Spontaneity

In this over scheduled modern world, the whole concept of spontaneity feels almost an untouchable dream. Imagine being able to suddenly and somewhat randomly just change plans.

It often feels like every day, every hour, every minute is accounted for, or so I thought……

I am a planner. I like to feel organised and prepared because that way I can be my most efficient self. I can use my time wisely and get all the jobs done because there is so much to do as a Mum, employee, coach, wife blah blah blah.

But I forget…….. life is not just about getting the ‘job done’. It is about living, having fun, building relationships and being the best person we can be.

Random and spontaneous events that are entertaining and relaxed are one of the best ways to spend our time. These are the times we find ourselves living in the moment, not thinking about how long it took to organise or what we are missing or what we need to do next. We are simply being.

And so….. my new little mission is to be a little more spontaneous.

Today, with half an hours notice we had friends and family gathered to celebrate the renaming of our boat. For some, it was a welcome interlude from a tough week. For others it was part of our weekly ritual Sunday dinner. For all, it was a unique slice of time, doing something different, a little quirky and fun. It wasn’t quite as Neptune would have liked it but it was our version of paying respect to the gods.

This week I also did something very spontaneous for me. I spur of the moment booked a trip. It is something I have been thinking about doing for a little while and on Tuesday I realised next weekend would be a good opportunity. So, with 9 days notice and a very loose plan, my daughter, exchange daughter and I are off on a girls weekend to Melbourne in 5 days time!

Of course there are the odd draw backs to being spontaneous, like paying the credit card off and cleaning up the champagne off the boat and garage floor. However, these are all minor compared to the benefits of enjoying life and just for a little while, putting aside that job list.

There will always be jobs to do but there won’t always be opportunities to spend spontaneous quality time with friends and loved ones.

LLS

Adult time

Last night my husband I went out!!! That’s right, we left the house in the evening on a week night. Not only that, we met other adults who were equally excited at the prospect of being out, enjoyed intelligent conversation (well most of it anyway!) and ate great food.

It was a friend’s birthday and I am so grateful for him having a big 0 birthday. The chances are, if it was any other number we would have all been at home in our PJs like any other ‘normal’ Wednesday night.

It was so nice for us all to have the opportunity to be ourselves not little Johnny’s parent or the homework Nazi or harassed working Mum. We got to talk about things we enjoy doing, aspirations, camping adventures (that part was highly amusing) and other holiday stories. Many of us didn’t know each other but that made it even better. A mutual friend was enough.

It got me thinking today, why on earth are we not doing it more often?! Having the chance to chat to other people in the same phase of life, under similar stresses and pressures makes you realise you are not alone in the challenges we face.

I think this should be a new part of my stress relief regime. My girlfriends and I used to do it regularly under the guise of ‘book club’ but fell out of the routine as it became too hard to find a night that suited everyone. But we all miss it and probably don’t realise how important it actually was.

So how do we find time in an already over scheduled life?!! Well for this particular event it was literally a case of planning two months in advance (Well done wife you did a good job).

So, I better get cracking on some planning. It feels wrong not having an actual reason like a birthday, but perhaps Mum and Dad’s sanity is reason enough.

LLS

Backing yourself

I just realised it has been 10 days since I last posted! That is possibly the longest hiatus since I started this blog. I even missed my blog’s birthday!! (which was the 3rd of May for anyone who is interested!). Happy birthday Stressaholics!!

So, why? What have I been doing to miss writing for so long….

Well, I have been very busy actually being content. Content with me and content with my life.

Yes, I have been enduring the usual onslaught of work, school projects, soccer, swimming, cooking and washing etc. But for some reason I have been going about it in a more relaxed fashion. Honestly, I can’t really tell you why but I think perhaps it is to do with my last post.

I actually admitted to myself last week that coaching is important, for me. Not just for the kids that I coach or because the club needs me to do it or because I feel obliged. I admitted that I love doing it. This changes things. For a long time I have felt that many of the things I do (swimming included) take too much time out of our precious family time or from ‘me’ time. I can now look at coaching as ‘me’ time. It is actually time out (verses just another thing on the list).

This realisation has coincided (not surprisingly) with a change in my coaching hours. I now do all my coaching early morning when I am fresh and when it has the least impact on the family. All because I told someone that is what I wanted!

Imagine…….. taking charge of what you want can be so beneficial!!

The other most interesting thing is…….. when people question why you do things and you are able to say; because I love it, I enjoy it and I am good at it, you have truly found a passion. If you can answer like that, the people who question you have no comeback other than ‘Good on you’ (this exact scenario cropped up for me this week). And all of that, is called ‘backing yourself’. It doesn’t matter that whatever it is, is weird to them if it isn’t to you.

There have been a few other examples this week.

My son changed his pathway a year or so ago with his sport. He gave up the stuff he wasn’t loving and he took up something he thought he would be good at. I questioned him!! (what an awful mother, it wasn’t that I doubted him, I just thought he should think it through properly so that he had no regrets). But, as it turns out, he had.

For the first time I have seen him really ‘back’ himself. He didn’t doubt his ability, he just went forward and gave it all he had. He knew the support network was there, but he also knew he could do it on his own. He is already reaping the rewards and I couldn’t be prouder. Not only is he getting amazing results, he is teaching me in the process not to listen to the doubters and about being comfortable in your own skin.

Another friend of mine posted on Facebook today that her and her husband hadn’t had a ‘date’ for a while. Today, they had some free time, so they went for a long run together along the coast. Now, for many (me included), the thought of a date involving running would sound like insanity and very unenjoyable, why would you do that? Wouldn’t you just go for lunch?

Well, if you knew this couple you would know it is because they love it. It is a joint passion, they love running, they love the coast and they love each other, why not do it together? So I say……  good on them. They were ‘backing’ themselves, enjoying each others company and content enough to tell all their friends. As it turns out, they did get coffee and cake afterwards which makes me feel slightly better about mine and my husband’s date choices!!

LLS

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m on the right track

As you all know, I have been spending a great deal of time over the last year trying to reduce my stress levels. It has made me question just about everything I do. I have analysed (perhaps over analysed) it all; from the time I spend cooking to work, hobbies and exercise.

Along the way I have been really conscious that I have to learn; it is ok to give things up. I don’t have to continue doing all that I do, just because I feel obliged. I have also noticed some things would definitely be easier to give up than others, simply because they are a smaller part of my life or don’t have such an impact on big things like finances.

Several times over I had considered giving up my coaching, just because it would be something ‘easy’ to get rid of. Something kept telling me not to.

Two days ago, I had an epiphany………….. it occurred at 5:50am as I walked to the pool ready to coach. It was a true winters morning, dark and cold with the stars twinkling in the sky. As I rounded the corner with my breath visible in the air, I caught sight of the pool.

I wish I had a photo to share but I don’t, so I will just have to describe it. It was this beautiful deep, clear blue colour. Above it, hovered a massive cloud of steam so thick you could barely see the flags marking the ends. From somewhere in amongst it, I could hear the rhythmic sound of the earliest swimming regulars making their way down the pool.

I am pretty sure at this point most people, especially at this time of the morning (when they could be tucked up in a warm cosy bed) would have either let out a groan or let their shoulders slump at the sight. I only felt one thing…….. excitement!

If after almost 35 years of involvement in swimming, 3 years of coaching on top of work, family and everything else I do, can still make me feel like that……………………… I am pretty sure I should not be quitting this one particular thing that I do.

It is like swimming is part of me, one of the few things that makes me feel excited, happy and ME. Every time I step out on pool deck, it makes me feel alive……. especially at 6am in the freezing cold! The pool is one place that I frequently lose track of time.

It is strange because I almost get the same level of enjoyment out of doing it myself, coaching others to do it or just watching and listening to someone swimming. I guess this is what you would call a passion!

As a coach, one of my biggest aspirations is to help guide kids to find their own passion. In the end, it doesn’t matter what exactly it is, but having a ‘thing’ that you do, that brings you back ‘home’, is so important. It could be playing the piano, swimming, running, gym, reading, writing or gardening.

It is easy to be put off by politics or time constraints, but before giving anything up, I do encourage you to really explore how it actually makes you feel. If it is a negative feeling, sure get rid of it, but if you think you might miss it……. think twice.

18 months ago my son told me (when he gave up swimming to pursue his passion) ‘You should keep coaching Mum, even if I am not there because you love it and you are good at it’

Seems like I have wasted a lot of time and anxiety questioning this one when he told the answer months ago. Sound advice from a child. Their simplified view is often exactly the right way of looking at things!

LLS

 

 

Aspiring to be my cat

Yesterday I was talking about how I set super human targets for myself. Expecting all sorts of crazy things that most would not or could not achieve. The solution to my problems has been right in front of me all along………….. Instead of trying to be super woman, I should have been aspiring to be my cat!

I have just finished reading ‘How to live like your cat’ by Stephane Garner and it makes total sense!

There are a few things we all know to be true about cats. They do not care what anyone else thinks of them. They do not do anything unless they want to. They do not try to be a lion just because they are related to them.

What they do know is how to have fun, how to relax, how to sit and listen, how to comfort those in distress, how to show empathy, how to sleep soundly, how to be themselves ALWAYS. Never, ever pretending to be something they aren’t.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to live like that?!!

The best mentor has been right there in my house for the last 4 years! And prior to that I grew up with one.

Sometimes they are crazy and weird and funny but that just makes them more interesting!

I have recently been obsessed with watching videos of the weird things cats get up to. They make me laugh so much (even when I am feeling stressed and too serious). The best part is, they really don’t care what we think of them, they just do their thing and live life the way they want to.

Something else I read in this book, that I thought was really interesting, was how cats show little outward signs of ageing. They don’t get wrinkly or grey and mostly keep their lush fur. This must be a sign of little stress and a life of contentment.

In contrast I spent some extortionate amount of money today trying to hide the effects years of stress are having on my hair and body! I should have just been chilling…..

Not a grey hair in sight.

LLS

Only human

Sometimes I treat myself as if I am super woman. I lay down these expectations that are unrealistic and often unattainable. It is not until someone points this out, that I realise I am killing myself trying to be super human.

The interesting thing is the way in which I do this to myself. I am completely convinced that anyone else would be able to do what I am expecting of myself. I convince myself that if I can’t manage it, I must be in some way defective or a failure.

But guess what………………….. I am only human! I will get things wrong and I won’t always do things perfectly, but neither will any of us (although there are of course those that will try and tell us they are perfect!!).

I know I have written about this kind of stuff before and it might seem like I am not learning! Well, perhaps I am a slow learner, but I do think I am slowly but surely improving and that is the best I can hope for. It would be wrong for me to expect to change overnight. Nor can I say that I want my expectations to be lowered too much. I know that having high expectations of myself is what makes me good at what I do.

What I do hope, is that I can just get them to a more realistic level and not be so hard on myself when I don’t meet them. Importantly, I really need to realise that making mistakes is how you learn. It is not something to be scared or ashamed of. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone learns by them.

You will be pleased to know I let my hair down over the weekend, went out and had some good old fashioned fun. It involved fresh air, friends, family, dolphins, just a touch of alcohol and this amazing sky!

LLS

Why so serious?

Something that got stuck in my head today was the question; why am I always so dam serious? I feel like I have almost forgotten how to have fun. Trapped in this endless cycle of over scheduled life, I barely have time to get all the jobs and chores done much less have fun. How indulgent that would be…….

It is like I have forgotten (and need reminding), that fun doesn’t need to be time consuming. It can be and should be slotted into life every day. It doesn’t need to be a big event.

One of my favourite artists Pink askes the very same question in the song ‘Raise your glass’.

‘Why so serious?’

‘So raise your glass if you are wrong,
In all the right ways,
All my underdogs,
We will never be never be, anything but loud
And nitty gritty, dirty little freaks
Won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass,
Just come on and come on and raise your glass’

This song makes me think. We are all wrong, all the time. We make mistakes but mostly do it with the right intentions. Instead of beating ourselves up about mistakes and being overly serious, we should celebrate the fact we tried.

Another thing…. I always consider myself the underdog. I expect myself to get it wrong or to lose. When am I going to learn to back myself and stop expecting so much? I am no less worthy than anyone else.

Tonight, I am raising a glass. Not just because Pink said to, but because it is Friday after a rather stressful week in which not only did commitments drive me nuts but my family lost a matriarch. I feel sure she would have wanted me to lighten up and enjoy things, because life is just too dam short for such seriousness.

The glass is full and the music is cranking.

‘Don’t be fancy, just get dancey’ Pink

LLS

I thought my week was bad……

My week was nothing. Just a series of minor events and happenings that I place too much importance on.

I did not bear witness to 49 people being murdered in their place of worship. I did not lose family members to such an abominable act. I did not stay awake through the night trying to save the lives of those that got out.

These are the people that really had a bad week. A week that will be forever scarred in their memories.

When will this bigotry and hatred end?

LLS

Happenstance

I have been researching words. I want to find a word that describes that thing that sometimes occurs……….. where everything happens at once. Good and bad all jumbled on top of one another, some mere coincidences, some knocks-ons and some just completely unrelated happenings.

I came up with a few; happenstance, synchronicity, perpendicularly, conversion. Then there was this one word, that to my mind describes this week perfectly. I am trying not to be a pessimist but it just hits the nail on the head. Yes…….. it is negative, and yes I am supposed to think positive……. but there is no getting away from it……

CHAOS

Absolute chaos and it is so overwhelming.

How to deal with it?

My sensible brain is telling me….. you need to go to the gym or for a swim. Exercise has always been my best medicine. Yet, that other voice (the one I talked about the other day) is saying: but you can’t, you don’t have time. You have cupcakes to bake, presents to wrap, washing to do, dinner to cook. Then, ashamedly there is a third part of my brain still lagging behind at work, stuck thinking about how to resolve the issues that occurred today.

Wow, that is three separate things my brain is trying to deal with…… fix today, get everything done, go to gym. No wonder I am overwhelmed. That is a lot of pressure. Sounds like internal chaos to me!

So, this is what I am going to do…. and I will do it while I am writing (it’s 6.15pm)…. I am going to take a few deep breathes. Then,  I am going to allow myself a final two minutes to think about work, before shutting that part down.

Ok gone.

Next, I am heading out the door to say hello to our possum friend you might remember we discovered last week. He has now been nicknamed Pom Pom. My daughter and I have tracked his daily routine; at around 5pm he climbs down a tree in our front yard, then walks down the driveway (in that awkward kind of way a tree dwelling creature does) through the carport and out the back to the hibiscus tree. Here, he proceeds to eat one if not two flowers (this process can take up to an hour) before climbing the tree and leapfrogging across to the peppermint tree behind it. From here we assume he is off for his nightly adventures (whatever they are) before sometime in the early hours heading back to his tree out the front, to sleep away most of the day.

As usual this evening he wasn’t bothered by me and eyed me up as I said hello. He doesn’t realise at this point how helpful he is. Already I am feeling better, as my mind wanders and starts to ponder the simplicity of Pom Pom’s life. It starts me thinking about how complex ours is, but mostly by our own doing.

Why do we make things hard for ourselves, taking on too much with too little time? That’s when I decide (6.30pm); tonight’s dinner is simple all the way. I need to make things easier for myself, there is just too much going on for culinary mastery. I fire something from the freezer into the oven that is probably got not much nutritional value at all (ok I admit it, it was pies). There are zero complaints from the kids (for once!).

I complete a couple of sets of my physio exercises on my fit ball (6.50pm) which improves my mood. Then I get onto the cupcakes and wrapping presents (7.20-8.20pm). Then kids to bed.

All done. I survived. It is 9.30pm and I am now going to sit down for the first time since 5.30am. Dam I need a cup of tea and I need my head read, why do I do it all??!!!

LLS (not! ………. should go back to SAA).