10 lessons from a baby that we can apply to everyday life

Isla (64)
Image by Bree Winchester Photography

I know I have been very absent from my blog for the past year, I’ve been enjoying mummyhood and surrendering to my new lifestyle in order keep flow and balance in my life as much as possible. Rather than give you a rundown of what life with a bub looks like for me, I thought I’d express some of my musings and ‘aha’ moments while taking care of my babe and watching her grow. Babies are so innocent, I’m sure you already know that. I believe there is so much wisdom in their innocence. They haven’t been exposed to societies ideals or opinions, marketing or other things that impact our thoughts and behaviour. They are perfectly themselves and I think it’s a great reminder for us to go back to being ourselves and what truly matters. So I’m sharing some of my lessons from my darling girl, in no particular order of importance:

1.
       Be in the moment
One of my favourite mantras; ‘Present moment, only moment’, really rings true. Babies are always in the moment, noticing the things around them, in a state of just ‘being’. They aren’t thinking about the past or the future (it seems to me!). Whatever activity we are doing, they are there one hundred percent. When was the last time you were truly present in the moment?

2.       Sit up straight
Wow, when babies learn to sit, they have the straightest backs! When did we begin to slouch? Just looking at my girl sitting is a reminder for me to activate my core, put my shoulders back and sit up a little taller.

3.       Be curious
If something grabs your attention, explore it. Don’t leave it alone until you’re satisfied you understand it. Always observing, questioning, learning, keeping that mind active and expanding and growing within yourself.

4.       Speak up
Ok, so my baby was never a quiet baby. She’s quite the communicator! In those early days, a baby’s main form of communication is crying and my girl was loud. But I love that when she was hungry, tired, wanted comfort, had wind or whatever it was, she ‘spoke up’. She certainly let me know. People aren’t mind readers, sometimes you need to articulate and spell out your needs and wants. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. I know for most of us its way out of our comfort zone, but we all have a voice, we should use it for what matters to us.

5.       Keep trying
When a baby is learning to sit, crawl, walk, climb etc, they never master it the first time. They fall, they get bruised, it hurts and it’s frustrating. But that moment when they have mastered it, they know it. The look of pride and joy on their face just makes your heart explode! I’m sure they know how hard they have worked for that moment, what they have learnt along the way and how good it feels to finally achieve their goal. What a wonderful lesson to apply to our own lives! Never give up, learn from your mistakes and enjoy those successes.

6.       Celebrate the milestones (no matter how small)
I think this one beautifully leads on from the previous lesson. Celebrate all of your achievements. Sometimes it may be that you stuck to your exercise goals for the week, prepared a delicious meal or got a promotion at work. Celebrate! With babies we get excited about the first time they poo, smile, roll over, crawl, walk, eat a particular food etc etc. Bring back that sense of wonder into your own lives!

7.       Enjoy the simple things
My baby is a true nature girl. She has a lot of toys but her happy place is in the garden, playing with leaves, sticks, rocks, mud, sand and watching animals and people. Splashing in the water is exciting, watching fish swim is interesting, daddy coming home from work is a favourite time of the day. Playing little games like peek a boo is fun. Family time is even better. Remember what truly matters and enjoy it!

8.       Life is a musical
Yep, you can make up a song about anything in life and about anything you are doing. Just for fun and to keep the baby amused and settled. Try making up a song while you’re getting dressed or doing the dishes. It will turn the most mundane tasks into entertainment and it will put a smile on your face too.

9.       Don’t take no for an answer
How many of us mums say no to our babies and they do it anyway? They are pushing the boundaries and seeing how far they can go. If someone says no to you, and it’s something that is important to you or something you really want, go for it. Find another way to get it or do it. I recently read a something that said the world changes every single time you say yes to your dreams. How amazing is that?! Don’t let no stop you in chasing your dreams.

10.   Love
True love is unconditional and actions can speak louder than words. All you need is love.

I could probably keep going but 10 lessons is enough for now! I’d love to hear if you’ve learnt some life lessons from your little darlings in the comments below.

 Shine bright lovely ones.xx

How I made peace…

_DSC6620Ever since my interview with Gaby Gogarty about my fertility journey, I have wanted to follow up with how I came to make peace with my situation. I mention in the interview that thoughts of having a baby don’t consume me, I have surrendered to whatever will be, will be. There were a few steps in making peace with the fact that I may never have children of my own and I want to share that with you, in the hope that it may help you on your own journey. I also think these steps can be translated to support healing in other situations such as a bad break-up, job loss or overcoming a health issue.

Gratitude
This was definitely the first step in regaining my happiness and strength. I began with being grateful for the simplest of things such as being able to see and hear. My body may not be able to do exactly what I want it to do at that time, but it is strong enough to hike to the top of a mountain or get me through a tough yoga class. I was grateful for all of the things that my amazing body could do. Beyond my physical self, I also thought about how fortunate I am to have a lot of love in my life from my husband, family and friends. I have a modest but beautiful home and a job that allows us to live comfortably. As a primary school teacher, I am surrounded by children every day and have a very important role in their lives. I also have two stepsons and nieces and nephews, there are a lot of children in my life.

If you are going through a difficult time at the moment, I can’t speak enough about the simplicity of gratitude and focussing on what you do have. This simple act brings so much happiness and a new perspective.

Visualisation: “If I don’t have kids, what will my life look like?”
Once I made the decision that IVF was not the right thing for me, I had to face the fact that there was a very small chance that I could have a baby of my own. If this didn’t happen, what would my life look like? This was a conversation that my husband and I had together, as it’s not just my life, it’s our life. I’ve never known what it is like to have a child so it was quite easy for me to not get caught up on what I could possibly be missing out on.

The biggest factor that came to mind was freedom. Once my stepsons have finished school, we would be free to travel, possibly even live overseas, downsize our home and move closer to the beach. There were many options for us and a future to look forward to. A positive spin on things can make all the difference.

Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.
– Hippocrates

Growth, move on, set goals, take action
The best way to take your mind off something is to be active. I decided that the most important thing was for me to focus on being the healthiest and happiest version of myself. I completely overhauled my beauty regime. I ditched the perfumes, commercial deodorants and hair products, face creams and make up. I replaced all of this with chemical free and non-toxic versions. I also began to only shop at farmers markets for my fruit and veg and found an organic farmer who delivers to my door. I ate a lot more gut healing foods and cooked a lot more from scratch. I also continued with my outdoor yoga and walking routine. Eventually my lifestyle and interests led me to enrol at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Studying and working full time, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and relationships as well as starting my own business filled me up each day. I was growing personally, setting goals and achieving them. 

Translate the qualities of being a mum…
Finally, I couldn’t help but think I would be a great mum. I’m caring, nurturing a good listener, quite calm and patient and would love seeing something that I created grow every day. All of these qualities can certainly be suited to other situations. As a Health Coach and having my own business, I employ these qualities each day and it is incredibly fulfilling. Plus, I’m a fur mumma to my beautiful dog and he gets a lot of love and nurturing from me!

It may be helpful, if you’re going through a difficult time, to think about the feelings or qualities that you believe you are missing out on. Or perhaps the attributes that are important to you. What are some other ways that you can get this into your life?

When things aren’t going the way you had hoped or planned, it can be very easy to allow thoughts of this to occupy your mind and your time. This can make the situation worse as it begins to wear you down and affect your happiness and eventually, your health. I hope that the process I went through to make peace with my situation will also help you through yours. I would love to hear from you if you found something in this article that resonated with you. Please leave a comment below.

If you missed my interview with Gaby Gogarty, you can read it here.

Shine Bright.x

Make Peace with Your Plate – Book Review

make-peace-with-your-plateReading is one of my favourite things to do. I usually have about three books on the go; one for business, one for health/spirit and one for fun. Then I have more books waiting for me when I’ve finished them. I also have an ever growing list of “must reads” to get through!! Who’s with me? Earlier this year I joined a Wellness Book Club where us book nerds share our thoughts and ideas about a particular book each month. One of the books we read was Make Peace with Your Plate by Jess Ainscough, and now I’m sharing my review with you.

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Australia’s very own Wellness Warrior has left a significant legacy. The passing of Jess Ainscough earlier this year was felt by the many lives she touched. The authenticity of her blog and her story as well as her message of wellness resonated with so many people who in turn felt a connection to her. I had followed her blog for a couple of years and credit her inspiring story, enthusiasm and dedication to health for sparking a transformation in my own life. I started 2015 with my ‘books to read this year’ list which included Make Peace with Your Plate – finally! Picking up this gem for the first time after her passing was both comforting and poignant.

Jess’ story is both heart-breaking and remarkable. At just 22 years old her life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with a rare type of incurable cancer and told that her only option to prolong her life was to amputate her arm. She was like any young woman; partying, living each day as it comes, surviving on junk food and battling body issues. Her shocking diagnosis was a life-changing catalyst for extreme change to her lifestyle, beginning with a three week stay at the Gerson clinic in Mexico. Two years of hourly fresh, organic veggie juices each day, a basic plant based diet and five coffee enemas a day followed.

She was absolutely, one-hundred percent committed to her health with the support of her parents, boyfriend and fur babies. An obsession to research everything about natural, alternative cancer therapies and treatments as well as how to bring her body to optimum health forms the basis for a lot of information in this book. She acknowledges that the information isn’t new, but rather something we have forgotten along the way and need to relearn.

What I absolutely love about Make Peace with Your Plate is that it is part reference book, part autobiography and part self-help book, all interwoven in an easy to read and light kind of way. She speaks about the chemicals in our foods, nutrition, whole-foods, a plant based diet and debunks some ‘truths’ about dietary claims. She shares some useful information on superfoods and how to use them as well as reading labels. Most useful is the ‘how’. You will find a lot of value in how to put all of this information into practice.

Going beyond the plate, Jess rightfully acknowledges that our wellbeing is based on more than what we put in our mouths. We must take a holistic approach. For me, having a regular meditation practice is important but something I never prioritise. Jess shares the details of her own practice and how to do it, this really helped me out with my routine. While reading this book I also got back into dry body brushing and felt amazing for it. I was also inspired to try oil pulling for the first time. All I can manage is 3 minutes. I’m not sure how someone with kids or a dog could possibly do this for 20 minutes in the morning. Another thing is the coffee enemas…..hmmm, still need to get my head around that one!

We can read a number of text books or spend an afternoon googling the theories and philosophy for health and wellness included in Make Peace with Your Plate. But what we would be missing out on is Jess’ incredibly inspiring story. How a young woman with a serious illness intuitively makes decisions for her own health, researches daily practices and nutritional information to allow her to thrive and manages to live a life full of gratitude and positivity. Her holistic approach to wellness and what that looks like in her daily life is what sets this book apart from the rest. Her authenticity, honesty and passion shines throughout this entire book, engaging the reader from start to finish.

A truly inspiring book that empowers us to live our healthiest lives.

Have you read Make Peace with Your Plate? I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you enjoyed this book review please let me know in the comments. If it’s something you’re interested in, I would really enjoy writing more reviews for you.xx

An interview with freeinthesea2014 on following your dreams, overcoming challenges and making a difference

isaWho has ever dreamed of selling up and travelling around the world? Quitting your job, buying a boat and setting sail? This is exactly what my courageous and adventurous friends, Isabel and Mick, did in December 2013. They sold most of their possessions, quit their jobs and left Australia to follow their dream of sailing to beautiful places, living a simple life and having an adventure. What’s even more inspiring is that they are also on a mission to raise awareness and educate communities about the effects of marine pollution. With their blog, freeinthesea2014, as well as through social media, I’m sure their message will be heard around the world.

We may not have the same dreams as Isabel and Mick, but I am sure that you will find their story of inspired action, passion and adapting to change motivational. Isabel is one of my closest and beautiful friends who truly shines from within and I am so excited to be featuring an interview with her. Oh how amazing technology is being able to interview someone moored off an island in the Caribbean!!

What has been the biggest challenge since making the decision to set sail?

My biggest challenges have been to find stability amongst constant change, living out of my comfort zone and facing fears. Although I used to sail as a child in little boats, I have had to overcome many fears since moving to our boat. I’m still very inexperienced so I’m scared of so many things like sailing at night, strong winds, big waves, pirates, and so much more. Moving from one place to another is exciting but it can be quite tiring too. You have to quickly learn how to adapt and how to find your centre inside of you and not depend on outside things for stability.

How did you overcome it?

Like with anything that scares us, the best way to overcome it is by doing it. I also believe in the power of positive thinking so I use affirmations to help me overcome my fears. If I see any negative thoughts coming to my mind, I quickly stop them by exchanging them with positive ones. As I mentioned before, being on the move, makes me a bit anxious at times, so I find that meditation helps a lot; just sitting quietly somewhere, closing my eyes and focusing in that place between my eyebrows or the centre of my heart, helps me calm my mind and brings me to feel peace again.

What has surprised you on your travels?

It has surprised me to see how badly managed rubbish is on most of the islands that we have visited around the Caribbean and in some places in South America like Ecuador; how littering is still a big problem and the lack of understanding on how big the problem of plastic pollution is and how it is affecting our oceans. In most of the islands, there are not well established waste management nor recycling centres, they don’t separate their rubbish and there is so much rubbish thrown to the streets and everywhere. This has been very sad to see, and has made me realize that there is a lot to be done.

You’re not just travelling for fun, you’re also spreading an important message about marine pollution. Why is this cause so important to you?

I’ve spent all my life around the ocean; I used to spend all my summers on the beach in Ecuador, first sailing then later on surfing. My parents taught mrubbishe to respect nature and I remember my dad always picking up rubbish from the beach, so I’ve copied his behaviour in some way. I’ve seen the amount of plastic that washes off on the beaches wherever we go. I have seen what it’s causing to the animals and I understand the negative impact that it’s causing to the environment and to us. I believe that this is a problem that can be solved by changing our habits and making smarter choices in the products we use every day. We are all connected. If the ocean is sick, we are sick and it’s up to us to make a difference. The ocean, nature, has given me so much in life. I cannot just sit and watch it being destroyed by our reckless behaviour, so that’s why I’m doing all I can to spread the message and at least make people think about the consequences of our actions.

Tell us about I.M. Recycled.

Before we moved onto our boat, we spent 8 months in Ecuador in 2014. Although I had been going back and visiting my family every year, I hadn’t spent that much time back since I left in 2005. The first few weeks when we arrived, we rented a little cabin on a beach called Ayampe. Here we were shocked by the amount of rubbish that was on the beach. We did a few beach clean ups but we knew that this was just a band aid solution to a much bigger problem.

With my background in education, I knew we needed to focus on spreading the word and telling others what was going on. So we started collecting plastic bottle caps and creating doormats with them. We contacted my old school and before leaving Ecuador we did a few talks about plastic pollution and showing the students what we were doing with the plastic we were finding on the beach. Everywhere we go, we continue to collect bottle caps and now we are not only making doormats but place mats and coasters for drinks. We try to contact local organizations in some of the places that we stay longer, work together with them and join in on beach clean ups.

This year, we’ll be arriving back in Ecuador around November and we’ll stay until the beginning of April. During this time, we are planning to launch an educational campaign about plastic pollution, visit more schools and organize bigger beach clean ups. We really believe that the main problem is lack of education and we would like to motivate people to change the situation by taking more action. I truly believe we can all make a difference.

im-recycled-6             doormat

How is your message received in the places you travel to?

What I’ve been trying to do is to contact people that are already doing things for the environment before I arrive in the new place. With social media this part is easy. It has giving me a chance to get to know people as passionate as me about the problem of plastic pollution and protecting our environment and sometimes we exchange ideas or we work together on beach clean ups. We have created a Facebook page for Ecuador called Mingas por el Mar EC where we share information about the problem and we look to make it easier for like-minded people to connect. I have seen great interest in the people in this country to be part of beach clean ups and to collaborate so it gives me hope that we can make it happen and that this project will be a successful one.

I’m sure it’s not all calm seas, tail winds, clear skies and sunshine. You and Mick spend a lot of time together in some challenging and stressful conditions. In what ways do you make a good team? How do you support each other?

headlessYes, life on a boat, it’s definitely not without challenges. It’s been quite a process and we have both learned a lot from each other. I think we have especially put in practice the saying, “Don’t take anything personally.” In stressful situations, where we are both tired and scared, we can easily lose our tempers, so the most important thing is to understand this, know it’s not personal and move on. We have definitely learned how to work as a team; we have come to understand our strengths and weaknesses. Mick can sometimes lose his patience so I think I calm him down and I can be a bit too relaxed at times so he gives me courage and motivation. We know when to give each other space, and when to lend each other a hand. I think it’s always important to communicate with each other and to be honest and also to always put yourself in the other person’s shoes, to try and understand why they’re acting in a certain way. We are good friends and that’s why we are a good team.

Tell us about the kind of healthy dishes you enjoy while sailing.

Our diets haven’t changed that much from when we lived back in Burleigh, although I’ve had to learn to adapt and accept what is on offer wherever we go. We grow our own alfalfa and bean sprouts on the boat so we always have fresh salads onboard. We have mainly a vegetarian diet so some of our specialties are curried vegetables, soups with lots of veggies and we love anything with lentils in it. We make sure to eat lots of fruits and seeds like chia; we also try to include quinoa in a lot of our dishes. We bake our own cakes and cookies on board and try to stay away from processed food. We have a pressure cooker on board so it’s really easy to cook grains. We do eat fish, whenever we are lucky to catch it.

Yoga has been an important part of your life for many years. What does your practice look like while travelling?

yogaAgain, it has been all about adaptability and making the most of what I have. It’s definitely more difficult to find the right place or conditions to practice. Sometimes I practice a bit of asanas on board, although it can be quite tricky, because our boat isn’t that big, and it can move a bit. My favourite place to practice is on deserted beaches with hard sand. We don’t find them that often, unfortunately.

I remember there was one week where every time I went to the beach to practice, something happened to prevent me from practicing or make the conditions harder. One morning it poured down rain, the next morning it was so windy that I was getting sand all over my face and then finally I found a beautiful deserted beach with the right conditions to practice and all of a sudden there was a kayaking tour arriving and parking their kayaks right next to me, so I had to practice with a crowd.

I have learned to adapt and do what I can every day. Some days, I just sit for a few minutes in my cabin and meditate, or do some pranayamas. Other times when we are sailing and I’m completely alone, I start chanting or repeating mantras. I don’t get to join yoga classes that often, so when I do, I really enjoy them and appreciate being guided by a teacher. I see an opportunity to practice yoga as an everyday thing: Yoga for me, it’s how we approach life, how we react in every situation, how we treat each other. That way, I’m practicing 24 hours a day, 7 days of the week.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow their passion and make their dreams come true?

Just do it. Follow your heart, trust in what makes you feel happy and do it. Life is too short to waste it on things that aren’t important. I truly believe that if you can imagine it, you can make it happen. We create the world we live in, so start thinking positive thoughts, create a wish board, give it your 100%, work hard and you’ll make it happen.

Quote to live by:

“Be the change you want to see in the world”. Gandhi

I read this quote many years ago and I try to live my life following it. I think it’s always easier to judge a situation outside of us than to look into ourselves and see what is really happening. This quote reminds me that everything starts with me. If I’m not happy, if I’m feeling unfulfilled I know that I’m the only person that can change that situation. My happiness doesn’t depend on anyone or anything. I decide to be happy and I work on anything I need to change in my life to make it happen. I’ve always felt this strong need of doing things to help others. Sometimes this can be overwhelming and disheartening when you see the big picture so I remember this quote and I focus on myself. I can be the best version of myself. It would be really hard to stop the war in the world but at least I can be peaceful with everyone that I come into contact with and that’s my way of creating change. I may not be able to pick up all the rubbish that is in the ocean but I can look at how much rubbish I’m producing and pick up what I can, that way I know I’m making a small difference with what I can do.

You certainly are making a difference Isabel! Thank you.xx

ondular

My wish is for you, the reader, to take these wise words, lessons, the positive outlook on life and overcoming challenges with you. What have you learned from Isabel’s journey that you can relate to your own life? How can you make a difference in your world? Please leave a comment below.

Make sure you head on over to freeinthesea2014 now to read up on their latest travels and support their meaningful cause.

*All images freeinthesea2014