One of the things on my life list was to attend a meditation class. I was always a strange mix of skeptical and intrigued when it came to meditation, but after my recent hospital stay I am becoming increasingly interested in stress management techniques and meditation was one that keeps coming up when I talk to people. For those of you in Sydney, Australia – I went to Glebe Meditation Centre, they were really friendly and it was a welcoming drop-in class that I attended.
So a week ago, Gav and I went to a meditation class. It was specifically for managing and reducing anxiety, and honestly, it has really helped. I just didn’t realise how much straight away.
During the class, I was aware of pain through my whole body – my back was aching, the chair was uncomfortable, my feet were hot, the room was stuffy. I felt uncomfortable. As we started the first meditation – a breathing meditation – I was keen to shut my eyes simply so I could shut my eyes. I had no idea what I was doing but I just focused on my breathing. I struggled not to wriggle around, thinking over and over “This is not working. Sit still, Sam!”. I just felt like it wasn’t happening until suddenly it did!
My mind started racing. A bunch of random half-developed thoughts were popping into my head like fireworks. I had to keep reminding myself to focus on the breathing. Suddenly the teacher brought our focus back to the room and asked us to open our eyes. I realised then that for those last few minutes (or how ever long) I couldn’t feel any pain. I couldn’t even really feel my body. The first thing he said is that if we found our mind racing we were doing it right! Me, doing meditation right on my first time – that’s crazy!!
The class also involved a verbal lesson about reducing anxiety – it all felt so relevant to me! Some of the key things I learnt:
Negative thoughts in your mind are like a storm. They can be can be violent and raging but they will pass. Just like the storm doesn’t hurt the sky, negative thoughts won’t hurt your mind and body. The words of others, your worries and concerns, they are like the storm. They will pass.
When you have negative or anxious thoughts, stop and think “Don’t panic. This will pass. I am just one.”
The actions of other people can only impact on you if you let them. It’s how you look at the situation. Everyone has their own problems and their own journey. If someone is rude or negative to you – it is not about you. It’s something in their own life and that is not your concern.
I have felt much calmer since the session. I have noticed that I am reducing my negative thoughts quicker – I had a slight setback on the weekend where I did get a little overwhelmed by negativity but as quickly as it came I was able to rationalise it and send it away! I would like to do another class in the future but for now I am going to try to practice what I have learnt!
Have you ever tried meditation? What was your experience? What other stress management techniques should I try?
I have decided to start a brand new series: Photoshoot Diaries and I am so excited to share this with you. I am not sure if people are interested in these kinds of posts, so pretty please leave me a comment and let me know if you want to see more like this. I thought that each fortnight I would share with you a photoshoot I have done and give you an insight into the process and things I have learnt along the way.
This shoot was my very first shoot with a professional photographer – Zoran of Dream Photography. I was so nervous and in retrospect, quite under prepared. I basically threw a bunch of costume pieces into a suitcase, curled my hair and turned up to the studio with only this reference picture as a que for Zoran as to what type of feeling I hoped to achieve.
Zoran was amazing to work with. He gave me great directions and helped me to understand angles and the direction of the main light. The costumes I wore were mainly purchased without the intention of this shoot in mind – I just found the majority of the items in my wardrobe. The floral necklace in the first two shots was specifically purchased for the shoot from a small Sydney boutique that no longer exists. The hat in the third picture is a vintage piece.
I learnt a few things with this shoot:
1. For me, looking upwards to the right is a good angle for my face – I have gone on to use this angle in a lot of shoots.
2. Understanding the way the lights work is paramount. If you face the main light, your face will be lit up. If you turn away from the main light your face will be in shadow – makes sense, but this is something beginners don’t think about when they are on set!
3. When going to a photoshoot it is important to be prepared and know exactly how costumes will fit together. You need to know what you want to achieve in each frame – leaving it up to the photographer to direct you is not good enough.
4. You can never have too many inspiration pictures!! For this shoot, I only had one and it wasn’t really something I was willing to recreate because I didn’t want to be nude. Make sure your inspiration images are realistic!
Still to this day, this shoot with Zoran remains one of my favourites. I would love to shoot with him again some time!
I was recently in hospital with a rather serious throat condition and one of my recovery directives was to stop drinking caffeine for three months. Those of you who know me in real life know that I am a huge tea fan – possibly even addicted, so getting this news has been very hard for me. But I am in the business of making the most of life so with this particular challenge I decided not to cry (any more) and rather embrace this as a time for trial. So I went to my local T2 store (for those of you reading outside Australia, T2 is a premium tea store) and asked the assistant for a bunch of caffeine free samples to try. Here are my discoveries.
Peppermint lovers, you have to try this! It has a very pure taste. I find some peppermint teas to be a little bitter, but this is a great flavour. What I love about it is that it’s a very soothing taste but doesn’t make me fall asleep. I had one peppermint tea once that made me literally have to go home to bed and while that’s great if that is your purpose, I did find it too heavy – not this one though. This is certainly my favourite peppermint tea by far!
Fruitalicious Brew for 5 mins
Lovely for breakfast and morning tea. Buy Fruitalicious here.
Perhaps my favourite of all T2 teas that I have tried to date. This is a tea made entirely on dried fruit and it’s absolutely delicious and simultaneously refreshing. And the smell! It has the most beautiful aroma. The great thing about this tea is that it’s good hot but also amazing chilled as ice tea, teamed with apple, orange. passionfruit and strawberries.
What a pretty tea! All gorgeous rose buds and petals. The taste is very floral, almost like if you imagine eating the petals of a flower – in fact, I think I did that as a child and that is what this tea reminds me of. Not one of my favourite T2 teas but I am still quite fond of it. It’s a slow drink tea – take your time, and if it goes cold thats ok, it actually becomes more flavoursome as it cools down and I actually like it more it at the lower temperature.
Please note: I am not affiliated to T2 in anyway – although I should be! T2, if you are reading this, email me and sponsor me!!
What’s your favourite tea? Have you tried any great teas lately that you would recommend?
For months you pour over books and dissertations. Trying to identify that illusive niche. That gap in the literature that you are sure exists but for some reason is hiding from you. Book after book, journal after journal, until finally something begins to emerge like a glittering fairy of hope and potential. You dream about the word document that holds your PhD proposal, almost writing it in your subconscious mind, wondering if you have framed the working title properly or if you have missed something in the methodology. You can’t wait for this document to be done. It’s so draining.
Finally it’s finished! You send it away, completing the lengthy application process and bam! You have officially applied. It’s a waiting game now. You are nervous, it has been a long road to get to this point – and you haven’t even began yet! Biting your nails is an understatement, you’re down to the knuckles! If only that letter of acceptance would hurry up and land in your inbox.
There it is. You’re heart is in your throat as you open it to reveal your fate.
I am pleased to offer you a place at the University to complete a Doctor of Philosophy”
You would imagine that you would feel a wave of relief overcoming your mind and body and that does happen – after all, plan B wasn’t so appealing so getting that confirmation letter is definitely soothing. This relief is swiftly followed by a deep and blind, soul-eating panic. You were accepted. What now!?
After receiving said letter, you may find yourself overwhelmed and confused. At least, I know I did! It’s a difficult time. You have so many ideas – a timeline and work plan – but where do you start and how! So many questions come up during this time and it can be ridiculously daunting.
How do I file information I find? What is the process for starting the research? Who should I talk to? How do I take notes? Paper or computer? What apps will help me?
Where do you find the answers to these kinds of questions? I conducted about a billion searches online centred around these questions and while I am sure there are resources out there about this stuff, I couldn’t find any. So I thought I would share a few thing I have worked out since starting my own PhD.
This is the key to success! If you set up your system early, you won’t find yourself buried under a pile of papers in the first few months of your candidature. I suggest having a physical AND computer based folder for each chapter or main section of the thesis. Journal and news articles are kept on the computer and read digitally (unless you find this doesn’t work for you) and any bits and pieces that you find or print are kept in the physical arch lever binder on the bookshelf.
The absolute number 1 note-taking solution I have found is Evernote. This resource is amazing and the best part is you can download an app for your iPhone and iPad along with a copy for your desktop or laptop computers. Evernote syncs across all platforms so your notes are accessible at all times. You can create notebooks and add searchable tag terms to your notes for easy organisation. Other than Evernote, I keep a small notepad with me to jot down ideas etc in meetings and when I am not sure how to file a piece of information.
When you are first starting out, you might feel like things are moving a bit slow – that’s Ok! I freaked out to start with, thinking I wasn’t doing enough on a day to day basis but after several meetings with my Supervisor, I realised that there is no quota but your own to fill. Design your time so that you can incorporate some exercise and allow yourself time to ease into the life of being a PhD candidate. You are essentially living a self-directed research life and this comes with an array of challenges. Ensure that you have your schedule sorted and know when your deadlines are. A planner of some kind (I use Filofax) is essential!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Let people know that you are starting your PhD and would appreciate some guidance. Most academics and professionals are happy to give guidance. Just remember to be polite and respectful when approaching people – never bug them and always make sure they know how appreciative you are of their help. It’s good practice to include an introduction to who you are and what your project entails, along with your contact details. You can talk to other academics in the field, archive assistants and professionals with a wealth of knowledge to ask for research leads. Always reply to emails from these people, regardless of if they are able to provide you with leads or not! They may think of other ways to help you in the future or your project could shift in their direction – it’s important to keep all bridges burn free!
You would have found a supervisor before being accepted by the University, otherwise, one would have been assigned to you at the time of acceptance. Get to know this person and be honest with them about any limitations or priorities that you have. I was lucky enough to be assigned a supervisor that I already knew very well, so we already had a great relationship. However, we still needed to have the conversation regarding my health and my additional work situation as a tutor in a different department. None of this was a problem and keeping the lines of communication open is the only way for a successful partnership. Just be open and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance and/or advice.
Have you completed a PhD or written a dissertation? What tips do you have? What are you struggling with?
Today I went shopping with my Mum after I enrolled for PhD at uni. I mentioned to Mum that I needed some new work clothes (I teach Marketing at the university) and some clothes for post-grad seminars this semester so we went to one of my favourite stores, Forever New and my Mum spoilt me rotten and bought me these lovely items! I love the navy blue with soft pink look, so that’s what this shopping spree was based around. The pink jacket looks great with the blue dress and also with the shorts and floral top. It’s currently summer here in Australia, but I want my clothes to still be wearable as the weather cools down, so I chose a soft scarf that can be work with the dress and the shorts along with a bunch of other items in my wardrobe.
This week I was nominated for the Liebster Award by the lovely Emma-Lou. Check out her blog – it has a crisp design and great content! Learn more about Emma-Lou by reading her answers here. The Liebster Award is a great to help promote and share small and new blogs with a following of under 200. I think this is a great way to network and learn a little bit about fellow bloggers. I’m very excited to be nominated!!
1.. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog. 2. Answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominator. 3. Nominate other bloggers for the award that have fewer than 200 followers. 4. Create 10 questions (or less) for your nominees to answer. 5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.
MY QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
1. If you could be doing anything right now without any consequences what would it be? I love to sing and perform, so if I could do anything right now, I would love to be on stage in a musical – preferably something like Phantom of the Opera or Wicked. Just singing my heart out in an exquisite costume!! That would be bliss!
2. What inspires you the most?
Other people’s passion and enthusiasm for their work. I love seeing the work other people are producing, especially when it’s visually stunning. I am a very visual person so I love to see beautiful things. Photography really inspires me. And I love photographs of things people make.
3. What is your favourite quote?
“Women are like tea bags; we don’t know our true strength until we are in hot water” – Eleanor Roosevelt.
4. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I went through a bunch of phases. At various times I wanted to be a hair dresser, a professional equestrian rider, a singer, an actor – but in the end I ended up an academic and I am very happy about that!!
5. What is the one piece of clothing that you could not live without?
My black winter boots – they come up just below my knee and during winter I practically live in these bad boys. Best $200 I ever spent!
6. If you could go back in time and give your younger self some advice, what would it be? Take your time and don’t rush things. I always had (and still do to a degree) a tendency to rush things to get them done so I can do more, get to the next level, advance. Perhaps I wasn’t always ready and so I cut a few corners. As I get older, I can see the value of really taking it slow and enjoying the moment you are in.
7. If you could only ever eat either savoury or sweet foods, which would you choose? Savoury – too much sweet makes me feel sick after a while!!Plus I love pastries and cupcakes!
8. If you could meet anyone (alive or dead) who would it be?
I am sure that there are many people I should say, but the honest truth is Lucy Lawless – Xena Warrior Princess was a huge influence to me growing up, she taught me the value of strength as a woman. It might seem silly, but I am not embarrassed to say that I would love to meet Lucy!!
9. For Fun: What super power would you choose and why? I would choose the ability to freeze time. I feel like I am always running out of time, so if I could freeze time and get a bunch of stuff done and then restart time, that would be great! Especially craft projects. I would love to freeze time while I make a quilt or a new dress!
10. If you had the choice would you go back in time or to the future and why?
I would go back in time and fix some of my mistakes – retrospect is a terrible thing!! Ultimately I am happy where I am now – really happy intact. Everything in my life is how I want it to be right now. But still, some of those wounds from the past could have been avoided, so I would change them rather than going to the future if I had to choose!!
I would like to nominate the following four lovely ladies. I have been following their blogs for some time. I think they are all really interesting people and I would love to learn more about them!
1. When did you start blogging and why?
2. If there was one book you believe everyone should read, what would it be?
3. How do you relax at the end of a busy day?
4. Is there any moment in history that makes you particularly annoyed or particularly happy? If so, why?
5. What is something that you are super good at?
6. If you could eat only one meal every day for the rest of you life, what would it be?
7. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
8. If you could travel anywhere, right now, money is no object, where would you go and why?
9. What’s in your handbag?
10. When was the last time you learnt something new? What do you want to learn this year?
Where you nominated for the Liebster Award? I would love to read your answers!
I’m one of those compulsive list makers, but more than that I enjoy living a productive life. I thought I would share one of my best productivity strategies with you today. The three goal list.
To-do lists can be overwhelming. They can be long and it can feel like you will never complete everything and so it becomes very difficult to know where to start.
Here’s a great method for increasing your productivity while reducing the stress of big to-do lists.
You will be creating two lists: a master list and your daily three goal list.
Your master list is ever changing and if you’re anything like me, it will be ridiculously long. Put everything you need and want to do on this list. I like to keep it organised into categories (eg. Blog related, PhD related etc). Keep it at the back of your planner or as a word doc on your desktop. I keep mine in my Filofax. Ideally you should only check this list once a day, when you’re developing your three goal list.
THREE DAILY GOALS LIST
Each night before you go to bed, choose three goals for the next day. These are the three things that must be done before you go to bed the next night. If you achieve these three goals, you can choose another from your master list to complete or enjoy some guilt-free relaxing time.
Tip: choose three obtainable goals. Don’t choose three things that are impossible to get done in one day eg. Read a novel, clean out my wardrobe and run five km – that would be a stretch for anyone and you’d be setting yourself up for failure. Be realistic.
Setting only three goals helps you to focus your energy on an achievable scope of work and if you’re realistic in setting these goals they are always obtainable.
My best friend has been my best friend for over 10 years now. Her name is Angel, we met in high school and became unlikely friends, bonding over Lord of the Rings, war movies and the general disliking of most other people at school. She helped me through some pretty difficult years of horrific health, giggled as I tried to use crutches for the first time and let me quote lines of Saving Private Ryan while we watched it for the billionth time.
I haven’t had many friendships like the one I have with Angel. We walk completely different paths now, live two hours away from each other and we see each other about twice a year if we are lucky. But still I count her among the very best of friends. Another friend, Jacqui, I met during my undergrad degree and even when she moved to New York and London we stayed in contact. Only every once in a while, but it was always meaningful and now when we are together it’s like we were never apart. Same goes with my friend Elsa, who lives in a different state. Just because we don’t hang out every weekend, doesn’t mean our friendship is lacking anything. These friendships and many more are still going strong purely because they are low maintenance. No one ever apologises for being busy.
This got me thinking about my friendship habits.
I am not one of those friends that you hang out with every weekend. I work hard through the week so my weekends are left for my immediate family, my boyfriend and scheduled friend dates and events. I am not good with the question “What are you up to this Saturday night?” because nine times out of ten, this Saturday has a plan. I’m a plan ahead friend. Let me know if you want to catch up in two or three weeks and if it’s free, it will be firmly in my diary. But don’t go into a huff if your desired date and time already has prior commitments – it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to see you, it just means that I have something on that day! And if we can’t agree on a time for a cup of tea, how about you give me a call, text or email and we can keep connected that way.
I am time-poor. Most of us are. I like my encounters with friends to be meaningful and I will invest the time in these meeting, but I can’t do it all the time. I’m concerned that people think you have to physically hang out all the time to be friend, so I have compiled some tips on how to not be a high maintenance friend.
1. Over share
Don’t text your friend with every little thing that happens in your life. No one wants ten messages a day from you about the temperature of your coffee and how that guy down the street looked at you funny when you got in your car. General check-ins and updates are enough, unless something funny or particularly serious happens, we don’t need a running commentary.
2. Over show
Twenty Snapchats a day are too many. Stop that.
3. Plan ahead
If you want to hang out, give your friend notice ahead of time. I, personally, need about two to three weeks notice if you want to schedule lunch or dinner etc because I plan my time so I can fit everything in. It’s not self-absorbed – it’s just practical planning for a busy person.
4. Don’t get in a huff
Don’t get cranky if your friend is too busy to hang out. Like many people, I have busy times – I am writing a PhD full time, working part time, developing this blog, trying to get on top of my health and working to maintain a relationship – sometimes I literally don’t have a spare five minutes. Be ok with that.
5. No guilt!
Don’t continually remind your friend that they are always busy as a way of trying to guilt them into spending time with you. They honestly DO want to spend time with you, but lets make it a quality afternoon once every now and then rather than trying to fit a half hour cuppa in twice a week.
6. Find alternative ways
If your friend is too busy to physically hang out, call, text or email them. Or better yet, write a letter! Your friends do genuinely want to know what’s going on in your life and these forms of communication are a great and convenient way to stay connected during the busy periods.
At the end of the day, know that you are important to me. I do value your friendship. And most importantly, I am always there if you really need me. But don’t be high-maintencace! It will scare me away!!