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Kirsty writes regularly here

Transform your workplace stress into success

Transform your workplace stress into success-2

Workplace stress complaints are becoming more common. Whether an employee of a large organisation or a sole-preneur, the effects of workplace stress can result in more than a reduction in your productivity.

When the effects of workplace stress begin to take hold you generally feel irritable and anxious, fatigued and lacking the energy needed to get through the day-to-day responsibilities. Next stress will attack your ability to concentrate and remember things, which can lead to a loss of interest in work and boredom. This moves on to frequent muscle tension, headaches, illness and problems sleeping. After a while social withdrawal will be evident and some use alcohol or drugs to cope. I am getting stressed just reading that – and I can associate it with some of my past workplace experiences and those of my colleagues. Can you?

In workplaces where stress is an issue there are higher rates of absenteeism and staff turnover, reduced productivity, increased customer dissatisfaction and increased health compensation claims.

Common workplace stressors are: –

  • How secure you feel in your job or business.
  • Your workload is too much or there are constant distractions.
  • You have no say in your workload and the work you are asked to do – or there is confusion over priorities and deadlines.
  • Your job does not offer you flexibility and you cannot balance work and home life.
  • Your work is boring or not stimulating you – you have lost your passion or purpose.
  • You have too little or too much contact with people.
  • You don’t have supportive relationships with co-workers, supervisors and/or clients. You may feel the victim of bullying, intimidation or inappropriate ‘humour’.
  • You don’t have a clear understanding of what is expected of you. There is minimum praise, feedback and positive conversations about areas of improvement.
  • Any changes are not communicated clearly, effectively and encouragingly.
  • There are no or little opportunities and support for training, learning and professional development.

The causes of stress can be many and varied and each person will experience and deal with situations differently. The key is to acknowledge that unless you take action any stress over a extended period of time will adversely impact your productivity, relationships, health and wellbeing.

My top five tips for dealing with, managing and reducing stress:-

  1. Take care of yourself so that you are more resilient and stress resistant.
    • Be mindful of eating to promote your health, strength and energy.
    • Drink enough water each day to keep hydrated.
    • Exercise regularly; even a short walk in a park at lunchtime will be of benefit.
    • Get enough quality sleep, so that you can recover from the pressures of the day and feel more energised each morning.
    • Have a relaxation practise where you can relax your whole body and release any tension in your muscles.
    • Take time during your day to take some deep breaths. Shallow breathing tells your body it is stressed where as deep breathing sends the message that you are calm.
  2. Be organised and focused to minimise overwhelm.
    • Have a diary and lists of priorities.
    • Don’t over commit yourself or attempt to multi task.
    • Include regular breaks/downtime. This time is important; it does not take away from your productivity, you will find this time increases your output at work and in your personal life.
    • If you are unable to complete a task, ask for help, delegate or approach your supervisor or client and suggest another way to get task completed. Don’t leave it till it is too late.
    • Take the ‘elephant beetle’ approach – if you are feeling a task is unpleasant or concerning you, get it out of the way first thing – minimise procrastination.
  3. Cultivate and encourage a good relationship with yourself and others.
    • Recognise your stressors and your emotions. The trick to managing stress is identifying triggers before they have a chance to affect your results.
    • Have a positive attitude and laugh regularly, a sure fire way to reduce the pressure build up.
    • Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust. Keep specific rather than generalise about the issues and situations you find challenging.
    • If you are unsure, ask. If you think you have missed something, clarify. If you need help…. Ask.
    • Notice and give praise for good work performance, to yourself and others in your workplace. There are always opportunities to recognise a job well done.
    • If you would like opportunities for professional development, actively seek workplace policy on this. If there is none, find out if one could be developed, and point out the benefit to the business and yourself. If you are self employed regular professional development is a must –not a maybe.
    • Be a part of social interaction in the workplace and business circles. Keep it appropriate, positive and frequent.
  4. Be clear on the values and direction of your workplace or business, and how working in it and on it benefits you. There is a reason you are there, focus on that rather than the things that drain you.
  5. Always take a balanced approach to your work and your life – time for your health, your family, your home, your friends, your work, your interests, your community and yourself!

What could you be doing differently this week to reduce your workplace stress – or the stress of a colleague, friend or family member?

Kirsty 🙂

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Fathers Day when you are Separated By Work

Fathers Day

All families that are separated by work have to be organised and prepare for special occasions in advance. Fathers Day 2016, in Australia, is Sunday 4th of September. It can be a minefield of loneliness, isolation and frustration – a time when the distance from family feels massive for those dads who are separated by work on the day that is chosen to recognise Dads.

We are a FIFO family and this year my husband will be home for Fathers Day – the first time in five years. We will treasure this time together, especially as he has missed all family birthdays this year and flew out at 6am on Easter morning.

Our family, I am proud to say, is mostly happy, functional and very connected. We are well practiced in being able to make events special, even when one of us is not be physically present. Here are our top five tips for Fathers Day when you are apart.

  1. Eliminate the pressure – there is no perfect way to celebrate Fathers Day. Did you know it isn’t even the same day around the world? So, instead of feeling down and miserable all day why not make the most of it in other ways. If a family member is feeling the pressure, listen to their concerns and help them see it in another way.
  2. Make a time to connect in ways you can – phone, Skype, text, send a video and send pictures. Be funny, be serious, and be thoughtful.
  3. Loud and Proud Gratitude – Whether you are the kids, dads or mums, each of you can take turns to share what you are grateful for. What makes Dad special, what makes your kids special to you, what is it that Mum does that makes Dad’s life easier?
  4. Praise and presents – Plan ahead and have notes hidden in luggage and around the house. Have packages of special things ready to be posted so they arrive for the day. Get everyone involved.
  5. Move Father’s Day – Which is the Sunday closest that you are all together? Why not make that a day filled with celebrating Dad?

Most parents I speak to aren’t so much affected by how they feel missing out on special occasions or days – they are more concerned, and plagued with elements of guilt, as they worry about how their children may feel. The school had a fathers day stall, other parents are planning a big day out and the media hype around Fathers Day is relentless. Here is a secret many parents eventually discover – kids can survive anything, and heal, if they have parents who listen and support them processing their emotions.

Children look to their parents to understand the world around them. Instead of making the separation on a specific date a negative one, make it mean something different – the surprise package preparation, making funny videos, planning your own personal Fathers Day when you are all together again. You will be teaching your child how to be resourceful in their thinking and actions when there are life obstacles in the way.

How can your family be different and create special celebrations and moments this year for your Fathers Day – or could it be Fathers Month?

Keep smiling and thriving, Kirsty 🙂

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“Who would like this $100 bill?”

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Sometimes you read a story at the right time and it can give life the perspective it needs.  I wanted to share one of my favourites with you today to inspire you to feel your worth no matter how dropped, crumpled and ground into the dirt you may feel.

A $100 Dollar Bill – Author Unknown

“A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $100 bill.  In the room of 200, he asked.  “Who would like this $100 bill?” Hands started going up. He said,  “I am going to give this $100 to one of you – but first, let me do this.”

He proceeded to crumple the 100-dollar note up. He then asked.  “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air.

“Well,” he replied,  “what if I do this?” He dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe.  He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty.  “Now, who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air.

“My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson.  No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $100. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.

We feel as though we are worthless; but no matter what happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to God and to those who love you. The worth of our lives comes, not in what we do, what we have or whom we know, but by…WHO WE ARE.

You are so special in the entire world, there is only one you — don’t ever forget it. Remember, you may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.”

Keep smiling and remind yourself each day that you are important and today is not going to be the day you give up!

Kirsty 🙂

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Good business relationships means growth

good business relationships means growth & success

Most business owners have learnt that even with the best products and business practices, it is the professional relationships you develop that will grow your business and lead to your success.  In this post I will share some tips on how to identify and build strong relationships that in turn will increase your success.

It is vital to form supportive relationships as your businesses grows. The way you interact and relate to others will have a direct positive or negative effect when it comes to your results and building the know, like, trust factor. As your business grows and responsibilities increase, your relationships and contact with customers, suppliers, competitors, industry leaders, financiers and professional mentors|advisers must also grow.

So how can you gain positive and supportive relationships within your business and encourage others to know you, like you and trust you? Here are my top four tips that has helped my business to continue to grow and expand, change and reinvent, each year since it began nearly two decades ago.

  1. Encourage Honest Feedback
    A good relationship needs clear and open communication channels of how everyone is performing. Encourage constructive criticism and be brave enough to hear what your clients, collegues and team members suggest are ways your business can perform better.
  2. Listen More Than You Talk
    Always clearly convey the strengths, features and benefits of your business so that you can impress potential clients and collaborators, and ultimately get more business – yet don’t forget to be a good listener. What will set you apart from your competitors is that you take the time to listen to your clients, team and colleagues more than you talk; and take time to really understand where they are coming from. Most people naturally want to be heard and tell their story. Being known as a good listener is the kind of behavior that leads to referrals and long-term business success.
  3. Make A Routine
    Create a system to ensure that not too much time passes before you connect with your contacts, such as a formal database or spread sheet. With the explosion of social media tools it’s never been easier to keep in touch, so include this in your follow up strategy. Most of your contacts are people you don’t know well but who may become clients or collaborators in the future. It is worthwhile regularly connecting with them so that you keep top of their mind and you never know who they will bump into that needs your services even if they don’t.       If you’ve spoken briefly to someone at a conference or a networking event have a follow up routine in place.
  4. Be Trustworthy And Build Trusting Relationships
    So a person or group now know you, they like you and the last, and possibly most important thing to do, is to build trust. Relationships built on trust are the most personal, valuable and often the longest-lasting ones. Trust is built on a foundation of honesty, genuineness and a feeling of rapport and synergy. You may have frequently worked together or you have had many interactions with one another that has gone well. The most profitable business deals are the ones that are made through trusted, and often long term, relationships.

How can you build great business relationships? How can you be more consistent in showing up, being seen, and getting to know others on a deeper level? Networking, meeting for coffee, chatting on the phone and email contact all take time that is unbillable hours – yet after a while the return on your time investment will be well worth it.

Kirsty 🙂

 

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Looking after yourself – Guilt free!

Looking after yourself

“I don’t have enough time to look after myself, and anyway, it is selfish to take time out for me when I have a family to look after – isn’t it?” A statement I hear often from many of my clients and friends. There was a time I even said this.

I realised a long time ago through my own parenting experience, my business and the many parents I come across, there is one major factor that gets overlooked – if you are not okay, how can anything else be okay. If you are feeling run down, overwhelmed or undervalued why not try something new? I am going to share with you how you can get out of the old belief systems of selflessness and move into looking after self – being self -full.

What does self-full mean? A few years ago I watched a You Tube video that featured Iyanla Vanzant, who is a best-selling author. The question was asked, “Is your cup full?” 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.” Hearing this was a light bulb moment for me – it changed the way I parented, gave to others, and especially how I looked after me.

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. This is the first area to renew and polish up to fill your cup.

I like to use the metaphor of vehicles, as I believe life is a journey and people generally feel the silent and invisible push to move forward in their lives. Let’s look at the family car. Most people feel a responsibility to keep their car in good condition, up to a safe standard, using the right fuel and properly serviced so that they, and their family, can get from A – B in comfort and safety. The car expenses and upkeep are put in the budget and scheduled, because this is important to have this asset in top condition.

You can view yourself as important as your mode of transport. You are in charge of getting you and your family safely from A – B (mentally, emotionally and physically). To do this you need to be in good condition, getting the right fuel and services. You need to view yourself as an asset to the family unit and most importantly have resources of time and energy to move yourself and family forward.

I will share with you my top nine ways I keep in top condition, and enjoy the ride.

  1. Every morning before I get out of bed, I affirm myself and my family, I see my daily plan play out in my mind the way I would like it to go, make any adjustments, take a deep breath and get out of bed to start my day.
  2. I communicate regularly with my family and friends on what is going on for me, and ask for support when I need it.
  3. I make sure I am properly fuelled! I drink enough water, I eat healthy food and I exercise in a way that is right for me. I find yoga and meditation keeps me mentally, emotionally and physically strong.
  4. I have regular activities and interests that are just for me. I pamper myself quarterly. I benefit so much from acupuncture and massage treatments that help with tension build up and tightness.
  5. I catch up with friends regularly who inspire me, make me laugh, support me and align with my life values.
  6. I make learning a priority. I find keeping my mind active and expanding, either through formal or informal education, keeps me happier, healthier and feeling more resourceful when challenges show up. I love the saying by Charlie Tremendous Jones – “You will be the same person in five years time that you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
  7. I have learnt I don’t have to be Super Mum – I instead get Super Support! Whether it is paid help, help from friends or within the community – I think about the best thing I can do to leverage my time or support myself and my children through certain issues, and then I ask.
  8. I am constantly checking in with myself, and asking, “what is the best use of my time right now.”
  9. I take time each week to celebrate my achievements, discoveries, my trials and my ability to overcome them. I acknowledge that through my mistakes I get closer to getting it right. I appreciate the lessons from life and my family. By doing this I can readjust and move forward easier.

Many years ago, while I was watching TV feeding one of my babies, I heard a celebrity who was being interviewed say that what he remembered and treasured most about his mother, and what he believed contributed to his massive success, wasn’t how much she loved him; it was how much she loved life. This simple statement struck a cord in me at the time. So much so, that since then I have strived to live my life in a way that shows abundance, resourcefulness and moments filled with joy and laughter – and that I am here to get the most out of each and every moment. In doing this, I have seen that it has passed on certain attitudes and beliefs to my children, family and friends.

My sincere wish is that your cup is always full, you can love life, and you can make looking after you a guilt free priority.

Kirsty 🙂

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Achieve Your Goals

Vacation on an islandMost people feel after setting goals an enthusiasm and new lease on life. They are on purpose; they know their why, and know what is important. At this point, I like to remind everyone that with change can come obstacles.

Many have been stumbling down their current path for years, and then a whole new direction is decided. Many areas of their lives will now undergo change—from health habits, social relationships, work/career, and even routines.

Here are my top four tips to stay on track –

  1. A comfort zone is just a known zone in your mind—a set way of thinking, seeing and doing things. You will have to get out of it if you want new stuff. Einstein said, “The definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It takes about 28 days to form a new habit and be rid of an old one. Commit to a new behaviour and actions that support your goals for just 28 days. Then do it again for the next 28 days.
  2. Get rid of the obstacles and mental clutter by asking, “what can I stop, minimise, keep doing, do more of, and start, to make my life flow?” The quality of your life is the quality of questions you ask.
  3. Be kind to yourself and be flexible. Some days are better than others are. If you have a bad one, don’t get mad, just decide to be better the next day and improve. Psychologists are finding that self-compassion may be the most important life skill—it fosters resilience, courage, energy, and creativity. The little things you do on a daily basis create change in your life.
  4. Trust and invest in you. You are going to be so excited and focused on your goals and will notice opportunities turn up to meet every step. I always trust it when I get a hunch to ring someone, follow up on something, or start an activity. I advise people to invest their time and energy, ?and money in themselves—their education, their health, things that make them feel good—and it is amazing how much easier life, and goal achievement gets for them.

Conquer fear, limited thinking, outdated habits, and negative inner dialogue and the rest is easy. I encourage you to continually improve, continually reinvent, listen to your inner ideas and inspirational thoughts, serve others, and persist.

Kirsty 🙂

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3 D’s – Do, Delegate, Dump

Do

I can get very busy distracting myself from the daily grind of life pressures. With no one here to see what I am doing, as my office is at home and my husband works away, I can get caught up in meaningless tasks that do not contribute to any level of achievement or feelings of satisfaction. I often remind myself that how I am using my time compared to how I could be using my time is completely different.

Social media is a classic example of time slipping away unchecked—where magically 10 minutes turns into 2 hours and during this time the tasks on the to do list did not magically get done.

To overcome the distractions I follow the 3 D’s. They are –

Do—The tasks you must do or want to do yourself.

Once you have identified these –

  • Prioritise tasks in order of importance and urgency.
  • Group similar tasks together, for example all phone calls, appointments, housework, play time, you time etc.
  • Make the best of your prime time—the time when you have the most energy during the day and the least interruptions.

Delegate—Get someone else to do some tasks.

I am living the FIFO (fly in fly out) life, if my husband was home I would ask him to do certain tasks, or they would be his job. He is not here some of the time so I will ask my daughter, her boyfriend and close friends to help. Tasks that can wait till my husband gets home go on his list that I have on the fridge awaiting his return.

To delegate chosen tasks is helping others as well as yourself. I encourage my family to think as part of a team, and when one team member can’t, the others step up. In the beginning I found it hard to let go of tasks, for many reasons including being judged as not coping and the fear of not being noticed as a super, important and busy person. I had to look at it another way—I had extra time for other things I wanted to do and I had shared an opportunity for someone to learn something new that they could be appreciated for it.

Dump—If it is of no value, get rid of it.

Be aware throughout the day of the time eaters. Decide if what you are doing is taking you closer to your goals. The time eaters are the activities that take you off track or are not contributing to feeling happy, healthy, and productive. Good examples are—

  • Social media pages and games,
  • Those wonderful warm, funny and fuzzy emails that are sent to you,
  • Too much TV,
  • Annoying and draining people, or worry. ?If it is not on the to-do list—worry is rarely on a to-do list— dump it. If family time or exercise time is lost due to being in front of a screen—turn it off.

Your turn – What can you be doing, delegating and dumping to be more productive?

Write down three things you can start to do differently from today and watch your stress reduce and results increase.

Kirsty 🙂

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Book Review – Mindfulness on the Run

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Mindfulness on the Run – Dr Chantal Hofstee

The power of mindfulness is something I have lived, learnt and taught over the past two decades – so when the opportunity presented itself from Exisle Publishing to review this book I jumped at the chance. My first thought was, “what a brilliant title, promising to allow even more people to feel the benefits of living a mindful life.”

I opened the book and by page 10 I was hooked. The way Dr Hofstee relates key topics like understanding your brain, processing emotions, changing stressful thoughts, the mind-body connection and overcoming blocks is outstanding.

As the pages flowed and an understanding and practice was established for your own life, she then moved onto showing how you could expand into Mindful communication, relationships and conflict resolution.

Each chapter is supported by very real examples and exercises that are explained simply to encourage the reader to practice immediately. My personal favourites were the on-the-run tips. As the book progressed learning’s flowed from previous section and expanded into the next.

I will definitely be recommending this well written and researched practical handbook to others who are seeking a resource that is easy to read, informative and supports their busy lifestyles.

Kirsty 🙂

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Get Organised – Plans to be on Purpose

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Everyone needs times dedicated to pausing and updating their life and family plan. There is truth in the saying, “For every minute spent organising, an hour is earned.” Instead of being on fast-forward, rewind, or even continuous play—stop, plan, and get organised.

At this point, I have seen many run to the hills of disorganisation, the land of the known and familiar. Instead of planning and implementing, they procrastinate. I challenge you to eat the elephant beetle—which means conquering the hardest and least desirable task first—so you can forever overcome disharmony and overwhelm.

There are countless time management and organisational resources out there—books, blogs, experts, and online forms. Some will work and some won’t. To get you started here are some of my suggested organisation and routine activities. My biggest piece of advice though—as time never changes, yet what can change are the choices made in the time available, always practise choice management, rather than time management.

Have a weekly plan, which creates a flexible routine.

A routine provides the freedom to focus on what is being done in the moment, knowing that all the activities to be accomplished will be done efficiently and effectively—the right things, in the right order. Many stumble whilst doing the right things in the wrong order. Meaningful routines create a happier, calmer, and less stressful environment.

Without a plan or routine days turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into months it all becomes a blur – the purpose of it all can be drowned out by the constant demands. Many times, I have viewed my days as a stream of things to do and busy-ness.

Activity

Take a moment now and reflect on your past week. Each week should contain all or some of the following activities and tasks. Did yours?

  • You time—reading, relaxing, entertainment, rest, hobby, fun, gardening, meditating, journaling, and time to generate new ideas.
  • Body time—Exercise, Yoga, massage, sport.
  • Connecting with others—Family, friends, sport, volunteer or community involvement.
  • Parenting duties—School drop offs and pick-ups, sporting events, tutoring, general running around, homework, fun time together, connecting and being present with your child/ren.
  • Home duties—cleaning, maintaining, general upkeep of house, groceries, finances, ironing, cooking.
  • Study—Assignments, credentialing, recognition from a regulatory body, seminars, researching, continual learning.
  • Work—Employed position.
  • Work—Own business. Delivering the product/ service that is core to your role, admin, course/product development, finances, networking, and professional collaboration.

I would like to point out that you time is at the top of this list. You time is commonly the first thing to go or be down graded to an activity of least importance. If this is happening for you or a member of your family, take time to re-prioritise. Without looking after you first, any routine is difficult to maintain and run-down people get sick.

An example of my weekly planner (which is pictured below) is printed on a sheet of paper I have on my pin-board. I like choosing a different colour for each area, as indicated in the picture, as this has more impact visually for me. In each coloured section I also have written what particular activity it is that I plan to do in that time.

Time Choice Management Schedule

This is a valuable tool for me and has been used by many of my clients. You may like to make your own, change colours, times, or activities. What matters is that this gives you a chance to view your whole week, what you do and how you can do it better.

Have a list.

I love a good list. I have an overall to-do list, a daily to-do list, a grocery list, a work list, a home list, list for gifts, and the list goes on! From watching me make lists over the years my children now have the list-making bug. My youngest son has lists of movies he wants to see, a list for Santa (usually started in April), and a list of jobs to do. My daughter makes lists for presents (she is a gift- giver by nature), a shopping list, which she calls a budget, and a dream list.

A question that I ask myself at numerous times during the day is, “What is the best use of my time right now?” This question is an opportunity to look at my list and see what I could be doing in the time I have right now and the energy I have available to me. Without my lists, I can very easily be distracted and taken off task.

Lists and weekly planning are the most effective way to improve overall performance, both personally and professionally. Wasted time is irreplaceable.

Stick with it to create a habit.

Daily disciplines create the changes in our lives. It takes about 28 days to create new habits. At about week two resistance, distraction, and lack of focus raise their unhelpful heads. This is the testing time. This is the time to push that bit harder, knowing why it is important to be organised and on purpose. Seek and gain support and take one day at a time. You can do it!

K x

 

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Collaborating to Help Others Thrive

DSC_2218I recently had the amazing pleasure of working together with Sophee of Sophee Smiles to create a blog to support couples in any type of long distance relationship – whether married to an adventurous jet-setter like Sophee, in love with a FIFO worker like me, struggling with your partner’s deployments, living in a different city to your loved one, travelling regularly yourself or anything in between, this blog post is filled with guidance, support, tips and understanding.

I adore collaborating, and my business has grown dramatically over the years due to these partnerships.  Whether it be recommendations, working together on projects, getting help, linking people together or sourcing experts to contribute to my publications and referral lists – collaborating is an essential for all business people.  It is also a must for volunteers, friends, people who are separated by work, and within the community – how else can a joint effort and better results be realised?

Charlie ‘Tremendous’ Jones said, “You will be the same person in five years time as you are now, if not for the books you read and the people you meet.” I am certainly blessed to meet and work with many amazing people, which in turn allows me to have more, be more and do more.

So I encourage you to embrace collaborative partnerships and create new opportunities for yourself and others this week.  What have you got to loose? What could you have to gain?

Here are some tips to help keep your long-distance relationship happy and healthy, by Sophee and me.

Kirsty 🙂

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