Want to fail-proof your New Year’s Resolutions? Look to the moon.

So, it’s almost 2 weeks into January. I bet most of you set some resolutions, goals, aims, whatever you want to call them. I bet this isn’t the first year you’ve done it. And I bet some of you are already wavering on those lofty goals. That’s human nature – when we go all in and face a setback, it’s easy to throw in the towel. But it doesn’t have to be that way; I’ve found a way of setting my “resolutions” and goals that has meant that I’ve actually been achieving them, and it’s so much easier than I thought it’d be. Allow me to elaborate, because this might help you, too…

A little over a year ago, I came across this blog post written by the lovely Vanessa, and she instantly had my attention. She wrote beautifully about the meaning and importance of the cycles of the moon in her life, and it resonated with me incredibly strongly. After expressing interest in how she incorporated the moon phases in her life, Vanessa also kindly sent me an email, explaining a little more about how she lives by the moon. After a bit more reading of my own, I learned that as the moon goes through several phases while it orbits the earth, it is believed that each phase is a “good time” to do certain things or ask certain questions of yourself, starting on a new goal/dream/desire each new moon.

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It really hit me then – this was what I needed in my life. I’ve always been a goal setter, a list maker, a checker, someone who needs a target to aim for. I’m need my compass set in the directions of my dreams at all times, otherwise I’m totally lost. But it’s always been hard for me to know when to set aside to sit down and re-assess where I’m at – like most people, I tended not to do this until I was so lost and spun out of control, that 10 minutes of contemplation just wouldn’t cut it.

I’ve spent the last year living by the moon phases. And, unlike previous years, I’ve actually achieved a hell of a lot more than ever before; my typically unrealistic New Year’s resolutions hadn’t all fallen by the wayside a few weeks into 2016. By December 31st 2016, I had a lot to be proud of; physically, mentally, emotionally, materially, I’d made progress.

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There is a truckload of information on meanings and methods available online (just Google “moon phases”), so I won’t give you all of the opinions and options out there – instead, I just wanted to write about what’s working for me.

 

First, I like to write each phase of the moon into my diary, so it’s front of mind. This will obviously be different depending on where you live, but I find this calendar to be pretty helpful.

Then, when I open my diary on January 12th and see I’ve written in there that it’s a full moon night, I set aside a bit of time before I go to bed to sit quietly (maybe outside under the moon if the weather is working with me, or up in my book nook), light some candles or incense, and reflect.

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As I wrote before, it’s believed that specific moon phases align with specific situations and questions, and I did a lot of reading  about what was best to focus on in each phase. Again, there are a lot of different ideas out there, but I combined and condensed a few sources that made sense to me, and came up with the following list of questions; on each moon phase, I mull over the corresponding questions and write down anything I want to come back to…

NEW MOON
– a time of conception, new beginnings and starting new projects
what do you want to start? what are your goals? what do you desire?

 *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

CRESCENT MOON
– resolve is tested, time to grow and overcome fears
what do you fear? what do you need to guarantee the survival of your vision?

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

FIRST QUARTER MOON
– a time to decide who you are and where you intend to go, time to reach a major turning point but facing outer resistance
– set your intentions and create an action plan

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

GIBBOUS MOON
– a time of waiting, a period of adjustment as you adapt to reality and limitations, time to gain perspective and see where changes can be made
–  what isn’t working? how can it be fixed?

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

FULL MOON
– re-evaluate and come to a compromise between expectations and reality, any difficulties are learning opportunities whether you succeed or fail
– what difficulties have you encountered? what of your original goals have you manifested?

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

DISSEMINATING MOON
– time for introspection and review, ask questions, share ideas, gain clarity, time to deal with the outcome whether you’ve achieved your goals or not
– review your original goal; are there any questions that need to be asked and answered? is there anything that no longer serves you that you can let go?

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    * 

THIRD QUARTER MOON
– do you enlarge, rethink or replace your original vision? pull things apart and see them from a broader point of view, search for meaning
– review your original goal – enlarge, rethink or review? have you let go of the things you needed to?

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

BALSAMIC MOON
– time to stop striving and rest/retreat, grieve any losses and let things come to their natural end
– spend some time alone to reflect on the cycle, consider what is coming to an end, clean your physical space, rest

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And that’s the bare bones of it. If you’re really into it and astrology is your jam, you may want to create a more elaborate ritual. If you’re not really into the “hippy dippy” stuff, you may want to just use this more as a goal setting guide. But whichever way you want to look at it, I’ve found that being guided by the moon phases has made it so much easier to break down what I want and work out how to get it. It’s forced me to slow down, think things through, focus, ask the right questions of myself, and commit to my goals (after all, each moon cycle only lasts 4 weeks before you can “reset” your goals).

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Read this: Wanderlust: a Modern Yogi’s Guide to Discovering Your Best Self by Jeff Krasno

Wanderlust: a Modern Yogi’s Guide to Discovering Your Best Self
by Jeff Krasno

Good morning sunshines! I hope everyone’s having a great start to 2016 🙂 After starting the year with my new year’s resolutions, I wanted to carry on with the theme of finding your true north and share this brilliant book with anyone else who’s been struggling to find their path and is looking at 2016 as their new start.

Last year, I discovered Wanderlust, an incredible tribe who are best known for their global yoga festivals, held regularly every where from Oahu to Thredbo. They also run their Wanderlust 108 event around the world, a “mindful triathlon” consisting of a 5km run, a mega yoga class and a guided meditation, which I participated in for the first time last year. When I found out that Jeff, the co-founder of the festivals had put a book together, I knew it was something I had to get my hands on.

The book is a gorgeous collection of ideas, writing, stories, photographs and practices from Wanderlusters around the world. Yogis, artists, thinkers, philosophers, meditators, mind-body experts and business leaders have all lent their voices to this tome, contributing pages on what they know best.

The title is a little deceiving – it’s not just about yoga. It’s about wellness. Yeah, there are a few fantastic guides to physical yoga practice, but there’s also a lot more to it. It touches on all aspects of wellness. Guided meditation practices, wholesome recipes, hands on activities and worksheets to help you plot things out (goals, vision boards, that kind of thing). There are beautifully written essays and provocative pieces to really make you think and re-assess your priorities and direction, and the photography is bohemian perfection.

The main themes are about finding your true north (your direction, your meaning, your path) and finding your tribe:

“In yoga, we often hear the Sanskrit word kula, which means intentional community. The basis of any kula is the feeling that life is best when shared.”

I’ve had this book for 6 months, and it’s stayed on my bed side table since the day it arrived. It’s one of those books you can flick through any time you’re feeling a bit lost or flat, any time you’re needing a little guidance or soul re-setting. The little yoga flows are fantastic when I need a quick 5 minute practice to re-calibrate, and so many of the ideas resonated with me – with so many different contributors, they each connected with a different part of me.

I’m already looking forward to attending my next Wanderlust event and am researching right now which one it’ll be (maybe I could travel a little for one…?!) and as I sit on the train finishing this off and hitting the POST button knowing that today is going to be a stressful one at work, I think I know what I’ll be doing when I get home tonight…

Grab a copy here, brew a pot of tea, and enjoy finding your true north 🙂

Speaking of which, any new year’s resolutions you want to share?

My (meaningful) New Year’s Resolutions for 2016

Happy New Year amazing people 🙂 While I don’t actually really celebrate the night in a big way anymore, I am a big one for fresh starts and planning to succeed. I’m also sick and f-ing tired of making the same idiotic resolution every year to “finally lose weight and be skinny.” Because that absurd sentence has robbed me of so much time and happiness and sanity over the years, it’s embarrassing. So, this year, I’m making a very strong and conscious effort to remember who I was before the world told me who I should be, and making some more realistic and meaningful resolutions.

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I miss the girl I used to be. I never gave a shit what anyone else thought of me. I wasn’t religious, but I was very spiritual, and that gave me great comfort when I was practicing regularly with candles and crystals and oils and what not. Things that used to make me feel good on bad days were going for a walk with my camera and photographing random things on the way, and collating those photos in little notebooks. Braiding my hair and painting my nails made me feel prettier on my ugly days. Cooking and eating weren’t obsessions and sources of anxiety, they were enjoyable. I was so creative. I still am, but I stifle it a lot more now, because the world tells me that making money and working and doing the socially acceptable things are more important than following the passions that make your heart sing. I wore what made me feel good, even if the fashion disciples would have died laughing at me. I didn’t apologise for my introversion, and if I wanted to stay at home and read for 3 hours instead of going out for a big group dinner, that’s what I damn well did. I studied for fun, things that I enjoyed studying, like Egyptology and mythology.

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That’s who I am, really. That’s who I was. That’s when I was a little happier. It was hard to realise that, actually. I think I’m done wasting time trying to be who the world wants me to be. I think I know that being happy means being me, unapologetically and unashamedly. It’ll be hard at first, changing this much while battling depression and anxiety and disordered eating. It’ll mean I’ll lose some “friends.” It’ll mean I’ll get frustrated. But without the dark, you can’t see the stars, and I think it’s finally my time to shine now.

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This year, my resolutions are all centered around getting back to that girl. This year, I will:
• take 10 regional Victorian road trips
• take 2 solo writing/yoga retreats
• meet 8 new bloggers in the attempt to find my tribe
• visit 10 different markets in Melbourne
• read at least 30 new books
• move my body for 30 minutes each day
• move back towards daily yoga practice and meditation, knowing that it will help my depression and anxiety
• take a course to learn something new, just because I want to, not because I “need” it for a career or job
• make more of an effort to dress up every day, braid my hair more and paint my nails, because looking lovely makes you feel better
• minimalise materialism & clutter
• live more by the moon cycles (thank you for the suggestion Vanessa!)
• cook a new recipe each week from one of the dozens of cook books on my shelf
• spend more time in my book nook
• finish that little (big) project I’ve been working on all of 2015 (you’ll find out more soon, don’t worry – I’m gonna need your help with it!)
• find new ways to channel my creativity

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I hope everyone else has some time over the weekend to give themselves some realistic goals for the year ahead, goals that don’t involve changing yourselves to fit in with society’s bullshit expectations, but goals that bring you back to who you truly are at your core. Because there’s only one of you, and if you’re the best version of that possible, how could you be anything but happy, successful and totally at peace?

Happy New Year, friends 🙂 xoxo

Ways to keep your love & friendships strong: Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club!

Can’t count the years on one hand
That we’ve been together…

Actually, Paramore, can’t count them on two hands anymore either… Eleven years as of Monday, and counting 🙂  And, not to be a sentimental sap, but it’s been eleven pretty good years. We’ve been through a lot in those years…

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We graduated from university together.
We completed a triathlon together.
We’ve seen each other through a few lots of surgery.
We’ve moved house four times.
We survived the most horrific dual case of food poisoning ever while holidaying in Vanuatu – in a hotel room that only had one bathroom.
We’ve travelled to 13 countries together.
We survived a 16 hour train trip across Egypt with no tears.
We’ve swam in the Nile
We’ve abseiled down a waterfall.
We got married.
We got a puppy who we learnt to keep alive together.
We dealt with the laundry in our new home flooding on his birthday.
We been strong for each other as we’ve each lost loved ones.
He’s supported me through two national taekwondo championship campaigns.
I’ve seen him play and coach his way to more basketball and football premierships than I can count.
Our loved ones have become each others’ loved ones.
We’ve learnt to communicate with little more than a raised eyebrow.
We’ve learnt that neither of us are perfect, but we are perfect together.

We’ve also worked out that the more effort we put in, the happier we are. And it can get hard to make proper, quality time for each other – we’re both busy people with our own interests and hobbies, and it’s easy to let the day to day crap get in the way. Mornings seem to be the worst; most mornings we barely see each other, because our routines are so different. So, a few months ago we decided to start Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club.

Every Wednesday morning, no excuses, we sit down and have breaky together. We both get up a bit earlier to make sure we’ve got a good half an hour to eat and chill out, catch up on our weeks so far, just hang out without phones (yes, really – after I take a photo of that week’s offering, no phones till we’re done!) or distractions. Why Wednesday? It’s mid week, and if you also work a standard sort of Monday to Friday job, you know what Wednesdays feel like… Blehhhh! We take turns each week to put breaky together (and believe it or not, it’s actually not gotten at all competitive… yet), and we’ve had some pretty damn good stuff so far…

At face value, it might not seem as romantic as roses and fancy candlelit dinners and couples massages, but we’re not into that shit – give us a good plate of bacon and eggs, a pot of tea, and a bit of quiet time to hang out any day! All relationships are different and we all have different things that work for us, but having that time set aside every week has made a really big difference this (crazy, hectic, testing, challenging, tough) year.

And I’m thinking this isn’t just a “couples thing” – it might be a nice idea to try out with your parents or siblings, your office bestie who you never seem to have time to hang with outside of work hours (turning up to work half an hour early isn’t so bad if you go on a breaky date before you power up those computers) or your housemate, who you rarely seem to discuss anything but rent money with, despite the fact you sleep maybe a few meters away from each other.

Anyway, I’m off to Japan on the weekend, so we’re sadly going to miss a week of Breakfast Club, but I’m already looking forward to the next one back after the trip 🙂

Motivation Monday! Read this: My Fight / Your Fight by Ronda Rousey

My Fight / Your Fight
by Ronda Rousey

Motivation Monday! Because I’ve been sick for almost two weeks and God knows I need some motivation to start my week with!! Last week, while reading My Fight / Your Fight, I posted this image on Instagram; it was surprisingly difficult, and at the same time, therapeutic. I’m no world class MMA fighter, but I won’t be accused of jumping on the bandwagon, because I am a black belt in taekwondo. I wasn’t the best of the best, but I never gave anything less than my best. My years in the sport were the most formative years of my life. Competing in martial arts isn’t something that can be easily understood unless you’ve actually done it yourself – it is so, so different to other sports. Taekwondo was also the first thing I’d ever tried in my life where:
a) I wasn’t compared to my sisters
b) nothing was expected of me, so I wasn’t under any pressure
c) I was part of a group of people who really cared and made me feel like I belonged
d) I didn’t feel like an utter and complete failure

It was a big, big part of my life, and leaving the sport tore a massive hole through me – both literally (with hip surgery to repair torn cartilage) and figuratively (when you’ve spent a decade trying to build some semblance of self confidence, and that one bad egg tears you apart with a few nasty words said to get a laugh at your expense, it truly does rip your soul). One day I hope to be able to write honestly about my taekwondo life – what brought me to it, what kept me going, what my experiences truly were, both mentally and physically,  but I’m not ready for that now. Let me say instead that if a role model like Ronda Rousey had been around for me 10 years ago, if someone had written a book this raw and real when I was still training and competing, things may have turned out differently for me. Not just in the sport, but in my entire life.

As a creature with so little self-confidence a few mean words from a pre-schooler would probably reduce me to tears, I was utterly and completely captivated by this book, written by one hell of a woman, who managed to fight every limitation and assumption against her with the strong belief she had in herself. The hard times in her life only served to toughen her, living proof of the good old “whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” cliche. And it’s not just about the sport; it’s about life.

If you don’t know who Ronda Rousey is, you’ve obviously been cozily tucked away under your rock for quite some time now . The Olympic judo medalist and reigning UFC bantamweight champion has taken the world by storm, parlaying her success in the MMA into an acting career and now, her book My Fight / Your Fight. I was pretty keen to get my paws on it, given the serious lack of genuine female martial artists with something to say, and I was not disappointed – I flew through the book! So what’s it about?

Marked by her signature charm, barbed wit, and undeniable power, Rousey’s account of the toughest fights of her life—in and outside the Octagon—reveals the painful loss of her father when she was eight years old, the intensity of her judo training, her battles with love, her meteoric rise to fame, the secret behind her undefeated UFC record, and what it takes to become the toughest woman on Earth. Rousey shares hard-won lessons on how to be the best at what you do, including how to find fulfillment in the sacrifices, how to turn limitations into opportunities, and how to be the best on your worst day.

What that translates to is a book full of mini chapters, each headed with a little bit of advice as applicable to the real world as in competitive fighting. Some of my favourites, some of the things I wish I’d heard from a fellow female martial artist when I was younger, included:

– Never underestimate an opponent.

– Do not accept less than what you’re capable of.

– Turn limitations into opportunities: use setbacks to develop in another area you wouldn’t otherwise addressed.

– Find fulfillment in the sacrifices: most people focus on the wrong thing; they focus on the result, not the process. The process is the sacrifice; it is all the hard parts – learn to enjoy them, or at least embrace them.

– You have to be the best on your worst days: you have to win so clearly that they have no choice but to declare you the winner.

– No one has the right to beat you: you both start from zero. Where you take it from there is up to you.

– Don’t rely on others to make your decisions.

– Everything is as easy as making a decision and then acting on it.

– This is my situation, but this isn’t my life: terrible situations don’t last forever.

– Nothing will ever be perfect: make the present moment the perfect moment.

– The only power people have over you is the power you give them: once you start caring about people’s opinions of you, you give up control.

 

Honestly, I loved this book. It’s raw and open and honest. It’s not polished up to be glamorous, not even in the “oh look how hard things were and how amazing I am now!” kind of way you usually read. And don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s only worth a read if you’re a female martial artist. This book is for everyone who’s ever had to put in a fight for something that really meant something to them. It’s for everyone who’s ever lost someone important. For everyone who’s been in a shitty relationship. For everyone who’s been told they couldn’t, shouldn’t, or that their ideas are ridiculous. It’s for the guys and girls who’ve been torn down and fought to get back up. For the people who want something better for themselves, even if they don’t know what that is yet or how to get it. It’s for every single person out there who doesn’t realise that the big chance they need to change their lives isn’t going to be magically bestowed upon them – that the chance is already ready to be taken if they can just be brave enough. Because you shouldn’t ever let anyone force you to take a step back.  Get a copy, as soon as you possibly can, and re-examine the excuses you’re making for yourself not to live the life you really want.

Prisoners On The Run 2015

A few months ago, I participated in the Wanderlust 108 “triathlon” in Melbourne, which you can read more about here – basically, it was a “kind” triathlon, comprised of a 5km run, a 90min yoga session, and some meditation to end with. The run was a challenge for me (I am not a natural athlete), but I trained for it and did surprisingly well – even more of a surprise was that I actually enjoyed training for it! A week after Wanderlust 108, I decided that I wanted to keep myself motivated, so to give myself a reason to keep training, I decided to enter myself in another fun run – the 8km Prisoners On The Run in Beechworth. 

 

The annual 8km run is held to raise money for local disabled and disadvantaged kids, with the added bonus of being held far away from home; husband decided to enter as well, and we decided to make a weekend of it! 

 

I’ll write a little more about it when the trip is over (busy enjoying it right now!) but for now, I managed to cross the finish line in 57 minutes, 3 minutes quicker than my “I wish” goal time, despite the hills, the sore throat, the late withdrawal of my husband/running partner and the torn cartilage in both hips. I did it, I couldn’t be prouder, and self-pride is not all that common for me! 

 

The weekend has also been amazing here – beautiful weather, incredible accommodation, delicious food and time to actually relax and enjoy it! Looking forward to sharing a bit more about the beautiful town of Beechworth next week 🙂