A journey of a thousand miles..

I’m feeling good. Pre-baby good actually! Since Louis-James was born I have felt a multitude of emotions but honestly, I have struggled alot. I have experienced periods of depression, anxiety, stress and of course, sleep deprivation (or maybe all of it has been sleep deprivation).

The truth is, I had a very different idea in my mind of what being a mother would mean. And the contrast of reality with that idea floored me. I recently read in Phosphoresence by Julia Baird that the happiest people are those who have low expectations. I read this and instantly understood why I have struggled so much. It was revelatory and actually made a lot of sense. Like most tasks I embark on, I had very high expectations of what having a baby would be like.

Of course I expected no sleep, but I didn’t actually know what that would feel like. You just can’t, until you experience it. And let me tell you, for anyone who hasn’t experienced it, it is brutal. Worse than brutal. I can see why sleep deprivation is a torture technique. Because it’s torturous. Horrendous. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. For me, gathering any semblance of positive mood on the days when I had barely any sleep was impossible. And low mood just tends to beget low mood doesn’t it? You see the world through a negative filter and it becomes very hard to see the positive.

Of course I expected it to change my relationship somewhat, but I didn’t really know what that would look like. I didn’t expect a pandemic 5 weeks into motherhood, and so being locked at home by myself all day meant I was incredibly jealous and resentful of my husband who “got to” work. And there was alot more resentment towards him for the unfairness of our roles – I breastfed and co-sleeped in a separate room to James because he had to go to work at 3am, and so I felt like I was with the baby 24/7 and doing everything. It wasn’t a feeling, I was doing everything, and I’m sure he also had resentment about the fact he was working and I wasn’t and his life changed in many ways too. But the point is, it really shone a light on the gender inequality in our home and I found that very difficult. Luckily for me, I had a very loving and caring husband who adores his family and we worked together to balance things out. But it was a tough 6 months initially.

I didn’t expect to feel so purposeless. I was doing the most important thing in the world, raising my son and a future citizen of the planet, but I had been so driven to finish my psychology degree before he was born and I’d been working in an incredibly rewarding but intense role as a support worker helping people with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues who had contact with the justice system. Now I found myself at home (stuck at home thanks to covid-19), feeding, changing and getting a baby to sleep and perhaps doing a splattering of house work in between and it felt so mundane. I couldn’t find myself. I didn’t know who I was. Where did I go? I mourned the old me, my old life. I felt guilty for feeling this way when I had a beautiful, healthy baby and I compared myself to other mums who seemed to just love motherhood and all it entailed and were perfectly happy being at home with their baby all the time.

At five months I decided to start a course to become a Meditation Teacher and honestly that probably saved me, it definitely saved my marriage. A commitment to meditating daily and practice all that I was learning meant my struggles and challenges became incredible lessons I could learn from. No mud, no lotus as teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says. Instead of resisting them I began to use my difficulties as lessons – to see my triggers, and avoid ‘biting the hook’ as my favourite Buddhist nun Pema Chodron says. I’m slowly learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. It’s really hard, that’s for sure, but the discomfort is there anyway- no amount of resistance or wishing it away, no amount of crying or throwing essential oil diffusers across the kitchen will help, and certainly I can eat my bodyweight in icecream but that also doesn’t make it any easier, I just feel physically uncomfortable while dealing with the emotional discomfort that just doesn’t go anywhere. Trust me, I know.

But that’s the funny thing. Once I started accepting the discomfort – the sometimes hourly wakes at night, the sometimes hour long rocking to sleep sessions, the teething and tantrums and having no time to shower and cooking with one hand and missing sleeping next to my husband and all the frustration and sadness and loneliness – once I accepted all of it, well, it got alot easier. As Pema Chodron tells us, when you spend enough time outside of your comfort zone it slowly becomes a new comfort zone.

I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t have bad days. I told my dog he was a f’ing C the other day. It was a low point, but I was glad it was my dog and not my son. Meditating and doing all this work hasn’t suddenly made the problems of motherhood and parenting in a very lonesome, individualistic society go away but it has helped me to understand that life is always going to be hard, but there’s only so many things in the external realm I can change so acceptance just makes life so much easier. Most of all I just have to change my reaction to all of it, and really, how good is that – it’s totally within my control!

But it has created space to see things as they really are, and not through the filters of stress and frustration I was looking through before. It has created space to pause before I respond, so I don’t react, and just throughout the day spontaneously to notice the most incredible things – like the colour of the sky or patterns on a leaf or the way my son rests his hand. These moments get me through in a big way. And by creating a pause I’m able to also take time to think of all the other mums and parents going through the exact same thing and feel some unity and connection. Here we are doing the boldest and most daring thing you could possibly do – raise a human being – and although we stumble we get up and we stand and we just keep going.

And so I see that’s all parenting is – stumbling, falling and having the courage to stand back up and keep going. All with moments of pure bliss in between.

Making friends with anxiety

When I think of anxiety, I think of cold, icy veins. That’s when I’m really anxious – it’s immobilising, paralysing, petrifying. I also think of the symptoms on the questionnaires you do for the doctor – dry mouth, racing heart, breathlessness. Unlike the icy veins, I experience none of those. And because the icy veins tended to only happen when I was very very hung over, and thus I’ve been able to avoid them by avoiding hangovers I’ve always thought, oh I’m not a particularly anxious person. But I’m getting to know my emotions more, which is hard, and I guess the reason why I’ve kept them buried for so long. I am learning that actually, I am quite anxious indeed.

A peaceful morning in the Hunter Valley

However, anxiety, for me, shows up in other ways: down google rabbit-holes when Louis-James has the slightest thing wrong or frantically throwing things out due to feeling like there is just too much stuff everywhere. I think of my pregnancy, and see so clearly now that the 4 trips to the hospital for reduced movements had nothing to do with reduced movements and everything to do with a high level of anxiety. Of course, no one asked me about my mental health state (which should be a mandatory part of prenatal care) or if they did, they probably asked me about those things above – the dry mouth, changed heart rate and breathlessness (which, come to think of it, are pretty standard pregnancy symptoms anyway). No one asked me – do you worry there is something wrong with your baby? No one asked me when I went to the dermatologist for a full skin cancer check at 28 weeks if my moles had really changed or if I was completely freaking out about having melanoma because I was anxious. Sometimes I think these generic questions have a lot to answer for – when you put them in real life context it’s much easier to realise that, actually, yes I am feeling very anxious.

When I’m feeling anxious, like I am this morning, I feel out of control. I feel disorganised. I feel like there is so much to do and I have no idea where to start. I feel disconnected from my body – I’m not able to tell as easily when I’m hungry or full, what I really want to eat. I don’t drink any water for hours and then suddenly I need to skull a litre. When I sit down to meditate and connect to each body part, I can’t really feel them. It’s like I have no legs or arms or belly or head. It’s very strange and usually, inspires yet even more anxiety. My mind jumps all over the place with plans and ideas – I get an idea of something I want to do, or study, or a project I want to start. Then suddenly an other idea jumps in and bumps it out of the way. Then I get confused and caught up in trying to figure out what it is I want to do and I feel very lost. I find it hard to concentrate. I find it hard to focus. I tell myself ‘I just need to meditate’. Then in meditation I say, ‘actually I need to go for a run…No, I need a vigorous bush walk, or maybe I need to be by the beach’.

Today I meditated and I just sat with it. I sat with not being able to feel my body very well. I sat with the racing thoughts. I sat with the urge to plan my life away. I listened to a sound healing and I sat there through it all. It wasn’t pleasant. But I did it. I wish I could tell you I feel calmer, that the meditation got rid of the anxiety. It didn’t. It never really does. But it does show me that I can sit with it, get to know it, lean in. I don’t have to do anything to get rid of it. I can just let it be and continue on.

And I think maybe that’s the key to it all. Anxiety is so uncomfortable, it’s unbearable at times. And its key message is this: there is something really wrong. When there’s something wrong we feel like we need to run, fight it or we become paralysed – we freeze. And these are pretty difficult actions to have to constantly deal with and can get in the way of life very easily. I wouldn’t have been induced if I realised I was anxious and there was nothing wrong with my baby. And that would have changed a lot, I believe, but that’s a story for another day. After he was born the community health nurse came and did a questionnaire. I actually rated high on anxiety at that point. I knew I was anxious. I worried about him constantly. But I think that’s pretty normal. I think it’s probably biological too – they’re so fragile and small they need someone who is obsessive about their life, because without it they’d die.

A quick search of the most googled terms to do with ‘anxiety’ shows that most people are looking for a cure, for a way to deal with it, to get rid of it. I don’t blame them – anxiety is so uncomfortable, perhaps the most uncomfortable emotion of them all. For years I did things to get rid of it too – drank too much, smoked, took drugs, took pharmaceuticals, exercised, dieted, scrolled on social media, watched TV.. basically I tried everything and anything and truthfully, a lot of it worked. Well, it allowed me to avoid the intense emotions anyway. In fact, avoidance was one of my key coping mechanisms – I’d avoid new things, I’d avoid doing things that I knew would make me anxious, I avoided social things with lots of people or those that were too far from home. I think I was so good at avoiding and tapping out, that I was able to pretend I wasn’t anxious at all. But now that I look back I see that avoiding life is no way to live. I felt like shit from all the things I did to run away from feeling anxious. I lived in a very small bubble. And the more I think about it, the more I see that for me, finding a cure or a way to fix it is unrealistic, and actually misses the point entirely. I think I have to face it head on.

So lately I’ve been thinking what if I just let the anxiety be there but just learn not to listen to it? Rather than doing all these things to get rid of it perhaps I just need to learn to ignore it, to let its voice become a sound in the distance and stop listening to what it has to say. And not an ‘ignore it’ in the sense I have been doing all my life – pretending it’s not there. That hasn’t worked – but just acknowledge it, sit with it, and then say ‘okay anxiety, looks like you’re here for the moment, you can come with me for the day if you must, but I’m just not going to listen to what you have to say’. Might be harder than it sounds but I think I’ll give it a go.

Calm mornings in the Hunter Valley

Building the Bakery? S01 e03

I need a new title. I hate the idea of being a ‘boss’ as it’s not my style. Suggestions welcome!

Anyway, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve finally found the break in the trees. Its almost laughable how stressful and intense the past couple of months has been. From the first week the punches started coming and they didn’t stop. They still haven’t, but I’m learning to roll with them.

For instance, last night I was on with a new staff member who is picking things up super fast, but is still learning the ropes. We are under-staffed too, and it was busy. Plus, yesterday was the day we rolled out our new point of sales system.

I’m not sure if I’ve spoken about this. Back in January I decided to research point of sales systems because we just had a traditional, non-computerised electronic til. There were many advantages to the til, but many disadvantages too including incorrect prices and lots of errors. So we jumped ship and got on board with Epos Now and then I got bogged down with work and couldn’t find the time to enter all our products into the system and learn all its functions and so we just paid the fees and felt guilty. You know how it goes.

But slowly I chipped away at it, and as yesterday was March 1 we thought it would be a good time to roll it out – to make accounting easier at month end by only having 1 system rather than swapping partway through. The issue is that it wasn’t completely finished and I had missed some products and entered prices incorrectly on others and so it was a manic afternoon with me trying to update as we go. I mean, thank goodness for smartphones and technology- she was using the system and I was on my phone in back office updating it and every now and again the system would download from the cloud and update.

Anyway, we finally got to close which is hard work with lots of cleaning and mopping etc. We went to leave – i was tired and my boobs hard and full of milk screaming at me that my baby was hungry. Of course, he wasn’t- he was safe and fed at home with my mum but boobs don’t know that when you’re breastfeeding. Anyway, as we left I realised I didn’t have my keys. And I couldn’t find them anywhere! I looked everywhere for half an hour then called James, mid-panic realising I would have to wait nearly an hour for him to come. Luckiky, crisis averted yet again by his parents who live down the road and lended me their car (they did this 2 weeks ago when my engine over-heated just as I was getting to work).

When I got home I put baby to bed after getting annoyed at James for not yet ordering dinner (despite the fact baby doesn’t sleep for ages and there was plenty of time for dinner to arrive, but I was tired and grumpy) and I received a message that a staff member is leaving. We really love working with her and she’s been at the shop for 5 years so James knows her quite well. Anyway, I almost laughed at it. Staffing is a non-stop issue. But the laughing was different to my usual response of feeling like I’m about to have a nervous breakdown, so I can see that I’m turning a corner and learning to just lean in and go with the flow.

Actually, that’s definitely something I’ve noticed lately and am quite proud of – having to do things you don’t want to, and constantly hitting road blocks but not being able to give up (which is my M.O.) makes you stronger. Huh. Who would have thunk!

Tenzin Palmo, a Buddhist nun who’s teachings I have come across, says that we are like rough pieces of wood and although it might feel good, silk and velvet don’t make us smooth, instead we need sandpaper. And I’ve been remembering that as things get hard. These lessons are wonderful lessons. They don’t feel like it at the time, but I can see I am becoming less shakeable, more solid, more stable. The sandpaper is making the wood smooth!

And so the journey continues but I’m feeling fresh and anew. Everything changes, everything flows, nothing is permanent.

The art of drinking tea

One of my favourite slow down activities is drinking tea traditionally – there’s something magical about the process – smelling the florally fragrant tea as I scoop it into the pot, the shrill whistle of my stove top kettle as the water boils, that slosh as the water pours into the tea pot and staring out the window as I wait for it to brew.

When it’s ready I love seeing the deep brown liquid pour over the strainer and into my fine bone china cup (I just bought it for $20 at Vinnies and it’s a biggie so holds even more tea). I even pour my milk into a jug first, because it pours more elegantly into the cup and I can more easily control the amount that goes in. The whole process is just divine and as I take my first sip of piping hot brew time stands still for just a moment.

Whats your favourite slow activity?

Becoming the Boss S01 E02

We are tired. We’re so tired we can’t be bothered to compete over who’s more tired, and as the most competitive couple out there, that’s saying something.

However..

We have also made it through our first month in business! We are elated and proud of ourselves and something inside keeps pushing us along even though we may drag our feet a little, rubbing our weary eyes.

Although I’m feeling quite positive about things as I write this, last week was probably my lowest point: I’d had a terrible night of sleep with baby waking every hour until I got up at 4am for work, sneaking out of bed to get my mum who snuck back in, both of us very wary that if he woke we’d have trouble. I started work at 6am and worked through the morning and into the day. I came home, expressed milk for nearly an hour for the next day, and began the evening wind-down with baby. I got a total of 40 minutes to rest that day, and when its the end of the longest day, even the rest is just a hassle. Clearly, the days of relaxing after a long day of work are history (for now)!

The following morning I woke up at the same time again to do the deliveries to the shop then come back to the factory to ice 1350 cupcakes we had for an order. Icing cupcakes sounds like fun, but alas when you do so many of them the fun subsides, your fingers get sore from the fine motor skills required and your eyes get blurry. They looked beautiful though, and despite our argument (to follow), we did a good job.

I’ll tell you what though – anxiety really makes life hard doesn’t it? I felt so anxious (probably from lack of sleep) about the order, and my perfectionists tendencies had me worrying about the colour tone of the sprinkles and the size of the cupcake above the patty cake, amongst other things. It was a big order, with an appropriately large price tag, and so that left me feeling worried too – I wanted to ensure the customer felt their expectations were at the least met, but ideally surpassed. Worry and anxiety, although they are old friends, are difficult to deal with when you just have to get it done, and so my morning was quite tense.

Just before delivering I had a melt down that the crates the cupcakes were being delivered in weren’t clean enough, and in response James laughed with another baker about ‘women in the bakery’ and of course this exhausted feminist was incredibly unimpressed and we didn’t speak for a few hours. After I cleaned all 16 crates before packing the cupcakes and driving off, the anger subsided and we became excited that the long day was almost over. Rain started pouring and we had to figure out how we’d deliver without the coloured sprinkles bleeding into the icing. Catering sized Glad wrap saved the day and we completed the task (feeling elated that it was them, not us, who had to pack each individual cupcake in a box and wrap with a ribbon).

On the way home I received a few messages about staff unable to do shifts, realised that I would have to do them myself and burst into tears at the thought of being away from my baby boy even more. As an aside, my mum minds Louis-James while I’m at work, and sometimes I get home he looks at me and says “who are you?”. This is a good thing, he’s so wrapped up in loving his Grandma he doesn’t notice I’m gone, but I worry that he doesn’t get the naps he needs without me to put him down, and that he’s not getting enough milk, because I have never pumped enough in storage. Plus, it just feels strange being away from your infant child when they still rely on your body to survive. My instinct gets confused.

So I cried. I cried alot. James dropped me at my car and I put on my favourite crying music and cried the whole way home. Gosh it felt good to do that. I cried for my baby, I cried for myself, I cried because I felt like I was in a situation that I had no choice in, and because I felt like I was going against my values (my values as a mother as well as values around career – I was in the middle of my Psychology Honours year when we took over the business and it fell to the wayside, and as a yoga teacher and personal trainer who’s always had an interest in health, I never imagined myself running a bakery). But here we are! I cried because I feel torn – constantly – between ambition and motherhood, finding the place where they coexist is not particularly easy – I miss one when with the other, and never get enough time for either.

The punches keep coming but we are more able to roll with them. James started training a delivery driver but he quit as he had too much on his plate, so my poor love has woken up at 3am every night for a month to go to work and his chance at a reprieve has been snatched away. We have staff away, we’ve had one resignation (she was offered a permanent role at her Christmas casual job- it wasn’t personal I swear!), I’ve forgotten to or mistakenly rostered on too few staff many times and the other day I thought we hadn’t done a milk order so bought 40L of milk from IGA as a back up only to realise one of the staff had ordered and so we had milk coming out our ears once the 70 or so L that she ordered were delivered.

I got home and of course all was fine, I felt better after my cry.

But we have the most amazing team of staff. They are committed and supportive and hard-working and really I feel so lucky to have adopted them as our team. And we’ve had many compliments on the changes we’ve made in the shop too. The other day I served a couple out on a tea date – each having a pot of the beautiful organic teas I have recently stocked – and upon leaving they exclaimed how lovely the tea was. Tea makes me warm, and soothes my soul and sharing lovely tea is really one of life’s greatest pleasures – so I was very happy to see them drinking their pots of tea and loving it. And at 6.10pm upon closing the other night an older couple were enjoying some coffee and cakes when the woman told me she doesn’t know what they’d do without our bakery, and how much it means to them to be able to come up and share pastries over coffee, and my heart melted.

Through experiences like these and my daily meditation practice I’ve come to realise that having a purposeful career doesn’t have to be in the psychology or social support realm, our bakery contributes significantly to community welfare, and every interaction I have with a customer warms my heart and can spread feelings of joy. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference, and so although we both take large, dark eye circles with us into this second month in business, we take light, happy hearts. We’re on the right track and we know where we’re going – what else can we ask for?

Becoming the Boss Series 1 Episode 1

You may have seen on social media that my husband and I have taken over his family business. He and his dad have run the factory together for 13 years, with his Step-Mum managing the Cafe for that time. I’ve dabbled in working there casually but as his dad and wife are retiring James and I have taken over completely. Managing a team this large is new to me, working together as a work team is new to us and going back to work with a baby is a new endeavour too – so I thought a little series on the trials and tribulations we face might be interesting (or it might be boring AF in which case I’m sorry for tearing your eyes into the text world and away from The Queen’s Gambit – which I might add, was wonderful.

We spent our Christmas holidays cleaning and preparing the shop for our entry. Although we didn’t change too many things, it was much easier to make physical changes while the shop was empty, and we thought some procedural changes would be easier to implement from the beginning of the year. Well, now I’m not so sure about that decision because its been a ride already, I need a holiday and we’ve only been open 4 days (I’m trying desperately to keep this blog somewhat literary and not use emoticons to express myself but I’m really needing the awkard smile with the sweat bead on the forehead right now because that’s been me all week). Making procedural changes is very hard when you’re not there to inform all the staff yourself- text message and whatsapp and asking staff to tell each other at handover has been all I could do considering I live so far way and have a baby – but it’s not ideal.

Even in the break, many of the things we wanted to get done just took so much longer than we thought or items weren’t available to buy (or the shop closed early on new years eve and left us with 1 business day to run around and find the things we wanted). Bearing in mind we live 50 minutes from the shop, there was a lot of driving too and my godsend of a mum baby sat but then of course Louis-James became so clingy with separation anxiety that his sleep fell to shit (highly literary RN) so the nights after we’d spent the day running around like headless chickens and I desperately wanted to drink wine in front of a movie, I instead spent trapped in his room, with him sensitive to every millimeter I moved away from him and waking at the drop of a feather.

We opened on Tuesday and after a night of waking every hour (either Louis-James can pick the nights I need more sleep and chooses to hijack me or I am so anxious about not sleeping I become the lightest sleeper ever and wake to each time he breathes noisily), I drove to work after waking at 4am for a feed and not being able to get back to sleep. I listened to Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead poscast (highly recommend) and soothed myself with the idea that all leaders feel fear. I tried not to listen to the voice that told me I’m too anxious and introverted to manage anyone and that I am certainly too anxious to lead. I arrived at work, put my covid-safe face mask on and in the hustle and bustle of trying to fill the display with stock and serving the many customers who came in, felt like I’d have a panic attack from not being able to breathe due to the mask. I was worried our new timber display boards wouldn’t work in the display fridges, I was worried we’d stuff something up and customers would get pissed off, and I was worried about stepping on staff toes – they’ve all been in that shop longer than me and I value their opinions and don’t want to come rushing in with all my ideas (as I have a habit of doing in all areas of my life) and dismiss their tried and true ways of doing things.

The anxiety has abated somewhat, thank goodness, and the podcast listening really helps me to feel motivated (I’m also listening to podcast How I Built This by Guy Raz and I bought the book on Audible which James has started and I’d recommend too). But gee, it is so hard to juggle managing a shop, working and having an infant! I need to express milk daily, my boobs feel like they are going to explode by the end of shift, and then when I get home there’s no rest – it’s straight into mum life! Poor James is working every day and barely gets to see his little boy, and it also means I’m not getting as much hands on help from him either (thank goodness for my mum). I know we’ll find our groove and it’ll take time – it’s just a huge adjustment.

Plus it seems the universe has thrown us in the deep end this week – one of the bakers slept in (not hard, I imagine when your alarm is on for midnight!), something has gone wrong with the milk order every day this week, our coffee machine wouldn’t turn on this morning so we had 3.5h of lost coffee revenue (not ideal at 6am) but thank goodness the rest of the day picked up. And although its a good problem to have, it’s been so busy I’ve had to scramble to find staff to work additional shifts. We have a lot of staff away and luckily the younger ones are on holidays and keen to work – I’ve been very impressed with them actually, they really take initiative and responsibility, and I think that’s admirable for teenagers (because I know the type of worker I was and mostly I was calling in sick or having too much fun with friends to take any responsibility).

I feel so grateful on one hand that I’m coming off maternity leave as my own boss, not needing to call anyone to say I’m running late because Louis-James trapped me, and being able to choose my own shifts; but on the other hand coming from no work into being the manager knowing that mistakes literally cost your household income is really hard! Plus I am a (recovering but not yet recovered) perfectionist and extreme high achiever and place very high expectations on myself, and that makes it hard to be as flexible as being a working mum requires. I’m happy to say that so far James and I have worked very well together, with only one disagreement about raisin toast which was decided by a third party (thank you Charli). So we head into the weekend with all our available staff working (and my mum desperately needing a break from Grandma duties after seeing the little guy every day this week) – so I hope no one calls in sick!

Hopefully we can get some time to recharge and head into week 2 with a little more readiness and hopefully alot less drama!

Health as the journey not the destination

What if we viewed health as a process, as something we could choose to do at each moment, rather than something we look to attain? What if it was actions we could take at each juncture in the road, rather than any sort of measurable outcome like statistics or numbers? What if it were something that was relative according to each individual, so that we could all do it right now and whenever we wanted to regardless of our current situation and regardless of what it looks like for other people?

I ponder these things at the cusp of the new year – a time ripe with resolutions to get healthier/thinner/fitter and I remember being in that place too, once upon a time. Year after year I made the same pledges and ultimately I’d fall flat on my face. I was trying to change too much and setting the goal posts further and further away – too focused on the outcome to realise I was doing the process all wrong too. We don’t have to do health perfectly, and we don’t have to stick to strict rules (I’d actually say that is less healthy really), instead I think really we just need to focus so much on the journey we forget the destination altogether.

See, I am a firm believer in intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is one of those dumb things, like organic vegetables, that wouldn’t need the adjective in front of the noun 200 years ago. Organic vegetables, before the advent of modern agriculture, were just regular veggies and intuitive eating, before diets existed, was just eating and the way we’d eaten for thousands of years. It looks different in every culture and for every person. The basic premise is that you eat what you want, how much you want and when you want (and included in the idea of “want” is what will feel right for your body). It’s pretty simple, but hard to do for most people (I used to be one) who have been eating according to external rules and dictations their whole life (since babies, I am learning as a mother – because there are even rules about how much and how often your baby should eat!)

I am also a firm believer in intuitive movement – I wholeheartedly believe movement is essential to thriving (whatever that looks like for you), but again, I don’t believe it needs to be dictated by external rules. In fact, after nearly 10 years as a personal trainer and 3 as a yoga teacher, I believe the opposite – strict rules push us into a corner where we rely fully on motivation and negative self talk or negative views of ourselves in order to make ourselves move in ways we don’t enjoy but believe we “should”. I am of the belief any movement is good movement and if we find things we love we’ll never need motivation again. I personally love bush hikes, yoga asana and a full body weights circuit in my home gym with my husband. I do not like running, high intensity cardio (unless it’s less than 15 minutes) or long slogs in the gym that focus on individual body parts. Make me do one of those and I will procrastinate, make excuses and not move at all. Allow me to move in the ways I love and I’ll crave the moment in the day as soon as I can get the chance to do it. It’s pretty simple – we are drawn to things we enjoy!

Mindful Movement from http://www.lionsroar.com.au

I also believe that health is absolutely, definately much more than what goes in our mouths and how much we move our body. In fact, I think those two things are relatively minor pieces of the puzzle (contrary to what the health industry will lead you to believe). I think that all of us have different values around what health looks like – and all of them are practices I can do at any moment – for me it involves staying mostly sober, connecting to nature, spending time with my tribe, living according to purpose, making time for stillness and silence and breath, being mindful of my thoughts, being present and making sure I make time for fun (in the form of spontaneity and hobbies). In the end, healthy for me isn’t a bunch of rules I stick to in order to maintain or get to a weight, a size or some other number used to “measure” my “health”. For me, and most I would argue, keeping weight out of the question is actually vital to achieving optimum health because of the way pursuit of weightloss sabotages our ability to listen to our body’s own signals. And so health is a way of life and a set of things I ‘practice’ to feel my best in each moment.

So as we sit in the silly season and head into a new year I would encourage you to have a think about this idea of health as a process rather than an outcome, and envision how that would look for you. For me, it means I never need to make a commitment to change things on Monday or next year or after XYZ event, because for me health is a choice I make consistently. It doesn’t involve deprivation or resisting, ever, and it took me a long time to learn that actually, those things can be the unhealthiest of them all. Sometimes the healthiest choice involves a bit of balance which means croissants for breakfast (as we did Christmas morning) or ice cream for dessert (as I do most nights).

Let me know what you think of this concept and if you could see it working for you. And of course, throw any questions at me I’d love to help.

The simple things

Sometimes, late at night while Louis-James sleeps next to me, I find myself watching youtube videos of people doing seriously mundane things – like drinking a coffee in their kitchen. Continue reading “The simple things”

How to make your own coconut milk

When I went to Thailand for yoga teacher training I was amazed how much better curries tasted than here – and one of the main reasons is that they make their own, fresh coconut milk. We also had fresh coconut milk with breakfast and it was so similar to dairy milk I didn’t notice for a few days that it wasn’t.Continue reading “How to make your own coconut milk”

Motherhood as a Spiritual Practice

I am a serial ‘project-er’ – I love to have multiple projects on the go including studying, business, writing, blogging, and trying to get enlightened before I turn 40 😛 Continue reading “Motherhood as a Spiritual Practice”