Time to plan!

time-to-plan

Autumn is swiftly moving in and I have no choice but to accept a change of season I didn’t want. Isn’t it what happens when unwanted change happens in our life: an illness, a death, a job loss, a separation or just ageing? What choice do we have but to accept what is and move on from this, at the pace that is comfortable for us, with the means that are best suited for us at that point?

Life goes on whether we like it or not and the sooner we realise that there is a brighter place for us ahead, the better. The question becomes: What place do I want for myself in this new deal?

There are twelve weeks left before 2016 bows down and another new and fresh year takes over. Twelve weeks we need to plan for. We have a chance to end this year on a high, strengthened by a renewed confidence, and put ourselves in a pole position for 2017.

What do you need to accomplish in these last twelve weeks? What dreams did you have for this year that you can still work on? What needs to happen?

Twelve weeks is a perfect length of time, a term, a trimester, a season. There are quite a few people that think that we should live our life and work on our goals in periods of 12 weeks or a season. For more information, you can read The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington.

It makes sense to set goals every three months as our circumstances and priorities change. Reviewing our goals, setting new ones, dropping some or adapting others quarterly has value.

The choice of goals is yours. What demands your attention right now? What needs to happen by the end of the year? You might choose professional goals, health goals, relationship goals. Maybe you need to plan the holidays. How much less stressful would that be if you wrote down all that needs to happen for a successful Christmas (food, presents, cards, invitations, transport, preparing bedrooms or booking a hotel, etc)? Imagine writing down every single aspect now, organising them into categories and doing a bit every week in each category!

Maybe you want to improve your health. What are all the ways you could feel better about yourself? What do you need to do every day or most days to become fitter? What habit can you set up? What would make it easier?

Is your main goal to surround yourself with more love? What does love in action mean to you? Do you need to organise date nights with your other half or with each of your children? Does it mean sending notes, magazine clippings to your grown up children, on a regular basis? Does it mean taking your grand-children away for the weekend once in a while? Do you need to set up a girls night out with your best friends?
Whether you have one goal or three, write down what you want in detail. Next think of anything that needs to happen for your goal to be achieved. Take your day planner and schedule each action. Success lies in the implementation. One week at a time. Have a weekly review each Sunday to ensure you are on track, to appraise your actions of the last week and be clear about the ones to come.

If you haven’t listened to the Inner Strength Meditation I created for you, here is the link. It might just give you the boost you need to get started.

If 2016 hasn’t been what you wished for, now is a good opportunity to make things happen. You can do this! I know you can.

Slowing down

slowing-down

In the last few weeks, I have stepped to the side, unplugged and listened. I didn’t listened to podcasts or audiobooks as I usually do, no, I listened to myself and I am not done yet. I have a lot more listening to do. Sometimes I can’t hear anything so I need to be patient and keep listening.

We can’t demand for what we need to know to just come through like a PDF instant download. We need to patiently create the conditions that will allow it and that can be tricky. Shutting off the noise around us is a challenge that is personal and will range from being easy if you have had enough, to stressful if you suffer from Fear Of Missing Out.

Getting offline proved relatively easy because I was tired of hearing the same things from “experts”, tired of being fed fear in order to buy, tired of being placed in a state of constant comparison, tired of feeling how I had to measure up to people in a world I don’t even want to belong to. There was a dissonance between how I felt I had to live and how I naturally wanted to live.

When we stop listening to ourselves, we let others dictate their agenda. We do what they expect us to do, not what we really want to do.

I like looking at the sky, observing what shade of blue it is, what the clouds look like, spotting stars and planets and admiring the glow of the moon. I like watching horses grazing as the sun is rising, contemplating the sea and rejoicing in the millions of sparkles on its surface (things I can only do on vacation. I like spending an hour or more cooking for my children a few times a week. I like sitting in my tiny garden with a cup of tea. I like listening to my 17-year-old for an hour and a half when he is in a chatty mood.

I want to always make time for things that matter, for things that make life meaningful. Where a lot of people are afraid of failing professionally, I am afraid of failing at life. To be successful, I need to preserve my time, my space, my environment, so that I can enjoy life in the moment, spend time with people I love and make new friends.

Last time I wrote to you, I shared how I struggled with returning to London and after a long reflection, I realised that it wasn’t just because of the beautiful weather, the ocean and being on holiday. I was desperately missing the need for less, the friendly community, the presence of nature, being unplugged for parts of the day. Life is experienced differently outside of big cities and I remember thinking that life as I experience it, just like many city dwellers, just doesn’t make sense.

There are many reasons why I can’t just move out of London so I am determined to increasing the quality of the life I have now and it starts with protecting myself from unnecessary noise, spending my time in a way that make sense to me and having my own back.

There are constraints that we can’t avoid (work, family obligations), but we are in control of our life and we have more power to choose than we have come to believe.

I want to live a slower life and meet my own needs. I want to make my life more enjoyable throughout the year, not just on holiday or when I manage to get in front of the canvas. There are many ducks to get in a row before I do, but at least I have a clearer picture of what I want, and I am listening carefully to my soul.

This means that my letters to you will not necessarily be coming every week as they used to, but rather they will follow their own pace.

Plans for October

Stay mostly offline
Drink lots of water
Return to creative expression
Sleep more
Read for pleasure
Truly enjoy the last of the mild temperatures
Write a list of all that could enhance the quality of my life and what changes they entail. These will be implemented over the next few months.

Inner Strength visualisation

inner-strength-visualisation

This summer I relaxed, I soaked up the beauty around me, I enjoyed time with friends and family and I right-brainstormed some ideas. I was clear about what I wanted to happen when I got back to London.

The things is, I seemed to have left a big chunk of positivity and energy back in Brittany. I confess, I have been struggling with getting back into a routine, let alone an enhanced routine!

It got so bad that I needed a pep talk to just find the strength to get moving. So I took myself through a visualisation/ meditation that I created as I went along and I felt so much better afterwards that I thought I needed to share it with you.

I recorded this exact meditation (link below) and I hope you will find it helpful. Please let me know!

I also want to mention a couple of things that helped me.

First, I stopped beating myself up!

How often do we do that? We start thinking we don’t do enough, then obviously we think we’re not good enough. And, by the way, why don’t we have enough?…

I decided to be gentle with myself and be as loving towards myself as I would be towards one of my children. You wouldn’t shout out insults to or bully your child, would you? Then, why do we do it to ourselves? So I stopped doing that immediately. And when I forgot, I just pushed the negative talk away.

Also, I checked what was off with me physically and realised I needed help so I made an appointment with my doctor. Do you need some help or support? Then you need to ask for it!

Secondly, I wrote down what needed to happen the following day that was absolutely essential, nothing else.

Things that are not that urgent will have to wait. I know I’ll be able to do more once I am back on track, but at this point, adding more things that I can handle will only overwhelm me and keep me stuck in procrastination. Action leads to momentum, so I needed to make sure that I started doing something. Little steps, remember? It’s a bit like like taking a few steps back so you can jump further.

I also made sure I included some self-care in the list because I am not going to do much if I don’t feel well enough. It is a way to be gentle and loving towards myself. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary for the good of those around us.

No matter what we do to improve our lives, there will be times when we feel down. I guess the highs wouldn’t feel as good if we didn’t have the lows. We just have to accept it and do what we can to help ourselves.

Here is the link to the Inner Strength meditation. Make sure you have 8 minutes of uninterrupted time and that you are sitting comfortably.

Life Questions to ask yourself Part 3/3

life-questions-to-ask-yourself-part-3_3

At times, events in our life and circumstances can be tough, painful, horrifying or disappointing. We have good days, we have bad days, but day after day, our life is the most beautiful gift we have been given. Waking up in the morning, seeing the sun rise, catching glimpses of the natural world, never ceases to remind me how lucky I am to be in this world.

Sometimes I forget. When I am back in town and the sun doesn’t make an appearance all day, when nature has shrunk to a desolate patch of a garden and I worry about money, it’s much harder to remember what a gift life is. But it is the most beautiful present I have been given and it is up to me to make sure that I savour this privilege.

Life is our most precious asset, yet we don’t necessarily take care of it accordingly. Think about another big asset we have: our home. We clean it (more or less often but we do!), we decorate it, we do the repairs needed, we make improvements (when we can) and sometimes we even extend it. We don’t always like doing these things but we make sure that at least a minimum level of maintenance is achieved.

I have been giving you some Life Questions (Part 1 and Part 2) so you can do a bit of cleaning, decorating, repairing or improvement in your life. It is so easy to forget to do that minimum level of maintenance. Asking ourselves a few questions once in a while is a helpful way to clear the cobwebs and update the decor.

We might miss the golden nuggets of our precious life if it is covered in the dust of days gone by and cluttered with other people’s ideas, expectations, our disappointments, our reminders of things we haven’t done or haven’t made space for as well as with all the noise that we absorb that doesn’t serve us. That is why clarity about who we are, where we are at and what we want our life to be, is the only way to enable us to turn our overwhelming ordinary life into an extraordinary one (by that I mean one that we truly enjoy).

Asking ourselves some life questions on a regular basis leads to changes needed so we can enjoy our life better right now, and allows us to create a Life Plan that feels authentic and energising.

Our final Life Questions

Do you feel you express yourself fully? What things would you like to share more and with who? If you were to give a public speech, what would be the topic?
What would you like to hear people say about you?
What are you consistently postponing?
What are the three most important values you want to live your life by?
What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
What do you need to let go of to feel lighter?
Here is some homework you might want to do. In the light of your answers to the Life Questions: plan activities, tasks, rituals, get-togethers, outings, new skills or habits for the next 12 weeks. Put them in your calendar!

Life Questions to ask yourself Part 2/3

Life Questions to ask yourself Part 2_3

Tell me, have you taken a few minutes to answer the journaling questions in my last letter? Here is a link to it if you missed it.

It’s easy to jump from one email to another, thinking we’ll come back to it later, but the truth is we never do because there are social media notifications, blog posts and books to read, podcasts and audiobooks to listen to, quotes to ponder upon… So we jump from one thing to another one and our attention span continues to decrease.

We don’t like missing out and we believe that we need to learn more, so we keep looking for golden nuggets.

But here’s what I believe. You already have the answers you need. You are the alchemist who can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. The golden nuggets are within you. Only by digging within, will you be able to find that gold. I see myself as an alchemical agent that can help you find it but you have to look for it. These Life Questions are a great step in the process.

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to go within and listen. The Life Questions I offer here get you started. Once your Inner Self feels listened to, she will unearth some golden nuggets. When you answer the prompts, let your Inner Self run away with it. Keep journaling, keep listening, keep digging. She will provide some comments, some complaining, but also some ideas and suggestions for change.

Why you need to write your answers down (Yes, I know, I’ve said it before!)

When you answer the prompts in your head, your mind will undoubtedly be distracted by a notification, an impulse to check something online, remembering something to add to the shopping or to-do list, a physical interruption. The train of thoughts is broken and it’s back to square one.

When you answer them in writing, you fully commit to the process and are less likely to be distracted, not to mention that others are less likely to interrupt you. If you do get distracted or interrupted, being able to read what you have previously written allows you to quickly get back to where you left off and carry on further with your enquiry.

Now on to our next Life Questions

  1. What little or big things make you happy? Make a list and clip pictures to illustrate it or as a fun way to make a visual list.
  2. What activity/activities leave(s) you feeling energised and smiling? Do you schedule them regularly?
  3. What is wonderful about you? What is alive in you?
  4. Do you feel that you are able to live your life authentically and be yourself?

I will be back next week with our final Life Questions.

Life Questions to ask yourself Part1/3

Life Questions to ask yourself Part1_3

Do you ever have the feeling that you are stuck in an invisible prison? Stuck in a job, a relationship, inauthenticity, procrastination, low self-esteem, cluttered house, etc. It really feels like you can’t get out of that invisible prison. You genuinely can’t see the way out and feel truly hopeless and helpless.

But in reality, this invisible prison is just that, invisible and it’s our lack of clarity for the future that creates our reality rather than what’s happened in the past. Starting to dismantle the walls of our invisible prison starts with getting clear about what we want, so for the next three weeks, I invite you to spend some time in your journal and to answer the prompts 5Life Questions) you’ll find here in my letters to you, this week and the next two ones.

Why you need to write your answers down

If you’re feeling any type of resistance to writing your answers down, I am asking you to have faith in the process and give it a try. Your thoughts are better processed when you write them long hand in a way that you can’t achieve by just trying to process them in your mind or by typing them. You have to slow down and you go further.

If you are not a journaler, just grab a legal pad or any sheet of paper and just answer these Life Questions, even if you have to throw them away because you don’t want anyone to read them. The key is to go deep so that the seeds of change get planted in your mind.

You might find that you don’t have much to say to start with and that’s okay. When we have shut out what we really want, to protect ourselves from hurting or because we’ve been beaten down by life, it might take a while to learn how to dream again. In that case, write what you can and keep your mind open to what comes up in the next fews days or weeks. You might even want to go back to the prompts in a few weeks time.

This is one of the most helpful investments of your time, so dive in and take the time necessary to answer all these questions. Some answers might flow out of you, some might feel painful, some might excite you and some might make you feel like closing your journal. Whatever the case, stick with it! It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your circumstances are, you will benefit from doing this exercise over the next three weeks. Write down the questions on a piece of paper and slip it in your journal or your purse so that you remember to answer one of them whenever you have a few minutes or all of them if you have a big block of time ahead of you.

By answering these Life Questions, you will gain more clarity about where you are, where you want to go and what you truly desire. Don’t assume you do! This is big. I believe this time of year is ideal for this type of enquiries because summer always gets us more in touch with ourselves, with our bodies and we get a glimpse of what could be…

Now on to our first Life Questions

Give an account of where your life is now. Consider all aspects: relationships, family, friends, work, business, health, creative outlet, learning, parenting, finances, spiritual path, overall wellness, commitments, contribution, time out for relaxation or for inspiration, etc. Celebrate what is going well and notice what feels painful.
If anything was possible, what would you do right now, and I mean right now? What would you drop in an instant?
If your world disappeared suddenly, what would miss most? Who would you miss most? Who or what wouldn’t you miss?
Looking at your answers to prompt 3, write down as a list what and who matters most to you. Now looking at your life right now, are you spending enough time and attention on those things and people? Think about ways you could change that.
I will be back next week with more Life Questions.

Just a reminder that my friend, mentor, Creatively Fit Coach and creative muse, Whitney Freya, has created a wonderful program starting September 2, 2016, called Vision Quest, The Creatively Fit Program.

If you want life to start happening FOR you, not TO you, find out more now through Whitney’s FREE Video Series

Click that link, and you will access the awesome video series Whitney Freya created to encourage your dreams AND take you through an entire HUGE painting she paints right in front of you!

Vision-Quest_sage-bundle

August resolutions

August resolutions

It all started in August. I was so nervous. I had never spoken to a Life/Business coach before. What if she thought my goal wasn’t good enough, clear enough? What if she was going to get me to work with her against my will? What if we didn’t connect on a personal level?

As I know now, having become a coach, is that coaches care, coaches help you clarify your goals and ideas, coaches support you and cheer you on. It was worth feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

It all started in August because summer is the perfect time to begin something new, to get the ball rolling and create long-lasting change. If you’ve been reading my newsletter for a while now, you know I like New Year’s Day and get excited at the thought of a brand new beginning, a clean slate, the gift of a whole new year, but I also know that without a clear structure and discipline, New Year’s resolutions have a short life.

My theory is that New Year’s Day, being in the dead of winter, is at odds with the natural cycle of growth. Nature is hibernating, we stay indoors and everything seems to be at a standstill. Christmas has just happened and it’s all about others. It is exhausting. So if you haven’t been successful with your New Year’s resolutions it might have to do with the season rather than be due to your own failure. At this point, I feel I need to apologise to my readers ‘down under’ because this experience might be very different for you.

August, conversely, sees Nature fully alive. The summer break is all about you and you take better care of yourself. You go for walks, you eat fresh produce, you feel more relaxed, you spend less time online. Time for deep thinking. You naturally compare this blessed time with the busy schedule, demands and restrictions of ‘regular’ life. You wish for your life to be more as it is now and think hard about ways you can make this happen. Now is the time to dive deeper and get clear about your life purpose, your non-negotiable and what you would like your life to look like. Now is a time for change.

What would you like your life to look like? Take your journal and list all the things that you would like it to include. What do you really want to do? What would you do if you knew you could not fail? It doesn’t matter if you are starting in life, midway through or retiring. What would you like the next phase of your life to be about, to look like? What would be an ideal day like?

Now is the time to start the process of changing your life, to start taking action and be serious about that goal or dream that keeps nagging at you. I didn’t know what action steps I needed to take but working with a coach clarified that. I learned so much in the year that followed, things I didn’t think I could understand and I also learned that I didn’t need to know everything because there would be people I could call upon like Kim, my web designer.

Whenever you can this week, spend time in your journal and dare to dream. Start taking action. Why not schedule a call with me? I am very nice (hehe! I really am!). And I really care about you. I am so grateful that you take the time to open my newsletter every week. You already are so precious to me. I wouldn’t be writing to you if I hadn’t made that first scary call. That fear soon evaporated. It will for you too. And if you don’t want to work with me, will still love you and think of you when I write my letters to you.

Schedule a call

Another way to work with me would be to sign up for Whitney Freya’s Vision Quest where I’ll be your personal coach.

This September, I’m taking part in an exciting online program called Vision Quest, The Creatively Fit Program. I want to invite you to join me.

FIRST, ACCESS THIS FREE VIDEO PAINTING SERIES HERE

My friend, mentor, Creatively Fit Coach and creative muse, Whitney Freya, has created a magical experience within which I get to guide you into the quiet spaces, the open rooms of possibility within your mind, and connect you to your soul’s calling, your space of miracles.

Starting September 2, 2016, Vision Quest, The Creatively Fit Program, will accelerate your life’s journey to your soul’s highest vision of what you came here to express in this lifetime. It changed everything for me.

Life just shimmers with more possibility now and I feel more energised than ever before. It is because of what Vision Quest tapped me into—a whole new way to balance my stress and worry with trust and optimism. I SEE more of the world around me

If you want life to start happening FOR you, not TO you, find out more now through Whitney’s FREE Video Series

Click that link, and you will access the awesome video series Whitney Freya created to encourage your dreams AND take you through an entire HUGE painting she paints right in front of you!

Vision-Quest_sage-bundle

I hope you are enjoying your summer break and that you are stocking up on free vitamin D from the sun (a lot of our fatigue and aches are caused by the lack of it).

Create your own self-care practice

Create your own self-care practice

As I reached, still half asleep, for my phone on Friday morning to put a guided meditation on, I found a Facebook notice saying “Nathalie is marked safe during the attack in Nice, France”. I remember gasping very loudly.

I could have stayed in a mourning daze for three days as I did last November, with a heavy heart, unable to do anything, just watched the news all the time and played my version of the events in my head, my heart breaking over and over.

Instead, I decided to do all that I had to do, albeit with a breaking heart. I also forced myself to carry on with my daily creative challenges directing my thoughts on other matters regardless of the results. I journaled. I ate clementines. Three ways to feed my mind, body and soul.

I remembered that when life gets tough and our spirit falters, we need to take care of ourselves more than ever. It is so easy to tick items off our to-do list and take care of everybody else before we turn our attention to ourselves.

Overwhelm and burnout often happen when we fail to maintain self-care. Beyond the issue of time, the main problem we have is a lack of definition for our own self-care practice. I know we can find the time, if only a few minutes here or there, but if we have no plan we’ll squander them.

I am a big believer in routines and plans, however loose. A list of options is a plan.

Define your own self-care practice

Using three columns, list all the ways you take care or would like to take care of your mind, body and spirit. For your mind, it might be, reading fiction books, or business books, listen to podcasts, journalling, meditation, mindfulness, affirmations, etc. For your body, it could be, longer (or better) sleep, movement (walk, run, dance, exercise, gym workout, bootcamp, playing with young children, stretch), massage, nail care, napping, taking a bath, creating a comfortable space where you can relax, etc. For your spirit, it may be reading inspirational material (religious or not), going to the ballet/opera/theatre/concert/movies, visiting museums and galleries, going into nature, gardening, cooking, creative activities, etc.
Now look at your three lists and see what items could be part of a daily/weekly/monthly routine. How can you combine some of them to create a morning routine, a lunchtime routine, an evening routine? What could you do once a week or once a month?
Write down these routines to finalise them and commit to them. Be very specific, i.e. What kind of movement practice will you have, for how long? What will you need?
Keep a notebook for ideas so that you can refer to it when you have a few minutes. Jot down the names of books you’d like to read, movies to watch, theatre plays or concert you’d like to attend, recipes you’d like to try. It is essential to keep such a notebook if you want to create a creative practice. When you have a list of ideas to explore, it maximises the time you have for this. This is especially crucial when you only have a few minutes available. The last thing you want is to use the whole of your 15 minutes wondering what you could do.
Create your lists, your routines and your loose plans, stick to them, refer to them, review and tweak them as needed and have your notebook handy all the time. The benefit of your self-care practice will not come from how much time you can give it but from its consistency.

How to take charge of your life this summer

How to take charge of your life this summer

I don’t know about you but I just feel more relaxed in the summer. Even when I am still working or caring for others, life’s pace seems to be more manageable. It seems easier to smile and my outlook is overall much more positive even if nothing else has really changed and I am still dealing with the same problems or issues.

For these reasons, summer is the perfect season to create change. We are more likely to implement it and our positive outlook makes it more likely to be long lasting.

This is why I am inviting you, just as I did a year ago to take charge of your life by taking charge of what you do on a day-to-day basis, because as Annie Dillard wrote, How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.’

We need to be very intentional in how we spend our time and energy and I, for sure, can only succeed at this if I have a structure so that I can direct my focus without having to think about it. It is so easy to revert to our default setting every single day especially when we feel tired, overwhelmed or distracted by reality or easy entertainment.

I am not talking about a rigid structure but a Do’s and Don’t’s list carefully and thoughtfully crafted that I can refer to daily to create the day ahead.

“Commitment is an act, not a word.” Jean-Paul Sartre

This list is a way to translate our commitment to a better life into action. So, to stay focused on what really matters to me and how I can continue my work to create that better life, I will be re-using Jennifer Lee’s exercise from her book The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success: Stop, Start, Continue and apply it to all areas of my life. I thought you might find it helpful. Here are some items on my list.

STOP

• Spending more than 20 minutes a day on social media altogether

• Ordering new books or even checking out new books (in Amazon’s Look Inside feature)

• Watching any video on Facebook unless it was shot and posted by someone I know and love.

• Watching business webinars and video series

• Negative thinking of any kind and on any topic

START

• Reading a book a week from my selected list

• Working on an email course for a non-profit organisation

• Doing the Creatively Fit Coaches Team’s Photo Quest (see details below!)

• Sleeping more than 6 hours

• Emptying my office to create a new office/studio in the conservatory and a bedroom for my son in that room

CONTINUE

• Working on my daily creative challenges

• Working through the two online courses that really matter to me (and let go graciously of the ones that were not what I needed or expected)

• Doing my new Pilates/yoga routine in the morning

• Drinking lots of water

• Making more time for friends and outings

This is not my exhaustive list yet but I intend to keep Start and Continue very short. However I am determined to list more things I do that are not serving me in Stop so that can free my mind and timetable as much as I possibly can. I will print this list and have a copy by my bed, by my computer, in my diary and in my journal.

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… but no plans.”  Peter Trucker

Create your own Stop, Start, Continue list today and let me know if you found it helpful.