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When the world is running down

I recently, asked myself the question:

If I had one year left to live what would I do differently and how would I live that year?

I gave it several weeks of consideration. I turned to my journal, talked to close friends and took a real intense look at my life. After much thought I came to the conclusion that there was not a lot I would change. I like how I live! 

But it was this conclusion that caused me some distress and made me rethink the question. If I like how I live, what do I have to look forward to? Is there nothing I still want to do with my life? Have I really been to all the places I want to go? Have I tasted all the food I want to try?


Have I done it all?

No. No I haven’t done it all.

I haven’t been to South Africa to meet a beloved friend, I haven’t been to Tuscany to taste the fresh pasta, I haven’t done a lot of things. But when I thought about it, it didn’t seem to matter so much. Why the hell not?!! Alas, more questions. 

I love being a mother and I get so much from the relationship I have with my kids. We laugh and grow together every day. I love the partner in my life, we give support to one another and have fun.

I love my job, because it’s an outlet to do what I was destined to always do. I get to help people discover their potential and be more than they believe they can be. 

I have fabulous friends. I live in a small, friendly town that is so far away from the problems in the world that I feel safe. I love the quirky house I have where nothing matches and the garden is untameable. I love all I have.

I seem to have fulfilment in my life. It doesn’t mean I am permanently happy and content, it simply means I enjoy what I have. I put effort into all the elements of my life and in return reap the benefits.

There is song by the band Police called “When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around” (great title). Also, a relevant statement to remind me to make the most of what is here, now, at this time in my life. How many of us stop to do that? What if we were to make the “best of what’s still around”? 

Life’s not perfect. It’s diverse and challenging and sometimes it’s not what we want. How different would it be if we appreciate what we have and look for pleasure in what’s around us? 

Will I keep things the same and just get bored? NO WAY! I love the variety of life. But if I was to die a year from now, I wouldn’t try and catch up with my life to cram in all the regrets of my past. I’ll savour the present and sip it slowly until the last drop is gone. I’m grateful I can say that. 



Fifty Shades...of Wisdom

Bette Davis said it well. “Old age ain’t no place for sissies”. Just shy of 50 I am beginning to understand what she meant.

We are constantly told that ageing is bad; it’s wrong; it shouldn’t happen to us and we must hide it. We have pills, creams, potions, diets and surgery to stamp out this vicious condition. 

Billions of dollars are made each year by the anti-ageing industry promoting their latest secret for staying young. Yet we are guaranteed to age every second, of every day and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. There is nothing we can do about it. Age happens.

Kids frequently ask new acquaintances “How old are you?”. What a wonderful question! Straight away, it sorts our the pecking order of the group, often with the eldest at the lead. 

As adults, it’s quite the opposite! Age is rather taboo, it’s such a cringeworthy subject, we conceal it, lie about it and disguise it. We outwardly mask our progressing years, yet on the inside do we feel any different?

Last week I saw a recent photo of myself and was rather alarmed that I looked older than I do when I look in the mirror! How does that happen?! 

Physically, growing older is obvious with the grey hair, wrinkles (or laughter lines), sagging skins, etc. I guess we could say, that as we mature we take on character. But mentally, are we maturing at the same rate?

On holiday way, way back in my mid-twenties I was lounging by a pool at some hotel in the Mediterranean. Next to me was a wee elderly lady with an oversized sunhat and shades. We nodded polite hellos and basked in the sun with our tropical umbrellaed drinks. 

Our reverie was interrupted by the passing by of the ‘cutest-waiter-on-the-planet’.  Both of us women traced his every step until he was out of sight. Catching each other in this act, we fell into a fit of giggles and she remarked “Oh Honey, I may be 83 on the outside but I am a full blooded 22 year old on the inside…and well…he was cute!”

I’ve decided I don’t feel fifty years old at all. My daughter points out my greying hair and I remind her it’s not grey, it’s the colour of wisdom. No, I am NOT going to dye my hair, I’m not going to invest in anti-ageing creams and will stay clear of surgery. 

I’m not going to mask my years of experience and knowledge - I’ve worked very hard to earn this badge of honour! I’ve done things with my life and I intend to do even more. 

I now have the wisdom to really appreciate things I youthfully took for granted. I can appreciate by free time, my friends, my family, my body, my discoveries, my successes, even my dreams. I think I’ll call this newly found philosophy “Fifty Shades of Wisdom”.


No Retirement Plan

“I can’t wait to retire, I hate my job!” these words came out of the mouth of a good friend last week.

“Then, why don’t you change jobs?” I ask.

“It pays rather well” he shrugs.

“But if you are so miserable, is it worth the money? Surely your own happiness is worth more?”

“How will I pay my bills?”

“Downsize a little, go back to basics. Simplify things to what’s really important.” He was looking at me as if I was mad!


Typically, for most of us, work is a major part of our lives. We spend a good chunk of our day at work and, occasionally, our free time thinking about work. Our careers tends to dictate the kind of lifestyle we have. It’s not uncommon to also link our identity to what we do. 


I know a lot of people who do not enjoy their jobs. They take this dissatisfaction home and spill it into all areas of their lives including their relationships.


Way back in the day, I trained as an engineer. I went to university. I had  some amazingly interesting jobs for over a decade. But it began to feel tiresome, like I was hitting my head against a brick wall on a daily basis. I started to resent my job - the one I had worked so hard to have. How could that even be possible?!

During this time I had a very keen interest in hypnosis. I found that I would fantasise having a job where I was helping people with this skill, doing research and sharing what I learnt. It took me several years to pluck up the courage to actually make the switch in professions. Gradually, over time I moved out of one career and into another that is so much more rewarding.

I love my job as a clinical hypnotist and strategic coach. It’s not even a job to me. It’s something I am deeply and obsessively passionate about. When I am not helping my clients I am learning more things to use in my work. It’s not a ‘have to’, it’s a ‘want to’ and I can’t wait to get going. 

Whatever your circumstances, you can’t change the past nor the path you took, but you can choose the path you will now take.

What job would really excite you?

It’s so much easier to re-train these days. All is takes is some bravery and a plan! It’s entirely possible.

Consider what would you love to be doing? What kind of lifestyle do you want to have? Could you survive on less money if it meant you were happier? How would this effect your life and relationships? Would you work for yourself or someone else? 

Imagine a little way into the future and you are making this happen for yourself, go on…let your imagination run wild! Capture feeling excited about your day and how that would fuel your life. List what you want to achieve and map out how you would make it happen; talk to people in that profession and get some ideas and advice. Make it your job to get the career you want.


Relationship Training

I don’t know anyone who would say relationships are easy. They can be complicated, sheer agony, messy, passionate and still be such a huge source of delight. How conflicting!

I have a few relationships and they all take some planning and management.

I have that special relationship with the man in my life, then there’s the fun relationships with my children, my close friends, my parents, my clients, etc. You get the picture, there is a whole load of different kinds of relating going on.

I never enrolled at “relationship school”, I learned “on the job” as it were. I began with very little skill and hoped for the best - I mean, how hard can it be?  

Are we not conditioned to believe that when we find that perfect someone or that wonderful friend it becomes easy and a lot less hard work? Or that family are our blood and they can’t be that hard to suss out! Oh, how nice that would be. Alas, we are drawn to the stubborn truth - it’s not that straight forward.

There is one aspect to my relationships I have discovered that allows me to relax and enjoy the company I keep. It’s really simple too. It’s flexibility. No, not being a push over, but simply being adaptable. Quite a lesson for some who can be rather strong-willed at the best of times.

Now I admit that, when I’m a little stressed out, I can be determined to dig my heels in over an idea because changing it feels a tad to difficult. And to ‘cave in’?! NEVER! This inflexibility can lead to squabbles in my relationships and to even more stress. 

Relationships affect our well being.

We know how horrid we feel when they are in dispute. And we know how lifted and at peace we are when they are going well.

I’ve found that being more flexible and open, to plan changes or ideas, brings solace to a relationship, it eases all the expectations and keeps harmony. In the grand scheme of things, how vital is it for me to always get my own way? Being right at all costly to relationships. 

If I remained willful then I’ve “won” at the expense of my loved one. If you love someone so much, do you really want them to lose? It becomes a win-lose situation and it’s not very healthy for any relationship. If two people can not grow together, they drift apart.

Wouldn’t a win-win be more profitable for on all levels? If we both work towards giving the other more and being more for them, would we not both benefit?

Flexibility is about being more open and easing out of those old rigid ideas; voicing concerns and listening in return. If we hold tight onto what we believe to be right we prevent any prosperity from taking place. We are sabotaging our relationships in order to feel “right”.

When we both contribute towards the other the relationship grows and thrives, flourishes and becomes more passionate. I like the sound of that, don’t you?


Driving Madness

I was driving into town last week and some fella was going bananas behind me. He was flashing his lights and riding right up to my bumper. My first reaction is to do a quick systems check - right speed, indicators, etc. All just as it needs to be. 

At the lights, this guys is so close I can see the whites of his eyes and he having a barmy, raging at me from his big 4x4.

I’m amused, he’s putting on quite a show with so much enthusiasm into his arm waving, visible cursing, jumping about in the driver’s seat. The man was going to give himself a heart attack!

Just after the lights I pull over and let him pass, he’s obviously in a hurry. I would like to assume he had a good reason for the urgency, and I’m not about to stand in his way. I follow him for the next 5 kms and he did the same to the next driver. 

All that anger and animation got him one car ahead of me - no further. I wonder if he registers what he’s doing to himself and the possible effect it has on others. 

Friends assured me that this driving behaviour was quite common on the daily commute.


Really?!! Are people sitting in their ‘shiny metal boxes’ ranting and raving at complete strangers?

(Maybe I have been living out of the city too long.) 

It seems bizarre that we would work ourselves into such a state and all before 10am. Can you imagine how it affects their day? And, dare I say it, how it impacts their health.

Whether it’s anger, frustration or worry - these emotional states take up so much energy and effort that we are usually left feeling quite exhausted.

 I know when I’m angry, even for a few a few moments, it takes me a long while to come right. After which I’m so spent I can hardly find the strength to crack a smile.

Like yourself, I get annoyed, outraged and, yes, I even worry. Yet, I’ve found it takes less out of me when I reframe the situation. I look for possibilities and then I distract myself with something else, something more pleasurable. 

Instead I take the attitude: “I’ll worry about it when I get there or when it happens”, because if I didn’t I would drive myself out of my mind and be a tired, grumpy sod.

Not much fun for anyone!

Why would I choose to do that to myself?

Yes, I said choose! Didn’t mum say “you have to pick your fights”? Picking when to be cross and when to worry is a choice thing. Some things are just not worth the energy, especially when that it can be used somewhere more delightful.

So crank up the radio and sing your heart out. If some irate driver comes your way, wave, let him through and wish him well. It’s his choice to be angry and you can choose differently.


Not Sleeping Well?

Running on empty is not much fun, having not slept well for three nights I am really beginning to feel it.  

Pumped up on coffee (three cups more than I would normally have) and replacing my usually healthy lunch for half a packet of biscuits is not helping the situation.

I’m dreading bedtime because I am anxious that I may not get the sleep I desperately need.

I am certain being stressed about not sleeping (with all the caffeine and sugar)  makes the problem worse, but it is the first thing we do, is it not? It seems insane when you stop and think about it, that we expect these stimulants to help!  


All I’d like to do is curl up on the sofa with a hot chocolate and a good novel, yet I’m running around seeing to chores, working, getting updates and  news on my phone, checking emails and taking calls. 


Sleep is so important. But how much is enough and what is to too little. I believe it’s an individual thing, eight hours can seem to much at times and then sometimes I need ten hours. Right now, I’m not sure I could sleep even if I went to bed, I’m too wound up.

Sleeping on demand is like peeing on demand, erm...not so straightforward.

Maybe I need to consider this whole ‘sleep thing’ as a ‘rest thing’. I need rest - I want rest. That rest may not be in the form of sleep just yet. I know when I’m more chilled out I’ll sleep, it makes sense, yes?

When we are tired we must rest. Rest prepares us for sleep. Sleep repairs memory so we can think clearly; it restores our body for energy and health; it heals; we restore balance in our sleep (it keeps the weight off our waistline and keeps our mood in check); and lets’ face it we feel awful when we don’t get it. Everything gets thrown out of kilter. 

Taking a break can give rise to guilt especially when there is so much to be done. Maybe we need to just get over ourselves and rest guilt-free when we need it, in the same way we drink when we are thirsty. 

I ask all my clients “How do you relax?” and most say they don’t. Is it any wonder that sleep is such an issue for most people?

I am going to make more of an effort to rest over the next 48 hours so I may feel relaxed enough to sleep. No more news, no more emails, no texts, no calls and the laundry can wait. I’m going to make myself a hot chocolate, stop at the sofa, breathe, grab my book and read a chapter.


Just how much is your time is worth?

I have the day free, not just an hour or two but a whole day - a good 12 hours to myself. I have so many things that need to get done. I compile a list and look at it. 

There are a whole load of “should do’s” on my list.

As a mum, they are things that “need to get done”, but really just how important are they? What if I did take the day off? And what would I do with my day? 

“Time is money” we all know that saying, especially when it comes to business. But what about our personal time? How much is that worth and how are we squandering it on endless nonessentials.

Most of us constantly tell ourselves how busy we are and how little time we have to fit things in - like decent nutrition, exercise, family time, me time, the list is endless. 

Looking at my list I now add the time it would take to get each of these jobs done, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, half an hour, it all adds up and I’m not so sure this ‘free time’ I thought I would have will actually fit in.

To emphasize this point I gave one second the value of $1. That means each day holds a value of $86,400 of which I have 12 hours available until my family gets home. That’s $3,600 an hour. Wow, the ironing it going to cost me $1,300!!! 

I see my original to-do list a little more differently now. I’m not so sure I want to spend almost $2000 cleaning the bathroom.

Time isn’t free.

It’s a limited resource to each and everyone of us. It has immense value. Yet we procrastinate, delay, do mindless things to keep busy, potter about.

How easily do we give an hour away?

Who to and to what?

Do we take a moment to consider how would we rather spend it? 

We have a fixed amount of time under our control. We have no more and no less of it than 24 hours in a day or 86,400 seconds. 

Suppose we allowed ourselves the time to do more enjoyable pursuits, pleasing exploits, things we actually want to do. Imagine indulging in life rather than rushing like maniacs all day long to get ‘stuff’ done.

I grab my pen and cross off the less important things from my list and identify those jobs I can delegate. I’m left with a few small things that I can get done and about 10 hours left for me to do something I want to do.

Now, the big question is...what do I want to do with my time? Interestingly, at this point I realise I haven’t had the occasion to entertain that idea in a very long time. Hmmm? 



Cyber Parenting

The ever changing technology in our children’s lives can make keeping the balance in parenting tough. Technology is all around our kids, from entertainment to homework assignments to social interaction. Most of us parents didn’t grow up with this kind of technology and it can be hard to understand how reliant young people are on their digital world.

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