A self-care plan for my career break

As someone who has decided to take a career break for the last couple of months, self-care is something that has been on my mind. Having been in touch with different people who are also on their own breaks, I’ve realised this time can be both exhilarating, exciting, but also just plain scary. For me, it has also felt super doubtful, and very uncertain.

The truth is, adjusting to life outside the workforce can be a stressful experience. While my 9-5 has changed and I’m not filling up my days with spreadsheets, meetings, and tea breaks (ok, I still take just as many tea breaks ), I’ve really begun thinking about my self-care, and what I can do to make sure I am looking after myself while I work out where to next.

So in my own way I’ve put together a small plan for my own self-care while I go through this time, to keep me sane and get me to the other side the job search.

Put my shoes on and get outside

This one has been my saving grace, though at the moment I am healing from a broken toe and haven’t been as active as I would like. But I still put on my walking shoes and try and get outside as much as I can get some air and walk those legs. It’s been a little painful as my poor little toe gets used to pounding the pavement again, albeit slowly (no running, though I can still run for the bus!), but I’m hoping by just getting some movement will remind my body that Krav training is not so far off. I’m relishing the time I do get out in the sun everyday and head to the park; it feels like the biggest bonus to have some time to contemplate, and pet all the dogs that wander over to say Hi.

Enjoy my sleep time

Some might argue this one is self-indulgent and killing my productivity, but instead I’ve chosen to focus on getting a lot of sleep as an opportunity to reset my body clock and just rest. Self -care demands good sleep, If you sleep well, you feel well and I feel it feeds my energy during the day to have laser-focus on the things I’m working on throughout the day.

Good food is my friend

This is the super fun one that I have taken joy in so much. Now I actually have time to cook proper, nutritious lunches for myself and its made a world of difference! When else am I going to have so much time to spend in the kitchen? Reacquainting myself with all these wonderful pieces of shiny metal on my bench tops that I don’t get to use very often has been revelatory ( hello there, juicer), and have allowed me to whip up some delicious meals and juices.

Like sleep, this comes down to one of those habits my body will thank me for, especially in helping cope better with stress levels. Drink more water. Herbal tea works wonders too, including the gut-friendly chamomile and antioxdant-rich Rooibos, and wean yourself off the copious amounts of caffeine. I don’t drink caffeine but others have told me giving it up has worked wonders.

Self Care Career Break

This is an opportunity to grow

Seeing your current circumstances as an opportunity to grow can be challenging— particularly if the situation wasn’t your choice. Even the most positive people have their moments of self-doubt and frustration. This is also when the dreaded question of ‘What if I never find a job again?’ can rear it’s ugly head to the surface. When it gets difficult for me to not be over-run by doubt and self-pity, I make list of all the reasons why I’m awesome, and look at it often. It may feel a little stupid to tell myself that I’ve got great creative skills, and look amazing in baby pink; however, I figure we all have things we’re good at. Neuroscience suggests we’re a product of our own thoughts, and having negative thoughts inhibits our ability to see an opportunity to better ourselves. It’s a perfect time to reflect and think, ‘what do I really want?’.

While  little stressful, this time has been great for taking a step back and figuring out what it is that I really want to dedicate my precious time to.  To help me along, I found: Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

Get Readin’

I read books. A lot of books. I would walk, work, and sleep with a book in my hands if I could. Now is the perfect time to pull out those tomes ( or fire up the kindle) that you’ve been putting off forever because of lack of time, and get reading. You can read after breakfast, in between job applications, or just because you need a break curled up on the couch. The only caveat with this one is to keep your bank-balance in check and not buy so many books. Either discover the library, or if you just can’t help yourself, do like me and find yourself the best used-book stores in town instead. That way you can visit on the reg (almost!) guilt-free.

It doesn’t even matter what you read — fiction or non-fiction; just by picking something your brain will kick into gear and thank you for keeping it active

Self Care Career Break

Play tourist in town

Never had a chance to play tourist in your home town? I admit I haven’t much. Since now, I’ve realised art galleries, museums, cafes, botanic gardens, or even a simple walk around town are interesting  ( and free!) ways to keep the inspiration flowing and provide a little entertainment. Career-breaking can feel a little isolating, so what better way to surround myself with people than by doing a little touristing. I get to see different people ( not the regular weekend crowds), and enjoy quieter time (avoiding those regular weekend crowds). Taking along a camera, notebook, and my latest read, and I’ve got myself some quality ‘me time’.

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Playing tourist at my local flower market

A healthy mind = a healthy me

Learning is my absolute fave thing to do. As an adult ed. student for 4 years, and having worked for an online learning company for another 4, learning something new is a no-brainer. There are lots of free resources online to help keep your mind active. I love Open Culture, and TED Talks as brilliant places to start. When I get online to these sites, it’s almost like going down a rabbit-hole; for an information hoarder like me I find myself in an Aladdin’s cave. I found this playlist recently on TED called Talks for Procrastinators. If you love procrastinating and find yourself having a sudden urge to find out where camels come from (there is a talk!), this is the playlist for you.

Ditto for podcasts on Spotify; and SkillShare; while there is a small price to pay for their  library, there are so many courses on painting, writing, social media, and tech. I’ve become a huge fan of their watercolour projects, and totally nerd out on these some nights instead of Netflix.

Part of having a healthy mind has also been learning to deal with the creeping little voices on my head that come in the middle of the night with persistent negative thoughts. It’s these thoughts that above all else I need to find a way around. Meditation helps, and is something I’ve begun to do on the reg as a way of entering and calming down. While this career break has been entirely my choice, I’m the first one to admit that the path I’ve chosen hasn’t been the easiest, but I know with super strong surety that it will be worth it.

Happy career-break!

K xxx

*I originally posted a version of this post on my LinkedIn profile.

 

 

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Hello! It’s been a while…life updates and other things

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Life has been a huge, beautiful, uncertain and constantly changing rainbow bubble-ball in the last 6 months, I don’t even know where to begin recanting the journey so far.

To keep it simple, here is a list of everything that’s been happening:

  • I travelled overseas to fulfil my life-long wish of visiting India and Nepal
  • I faced my fears and left my big, bright job in tech to pursue a dream job in a dream industry while feeding my creative passions;  and sharing those to hopefully leave the world a little better than I found it
  •  I am learning to fight by taking Krav Maga classes, which has been healing and cathartic and empowering, and makes me believe in myself again
  • …on the flip side, I broke my toe at Krav Maga, so no training for 6 weeks (boo!)
  • I got my adult braces off! While I loved them, it came time to say goodbye after two years of brace-y friendship. My teeth are now amazing and free. And there’s no danger of breaking them at Krav Maga.
  • I am slowly becoming vegan and have been experimenting with so many new recipes. Scrambled tofu with turmeric as a replacement to eggs is my new favourite food.
  • I am pouring my heart and soul into my Communications and Media degree by taking Content Creation and Professional Communication Practice this trimester and while it will be challenging, I relish it the intellectual stimulation.
  • On top of this, I am also taking a social media marketing certification course. My aim is to conquer Twitter like a boss.
  • I got the crazy yet sensible idea to create a new portfolio blog to show my professional skills, marketing plans, e-books, design projects, and writings. I want to beam my potential ‘out there’ and not hide it under a rock.  I am so excited by this I get funny breathing when I think about the work I’m putting into this to bring it to life.
  • Living my literary dreams by signing up for a volunteer job where I’ll get to spend one day a month at the Women’s Library in Sydney’s Newtown, shelving books, looking at books, recommending books, borrowing books, and writing book reviews. I even got to spend a fun day volunteering contributing to the social media strategy for the library which made my heart sing. Because tea and books. And telling people about them.
  • Buying more books than I thought humanly possible. I dream about them. And have 20 of them stacked up by my bedside table waiting to be read. I nerd out on Goodreads, Instagram, and plan my outings to make sure I am within radius of where all my fave book stores are, and visit them on the reg.
  • Writing, writing, writing. Most of it has been business or academic writing for school, and more than I have done in a long time. As someone who loves to connect dots, its made so much sense to keep at it and improve every single day.

 

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It’s the middle of the day and I’m sitting cross-legged on my bed in my ultra-sunny space, drinking nettle tea and writing a job application. I look at this list, and think *holy shit* this is 6 month’s worth of transformations and transitions and investments and ‘flow’.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing.  I have had to stare my fears full in the face this year, asking myself all kind of questions, especially about about what my next career steps will be. They rear their ugly heads in the middle of the night, whispering ‘what if my intelligent risk doesn’t work out?’ ‘What if I am chasing a pipe-dream?’ ‘What about the rent?’

Then I take a deep breath, and remember who I am. I  remind myself that my drive to make this work is stronger than my fear, and I have to push those voices back into their box in my head, and silence them. I have to hold onto who I am; I have never conformed to the status quo, or seen the world in quite the same way as the world expected me to. I love being out of my comfort zone, living my life true to my authenticity, creating connections, and spending time with people I love.

When you want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you to achieve it – Paulo Coelho 

What I know is that this year has been unlike any other year. Turning 35 may have had everything to do with it. Visiting India was the catalyst, an eye opener which cracked my soul open to many experiences and perspectives which were confronting, and joyful, and unlike anything I had seen or felt before.

What the next six months will hold I don’t yet know. I’m excited to find out. Wherever life leads I will go with an open mind and an open heart, with the willingness to soak it all up and keep it real.

Peace,

K xxx

 

Sweet Sea Creatures

I woke up this morning full of beans and with a huge urge to create.

Things have been a little quiet for me in the last couple of weeks as I wrapped up uni for the year. Most of the time has been spent recovering with lots of sleep, yoga, and nourishing food.

I came across these lovely works by a super talented designer called minpin, who provided the inspiration for my sea creatures. I always loved the ocean – as a child I used to pretend the ocean was my real home and would play mermaids by myself when my family and I would take vacations by the sea. It was a magical time, the fish were my friends, and the seaweed underwater forest which concealed the secrets of the deep. Sharks and jellyfish were the villains to be conquered, and seahorses the unicorns, mysterious and silent.

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Starting with a blank slate with minpin’s inspiration as a sweet wallpaper hanging. And the delish gluten-free pancakes I had for breakfast. I wanted to start straight onto watercolour paper, but then decided to switch to my sketchbook instead.

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I’m starting out with two types of watercolours – my Reeve’s watercolours that come in 24 different shades, and the Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth colour wheel with the lovely jewel tones.

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The angry sea urchin is my favourite. I’ve always liked sea urchins, waving their spiky little arms when pulled from the rock pools. I’ve always felt sorry for them too – despite their spiky arms they pretty much can’t defend themselves very well or swim away.

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The hammerhead and his sting-ray friend. I like the way these two turned out, the hammerhead looking a little hungry with his happy sting-ray friend just floating by.

I’m going to keep adding to these – a seahorse, a sea turtle, and more sea urchin are missing, Maybe once it’s finished, I will run it through photoshop and make a pattern. I was obsessed with patterns in design school, creating a few of plants.

I’m looking forward to creating some more in the next few days!

xx

 

 

#AlwaysBeLearning

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Having had been a student for the past two and half years completing a Diploma of Graphic Design and thinking I was done with study for a while, I decided to go back to Uni earlier this year to complete a Bachelor of Communications majoring in Media Studies. Working in the e-learning industry, and being surrounded by it every day (on top of what I’m learning at school), really got me thinking about just how much learning has become an integral part of who I am. Looking back on my journey so far, my learning habits have changed so much, coming a long way in just a few short years. Some of the habits I have picked up have seemed like a lot of work, while others less so. All continue to evolve as I look ahead with still so much to come.

I incorporate some form of learning into my day, every day. While there is the learning that I engage in every day, for both school and work, getting into the habit of learning something new each day just for the fun of it has been an eye-opening habit to get into. We’ve all heard of the one-hour rule of learning per day, but I really don’t believe it has to be so complex. Even a few minutes each day can make a difference if it’s sparking those ‘Aha!’ moments, challenging you, and perhaps even changing your perspective on something.

Nobody tells you this, but learning can be damn hard.

Seek diversity. Someone once told me learning is like food — if you eat the same food every day, you won’t reap the benefits of a well-balanced diet. To me learning is about expanding my mindset and seeking out the bigger picture. I read articles, watch online content, track down interesting books, and attend talks I find interesting. It may seem obvious, but so many of us are creatures of habit that solely rely on what’s in front of us and what’s within arm’s reach. While this can be great when time-poor, I also believe in looking at the bigger picture of my learning through making a concentrated effort to invest in it and track down different sources to feed my interests. I admit this can be a bit of a challenge, but being exposed to different viewpoints, perspectives, and information is only a good thing to build out well-rounded knowledge about something.

I cut myself some slack. Nobody tells you this, but learning can be damn hard. To really learn something can be one of the hardest things you do. But it’s also one of the most rewarding. The feeling when I’ve begun to really understand something, relate it to what I already know, and then almost ‘seeing’ those pieces fall and click into place makes it all worth it. But before the reward comes what I also call the ‘dark side’. The pressure, the overwhelm, the feeling that you can never have enough psychological bandwidth to cram all this information in. This is where I have to pull back, and tell myself I can’t learn everything the first time — it’s virtually impossible to learn everything there is to know about something the first time and retain it all. There will also be days of un-focus, mental exhaustion, overwhelm, and anxiety, and days where no matter my intentions life will get in the way. Cutting myself some slack and working with what I have is the best way to keep on track to make it more manageable.

Write it all down. Not just notes directly related to what I’m learning (though these are important!). Writing about the experience itself, the thoughts, feelings, and impressions on what I’m actually going through with my learning. It may sound like a lot of work but I was always that kid who kept some sort of journal, and it wasn’t until recently that it clicked that I could do the same thing with my learning. And its helped me. It has increased my self awareness, allows me to track where I’m up to, plan my next steps, smooth out any hiccups, and articulate what I can do to improve on an on-going basis. And most important of all, it helps the learning stick.

Have fun with it. This is where the creative side of my brain comes out, especially when I don’t understand an idea or a concept. So I do the only thing I know how to be — creative. I play with it, tinker with it, pick it up and put it back down again. Return to it. Analyse it, turn it over, pull it apart then put it back together. What other purpose does it serve? Where else does it fit? Question it, ask it why? Why not? This is the space where I’ve realised you learn. Really learn. Not what I’ve been told, or what I’ve read, but where I create my own experience. Be that person who asks questions — question everything. If it doesn’t come, I’ve had to learn not to force it — I’m learning to trust it will come when I least expect it. Especially if I’ve found myself in a conversation where I’ve had to explain it — more often than not I remember and know a lot more than I think. And the golden rule — I’ve had to be patient and cut myself some slack.

What learning habits work for you?

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This year 2016

After many months of absence I have returned back here to this space, as I’ve done many times without writing or contributing to what I have created. While I am still to work out the direction in which I want to take my offering,  I am ready to pick up where I have left off and let my words flow once more.

This year 2016 has been a big one in many ways. My intentions for the past 12 months were ones of investment and transformation, which I worked on in major ways to bring more of both into my life.

  1. I finished my Graphic Design diploma – 2 and a half years of hard work, commitment and pure perseverance enabled me to cross the line and say I am now a designer.
  2. Moving into an airy, sunny, and quiet new apartment. This is move number 6 in 6 years.
  3. Re-commiting to my yoga practice
  4. Committing to my new adult braces
  5. Being free of my Deep Vein Thrombosis!
  6. Writing my own portfolio website and learning to code enough to get the job done
  7. Visiting Vegas, experiencing the beautiful Grand Canyon, and partying at Omnia nightclub with over 4,500 colleagues at Caesar’s Palace for a work trip
  8. Enjoying and celebrating one more year of life with my beautiful senior dog
  9. Deciding I will not settle just for any man – I am willing to wait for someone special
  10. Reaching over 900 posts on Instagram – am on track for 1000!
  11. Continuing to work towards self-love. My journey has been a long one and it is a road I continue to walk down each and every day.
  12. Learning to accept that I will make mistakes – I forgive myself and move forwards with my head held high
  13. Allowing my inner gypsy princess to come out more often and play with beautiful skirts, long earrings, and bare feet
  14. On that same note, growing my hair to mermaid lengths and leaving it alone without heat styling and straightening
  15. Investing in more books than clothes
  16. Recognising my work-life balance is a little off-center. I am beginning to put together a plan in place for better balance and organisation in 2017.
  17. Ditto for my personal finances
  18. Friendship. I have beautiful, strong, successful friends who I celebrate spending time with and who I am grateful to have in my life
  19. Grateful for family – watching my nieces and nephews grow up is  beautiful experience – they grow up too fast!
  20. Articulating for the first time what my numerous dreams are, and allowing myself the luxury to really think about how I can make them happen. They are unique to me, and not letting others dissuade me with well-intentioned-but-not-for-me-opinions.

As the year comes to a close, I work to plan for 2017, a year of new beginnings, big changes, love and joy. And so it is.

 

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Direction

It’s been such a crazy long time since I wrote here – I feel like life often slips away as soon as my back is turned. It is now June 2016, and so much has happened in the last 6 months it is difficult for me to even comprehend the passing of time so quickly.

I am sitting at my vintage wooden table, watching the rain lash the window, and the season’s change through the deepening of the leaves on the maple trees outside. Winter is well and truly here. I wonder what the next 6 months will hold for me, where life will take me, what will I do with myself. As with most years at this time, I am presented with decisions to make, courses that will change my life, and I am feeling a little overwhelmed. How do I choose which is the right path to take? How do I set the wheels in motion for the things I am hoping to have happen?

As I sit here holding my cup of tea, I am hopeful of the future, but also nervous of where the roads may lead. I am reminded by the words of Robert Frost – ” Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less travelled, and that has made all the difference“.

 

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Wanderess

I’ve been using the last few weeks of living in my new neighbourhood as a chance to wander and explore.

I love the freedom a new place affords me. The new view each morning. The landmarks that identify my street on my morning walk to the train station, the places that are starting to become familiar to me. New sounds. New faces. There are plenty of small lane ways and little nooks, where urban decay peeks its head out among the newer buildings and roads.

 

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Salvador Dali peeks at me in several different colours from the alleyway around the corner.

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I love texture. Old spray paint flaking off the walls provides the perfect contrast between old and new.

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 This lurking area was at the back of an alley-way. As I took the photo, I definitely heeded the sign and ‘lurked’.

 

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Candy-coloured street art- a gorgeous piece by sydney-based artist & designer Nico

 

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I love doors. The curiosity in me wants to know, what is behind this door? What would I find if I were to open it and take a look inside?

photoIf I stretch my imagination, this looks to me to be a wild cat – with a blue face, orange eyes, and a strange light purple nose. I try and seek beauty, even in the most unlikely places.

“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city” 

 – Roman Payne, The Wanderess