Sunday, September 27, 2015

Being chic in a difficult work environment


It’s all very well feeling empowered by our chic ‘good vibes’ when we are in our own environment, one that we have total control over such as our home.  However what can we do to protect ourselves when we are in a work environment and it’s an unhappy and oppressive atmosphere, and changing jobs is not an option?

A reader who feels that her ‘chicness feels secondary to survival right now' has asked me this, so I’ll do my best to offer some tips and ideas to get you through the day.  Thinking back to different jobs I’ve held, some were fine and some had awful people who made the day-to-day not so pleasant.

Look to myself first

Firstly I’d make sure that I was beyond reproach.  I admit I do find it hard to get motivated at times, so if I’m being frothy and pretty but not doing my work then others have every right to be grumpy with me.  I’m not saying anyone else is guilty of this, but I was.  So whenever I was feeling put upon I’d look to myself first to see if there was any way I was contributing.

Along the same lines, I’d also ask myself if I was gossiping, complaining or being passive aggressive.  Again, I’d turn the spotlight onto myself and choose to take the high road by being respectful, pleasant and 'staying in my own lane' (minding my own business).

Create a safe bubble

Next I would work on creating a safe bubble where I could do my work, protect my energy and go home at the end of the day ready for a relaxing evening.  I would not let my evening be ruined by a draining day at work that I'd let come home with me.  I’d remind myself that when people are not nice it says more about them than it does about me. I'd also not let them take any extra time from me.  If I'm still chewing over something later on at home they are stealing my peace there as well.

Unhappy people often take it out on someone else.  When I tell myself this (and it certainly is true) it always makes me feel better.  Even though I work with my husband now and we run our own business, we still may encounter an unhappy supplier or customer and they really used to get me down.

Of course I'd try and help them out but sometimes I'd just have to step back and know that nothing I could do would make them happy and that it’s just how they are.  That takes the pressure off me to try and ‘fix’ everything, because I can be a bit of a control freak and if someone is not happy I want to help them – sometimes even if they don’t want it!  (I am learning… slowly).

Incorporate things that make you feel good

In her email to me, our reader said that perusing my blog gives her hope when she is lunching at work.  I do this too – if I’ve had an encounter that has drained my energy or made me feel bad I raise my vibration either by telling myself a better story or I’ll go online and read one of my favourite uplifting blogs.

When I’m out walking or travelling home on the bus like I sometimes do, I listen to positive and informative podcasts.  Before I had an iPod I’d always have a favourite small book in my bag – Anne Barone’s books went to and from work countless times with me when I worked in an office and would bus into the city every day.  In my lunch break I’d go out for a half hour stroll, buy my sushi and come back to my desk to eat it (my desk was preferable to the food hall).  I’d read something inspiring whilst eating and be ready for the second half of my day.

Having a little stash of items like makeup, perfume, handcream and chewing gum for fresh breath in my bag always helps me feel more pulled together and ready for anything.  I’d always touch up after lunch.

Have a high vibration

All of these things lead to raising your vibration and you know you have a high vibration when you feel good.  I believe people can sense your vibration, just as you get a vibe from others.  Some people can be energy bullies without realising (just giving them the benefit of the doubt here) and if your energy is low they may feel justified in attacking you in small or big ways.

By doing everything possible to keep your vibration high you are more protected from these people.  Being healthy and happy goes a long way towards a high vibration so look after yourself and think good thoughts.

You can choose

And finally, at the end of the day it’s your choice about the circumstances you find yourself in.  You can weigh up whether it’s worth it for you to stay in this situation and make the most of it, knowing that you won’t be there for the rest of your life, or you can say to yourself ‘I’m really unhappy and I’m going to make plans to transition into something else’.  Making that decision can bring incredible coincidences into play and just putting it out there can start things off.

Make a list of your ideal working environment and read it often, and, why not expand it out to your ideal lifestyle?  I’m done this myself and can see things slowly (and sometimes not so slowly) shifting to match that picture I’ve painted for myself.  It’s both exciting and empowering (and sometimes a bit scary) knowing that I am in complete charge of my life, even if it doesn't feel like it at times.

I’d love to hear any thoughts my lovely readers might have on thriving in spite of an ongoing non-ideal work (or other) situation – please do share your collective wisdom.  Even if you think it’s just a tiny thing it could spark off a life-changing thought for someone else.  You may think I'm overstating this but it's true, sometimes I've heard a brief snippet that has given me a great idea that I have put into action and it's changed my trajectory (for the better!).

Sunday, September 20, 2015

'I like myself'


I’ve been listening to my old friend Brian Tracy lately (yes, him again!).  He never fails to offer me something new to consider, even though I might have heard a particular cd or track many times. 

In a recent listening I picked up the following.  He states that the only thing in life we can control are our thoughts.  Hearing this stops me obsessing about little things that can make me unhappy.

Instead of looking at my skin and thinking it looks older and is there something I can do about it (beyond my usual skincare regime I mean), I focus on my inside and think about what makes me feel happy.  Happy people are beautiful people because it comes from within.  And someone with a big smile always looks wonderful to me, no matter their age or how ‘commercially’ good looking they are.

I have noticed too, that people who are rigid and negative have a face that matches their attitude.  Coco Chanel said you earn your face and now I am thinking it’s not just about the skincare regime, it’s who you are that comes out and settles on the skin.  This has helped enormously to keep my thoughts soft and kind.  I am not as cynical as I used to be and I endeavour to look at others with more compassion too.  And don’t forget, include yourself in that compassion, that’s a tough one to remember for me sometimes.

I’m not saying I am completely letting myself go physically though.  I do the best with what I have, I try to look after my body with nourishment, light exercise and lots of moisturising.  I style my hair and apply soft, flattering makeup and wear clothes that make me feel good.  However beyond that, I don’t think much about my appearance at all.

I think my ideal life is to have a perfect balance of taking care of my outside, whilst equally or perhaps even more so focusing on the inside (the soul/thoughts etc).  I have been guilty in the past of forgetting about the inside and this never makes the outside better.  In fact some of the most beautiful women in the world are quoted as saying they never feel beautiful.

One of Brian Tracy’s main things is to repeat over and over (in your thoughts or saying it quietly to yourself) ‘I like myself’.  It sounds a bit silly and superficial, but trying it I have found makes me feel better and also make better decisions, whether it’s not being lazy, eating good food rather than crap, avoiding stupid spending and the list goes on.

He states that saying ‘I like myself’ raises your self-esteem which changes everything in your life for the better.  You are happier, more productive, more loving, you may earn more money and so on.  Even though we may feel quite ‘normal’ and happy, we often have this negative, nagging voice in our head bringing us down.  I know I have, and saying ‘I like myself’ helps change/silence it.  And then I feel much better.

Another self-talk saying I like is borrowed from EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique.  It begins ‘Even though (insert issue here)… I deeply and completely love and accept myself’.  It could be ‘Even though I overindulged in chocolate and icecream tonight and now I feel sick, I deeply and completely love and accept myself’.  Even though I was rude to someone at the supermarket today and I felt bad afterwards, I deeply and completely love and accept myself’.  Sometimes I’ll just think ‘I deeply and completely love and accept myself’ and it feels good.

Imaging talking to a friend or family member like we talk to ourselves.  Imagine watching them get dressed for work and when they look in the mirror saying to them ‘I can see your fat roll and muffin top in that shirt’.  Imagine watching them get something out of the cupboard to snack on and saying ‘You’re already overweight, why are you eating that?’.  Imagine watching them in a shop about to buy a magazine and saying ‘what a waste of money, you’ve already got magazines at home cluttering up the place.’  Would you want to spend more time with this friend, or less?

Not only are these things (though they may be true) horrible to hear, but they probably won’t stop the self-destructive behaviour.  On the contrary, out of rebellion (against ourselves) we do it anyway.

Saying ‘I like myself’ or ‘I deeply and completely love and accept myself’ in any of these situations and often during the day (especially at waking time too) is so much more helpful.  I have even had times when dumb behaviour is averted quite happily.

There is a little clip about it here, spoken by Brian himself.  He also has lots of other short videos that I sometimes click onto at work or home if I don’t have one of his CDs or my iPod handy and need a little happiness boost.

My yoga teacher said of a standing pose we were doing once, to have the crown of our heads feel pulled up to the ceiling.  She then said to make our heads feel light, and straight away my head felt weightless.  It was wonderful.  You can try it for yourself instructing your body to feel heavy, or light.  Both work!

She often talked about relaxing certain parts of the body as we went through the exercises, and feeling lightness.  I do this at home now too when I think of it.  When I was washing my face last night before bed, it was lovely and early about 8.30pm, plenty of time for winding down and relaxing myself to drop off.  I was massaging in the cleansing cream ready to tissue off and I was telling myself to feel light, calm and peaceful.  And I really felt like those words too as I got ready for bed.

Do you talk to yourself lovingly?  In a harsh way?  Are you ready to change the way you talk to, or about, yourself?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Week of Beauty, Day 7: A Beautiful Mind

For our final day in A Week of Beauty, I'm talking about having a beautiful mind.  See you on the video!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Week of Beauty, Day 6: At Home

In writing this post, I asked myself the question ‘how can I feel beautiful in my home?’  Here are some ideas I came up with.

Choose beauty even with perfunctory items.  When I buy the paper facial tissues that I use to cleanse my face, I choose the prettiest box even though it won’t be on display because I keep them in the cupboard underneath the basin.  I see them every time I use one.

Keeping possessions well-curated and regularly decluttered so that I feel at ease when opening my closet or a drawer.  Items are all in good order and I use them often. Keeping on top of things also means I am only surrounded by my favourite and most beautiful things.  Donations and rubbish are gone straight away.

Having healthy and chic food in my pantry and fridge means there is not an assault on the eyes from garishly packaged le junque food.  I love the quote ‘tacky people eat tacky food’, I heard it was attributed to Jackie Onassis.

Displaying anything I am going to eat attractively on a plate.

Playing my ‘hotel lobby’ playlist when I’m at home.  You know the easy listening piano music that hotels play sometimes?  I love music like this, and when I play it at home it instantly makes me feel relaxed and like I’m in a plush hotel.  Richard Clayderman, Carl Doy and the Northquest Players are artists I have, plus a very kitsch sounding ‘Chilled Dinner Party Piano Gold - 40 Smooth & Mellow Classic Piano Hits’.

Reading a glossy magazine.  I’ve bought one or two lately, and after a long period of buying none it feels quite nice.  I love to feel inspired by the beauty others create and share.

Turn down our beds at night.  After dinner but before bedtime I go up to our bedroom and close the windows, draw the curtains and make sure our room is tidy.  It’s so soothing to go up to later on.

I love having bar soap in the shower but like pump soap by kitchen and bathroom taps and always choose beautiful scents, plus have a pump hand cream next to it.

Having my favourite enjoyable rituals – hot tea in the morning, cocktail hour in the late afternoon on weekends, Sunday night movies.

Candles always add a touch of beauty to the home and we have at least one burning every night, even in the summer when it’s still daylight.  When I’m at home for the day I light a scented candle in the morning.  It feels very spa luxe.

Finally and most importantly, I choose the way I want to feel.  I choose to feel beautiful, relaxed, calm and organised.

I’d love to know, what makes you feel beautiful in your home?

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Week of Beauty, Day 5: Loungewear


I find it quite interesting that my most read post of all time with over 31,000 page views is ‘What to wear at home’.  Obviously it's not just me who always has this topic on my mind.  I love to change my clothing when I get home after work or a day out but I'm sometimes stumped on what the best thing to wear is (yes it's a first world problem).

Home loungewear needs to be a peculiar blend of alluring, comfortable and not too delicate.  Loungewear is not pyjamas either.  I have two sets of man-style pyjamas, one in striped blue cotton and the other a mushroom and cream baroque-print satin.  Even though they are 'man-style' in name, I feel very feminine in them.  But putting them on straight after work doesn't seem right.  I did do this once after a late afternoon shower and when my husband got home from work he thought I was going to bed.

This past winter I've worn leggings and a v-neck fine merino top which has been successful - cosy, attractive and, with two sets I always have one outfit to wear while the other is in the wash.  In the summer I've worn fine cotton or satin palazzo pants with a complementary t-shirt.

I wouldn't mind getting some even prettier pieces than that though, items that are specifically loungewear.  I will be sure to purchase in 'my' colours too - and I can really enjoy using the prettiest and most feminine shades of Soft Summer.  I was looking at camisoles today and had my Colour Me Beautiful wallet in my bag which was fun.  I didn't buy anything though because none of them were quite right and I'm going to shop more intentionally and resist the instant gratification of taking something home.

Since my wardrobe is more pared down than it was, it's quite nice to be sick of wearing something at the end of the season and looking forward to the next season.

Please do share your favourite home loungewear ideas.  Do you have specific clothing for this or keep your day clothes on?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Week of Beauty, Day 4: Serenity


How many times do you focus on what’s wrong with the world instead of what’s right?  It may come as a surprise to you but it’s not your job to take on the worries of the planet, you’ll only make yourself sick with the stress. 

Believe it or not you can actually keep up with what’s going on around the world without immersing yourself daily in the sensationalist and stressful information product that is the news. 

Alarm bells people: the news is not impartial.  We are only ever presented with a skewed perspective that suits that news service and their advertisers, and most of the time these stories are negative.  Don’t give them your mental airspace! 

Here are just some of the stories you are unlikely to hear on the news:

Couple has long and happy marriage and lives in a quiet and peaceful way
Office worker sets up longstanding automatic payment to her favourite charity
Woman helps out elderly neighbour with her shopping every week
Group of friends finally set off for overseas trip they have been saving for and planning for two years

You will just not hear those stories because they do not sell.  Sadly only the bad stuff sells newspapers, increases page views and creates riches for the news companies.  So why should we play into their hands?  Opt out, delete the news!  Don’t worry about missing out - you will hear the headlines from others anyway, guaranteed.

Enrich your life and focus on what’s beautiful in the world instead.  Start with your own world and work your way out from there.  Be a shining beacon of light and hope.  Be that person others love to spend time with because you are always cheery and upbeat.

And what can you do with that extra half hour or one hour a day that you now have? 

Read something enjoyable instead – it might be uplifting, inspiring or laugh out loud funny.  All these things have a much better effect on your health – both mental and physical.

Go to a movie – mingle with others outside your home and see something new.  I prefer happy or funny movies myself.  I’m not paying money to be stressed or made to feel bad.

Decide to learn something new or take up a craft. 

Make a home-cooked dinner. 

Call, write to or email a friend.

Choose how you might help another – set up a small Automatic Payment donation, knit premature baby tops or puppy coats.

Start your book – keep the negative thoughts at bay and just do it – you are good enough to finish that book, just keep writing.  You only lose if you quit.

What about you, are you a news person?  Do you have a secret as to how to keep up with what’s going on without spending too much time or draining your energy by reading the news?
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