The Truth About Tough LoveI emailed a friend a draft version of one of my posts recently, hoping to get her opinion on the piece.

After speaking to her, I got the impression that she thought my words were a little harsh.

After rereading the draft, I decided to delete some wording (which is the purpose of a draft after all).

But my friends comment got me thinking.

Whilst I don’t want to come across as harsh or preachy, there are times when what we all need (including me!) is tough love.

We need to face some hard truths.

We need to understand that the way to move forward is through self-discipline. 

We need to understand that sometimes the only way to get the job done is to get in and do the work.

No amount of excuses will alter that fact.

We need to be accountable and not let ourselves off the hook for not doing what we know needs to be done.

A good (albeit gentle) kick can do wonders to shake loose our endless reasons for putting things off, not following through or not finishing.

The tough love lowdown is this. We can’t keep making excuses for ourselves and expect to live an extraordinary life.

What extraordinary things do you want to achieve? More importantly what actions are you prepared to take right now to make it happen?

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iStock_Stop Using Guilt to Get What You Want

I was chatting to one of my female friends recently when she bought me up to speed on a current dating phenomenon.

It involves a lot of texting. It involves some flirting via text, a few harmless (fully clothed – be smart about this folks) photos back and forth which can go on for weeks and sometimes months. My friend reports that she often gets texts from guys out of the blue after not hearing from them for up to a year!

The interesting thing about this dating phenomenon is that it often doesn’t involve an actual date.

Do we still do those? You remember them, back when people met in person out in public and talked to each other. Pretty sure they used to call it this thing called ‘getting to know one another’.

Sure lots of people are texting and meeting in person but it’s definitely not for dates. It’s more for hooking up or known in my day as a fling. Short, brief, over. Fling.

There is nothing wrong with flings. Except when you are seeking a relationship with the person. Then they are simply empty and disappointing.

Texting is not a relationship.

People who are looking for a relationship will most likely be peeved if you keep texting but never suggest an actual date.

People who are looking for a relationship will be offended if you text constantly and then try to arrange a hook up when you haven’t even met!

I hate to break the news to you but you don’t have a relationship if you are simply texting each other and haven’t met in person. Twenty random text messages does not a relationship make.

Besides if you are texting one person (with no indication of any sort of date on the horizon) who’s to say you’re not texting a dozen people at the same time. If you are texting a dozen people, misleading each one – stop now! It’s bad form.

I fully appreciate the need to engage with a person before deciding if you want to meet them. It makes sense to see if you have anything in common first. You don’t want to get on a date and have nothing to talk about.

I’m just saying text is probably not the best format for getting to know someone. Email is the better option.

Big tip – don’t freak out if you don’t get a response to text or email 5 minutes later. People have jobs, commitments and responsibilities and may take time to respond.

If you are sitting with your mobile phone or laptop repeatedly checking messages, you might want to back away from the technology and go work on that having a life thing yourself.

Abusing someone because they didn’t write back quickly enough won’t help your cause. What it will do is send the person running for the hills (and rightfully so)!

If you mutually decide that you want to meet each other then do something about it.

Be brave and ask the person out!

If they say yes – fantastic. If they so no, take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back for being courageous and move on.

No getting upset or being nasty. Simply move on. This particular person is not for you.

Think of it as dodging a bullet instead of feeling rejected. Moving onto someone right for you is better than dating (or worse marrying) the wrong person then breaking up a couple of years down the track and having to start all over again this time with a broken heart or a bitter disposition.

Texting is not a relationship.

If you are looking for something real, don’t fall into this trap.

You deserve better.

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I don’t generally write about dating, so I would love to hear your thoughts on this one. Leave your feedback in the comments section below.

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The Joys of Being Single

With Valentine’s Day this weekend, it can sometimes be a challenging times for singles.

Let’s face it singles get a lot of bad press in the media.

With a mainstream show like ‘The Big Bang Theory’ representing all singles as lonely losers sitting at home crying to themselves on Saturday night or singing to sappy music aka Bridget Jones style it’s time to start talking about the joys of being single.

Yes being single can have it’s down moments but hey so can being married.

Singledom is often tarred with the ageist brush. It’s seems fine to be single in your twenties but heaven forbid if you are still single in your thirties or beyond! Well I say enough of that shit – it’s time to set the record straight.

Here are some of the great things about being single.

Freedom

Ahhh freedom. There is nothing quite as exhilarating as being able to do what you want, when you want. Weekends away with friends, dinners, movies you name it.

Freedom means having time to pursue your own hobbies and interests. It means doing stuff you totally love or not doing much at all. It’s totally up to you.

Granted sometimes you might have to do some things on your own but when you are comfortable with who you are and enjoy your own company – that’s not a bad thing.

Financial freedom

You work hard for your money. You get to spend it how and when you want.

You don’t have to worry about taking on anyone else’s debt or financial problems.

You can travel and work overseas

This is a biggie. Whilst it is part of the freedom package being a traveller myself, it’s worth a special mention.

When you are single you can travel whenever and wherever you want. You can take a year off and travel overseas (as someone who has done this I highly recommend it – you will have a total blast!) or you can accept a job overseas without worrying about how it is going to affect your partner or children.

You can work on your friendships

Being single gives you a great chance to work on your friendships. Regardless of your age, it’s a great opportunity to deeply connect with people in a meaningful way.

If you are single and sitting around moping about not having a partner – stop right now! It’s time to have some fun. Connect with a friend, get out there and enjoy yourself.

No one telling you what to do

This is a big benefit of being single and living by yourself. No one bossing you around, telling you to do this or do that.

No one nagging you. I know a lot of married people who secretly wish for less nagging.

You don’t have anyone to fight with

One part of relationships that I definitely don’t miss being single is the fighting.

Whilst I realize that every couple fights and disagrees on things, as we all know some couples take that to the extreme.

Some couples fight constantly, ripping shreds off each other and saying horrible things they can never take back. Constantly being at each others throats is emotionally exhausting.

No compromising for your partner

Compromise is a part of life whether you are single or not. That’s just a fact.

But let’s face it we have all seen people in relationships that compromise way too much. I used to be the ‘compromise queen’, so I definitely know what I’m talking about with this one!

Some people compromise to the point where they are completely miserable and full of resentment.

They end up giving up everything they like and hand their life over to another person on a silver platter.

Not healthy, not cool and not conducive to a happy partnership.

Being single means you are not with the wrong person 

As I have mentioned before, there is nothing more lonely than being in a relationship and feeling completely alone.

You have someone you love dearly sitting next to you but you feel completely alone.

They don’t get you, understand or respect you. You have trouble communicating and you feel like you have totally different values and separate interests. Your conversations range from barely talking to screaming at each other. Yet there they are sitting next to you.

I’m not knocking relationships, being with the right person is wonderful and a true blessing but being with the wrong person is loneliness personified.

You have time to heal and work through your issues

A lot of people through pure fear of not wanting to be alone, go from one relationship to another (often overlapping them) hurting people along the way.

Being single is the best time to get your head together and work through your issues so that you have a clear head and an open heart when someone amazing comes along.

Yes it can be hard and yes you may experience some loneliness along the way – but it’s worth it.

It’s not someone else’s job to heal your old wounds from previous relationships or childhood – it’s your job. Work through your baggage and you will have a lot more to offer someone going forward (you will also be a hell of a lot happier within yourself).

You get to spend time by yourself

I realize reading that scares a lot of people. One of the big fears some people have is spending time by themselves.

This is often because people don’t like themselves very much.

Admittedly sometimes we can spend too much time alone.

I love spending time by myself because I enjoy my own company but even I know that sometimes too much time alone can cause me to go a bit stir crazy. When I was working from home by myself (which I absolutely loved!) there were times when I noticed I wasn’t getting enough social interaction. First giveaway, I would start to feel down for no reason.

The good part was that it was easy to fix. Spending time out of the house with friends lifted my mood immediately.

Regardless of whether you are single or married enjoying time by yourself is good for your health and wellbeing.

Unconditional love

Think being single means no love in your life. Well that’s just rubbish!

Whether you are single, married, engaged, divorced, have six kids or no kids you always a form of love in your life.

Always.

Take one guess where that comes from? Inside of you.

No matter what your relationship status is you should always love yourself unconditionally. That means faults and all.

It means forgiving yourself, learning from your mistakes and your successes and being the best version of yourself possible.

This Valentine’s Day weekend regardless of whether you are in a relationship or not – rejoice and celebrate the most important relationship you will ever have – the glorious, beautiful one you have with yourself.

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Stop Looking Behind You

“Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.” – Unknown

It’s amazing how many thoughts pop into your head when you are in the shower.

After talking to a close friend about her partner recently, it got me thinking about relationships and breakups.

Mid shower I started thinking about one of my ex-boyfriends who caused me a lot of pain back in the day. To be honest, I don’t think about my ex’s much any more, so it came as a bit of a surprise.

I remembered taking him back after he cheated on me and how I moved to another city for him only to have him dump me three months later. To add insult to injury, I took him back only to have him cheat on me again.

For a moment I wondered what had become of him. For a split second I thought of looking him up on Facebook.

Then I thought –

Why?

Why the hell would I do that?

Why would I want to see what he is doing years down the track? Whilst I hope he is doing well as a fellow human being, I have no interest in knowing any details of his life now.

He is firmly in the past and that is where he will stay.

All too often we get caught up in the unhealthy habit of dwelling on the past.

I am definitely not saying you should stick you head in the sand and deny that your past happened.

You need to deal with the wounds of old relationships or similar situations will only continue to surface in your life.  But once you have done the hard yards (and some of it will be incredibly hard), it’s time to move on and not look back.

There can be positives to thinking about former flames. For me, it’s realizing how much I have grown as a person.

In many ways I am a different person now. I have a much higher sense of self-esteem (celebrations to that!), I’m not attracted to the same sorts of people I used to be, I have a completely different set of values and I am much smarter about the choices I make in my life.

Sometimes it’s not just about putting your ex behind you, it’s about putting your old self behind you as well.

It’s about fessing up to your mistakes (I did keep taking him back when I should have kicked him to the curb), learning from them and most of all forgiving yourself.

Often it’s not our ex-partners we need forgiveness from but ourselves.

Just on growth and maturity, there is something important to mention here. We naturally assume that because we get older we grow as a person and get more mature with our decisions, particularly when it come to relationships. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case. I have seen plenty of people in their 50’s and even 60’s making some damn awful relationship choices.

Be aware personal growth and maturity are not always the same thing.

The next time you find yourself wandering down memory lane, make your thoughts about your personal growth and not about your ex.

And whatever you do stay away from Facebook!

Live in this moment – right now – and focus on making your future bright, exciting and bloody wonderful!

Focus your energy and love on the future because that’s the direction you’re going.

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Pay Close Attention to Your Inner Dialogue

I had an interesting experience last week. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and suddenly my inner dialogue came up with a bold sweeping statement that went something like this –

My life’s a mess!

I’ll give you one guess how I felt after this thought. You guessed it – I felt 10 times worse. I instantly starting thinking about all the things that weren’t going well in my life.

It’s incredible how a couple of simple words strung together can make us feel. The problem with these sweeping generalisations is that they sink in.

Imagine if you walked around thinking to yourself – ‘My life sucks’ over and over again all day.

This sort of constant negativity will drag you down. If you keep telling yourself your life sucks, surprise surprise it will feel like it does – regardless of anything good happening in your life.

Here are my two tips for snapping yourself out of this mindset quickly.

Firstly rephrase your thinking.

Make a more accurate statement. For me that was something like – “I need to spend time concentrating on the housework but my whole life is not a mess”.

It might sound simple but rephrasing statements by taking out the negativity and emotion can make a difference.

The second step, particularly if your statement is action based is to come up with a plan of attack.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious (which let’s face it is when we are most likely to self-sabotage) the quickest way to overcome these feelings it to take action. You might not be able to do something straight away but you can plan to act later.

Make up a list of the top 3 things you can do as soon as possible to make you feel better.

Don’t make up a stinking long to do list at this stage – this is what I used to do and it always made me feel more overwhelmed than ever.

Focus on priorities that will help dissolve your negative mindset. They may be quite simple tasks but it’s amazing how some of the simplest things can make us feel better and more in control.

For me it’s often posting on this blog. Posting is always an instant lift for me because I know I have achieved something that is important to me.

Pay close attention to your self-talk. Rephrase your negative thoughts and turn them into something more factual (rather than sweeping generalizations).

Prioritize and take action to get yourself into the right head space to continue being the wonderful, positive soul you are.

Stop the self-bullying! Be kind to yourself instead.

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My Top 10 Thought Provoking QuotesI love a good quote and let’s face it there are a lot of good ones out there.

Today I wanted to share my top 10 thought-provoking quotes and talk about what they mean to me.

Let’s go!

“The problem is you think you have time.” – Buddha

This quote packs a punch. It pulls at my heartstrings a little. It reminds me that we are all going to die (not something we like to think about but true for us all none the less).

It motivates me to get off my butt and do something now. Not tomorrow – now. Because you don’t know how many tomorrow’s you are going to have.

“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.” – Robin Sharma

This one I only found recently but it has really left an impression on me. You might live a very long life but not do much with it. It inspires me to keep stepping out of my comfort zone and to learn to embrace change and opportunity.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

Got to love a good Gandhi quote. Want to change the world. Start with yourself – work forward from there. Lead by example and inspire and motivate people.

“Be Yourself: Everybody else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

Most people know this quote. I think this one is brilliant. It’s a reminder to be you. No matter what. Be you. Be your funny, amazing, flawed, incredible, scared, motivated, loving self!

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I remember this quote when I compare myself to others or feel vulnerable. We all need to stop giving people permission to make us feel bad about ourselves.

‘The only person you should try to be better than was the person you were yesterday.” – Unknown

This one reminds me that the only person I am competing with is myself. As long as I am improving and growing at my own pace, it doesn’t matter what other people are doing.

“Life is like a rollercoaster it has its ups and downs. But it’s your choice to scream or enjoy the ride.” – Unknown

Ups and downs are part of life. It’s our attitude to the good and the bad that determines how happy and peaceful we feel. Always remember you have a choice.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Apple Inc.

This was part of a marketing campaign from Apple in the late 90’s and similar to a poem from Jake Kerouac back in the day. Regardless of its origin – it’s immensely powerful. It reminds me of the power of an individual. It reminds me that the misfits and black sheep can do amazing things. It makes we feel alive, creative and inspired to be a doer!

“Be nice to yourself. It’s hard to be happy when someone’s mean to you all the time.” – Unknown

This one is simple but straight to the point. Stop being mean to yourself. Instead be your own best friend and personal cheer squad.

“Your quirks are what make you interesting. Embrace them.” – The Blogcademy Online

I absolutely love this! It encourages me not to hide my quirks but to embrace them and let them shine. Whilst it was originally written for bloggers it applies to everyone beautifully.

Embrace your quirk!

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Drop the Fear of Not Being an ExpertWhen I am writing this blog, I sometimes worry that I don’t have a degree/initials after my name or a fancy job title.

When I have these awkward moments of self-doubt I remind myself of what I DO have!

I have experience. 

Experience has taught me a lot.

Don’t go thinking that experience only means trauma and hardship. You don’t need to be the king or queen of misery to learn and grow (and hopefully help other people).

Once I started thinking about my own unique life experiences, I realized I have a lot to draw inspiration from. Here are just a few that spring to mind.

– I have done my fair share of travelling. I’ve travelled with groups, with a partner, with friends as well as spending a lot of time travelling on my own.

– Though I have never been married, I have had my heart-broken many times. What’s really important is that I have recovered each and every time without becoming bitter. I have lived with partners, had long distance relationships, been forced to start again with nothing and learned that sometimes what we think is love isn’t love at all. Yet here I am more strong and confident than ever!

– I have dealt with being adopted and survived my parents messy, horrible divorce – not going too crazy in the process. Okay there were moments I went a little crazy but I sorted through them as well.

– I have some incredible friends. I have friendships that have stood the test of time and everything that life has thrown at us.

– I have lived alone and totally loved it. Over the years I have had to overcome bouts of loneliness and despair. Experience has taught me the difference between being lonely and being alone. It’s helped me love spending time by myself because now I know I am worth the time.

– I’ve started my own solo business and had to pick up the pieces when failure came calling. Big learning curve on that one!

– Most importantly I have dealt with crippling low self-esteem and turned it into loving myself and accepting myself for who I really am.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. These are just the things I came up with daydreaming on the bus recently. There is so much more I could add to this list.

I’m not telling you all this to take an ego trip or blow my own trumpet. The reason I am telling you this is to get you thinking about your own amazing life experiences.

Now it’s your turn to think about all of the things you have done, overcome, achieved and learned along the way.

To make sure your daydreaming doesn’t turn into a misery fest (you don’t want this to be a poor me list!) with each item you come up with make sure it has a positive element.

Make sure your list is about how you have grown, matured and had a hell of a lot of fun!

We all have our own experiences. We all have areas where we have experience and expertise.

We can all contribute and add value.

We are all experts in our own unique and wonderful way.

If you can use your expertise and experience to make someone smile, help them through a tough moment or make them feel better about themselves then bravo I say!

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It's Not What You Know It's What You DoI was on the train the other day when I finished the ebook I had been reading. As I got to the end of the book I realized something interesting.

Besides one or two minor details, I knew most of the information in the book. Whilst the book was inspirational (which is good), I realised I hadn’t learnt all that much from reading it.

I know the information already.

What struck me next was astounding. Despite the fact that I know the information already – the kicker is that I am not doing what I know. I know the information but I’m not applying it.

It’s not about what you know. It’s not about how smart you are or how many books you have read or degrees you have or businesses you want to start.

It’s about what you actually DO with that knowledge that changes everything.

I often buy books hoping to learn a particular piece of information, yet the more I read the more I realize that many don’t have the level of detail that I am looking for.

As hard as this may be to accept sometimes – the detail only comes from doing.

Detail comes from experience and doing the task yourself. It comes from stumbling through and learning from mistakes (a concept which scares a lot of people).

It doesn’t matter what you read in a book or learn on the net, it’s what you DO that matters.

What are you planning on DOING today?

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Sexy Word of the Week - New YearBetween nightly news and Internet news updates it’s easy to wonder – Where the hell is the joy?

With regular reports of chaos and violence it can be hard to feel joyful.

Times of trouble make it even more important to remember there is joy in the world.

Joy is everywhere.

Sometimes it can feel like its hiding, but it’s there!

Joy is in every day people and their actions and dreams. It’s in nature, in love, in beauty, in the animals around us.

It really is everywhere, we just need to tap into it regularly.

Each of us has our own source of inner joy.

One of the easiest ways to connect to joy instantly is to live in the moment. Be in the moment (turn off the television/mobile phone/iPad first and you will find being in the moment a lot easier).

Being in the moment involves connection. Connection is the true source of joy. Connection to your heart, your soul. To the core of who you are.

Feel the joy. 

Let it sweep over you. Be grateful for what you have instead of worrying about what you don’t have.

Be in the moment and feel joyous.

Have faith in other people and be true to yourself. Believe in possibility and opportunity instead of limitations.

Smile more. Be kind. Help others. Be thoughtful instead of fearful.

There is joy everywhere – tap into it. Better still be a shining beacon of joy for yourself and others.

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Stop Waiting for AcceptanceIt’s human nature to want to be accepted by the people closest to us.

Yet sometimes the people closest to us can be the most critical and judgmental. Criticism can be rough, particularly when it comes from people we love or respect.

Often we bend ourselves inside out seeking people’s approval. In the process we lose parts of ourselves.

Here are my tips on how to stop waiting for acceptance.

Stop being a people pleaser

You can’t please everyone so do yourself a favour and stop trying.

People pleasers go out of their way trying to make sure everyone is happy, often making themselves miserable or exhausted in the process.

If you are a people pleaser, now is the time to ask yourself why you do it?

Dig deep for the real reasons you try to please everyone. Is it a control mechanism, fear of rejection if you say no, are you seeking validation or recognition, are you doing it to secretly get something back in return? Work out your why and then you have a place to start modifying your behavior.

Stop explaining yourself

Someone criticised my lifestyle recently and I found myself giving a long explanation for why I do certain things. I found myself seeking acceptance.

It wasn’t until a couple of days later, I realised what I had done and how completely unnecessary that explanation was as I have the right to make my own choices.

Feeling vulnerable made me feel like I had to explain myself. Be aware of when this happens and who this happens with (our parents is a classic example). Accept there are moments when we feel vulnerable but each time hold your ground. Over time we can work at not explaining or justifying ourselves.

Align with your values

If you align your actions and thoughts with your values you will have a much stronger sense of self.

Notice I said YOUR values. I didn’t mention anything about your parents, partner, grandparents, sister or brother.

YOUR values.

If you don’t know what your values are, you need to work on that pronto!

Stop trying to get people with different values to accept you

This is particularly relevent for families. Yes we love our families but why do we bend ourselves into pretzels trying to have people accept us who have a completely different set of values to our own?

Why do we let other people who do not share our own values and beliefs define us? 

Seriously when you think about it, it’s a little bit nuts!

Let people have their values and stick steadfastly to yours but stop beating your head against a brick wall trying to get them to accept your values.

People can still love each other and have different values.

Validate yourself from within

Way too often we look outside ourselves for validation. We need other people to tell us we are attractive or smart or valuable as a human being. We let other people define our worth instead or owning our self-worth.

Well enough of that horse shit!

You were valuable as a human being the minute you were born and you have stayed that way ever since.

It’s time we accept ourselves (flaws and strengths combined) instead of relying on other people to do it for us.

People have their own agendas, their own insecurities to deal with and often their own reasons for holding us back or trying to control us.

If your actions and thoughts align with your values, you won’t need outside validation. Your sense of self-worth and acceptance should always come from within.

Some days we struggle (which is completely okay) and need to give ourselves a reminder of who we are and what we represent but our internal light of self-worth is always shining, we just have to be courageous enough to let it led our way and always believe in its presence and power.

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Shine on!

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