Monthly Archives: December 2011

Why Listening to Your Body is Very Wise


Whoops. Sorry for the break in transmission, friends. I hope your Christmases were Merry and your Holidays Happy?

I needed a break. You probably did too. My inner voice was yelling at me, “STOP! Slow. Down. Please.” I was getting sick, run-down, exhausted. I was not being the mum or wife I want to be. I was reeling.

But for weeks, I kept pushing on. I had to. There were things to do. But when the time came, and I could stop… I didn’t.

We’re so used to busyness. To urgency. To stress. We think that’s how it should be. There’s honour in being run off our feet. Otherwise, people might think we’re – frighteningly – lazy, unmotivated, boring, unimportant. And no-one wants to be that, do they?

But, I rebelled. I eventually listened  to my inner voice and my body and mind are reaping the significant benefits now.

I rested. I did the minimum. I spent good, free time with the kids. With Sparky. With myself. We reconnected. I lowered my expectations. I stayed in my pyjamas till lunch.

I know the feeling that comes before a breakdown. And I wasn’t far off again. But this time I was listening. I was paying attention to what my body and mind were asking of me. And I (eventually) gave it to them.

And we’re not quite done yet, either.
I will be back online on January 9, with a really exciting challenge for myself and anyone else who cares to join me. See you then!

Happy New Year xxx

Grow Something. Then Eat It.

Chamomile. Strawberries. Tomatoes.

Chives. Rocket. Thyme.

Even if you have precisely zero free time, that’s plenty for these virtually-no-care edibles.

You will feel an amazing/ridiculous swell of pride when you go out to your garden or balcony and cut those herbs, pluck those chamomile flowers, or pick those tomatoes. You will feel a beautiful, if fleeting connection to the earth, and if you have kids, you will be teaching them that food doesn’t actually come from the supermarket.

Just start small. Buy a couple of seedlings from the nursery (don’t worry about organic/heirloom etc yet. Just get your gardening eye in). Pop them in a good sized pot with premium potting mix, or a well-drained spot in the garden. Water them well and regularly. (Every couple of days in warm weather).

My number one tip: treat them regularly with Seasol – a seaweed-based tonic. It promotes root growth and strong, healthy plants. You just mix a capful in your watering can and give the plants a good dose once a fortnight.

I’m no gardening expert, so feel free to ignore my advice, but aside from what I mentioned above, I do very little to my plants. Occasional pruning, the odd dose of liquid fertiliser and keep the water up to them in hot or windy weather.

My point here is not to give you some half-arsed gardening tips – my point is to encourage you outside. To get your hands dirty. To smell the damp earth. To watch something grow.

Doing this forces you to slow down. Just for a minute. And, particularly at this time of year, that’s something I think we all need a little dose of, don’t you?

Slow Your Christmas Day 1: Get Organised

Christmas. It’s the same time, every year. Yet still it seems to creep up on us, doesn’t it? One minute it’s August, and the next you’re racing around buying gifts, wrestling with wrapping paper, feeling guilty about not sending cards (again).

I may not be able to help you with the actual buying/making of gifts, or cooking your Christmas lunch, but I think I can help get you and your house prepared for the silly season. With just a bit of pre-planning and a little extra work each day between now and December 23, you should be able to experience a happy, healthy, joyful, chilled-out Christmas this year.

Today is just about making lists so requirements are minimal – pen, paper, 15 minutes.

1. Make a list of gifts you and everyone in your family still need to buy/make. List every single one. Even the annoying work Secret Santa presents. Write down the name of the person AND what you’re going to buy/make them. And if you don’t know yet, now is the time to get thinking. It will make your life so much easier to go to the shops with a full list. (Try this post from Be More With Less on keeping the holiday season simple – it has some great suggestions for giving clutter-free gifts, as does this post from zenhabits)

2. Make a list of all the pre-Christmas events you have coming up. Christmas lunches, work parties, end-of-school catchups, Christmas Eve drinks, family events. All of them. List the date, the event and what you need to provide. Drinks, presents, nibblies, bring a plate etc.

3. If you’re hosting a Christmas meal or another party, now is the time to get that organised. Make a list of everything you need to do for the event: invites, decorations, drinks, nibblies, meal, dessert, gifts, activities for kids, make room for people to stay the night, any work you need done at home, platters you’ll need, cutlery and crockery, etc. Be as detailed as you can now, because when the party is only days away, you’ll be feeling far more frazzled and more likely to miss something important.

4. Make an action plan. Look over your three lists and mark all those things that are really urgent with a number 1. They’ll have to happen this week. Things that can be done over this coming weekend, mark with number 2, and things that can be done next week, mark with a number three.

Now you have a really good idea of where you’re at, and hopefully don’t feel as overwhelmed at the thought of the coming craziness!

Over the next couple of days, just keep working on those things marked with a number 1. That probably means:

  • buy/make gifts
  • send invites to your Christmas event
  • find out what you need to bring to each of the parties you’re attending
  • delegate any food/drinks/platters/tables/chairs to friends and family

 

It may feel annoying now, but know that you’re getting the majority of the hard work done now – meaning you can kick back with a margarita as Christmas gets closer! (Ha.)

 

 

 

Play-Time: More Handmade Christmas Wrapping Paper

On Friday I got all serious on you, so today I thought I could show you the fun, messy catalyst for my “perfection is overrated” post.

Even though my Play Time posts are geared towards those of you with kids, this particular activity is so joyful and fun that I would highly recommend anyone with an hour or two and some old clothes to give it a whirl.

 

You’ll need:

some colourful acrylic paints
plastic bowls/plates
brown kraft paper roll
old clothes
old facewasher for clean up

1. Roll out your kraft paper on the grass, or a painter’s drop-sheet. Hold down with a couple of weights to stop it blowing around.

2. Squirt some of your paints into the bowls, or you can fling the paint straight from the tubes. A combination of both is great for both the experience and the visual result.

3. Have at it, friends! Fling, drip, splat, whirl and flick to your heart’s content.

4. Leave to dry completely (this may take a few hours if you use as much paint as we did)

5. Use as wrapping paper or as an accent to plain kraft paper. And have fun telling everyone about your painting adventures on Christmas Day.

This would also be a fun and inexpensive way to create art work for your walls. Either cut the kraft paper to size and frame a few to hang, gallery-style, or buy some pre-made canvases from a craft store.

 

Let Go of Perfection

CONFESSION: I am a perfectionist. It drives me freaking mad. I need to let go of it. But then, my fear is that I wouldn’t be perfect.

Oh, hang on. That’s right. I’m NOT perfect. Not even close.

It’s amazing the lessons life gives you if you’re interested in listening…

Yesterday I sat Isla down outside with the plan to make a roll of handmade potato stamped Christmas wrapping paper. Bowls of paint at the ready, carefully carved potato stamps in different festive shapes, a roll of kraft paper ready for decoration. We were good to go. I was excited. Isla was giddy.

So we began…

Turns out that hand-stamping Christmas paper is beyond the reaches of the average two-year-old’s concentration span. Huh. Who knew??

(Um, everyone, Brooke. Seriously.)

My immediate urge was to take over, show her how it’s done (ie do it all so it didn’t look like crap). Instead, I let her go.

She started slapping paint all over the place, with the reckless abandon of someone young and carefree and ignorant of the looming clean-up.

It looked like fun.

We went through maybe 10 tubes of paint, just slapping and flinging and dripping and flicking. And every movement, every splat, every joyful squeal brought me closer to a realisation – that this freedom, this joy, this expression of colour and fun and life and spirit and creativity was perfect.

It was perfectly imperfect.

Now, instead of a perfectly executed project to show people on Christmas Day, we have something that is truly handmade made by both of us. As much influenced by my daughter as by me.

But more than that, I realised that perfection is over-rated. Signficantly.

It’s desirable to be organised, to know where you’re heading, to have your shit together. But if you keep it too tightly locked down, if you hold too firmly on to the notion of how it “should” be, then you run the risk of missing the unplanned moments. The moments of joy and life and light.

Those are the moments of perfect imperfection and I will treasure them endlessly.