How Can You Add More Fun To Your Life?

How can you add more fun to your life?

One of my desired feelings for 2017 is more pleasure. Part of pleasure is having more fun. So, my question for myself and for you this week is simply to ask you to think about how you could add more fun to your life.

What makes you happy? Laugh? Smile? How can you add more of this in to your life?

This post is part of my weekly self discovery questions series. You can find previous posts here and here.

 

Reflections And 2017 Plans

We are a few weeks in to the new year but I wanted to write about the reflection and the planning for the 2017 that I have been doing.

According to numerology 2016 was a 9 year, which means it was the end of the nine-year cycle that began in 2008. Some would say that this was why 2016 was a difficult year for many people. Clearing out what needed to fall away to make room for new things to come in to our lives.

I used the last week of 2016 to reflect on the past nine years. A lot happened for me in those nine years. 2008 brought a separation from my now husband, a new job, a move back to be near family, my daughter moving schools and suffering anxiety.

The years between then and now saw me move homes twice more, reconcile with my now husband, leave my job as a Social Worker to work from home in a family business. I married, had two more children, brought a house. I have watched my Dad suffer from a devastating terminal disease which took his life in 2011 while I was six months pregnant. I lost my Gran to cancer. I have supported other family members through breast cancer and other illnesses. I have had two miscarriages that left me devastated and been through multiple rounds of IVF. I have also grown a lot as a woman, mother and partner.

A lot happened over those nine years and it was good to reflect on everything I have gone through, the good and the hard times. It made me aware of how resilient I am and how much I have grown through my life experiences.

I am hoping that the next nine-year cycle brings a little more of the happy times and less of the sad times. But, life is a mix of experiences and each experience teaches us something. Honestly, I am grateful to be alive and to experience whatever life sends my way. These last nine years have certainly taught me to enjoy life now, not to be constantly waiting for life to begin. We never know how much more time we have left here.

My 2017 Plans

When I sat down and thought about what I wanted to feel in 2017 (like I wrote about here last week) a few things came to me:

  • I want to feel connected and present with my family and friends.
  • I want to feel that my life flows better. For this to happen I know that I need to de-clutter my house and put some routines and systems in to place.
  • I want to be me. Let myself be seen and not worry about what other people think of me.
  • I want more pleasure in my life. More experiences that make me feel pleasure like massages, sitting by the ocean, more fun, more dancing (pretty sure my sisters wedding later this year will take care of that).
  • I want to nourish my body better with healthier food, more movement and weight bearing exercise.

This year I my 5-year-old is starting school, my 3-year-old starting 3-year-old kinder, and my eldest starting a new phase in her education after finishing year 12 last year. I thought I would join them in their new adventures and have enrolled in a Life Coaching course beginning in May. I am really looking forward to using my Social Work Skills in a new way later in the year. Lots of good stuff happening in my family and my life this year. It will be busy and challenging. I am sure the feeling I want of my life flowing better will be difficult to achieve with all the changes, but I think that is how life goes… full of challenges and good moments. It ebbs and flows.

Do you have any exciting things planned for 2017? Have you thought about how you want to feel this year?

 

Write A 2017 Bucket List

 

Do you write a yearly bucket list? A list of all of the things big and small that you want to do, see, visit, and achieve in the year. In last weeks post I told you that I am going to post a weekly self discovery question for you, my readers, to ask yourself each week. I will be journalling about it to, or perhaps have done in the week prior. This week I want you to think about, and write down, a list of things that you would like to do this year.

I want you to write all of the little things you would like to do this year, all of the places you would like to visit, things you want to see, things you want to achieve, all of the big dreams you have for the year… even if they don’t feel achievable right now you never know, they may be later in the year. Think of it as your 2017 bucket list. I want you to try to get at least 50. 100 would be even better! If you cannot think of 50 you can always add to it as the year goes on. Write your list and keep it somewhere you will remember it so that you can revisit your list during the year and add or tick things off.

Last year I aimed to write 100 things that I wanted to do in 2016, I think I only wrote about 70. I probably only completed about 40 to 50 of the things on the list but just the process of writing the list was motivating for me. Without my list I suspect I would have only done half of what I did. Last year I included lots of little things like have a coffee with a new mum at kinder, have a pedicure, go to a yoga class, paint something, read a complete book (it had been years since I had read a complete fiction book). I also included a few bigger things which other then starting this blog I didn’t get to tick off… BUT it was motivating and felt good to have some big dreams.

Have fun with it, dream big!

 

How do you want to feel in 2017?

Happy New Year! A new year is a time for reflection on the past year and excitement about what will come in the next twelve months ahead. Some people set resolutions, I have never stuck to resolutions. I prefer to choose a word I want to focus on for the year. Last year was Growth and I let this lead the choices I made throughout 2016. I also use the beginning of the year to think about how I want to FEEL in the coming year. I pick four or five things I want to feel and use these as a guide for my actions this year too. In 2016 I wanted to feel nourished, peaceful, playful, passionate and present. I am yet to settle on my word of the year or my desired feelings for 2017 but I am planning to do it this week.

In 2017 I have decided to post a weekly self discovery question to help you find the ‘you’ that you may feel you have lost. I will post these questions each week on this blog and on my Facebook page. I recommend grabbing a journal or notebook and just start writing down your thoughts to these questions. Alternatively just sit quietly and think about the question if you prefer not to write.

This week I want you to think about how you want to feel this year.

The answer is very individual but if you need ideas you can check out some lists here and here.

If you want to read more I recommend Danielle LaPorte’s book The Desire Map*. The Desire Map discusses focusing on how we want to feel and how to use these desired feelings to guide our actions. The book walks you through getting clear on what your ‘core desired feelings’ are in different aspects of your life: livelihood & lifestyle, body & wellness, creativity & learning, relationships & society, and essence & spirituality.

I would love to know what you decide you want to feel this year so feel free to let me know in the comments xo

 

 

 

 

*This post contains an affiliate link. I only recommend products that I use and love. If you chose to purchase via my link I will receive a small commission to help support this blog for which I am greatly appreciative. This does not affect the price you pay in any way.

When Someone Is Missing At Christmas Time

missing at christmas

I love Christmas. I love the planning, the shopping, decorating, baking, everything (except the elf on the shelf but that is another story). But… every Christmas for the last five years I have that little bit of sadness too that I am spending another Christmas without my Dad. I am sure that many of you reading probably get it too, that twinge of sadness when someone is missing at Christmas time.

The last few year of my Dad’s life I didn’t always see him on Christmas Day but often Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas. The last Christmas celebration with him was difficult as he was not able to talk much and it was heartbreaking to watch. I felt that it was our last Christmas with him alive and that was very sad. He passed away less than five months later.

This will be my sixth Christmas without him and while the first year was the most difficult, I still feel that grief when I gather with my family to celebrate and realise that he is not here anymore.

Every celebration or time that I want to feel close to him I wear a special ring that I brought myself a few years after he passed away to remember him with. So, this Christmas I will put it on and pause to remember him and all of the Christmas’s I did spend with him. I will pause during the day and silently tell him about my day. I will shed a few tears when I think of how much he would have loved seeing his grandchildren grow up. I will be grateful the Christmas’s we spent together and all of the good things he brought in to my life.

I will also stop and remember my Grandmother who passed away two years ago, a few weeks before Christmas. I will think of her as I use her gravy boat to pour our gravy from at the Christmas table.

I know some of my beautiful readers and friends will be missing someone from their celebrations this year. Maybe your parent or someone close to you has passed away, or someone you care about can’t be there to celebrate. Maybe there is a rift in the family causing you to be apart from your person that you are missing. I know it hurts, I know that you will shed some tears, I know that it can feel a little empty without that person there.

My hope is that you can remember the good times with your loved one, do something to honor them but also enjoy your day. I am sending my love your way xoxo.

Gran’s Chocolate Biscuits

 

Tomorrow it is the two-year anniversary of my Gran’s death. When we were kids, she would always have biscuits, cashews, dried ginger, flavoured mineral water, and hot chocolate waiting for us for snacks. In her nineties, she still frequently kept these things as staple snacks for guests. My favourite was always Gran’s chocolate biscuits.They were always adorned with an almond or ginger and she would always have them in the freezer for her ‘midnight snacks’ that she was famous for. My Gran told me that her mother used to make them for her.

A few years before she passed away she gave me the recipe and until this week I had never managed to perfect them. They are almost like a chocolate shortbread, crumbly and delicious. The trick is to use ground rice not rice flour and pop something on top, the pecans are my favourite. I have tried them with Nuttalex for a dairy and egg free version and they are OK, not as crispy though. I have also tried them with gluten free flour and they work well too.

I hope you enjoy them! I will be enjoying them with a cup of tea looking through some photos of my Gran. The photo above are my biscuits on a plate that my Gran was given when she got married and passed on to me. The picture next to the plate is my favourite photo of me and my Gran.

 

Gran’s Chocolate Biscuits

4oz butter (approx. 113g or ½ cup)

4oz caster sugar (approx. 113g or ½ cup)

4oz Self Raising flour (approx. 113g or 1cup less 1tbspn)

2 tbsp. cocoa or drinking chocolate

2 tbsp. ground rice

A few nuts, small pieces of ginger or other dried dried fruit to put on top (Gran’s favourites were blanched almonds and ginger)

  1. Set oven to 160 Celsius.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar.
  3. Sift in flour and cocoa. Add ground rice. Stir or beat it together.
  4. Roll in to balls, place on to tray lined with baking paper, flatten with the back of a spoon
  5. .Press in a nut, small piece of ginger or other chosen topping.
  6. Bake around 15 minutes.

Note: This recipe was given to me in ounces so I have tried to convert it to grams and Australian measurements. An Australian cup is 250ml, Australian tablespoons are 20ml.

Attitude of Gratitude

20161201_130432I have mentioned that I keep a gratitude journal in previous blog posts on my morning routine and my weekly essentials. Practicing gratitude daily has been an attitude game changer for me. I really think it has been the number one thing to change my negative mindset to a more positive one.

For me practicing gratitude began with starting a gratitude journal and writing five things in it each day that I was grateful for. Some days this was easy, some days it was harder. These are the days that it was extra important for me to find something and write it down. On these days it was often simple things like: I am grateful that I have healthy children, I am grateful that I have a house, I am grateful that I can go to sleep now!

In a short time, I found that I could easily come up with things that I was grateful for when I wrote in my gratitude journal each night. I found that I was noticing feelings of gratitude pop in to my thoughts during the day. My mind started to focus more on the positives and less on the negatives in my life. It is a little like how getting back in to exercise after a long time of no exercise feels hard but after you get in to the habit of it feels good, becomes routine and you look forward to it. You just need to reawaken those muscles by using them and it comes back to you. The more you focus on the positives, the more positive neural pathways are made in your brain, resulting in a happier you.

Practicing gratitude does not mean life is always happy and positive. It isn’t, life will always be full of lots of up’s and down’s. At times, it can feel like more down then up. But by focusing on a few small things in our lives that we are grateful for it can shift our perspective of our lives and allow us to see that there are lots of little (or big) good moments. Lots of things we can be grateful for despite whatever else is going on in our lives.

There are a lots of different ways you can begin a gratitude practice:

  • Keep a separate notebook or journal to specifically write down your three to five things each day that you are grateful for.
  • Type your gratitude’s in to a notes app on your phone or a Word document on the computer.
  • Writing them in to your diary/planner each day.
  • Using a specific smartphone app made solely for use as a Gratitude journal. I have never used one so cannot give a recommendation however I have heard of many such as Gratitude365 which also allow you to upload a photo.
  • Write in your everyday journal if you have one.
  • Spend a few moments when you wake or before you go to sleep, thinking about all the things you are grateful for that day.
  • Make it part of your family routine, ask each person to talk about a good part of their day during dinner.

I began by listing the things I was grateful for on the notes section of my smartphone. I then purchased a separate notebook to use solely as a gratitude journal. Currently I write five things I am grateful for in to my Daily Greatness Journal * each morning. I often add a few in at night before I go to sleep when I am reflecting on my day. I also involve my family by asking them to tell me three good things about their day, particularly if one of them have had a bad day!

Do you already keep a gratitude journal? How do you prefer to do it? If not, I really urge you to give it a go. I promise it will be life changing if you do it consistently.

*This post contains an affiliate link. I only recommend products that I use and love. If you chose to purchase via my link I will receive a small commission to help support this blog for which I am greatly appreciative. This does not affect the price you pay in any way.

Is it just me that finds 3-year-old’s challenging?

3-year-olds

Is it just me that finds 3-year-old’s challenging? More challenging then 2-year-old’s? After three children I can 100% say that I find three the most challenging age. I don’t mean to be negative, I just mean to be real! I really, really struggle with this age!

Three year old’s have such a drive to be independent and learn and experience on their own, much like teenagers. I guess that is where the THREENAGER label fits in. Unfortunately they don’t have the life experience or cognitive ability to understand that running out on to the road is dangerous! I guess that is our job right? To guide them, teach them, keep them safe and love them through it?

Last week I wanted to just take a 24 hour break from parenting. I almost booked myself a night away at a hotel. I probably should have. Some days, parenting feels so hard. Chasing after the 3-year-old as he runs away from me down the road, trying to stop him from hitting and kicking me when he doesn’t want to do something, convincing him to get in the car, convincing him to get out of the car, convincing him to get up off the road that he is sitting in the middle of, trying to buy groceries while he is climbing out of the pram or trolley. The list could go on and on. Exhausting! Lucky I have done it twice before and know that this stage ends, sort of.

Last week, what saved me from booking that time hotel room was going out and being me, being Brielle not mum. We went out for drinks and dinner with a friend and it was so nice to relax and enjoy adult conversation and forget about the challenges of parenting a three year old. I still plan on booking that hotel room soon thought… before desperation hits this time!

So… is it just me that finds 3-year-old’s super challenging?

My Essentials For The Week Ahead

essentials-for-the-week

For the last two weeks I have struggled to write. I have started a few things and then given up because I cannot concentrate. My mind has not been quiet enough for me to write.

Part of the problem is that there have been a lot of things going on in my life for the last two weeks. Part is that I need quiet space to write, not ideal when you are the mother of three, two of whom are pre-schoolers.

We had our pool filled in which meant a lot of time out of the house due to the extremely loud noise, my eldest daughters final exams, my son’s 3rd birthday, a charity walk, a whole lot of tiredness and grumpiness (not just from the children) and a several appointments this week.

I know that I am a person that needs a slow life, I need quiet, I need time at home, I need time outside, I need my early morning alone time, I need to move (gym) and I need a bit of a routine to feel grounded and productive. These last few weeks very little of these needs have been met. Life has felt messy and chaotic because of this and I need to get back on track.

To keep myself accountable I am going to write my commitment to myself here. My Essentials for the week ahead are:

  • Wake early every morning
  • Go to the gym or walk on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
  • Meditate daily
  • Write in my gratitude journal daily
  • Go outside every day and feel my toes in the grass
  • Schedule two days where I am home all day
  • Play with my kids
  • Watch something that makes me laugh out loud
  • Prepare for the next day the prior evening
  • Ask for help with looking after my children for an afternoon so that I can write
  • Minimize my Facebook scrolling
  • Eat well and drink more water!

I am going to go grab my diary right now and write them in!

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone (and how it led to more coffees)

stepping out of my comfort zone

This morning I was chatting to another mum at kinder and I told her that I have always been introverted, I never used to initiate conversation with others, I used to almost wish people wouldn’t talk to me because I feared I would not know what to say. She asked me how I had changed this to get to where I am now.

I told this mum that I realised that I didn’t have many friends and that I wanted more.  And that it happened slowly, it had been a process. While I was walking home I reflected more on what had changed and how that change had come about. It is funny that sometimes it takes a question from someone else to realise how much things have changed for you.

 Accepting who I am and my introverted nature, but also pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone.

This year I have felt much more comfortable in talking to people, initiating conversations and connecting with others. I no longer (well, most of the time) shy away in to the background where I used to be most comfortable.

So, how did I get to this point?  I realised a few things: that I wasn’t gaining anything from standing back and not participating, it was holding me back from making friendships and feeling connected, and that I wanted to have more friends. I wanted to feel more connected and I wanted to feel more confident.

In 2015 I completed an online course The Abundant Mama Project. After the course was finished I joined the ongoing membership program for mothers who have completed the program. Each month we focus on a new topic. I think that this monthly work, along with a lot of reading on personal growth, has helped with becoming more confident. Some of the key things that I have worked on are:

  • being brave and stepping out of my comfort zone
  • letting myself be ‘seen’ in the world rather than staying in the background
  • challenging the thoughts and feelings of not being enough

At the beginning of this year I wrote a list of things I wanted to do in 2016. Some of the things on this list were:

  • to step out of my comfort zone in lots of areas of my life, challenging myself to initiate a conversation with a mum I felt I could have a friendship with
  • initiating conversations with other mums I did not know, setting myself the goal of having coffee with at least one kinder mum (I have had coffee with  more then one kinder mum this year)
  • make sure I stay connected or reconnect with long term friends. In all honesty, I probably haven’t spent as much time as I would have like with my longer-term friends but there are still almost two months left of the year!

Setting myself some challenges or goals around talking to people and building friendships might sound weird but it worked. Scary at first but easier the more you do it. The reward has been having more conversations with people, more friendship with people, more confidence in myself, feeling more connected to the community in general and yes… more coffee! Worth every minute of feeling uncomfortable and nervous.