How do you spring clean your mind?

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Spring cleaning can happen at any time of the year

It’s spring at the moment in Australia where I’m sitting at my computer writing this blog post. As I reflect on the very warm day we’ve had, and the cool breeze wafting in through the window, thoughts of spring cleaning come to mind. But, why wait for spring??? Spring cleaning can happen at any time of the year!

Let go of what is no longer needed

Let go, spring cleaningWhat a great feeling it is to clean out the house, office or car; throw away, recycle or give away the excess that has accumulated over the past months, year, or more. Spring cleaning offers us a sense of lightness, organisation and order. It gives us renewed energy, like a gentle breeze after a hot day. We’ve swept out the cobwebs and feel fresh and clean again.

Our minds can do with a spring clean too

It’s not just our houses, offices and cars that need regular spring cleaning. Our minds need de-cluttering too, and in my opinion we can all benefit from a little de-cluttering every day. When we organise our thoughts and simplify our lives, our lives run smoother.

You can choose how to de-clutter your mind

Spring clean your mind on MTBSpring cleaning our houses is one thing, but how on earth do we go about de-cluttering our minds? One of the best ways to do this is by going for a walk, especially in a green zone. But you might prefer to spend some quiet time in the garden, listen to music, or do some painting. Perhaps you prefer more energetic methods of de-cluttering your mind like running, boxing, swimming or mountain bike riding (a personal favourite!).

Consistency and regularity are key!

Whatever your choice, remember to be consistent and regular with your actions so that things don’t get on top of you. Caring for your mind is just like housework and yard work. When you take regular small steps to clean up and clear out, life seems a whole lot less messy and there is space and energy for the things you value most.

Remember …. no matter the season, no matter the weather, you don’t need to wait till spring. Jump into spring cleaning today!

What works for you?

How do you de-clutter your mind and organise your thoughts?

 

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.

Another 5 Things I’ve Learned About Life Through Mountain Biking

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When you open your mind to learning and growing, you discover opportunities everywhere around you. Over the past ten years, mountain biking has become a parallel universe for me to learn about myself and the world around me. As my enthusiasm for this style of learning has developed, so too has my love of mountain biking. I wanted to share my excitement with everyone around me and so I began my blog, Daisy Spoke. And my very first post in Daisy Spoke was “5 Things I’ve Learned About Life Through Mountain Biking”.

So ….. now here at last are another five ways that mountain biking has helped me to keep learning and growing as an individual!

1. Look up

Look upI instinctively look straight down in front of me when I ride my bike. This means I wobble a lot and react to every little lump and bump in the terrain. Having a one way staring competition with the trail right in front of me does me no favours. My imagination fixates on small details that don’t really matter. I didn’t even realise this was happening until I learnt at a coaching session the importance of looking up, to keep my eyes focused further along the track. This gets me into flow and enjoying a smoother, more connected ride. I’m still learning to trust myself, to have confidence that my brain has registered the terrain directly in front of me and that my body will know how to handle it. Every ride is a reminder to keep my sights focused ahead in all areas of my life – my work, my personal life, and my riding!

2. Absorb the bumps

Absorbing the bumps while mountain biking
Photo from Chicks in the Sticks 2017

The bumps and jumps are all part of the fun of mountain biking – in fact a very large part of it! But it’s taken me a long time to see it that way. Fear of falling and lack of confidence creates tension which in turn leads to a rigid framework, sore muscles and stiff joints at the end of a ride. Learning to relax my stance and go with the bumps instead of resisting them is an ongoing process. Mountain biking gives me the opportunity to experience a sense of lightness instead of a sense of lack of control. I can visualise my legs as natural built-in shock absorbers. With improved inner resilience, or bounce-ability, I’m also able to relax a bit more in life in general, to see past the hiccups, and rise above the challenges.

3. Move around

Move moreHaving ridden mostly on smooth paved surfaces like roads and bicycle paths for most of my life, it’s been a huge learning curve getting onto mountain bike trails. You need to move your weight around constantly adjusting for the ever-changing terrain. Forward and back, side to side, up and down, as well as every possible combination of these movements. The hard lesson is that if you don’t shift your weight around you can’t get up that hill, or down that steep slope, or round that tight corner. Riding can quickly turn into hike-a-bike (which isn’t much fun) or hitting the ground (which also isn’t much fun). So when I ride I try to be conscious of how I move my body – above and around my bike frame. As in life, the more you move around, the more fun you’ll have and the healthier you’ll be.

4. Be present in the moment

Mindful concentration while mountain biking
Photo from Chicks in the Sticks 2016

A distracted mind is on a road to mishap. At least, that’s my experience on my mountain bike and life in general. On my bike, the terrain is constantly changing and I need to keep my wits about me at all times. When I tune my sensory antennae into the environment around me, I’m fully present in the here and now. At least that’s the theory! The reality is that sometimes when I’m riding my mind wanders off and suddenly, oops, there it is, a rut the size of the Grand Canyon about to swallow me and my bike. It’s an ongoing learning process of training my brain to come back to the present, Not only does this make me safer on my bike, the ride is heaps more fun too. The same technique applied to other areas of life can lead to more satisfying relationships, more efficient and effective business decisions, and reduced anxiety.

5. Keep trying!

Patiently persist!Throughout life I’ve tended to focus my energy and attention on things that come most easily to me. If I couldn’t do something perfectly the first time, I’d usually move on to the next thing fairly quickly. As far as mountain biking goes, I’d had a few short rides on unpaved paths and paddocks over the years but didn’t develop much interest in “that kind of riding”. I’d fallen off a few times so there wasn’t a lot of incentive to keep going, so my bike tended to stay in the garage most of the time. A few years ago I decided to give it another go. Maybe there was an inner knowing that it would open up a whole new world to me, that there was much more to be gained from riding than simply mountain biking skills. With the support of my Courage Coach, I learned to develop persistence and this has had a profound impact on me. I’ve discovered how valuable persistence can be when life gets tough and I feel like giving up. Persistence speaks to that fiercely determined part of my soul and keeps me trying, practising, modifying, trying again, and finding ways to bring my hopes and dreams into reality. I’ve learned that I can work really hard at things that don’t come naturally to me and to experience immense satisfaction from that!

Read PART 1 of this article (my very first ever blog post!) “5 Things I’ve Learned About Life Through Mountain Biking” including:

  • Look where you want to go
  • Lean into what you most fear
  • Going slow is ok
  • Take a break when you need it
  • Practice, practice, practice

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.

How to Manage Habits That Creep Into Your Life

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There are so many life lessons I’ve learned from nature – pest management (aka “managing the habits that creep into your life”) is the latest one. This year we’ve been making a concerted effort to manage some of the unwanted weeds on our property, in particular tree pears. It’s taken a considerable investment of time, hard work, money and resources to uncover the best way to deal with them. It’s also got me thinking about personal habits that creep into our lives, and what we can do to manage those sorts of weeds and pests.

Pests have always been around

We’ve lived on our small bush property for many years. We’ve always had a few pests here and there but haven’t been overly concerned about them. They’ve had little impact on everything else so we haven’t considered them a problem. In the past we had a few cows and sheep grazing the grass. We’ve had no grazing stock for nearly 10 years now due to ongoing drought conditions. Even though I miss seeing those big beautiful cow eyes looking back at me, we’ve actually gained a lot of satisfaction from watching the native plants regenerate as a result. We’ve also relished the opportunity to make use of the land in other ways such as building mountain bike trails throughout the property.

MTB Trail

The problem pest at my place

Apart from reduced stock, altered land use and drought conditions, other changes haveCactus Tree Pear also gradually taken place – changes that we were blinded to until they became quite obvious and problematic. Tree pear is one of these changes. It has rapidly multiplied in the recent conditions. Not long ago it was a fairly insignificant pest, kept in balance by naturally occurring biological controls. Now it’s dominating the landscape. It very easily and quickly multiplies, so we now have a dense covering of tree pear of all sizes. Its growth rate is amazing and it thrives in the harsh conditions.

Managing the pest

Mature Tree PearUncovering how best to manage this pest has been exhausting, taking lots of hours, energy, research and trial and error. We’ve learned how critical it is to choose the ‘right’ strategy – the difference between getting numbers of tree pear manageable again, or increasing their numbers even more! They’re incredibly tough and resilient – I’ve got to admire them for that! We’ve persisted with our management strategy because we want to live in a balanced way, minimising the impact of our own lifestyle, and supporting environmental sustainability. It’s taken nearly 12 months to reach the point where we can see a positive outcome ahead. And we’ve learned lessons about keeping a closer eye on the pests out there and intervening earlier rather than later.

Habits can be like weeds and pests

Noticing what isUnwanted habits can silently creep into our lives in the same way that the tree pear and other weeds and pests gradually take over tracts of land and impact the overall health of the environment. The habits can slowly, quietly and destructively begin to dominate your life in various ways. The damage shows up as it impacts your relationships, health and confidence. Reestablishing healthier habits requires a hard sustained effort over time, but the secret is in actually noticing that there is a problem in the first place.

Audit your life

In the same way that it can be helpful to regularly have a good look around your propertyReflect to check for pests and unwanted changes, it’s also vital that we review our personal habits from time to time. It’s often only when a crisis takes place that we take the time to do this, but it’s a healthy practice for any of us even when things seem to be going smoothly. When we take the time to reflect, notice and make adjustments, we are better able to keep on top of the pesky habits that impact negatively on ourselves, our relationships and the world around us.

Questions to ask yourself

You don’t have to run away to the quiet of the desert or the tranquility of the mountains to review your life (although if you have the opportunity that could be amazing!) A more practical way for most of us is to simply take a few moments, or even a couple of hours, to ask ourselves a few questions. You might find it helpful to write your reflections down in a journal, make some art work about the topic, or have a conversation about these issues with a trusted person.

1. What have I got in my life that’s working for me?

2. What is not working so well in my life?

3. What is one action I could take that would make the biggest difference?

4. How can I make sure I follow through on that action?

5. What can I let go of?

6. What do I need to keep?

Change can be challenging

Even desired change can be very challenging and unsettling. We can experience a conflict of values, a simultaneous push and pull towards and away from the change. We might sense resistance from people and situations around us, as well as our own internal resistance. Be prepared for this, and push past the prickly bits!

Early intervention is best

Small cactusAnd so as I walk and run my home trails, I’ve been much more aware of the little cactus popping up. I’ve been investing a little bit of time and energy to carefully prise them out when I see them, right there and then. I’ve learned the hard way that this is a much easier and more effective way of dealing with the problem. Burying your head in the sand and avoiding seeing the issue for what it really is, only makes the problem bigger and more difficult over time. Sometimes those unhealthy unhelpful habits just seem to creep into our lives but with greater diligence and readiness to take action, we can keep them in their place, and maintain a more balanced life.

VLOG (Video Blog)

Did you know that I have a You Tube channel? Over the coming months I’ll be regularly posting videos and VLOGS over there. You can watch my latest VLOG on managing the pesky habits in your life  by clicking here!

 

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

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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. 

 

Frights, Flights, and Fears: Look back to see how far you’ve come

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Life can hand us plenty of frights, flights and fears but it’s good to look back occasionally to see how far you’ve come. I’ve been reflecting on this over the weekend when I noticed some old fears resurfacing, and rather than get caught up in the stories they told me, I chose to look at how far I’ve progressed.

I was eager to get back on my mountain bike after a couple of weeks away road tripping, bushwalking and trail running which I absolutely loved, but I also love riding my bike and Kathryn on MTB riding through a gullywas missing it. When I started riding on the weekend, I noticed some of those old worries pop up that only surface when I’ve been off my bike for a while. They used to hang around me a lot. Well actually, most of the time! But I’ve worked really hard at keeping them in their place in recent years. Deciding to blog about them has been one of the most empowering actions I’ve taken. They could no longer lurk away in the dark depths of my mind, stewing and multiplying and expanding by the minute. Many of them simply lost their power when I brought them out into the light of day. Have you read my blog about how I worked through a step-by-step process to manage my fear of “the scary corner”!

So here I was on Sunday morning with an incessant barrage of inner talk going on in my head:

“That’s too slippery.”

“I can’t ride down that gully.”

I’m going to hit that tree.”

I’m hopeless at riding on ‘technical’ terrain.”

My back tyre keeps slipping out. I can’t ride up here.”

There are too many rocks.”

There are too many low hanging branches.”

I have to go slowly round this corner so I don’t fall off.”

I’d better walk this bit.”

That’s where I fell before.”

That’s another place I fell off.”

That’s where I nearly fell on the snake when I stopped too quickly and went over the handlebars.”

..and so on and so on. It was very loud in my head!

NOW I want to say that the most powerful step YOU can take if you find yourself in a similar situation is simply this: NOTICE what’s going on in your head. Simply NOTICE. The situation doesn’t’ have to be about riding a bike. It might be the thoughts you have associated with speaking to an audience, introducing yourself to someone, going out in the dark, driving in the city traffic, swimming with sharks, flying on a plane, or absolutely anything at all! Simply NOTICE what your mind says. And with the power of noticing what’s going on in your head, you can then choose what to do next.

Kathryn looking calm and happy on her rideI’ve been practising and teaching this technique for a lot of years, and yet still I sometimes forget to do it when the moment arises. The thing is that on Sunday morning I DID NOTICE those fearful thoughts bouncing round my head. And guess what? I didn’t care about them. I didn’t let them bother me. Instead of giving them the power of my attention and allowing them to expand and bully me into playing it too safe, I chose to dig up another thought from my mind vault:

This is a confidence cycle. I only worry about these things when I’ve been off my bike for a couple of weeks and out of practice. Just ride. Focus on how far you’ve come over the past few years. Don’t let those worries bully you or keep you small, or limit the fun you’ll have today. You’re sensible. You won’t do any crazy dangerous stuff. You’re safe. Just ride.”

And so I focused on how strong I felt and that all the recent running has made a positive difference to my strength and aerobic fitness. I enjoyed the feeling of sprinting up a couple "Tough Girl" socksof short hills engaging my quads in an exertion that a couple of years ago would have been painful (if not impossible)! I pedalled in a higher gear than normal and found it easier than expected. I noticed what I did well and trusted wholeheartedly that my confidence will be back real soon. I glanced down at my fabulous new “tough girl” socks reminding myself of my strengths and the stories I can tell myself about what I CAN do. And as I looked back over the past few years, I could see how far I’ve progressed in managing my fears on the bike. I’ve developed resilience and practised some of life’s most valuable skills that I’ve transferred into other areas of my life.

Yes, frights, flights and fears will always be there, but you can choose how to handle them. Practise. Persist. And occasionally look back to see how far you’ve come.

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. 

3 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Younger

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Do you know what drives me to do the work I do with groups of women and health professionals? It’s the fact that there are so many things I wish I’d known when I was younger – things that could have made a difference to my life and to my happiness if I’d known about them, made sense of them, and felt confident implementing them in my own life.

Being stuck in anxiety, sadness or anger stops many people from living truly satisfying and fulfilling lives. With many years of working in the mental health industry as well my own personal experiences, I feel an unstoppable drive to keep moving forwards, to keep expanding my reach to build up people’s knowledge and skills, to make a difference in the world with as many people as I can. My mission is to share information and inspiration that empowers women towards a genuine and deep sense of wellness. And by doing this the ripple effect will have an even greater impact.

Wild yellow flowers

Today I’m sharing with you 3 things I wish I’d known when I was younger.

1. Exercise is the only magic pill

KW MTB selfieDaily exercise and general physical activity are crucial elements of feeling good. Just as some people might need to diligently take medication every day, I need to exercise every day. Exercise is nature’s way of stimulating the hormones which aid concentration, problem-solving, sleep, digestion, and mood. This daily dose of exercise rebalances our body’s systems resulting in wide-ranging benefits that no single medication can provide. The research is absolutely clear that regular medium to high intensity exercise can have a profound effect on health AND happiness.

What types of physical activity and exercise do you prefer? I’ve always loved bushwalking, and in more recent years I’ve become really enthusiastic about mountain biking. I call mountain biking my ‘parallel universe’ because it not only provides me with a very regular dose of fun exercise, family time and social interaction, but I’ve also learned the most amazing life lessons from it including managing fears, growing resilience, and developing mindfulness.

2. Get sleep savvy

Awake owl
Credit: source unknown

Sleep is vital for optimal brain function including mood management. Quality sleep restores the mind and body. It improves concentration, problem-solving, reaction time, capacity to think clearly, organise ourselves, plan, learn … and the list just goes on. But getting a good sleep is easier said than done for some of us. There are many skills to getting a good sleep and there are many things you can control when you understand how sleep works. So, the lesson here is to educate yourself about sleep – sleep cycles, circadian rhythms, body clocks, and sleep hygiene. The most common helpful strategies include exercise (especially in the morning), exposure to early morning light (this resets the body clock so you start to feel sleepy in the evening), reduce caffeine (especially in the afternoon) and learn relaxation and stress management skills. Another vital strategy here is to learn about AND practice mindfulness – every day (not just when you have trouble sleeping). Which leads straight into my 3rd tip!

3. Mind your mind

Don't believe everything you thinkMinds are such complex things! They wield a lot of power over our emotions and our actions (including sleep). But unless you notice what’s going on in your mind, and choose how much power to give it, your thoughts, assumptions and beliefs will control you instead of the other way around. The habit of being hooked by thoughts or strongly attached to them is limiting and anxiety-provoking. The key here is to begin by simply noticing what is happening in your mind, and by doing this with curiosity and without judgement. The power is in the noticing. You’ll collect all sorts of interesting bits of information about how your mind works, what thinking patterns it gets locked into, what beliefs and assumptions are behind it all, and how all of this impacts your physiology, your behaviours and your emotions. One of my favourite sayings is “Don’t believe everything you think!” because we can learn to stand back, notice the thought and choose whether to believe it, or not.

Let's sum up!

So there you have it. The 3 key pieces of information I wish I’d known (and understood, and implemented) when I was younger!

1. Exercise is the only magic pill

2. Get sleep savvy

3. Mind your mind

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.

Nine Powerful Mind-based Strategies

This post is all about using powerful mind-based strategies to boost your resilience and enhance your sense of wellness. In my last blog post I stepped you through how to create your own recipe for success and happiness that grows from a base of action-based strategies. Your recipe included actions that enhance physical and mental strength such as meditation, exercise, socialising, nutrition and sleep among others. Today we’re adding to your mix with powerful mind-based strategies!

Click here to read my last blog post “Recipe for Success and Happiness: getting the mix right!”

When you have a solid routine of action-based strategies enhancing your resilience, you’ll be ready to make effective use of mind-based strategies as well (the psychological jargon is ‘cognitive strategies’). These tend to be a little bit trickier than the action-based strategies because they deal with things we can’t see, like our thoughts, feelings and attitudes. But mind-based strategies can be incredibly powerful so they are definitely worth practising.

When you combine helpful actions with powerful mind-based strategies, you’ll create a deep sense of wellness and inner strength. You’ll be better equipped to manage stresses and will be able to bounce back more quickly when life throws those curve balls. As a result, you’ll know what it is to experience success more often and your satisfaction and happiness will soar. BUT the key point is that you need to PRACTISE them. All of them. Repeatedly. Don’t give up. New habits can take weeks to gel, so stick at it!

Mind-based Strategies

1. Keep a bagful of helpful questions handy – “I ask myself …”

  • Am I using black and white thinking? Where’s the grey?
  • Am I exaggerating the situation?
  • What does this situation look like from other perspectives?
  • Will this matter in 5 years time?
  • What’s the worst thing that could happen?
  • Am I filtering out the positives / negatives?
  • Am I really to blame? Is it my responsibility to fix?
  • Is this label / judgement helpful?
  • Am I jumping to conclusions?
  • Where is the evidence that what I’m thinking is true?
  • Am I assuming I know what the other person is thinking / feeling?
  • Are my expectations realistic?
  • Am I focusing on things outside my control?
  • What would my older wiser self advise me to do?

2. Work towards goals – long-term, medium-term and short-term

Break them up into little steps and focus on one little step at a time. A personal example of mine was when I registered for “Chicks in the Sticks”, a 3 hour women’s only enduro mountain bike event. I had months to prepare myself physically and psychologically which was a good thing because I’d never been in a bike race before and was terrified at the idea! I broke my goal down into smaller goals such as joining regular group rides, developing a training plan with increasing ride lengths and levels of difficulty, and having some coaching sessions.

3. Don’t give up when things don’t go as expected

Use a problem-solving technique to brainstorm ideas (even the crazy ones!), evaluate your options, choose one option, implement it, review how it’s going, and repeat this process as often as necessary.

4. Give yourself words of affirmation, reminders that you are ok

Many of us talk down to ourselves in critical ways, we tend to notice our shortcomings and weaknesses, but there’s a whole lot more to ourselves that needs some attention too! For example, tell yourself “You did great!”, “You are enough”, “Wow you’re getting stronger all the time!”

5. Gather a store of mantras, statements, quotes or ways of being that you intentionally choose to live by

You can collect them from songs, poems, books and social media in addition to listening to your own inner wisdom. Write them on sticky notes, in a journal or diary, print out visual reminders to stick around your home or workplace, or even use them as screen savers and wallpapers on your electronic devices. Some examples include “Just do it”, “One drop raises the ocean”, “Keep it simple”, “Just breathe”, “Stand tall”.

6. Get yourself a playlist of mentors and role models

They might be people you know and admire personally, or they could be people you’ve read about, or even characters from movies or books. When you find yourself feeling anxious or angry, ask yourself “What would [insert name of someone you admire] say or do in this situation?” One of the tracks on my personal playlist is a mountain bike coach I went to a couple of years ago. I sometimes hear his voice when I’m riding technical terrain on my bike “Get down low. Lower!”, and “Look up. Higher!” These words have been invaluable as I’ve learned to manage my fears about riding.

7. At any time you can call upon 5 seconds of courage

That’s all it takes to pick up the phone, make an assertive statement, click on a button or walk away from a situation. Think what YOU could do in YOUR five seconds of courage!

8. Develop a mindful approach to living

Notice more of your inner world and the subtleties of the world around you. Really get to know yourself, your patterns, thoughts, reactions. With this powerful knowledge you can then make conscious choices to do things differently, or the same. You’ll be in charge of your responses instead of the other way around.

9. Visualise how you would like things to be

Picture yourself doing something you want to achieve, or being the sort of person you’d like to be. Visualisation can be used for relaxation (eg visualise yourself lying on the beach, your stresses trickling away into the sand beneath you) or to help you progress towards a goal (eg visualise yourself speaking in front of an audience, feeling confident, upright posture, smiling, relaxed). When I’m feeling nervous about riding my bike on a particular section of track, I stop for a few moments and picture myself riding it the way I want it to go, as if I’m watching a short video of myself successfully negotiating that section. It truly is a powerful mind-based strategy and one you can use in every area of your life.

Free printable to keep your powerful mind-based strategies in play!

So there you have it – some really powerful mind-based strategies to throw into the mix. And to help you keep your strategies in play, I’ve created a free printable for you. “I ask myself …” is a beautiful keepsake of the helpful questions listed above. You can download it for free from my website, ready to print and display. This will be a valuable tool to keep your powerful mind-based strategies present everyday.

Each month you’ll have access to a new FREE PRINTABLE on my website that will guide you on your journey of wellness. To make sure you don’t miss out, sign up for my email “Grounded Inspiration”. You’ll be the first to hear about my latest offers, news and inspirations. When you sign up, you’ll also have EXCLUSIVE ACCESS to a mini-workbook “Success & Happiness”, a unique guide to creating your own recipe for happiness using action-based strategies that beautifully compliments my last blog post.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.

The Forecast is for …. FLIES!

This season’s forecast is for flies.

Yep. That’s right.

It happens every year right about now. No matter what else the weather does, it always seems to set the right conditions for flies. And there’s no escaping it.

I generally consider myself an earth-loving kind of person. I think there’s a place for everything and everyone, but I really do have trouble allowing flies to have their space, or at least sharing it with me. I look forward to my morning run, walk or ride. I love being outdoors. I love exercising. I love nature. But I definitely struggle with flies.

So here was I this morning revelling in my ride when a fly tries to crawl into my left ear. Now that on its own makes my skin crawl. But then a swarm came at me. One on my sunglasses. One under my sunglasses. One in my eye. One on my top lip. Yew!!! Dozens on my legs and arms torturing me as they tickled, wandering aimlessly all over.

But it didn’t end there. What’s a girl to do when she’s being swarmed upon by flies while riding MTB? Not only that, but the trail suddenly got a bit tricky right at that moment when the fly attack took place. Can’t take hands off bars. Can’t swing arms or legs madly to chase them off. So I tried the only thing I could think of. I blew really hard, aiming my breath for the one on my lip whilst simultaneously visualising a force of air blowing out my ear, expelling yet another one. Scrunching up my eyes, squinting to see ahead so I could dodge the rocks and stay on the trail. Holding my breath as I rolled through the narrow gap between the trees. Whew! Made it!

Then the immense relief of being able to brush the flies off my face with my hands, take a deep breath, and remind myself we all have a place in this world. As I pedalled on up the hill, I hoped to find a fast downhill section of trail on the other side, the perfect set-up to outrun my nemesis.

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.

Accidentally getting it right – OR DID I?

There’s been a rock garden at the beginning of our mountain bike track on our home property ever since we built it. It’s always daunted me, especially being right at the very start! I’ve been pretty proud of how I’ve come to face some of my fears along parts of our short track including this rock garden at the beginning. As time has gone on, my progress has gone from bike hiking through the entire length of the rock garden, to riding through the first couple of metres then walking through the next bit, to finally being able to ride most of the rock garden and dabbing my right foot once or twice on the boulder on my right as I squeeze through the narrow gap between the craggy rocks.

I often walk or run along our trail as well. It’s so accessible and I don’t need to go any further afield to step into our beautiful Australian bush country! As I’ve traversed the trail over the past few months, I’ve sometimes stopped to look at the rock garden and visualise myself riding through the narrow gaps between the rocks without clunking my pedals. I knew that I would need to develop a lot more skill, line accuracy, confidence and power to ride this section. Basically I’d been riding it so slowly that I didn’t have enough power to get over the craggy rocks. Although I enjoyed my brief little fantasies of riding effortlessly over and around the rocks, I certainly didn’t have much hope that I’d ever actually be able to do it.

Last week I was closely following my husband as we rode the trail. Normally I’m a long way behind and do my own thing. I watched the line that he took through the rock garden and without even thinking about it I probably followed a very similar line, dabbed my foot once on the big boulder on the right, and kept going. I noticed quite a powerful thought come to my mind “Wow that seemed pretty much seamless.” Even though I’d dabbed my foot, it felt smooth and flowy.

A few minutes later as we rode the trail loop again, I was conscious that I was thinking about something that was upsetting me. I wasn’t very mindful of where I was or what I was doing. Suddenly I realised I’d already ridden through the rock garden! I hadn’t dabbed my foot, I didn’t jab my pedals, and the smooth flowy feeling hit the pit of my stomach and came out of my mouth with a loud shriek, my previous upset forgotten in a moment of elation as I realised what I’d done. I’d accidentally got it right!

OR HAD I? What acknowledgement do I owe MYSELF for the consistent work of practising, the walking it through, the visualisations? How often do I mindlessly disregard something I’ve achieved seeing it as a random event which I’ve had no control over? How would it be if I paused for a moment to celebrate my work and my successes, however small they might seem to another? Would this impact my perception of progress over time and keep my enjoyment and motivation rolling along?

Today as I walk the same trail and peer along the rock garden, I can clearly see the line that I need to take on my bike. The rocks seem so much smaller than before, the gaps between them seem so much wider, and I realise just how powerful the images and thoughts in our minds can be.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.