See the person not the disability

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Today is international day of people with a disability and I’d like to share a story that was shared with me when I first started working at Scope.

 

A few years ago, a colleague of Scope was travelling by train to a business meeting in the city. He planned to catch the train to Flinders Street Station, then cross the concourse to the taxi rank and use a taxi to complete his trip. He was like any other successful businessman that you would see in the city, except he uses a powered wheelchair and a picture board to communicate. While crossing the concourse his wheelchair broke down. With the taxi rank in plain view, to his horror he realised that he had no way of reaching it alone.  He tried to attract the attention of his fellow commuters. Everyone just walked past.  It took 50 minutes for the first person to stop.

 

The well-meaning lady who stopped didn’t take the time to listen to him and, assuming he was a beggar, put money on his wheelchair tray.  Humiliated, he was now in a worse situation than before.  With the cab rank he so desperately needed to reach in his line of sight, people continued to just put money on his wheelchair tray. This went on for three hours. Finally a group of students approached him. They spent no more than two minutes asking him questions to understand what he needed. This extra two minutes saved him waiting for hours more on the concourse. He was assisted by the students to reach the taxi rank feeling degraded, stressed, dehydrated and exhausted.

 

As appalling as his experience is, he is not alone. Australians with a disability are living these experiences every day. Each of us needs to recognise that this is a problem in our society, and that it is unacceptable. Australia requires a transformational change for people with a disability to be truly welcomed and accepted.

 

Transformation of community attitudes requires acknowledgement that there is a problem and a determination to drive change that improves Australia as a society. People with a disability and their families have demonstrated what it takes to drive a paradigm shift in social policy.

 

The change starts with you; it starts with all of us. We need to see the person not the disability.

 

Learning to Live

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When my dad first passed away a number of people who had lost loved ones told me that you never really get over your loss. At the time it felt like I was being told that I was never going to be okay again, that somehow I was now broken beyond repair and I truly hated hearing it. Over the past few months I’ve been pushing myself to maintain my usual routine, believing that if I just kept pushing through I would somehow come out the other side. But the real truth is there is no other side to grief, it’s not finite, it’s not a linear path or a journey to a light at the end of a tunnel. It changes with you and it comes in and out like waves rolling onto the shore. After much soul searching I can finally say that I’m okay with that. I’m okay with no specific end to my grief and I’m comfortable with my pain.

 

It’s been a long journey to get to that point.  I went through what seemed like a really good period where I felt almost weirdly together and at peace with everything. Looking back now I’d say it was a pretty heavy case of denial. Then the reality of how much I had lost started to set in. I found myself reduced to a crying mess day after day and I began to get really frustrated. I could cope with bits of sadness here and there but being upset every single day really started to take its toll.

 

Desperate to find some reprieve from the constant crying and sadness I  began to hunt for a fix. I decided that I must be out of balance and so I went to my list of self care activities. I went through all the possibilities in my head: maybe I need to practice more yoga or run more or just get more sleep or perhaps regular massages are the answer…everyone loves a good massage. Now while self care is extremely important to good health it really doesn’t work if you’re using it to try and numb unwanted emotions. You see the problem with numbing is that you can’t selectively numb emotions. Just like yin and yang all of our emotions are interconnected and you can’t numb sadness without numbing happiness just like you can’t really appreciate light unless you have known darkness.

 

At this point I hadn’t recognised just how much I was trying to avoid my pain. I confided in a good friend that I’d been crying and feeling down every day and that I didn’t know what to do to pull myself out of it. I was desperate for some sort of advice on how to make it stop. What I got instead was raw heartfelt honesty, he told me that I’d just been through one of the most significant and testing periods in my life to date and I can’t expect to just bounce back out of it and think I’ll cope. His words cut me to my core, I was immediately reduced to tears and could hardly breathe. This was the first moment that I realised just how badly I wanted to bounce back and return to something familiar.  At the time I felt so defeated and a big part of me wanted to argue that I could bounce back I just needed to do A, B and C. But instead of getting defensive and at least talking about how I felt, I did what many before me have done and internalised my feelings. I took the argument inside my head.

 

Still desperate and believing that I could find a way out of my pain I began to go through all the things I was doing in my life that were perhaps too much for me. The list I came up with was pretty much everything and that sent me into a total tail spin. The thought of having to pull back from everything in order to be okay made me feel stressed and anxious. Note to self – Internal problem solving while overwhelmed is not the best idea. So I then found myself in a sad, crying, stressed and anxious mess and it was time to see my psychologist.

 

At this point I’d been seeing my psychologist for a little over two months and I’d never let myself cry in front of her. And yes I know that it’s crazy to not let yourself cry in front of someone who’s there to help you work through your pain but I’m working on the whole vulnerability thing. In contrast to pervious sessions, this session I was a blubbering mess. I told her how I felt like I’d come such a long way; I’d made peace with all the painful circumstances surrounding my dad’s death, I’d let go of my fixation on better understanding his cause of death and I even felt untroubled by this death being under investigation and yet despite all of this I felt like I’d reached an all time low.

 

With tears running down my face I went on to tell her my idea about needing to pulling from pretty much everything. The next few things she told me really shifted the way I was seeing things. Firstly she pointed out that part of the reason that I was feeling so frustrated was because I’d been through a good phase and this down phase felt like a step backwards. Because it felt like a step backwards I was then looking for a fix it in order to get back to good again. Secondly she spoke about the necessary role that tears and sadness play in healing. And thirdly she also told me that I didn’t need to stop doing things just because I was feeling down but if I did decide to scale back anything that I’m doing I should change the language that I’m using. She said that saying I “need” to do this because I’m not okay was making me feel like I had no choice in the matter. Instead I could rephrase to I am “choosing” to do this to give myself time and space. It was such a simple rephrase but it lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.

 

I walked away from that session with a new sense of calm. Over the next few days I still found myself randomly crying every day but I wasn’t as troubled by my sadness. Then another bit awesome wisdom came in the form of a YouTube clip by Marisa Peer called You can be enough.  In this clip Marisa instructs her audience to set two reminders in their phones one for every morning and one for every evening. The reminder is to tell yourself “I am enough”. She also suggested to write it on a mirror that you see each day to really drive the message home. I decided to give it a go for a week and I was amazed by the things that began to happen. The biggest thing that came from it was letting go of many of the unfair expectations I put on myself. Letting go of some of the expectations I held for myself meant that I began to feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin and I was able to really accept where I was in my grief journey.

 

I can now see that all the time and energy that I put into fighting with my pain was actually time and energy put into my own suffering. Pain and grief are unavoidable parts of life that hold enormous potential for growth and learning. The same cannot be said for suffering. We make ourselves suffer when we wish for a reality other than our own.

 

Self acceptance has been huge in getting comfortable with pain. Showing up for myself and truly embracing who I am right now and how I feel in each moment has allowed me to detach from this idea of needing to be okay. What the hell does okay even mean anyway! We’re never in a fixed state where everything comes together perfectly and stays that way. Things are constantly coming together then falling apart, it’s the nature of life.

 

With my new found self acceptance I found myself able to make decisions that really honour what I need from myself right now. I stopped forcing myself to push through things and I was able to discern what was making my life harder than it needed to be.

 

The one thing that stood out to me was my Chinese medicine course. When my dad first passed away I was in my first trimester of my course. I was determined to not fall in a heap and pushed myself really hard to get all of my assignments done to a high standard and in on time and I did well in all of my exams. This current trimester has been a very different experience. I would sit at home listening to lectures on the physiology of the heart and lungs and relate every last bit back to what was going on with my dad. After a few weeks of continually relating most class content to my dad I became emotionally exhausted and began to disengage with the content to protect myself. I went from being a student that got great marks to being a student that was just scraping through. Acknowledging that I wasn’t doing that course justice, that I couldn’t expect anything more from myself and that I needed some time out to heal wasn’t easy. But as soon as I made the choice I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders and I knew I had made the right decision.

 

We often get so caught up in chasing these long term goals we set for ourselves – finishing a degree, saving for a house, working towards a promotion – that we don’t pay attention to how we’re actually experiencing life on a daily basis. I don’t know where this great urgency comes from that makes us feel like we must be in a certain place by a certain age but there’s a huge amount of harm in the hurry.

 

While I would give anything to have my dad back I can truly say that I’m grateful for just how much I’ve learnt and become aware of over the past few months. I consider his passing my wake up call. A reminder that you never really know how long you’ve got so don’t get so caught up in the pursuit of long term goals that you forget that you’re only really living right now, don’t try and avoid hard feelings they hold invaluable lessons for you and most importantly know that you are always enough, so make sure that you turn up for yourself, back yourself and know that whatever life bring to you….

You got this

With love and blessings
xxx
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Self Care

Taking the time to look after yourself before you burnout and or get sick is one of the greatest preventative medicines out there. Self care in essence is a simple concept and yet so many of us struggle to make the time for ourselves. Perhaps it’s that some of us feel guilty and a little selfish making our happiness and wellness a priority, or maybe there’s just no time in our busy schedule for something that feels more indulgent that it does necessary but for whatever reason self care activities often get put on the back burner.

I have to put my hand up and say that I’m pretty guilty of getting to busy and forgetting about making time for myself. So how do I keep myself in check, firstly I wrote out a list of all the things I can do for myself so that I have an easy go to and then I try to do a couple of things from the list each week. Quite often when I hit a low I’ll realised that I’ve stopped doing some of the key things I usually do for myself and lets face it sometimes things just turn to shit. In those moments I get extra kind with myself, whatever the circumstance there’s no blame or judgement. There’s no you shouldn’t have dropped the ball or how did you create such a mess I only ask myself what do you need right now…

Then I return to my list and I plan a few nice things I can do for myself, I change up my routine if I can and I identify if there’s anything that isn’t serving me and needs to go. Letting go of things is of course easier said than done but acknowledging something doesn’t serve you is a great start to freeing yourself from the weight.

So my all important list, I want to share my list so that you get a few ideas for what you might like to do for yourself and you may even be inspired to make your own awesome self care list. I made sure that my list is a combination of simple cheap/free things and some more indulgent things for when I need a little extra self love. I think it’s also important to have a mix of movement based self care activities – that beautiful body of yours was designed to move – and more meditative activities that allow you to drop into clam and stillness.

Without further ado here’s my list

  • Stop to take a few deep breaths – there’s nothing more grounding and calming than a few deep breaths
  • Practice Yoga – while it’s super brilliant for your physical body to get the stretch and strengthening that yoga cultivates part of the success of yoga is the awareness and mindfulness that it also cultivates.
  • Drinking my morning tea in silence and really soak up the morning
  • Dry brushing my body before a morning shower – while its great for your skin it’s also a great mindfulness practice
  • Get a massage
  • Go for a walk in nature (bush trails, bare foot beach)
  • Make and enjoy bone broth – It’s probably the closest thing to a hug in a cup
  • Go for run – a little endorphin boost is always a good thing
  • Go for a float session – if you’ve never had a float experience do yourself a favour it’s awesome
  • Have a mindful meal – this one is kind of great, you eat less and appreciate your meal more. It basically means that you eat in silence and as you put each mouthful for food in your month you put your knife and fork down and take the time to properly chew your food once you have swallowed your food then you pick up your knife and fork again. It’s amazing when you’re not used to it how much you will go to pick up your knife and fork before you have finished.
  • Do something silly fun – grab a friend and go to one of those kids adventure places and bounce, climb and laugh like a child
  • Disconnect – turn off the phone. laptop, tablet and have some technology free time
  • Write yourself a love letter – remind yourself of all the reasons why you’re wonderful, you deserve the best of your own love
  • Take a nap – sometimes I’m exhausted but I feel really guilty taking a nap, I worry about all the other things I should be doing but I’ve learnt that the world won’t fall over if I take a short nap and all those things get done a lot better when I’m energised
  • Have a bubble Bath – Lots of bubbles, lots of lavender oil and it wouldn’t be complete without some candles to set the mood and maybe a cheeky glass of red
  • Meditate – if you’re new to mediation or find it a bit of a struggle on your own there are some really great apps that can help teach you techniques and  guide you through your experience. Two of my favourite are 1 Giant Mind and Calm.
  • Clean up – When my head gets messy my space will often get messy too or maybe it’s when my space gets messy my head gets messy either way I always feel so much better when I clean up my room and have things in order.
  • Have a good clean out – Less is more. It always feels so nice to give away things that I no longer need. I love feeling of filling up a garbage bag of old clothes and taking it down to our local salvation army store.
  • Journal – I like to give myself topics to journal about, we did this at our yoga teacher training and it was so constructive that I’ve continued to come up with topics to explore or sometimes I will just write about whatever is relevant at the time either way it always feels great to get things out on paper.
  • Puzzles – I’m exposing my inner nerd here but I love myself a puzzle! Research shows that doing jigsaw puzzles increases the production of dopamine in the brain – the chemical responsible for memory and learning.
  • Sit in the sun – Sensible amounts of sunshine not only help your body synthesise vitamin D but it also enhance mood and energy through the release of endorphins and have been found to lower pressure and help you sleep better.
  • Read something for the pure joy of reading – I often have my head in uni books but it’s great to pick up something that I really just enjoy
  • Getting my hair done or a mani or pedi – ladies you understand why this one is so nice
  • Plan an activity with friends – I love little adventures; It might be weekends away, lunch at a winery, a trip to a market, a little bit of kayaking or maybe rock climbing just something to get right out of the normal routine.

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The Puzzle of Life

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One night I woke up at 2am struck with an idea about life and how it all fits together. Being only half awake I wasn’t sure if it was brilliant or just pain silly but I wrote it down all the same and drifted off back to sleep. In the morning I came back to it and started testing it for flaws and to my delight it held up pretty well. That was several months ago and since then what have I done with this idea? Pretty much nothing! I’ve just sat on it.

Why have I not shared what I originally through was a pretty damn good idea? Well I still thought it was a good idea, that hadn’t changed but I was making excuses that pushed it back. I was telling myself that I was saving it for a really good blog post and that I didn’t want to write it until I had the time to do it justice but on reflection I think I was just afraid of putting it out there.

So what prompted me to share now. Last Friday night I went to an awesome workshop run by InsideOut, at the start of the workshop founder Campbell Butterss shared this vision of how life can get small and messy. I thought it was brilliant and I also saw a lot of my own vision in his. That was the start of stepping towards sharing. Later in the workshop one of the facilitators Miroslav Petrovic took me to a place where I had to sit with and breath through the story I regularly tell myself about not being good enough. To sit with all the harsh expectations I put on myself and to breathe into the emotions and the tightness in my chest was invaluable for me. In going into the feelings behind the story I was able to loosen its grip and step through a place of fear.

After my three paragraph introduction it might seem like what I’ve got to share is pretty huge. The truth is it isn’t really that profound, but I wanted to be real about how much I’d built it up to be a big deal in my head in the hope that people are inspired to share their struggles and break through their fear. And maybe just maybe the journey of sharing holds a bigger message than my idea ever did.

Now finally to this idea about life; so I was looking for a way to explain how I’d experienced figuring out who I am at my core and how I had detangled a lot of the rubbish that blocked me from knowing my true self. This is how I see it:

When you’re born you have a few key puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly and that’s who you are in your truest purist form. As you go through life and have experiences you begin to pick up new puzzle pieces. Some of these pieces belong to you; fitting well with your original puzzle pieces and others really aren’t your puzzle pieces at all, they’re often pieces that others have pushed on you and led you to believe are part of who you are. These puzzle pieces that don’t belong begin to cause a lot of problems. You see we’re always trying to complete our puzzles and when something doesn’t fit what do we do? We pull apart the whole puzzle and try and make it work thinking that maybe there was something wrong in the core puzzle and if we do a little rearranging we should be able to make it work. There in lies the mess.

Over the years we can collect so much rubbish along with our true stuff that it can turn into one big fat epic mess. While some lucky humans naturally get better at discerning what’s theirs most of us get to some point where we end up questioning why we’re unhappy, unfulfilled and struggling with elements of our lives.

So then how do you then begin to sort out what pieces you need in your puzzle and what pieces just make life harder. Let me start by saying brilliant puzzles take time and dedication there’s no quick and easy fix but it can definitely be worked through. It becomes a matter of figuring out when you picked up certain puzzle pieces then deciding what needs to stay and what needs to go. When that puzzle gets a little less messy and you begin to really be able to see who you are, let me just say that life gets awesome!

For me journaling, reading all sorts of self help books, my yoga teacher training and working with some psychologists really helped to trace back to when I started having certain limiting beliefs about myself and forming certain views of the world. I think this process of building the picture of who we are is always a work in progress and it’s evolving nature is part of the magic of life.

If the puzzle was perfect and finished what more would there be to do.

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Enjoy the journey, laugh at the confusion, breathe into the moment and know that everything happens for a reason.

xx

30 Days of Kindness – my journey

The biggest thing that came out of me doing my 30 day kindness challenge was probably the change in how I define kindness. When I set out to do my 30 day challenge I wrote out a list of nice things I could do for myself which included things like massages, flowers, yoga and other self care bits and bobs. And that was really how I was defining kindness; nice things that I could do for myself.

I didn’t want to completely plan what I would do each day because I wanted each day to be about what I needed on that day. I started by picking random things off the list but after a few days the list went out the door and each morning I would simply ask myself what do you need today? And with that question each day my understanding of kindness evolved.

One morning I found myself deliberating over if something was an act of kindness or if it was more a happiness thing. Then I told myself it’s not very kind to argue with yourself about kindness (I can see how crazy this seems as I write it).  And then I asked myself why are you doing this again… isn’t this about being better to yourself and doing less self judging and scrutinising. It was then that I realised how much of a hard time I give myself wanting to make things “correct”. This was my challenge that I created for myself there were no rules or regulations around what I could and couldn’t do. Kindness was about giving myself a big fat dose of self compassion and allowing things to be imperfect. I needed to put down the big stick that I often beat myself with and embrace my imperfect self with love.

A little while after posting my last picture for my 30 day challenge it was pointed out to me that I’d spelt “I’m Allowed” incorrectly as “I’m Aloud”. My stomach dropped and I felt sick. And in that moment I had a choice, delete the post, fix it and put it back up or let it be wrong and follow where that sick feeling comes from. And in the true spirit of kindness I let it be wrong and I sat with my feelings of failure because for me it wasn’t just a silly mistake it was decades of not being able to spell. I was taken right back to primary school and being the kid who had to do special Ed and was picked on for not bring able to spell. Spelling is something I’ve struggled with my entire life and talking about my learning difficulties is something that I pretty much never go near. Until this moment I’ve probably never really appreciated just how much shame I’ve attached to this part of myself. Even after being diagnosed with a learning disability I still set the bar really high for myself and would wind up feeling like failure for not being able to meet my unrealistic expectations. I was amazed by how much a spelling mistake brought up for me and just how much I’d supressed for years. As I ran through my experiences in the education system I began to realise how far I’d come and as a smile came over my face I with filled with delight for all my achievements.

It’s funny how things that happen seemingly by mistake can end up being just what you need. Being able to embrace a shortcoming that has followed me around for years was perhaps the greatest act of kindness I could ever give myself.

Below is my full list of my 30 day journey…please enjoy

xx

day 1

The most intimate relationship we will have in our entire lifetime is with ourselves. No one hears our hearts the way we do. No one knows our hurts the way we do. We are the sages of our soft spots and our edges. Self-compassion is showing up to that relationship with honesty and with love. – Jamie Ridler

Day 1 – I’m starting by putting an affirmation up on the mirror that I stand in front of each day when I brush my teeth.

day 2

Day 2 – Baking myself my favorite muffins. There’s something so wonderful about baking for the pure joy of it. I’m the first to admit that I’m not the best cook and sometimes I avoid things that I enjoy because there’s a part of me that hates not being good at things. But today I am all smiles for my wonderfully average muffins! 😄

day 3

Day 3 – After a long day in the office draining my brains in spreadsheets rather than dragging my feet to my car I’m choosing to give myself a little dose of happiness by getting upside down. Handstands really can boost your mood! Besides the fact that there’s nothing like a bit of childlike fun… getting upside down helps reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol.

 

 

day 4

Day 4 – Change what you can’t accept and accept what you can’t change. Today is a complaint free day. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of regularly complaining about the little things in life that sometimes you don’t even realise it. I’m giving my brain some kindness by keeping it positive and if I do catch myself grumbling I’ll take a moment to try and see things from a different perspective. Oh the raw chocolate coyo also helps

day 5Day 5 – Taking some time to appreciate how far I’ve come and the awesome things I’ve achieved. One of the things about yoga that I love is how measurable growth is, you notice it in your physical body and you feel it in your mind. I still remember dreading every time a side plank was called out in class. I always had to drop my bottom knee, would shake like nothing else and sometimes would just come out of the pose early because I didn’t think I could take anymore. I would watch in awe as other girls would lift their top leg and think that I would never get there. It didn’t happen over night but with dedication and time I got there. It serves as a constant reminder to me that with the right amount of time and effort you can take yourself to places you never dreamed possible. Like my yoga practice figuring out what I want to do with my life and finding something that really resonates with me has taken a lot of time, a lot of trial and error and a bucket load of courage but I am so proud of myself for following my passion and completely changing my life this year. Give yourself a little praise today for the awesome things you’ve achieved on your way

day 6

Day 6 – With my first exam tomorrow morning right now what I need from myself is to be a little kinder with the expectations I set for myself. The expectations I set for myself are often much higher than what I would ever expect from anyone else. I often don’t take into consideration my circumstances and the bar is forever high. Today I remind myself that I can only ever do my best and my best is a moving scale, it may not be the same from day to day and that is completely fine.

day 7

Day 7 – Sunshine is the best medicine! Cat napping in the winter sun. Getting a sensible amount of sunshine is so good for you. Not only because it assists in the synthesis of vitamin D but it also enhances mood and energy through the release of endorphins, has been found to lower blood pressure through the release of nitric oxide and can actually help you sleep better. 🌞

 

day 8

Day 8 – Taking a moment for some pre exam meditation on the roof top at uni. Whether you’ve got a regular meditation practice or not; taking a few moments out of each day to slow down, take a few deep beaths and ground yourself; is one of best gifts you can give yourself.

 

 

day 9

Day 9 – Bursting with gratitude! Gratitude has the ability to take what you have and make it enough. Today I’m taking some time to be grateful for a few things that I often take for granted. My last exam is all done and dusted and I am so insanely grateful that in a world where not everyone gets access to a basic education I have the opportunity to study something I love. In a world where there is so much poverty I am grateful that I can come home and simply open the fridge. I a world with so much sickness I am grateful for my health and happy heart. And most of all I am grateful for my amazingly strong and positive mother and brother who every day inspire me to be my best self and I am grateful for the time I had with my brilliant father all the lessons he taught me all the treasured memories bring such a warmth to my heart.

day 10

Day 10 – Getting creative with my class planning. It gives me such a buzz getting right into playing with sequencing. Letting your mind run wild without judgment is such a beautiful thing.

day 11

Day 11 – How would you define love? And does that safe definition apply to the way you feel about yourself? Last night in the yoga class I taught I read When I began to love myself by Charlie Chaplin in savasana. As I read through the lines, I was reminded of just how powerful self love is. I truly believe that it can change the lenses that you see life through. With that in mind I wanted to write myself a love letter to remind myself just how wonderful I am in my own eyes. It’s pretty nerve racking and kind of uncomfortable to praise yourself in a big way but I’ve committed myself to no half baked love letters so here goes nothing. You can read my love letter to myself here.

day 12

Day 12 – Giving myself permission to take a nap. I often feel guilty about having a nap because I think that I have too many other things that I should be doing but that usually means that sooner or later I hit a bit of burnout. So today I acknowledge that there’s always going to be stuff that needs doing but sometimes I just need to look after what I need in the moment and this moment calls for a nap. 💤

day 13

Day 13 – Just a few weeds pulled put this morning. For me there’s something so therapeutic about gardening and I actually can’t remember the last time I made time for it. It drops me into a really calm place and as I pull each weed out I am reminded that just as in life if you don’t get right to the roots of the weed you will forever be trying to remove the same weeds over and over again.

day 14

Day 14 – Adopting the pace of nature. In nature nothing is rushed and yet everything is still achieved. There are a few people in my life who truly embrace living at a magical pace. I watch them with fascination as they are move mindfully through life never allowing themselves to be rushed even when other people try to make them. I rush a lot in life and always have multiple things on the go and I know living like that adds unnecessary stress to my life and prevents me from being present in each moment. So today I’m just going to take my time with my day and not put pressure on myself to get a super human amount of things done.

 

day 15Day 15– Allowing myself to be as I am. Today I feel really flat and pretty miserable. Usually whenever I start to feel like this I try to turn it around, I look for things that will take me away from that unwanted feeling that life isn’t as bright as it normally is. I often try and tell myself that losing my father isn’t that bad and remind myself that other people have it far worse but the reality is that by doing that I’m denying myself the right to grieve. I have every right to feel miserable about losing my father unexpectedly and while yes worse things do happen to other people that doesn’t take away my right to heartache. Today I’m not trying to avoid how I truly feel. I’m giving myself permission to be devastated and allowing myself to feel what I need to feel. I spend so much energy priding myself on staying strong and keeping it together but it’s actually taken so much more courage to allow myself to fall apart and when I worry about how I’m going to put myself back together I remind myself that I have a 100% success rate thus far.

day 16

Day 16 – Getting up with the sun and moving to the rhythm of your soul is a truly beautiful thing to do for yourself. I love the stillness and silence of the early morning. There’s a special kind of magic about it. Starting my day with yoga sets the mood for my day; to move through each moment with intention, focus and ease. Whatever the day brings I’m grateful for the magical beginning I gave myself.

day 17

Day 17 – Post yoga bubble bath with a little lavender oil, some delicious chocolate and a magical tea. I’m simply floating in my own little bliss bubble tonight. Taking some time out to disconnect in order to reconnect.

day 18

Day 18 – Getting help. I have no problem getting professional help when I get physically sick but I’ve been really surprised about how uncomfortable I’ve felt getting professional help to work through everything that’s in my mind lately. I’ve been tormented by all the terrible things I saw in my dad’s last few days of life and still not know how my dad died has been getting harder not easier to live with, it leaves me questioning everything that happened in the lead up to this passing. I’m only now coming to recognise that what I experienced was truma and today after a week of agonising about getting help I’m finally getting myself the help I need.

day 19

Day 19 – Cleaning up and decluttering. How I keep my space is often a reflection of how I’m doing. When my space gets messy my head tends to go the same way or maybe it’s when my head gets messy I let my space get crazy, either way I always feel so much better when I take the time to clean up and declutter a bit. When I’m feeling average cleaning up is usually the last thing I care about but over time I’ve come to appreciate just how much living in a mess affects my head space. It’s a small thing that brings me a lot of calm and peace of mind. Today this messy little human got sorted.

day 20Day 20 – Discerning what I need. We all face times where we need to choose between what we want and what we need. And then there are those times that want we need isn’t obvious until the universe jumps in and smacks us in the face. In my yoga practice I almost always want a strong yang class; I love being pushed to my edge and working really hard. It wasn’t until a class this week where I pulled up extremely sore that I realised just how much I demand from myself in my practice. It’s a true reflection of how I treat myself off the mat; always expecting myself to give and be more than is reasonable. Over the last two days I’ve sort out classes that encourage me to slow down, land whole heartedly in poses and bring kindness into my practice. I observe every day how people’s behavior on their mat translates into how they live their lives but only today did I really appreciate my own way of being. Without beating up on myself I simply offer myself a new way and embrace the things I need.

day 21

Day 21 – Making time for a little fun and a bucket load of laughs. When did you last make time for fun. It’s easy to lose that child like sense of joy, freedom and enthusiasm. It’s easy to make excuses about being too busy for such nonsense but when you think you don’t have the time that’s usually when you need fun the most. This dose of silly fun was well overdue.

day 22

Day 22 – Post float bliss. Feeling all sorts of wonderful after 1 hour of floating in the aptly named dream tank at Elevation Floatation. With no external stimuli and the buoyant magic of epsom salt you drift into your parasympathetic nervous system lowering your production of adrenaline and cortisol. Taking an hour out of my day to let all the background noise fade away and just be at ease has been the perfect medicine.

day 23

Day 23 – Sometimes you just need to get right out of town and create your own adventure. Taking myself on a little road trip up the coast just because I can. I’m super excited to retrace a trip I took maybe times as I child and have not been on for over 20 years. Today I’m taking myself where my soul wants to go 👣

day 24

Day 24 – Staying active. Morning walks on the beach are such a treat for me, living far away from the sea I relish in the opportunity to stroll by the crashing waves. There is so much research showing that not getting enough exercise is detrimental to our physical and mental health. Our bodies are designed to move, in fact they love to move and sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the style of movement that resonates with you the most. Whether you run, walk, swim, do yoga, hit the gym, play a team sport or do your own awesome form of movement it’s important that it’s a regular thing. There should never be not enough time for your health. Love your body and live well.

day 25

Day 25 – Shinrin-Yoku is a Japanese term that means taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing. It’s an amazing form of therapy to wander around in nature and really take it in. So simple yet so calming and rejuvenating.
You know what they say the best things in life are free 😉🌳

day 26

Day 26 – Making time for something that I love. Wandering around the Paddington Markets. I love nothing more than aimlessly wondering around a market looking at anything and everything.

day 27

Day 27 – Being real about how I feel and what I want. I often shy away from communicating how I really feel and what I want but today I’m keeping it real.

day 28

Day 28 – Leaning on my besties shoulder. Because we all need somebody to lean on and I couldn’t do it without all the amazing people in my life who hold the space for me and are always there to see me through to sunny days. To all the amazing people who’ve done big and small things to support me thank you from the bottom of my heart.

day 29

Day 29 – what a way to welcome in spring with a morning run along and a whole new look with my new short hair! Spring is the season for change and new growth. We often make ourselves suffer by wishing for realities other than our own or being unwilling to accept change. I cut my crazy long hair for two reasons one because I’d been thing about it for ages and decided that I shouldn’t waste anymore time worrying about missing my long hair and two because every time I see myself in the mirror I am reminded that my life doesn’t look the same anymore but the new normal can still be wonderful just different. Take risks, make changes, do the things you’ve always wanted to do because life won’t wait for you to be ready. In fact I think you never really are ready!

day 30
Day 30 – Simple yet powerful words from the amazing Emeli Paulo from collective potential. Give yourself permission to be who you are and to go after your dreams! Yes that’s right give yourself permission to let go of all the things that hold you back from being real! Say it out load! I’m aloud! How often do you tell yourself no, hold back from expressing your true feelings because of fear or make choices based on other people’s expectations! Today as a look back over my 30 days I know the kindest thing I can do for myself is to simply own who I am and give myself permission to live from my heart.

I’m aloud to be messy and complicated, I’m aloud to be uncertain and lost, I’m aloud to cry uncontrollably, I’m aloud to need help, I’m aloud to excel and shine, I’m aloud to be different and unconventional, I’m aloud to speak my truth, I’m aloud to put my needs first and I’m aloud to take my time

The grief journey

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As I made the long trip up the coast to Merimbula I was struck by how my journey on this road trip reminded me of my journey through grief. When I set off I did what I usually do and quickly looked over the map of where I was going, it all looked pretty straight forward, I took note of the main towns I’d be passing through and then I set off on my way.

As I got about two hours into my trip I realised that I was in a town that I wasn’t supposed to be. I pulled over and took another look at the map and sure enough I was in the wrong place.  On the map it had looked like a straight route but in reality what looked like the continuation of a road was actually a turn off. By missing my turn off I accidently ended up in a town that my dad used to call on for work so I decided to make the most of my mistake and stop and get food where I knew he used to go. From there I restudied the map and realised that I could keep going on the current road and would link back up with the road I was supposed be on.

Missing that first turn had simply taken me on a surprisingly nice detour but now I was back on track and I knew that there was one more major turn off that I didn’t want to miss before stopping for lunch. After another forty five minutes of driving I started to wonder if maybe had missed the next turn off and then I see a sign and yup I’m in another town that I’m not supposed to be in. This time I was seriously not impressed with myself. My first response was WTF Clare are you kidding. How did you miss this one and with that I finally turned on my sat nav. Yeah that’s right I had one the whole time, I figured I’d be right driving streets I’d never driver before because I usually can just glance at maps and know where I’m going.

What has this story got to do with grief? Well first I want to quickly discuss the stages of grief. I’d always figured that there was a stage of  denial but I hadn’t ever really through about the rest until an amazing friend suggested I read Grief on Grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss. I highly recommend this book to anyone  who is feeling lost in their grief or wants to better understand a friend who is grieving. The five stages that this amazing book talks about are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The book explains that there is no prescribed order for experiencing the stages and that not everyone will experience them all. For me being introduced to these stages really normalised where my head was taking me and I began to think of the stages as places I visit. 

So coming back to my road trip this is how I began to see it. The journey is life and the towns that I didn’t mean to end up in are the stages of grief, quite often you don’t realise that you’re heading for a particular stage it simply blindsides you like missing a turn. You don’t really know how you came to be in a particular place you just find yourself there. Sometimes you find yourself in a stage of grief and it actually sits well with you, it’s what you know you need or at least your ok with it, like my first unplanned town but other times it’s a really unwelcome stage it doesn’t sit well with you and you can get really upset that you find yourself there.

When you find yourself in these different stages of grief there are different ways to be respond just like getting lost. You can pull a u-turn straight away and head back the way you came refusing to pass through this new town, you can pull over and become overwhelmed with this new place and perhaps needing to stay the night, or maybe you get out your map and realise that if you keep driving down the road you can pass through this town and get back to the main journey.

There’s absolutely no right or wrong way to manage getting lost; if you need to turn around then turn around, if you need to stay and sit in a particular place go for it, if you want to slowly move through you should and if you revisit a particular place over and over again that’s fine. Your journey doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s, it should only ever be what you need it to be but know that you can always turn on your sat nav for guidance. Professional help can make unfamiliar roads a lot less daunting.

To all those that have lost people dear to them I send you love and blessings for a brighter tomorrow.

xx

Self Love Letter

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How would you define love?

Does that definition apply to the way you feel about yourself?

Last night in the yoga class I taught I read When I began to love myself by Charlie Chaplin in savasana. If you’ve never read it before do yourself a favour and click on the link. As I read through the lines, I was reminded of just how powerful self love is. I truly believe that it can change the lenses that you see life through. With that in mind I wanted to write myself a love letter to remind myself just how wonderful I am in my own eyes. It’s pretty nerve racking and kind of uncomfortable to praise yourself in a big way but I’ve committed myself to no half baked love letters so here goes nothing.

To my darling beautiful Clare,

I want you to know how insanely proud of you I am. I have seen you grow and flourish so much over the past few years. What I admire about you most is your ability to forgive yourself with kindness for the mistakes and blunders of the past and from that place of kindness you have been able to take in and learn so vey much.

It hasn’t always been easy and I know that you have faced some very dark times but watching you emerge from each period of darkness has been specular. The light and ease with which you move through life is testament to the battles you have fought and the darkness you have known.

I often marvel at the way you dream so big. You’ve never been one to timidly step through life, you’ve always bounded in to ideas with a full open heart. I love your ability to see everything as an adventure. That sense of adventure had allowed you to do so many big things in your life without ever thinking twice; trekking mountains, volunteering in foreign countries, running marathons, jumping out of planes, floating in hot air balloons and completely changing your career in your late 20’s. You are an inspiration and your love of life in infectious.

I know that sometimes you don’t see the beauty in your face, the kindness in your eyes, the magic in your smile or the brilliance of your body but please know that you are more wonderful than you could ever imagine.

While there’s still so much to be learnt in your amazing journey know that where you are right here and now is phenomenal. You have come such a long way and made so many brave constructive changes in your life so again please know just how proud you I am.

Keep smiling, keep laughing, keep lighting up the world with your beautiful soul.

I love you forever and always.

Clare

xx

30 Days of Kindness

Last night I went to an amazing workshop on authenticity run by the simply brilliant Emeli Paulo from Collective Potential. If you’ve never heard of Collective Potential do yourself a favour and check them out. At the start of the workshop we were asked to turn to a stranger and tell them what brought us to the workshop. For me I had started to feel like the authenticity that I had once lived my life with was beginning to fade and I wanted to turn that around.

I have to admit I was kind of expecting to be lectured about what authenticity is and given steps to living an authentic life. I was so glad that it was nothing like that. It was super interactive and required everyone to talk about their truth; to share their values, their fears, their dreams, their story. It was simply stunning to see how contagious bravery can be. One person gets up and says or does something inspiring and next thing you know some on the other side of the room has something to contribute too.

The most magical part of the night for me came near the end when I found my truth in someone else’s story. A lady was sharing with the group that she felt like she needed to let go of grief for the loss of her mother. As she spoke I realised how much I had not let myself grieve for the loss of my father. It had been a month since I’d lost my father unexpectedly and I could count on one hand the amount of times I’ve let myself really cry. For decades to me strong has meant putting on a brave face and getting on with things. It has only been in the last year or so that I’ve begun to see the strength in vulnerability. Not giving myself the time and space to sit with my pain and feel what I need to feel was a big part of why I felt like I wasn’t living a very authentic life.

An idea that really resonated with me about authenticity is that it is about being real not perfect. So how do I get myself to be more real…I knew the answer before I even asked the question. I knew I needed to be kinder to myself, I knew needed to stop expecting so much from myself and I knew I needed to nurture the most important relationship I have, the one I have with myself.

At the end of the workshop we were asked to set ourselves a challenge for the next 30 days. It was to be something that we could do each day that would allow us to become more authentic.  Straight away I knew that I wanted to set myself a 30 day kindness challenge. To each day do one kind thing for myself.

I’m starting today by putting an affirmation on the mirror that I stand in front of each day when I brush my teeth.

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You can follow my 30 days of kindness on my instagram @ckve and use the hash tag #30daysofkindness to share your own little bits of kindness that you give yourself. At the end of my 30 days I’ll post a list of the things that I do for myself.

Love and Blessings

xx

Bone Broth Magic

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Bone broth is my go to drink whenever I feel like a need a warm hug from my food and a little extra nourishment. It’s a delicious nutrient dense drink that’s also easy to make. Before I run you through just how easy it is to make your own brew of goodness here’s a few of the benefits of this amazing prehistoric drink.

  • Helps promote good gut health. Lets talk about your gut for a second, because gut health is something that I’m super passionate about. The lining of your intestine is selectively permeable to allow nutrients to pass through and be absorbed into the body. This lining can become too permeable due to lifestyle factors such as consumption of highly processed foods, stress, some medications and pesticides ingested from fruit and veg. When the lining becomes too permeable undigested food particles can pass through the gut lining and directly into the bloodstream. This situation really puts a lot of unnecessary stress on the body, just think of your poor liver having to deal with all this foreign matter. The glutamine in bone broth can help repair a hyperpermeable intestinal wall.
  • Reduces joint pain and inflammation. Bone broth is loaded with glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). These GAGs include glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. They have the ability to stimulate the growth of new collagen aiding in the repair of damaged joints and leading to a possible reduction in pain and inflammation. Bone broth is very high in the anti-inflammatory amino acids glycine and proline
  • Give your hair, skin and nails some loving from the inside. The collagen and gelatin in bone broth helps build healthy hair, skin and nails.
  • Magic minerals a plenty. The minerals in bone broths include calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium. They are critical for many bodily functions and impact everything from our bones to our mood and our joint health.

As the name suggests bone broth is made from bones. I trend to always use chicken, but you can certainly change that up. Try and find an organic chook who’s had a happy life. I’m not much of a recipe follower myself but below are some guidelines on what you might like to put into your broth.

All you really need to know is that you are combining bones with some meat still attached, vegetables spices and herbs to add flavour, apple cider vinegar (helps to leach more minerals out of the bones) and enough water to cover your bones and some then simmer for 24 and 48 hours easy peasy.

If you’ve like a bit more elaboration around vegies, spices and herbs I tend to use the following:

  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Bay Leaves
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Whole Peppercorns

But you can really just go with whatever your heart desires.

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Happy Brewing!

Are you living a life that you are proud of?

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“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” –   F. Scott Fitzgerald
How often do you take the time to check in with yourself and the path you’re on? When your time comes how will you look back on your life? Will you have many regrets?

In 2009 Australian palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware wrote a blog post called regrets of the dying. In this post she listed the top 5 regrets people under her care had voiced in their last weeks of life.

I’d like to share these reasons with you now because I think we can all take something away from them.

Take a moment now to read through them slowly. Let each one sit with you.

  •  I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  • I wish I didn’t work so hard
  •  I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
  •  I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
  • I wish that I had let myself be happier

If you read any of these points and know that you would feel the same way then today is a great day for you my friend!

If you can acknowledge that you are currently spending your time in a way that you will later regret you now have a choice. Now that you know there is the possibility that you can make a change.

You may say to me that yes I work hard but I have to , I can’t change that I need to work this hard to survive. Firstly know that your immediate response to get defensive about any of these points is your ego saying this is who I am and I will not be changed or challenged. The things we do everyday, our behaviours and our way of being make up our identity and it can be crazy hard to challenge that. But if your first response was a defensive stance from your mind I invite you to challenge that view point ask yourself if that is really true and explore what your life could like if you did change. When something is unknown, there exists infinite possibly. Get excited about who you could be without the story you’re telling yourself.

Changing your life and setting new priorities for yourself is not a walk in the park.  It can become battle ground in your own head with your ego fighting to keep things the same not liking that you may perhaps be moving closer to connecting with your true self. It can also become a battle ground with the people closest to you who have formed an idea of who you are and do not like the change that ripples into their lives when you change. Change takes courage and commitment but as things begin to settle and fall into place other people begin to appreciate your choices.

Give yourself permission to live a life that you are proud of because you deserve the best life has to offer!

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