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  • When you feel better, you do better

    feel better, do better

    Everything is about how you feel. As the Maya Angelou quote goes, people may forget what you said, but never how you made them feel.

    How you feel influences how you do anything. EVERYTHING. It impacts how you show up. Feeds into what you do and how you do it.

    To some extent, it’s true: what you put out comes back.

    Hey, I’m not into the ‘good vibes only’ vibe. Denying emotions does not work. Toxic positivity – no thanks.

    But I do think it’s important to do ourselves a favour and limit wallowing and spiralling, and do our best to shift out of that mode before it goes too far.

    When you feel better, you do better. Full stop.

    In money and life.

    You think more clearly, quickly, confidently (that’s gold when you’re in the hot seat for a job interview).

    Stuff flows out of you, just pours forth from your fingertips and tongue. You write and speak in full flow – it almost bypasses your conscious brain. Like you’re a conduit, channelling some deeper spring of brilliance.

    You make better, more aligned decisions without agonising for weeks, going back and forth second-guessing yourself.

    And you can’t get into that beautiful flow state unless you’re feeling good.

  • 7 reflections on parenthood (four years in – where has the time gone?!)

    7 reflections on parenting

     

    It’s been quite awhile since I wrote about anything parenting-related.

    That’s not to say I have nothing to say!

    It’s just been… overwhelming at times.

    Here are my latest reflections/lessons.

    On boundaries

    There’s a bit of a parallel here. I’m learning boundaries with my kid, just as I need them in my own life in general.

    It’s a little bit easier with a toddler, to be honest. I know we need them for safety, for example. With adults, it’s for the sake of sanity – which is easy to discount/dismiss. As a chronic overgiver/overfunctioner, learning to say no to people of any age is an ongoing journey. It’s a trip.

    On learning who I am

    Just like money makes you more of who you already are, I think parenting intensifies your personality traits. I’m clearer than ever on who I am. Sometimes I don’t recognise myself in my worst moments. Sometimes I’m blown away by how well I hold up.

    On patience

    There is no shortage of patience required in parenting. With the repetitive questions. With repeatedly setting limits. With often saying no.

    I default to calm whenever I can, take a breath, seek to understand the underlying cause of behaviour first.

    I try to be playful and give choices at every step.

    But wow, this is a challenging age.

    On tuning in and trusting my intuition

    When something is wrong, I know it.

    I have become somewhat sceptical of many doctors. I am a huge believer in private health insurance. I’ve had so much better luck being taken seriously and getting help from specialists. I’m sad that if I didn’t have the money, it might not have happened.

    And paired with that, I’ve always tackled experiments with a pretty robust test and learn mentality – without close tracking and monitoring, I would never have identified the trigger foods behind Spud’s issues.

    On letting go and the nature of impermanence

    You cannot control other human beings. Accepting this is essential.

    Nothing lasts forever. The good. The bad. Things always change. Everything is a phase. Just go with it.

    And this goes along with letting go of the need for perfection. I can improvise. Trusting I can come up with bedtime stories about all sorts of random things on request. They’re not very imaginative, I grant you. Usually I wind up weaving a safety lesson (the climax is often a car having an accident … don’t ask) or one about eating healthy (trying new foods). Whatever. It doesn’t have to be amazing. I can make it up on the fly.

    On hanging in there despite the discomfort

    Perseverance. And lots of repetition.

    Applies to everything. Offering different/new foods. Toilet training. Bike riding. And of course, desired behaviours.

    Getting uncomfortable being uncomfortable. The toddler years are TRYING. They’ve shaken the self-trust I’d built. The doubts are bigger and louder, I’m triggered multiple times a day, and ashamed of how reactive I am.

    The tantrums/meltdowns are not easy to hold space for, especially as emotions were not generally acknowledged in my childhood.

    I struggle to straddle the line between validating and holding space, and feeding too much into things and letting them go too long. Knowing when to skilfully redirect, vs just distracting as a band-aid.

    On being a role model

    I haaaaated being told I had to set a good example for my little brother. And now the stakes are even higher. I am so not perfect. But I’m hoping I’m doing okay, that I am repairing my wrongs, and that I can reparent myself along the way.

    Parenting ain’t easy. But I suppose I can say it is absolutely fulfilling. I can absolutely imagine a parallel child-free life. But I chose this one and overall, I’m glad I did – despite all the challenges.

  • Feeling guilty? Channel it into productive action instead

    HOW TO TURN GUILT INTO MORE PRODUCTIVE ACTION

     

    Something I often struggle with is guilt. Feeling guilty that I’m objectively much better off than most of the population on earth. For all the privileges I have been endowed and all I have now – especially after the past few years. And then… feeling guilty on the flipside for wanting even more. For still aspiring to bigger and better. Dreaming, desiring.

    It’s a weird tug of war. It’s a weird middle ground. But I know I’m not alone in this. These are all totally natural feelings.

    In fact, we dive into guilt a few times in Money Groove – guilt over spending (even when you can totally afford it, and got plenty of value out of something!) and guilt over wanting more when objectively, you’re way better off than so many others in the world and yet you still desire more. These aren’t things we can just sweep under the rug or brush away. They’ll just keep on popping up and coming back.

    Here’s what I DO know. Here’s what I have to remind myself of, over and over again.

    It does nobody else any good for me to struggle. There’s no upside or benefit or prize to not having what I want, to playing martyr.

    It’s not a zero sum game. How poorly or well I do doesn’t change anything for anyone else.

    If you aren’t making enough to live well … worrying about making ends meet … how can you possibly ever achieve your full potential? Particularly when inflation continues to balloon and push up the prices of EVERYTHING constantly?

    In taking care of myself first and flourishing, I can then turn around and help others. Simply: when you have enough to take care of your own needs, you can look to help to solve those bigger problems. But you gotta handle things at home first.

    Take that guilt and turn it into fuel and momentum instead.

  • Why having more damn fun right now might be the key to getting what you want

    more fun = more successIf you don’t believe in your abilities and aren’t totally sold…

    If you don’t feel whole in yourself, if you feel empty and slightly desperate…

    If you don’t have confidence in yourself, love yourself, and love your unique flavour of brilliance…

    If you wouldn’t buy what you’re offering…

    How can you expect others to? How can you expect anyone else to buy in? To hire you? Embrace you?

    If you don’t feel good and grounded and convinced and strong in yourself, that is going to shine through, no matter how thick you layer up the mask and how hard you try to hide it.

    Coming into something from a state of flow, fun, and ease changes all the energy around it. It infuses your actions and that’s something other people can feel.

    It changes the energy and conviction with which you show up. Spurs you to act. Those actions then inevitably tend to deliver better results, encouraging you to keep going and doing more.

    So what’s powering your actions? What’s the underlying drive and vibe behind them?

    Taking care of yourself, indulging and enjoying yourself isn’t frivolous. Do things that fill up your cup and your heart. Think of it as a way of putting on your own oxygen mask first. It is truly a worthwhile investment.

    If you can’t enjoy it along the way, appreciating what you have now – what makes you think you will if you ever get what you’re striving for?

    It’s hard to imagine something you have never had before. You can, however, imagine how it would feel to have it. How you’d act, think, feel, be. What you would do to celebrate. So much so that when the time finally does come, when it rolls around, it’s gonna feel somewhat like a familiar memory. Turns out our brains are pretty simple in that regard. They don’t really know what’s real and what’s imagined. Time doesn’t really exist.

    People talk about the importance of prioritising pleasure/joy/fun. Honestly… all those words are pretty triggering for me and I’m working through that for myself. I’m going with fun as it feels the least loaded. The concepts seem so frivolous and there are decades of conditioning around this to deconstruct. Not helped at all by becoming a parent, I must say. The push to start martyring ourselves, denying ourselves, stripping pleasure and enjoyment from our lives, starts even before our kids are born. But I digress…

    I believe you can’t get/have/keep what you can’t feel. Not for long, anyway. And if you gotta feel the goodness before it actually arrives and shows its face, and if that actually helps fuel and accelerate the whole process… why the hell not?

    If you’ve been stuck at the same level for awhile, wanting to break through to the next level… struggling and hustling, with not much to show for it … shift gears and give it a try. This just might be the missing piece of the puzzle.

     

  • Here’s your permission slip to dream bigger (and the one question to start asking yourself today)

    start asking this question to get closer to your goals

    I used to HATE the question – what if you won the lottery?

    Ugh. What’s the point?!

    I didn’t want to dream big because I didn’t like to think about what I would never have – ironic, as this is exactly the same mentality I think underpins some people’s commitment to the ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ trope which I LOATHE with all my being.

    Heck, I even used to work on a campaign called Dare to Dream and I think it always lowkey bugged me for that reasons. Semantics, people. Language is my thing. Word choice matters.

    Anyway, if you’re the type of person who tends to round off daydreaming sessions with a wistful or even bitter, “that would be nice,” I see you. I so feel you. I am you.

    AND… I’d encourage you to try something slightly different next time.

    Ending instead with “How could I?”

    Leave that open ended question hanging. Let your brain stew and store it away and start to mull over the possibilities.

    I know my lottery dreams are fairly modest. I’d plan another RTW trip and do more travel. Buy a house in a different suburb. Beyond that…

    These really are not outrageous dreams. Although they are very difficult and expensive and seemingly impossible in NZ. Or so it feels.

    But not actually impossible. If I were to price it out roughly, just back of the napkin calculations, they’re theoretically doable. I don’t need multimillions.

    HOW, I don’t know. But even just the idea that these may be possible? It’s such a huge shift. And it feels so much better. Lighter. Expansive. Warmer.

    So. Let “How could I?” be your guide for a bit. See how that feels for you.

     

  • 2 simple ways to combat money stress and recentre yourself

    2 simple ways to combat money stress

    If you’re in a reasonably stable position but still generally fretting about savings or debt on a daily basis …  that constant low hum of money stress is exhausting.  

    I’ve learned the hard way that if all your mental energy is expended on immediate money worries and needs from day-to-day, you won’t have any left over to actually plan for the future, make good strategic decisions and focus on moving forward. If you’re anything like me, this spills over into other areas of your life like work (leading to underperforming) and relationships (leading to isolation).

    Worrying intensely about not having enough often distracts you from actually doing anything about it. Wallowing is easy; taking steps to solve the problem is harder.

    Don’t let those feelings overwhelm you!

    Here are two things I try to bring it back to…

    Concrete actions

    What can you do about it right now?

    What would you do if the Terrible Thing came to pass? And then what? And what next? And after that?

    See, you’ve probably got Plans A-D right there, stepped out already.

    Within reason.

    Contingency plans are important, don’t get me wrong. But when you’re too wrapped up in concerns about what could go wrong rather than considering what could potentially go right; if you do the same things and continue the same thought patterns – you’ll find yourself spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

    Fear is a constant companion to me. And rather than letting it steer, I relegate it to the backseat. In the passenger seat, I’d much rather have someone more upbeat.

    Your BEST case scenario

    What if it worked? What if this had legs? What if this were to fly?

    Think better thoughts. Ask better questions. Actively replace those gloomy visions with visions of your ideal outcome instead.

    What if it all went so right?

    A positive, future-oriented approach does wonders for your emotional state.

    And that starts with getting a handle on your fears and your thoughts.

    The thing is, our hypotheses are often way off. We can’t predict things. But we just can’t help ourselves, can we? Our brains are wired to focus on negative. Anticipate risk. Keep us on guard and safe. Which doesn’t serve us well in today’s world; a world where danger is less about mortal risk out there, and more about what we perceive inside our heads.

    And that is never truer than when it comes to money.

    But these two habits can go a long way to curbing the drama of money stress.

    (Liked this? Then you’ll probably love Money Groove, my digital course designed to guide you toward finding your own financial groove and slaying those money demons.)

     

  • I used to be afraid of getting older – but no more

     

    “You’ve changed.”

    Anyone ever said that to you?

    I veer between thinking “at the core, people don’t really change” to “people inevitably change, and it’s a given”.

    What I DO know for sure is that changing your identity is basically a prerequisite to any big, lasting change you want in life.

    I’ve never had a strong sense of self, of who I was, what I liked, what I didn’t like, what I wanted. For various reasons.

    As children, we form our identities based largely on what those around us reflect back to us.

    Honestly, what I had reflected back to me was mostly negative. It’s just how I was raised.

    Thankfully, in adulthood, I’ve surrounded myself with many people who lift me up. Through pure sheer luck careerwise, in particular, I’ve changed how I see myself gradually through the smallest of comments and observations, compounded over time. That helped build a strong foundation where there was nothing before.

    I borrowed their positive beliefs and reflections. I adopted them until I could actually embrace, integrate, incorporate them.

    I find that now I need less external input and validation.

    I can do it for myself.

    The training wheels are off.

    I literally feel more solid inside. Like I am more whole at the core.  I do the shadow work. I bring more consciousness to my days. I’m more aware of my thoughts, feelings, and reactions. I’m integrating all the parts of me, even those I started disconnecting from long ago, that started splitting off in response to difficult situations I couldn’t handle as a child.

    It’s like I was a page in a colouring book that’s now been filled in with gorgeous shading.

    I used to dread ageing. Now, I’m excited for all the time I have left ahead of me. I just keep getting better and better. I know there’s so much more to do, learn, and experience. To look forward to. As I’ve reconnected to my body, myself in my physical dimension, my wholeness of mind/body/spirit, the more I can feel things brewing that I look forward to downloading and channelling in the years to come.

    33 was a year of big personal growth. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

  • In my neighbourhood

    I loved Kristen’s post about the pros and cons of her neighbourhood so much, I was inspired to do my own!

    Let’s start with the bad.

    • I  live on a somewhat busy road.
    • There are often loud cars disturbing the vibe.
    • The neighbours on one side have a lot of drama.
    • There’s rubbish always blowing onto the front yard somehow.
    • At the park around the corner, there’s often broken glass, and people in the bordering houses throw bones and other food scraps onto the ground pretty frequently.

    On the plus side, the good things include proximity to sooo many amenities:

    • A park right around the corner, a couple others within walking distance, and several more within 5 minutes’ drive
    • Close to a bike path and walking paths/bush trails
    • Close to petrol stations and shops
    • Close to multiple supermarkets
    • Close to bakeries
    • Close to a pony club, so we often see horses grazing there in the fields
    • Close to the library
    • Close to the pool
    • Close to the mall
    • Close to daycare
    • Close to the doctor
    • Close to the vet
    • Close to the hospital

    The benefits are plenty!

    For several reasons, I don’t see us living here forever any longer.

    But we can appreciate what we have already while still working towards what we want.

  • Stop looking for the silver bullet – the answers are already within

     

    Maybe you want to make more money. You’ve followed the gurus, bought the courses, done the work to uplevel your career or business.

    Maybe you want to do a better job of this whole parenting thing. It’s a constant struggle, battling with your past, as your kids and partner constantly trigger you from minute to minute.

    Maybe you want a better relationship. You’ve listened to podcasts and read blogs, tried a million techniques, but nothing sticks. Maybe things change for a few days, but it never lasts.

    You’ve been searching high and low for the strategies and tactics that are finally gonna make a difference. But at some point, it’s time to change tack. Call it quits. You’re exhausted. It’s all the same stuff, regurgitated info over and over in different guises.

    The truth? Success in whatever you are seeking isn’t found outside of you. 

    Beyond a certain point, the real solution lies within

    What you need is already inside you. 

    All the tactics in the world won’t do much until you sort out your inner stuff.

    The deeper work is the real work. 

    Your brain is used to dealing with people/conflict/setbacks in a certain way. It goes back to what it knows when thrown into those situations, even if those techniques aren’t necessarily helpful.

    The brain is a funny thing, resisting change with all its might. It falls back on what feels safe, and what it knows. Back into well worn patterns, comfortably trodden ground. Autopilot is so powerful. Like when you move house and find yourself taking the route to your old place after work, even though your new place is in the other direction. When you reach to adjust your glasses instinctively, even though you’ve got your contacts in. When you find yourself pulling your hairbrush through empty air, because you chopped most of it off just yesterday.

    It takes time to learn to gravitate towards new actions. To build that muscle memory (remember, the brain is a muscle!) and develop different reactions, physical or otherwise.

    You are more powerful than you know

    I feel as though there’s a tension in this space. For all the empowering talk about creating our own reality, there are so many outside factors – systemic, societal, physical – that shape our reality. Like it or not, there are some things we just can’t control.

    If we can’t control these external elements and we can’t control other people, what’s left?

    Only ourselves. Therapy and coaching will always focus on YOU. We can keep fighting for more equality, system change, justice, influencing bigger things beyond us. But ultimately, the only thing within your guaranteed sphere of influence is you.

    That might feel small. Depressing. But actually, going deeper and committing carries immense power. It changes everything. How you think. How you feel. Then, subsequently, what you do and how you do it.

    It’s hard to articulate and pin down. What they say, though, is true. How you show up makes all the difference. Your energy is palpable, and shifting your energy genuinely does influence the results you get back once you start taking action.

    And it starts within you.

  • Feeling stuck on your healing path? You might be missing the mind-body connection

    the power of the mind-body connection

    I remember the first time I realised the power of the mind-body connection.

    Years ago, I was listening to a guided meditation on the train. As I followed along, I literally felt the pressure and tension around my heart loosen and lighten. The stress and worry that had been weighing on my chest dissipated.

    About a year ago, I heard about somatic therapy on the Over It and On With It podcast. That’s it, I thought. That’s what I need. 

    I found a somatic therapist in the city, a few minutes from my office, and booked a session. It was incredibly awkward. I sat on the couch. I talked and talked and talked. I filled all the silence. She barely said anything.

    And then I felt something within me. Coalescing. Shifting. I felt tingles. I felt hot and cold. I felt this ball, this mass of energy, manifesting inside my body, moving around, and eventually, worm its way toward my right arm, down to my hand, and out of me.

    It sounds batshit crazy, but that is the best explanation I can give you, and that is exactly what happened on that sofa in that hour.

    All I did was sit and speak my truth in this woman’s presence, and that is what happened.

    Later that year, I did a short Zoom session in which the practitioner helped me work through a sticky situation. I identified a person who was the source of my stress, focused on my body, and located her around my heart/chest. She was so stuck there, I couldn’t even get her to turn around 180 degrees.

    We worked on visualising her going down a golden path, and eventually we went our separate ways. She left my body, and I felt immensely relieved.

    I went on to write a boundary-setting email back to that person and felt great about it. (And perhaps amazingly, she responded well to it.)

    What to make of all this?

    I’m a pretty damn practical person. Pragmatic. Realistic. Sceptical. I take a pretty scientific approach to lots of things. I believe what I see. And I also believe what I experience.

    I believe there’s probably a lot that science hasn’t caught up and maybe never will be able to. In invisible planes and dimensions. Even if it weren’t for that… well, as a friend in the social sciences says… this stuff doesn’t really interest white dudes, generally.

    These days I would say I identify as somewhat spiritual; somewhat woo.

    I once worked with a couple of healers (that’s what they called themselves) and did a bunch of research into non-western/alternative medicine to support the course material they were creating. I stepped into a whole new world. Muscle testing. Chakras. I quietly scoffed at it all, but in hindsight… I gotta admit, emotions and trauma most certainly live in the body, and doesn’t it make sense that certain emotions are stored in/associated with certain body parts?

    If we think of emotions as energy in motion … they need to move; they need somewhere to go. That’s why movement and motion is part of completing the stress cycle.

    Instinctively, I realise I’ve always known this. I used to physically shake it off after a stressful interaction, like a dog does (or even when they dry themselves). I’d even meow aloud … that somehow just felt like a good release mechanism, a steam valve of sorts, letting it all move on through and out of me.

    Connecting to the body’s wisdom

    What are your happiest memories? When did you feel you were living and experiencing life to the fullest? When did you feel most alive? Were your senses really engaged? Were you caught up in thoughts, or enjoying the moment – engrossed and engaged in your surroundings, what you felt, sensed, saw, heard, tasted, smelled?

    We often spend our days living in our heads, our minds, and not in our bodies. I know that for me, that disconnection has certainly spawned troubles. The body will tell you when you’ve had enough. It breaks down. Depending how out of touch you are, it might take a few alarm bells. Your body compass will always, however, point you in the right direction.

    I’ve learned to start dropping down into my body and seeing how she feels about any choice I face.

    Does it feel light, expansive, open? Or does thinking about it feel small and constricted? That is a strong indicator of which way to go. Think about how you’ve physically felt when making decisions in the past, and how they turned out. Did you feel heavy, burning, tingling, cold? Use those as a guide to calibrate your body compass. These are all clues pointing you toward or away from something.

    As adults, we tend to detach from our bodies. Reconnecting is an integral part of healing, and the integrated healing that follows can be so powerful.

    Intuition and the inner voice

    I think back to when I was very young. To times my instincts, nudges, intuition were very strong. Times they turned out to be right. It would sound silly to describe those instances, which were hardly consequential, but very powerful and that I’ve never forgotten.

    The older we get, the more we learn to tune out our inner voice. To stifle it with logic. And sometimes we return and learn to listen once again.

    If you feel called to, later in life, you may want to dial back into that internal voice. Because we tend to regret not trusting ourselves.

    And if talk therapy isn’t cutting it anymore for you, like me, I so encourage you to explore somatic options. At that stage, continually mining the same old ground wasn’t helping. There was nothing useful to extract. I had to heal on the physical level, without necessarily having to go back into the experiences and rehash them.