Investing in YOU

“The most important project you’ll ever work on is YOU”.

So, what are you doing to invest in your own personal success? To treat yourself? Yes, life is busy and it can be hard to make time for yourself, let alone to prioritise it, but if you’re not looking after yourself then who is? You may have a wonderful spouse/partner/family member/friend who cares for you and keeps you going, especially through tough times, but what are YOU doing for YOU? Self-care is something I am trying to focus on at the moment, and I have to admit it’s a bit odd. The idea of taking time out to do something just for me is a little against the grain, to say the least. Especially in the society we live where as Brooks would say “the world went and got itself in a big damn hurry” [Shawshank Redemption]. Add social media to that, often highlighting all the great and exciting things we ‘should’ be doing for our kids, for work, to keep up with current trends etc and the world is in overdrive! So, am I clutching at this notion of ‘self-care’ as an excuse to get off the rat race? Or as an excuse just to be lazy for a bit? “Sorry Morgan I can’t help you fold that massive pile of washing, I am investing in my personal self care”… as I sit in the sun, feet up, reading a book. Maybe. (Haha let’s see if Morgan reads this!)

Or maybe self-care really is important, now more than ever. We all know the prevalence of mental health issues in NZ is growing at an alarming rate, particularly in our children. Where those issues stem from is a question I am completely unqualified to answer, and I don’t begin to suggest self-care is the answer to combatting that, but maybe there is something in it. What if taking some time out of the daily rush and really reconnecting with your authentic self is more than an excuse to do whatever you like for a while, and it is actually quite empowering? Powerful even. I am starting to genuinely believe it is. Self-care is too easily laughed off as too ‘fluffy or ‘soft’ or shoved aside in favour of that ever-growing to-do list. I know this, because I have laughed it off and tucked it away in the ‘I don’t need that stuff’ drawer many times. But, I am now coming to realise it has a real and important place in the modern world. On that basis I am choosing to make time for me, to spend a little time stripping back the noise, identifying and doing the things I enjoy, being present and being grateful. I am choosing to continue to challenge myself, to set some goals, focus my enery on what makes me happy, and hopefully be a better Mum/Wife/Business Owner as a result.

And if I can teach my children that as much as we as parents try to pave the way for them, they are in control of their journey, and that stopping off at a few rest areas along the way to check their map, recharge their batteries and change their end destination if they wish, is a great way of ensuring they get to where they want to be in life, safely and happily, then I’ll take it as an additional bonus.

So what is on my just for me list? I jotted down some of the things I enjoy and was surprised to see how simple these things were, and how few of the things I love to do cost any money (aside from my all-time favouriate online shopping) e.g. take a walk, soak in the bath, burn a scented candle, crank up the music and have a ‘dance party’ with the kids, get outside in the sun, read a book…

This week I have ticked off my weekly run with Morgan (OK, I missed it the first two weeks as I prioritised work meetings, but I made it today, third time lucky!), I’ve booked a massage, and hope to make that a 6-weekly thing, I’ve found a great new TV series ‘The Split’ and snuggle up in front of the fire to watch that at night, and I have booked myself on a Workshop this week to continue my own professional development… good to keep the brain learning! Is there an element of guilt creeping in at all of this? Yes, but I am working hard to shut that down :)

So, what are you doing today, or this week, JUST FOR YOU? its not selfish

“Just Write”

Jack ECG

So here it is. My ‘when’ moment. Standing in a doctors’ surgery watching my 4-year old son Jack get hooked up to an ECG machine to assess his irregular heartbeat. It may not seem like much, but in that moment of vulnerability and fear I got the kick I needed to get on with things. Let me explain.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Chamber Women’s Conference in Queenstown recently. Along with 230 other woman I spent the day in fits of laughter, and floods of tears listening to 8 incredible women share their story. I came away in awe of each of their strength, courage, humility and determination. Since then, I have been wondering how to convert the ‘lightbulb moments’ I’d had that day into actions to brighten my life, and ensure they’re not lost amongst the daily routine and madness back home. What was I going to do differently tomorrow?

Leaving the Conference with 5 pages of key messages, notes and ideas, you’ll understand why I struggled to relax and enjoy the 1-hour massage I had booked immediately after the Conference. Where the hell did I start? My mind was buzzing. I am a big believer that we can do anything, but not everything. So, in an effort to make sense of it all and identify what was really relevant and important to me I started making a list. There were some quick wins in self-care like eating well and scheduling time for me (monthly massage here I come!), and some bigger more challenging questions and issues to tackle. I knew I had to keep myself accountable, so I popped a quick post on my business FB page saying I would be sharing some snippets of what I had heard and what I would be doing as a result. Whether or not anyone actually read the post, or cared, in my mind I now had to stay true to my word.

As my list grew so did my frustration. I’m a perfectionist, so not being able to come up with the perfectly formed plan of what to do and how to do it was doing me in. I stopped and reached for the goodie bag we had been given at the Conference. A fabulous mix of treats – hand lotions, pens, discount vouchers, stress balls, and then a bright yellow envelope. I opened and started reading – a letter from one of the speakers, Di Foster. [Cue lump in throat]. I made it to the bottom of the letter and sat her very symbolic and meaningful little gift on the table in front of me. Then I saw something else from Di – a postcard, which I turned over to see a handwritten message: “You are enough”. Well that was it – the tears were flowing again.

Having been completely lost as to where to start with everything I had heard that day, suddenly it was abundantly clear that those 3 simple words, and truly believing them, is my absolute starting point. If I don’t believe that I am enough, and invest I’m myself then how can I possibly be the wife, mother and business owner that I want to be? And I know this will ring true for lots of people. So many of us are living in a state of self-doubt and self-criticism. In fear of what other people think or of stuffing things up. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others and dwelling on our failures rather than focusing on the positives and what we bring to the world. Well, I am over it. It’s time to focus on what we can control – our own minds and our own actions. Do I truly believe I am enough? Hell no. But I am working on it, and for now, that is enough.

Still sitting in my hotel room, there was one other thing that kept sticking out in my mind, above everything else. It came when Barbara Kendall, Olympic Champion and one of the most humble people I have ever met, took us through her journey into windsurfing and challenged us to let go and laugh, to keep it real, to believe there are no limits, to follow your dreams, and to keep it simple. To find that one thing you love to do and that you’re good at, and go for it. I was listening to her speaking, nodding my head, but simultaneously wondering what is MY one thing? What is my passion? What am I good at? What’s on my ‘one day’ list or my ‘if I could do anything in the world I would…’ list? And as if she had read my mind, Barbara finished with a poem about seizing the day. The exact contents of the poem escape me now, but it went something along the lines of back yourself, don’t wait for tomorrow…

“That job, go for it.
That Song, sing it.
That Book, Write it

Ummm [CLICK] – the light flickered on. I quite like writing… I do a lot of it for work (CV’s, Business Plans, Board Reports etc) but for whatever reason I’ve never actually stopped to consider that maybe I’m OK at it. Maybe this is what I do well? Hold on a minute, was I actually starting to join the dots here between something I love to do and something I might be good at? Is writing my true passion? I have always joked that I will write a book one day. One Day. (Maybe when the children have left home as last time I checked there are still only 24 hours in the day) ?. Jokes aside, I saw my pen head for the top of my list and scribble the words: “Just Write”.

The next morning, I woke to the most gorgeous sunrise over Lake Wakatipu. Ok that’s a lie, I slept in until 8.45am – yay for being away for the kids for a night! But, pulling the curtains back and looking out at the sun sparkling on the water, knowing I only had a few hours of quiet reflection time left, I thought about Di Foster and something else she had said. This time it was a question: If not now, when? If I’m not living my best life now, when will I? What is it going to take? When am I going to start following my dreams?

Now, I do need to add a big fat disclaimer at this point. I am not complaining. I have a fantastic life, I am extremely lucky and exponentially grateful for what I have – my health, an incredibly supportive husband, 3 gorgeous children, the opportunity to run my own business, I could go on all day. But, is this my BEST life? Am I living it to MY fullest potential? Am I really following my DREAMS?

Dance back around to what Barbara Kendall said, follow your heart. To those two wee words “Just Write” that had wriggled their way to the top of my list. Add a flight back home to Christchurch and my excitment at seeing all of my boys again. Routine struck, things got busy but still I held onto those ideas and dreams, determined not to let them fade into glimmers in the distance.

Fast forward to Friday morning, exactly one week after the Conference and BOOM, there I was, shaking like a leaf, waiting for the Doctor to read the ECG report and tell me everything was going to be OK, that Jack will be OK. That small moment brought so much clarity and perspective – life is a precious gift, not to be taken for granted. Quite ironically, listening to Jack’s heartbeat had made me tune back in to my own. And Di’s question hit me again – If not now, when? What is it going to take?

So, that was it. My ‘when’ moment. And here I am now, in front of my laptop, having set aside some regular time to work on that belief that I am enough and, not yet writing a book, but giving my best me a go – following that wee inner voice that has been chasing me around all week telling me to “Just Write”.

To Di Foster and Barbara Kendall – a heartfelt thank you.

If you’d like to know more about Di Foster and her incredible story, check out this video she kindly shared with me and follow her on Facebook –

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate”