Tag: fulfillment

Grilled cheese leads to better relationships

Grilled cheese leads to better relationships

Who doesn’t love a grilled cheese sandwich? I dare say that even those of you who are lactose intolerant will be sorely tempted. (Although ‘sorely’ might be an unfortunate choice of adjective in those instances…) In the modern world where technology is impeding, rather than fostering, quality social interaction and meaningful relationships, grilled cheese just may be the answer. Hear me out…

In my previous post I reflected on the modern trend of choosing to be stressed and strung out. Part of this phenomenon, I believe, is choosing to adopt the mindset and subscribe to the idea that there is seldom sufficient time to make headway on ever-lengthening To Do lists. Some of this is due to poor time management, but largely it can be attributed to how we choose to prioritize our time.

When we choose to be ‘too busy’ we are choosing to neglect our relationships. Take, for example, teachers who assume that any social engagements have to wait for the school holidays. Or friends who live in close proximity who seldom see each other. It’s just nonsense. Honestly, where are our priorities?

The solution? Yip, you guessed it: grilled cheese.

Social occasions need not involve extensive planning and preparation. Friends do not expect a table setting worthy of Pinterest accompanied by an equally elaborate menu (unless you’ve set that precedent, in which case you should kick yourself – hard). It’s the time you spend together that is important. Needless to say, I’m referring to quality time, not a case of we’ll-be-in-the-same-room-but-stare-at-our-phones. True friends probably wouldn’t mind in the least if you spontaneously invited them over, even if all you could offer was a grilled cheese sandwich. They’d probably love it, not because they’re dairy obsessed (guilty as charged) but because it’s about friends spending time together.  Which, going back to my earlier point, is a great antidote for all the stress and busy-ness of today’s world.

As soon as you lose the idea that everything has to be planned, has to be an event, you will find the time to invest in your friendships and relationships. Importantly, your life will be more balanced and enriched as a result.

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Are you simply talking yourself into feeling busy and stressed?

Are you simply talking yourself into feeling busy and stressed?

Have you ever realized partway through a TV programme that you have no idea what’s going on because you’ve been distracted by your phone? It happened to me earlier today. This morning the lure of social media apps on my phone meant that I lost track of the British TV game show I was watching (a guilty pleasure that I’ve inherited from my mum). The effect was inconsequential, to say the least.

But what about when technology distracts us from engaging in the important aspects of our lives?

Phones, TVs, computers, tablets: they all provide us with constant sources of distraction. This ubiquitous distraction seems to be an ever-increasing characteristic of modern life. Sure, technology makes life easier, more convenient, and so on. There’s no denying that it has its place.

However, the benefits of technology rapidly wane when we are distracted from being present and mindfully engaging with what should be our priorities in life. And no, I’m not talking about game shows.

Consciously developing and nurturing relationships that, in turn, nurture us is an essential underpinning of happiness. At least, that’s what I believe. Unfortunately, all too often we are too distracted to give our relationships the focus that they warrant. More often than not this can be traced back to the modern lifestyle: not only technology in all its forms, but the all too common habit we have of repeatedly telling everyone (including ourselves) how busy we are. How stressful life is. That we simply don’t have time. That we have too many things to do. And yet, I’m sure we’d be appalled if we realized just how much time we devote to ‘screen time’ on a weekly, or even daily, basis.

This is precious time that is essentially wasted. It’s time that we could – and arguably should – be spending in more mindful pursuits. It’s time that would allow us to be properly present in our interactions with others: our spouses, children, family, friends, and colleagues.

It seems to me that we choose to be distracted, albeit on a subconscious level. I’m not saying that stress is not a real concern, or that we aren’t busy. I just think that we tend to talk ourselves into adopting the mindset of a stressed busybody. No matter how much we have to get done, no matter how much pressure we experience, the truth of the matter is that relationships need to be a priority. Spending time being mindfully present in our interactions with others will enhance our relationships and, ultimately, our happiness and sense of fulfilment.

And isn’t that what life should be about – feeling happy and fulfilled whilst enjoying meaningful connections with others?

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Parenting, anxiety, and smudged nail polish

Parenting, anxiety, and smudged nail polish

It happened. There’s no going back. There are certain moments and events that change your life. Irretrievably.

No matter what happens from now on, I have been forever changed.

Exactly five weeks ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. We’re parents. To be honest, it’s still a surreal experience for me. I still catch myself staring at my son in a state of disbelief. In a good way. A great way.

They say that nothing can prepare you for parenthood. And yet, we still attend antenatal classes, download the apps, follow the blogs, etc. Does it prepare you? I think that selecting the correct classes etc for you can help to prepare you to a certain extent.

The thing that best prepared me for being a mommy? My journey through depression.

And no, I’m not talking about postnatal depression here: on the contrary, I have found the first five weeks of motherhood to be incredibly fulfilling.

So just how on earth did the most trying and devastatingly dark periods of my life prepare me for the most overwhelmingly poignant experience?

Ironically, my journey through depression (“through” implying that you can in fact reach the surface and gasp the fresh air) has taught me many invaluable lessons. Not only have I gained insight into my own psyche, for want of a better word, but I have also come to understand what kind of life I want to lead, and the best mindset and approach to realise this.

The goal-oriented, perfectionist, compulsive nature of my anxiety just doesn’t wash with the daily reality of being a mom. I sat down last week to write a blog post. I got as far as switching on my laptop. That’s it; no further. There is nothing perfect about parenthood. Nothing. I decorated the nursery exactly as I had imagined: a perfect replica of my vision. Two days ago I found myself moving furniture into the centre of the room so that I could wash off projectile pee from a large section of wall and nearby furniture. As for being compulsive, it’s simply not an option. Especially when you have a newborn who has a finely tuned sixth sense that wakens him as soon you step into the shower, pour a cup of tea, or apply a fresh coat of nail polish.

My resultant level of anxiety? Nada. Why?

Before becoming a parent I decided that I would try to be as mindful as possible. I decided that I would not set goals. That I would not entertain ideas about being a supermom. That I would adapt my days to my child’s routine to the best of my ability. That I would not read a single pregnancy or parenting magazine. That I would take each day as it came. That I would trust Mother Nature to give me sufficient maternal instinct to ‘wing it’ for the most part.

So far, I’m managing. Of course, it’s only been five weeks. I might be singing a very different tune next week. Or at three o’clock tomorrow morning. Regardless, my point is that depression and anxiety have provided me with countless opportunities for growth. Sure, I did not grasp all those opportunities. But I did take advantage of some.

It is this ongoing process of reflection and growth that I hope will stand me in good stead in this new stage of my life – smudged nail polish, tepid cups of tea, and all.

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I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing

I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing

It seems like I blinked and six months flew by without any blogging happening. At all. I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed because I really enjoy writing. It’s a bit silly really, because it’s completely within my control. And yet, somehow it just hasn’t happened.

My life has been somewhat topsy turvy of late – but all in a good way.

In the last six months I have…

… discovered that I’m pregnant with my first child. Yay!!!

… learnt that morning sickness is not limited to the morning. Or the first trimester.

… put my work as a freelance writer on hold until I feel that I can juggle motherhood and working from home. Yes, I have reclaimed my title as a Lady of Leisure who Luncheons.

… enrolled in an Interior Design course. Possibly not the wisest timing, I grant you.

… enrolled in a blogging course. I’ve really got to work on this timing thing.

… realised just how much I enjoy sewing.

… exchanged my intense gym sessions for water aerobics with the aging population at the gym.

On Saturday I was determined to go to a yoga class. Like blogging, it simply hasn’t been a feature of my life for months. Although, truth be told, lingering nausea does make you think twice before bending and twisting your body for an hour. For whatever reason, I got a bee in my bonnet (as I am wont to do) and make my way to the Saturday afternoon yoga class. And I loved it! It felt so good and rejuvenating afterwards. I can’t believe that I managed without it for so long. So that’s what spurred me on to get writing again. I thought that if I could rediscover the joy of yoga this week, I should also plunge back into my blog.

And so here I am. But I have no plan for this post. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I’m also not too sure where this blog is going to go in the near future… So I have decided that I’m not going to have a plan. I’m just going to adopt a flexible outlook as I swiftly approach motherhood. Hopefully I will still find time to write and embark on other creative projects.

A Flying Pink Shoe and Creating Yourself

A Flying Pink Shoe and Creating Yourself

It’s funny how your mind can play tricks on you. Like when you get hit in the head by an unidentified flying pink shoe.

My husband and I went out for a spontaneous day trip with my bestie and her husband. Firstly, we visited a German beerfest ‘Church fete’. After failing to win the bottlestore raffle, we resorted to seeking a salve for our broken spirits. We drove to a nearby coastal city to sit on a wharf and eat deep fried ice-cream. As one does. It was a beautiful sunny day – perfect for a lazy calorie-laden afternoon indulgence.

I leant back on my chair and drank in the seaside atmosphere. Comments drifted over from a nearby group of people. They were discussing the rugby match that was dominating South Africa’s attention at the time. Out of nowhere, something slammed into the side of my head. For a split second I thought it was the rugby ball from the game under discussion. Delusional? Absolutely.

There was a stunned silence for a moment as we all looked in disbelief at a bright pink shoe that was lying in the middle of our table. Not quite a rugby ball. A very embarrassed mother approached our table to apologise profusely and retrieve her daughter’s shoe.

Despite a smarting face, I returned the shoe with hysterical laughter gracious understanding. Likewise, her little girl’s apology that was ‘encouraged’ a few moments later.

It made me think of myself as a little girl. Not that I ever managed the feat of kicking my shoe and launching it several meters into someone’s head. I had neither the skill nor the talent. (Although my younger brother did once claim that I could “kickstart a Boeing”.) But had something of the ilk happened to me, I would never have had the courage to approach a table of laughing adults and apologise for assaulting one of them with my footwear. To be honest, I probably would have dissolved into tears and hidden behind my parents. (My dad specifically – my mother reaches a whopping five foot. When standing.)

Today, however, I am anything but shy. It just goes to show how we do grow and develop as we get older. Reflecting on that little girl’s apology renewed my optimism in people’s ability to take charge of their progress in life.

 

You do have the ability to be the person you want to be. It’s never too late to take charge of your life. It’s never too late to grow. It’s never too late to discover the true you.

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How have you changed and developed since you were a child?

The real truth about creating new habits

The real truth about creating new habits

I initially thought that the title of this post would be ‘Create 7 Habits in 7 Days’. Clearly I was feeling somewhat overambitious that day. Let’s just say that I put the ‘C’ in OCD.

One night when I was plagued with insomnia, I was reading through various blogs. (Just so you know, it’s a great habit to read blogs. Nothing like a bit of shameless self marketing thrown in here and there…) Anyway, the point is that I came across a post that was all about using a checklist to develop new habits.

new habits

At first I thought it sounded a little twee. But I never can resist a list. Or an opportunity to use colourful pens. Or an excuse to start a journal of sorts.

Now I must mention here that the post did argue the logic and merits of focusing on developing one habit at a time. I decided that I would work on seven. Simultaneously. Like I said, I put the ‘C’ in OCD. So my checklist looks something like:

  1. Wake up on time
  2. Go to gym
  3. Use Pomodori (learn about the Pomodoro System here)
  4. Meditate
  5. Plan meals for next week (More than a serious rut, my cooking is in a bottomless crater.)
  6. Buy groceries accordingly.
  7. Do some crafts on Friday.

(In hindsight I see I forgot: 8. Get a damn life!)

So out came my once-forgotten journal and my stash of pens. I selected seven different colour inks for no reason other than I thought it looked pretty. (Now who’s being twee?!) I created a weekly checklist where I could keep track of how efficient I was being in adopting these new habits.

My idea of heaven…

At first I thought that, like so many simple ideas, this works. It’s ridiculous how much I love ticking off items on a list. Now I may not be Catholic, but I did experience some guilt when items were not ticked off for the day.

And then life happened.

It’s so easy to plan something, like a list of things you want to incorporate into your daily or weekly routine. But I find that we often plan in a vacuum. We forget that things happen. Errands need to be run. Interruptions occur. You get distracted. You get tired. You discover a concussed baby monkey in your garden (true story). A cat moves into your home. The cat takes over your life for the first week. You have to hire a carpenter to install a cat-flap. You need to take your cat to the vet. You get the picture.

But I do think that using lists and checklists has its merits, especially for the conscientious types. (That’s me. Oh the shame!) If nothing else, you start developing systems, and I always think that systems deserve more focus that goals. Because with the right systems in place, you will achieve your goals as part of the process.

And what is life, if not a long-term process during which we’re trying to achieve fulfilment? Be mindful of the systems you create in your life, because they will ultimately determine your happiness. And happiness should always be the ultimate life goal.

I’d love to hear about your successes. How have you managed to adopt new habits?

Find Your Life’s True Direction

Find Your Life’s True Direction

In the words of the rather eccentric modern version of Sherlock Holmes as featured in Elementary“I abhor the dull routine of existence.” It’s an extreme statement, no doubt. And yes, the character at the time was seeking some form of occupation to distract him from the all-consuming drug habit of his recent past. But that does not negate the valuable meaning behind his words.

Too many of us are guilty of repeating our dull routines without really giving any thought to our true purpose and direction in life. We live in a world where a person is considered lucky if she finds her job to be enjoyable. When you consider just how much time you devote to your career, that’s a pretty dim state of affairs. Life is too short to be spending hours doing something that is not fulfilling.

Whether it’s your career or your personal life, you deserve to live a life that’s enjoyable and enriching. You should be able to relish the feeling of following your true direction in life. You should be able to construct a life for yourself that allows you to grow as a person and develop in the true holistic sense of the word.

Life should not be dull. Mondays should not be awful monsters lurking in the background on Sunday evenings. Talent should not be wasted. Make use of your talent. You know what truly feeds your soul. Focus on that, and you will find your true path in life. If you want to feel empowered and motivated in your life, then you need to start focusing on what truly matters to you.

Getting out of the dull routine of your existence does not mean trying to find the next adrenaline rush. Or anything else that you employ to distract yourself from the truth of your life as it is now. Face the brutal truth of your life, and make the changes that will feed your soul and warm your heart. It is time that we all start leading the lives that we should be living if we are to give our own lives meaning and substance.