Reflection & Planning

With all the end of year activities aside, it’s natural for us to reflect on the year that’s passed and start planning for the year to come. This can be a time of frustration and disappointment, thinking of all that we did not do that we’d hoped to! But if you really stop to think about all that you did achieve and allow yourself to truly celebrate those achievements you’ll probably notice that each year you not only achieve greater things than in the previous, but that you also set yourself higher expectations for the next.

This year has been a big turning point for me, I really set out to dig deep and realign my values with my purpose, rediscover the ‘me’ that got lost in the bigger picture of ‘us’. After putting so much energy into aiding others in realising their dreams I almost lost sight of what my own dreams were, and the fact that they actually serve a greater purpose beyond myself. In the end I realised that there is merit in pursuing my own personal dreams rather than setting them aside, so I stopped to reflect and made some pretty big decisions to refocus on what I personally wished to achieve. Which lead me to go back to university, take on post graduate studies in Collective Entrepreneurship and this has meant I’ve spent the last three months pushing my personal boundaries, maintaining  my current business but shifting from travelling to trade and instead selling my wares more through my online store, word of mouth and wholesale. This was rather daunting, as it was the first peak season in years that I did not do a single market. The irony of this is these last 3 months I’ve had the lowest level of stock in my online store on top of not doing any markets and yet I’ve actually sold more this season that any previous!

The process of digging deep inside of my self to  reclaim my self confidence and personal identity  was reassuring, but also confronting at times. I felt like I was stretching my family’s resilience, as well as my own, we reached Christmas absolutely exhausted and in great need of rest and rejuvenation. Last year we hosted Christmas at our place which spanned over several days, feeding up to 14 people three meals a day, over several days. This year we kept things super simple and quiet, it was just the four of us and it was wonderful. We all really needed the down time; time to reflect and time to just be. For the past week hubby & I have spent almost every day tending to our garden, reading, journalling, lying on the grass under a big old gumtree, napping when we’ve felt the need, catching up on lots of talking… and shared many moments of comfortable silence! We’ve let our boys sleep in each day, spend hours just playing, but have also encouraged them to read in the middle of the day and assist with caring for all our animals. It’s been like taking a much needed holiday without even leaving home.  We needed to let go of traditions and expectations in order to be kind to ourselves, refill our wells and prepare us for service in the year ahead. Our careers are both careers of service to others, honouring our environment and fostering community. 2016 for us has been a year of recognising the need for change in certain areas of our life and then commencing the transformation immediately… 2017 will be about the realisation of more of our bigger picture dreams building on the foundations we lay down in the previous year.

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Reaching Christmas exhausted, did also mean we had not truly recognised and celebrated some of our achievements for the year. For me personally it was things like focusing on my studies so much that while the High Distinction’s I received were exciting and reflected the realignment of my values and purpose I felt like I was letting my family down in the short term, forgoing income by not trading at markets in order to maintain the hours required for my studies, and it wasn’t until I entered my sales for the season that I realised I had in fact sold more than any other peak season this period as well as completed my first trimester of study to a high standard. On top of taxiing children to and from school, music lessons, school performances, taking trips to Sydney to deliver stock to retail stores, attend a conference, a PR event & catch up with friends… oh all while contributing to the maintenance of our home and little farmlet and all that entails. It is so easy to overlook what we’ve achieved in life and feel like we ‘should’ or ‘could’ be doing more!

After listening to Marie Forleo’s interview with Brendon Burchard on the topic of his book ‘The Charge’ I took on board the idea of setting an alarm at 3 hourly intervals throughout the day to check in with myself on what I was thinking about & what I should be thinking in order to reach my goals. I discovered after a couple of weeks that I was running on auto pilot, doing all that I could to reach my goals, so instead of needing to be reminded to work on the priority tasks I needed to remind myself to take a break, let my mind rest and recognise my achievements along the way. There is so much that I have achieved this year,  and not all of it was planned for… some of these achievements came about as a reaction to challenges that were not planned for. The challenge of isolation had become so acute this year that events unfolded that opened doors and wounds that I would not have chosen to experience but in hindsight they have been some the greatest lessons I have learned to date… making me truly stop and assess my life, my purpose & my future direction. So now I am taking steps to not only overcome this, but assist others in overcoming their own challenge of isolation, recognise their own talents and foster their dreams… the inception of the Creators Nest is high up on my priority list for 2017. To find out more about this venture visit this page here.

What about you and your dreams for 2017 though?

Why not make a list of what would you like to introduce into your life in 2017? And simple steps you could take in order to achieve this.

While you are at it, why not list what you achieved in 2016… things that you had not planned for, but in response to your own challenges you opened doors that you had never considered opening before?

Also, list some of your unexpected challenges. Write down what you learned from these experiences? What they brought to light that you may not have given focus to had these events not occurred?

Enjoy the final days of 2016 with your loved ones and remember to take the time to reflect & plan for the year ahead… but don’t forget to be kind to yourself, recognise your accomplishments, celebrate them, especially those that took place because of challenges you faced that never thought would happen, but they did and you survived and possibly even thrived because of this experience.

I look forward to you joining our Creators Nest community, sharing the journey of  inspiration and encouragement that could transform your dreams into reality… living a life you love is not out of your reach… even if you too have a family in tow.

<<=  by marie-nicole =>>

xx 

 

 

 

 

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Regaining self confidence…

Something shattered my confidence recently, the details of which I will withhold… but I would like to share with you the process I’ve been going through in trying to regain it.

Leading up to this experience I was already struggling, struggling with self worth, purpose and feelings of failure. In an attempt to rebuild my feelings of self worth and an attempt to find guidance in overcoming my failures I attended a retreat which I wrote about here it did wonders for giving me just enough strength to deal with what life was going to throw at me next, I had no idea my greatest challenge to date was yet to come! The retreat gave me the strength I needed to handle receiving this news, but I also needed tools to deal with the reality of the process of recovering from it, and learning from it.

So I have sought to understand what I could change within myself to rebuild a sense of self worth. Two books so far have been extremely comforting and helpful both of which were written by Brené Brown The Gifts of Imperfection & Rising Strong. I highly recommend reading them if you are feeling at all like you too are loosing (or have lost) your sense of self worth. Her research on vulnerability, shame and wholehearted living has enabled her to understand common threads and give guidance to living a wholehearted life.

Despite this battle with true self confidence I’m still pursuing my dreams and working towards living a life I love and have a great desire to assist others in doing so too. I was encouraged by a professional who has been helping me, to write my story, as a way of sharing the challenges I’ve faced throughout my life’s journey while sharing some of the accomplishments I’ve made too. There is a lot of power in writing your story, just the other day I was reading in Rising Strong how important it is to acknowledge and own your story reading about this was even more powerful as I had just completed the task of writing mine. I encourage you to do the same even if it is just for yourself. Reflecting on and writing about my life’s journey made me realise just how much I have taken on board, dealt with and not dealt with, not absolutely every detail of my life is in this piece but a lot is… life’s so complex, we take on so much, not only our own struggles but the struggles of those around us. The importance of digging deep and regaining my internal self confidence is front and centre right now, not only for my sake but the sake of my children, my husband and all who are connected to me in some form or another.

The other day I shared an idea with my husband, it was the expansion of an idea I’ve been toiling with for many years, my ultimate life goal, one which I can’t yet see being realised in the immediate future but one that has been important to me for many years, but I’ve set it aside because the timing’s not been right, the stars haven’t yet aligned. When I shared with him my latest idea for this concept I said it in hushed tones with a slight quiver in my voice, it was a day that I was feeling totally and utterly deflated but was still holding onto the hope of changing things and realising this ever so important dream of mine. I slowly and quietly shared my idea, in a way that said I want to believe this is worth pursuing but being consumed with self doubt right now makes be almost embarrassed to speak these words… after I finished he responded with; “That’s what I love about you, even in your darkest hour you come up with such inspiring ideas!”

I sat there staring into nothingness as I thought about this for a little while. He was right. I don’t believe I revel in darkness in order to find inspiration, so what it that makes me come up with my best ideas when I am feeling so low. I retreated to the library, picked up my journal and wrote these words:

Embrace the darkness… open your eyes, let them adjust to your metaphorical surroundings, take in what you see & allow yourself to recognise what’s brought you into the darkness, then let that guide you back out into the light.

When I’m in my darkest hours, I tend to ask myself lots of questions and spend time trying to find the source, this recent event however was different, it felt like it was inflicted upon me by the other person, some very dear to my heart which made it hurt even more. I’ve asked lots of questions of them to try understand what led to the decisions made that ultimately hurt me like nothing else ever has. In the process of confronting the uncomfortable reality of what led to this outcome I’ve continued to question myself, what have I done to enable this? In doing so I’ve unlocked many closed compartments in my heart and mind that I really should not have tucked away. In trying to be everything for everyone it’s easy to lock away who you are and the value you bring to the whole. Ironically doing so seems to make you appear less valuable to everyone else too. We need to believe in ourselves first, so that others too can believe in us.

If the light radiates from within us, it will only serve to warm the hearts of others, but if we neglect this light then our presence will most likely cast dark shadows over their happiness and that is not how I wish to live… nor do I think that’s how you wish to live either. So lets work together on regaining or building on our self confidence so that we can spread the light of love wherever we go.

<<= marie-nicole =>>  

xx

Ps. If you know of someone else who may be struggling with their self confidence please share this post so we assist them too!

PPS. A few other practices that I’ve been finding very helpful are:

> In the current issue of the Collective Hub, I came across a fantastic idea of using affirmations for passwords.  I changed mine immediately… the number of times a day I enter the password into my computer alone should aid in changing the dialogue I play over and over again inside my head.

> Mindful breathing, the simple act of taking time to bring clarity back to my thoughts through slow deep considered breaths has been quite powerful.

> TED Talks there’s power in hearing other people’s stories, findings & ideas… especially when struggling with something like self confidence or simply the need for inspiration or encouragement.

> Social Media – Filtering what I absorb and what I let drift past. Scrolling through social media can serve to brighten your day or pull you down deeper into the darkness, being aware of the types of posts that do the latter, these are the ones that I’ve chosen to see but not absorb. I give more time to those that inspire and encourage me, stopping to take them in & draw as much strength from them as needed.

> Seeing the world through my camera lens, while creating with my hands brings me a great deal of joy, my mind still tends to tick over and the destructive self chatter can easily continue while I work with my hands. But taking a walk or a drive and loosing myself in the act of capturing images takes me out of my head and helps me focus on the details of the beauty that surrounds me.

PPPS. Your turn… if you have any ideas you’d like to share of how you’ve rebuilt or fostered your self confidence, please leave a comment below. xx

Life’s Purpose…

I often find myself contemplating the meaning of life… over my lifetime I’ve drawn inspiration from quotes and concepts like that of the The 14th Dalai Lama’s ‘The true meaning of life’

We are visitors on this planet

We are here for ninety

or a hundred years

at the very most.

During that period,

we must try to do something

good, something useful,

with our lives.

if you contribute to other

people’s happiness, you will

find the goal,

the true meaning of life.

But there are still times when I feel my efforts are lacking and purpose is unclear…

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Recently while pondering the meaning of life I’ve found solace in the act of capturing, it is as though my inner yearning to feel as alive as I did back when I was a full-time photographer is becoming subconsciously unbearable. So I’ve been keeping my camera close at hand and have even travelled with the intention of capturing that which inspires me and will hopefully inspire others. I seek to capture a way of being, a way of living, that which represents a life of purpose. Working in solitude I have had to make a conscious effort to break up my week and spend Wednesday outside of the studio, off our little property on the hill, on the edge of our rural village, and engage with others in person. With a full production schedule it’s not always easy to allow myself that time, but I know it is necessary so I make it happen.

 

 

The other day I planned to tie these two must do’s into the one day, starting with a yoga class, followed by a walk around town, chatting with friends, shop owners & anyone who crossed my path… then I ventured off to seek out inspiration to capture through my lens. I drove through streets of Yass that I’ve not driven down before just to see where they would lead and found myself here!

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What better place is there to appreciate life than a cemetery?

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It suddenly struck me that I had not, in the 6 years of living in this region, been to this cemetery. Although I have attended funerals or memorial services for friends and acquaintances from this region, I had not physically been to the cemetery, nor did I even know where it was. I literally stumbled across it. I wasn’t looking at street signs while I was driving, just taking in the beautiful homes that adorn our streets and the spectacular vistas of those homes. This cemetery is probably the least manicured I’ve ever been to, but  it was certainly the most beautiful that I have ever visited… the view is breath taking!

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As I walked around the segmented grounds, sectioned into faiths and religions, I found myself captivated by the differences in graves and head stones, some obviously from very wealthy bloodlines, and others so very obviously not, and then another realisation hit me… it matters not in the end what your position in society or you financial status, everybody ends up lying side by side, in the same place, with the same magnificent view.

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So this begs the question, does money and status mean a better life lived OR a lack of money mean a life spent serving others rather than serving self? I feel the best option is try to live a life of purpose rather than power and if you can combine the two even better! So although we’ll end up in the same place as our final resting place, with a head stone that is either weathered and illegible or etched in stone for all to see and read for years to come, it matters not. What matters more is how we spent the journey toward reaching that final destination and the impact we had on those we left behind or interacted with along the way.

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<<= by marie-nicole =>>

xx

 

Ps. Here are a few extra pics from that day…

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Gateway to the afterlife… not as flash as some would hope 😉

 

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The all knowing tree that creaked eerily as I stood beneath it… whispering untold tales of those who have entered these grounds.

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Meandering paths of simplicity, nothing flash about these grounds… manicured grounds are not necessary when you’re surrounded by such natural magnificence.

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The ‘opt out’ passage…

 

What change do you wish to see in the world?

Over the weekend we visited a market that I often trade at, but this time as shoppers. It was so lovely to be able to just walk around at leisure, talk to stall holders without the concern of having to get back to my stall and simply observe the activities of the market throughout the entire market rather than just the view from my stall.

We were so pleased and surprised to see a fellow stall holder there who also travels to trade, our surprise was due to the fact that he and his wife usually only trade at this particular market in the summer. So of course we opened with; “What a surprise to see you here, it’s autumn! A nice surprise of course… how are you?” He looked up at us with sadness in is his eyes and said; “Our son died earlier this year, he was walking down the street pushing the pram with his 8 week old and toddler inside and he was struck by lightning! They managed to revived the children but could not revive him. So my wife is currently staying with our daughter in law helping out with the kids. She told me to get out and sell my wares today… so I did!” This man lives 3 hours drive away from this market and they usually travel there and back in a day. The courage it took for him to pack the car, make the trip, set up and then face shoppers, some of whom would probably be in the age group of the son he recently had to say goodbye to forever… as his products are children focused… it represents just how strong humans are capable of being. This is only a small part of the bigger story of the challenges this couple have faced throughout their life.

I could tell you numerous stories of heart ache, courage, strength all just through the people I have met trading at markets. This is something that I absolutely love about markets; the strength of the people there, their hope to create a happier better world despite all odds.

One of my favourite sayings is by Mahatma Ghandi “Be the change you wish to see in the world” The philosophy behind my business is “take the old & discarded and transform them into statement pieces!” The concept of this came about through both necessity and an appreciation for craftsmanship and quality. Our way of living is also based on a similar belief system, growing & making our own food as much as possible, raising our children knowing where their food comes from, spending time with their parents, getting to know who we are rather than just seeing us briefly throughout their formative years.

In reading the news this week it has been difficult to feel positive about the state of our world, but as the Dalai Lama’s post on Facebook read last night; “You are the seeds of a better future.” Our time on earth should not be spent shaking our heads and throwing our arms up in defeat, but doing what we can to provide a better existence for others and the hope that one is actually possible. The other day we spent the entire day cooking up a storm, preserving our harvest and I photographed and posted our progress on Instragram and Facebook along the way. At one point Master 12 asked me why I do this, to which I responded; “To give people something positive to view on social media. There is so much hurt, anger, negativity… I feel like people need to feel hopeful that life can be different.”

Not long after this conversation, a message came though from another fellow stall holder and friend, from a different market. Sharing their recent heartbreaking experiences and again a demonstration of sheer strength. The message ended with; “…Iove seeing the pictures of your new place and the produce etc. You guys look really happy.”  And we are… even on the days when we feel hopeless, that life’s against us having to deal with some of our own challenges, deep down inside we always feel safe and loved… which is more than we could ever hope for really.

Our life is not perfect, we spent many hours putting out spot fires (the morning of our big cook up) between our boys, but we managed to guide them towards doing something positive for themselves and the rest of the family and rest of the day was beautiful because of it.

What I hope for all of you… and anyone out there who is suffering from pain that is caused by someone else, pain beyond their control, is inner peace. My wish for a change in the world is that more people simply care about the people around them, despite a difference of opinion, religion, life choices… the more people demonstrate kindness and respect the further it will hopefully spread!

Cheers, to being the seeds for a better world… the change we wish to see in the world.

Wishing all peace, love and happiness… and hope for a better future!

<<= by marie-nicole =>> 

xx

Peace Sign