The Birthday Post 2017: 3 Mantras To Live By

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Another year, another million lessons ... when I think back to where I was a year ago at birthday time, I haven’t fundamentally changed (remember this post?) but I have definitely learnt more and more.

Although I check in regularly on the blog, I feel like over the last 12 months I’ve been less into tracking goals and consistently reviewing where I’m at.

Circumstances at work and in my personal life have meant I haven’t had as much time for these activities, so when I came to write this post, I wasn’t sure how easily it would come.

What I did realise though was that I have continued to do a lot of reading and self coaching and from that has stemmed some mantras that I’ve been carrying with me.

I don’t use each of them every single day but they have been immeasurably helpful throughout the last year and, right now, I think they’re definitely keepers for the future too.

I’m going to summarise what each of them have meant to me and I hope you’re able to start thinking about some mantras to carry with you too.

Mantra 1: 

It’s just my brain, it doesn’t mean anything.

Holy what?! Thank you Brooke Castillo. She mentioned this one in her Self Coaching Scholars course and I have drawn on this many, many times in the last year.

If I wake up in the morning feeling unable to face the busy day ahead, if I start to worry about how a client meeting went, if I look in the mirror and am sure I’ve gained a heap of weight, if I’m sure someone is saying something behind my back… I just come back to this mantra. “It’s just my brain, it doesn’t mean anything.”

We are so often sure our thoughts are facts and that how we feel about situations is absolute reality. But really your brain can choose any which way to go.

This has taken the edge off many situations and helped me step out of my head almost immediately.

Mantra 2: 

My purpose is to appreciate being alive.

My purpose?! The meaning of life?? Heavy stuff I know, but questions we’ve all asked ourselves at one stage right?

Again I did some self coaching on this over the last year and was encouraged to come up with a one sentence statement that covered off what I thought my purpose might be and, more importantly, a purpose that felt good to me.

When I looked around at my situation - born where I was, into the family I was, with the education I was given, surrounded by the people who’ve entered my life, the angst over choosing my purpose started to drift away. I already really have everything I need and although there will be pain and hard times, it’s all part of the human experience and even the hardest emotions can be valued.

When in the midst of an existential crisis about major decisions or what the next stage is for me, I remind myself of this mantra and I’m brought back to the moment, knowing I am lucky and that I don't have to take life quite so seriously. 

Mantra 3: 

In the end, we all die. It’s over before we know it.
We will have controlled very little.
None of it will mean much.
So we might as well lay it out.

Not to end on a totally morbid note, but this one is all sorts of amazing. Again, I pulled it from my current guru Brooke Castillo.

I’ve talked about control on the blog before, and I know many of us are grappling with this day to day - controlling our routines, controlling our relationships, it’s pretty exhausting right?

The other aspect to this mantra I appreciate is the underlying reference to the fear we all feel.

We don’t want to launch our business, or post that photo on Instagram, or tell that person how we really feel, because we are afraid of being judged or feeling negatively.

Whenever I feel that fear, I refer back to this mantra and know, in the scheme of things, I’m just a speck on the historical timeline, and the least I can do is experience life fully, including fear, rejection, all of it.

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Happy birthday to me and remember to lay it all out my amazing readers!

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 with vlogger Elle Lindquist

I’m very excited to be interviewing Elle Lindquist from Canada this month for Where I’m At. I discovered Elle through the Tone It Up online community a couple of years back. She was often posting inspiring content on social media and YouTube.

Elle now vlogs 3 times a week with her husband Dan and son Forde and there’s an extra video each week at the moment, as she’s pregnant with her second child – congrats Elle!

Elle's YouTube videos are often about fitness, health, organisation and other areas of self-improvement, or capture her daily life. I hope you enjoy the interview and go check out her YouTube videos. Enjoy!

What is your usual wake up time?

7am sharp!

What is your morning ritual?

I always start my day with a hot herbal tea to go. I steep the tea and then take my golden retriever Ellen for a 1.5 mile walk.

It’s a great way to peacefully and gradually greet the day, I get a lot of good thinking done, and it’s a peaceful source of “me time” which is hard to come by as a mum!

Tell us about your commute (if you have one...)

I work from home as a YouTuber so I don’t have a commute, but I always use my son’s afternoon naps to film/edit videos.

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

I can’t function without scheduling…well ok I can but my day functions much smoother when I follow a schedule.

I like to plan out my week on Sundays so I feel prepared and excited about the week ahead. There are always changes to the schedule, but I find having a blueprint greatly reduces stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.

If I don’t write appointments or meetings in my agenda I only have a 5% chance I’ll remember! Haha.

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

I take my lunch break at noon sharp.

I put on some light jazz, sit down at the table and just spend quality time with my son. It’s my time to sit down with my son, take a housework break, or play break and I find it sets the tone for what follows.

Right after lunch my son goes down for a nap which is when I put my YouTuber hat on and edit and upload videos, answer work emails and take conference calls.

What kind of workout schedule do you try to adhere to?

I work out 5–6 days a week on average.

I work out first thing in the morning or else it won’t get done.

The only other window of opportunity I’d have would be after my son’s nap at 3:30 and to be honest by that time I’m pretty done with productivity so a workout wouldn’t happen!

After I’ve taken Ellen for her walk, my husband leaves for work and Forde wakes up so we have breakfast together and then I head straight to the gym! My gym has a fabulous day care as well so Forde loves that time in his day too (plus as a single child it’s often the only interaction he gets with other kids throughout the week).

How do you like to end your day?

My son goes to bed at 8pm and I take my night time routine very seriously, haha!

I like to wind down with a cup of tea alongside either a TV show, Netflix or a book depending on the mood. By 9pm I like to run myself a hot bubble bath with a side of ice cold water to drink whilst in the tub.

This is often when my husband and I will catch up on our day. He’ll pull a chair up beside the bath and we connect. We like to call it a “meeting in my office.” I’ll often say “Dan, meeting in my office in 10?” and he knows what it means!

What time do you doze off?

Ideally by 9:30–9:45 but lately it’s been more like 10:30.

Truth be told inside me is the soul of a 90 year old woman. I like herbal tea, knitting and early nights and I’m PROUD OF IT!

What do you aspire to every day but rarely actually do? (you can tell me, we all have them!)

Shower…ugh….the struggle is real. Seriously, I don’t shower in the morning because I hit the gym first thing, but as a germaphobe I can’t bring myself to use their shower.

So that leaves me with the choice of either having a shower when I get home with a toddler throwing toys at me and crying because he’s bored in the bathroom, or try to sneak it in during his afternoon nap which doesn’t always happen between housework and YouTube.

Don’t think I’m gross…I still bathe at the end of the day!!

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

I would say carve out “you time!”

As women, we’re always giving ourselves to our partners, friends, work, children etc. and as a result we can be stretched quite thinly.

I had a friend tell me decades ago, “Elle there’s a reason they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others in a plane crash…if you don’t have enough, everyone else suffers too.” It’s really stuck with me.

I have a very hard time saying no to things/people especially when I technically am available but know that I’m burnt out/stretched thin and just need some down time.

The best advice I can give to you (and myself) is to be a warrior for yourself and give yourself the down time you require…and don’t apologise for it!

Even if it’s just an hour to yourself at the beginning or end of the day, find time where you’re responsible for no one but yourself and where you can just rest and recharge.

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

My best healthy lazy girl’s meal

  • Mixed green salad (from the bag….I said this was lazy girl’s version)
  • Grill or fry up some onion and red pepper
  • Add some pre-baked chicken slices (I bake 2 breasts on Sundays to use throughout the week)
  • Toss with some apple cider vinegar dressing (apple cider vinegar [1 part], EVOO [2 parts], Dijon mustard [1 part])

Honestly takes 5 minutes, is healthy and tastes like you put a lot of time and effort in! Sometimes I’ll also pre-grill peppers and onion for the week ahead of time if I’m feeling super lazy, but I prefer doing those fresh because the warmth adds decadence to the meal.

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Thanks Elle, it was great to gain some insight into your days as a YouTuber and mum. You can find Elle at:

YouTube - www.YouTube.com/TheLindquists

Twitter - @ellelindquist

Instagram - @elle.lindquist

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?