Why Some Days Are Better Than Others

As we make our way through January of a new year, it’s not unexpected that many people’s heads will be swimming with resolutions and ways to improve themselves in 2017.

Making promises to yourself to change for the better is often a plight to achieve our perfect lives – our perfect body, career, home, family and faultless days to boot.

But what is a perfect day? Is it a day full of productivity, errands and perfect health? Is it holiday cocktails on the beach with no work or responsibilities in sight?

And how impossible is it to achieve this flawless life?

One of my recent online discoveries is Amy Young, a life coach specialising in relationships. Her YouTube videos make me laugh and she’s super real about life and a big advocate for taking it easy on yourself.

One of her videos is about ‘better than’ days. Go watch it. Seriously. After suffering anxiety, she started to note down activities that made some days ‘better than’ others. Not perfect, just ‘better than’ the not so good days.

I’ve started doing this in the last month. Each night if I feel I’ve had a ‘good’ day, I’ll note down what made it a good day and, I’ve got to say, it really strips things back to the bare bones.

My ‘ingredient list’ for good days, as Amy calls it, is not outlandish or impossible to maintain – in fact most of the activities are things I can do pretty regularly.

Below is a sneak peek of my ingredient list for good days:

  • Doing a Yoga with Adriene video
  • Going for a walk in the sun
  • Eating pasta and drinking red wine
  • Writing a blog post :)
  • Calling a good friend
  • Dancing around the house to music

My challenge to you: when you find yourself heading to bed thinking ‘well, that was a good day’, note down in a log what made it ‘better than’ other days.

Let this serve as your roadmap to what you want to punctuate your days with and let me know what improvements you see when you work these activities into your life more regularly.

A flawless life is probably unrealistic, but good days are not. 

September Recap and October Intentions

Readers - I can’t thank you enough for your lovely words and messages after last month’s recap. August was a tough month and I wanted to preserve one of the purposes of this blog through that post - to show you that life isn’t perfect and that we’re all just doing our best. So thank you again for being here, I appreciate it so much.

September was an improvement and it’s a great time of year - the days are getting longer, the weather is warmer and the last quarter of the year is always full of fun activities.

I had a couple of weekends away too (see the amazing Wilson's Promontory above), which always makes for good memories and weekends that feel extra long.

Now let’s get into how I did with my September intentions:

Increase energy levels

September was a much more balanced month for me - it wasn’t perfect but I was focused on healthier foods, long walks by the river and choosing sleep over big nights out.

It’s good to regain focus after the bumpier seasons of life and taking time to plan and slow down was the way for me to facilitate that.

I also took up some good habits in September - dry body brushing (start doing this immediately, it’s so good!) and drinking apple cider vinegar and lemon water in the morning (I have no idea if this is benefiting me but stay tuned!)

Study comes first

I also did well catching up on my studies but realised I had in fact exaggerated the situation in my head. Like journaling my worries (and realising most were not true), I had blown up in my head that I was quite far behind on my course and then, paralysed by the overwhelm, was putting off delving back in.

When I finally sat down one evening to make my to do list and finalise some worksheets, I realised I was in fact not that far behind and was caught up on a few major things within the hour. I’d spent way more than an hour stressing about it and there I was - I had done it!

What are you procrastinating on or blowing up in your head at the moment? Let me know in the comments below.

October Intentions

Blog it up

In line with my theme of honesty, you may have noticed I haven’t been posting quite as regularly around here.

I’ve been busy and going through some issues yes, but I also haven’t been planning ahead with posts or spending the time I’d usually like to on the blog.

I’ve accepted that as part of this season of life, but still want to be here to serve you through my writing, and also serve myself by doing something I love to do. I have a whole list of posts I want to write so I’m going to prioritise them and carve out time each week to focus on writing.

Please let me know in the comments if there’s any topics you’d like me to specifically post on too!

Rekindle friendships

Along with you lovely blog readers, my friends have been super supportive of me over the last few months. I am trying to live by Brene Brown’s philosophy of vulnerability and it’s tough, but it makes for much stronger connections and conversations.

As we get into the busiest time of year, I want to make sure I have plenty of catch ups planned with my closest friends, not only to benefit me through fun and connection, but also to make sure I’m being there for them now that I’m starting to feel better.

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What have you got planned for October readers?

Let me know your intentions for the month in the comments below and feel free to share this post on social media if you think it will help others.

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?

 

May Recap and June Intentions

Ah, perspective. I went back and re-read a few of my recaps and intention setting posts and had to scoff at myself for this one. Cold and short days in February? I don’t think so Georgie.

Here we are in winter in Australia - chilly mornings, followed by crisp sunny days (on my ideal days anyway, rain and cloud otherwise). I’ve moved out of holiday mode and am back into the swing of everyday life. Here’s a look back at May and a view as to what’s up next for me.

Morning yoga views in Thailand

Morning yoga views in Thailand

May Recap

I didn’t set any specific intentions here on the blog for May but considering the first week of the month was spent in Krabi, Thailand, I kicked it off nicely.

It was a great chance to unwind and relax, but it also made me realise I really missed our home in Melbourne and of course, Pickles, cat extraordinaire.

It’s a good feeling to come back home and see everything with fresh, appreciative eyes.

Pickles patiently awaits our return...

Pickles patiently awaits our return...

Upon returning to Melbourne, I’ve spent some amazing time with close friends.

My friendship group is all busy with our own careers, relationships and families, but when we come together for quality time, nothing really beats it.

I 100% remember why we’ve been friends so long, why we still push to stay in touch and how important friends are to lean on.

June Intentions

Keep the juggle calm

I am juggling quite a few things at the moment - work, study, social occasions, regular life admin. But post-holiday, I’ve found myself doing it in a calmer way than usual.

I’m not cramming my days full of appointments and I’m also not rushing from one task to the next - instead I’m trying to be present and give full attention to what I’m doing, whether it be laundry or coffee with a friend.

I’m hoping to keep this slower pace through June.

Do a financial review

After a few big purchases and a great holiday (worth every $), I’m ready to settle back into a more measured budget and get the savings up again. In particular I’m focusing on getting the rush from the ‘new purchase’ (aka online shopping) in other ways, namely free ways.

I will also keep in mind the future goal of savings and how good that will feel long term compared to the short term happiness of a new winter coat or a new mascara.

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What are your plans for June? Any intentions you’re planning on working on?

 

5 Lunch Break Ideas to Increase Your Productivity This Week

For my entire career, I’ve always been a huge proponent of taking my lunch break.

In fact I’m quite commonly known around the office as the one that will always go out for a walk at lunch, and have befriended many coworkers over the years who want to join me sporadically or regularly.

Clearly not every day or week lends itself to taking a full lunch break but, when possible, I try and recharge.

I find my afternoons are much more productive and I can reset my energy levels for the rest of the day.

Here are 5 ideas to try out this week.

Enjoy a book

Escapism is a great way to recharge your brain. After a busy morning, reading fiction can help you step out of the work grind and even strengthen brain connections and cognitive function

If you can’t find a cosy spot to read, download an Audible book and listen to it as you take a walk around the area.

Eat without digital distractions

This is a tough one that I continually have to work on.

It’s very easy to scoff your lunch while scrolling through all the Instagram marble bathroom or smoothie photos you’ve missed from the morning.

The problem is you very rarely enjoy your food and it’s easy to either eat past fullness or not feel full at all as you haven’t savoured your food.

I find it hard to stare into space while eating, but talking to coworkers at the office kitchen table is a good alternative and, as an added bonus, it helps build relationships.

Meet a friend

Use your lunch hour to catch up with a friend for lunch.

Chatting about topics other than work projects and enjoying a proper break at a local cafe will leave you ready to focus for the afternoon.

As an added bonus you won’t have to cram as many social engagements into the evenings and weekends if you utilise your lunch break for catch ups.

Listen to music

A good way to give your eyes a rest from screens is to plug in some good tunes.

You could enjoy music while lying in a nearby park, taking a walk (we’re seeing a pattern here) or browsing local shops.

Again it will help you get out of your own head and escape into whatever type of music works for you.

Pamper yourself

Self-care is a very positive way to spend the middle of your day.

Get a manicure, a short shoulder and neck massage or try out some makeup at a local cosmetics store.

The focus is on rejuvenating yourself and feeling fresh when you return for an afternoon of work.

What helps you recharge on your lunch break?

 

How To Get That Holiday Feeling In Everyday Life

As I mentioned here, I took a week off work last week and headed to warmer climes. Around the same time last year, I did a post on how I was trying to capture that holiday feeling in everyday life.

One of the days last week I was by myself. I wanted to capture here how I spent the day and remind myself to do it again.

It was one of those rare days where you fall into bed at night with opposing feelings of exhaustion and rejuvenation.

You can all hold me accountable to this, but I want some of my weekend days to follow the below formula. It’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves and do the activities that actually expand, rather than deplete, our energy.

Wake up on your own time

Enough said about this one really. There’s something rare and special about waking up sans alarm and reading in bed, or just lying there staring at the ceiling.

When life offers this option up (and I know it can be rare!), take it and luxuriate in it.

Move your body

I’m still not a regular morning exerciser but can really see the benefit of getting it done early in the day.

You’re less likely to put it off, you feel a sense of accomplishment and it often helps to wake us up and propel us on with the rest of our day.

As holidays can be indulgent, it felt great to do weights at the hotel gym during the morning. I almost jumped on the treadmill too, then realised I was planning on walking around the city most of the day, so canned that idea in favour of the outside world!

Include some culture

My theory is if you’re missing that travelling feeling, head to a gallery or museum. I get a distinct feeling over me when I walk around a venue like this, that I could be anywhere in the world.

I did spend a year living overseas and frequented galleries and museums in a lot of cities, but I’m pretty sure it’s a universal feeling for many people.

The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane was airy, quiet and gave me that worldly feeling all over again.

Enjoy a slow meal

Meals are such an important time for relaxing. Take your time ordering, think about how you want to feel after the meal and try and grab a good view for people or landscape watching if you can.

And I wanted to feel like I’d had a beer, so I had one!

Take some quiet time

I chose a spa to enjoy my quiet time. I know having a spa is not always possible in everyday life, but the concept of relaxing and resting after a day out usually is.

I was umming and ahhing about heading down to the spa alone but as soon as I got there I felt much more relaxed. I read my book, eased my muscles after a day out - it was perfect.

Escape via fiction or music

My default when I have ‘spare time’ is to start scrolling through my phone. Checking social media and, more frequently, clicking on self-help-style blog posts usually leads me down the rabbit hole to new books, courses and theories I could be learning about.

The internet pulls us in many mental directions, so I’ve been trying to use my spare time to either read some fiction, or put on a great playlist.

I still get the enjoyment and entertainment I’m after, but it’s more relaxing than filling my brain with self development (read: ‘you’re not good enough’) ideas.

Catch up with friends

Another no brainer I think. Good conversation and spending time with people we care about fills us up emotionally more than any other activity.

If you’re in a slump or even after a relaxing day, call a friend or family member up and relish in the quality time together.

What do you do on holidays that you neglect to do in everyday life?

 

How You Can Beat The Dreaded Sunday Blues

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a victim of the Sunday blues. Around 3 or 4pm on a Sunday, I start to feel a dark cloud move over me. My days of freedom are almost over and I start questioning if I’ve ‘made the most’ of my time off. I start to worry about the unknowns and to do lists of the weekdays ahead and a general feeling of malaise washes over me.

A few months back, I decided I was fed up with this feeling and I wasn’t going to let it control my Sunday afternoons... So how did I do it?

I did all my chores on Saturday

Sunday afternoon used to involve doing groceries, meal prepping, cleaning and other errands. Does that sound like a time to look forward to? Yeah, didn’t think so.

I’ve switched it up and now do most of my weekend jobs on Saturday, leaving Sunday less of a day to dread. Saturdays have a different feel about them, so I’ve found it less of a pain to do my errands on that day. And waking up on Sunday with a very short to do list is worth it.

I avoided a hangover

Guilt, regret, anxiety, irritability. Sound familiar? A few too many vinos on Saturday nights were leaving me in a pretty terrible mood come Sunday. The journal Alcohol and Alcoholism characterises hangovers as “general misery” with symptoms including drowsiness, concentration problems, dry mouth, dizziness, gastrointestinal complaints, sweating, nausea, hyper-excitability and anxiety. No wonder I wasn’t loving Sundays.

Although I still enjoy a drink, I make sure to drink lots of water and try and steer clear of my beloved red wine, which according to the same journal, causes the worst hangovers

I did any work early in the day

I try not to make a habit of doing extra work over the weekend, but some weeks I need to play catch up, and other weeks I know doing some work on Sunday will get me set up nicely for a busy Monday ahead.

Again to save it hanging over me, I’ll try and do it early on Sunday, usually late morning. And if it’s not required, I steer clear of the work laptop.

I talked about it

Yup, I asked around. So many of my friends confessed that they too feel the Sunday blues. Just talking about it left me feeling less alone and made a distinct difference to my outlook at the end of the weekend.

It’s been easy to send a message over to a friend and see how they’re doing on Sunday afternoon. We usually check in and remind each other there’s no need to feel down.

I gave myself permission to relax and have fun

Despite feeling the need to be super productive on Sundays to get set up for the week ahead, I’ve recently let this belief go. I lead a busy life, so now feel no guilt for lying around watching cooking shows (one of my favourite guilty pleasures) or going out for a long lunch with friends.

Allowing time for rejuvenation will increase your motivation in the long run.

Do you suffer from the Sunday blues? What are your strategies for beating them?


How To Deal With Energy Vampires and One-Uppers

 
texting_jumper_web.jpg

Although we try to keep things positive here at Where the Light Plays, it is worth admitting life isn't all peaches and cream.

Many types of people will come our way in life, but here's two I personally have trouble dealing with - the energy vampire (aka the drainer) and the one-upper. 

Energy vampires

I can feel them right now! These people seem to cross your path just to suck the life out of you and leave you feeling exhausted. They constantly mope and bemoan their own lives.

Now, I'm completely up for listening to and helping friends (and they do the same for me), but these people take, take and take some more, and never give much at all.

The one-upper

I'm sure you've crossed paths with a one-upper in your time. They seem to pop up at many stages of life - high school, work, mother's group. If you did this, they did that. If you went there in 2004, they were there in 1989.

I used to think people like this thought they were better than everyone else. Upon closer examination, I truly think they are either insecure OR they are trying to impress you, which is essentially a compliment.

So how do we deal with these people?

Don't play the game

It's extremely easy to get caught in the trap of an energy vampire or one-upper.

For energy sappers, we either try and make them see the bright side of life or provide advice that they'll never take. One-uppers we might try and compete with or talk over the top of during conversation.

Neither work. Step away from the conversation.

Now.

Get yourself a mantra

When we're seeing red or feeling overwhelmed, it can be hard to step back and have perspective. Here's where a handy mantra can come in.

One of my ex co-workers was a total drainer - I would leave conversations feeling completely deflated. So I got a mantra from Gabby Bernstein: 

"I choose to see peace instead of this."

It worked brilliantly before, during and after conversations to repeat it in my head as needed.

 Gabby has some great ideas and videos on how to deal with these types of people.

Spend time with the right people

You may not always be able to but, when you can, hang out with friends and coworkers who are like-minded.

Don't use that as an excuse to gossip about the energy vampire or one-upper who's getting you down - that won't bring you any joy.

Just appreciate those who truly get you and let them fill your energy up. They will listen to your stories, without the need to interrupt with a 'better' one.

Avoid

If you've tried everything, it's time to take the obvious path. If it's a friend or coworker, see if you can bring other people along as buffer, or only catch up in positive circumstances, like at a group celebration or for a quick coffee when you're following it up with a fun-filled day.

Try and see a movie with the one-upper so they can't spend the entire time trying to outdo you (ha!). Or share your family weekend snaps with the energy vampire at work to instill positivity. 

And for your own sanity, choose 'less about' these people on social media.

Do bear in mind that most people won't change, so look out for yourself and remember, life's too short to let people irritate you.  
 

10 Lessons Learned This Year

 
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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.