embarking on something new: “Keep, going,” she whispers. Your inner-self lifts the mental load when you’re down and high-fives you when you’re doing awesome. But she’s also fragile, like a child. When you berate yourself for not doing (or doing) something she takes the hit too. And not to get too woo-woo on you here but Louise Hay does explain this best:

It doesn’t matter how old you are, there is a little child within who needs love and acceptance…There is a parent inside each of us, as well as a child. And most of the time, the parent scolds the child—almost nonstop! If we listen to our inner dialogue, we can hear the scolding. We can hear the parent tell the child what it is doing wrong or how it is not good enough. We need to allow our parent to become more nurturing to our child.”

healyourlife.com

The message? More nurturing, less berating in the food and exercise dance. The routine needs to come from a place of respect and love for you and your body if you’re to motivate your life, not just your love-handles. Get-off the Instagram and Pinterest guilt trips. Where you are is just a point in time, it doesn’t define you. After all, you’ll do it when you’re ready.

Images: witchymoo.tumblr.com, Commentsmeme.com, via Pinterest, creatina10.com

Have versus Happy

I don’t usually get attached to news readers. In fact I’m often guilty of having a chuckle at their expense. I find it a little funny when they turn to their co-host (pearly whites gleaming) and their beautifully blow-dried locks remain anchored in place. I especially love it when the vision and the teleprompter get mixed up. We hear the serious tone detailing the Rudd/Gillard leadership challenge but we see the rough play of cute and cuddle pandas at Melbourne Zoo… it could work I guess?

But this week when Georgie Gardener announced her departure from the Today Show, citing family reasons and the presence of a ‘Grumpy Mummy’, I was kind of taken back. “Wow, she actually admitted it,” I thought.

When someone like Georgie bravely comes out and admits she can no longer balance what many of us might see as a she-has-it-all kinda life, my mind begged the question: can we actually have it all? Is Georgie’s decision just the bare truth staring us in the face that we can’t? Or is it that we can but the ‘all’ part is just a stage we reach, possible only for a point in time, ending when one of the plates we’re balancing just gets too heavy?

I needed answers. I needed to research. I needed to Google.

My girlfriends will laugh at this who know I can’t help but research the hell outta something until I get the answer. And this question I couldn’t let go.

My ‘having it all’ search brought back:

  • ‘Why Women Can’t Have It All’ (Glamour.com)
  • ‘The Secret To Having it All’ (Forbes.com)
  • ‘When Women Have It All’ (Telegraph.co.uk ); and my personal favourite
  • ‘Women, Quite Bitching, You Just Can’t Have It All By 30’ (Telegraph.co.uk )

And then I stumbled on this over on Levo.com:

And after tut-tutting my initial ‘Great. Celebrities giving life advice,’ response I read it. And I wasn’t completely bummed. Despite sitting on different fences of the question these 10 very successful, wealthy and very different women had a theme to their comments: choices and happiness. ‘Yeees,’ I thought. There’s good stuff here but I needed more.

Then, going back to Georgie, I found a great article from iVillage editor, Holly Wainwright, talking about the effect Georgie’s admission had on her. I couldn’t help but connect with Holly’s comments.

Yes, at times (in my weakest and most self-indulgent moments), I do think:

  • that I am working towards a point in time when I’ll have the perfect work/life/family/me-time balance;
  • that other women have already achieved that balance and therefore it does exist and it can be done; and
  • that other women who have this balance are doing it perfectly. Ergo, they have it all. 

But as Holly rightly points out, Georgie called us both out on this.

Maybe what we can’t have is the ridiculous expectation that there are people out there who are ‘Having it all’ and doing it perfectly. Because they’re not. You’re not. I’m not.”

Amen, Holly.

And here it is, our old friend, Comparison. Whether you’re juggling a high profile career and kids, building a business, studying or simply working towards your greater good I think many of us struggle to let go of two things: comparison and the assumption that others are doing it bigger and better than us. I think we can all recall at least one person we’ve placed in the ‘she has it all’ category. I’m guilty of this. And when I do there’s usually a little bit of admiration, a good dose of how-does-she-do-it? and a slight sprinkle of jealously dumped together in a bowl of this bad-as-all-hell-for-you recipe.

Where is ‘She’ for you? Maybe on your newsfeed, all wrapped up in pretty Instagram filters, ‘lovemylife’ hashtags and seemingly perfect images. ‘She’ could be that Mum at school drop-off that drives the fancy car with the fancy-looking husband, the oh-so obedient children living in the oh-so-lovely house. Or ‘She’ might even be your best friend. And because she’s real, and doing it all the way you’d like to you just can’t help but think she’s so much more sorted than you.

Let’s step awaaaay from the life, body, work, business and little-green-monster comparisons. They’re addictive (I see you there, Instagram stalking), they trash your self-confidence and feed more fear and doubt about yourself into your mind than you’re consciously aware. We’re setting ourselves up for failure because it’s impossible to ‘have it all’ if we’re comparing ourselves to others. We’ll never be done.

So my wee little verdict? ‘Having it all’ seems whack. I find most who are asked about it talk about the struggle and the hardship of trying to do it. The articles written about it are a combination of yes, no, maybe, sometimes or it depends. The concept sits on shaky ground. So let’s try this:

Let go of ‘have it all’ and grab on to ‘have me happy’.

Sounds simple, and yes a little ‘Really, is that it?’, but this we can do. As a worry-wart kid I was often distracted by things, other people or anything that wasn’t in sync with what I was doing at the time. ‘You just worry about what you’re doing,’ were my parents’ words and should have been recorded on a mixed tape for how often they had to repeat it. But it’s true. If we’re focused on what we’re doing to make ourselves happy, there’s little time or energy wasted on how we’re comparing to others.

Now, the getting happy part. I get this ain’t always easy, believe me. But in each moment I do know it’s possible to get a little closer to it. Right now, what’s gonna make you happy? What do you really need to do? What’s your mind and body craving? A nourishing meal? Good conversation? Sleep? To say sorry? Inspiration? Maybe even a little help or direction. Step towards it, in anyway you know how. Let go of what others are doing. Just ‘do’ for you, just for now.

It was getting my eyes of other people’s progress and focusing on my own that lead me to practice these baby steps back to happiness. The more I focused on what made me happy, in the moment, the less I felt pressured and frustrated. I felt more energy and had better ability to suss out what was good for me and what was good for the me I thought I should be. It helped break down what to me looked like a marathon into a series of short and delightful strolls. And for this lesson I’m forever grateful.

So take a stroll, right outta ‘have’ and back into ‘happy’.

Images: News LimitedLevo.com, Becca Allen, twitter.com