Archive | April, 2011

How champagne and a friend like Lucy can lead to kick-ass inspiration!

27 Apr

I had a different blog post ready to go today. One I had painstakingly pored over, edited and re-edited.  Then something major happened.   I spent three hours with my friend Lucy over a lovely champagne brunch and was so inspired that I had to write about it….today.

I’m warning you now that this is a ‘write and hit publish’ piece.  There will be no well-researched ideas and possibly even a few typos or ill-chosen words.  Sometimes you just have to run with it.

A bit of background for you- Lucy and I have been friends for over 10 years.  We met in a particularly classy joint (for the Gold Coast) and I’m pretty sure Lucy was fresh off the school bus!

I remember her as a fun, friendly, naturally gorgeous and unaffected femme with a light-bulb smile and heart to match.  Someone you liked instantly.

We shared in a good six months of epic fun with a large group of mutual friends.  Following that, life took us on separate paths and adventures and for several years we had little contact, other than the usual social media exchanges.

Like many friendships, ours had been one firmly planted in ‘good times’. We actually knew very little about each other – never talked about our dreams, fears and passions or what as a coach, I now refer to as the “real “stuff. Yeah, the bravado of youth had something to do with it but that doesn’t mean those things didn’t exist.  Being vulnerable was a road we either consciously or unconsciously chose not to venture down.

This week, that changed.

Our conversation scratched beneath the surface and in three hours we learnt more about what really mattered than in the ten years prior.  We shared our goals, passions, mind-blocks and secret business ideas. Furthermore, we learnt that not only could we support each other – we had mad skillz that could be used for mutual benefit!

I came away feeling motivated, energized, and inspired.

A real life example of how a few words of encouragement and talking over heart-felt desires can reaffirm and stir that belly-fire.

Freakin’ love that feeling, right?

 

Get real

Made me think though.

How many times do we ask friends how their lives or jobs are going, just because that’s what we do?  Much like a perfunctory kiss – we do it out of habit, devoid of any real intention.

How’s work going?  Still at the same place yeah?  What are you up to this weekend?

Often, it’s one of the first things we learn about one another…a piece of information we quickly process and hand out later, to indicate we know the person by what they ‘do’

He works for a bank.

She takes care of the kids at home……

They’re both travelling round South America, taking pictures of native bird species…or something.

Who really cares right?

Me? Not so much.

I do, however, want to know what you like to do for fun, what instrument you regretfully stopped playing when you were ten and the top five places you want to travel to before you die.

I’m even more intrigued to hear about the exciting possibilities that keep you awake at night….the stuff you have been pondering for the past three years but haven’t had the guts to share with anyone – just in case you don’t end up doing it.

Why do we keep all that brilliant stuff inside anyway?

Are we scared we are going to be judged or laughed at?  Or, are we scared to step out and shine?

Do yourself a favour now.  Stop asking friends, family and even acquaintances about their job and start finding out what their real story is.

Start sharing your real story while you are at it.

We all have a talent, purpose or message to share with the world.  We all want an opportunity to shine.

So get busy sharing that special stuff with those that matter.  You never know where it may lead to.

                                                                        

Surround yourself with positive, passionate people

Much like my champagne soiree with Lucy; sometimes all it takes is the right opportunity and inclination to ‘get deep.’

I’ve written before about how people are wired to desire connection.

The world is run off relationshipsFriends, family and even acquaintances provide a veritable buffet of wisdom, skills and encouragement.  Readily available and often untapped.

You get to choose your network so stick with the peeps that will lift your game, expect the best and deliver the most.

In short:

– Surround yourself with positive, passionate people.  They will help change your reality.

– Be genuine and vulnerable. See the possibility in others and share that belief in one another.

– Success is not mutually exclusive. By helping others with their dreams, we breathe possibility into our own.

– Your success equals my success.

Is it pure chance that I got exactly what I needed at this point and time, delivered right to my door step?

I don’t believe so.

Perhaps it was just our time to really connect.  Maybe the champagne enabled the conversation to flow that bit easier.

All I know for sure is that I am extremely grateful for friends like Lucy…and bubbles.

~ Kirri

Don’t forget to share  your own stories of encouragement and inspiration in the comments and please share the love by hitting the facebook or twitter buttons!

And the winner is….Me!

21 Apr

I woke up this morning to find out I have been honoured with the Versatile Blogger Award by fellow blogger – LifeAsMummyMax from daddy, mummy and kiddie max.   Just so you know – I had never heard of her prior to this auspicious occasion and no money has exchanged hands….But of course I think she totally rocks!

Have to say, that along with my early morning caffeine, I’m feeling super hyped and happy right now.  Funny how an unexpected dose of acknowledgement from a complete stranger can do that.

The rules are that I have to share seven somewhat unknown and presumably interesting facts about myself and also pay it forward by nominating 15 other newly discovered bloggers for the same award.

So, seven random facts about me….mmmm….tricky:

  • You know how you read about those weird little kids with imaginary friends who actually believe they are real, talk to them and have a place set next to them at the table?  Yup, that was me.  Her name was Jane and she was my side-kick for approximately two years of my life.  She was cute, funny and way more kick-ass than me.  Jane helped me through some of my more awkward moments from the ages of 5-7.  I still think of her fondly sometimes.
  • I am always puzzled by people who arrange their drinking glasses ‘rim down’ in the cupboard.  Ok…more than puzzled. I do not like. Think about it – you may clean your glasses every day after use but then you put them rim down in a cupboard that most likely has not been cleaned in 6 months??  Just stop it and let me breathe again.
  • I’ve visited many countries and enjoyed living in New Zealand, Canada, England and South Korea but I’ve always been fiercely in love with Australia.  The burnt landscape, endless beaches, crazy unaffected people and resounding buzz of cicadas are deeply entrenched in my heart.  I just love my country.
  • I’ve always liked my feet.  They’re small, strong, nicely shaped and for the amount of dancing and high-heels they have endured; they remain suprisingly soft and un-calloused.
  • Okay, speaking of attractive body parts…While all my friends were checking out boys with sparkling eyes and bulging biceps, my eyes gravitated to an area much lower…no not that low – to the HANDS…(tsk tsk)!  If you were to see my hubbys’ hands…you would understand exactly why I married him.  Nuff said.
  • I never wanted to get married or have kids – especially the kids part.  My first baby girl was an “accident” and I now view her birth as a serendipitous event.   She gave me a reason to keep living when my dad died, the opportunity to discover that I could be a great parent and the desire to have more babies.  Lucky me!
  • Finally…..I’m a firm follower of ‘less is more’ and ‘quality over quantity’. I will always prefer one cup of freshly brewed coffee than 3 instant; one row of handmade quality chocolate over a whole bar of factory made. You can put me in any store and by pure chance, my favourite item is usually going to be the most expensive. Champagne tastes on beer money?  That’s me folks 🙂

Now the extra fun part –  to pass the award on to 15 other newly discovered (to me at least), deserving bloggers.  They include mummy bloggers, photography and style fanatics, eco-conscious devotees and people with a huge social conscience.  Check them out!

  1. My green picket fence
  2. Nicole Hastings Photoblogging
  3. Axxentor
  4. Gina Smith Photography
  5. Ofthenow
  6. A buddhaful journey
  7. An Aussie Mums Guide to Eco-friendly Babies
  8. The Grasshopper Foundation
  9. Maid in Australia
  10. Sunny Mummy
  11. Seven Cherubs
  12. Romantic Flair Original
  13. Styling You
  14. Martyr-hood
  15. Planning with Kids

Thanks again LifeAsMummyMax!

~Kirri

Is it the pursuit of excellence or the journey that matters most?

12 Apr

Written by Kirri White

When I received my first report of straight A’s at the tender age of eight – I recall my dad reacting with pride and jubilance.  In some way, the diminutive column of letters reflected his own achievement and were unanimous proof that I had been listening to all of his routine pep talks:

“Practice makes perfect.”

“The early bird gets the worm.”

“Whatever the mind can conceive, man can achieve.”

“Never give up.  Embrace the positive.  Whatever you resist will persist.”

“No matter what, you are a survivor.”

These are just some of the quotations that my dad used to regularly impart to me and my three siblings from a very young age. Sometimes they would come off the back of something celebratory such as when my older sister won a school cross-country run and dad firmly decided that she was now a professional athlete in the making.  Occasionally, they would also come when one of us had a less than stellar performance and were in need of assurance or a virtual shove to persevere.

Most of the time, I soaked up these references with the typical adulation of a true daddys’ girl.  As a teen, I occasionally resented them.  Whatever the case, I soon had his favourites firmly committed to memory and used to find it extremely amusing to mimic them back in silly voices (in my head only of course!)

From what I could ascertain, my fathers’ sayings seemed to follow a similar vein.

Life was all about striving to do your best, reaching for the stars, and never ever giving up.  I learned early on, at least in the metaphysical sense that I could excel at just about anything through sheer hard work and determination.

The problem lay with my dad being equally fond of referencing quotes that were fixed at the opposite end of the spectrum

“Life is all about the journey.”

“It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.”

“This is your journey and you will carve your own path.  Just don’t forget to notice the signs and rainbows along the way.”

It all got to be a little bemusing after a while.  I felt like he was telling me to strive for excellence but to also ensure my life was one big yoga retreat!

This philosophical puzzle was further compounded by my reading. Some books would have messages about giving life your all, reaching for the stars and striving to be your best and then others would recommend slowing down to smell the roses and living life purely for the moment.

So which one is it?
Is life, in essence, the dogged pursuit of achievement and self-actualised potential?  Or is it about the meandering trail of memories and special moments that we, as individuals are required to pause and suck up?

Robin Sharma, who speaks on success and leadership refers to ‘“ambidextrous leadership” as a way of explaining the need to effectively balance the sometimes opposing roles of a leader.

For example – A great leader is rational and logical, making sound and sometimes difficult decisions. But a champion leader is also a humanitarian – someone who understands and celebrates the heart of people.

Sharma espouses the same approach to life.

The essence of life lies not in the execution but in the balance.

Now, maybe I’m a bit of a slow learner, but this was my ‘Ya-ha’ moment for the week.

Life is all about balance and the complex symmetry of making it happen with letting it happen.

How do we balance work with family?  How do we strive to afford ourselves and our families the material luxuries in life while also living lives with greater connection and meaning?

How do we be the best that we can be while at the same time appreciating each step on our climb?

How do we counter moments of playfulness and frivolity with the seemingly endless and often burdensome responsibilities of being an adult and a parent?

How about the desire to be a decent and dare I say ‘nice’ person, without being taken advantage of or seen as lesser or weaker than?

My message for today and the advice my dad was trying to instill in me all those years is simple –

Make your plans, strive to achieve all your goals but don’t be so busy striving that you miss out on the climb.  Work hard AND play hard.

Always give it your best shot but don’t forget to capture those precious Kodak moments.

Play your best game and have fun doing it.

Be nice but firm.

Be someone your kids want to hang with but also know how to instill boundaries and make some of the less popular decisions.

Look at your life and aim for balance.  I know, it’s not particularly profound but often the beauty really does lie in the simplicity.

My only wish is that I had the opportunity to tell my dad that I finally get it.

He was a legend.

What valuable lessons have you learned from your parents?

How do you practice achieving balance in your life?

~ Kirri

The dangers of multi-tasking (or how to be less crazy and more productive!)

1 Apr

Written by Kirri White – Follow me on twitter

I’m going to go out on a limb today and assume that most readers are familiar with the meaning of the term “multi-tasking’ and also with the general consensus, that women are more effective multi-taskers than men.

However, I wonder how many of us view multi-tasking as a necessity for modern living? Is it something that you employ in your daily routine to ensure you get as much done in as little time possible?  Furthermore, just how effective is it?

I used to pride myself on being a fabulous multi-tasker and becoming a mum is what pushed me into this seemingly fine habit.  I would whip up a double batch of muffins while making breakfast, so that I only needed to do the dishes once.  Then, I would start the dishes with the telephone on speaker or cradled awkwardly between neck and shoulder, attempting to catch up with a friend or family member.  In the background, the washing machine would be whirring its way through the first load of many and my then twin babies and toddler would all be vying for my attention – frantically clapping, choir-screaming or cleverly foraging for breakables and potential choking hazards.

Fun times indeed.

It wasn’t until two or more years of living this way that I noticed Ms. Multi-tasker was not the benign smiley faced companion I had initially thought.  Bouncing between doing five things at once had its drawbacks – valuable snippets of conversation missed or forgotten, white clothing items permanently stained pink, important mail thrown into the rubbish and ultimately, scrambled eggs for brains!

My attention to detail was compromised, thought processes scattered and ultimately I seemed to be changing from one task to another and not completing anything in a manner I was satisfied with.  Did I also mention that it was damned stressful at times!

What happens when we multi-task?      

The impact of everyday multi-tasking on performance has been explored in numerous studies.

Findings indicate that multi-tasking may impair short-term memory and concentration, elevate levels of stress hormones and reduce our social skills, creativity and overall sense of wellbeing. (Silvercloud consulting, 2009).

Spend three or more hours with a baby or small child, attending to the immediacy of their physical and emotional needs and I would argue that there will be days (many days!) where you experience complete mental exhaustion.  You may find it difficult to follow adult conversation, feel overwhelmed by dealing with daily bouts of crying and temper tantrums, or be confused and fatigued from having to change task mid-way ten times in one hour.

The bottom line is that while we may think that heaping as many things possible into our day creates more ‘free time’, there is pretty good evidence to indicate we are actually less productive, less effective, less healthy and certainly much less fun to be around.

So, what to do?

As a mum of three young children, I’m not sure if it is possible to completely eradicate the need for multi-tasking. However, it is possible to reduce the negative side-effects of doing too many things at once.  Try employing some of the following strategies when you find yourself careening towards multitasking mayhem:

1)       The first step is to be aware of your multi-tasking habits and ask yourself if what you are doing right now is really necessary.  Focus on managing and directing your energy more effectively and keeping energy renewed rather than focusing solely on ‘clock’ time.  Use your internal ‘stress-o-meter’ as an indicator to whether you are tackling too many things at once.

2)      Complete one task at a time. You can achieve much more in a 30 minute chunk of time if you are completely committed to task, than when you are attempting to cram in as many things as possible into the same time frame.  Choose one task and concentrate on completing it in full before you put your mind to anything else.

3)      Do difficult tasks first.  If you have something that requires a certain level of concentration – do it first thing in the morning when you are relatively well rested and alert.  You will gain a sense of accomplishment that will set a positive light on the rest of your day.  Additionally, if things start to go pear-shaped (which happens from time to time with kiddlywinks) – you will have completed at least one important job that day.

4)      Learn to ignore unnecessary distractions.  Turn off all electronic distractions when not in use. Don’t answer the phone if you are in the middle of making dinner and when you do answer the phone, concentrate on your conversation rather than trying to browse the internet or fold the laundry at the same time.

5)      Set some boundaries and guidelines for your children so that they learn there are times when it is not ok to interrupt.  As rude as it may sound, in our house when we hold up one finger (no, not the middle one!) – the girls know that means that they have to remain quiet for a minute or two, until we are off the phone or finished our conversation.  We started doing this when they were about two years old and they started adhering around three.  It works like a dream now! 

6)      If you are running an online business from home you may want to allocate specific time intervals in which you deal with emails or paperwork.  File electronic or paper mail immediately after you have finished rather than shuffling bits of paper to and fro and having an overloaded inbox.  I check my emails once in the morning and again in the afternoon, responding to emails immediately wherever possible, then filing or deleting old emails so that everything is dealt with then and there. The same applies for all forms of social media  (facebook, twitter etc) – check them once a day at the most.

7)      If you are returning to the paid workforce or starting your own business and find that an addiction to multi-tasking has impacted your ability to concentrate on one task for long – consider some ‘brain exercise’ such as crosswords, Sudoku or, my personal fave –  luminosity.   Such games are hugely beneficial for improving memory, concentration and agility and I’m not embarassed to admit that I have needed a lot of help in this area!!  I can also personally attest to the benefits of regular exercise and taking quality marine oil capsules.

Final thoughts….

Practice being ‘present’ in your daily life.  Stop reacting to every demand for your attention – be more aware and choose what you will attend to right there and then and if it is really necessary to do so.

If, like me, you can’t quite kick Ms. Multi-tasker to the kerb, you may at least be able to effectively micro-manage her before she deals you a punch to the shins!

What’s your take on multi-tasking?  Share with us in the comments.

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A special shout out to all my loyal subscribers!  I really appreciate your support and will do my best to keep learning and sharing work that leads to a more balanced, successful and happy life for us all!

Have a Happy Day

~Kirri

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