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It is time to love your body

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Oh yes, once again it is my favourite time of the year. When all the magazines pop the Kardashian’s away for a couple of weeks and excitedly reveal their best celebrity bikini body makeover stories for 2016 (actually forget that,  there is probably a Kardashian in there somewhere!)

Yes, after a few weeks of eating cheese, Christmas pudding, pavlova, and more cheese, I can’t wait to scan the supermarket shelves and indulge in a bit of body self loathing as taut bikini bodied celebrities tell me how I too can be happy and successful, if only I was ‘half my size!’ Hmmm, if I was actually half my size, then I would spend my Summer in hospital, but don’t let that get in the way of a good story!

Well, I am sorry ‘Woman’s Who New Weekly Idea Day Magazine’ I won’t be joining in your ‘fun’ and berating myself for not looking like Elle MacPherson, I’ll be too busy actually enjoying my life.  Because guess what? She’s got her genes (tall, long limbed, lean and tanned) and I’ve got mine (tallish, medium limbed, pear shaped and white as a lily). She makes her dietary choices and I make mine (mine would probably involve more carbs I’d hazard a guess). She has her exercise routine and I have mine (or I will do when I actually get moving for the year).  I’m also reasonably sure that even if I follow Elle’s 4 week diet plan that I saw on a recent magazine cover, I will still look a lot like me (albeit a little more miserable from depriving myself of pasta).

My body is that of a woman in her mid forties who has given birth to three children and god damn I am proud of it. Here are but a few reasons why:

  • I can still wrestle and pin down my 13 year old son to land a kiss on him (although this is getting admittedly harder)
  • I can still jump and bounce on a trampoline with my daughters (providing I have been to the toilet first)
  • I can still dance the night away like I am 20 (although unfortunately I can no longer ‘drop it like it’s hot’)
  • I can still comfortably walk, hike, jump, and even run short distances if need be (but not skip: I never have been able to skip for some reason)

In other words, my body works pretty darn well: I certainly have a few aches and pains brought on with middle age, but on the whole what a blessing this body of mine that gives me life is.

So why would I care if my tummy isn’t perfectly flat, my thighs have a bit of jiggle, and my bum is of the biggish variety: I am ok with that. My husband is ok with that. My kids are ok with that. I’m pretty sure my friends are ok with that. I’m guessing what they wouldn’t be happy with is a wife, mum, and friend who hated the way she looked, who sat on the sidelines of life because she cared what others might think of her. Who won’t ever get in her bathers in case someone sees those jiggly white thighs of hers. Fuck that for a joke. Life is for living, for having fun, for diving into the ocean…and for eating cheese.

Except, for one thing. The media tells me I shouldn’t be ok with that. Instagram tells me I should be thinner to feel good, people on Facebook fat shame normal sized women all the time, and those god damn magazines tell me that the celebrity bikini lifestyle is what I crave,

But I know one thing they don’t know: I know myself. I am Melissa, I am on the other side of forty and I choose not to give a shit what anyone I don’t love thinks about me.

So here I am at the beginning of 2016, I’ve got my mum bathers on and I’m whooping and dive bombing into my swimming pool with my kids. You may not see a photo of it on Instagram: but that’s ok, I’m having too much fun to get my phone out anyway!

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P.S. When I first saw this photo of me from my holiday to Greece (which is now one of my favourites of myself) my immediate thought was how my billowing top made me look so huge. Is this the first thing you noticed? I’m guessing you saw the beautiful scenery and a woman who is loving her life. If I had listened to that little voice, this photo would have never seen the light of day. Remember we always have a choice in whether to listen to those negative stories we tell ourselves, x

 

 

Sanity Savers for Surviving the Silly Season

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Less than two weeks from Christmas…

Have you completed all your Christmas shopping  and lovingly wrapped your gifts in delightful eco friendly paper and matching ribbon?
Have you RSVP’d to the Christmas drinks at the neighbours/the local sports club/Aunty Beryl’s house?
Have you bought those $10 Kris Kringle gifts that are witty, fun, and not too cheap looking?
Have you lovingly made the organic Christmas Pudding by hand (and don’t forget you have to buy a Gluten Free one for Aunty Beryl)?
Have you hand written beautiful messages on gorgeous Christmas cards for your closest friends/relatives/Facebook acquaintances and put then in an actual postbox?

Have you dreamt about hiding under your doona until December 26 with a large box of Christmas Lindor balls and a Ryan Gosling DVD marathon in the hopes that no one will ever find you?

If you answered yes to only one question on that list (and I’m pretty sure it was the last one if you are like me) then welcome to the Silly Season: a crazy construct of society that forces us to eat with, drink with, and buy presents for just about every single person we have ever met. conversed with, or walked by on the street in the past 5 years.

Now before you go and call me out as a scrooge (I say ‘bah humbug’ to that), I’ll have you know that I really do enjoy socialising: I love a drink or two or three with friends, I enjoy eating home made rum balls, and I will even happily sing along to “All I want for Christmas is You (and you, and you, and you)”. But why oh why does it always have to be all crammed into 2 weeks when the kids are still at school and exhausted, work is winding up but still busy, and there is a godforsaken concert of some sort every second night!

However, even at this late hour I truly believe there are some sanity savers that can help you cross the line on December 25 feeling (mostly) in control and ready to put your feet up, relax and enjoy the dregs of a champagne bottle and some of the kids leftover mince pies (because as any Aussie kid will tell you, ‘yuck, there is fruit not meat in these pies mum!’)

So without further ado here are my top Sanity Savers for Surviving the Silly Season (saying it with a lisp is optional!)

Take One Day at a time

It is very easy to let overwhelm sink in at this time of the year, so for me I focus on simply taking one day at a time. I plan my weeks like a mother (literally!) and have everything I need to do written in my daily planner which is my bible (amen). I don’t sweat the small stuff at this time of year (clean laundry lives in laundry baskets in December) and takeaway comes a little more often than usual. Most importantly, at the end of each day when I roll into bed, I let the day go: no going over incomplete to do lists in my mind: my positive affirmation is ‘I am doing the best that I can’ shortly followed by ‘There are gin & tonics by the pool in my near future: keep on going girlfriend.”

Just Say No

This holiday season say goodbye to FOMO and hello to JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). You do not need to go to every single event you are invited to, and nor should you feel guilty for simply saying, sorry I won’t be able to make it. Put your mother guilt out with the reindeer’s carrots this Christmas, you do not need that sack of drama in your life!

Schedule some Me Time

It will come as no surprise to hear me say get your self care on this silly season. If you are super busy then schedule looking after yourself like you would anything else: block out an hour in your diary to have a bath and read a book, or go for a 20 minute walk listening to some uplifting music before you hit the shops to get those last minute purchases. You are just as important as anyone else at this time of the year so look after number one first, the rest will follow.

Lower Your Expectations

This one is easy actually. I want you to repeat something out loud after me…ready?

“Christmas does not have to be perfect.”

Ah, doesn’t that feel better! No one expects you to be Nigella Lawson, so focus on being in the moment and the blessings you have in your life rather than all that you could have done better if only you had more time/money/patience/helper elves…

Finally, if all else fails, I leave you with these wise and immortal words…

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I wish you and yours a joy filled Christmas and a safe and relaxing start to 2016

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If you would like to start 2016 getting clear on your goals and what you want to achieve, then don’t just make a new year’s resolution, make a booking to see me! I am opening up some limited times in January for some one hour goal power sessions, so email me at melissa@melissajeffcott.com to find out more x

 

Fabulous Women on the Other Side of Forty: Champagne Cartel

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With a name like Champagne Cartel, I just know I was going to love these two ladies even before I knew what they stand for! Carolyn Tate and Gillian Moody have created a positive online space for busy working mums where they focus on what matters. The ‘you’ that existed before the kids and the mortgage and your over scheduled life. They believe in daring to put yourself first and think mummy guilt is for suckers. Fabulous women? You betcha!

HOW HAS LIFE CHANGED FOR YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE OF FORTY?

Carolyn: I’m not sure it really has. Forty has really just been a number for me, and it hasn’t really presented any mid-life crisis or anything. I know I’ve never been more confident or comfortable in my own skin than I am now, and I feel like I am more capable and powerful than ever. My thirties were pretty much spent having babies and looking after tiny children, so now that my kids are a bit more hands-off, I feel like I can focus more on things that matter to me: my business, my friends, my interests, my health.

Gillian: Forty was definitely a magical milestone for me. I had a cracking party with friends and family coming from far and wide and I really celebrated. Since turning forty I have become more self-assured and more confident, more clear in my intentions, more determined. I am highly motivated to be the best me I can be. And I am really proud of what I have achieved since I turned forty – I gave birth to my second boy in the most beautiful drug-free circumstances, it was something I had really wanted and was so happy about. Not only that but I’ve started regularly writing a blog, created a successful business with Carolyn, I’ve done my first ever 5 kilometre fun run and a bunch of other awesome stuff.

ON YOUR WEBSITE ‘CHAMPAGNE CARTEL’, YOU HAVE CREATED A LOVELY POSITIVE SPACE FOR BUSY WORKING MUMS TO TAKE SOME TIME OUT FOR THEMSELVES. CAN YOU TELL ME A BIT ABOUT HOW IT CAME ABOUT?

Carolyn: Well, thanks! I was home with my third baby, and Gillian was just about to have her second, and I just wanted to do something creative that would keep my hand in professionally (I was a freelance writer but now I run our business Champagne Cartel Media). I feel like we see so many articles online about how to be a better parent, a better wife, a better friend, a better lover…but not much about how to be good to ourselves. There is so much out there that is designed to make us feel ‘less than’. I wanted to celebrate us as women, and show others that the world won’t end if you prioritise yourself – quite the opposite, wonderful things can happen when we feel great about ourselves. The cascading effect of that is immense!

WHAT ARE YOUR GO TO STYLE TIPS FOR WOMEN ON THE OTHER SIDE OF FORTY WHO DONT KNOW WHERE TO START?

Carolyn: Buy the best quality staple pieces you can afford and then add to that as you go. Find three or four colours that really suit you and build your wardrobe around them. Watch blogs or magazines and learn how to accessorise – it can lift an outfit, and your entire wardrobe, from average to fabulous.

Gillian: As a makeup artist, my top tip is to keep your skin hydrated, this means drinking plenty of water and moisturising! Great skin is always in fashion. The second thing is to not be afraid of bronzer. It gives a fabulous brightening effect if you apply sparingly. I also think that a bit of lippie never goes astray. As we get older we lose pigment in our skin and lips so a little bit of colour is great for a pep up!

WHAT ARE SOME SIMPLE THINGS THAT YOU DO FOR SELF CARE?

Carolyn: I’m a big believer in the connection between healthy mind and healthy body. I run regularly and like setting goals. I’ll be running my first marathon in 2016 which terrifies and thrills me all at once! I also like to do small things like have a glass of champagne for no reason, sit under a tree and read a book, get my nails painted. Oh, and I love to spend time with girlfriends. There is nothing like some ladylove and belly laughs to restore your energy and make you feel fantastic.

Gillian: I couldn’t agree more about the importance of ladylove! I really try and make time for cocktails, dinner or brunch with my sister or girlfriends. A group of us have a regular 2 monthly catchup appointment in our diaries because if we don’t schedule it, it doesn’t happen. I also love to cook and prepare delicious healthy food. I am passionate about the power of fresh wholesome food and also the process of cooking. For me the ultimate in relaxation is stirring a pot, listening to my stock blipping away, cutting up some vegetables. Oh and I REALLY love my sleep. When I don’t sleep well, I find life a bit of a struggle. With small children, there are times when I can’t avoid having bad sleep, but making sure I don’t work late at night on a computer is a biggie for me.

I AM BIG BELIEVER IN FINDING THE FUN AND JOY IN EVERYDAY LIFE. WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY?

Carolyn: My three gorgeous children, of course. But also my business, a nice glass of proper French Champagne,a night out on the town with my husband, laughs with my girlfriends, runners’ high, those moments when I remember to be fully present in whatever I’m doing, great ice cream, videos of cats knocking over babies, the beach first thing in the morning, a great novel (and time to read it), a brilliant op shop find, the scent of frangipanis, yoga, feeling healthy and well rested.

Gillian: My hilarious and awesome husband and two crazed boys aged 2 1/2 and 6. Eating my snack box of raw fruit and veg every day. My morning cup of tea. The phone conversation I have with either my mum or my sister every morning. Walking into my beautiful home after a day at work. The sound of a champagne cork popping. Getting ready for a night out, choosing an outfit, shoes and lippie. Christmas carols. Anything that is gold and sparkly. Fairy lights. Reading every night before bed. Writing a really great blog post. Walking to school pickup and dropoff. Coffee in my local neighbourhood cafe where I know am going to run into someone I can talk to. Having a bunch of wonderful neighbours. Working with Carolyn on Champagne Cartel. Running my makeup workshops and consults and helping women to feel great.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

Carolyn: Back yourself, because you have unique and extraordinary gifts. Know you are enough and give the best version of yourself to the world. And don’t take any crap.

Gillian: You definitely will achieve those things you dream of. It’s all going to be ok, so just chill. Love yourself, be kind to yourself, slow down and make the most of those opportunities. Do the stuff YOU want to do.

 

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Thank you so much ladies, I love your answers and I love what you are doing to help busy mum’s feel good about themselves. You can connect with Champagne Cartel via their Website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

 

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How to move on when you get it wrong as a parent

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I recently did something that I am not proud of: I lost my temper at one of my children. Big Time. I screamed at my teenage son when he wouldn’t do what was asked of him. Not only that, I followed him upstairs continuing to yell at him as I sent him to his room. Inexplicably, I even kept it up as he complied with me and went to his bed in a flurry of tears. It is not easy for me to sit and write these words, and acknowledging my uncontrolled anger makes my stomach feel sick and tears spring to my eyes.

It doesn’t really matter what it was about. Like most 13 year olds, my son is certainly good at pushing my buttons and viewing the world as solely revolving around him. He was in the wrong, and wasn’t doing what was repeatedly asked of him, but really there are many other ways to deal with this sort of (admittedly common) behaviour.

Because I am the grown up. I am the mother. I aim to live every day in alignment with my core beliefs of connection, joy and love. I even did a Masters in Child Psychology for the love of God! I certainly know better than this. I know yelling doesn’t work. I know that all I proved to my son on that fateful afternoon was that I can yell louder than him and make him cry.

Maybe you have been here too. Maybe like me, you have walked away from an altercation with your child with your heart hammering in your chest, tears streaming down your face, and thought to yourself, ‘I am a terrible mother, this is so hard, I have no idea what the hell I am doing. Why on earth did I just do that?’

So how do you move on when you get it wrong?

First up is space. My son needed space from me, not more words, and I certainly needed space from him. We both needed time to calm down and process what had happened before we talked about it. I also needed to have a good cry in private, make a cup of tea, and quietly reflect on my own behaviour.

I acknowledged to myself that I make mistakes. I am an emotional person. I can be hot headed. I am less tolerant when I am tired. I am less tolerant when there has been lots of bickering going on in my household. I know these things about myself. I am definitely not perfect: as a mother, a wife, a friend, or as a life coach. I am only human.

But you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t beat myself up. Well, maybe I did a tiny bit, but then I quickly moved on. Does one parenting fail negate all the times I am a good mother, or dare I toot my own horn and say, a freaking awesome mum most of the time? Of course not, yet this is often what we focus on: the one bad story, instead of the myriad of good experiences we have with our children.  We are so quick to point out our own flaws and fixate on them, instead of congratulating ourselves when we get it right, and giving ourselves a pat on the back for doing a damn good job nine times out of ten.

So what did I do that afternoon after I wiped my eyes, drank my tea, and took a few deep cleansing breaths? I treated myself like I would my best friend in the same situation. I forgave myself. I thought of some strategies for how to better deal with frustrating teenage situations (of which no doubt there are many more to come!) I gave myself love. I gave my family my love. I hugged my daughters, and told them how much I love them. I explained that mum had made a mistake, but like any mistake, you learn from it and you move on. I upped the self care, and treated myself to an early night to bed with a good book.

And to my teenage son? I wrote him a heartfelt letter, and left it on his nightstand to read when he first woke up. I acknowledged what had happened, apologised for it, and emphasised that we are both always learning, and when we get it wrong, we forgive each other and come back to our core truth: that we love each other, and no matter what happens in his life, I will always have his back.

How did he respond? No words, just a lanky body that woke me up early the next morning by slipping into bed next to me and wrapping his long arms around me and burying his head in my neck. I know I am a good mum doing the best I can, and the proof was lying right next to me squeezing me tight.

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This post was hard for me to write, but I know I am not the only one to get it wrong as a parent on occasion. How do you move on after you get it wrong?

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