YouTube Favourites: Lifestyle Edition

I’ve unashamedly confessed to my love of YouTube channels herehere and here.

Today I’m taking you through my favourite ‘lifestyle’ channels - a difficult category to define but I’m pegging it as advice and tips from others on how they’re living their lives.

Mimi (and Alex) Ikonn

Mimi and Alex’s videos are just beautiful. They are such high quality and always include stunning landscapes and left-of-centre tunes.

From travel vlogs to Mimi’s monthly favourites, it’s basically a fun reality show with insights into their lives and business in London.

One of my faves - their morning routine - is above.

Gabrielle Bernstein

If you haven’t discovered Gabrielle Bernstein yet, you’ll be happy now you have.

Some of her concepts are pretty out there but the underlying themes of her books and videos are spirituality, health and how to manage your thoughts and moods.

There are plenty of great, short tips on her channel to get started with.

Marie Forleo

Bizarrely, I used to have a dance cardio DVD with Marie Forleo as the instructor. When she blew up on the internet, she seemed very familiar…ha!

Now she runs the famed B-School, teaching marketing strategies to entrepreneurs.

Her YouTube channel covers ‘Marie TV’ viewer Q&As and interviews mainly with business owners.

It’s not just business-specific though - there’s lots on productivity and life choices and her wacky cutaways always lighten the mood.

Team Stratejoy

Ok I’m cheating as the Stratejoy channel only has two videos (for now).

But Molly’s website is great and the Year of Mastery video is amazing - it’s about a concept called the Cycle of Years and the types of years you may encounter. Watch it now!

Which year are you having in 2016? Let me know below.

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Meanwhile, I'm taking a brief hiatus from the blog while we're on our overseas trip. I'll be back in May!

If you miss me, you can read some of your favourite posts here, and if you have any suggestions for what you'd like to see on Where the Light Plays in the future, let me know in the comments below, or over on Facebook

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.

 

Where I'm At: Interview Series - Molly from StyleCellar

Welcome to the next interview in the series, 'Where I'm At'. It's a voyeuristic, yet helpful look into the lives of women who are finding where the light plays within them.

Their daily rituals, ways of managing stress and advice to you, the readers, are captured in these interviews.

This month we’re talking to Molly Ziraldo, a Canadian living in Melbourne. Molly and I connected on the Stratejoy site and have become firm brunch buddies since then. Molly has an inventive blog called StyleCellar that combines two things we often want to know more about – wine and fashion. Molly has a fascinating story too – from being in Disney on Ice (!), to studying wine and working in the industry, to moving to Melbourne, she’s insightful and self-aware and I’m excited to interview her on the blog today.

What is your usual wake up time?

7–7:15am

What is your morning ritual?

First thing I do when I get up is try to drink as much water as possible. I head straight to the kitchen and have a big glass of water and a quick swig of apple cider vinegar, I still hate the taste! But it’s more convenient for me than making hot water with lemon and offers similar benefits.

After that I’ll brush my teeth, wash my face, do makeup etc. If I have time I try to do a few sun salutations, or just any stretches really. I find my body really needs some movement first thing in the morning. I’ve never been a morning person though, so getting to the gym just isn’t gonna happen.

I then sit for 5–10 min in a mixture of meditation/prayer and intention setting for the day. I’ve been doing Gabrielle Bernstein’s guided meditations for a few years now.

After that I quickly get dressed, grab my lunch and I’m out the door. I always get coffee and make breakfast once I get into work.

Tell us about your commute.

My commute is a 15 minute tram ride (and to be honest I could walk – but again, would rather get extra sleep!). While on the tram, I’m either listening to music or a podcast.

Do you like to plan your day ahead or allow some spontaneity?

Definitely plan! If I don’t have a plan I can’t focus and I get nothing done. I like planning my next day before I leave the office the day before. I never thought I was a “planner” but I need structure.

I’m still a “go with the flow” type of person, so last minute changes don’t bother me but I need structure or some framework, or else my head just isn’t it.

How do you spend your ideal lunch break to recharge for the afternoon?

I work in an open concept office and being quite introverted my lunch time is my “me time”. It’s taken a while for my colleagues to not be insulted when I turn down lunch invites (it’s also taken me a while to not feel guilty for doing so).

My ideal lunch is anything that gets me away from my desk. Being from Canada, I usually spend this time texting my girlfriends back home (thank god for Whatsapp!). I usually try to fit in a quick walk around the block too.

What kind of workout schedule do you adhere to?

I’ve learned it’s not about an hour of cardio or hitting the gym every day, but just ensuring I move in some way throughout the week.

That being said, it’s hard to find the time and I don’t have a set schedule. I try to do something at least 3 times a week. That “something” is usually yoga, dance class or a conditioning/strength workout. I tried the infamous Kayla Itsines workouts, so I usually use those. They’re only 28 min and are insanely tough!! So you definitely feel like you’re making the most of your time.

How do you like to end your day?

I’ve found that how I end my day is just as important as how I begin it. I like to start unwinding about 9:30–10pm. I tend to turn off as many lights as possible (phone included), light a candle, listen to classical music and sit again in stillness and just reflect on the day. I then read whatever it is I’m reading at the time.

What time do you doze off?

11:30pm (fingers crossed!)

What do you aspire to every day but never / rarely actually do? (you can tell me, we all have them!)

Yoga. God, I wish I made time for yoga every day. Also, writing (journaling) or writing something thoughtful to a friend or family member back home. Not eating any refined sugar would also be nice but hey…we’re human.

Any advice for women trying to find ease in their every day?

Set boundaries. This is so hard but so necessary if you’re going to make time for you, and if you can’t …just breathe more!  This is something I always forget to do.

Other than that, maybe try to think of one thing you’re grateful for that happened that day before you head to bed.

Can you give us your quick go-to recipe after a busy day?

I know a smoothie shouldn’t substitute as a meal – but if I don’t have time to cook this is 100% my go to (any time of day), and I take my smoothie (bowl) game seriously. I always make sure I’ve got protein, fat, fibre, carbs and greens present.

If those boxes are ticked, no reason that the bowl doesn’t have just as much nutrients as a meal.

Banana Mango Coconut Smoothie Bowl

1 frozen ripe banana

A few pieces of sliced frozen mango  (any frozen fruit can do)

One/two BIG handfuls of spinach (I find spinach is best for smoothies. Kale never blends as well – and I promise, you can’t taste it)

1/2 an avocado (if you don’t have any on hand, make sure you get some fat via coconut oil/cream or nuts)

Plant based protein powder (right now I’m using Sunwarrior vanilla flavour)  or hemp is also good. If you don’t have any – nuts are fine.

Water or coconut milk (I use coconut milk right out of the can instead of the packaged milks)

Once I pour it in a bowl I always top it with something – just to make it feel more special (i.e. nuts, chia seeds, goji berries, coconut, bee pollen, LSA, added fruit ­– whatever you might have).

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Thanks Molly - it was great to get a peek behind the scenes of your life and blog. You can find Molly at:

Website: www.style-cellar.com

Twitter : @mollyziraldo

Instagram : mziraldo

Gratitude 101

 
gratitude.jpg

Do you feel like you’re always reaching? Like when you buy that thing, or get that job, or finish that goal, you’ll be happy? I’ve heard these aspirations called many things including shiny pennies, carrots, vision boards, bucket lists.

On the flip side, I’ve also read a lot about gratitude and living in the present moment. No longer reaching and living a life of ‘I am happy now’, not ‘I’ll be happy when…’

Back when I started looking into positive psychology, I shared the strategies to a more satisfying life from Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, researcher and author of The How To Of Happiness. Even though they sounded simple, I wanted to look further into her research.

A good proportion of the tactics she discusses come back to gratitude – being grateful, expressing wonder at the world around you and counting blessings. Research has shown that practising gratitude regularly can have a huge effect on your outlook, disposition and overall happiness.

The truly fascinating part of Sonja’s research is that she has ascertained that:

  • 40% of our happiness is in our control and can be influenced by intentional activity
  • 10% is based on circumstances outside of our control
  • 50% is genetically determined.

Only 40% control makes me want to work harder, so gratitude is a new focus. When I say working hard, the premise is actually to be satisfied with your life as it is, but that can be harder work than I thought...

Below are some of my favourite practices, and some I’m yet to implement:

Five grateful thoughts each morning

This is perfect for the newbie to gratitude or those that feel they don’t have enough time to be grateful (an oxymoron?). Every morning before I get out of bed, I list the first five things that pop into my head that I’m grateful for. It sets a good frame of mind for the day and stops me moaning that it’s too early to get up.

Mantras and affirmations

Taking a mantra through your day is something I learned from Gabrielle Bernstein’s book May Cause Miracles. The book is based around daily practice in meditation, but also gives you an affirmation to use as needed over the course of the day. You can either set a few reminders in your phone or go back to it when you’re feeling overwhelmed or when you have a quiet moment. A few of my favourites are:

  • I’m grateful for this moment
  • I could see peace instead of this
  • I am responsible for what I see

I could go on and on with these ones… And she also has a very cute app that you can use as your alarm.

Journaling

I’m not a regular journal-er but it’s a popular gratitude practice. Writing down at the start or end of each day what you’re thankful for helps ground you and is great to refer back to on a not-so-great day. Plus there’s so many nice journals out there to choose from right?

Photos and quotes around your home

Ok, I’m not a big fan of the ‘dance like nobody’s watching’ sign, but there is strong research into the fact that having an uplifting quote around the home and surrounding yourself with photos of family and friends increases gratefulness. The photos in particular remind us of the amazing people in our lives, the places we’ve travelled, the celebrations that stood out. Even when we’re in the humdrum of everyday life, reminders of these can keep us grounded and increase our satisfaction with life in general.

   Some moments I like to remember.

 

Some moments I like to remember.

Gratitude letter (and visit...)

I’ll be honest and tell you this one terrifies me a little. Martin Seligman, pioneer for positive psychology, developed this exercise. You think of someone who has made a major impact on your life, write them a gratitude letter and visit them to read it in person. I would love to hear if anyone has done this or is interested in doing it. I imagine it would be a hugely powerful experience.

Celebrating moments

I am so guilty of this one and am working on this for 2015. I am a goal setter and luckily most of the time, a goal achiever. But what I forget to do is stop and celebrate each goal, rather than rushing right by on to the next one or brushing it off as not a big deal. Living in the present moment is about celebrating these achievements, for yourself and others. And why not take a photo and put it up in your house to remember it?

I’d love to hear how you practise gratitude? Or if any of these are enticing you to start?