My whole life I had always been careful with my health and always aware of my happiness with everything I did. My independence and maturity were by far my stand out qualities growing up; after living out of home from the age of 15 and learning to stand on my own 2 feet. These qualities were projected in both my personal and work life throughout my teens and early 20s.
As most, my life was full of challenges and growth with sport, school, friends and family, however none of these challenges could have prepared me for the health challenge I was faced with around 4 years ago.
At the age of 22 I was told I needed priority surgery to remove cancerous cells from my cervics. As a sporty, independent and outgoing person this in many ways felt like the end - with an intense period of medication, dietary changes and recovery I begun to notice a whole other level of growth within myself.
No more than 8 months after surgery I was back in hospital and diagnosed with Kidney disease (adverse reaction to medication). Another 8 months went by and I was faced with more bad news that my cervical cancer cells had come back and I was into surgery number 2.
I had now lost all sense of independence, hunger for growth and resilience to challenges - my mental health had slipped and I went into a period of depression and anxiety.
After testing my mental health to the edge that I no longer had a fight for life or need to continue, the only thing I could consider was to help others. From my experiences with depression and my health challenges I felt an overwhelming amount of loneliness and misunderstanding. Not because I didn’t have any friends or family around me but because in most cases they couldn’t relate or know how to support me best.
It was then that I thought of B.OKideas and the concept of providing a B.OK Box for people to offer long term support and a means to start a conversation when you are not sure how.
My passion to help others was lit by the challenges in my past but it has been fueled by my understanding and experience that tough times do not last and that this hope needs to be shared with everyone.
Building a movement on and offline through B.OKideas has allowed me to accept my past and share my story so that others who are also going through a tough time, experiencing periods of depression or anxiety or stress can know they are not alone.
After launching B.OKideas in March 2018 I have supported many different men health initiatives such as Lifeline, Mens Health Week, Yoga Australia Ball Event and raising over $600 for our charity partner (10% of sales go to Waves of Wellness Foundation).
The Story of B.OKideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSlz7Yc8IjE&t=4s
A to-do list can be such an excellent tool when trying to tackle a big, overwhelming goal. We can use the power of pen and paper to break big goals down into small achievable steps, just as long as we manage to be realistic when finding our first step.
I love gaining clarity by doing exactly that but a few weeks ago I realised that my to-do list was not serving me as well as it once had.
I had found the first few, very small steps that would help me get closer to an important goal and I had given myself the week to get them done.
I stuck a piece of paper on my wall.
On it, two very achievable steps I was going to take by the end of the week.
Somehow weeks went by and I hadn’t taken either of them.
Eventually, after about two months, I took that piece of paper down and threw it out. Together with a lot of enthusiasm about to-do lists.
I realised later that what I had written was not actually the first step in getting closer to my big goal.
My first instinct after experiencing that disappointment was that maybe instead of only writing to-do lists I also needed an ‘already-done list’: to avoid feeling disappointed with myself for not achieving what I had set out to achieve and to shift my focus on things that I had already achieved instead.
This felt like a big realisation. So big, I set out to write a blog post about the importance of looking back at what we have already achieved, to feel proud of how far we have already come and to feel a sense of accomplishment.
I took a step back and was ready to feel that great sense of accomplishment. But I never wrote an ‘already-done list’.
Something else happened for me.
Still feeling some disappointment but also a lot less pressure, I naturally found myself spending less time trying to control the outcome of whatever I was doing.
I would go for a walk and instead of planning what I had to do once I got home, I enjoyed the walk. I walked for as long as I wanted to. Sometimes that wasn’t very long at all. I walked through a park but then stopped and sat down in the middle of Federation Square. I watched the rush. I watched the sunset. I just sat and watched.
Eventually, I had not only lost track of my all so important to-do list, my genius idea of an ‘already-done list’ seemed just as negligible.
All that mattered was this present moment.
The idea for my ‘already-done list’ came to me because I spent too much of my time looking into the future. The logical solution to my problem of being too focused on the future was to look into the past. I thought by doing that I would ease the pressure I had created for myself with my to-do list.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” - Albert Einstein
I will continue to use pen and paper to create clarity for myself. Luckily, when I forgot about my to-do list for a little while, I found something entirely different.
Once I spent some time simply being, I realised that what I had written down a few months back were not really the next steps in achieving my big goal.
Those steps seemed easy enough when I came up with them. They were definitely achievable which contributed to my frustration.
I thought I had done everything right. I thought I should write a blog post on ‘how to write to-do lists’ ☺. It took me a while to figure out why it did not work out for me.
If the first step towards a goal isn’t easy enough to take today, it’s not really your first step.
Sometimes the very first and most important step is to come back to this very moment. In this moment, there is nothing to achieve. There is no need to look back to feel accomplished. There is just this very moment to enjoy.
Sometimes the first step on your to-do list is to simply be present.
Hi, I’m Maren. I am an actress and author of the Feel Good Blog, but most of all I am passionate about sharing honest moments. I love moments that remind us that we are capable and connected. I treasure those moments whether they are felt as profound insights or inspirational chuckles, whether we laugh or cry, I believe they help us grow.
Article By Sally Writes
If you have just returned from a retreat, chances are, you feel more inspired than ever to make yoga a part of your daily life. Practicing yoga in the company of like minded people, under the guiding hand of a qualified teacher hones your technique, introduces you to the powerful benefits of mindfulness, and enables body, mind, and spirit, to awaken to the beauty and power of nature. Yoga is so much more than a pastime, however; it is a lifestyle, one that can bring so many positive effects to your life – including calm, greater strength and flexibility, and an enhanced ability to fight off anxiety. To take the magic of yoga to your own sanctuary at home, follow these handy tips:
Choosing the Right Space for Yoga
Not all spaces are alike when it comes to yoga, but ideally, all should be located in a quiet part of your home and have a nice flat surface, to enhance stability during the performance of asanas.
If possible, your space should enjoy a view to a natural landscape: a garden, water feature, or view of the seaside or mountains. A spot with natural light will also be handy when it comes to performing sun salutations, or for practicing yoga at the end of the day with the beautiful orange sun setting in the background.
Little Details that Create Ambience
There are many small, affordable details that can create the right ambience. These include a Buddha statue, an essential oil diffuser, and candles (which make a magnificent point of focus when practising mindfulness meditation). When selecting these items, try to stick to natural, healthy varieties. To reap the greatest benefits possible from essential oils, for instance, make sure they are therapeutic grade, and select the right oils (citrus for energising, lavender for calming, etc.).
As for candles, rethink those fragrant paraffin varieties that line shop shelves, and opt for 100% natural soy candles instead. Paraffin candles are known to release toxins when they burn, which can interfere with your and your family’s respiratory health. Soy candles are renewable and biodegradable and by purchasing them, you can help support soybean farmers. These natural candles have positive effects on health: they ensure that the air quality in your home is optimal, yet are as fragrant as commercial candles. Top scents for yoga include oakmoss, earth, and blue pine.
Stocking up on the Essentials
Ensure your space is big enough for a little altar (to set the mood), your yoga mat, and a booster pillow, which will help you with some asanas and exercises. If you plan on using this space for entertaining or being with family after your daily practice, invest in a piece of storage furniture that fits in with the rest of the room in term of design. If possible, use wood for flooring and furniture and by all means, fill your room with plants.
You can build a very exciting private yoga space with a tiny budget. Have fun shopping for wind chimes, essential oils, and any statues for your little altar. Remember that your room does not have to be perfect from the word go. Rather, you can slowly turn your small space into the ideal yoga sanctuary, where you can escape from stress and reconnect with your rich inner world.
Happiness is not something we will find outside.
We tend to believe that once we get the ‘thing’ (job, money, partner, fame etc) then we will be finally happy for the rest of our lives.
But what we find out is that when we finally get this ‘thing’ , happiness is only short lived. It doesn’t take long before something else is missing. So we start running again after this new ‘thing’ believing that after that we will be happy. But the same story keeps on repeating itself over and over again, because happiness isn’t in outside “things”.Happiness needs to be found inside ourselves. Happiness is a state of mind not a state of ‘things’. So the search needs to do a u-turn.But once this state of happiness is find then it is there always, no matter what ‘things’ we have or don’t have..