Total Balance Coaching Melbourne https://totalbalance.com.au Business. Creativity. Life Thu, 28 May 2020 07:12:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Unlock your creative confidence https://totalbalance.com.au/unlocking-your-creative-confidence/ Thu, 28 May 2020 07:11:55 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=17066 When I was growing up, my family moved to a new city every couple of years. Almost always being the new girl in school meant that my books, and the characters within them, were my most treasured and constant friends. During my teenage years, I...

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When I was growing up, my family moved to a new city every couple of years. Almost always being the new girl in school meant that my books, and the characters within them, were my most treasured and constant friends.

During my teenage years, I wrote poetry in my head to help make sense of the world. Later I scribbled those poems on scraps of paper and posted them off to my favourite magazines. A couple were even published.

As I wandered the bush tracks and climbed the gum trees around our different homes, I began to dream of oneday becoming a writer. I imagined my future career and thought about how I could blend my love of thinking deeply and and writing to help people who felt like outsiders, as I had often been.

In my mid-30s, I finally realised that dream when I started my own coaching business. Now I had the opportunity to support other people and a legitimate reason to share my writing with the world. While I was truly excited to do both those things, writing for others to read suddenly felt far less exhilarating than I had imagined it would be. In fact, it was utterly nerve-wracking. I seriously contemplated giving it away before I’d even begun.

I struggled to get the right words on the page and when I re-read what I’d written, it felt clunky and unnatural. By the time I drafted my first short article, I had six people on my mailing list (and two of them were family). I can still remember my nervousness before I hit send on that first newsletter. I was worried that my work was a long way from good enough and because I cared so much about writing, this small act felt more important than any other step I’d taken in my professional life.

I’ve come to learn that apprehension like this is usually present for all of us when we set out to do what we love, and it’s almost always the case when we embark on a new creative journey. When we share our creative work, we’re sharing from the deepest part of ourselves –– it’s no wonder we have moments of self-doubt.

This is the time when your inner critic’s voice becomes the loudest, cautioning you to be careful and sensible and not to make a fool of yourself. Your critic might tell you it’s safer not to try at all or at least to wait until you’ve taken another class or had another few hundred hours of practice.

The reality is that even with another qualification or a solid bank of hours, stepping over that line to put your work in the hands of other people, not just for the first time but maybe even every time, is likely to make you feel vulnerable and possibly even flawed.

The irony is that it’s those very imperfections, the very humanness of you, that will make you most relatable and real.

Over the years, I’ve found that it gets easier to hit the send button and there are also practices I’ve embraced that help to quieten my inner critic and keep me feeling grounded and calm.

Be yourself, as much as you can

When I first started writing, I wanted to come across as intelligent, so I used bigger words and wrote more formally than I would ever speak. As I became more confident, I began to find my natural voice which made writing less effort and I suspect, easier for my audience to read. It has helped to remember that no matter how well I write, some people are still not going to like my work. I stopped trying to please everyone and instead, started writing from the heart.

Remember your purpose

If you haven’t taken the time to work out your ‘why’, do this now. What is the difference you want to make most in the world with your creative work? Stay true to this and always keep it top of mind. When you find yourself questioning whether to continue or having moments of self-doubt, come back to your sense of purpose.

Go gently, give yourself time

Take the pressure off. You don’t need to hurry. You can take as long as you need. If you’re under pressure to make an income from your creative work, it’s ok to take a part-time role while you build confidence with your creative process.

Be mindful, be present

Take a deep breath and come back to this present moment. Be grateful for what you’ve already achieved. Remember to celebrate the small milestones and remind yourself that the journey is often more important than the destination.

Be inspired by others, not deflated

Even when you’re on the right track, there will always be someone further along the path than you. Try not to compare yourself with others (as difficult as this can be at times) but rather, allow the people you admire to be your inspiration.

Reconnect with the real world

It can sometimes be addictive and alluring to spend time in the online world, but it may not be the place where you’ll feel most grounded. Block out chunks of time every day to be offline. Reconnect with your ‘real life’ relationships and spend time in nature to clear your head and to remind you that there’s so much in this world to be thankful for.

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Ten guided meditations for beginners https://totalbalance.com.au/ten-guided-meditations-for-beginners/ Thu, 21 May 2020 06:44:55 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=16975 Almost five years ago to the day, a thoughtful client of mine from Spain, Carmen, sent me an email to ask if I’d be open to sharing my meditations on the free meditation app, Insight Timer. I was using the app myself and loved it,...

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Almost five years ago to the day, a thoughtful client of mine from Spain, Carmen, sent me an email to ask if I’d be open to sharing my meditations on the free meditation app, Insight Timer. I was using the app myself and loved it, but hadn’t thought to reach out to ask if they’d be open to me contributing my own meditations.

Originally developed in the US, the app had been purchased just a couple of months earlier by a couple of Australian guys, Christopher and Nicholas Plowman, who were looking for a way to share their love of meditation with the world. After Carmen’s email, I emailed and later met with the lovely Maddy Gerard, who was head of new content at the time.

Over the ensuing five years, I’ve shared many of my meditations and a ten-day course on the Insight Timer app and it has been a joy to get to know the Insight community and work with the Insight team. In every way, this has been the most rewarding collaboration.

Now home to over 15 million meditators and sharing 45,000 free meditations, Christopher and Nicho are doing their bit to create a more peaceful and conscious world, one person at a time, by offering meditation at no costs.

Today is World Meditation Day so I thought it was the perfect time to share my favourite Insight Timer meditations for absolute beginners in the hope that maybe I can play a small part in continuing to spread the word. Please feel free to share this post on your own channels.

1. Compassionate Body Scan by Vidyamala Burch (15 mins)

A body scan meditation is probably one of the easiest ways to meditate when you’re a complete beginner. Vidyamala has a lovely voice and her guided meditations are spoken without background music. This track will help you to let go of physical stress and tension.

2. Mindfulness of Thoughts Meditation by Meg James (10 mins)

I’m a bit biased about Meg’s meditations because she’s my daughter. She has a beautiful, gentle voice and her meditation is backed by soothing music. This is a great meditation to help you to become more mindful of the unhelpful ways you think.

3. Breath and Awareness by Tara Brach (7 mins)

Tara Brach is a psychologist and mindfulness teacher, whose work is underpinned by her training in Buddhism. Her work in the self-compassion space has had a great impact in my personal life and also in the work that I do with my clients. This is an excellent introduction to breath meditation.

4. Quick Confidence by Andrew Johnson (6 mins)

Andrew is trained in clinical hypnotherapy so his meditations are both deeply relaxing and powerful in their capacity for helping cultivate mental change. This meditation will help you to feel more relaxed about yourself while also cultivating a newfound sense of confidence. Backed by soothing music.

5. Mountain Meditation by Andy Hobson (15 mins)

Andy is someone who truly embodies his work. He composes his own music which is introduced a few minutes into this meditation. Andy’s meditations offer patches of silence, which I personally really love. This is an excellent track to help you feel more stable, grounded and calm.

6. Healing Through Letting Go with Sarah Blondin (12 mins)

Sarah’s meditations are quite unique. Her voice is beautifully soothing and her writing is insightful, reflective, vulnerable and poetic. This track includes music that comes in at around the four minute mark. I think you’ll find this meditation deeply nurturing.

7. Mindful Awareness Meditation by me (10 mins)

I thought I’d include one of my meditations too in this collection. This one is a simple mindful awareness meditation to help you pay deliberate attention to internal and external experiences.

8. Yoga Nidra by Zoe Kanat (15 mins)

Yoga Nidra is one of the easiest ways to access a deep state of relaxation while maintaining full consciousness, making it a form of meditation truly rejuvenating for the body and mind. Zoe’s yoga nidra is a great length for someone starting out with this practice. It’s backed by a relaxing music track.

9. Yoga Nidra for Sleep Meditation with Jennifer Piercy (15 mins)

Jennifer is Insight Timer’s sleep guru and this deeply relaxing yoga nidra practice will help to induce sleep naturally. Use it as you transition into sleep.

10. Slowing Down Your Mind by Davidji (20 mins)

Davidji has the most wonderful deep voice and he uses a traditional Sanskrit mantras in his meditations, which makes them feel a little more spiritual. This track is maybe better practised after you’ve tried some of the others as it includes around seven minutes of silence while you focus on the mantra.

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How to find your purpose in life https://totalbalance.com.au/find-your-life-purpose/ Fri, 01 May 2020 01:01:43 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=15767 How do you find your purpose in life? For some of us, it feels completetly elusive. We read stories about people like the Nobel prize-winning scientists harnessing the body’s immune system to fight cancer or the seventh-generation farmer from Illinois who started a sustainable food movement or the...

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How do you find your purpose in life? For some of us, it feels completetly elusive. We read stories about people like the Nobel prize-winning scientists harnessing the body’s immune system to fight cancer or the seventh-generation farmer from Illinois who started a sustainable food movement or the enterprising mother of three, Jodie Harris who started local charity Mums Supporting Families in Need and we feel like our own lives are small and inadequate.

Finding your life purpose can mean a subtle shift

The problem is that we often frame ‘purpose’ as something that needs to be significant. We want it to be visible to others and we usually feel that it’s only truly valid if it’s connected to some external measure of success. We fail to recognise that a purposeful life that is humble and ‘small’ is no less significant than one that is lived out in the public eye.

For most of my introverted clients, the latter is actually more appealing and because it’s also authentic, it’s generally more meaningful too. We still need to remind ourselves that it’s equally valuable.

I was personally reminded of this yesterday after spending four hours with a lovely client (we’ll call her Olivia) who is currently not engaged in paid work, but who is still living a very purposeful life. Olivia has had a successful career but now that she’s not employed (and despite her earlier success) she feels that her life is lacking meaning.

In her early 50s, Olivia is keen to do something that will inspire and energise her and also contribute in some way. When we looked at her strengths and her values, we discovered that she’s engaging these on a daily basis. And to her surprise, we also discovered that she’s already making a difference in other people’s lives in ways that really matter to her, even if she’s not making a living from those efforts.

We spend so much time focusing on what we’re not doing, that we often overlook what is right in front of our eyes.

Like many of us, Olivia was so busy searching that she had failed to see how much purpose she already has in her life.

If you have the same concern, try the following tips to connect with the purposeful moments you already have in your life.

1. How do you find your life purpose?

One of the biggest mistakes we make is to only look to others for inspiration. Being focused outwardly is wonderful if it’s genuinely inspiring, but it can also mean you forget to tune in and listen to your intuition about what ‘purposeful’ might feel like to you.

One way to gain clarity about this is to think about how you’d love to be remembered when you’re no longer here. While it might sound morbid to write your own eulogy, it’s an excellent way to get clear about what really matters and to help you feel more connected with your life purpose.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others

In the same way that we look to others for inspiration, we often compare ourselves once we do find ways of being purposeful. The key is to find your own way of living with purpose and then to get out in the world and do that, regardless of whether someone else is doing it already or doing it in a way that looks more significant or more successful than you imagine you can be.

3. Stop measuring your success in quantifiable terms

Living with purpose is not about numbers. It doesn’t matter if you only make a difference in one person’s life on a single day in a given year – that’s enough.

It’s the intention that counts, not the number of people you help or the dollar figure attached to your efforts.

4. Stop being so hard on yourself

After listening to Olivia’s story, my experience of her was that she is generous and kind and I can see that she’s already making a difference every day. What she sees is all that she’s not doing (because, like all of us, her brain has a strong negative bias).

Remind yourself at the end of every day of the things you have done that were purposeful and if it feels helpful, at the beginning of each new day, think about one small action that will give your life purpose.

5. Get really clear on what matters

One of the main reasons most of us feel that our lives lack purpose is that we haven’t spent the time getting really clear about what our life purpose is. Here’s my simple methodology for doing this.

Get to know your unique strengths and your values; evaluate your life journey and think about the experiences that have shaped you most (both positive and negative). Then consider how you can use your life experience and engage your strengths and values to contribute to others in a way (or ways) that feel that they’ll align with you finding your life purpose. An extra tip here is that often we seek to give what we would love to receive ourselves.

Finally, write out a clear statement of your life purpose (see my example below) and do your best to bring this to life in your every day.

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Finding courage in challenging times https://totalbalance.com.au/finding-courage-in-challenging-times/ Sat, 25 Apr 2020 08:23:13 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=16872 The past few months have been the strangest of times, haven’t they? I don’t think any of us could have anticipated that after drought, bushfire and flooding, we would find ourselves where we are right now. 2020 will certainly be a year etched in history...

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The past few months have been the strangest of times, haven’t they? I don’t think any of us could have anticipated that after drought, bushfire and flooding, we would find ourselves where we are right now. 2020 will certainly be a year etched in history and embedded in each of our individual life stories. There has never been a more important time to build resilience and find courage.

It’s been a difficult and even devastating time for so many people. The challenges ahead are still somewhat unknown but I feel hopeful that the world will be a more considerate and caring place once all of this is over.

I’ve heard so many stories of kindness and courage that it has me thinking, there’s never been a better time to create positive change in our lives. To think about what each of us can do to make this world a better place.

When you’re thinking about how you can contribute, it often helps to reflect on your life purpose and to ask yourself, “What do I have to give? Who can I help the most? And how could I make a difference?”

Moving beyond your fear

A few weeks back, as I was carrying my meditation chair into the garden, I had these questions in mind. I knew that others would probably benefit from meditating with me. Thinking about how I could give helped me to move beyond my long-held discomfort of being in front of the camera. It was an opportunity to brave it and record a meditation video to share.

The sudden effortlessness of this act after so many years of procrastination made me realise that something else had shifted in me too. With so many families around the world grieving the sudden and unexpected loss of loved ones and so much uncertainty about how this pandemic would play out, I felt a sharper sense of the fragility of life.

On any given day, someone we love might be taken from us. The future we so often take for granted may no longer be a given. Getting to something “one-day”, may not always be an option.

Like all of us, I sometimes hold myself back for fear of not being good enough. For not having done all the research, not having all the right experience or not feeling ready yet for all the other excuses I can easily find.

Finding your purpose can help with courage

When I came back to my sense of purpose that morning in the garden and remembered how I want to give, I realised that none of these things matter. There’s no guarantee that there’ll be a next week or a next year to get comfortable with a new challenge, and even if there is, I wonder, why would I want to keep waiting?

It’s ego, don’t you think, that holds us back most often? We worry that we’ll look silly or make a hash of it or maybe someone will criticise us or tell us that we have no business being bold, finding courage or being creative.

If you’re concerned that you don’t have a special ‘thing’ to give or that your small contribution might not really matter in the grand scheme of things, maybe you tell yourself it’s easier (or safer maybe) not to start.

But would it really matter if what we offer impacts only one person? Or if what we give is imperfect?

Brené Brown shares these words of wisdom by Teddy Roosevelt in her book, Daring Greatly.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

shared my video later that morning and I’ve since shared another on Instagram. It felt uncomfortable at first but also good to have tackled that challenge. The funny thing is, those imperfect videos ended up leading to several new work projects. I was invited to team up with Medibank Live Better at Home to offer video tips on how to manage your emotional wellbeing during this tricky time. And I’ve been asked by a few corporate clients to run video mindfulness workshops for their teams.

There’s so much possibility when we get out of our own way.

What would you do if you were daring greatly?

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How to quieten a worrying mind https://totalbalance.com.au/reduce-worry/ Fri, 20 Mar 2020 06:23:13 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=16765 We will all encounter adversity in life at different times and it’s likely there are hurdles to face ahead, but it’s also true that many of the things we worry about don’t actually eventuate. This means that the habit of worry, which uses up precious...

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We will all encounter adversity in life at different times and it’s likely there are hurdles to face ahead, but it’s also true that many of the things we worry about don’t actually eventuate. This means that the habit of worry, which uses up precious mental and physical energy, could be put to use in more effective ways. Which is why we want to learn how to reduce worry and quieten an anxious mind.

If you’re a chronic worrier, it’s generally not possible to just flick a switch and turn the volume down on worrying thoughts, however, there are mindful practices that will help you train your brain to be adept at catching worry when it starts and better manage it.

Before you begin, it’s helpful to make a distinction between the kind of thinking that is helpful problem-solving thinking vs worry. For the most part, the first kind of thinking involves reflecting and finding practical steps to address an existing problem. This thinking is generally focused on a specific issue and has an end-point. Worry, on the other hand, is habitual thinking with a strong negative bias. It’s often repetitive and unproductive, without any clear end-point in sight. Worry can sometimes be reframed into problem-solving. For example, in the case of COVID-19, our minds may be in a spin worrying about the uncertainties, but we can also move into practical problem-solving at an individual level.

Help take control of your worrying thoughts by engaging in the following five exercises.

1. Practise ‘worry time’ to reduce constant worry during the day

‘Worry time’ is a cognitive-behavioural therapy practice, backed by research that helps you to control the frequency and duration of worrying thoughts.

Set aside between fifteen and twenty minutes at a regular time each day and during your ‘worry time’, write down all of your most prominent worrying thoughts. If worry is fairly pervasive for you, you may find it helpful to do two sessions of ‘worry time’ each day — one first thing in the morning and the other before dinner each night. It’s preferable not to leave this practice until too late in the day. Worrying before bedtime is likely to keep you awake.

Don’t try to completely eliminate your worries during your ‘worry time’. The key is to get the thoughts out of your head onto paper so they’re not taking up so much of your mental energy. As you write, you may find that you naturally reflect on a couple of practical steps that will help you reduce worry and address one of your most pressing concerns.

2. Get to know your worry patterns

After a week of the ‘worry time’ practice, look over your lists and make a note of any patterns you notice. Most of us find that we have several main areas of worry. Consider whether there are practical ways to deal with these concerns or if they continue to persist, talk to your GP or counsellor about getting some one-on-one support.

3. Lock away your worrying thoughts

Outside of your worry times, try to catch your brain as it brings up worrying thoughts and say to yourself, ‘I’m worrying.’ When a worry persists, visualise putting that thought into a ‘worry box’ and locking it away until later in the day.

It’s likely that you’ll find this difficult at first, but remind yourself that you’re training your brain to be more cognisant to reduce worry, rather than allowing it to continue in its old habitual patterns. Be mindful not to beat yourself up when you do notice worry popping up.

4. Reduce negative energy and embrace a sense of lightness in life

If locking away your thoughts doesn’t work for you, try the following exercise to physically brush away negative energy. While it may sound slightly silly at first, it’s helpful to remember that we carry our worries in our bodies as well as our minds. This fun strategy will help reduce negative energy and also remind you to embrace a sense of lightness in life.

In a standing position and preferably outdoors (or at least facing a window), run your hands along either side of your spine from the upper back down toward your hips and as your hands reach your buttocks, ‘flick’ them forward and upward, brushing your worries away towards the sky. Next, run your hands down across your chest toward your hips and flick away out to the sides. Then brush your hands across the rest of your body in the same way (include your head, face, neck, arms, legs and all the way down to your feet), imagining that you’re literally brushing away any negative energy that has gathered on and around your body.

Pay attention to how you feel at the end of this exercise — if you’re like most people, you’ll feel lighter in your physical being.

5. Physically relax to help your mind to relax

Because it’s difficult to create a quiet mind or reduce worry when we have tension in the body, you may find that engaging in a deep relaxation process will help to bring your body and mind into a state of calm. My favourite way of doing this is to use a guided yoga nidra meditation. Despite its name, this practice doesn’t involve any yoga poses but rather, it’s a guided relaxation meditation that is practised lying down. You can use it before sleep or as an excellent way to obtain some rest during the day.

If you need support quietening your worrying mind, get in touch with Kate to speak about a life coaching appointment for tips about how to mindfully manage your thoughts.

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12 ways to create a beautiful life https://totalbalance.com.au/12-ways-to-create-a-beautiful-life/ Wed, 05 Feb 2020 11:15:17 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=16751 When this year started with so much loss, I began to question how, in the face of such adversity, do we stay hopeful and positive about our lives? How can we engage in the climate change conversation, without becoming depleted by it? How do we...

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When this year started with so much loss, I began to question how, in the face of such adversity, do we stay hopeful and positive about our lives? How can we engage in the climate change conversation, without becoming depleted by it? How do we balance the enormity of the world’s problems with the smallness of our own impact? How do we create a beautiful life?

As Rebecca Solnit, author of Hope in the Dark, writes (my emphasis):

“Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand.”

For those of us who are sensitive, tuning in to the news too often can be overwhelming and we may end up feeling there’s little we can do to help. I’ve learnt from experience to be selective about my news sources and to limit the repetitive exposure that is part of the reporting of tragic events.  At such times, my focus shifts to the small actions I take that can contribute to making the world a more hopeful place.

While I’m tempted to write about everyday practices that help us to live more sustainably, my expertise lies in other areas. And while I know it may seem frivolous to think about how we can create beautiful lives in the face of the devastation we’ve seen this year, I know that filling your own cup is essential if you want the energy to give to others.

Even if you’ve experienced direct loss, there’s value and comfort in embracing small changes that will help you to create a beautiful life – regardless of your external circumstances.

1. Find your own way to take care of our planet

When I feel overwhelmed by the issue of climate change, I recall Rebecca Solnit’s words – what we do matters. There are always small ways that each of us can help. Start by engaging in these simple tips and if you’re in a position to do so, consider offering financial or volunteer support to an environmental cause of your choice.

2. Create a morning routine

This is particularly helpful when you’ve experienced a loss or if you feel ungrounded. Start each day with a small ritual. Meditate, walk, do some deep breathing or yoga stretches upon waking, mindfully eat breakfast while you’re sitting down or simply write a to-do list to make the best use of your day. The key is to create a simple routine that works for you and commit to it every day.

3. Move your body daily

Like the morning routine, moving your body is one of the best ways to restore mental strength and boost your mood. Choose an activity you genuinely love rather than engaging in a form of movement you think you should be doing. If possible, make this a time when you can also connect with nature.

4. Live to your values

If there’s one thing that will change the way you interact with the world, it’s learning to live to your values. Regardless of your life circumstances, you can live in alignment with your chosen set of values at any given time. This practice is also key to helping you find your way to your life purpose.

5. Make your living environment beautiful

Even if your home is temporary, in need of renovating or imperfect, creating a space that feels nurturing and welcome will go a long way to cultivating inner calm. Make your bed every morning. Keep your kitchen table clear so you have somewhere pleasant to eat your meals. Gather some storage boxes so you have places to put things away. Light a scented candle or diffuse an essential oil to lift your mood. Pick and arrange flowers and foliage from your garden or buy yourself a bunch of fresh flowers or an indoor plant. Turn on a lamp instead of your overhead lights. These small external changes will go a long way toward transforming your inner world.

6. Savour food

Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures, yet so many of us forget to savour the simple experience of eating because our relationship with food is complex. Slow down and savour a meal you love. Give your meals – and any people you may enjoy them with – your full attention. Try leaving your phone away from the table. Tune into the foods that energise you most and do your best to recognise when you’re hungry or full. Add a few vegetarian options to your meal plan and buy from your local farmer’s market to take better care of our land.

7. Give yourself something to look forward to

A practice that has really helped me create a beautiful life is to plan a couple of short breaks at the beginning of each year so we have something to look forward to. If you’re busy or your finances are limited, you may not be able to schedule a long holiday to a faraway destination. Regular local mini-breaks and day trips, enjoyed alone or in company, can be equally rejuvenating. Aim to find one new activity every week or two. This can be as simple as visiting a different café, walking a new route, viewing an exhibition, starting a book or having a picnic in a park. These are times to savour your solitude or create special moments and memories with your partner, family or friends.

8. Practise self-compassion

We spend so much time being self-critical that we often forget to honour our positive traits or offer ourselves kindness when life is difficult. Be aware of any negative self-talk. Learning the art of self-compassion will go a long way to building self-acceptance and self-belief. Take Kristin Neff’s free self-compassion test here.

9. Learn to forgive

Holding onto resentment and blame is a heavy load for any of us to bear. Sometimes we feel unwilling or unable to forgive others for mistakes or past hurts because we fear we’ll be letting someone off the hook for poor behaviour or we’ll allow those things to happen again. Forgiveness is mostly about freeing yourself and it can also help with healthy boundary setting. If you’re finding it hard to forgive, try Tara Brach’s ten-day course on Insight Timer.

10. Find your own version of spirituality

There’s a growing body of evidence that confirms that having a sense of spirituality helps us to find meaning and understanding in life. Your version of spirituality might mean feeling grateful for the things that already beautiful in your life or grounding your energy by spending time in nature. It might mean tuning into your intuition or learning to practise equanimity. Allow yourself to be curious about connecting with something that’s bigger than you.

11. Meditate

When I started meditating twenty-six years ago, I was hoping to create more calm in my life. What I didn’t know at the time was that this daily ritual would become a pathway to healing, compassion, creativity and insight. Try my Mindful Morning Meditation on the free Insight Timer app. If you’re too anxious to close your eyes and sit with your thoughts, try a movement meditation such as yoga or qigong.

12. Connect with others

When you’re feeling overwhelmed about the world or anxious about your life, it can be tempting to isolate yourself while you make sense of your feelings. While being comfortable with and enjoying your own company is a truly valuable attribute, spending too much time on your own can mean getting caught in overthinking which makes it difficult to keep a balanced perspective. Even when you don’t feel like it, make a habit of keeping in touch with friends and occasionally push yourself to make new ones when you come across people you feel a synergy with. Along with connection to self, staying connected to others is vital to help you create a beautiful life.

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Inspiring Clients Jac Travers https://totalbalance.com.au/inspiring-clients-jac-travers/ Thu, 23 Jan 2020 02:18:46 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=16732 Jac Travers is someone who doesn’t follow the crowd. Her makeup and styling business was born from a desire to help women balance the push and pull of professionalism vs creative expression. She’s passionate about the promotion of individuality – and someone who truly walks...

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Jac Travers is someone who doesn’t follow the crowd. Her makeup and styling business was born from a desire to help women balance the push and pull of professionalism vs creative expression. She’s passionate about the promotion of individuality – and someone who truly walks her talk.

Most recently, Jac launched a new arm of her business in her hometown of Canberra. It’s what she calls ‘not normal networking’  where Jac brings together creatives and hobbyists who want to meet like-minded people in a supportive and friendly environment.

I have loved working with Jac. She’s warm and courageous and funny and she has a genuine passion to help both men and women embrace their own uniqueness. I hope you enjoy our interview and after reading it, you feel a little more inspired to unapologetically be yourself.

If you’re in Canberra (or know a creative who is), maybe you’d like to join Jac at her next event.

Jac Travers Makeup

Can you tell us a little bit about your two businesses?

I would love to! My main business is Maverick Creative Academy (MCA) and a branch of that business is a not normal networking event called Maverick Creative Connections (MCC).

As an internationally accredited and published makeup artist as well as a personal stylist in a previous life, I use MCA to teach women how to do their makeup and feel confident in their own skin again. I run monthly challenges on Facebook, as well as face-to-face sessions, teaching short courses at the local TAFE (we call it CIT in Canberra), and I also help other community organisations with personal presentation workshops for women returning to work and the like. It is incredibly rewarding to help women reconnect with their value and worth again through appearance. There is strength in owning your look.

MCC is not normal networking because networking sucks (just being honest here). It was born out of dissatisfaction with current offerings for networking in Canberra. I went through a very judgemental and demoralising experience at one particular event which led me to search for events specific to the beauty or creative industry, to which I found none. As a result, I created one – I mean, why not, right?

Each event is themed and hosts a Q&A panel with 3 local creatives, a workshop to apply to learnings from the panel and good ol’ fashioned fun. I am thrilled to be kicking it off in February. It is going to be a memorable experience!

Jac Travers Makeup

What do you love about having a side-hustle?

I think first and foremost it allows me to be who I am. I’m the chick with the crazy hair. I’m the one who will think outside the box. I am that person who fiercely believes that everyone has their own unique blend of personality. Pursuing a creative side hustle is a way for me to express that and encourage self-acceptance in others.
Secondly, it provides me a connection to my mother.

I lost her to cancer at the age of 12. She was the one who taught me how to sew, to draw, to learn beyond the structure of the classroom and to love my family.

She was someone who had a lot of ingenuity, creativity and hustle. She was unapologetic about who she was as a person and that confidence was magnetic. Whilst I may not have known her for a super long time, being a creative is what we have in common and I hold on to that dearly.

What’s one challenge you’ve overcome while taking on these new projects that you feel proud of?

I have a real problem with perfectionism and holding things back from the world until they are perfect. As a result, I hold myself back because I have minimal output. No output means no growth. No growth means a dying business and so on. It can be crippling at times because of a fear of judgement around what I produce – is it good enough? Is it professional enough? Is it modern enough?

Since identifying this tendency through business coaching, I have been able to recognise when it is happening and take action to counteract it. Such going live with the MCC website. I built it. It’s not perfect. But I can tweak and improve upon it as we go, the important thing is that it is out there, and people can find it.

Maverick Creative Academy

What are you listening to at the moment? 

I am devouring Shannon Mattern’s Pep Talks for Side Hustlers podcast right now. It has been great to help me focus, make small but impactful changes, as well as feeling like I made a new friend! She focuses on web design businesses, but the concepts are fairly universal.

What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone wanting to go into their own startup?

Make sure you have a support network. Life is hard as it is, and then you throw in running a business and all the challenges and complexities that come along with it – some you never could have anticipated either! It’s tough. But if you have a support network, you will be able to weather those storms because someone will be holding the rudder whilst you fix the sail. For me, family especially – I cannot begin to describe the difference I have seen and felt in building my business with the support of my husband, my sisters and my sister-in-law. In the words of U2, “Sometimes you can’t make it on your own.”

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Can you tell us a bit about your purpose – in business and/or life?

I find that life and business are intrinsically linked. I can tell when something I am doing in the business isn’t aligned with my life purpose and vice versa – because it’s a life suck! If it is aligned, then I am driven and focused.
My life purpose is to create a flexible and free lifestyle for my family due to actions that enable women and creatives to take their power back through attitude, appearance and individuality.

I want to be the example to my kids (when they pop out), my nieces and my nephews that you can be who you are, do what you love and be successful regardless of the expectations others have for you.

There is a Hall & Oates song that says, “Do what you want girl, but be what you are. There ain’t no right or wrong way, Just a play from the heart … So do what you want to do, But be what you are.”

I like to think the business is an example of being true to me!

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Reconnect to your intuition https://totalbalance.com.au/reconnect-to-your-intuition/ Thu, 19 Dec 2019 01:42:50 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=16720 “Intuition doesn’t tell you what you want to hear; it tells you what you need to hear.” Sonia Choquette When you connect with your intuition, you have the ability to sense things before you really know them. You might also recognise that this knowing can’t...

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Intuition doesn’t tell you what you want to hear; it tells you what you need to hear.” Sonia Choquette

When you connect with your intuition, you have the ability to sense things before you really know them. You might also recognise that this knowing can’t be easily explained.

Unlike conscious reasoning, our intuitions are often felt or sensed in the body and sometimes they don’t seem entirely rational. When we’re being intuitive we’re not actively thinking or analysing but rather, we’re resting our awareness within and we’re curious and open to the information we intuit.

Once you connect, it’s then about really listening to and trusting that inner knowing – it can guide us in the most unexpected and helpful ways.

Everyone has the capacity to be intuitive, but there are times in our lives when we find it more difficult. When your mind is racing with thoughts, if you’re anxious, stressed or overly busy, it’s difficult to quieten your mind and tune in. If you’re in an overly emotional state or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it’s also unlikely you’ll be able to listen. But often not listening is something we do to ourselves — we ignore the little niggles when they’re telling us things we’d rather not hear.

While your intuition can protect you and keep you safe, it can also be a positive alert, telling you to be brave about a new relationship, to make a move to a new place or to take the job that sounds challenging.

If you’ve lost touch with your intuition, try the following things to help you reconnect.

Meditate
A regular meditation practice is maybe the most effective way to cultivate the kind of self-awareness that helps you connect with intuition. Even just ten minutes of quiet reflection at the beginning of your day will help you to become more aware of the wisdom you have within you. If you’re new to meditation, try this track of mine on the free Insight Timer app.

Spend time in solitude
Regardless of whether you’re meditating or not, spend an hour or two each week without any distractions or entertainment. If possible, get out into nature to lower your cortisol levels and help you to feel grounded. When you’re able to evoke a greater sense of physical relaxation, you’ll find it easier to be aware of your gut instinct.

Listen to your body
Once you learn to tune in, you’ll notice that within seconds of meeting someone new or when you walk into certain physical spaces, you get a certain ‘feeling’ about them. Many people report that they have this sensation in their belly area (it’s why we call it our ‘gut instinct’). Our enteric nervous system, which is lined with 100 million neurons, is constantly sending messages back to the brain. And while the jury’s still out on exactly how this system impacts our thoughts, your brain is certainly impacted by your gut. Try not to ignore your gut instinct or rationalise your way out of the messages it sends you. Listen in and be curious about the wisdom it is offering.

It’s sometimes easier in hindsight to see when you had an intuitive hunch – and unfortunately didn’t act on it (maybe because you wanted to trust in people). If this happens, don’t beat yourself up for not acknowledging your insight at the time, be glad that you’re someone who sees the best in others and remind yourself that most people really can be trusted. You can be sure your radar will be sharp to instinctual warnings in the future.

Let your subconscious guide you while you’re asleep
Spend a couple of weeks paying attention to your dreams. Keep a notebook beside your bed and upon waking, jot down whatever elements of your dream you remember. Even just a sentence or two is a good start. Recall how you were feeling in your dream and think about how those feelings show up in your everyday life. Consider also that the characters in your dreams might represent different aspects of yourself. While it’s tempting to look to a dream analyst to decipher your dreams, trust your instincts about your own interpretations. You know yourself better than anyone and with an open and curious mind, it’s likely you’ll learn to interpret the messages on your own.

Tap into the transition between wakefulness and sleep
Sometimes our sleepy subconscious mind will guide us in ways we’re less open to when we’re using our rational, waking mind. The brief transition between wakefulness and sleep (a state known as hypnagogia) is a time where we often find a moment of clarity or discover the answer to a problem that feels inherently right. It’s not always easy to catch this time because it’s so brief, but if you’re interested to learn more about it, find out how Albert Einstein and Salvador Dali tapped into this fascinating state.

Give yourself time to pause
When you do have a strong intuitive thought, it doesn’t mean you need to rush into a decision. You may want to research your choices more thoroughly or you might prefer to just sit on your decision for a day or two. While you’re in this state of flux, it might be tempting to ask friends and family for their opinion. Instead, keep tuning in so you learn to trust what feels right for you.

Is it fear or is it intuition?
Sometimes it’s difficult to determine the difference between intuition and self-doubt or fear. You’ll find it easiest to connect with genuine intuition when you’re in a state of calm, not in a highly excited or emotional state. If you’re fairly relaxed and still uncertain, try to break your decision into the smallest possible parts and ask yourself, “What does my intuition tell me about this aspect of the decision?” Be curious about your fears too. Write each of them down and ask yourself how you might overcome the worst-case scenario in each of those that you’ve noted. It’s likely you’ll find your intuition a good guide here as well.

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How a side-project can grow your confidence https://totalbalance.com.au/side-project-grows-confidence/ Thu, 10 Oct 2019 01:45:32 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=16668 A few years ago, I worked with a client, Jess, who was keen to start a side-project making her own blends of herbal teas. At the time, Jess was in a demanding full-time role, leading three people and working long hours. Before she took on...

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A few years ago, I worked with a client, Jess, who was keen to start a side-project making her own blends of herbal teas. At the time, Jess was in a demanding full-time role, leading three people and working long hours. Before she took on this new project, we spoke about how realistic it would be.

We started by exploring why she was drawn to a creative outlet, particularly given her limited time capacity. Jess realised that her job wasn’t giving her the opportunity to engage her strengths of creativity and innovation and while there were day-to-day pressures in her role, she didn’t feel that she was being challenged.

She was hoping that her passion project might act as a circuit breaker. Something that would shake things up and make her feel alive again. Jess wasn’t sure she wanted the herbal teas to evolve into a fully-fledged business, but she had reached a point where she wanted to do something different with her life.

Like most of my clients who start a creative project that they’re genuinely passionate about, Jess was surprised by how easy it was to carve out time. She stopped watching television, set strong boundaries around social media and began using every hour of her day more thoughtfully.

While she encountered some obstacles and frustrations, Jess discovered that the benefits far outweighed the costs.

Embracing a new challenge will increase your confidence
When you take on any new challenge and push through the difficult aspects, your confidence grows. While this may not be the case in the very early days – getting started is usually the hardest part – once you overcome your initial fears and some of the obstacles, you discover strengths you’ve not had the opportunity to fully engage before.

Taking action in a new area signifies to your brain that you’re capable of growing your intelligence and reinforces your capacity for courage.

You might make some additional income
On Chris Guillebeau’s podcast Side-Hustle (and in his book of the same name), he shares stories about people from all walks of life, with hundreds of different ideas, who’ve made money from their passion projects. They’re all busy people who have found a way to embrace an interest in an entrepreneurial way.

While your side-hustle might not make enough money for you to leave your day job, it may give you the means to take an extra holiday or add to your savings or even pay down some debt.

Being creative is energising
While immersing yourself in any new pursuit might initially feel overwhelming, once you push past the voice of your inner critic, it’s highly likely you’ll enjoy even the most fundamental aspects of being creative. As you start to challenge yourself and your brain begins to build new neural pathways, you may well discover that you think about many aspects of your life differently.

In Jess’s case, an unexpected benefit of the herbal tea project was the opportunity to embrace her old love of photography. She enrolled in a photographic styling course and nothing gave her more pleasure than the few hours a week she dedicated to styling and taking photos for her website.

You’ll build new relationships
Maybe the one aspect that all of my entrepreneurial clients love most about going into business for themselves, is the people they meet on the journey. You’ll find people who share the same interest and others who are developing skills in building or growing a business.

You’ll build relationships with like-minded service providers (graphic designers, web developers, writers, virtual assistants, finance people etc.) and your shared experience will give you a renewed sense of connection. And who knows where that might lead? Broadening your network is a great way to make new friends and to grow your business, but it’s also helpful if you decide to seek a new role.

It may open up other opportunities
As it turned out, Jess continued with her herbal tea business for a couple of years until she recognised she preferred doing styling. In a recent email, she let me know that she has closed down the teas and also left her old role. She has picked up work taking lifestyle photos and styling and hopes to eventually open her own styling school.

It’s a big leap to move from the security of a full-time role straight into your own business, which makes a side-project a great way to test the water first. If you’re unsure about what you’d choose as your creative project, grab yourself a small notebook and read this brilliant post by James Altucher. Great ideas are all around you – you just need to shift into your creative mindset.

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Inspiring Women Nicola Newman https://totalbalance.com.au/interview-nicola-newman/ Fri, 27 Sep 2019 05:02:46 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=16614 I met Nicola Newman seven years ago on a wintery afternoon in a cafe on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. At the time, she was living on the Sunshine Coast and hosting an online program teaching people how to grow their own organic vegetable gardens. We found...

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I met Nicola Newman seven years ago on a wintery afternoon in a cafe on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. At the time, she was living on the Sunshine Coast and hosting an online program teaching people how to grow their own organic vegetable gardens. We found out later that we love many of the same things – the garden, spending time in nature, living a creative life and although I haven’t sailed for many years, a deep love for spending time on the water.

I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Nicola this year and speaking to the audience of her Gentle Business Mastermind program. We’ve been chatting over recent weeks about all sorts of things. Her and her husband’s courageous decision to live on a yacht, her art, and her latest program, Flourish: The Art of Creative Living.

It’s not often that I meet someone who is genuinely living from the heart, but Nicola really is one of those people. She has inspired me to get my paintbrushes out and to explore getting back into sailing. She took time from her busy schedule last week to respond to my interview questions and I’m so pleased she did. I think you will love her story.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your business and your lifestyle? I would love to know about what led you to be living on a yacht.

Absolutely! My husband, our Cavoodle dog and I have been living on a yacht for close to three years. Before then, Andrew was working 100+ hours a week as a quarry manager and we were barely seeing each other. I was trying to figure out a way we could change our lifestyle and, inspired by a documentary about a couple who were living on a sailboat in French Polynesia, one afternoon he came home from work covered in dust and I asked him, “How about we live on a sailboat?”

Without hesitation, he replied, “Let’s do it!”

Three months later he’d resigned from his job, we’d sold our house, art studio and all our furniture and bought a 35-foot Martzcraft sailboat in Pittwater, just north of Sydney.

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What do you love most about it?

I adore being so connected to nature. We have turtles, dolphins and whales around the boat so often. I love seeing them. Our little dog Lacey-Jane loves them too. She runs around on deck ‘turtle spotting’ and often hears them before I do.

I also love the simplicity of our belongings, now that we’ve decluttered much of what we owned so we can fit it into a small space. Marie Kondo says tidying up can help you focus more on the relationships, activities and experiences you want during this current season of your life, and I have found that to be true. Having only about 15% of our original belongings, it’s easy to focus on doing more of what I love; teaching, painting, reading, writing, snorkelling, and mentoring other creative hearts.

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And what are some of the challenges?

Weather is probably the biggest challenge. While we are connected to nature, we are also hugely influenced by it. We need to be flexible as we often have to change plans, pull up the anchor and move without much notice.

Sailing has also brought up a lot of my own fears. I rely on mindfulness practices when conditions trigger a sense of anxiety and meditation to help me sleep when I’ve finished my watch and we are sailing through the night.

Nicola-Newman-Painting3

Can you tell me about your decision to become an artist and then choosing to teach creativity to others?

I studied art at university and became a professional artist when my fist solo exhibition all but sold out! I was so surprised, it was easy to decide to quit my casual job and instead focus on my art practice. That was eighteen years ago. I exhibited in commercial and regional galleries around Australia and overseas and loved producing a new series of paintings for shows. I always drew inspiration from nature, my travels and my own inner experience.

In my late twenties, my health took a turn for the worse. I set up an organic veggie patch to support my healing, and after experiencing the joy and benefits of having a garden, I created two online courses teaching others how to grow organic food.

I enjoyed teaching and as my health improved, a dear friend asked me to teach her how to paint. We had so much fun painting together, and I saw how it helped her to process the grief she was experiencing after losing her precious mum. I realised I deeply wanted to teach others how to express their creativity, even if they didn’t think they were naturally creative.

For me, creative expression has been a doorway into the present moment. It’s led to beautiful experiences of being ‘in flow’ and a deeper connection with my own heart. I love, love, love to share that with others. My passion is to demystify the creative process and support others to be kind to themselves, follow their hearts and find meaning and fulfilment through creative living.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I don’t have much of a typical day! Sometimes I notice myself longing for more of a routine, but very quickly I crave variety more than predictability. That being said, my day pretty much always begins with my dog walking on me, waking me up for cuddles and then her breakfast. She’s very cute how she wants cuddles before food.

After I have fed her, I make a cup of Earl Grey tea for me and brewed coffee for Andrew. Then, I love to take my tea up on deck where I check in with how I’m feeling physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally, in my much-loved journaling practice. I find this semi-regular-routine helps me to plan my work activities for the day, while also paying attention to what I need for my own wellbeing. I love it. I find it very supportive, centering and it helps me be more intentional in my days.

After journalling, anything can happen! If I have coaching calls, I’ll spend time with clients, whether they are in my year-long global creativity school, Flourish: The Art of Creative Living, or with members of the Gentle Business Mastermind, a beautiful group I co-host along with Naomi Arnold and Amanda Rootsey, or private coaching clients.

If I don’t have client calls, I might spend the day writing, creating new videos for my YouTube channel or recording podcast episodes, or painting with my new favourite medium – watercolours! Of course, there are some weeks when we focus more on sailing, and I tilt my attention away from working so many hours in the business. I love sailing. We’ve now sailed thousands of miles up and down the east coast of Australia and we are currently in the Whitsunday Islands, which is a truly beautiful part of the world.

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How does your partner spend his time while you’re working? Does he have a side project too?

That’s a great question. I love that you asked, actually, as it’s not often talked about during these times of transitions while women are working online. For the first couple of years, Andrew was pretty much solely focused on keeping the boat running and taking care of trip planning/navigating. There are always things that need attention on a boat because it’s such a harsh environment with all the salt etc. So he is/was chief electrician, plumber, carpenter, rigger and mechanic. He did all the servicing on the engine, installed new plumbing, takes care of the fridge, solar power, battery installation etc.

He also went fishing sometimes when I was working, too. 😀

While he still does those things, he has also recently begun trading the Forex (foreign currency exchange). He signed up with a company who offer training in it, and he’s been working really hard at that. It takes quite a bit of time to check the charts, look for trade setups and learn new strategies. We are hoping it will be a change of career direction for him, as he doesn’t want to go back to quarries or working in such stressful environments. It’s lovely to have the time and space and financial freedom/breathing room to be able to make this adjustment and see how it goes. He’s naturally wired for this kind of work in many ways. It plays to many of his strengths and he’s enjoying it too, which is great. It would drive me bonkers, with all the detail, but as you know, we are each suited to different things and thankfully, this seems to have taken his fancy.

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We were looking for a way for him to bring in income while we are on the boat, and in a way that still offers us the freedom we love, knowing he didn’t want to begin a business or be an entrepreneur. Nothing popped up until one day he just stumbled on the idea. It’s now been five months and it’s going well. I love seeing him enthusiastic about the future.

Where do you go for inspiration, creative or otherwise?

I love being around the ocean for inspiration. So that is handy! Choosing to live on a boat was largely influenced by my love of nature and the ocean in particular. I love all the marine life, sunsets, and the variety of places we get to visit. I’m currently painting a series of watercolours of the islands we are exploring.

For inspiration in my business, I love to learn from others who have a heart for supporting people to deal with life using practical tools and self-compassion. I find mindfulness and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy is hugely useful, and I Iove to infuse those approaches into how I teach creative living and creative expression. So there is no surprise why I love your work, Kate, and adore all your wonderful books.

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What are you reading and listening to at the moment?

I’m currently listening to Bari Tessler Linden’s podcast The Art of Money and I am enrolled in her wonderful year-long program. I love how she blends mindfulness and self-compassion with financial literacy.

And I’m in the middle of about six different books! What can I say, I do love variety! Tonight, I have been reading Maya Angelo’s book Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes. I adore her ability to tell heart-opening stories that leave me feeling connected to others across cultures and generations.

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What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone wanting to pursue their creative dreams?

I would encourage them to focus on cultivating a kind and loving relationship with themselves, so they can offer themselves self-compassion when the inevitable fears, self-doubts, perfectionism and resistance pop up during the journey. The very nature of following our hearts and pursuing our creative dreams means stepping into the unknown. Part of that includes moving through fears in ways that don’t traumatise us but instead allow us to expand, grow and flourish.

So many of us are left believing we are ‘just not creative’ or that we ‘don’t have time for creative expression.’ When the truth is, most of us were not taught how to craft a life that is deeply fulfilling, meaningful, vibrant and true to our hearts. Our minds often throw up lots of reasons why we can’t create or follow our dreams. When we blend mindfulness into the creative process, we can elegantly navigate the creative blocks our mind uses to try to stop us, and instead step into a life where we are engaged, alive and vibrant.

If someone feels like their life is on autopilot, if they never put themselves first, or if they are constantly searching ‘out there’ for someone to tell them what to do, give them the answers or show them the ‘correct’ way to do things, I would encourage them to slow down, tune into their heart and find the practices that support them to intentionally craft a life that is fulfilling, meaningful and true to them.

Those practices might include mindfulness or meditation, walking in nature, journaling their heart out, developing their trust in their intuition and taking small steps towards their creative dreams. I’d encourage them to surround themselves with support and do all they can to give themselves a sense of safety as they embark on their new creative adventure. Most importantly, I’d encourage them to stay in relationship with their own heart. I’ve found it’s the best compass we have for leading us home.

Nicola’s Flourish: The Art of Creative Living course opens for early bird registration from 15-31 October 2019. You can join Nicola now on her Art of Creative Living: Free 7 Day Introductory Course

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