Welcome to my Inspiring Read series. In this series I will be sharing books I’ve read that have helped me feel more creative, calm or connected. They will be books that I’ve enjoyed, that I feel you might like too. They will be books that have the power to make our lives a little better in some way.
I listened to Kate Northrup narrate this book on Audible, and I highly recommend it. Who wouldn’t love the idea of doing less?
I have been doing a lot of reading about minimalism lately, and this book fits nicely with that theme. In this book, Northrup encourages you to do less so you can have more time for what’s important to you – the people and experiences that make life worth living.
The approach to time management outlined in the book was totally different from anything I have ever read before. Northrup suggests we should connect time management to cycles (monthly cycles, cycles of the moon, or the seasons). She argues there are times in a cycle where we are better at some tasks than others, and if we take advantage of our cyclical nature, we can maximise productivity and ultimately, do less.
The book includes several experiments that allow the reader to try and do less in a different way, to prove to yourself how doing less can actually give you more. You could try all of the experiments, or just some of them, I love the way they are presented in a way that is not overwhelming.
I loved Northrup’s honesty and “realness” throughout this book. I felt like I was being guided by the experience of a friend who had tried these tips before me and was sharing what she learnt along the way.
This book would be great for those of us who feel overwhelmed with keeping all the balls in the air, those who suffer from or are recovering from perfectionism, or those of us who want a new way of thinking about how we spend our time.
Have a read, let me know what you think. What are your thoughts on doing less? Have you got any tips or tricks that have worked for you?
I suppose that milestone birthdays often spark a period of deep self reflection, questioning who we are, what we have achieved, and what might yet be to come. For me it is no different. This is the story of how one devastating day last year provided me with a turning point. The chance to get back to me and who I want to be. Who do I want to be? Well Fabulous at 40 of course!
One hard day that changed it all
Something happened at the end of last year that quite possibly changed the trajectory of my life. A kind, lovely person who I see regularly asked me when my baby was due. And I was not and am not pregnant. I want to make clear that her question was not malicious or intended to cause me hurt. She was genuinely excited that I might be looking forward to another baby coming along.
I had been putting on a bit of weight for a while as my love of Doritos, hot chips and wine became an every increasingly hard consumption pattern to break.
Looking back now, that day, crushing as it was, was a positive turning point for me. I went to the doctor for my regular (which had become not so regular) blood test check ups and discovered that I had extremely high cholesterol. My doctor gave me three months to change my numbers, or I would have to go on medication.
So how did I change?
I cut out corn chips and hot chips, significantly decreased my alcohol consumption and started using milk and butter containing plant sterols. I started trying to make healthier choices when I ate, and to drink more water. These changes alone made a significant difference. In fact, I got a big gold star from my GP three months later when we discovered that I now had cholesterol levels in the normal range. Put simply, these changes might have saved my life.
Along with the obvious benefits of my blood being able to circulate my body more freely, I discovered that I was feeling better too.
Which sparked something in me.
See, in August, I will be turning 40!
And I thought it would be a great way to celebrate this milestone, as well as kick start this new decade by feeling even more fabulous than ever before.
I feel like the 40s will be the decade for me. The 30s were all about having a family – lots of IVF and all the hormones that entailed, being pregnant and so so very unwell, losing babies during pregnancies, having babies, feeding babies and giving my two precious babies my all. Our little one is three now, and it feels like the kids are developing a level of independence now that allows me some time to focus on me. But who am I, who do I want to be and how will I get there?
Inspired by Project Me for Busy Mothers, This is 50 podcast, and The Minimalists, and lots of inspiring conversations with my Soul Sister, I have decided to focus on reconnecting with and developing certain key areas in my life. And what better time to do that than now, in preparation for my big birthday.
I have been thinking about how I want to feel when I turn 40.
I still want to feel creative, calm and connected. I still find these core desired feelings a useful compass as I navigate my life. (For information on how I came to choose these feelings and what they mean to me, go here and here)
I also want to feel healthy, strong and alive.
I want to feel inspired, hopeful and hungry for more.
I want to embark on this new decade with a level of intention never before seen in my life. Annie Dillard’s famous quote “how we spend our days is how we spend our lives” resonates deeply with me lately. Maybe it might strike a cord with you too? We can easily get caught up in everyday life, the routine of things, letting that routine take over us without much through to what really is important to us.
An from now on, I really want to focus on those things – the things that are most important to me. Because as Gretchen Rubin always says “the days are long but the years are short”.
Do you have any advice for me along the way? What kind of things would you change in your life if you wanted to feel more fabulous?
I invite you all to follow along with me as I make my way to 40. Check out upcoming posts in my Fabulous at 40 series to find out which areas of my life I am going to focus on and what I plan to do.
The very wise Amy Taylor-Kabbaz from Happy Mama asked a group of busy Mums last week, prior to the Easter long weekend:
“what would happen if you gave yourself four days to just switch off… if you just gave yourself these four days to breathe, rest, just be in the moment?…”
So, this weekend, I gave myself a mini holiday. In the midst of what has been a CRAZY, crazy few months, I took a moment, paused, got my breath back. Reconnected. Enjoyed the sunshine. Reminded myself of the way my babies eyes sparkle when they laugh. Let all the jobs go. I just was.
When you take the time to slow down, it is amazing how many beautiful moments there are, in every day. It is the simple little things that tend to bring the most joy. Like taking our beloved dog of a walk in the late afternoon light. My husband took us on a walk I have never done before, literally out our back door, where we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the valley we live in.
Image: Emma Schmid
It is the moments spent listening to our daughter “read” to me last night as she sat snuggled in a beanbag making up stories from the pictures in books.
It is the smiles in my parents eyes when we surprised them with an unscheduled late one afternoon.
It is the super tight hug from my oldest dearest friend when we caught up for a much needed chat.
It is in appreciating my husband offering to cook the dinner.
It is in the excited chatter of my son as he tells me about his adventures with his Grandma and Poppy. It is in the wandering through the markets savouring the feast for the senses.
All of these things that I miss when I am in my normal “Mummy mode”, rushing from one thing to the next, always thinking of who has to be where, by when, with what.
How amazing would it be if we could take a part of that with us in every day? What would we notice differently? How different would life be if we focussed on being instead of our to-do lists? It would be filled with different priorities. The real priorities. Spending time with loved ones. Stopping to feel the sunshine on our faces or smell the roses. It would be filled with giggles, snuggles and moments where it all just feels right instead of stressful, cranky, rushed, and mundane. Who lets us decide these “priorities” anyway? Why do we let ourselves get so caught up in the “doing” that we forget about the “being”? When do we allow the “to-do” list to become more important than being present and appreciating the magic that surrounds us already?
It is my promise to myself that in this second school term of the year, I will take more time to “just be”. To allow myself a little of this “holiday” time in each day, to really appreciate what is around me. To be with my children. To listen intently. To love wholly. To be in the moment. I might not get it right all the time, but with consciousness comes a desire to do better.
So beautiful Amy T-K, to answer your question – what would happen if…? What happens is an awakening. A shifting of priorities. A reminder of what is important. A decision to get back to my core desired feelings. To be creative. To have moments of calm. To connect.
You may have noticed that this year I have not been blogging as much as last year. You can blame Santa!! For Christmas 2015, Santa bought me a sewing machine. I had wanted one for a long time, and when I finally got one, I didn’t really know what to do or where to start. So the poor love stayed in the box for a good 7 months or so.
But then, one day, I opened the box and discovered a love of sewing that cannot be stopped!
I have enjoyed making things for myself and others, and particularly like sewing bags. I have tried sewing a number of different things – a basic quilt, some zippered pouches, long kaftans for my Aunties, handbags for a couple of Christmas presents, a costume for my son for the Nativity play, tote bags, aprons, pencil cases, library bags and more! I just cant stop! I love to sew. I particularly love the part where you are just about to finish the new creation. Seeing it come to life is so satisfying. I also love that I get totally immersed in the work. I tend to sew when my daughter is in bed in the afternoon, so the house is quiet, and I just get lost in the moment. For me, it is almost meditative.
A Stormtrooper library bag I made for my son
I sewed this apron for my Soul Sister- it has an adjustable neck strap!
Christmas presents – handbags for two of the coolest young ladies I know
That sewing machine has worked its little heart out. And then she broke! The hunt began for a new machine, something that I was prepared to invest in, that would make life easier while sewing, that would take this new creative interest to new heights.
Last week, she arrived!
My new machine!
I loved sewing before, but now – my goodness! It feels almost like going from driving an old rusty Datsun 180B to driving a top of the line Lexus! This new machine is so easy to use. It almost does the sewing for me. I love that it is super quiet, so smooth, and has beautiful features like being able to sew words, pretty stitches, a large workspace and fantastic LED lights.
The first thing I sewed on her is this beautiful bag and zippered pouch for my Mum. Complete with a message on the interior pocket, so that each time she uses her bag, hopefully Mum thinks fondly of me.
The message inside the bag I made for Mum. It says “I love you Mum”
In this new habit, I get to work with pretty fabrics that make me feel good when I look at them. With a bit of research (I’m teaching myself to sew!), a bit of skill, and a pinch of love and concentration, I get to turn a plain piece of fabric into something useful, with a whole other purpose. And that feels pretty good. In a couple of weeks I’m doing a workshop where I will learn how to make the bags I sew look more professional. Who knows what that will lead to! I have no intention of stopping any time soon. When you find something that lights you up and brings so much joy, you must be on the right track.
What do you do that lights you up like that?
I’m off now to finish sewing a skirt for my daughter!
These are my words for the year. I thought that since February is almost over, it is a good time to check in with you about how your year is going. What are your words for the year? How are you going with your resolutions/intentions? Anything you need to think about again and reset?
I’m pretty happy with the year so far in terms of my intentions and my core desired feelings. I am choosing to do things that bring me closer to those feelings and I think I am on track for a great year!
I would love to hear how you are going. Comment below!
I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year like I did. I have had a wonderful couple of weeks balancing my love of teaching Pilates with spending cherished time with my husband and children. We managed to pack a lot of fun into the last few weeks around the extra shifts I did and I am refreshed and ready to go for 2017.
It seems a bit weird talking about New Year now at the end of January doesn’t it? I guess it feels a bit more like New Year now for me though, and many others I’m guessing. Over the weekend it was the first New Moon of the year, Chinese New Year, and the kids all go back to school this week. It signifies an end to summer holidays and the beginning of getting back into a routine for the year.
Do you set New Years Resolutions each year? I’m not usually one to do it, and if I do it is something trivial. I am also not generally one to sit down and right out a list of goals, life plans or anything like that. However, this year, things have been a little different. I have drawn inspiration from a number of sources including Danielle LaPorte’s Goals with Soul course, Hal Elrod’s Level 10 Life concept, and Amy Taylor-Kabbaz’s Mission Statement for 2017. What drew me to each of these (and other similar ideas) was the focus on how I want to feel in my life. Rather than being a big list of things to do, the idea is to challenge myself to move closer towards the Core Desired Feelings in all that I do, and use those feelings as a guide for what I want to do/achieve. I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking about how I want my life to be this year, and this is what I’ve come up with:
· If I had to summarise how I would like my year to be this year, these words come to mind- Energised, Intentional/on purpose, nourish, action, intuition, sensual (as in living with all my five senses fully alive), colourful, action, dream, learn, inspired, finish/complete, challenge, reclaim, rise.
· My Core Desired Feelings are Creative, Calm, Connected, and Divine Feminine. Creative Calm Connected seem to be working really well for me since I settled on them last year. But I felt there was something else missing. I feel like I’m at the beginning of a new cycle in life, and it turns out that some people believe that 2017 is the beginning of a new nine year cycle. The past cycle for me was pretty much about us having our family, and now that our little family is complete, I feel ready to take on new challenges, to focus on new things (including of course spending time with and raising our beautiful kids) and broadening my role. Now that I am a Mum I have felt the need to slow down a little, become more childlike in some ways in that I want to be more present in each and every moment. And I also want to connect better with the softer, feminine side of who I am. At the moment I am drawn to be home, focussed on the children, spending time with those I am closely connected with emotionally, and embracing my creative side. I’m less about the deadlines and career ladder climbing, and more about nurturing. Embracing the divine feminine for me is about allowing myself to be softer, listening to my intuition, being creative, feeling beautiful, slowing down, feeling joy and love.
· I don’t want to feel just content with life. I want to be energised and thrilled by it. I want to wake up each day and jump out of bed with excitement for what the day will bring.
· I want to live more with intention. Making sure that I am making the most of every minute, deciding how I will spend my time based on what my family and I value most.
· I want to tap into my intuition and allow it to guide me and influence decisions more than just being logical and ruled by my head. Getting more of a balance between head and heart I suppose.
· I have also decided that this is going to be the year of the “challenge”. I seem to be better able to manage habit change when there is a reason for the change, e.g. a 30 day challenge. So, this year I am going to have a go at a few and see if I can kick start some good change. The first one is the 30 Days Of You Challenge that I started last Thursday, which is focusing on the mind, body and spirit and getting us focused and prepared for the year ahead. I will write about other challenges as they come up, but some ideas I’ve come across and am interested in are
o The Modern Mrs Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge – there are actually two challenges to choose from – one if you want to be reading for fun, and one for reading for growth, or you could do both. I plan to do both over the course of the year. The idea is you pick books based on a number of categories within the challenge. This idea is appealing to me because I have felt stuck in a bit of a reading rut lately, always picking the same type of books. Hopefully this challenge will inspire some diversity in my reading.
o Hal Elrod’s 30 Day Miracle Morning Challenge – Based on the principles outlined in The Miracle Morning, the 30 day challenge could be a great way for me to kick start some positive morning routines.
· I have been inspired by a couple of quotes lately from podcasts lately and I thought they could almost be like little motto’s or mantras for me this year:
o The first one was Danielle LaPorte in a podcast I listened featuring her and she was discussing the importance of saying no to others so that you have room to say yes to yourself and what you want/need. She said to listen to your instincts when someone asks you to go somewhere/do something. “If it’s not a HELL YES¸ then it’s a no.”
o The other one is from Gretchen Rubin’s podcast, HappJhHappier HApppHHHHhhhhahahHHapppier Happier, where she said a recent philosophy of hers is “if you cant get out of it, get into it”. The idea being, if there is something that you have to do, but are not really wanting to, it will probably be better for you and all involved if you just let go and decide to really make the most of it. I like this idea. A change in your attitude to something is sometimes all you need to make it much more enjoyable.
I would love to hear from you about your resolutions/goals/plans for the year. Did you make any new years resolutions? How are you going with them so far? Do you have any ideas for other challenges I should undertake? Would you like to do any of the challenges with me? I would love to hear your thoughts so make sure you comment below.