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”

What do George Floyd, Juukan Gorge, the parliamentary inquiry into domestic violence and Willow Dunn have in common?

I used to be very opinionated. Wait, I am very opinionated but I used to not be afraid of using my voice. I’m not sure when, but at some point I started doubting myself. I had internalised a message from somewhere that I should tow the line, be quiet, and stop caring so much about things. I should definitely stop telling others to care about them too. I changed the language I used when posting on Instagram and Facebook, I stopped calling people out when I saw them post racist, homophobic or post in otherwise equally privileged ways lest I be seen as confrontational, or a know-it-all (most of the time I’d just delete them as a friend but I’m not sure that’s useful). I guess at some point I thought this was better for me and everyone else – after all, I told myself, no-one wants to be told what to think and you can’t change people’s opinions anyway so what’s the point?Continue reading “What do George Floyd, Juukan Gorge, the parliamentary inquiry into domestic violence and Willow Dunn have in common?”

Coronavirus lockdown

Well, the world is almost in lockdown. People travelling internationally must self-isolate for 14 days upon return or some countries like Denmark have closed borders entirely. Tourist attractions in New York are closed, football games are over, gatherings of over 500 people in Australia have been cancelled and people have been encouraged to stay home. The whole of Italy is being quarantined. I read this over and wonder if I have written the first paragraph of a sci-fi novel. It’s a strange time in the world and sitting in my living room it’s easy to forget. When I remember I feel an eeriness descend.Continue reading “Coronavirus lockdown”

My coronavirus survival plan.. And it doesn’t involve toilet paper.

How intense has 2020 been – first the worst bushfires in ever, then the worst floods in ever- and now for the plague (no locusts, but a plague nonetheless). Except… It’s not the plague. And it’s not anywhere as bad as people think. Regardless, we all seem to love a bit of drama and since all the fires are out and Scomo hasn’t taken a holiday, I guess we need to be a little extra about something.

Unlike some, I will not be stockpiling toilet paper… Although, we did forget to get some the last 2 shopping trips, so inconveniently we’ve run out. I also won’t be stockpiling food-  I’m sure my cupboard, fridge and freezer could sustain us with their contents for 2 weeks – we’d have to get creative, sure, but there’s enough there and it’s probably a good excuse to use it all up! And I can kill two birds with one stone and Marie Kondo my cupboard.

In all seriousness though, I will be doing some things to prepare for coronavirus. This is them:

1. I’m going to spend less time on social media, more time staring into my beautiful new son’s big blue eyes. I have been scrolling alot more than I like, and if I or he was to die, I know I’d appreciate knowing I squeezed every last drop out of the moments we had together. Actually though, I’m a 31 year old healthy woman so the virus is not likely to affect me much. As for him? Well, so far reports say it actually doesn’t affect young people as much as you’d think – no babies have died, and even in China the last I read the count was like 6 kids who were hospitalised and the worst symptoms were a fever or a cough. Nevertheless, life is short and precious so less screen time, more real time.

My boy ❤

2. Really focus on my health. I’m not a fan of dieting or ruling things out, but sugar lowers your immune system for 24 hours after eating it, so I might focus a little more on only eating the stuff when I have a real craving for it (and not when I’m tired or bored which has been happening the last 4 weeks..) I’ll also keep avoiding alcohol (due to pregnancy I haven’t had a drink since May 23 last year – my birthday – so I’ll carry on with that). I’ll eat mostly whole, organic foods, drink lots of water and get my body moving (now that I’m not crippled from the after-effects of having a child). Honestly, caring about my health is important all the time, but especially when I want to boost my immune system. So lots of gut-loving fiber from vegetables, fermented foods like sauerkraut, homemade yogurt and kombucha to increase the good bacteria who fight bad bugs, taking a good quality probiotic, drinking filtered water (because chlorine is intended to kill bugs so obviously kills our microbiome), and eating lots of fresh fruit and veg with antioxidants to fight free radicals that kill our cells will all be on the menu for me.

3. Spend as much time in nature as possible. Nature is healing. Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, is a Japanese therapy that literally involves just immersing yourself in the natural world. It has scientifically-supported benefits too: increasing immune system, fighting illness, decreasing blood pressure, lowering heart rate, decreasing effects of stress and increasing creativity. How cool is that! All things that will help should I contract coronavirus (even creativity will help me think outside the square and problem-solve should I need it).

4. Keep my sensible hat on. That sounds so fucking boring, I know, but I just think we need to be rational in the face of hysteria. The media is preying on our already fragile anxieties after coming off the back of the worst bushfire season ever, some of the hottest temps on record and a government who just keeps clearing forests and approving coal-mines. We feel worried, well I do, and the media loves that. So keeping my mind out of the shit media pages and focused on the facts, or maybe just out of the media pages (news) altogether, will probably help. The flu still kills more people than this coronavirus, yet people aren’t terrified of it..which is beyond me.

5. Stay present. If we all got completely off social media, stopped watching and reading the news and cut off any other connection we have to broadcasts about coronavirus, life would look more or less the same as it always has. Right now, we’re okay. Right now, it’s business as usual. Right now, we don’t need to be stock piling bloody toilet paper. Right now, the rain is dropping in heavy droplets on the tin roof of my mum’s holiday house where I’m staying with her, and I have a divine little caterpillar lying fast asleep next to me. Life is good. No need to worry.

6. Start meditating regularly again. Since having baby I have managed to meditate a few times – 5 to 10 minutes here or there while I can, or a quick guided meditation when I’m feeling stressed out. Meditation lowers stress, and stress lowers your immune system, therefore meditation will help fight coronavirus (Or any other virus – the last thing this sleep-deprived mama needs is any sort of sickness). It also helps me stay rational, feel positive, see the sparkle in a dreary day, be more loving to my loved ones and less cranky too. There’s literally nothing bad about meditating. Actually, I’m going to go do it now!

From http://www.keepinspiring.me

7. Keep growing our own food. This is literally the reason I told you we bought an acreage – to survive the armageddon. Okay, so I don’t think this is the armageddon, but regardless, growing your own food sure comes in handy. We’ll need to grow some potatoes though, because I eat them basically every day because #carbface, and I’d love to convince James to let me get a goat for fresh milk but I’ve got my own udders currently so I guess if we can’t get fresh dairy we have an option. That sounds a bit gross, and I am joking, but now that I think about it drinking the milk from an animal is probably more gross than drinking my own. Vegans will attest to this. I will have to stop the goanna stealing the eggs though, and somehow ward off my increasingly psycho rooster from attacking me every time I go into the garden where the veggie beds are – perhaps I can get the goanna to eat the rooster instead and all my problems will be solved.

Eggbert the Psychopath

So, that’s whats in my end of the world survival kit – what does yours look like?

Growing our own veg

When we initially bought our home 3 years ago, we bought an acreage because we wanted to become self-sufficient. When I told my friend it’s so we can survive the armageddon when it comes she thought I was joking but considering the state of the climate I really don’t think it’s too far-fetched a prediction. Regardless, my husband, James, is an absolute green thumb and loves to garden. I am learning to embrace it and I must admit, not having a degree to do is helping me to enjoy spending time away from a desk. Plus, I love animals so having some space for chooks and dogs seemed perfect.Continue reading “Growing our own veg”