The Next Steps

Choose your own agenda

So, today’s blog is supposed to be about choosing your own adventure. But for three years now I have lived by an alternative mantra: choose your own agenda.
What does choose your own agenda mean to me? 
Well…it’s about being the leading lady, the driving force, the managing director of my life. It’s about choosing what kind of life I want to live and taking steps to create it. It’s about figuring out what actually IS my agenda, and then going about implementing it.
It’s so easy to get caught up in everybody else’s agendas for your life. Family, work, society… they all tell you how you should and shouldn’t be behaving. There are so many ways you can implement a ‘choose your own agenda’ attitude:
For your mind
Choose your thoughts!!! This is a wonderful, revolutionary and really bloody difficult concept. How amazing that I can control my thoughts!
For your life
Figure out your top priorities and then go about making them top. Put first things first, sacrifice the stuff that doesn’t matter for the stuff that matters the most.
For your day
If you fail to plan you plan to fail. We’ve all heard it before. As teachers, we know we need to plan our lessons. But what about the rest of our days?
For many of us, it’s school holidays right now. (Woohoo!) We get to do whatever we want with our days for a couple of weeks. Sure, there is marking to finish and planning for next term to be done, but there’s also a lot of flexibility about our time. Make yours count!
How have I chosen my agenda on the first weekend of the holidays? 
Yesterday I didn’t leave the house! Well, except for putting washing on the line and wandering about the garden admiring all the weeds that have sprung up with the recent rain. This was completely intentional and pure heaven for a tired introvert like me. I’m completely exhausted after the busiest term of the year and so I had planned a total hibernation day. This was absolutely crucial for me as my body was crying out for rest. I watched about 8 episodes of Gilmore Girls and just pottered about the house. After a week relaxing on my gut healing diet and feeling the consequences, I made chicken broth and ate lots of gut healing foods. Then I watched the new Star Wars with my hubby and went to bed early.
Today, we went out for breakfast and then I cleaned out my wardrobe. I’ve also been to the gym, had a phone date with my bestie who’s moving overseas tonight (tonight!) and caught up on some reading, as well as spending at least 10 minutes in my inbox cleaning out emails as I promised to do yesterday.
None of these are hugely revolutionary tasks but they reflect clearly my priorities: caring for my energy levels, caring for my physical body, caring for my mind, caring for my relationships, caring for my space/environment. If I don’t put these things on top of my priority list each week, and especially on holidays and weekends when I have some extra time, then it’s too easy to let other people’s agendas fill up my time.
I’d love to know, what is your agenda for these school holidays?

Email overwhelm got you down?

Who’s on your health and wellbeing team?

Over the last decade of my bumpy health journey, there have been two things that were crucial factors for me in getting well: educating myself and asking for help from professionals.

When I first got sick, I was a 19 year old who turned up to GPs offices asking for a prescription for a magic pill. I was at uni, I didn’t have a lot of money, I didn’t take much responsibility for my health and it would have just never occurred to me to go to somebody other than a GP.

These days, the situation is quite different. I have read and listened and learnt so much about my conditions that there are times I turn up to my doctor’s office with journal articles that have only just been released and he hasn’t read yet! But also, because of my understanding of my conditions, I am much more empowered to be responsible for my own wellbeing, I take steps every day to stay well and this makes my GP visits much more productive too because I no longer expect a magic pill.

Other than self-directed learning, though, I’ve also discovered that a lot of people want to give unsolicited advice. They probably mean well but if they’ve never actually experienced the thing they’re giving advice on, or if they’re not a trained and qualified professional in the subject, I don’t take their advice. Just like when I research health stuff online I am very discerning about my sources of information (just because wikipedia says your symptom equals cancer doesn’t mean you have cancer!), I have learnt to qualify my sources in the offline world too.

In fact, having offline specialists on my ‘health and wellbeing team’ has been so valuable to me that I’ve decided to embark upon that as a career myself. So today I thought I’d give a little shout out to just a few of the people who have been instrumental in my health and wellbeing today. As you will see, they’re not all real life people that I have met personally. Some of them I follow online, some mentor me through their books without ever know who I am. See they are:

  • First and foremost I have to give a big shout out to my husband and personal exercise physiologist, Stuart Keene of Toowoomba Exercise Physiology. I didn’t know what exercise physiology really was when we met, and being a super bookworm/band geek teenager I didn’t exercise or do sport enough to get injured or really need physio (except one time I sprained my ankle in a game of charades). These days though, he helps me most week with some little ache or pain and gives me exercises to do to stretch out muscles and tendons and basically just keep my body working properly. He also calls me out when I don’t do them and then complain about having a sore knee again. Can’t get away with much 🙂 and apart from the free exercise physiology, he’s also my biggest cheerleader and safe haven in the storm. Bonus!
  • Second would be some of my favourite self-development authors like Gretchen Rubin, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown and Danielle La Porte. In whatever way I consume their information, they have changed my life and the way I think about my life and I’m so grateful.
  • Third would be the various life and mindset coaches I have had over the last 3 years. There are too many to name here and much of it was part of my coach training, but I can’t emphasise enough how valuable it is to have a good coach.
  • Equally, I have had a couple of great therapists in my time as well. Back in 2008 when I was very depressed, the first psychologist I went to was not for me. She actually made me feel worse. Thankfully, the second fellow I went to see was amazing and I credit him with helping me make some very important life decisions at that time, and for introducing me to the concept of self-care. When I moved to a new town I found a new therapist who was also excellent.
  • Probably one of the most impactful books on my has been ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey. The first three habits in particular also helped shape my view of self-care.
  • The other hugely impactful book was ‘Your Money or Your Life’ by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. This is the second time I’ve mentioned it in this blog post series and I think it might be time for a re-read and a review.
  • Some other in-person guides, mentors and coaches I’ve worked with particularly in the realm of specific health and wellbeing issues are Deb from ZamaYoga in Toowoomba, Viki Thondley-Moore of MindBodyFood and Elspeth Haswell-Smith of Food for Life.

So that’s it, that’s my team. Without them, I would not be as well as I am right now, I know that for sure. Who’s on your team?

P.S. This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 6

Superhero syndrome

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Living my WHY