Author: Bree James

Breaking Habits and Building Your Ideal Life

Achievement isn’t about luck, it’s about lots of small considered actions. Your decisions shape your destiny. Every day we make thousands of decisions, many of which are subconscious. These will either take you to the life you desire or one that you detest.

It’s the little decisions that shape our lives. These are decisions such as what you eat, how you spend your time, what you spend your money on and many more. These determine the life you end up with. Here are a few ways small, daily decisions can add up to be something amazing. 

Healthy Eating

According to researchers at Cornell University, everyone makes roughly 226 decisions each day on food alone. If you went to the gym every day, you wouldn’t notice a difference on day one. You wouldn’t notice a difference after a week. You would probably start to notice a difference after two weeks. But it’s likely no one else would, and maybe others would notice after a month.

Same goes if you ate a chocolate cookie every day. Maybe you started out at 60 kilos, but you’d likely put on a couple of kilos if you ate one every day. Do that for a few years and it will be quite a few more. Small committed changes with our health can make a massive impact, but like the Pantene ad tells us, “it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”. Think about small improvements you can make to your health that can have a massive impact over time.

Smart Spending

Every dollar you spend today is costing you nearly $5 in 20 years, and just over $10 in 30 years. How? Well, if you had a dollar and invested it at 8%, in 20 years it would be valued at $4.66.

Think about that five dollar a day coffee habit you have. This could add up to $1825 a year, which if invested and compounded at 8% would give you $92,021.83 in 20 years. So, now when you buy something for $5, remember it’s a value of $25 in 20 years. It may just make you reconsider that unnecessary purchase.

Learn, Learn, Learn

It’s your choice whether you invest in learning for 30 minutes a day. You COULD invest in watching TV for thirty minutes a day (or more) instead. That investment of 30 minutes a day adds up to 182 hours of learning something new. It’s the same with our kids. If they practice their time tables or musical instrument every day, there is no doubt they will improve. If we read to our child every night for 15 minutes, that will add up to nearly 100 hours of teaching them how to read in one year.

Do you want to master a skill? One researcher said it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. That translates to about nine years (five days a week, spending four hours a day). They say it can take six months to develop a new skill. 20 hours to learn a skill “to perform well enough for your own purposes” such as playing guitar. So, think about your time, and how much you invest in learning. You could be playing guitar for the family or on stage in no time, or still watching old episodes of Friends that you’ve seen before. The decision is yours.

That’s the power of small decisions. If you aren’t careful, one sneaky bad habit can take you miles off course. Don’t sleep walk through your choices. You’ve learned every habit you have, so you can unlearn them too. Good luck.

www.breejames.com 

My Vision Book

Teaching Children to Have a World View, Not a Self-View

Ask anyone over the age of 50 what they think about the younger generations,. It’s likely to be something along the lines of “all they care about is themselves”.

In a world obsessed with selfies, it’s understandable why many of us Generation X & Y parents are trying to navigate this new world of parenting. Our childhood was similar to that of our own parents. Yet it’s so different to that of the children we are raising. We are flying blind with so many parenting issues that our parents never had to deal with. This brings it’s own unique challenges. We all want to raise the best kids we can, and we want to encourage our children to be confident. However, we are increasingly aware that this egotistical and self centered way of life of the 21st century has the potential to raise a whole generation of little narcissists. We don’t want our children to only care about themselves or only care about those closest to them. So how can we combat this? Well, here are three things we’ve found to teach your children that will hopefully help.

Self-Discipline

Many children have very little self-discipline. They are used to getting what they want straight away, and rarely go without. This doesn’t teach children the skill of delaying gratification, how to have self-discipline and be responsible as a child. As a result, they will likely turn into adults that overeat, overspend, and overuse technology. They are likely to live an unhappy life, addicted to things they can’t control like eating, spending, and gaming – or worse, drugs, alcohol, and porn.

Gaming, social media and more has increased our addiction to getting little rewards for our efforts. Every “like” or “notification” gives us a little dopamine hit that is very addictive (and all tech companies spend a lot of time working out how to get you hooked). Real life isn’t like this. Teach your child to work hard even though the reward may not be for many days, weeks, months or years later. 

Respect for Self, Others, and the Environment

No one wants to raise a child that turns into an adolescent. Or an adult that has zero respect for others, the world or for themselves. To teach children about respect, we need to respect them. Speak to your children like you would to another adult. “I told you to fold the towels properly, now go to your room” wouldn’t work on a house cleaner, so why do we speak like that to our children? We need to model being respectful at all times, and this is not easy to do. So, take some time to think about respect. What does respect mean to you? How do you want to teach it, model manners and respect for yourself, others and the world? Work out how you will teach this to your children.

Contribution and a Focus on Giving

One of the best ways to move on from being self-focused is to foster ways of how you can serve others. Contribution can be defined as a sense of service. It focuses on helping, giving to and supporting others. People who have what they want in life but still feel like they are ‘missing something’ are searching for a way to make a difference and contribute to others. Teaching children to do acts of service for others is a great way for them to learn about doing what they can to make the world a better place.

Whether it be picking up rubbish, volunteering at a sports or charity event, donating money to a homeless person or selling raffle tickets to raise funds for their school, everything helps. This focus on helping others fosters a love of giving and making a difference in the lives of others. Every little act makes the world a better place. Plus it makes them feel good too. 

In the end, there are obviously so many things we can teach our children so that they care about others, the world and themselves. We’re sure many of us could also do with re-learning a few of these tips too!


To find out more about the author, Bree James, you can visit her website

 

 

The thing is

The Thing Is, Now Is the Time to Be Grateful

It’s nearly 10pm, and it’s the first time in weeks that I have had a moment to myself to put my thoughts onto paper. The only reason I’ve lasted ‘til this hour of the night, is because of a 15 minute powernap I had during the day. Those 15 minutes were when I had momentarily given up on trying to be mum, chef, personal assistant, nurse, teacher’s aide, cleaner, cheerleader, animal wrangler, detective, therapist, boss, wife, daughter and mediator.  The thing is, it’s exhausting! You get to the end of the day not knowing where it went or what you did. Sometimes it’s been such a blur that you look at your children still in their PJ’s at 6pm and think to yourself “at least they’re ready for bed at a reasonable hour tonight”.

I went to do grocery shopping the other night. Because physically I’ve really let myself go, late night food shopping when it’s pretty empty is more appealing to me. So bum bag on with my “sanny” hanging off the side, I put on my white Michael Jackson washable gloves. Now I am raring to go. Sexy as. I shop like a crazy lady possessed as there is only thirty minutes to get in and out before the place closes. Then I rush through the aisles like a racecar driver with a busted wheel (I am never one to score a trolley that steers straight).

After making it to the counter and unloading my loot with 5 minutes to spare, I think to myself – what a legend. I stack that conveyer belt like a bricklayer with hot bricks (and my butt crack is likely showing too). But, realising I’ve left my bloomin’ shopping bags in the car, I tell the lady “Forgot my bags, I’ll be right back”. Before she can answer I run for it. “Whoa exercise! How many hats can I bring into my food shopping trip…go girl, multitasking again” is what I think as I am running like Forest Gump to my car.

Like a message from the universe, 10 steps in my trusty thong blows out. Not defeated, I start dragging one leg like I’ve been shot. I look down, and notice I am wearing two different thongs. But I keep going, grabbing my trusty reusable bags like a war on waste warrior. Making my way back to the checkout, breathing heavily, I smile. There is still stuff on the conveyer belt. I made it. 

But ALAS. Now I have to stuff my bags too, they don’t fill bags if you BYO. Quickly I drag my foot down to the other end of the register so fast that I create static electricity and zap myself. I’m sweating, but my white gloves remind me not to touch my face. Instead I use my upper arm to wipe my forehead and whoa – someone forgot deodorant. It gives me the boost I need to hurry up and get the heck out of there. I start shoving my purchases into bags like I’ve won a free 1-minute shopand-grab promo. Of course now my trolley looks like I am one of those terrible hoarders! I pay and get out of there as fast as my one dragging leg walk will allow.

As I drive home, I think to myself – WOW! Never did I ever imagine that getting the food I needed would be my biggest achievement for the day.

The simplest of things that I have taken for granted for so long are truly the most important. This really is a time to be grateful for so, so much.

www.breejames.com
www.myvisionbook.com.au

The Thing Is… Focus on the Positives

I always try and look for the positives in life. Some call me the ‘Queen of Denial’ because my whole world can be falling apart and yet I still soldier on. It’s quite interesting to have the whole world in turmoil together, and for a change, it has been a bit of a challenge for me to look for the positives. That said, there is some comfort in knowing we are all in the same boat, so that’s the first positive I found when I started to look for one.

I’ve always been in charge of my destiny, so to have something out of my control that could massively impact people I love, our way of life, and my ability to do what I love, has really knocked the wind out of me.

The thing is, as much as we think we live in a free country, the past few weeks have shown us that this can change overnight. If you needed a wake-up call about life, we are all getting one at the same time, whether we like it or not.

The first wake-up call is that our health is the most important thing in our life. If you have been neglecting your health, I hope the threat of this virus means you make a commitment to look after yourself more. You only get one body, one heart, one mind and one spirit – you have to look after them.

The second wake-up call is that it doesn’t matter how hard you work, your way of earning a dollar can change in an instant. I have been through so many tough times in business over the decades, and one thing I know for sure is that tough times don’t last, tough people do. I don’t know anyone who isn’t a little worried about how we are going to get through this situation, but what I do know is, we will.

The third wake-up call is that connection is so important. The past few weeks I have been so busy trying to keep up with my work, but I have still stopped to call and check in on people I care about, or had a quick catch up over a coffee, to really see how people are going. I have seen and connected with more people in the past four weeks than I have done in a long time. Times like this bring us closer together.

I am sure there are a lot more wake up calls to come. I think for a long time we have lived such a privileged life. Tough times build resilience. Our ancestors went through way worse and have constantly told us how lucky we are. I hope many of us realise now how right they were.

In a world currently filled with so much uncertainty, the best thing we can do is focus on the positives and focus on what we can control. Look after our health, be smart with where we spend our dollars, use our stimulus money locally (that’s what the money was given to us for), and support one another.

For every negative, find three positives.

In the end if we have our health and are surrounded by people we love, there is a lot to be thankful for.

www.breejames.com
www.myvisionbook.com.au

FACING FEAR

Fear is a human emotion that is triggered by a perceived threat.

It is a survival mechanism that signals our body to respond to danger in fight or flight mode. The term ‘fight-or-flight’ represents the choices that our ancient ancestors had when faced with danger in their environment. They could either fight or flee. In either case, the physiological and psychological response to stress and fear prepared their body to react to the danger. Fear is an essential part in keeping us safe.

However, in today’s modern world, as much as we aren’t fearful of getting eaten by a lion like our ancestors were, we are subjected to so much more fear through media, negative thinking, and stresses that our ancestors didn’t have to worry about.

So How Does Fear Work?

Fear prepares us to react to danger. Our brains can’t distinguish the difference between imagination or reality. So, every time you have a thought, it releases the same neurochemicals regardless of whether you are thinking about the past, the present, or the future. Therefore, in reality, you don’t need to be actually experiencing fear physically, you just need to be thinking about fear and your body can still have the same physical response.

Think about something that really scares you now and watch your heart race that little bit more. Yep, it’s that simple.

Once we sense a potential danger, our body releases hormones that:

  • Slow or shut down functions not needed for survival (such as our digestive system).
  • Sharpen functions that might help us survive (such as eyesight). Our heart rate increases, and blood flows to muscles so we can run faster.

Our body also increases the flow of hormones to an area of the brain known as the amygdala to help us focus on the presenting danger and stores this fear in our memory to learn from in the future.

This is great for when we are really in danger, but what if we aren’t? How is this state of fear impacting our health? Uncertainty drives fear and worry, and living in this state of mind can seriously impact our health.

Fear weakens our immune system and can cause gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and IBS, decreased fertility, and cardiovascular damage. It can also lead to accelerated aging and premature death.


Fear also interrupts processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and much more. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately.

In today’s modern world, as much as we aren’t fearful of getting eaten by a lion to so much more fear through media, negative thinking and stresses that our ancestors didn’t have to worry about.

It goes without saying that fear impacts our mental health. Other consequences of long-term fear include fatigue, clinical depression, and PSTD.

So how can we settle our brains when it goes into fear, and move our bodies out of this state? We need to calm our amygdala down first. There are things you can do to speed up that process and get control of your emotional state.


Things You Can Try
  • Name your emotions as you experience them. This helps to engage the thinking part of your brain and trigger mindfulness.
  • Take deep breaths from your abdomen. Breathing deeply will help to bring oxygen to the brain and slow you down.
  • Draw on mindfulness. Look around you and notice things in the environment. This will help you to move out of your head and back into the situation.
  • Take a timeout. If you are truly feeling out of control, excuse yourself from the situation you are in to get a hold of your emotions.
  • See your doctor.
  • See a councillor or therapist.
  • Try EFT (emotional freedom technique).
  • Ask your pharmacist about herbs or medications that can calm you.
  • Learn meditation.
  • Try yoga.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Exercise.

Coronavirus – Facts Vs Fear

The entire world is feeling the impact from the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) right now. More viral than the actual disease itself is the spread of fear, which is impacting the world on a massive scale.

As I write this, borders are being shut down, schools and even whole countries are going into quarantine. Travel plans and large events are being cancelled, you can’t buy toilet paper or hand sanitiser and many pantry items are now being limited. The global economy is taking a serious dive.

Fear of job loss, lack of basic daily items to buy, the worry about the economy collapsing, and fear for our loved ones catching COVID-19, is all very real.

It’s surreal for many of us, and it takes a lot of strength to not follow the herd and start panic buying. As parents, the unstoppable urge to look after those we love is so strong, it’s very hard not to go into ‘protect mode’ and do everything we can to look after our family (which includes buying as much food, toilet paper, and medicines as we possibly can)…

When times are uncertain, people will do things to bring certainty; thus, the panic buying.

Think about our parenting, if we see our child is about to do something stupid, we put fear there to stop them and get them to do what we want instead. Fear can stand for “forget everything and run” or “face everything and rise”.

We need more people doing the latter.

Health authorities have told us that each of us will be exposed to Novel Coronavirus at some stage in the future and that the focus is on slowing it down. It is thought that our current lack of exposure and lack of immunity to this virus that makes this more serious than the average flu, which is why slowing it down is important. Our health services are second to none and as long as they aren’t inundated all at once, we will be ok. Eight out ten of us will only experience mild symptoms. But in order to slow the spread we are being told to stay at home if we feel sick, wash our hands well and often, sneeze and cough into our elbow and refrain from touching others.

The most vulnerable are our elderly and those with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, cancer, organ recipients, asthmatics, etc. We need to do what we can to protect them and ensure the health services in our community have capacity to support them if and when the time comes.

Being a respiratory virus, it’s transmitted through respiratory droplets. Person-to-person contact is thought to be the main method of transmission. Imagine sitting next to someone with a COVID-19 infection on the bus or in a meeting room. Suddenly, this person sneezes or coughs… If they don’t cover their mouth and nose, they could potentially spray you with respiratory droplets from their nose or mouth. The droplets that land on you will likely contain the virus. Or perhaps you meet someone who contracted the virus, and they touched their mouth or nose with their hand. When that person shakes your hand, they transfer some of the virus to your hand.

If you then touch your mouth or nose without washing your hands first, you may accidentally give that virus an entry point into your own body.

We don’t know exactly how long the virus can live on surfaces for, it is speculated up to 48 hours.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person with COVID-19 is most contagious when they’re showing symptoms. That is why it’s so important that if you feel unwell, you stay home.

The response from our government is part of a plan to slow the virus down and protect the 20% of people who will not do so well if they get it. They need the virus to spread slowly instead of quickly, so that our health care system can cope and adequately care for the influx of people seriously ill from this virus.

These are the people we are protecting. The majority of us will be ok if we catch it.

We all have someone in our life that suffers from a compromised immune system, so picture their face before you go out when you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms and stay at home.

The only way we can control the fast spread of this virus is if unwell people stay home until the vaccination is readily available to protect those 20% of people with a compromised immune system. And it won’t be ready for some time yet.

You will not forgive yourself if you soldier on with what you think is a cold, and then find out it was COVID-19.

If you are sick, it’s simple – stay home.

COVID-19 Facts

Self-isolate – those who have had more than 15 minutes in close contact, or more than 2 hours in the same closed room as someone confirmed with the virus.

It can take up to 14 days before you start getting sick if you have been exposed.

Rules to Implement

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • If you are returning from overseas travel; the government requires you to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • If you have symptoms; always contact your own GP first or 13HEALTH. Ring them, talk to them and ask the best way for you to be assessed.
  • Washing your hands with soap and water is best. Always wash your hands before eating or touching your face. Put a stamp on your child’s hand to see how well they wash their hands, or get them to sing happy birthday twice as a timer for how long to
    wash their hands for with soap. You can even rub raw onion on your hands after you have cleaned them
    as a deterrent.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with the inside of your elbow.
  • Avoid hand shaking and opt for waving.
  • There should be four square metres (two by two metres) provided per person in an enclosed space.
  • Do not over purchase essential items including medications. Think of others.
  • For the most up to date and official information on the virus head to www.health.gov.au – think twice before sharing information that is not from an official health source.
  • Stay away from social media and propaganda.

Other Handy Tips

  • Have enough essentials to last you two weeks on standby.
  • It’s a great time to plant some herbs and vegetables so you can be a little self-sufficient.
  • Freeze some ready-made meals.
  • Buy Vitamin C, Panadol, Zinc and immune boosting supplements.
  • Talk to your family about hygiene habits. Wash hands as soon as you come home, change clothes or better- shower before you touch things.
  • Get a list of jobs you’d like done and have the items ready so you can do them if quarantined.
  • Support local businesses. Look at all of our advertisers, please support them and other local businesses during this tough time. Your money is very important to these people, the big corporations can take the hit.
  • For up to date information on all grant information head to www.treasury.gov.au/coronavirus
  • Contact the elderly and those with immune issues to see if they need help.
  • Spread positivity, we all need it now. Avoid fear talk, and focus on what you can control.