Thursday, December 29, 2011

Finding your mind/body balance


Allow time for meditation or contemplation: Meditation is a fairly new concept for myself. For years, I have had excruciating stomach ulcers brought on by crazy high levels of stress, so it's a wonder I hadn't looked into meditation sooner. It is amazing just how fast you notice results in your stress levels. Just a few deep breaths and you're well on your way to quieting your mind. Too easy! 

Be mindful of the expectations you place upon yourself: In this crazy modern world of 9 to 5, take-away dinners and endless housework, where are we supposed to find the time to get everything done? The fact is, we don't have to. Some things can simply wait. Why must we wash our plates the moment we have finished using it? Let's wait an hour and do a few in the same hit. Prioritise the things which simply can't be avoided and above all, never be afraid to say 'no' because sometimes our bodies can mentally shut down from the expectations as I have discovered too many times to count. 

Create time to reflect on your daily choices: We all have 24 hours in a day, yet what we do with that time is completely individual. We live our lives the same way we live our days, so your choices form the type of person you are; the type of person you will be remembered for. Do your choices reflect the person you are on the inside? 

Drink plenty of water: This is one little mantra I can't seem to get into my head. I am trying however! Health folks say we are supposed to drink between 8 and 10 glasses of water a day, which equates to roughly 2 litres. In theory, that amount really isn't that hard to manage. C'mon people, we can do this! 

Evaluate your current commitments: Sometimes you just need to take a step backwards and ask yourself if your current commitments are worthy of the time and energy you are investing in them. Trust me, there is no shame in dropping out of something because the love is gone. I was a year into the TAFE course that would land me my childhood "dream" job, when I realised it wasn't for me. But that's what life is, finding what you like and what you don't. 

Follow a nutritious diet: As you probably already know, I made the commitment to veganism almost a year ago. This doesn't make me immediately healthy though! It's all about matching up your foods to get the most bang for your buck. For instance, a can of kidney beans can be added to your pasta sauce for added nutrients and will do you a world of good. It's about swapping your foods too. Swap fattier options like fried chips for oven-baked chips instead. There's a whole world of healthy options out there waiting for you. Enjoy! 

Identify the stressors in your life and try to reduce them: As we get older, it seems we find new things to worry about. At the ripe old age of 22 I have managed to discover a ton of things to stress over that didn't even exist to 17 year old Mel. We need to tune in to what i is that keeps us up at night and consider ways to reduce or eliminate the stress. Should we be safer with our investments? Plan a vacation? Take some down time? The trick is to find this out and try to take all necessary measures to bring yourself peace. 

Learn to listen to the inner message your body is giving you: Occasionally we all go through a patch of uncertainty where we are unsure if what we are doing is on par with what we had hoped to achieve in our lifetime. It is in times like these where we must take a breather and remember to simply respect when it is time to eat, slow down, rest or play. 

Maintain an attitude of realistic optimism: We can't all do everything, but we can all do something. 

Pursue activities that are pleasurable or you are passionate about: I have a sneaky little obsession with The Sims 3. I have no shame in telling this to the world, so when I need to just chill out, that's what I do. Life is finite so don't forget to actually live. When you feel like baking or watching a whole season of 'Supernatural' in one sitting, please do so. There is nothing worse than living a life you aren't enjoying. 

Read more: Reading is proven to widen our imagination. It also widens our vocabulary. When you pick up a book you can go anywhere, at any time; past, present or future. You can be anyone in any situation. It is the ultimate form of escapism. If you've been putting off that novel, I urge you to give it a chance, I promise you won't regret it. 

Reduce external stimulation: We all have things which get us either worked up or hyped up. Most people can't drink coffee before bed because the caffeine keeps them up counting sheep all night. Strangely, caffeine puts me to bed. I blame the warm liquid. Stress is my stimulation; that and strange noises. I had a ridiculously short temper so have found that exercise and meditation help me to reduce external stimulation and to just chill. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Lessons to live by


I can't be too sure where I found this list as it was a long time ago, but have found it always helpful when I'm not sure what comes next. Over time I have changed bits to fit with my life better, but if you know its original source, please tell me so I may credit it :) I hope it helps you too.

1. Always give people more than they expect to receive. Do so cheerfully.

2. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or loaf all you want.

3. When you say "I love you", mean it.

4. When you say "I'm sorry", look the person in the eyes.

5. Be engaged for at least 6 months before marriage.

6. Never laugh at someone's dreams. People without dreams don't have much at all.

7. Love deeply and passionately. There's a good chance you're going to get hurt, but you take a bigger risk by never loving at all.

8. In disagreements, always fight fairly. Leave the name-calling out of it.

9. Don't judge people by their relatives, or the life they were born into.

10. Teach yourself to speak slowly but think quickly.

11. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

12. Call your mum.

13. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

14. Follow the three Rs: Respect for yourself, respect for others and responsibility for your actions.

15. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

16. When you realise you have made a mistake, correct it as soon as humanly possible.

17. Smile when you answer your phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

18. Marry a person you love to talk to. When you're both older and not so youthful, looks will be far less important than your conversations together.

19. Remember to schedule in some alone time with yourself every now and then.

20. Sometimes silence is the best answer.

21. Don't just listen to what someone is saying. Listen to why they are saying it.

22. Share your knowledge. It's a way to reach immortality.

23. Be gentle with the earth. We only have one.

24. Never interrupt when you are being flattered.

25. Mind your own business.

26. Never trust anyone who doesn't close their eyes while kissing.

27. Once a year, go somewhere you've never been before.

28. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

29. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

30. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

31. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

32. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for one another.

33. Live with the knowledge that your character is your destiny.

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011: The year that was.


Way back at the beginning of this year I wrote a post about all the things I wished to achieve by the end of 2011. Now that I am on work holidays and have the clarity to think back on the past few months, I don't feel as though I really achieved anything on my list. I didn't go to Melbourne. I didn't go anywhere actually. This year I have probably done less travelling than any other year to date. I didn't successfully learn french, let alone learn enough to read a book. The doors of my wardrobe are papered with french words and phrases, and while I see them every day, I couldn't tell you 1-10 unless you had a reasonable amount of time to waste on me trying to remember. The fact is, I didn't do what I set out to do.

What I did do though, I think was much more valuable. I became a vegan. This is a huge part of me now. I write another blog, Vegan Earth as well as helping out with articles for Vegan Era website. I was published in Wild Fire, which is a vegan magazine by the lovely Kohii Love. I am about to write and publish a mammoth article about raising vegan children. And while saying isn't doing, I plan on advocating for animals in the next year.

I became a volunteer. For Vegan Era and for Northern Rivers Animal Services. Had I not taken these opportunity I would not have met my beautiful Patches. He came to us a very loud and angry Bengal of 7 months. While it has been incredibly straining on me introducing him and my other baby, Allegra, I wouldn't change a thing. He is full of beans and never sits still for more than a few minutes without destroying something.

I learnt to let go. I have always been a very highly strung person. I find it incredibly hard to sit back and just enjoy the moment. I have learnt to just say no when I can't give anymore where the old me would have pushed myself to the edge. Self preservation I guess; there is no point running yourself into the ground.

My hopes for 2012 are basic. To stop swearing. To save a decent amount of money. To move out.

Did your 2011 turn out how you had hoped it would?