Tag Archives: work life balance

Spring Reflections

Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you can now make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you.

A Course in Miracles

How often do you audit your work life balance?

In business, one is encouraged to come up with  a plan which should be regularly reviewed …at least every 90 days. Achievable goals should be set and if they are not met , it’s OK to revise and tweak them so that a good outcome can be achieved. A good business plan will cover many areas, such as sales, marketing, networking and more. As the business evolves, so too does its needs. There is an ebb and flow of priorities in different areas.

For our personal lives too, we need to set goals so that we don’t just aimlessly drift into the sunset of dreams never fulfilled.  We may set a goal that  seems realistic at the time. Even setting what one networking person described to me as “a great big hairy audacious goal”.

All this is good,  but life will sometimes throw us a curve ball when we least expect it. The lessons to be learned when this happens are invaluable when we stop to reflect. Too much focus on a particular area will result in an imbalance in other areas unless we are diligent in maintaining a healthy work life balance. Many will be familiar with The Wheel of Life tool which is at the bottom of this post.

It’s important to have a positive mindset about any setbacks and ask ourselves the following questions.

  • What can I learn from this?
  • What could I do better next time?
  • What resources do I need to achieve the outcome I desire?
  • What goals do I need to set to achieve my outcome or vision?

Wheel of Life exercise

Setting up for New Year

Within youThis time of year can be filled with frantic activity to finish off chores, projects and to socialize, eat, drink and be merry.

It’s important to look after yourself and part of doing the best you can is to make sure that you don’t “burn the candle at both ends” and end up exhausted. Depleting your energy will leave you open to various ills, chills  and mental lethargy that seems to abound at this time of year. Not only that,  both your body and mind need to take a rest so that you can accomplish your future goals. This is particularly important with the round of New Year’s resolutions about to be made. Start your planning now to make realistic and achievable goals.

Firstly, taking time out to rest and rejuvenate is a way of showing love and respect for yourself. Sometimes others may not understand the need for this, but to be able to construct effective goals for the coming year, it is vitally important for you to identify what stressed you out in 2014 and ask yourself a couple of questions,  “What do I really want?”  and ” Why do I want it?”
Once you have the answers to these, write them down. This is the start to an effective goal setting strategy.

Meditation is a great way to have a fresh and rested mind and by setting the intent to do so you can release the worries from this last year with some simple visualization techniques, such as letting go of balloons that have your worries written on them, or clouds scudding across a sky and disappearing over the horizon.

What obstacles are in your way to creating a better year for yourself in 2015? Are they procrastination, being “busy”? Name the obstacles, in order to better plan around them or circumvent them popping up again. Awareness is the key to removing or resolving obstacles.

Who can help you achieve your goals? Or perhaps there are things that you need to put in place……  Be clear about what you want and communicate your needs with courage.

And finally you need a plan of action steps to take ……  there is no point in having goals if you are not going to DO anything.   You can dream all you like, but deep down you know that a goal is a dream with a deadline.

When are you going to implement your goals? Be specific. Take baby steps so you don’t get overwhelmed….. break it down so each step is achievable and moves you closer to your end goal.

Remember to plan for yourself, not what you think others would like you to do…. it means that you are stepping out of your integrity. Embrace the goals you have set for yourself, take a risk, acknowledge yourself and take action and let the universe reward you with abundance and transform your life…..

Busy as a Bee

Busy  beeSpring has arrived, even though most of the wattles have finished flowering and various seeds are sprouting.

I had just about given up on this one…. when I took a closer look at a different shade of green in the centre of the labyrinth.  The outer ring is punctuated by garlic shoots spearing up through the heavy clods of clay – although one or two have been pruned by some hungry creature….. hmmm!! Me-thinks there might be a  pre-seasoned rabbit or two?

The labyrinth construction started on Good Friday this year and we took some time off to enjoy the Rushworth Easter Parade on  the Saturday.  The dogs accompanied us and didn’t enjoy the experience as they were unused to crowds, so I sat out with one of them in a grassy area at the top of town.

Nearby are Oak trees that must have been planted in the Gold Rush days of the 19th century.  They stand guard over the memories of better days for the little town. It is said that it takes around 120 years for an Oak tree to mature and produce a good crop of acorns – these have tolerated drought, heat, cold, frost…. and the ground around them was blanketed with them.

I pocketed a few and took the time to plant 5 in and around the labyrinth. No sign of any growth for many months, except for a variety of plants classed as weeds. A month or so before Easter, I had also gathered some acorns from an Oak tree that was overhanging the fence at my son’s first house out of home. He and his young family were moving out and I thought it would be nice to have some trees as a memento of where they first brought the baby home. Acorns duly potted up, 2 sprouted almost straight away. Not having any use for the pots and thinking I would use the soil for compost later, I left them where they were. To my surprise, just a few weeks ago, I counted another 10 Oak tree seedlings emerging….

Now if only the sage seeds would start doing something!!!! I’m waiting on the Grass Tree seeds to germinate as well. They grow wild in the forest just a couple of kilometers down the track, and many have been vandalized. I bought the seeds, but now I know what they look like, may stop and have a look for some next time I’m down that way.

A single Jacaranda seed, saved from a school excursion my daughter went on years ago, has been potted up and I’ve noticed that the city neighbors Jacaranda trees have some seed pods on them…. time to ask if I can harvest them! Some of the towns to the east of Rushworth have Jacarandas planted in the main streets and look spectacular in flower. I can envision a stand of them along the driveway, perhaps interspersed with the glorious yellow of Kowhai trees competing with the wattles for colour. I still have some Kowhai seeds saved from the house where the children were first raised.

The Oak trees will be planted out closer to where ever the planned retreat building goes, to partly act as shade and being deciduous, as a fire break – but also to offset my carbon footprint. I also see it as building an inheritance for whoever is custodian of the land long after I have gone.

labyrinth12Half a dozen Pomegranate trees are thriving in pots and another 10 or so continue to live in crowded conditions in a corner of the city garden. These are now about 4 or 5 years old and as I thin them out they are growing much stronger and taller.  Having read of the health benefits of pomegranate, i’m sure that I will have a veritable forest of them shortly! As the trunks are rather “leggy”, I’m thinking of using them as a screen in front of the labyrinth.

A pot bound Avocado  that is about 8 years old is destined to make the road trip once I have a couple more seeds sprouting.

mowed area3Visitors are arriving in early October for “A Back to Basics” camping weekend. In preparation an area has been mowed – partly to remove the unwanted Biddy Bush – but mostly to discourage snakes which are likely to be starting to stir after their winter hibernation.  That’s it in the foreground…. 12 months regrowth. It doesn’t have much of a smell to it, but it must contain some volatile oils, because you can pull it up out of the ground (only after a good rain) and put it on the fire – green and wet – and it burns like crazy.

mowing2Driving the tractor is a great time to meditate – you have to be mindful not to mow rocks and to keep fairly straight lines – although I had fun going in circles mowing around the labyrinth.

Another bonus is that a lot of the capeweed flowers were lopped off, and although they might look pretty and the bees seem to love them, I would rather not have them there. It seems that the only natural solution to get rid of them is to mow  before the flowers set seed and mulch, oversow with other grasses and top dress the lot with dolomite.  All the other advice is to spray with roundup or similar…..I don’t really want to become a Monsanto customer. From what I can ascertain, capeweed grows in over tilled soil and where there is little topsoil enriched with humus. It is also a hazard to horses, causing a magnesium deficiency – not that I have any stock at all – except the itinerant kangaroos, who seemed somewhat unhappy that their feed had been mowed and a couple of displaced hares who seem to have moved into next door’s thicket of Biddy Bush.

In between all of this, my city business is also starting to grow with the arrival of Spring. I’m coaching, seeing hypnotherapy clients and this past week has been full of networking activities and late nights. All about that in another post……..

Making changes

focusGradually I am bringing my focus in…..

At the end of October the business registration for BrightLight Specialized Education runs out and after 4 years it is time to let it go. it has served its purpose and is a little too long to use in social media & on the web.

Plus, many people have mistakenly thought that it is about special education – which is about educating people with learning difficulties, whereas the intention behind the word “specialized” was that I was specializing in holistic education. No matter.. the new business name is Balance4Life programs and that’s been running in tandem for just over 2 and half years.

You may have noticed that I have re-badged/re-named this blog to Balance4Life, although It still has the BrightLight domain name. That runs out in November and it is also not being renewed and it will revert to being a wordpress blog. I will continue to post here and add opinions and may eventually change the theme as well, although I do like this one.

Other changes are in the pipeline too….. involving some travel but more about that in a later post.

Autumn Equinox

observationA day late for the actual Equinox which according to the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne was at 11.02am on the 20th – the 21st is the Wicca festival of Mabon.

Celtic tradition also celebrated this marking of the change from Summer to Autumn.

Harvest festivals meant that people could celebrate the abundance of fruits and vegetables and great feasts were held, business concluded as people began to prepare for the winter months and a period of reflection.

It also marks the passage of womanhood from the fecundity of motherhood as she passes into the crone or Wise Woman.

It’s a time to reflect on the balance between light and dark as the equinox brings us a period of almost equal length of night and day.

A time too to reflect on the change of season and although Australia marks the change of season by the calendar – Australian Autumn starts on the 1st March – we have experienced six consecutive days of temperatures in the high 30C”  (which crisped the leaves nicely) and then marked by high winds and a terrific thunderstorm today. All serving to remind us that warmer days are now being left behind and colder weather lies ahead.

So how to celebrate or mark the Equinox?

Bring some balance to your life.

  • Show gratitude for any abundance you are experiencing and become aware of the high energy of this time….. the waxing moon as we head to the Full Moon and Easter will affect many people energetically.
  • Draw up a “Gratitude List” – putting it down on paper will help to bring a new perspective to your situation.
  • If you are blessed with abundance, share some of that with others less fortunate. Perhaps donate some non perishables to your local charity or do some fundraising for a worthy cause.
  • Reconnect with nature – walk in the local park and enjoy Nature’s technicolour show of Autumn leaves. Visit your local orchardist and pick some new season apples – you will be amazed at how different they taste to shop ones which often have been in cold storage for more than a year.
  • Gather some friends together and have your own “feast” – savour the taste of the harvest fruit and vegetables and feast on timeless stories….



Work Life Balance

Speaking notes of the talk given at the Monash Women’s Business Network meeting on Wednesday 10th November 2010, where I was part of a panel of 3 speakers talking about Work Life Balance. This followed on from Ann Barker (State Member for Oakleigh) and Jane Riley (owner of Set 4 Life)

The consequences of not achieving a good work –life balance

For business, the consequences of poor work life balance translate into decreased productivity and increased absenteeism.

For the employee, particularly women, there are a number of issues to be considered.

The home workload is often as great for the working woman as her paid work commitments, even if she is only working part-time.

An article in the Age (August 4, 2010) stated that there was an increase in the number of people who felt that their jobs were interfering with their family time. Interestingly, a survey by the University of South Australia, quoted in the article, found that while Australia has one of the worlds highest percentages of women in part-time work, they demonstrated the same stress levels as men who were engaged in full-time work.

Who is at risk? What are the issues?

Middle aged professionals such as accountants, lawyers and teachers are at greater risk of a diverse range of health problems, divorce and even early death if they don’t get their work life balance right. This is most apparent with achievement orientated people and those driven to succeed.

The result of long and intensive stress is disease. The stress comes from working harder and longer but not necessarily smarter in our technology driven world. The very machines that were to free us from labour have enslaved us in other ways. There is the expectation for women to do more things in less time. Our feminist forebears would turn in their graves if they could see the outcome.

Stress, in itself, can be either a positive or a negative experience, but regardless of how one perceives it, the flight or fight response is activated. The experience can become addictive.

Hormones such as CRH (Corticotrophin) and AVP (Arginine-vasopressin) are released and activate neurons in the hypothalamus.

Cortisol – This is a primary stress hormone, releases sugar and increased glucose into the bloodstream. This inhibits function in the digestive, immune and reproductive systems and affects growth and development.

Adrenaline – another hormone and a neurotransmitter, which when released, increases the heart rate, the respiratory rate and blood pressure.

The hormonal changes can cause symptoms which manifest as palpitations, rapid heart rates, nausea, vomiting, digestive upsets such as diarrhea or constipation, cold clammy hands and muscular tension.

Stressors can be mental, emotional, physical or psychological. The consequences of sustained stress are (& this is not an exhaustive list)





Sleep disturbances


Social withdrawal


Higher blood pressure,

Increased weight



With any or all of these stressors continuing to occur, the immune system becomes depressed and chronic stress sets in. So how does this happen?  The cycle of stress costs us more than an unhealthy body.

As Cortisol levels rise – as a result of stress – obesity becomes an issue. Chronic stress affects the production and storage of fat in our bodies. We are already at risk of obesity with our eating habits altered. Time poor we reach for the fast food solution, which is often high in fat and sugar, altering our blood chemistry and increasing our risk of high cholesterol, diabetes and heart failure.

Stress related illnesses cost not only family, but the community.  We are seeing an increase in stress related immune diseases, such as Glandular Fever, Shingles and Lupus. The immune system is further weakened by poor eating habits and our addiction to tea, coffee, sugar, salt, alcohol and other substances. Our sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise, pollution and drugs and medicines all contribute to compromise an overloaded system. So often we are “running on empty” and when we finally get that holiday and relax, we get sick.

Other indicators of stress can be alopecia – for both men and women

Facial stress lines

Behavioral stress, often leading to family conflicts, divorce

Alcohol or substance abuse

Coronary heart disease and stroke


Depression and for some, the pressure becomes too much and suicide becomes their option.

In searching for a work life balance, we need to look at what support we have. Many women feel like they are on a merry-go-round of exhaustion and lack family support. The traditional family structures have disappeared and with relocation from our original homes, the modern professional woman may have no backup to relieve them from the exhaustion of their daily grind. They may even find that their work life balance fluctuating wildly from chaos to perfect balance.

Setting personal goals is valuable and they need to be clear and achievable.

I could use an F word here – in fact I could use at least 6!

The first is FOCUS

Focus on:






Focusing clearly on goals for all of these areas will help to prioritize needs.

Just a tiny adjustment and stroke of the pen will change those F words to P words….

Prune what is necessary. The garden often flourishes once the old, dead wood has been pruned out.

Focus will help remove those noxious weeds of guilt and overwhelm. Ask yourself “How much responsibility will I take on? (Jane spoke about exercising the “NO” muscle)   How will it impact on my wellbeing?”

By being present and not taking work home (if possible – teachers will have difficulty here) and outsourcing tasks (if affordable), stress can be reduced.

Prioritize what is important to you – your health or the housework?

Good childcare is hard to source and if you can get it, take it. It is there for you.

Make some time for yourself – make an appointment for you