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Book Review: PUG (Philosophical Universal Guidance)

When Exisle Publishing asked me to review PUG I wondered whether it was a children’s book, a book for Pug owners (the dog breed) or, something else.

What I found was it was something else entirely!

The author (apparently, no ordinary Pug) hopes that through sharing his or her thoughts with the reader, they are inspired to be happier, more optimistic and live a more fulfilling life.  Did I find this to be true as I turned the pages and read on?

Yes, I did!  PUG’s message – translated through the wise words and delightful illustrations of Helen James – opens possibilities for the reader to take positive action in 29 encouraging and insightful short teachings.

This colourful book is perfect for a central location in your home, on the lunchroom table at work or a gift for someone who needs a boost. And, the most wonderful realisation is that this book will be enjoyed by all age groups.

If you are looking for a daily or weekly focus, know you could be doing something different or better and don’t know what that is or you want to benefit from the wisdom of one of the world’s oldest dog breeds, this book is certain to inspire and delight.

Buy Book | More Information – RRP $19.99 – Due for release October 2017 so pre-order your copy now.

 

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FIFO Families – Parenting Tips and Tricks

I recently did a short talk at a FIFO family event in Perth.  The energy in the room was high and children were very excited with all the activities that were happening.  A perfect place to share tips and tricks to support parents.

Being Separated by Work, is a minefield of stress triggers for parents and children. Approaches to keep you and your children as stress-free as possible are outlined in video and handout below.

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FIFO Families – Get Organised In The Overwhelm

I recently did a short talk at a FIFO family event in Perth, (hence why there are so many children running across the stage!)

In the video below I will share with you the systems and processes that have worked for my clients and our family over the years.

Keeping to a set routine when Separated by Work is challenging. Every family has different needs and every working away roster has unique demands. Yet having a plan and being organised will decrease the overwhelm, and you will be better able to cope with the day to day tasks and responsibilities.

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How heavy is this glass of water?

I have been on an upward trajectory of achievements and success in the last couple of years.  All my dreams coming true –  going back to study at University, a published book, online membership site, successful business, financial ease, awesome friends and a close family. One would imagine that with all this success all my burdens, stress and worries would get less, or even be non-existant. A huge misperception!

People even often say to me I don’t know how you do it all with Uni, business, family and a husband that works away. They say, you are so strong, and so lucky to have it all! Then they ask me to share with them my secret, or want to know how can I do it all and find peace with some of the horrible things that have happened in my past. They want the magic solution that will change their life in an instant.  I can tell you, that there isn’t a magic solution; unless you call hard work, determination and never giving up in the face of numerous challenges a magic solution.

I usually explain by first assuring them I am neither lucky or completely calm all the time.  I let them know that it is a constant conscious choice to get up, step up, choose the emotional state I want to be in and smile.  And I then share with them one of my favourite parables to illustrate how to honour, recognise, acknowledge, let go of the ‘stuff’ and keep achieving; even in the face of adversity.

Imagine I am holding a glass of water and I ask you – “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter.  It all depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light.  If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little.  If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor.  In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.

Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water.  Think about them for a while and nothing happens.  Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little.  Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralysed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.

My message to you today:  It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses and worries.  No matter what happens during the day. As early in the evening as you can put all your burdens down.  Don’t carry them through the night and into the next day with you.  If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.

And that is exactly the way I live my live and teach others to do the same. Work hard, be clear and focused on what you want, don’t get caught up in others dramas, don’t get caught up in your own regrets or what if’s, and always remember that the longer you hold on to the glass the heavier it gets until you are paralysed. Just for today – put it down and let it go – or ask someone to help you ease the burden.

Kirsty 🙂

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Not Home for Birthdays

We have two big birthday months in our home, June and September. My husband has been a FIFO (fly in fly out) worker for the last eight years and he is rarely home for any of the actual days. The first couple of years were the hardest for us all, but as the years went by our family became accustomed to his absence, and we developed ways that everyone’s presence is still felt, and the birthday boy or girl feels special and celebrated.

After talking to many families in similar situations, who ask me for ideas to keep connected when apart on a family member’s special day, I felt moved to share how we celebrate and create birthday memories.

My top six tips for families separated by work on birthdays are:

  1. Overthinking it is the number one enemy! I strongly advise you to not become completely immersed in the fact that you are away or your loved one isn’t there for the special day. This will fuel negative and destructive feelings of missing out, loneliness, isolation and seclusion. This type of thinking will put a dark cloud over all celebrations, which you will regret later.  Instead, attempt to keep as upbeat and prepared as possible, stay focused on a day of festivities and activities, and have a good time.
  2. Just because you are apart, no one is forgotten! Even though one family member is away from home, the day is not less important or forgotten by anyone. It certainly doesn’t even have to be downplayed.  We have instantaneous ways to communicate at our fingertips, we can pop up on screens to join in on the party and we can pre-plan activities to be involved in on the day.  At times, being separated by work on a birthday can make the day seem much more special because of the effort involved.
  3. Let your friends step up and help you celebrate! Instead of downplaying the day, hiding it, or telling people it is no big deal – let others make it a big deal. Even if you must arrange it, (I have found though that friends usually love being a part of the planning) have a group of people around you to make a fuss and celebrate the special occasion.
  4. Always celebrate when together as well! It may not be on the actual date, but pre or post parties and gatherings are always fun. In the future, no one will remember what date it was you celebrated, but everyone will remember how they felt every year being the centre of attention and spoiled for their day. So, look at the roster and plan ahead so that it doesn’t become overwhelming and too hard as the date rapidly arrives.
  5. Be a positive force of festivities for your children! Your children may feel it the most – Mum or Dad isn’t here for their birthday. This is a time when we as parents need to excel in role modelling that their day is still a super special one; that everyone is involved in some way, they may even get two celebrations out of this, and that even though this isn’t everyone’s normal it is our families normal.
  6. Pre-plan, prepare and pre-book! As mentioned above, planning is key whether it is your child’s birthday or yours. Sitting down together and planning the surprises and activities for the day keeps everyone involved and excited. Planting hidden presents and notes around the house or in luggage to be found on the day certainly warms the soul for the receiver, and booking venues and events in advance avoids disappointment.

To finish off, I would like to leave you with some of my favourite activities for celebrating and to inspire you to plan yours and your family’s special moments, whether you are together or apart:

  • Finding hidden notes and presents/scavenger hunt.
  • Spending time with friends.
  • Eating out.
  • Going to the movies.
  • Having a picnic at the beach.
  • Ordering pizza and having movie night at home.
  • Cooking (and cleaning up afterwards) done for me.
  • Treat myself pamper day.
  • Doing something I love doing.
  • Checking something off my ‘bucket’ list.
  • Getting flowers and eating cake.
  • Having lots of good food, laughter and fun.
  • Outdoor activities and hiking.
  • Going to a concert.
  • A weekend getaway.
  • Taking a cooking class.
  • Winery tour.
  • Having a tea party.
  • Painting party.
  • Themed party or get together.
  • Feeling loved, spoilt and special!

I would love to hear your ideas on how you do birthdays when separated by work or when you are apart from your family – and what are your favourite ways to celebrate?

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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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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