6 B’s of Better Mental Health (During Lockdown)

Lisa Westgate is my people.  She is a  rockstar who genuinely cares for people after having been through some serious stuff herself.  She is an expert in her field, and I am so pleased she is in my circle.  Some great advice here for all of us, especially at this time in our history! – Bek

Lisa Westgate

Firstly, we need to acknowledge that these are unique times. Please know that it’s okay to feel angry or upset or unstable or like somebody has just put you in some sort of spinning ride at a theme park and switched it on well before you are ready. However you are feeling at this time is valid, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

We also need to appreciate that Australia has really not had a break since September last year. The bushfires meant many of us did not get a break between 2019 and 2020. Even if we had time off work allocated to ‘Holidays’, many of us did not get a chance for an emotional break. Many of us have been in a heightened emotional crisis response state for over six months. We need to recognize in that context of ongoing crisis, sometimes things start falling apart and our mental health can suffer. It is NOT a sign of weakness it’s a sign of humanity.

My intention with this piece is to give you some simple processes, tools, and ideas to put into action in the coming weeks and months. Use these as a resource that you can come back to on multiple occasions when you need reminders.

Breathe

Here is a simple breathing technique used in many industries including military and law enforcement globally. The cycle is 4-6-8-7. This breathing pattern is a variation of pranayama based yogic breathing championed by Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 and ‘Box’ or ‘Tactical’ breathing which follows a 4-4-4-4 pattern. Begin by exhaling all the air in your lungs then take a deep breath in for the count of four, hold that breath in your lungs for the count of six, exhale that breath for the count of eight and then hold no breath for the count of seven, repeat this cycle four times. The reported effects of this practice twice a day for several months is a lowering of blood pressure, heart rate, and other positive physiological changes. Although, you may notice that even doing that now has helped put you at ease. Now that you have this tool, use it regularly and everything suggested after will be easier to manage.

Balance

This word is thrown around a lot. What does it actually mean and how can you implement that in the real world?

For some, balance can be about scheduling and planning. Having structure and allocating time for all activities creates a sense of control for those that enjoy systems. For others, listening to your gut, tuning into your body is the way to go. Too much structure can create undue pressure. If you are working from home and also have family members home too, just do the best you can. This may mean changing your work hours to suit family activities or temporarily rearranging some furniture to give yourself a workspace. You may not have the room to this and run your business or do your work from the kitchen table. You can’t make time or save time, but you can decide how to use time. Most importantly, in my opinion, is to give yourself points for trying and remember all anyone can ever do it give it their best shot.

Boundaries

Boundaries can get a bad rap. Think about boundaries as an opportunity to keep things in, rather than cast them out. Understand you are only one person; you can only do so much. Healthy boundaries assist in keeping you under your ‘overwhelm threshold’. Overwhelm is a typical feeling in our current situation. A simple way to practice safe boundaries is the simple two-letter word ‘No’. Saying no to added workload, pressures from kids and perhaps expectations of your partner lets people know where your boundaries are. It also, importantly, reaffirms them for yourself. Stay true to your boundaries and avoid burnout.

Budget

Part of setting healthy boundaries is that you create an opportunity for budgeting. Not necessarily in the financial sense, but in the time and energy sense. Acknowledge you have a finite amount of energy allocated for each day, especially under these crisis management conditions. When we are running on amygdala-based drivers like fight, flight or freeze, your capacity is limited. Be sure to budget and utilise your energy in the most ‘bang for your buck’ way. This means being judicious in who and what you give your energy to, be conscious of how much energy you are allocating to a particular person or activity. Save some for your loved ones and for yourself. Use boundaries to enforce your energy budget.

Breaks

Take them. Give yourself one. If you are working from home, in particular, you have the ability to structure your day as you wish. This is a double-edged sword. Many will find it difficult to establish and maintain a routine that facilitates proper breaks, both physical and mental.

There is a concept referred to as ‘active resting’. I learnt this years ago and it profoundly changed my ‘spare’ time. The idea is to develop some deliberate insight into your own ‘happiness strategies’, the activities that add to your energetic fuel tank. For example, spending time in nature, cooking, reading a mind-expanding book, any activity in which you ‘lose time’. These activities do more than just give you a break away from work or home duties, they provide your conscious mind with a distraction, allowing your subconscious mind to process emotions and feelings in the background. Like your computer running a scan in the background while you play solitaire. Write these down and allocate time for them in your energy budget.

Active resting is completely different in outcome and intention to bingeing on Netflix, which also has a place.

Be Kind

The importance of kindness cannot be overemphasised in current times (and always). Kindness, gratitude, and contribution are at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum to fear, anxiety and individualism. To a great extent, they act as somewhat of an antidote to these base emotions. If you find yourself overwhelmed by media, either traditional or social, people in your life that are catastrophizing, and the general state of the world, take note. Breathe, create balance, say No, switch off, step outside, breathe again, be kind to yourself and consider how lucky we are to have connection via modern technology, clean air (getting cleaner) and fresh water and find a way to help someone else. Perhaps share this article with them. Be well and I look forward to seeing you on the other side.

BIO:

Since outgrowing PTSD post a decade long Ambulance career, Lisa Westgate founded Freedom Mindset Training. She shares her expertise in areas of mental health, self-care and Neuro-Linguistic Programming both Live and online.

Lisa is a regular guest presenter and has a successful working relationship with Victoria Police and other organisations particularly related to her passion for frontline mental health care.

Lisa is a contributing author in the Amazon Number 1 Bestseller, ‘Changemakers: IWD edition’. Changemakers and her e-book “3 Keys to Outgrow Trauma: an alternative perspective from lived experience” are available via her website.

Website: www.lisawestgate.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lisawestgateptsd

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lisawestgate

Instagram: www.instagram.com/lisa_westgate_

Email Lisa at lisa@lisawestgate.com

Guest Blogger 2020 resilience

5 Projects To Build Your Community

I met Kirsty after we were both showcased by YMag, and when we finally met in person we just clicked.  As a result of that, she has assisted in the build of a new project I’m working on. She is interested in DIY Marketing and  creating custom digital products and I totally recommend her services. This blog is a timely piece of advice during some very uncertain times. Becky Paroz

Guest Blogger Kirsty Fields

Creating IP in a business is incredibly important to both stand out in your market and will result in making money. But how do you go from having an idea and creating the IP for it, to selling your idea? What’s more, if your market is flooded with similar solutions and there’s lots of sales messaging available what can you do to start a successful pathway? Build a community. This community can exist in different formats, online or offline, be geographically based or not. You build a community from your clients, networking and industry connections, contractors and suppliers, friends, referrers and collaborators. What all these different groups have in common, is that they collectively make up your community. If something happens to one sector of your community, it’s likely you’ll maintain other sectors.

Here’s five small projects to launch to help build your community to be able to formalise and grow a “list” of contacts to formalise a communication strategy. This activity alone is key for you to sell to in the future, but always the way in which you can mass-communicate information, education, support and awareness. And a portion of your marketing mix that is always left unnurtured, and therefore an untapped asset to your business. Each one of these five projects can be implemented using simple technology to capture information from your community if you haven’t done so already.

This will allow you to turn each of the five projects into a new community group to connect with directly as a smaller group, or as part of your wider community. And you could use all five of these projects together for a bigger more impactful outcome offering a variety of styles catering to individual interests.

  1. Create a freebie
  2. Start a pop-up Facebook group
  3. Run a short-term challenge
  4. Host a low-priced ticket masterclass or workshop (online or in person)
  5. Run a private bespoke event offering membership

Create a Freebie

Creating freebies are perhaps the easiest of the lot! Sending your freebie out via a sign-up scenario means you capture an email address as a minimum. Popular freebies include E-Books, webinars, podcasts, tools like calculators, discounts, or mini versions of a service/product like an audit or consult. Save your work in easily accessible formats e.g. PDF files, downloadable Zip folders or links to hidden pages on your website and give access to them only after you collect the private information of each user that allows you to communicate with them in the future.

Start a pop-up Facebook group

Pop up Facebooks are a great idea to contain a small group to WOW new people to your community, service them with some education or access to freebies and a supportive community. It also allows you to entertain them, provide great service from you or your team. It also provides a closed area for you to market directly to them. The key to success with Facebook groups is brand-relevant visually appealing and professionally structured content. Your time and effort needs to go into the group before it’s populated, allowing you to turn up Live instead of the stress of daily content creation. This is never fun!

Don’t delete your Pop Up group once the original purpose has run its course. Reuse the group repetitively, as you’ll find those who valued it the first time (plus those who may not have given their full attention, or needed better timing), won’t leave of their own accord. That allows you to add to your group quarterly or half-yearly with a membership number that impresses the viewer.

Run a short-term challenge

Short-term challenges can be great fun and you can pick up community members with savvy social campaigns when you run them. Think hashtags for engagement, cross-platform participation with Instagram, and entertainment all the way. Just like any other campaign you run, lead-in time is everything! Promote it for at least 6 weeks organically before day 1 to maximise numbers. Your email communication should be short, sharp and clear across the time of the challenge with your own example included each day. Remind participants with scheduled email campaigns that include daily or every second day reminders the week it starts. Selecting daily winners from participants is a great draw card, as is a collaborative challenge. You can also run a short-term challenge in a Facebook group – or create a Pop Up Facebook group for this purpose.

Host a low-priced ticket masterclass or workshop

We run low-priced workshops regularly. Several times a year in fact, and the feedback we receive from clients every time is that they enjoy and appreciate an intimate gathering of like-minded people. It allows for a more personalised approach, but also allows you to maintain a low budget in many areas including choice of venue, catering and print/marketing collateral requirements. To secure the number of guests you need by following an event plan rolling out over a 10-12 week period. This is an ideal time frame to allow you publish a variety of events marketing information from the time you launch, to the date of the event. This allows you to run one per quarter as part of a regular onboarding process. And don’t forget, this event could be a digital event with video conferencing or Live video in a private group setting.

Run a private bespoke event offering membership

If what you have to offer doesn’t support a low-priced anything, then a bespoke private event is more likely to hit your target! Along with a higher price tag, an impressive location, providing experiential program features, bespoke events offering membership as the kicker are a big hit with women in particular. Think retreats – spiritual or corporate in nature – providing elements that may be perceived as difficult to organise in a day to day circumstance, or that may be considered luxurious. Include add-ons, have varied pricing structures to snag guests earlier or provide a higher price tag for a distinct purpose. The activity of community building is a long game and requires patience. However, it’s genuinely one of the most successful marketing activities a company can undertake for longevity.

Though it takes a long time to build a huge list, once you’re in the hang of it and include it in your marketing activities, you will feed into your database with ease. Suggestions above are superficially based on social media activity or events based. These are my own areas of specialty at Social Ocean, which is an events marketing agency. Combining your online social presence with face to face events is a highly successful mix, that will not only assist in building your list but create your raving fans!

KIRSTY FIELDS – BIO

Armed with over 20 years’ experience in the event management business, Kirsty Fields has co-ordinated everything from kids’ events to national sports games. After a successful career in sports, she embraced modern marketing and promotional techniques.

Her passion for training clients in social media, digital marketing and branding has been combined to present her multi-award winning business Social Ocean a bespoke events marketing agency.

Kirsty’s experience in event management and coordination, and the small business space, backed by her passion for marketing, makes her an ideal source for all things related to events, small business, marketing, social media and branding.

LINKS FOR SHARING

Social Links:

Website (relaunching this month): https://www.socialocean.com.au

To follow along with Social Ocean, and for regular tips and tricks, join them on

Facebook: www.facebook.com/socialoceanau

LinkedIn Page: www.linkedin.com/company/social-ocean-au

Instagram Page: www.instagram.com/socialoceanau

Pinterest Page: www.pinterest.com.au/SocialOceanAU

Guest Blogger 2020 resilience Uncategorized

Dress Code: HAPPY

I met Debbie while working in Darwin on some extreme projects.  Debbie immediately struck me as a woman after my own heart, loud, opinionated, informed, passionate and driven.   The kinds who understands the #getyourbootson philosophy and lives it.  Here she offers some raw insight into what goes into the making of strong women and what it takes to get out of your own way… everydayBecky

What if everyday was a celebration of life? What if every meal were a celebration too and we cooked with love, ate what gave us pleasure, and left us feeling satisfied and full? Everyday when we get dressed, we dress in something that makes us feel great and happy and good about our bodies?

And that looks different for every single one of us. We are all unique individuals, and we are all absolutely frigging amazing just as we are. Just imagine what your life would look like if you celebrated that each and every day, and celebrated your body and felt great about it, no matter your size, weight or shape, ability or disability. Happiness is all about embracing ourselves and our lives exactly where we are in the present moment, not waiting until something changes.

Over the past few years, I have been on a journey of understanding my self-worth. Learning that I am enough, in fact not only enough, that I am perfectly imperfect in every possible way. It has been a process of learning to love my body and my life exactly where I am right now, no matter its perceived flaws and imperfections, the shadow parts of me I don’t want to show to the world, my size, my personality, my finances and every other single part of it.

It has been a long slow process of learning to love those parts of me I have been criticized for my whole life and realizing that those things are in fact my superpowers that make me who I am today and are fundamentally part of who I am. My loud voice and getting over-excited because I’m so passionate about things, my weight and size, my storytelling, my love of speaking in public, my love of and ability to do multiple projects at once and always have lots of different things going on, my creativity, my sensitivity and empathy for others. All of these things are actually my best qualities and I have realised that over the years, others have told me to shut up and sit down, not to get so emotional, to focus on one thing, because they were mostly threatened by me or didn’t want to hear what I had to say. I have finally come to a place of love where I am letting myself be seen as my true authentic self, rather than always trying to tone it done, dim my light and try to fit in with what everyone else wants me to be.

I have learned to love myself in the present moment. Not when I’ve lost 20 kgs, not when I go on vacation, sort out my finances and feel financially secure, or buy a new house or a new car, not when I find a new partner, nor a new job. But right here, right now, in the present moment, exactly as I am and where I am.

I have learned to love not knowing what is coming up and where I am going, by simply allowing myself to be open to possibilities and receiving and saying yes to what comes along. By meditating each day and being in the present moment and following my heart and whatever I am called to do, amazing opportunities have opened up in my life. Opportunities that have led me places and allowed me transform in ways I never thought possible. It has been all about learning to live my life at a 10 every single day and letting go of things, jobs, people and places that no longer serve me or are only a 3-4 for me on a scale of 1 -10.

This has all come together in the past two months when we launched The EveryBODY Diet website and Facebook page. Working with my two partners Kim and Jay, we have created a safe space for people to transform their lives, initially through the power of intuitive eating, however, it is so much more than that. It is about learning to let go of the trauma and beliefs that have shaped our lives and given us the illusion of trying to control it through food and staying in our comfort zone.

What has evolved through us has been transformational for those of us participating in the process and it has bought us to the place where every part of our lives becomes a celebration of who we are, what we love and makes us feel happy. Just the simple act of wearing clothes that make us feel good about our bodies, feel happy and energised, comfortable and at ease, is a revolution. Imagine opening your wardrobe and knowing that every single thing in it fits and makes you feel good about your body.

Likewise, with our eating. It is all about starting to love our bodies and feelings and stop punishing them and trying to control them with endless diets or binge eating. Fire the food police and that inner voice that tells you what you can and cannot eat. By listening to our bodies, learning to eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full, eating what we love for pleasure, enjoyment, and satisfaction, our bodies start to regain their innate ability to self-regulate and reach a place where your weight evens out. This will be different for every one of us and changes as we grow older and are at different stages in our lives.

So make every meal a celebration, eat what you love and makes you feel good, live your life with passion and cherish each and every day, wear clothes that make you happy and follow your heart and live your life at a 10 every day.

Debbie Reeves – Bio
Originally from the UK, I live in Darwin, Australia, have two gorgeous
teenage daughters who never cease to amaze me, two horses, a dog,
and 2 cats. I work in high end professional recruitment, and my
passion is people.
For the past 25+ years I have been studying personal transformation. I
was trying to fix myself and thought I was broken. Trying to fit in and
be someone I am not. Craving love and acceptance, yet unable to give
that to myself. One day I realized that no one could ever fix me and all
the answers I needed were already within me. 59 years of hating my
body hadn’t worked, so I tried loving and embracing myself exactly
where I am in the present moment. It has truly transformed my life. My
mission is to light the way so you too can learn to love and embrace
your body, connect to your heart and let go of all your old stories that
have stopped you from loving yourself for so long.

www.facebook.com/everybodydiet or www.everybodydiet.com

Guest Blogger 2020 resilience

Turning my passion project into a career – Sandy Lowres

My intro:

I first found Sandy on her Good Girl Confessional Blog site.  I had just written a chapter for a book about recovering from being a Good Girl, so it was a bit of a perfect match.  We corresponded and clicked straight away, enjoying an online friendship for quite a few years, feeling like we were good friends.  We actually finally met in 2019 when I was a guest speaker for an event in Geelong.  Since then I have been a guest on Sandy’s podcast, and I am really looking forward to this magazine release.  Please make Sandy feel welcome to the guest blogs of 2020.BECKY

Turning my passion project into a career has been a long journey but 2020 is shaping up to be an exciting year, where I am set to launch my first magazine, Woman Beyond Forty, or WB40 as I like to call it. If that conjures up images of car lubricant, think of WB40 as lubricant for your mind! Creating this project is hard work and there is stress involved to get it right, but it is absolutely a labour of love. So how did I arrive here? Well, I decided to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Everyone I know has had an annus horribilis. One of those years that is forever etched in your brain as a horrendous time of your life. Mine was 2010, a year where I lost my father, my business, my marriage and my family home. It was a year etched in grief, and sadness. When my marriage ended after almost eighteen years, I sold my boutique retail business and took on a role as Executive Assistant in a company that would allow a steadier income. I took the safer road to create stability for my children. I was broke, feeling defeated and exhausted. Licking my wounds took a long time but as a creative, I needed an outlet and eventually I took myself to a blogging workshop.

I’ve always been a creative writer. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing down lines for future stories, or scribbling poetry on loose bits of paper and napkins which I call poetry scratchings. I studied writing at uni and have a background in communications. Starting my blog, The Good Girl Confessional in 2013 was a cathartic outlet. The name was a tongue in cheek nod to how societal and patriarchal expectations are placed on women to be quiet, obedient, “good girls” who don’t express opinions. I was anything but those things having been raised by a flower power feminist, and a supportive step father who encouraged exchanges of ideas. Writing under a pseudonym allowed me to be raw and honest, talking about the ending of my marriage, my divorce, and of course about my stepping into the world of online dating, sex and relationships as a single woman in a no holds barred way. While I didn’t think anyone would read it, and there is a certain freedom in that, to my surprise Elle Magazine once listed me in the Top 5 Confessional blogs to read, and I was nominated for several blogging awards over the years.

The Good Girl Confessional garnished an organic following and over the years it grew to include gorgeous guest bloggers and went from being a personal blog to including articles on women’s issues. I continued to work fulltime in the corporate world and juggled the blog as a passion project. A lot can change in a decade. In that time, I had been engaged and then single again. The blog allowed a safe place to vet the emotions that poured from that. I’ve had four jobs and my children have grown up. All three are now adults, and I made a conscious decision to start writing under my own name. I’ve also found love again with a fellow creative.

I found myself at a crossroads with my writing. Last year I turned fifty and started a podcast, also called The Good Girl Confessional which allowed me to chat with incredible and diverse women about their lives and their experiences. As a story teller, giving a platform to other women to tell their stories is something I’m passionate about. Over the years I kept flicking through magazines and realised that I couldn’t quite find what I was seeking – the voices and stories of women over forty. Western society would have us believe that once we turn forty we have less to offer, that we are invisible and yet I know so many extraordinary women forty and above who are vibrant, kick ass women. I knew these expectations were bullshit. Something else weighed on me. I had grown up with an incredible group of friends. We are still friends to this day. Having that sense of female community as I was growing up, especially in a dysfunctional family unit, made me the person I am today. I have been so lucky to meet so many amazing female friends along the way who have brought so much to my life. Through the blog community however, I started to realise that some women do not have that feeling of community and belonging. Many told me they didn’t have many female friends but they longed for connection.

So, I decided to create the magazine I couldn’t find. A magazine written by women, for women on the topics that interest us – culture, film, books, world affairs, feminism, the environment. I’m a firm believer that all women have a story. This has become the mantra for Women Beyond Forty. Through this platform, we are growing a community of diverse, vibrant, intelligent women who all have a story. We hope to create an inclusive and safe space for women forty and beyond. I’m so thrilled that the website will launch shortly and the magazine will be released in March 2020.

I have had moments of doubt that I can deliver my dream to fruition but when I put the call out to female friends who are writers, and close friends, all were enthusiastic and so generous with advice. Collaborating with amazing women who are writing for the magazine on a range of topics, and for the website has been such an exciting time. I have always found the generosity and wisdom of women to be amazing and this project has cemented that even further. My niche was always writing about experiences beyond forty, and WB40 is proof that we still have so much to offer. Our time is now and I can’t wait for you all to share it.

Social Links:

To follow along with Women Beyond Forty, and for launch dates, collaboration opportunities or advertising information: https://mailchi.mp/5010c7a28821/wb40 or head to info@wb40.com

Website (coming soon) : https://wb40.com

Podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-good-girl-confessional_1

The Good Girl Confessional is also available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, I Heart Radio, iTunes and where ever good podcasts are found.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GoodGirlConfessional/

WB40: Women Beyond Forty Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/womenbeyondforty/

Podcast Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thegoodgirl_podcast

Guest Blogger 2020 resilience

How I Became an Author – Denis Murphy

I met Denis through the kind introduction of another author (Jodie Lane – you can check her guest blog out here. Denis and I spent over an hour recording a podcast for his show and discussing all things mindset. You can check that out here . He has kindly started the 2020 year of the guest blog for me with this discussion on how writing can be good for your mental health.  Denis is an incredible and resilient human being and I know you will enjoy his story so much that you will check him out on the socials which are listed at the end with his Bio – Becky

My relationship with writing has been a rather complex one to say the least. In school I was good at English but I wasn’t very connected to my voice as a writer. Technically I was good at English which led me to studying other languages but I had no sense of what writing could become for me. I lost touch with writing and creativity as I matured and developed into an adolescent and a young man. I started to see it as something that would make me stand out and be teased for. I didn’t have a strong enough sense of why I would voluntarily put myself through what looked to me at the time to be torture so I let my insecurities take control of my decision making process. In hindsight the uncomfortable decision to study French at university became the thing that kept me connected to my voice as a writer, although I didn’t know this at the time.


Indeed the French language is what eventually provided the opportunity that would make me deal with my personal demons from the past and fall head first into the world of writing. It wasn’t the introduction I was expecting, in fact it was quite the opposite. Going through a mental breakdown, while I was writing my first ever blog, in a remote part of France made me feel like I had lost my mind for good and there was no coming back from it. I thought I was now doomed to a life of subservience and dependence on other people. This was my initiation into the world of writing. I could either ignore this wakeup call from the universe and self-righteously hold on to my victim mindset or I could choose to grow from the experience no matter how bad things got. As cliché as it sounds, I decided I would grow from it and turn my mess into a message worth sharing.

Psychology became my gateway drug back into the world of writing. In order to move forward with my life I had to study and make sense of my own psychology and why I had a mental breakdown. I knew that if I wanted to make a full recovery then I couldn’t outsource this completely to a doctor or a psychiatrist. As good as I think modern medicine is it can’t take into account the human spirit and why things happen to us on a spiritual level. As I began my journey of self-directed learning I started to learn about my mind and what my insecurities were built from. The next step was to externalise the thoughts and what better way to do this than writing?

Initially writing was an outlet for me to vent and at the same time make sense of the world. It became a form of self-therapy and a form of self-education. I learned that when you take the time to write something new down, there is a higher chance you will retain it. My path to becoming a professional software developer was in part paved from the many blog posts I wrote describing what I was learning in the early days.

As the years passed I realised there was so much I was learning that could be very helpful to people who are struggling just as much as I was. I was an unknown blogger who was beginning to gain a sense of purpose and direction but who also wasn’t very sure of his ideas and had the habit of downplaying his knowledge and life experiences. This cocktail of knowledge and self-doubt is what gave me the idea to start a podcast. I already had access to mentors and I thought that their confidence in their ideas could help me reach more people and help me get over me fear of being seen by others.

I started The Happy Mindset podcast at the end of 2017 with a rather vague premise and an even vaguer title. I knew the idea of happiness was a core concept I wanted to explore as reflecting on this is what has helped me through my darkest and most hopeless moments. I knew that I wanted to explore the wide ranging world of psychology with the goal of helping my listeners learn about how their mind works. I was also hyperaware that most people would put these two words together and conclude I was a guy with his head in the clouds, denying the dark parts of reality before ever listening to understand where this podcast was really born from.

The podcast is what eventually led me to writing my first book – Taking my Life Back and becoming an author. The book outlines the key principles and lessons I learned after my mental breakdown. The purpose of the book is to help people rethink how they think about mental illness and how they think about people who have experienced a mental breakdown. I want to give a voice to the person going through their experience, another perspective to the psychiatrist, therapist, coach or teacher as well as to shine a light on the spiritual lessons that lie on the other side of such a traumatic experience.

The book came about because my publisher, Lisa Caprelli, was doing research for her book on happiness. Initially a podcast title that made me feel really uncomfortable is what led me to the opportunity to write a book. Lisa connected me with her cousin Davey Villalobos who happened to illustrate books. I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that I would work with Davey because I have a vivid memory as a young boy being told by the world that becoming a cartoonist wasn’t a viable career path. I believe that synchronicities will emerge when you have the faith to follow your curiosity, imagination and your heart.

My message is that although life can be extremely tough and frustrating sometimes there is always a light in every dark tunnel. The light I have found has been a journey where I decided to believe in myself again and dedicate my time, energy and attention on cultivating my skills and focusing on what truly matters to me.

Bio

Denis is an author, podcaster and software developer from Ireland. His many interests range from foreign languages to computer programming. He speaks 4 languages including French and he is currently learning Japanese. On his podcast, The Happy Mindset, he explores human psychology, creative writing and what it means to lead a happy and fulfilling life. He discovered his love for creative writing after some mental health issues he experienced in his early 20’s. His first book is called Taking my Life Back.

Social Links

Website: https://thehappymindset.com/

Podcast: https://anchor.fm/thehappymindset

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thehappymindsettribe/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thehappymindset/

Taking my Life Back: https://amzn.to/2rxKOla

Guest Blogger 2020 resilience

Loving Yourself Unconditionally

Intro by Words of Bek: I met Jess at the recent Roar Success Awards, where there was much fun, exchange of details, excitement, and true connection between women. Jess has won a packet of awards for her business, including some on this night.

Jess was one of the most energetic and enthusiastic people there, which is a true testament to how she lives, and her business. Her details are at the end of her guest blog, and it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to this amazing #GladiatHER

Jess Arroyo – Weigh Less with Jess

One of the most commonly overlooked issues is the need to love yourself… Which is a bona fide crisis, because it’s also possibly the most important need.
Learning to love yourself is a thing much easier said than done. And we’ve already established that most people have tons of other urgent things to handle. But the fact remains that it is unbelievably important and beneficial to every area of your life. So… what if you had some help?
I have struggled for so many years with the simple art of practicing self-love. I thought, that if I was skinny, had lost weight, it would be an instant that I would be happy and love myself. NOT AT ALL!! It has taken many hours of self-help books, conversations with therapists, worksheets/activities and sitting with feelings and emotions to practice self-love.
I’d love to share some ways that you can practice and learn to love yourself that are realistic, practical, grounded and firmly established by research in the fields of psychology and sociology.

#1. Tell yourself what you love about… YOU (Affirmations).
You have to realize how magnificent you are. You are a person in this world. You’re a ship build to sail. You need to be able to see things that you love, both in yourself and in the world around you. Because what we see in the mirror is often a reflection of what we see in the world. Our feelings toward others can affect our feelings about ourselves. Your level of acceptance of others is often reflected in your level of acceptance of yourself. Write down 5 things that you love about yourself. The following day, write another 5 more and so on and so on. They can be as simple as, I love my big toe!

#2. Imperfection is a part of life…
One of the things that people find quite difficult is the idea of accepting your imperfections. One of the greatest and most memorable, liberating milestones in life is giving up on being perfect and beginning the transition of becoming who you truly are. Learning to calmly see and accept things (yourself, situations, relationships, the world) as they truly are can be the doorway to a feeling of indescribable peace.


#3. Stop seeking approval.
Please, for the love of cheese… Realize that you can NOT rely on other people as the source of approval for your actions or validation for your life. No one can fill your validation cup but you! Stand up and be who you are. Speak your mind. Be true to yourself. Remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Know yourself, accept yourself, and be yourself… this requires no permission or approval from anyone except YOU. None of us are getting out of here alive, and your time is fleeting and precious! Whatever it is that you are concerning yourself with today should be something that YOU have decided is important enough to spend a day of your life with.

#4. If it brings you down, move away from it.
When you give your time, effort, and attention to people or situations that don’t honour or respect you, then you are giving away the power and authority to steer your own life. Know your worth. Invest in actually seeking out people who motivate, inspire, and support the true you. Don’t worry about surrounding yourself with any certain number of relationships. Focus on substance and quality instead of quantity. And remember that as you become more fluent in the skills of understanding, accepting, and loving yourself… You’ll also be more likely (also more capable and better equipped) to motivate, inspire, and support those around you. In that way, most of all, learning to love yourself is going to brighten the world for those around you.

#5.Forgive.
“For whatever harm I have caused others, may they forgive me. For whatever harm others have caused me, may I forgive them. For whatever harm I have caused myself, I forgive myself.” – Traditional Buddhist Mantra. This one is SO IMPORTANT. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself how you would or do treat others.
We previously established that you should give yourself (and the world) permission to be imperfect. Confronting the darker parts of yourself and the world around you isn’t a contradiction to that. Setting goals and working to improve is a healthy process, and you should recognize that regardless of where you are in the process, you are still YOU. No matter where you are in the process, you are worthy of love.

#6. Don’t stagnate.
Routine and familiarity can be just as dangerous as a venomous snake. Learn to closely examine thoughts, relationships, behaviors, activities, and situations… and make adjustments. Step outside of routine and do new things. Meet new people. Talk to strangers and try new foods. Just because something made you happy in the past doesn’t mean you should endeavour to keep it exactly that way indefinitely.

#7. Don’t freeze in the headlights.
You’re going to fail. It’s going to happen. Repeatedly. To be successful in the long run, you must sometimes fail. Really step back and look at this. Accept it. Try not to fear it. When you’re presented with a decision in a situation that arises suddenly, don’t let the fear of a wrong decision freeze you into making no decision at all. We often need to make mistakes to learn. How does one grow otherwise?

#8.Be thankful.
Obstacles are in no short supply. The same can be said for pain, suffering, poverty, cruelty, and ignorance. Life is a balance between order and chaos. Learn to be thankful for the positives, no matter what negatives there are. Have gratitude and be grateful. Every day, write down 5 things you are grateful for. They can be the most tiniest things. Today, I am grateful for being able to use 3 ply toilet paper, running water, fresh bed sheets etc….

BIO

Jess has been in business for six years and is about to open her first bricks and mortar store. She is passionate about supporting other people to take charge of their health and wellbeing and is genuine about the inclusiveness of her programs for all persons, no matter their health or ability. She has a presence in over 40 countries and is not stopping anytime soon!

Jess is genuine when she says “My aim is to support people on their journey towards achieving their personal goals of weight loss, increased confidence, self-esteem, improved health; all culminating in encouraging people to fully engage in their precious life to reach their highest potential.”

By Jess Arroyo – Weigh Less with Jess.

WEBSITE: WWW.LESSWITHJESS.COM.AU

FACEBOOK – WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/LESSWITHJESS

INSTAGRAM – @WEIGHLESSWITHJESS

Empowering guest Blogger resilience

Film Crew versus Construction Team

It’s a weird one right?  Who would think that working on a film set would have anything to do with construction.  The tie in is via my Project Manager qualification and the cross over into this world from a position of observation. 

I was safety girl for the film set, a local company that was organising and producing a short film for entry in Cannes Film Festival, and through the power of networking, one of my contacts called upon me to support.  It wasn’t a thrilling suggestion, offer my skills for free in return for … what exactly?  If that sounds selfish, you might recall I am a highly paid and qualified construction project manager, coach, mentor, and published award winning author.  I don’t come cheap and I have worked my ass off all my life to earn that high price.
(see journey to cover girl blog)

However, I also enjoy experiencing new ideas and being able to see alternative ways of doing, how other careers work, and I like to learn new things. When I found out there were children involved, I was sold on the idea. To be a safety manager is an important job, one I take seriously. The entire premise is to make sure people are safe and stay safe, and once you add children, and a new learning experience, it was a pretty easy choice. 
Except they forgot to mention the early starts!  The long hours. The disarray that comes from working with a new team should have been something I had thought of based on my own experiences building skilled teams, but nope. Foolish mortal!

I realised early that it really was so similar to project management in the construction industry, that I spent some time thinking about how the various roles matched my experience. It was good fun, and kept me focused on those 14 hour days when I saw both sunrise and sunset. So here goes, a breakdown of the film crew through the eyes of a construction guru…
First you have the Producer. They are the client in my world, the ones who put up the money.  Our producer was also intimately involved in the film behind the scenes organising, dealing with problems and making sure everyone got fed. I can say not most clients in my work would do that, but it was awesome to have a chance to connect with the person who was responsible for making such a project happen. 

Then there is the Director. It is his vision, his script, his concepts the rest of us were tasked to bring to life. So he is similar to the Design Manager on a project. Creating the vision, the layout, the goals, the ideas from scratch and expecting the construction team to bring it to life. Make it so!  
The Assistant Film Director and the Production Coordinator are the next two people who come to mind. They are the project management team, the project leads in my world. Keeping the Director focused, on time and ensuring the here-and-now outcomes, acting the liaison between the rest of the team and the vision, they are integral to the success of leading the team through the creation process. 

The cinematographer is the Construction Manager.  Using a camera instead of a white board, but nonetheless responsible for interpreting the Director’s vision, he uses his lens, carefully selecting the correct one, at the right height, angle and aperture, in order to capture the creation.  In much the same way that the Construction Manager will ensure the right people and activities occur according to the schedule, he alters the concept from idea to reality. 

Then you have the gripping crew. I struggled at first to place them, but they are the highly skilled operators. Working in close conjunction and consultation with the cinematographer, they use their experience,  judgement and precision plant and equipment to create the very effect that the cinematographer needs, the Director desires, in order to make the vision accurate and highlight the beauty of the creation unfolding. Machine operators are not often viewed as being specialists by those in senior management, nor seen as creators. Without them nothing can happen, nothing works quite as it should, and very little can get accomplished. In both worlds. 

The film cast are the project team. It might seem weird that they are seemingly not important to the overall scheme but they are critical. They are the doers, the people who get the job done while the vision unfolds around them. Following the instructions from a multitude of management, they are the people who act out the collective creation from all that have been mentioned before. 

There was an amazing crew of interns who I would call middle management. The support, the help, the organisers and the runners of the film world, just as they are in the construction industry. Our interns were from a local highschool and they have such bright futures ahead of them from the dedication I saw.  Their teacher was also an incredibly helpful support to them and the film crew on the day. You could call him one of the project sponsors. 

And then there is the art department. Procurement in my world, they obtain the things necessary to assist the vision. The art, the backgrounds, the props, the costumes, they are the procurement specialist, without them, you run the risk of getting the wrong pipe. Or the wrong prop to complete the analogy.   They can make old sheds looks like a mystery world, garages looks like a cavern of treasures and planets look like they were plucked from the sky. 

I almost forgot about the sound department!  Which is understandable, because we mostly take the effect of background – bird calls, machinery hum, wind – for granted… Until it is not there. They are the unseen support crew, something like the surveyors in a project team. They are just there, doing the work, checking the measures, and without them something just doesn’t feel right. It was ironic, or perhaps simply poetic, that the sound crew were some of the quietest members of the set. But so important to the overall finish and polish of the creation. Just like the surveyors of the construction world, without the sound team, you risk the final product not being quite right. 

And if anyone is wondering if I struggled with not being in charge, the answer is yes, I did.  After managing multi-million (think $500 Million average) projects and being the overseer, it was a real problem for me to keep out of the way.  But I did.  After all safety works best when noone realises they are doing their job, but everyone gets to go home. 
And that’s a wrap. 

Mentoring resilience Uncategorized

The Labyrinth of self worth – A Journey from Hardship to Covergirl!

The year of Cyclone Tracey in Darwin, and a year that Brisbane experienced extreme floods, I was born in Perth, Australia. For a long time in my life it seemed that axis of bad luck overshadowed me. This week I am the cover girl for the second anniversary release of a women’s empowerment magazine, “the thinking woman’s”, magazine as it markets itself. YMag. It’s been a process.

I never had much belief that other people would see me in this way. I had a long journey through self-worth, confidence and I required a massive amount of resilience to overcome the circumstances of my early childhood to gracing a front page of anything!

I’ve worked in the construction industry for about 30 years now and that is a tough gig. Not because I am a woman, although that provides a few challenges to some of the men, but because it is a harsh industry. Extreme conditions, tight deadlines, limited budget and long hours. I feel like I’ve worked three jobs for my whole life – it is usually 13 hour days, it can be 7 days a week, and it is relentless. Buildings, roads, rail, your water supply – these things don’t happen by magic, they happen because of the sweat, the effort, and the talents of many people. I am one of those people.

It took me years to see that my ability to solve problems, manage and encourage people, understand legislation and interpret technical data are incredible talents. It took me forever to acknowledge to myself that I was not just good at what I do, I’m great at it. You don’t get positive feedback in the construction industry. Or, as one boss put it when I was seeking some form of input as to my capabilities, if you are still working, if you are employed and not told to “get out” you are doing your job well enough. And that’s the extent of the positive feedback.

Times are changing, slowly and somewhat reluctantly, but that idea that if you still have a job you are doing okay, still pervades the industry. It is why I am a respected project manager, because I re!ember all the things I struggled with, and I make sure my team doesn’t. I communicate, engage and provide positive feedback. Because I never had it and I would have been even more motivated to work harder. If that was possible, because I am an all-or- nothing kind of person already.

There is no fence-sitting for me. I make decisions decisively, which is an attribute that has flowed over into my personal life. In fact I project manage my own life just as much, if not better, than I manage my construction projects. The skills I fought so hard to learn in my career have been invaluable in my personal life and have caused me to be determined, to never give up, to just make it work, and to not waste time on regret, chagrin, beating myself up over errors or waste emotions on things I cannot change.

It has caused me to win awards, to be recognised as delivering quality, to be known as something who just gets things done. I never let anyone see how alone, how solitary and how disconnected I was from the view of others. That imposter syndrome that no matter what feedback I did get, it was highly unlikely to me that it was true.

It is only since taking on mentoring females in the industry about 15 years ago now, seeing this support and knowledge I can provide to them, their reliance on my input and relief that there is someone who gets it, who has been there, who can reassure them that they “got this” that I realise that I didn’t have that. There was no one, as I developed my career, who could provide that for me, because there were no other women around who had been there and done what I had. There were so few of us in the industry at my level, that we didn’t even know of each other, let alone support each other. It is dark and lonely in the oubliette. This relates to trades as well an engineer’s and project managers.

It is changing now and so many more women are making their mark in such brilliant ways, but not 30 years ago. It is why I do what I do, because I experienced what it took to make it through that journey. The Labyrinth of self respect, self regard and self worth. But it wasn’t until I had this experience reflected back at me through coaching and me tiring others, that I understood just how tough, how remarkable, how resilient, how confident I had to be in order to get to where I did. So it was time to own it. To stop seeking validation externally and start providing it internally. I never knew how confident I actually was until I started showing someone else how to be confident.

So when the chance to really showcase myself was presented, I took it. I didn’t doubt, or worry about what others would think, about whether I was the right type of person, or even if anyone else would get it. I just did it. Like I have my entire career, I just backed myself and leapt. I held onto my self-worth and my self-belief and said to my imposter syndrome – you have no power over me. I said yes. Yes to showing the world that I have come from a land so distant to me now it’s just a fairy tale of my childhood, through hardships untold and dangers unnumbered, I have powered my way to this cover girl, to take my place on the cover of this powerful magazine. For my will is as strong as it ever was, and my abilities greater than I could ever see while I was developing them.

It is another milestone, another achievement, one that I am very proud of, but I won’t be stopping any time soon. There are more adventures to be had. Join me if you dare to realise your greatness too.

resilience

Competition is NOT a Dirty Word

I see so many women hate on the word “competition”.

An Aussie woman, Ashleigh Barty, just won the French Open… Do you think she shies away from a little competition?  Congrats Ashleigh, while I am here, you are amazing! Pretty sure Ms Barty competed her ass off to win this award!

Our Olympic winners, do you think that they don’t compete?  Every day they compete with themselves and their personal best, to be just a little better than before.  We celebrate them, and if we don’t, we certainly should.  

So that is okay, so maybe it is just when women compete.. what… with each other?  That’s what Olympians do also. There is a first, second, third, and all the others.  Sometimes the others get a mention, like when they just keep going no matter what, but do we remember them?  Nope. But we celebrate the Gold Medallist don’t we? 

We join clubs and point systems and rewards than give us “Gold class” versus “Diamond” or “Platinum” levels.  Isn’t that a form of competition? Who has the higher level? These systems are designed to make sure we compete to get to that higher, glossier, more “privileged” level, aren’t they?  But that seems to be okay. Maybe that is competition with the “corporations” because we believe we are getting more out them than most, or maybe that is a competition with ourselves, to “level up”.

So why don’t we women “compete”, when quite clearly, we do, and we do it well in certain areas?

Is it because we compete against other women, and there is already enough out there telling us that we are too fat, too thin, too blonde, too shy, too prosaic, too plain, too pretty, TOO MUCH?  Is it that we are just joining the party and using the “women don’t compete line” to actually drag another women down because she wants to be a winner? Because maybe, we, ourselves, can’t compete, so we perpetuate a myth than means we don’t have to strive, to animate, to be better than yesterday, knowing we will better again tomorrow? What is wrong with wanting to win? 

I don’t think that is it, I see plenty of women getting their game on, hustling, entrepreneuring, creating, making, fulfilling, being out there in the world.  

I saw an article recently that stated :

“leadership has been a predominantly male arena and as a result, typically “masculine” qualities such as decisiveness, resilience and confidence, have been viewed as paramount.”

Erm, they are paramount and they aren’t “masculine”.  It is not a gendered word. I am sick of being “masculine”, “feminine” or some other category that I did not sign up to, but someone else thinks that I must be “this way” because of some daft gendered suggestion.  I am not masculine because I am resilient, because I can make decisions, because I am confident.

I am these things because I created myself this way, because I chose it, because I wanted it.  And I am a woman, heaven forbid! But I rose through the ranks of the construction industry as a female, and I will be damned if I reduce myself in any of these areas because some article designed to sell something suggests I am and have “masculine characteristics”   And if I do, what is the big deal with that?

Women raise the children, predominantly, and this is changing, but it is still mostly true for most families.  So when you are raising that child each day making decisions, you aren’t being decisive? Of course you are, whether you see it that way or not.  Making bad decisions is not less than decisive, it just means you like learning by experience.  

Experiencing breast cancer and over-coming the every day struggle that it is to just keep going, have faith, believe that there is hope and recovery – that is resilience even if you don’t have the energy to say the word. 

Being on stage and presenting requires a great deal of confidence and we see women more and more taking that stage.  Are they really women because they are confident? Or have they embraced being a man, being “masculine”.

Of course not, the suggestion is ridiculous. 

And so is the suggestion that these things are masculine in their intent, context and delivery.  I really get sick of women creating this divide and then wondering why they can’t be taken seriously in the world arena.  If anything, the suggestion of these traits as masculine or feminine are perpetuating the belief that there is one way to be if you are a man and one way to be if you are a women.  And that is simply not true. It also perpetuates the myth that men are less than women because they have these traits, and I think that is a pile of bullshit too.

And that denies the rights of women that have been fought over for years, the ability for our ladies to be in the defence force, fly planes, vote, own property, you know, “manly things”.  

The entire concept that confidence is masculine is absurd.  Confidence is defined as: full trust; trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing, belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance

Are we still in an era where we don’t want that for our daughters?  That our sons aren’t as good as our daughters if they have these traits.  When you break that statement down like this, it is entirely ridiculous.

I compete every day.  I compete with myself to be better, more intelligent, know more, be greater, achieve higher.  I compete in my role because I represent a company and I need to be the best I can be for that role, it is what I am paid to do.

I reject the idea that competition is masculine and has no place in a woman.  I reject the mythology that surrounds the “feminine” and the “masculine” and that they are somehow less than or worse than the other.

What I embrace is that we can all, both male, female, and non-gendered, non-binary and nonsensical if that is how you roll, is that we can all have these traits if we choose to.  We need to stop vilifying words in the attempt to one up the scale and continue the gender divide. And to sell from a platform that perpetuates this divide.

I embrace my resilience, I am confident enough to say it and I won’t be changing my decisiveness to do so any time soon.  Join me if that doesn’t make you afraid of being the best version of you, because that is the competition I am in. 

Empowering resilience