November Recap and December Intentions

A grey November morning with a surprise visitor...

A grey November morning with a surprise visitor...

Holy smokes, it truly is the end of 2016. Where is the hoverboard I was promised? 

I’m looking back on a productive but tumultuous year and participating in one of my favourite online programs - the Holiday Council with Molly Mahar from Stratejoy. More about that shortly.

November involved a busy time at work learning some new skills (I initially dreaded this but am now really enjoying it - who knew?), my first trip to a kinesiologist (would you be interested in hearing more? Let me know in the comments below) and, my personal favourite, some great catch ups and meaningful conversations with family and friends.

So let’s look back on my November intentions and set some final ones for the year.

Chill out

Uh, yeah, I did not succeed at this intention. My personal development tendencies are still going strong, however I did definitely cut back.

As I mentioned, I am doing the Holiday Council and have been chatting to the lovely Paige from Healthy Hits the Spot, however I’ve definitely reduced the number of self-help books and podcasts I’m dipping into.

Instead, I’m listening to more music (remember this song from Nelly? It's making me oddly happy at the moment) and more storytelling podcasts like Modern Love and Phoebe’s Fall. I’m also reading Helen Garner’s new book of essays, Everywhere I Look - her writing also makes me super happy. If you haven’t read her, I highly recommend.

December Intentions

Take stock

The Holiday Council is a 3 week program run through December, where you wrap up the year that was, and start planning for the year ahead.

My favourite parts of Holiday Council are:

  • the visualisation Molly does on one of the live calls where you go forward 12 months and see what your ‘future self’ is up to
  • the monthly planning of activities you want to complete throughout the next year
  • the quarterly review calls Molly does throughout the year - these are sometimes free so subscribe and keep an eye out!
  • choosing my word for the year - my word of 2016 was ‘Choice’ and I’m looking forward to choosing one for 2017.

Be present

Just like the year itself, the holiday period and the events that come with it will inevitably fly by.

I do love this time of year, so want to be present and enjoy the time I have with friends and family, in particular enjoying activities I don’t do as often throughout the rest of the year (swimming, water skiing, gorging on shortbread, peaches and nectarines).

Laura Vanderkam put it best in her ‘How to make time slow down’ newsletter from 2015:

“For the door does close, and eventually I will be looking back on all of this. Even happy moments bear in their shadows this melancholic reality. All moments are finite, the good, and the bad. All you can do is choose to deepen your experience of them.”

 

How To Get Through A Tough Time

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A major purpose of this blog is to get real with you readers and to reassure you that you’re doing a great job, even if your life is not as perfect as you think it should be.

As I mentioned back in August, I was going through a tough patch - luckily something I haven’t been through in a long time.

While in the midst of one of these rough times, it can feel all consuming, like it will never end and like you never appreciated the ‘normal’ times.

It reminds me of when I get a cold - sore throat, runny nose, the works - and I realise I was never grateful for all the days I was healthy with a clear nose and fully functioning throat! 

So during this period I read, listened and soul searched through as much self-help collateral as I could find.

And you know what? There was no quick fix... sorry readers. 

But - I did pick up a few strategies that helped ease the pain and that I will remind myself of in future hard times.

Treat yourself like your best friend

When going through a tough time, it’s so easy to beat ourselves up and berate ourselves about getting over it as quickly as we can.

Negative self talk can come in - voices telling you that you're being weak, too emotional, too easily affected. None of this helped me.

What did help was imagining one of my best friends coming to me with a problem - would I tell her to get over it and stop being so stupid?

No, I would listen to her and make her cups of tea, and take her on long walks and hop on the couch with her to watch her favourite movies. So what did I do? I did all these things with myself.

Another thing I found helped was doing things that made me feel capable - getting involved in a tough work project or helping a friend or family member with a task I have skills in. It helped distract me and made me feel useful and worthy.

Don’t deny the negative emotions

Again, it’s so tempting to mock ourselves for feeling down and in turn try and bury any negative emotions.

Sure, thinking positively and expressing gratitude helped me, but fighting against the negative emotions did not. They were going to be there whether I kicked and screamed against them or not.

As Dr Russ Harris notes in his amazing book The Happiness Trap, we can make room for negative emotions even if we don’t like them, and they will often start to come and go without too much fuss. It also seemed at times that I was addicted to these negative emotions because I was constantly replaying negative scenarios associated with my problem. Again, fighting aginst that did not work. 

Molly Mahar also said a great quote that helped me with during this time and that was to ‘trust that when you are ready you will start to climb out’...

Accept the different seasons of life

I won’t post any frivolous quotes here but I’m sure you’ve heard the concept - how can we appreciate the positive seasons of life without the negative?

Not every year or season of life is going to be up, and if anything a slump makes us appreciate the neutral, so-called 'boring' times of life, or even better, the happy seasons.

It’s the nature of being human and I accept there will be plenty more crazy seasons to come. If you are going through a dark phase, I want you to know it will pass and one day you will look back upon it and it won’t seem as all consuming as it does right now.

Hang in there, be super gentle with yourself and put one foot in front of the other, day after day, and eventually it will be ok. I promise.

The Birthday Post: Lessons Learned This Year

It’s the most magical time of year! Well, for me... my birthday! As I mentioned here, I do love to celebrate and my birthday is no exception.

I have to be honest though - my birthday is losing a little shine as I get older but I’m trying to hold on to the fun and am grateful for every year (and fine line on my face - ahem).

You can catch up on previous year's posts below:

Previous Birthday Posts

So what has the past 12 months taught me? An immense amount again, I’ve got to say. So let’s get started…

1. Thoughts control everything

This feels like a true life long lesson for me and I have Jess Lively and Brooke Castillo to thank for introducing me to the Self-Coaching Model.

Brooke’s underpinning theory is that your thoughts create your feelings and your thoughts are just reactions to external circumstances.

How we interpret any situation is completely up to us and how we view our lives is completely up to us.

If you think you have a boring, uninspiring life - guess what, you will feel depressed that you do. If you direct your thoughts to a life filled with gratitude and fun, positive feelings will follow suit.

One of Brooke’s worksheets is here and I urge you to give it a try - write down the top three feelings you most feel every day, then choose what you’d prefer your top three feelings to be each day.

Even in the hard times you can direct your thoughts where you want them to be and your feelings will follow - sometimes slowly, but they will follow.

You are one thought away from the feeling you want.
- Brooke Castillo

2. Nothing happens perfectly

Hello, flashback to lesson 1 of 2014. I learned this again in the past year.

Between having to change my overseas travel plans, to having a mini personal crisis in the middle of my studies, to missing out on achieving one major goal I wanted to this year, it all just reminded me that we can plan and scheme, but life just happens as it will sometimes.

The sooner we let go of the perfect picture and let life unfold in its messy, sometimes unforgiving way, the better.

We never taste happiness in perfection, our most fortunate successes are mixed with sadness.
- Pierre Corneille

3. Never give up on learning new skills

Here’s a secret - I’ve always regretted not studying for longer at university. I was itching to get out of study and into full time work and years later, ha, how silly I realise 21-year-old Georgie was.

This year I returned to study life coaching and have enjoyed and surprised myself at learning this new skill - it’s totally different from my day-to-day job and has taken hard work, but I’m learning so much. You can get on my coaching wait list for 2017 by sending me a message here. 

I also changed career industries almost two years ago and was on a steep learning curve after over eight years in my previous industry of publishing.

I felt in over my head but over the last year I’ve tried to remember that I constantly surprise myself - well maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise anymore - I actually am capable and can learn almost anything with time.

Every artist was first an amateur.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. Keep a record

Any kind of record. I was a diary keeper as a teenager and am pretty sure I just wrote about boys... I have no idea if those diaries are still around but I hope they are fully cremated and never seen again.

Between this blog, my journaling and The Holiday Council I do every December with Molly Mahar, it is truly gratifying to go back and read how I felt at a certain time, to see how far I’ve come with my goals and to watch myself evolve in general.

Almost nothing makes me feel happier.

We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.
- Joan Didion

5. …It’s all an illusion anyway

Bear with me on this one readers. I read Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach almost ten years ago and revisited this fairly philosophical book in the past year.

It’s a simple story with a pretty complex theme to get your head around - it might not be for everyone but the underlying message is that life is only as difficult as we make it (hello lesson 1) and as far as we know, the world we live in could just be an illusion.

I know it’s a bit way out, but it helps me let go of the inane - we’re not going to be here forever and the quicker I flow with my life the more present I’ll be. So here’s to another year ahead...

The world is your exercise book, the pages on which you do your sums. It’s not reality, although you can express reality there if you wish. You are also free to write nonsense, or lies, or tear the pages.
- Richard Bach

And because I love Meghan Daum and music and this quote makes me tingle, here’s one last message for you.

Thanks as always for being here readers and happy birthday to me.

“Listen,” Older Self might say. “The things that right now seem permanently out of reach, you’ll reach them eventually. You’ll have a career, a house, a partner in life. You will have much better shoes. You will reach a point where your funds will generally be sufficient—maybe not always plentiful, but sufficient.”
But here’s what Older Self will not have the heart to say: some of the music you are now listening to—the CDs you play while you stare out the window and think about the five million different ways your life might go—will be unbearable to listen to in twenty years.
They will be unbearable not because they will sound dated and trite but because they will sound like the lining of your soul.
They will take you straight back to the place you were in when you felt that anything could happen at any time, that your life was a huge room with a thousand doors, that your future was not only infinite but also elastic.
They will be unbearable because they will remind you that at least half of the things you once planned for your future are now in the past and others got reabsorbed into your imagination before you could even think about acting on them.
It will be as though you’d never thought of them in the first place, as if they were never meant to be anything more than passing thoughts you had while playing your stereo at night.
- Meghan Daum

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

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