8 Reasons to Get Back to Nature

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In a world that expects us to be efficient, effective and resourceful, we risk letting go of those things that sustain our energy, health and creativity. One of these things is time spent in nature. Here are 8 reasons why time spent in nature is never a waste of time.

1. Nature is a sanctuary from the pressures of modern life

We live in a world that expects us to deliver outcomes and meet deadlines. We have constant pressure to be productive and to not waste time, energy or resources. Many people feel increasingly stretched and strung out with our outcomes-based society. Nature provides a sanctuary from the pressures of modern life. When we step outdoors into the forests, mountains, deserts, beaches and waterways, we immerse ourselves in a bigger world. We are at play, not at work.

Nature setting - beach

2. Nature gives your brain a break

Brains are like busy factories mass producing thoughts, decisions, predictions, reflections, assessments, judgements, assumptions and beliefs all whilst keeping our hearts beating and our lungs breathing. There’s a lot going on inside our heads whether we realise it or not. Getting outside into some green space gives your brain a much needed break from the type of thinking it does all day. Nature is a trigger for your brain to switch modes and operate on a different level – a bit like a mini holiday!

3. Nature restores and re-energises

When we’re busy we tend to cut back on things that seem less important or urgent at the time. Usually this means we cut ourselves short on self-care. We run ourselves into the ground working harder and faster whilst putting less priority on how we are going to sustain the pace. Half an hour outdoors can be enough time for your mind to begin to reset and for your body to feel re-energised. It’s an investment you can’t afford to miss.

Nature - mountain view

4. Nature refocuses your attention

Modern life runs at a pace requiring us to be thinking and doing multiple things at once. Research shows this isn’t necessarily the most efficient (or joyful) way of living. When we focus on one thing at a time, we tend to operate more efficiently and effectively. Although it might feel slower because you’re used to being in the fast lane, it’s actually more productive in many situations! Regular time in nature can teach you to bring your attention to your immediate surroundings. This helps you to let go of your stresses, gently engage all your senses, and refocus your attention when you’re back in your everyday routine.

5. Nature shows you how to slow down

Do you find yourself reacting to a pressured lifestyle by working even harder, hoping that when you get to the bottom of your ‘to do’ list you’ll be able to relax? Sorry folks that isn’t a strategy that is sustainable over the long-term unless you give yourself regular breaks to slow down and switch off. Your ‘to-do’ list will never go away. There will always be something else that demands your attention. When you prioritise time in nature, you learn to slow down – in a good way. Your brain has a much needed rest and you come back to your ‘to-do’ list with a fresh perspective and new energy.

6. Nature stimulates creativity and innovation

You don’t have to be an artist to appreciate the special gifts that nature has on offer. Any one of us can savour the creativity and innovation that often comes with time spent in nature. Perhaps it’s associated with the opportunity to slow down and refocus, I don’t know for sure. But what I do know is that some of my best and most successful ideas have come to me when I’ve been out walking or riding.

7. Nature gets you active

A major contributing factor to chronic disease, including depression, is inactivity. Nature is the natural antidote to a sedentary lifestyle. With so much space to stretch out and explore, so many wonders to be discovered, so much fresh air to breathe and trees to hug (well, maybe that’s just me), what more incentive do you need to get out and get active.

Natur

8. Nature improves efficiency and effectiveness

Have you ever gone in search of the perfect time management technique, tool or app hoping to be rescued from the stress of managing multiple roles and responsibilities? Despite the numerous time management tools available to us, time management is actually all about managing YOURSELF, not time. If you really want to improve efficiency and effectiveness, invest part of your day, everyday, outside in nature. If you’ve read all the other reasons why time spent in nature is not a waste, then it will be obvious to you that it’s one of the best investments you can make to improve your effectiveness and efficiency at work, home and in your relationships with other people.

Let's sum up!

Time spent in nature is NEVER a waste! Oh let me count the ways ….. (well, at least 8 of them anyway!)

1. Nature is a sanctuary from the pressures of modern life

2. Nature gives your brain a break

3. Nature restores and re-energises

4. Nature refocuses your attention

5. Nature shows you how to slow down

6. Nature stimulates creativity and innovation

7. Nature gets you active

8. Nature improves efficiency and effectiveness

You can listen to this article on the Outdoors is my Therapy podcast!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

My First Overnight Hiking Adventure!

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Daisy Spoke has started some new adventures! 

Here is Episode 2 of The Great Backpacking Adventure in which I turn to overnight hiking to learn more life lessons through an outdoor adventure lifestyle – GIRRAWEEN HERE WE COME!

My year of adventure

Being a year that I’ve devoted to adventure, I’ve been consciously seeking opportunities to push myself out of my comfort zone and expand my inner world. A life of adventure is so much more inviting than a life of being limited by fears and self-imposed routines. So I found myself, rather surprisingly, publicly announcing my intention to have a go at overnight hiking, an activity that in the past has always brought the question to my mind “Why?” I mean, backpacking never really made much sense to me – deliberately burdening yourself with a heavy weight on your back, being completely self-reliant in every aspect, and ….. (and this is a big issue …..) not having access to showers and toilets! Honestly, why would you do this? Where is the fun factor in that?

Backpacking equipment

Looking for my next big challenge

Well, funnily enough, on my life-long journey of self-discovery I’ve come to see that it’s very often the really tough stuff that gives me that sense of being fully alive, an elated feeling that comes with achievement and pushing my limits, rising to a challenge and then reflecting on how I’ve grown because of it, and bringing about a sense of fun. Was backpacking the next big challenge I needed in life to learn to let go of the excess physical and mental stuff that I’ve become attached to, and develop independence and self-confidence in who I am? I started to realise that the stories I’d been telling myself about backpacking, were simply stories; not factual stories at all – simply fiction, made up in my mind keeping me small and stopping me from having a go at something that might turn out to be fun after all.

Don't believe everything you think

 

The value of goal-setting

And so with my public announcement of my overnight hiking goal, I began to get myself organised. I decided to share my experience here because I want people to know how valuable goal-setting can be; that we can learn so much more beyond what we expect; and that sometimes goals are uncomfortable, sometimes we lose our way, sometimes we change direction or even miss our target altogether. With goal-setting comes a fear of failure, of not being good enough, a fear of giving up – issues I’ve been working on for myself over the past few years, and now here is my perfect chance to put it all together and see what I can do!

best things in life start with a dream

1st Step – Research!

First started the research – reading and watching books, blogs, vlogs and videos. I began asking questions of others, looking in hiking stores, talking with family and friends about the idea. And pretty soon my goal began to take root and blossom. Yes there have been many doubts and worries along the way, but I knew I was doing this for me. To be the best me I can be, to learn from going through the process even if I didn’t like it and even if I decided not to go through it again. I never said I had to like overnight hiking or keep doing it. I simply said I wanted to try it on for size and see how it fitted for me.

Well actually, yes I can!

2nd Step – Skills Development!

Secondly I embarked on a project to prepare myself with skills to become more bush-savvy. I participated in an introductory and then an intermediate level navigation and trekking workshop for women. Wow, this was amazing! So many other women of all ages, immersing themselves in a lifestyle of outdoor adventure, choosing to skill themselves up and push their limits! Knowing I was not alone was as important as the actual navigation skills I gained from the workshops.

Compass, maps and navigation equipment

Girraween, here we come!

Finally, with all the right conditions in place – fine mid-season weather, a committed crew of family, a convenient vacancy at the dog boarding kennels for little Tommy, no bushfires, no sickness or injury that would prevent us from going (although it was definitely touch and go for a while!), school assignments done and dusted for the term – we set off for Girraween National Park. This is one of my favourite places to retreat to. Being not far from home it’s kind of like my other backyard.

granite formations

Planning for minimal risk

We had planned our adventure to be a gentle introduction to overnight hiking. We chose marked trails in a National Park we were familiar with so we knew we wouldn’t get lost and would have easy access to help if we needed it. With minimal travel time, low chance of rain and a fairly short distance to walk, we were pretty sure we’d survive the weekend and be home in time for dinner on the Sunday!

Backpacking in national park

What have I got myself into?

Hauling our packs onto our backs at our starting point on Saturday was pretty daunting. I was having serious doubts about my very sore foot that had been under treatment but it had flared up again. I groaned under the weight of my pack and secretly feeling nauseous at the idea of what I’d gotten myself into. But we set off, slowly plodding along the established trails stopping regularly to soak in the beauty all round us. Only a few minutes into our adventure we saw a big shiny red-bellied black snake slithering gracefully through the undergrowth – a reminder to stay alert at all times.

Stone Cottage, Girraween

The first day

We walked 14 kilometres on Saturday at a leisurely pace, munching on homemade protein balls, trail mix and wraps whenever we were hungry. From Underground Creek past West Bald Rock and onto the Stone Cottage, we felt like we were in our own little world. We set up camp in the late afternoon feeling somewhat weary but cheerful. I had pre-cooked our dinner, a result of choosing not to invest just yet in a lightweight stove. It always amazes me how good the most basic food can taste when you’ve been physically active all day.

tents set up in the remote bush camp

Watching the sun set and the moon rise was a perfect end to our day as we crawled into our tents to sleep. But oh! the fun and games of getting those inflatable pillows ‘just right’!

The second day

Morning brought us slowly to our feet, still aching from the day before. With time to potter around the campsite exploring our surroundings we gradually wound ourselves up for more walking. Having consumed most of our food and much of our water, we were relieved to haul our packs on our backs again and find the weight much more agreeable. As we walked along the Peak and Creek Trails we were fascinated to see how different everything appeared compared to when we’d ridden our mountain bikes through here. We chatted with some other walkers along the way and arrived back at Underground Creek for lunch, a pretty easy 10 kilometre stroll along gently undulating terrain with spectacular views of Mt Norman, other granite structures and an array of spring wildflowers.

Mt Norman

I’d read stories about crows and currawongs pilfering bushwalkers’ backpacks, and was astonished to be caught out myself when I put my pack down to explore the marvellous formations of a granite outcrop. My trail mix was the object of its fascination, tearing into the ziplock bag through the side mesh pocket on my pack. A pretty obvious lesson learned!

The crow got my trail mix!

What! Is it already time to go home?

Our weekend adventure seemed to be over all too soon. We couldn’t bear to think we’d have to get back into the car and drive off when it felt like we had only just begun! So we sauntered down to Dr Robert’s Waterhole and gazed at the reflections in the water for some time, extending our time as long as possible. I wonder what adventures the First Nations People have had in this stunning landscape, and what adventures other hikers, landowners and picnickers have had here throughout time as well.

Dr Robert's Waterhole

A new series of adventures begins

We knew right then that our overnight hiking adventure was just the first episode in a whole new series of adventures for us. The doubts, the lack of toilets and showers, the physical and emotional challenges were not going to keep us living a small life. Bring on the next adventure I say!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

Adventures In the Great Outdoors

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Daisy Spoke has started some new adventures! 

Welcome to Episode 1 of The Great Backpacking Adventure in which I turn to overnight hiking to learn more life lessons through an outdoor adventure lifestyle.

My best memories and my best learning about life have come from spending weekends and holidays in the great outdoors. As a child my parents whisked us away for family holidays in our caravan or tent, taking in wonderful adventures as we immersed ourselves in some of Australia’s most iconic landscapes. We took walks in the grandeur of rainforested mountains enthralled by stories of our ancestors’ pioneering days. On secret secluded beaches we discovered ocean life washed upon the shore – evidence of another world we could barely begin to imagine. Across the deserts we drove, soaking in the wonder of the sunrises and sunsets, a land of extremes in myriad ways.

Family Beach Camping

My teenage years brought the opportunity to go camping with my Girl Guide and Ranger crews. As a restless sleeper, I knew then that my best sleeps came after a day in the outdoors, hiking, learning woodcraft skills, cooking over a campfire, canoeing, kayaking, abseiling, riding bikes and simply being with others who loved the adventure as much as I did.

Beach Adventures

It was no surprise then that at uni I met and married a kindred spirit of the outdoors. We spent our leisure time exploring all the usual National Parks trails within a few hours drive of the city, playing frisbee in the park, cycling the local roads and pathways, paddling on the bay and local creeks, and filling our lives with regular camping trips near and far.

Rainforest Adventures

As our children arrived on the scene, they too were included in our adventures which were modified to accommodate their growing needs. Nurturing their love of the outdoors has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far. To see their little faces eagerly joining in on walks, creek paddling and bike rides has been completely heartwarming. And to hear their excited voices asking questions, always asking questions, soaking it all in, enthusiastic about nature and adventure, curious about their world and seeing themselves as a valuable and integral part of it has been a spirited journey.

Trop[ical Rainforest Adventures with Children

Through family illness and injury, study stresses and sporting commitments, work pressures and ties to family, friends and farm animals, we’ve kept up our habit of spending much of our leisure time in the great outdoors. Sometimes our adventures have been confined to the backyard (albeit a sizeable acreage of dry bushland) because that’s all we could do at the time. However sometimes our adventures have taken us to amazing far off places – interstate road trips with the trailer packed to the brim with camping gear. We’ve camped and hiked in awe-inspiring places like the The Warrumbungles, Mt Kaputar, the Blue Mountains, Carnarvon Gorge, Atherton Tableland, Central Australia, Birdsville, Innamincka, Gibraltar Range and Sturt National Park. By the time Miss E reached high school, she’d spent more birthdays in our tent than she had at home.

Family looking over FNQ viewpoint

And now this year I sensed I was ready to take on a new challenge. A challenge that would combine my much-loved experiences of camping with the physical challenge of bushwalking – I decided that this year I was going to have a go at backpacking! Something I was never interested in at all until now. I mean, why would you want to carry a heavy weight on your back for hours to a campsite when you can so easily tow a trailer with everything you could possibly need (and more), and pull up right beside a campsite to unpack, in easy walking distance of the bathrooms, and with plenty of walking trails to choose from right where you are! But the inner self doesn’t always operate on logic, and I’ve learned to trust myself when I sense that I’m ready for something new. Back-flipping my thinking didn’t come easily though. I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and asking myself “why?” and I don’t really have that answer yet. But what I do have is a strong pull towards challenging myself, stretching my abilities and coping skills, and discovering new possibilities for myself, not limiting myself. Surprising as it may seem, even to me, the life learning in this backpacking adventure has only just begun!

The beginning of navigation and trekking adventures

Stay tuned for my next episode of My Great Backpacking Adventure as I take off on my first overnight hiking expedition!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

What does self-care mean for women?

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Do you feel pressure from the fast-paced world, juggling your responsibilities and striving to fit self-care into your already busy life? If so, you’re not alone! Women often report that the biggest obstacles to self-care are lack of time and competing priorities. The consequences are far-reaching. This article brings new light to these obstacles, offers you some practical self-care ideas to incorporate into your day without adding any more pressure, and invites you to a delightful morning of retreat!

What is self-care?

“Self-care” has become a trendy cliché in recent years, but it’s so much more than simply another activity to fit in your day, or a luxurious treat you might have occasionally. We’re bombarded with images and advertisements that suggest self-care is all about pampering, looking good, and spending money on yourself. These experiences and products may be an important part of your personal routine, but genuine self-care runs much deeper.

Love is CaringSelf-care is literally all about caring for yourself, possibly in similar ways that you care for other people in your life. This includes caring for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Sometimes this includes doing things that feel good such as a relaxing bath or an outing with friends. It also means making choices for ourselves that might feel uncomfortable in the short-term, because we know this is what’s best for our longer-term wellbeing.

Sometimes self-care is uncomfortable

We barely think twice when we take firm action with others we care about. For example, as parents we know it’s in the best interests of our children to place limits on the TV they watch. Our children might not like it but we know how important it is for their overall wellbeing, and so we stand firm. When it comes to standing firm on our own self-care, it can be easy to give in to our feelings in that moment. It’s easy to ignore the long-term health benefits of daily exercise when it’s so much cosier sleeping-in instead. Where is our internal parent when we need them?!

What’s getting in the way of self-care?

There are infinite obstacles to self-care but most of them fall under one of these headings:

External Pressures

Women in our society have unconsciously been conditioned to take on multiple Wise words from my future selfroles, and to perform them with excellence, and with a smile on their face. More often than not women carry the bulk of the emotional load in both family and work life – organising, planning, predicting, comforting, parenting, caring, pleasing, time-managing, problem-solving, rescuing and so on. The many competing priorities present dilemmas on a daily basis. Who’s got time or energy to stack self-care into a life that’s built around serving other people’s needs?

Internally Generated Excuses

These issues focus on the way women think about themselves and their roles.  I am a friend to myselfThe way we think is closely related to the way we have been socialised when were younger, with the added layer of personality thrown in. So it’s no surprise that women often share certain beliefs, assumptions and thinking patterns related to self-care – it’s selfish to do something for myself; people will think I’m selfish / not coping; time and money should be spent on something or someone else who needs it more than me; I don’t have enough time or energy; I should just soldier on like everyone else does …..

What’s the big deal with self-care anyway?

Self-care is not selfish. Think about what values are most important to you – perhaps compassion, kindness, generosity? Many of us readily live out these values towards other people yet struggle when it comes to ourselves. How can we truly be compassionate, kind and generous beings when we select who we are compassionate, kind and generous towards? Are you being consistent with your values? How does this affect your self-care?

Consequences of poor self-care

The consequences of poor self-care include reduced physical and mental health, strained relationships, under-performance and increased of risk of compassion fatigue and burnout. Consider also how you are modelling self-care practices (or lack of them) for the next generation. Unwittingly we often enable unhealthy and unsustainable practices to continue to the next generation, reinforcing gender inequity along the way.

Self-care without the pressure

Here are some self-care actions that don’t add extra pressure into your day:

  • say ‘no’ to something so you can say ‘yes’ to something more important

  • set boundaries in your relationships

  • mute your phone at meal times

  • take time to enjoy preparing a nutritious meal

  • delegate some responsibilities

  • have some ‘go-slow’ time each day

  • change your morning routine so you feel less rushed

Saying no

What does self-care look like for you?
What are some actions you could take every day that show compassion, kindness and caring towards yourself?

Women Empowered Morning of Retreat

Discover the possibilities that arise when you prioritise your own health and self-care!

Women Empowered Morning of Retreat

Come along to my next Women Empowered Morning of Retreat in Warwick on Tuesday 4th September 2018. This will be a gentle-paced morning of reflection, discussion and creative activities.

MORE INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION

Read about my last retreat “Women Empowered: Framing My Future with Financial Confidence”

….. and some of the insights gained by the women who participated.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

 

Stress Management: The Bucket of Life

Managing stress is something we all need to give attention to. In this article I’ll share with you one of the techniques which many people find useful for managing stress. It’s a technique that I often demonstrate at workshops, seminars and with my individual clients. It can be used by anyone at any time, and in fact I often use it myself to review my priorities when I’m feeling stressed. It helps me to adjust my thinking and change my actions so that I focus on the most important things in my life. I hope you find it useful too!

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Life is a Bucket of Rocks

Life is like a bucket filled with rocks of all shapes, sizes, colours and weights. And just like that bucket, life can sometimes feel overloaded, lop-sided or empty. We notice our stress levels rising. When this happens, it can be helpful to have a look at what rocks you are carrying around in your bucket of life.

The Big Rocks

Think of the MOST IMPORTANT things in your life. Write them down in a list. It’s a very personal thing, so be sure to list whatever is most important to YOU. These things are the BIG ROCKS in your life. They are your priority. You need to make sure you have time, space and energy for them. For example, some of my big rocks are daily exercise and meditation, being home after school hours, home cooked food, mountain bike riding on weekends, getting to medical appointments, spending time connecting with family, spending time alone, and developing new and exciting work projects.

The Medium-Sized Rocks

Now it’s time to think of the other things in your life that are FAIRLY IMPORTANT to you, but not quite as important as the big rocks. They are special, but not as critical to your happiness and satisfaction in life as the big rocks. These are your MEDIUM-SIZED ROCKS. Write them down in a separate list. Some examples of my medium-sized rocks (at this point in time) are socialising with friends, housework, sewing, weekends away camping, completing training courses, and replacing the curtains in my office.

The Little Rocks

The LITTLE ROCKS, or pebbles, in your life are those things that have some significance, but they are NOT AS HIGH PRIORITY as the medium-sized or big rocks. They are the things that you can ‘give or take’ somewhat. It wouldn’t overly worry you if you put these things off to deal with another day. You like having them in your life, but when it comes to the crunch, they simply don’t rate as high in importance. Write your little rocks in a separate list. Some of my little rocks include going to evening meetings, going to concerts, and washing the car.

The Grains of Sand

The next list you create is of all the things that have LESS IMPORTANCE AND MEANING in your life, but they need some attention and time. There are usually lots and lots of these, and sometimes we get them mixed up with the bigger rocks without even realising! These are your GRAINS OF SAND. Some of my grains of sand include tidying the coffee table, doing the ironing, going to the post office, and selling my old tent.

Place Your Rocks in Your Bucket

Now it’s time to put your rocks into your bucket of life. It’s really important you do it in the right order because if you get it back-to-front you’ll end up with a lop-sided, top-heavy, or overflowing bucket. You’ll feel overwhelmed, stressed and pressured. You won’t have enough time and energy for the important things in your life, and you’ll find yourself racing around or stressing over the things that really don’t matter so much.

PebblesSo first of all, make sure you GET THE BIG ROCKS IN YOUR LIFE FIRST. They are your priorities so take steps to make sure you allow plenty of time and energy for them. Next put in your medium-sized rocks. Your small rocks go in after that and will be able to settle into the spaces between the bigger rocks. You can be more flexible with how they fit into your life. Next comes the sand. These things will be able to flow into the spaces that you have left. If there isn’t time and energy for them right now, that doesn’t matter. When things settle, they’ll have a place in your bucket once again.

Check Your Bucket Now and Again

You might even find that by doing this exercise there are things consuming your time and energy that you can let go of completely – some rocks that you choose not to put back into your bucket. Perhaps you found big rocks that are actually small rocks, or maybe you’ve discovered some small rocks that you’d like to become bigger rocks in your life. Have fun experimenting to see what works for you. And don’t forget that at any time you can dig down to see what you’re carrying around, and rearrange it so that the big rocks always go into your bucket of life first!  It’s one of the most important actions you can take to manage your stresses effectively. 

Take a Minute for Your Mind

Take a Minute for Your Mind LogoHAVE YOU SIGNED UP FOR MY FREE 7 DAY CHALLENGE “TAKE A MINUTE FOR YOUR MIND”? For more information and to register, go to the OFFERS tab on my website!

 

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full. 

 

Make it Happen! Actions to take you from surviving to thriving

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From thriving to surviving and back again

For most of my life I’ve enjoyed the challenge of setting goals and making them happen. I’ve learned that the actions I choose can take me from surviving to thriving. I love to have a go at something new, especially adventurous activities. For a few years this seemed to slow down a bit. Perhaps it was my added commitment to my young family, our relocation to a rural area, or maybe even a simple ‘rut’ I got myself into. When life was more about surviving the usual (and not so usual) childhood illnesses, school assignments, getting the bills paid, and retrenchments, I often felt a long way from thriving.

Maybe it was my approaching middle age that brought along a renewed urge to live life as fully as possible. I know that I function at my best when I have a goal to aim for, and so when I began to focus on this aspect of myself again, I rediscovered my passion for adventure. Here I will share with you the actions that took me from surviving to thriving – you can do it too!

Goal-setting and problem-solving are key skills to success

The skills of setting goals and creatively problem-solving are key factors to success. Success doesn’t just happen. You have to create it, to action it, and to problem-solve it. It doesn’t always come easily, and we often shy away from the actions we need to take. We secretly keep our inner dreams to ourselves out of fear of failure.

Get your goal out there!

best things in life start with a dreamI’m sharing with you one of my goals that I’ve had floating about in my head for a long time. Putting it out there in the public arena is definitely not easy. I have a lot of doubts about whether I’ll succeed, but if I keep suppressing my dream, there won’t be any chance of success.  

Getting clear on my goal

I’m using the post 9 Steps to Achieving Your Dreams and Goals to help me get clear on just what it is I want to achieve, and why. This clarity will give me direction and motivation.

STEP 1 – IDENTIFY AN AREA FOR CHANGE

I want my life to be filled with adventurous activities instead of ho-hum routine.

STEP 2 – STAY FOCUSED ON THE CHANGE, DON’T BE DISTRACTED BY PROBLEMATIC THOUGHTS

There are plenty of problems associated with spending more time in adventurous activities. But when I’ve overcome them I’ll be living the life I want – full of activity, travel, inspiration, energy, feeling great! I’ll focus my attention on how I want it to be instead of what the problems are.

STEP 3 – SELECT YOUR SMART GOAL

I WILL GO ON AN OVERNIGHT HIKE  – something I haven’t done before!

Is it specific? YesAre my expectations realistic?

Is it measurable? Yes

Is it achievable? Yes, I’m comfortable and competent with bushwalking and camping, so the new challenge combines this with carrying my supplies.

Is it realistic? Yes, I’m reasonably fit, healthy, strong, sensible and organised. I’ll research and access resources and networks, borrow or buy equipment that I need.

Does it have a timeframe? I’ll avoid extreme weather conditions and give myself enough lead-in time to gather and test out equipment, do my research, and train to carry the weight of my pack. Spring will be an ideal season and I can select a date closer to the time based on weather and what suits my fellow hiker/s.

STEP 4 – WRITE IT DOWN!

Yep – here it is! In the public arena too! (Talk about pressure now!) But you don’t have to go public with your goal. There’s power in simply writing it down for your own reference.

STEP 5 – KNOW YOUR WHY! COMMITMENT NOT MOTIVATION!

I want to challenge the fears that limit me. I want to connect more closely with nature and discover my part in the world, learn to trust myself and stretch my limits, tap into my inner strength, develop self-reliance, and I want to finally use the backpack I bought years ago! When I feel unmotivated, I can look back at my “why” and stay committed to my goal.

STEP 6 – BREAK IT DOWN into steps
  • Research places, people, information, equipment
  • Talk to others who might like to share the adventure with me
  • Identify and collect equipment 
  • Trial various hiking foods and equipment
  • Go on training hikes with increasing distance and weight in back pack
  • Select a date (and a couple of back-up dates in case of adverse weather, sickness etc) and book campsites if necessary
STEP 7 – STEP INTO YOUR GOAL

I’ll take each step one at a time and gradually work my way towards an overnight hike.

STEP 8 – CREATIVELY PROBLEM-SOLVE ISSUES THAT ARISE

There are some predictable problems, and other new ones might arise. But I won’t give up – I’ll use the Creative Problem-solving Train (keep reading).

With any obstacle quote

STEP 9 – REWARD YOURSELF!

External rewards can be a blast, but that feeling of success I’ll have when I’ve achieved this goal – yeah, that – that’ll be my reward 🙂

6 steps to smash my goal usingThe Problem-solving Train’

Before I even get started, I’m thinking of all the ways that I could fail! So here I’m using the Problem-solving Train to anticipate and manage the obstacles.

STEP 1 – Probable, possible and unlikely problems

Is it probable? Is it possible" Is it unlikely?Probable problems: no toilets or showers, snakes, sore back and shoulders

Possible problems: hot weather, cold weather, rain, leeches, bush ticks, insufficient drinking water, equipment too heavy or too expensive, no child care, fire danger

Unlikely problems: I might be miserable, difficulty finding a suitable hiking buddy, sickness

STEP 2- choose one probable problem and brainstorm solutions

Probable problem #1: No toilets or showers

Brainstormed solutions: Hike near, and camp overnight at a site with facilities, read about and listen to podcasts about bush toilet hygiene, read stories of overnight hikers, hold on and avoid toileting as much as possible,  take a porta-loo, find out about toileting aids for bushwalkers, have a wash down or swim instead of a shower, avoid extremely hot weather, talk to experienced hikers about bush hygiene, remind myself that if others can do it so can I, think about how clean I’ll feel when I get to shower afterwards – WOW! There sure is a lot of possibilities here!

STEP 3 – pros and cons

Most of my brainstormed solutions are quite useful and viable, although I don’t think I’ll take a porta-loo (too heavy, smelly, awkward, embarrassing) and I don’t think it’s a good idea to avoid toileting (hmmm, that could be uncomfortable and bring on health problems).

STEP 4THE BEST OPTION/S

I think it’s best to deal with this problem from multiple angles so I’m going to include several action-based and mind-based strategies in my Plan of Action to deal with this problem.

STEP 5 – PLAN OF ACTION

What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?Choose a route and campsite for my first overnight hike that has facilities

Read about and listen to podcasts about bush toilet hygiene – this could come in handy someday even if I don’t need it this time!

Talk to experienced hikers about my plans including managing bush hygiene

Read stories written by overnight hikers

Find out about lightweight toileting aids for bushwalkers

Remind myself that if others can do it, so can I!

STEP 6 – REVIEW

Once I’ve actioned my plan I can review it, even before I go on my first overnight hike. Am IWell actually, yes I can! feeling more comfortable about the issue of toileting and showering on my overnight hike? Are there any new problems I need to address? I can go back to my other brainstormed solutions, or come up with new ones. I can flex my plans to help me achieve my goal instead of simply giving up. I can push through the discomfort of the plan not working out perfectly, and tap into my determined attitude to succeed.

Keep on solving!

Once I’ve got my plans in place for all the probable and possible problems I’ve identified, it’s full steam ahead. I’m already most of the way there! It’s in this phase of identifying and then creatively solving the problems that most people get stuck. It’s this process that makes the difference on the road to success. And for me personally, it’s an exciting ride moving from surviving to thriving, making my goal of living an adventurous life a reality instead of leaving it as a whimsical dream. Stay tuned for future updates as I smash this goal!

SMART Goals WorksheetFREE GIFT! To help you clarify and action YOUR goal (whether it’s big or small or anywhere in between), download your FREE printable Create Success With SMART Goals. This handy worksheet will step you through a simplified process to identify your S.M.A.R.T. goal, your “why”, the steps you need to take to achieve your goal, any problems that might get in the way of success, and creative solutions that will propel you towards success.

Click here to download your FREE printable “Create Success With SMART Goals” from the RESOURCES tab on my website, and check out the other printables and resources while you’re there!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

My MTB Experiment: on a mission to rediscover the joys of XC riding

My MTB journey has seen me learning to ride a bike as a child with next to no assistance or practice. I created stolen opportunities in my childhood to ride my older sister’s Malvern Star in the 1970’s, or my friend’s brother’s bike on the cul-de-sac where she lived. As a young teenager I got my hands on a second hand road bike which I took on a youth bike camp across the Lockyer Valley; I rode it on Guide ‘bike hikes’; and I laboured to ride it occasionally round the paddock where I lived in a fringe urban area that was once thriving farm land.

As a young adult I enjoyed riding my bike on the road and bike paths with my husband who was an experienced road and track cyclist. But the back and neck aches that followed made it difficult to stay motivated. Longingly I eyed off these new-fangled bikes with flat bars so you could ride in a more upright position. I was truly grateful for the new position and comfort that my new bike provided, and continued to ride on bike paths and quiet roads in my neighbourhood.

A few years gap between rides took place when I was a young mother. I didn’t feel comfortable having a baby strapped to the back of my bike, and I definitely felt far from stable or safe!

When I did finally get my bike out again, I was living in a rural area, and with no paved roads or bike paths in coo-ee, I found, quite shockingly, that it was really easy to fall off on bumpy ground, and to be covered in bruises all over. Jeepers! That put me off riding for a bit too!

Fast forward to middle age and the dilemma of continuing to be a ‘MTB widow’ vs suck up the courage and give it another go myself. Hmmmm, well it wasn’t easy and it still isn’t. But over time with support from my trusty team at home, I’ve stuck it out and have progressed my skills, confidence and enjoyment of cross country riding. I’ve discovered that having front suspension, a lighter frame, chunky tyre tread, a well-chosen saddle and good quality kit all contribute to the overall enjoyment of riding MTB.

This summer I’ve struggled to keep that spark burning. The past 12 months have seen me undertake some coaching sessions, overcome some of my fears about specific trail features, and I even entered in a couple of newbie races and went in a couple of group rides. I practised a lot and improved my fitness as well.

Then it got hot. Really hot. The flies and snakes came. I fell off a couple of times and lost a lot of skin, some blood, and most of my confidence. My son injured himself (not on a bike) and had to take a couple of months off riding, and my plans to get to the nearby trails a few times a week over the Christmas school holidays went AWOL.

Last weekend’s family ride was a good time to reflect on where I am on my MTB journey. Those voices in my head were telling me once again I’m always the slowest, least capable, most scared rider of the lot; that no matter how much I’ve ridden or how much I’ve practised over the last year, I’m still no better; and that I’m a burden on everyone who rides with me. Where’s the joy in that?! So you can see that the inevitable choice was made to give it up. What’s the point in continuing if you’re not enjoying yourself AND you spoil it for everyone else?

With misery came an empty feeling of letting myself down as well as my family who’ve encouraged and supported me in so many ways. Being with misery gave me space to reflect and hear and see things differently. There is so much I love about MTB but it seemed so far away.

As I went through the motions of watching a MTB video last night (I wasn’t really paying that much attention!) I heard a voice say that if you only get out on the trails a couple of times each week, then you’re not going to get better at riding.

LIGHTBULB MOMENT!

Of course, it’s pretty darn obvious isn’t it? Here I am giving myself such a hard time but really I’d only been riding a maximum of once a week for the past few months. I didn’t feel like I was enjoying it as much because my skills weren’t improving in addition to the other obstacles I’d faced – in fact it felt like I’d gone backwards. I felt like I wasn’t progressing because I wasn’t progressing, every ride felt difficult and I lost a big chunk of my inner fun each time.

So today I began the Great Experiment to test my hypothesis that by riding a few times a week, I’ll progress my skills and confidence, and I’ll rediscover the joys of MTB.

Our local trails are a long drive away, so I’m fortunate that my family has gradually been building our own mini-trail on our small rural property. I figure I can commit to a couple of practices around home each week as well as the longer family trail rides further afield on the weekends. I’ll document my experiences over the next few weeks on this blog and also by video. Stay tuned as a I embark on this new part of my MTB journey!

Women Empowered: Living a Life With Meaning

Join me for an INSPIRING and INFORMATIVE day of retreat that will guide you through the maze of opportunities, choices and dilemmas that face women in our society.

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Women Empowered: Living a Life With Meaning” is suitable for women of any age and walk of life. We’ll be tapping into our inner strengths, values and what creates meaning in our lives to identify the ways each of us can bring unique leadership to our families, work places and the wider community. You will develop a deeper sense of your own value and identify purpose-driven pathways into your future as you live a life with meaning.

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The day is suitable for PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT as well as PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT. Come along knowing that your workplace, friends, family and the wider community will all share the benefits of your participation.

The JOHN WALLIS FOUNDATION has generously supported this event through the provision of a grant so your financial outlay is only $20! Where else do you get such great value for so little expense!

Here are all the details:

Who: All women with an interest in developing their personal or professional leadership qualities in formal and informal roles in their families, workplaces or the wider community.

When: Thursday 15th September 2016 9am – 4:30pm

Where: St Mary’s Parish Centre Palmerin Street Warwick (between Wood St and Pratten St next to St Mary’s Upper Campus)

Fees: $20

Registration Fee includes m/tea, lunch, a/tea and handouts.

To Register: https://www.trybooking.com/LVQX

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This project is supported by donations to the John Wallis Foundation Small Grants Program, an approved project of the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR). FRRR is a government philanthropy partnership, supporting projects that benefit rural, regional and remote communities.