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Kirsty writes regularly here

Posts Tagged mindfulness

The Confidence Rollercoaster!

I was talking to a friend and she said, “How can you be so confident all the time?  You are such a ‘go getter’. I wish I had more confidence and self-belief like you.”

This dialogue got me thinking, and this was my response:

My definition of self-belief, or self-esteem, and confidence are: liking and feeling good about me enough to know that I am doing the best I can; and if I am determined enough, and work hard enough, and I trust my abilities, then the right results in the right order will follow. 

My sense of confidence and esteem does change constantly depending on various factors, including my day to day mood, appearance, ability, others opinions or the situation. So, as you can see, it is not something that you begin to act like and then ‘voilà’ all is well!

I have found that regularly checking in on how I am feeling about myself leads to a direct reflection of how I perform and present myself to the world. If I need to adjust my thinking, eating, or doing, I am on it. I make sure that I am consciously making choices on how I want to be, rather than letting the ups and downs of emotions, events and energy levels take control of my decisions, moods and actions.

The main mistake I witness a lot of people make is relying on others expectations and opinions and daily performance statistics to dictate who they are and how good they are.

All things change, you live and learn, you make mistakes and you have wins. We all have ups and downs, good and bad days. This is no reflection on your worth, rather a testimony to you living life.

The best way to overcome the rollercoaster of self-doubt, highs and lows, and judgement of your abilities is to have a strong sense of self-value and self-respect. Take a pause and when you are feeling less confident and a bit shaky, check in with you, adjust and get back to doing the best you can do.

You will then move into a space of making productive choices rather than staying longer than you need to in less than comfortable situation, entertaining draining emotional turmoil, giving too much time to listening to your inner critical voice, or worse, heeding another person’s views, and entertaining self-sabotage behaviours.

Trust yourself, respect yourself, do the best you can in any given moment, and you will find the confidence and self-belief rollercoaster can become fun rather than terrifying.

Until next time, K 🙂

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Book review – Finn and Puss

Exisle Publishing recently asked me review a delightful children’s story, Finn and Puss, featuring a young boy, Finn, who is feeling lonely and a cat called Puss who is lost.

They meet in town one day and loneliness and fear seems to be forgotten as they become friends, for a short time anyway.

Finn must make a tough choice.

The illustrations are soft and gentle which compliment a relatable story, that can be read independently by young readers.

What I liked most about this book was that it provided opportunities for discussion around situations where children may be feeling alone, what ethical behaviour is and different types of friendship.

RRP $19.99 – For more information or to buy CLICK HERE

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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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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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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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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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