Theme vs. resolution – what’s yours for 2017?

Yesterday my good friends over at Kale and Co. posted a comment on social media that echoed my thoughts to a tee.

“January was a trial run. Let’s DO this February”

For me, with three kids, January is all about school holidays and the beach. No writing, a small amount of work and this year, watching the Gilmore Girls from scratch. I know, but hey.

January, for so many of us, is a time that we reflect on the year that just flew past and make plans, resolutions and goals for the next one. The thing is, I don’t do resolutions. This is simply because I don’t want to make promises to myself that maybe I won’t keep and then feel disappointed in my lack of potential achievement.

Does this sound remotely familiar to you at all?

It is all too easy to jump on the New Year Resolution bandwagon. Everyone around you leaps on as soon as the clock ticks New Year. If that is you and the bandwagon is still moving, well done. But if not, there is another way.

Although resolutions don’t appeal to me, I do like to have a theme for my year to guide me in choosing a direction or pathway each day, week and month. This year I have chosen theme x 3, but you might like to stick to one of your own or many – just remember not to overload your dance card, which does make the doing a little harder.

Theme 1: Accept the things you cannot change

I have come to realise that I invest a crazy amount of energy worrying about or trying to change situations, people, personalities and relationships that I simply cannot, no matter how hard I try. Have you noticed how much this can greatly affect your physical and mental health and wellbeing if you let it? For the past month, I have applied this thought to so many things and the instant relief of letting them go has been enormous.
Of course, these are never one off thoughts, situations or people never to be seen again and there have been days when ‘Accept the things you cannot change’ has been on constant repeat in my brain but it really works. This is not at all about giving up or giving in but it is about acknowledging what you actually have control of. Or not.

The insightful Mahatma Gandhi looks at this another way, which puts the power back in your court.

“Be the change you want to see in the world”

Theme 2: Make it Happen

How often have you promised yourself that you are going to do something or catch up with someone or had a dream that has never seen the light of day?

In our current world of busyness and overload, it is easy to see why this happens but the question is, how can we actually make these things happen

Once upon a time, I used to donate blood and it has been my intention ever since to do it again. Soon. So, when I finally rang in January to make an appointment, it was a shock to be told that 15 years had passed since my last donation. Wow. I know how vitally important giving blood is to our community and yet I hadn’t made it happen. Whilst enjoying my little slice of fruit cake and packet of chips in the tea-room post vampire session, I realised that the simple solution for me to donate regularly, is to make my appointments in advance. Lightbulb moment that took me 15 years to arrive at.

For you this might be choosing healthy food or putting together an exercise plan or getting more sleep – what are the barriers to you actually implementing a behaviour and how can you make it happen?

Theme 3: Give Back

I like to think that I am a community minded person. I give my love and support to my friends and family, I am passionate about my work helping others (that includes you!) and as a family we financially support charities whenever we are able. Yet, it is is so easy to unthinkingly be centred on ‘me’ and I know there are other ways I can incorporate ‘giving’ into my everyday life.

Being charitable and helping others does not have to be a financial donation. Lets face it, in tough financial times, many people find it hard enough to support their own families. Nonetheless, being kind to others can be as simple as passing on a parking ticket that is still active, cooking a meal for someone who can’t do it themselves, brightening up someone’s day by giving them a heartfelt compliment or spending 5 minutes talking to your elderly neighbour who lives alone, instead of giving them a quick wave before rushing inside as soon as you turn into the driveway.

Giving actually makes us feel good because we get what researchers call a ‘helpers high’ and studies show that kinder people actually live longer, healthier lives.

These are my themes for 2017 – what are you working on?

Speed Bump Ahead

speed bump

A couple of weeks ago, a small disaster affected the functioning of my business. My website literally disappeared into the clouds (sadly not the ones that store stuff) as a result of a fatally corrupted server.

For about five days, while I anxiously waited to hear if the back-up had been successful, I contemplated the loss of a huge amount of my intellectual property over the past 8-10 years. All my blogs, newsletters, recipes and other valuable content were housed there plus the fact that like most businesses, my website is how my clients find me and pretty darn crucial.

Thankfully, the back-up worked a dream and put me back on the internet map. Yet, due to some of the security settings going a bit wonky in the process, this much-awaited restoration brought some unwelcome passengers with it. I had a flood of spam emails, which were super annoying with the exception of one that stopped me in my tracks. It was from ‘Miranda’ in China and it went exactly like this.

Dear Sir,

This is Miranda from china.

Glad to know your company has the intent on purchasing speed bumps. I wonder whether we could cooperate.

If u need more infos, please contact me directly, high quality will be served.

Best regards

Miranda

The only reason I looked at this email at all was because the subject heading ‘Do you want to buy Speed Bumps?’ had me intrigued. The concept of being able to purchase entire speed bumps and the logistics of this sent me into fits of laughter let alone the thought of buying any. But you know what? I had hit my own speed bump when my website bit the dust.

The speed bumps that we experience in our day-to-day lives can obviously be a lot more serious than losing a website. It could be big problems with your family, friends, life threatening health issues, financial concerns, job insecurity, moving house, relationship breakdowns or any one of life’s stressful events. All of these and more represent speed bumps from small to monstrous. Quite often though, speed bumps in our lives are just what we need to take the first step toward real change for our physical and mental well-being. Just like the ones we drive over every day, we need to acknowledge the speed bumps in life, take a breath and slow down. It’s the perfect opportunity to take your foot off the pedal, regroup and alter the path of our well-being.

The Three Lessons Yoga Taught Me Today

Julie Yoga Until last year, yoga and I have struggled to be friends. At times, our relationship has been downright dysfunctional and we have had a long history of emotions running hot and cold, predominantly cold. I loved the idea of yoga but the actual reality of being able to do it, did not align with my physical (in)capability.  And then, last year a good friend introduced me to Mia, a highly experienced yoga teacher and my dysfunctional relationship became one of peace, calm and acceptance of what my body could do, not what it couldn’t. This morning as I was moving through the poses, I realised that I have learnt three life lessons through my yoga adventures, applicable to anybody trying to change any aspect of their health and life:

1. What we want or need is not always available to us – I will never forget a yoga class that I attended some time ago when the teacher asked us to align ourselves into a position that looked even trickier than usual to me.

While we were all silently attempting the impossible (to me), the teacher announced that this particular pose was ‘not available to him today.’ I had to smother hysterical laughter at this point because for me, it was never going to be available, that day or any other. But you know what? We all have days when a particular behaviour, skill or practise is simply not available to us and sometimes we just need to accept it.  This doesn’t mean you have failed, it just means that investing your energy in something else that IS available to you and achievable today is a wiser choice. Plus, what is not available to you today might just be there for you tomorrow.

2. There is always turbulence in our lives – this morning while I was stretching my limbs, a howling easterly wind was roaring around outside scattering dust and leaves every which way.

I could see and hear this happening outside my yoga class but despite the possible distraction of this turbulence, all was calm inside.  The turbulence that we experience in our day-to-day lives can obviously be a lot more serious than a strong wind. It could be problems with your family, friends, health issues, financial concerns, job insecurity, moving house, relationship breakdowns or any one of life’s stressful events. All of these and more, represent turbulence. Quite often, turbulence or a shake-up in our lives is just what we need to take the first step toward real change for our physical and mental well-being. We can also acknowledge the turbulence and do it anyway.

3. Use your edge – Not long ago I was standing in line waiting to order in a cafe and noticed an interesting quote scribbled along the front of the coffee machine.  The author was anonymous but it simply stated “If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room.”

To me, living on the edge has a negative connotation.   However, renowned Yoga Master and author Erich Schiffman, talks about ‘the edge’ in another way in relation to stretching in yoga. Erich explains that, “If you don’t go far enough, there is no challenge to the muscles, no intensity, no stretch, and little possibility for opening. Going too far, however, is an obvious violation of the body, increasing the possibility of both physical pain and injury. Somewhere between these two points is a degree of stretch that is in balance: intensity without pain, use without abuse, strenuousness without strain. You can experience this balance in every posture you do. This place in the stretch is called your edge.” But what about applying that edge to other aspects of our daily life, where we tend to remain within a familiar but limited comfort zone by staying away from both our physical and mental edges? Schiffman suggests that staying within that zone would be fine, “Except that as aging occurs these limits close in considerably. Our bodies tighten, our range of movement decreases, and our strength and stamina diminish. By consciously bringing the body and mind to its various limits or edges and holding it there, gently nudging it toward more openness with awareness, the long, slow process of closing in begins to reverse itself. The range expands as the edges change.” Moving that edge is one that I am happy to keep expanding

Namaste to Mia.