Look for the rainbow in the storm

Look for the rainbow in the storm

Welcome to my new look blog!  What do you think?

I have been absent from the blog for a long time now, last year got increasingly busy and I had to find something that fell off the list of things to do in order to try and preserve my sanity.
On Saturday I was driving to see a friend who was in hospital and was all alone with my thoughts in the quiet car.  School holidays were almost over and I was relishing the precious quiet time while I had the chance.  As I was driving I was mentally processing the day I had on Friday and suddenly a blog post was forming in my mind.  I was excited!  I haven’t even had the urge to write for a long time, but now, it seems I have the space that the words are ready to come again.
Friday was a tough day for me.  It was the day that our daughter, Hannah, should have turned 4 if she had survived.  I woke feeling as I tend to do on these anniversary type days, empty, lonely and trying to suppress the negativity.  “The kids need you, you have to go to work, get up and get on with it”.
If only it were that simple!
My almost 3 year old daughter had a terrible morning too.  She has had a lot of big changes in her tiny little life lately and it had all been getting a bit much for her.  With school and family holidays, she was out of routine, overtired, had given up dummies and nappies and was transitioning to another room at childcare.  She loved having her big brother home from school, but I think was also missing the time she was used to with Mummy that we usually have when he is at school.  It was all just getting a bit much for her.
Her tantrum started at 8.10am when she realised she had to go to “school”.  I wish I had a dollar for every time she screamed at me “I don’t want to go to school Mummy, I don’t want to go to school”.   I would be flying first class around the world on that payoff.
Because I had to get to work, and she was fighting me so much – you know how it goes, Mummy gets you dressed while you kick her, scratch her and scream at her, only to remove your clothes as soon as Mum turns around to get your shoes – she went to child care with no shoes on (they were in her bag), hair not done, teeth not brushed. I dropped her in her old room where she felt comfortable with the carers, but today, she was having none of it.  Screaming, clinging to me, begging me to take her to work with me, real tears, the whole works.  They literally prized her little arms from around me after twenty minutes and I ran out the door to have a good sob in the car.
The point of this post is not to have a whinge about my day, but to encourage you to look for the good in even the crappiest of days.
That particular day, several beautiful things happened.  I had a phone call from my Sister, who is always there, for all the good days and bad.  She had called just to say she knew it would be a hard day for me and that she was thinking of me.
I had a similar text from my oldest dearest friend.
A Pilates client came in saying “now where’s my favourite person today?”, meaning me (!), which was an unexpected boost to my spirits, because this particular lady finds social situations a bit difficult.
When I went to the gym after work before picking up the kids, a random stranger with problems much bigger than mine, reached out, smiled and introduced herself.
Her name is Julia and I think that Julia has significant vision problems among other things.  She was at the gym with her carer, and noticed me on the floor doing my ab work.  She came over, said “hi, whats your name” and we began chatting.  Her personal trainer got a bit cranky with us for distracting her from her workout, but that trainer has no idea how the short 2-3 minute interaction changed my day.
Perhaps that day, I was being sent little signs from everywhere that there is unexpected goodness when we choose to be open to it.  I want to choose to be open to it more often.
To put the phone down and look at my kids when they are talking to me.
To take the time to make meaningful connections with people.
To send short messages to those I love letting them know that I’m thinking of them.
To live more intentionally in the moment, and in the positive.
It is not easy to do all the time, but even if I get it right a third of the time more than I do now, what a great improvement that will be.
So now, if you will excuse me, I have some letters to write to those I need to thank.
Until next time,
E xx
How grateful can you be?

How grateful can you be?

This post is inspired by something I remember my Dad saying when he was in hospital having treatment for bowel cancer.  He had just had major abdominal surgery, and was recovering in his quiet, graceful way.  He said something to me like “imagine how many people were involved in helping me get better today”, and proceeded to list all the people that he could think of who were in some way involved in his stay in the hospital.  And not just the obvious ones like the Doctors, nurses and surgeons, he went deep and thought hard.  He included people like the people who transport the sheets to and from the laundry, the chef in the kitchen who prepared his food, the engineer who designed the machines that were used in the operating theatre, the scientist who discovered the combination of drugs for treatment, and many many others.

Today, as I sat peacefully in the sunshine enjoying a cup of tea on a break at work, I got to thinking about all the people I could be (and am) grateful for for helping give me this wonderful moment.  Obviously, the lovely lady in the cafe near my work who is always so friendly and knows how to make my tea just the way I like it.  But who else?  I sat for a good twenty minutes enjoying that tea, and here are just some of the people/things I came up with that had a hand in making it such an enjoyable experience:

  • The cow who produced the tons of milk I like to drink in my tea!  Also the farmer who owns the cows, the truck drivers who transported the milk, the supermarket staff where the cafe owner buys the milk from.  
  • The people who design and make the carton the milk comes in.  
  • Those that made the fridge that kept the milk chilled.  
  • The farmers who grew and harvested the tea.  Those that had a hand in turning it into the brew that sat in front of me today.  
  • The people who designed and made the teapot, cup and saucer my tea was served in.  The teapot maker was good, this particular teapot didn’t drip at all and kept the tea warm so my second cup was just right too. 
  • God or the Universe or whichever higher being you believe in, for delivering this sparkly, blue sky, warm day.  I appreciated the warm sunshine on the left side of my face even more after the particularly cold, rainy start we had to this week.  
  • The architects of the building I work in, for designing that beautiful little outdoor spot where I was able to sit in the sun, sheltered from the wind. 
  • The lady who massaged my neck and shoulders prior to my cup of tea so I was able to sit comfortably without the nagging headache that had plagued me for a couple of days. 
  • Everyone responsible for making, selling and transporting the table and chairs at the cafe. 
  • My beautiful client who i saw this morning who is a total inspiration and always makes my days brighter – with her “nothing will stop me” attitude to life, her determination and her sunny personality, spending time with her always puts me in a good mood. 
  • My husband and children, who also added to my good mood today.  We all managed to get ready for school and work without any stress or yelling, 
  • The people who planted the trees I was admiring while sipping my tea.  The colours in our little city at this time of year are just stunning.  
  • My bosses, who chose to buy the space for our studio in such a lovely setting. If I didn’t work there, or if our studio was in a different location, I never would have experienced this beautiful moment today. 
  • My husband for helping us make it work so that I can do a job that I love, a job that rarely feels like “work”. 
  • The workers at the Mint who made the money I paid with. 
  • The “gurus” I look to who have been instrumental in me discovering mindfulness, encouraging me to live more in the moment, and living life with more purpose and gratitude. 
On and on I went. I stopped when my phone beeped at me to go and teach my next session, but I could have stayed all day.  It was such a beautiful experience.  I wonder how much more joyful and satisfying life would be if we all practiced this approach more often.  It made me really be in the moment, and also I felt a strong connection to something bigger than me.  A part of the bigger picture, connected in some small way to people from all different walks of life, all because of this little cup of tea.  
Why not give it a go?  Pick any situation and apply my Dad’s suggestion.  I bet it lifts your spirits the same way it did mine today. 
Until next time, 
E xx
“When we rest, we rise”

“When we rest, we rise”

Image via Pinterest

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.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Thank you for the beautiful assignment.

Until next time,
E xx

So much more than stretching

So much more than stretching

pilates quotes - Google Search                                                                                                                                                      More:

Anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely LOVE my job as
a Pilates Instructor.  I have loved
Pilates since the moment I did my first mat class way back in 2005 (or was it
2006?). I instantly loved the way it calmed my mind while activating,
strengthening and stretching my body, all at the one time.  I knew then that this wouldn’t be just
another thing I tried and gave up on.  
Pilates for me would be for life. 
I am often asked by people who don’t know, “What is Pilates?”   It is hard to put into a short sentence, but
recently I have settled on what I think the essence of Pilates is.  Joseph Pilates says in his book, Return to Life Through Contrology (1945)
“If your spine is inflexibly
stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young” (p16)
And that is at the heart of what I think Pilates is all
about.  It is about keeping our spine
flexible, the muscles around it strong and supple, so the spine can move
freely.  It is about ensuring that we
move in a way that is connected to our centre, so we are supporting and protecting
our spine, always.  It is about finding
the perfect balance, where we find efficiency or ease of movement.   Every
part of our body from our feet to the crown of our head is in some way
connected to, and has an effect on, our spine. 
So yes, Pilates often does involve some stretching, but I
think lots of people do have the wrong idea about what it might be like to go
to a Pilates class.  I went to a special
Christmas class that one of my Pilates teachers put on as an end of year present
for his clients.  We were allowed to
bring someone along to give Pilates a go. 
Several women bought their husbands/boyfriends with them.  It was fun to watch as the guys struggled and
gained some insight and understanding of just how difficult and complex this
system of movement is.  Pilates is
definitely not easy.  But at the same
time, it is adaptable, so that any body (note the deliberate space between
those two words), can do Pilates.  I have
seen children, old people (we are talking in their 90s!), super skinny
people,  morbidly obese people, people
with severe injuries, elite athletes, new Mums, dancers, people who have never
been in a gym or played sport in their lives, and everyone in between, do
Pilates and do it well.
I think that people also may underestimate the knowledge and
abilities of their Pilates teacher. 
Anyone can open a studio and call it Pilates, however there has been a
lot of work done over the past decade to try and regulate the industry to
ensure quality education for Pilates teachers, and in turn, positive
experiences for our clients.  There is a
significant amount of work involved in becoming a Pilates teacher, and that learning that doesn’t stop throughout your career. 
I was filling in for a teacher recently and one
of her clients thanked me about twenty times throughout her lesson.  It was nice to feel appreciated.  I mentioned to her that I didn’t need that
much thanks though, that I was just doing my job.  She said that she used to teach swimming and
knew how it felt to not be thanked for the hard work you put in.  Immediately, I understood what she
See, as a teacher, it isn’t just about what you have learnt
during your qualification.  A good
teacher gives everything to their students. 
Continual practice, planning and thought goes into being a good
teacher.  Unpaid hours of research, analysis, and finding
new resources.  Learning more about the
body.  Building relationships with your
clients, because for a lot of what we need to do, there needs to be trust
between instructor and student.  We give
ourselves phychologically to our clients too, often giving you the last ounce
of energy we have in our sometimes almost empty tank!
It is a careful
balance of knowing when to push someone and when to hold them back.  Knowing what to release, what to stretch,
what to activate and what to strengthen. 
It is about making safe progressions, using our hands, words and bodies
to teach you a better way of moving so that your quality of life improves. 
It can be challenging, physical work.  I am often exhausted at the end of a
shift.  But OMG how I love it! 
Pilates has made me stronger. It has made me more flexible.  It has taught me mindfulness and helped heal
my body and mind.  It has introduced me
to some wonderful, inspiring people.  It
lifts my spirits and brings me clarity and energy.  And that is what I hope I can bring to my
clients each time I teach. 
So next time you go to a class of any kind, Pilates,
swimming, gym, art, whatever it may be, take a minute to think about what your
teacher has given you that day.  A small
thankyou at the end goes a long way to making them feel appreciated, and might
just re-spark their energy or passion for what they do once more. 
Until next time,
E xx
PS – if you are interested in giving Pilates a go, contact me to have a chat.  I can recommend some great studios 😉

Checking in

Checking in

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! 

Until next time,
E xx

How do you stay you while still being a Mum?

How do you stay you while still being a Mum?

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of catching up with a friend of mine from work . She has a lot on her plate – she has three babies under the age of two (an almost two year old daughter and two month old twins!).  She is amazingly together, I don’t know how she does it, but she seems really calm and collected.

We were discussing my blog and I asked what she would like to read about.  She asked a really good question,  how do you be a Mum without losing who you are?

So lets see if we can help her out.

I think the short answer is Core Desired Feelings, and the need to stay connected.  To yourself, to what’s important to you, and to others.  More about that later.

Firstly and most importantly, i think you need to be kind to yourself. This particular Mum is very early on in her journey as second time Mum, and it takes time just to figure out how to keep the family alive each day!  It is hard enough adding one baby to the family’s existing structure and routine, so I have no idea how she is managing with twins!  When the baby/babies are little, I think it’s really important to not expect too much from yourself.  Allow yourself time and space to get to know these gorgeous new little souls, and work out how each of you fit into this new world.

I honestly think that when you become a mother and primary care giver for small children, something shifts inside of you.  Rather than think about it as not losing yourself, i found it more to be about finding out who i am now in this new reality.  When we become a mother, we tend to step out of our masculine energy (the part of us that is career driven, always on the go) and are forced to stop, and either embrace or resist our feminine energy.  The magic happens when we can learn to embrace this time, enjoy it for what it is, and work this new role into our existing beliefs about who we are.  When we lean into the softness, become more gentle, that we can truly find out who we are.

There are lots of ways to connect with who you are at this time in your life.  The best way I have found is to just slow down.  Slow down and meditate.  It doesn’t have to be full on either, I started with three minute meditations three times a day.  With that stillness comes clarity.  The quiet allows our intuition a chance to be heard.  And in a funny twist of fate, by slowing down, I have discovered that I am actually able to do more.  Being in the moment, giving whatever it is that I’m doing m full attention, means that I do a better job at whatever I am turning my attention to.

The stillness and quiet allows you to figure out what is important to you.  Who you were before the babies came along, is still who you are now.  You are still in there, just a lot busier now with another, very important role.  Our Core Desired Feelings tend to stay stable across time and circumstance.  What drives you?  What are the things that are important to you now?  How do you want to feel every day, and what can you do to achieve those feelings?  What you can manage each day will look different depending on where you are in the motherhood journey.

Once the dust settles, and I promise, it will settle, then you can give yourself the space to claim back a little of yourself.  I think it is an incremental process. Start off with small things, like a cup of tea out in the garden when the babies are sleeping.  Or a long, guilt free shower.  Gradually, as things get easier, you are able to claim more time for yourself.  Give yourself one morning/night a week to do something you love – go for coffee with a friend, go to the gym or for a walk, get your nails done, read a book at the library, do some painting, or do whatever it is that lights you up inside when you have an hour to spare.

An important part of maintaining that sense of self when you have small children (and always!), is staying connected to other people.  Sometimes, as a stay at home parent, it can be lonely and isolating.  Some days it feels like too much hard work to go out and see people or have people over at your place.  And that’s ok.  But they key to happiness is creating and maintaining quality relationships with people.  So, my advice would be to make time to spend with those who connect you to who you are in your various roles in life – join a mothers group, catch up with your awesome former workmates (who don’t mind if you are in your pjs and haven’t showered for a week!), have your girl friends around for arvo tea.  It is hard to always catch up in person, so maybe part of your “me time” each week could be an hour where you get to lock yourself away in your bedroom and have a good chat on the phone to a close friend.  Or set up a “update email group” where a group of related people (friends, co-workers, family, mothers group etc) send short regular updates on what you have been up to.  I have stolen this idea from Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft (sisters who host the Happier podcast), who have this system in their family.  They came up with the idea after realizing that they have more to talk about when they finally are able to catch up in person if they know what has been happening in each other’s every day lives.  There is no expectation to reply to the emails unless you want to, and they are supposed to be short. I imagine the same idea could work on Snapchat, or set up a Facebook group and use the messaging feature.

My last piece of advice my friend would be to accept offers of help.  People want to help you, so take them up on their offers.  Let them come and enjoy snuggles with the babies and use that time to do something to refresh and recharge you.  Take a shower, a walk or a nap, hang out the washing (or let your friend do it for you), so you score some bonus free time later in the day.

So what do you all think, dear readers? Do you have any ideas for how my friend can stay connected to her former self?  What worked for you or what do you wish you had done differently? Comment below – you never know, yours may be the idea that is right for her. And it might make her, or other Mums feel a little less alone.

Until next time,
E xx

PS – if you are looking for a great program to help you reconnect with who you are, I can recommend the Reconnect Program run by Amy Taylor-Kabbaz of Happymama.com.au  Details of the program are at http://happymama.com.au/programs/reconnect-program/