Why I Ditched My To Do List In Favour Of Self-Love

I’m very excited to be featured on a fellow coach, Bailey Opsal's blog this week, talking about the challenging topics of self-love and self-care.

All too often, in conversations with friends and clients, self-love is a concept they struggle with.

It’s not that they hate themselves, it’s that they think the more they push themselves or berate themselves, the more pleased they’ll be with themselves ... and that will somehow lead to self-love. It kind of sounds logical, but also quite harsh.

I used to fall into this camp. Sure I had fun and took care of myself, but the repetitive to do list of everyday life took precedent - I had to exercise a certain amount, there was always a list of things to do around the house and guilt and anxiety would set in if I wasn’t on top of everything.

I eventually figured this busy work was surely not what life was about.

Similar chores and to do lists would always be there, but I no longer wanted to make them the focus of my life or thinking.

I decided the things I loved to do had to come before my to do list.

So what does that look like?  

Yoga

If you remember this earlier post, you’ll know that I resisted yoga for a long time. In line with my busy to do list, yoga seemed boring, slow and did not burn enough calories for me back in the days when that mattered to me.

Now, I do it every day in some shape or form. It’s usually first thing in the morning and has worked wonders for waking me up and stretching out my creaky body after sleep.

You’ll know my favourites are Yoga With Adriene and Tara Stiles - try these short videos from Adriene and Tara if you’re interested.

Yoga now gets me out of my own head and slows me right down.

Reading

I used to read like a crazy person when I was younger - to the point where my sister was horribly embarrassed by me always carrying around a book.

Like many avid readers I know, the plight of social media and the short attention spans that come with it, meant I wasn’t reading nearly as much as I was buying books.

Over the last 6 months, when I catch myself on my phone, checking Instagram for the 10th time, I remind myself that reading would be much more fulfilling and again, will help me switch off.

I read a combination of hard copy books and download onto my Kindle app obsessively (are you guys all over the free sample chapters on Amazon’s Kindle store? Try before you buy!).

I’m currently reading The Course of Love (I am obsessed with Alain de Botton) and The Year of Magical Thinking (heavy going but Joan Didion’s writing is incredible).

Spending time with people

If you’re ever feeling too much up in your own head, my best advice is to go and spend quality time with someone else.

Sure you might want to talk about what you’re going through or your to do list might be nagging at you, but inevitably you’ll gain some perspective and either be distracted, or realise we’re all going through similar things.

If I can’t catch up with people in person regularly enough, I try and call them in the car on the way to or from work and make sure I check in with those most important to me.

Playing games

Those who know me, know I have a penchant for video games… yes, yes I know...

My favourite for years has been The Sims (stop laughing) which I dip in and out of a few times a year. I also love hidden object games (Google them!) - they are great for switching your brain off and relaxing. I have also recently made a triumphant return to playing Mario Kart.

Listening to music (and having dance parties)

Although I have an obsession with podcasts (my current favourites are The Life Coach School Podcast and On Being), I recognised a while ago that absorbing information constantly isn’t always the best for me switching off.

What is good for switching off my brain is listening to music - I try and do that in the car more often than not, and love going through my back catalogue of music on the computer at night and dancing around the living room when called for (much to the confusion of my cat Pickles).

What can you do this week to step away from your to do list? 

I also have one coaching spot opening up in June - contact me here for a complimentary 30 minute consult if you'd like to talk about how you can find fulfillment outside of your to do list. 

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

My Most Embarrassing Technology Sins

You don’t have to look far these days to find an article full of recommendations about ‘switching off’, staying present, connecting with people in real life, reading ‘real’ books, and so on, and so on.

I have no qualms admitting I’m addicted to my phone (and, let’s be serious, my iPad too).

But I still go out for dinner with friends, I still read ‘real’ books (not as much as I scroll my feeds, but hey) and I don’t own an Apple Watch.

Today, to make us all feel a little better, I thought I’d repent on everyone’s behalf —  here are my current worst technology sins, warts and all.

I check my phone before I get out of bed

Yes, it’s true. I used to avoid doing this, but these days, I can’t fight the feeling.

And the first thing I do when I wake up is feed my cats in Neko Atsume. Yes, it’s true. I love video games and I love cats so there you have it. Sin one down.

I cut my finger and suffered through the phone-holding pain

A couple of weeks back I managed to slice my finger while cooking, right in the crook of my index finger, where you apparently hold your smartphone.

Every time I held my phone it hurt — the leaning of the phone against the skin, the bending of my finger, everything really.

But do you think I stopped checking my phone? No way.

I ignore people at lunch so I can read my phone

I don’t do this every day, but if I’m having a particularly busy morning, I do like to escape to the work kitchen, eat my lunch and zone out on Instagram.

Sometimes this involves rudely ignoring a co-worker who’s trying to strike up a conversation with me.

I know that makes me a bad person, but sometimes I just need my fix.

I fall asleep to YouTube videos

In line with my zen way of waking up in the morning, over the last few weeks I’ve found myself depending on YouTube vlogs to put me to sleep.

I guess this is the same as watching TV in bed (also a no-no I’m sure) but it does feels wrong, particularly when you wake to find the iPad tipped onto your arm in the middle of the night. Whoops.

Anyway, my favourites are Vivianna Does Makeup and The Lindquists. Enjoy!

Ok, now that my shame is out in the open, tell me — what are your worst, most deplorable technology sins? Please share below!

 

Best of Where The Light Plays 2015

Happy new year dear readers! I hope you’ve had a great start to 2015.

I have to say a huge thank you for all your support in 2015 and for checking in each week to hear what I’m up to on my corner of the internet.

If you’re a regular, you may enjoy revisiting some of the most popular posts from the past year, and if you’re new here (welcome!), enjoy your first peek into Where The Light Plays.

Where I’m At interviews

I’m so glad you are enjoying these interviews as much as I enjoy doing them. I think it’s great to learn from other women's routines and benefit from their wisdom.

A huge theme I see over and over again in these interviews is the need for women to be easier on themselves and know that they’re already doing a great job - clearly a big theme here on Where The Light Plays.

A few of the top Where I’m At interviews in 2015 were:

Shannon Ables from The Simply Luxurious Life

Vlogger Elle Lindquist

Rachel Gadiel from (the new!) Dream Create Do

And to read through all the interviews, grab a cup of tea and click here.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up posts

Considering how huge this book was in internet land in 2015, it’s no surprise you’ve enjoyed reading my personal journey through the KonMari method.

I overhauled my closet and my bookshelves and next year I’m hoping to tackle a couple of new daunting tasks - the kitchen and spare room (aka dumping ground).

Enjoy the posts here:

The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up (or How I Broke Up With 50% Of My Clothes)

The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: Book Edition

The Day I Officially Broke Up With Dieting

This was probably the most personal post I shared all year, so it’s pretty humbling to see it was so popular with you ladies.

Intuitive eating has been a huge mindset shift for me in 2015 and I’m so glad I’m not entering 2016 with the usual body shaming plan to lose weight and restrict my eating.

Yes I want to feel healthy but I can do that in a much saner way now.

If you’re struggling with your body, I highly recommend signing up for Finally Free (coaches Paige and Simi are above), the program that truly helped me ditch diets.

The Day I Officially Broke Up With Dieting

Finally Free program

My Morning Routine

Another popular post last year was the view into my daily morning routine.

I love when other bloggers post their routines so I’m glad you feel the same!

I’m planning on tweaking a few things in my mornings in 2016 so once I’ve adjusted my habits I’ll be sure to do an update on the blog.

Time Management Series: My Morning Routine

What were your favourite Where The Light Plays posts this year?

What would you like to see more of in 2016?

Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

 

The Best of the Best YouTube Beauty Channels

I’m a self-confessed content addict. Between blogs, podcasts and free e-courses, I find it hard to switch off from the bombardment of information available online.

But one of my favourite ways to either entertain and distract myself (while folding clothes, cooking or doing my makeup) or relax (while in the bath or lazing in bed) is to watch beauty videos online.

When thinking about my favourite YouTube channels, the same themes came to mind - they’re all calm, chilled, fun and, most obviously, two of the three have fabulous British accents.

Lisa Eldridge

A few years back, I read about celebrity makeup artist Lisa Eldridge and her YouTube tutorials while flipping through Vogue at the hairdresser.

Cue an evening of binge watching almost two years worth of her videos...

Two close girlfriends admitted they were also obsessed with her videos and we decided she was almost like a ‘big sister’ with her advice and sage ways.

She has brilliant makeup tutorials, many celebrity visitors on her channel and this facial massage video will invoke zen in even the most stressed person. Run, don’t walk, to watch Lisa.

Vivianna Does Makeup

Anna is down to earth, easygoing and she makes beautiful videos (like this recent wardrobe shoot).

The flip side of her polished videos is she also frequently vlogs in her dressing gown with no makeup on, so it’s pretty much like having a housemate chatting to you while she gets around her place. Oh and she’s completely gorgeous and amazing at easy-to-follow makeup looks.

Her good friend Lily Pebbles is also a great beauty vlogger worth following.

Ingrid Nilsen

I read about Ingrid earlier this year - she has a huge following (almost 4 million subscribers!) and after watching a few of her makeup tutorials, I was drawn to her quirky personality.

Ingrid bravely came out in June and her videos have taken a slightly different path since then, but there’s still plenty of great beauty content to get through on her channel.

Who are your favourite beauty YouTubers? Let me know 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

The Top 3 Workouts To Try At Home

 
Can't face the outside world today? I know the feeling...

Can't face the outside world today? I know the feeling...

Did you wake up today with grand plans to go for a run? Did you promise yourself you’d get to that gym class straight after work today? Or did you decide to stay off the booze Friday night and finally get up for that 8am yoga class on Saturday?

Did your mind then start to play tricks on you?

It’s too cold, it’s too hot, I’m too tired, I worked hard today and deserve a night on the couch, I’ve earned a sleep-in.

You are not alone! I have danced this dance with myself numerous times and guess what? I have never regretted exercising. Ever. Really. I always feel better and almost always end up with more energy than I started with (unless I’m hungover - then I just need a lie down).

But, I have a secret. On the days when I really can’t drag myself out of the house, I depend on my trusty friend YouTube. Pulling on my ugliest, most comfortable gym wear and sluggishly crawling into the study is much easier than facing the world sometimes. And there is so much material to draw on...

Below are my three favourite YouTube options for you to try out. You can grunt, cry or lie down in the middle of the workout and the instructor will not judge you. Go forth and exercise!

Tone It Up

I found Karena and Katrina from Tone It Up about two years ago now. I was a little dubious to start with as they seemed very attractive and a little too chirpy (not always what you need on a lazy day). They also exercise in bikinis quite frequently.

I’ve come around now though. They have a huge amount of free resources online, and provide stacks of videos focusing on different body parts (arms/abs, legs, booty) and also have yoga, HIIT and foam rolling routines. The beach setting and their aspirational bodies also help.

Some of the earlier TIU videos are a bit hit and miss with timing and reps, but most of the recent ones are great. My current favourite is the KettleToning workout, combining kettlebells, yoga and toning. So good and so sweaty. Plus, they have formed a huge online community of women through their website, with many Instagram and Twitter accounts out there to keep you motivated.

Jillian Michaels

jillian-michaels-youtube-workout.JPG

“I want you to feel like you’re going to die”. My dear husband is all too familiar with Jillian yelling at me from the computer screen.

If you want a major workout, always go to Jillian. A heap of her videos are on YouTube on the BeFit channel. She is really tough and her abs will keep you persisting when you feel like face planting into the carpet. Luckily, she does provide different options for fitness levels in most of her workouts.

And, again, if you’re not listening to her podcast, do so immediately. She is informative, clever, hilarious and very different to how the media portrays her.

Yoga with Adriene

Yes, I’m cheating on Tara Stiles with Adriene. I love her! She has a relaxed, soothing approach to yoga poses, but also has a great sense of humour and likes making fun of herself.

I’ve only scratched the surface of her workouts, but she’s currently doing a 30 day challenge - great if you’re keen to spend January detoxing with yoga. And they aren’t basic or beginner workouts either, so good if you are a bit further along with your yogi skills.

Side note: I have also just discovered there are numerous Beyonce dance video workouts on YouTube. I’ll leave it to your discretion to participate, and look forward to your reviews…

Do you workout with exercise DVDs or YouTube at home? If so, what are your favourites?

 

My Pampering Routine

 
Yes, I watch YouTube in the bath...

Yes, I watch YouTube in the bath...

Self-care is the latest buzz phrase on lifestyle blogs. And to be honest, I’m all for it.

Carving out time for a pampering session can be difficult at times, but it’s so worth it – whether I’m recharging after a long day mid-week, admitting my old age and spending Friday night in the bath with a red wine, or going through my routine on a Sunday eve to feel equipped for the week ahead, here is my current routine.

Hair

Please note, washing my hair is in no way a relaxing activity, so I don’t include it in a tranquil pamper routine. Do you ladies feel the same way?

Body

Never a huge bath taker as a teen / young adult, since the advent of iPads and YouTube, I find whiling away time in the tub a breeze.

My secret? I watch a heap of YouTube videos to relax. I am a huge fan of Lisa Eldridge, but I’ve also recently come to love Vivianna Does Makeup. Their British accents relax me and there’s something weirdly mesmerising about watching someone else put on makeup. Weird, but it works!

Lifting weights can leave me sore, so I love to put Radox Muscle Soak in the bath, along with anything from the I love… range (currently on Mango & Papaya). For sore muscles, I also love massaging in some clove and mint Muscle Magic from Endota Spa.

frank

I recently started using Frank Coffee Scrub. It leaves my skin feeling amazingly soft, but it does turn your bath to dirt, so save it for towards the end...

When I’m indulging, my favourite ‘moisturiser’, for both body and face, is coconut oil. It is seriously so good for your skin, and smells amazing. I also sometimes use it as a hair treatment.

Face

Thanks to Lisa Eldridge, I am having a long love affair with Bioderma Crealine. Dubbed ‘the lazy girl’s cleanser’, I absolutely love this product and use it to take off every skerrick of makeup and dirt during my pampering routine. Super gentle on your skin, it also takes no time at all. I have fairly dry skin so I then put on Endota’s rosehip & myrrh face mask – you can also wear it overnight as a night cream.

Kate Somerville products are supre expensive, but really do work. I forked out for the Dark Circle Corrective Eye Cream and I love it. You only need a teensy bit so this bottle is going a long way. I have used some Dermalogica sample eye creams recently too, so might try those next.

I then slather on Ren’s Frankincense Night Cream which smells amazing and is a lovely smooth consistency. I’m also a bit captivated by Malin + Goetz products at the moment, so am trying out their Vitamin E moisturiser.

As you can see, I do love to have an array of products around for the routine! Some work, some just make me feel good via smell or nourishment.

Either way, soaking in the bath and smothering creams on seems to relax me so I’m sticking with it.

What do you do for self-care? Do you use any lovely products I should be trying?