Thursday, 31 March 2016

Why is it important to stay current?

                            Image result for sufi quotes on enthusiasm, learning

I know that I blat on & on about this. Yes, I do know. And I have been caught out quite a few times not being current.

It's good to keep up with what's happening

Recently, I thought I’d start using trains to get around, where appropriate. I had a major embarrassing time. First, I couldn’t find the timetable at the railway station (I was on the wrong side of the tracks, literally). I had to ask an extremely old lady what to do. Then, I couldn’t work the ticket machine. Luckily there was a school boy there who sorted me out. I was embarrassed. I keep doing this sort of cringe-worthy thing, so I have decided to get out & about, here & there, just to keep up with what’s happening in the world of machinery.

I was the bottom of the class at (free) computer school, 6 years ago, but now I can whizz around a computer very well. I think it has to do more with worrying about wrecking the computer & then having to pay to get it sorted, that makes people a bit scared around computers, but in reality, it is just like learning a new language.

Don't let your years hold you back

I have done all sorts of things in my life, refusing to be defined by circumstance, finances, sex, or age: 

  • I have travelled overseas alone, several times, on the smell of an oily rag
  • I have started small businesses with no capital
  • I have learnt great spiritual secrets by studying & living these secrets
  • I have friends of all ages: some in their 80s, some in their early 20s. I do not define friendship by age
  • I have been affluent & I have been, shall we say, very not affluent?
But along the way I have never stopped looking ahead. There is so much that anyone who is not in some of the atrocious world circumstances, can do. There is so much I can’t do too, but that’s just me.

Why stay current with how we look?

Regarding our appearance is another matter. There are reasons to stay current. The first is, as Helen Mirren said, that being stuck in the past in our appearance makes us invisible. When we are invisible, we are treated as someone who has no value. And that’s just not nice. It’s also ageist.

I know we can feel “young” wearing clothes, hair & make-up that we wore when we were younger. But it just doesn’t look youthful. It looks “old”, stuck in the past. 

Maintain enthusiasm for life

And, being current is tied up with knowledge, too:

  • if we keep learning, we keep growing
  • our curiosity stays “awake”
  • our enthusiasm is fired up
  • we find ways to work out things to do with what we are learning
  • we are able to work longer hours at what we are learning
These are all youthful attributes.

Don’t go rushing into not being current. I know older people who have businesses, travel the world teaching their modality, teach yoga, keep working, & all of these whom I am thinking of, are over 70. The yoga teacher is in her 80s & still works part time as a psych nurse. Keep up with your profession, keep up with what’s happening in the world, in technology, in everything that you can. It is truly much more interesting.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Helen Mirren on keeping young

                            Image result for Helen Mirren

Helen is an inspiration

Helen Mirren is the epitome of being young, when, in fact, her years would say otherwise. Helen is 70. She has white hair, wrinkles, says she has short footballer’s legs. But, she totally represents someone who seems ageless.

By comparison, Raquel Welch, whom I’ve always admired on her stance to be taken more seriously as an entertainer & her generosity in donating a fortunes worth of her wigs to women with cancer, has fillers in her face, so she has few wrinkles then, an incredible body, does tons of exercise, eats a rigid diet, immaculate hair, wears the most glamorous of clothes. To me, she screams “I’m old but I’m not”. Something is missing. And that beautiful face is quite swollen & puffy. So many wealthy women in the public eye do this to their face. To me, that’s really creepy. Why do it, I wonder? Is the fear of ageing so bad?

I think not, & Helen Mirren seems to have cracked it:

  • she doesn’t do tons of exercise. She just does a bit, or not, as she says her exercise regime is erratic. Sometimes she does some yoga, sometimes she will go to a gym, but she is more likely to do neither as a matter of course
  • for decades she has done the xbx exercises from many years ago ago. These exercises are more like callisthenics & there are ten exercises in the women’s exercises, & several levels. Once you can do so many repetitions of each exercise in about one minute, you go up to the next (harder) level. But she doesn’t always do these, either, even though they are her mainstay
  • she does tense all her muscles for 5 minutes here & there. I suppose that it reminds her body that she does have muscles
Whatever she is doing, it does work, so tons of exercise is not the key to looking youthful.

She also says that:

  • she doesn’t diet but somehow seems to always be on a dieting
  • in other words, she keeps an eye on her food intake
  • she has a bit of wine. 
So, excessive dieting is not the answer, either.

Looking good

  • she uses ordinary skin care & make-up from the chemist
  • she frequently cuts her own hair, & I have copied this: pull all your hair up high into a ponytail on top of your head & cut across the ponytail so that the hair is the same length. It creates layers which sit really nicely. In a film role, it is cut by a hairdresser to fit the character
  • she also dyes her own hair, & is now one of the faces of L’Oreal hair dyes 
So this look & attitude of youth is definitely not about fancy contrived “youthful” hairdos, either.

Helen stays current

Another thing: Helen is current. Her hair, make-up, clothes, these all belong to “today” . Definitely not to “yesterday”. So important.  Have you noticed that many people get stuck looking as they did when they were earlier, & thereby instantly age themselves? Truly, it’s a great way to be “overlooked” by others, because it so screams “yesterday”. We become invisible. 

How to be more visible

She recommends feeling better as a quick way to change this, & one of the best ways to do that is through our appearance. She was talking about dyeing hair, but it could be anything. Try it: do just one thing, (the ole 5% rule!), then another time, do another little change. According to Helen, when we feel better, we become more visible.

And she dresses so well! She says she is in-between costume & art, with her clothes. She dresses in modern clothes. And Helen loves high heels, which may not work so well in everyday life unless your work entails high heels. On the red carpet, she is mesmerising, so glamorous.

Her top secrets

Her best tip? “The hunger for looking forward, not back, keeps you young”. 

She also says that she “is growing up, still learning”. The desire to traverse new horizons creates an excitement in our body & psyche. Never stop learning, never stop being curious. Never stop working, at something, whatever is meaningful to you.

You won’t mysteriously get young following Helen’s advice. But you will be more youthful. And that is more important. You will be more dynamic, more looking forward to your life.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

on being organised

                    Image result for witty saying about being organised
                        (this can often sum up all of our plans)

I was chatting with a friend recently about the perils of being a yoga teacher, in regards to time, & managing our time. You would think that yoga teaching is a serene occupation, but the reality is: 

  • you can’t get sick or you lose income
  • you still have a family life
  • you are expected to look good
  • your income varies each week depending on the number of people who turn up to class
  • you travel all over the city, teaching early morning before daylight, morning, evenings, & weekends
  • you often can't have regular meals
So there can be a lot of stress. 

For many years I was a solo mum who taught yoga, often doing the equivalent of one and a half jobs. Time was so tight & I had to find ways to manage it. Now I live on my own & it’s not so frantic. I’m still teaching yoga, but a lot less classes. So I don’t have to be so organised about everything. I still do some of my old habits in this area though. 

Helpful habits

Here are some, plus included are some that I only did in spurts, but wish I had done always, for time, health & money reasons:

  • have a 4-5 minute make-up routine 
  • keep all the make-up, moisturiser, etc, that you will need, together
  • have a hair routine that you can actually do in the time that you have available. I have never been able to use blow-dryers nor curling rods, so my routine is wash, massage a bit of mousse through, then fluff my hair up with my fingers as I move around the morning. I could look better with my hair, however this could involve some major tantrums trying to do it, so I don’t.
  • have a “look”. It makes getting dressed easier. It can still be a great “look”. Just keep it simple & manageable. Elizabeth Hurley (my secret mentor), has a “look” for evening glam, & a “look” for everyday. We can too.
  • get your clothes, underwear, shoes, umbrella if it’s raining, together, the night before
  • get anything else that you need for the day, & put them with your bag
  • have a roomy bag! Keep your bag always in the same place, whether it’s at home, or at work.
  • keep your cell phone in or by your bag, always. Plus your house keys & diary
  • if you are asthmatic, keep an inhaler in your bag. I have a small strip of anti-histamines in case I eat nightshades (ps I usually don’t, but I like to be prepared!). And my iron tablets, so that I always know where they are
  • a comb for the tidy look
  • I also grab my torch if I'm working evenings
So basically it’s whatever you personally might need on a daily basis when you are away from home. 

Be organised

  • keep your diary updated
  • I also use a wall calendar so I can block out days away, seminars, etc, & therefore I know not to double book. 
Recently I decided to just have the wall calendar…..disaster! I then missed appointments & promises. Not a good look. I now have a diary again…..And I have always updated all this on Monday mornings, as it helps with organising my life.

Our diet needs to be organised, too

  • have the same breakfast nearly every day. And make sure that you always have the makings of your breakfast in your cupboards. Another hint is to eat food that doesn’t drop your blood sugar. Protein in the form of eggs, smoothies with protein powder, baked beans, are excellent. I have made protein smoothies, on & off for breakfast, for decades.
  • if you can manage it, have the same lunch every day that you are at work. Make it easy to prepare & either get it ready after dinner for the next day, or throw it together in the morning. One of my sisters always had the same salad at work, which she made before work. Another sister made extra protein for dinner & then added salad ingredients before leaving for work. A friend takes a tin of tuna with some sauce on it, like chilli tuna, plus fruit & muesli bars. She works outside so this really suits her. Yet another friend took pita bread, salad stuff & protein to put inside it, to work, & kept it in the fridge there
  • fill your water bottle
  • make sure that you have your breakfast and lunch ingredients always available. And that goes for your children’s food, too. Of course
  • have a small dinner menu list. It sounds so boring but it does reduce stress. Make sure that it is food that everyone whom you are cooking for, likes. If you have a slow cooker, you can use a can of tomatoes, some chopped onion & vegetables, powdered spices & protein. Toss them in before work, then eat yummy food when you have dinner!  Make a nutritious soup one evening so it’s always in the fridge for when you quickly need to grab something for tea or lunch.
  • shop once a week if you are time crunched. I just keep a list in my diary of what I am running out of & will also need, keeping this simple, also
And housework

  • wash dishes or fill dishwasher before bed
  • for many years, I put on a load of washing first thing as I padded off to the bathroom. And hung it out on a clothes horse, or outside, before work. If you have kids, it really helps to keep on top of the washing
For keeping the home &/or office organised, I can recommend Lots of hints & structure. Impulsiveness is lovely, but organisation is even lovelier when life is frantic. If like me, you are secretly a bit pompous & virtuous, you will feel very proud of yourself when you are organised. It also prevents major meltdowns.

Pay your bills online. Make a time for it each week, fortnight or month. Diary it. These days I just put any receipts that I need to keep, in a plastic sleeve. But I no longer have many bills, so that’s okay. Plus the ones that come through email can just go into their own folders when they are paid.

Organisation makes life easier

The idea is to sort our lives out in an organisation way, so that life is better, & there is no stress. Our relationships with our loved ones are nicer when things flow easier. And we are nicer & happier. Sometimes we just need to try out a few things to see what works for us.

Oh, & I too know what it’s like to be so stressed that you burn the toast & smoke out the house getting kids & myself out of the house in time. Yep, nearly every morning. And having a reluctant child who had to be tossed out of the car outside the school gates, as I quickly locked the doors & drove off fast. And another who wouldn’t get out of bed, wouldn’t eat breakfast, then stressed over clothes, hairdos, lunches (you know what I’m secretly meaning by “stressed”). 

The difference between having two children & then having just one (who is many years younger than the first two)...the different was huge. Anyone who works whether it's part-time or full-time, & has a few kids too, you are a legend.

the Pareto Principle

                         Image result for Pareto Principle

 What is The Pareto Principle?

The Pareto Principle is where 80% of results are determined by 20% of earnings, or efforts. It is used by entrepreneurs to work out how best to …well, how best to make money, actually. So for someone like myself, who is self-employed, when I looked at my income a few years ago, it was with this principle in mind. 

How I used it to sort out my income

Where was my money coming from? 

  • teaching yoga
  • giving readings
  • doing healings
 I made more money at a single session of doing a reading or healing, but overall, it accounted for less than 10% of my earnings. My income came from yoga:

  • I did seminars
  • had written many courses
  • I took public classes & private classes. 
The most prolific of my earnings, at that time, was from just a couple of private classes. I got 80% of my income from a couple of private yoga classes. I put the most effort (80% of my efforts) into the public classes, & got less than 10% of my earnings from the. The Pareto Principle in reverse really. So I dropped the public classes, except one, & did a few privates each week, plus the odd reading or healing. I worked less, gave better service overall, & made more money. And reduced my stress levels.

It works for other things too

This principle is not only about money. It covers many things. For example:

  • it has been found that, in a country, the overall wealth of that country will be held by 20% of the people. (I am assuming that the other 80% of us are doing all the work…….)
  • if you look at your clothes, you may well find that you only use the same 20% of them over & over, & the other 80% takes up too much space, & causes clutter
  • when I moved house recently, I kept only what I thought was my 20% of everything: clothes, books (that was the hard one!) kitchen “stuff”, bed linen, towels, cushions, etc. I thought that I didn’t have much to start with, but truly, I could have opened up a small op shop with all the gear I gave to church shops & friends. There is more going as time goes on. Reducing clutter, having less “stuff” reduces stress, & overall, makes for less housework & a cleaner tidier home
  • I intend this year to look at a few more 20/80 “things”. Today I’m looking at my diet a bit more closely, to see what I eat (20%, which really is only a measly amount) that in turn creates 80% of weight problems. And then my 20% of foods that I actually eat often, which gives me 80% of my optimum nutrition. Which I sort of already do. I know the foods that I eat over & over that make me feel satisfied & satiated. And most of the time that is what I stick with & what I buy. But it is time to update things, minimise some things, & swop some other things for lower fat, lower calorie versions. For example, when my cheese is used up I’m going to use cottage cheese with some parmesan instead. Not always…but often, as I’ve noticed that I can go for weeks without cheese…….then when I do buy it, I eat too much of it
  • and I’m looking at my remaining books. What to keep (I love books!!), & what to say a sad adieu to. My beloved Star Trek books are mostly gone (sob!), all the yoga books that I had never even read, excess jewellery & knick knacks. I’ve moved into a very wee cottage & there simply isn’t the space to keep all my bits & pieces. What I intend to do with a less cluttered life is to do more things that I truly love to do

Other ideas for using this Principle

We can use the Pareto Principle on many levels:

  •  you might find that 80% of your problems can be vastly reduced, just by looking at the 20% of causes
  • 80% of wasted money. What are you doing 20% of the time to cause this? 
  • look at your job: what 20% is giving the best 80% outcome?
  • what 20% is causing you the most headaches? You know, messy clutter, time wasting
  • what are the 20% of relationship difficulties caused by? 
Honestly, once you get into it, everything gets a lot easier to sort out. Obviously it’s a bit silly to do it 24/7, but a wee recap now & then is like doing a wee WOF (warrant of fitness for a car) on our life. It can become a regular habit for updating our life, for simplifying things, thereby decreasing stress. And when we drop off the excess of anything, & I’m not just talking about belongings here, we create a void, a vacuum, for something better to come into our life.

Friday, 4 March 2016

contentment & change


                    Image result for sufi quote about contentment

Sometimes we can just be content

I was having lunch with a friend the other day, & she talked about contentment, in a personal way. About how you may not have all you would like, but still being content with what you have, rather than moaning, or being down about what is missing.

I have been musing about it ever since. My friend is also very practical and is the person who does do things to make life good, so it wasn’t as though she was saying that her life is terrible and she is determined to be content with that.

I live in a lovely country

Most of us do have aspects of our life which we can be
content with. We live in a lovely country. New Zealand is just beautiful. If we suffer sudden financial or medical misfortune, there is always social welfare here to help us get by. We are not in a war zone, nor are our children starving in a refugee camp. We have clean water. If we are poor in NZ, there are also food banks and some of the churches do soup and bread evenings.

Sometimes life is not so good
But when our life is not good, and for many of us, we will have times when this is so, it is a very positive step to find ways to make it better. If this is difficult, maybe you don’t have much time to make big changes, or maybe there is resistance within yourself and/or around you. 

We can make little changes

But even so, you still want things to be better, little changes are easier. Such as in the 5% system: change something by 5% and you will get a 20% effect. Change a few things 5%, & the overall effect can be quite a surprise! Because you end up with far more than a 20% effect from your 5% change. Instead you end up with several 20%s!

So, how do we work out what a 5% change is? I certainly don’t. It would drive me a tad nutty trying to do the maths! I just make a wee change. An effortless one regarding what I’m working on. Then I just make a concentrated effort to do it. It is the doing something over and over that makes it a habit. And if it doesn’t feel good, I change it and try something else!! 

Two of the 5% changes I’ve made that I’m quite happy with, are:

  •  to have two glasses of water between dinner & bed, which stops night time munchies
  • the other is to use cleanser & a night cream each evening, rather than a rub with a baby wipe then nothing on my face: I saw positive results within a week.

Am I content with the results? 

  • well, I would prefer not to have sun damage and wrinkles, but I can’t deny that the skin care results have been nice, so, yes, I can be content with that
  • am I content with the evening water? It has led me to down water when I’m out at a cafĂ©, sometimes lots of water. I now usually have a glass of water with my meals. I’ve learnt to have a bottle of water within eyesight at home, which usually means that I drink more water. It feels good. I’m not actually totally content here. But, hey, I’m working on drinking more water overall and being content with my water intake, so that’s a bonus.

Little changes when money is tight

Getting back to the more serious aspects: even in financial hardship, we can make 5% practical changes:

  • we can read books and use the internet, for free, at the library
  • we can take the kids to a park to play
  • we can walk more, rather than spend money on transport
  • we can take homemade sandwiches when we go out

There are so many wee changes we can do, that add up to lots of 5% changes which give a bigger effect:

  • if we are lonely, we can visit an elderly neighbour, or get out and about just to meet people
  • when we do nice things for others, we get really good hormones being released in our body and brain complex. These hormones certainly make us feel good and help with contentment
  • when we do things that reduce stress, such as changing how we use money when we don’t have much, our health improves. The stress hormones, they make us overweight, they also make our body go out of kilter in other ways.

I was talking with a man who was in Narcotics Anonymous for years. He said that at meetings he would listen to some of the unbelievably awful and sad stories of other peoples’ lives, and that would make him realise that his own life was good, and that, in comparison, his own troubles were nothing.

Sometimes it just takes hearing another’s story to make us realise that we have a lot to be content with. But if life is awful, try wee changes. If this doesn’t work, you might have to rethink your situation. For example: I can tell you from hard and painful experience that when you keep making what you believe are positive changes in maybe an abusive situation, whether at home or at work, or elsewhere, sometimes a way bigger change is needed. If this is your situation, ring Lifeline, or go to the Citizens Advice Bureau, which is usually within the local library complex, or, if it’s really bad, Vivianna/the women’s refuge. Sometimes we actually have to step out of a horrible situation and rebuild our lives to come to contentment. But, it can be done.

Contentment is wonderful to strive for and achieve, and all human beings deserve to be able to be content, whether yours is a difficult situation, or quite good really.

moving in different worlds

                              I moved from one world, into another, when I was young When I was twelve, I went to live with Dad, and my ...