PLEASURE IS A WOMAN’S BIRTHRIGHT
Pleasure or getting your goodies from life is a woman’s birthright, yet so often it’s swept aside and comes last on the list. I believe that living a life of pleasure is like a functioning muscle: Too much compromise too much putting others first and it becomes slack.
Women have somehow managed to become so geared to compromise, happily settling for “I’m tired, but I’m ok” most days; burning themselves out in the pursuit of career achievement or being a supermum; or allowing themselves to become rather invisible and simply functioning instead of truly living.
They rarely take the time to indulge themselves or take real pleasure in something…pleasure is seen as a luxury – yet researchers have found that levels of nitric oxide (a gas) in the body are linked to the how much pleasure or how much stress you allow yourself each day. Pleasure can be so many things: It’s watching a film that makes you cry buckets; volunteering at the homeless shelter; going for a walk along the coastal path in the rain; doing yoga, wearing yoga wear that lifts you up so you look your fabulous best (of course!); reading a novel from beginning to end; having a champagne fuelled lunch with the girls and laughing until you your face hurts; indulging in a hot bubble bath with a glass of wine and music; having wild and exhilarating sex! Even the thought of pleasure gives you pleasure! So in a nutshell the more pleasurable your day/ your existence the higher your levels of nitric oxide and in turn the higher level of immunity to disease.
So the next time your partner asks you what you really want to do Friday night, instead of settling for “a video and take out” which is really what he’d like, how about saying instead: “I want you to massage my feet with warm oil, look deeply into my eyes and really see me” or “I want to sit naked at the table except for a pair of heels and I want you to feed me morsels of food whilst making me laugh madly!”
My philosophy’s all about helping women regain that confidence, sense of self and real energy to do whatever gives them pleasure and makes them feel great about themselves… and to do it a lot! Then you have surplus to give. When you have surplus you have energy for life.
Marina Jacoby * Yoga instructor, yogawear designer /Director of Marina J Yogawear
Have you ever noticed how in winter we seem to lose some of our drive. In spring we come alive at the prospect of sun and fresh air. We have so many plans and are full of hope. A new start. Summer arrives and we seem to have more time to do things. We feel more energised, ready to face the world. We even get motivated to look after our physical bodies and try to get fit. As the day dawn’s new hope awakens. Inspiration waits for us.
In winter, we seem to lose momentum. We become lethargic as our energy levels drop. Like a bear, all we want to do is hibernate. We feel tired and we seem to lose our inspiration. That drive that seems to keep us going through the summer months dissipates with time during the winter months.
Have you ever noticed how our energy levels drop after a few constant days of rain and dark skies? We tend to lose our smile and our sense of humour. All we want is to stay at home and hide from the world, eat comfort food and do nothing. We become easily agitated as we allow things that would ordinarily seem trivial to affect us.
Winter would be perfect if we didn’t have to get up to cold, wet, dark mornings, work all day and only get home as the sun is setting, to face even more work. For many of us getting home is just the start of another shift. Cooking, cleaning, looking after the children; your partner.
Most people do not even enjoy their workplace yet it’s where they spend most of their time. It’s a place where there is constant pressure to perform, office politics, and often, the unrealistic expectations we put upon ourselves.
When our energy levels drop, so do our immune systems. We start to feel depleted. We get lost in our heads. The mind chatter becomes constant and dissolves all sense of clarity. Our emotions start to surface more intensely. The thoughts that are based on emotions take hold to the point that we lose sight of the bigger picture or any sense of logic.
However, the world is what you think it is. Thoughts turn into words which turn into action.
Imagine that your brain is a computer and that the virus is the negative thought pattern in your mind. When you continue to only think of negative thoughts, ideas and experiences, then with time, they start to manifest in your reality. This seems to intensify in winter with the decrease in sunlight, and colder temperatures. It is easier to get lost in our thoughts and allow a distorted reality to take shape. We forget that each experience is merely a lesson that we need to learn. Instead we get caught up in the emotions and lose sight of the lesson. We despair as we fall deeper and deeper into the victim mentality.
An example of this is a client I once had. Everything in her life was wrong and of course it was everyone and everything else’s fault. All she spoke about was doom and gloom, There was not one positive thing that came out of her mouth to the point where she could no longer remember one happy moment in her life. At the age of 32 you would think that there would be at least one happy moment, one good laugh, one joke. It reached the point where she even found it hard to see colours. She had imprisoned herself in her own mind. She was unable to work and relied on anti-depression drugs to get her through the day. This was an attractive, intelligent woman who only two years earlier was a successful lawyer. Sadly she was unable to see her beauty. She had become so critical and full of judgements.
So why do we allow this to happen?
We don’t take into consideration the climate changes which naturally affect our physical and mental bodies. We stop listening to our bodies and continue to push ourselves to the max until these emotions turn into a physical ailment for us to address. Typically we ignore our pain or try to suppress it. This then manifests into a more serious problem. We still keep ignoring our bodies, refusing to nurture ourselves and continue to push hard until we reach breaking point.
A more common example of this is when we start to feel run down, but we still try to maintain the same level of intensity as we do in summer. We do not take into consideration the fundamental changes in the weather patterns when we already understand that without enough sunlight on our skin (vitamin D) we can easily fall into a state of depression. With the colder months our body gets tired and sends signals for us to rest. When ignored, these signals can easily turn into flu symptoms. Continuing to ignore these signals will then often lead to a more serious infection which takes longer for us to recover from. We start to feel vulnerable as fear takes hold.
In summer it is easier to maintain balance and be able to deal with all this. There is the flow of the suns rays to energise us and keep us in a more positive state of being. We swim in the ocean which helps to cleanse and energise our bodies. We walk bare footed on the land which helps to ground our energy and we are more likely to try our hand at keeping fit.
As winter approaches we tend to stay indoors more. Our energy levels drop because we have not found an alternative to compensate us for the loss of sunshine and fresh, outdoor air. We are less social and we tend to feel uninspired.
Have you ever noticed that as soon as the clouds clear and the sun comes out we automatically start to feel more at peace. It’s as if you can breath again for the first time. That incredible feeling when the sun first touches your skin, that gentle warmth. Our moods automatically change once the sun comes out.
We feel lighter, calmer, a fog lifted for that brief moment. The secret is to harness that feeling when ever your body needs it. Not to just sit around and become a victim.
It is important that in winter we listen to our bodies more and try to make the most of the good weather. Enjoy the moment and allow the mind to become still. Take deep breaths now and then and allow yourself to centre. Don’t you find, that it is so much easier to look after other people than to nurture ourselves. We always come last, yet if you can’t look after you then who will? Our bodies actually tell us what they need but we ignore them. Science tells us that without sunlight we will cease to function. One of the key factors in treating MS is vitamin D – sunlight.
Prevention is better than cure. Following are some tools that you can utilise in order to prevent the winter blues. They are natural and effective and the only thing it costs is a little of your time.
Remember; energy flows where attention goes so each time you catch yourself thinking of a negative thought or experience, replace it with a positive thought, feeling or experience immediately. You can visualise the thought or feeling on a canvas. See yourself painting over it with a golden paint and then replace that thought or emotion with a positive thought, emotion or memory. Breathe deep that feeling of freedom, exhilaration, joy and peace. See yourself happy and sooner or later you will start to believe it and thus create it. If, like my client, you find it difficult, then think of the best sex you ever had. I bet you’re smiling right now at the thought. Laughter is the greatest medicine.
There are many tools you can utilise to assist you in dealing with depression. It’s important that you find what resonates for you. There is no right way or wrong way, it is your journey and you must find your truth, what works for you.
Some tools you can use to clear your mind and get the energy flowing are meditation, chi gong, yoga, thai chi, healing treatments and massage to name a few. If anger is an issue, it must also be released physically, so roll the windows up in your car and scream your lungs out, run, surf, ride your bike, whatever works. For me, boxing works the best. I tried punching pillows and found it most frustrating – but hey, it might work for you! In this way, you will not be taking out your frustrations on others.
A good, quick meditation before you start the day is:
- Close your eyes.
- Take deep, gentle breaths – visualising a golden yellow colour like the midday sun coming down from creator (whatever creator is to you). If you can’t visualise it just put the intent or try to sense it.
- Breathe this colour down through the top of the head, down the body and into the naval chakra. (located at the belly button)
- Do not force the breath.
- Feel the stomach expand outwards as you breathe in.
- Stomach goes in as you breath out.
- Breathe out slowly and gently. Visualise the golden yellow colour touching every cell of your body. Stomach goes in as your breath out.
- Imagine this colour flooding your whole body. Your muscles, bones, organs, skin, hair etc
- Do this X 21 breaths
- When completed, continue to take slow breaths and start to wiggle your toes slowly, then your fingers, moving up to the shoulders, neck and head.
- When you are ready, slowly open your eyes.
- To ground your energy (so you’re not so caught up in the head) breathe into the stomach and as you breathe out, visualise or sense golden roots forming out of your feet, going all the way down into the core of the earth. Do this several times as it will help to balance you. This is a simple and effective tool to use each time you are feeling overwhelmed. It’s ideal to do before you have to confront someone, go into a meeting, or anytime you are feeling lost in your head and in need of some clarity.
It’s important to realise that you do have the ability to stop the mind chatter that takes over at times, just as easily as you created it. You have a choice and it is your responsibility to make peace within your world. The happiness and joy you seek can only come from within. By nurturing ourselves, we are able to create a constant flow of energy in our bodies, which makes the flow of life much smoother. Regardless of seasons, when you use these techniques you are able to balance your emotions with much greater ease. Just try it, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Remember you have the ability to create your reality. You always have a choice.
Ian Berry, a Professional Speaker, once told me years ago that when faced with a terminal illness, he developed an “Attitude of Gratitude” and those words have stuck with me ever since that conversation. Today, I live my life with that exact same attitude, and not a day goes by where I don’t say thanks for the wonderful things I have in my life. I am not just talking about material things either, I give thanks for my eyesight, my friends, for knowing the feeling of love, my family, the smell of the sea. The list is endless.
My advice for people who feel unhappy is to take themselves off to a serene place, maybe the sea, under a tree or anywhere else provided by nature with pen and paper and start writing.
Start writing pages and pages of all the good things you have to be grateful for. This helps to change your thoughts into being more harmonious, and a more positive feeling starts to flow from there.
At times in my life, when I felt overwhelmed, fearful or any other negative feeling, I have made it a daily ritual to start my day with a gratitude journal, and write down all the wonderful things that I have to be grateful for.
Whenever you feel a negative vibration, you owe it to yourself to change it immediately. This is the most important thing you will ever learn – you cannot attract the things or people you want in your life whilst you are in a negative vibration. Again, writing, thinking, or even singing how grateful you are for the little things in your life, you can’t help to start to feel more positive.
Another secret to happiness is in the act of giving which also puts your mood into a higher vibration. For those of us who live the Law of Attraction, we know that one of the most crucial parts of being able to receive is to feel comfortable about the act of giving. If you believe you can’t afford to give, you are not in the right vibration to receive, by openly and wilfully giving, you are helping yourself as well as others. Giving does not necessarily have to be monetary, you can always give your time or volunteer your services to a charity.
Make a habit of waking each morning in deep gratitude for what you already have. Every day is a blessing. For example, most of us have our eyesight -– be grateful for that. Be grateful for even the smallest things.
Some of my happiest moments have been when I have gone down to the beach and watched the sunrise on the horizon. It is in those moments that I am truly grateful for the wonderful life and experiences I have. I feel truly grateful for the people I meet, the joy I experience, the air I breathe, the meals I eat, my ability to run, the laughter of a baby, when I see my daughters, or when a stranger smiles at me. The list is endless.
I purchased a beautiful green crystal one day. I placed on my sink in the bathroom. Every time I wash my hands I can’t help but see its exquisite beauty, and it reminds me to say, “Thank you.”
Debbie Carr is a director of the True Colours Group and Coyote Management International. You can find her atwww.truecoloursrecruitment.com, www.truecolourstraining.com, www.truecolourskeynotes.com andwww.coyote.com.au/debbie_carr.html and you can read her story at www.seemingly-sane.com
In 1990 the World Health Organisation declared depression to be world health burden number four and predicted it would be number two by 2020. At the New Zealand Mental Health at Work Conference in March 2003 it was stated that in any 6 month period 25% of people in this country will have a mental illness. In both developing and developed regions, depression is women’s leading cause of disease burden. Depression is referred to as the modern plaque and affects peoples ability to perform across a wide section of activities of daily living. The stresses of daily living, including grief, low morale and poor self esteem affect decision making, concentration and productivity.
The practiced application of good humour in the workplace can aid in the reversal of this modern day malady and create a fun and productive environment.
Humour in business is not about clowning. It is about demonstrating that you are a warm, responsive, intelligent and considerate person. Learning to understand humour is no different to learning to understand any other business communication tool. Humour is a creative tool that sharpens the mind, engenders positive attitudes, fosters friendships, encourages mateship, generates optimism, boosts enthusiasm, restores hope and is simply fun.
Humour takes a positive and a negative form. Using humour in introspection is the first step to overcoming the imperfect and contradictory aspects of business communication. Being able to laugh at yourself enables you to feel good about yourself. Positive humour is constructive, appropriate, relevant and strengthens relationships, whereas negative humour is inappropriate, destroys and alienates. There are three basic types of wit or humour; sarcasm or laughing at others; nit wit or laughing at the wrong time; clowning wit or laughing with others. It is appropriate to aim to be amusing, not abusing.
In the world of comedy, humour is about creating maximum laughs per minute as a measure of success. In business being good humoured is about creating an open, positive, receptive and cheerful mood with successful communication the end product. The greatest challenge for every business leader is finding a way through the human capacity to create chaos, finding the good within each individual and then harnessing that to support business outcomes. By getting out of the office and managing by walking around you will get to know your people and the rewards they want from the workplace .
You can optimize this less formal communication by having fun, being responsive and in the moment. Use all these encounters to generate goodwill. If you made someone else’s day every day your business would grow exponentially. All you have to do is catch people doing something right and acknowledge it. Maintain this sort of environment and you would see improved and sustained bottom line results.
The first Humour in Business conference was convened in Australia in 2002, following a survey that revealed a FUN workplace would make employees more productive and could even mean the boss had to pay them less. The study by consulting company Customer Care Solutions in Sydney found that 81 per cent of people believed a fun work environment would make them more productive while 55 per cent said they would take less pay to have more fun at work. Ninety-three per cent of respondents said that laughing on the job helped to reduce work-related stress. The survey of 2,500 employees was released ahead of the “Humour Summit”—a conference which looked at the issue of fun in the workplace and its impact on a business’ bottom line.
Recent research done in Victoria University by Professor Janet Holmes and Maria Stubbe confirms that effective workplace communication has many facets and that humour along with small talk and repetition play an important part. They found that feelings of solidarity were fostered when workers contributed to office humour. People were considered to be part of the team and these workplaces tended to be happier . They also cited subordinates using humour to contest their superiors, and as a self-depreciation device defusing the pressure when they know they have done something stupid. ( Full research results are available in their book , Holmes, Janet and Maria Stubbe 2003. Power and Politeness in the Workplace. Harlow Essex: Pearson Education.)
The qualities that mark people who excel in real life, who have successful personal relationships, and who are stars in the workplace have nothing to do with IQ. Daniel Goleman US Author of Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ says those qualities include self awareness, impulse control, persistence, zeal and self motivation, empathy and social deftness. These are all evident in people who are good humoured.
Combine this thinking with Howard Gardner, Professor at Harvard Business School, who expounds the theory that we have in fact eight or more intelligences including linguistic, musical, physical, analytical, practical, intra-personal and inter-personal. People with strong inter-personal intelligence who have the ability to get on with other people, and are good at getting things done with and through others. These people are more likely to be good humoured.
All of these intelligences relate to individual core competencies and learning styles in a workplace setting. When the needs of the job are a match for the needs of the person then performance outcomes and productivity stand to grow exponentially. These intelligences are easily determined and isolate strengths and passions of employees. Use them to find out what makes your people sing and then create a plan to help them enjoy their time at work. When you do they will bring a new zeal to encounters with your customers and be the source of increased revenue as a result.
The art of improvisation is a skill developed by actors that boosts creative thought and potentiates deliberate brain activity. It is not uncommon for participants in programs to quickly develop skills that allow them to perform five or six complex tasks simultaneously. It is a process that involves unlearning old habits and thinking laterally to create new solutions to problems. It’s application in business is relevant as decision making abilities are markedly enhanced, saving time and money and therefore improving productivity. Improv has a pattern that can be learned and is intentionally reliant on the deliberate creation of humour.
It is no great surprise that people perform to optimum when they are having fun, doing what they love, in a high trust environment that rewards and acknowledges their efforts. Being good humoured is a state of mind. In that state we are more likely to laugh and be the trigger for others to laugh. Laughter is a great medicine. Like intense exercise, laughter increases brain levels of serotonin and endorphins that can calm and relax the mind. In that more relaxed state people are more productive. The notion of being able to lift your bottom line by developing a high trust environment where people are rewarded for having fun and doing what they love ….is not as elusive as it seems!
People get beaten up enough by life; they don’t need to get beaten up when they come to work. The new adaptations to the Health and Safety Act see employers and employees having a shared responsibility for the provision of a stress free, safe work environment. The people who walk through your doors each day are affected by life events. Positive relationships can be built using good humour and the mutual respect that ensues contributes significantly to a safe and productive workplace.
Pat Armitstead RGN, Dip Ed, Dip FTM
World’s First Joyologist
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I never imagined I’d be writing an article for working parents. My life was full enough as it was, and there’s never a “right time” for a career woman to start a family. Yet here we are. So is it possible to have it all, or is that just a pipedream?
In my pregnancy I was open to the idea of taking a career break for a year or two, but by the time Ethan was four weeks old it was clear that wouldn’t be the best thing for any of us! I’ve learned that as a working parent your career can not only survive, but thrive. Here are a few of the things that have helped me maintain my sanity and my career:
Ditch the downers. Being a mum is the hardest job I’ve ever taken on: Managing million dollar budgets and hundreds of workers is a walk in the park by comparison. So I knew from the get go I couldn’t do this on my own. Ethan’s fabulous preschool, my gorgeous family and friends and my cleaner have been pivotal supporters! And as for those friends and colleagues who weren’t supporters…I learned to avoid them at all costs!
Focus on what matters most. We’re all different, but the point is to first get clear about what matters most to you. Only then can you clearly communicate it to your family, your friends and your boss. What matters most for my husband and me is that our entire family is happy, cared for and intellectually challenged. A career break was not going to deliver these outcomes to any of us – including my son who enjoys the stimulation of preschool just as I enjoy the challenge of my work!
Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! If your pre-children job doesn’t fit with what matters most, your first instinct may be to find a new job, but first, consider what you’d be leaving behind and what a new job might mean: Six months learning curve with possible overtime and increased stress. So could you do your old job part time, as a job share or with more flexible working arrangements? It may not be your most productive or rewarding time, but it will keep up the momentum and ease you back in.
Play to your strengths. There’s no one more efficient in the office than that parent who ploughs through work in double quick time to be out of the door and at the daycare centre before closing time! There’s no overtime; no long coffee breaks; often no breaks at all… perfect in a GFC for keeping productivity up and business overheads down! I was amazed at how my own productivity picked up. For the first time I truly embraced the 80:20 rule. I can’t believe the impact this has had on my business: Productively I’m twice the woman I used to be!
Adopt a “need to know” attitude. I’m aware that although my son is the apple of my eye, my colleagues may not share my delight or have interest in my parenting dramas! If you have a sick child and can’t make a meeting or have to leave in time for daycare or it’s a non daycare day, simply suggest an alternative time. Going into the details of parenting problems only perpetuates the stereotypes about working parents.
Be kind to yourself. It’s very difficult for working parents to find time for themselves. Outside of work the guilt factor drives you to spend every free moment with your family. Suddenly you come last. But taking good care of yourself – physically, emotionally and intellectually – is essential for maintaining your resilience. You’ll make a huge difference by eating well, exercising and finding a little window of ‘me time’ every week.
Enjoy the journey. I distinctly remember the first time my son smiled, because it happened when I thought things couldn’t get any harder and was a pivotal moment. As a working parent you might not be able to stay back to meet a deadline; promotions may be fewer and farther between; and you’ll have to deal with challenges that are simply out of kilter with any career plan. But those smiles are worth more than you’ll earn in your lifetime, so enjoy them while you can.
About Jen Dalitz
The SheEO! Jen Dalitz is obsessed with getting more women into leadership roles, in our workplaces, businesses and communities. That’s why she started sphinxx and why she writes about, speaks about, mentors and consults on topics relating to women in business. As an executive and business consultant, Jen experienced first hand the challenges women face as they climb the corporate ladder; and the impact on the bottom line when female talent is under-utilised. She created sphinxx to support women on their leadership journey, and to help employers in retaining and developing their high potential women. Sphinxx provides support and services to assist businesswomen in managing their work and life priorities, and leadership development to help them scale the heights in their careers. For more information or comment from Jen Dalitz, please contact Sophie Cross on 0421 996810 or email email@example.com
I left school just after my 16th birthday with no qualifications – not even School Certificate. As I type today I own a small speaking bureau as well as now a director of the True Colours Group – which has three companies: training, recruitment and female speaking agency. Not bad for a girl who was voted the least to succeed in life from school.
I have always been an adventurous risk taker. It’s part of my natural make-up and I had to take risks and leave secured paying jobs to start two different businesses. It’s not for the faint hearted, but if you don’t leave your security at times, and try for something bigger how will you ever know?
During my path to today, I have endured three major crisis’s in my life. 1998 my brother took his life, in 1999 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and in 2001 I separated from my husband. Of course since then to 2010 as I write this, I have had many other dramas as well, however to me they don’t compare to the first three. Building my first business, nearly sent me bankrupt yet I never gave up. I never gave up my vision for myself, my ability to laugh at life and myself and keeping a positive mindset. Most recently in 2009 I was put in hospital as my Crohn’s flared up and I was in a bad way. I refused medication and put myself into a frame of mind that made me believe, without a doubt, that if I drastically change my diet I will be better. In just under a week those close to me were in awe of how I had put myself back into remission. I put it down to mindset and diet.
I see many people, particularly women, who are trapped in lives they don’t love. Whether it is in a marriage they feel they can’t leave, a job they hate, the dream they have to own their own business but can’t take the risk, wishing they could lose weight, wishing they could follow their dream of being a singer and the list goes on. The reason they don’t do it is because they are too scared. They are too comfortable being stuck, miserable or whatever. It’s easy to keep the status quo.
When I joined forces with my business partner, Tanya, to start True Colours Group I left a job I had as an Executive Recruiter and we were in a recession. Recruitment is the worse business to start up in a recession, but I could see how we could do it by offering a value-added service. It worked! Today we are now launching programs on Women in Leadership as well as a female speaking agency. We see a great need to help women get into leadership and well paid roles.
With my illness, I could have gone ‘oh woe is me’ and focused my whole energy on how sick I was. Instead, I decided to focus my energy on becoming extremely fit. I believed that fitness would keep my Crohn’s Disease in remission, and it did! The only reason it flared up again last year was because I had slackened off my strict diet and run myself down.
Losing my brother to suicide was the most horrendous thing I have gone through, however, someone once gave me some good advice. He said, “Don’t put your brother behind you, put him beside you and walk on.’ That is exactly what I did.
There were times when I was building the first speaking agency that I had no income and was living by myself. I worked 14 hour days, I didn’t sleep and I was in a bad way. However, I kept going and going and eventually an opportunity arose where I was trained in Recruitment. I could see how this could be a valuable skill for me. Today I combine the two and run a recruitment company.
My advice to anyone who wants to step out of their comfort zone is this. Do it! However, be prepared to fall and pick yourself up time and time again. You may not have to, but if you do and you learn from your experiences I can guarantee you that life becomes much more interesting for you. Learn by your mistakes and move on, after all mistakes are just experiences. Life is one big adventure, and it can be a happy one if you choose to follow your dreams and take risks.
Debbie Carr is a director of the True Colours Group and Coyote Management International. You can find her at www.truecoloursrecruitment.com, www.truecolourstraining.com, www.truecolourskeynotes.com andwww.coyote.com.au/debbie_carr.html and you can read her story at www.seemingly-sane.com