No PETS allowed – well, maybe a bunny if you force me

On the subject of nature, I never had a pet. Well, my brother had a budgie and a lovely dog that became our family friend, but I never went close to the bird cage and really hated how his room smelled of old cucumber. I did walk the dog now and then (my brother paying me to do so?!!), and did confess a few sad feelings to it. But no big connection. So when our kids started asking for pets, it was a clear NO. They’re messy, needs feeding and cleaning. And I would freak out if anyone put a bird near me – and pretend to be a statue if someone’s dear cat got close to me in the couch. After long discussions, we agreed on two gold fish in a bowl. The kids lost interest after a while, one died and we donated the other to after school care’s collection. We did try having a dog for a week. A rescue dog that we checked out carefully, but as it started to settle in to the new surroundings of our home, its issues came out full force with bared teeth, biting and compulsive behaviour. So we decided to … More No PETS allowed – well, maybe a bunny if you force me »

NATURE??? No thanks, I tend to kill plants within a 20 cm radius.

I’m a city girl. Had no idea what the stuff in the supermarket looked like originally (vacuum packed slices of ham.. no real connection to a live animal, and frozen vegetables.. no idea how they would look in nature and if grown on bushes or in the ground). Did go to a farm with school once and wrote a nice essay about it. But no idea or interest in the missing link. Did have a phase with cacti (in my window sill) – because they could survive even if I didn’t look their way for weeks. And did like when our family one year got peas out of some square metres of garden patch. A neighbour once asked me to look after her pot plants. Bad move. Over watered most of them and had no idea. Nearly as bad a move as when I became au pair after only having looked after one kid for one night. Amazing what people trust you with, just because you look kind of normal and sound sensible. A school girlfriend did give me a book with easy steps to follow to look after the most popular pot plants. Did manage to keep a succulent … More NATURE??? No thanks, I tend to kill plants within a 20 cm radius. »

You can’t afford it? Well, well.. how much STUFF do you buy??

Let’s talk about the endless stuff you spend money on today that you could stop. Not only would you save money – I bet you would also save time. How good is that for a win-win? How much did you spend on takeaway, because none of you thought about dinner before it was too late? On work lunches you wander off to buy (amazing how needing lunch can surprise us every day!). On impulse bought clothes/bags/shoes that you don’t REALLY need? How much time did you spend shopping? Only great if you love Westfield more than your passion (see blog 1!). How easy is it for money to just evaporate? Get a financial advisor – we did! How boring and grown up does that sound??? Well, I know ours has saved us not only money – but arguments and sleepless nights. We had created quite an economical mess by moving to the other side of the world. Then this guy asked some key questions on goals and mindset around money. Hey, he even made me cry when asking whether we wanted to retire in Forster (no offence Forster, back then that was just the saddest thing I could imagine – … More You can’t afford it? Well, well.. how much STUFF do you buy?? »

OUTSOURCE!! No, you didn’t pick up a business magazine – this is for YOU!

Here’s a funny one for a rainy afternoon: Mentally hire a consulting group. Imagine them walking in your front door (these guys never come in the back), black suits and all, half your age and very serious. Embrace them. They’ll refuse the cup of tea you offer – their eyes are already set on the target. Let them. Now imagine them analysing bit by bit your whole life (freakingly scary, I know!!). Every action you take from you get out of bed on a Monday morning till you collapse on the same bed Sunday night, not knowing how another week passed by. They will check which things you are GREAT at doing yourself – and which tasks you should rather delegate (oh, I can feel your nervous ticks starting, a panic of letting go is moving through your body??!!). You will start explaining why ONLY you can do this and that, but these guys don’t care, it’s all excuses! Whisper to me the first thing that comes to mind that you are NOT good at and would love to let go of (be honest here!): cleaning, doing your taxes, baking that birthday cake, planning the next event at your club, … More OUTSOURCE!! No, you didn’t pick up a business magazine – this is for YOU! »

Meditation – HA! Bet my brain will never be able to stop racing

Breathe in. Breathe out. Again. It took me half a life time to realise it’s good to stop .. Hope others will do it from their twenties. Imagine how much resistance that would save your friends and family – and you! Pilates. Strengthening your core. Keeps my lower back issues abreast so to speak. Great thing, while you brush your teeth or wait in a supermarket queue – win-win is that you’ll be happy when your queue turns out to be the slowest one. Did bring my (then 3 yr old) daughter with me. SO boring – no surprise, it looks like women lying on the floor for a full hour doing nothing. Can’t see all the inner work going on. I digress. In my twenties I never looked back, inwards or anywhere else – just full speed ahead. In an all-low year (relationship and job ended, on my own in a new city, lonely as), went to a palm reader. Wise woman. Commented on me being perfectionist (??!!), and that I would have my husband move out of the bedroom before my 40th if I didn’t let go of that perfectionism! At that point I did not even have … More Meditation – HA! Bet my brain will never be able to stop racing »

Have you ever seen a perfectionist having fun? Like REAL fun?

When did you last have a real belly laugh? Not the ti-hi or haha, but a bubbling one shaking all of what you’ve got? I bet you it wasn’t while washing up. Or ironing. Or doing the kids’ lunches. Or while stressing over all the work and emails you need to get done tonight/later/this weekend. If a laugh escaped you then, it would have been a nervous ah-ah-ah, jaws tight, stiff fake smile. Are you taking yourself (and everyone else) too seriously? When is the last time you just threw out a loud laugh when your kids or anyone else asked you to do something? It’s good to be serious about what you do. Both at home and at work. Great to be ambitious. It works even better, if it comes with a natural flow, if you are fully present and engaged and energised while perfecting something. But if your mind is going crazy with things you should/could/must do or just worries, you are perfecting nothing, you are stressing yourself – and everyone else! – out. Time for a confession. I was SO perfectionistic. SO serious. Before we got married, living together, I was SO embarrassed when my then boyfriend … More Have you ever seen a perfectionist having fun? Like REAL fun? »

Sitting still for an hour – just one!

Here’s a test for you. Not the girls’ magazine ones telling you if you’re a dreamer or a doer. A real hands-on one, or actually more of a bum-on one. Sit still for an hour at home. Yep 60 full minutes. Your brain will start a to-do-list within seconds (should do the washing, have to call Sue), just ignore. Then your body will feel itchy, you see a sock under the couch with months’ worth of dust attached that you NEED to get up and get. Don’t. Then your bad conscience is back: I can’t just sit here. Yes, you can – just tell it, right back: yes I can! OK, you managed 2 minutes and 10 seconds. Well done! Celebrate your successes! Now is the time to grab what you like doing: a book, a writing pad (NOT for to-do-lists, only allowed if you will actually write stuff on it: a diary, 10 things you’re grateful for, a poem that doesn’t rhyme, draw doodles), your knitting or anything remotely recreational. Now comes the real test: your children/husband/mum/neighbour walking in. Keep seated. Look even more concentrated at your doodles. Pretend you haven’t seen them (oooh, how can that feel SO … More Sitting still for an hour – just one! »

How to find 6 hours a week – for YOU

What’s YOUR passion? What makes you smile and feel good? How can you carve out 6 hours of that, just for you? You never GET time, you have to TAKE time to the things you love. Eat more carrots. Do more exercise. Here is my advice to you: stop reading gossip and women’s magazines. Just trust your own instincts and common sense. Da-daaaa – I just gave you back 1 hr a week. Stop ironing. I’m not kidding. Just stop. Buy clothes that don’t need it. Dry your washing on hangers – and then straight into the cupboard. If you or your husband need business shirts for work – pay to get it done. Or make a plan to change jobs (or the dress code at work, it may take a bit, but trust me, it’s possible. And you all feel better and more yourself afterwards anyway). How many hours did you get into your “hours for just ME” bank? Honestly. OK, 2 hours. Make the kids make their own lunch boxes. OK skip if you have toddlers. But for the rest of you, ask your kids to be part of the tribe – show them you NEED them to … More How to find 6 hours a week – for YOU »

A hobby???? Isn’t that for retired people?

OK, here’s a secret: I’m 44 and have already spent SO many hours of my life doing things I love. If you start counting, how many hours did you spend this week on YOU and something you really like doing? If you can count them on one hand, GET MOVING on putting yourself and your passions up the top of the list (how did I know you have a to-do-list? Well, don’t we all?). I love singing, I always have. From when I was a kid, in choirs, bands, musicals, you name it. Most women stop celebrating their birthdays at some point, and in general stop celebrating anything remotely funny in their lives – especially when the kids come along. But that’s insane, you need it more than ever from then on! So I kept singing. It isn’t always easy and sometimes I drag myself to choir on a Thursday night. But guess what? I always leave with steps that are lighter and a smile on my face. So singing is my “breathing space”. When we had our first child, only two weeks passed before I was out the door to sing (aka. breathe!). And when we moved to the … More A hobby???? Isn’t that for retired people? »

A passion? No, I don’t have time for that..

Follow your passion! Why? Hrm… let me see: it would make you happy, fill your days and weeks with joy, give you energy to all the other things in life. Is that enough reason? I’m really good at following my passions. Some may say I’m selfish – or could you say I’m focused? Housework is over-rated, it will always come back, take all of your “spare time” and good sense of humour, so why not leave it for now and read a good book instead? I have many passions, that’s a safe way of always having an outlet that fits your mood, the weather, the time up your sleeve. Singing with others is one, painting nonsense paintings, reading, writing, running through the bush, just sitting thinking. How good is that for choice? Oh, did I mention “having time”? You never get time, you have to TAKE time to do the things you love, put them up the top of your list (yes, I also do to-do-lists!) because NOW is the best time. I proudly tell colleagues and friends how I can sit in the middle of a room where a bomb just seems to have gone off – and read. … More A passion? No, I don’t have time for that.. »