Motivate yourself

It was a simple message I read in a tweet today “Motivate Yourself”.

I think it was from a fitness company but really that’s irrelevant: the message is important.

I often find myself seeking motivation from outside sources. Speakers at conferences, webinars, friends. They deliver, but there are also times when this mantra is more appropriate.

It’s easy to enjoy the fun, to be excited by the enthusiasm of others, but there will also be tasks and days where the motivation vacuum strikes.

Another fitness company liked “Just do it” and it’s a similar theme.

Inspiration and motivation come and go but we remain constant. We need to do support ourselves and push ourselves forward.

It’s time to stop waiting and start doing.

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A little spring in my step

The arrival of blue skies, warm days and daylight savings appears to have delivered a little spring to my step.

The changing of the seasons always intrigues me, particularly now, living in a city that has a relatively stable climate.

The changes are less obvious than in the places I grew up. There, the leaves changed as if by calendar, the winter’s days came with a crash in temperature and spring and summer arrived with blast of strong sunshine.

While this winter was not especially wet or cold, there were events which made it feel like a bleak season. Now, the arrival of sunshine and warming days, the cloud is lifting and my mood is on the rise.

Cheers to Spring and the celebrations this season brings. It’s time to shrug off the winter jackets and step forward with enthusiasm and optimism.

Live it.

After a pretty mixed few weeks, it’s time to look forward and make some changes to make sure the coming months are the best yet.

After the joy of regaining contact with an old friend, I received news (just days apart) that two friends had died. Throughout this, I’ve received amazing support from my husband, family and workmates and had other little moments of joy.

So, in an effort to make the most of it and live a life more loved, I’m making a concerted effort to focus on these five things:

  1. Friends and family. They are vital. It’s simple enough to write and I’m reasonably good at keeping in touch but this last few weeks have proven to me that they should remain a priority regardless of how busy my week is or how tired I may be. I’m lucky to be connected to some pretty wonderful people and I want them to know it now and always.
  2. My health. I make plans to do a lot of things, but quite often let other engagements cancel my exercise plans, postpone medical appointments or make plans for meals out. None of that is a problem once in awhile, but it adds up. It’s time to make my health a priority.
  3. Sleep. Most people who know me will love at this, but the reality is that I often procrastinate before bed which means that I don’t end up getting as much sleep as I intend. That must change.
  4. Saving. It should be a habit, but, like many others, for me it hasn’t been. It’s time to change that.
  5. Just doing it. It’s time to stop procrastinating. List making is one thing, but it’s time to limit social media, switch off the TV, get up and just live life. It’s too short.

Every precious moment

When I made my last post, I’d hoped that it would be years before I again heard a friend had died.

Alas, on Monday night, my friend, Elizabeth, passed away after losing her long and hard-fought battle with Cystic Fibrosis.

While our friendship had changed a lot since we first met at high school and our catch ups were infrequent, she was often in my thoughts and we regularly exchanged emails.

Last Friday, I happened to be in my home town, our schedules worked and we caught up. The nature of her illness meant lunch and coffee were out, but we sat and chatted for a time that I will now cherish forever. She was the same bubbly, smiling girl I met in the school yard. Despite the rather awful year she’d had health-wise, she was happy, she was laughing and her spirit was strong.

We went our separate ways with promises of emails soon and catching up when I was next in town.

Sadly, I will head home next week to farewell this beautiful friend. A woman who had shown courage in the face of challenge, shared happiness and laughter always and who has taught me to appreciate how lucky I am.

Elizabeth, you will be missed, but not forgotten. x

In gratitude and memory

This week we received the tragic news that one of our friends had died in an overseas accident.

Right now, across the country, a lot of people are hurting. Grief is strong among his friends and family, lamenting a young man who was much loved, gone to soon.

I have seen the heartbreak, but I’m also pleased that I have seen these people come together. I am pleased that they have found ways to honour Kurt and support each other.

I was fortunate enough to have known Kurt and been witness to his hard work, determination, enthusiasm and bubbliness. I didn’t know him as well as a lot of people, but I am so grateful that I did know him.

This awful week has also reminded me just how important it is to hold close the ones we love and tell them how much they mean to us. Amongst this sadness, I’ve been blessed to spend time with friends I see too infrequently and make contact with old friends.

As the week draws to a close, take a moment to call a friend, write them or drop by. Life’s short.

RIP Kurt. You are missed.

Old friends

Familiar, yet different.

During the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to catch up with old friends. Friendships changed by the fact I’ve moved or changed job.

Some of these catch ups have been easy, like a familiar worn piece of clothing you much love. Others, while wonderful, just felt different.

I’ve been blessed by some pretty great friends and friendships with some pretty amazing people and I’m not keen to let them slip away. I’m well aware that as these friendships evolve, there will be times when they take a little more effort, might not be like they were before and that’s okay. That’s not to say it’s easy.

This week I’m spending time focusing on the faraway friends, the friends I’ve drifted from based purely due to location. I’m making an effort to invest.

They’re facebook friends, and that helps us stay in touch, but friendship’s about more than facebook.

Life’s too short to spend time wishing you’d made the effort.

Busy, beautifully busy

During the past few weeks, life has been busy. Beautifully busy.

I’m one of those people that enjoys running on adrenalin when it’s for things I’m passionate about. Time with friends and family, helping out organisations I support, my writing, my business.

In the past few weeks all of this – and more – has been ticking along.

I’ve had moments where I would have preferred to pull the quilt a little tighter around me and sleep a little longer, but on reflection I’m just so lucky. I’m lucky to be around people who are so passionate, dedicated and committed to what they do. I’m lucky to be part of some pretty special groups. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to balance my work and passions.

I guess that’s the reality of “A life more loved” – the recognition that it’s the little things that matter and being grateful for them.

Grandparent greatness and gratitude

Wise advice, laughter, conversations, tea and much more.

I’ve spent this past weekend with my wonderful grandparents and am feeling so grateful to have them here, providing influence on everything I do.

When I was very small, I spent a lot of time with them. I was the first grandchild, they often babysat me and I’m sure spoiled me terribly! Later, we moved far away and seeing them was a holiday treat involving sleep overs, excursions, building tree-houses and being fed waffles for lunch.

While I’ve sadly lost my other grandparents, I’m luckier than most. I have had many years of love, nurture, encouragement, advice and fun with my grandparents. The two years I spent living with them was wonderful, I speak to them weekly and whenever we get to spend time together it’s easy, relaxed and lovely. 

There’s no doubt I’ve inherited and learned a lot of their traits as well. Among them I count my determination, my organisation, my caring, my sense of justice and a whole lot more.

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.

– Alex Haley

My grandparents live two states away, but I still feel they’re close by. That’s because they’ve raised me to realise that no matter what, our family is here for us. 

I’m so very grateful to be able to call them when I need advice about my garden, on what birthday gift to buy, a favourite recipe – anything in fact.

I’m so very grateful that not only are they amazing individuals, raised pretty wonderful children and are now a perfect set of a grandparents.

 

Sparklers, sparkles and soaring spirits

I’ve been described as many things over the years, one of which has stuck with me.

“You’re a birthday person,” they said. “Yours and other people’s, you love them.”

It’s true and it’s stuck with me.

In my family, birthdays were always made to be a big deal. My parents didn’t throw hundreds of dollars at expensive toys and over the top celebrations, but they always made us feel loved, special and there was always cake and a party with friends. Image

As the years have passed, the celebrations have changed. Long gone are the birthday parties with pass the parcel, mini sausage rolls and fairy bread, but the excitement and delight remains.

I’ve accepted that with age the day becomes more low key and “the party” is replaced by a nice dinner. It doesn’t stop me counting down to friends’ birthdays, searching for gifts I know they love and generally getting excited on their behalf.

Friends are now entering that next phase – babies – and with that birthday parties make a return. While I’m excited about the prospects of little cakes, the odd lolly bag, party games and hyper children, I’m also a little sad that now the focus seems to be so much more about the gifts and the elaborate celebrations.

I hope that somewhere amidst that, we can keep alive the love for birthdays for the right reasons. A child feeling a special sense of love, class inclusive parties, games that everyone can play, awe-inspiring sparklers, the odd sparkle and a lot of smiles.

If all else fails, you’ll find me in the corner with the sparklers, the glitter, writing birthday cards, wearing a party hat and admiring the cake.

Beating up a little joy

I remember standing on a chair eagerly anticipating the moment the mixing would be over and the cake-lathered beaters would be handed over for licking.

Baking was a frequent event in my childhood, with homemade cakes and biscuits included in our lunches almost daily and intricate designs wheeled out for birthday parties. Chocolate cake, banana cake, Anzac biscuits,  plain biscuits, gingerbread. A Barbie cake, a clown cake, roller skate cakes and more. All connect me to happy memories of the buzz of activity in the kitchen, being allowed to help mix, licking the beaters and the bowl, helping decorate the finished product. The actual eating was almost an anti-climax!

As a result of this, I still love baking. Over the years I’ve gone through many favourite recipes, rolling out massive batches of chocolate chip cookies and brownies during my uni days, gingerbread for office Christmas parties, birthday cakes for friends and family.

Today I’ve spent the morning in the kitchen (sshhh I was supposed to working) whipping up a birthday cake for a good friend of mine. We were lucky to be given a Kitchenaid mixer as a wedding present which meant I got to sip on my coffee while I watched the magic happening in the silver bowl.

cake 1

A hands-free mixer makes baking even easier, but doesn’t reduce the joy.

In recent years, my baking has had to adapt. A number of my family members, this particular friend and I have all been diagnosed with gluten and dairy intolerances. It’s meant finding which recipes work with which substituted ingredients. Fortunately, many of my favourite recipes have made the switch to gluten-free flour, lactose-free spread and rice milk without too much stress. My fingers are crossed that my grandmother’s chocolate cake recipe does the same today.

Even though the recipes have changed and I now have to do my own washing up, baking still fills me with joy. I hope it continues for years to come.

(No picture of the final cake yet – decorating to follow)