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How to slow down when being busy is all you know

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‘Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans’ ~John Lennon

Can I ask you a question?

When someone asks you how you have been going, what do you tend to answer:

a) ‘Good thanks, life is pretty great!’

b) ‘Not so hot at the moment actually.’

or

c) ‘I’ve just been really busy.’

I’m wagering that if you are like most women I know, ‘c’ is your default answer.

So why has busy become the default badge of choice for the modern mum to wear at all times?

Is it because we are supposed to have a successful and meaningful career, run a well organised household, spend quality time with our kids, catch up with our friends, exercise regularly, visit our extended family, and maybe indulge in a little sexy time with our husbands every now and then?

Well yes, they may all be important things, but here’s the kicker: You are important too.

 

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‘I can take care of everyone~ but first me’

is a motto that I try and live my everyday life by. You should not feel guilty for putting your own needs first every now and then. Because let’s face it, if I am too busy, run down, stressed and tired, then that affects everyone else around me, in particular my family. If the health and wellbeing of my family are a priority for me, then shouldn’t my own health and wellbeing be my number one priority?

 

 

 

So when I feel overwhelm and stress creeping back into my life (and let’s face it, it always does, that’s simply the world we live in) I make a conscious choice to dial down the level of ‘busy’ in my life, and slow right down…

Here are some of my go to ways to kick busy to the kerb:

Don’t push yourself to do something when your gut says no

Turn your FOMO (fear of missing out) into JOMO (joy of missing out)

Take regular guilt free nana naps: short and sweet is the trick for beating fatigue

Try tracking your menstrual cycle and nurture yourself in the lead up to, and during your period

Put your feet up and just chill for a few minutes (also try ‘legs up the wall’)

Have an epsom salts bath by candlelight once a week

Put your phone away and read a great novel before bedtime

Mindfully drink a cup of tea basking in the sunshine

Say no without guilt or long winded explanations

Turn off notifications on your smartphone (you will survive!)

Meditate daily for 5-10 minutes: in a chair, lying down, listening to music or chanting (whatever floats your boat, just give it a try)

Take mini moments through your day to close your eyes, put your hand on your heart and breathe deeply (ps. this is actually a form of meditation, but if you just said to yourself that you can’t meditate, then start with this!)

Pay more attention to what your body needs: food wise, movement wise, rest wise, and make a commitment to yourself to make at least one positive change in each area.

It’s pretty simple really…being busy all the time is overrated, so take some time for a deep breath or two, and give yourself permission to slow down and simply be. Your mind, body and spirit will thank you for it (and quite possibly your family will as well!)

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If you would like to chat to me about how I can help guide you to dial down the busy and bring more calm energy into your life and household, then email me at melissa@melissajeffcott.com and let’s organise an obligation free 20 minute call. 

The Power of Dance

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‘Dance is a way to find yourself and lose yourself at the same time’

It’s no secret that I love to dance. I have always loved the feeling of losing myself in the beat of the music and being connected into my body. Whether dancing in nightclubs back in the day when I could ‘drop it like it’s hot’, to nowadays dancing in my living room ‘squatting like it’s warm’, the feelings invoked in me are freedom, happiness and joy (and we can all do with more of that, am I right!)

In a bid to bring more of those feelings into my life (and to stave off my highly developed sense of FOMO) I recently joined a dance class with some of my local school mum friends. I had fairly low expectations, especially when I discovered we were learning a hip hop routine (Goldigger by Kanye West, aka Mr. Kim Kardashian!) At the first class, I saw that like me, the majority of the group were mum’s on the other side of forty, with little to no dance experience and a sense of apprehension for what we had got ourselves into!

Despite our similar age range, we were a diverse group of women, with many different reasons for doing the class. For some it was a regular chance to connect with friends, for others it went a bit deeper, and this offered a real chance to reconnect with themselves.

For it will come as no surprise if you are a mum yourself, to recognise that feeling of losing the true essence of yourself after motherhood.

If dancing was something you regularly enjoyed doing before kids, then it is a blessing to rediscover that part of yourself again (albeit sober and in a dance studio rather than a smoky crowded nightclub!) Even if dance, wasn’t an important part of your past, the very act of showing up and doing something fun outside of your everyday life (and comfort zone!) was truly empowering.

As the classes progressed, the group found that despite the unfamiliar genre, we were actually enjoying ourselves. Learning something so outside the everyday, pulled you out of your head (and the million things going on inside it) and fully into your body in the moment. Trust me, it is hard to think about the kids, the bills, and your work deadlines when you are trying to master a Beyonce style booty pop!

Towards the end of the term, there was plenty of animated talk of what we would wear for our performance (oh yes, there was a performance in a nightclub at the end of all this!) in order to reveal our inner Gold Diggers. There was plenty of laughter each week as more layers of cheap gold bling were added to outfits, and gold hightop sneakers became the footwear of choice! This was a chance to cut loose and inject some playfulness into our everyday, and boy did we take that opportunity and run with it (as you can see by the photo below!)

Finally, the performance night rolled around, and I can honestly say that it was one of the most fun nights I have had in a very long time. I truly felt connected into that part of me that used to love to perform, a part of myself I have not seen since my high school days. The smile could not be wiped off my face all night, and I danced my heart out both on the stage, and on the dance floor late into the night (as evidenced by the myriad of aches and pains I had the next day!)

Was our dance routine perfectly polished? Um, no, not at all. Did it matter in the slightest? Um, no, not at all. The crowd went wild for a bunch of middle aged women dancing with all their hearts, having the absolute time of their lives, and not giving a care in the world for what they looked like doing it.

Now that’s the power of dance…

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The lesson I learned at 10 years old that changed my life

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‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted’ ~ Aesop

When I was in Grade 5 in the early 1980’s life was pretty sweet. I lived in a time where the local neighbourhood was my playground, and the milk bar at the end of my road was my favourite place to visit (how did those milk bar owners not go crazy with our interminably long mixed lolly orders!)

School was fun, and I was a happily engaged student with a big group of friends. I never really considered my standing in my friendship group: I knew I wasn’t the most popular girl, but I was happy with wherever I slotted in.  Like everyone else, I looked up to Stephanie, the new girl who had bewitched us all with her perfect blonde hair and tanned long legs: the photo above may give you an idea as to how she was viewed by all the Grade 5 girls (and a good portion of the boys as well!)

One fateful day, the big topic of discussion was what we were all going to wear to the school photos the next day. Stephanie pulled me aside and informed me that I should wear my bottle-green cords and windcheater (oh yeah, they were as snazzy as they sound!) as that was what all the girls were wearing. Deliriously happy to be singled out and forewarned with this extremely important bit of information, I ran home that afternoon, and implored my mum to wash and iron my cord pants, which she duly did. I woke up excitedly the next day, put them on and rushed to school…only to find ALL the girls in my class except for me and two others were wearing their tartan checked Winter tunics.

BP2463-BottleGreen000104890Yes, these two incredibly attractive items of clothes forever more changed the way I looked at friendships and people that were different to me!

 

“Oh my God, Mel,” exclaimed Princess Stephanie with a delightfully smug yet disgusted look on her face, “you have totally ruined the school photos: what a loser!” and with a flick of her perfect blonde ponytail, that was it: I was done, persona non grata, no longer part of the ‘it’ crowd and decried to be a dweeb, a dork, a Scott Nomates. Did I protest? Did I stand up for myself? No, I thought I had no hope swaying my so called friends away from the golden tyrant who ruled the class.

For while I had been mildly bullied before (you didn’t get through Primary School wearing glasses in those days without copping some name calling) I had never experienced such deliberate meanness. That night I went home and cried my eyes out about how unjust it was, then got up the next day went to school ready to accept my fate as a forever friendless four eyed dork (not surprisingly, I had an active inner mean girl at work in conjunction with the actual mean girl!)

While standing morosely by myself at lunchtime, watching my ‘friends’ hanging off the monkey bars perfecting their backflips, I saw my fellow outcasts sitting close by. I had always dismissed these two girls as nerds, girls that didn’t quite look right, say the right things, eat the right sandwiches (yes, this was actually a thing!). The quiet larger girl named Pam shyly looked at me, and said ‘you can come and sit with us if you like’. Grateful for anyone to talk to, I moved closer and the three of us started to talk.

I soon discovered I had much in common with these so called ‘nerds’. We loved the same books (The Hobbit was a revelation to me at this age) and TV shows (M.A.S.H) and had lots of interesting things to talk about.  I soon moved on from my hurt and eventually moved into a different class and life was carefree once more. However, I never forgot the kindness that two young girls I had been so quick to judge and dismiss in the past had shown me.

I very quickly realised that being popular doesn’t necessarily equate to being nice, and that everybody has something to offer, if you simply give them a chance to show you. I learned that I wanted to be the type of girl (and woman) who looked beyond the clothes, the hair and the sandwiches, and took the time to ask questions of people, and most importantly: be kind. This early lesson has held me in good stead throughout my life, and it has led me to meet some amazing and interesting people over the years.

As I now watch my own daughters prevail the slippery slopes of tween friendship (BFF’s one day, on the outer the next) I tell them my own stories so they know that it’s not what you look like or what you have that makes you ‘cool’, but how you act. Because kindness truly does matter.

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it-is-cool-to-be-kind-30x40-11563Do you have a story from your childhood that has helped shape the person you have become? Feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments below 

Are you worth it?

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“Make your self a priority once in a while. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary”

Do you want AND believe you deserve time away from your family, just to focus on your own needs and wants?

If I were to be honest with you, I would say that in the past, I definitely wanted to have some quality time to myself every now and then,  but I didn’t truly believe I deserved it. I think I felt that I should be happy and content with all that I had in my life (and believe me I am grateful for the all the blessings I have) and I remember feeling guilty for even thinking to myself that wasn’t enough, and feeling I would be seen as a ‘bad mum’ if I even acknowledged that I wanted time away from my family life sometimes to just be ‘me’.

But over the last few years, I have made many changes to my life, and acknowledging my own wants and desires (along with ditching the mummy guilt) has been high on the priority list!

When I look back on the past year, I am proud of myself for believing I was worth it, and saying a wholehearted ‘Yes’ to:

  • Leaving my children behind and travelling to Greece with my husband for 2 weeks
  • Spending a full day focussed on my self care and creative wellbeing at a local workshop
  • Enjoying a relaxing week in Bali with my girlfriends for our annual getaway mumcation
  • Attending two local inspired networking days with a group of amazing speakers and connecting with other inspiring entrepreneurs

‘Yeah, well that’s all well and good for you’, you may say. ‘You’re obviously lucky enough to have the money and support around you to allow you to do these things’.

To which, my answer would be, ‘well, kind of’.

Yes, the trip to Greece was a wonderful one off opportunity, but I really had to work on myself to leave the guilt behind and say yes to going, and it took a lot of logistical planning to make it happen.

I really ummed and ahhed about spending the money on myself on a self care day, but then I told myself you need this, and so I prioritised it and made it happen.

I realised that I wanted the in person connection with other life coaches to uplift and inspire me, so when the Sydney day was announced, I told my husband I wanted to go, and I made it happen.

I knew that a week in Bali with my friends would be restorative after a busy year working on my business, so although there was a massive amount of planning, you guessed it, I made it happen.

I recognised that one of the downsides of working from home, was a lack of in person connection with other entrepreneurs, so when I read about the Inspired Networking days, I bought my ticket, and made it happen (even when my son smashed a window on the morning of one of the events: I took a deep breath, quickly boarded it up, took the kids to school and off I went, better late than not at all).

With any of these events or opportunities, I could have easily said no:  that it costs too much money, that I don’t know who could look after my kids, that my life is busy enough without trying to plan and organise the logistics of attending any of these events.

But what I have grown to realise on the other side of forty, is that I have a choice. I can choose to automatically say no to the things that are hard, or I can choose to see if there is a way to manage it if it is something that I truly want to do. I can choose to prioritise spending my money on things that light me up, and I can stop spending it on things that aren’t as important to me (farewell takeaway coffees and impulse clothes shopping!) I can also choose to ask my friends and family for help with my kids (and be ok with whatever the answer is).

I can also choose to remind my husband and family, that I am a happier more centred person, when on occasion I prioritise myself and recognise that I am worth it.

Now, I completely understand that a 2 week trip to the Greek Islands isn’t on most of our radars very often, (which is a damn shame really!) and there have been plenty of events that I would have loved to attend in the past year but haven’t been able to. However, maybe a self care day or a weekend retreat is possible for you. Maybe you just need to acknowledge what you want and need to yourself, and then ask your loved ones for help and see if you could make it happen.

Indeed, you might forget about the guilt, work out the cost, and really value the benefits of giving time and space to yourself, because you know what… I believe you are worth it.

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