Running with the tulips

Ah spring… the sweet smell of flowers and change. I love the beginning of a new season, specially the warmer ones.

running with tulips

I got up at 5am today to be able to go for a run in the botanical gardens before work. It was soooo hard to get out of bed, it was 5C. I haven’t been very good at getting up that early this Winter. It’s been too cold and also sometimes I’ve woken up feeling too anxious, it’s hard to get the motivation to get up when your body is so heavy with stress.

Yesterday for instance, for no reason I woke up in a state of panic. I had a very good night of sleep so can’t really find a reason. It took a few rounds of meditation to quieten the mind and de-stress the body. But this left me without the motivation to go for a run.

Today I woke up feeling normal, so despite the cold, I packed my bag rushed to get the train. It was so worth it. Nothing beats nature. And Sydney is blessed with so much natural beauty. The scent of fresh flowers in the garden just kept me going, I ended up running 9km. A fantastic start to an ordinary work day. Feeling blessed.

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Let’s move to Wolftopia

Welcome to Wolftopia. Population: 8 – my kids plus the neighbours’ children. This is a nation created by my animal loving 10-year-old. They have a flag and a prime minister and the country is located in the sandpit in my backyard.

In Wolftopia all kids are welcome, regardless of race, gender, or social position. And from what I hear there is only one rule in Woltopia’s constitution: “if someone is sad we must solve the problem”.

Wolftopia is also an environmentally friendly country: bikes and scooters are the only means of transportation.

Really hope these kids grow up with Wolftopia in their hearts.

Wolftopia Flag

Wolftopia: Population: 8

Are you busy or busy-bragging or both?

More mindfulness in our lives

Stopping the madness: Bring on more pyjama days

Monday used to be a day that everyone complained about having done too much on the weekend and feeling guilty about it. Too much drinking, too much partying, too much everything. Now I find it fascinating that people are feeling guilty on Monday for not having done enough on the weekend. I’ve noticed that every Monday I’m hearing friends or colleagues justifying why they didn’t have a jam-packed weekend. There is so much busy-bragging out there that you feel guilty when you have an idle moment.

I’m guilty as charged – last Sunday I had a pyjama day and I must say that at night I felt guilty for having such an unproductive day. I was planning to do some writing but felt so uninspired to write anything… so instead, I worked on school projects with the kids, read the newspaper, watched a documentary and folded some laundry. At the end of the day I was fine but I must admit that my contentment was not something that came naturally. I had to do several minutes of meditation to accept my day without so much reactivity.

We’re suffering from the epidemic of busyness. We’re telling ourselves, consciously or not, that to live a full life we have to pack every moment of the day with activities – physical and intellectual. I think much of this desire for being busy is fueled by social media. We are constantly reminded that people are occupying their time with the exciting things that they post on Facebook-Twitter-Instagram – we better look busy as well or we won’t look as worthy or as important. Of course it’s not only social media that is influencing us to function beyond our capacity. Living in the digital age puts a lot of pressure on us to squeeze more into our already busy days and overstretched minds.  Life is now 24/7, there is always something happening and happening fast, information arriving into our lives via so many channels, we feel like we need to be more productive to keep up – it’s exhausting.

In my case, when I don’t make a conscious decision to stop this madness, I end up compromising on my sleep (something’s gotta give – the day only has 24 hours). I know that some people are using medication and other tricks to cheat sleep and increase their ‘productive’ time but I believe sleep serves a purpose and I’m not like the 1% of the population that can get by with minimal sleep. So in the last few weeks I’ve recommitted to my mindfulness practice and this is helping. I’m still busy and I’m still bragging but not as much as before and a very interesting thing has happened: I’ve become conscious of when I’m bragging. Before, the bragging about being busy was only a default response. Now I see it coming. This is an improvement – the journey to a calmer, more contented and less cluttered life has just began.

Committing to a Decent Night of Sleep: Feet Up Before Going Down

Mindful sleep

Preparing for a good night of sleep – putting my feet up for a couple of minutes.

I’ve always thought that I had some very effective genes that allowed me to survive on less sleep than the daily recommended dose of eight hours per day. When I had my first child 10 years ago I didn’t get much sleep but managed to cope with sleep deprivation much better than most mothers around me. That just reinforced my view that I didn’t need that much sleep. But last year I started to have trouble falling asleep and if I woke up in the middle of the night I just couldn’t go back to sleep. I experienced this problem 1-3 times per week and it sucked – I felt awful during the day. I felt both irritated and irritating.

It’s been much better this year, thanks to my anxiety medication, but I continue with the habit of sleeping 6 hours per day. I occasionally clock up 8 hours but not on a regular basis.  But this is about to change!! I’ve committed to sleeping 8 hours each night this week. I want to see if I feel any different and if this has any impact on my life.

The challenge started last night and I slept from 10pm to 6am (hooray!), however, I was woken up twice by the dog who wanted to go outside and kept scratching the door. So, it was not uninterrupted sleep but it was a start. Also, I followed the recommendations of Dr Dan Siegel from this video I came across yesterday.

I was aware of the side effects of sleep deprivation but I hadn’t realised until watching this video that while we are sleeping the supportive cells in our body clean up the toxins that our neurons produce. If you don’t get from 7-9 hours of sleep per day the toxins just remain there.  I also didn’t know that more than 95% of people need 7-9 hours of sleep per day. I thought it was much less.

So now, I’m turning off my devices earlier and putting my feet up for a few minutes and going to sleep. Sweet dreams.