Sometimes you just have to laugh…

Saw these pjyama's at Kmart and couldn't resist!
Saw these pjyama’s at Kmart and couldn’t resist!

You know those moments when everything seems to be going a little (ok a lot) pear shaped,  and you find yourself doing this kinda crazy half laughing thing because you think if I don’t laugh right now I’m going to fall into a heap and never get up again?   Yeah?  I have those moments quite a lot…

And I was thinking about this the other day and realised that humour can be a really important coping mechanism.    I think the key is being able to look at yourself from an external perspective (sometimes I imagine that I’m in some sort of dodgy sitcom on TV),  and take some of the personal emotion out of what is happening.   Because most of the time, what is happening is not actually that bad and would make a pretty funny scene in a movie…

OK..so here’s an example that got me thinking about this.   It was morning time in our household and I was super excited that the husband was home to help because he is normally long gone before morning chaos hits.  I’m running around like a nut bag,  trying to get myself ready for work whilst simultaneously making kids lunches,  packing bags,  getting kids dressed and all the typical morning stuff…you know the drill.   Anyway,  at some point my husband yells “shall I get the kids breakfast?” and I say “yes”  and I think ….great…he’s getting the breakfast sorted.  So I jump in the shower , finally get myself ready in record speed,  gather up the children and just as we are about to walk out the door my son says “but I haven’t eaten anything?” .  What?  how has this happened?   I look at my husband, who looks accusingly at me.  “Err…you said you were getting them breakfast?”, I say.   “No??”  he says “I asked you, if you had already given them breakfast and you said “Yes”. Ahhh… right.

Lets face it,  it was actually a pretty funny moment.   Us standing in the doorway,  looking at each other as it dawns on us that we both thought the other person had done it and no one has given the kids anything to eat.   But did we laugh?  No…no…we did not.

I got cross.   I believe “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!” was yelled at some great decible.   I stomped into the house and started opening and slamming cupboards trying to find a suitable food item that could be consumed whilst walking to school.    I stared my husband down with my best evil glare,  hoping he might feel the burning rath of my fury and remember never to cross my path in such a failing way in the future.   I got cross with the kids for not reminding us that they hadn’t eaten…I mean, seriously…who forgets to eat?  it’s not like they don’t do it EVERY morning.  Take some responsibility people!!!   Needless to say, the kids got upset and everyone left for the day in a bad mood.

Wouldn’t it have been better,  to take a big sigh and then, maybe,  laugh about our misunderstanding?  Quickly run into the house and make a joke about the lame breakfast they were having and everyone would have gone on with their day in a much better mood??  Oh…if only….

Luckily…later in the week, I had another chance to handle things a bit better… we were on an adventure to go chop down a real Christmas tree.  It seemed like the perfect family outing, and everyone is a little bit excited.   We jump out of the car to choose our tree,  and things start going wrong.   The kids split up and decide that different trees are perfect.  I wander around aimlessly trying to find the tree with the perfect shape.  And my husband just wants to chop down the one nearest to the car and get the job done.   Finally we choose a tree (my selection of course), and my daughter cries all the way home because we didn’t choose her one, while my son yells at her to just shut up.

We get home to put the tree up and my son immediately says “can I just go play computer games?” before we have even managed to push the tree through the door.   As we battle to get the tree into the stand,  it becomes clear that the tree WE have chosen actually has an incredibly wonky trunk which means every time we stand it up, it falls over.   My husband starts cursing, and we start debating about whose fault it was that the tree was falling over (clearly his because he cut it down,  although he thought it was mine because I chose it …I guess that bit is true…and because I was “holding it funny” when we put the stand in..sooo wasn’t).   We decide to cut down the trunk some more, so next thing we know, the tree is shoved half in and half out of the house through the balcony door, so my husband can saw off the end of the end of the trunk (but he’s having a bit of trouble). He is getting REALLY cranky.  There is swearing involved.  I’m inside the house trying to hold the tree still.  Pine needles are going all over the floor (what the hell is he doing???) and I can feel my blood starting to boil….this was not turning out to be the lovely family day I had imagined.

Then I stop.  I take a look around.  I see my daughter standing there with three of our ugliest baubles patiently waiting for the tree to be upright so she can put them on, my son completely oblivious to what is going on staring at a screen in the corner,  my husband trapped in the corner of the balcony having a battle royale with a Christmas Tree, me with pine needles stuck up my nose and a rash starting to appear on my arms from holding the tree…and I think…you’ve got to laugh.  This is pretty funny.  I mean, seriously,  this could totally be a scene from a Chevy Chase movie ( those movies were a family staple in our household).   My blood pressure drops and I manage to stay calm enough to keep my husband from jumping off the balcony in frustration.    Finally the end of the trunk was cut and we somehow manage to get the tree standing with a the help of a brick on one side of the stand.   My husband went and had a strong coffee,  while my daughter and I put on the Christmas music and decorated the tree.  And when we were finished,  there were smiles all around.  Our first Real family Christmas tree.   We DID IT!

It’s easy to take life way too seriously sometimes.   And it is REALLY hard to catch yourself in the moment and stop the rage from appearing.   But, sometimes…well, really…what else can you do but laugh?

Hope you are having lots of holiday fun at your houses too and just remember ‘life is better when you are laughing”.

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Sorry I missed you last week…

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You may (or probably not) have noticed that I missed my blog last week.   Since I started this blog I’ve tried to consistently blog once per week.   Last week it all felt a little more crazy than usual.  My husband was away traveling for work for the week,  the home phone and internet stopped working (which is a pretty big deal when you were planning to work from home!) and one morning I whipped out my inner domestic goddess to make pancakes for the kids (on a school day no less), poured maple syrup all over them…only to be informed by my son that there were chunks of mould all through the syrup.   I caught myself trying to wipe the mould off with papertowel before finally conceding defeat and throwing them in the bin (and trying not to vomit).

Something had to give and sadly, it was this.  And quite frankly,  the inspiration wasn’t there either.  I didn’t want to cram this in as another thing on my never ending list of things to do.  It was the right thing to do.

But today…today is different.   Today, it is early in the morning.  I am sitting on our deck.   I’ve cleared a space on the table (between the possum trap …long story… kids toys, dog lead and potting mix which are currently adorning the outdoor table) and set up my laptop.   I’m still wearing my pyjamas and I’ve got my ugg boots on.  I have a cup of green steam steaming beside me and the sun warming my back.

I spent a while this morning thinking of the myriad of things that needed to be done this morning.   The different ways I could have maximised the time I had this morning (while my daughter is at a sleep over and my son is happily playing computer games).   I should have gone for a run (I could have dragged my son away from the computer and made him ride with me), I probably should at least be walking the dog,   the kitchen needs tidying up, infact, the whole house needs a clean up.  There is a shopping list that needs writing, so I can get the food shopping done before the shops get busy and we head over to a friends for lunch.  I also need to cook some food to take to a dinner we are having this afternoon.   I thought about watering the garden (poor garden,  those thoughts often come but are not often actioned) and, that reminds me,  we were going to go to the shops to get some more plants to replace the ones that died last week.

But in the end,  I decided to do this instead.  Because of all the things that I probably should be doing,  this felt like the thing that I wanted to be doing.  I missed it last week.  So it was time.   And right now, in this moment,  I’m so glad that I did.

What choices are you making about the things you should or could be doing with your time?

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P.S As always,  I’d love you to join my tribe of followers.  Simply press the button on the website to get updates when I post…just once a week (or…sometimes less?!)…

What are your super powers?

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Yep..being a special Mum is one of my super powers!

I’ve been reflecting this week on my strengths,  because I know that if I don’t feed my strengths on a regular basis, it is very easy to start getting flat and frustrated.

In my ten steps to work life awesomeness… step #4 is Knowing Your Strengths….and it is easier said than done.

I’m pretty good at identifying my weaknesses, most of us are.    But knowing your strengths takes a bit more reflection.   I always find it a bit of fun to do personality tests, or there is the VIA Strengths test which I also love.   These tools can help you to put into perspective which things make you feel great, put you in your ultimate flow.   But you don’t really have to do any special tests,  if you sit down and write a list of all the things that you enjoy, or think about what your favourite project/role at work has been so far,  what were the elements that you have enjoyed?  that will give you a good guiding sense of things that are your strengths.    Or, you could ask your friends and family  (I’ve done this recently and was surprised how uncomfortable it was to ask, I was so embarrassed but boy was it interesting getting perspectives from people who really know me).  There may be things that you don’t consider yourself to be “good at”  (possibly because you are super hard on yourself),  but they can still be your strengths if you enjoy doing them or wish you could do more of it.

Knowing my own strengths was a massive turning point for me.   I spent a lot of time at work focusing on trying to “fix” the things I wasn’t very good at,  like talking too much in meetings, instead of thinking about how I could do more of the things I was good at.

I know that one of my strengths is being very much a people person.  I love having fun, laughter and friends.  Yes, I love talking!   Which also means I love being part of a team at work,  I especially like leading a team (that is two of my strengths merged into one…leadership and team work…BONUS!).

Which means working remotely is actually quite hard for me.   The flexibility of my job role is awesome,  and I love that it means the focus is all on the work that I do, not the fact that I am sitting at a desk 9-5pm.   But sitting home alone drains my energy like a car battery when you leave the light on.

So, being conscious of this, and knowing that being a “people person” is one of my strengths but it isn’t naturally in my day to day role…I have to make a conscious effort each day to ensure I get my teaming fix…to plug in, and charge up!   I volunteer for projects that require me to connect with others, even if it is just on the phone.   I made my weekly teleconference with my team into a video conference on Google Hangouts, so I can see their gorgeous faces.    I joined the running club in the office, so I would be “forced” into the office once a week to take a run with some colleagues.   I organised to pop over to my parents house for an afternoon cuppa between meetings.    And all those things help to keep the fire in my belly,  despite my role perhaps not being the perfect role for a “people” person like me.

Which is why it is so important to know what your strengths are.  And to realise that just because you love to cook, or you love to nurture people…doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel on whatever job you are doing now, and run away to be a Chef or work in a nursing home.   But to be able to think about how you can bring your strengths to the table today, how you can squeeze more of them into your everyday. And you’ll be surprised how many opportunities you will find.

Do you know what your super powers are and do you practice them every day?

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Why exercise was the key that unlocked my inner awesomeness

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Ok…it wasn’t this icy…but it felt like it…

This morning I headed out at 5.30am in -4 degree temperature (yes, that is MINUS 4), to go for a jog.

I did feel a little bit crazy,  actually, a lot crazy.  My logical brain kept saying “why are you doing this?”, “go back to bed”, “you can surely find time to do this later”…  It was dark, it was eerily quiet and it was, quite literally, freezing.  At one point my glasses fogged up and I tripped over a drain pipe,  did a kind of crazy skid/skip, stumbled for a few steps, waved my arms around madly and somehow managed not to actually fall over (this is where I was glad it was dark).

I walked back into the house, to be confronted by my son at the front door…to tell me a woeful tale of his 6year old sister pushing him out of the big bed.  My daughter was crying in the bed room and my husband kissed me goodbye as he walked out of the house and away from the mounting chaos… big breath… first day back at school after school holidays…things were looking messy.

I managed to distract the children with some breakfast and get things back on track but then things took a turn for the worst when it was time to get dressed.

I’m such a horrible parent that I bought my daughter a new school dress (like the one she already has which she LOVES) in the next size up for her to wear on her first day back.  But unbeknown to me, the fall out from such a simple act would be explosive.   The dress… is too big.  The dress… is too wide.  The dress…is NOT the same as her favourite dress.  THE DRESS WILL NOT BE WORN.   Tears tantrums and yelling were to follow  (maybe a little bit of mine).  I felt my patience running thin and I quickly backed away from the situation (again..literally… you have to imagine me walking backwards out of the room, step by step…until I reversed into our bedroom shut the door…and locked it).   I took a big deep breath and took a shower.

I got back out and continued to pack bags ready for school, pretending like nothing had happened and this seemed to be working.  WINNING.  Then I noticed an alarming smell.  After further investigation I uncovered that our dog (god love him), had done a poo in his cage and managed to smear it everywhere.  AND…rubbed his bottom along the carpet (who can blame him, who wants poo on their butt…right??).

Again…I took another deep breath and decided to deal with that situation after I had dropped the kids off.

So then,  here I was,  on all fours,  scrubbing carpet of poo on a Monday morning… wondering when I would finally get to my real work.  When I had a realisation.   I just managed to get through the morning without totally losing my cool,  a rather dramatic morning if you don’t mind me saying so.   I didn’t do it perfectly,  it certainly wasn’t my best parenting morning.  But I did it and you know what,  I’m feeling pretty awesome.

And you know what I credit with this mysterious power?   My crazy icy run.

Having that time in the morning to myself before the chaos began.  To get the endorphins flying before my patience was tested and the universe thought dog poop on the carpet was a funny game to play on Claire…was the key.

We all know it.  We all read about it.  And in some ways it seems so simple it is hard to believe it really is true.  But for stress heads like me,  exercise is like taking a morning chill pill.  I didn’t roll out of bed thinking “Yah I want to go for a run”.  I’m not entirely sure I even enjoyed it while I was doing it (infact, I’m pretty sure I didn’t)…but I can absolutely tell you that consistently waking up each morning, rolling out of bed and doing some sort of exercise before I do anything else…is doing wonders for my state of mind.

Step number 2,  in my ten steps to work life awesomeness…Moving Daily…. NAILED IT (just quietly).

Are you feeling awesome today?  I’d love to hear what tips and tricks you have for waking up and shining.

claire2

Time for positive action…

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thegraphicsfairy.com

I was listening to my husband moaning about something…yet again…at the weekend and I was thinking,  when are you going to actually DO something about this, instead of just whinging about it.  And then….BAM…it hit me…

POT calling the KETTLE black

I have become one of those people.  Those people that complain that their life is busy or hectic or crazy…or just the fact that their life may not be what they wanted it to be right now…but then not change anything.  Keep doing the same thing, like a little hamster stuck in a wheel going around and around and around. I read back over my posts from the last few weeks…months…and the majority of them are me talking about falling apart, about messing up my boundaries, about things being too intense. And that is not getting me anywhere.

The point of this blog was for me to HELP people find more balance.  For me to share some positivity, some ideas for change, inspiration about how to do things differently.

So…peeps…it is time for positive action.  I am on the hunt, seeking guidance from all my favourite balanced guru’s…Michelle McQuaid, Megan Dalla-Camina, Mia Freedman, Emma Gray, Annabel Crabb, Brigid Schulte…the list goes on.

I’m going to inhale their advice like a life saving oxygen mask,  and suck up everything I can.   I’ll meld together all the greatest insights, so I can become a super woman that you will all admire and aspire to be like.  (OK…so I got a little excited there…quite frankly, I’m thinking I’ll be happy if I just stop having meltdowns in the toilet…… lets not set the expectations too high)

Step 1– I’m going to select my TOP TEN tips from the experts…and I’m going to focus on them month by month until I have them all neatly ticked off, like a “to do” list of awesomeness.

Step 2- I’m gonna update my Vision Board (yes, I do have one.  yes, most of the pieces of paper have fallen off and yes, those are my daughters drawings stuck over half of it)

Step 3 – Commit to action… hell yeah I’m gonna share it with you…each little step.  That’ll be my way of making sure my actions stick.  Commitment to the masses.

I’m excited.  Change is a coming. But that kettle is making me think about tea, so perhaps I’ll just go get a cup of tea…maybe have a little nap…then maybe we’ll start tomorrow, when I’m well rested. Anyone else in? claire2

I am successful BECAUSE I work part-time…not DESPITE it

parttimeAs the end of the year draws near, I’ve been reflecting on my work and pondering whether I should be considering increasing my working hours back to full time next year.  I’m really excited and inspired by all the work I am doing and I would love the opportunity to step up to some more leadership challenges,  to take that next step on the Executive ladder.   And I can’t do that and work part time…can I?

When I think about my full time colleagues,  it seems like perhaps they are more committed to work.  Because they are available Mon-Fri,  doesn’t that make them better candidates for leadership and clearly they can achieve more than me simply because they have more hours to get work done?

When I started to gather together my achievements recently for my annual performance review,  I was pretty proud of some of the things that I have been able to achieve this year.  Despite working part time, I have still delivered some amazing achievements and been able to move the business forward.

But wait a minute,  working part time has allowed me to more effectively juggle all the priorities I have and ensure I’m spending my time doing things that are important to me.  And this commitment, has actually made me uber productive. I know I only have a finite time, so I have become a master of wading through the work to find the big hitters, the things that really matter.   I’ve successfully managed to attend 95% of the critical meetings at work,  but I’ve also been there when my daughter got her merit certificate, I’ve been the driver on the walking School bus twice a week and I’ve carved out time to start doing more writing.

Usually, by the time my “day off” comes around, I’m starting to feel a little wound up and stressed about work,  those work deadlines feel daunting and ominous.   But then I take some time out,  focus on some of the other priorities in my life,  like spending time with the kids,  exercising and writing my blog.  These things inspire and excite me,  so then when I am back at work on Thurs,  I have re-energised, and I have a healthier perspective.  I know that work is important but it’s not everything, which ironically, makes me better at it…because it is easier to keep a calm and clear mind ( I know I know…there are many days which are nowhere near calm,  but just imagine what I would be like if that was my whole world, I would be going bananas)

When I stop and think about it.  My success at work is not DESPITE me being part time,  my success at work is BECAUSE I work part time.  By feeling more in control of where I spend my time and energy,  I’m BETTER and far more productive at work and I have managed to achieve great things.

So now I want to prove to the world (or maybe just myself!) that you can work part time, and be a successful leader in the corporate world.   To break the notion that the ideal worker is someone who works 9-5 Mon- Fri and maybe a couple of weekends and evenings every now and again.   That the ideal worker is 100% committed to work as their top priority above all else.    Maybe at some point in my future,  my priorities will shift and working more hours at my paid job will be the right thing to do.  But right now,  the balance is right,  and just because I have made that choice, doesn’t mean I don’t want to excel or go forward…so watch out work…here I come (except on Wednesdays…ha ha)

claire2

I feel like I’m walking on a tightrope…

…one step wrong and I’m going to fall.   This week has been one of those weeks,  where all aspects of my life seem to be firing on all cylinders and requiring my attention.  Part of the realities of “balance” is not a neatly packaged life with time each day to juggle all your key priorities.  Usually one piece of the puzzle is taking your attention for a while, then the dial turns and your focus moves into a different aspect for a while.

Sometimes,  like this week though,  they all explode at once.  We decide to buy a new car,  which means selling our old one.   My son has been home sick with an undiagnosed sore stomach (or was it his head,  or actually his foot, he can’t remember).   My husband has to work long hours this week and is away for the next three.  Christmas is fast approaching, I haven’t had chance to think about presents or planning.  And of course,  work has just ramped up with three key events in the next few weeks and my inbox is starting to look like an overgrown garden.

BIG DEEP BREATH

It’s like I’m walking on that tightrope.  Each minute I execute the next most urgent demand,  but I’m wobbling…I’m wobbling all over the place and I am SOOOO close to falling.   I know these days will pass, I know that I don’t need to make drastic changes,  this is just a big week and it too will pass.   But one more little thing and it’ll all go tumbling down like a stack of cards.

Why do we do this to ourselves?   There are so many commitments that I make when I think I can handle it all but only if every piece executes with minute precision…and lets face it,  how often does that happen?  But there are so many things I want to do in this world,  to contribute, to be part of.

I know I’m going to have to cut some of my priorities loose.  Maybe some of the things I really wanted to do and that meant something to me.  I need to remember that I can come back to them later, right now, I just need to get by.

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And I’m determined.   Determined this week will not get the better of me.   As the notice on my pinboard says…Keep Calm and Drink Tea… I might even have a big bubbly bath…because at the end of the day,  if I do fall over, and things don’t get done.   It’s not the end of the world.

I’ll just dust myself off, re-balance and get back on that tight rope.   I can do this.

claire2

 

P.s my daughter just walked in and said she thinks she is going to spew….(wobble wobble wobble)