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I’m on a mission… to park the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV). Why don’t I have time to write? Because I don’t make it a priority.

In fact, I don’t make anything about me a priority. Writing, eating well, exercising, downtime, time with people I love, FUN. Oh yes, I do all that, in between the other bits. Jammed in between.

But mostly I’m tearing down life’s highway, sirens blaring, to fix a real or imagined emergency. I don’t actually stop to question if it is an emergency, I just jump right in the ERV and go…

Which leaves me existing in the future – the “one day” when life will be calm and rational, and I’ll have the time to do all those things I’ve been putting off (or stuffing, half finished, in the bottom drawer).

So the brakes are on. I’ve already started encouraging my kids to start solving their own problems – or at least, not make mama the first call before they’ve put their own brains in gear.

And I’m taking lunch breaks. Yes, in this mad crazy year, when I’m grateful to be so busy in my business, I still need to breath – and eat – and occasionally do yoga.

I’m also stopping the multi-tasking. Being present and focused is actually working – and it’s reducing my anxiety levels. So is not always being connected.

The secret is to check in with yourself regularly – or so I’ve discovered. Who would’ve thought you’d have to remind yourself to breath, or walk, or listen, or think.

Or to remind yourself of something so obvious: who’s going to make your life happen – and when – if you don’t?

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Today, the torrent that’s been my year-so-far has slowed down – momentarily at least – and I’ve risen, gasping for air, to the surface. How exciting! A few days to breathe, kick off a couple of other projects I thought would require the midnight oil burner, and maybe get some me-time.

Right. Tomorrow. #1. Start the …. #2. Sort the…. #3. Clean the…. #4. Get the….. #5. Go to….#6. Have lunch with…. #7. Call…..

Oh god, there I going making lists again.

Why can’t I stop doing that? What’s so addictive about lists – especially really, really long ones I can’t possibly get done in the one, tiny, weeny day I’ve had off in god knows how long.

I saw a sticker on a car the other day, in fancy schmantzy writing: Justify your existence. I wanted to shout, NO! Don’t you get it?? I want to stop justifying my existence. It’s all I ever do…

The endless to-do lists are a clue. So is my inability to stop and smell the roses (without noticing the weeds I have to pull out or that the poor things could do with some fertilizer).

…the thing is, I know I’m not alone out here. We get just a bit addicted to our busy-ness and we find it hard to sit still – in a conscious state that is. Yeah, we might vege out in front of the TV after our power wind-down (aka wine-downing), but we’re not so good at not trying to be everything to everyone, while keeping the house in order, the kids lives in order, and the business/finances in order.

When was the last time you looked at the chaos around you and shrugged. Or when your kid/significant other said ‘have you seen my…’ and you said ‘nah’ without budging an inch. Or when you, in a fully-conscious, living-in-the-moment state, just didn’t try to do everything.

I can’t remember the last time I did that. Except in my head. Because we’re programmed to nurture, reduce chaos, facilitate others, and look good doing it.

“Justify your existence”? Oh, we’ve done that already.

Rip!! Crumple!! Chuck!!

That was the to-do list for tomorrow. Hmmmm. I’ve just discovered my diaphram – and I’m breathing again.

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We’ve got a challenge for you for 2010. But don’t feel like you’re alone in this… we’ll be doing it too!

The challenge seems quite simple. All you have to do is keep saying “I am enough” – but we know you’re going to find that hard to say, let alone believe.

And what’s the point? It’s about changing the way we think about ourselves and to shut down those annoying voices in our head. And that means we’ll be able to relax about ourselves and get on with living – instead of trying to fix stuff about ourselves all the time.

We’re sick of thinking about all the ways we’re not quite good enough – and we reckon you are too. You know what we’re talking about… “I’m not funny enough, smart enough, tall enough, pretty enough, slim enough, young enough, fit enough, assertive enough” and the list goes on.

So what’s the real word for this ‘not good enough’ feeling? Fear. We are afraid of not being pretty, slim, or young enough because that might mean we’re invisible or unloveable. We’re afraid of not being assertive enough because people will walk all over us – and that hurts. We’re afraid of not being smart enough because people won’t respect us, admire us, listen to us, promote us.

We’re afraid of not being fit enough because we might not be able to keep up with our friends and our kids, or be able to play the sport we love, or we’ll look floppy and uncoordinated, or…

We’re afraid of not being good enough (writers) because we won’t have our manuscript published, or when we do it’ll fall into oblivion or get torn to shreds by the critics. Most of all, we’re afraid that we won’t cope with stuff because we’re not enough.

Whatever our fears are, they’re often masquerading as ‘not being enough’. And the only thing fear does is stop you living. And trying. And breathing, mostly.

So in 2010, we’re going to be practicing ‘being enough’. We hope you’ll take up the challenge too.

cheers reindeers

Lou and Sandra

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One of my friends recently gave me a nudge. She said I didn’t take compliments well at all. She’s right…

“That’s a great dress. The colour really suits you.”

The reply? “Yes, it hides my flabby belly” or “Thanks, but I just got it on sale”.

“You look so fit and strong.”

“Looks are deceiving. I blow like an old horse when I run.”

“You look radiant.”

“…it’s the makeup. I had to trowel it on to hide the bags.”

“Thanks, but…”  Why the disclaimers? It’s almost like I’m channelling my inner-critic – the narky little voice in my head that tells me I’m not really good enough. I’m a fake and someone will find out sooner or later – so I may as well admit it all upfront.

I’m not alone. Accepting compliments is difficult for many of us (especially women!), and it’s an art we need to practice. It’s very simple to do. All we need to do is smile and say ‘thank you’ and leave it at that.

I’ve been very conscious of it lately and it really does make you feel better. I admit, I have bite marks on my tongue, but it seems to be working! The funny thing is that I’m noticing how many women just can’t take a compliment without adding a disclaimer.

But a compliment is a gift we can accept graciously. It will lift you up, if you let it. Just think about those days when someone says, “you look tired today”. How do you feel? Suddenly tired (or more tired). A compliment has the opposite effect .

Thank you. Smile. Thank you. Smile. If it takes 14 days to form a habit, I reckon I’m almost there…

So instead of admitting you got your fabulous dress in a closing down sale, or pointing out one of your flaws to counteract that great attribute someone just pointed out…smile and say thank you. It could just make your day…

cheers

Lou

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I can’t remember a time when I felt I was okay just as I am. I’m guessing I’m not alone in thinking like that. We are who we are, but most of us aren’t particularly satisfied with that – and we let it hold us back.

We think we’ll be okay once we lose weight, or get a better job, find a partner, have a baby, get published, get famous, win lotto… The problem is, like getting cosmetic surgery, we’ll still wake up and be looking at the world through the same eyes. And we’ll be looking for our next feel-good fix.

But what if we took a different approach? What if we said – hey, this is what I am. Now how can I work with that? And I’m talking about working with our flaws, instead of against them.

Because if all we focus on is the bad stuff – the things we’re not – the less we’re going to get out and give things a go. The less we’re going to put ourselves out there… until we’re all fixed and perfect.

Think about a civil engineering team who have the task of building a road from A to B. Except between those two points are a mountain, a river and a floodplain… and lots of other hard stuff to contend with.

What do they do? Do they say… oh, there’s a mountain there, and that floodplain isn’t great. Let’s not bother. No, they sit down and identify all the issues – the realities. Then they find a way to work within those parameters, and figure out what they can do differently or better so they get that road built.

And when it comes to who we are, I reckon we have to do the same thing. Work in our strengths. Work on our weaknesses. Not throw up our hands and say I’m just not good enough, or pretty enough, or funny enough, or fit / wealthy / intelligent / creative / tall / young enougj0435251h…

So face your life like you’d face a project. Work out exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are. Then ask: how can I work with what I am to get where I want to go? And when you’re on the way, and your confidence is building, start working on your weaknesses.

Because if you wait until you’re ‘just right’, life will have whooshed past you – faster than you’ve ever imagined.

Okay, I’d love to hang around chatting all day. But I’ve got project work to do!

🙂 lou

P.S. Take a look at incredible paralympians like Chinese amputee He Junquan , cyclist Barbara Buchan, and so many others. And when you think you can’t do something, think about a man with no arms who became an elite swimmer… now that’s inspiring.

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42-15696406There are a lot of ways you can sabotage your confidence – like making unrealistic goals and thinking you’re a loser when you fail, or comparing yourself to other people all the time (especially airbrushed celebs or people who’ve made it – they have bad days too), or focusing on the things you’re not (instead of the great things you are).

We all have confidence dips occasionally – or sometimes a lot. So here a five ways to boost your confidence…just in time for the weekend.

  1. Start sweating! Exercise gets those feel-good chemicals flooding through you, so get out and get active. Do a gym class, go for a walk, play tennis, go for a swim! Find some kind of exercise you really love, so you’ll want to keep doing it. For example, if you hate hate hate running there’s no point in making that your focus. Finding an activity you love, even gardening, means you’ll be exercising without even knowing it. What can be better than that?
  2. Hang out with ‘up’ people. Some people just drag you down, drawing out every ounce of your good energy then bouncing or sloping off leaving you flat. Eliminate the toxic friends, minimise contact with downbeat family, and find the people who make you see possibilities, think more, laugh more, get into life more.
  3. (a) What’s great about you? You probably don’t really think about that, because all you can see are the crappy bits. Think about all the things you’ve achieved in your life – even the small things, even the things no-one else notices or values. You might surprise yourself. And (b) love who you are, instead of thinking you’d be okay if you could just lose weight, get botoxed, fix yourself up somehow! Take a look at Lizzie Miller in September Glamour mag. Be comfortable with who you are. That’s confidence.
  4. Treat yourself well… which is what the Art of Moi is all about! Value yourself enough to say ‘no’ when you’re being taken advantage of, and ‘yes’ to life. Do something nice for yourself every day – even if it’s just taking ten minutes for yourself. When you look after you, you have more to give others…
  5. Dare to fail! It’s too easy to stay in your comfort zone, and not try anything new. It’s time to shed the fear – even if you have to take baby steps – and try those things you’ve always wanted to. And re-define your idea of success. You don’t have to be rich, famous, a superstar. You don’t even have to be particularly good at what you want to try. Remember that great saying: ‘Imagine what you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail’. Imagine…

Confident people aren’t all born that way. They’ve had to work on it, just like a body builder works on those pecs. You don’t get results from doing it once or twice. Make a commitment to yourself: Every day, you’re going to build those confidence muscles.

Go on. You know you can.

L & S

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CBR003054Have you ever asked yourself  ‘What do I really want?’ and come up blank – because it’s been way too long since you had time to think about it. I have.

But yesterday I discovered that finding out what I don’t want can be quite illuminating.

Recently an opportunity presented itself – one I’d tell anybody else to jump at – but (after much soul searching) I didn’t grab it with both hands.

Yesterday, I said ‘no’ to it. And it wasn’t out of fear. I actually felt it would take my life in a direction I didn’t really want to go in right now.

When I thought I should go all Nike inspired and just do it, I felt a huge sense of loss – especially of the freedom I feel I’m getting now, to create the life I’ve imagined. Yes, the opportunity was indeed fabulous – but it just didn’t feel right for me.

What do I really want? Finding out what I don’t want just brought me a lot closer to knowing…

I’m talking in riddles, because it doesn’t really matter what the opportunity was. For me this time, it was a brilliant job in another state/city – but what mattered to me was that I no longer feel I have to jump at every opportunity, even if that’s what I’ve always done.

I’m beginning to understand what I value and I feel like I’m getting closer to my true self. And I know that, because when I said ‘no’ I suddenly felt free again. Free to reinvent myself in whatever way I choose to. I followed my heart – not my ego or the fear of missing out or the $$ signs.

And, I’ll admit it, the $$ signs were starting to dictate my life, thanks to the GFC. No wonder I was feeling off centre.

I’m usually an advocate for the ‘leap and the net will appear’ theory. But that’s about following your heart, your instincts. And it means you’re pretty convinced that leaping (into whatever it is) feels right for you.

I’ll never know for sure if I made the right choice, but I believe I did and that’s enough. So maybe, for me, it’s about passing up a great opportunity to make way for a better one that’s hot on its heels! (Bring it on!)

What do you really want? Find out what you don’t want, and what you do want will become clearer.

Lou

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