Friday, 19 July 2013

Back Cracking Experience



Yesterday’s yoga session was focused on alignment and as I was balancing myself sideways, wobbling uncontrollably and making the most elaborate facial expressions whilst trying to control my breathing, I listened to the instructor and attempted to tune into my spine and neck. I don’t know how or why but I decided my neck and back didn’t quite feel as aligned as I would like. One of them suggested going to the Chiropractor “they’re amazing” she assured me so I booked an appointment for this morning and sadly couldn’t contain my excitement as yet again I was taking action to improve my quality of life.

Now I’m not sure if I am naive or just plain stupid sometimes but I was quite under-prepared.  When I arrived the receptionist asks me what my injury is – shit, I didn’t realize I needed an injury, I just feel unaligned….. after procrastinating on whether to tell the truth and potentially be faced with an unsympathetic receptionist who doesn’t care if I feel unaligned, I decided to blame my boxing.
(Turns out I may not have been lying – the doctor of chiropractic informs me that holding the pads consistently in boxing for someone stronger than you (which is exactly the type of character I like to partner with) then returning with punching as hard as I possibly can is little more than repeated whiplash – makes sense I guess.

The receptionist then asks me to read a disclaimer that informs me of a very minuscule chance I may suffer a stroke or be seriously injured from my visit-  I have no idea what I thought I would experience over the next 15 minutes but it definitely wasn’t the medical practice I was expecting.  I sign my life away and become a little nervous on what I am about to endure.

The lovely doctor starts by pointing at some bones on a life size skeleton but I have no idea what he is talking about. He then sits me down and asks me to raise my arms up, at the same time he is pushing them down I have to resist and keep raising them. I do this whilst looking forward, easy! I do it again whilst looking right, this is stupid! I try it whilst looking left and my arms flop down like a ragdoll.. errr what… how? Apparently my left C bone or something is sticking out of my neck – I hadn’t noticed this before, well I can’t really see or feel it now but he assures me this is the cause. He then casually walks behind me and wraps his arms around my head and neck and promises me “this won’t hurt”. For a split second I actually think he is just going to break my neck and murder me, I am slightly shitting myself. Whoa! The noise that follows with his neck breaking movement is horrific, the major cracks I hear assures me he has done some permanent damage, in an uncontrollable reaction I jump up, state how horrible that was and ask what the hell just happened, he looks shocked, tells me I am welcome and that he has just explained it all and was there something I didn’t understand – hmmm… I kind of forgive him when he starts rubbing some substance (I’m assuming anti-flam to avoid the bruises) into the area because it actually feels quite good (I cannot resist a massage or anything that comes close, it can be from anyone, anywhere and I can not refuse) so I pretend it’s a little treat and conclude he can continue healing me. I apologize and move onto my back as instructed. I do a few leg raises and now he wants to realign my left hip because it is very restricted through my left bum cheek, well that what I assume he meant as he poked me bum cheek twice and said “hmmm.... yes, very restricted”. I lie sideways with my left leg bend over my right when he leans onto my left upper thigh, applies some pressure and then literally jumps on it, putting all his force and body weight onto me – I thank him and think how this is just another weird experience, in another weird week, in my weird life.

He promises me I will feel the benefits and tells me to return in 2 days. Apparently realigning, or cracking, your back into place or whatever medical term they use can treat a ridiculous amount of illnesses including stress, headache, sleeplessness, skin conditions and so much more! After the $75 charge (which nearly blew my socks off) I am now waiting to feel the benefits of latest quest for a better mind, body and soul!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Money Making - Second Attempt



In my further attempt to generate an additional income of $150 a week I fell in love with the idea of making my own jewelry and selling it at a profit. I have seen what crafts people are selling in the local Saturday market, I figure it must be easy to make and the learn that most of the pieces have a markup of anything between 500 - 1000%

For me though, this was just a stupid idea. I do not have an eye for detail, I am clumsy and I don’t have great taste in fashion. So what do I decide to do? Invest some money, purchase a lot of jewelry pieces from a national craft warehouse and decide I will make and sell jewelry myself. I was surprised when I found it pretty easy to make and ended up with over 50 pairs of earrings, rings and necklaces and it was quite a pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon.

I hadn’t however, considered how I would sell my new range. I concluded that TradeMe (New Zealand’s version of Trade Me) was my best choice and spent longer putting the listings on auction that it took to make the bloody things. To make matters worse because of the competition online I placed the items at a very low reserve (assuming it would attract more people to bid) and over the course of a week sold a quarter of them at about the same cost it took to buy the pieces in the first place then the auction cost, the shipping and finally the winning fee you have to pay to Trade Me for every item that sells! To make things worse as I was packing some of the rings to post, the adjustable ring pieces were snapping off as the craft glue wasn’t strong enough. I attempted to fix this issue with superglue despite the fact that I know I am not trained to use superglue and should avoid it at all costs, I have never had a good relationship with superglue.  As a normal person (not me obviously) may expect the superglue got everywhere, all over the back of the rings, up the sides and even burnt through some of the plastic cameo’s melting the design on the front, my fingers were sticking together, it was on my clothes and all over the pages of my nearby diary. I separate my fingers as wide as I could and resolved to sit completely still, not move or touch anything until everything dried. What a fucking disaster! I cleaned it up, attempted and failed to fix the sold treasures and decide to email the successful bidders and offer a full refund. Now I have refunded all the money, minus what I had to pay Trade Me for the action and the winning fee and have a shitloads of ruined jewelry that needs to be binned. Another Epic Fail!

Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous

I finished reading my latest book last night, it’s called Fit, Fifty and Fired Up. It’s the third in a series written by a guy who has on a number of occasions taken a year off work to spend with his family (so that he doesn’t regret it later in life when all his children are grown up) and he writes about his normal life and the way he sees it through his eyes, which ultimately is pretty funny. I then watched his famous work/life balance speech, which I highly recommend – you can view it on the bottom of his webpage www.nigelmarsh.com.

I connected with his writing style and decided on a whim to email him and ask him for some tips. Sounds very brave but he does state in his book he replies to every email. So I was hoping that next month, after my trip he may get back to me, alas I didn’t have to wait - this guy takes action! Twenty minutes later he emails me stating he is more than happy to offer some advice to just call him and he gives me his phone number. I was pretty bloody nervous, I don’t know how to speak to a famous person! However I decided I had to call him because once again this would push me out of my comfort zone. So I had a lovely half hour chat with Nigel Marsh, he was very humble and helpful. He did however inform me that in return for his time he would like me to partake in his annual charity event 'The Sydney Skinny' – the famous skinny dip attracted over 750 people this year including a 97 year old man, a paraplegic and woman with a four month old baby. I promised I would think about it and at least tell some of my friends. To be honest I would be quite keen, I recon it would be extremely liberating, only problem is it’s in Sydney and in February, which is usually a fun packed month for us in Queenstown with birthday’s, festivals and other excuses I haven’t yet come up with.

Nigel did suggest (although also pointed out that many would disagree with him) that I should stop blogging as this is, in theory, me writing for free when I should be focusing on writing with intent to sell. I won’t stop right now but am definitely considering this course of action – sorry!

So really this is just a little brag about me rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous (I know, it’s not quite glitz and glamor but it’s as close as I have got) and I have however decided that I am indeed going to write a book. Whether that book ever gets published or not is another question, but I have my tips and will pursue my new dream. This will also tick off my goal to start selling my work, although I think there could be a long (potentially never ending) wait for the cheque to come in.

So thanks Nigel Marsh – I am now inspired to focus my energies on writing something bigger, with that in mind I am off to research some more!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Exteme Yoga

bik·ram yo·ga  

/╦łbikram/
Noun
A type of hatha yoga characterized by a set series of postures and breathing exercises, performed in a very hot room.


I've been trucking along very happy with my yoga progress and felt I was enjoying and steadily improving with each session. That is until a good friend of mine invited me to join her in hell.
A simple innocent text sent me into a mental downward spiral.

"I'm off the booze so thinking Bikram Yoga Friday night - it scares the hell out of me, you keen?". My instant thought was there is a reason it scares you - followed by the dread that this text has now challenged me to move out of my comfort zone and support my friend in a nightmare scenario. Damn it - good friend or not I figured this was a very selfish move, in an attempt to keep herself out of the pub she has (probably unbeknown to her) tortured my soul, as you are now probably aware I can rarely refuse a challenge and there were 3 things glaringly wrong with this one in particular:

1) My Friday nights are either for going to the pub, socializing with friends, or vegging out at home with takeaway and good TV
2) Yoga is hard enough let alone attempting to partake in 90 minutes of excruciating stretches in 40 degree heat in a small room full of half naked bodies.
3) It scared the shit out of me

So naturally, considering all the above, I said OK.

I have been trying and practicing for many years to not worry about things. As one of my favorite quotes says "Worrying does not take away tomorrows troubles, it takes away today's peace" and I totally agree with this, so instead of worrying I have come to live off the nervous excitement, anticipation, adrenalin and dread instead. So as we tumbled into the studio (running slightly late and under prepared) we were giggling like nervous school children. We were barely  through the door when my friend yelled at the shocked receptionist, "THIS IS OUR FIRST TIME", I could see all the half naked bodies turn to examine the new blood and I swear I saw a few of them laugh. "Oh God" I kept thinking "I don't know if I will actually be able to do this".

Mat on ground, towel on mat, powerade and water in arm distance, I am lying on the floor trying to accustom my breathing to this suffocating heat. Instead of worrying we take to nervously laughing at each other, trying to hide behind the pure terror I can see in both our eyes. Oh yes, I need to mention that whilst struggling to balance and perform a series of impossible poses and sweating uncontrollably, they have kindly put mirrors all around the room so you can see how amazing you look - or not in my case. Twenty minutes in I was reviewing myself in the mirror. My face was beetroot red, my eyes were bloodshot, my clothes were soaking, there was a droplet of sweat hanging from my nose and I was shaking manically on one leg when the instructor bellows "look at your reflection, make eye contact and find the strength from within yourself" I had to look within because I certainly wasn't inspired by looking at the exterior of myself!

I think the scariest part of the entire ordeal was the instructor - who didn't do any of the moves instead just barked the orders. She was also a little mental. She was Hitler on Mushrooms! At one point, when I had finally managed to balance and steady myself into the bendy weird triangle pose (obviously that's not whats is actually called its probably called the Deathly Praying Mantis or something similar) she instructed us, without moving to to sing Happy Birthday to someone called Beth. I hope Beth appreciated it (whoever she was) because it was bloody hard to concentrate on your body and then try and produce words - then just when I thought it couldn't get any stranger we had to perform the Reverse Deathly Praying Mantis pose and sing "if your happy and you know it clap your hands" - I couldn't clap, mostly because I couldn't move AND because it would have been a lie - I felt many emotions but not happy.

I also have failed to mention the most horrific part - less than 5 minutes into the class I let out 2 gigantically loud farts. I'm not proud of this but it happened. After watching Jack Ass many years ago and remembering a farting yoga scene, since I have started practicing yoga I have been listening intently in all my classes to see if this actually happens. I was relieved when after 6 classes I decided it was a myth. This time however I soon learned that the missing ingredient is heat. Slightly mortified I spent the next 85 minutes performing poses whilst squeezing my butt cheeks together as hard as I could to ensure there were no more slippages from me for the rest of the class.

Now after reading my rant you may conclude that it was a god awful experience that I will never inflict upon myself again. You would be wrong. It was such a difficult and odd class that I actually felt I survived something terrible and achieved a new status in myself. After an hour and half of intense heat and stretching, walking out into the cold reality of life felt amazing! Honestly for a couple of hours afterwards I felt invisible, I swear my skin also felt great and the shower to wash away the grossness was such a necessary joy! So despite all the negative points I have raised above I will definitely be attempting this again

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Searching for my winning lottery ticket


Over the last few weeks, I have been attempting different ways to generate an extra income (Goal 6 – to generate an extra $150 a week). I read a book recently called the 4-hour work week by Timothy Ferris. In the book he explains that we don’t need jobs, we need an income, and a bloody good income can be achieved by working just 4 hours a week. I loved this idea. The book then furthers to tell you how to spend your new found freedom away from the office and how to live life to the max. I loved this idea too. Anyway he gives a few examples on how to generate an extra income and some of these include finding a product overseas, purchasing a very good price then resell at market rate in your own country. I loved this idea even more. 

So a few weeks ago I joined alibaba.com – biggest online marketplace based out of Asia and started to look at what people were buying from Trade Me (New Zealand’s version of ebay). I settled on video cameras and found a company who were willing to sell me ten 12 megapixel video cameras to sample before placing a larger order. I got them at a bargain of $25 per piece and my research showed I could sell them for between $55 - $65 each. I also decided to buy 10 mp3 players complete with an inbuilt camera for $8 per piece when I had researched that I could sell them for a minimum of $20 each. I thought this was my winning lottery ticket! Hahahahahahahahaha… so naive. My first box arrived and I was like a child on Christmas Day and when I opened them it actually reminded me of a few Christmas Day situations from my childhood – I was very confused and not sure what the hell was in the package – this is not how it looked in the brochure. The video cameras seemed very small, then I investigated further and they were in fact very small, and plastic and toy like. Then I tested them and it got worse, they were not 12 megapixel, at a push maybe 1 megapixel, and the internal memory was so shocking I could only record a few seconds of footage. EPIC FAIL! I am slowly getting rid of them at a very low price, being extremely honest about the quality and marketing them as Kids Cameras …….. as for the mp3 players – must have been a scam because they never arrived!

So I’m sure there is a lesson here and I am so glad I only spend about $350 rather than $3500 however I do feel like my dream has just been ripped away as quickly as it appeared. I will likely attempt a final purchase and see what happens next but for now I am happy selling household items on Trade Me. Its slow, boring  and time consuming and I’ve only made $200 in the last month but I am actually getting rid of a lot of unnecessary crap I was hording (oh and a couple of video cameras!).

I have 2 other ideas for an additional income stream, one is creating a workbook for a specific business topic and I have thought about the idea for a while now just have zero inspiration on where to start. The next to create a new blog focused more on articles and how to’s etc. – I can’t give away too many details or you may steal my idea. Despite having all this time off work, I actually don’t know when I will have time to fit this in. I have been busy with friends, fitness, hiking, snowboarding, boxing, writing, cooking – those 8 hours a day I would usually spend in work are surprisingly easily filled. So instead of progressing on my writing or income stream ideas I am now off to snowboard with a few mates and enjoy the sunshine in the bloody cold temperature of minus 3 degrees!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Positivity

I like to think I am a positive, resilient and motivated individual.
I've achieved a lot in the last 28 years and recently learned that even when things aren't going my way I am pretty good at looking at the bright side (and for those odd occasions when the dark side starts to invade I have a great group of mates that help me turn it around sharpish).

I think in order to be a happy person you need to practice positivity and being positive encourages optimism which is essential in reaching any of your life goals.

Positive attitude, positive thinking, and optimism are the key ingredients to living a good life and ensuring your overall well-being.  Many studies have shown that you are likely to live longer and be healthier and happier with a positive attitude toward life. I also fully believe you're also way more likely to be successful.

I recently read the following on another blog (www.polish-my-crown.com/11-facts-about-positivity/):



1. Positive People Live Longer …In a study of nuns, those that regularly expressed positive emotions lived on average 10 years longer. {The Nun Study}


2. Positive work environments outperform negative work environments. {Daniel Goleman}


3. Positive, optimistic sales people sell more than pessimistic sales people. {Martin Seligman}


4. Positive leaders are able to make better decisions under pressure. {Heartmath.org}


5. Marriages are much more likely to succeed when the couple experiences a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions whereas when the ratio approaches 1 to 1, marriages are more likely to end in divorce. {John Gottman}


6. Positive people who regularly express positive emotions are more resilient when facing stress, challenges and adversity. {Several Studies}


7. Positive people are able to maintain a broader perspective and see the big picture …which helps them identify solutions where as negative people maintain a narrower perspective and tend to focus on problems. {Barbara Fredrickson}


8. Positive thoughts and emotions counter the negative effects of stress. For example, you can’t be thankful and stressed at the same time. {Several Studies}


9. Positive emotions such as gratitude and appreciation help athletes perform at a higher level. {Heartmath.org}


10. Positive people have more friends which is a key factor of happiness and longevity. {Robert D. Putnam}


11. Positive and popular leaders are more likely to garner the support of others and receive pay raises and promotions and achieve greater success in the workplace. {Tim Sande}


With so many reasons to ensure you remain, or even focus on becoming, a positive person here are some things I do on a regular basis that I hope will help you become a happier person:

1) Eliminate Negative Thoughts
The first step is one of awareness. You need to be aware of your thoughts, how they make you feel and why they make you feel that way in order to eliminate. Once you have unearthed these unhealthy thoughts they become much easier to deal with. I can imagine this will not be a simple process if you are prone to negative self talk. For example if at primary guy at school often called you ugly, you might believe that to be true regardless to the fact that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the guy in questions could have been a huge tool or the fact that the taunting was many years ago. Following such hurtful behavior it may be that ever since you have scrutinized your features, talked down on yourself and resulted in a lack of self esteem. Its difficult to get far and achieve if you put yourself down. So how do we break out of this habit? Anytime you catch yourself thinking "I can't", instantly question yourself "why not?", listen to your answers - are they real answers or just excuses. If your answer is just a negative belief i.e Im not good enough, try and think of a time when you have been. When I wanted to get back into writing I kept thinking things like "I haven't written in ages", "I don't think I am actually very good", "what if people think I am terrible" etc, then I did this exercise and worked on replacing those thoughts with facts "I have a BA honours journalism degree", "I got a 1st in my 30,000 word dissertation on Media in the Iraq war", "the more feedback I have the more I can improve" - these thoughts then took over and inspired me to start my blogs!

Another technique I was recently taught in a life coaching session is the swish effect, based on NLP practise. If you constantly think of 1 particular thing, whether it is an ex boyfriend, self doubt or fear of the future this is what you need to do. Realize which side of the brain the thought comes from. Acknowledge the thought. Now think of something very positive and strong that you would like to focus on - if your thought is of an ex, create an image of you being extremely happy with someone else, if it's self doubt imagine yourself strong and powerful doing the exact thing you want to do and doing it well, if its fear of the future create a picture of your ideal future, your husband, business, kids etc. Now make sure the new thought is a very big and colorful image. Think of the negative thought and shrink it down to a tiny, miniscule size and then imagine it shooting away from you as fast as possible, then instantly replace the thought with the new image. If you keep practicing this you will see how quickly your negative thoughts can be replaced with optimism.

2) Accept the worrying is a waste of time
There are so many things to worry about in life, it almost becomes part of your weekly routine -  your flights are delayed, you're due an appraisal with your boss, you have a job interview at a major firm - these kind of things can cause worry, anxiety and therefore stress . The best thing to do is learn to accept that worrying about things achieves absolutely nothing and simply wastes your time and fills you with doubt. Learn to accept the situation for what it is and think that everything happens for a reason - whatever will be will be - and no matter what happens there is always another solution. Once you stop worrying about things it gives you so much more head space to appreciate all the good in your life.

3) Surround yourself with Positive Influences
External factors in your life will play a huge part in how you think and behave. I suggest that you first identify any external negative forces in your life that influence your behavior. For example do you have a certain friend who constantly think the world is unfair to them. The more you are around these thoughts the more likely you are to adopt them, limit the time you spend with such people, similarly ensure you are not sharing dreams and goals with anyone who will be unsupportive and therefore make you second guess your chances. Also look at your environment - does your house have enough light, is your workspace inspiring, does your relationship make you happy.  Ensure you set your standards high, surround yourself only with people and things that empower you.

4) Focus on the Present
This is an area that I am currently working to improve myself. A lot of people are daunted and put off by the many steps that need to be taken in order to reach personal goals. It can feel overwhelming and you end up worrying and over analyzing everything. Therefore concentrate on steps and actions that can be taken right now. If you want to spend 6 months cruising around the Caribbean on a yacht but feel it is only a dream that can happen for the rich and famous. First replace the negative thought with a positive (step 1) then work out what you can do right now - google search clubs that teach newbies how to sail, search websites that offer cruising in the Caribbean, check flight prices to Barbados, set up a new savings account or automatic payment to start saving an extra $10 a week etc. The present is much more manageable.

This is the same for any worries or concerns you may have. For example I have been worrying about my career and what it is I actually want to do for the rest of my life. I have been concerned that being a writer requires working 60 hours a week, with a lot of rejection and minimal pay. However for the moment I am simply writing these blogs to get my confidence up and researching other alternatives only a weekly basis.

You cannot control what will happen in the future but most of the time you can control what actions you take and thoughts you have today. Meditation also helps with this, bringing your focus to the present moment.

5) Practice Gratitude
The opposite of  dissatisfaction is gratitude. When we are grateful for something we attract more of those positive aspects - it is the same with negative ones. Therefore, we should be focusing on all the positive things in life. Whenever you think of something that is getting you down, whether it's in your relationship or job, write down all the things you do like and are grateful for. They can be as grand or simple as you like, for example if you are not happy at work you may wish to write that you are grateful to be able to pay the bills each month. I keep a grateful list which I try to add too each week for all the things I am grateful for in life and start every morning reading this list before I start my day - reminding me of all the awesome things I have in my life.

Practicing gratitude is also true for simple manners or telling others how well they're doing, thanking them for their support or pointing out the good things in someones personality. They say smiling is contagious, therefore surely it is the same for extending gratitude.

6) Do What Makes You Happy
It is important to be aware and acknowledge the things that make you happy. Write a list of all the things that make you feel good about yourself, it could be painting your nails, dying your hair, surfing, watching a funny movie, reading a good book, cooking for others etc. Once you have your list it is extremely important to ensure you start acting on these things as often as possible. It can sometimes help to write a list of the top ten things that make you happy, put it somewhere where you can see it everyday and aim to get a few ticks each week next to each item, ticking off everytime you have done the action in question. This will ensure you are living a life that makes you smile and gives you prompt and encouragement to stop being lazy and do the things you love!


When you start focusing on becoming a happier person you will find that you start attracting other positive people into your life. You will also become more aware of the good things in life that you may have overlooked previously, in the same instance you will also feel when there is negativity around and it will be easier to avoid.  Hopefully some of the tips above will work for you and help you become a happier more, optimistic person.