Things I love

  • Do you consider yourself creative?

    If you’re alive, you’re a creative person ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

    There is a faded water stained picture I have in my possession that I drew in 1978 (and yes I feel old when I realise that was 41 years ago!) It is of a group of women at the hairdresser…and I love it.  I love the the smiles on their faces, the detail of the salon, including some spiffy wigs for sale…just looking at it transports me back to being a young girl and the feeling of joy and quiet satisfaction I felt when engaged in doing something I loved.

    Now, I am under no illusions about my talents for drawing, and my wonky lines and crappy colouring in in this picture confirms my lack of ability. However, I love this drawing because it was probably the last time I created a piece of art and felt it was good enough. You see in my family (for better or worse), my younger sister was known as the ‘arty’ one, and I was considered the ‘brainy’ one. This may have been purely because I wore chunky tortoiseshell rimmed glasses as a kid in the seventies (before hipsters made them cool may I add) but regardless, these labels stuck for us both. I started to value my worth around being good academically at school, and viewed creativity and art as something my sister was good at and was consequently a waste of my time.

    And guess what? These self imposed labels stuck for YEARS. I completely stopped drawing and creating (even though I used to love it) because I felt I was no good at it.

    The amazing Elizabeth Gilbert (my literary girl crush) spoke about this in her wonderful book ‘Big Magic’, and shared the following, “All children naturally love to draw, but as time goes by, the talented and the gifted are singled out for specialness, and the rest of us put down our pencils, watercolors, and crayons forever — thereby losing a vital and exciting part of our creative interior lives.”

    In other words, most of us stop drawing at a very specific point in our lives: the moment we were told (or decided for ourselves) that we weren’t good at it.

    This was certainly true for me, and I can honestly say that I never attempted to draw again until a couple of years ago, when I started tentatively looking for the creative being I knew lurked deep within me. On a whim, I decided to enter an art supplies store (all the while feeling like a complete fraud) and hastily bought a sketchbook and drawing pencils. I left feeling strangely exhilarated, and as I hesitantly put my pencil to paper for the first time in so many years, I felt time stand still and once again entered that magical state known as creative flow.

    Now, I’d love to say that I immediately created some amazing art (it was pretty crap actually!) but I didn’t care, I felt a long stifled feeling of creative life-force reappear, much like when I started writing again, or when I dance without abandon around my living room. These are feelings we must treasure throughout our lives, and not abandon to our long ago youth.

     “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner-continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you-is a fine art, in and of itself.”

    I for one want to live my life like this, how about you?

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    If you would like to explore in more depth what creativity means to you, have you considered life coaching? Click HERE to find out more about working with me on uncovering the jewels that are hidden within..

  • 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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