2017 Year in Review – Part 2 of 2 – So how did you go?

This is Part 2 of my two part 2017 Year in Review.  If you haven’t read Part 1 you can find it here.

In Part 1 we covered my intention to live a values led life and I talked about how I had structured my 2017 goals around my core values.  I assessed how I went against the first 4 of my 9 goal areas: Spiritual and Emotional; Health and Fitness; Connection; and Self-Development and Growth. 

In this instalment I have a look at how I went against the final 5 of my 9 goal areas. 

5. Character

As I mentioned above, each year I review my values and 2017 was no different and this year I also structured my goals around my core values. 

I read as many books as I could.  Actually that’s an outright lie.  I spent more time on Social Media (especially Facebook) than I should have, when I could have used that time to read more books, a pastime I really enjoy.

 

Finally finished!

Over five long and painful sessions I had my full sleeve tattoo finished – and I have no regrets.  The fears that held me back from getting a sleeve tattoo all these years were faced down and I feel liberated and at peace with my decision.  For so many years I have wanted to do this and have let the fear of what others might think stop me in my tracks, keeping any tattoos I did get in places more easily covered up. 

 

On the Summit of Mt Tibrogargan – exhilarated, exhausted, elated! Outside my comfort zone.

Part of my character that I want to nurture is to allow myself, to push myself, to go outside my comfort zone on a regular basis.  I did this in 2017 through undertaking a 6 week pole dancing course, spending 5 days in the backcountry of the Snowy Mountains on a mountaineering course and also (rock) climbed Mt Tibrogargan in the Glass House Mountains in Queensland.  I tried at least once a week to do less drastic things to stretch the edges of the comfort zone but I feel these three things in particular were such a big stretch outside my comfort zone they require mentioning. 

2017 saw me wishing to live more intentionally and in that light, I committed to living the Four Agreements (Miguel Ruiz).  It was harder than I thought.  The four agreements are: Be impeccable with your word; Don’t make assumptions; Don’t take anything personally; and Always do you best.  If you haven’t read this book I would highly recommend it.  I’ll keep committing to living these four agreements into 2018 and beyond and know with practice and conscious effort, I’ll get better at it.

6. Wealth

An important one in order to allow me to do all the great things I want to do! 

Together my husband and I renovated an investment property and will have that on the market for rental soon.  There I go – another flat out lie.  Ok I had little to do with it except to ask how it was going, and my husband actually renovated the place, not me.  I’m not really into it. 

We also committed to throw some more money on our home mortgage and we were successful in this.  The big aim now is to get it down even further and I must say I am revitalised after reading the Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape.  An easy read (I got through the entire book in two sittings) and with some great advice – some will suit us and some not, but I’m willing to try new things. 

7. Career and Mission

I clocked up five years in my current executive public sector role and signed up for another five.  I’m not really sure what my career looks like into the future but right now, I’m feeling like I’m making a difference and stretching out from my traditional role.  2018 will see more planning in this regard. 

I had the pleasure of mentoring a very skilled, intelligent and driven professional woman, albeit our relationship was brief as she took the opportunity to take the leap over the ditch to take up a seat at the executive table (a jump up in position) in New Zealand.  These are the women I love to be around – they see they are better than this, they see that they can do more, be more – and rather than sit around and lament that they can’t be all that where they are, they get up and go somewhere they can be all that.  I loved the process of mentoring her and particularly taking her through the Strength Profile tool and helping her see where her unrealised strengths were and what she could do about it. 

After a number of years of procrastination, I launched Life Support as a website and Facebook page, prompted by the 30 Day Blogging Challenge that I came across on Facebook.  I am over half way through the free 30 day course and it’s been really useful and enlightening.  The development of my website www.lifesupportaustralia.com has given me an avenue to share my stories and my learnings from life, and holds my blogs and some other general information.  I have many plans for Life Support and will be launching a product through it in the coming year.  I’ll keep you posted. 

Peace maker – Dream chaser

2017 saw me undertake training in Mediation.  That’s Mediation not Meditation.  In 2018 I will undertake my final accreditation before adding Accredited Mediator to my portfolio.  A friend recently told me she understood mediators to be peace makers – I like that analogy. 

8. Recreation and Travel

Oh I so love travel – adventures are the best way to learn.  It’s about that exhilarating feeling of teetering on the edge of the unknown.  I can never get enough of it.  So in 2017, I completed my fifth trek across the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea.  I never get tired of this one and I love leading and guiding my trekkers to achieve what is, for most of them, the single most physically, mentally and emotionally challenging adventure they have ever undertaken.  I get so much from this gig that I don’t know if I could ever give it up.  My knees might tell me a different story in the coming years but until then…bring on the next one! 

 

Selfie time with friends in the village of Naduri in Papua New Guinea

I trekked the Green Gully Track in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park – a five day trip carrying all you need on your back, with some amazingly beautiful landscapes.  A challenging experience, providing confidence and growth every step of the way. 

As mentioned above, a five day mountaineering course in the backcountry of the Snowy Mountains gave me some skills and experiences that I will never forget.  You can read about it here – needless to say, sometimes you get more than you expect! 

On the lighter side, I wanted to see more live music in 2017 and I have loved actioning this goal!  It’s taken me to new places, with friends and family, and I’ve gotten to see and sing along to James Taylor, Bernard Fanning, Kasey Chambers, The Waifs, Doug Anthony Allstars, Midnight Oil, The Village People, Marcia Hines, Sister Sledge and KC and the Sunshine Band!

9. Home and Lifestyle

I love our home – it’s an old house near the beach.  It has a wonderful energy and it’s my sanctuary.  I love where I live. 

This year we started developing a renovation plan for our home and I’m really looking forward to making some improvements that are around lifestyle choices.  Hand in hand with this is my commitment to simplification.  I have over the past few years realised that I have too much ‘stuff’ and instead of me owning my stuff, it’s owning me.  No sooner have I given all the rooms a spring clean and donated box loads to the Op Shops then I start again!  Yeah I know, the key is to stop replacing that ‘stuff’ once I’ve tossed it.  Still learning this. 

Bring on 2018!

So there it is – my year in review 2017. Too often I move from one achievement to the next project and don’t take any time to celebrate what I’ve achieved.  This review is a way for me to take a breath, recognise where I nailed it, and where I didn’t (and why) and refocus for 2018. 

 

Take the time to celebrate!

One key question that has come out of taking the time to review my 2017, is this:

Why is that I don’t have any trouble keeping promises and commitments to others, but I don’t keep the promises and commitments I make to myself? 

Something to ponder for 2018.             

Whatever your 2017 held for you, I urge you to take the time to review it.

If you haven’t already done an exercise around identifying your Values then I would recommend you do so.  It drives everything for me these days – including my goals and resolutions for each year.  After all, it’s hard to be yourself if you don’t know yourself.  I can take people through this process (it’s one of my favourite things to do) however if you do an internet search on ‘free values determination tools’ you’ll find a few there. 

Thanks for the memories 2017!  Another year I am blessed with challenges and with good health and loving friends and family.  I hope you were too.

Let’s rock 2018!   

“Let your life be your message” – Mahatma Gandhi

2017 Year in Review – Part 1 of 2 – How did I go this year? How did you go this year?

Welcome to Part 1 of my Year in Review for 2017.  I hope that by sharing my highs and my lows from the year that’s coming to a close, I might motivate you to do your own 2017 Year in Review.  While I am all for looking forward, from time to time it’s helpful to look back over our shoulder and see what’s behind us, what 2017 held for us, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Where can we improve, what did we learn and what did we nail?

Each year I choose a word that I try to live by.  My word for 2017 was EXPLORE.

Explore myself, my likes, my fears, my dislikes, my loves, my relationships, places, people, things and to look at everything through the eyes of an explorer.  Curiously and in wonder.

Was I successful in this?  Hmmm somewhat I would say.

Curiosity instead of judgement – whilst I haven’t got this down entirely, I am better than I was in 2016.  I hope to continue to improve.  I’ve found it a lot more energising when I can maintain curiosity instead of falling into the abyss of judgement – it’s more fun to be curious and less draining and negative than being Miss Judgy!

On the family front, our little tribe celebrated our newest members 1st Birthday and we were also blessed and excited to learn our tribe will grow by one more early in 2018!  Family is really important to me and we have spent some great quality time together.

Aligning with my Values

I’ve done the work to understand and record my values – those things that are really important to me.  Those things that, when I’m struggling to decide on something, I can lean on to help me – to see if I am in alignment with my values.  Each new year I reassess my values – because they’re not entirely static and some things might change.  It’s a good check in for me as well, to remind me of what’s really important and what matter most to me.

So did I live a values led life in 2017?

I did alright – always room to improve.  How do I know?  Well I structured my goals and resolutions in 2017 around my core values which enables me to keep them front of mind. My life goals are defined into nine areas aligning with my core values, and Part 1 of this post covers the first four.  Here’s how I went in each of them:

 

  1. Spiritual and Emotional

I attended two retreats this year.  I went on my annual five day silent Insight Meditation retreat – this is a must for me each year and is like a complete unplugging and recharging at the same time. I also had the pleasure of attending a 3 day retreat around yoga, energy and breathing.

I have mediated for 20 minutes each morning about 95% of the days of 2017.  This practice, along with a newly incorporated 7 minute breathing and movement practice, is so important to me.  To make sure it doesn’t slip, I get up 45 minutes earlier than whatever time it is that I need to get up, to make time for it.  I also do a number of rounds of Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) most days.

I call these activities my Morning Ritual and it is one promise I make to myself that I rarely break.

On this front I have also continued my reading this year – you can see what I’ve read in the Self-Development and Growth section.

I’ve incorporated more yoga into my life in 2017 and can really feel my improvements in flexibility and acceptance.  More of this in 2018!

 

  1. Health and Fitness

One of my goals was to give up sugar for one month – and I did, however it only lasted the month despite my lack-lustre attempts to remove the toxic stuff from my life altogether.  I have certainly reduced my intake of sugar and plan to reduce it even more in 2018.  Is there sugar in Tim-Tams?

I continued my gym membership in 2017, although there were months there where my membership fee was more of a donation.  However I have had great months where I’ve hit 4-5 classes every week.  Consistency wasn’t on the highlight reel for my fitness goals this year and I want to do this better.

I had a weight goal too – I failed on this front and didn’t even get close to that goal.  It might have been slightly unrealistic from the start, but my choices through the year in relation to nutrition and exercise were never going to get me there!   I took so many ‘before’ photos and then failed to carry through with my plans, that I now have a 2017 album of photos of myself looking getting fatter!  Let’s see what 2018 holds – I need to ask myself what I’m prepared to do – and then do it.  Not talk about it, journal it, plan it.  Just bloody do it.

My wellbeing goals were around transitioning the products in our home (household and personal products) to more natural and non-toxic alternatives.  I had no intention of throwing everything out and starting again, but instead, replacing things as they ran out, with more ethical, non-toxic and chemical free alternatives.  I’ve done that and would say I’m 50% of the way there.

I kept up my commitment to myself around regular massages and chiropractic sessions.  I really believe in being proactive in this regard and I know these two therapies, regularly undertaken, help my body to do all I ask of it.

Water!  I committed to drink 3 litres a day at the commencement of 2017 and for the most part, I’m now in this habit.  I certainly feel it the next day if I’ve skimped on my water intake.  One of the simplest and most effective things we can do for our health and wellbeing.  Drink up!

 

  1. Connection

My goals around connection were to build and nurture my tribe/community. My family (direct and extended) is my number one tribe and we’ve had some wonderful, quality time this year.  It takes some effort to make sure we spend this time together and it is well worth it.

My next most important tribe is made up of my friends.  I’ve made a conscious effort this year to have more friends to our house, to entertain more, to go out more, to arrange catch-ups more regularly, to call more often and to make special visits.  I’ll continue that.

I’ve sought out new learnings around connection and relationships and I was drawn to re-read Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages.  I re-took the quiz to see what my love languages were and asked my husband to do the same.  If you haven’t heard of this book, or taken the quiz, have a look here and get on to it.  It will change the way you see you relationships.  I promise.

I’ve been smiling more at strangers, helping people with their grocery bags when I see them struggle, and generally being kind and caring.

 

  1. Self-Development and Growth

My highest value is Growth (as an aside, it’s also my highest realised strength in the Strength Profile tool of which I am an accredited practitioner).  This year I devoted time to my personal and professional growth and you can see that in the section below:

  • Growth and Development Plan – I developed my own growth and development plan and listed those courses I wanted to do, and things I wanted to learn in the next few years so I can undertake some planning in this regard.
  • Concerted effort to learn Spanish – I devoted my morning drive to the office (45minutes) for four of the five work days a week to learning Spanish via audio lessons. I have kept this up all year and I am definitely improving.  I also completed an 8 week Intermediate Spanish language course at the local TAFE.
  • Finished Diploma of Counselling – I finalised and graduated with a Diploma in Counselling. The human condition intrigues me and I love studying it, and how to help people be their best selves.
  • Mindfulness Training – I am now accredited to undertake Mindfulness training courses and look forward to implementing my first one in 2018.
  • I undertook Level 1 accreditation in EFT – Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and I love utilising this technique on myself
  • Website development – I learnt (the hard way) how to develop my own website (lifesupportaustralia.com) and I also learnt how to ask for help to make it better!

I have also continued my reading this year and have devoured more books (not as many as I would have liked).

Living Beautifully with uncertainty and change – Pema Chodron

 –  Medical Medium – Anthony William

 – The Dream of a Common Language – Adrienne Rich

 – Light is the New Black – Rebecca Campbell

 – The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman

 – Women Who Run with the Wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

 – Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts

 – The Barefoot Investor – Scott Pape

 – Fat for Fuel – Dr Joseph Mercola

So there it is – Part 1 of my Year in Review 2017.

Part 2 next week will cover my goal areas of: Character; Wealth; Career and Mission; Recreation and Travel; and Home and Lifestyle.  Until then, why not do your own Year in Review 2017?  How did you go?  What did you learn?  What did you nail?

“Let your life be your message” – Mahatma Gandhi

6 Things I Learnt from Fighting in a Boxing Tent … and Losing

Have you heard of touring boxing tents?

They started in the late 19th Century when boxing troupes of professional fighters would travel the mining towns and outback of Australia, following fairs and carnivals, putting up big top tents and taking on all-comers for cash in the ring.

Fred Brophy still travels with his touring boxing tent and his troupe across Queensland.  He’s the last one.  The last touring boxing tent in the world.

‘My name is Fred Brophy and I’m the fairest referee in the Australian Outback!’

That’s how Fred starts every show in his boxing tent.

‘Ladies and gentlemen. I will show you something you have never seen before, and something you will never see again . . .’

Fred Brophy insists he will continue travelling with his tent and boxing troupe, until he dies, even though the sport was banned in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia in 1971 by the government, due to health concerns.

You might have also heard of the Birdsville Races.  Far, far western Queensland and remote.  The nearest city is 7 hours away.  The population is around 100 people.  There’s one pub, a bakery, a service station, post office and not much else.  Oh and there’s a horse racing track.  During the first weekend of September every year this small outback town swells with around 6,000 people convening for a weekend of horse racing, beer drinking, camping, live entertainment (and that’s just the punters) and a general good time.

 

We are here – Birdsville – Outback Queensland

So Fred Brophy’s Boxing Tent is almost always at the Birdsville Races and it’s a highlight.  Two shows each day where thousands of race goers gather outside the tent to hear and see the professional fighters introduced and to see the brave punters stepping up from the crowd agreeing to fight these professional, touring boxers, hoping to win a few dollars.  It’s a show like no other, and that’s just on the outside of the tent.  Once the professional boxers are matched up with the punters from the crowd, around 1500 lucky ones get to go inside the tent and enjoy the entertainment for a few hours.

I’d been to the Birdsville Races and Brophy’s Tent two times before but this particular year, my third time, things were different.  I was drawn, from the time I got there, to move from being a spectator, to getting in to the arena.  I was tired of being on the sidelines and wanted in on the action, so to speak.  To taste a little of this long standing tradition – to be a part of touring boxing tent history.

That’s how I found myself standing on the platform outside Brophy’s Tent one Saturday night at the annual Birdsville Races, getting lined up against one of Fred’s professional female fighters.  Her name was the ‘Beaver’ and frankly, she was built like a ……. professional fighter and frightened the hell out of me.

 

Fred shaking my hand before I head in to the tent to fight the Beaver

The crowd was going wild – the Beaver hadn’t had a fight on the Friday night as no woman would step up and fight her.  This was her first bout for the weekend.

And here I was …. approaching 50, with my extensive experience in the corporate and government world, my one time experience at one of those boxing fitness classes, and of course, my black belt in macramé.  I was clearly not well qualified to be up here.  I hadn’t even partaken in a few stiff shots of something strong to give me some dutch courage.  I looked into the Beaver’s eyes before we were moved into the tent proper to wait our turn to get into the ring.  It was one of the most frightening moments of my life.

You can probably imagine how I went.  Not so well by all accounts but I lived to tell the tale.  It was an amazing (and somewhat painful) experience – here’s what I learnt:

No. 1 – Sometimes the fear won’t go away – so you have to do it afraid.

I was shit scared.  It was one of those ‘sounded like a good idea at the time’ moments.  What was I doing?  What was I thinking?  I had to consciously bring myself back to my reasons for choosing to do this – those made when I was of sound mind.  I wanted to do this.  I was going to be afraid.  There was a fair chance I was going to remain afraid until the final bell rang and it was over.

Fred Brophy says there’s absolutely nothing like the thrills, spills, fear, sheer entertainment and displays of absolute courage of a traditional boxing tent.  It does take courage, I can attest to that.  But that doesn’t mean the absence of fear.  The fear was there until the last moments.

There are times we have to do things afraid, when the fear won’t go away, and that’s perfectly ok. Saddle up and get on with it and pack that fear with you – it can come along for the ride. 

 No. 2 – Gather your Support Team when you have to do something challenging

It’s important to gather around you a support team.

When I was moved in to the ring and took my seat in my corner, I was greeted by the tent Doctor and the trainer assigned to me.  The Doctor was there to check on me during the rounds and make sure I was of sufficient health to continue.  The trainer was the person who, when I first met him, commenced smearing my entire face with a thick layer of Vaseline, before helping me don some boxing gloves.  As it turned out, these two items – Vaseline and boxing gloves – were the extent of my protection for the fight.  No mouthguard, no headgear, just a slimy smearing of the old Vaseline and some gloves!

 

In my corner…

Both of these men however had my best interests at heart, they were both experts in this field I was entering and they knew things I didn’t (like keep your hands up – easier said than done I can attest to).  The Doctor knew from my eyes whether I could go back in for another round (checking for concussion) and each of them were there to help me achieve my goal (walking away from the fight).

It is so important to not only gather your support team around you but to understand who needs to be on the team, who will have your best interests at heart as you reach for your goals, who can help you get there, who can offer advice, who are the experts you can lean on? 

 Who’s on your support team to help you achieve your goals?   

No. 3 – Get your Supporters together – get them cheering for you

Now supporters are important too, but they’re different to your support team.  My supporters were in the crowd, some I knew, many I didn’t – and all of whom were cheering me on, yelling my name, and generally encouraging me to get back in the ring and take another hit.  They weren’t providing advice, and they weren’t necessarily experts in this field, but they were important and they helped me achieve my goal.

For some reason, maybe nerves, I simply could not stop laughing and smiling while I was in the fight.  I have no idea why as this isn’t a normal fear reaction for me so I can’t explain it.  What I do know for sure is that my constant laughing and smiling did two things.  The first is it got the crowd going and they cheered even louder – likely wondering how on earth I was continuing to smile as I was copping a pounding from the Beaver.  The second was that my reaction in the ring did nothing to enamour me to the Beaver – it is likely she saw my laughing and smiling as an affront to the fight, which resulted in her upping the game – trying I would suggest to actually wipe the smile off my face.

I can’t believe I was smiling!

That aside, the support from the crowd was amazing and certainly helped me get back out for the three rounds.

Supporters are important – who’s supporting you in your goals?  Who are your cheerleaders? 

 

No. 4 – Decide on your Commitment before you start

I was hurting by the end of the second round.  I could barely lift my arms and though my smile might not have shown it, I was starting to really feel it!  I didn’t want to walk back into the ring and go another round with the Beaver – I wanted to get the blood off my face and go to the beer garden!  When I think of that few minutes, sitting in my corner, the trainer reapplying Vaseline to my face and spraying water in my mouth (just like the Rocky Movies – kind of), and the Doctor shining a torch in my eyes, I can feel my body get heavy and I can  taste that metallic flavour of blood in my mouth.

But I did go back in, because I wanted to finish what I started and I was committed to that goal.  I didn’t want to.  I didn’t have to.

But I did and I am so proud of myself for doing so.  Backing out without being knocked out simply wasn’t an option – but that was something I had to decide before I set foot in the ring.   I had to commit before I went in – committing to myself that backing out was not an option, and when it isn’t an option, you look for something else.

That something else for me, right then, was again, my supporters, the crowd.  They were calling me back out there and given I had already and in a far more reasoned state of mind, decided backing out wasn’t an option, I went back in that ring.

I hurt all over, I was bleeding, and I couldn’t lift my arms.  The ding from the bell at the end of that round was the sweetest sound.

A good friend who adventures a lot harder than I ever will, once told me that if you truly want something, ask yourself, ‘what am I prepared to do?’ Then go and do it. 

No. 5 – Take some time to be proud of your achievements

I didn’t fare very well against the Beaver, as you might have gathered.  But in front of a raucous and mostly intoxicated crowd of over 1500, I managed to get through three rounds (I think Fred might have called the last round up short and I thank him for that), and walked away with the most amazing sense of achievement.  I walked away with pride, with respect for the Beaver, and the profession.  I walked away with new friends, with a rather large swollen lip where my teeth had gone through.  I walked away with many bruises and a black eye.  I walked away knowing I can do hard things, and that I was brave enough to do it afraid.  At the time, I was just happy to be walking away rather than being carried away like some of the other fighters that night.

 

Brophy’s Tent at the Birdsville Races – it’s not going to be there forever.

I achieved my goal – to fight in the last touring boxing tent in the world.  To fight on the same mat as so many before me.  To carry in my heart and my soul that little memento of being a part of this historic sport and outback tradition.  To be in the arena, not in the grandstand. 

No. 6 – Choose your Inspiration

On 23 April 1910, Theodore Roosevelt gave what would become one of the most widely quoted speeches of his career.  It is commonly referred to as ‘The Man in the Arena’ and it’s inspired me my entire life.  It inspired me that September night in far outback Queensland as I bumped gloves with the Beaver at the commencement of my fight.  It continues to inspire me to be the one in the arena, not the one in the grandstand.

Even if that means I know the bloody, metallic taste of defeat from time to time.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  Theodore Roosevelt

 Do you choose to be in the grandstands where you will taste neither victory nor defeat? 

 Or do you choose to be in the arena where you have a chance to taste both?

‘Let your life be your message’ Mahatma Gandhi