New Year Reflections – Community, Gratitude, Philosophy, No Guilt, Fun, Listening to your Body and Reading to Learn

As 2019 has drawn to a close and 2020 has begun I felt inspired to jot some reflections in our parked car whilst the boys took a nap!

The Power of Community– I can’t start my reflections by not acknowledging the terrible fires that have been raging throughout Australia this summer. Seeing and hearing stories break your heart but also remind you of the power of community when hearing wonderful tales of individuals supporting each other, for example one lady coming back early from her holidays to open her dog shelter for all the affected dogs in a local area.

Our annual pilgrimage to Jindabyne was cancelled with fires in the area and our thoughts go to all the residents and animals affected. The Energylink group of coaches and athletes got together on the day it was decided to cancel the triathlon camp and it was nice to feel part of a community and have conversations on how to help support the crisis. For ways to support some tips can be found here collated by SMH:

Celeste Barber has also instigated a Facebook fundraiser and is getting close to her awesome $25 million target. Every little helps.

Gratitude – In 2019 I discovered the five minute journal which has been a wonderful way to start and finish the day. Each page starts with an insightful quote and then you scribe:

  • Three things you’re grateful for
  • Three things that would make today great
  • Two daily affirmations
  • Three amazing things that happened today
  • How could I have made today better

There’s lots of science now supporting the benefits of regular gratitude practice and I find revisiting moments of gratitude throughout the day really help when things can seem overwhelming and look forward to continuing the ritual in 2020.

Power of Philosophy – I was referred to the Daily Stoic in 2019, 365 meditations on wisdom, perseverance and the art of living by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman and have found the daily wisdom snippets very thought provoking. It opened me up further to philosophical principles as a useful way to frame life including three of the most essential parts of Stoic philosophy shared a couple of days ago:

⁃ Control your perceptions

⁃ Direct your actions properly

⁃ Willingly accept what is outside your control

Guilt as a wasted emotion – As a mum of two young boys it’s easy to fall into the guilt trap, feeling guilty for working/training, giving in to that extra treat demand, having that third glass of wine! As I wrote about previously (5 years ago now!) in ‘Choosing Not to Feel Guilty’ I try to consciously flip out of guilt, as see it as a pointless emotion. This was discussed in this recent Oprah SuperSoul episode. We can either accept the situation / action or look to redeem / change it. Feeling guilty and not being present to what we’re doing doesn’t really do anyone any favours. Easier said than done but something to keep striving for in 2020!

The power of having fun and seeking joy One of my intentions for 2019 was to laugh more – as Gabrielle Bernstein talks about we achieve more when we have fun too! I find being around young children is a great way to add more fun into life and for the last two weeks on our summer holiday my four year old and I made a pact to do something fun everyday which has given us a purpose for the holidays. This has included trips to the zoo, theme park, inside play centre and pool plays at Aunty Julie’s. A simple goal a day which has created lasting memories.

Listen to your body – Last year, I tried to listen to my body more and rest when I felt I needed it and have found regular meditation helps cultivate this. After training for a half ironman last November I felt that I needed recovery and enjoyed some yoga sessions, meditations and naps over more intense training for a good few weeks! Think listening to our body can easily be applied to food too. Whilst at the Billabong Health Retreat for a couple of days of R&R recently, our lovely chef Tash asked us to close our eyes and listen to what food we were craving and then to research that food. For me sweet potato came up which I researched is a root vegetable being a great source of fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants good for gut and potentially immune health. Fortuitously, lunch that day contained sweet potato 🙂

Reading as one of the cheapest forms of personal development – In 2019 a friend and I decided to adopt a book a week challenge to encourage us to read more. I really enjoyed reading and learning more and would get an endorphin kick whenever a new book arrived from amazon prime in the post, although my husband would say “not another book!” – with our bookshelf and my bedside table overflowing. Note to self in 2020 to join the library! I’m currently switching between three books which are keeping my mind buzzing:

⁃ Winging it – by Emma Isaacs

⁃ The Alchemist by Paula Coelho

⁃ The Opposite of Me – Sarah Pekkanen – our book club book of the month

Now looking forward to 2020, I’m excited for some of our UK friends to visit in April for a week on Bondi Beach (#aus2020) coffees whilst the boys have karate and nippers, learning more about the world of talent and Executive Search and husband and wife team Triathlon goals with the Taupo world age group champs at the end of the year.

Also to learning, failing and succeeding in this life journey we have been granted!

Sending love and prayers to all those affected by the bush fires and a reminder to be grateful and seize the day, in the words of my dad and one of his favourite sayings, Carpe Diem!

I wish you a year of health, happiness, presence and all the best with your goals

Conquering 70.3 miles

Last Sunday I returned to longcourse triathlon racing and completed Western Sydney 70.3 (for those not connected to the triathlon world, this involves a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and a 21km run). 70.3 miles in total – which I hadn’t initially made the connection to the event name 😂😂.

It had been over 5 years since I raced over this distance before my two little boys were born. The build up involved a three month training program, designed by my husband coach which was a highly time efficient schedule to allow for his training too and all the kids activities. There was a copy etched onto the fridge and if we missed a slot there was no catching up!

I had a few build up events to keep me motivated before the big day, the Sydney half marathon, gears and beers ride (highly recommend!) and Nepean triathlon which all went well.

Race Day

Fast forward to race day and family Matthews decided last minute to stay over in Western Sydney the night before so it wasn’t such an early start on race day. Pretty much all of the good accomodation was taken and we managed to find a motel 16km away. There was no family room available so we all had to share a king size bed! Owain ended up down the other end after being kicked lots! In a funny way, it was actually quite a special moment all being together before the race and it’s interesting what kids remember, after the race Ethan wanted to go back to the holiday home as he’d had a great time 😂😂

On the race day I was grateful that everything came together as planned and I really enjoyed the experience. I finished 14th in my age group in a time of 5 hours and 10 minutes (approx a 43 min swim, 2 hour 38min bike and a 1hour 46min run plus transitions) which was 10 minutes faster than my projected time.

In brief summary, the swim was a rolling start and with this being my most challenging leg I was happy to start in the third group back and not be caught in the white wash. Wetsuits were allowed which helped things with a freshwater swim and I quite enjoyed the straight course, especially swimming under the bridge and seeing the Olympic Rings (the International Regatta Centre venue hosted the Olympic rowing back in 2000). Then onto the bike which I was looking forward to and just get my head down and play catch up. I felt strong and held my power at slightly above what was planned and even managed a few mindful moments to take in the countryside.

Then off the bike and onto the 21km run and my legs felt incredibly stiff for those first few hundred metres! I then settled into a rhythm and it was great to see some of my club mates racing and the awesome support crew, a highlight being giving Ethan a high five. I found the last few kms a punish and had to dig deep, you could see the finish line and it just seemed to keep stretching out! I enjoyed the finish shoot however and it was great to see the boys although Ethan was most interested in my medal (which he then dropped somewhere! I had to practice non-attachment!) and the ice pops I got for them in recovery. It was then great to cheer in a few friends and sit down on the grass!!

The Roll Down

Before having the boys I had set a goal to try and qualify for the 70.3 age group world champs event within the next few years. With having the boys this was pushed to the back of my mind but with the intention out there to Universe I was hopeful one day this would be achieved. For this race there were 8 qualification spots available for my age group.

I was in two minds about whether to go to the roll down awards ceremony. One because it wasn’t for another four hours after I finished and the boys were tired from supporting and two because with 8 spots available in my age group I didn’t think it would roll down to 14th. Then two things happened, my lovely friends Margie and Tom said they would give me a lift home if Owain wanted to take the boys home and when I took Ethan to pick up my bike in transition I explained the situation to him and asked him what he thought. He said go and try mummy and that he wanted to go to New Zealand 😂

Decision made, I stayed for the roll down and met some lovely people there. The first four ladies in my age group took their spots and I thought there was not much hope. Margie and I were laughing how roll downs could just prolong the disappointment! Then it got to the four women for tri spots and a few ladies had already qualified at the Sunshine Coast event previously and a couple weren’t there. Some hope building. I couldn’t believe it got to number 12 and there were still two spots left. Myself and number 16 place got them and I was in a bit of shock. My hands were shaking when filling in the paperwork (and handing over the entry fee!) and it was a special moment messaging my husband to share the good news who was very happy. Margie and Tom were there for a big hug too.

In the worlds of Ironman, anything is really possible!

Some people have asked how did I do it with young kids and a full time job. The real answer is, it definitely wasn’t easy and there were days where it all seemed too much. I recall a couple of times I really didn’t want to jump on the turbo after a big day at work (having started a new job at the same time as training began) but Owain would give me some tough love and I’d feel better after.

During one of the low points we had a girls’ book club dinner to debrief Mark Manson’s ‘The subtle art of not giving a f**k’. This was the perfect timing from the universe with some of his messages including:

• What kind of pain do I want? What you are willing to struggle for is a greater determinant of how our lives turn out

• If you are able to not give a f*** about the pain your goals require, then you become unstoppable.

After this I got my head down for the last couple of weeks and just got on with the job at hand and tried to enjoy the last part of the journey.

I try to live by not being too fixated on the destination and enjoying the journey to get there. In those last couple of weeks some highlights included finishing Workin Moms on Netflix and starting the Crown whilst on my bike turbo sessions, having a few ocean swims with the Elink girls and my last long ride / coffee with the wonderful Tim Tam who was also training for the event.

So where to from here? Well the next couple of nights there were some Prosecco and Aperol Spritz catch ups with friends and now it’s definitely time to have a rest, enjoy silly season and do some yoga and swimming in December. And how could I forget the BTC beer mile in December, being British I think this may be my calling 😂🍻 We’ll then head to Jindabyne with the Elink crew in January to kick start the New Year.

With the world champs not until late November next year I plan to focus on shorter racing for the first half of the year before building up again for long course after winter (good timing!).

We’ve also tag teamed with Owain now in New Zealand for his Pioneer mountain bike challenge (Good luck team SquareOne!) and then his own 70.3 goals.

The boys have plenty to keep us busy with too with a Sunday filled with Nippers, a city Christmas lights visit and unicorn party today. Never a dull moment 😂

Well done to everyone out racing in Busselton today and wishing you all a great festive period and all the best for any goals you are pursuing. Anything is possible!

The Universe has your back

I’ve just been introduced to spiritual guru Gabrielle (Gabby) Bernstein (Thanks Myz!) and have been devouring one of her books, ‘The Universe has your back’ -Transform Fear to Faith.

It has been a great reminder to love and help spread love everyday and feel what we want to manifest and then not try and control the outcome but let the universe deliver in its own way, trusting the process and having fun on the way!

In the chapter ‘The Universe Works Fast When You’re Having Fun’, Gabby describes the pain her and her husband were having when trying to find a home to buy in New York City. This may resonate with some Sydney Siders with the tight property market here! Gabby shared how stressed they were getting.

They then flipped things and started to think more creativity and remembered they had previously talked about owning a home in the country / mountains. They then broadened their search and found a wonderful mountain pad.

Gabby asked the universe for a sign that this was for them in the form of an owl and after a viewing she saw an owl sticker on the bumper of a car, a sign the universe had their back. Their offer got accepted and she was writing this book from her new home!

I thought this was a powerful reflection as we can get so caught up in a goal whether that be buying a house, planning a dream trip, plotting our next career move, having / extending a family that the fun can get taken out of it and the result shaped.

Stepping back and looking at things differently and being creative can alleviate stress and open up the universe to support possibilities we didn’t imagine. For instance, I had manifested and visualised us living in a spacious, open white house by the ocean rather than our small top floor apartment. Given Sydney rental prices I wasn’t having much luck searching. Once I surrendered, the universe kicked in and a lovely friend recommended the semi house next to them. It was white (well cream), open and more spacious than our previous apartment. It wasn’t right by the ocean but close enough and the distance away meant there was space fora big shared garden at the back which is wonderful for the boys to let out steam. If I would have been too stuck on the idea that it had to be right by the ocean we wouldn’t have grasped the opportunity and who knows how long we would have been in our old environment.

In chapter 6, “Obstacles are detours in the right direction” there is a powerful story about Gabby’s friend Sarah who was desperate to find a man to settle down with. Her criteria of a good looking, catholic, financially secure male who could provide for her didn’t seem to be working with relationships that were abruptly ended. Through coaching with Gabby she realised these were the characteristics instilled to her by her mother of what the “right” kind of man must be like. Sarah’s aha moment and reflection to Gabby was – “Gabby, I agree. For my entire life I’ve been trying to attract the man my mother always wanted me to be with. My father was absent in my life, and my mother taught me that I would be happy only with a successful Catholic man who made a lot of money and provide for me. So I’ve been obsessed with finding the man of my mother’s dreams.”

Once Sarah then released her needs and expectations and used a prayer the universe delivered – “Thank you, Universe, for helping me see beyond my limitations. Thank you for expanding my perceptions so I can attract genuine love.”

For more than a month Sarah recited this prayer daily and started being a superattractor attracting lots of male attention. One persistent guy Michael made no sense to her with no financial security and struggles in his career (also not Catholic!). A few months into dating him however she told Gabby she had never been happier in her life, ten months later they were engaged!

Letting go on what we’re holding onto can unblock and lead us to the result. Gabby says “Whether it’s a romantic partner, a career transition, a health choice, or a cross-country move, how are you controlling your experiences and misaligning the flow of the universe?

Gabby then shared her journey to finding her husband which included declaring her readiness and using creative visualisation and meditation to feel the feelings of romance that she longed for – desire, love, romance and excitement. This helped her become a superattractor. She powerfully writes “If you walk around feeling deflated, doubtful, and sad, the universe can’t supply you with high vibe positivity.

I reflect back to when I met my husband Owain, I wasn’t looking for a relationship and was carefree and happy in myself about to go travelling with some friends. Whilst radiating positive energy, the universe then delivered the wonderful man I would then later marry and have two little Aussie boys with.

What’s something you’re holding onto that you can let go of and put out to the universe?

Some may be thinking it’s easy to accept this approach for the good stuff in life but what about the obstacles? Gabby writes, “What about when you’re fired out of the blue, or when an unexpected health condition shows up? How are we co-creating these difficult circumstances in our lives? The bad times, just like the good, are a reflection of what we believe to be true about ourselves and our relationship to the Universe. Oftentimes our difficult circumstances reflect the stress, fear, and separation that we carry. It’s important to witness the difficult situations in your life through the lens of love. Choose to see them as an opportunity to surrender to your spiritual practice even more. The amount of flow and synchronicity we experience can be measured by the depth of our spiritual connection.”

On this note, I was having a conversation with a friend’s dad this morning who has just recovered from stage four colon cancer. He said many health professionals were ready to give up on him as he also has heart disease. One guy said I’m backing you as you have the will and motivation to succeed. The cancer was cut out and he has made an amazing recovery. I said wow the universe had your back and he said he it was even more than this, he truly believed he could pull through and with the love of his family he did. He has more to offer the world and isn’t done in this life form yet!

Gabby’s powerful commitment in writing this book “is to wake up as many people as possible to their connection to faith and joy. In that connection, we can be guided to our true purpose: to love and spread love. These words can no longer be cute buzz phrases that we merely post on social media. Rather, these woes must be our mission. The happiness, safety, and security we long for lies in our commitment to love.”

Gabby’s new book “Super Attractor, Methods for Manifesting a Life beyond Your Wildest Dreams” is out now which I look forward to reading along with ‘Judgement Detox’ which my great friend Myz has also recommended.

If you enjoyed this post sharing some of Gabby’s wisdom I recommend following her on Instagram (gabriellebernstein) for more regular inspiration like the below.

Too much Mastery = Burnout – Too much Pleasure = No Purpose

The title of this blog was inspired by a quote a friend shared with me during a recent catch up after realising she may have reached corporate burnout.

We ended up having quite a deep discussion and I thought some of the learning may be useful to others.

We discussed how we both had grown up pretty focused in school and mastering good grades and were now doing the same in our careers. We reflected that we spend a lot of our free time on mastery and learning, whether that be listening to podcasts, reading business books or studying.

You can see my quest for mastery from a young age via this year 10 journal entry my mum found!

Whilst this is productive and healthy up to a point, we also reflected on how you can be too focused on mastery and lose the focus on pure pleasure in life. For us that includes being in or around the ocean, reading or listening to fiction, watching some light TV, spending time laughing with friends, playing with little ones or just hanging out with our partners in the moment.

It was an interesting reflection for me. The next night, I had planned to jump on the bike turbo and study a cyber security module (fun sat night!) whilst the husband was away. Instead a friend messaged and asked if I was around. She came over and we watched Wimbledon and ate ice cream, pure pleasure, which is more what I needed.

On the flip side, too much pleasure can be not productive. This article in Psychology Today is an interesting read, “Too much pleasure, not enough happiness.”

The takeaway I distilled was to make our pleasure meaningful. I’ve found that a daily pleasure practice of gratitude and meditation helps give my life meaning.

I think too much pleasure as the title quote suggests could equal no purpose and it’s great to strike a balance being the two which will vary depending on your circumstance.

Also, I do think that there is a sweet spot where mastery can become pleasure when you’re so accomplished and enter a flow state.

With my balance recently being more tilted to mastery than pleasure, I’m looking forward to a pleasure trip at the end of next week to visit our family in Cyprus and to England for my sister’s wedding.

What would you say your current balance is of mastery versus pleasure?

After this conversation I was reading a Peter Cook Thought Leader’s blog which I always find insightful and came across the notion of extreme self care. Whilst I am a big fan of self care and help balance my mastery tendency with meditation, massage, manicures and facials / blow drys I hadn’t heard the notion of extreme self care.

Pete shared this term was coined by Thomas Leonard who came up with an extreme self care checklist. Whilst every item on the 100 point checklist may not relate to everyone, I found this a useful exercise to go through. Interestingly, one of the 10 focus areas is pleasure!

A handful of the actions that stemmed for me were to:

⁃ Book in a nutrition session before I start IM 70.3 training

⁃ Book in annual health retreat date

⁃ Have another massage before our long flight to Europe

⁃ Floss twice daily, versus once a day

⁃ Stretch more regularly

On reflection, I think you could go into mastery mode with extreme self care and get too focused, which might defeat the point, but I think it is useful to think about what time and energy we’re devoting to ourselves to then be our best for others. The classic aeroplane oxygen analogy, putting your own mask on before helping others.

I hope by sharing this at least one person may have an insight and action emerge which was always the purpose of starting to write this blog and sharing some thoughts.

Love to hear any comments / reflections.

(I picked the blog title image as felt it represented my two year old Huw in pure pleasure! I think young kids generally have a good balance of pleasure and living in the moment :-))

The ‘aha moment’- Five tips to increase your moments of insight

I have been fascinated with the ‘aha moment’ ever since learning about the coaching process whilst working in this space previously.

How great’s that feeling you get when a flash of insight emerges and you get a breakthrough in your thinking?!

I have wondered what happens in the brain when an insight occurs.

In his book ‘Your Brain at Work’ (which I highly recommend), David Rock summarises the science of the aha moment citing researchers including Beeman and Ohlsson . A few quotes below:

When insights occur, they seem to involve unconscious processing. That makes sense from experience – insights often come from nowhere and at the most unusual time, when you are putting in no conscious effort to solve a problem – such as in the shower, at the gym, or driving on the freeway. This knowledge about insights provides a possible strategy for increasing creativity: let your subconscious brain solve the problem. And when you take a walk in the middle of your workday, you now have hard science to explain this when your boss looks at your funny.”

“Ohlsson’s principle of inhibition explains why insights come in the shower or the swimming pool. It’s nothing to do with the water. When you take a break from a problem, your active ways of thinking diminish. This seems to work even at the level for a few moments. Try an experiment: next time you’re working on a crossword or other word game, when you get stuck, do something totally different for a few seconds (anything as simple as tying your shoes or stretching; the main thing is not to think about the problem). Then come back to the problem and see what happens. I predict you may notice how sometimes the prefrontal cortex, your conscious processing capacity, is itself the problem. Get it out of the way, and the solution appears.”

“This quirk of the brain also explains why other people can often see answers to your problem that you can’t. Others are not locked into your way of thinking. Knowing a problem too well can be the reason you can’t find a solution. Sometimes we need a fresh perspective. This is an unusual concept, as normally we think the best person to solve a problem is the one who knows everything about it. With so many impasses* each day at work, perhaps what’s needed are more thinking partnerships, where one person has a lot of detail and the other very little. Together they can come up with solutions faster than either can his own.”

*Impasse = a roadblock to a desired mental path. It’s a connection you want to make but can’t.

For those interested in learning more, David Rock has developed the ARIA model, which stands for Awareness, Reflection, Insight and Action which describes the stages of an insight and practical techniques for increasing their likelihood.

So how can we increase our number of aha moments? Five tips below:

  1. Take a break and change your environment / activity
  2. Create a fun environment – there’s a reason why organisations including google look to create a fun environment to heighten creativity
  3. Engage with a coach / thinking partner to help shift your thinking
  4. Meditate to help quieten your mind
  5. Journal and map out the big picture including any patterns instead of focusing on the problem details

From my own experience, I know that I have more moments of insight at work when I take an exercise or meditation break, move floors to a new space or speak to someone on something completely unrelated.

So why is this important?

I think, our ability to think is going to continue to be a career differentiater, especially in light of artificial intelligence.

I realise a common thread in the Leaders / Coaches / Entrepreneurs I most admire is the way they think. I remember Steve Vamos (now CEO of Xero) saying ‘Think about how you think.’

As David Rock says ‘Insights are the engine of the economy.’

Here’s to us all creating the space to have more insights 🙂

Have space in your togetherness

For those who know me or follow me on social media you may have seen I’ve been on a few adventures in April (without the kids!).

First there was a work rewards trip to Sanya in China and then to the UK via Singapore for my cousin’s wedding.

It has been nice to take some time out for me and have quality time with family and friends without the distraction of kids and for my husband Owain to have some quality time with our little boys Ethan and Huw.

I’ve found it interesting to see how this situation is viewed by our network. Responses range from “Good for you, enjoy the well deserved time out”, “Don’t feel guilty” to “ I feel bad for Owain”, “Will the boys remember you” and “You’re away again??”.

Not judging these comments as everyone’s entitled to their opinion but it was interesting to reflect…

Did I feel bad for Owain? Not really. He’s a highly capable world champion athlete who is more organised than me. He would have had the household like clockwork. I feel empathy however as I know single parenting can be hard and it has a lot of logistics. It was nice to relieve him when I got back, especially as he’d come down with a virus, 10 days straight with the kids will do that!

Will the boys remember me? I should hope so after seeing them almost everyday of their lives so far 😀 With messenger chats it was easy to keep in touch when overseas and Ethan was counting the sleeps until I came home. I thought it was good for them to see me with their other family and having new experiences.

Did I feel guilty for leaving our boys with Owain? Hell no- he’s their dad! He’s not babysitting, he’s their father. Of course I missed them when away but I do think it’s good for them to have some time together when the boys can be attached to mummy. For example, I loved seeing these pictures from an Easter breakfast he went to whilst I was away.

When Owain went away for a similar period last year for a wedding and a race later on in the year no one commented on anything, funny the stereotypes which are still embedded in society.

Watching the movie “On the basis of sex” recently it made me reflect on how unfair society can be to women and that we all need to call it when we see opportunities to. I think it’s great to see movements like equal pay to champion equal pay for equal roles regardless of gender.

Being a working mum who also competes in triathlon is tough, it takes commitment, patience, selflessness and resilience. It’s also incredibly rewarding and I wouldn’t change it (on a good day!). However, I definitely think mums (and dads / partners) all deserve some time out.

Chemmy Alcott the former Olympic skier has a refreshing podcast sharing her journey with motherhood and life with two little ones

Some quotes from a recent interview with Chemmy which say it well – “Of course, we do have a wonderful life together. We share a passion for skiing and know how lucky we are to have two beautiful, healthy sons, and I’m totally fulfilled by my kids. But I’m happy to admit I’ve found motherhood is 100% tougher than skiing!” says Alcott.

When you’re skiing or an athlete, it’s all about you – your aim is to make yourself stronger, faster, and reach your goals. It’s a very selfish existence. But when you’re a mother, it’s all about the responsibility of someone else who’s completely unknown to the world, so fragile, so new. It’s really challenging, scary and lovely all at the same time.

Dougie and I totally co-parent, he’s devoted and hands-on. But I was on my own with the boys – Cooper was only three weeks – when he had to go away on a job. Lockie was teething, Cooper was struggling to feed as he had tongue tie, I was exhausted and almost at breaking point, and it’s the first time in my life that I reached out and said, ‘I need help’,” recalls Alcott. “I even went on Facebook and asked, ‘Can anyone hold a baby for a couple of hours!’

“I don’t want to come across like this perfect celebrity mum, who snapped back into shape instantly and took coping with two little ones in my stride,” she adds. “Just like any other mum, as well as experiencing the amazing highs at a few points, at others I’ve relied on TV to entertain the two-year-old and reached for the biscuits to give me fast energy.

“Dealing with an energetic toddler and a new baby and a career is full-on. It can be just as fun and also as scary, exciting and demanding as any ski challenge.”

My aim for writing this post is that even if it just inspires one other mother to not give up on her own goals and take some well deserved time away it will be worth it. You deserve it and your other half will survive!

Keeping a sense of our own identity is important, especially as our children will one day not be dependent on us.

Now back to reality with refereeing two energetic boys and Huw’s terrible two tantrums. Remembering to breathe, be grateful and smell the roses. Optimism is a daily spiritual practice and happiness a choice as Shawn Achor shares in this Oprah Supersoul conversation exploring “The Life Altering Power of a Positive Mind”.

Our next adventure (this time as a family) is up to beautiful Port Macquarie next weekend to cheer Owain on in the 70.3 triathlon and friends on in the Ironman and to celebrate Ethan turning 4 (how that time has flown!).

To finish, I’ll end with a piece of marriage advice my Grandma gave to my little sister recently who is getting married in August which seems to theme well with this post:

“Have space in your togetherness”.

Having celebrated their Ruby wedding anniversary before my Grandpa passed away there must be something in this 🙂

Training our minds

As a believer and a practitioner of training our minds as well as our bodies, I was curious to take a Vedic meditation course last week with Cathy Rolfe to deepen my practice and learn a new technique.

Cathy comes from the corporate world, which appealed to me with the program described as ‘an easy 4-step management program designed for busy professionals’.

This involved four morning sessions before work to learn the technique, practice and reflect in an iterative learning process.

The mantra based practice involves practicing for two 20 minute periods a day ongoing. Part of the idea through practicing this is to be able to tap into our being more regularly than our automatic thought, action, achievement orientation.

Deepak Chropra has some insightful thoughts on the benefits of meditation in this in a Super Soul interview with Oprah Winfrey. When we tap more into our being and accept each moment we accomplish more with less effort (law of least effort) as we’re being true to ourselves and are on our spiritual path. It makes authentic decision making easier.

As an example of acceptance on my own journey, on day three of the program I was getting the boys ready for daycare before the session with Cathy and managed to misplace my phone. This was an interesting exercise of acceptance in this digitally connected world. I realised:

– I didn’t have the address for my client meeting in North Sydney later that morning

– I couldn’t order an Uber myself between meetings or call a cab

– I didn’t have access to google maps to find a city meeting location later that day

– I didn’t have on the go communication to communicate with colleagues between meetings

– I didn’t have access to my wifi hotspot to connect in a cafe without wifi during a online session

– I couldn’t access my meeting notes saved in draft on my phone not in the cloud

It was a good chance to meditate on my mantra against these thoughts and settle the busy thought patterns down.

By good old fashioned communication and problem solving I found my way through the day but it was interesting to reflect on how much of my day to day life is now managed by this device.

By my second meditation later that afternoon I was quite relaxed about now not having my phone and wasn’t in any rush to find it. In fact, I had a very clear idea arise after the meditation which helped me solve a work problem. The phone did eventually turn up at 9pm when I had a look, finding it wedged behind the ottoman.

As my friend Tricky said this could be a great Executive Education exercise to randomly take an executive’s phone for the day and allow them to problem solve!

What did I learn?

One of the stand out concepts during the program for me was the notion of adaptation energy. My interpretation of this was the more we fill our energy bucket by things like good sleep, nourishing food, healthy relationships and rest time the more energy we have to adapt to unforeseen change and circumstances. When we are tired, we can be more irritable and react to things rather than respond. Vedic Meditation helps us get into a deep rest state (deeper than sleep) to help us recover and build our adaptation energy.

Interestingly, I hadn’t really reflected before how intense physical exercise is on the body as a stressor. If we keep pounding the body but aren’t adequately recovering we’re not tapping into the healing parasympathetic nervous system.

On Saturday I had a window to run after Owain’s training. I tapped into what my body needed and it wasn’t a run so I went and got a relaxing pedicure instead.

In a yoga essentials book I’m reading currently it says the more we tap into our being, the more we know what the body and mind needs and adapt our daily habits to suit this. Rather than being so regimented that we power through regardless. Good food for thought.

So what else have I noticed so far?

Yesterday when playing in the garden with the boys I felt my senses super heightened to the beauties of nature and was tuning in more than usual to the beautiful flowers, trees and sky. I also noticed a lot of ants carrying food which the boys then enjoyed watching too.

I really enjoyed watching them play together too with a new found appreciation for their relationship.

This morning on a Liv community ride I felt very present and grateful to my surroundings and enjoyed taking in the magical views.

This afternoon I tuned into my body and realised I needed a nap and slept with Huw for three hours, it was beautiful and I didn’t feel guilty that I didn’t make it to the shops! Online shopping here we come 🙂

As it says in the trust life daily inspiration book I’m reading there’s power in dropping ‘should’ for ‘could’.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds over the next few months with work, travel, family life etc. I am committed to getting into a regular habit of twice daily practice as know based on the science this is what gets results. Like with physical training, consistency counts.

I’m sure some adaptability will be needed along the way. For instance yesterday I woke up before the boys and was all poised to go with my first 20 minutes of the day and Huwey woke up. I smiled, accepted the situation and took him onto the couch, put on Kung Fu panda and meditated next to him. Not ideal but practical.

Thanks Cathy for the great training and I look forward to the journey ahead!

Husky Classic Race Report

It’s been a week since I took on the Husky tri festival Classic distance triathlon (1km swim, 60km bike and 10km run), the longest distance completed since having our mini Matthews boys.

A few mums asked me how I managed to fit in the training and whilst reflecting on the learning from the experience I thought I’d share them more broadly in case these prove useful for others 🙂

Power of having a goal – As I wrote about earlier this year in ‘Setting up 2019 for Success’, I believe there is immense power in writing down goals and then sharing them with accountability buddies. Having this goal in my goal digger journal for 2019 helped to keep me on track with weekly milestones to get there.

Accountability – Having a structured training program written by my husband coach was instrumental in being time efficient with two little ones under 4 and a focused corporate job. I do believe consistency over time is queen when it comes to triathlon performance.

Focusing on the purpose of each session – This is something Coach Waino is passionate about, not just ticking off a session on autopilot but actually thinking about why we’re doing that session in a mindful, focused way. I think that’s helped me improve my bike power on minimal kms.

Being smart with time – Living overseas and having a husband who trains a lot we’ve had to be smart with our time slots to fit in the necessary requirements to race at a longer distance. For me this often involved getting in a session after the daycare drop off before work and using lunchtimes or evenings. This helped minimise the time I was away from the boys and meant that Owain could have the early morning slot which he likes. I have to admit there were a few 8pm turbos which aren’t ideal but I would really look forward to my Wed and weekend turbos to listen to a podcast which felt like a great indulgence – often Oprah’s SuperSoul conversations.

Lifestyle – With the unpredictability of parenthood (3am bedroom wanders, head lice outbreaks, croup episodes to name a few!) I decided I would try and control some lifestyle factors to help keep my recovery and energy high. This included dry Jan and Feb (until the race) which helped with my recovery, also early nights and adopting a vegetarian diet which has helped me wake up more refreshed. A weekly / bi weekly (painful) Chinese massage also helped too and building in a yoga / Pilates / strength set into my schedule. I also found the SIS products really beneficial in refueling me quickly after hard sessions.

Keeping perspective and at time’s conceding – With the race being a key goal, I also found it important to keep perspective. If one of the boys wasn’t well, like when Huw had croup, then mummy cuddles became a priority and I have cut sessions short when Huw especially is pining for mummy. I found having another focus made sure I didn’t take things too seriously.

Enjoying the journey – in line with the quote – “it’s about the journey and not just the destination”, I really enjoyed the training kicking off this race block in Jindabyne. There were some other memorable moments along the way including a couple of brick sets to some great tunes with the Fonginator, our local club race and a couple of Sunday rides with friends. Also the family holiday to Husky that surrounded the race was wonderful. The boys had a blast and Ethan has decided after seeing a camp site that he wants to get a tent and camping gear for his 4th birthday in May. This got us excited about family camping adventures.

Celebrating the achievement – It was lovely to enjoy a chilled corona with the family and friends after the race and I’ve had a great week enjoying less training, some drinks and more social time. I was talking with a mentor this week and we shared it’s easy to quickly move on from one goal to the next but it’s important to stop and celebrate.

So how did the race pan out?

I was pretty happy with my result of 3hours10minutes coming 8th in the 30-39 age group and 15th female overall. A little disappointed not finishing higher in my age group after being inspired by my lovely sprint podium friends the day before. One of my race day mantras however was #focusonyourself and not getting carried away with what others are doing on the course. I was on track with my target times for the bike and run but quite a bit off my prediction on the swim, not helped by choppy condition and a long course but I definitely take ownership of more work to be done.

On reflection, if I want to be competitive in my AG, I need to work harder on my swim. I’m excited to have a swim buddy at work now to help motivate me for some tag team sessions.

So what’s next?

We’re excited to be venturing to beautiful Orange in a couple of weeks for the NSW triathlon champs then I’ll take a break for a work trip to China and UK trip for my cousin’s wedding. Then I would like to target a duathlon and fun run or two in the winter to keep motivated and build to a 70.3 later this year, starting the training after my sister’s wedding. This involves talking to my husband and planning our goals and seasons in conjunction to make sure we don’t both have a big race at the same time. He’s currently gearing to Port Half in May.

On that note, a big thanks to my husband for his support in helping make this achievement happen, the awesome Giant Sydney and Liv Sydney team who set me up on my new TT for the race and the wonderful Balmoral Triathlon Club community who make this sport a real joy to be part of.

To wrap up, at the Huskisson holiday haven where we stayed there was this simple quote which has stuck with me;

Motivation + Dedication = Success

If you want something hard enough and put in the effort you can get the result.

All the best with your 2019 goals.

If you enjoyed this read you may also enjoy:

Road to the Gold Coast Triathlon World Champs as a Mum

The F’s and P’s Learnt of Becoming and Ironwoman

Becoming Mum

Becoming mum #2

Setting up 2019 for success

I hope everyone’s 2019 has started well. We’ve been enjoying family time in Jindabyne for a triathlon camp with the wonderful Energylink Coaching community.

Some quiet moments in between training and hanging out with the boys has provided me with some reflection time to look back on 2018 and set some short and long term goals moving into 2019 using my goal digger journal.

I used one of these journals last year and found it really helped keep me on track with goals and good habits. This included a daily meditation practice which made me feel calmer and more centred as the year went on. Each week you state what you’re grateful for, your habits, goals and things to do.

I bought one of these for my god daughter who thought I’d originally said ‘gold digger journal’ and after googling gold digger was wondering why I was going to coach her to become one 😀

Part of the pre planning stage includes thinking about ’10 things I want to see, do and experience in 2019′. What would yours be? Mine include, seeing and feeling snow, a mountain cycle in Cyprus, climbing the York walls and running over warden hills when back in the UK and taking in a WA sunset. I’m grateful for having ticked off one item already, climbing up to Thredbo from Jindabyne on the bike and enjoying the thrill of the descent.

Looking back to 2018, a highlight included some r&r in December with my mum at Billabong Retreat. We enjoyed a couple of night’s away without the kids, mobile reception and wifi with twice daily yoga, meditation and delicious wholesome foods.

The theme of our retreat was yoga and in a workshop, we learnt about the eight limbs of yoga* which I thought other’s might find of interest.

I hadn’t quite appreciated the deep philosophy of a yogi lifestyle before this and was very intrigued.

Here are the first two limbs of yoga we learnt which I thought were a lovely set of ideals to live by if not already. We did an exercise, reflecting on how we can introduce these practices into your life in 2019.

Yamas (Limb 1)

  • Ahimsa – Non violence – to live in a way that is gentle, loving and kind (thought / action)
  • Satya – Truthfulness – only repeat things you know to be true
  • Asteya – Non-stealing – to give more
  • Brahmarcharya – Right use of energy
  • Aparigraha – Non-possessiveness (physical and emotional)

Niyamas (Limb 2)

  • Saucha – Cleanliness – food, mind, speech, action
  • Santosha – Contentment – choice
  • Tapas – Discipline
  • Svadyaya – Self study
  • Ishvara Pranidhana – Surrender

The remaining limbs were:

  • Asana – Yoga postures (Iyengar, Hatha, Vinyasa)
  • Pranayama – Breath control, controlling the vital energy
  • Pratyahara – Withdrawal of senses (stage one of meditation)
  • Dharana – Connection with an object (stage two of meditation)
  • Dhyana – Sustained concentration (stage three of meditation)
  • Samadhi Enlightenment/ complete union

* I understand the eight limbs of yoga are just one interpretation and there is a plethora of thought, material and reading out there. Intrigued, I bought a book containing a summary of the yoga sutras to learn more. This will form one of the 52 books I’m planning to read in 2019 with my book a week buddy Myza (you can follow our reads via this google doc here if of interest). As brain coach Jim Kwik says ‘Leaders are Readers’ and what a cost effective way to develop yourself and also switch off with fiction before bed each night 🙂

To commit to a more regular personal yoga practice in 2019 I have ordered one the beautiful beach themed Yoga everywhere mats to inspire me (thanks mum and dad for the Christmas gift!)

What are your intentions for 2019? I would to hear some of your goals to support each other. Haven’t set any goals yet and struggling where to start? Have a think about some focus areas, for example: Health and Fitness – Learning and Career – Family and Friends. Try and make them SMART too – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely

The Goal Digger journal I have quotes “People with written goals are 42% more likely to achieve them than people without written goals. Telling a friend increases this rate to 78%”. It also states, goals:

  1. Gives you direction
  2. Helps you focus on the important things
  3. Helps you build self-belief
  4. Increases your odds of success
  5. Motivates you to be your best self

To finish with a wrap up thought from our wonderful Billabong Retreat instructor Sarah:

Enjoy your life, look after your body, help others

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and productive 2019 ahead.

Be the change you want to see in the world

This blog entry shares a post I recently published on LinkedIn titled “Individual steps to help safeguard our planet for humanity’s future”.

I thought this topic may be of interest to my personal blog followers on the important and timely topic of sustainability of our beautiful planet and individual steps we can take to make a collective difference.

Some of these ideas were summed up and brought to life recently in an Oprah Super Soul conversation with Kathy Freston ‘The 8 Pillars of Wellness”.

Oprah opens sharing Gandhi’s attributed quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” and her and Kathy discuss how we can all have courage of our own conviction, lean in to upgrade our ways and turn into what makes us feel dark which I do in this post ….

As many of you may have been, I was shaken when I read a summary of the latest Climate Change report on the damage to our beautiful planet that’s been done. In this BBC article ‘Final call to save the world from ‘climate catastrophe’ it outlines the most extensive warning yet on the risks of rising global temperatures and how off track we are keep that rise under 1.5 degrees.

Articles such as these are becoming more common sharing the extent of our consumption over the last 50 years in particular and its adverse effect on our planet. I found this article published recently by the Guardian particularly harrowing ‘Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds’ :

“We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF. “If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

“This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” he said. “This is actually now jeopardising the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is our life-support system.”

“We are rapidly running out of time,” said Prof Johan Rockström, a global sustainability expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “Only by addressing both ecosystems and climate do we stand a chance of safeguarding a stable planet for humanity’s future on Earth.”

I’ve had growing awareness around this issue and now am inspired to make some compassionate changes. I feel I can’t read these articles and do nothing. As a mum of two young boys I have felt a real awakening about the impact for future generations and am keen to take steps to help the big global effort of making a difference.


So where to start?

It’s easy to think our individual efforts don’t make much difference, but as my good family friend Myza says, “If we shift the mindset of “but what can I do? One person can’t make a difference” to “What can I do? Because I can make a difference” then it becomes the voice of one to a voice of a collective”

A recent David Attenborough Blue Planet 2 episode shared him saying “The actions of any one of us may seem trivial and to have no effect, but the knowledge that there are thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who are doing the same thing, that really does have an effect.”

In a recent Oprah Super Soul Conversations with Julia Roberts ‘Daring and Vulnerable Part 2’ they discuss tackling big world problems like the family border separation in the US. Julia shares she tries not to get caught up with where to start as that can be paralysing, she says “Every little tiny bit makes a difference, every conversation makes a difference”.And that with all the places she gets to go and people she gets to meet she can start a conversation and see what other people think / are doing.

Here’s a list the BBC article I referenced before shared on what we can do as individuals:

  • buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter and more locally sourced seasonal food – and throw less of it away
  • drive electric cars but walk or cycle short distances (great to see examples like this Bosch subsidiary Coup e-scooter sharing system in Berlin)
  • take trains and buses instead of planes
  • use videoconferencing instead of business travel
  • use a washing line instead of a tumble dryer
  • insulate homes
  • demand low carbon in every consumer product

To make our individual contributions, my husband and I have committed to go meat free, reduce dairy consumption and be even more mindful of walking short distances, using public transport versus the car and drying washing on the line versus using the tumble dryer.

The more voices on this crucial subject I think the better. It’s great to see a lot of high profile business men and women continuing / ramping up their quests to help save the planet.

Vegan meat investor Bill Gates recently said ““If all the cattle in the world joined together to start their own country, they would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases,” – read more here

In May this year, women leaders came together to fight against climate change led by Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change – read more here

Sir Richard Branson who was recently in Sydney has been leading a Virgin Atlantic initiate to remove ingredients deemed unsustainable such as beef, unsustainable palm oil and soy from in-flight menus on flights the UK, North America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia as part of a partnership with the non-profit organisation the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) Read more here

More locally, a lot of leaders in our International CEO Forum too are helping lead their corporations global sustainability and corporate responsibility programs and we’re looking to create a forum to share initiatives on our program next year to create a supportive environment for those with a shared vision for our future.

As an optimist, I’m inspired by the individual changes I’m seeing happen around us and am empowered to take some individual accountability. As my husband says ‘don’t bring me a problem, bring me solutions’. Let’s accept the situation we’re in and craft solutions together.

Would love to hear what others are doing and any thoughts / reflections on this big topic where individual’s actions are required to make a collective difference.

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