Bleah days and a 7 step strategy to fix them

9607389739_9b73dd2055_zI had an appalling day the other day.

For a change  I had no appointments or meetings. I looked forward to a day of “getting lots done”.

What happened?

I was unmotivated, distracted, got nothing of significance done. I procrastinated. I checked my emails 100 times too often.

The worst was, that I felt dreadful by the end of the day.

Have you ever felt like that? Perhaps not?

For those who have had a bleah day or two, here’s what I did to get my mind right. That’s the main thing, isn’t it?

Getting your mind right.

In his book “Getting Things Done”, David Allen explains that when something is on your mind that you should/ have or even want to do, then your mind is not clear. You are carrying that thing. That thing is controlling you.

And when you have a bleah day like I had, your head is full of stuff that you should be doing, then you distract yourself by checking emails, AGAIN, then you feel bad and the process repeats itself over and over.

You may be wondering at this stage, “How did Kirsten get herself to write this blog when she’s feeling so bad?”

I journalled.

In my journal, I hauled out all the tools and techniques that I have learnt from books and teachers over the years. I built a strategy. As I went to sleep I told myself to prepare for a great day.

Here’s the strategy:

  1. Ask: What do I need to do/ have to work in a focused manner for 90 minutes?
  2. Give yourself 10 minutes to do that. Mine was to tidy my desk, get the books I wanted and to feed the birds. I wanted coffee, but decided it would be a good reward for 90 minutes of solid work.
  3. Play uplifting songs during those 10 minutes. I have a playlist ready. DO NOT distract yourself by taking 47 minutes to make a playlist!!!
  4. Shift my body. I walked around for 60 seconds, up straight, head tilted up, moving arms about, stretching, loosening shoulders.
  5. Mental preparation: say to yourself: I choose to do this. I want to finish this. I know it will feel great when I am done.
  6. Set the timer for 90 minutes.
  7. GO!

And I did… It feels great!

Here’s a challenge to you:

Build a strategy to overcome your bleah days, share what works for you in a comment.

Let’s learn from each other.

GO NOW – Do what you CHOOSE to do and DO it WELL!

When you find yourself in a hole,
stop digging

Will Rogers


Posted in Life Mastery | 2 Comments

Beware: The Relationship LIE that Destroys.


17357278035_201427ba90_zComplacency slips unseen  into long-term relationships.

You’ve been together for ages. You know your partner really well. You know what they are thinking, what they are feeling and what they will choose to eat at a restaurant.

Yes, you know your partner inside and out.

This is a LIE.

This lie  stops you from supporting and fully understanding your partner.


Because when your partner is reacting to something and is stressed/ unhappy/ frustrated, instead of finding our what is really going on, you dismiss the problem, wondering what’s going on with them. When you don’t understand them it’s because you are judging their behaviour from your view of the world.

You may even decide your partner shouldn’t be feeling like that, should they?

Get this: You will never perfectly know your partner.

Your partner will never know you 100%.

Look at yourself. There are many times, almost on a daily basis, that you refrain from telling your partner something.  You might decide it is unimportant, or you may feel embarrassed about something, or decide its such a distant memory it’s not worth telling, or you may not want to hurt them so you keep quiet. There are hundreds of reasons you decide to not tell your partner something.

The same for them. There are things going on inside their heads that you know nothing about.

That’s how we are: each person has their own unique world they live in, and whilst we may have a lot of knowledge about that world, there are dark, murky corners that we will never seen.

You may have a map of your partners world and it is never 100 % accurate.

When your partner is feeling upset/ stressed about something, dont dismiss it with a shrug and say they shouldn’t be feeling that.

Rather do some detective work. Get our your map of their world and try to  figure out how they arrived at this point.  Ask your partners questions that will help you to understand. Put yourself in their shoes.

Its amazing what happens when you do this.

Instead of feeling irritated or dismissive or uninterested about the place they are in, you’ll suddenly feel empathy and understanding. They’ll get a sense of this and feel like you understand them.

Which you do.

Now that you’ve taken the time.

Feeling understood by a partner is hugely important to everyone.

Feeling understood gives your partner the power to take necessary action.

Let go of the lie that you know your partner well.

Take up the opportunity to explore  their world even more.

This is the path to forever in your  relationship.

If we could look into each other’s hearts
and understand the unique challenges each one of us face,
I think we would treat each other much more gently,
with more love, patience, tolerance and care.

Marvin J Ashton


Photo by Flickr

Posted in Feelings, Life Mastery, Relationships | Comments Off on Beware: The Relationship LIE that Destroys.

Are you a nag?

confident manMorning rush is not always the best time for communication, is it?

Sometimes even the simplest sentences cause great irritation.

There I was rushing around getting things organised for the day. My husband was going to have a hectic day at work; I had plenty of clients and a list of chores to get through.

“Oh”, I thought, “I must remind him to organize that lift for his colleagues”.

As he rushed past me in the passage,  I reminded him.

I immediately saw the irritation on his face.

“I was just trying to help”, I responded, feeling wounded.

Later on that day I found a few quiet moments to myself and reflected on the morning’s interaction.

My intention was to help him to remember something.

His irritation led me to assume that he saw it as nagging – or something similar.

What was going on?

Then I remembered the old classic that I recently re-read: John Gray’s – ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’.

When I figured it out, I did wonder how many more times I would make this classic mistake!

The implication for him of my wanting to help implied that he would forget.

I was demonstrating a lack of faith in my husband.

At an unconscious level I was telling him that he was not capable.

Men want to know that they are good enough for their woman. It is intrinsic to their fundamental role as protector and providers.

The mistake myself and many women make is not understanding that nagging implies there is something wrong with the man.

This is a subtle and easy thing to get wrong.

Ever told your partner to stop and ask for directions? Ever told him how to cook a meal? Ever advised him on how to manage his money? Ever pointed out that he is feeding the kids incorrectly? This list goes on and on…..

Start thinking about what your nagging means to your man!

There are, of course, consequences to continually telling your man that he is not good enough, and they’re generally miserable consequences.

Here’s what to do instead:

  • Take notice of your partner’s face when you interact.
  • Make a note of moments when you see anger or irritation.
  • Find some time later in the day to reflect on what happened.
  • Look carefully at the words you used. What is the underlying message you are giving your partner?
  • If you are eroding your partner’s confidence decide how you can change what you are saying.
  • DO IT!

As you develop self-awareness and the ability to reflect calmly on your interactions, you will be able to make small changes that allow your man to feel like a man.

Naturally there is something in it for you too: A confident man exudes a wonderful and powerful energy. Enjoy!

Photo credit

I think I’ll be going to Heaven,
because I had good intentions.
But my actions are another thing.
Curtis Jackson

Posted in awareness, Communication, Life Mastery, Relationships | Comments Off on Are you a nag?

Believing is Seeing

www brazilianpress comMany years ago I met an old man with a silver beard and a poncho.

He told me:

Believing is seeing!

I didn’t believe him.

Slowly, over the years, I began to understand …

I know that when a person is “in hate” with their partner, all they will see and notice is the things the partner  does that validate being “in hate”. Anything good that is done is invisible.

Many people in South Africa believe that our government is doing a bad job – now almost all conversations are around the bad that has been done, the corruption that has erupted and crime that is climbing. When last did you have a conversation about how great SA is? When last did you even notice something that is working? It’s there – we just don’t think about it or on it or  acknowledge it.

Yes –  we notice, we talk about, we think about all those things that validate what we believe is true.

We only see what we believe.

Is this ok?

Well…. it is OK on a level – after all everyone does it to a greater / lesser extent. The little story at the end of this article is an example of where believe is seeing was not a train smash – it was just amusing!

It’s not OK.

It’s not OK when you are limiting your life.

It’s not OK if you are suffering because of what you are not seeing when you could be seeing something different.

It’s not OK if you choose to only see those things  that allow you to  hold onto being right.

It’s not OK if you lose someone you love because you insisted on seeing them in a bad light.

It’ not OK if you withhold from giving your best because you’ve assumed how you see the situation is gospel.

Train yourself to open your mind to possibilities by asking more questions:

  • What do I believe about this person/ situation?
  • What other reality is possible here?
  • What am I missing?
  • How accurate is my assumption?
  • How does my way of thinking influence what is happening here?
  • How would my life be different if I changed my perspective on this?
  • What am I holding onto that I could let go?
  • What assumptions am I making?
  • How can I check if my assumptions are accurate?
  • What am I not seeing?

The more possibilities you explore, the more accurate your view of the situation becomes.

This is what you want:  to view a person or sitation accurately – with all the positives and negatives in the light.

This enables you to take decisions and actions that are appropriate and constructive.

I have worked on this over the years, and I believe it has brought me to a more peaceful and grounded state of being.

Yes – believing is seeing.

Sometimes its ok and not so serious:

The other day I woke up feeling not too good. Nevertheless I did gym, put the washing in the machine and  made hubby’s breakfast.

Then I became aware that I was still not feeling too good. I decided to get back into bed.

This is not something I do often. In the 10 years I’ve worked from home, this was maybe the second or third time.

I lay there quietly drinking my tea.

Then I  heard my husband get up from his desk. I listened as he walked into my office and then into the kitchen.

I smiled as I realised he was looking for me.

He walked up the passage. I wondered how he would react when he saw me back in bed.

Imagine my surprise when he walked right past me  and into the dressing room and bathroom.

He didn’t even see me!

He asked the empty bathroom : “Are you in here?”.

I giggled and shouted from the bed: “Here I am!”

As he walked back into the bedroom I said,  “You didn’t even see me!”

“That’s because I did not expect to see you in bed,” he replied!!!!

We only see what we expect to see.

Believing is seeing.

Belief is a deception
you play upon yourself.
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Posted in awareness, Habits, Life Mastery, Thought Patterns | 2 Comments

The Little Frog

frogMy son had been fixing up the ponds and streams in our garden. As  he was tidying up, he noticed a frog hopping along our boundary wall.

“Let me rescue this little frog”,  he thought, “before the dog catches it.”

“I won’t put it in the top pond because that’s where I’ve cemented,  so I’ll put it in the bottom pond.”

He walked through the garden to the bottom pond and threw it gently into the water.

In a flash the big yellow koi that lives there jumped out the water, caught the frog mid-air, and swallowed it.

He was devastated.

Later, as he told the story we all had a good laugh.

It reminded me that whatever our intentions are, we seldom have control of the outcome.

Which is why the gurus and spiritual readings out there all advise us not to be attached to the outcome.

How do we do this?

  • Let the outcomes guide us and inspire us.
  • Imagine your outcomes every morning when you wake up.
  • Spend a bit of time enjoying the feeling of living the outcome you desire.
  • Then get up and focus on the things that are in your control – your actions, your attitudes and your responses.

And if the outcomes do come your way, be grateful and enjoy!

Success is a journey,
not a destination.
The doing is often more important
than the outcome.
Arthur Ashe






Posted in Feelings, Goal-setting, Life Mastery | 2 Comments

Warning: too much fun kills fun

steakChipsI knew March was going to be crazy.

It was.

Right now I’m sitting here determined that I will not eat out in another restaurant till next month.

I also have a smile on my face.

Why? Because my son said something (as kids do) that forced a change of attitude; a change of attitude that I desperately needed.

March was fulled with visitors from abroad as well as local. I was the tour guide most of the time. We had fun! We ate out. A LOT. We had late nights. Plenty.

Just as the visitors left, we skidded into Cape Town for our youngest child’s graduation ceremony. We ate out again. A LOT.

I have to be honest here.

I was complaining.

I don’t like to admit it, but I was.

I told my son about how much we had eaten out and how hectic it was, and how much we had done, and how full I was, and how tired I was….. hana hana hana….

His response : “Mom, it’s really hard to feel sorry for you!

After I had a good laugh I felt much better.

I realized that I’d slipped into complaining mode. There was a far better way of looking at this.

I remembered when I was young and had just started working. Friends and I would save our money and once a month we’d go out to the local steak house . How I looked forward to the happy atmosphere of the restaurant,to the delicious aroma of sizzling steaks and  to a plate full of my favourite food. On top of it all, I didn’t have to cook it nor wash up afterwards.

I treasured those nights out at the local steakhouse.

Now, many, many years later I am able to eat at restaurants as often as I like.

My son’s comment opened my eyes. I have so much to be grateful for – and I have since spend time in reflection and giving thanks for fun, friends, food and  for a full life.

And a full stomach!

And wonderful children who continue to teach me lessons every day…

Yes, too much fun kills fun but only if you have the wrong attitude and forget to be grateful.

Share with me: what are you complaining about that you could be grateful for?

Posted in Balance, Life Mastery | 1 Comment

Good from Bad

5310700062_8428d0b6dc_zThabo, a friend of mine, shares this story:

Years ago, I landed an awesome job working as a contractor for a well-known IT company here in Johannesburg. I was going to earn a lot more money and my life was going to improve dramatically.

Or so I thought.

Unlike my previous company, I did not receive any benefits and was expected to sort out my own medical aid, pension and the like. Life as a contractor involved decisions that I had not previously had to make.

As part of my contract I ended up working at the North West Provincial Government office in a small town called Mahikeng.

Living in isolation is not easy and I missed home terribly.After a few months I was decidedly home sick.

I made a plan to visit home.

When I got to town the boys were already waiting for me. It was the best – catching up on the missed months.

My plan was to see my better half straight seeing the fellows. Wow – I was looking forward to that – I had missed her badly.

Finally I said my goodbyes to the fellows, got into my car and headed for my lovely lady.

I was driving slowly and steadily on that late Friday afternoon. Suddenly I was caught me off guard as a car came swerving to my side of the lane, crashing into me in a head-on collision. My car spun out of control stopping horizontally across the road.

Before I lost consciousness from the impact a woman came to my aid, asking me who I was and who she could contact to inform them of my accident.

When I regained consciousness, I was on a stretcher, and I could see familiar faces of friends and family who came to support me.

I was sure I was a goner when they broke out into song and started singing those hymns you only get to hear at a funerals!

Because I had procrastinated on the medical aid, I was moved from the luxurious rooms of Morningside private hospital, to the third largest hospital in the world, the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto.

I had sustained injuries that had me bed ridden in hospital for 6 weeks.

Although life at a government hospital was not as bad as I expected, the big problem was that I had no earnings; as a contractor it’s no work, no pay.

It took 9 months to recover fully!

It also gave me plenty of time to contemplate my future and consider my options.

Life was pretty bleak to be honest. On top of the fact that I needed regular physio, the country was in recession that year and it wasn’t easy finding a job.

I couldn’t afford my own life.

Realizing that contract work was not stable, I made a decision to go back to the corporate world so I could bank on a steady income and have Medical Aid. When I finally got a job it felt more like I was two steps behind, taking only one forward.

Today I am free of debt, happily married to one of the most amazing people I know, and for that, I wouldn’t change my life.

Looking back, the accident changed my life for the better.

It wasn’t a great experience. It wasn’t something I would choose to do again. It wasn’t something I planned.

But it did open my eyes and made me think differently and choose differently.

Thanks, Thabo, for sharing.

One of the things I harp on at my kids about (I’m a mother – I am allowed) is this: always have medical aid because you never know what will happen. I’m going to make them read Thabo’s story.

What his story confirms for me is that good and bad exists in every life, every person and every situation. Part of the process of growing up and living peacefully is accepting this peculiar characteristic of life. Resisting the bad (especially if you have no power to change it) causes unhappiness. Acceptance brings peace.

So where are YOU on this  journey? Share some of your good/bas experiences. Your stories help us all to learn and grow.

I used to have all these plans and think
‘ah, I have my whole life figured out’,
but then I realized no matter how hard I plan:
life happens!
So, I find myself living day-to-day trying to do my best
embracing every moment as a learning opportunity
and a chance to get to know myself a little more.
Quaote Q’orianka Kilcher

Photo Credit

Posted in Choices, Happiness, Lessons, Life Mastery | 2 Comments

Will he ever learn? Will you?

Visiting a tinbaboony village in the deep countryside of Mpumulanga is a little bit like being on a reality TV show – strange characters, shenanigans and whispers all make for deluxe entertainment.

One of the characters pointed out to us, in this peculiar village, was an old, gnarled man.

Let’s call him Leonard. Leonard was a colourful character – almost as colourful as his language. With a greying ponytail and a bald head, he didn’t pay much attention to rules and etiquette.

Leonard was bothered by baboons. They ruined his garden, ate his veggies and played havoc on his patio. He vowed to get rid of them.

Leonard spent some time planning and plotting his revenge.

In the middle of summer he attacked: he put a bowl of poisoned peanuts out on the patio table. By the end of the week, the nuts had still not been touched. He marched grumpily into the house and put the bowl on top of the freezer out of harm’s way.

Or so he thought.

A few months later, he was tidying up the kitchen and spied the nuts.

“Yum”, he thought, and popped a handful of nuts in his mouth.

After a few days in intensive care, he recovered slowly.

But did Leonard learn anything?

Fast forward a few more months. Leonard was snuggled up in bed on a frosty winter morning.  Through the open window opposite his bed, he spied the baboons ambling across the lawn towards his house. He leant over and grabbed his shotgun. Because of the bitter cold, he decided to shoot from the bed. Lying down, he aimed through the window at the closely approaching baboons.



The baboons scattered.

Leonard surveyed the damage. His walls were full of bird-shot. His curtains were shredded. The tops of all his toes were shaved off. He was in agony once again.

I wonder if Leonard learnt this time?

What I take from this is:

  • Stand up when shooting.
  • Also: don’t kill baboons.
  • (OK OK a bit tongue in cheek !! After all I haven’t ever done either of those two things, have you? )

How often, though, do we tread the path of revenge and get nowhere?

If your mind is consumed with revenge and your life is stuck in the endless obsession of getting back at someone, it’s likely to be you who is shot in the foot.

Reflect on these questions:

  • Who is suffering because of my revenge?
  • What role am I playing in creating misery in my own life?
  • What will it cost me to let go?
  • What will it cost me NOT to let go?

Can you name anyone who is consumed with revenge that is happy and content?

Letting go of revenge opens up the space for something else in your life.

Less revenge, more peace!

Choose today.

As for leonard  I hear that the baboons are still winning…

Revenge is often like

biting a dog

because the dog bit you.

Austin O’Malle

Posted in awareness, Choices, forgiveness, Life Mastery | 2 Comments

These are a few of my favourite things

figure_climb_large_book_stack_custom_15091If you know where that line came from then you’re probably as old as me!

A stunning young man called Zee asked me if I would share a few of my favourite reads with him. I thought I may as well share them with you too.

These books are easy to read. Once you have read through them, it’ great to jump to a relevant passage or chapter when needed. I believe that the knowledge shared in these books has the power to transform your life.

Get reading! Get changing! Get motivated!

Lastly if you know meditation is good for you

and you battle to focus (like me!), try the guided meditations on this website. There are plenty to choose from and my husband and I listen to them often:

And finally (another lastly) if you know of any great meditation apps or apps that have helped you transform your life, share them in a comment so we can all learn and grow.

The spiritual life is not a life
before, after, or beyond our everyday existence.
No, the spiritual life can only be real
when it is lived in the midst of the pains and joys
of the here and now.

Henri Nouwen


Posted in awareness, Life Mastery, Way of Being | 4 Comments

Remember what happened last December?

File_169AAA reminder popped up on my phone this morning. (Wonderful things reminders!)

It said I should go and read my blog post from January. I wonder why?

Curiosity got the better of me and so I did. Read it here.

Aha – I remember now: I had battled to get things done in December yet in January I cleared those same things off my list easily and effortlessly.

This year I have been practicing getting into a flow state

There have been some successful days and frustratingly , some ridiculously distracted days. Still – there has been some progress.

My self-diagnosis is that I have adult ADD and it’s my excuse for badly focused days. (Please don’t do as I do and make excuses – rather follow the  advice in my posts!!!!)

The days (like today) that I have sat down and worked easily and effortlessly (in the flow state) sparkle like diamonds. It is such a good feeling. It feels like a mixture of passion, contentment, achievement and peace all rolled into one.

Flow – 0; Distraction – 1

Here’s what I realised as I read through the post. When I get derailed it’s because of step 3 – the practicalities.

If my desk is messy or I choose to peek at my mails or my phone is not off or I allow myself to get up from my desk to do something else (like water the garden, feed the birds, pop some washing in the machine … oh the list is endless) then distraction wins and flow loses.

This is what has helped me

– I keep a notepad next to my laptop. As soon as I think of something else to go and do I write it down. In effect, I am acknowledging that this must (or could) be done , not right now, but later. Then when I have worked solidly for about 45 minutes I break and do one thing off my list. It’s easier to sit down for another 45 minute stint if I have crossed something off my list.

Now – I plan to focus even more on working on the flow state in November and December. Let’s see if, when I go on leave, I have easily and effortlessly cleaned up my to-do list. I’ll let you know how it goes.

My challenge to you

List the important things you need to do so that you can enjoy a peaceful break in December (even if its only on the weekends!)and get them done.


Work in Flow.

Let me know how you do….

“It is how we choose
what we do,

and how we approach it,
that will determine
whether the sum of our days
adds up to a formless blur,
or to something resembling a work of art.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Posted in awareness, Fulfillment, Goal-setting, Life Mastery, Time management | 2 Comments