5 ways to add more fun to your life!

Hello gorgeous,

I am writing to you on day 3 of a migraine, so I know I need what I am suggesting today at least as much as you do J. You see, I take my life seriously, and I think that’s good, but I also take everything seriously and that’s too much. I work, I take care of my family, make sure there is food on the table every day, I take on new clients, I help my daughters with homework, I feed the dogs, clean the aquarium… And I realize I miss feeling light and joyful and having fun and being spontaneous. I miss my inner child, the free kindred spirit that’s deep inside of me…

But that being said, where do I find the switch, how do I access it again and what does it mean in practice?

It’s not about changing who I am; I appreciate the fact that I am reliable and serious. But it’s about changing some habits… So here are some examples of what you can do to add more fun:

  • Find a new hobby: I made a few people laugh when I announced I had taken up pole dancing, well that’s a good start! And now I even made my friends (and kids) curious and eager to try, so we are doing it together this afternoon (am praying that my migraine will stop before then…). I also stopped drumming and took up bass guitar instead (I thought that was one of the reasons for migraine). I don’t know about you, but I love the energy of beginnings, I love starting something. So it doesn’t matter if I don’t become a good bass guitar player, it matters that I am trying and having fun with it…
  • Reduce stress: park your activities and duties for say 10 minutes (they will still be there when you come back to them) and meditate for 10 minutes, or dance, but give your mind a rest. You can use the Pomodoro method for working: put a timer for 25 minutes of uninterrupted work and then relax, take a break for 5 minutes before you start again.
  • Laugh more: if, like me, you don’t laugh that easily, find first people, movies that make you laugh and make a list (one of my favorite funny movies is A fish called Wanda, have you seen it?). And get those on DVD or downloaded so that it’s easy for you to watch and laugh!
  • Befriend a fun person, hang out with a kid: laughing is contagious, my youngest daughter has a laugh so contagious she can get the whole room to laugh with her without even knowing why. Be with people who make you laugh, who cheer you up, who always say something funny…
  • Dance! Put songs from your teenage time, songs that you can’t help but move when you hear them on the radio, songs that you danced to when you were going to the disco, put the Mamma Mia (or Fame) DVD and let yourself go crazy, nobody’s looking anyway!

So, what do you do to have more fun? Let me know!

If you are not having fun, you are doing something wrong.

Take good care of yourself and enjoy life!

Much love, Madeleine

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My top 20 Self-Care practices

Hello gorgeous,

A few days ago, I picked my word for 2018 and I encourage you to do the same, so that you have this one guide when it comes to making choices during the year, as in: does it serve me and my objective? Mine is Balance, as I want to pay special attention and care to my health this year, and I want to balance work, family life, learning, enjoying and time for myself. Life is always a balancing act anyway, but this year that’s my objective. So what’s your word?

It then got me thinking about New Year’s resolutions, and was there anything I wanted to commit to. I am not a big fan of committing to a long list of things that I think I should be doing, to then forget about then, or even worse, remembering I am not doing them (and feeling guilty about it)… So instead I decided to make a list of 20 Self-Care practices that I could use whenever I wanted. So here’s my top 20, I hope this can inspire you to do your own list (I also give you a blank one to use here after) and keep it close so you can actually use it often!

top 20 self care

top 20 self care-blank

Take good care of yourself and enjoy life!

Much love, Madeleine

Why control is an illusion…

Hello gorgeous,

I feel I am forced to continue on my new favorite topic: letting go…. My test results are in and all is normal (which is very good news of course!), I am doing my best to relax and not fill my agenda like I used to, and still the headache is keeping me company… Maybe the issue here is that I am trying too hard…

On Tuesday I was having my singing lesson, I was for once not recording my lesson (trying to preserve my battery!), and my scales were better than normal. I thought, maybe I removed the pressure of recording myself? Then my teacher asked me to let go of the control when singing the songs, and what came out after that was better than before… So that was a good lesson, that I’d better not control what comes out of my mouth 😉

On Friday, in a conversation, we came to talk about control freak people, and how by trying to control everything and everybody around them, they end up with the contrary of what they want (rebellion, abandon, loneliness…).

And yet, while looking for a quote of control I came across so many of them preaching self control… I think we really need to be really careful with that. I agree that we have the power to control our thoughts, our mind, although realizing at the same time how difficult that is. But I don’t believe we need to be self-controlling all the time, otherwise we loose all the fun ;-)! Do small children control themselves? Don’t they have (a lot) more fun than we do?

So, as the quote says, the only thing we can control is the present moment. So I would say, let’s make the most of it. Let’s ask our inner child what she would want, at this minute, and how she would like to feel. Let’s listen to her, as she is a part of us that we tend to forget about, and she needs us to provide nourishment and to respect her needs, because they are our needs too.

we only have control, over two moments in our lives_ here and now.Randi G Fine

I wish you a wonderful week!

Much love, Madeleine

How to let go…

Hello gorgeous,

I felt yesterday that I had finally let go of some pressure (meaning I did not feel like a pressure cooker anymore ;-)) and I started wondering how and what exactly happened for me to get there. I already wrote on this topic (click here), but here are my new insights on this topic:

  • I review priorities constantly (that is, when something happens that disturbs my current schedule!). At the time of writing, I should have been tasting wine with our wine club, but my younger daughter was sick yesterday evening so we got her back home and decided to keep her here (she was at my mum’s). So, while I miss a nice tasting, I am home and relaxing, and happy I can just be here (and have the time to write this without stressing)!
  • I try to be less in control, still pretty much organized, but at least more welcoming of the unplanned. We organized this week-end, for our friends from our Dutch wine club, a wine tour, packed (probably a bit too much!) with visits to wine estates… We were already late for lunch and tasting number one because of flight delays, so we called to suggest we could pre-order our dishes to facilitate the chef’s schedule, but it was fine anyway. On day 2 the same happened, when we were still busy with our first tasting and realizing we were going to be late for the next one… But, at the end of the day, none of that is a big deal, right? People are very understanding when you tell them, and I f we had missed one completely, then so be it! I am just learning to pack our schedule less for the next wine tour! (Gosh that sounds familiar too!!!)
  • I took myself (and things) less seriously; I attach less importance to what happens around me. It doesn’t mean I come last though! (Especially when today is Mother’s day in France!). It just means I let things slide without getting attached to them, and I trust more that everything is going to be ok. This weekend, it’s 10 of us at home. There is no way I can take care of everything or everyone, but I trust it’s all going to work out, with the tastings and the rest!

So, could you also help yourself by taking things with a bit more lightness too? And find your own healthy dose of letting go (without abandoning all responsibilities on the way!)? Sometimes, just by asking yourself questions like: So what is most important to me right now? Can I do something about this or not? (If not : let go please!!!)

Let me know what your experience is!

If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe.Joe Rogan

I wish you a wonderful week!

Much love, Madeleine

The universe has a sense of humor…

Hello gorgeous,

My headaches finally seemed to disappear this week, after a month, and I also tried to take better care of myself and of my agenda. But something happened of Friday that threw me off again, and then I had it back for the night… I followed the GPS to go to an appointment, but it made me go into the heart of a small village. Unfortunately, Small village = Narrow streets (which was not indicated on any sign in the village itself…). So I found myself blocked while trying to make a turn to end my trip in this maze of streets. And I scratched the car. And I recognized I was not going to make it on my own, so I called a guy working outside for help. He came and guided me until I was safe and could go out of this place. Safe, but seriously annoyed. I was proud of not having done any damage to any car for the last 15 years, and here I was with a big scratch…

But ok, I can only accept it and move on now. This morning, I finally got the message… Thinking back of the car, I was trying to fit something too big (our big car) in something too small (the narrow streets of Malemort), and I could see the relationship between that and my life as it stands now, trying to fit too much in an already busy schedule. I always believed that the more you did, the more you could do. I now admit that there’s a limit to that, which is when my head explodes… Even though it should be before it explodes 😉

So, my personal lesson, once again, is one of self-care. I seem to get reminders and not take them into consideration, so then I get a big one, or even 2, big enough so that I have to stop and look at them (and get some help!).

You always preach (or teach) what you need to learn, and yes I do advocate self-care, but now I need to apply it to myself too… So, ladies, can you promise me not to make the same mistakes as I do, and take good care of you, or ask for help before it gets unmanageable? Remember, it’s not a weakness to ask for help, and none of us is supposed to be a superwoman (even though it would be really fabulous!). So, to honor this, start with taking a 5 minutes break now!

I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent.Caring for myself is an act of survival.Audre Lorde

I wish you a wonderful week!

Much love, Madeleine

5 tips for finding balance

Hello gorgeous,

After 2 weeks into a new part-time job (on top of my other activities of course), I am still busy finding my own work-life balance, as I have the impression that I am constantly juggling. I recently read somewhere (can’t remember where, sorry!) that there is no such things as balance, there is always going left and then going right and then left, but there is never one point of equilibrium in the middle, we are constantly moving (a bit like a GPS that adjusts its course all the time). And maybe that’s true indeed. Finding balance seems like the Holy Grail…

But equally, when your life is forcing you to review who you are and what you stand for, you will most probably be looking for a new equilibrium, and going left and right a few times before settling somewhere in the middle.

I think it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • We (well, actually, everybody on earth ;-)) are work in progress, and we will always be. And that’s a great thing! Because it gives hope! Remember, “the only thing constant in life is change”, said Heraclitus a long time ago… Consequently, we never gonna get it right, because we will always want more, or something different, so we’d better be at peace with that upfront!
  • Our priorities change, our taste changes. What you want today might not be the same tomorrow. When I review my Be Do Have list, I adjust it, I remove and I add things on my list. The basis might be the same (I am still an avid learner and I still want a new car ;-)) but things that had priorities a few months ago don’t have the same now. So take time to regularly review your priorities!
  • Let’s take one day at a time. In any given day, do you have enough things that give you energy, versus things that drain your energy? Or maybe you have more, because you took a day off and it was all for you ;-). And if you don’t, how can you still balance this day with something positive and dear to your heart?
  • Life is testing us. Every. Single. Day. Don’t you get that feeling too? You declare you want something, and then something else is coming, like: are you sure? How about that instead? Life is proposing new lessons every day, and new quizzes too! We get to choose whether we want to learn this lesson today – or not. If not, the opportunity will come back at another time. So if learning it today is too much to ask, it’s ok to leave it for later…
  • Do not compare, I repeat, do not compare yourself to other people. You will always find someone who can do more, better, quicker etc. But comparing yourself to others is a killer, as you will never be satisfied that way. You may, however, compare yourself to who you were before, as long as it’s in your favor 😉 Yes, we get older, maybe we can do less than we used too, but my God, look at how much wiser we have become and all the things that we have accomplished!

There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.” ― Alain de Botton

Have a wonderful week!

Much love, Madeleine

Harmony, self-care and egotism

Hello gorgeous,

You might think it’s a weird combination of words I am using today… And you must know as well how much I recommend self-care and self-love, because it all starts with our selves…

Self-care and harmony:

I believe we can’t have a harmonious relationship with an other if we are not properly taking care of ourselves and of our needs. Taking good care of ourselves means that we are the ones to fulfill our needs and that we are not expecting another human being to do it for us. Let me give you a few examples:

  • So if we need a good belly laugh, how can we give it to our self? Maybe by watching one of our favorite comedians on YouTube, or that comedy that we like so much and laugh at every time again?
  • If we need tenderness, can we maybe find it in a good cuddle with our pet, or in a big hug with a friend, or by resting or our couch wrapped in a cozy blanket?
  • If we need to vent, whom can we call for that? Or can we maybe write it down on our journal to get it out of our system?

You see, it’s not about being able to give everything to ourselves, but it’s about knowing what will give us what we need and acting on it, thereby not expecting anybody else to know what we want or need without saying and to be able to foresee our wants and needs.

When we get to that place, any relationship will automatically be more harmonious as we are not expecting them to fill our holes; we have no holes to fill…

And from that place of inner fulfillment, it’s also a lot easier to give and to take care, to be nice and gentle for others, as we are already being taken care of.

Self-Care and egotism:

That’s where it gets tricky. When does self-care become too much, when does a healthy dose of self-care become egotism? How can we discern between the two?

Here’s the dictionary definition for egotism: “An excessive regard for one’s own talents or achievements; conceit, self-importance; acting with only one’s own interests in mind.”

It is, as always, when it becomes excessive that something is not so healthy anymore.

So how can we stop before, and can we even?

I am not sure, let’s say it does take practice… Mostly, we won’t recognize it before it’s done, before we said that thing that was not so nice, that felt like we did not care about the other, because we were so much busy with our self. With a bit of luck, the other person won’t hold it against us (for too long) and will let us know of our selfishness. With less luck, we will get it back like a boomerang… But when that happens a few times, I guess we should then start to notice and pay more attention to what we say and how we say it, to not let it happen. As I doubt that’s really who we are and what we want… Here’s a quote that sums it up for me:

“Never allow your ego to diminish your ability to listen.” Gary Hopkins

And I want to ask my friends: if I am ever guilty of egotism, please let me know so that I can correct my course immediately 😉

“You are only afraid if you are not in harmony with yourself.” ― Hermann Hesse

Have a wonderful week!

Much love,

Madeleine

Hold On Help is on the way ☺

Hello gorgeous,

(And yes I know Whitney Houston is singing that ;-))

About a week ago, I manifested something I had asked for: a part-time job to complete my current activities and bring more ease to our finances. We first celebrated that properly, but with time passing, I started getting worried (about being able to do it all…) and having difficulties falling asleep. It culminated with a back pain yesterday, more than enough signs for me to stop and listen to myself. I cancelled all planned activities for this weekend in order to move as little as possible, and take as much rest as possible. I also wore my special belt to support my back.

So why am I telling you all this? Because I had to think about Support in general, the one we give to our self and the one we receive, the one we ask for and the one we receive without asking, and I felt it was important to share my ideas about that.

  • Obviously, I believe we should be the first ones to look at what we need and to give it to ourselves as much as possible. So… Is it rest we need, is it a comforting shoulder, is it a place to stay to escape our not-so-healthy environment for a few days, is it somebody we can delegate things to (like cleaning or cooking), is it to plan less (appointments, clients, whatever) in our agenda, is it more exercise, more self care, or a big hug? Let’s see for ourselves what would help us get out of worry / overwhelm / funk… In my case, it really was a mix of those so I ended up resting a lot, clearing my agenda, delegating the cleaning for the next 4 months, and promising myself to not overbook myself (although I need to be held accountable for that by my friends!)
  • Many of us have difficulties asking for help. We might feel too vulnerable and don’t want to let people see this aspect of our selves. Or maybe we think we will be “too much” to others. And yet, what others think of us is only a reflection of who they are, not who we are. So if we don’t allow that from us, it simply means this is something we repress from ourselves, we don’t want to see it, to be vulnerable, to be a burden… But on the other hand, doesn’t people who show their vulnerability touch us, and how often do we think our friends are a burden?
  • So, as a first step, how about simply being honest with our family/loved ones and sharing our truth: admitting we are entering our cave but would love to be pulled out of it, or that we wish to be left alone for a while until we decide to resurface? Or that we would love them to come for a tea and a hug without having to ask for it? Our best friends will know anyway that something is going on, be it because we don’t give news, or because they notice it in our voice…
  • How about asking your invisible team for help? Help in manifesting support, creative ideas, clearing your agenda, whatever. I, for one, am guilty of not doing that often enough, whereas we are told that they are simply waiting for us to ask…
  • Even though it might still be a stretch, try and ask at least one person for one thing that you need and that would help you feel better.
  • And you know what: when you help yourself by doing all those things, you automatically get help from others too (it’s the famous “God helps those who help themselves” in action…)

So go on and be a good friend to yourself!

The only way to have a friend is to be one.

Have a wonderful week!

Much love,

Madeleine

How to use language to lighten up your life ☺

Hello gorgeous,

Have you noticed how often you used words like “I need to …, I should …, I must…”.

I have! And I am probably guilty of doing it as well, but as always it is a lot easier to detect it in conversations with others when they say something like that 😉

My girlfriends know me by now and they are already used to paying attention to that if they don’t want me to notice and stop them and ask them: “Really, you need to do that” or “Should you …?”. The other one that I often hear – and this one I haven’t yet managed myself to stop using, is “I want…”.

There are entire books dedicated to the use of language, I read one or two on that topic (“Conscious language: The logos of now” by Robert Tennyson Stevens), but I simply want choose here to give you the easiest ways to replace the most common ones:

  • Instead of: “I need to do that, I should do that, I must do that, I have to do that”. Use: “I choose to do that”, or “I decide to do that”. In the first case you are a victim, in the 2nd you are responsible for your actions, and that’s quite a big difference! Other options could be: I claim, I have, I deserve, I enjoy.
  • Instead of: “I want to be so and so”, say “I am so and so” or “I choose to be so and so”. Using “I want to” is only declaring your want to the Universe, which will conspire to keep it as a want (and not give it to you!!!). “I am” is the most powerful, and “I choose” is pretty good too!
  • On top of that, we also often use negative sentences, like: “I can’t, I don’t know” … or with negative words like “blocked, hard” etc. You can always rephrase the sentences in a positive way, even though it might feel like it’s only an affirmation you repeat like a mantra and it does not yet feel like your reality. E.g. “It’s too hard” can become “I choose to make it easy”
  • Another one you could remove from your vocabulary is “try”. Saying “I’ll try…” is simply giving yourself a chance to escape or to not succeed… I suggest replacing it by “I will”… Because then you commit to doing something, you are doing your part of the work!
  • And please please please never again say: “This is killing me…” if you don’t wan’t to get sick!!!

FRENCH

Even though there is a lot more to language than what I just presented you, if you can pay attention to your use of words and already make those few and small changes, I guarantee you will already feel lighter! And already paying attention and becoming conscious of the words you say is a good first step :-).

Have a wonderful week!

Much love,

Madeleine