My Blog

Kirsty writes regularly here

Climate Change is Real!

Climate change is real; it is happening, and everyone can do something about it.

I began to resist a growing consumer culture and decided to make conscious and intentional eco-friendly choices for myself and my family many years ago when I first began to hear about ozone layer damage and global warming – and how the damage to our planet was going beyond natural greenhouse effects. Many people wanted to make a difference as more information was being shared in the 1990’s, however the importance has seemed to be lost over the years in misunderstandings, government and political denial and inconvenience.

Today I wanted to share why making these types of choices is important to your health and your family’s health too – and what you can do now.

When I was growing up our household bins were half the size of one wheelie bin now, we never bought fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic, we mended clothes or handed them down rather than throw them out and buy new ones.  When I was growing up Mum and Dad didn’t get takeaway coffee on the way to work every morning, and takeaway or fast food of any sort was a luxury. When I was growing up we visited more parks with trees and grass, and less parks with artificial ground covers and rides.  When I was growing up tropical heat rarely affected Brisbane, and storms, floods and bushfires were not a frequent annual occurrences.  So much has changed since I was growing up.

Because of the changes I have seen and experienced over the last few decades, because I feel that I am responsible for the world my three children grow up in, and because I want my grandchildren to experience clean air, trees, good health, fresh food choices and a beautiful planet, I have decided to take action towards reducing my footprint as much as I can.

CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology predicted in 2015 that temperatures in Australia could rise by 5 degrees by 2090 – well over the rate of global warming experienced by the rest of the world.  There will be more sweltering summers, more droughts, more extreme rainfall and less snow.  The time is now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to head off the worst of climate change for Australia.

Everyone can turn the tide – so to speak! We must mitigate and adapt.  Mitigation encourages you to reduce your consumption of energy.  Adaption is crucial as some climate change outcomes are already happening and here to stay so we must look after the health of ourselves and our animal population in the wake of these environmental impacts.

Climate change is a global issue, and that’s big!  Yet I believe that all individual and community efforts add up and solutions do exist.

So, here is some simple things you might want to start doing today to help our planet and leave a better world for our children’s children.

  • Stop using plastic bags and switch to cloth shopping bags. Australians use between four and six billion plastic bags annually.
  • Ban the bag | sign petition
  • Use energy saving light bulbs. Typically these use about 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs, saving you money and they last 3-25 times longer.
  • Reduce purchasing products with unnecessary packaging. Packaging takes a lot of energy, water and other natural resources to produce.
  • Don’t buy bottled water – refill your water bottles. Plastic water bottles take up to 1000 years to break down!
  • Ever considered meat free Monday? Mass meat production is one of the main contributors to carbon dioxide emissions which in turn are the main cause of the climate change.
  • Talk to people about it. Tell them what you are doing and why.  Inspire your children and community to make climate and environmental friendly choices.

 

Here is a one minute video that I strongly urge you to watch, just in case you need extra motivation from very wise kids.

 

Please let me know what you are going to do differently.  I know we can collectively make a difference.

 

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Book Review – The Adriatic Kitchen

When Exisle Publishing asked me to review this cookbook I did wonder how I would evaluate a book filled with recipes.  Cooking is not my favourite thing to do, however, I do adore fresh ingredients and eating wholesome and delicious food!

When I received The Adriatic Kitchen, and began to thumb through the pages it became apparent why Barbara Unkovic is a multiple award winner.  The look of this book invokes feelings of a well-loved must have in any kitchen. I felt drawn into the Adriatic as she expertly shared her passion for writing, her love of her father’s homeland, short stories about each recipe, and the delightful recipes inspired by Croatian cuisine and local produce. The book’s sections are by season, and with each recipe I was taken to the place or people it was inspired by – like foraging for wild grapes for the grape jelly or the kind man who bought along a rotary hoe to till the potato plot so there were home grown potatoes for the leek and potato soup.

Thankyou Barbara for a cookbook that is easy for busy people to use and inspires cooking with fresh seasonal and local food.  After trying a few recipes, I was surprised how much I enjoyed preparing the food, (remembering cooking is not my favourite thing to do!) The walnut coffee slice was amazing.  The Almond Biscuits and pancakes with chocolate sauce are so easy and delicious.  The Gnocchi and apple and cinnamon cake are to die for!

The Adriatic Kitchen won’t end up at the back of a cupboard or draw – my copy will take pride of place on my benchtop, and will be used often. I highly recommend you get a copy for your benchtop too – only $14.99.

Kirsty 🙂

 

 

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Troll Travels – Who Am I?

This is a fun exercise that supports you finding out who you are, why it matters and why you think, feel and act the way you do.  Why is it important to pinpoint your top qualities and define you?  Answering the question, ‘Who Am I’ will enable you to become a better communicator, increase your confidence and help to create clearer goals that are more meaningful to you in the future.

A few years ago I heard about Trevor the Troll, he is a self-improvement junkie who is very skilled at helping you define who you are.

There are a few steps to take to get you over three bridges and to the end, and Trevor the Troll will be there at each bridge demanding you hand over some of what you think makes you YOU; until you only have some of your qualities left!  I wonder which ones will be left? Let’s begin and find out…


 

First ask yourself “Who am I?”. And now write down everything that makes you YOU below. Remember not all of these qualities will be ‘good’.  Write as many as you possibly can, maybe you could fill a whole page! (HINT: Which makes some easier to get rid of)

 


 

I want you to imagine you’re about to cross Bridge Number 1. But to cross and not be eaten – Trevor the Troll demands you hand over 30 percent of who you are to him!

What are the qualities you will give away first? Return to your list of qualities now, and when you’ve crossed out 30 percent of your most expendable qualities you can move on…


 

So, now imagine you’re approaching Bridge Number 2. And again, to cross and not be eaten, Trevor the Troll demands you hand over 30 percent of who you are to him.

What are the qualities you will give away next? When you’ve crossed out another 30 percent of your qualities you can move on to the 3rd bridge…

 


 

So, you’re about to cross Bridge Number 3 and it’s time for the final visit to your list of qualities. What final 30 percent of your qualities will you give away? Think hard because the 10 percent you are left with is all you will have for the rest of your journey. What really matters to you? What is the essence of you that you MUST KEEP?

And when you’ve crossed out the final 30% of your qualities you can freely move forward…?


 

Reflection Exercise

Time to wrap up your travels by looking at what is left on your list of qualities.

  • What do you value MOST about yourself – your top 10 percent?
  • What do you notice as you review your most valued qualities?
  • Now consider the qualities you got rid of FIRST. What percent of your time do you spend on these? ……… %
  • What about the qualities you’re left with? What percent of time do you spend on these? ……… %
  •  Where do you place your focus in life? Why do you think that is?
  • Where do you place to place your focus and energy from now on?  How will you do things differently so you can?
  • What else have you learned about yourself from this exercise?

To be aware and in alignment with who you are will always produce more satisfying results.  You will have more, do more and be more of what is important to you; and inspire others with your confident go-getter energy.  Knowing who you and why it matters will allow you to move from the day to day drain to a place of flow and opportunity. Who doesn’t want a bit more of that? Thanks Trevor the Troll 😉

Kirsty 🙂

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100% presence will improve performance and health

Mindfulness and stillness have been adapted from Buddhism. The field of psychotherapy has been interested in Buddhist psychology for some time because of the noted impressive results.

The potential of these mindfulness and acceptance based approaches have bought in a new wave of cognitive behavioural treatments and support for many emotional and mental issues, including:

  • Depression, especially preventing relapse
  • Anxiety disorders,
  • Stress,
  • Behaviour problems,
  • Interpersonal conflict,
  • Confusion,
  • Despair, and
  • Assistance with mood regulation.

I describe mindfulness or stillness as giving something 100% of my attention in that moment. Three simple ways you can begin to practice the art of being 100% present are –

  1. Be 100% aware of every flavour that is released as you eat your next snack or meal; or what it feels like right now as you sit on the chair and feel the clothes against your skin.
  2. Just sit and be aware of your breathing for a few minutes. This will still your busy mind.
  3. Consciously soften each muscle in your body, from the tips of the toes to the top of your head. Feel the tension oozing out and disappearing.

When doing any of these activities, if thoughts pop up imagine them floating past as you would a bubble, you don’t have to catch it, it floats by and then vanishes.

Learning and mastering how to make every second count and being 100% present will improve your life, reduce stress-related disorders, increase feelings of stability, and give you more energy and focus – who wouldn’t want a bit more of that?

I have learned the value and benefits of mindfulness and stillness exercises on my mental, emotional, and biological health. Once I could develop a regular mindfulness practise successfully, (quite a few attempts failed miserably), I found that life got a bit easier, my thinking was clearer, and the things that seemed so big became inconsequential. This in turn had a dramatic effect on my productivity and performance.

A quote from Buddha explains this nicely— “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

Activity

Stop, and pause for a moment right now.  Consider just how valuable this present moment is. This moment is all there truly is, and it is your only point of power and the only place you choose to act or do nothing.

Kirsty 🙂

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Reach out if you are struggling

Some people still think that it’s shameful if they have a mental illness, are experiencing a loss of control emotionally or irrational and dark thinking. There are those that assume it shows personal weakness or a failing. If it’s children who have a mental illness, some conclude it reflects the failings of the parents. Stigma and discrimination are the two biggest obstacles to a productive solution-based conversation about mental health.

I have had more people thank me than judge me because I have been so open about my stuff. I have had more people begin to cope again and even love life again, because I, and others like me, have shared our stuff and not hidden it behind the idea of right and wrong.

Mental health is becoming more recognised and discussed however, there is still some intolerance and small mindedness.  There always will be those people who cannot get out of their own way, but acceptance is growing.

A supportive program I have come across, delivered by Mates in Construction, is called the 4C’s. The third C was Caring and the fourth C was Courageous.

It stated in the part for caring— “I am accountable for my actions and actively care for the safety of myself and others—Care about the welfare of my neighbours …. Please keep an eye on your workmates and if someone is acting out of character, or saying things like I don’t see the point anymore, or there is no hope, please reach out to them and discreetly ask them if they’re okay, and if they’re not, help them get in contact with professional resources.”

Courage included the actions of— “I will speak up, provide positive feedback to my peers, and prevent incidents by utilising stop work authority and coaching. This also includes the courage to reach out to a work mate and ask them if they’re okay.”

If you find yourself in the gut wrenching or numb place of despair and your cup is empty, approach your mates, your family and even have a chat to a professional. Everyone at some time is running on empty and it takes courage to ask for help, to make the changes you need to make it to the next day.

From my years of experience personally and professionally, I have found that if you are not okay, nothing else will be, no matter what skill you adopt or distraction you create. The relationship you have with yourself will determine how you think and feel, how you deal with challenges, as well as the relationship you have with everyone else in your life. Your level of self-esteem and the value you put on yourself will determine your performance and productivity.

Activity

Just check in right now. Firstly, take a long slow deep breath. Feel the breath go in through your nose, travel down your throat, fill your lungs, and expand in your belly. Let it sit there for just a moment then exhale, blowing all the air out and as you do feeling a sense of release and calm. Do this a couple more times. Slow and controlled, and with an awareness of how you are already much more relaxed.

Now that you are more calm and centred, ask a few self-check-in questions—

  • How are you feeling?
  • How much do you like yourself?
  • How much do you understand yourself?
  • What are you good at? What do you love doing?
  • What are your favourite things?
  • Do you reward yourself?
  • What do you dislike?
  • Are you a friend to you, or are you your own enemy?
  • Close your eyes and imagine you can see your cup, is it full, empty or half way?
  • Are you aware of your thoughts and the way you think most of the time? What about now?

Take a few minutes to make some notes on your thoughts and findings.

If you discover that you are struggling with something, reach out to another who will listen and support you get back on track. I am here to support you, so please, reach out.

Kirsty 🙂

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I Don’t Have Time

As I am surrounded by paper drafting out my first semester assessments due in a week, I realise that I promised Exisle Publishing a book review for I Don’t Have Time, by Emma Grey and Audrey Thomas. 

How timely. Here I am wondering how I will ‘fit it all in’ and the first page I flicked to was page 18, a story of one of their friends, in her forties, who was going to University and was considering whether to keep going!

As I continue to turn the pages I am blown away by three things –

  • How relatable, real and motivating their stories are
  • The quality of humour (who doesn’t like a book that makes you laugh out loud?)
  • The simple, yet effective, 15 minute strategies, experiments and tasks

After reading about all the mindset gremlins (and nodding through most of it) I came away with a renewed sense of I am good enough, I don’t have to be perfect and there are 250 ways to wash dishes – so maybe my way isn’t always the right way!

Thank you, Emma, and Audrey for a book that reminds us we are good enough, we are not on our own, we don’t have to always be right and it is never too late!

I highly recommend this book, over many other life and time managing books, as it will gently, systematically and encouragingly direct you to ditch the overwhelm, get unstuck and begin living the life you love.

Get your copy now or want to know more – RRP $29.99

Kirsty 🙂

 

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A strong support network is vital

Research suggests a strong peer network in the workplace, and having close and supportive relationships personally and intimately, helps individuals live longer and can increase happiness and health by 80%.

Researchers from Flinders University, found that people with the highest number of close friends outlived those with the least friends by 22 % – on average, living to the age of 79, compared to 65. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data on death rates shows people living in intimate relationships (including those in married and de facto relationships); – both men and women – have lower death rates than single people in almost all age groups. A 2009 study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends’ women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to lead joyful lives.

In a world that seems to be more isolating than ever, and with each emerging online social networking tool introduced, people are growing further estranged – so the above points and statistics are more important than ever to take in and take action on. If you don’t feel inspired by those figures, then include the recent studies that are showing there is a link between the increase in depression, social isolation, stress and hostility, and the lack of supportive relationships people have.

When some of my clients first come to me and report feeling isolated, and have a limited professional and social support network, I find they can also be suffering from stress, emotional issues, and possibly even physical illness. Most of them are finding difficulty creating healthy relationships with others. They admit to having a lack of confidence and self esteem, because they have been let down or rejected in the past, and therefore bounce around the wrong people and relationships – and the cycle continues. This is having a dramatic impact on their health, happiness and success.

A fantastic resource is Blue Zones by writer and explorer Dan Buettner. He spent his life traveling the world in search of answers to longevity and living a fulfilling life. Buettner argues that relationships are really the key to lifelong happiness, saying, “the happiest people socialize about seven hours a day,” and that “you’re three times more likely to be happy if you are married … and each new friend will boost your happiness about 10 percent.” He also explains that good relationships in the workplace are so important; adding that, “the biggest determinant of whether or not you’ll like your job is if you have a best friend there, more so than how much you’re paid.”

Having a hand to hold as you go through life makes the difficulties and challenging times easier to deal with. When things don’t turn out as expected, knowing that your friends, partner, family members and co-workers have your back allows you to go through the storms and come out the other side, feeling okay instead of broken.

I think we are in a social and relationship crisis period. I decided that I want to do my bit to end the isolation, stress and loneliness for as many people as I could, so I spend many of my days helping people to be able to create excellent relationships, friendships and networks that support them to excel personally and professionally.

Look around you now, think about your last week, think about the plans you have for the coming week. Are you surrounding yourself with people who uplift you and inspire you? If not, search for those people, connect in person, make plans for catch ups, have conversations where you are really interested in what others are saying, and get out there and support your community. If you know someone who is experiencing loneliness or doesn’t quite know how to build networks and friendships, help them and reach out to them. Your health and happiness is determined by these connections, so make it a priority.

Kirsty 🙂

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The Year of The Rooster – Chinese New Year

Gung hay fat choy! Happy new year!

Chinese New Year, often called the Spring Festival, is the most important holiday in China and Chinese communities around the world.

Gung hay fat choy is how Cantonese speakers wish you a happy new year—literally “wishing you great happiness and prosperity.” In China, the official language is Mandarin. Gong xi fa cai is how Mandarin-speakers wish you a happy new year—literally “wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year.”

For more than 3,000 years, Chinese New Year is the beginning of a new year in the Chinese calendar. The historic Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, meaning dates are determined by both the moon (lunar) and the sun (solar). Months begin with every new moon, when the moon is not visible in the night sky. The new year starts on the new moon nearest the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, sometime between January 21 and February 20.

The Chinese New Year 2017 begins on January 28. The festivities end two weeks later, on what is known as the Lantern Festival.

During the Chinese New Year’s celebrations, there are many traditional activities, some local and others celebrated universally. The Chinese believe that as they enter a new year, they should start a new beginning. They clean their houses, pay off all their debts, purchase new clothes, paint their doors, and even get new haircuts to have a fresh start for the new year. Homes throughout China are decorated with special banners, many of which are red and gold; the traditional representations of happiness and prosperity.¹

One very fun tradition is exchanging gifts. A traditional present that is given is small red envelopes filled with “lucky money”. These envelopes are given to children by their family and friends. Every year since my children were little I give them a red envelope with $5 in it and a message to wish them well through the next year.

The Year of the Fire Rooster I have read will be a powerful one, with no middle of the road when it comes to moving forward. It is a year themed with much success, triumphs and great new beginnings.  Impressions will count, and you’ll want to be clear on your intentions concerning love, money, and business. In a Rooster Year, all the Chinese animals can reap great rewards by tapping into Rooster traits – loyalty, commitment, hard work, family values, and outstanding appearances are just some of the characteristics that will be rewarded this year.

Why would I celebrate Chinese New Year?  I find the colour, the energy, the meaning and the celebrations hard to dismiss.  I enjoy another focused opportunity to begin again with purpose. My favourite colour is red, which in Chinese culture symbolises good fortune and joy, so I can dress for the occasion!  And, who doesn’t love a good Dragon dance?

If you are celebrating, enjoy your festivities – if you are not, you could take advantage of the new moon energy of the beginning of a new lunar cycle and focus on what you want and plan out your actions to achieve it.

Why not celebrate more and worry less?  Why not feel that good fortune is afoot?  Why not take every opportunity to refocus and make plans?  I know in my home this weekend you will see lots of red and hear many wishes of Gung hay fat choy!

Kirsty 🙂

¹Ref. and for more information – http://www.nationalgeographic.org/media/gung-hay-fat-choy/

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Be Conscious of Your Spending – Is This Bringing Value to Your Life?

The more we have, the more we spend. It is human nature. I know that in this household we stopped being so aware of the cost of groceries, and whether we had gone over budget or not when our income increased a few years ago. I didn’t hesitate as much as I previously would have when the children wanted money for outings, takeaway or other consumables.

What ended up happening was all potential saving capacity, all that potential to create meaningful wealth, decreased because we got used to spending the higher income and create debts to match. We weren’t any happier surrounded by all the stuff.

Once I realised this, I re-evaluated how we were spending and now practise a certain mindset around money. I ask myself, is what I am spending money on an investment or adding value to my life? If the answer is yes, I do it; if no, I ask myself, do I really want it? Is what I am going to spend money on going to make me money or add value to my life? This is called conscious, or intentional spending.

Conscious spending means we think about and choose what we are going to spend our money on. We analyse where we are currently spending our money and make goal-orientated changes and budget-based decisions.

Whether it is for going out, saving, investing, bills, looking after our health and fitness, holidays, schooling, rent, or mortgage—it is about having a plan that takes us towards our goals instead of feeling limited, restricted, and wasteful.

My husband and I both have various academic achievements, are members of industry-regulated bodies, and I am a keen business networker. We have supported each other in making these types of educational choices as it has proven to be an investment that pays good dividends back into our income increasing capacities.

Some like to invest in education, or antique furniture, or designer clothes, or travel, or property, or into their family and community, and some in wellbeing. As long as it is meaningful enough that when money is paid out there is a feeling of satisfaction and possible future growth and value—then it is conscious spending.

Seven helpful questions to ask when the household income increases –

  1. Have we shopped around for the best price? (Just because we have money, we can still buy the bargains).
  2. Are the needs of the household and each family member taken care of before the wants?
  3. Are we creating memories or debts?
  4. Are we consciously spending in line with our budget?
  5. Have we got the right advice, the right insurances, and the right bank accounts?
  6. Are we investing in ourselves through education or health?
  7. How can we support our community or a meaningful charity organisation? People who do this often say that doing something for others seems to bring good stuff back to them and a sense of fulfilment.

I am very mindful and intentional of what I spend, make room in our budget to support our community, and love a good bargain. Recently I bought a small coffee machine that was on special. I worked out that I gained back the cost of the machine within a month because I was not buying a takeaway coffee every morning.

I am not saying to steer clear of indulging in and enjoying occasional treats, that big holiday or buying those gorgeous shoes. I am suggesting being mindful and goal-orientated of how money is being spent. Enjoy the longer-term reward for your hard work and effort; and be thankful, purposeful, and masterful around your finances.

Top Tip – Ask the question before each purchase, “Is this bringing value into my life?”

How can you be more conscious and intentional with your spending this year?

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Three Minutes that Changed My Life!

A couple of years ago I had one of those game changer (or light bulb) moments. Life was challenging, exhausting, disappointing and frustrating!

A friend came across a You Tube link and emailed it to me with the message, ‘Don’t know why, but you came into my mind when I was watching this and wanted to share it with you.’ She is a very close friend and I trust her hunches without hesitation, so I watched it that day. It was a moment where everything just fell into place, it all made sense. I felt like I was just filled back up again and no longer running on empty.

The epiphany came from the question asked in the video, “Is your cup full?” The You Tube video featured IyanlaVanzant, who is a best-selling author and a regular on Oprah TV. She spoke about putting yourself first and being strong in life. She said that doing this is not selfish it is self-full.

Iyanla said, “It’s self-full to be first, to be as good as possible to you. To take care of you, keep you whole and healthy. That doesn’t mean you disregard everything and everyone. But you want to come with your cup full. You know: My cup runneth over. What comes out of the cup is for y’all. What’s in the cup is mine. But I’ve got to keep my cup full.”

From that moment I am always aware of how full my cup is – and filling it when needed.  How full is your cup?  What can you do today to replenish it?

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