Why You Should Stop and Celebrate

I come from a family that loves to celebrate. Birthdays are a huge deal, champagne is called for when someone buys a new car, Christmas sees a tree overflowing with gifts and I always get texts from family on pertinent anniversaries.

It’s what I’m used to and I’ve always felt grateful for that being how my family operates.

Celebration is something I’ve held on to as I’ve formed my own life away from my family.

I like to make a fuss over friends’ new jobs, new babies or new anything really, and my husband will attest that I smother him in birthday fun whether he likes it or not (spoiler alert: the answer is ‘or not’)

So why should we take time to celebrate?

It differentiates your life

Although I’m sure you all try to lead rich lives, it’s natural to feel a sense of groundhog day from time to time. Another day at the office, another meal being cooked for your family, the days can just bleed into the next.

By taking time to celebrate - whether that be a dinner out, rewarding yourself with a new candle or taking a day trip away - breaks up our lives and creates stand out memories.

It feels amazing to make someone else feel special

One of my favourite reasons to celebrate is to make someone else feel great. I’m not a cruel person who forces ‘Happy Birthday’ to be sung in a restaurant to a cripplingly shy friend, but I make sure my loved ones are made to feel special through words, gifts and somehow making their life easier on important occasions.

It points out how lucky you are

Not every person in this world has the resources to celebrate in the way we do. Along with that comes the fact that not every person has friends and family to celebrate with.

When I stop and celebrate my own and others’ special occasions, it gives me a chance to pause, look around at those close to me, and remember how truly lucky I am to have the life I do.

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Do you take the time to stop and celebrate? What’s the next milestone or occasion you can start planning a celebration for now?

 

The Birthday Post: 5 Lessons Learned

Well happy birthday to me! Another year has passed and I’m following my blogging tradition of summing up the lessons I’ve learned over the last 12 months. You can read last year’s post here

Let’s do this:

1. I measured my success by how much fun I’m having.

I’m going to post more about this in the future, but as we move deeper into adulthood, do you think we have we forgotten to have fun?

Between work, fitness, mortgages, kids, are we just slogging through life? I definitely was - or more specifically I was slogging it through to Friday, then finding solace in a pizza or bottle of vino.

This past year I’ve prioritised fun and I make sure I have something enjoyable to look forward to every, single day.

Examples of this include taking myself to lunch each Monday (rather than working through my lunch break while chowing down leftovers) and taking a bath on a Wednesday evening with a good book and a margarita. Don’t judge me, I’m having a blast ;)

2. I toned down on self-improvement.

My love of podcasts goes deep and whenever I’m alone I’m listening to one. This includes during my commute, on my lunch break, at the gym and while cooking.

What I didn’t realise was the insidious nature of the content I was listening to.

Many of the podcasts I listen to are about self-improvement and productivity, and often involve interviews with people who have written books or created courses on ways to improve yourself.

I was finding myself thinking ‘ooh, I should do that/buy that book/sign up for that course’ and it was exhausting me.

Even though you think you’re improving yourself (and that's got to be a good thing right?) there’s a time and a place for just ‘being’. Prioritising relaxation during your spare time is so important.

Nowadays I turn on some great music, or listen to a more ‘story-telling’ podcast, aka This American Life: activities that I find enjoyable, but that don't drive me to try and fix myself.

3. I broke up with diets.

Holy smokes, this was a big one for me. Let me know if you’d like a more in depth post on this, but thanks to the help of Paige Schmidt, I have at last broken up with trying to change my body. As a woman this is huge, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I unfollowed all health and fitness accounts on social media, I unsubscribed from any healthy eating plans that were turning up in my inbox promising huge changes, and I now follow intuitive eating principles.

I’ve been eating as I please and doing the exercise that sounds good to me for about 8 months now and lo and behold (even though I very rarely weigh myself now) I haven’t gained any weight.

In past years, I would have been struggling with what I ate, forcing myself to do exercise I thought I 'should' be doing, and hoping I could shift the scale by at least a few kilograms. And for what?

4. I asked for help around the house.

Another big one for me. In line with the superwoman / maternal gatekeeping mentality, I was keeping it all together at home, trying to keep the house clean and working through a seemingly never-ending list of tasks around the house.

My husband has never been against splitting the cleaning, but I would either try and take it all on myself or criticise him for not doing enough / not doing it 'right'. Sound familiar?

So at last I asked for help. We drew up all the jobs that need doing and how often, and we split them 50/50. My to do list around the house is much more manageable and I can depend on my husband to do his share.

5. I focused on my relationships.

Relationships have been a big focus for me in the last year. Since using the Stop, Breathe, Think app, meditation has helped me get out of my own head and focus on the happiness of others. A la the self-improvement lesson, we can sit around pondering if we’re doing life ‘right’, or we can shift the focus outward.

When I go out to dinner with my husband, go on a walk with a girlfriend or call a family member for a long chat, I fill myself up and can focus on the bigger picture. It makes me grateful and it makes me happy.

What have you learned in the last year? Let me know in the comments below.

 

10 Lessons Learned This Year

 
bday.jpg

Happy birthday to me! Yesterday was my birthday and I thought I'd share some pretty personal deliberations from the last 12 months.

1. There's never a perfect time.

In the last 12 months, I've bought my first home and started this blog. Two big steps I was putting off until the 'time was right'. The time is right when you make it right - I'm so happy in my new home (yes, even with the extra outgoing $$ each month) and I love getting lost writing for and tinkering on the blog.

2. Wheels of brie don't solve your problems.

More broadly, I've noticed over the last year that when I'm stressed, I often turn to food. After a hard day at work, I tend to give up on my healthy dinner plans and turn to comfort foods or childhood favourites. Don't tell anyone but that includes bags of Allen's lollies, cheese, salami, cheese and more cheese. It never makes me feel any better and when I come out of the food coma, I realise that I need to deal with stress and issues by confronting them head on. Not by stuffing my feelings down with food.

3. Slow down.

Over the last few years I've tended to cram my evenings with activity - whether it's catching up with friends, exercising, cooking, tidying the house, I would rarely ever stop. My husband will attest to me not being able to sit for longer than 10 minutes before I think of something else I need to do. This year, I've made the effort to slow down and recharge in the evening. Reading a book, taking a bath, doing some yoga - these types of activities make the evening minutes stretch longer and my heart rate come down after a busy day... I particularly like the below yoga sequence from Kimberly Snyder:

4. Stop listening to that little voice that says you're not good enough.

I'm going to delve into 'imposter syndrome' in a future post, but I'm learning to ignore the negative little voice in my head more and more. The voice that taunts me with the to do list I haven't gotten to yet, or leaves me lying awake in bed stressing about what might happen at work the next day. Speaking only positive words to myself makes a huge difference and hey, if Maya Angelou had to work through it, I know it's worth my time to overcome it. 

5. Take time for yourself in the morning. 

Similar to number 3, slowing down in the morning has made a huge difference in my daily routine. I'm not brilliant in the mornings and rush through my routine with a kind of disdain for being required to get up to an alarm again. It's clearly not the best frame of mind to start each day with. Implementing 10 minutes of yoga in the morning has changed my attitude in the mornings, as has lingering for 15 minutes over breakfast - only reading a couple of news articles or blog posts, rather than trying to keep up with every social media feed first thing.

6. Lean on your girlfriends.

My closest girlfriends will agree that I have a distinctive trait. More often than not, once I've figured out the solution to whatever my current problem might be, I'll run them through the issue over a glass (let's be serious, bottle) of wine. I take them through the whole story and, usually that week or day, it's come to a head and has just been solved. They have had little idea that it's been happening and, being the great friends that they are, wish they could have helped earlier. Between me and the internal voice I mentioned in number 4, I've always felt a need to solve my own problems. More and more I'm calling on girlfriends, scheduling that wine much earlier in the piece and leaning on them for help.

7. I don't want to be a nag. And it rarely gets the result I want.

Ok, ok, I'm guilty of nagging my husband. It's no fun for anyone but sometimes I truly can't help myself. I received a newsletter from Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project last year and have hung on to her great idea for home life ever since - under-react to problems. Don't ignore them, just under-react. As Gretchen points out, sometimes the things you nag about are only as annoying as you allow them to be. 

8. Dig deep, and don't settle, career-wise.

One exercise Sage Grayson introduced me to this year is creating a list of 'must haves' and 'must not haves' when it comes to your work. I was at a crossroads in my career this last year and keeping these two lists clear in my mind helped me when making the decision to move jobs. There's no point compromising if you're going to end up in the same confused state again in another 12 months. Stick to your standards, ensure you ask for what you want and don't accept what doesn't work for you.

9. Worries rarely eventuate.

I have been trying to learn this for years. My sister is a psychologist and literally took me through this 10 years ago. But hey, we've got to get there ourselves sometimes right?! A little trick I've used recently is if I'm going to bed with a head full of worries, I write them down. No matter how crazy they sound. The best part of this is, not only does it help get them out of my head so I can sleep, but I read back on them a week or a month later, and usually NONE of them have eventuated and they are fairly irrational worries looking back. I'm still allowed to have them but I'm noticing more and more that they're unnecessary to dwell on.

No more of this! 

No more of this! 

And the most important lesson:

10. Every year gets better.

It's true people. The years are getting better and better. And if I've cemented these 10 lessons over the last year, I can't wait to see what happens over the next 12 months.