‘P is for … Planning’

Last year I found myself in the Coonawarra (fabulous wine region in South Australia’s south east) at a forum at which Derrick McManus was a guest speaker. I’d never heard of Derrick before but it turns out he had a fairly interesting story to tell. In 1994 he was involved in the biggest siege in Australia’s history in which he was shot 14 times. His talk was about how through careful planning through his STAR force training he survived the ordeal.

Derrick had some great tips to share and I spent the majority of the 4 hour drive back to Adelaide thinking about how if I’d been better prepared for certain ‘ordeals’ I’d experienced in my life I might have handled them better at the time.

From what Derrick had said, the main reason he survived and didn’t die from his injuries (which technically he really should have) was because he had adequately planned and prepared for being ‘hit.’ Instead of being shot, panicking and dying, he was able to remain calm, regulate his breathing (and consequently his blood flow) which is what saved him from bleeding to death. I wondered how teachers could use planning to help themselves in managing their wellbeing. I’ll put some quotes here from Derrick’s session and you can use them as you best see fit:

“Plan what you will do in the worst case scenario.”

“If we can just relax in the midst of adversity we can see more possibilities.”

“Light heartedness makes a massive difference to outcome.”

“Don’t disregard risk or importance.”

I wonder how you might be able to apply these statements to planning your 2013. What is your plan for the worst case scenario? (this might apply to a personal or professional issue). How do you relax? How are you light hearted? What are the risks of your work? How can you minimise their impact?

With adequate planning we are able to survive the most challenging situations – this doesn’t mean catastrophising and drawing negative energy our way but is more about being prepared for likely scenarios and knowing how you’ll manage them.

Now on a completely different tangent but still on the topic of planning, I’ve discovered the Leonie Dawson 2013 life planners. Leonie is passionate about helping other women (sorry fellas) achieve their dreams. As I’ve never consciously put my intentions and/or plans into writing but have of course suggested that others do so because I know and understand the merit of solidifying intentions, I’ve given her workbooks a crack this year and found completing them an enjoyable, therapeutic and most significantly thought provoking process. If you’re feeling like you need a framework to base some planning for 2013 on I recommend these: cheap and cheery, a little bit out there and most importantly a great tool for making a plan about what you’d like to achieve this year.


‘O is for … Optimism’

Glass half empty or glass half full? It’s only you who can make that decision. May as well make it the one that makes you feel better in the short and long run hey?

Instead of being negative and catastrophizing things, be positive with your thoughts and self talk. Replace ‘What if…”(disasterous outcome) with “What if …”(best case scenario). You’ll be amazed at what you attract.

I know and understand it’s not always easy to stay optimistic when the world seems to be conspiring against you. Thanks to Melissa Phillips (@MelissaP2302) here’s a Huffington Post article about how to stay positive in tough times. Love it!

‘N is for … Nature’

Did you know that in cities in which high rise living predominates, there is a lower level of overall wellbeing? It’s true. In fact, research has shown that living any higher than two storeys above ground level has a detrimental effect on wellbeing (and the higher you go, the worse it gets). This is a result of our need to be directly in contact with the earth. The animal in us gets a bit out of whack when we spend too much time away from the earth’s surface and it can have an unbalancing effect on the way we feel and behave.

I was interested to learn recently that even being able to see nature can improve the way we feel with studies in this area finding that patients who have a view of the nature from their hospital beds tend to recover from their illnesses faster than those who aren’t as fortunate and instead are surrounded by walls. I find it fascinating to think that looking at images of nature can also have a therapeutic effect too.

The same can happen when we get too busy or stressed out and when we spend too much time indoors. We see it in our students, that dissonance when they aren’t grounded. Easy to observe in others, this flighty agitation leaves us feeling disconnected and disorientated, unsettled and giddy and unable to think straight.

The remedy is simple – to be more grounded we just need to spend more time outdoors. Again, it doesn’t have to be doing anything radical (although as my good friend Master Tim does say, Dr. Ocean can fix it all!) but just being outside in the fresh air with our feet on the ground (preferably barefoot) can be enormously therapeutic. Or get into the ocean or that lake, no matter how cold it feels. The benefit you’ll receive will be quite remarkable.

I am also a big fan of getting out into inclement weather. As long as there’s no lightning, head out for a walk next time its raining (it’s my favourite weather to run in). You’ll be amazed at how refreshed you’ll feel when you get home. The wind and water are energising (you know how children go a little la la when it’s windy outside?) Well, we respond in the same way and it can be so good for us.

Camping (even in a caravan park) is also a really good way to reconnect with nature. Spending time in national parks (I know a number of readers of this blog have spent time this summer in Tasmania) can be aesthetically rewarding so we benefit on a multi-sensory level, with the peace and tranquility of being in nature having a beneficial effect on our otherwise overstimulated sensory systems.

This quote from Khalil Gibran sums it up perfectly:

“And forget not that the earth delights

to feel your bare feet and the winds

long to play with your hair.”

So what are you waiting for?  Go on – get out there!

‘M is for … ME Time’

When we are constantly surrounded by other people (be it family, colleagues, students, clients, patients, customers, whoever) neglecting our own needs can very quickly become normalised, often to the detriment of our own wellbeing. Especially as women and if we are mothers I find that we are almost socialised to look after ourselves once everyone else has been taken care of. Sometimes we find ourselves just too exhausted to do this and so we don’t get the quiet time to ourselves which is so important to keep us going.

We need this ‘ME time’ so in our busy lives how do we ever find the opportunity to implement this simple self-care strategy?

Here’s my suggestion:

1. Prioritise it and

2. Book it in

The rest is easy. Work out what the ‘ME time’ would look like for you. It doesn’t have to be the same each time and it doesn’t have to be the same for everybody (although a 10 km run would always be a welcome treat for me I understand how it could be another person’s hell). It could be taking a walk, going to the gym, reading, watching tv (that would be rarely be my choice), having a massage (or other complimentary health treatment), meditating, shopping…

How do you like to spend your “ME time?’

What do you have to do to make it happen?

‘L is for … Laughter’

One of my – no, actually my favourite sounds is the hysterical giggling of my children. You know the kind of laugh that sounds like a babbling brook and which is so contagious that within seconds you start laughing too when you hear it? I love that sound.

So why is laughter so good for us? Well, laughter involves a shuddering action of the diaphragm in the same way that crying does. It stretches and strengthens the muscles in our face, throat, neck, stomach and back (ever laughed so hard it hurts?). Laughing releases the feel good chemical dopamine which stimulates our brain’s frontal lobe which makes it easier to learn. Laughter increases our memory and alertness and reduces the effects of the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol which we know can negatively affect our health.

How do you get your laughs? Do you have a favourite television show or comedian? With Adelaide Fringe approaching there’s going to be a stack of funny people in town really soon – it would be great to create a list of ‘must sees’ in the comments section below as a laughter resource.


‘K is for … Kinesiology’

I’m delighted that Maryanne Katsidis from ‘Zoi Kinesiology’ accepted my invitation to guest blog today and has written a stunning piece about her field of speciality, kinesiology.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of sessions with Maryanne over the last few days (you know, as you do, being a new year and all, and I’ve got some big things coming up that I want to go well) and I have to say I really noticed a significant (and of course positive) shift.

If you feel like you’re needing a little ‘something’ but aren’t sure quite what, kinesiology might be the way to go. Maryanne is based in Melbourne but can work from where ever (I had my sessions over the phone from Adelaide).

Enjoy this and Maryanne, my thanks to you for taking the time to put this together.


  1. What is kinesiology and how does it work?

Kinesiology seeks underlying causes, rather than just treating symptoms. It is consistent with the Chinese philosophy that health problems are the outcome of blocked energy flow.

Kinesiology combines principles of Chinese medicine with modern muscle monitoring techniques, based on a bio-feedback mechanism, to identify the underlying cause of imbalances within the physical and energetic bodies. Imbalances may present themselves as depression, stress, anxiety, learning difficulties, nervous or digestive disorders or physical pain to name a few.

2. Why would you have a Kinesiology session?

You may be experiencing physical pain or may be going through an emotional issue where you can’t move on, or perhaps not being able to let go.  You may feel as though there is a crossroad in front of you and you don’t know where to go or what to do next. It might be that you know what is bothering you, but being self-aware may not be enough to get you back on track. The great thing about Kinesiology is that it can help you take that blindfold off and see things from another perspective, so you can go back to what your heart truly desires.

Kinesiology can help with Anxiety, Depression, Self-confidence/Self-worth, Pain Management, Nutrition, Grief and Loss, Sports Performance, Addictions, Career and Work Issues and more.

Kinesiology is also beneficial for children who may be suffering from issues relating to bed wetting, learning difficulties, concentration, clumsiness, confidence, social isolation, depression, anxiety etc.

3. How do you use it in your current role?

There are two things that make Kinesiology special and quite unique. The first is that it is the only modality that I know of that actually clears the pain memory from past experiences, allowing you to talk and remember about painful events and trauma without re-experiencing the pain.  The second thing I love about Kinesiology is that it clears sabotage programs.  All those niggling little insecurities and blocks can be cleared to allow you to move forward with confidence.

4. What can clients expect during a session?

I empower my clients by teaching them about what their bodies are saying, when and why patterns have formed and connect them back to their authenticity and their truth. I support and guide them while they transform and as a result they create the life they have always wanted.

5.  Are there any side effects?

There are no side effects although the first few sessions can leave you feeling a little bit tired afterward as we are generally clearing the heavier old stuff, so it is best to avoid doing anything intensive afterward.

6.  How much does a session cost?

The first session is $110 for 1.5hrs which gives me an opportunity to explain Kinesiology in greater detail and for me to gain a good history about my clients journey to date.  About 75% of the time the first balance is the most relevant so it is important for us to set a good foundation to work from.

One hour sessions are $80

7.  How do we find you?

You can find me at @leadership_real or by my name Maryanne Katsidis.  The Kinesiology website is http://www.zoikinesiology.com.au.


Zoi image


‘J is for … Journalling’

The notion of catharsis, or ‘getting it all out’ as a means of improving wellbeing is fairly well established. Often just the proces of verbalising what’s concerning you or how you’re feeling is a great way to clear unsettled feelings and the therapeutic benefits of getting it all “off your chest” are well known.

Did you know that catharsis doesn’t need to necessarily take the verbal form and that getting it all out onto pages in a book are another valuable way to express and get your feelings out there. In fact it could be argued that in some ways journalling is a more effective means of catharsis and here’s why:

– the risk of offending the person you’re offloading to is reduced if you’re not actually talking to someone but are more writing for your own purposes

– it’s cheaper than talking to a therapist

– you can vent in a journal whenever you like (no need to ruminate or wake some one up at 3 am because you need to have a chat)

– you have a record of past trials and tribulations to access in the future. Looking back over your journal entries to see how you felt about and handled situations can prove to be a valuable resource (certain behaviour pattern or themes may become apparent or you may find solutions to current problems based on ways you handled issues previously).


When journalling remember to just let the words flow. It doesn’t matter if they seem to be jumbled or nonsense. Sometimes it’s getting the confused thoughts out there that helps you to make sense of situations and make connections between your thoughts and feelings.

The process of gratitude journalling has also been proven to be very effective. Some clients I’ve worked with say that writing down three things they are grateful for every night is a bit overkill but doing it a few times a week is completely manageable and beneficial as focussing on the blessings we have in our lives (even after a crappy day) makes things seem so much better (for more information on gratitude, check the previous post ‘G is for Gratitude’).

“I is for … Interests”

Interests…do you think they might be what make us interesting?

Regardless, of whether they are things we do by ourselves (think reading, gardening or running) or something we do with others (cooking, travelling, team sports), interests have been shown to have a positive correlation to our wellbeing.

In addition to providing an outlet and break from our run-of-the-mill-day-in-day-out lives, our interests can have many other positive benefits too. They can provide opportunities for learning or refining an existing skill, they can be done in solitude or might require interaction with others, they might involve adventure or require time at home.

My interests keep me going and increase my motivation when I am feeling tired/overwhelmed/annoyed with work/life. They are what I look forward to and what I enjoy. They recharge my energy and keep me going. Some provide some well needed social interaction with others whilst others I retreat and I do all alone.

Here’s some of them:

Travel – Cooking – Triathlon – Reading – Yoga – Psychology – The beach – Shopping – Running – Biking – Swimming – Fine Dining – Camping – Art appreciation –

What are your interests? What are the things you do that recharge your batteries and make you more interesting?



‘H is for … Hope’


I did some professional learning at a Complex Needs Clinic in Adelaide late last year and was touched by the commentary of one of the presenters.

He works with cases so extreme they board on unimaginable. His philosophy was simple though. He said “I believe most people are good. I believe most people, with the right direction will work things out for themselves. I have HOPE for the cases I work with, and am optimistic that things will get better for them as a result of the intervention I provide.”

Having worked with this clinic and a number of families from my previous place of employment I was familiar with the calibre of client who he saw in his clinic and I was touched by his statements. They stuck with me over the weekend and through the coming weeks.

I learned a valuable lesson from attending that PL – having an optimistic outlook and being hopeful that things will improve and work out in the end is a healthy perspective to have in life and one that improves wellbeing.

What do you hope for in your life?

‘G is for … Gratitude”

You know how it’s been hot these last few days? Like real hot, heat wave hot? There’s been lots of people complaining about it, haven’t there?

I love the hot weather. You know why? Because when it is stinking hot and blowing a north wind at 40 km an hour and I’m sitting in my cool little temperature controlled home I feel thankful. I don’t whinge about the heat at all. I’m thankful that I am experiencing such weather and that unlike so many less fortunate souls in the world I have:

– airconditioning

– a fridge

– iceblocks

– clean water to drink

– a shower

– close proximity to the beach

– access to any number of swimming pools

– cool clothes

– shade (if I happen to choose to spend some time outside, say at a stunning beach for example)

– insect repellant

– doctors nearby should I get a case of the puking (as happened over new years)

… and the list goes on.

I remember seeing an episode of ‘Go Back to Where You Came From’ last year. You might remember the episode – the one where they were in the African refugee camp and the shock jock struck up a relationship with the orphan boy. There was a single mother on that episode who had walked for days to get to the camp. One of her children had died along the way. She had no husband or relatives with her, and few possessions other than the clothes she and her children wore.

On arriving at the camp this woman was escorted to her new home. It was a white tarpaulin. That was it. No furniture, no toilet, nothing. Nothing but a few stakes jabbed in the ground under which she could sit with her very young children.

The climate in that part of the world was incredible. The ‘Go Back’ participants were clearly struggling. Searing hot days and freezing cold nights. Winds that made the sand fly into whirlwinds and blast everywhere. Flies. Disease. No water. No shade. Constant threat of attack (from either other desperate humans or wild animals). Day in, day out. Forever maybe.

In comparison to the life this poor lady and possibly billions of others on the planet experience, we’ve really got nothing to whinge about when it gets a bit warm, do we?

Be sure to be thankful for what you’ve got. It’s linked to increased wellbeing. Because things could always be a whole lot worse…