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Archive of ‘Things I love’ category

Life Lessons from a week camping

“Time camping isn’t time spent, it’s invested.”

So I have a confession to make: up until recently I really hated the idea of camping. Give me a tropical 5 star resort, a big pool to relax and read a book by, and a comprehensive cocktail list and I would be one happy camper lady…that is, if I am by myself (which is never) or with my girlfriends on a mumcation (which is hopefully once a year!)

Of course, my family like to go on holiday with me every now and then (go figure!) and our expectations of what a good holiday entails vastly differs: I have a nature loving husband, an adventure seeking teenage son, a creative tween daughter, and a free spirited 8 year old, all with differing ideas on what constitutes a good time.

As I was recently researching holiday options, in between quietly sobbing to myself at the eye watering cost of accomodation for a family of 5 (don’t even get me started!) it occurred to me that our holiday woes could be solved…if I was prepared to put my camping phobia aside and embrace the great outdoors.

So when I suggested at the beginning of this year that we buy a friend’s second hand camper trailer and start have some camping holidays, my husband first checked to see I wasn’t delirious, and then quickly set about making it happen.

Fast forward, and I have not just survived but absolutely thrived from a week camping over the Easter holidays (well apart from the 745 loads of washing that have resulted!)

I thought I would share some of the life lessons I learned while camping, that I will attempt (no doubt with varying levels of success) to implement in my everyday life.

  • When you’re camping and it gets dark, you start thinking about going to bed. Well you have a glass of wine and dinner first (I’m not completely uncivilised!) With no TV or screens to lull me into the ‘staying up too late’ zone, I was in bed and asleep before 10.00pm every night…and so was the rest of my family. This is a big deal in my family of night owls, and I’d say we all felt better for it. So, I’ve been setting my phone to remind me to go to bed earlier, and I’m trying to get the kids to bed a bit earlier as well (thank God for the end of Daylight Savings on this count!)
  • Less screen time for everyone, means more family connection. This comes as no surprise, and yet it was kind of a surprise to me at how much better we all got along (in particular the Playstation obsessed teenage boy of the house). Now we are back in the school routine, my boundaries around screen use are definitely tightening up, myself included!
  • When you are less busy, you are more willing to have fun and play, and there is no doubt your kids will love you for it! I kicked the footy with my son, played chasey with the girls, and we all enjoyed cards and backgammon. Try and create some space in your a week for a ‘family fun time’, these are the moments that our kids cherish (and we should too).
  • When camping, you spend more time outdoors in nature. Slowing down and noticing the little things, such as standing under the moon watching the stars, feeling the grass under your toes, or simply sitting in the sun with your eyes closed and noticing how you feel: these are all little things we can do in our everyday to ground ourselves and be more in the moment.
  • Camping is a cheaper form of holidaying, and it reminded me of something we can all do with being reminded of every now and again: you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good time. In fact my kids said it was one of the best holidays we have had, because of the fun way we all spent time together. Maybe create a list of free things your family could do together and try and tick one off a week. Your heart (and your hip pocket) will be happy!

So thank you camping, you have shown me a new way to connect with my family, and for that I am eternally grateful. Until next time…

The Empowered Woman by Sonny Carroll

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This poem was read out at a Mindful Women mass meditation I recently attended. I resonated strongly with it, and felt that it evocatively describes that sense of better knowing yourself as you get older. Yes it takes courage to live like this, but the rewards are great, Melissa x

 

The Empowered Woman, she moves through the world
with a sense of confidence and grace.
Her once reckless spirit now tempered by wisdom.
Quietly, yet firmly, she speaks her truth without doubt or hesitation
and the life she leads is of her own creation.

She now understands what it means to live and let live.
How much to ask for herself and how much to give.
She has a strong, yet generous heart
and the inner beauty she emanates truly sets her apart.
Like the mythical Phoenix,
she has risen from the ashes and soared to a new plane of existence,
unfettered by the things that once that posed such resistance.

Her senses now heightened, she sees everything so clearly.
She hears the wind rustling through the trees;
beckoning her to live the dreams she holds so dearly.
She feels the softness of her hands
and muses at the strength that they possess.
Her needs and desires she has learned to express.
She has tasted the bitter and savored the sweet fruits of life,
overcome adversity and pushed past heartache and strife.

And the one thing she never understood,
she now knows to be true,
it all begins and ends with you.

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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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

 

 

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