Saturday, December 31, 2011

resolving resolutions

New Years resolutions are very attractive.  In fact they are down right sexy.  Especially at midnight when the champagne is flowing!  They entice you with the promise that they will change your life and magically make you fulfilled - like you've found your soul mate and are now complete.  The trouble with that is that when you wake up on January 1 and the romance is gone, and you glance over at your New Years resolutions in the harsh light of the day the glow has worn off.  You can see the flaws, the blemishes, the things that just plain annoy you and may even make you cringe.  Reality sets in and you have the choice to stick with the resolutions you made and do the hard yards to make them work, or to flee and get away from them as fast as you can, breathing a sigh of relief as they become a distant memory, a lucky escape, a part of your history.  Ok, so maybe its a stretch to compare New Years resolutions to relationships, but I think there are a few lessons we can learn if we want to...

  • Just as relationships take work, so do New Years Resolutions.  It would be wonderful, magical even, if we could just make the declaration - 'in 2012 I will run a marathon/be healthy/lose weight' - and it occurred, but the reality is far from this. You have to work at your resolution.  You have to choose to persevere.  You need to stick with it and keep at it until change happens.
  • People aren't perfect and neither are your New Years Resolutions.  Sometimes in the champagne filled festivities we get excited by the magic and make some big and bold decisions.  Sometimes too big and too bold.  That's ok, but in the harsh light of the day we need to be realistic and reasonable and sometimes adjust our ambition.  Maybe I won't make it to the summit of Everest this year, but I will start the training and planning for next! (Not me - no way - I have no ambition to go somewhere so cold!)
  • Getting to know your New Years resolutions improves your chances of success.  Just like getting to know someone better improves your relationship with them, so too does getting to know your New Years resolutions.  As you spend time focusing on understanding your resolutions, why you set them, what it is you really want to achieve, you are more likely to make choices to take you closer to success.  Spend some time asking yourself why did you pick this goal? What is it you are really trying to achieve through it?  What can or should you do today to move you closer to achieving your goal?
  • New Years resolutions shouldn't be about success of failure, they should be about the choice to position your life/your journey a certain way.  Relationships can't simply be defined as successes or failures - they are much more complex than that.  We choose relationships because we like our lives better with particular people in them.  So too we can choose to embrace our resolutions in our life and allow them to impact us for the positive.  It's not about success or failure in achievement (or not), but whether we allow our resolutions to change our journey for the better.  
I'm not sure what resolutions you are making for 2012, or indeed if you are making any.  (Perhaps you're too jaded by the failures of past years).  In any case whether you make a New Years resolution, a mid year resolution, or just a decision today to change something in your life - hold on to it.  Nurture it.  Spend time with it and get to really know it.  Make it part of who you are and how you live your life so you can be/do what it is you desire.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Where's Sally?

Well right here of course... but I have been away for  few weeks.  I was fortunate to have to travel to Japan for work, and took the opportunity to indulge in a little holiday afterwards and revisit the places I used to live near & share them with my hubby.

I just glanced at my last blog post and it's amazing to see the progress I've made on my list of things I want to work on.  Without trying I've already done the following:

  • Take more photos.  Japan was the perfect opportunity and I took plenty as the leaves were changing and simply stunning.
  • Take more days off.  I had a holiday.  And I only responded to about 3 emails :-)
  • Walk more.  We walked everywhere.
  • Take 2 holidays. 1 down but I'm going to be bold and make this 3 :-)
  • Start sewing again - make a dress (or two).  Ok so I haven't started this, but I did buy 3 lovely lots of fabric in Japan... so I'm on my way
  • Discover at least 1 new wine per month.  Not just new releases, but wines from makes and areas I'm less familiar with.  I just hung out on the Chapel Hill Winery hangout on Google+.  I can't wait to try their Bishop Shiraz.
  • Do something I've never done before.  I climbed a mountain... ok a big hill called a mountain that I haven't climbed before.
Even I'm impressed by the start I've made.  And I didn't even have to try.  Perhaps there is something to this idea that if you write something down and share it with the world (or just one other person), you're more likely to achieve it.  I don't know - but I'm interested to see how I go on progressing my list.

Monday, November 21, 2011

When I grow up I want to be....

This question always stumped me as a kid.  In fact it still stumps me now many years later.  I've never held any ambition for a particular job or occupation, and I've never really had an overwhelming desire to achieve something very specific.  Sometimes I wish I had been like that as it certainly would have made choosing my university degree program a lot easier!

On the other hand I've never been really disappointed about the career paths I've chosen.  They have been many and varied - professional golf caddy vs wedding planner vs program manager... the list is diverse.  All of the experiences I've had have taken me to different places and exposed me to life in a way I could have never imagined as a child.  I'm kind of glad I never really had a definitive answer to this question when I was younger, and even more so that I don't now.

That's not to say I don't have goals.  I do.  I want to do well in my job.  I want to succeed and grow and progress in everything I do.  This is actually a desire that filters through every area of my life - my relationships, my hobbies, everything I do for fun.  Usually every year around January I take stock of the previous year and look at what I've achieved and take a moment to consider what I want to work towards in the coming year.  The thing about doing that in January is that it usually leads to failure for me.  Or at least just a momentary enthusiasm which soon passes with the increasingly hectic pace of the following months.  So I've come to a conclusion that this needs to change.  I'm not going to wait until the new year to jump on the band wagon with everyone else.  I'm going to take stock now and write some goals for 2012 before 2011 has closed out.

I'm going to call it my ambition list.  It's going to be long.  It's going to be big and broad.  And it's going to be fun.  This isn't my work goals - they are between myself and my boss - but these are things I want to start doing in 2012.

  • Learn to crochet & make something.  I've never done it - yay for new skills!
  • Make a card a week & post it to someone
  • Take more photos.  Specifically make sure I shoot some photos once a month (at least)
  • Take more days off.  And don't check my email while doing so
  • Walk more
  • Laugh more  
  • Get at least 1 more certification in diving
  • Take an online course in a subject that interests me
  • Take 2 holidays.... (bold move for me!)
  • Get regular massages
  • Start sewing again - make a dress (or two)
  • Discover at least 1 new wine per month.  Not just new releases, but wines from makes and areas I'm less familiar with
  • Cook more gourmet dinners and invite people over to eat them
  • Blog consistently and figure out what I really want to blog about
  • Run more
  • Ride my bike more
  • Hang out with my friends a LOT more
  • Do something I've never done before
  • ...... to be continued
That's not a bad start right?  I'm sure there is more that I want to add to the list... but this is a good start.

PS - That pic has nothing to do with this blog post... but isn't she cute!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Be good to yourself

Be good to yourself.

Don't give yourself a hard time about what you can't control - other peoples circumstances; their feelings, their reactions.

Be selfish on occasion and say no - especially if saying yes would effect your life negatively (overwork, stress, lack of sleep).

Let go of past hurts.  The person who wounded you is not affected by your pain, so it only holds you back.

Take time to breathe and smell the air (except if you're in a polluted city, then find some nice flowers to help with the breathing.)

The world won't stop if you do, so make sure you stop.

Remember what's important.

Remember who you are.

Remember what you value.

Don't compromise unless you both truly gain joy & peace from it.  If you let go of your values and ideals to make someone happy you will ultimately become unhappy.

Remember to breathe.

Remember that friends are to be cherished.  Share you heart and life with them.  Don't take them for granted.

Remember why you do what you do.  If you can't remember stop doing it.

Remember to be good to yourself.  

Friday, November 4, 2011


Sometimes in the busyness of life we lose of what's important to us.  It's easy to get caught up in the things that just have to be done - the work, the chores, the family obligations.  Soon you become all about the task, and lose sight of the things you were building your life around. When it gets like this I've found mementos are important things to surround myself.  Visual reminders of decisions, or values in my life that I strive to keep at the centre of who I am and what I do.  Things that make you pause and question - is what I'm doing right now really that important?  Is it something that is at the core of who I am and who I want to be?

Right now my life is full of busyness and I'm finding myself falling victim to the task at hand and becoming consumed by it.  So today I'm surrounding myself with mementos to remind myself of who I am and what I value.  And more importantly to remind me to stop, and breathe, and be the person I want to be, not the situation I'm in.  Today I'm wearing my favourite memento (see pic).

It's something I bought in New York this year, at Tiffany.  Neither of those two facts are what makes this so special to me though.  What makes this memento special is that it's a scooter.  A Vespa.  It makes me think of Italy.  It reminds me of my travels there and the thing I loved about it the most.  It wasn't the food - although that was incredible.  It wasn't the scenery, or sites - although they were magnificent.  It wasn't the people per se - although they were fabulous.  It was the way they walked through life, embracing the moment they were in.  When they were having coffee at the bar, they were doing just that.  When they were talking with neighbours, it was just that.  There was no checking the watch, looking at email or multi-tasking in other ways.  It was focused attention on the here and now.

So today I'm wearing my memento around my neck reminding me to stop and breathe.  The busyness of life is temporary, and the moments I have now, today are just that - moments which won't be repeated.  I don't want to miss them!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Little by little

For those of you who have been following my blog, you'll know I've started doing rolling 21 day challenges to make small incremental changes in my life.  I'm finding them an incredibly effective way of making long term changes in areas of my behaviour, health, and attitude.  So far I've completed a 'blog every day challenge' and an 'eating primal challenge'.  Today I'm embarking on something new.  The 3 day day challenge.

Now before your mind heads off into some weird space wondering what the heck 3 a day is.  It's my way of spending the next 21 days on focusing on building every day movement into my life.  I already work out twice a week with a trainer, and I walk my dogs several times a week.  However I've noticed that I haven't ever really regained the health and fitness that I had in my 20's.  When I reflect back the reason I was so healthy I think it was because I moved every day, and I moved a lot.  I was always running somewhere, walking between activities, dancing all weekend and going to the gym.  These days my life is a little more sedentary (although I do have a standing desk), and I'm feeling the need to get back in the habit of moving.  3 a day means that for the next 21 days I'm going to do 3km per day - walking, running, rowing, cross-trainer - whatever - as long as I go a minimum of 3 kms.  Now 3km isn't going to to a lot for my health.  It's not going to make me fabulously fit.  It's not going to break any records.  What it should do - if I keep to it - it help me build a habit of movement in my life that I can build on.  It should also help be to create some discipline around my schedule (especially when I'm traveling) helping me to remain focused on what is important to me.

So that's it.  3 a day for the next 30 days.  Here's hoping the weather is amazing and I can do much of this outside.

PS - The pic is kind of random, taken from my phone.  What I'd really like to be doing today is diving.  Unfortunately I'll have to make do with my paperweight and dreaming of it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dive day divine!

Yesterday was awesome.  Yesterday I fulfilled a long held ambition to get my open water diving certificate.  Now before you all ask why I haven't done it earlier, it's not because of fear or anything like that.  Its more because I've never had the time to commit to the training programs I've found on offer.  Or in my student days I couldn't divert my funds towards it as they were otherwise committed.

I wrote about my pool training a few weeks ago and the anticipation I had about what it would be like.  It was about what I expected.  Unfortunately my first ocean dive on return from India was not quite what I anticipated.  The water was about 14-15 degrees and I turned blue after my first dive.  Sadly as I remained blue after 1.5 hours out of the water that was the end of my dive day.  I was cold, slightly miserable and extremely doubtful if I was going to enjoy diving.  In fact you could say I was anxious that it was not going to be the amazing experience I'd always dreamt of.

Fortunately yesterday salvaged my dreams and met my expectations.  The day was blissfully cloud free, warm and the water temperature much more bearable at 18 degrees.  I was lucky enough to be completing the course on my own and able to finish most of my skills training on the first dive.  This meant I was able to enjoy 2 recreational dives, and just enjoy the experience.  It was magical.  It was beautiful.  It was an experience that I think is going to cost me in the future as I have a new way to spend my money :-)

If you haven't tried diving and get the chance to - do it.  Find someone patient and gentle who can teach & encourage you.  You won't regret it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Things puppies can teach us

On my way to work this morning we passed this gorgeous puppy being walked by it's owner.  It was leaping about all over the place, with kind of a manic grin on it's face, tail going 100 miles an hour, head going from side to side as it tried to take in every sight, sound and smell around it.  While my heart was filled with joy seeing this (who doesn't love a puppy?), I did stop and think about whether there was something I should take away from this moment... so here it is.

Why we should be more like puppies.
  • Puppies are enthusiastic about everything - grass, sky, flowers, people, balls, posts, sticks, dirt.  You name it and they are excited by it.  They don't see it as everyday items or life, but as an experience to get excited about.  We could learn a bit from them and be enthusiastic about our everyday life too.
  • Puppies are content with whatever is happening right now.  If they are being walked - it's the best thing ever.  If they are playing - it's ridiculously exciting.  If they are eating - it's the best food they've ever tasted.  If they are sleeping - they are resting peacefully because they've had such an exciting day.   What would life be like if we decided to embrace the moment we were in (no matter what is is) and give it every thing we've got?
  • Puppies make others smile.  They are silly and they are not ashamed.  They do goofy things because they are too caught up in the moment and having fun.  They make us smile because they are enjoying their lives to the full.  I wonderf if I could enjoy life so much that it would bring a smile to someone else's face?
  • Puppies are just a furry ball of love.  They love people unconditionally.  It's the best part of their day (several times a day) just by being with people (and other puppies).  They are affectionate, loyal, and compassionate.  Definitely traits we could learn from
Ok that's it.  It's not an exhaustive list, but one that just got me thinking this morning.  Can I live my life with more joy, more abandonment, more playfulness, more contentedness?  Can I bring something of these traits into my everyday?  I'm not sure but I'd certainly like to think so.

PS: These puppies... well they are some of my dogs litters.  All terribly cute and beautiful little balls of fur.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The pursuit of happiness

Growing up I've been taught by society to believe that work should fulfill me and that the pursuit of happiness is a good goal.  I should strive to create an environment or life that makes me feel fulfilled and happy.  This seems to be the mantra of so many self-help books, magazines, gurus, and TV shows.  But is it the right pursuit?  Is it a lofty goal to aspire to?  Is it the direction I should aim?

Visiting India last week reminded me once again to challenge these assumptions.  You see there are people in the world who don't have a choice about what they get up every day and do.  They will do anything to put food on the table and provide shelter for their families.  And yet they don't seem to go through the day miserable.  It's not the first time I've encountered this by any means, but it is something I'm starting to give a lot more thought to.  Sure it's great to do something you love.  Yes it's fantastic to be fulfilled in what you do every day.  But doing something you love and that fulfills you can be full of challenges.  It can make you sad.  It can depress you.  It can make your life very difficult.  I wonder - shouldn't the question be - can I find fulfillment in what I'm doing right now?  Can I find happiness in this moment?  Isn't the simplicity of life itself enough to wonder at?

PS - This is one of my favourite photos in India.  I passed this street stall selling chandeliers every day on the way to work.  I'm not sure it was the sellers dream job, or even where these chandeliers came from, but he always had a smile on his face.  It certainly put a smile on my face seeing it every day.

Friday, October 7, 2011

If today were your last day...

 I've had something stuck in my head all night.  Yesterday one of the greatest visionaries of our time passed away - Steve Jobs.  In the news reports of his death there have been many personal stories, quotes and reports of his life that have been both inspiring and touching.  He's certainly made a lasting impact on the world and many people.

One quote that I heard a few times has been buzzing around my head continually since I heard of his death.  It goes like this... "For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am am about to do today?""  It's an interesting thing to think about.  Of all the things I have to do today - do I really want to do them?  Or am I just doing them because I have to?  If I don't want to do what is before me should I just walk away from it?  Or do I need to persevere?  What is the balance?  How much should the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment drive what I do with my life?

It wasn't until I looked up the full context of the quote this morning that the context really gave me insight into what (if any significance) I should give to this thought - before I go out and completely change my life.  The next line goes like this... "And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."  

This second line makes all the difference.  The words for too many days in a row carry such weight for me.  It reminds me that sometimes I might wake up and ask myself the same question as Mr Jobs, and the answer may very well be "No.  I don't want to do what I'm about to."  The question is - is that situation temporary?  Do I not want to go my job today because I'm tired and stressed? A situation which can be temporary and has a solution.  Or do I really dislike what I do and should seek more meaningful employment?  Do I not want to cook/clean/care for family because I'm in need of a holiday or feeling overwhelmed?  Or is it a symptom of some deeper issues that really need change.

There are two things I love about the full quote.  Firstly, no where does it mention happiness.   He's talking about what you want to do in the context of having limited time left.  What is important to you?  What are your priorities?  Are they included in the tasks that are set before you today?  Is there time for the things you value - not just the busy things of life.  Secondly, he defines the need to change around several days of answering no - not just a momentary thought.  It means that change should be reflected on.  Don't just give up on something because it causes momentary challenges, because challenges can and will pass.  Struggles are a part of life, and are to be overcome - not avoided.

Anyway it's given me food for thought.  Are my days tasks centered around my priorities in life, or do they reflect something different?  Am I moving closer to being the person I want to be - or further away.  Ultimately it's for me to determine one day at a time.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's next?

So it's over.  I finished my first ever 21 Day Challenge - to blog every day - last Thursday.  I must admit the first few days I almost felt like I was missing something in my life when I didn't blog.  I didn't actually feel guilty for not blogging, but caught myself a few times thinking - I should use this in my blog.  It was quite an interesting feeling to see that subconsciously my challenge was impacting my thoughts after it ended.  It didn't quite translate to affecting my behaviour, as I really did need a couple of days break to travel home.

As I mentioned in my last post I do want to keep blogging.  I'm not necessarily sure why or what about.  I think it's really something for me - rather than something for a reader.  It's really about having some measure of discipline in my life and a way of causing me to be more mindful.  That said, I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to blogging everyday.  And I've been sadly neglecting my craft blog since I started this one.  I guess I haven't really mastered the art of balance yet ;-)

I'm keen to start another 21 day challenge - to see if I can continue to make small incremental changes in my life.  This one is going to be health related.  I've dabbled in primal eating the last few months and have been around 80% successful most of the time.  I know when I eat right it really improves my energy and my sleep so I want to see if I can make some changes in my diet which will support my lifestyle.

For those of you who don't know what primal eating is you can read about it here.  A former colleague of mine made the switch around 18months ago and has seen huge improvements in energy, well being, fitness - you name it.  Actually she influenced a number of people around her to try it and it all of them have seen huge benefits.  For me it's time to stop dabbling.  I've used my travel schedule as an excuse to eat and drink what I want when I'm away and then return to a healthy lifestyle when I'm home.  The repercussions are that it takes me longer to recover from jet lag, and I'm definitely less energetic.  So that's it.  Today is the day.  I've looked for every excuse not to start - but something about my recent 21 day challenge has made me realise that it's just a commitment I need to make for myself.  A daily commitment to be renewed every morning - for no-one else's sake but mine.

I'm not going to blog about this every day.  I'm completely bored at the thought of doing that.  I will try and update you on how it's going once a week or so though.  Here's hoping that at the end of 21 days I will have made some permanent changes to my lifestyle which give me the energy to do all the things I want to.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 21 - 21 Day Challenge. It's all over!

21 days of daily blogging has come to an end.  While I expected this post to be a reflection of what I've learned and on the success (or otherwise) of the exercise, it can't really be either.  I've been successful in blogging every day, but I'm yet to determine if it's helped me create new patterns and habits.  I suspect I have become more mindful of my day and things that occur in it, but the question is will I sustain this?  Is this a foundation on which I can continue to build?  Is there more that I can do?  I don't know.

I think that I'm likely to keep some habits.  I want to maintain my blogging habits.  It's been nice to contribute a lot of content to a new blog, and I want to continue to share my random thoughts.  I'd just like to do it a little more mindfully and with greater time for reflection.

I am keen on carving out some time each week to take photos and try and really work on my skills.  I haven't done that in these posts, but I'd like to be able to contribute a meaningful - or at least related photo - with each post.

I want to try another 21 day challenge.  Now that I know I can commit to something for 21 days and actually do it, I want to find another area of my life where I can make a small incremental change for 21 days.  I'm going to spend a few days thinking about it.  I don't know that I'll blog about it though :-)

So that's it really.  I'm done.  Well except for the reflective posts that I should write in 1 week, 1 month and 1 years time to see if I have really made a difference in my behaviour.  I guess if I'm still posting here a few times a week then we'll know the 21 day challenge does work.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 20 - 21 Day Challenge. The joy of people

I've had the pleasure of working with a small group of people over the last few days to help them develop their presentation & facilitation skills.  I love it when the opportunity to do this sort of work arises, because one of my favourite things in the world is working with people.  I love seeing someone rise to the occasion and challenge themselves to improve in their skills.  I love when you see someone take on board feedback, repeat an exercise and improve in dramatic ways.  I love the confidence that it gives them.  I love seeing them stand a little taller at the end of the day.  I love seeing them enjoy what they do.  I love hearing them say that they are looking forward to putting their skills into practice right away.  In short, it's a joy and a privilege I wouldn't trade for anything.

It does make me think though. How can I use encouragement today, tomorrow, next week to bring out the best in someone?  What can I say or do to make them shine?  What role can I play in someone else's success?  I've been reminded today that in helping people shine in what they do, I also shine.  If they succeed, I succeed even more so.  Helping someone else achieve their goals has greater impact than me doing it for them, and encourages them to do the same for others.

I hope I can retain this feeling that I have right now and take it into tomorrow and next week.  If you're part of my daily life I give you permission to check in on me in a week's time and ask me how I have helped someone else to shine.

Day 19 - 21 Day Challenge. Service that makes you smile

So technically it's Wednesday in Sydney which means I'm late for this post.... BUT it's only 10pm in Bangalore which is where I'm writing this from so it's still Tuesday and my record is on track.

Just a short note here to really highlight how someones attitude can really impact you - it a good way.  I'm staying at the Oberoi hotel - and it's amazing.  The hotel is lovely - well maintained, fantastic facilities - but one thing stands out head and shoulders above other hotels I've stayed at recently - the staff.  To say that the staff here are fantastic would be an understatement.  They are dedicated to making my stay as pleasant as possible.  They cater to my every need, but are not obtrusive in their service. They are friendly and welcoming, and I've never seen one person without a smile.  They know their guests by name - which is impressive when you consider the size of the hotel.  Even more impressive is how they remember I like my coffee and bring it to me as soon as I go for breakfast each morning.  It doesn't stop there though.  They even give me a take away cup of fresh coffee when I'm ready to head to the office for the day.

Last night however was truly incredible.  Noticing that my shampoo was nearly empty (deliberate on my part as I brought just enough for the trip), I came back from the office to find a note in my bathroom from housekeeping.  "I noticed your shampoo is almost over, so please accept this new bottle complimentary for your use.  We hope you have a pleasant stay." Very sweet right?  It get's better.  This wasn't any ordinary bottle of shampoo from the hotel. This was a brand new bottle of exactly the same shampoo that I was almost out of!  That took effort.  That required diligence and someone to go out of their way to do something thoughtful for me.  That impressed me.  Actually it blew me away.

I've been really impressed by how the mood & attitude of the staff here has elevated my mood and thoughts while I'm in the hotel.  I'm affected by them.  I'm touched by their attentiveness and care.  And their smiles have put a smile on my face.

So the question I have for myself (and perhaps you might like to ask it too) is what does my attitude influence others to do?  Does my mood put a smile on their face?  Do my actions make their day?  What can I do to influence the attitude/actions/mood of those around me.

PS - Yes this is a picture of the note they left me.  I love this place.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 18 - 21 Day Challenge. My most valuable asset

As I mentioned yesterday I really want to spend some time reflecting on life, and what I'm putting in, and getting out of it.  In the message I heard yesterday the first point was that time itself was the most valuable asset I possess.  In thinking about this, I cannot help but see how I squander time in some areas of my life.    I don't mean that I do things aren't valuable and waste time on having fun, but I sometimes get trapped into a way of thinking that every moment of every day must be significant and meaningful, and thus make the process of life more complicated than it need be.

I am questioning some of the ways I spend my time - TV for example is not really doing anything for me or anyone around me - except giving me a mental time out.  I don't necessarily want to trade that for activities of a more 'noble' nature, but I do want to look at how I'm spending my days and make sure that I am filling them with activities that are important to me.  Things that reflect the kind of person I am, and the one I aspire to be.  Things that are good for me (and those around me) - body, soul and spirit.  Things that bring me joy and happiness.  Things that enrich my life and that of my loved ones.  What are those things?  Many are simple.  Coffee with girlfriends and catching up on their life.  Walking the dogs with my hubby and spending quality time together.  Preparing healthy meals so we feel great.  Working out to work my body and my mind.

I think there are many things I probably need to reduce in my life, and other areas where there needs to be an increase in the time I spend.  It's a balance, but I want to be more mindful of what I'm doing.  Making conscious decisions which bring benefits - body, mind and spirit.

PS - I'm in India, sleep deprived and wired on caffeine so I'll be trying not to make any life changing decisions this week as I ponder where I'm spending my time.

Oh and that photo? It was taken in Munich.  It's in this post because it has a clock in it and the subject is time.... vague association I know.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 17 - 21 Day Challenge. The challenge of time.

I write this from the airport as I'm heading overseas for another business trip.  I heard a great message this morning which I just wanted to share with you - as it really resonated with me.  So it's a bit of a cheat as they aren't my thoughts - but they are just too valuable not to share.

5 ways to 'make the most' of every opportunity.

  • Recognize that time if your most valuable asset.  There is a fixed amount every day and whether you are rich or poor you are given the same amount.
  • You can't manage time so manage opportunities.  
  • You can't do everything.  
  • Decide what's important.  Determine what is on your TO DO list and what is on your NOT TO DO list.
  • Do them daily (the important things).  Make those things that are important to you (the things you value) part of your everyday life.
This really spoke to me as I live such a busy life and am constantly striving for balance in what I do, who I do it with, and how I do it.  There is too much in this for me to fully digest it all today so I know that I have to spend some time this week pondering time in my life and how I'm using it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 16 - 21 day challenge. Anticipation

I've been wanting to go diving for ever and just really haven't had the time to schedule it.  Today I changed that.  Ok well technically a few weeks ago I changed that when I completed the online e-learning.  Ok and technically I haven't finished.  And technically I haven't done any exciting dives with marine life yet - I'm not counting the other people in my course.

As I've been wanting to do this for a while, I was anticipating many things from this experience.  As I shared with friends over the last few weeks my plans for this weekend many of them added layers of their own experience to my anticipation.  Often when this happens I find I build the event up to something that is unrealistic and that the experience can't possibly live up to it.  In this case that hasn't happened.

I can't say I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the training.  Some of it was a little challenging.  Some of it unpleasant - I'm not a big fan of smelling of chlorine.  But overall it was great.  I'm now anticipating next weeks ocean dives when I'm back from India.  It's definitely time to commune with the fish.

Happy Saturday everyone.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 15 - 21 Day Challenge. My happy place

Today I'm happy.  Not because of anything wonderful in my life.  Not because I've worked my way through my incredibly long task list at work (I'm not even close).  Not because anything special is happening right now.  Not because I have chocolate (I don't).  Not because I'm drinking coffee (I'm not right now).  Not because of any particular reason.  Today I'm happy because I choose to be.

My mood can be affected by so many different external influences.  Today I'm turning that around and influencing it back.  I'm happy because I choose to be.  I'm happy because I'm working from home and I just got to spend 5 minutes outside in the sunshine with my dogs.  Sammy lept into my lap and gave me the most beautiful cuddle.  Leo lounged around my feet until I gave him a doggy back rub that left him asleep - and me covered with fur.  I'm about to go make coffee and get on with work - and I'm happy about it - because I choose to be.

Oh and there's sunshine on my window, which makes me happy, like I should be.

PS.  I'm off to India this weekend so here's hoping my posts will be spiced up in my final week of my 21 day challenge :-)  And this pic?  It makes me happy!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 14 - 21 Day Challenge. Coping mechanisms

Morning all.  Hope you're having a fabulous day, embracing the moment, living the dream.... yadda, yadda, yadda.  As for me I'm moving into stage 3 denial - coping mechanisms.  Today I'm rocking 3 coping mechanisms in tandem - coffee, Girl Talk, and chocolate. I would take a picture - but it isn't pretty!  I'm in full on fall back mode at the moment.  Need to knuckle down and just get things done.  It's all good & fun, but sometimes a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

Some people are down on coping mechanisms.  They want you to try and live in a zen state all the time.  You know - mellow and happy - no matter what.  I'm not zen.  Not even my little toe is zen.  I mean I went to yoga this morning and started running through my first meeting in my head half way through the relaxation piece at the end of the class.  Did I achieve relaxation - you bet I did.  Was it the kind of relaxation I was being encouraged to aim for.... not exactly.

My point is I'm all for embracing the moment and living in the here and now.  In fact I believe I even said that last week.  But sometimes you've just got to push through things.  And that's where I'm a firm believer in coping mechanisms.  Now I know they can be bad for you.  I understand that they can lead to dependencies and bad habits, but damn it I'm a nicer person when I eat chocolate.  Known fact.  I can handle stress much better with chocolate and wine.  If you ask me my coping mechanisms aren't the problem - it's the situation that makes the need for them arise that needs to be dealt with.  Sometimes you can change the underlying circumstances.  Sometimes it's just a short season you're in and you just need to manage yourself through it.

So thanks for the zen advice friends and family.  For now I'm sticking with my coffee, chocolate and Girl Talk.

PS - for those of you who want to tell me to just go chill out and admire the view - this is the view from my desk.  Do I still need the coffee? Hell YES - and pass the chocolate while you're at it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 13 - 21 Day Challenge. It's time for Pomodoro!

Ever get the feeling that you're drowning in work and you just can't seem to get things started?  I know that feeling all too well.  I just keep saying yes to interesting projects at work, and in my private life, and end up with just a little too much on my plate.  I think this sensation of being overwhelmed with work was definitely impacting my posts the last few days - not to mention my mood!

Today is a new day.  And as the cheesy Billy Ocean song says When the going gets tough.....the tough get going.  It's time for me to bring out the big guns.  Actually I lie.  I did this yesterday as I was feeling more than a little overwhelmed.  To help me start getting through my long list of projects & to do's I'm employing the Pomodoro technique.  The Pomodoro technique is designed to help you get the most out of time management.  Simply choose a task, set a time for 25 minutes, and work on that task for 25 minutes straight.  No distractions.  No checking email, Google+, blogs, Twitter or Facebook.  At the end of 25 minutes you can spend 5 minutes on something else.  After 4 Pomodoro rounds have a longer break.

Now I know this won't work for everyone.  Some tasks require more time.  Some people are in roles where there are interrupts.  For me the psychological effect of knowing I only have to commit 25 minutes to the task really helps me plough through it.  It also lets me see a significant amount that I've achieved at the end of 25 minutes.  It's not perfect.  And I'm certainly no expert.  It is giving me a sense of some control over my life today - and for that I'm grateful.

Pomodoro on!

PS: The photo?  It's random.  Just a funky teapot at the Kempinski hotel in Munich.  It reminds me not everything is as it seems.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 12 - 21 Day Challenge - It's the little things!

I have a love-hate relationship with surprises.  I hate surprises on my birthday & big flashy surprises.  I love little meaningful surprises, like a card from a friend, a nice email, or a surprise on my desk.  I love how sometimes the smallest surprises in the world can impact and lift your mood.

Take today for instance.  I was feeling weary and not at all inspired. I'd been putting off starting this post by going to make another cup of coffee or tea.  My surprise this morning was finding my favourite tea from T2 - French Earl Grey - in the kitchen.  I quickly moved from surprise to delight and happiness as I prepared my cup and came back to my desk.  It's amazing how this little, unplanned surprise just brightened my day.

This got me thinking about how much things around us can affect our mood - well for me at least.  An unexpected sunny day lifts my spirits.  A favourite tune on the radio can give me energy.  Finding my favourite tea in the kitchen at work - joy.  All these things are happy accidents that work as a mood changer in my life.  What I want to know is can I change the circumstances, or add things into my routine, to deliberately and consciously change my mood to suit the task at hand.  I know I often use music as a distraction from boring tasks, but is there something greater that I can do to affect my productivity and mood.

It's definitely got me thinking about my day and how much I have to achieve today (and this week).  I'm wondering if I make a conscious decision to plan some 'mood lifting moments' throughout my day - will it help with my productivity?  Can I make plan moments that will have the same affect as that unplanned surprise?

Who knows.  We'll see what happens.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 11 - 21 Day Challenge. Monday-itis

Well its Monday and I can't say I'm that excited.  Seems like lazy Sunday wasn't really the reason I was struggling to blog yesterday.  I think I've hit a wall with this challenge.  This is pretty much right on time.  Any other life style change or challenge I've tried in the past I usually have a sense of euphoria and ease right before the rubber hits the road and it gets tough.  Usually this is where I say to myself - well one day off won't hurt.  After all I've been so successful up until this point.  

This time though I'm determined to stick it out.  Even if it's only to test the validity of that statement - 21 days to make or break a habit.  The question is - what do you do when you're lacking motivation, and stuck doing the task you've set yourself?  How do you push through and make it happen.  What do you do to get through the boring, tough bits and ensure you create new habits in your life?

For me I've tried the following this morning before writing this:

  • painting my nails a pretty colour (to make me feel good)
  • procrastinating over breakfast
  • procrastinating some more over tea
  • finding someone to talk to for even more procrastination
  • reminding myself of an even more dreaded task I have to do today (to minimize the challenge of blogging)
  • and listening to music.
None of them have particularly worked on their own, however in combination they have resulted in me here posting this.  

Hopefully tomorrow the challenge will have passed and I'll be back on track delighting in the ease of 21 day challenges.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 10 - 21 Day Challenge. What to say when I've got nothing to say

Some days you just don't have words of wisdom insight.  Today has been one of those days for me.  One of those lazy Sundays where one activity drifts into the next and it all just becomes a lovely big blur.  Perhaps because its the start of spring and the weather is getting warm.  Perhaps its because I'm feeling relaxed.  Perhaps it has a little something to do with last night's late night and the missing hours of sleep I have to go searching for later.

In any case I don't have a particular thought or idea running through my head today.  On one level this doesn't bother me as it's Sunday and I should be relaxing.  On the other hand it does make the commitment to blog somewhat daunting!

So instead of sharing a thought from the day, or something I'm pondering I want to share with you a statement I've been making every day, at least once a day, for the last week... Are you ready for it?  I LOVE spring.  I don't mean like other people say they love it but really they just love the absence of cold.  I mean, I really, really LOVE spring.  I love everything about it.  I love the warm weather.  I love that every garden around me is suddenly a riot of colour. I love that the air smells different to every other time of the year.  I love that it's light earlier in the morning.  I love that it's light later in the evening.  I love the fruits that start coming in to season.  I love the sunshine.  I love the breeze which just tickles you instead of the biting cold of winter.  I love that the birds are louder.  I love that my dogs get up in the morning and go straight to their favourite sunny patch to bask in it for a few hours. I love that I can start wearing sandals and thongs (flip flops for you Ameriacans), I love that my mood just seams to lift as soon as the temperature goes up 4-5 degrees.  I love that we drink light fruity drinks.  I love how strawberry tea tastes better in spring.  Are you getting the picture?  I LOVE spring.

PS.  Leo loves spring too. That's his pimping up for spring look :-)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day 9 - 21 Day Challenge - Time for Reflection

I'm not even half way through my 21 day challenge, so it may be a little early yet for reflection.  I thought I'd take a moment today to stop and pause and think about how my first 21 day challenge has gone so far. Here's some of my observations.

  • Starting was hard.  I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do it, so I picked something easy to test the 21 day theory.  Something I wanted to do for me, but really wasn't going to be important if I didn't do it.
  • I've been more reflective this week.  The commitment to blog something everyday has made me more aware of what is going on around me.  It has forced me to pause and see what is happening in my life at least once every day.  A wonderful by product that I hadn't thought about - but something I wanted to do in my life.
  • I've become just a little more self aware.  I've started thinking about the things I want in my day, and what I can do to achieve them.  In short I've become a little bit more mindful.  (I have a long way to go).
  • There's a sense that I've reclaimed a portion of my life for me.  I'm surprised and delighted by this one.  I have a sense that I've been doing something for myself everyday, and it feels good.  
  • I'm less concerned about perfection.  When I started this out I knew I wouldn't have something interesting to say, but I was doing it for me so it didn't matter.  I find that I'm hesitating less before posting things.  This is who I am and I'm doing this for myself, so it doesn't really matter if it's not perfect - I'm not looking for praise.
  • Small incremental change seems to be infinitely easier than large dramatic change.  Although I'm only just over a third of the way through, I'm hopeful that at the end of this 21 days I will have created some mindful blogging habits that will stay with me.  We'll see - but the outcome is looking good.  I've just got to keep reminding myself not to think up the next challenge until this one is over :-)
  • My outlook on other changes I want to make it my life is more positive.  I'm looking for new ways, and smaller increments to bring change into areas of my life.  It seems more manageable, and I have more hope for success.
So that's it really.  A bit of a ramble there.  I'm not going to apologise or offer excuses for that.  It's how I feel on this blissfully relaxed Saturday morning as I drink my pot of tea and read/look at some of my favourite blogs on the web.  (Think happy contented sigh and you'll know exactly how I'm feeling right now.)

PS: The photo is one I took yesterday before work when going on a little photo walk with my friend Ale.  The photo walk that delightfully turned into 12 photos taken, and a delicious coffee and breakfast!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 8 - 21 Day Challenge. Friendships should be easy

When you're in your teens friendships can be full of angst and are largely based on proximity - who you live near, and go to school with.  Girls argue of their latest crush.  Boys complicate everything.  And everything disagreement can feel like the world is ending.  Passionate - yes, balanced and rewarding - hmmm not always.  In your 20's friendships become more interest based if you're at university or working in your ideal career, but are often filled with idealism & opportunistic.  You dream and talk of making a difference in the world, while taking every opportunity for travel and fun as it comes.  Your 30's change things.  Life is often busier than ever with work, and family.  The importance of things is measured differently.  More time with your partner, and building a family home can impact on the time and energy invested in friends.

I was talking to a girlfriend about this this morning.  We've both experienced a change in our friendships in the last few years.  We've become so busy with our partners & careers that we haven't had the freedom to just drop everything and hangout with our friends.  While we bemoaned this, I've also come to realise that some of the friendships of my early years actually took a lot of hard work. I can see the hours I spent listening to some of my girlfriends talking through their latest breakup or their latest life challenge, telling them that life would get better, but I can't actually remember what else we talked about or we did.  Don't get me wrong - not all my friendships were one-sided, but I suspect that there were more that were like this than not.

Friendship should be easy.  True we should be able to stand with our friends in challenges and walk through the tough time supporting them.  But it isn't always a challenge.  The good times should be very good.  You should be able to laugh together.  Conversation should flow freely.  You should feel free to be just a little bit silly together.  Or in my case, my good friends need to have a high tolerance for me being very silly.  You should be able to laugh and cry together.  You shouldn't have to always look your best.  You shouldn't have to explain yourself (well not ALL the time).  Really good friendship should be like putting on a pair of your favourite jeans.  They are relaxed and easy to wear.  They look good, but more importantly feel fantastic when you're wearing.  They are something you can't bear to part with, and are the 'go to' item in your wardrobe.  Good friends are better than this - because unlike jeans they don't often wear out and need replacing.

Today I'm adding an aspect of thankfulness to my blog post.  To all my friends out there who've let me blow rasberries on their cheeks, have made me laugh to much I cry and love to just hug it out - I love you all.

PS - The beagles (my boo's)  - they are the best of friends. They fight, they play, but at the end of the day they always sleep side by side.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 7 - 21 Day Challenge. Where is the love?

I'm traveling for work at the moment, so I'm out of my normal routines in the morning.  This morning after the gym I came back to catch up on some work and flicked on the TV to catch up on the news.  Back to multi-tasking rather than being in the moment.

Now I must admit it's been a while since I watched news on TV, particularly morning news.  It's no surprise that I consume most of my news online through various site, blogs and other sources.  It's just more efficient and I can spend longer drilling into the things that interest me, and less time on the things that don't (like sport.)  Because of this there were certain things that jumped out at me while watching the news. Mainly that it was just so negative.  While I was expecting updates on political topics (both local and global) there was instead, story after story of people's shame and downfall.  Stories about tragedy.  Stories about death.  Stories about footballers doing stupid things overseas (will they every learn?!?).  It seems like the main purpose of the news was to demonstrate what a sad state society is in.  There was no balance.  There was no impassive factual reporting about decisions being made around the world that affect the lives of millions.  Rather it was all human interest stories, that in my opinion, had a negative and destructive bent.

So, to take my mind off the negative this morning I'm asking - where is the love?  Where are the things people are doing that are good around the world?  What is happening in your community that is good and uplifting?  Who do you know that is doing something to make the world around them a better place?  Think about it.  There are a lot of people working to improve things on a global, national and local scale. Whether it be running orphanages in Zimbabwe, or opening a food co-op in your local area to support local farmers.  People are looking to make an impact - big or small - and make their world a better place.  Where are these stories?  The mainstream news is not likely to tell anyone about them.  It just doesn't sell. However we have an incredible opportunity to share through social media (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs) the stories of those we know making a difference.  We can spend a few minutes to give them a shout out & a thank you.  We can create our own network of news and influence if we make it a priority to share the positive with others.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 6 - 21 Day Challenge. The Cake is not a Lie

Sometimes you just need cake.  It's a tragedy when you need it and there is no cake to be had.  The cake should never be a lie!

Sometimes the crazy schedule of my life and cake collide.  Yesterday this happened.  Yesterday I was very happy about this.  Yesterday I got a sugar high from the most amazing icing ever.  Yesterday I was thankful that I can order cupcakes on line and they are delivered.  Cake is amazing.  Cupcakes are awesome.

The cake should never be a lie!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 5 - 21 Day Challenge - Being in the Moment

If there is one thing I really struggle with (ok, ok there is more than one), it's being in the moment.  Whenever things happen - planned or unplanned I tend to be looking forward.  In a meeting to determine priorities and set strategies, I'm already in solutions mode and defining the long term goals after 5 minutes.  On a run, I'm thinking about what I'm going to do when I get home.  While I'm having a conversation I'm often skipping over several ideas in my head of what come next.  I've always been like this.  As long as I can remember.

There's nothing wrong with forward planning and focusing on the future.  It's actually a good thing to motivate yourself to move forward.  Except it certainly seems to hinder me from fully enjoying the present sometimes.  You know that moment when you see a stunning view, your breath is taken away and all you can do is say 'wow'.  Life is full of those moments.  We (meaning me) just miss so many of them by always being future focused.

So today I'm embracing the moment.  I'm trying to remind myself to just stop and pause and enjoy what I'm doing right now.  Right now for instance I have a wonderful cup of coffee sitting next to me.  I can smell the freshly ground beans, and frothed milk waiting for me.  As soon as I finish this blog I'm going to stop, sit and drink my coffee.  Nothing more - nothing less.  Just embrace the few moments that I have to just breathe and be.

PS.  This is the view I'll be stopping and looking at from my desk.  Yes I am lucky.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 4 - 21 Day Challenge. What motivates you?

Monday morning is not the most inspirational of days.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my job and the people I work with.  And to all measures I have a fantastic life.  But the fact of the matter is Monday mornings just suck.  When I think about why I think it's because I lack balance in my life between work and play.  Something I'm trying to work on.  That's why Monday just seems to come too soon.  I just want one more day to do other things.  Not that those things are particularly important or exciting - I just want more free time.

Anyway this blog post is not going to be about work life balance.  I don't feel qualified to write about that.... perhaps one day.  What I want to talk about is motivation.  How do you motivate yourself to move.  To get out of bed on Monday.  To do a task you don't want to do - but know that it needs to be done.  What techniques do you pull out when the challenge in front of your is a mountain - and you know you have to climb it.

I've got some great motivational tricks - and some that are not so great.  Procrastination, sugar, champagne are not things I recommend if you need to push through a task.  Although the last one has the potential to make it easier.  For me I find that I usually have one inspirational album or tune I can go to when the going gets tough, so to speak.  At the moment it's Gotye's album, Making Mirrors, and in particular track 6 - I feel Better. It's just makes me smile.  So guess what?  That's what I'm listening to right now.  I think I'll have it on repeat until I'm feeling recharged and ready for Monday.

What motivates you?  Any tips I can try this week, and next Monday morning?

PS:  Today's pic was taken at the top of Adam's Peak in Sri Lanka.  We'd climbed it during the night to watch the sunrise.  My motivation? The promise of this view.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 3 - 21 Day Challenge. The Power of Two

You've probably heard a bunch ads (or motivational speakers) tell you - You can make a difference.  One person can change the world.  The power of one person can save a life.  And it's true.  If you're one of the millions of people that contribute to charity, donate blood or volunteer your time to some community service group you are making a difference to someones world. But what about the power of one in your own life?

For me the power of little old me doesn't really make much of a difference to the things I want to achieve on my own.  I procrastinate.  I lose motivation.  I simply stumble from one personal project or goal to another without giving it much thought.  That's where the power of two comes in.  If you pick up any fitness magazine or journal it will wax lyrical about the importance of a buddy to maintain motivation and reach your goals.  This got me thinking about why we don't use the power of two, or a buddy more to help us make the small changes we desire in our lives?  For example why don't I harness the power of two on my 21 day challenge.  (Hmmmm any volunteers?)

As I was reflecting on this today the thoughts went one step further.  Two is almost always better than one.  Two people can get a task done faster than one.  Two people can do more than just the minimum required.  And quite frankly two people usually have more fun doing anything, as they are keeping each other company.  And who doesn't relish the thought of 2 chocolates not just one!  (Ohhhh two cupcakes instead of one...mmmmmm).

Anyway, as I mentioned when I kicked off this challenge, there are a number of areas in my life that I'm striving for balance and motivation.  In one of those areas I've decided to use the 'two is better than one' principle and enlist the help of my friend (who also wants to work on the same thing).  We're going to be accountable to each other once a week and see if we are successful in making changes.  I'll let you know how it goes.

So what about you?  Have you got any tips and tricks for me on how to harness the power of two?

PS: The obligatory photo is of my dogs.  Sammy is definitely using the power of two to stay warm!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 2 - 21 Day Challenge - I love serendipity

Serendipity - when someone finds something they weren't expecting to find.  (At least that's what wikipedia says it means - and we all know that's the source of truth!).  It may not be the best definition of the word but it sums up what I found yesterday.

After blogging about starting my first 21 day challenge to blog everyday I made a cup of tea and went to peruse some blog posts in reader.  A lot of the blogs I follow, I follow because there is something in the authors lifestyle or outlook on life that I like.  Some are crafty, some are design orientated, there are a lot of photo blogs.  Mostly though it's people who I perceive to be living life in the moment.  Embracing the now.  Loving and living in the moment they are in.  This is something I struggle to do sometimes, and I love the inspiration that comes from those who seemingly do it effortlessly.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I saw a post from one of my favourite bloggers - Elise, from Red Velvet on her 5 tips for staying inspired.  Yay.  This was written just for me.  And just in time.  Now that's got to be serendipity!

Elise's 5 tips really resonated with me.  You can read her full blog post here - but for brevity's sake they are:
  • Carry a journal
  • Find a new muse
  • Develop a creative play list
  • Refresh your workspace
  • Prove yourself wrong
While they were all pertinent in my life right now, the last one particularly struck me on day 1 of my challenge - to prove myself wrong.  I've already started this challenge with scepticism and doubt on my ability to finish it.  I've looked at everything that is coming up in my life in the next few weeks and already anticipated the challenges and the probability of failure.  In essence I'm setting myself up to not succeed.  Not a great start to change!

After reading this I've determined that I'm going to prove myself wrong.  I'm not going to prepare blog posts in advance.  I'm  not going to give up if it's hard because I'm busy and working or traveling.  I'm going to trust that by setting this goal for myself, and not having a plan that life itself will provide the inspiration and that I'll be able to complete it. After all whether I blog everyday or not really doesn't matter.  If anyone reads this or not is not significant.  What matters is whether or not I am capable of making small, incremental changes in my life through 21 day challenges.  If I succeed at this round - who knows what I could do next.

So who's with me?  I'd love some company on my 21 day challenge.

Oh - and because I think blogs should have photos if at all possible - the photos I've included today are some of my favourite things.

Friday, September 9, 2011

21 Day Challenge

There are some things in my life that are out of balance.  I work to much and play to little.  I have crafts I want to spend time on, yet struggle to do so.  There are goals I'd like to hit around my fitness and running - but am a long way off.

I think we've all heard the saying that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit.  There are 21 day challenges out there for everything - to lose weight, to become effective leaders, to make money.  You name it, someone has created a program, packaged it up and sold it on to many consumers looking for a way to achieve their dream (whatever it may be).

I've decided I'm going to take my own 21 day challenge.  For the next 21 days I'm going to blog - every day.  There are lots of things I want to change in my life.  Actions around my diet & health, actions around my time management and commitment to fun in my life, actions around my crafty hobbies.  The reality is I'm hesitant to do any of them, knowing my busy schedule and how I usually wimp out of any challenge about a week or so in to it.

Will the 21 day challenge work for me?  Will I create new habits and form new patterns in my behaviour?  I have no idea - but today is day 1 so let's let the journey begin.

Are you interested in doing a 21 day challenge with me?  Pick anything you like and join me here by commenting (and posting to your blog).  Let's see whether this 21 day thing really works or not.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The ritual of tea.

I'm usually a coffee drinker but when the mood strikes me I can become a bit of a tea fanatic.

Recently I had the pleasure of participating in a tea tasting by T2 at work.  (I know I'm spoilt rotten at my workplace.)  I was so inspired by two of the teas I tasted I did something very unusual for me... I went straight online and bought them both.  Ok so I lie.... It's not that unusual for me.  I truly enjoyed them so much that I had to have them.  The first was an iced tea - a tisane - of strawberry and cream.  I won't talk too much about that now, suffice to say it reminded me very much of my childhood eating strawberry and cream lollies but was amazingly refreshing to drink.

The second tea I fell in love with was a French Earl Grey.  I'm not usually a black tea drinker, but the fragrance of this tea is just so fruity and fresh that I fell in love with it before my first sip.  I've been feeling a little under the weather for a few days with a sore throat and thought that this tea would be just the thing to sooth my throat and warm me up on a cold winters day.

The thing I really love about tea the most is the process of making it, and the implements for serving it.  I love that it takes time to brew.  There is an art form to getting it right. Certain brews don't respond well to scalding.  And leaving the leaves in too long can ruin others.  In other words tea requires thought and care.  I love the idea that you can put effort into it to make it something of a beautiful ritual.  As I said I love the implements of tea too.  I love tea pots and tea cups.  I love dainty old china cups and saucers that have become slightly stained with too much love over the years, as well as modern mugs of bright inspiration.  Today though I was in the mood for something nostalgic and grounded.  I chose this chunky mint green cup which has a weight to it usually only associated with coffee mugs.  It sort of made me feel grounded and solid drinking from it.  (Yes I was having a tea moment).  I love the way it compliments the simple tea pot used.  Something about this whole set up (including the apple) made me feel much more centered and relaxed after the ritual of tea.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Woo Woo's

I know it's pathetic, but my dogs have nick names.  Depending on the situation they are known as the fur kids, the foo-bahs, the rat-bags, the boo's, the ratty's and most often the woo woos.  Crazy I know but when you see how they respond to ridiculous baby talk and cooing you'd call them silly names too.

Anyway..... the woo woo's is a name that came about from the 'welcome home bark' that they have for us.  It's a different bark from the 'stranger at the door', 'bird in the backyard', 'possum in the tree', 'let me in', 'I'm hungry' barks.  It's a bark that they have perfected.  Sammy in particular throws her whole body into the bark.  And when she's really fired up it's as though it's her sole purpose for living.  This weekend I attempted for the first time to capture it on my camera (I'm sure it won't be my last).

Note how her eyes are completely closed, her back is arched, and she has one foot in the air as if ready to stomp it down to make her point....  All this was in response to 'daddy' holding the whipper snipper.  She's not a fan and was protesting as loud as possible while shuffling backwards in between woo's.

Here's what she looks like when she's not wooing.

Can you see why I love her.  A total ratbag but with a face too cute to resist.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Last night there was a monkey in my bed!

Now before you get the wrong idea let me set you straight and show you a picture of the monkey in my bed.

Isn't he the cutest little thing.  I'm not really into stuffed toys and I nearly choked when I opened the bag on Friday night when hubby handed it to me.  However I quickly became convinced when I found out this little guy has a purpose and was soon going to become an indispensable part of my life - especially in winter!

You see he's filled with a mixture of wheat and lavender.  After 2 mins in the microwave he becomes toasty warm, smells delicious and is just right to get in your bed and heat it up for you.  He's spent the last few nights cuddled up in my arms keeping me warm.  Better than a hot water bottle any day.  I think hubby's in love with him too as it saves him from icy cold feet and hands being forced upon him with desperate pleas of 'but I'm really really cold'.

Everyone should have a monkey in their bed in the colder months.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Things my beagles have taught me

    I'm a dog lover.  I have 2 and they are my fur babies.  It's a little bit pathetic... but they are super cute and very hard to resist.

    They have taught me so much about myself, and challenged me about how I live my life.  Sounds crazy until you consider that their misbehavior has taught me how little patience I have.  Their unconditional love has shown me how much more I can love others.  The ridiculous joy they express each and every time I come through the door has never failed to put a smile on my face, or remind me that the simple things in life are the best.  If you're a dog lover right about now you'll be agreeing with me.  If you're not... well you are missing out.

    Here's a few things my dogs have taught me (in no way is this a complete list & I may add to it further later):
    • If you're enjoying what you do - everyone around you will enjoy it too.  (Apparently chasing each other around the garden bed is the best game ever!)
    • Enjoy your food.  Eat it with relish!  (Even if it's green)
    • Find joy every day.  And find it in the little things.  (A warm patch of sun to sleep, a bone, cuddles, chasing someone - or your own tail)
    • Being loyal has it's own rewards & creates lifetime relationships built on trust and love.
    • Your eyes are the windows to your soul so express yourself through them.  
      • Sad eyes work! Pleading eyes get results.  Loving eyes make the receiver overlook your mistakes on the floor.
    • Don't be afraid to get your hair messed up.  Feeling the wind in it is good for the soul!  It's the moment that you find joy in, not the ability to look perfect.
    • The best moment of every day should be the moment you see your loved one come in the door.
    • Be affectionate with those you love.  It will encourage them to be affectionate with you.
    • Be proud of you who you are.  If you're a beagle - be a beagle.  If your a Labrador - own it.  If your a Chihuahua embrace your petite size. Who you are is good.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    As you wish....

    It's funny the way shared experiences can connect people and create a bond and level of familiarity that can otherwise take months or years to develop.  Often it can take quite some time to discover these commonalities.  On rare occasions it can happen seemingly overnight.

    I love it when deeper connections are made almost instantly when you meet someone for the first time.  It's rare, but very precious to discover the sheer speed that you dive headlong into your friendship.  I was re-reading The Princess Bride recently - you know, the one the movie is based on... the Dread Pirate Roberts, Princess Buttercup, the infamous line 'Hello. My name in Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.'  If you don't know what I'm talking about I want you to stop reading right now and get the DVD and watch it.  I'm serious.  Don't read another line on this blog, answer email, or get on facebook until you've seen it.  Anyway as I was saying.... I was re-reading the book and as I read some of my favorite lines I was struck by the many and deep instant bonds I've created with people over the years over the shared experience of The Princess Bride.  Yes I'm serious.  I have bonded with people over a shared love of this movie, and the ability to quote many, many lines from it.

    Possibly the most memorable occasion was when I was spending a few months in Canada, in the middle of winter, in the countryside in Ontario.  I was in a shared living situation with people I'd just met from Australia, Canada, the Ukraine, London, the US and Korea... to name a few.  We'd been limping along with conversation since we'd arrived the day before, and were struggling through a slightly painful discussion about what DVD's to rent, as no-one wanted to offend anyone with an edge choice.  We were struggling that is, until someone suggested The Princess Bride.  There was a moments pause before at least 3 people proclaimed loudly, in unison - 'I love that movie'.  At the same time the rest of the group was divided between quoting the lines - 'As you wish....' and ' Hello.  My name in Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.'  Talk about a unifying force in the room.  It was the instant bond of a shared experience spread over many people, many childhoods,  and many miles that knit us together.  Things that seemed awkward a moment ago, were now completely irrelevant.  Offences that we were trying to avoid, were now forgotten.  People were buzzing with excitement sharing their favorite memories and scenes, and talking over the top of each other exclaiming 'me too's frequently.  I had the best time in Canada those few months.  And some of the deepest friendships I formed there were with people who I shared that 'Princess Bride' moment with.

    My point is, I've noticed in the last few years that some of my deepest and fastest friendships have come from the discovery of a shared experience, and rapidly evolved as an instant bond was formed.  It's doesn't necessarily make sense when, or why this happens, or how insignificant the shared experience may seem to others on the outside.  (A recent friendship evolved over a shared love for sliding on floors... it's a long story!)  The amazing thing is the level of trust and depth that that friendship can go to quickly over this shared bond.  It's almost like a shared memory that authenticates the other persons character.

    I have no significant insight to offer on why or how this happens.  Or how to even try to make it happen.  All I know is that some of the most significant friendships of my life have come from crazy shared moments of instant bonding, and I can't wait until the next one comes along!