#lifelessons101 –  Life without play is just existing (And why I like to play with wands… Expelliarmus!!) (2 min read)

This weekend I will be donning my purple wig, grabbing my leather jacket, putting on my battered old army boots and heading on the yearly Odense Harry Potter Festival. That’s right I am going to be playing Tonks and Mr T will be Lupin, complete with scar on face and a stick on moustache ( which I know he will be complaining that it itches within 30 seconds of the glue being dry! That’s just his way of having fun).

So why, I hear you ask, is  38 year old women going to spend her entire weekend roleplaying in a fantasy world? The simple answer is because I can! And why not? As kids we have our fantasy button turned on constantly. A stick becomes a wand, a laser gun or lightsaber- do you remember that feeling of it being so real to you? I do. And I am so glad I do. So what happened to us  between then and now? Who turned off that switch? Well I am sorry to say you did. Society judges adults that like to play. Less and less I am happy to say, but unfortunately there is still judging dogma around it. Apparently it’s not mature to play lightsabers, it is not socially acceptable for adults to play. (Unless its Bridge playing Bridge is socially acceptable). The big problem is you believed them. And the more you believed them, the more difficult it was to turn on that fantasy switch until one day you couldn’t  find it again. And even worse because you believed them, you even begin to judge the adults that happily still play on the swings.

If you have found yourself in this situation it is the universe trying to poke  you with a giant stick. At this point my friends, you need the lesson from one of life’s wisest creatures. The baby.  Babies are humans in their most raw form. Happiness in a baby is a beautiful thing. Life to a baby is a beautiful thing. Babies are great they eat, poop, cry and sleep when and where they want to. And when they are not doing the above they are observing and laughing. Babies aren’t afraid to try something new. “Hey who knows what will happen if I put my foot in my mouth, it might taste good.” They don’t care if someone tells them a game is stupid. If it is fun they are going to do it anyway.

And so should we. We have, as far as we know, one life on this planet. One beautiful life to live to the fullest. And you are going to stop doing something you love just because you are apparently too mature. Surely this is the definition of insanity! Get out there! Go play, laugh , dance and feel joy! To forget to play is to forget to live, without it we just exist. Play makes the memories more beautiful and laughter come right up from the belly.

So go out this weekend and find your inner you and do something fun. Something your younger self would have enjoyed. No one knows when the day might be your last, wouldn’t you rather that in that day you had laughed, danced and had moments of pure joy. I know I would. So have a blast this weekend doing exactly what it is that makes you happy. For me that is going to be running around with wand in hand all weekend challenging other equally happy folks to a magical duel.

Have a wonderful playful weekend!

Expelliarmus!!

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(P.s Please note this article is written to those who have forgotten to play. I know there of many of you still out there that love childish play and to you I hope one day I mee you on the swings, *cos I know I can swing higher than you can 😛 !!)

Do you have life work balance? Time for a life MOT – 9 things you can do to rebalance your life (5 min read)

I love my life, I really do. It feels near perfect,  except for one thing. I don’t always have time to do some of the things I want to do. And I don’t think I am alone in this. Infact when I come to think of it many of my friends feel the same. Actually I don’t think I have ever met anyone who does actually feel that they have enough time in their lives. There’s not enough hours in the day has become an everyday phrase in modern life. The feeling creates frustration. Frustration can cause stress. And at that point you know absolutely that your work and life is not in balance.

However it doesn’t have to be this way,  it really doesn’t. If you want to create a better work life balance,iI you feel that your life is out of sync al it takes is a little work. (I know ironic but true). In order to balance your life it’s time to take charge and give yourself an overhaul. A life M.O.T.

What does work life balance mean to you?

Well what does it mean. The phrase conjours up a picture of bliss for us all. However my bliss is not the same as your bliss. Life work balance means differnet things to different people. Which means you have to define it for you. So get back to the drawing board. In the center of a piece of paper draw you. (Yes a stick figure is perfectly ok). Around you write all of the things you have in your life. Not just the big things like my job, my family, but the smaller things like walking the dog, doing the washing up, cleaning the house. Next to each word or phrase in brackets write how often you do this thing.

The wish list

Often when we do finally get the time to do those things we want to our mind draws a blank on what to do. So you need to know what is it actually you want to do that you are not doing right now? If you had all the time in the world what would you do? Make a wish list. Things you are doing in your life right now can also be included.  And prioritise them with A (I really want to do this or enjoy doing this) to D (it would be nice sometimes)

Compare the two

So how do your wishes relate to your current life? Look at the A wishes. Are they even in your life right now? From these two exercises you now will have a clear idea of how your lifw is and how you want it to be.

Time efficiency.

Part of having more time means using our time efficiently. And no I am not talking about time management in its traditional sense (even though it’s a valid option and really does help). I am talking about using your energy at the right time. It might be that you are trying to do things at a time of day that just doesn’t work for you. For example after breakfast is not the time for me to try and write. I need 30 mins at least for my insulin to kick in. So instead of writing I can clean. Make an energy diary for a week and see where you struggle with tasks, where you don’t.  After week you will already see some patterns of behaviour. You will notice where you have energy, where you don’t and what you can do best at these times.

Begin to change your habits to fit your energy instead of forcing yourself to do things for you when you can’t.  So for example if you find it easier to answer work emails after lunch do that, reschedule your work day, if cleaning during the week is taking energy rather than giving do it on the weekend. It’s your life you control it. (And don’t worry about your boss questioning your actions. When you explain this will make you more efficient, Boss’s love efficiency 😉  )

Cut down on time wasters

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters on the planet. No I am not against it. I love Facebook. I can keep in touch with my friends from home. And I used to use hours and hours on it. It’s one of the best ever procrastination allies. So now I keep my facebook usage down to a minimum and at points in the day where I have to wait (for example at the train station). Now I suddenly have more time and less of a headache from looking at a screen! So cut down on the small things you do that waste your time. It can be easier to change your habits than you think so next time you reach for the phone ask yourself if you have checked your facebook in the last hour. Unless you are waiting for an important message put that phone back in your pocket for another hour.

Can you make your life easier?

Have a look at your energy levels and the things you do every week. Can you make this easier on yourself? For example do you need to wash up every day or can you do it every other day? Can you make larger portions of a meal and the reheat it on days where you will be busier or just days when you want to rest? When you look at it a lot of the things we think we need to do all the time are not actually necessary all of the time. And sometimes we use these things as an excuse as they are actually easier to do than the thing we say we want to do. If that’s the case then investigate the blockage. 

Make time for the things that are important

I know, I know this is tough – but do you want to whine about not having time or do you want to have a better quality of life? I recommend starting small. At first I gave my self the deadline of being finished with work be it house, school or writing by giving myself the 8pm deadline ( iget up stupidly early so bedtime is usually 9:30pm, gods that makes me feel old!) After 8pm it’s me time. Once I had been doing this for a while I asked Mr T if we could make a date night once a week. Now every friday is date night. We actually rarely go out on date night, its just time for us to be together no distractions.

Give yourself a break

I have a friend who showed me her month calendar and each weekend is booked up for the next month. Full time study, one small child and no breaks, sounds like a recipe to a melt down to me. I suggested trying the weekend on, weekend off system. One weekend be social. One weekend stay home. Personally more and more I enjoy the weekends at home (well at least once the house cleaning is done!) Weekend on weekend off gives you a chance to recharge the batteries. Try it for a month and see how rested you begin to feel.

Learn to say No

It’s ok to say no. Trust me it is. When you take on things you don’t have the energy for you wear yourself down. Before you say yes, consider your energy levels, your upcoming week. There is no point in saying yes if you can’t actually give a full energetic commitment.

It has been said (repeatedly) that in order to have a perfect work life balance you need to love your work and therefore your life will be balanced. (And at some point in the future there will be an article about creating the work you love).  Of course this is  partly true. However as I have found when you love what you do it can still take a lot of your time from your personal life, if you don’t keep an eye on it.  So put a little time to good use this week. Give yourself an MOT and you’ll see that by using this time to investigate your life it will give you a lot more time in the future.

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#lifelesson101 – Facing fear after a failure (2 min read)

It’s hard to face a fear. Especially a fear that comes from a failure. And this week I have had my fair share of that. A project I have worked on for a year looks like its not going to happen. A big blow, to both my dreams and my confidence. It happens to the best of us. But when it happens there is only one way to go, forward. But how? When we fail along comes fear and it tells us that we can’t do whatever it is we are trying to do. However really  fear is just our bodies way of telling us we are crossing a comfort zone. Fears arising mean we are challenging ourselves and challenge means growth. But how to overcome those fears?

I know it seems daunting. However it is not impossible. No matter how difficult it is to fail there is always a way back up again. And that way up will make you stronger. No matter how big the fear you can overcome it.

This week I have (and still am) being tested hard. And I have two choices. Listen to my fear and give up. Or carry on in spite of the fears I have. Of course I am going to carry on. And this is how I am doing it.

Release and reach out

At first when a failure or disappointment hits it feels like crap. At this moment it’s ok not to fight. It’s okay to be upset, so be upset. I cried for a whole night. I reached out to the two people in the world I knew could help me Mr T and another man that I truly admire. Between them they comforted me and made me remember that I can create my dreams, even when it feels like I can’t. So call on the people you need to help you when you hit your low. Cry it out and release your frustrations (ofc not on others, that never helps anything). Believe me afterwards you will feel better.

Look for the teaching

Accept the failure and look for the teaching. Everything in life teaches us something, whether we want to learn it or not. Be conscious of this and look at the situation objectively. Why did this happen? Why did you create it? And what is the teaching that life is sending you?

How can you move forward?

Once you have identified the teaching how can you move forward? This failure has opened up other opportunities for you. What are they and how can you embrace them?  Allow what you have learnt to guide you. Once you calm down and move out of the drama of your failure the way forward will become clear.

Identify the fears

Unfortunately (unless you are some kind of superhero or guru) when you have worked out how to move forward the fears will come. Recognise them. Fears are just an idea. They are not real. Unless you make them real by believing in them. Identify what is it you are really afraid of. When you rationalise a fear it is less scary. It becomes tangible and more importantly it becomes something that it is possible to overcome.

Face the fear

When we face our fears they do become less scary. It just takes that first step. Whether it’s a conversation you need to have, or a resignation you have to hand in, the first step will be the hardest. However with every step you take it will get easier. The double bonus with this is that when you have faced your fear you get not only a sense of pride, you  also get a sense of freedom.

Remind yourself it’s ok to struggle

As I sat crying on our porch under the stars earlier this week, I began to talk to me 6 months from now. I asked myself to remember that moment. To remember it so that I will be able to celebrate the journey I will have taken and enjoy my success even more, because I survived what I was feeling then. Even though at that precise moment I wasn’t sure I will succeed it reminded me and reassured me that things will get better. So remind yourself that it’s ok to struggle. Struggle just makes success sweeter.

Trust

Ok this is challenging. And sometimes you have to just trust. The universe knows what it’s doing much better than you do. Remind yourself that the universe is conspiring to lead you along the right path. Be grateful for that.  Tell yourself that this will work out somehow. You might not be able to see it, however it will work out. No matter how bad things seem they will eventually get better. Trust in that. Summon every bit of strength you have and keep moving forward.

Fear is not real, it is not an expert and it is not a truth. The absence of fear is not what bravery is. Bravery is having a fear and doing it anyway. When my Mum got divorced, it was scary for her, a whole new life. The day it came through I sent her a bouquet with the note

“The only way is up and left a bit”

And it is.

Move forward.

Hold yourself tall and move with the flow of events life sends at you.

Failure is just a block in one direction. You can take so many other paths. Fear is just a brainfog trying to stop you from trying something new and expanding your comfort zone. It’s not real so don’t let it become real.
Surf the waves, learn the lessons and see the new possibilities and everything will be alright in the end, because you are brave enough and strong enought to face whatever it is that life sends you <3

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#Lifelesson101 – Surrender to your body’s needs

This week has been a surreal one. For the first part of the week I was feeling on top of the world, I could achieve anything. But in truth that was just camouflage. In my buoyancy, I was not truthfully listening to my body and brain’s signals. Overly multitasking, suppressing the fear of my coming exam (on a subject I started last week and in foreign no less). The signals were there. Not wanting to see people, snappy and reacting not responding  and then a night’s sleep where I kept waking up and thinking about the essay I needed to write for the exam. Needless to say my body had to go to the extreme and last night I totally broke down.

Pounding headache, crying and feeling very small. I decided to drop my training and go home. Even then I was thinking “I can use this evening to write the essay”. No. Luckily my body won and I spent the evening under a duvet watching a feel good film, eating comforting food and falling to sleep straight away. Now 9 and half hours sleep later I feel somewhat better.

The pressure is still there but less overwhelming and daunting.

So what happened? I simply forgot to check in internally. Checking in with our body is really important. We  either need to listen to it’s signals before it goes into crisis or allow ourselves to surrender when we go into crisis. I know that sounds strange however crisis can often be the bodies way of physically releasing stress, so let it do that, you will feel better.

Surrendering is not easy. I know. I am a constantly on the go person. I use every minute of my day as effectively as possibly . (Even now I am on my way to uni and I am writing this.) But when you need to slow down there are a few things you can do to make it feel better and get yourself and your energy levels back up again.

Cut out anything that doesn’t relate to your survival needs.

In Maslow’s triangle of need the bottom rung of our basic needs (our lizard needs if you like) are  food, sleep, toilet, homeostasis, water and sex. If it doesn’t fall into this category then don’t do it.

Check in with your body

In order to listen to your body you need to check in first. A great way of doing this is to put three fingers on your breast bone, press down slightly and breath deeply into your finger. Feel the bits of your body in discord and ask yourself what is blocking my happiness right now? What does my body need. If you know the cause it’s easier to find the answer.

Listen to what your body wants to do

If your body wants to sleep, sleep. Whatever it wants to eat, eat. When we check in with our bodies it tells us what it needs. Mine needed fat, protein and salt so that’s what it got. Not the usual healthy advice but it works. For a short time.

Avoid stimulants

Coffee, wine (insert alcohol of choice and tea are out the window. Drink water (or squash). Keep hydrated so your brain so it stays fresher and is able to work at it’s optimal level.

Rest

However you can rest. To quote desiderata “ many fears are born of fatigue” Give your body and soul a chance to recover.

No guilt

Okay so you may have deadlines, people to keep in contact with but if this is taking energy from you when you are already stretched to the max, then it’s a no go. You might feel guilty about taking this time for you. Don’t. You need it and will be able to give your best if you take time out. It’s okay to surrender.

Ask for help

Tell people close to you what is going on and ask for help, physical or advice. It might be can you take cooking the dinner for the next few days or what do you think is stressing me. People who love us like to help and we know we will also do the same for them if they need it.

Come out of surrender slowly

Don’t expect to rest one day and then be 100% optimal the next. Surrendering to your needs, your stress factors and recovering takes time. At the same time don’t wallow. Staying bed for a week sounds great sometimes but it can be your brain taking over rather than your body. Check in with your body each day and work out what you can do, what is important to do and slowly recover to your normal state. It’s better to take it slow than to create an even bigger issue.

Surrendering when we need to and checking in brings us closer to understanding our mechanical body needs. Surrendering is actually making a conscious choice and living life mindfully.

Have a lovely weekend and please rest if you need to <3

 

P. If you need me this weekend I’ll be  in a pillow fort, eating pancakes covered in duvets, watching films with Mr T!  

 

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