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Less Stress at Christmas

less-stress-at-christmas-blog

Christmas is a special time of the year filled with joy and reunions – with parties to host and attend, guests and visitors to catch up with and gifts to exchange. Not to mention the shopping trips, planning and preparing, holidays, getaways and day trips to enjoy.

Christmas can also be extremely stressful, exhausting and challenging – for kids and parents alike. Sometimes getting everything done so that the big day is ‘perfect’ can end up leaving you drained and your children filled with agitation.

To beat the blues and have everyone enjoying the season to its fullest, here are some approaches to keep Christmas as stress-free as possible for you and your family.

Firstly be aware of the signs of holiday stress in your children. Signs of holiday anxiety can include –

  • Tears for seemingly minor reasons.
  • Nervous behaviours such as nail biting and ?hair twirling.
  • Physical complaints, such as stomach-aches, headaches, fatigue, diarrhea.
  • Regression to younger behaviours – bed wetting, eating with hands.
  • Withdrawal from friends or siblings.
  • Any behaviour that your child doesn’t normally do could be a sign of Christmas anxiety.

Helping family members, especially children, cope with holiday stress involves knowing their personalities and limits. As their parent you are the expert in this. So when the anxiety hits, take a breath and a step back, and consider how you could best manage the situation.

Here are some of my suggested stress management tips for your family –

  • Take children out of the spotlight during Christmas events at relatives’ or friends’ homes if they are feeling uncomfortable.
  • Combine parties and get-togethers to reduce the time you spend partying.
  • Stick with the routine as much as possible. Keep stressful holiday shopping and eating out to a minimum.
  • Start preparing for Christmas early to avoid holiday anxiety.
  • Ask your children what makes them feel better. Do they wind down with music, reading, spending time with you or playing with their friends, brothers or sisters? To help children calm down at Christmas, encourage them to do what they love often.
  • Make sure your children and you are eating nutritious foods, drinking lots of water, and getting exercise and time outside – a antidote to holiday anxiety.
  • Talk to your children about traditions and spirituality. If you have traditions, explain why they’ve stayed in your family. That sense of knowing why things are done this way will bring a sense of calm.
  • Bring a favourite blanket, pillow or stuffed animal (or other age appropriate familiar thing) if you’re staying with family or going away over the holidays. A bit of home always helps to be more relaxed.
  • Cope with your own holiday anxiety. The less holiday stress you feel, the more relaxed your children will be.
  • Volunteer at a charity, kids’ hospital, community centre or a cause (big or small) that is meaningful for you. Volunteering at this time of year brings a sense of contribution, satisfaction and involvement – and as the whole family gets involved there will be a moment where you all feel a connection to the true spirit of Christmas.
  • Lighten the mood with funny movie marathon days, park afternoons and cozy chats with hot chocolate treats – just getting out or staying in having fun together and laughing to let go of any built up stress.

Remember that with all its sparkle, expense and lists – the point of Christmas is togetherness, laughter, sharing, connecting and love. I often like to think of a word to represent my Christmas time. This theme keeps me on a calm purposeful course without getting caught up in the hype of shoulds, coulds, must haves and must dos. This year my word is appreciation.

What is your word this year?

Kirsty 🙂

 

Posted in: Parenting, Resilience

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Must haves in your home – Book Reviews

I have just reviewed two books for Exisle Publishing and want to share what I thought with you all.  It is rare that I come across books that I think should be in every family home.  These two tick all the boxes! They would both be excellent gifts for your family or friends, and  I know I will be getting a few copies as Christmas presents.  To find out more click the links below under each review.

The Art of Mindful Origami

9781925335293-copy25-01I loved The Art Of Mindful Origami from the moment I saw the cover and picked it up. Upon opening you notice that it is dedicated to experiencing each moment fully, and I could feel this concept oozing from the books pages.

There is a simple, yet powerful, synergy – the combination of understanding, colouring, folding and creating, which certainly promotes a calm and focused mind, as the author intended.

I found that Dr Richard Chambers combined the art of origami and mindfulness in such a masterful way, and each project is supported by a story about the piece to be made and mindful practice suggestions. I really liked the way it was easy to understand the explanations and exercises – even my 9 year old was hooked. It is a very nice touch providing paper, that has beautiful nature pictures on it, to use for each project, as well as paper to mindfully colour in and use to make the origami if you choose.

I highly recommend this book for all that need support setting time aside to engage fully in the moment, or to use as some great fun activities to do as a family around the table.

Find out more…

Australia: Illustrated

9781925335217-copy25-01The cover of Australia: Illustrated lets you know you have just picked up a book that will be in your family for quite some time. It is a hard cover, with a material type feel that says, “This book will become a family favourite.”

Tania McCartney has created a book that inspires discussions in the readers – big and little. As you open to the first page you are met with words describing Australia – big, beautiful and diverse. I can tell you that this is a good description also of this book; it’s content and the beautiful illustrations.

What I liked most was the colours, the engaging dialogue, and how I felt inspired to either find out more or go to visit some of the places after reading it. I felt it acknowledged how diverse and multicultural we are – yet so very Australian. As my son and I flicked through the pages I said that there was so much we were yet to see, taste and experience in our own remarkable country. We also spoke about how different one end was to another.

Our family is Separated by Work (we are a F.I.F.O family) so this book was extremely useful for us as it shared information and pictures of where ‘Daddy’ worked and gave lots of points to talk about with Dad next time he rang.

I know every family would treasure this book in their home, and have many fun and exciting conversations whilst exploring Australia through the pages.

Find out more…

I look forward to hearing what you think of these delightful books, and if your family enjoys them as much as mine did.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience, Separated by Work

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Beyond the Paper, Pen, and Envelope — Being Mindful Online

being-mindful-online

I think I might get T-Shirts made with the slogan—“Even though we’re miles apart, a computer screen connects our hearts.” It sums up my families reliance on technology to feel close and communicate when we are separated by work.

Our FIFO (fly in fly out) lifestyle demands we use phones, mobile devices, and computers more than we would if we were seeing each other every day. We all have instantaneous methods at our fingertips to communicate. This is a wonderful thing, and I personally am very grateful for it, yet there is more to consider when navigating online communication and social media—the to do, what to be aware of, and what to avoid.

Technology itself is not a bad thing—it is how it is used that can be a cause for concern. We need to be aware that technology can completely rewrite our brain pathways. For people who spend too much time interacting through a screen, the neural pathways change and different ones are created.

A study by UCLA professor Dr Gary Small in 2007 asked three regular internet users and three neophytes to browse websites, in an attempt to point out the cognitive differences between heavy and light multi-taskers. Dr Small discovered differences in the neural activity between both parties when tasked to Google pre-assigned topics. The part of the experienced Internet users’ brains involved in decision-making and problem- solving lit up like fireworks, but the same couldn’t be said for the other half of the group.

After further testing under this study, test participants were asked to browse the web for one hour a day. Dr Gary Small discovered that the inexperienced Internet users’ brains lit up like their experienced counterparts six days later. This showed that people’s web surfing habits change their neural pathways. Online activity affects concentration, self-esteem, and people can lose empathy.

Communicating via a screen can increase a lack of empathy. This leads to people saying things electronically they’d never say directly to someone—because the person to who they are talking to isn’t physically present to display their emotional reaction. Dr Gary Small said in 2011, “I think all this online time is weakening our face-to-face human contact skills. Many people, particularly young digital natives, gain social support through their hours of texting and social networking, but does that person who averages more than 11 hours each day using technology look you in the eye when you have a conversation? I know when someone maintains eye contact, I have a greater sense that he or she is listening and interested in what I have to say. I feel a greater empathic contact.”

I think it is as if the part of our nervous system that registers the feelings of others has been paralysed or removed when we are communicating electronically. I have had times where I was talking to others electronically and they respond in a way that shows the message wasn’t received as I intended. When we discuss further they are quick to realise that they had misread what I was saying due to us not being face to face.

Five tips to use phones and computers effectively –

  1. Don’t say anything electronically that you wouldn’t say in person.
  2. Use your words well, whether you are speaking, texting, or typing. Re-read it and attempt to avoid any misinterpretation before sending.
  3. Don’t delay responding to messages you would rather avoid. If you feel you don’t completely understand, ask for more information rather than disregard, or ignore it.
  4. Listen for tone of voice cues as to how the person is feeling or hearing what you are saying, and always check for understanding.
  5. Remember emojis are not a true expression of feelings— nothing is better than hearing a laugh and seeing a smile on someone’s face.

Mobile devices and computers are not just connecting tools for family and friends. The screen world expands to include a global network of people who have access to each letter you type and the technological footprint you are creating.

I enjoy the benefit of instantly sharing photos, quotes, memories, and activities on social media with my friends and family. I like that I can support others if they are struggling and post about it in an online group I am in. Just remember though that in these online groups some people use a screen and keyboard to confront others, and some share difficult emotions that they would not do face-to-face.

Use online communication and social media properly and mindfully. The Internet is an amazing tool and it is here to stay. To make technology serve you well requires good judgment. Aim for a balance of online and in-person connecting and really think about what you are posting and how that affects others. Think about how it represents you and your family and keep at top of mind that a gentle smile or a heartfelt hug has far more power than the cleverest emoticon. Please be aware of the other person’s situation or needs if you are tagging or mentioning someone, or a company, or a site on social media groups. If in doubt, get their permission first, or wait 24 hours and see if you still want to type and send that message.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience, Separated by Work

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Become a Master Blender

blending

I would like to introduce one of my favourite parenting strategies – blending.

I have become a master blender—I can blend activities to make sure that everyone’s needs and wants are met. I can blend to create a learning or fun space for my kids while I am getting a job done or relaxing. I find blending offers many opportunities to connect with my children, hear them, and be present with them completely. As my children grow I make changes to fit in with their needs and values at their current age.

blender-576331_1280Most activities can be blended. Just be aware of the ones that require your 100 per cent focus and place those in your calendar at a time when there are no interruptions. Once you identify the blend-able ones you can work them into your weekly scheduling. I have grouped activities by age to get you started. There are many more depending on your area, family situation, and family interests. Get together with your family to create more ideas.

Six activities for five and under-

  1. Baking and cooking together. Children enjoy watching, stirring, and touching. There is something about food that brings a family together. Give them their own bowl and let them go for it. You get your kitchen tasks done and have a chat and bond along the way.
  2. Walking (either pram-ing it or on their little bikes). Great way to get out, exercise, and talk about bugs, butterflies, birds, and trees.
  3. Meet friends at the park. Big people and little people combination time.
  4. Reading a book. Don’t forget the all important tickle time.
  5. From about three years old, let them help you clean. Give them their own cloth and/or bucket of plain water and guide them through the task.
  6. Sing and dance together.

Ten activities for primary school ages-

  1. Baking and cooking. Both my older children can bake and make a couple of main meals. Very helpful on make your own dinner night.
  2. Get out and kick a ball or play catch. Good for developing their skills and revisiting yours, and lots of laughing.
  3. When at sporting practise, catch up with new and old friends, take a book you have been meaning to read or listen to your music. Remember to watch them too.
  4. Brush your daughter’s hair and style it, play make up, paint each others’ finger nails and swap foot massages— Dads can do this too.
  5. They can read to you or practise their dance rehearsal while you do the dishes.
  6. Plan holidays, meals, and weekly activities together.
  7. For boys, lots of hugs, draw monsters and aliens, and build an indoor car tunnel and ramp out of toilet paper rolls.
  8. Play cards and board games. Join in on their video/ computer games. It can be a quick or long game—the point is to learn, laugh, and connect.
  9. Read with them. Have a time each week where you all lay out on your bed or carpet and read. Each one of you has your own book, it is just quiet time spent together, no talking; just learning to be in a room silently with someone you care about.
  10. Watch movies with them. Bring out the popcorn, blankets and turn the lights out. We have movie night every Friday and the kids love it.

Eight activities for high school ages-

  1. Afternoon snacks around the bench. Great time to chat about their day. They don’t tend to move while food is there.
  2. Go out to dinner and movies date. Go to a big people’s restaurant, rather than McDonalds.
  3. Play cards and board games.
  4. Plan holidays together.
  5. Just be there. The most important thing is to be there for your pre-teen and teen. Be present and withhold adult Talk to them about you and your day often. Don’t expect lots of conversation—yet be open for it.
  6. Shopping—especially for the girls.
  7. Extreme days out. Try rock-climbing, abseiling, swimming at a waterhole, or something in your area that is different. Their curiosity will get them wanting to join you and join in.
  8. Offer to do pick up and drop off to their destinations, sporting events, parties, and friends houses. Allow it to fit into your schedule as much as possible. It is a perfect time to be in touch with what they are up to, meet the friends, chat in the car (they can’t get out) and show you support them.

I make time each day for all my children to have one-on-one contact time. They know that in that moment I am just with them, for them, and not distracted by anything else. I am all ears, eyes, and heart. I ask questions to get them talking. This is the time I enjoy the most, even if it is just a few minutes.

What I like is that for that few minutes I get to look through a window into their rapidly changing world, and understand a little bit more about how it is for them.

How can you become a master blender, or how are you already juggling it all?

Kirsty 🙂

 

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting

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Book Review – One Minute Closer

book-review

I am continually blown away by the support my book – Separated by Work – receives from FIFO families, workers and the professional community.  I was left speechless though when this review came through from Regan.  Regan is an excellent blogger and heads up One Minute Closer, an App that allows families to stay connected and share rosters.

He writes –

“Anyone who has worked away, or had loved ones work away for extended periods, knows that it comes with both a magnification of any existing issues and a set of different challenges from “normal” employment.

Folks have countless coping strategies; some excellent and some not so much…some intentional and some on pure subconscious reaction. I’m in no position to say which are best but what I do know is you can never have too many options.

So couple of months ago I was message tic-tac’ing with the lovely Kirsty O’Callaghan about a few things FIFO well-being. In this chat she asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her book – Separated by Work.

Now as well as being an author, Kirsty is an accomplished Public Speaker, Executive Consultant, Coach and FIFO Wife / Mum who has numerous awards and accolades to her name. So as you can imagine, I wasn’t sure if she was actually serious, so of course when she asked for a postal address I knew she was fair dinkum and I couldn’t wait to see what this book had in store for me.

So after a couple of cross country flights and a few late nights, here are my brief thoughts on Kirsty’s FIFO Paperback.

Long Story Short

Separated by Work is 276 pages dedicated to Kirsty’s take on all things FIFO. It is aimed at building, bolstering, or consolidating the FIFO stakeholder’s tool kit of coping / resilience strategies so we all can get the most from this chosen life style.

Kirsty covers a broad spectrum of topics and she has broken down the book into six parts. The Parts and their corresponding Chapters are titled so they are self-explanatory and a clear reference point for their contents. Each can be read as a stand-alone section/chapter to the rest of the book; so if one title draws your attention, to you can dive straight into that chapter.

Along the way there are plenty of personal anecdotes, shared stories from FIFO workers and suggestions from Kirsty’s own experience / research. During most of the chapters, you are engaged with questions and short activities with space to make notes

Subject matter experts (SMEs) in specialist fields are also utilised to succinctly provide expert opinion directed at the FIFO audience. These range from financial planning to relationships; healthy eating to raising special needs children.

What I really liked…

The Range of Topics

Kirsty covers literally the entire gamut of issues and challenges that FIFO workers and their families do or may encounter; to the point where this book would be a helpful tool for those who are just interested in tips on general life.

Separated by Work captures the usual FIFO suspects with  Chapter titles like – About the Money, Relationship Success – 50 Shades of Away and Communication – Words that can Boost, Crush or Baffle.

But, it also ventures into some lesser known struggles of the FIFO existence such as – Managing Change for High Support Needs, Life After FIFO, The Unexpected – You Cannot Prepare For It and my favourite…Not Just About a Happy Ending.

The SME input

No one is as smart as the sum of all of us, something that Kirsty really taps into. She has not engaged any old SME but ones from her own close network. For me this adds so much more authenticity to the read and you can really feel that these professionals want to make a difference for Kirsty’s audience.

There is Louise the Home Economist and Professional Organiser; Delma the Portfolio Manager; Kim the Eating Psychologist and Health Coach; and Anna the Online Communication Specialist.

Personally, the most enjoyable was Carmel Murphy whose passion and dedication to special needs kids almost jumped off the page and slapped me!! Her advice on Social Stories is excellent and is something I plan to try with my 3.

What I loved!!

The activities

At first I thought these were a bit gimmicky so skimmed over them to concentrate on the reading. It wasn’t until I got all the way to Chapter 6 that I tried one…and was hooked!!

I went back and did all the previous activities and found them interesting, enjoyable…and intrigued as to what they managed to suck out of me. Even now reviewing my notes to write this review, I am loving the reflection on these and how much self-awareness they provided.

The Structure

For me, this book is a reference tool and one that I will keep handy. The format which Kirsty has utilized is fantastic for this purpose. The titles of the parts and chapters mean there is no flicking through thinking “where did I read that again”.

The information is also segregated in such a way that limited cross referencing is needed and there is little preceding information needed to pick up and jump straight into any chapter. The parts flow well and are in a good order to keep the theme of the book rolling and consistent.

Add to this the words and line spacing are conducive to a casual read and the chapters are short enough to hold my attention…which is not that easy!!

The Openness and Frankness of the Discussion

this is the passionfruit icing between two vanilla crumbly cookies. It added that piece of bitter / sweet flavour that that makes Separated by Work the enjoyable treat that it is.

Kirsty really opened up and shared some very intimate information from her family and personal experiences. Believe me this takes courage, character and conviction but adds the perfect amount of extra credibility and integrity that just completes the work.

The Wrap

Separated by Work is not a gospel or bible for all things FIFO, nor does it pretend to be. But it is the best collation I’ve come across yet of facts, thoughts, experiences, tips and advice to cover all stakeholders in this lifestyle.

For those new to FIFO, or looking to take the plunge, this book is a fantastic tool to build some realistic expectations about what to expect and to start planning for what you are likely (and unlikely) to encounter.

For the experienced FIFO workers / families, it provides a great opportunity for personal reflection on the problems we face and possibly offer some new solutions to them. This was definitely the case for me as it bought a whole other perspective to common issues we in the FIFO thing all have faced and I’ve come away with some new angles of attack, no doubt.

One big piece of value I took from Separated by Work, and totally unexpectedly, was the tangibility and awareness of seemingly quite common challenges that many of my colleagues and team members face. Things that have not affected me and I never gave a second thought to, are covered by Kirsty and it really reminded me that “everyone has a story, especially in FIFO”.

So there you have it, my very brief and totally unqualified thoughts on Separated by Work. Of course, don’t take my word for it, go to the Unity Words website and check it out for yourself.”

Today I am so very grateful for this review, and I am proud that my ‘paper baby’ is out there in the community making a difference.

Please check out One Minute Closer website, or their Facebook page.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Company News, Separated by Work

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Do your relationships inspire or drain you?

relationships-2

We are wired for relationships and building these relationships is tied to our happiness and well being. Resilience research shows there are behaviours within family, friendship, and community environments, which nurture resilience.

The three types of relationships that build resilience are –

  1. Caring relationships—Relationships that convey understanding, respect, and interest.
  2. High expectation messages—Firm guidance, structure, and challenge. Conveying a belief in the person’s strengths and assets, rather than problems and deficits.
  3. Opportunities for meaningful participation—Having opportunities for valued responsibility, making decisions, speaking out, being heard, and contributing talents to the group or community.

To enhance this third area of relationships—consider the people you hang around with the most. A person’s happiness, feelings of being supported, and the ability to cope is influenced by their social environment. Three helpful questions are –

  1. Do we have similar likes, values, and goals?
  2. Do I feel inspired and supported when I am around them?
  3. Am I comfortable to be truly me when I am with them?

Think about where you are right now, your life results, your behaviours, your view of the world, and how you feel. Then consider the five people you are around the most. There could be many similarities as well as either opportunities to grow, or limiting circumstances and conversations. I have found that we become who we hang around, so if you are not feeling like you belong, are uncomfortable, or feel that you want different results and want to be inspired and supported—be around different people.

Why be around people that bring you down, that drain your energy? Why give your thoughts, focus and time to those that don’t even bring a smile to your face or a warm and fuzzy feeling to your day?

My suggestion is to ask yourself if that relationship is sustaining you or draining you. The answer should determine your next steps. Do not judge others poorly because they are not a right fit for you, we are all on a journey somewhere; you are just going in a different direction.

I value my close friends highly as I know they value me too and we follow through on what we say we will do for each other. It is a safe place to be me, express my self, feel accepted and loved, no matter what. I like the saying that goes, “My best friends know everything about me, and they are still my friends.” The love I get from my group is a stepping-stone to feeling anything is possible.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Resilience

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The Connected Business Woman

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I am not an online marketing professional, nor am I a social media expert. Yet I have realised how important it is to be connected on many different platforms. In this blog I share my thoughts on keeping your sanity and credibility whilst building and maintaining your online presence.

There are numerous social media sites – all with different audiences and purposes. There are quite a few conferencing and webinar tools at your fingertips to choose from. Someone suggests that short videos are the next best was to connect. Then you must blog and make sure your website is representing your brand in a way that excites and invites people to do business with you. Not to mention at some point you also have to do the work that actually makes you money.

You could spend most of your working hours updating profiles, writing posts, hash tagging, commenting, liking and uploading. You could employ or contract someone to do it. But you need to ask yourself what will bring you the most money, build your online and business profile/credibility, and what tools are most effective for your business. Then add the question, “How do I balance it all so that I am not sitting on the couch at night with my family still doing ‘work’ tasks?”

I got stuck in this cycle of trying to cover all platforms – posting and blogging everywhere and all hours of the day. I spent hours attempting to make and upload that natural off the cuff three-minute video of me just saying hi to the watchers and sharing a thought that would change someone’s life! A blog would take at least two hours by the time I wrote it, edited it, uploaded it, found the right picture and then shared link. I would wake up in the morning, go for my run then spend 20 minutes checking social media before breakfast! By the end of each working day at least half of it was spent online jumping from one site to another. And if I went to a seminar that was teaching me something about an online platform you were lucky if you saw me for the next couple of days as I applied everything I had learnt with the promise of super exposure and business opportunities.

What changed? I took some time off and saw that my business and profile didn’t disappear just because I wasn’t all over it every day. I saw that there is true value in being connected, yet the value comes from a balanced, healthy and strategic approach. I thought about who was my online audience – and what they wanted to see so they could connect with my products, my professional services and me. I also looked, very closely, at which platforms were more likely to convert into sales, create brand awareness, and which were just ‘social’.

So I came up with my plan. I investigated what are the most engaging posts for different social media platforms and action that. The platforms that serve my business and book best are newsletters, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. I give no more than one hour per day up keeping my online presence. I make face to face contact and phone calls my priority. I have learnt to use Zoom to conference and webinar. I reuse and recycle a lot of my writing so that I can cover many options and platforms with little effort. I write for businesses that have huge followings online so that I increase my profile organically through that. I chat (face to face or on the phone) a lot to my friends who are online savvy or doing something that I find impressive, and discover what I could be doing differently, and how to do it without paying someone.

To be successful in the business world you have to be connecting with your audience on a regular basis. This has always been the case; it is just now we have many more ways online to increase our exposure for little or no cost. The trick is to manage your virtual world so that it is still making you money, building your profile and giving you real leads. You also have to manage your time and the energy your give to it so that it does not create a black hole of lost productivity.

In business know you and a bit of like you can come by online connecting – but trust you may need a bit more work and contact to make that sale.

I like to check in and ask myself often, “Is my online messages and profiles congruent to how I introduce myself to a room of people, have a trade table at an event, meet a prospective client for lunch or attend a business meeting?” I will always look for better ways of doing things – I think as the world gets more connected through a screen being better than your competition means keeping your message clear, your integrity in tact and balance it all out with time away from the devices and connecting face to face.

How can you make your online presence and activities more clear, meaningful and profitable, and less time wasting?

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Resilience

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Life can be hard sometimes…

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Life can be so hard sometimes, can’t it? The day in day out ‘stuff’, like –

  • Meeting all the expectations and demands of others.
  • Trying to look like you are successfully juggling it all.
  • Putting on a happy face when you really just want to say, “no, I’m not okay!”
  • Friends and family letting you down – yet you can’t mention it in case you look insensitive.
  • Pretending your whole family is so happy – like the Brady Bunch.
  • Moments when you think that you need some new goals because life isn’t exciting or purposeful anymore.
  • Life is dishing you up lemons instead of Lamborghini’s.
  • Then to top it all off – you are getting closer to 50 and there are bits that just aren’t doing what they are supposed to!

I am certain this is just not me, actually I know this isn’t just me as most of my friends and clients, at some point, go through all this too.

Is there a special trick to overcoming these moments? Is there a quick fix that works for everyone else? Some would like you to think so, but…

I don’t know about any tricks or quick fixes that actually have a substantial long-term impact – yet I do know that not giving up and being open to other possibilities is a start.

We are now in spring in Australia. It is a time of warming up and getting outside more to enjoy the sunshine, and a time of growth for plants (and people too).

It is the best time to think about and begin to plan new possibilities and watch them grow. It is a time to reflect and put to rest what isn’t working and the things you no longer want to move forward with. It is a time, which I use, to welcome in the energy of nurturing newly planted ideas and doing what it takes for them to grow strong and balanced.

My big announcement this month, after a couple of months of feeling like I had no clear direction, I decided to hit the books again and am going to University – beginning 1st semester next year. I have been offered a place in Bach of Communication. I fell in love with writing last year whilst writing my first book, and I want to get even better at this art. I will be doing this part time so I can work around my business and my family. I am so excited, and feel that inner drive deep in my belly again. I know this is the right thing for me to be doing right now – as yet though I have no idea how I will pull it all off! My nervousness was overcome when my offer came through on the 1st September – 1st day of spring – can’t get a better ‘sign’ than that of being on the right path!

When life is being hard and heavy, I acknowledge it, then get out a piece of paper and begin to write what it is, what I want to be different and what I can do now – even the smallest thing – to begin change. It is amazing what gets written on that paper, just like my decision to study again.

Enjoy the energy and possibilities that spring can bring for you – allow spring to soften the tough bits so that new things can grow.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Resilience, Separated by Work

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S.T.O.P – Begin to disentangle yourself from negative thoughts, reactions and judgments.

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On of my favourite mindful practices is S.T.O.P.  It is easy, quick and effective. I have shown many of my clients and students this skill over the years and it is an essential to keep your calm – or return to your calm space – when moments of overwhelm, frustration, chaos, madness and confusion take over.

S.T.O.P stands for –

S = Stop right now

T = Take a breath

O = Observe

P = Proceed

To be able to consciously pause and stop is a very powerful state. When you pause you give yourself permission to not have to be anything or do anything in that moment – you give yourself a mini break to reflect and become aware of the present where there are only choices.

Following this with a couple of deep breathes in and out to release tension will clear uneasy feelings in your body and reduce anxiety levels. You may then begin to notice that you have more clarity and insight into the situation that got you so wound up.

From this vantage point of calm and possible clarity you can just observe what is actually going on around you and within you, and a new awareness will be gained. You can begin to ask questions at this time. What is this really about? What would be a way to deal with this that would be okay to all involved? Do I need more information? What could I be doing differently? How do I really want to handle this?

Then you are much better able to proceed with your next action or non-action – whatever you feel most appropriate, beneficial, and right for you. You will be more in control and accepting, and better equipped to deal with the situation in a way you feel comfortable with and that will get better results for all involved.

Today take time to S.T.O.P and then move forward more confidently, clearly and calmly.

Kirsty 🙂

 

 

Posted in: Mindfulness, Resilience

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What is it you decide to create?

IMG_0111A verse by Kirsty to inspire you to overcome setbacks, leap over overwhelm and feel encouraged to turn the unfortunate situations into fortunes.

Resilience, to some, what a big, big word,
Some even shiver each time it is heard.
It may remind them of those who win,
And how they don’t have what it takes and are failing.

They say, “those people are just luckier than me,”
Or, “they have no idea what hardship I endure and see.”
Their motto is “I can’t do that” or “that is impossible”
Or “you just don’t understand, I’m not like you – unstoppable.”

Well let me tell you right here and right now,
Resilient people don’t run with the crowd.
They don’t buy into what is possible and not,
They don’t even accept that this is their lot.

Resilient people endure failure, setbacks and traumatic events,
Then they get up and just take the next steps.
They hurt just like you, and even have thoughts of unfairness,
They just don’t let it stop them; they lift their pain tolerance.

Resilient people don’t say “this is because of you,”
They say instead, “it is up to me to see this through.”
They keep a smile on their face,
Even though, to others, it may seem out of place.

Resilience is to be well, to be happy, and to be better,
So how can this happen without a bit of pressure?
So next time you think you can’t or you won’t,
How about deciding that you can definitely cope.

Maybe, just maybe, this terrible thing is teaching you,
How amazing and capable you are too.
That if you could, for a moment, be positive and regulate that emotion,
You will find a way to grow, learn, create change and forward motion.

So now it is up to you,
You can stand on the sidelines, or you can participate too.
You can play the game, the game that is life,
Love it or hate, it is the only choice that causes winning or strife.

Give yourself meaning, purpose and permission,
That never again will you live in submission.
You will never give up, be resigned to a fate,
It is all up to you, what is it you decide to create?

– by Kirsty O’Callaghan

Posted in: Resilience

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