Category Archives for "Blog"

Simplify your schedule

For many years I followed the slightly disturbing maxim "If you've bitten off more than you can chew, chew faster. Unsurprisingly, I drank a lot of energy drinks and lived on junk food in those days. My energy was propped up on caffeine, sugar and adrenaline. Why, hello burnout, I didn't see you come in...

Burnout teaches us a lot if we pay attention. It teaches us to seek fulfilment rather than constantly needing stimulation. Because when we seek stimulation, the line between boredom and stress gets way too thin, and the slightest unforeseen thing can swing us past our breaking point.

If you find your schedule is stretched beyond your capacity, create some breathing room in these steps:

  • 1
    Write down all your regular tasks and commitments. Mark all the ones which drain you rather than energising you.
  • 2
    Decide which can be cut out altogether. Or cut back in frequency or volume. Perhaps you can rethink what gets ironed, or whether you want to stop being on some committees or attending a meeting that goes nowhere.
  • 3
    Look for where you can automate. Have clients schedule their appointments directly with your calendar rather than going back and forth. 
  • 4
    Learn to delegate. Yes, that person won't do it the way you do. But they will work it out and you can do something better with the time you free up. Kids can help out more at home. Services can be brokered out. Call in the troops!
  • 5
    Where a task or commitment needs to stay with you, or you choose to keep it, find ways to make it streamlined and efficient. Or find ways to make it more meaningful or pleasant. This may mean having shopping home delivered for efficiency, or shopping at a farmer's market to make it more pleasant. Perhaps do like tasks together for efficiency, or listen to an inspiring podcast.
  • 6
    When you're doing an activity, keep your mind focused and do nothing else. Thinking of the next ten things on your plate as you try to focus on the one in front of you is a sure way to exhaust yourself. Instead, write a note to yourself if you need to remember something later, but otherwise immerse yourself wholly in your task and consider the task in front of you to be your mindfulness practice. When we immerse ourselves we get the task done in a state of flow which maintains our energy rather than exhausting it.

I'd like to hear from you - which of these ways of practicing simplicity calls to you? How will you implement one into your day? And if this topic is one you'd like more resources to address, check out my free guide to Reclaim Your Me Time.

How to balance your chakras – even if you don’t believe in chakras!

I was 20 years old and devastated. I had just had a falling out with a friend - we had one of those intense friendships that sometimes, like in our case, burn out. I sought solace in a local meditative art class facilitated by Toni Carmine Salerno, who now runs Blue Angel Publishing. It was a pretty amazing class. One day in the class I painted out the story of our friendship and told my story. A kindly woman reached into her pocket and drew out a little piece of paper. On it was drawn the outline of a person sitting in meditation, with  spots running up their spine in the 7 colours of the rainbow. "You need to balance your chakras" she wisely advised me.

I thought she was crazy.

I took the paper politely, but I couldn't see how I could possibly have rainbow coloured spots running up my spine and never have noticed, nor how this strange little drawing could be of any use to my situation.

And yet, for some reason, I never threw out that paper.

You could say my embracing of chakras and their energy was a slow burn. And it's easy to understand how these strange drawings and stories of wheels of light and energy and long Sanskrit names can feel off-putting to the more practically minded amongst us.

Funnily enough though, later at uni I studied respected psychological theories such as Maslow's hierarchy of need. Guess what? It approaches the same content, but using the acceptable language of Western psychology.

Over the years I have got so much benefit from balancing my chakras and energy healing. I have picked up strategies that have seen me through times when my thoughts were too unwieldy to manage and my heart too broken to try. I see energy work as another piece of the puzzle. And further studies in counselling psychology opened up the world of metaphor and symbology and their potent use in therapy.

The pieces have come together - whether chakras and energy healing are taken as literal or metaphorical, they provide an ancient set of tools that speak to our unconscious and subconscious mind to create shifts our ego won't consciously allow us. I've experienced enough myself to believe directly in the power of our energy system, but if this idea seems as crazy to you as my helpful lady did to me all those years ago - don't worry, I get it. But use the tools anyway as a form of supporting that ancient part of your mind which works in pictures and metaphors, not words and strategies. The part where dreams and nightmares, phobias and inspiration exist. Here are 7 places to start, 1 for each chakra.

  • 1
    Think of the chakras as focal points for your energetic system. By keeping them clear and in balance, your whole being can be in balance. While there are many chakras, to begin at the most practical level, we will discuss the main 7. The first chakra is an energy point at the base of your spine and has the same energetic frequency as the colour red. It symbolises our most fundamental human needs of being safe, grounded and belonging to our tribe. When these parts of life are damaged, it's imperative  for our balance that we heal them. We can take action on a practical level - get ourselves to safety, take care of practicalities like having a budget, find our own tribe or heal our relationship with the one we were raised in. When these actions are overwhelming we begin the healing with metaphor and symbology that begins the process. We can wear red to help us feel strong, do grounding activities like cleaning, decluttering and gardening, practicing strong balancing yoga poses such as warrior or tree, and listen to or dance to music with drumming to get us back to the sense of having a solid base.
  • 2
    The second energetic focal point symbolising the next level of human need is below our belly button and has the energetic frequency of the colour orange. This is the psychological needs of connection with one other - friends, partners etc, with our creativity and healthy sexual expression. Once again we can address these parts of our life directly, or begin the healing process with using the colour orange, allowing ourselves time to create in whichever way we are drawn to, and focusing on movement that centres below the navel such as hula hoop and belly dance and dancing to sensual music that inspires hip movement.
  • 3
    Our third psychological need is to have a healthy sense of our personal power, and to remove ourselves or resolve any power struggles we have with others. It is neither healthy to be overpowered by or to overpower others; the aim is always our own sense of personal power and containment. The energy for this is above the navel and attributed the colour yellow. Wear yellow to feel strong within yourself and shine brightly in your own right. Symbolically we can visualise anything or anyone we feel drains our power and imagine we are cutting away any cords that bind us to that person or situation, always blessing all parties with love and light but creating healthy separation. Flamenco and martial arts are wonderful strengtheners of our personal power centre. So is standing up for a cause you believe in.
  • 4
    The chakra in the middle that keeps balance between all others is, of course, attributed to the heart area. It has the energy of green. This is the place where we have the courage to allow broken hearts to heal and let go of bitterness in order to be more open-hearted. We can't allow love in unless we allow it out also, so we must be brave and keep this channel open. This means we must trust ourselves enough to open our hearts where it is safe to do so, not in abusive or unhealthy situations. Where this part of our life needs tender care, we can wear green (or pink if you prefer) and spend time in the original green of nature. Caring for animals allows the heart to heal and open also. Songs that speak to the heart can help too.
  • 5
    Our 5th chakra is located to the throat area and attributed the colour blue. This is the energy of living and speaking our truth. We can begin in small ways to align our lives, actions and the words we speak or write to have more and more integrity with our core values and deepest truths. Where we need support, wearing blue and using our voice in singing along to songs that speak our truths for us give us inspiration and strength.
  • 6
    Our forehead area is the location of the 6th chakra, which has the energy of indigo and is the importance of following our inner knowing and wisdom. Reading stories and watching movies of those who inspire us, and studying areas that call us further help here. Meditation is the primary practice for quietening our minds of the ego's loud chatter and hearing the quieter and wiser voice within.
  • 7
    And lastly the top of our heads is aptly named the crown (7th) chakra, and has the energy of violet or white. It speaks to our need to connect with the collective, to higher power or greater good. Religious belief is not the only way to do this, feeling connected to all of humanity is also important here. Ways to open up this area in our life include asking the questions from A Course In Miracles during our meditation, and waiting for inner wisdom to guide us "Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? What would you have me say, and to who?". Our aim is to follow our highest path. Using the colours white, violet and gold can support this energy.

So whether you love the idea of diving into the chakras, or whether for you they are a useful metaphoric guide to the growth of the human spirit, try the practices above related to the chakra you instinctively feel is the weakest for you. If you don't know where to begin, always begin with the first and develop a grounded foundation for your life, from where all else can grow.

And I'd love to hear from you! Do you already work with your chakras? And if this is new, which practice will you experiment with? Let me know in the comments below and share with a friend who could benefit too.

April 24, 2018

How to love your body

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Growing up, I loved to sneak a peek at my older sisters' fashion mags, and by the time I was a teenager I was voraciously reading my own with friends at school. Every month taught me a new way to be pretty or lose weight or be more popular or stylish. 

The problem was, these instructions were built on a broken foundation. The paradigm was wrong - we were taught that our bodies were ornaments and the goal was to be "perfect", whatever that meant. 

Years later, some of the magazines caught onto a trend of teaching us to love our bodies. The way to do this was to accept that only 8 people in the world could look like supermodels, the rest of us must just "disguise our flaws" and "focus on our good points". Besides, we were told, it is okay to have curves because men like them! This created a double whammy of telling us we're only acceptable if men deem us to be, and divides us according to our build. 

Unfortunately this still works on a belief that our female bodies are wrong and broken, and we must just make the best of them that we can. Or worse, that approval of ourselves needs to be based on whether we have earned the approval of men.

But the problem is not our bodies. The problem is that we are conditioned from birth to think our bodies are ornaments to be made into an accepted standard of beauty, that other people - particularly men - have the right to judge us based on our appearance, and that we are fighting a losing battle trying to achieve a body type that we just weren't born with. It doesn't matter whether the magazines are telling us to "lose 3 dress sizes by lunchtime" or "men want you to be curvy" - we're still being dictated to for our self worth.

So how do we fix this conundrum? As Albert Einstein famously said, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them".

It's clear then - we can't fix this by telling ourselves that despite being size 16 in a world that wants us to be a size 10, we at least have a pretty manicure! What we need is a whole new way of thinking about our bodies. We need a paradigm shift where this malignant messaging is shown for what it is, and where it no longer makes sense.

So work with the following paradigm shifts. They are uncomfortable. But when they really drop into place, a whole new sense of freedom exists where all this conditioning just doesn't apply. Here they are:

1. Your body is not an ornament.

When we view our body as an ornament, we believe our worth and value is tied up in how attractive we can make our body, according to cultural standards, men's judgements and other external messaging. For example, I used to have the belief that for my body to be acceptable it must be size 10, tanned, with shiny straight hair and aged from 16-25 years old. This is a broken paradigm because the vast majority of us will receive the unconscious belief that we were born into a body that isn't good enough. We may have some of the attributes we think we need, but always be aspiring for the ones we perceive as lacking, and therefore never truly satisfied. And even those who do fit the preferences of the culture they live in will probably face the same self doubts when they look in a mirror and realise their body is ageing. And so the diet industry, the anti-ageing industry, the fashion and beauty industries keep us hooked as we are told "You're not quite good enough, but don't worry, with our product you can be!". 

The new paradigm: Your body is a sacred vessel that contains YOU, your life, your spirit and your unique expression. In this paradigm EVERY body is perfect, because every body provides us a vessel within which to live. We laugh with our body. We pursue our dreams with our body. We hold our loved ones with our body. We gaze on beauty with our body. Our body is not an inanimate object to decorate into beauty, it is a vessel with life breathed into it, for our self expression in this life time whatever that may be. 

2. Your body is not the enemy.

Modern medicine has extended our life and given us new expectations of our bodies. We don't expect to be struck down "before our time", or to have our lives changed by our health in ways we didn't control. Even when we have colds, we often reach for a medicine to stop the symptoms, so we can "get on with it". But the gifts have brought a shadow with them.

We've begun to see the symptoms of illness as our body letting us down. When we have a headache, we feel attacked by our body. When we have a chesty cough and runny nose we feel frustrated by our body. We think our body is doing this to us. In truth, symptoms are mechanisms the body uses to correct an imbalance or fight an invasion. They are our body's attempt to save us.

That headache is the body trying to tell us our blood sugar isn't right, or that we need to drink some water or get some sleep. The runny nose may seem gross, but it's the mechanism our body has for removing a virus so that our body can heal. This is NOT a post about not using conventional medicines - there is a time and place for them and we must each make that decision for ourselves as adults.

However, when we operate from a paradigm of "illness is my body attacking me", we can see our body as the enemy, something we need to "control" or combat. And regardless of our state of physical health, being on a different team to our body is damaging on a deep level. I have been pretty healthy for most of my life, but I experienced this following a series of very traumatic miscarriages and infertility treatment. I was angry at my body and its shortcomings for some time.

Eventually, when I went into a deep meditation with the intention of forgiving my body for letting me down, I instead experienced this paradigm shift and realised it had never let me down at all. Sure, things had happened TO my body I didn't want, but my body had only ever done its best.

The new paradigm: Your body is always doing everything in its power to keep you alive and well. This is medical fact; the term for it is "homeostasis", a phenomenon in our body where almost every function and chemical reaction has signals that trigger our brain to let it know if that function is within a normal range or not. From there, the body will try to course correct. It may release different hormones, store excess energy out of the way as fat, make us thirsty so we drink, make us blow our nose or sneeze to remove a pathogen. Sometimes our bodies can get things back on track, sometimes they can't. But it will always, always try its best. So this means your body is on your team. It is your best friend - nothing on earth will fight for your wellness like your body. So wherever your state of health may be, approach it with your body as ally. Because you're in this together.

3. Your body is yours alone.

This last paradigm is possibly the most subtle and insidious. We are raised with mixed messages over who has rights or a say over our body. The #MeToo movement has certainly brought visibility to this issue. But confusion over who has a say can happen within longterm partnerships and marriages. Women often feel a sense of obligation to a partner, perceiving a context of what the partner "needs", which shifts the conversation to whether we are a good wife or partner by how much we look after the "needs" of our partner. If we reframe this to a more accurate word - such as "wants" or "preferences" the obligation is diffused and we can view the situation with more clarity.

Another place this happens is in the healthcare system. I have worked my whole career within this system, so I am not about to bite the hand that has fed me. I don't suggest that Dr Google knows more than an actual doctor, or that remedies with no research should be preferred over scientifically backed remedies in critical situations. However, we are taught to "obey" healthcare professionals without question. It's worth noting that as amazing as healthcare professionals can be, they are humans who sometimes make mistakes. Almost all treatments carry some risks and potential side effects. And the person who has to live with the results is you.

The paradigm shift: Your body is yours and yours alone. Reclaim your power and your body. Yes, be compassionate and allow your partner to be seen and heard and validated - but not at the expense of retaining the power of choice over your body. And accept that when you visit a doctor they bring expertise and experience to your situation and take that into consideration when you make your healthcare choices. But ask questions, and find healthcare professionals that you trust and feel respected by.

I'd like to hear from you - which of these paradigm shifts can impact the relationship you have with your body? Which do you already live by? Let me know in the comments.

Start with self compassion

Many of us as women are brought up to be compassionate towards others. By the time we are adults, this comes naturally to us.

Compassion for others is wonderful both in creating a kinder world and for our own happiness, but the cornerstone piece is missing - we need to begin with compassion towards ourselves.

Without self-compassion we can feel like we never give enough, we become vulnerable to the judgements of others and it is all too easy to crumble if we feel not good enough in our efforts. We dim our lights out of fear of our imperfections shining through.

When we stumble and fall, if we don't meet the expectations of others, if we realise we are flawed and human, it is our self-compassion that allows us to nurse our wounded parts, dust ourselves off and continue shining our light in this world.

So practice kindness towards yourself. When you have one of those moments - I am having one even as I write this - don't berate yourself. Consider how you'd respond to your dearest friend.

"Don't worry, you're human like everyone else. Learn and keep going. The world needs your light".

If you struggle with this, then begin here.

When we are all kind to ourselves in the privacy of our own minds and hearts, it becomes natural to be kind to others. It's not by "being better" we develop self worth, it's by being gentler in the midst of our own frailties and strengths.

Shine on, sister.

I'd like to hear from you - how will you be gentle with yourself today?

How to begin a mindfulness practice

It can be daunting to consider beginning a mindfulness practice. We are struck with images of people sitting diligently in lotus position, presumably completely at peace in themselves. It feels unreachable and perhaps even a tad boring.

This image is misleading though. Mindfulness is less about a specific activity and more about the state of mind we rest in as we go about our days. You see, if we sit for an hour in meditation and then return to a life where we work ourselves into a tizz, have a short fuse or dwell on the past then our mindfulness is not yet filtering into our lives. Meditation is still fantastic, but is a means to an end and not the end itself.

Rather, begin a mindfulness practice which flows throughout all the aspects of your life. This is where transformation happens. Here are my top ways to start:

  • 1
    Become more mindful of your thoughts. When you find yourself stressed or upset, check in with what you are thinking. Are you adding a layer of interpretation to the events? Are you being objective? Are you telling yourself a story that's upsetting you? Becoming more aware of our own mind and the stories it tells us is one of the most empowering things any of us can do. The other place to put your attention is whether your thoughts are focused on the past, present or future. When you notice your mind dreaming of the past or future, bring your attention gently back to the resent and what's in front of you now. If this is new, don't force yourself to change too fast, just allow awareness to be your first step. Learn to experience peaceful thinking here.
  • 2
    Practice mindfulness of your emotions. Just about every addictive or compulsive behaviour can be attributed to our cultural discomfort with allowing our more challenging emotions to pass through us. The clue is in the word "e-motion". When we allow the energy of the emotion to pass through us, teach us what we need to be aware of, and dissipate again, we are living according to our nature. When we don't allow the emotion it's energy, it won't have it's motion either and we become stuck, stagnant and numb as we refuse to feel something uncomfortable. To begin, simply take a few minutes alone. Place one hand over your heart and one on your belly and focus on steady breathing as you observe the emotion rising and eventually falling within you.
  • 3
    Be mindful in your body. As you lie in bed at night, when you are in the shower, during exercise or when doing a physical task, take your attention to what your body is doing, the physical sensations it has both on the skin and in the muscles and organs, its temperature and the energy it generates as it moves. Experience your body as it truly is - the vessel you experience life with. This is mindfulness of the body that isn't possible from the misguided viewpoint that the body is an ornament. Here's an extra resource for this.
  • 4
    Step back from your life and observe your environment and what it draws from you. Who are you when in the workplace? How do you feel and behave different around the different people in your life? How are you in your home? Note which of these feels like you and where you find your behaviour meeting the pull of the people and the environment and not your true self.
  • 5
    Lastly, become mindful of your habits. How do your daily routines marry up with the vision you have for your life? Do you dream of running a marathon as you sit on the couch crunching crisps? Or are you pounding the pavement in line with that dream? No judgement, just noticing. If you see this is an area of struggle, here's some free support.

I'd like to hear from you - which of these ways of practicing mindfulness calls to you? How will you implement a mindful moment into your day?

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April 7, 2018

Minimalism

I think I had a minimalist in me from the beginning. I remember even as a kid, wanting to stay home to sort my messy bedroom into order when my friends would be knocking on the door to play. I have a natural tendency towards disorganisation, and an equally natural one towards wanting to find simplicity, ease and essentialism amongst the chaos.

 In exploring ways to create meaning in my everyday life and live below my burnout threshold, I discovered that keeping life in all its aspects - possessions, time, relationships, pursuits, socialising, career etc - simple was pivotal. I stumbled across blogs through downloading Flipboard onto my iPad back when that was a cool and innovative concept, and one of the first topics to leap out at me was that of mimimalism. Leo Babauta, Joshua Becker and Courtney Carver were early inspiration, later The Minimalists joined the ranks as did Marie Kondo.

Language becomes important and powerful when we discuss embracing changes of lifestyle. At first the term minimalism was the only one I had for these ideas. And it's true that not all the minimalist blogs have the same benchmark exactly - some bloggers reduce their possessions to 100, their items of clothing to 33, their home to a tiny house etc. These stories captured my imagination. However, apart from the occasional fantasy of owning a tiny home (as my husband said, "Where will we put the wedding presents?"), what it boiled down to for me was keeping life simple, being minimalist in possessions while giving myself the freedom to go at my own pace, and creating space for what was essential for thriving in a meaningful life of my own creation.  I hold all these terms loosely, and allow the interpretation of what that means for my life to flow with the changes. I have no real desire to be minimalist in enjoying my baby for example -I rejoice in the adorable outfits, the snuggly blankets, the cute toys all as expressions of love and support and joy from others in welcoming our little girl. Gradually we will find our balance.

One thing is for sure - this journey needs inspiration and support. Enter The Minimalists' recent speaking tour and their book (affiliated)  Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life.

Their tour came at the perfect point in time, my sisters and I needed a night out together and what better way then to eat tapas and discuss what gives life meaning and creates ease? A favourite reminder from the evening was to focus on the why of what we do - if we are truly inspired by what something will do for our lives, the what and how will take care of themselves. This was balancing to my sometimes action-focused approach to simplicity. Questions and answers were poignant, baffling, funny (Australians laugh at everything) and reaffirming. Their classic quote reignited something within me, "Love people and use things, because the opposite never works".

Reading their work provided something more solid and tangible to accompany me along the actual journey. We are reminded to pursue meaning in our lives, and that aligning our short-term actions with our long-term values leads us to living purposefully.

My practical steps that I took from the book are:

1. Look within to discover what the "anchors" are in your life - the things keeping you stuck

2. After this honest audit, take action to remove these. Start with the easiest if you need to, but start.

3. Avoid "shoulds" which keep us powerless. The Minimalists recommend determining our "musts" for a meaningful life in the areas of health, relationships, passions, growth and contribution

4. Take small actions each day for these areas of life, to radically improve your life over time

The book then explores each of these in turn and a 21 day journey into beginning with minimalism in a style that is both simple and compelling. Occasionally I find their habit of referring to themselves in the third person and the presentation of themselves almost as a single entity as a bit grating, but really this is their creative choice and fades into insignificance compared with their grounded wisdom.

If the idea of living a more minimalist way of life instinctively calls to you as one of the paths out of stress and discontent then I highly recommend that you catch these guys on their next speaking event or have a read of their book.

And I'd love to discuss with you these juicy topics - what anchors do you need to let go of? What are your musts for a meaningful life? And what are you going to do about it?

March 13, 2018

How to switch to a natural personal care routine

eco skin care, natural skin care

natural skin care

In the early 2000s, natural products were just beginning to become readily available, and I was keen to adopt this lifestyle for the planet and my own health. In the process of experimenting with the early products, I had more than my share of rashes, breakouts and at the worst point my armpits managed to become red and scaly and yet still somehow sweaty. It was not an easy road! Luckily these days the products available are prolific in number and many of them work well. To make things even easier, I want to tell you everything I've learnt about making the switch.

To begin with, there's no need to throw out all your products and buy new ones. That can be overwhelming and expensive. Instead, it's much more manageable to experiment with one product at a time. This way there is no more financial outlay than you normally would spend on products, less wastage; and if it takes a while to find the right replacement product, you won't be battling with a bathroom cabinet full of items that don't work for you.

toxic personal care ingredients

Here are some of the key ingredients to avoid in your personal care:

Ingredient

Found in..

Reason to avoid

triclosan/ triclocarban

soaps (liquid/ bar)

disrupts thyroid and reproductive hormones

Vitamin A/ retinyl palmitate/ retinyl acetate/ retinoic acid/ retinol

skin care

increases sun sensitivity and when exposed to UV damages DNA of skin

SPF above 50

sunscreen

Only slightly improves sun protection but increases chemical load and leads to false sense of safety in sun

aerosol spray and powder sunscreens with nanoparticles, baby powder

spray and powder sunscreens

penetrate the lungs and enter bloodstream, inhaled baby powder hazardous to the lungs of babies

oxybenzone

sunscreen

potential hormone disruptor

coal tar derivatives and lead

dark hair dyes

carcinogenic, neurotoxin

formaldehyde/ formalin and chemicals that convert to formaldehyde in the body such as bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidzaolidinyl urea, quaternium-15, methylene glycol

chemical hair straightener

carcinogen, respiratory irritant

toluene, benzene

nail polish remover, nail polish

potent neurotoxic, can impair fetal development, toxic to immune system

phthalates, plasticiser

nail polish, hair spray

may damage male reproductive system and should be avoided by pregnant women

fragrance - non-specific ingredient which could be anything

perfume, and perfumed creams or skin care products, makeup, hair products - almost anything

can disrupt hormones, allergenic

BHA

makeup

potential carcinogen, causes depigmentation, in animal studies produced liver damage, interferes with thyroid and reproductive system functions

boric acid & sodium borate

liquid cosmetics and as a preservative, thickener or emulsifier in many cosmetic products

hormone disruptors, may harm male reproductive system, long term use may affect kidneys

parabens , propyl-, isopropyl-butyl-isobutyl

preservative in cosmetics

may disrupt hormones

PEG/ cetearet/ polyethylene

base for creams, toothpaste

probable carcinogen, hormone disruption

alpha & beta hydroxy acids/ lactic acid/ glycolic acid

anti-ageing products and facial peels

increases UV skin damage

hydroquinone, mercury derivatives (calomel, mercurio, mercurio chloride)

skin lighteners

can cause permanent skin disease; mercury in overseas lighteners is a poison

petroleum extracts/ mineral oil

moisturisers, hair conditioners, lip balm

often contaminated with carcinogens, organ toxicity

How to make the switch in 6 steps

  • 1
    Place all your personal care items in front of you.
  • 2
    Throw out any that are over a year old or that you don't like
  • 3
    Look at any items that you need to replace or will need to replace soon
  • 4
    Select items that you don't currently have a favourite brand that you can't bear to part from
  • 5
    When choosing a natural option either ask your friends for recommendations, try the ones I use and love listed below  or check out the reviews at (affiliate) Nourished Life for the product you need.
  • 6
    Check the ingredients of new products and look up any ingredients you don't know at https://www.ewg.org/skindeep and stick to the lowest risk you can find (I aim for a rating of 1-3)

My go-to products (affiliated)

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    Liquid Soap: Dr Bronner's pure castile liquid soap in various natural scents. I usually cleanse my face with this or just water, but I'm experimenting with making my own cleanser from oats. Watch this space! EWG rating 1 (lowest risk)
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    Deodorant: Black Chicken Remedies deodorant paste or No Pong deodorant paste - I seriously can't pick a favourite, Black Chicken has a neutral scent whereas No Pong smells of lemon. If your skin is irritated by either it is most likely the bi-carb, so choose a bi-carb free option by No Pong.
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    Toothpaste: I used to use Jason Powersmile which is fresh and minty and great for a clean feeling and whitening, I most ecently bought Lavera but I have some concern that it contains Limonene which has some evidence of being hazardous so I will be switching to Grants mint and aloe vera toothpaste
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    Teeth whitener: Get ready to make a mess (comes naturally to me!) with the Warpaint Natural Teeth Whitener, which basically involves rubbing charcoal powder into your teeth. The shower is a good place for this activity! 
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    Mouthwash: I occasionally remember to oil pull (gargle with oil such as coconut oil) which is super cleansing to the mouth and provides nutrients for the teeth and gums and keeps breath sweet. I swear by it, but you don't need a fancy expensive product, just any good quality ​coconut oil
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    Sunscreen: I love when the product I like is a cheapie, as is the case with this Life Basics SPF 30 Sunscreen
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    Mascara: I love the gentle Ere Perez Almond Oil Mascara, it smudges easily when just applied but works beautifully.
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     Mineral foundation: I was using an Ere Perez one which lasted years but it's no longer available at my online shop so I'll be shopping around for this one
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    Facial moisturiser: When I'm not too lazy my favourite moisturiser by far is the one I make myself. You can find the recipe here.  If I can't be bothered then I look for facial oils that include jojoba and rosehip but not coconut oil, which tends to clog pores and cause breakouts.
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     Lipstick: I'm choosing a colour from the Luk Lip Nourish Tasting Plate. I wear so little lipstick this sample collection is probably all I need!
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    Hair dye: I use a hair dye based on henna. It's a bit of a hassle because it needs to be mixed a few hours before use and I'm kind of a spontaneous person, and it needs to be on my hair smelling like a cow pat for at least 3 hours. That being said it's natural and works pretty well, with good but not perfect grey coverage. The brand is Desert Shadow and there is a good selection of colours.
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    Shampoo and conditioner: My hair is like noone else's so we al have different needs, and I tend to vary my choices. I currently use 100% Pure shampoo and Acure conditioner.
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    Hair gel: I buy this locally, Miessence Hair Styling Gel which uses aloe vera gel as a base and doesn't dry out my hair
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     Menstrual products: I bought a social enterprise cup called Ruby Cup, but there are plenty pf good choices these days; I find these great as they last all day but sometimes aren't 100% so I combine with Modibodi underwear, also great for light days or overnight. For purer versions of the traditionals I use TOMs tampons and pads

Now I'd love to hear from you! I'm still learning all the products out there and as you can tell, while I have some products that are very effective and very pure, I'm a bit less committed to others. Please share any pure products you love in the comments below, so we can all benefit from each other.

November 14, 2017

The letter you were meant to receive

I have a beautiful journal, in which I write letters to my daughter Ava Grace. I've been doing this since I was pregnant with her. I tell her the story of her birth, my hopes for her, how we chose her name and of course how dear she is to us.

Recently I knew I must write her all the things I want to make sure she will always know, her whole life. As I wrote I realised they were things we all need to remember, so this specific letter is for you, too. In case someone forgot to tell you. Or if you stopped believing it. These words are written through me but not by me - they are words from your loved ones, from your truest self, from Life, to You. Please keep this letter where you can refer to it whenever you need to.

Dearest,

There are certain things in life it is so important that you know, and always remember. These things are few and simple, but essential. Here they are:

You are SO loved

You are deeply protected

You are divinely guided

You matter

You are seen

You are heard

You have unique gifts

The world needs you

You are here for a specific purpose

Your life matters

I love you.


Let me know below - -what will you be adding to your letter? 

And if you would like more heart healing, then sign up below for my free gift to you, 7 steps to self love. xo

October 3, 2017

11 Things I Learnt About Stress and Burnout

  1. It's possible to hide stress and burnout from yourself for a really long time. Be self aware and be honest with yourself. The price of suppressing how you truly are is way too high.
  2. Thriving on stress can flip to burnout in the blink of an eye. Even if you're thriving, implement massive self compassion and care to keep on the healthy side of the line.
  3. Stress is involved as a contributing or exacerbating factor in almost every health problem. It stands to reason that stress management needs to be part of every health solution.
  4. Stress and burnout are holistic conditions that impact on our mind, emotions and physiology. Learn to support all of these aspects of yourself when going through a stressful period in order to avoid burnout.
  5.  Sleep deprivation makes it that much harder to deal with stress or recover from burnout. Get some strategies for better sleep here.
  6. Self care becomes even more important, but can feel impossible to find time for in amongst the chaos. Start small and find a way here.
  7. Burnout occurs when stress continues for too long. We may not be able to control all the events in our life but we can manage our interpretation of them.
  8. Sometimes our early warning signs are indirect. We may not notice we are stressed but may note we are getting headaches, snapping at loved ones, using distractions (food, shopping, candy crush, Facebook....) or avoiding certain situations.
  9. Three foundational keys will always help with the stress in life - simplifying your life, being self-compassionate, and using nature to heal yourself through nutrition, natural health care and being in the presence of natural beauty.
  10. Burnout helps us see the essence of things, the parts of our lives that truly matter. We can then strip away the rest and learn to lead more fulfilling lives.
  11. Often, burnout can teach us about our choices that we don't even know we're making. Ask yourself: "Am I taking on other people's problems as my own?" and "Am I in this situation because of people-pleasing?" and "How are my habits serving or hindering me in this?" . The answers to these questions may give you some good hints as to how to recover. 

Now I'd like to hear from you. What strategies will you be implementing to avoid or recover from stress and burnout? Let me know in the comments! And if this post could help someone you know, share the love.

​For more on managing stress by dealing with dysfunctional thoughts, sign up below.

September 24, 2017

Surfing the Overwhelm

My childhood summers were carefree ones. I stayed with my best friend at her beach house, and we spent our days running barefoot to the beach, taping (yep, it was that long ago!) songs from the radio and learning to bodyboard.

It took some practice. The waves were big enough to dump us, leaving us disorientated and not knowing which way was up. We had to learn to anticipate the wave as it came, to know when to jump on, and to paddle hard enough to stay afloat.

Overwhelm can feel like this. It's certainly a powerful enough experience to completely disorientate us, to leave us gasping and not sure how we might get through to the other side. But like a wave, we can learn to ride it. I've been dumped by the waves of overwhelm before, and know that enough waves one after the other can lead to longer term stress, anxiety and burnout. Learning to ride overwhelm is pivotal to staying afloat in our lives.

First, we need to become better at seeing it coming. For me, it creeps in by stealth through coping strategies like escapist TV/ social media, craving junk foods or feeling tired at the thought of what I feel I need to do. I now know these are my warning signs, and use them as a cue to cut back on projects and expectations, prioritise sleep and keep life simple.

Next, we learn our limits. I used to say that I had only 2 states at work - boredom or overwhelm. I always wanted more projects, more working parties and more clients to stay engaged and excited. But it was the finest line between engagement and becoming stressed and counter-productive. Too many projects and this adrenaline-junkie approach to life is intertwined with stress. The answer is not boredom! It lies in engaging more deeply rather than more broadly. Instead of flitting over 100 projects, deeply connect to a handful. Be present and practice mindfulness to draw fulfilment from life, rather than the pursuit of shiny objects.

We practice ​managing the expectations of others. I used to assume that those in both my personal and professional life expected me to bend over backwards for them, the way I expected this from myself. So imagine my surprise after a period of grief and burnout, when I set new limits in all my key relationships and no one battered an eyelid. Try it for yourself, you'll be amazed how the world keeps turning as before.

And finally, I surgically removed the word "should" from my vernacular. True, it tends to grow back from time to time, but I just cut it out more vigorously than before. If you take nothing else, try at least this. A large part of overwhelm lies within our own thoughts. When we remove the "shoulds" from our thinking, we allow ourselves room to fall short, to breathe, to be gentle to ourselves.​

When we do these things, we see the wave becomes smaller and more manageable as it rolls towards us. We find strength to paddle, and may even enjoy the ride.​

If you'd like to reclaim your time and ​learn to surf the overwhelm, I have a great 3 day video program, completely free for you below. And I'd love to hear from you - which of these strategies will you be using to surf the overwhelm? Let me know below! xo

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