Reigniting The Spark — My Personal Story From Writers’ Slump To Inspiration

My secret tips to overcoming writer’s burnout.

Photo by Olena Kamenetska on Unsplash

Burnout

Do you sometimes wake up and think, ‘I’m spent, nothing left in my tank.’?

Like something zapped all the creative juices out of you. Or someone held you upside down and it all poured out and didn’t replenish.

Let me tell you about my own recent experience with this and the strategy I used to get past it.

The Struggle to Write

At the start of February I had set myself a goal to write three articles per week . This week I had managed eleven so far but March was looming.

My last post was Sunday, and I had had a magnificent day. You can read about it here.

Sunday Alone — Sucks or Fill Your Soul With Pure Bliss?
Chose your own reality and shape your experience.medium.com

Then my working week started, and all the stresses and dramas at my workplace zapped my motivation. All I did was go to work, do some exercise, and watch Netflix. My desire to write was zilch.

The Need for a Break

I am still super proud of my February achievements. I increased the number of articles I wrote and took on a new editor role for a Medium publication, New Literary Society.

You can read about this here.

Exciting Announcement — New Editor Role
The secret is out and I’m telling everyonemedium.com

It’s important to honour and acknowledge what you have achieved and not only focus on the slump.

Forcing out a post in a writing slump often result in average quality. Sometimes life just serves you crap and you need to honour how you feel and give yourself a break.

Of course, you can’t sit in a slump forever. As writers, we need to write and that desire is there even when our mojo is gone.

So how can we get it back?

Do something else that gives you joy. Something that will ignite your senses and inspire you.

Could be a walk in nature or go to the movies with a good friend.

Why does this help?

It gets you out of the groove of thinking about writing and stops you putting pressure on yourself to perform.

What was my own secret strategy, you may ask? My game changer?

Photo by Rafael Rex Felisilda on Unsplash

I went on a CREATIVE DAY OUT.

I inspired my senses by a different art and went to the popular Kandinsky exhibition with a good friend.

The Kandinsky Exhibition Experience

We met at Sydney Martin Station at midday and walked across the beautiful Domain Park to the impressive building of the NSW Art Gallery for our creative day.

My friend is a member of the art gallery, so we had access to the members’ lounge and indulged in a scrumptious lunch first. Both writers and long-time friends, our conversation made the next one and a half hour fly by like seconds. We could have sat there for the rest of the afternoon chatting, but the exhibition beckoned.

We spent the next two hours in genuine awe and inspiration of the talent and life history of the brilliant Russian/French artist Vasily Kandinsky, who lived between 1866 to 1944.

His works moved through the times from his early oil paintings of naturalist scenes to a more abstract form, often reflecting his growing interest in the spiritual and cosmic world. You could see his works were affected by life around him. The limited art supplies during the difficult global economic times. The darker colours chosen for his last few years of life during World War II.

It was a fascinating exhibition, and we both enjoyed reading the history behind the paintings and discussing the works. By the number of art lovers around us moving from room to room in equal admiration, we were not alone in being inspired by the many beautiful paintings.

Before returning home on the train, we indulged in another drink in the lounge and, of course, another good chat.

An Inspired Mind

It was a wonderfully inspiring day, and I came back tired but ready to write. My creative juices had ignited, but I also knew that after a full day with an early yoga start, a quick dash to the market and the rest of the afternoon admiring art, my body needed a good sleep and to let the ideas simmer. My best writing time is always first thing in the morning. But I still needed to create something, so I put together this Canva slide of the day.

http://salgallaher.com/media/0f5135d8a507c78a7d1ab1ea3a817a8bCanva Slide by author

When we hit the writers’ slump, we need to give ourselves permission to stop writing, take a break and reduce the pressure to perform.

We need to live life.

To allow our creative well to fill up from inspirational fresh experiences and meaningful conversations.

So next time you hit that writers’ slump, take yourself on a creative date. I promise you it works wonders and will have you back writing in no time.


This articles was first posted 3 March 2024 on Medium.com.

Thank you for reading till the end.

If you really want to bring a smile on my dial, donate towards my coffee expense.

If you’re interested in collaborating, please contact me

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

© Sal Gallaher 2024. All rights reserved.

How to Write 50K Words During the NaNoWriMo Challenge.

This article was first posted on Writers Coop on Medium.com


NaNoWriMo is coming up in November and once again I feel the pull to participate. I am not affiliated to the organisation behind this global event but if you are thinking of joining this year, my experience may help you reach your goal.

I took part in NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2017. To give you some idea of the excitement, this is what I posted on my blog and socials back then.

“Tonight is Halloween night and it’s also the last night before NaNoWrimo starts. Scary on both counts.
This is my first attempt at NaNo and I am super excited, but also terrified of the month ahead. Can I make it through the month and get to November 30 without going mental? Time will tell.”

So what is it all about?

By signing up you commit to a challenge to write 50K words during the month of November. Basically a small novel. A huge effort but it can be done.

This is how the NaNoWrimo website describes it:

“National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, empowering approach to creative writing. The challenge: draft an entire novel in just one month. Why do it? For 30 wild, exciting, surprising days, you get to silence your inner critic, let your imagination take over, and just create!”

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

I finished the 50K words by the end November. It was tough, exhausting, and exhilarating. I enjoyed every moment and made lifelong writing friends.

I went from a novice writer to finishing the first draft of my novel. It was mind-blowing to me. I was on a high for all of December. As a newbie, I wrongly thought I had made it. The novel was done, right? No, we all know that is never the truth. Our first draft is us telling the story to ourselves. After that comes months, sometimes years, of editing.

But I accomplished the NaNoWriMo goal of writing 50,000 words in one month, and that was a tremendous leap for me as a writer.

How did I do it?

For me, it was a case of four key factors:

Commitment

For my whole life, I had wanted to write and finish a novel. I had started so many ideas. I had filled my notebooks and folders on my computer with half written stories but never followed through. Somehow, I always reached a stumbling block. Often wrote myself into a hole. Or life just took over and threw challenges at me that didn’t leave me time or creative space in my mind to continue. Divorcing and becoming a single mum left me little energy for anything else. My girls were my priority. At one stage when they were in primary school, I did an online course in ‘Writing Children’s Books’. I wrote at night when they were in bed and read my story to them the night after. ‘The Adventures of Wozzie Wombat.’ They loved it. Again, life took over, and we moved to Sydney where full-time work and motherhood left little space. Wozzie Wombat got put to sleep.

By 2017 when I again announced my dream to write a novel to my then much older girls, they both said to me ‘Mum, stop talking about it, just do it.’ That was the best writing advice I have ever received.

Combined with my stubbornness to do it this time, to prove to them I was more than just talk, I started writing.

The year flew and by September, I needed a miracle to finish. That miracle was NaNoWrimo.

I enrolled, determined to get over the finish line. There was no way I was letting myself or my girls down. I wanted them to be proud of their mum and to show them when you want something bad enough, you can do it.

Planning

My day job is planning. That means lots of analysis, spreadsheets, and a need to plan the weeks to ensure I execute the monthly workflow when needed.

As a writer I am a very much a pantzer. I love letting my imagination take me where the story needs to go. Very little planning. At least in the first draft.

But for NaNoWriMo I needed my planning skills. I had to device a solid plan that would get me there. The week before commencing the giant task, I sat down and devised my plan in a simple spreadsheet with five columns.

My Nano Tracker. Screenshot of Canva Image of Excel generated by Sal Gallaher

At the end of each session, I would update the word count to make sure I was tracking ok. If I fell behind, I made myself make it up over the weekend.

Writing

That’s an easy one, right? But when I say writing, I mean writing with no editing. That is hard for many writers, but you just do not have the time to go over your work and still get the words down. No time for perfection. At least not for me with a full-time job and only writing after hours and on weekends.

I would start each session by reading the last sentence. Nothing more. Then just go straight into writing the next scene. Never once did I allow myself to go back and check grammar or sentence structure.

The daily routine amazed me. Many a night I felt tired and would normally not have sat down to write. But I realised the mere act of sitting in front of my laptop somehow brought the muse to me every time.

Connecting

For me, it was essential to join other writers on the same NaNoWriMo journey. The organisers behind it made it so easy to join groups online and to chat to other writers. We would find writing buddies and after each session would upload our word count online after and cheer each other on. The little messages each day were so motivational and I looked forward to logging into the site after finishing my writing.

I also joined real live events at our local library once a week where we would spend part of the time speed writing and last part chatting about our struggles and accomplishments.

Both online and real live events made me feel part of something bigger and pushed me across the line.

Some of these people are still in my social groups online and we touch base from time to time and talk writing and bookish stuff.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

After NaNoWriMo

For me NaNoWriMo was a fundamental change. The draft I finished has been polished and changed since, and I am now querying with agents and hope to find a home for it. You can read the synopsis for my novel in this article.

I loved being part of the NaNoWriMo challenge and would highly recommend it to anyone needing a bit of motivation and a solid push to get to ‘THE END’.

With my 2nd manuscript at its early stages, a small part of me wants to join this year’s event. Maybe I will. It is a big commitment and I’m still weighing up whether I have the time and can prioritise a full month to it.

I hope you find my tips useful.

Would love to hear from other writers who have been part of NaNoWriMo or maybe you are joining this year?

Thanks for reading till the end.

Please support my writing by donating towards my coffee expense here

Mood Enhancing Tools

Sometimes, when our minds succumb to a bout of self-pity for no apparent reason, except perhaps due to overexertion, we all need something to ground us back to reality. While spending time with my beloved family serves as a significant source of solace, there are two other activities that instantaneously restore my positive outlook.

Yoga:

Engaging in a brief session of Yin yoga never fails to redirect my focus to the present moment, relinquishing the hold of past regrets and future uncertainties. Through gentle stretches and deliberate slowing down, I immerse myself in the practice, placing emphasis on my breath and granting myself much-needed personal time. This ritual consistently uplifts my spirits, leaving me content, serene, and prepared to confront whatever the day may bring. When performed before bedtime, it even grants me a restful slumber akin to that of a peacefully dreaming infant.

Walking by the Water:

The act of walking itself fills me with energy and an improved sense of well-being. However, what truly elevates my mood is the opportunity to step out of my front door and within minutes find myself strolling along the water’s edge. It holds a unique allure for me, invoking a profound sense of gratitude that renders any minor troubles trivial and unworthy of dwelling upon. By the time I return home, I feel invigorated and on top of the world.

Life is an ever-present tapestry of challenges, yet possessing the tools to overcome or manage them makes a world of difference. So, what are your personal means of coping and flourishing amidst life’s tribulations?

New short story – Deadly Destination

Photo by Baskin Creative Studios on Pexels.com

I’m super thrilled to be part of another FAW anthology. My third so far. The first two are available via the FAW festival website, https://www.writersunleashed.com.au/store.

I again teamed up with a writing buddy and we have both worked on our short stories over the last couple of months.

Deadly Destination, started as a short 500 word story a couple of years ago and has now expanded into 2100 word.

It’s currently with the editor for a structural edit before the final copy edit.

This is always an exciting process to be part of; to see the book of stories take shape and to work with other writers on the project.

Here is a snippet of the first section to whet your appetite.

‘For a very long time, it lay silent, frozen in time and in structure. Hidden from civilisation beneath the cold ice, covered in layers of bone chilling snow. Its weapon was harmless. Unable to kill. A frozen assassin.

    Years of changing weather patterns altered the killer. Like a hibernating bear, the deadly bacteria stretched and yawned back to life. Sneaking out. Leaking to the surface, looking for sustenance. A pale green living mass slithering across the icy surface, seeking, hunting, devouring any living being in exchange of energy. It’s simple brain realising with deadly clarity it could no longer stay frozen. To continue living, it needed to thaw and live above the surface. Global climate changes were its saviour.

    Deep in the Canadian glacial mountains, where only few humans would venture, it started its roar, building strength from every tiny frozen bacterial cell and slowly morphing into a living, multiplying green surface slime. A killer of all life on earth.’

I can’t wait to see the final result when this anthology is launched. One of the many benefits of being part of a writers’ group.

The Many Benefits of Massage Therapy

Three years ago, Covid took over the world with a vengeance. Many of us had to navigate the changing landscape weekly, asking ourselves the eternal question, ‘Can I do this now? Is it safe?’  For me, it was a scary time, and I held back on many activities. Including having a regular massage.

I am a fully qualified massage therapist. I know that stress relief and relaxation are some of the many benefits of a massage. Yet I held back. It was simply another question I had to navigate in those uncertain times. For me it was easier to just not consider it.

This week I finally booked myself in for an hour’s massage at a new local place. To be honest, it was not the best massage I had ever had. But it was absolutely what I needed. I emerged feeling like a zombie on cloud nine, and that evening I slept like a log all night.

Let’s go deeper than just my experience. How can a massage session help you? What are the benefits?

We have used massage therapy for centuries to promote healing, relaxation, and overall well-being. From reducing stress and anxiety to relieving pain and improving circulation, massage therapy has a wide range of benefits that can improve your life in many ways.

Here are just a few of the ways your life can improve from regular massage therapy:

  • Relieve Pain

One of the most well-known benefits of massage therapy is its ability to relieve pain, whether acute or chronic. Massage therapy works by increasing blood flow to affected areas, which promotes healing and reduces inflammation. It also releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers that help to reduce pain and promote relaxation.

  • Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Another major benefit of massage therapy is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Not only has this therapy shown to reduce the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, but it can also increase our feel good hormones, serotonin and dopamine. Overall, a massage can improve your mood and mental state and often lead to improved and deeper sleep.

  • Boost Immune System

Massage therapy can also boost your immune system. By stimulating lymphatic flow and promoting circulation, massage therapy can help improve immune function and reduce the risk of illness and infection.

  • Improve Posture and Alignment

By reducing muscle tension and promoting proper alignment, massage therapy can help correct postural imbalances, which can improve overall body alignment and reduce pain.

  • Increase Flexibility and Range of Motion

Tense muscles restrict normal movement. By reducing muscle tension and increasing flexibility, massage therapy can help improve range of motion and joint mobility.

  • Enhance Athletic Performance

By improving range of motion, reducing muscle tension, and promoting proper alignment, massage therapy can help enhance athletic performance and reduce the risk of injury.

  • Reduce Headaches and Migraines

Massage therapy can also help reduce the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines. By reducing muscle tension and promoting relaxation, massage therapy can help reduce the frequency and severity of tension headaches and migraines.

The benefits are many and wide reaching across so many aspects of your health. But the simplest, and sometimes the most important, is the mere touch of gentle hands moving across your body. In this age of our connectivity so often being across a screen, the enormous benefit of touch often gets neglected, yet it is a fundamental human need equally as important as water and food.

So next time you are feeling low or in pain, or indeed just want to be good to yourself, go book yourself in for a massage. You will benefit in more ways than you ever realise.

TRAVELLING AGAIN

I have always loved travelling, visiting family and familiar places as well as exploring new destinations. The excitement mixed with a little nervous energy, part of my makeup, but never enough to make me not want to travel.

That is till Covid hit and turned our lives upside down. Then travel all of a sudden seemed the scariest thing in the world.

In Australia, where I live, we remained relatively Covid free in the beginning of the pandemic when so many countries suffered a huge loss of lives. As an island, we had the ‘luxury’ to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. But our ‘freedom’ from Covid came at a loss. It virtually meant no travel in or out of Australia for a long time. Even our state borders closed and in Sydney our lock downs meant the government restricted us to only travel within a 10 km radius from home. Indeed, a strange time. Then vaccines came, and we slowly opened up, followed by the new variant Omicron. Lockdown and working from home again. All the changes over the last two years have been totally exhausting.

This post will not be about Covid and what we went through, but I know the experience influenced me as a person. To finally book this trip and hop on a long plane trip across to Denmark was a huge step for me. Totally out of my comfort zone. But the prospect of seeing my family again got me across the line. My last trip to Denmark was Xmas 2017, almost 5 years ago. If Covid taught me one thing, it’s that none of us know what’s around the corner. I did not want to defer my trip to the following year and maybe live to regret it. 

So my flight got booked and here I am. At my sister’s place recovering from a bit of jet lag and a body that aches like I just took part in a marathon. But otherwise thrilled to be here. 

Let’s take a few steps back to when my trip started in Sydney. 

My flight was an evening flight, so I hoped it would help me have a good sleep. I had the day off, so less stress getting sorted and packed. But the day dragged. Excitement and stress raced through my body, taking turns in being the dominant runner.

I hopped in an Uber late afternoon and made my way to the airport. It wasn’t too busy and the baggage check-in progressed relatively easy. They had assigned me a window seat despite preference for being an aisle. With a fully booked plane and it was impossible to change it. Already a bit concerned about having to wear a face masks for the long flight the window seat added to my stress. Claustrophobic tendencies and being locked in a window seat have in the past brought on the unwelcome panic. So I book aisle seats. This time there was no way out of it. I had a fourteen hour flight in front of me squashed into a window seat. I had to accept it and told myself I could deal with it but also knew claustrophobia could come on out of the blue and often makes no sense to the normal mind. Strangely enough, part of me also found this challenge empowering. Resolute on not letting it bother me I focused on the benefits of a  better view out of the plane. 

The plane, a big comfortable A380, sported plenty of seat room and I settled in next to a young couple. A surprising calm settled in me. The plane ran late by an hour because of an ill passenger needing to off board the plane. For a short moment I wondered if it the traveller had Covid, but I soon persuaded myself  to not let my mind take me down that path.

As we took off, the view across Sydney mesmerised me. Lights shone like diamonds everywhere and the roads slid across the city like giant lit up snakes. A beautiful sight that I would not have enjoyed from an aisle seat.

The face mask didn’t really bother me. I wear a very comfortable reusable mask from Airinum with KN95 filters. But for the first time I had to wear it for 24 hours straight. I can report even after 24 hours I had no issues. Many did though. Some passengers, even though it was compulsary to wear the mask, would ‘forget’ when getting up after finishing their meals, or wear them under their noses or chins. A common sight in everyday life that always makes me wonder. Are they just plain stupid, rebellious of nature or just don’t care for others? But we are all different I guess, and do what we are capable of in life. The Covid pandemic has affected us all and each of us have had to make choices that we could live with and stay both physically and mentally strong throughout this strange time. For me wearing a mask was such a simple thing to do not only avoid catching Covid but more so a way to avoid spreading it to someone more vulnerable.

Because of the initial delay in take off from Sydney, we arrived late in Dubei, which meant a very short layover. Just enough time to do a quick pit stop at the bathroom, then walk the long trek to the gate. Why are gates always on opposite ends of an airport? Do they do that to make us passengers walk more? Good exercise after sitting, I guess.

Next leg, a six hour flight to Copenhagen. My destination getting closer and hearing the Danish language from the captain announcing the flight journey made me smile under the mask. Going back to my birth land again filled me with content and happiness. The older I get, the more I connect to Denmark and to its people and rituals. It means more to me. When we age life slows down and with less responsibility of career and family life, we gain time to dig deep and think about our true feelings. What we are about. I love that about getting older. Perhaps there is some truth about the saying ‘You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl’.

I finally arrived on Danish soil and the sound of the Danish language could be heard all around me. Clouds covered the sky and a little cool breeze greeted me but the constant walking from the plane through customs, picking up luggage, hopping on train to Copenhagen central station kept me warm. I felt exhausted. I had plans to get a local sim card at the station and enjoy my first hot dog. A Danish delicacy I normally must have as soon as I land. But tiredness took over and the hot dog got the flick.

I just wanted to catch the first train across to Jutland, where my sister would pick me up. I got my ticket and headed to the platform. A three hour fast train trip with one train switch. I could manage that. So you would think, right? But nope, my tired body and brain, after two hours on the train the switch proved too hard. I got myself on a train heading at great speed back towards Copenhagen. I almost cried when I found out. So this girl got herself off at the next station, again up and down stairs with heavy luggage, work out which platform would get me on a train back to the station I had come from, so I could get on the correct train. An extra hour to the already long trip I did not need.

But the error meant I got to meet a lovely Danish woman, a connection I would never have experienced. Her husband was very ill after a blood clot, unable to function and speak. She would regularly do the long train trip to visit him. A very sad story, but her positive outlook amazed me. My little trip error shrunk next to her problem. 

I finally arrived at Herning station at 7pm greeted by my sister’s beaming face on the platform. 30 minutes later, after a shower and fresh clothes, I sat down to enjoy a scrumptious dinner of smorrebrod with my sister, brother and sister-in-law. We chatted and laughed till long into the evening. My heart overflowed. I was home. 

Despite the stressful decision to go and the long trip from Sydney, I am proud I did it and absolutely worth it. This photo says it all.

Why We Need To Create.

“Sure. It’s hard to be creative when the world is a shitstorm. But that’s when we need good art to escape into.” Alan Baxter

I saw this tweet yesterday, and it resonated with me. I have myself, at times, been consumed with what is going on around us so much that it has drained me of all my creativity. But this tweet stayed with me, dug deep into my creative soul and pushed me to bare myself. To create. To write. 

As a writer, I can create wonderful worlds that both I and my readers can escape into when we need to forget about reality. Worlds we want to linger in forever, turning page after page, never wanting it to end. A world with no deadly bugs or power-hungry humans with deadly intentions. Or at least if I do create such worlds I can have solutions and an ending, and we can pop into such worlds knowing we have the power to close the book when we have had enough. Not stuck with ongoing pages of misery, fear, frustrations and inhumane actions.

I can develop characters that are flawed and real but who have hearts that make us want to connect with them, to cheer them on in their journeys, to be their bestie. Souls we long to have in our own reality where genuine connections are becoming harder each day. We can spend time in their homes enjoying cups of tea or glasses of wine over chats. My reader and I can be inside their minds, reading their innermost thoughts, knowing them as you would know an old friend. I can have them enjoy interesting events that perhaps I never will enjoy or perhaps I have experienced in my past. My characters can take on interesting challenges to build their personalities, to make them grow and learn. To make them better humans. Humans that I want to know and continue to have in my life, or humans who need to learn more, and with just a few of my words on a page, I can have them deal with the consequences of their actions.

In our real world, many of us feel more and more like puppets in a play where the puppet master is unknown. In my written worlds, I am the puppet master. I pull the strings even if sometimes it may feel like my characters are taking me on their journeys. But I always have the power to write THE END.

When I write, it comes from my mind and my heart. It gives me immense joy, but what keeps me going is knowing someone else may read it one day and have a moment of equal joy. It feeds my need to keep writing even when the world is a shitstorm.

Yes, indeed we need good art. More than ever. To heal our traumatised hearts, restore our faith in humanity and feed the hungry creative souls of both the writer and the reader. 

So go forth, my writer friends, and create. Today!

HOW TO LIVE WITH FEAR AND BE OK

Do you experience that gripping feeling of fear that you can’t explain? Do you feel that heaviness and need to cry for no reason in the early hours of the morning when many of us are often alone. The world and the day’s business not yet distracting our thoughts and our fears.

I think many of us have experienced it, especially over the last 18 months.

It’s hard to block out the daily news of another lockdown, another virus strain, the tally of cases and deaths on top of the rest of the ‘normal’ bad news from around the world.
I have heard so many utter ‘will it ever end’, and understand how hard it can be to stay positive when there is so much uncertainty surrounding us all. In addition, the normal support and human contact with our family and friends taken away from us just adds the to enormity of the problems in our troubled minds.

But one thing will always be there. 

We always control our reaction. We can choose to curl up and give up, or we can choose to accept and make the most of what life throws at us.

I know, not always easy. 

Keep reading for some things that I do to help me stay calm and be in control of my reaction. 

JOURNALLING

Writing your thoughts and feelings down gets them out of your head and frees your mind up to be still and see any issue in a new light. Writing doesn’t give us a solution, but it helps. The old ‘problem shared problem halved’ is so true. Keep a notebook handy next to your bed for those mornings or nights when you feel anxious.

CONNECTING

Staying in regular contact with family and friends either via online, phone calls or in person if allowed. This is important for anybody living by themselves like me. You also may never know when your call may be just what the other person needs that day. Reach out. We all need to feel connected. It’s a human basic need, not a sign of weakness.

EXERCISE

Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins and triggers a happy feeling. Get yourself moving!

If you can’t get outside or to a gym, just do what you can inside. Put the music up high and dance. Do a yoga session. Get some cans out and do weights. Walk around your place. There is so much inspiration available online, just tap into it and get moving. 

If you can get outside, go for a daily walk or a bike ride. If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, even better. The fresh air and sunshine will do your body and mind wonders. 

When Covid first hit and I had to work from home, I started a regular daily yoga routine. I have had no back issues since. I feel strong and it soothes my mind.

HOBBIES

Take time out for your existing hobbies or start new ones. Spending time on what you love doing is the best mood enhancer. 

I love being creative. My passions are writing and taking photos. 

Emerging myself in a fiction story is a wonderful way to escape the real world for just a few hours. I can bring characters and events to life with my imagination. 

Taking photos requires me to look at everything around me. My lens acts like a child’s eye, taking delight in the smallest details; a bright flower, rain drops on a branch, reflections in a rock pool, the shape of a cloud. 

HEALTHY EATING

What we put into our bodies affects both our physical and mental being. We all indulge, but I know if I eat too much chocolate or drink too much coffee, my brain gets that fuzzy feeling. It slows down and my body feels sluggish. But when I eat well, not only do I feel good about myself, my body also responds with additional energy. My problems and daily tasks no longer enormous obstacles. 

As long as I eat healthy most of the time, I can have the odd indulge. My body and mind are strong enough to accept that sometimes I just feel like chocolate and that is ok.

ACCEPTANCE

So much in life we have no control over. Especially now. 

But we can choose to accept our situation and we can control our reaction to it. 

I am a firm believer that we are all where we need to be at any moment in life. 

That does not mean we have to always just accept like a doormat. If we want change, then we can choose to change our lives. But if we do not have that control, we can accept and choose to be ok with our current situation. To still feel joy in some part of our lives. Maybe as simple as watching the rain outside dropping on the plants still living. Maybe it’s watching a good movie on Netflix, reading a brilliant book, preparing an enjoyable meal. So many simple things in life can bring us happiness. We just have to focus a little harder sometimes.

I hope, wherever you are and whatever your situation, this post has given you some helpful tips.

Stay safe and keep yourself well in body and mind. 

The Xmas Card

Photo by Danish photographer Rene Asmussen – https://www.pexels.com/@reneasmussen

Anna sat down to write on the multi coloured Christmas card she had spent over an hour selecting in the David Jones Xmas section. Baby animals jumping around the well known portly man in his red suit filled the front of the card. Anna was sure her new grandson would love it. Her first grandchild.

‘Dear Jacob’, Anna started, imagining her daughter reading out the words to the young baby who’s age was still being counted in weeks and days.

Anna wanted the card to be special. It was going to be Jacob’s first Christmas. She would much prefer to be there, to hold him tight and whisper ‘Merry Christmas my little one’ into his ear, but it was not to be this time.

She stared at the blank inside of the card. The words did not flow. Instead, wet giant silent tears formed and trickled down her cheek. Images of Jacob from the many photos and videos her daughter Lilly had sent rolled in front of her eyes. This tiny human that she had yet to meet in person had already taken up a massive chunk of her heart. He was not her own baby, but the feelings she felt for him seemed as strong as her feelings were for Lilly. It had taken Anna by surprise, and memories of holding her own babies had come flooding back. She longed to hold this baby, but it was too dangerous to travel just yet with the pandemic still raging.

She wiped her cheek and pushed the chair back, making it almost fall over. The heat in her chest spread like wildfire across her body, causing knots in her throat and redness in her cheeks. 

Damn flushes. Not now!!

Anna couldn’t control the tears or the hot flush, and raced to the bathroom, stripped down naked into the shower of welcoming cool water. While the tears flowed down her cheeks the tightness in her chest and throat eased. The roughness of the towel drying her body felt comforting.

She walked back into the kitchen and made herself a cool drink from the fresh mint leaves and soda, then pulled out the old family photo album.

Pictures of happy faces over the years, sleeping babies, birthday parties and picnics. And many Christmas’s; silver and gold adorned trees, tables laded with turkey and glazed ham, steaming pudding full of rich marinated fruit and warm creamy custard. 

Christmas in so many locations, most years in their old red brick home. But also the occasional Christmas spent abroad in the cold northern winter with snow and darkness outside, and smells of vanilla cookies, roast pork and pine needles inside. Other times with friends up north in the blistering heat, everyone in swimmers in the backyard under the tarp thrown over the Hills-hoist, and the kids playing with their water guns soaking wet and laughing.

So many memories in the photo album, but also in Anna’s heart and she knew in her children’s heart. No Christmas had ever been a sad event for the little ones, even if the adults had had their own problems to deal with. For the kids, every Christmas had always meant good times and lots of presents. 

Jacob would have many more Christmas days, and Anna knew she would celebrate with him one day. His parents would be with him this year. It would be their new little family Christmas. Their time to start their very own mesh of old and new family traditions filling albums of happy memories.

Anna sat down to write.

Dear Jacob,

You don’t know me yet, but you will soon. I am your Grandma from Sydney, where our Christmas is in summer, and the sun shines almost every day. We will meet one day, and I will read Australian books to you, and show you pictures from your mum’s homeland. Maybe one day you can visit me, and I can take you to places I am sure you will love; giant beaches and bays, shady bush lands with enormous trees reaching right up to the clouds, and so many wonderful animals that will make you squeal with delight.

Till we meet my love, I welcome you to life, and hope you have a wonderful blessed Christmas with your very own mum and dad.

Love Grandma xxx

What Makes You Smile?

Exploring my neighbourhood with my camera.

With Covid restrictions this year many Australians have missed their usual overseas trips. We are a travelling nation and frequent flyers. But 2020 and Covid-19 put a stop to that.

The silver lining in these travel restriction has been getting to know our own backyard. I have lived in this area for over 20 years, and today was the first time I actually crossed this walking bridge at Como.

I took my digital camera, first time this year , and took a few snaps. With everything going on around me I had forgotten how much I enjoy just getting out there seeing the world with new eyes. That’s what I love about photography. Seeing the details around us. The things we are too busy to sometimes notice.

Then to finish my photo outing having lunch with a good friend overlooking the water was just the icing on the cake.

Stay safe where ever you are, and don’t forget to keep finding reasons to smile.

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