Monday, January 31, 2011

What is normal?

In the past, I've been guilty of saying on numerous occasions 'I just wish I was normal'...

Years ago, this usually came as part of a sobfest on Nathan's chest, after a day/week/month of struggle against anxiety and inner turmoil.

But it seems to still be around as I only said it a week or so ago...I had an issue that had bubbled to the surface that I just wanted to go away, rather than work through it and release it which in turn would make me feel better!

And you know, clearly I'm the only one who has to deal with mental, physical and emotional issues (stemming from the past and present)...because EVERYONE else is 'normal' after all!!!

So what is my obsession with normal?

I think for me, when it comes out in the way I've described means problem-free! But then, where's the fun in that!!!

Or it can be not wanting to be weird/different to others...not wanting to have things going on that someone could look down on me for (I like how my ego conjures up that last part...because clearly I have such unsupportive family and friends - ha!!)

And I should add that on the flipside of me wanting to be 'normal' is my other obsession with having things that are 'just a little bit different'...a bit of a McEachen family hobby I think!

So just what is this ever-elusive normal? Why do I/we even use the word?

Is it an obsession with comparing ourselves to others...always with the end result that we're not normal and someone else is. Is it just the good old 'I'm not good enough...'??

Because you can guarantee that in comparison to someone else, you're always lower, higher, taller, shorter, thinner, fatter, over, under...etc etc

Since I started writing the draft of this blog over a week ago, I've had plenty of additional information that is helping me release my need for normality.

For instance, as a friend mentioned to me last week, what is normal for me isn't normal for someone else. So then - who's the true normal?!

By Googling it, you get a bunch of different definitions.

One of them contains the word average...which leads to yet another discussion, because who is average?

An average can only ever be 1 then what happens to the other zillion people who fit on either side of that 1 particular number?

Funnily enough, I was onto something with normal meaning problem-free, as there's a biological definition that says 'Free from any infection or other form of disease or malformation...'

But then, show me someone who doesn't have any issues or problems, and I think you'll be looking at someone who's dead!

Because as I hear time and time again...

It's not about being 100% disease-free for your entire life. It's not about being 'perfect'. Life is all about living, growing, learning and expanding.

And at the end of the day - I actually love the things that at times I've thought made me 'abnormal'! I love all of the so-called 'problems' I've had to deal with.

Particularly in the last 4 or 5 years where I've made it somewhat of a sport to continually dig deeper...or peel back the layers of the onion as I call it. Yes there's been some decent challenges, but I've found some absolute gems along the way.

I've learnt so much and I really am looking forward to having many more 'aha' moments.

Or that feeling or relief / pride when I've worked something it the inner cause of an outer problem, or that I'd been holding on to a particular old memory without realising.

So the moral of this story - I've now decided that everyone is normal (myself included), just in their own particular way.

And instead of wanting to be anyone else, I'll now continue working on loving me for who I am - a unique individual with my own set of variables!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Proof that old habits die easy!

I accomplished something truly amazing tonight...drum roll please...

I did the dishes while making tea AND washed our plates up straight after so there's not one dish left to do!!!

Now this may not seem momentous enough to write a blog post fact most of you are sitting back going 'ah, that's what we do every day.'!!!

But for those who have known us since we moved out - you'll realise that's a fairly spectacular effort really!

Here's the framed tea towel we have hanging above our sink - partly as an ode to our to the kitchen in our first flat which got to this exact state by each Saturday and also as a reminder not to get back to that!

We've definitely gotten better over the years, but there's still been many an occasion when the poor dishes were left to their own devices while Nathan & I secretly hoped that the other would tackle them.

Funny really, because I'm always happy to do other people's dishes, just didn't used to jump at the chance to do our own!

Anywho, Nathan & I decided a month or two ago that we were sick of our slightly slovenly ways, and decided to do something about it across all areas of the house.

And just quietly, we're doing a great job! Bit by bit we're actually becoming proper grown-ups and keeping our house tidy on a full-time basis!

So the moral of the story is that you can change old habits, and contrary to popular belief - they can and quite often do die easily!

It doesn't matter how long you've had them for because all a habit or belief is, is just a thought you've chosen to think over and over (a lot of the time subconciously).

So all you need to do is pick a new thought that makes you feel better, or supports your life moreso and practice, practice, practice - in thought and deed!

The trick is not to berate yourself while you're learning your new way of good old Louise Hay says, it's just like planting a seed.

You don't jump up and down on it when it's just a little seedling, you watch with excitement as it turns into a fully fledged plant!

Or to put it another way - treat it like learning any new skill...who ever tells a bub that they're not good enough if they only manage to crawl a centimetre the first time, or take one wobbly step before falling back down on their bum.

Nope - all you do is encourage and tell them to get back up and give it another crack.

And you keep encouraging them until they're off and running...then wonder whey you wanted them to walk.

Ha - kidding!

Anyway, remember to keep encouraging yourself when you decide to change an old habit or learn something new - you can do it!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Aussie Aussie Aussie...

I had the privilege of spending 3 hours yesterday volunteering at HQ for the QLD Toy Appeal.

And what an experience - I'm so glad I did it.

The whole time I was there, I was going back and forth from trestle tables to the pallet crates carrying books, toys, toiletries and clothe, trying to fill up every cubic mm of those crates.

And each time I thought we had a table cleared, it would fill up again as people kept coming with bags and boxes of things they can do without.

When I signed up to volunteer, I had no idea what to expect and was just blown away by the response they've had - as are the organisers.

They were aiming to get 100 of these crates filled - they're now thinking it will get close to 500.

I've never seen so many stuffed toys in all my life! Not to mention baby clothes!

As one of the organisers said - it makes you realise how much stuff you have that you don't need.

I hope this encourages people to donate regularly to their local op shop, now they've seen how easy it is and how good it makes you feel.

Even as I write this, I'm getting chills running up & down my body, just as I did each time I looked out at the sea of pallet crates that's shown in the photo below.

While it's been the worst experience for so many, it has also brought out the best in people.

Congratulations to every single Adelaidean who emptied their cupboards to help out their QLD mates.

It's that good old Aussie spirit shining through...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Welcome to 2001 - the year of new beginnings...

When I walked outside this morning I was greeted by this beautiful rainbow. I love rainbows, they just remind me of new beginnings and that everything is going to be alright.

And if you haven't heard, we've coined 2011 as the Year of New Beginnings, and boy is it already showing that in spades!

For me, I've been trying to find the time to sit down and actually write my goals down for the year. Aha - I've just noticed my can't 'try' to do're either doing it or you're not!

Ok - so here it is, my goals for 2011...

  • Start 'Live.Love.Grow.' - my life coaching business! From little things, big things grow - and this is what will be the case with this. I've got so many ideas now that I want to do, and I'm not claiming to be a coaching expert yet, but at this moment I've got plenty of great information and techniques to share with a website, my own range of affirmation cards, journals etc etc - here I come!
  • Write my first book (and then maybe my second!)...for ages now I've figured that my story can be of help to others (as in my recovery from the anxiety that plagued my life about 6 years ago)...and again, from little things, big things grow...
  • Launch 'Jester Designs' - my design / creative label! You'll see that soon on Facebook...if you need any invitations, logos, stationery done - give me a yell! 
  • Create more - bags, skirts, frames...I love being creative!
  • Help more people, in more ways. Be it through a joint venture with my brother selling wares from another country, completely helping out weekly/fortnightly at Meals on today and tomorrow, going to help with the QLD Flood being the volunteer Bookkeeper/Graphic Designer for the Rugby club...and I'm open to more ideas!
  • Learn, learn, learn! Be it new skills through WEA (boy was there some serious highlighting done in the last catalogue!)...studying yoga...finishing my Cert IV in mind-body medicine...
  • Enjoy just being - making meditation part of my daily routine (of which it is becoming more and more already) it in small informal doses like paying attention to your senses as you walk, eat or make a cup of tea...or formal as in sitting down to listen or just breathe for 15 minutes or more
  • Travel! Take advantage of the super cheap flights to Melbourne and Sydney to see family and friends...go to Bali in a tourist in our own state/town...but all in all, build this in to the plan early so we don't miss out!
  • Just enjoy life! You'll probably notice that I can get a bit serious about things because I love delving into the depths of life. But moreso, I just need to take a step back and go 'Wow, I have a great life. Everything is working out perfectly and all I need to do is trust, because I'm always supported, protected and guided!
There's plenty more where that came from, but that's a pretty good start for now.

So how about you? What new beginnings is 2011 going to bring you? Feel free to share them as comments here.

Or at the very least write them down. Because as I read the other day...

A dream becomes a goal the minute that it's written down.

So get to it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What SHOULD I do next?

I've fallen into a familiar pattern in the last week - it's a mix of fear and procrastination.

Hence no blogs in a week - despite overflowing with subject matter to write about, in fact I think I'd have enough for at least 2 weeks in advance!!

Anyway, back to the familiar pattern...

I find that when things start to build up in my life, as in I have a bunch of things I want to do and they're coming at me from all angles...I start to withdraw, and in fact I can just want it all to stop!

Rather than just chipping away at my tasks, I decide to just sit back and look at it all...hoping that magically someone else can sort it all out for me!

Heaven forbid I do what makes me feel best and sit down to write my to-do list then have a plan of action...nope I like to put things off and not start things, while my subconcious feeds me thoughts throughout the day like...

'Eeeeekkkkk, what do I do next? When will I be able to do ALL of this? Will I be able to do every task? What if I don't do it RIGHT? What if I'm not reading the signs right here and I'm doing the WRONG thing? Can I afford to do that class, buy that book?"

And I say subconcious - because often I don't actually notice this thought speaking aloud in my head.

Nope - the clear indicator for me this week has been that insidious feeling of anxiety sitting on my's not strong, but it's there, just simmering away under the surface.

So I know I'm fearing something about the future, because my body tells me so loud and clear!

This is definitely an old record, and one that's essentially an automatic reaction...because once I start to look at in conciously, I realise I'm actually fine.

I have plenty of choices. I'm actually really good at planning, and at chipping away at things.

But when I let the old record play - it's all about 'if I don't have enough time to do it ALL and all at once, I don't want to even start.'

The old ducks in a row syndrome eh!

You know the one - unless all ducks are standing very neatly in a row, I can't even begin.

Do I have to know every part of where something's going to end up before you get started?

No, of course not! But my brain likes to tell me that. And it also likes to tell me that it's going to take ages, so no point even starting because I won't have the time.

My instant reaction when I'm in this kind of mode is eek, how can I do it all.

What an internal drama queen I am!

So as you can see - I've got some rewiring to start this week...bit by bit I might add!

And here's some inspirational thoughts to get me moving...

In the words of Nike - Just do it.

In the words of a lot of people - feel the fear and do it anyway.

And to finish with today - a sentence I've heard Marianne Williamson say over & over again this week in a clip on Hayhouse for your soul...

Your greatest fear is not that you're inadequate. Your greatest fear is that you're powerful beyond measure.

And isn't that the truth.

Giddyup - it's time to rock and roll.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

There's always someone worse off than you...

Ain't that the truth.

It's something my Nanna used to always say - even in the final months of her life when she was dying of cancer, was essentially blind and had a few other conditions on her list.

It inspired me so much then, and still does today.

I heard the same sentence on the radio this morning, and it was when I got to work that it truly hit home because I had a real-life example.

I don't watch or listen to the news - I really don't like the negative slant it gives on the world. I'd much rather be blissfully ignorant!

But the QLD floods isn't something you can ignore.

When I got to work this morning - a workmate said something about it, and not knowing the full extent I went online and saw the story and photos of Toowoomba. Tonight I watched the 7.30 report and was just gobsmacked by the extent of it.

Isn't it just incredible.

And more to the point, doesn't it help you to get your life in perspective and to remember to count your blessings each and every day. 

As I wrote in a previous blog post - I don't doubt that each person's own set of issues are important to them and their life's evolution. But when faced with something like this, I take a breath and think 'my life really is great, I have nothing to complain about'.

I was really moved by one older lady who was interviewed, standing almost knee deep in water with just the clothes on her back and a small bag.

In the same breath as she said she'd had no time to grab anything as she left leave her house, she said in a fairly upbeat tone 'It's not a problem because we're alive. And there's some that aren't.'

Wow, what a fantastic perspective to have.

To all of the people in QLD who have witnessed the worst firsthand or have been in any way affected by this phenomenal last few days - my heart and prayers go out to you.

And boy am I glad to live where I live, and to have the life that I have.

Love to all my family and friends, I'm glad you're all healthy, happy and safe xxooxx

Monday, January 10, 2011

Heads I...tails I...

I was listening to a great radio spot with Alan Cohen a week or so ago, and thought I'd share some of his wisdom.

It's really simple - but Nathan & I have both had a lot of fun with it.

Essentially when you have a decision to make - drill it down to two things, then flip a coin on it!

Before you flip, you make the decision to follow whatever comes up and then as he pointed out - the most important part is to watch your reaction in the 3 seconds after you see the result.

If it's relief or joy - you're on the right path. Tension or any other icky feeling, not so much.

I've been carrying a coin in my pocket these last couple of weeks and it works a treat!

I can be a little be indecisive at times - particularly when I'm trying to listen in to my intuition and my head's getting in the way saying 'kick it to me, kick it to me'!!!

So it's been so interesting to say right 'heads I...and tails I...' and go with it.

I think there's probably only been 1 time the result truly didn't feel right. So I went with the opposite. Otherwise, I've just followed the coin flip!

From should I play Netball next year, to should we take this road or that - it's good for big and small decisions.

Oh and there's even a poem to go with it, written by Piet Hines...

Whenever you’re called on to make up your mind
And you're hampered by not having any,
The way to make up your mind
Is simply by spinning a penny

Not so that chance shall decide the affair
While you’re passively standing there moping
But the moment the penny is up in the air
You suddenly know what you’re hoping!

PS Alan Cohen is the original Chicken Soup for the Soul man...when I went hunting for the poem (because it was tricky to drive and scribble at the same time!), I found a one-pager on what he discussed on the here to read more.

PPS I know this sounds too simple, but that's why it works!

You're simplifying the decision and even by quieting your mind for a split second, you let your heart and intuition into the equation...the bit that always know what path is best at that moment.

It's so true what our mate Piet wrote above, as soon as you flip you seem to know what you want!

And as I seem to get reminded time and time again - you can always make another decision.

In each moment, you just need to go with what feels right to you, for now.

There's no rule anywhere that says that any decision you make is absolute.

Happy flipping!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lance Armstrong, eat your heart out!

I felt the need for a double header (that seems to happen when I've had a glum post), so here 'tis.

One great part of my day - I got to sleep in and only ended up at work at 11.30!

Why? Well I'm now cycling royalty. 

Ok, not really - but I did partake in a photo taking bonanza this morning for the local Messenger, as they're going to be putting in a story next week about Ride Like Crazy, and I'm the pin-up girl for it!

To fill in the gaps - Ride Like Crazy is a charity cycling event now in it's 3rd year and is all about raising money for cancer research.

Nathan & I took part last year and it was an amazing experience. Yes it was great to finish the 53kms (and no I didn't have to get off and push my bike up a hill once!), but the best part of it was the atmosphere...the excitement and goodwill that abounded was just phenomenal.

And the fact that we did our part to help raise over $160,000 for 2 great charities wasn't bad either!

Anyway, back to why I'm getting my mug in the paper...Police Credit Union is again sponsoring this fantastic event to the tune of 10,000 big ones, and so when our PR company wanted to add a human element to our press release, I turned out to be a great example.

Having lost Grandma, Nanna & Uncle Melvyn to the big C, and only recently had one of my best friends go through the trauma of getting a malignant skin cancer removed - yes I really do have a personal reason to be involved in this event, and more than enough motivation to get up those Adelaide Hills inclines.

I think 2011 is going to be a big year for me in the charity sphere - it's something that strikes a real chord with me a. And it's just so easy to do.

Speaking of which - if you are interested in donating to a great cause, head to

Or if you're going to be in Adelaide on January 16th and want to take part - it's not too late to register!

And have fun giggling at these photos - it was a funny morning posing in 1,700 different ways and riding back and forth to get the action shots!

Hmmm...what's that funky smell...

That's what I've been asking myself as I've attempted to extricate myself from the mini funk I found myself in this afternoon and evening!

By 11am today, I was feeling really fatigued and by the time I got home I've felt completely demotivated and just like I don't really care.

It's funny, because I've told a couple of friends in the last couple of days that in the past month or so, I've realised that I am happy to divulge my honest doesn't really worry me now what others think about them. A big change for me, but a good one!

And then here I am thinking that I'll wait until I have something happier or positive or inspiring to write before I type my next blog post.

Ha! Hypocrite!!!

Enter 'Trailing Grace' - the fantastic new blog of one of my good friends Grace - and her interesting, inspiring introspective for today was all about the child within and honouring your inner voice.

The end two paragraphs really stood out for me...

This reconciliation between the two sides has resulted in a deep sense of harmony. I am no longer fighting over myself over a bar of chocolate or whether or not I should go for a run. We share the same goals. We are a team. Now that I am no longer fighting myself, I have so much more energy to move forward. I'm almost scared to think of what could happen. But I won't think.... I'll just do. One step at a time.

Until tomorrow, takes steps in resolving your inner conflict and reconcile your opposing facets.

So what's my inner conflict today? Why am I feeling funky?

Partly, I think I've just been employing an old habit of mine which is polarised thinking - ie if it's not all good, then it's all bad.

While for the most part I'm an uber positive person (ha ha Dad, that uber wasn't necessary, I put it in just for you!) I do have quite high standards for myself, and once I'm feeling a little flat, I jump on it to try and untangle it.

Because I do take full responsibliity for all aspects of my experience, once it's not 100% positive, I tend to chastise myself - and it turns into what am I doing wrong to have created this (hello ego!).

Often I'm pretty sure that if I'd just let the thought go on it's way rather than focusing on it and making more of it, it would have died a timely death.

But no, being a recovering perfectionist, I try and fix it!

Then there's the good old impatience shining through - I feel like I'm in an incubating time at the moment, but where's the excitement in that! I want to be doing something!!!

Oh little grasshopper, one day you will learn the value of resting and just being!

Phew, well I am going on a bit here, and essentially writing what should be 5 blog posts in one.

Anyway, the good news is - I'm feeling a lot less funky and a lot more spunky again now. In fact I'm sitting here giggling about how I can get so serious about things sometimes!

But that's a whole other blog...and I am now looking forward to writing again regularly. There is plenty that I want to share, and it won't all begin with mopey diatribe!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Getting back into the habit...

No I haven't changed my name to Whoopi, and I don't plan on donning a Nun's get-up any time soon!

What I am doing is pressing the restart button on the habit of writing my blog after a week's holiday (much needed and much loved!).

Admittedly, part of me just wanted to let this fall by the wayside - that's the part that at times just wants to hide in a corner, or slip under the radar and live a mediocre existence!

Then I thought of how happy and excited I feel when I write - and clearly that side won out!

I have to say - when it comes to projects, I love the brainstorming and the planning...and then when it comes to doing it, I get excited to begin with, but tend to lose steam after a while and want to move on to the next exciting idea!

My fabulous friend Kylie told me that she thinks it's great that I can always come up with new ideas - many people don't have any ambition to change or improve their lives.

I definitely hadn't thought it about it like that!

And while I don't want to stop my excitement over brainstorming and planning - I think it's time to grow up a bit in the project department, and not quit or jump around as soon as I've kicked it off.

I guess it's about being happy where I am, and not constantly looking for the grass that's greener - I've got a lovely shade of emerald right under my feet!

So my new approach (complete with it's own affirmation of course!) is...

I relish all stages of a project...the dreaming...the infancy...the maturation...and the natural end!

And by the way - welcome to 2011 and a big happy new year to you!

Aaahhhhh....that feels better!!!