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Archive of ‘Life lessons’ category

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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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…

AjDS8eV

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

 

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