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Getting back to Nature

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“You should sit in nature for 20 minutes a day. Unless you are busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” old Zen saying

Ever since my children were little, we have been taking ourselves to a wonderful part of the world called Wilson’s Prom once a year. As soon as we drive over the cattle grid and into the national park, I feel my shoulders start to loosen and my mind start to wind down. I consider it a well needed chance to stop, pause and reflect on what has been, before marching headlong towards the inevitably busy remainder of the year.

Now if you know me personally, you will also know that I am not a ‘roughing it’ type of gal, so even though I have camped in the past and will probably (if I’m made to) do it again, it is not my ideal way of getting back to nature. At Wilsons Prom they have some great little cabins you can rent, so I can immerse myself in nature all day, and then retreat to a comfy bed (and a bottle of chilled Pinot Gris) at the end of the day #glampingforthewin

There are many reasons we keep coming back here year after year, and they can easily be applied to any beautiful natural setting that you spend time in. So without further ado, here are my top 4 reasons for getting back to nature with your loved ones:

  • Connectedness. It is an ironic fact that in this day and age you have to disconnect to reconnect. Devices are not an option on this holiday (well except for the odd sneaky Instagram photo by moi) and this certainly makes a big difference to my families level of interactiveness. We play cards, we hike, we go on night walks, and the bonus of this is that you actually converse with each other, in that old school IRL F2F way. #foreal
  • Mindfulness. A holiday in nature means slowing down and noticing what it is that you are doing. Whether it was sharing a drink with my husband at the end of the day while the kids played outside, or colouring in mandalas with my daughters (even my husband and teenage son joined in for half an hour: I consider that a win for the ages!) We were in the moment, living and appreciating the here and now, which is what life is all about really.
  • Pushing yourself physically. I push myself out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways on the other side of forty, but not so much in a physical sense. Spending days hiking up mountains (well, small ones anyway) and following my mad rock hopping husband and son around, not only made me hope we had good ambulance cover, but also made me challenge and surprise myself with what I could do. I know my less physical middle child felt the same way. A feeling of pride in achieving what you thought you couldn’t do: a great lesson, whether you are young or old.
  • Appreciation. Noticing the small details around you and really appreciating them, is something we don’t often do in our busy day to day lives. Yet when you spend some time in nature, you notice the most wondrous things. We listened to the screeching sounds of a flock of cockatoos as they danced around the sky, saw  tiny blue fairy wrens hopping from branch to branch, and even a few lumbering wombats wandering around impervious to our delight. Truly wonderful memories to keep forever.

 

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As I sat high atop the large rocky outcrop in this photo looking over at my husband and children in this beautiful setting, I gave thanks for the abundance and the wonder of our natural world. I was able to pause and feel true gratitude and deep love for my family. Yes, getting back to nature is so much more than it seems.*

 

 

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*Now I am not naive, some of these feelings tend to dissipate upon our return to civilisation (the three hour car trip with 3 tired cranky children will do that, not to mention the mountainous loads of washing that need to be tackled). But I wouldn’t swap my annual week getting back to nature for the glitziest of 5 star resorts (and trust me I like those too!)

 

 

9 ways to more Joy on the other side of forty

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If you follow me on Facebook or have read my Work With Me page, you would know that I am a big advocate for helping women reconnect with their purpose, passion, and joy for life.

But I don’t just want to talk the talk, I want to help you walk the walk (or even strut the strut), so I have created a 3 part blog series to show you actionable ways to rediscover the joy, the passion, and the purpose that I know is lurking deep within you, ready to break out into the world on the other side of forty (sounds good hey!).

The first part of this is to remember and discover the things that bring you joy in life, so without further ado here are 9 ways to more joy on the other side of forty*

A day without laughter is a day wasted ~ Charlie Chaplin

If you have already signed up for my tip sheet in the green box above, then you already know that consciously inviting fun into your day to day life is a guaranteed way to feel happier. Making time in our busy lives to laugh, play, and having fun is such an important part of living a joyful life.

Creativity is intelligence having fun ~ Albert Einstein

Getting in touch with your creative side doesn’t have to difficult. The trick is to think of  something you used to enjoy in the past (aka before kids), carve out some time, and simply give it a go. This could be as easy as buying a colouring book, playing an instrument, or booking in for a dance class. When you are immersed in a creative pursuit, you enter a state of flow, which in turn leads to increased joy: simple really, with the added bonus that you can say you are following the advice of Einstein!
Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy ~ Nhất Hạnh

Smile. Do it right now (please!) How do you feel after a big cheesy grin? A bit happier I’ll guess (unless your currently sitting on a train: then you may feel like a bit of a goose!) Making a conscious effort to change your mindset and just act happy, can actually make you feel happy: how good is that!

To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with ~ Mark Twain

Now I am not saying that you can’t feel joy whilst alone (my spontaneous solo lounge room dancefests are proof of that!) However, there is no doubt that feeling connected, whether to your partner, your children, family or friends can lead to increased feelings of joy.  Take time to connect (in real life) with some of your favourite peeps and grab some of that full value joy today!

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings ~ William Arthur Ward

We all know that feeling grateful for what you have is important, but it is also one of the most significant ways of increasing joy. People who regularly write in a Gratitude Journal, tend to be more positive, enthusiastic, and feel better about their life as a whole. So visit your favourite stationary store, stock up and give this a go: gratitude is the attitude!

The groundwork of all happiness is good health ~ Leigh Hunt

It is no surprise that good health is related to joy. Many studies have shown the benefits of regular exercise as a mood elevator, and a healthy whole food diet makes you feel better inside and out. Get off the computer, and out into the sunshine and just start walking. Add in plenty of quality rest time, and you have laid down the groundwork for joy like a boss.

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love ~ Lao Tzu

Being kind is one of those things that takes very little effort for the reward it brings. Studies have shown that random acts of kindness, such as paying for a strangers coffee, or helping someone in need, elevate your own mood as well. Even just a smile as you walk past someone in the street, can brighten both your days: too easy!

Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes ~ Nhat Hanh

You can increase joy by consciously paying attention to little moments of pleasure through out your day. If you’re listening to a favourite song, close your eyes and really pay attention, likewise enjoying your favourite meal (well, maybe open your eyes for that one!) Mindfulness is really a state of consciously enjoying the here and now, so put away that smart phone camera (you’ll never look at the photos anyway) and just enjoy the moment.

Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who’s there ~ Rumi

inside-out-drawingIt is not always easy to do these things, and change takes time. But trust me, if you continue to look for ways to bring more joy into your life, then more joy is sure to find you!

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*Jumping in the air and doing a backbend in a bikini with a friend is entirely optional to finding joy, you will likely be pleased to note!

What brings you joy in life? Let me know in the comments below and spread the love!

On the other side of forty…I take myself on a date

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‘The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself’

While I love (and absolutely need) time by myself to recharge and practice self care, I am also a classic extrovert in that I gain energy and inspiration from being around other people.

One of the benefits of being on the other side of forty is that I know what works for me and what doesn’t: Exercise? I may have all the best intentions in the world to walk by myself, but it is only when I have a friend to walk and chat with that I actually do it. And while it may be some peoples idea of hell, I love to shake my groove thing with a bunch of other women in a fun Zumba class.

If you are my friend (and I expect you to be reading this if you are!) then you know I am the one who enjoys organising social activities such as book club, movie nights, and drinks with the girls. Basically I like having uplifting people around me, it makes me feel happy, vibrant, and connected (and I certainly like feeling that way).

But one of the downsides of being on the other side of forty, is that sometimes I get a little too stuck in my comfort zone, and can revert to what is easy and doesn’t challenge me. Hence it was that I recently realised I NEVER go out by myself.*

Now of course I go grocery shopping (or we would starve) and I am happy to wander around my local shopping mall for a couple of hours, (or I would have no clothes) BUT I do not and have never taken myself out for lunch, or gone and seen a movie I wanted to but no one else was interested in. Why is this? I think in the past I assumed I would feel judged as a ‘Scott Nomates’ if I engaged in solitary activities, which of course sounds as daft as it is, even as I type those words.

So when the opportunity arose for me to have a solitary weekend in Sydney recently, I took up the challenge to take myself on a date for the day and this is what I discovered (apart from the fact that I am not cheap, lol!)

  • Sitting having breakfast by myself in a cafe in The Rocks after a big night out dancing with some lovely life coaches nearly half my age, meant I could engage in two of my favourite pastimes: 1. making up scenarios in my head for all the people wandering around the markets in front of me; and 2. eating my bodyweight in bacon & eggs to get over my sore head and feet following the reality that I am nearly double the age of the lovely life coaches I was out with last night!
  • Sightseeing by yourself (particularly without kids) is enjoyable and E.A.S.Y. No playgrounds, no whining, no ice cream bribes: I spontaneously decided to wander over to the Sydney Opera House to marvel at its glorious architecture, and contemplated buying myself a ticket to the opera (although the eye watering price made me spontaneously leave). But I liked the fact that if I had wanted to, I could have, there was no one to answer to but me!
  • After a good mosey around the shops, including the magnificent QV Building, it was getting late, and an early dinner was on my horizon. This was my big test, yet I’m happy to say I passed with flying colours (although it certainly helps to have a phone to play with!) Even better, I ordered exactly what I felt like and never normally eat (spaghetti carbonara) and ate it with gusto and without guilt.
  • For the final leg of my date, I retreated back to my room for some quality alone time (a face mask, a chocolate bar, a cup of tea, and a good book). Now if that’s not the ideal way to finish off a perfect date, then you have clearly been married for a lot less years than me!

But in all seriousness, I came away from my weekend away by myself feeling happy, content, confident, and filled with gratitude for the opportunity to have that precious time to spend getting to know myself a little better. Next on my list is a trip to the movies: I’d invite you, but I think I have a date with a choc top instead!

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modernfam*No, I am not talking about getting all dressed up and sitting in a seedy bar waiting for Clive Bixby to come and hit on me…(although I do think that would be hilarious, I love that episode of Modern Family so much!)

 

 

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It’s time to spring into Spring!

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Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’ ~ Robin Williams

Now before anyone feels the need to point it out, I know that we are still somewhat in the grip of Winter in Australia (more so for those of us stuck down at the bottom of this great vast land). BUT…I need something to look forward to, it has been a long cold season (and yes I know I had a holiday to Greece not that long ago, but that was in May, which is technically Autumn, therefore doesn’t count in my longing for Winter to end!)

So yes, I am getting in early, I can’t wait any longer: my body is itching to feel some warmth on my pale dry skin. I must start making some plans to embrace the change of seasons and say good bye once and for all to the dreaded Winter slump.

So, here are five ways that I intend on springing into Spring over the next few weeks:

Time to Declutter like a boss

Spring is a time to breathe in the new and sweep out the old. I am making plans to clear away  piles of papers, magazines, and books that have accumulated over the indoor months. Old toys that the kids have grown out of are getting tossed or given away with no sentiment attached. Bags of clothes that have been sitting patiently waiting to go the to the Op shop are finally on their way.

This is such a satisfying thing to do that it even makes me feel inclined to…

Clean that house baby

Yes, once the clutter is cleared, there is incentive to scrub and clean and make things shiny and new (this urge to clean doesn’t happen often in my world, so I have to make the most of it when it does!) I am cleaning out the fridge, sucking dust bunnies from under the bed, and making my windows sparkle (ok, I may have outsourced that last one, but hey it still counts!) I know I feel better once these jobs are ticked off the to do list and I can forget about them for another few months and concentrate on the important things in life, like watching The Bachelor and…

 Sprucing my Winter bod

Now this may be too much information for some of you, but I tend to let myself go in Winter. My motto is if I can cover it, then I don’t need to tend to it (this may also subconsciously be why I bought a fedora this Winter: my grey hair is getting a little out of control!). I quite enjoy this phase of the year (and my husband doesn’t seem to mind either way) however, I also really enjoy amping up the self care and making the appointments to ready my skin for some sunshine once again. So visits to the hairdresser, beautician, and toenail polish lady (sorry, I’m not sure if you have a technical name) are all in order in the next couple of weeks.

Which then leaves me feeling good and ready to…

Make some fun plans

I love to entertain, and pride myself about having one of those houses that people can drop in for a drink and a casual dinner with very little notice. But not in Winter!  Like a bear in hibernation, it takes some serious cajoling to get me to leave my couch in front of the fire on a cold Winter’s night and I don’t tend to invite people over either. But my thoughts are turning to a desire for more connection with my friends and family, and I know that the approaching start of Spring has a lot to do with that.

So I am making some fun plans, which also includes…

Stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new

Life is for living, and let’s face it you never feel more alive than when you do something fun and exciting for the first time. This weekend I am leaving my family behind and heading off to Sydney for an event. I haven’t been to Sydney for 10 years, and I have one whole day by myself with absolutely nothing planned and I am really looking forward to seeing what this day brings. Maybe I will climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and attempt to break a Guinness world record (that suggestion is for my fellow Bachelor watchers!) Whatever I decide, I will get out of my comfort zone and enjoy my own company, because I am ready to spring into Spring and love my life!

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To help you feel your best and be ready to embrace the change of seasons feeling fabulous, I am offering a special deal on my 90 minute clarity coaching session for the Springtastic price of $150 (usually $175). This great offer will be available until the end of AUGUST (when all my prices will be going up), so check out my Work With Me page HERE or shoot me an email at melissa@melissajeffcott.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

How do ready yourself for the change of seasons? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!