Rethinking your ‘weaknesses’….

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As a naturopath you can feel a lot of pressure to be healthy and full of go all the time. If you aren’t bounding around with endless energy and happiness people might think you’re a bit of a fraud. Surely, if you were good at your job you’d be applying all that knowledge to yourself to live like Peter Pan, never ageing, forever.

Really ? Is that truly what people think ?

For the last few months I have been dealing with some health issues which are taking a little while to sort out. I was trying to treat myself and unsurprisingly, wasn’t totally successful  – it took me a while to accept that sometimes you need an objective, fresh set of eyes looking at what’s going on. I took myself off to see an integrative GP which was an expensive exercise in frustration that left me feeling flat. I continued to look after myself but I just wasn’t getting the results I wanted. After a couple of months of searching I was able to track down a very knowledgeable and approachable specialist (yes, they do exist) and we are working together to sort this stuff out.

When I first went to see her I had a strong sense of failure in myself. I felt like I was flying the white flag of defeat. I came out with a sense of hope, some new information and a plan of attack. I felt that someone was finally taking me seriously and was interested in helping me find some answers.

During this appointment I explained the treatment plan I had formulated to support myself and how frustrated I was at not being able to get the results I wanted. I was feeling like a big fat naturopathic failure until she said to me “If you hadn’t been doing these things you would have been in hospital long ago”.  Suddenly I was rethinking everything.

I had been doubting myself, my skills and my clinical abilities. I had been feeling like a failure because I didn’t have all the answers. That’s crazy – no one has all the answers. The best we can do as health workers is to take our clients issues seriously and be genuinely caring and committed to doing our best for them. I had forgotten all the people I have been able to help and was focused on what I saw as my weaknesses. Why are we so damn hard on ourselves ?

I saw a lovely friend/client the other day. We were chatting briefly about my recent health issues because there were some similarities to her own. She said to me that knowing this about me made me more relatable. It helped her feel that I actually understood what was happening for her. It made her feel less alone and more believed. It made her feel that I understood her frustration at having to search high and low for someone to take you seriously.

So here I was, feeling like a failure and a fraud and there was she thinking how good it was to be understood by someone who had experienced what she was going through. Now that’s a good reminder to rethink your ‘weaknesses’….

 

 

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Keeping the faith …

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It’s easy to feel jaded sometimes. Christmas consumerism runs rampant, the shops are crazed with glitz and spending, everyone is feeling the effects of a long year and the parties just keep on coming.

I must admit that I have been starting to feel pretty tired and a bit overwhelmed by lots of stuff. The idea of a couple of weeks of down time appeals to me in a big way. I’m looking forward to books, swims, a road trip with my husband and dear friend Melissa, time with my family, trips to the library, helping my daughter nest into her new home, gardening and getting to know my new baby chickens Dorothy and Helen.

Life can feel very tiring sometimes so it’s good to know that just when you need it something comes along to keep you going…..

The last 48 hours have been a bit of a heart lifter. We spent a lovely afternoon yesterday celebrating the first birthday of our ‘yummy enough to eat’ niece. Watching her crawl around on my daughters lap with her little wobbly legs and gummy grin made me smile from ear to ear. A gorgeous woman at the party said she had bought a few things with her to donate to the charities and organisations that my daughter and I collect for … an amazing boot load of lovely clothes and toiletries filled my car. Then came an offer of a cot and mattress which will come in handy for some mum’s we work with who are feeling the effects of unemployment and limited opportunities.

This morning a dear friend Lauren offered up a Play Station on FB, “yes please” I said for a family I had in mind. I just got a message from Lauren saying that she’d picked up some extra presents for the kids and had even wrapped something up for the Mum.

These wonderful acts of kindness and generosity fill me with hope and help me keep the faith.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by harsh governments, climate change, greed, consumerism, violence … but these kind offerings are the antidote we need to keep faith and to continue to believe that things will get better…. one small act at a time.

Day 365 of my year of gratitude…..

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This time last year I made the decision to be mindful of the things in my life deserving of gratitude. In order to keep me on track, and following the example of Ingrid Mason, I decided to make it public by posting every day to my Facebook page.

I must admit that I felt a little self conscious. I wondered if people might think me a bit cheesy or PollyAnna-ish. I wondered if it might just be boring to other people and perhaps I should have just been more private about it.  Throughout this 365 days of gratitude I have been meet with encouragement, kindness and nothing but positivity.

This process has allowed me to hone my sense of thankfulness and more importantly, to find the good in days when sometimes there seemed there wouldn’t be any. Because the page I posted to is my work FB page I did chose to be careful of my privacy and that of my family and friends. There were days when I was publicly thankful for one thing while knowing in my heart what that day actually meant to me – some days I wanted to be thankful for the best kiss ever, or for the fact that someone dear to me had managed to step out of their overwhelming grief for a few minutes. I have been thankful for fantastic breakthroughs with clients and for crazy things like not getting caught out when I realised that I had accidently gone to the shops with no undies.

For all the things said and unsaid at the end of this process I am still enormously grateful.

When I look back over the year there are obvious patterns to my thankfulness –

My extraordinarily brave, kind and laugh out loud funny children.

My best friend and husband whose loyalty and kindness leaves me gobsmacked every day.

My vegetable garden, my fluffy bottomed chickens and the peace and groundedness they give me.

Meaningful work and the chance to make a positive change in someone’s life.

Noticing the small things and how they impact on your life in a big way.

The value of real friendships and connectedness.

The good things – health, wellness, change, other people’s joys, opportunities, belly laughs, Toby the Wonderbike.

For the hard things – illness, sadness, grief, loss. It may seem strange to be thankful for these but that’s where the opportunity to make a difference came and I am very grateful for that.

So at the end of it what have I learned ?  There is nothing like a sense of belonging. The things that truly make me happy have nothing to do with stuff. Most things that lifted my heart and left me breathless with gratitude were things that took me out of myself and found me focused on someone else. That the small stuff is actually the big stuff – at the end of an awful day where you feel like there can be no reason to be grateful a smile, a cup of tea, a kiss or patting a chicken can be the thing that saves you.

Would I do it again ? Oh yes. Would I recommend it to someone else ? Oh yes again. Has it changed me ? I think so.  I feel more able to find the gold quickly these days. My attention has been on finding things to be grateful for and when you do that the other stuff seems to take more of a back seat. It all comes down to where you put your focus.

I’m going to continue this daily practice but in a more private way now. I hope that some of you may chose to give this a try – you won’t be disappointed. So finally, THANK YOU, for being part of this process and for your encouragement along the way.

Are you afraid or aware ?

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I have just finished reading a great article where the writer was talking about her decision to approach her fears differently. Instead of saying “I’m afraid…” she is now saying “I’m aware.. ”  Small changes in words, big changes in intention.

It may seem like playing with semantics but it changes “I’m afraid of coming out to my family” to “I’m aware that my family may need some time to adjust and understand but ultimately they love me”. It changes “I’m afraid of making some changes in my life” to “I’m aware that in order to make changes I am going to have to make some commitments to myself”. It turns “I’m afraid of being alone” into “I’m aware that things can change and I am going to love and enjoy the people I care about while I can”. It takes you from a place of anticipating the bad stuff to living more consciously and in a more productive way.

In my work in a women’s health centre I hear it all the time… I’m afraid to leave my abusive partner, get off the drugs, come out to my family, admit that the abuse I suffered wasn’t my fault, change my living circumstances, take the steps I need to get better….. Insert your own brand of sadness and difficulty here. Perhaps this new approach combined with lots of support could turn some really difficult situations into an opportunity to get back on track.

How much more empowering is it to say “I’m aware that things could be better and these are the ways I’m going to go about changing things” rather than feeling stuck and scared. I know that it is not that simple but surely it’s a better place to start.

Granted, not everyone is dealing with such difficult issues but we all have things that hold us back and keep us from moving along in a self directed and productive way. I’m going to try it the next time I’m alone in the house at night !

What are you afraid / aware of ???

The many benefits of solitude …..

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There is a lot of pressure these days to be social….constantly. I think we may be losing the valuable art of contented aloneness. Whatever happened to being able to be happily by ourselves without the constant feedback and reassurance of others ?  It’s so important to be able to feel alone without feeling lonely.

I do understand that circumstances can determine how we feel about solitude. I remember a time many years ago when I was feeling very alone and solitude was a double edged sword. Even as a child I had loved being alone and yet when it was forced upon me I felt more lonely than anything else. It ended up being a very important time for me and set the groundwork for my appreciation now of my family and friends. It drew me back into the world.

Loneliness is very different to alone time and I think we may have been getting those confused.

I have noticed that lots of people tell me that they would kill for a day to themselves and when it comes they do things like spend it at the shopping mall surrounded by thousands of strangers. I actually know a few people who have recently deleted their facebook or twitter accounts because they felt like it was all getting a bit out of control and taking up way more time that it deserved. I particularly fear for the young ones amongst us who are comforted by their 1000 facebook “friends”.  True friends are often hard to come by – treasure them, make time for them.

Don’t get me wrong, I like facebook – it’s a great way to keep in touch and is certainly a valuable way for me to get information out to my clients and friends but lets not confuse looking at peoples photos and hearing about how they spent their weekend with true friendship.

I am an unashamed solitude seeker. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends, adore my family and really like talking to people about all sorts of things but if there isn’t enough alone time I can start to feel tetchy, spread thin and less able to enjoy the social interaction when it comes. I need that space to clear my head, feel a relief from all the stimulation, to regroup. I am definitely a better person to be around when I have had enough of not being around.

It’s such a blessing to spend a day quietly, happily alone, out in the world or  in my garden or with a good book. Allowing the space for idle thoughts to turn into useful ideas, for some reflection about how you actually want to be in the world, even to just stop talking for a while.

Twas the night before Christmas….

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This has been a big year for me and my family and the word on the street is that we are not alone in this. Our lives are busy so starting to write this blog felt like a big undertaking.  I thought it would be a resource for my clients and a chance for me to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about naturopathy and what I offer.

Unexpectedly it has turned into something much more satisfying and I have really enjoyed sending my thoughts, ideas and recipes out into the ether and into your lives.

What started out as an idea about growing my business has turned into a journal of sorts and the opportunity to build a community of encouraging, funny and insightful readers.

Thank you all for your encouragement and support and the interest you have shown in my musings. It has been my pleasure to share these 100 posts and I am hoping to continue into 2013.

May the year ahead be one of happiness and good health for you and your families.

Looking forward to lots more posts and hopefully the chance to work with some of you next year.

Merry Christmas.

Taking the stigma out of asking for help …

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Why do we find it so difficult to ask for help ? Why is this such a stumbling block for so many of us ? It’s ironic that the people who find it hard to ask for help are often the type of people who care deeply about the welfare of others. Other people seem to have been raised on a diet of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps ” or being praised since they were small children for every act of independence. It is obviously a good thing to encourage children to do things for themselves but we need to balance that with the notion that there is no shame in asking for help when it’s beyond their ability.

It seems that we are becoming more and more focused on valuing the virtues of self reliance and autonomy. In good times these are great things but there may come a time when another kind of strength is more valuable. It takes courage, insight and a depth of self knowledge to know when it is time to accept the care of another.

If you knew someone was distressed, in trouble or in need of help wouldn’t you want to step up and help ? How many times have you said to someone in a difficult situation “why didn’t you come to me?” . It is important to try to remember that in allowing someone to help you provide them with a gift too. You give them the opportunity to show empathy and compassion, to express their humanity in a productive and helpful way. You allow them to share the burden and give them permission to ask for help when they need it. Allowing someone to be a trusted dependable friend and support is an honour worth bestowing. True friends or honestly caring professionals are honoured to help lighten your load.

Lena Horne said “It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” Letting someone help you carry the load for a while is no sign of weakness.

I often say to my clients who are dealing with tough times that the tears, exhaustion and sadness are not weakness or a sign of failure – they are simply signs that you have been brave, strong and trying hard for way too long. Struggling alone leaves you with no other choice than to grow less able to cope, taking the step to ask for some support is not only brave but smart.

If you, or someone you know could do with some help call me today on 02 45677104 or email info@naturocath.com.au

Love, Georgie and Gratitude

 

So it’s Year 12 formal day for my middle child. Georgie is not your average kid, never has been, never will be. She is quirky, gorgeous, ridiculously funny, smart, sassy and thoroughly her own girl. Proud much ???

We headed down this morning to the hairdresser and on the morning of the big occasion Geo decides to cut off her hair. I don’t mean a little bit, I’m talking short, spiky, Natalie Portmanish. It’s a change from her usual manga comic style asymmetrical funkiness.  She was sitting next to another girl from her school who had chosen the long, curly up do with diamante head pieces. Still lovely and completely what she was looking for but I have to say the contrast was stark.

We stopped on the way home to pick up a couple of things. In the middle of the village Geo stops short with a look of panic on her face. “Oh my God Mum, I forgot to get my fake tan!” if you have never met my Georgie you will have to take my word for the dripping amounts of mirth and sarcasm. Orange is so her colour but not Oompa Loompa style thank goodness.

We headed home to what I thought was going to be an afternoon of preening but I was mistaken. Oh no, not with my Georgie, she has popped some Ella Fitzgerald on the stereo and has started whipping up a batch of biscuits. She said she felt like doing a bit of light baking. I warned her about the evils of eating on the eve of your formal – no, you may not fit into that skin tight dress you bought (joke!), she happily retorted that there was no chance of her not eating and cracked a joke about the best way to snag herself a husband. The biscuits are now in the oven and she is considering which episode of Star Wars to watch… so I guess that means the fake tan is a no go. I can’t help but think that she has a bit of Yoda and Padme going on.

I am so looking forward to seeing her slip into her home made dress, spike up her hair and head down the hill to dance the night away. I love the way she is so easy in her own skin.

Could I love this kid any more than I do ? the short answer is no, but I am sure going to try.

A few of my favourite things…

Don’t be disappointed when I don’t start singing about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. I’m talking about eating well, living a good life, knowing what you need to know so you have the foundations for health and happiness. Anyone interested in living this kind of conscious life is sure to have stumbled upon some great resources in their travels. Here are a few of mine, I’d love to hear about yours. Let’s spread the joy people.

Here are some of my favourite things – recipe books, websites, places to eat and permaculture stuff to help you on your way.
I hope you come to like them as much as I do.

Recipe books

My favourite recipe book is the one I have at home, filled with my kids writing and covered in splatters of whatever ingredient happens to be required on that page. Seeing as it’s not really in a publishable state I thought I would share with you a few of my fav recipe books that have stood the test of time and provided us with inspiring, wholesome, human and animal friendly sustenance.  I’m a firm believer in sharing recipes so scroll back through this blog or look at my website http://www.naturocath.com.au for some tummy filling good stuff.

Here’s my Top 5 , in no particular order ……

Vegetarian   by Alice Hart

The Vegetarian Student Cookbook – perfect for quick, cheap yummy food

Commonsense Vegetarian – Murdoch press

Cooking with Kurma – Kurma Dasa

The Cooks Garden Companion – Stephanie Alexander – a lovely read and has the extra bonus of gardening and cooking info in one lovely big red book.

For kids there is a lovely book called Herb the Vegetarian Dragon and an accompanying recipe book. My  trio of gorgeous children think I indoctrinated them with this – one is now a vegan, one vego and one omnivore so maybe it had some effect after all !

Websites

The Naturopaths Kitchen      www.thenaturopathskitchen.net.au/-        healthy and inspiring recipes

Veggie Num Num – www.veggienumnum.com  – the name says it all

The Post Punk Kitchen – www.theppk.com/- great for vegans or those with intolerances or allergies and I guess I just love the sassy name too.

Milkwood Permaculture   –  http://milkwood.net/  – permaculture and good living on an inspiring scale. Nick and Kirsten have a permaculture farm in Mudgee and run courses on how to grow your own food, keep bees, grow mushrooms …definitely worth a look

Eden Seeds – www.edenseeds.com.au – suppliers of heirloom, non hybrid, honest to goodness seeds so you can grow real vegetables, fruit and herbs again. Hooray.

Organic Gardener Magazine – www.organicgardener.com.au/resources – a useful site for anyone interested in growing good food organically with tips about soil, composting and planting guides.

Places to eat

Bodhi  Restaurant and Bar, Sydney -www.bodhi.id.au/ – super yummy and vegan/vego .

Sushi on Stanley – Stanley St, Darlinghurst – this little hole in the wall restaurant has become one of our all time favourites – cheap, friendly and delicious food – what more can you ask for.

NaturoCath Naturopathy  
Tel : 02 45677104
Email : info@naturocath.com.au

busy, BUSY, CRAZY BUSY

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Know the feeling ?  It’s been one of those weeks. It seems like I haven’t stopped and there hasn’t been any time made for the things that keep me healthy and sane ! My fuse is feeling kind of short and my head is a blender of thoughts and to do lists.

I guess we all need these times to remind us of how important it is to stop and breathe. It’s hard to always be on top of things and life just gets a little crazy sometimes so my aim for today is to slow my heart rate a bit, read my book, cook some food, tend my vege patch,  spend some time with my trio of lovely children and warm up by the fire.

I can already hear my little inner cranky person chiding me ” you haven’t been to the gym since Monday !!!!” but I am just going to turn down the volume on that one today and start again next week.

I hope you all have a lovely, restful, healthy weekend.