The Girl You Once Were

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance : A Daybook of Comfort and Joy reminds you that once upon a time you trusted yourself. Today she urges you to find three photographs of yourself when you were about ten (make sure you are smiling in them) put two in pretty frames. Place one on your dressing table, another on your desk and the last one in your illustrated discovery journal. Look at them every day.  Try to contact the girl you once were, have fun with this exercise because age ten is probably the last time you trusted your own instincts and didn’t listen to the opinion of your mother, sister or friends because you had your own. Try to recall yourself at ten by answering the following questions in your daily dialogue pages.

  • Where did you live?
  • What did your bedroom look like?
  • Who were your friends?
  • Did you have a best pal?
  • Who was she?
  • How did you play?
  • What was your favourite colour in the crayon pack?
  • Did you play a musical instrument?
  • Who was your favourite doll?
  • Can you recall the scent of play dough?
  • What were your favourite foods?
  • What subject did you like best at school?

Energy Drains

Cheryl Richardson in her book Life Makeovers: 52 Practical and Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time says that now is the time to start eliminating some of the energy drains that have been draining you physically and emotionally. Using her six step process below, start to free yourself from the emotional strings that bind you.

  1. In your Journal answer the following questions: Is there a phone call you need to make or a conversation you need to have that you keep avoiding? Have you said yes to a commitment that you now regret? Are you involved in a project that no longer holds your interest? Is there something that you’re doing that you know should be delegated to someone else? Are you pursuing a goal that no longer makes sense? Are you holding on to something in your home or office that represents a difficult time in your life or that keeps you attached to the past? Are you dealing with a sick child or an aging parent alone?
  2. Scan your environment for 5 energy drains that have emotional strings attached. Consider the things in your home or office, relationship issues that might be draining you or work related problems that need to be handled. Now list what the 5 energy drains with emotional strings attached for you are.
  3. Schedule time to handle these 5 items. Write down when and at what time you plan on handling these items.
  4. As you schedule to handle them, make sure you get support for those things that you’d rather avoid. Write down the name of the person who you can call to support you with this project.
  5. Build in a reward. Once you’ve finished a task, do something enjoyable to reward yourself & motivate you to continue with the process. Write down what you will reward yourself with when you are finished.
  6. Break the tasks into small steps & get to work.

An Artist Is Someone Who Creates

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy says that most of you feel more secure when we play it safe.  She asks you to Start thinking of yourself as an artist and your life as a work in progress, works in progress are never perfect and changes can be made to the rough draft at anytime to enhance it. Art evolves, just like life. The beautiful authentic life you are creating for yourself and those you love is your art. Psychologists suggest that everyday you take a risk, one small or bold stroke that makes you feel great once you have done it.  Everyday you’re given chances to embrace the new, with every choice, everyday, you are creating a unique work of art. Something that only you can do, after all the reason you were born was to leave your own indelible mark on your personal world. Each time you experience the new you become receptive to inspiration. Trust your instincts and respect your creative urges. Step out in faith and take a leap in the dark. Today accept that you are creating a work of art by making big and little choices between playing it safe and taking a risk. She offers a few small suggestions below to get you started:

  • Wearing some beautiful coloured glass beads instead of your usual pearls
  • Serving focaccia at dinner tonight instead of garlic bread
  • Choosing a pair of floral socks that make your feet want to dance instead of the plain pair you automatically reach for.
  • Trading in the headband for a short, sleek sophisticated cut that really feels right.
  • Order an espresso at lunch if you’ve never tried one
  • Visit the perfume counter and try new scents
  • Stick a bottle of balsamic vinegar in the shopping cart to drizzle over melon
  • Switch the dial on the radio station and listen to country & western instead of classical as you drive home.
  • Dress in black, drink absinthe and line your eyes with kohl.

Now explore the following question in your Journals “What are the new and different things that you would like to do?

Also Annabel Langbein in her book A Free Range Life: Everything You Need For A Great Summer recommends the following New Years Resolution as one of her top twelve.

  1. Try something new everyday. Challenge yourself to sample a new food, recipe or activity at least once a week, you never know what you might discover. Take the scenic route to work, eat raw kina, take a Pilates class. If it frightens you, feel the fear & do it anyway.

I believe they can’t both be wrong, after all how boring and pointless would life be if everyday was the same and we never pushed ourselves to into having new experiences? Today I drove my husbands big truck to work for the first time, while listening to a very young hip radio station that I’d never heard before and after work I had a consult with a gorgeous young make-up artist and got myself a whole new look for work. I know none of these things were exactly life shattering but every stroke of the brush adds more colour to our lives no matter how big or small that stroke may be.


Discovering Your Authentic Self

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy says that one of the surprises that comes when you catch glimpse of your authentic self is the discovery that she is such a positive, upbeat woman. She’s always smiling, calm, reassuring and exuding  confidence. She believes if you do not act this way all the time it’s simply that you haven’t evolved to a higher plane of existence yet. But occasionally you get glimmers of what its like on this higher plane; on a good hair day, when you’ve had eight hours of sleep, when you soar through a business meeting thoroughly prepared, when you fit into last years clothes, when you throw a great party and everyone enjoys themselves thoroughly. When moments like these occur you tend to think that all’s right with the world and everything just fell into place. What you don’t realise is all’s right with yourself, you’re in the flow of life and loving it. You’re in that special alignment place where authenticity and reality merge into wholeness.

She offers the following suggestions to tap into this spiritual energy force more often and access the flow of life more frequently while you learn to live life at full throttle:

  • Meditation
  • Long walks
  • Soaking in scented bubble baths
  • Washing your hair a day before it needs it
  • Smiling at everyone you meet
  • Being more gentle with yourself
  • Watching the sun rise or set
  • Petting an animal
  • Playing with a child
  • Having some small pleasure to look forward to everyday
  • Being grateful
  • Above all being open to change and welcoming it.

Wait, time will unfold and fulfil its purpose. While you wait you must not go unconscious. You must think and grow, rejoice and dream, kneel and pray. There is holiness in the air, you are giving birth to a goddess. Start laughing, you have a new calling.


The Absolute Yes List

Cheryl Richardson in her book Life Makeovers: 52 Practical and Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time asks you “when is the last time you stopped to consider where your time is being spent and how you feel about it?” “How long do you really work in a week?” “How much time do you spend caring for others?” “How much time is spent caring for yourself?”

She says that most people work an average of 55 hours per week once you factor in time at work, commuting, preparing for work and worrying about work. Add to that an average of 50 hours a week spent sleeping, your only left with 63 hours for parenting, shopping, cooking, cleaning, exercising, fun, friends, family, volunteering and so on.

One of the ways to take control of where you spend your time is to create what she calls an Absolute Yes List. This is a list of the top 5 priorities that need your attention for the next 3 – 6 months. Unlike goals or dreams the first place to focus your time and energy when building a strong foundation for your life is on those things that need your attention now.

This week create your own Absolute Yes List. Start by choosing a quiet afternoon or evening when you’ll have at least an hour of uninterrupted time to yourself. Have your journal handy and during this time get comfortable and relax. While in a relaxed state ask yourself the following 2 questions, giving yourself ample time for each one:

What needs your attention at this time in your life?

What do you need to let go of?

Don’t censor your answers, just notice what occurs to you as you ponder each of these questions separately and write the answers down in your journal. Consider the different areas of your life – relationships, family, community, work, emotional & physical health, finances and so on, make a note of those things that you know need your attention. When you’re finished choose the top 5 answers and put them in order of priority.  Next copy the list onto 3×5 inch index cards and label them “My Absolute Yes List”. Place these index cards in various places around your home and workplace. Keeping this list nearby will remind you of what really matters and will challenge you to say no to things that are not on the list.  The process of creating an Absolute Yes List should be repeated every 3 months so that you always have an updated list of your priorities Once you know your priorities challenge yourself to say no to at least two requests of your time everyday for the next week. Learning to say no with grace and love is a key way to protect your gift of time. If saying no is differcult for you remember the following 3 tips

  1. Your self-care is always a valid excuse
  2. You don’t need to over explain or defend your actions, just tell the simple truth
  3. Doing things out of guilt & obligation is not doing things out of love.

So that next time someone asks you to do something that you’d rather not do, simply smile and tell them you’re not available.



Creative Excursions

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy defines a creative excursion as regular solo rendezvous with your authentic self designed to get to know her better. Where you will celebrate yourself, find pastimes that make your heart light and your spirit sing. Creative excursions require an investment in time not money and if you are too busy to find two hours a week you seriously need to reconsider your priorities. There are ways to do it once you realise that nurturing your imagination and developing a relationship with your authentic self is an investment you can no longer afford to put off.

She suggests starting with the following creative excursions with your authentic self as you follow the simple abundance path:

Plan a creative excursion to go browsing in a home furnishing and decorative accessories shop. Go somewhere you’ve never been before, so that your looking at everything with fresh eyes. What startles you, calls to you, excites you? Write it down in a small spiral notebook that you keep in your purse. Is it the shape of a teapot, the colours of a rug or the textures of a dried flower arrangement? You’ll know what you love the moment you see it, its that familiar WOW reaction. Trust the impulse, capture the encounter, record the clues, It will be important later on.

Next time go browsing at a new clothing boutique. The kind of place that intrigues you but you stay away from because its too expensive. The autumn fashions should be arriving about now, go see what’s new. Be open to authentic aspirations, record the colours and styles you like.

She also offers the following suggestions for future weeks creative excursions:

  • Take in an English period drama at the movies
  • Have an early breakfast before work at a new French café
  • Cruise the isles at an incredible Italian market
  • Browse in used book stores
  • Visit an art supply store & imagine all the wonderful ways in which you can start expressing yourself

Remember this is not about shopping, its about letting go the opinions of the media, magazines, family and friends and figuring out again what it is that you truly love.

Julia Cameron in her book The Artists Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering your Creative Self refers to them as Artists Dates and considers them to be a very important basic tool for opening receiving and yourself to insight, inspiration and guidance. She defines it as a weekly two hour block of time especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. The artists date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers. You do not take anyone on your artist dates but you and your inner artist AKA your creative child. Commit yourself to a weekly artist date and guard against your killjoy side trying to wriggle out of it.

She recommends for your first artists date give yourself a few bucks and take yourself to a junk store to buy silly things like gold star stickers, tiny dinosaurs, postcards, sparkly sequins, glue, kids scissors & crayons. Now you can start rewarding yourself with gold stars again , just for fun.

The also gives the following suggestions for future artists dates you might like to go on:

  • A long country walk
  • A solitary expedition to the beach for a sunrise or sunset
  • A sortie out to a strange church to hear gospel music
  • To an ethnic neighbourhood to taste foreign sights & sounds
  • Go bowling

So whether you call them creative excursions or artists dates I feel the important thing is to remember to give yourself two hours a week out in the world alone to rediscover the sense of wonderment we had as kids discovering for the first time new and exciting things that interest us.

Your Personal Treasure Map Vision Board

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy describes a personal treasure map as a collage of your ideal life that you create as a visual tool to help you focus your creative energy in the direction you wish to go.

She says that first of all you have to visualise your ideal life. Take a moment to get quiet and go within. Close your eyes. Now see how you live and who lives with you. What does your dream house look like? What part of the country is it in? Do you have children? How Many? What type of garden do you have? Is there a gazebo or swimming pool in the back yard? Do you have any pets? What kind of car is parked in the driveway? What kind of job do you have? Are you maybe publishing your own newsletter, directing a film or raising horses? Now see if you cant find pictures in magazines to match your ideal ones. Cut them out and create a collage on an eight by ten inch piece of poster board. If you cant find images to match your dreams, tap into your creativity deep within  and draw a picture. When you’re finished, find a photograph of yourself that you especially like. Make sure its a picture of you looking radiant and happy. Cut yourself out and place yourself in the centre of your treasure map collage. When making your treasure map, think fun, think delight and think seven years old. This is not an intellectual exercise in existentialism, this is a wish list to the universe. Above all remember that no one needs to be privy to your personal treasure map but you. Keep your personal treasure map in the back of your illustrated discovery journal and look at it often. When you do give thanks for the wonderful life you are leading.

Kimberly Crossman in her book Love You: Be Your Best And Live Your Dreams says that she believes that it is mostly up to you what happens to you in your life and that the easiest and most exciting way to control it is through your dreams, wishes and goals. She believes that they keep you focussed on what you really want and desire. She believes that one of  the first steps is to create a vision board. There are a lot of different ways of doing these and it should be a fun exercise, using magazines, clippings, photos, drawings and quotes, fill a board with everything you want to attract to your life. It might include a heart to symbolise love, a house, a destination, a smile, and other symbols, photos and images of what you want to attract into your life. Be creative and make a board that excites you. Put it somewhere where you can see it everyday. She suggests taking a photo and making it the screen saver of your laptop.

Whenever you feel doubtful or confused look at your vision board and read your goals, close your eyes and imagine what it will feel like when you have achieved these goals, that should get you back on track. Putting yourself in unfamiliar territory can be frightening. You will look for safety and security. Trust that what you are doing is the right thing for you and is all part of a bigger picture. Refer to your vision board for a boost.