How to keep exercising outdoors in the drought

“How CAN you keep exercising outdoors in the drought????”

I’m writing this blog post because over the past year lots of people have said they just don’t know how I can keep exercising outdoors in the drought. We typically think of nature as nurturing and health-giving, a place of solace and retreat. Being confronted by a shockingly dry environment with frequent bushfires, brown landscapes that used to be green, National Park closures, and dry waterways, it’s clear that nature has a shadow side as well.

flowers before the drought

“It’s REALLY tough!”

To be completely open, I’ve also questioned how I can keep exercising outdoors in the drought. The whole climatic situation has been tough. Really tough! The ripple effect of the drought has swept up farmers, wildlife, local businesses, ‘town’ people, and those in the cities. We’re all affected in various ways either directly or indirectly. There’s a pervasive and damaging sense of hopelessness, and like any emotion, it’s contagious. Yet a sense of hope is exactly what we need to survive difficult or traumatic situations. Where there’s hope, there’s life. Without it, we spiral into a self-fulfilling doom and gloom mentality.

Exercising outdoors has been very confronting. I can’t walk on my home trails without seeing or smelling death. The brown dust colours my view as if I’m looking through a sepia filter. Ticks are in plague proportions. Swarms of good ole slow country flies are driving me nuts. The heat is unbearable. And there’s not enough water for washing your hair after a workout.

My stress tank is overflowing! How about you?

My connection with nature runs very deep, as does my yearning to be active. But in this tough time, I also came down with shingles. My stress tank began to overflow. I had to do something differently. Bushwalking and bike riding whilst constantly thinking about the drought and feeling unwell was contributing to the stress.

So what CAN you do when being in nature is SO stressful?

You have to put your creative thinking hat on to find a solution when things get tough. What worked before is no longer effective. The questions people keep asking me (and that I wanted solutions for too) are:

  • How can I reconnect with the side of nature that heals and nurtures and teaches?
  • How can I enjoy my time outdoors without feeling overwhelmed?
  • What mindset shift do I need?
  • What actions do I need to take?
  • How can I keep exercising everyday?
exercising in the drought
Exercising in the drought has it’s challenges

So I set you to explore this new territory and experiment with the possibilities!

Here are 6 solutions that I’ve discovered. I hope they work for you too!

1. Podcasts

If you haven’t got on the bandwagon yet, then you really need to! Podcasts are audio shows, a bit like a radio show, that you can either stream from the Internet or download onto a device to listen to later. I download episodes from my favourite shows onto my phone, plug my ear phones in, and listen to inspiring, energising interviews while I walk. Instead of focusing my attention on my surroundings, I lose myself in the show and arrive back home with excitement for life and new ideas to put into action. Watch out for a future blog post about my favourite podcasts suitable for Android or Apple.

2. Set an Intention

Before heading out on a walk or ride, I often choose an intention – something I want to focus on or get out of my experience. This is a personal choice, so it can be anything at all. Some of the intentions I’ve set for myself go like this:
“Today I will notice new growth”
“Today I will focus on the sensations in my legs”
“Today I will find fun”
“Today I will discover colour”
“Today I will notice sounds”

3. Mindful Walking

With mindful walks I like to focus on one sense at a time and when I notice my mind has wandered away from my body, I gently bring it back to rest on my senses. I’ve especially enjoyed focusing on my sense of hearing – noticing the many different bird calls, the sounds of the breeze in the trees, my footsteps on the ground, insects buzzing around, wallabies bounding along. I usually focus on one sense for a few minutes, then move onto another one. With my sense of touch, I focus on how it feels to have clothes on my skin, feet in my shoes as I take a step, muscle movement, sunscreen on my face, leaves brushing my skin. When I focus on my sense of sight, I challenge myself to find colours and light and patterns that I don’t normally notice. You can also use a meditation app with a guided practice for mindfulness of walking.

4. Photography

I’ve discovered that taking photos along the way really helps me to bring my attention to the beautiful things. Sometimes I combine photography with an intention or a mindful walk so that I can collect images that bring me joy, and at the same time it helps my brain to collect evidence that there is hope.

5. Make it Social

Walking or riding with other people can be really helpful because the focus is on that invisible connection between myself and someone else. Give me a deep and meaningful conversation with a friend any day, plenty of laughs, a chance to debrief the stuff of life that drives me crazy, and to celebrate the rest. Sometimes, too, there’s a sneaky competitive edge that sees me running or riding faster when I’m with others. Inevitably that ends up in a heap of laughs too, gasping for air, heart pounding out of my chest, and the satisfaction that I’ve done my weekly interval training.

6. Mix it up

I’ve always said “I’m not a gym person”. I’ve built a business and identity around my outdoor adventures. BUT, being unwell and being in the drought has helped me re-set my rigid thinking about exercise. Instead of going outdoors everyday, I went to an aqua class with a friend, did loops of the river walk in town where it’s a bit greener, and took up an irresistible offer to join a gym. I’ve extended the variety of exercise I get which is a fantastic thing! It will help me enjoy and have greater success with my outdoor adventuring which I’m still doing at least a couple of times a week. Going to the gym also gets me focusing on my sadly neglected strength training (one of those things I really ‘should’ be doing at my age!), all whilst staying out of the flies and heat. I get to make new friends and pace myself sensibly (sort of) as I recuperate. At home I’ve also begun a more regular yoga practice – something I’ve been wanting to do but it’s been a lower priority until now.

To Sum Up: Choose Your Focus!

It’s really all about CHOOSING WHAT YOU FOCUS ON. When we feel like we have What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?no control or influence over a situation (like the drought), it’s important to push the pause button, think about it creatively, and choose your focus. Like many people, I’ve struggled with exercising outdoors in the drought. The ideas I’ve shared in this article have made a huge difference to me, my mental state and my physical health. My hope is that they help you too.

Let me know what works for you! Have you got some other ideas to share with our readers?

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

What is a Word of the Year and why do I need one?

“Word of the Year” ….. A word that represents a way of being, an attitude or a mindset that serves as a road sign guiding you towards a goal you want to achieve before the end of the year.

I LOVE having a word of the year! And not just any old word. I put a lot of thought into choosing my word (or phrase) so that it aligns perfectly with my goals for the coming year.

Why I began using a word of the year

I began choosing a word of the year a few years ago to help me stay on track with my goals. I’d been really busy at that time, juggling lots of different contracts and spending all my time trying to please every organisation using their own systems. I always felt behind, disorganised, and I put increasing pressure on myself to do all the things for everyone.

I yearned for something simpler. I wanted to feel calm, organised and satisfied with my work again. I wanted everything to be simpler but I felt stuck because I didn’t know how to get to that point. When I took the time to reflect, it was a pretty obvious decision to choose “simple” as my word of the year!

my word of the year - simple

Now, simple isn’t something you do. It’s a state of being or a mindset that guides the actions you take, a bit like a train track that keeps the train heading in the right direction. So, when I was faced with choices in the following year, I allowed my word of the year to guide me. I chose simple over complicated. I let go of all sorts of things that were in the way of me living a simple, calm and organised life.

My word of the year was a true shining light for me that year. Choosing a word of the year has become a very important routine for me, and one that I love to share with others.

Why you should have a word of the year too

You can use a word of the year to guide you towards a goal, to stay in alignment with your values, to help you pivot your business, or to create any other sort of change you would like to see in your life. When you allow your word of the year to be a core component of your decision-making, it will be a powerful tool for change.

How do you choose a word of the year?

Read through the following points and make a some notes as you word of the yearreflect. There is a free downloadable worksheet to help you do this on my website, or simply make notes in your own journal. Be careful not to get stuck thinking about all the reasons why ‘this’ can’t happen, and why ‘that’ wouldn’t work. This exercise is to help you focus on possibilities. Our brains spend enough time and energy on the problems, so let’s give it a break for a few moments!

1. Picture yourself 12 months from now.

  • What is one thing you would like to be different?
  • What is one SMART goal you’d like to achieve in the next year?
  • What is something you dream of, something you would like in your life?
  • Even if you don’t have a specific goal or a dream, do you have a vague idea or a feeling that you’d like something to be different in your life?
  • How would you like to be living your life?
  • What attitudes or ‘ways of being’ would you like to be living by?
  • What do you value most in your life? Are you living your life with these as your priority?
  • Do any of your answers stand-out to you? Are there any common threads running through your reflections?

2. What states of being or states of mind will be helpful for you to achieve your goal, dream or desired change?

This is all about HOW you need to BE, not what you need to do, for example being patient, staying grounded or having a bold attitude.

3. What word or phrase best reflects the state of being or state of mind that YOU would most like to focus on over the next year?

This can be your word of the year!

4. Write your Word of the Year down, think about it often, and visualise how it will guide you through the year.

When you feel sure that’s the word you most need or want, plaster it everywhere to keep it fresh in your mind. Make it the centre piece of your vision board. Create a wallpaper for your computer or phone. Write in the front of next year’s diary. Blu tac it to your bathroom mirror. The idea is to get it front and foremost in your mind so that it does the job you intend it to.

my word of the year - adventure

Words of the month, week and day

A year is a long time, and sometimes it helps to have some stepping stones along the way. You can run through a similar process to choose a word of the month, week or the day.

In the bizarre way that the subconscious works, my word of the day often floats into my conscious mind during quiet morning meditation time. It can be a bit like a feather in the breeze, wafting around mid air until it gently settles on the ground. But sometimes my word of the day blasts at me in a song from the radio. Other times it’s gifted to me in the wise words from a loved one or even when I’m listening to a podcast interview. However it happens, I’m always happy to grab it and run with it, knowing it’s all part of the process to help me get from here to there, and in alignment with my overall goals and values.

I’d love to hear from you – have you ever chosen a Word of the Year? How did it help you create an attitude, mindset or a way of being to guide you towards your goal?

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Have you failed if you don’t reach your goal?

Goals, Outcomes and Benchmarks

There is too much emphasis these days on outcomes. If you work for a government or corporate organisation, you’ll likely have KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to aim for. Even if you work for yourself, you’ll be required at some point to reach targets related to income, funding for a project, or your client’s benchmarks. Perhaps you set specific markers for yourself in your work or personal life. Whatever label you slap on them, they’re simply ‘goals’. And success is all about reaching your goal. But have you failed if you don’t reach your goal?

The Benefits of Having a Goal

Not everyone is a fan of goal-setting. Personally and professionally I love them. However I’m very choosy about what goals I commit to, as well as the finer detail that goes with them (that is, the who, how, why, when, where, what and how of the goal). I believe that having a goal to aim for can give you purpose, focus, motivation, structure, and a feeling of success when you’ve reached it.

Failing to Reach Your Goal

I also know what it’s like to NOT reach a goal. In fact there are many goals I haven’t reached. Do I consider myself a failure because I haven’t reached those goals? Definitely not. There’s much more to a goal than the final outcome (despite what business model you might be working under!)

Goals include the nitty gritty mentioned above – the who, how, why, when, where, what and how. If you only look at the ‘what’ factor (that is, the desired outcome), then you’re selling your goal short.

Real-life Examples of Failing to Reach a Goal

Overnight Expedition Fail #1

Last year I set off on an overnight backpacking trip to reach a remote bush camp on an escarpment with a small group. We knew that others had been there before. We even had some trail maps of where they’d been although we found very little other information about the area. We began our trip on an established footpad then veered uphill very steeply off track as we navigated along a ridge line. The going was very tough. There was huffing and puffing; tears; and many self-proclaimed moments of “I can’t do this!” After hours of sweating it out we realised we were simply not going to make it. The route we’d taken was described somewhere as ‘moderate’ but it was nothing like my idea of moderate at all! My new grippy-soled Merrill’s were no match for the steepness of the terrain and I couldn’t get the image of myself sliding uncontrollably down the mountain out of my mind. As dusk arrived and we were still miles away from our destination, we chose to retrace our steps back to a small saddle and set up camp for the night.

As it turned out, camping here in the middle of nowhere was the most magical experience! Stars and night sounds accompanied our tired bodies and minds as we settled down to rest after one of the most gruelling walks I’d ever done. Disappointment called loudly, but I put it in the background, completely mesmerised by what was before me.

Did I fail? Yes, it’s true I failed to reach the destination at the time I planned, but I did not fail in every other aspect of the goal. I tried my hardest on this walk, gathered more information about the terrain, discovered that having a rope would have been handy to navigate some of the steep sections, and I accidentally uncovered the world’s most amazing remote camping spot!

Remote camping
PHOTO CREDIT: Kathryn Walton (author)

Overnight Expedition Fail #2

So gruelling was this trip that I wasn’t interested in making another attempt of this same route. However last week the opportunity arose to try a different route …. to the same destination. Hmmm ….. this could be interesting! So with backpacks on, new maps and routes, a conversation with the Park Ranger to gather more local knowledge, some added confidence, and we were off. We even organised a small water cache for ourselves about 6kms from where we left our car in case we needed it on our return trip. Lesson learned from previous trip!

This time the terrain was not steep and slippery. It was rugged in a different way. Following old logging roads through rainforest proved so slow that it was almost impossible. Our planned route was entirely overgrown with woody vines, weeds, stinging trees and thickets. Navigating using map and compass seemed impossible in the thick rainforest, and using GPS was also haphazard with the dense canopy disrupting satellite communication. Progress was terribly slow. Climbing and untangling, diverting and problem-solving, re-calibrating and double-checking. We gradually made our way through the jungle.

Once again as the sun dropped low in the western sky, we acknowledged we’d failed to reach our destination once again. We’d need at least one more full day of navigating and pushing through scrub and forest to get there at this pace.

Did I fail? Yes, it’s true I did not reach the destination in the allotted timeframe, but in every other aspect I experienced success. I’d tried something new, hadn’t given up, approached each problem that arose with calmness (well, almost!), deeply appreciated the majesty of the rainforest around me, and felt connected with all who had been here before me, and all who would come after me.

Not reaching your goal does NOT equal failure!

So in my opinion, if you set a goal and don’t achieve it in the way you planned or in the time frame you set, that does NOT mean you’ve failed. It simply means you haven’t arrived there yet. It’s an opportunity to learn, re-assess, and redesign. Sometimes it’s an opportunity to say “Actually, that goal isn’t what I want after all. I’m going to change the goal post to suit me, rather than changing myself to suit the goal post.” If you don’t reach your goal, it’s not an indication of failure at all. It’s an opportunity. Go grab it!

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How to get motivated to exercise

How do YOU get motivated to exercise? It’s cold, blustery and misty outside today. I spent most of summer yearning for the cool Arctic breeze to greet me so I can go walking or riding any time of the day without feeling like I’m going to pass out from the heat. After our long, hot, drought-ridden summer, winter has finally arrived. And here I am, huddled in my flannelette pyjamas, fluffy dressing gown and hand-knitted knee rug dreading the thought of going outside.

It’s a tricky head space to be in – knowing that I advocate for an outdoor adventurous lifestyle, and yet here I am, cocooned in my layers, inside my house, and trying desperately to find another thing to delay me before I go outside.

Being very conscious that my actions and values are simply not in alignment, I’ve given myself a stern talking to this week. Motivation is a pretty fickle thing. You can never rely on it. It’s a feeling that comes and goes and is affected by many different things – both positively and negatively. Sitting around waiting for motivation to arrive is fruitless. You need to take ACTION, and motivation will follow in its own good time.

motivation is fickle

I figured I’m probably not the only one who’s struggling at the moment (tell me that is so!!), so I’ve put together a list of tried and true strategies to get us exercising, no matter the weather, and no matter our motivation levels!

18 ways to get motivated to exercise

  1. Be accountable! To someone else, like a friend that you’ve agreed to meet for a walk. Or simply write your planned exercise activity in your diary and let others know ahead of time about your commitment.
  2. Something is better than nothing! Don’t get caught in the all-or-nothing type of thinking. If you’re running short on time, do what you can – 10 minutes is better than nothing.
  3. Make exercise part of your daily routine so there is little room for debate about what you’re going to do and when.
  4. Choose your reward! External rewards work well for some people – think of stickers for your exercise chart, or buying that new piece of gear when you’ve kept to your commitment. Or do you prefer to acknowledge that you feel great on the inside, knowing you’ve chosen well despite it being difficult, or noticing that you feel better?
  5. Celebrate your achievements! Be joyful for the hard work you’ve put in. But be careful you don’t self-sabotage your efforts by spending the rest of the day on the sofa or munching on a box of doughnuts.
  6. Change it up! Any activity that you repeat over and again can lose its gloss. Change your activity, route, place or even the time of day you’ve been exercising.
  7. Change how you see yourself! When you identify with a “healthy me, happy me” mentality, you’ll focus on healthy choices. Conversely if you see yourself as lazy and unfit, your actions are likely to reinforce that attitude.
  8. Break it down! If an hour of exercise seems like an eternity, then you’re going to dread it again tomorrow. Break it down into time portions, or ‘sets’. When I swim laps, I work on 10 minute sets each of kick board, freestyle, backstroke and so on. You can break your walk or ride up into sets too, aiming for a certain number of minutes, steps, mileage or landmarks in each set.
  9. Set goals! Register for an event and use it to keep you on track with your ‘training’ exercise. Or set a new goal each week, for example to walk 25 kilometres or to go to 3 classes by the end of the week.
  10. Do what works for YOU! Get a routine going that works FOR YOU. It’s your life. Your family. Your work situation. Your community. Whatever exercise routine you choose, make it do-able for you.
  11. Focus on something enjoyable! It could be the way the grass is blowing in the breeze, the smell of the wattles flowering, how awesome your new t-shirt feels, the increasing strength in your legs as you pound the pavement.
  12. Sign up! Check out what programs, challenges and memberships are available in your area or online.
  13. Pay your way! Does financial investment motivate you? Some people feel an extra commitment to get out the door after purchasing a membership, training program, new shoes or other equipment.
  14. Get expert support! Exercise physiologists and personal trainers can customise exercises and training plans that gradually build up as you do.
  15. Do what you love to do! If dancing around the lounge room to loud music is your thing, then do it! If digging holes in the paddock to put new fence posts in is your thing, then do it! If running marathons is your thing, then do it! You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.
  16. Be realistic! Know what is do-able for you and set your expectations and goals accordingly to boost your confidence, sense of achievement, and motivation.
  17. Do it for yourself! You’ll feel better, you know you will!
  18. Do it for those around you! Exercise and nature has incredible benefits for the way our brains work, the way we feel, and the behavioural choices we make. Generally, we’re nicer people to be around when we’ve looked after ourselves.

You owe it to yourself as well as others!

And if that’s not enough reason to motivate me to get outside on a blustery day, then I remind myself that I’m accountable to the community of women around me. The women who get involved with my projects, counselling and mentoring programs. I constantly encourage these women to get outside and get active, yet I also know how challenging it can be at times. I owe it to my family, friends and the community of women I work with to shut up, show up and practise what I preach.

Women exercising outdoors

In the end, a little bit of discomfort to get going will reap amazing benefits for the rest of the day. It doesn’t sound that hard, but, man oh man, that gusty wind sure is blowing away some of my motivation!

How will you manage your motivation today?

Let me know:

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to motivation to exercise?

And what strategies work for you?

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How to Look After Your Own Mental Health

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Many of us have grown up believing that to be a ‘good’ person we must always put others before ourselves. Whilst it’s important to care for others and contribute to society in positive and constructive ways, it’s very unfortunate that many people stop caring for themselves and find it difficult to ask for help. We don’t want to burden our families, friends or even our doctors with our ‘problems’ so we tell ourselves that things will get better soon if we keep going, keep pushing on, put on a brave face and try to figure things out for ourselves. There can be a lot of shame and worry that stops us seeking help.

It’s okay, and in fact completely normal, to have moments of despair, anger, sadness, disappointment, grief, anxiety, frustration and confusion. When we accept this is a normal part of being human, it can be a little easier to reach out and ask for help, or share our upsets with someone else. There are different ways you can access help without feeling like you are being burden on others around you.

1. Counselling

worries and mental health

My clients often tell me they come to counselling because they want a safe, confidential, unbiased space to talk through life’s challenges and unload the heavy issues they’ve been carrying. Counselling can also help you problem-solve, prioritise, and develop new skills and strategies. There are many types of counsellors so I recommend talking to your GP who can match you up with a counsellor to meet your needs.

GP Mental Health Treatment Plan

If your GP creates a Mental Health Treatment Plan for you, they can refer you to an accredited Mental Health Worker such as an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, psychologist or other mental health worker with a Medicare Provider Number. You can then claim a rebate from Medicare for up to 10 sessions. Some Mental Health Workers bulk-bill or offer discounts for Seniors or Health Care Card holders.

Urgent Help

If you are feeling very stressed or suicidal, your GP or hospital doctor can refer you to a service that is ready to respond and support you very quickly.

Self-refer

If you prefer, you can self-refer to a counsellor but you will not be able to claim a Medicare rebate. You may be eligible to claim a rebate through your private health insurer however it is important to check before going ahead.

Public Health

Other services are available through the public health system which may be a good fit for your needs too. Your doctor can give you guidance on the best service for your needs.

2. ‘Low Intensity’ Face-to-Face Support

If you don’t think you need counselling but you’d like a bit of support, you may be able to participate in a local group or individual program such as mindfulness training or coping skills training. Once again, the best way to get connected with the right service is having a chat with your GP. Your regional PHN website may also also list these services. Many ‘Low Intensity’ services are funded or subsidised by the Federal Government or not for profit organisations which makes them more affordable.

(For example, if you live in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region you might like to have a look at a clickable map with a list of mental health services.)

3. Online Services and Supports

If you don’t think you need to see a professional, you can access online services and supports. This is not a substitute for individual counselling, but it can be a terrific way of finding information and support from the privacy of your own home. I suggest using websites that are supported or authorised by Australian government bodies or universities so that you know you are getting the best evidence-based information and support. Here are a few recommended websites to get you started:

Black Dog Institute

Black Dog Institute mental health

Black Dog Institute translates world leading research into easy-to-understand information to build a mentally healthy world. On this website you can find:

Beyond Blue

Beyone Blue mental health

Beyond Blue provides information and support to everyone regardless of age or where you live. On this website you can find:

  • Support services for yourself or someone else
  • Information about mental health including anxiety and depression
  • Online forums
  • Online web chat service (you can text or type a conversation with a support worker)
  • Phone and email support services

DV Connect and Womensline

DVConnect mental health

DV Connect Womensline is the only statewide telephone service offering 24/7 support for women who are experiencing domestic or family violence. They offer free, professional and non-judgemental telephone support wherever you live in Queensland. They can arrange practical assistance such as crisis counselling, intervention, transport and emergency accommodation for Queensland women and their children who are in danger from a violent partner or family member. Browse the website or call 1800 811 811 (free call from any public phone).

Men’s Line

Mensline mental health

Men’s Line offers telephone and online counselling for men with family and relationship concerns or mental health concerns. On this website you can find information about:

  • anger, anxiety, depression, stress, responsible drinking
  • relationship problems
  • family violence
  • how to help yourself or someone else who is having suicidal thoughts
  • telephone, online chat, and video chat counselling

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health combines research, clinical care and practical education for women and health professionals. They translate and disseminate research and medical evidence into easy to understand health information. The website includes information about a very wide range of women’s health topics and includes:

  • booklets, fact sheets, articles
  • podcasts
  • webinars
  • recipes
  • tutorials
  • workplace health
  • Women’s Health Week

Do YOU have a favourite online resource? I’d love to hear! Send me an email with your tips and hints!

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Calm on the outside, agitated on the inside

Calm on the outside, agitated on the inside. Does this sound like you? How is that for you? Is it working in your favour? Or is there something you’d like to change?

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Picture This

Goomburra landscape
The stunning landscape at The Grain Shed Retreat, Goomburra Valley (PHOTO CREDIT: Darling Downs Wellness Therapies)

I’d like to invite you to picture yourself relaxed and at ease sipping a cool drink as you gaze out at the rugged mountains and the ancient valleys that surround you. A gentle breeze reminds you of the changing seasons. Thinking towards your future, your confidence rises. Your calm demeanour is a reflection of genuinely feeling calm on the inside. You’ve gained clarity about your dreams and goals, and you’ve tapped into your inner strengths. In the company of like-minded women, you’ve acknowledged the challenges that have held you back. The time for change has come. You’re ready to do things differently, to make self-care a priority, to celebrate who you are, and to take actions that align with your values and purpose.

With a clear plan for working towards your personal goals, you know just what you need to do. You no longer waste your energy stressing over things you can’t change. As you focus more and more on those things you have control over, your circle of influence expands. As you become increasingly inspired by your dream, so too you inspire others around you. Despite the inevitable challenges, you stand grounded in confidence knowing that you’re never alone, that you have the inner and outer resources to maintain your momentum.

Does this sound like you? Or perhaps something you’d like to experience in life?

Inner self, outer appearances

No matter how you appear to others, you are the only one that truly knows your inner turmoil, struggles, challenges, and disappointments. You might go through the motions of being a high functioning worker, mother and partner, but inside you could be experiencing agitation or distress. Lost dreams, worries, a lack of fulfilment – these are just some of the experiences women often keep to themselves. Stewing away inside they create a hot bubbly mess that has us feeling bitter and helpless. But still, we push on. Not happy or content. But we keep on going.

What if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way?

It’s true ….. it doesn’t have to be this way. I know. I’ve been there. Several times. I’ve also walked alongside many women who’ve experienced something similar themselves. We all have a different story, different experiences, but there are also many common threads. By sharing these threads, we get to weave a new story. A more powerful story that builds us up, that empowers us, instead of depleting us.

Companionship, community and connection are key factors

Companionship and community are two of the keys to writing a new story. When we’re very isolated from others we have difficulty thriving. Looking back I can clearly see the turning points in my own life when I connected with the people who became my tribe. I’ve had a couple of very special relationships with other women who truly ‘got me’. They accepted me just as I was. They lifted me up and showed me there’s more to life than the narrow window I’d been looking through. They demonstrated assertiveness and values-based action. They were friends and mentors who have had a profound impact on how I saw myself.

In recent years I’ve also had the privilege of being part of a community of women who openly encourage, inspire, embrace, love and connect with each other in incredibly meaningful ways. This tribe of women reflects many of the values so important to me – independence, connection, innovation, peace, creativity, courage, companionship, community. They’ve taught me that I am enough. Just me. The way I am. No labels. No definitions. No limitations. And that’s given me the space to be even more than I ever thought I was or could be.

I’m still an introvert, I still love my time alone. But now it’s not lonely alone-time. I am deeply connected with others and I’m part of a tribe. We don’t desperately need to be with each other all the time. But the fact that we know we’re a stand for each other, that we’re part of a supportive community, makes each of us stronger and enables us to make a difference in our worlds – both inner and outer.

Women Empowered Retreats

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This is my philosophy behind the Women Empowered Retreats. I know the benefits of connecting women together in deep, rich, meaningful conversation. I know the power of sharing stories in safe spaces. The power of connection and community. The power of knowledge and information sharing. The difference that inspiration makes to our sense of happiness, contentment, and fulfilment. The feeling of being calm on the inside, not just looking calm on the outside.

Every woman is drawn to our retreats for different reasons and will have a different experience from anyone else. Each retreat explores a different theme that weaves together elements of personal growth. But at each retreat we come with an open mind. We seek to be informed, inspired and empowered to be ourselves. We offer a gentle balance of information sessions, reflective activities, mindfulness practices, creative arts, movement, nature, and soul-nourishing food.

Whether you are simply looking for time and space to recharge, or if you are looking for a deeper meaning in your life, you will be inspired and empowered to live the life you love.

An invitation to discover calm on the inside

If this sounds like a slice of heaven to you, then we’d love you to join us for any of our upcoming retreats. This could be the beginning of your journey to discover what it feels like to be calm on the inside, or perhaps it’s an opportunity to connect with a community who will inspire you as you take action towards your dreams. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the region, whether you come alone or with a friend, you’ll be joining a strong, growing community of women who know the value of self-care, personal growth, and connection with others.

Our upcoming “Women Empowered’ events include:

“Yarn & Yoga in the Country”
Friday 26th July 2019 during the Jumpers and Jazz in July Festival

(PHOTO CREDIT: Darling Downs Wellness Therapies)
  • Hike Your Mountain (June 2019)
  • Yarn and Yoga in the Country (July 2019)
  • Women’s Health Retreat (September 2019)
  • Spring Retreat (October 2019)

To keep up to date with details as they are released, subscribe to my emails via my website and follow me on Facebook.

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How to exercise on a budget: what about walking?

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How DO you exercise on a budget?

There are so many pressures to spend your hard-earned money on, well, ummmm ….. basically everything! Including exercise. If you tune into the world around you or if you’re easily hooked into comparing yourself to others, you’ll probably believe that you HAVE to pay for a gym membership, you HAVE to buy fancy equipment to get fit, and that you HAVE to have the latest super-tech clothes if you intend to work up a sweat (which kind of goes along with exercise!).

Well I’m telling you that all these have-to’s are simply not true. Sure, some of those fancy clothes or equipment can enhance your exercise, but for aeons humans have coped quite well with little or no special exercise equipment. I mean, exercise is basically improving your strength and aerobic health through activity that puts a load on your body. It doesn’t HAVE to cost anything, and crying poor is never a reason to stay on the sofa.

Back in my day …..

Ask your grandparents or great grandparents (if they’re still around) and they’ll tellfirewood you what it was like back in their day. I bet they’d say no one needed any gyms or fancy schmancy pants in the olden days: exercise consisted of a hard day’s work out on the farm fixing fences, collecting and chopping wood for the kitchen fire, walking to the shop and doing the laundry in a boiler!

You don’t need a big budget!

Yes, times have changed and it’s a different world we live in, but there are some things that have stayed the same. To exercise on a budget, you simply get back to the basics – focus on your daily dose of physical activity instead of the frills-and-all approach that can suck you in. Get yourself a decent pair of shoes, pull on some comfy clothes and a hat. Slap on some sunscreen. Grab a bottle of water. And you’re all good to go walking, one of the best and most accessible types of exercise we have.

Why is walking ideal? Oh my goodness, let me count the ways!

  1. You can set your own pace
  2. It’s convenient – slip on your shoes and get out the door no matter where walking in bootsyou live or work or travel
  3. You can do it alone or in a group
  4. You’ve probably already got everything you need to go walking
  5. If you don’t have everything, you still don’t HAVE to spend a lot to get started
  6. No special equipment needed
  7. It’s free in general – to tell you the truth, there are a few places I’ve been to that charge a small fee such as a day entry fee to some National Parks or car parking fees in busy tourist or urban spaces, but that’s the exception not the rule. Walking is one of the cheapest ways to exercise on a budget.

Walking ….. “BORING!”

Walking is boring, you say? Well, anything’s boring if you repeatedly do the same thing day after day, in the same place, and in the same way.

Never be bored again!

Here are some ideas to vary up your workout so you’ll never be bored again, even if you need to exercise on a budget (and that’s most of us)!

  1. Mix it up – walk in different placeswalking on the beach
  2. Choose different length walks – some days go long, and other days go short
  3. Go solo, or meet up with a buddy
  4. Join a walking group
  5. Have a go at Park Run
  6. Change up which direction you go on your usual route
  7. Challenge yourself to an uphill climb
  8. Relax with a downhill walk
  9. See the city sights on an urban walk
  10. Climb those stairs – repeatedly!
  11. Go exploring on a water walk – river, dam, ocean
  12. Treat yourself to a bushwalk – check out National Parks, State Forests, reserves
  13. Wander along the beach, feel the sand between your toes
  14. Walk with a purpose: walk to work, school, a friend’s place, bus or train station, shops
  15. Swap your usual routine and enjoy the sights at a different time of day
  16. Grab a map and compass and give orienteering a go
  17. Use a navigation app or device to pre-plan your walk – you can even be really creative by designing a funky picture that overlays the streets and then follow that on your walk
  18. Pace the paddock or local park
  19. Walk with a backpack for added load, or take some light hand weights
  20. Walking meetings are all the rage!
  21. Have a walking break at lunch time or after work to wind down and de-stress
  22. Leave your car a few kilometres from work or the train / bus station and walk the rest of the way
  23. Earn as you walk – deliver newspapers or pamphlets house-to-house
  24. Go window shopping
  25. Take your kids for a walk after school while everyone chats about their day

Walking can be your go-to exercise too!

Walking has always been my go-to exercise because I can do it almost anywhere, any time, with little equipment, no expense, and all the benefits of feeling great and knowing I’m giving my future health an awesome boost! And you can too! Start with any of the ideas above and let me know how you go, or share your other ideas with me on how to exercise on a budget. 

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

7 ways to improve your mental health at work

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We spend a lot of our waking hours in the workplace so it’s no surprise that work and personal life impact each other. It’s an issue we mustn’t ignore. Many of us have been trained or at least socialised to separate our ‘professional selves’ from our ‘personal selves’. To put on our ‘worker’ hat at work, our ‘parent’ and ‘partner’ hat at home, and our ‘volunteer’ hat at weekend sports events. We juggle the different parts of ourselves, keeping our guards up and being careful not to cross boundaries. READ “HOW MANY HATS DO YOUR WEAR?”

But can we completely separate the different parts of our lives? And should we? What are the implications, both good and bad? And how can we re-integrate ourselves when we feel like we can’t keep it all together, or when there is a major change in our work or personal lives?

The real mental health issues in the workplace

Employees, managers and business owners are all in the same boat. Where do we even begin to sort out the issues? In late 2018 Bel du Bois from Darling Downs Wellness Therapies and myself surveyed our community. The results were really interesting. 54% of people said that multiple roles and responsibilities was one of the main health and wellness concerns in their workplace. Stress, unrealistic workloads and communication difficulties also rated very highly.

The struggle to keep it all together

I know first hand what it’s like to juggle family and work responsibilities, and *try* to be calm about it all. Many of us struggle with it, yet few of us talk about it openly. We feel pressure to appear to be coping, on top of things, and to have it all together. But pretending everything’s okay doesn’t make the stress go away. Work, family, home and personal health all suffer.

Whose responsibility?

There is increasing pressure on workplaces to address mental health and wellness issues. This is great because instead of sweeping it under the carpet, we’re beginning to talk about, to acknowledge it and to manage it better.

Obviously the responsibility doesn’t sit entirely with our workplaces. We also need to address industry regulations, state and national policy, and cultural norms.

As individuals we also need to take a degree of responsibility for those things within our control – that means taking a good hard look at ourselves, our reactions in stressful situations, our attitudes, our behaviours, and the supports we choose (or don’t choose) to access.

What this means is that to improve mental health we really have to take a multi-tiered Plan of Actionapproach. We must support workplaces and managers and business owners to create a mentally healthy culture. We need to advocate for industry reform, policy and legislation that reflects a mentally healthy culture. And we need to support individuals and groups in our community to develop inner skills and behaviours (that is, the things we can control!) that enhance mental health. Read on for some tips on how you can begin to put mentally healthy actions in place today.

7 ways to improve your mental health at work

1. Remember that you are a human, not a robot. Life isn’t all smooth sailing, blue skies and cheery hearts. You have thoughts and emotions. They are real. You react to the world around you. The world around you reacts to you too.

2. Find your tribe. A supportive, open, caring community around you is what we all need. If you don’t have that, take steps to create it.

3. Build your resilience – physical and mental. The best ways to begin doing this are through exercise, having active hobbies, feeding yourself nutritious food, getting good quality sleep, and developing a powerful mindset.

4. Expand your stress management skills. You can never have too many tools in your “Coping Kit”! Read books and articles on stress management. Go to workshops. Find a counsellor. Listen to podcasts. Do an online course.

5. Find constructive ways to address your workplace issues. This may mean direct communication with your employer, industry, union or association. There may also be changes you can initiate yourself that will make all the difference eg renegotiating your work hours, equipment available for you to do your job, or the length of your lunch break.

6. Make choices that nurture your mental health and physical health. Often it’s the little things that make the biggest difference, such as choosing to go for a walk at lunch time. But sometimes we need to muster up the courage to make the bigger decisions, such as changing jobs or moving locations.

7. Ask for help. If the first person doesn’t support you in the way you need, ask someone else. Keep going until you find the right person. There are so many online resources these days that you’re no longer limited to what’s available in your local area.

Ready for more?

Wellness in the Workplace

If you relate to anything in this post, I’d love you to join me for The Wellbeing Project, a collaboration between myself and Bel du Bois from Darling Downs Wellness Therapies. We’ll be delving into these topics (and more!) in detail in our dynamic, interactive workshop “Wellness in the Workplace” to be held in Warwick on Wednesday 13th March 2019. You’ll get the latest evidence-based information and proven skills and strategies to function at your best in the workplace and in your personal life. You’ll learn techniques to build your resilience, have more energy, manage your work and home stresses, and feel healthier and happier.

Creating and facilitating workshops brings me a lot of joy. I love knowing that I’m making a difference to a room full of people instead of only one person at a time. Bel and I have thoroughly enjoyed our planning meetings at the beautiful cafes around town and we’ve got so much amazingness in store for you. This workshop is definitely not a typical ‘dry’ boring training day!

So …..

Are YOU ready to re-energise, grow your coping skills, discover strategies and techniques to use at work and home, learn ways of communicating effectively with different personalities, and discover resources and supports to guide you into the future? You can have all of this when you choose to take positive action towards better health and wellness at work by investing one day of your life in “Wellness in the Workplace”.

Read more information or make a booking for “Wellness at Work”

More workshops coming soon! Subscribe so you don’t miss out!

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

The Art of Creating Order Out of Chaos: Real Life Tetris

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The art of creating order out of chaos – this is my everyday life. How about you? I’m sure I’m not alone in this endeavour. Over the recent Christmas / New Year break I had a few insights into my never-ending battle to keep on top of things and what I discovered was that:

  1. Life is like a game of Tetris®. Surprising but true!
  2. We need to acknowledge and give ourselves more credit for the valuable skills we use in managing the everyday messy stuff in life.
The Art of Playing Tetris®

Whilst I’ve never been a fanatic of electronic games, Tetris® has definitely held a degree of fascination for me. There’s something mesmerising about watching the constant trickle of 4-sided blocks floating gently towards the ground, seamlessly slotting into a void, filling the gap with effortless precision to create a smooth, even landscape, so pleasing to the eye and oh so satisfying!

But just when you begin to truly relish in your sense of control and power, your skill and dexterity, the blocks begin to fall with ever increasing unpredictability, speed and frequency. The art of slotting individual pieces in to the already established landscape becomes more and more complex with greater demands on the player. The speed of the game combines with skilled technique, lightning quick reflexes and co-ordination, finely tuned problem-solving and decision-making, until it all becomes too much. The brain overloads, the fingers go on strike, the eyes stop tracking efficiently, and the body slumps over, head held in hands finding comfort in the curled up foetal position as it relinquishes its task to the too hard basket.

Dramatic maybe? Of course! But how much like everyday life is this!

order out of chaos

Real Life Tetris®

With the juggling of tasks, people, places and things over Christmas time, I had a moment of realisation that I was actually playing real life Tetris®. Calmly and smoothly orchestrating meals, bushwalks, visits, and baking sprees.

And then another lightbulb went on as I was decluttering. Ding ding! I’m playing real life Tetris® with my cupboards. Shifting A to B and sending C over there so I can bring D back, put half of E here and throw F away.

Then more lightbulb moments as I sat down to do some time planning for the coming year and give special attention to my fruitless never-ending quest to ‘do all the things I love’. Blocking time out for this, deleting that, shifting that commitment to there and allowing space for the unpredictable (there’s never enough space for the unpredictable!)

Shining the Light on the History of Tetris®

With all these lightbulbs illuminating my life, I decided to learn a bit more about Tetris® to see if it could unlock any hidden secrets for me to successfully bring order to chaos and avoid the inevitable overwhelm. Apparently Tetris® was developed by a Russian game designer Alexey Pajitnov in the 1980’s (* thanks Wikipedia). The name comes from ‘tetra’ referring to 4 sides, combined with ‘tennis’ which was the designer’s favourite sport.

The Brain Benefits of Playing Tetris®

Research has suggested that playing Tetris® boosts cognitive functioning such as critical thinking, reasoning, language and processing. Studies have begun to explore the use of playing Tetris® to help people manage traumatic memories, dieting, smoking, drinking, and even treating “lazy eye”.

The Benefits of Playing Real Life Tetris®

So assuming these benefits are dinky di, how many benefits might there be when we scale Tetris® up to my real life version?

When I struggle with juggling ‘all the things’, how might I have a different experience if I focus on the skills I’m using and expanding?

What might be different if I acknowledge that the tedium of everyday life – managing a home, family, community projects and a small business – might actually be honing my skills of precision, co-ordination, mental acuity, recovery, not to mention the aspect of unexpected therapeutic intervention!

What Game Are You Playing?

Is your real life like a game of Tetris® too?

Or perhaps it’s more like another game. I’d love to know! Contact me with your thoughts and reflections.

PS Perhaps it’s no surprise that I love jig saw puzzles too!

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How Many Hats Do You Wear?

I often wonder “How many hats do you wear?” It’s something that goes through my mind because I often struggle with the hats I wear. Some days I think my problem is simply that I have way too many hats, or that some of them just don’t suit me and I should give them away. But other days I’m all over it. On those days I go to bed feeling completely satisfied and know deep down in my heart that I’ve got exactly the right number of hats (and the right types of hats) that I need in life.

Multiple Roles and Responsibilities

“Hats?” you say ….. Well, I’m not talking here about the kinds of hats you wear on your head to keep the sun off or the cold out. Here I’m talking metaphorically about the different roles and responsibilities we each have in life. To list them all would take pages and pages, so here are a few of the hats that I wear and juggle every day:

  • mother, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, cousin, niece
  • friend
  • bushwalker
  • mountain biker, mountain bike instructor
  • innovator, creator, writer
  • business owner, entrepreneur
  • facilitator, counsellor, consultant
  • community member
  • club / association member
  • household manager, cleaner, cook, organiser, shopper, bill payer, transporter
  • supporter, mentor, mentee
  • consumer

The Struggle is Real

Now if life went smoothly all the time, I’m sure I’d have no issue with my hats. But life’s not like that. Life is messy, and chaotic and unpredictable. Routines and plans go out the window as I work my way through Plan A, then Plan B, and Plan C, and then I wonder “Will it ever stop?” I’m juggling a business, home, and a personal life, switching between hats constantly. Sometimes I don’t have a clue which hat to put at the top, and which hat to leave at the bottom of the pile. The struggle is real people! So this leads me again to my question ““How many hats do you wear?” And “How do you juggle the different hats you wear?”

My Crazy Hat Lady Examples

Let me explain my dilemma a bit more with some real life crazy hat lady examples:

  • I hastily throw my ‘entrepreneur hat’ off and grab my ‘mother hat’ as I rush to meet the ambulance that’s taking my son from school to hospital after a playground accident. In A&E I’m balancing my hats on top of each other as I flit between support person, consumer, organiser, business owner, wife and household manager.
  • In my home office I put my ‘writer hat’ on but I’m wearing the ‘organiser hat’ underneath and that’s the one that everyone recognises and gravitates towards. It’s like a beacon that attracts moths on a hot summer night.
  • Sometimes when I’m wearing my ‘mountain biker hat’ or my ‘bushwalker hat’, I unconsciously slip my ‘innovator hat’ on as well. Then off I go with the fairies, blissfully dreaming and creating as I wind my way mindlessly along the bush trails which I know and love.

From Struggle to Juggle

It’s true that I find myself struggling from time to time with the multiple roles and responsibilities I have. But one thing is certain – it definitely pays to check up on the hats you are wearing very regularly. Do they still fit? Are they comfortable? Do you still need all of them, or want all of them? Is there a hat you could happily pass onto someone else who could make better use of it? Is there a new hat you’d like to try on for size? Are you basically happy with the hats you’re wearing and content to keep juggling them as needed? Or would you like to change something? Perhaps improve your juggling skills, or drop a few hats and not bother picking them up, or maybe you’ve got your eye on a new hat you’d like to wear?

Going from ‘struggle’ to ‘juggle’ is a two-part process. Firstly, you need to review the logistical side of the hats you wear. This includes weighing up your priorities, assessing how valuable and feasible each hat is, doing a cost / benefit analysis of each hat, investigating clashes between the hats, and checking how much each hat weighs. Secondly, you need to create a mindset that best serves your health and wellbeing. Are you focusing solely on the heavy weight of one of your hats and neglecting the joy it brings to your life? Or conversely, have you been blinded to the problems your hat brings because you have an unhealthy attachment to it? Think about why you wear the hats you do. If it’s out of habit, unrealistic expectations or fear of letting it go, then it might be time to swap that hat out of your collection and try on something else for size. What other changes could you make to move from ‘struggle’ to ‘juggle’?

What Hats Do You Really Want to Wear?

Doing an audit of the hats you wear can be incredibly freeing and satisfying. You will feel less stressed, more resilient and happier in all areas of your life.

  • So, what hats do you really want to wear?
  • How can you prioritise them?
  • How can you improve your juggling skills and minimise the struggling?

I’d love to hear! SEND ME A MESSAGE

Are you ready to have inspiring conversations, discover the latest and greatest proven techniques to juggle your workload, improve your sleep and manage life’s stresses?

REGISTER FOR “The Wellbeing Project: Wellness in the Workplace”

Wednesday 13th March 2019
Warwick, Queensland, Australia

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.