Almost six months ago I left off my newsletter with “See you after the school holidays”. Well, hasn’t a lot happened since then! So many things have happened that it’s hard to figure out the best place to begin. In fact I’ve tried starting this post so many times and through a combination of taking my own advice (about reducing stress by drawing better work/ life boundaries for better work/life balance) and just unexpected twists and turns in the plot that is my life, it kept getting delayed. (Technically, if I left this one for two more weeks, it’ll be after the school holidays;-)
So today, I woke up and figured “Today is the day!” To write and share some of the thoughts I’ve been having about health (life balance, reducing stress etc.) because, as it often seems to happen, my offline conversations with friends have been about these issues a lot over the last six months, so I figure they’re probably relevant to you too:-)
A little back story
Ok so for those of you who are new to these musings / newsletters, at the beginning of the year I’d read a book called The life changing magic of tidying up and another one called Work smarter live better. (I’ve actually got a whole set of books I’m going to go through slowly – I’m calling them the “life changing books”:-) I had toyed with the idea of creating a book club around this stuff but haven’t done much with it as I feel people are too busy and not in the right place at the moment). But anyway these were the first two “life changing” books I read and they had a MASSIVE impact. As a consequence of reading them I began to make big changes in how I was doing things. (You can read about those epiphanies here and here) but two concepts really struck a chord for me:
- The concept of “sparking joy” and
- The concept of making time for what is important.
For some context, due to working myself pretty hard over the last few years, having young kids, sleep deprivation and making a cooking show, I was burnt out, gaining weight, my hair was falling out in handfuls each time I had a shower or ran my fingers through it) and I felt like my default “screen saver look” (you know, the blank look you give when you’re not really looking at or thinking about anything) had gone from a smile to a dissatisfied, “I’m biting my tongue so I don’t say something I’ll regret” look.
So I began to make a few changes.
Actually first I had to figure out what I was doing and how things were out of whack and then I had to figure out what I actually wanted things to look like anyway.
Sounds so simple but isn’t really.
(To be honest I think this is a process you’ll continually revise as you go through life).
Firstly, I wanted to feel more joy (I wanted my default “screen saver look” to be a smile again) and secondly, I wanted to bring back that “lazy weekend feeling” I had as a kid. (You know that feeling you get when you look at the clock and its still 1pm on a Saturday afternoon and you feel like you have forever).
I was fed up with feeling frustrated, fatigued and frumpy. And I realised that in order to bring back that lazy weekend feeling (and have the time and energy to cook for fun again and exercise) and generally enjoy life more I had to actually make that happen – which meant not working on a Sunday morning!!
I’ve made lots of other changes too since I last wrote here in April and I chat about some of them (like looking at my time table) here in this interview I did with Sarah Quinney a couple of weeks ago.
How I brought back more joy in my life
To bring back more joy I had a look at how I was spending my time. This is a much longer story (and more complex) but to summarise I realised a few things and gave myself permission to make a few changes.
One of the first changes to bring back more joy in my life came when one of my friends encouraged me to create an author page on facebook. I’d resisted it for so long because those pages previously were “public figure” pages and I found it a bit cringe worthy to be a public figure with a few followers (and I didn’t want to be a public figure in that sense of the word). Author yes, socialite, person in the media etc, no thank you. But anyway, I was part of this author group to help promote our cook books so (grudgingly) I did it.
The minute I created the page though, I felt like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I remembered a part of myself that got put into hibernation 7 years ago. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to write books and for awhile there (before I found out I had endometriosis and was told that we should start trying earlier rather than later if we wanted to have a family because it might not happen), I was working on my 3rd romance manuscript for fun with the hopes of publishing one day). It’s how I met Anne from Alternative Chef Kitchen (I did a “Write for Mills & Boon” course at the local WEA back in 2002).
I’ve always loved writing and reading and so around the time I created that author page I decided to make some firmer boundaries with work / rest time and I decided to create a fiction-only-in-the-evenings-and-on-the-weekend rule. I was into chapter 3 of a Sarah J Maas book (Throne of Glass – which I got from QBD along with books 2, 3 and 4 in the series that Sunday) and I started crying. Brenton (my hubby) asked me what was wrong and I said “I can’t believe I’ve barely done this in 7 years?! I’ve missed it so much.”
How did I let my time get so out of hand that I didn’t have time to read a book when I used to read a book a day?
Ok, that was pre-kids the one book a day thing, but still. In the last 7 years prior to a few months ago I’d read 5 Game of thrones books and 2 JR ward books were the only fiction I had read. Everything else I have read has been about naturopathy, health, online business (for the show) and learning how to do things like use our camera, edit videos, independent publishing etc. And terms & conditions omg I have read a LOT of those in the last 7 years.
In contrast, in the last 3 weeks since making some simple changes to my schedule I’ve still written what I needed to for ACK, attended my CPE seminars and have booked clinic but I’ve also read 9 fiction books, and I feel happier than I’ve felt in a long time (at least when I’m not missing my cat Giles who died unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago just before his 10th birthday).
(One of our more recent pics of my super snuggly cat Giles)
Creativity had space to emerge
Something else cool happened in this time. I had a fiction story idea come to me (for the first time in 7 years! I think my brain had just been so full of work and I’d been so sleep deprived that I didn’t have the energy to be creative, most of the time I wasn’t even remembering my dreams in the last few years). But once I took some time out, the energy for creativity came back… and so I started writing.
So what does this mean in terms of Clinic, Lisa White Naturopath (LWN) and Alternative Chef Kitchen (ACK)?
The funniest thing of all is that although I feel that things are completely different, they’re actually still very much the same!
After moving clinic to my home last year I am loving it. It’s great to have a lot of the things I’m chatting about with my clients at hand. We are still planning to build a proper space at home and we are getting closer to that (hubby bought an excavator!) But the biggest change (which was pretty simple and logical really) was one I made earlier this year of changing my working hours to Thursday (all day) and Friday mornings (when needed). I really had to stop working on the weekend in order to have a weekend.
I love the 1:1 clinic aspect of helping people make and integrate lifestyle changes that will help them feel better, so I’m keeping clinic:-)
(my new clinic space until we renovate now sans cat)
Alternative Chef Kitchen
This is funniest of all.
Since making time for reading and writing and weekends and after school, I’m achieving the same amount of work for ACK as I was before!! In less time, with less stress, resistance and drama!!!
Read that line again. I’m achieving the same amount of results in less time!! I attribute it to what I call “the fishbowl issue”. Years ago I read somewhere that goldfish grow to the size of their tank. I think our schedules have a lot in common with this. If we have more time, we try to squish more into it. (I think the same is true for handbags too…;-)
So anyway I cover how I realised how out of whack my schedule was and some of the steps I took to change it in this interview with Sarah.
So what’s next?
I’m going to aim to write a newsletter and blog here once a month on this life stuff and all the lifestyle things I’m finding that are making a difference for my health and happiness (as I feel they’re relevant for you too). I’m also going to put these thoughts together in a book because it’s the way my brain works and I like to have stuff organised in one place. And I love books:-)
(Despite the popularity of it on other health sites, I’ll continue to resist writing about the latest popular acronym and the products or science regarding it. (I majored in molecular biology and biochemistry back when I did my degree so I’m not talking about this stuff because I don’t know how to – that’s an important distinction – it’s because I don’t want to and honestly I think it stops people from changing habits and making the lifestyle and diet changes they may need to make to increase the quality of life when they only focus on the latest fad).
Anyway that’s all for today. I’d love to hear if this has resonated with you and if you’ve found your joy or made more time for things you love.
P.S. If you want to suss out more about my fiction / author journey
Click here: http://lisamwhite.com.
On there I’ll share a bit about my writing projects and path to publishing, the books I’m reading in my fun time and some other stuff I love when it comes to writing.
Yes, this is me:-) I was about 3 and I wanted to be Wonder Woman. My mum had stayed up all night making the costume for me for Christmas and I LOVED it:-)