Friday, 25 October 2013

My promise to the world...

I trust that my heart, my spirit, and my soul will guide me,
And that I will land perfectly and exactly where I need to
I am whole heartedly committed to my cause, and to my vision
I will lead with emotion and always express my truth.
I am not afraid.
I will go as far as I can to make a difference to the humanity I serve.
This I promise the world, and the divine universe.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Keep. Stress. Simple. Stupid.



Simplifying your life just got simpler.  Sounds simple, but for many it isn't.  You have to ask yourself why?

After 16 months living in one of Africa's poorest countries, I returned to first world Australia, only to experience a serious case of counter culture shock! I was not used to mass social discussions, setting up new mortgages and outlining 'plans for the weekend'.  Life in Africa was worlds apart. I was craving  a quiet walk down an un-named street where I could admire a local Guinean fending his/ her day by preparing dinner from a pot off the street floor.

Rather than be a Jone, I decided my next destination would be Croatia.  A half way point between a developing country and a European hibiscus blazing in summer tourism.   There were no doubt better opportunities in Croatia to transition from 3rd world to 1st.

After 3 weeks of non-stop business planning, I planned to venture out and spent my day on the beautiful island of Preko - a 20 minute boat ride off the coastal region of Zadar Croatia.

Minimal tourists, cheap Adriatic cuisine, an international marina and elderly Croatians sitting on park benches, I watched as they gossiped about their neighbours and complained about corrupt politicians.   Preko was the perfect place to alleviate my new-found '2nd world' stresses, and distinguish ways to simplify my life.

Here's what I learnt about stress in Preko:-

Float on Water

Our body is up to 70% water.  Think about it.  That's a lot of percent!  It's our natural physiological disposition to be attracted to water.  Whilst swimming through the pearl green sparkles of the Adriatic, I decided to take a minute to lay on my back and float.  In that moment, something amazing happened.  I COULD ACTUALLY FLOAT!  Five years ago in Croatia when I tried to do the same, I couldn't! Back then I was in a bad relationship, now I'm in a wonderful personal place.

Could it have been the difference? Could the weight of my body have lifted so much that now I was able to close my eyes,  float perfectly, and let myself drift away with the natural ocean tide? Amazing revelation.

If you can't float, keep trying.  Just work out how to stay above water without frustrating yourself on your inability to do otherwise.  Use your mind to connect with your body.  It's a real easy and therapeutic stress relief technique.

Conversations of the Simple Kind 


When was the last time you talked to an elderly person? Sat yourself next to them and said "Hi, my name is so and so, can I sit here and talk to you?".  Elderly people love conversations.   You'd be amazed at the wisdom you can gain  if you actually connect.

On the island, I sat between a group of elderly men, all with hollywood tans and facial wrinkles harvested from many years working through Croatia's weather elements. After a half hour sitting, I learnt about how many exact kilometres there are between Croatia and Australia, why tomatoes were less ripe this summer, who on the island produced the best olive oil and tips on how to find a good, honest, hardworking man.  Grounded and satisfied, I took a photo and thanked them for the best conversation I've had in weeks.

Find time to connect with the elderly, or even spark up a conversation with a stranger. It's amazing what you can learn, and it can be heartwarming and uplifting.

The Stress Dump

When you go on your little outing or retreat, find a nice quiet place, and write down everything that's coming up as stressful in your life.  Be elaborate and explicit and capture all the detail.  Once complete, fold the paper in four, and tear it up! That's it! Problem solved.  Then go back to your two hour nap  in the afternoon sun, and just chill the heck out.

Appreciate Your Neighbourhood.

As a Full House fan, I'm embarrassed to say how excited I became when I saw an episode randomly pop on Croatian television. The show which enriched my childhood is based on a quirky American family who live in an idyllic San Francisco neighbourhood. I too had a quirky family, and as much as I wished there was a tram running down my street, I grew up in the perfect neighbourhood -  great neighbours, community gatherings and a whole host of childhood memories.

Then there was my easy walk through the back-streets of Preko. Old ladies gazing over their balconies, residents walking 2 metres from their front door diving into the sea, and neighbours passing each other fresh garden cucumbers over the fence.  It was then that it dawned on me.... From San Francisco to island Preko, every neighbourhood has something special and unique!  Take a minute to appreciate the idiosyncrasies of yours, and watch the surrounding world come out and play.

There are so many methods, ways, techniques, strategies, books and ideas around how to alleviate and minimize stress.  More often than not, we forget how simple it really is.

A day trip to Preko helped me appreciate the simplicity of finding easy environmental and social pleasures to alleviate stress.  Next time you're making it hard for yourself to find ways to relax, remember, Keep it Simple Stupid!  Just plan a quick getaway, or take a minute to connect with what's going on around you.  It's the simple pleasures of nature, community and showing gratitude that will most likely de-stress you the most.  So chill out and don't stress about it!

For more photos of island Preko click here

Friday, 9 August 2013

Your Daughter Isn’t Bossy and Other Real Female Leadership Lessons


I recently came across an article at the Women's Agenda website titled Your daughter isn't bossy, she has 'executive leadership skills': Lessons from Sheryl Sandberg.  The article summed up one of the many crucial messages advocated in Sheryl’s book Lean In. 

There is absolutely no doubt Sheryl has epitomized the movement toward the redefinition of female leadership and gender diversity.  Somewhat of a (simple) masterpiece, the book has favoured the female revolution in business today.

"We want to provide women with the encouragement and support to lead. We want women and men to believe we can get to real equality ... We want to close the pay gap," Sandberg said.

The “your daughter isn’t bossy” message is such a strong one, and has helped pave the way in which women idealise and translate real female leadership values.  The message also re-iterates the importance of how female leaders must teach young girls tolook through the lens of real women. Here is another fantastic article and video clip in the Huffington Post based on a campaign to get more girls interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).  The video clearly shows how our girls are becoming warriors and trailblazers in the playground, and are no longer tolerating the out-dated label of being a “bossy boots”.

With more and more women taking senior positions, and the changing shape of the female perception, female leadership theory is in it’s pioneering phase, and it asks women to evoke more of how women actually see themselves as leaders? It also asks Who are women at a leadership values level? The answers to these questions will ultimately help to enhance female success in life and in business.

Another great article found at the Ognunte website Navigating Complexity by Jennifer Sertl goes into how we can re-calibrate ourselves in what is an ever-changing corporate consciousness.  Jennifer believes “You must, by design, get to know yourself under the shell of saving face" Sertll uses delta by design to help us get to the ‘core’ of who we truly are, and methods by which to recognize our driving principles.

Halfway through Sheryl's book, and taking on some of Jennifer’s thought theory, I've already begun to develop and share my own leadership lessons, and understand What makes me a truly effective leader?

My story is shaped like this… Working in the male-dominated construction industry, I often laugh at the many nick -names given to me by my male counterparts. The Princess of Power and Princess Warrior are two of my favourite. These nicknames are indicative of how my male peers uniquely (and somewhat strangely) express their admiration and recognition toward me as a female leader.

The Princess Warrior is my name of choice. Call it a sexist label from a man, I choose to call it my leadership nick name because it’s fun, and it’s The Princess Warrior who leads and conquers forth in the male dominated workforce! Herein lies a calibrated list of Princess Warrior Leadership Values, all of which are respected and valued by my male counterparts

1.     Personal Strength – As a leader we must always work on our emotional and intellectual stability and stamina.   Aim for strong and sensitive but never overly aggressive.

2.     Openness – Always be truthful and avoid playing the ‘female card’. You are one of the team, and have free leeway to be direct, open and honest in your interactions.

3.     Collaboration – Continually form workplace unity and encourage communicative exchanges between people and teams.

4.     Ability to Listen – Do 20% of the talking, actively listen, paraphrase and highlight people’s strengths as much as possible.

5.     Be Different – The only way to make a difference is to be different. Harness your individuality and speak from the place inside which gratifies your right to be self -expressed. Always speak words that resonate as true to You!

6.     Empathy – Show gratitude and acknowledge people when credit is due. Don’t confuse empathy with being nice. Be direct and honest with your kindness. Smile and show compassion.

7.     Enthusiasm - Show your ambition, talents and passions. Don’t hold back in fear of being labelled. Self promote where appropriate and celebrate your achievements.
The underlying messages here are clear.  Define yourself as a leader and teach and share your values with the world of female leaders around you.  Sheryl has helped ‘take the lead’ in changing the shape of female leadership, as well as so many others out there doing amazing things.  But you don’t have to be in business to be a leader.  As a mother, a wife or a sexy beast, we’re all women at the end of the day, and our leadership is genetic in form.  Take some time to reflect on what makes you a unique leader, so you too can rule your warrior kingdom, and teach our young girls how to be superheros!

Blog Featured on ProjectEve.Com global community of women helping women- http://www.projecteve.com/the-princess-warrior-list-of-leadership-values-other-lessons-from-sheryl-sandberg/

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Taking Best Shot For Africa - Help Support Love Guinea Basketball


Thanks to The Geelong Advertiser for support of my upcoming project in Guinea - West Africa.  The story captures the essence of Love Guinea Basketball  - A crowd funding project through Pozible which I'll be looking to campaign soon.  The online platform will showcase pictures and videos of the team members in Guinea, all to promote awareness and help raise funding to upgrade the Stade Du Guinee - Guinea's National Basketball Stadium.

Please join our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LoveGuineaBasketball

For more information on how you can sponsor the initiative, or to become part of the Love Guinea Basketball Team, please email me at mizzanniem@gmail.com.

You can also follow me at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MizAnnieM
Click Here to see more Basketball Pics in Guinea
Click this link to read my blog Basketball Tales in Developing Guinea




Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Confessions of An Adrenaline Addict…& Easy Steps to Recovery






This ode du adrenaline is written exclusively by a self- confessed adrenaline addict. As I sit here at Gloria Jeans Coffee sipping my second one for the day, experiencing jet-lag after a 32 hour transit from West Africa to Australia, working through 8 different screens on my safari browser, dance music through the earphones to help keep my 'my beat', and a failing recognition (borderline denial) of my sore limbs after having gone for 2 x 8km runs two days consecutive, not to mention a page-long to do list, ONE thing is becoming clear - I'm back on the adrenaline!!

A-Typers, budding entrepreneurs, ambitious and striving –mothers, business women and all you do-gooder go getters, rest assured built-up adrenaline will be the end of you if you don't monitor it carefully.  Before you know it, you'll be lying on the floor in the fetal position stressed out of your mind.  Depending on the severity, you may also be sucking your thumb.

As a former pro athlete, adrenaline is a hormone I've relied on to keep me active, alert, competitive and agile.  It's also something I need in my daily life to complete my missions, achieve my targets and reach my goals.  Without adrenaline, we'd all be living a blissful, stress free existence in a Buddhist temple deep in the caves of Nepal - kind of what I feel like doing a lot of time, and a great idea for anyone wanting to come off an adrenaline- high period.

Adrenaline is a necessary evil.  We need adrenaline to keep us storming, evolving, creating and performing.  But too much of it without the right wellness measures in place, and it's a recipe for many stress-related ailments like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, psychological conditions and that general ‘burnt out’ feeling.  Build it up in your body for too long (the dangers of cortisol), and you may well set yourself back from achieving your ultimate wins and wants.

So what is Adrenaline?

Adrenaline is a hormone with the purpose of releasing neurotransmitters into the bloodstream to increase heart activity, and increase the rate and depth of breathing in response to any physical or mental stress. We release adrenaline based on the Fight or Flight stress response.

The stress response today is simply the same response used by our primitive cave-man ancestors for survival as they faced threats of daily life. Unfortunately, our bodies still react the same way to threats - real or imagined - even though, in a vast majority of cases, the stressor does not require us to fight or flee.

As Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson remarked, “The fight-or-flight emergency response is inappropriate to today's social stresses.” In the short run, this response is a powerful and useful process, however kept “on” for a longer period; this response can produce serious problems.

So how do you know when adrenaline is being overused? 

Here are some thoughts, behaviors and situations that may come up in your day when you're overusing adrenaline:
  • Feelings of guilt for taking time off and taking time out
  • You don't feel truly immersed in your daily work and there’s a general feeling of 'I can't get stuff done'.
  • You're pushed and pulled in many directions without that free feeling or 'flow', that moves you toward your goals effortlessly.  Concentration becomes a difficult task.
  • You click frantically between Tumbler, twitter, pintrest, google+, soundcloud, huffingtonpost, ANZbanking, Facebook, Blogger, Hotmail, Gmail, LinkedIn, 2 x working projects - MSWord and MSPowerpoint, typing with one hand and your i-phone in the other!  Read this sentence really fast and tell me if you feel dizzy or out of breathe.
  • You’re always saying no to social appointments because 'you're too busy with work'
  • Aggression / Anger / Irritability and Blaming Others
  • Arriving late to all your appointments with the same underpinning, drama-queen excuse 'Oh my goodness, I'm soooo sorry, I've just been so busy!!!'
  • Feeling the ‘itch’ and like you’re out of your skin. Tense shoulders and forgetting to breathe.  Other physical symptoms such as bad digestion, nail biting, sweating, dry mouth and bad skin.
  • Fatigued, Drained, Lethargic and the BLAH feeling....
If this sounds like you, it's time to check yourself before you wreck yourself!-

So how do you monitor adrenaline and keep it from impacting your ability to perform at your peak?

Like anything in life, what’s required is balance.  Balance + Energy = Performance.  We need energy (adrenaline, nutrition and our regulatory bodily systems) to live, but without the right balance, it can be trying, and even dangerous, performing the many tasks required for everyday life and work.

Here are Some Easy Steps to Control your Adrenaline and Keep it Balanced:

1. Take the “Are You Addicted to Adrenaline Self Test?” as a guide to see if you're currently running on pure adrenaline.  Be well attuned to your body and know when adrenaline, rather than 'balanced energy' is dominating your day.  Don't kid yourself either.  The more you do, the more you won't succeed when adrenaline is taking charge.

2. Take a Minute to Reflect, Rather Than Do.  In periods of high stress and transition, we tend to rely on adrenaline to get us through.  This can be a good coping mechanism, but too much and we face health risks and burnout.

Go on a daily meditative walk (not a 10km run), spend time journaling, do a restorative yoga class (not bikram yoga), meditate and create time for easy conversations and outings with friends...go on a Holiday!  The main thing here is pay attention to your inner voice chill out, relax and be mindful!

3, Take priority on what's a priority - and don't create a to- do list for your to- do list.  Take on a higher approach to yourself, and be a non-doer for once whilst answering these questions...
  • What's not working in my life right now and why?
  • What's really and truly important here?
  • What's making my life/work so complicated and how can I simplify?
  • What are the 5 main goals I have over the next 3 months and how will I achieve them?
  • What can I partake in to ensure I reach my goals mindfully and effortlessly?
Write these answers down on a sheet of paper, rip it out of your scrap book, stick it on your fridge, and use this as a simple plan to overcoming your ‘period of adrenaline’

4. Sleep, Eat Well and Exercise - These are the three physiological components to our cave-man survival existence, and the cornerstone to practicing Extreme Self Care.

Simply put, find time for reasonable exercise, eat nutritiously and keep away from alcohol, caffeine, sugars and chocolate. And don't feel guilty for straying.  Guilt is adrenaline fuel! Be sure to get your vitamin imbalance corrected and Get your sleep!  Also just use you common sense, you know what I'm saying?

Adrenaline is not a drug, it's a natural physiological response within our templed bodies.  You need it to survive, but abuse it, and it WILL become your drug.  Balance is your key to managing adrenaline and getting through periods of high stress…not by doing more.

Become a master of your physiological body and you’ll see your intuitive and intellectual mind follow suit.  Ensure to tic-tac along mindfully with the right wellness measures in place, as well as stay tuned to your internal physical body, and then watch yourself become a true warrior and a better more solid high-performer.

What are some ways you manage adrenaline and stress to maintain peak performance?

The Adrenaline Self Test


SCORING KEY


1520 You are probably addicted to adrenaline right now
1114 An unhealthy level of adrenaline is probably coursing through your body.
610 You have a possible adrenaline problem.
05 Congratulations! You appear to not have an adrenaline problem.