Food for the soul

Maxing out 2017…

Eight ways to max out the remaining months…

Hey savvy readers – dare I say it? Xmas Decorations! I know right? They’re already appearing in the shops –  a fitting reminder that yet another year is about to wrap. At work we’re prepping the Xmas party plan, The Mighty Annual Bakeoff ( a seriously competitive gig in my office), secret santa, closure holiday planning. At home, ‘must catch up before Xmas’ texts, selecting party outfits, booking said holiday, and..oh wait! Just when you think you can’t squeeze another ounce out of the year, I’ve found 8 ways to do so. Yes seriously! Read on…

Gear up for 2018

A great way to transition into a new year is to get organized beforehand. Sorting out paperwork, clearing the closet, even doing a spot of redecorating – how refreshing to wake up to the new year with order in place of chaos (as well as the obligatory hangover)?  Build your plan, lock in a few hours and look at how you might gear up home and heart for the new year

Love those longer evenings

Extended daylight just begs to be taken advantage of so why not make a plan to make the most of it? After-work drinks on a sunset viewing balcony? Call your buddies stat! Moonlight cinema? Book it! Balmy evening walk? Grab the dog! Twilight picnic with your besties? Organise it! Favourite personal goal? Set aside an hour for it. Less evening TV, more fun.

Reflect on the year thus far

Rather than worry about what you haven’t done this year, reflect on all that you have achieved. Grab that journal and list everything you’ve actually accomplished – bet that list is longer than you realise. If it’s been a tough year for whatever reason, use the opportunity to put it to bed, secure closure and promise yourself you’ll start the new year with a clean slate.

Plan that holiday

Short getaways are a great start – use any remaining leave you have from work to take a long weekend or a short holiday. Whether grabbing a little respite from our long hot summer through a winter-themed activity or trading our sun for another with a tropical escape, you’ll be ticking a new country off the bucket list (check out Let’s talk Bucket Lists Baby) while doing so. Worried about the money towards the end of the year? Read Career Girl’s budgeting for Christmas now guide to making traveling the world super affordable.

Embrace party season

As the calendar starts filling with those ‘must catch up for drinkies before Xmas’ gigs; look on them as a chance to make the most of having friends around. A chance to regroup, celebrate, commiserate, let them know you care, the perfect opportunity to agree that we’ll all make the new year the best year yet.

Consider yourself an introvert? Compile a list of fun questions everyone likes to respond to e.g. holiday plans; best/worst xmas pressies ever received; best/worst parties attended; New Year goals etc. Then choose the gigs that will feel most satisfying and consider them a perfect opportunity to have a good laugh while leaving a positive reminder of your fabulous listening skills. It’s ok to sneak out before the party starts getting out of control, knowing you’ve left a positive impression with reputation intact.

Make new friends

I call networking ‘making new friends’. Introduce yourself to just one person you’ve not met before while you’re at those gigs. Ask them what they love about their jobs, their career goals for the new year, if you might connect on LInkedIn. If you’re in the job market, Christmas is actually one of the best times to network for people are more relaxed, and so are you. A perfect way to get your personal brand out there too.

Plan something for the coming year

Do you experience that post-Christmas dip? Even when you love your job, returning to work after the magic of Christmas can be downright sad!  If you have a January birthday, yay! You get to plan another party, if not, make something happen! Whether it’s something you want to kick the year off with, or a party or social gathering – get your Facebook invitations sent out now.

Start something new

You don’t have to wait to start a new activity. If you want to train for a marathon, join a gym or take up a new hobby, there’s no time like the present. The perfect anecdote for New Year Resolutions and just think of the head start you’ll have on everyone else beginning in January.

Chosen my flower-girl frock

Hello lovely readers, a tiny plea. Let’s just archive this endless rhetoric around Marriage Equality in the annals of history and vote YES ok? ‘Cos I’ve already picked my flower-girl frocks for my gay buddy’s weddings and I don’t wanna have to fight for a refund!


Finding ‘mindfulness’

Hello there lovely readers, now put that device down and listen up. Having trouble doing that? Well today’s blog is all about a whole new, rapidly growing industry focused on helping you do so. Remember the days of Eckart Toll’s ‘The Power of Now’ extolling the virtues of conscious awareness’? Familiar with Yogis and meditation gurus banging on about the virtues of meditation for stilling the mind? Same premise, new buzzword ‘mindfulness’.

Did you know that goldfish now have a greater attention span than we do? Seven seconds while those sweet little suckers have eight!. This due to our febrile attempts to accomplish bigger, greater, more – from the moment we rise, to the second we lay our weary heads upon our lavender spritzed sleep inducing pillows. Yep, time to focus on stilling the mind.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve a whole bunch of chattering monkeys banging away in my head. The same critters who reach a crescendo during post Yoga Shavasana where, instead of focusing on breathing, palm trees and shimmering water, I find myself mentally singing ‘Old MacDonald had a…haeeey macarena!!’

Seems the only time I was able to quell the monkeys was during time spent wandering around France, no deadlines (other than grabbing a baguette before the village closed for afternoon siesta), no expectations, just me, alone with those busy, busy thoughts. Until the day I looked up to take note of a street name on a wall to mark my way home and discovered a mosaic space invader. My quest to find them all (see Space Invaders) soon brought a whole new world into focus.

Before I knew it I found myself marvelling at dappled sunlight through the plane tree leaves, the delicate patterns inside the Arc de Triomphe, the Meccano struts of the Eiffel tower; the weight of massive curtain tassels in the Palace Opera.

I smiled at the pure joy on a little girl’s face as birds alighted on her seed proffered hand. Joined the infectious giggles of twin baby girls, identically attired in white leggings and camel puffer jackets, pushing boats across the pond. (With just a slight distraction as I secretly coveted their impeccably attired mother’s Louis Vuitton cross body patent purse). Tuned into the click of boules. Laughed at the disconnect as a rabble of folk with an assortment of instruments bashed out a tune only they recognised. Cried while listening to the pure notes of a choir in a back street Synagog. Ate a whole bowl of warm, freshly picked market cherries just to feel their burst of sweetness. Sensed the atmospheric feel of impending rain, revelled in the smell of ozone, wet tarmac. Nailed it lovely readers! Mindfulness.

Thing is, we can’t just pootle off on sojourns to escape the everyday busyness of life as we know it today.  We also know we can’t keep clinging to the pretty roundabout horse, losing our sense of inner harmony without consequence. Ask Arianna Huffington (author, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, now owned by AOL) who experienced first hand the detriment of trying to do too much for too long and, after recovering from collapse, now advocates for getting off that goddamned horse. So too Lisa Messenger, founder of the Collective, Camilla (of the Flowing Caftan genre) and so many more.

So what to do to regain our balance? Well darlinks, you can actually app your way to work-life balance and, being queen of apps, I thought I’d build you a little toolbox of said helpers to get you started:

Eight fabulous apps for stilling the mind:

Antisocial: On average, people touch their smart phones 2,617 times a day. This app tracks how much time you spend on your device and helps you become more mindful about your usage.

Buddhify: Eleven hours of meditations designed to squeeze a little peace into every part of your day, from the start of day until you hit the hay.

Bloom: Keep your workaholic tendencies in check by turning your most-loved picks and music into mini-movies that you can schedule to appear during your day; along with pre-made reminders – ‘time for a glass of water sport!’

Thrive Away: Arianna Huffington’s new organisation ‘Care of Thrive Global’ comes with an app that allows you to take a proper vacation from your inbox. Thrive Away let’s senders know your not at your desk and automatically deletes all new emails while you’re relaxing.

OffTime: blocs apps, filters out notifications and sets up auto-replies to stop your smartphone gatecrashing your creative concentration or special moments with loved ones.

Pocket: If you’re prone to falling down internet rabbit holes, this beauty puts articles, tweets, videos – pretty much anything – aside for viewing when you’re not on the job. Save links straight from your browser for the commute home.

Pause: Set a time, pop in those ear buds and do what you’re told by this audiovisual app aiming to bring mindfulness to your day. Big circles, slow motions, my personal fave!

Habitbull: Habits can both enhance or damage your life and this sweet little app will help you make or break a few more. It deploys an army of strategies to keep you across your habits, from generating graphs to displaying progress and encouraging you to set specific goals

Enjoy!! And if you’ve any you’d like to share, please drop a line in the comments.

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