Your destress point

On our bodies there are various physical points that destress us – but what is yours in life?

By this I mean what activity can you do that melts everything away and makes you feel human again? And how often do you do it?

It’s easy to forget about relaxation in the hysteria of our lives. And the irony is that the more we need to destress, the less it’s on our minds as we try and squeeze every second out of the day to maximise our output. That’s my unconscious reaction anyway.

In my new role as an entrepreneur my task list seems to be growing faster than I ever imagined.

The difference with me is that I flat out refuse to lose my focus on creating balance for my mind, body and heart while I do this. And the more work activities that get added the more other fun activities I need to balance them out.

I’ve been failing a lot at balance lately.

At some ridiculously early hour of the morning as my mind kept whirring I decided that the only way to end this was to put exactly where I’m choosing to spend my time into a form that I can see every day. Then at the end of each day, week and month I can see what I’ve created.

It’s easy to reset each week and say that next week will be better, but when it’s a constant backwards and forwards, with more backwards in many areas, it can all add up to a giant out of balance.

My answer is what I’m calling my Balance Board.

My Balance Board is going to be a large piece of card on my wall with all the activities that I want to include in my week, and some that invariably will enter like a whirring mind.

This is helping me keep track of what my time and energy is going towards, and more easily help me see where needs attention.

There will be things like working, exercising, friends and fun, but it will also be broken down much more specifically based on what I know I want to track. Things like thinking about work, restlessness, heart activities/things that I love, mind activities/meditation, yang exercise/strength training or cardio and yin exercises/stretching or yoga. Is it obvious I’ve been studying Chinese medicine again?

These are the sneaky ones that are the key to me creating a balanced and happy life.

I’ve realised that I am the number one asset in my company and for that reason I need to keep myself at my peak. And this is more than an early night as they usually turn into me continuing to think about work or other stress triggers into the early hours of the morning anyway.

Without me my company will fail and the vision I have of creating change won’t happen, or at least not in the way I see is missing from society.

This pull to create change on a large scale makes me serious about pulling myself back into balance faster and faster. I’ve been chipping away at this for a while but a near return of my chronic fatigue and glimpse at having the choice to build my business taken away from me shook me into action.

This will not fail. I will not fail. When we are playing a big game sometimes it takes something physical to help us keep all of our balls in the air.

A simpler version of this is write out a naughts and crosses board with your top nine things that you want to include in your life. Put it somewhere that you see it before bed every night.

This activity helped me endlessly for a long time to see when things like exercise, fun or mind body connection were falling out of focus.

If you are out of balance and missing what really matters to you in your life why not give it a try? Or let me know what helps you keep balanced, I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Much love,

C

The importance of breathing…out

If you are feeling disempowered or uninspired this simple breathing technique is perfect to reignite your inner fire.

In my recent interest in studying TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), and particularly the theory of yin and yang I came across some studies about the importance of breathing that looked at it in a different way to what I’d read before.

We all know that breathing is important. It keeps us alive. We also have heard a million times before that when we are stressed we need to breathe, or deep breathe. But did you know that there’s a lot more to it than a long breath in and out?

When we are stressed our bodies retain oxygen, preparing us for any need to run that may occur. This means that there is limited lung capacity left to be filled with clean, fresh air and we breathe shallow.

Breathing shallow can lead to us feeling more stressed, anxious, out of breath and limit our ability to think clearly.

It also means that simple tasks can cause us to become out of breath, leaving us wondering whether they are really worth it. This then leads to a state of stagnation which can spiral into depression, exhaustion or overwhelm.

So what can we do?

Yes breathing is a great tip – but it seems that breathing out is the key to picking ourselves up out of this funk and getting going again.

When we breathe out deeply, we empty our lungs more and more with each breath. This leaves more room for clean, fresh air, the stuff we need to survive.

By breathing out we are literally breathing life back into ourselves by inviting more clean air in. More clean air gets our energy and blood flowing more quickly, carrying more oxygenated blood to our cells and organs.

The more oxygen and blood pumping through us the more alive and alert we feel physically. It also leaves us feeling powerful, inspired and positive again. Who would have thought to breathe life back into ourselves we’d need to breathe out?

So how do we do this? A simple technique that I read about and am now completely smitten with is this.

Either lie down flat or sit leaning against a wall with good, relaxed posture. Breathe in normally and then exhale for as long as you can without straining.

Then close your mouth and let yourself inhale normally. This will happen automatically so you don’t need to do anything, or breathe in deeper than required.

When you have breathed in as much as you automatically do, exhale again as long as you can without straining yourself, really focusing on emptying your lungs.

Again, close your mouth and allow your body to automatically take in a quick, deep breath. Once this automatic inhalation has occurred repeat this cycle.

I worked in lots of 21 breaths, and after 2 cycles felt on top of the world.

I had been in a state of complete overwork. I was physically exhausted, emotionally spent, overwhelmed and unmotivated. I did not want to see anyone, do anything or quite frankly move from my bed. I was in survival mode, retreating to restore my energy again.

After just two cycles of this breathing technique I’m now ready to go. I’m up and getting ready to enjoy this glorious day outside.

What a difference breathing out can make.

This is surely something I’ll add into my regular regime as maintenance, especially when I feel that I’ve overexerted myself. I hope I’ve inspired you to give it a try as well.

Much love,

C.

Compassion versus submission

Wherever the response is coming from, it’s hard to keep a calm mind when someone is coming at you with either rage, blame, indignation or one of the many other emotions attached to finger pointing.

We immediately jump into our auto response. Some of us get defensive, some yell, some lie, some blame others and some become overly apologetic and submissive whether we are truly to blame or not. I am the later, and this, like all of our unconscious reactions, comes from decisions I made when I was very young.

My response to blame isn’t anything I remember choosing to take on, but looking back I can see a clear pattern of blaming and punishing myself regardless of what extent I should.

I would take the blame, never standing up for myself, and apologise well beyond what was necessary. With some instances I’ve never truly let myself live down what happened, even for some seemingly small things.

No more though.

I now take a step back and ask myself what are they truly responding to? Is it me and this situation, or something else?

Recently I had a situation where I was accused of something that is completely against what I stand for. My actions had in no way meant to illicit what they accused me of, and it was so far from my beliefs that I hadn’t even considered it could be taken that way.

They were responding to their past which I’d inadvertently triggered.

So how have I learned to deal with these situations without slipping into my subconscious reaction of submission?

First an apology was necessary, but not taking the blame for what they’d accused me of (unless my actions should have indeed been apologised for), but for the reaction they were having.

“I’m really sorry to hear that this has brought up these feelings for you” is a great way of allowing them to feel both heard and understood.

It’s also about taking responsibility. I’d caused a negative reaction within them – I needed to be accountable, but not drown myself in blame and guilt unnecessarily.

After that it’s about also taking emotion out of the explanation. This can be tricky when starting out as it can be easy to come across as self-righteous, insensitive, argumentative or maybe even still submissive.

By doing these things I wasn’t  giving up my own power, asking their forgiveness or not taking responsibility. I was simply stating facts of what I truly meant. By this I mean sharing the situation in a way that they can see it without their past or my past colouring it. 

I allowed myself to be heard – an important step so that I didn’t have an experience of being the victim and ignored myself.

It was also important to let them know that I’d taken on board what they’d said and thank them for taking the time to share their feelings with me.

It’s customer service 101 but at a much deeper level. It’s human interaction 101 that allows both parties to move forward feeling heard, powerful and free from taking the experience into their future.

This tool takes some practice. You might even have experience with some of these steps if you’ve worked in high level customer service or other jobs that involve people management.

The important part is to add compassion to their experience and a balanced power (not arrogant or one sided) to your own.

It can be tricky keeping a level head when it’s a face to face discussion so your own past doesn’t come into play. It’s worth it though.

By practicing this in your life you’ll have the power to soothe people, allow yourself to be heard in the situation also, and let go with ease.

Much love,

C.

The X Factor

There’s a certain glow about people who are living out their passion. Something emanates out of them, and they have something about them that’s immediately recognisable to everyone around.

Even if it’s just realising that there’s something different or special about them, they have a presence that everyone can tell they are kicking goals.

At lunch recently I was surrounded by two girls, a close friend and another girl who I’d never met before. As we navigated the sometimes awkward conversation that follows when you meet new people and try to find common ground, we started talking about her big five things she wanted to achieve in life.

After reading a book she’d been inspired to assess what she wants out of life, write a list and start ticking things off. 

From this book she determined not only a roadmap of what she wants to achieve in her life, but also her purpose. Her purpose for living as she called it. She was buzzing.

The deeper we got into discussion, her body language changed and she began emanating that glow. It was spectacular to watch and as my friend and I also shared about our purpose the table was suddenly filled with three strong, sure, remarkable women who were out to create change in a big way.

The first time I put together that this amazing vibe is from someone living out their purpose was at a conference I attended for work. It was Run The World, an entrepreneur conference that celebrates some of the less recognised but truly amazing female entrepreneurs who are making waves in their industries.

Each of them buzzed. They were strong, sure of themselves and had an energy that lit up the stage as they spoke about their businesses.

From Pia Muehelenbeck of Slinkii Athletic to Gillian Franklin of Heat Group and Eli Censor of Nutrition Bar and KX Cycle, it was clear that they were no ordinary women. Or were they?

I believe that living out our purpose is something that every person has the ability to do.

Regardless of your gender, age, upbringing or socioeconomic status, we can each determine our soul’s purpose and live it out.

What this looks like might be different depending on some of those aforementioned factors, but I believe that we are each born with a purpose. I also believe that once we 100% choose to go forward with it that we’ll be given what we need to make it happen.

Our purpose is often closely linked to our passions. If you live to tell jokes, your purpose could be to spread joy, if it’s cooking then your purpose may be to nurture others or bring people together.

Each day I set my intention and I leave no room for questioning that it will be dedicated to what my purpose is.

I’m so grateful to now know my purpose and be about to launch a company that encapsulates all of my belief systems.

This company will allow me to create the type of workplace I’ve craved my whole life, not just for me, but for my future staff. It will also help me spread the message on a large scale that everything we think, do, and in this case purchase, has an impact on the world we are creating. This is my purpose.

It fuels me, it frightens me and it makes me realise that I was born for a reason. What an honour to know what that is and be doing something about it.

Start asking yourself what your purpose is and the answer will come sooner than you think if you listen. The next move is up to you.

Much love,

C

Do we ever truly have the right to judge?

My opinion is no. I am not perfect, I am not omniscient or omnipotent, so why do I have the right to be the one to judge another? We are after all human beings doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

I had this discussion with a friend recently who was quite horrified when I said that I choose not to judge others’ actions. She appeared horrified and indignant. 

Her reaction was from a lack of distinction between not judging and condoning – something that society also seems to share a blurry understanding of.

I believe that each person lives their own lives and can make their own decisions, to which only they will deal with the consequences in the end.

With this conscious decision I may let them be exactly who they want to be, but I do have the right to no longer associate with them if their values no longer align with mine. It’s still the same outcome, but from a different headspace. Why choose to hold onto negativity?

There are some times when actions need to be taken as a result of someone’s choices, so it’s important not to stick your head in the sand or be in denial that everything is okay if it’s not.

If they’ve physically hurt someone or committed a crime, there are actions that need to be taken. If they’ve emotionally hurt me or someone else then a conversation is likely in order too. But after this, I let it go, leave them to be who they choose to be and carry on my merry way being thankful to no longer have them as they were in my life.

This might mean lessening my attachment to or interaction with them, or sometimes removing them from my life completely if I’m able to/depending on their actions.

I find this the most peaceful way of dealing with life.

I firmly believe that people are allowed to be whoever they want to be or choose to be. This is a hard dance to master without becoming submissive or entering into denial.

I’ve written about this dance before in The Pitfalls of Personal Development, so I’ll just say that this wasn’t how I dealt with life originally. It has however given me a great deal of peace since.

I will always defend the weak and stand up for myself, my beliefs or anyone else that requires it, but at the end of the day I take a deep breathe and let them and their actions go.

Hate, judgement and anger are like swallowing poison and hoping that your enemy will be harmed, so why do we do this?

Society needs to start differentiating so many conditioned societal norms but until then, as always, this is my little piece of the internet to share my message.

Choose love, choose peace, choose who you give your power up to. Are they worth it? More than likely no so leave it for a greater force to judge.

Much love,

C.

I’m weird – so what?

Quite a while ago I embraced my inner weirdo. By that I mean that I am who I am and I’ve stopped trying to be anything but. It is a liberating feeling that has led to much more happiness, peace and energy. Man is it tiring trying to constantly impress others!

What I have found since is that there are plenty of matching weirdos out there (in a loving way of course) that fit perfectly with who I really am.

Partners, friends and colleagues have popped up who appreciate me for exactly who I am, with all of my quirks, and it has opened up conversations and strong bonds that I would not have been able to have while I was still pretending to be someone else.

So why does society insist that we put on a mask?

Looking around it seems that there are people out there who truly are happy wearing their mask. On a conscious level their need to fit in or be liked by everyone is met. If that is what fuels you and you are happy creating your life like this then please continue doing what makes you happy. One day you might change, but for now, who am I to judge?

For the rest of us though, even when we are surrounded by a large group of ‘friends’ and have a packed social calendar, we are still left feeling empty. There are many reasons for this feeling, but one might be that you are getting ready to take off your mask and lead a life that truly reflects you.

This is a big, scary step. What if they don’t like who I really am? What if I lose all of my friends? What will I do on a Saturday night if I choose not to party anymore when that is what my friends do? And the biggest one…what if they realise I’m broken?

For me this was my biggest fear. What if they see under my seemingly calm, controlled, socially acceptable exterior that I’m vulnerable, anxious and don’t have all the answers?

It was terrifying but as life had it, a series of events occurred and my mask was removed whether I wanted it to come off or not. My vulnerabilities and humanness were on display for everyone to see.

And do you know what happened? All those fake relationships that drained me and left me feeling empty disappeared, and my true friends never left my side.

By removing those fake relationships from my life there was free time and energy left for me and I began exploring interests that fuelled me and inspired me.

That fear of feeling empty and alone left as I realised it was actually those fake relationships that had been causing my emptiness, not a lacking within myself as I’d feared.

The more I grew into myself, the more amazing people came into my life as true friends and I began to feel whole. I’d like to say whole again as it seems a bit more poetic but I’d never felt whole before so this was a first.

I did this in stages. My work and family masks were the hardest to remove, and there was lots of backwards and forwards as I found my feet, but as I removed my mask in one area I began itching to remove it in the others.

I could feel the weight of it and see the impact. I was gentle and patient with myself as I gained the knowledge and strength to remove it completely in all areas.

There are still some instances where I need to embody someone else for one reason or another, but even then I am learning how to be who they need to me to be while still remaining true to myself.

We are all weirdos to someone…many people actually.

If you work 80 hours a week you might be a weirdo, but this might be the norm within your circle. You might not gossip which makes you weird to some, but you could have grown up with the belief that not gossiping is normal. You might get excited about sleeping all weekend and your friends are all the same, but this is a horrifying thought to some.

It’s really just about embracing your inner so-called weirdo and finding your matches. Trust me, they are out there and they are waiting to expand their own circle with someone just like you.

Much love,

C.

A birthday dance

This week I witnessed a friend of mine have the most magical birthday, thanks to her adoring boyfriend.

He had spent months organising a surprise party for her, along with four days of surprises that were just for the two of them.

By the fourth day of her celebrations, her actual birthday, she was glowing. The type of glow that comes from being filled with love from everyone in your world.

It brought it front and centre for me that birthdays were about allowing others to show how much they love and value you, and graciously allowing them to express it. This is a concept I’d struggled with my whole life but finally truly understood this year on my own birthday.

I’d chosen not to have a birthday party as the idea of all eyes on me made me severely uncomfortable. I had known at my core that this year, with three people I care deeply about away for extended periods of time that I’d have loved to be surrounded by all those people who I love and who bring true joy to my life each day.

Instead I chose to have dinner with a friend who I adore. It was beautiful and I left feeling on top of the world.

Earlier that evening life had given me a kick in the pants, reminding me that I need to have more fun (inspiring an earlier post), so after dinner I packed up my dancing shoes and went off to do what I love – zouk. I was surrounded by friends, doing what I love, and with no more attention on me than usual. I was in my element.

Late that night a tradition called a birthday dance was taking place and as I watched another girl beaming away as all eyes were on her I felt an unexpected sadness. The tradition is one where the birthday person dances with all of their friends, surrounded by everyone in the room, and they get to shine and be celebrated.

As some of my friends tried desperately to get me to at least be involved (I’d begged the DJ not to give me a dance), it had all finally clicked in place. This tradition is just as much about allowing others to show their appreciation and love of the birthday person as it is about the actual birthday person. 

I felt like that by not having a birthday dance, or party, and awkwardly accepting a cake at work as my colleagues beamed back at me, I had in some way been ungrateful to those who love me. I was denying them the chance to show their appreciation, and though not intending for this to be the case, rejecting their friendship.

The penny dropped, hard, and I was yet again filled with sadness and regret. As I returned home I could clearly see this pattern repeating itself through my life.

Not only did this pattern mean that I’d missed so many opportunities to enjoy myself, but I’d made it incredibly difficult for friends, family and partners to show they care. It was no wonder that in my life I’d always been surrounded by so many acquaintances and only a handful of true friends, who I treasure with my soul, but had had to work hard to get into my heart.

It’s taken 28 years but I am grateful to let that brick wall down. It might take some time, but the first step is the hardest and I’ve taken it now. You are all my witnesses. So hold me accountable!

If any of you also find it hard to be celebrated or always find yourself giving instead of receiving graciously, take my example and look within – why? If you are surrounded by people who leave you empty – why? Is it the type of people you give your time to or is it because you refuse to let yourself receive?

Whatever the case, isn’t it about time we all felt loved every day by those around us?

Much love,

C

Creating a terrifyingly exciting life

I have taken on a project that excites me and terrifies me in every way imaginable.

It has already pushed me well beyond the limits of who I know myself to be. In fact, for this to succeed, it will challenge almost every belief I currently hold.

This project will challenge my beliefs about myself, my finances, my career, my life path, my relationships, security, trust, intuition and my ability to consciously create.

For this to succeed I need to fearlessly not just tackle each and every obstacle, doubt or situation that comes up but run at them with the ferocity and bravery of a tribal warrior.

On the flip side, I must also have the gentle nature and inner wisdom of an elder to allow myself to be guided in the right direction.

These two don’t seem to naturally go hand in hand but what an amazing power they will create together. Power, bravery, intuition and trust together I believe could move mountains.

I’ll be honest, I’m actually chasing a dream – a dream that in no uncertain terms told me my next step. Over the coming days I diligently but tentatively investigated what this would look like in reality, but at the first obstacle began doubting and changing the idea around.

Then I gave up, and after doing so spent weeks feeling like I’d lost my way in a number of areas of life, never realising that this decision was the cause.

Finally, after a few words of support from a loving friend a switch flicked in me and I chose to pursue this dream wholeheartedly. I felt alive again and oozed an enthusiasm for life I haven’t felt since I was a teenager.

I had no idea where to start but just as I said in my procrastination post, I started by figuring out what I did know and worked from there. I asked a lot of questions to people who know more than me, looked up a lot of information and a to-do list started to form.

Suddenly I realised that I had the power to do this, and also that I had almost all of the people I needed already in my network. The dots suddenly connected in my questionable array of jobs to date and it became clear that it had all been for a reason – this reason.

I know I’m on the right track and the fact that this is obviously part of my purpose terrifies me and excites me more than you could know.

To add even more to this, I have three months to turn it all into a reality. I am now diligently following a strict timeline and by constantly chipping away at what needs to be done, doors are opening and obstacles are dissolving in a spectacular way.

I know I am on the right track.

So beautiful readers, this is the new dance I’m learning – sometimes leading and sometimes following but always moving forward.

I know it’s going to be a heck of a ride. Hold on!

Much love,

C

The pitfalls of personal development

Be seen but not heard – that’s what I learned. Whether that was being quiet when we visited others, using my manners or declining things out of politeness that I might have actually wanted so not to be a burden, I was always praised when I didn’t make a fuss.

I don’t fault my parent for their actions as they were just doing the best they could, but this set me up for a lifetime of passivity and struggling to communicate my needs.

By the time I began my personal development journey I was far from that passive youth – I was an angry, broken twenty year old. I was in pain after losing my mum and the world was going to pay.

As I dived into finding a better future, and better me, one of the key things I was taught was that peace comes from accepting things exactly as they are.

People are who they are and you can’t change that = peace. Situations are perfect exactly as they are so accept them as they are = peace. If you are angry, defeated or any other ‘negative’ emotion it’s something within you that you need to let go of.

On one hand this is right, but on the other this is one of the key pitfalls of personal development.

Even as I became more proficient at the techniques I was studying I found myself still being taken advantage of physically, emotionally and professionally because I would just let things go and never stand up for myself.

I was yet again gagged from expressing my emotions or needs, but I thought that by taking a few deep breathes and choosing to accept the situation as it was that I was growing as a person.

There is certainly a level of acceptance required that does result in peace within yourself. And you cannot change another for the most part, but in some situations an action is required before you reach this step.

If you are being bullied at work it is true that you cannot change the person as they are on their own journey, but that does not mean that you cannot stand up for yourself.

As long as you do not come from a space of aggression for example, you can and should explain that what they are doing is not okay. You owe it to yourself to at least communicate your needs even if you cannot guarantee they will be heard.

The conversation is of course a little more complex than that to still come from a space of love but the point is that it is okay to stand up for yourself.

It is okay if you think something or someone is wrong to question it. It is okay if your morals are being compromised to vocalise this before deciding whether or not to remove yourself from the situation.

Do not be gagged! Do not be aggressive or fueled by ego but do not just accept every situation without taking action.

What would the world be like if we all shrugged our shoulders at child abuse or genocide or famine?

I for one do not want to live in a world like this so I’m standing here encouraging you to speak up. Come from love, come from peace but also come from a place of respect for yourself. Then there is the space for you to care for others and the world – but not if you can’t care for yourself.

How I wish someone had told me that sooner for it took me many years to realise. In fact I still walk that line and sometimes fall to one side or the other. It’s tricky for sure but I’m happy to learn to navigate it in exchange for once again having a voice.

Please don’t lose yours!

Much love,

C.

Procrastination masterclass

Just start! This post really could be those two words but for many it’s not that simple. Their lives are consumed by procrastination eating, procrastination calls to friends, procrastination internet shopping, procrastination housework  and the Grand Poobah: procrastination on social media.

Our days and in turn lives can easily become stuck in a constant state of not doing if we aren’t careful. Sure all of those other things need to be done, or are fun, but are you really enjoying yourself when there is a tugging at the back of your mind that you should be doing something else?

Or worse, a feeling of guilt sneaking in while doing something you love? Surely you are worth more than that. Procrastination devalues you, your time and the activity or at least your experience of it in that moment. Be better than that!

I’m surrounded by procrastinators in my friendship group. It is actually admirable on some level their commitment to not doing a particular task. They really can stick to their guns and flat out refuse to do something until it is down to the wire and their hand is forced.

For some, this is when they produce their best work. To those people I’d say accept this about yourself and change your thinking to be that you are enjoying life, or doing other things until you know you will produce at your best.

There is no shame in understanding your patterns and working in with them. The only shame would be to waste time and energy feeling guilty or not being present. Your insight and great management of yourself should be rewarded, and one way to do that is to let yourself off the hook mentally and enjoy the activities you are doing in the meantime.

Have your own deadline though and keep to it. If you can do this then my hat is off to you, you have been mislabeled a procrastinator and should probably stop reading. For the rest of you…

I’ve never really been a procrastinator but I can empathise with your struggle and see the temptation of it.

Sometimes in my job I can get given a writing task and the topic either bores or overwhelms me. Either way I’m not jumping at the bit to start. If I were a procrastinator I would happily take up my time with other things on my work to-do list that were easier or more fun and then 5pm would hit and woops, it’s too late in the day now so it’ll have to wait until tomorrow. And the procrastination cycle would begin.

Some of you might say I’m a sucker for punishment but I normally start with the trickiest or most daunting thing first. Rip that bandage off! That’s not to say that staring at a blank page isn’t daunting. It is. But my mum taught me to break things down into tiny chunks and then start with the parts you can do.

For me that means in my mind I’m no longer doing a huge, horrifying task. I’m now doing a little bit of something that I know how to do. That’s not so scary is it? Before I know it I’m half way done the thing I could have procrastinated for days on and it’s starting to make sense. I’ve gained confidence, knowledge and tackling the tricky bit isn’t so tricky anymore.

Voila. A journey of one thousand miles starts with a single step. So just focus on taking that one step. One step isn’t that hard now is it? Now let’s try another.

Much love,

C.