My life coaching journey. Finding a niche they say is the key...

I am a life coach. I love to help people. I love to help everyone and anyone and I truly believe that any block we have in our life is manifested, developed and delivered through our own feelings, emotions and thoughts. The outcome of any problem we face is determined by how we choose to manage it. How we manage that problem comes from our inner voice and the language we use to speak to ourselves, the basis for NLP. However, I believe there is one thing in most of our lives that we are all unconsciously being influenced by.

I am talking about technology and how we allow it to show up in our lives.

I feel there is a level of unconscious behaviour that is creeping in - almost beyond our control. If we don't wake up to this fact sooner rather than later,  technology will start to use us rather than us using it. In fact it's a common belief that the internet is being developed to become one huge marketing tool. Getting to know us on an intimate level so it can throw appropriate advertising our way and sell us what we think we need. It's being developed to suck us in, to shine brighter and more attractive to us everyday. We spend millions of wasted hours online - buying, gambling, gaming, watching, because it makes us feel good. In this case the internet is being extremely effective. It's too convenient. Whatever you want to watch, whatever pushes your buttons, is right there, at your fingertips. On an individual basis too if we allow it, so we are all scattered around our homes, in different rooms. Apart. 

Many of us have a definite screen addiction but when confronted are in complete denial. In fact, it goes beyond that. We are even developing new fears related to technology. Fears that we will be inundated with messages, emails etc that we won't be able to keep on top of if not checked everyday. Emails lead us onto screens and before we know it we're sucked into a social media void. 

FOMO - which most of us have heard of. Let's think about the "Fear of Missing Out" for a second here. It's a double edged sword. We are so used to knowing what all our friends are doing now, almost on a daily basis that we want to check in, NEED to check in and like posts to feel like we're being a good friend. When we check in from a place like wintery, cold, wet London and see friends in the Southern Hemisphere on holiday - lapping up the sunshine and apparently enjoying life more than we are, a lot of us start to question our life choices. We lose sight of the fact that as a rule people only post the positive aspects of their life.  We see friends meeting up, doing fun things together - the mind starts to chatter - why wasn't I invited? In this moment of self talk we forget that this is how it's always been, the big difference is that we never knew about it. It really comes down to how we manage all this in our own heads.

I've done a recent blog on screen wars with our kids so I won't go over that again. But this is also a huge problem many parents face. Interesting fact - that many of the parents who are behind the development of this technology don't let their kids have screens. In fact they go as far to send them to low tech or no tech schools. If you ask me there's a massive stench of fish floating around that rumour. (Will post a future blog on this). 

So.... I feel like my energies need to move towards helping people change their relationship with tech and help individuals and families find a way to use it to enrich their lives and bring them closer together. At the end of the day the power of any tool we use boils down to how we use them and how we allow them to show up in our lives.  We need to remain in control. Technology for the most part has creeped into our lives with no hand book or rule book. We are all left to stumble through the dark and find our own way.

There are many great things about technology but there are also many pitfalls. After all, our life experience is what we pay attention too.  If most of our life's attentions moves away from the people who are really present in our lives then what? It's almost like the biggest regret of the dying may change from - "I wish I didn't work so much and spent more time with my loved ones" to "I wish I spent less time off screen and more time in the real world with the people who really loved me." After all how can we even compare the people who are walking through this life with us to those who we never even meet?  It's fascicle. We need to adopt technology to buy us more time in the present moment rather than robbing us of life itself.  We can use it to create stronger bonds with the people who truly count in our lives.  It won't be an easy battle but it's a battle worth fighting.

So - this is going to be my focus, my niche if you like. My background lies in IT. A few moons ago now I'll admit but it's always been a healthy presence in my life. Tech is moving at such a rapid rate, it's impossible to keep up. A healthy relationship with tech starts with the what, when and how. What we want from it, when we use it and how we use it. It also starts with knowing when we need to turn it off and what we choose to pay attention too. This all needs to be consciously defined. We need to create rules and boundaries and we need to create a healthy inner voice around social media. We could start by banning the 'LIKE' button....but that's a WHOLE other blog. Stay tuned. 

An article that may be of interest:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/23/screen-time-v-play-time-what-tech-leaders-wont-let-their-own-kids-do

Can you heal yourself?

For a while now I have been telling my friends when I am starting to get sick... it's ok - I'll go to bed tonight and send in my 'little white men,' and when I wake in the morning I will feel much better.  Meaning - I will meditate into my illness (wherever it may lie in my body) and picture my white blood cells 'little white men' going into that area and destroying the illness. 9 times out of 10 it really works. I don't really understand the science behind it  - all I know is that it works for me. 

Right now by poor hubby is sick. Has been down with a stinking cold for almost a week with no sign of it getting much better, which is frustrating the hell out of him (and me a little) ;). But there are elements in his life that I truly believe are causing his illness. 

I found this article and thought I would share it. It's fascinating and shares the idea that our health is determined more by our mental and spiritual wellness than anything physical. It is a belief of mine (and many others) that stress, anxiety, fear and depression cause illness.  Please read on - it's truly fascinating.

Can you think yourself well? by Lissa Rankin MD

What if you had the ability to heal your body just by changing how you think and feel? I know it sounds radical, coming from a doctor. When people are doing everything "right"—eating veggies, avoiding red meat and processed foods, exercising, sleeping well and so forth—we should expect them to live long, prosperous lives and die of old age while peacefully slumbering, right? So why is it that so many health nuts are sicker than other people who pig out, guzzle beer and park in front of the TV?

I consider myself one of those health nuts. I drink my green juice, take my vitamins, hike and practice yoga daily, get quality sleep, see a doctor and avoid harmful toxins. And yet I have come to believe that the purely physical realm of illness—the part you can diagnose with laboratory tests—is only part of the equation. It's a big part, mind you, but not the whole shebang. My experience with patients (as well as my personal background) has led me to the conclusion that whether they become sick or stay healthy, as well as whether they remain ill or manage to heal themselves, might have more to do with everything else that's going on in their lives than with any specific health standard they abide by.

When healthy habits aren't enough
Five years ago, I started working in an integrative medicine practice. My new patients were some of the most health-conscious people I've ever had the privilege to serve. Many of them ate a vegan diet, worked out, slept soundly each night and took vitamins every morning. But some of them were also mysteriously sick, complaining of fatigue, aches, gastrointestinal disturbances and other symptoms. I was baffled! I ran batteries of tests, and occasionally I would pick up something that eventually resulted in the complete resolution of a patient's symptoms. But more often than not, I would find nothing.

I was really motivated to solve the puzzle of why these "healthy" patients were so sick. Instead of focusing exclusively on physician-recommended behaviors, medical history and other traditional factors, I dug deep into their personal lives. I asked them questions: "What do you love about yourself? What's missing from your life? What do you appreciate about your life? Are you in a romantic relationship? If so, are you happy? If not, do you wish you were? Are you fulfilled at work? Do you feel like you're in touch with your life's purpose? Do you feel sexually satisfied? Do you express yourself creatively? Do you feel financially stable, or are you stressed about money? If your fairy godmother could change one thing about your life, what would you wish for?"

My patients' answers often gave me more insight into why they might be sick than any lab test or exam could. They were unhealthy not because of bad genes or poor habits or rotten luck, but because they were lonely or miserable in their relationships, stressed about work, freaked out about their finances or profoundly depressed.

On the flip side, I had other patients who ate junk, forgot to take their supplements, rarely exercised and enjoyed seemingly perfect health. Their responses revealed that their lives were filled with love, fun, meaningful work, creative expression, spiritual connection and other traits that differentiated them from the sick health enthusiasts.

What's really making you sick?
That's when I narrowed it down to two questions I would ask patients at their appointments: "What do you think might lie at the root of your illness?" and "What does your body need in order to heal?" Occasionally, they answered with conventional health-related insights, saying, "I need an antidepressant" or "I need to lose 20 pounds." But more often than not, they said introspective things, like "I hate my job," "I need more 'me' time," "I must divorce my spouse," "I have to finish my novel," "I need to hire a nanny," "I need to make more friends," "I need to forgive myself," "I need to love myself" or "I need to stop being such a pessimist." Whoa.

While many patients weren't ready to do what their intuition told them their bodies needed, my bravest patients made radical changes. Some quit their jobs. Others left their marriages. Some moved to new cities or towns. Others pursued long-suppressed dreams. The results these patients achieved were astonishing. Sometimes, a list of illnesses would disappear, often quickly. Even smaller steps, like talking to a boss about workplace problems or seeing a marriage counselor, helped. I was in awe.

But I shouldn't have been surprised: I had healed myself in much the same way. By the time I was in my 20s, I had been diagnosed with multiple health conditions, including high blood pressure and precancerous changes on my cervix. At 33, I was burned out, thanks to my career in a busy obstetrics and gynecology practice. I wound up leaving my job, selling my house and liquidating my retirement account. My husband, baby and I moved from chaotic San Diego to a small, sleepy town in Northern California, where I spent two years digging into the root causes of my illness, diagnosing what needed to be changed and mustering up the courage to take action. As a result, my health conditions either completely resolved or drastically improved.

The get-well RX
This is not "woo-woo" metaphysics here. The scientific evidence I have uncovered in major medical journals backs this up: The lifestyle choices you make can optimize your body's relaxation response, counteract the stress response and result in physiological changes, leading to better health. The body doesn't fuel how we live our lives. Instead, it is a mirror of how we live our lives. So if you're not feeling well, despite doing all the "right" things, take a deep breath and ask yourself: What do I think might lie at the root of my illness? What does my body need in order to heal? If you're honest with yourself, the answers could save your health—and your life.

Adapted from Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin, MD (Hay House, May 2013). Dr. Rankin is a physician in Marin County, Calif.

SCREEN WARS

Our challenge

Love em or hate em. Screens are here to stay. Every generation of parents has its challenges and I'm gonna put it out there - screens cause 99% of the fights in our household, I bet they probably do in your household too. I believe they're a far greater threat to family relationships than ANY other generational invention to date.

In my day as a kid (and ok this is going back a little way now) it didn't take too long to get bored of Donkey Kong or Mario or the 2 or 3 TV channels available for our viewing pleasure. If boredom didn't end your session than completing all levels eventually did and it would be at least several months before you would be able to get your hands on a new game so you would end your time and go outside and play - or at least indoor creative play with friends or siblings. Now there is an endless supply of games available to them on a multitude of platforms - too many for my boys to even check out - let alone play. If kids aren't into gaming then there's always endless hours of youtube to watch or youtube videos to make. Girls seem to be drawn more to social media and can spend hours upon hours lost down the abyss of whichever social media portal they choose to throw themselves down. They now also have 100's of tv channels to choose from. Let's face it - we as parents know all too well how easy it is to spend all day on screens - in fact most of us do wether it's for work or pleasure - we're all just as sucked in as our kids.

Harmful to health

A mate of a mate recently filmed a documentary for the BBC on teenagers living in the UK. The good news is UK teenagers don't seem to be into alcohol and drugs anymore. Great news right? Maybe, or maybe not. What's replacing house wrecking parties fuelled by booze and drugs? Lone teens in bedrooms, boys wanking themselves senselessly to mind numbing porn and girls "socialising" for hours and well into the night on screens. Most parents have no idea how to restrict their internet for child or teen appropriate content so for all we know they could be watching absolutely anything - and nowadays that's a truly scary concept. You can watch anything from beheadings, murdering psychopaths and deep throating with a few easy clicks. Seriously makes me queasy just thinking about it.

But can we blame this purely on the invention of screens? Maybe one day we'll actually notice that the logo for apple is a bitten apple - hello people... a bite from the forbidden fruit?! (Half joking). Perhaps because we have also managed to scare ourselves and our kids into the idea that playing on the street is dangerous, that someone "might" kidnap them. I don't think that's helping our cause much. We've become a society dominated by fear and with what MIGHT happen. The school my kids goes to has as much security as a low security prison. What's that teaching them? Be afraid kids... be very afraid of people on the outside. We will keep you safe. Bollocks to that! Some security sure - but swipe cards on every door? Honestly. So - the fear of letting our kids OUT to play has never been higher, so what choice do kids have?   

Teenage suicide is at an all time high. There are kids and teenagers suffering from sleep deprivation, obesity, vision problems, aches and pains, loss of social skills and aggression due to screens. Somehow this seems so much scarier than kids fooling around with drugs and alcohol and at least they were doing that together and learning how to socialise. 

So how do we overcome our great screen battle? Firstly we need to think off our kid as junkies... screen junkies! So rules MUST be adhered to.


#PHASE 1

Rule 1 - restrict screen time. Maximum of 2 hours a day and that's including TV.

Rule 2 - If a screen is needed for homework than that screen should be used in a common area where you can monitor what it's being used for.

Rule 3 - Don't make screens available to kids outside of screen time - NO EXCUSES! They might say that they want their device for music etc. but no is NO!

Rule 4 - Don't let kids use screens to suit you. This is probably the reason for why our kids may have an addiction in the first place. (Pretty sure it's why mine do - I put my hands up.)

Rule 5 - NEVER...EVER let your kids go to bed with a screen.

Rule 6 - Lead by example. Minimise YOUR screen time as much as possible.


#PHASE 2

Once your kid has got a grip on what an acceptable time frame for screen usage is and turning it off doesn't create tantrums or tears then it is time for us to teach them how to use screens to benefit them. I don't believe everything available on line is negative. Far from it. There is a world of creativity, learning and valuable information. There are some great games that require a lot of skill and imagination. We can also connect with our kids through screens. Sometimes as a family we sit down with youtube and take turns in choosing clips to watch and it can be a great way to bridge the technology gap. 

Most importantly of all - monitor what your kids are watching and get some restrictions put on your IP address.


Social Media

When kids are using their device predominantly for social media, it can be a much harder challenge to restrict their time but it's not impossible. As their anger and pure hate for you simmers down you'll find that they'll start to spend more time with the family. Ultimately we are sociable creatures. Invite more of their friends over with the rule of no screens. Bake cookies together, build lego, draw, make Christmas cards. Get them playing an instrument, sing together and laugh together. Our first step to reconnecting is getting rid of screens but we need to replace it with human contact (seeing we don't just turf them out to play on the streets anymore).  Play games with our children again, build a cubby house - teach them the games we used to play - charades, musical statues, it's never too late. And before you use the sorry excuse that you don't have time....remember the number one regret of the dying - I WISH I SPENT MORE TIME WITH MY FAMILY  and LESS TIME WORKING! Besides that - they're kids for a millisecond  - now is our time to embrace them. If you happen to have someone else caring for your kids before you get home from work, ensure that they are spending more time connecting directly with your children and not using screens to do their job. After all your paying them a big chunk of your salary to replace you... so make sure they're doing their job properly.

Side Note #screenfreesundaychallenge

I'm up for starting a national screen free challenge on a Sunday to reconnect the old fashioned way if only for a moment. Imagine walking the streets and no one has a phone, or sitting in a cafe where people are with people and not laptops. Our kids deserve to see what a screen free world look like. Who's In? 

Here's a great post from the Huffington with some very useful tips:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/06/26/how-to-limit-childrens-screen-time_n_7663476.html

 

 

On the wrong side of the planet...

2016-08-17 16.07.28-1.jpg

....just before we left Australia my Mum was diagnosed with the big C. My Mums cancer turned out to be endometrial (not a good one to have). It also turns out to be extremely aggressive. Tumours growing from almost nothing to 5cm in a few weeks.

It was hard to leave Brisbane and now I am finding it even harder to stay in London. My heroic sister is doing all she can to steer the ship from her home next door to my parents, but everyday I feel that I should be there. There to help, there to support and there just to be.... to be close to my Mum in her possible last weeks, months or years. Death is so final, and once time has gone - you don't get it back.

I crashed yesterday when for some reason the conversations I had with my sis and my Mum brought it all home to me. I had an overwhelming feeling that I was on the wrong side of the planet. In the wrong place. I shouldn't be here, I should be there.

Meanwhile my little family is here. My young boys need me, my husband needs me. My life is here right now.

I am torn.

How do I stay ok?

I say to myself that death comes to us all. We are all going to the same place or the same space - whatever or wherever it might be. Everyone and everything dies. Death is as much life as life is death. I need to grow comfortable with the idea that my Mum won't be around for much longer. My mum lives inside my phone or my laptop but soon even that will be no more. 

The upside to cancer is that we get time to say goodbye. Time to laugh and giggle together as only the three of us can. To watch another thunderstorm roll in from my childhood verandah together and break into song and dance in the kitchen while cooking dinner. This is what I need to go home for. I feel a piece of my family is missing when I'm not there and that is a void I long to fill.

If our situation allows I will fly home at the end of January to be with my Mum. I can only hope that her health is ok and we will share some laughs, some moments, some joys and maybe some tears.

In the meantime I need to accept my circumstance and be grateful for what I do have and for the life that flows through us all. Mum is still on Earth and I am grateful for that. I still have time.

Mid Life Gap Year

Life can throw you curve balls. Husband gets made redundant in Sydney and London is calling. Toms parents live in the UK and they're not getting any younger. I have always held family close to my heart and time is a valuable commodity with ageing parents. We're also lucky to have a home in London which needs some TLC plus we left behind many dear friends when we left almost 6 years ago. Time time time - like sand through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives. :) Eternally aware of life slipping through our fingers and always up for adventure, Tom and I reach the decision to head back to London. It wasn't an easy decision to make, especially seeing we left precious family and friends behind. Constantly torn between two worlds which can be bitter sweet.  We also decide to take a trip through SE Asia with our two boys - Spike and Rudy, aged 8 and 9.

5 months to travel Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. 

I sit now in a friends home in London after our travels and feel blessed for what we went through and for what I learnt about myself and my family. The boys make out their traumatised by the whole ordeal but I know in time they will come to appreciate the memories of our trip and how close it brought us together. As for Tom and I, well it wasn't easy travelling on a budget of $100 US a day but it taught me a lot about what we need rather than what we want.  We got to experience many wonderful places and met wonderful people. There were challenging and frustrating times but at the end of the day all the good and the bad came together to create an experience none of us will ever forget.

Would I choose to travel with young children again? We almost pulled out hair out in frustration several times and there were many not so pretty moments. But for every down there was always an up. Unfortunately we took screens with us. Meaning one iPad, a small laptop and 3 iPhones. Amazingly WIFI was incredible in most of the countries we visited. If I had my time again I wouldn't take any screens for the boys. On the upside it did allow Tom and I to have some down time and it came in handy for the long, hot arduous journeys on buses and trains - but the downside was that the boys preferred to be on screens rather than do almost anything else. It was always a battle. 

Massive take out from our trip for me - dare yourself to do it and you can. Feel like your marriage isn't strong enough to survive 5 months on the road? When your forced to rely on each other the way we had to, you learn to appreciate the positives and strengths of character that perhaps you'd never even noticed before. You begin to to see attributes in your partner that you might not possess yourself and this in turn leads to respect and admiration. I know that it has served my marriage far better than any therapy or date nights ever could.

More than anything we feel blessed that we had the opportunity to travel the way we did. At the end of the day the 5 months (including all flights) cost us $20,000 Australian. What was left over from Toms redundancy. We are now in London, skint for cash but happy to have a home to be able to move into and hopeful that work will come our way soon.  Life goes on with a big fat smile on our faces… (for now). :)