What 12 years of Love and being in a Relationship has taught me

Sitting here in Bali, staring out over the infinite blue ocean on Morgan and I’s 2 year wedding anniversary I stared at this blank piece of paper, poised, ready to spill my heart on to the page for too many minutes this morning, not even knowing where to begin on the subject.

I have so much to say on Love and relationships but at the same time always feel in a space between ‘you have so much to learn young padwan’ and ‘how can you even begin to try to cover such a huge subject’.

So instead of being stuck, I thought I’d just start.

You see, Relationships and love IS somewhat (read; extremely) of a deep deep passion of mine. Observing (with love) them, being in one, helping others feel out their own, but something I rarely write about – which I know in my heart is about to change.

And what does a young girl like me know about love you might ask (primarily if you’re a new reader to the blog, and if you are, welcome). Well, Morgan and I just returned from Bali where we celebrated our 2-year wedding anniversary. It’s funny though, because even saying 2 years though feels odd to me, like we are so brand new and fresh again (albeit we are, having decided our marriage WOULD feel different and ‘new’) considering we have actually been in each others lives romantically, spiritually and emotionally for going on 12 years now.

At our engagement party, back in April 2012, we asked our guests to write some love advice for us to open and read on our 1 year wedding anniversary (as the ‘theme’ for your 1 year is paper) – however come last year we ended up having far too much fun out and about down south so never actually stopped on our day to read them.

us

This year however, we committed we would. So under the Bali sun, with some cold Veuve in hand we opened them all (some read with us on Facebook Live for the first time) – and here is what OTHERS (our nearest and dearest) advised us on love.

“When you wake in the morning, kiss and hug and be grateful for one another day together – life is precious”.

“Never go to bed angry”.

“Always remember to have time for each other”.

“Tell each other you love the other at least once a day”.

“Phone sex communication”. – HA!!!

“When the going gets tough, hold each other, look in to each others eyes and remember you still have your whole lives ahead of you”.

“Grow together”.

“Always remember that first moment that you set eyes upon one another”.

“When in doubt, sex it out”.

“Morgan, take the rubbish out, it’s the mans job to do the bin and take the wheelie bin out to the road”.

“Respect each other”.

“Don’t go to bed at night without sorting out any differences”.

“Happy wife, happy life”.

“Have date nights where you only focus on yourselves”.

“Laugh a lot, communicate often, don’t mention breaking up, and focus on the good in each other”.

“Always share everything with one another, regardless of how you’re feeling at the time, it’s important to draw on each others strengths in difficult times”.

“Don’t stop having sex at least once a week”.

“Love is all you need in the end”.

“Don’t forget to make love every now and then, fucking is okay for the rest of the time”.

“Remember Corinthians chapter 13 always – love is patient and love is kind”.

“No man has ever been shot for doing the dishes”.

“Send love letters”.

“Always make an effort to be sexy. Even if you don’t feel like it – never underestimate the magic of stilettos!”

Ok so apart from some very (fabulous and slightly predictable) hilarious sex pieces of advice (all of which I absolutely have to say are great pieces of advice) I feel it’s covered off all the generally prescribed and tried and trusted advice.

Not going to be angry – got it.

Date nights – for sure a staple in our relationship.

Respect one another – it’s one of our highest values so we are g.o.o.d there.

And so on and so forth.

But how about the stuff that REALLY makes a relationship work and the secret / not so secret (you decide) magic that comes from this.

Just show up wholly as you are and practice unconditional love (just do your best, it’s never going to be perfect).

There are so many depths and layers upon beautiful layers contained in just those 2 statements alone but the crux of it is this.

The fastest way to put a shitty vibe on or over a relationship (or marriage) and to start to feel disconnected is to start to try to change or force either partner in to being or feeling someone they are not.

Over the 12 years Morgan and I have been together (10 of which official, 12 we were just too young and dumb to work out who we were or what we wanted) 12 of them have seen us be different people at different times, have energy growth spurts before or after the other, disagree with certain people or things or directions the other has headed in and an avalanche of other differences and directions – but for 12 years we have loved each other unconditionally.

him

That’s the greatest gift to bring in a relationship that I know for sure.

So you might be getting in to personal development courses sooner or more often than your partner – that’s ok, love him where his at.

Or maybe you have developed a rocking morning routine and your partner is still hitting snooze whilst you’re up and exercising in this new healthy lifestyle – this is your choice to now show up fully, allow him the grace to find his own journey with it.

Or maybe you are watching less TV in the evenings now and working on exciting projects to try to move your life forward and but your husband / bf is rocking out his PlayStation/Xbox still (this was a big one in our relationship). That’s COOL. That is what makes HIM happy, he loved you and didn’t put expectations on you when you used to sit and watch those same TV shows with him.

If you truly love your partner, speaking from experience – trust that he will find his own way to your new path eventually, but in his own way and especially in his own time.

Your job is just to keep showing up for YOURSELF and you’ll have a far greater impact just being a beautiful example than trying to force or coerce change.

When you can just show up in your relationship wholly as you are, beautiful parts of you, the not so beautiful parts of you, and hold space for your partner to do the same – that is unconditional love, THAT is creating magic in any relationship.

And here is the thing – it can sometimes (read; often) feel really messy living in to those two core fundamentals, and you might fail again and again and again (because I know I sure do) but remind yourself that life is never about perfection, its so beautifully about progress – and as long as you can consciously catch yourself and try your best for ‘next time’ – then you’ll have a love and relationship far greater than any Disney fairy-tale promised us as children.

unconditional[ Image: https://au.pinterest.com/pin/AcebMjcVpNQY2xaXcLoeM_HEoihSIi4lGx_LOz9xUk4HcPUqRYWRsis/ ]

Corporate 9-5 Vs Network Marketing- A Former Skeptics Take

Hey everyone,  Its Morgan here!

Slight change of plans from the normal today. Its been some time since I posted on this blog, in fact, the last time was when I gave my account of our time in Amsterdam back in 2012!!  Anyway, Some recent events really got me thinking about this topic and prompted me to write this short post.  It started out as Facebook post and then the next thing I knew I had a couple of thousand words.  So I figured hey why not share it here?  I hope you enjoy it and find some value in it, i know it’s a little off topic from what you may to be use to but its something I’m really passionate about…… ENJOY!


Working from a café today I couldn’t help overhear a conversation going on behind me.   Some poor girl was being grilled in a job interview, to be fair she was doing a good job and holding her own.  She seemed bright and very bubbly, but sitting here listening to the language, the tone and general vibe of the convo made me feel a bit anxious.

One person trying so hard to Sell themselves  the other revelling in their self-perceived position of power.  Out comes the “Work Voice”, you know the one?  It’s similar to the one you put on as a kid when you’re answering the home telephone but you are in earshot of mum…….  “Hello Richards residence, Morgan Speaking!”  just the most fake thing you can think of.

The reason it made me feel so anxious though is because that was exactly how I felt working in corporate, going to corporate meetings and talking the corporate talk all day long.  Trust me, there is nothing more soul-destroying than working in a profession where you can’t really show up as yourself or say what you truly mean without fear of what your “boss” might think.  I would often think I wonder what would happen if I spoke honestly to my boss’s even for 30 seconds, how would they take it if gave them  an honest appraisal of their performance as a leader.   The answer being that most employers wouldn’t take it well and it would be reflected in my pay review and promotion prospects.

mlm

I feel the same type of anxiety in airport lounges when high-flying harry big balls is sitting next me talking on the phone or talking to his staff.

Actually that just reminded me of a story.  A few weeks back Anna and I were waiting for a flight in Melbourne, we used our points to upgrade to business (we aren’t flashy dickheads, but when we can we upgrade).  Subsequently we were given access to the business lounge and we were sitting there on our laptops enjoying a red wine before our flight (Anna of course a Champagne) when a few moments later this guy in a suit comes in and sits just near us, entourage in tow.  This guy thought he was Harvey spectre (watch the show suits to understand that example) and he wanted everyone to know it.  Berating his staff for asking questions, talking down to them like they were dirt.  Not just quietly either, loudly, he didn’t just want the staff to know how important he was, he wanted everyone to in the room to.  I always try my best to be impeccable with my word whenever I can, not to judge people  but after listening to this guy for over an hour it was fairly safe to assume that this guy was, well, a massive dick.

I thought about John Maxwell’s 5 levels of leadership as I often do when I’m around this type of person. This guy was the definition of level 1-  TITLE.  People (his staff) only tolerated him because they believe they had no other choice because of his rank in the company.  But you know what I honestly felt? I honestly felt sorry for him, because one day his time and position of power will end and along with it his own self-worth.  When your own self-importance comes before developing others you can’t create legacy, once the power of your title is gone you are left with nothing.

But most of all I felt sorry for his staff, I knew that feeling of being made to feel second-rate by some A-hole on a power trip.

It made me wonder, why do people put up with that? Seriously, in any bar across any country in the world if one person spoke to another the same way as this guy did to his staff, fists would probably fly.  But because there is an exchange of time for money (that’s basically what a job is right?) we tolerate the worst people in world and we do this by choice?

I’m not saying that pursuing a traditional career is a bad idea, in fact I was speaking to a friend of ours the other night who has just landed his dream job in an incredible company.   He is super passionate and excited about the work he will be doing and the people he will be doing it with.

What I am saying however, is if you don’t love what you do, change it or at least takes steps to do something about it.

10425040_10202873504092892_299485985382715873_n

Casual Friday AKA the day i left corporate and became a full-time Network Marketer

As I sit here in this café today listening to the girl being interviewed and reflecting on high flying harry big balls display in the lounge I found myself filled with so much gratitude for our chosen profession.  Anna and I are so fortunate to able to say that we love what we do now. Not only is it important to be our authentic selves, its critical for success.  We treat our team with respect and in turn we get it back in droves, but most importantly we treat people exactly the same when they enter our team, as when they are working in our team or if they decide to leave our team.  Yes network marketing isn’t perfect, and yes you still get the occasional knob but I ultimately have the say on whether or not I choose to work with them.  There are no high pressure interviews where you need to have a shiny CV full of qualifications and pre requisites that (lets face it) you probably lied about anyway.  It’s often said that it doesn’t matter if you have gone to Yale or come from Jail to have success in our profession.  Ultimately your success is measured (and paid on) the amount of people you help be successful and rise through the organisation, which is completely the opposite in the corporate world.

img_1672

Working from our local cafe in Fremantle

Now, I can already tell what some people will think as they read this “but morgan I had a friend who was involved in network marketing once and they were let down really badly”.  Which is a totally valid statement, yes in the past and even today people are let down by network marketing companies.  They are let down in the same way they are let down by bad restaurants, Taxi drivers who take the long route, publicly listed stock, airline companies, telephone companies, Investing money in the wrong shares,  mechanics and of course trades people and contractors who rip off their clients.  The worst by far are Plumbers! They show up late, they overcharge and not to mention the dreaded plumbers crack (what’s up with that?).  I remember a plumber charging me $1000 to fix my hot water system, I then found out from a friend a few months later it was an $180 job. The difference is 3 years later at 3am one morning, the toilet began overflowing. Now like most sane, rational people I didn’t throw my hands up in the air, tar all plumbing companies with the same brush and allow the turds to flow through my house.  I called any plumber that was available to come out and help fix the problem regardless of my past experience.

It frustrates me why people think that our profession and industry is somehow immune from the same type of stuff that happens in  any other industry?

Yes, unscrupulous companies come (and very quickly go), yes sometimes people with poor ethics find their way into our profession, but what profession doesn’t have the exact same problems?  If you pick any profession across any industry you will find the exact same thing, in the medical industry with dodgy doctors, in the legal system with corrupt judges and what about the people we trust to run our governments?  I’m not trying to make excuses for these companies, in fact I get as angry as the next person when people get let down by our industry, what I am trying to point out is that network marketing is just like any other industry.  There is the good and the bad.

Finding a good network marketing company is like finding a good plumber or mechanic.  Difficult, but not impossible, provided you know what to look for.  There is a whole swag of things to be mindful of that will help you cut through any BS, but that’s a whole other post for another time but its something I’m also really passionate about.

The common thing for many people is they seem to believe that if they purchase a product from a network marketing company they somehow are being duped or they are a sucker? Common sense time guys…….  If you pay for a membership at cost co and all you receive is a trolley full of groceries that you love every single month, are you being ripped off? If you are a member of a wine club and all you pay for and receive is a case of wine each month are you being taken for a ride? The answer of course is a NO!  Your membership allows you to purchase products at the best possible prices, you get products that meet your needs and you consume them on a regular basis.

Quality Network marketing companiess are no different! You find a product you love (MASSIVE HINT), make sure it has a money back guarantee (any decent company would back their own product, our company certainly does)  you pay a membership fee to receive the best possible price, you order the products and you consume them.  There never is an obligation to pursue the business (if there is run the other way), that’s because legitimate NWM companies MUST HAVE REAL CUSTOMERS in the exact same way that cost co does.

But for some reason when there is an opportunity to earn rebates and/or commissions by making referrals, peoples scepticism seeps in?  Like it sounds too good to be true?  The truth is, it’s not to be good to be true because it requires hard work, dedication and commitment just like anything where the rewards are high.  It’s no different to sharing a movie you love, a restaurant you had good service at or hotel that went above and beyond.  In fact most of us are doing it don’t even realise it!

Big companies like Apple and Samsung are already leveraging your networks, you just aren’t being paid for it.

iphone1

No thanks, Sounds like a pyramid scheme.

Network marketing has come of age, It’s no longer a question of viability or if it works, it does……. It’s the people who don’t.

The industry will continue to grow with or without you or me being a part of it, people will continue to buy quality products and distribute them to friends, families and total strangers.  My hope is that eventually common sense will prevail when it comes to the everyday person looking at our profession and even though it may not be for them, they understand that’s it is just another profession.  I’m not saying that’s its perfect, but if you hate working for knobs who treat you like dirt it’s a bloody good option.

Of course this is just an opinion post,  it’s up to the person reading this to make a decision on what they believe about network marketing. It may or may not be for you, but there is only one way to find out….

Image: here & here.

Dear Dad…

On the 2nd of January 2016, I lost my Dad.

We knew it was coming, he had terminal cancer after all, and had fought the really good strong fight for 2 years, but I still wasn’t ready for that call to come through. “His gone Anna”.

I had never been hit with so much grief in my life – and the pain you feel when loosing a parent (considering you come from their very being) is a physical pain like nothing you will have experienced before. My heart literally ached. I had a physical heaviness in my chest far greater than any panic attack I had ever suffered or sadness I had felt before.

dad3

3 days after his loss, after sleeping – a lot – and being as disconnected as humanly possible, I collapsed in the kitchen whilst making myself a coffee from crying so much and letting the pain in my body take me over.

I had been speaking to Dad daily for over 6 months in the last stages of his decline. And in one of those calls less than 2 weeks before he passed, he said he knew the time was very much near, and he requested Morgan and I take one last trip – little did he know we were already coming (with my oldest brother Nate). We were planning on surprising him on his birthday the 4th January having booked flights for the 3rd January, but on the 2nd of January – he took his final breathes and left this earth plane.

I know that was a huge contributing factor to how much pain I was in. I knew Dad wanted to see us all one last time, and he just couldn’t hold out. Dad was the strongest (and craziest) man I knew – with a fighting spirit that sometimes didn’t seem human, 2 traits I know he gave me, so I knew he knew I was strong enough to see him in his final moments, I just think we didn’t get there fast enough.

And sure…. in the days following his death, I KNEW he wasn’t in pain anymore (which I was more grateful for than I can articulate), and I knew that ultimately I should be celebrating his life, not being so selfishly sad, and so picking myself back up off the floor on the day I felt the grief the most, I knew what I had to do.

I had to write.

So I sat in my office, sobbing heavily, un able to sit up properly or see clearly – and I wrote this letter to him. And by the end of signing off, I had stopped crying and for the first time in 3 days, was taking deep full breaths. And even though in the days to come I was still crying, the tears did lessen and the pain was becoming more bearable to move through.

So on this day, Fathers day, I was compelled to share my letter. Unedited and I am sure spelling mistakes and all.

7 months on and Dad visits me with White Feathers, I seem to only have moments of tears when I’m driving and I am more grateful than ever of the nature traits you instilled in me – but I still really do miss him.

Dad is a part of my life most don’t know about (other than my longest and closest of friends) – but is sharing this today shares a big part of my life from 18 – 28 years of age.

I live my life sharing all aspects of it to allow others to do the same. I openly share the bad times, the good times, the boring times, the normal times and today – I share another little part of me that means a lot, purely in the hope that openly sharing how deep I did grieve allows any other people the courage and space to share their own grief more openly.

But most of all – I share this to honour Dads legacy now his left this earth.

XO

dad1

p.s if you have lost a parent no matter how young or old you are, I’d love to hear what you loved the most or miss the most yourself about them in the comments section. One thing I know for sure is that talking about it, writing about it and sharing it does feel better than holding it all in.


Dear Dad,

You’re gone now. Just like that.

And even though I saw it coming Dad, it still really, really hurts.

The day you chose to leave this earth, I think deep down I knew, even though I was hoping against all might it wouldn’t be. I woke up not feeling well and turned to Morgan saying I was so scared at any moment I’d get the call to say you’d taken your last breathe, and the very same day – you did, and I got the very call I was dreading.

I was so upset that I didn’t get to take the last flight I booked to say goodbye – but I know and hold on to you choosing for me to not see you like you were. Here, but already gone. Just know I would have been strong enough, because you gave me that fighting strength.

I know you are no longer in pain now, and that is what gives me the greatest peace of all. That, and knowing that you have returned to infinite love and divinity, or as you loved to tell me as often as you could “you’re returning to meet your maker”.

It hasn’t yet stopped my pain though, knowing you’re not in any anymore.

It’s a pain that feels heavy – a physical pain and heaviness right where my heart is and I know I shouldn’t be telling you this, you’re busy ‘up there’ now after all, but I think you would also love that I am letting you know. That was something I know you always loved about me – my ability to speak the truth (sometimes as you would cringe – ‘too truthful’ – but that’s your fault, I absolutely got that from you).

What is most upsetting though Dad, and still is a crushing pain daily that is the part I need to learn to live with the most, is that I can’t just jump on a plane and come and see you anymore, drinking too much coffee and eating too much fruit and nut chocolate with you when I did. It hurts that I can’t pick up the phone and call you every single day and hear your excited “hey baby girl” when I do. That’s what I’ll miss the most.

You and I were the lucky ones though Dad. Lucky in that I never had to get yelled at by you growing up or go through the moody teenage years with you or have you pretend to hate my boyfriends because we got to start our relationship when I was 18, and for the past almost 10 years we got to cram more stories and truth and love in to our lives than some dads and daughters do in a lifetime – so thank you for that.

I am grateful I got to love and respect you not just as a Dad either, but saw you for the individual you were wearing many hats, as a brother, a son, a grandfather and a man, trying to do the best he could with how he knew.

I will never forget the first time you had come to the school us kids were at and word spread around the playground you were there, a little boy came running up to tell 6 year old me, “Anna, Anna! Your dad is here?!!!” and without even having ever met you properly, running straight up to you and in to your arms without hesitation. I know that was one of your favourite memories too as you told the story to me often with the largest smile possible in my later years of life.

You always asked me why though, why, without even knowing you did I run with such confidence to you, and I think the answer lies in the truth of parenthood.

It’s because I chose you and mum as parents and you being my dad was a part of my truth I didn’t always have to understand to know it to be true. Even at 6 years old.

And sure you and mum chose each other when you got together but I chose you both too – I needed both of you in my life to teach me all that I had to learn to be my own person in this life.

Mum, who taught me every conceivable good and just thing in this world, like love, patience, determination, kindness, giving, respect – and you – who taught me the more wild and serious side of life, I’m grateful too your lessons came later on in my life, right when I was ready for them. You instilled in me my love of travel (genetics I swear), my penchant for swear words and how sometimes ‘fuck’ just does explain exactly what you need it too, my stubbornness – my god my stubbornness and my street smarts.

You AND mum, were and will always remain even though you’re now gone– the ying and yang to my life and all it’s lessons, and I am so grateful I chose you as my Dad.

My first memory of meeting you as an 18 year old after choosing to want to build a relationship with you and getting to build it however we pleased from day 1 was you asking if I had ever done acid, no dad, I replied, to which you in all your bad assery said “well, if you ever do want to do it I want to make sure I do it with you to make sure you’re ok” – ok big guy. I have to say, at 18, I figured out pretty fast I had a strange sure, but “cool” Dad.

I will never forget the first time Morgan met you either and the conversations that ensued the more he got to spend time with you over the years, but the lasting statement that could be his memory of ‘us’ is his understanding of me after meeting you. It was after one of our visits to you in 2014 sitting out together on the balcony at Charlottes house where you stayed the last years of your life, we said the same things, finished each others sentences, swore a lot when we were excited and were as stubborn as the other and when we left that day he told me that I made sense now – there was always a side to me (the bad assery / stubborn side shall we say Dad) that he couldn’t place and as soon as he met you, it clicked.

I remember getting the letter at Christmas 2013 to let us know they’d found black spots on your lungs and the prognosis wasn’t good at all. Stage 4 inoperable, untreatable Cancer – the outcome….terminal. I was sitting on the floor in my zen den at home and cried like I have never cried before – that is until I got the call you were gone 3 days ago. You didn’t know how long you had, you kept saying what your Dr told you “well how long is a piece of string” but one thing I had learned from you is you were a fighter and stubborn, both traits that saw you give us so much more of you than I think even your Dr’s expected. 2 years you lasted Dad. 2 years. I really don’t think anyone ever expected you to fight that long, but you did, and THAT is what I have learned the most from you and the legacy you leave behind in me – a fighting spirit. To live life on your own terms and never give up.

The last time I got to be with you in hospital we said at the exact same time “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog” and that summed up your last few years to me. It didn’t matter how sick you got or how many times in my opinion, or the Dr’s you defied medical odds, you fought. And I’m so so grateful and so so glad you did, because I got two more years of stories, chats, advice and having you as ‘Dad’ in my life.

I’m sorry Morgan and I never got to give you a cuddle of our first born as I know you so hoped you would get but I am grateful that when we have our little one(s) they get a VERY special guardian angel looking after them. I have no doubt they’ll still feel the presence of your energy and love from above.

I am going to miss you Dad, really really miss you, but am grateful you’re at peace now, a peace I know you have been searching for in other things quite literally your whole life.

I promise to chat with you often still and that I will always be your ‘baby girl’

I hope they had the extra sugar for your coffee, a rad motorbike, extra copies of your favourite book; the bible (no doubt there are plenty of them though) and an endless supply of fruit and nut chocolate as soon as you arrived ‘up there’ 3 days ago and you live in infinite love and divinity as you so deserved.

Visit me in my dreams sometimes just so I can still hear your raspy laugh and strong certain voice no matter what words you have always spoken….

Love “your darling daughter”,

Anna xoxox

dadd

India – A view through my eyes

India. The country bursting at the seems with people and traffic carrying a population of 1.1 billion people.

We had finally made it, and stepping off the plane it was like every sense was assaulted at once.

India immediately was like no other country I had visited before.

Sensing our energy, a young lady ahead of us turned around and asked if this was our first time to her country and when we in unison replied with a resounding ‘yes’ she laughed and said “well welcome to my country and I promise you will get used to the smell”.

IMG_3446

I have to say though, before we go on this adventure of words through India through my eyes, this country was one neither Morgan nor I ever had on our ‘ to visit’ list. In fact Morgan had told me since our travelling begun back in 2007 that India was somewhere he would never visit. So I actually loved our beautiful friends Mary and Jacob did decided to get married here otherwise we would have never gotten to experience what we have the last 10 days. I only look upon the whole experience with a deep gratitude and bursting heart of love – because of WHY we were there.

And that is really where my own journey started. I came with the biggest open heart and open mind considering here I was in a country I had never necessarily dreamed of coming to, with 30 of our closest friends a few of which who had been a couple of times who were absolutely in love with it.

The bride and groom to be had organised the most incredible 7 day wedding itinerary for us all where tours, places of interest, trains and every detail in between was planned out so we literally had to just pack and arrive. And as I write this, sitting in a small town in beautiful Jaipur, with the warm sun but chilly air all around me, I can say it was fundamentally the best thing they could have done as it helped us see India through their eyes and kept us all together for the week. We had the experience of all experiences, and being surrounded by 30 odd of literally your best friends, is something I will truly cherish forever.

Being rebels with a cause though, and needing to see some more of this country by ourselves, Morgan and I booked 3 nights in Varanasi before the wedding week to have an experience by ourselves.

Why Varanasi you might ask?

Well, since I was a little girl if you said India I would say; Ganges River.

It has always, to me, been the main thing I was attracted to in India. Taj Mahal sure, but it didn’t procure the same emotion or curiosity that the Ganges did, so when looking in to what town we could explore for 3 days by ourselves, I immediately looked in to the best city for the Ganges and time and time again landed on Varanasi.

Touching down in Varanasi, I knew we weren’t in Kansas City anymore.

IMG_3641

IMG_3600

From the stares to the noise to the smell it truly was like nothing I had experienced in any other city or country I had travelled to before.

We organised our pre paid taxi (a big tip if you’re ever in India, always book pre paid taxi’s at the airport, much safer and cheaper) and ventured out in to the warm afternoon Indian sun.

The trip to our hotel was about 20km drive and it was 20km of culture shock.

I have experienced 3rd world before, one of my favourite places in the world is Bali (3rd world) and I have also been to Manila (Philippines – also 3rd world), but this, this was different. This was looking at humanity from a perspective (in my opinion and mine only) of over population and poverty and the affects that can have.

We drove past tiny mini ‘towns’ on the way in to the main city area of Varanasi with 8 – 11 people crammed in one room ‘homes’ where I could see dirty mats (not mattresses, just mats) or slightly raised ‘beds’ that were simply hessian bags and metal poles. That was the only sleeping place for the whole family, or for whomever lived in these tiny one-room homes.

I saw people going to the toilet (I’m not just talking about number one’s either) on the side of the road and dirt and dust and rubbish absolutely everywhere.

Arriving at our hotel, I honestly felt guilty, that whilst we got to go in to our warm bed and eat a plentiful meal that night and have the luxuries that coming from a Western 1st world country can afford you, there were literally homeless and poverty stricken men and women metres from our hotel.

That first night, I’m just going to be completely honest with you…. I cried.

I was overwhelmed and exhausted from just one afternoon of experiencing what I was seeing and hearing and smelling.

I cried because I wanted to do more though. Not at all from pity or sadness. It just felt almost wrong being in their country affording what we could and not being able to help everyone. Morgan through my tears gently reminded me though “baby, I understand your pain, but you didn’t come here to start a revolution, you came here for a wedding”. He was of course right (although I still believe I may go back to start a revolution) and that night as I climbed in to bed my nightly rituals of gratitude’s was pages and pages and pages long.

The next morning was the Ganges River tour we had booked and we were in the taxi driving the short drive by 6am. Having experienced Varanasi during the day, late afternoon and evening, to then experiencing it at 6am I have to say it felt like two different cities. The roads were empty, there was no one absolutely anywhere except the few homeless huddled around fires they’d lit on the side of the road and there was an energy I couldn’t put my finger on. A really surreal one.

Arriving to our destination we met our guide Baba (his real name was Deepak but he’d been given the nickname Baba as he was so knowledgeable) who was an amazing man with fantastic English and a huge smile.

Walking the short distance through the sleepy streets to arrive at the Ganges is something I truly will never ever, ever forget. It was an energy, a feeling and a magic that I will never be able to properly articulate and that first sight of ‘her’ before the sun had even risen, with a misty fog covering her entirety listening to the prayer calls all around us is truly something I am going to remember until my last breathe. And I have no doubt in to my next life.

IMG_3465

IMG_3468 IMG_3488 IMG_3502

I will say this though…

You have to be ready for the Ganges. I do believe that. It’s a cultural experience like no other – why I say that is that river is their everything, it is their life. And with life, comes death, and you see a lot of that on the Ganges in the form of cremations. I knew that going, and it was something I actually was ready and curiously willing to experience, but it is such a rich and important part of their culture so if you aren’t necessarily ready to see a constant flow of dead bodies wrapped in cloth on bamboo stretches having their last bath, or drying out on the steps, or burning – Varanasi isn’t the city for you.

We had booked a private boat (you can do that through your hotel), and I have to say, being out on Mama Ganga, with just Morgan and myself, Baba and the lovely guy who rowed it, was extra special as it felt like ‘just us’.

Rowing silently down the river, seeing the locals come to life – bathing, praying, meditating and washing their clothes was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life. Even writing these words right now, there is a feeling in my chest of what I felt that morning and I trust and believe it will stay with me forever.

The energy, the energy the energy – everything is energy and energy is everything and on that river that morning I experienced an energy like nothing I had ever felt before. Morgan, who is still both slightly but very Mr sceptic when I talk so much about energy said over and over and over again “do you feel that?” “Are you feeling this?” which only made the whole experience even richer because I knew we both would walk away from that morning with that feeling connecting us until we were old and grey.

IMG_3635

IMG_3504

IMG_3643

IMG_3646

IMG_3583

Baba warned us before we got to the cremation site (there are 2 main areas where they cremate their dead) and said how much of a spiritual thing it was for their culture and people and how much respect we need to show it. No cameras, no phones, no nothing. He said something I so loved and respected – “this is not the cinemas, this is real life and I need you to respect that”. You NEVER have to tell us twice whilst travelling to respect certain aspects of that countries culture so we actually just put our phones off and away before he had even told us that (Note; I don’t think people even should have to be told to not film or take photos of such a sacred site but you would be surprised and disgusted – I was anyway – at how some tourists were still filming or taking photos. Baba tut tutted at them and turned to us disappointed and said ‘karma will get them).

We arrived right in front of the cremation site via Mama Ganga herself – and seeing the flames from the boat was an incredibly humbling indescribable feeling. I don’t think I would have done that particular area if I weren’t with a well-respected guide as he was able to take us through the whole experience and ensured we followed rules and rituals. I love travel, and I truly believe it IS the only thing you can buy, that makes you richer, and standing on those steps, learning about the life and death of Indian culture, I did feel all the richer for it.

The first dead body that was marched less than half a metre from me was absolutely a jolt to my system, just being totally honest, and I did think that maybe this was maybe too much. Maybe I wasn’t ready to experience more of this. I decided though, very quickly that this was a big reason why I was here and I wasn’t going to run from it. With life, does come death and this was an experience to live in to that like no other.

As they all brought the bodies to the cremation site they would chant in their local language something that translated to “god is true”, and body after body, you would hear ‘god is true’.

Once at the sight, they walk down the stairs to the river where they give the bodies ‘one last bath in the Ganges’. After that, the bodies are left to ‘dry’ with their feet facing the river propped up (they are still completely covered at this stage). At that stage the men all go to take a bath together in the Ganges (elsewhere to the cremation sight), and all must have their heads and beards shaved off, which is done to represent cleanliness. That really was an experience unto it’s self when walking the Ganges elsewhere to the cremation site, seeing families of men, all sitting along the ghat having their heads and beards completely shaved off.

Once that part of the ritual is complete, and all men are bathed in the Ganges, and cleanly shaven, they go back to the site to start the burning of the families body, Baba also told us, by this stage they believe the body is almost dry from it’s final bath.

We learned, it takes 300kg of wood to burn a body, they use butter to help the burning along (critical part baba said) and the body takes a few hours to burn. At this stage of standing right there amongst it all, we were seeing countless bodies taken off the bamboo stretches (always by the oldest son or if oldest son wasn’t possible, the next first male of the family) and wrapped in metres of white cotton. Then, the family placed the body on the 300kg of wood they have constructed (in a grave like structure) and once the body is on top, more wood is placed on top of it again. The oldest son (or male) then lights the fire, and they all go and stand and watch it burn for the next few hours.

And that, all happens over and over and over and over again, hundreds of times a day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The smoke can sometimes feel or be overwhelming and I have to say what some might be thinking, the smell isn’t as bad as you might think. It is more just the smell of burning wood and ash. I will say though, I did feel like even after I had showered a few times, and washed our clothes, I could still smell the distinctive smell.

Once I felt I had had enough, we moved on to go for a walk through the labyrinth of ‘streets’ (they were more like ally ways) in the city of Varanasi with Baba leading the way. Truth be told I did ask him to not show us ‘tourist’ Varanasi and to show us how he see’s it. And see it we did.

Walking through these tiny ally ways, seeing the real life of Varanasi people was another culture shock. The smells. The sights. The sounds. I ensured I was covered literally head to toe, and even wore a scarf around my head, but being in those secluded ally ways, being a ‘white skinned girl’ still attracted a lot of attention.

IMG_3592

We had the TRUE Varanasi experience in one day – how is that even possible you may ask? Well from 5am to 9pm we were out and about and exploring this beautiful but overwhelming city. We walked as many inner ally ways as possible, visited a traditional (and I have to say amazing) aroma therapist, the oldest and biggest pashmina and sari making building in the whole of Varanasi and even visited a guru healer (where by my reading was truly incredibly accurate).

IMG_3638

IMG_3640

IMG_3641

IMG_3578

IMG_3568

IMG_3536

IMG_3636

Later that night, after spending 12 hours with Baba already, we went back out on our private boat to see the cremation site in the evening and to also witness the evening ceremony – all from the comfort and safety of our boat.

Going home on night 2 I did still feel heaviness I am not sure I can explain to you properly.

Getting back to our hotel Morgan looked at me and sensing my quietness and emotion suggested we grab a bottle of red and de brief from our day. We sat and debated, talked, laughed and chatted about all that we had seen and experienced and again, when I went through my evening rituals of gratitude writing, this time, the pages were even longer.

The next day was spent exploring the city by ourselves and I have to say, the best thing we did was exploring the city first with a guide, as going out the 3rd day we had so much more confidence and knew where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. To be honest though, most of our day was spent sitting on the Ghats of the Ganges taking in the daily life of the Indian people of Varanasi.

IMG_3611

Departing Varanasi the next day I was so ready. Ready to see more of India. Ready to leave some of the heaviness behind. Ready to see all of our beautiful best friends and start the whole reason WHY we were there, which was Mary & Jacobs wedding.

We flew in to Delhi early afternoon and taxi’d it to our hotel amongst the crazy traffic of the capital of India (which by the way, is insane – but funnily enough, with barely if any road rules, really actually works!).

IMG_3650

IMG_3651

I won’t go in to the next week moment by moment, as I truly would be writing a novel. Why? Because it was the most deeply experiential week of our lives, and why wouldn’t it be? Hanging out in a country where Morgan and I still didn’t fully understand, but alongside our best friends, with a sole purpose of love and adventure, is the kind of week we will never ever forget it.

Over the next 6 days though (the 7th day being the day of all days, the leaf wedding!!) we experienced a visit to a Sikh temple, Humayun’s Tomb, lunch at the Taj Hotel, train ride to Agra, visiting the Taj Mahal, exploring Red Fort, we watched our lovers play in a 20/20 match of cricket whilst we learned Bollywood dancing alongside them and shopped some more for Indian treasures. We explored Amber Fort (in Jaipur), had the Vedic readings of ALL-Vedic readings (the most accurate and life changing reading I will ever and have ever had in my life) and dined at an old palace under the stars.

IMG_9067

IMG_3663

IMG_9076

IMG_9086

IMG_3699

IMG_3701

IMG_3702

IMG_9108

IMG_9123

IMG_9144

IMG_3763

IMG_9194

IMG_9202

IMG_3772

IMG_3786

IMG_3861

IMG_3862

IMG_3901

IMG_3914

IMG_3941

IMG_9317

IMG_9380

IMG_4529

NMSW5778

IMG_9373

IMG_9380

IMG_9398

IMG_4164

IMG_4277

IMG_4281

A memory from the above I will treasure forever is when a group of us got up at 6am in Jaipur to go and walk the river across from our hotel. Some of us were friends who’d we have known and loved for years, others, we had just met. But off we set to go and capture the sun rising and get some exercise in. Walking home from the morning walk and sunrise (which was absolutely beautiful) we were stopped by a complete stranger who spoke in extremely broken local language and English teaching us 4 lessons of life! He told us:

Eat half of what you think (as in what you think you should).

Drink twice as what you think (as in what you think you should).

Exercise 3 times as much as what you think (as in what you think you should).

And always, ALWAYS laugh.

When he said laugh, he proceeded to laugh louder than I have EVER heard anyone belly laugh. The belly laugh of all belly laughs. Leaning backwards with a red face – which of course made us all collapse in to laughter as well.

It really was one of those pinch me moments and I turned to everyone and said – “and THAT is why you should always be up before the sun rises, and should ALWAYS leave your hotel” and it’s true!! You can truly never know what adventure and incredible experience awaits.

IMG_4267

IMG_4172

Morgan and I awoke on our 7th Day at the final hotel (having arrived the day before to a band drumming us a welcome and traditional welcome ceremony) with huge smiles on our faces. Today was the day, the day we got to witness some of our best friends promise their forever to each other. I have to say as well, awaking in the hotel we were staying in, which was the Samode Palace Garden Hotel, was pretty magical and spectacular.

We all had breakfast together (the bride and groom were at the Samode Palace Hotel getting ready already) and laughed our way through breakfast. EVERYTHING was a surprise for us. So we had no idea where the actual wedding was, we just knew we all had to be ready by 2pm and in the front area of the hotel to be bus’d to the location. So breakfast was also a time of great fun speculation!

2pm rolled around and true to respecting how big a day this was – we all were ready and assembled (and my god dolled up) for the big event. We were bus’d to a beautiful old Palace that had been converted to a Hotel, and were greeted by a band, camels and even a friendly elephant!! The day had begun! Moments later the party begun. Jacob and his gorgeous groomsmen arrived in a beautiful old car surrounded by a loud incredible band and we were motioned to follow them. Walking in to the palace, with music playing, flowers being thrown over us, an elephant in sight view, we all knew this was going to be a wedding like we had never experienced in our lives – and probably will never again!

IMG_4317

IMG_4332

IMG_4322

The rest of the day went by like a literal dream. Where they promised their forevers was in a room like nothing I had ever seen. Floor to wall paintings, flowers covering every inch of every surface, candles, and magic surrounded us. And then, well and then the bride herself arrived. I don’t think I have ever seen a group of guests gasp more than when we saw our beautiful Mary arrive to walk to her prince. Her dress, designed by one of our closest friends and superstar designers Steph Audino was literally the most beautiful dress I had ever seen (no cameras allowed which I love – so our phones were largely off!)

IMG_4350

IMG_4371

The rest, as they say is history. And when I say history, I mean history. This wedding was the kind that goes down in the history books. From the location, to the dress, to the firework displays, to the surprise of moving locations (via camels may I add!!!!!!!!) to a then dessert rave type party for the reception where we all raged on to the very very wee hours of the night.

The wedding truly was and always will be remembered as one of ALL of the greatest nights of our lives, topped only by our own wedding of course.

IMG_4414

IMG_4420

IMG_4392

IMG_4489

IMG_4381

IMG_4525

IMG_4531

IMG_4424

IMG_4409

I left India the next day with a full heart of gratitude for the experience Mary & Jacob had gifted us by saying I do in India, but also a heart of deep understanding and respect due to a newfound level of gratitude. Granted, I needn’t have travelled the 30 hour trip to be grateful, but you cannot help leaving India without a deeper and greater respect FOR gratitude.

Landing home, truth be told, I actually got quite emotional (I started this piece in India, and am finishing this now a short hour after I have arrived home) I turned to Morgan with tears in my eyes saying I had never ever been so grateful to be home.

I was grateful I got to be the truest, deepest, biggest expression of myself instead of needing to be invisible as a woman in the Indian streets.

I was grateful for clean water. Being able to brush my teeth with the tap water, to being allowed to open my mouth in the shower, to drinking straight from the tap.

I was grateful to be able to wear what I wanted to wear!!!!! Shorts and a singlet if I wanted to, bikini’s if I wanted to, I was able to express myself fully and authentically through what I wore.

I was grateful for being served and acknowledged as a woman no matter what town or shop I went too.

I was grateful for the clean streets and clean air. Taking several huge and deep breathes as I exited the plane again I was overcome with emotion.

But above all, I was grateful I got to be grateful.

I thought I was grateful before, but I now realise I truly was not. Gratitude is our strongest miracle in our lives, and yet I realised how much I actually wasn’t conscious of in my life.

Running Water. Fresh Air. Clean Streets!! Having a voice, but no truly – having a voice. You being able to tell someone no or being served or not served because of your sex. Now being greeted with a smile everywhere I go and being asked what would I like (instead of all questions being directed to Morgan) I am deeply deeply grateful.

So as much as this post is about sharing our Indian experience through my eyes, with all the truth but deep love in my heart – it’s also a post about deep gratitude. And waking you up to take a look at how much you are truly practicing gratitude in your life.

Before India, I did my gratitude’s each morning and each night, but since coming home, I have vowed to do them throughout my day every day. When I pour myself a glass of clean water. When I take breathes of fresh air. When I am respected because I am simply a human, not because of the gender I was born. When I can step outside in whatever I want to wear. When I get to speak my voice no matter what.

So to India, thank you. So very much, for being a country of extreme contrasts, whilst being a country with deep spiritual meaning. For gifting me the most incredible week ever surrounded by all my best friends to witness the greatest gift of all – love, with our friends committing their lives to one another, and above all else, thank you for teaching me the greatest gift of all – gratitude.

How to (sustainably) change your life

Waking up to the alarm sound on a cold Monday morning, the first thought I had was “you know what Anna, you don’t NEED to be up at 5am, just give yourself this one morning of sleep in…”, and almost as soon as I thought it, I caught myself with that negative mind-set and reminded myself I am not here to live mediocrely and be defined by average, I am here to live extraordinarily – so off the covers went and up I got.

The session was like most others, most mornings. I felt good, I had energy, I smashed a PB (personal best) on at least one of the reps on at least one of the exercises, I laughed, I said hello to some of the other regular 5am gym go’ers and I pressed ‘end’ on my workout app by 6:20am.

The usual high-five from the app happened telling me the PB I hit that day and the count of how many workouts I had completed occurred.

Only today, when the number landed on its final count, I smiled ear to ear.

200 work outs with my amazing trainer Lochie who uploads my food plans and work outs in to an app that I use daily.

I went home feeling fulfilled and sore – and that particular morning doing my gratitude’s, I put “my health and commitment to having health & vitality as my #1 value”.

Jumping on FB for the first time that day, I celebrated my 200th work out with a status and checking my notifications I saw the memories notification Facebook has now – something I actually LOVE checking daily to see what I was doing on this day 1, 2, 3, 4 even 5 or 6 years ago.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 1.03.11 pm

Except this time, a status made me stop dead in my tracks, and another smile ear to ear broke out.

It was the exact same day, July 25th 2010 – 6 years ago.

It read….

IMG_9227

From celebrating having such a strong value around health and vitality, around moving my body every day and then honouring it with clean food and natural supplements – to this. Completely not honouring my body, and neglecting it for WEEKS with no exercise or clean / health / nourishing eating only a mere 6 years ago.

6 years to the day and I honestly don’t think I could be a more different woman.

Here is the thing though, something has been swirling in my heart for a while and this was just the slap in the face I needed to put hand to keyboard to write it for you.

That jump, from binge drinking, sleeping in, recreational drug use, no exercise (ever), choosing to skip meals and / or eat crap majority of the week to … rising at 5am daily, moving my body 7 days of the week, eating clean nourishing whole foods, complementing my food plan with natural wholesome incredible supplements …. DID NOT HAPPEN OVER NIGHT.

The other day, I was talking to my girlfriend in the kitchen about the life we get to live now and the advice or statuses that I write coming from that place of health and happiness now, and I said…. “you know what babe, I actually get that some of the stuff I say or write would piss people off, I bet they do sometimes sit there and say ‘what-the fuck-ever” … because they don’t know the story behind the work and sweat and blood and tears and sacrifice its taken for me to get to the place I can write and share like I do.

Point is…. I get it.

That was the moment I knew I wanted to write this piece. Then as fate and my life would have it Facebook put two of the most opposing statuses I have written next to each other on the same day, 6 years apart.

And here I am.

So back to the story of my journey not happening over night.

LONG before I started nutritional cleansing, back when I was the girl who’d sleep in, have a big glass of coke and a packet of kettle salt and vinegar chips in bed (yep, I uhhhh, I really did that) and never ever respected her body with exercise and in turn, getting my body to its heaviest… I knew that I had to change, and so I did.

me

Morgan and I went to a food information night 6 years ago, where we started to educate ourselves on food. We learnt how to read the back of packets, we learned the difference between good and bad sugars and good and bad carbs, we learned about portion sizes (hardest lesson of all to learn!) and learned about good wholesome foods.

And oh SO slowly, but most definitely surely …. We started to change our diets and way of life.

I went from eating white carbs (your rice, bread, pasta, white potatoes) from 7 nights of the week, to 5, then to 4 when we felt ready, then to 2…..then to none. That process alone took MONTHS and we never once felt like we were depriving ourselves. All the while dropping grams or kg’s as I went.

Whilst switching out the white carbs (andddd things like packet sauces and gravy of course) we were completely over hauling our diet to a clean healthy one. So lots of fresh veggies, smaller sizes of meat, 2 nights of no meat a week and good carbs like sweet potato or quinoa – so the cutting of food was also replaced by new healthy eating.

Then went the coke (a cola) addiction. I never tried to quit over night. WHY? Because I KNEW if I was going to change my health, I needed to make SUSTAINABLE changes and cutting everything I had been so used to wasn’t going to give me lasting sustainable change.

So with the coke, I went from drinking 600ml – 1L of coke a day, to just ONE 600ml coke zero a day (still bad I know, but less sugar). Then I cut down to 5 days, then 3 days .. then just one over the weekend to …. None.

I never felt deprived and I didn’t struggle as I allowed the change of habit to happen gradually.

yas

Then came the exercise. If you had of told the Anna & Morgan back then they’d end up LOVING the gym and be in it daily in the years to come, they would have laughed you to another continent.

Instead, we woke up just a LITTLE earlier than 7am – 7:30am and went for a small walk around the block. Pretty soon, we loved doing it, and wanted to wake up even earlier, and increase our exercise .. so we got up just a little earlier again, and went for 2 – 3 blocks now. It got to the point we were up at 6am every morning going for a 5-7km walk before work and loving it. It THEN got to the stage we had both dropped just over 5kg from me, 7-8kg from Morgan, from this new way of life that we felt ready to join a gym … which we did, really close to our house and went and started running on the treadmill with a few little weights.

But again – see how it was gradual, it was slow, it was what was right for us.

I have ALWAYS been open and honest (of course) as well, and shared that amongst these years of change – I had a major jaw surgery which fundamentally changed my life. Top & bottom jaw broken and re aligned to fix a severe underbite. Whilst having my jaw wired shut for close to 4 weeks, I lost another 6kg’s.

Once I was cleared to exercise again, and was able to eat ‘normal food’ (aka not soup and mash potato) – our new habits were our new way of life and I knew I was NEVER going back to how we lived and ate before.

Upp’ing our training / exercise even more and REALLY living a life of clean eating, it’s when I lost my final 6kg taking my total weight loss over almost a 3 year period to 17kg. Which to this day I have maintained (which very long story cut short, the maintenance of that loss AND feeling a million dollars is thanks to nutritional cleansing – I am not going in to the last 3 years journey in this post though but if you want to read about that I have written about it here, here and here

So you see, when I share aspects of my life now, saying things like, you can either have results or excuses, but you can’t have both, or; it’s all just a choice, sleeping in and feeling like crap or getting up and showing up even if you don’t feel like it … understand that it comes from the deepest place of understanding, because I have lived and breathed both lifestyles.

And it has been a long and crazy journey to get to the place I own the advice I now give from a loving place.

The real point to this whole piece though is this ….

START TODAY AND START SMALL.

Change can be scary. I get it.

Change can be hard. I get it.

Change can be overwhelming. I get it.

Change can feel unsustainable. I get it.

But guess what?

It doesn’t have to be any of those things if you find your own rhythm and groove with it.

When I was trying to flip my life quite literally on it’s head I knew I couldn’t do it all at once. I knew the power was going to come from slower change, one step at a time, one day at a time kind of change.

And I am imparting the same wisdom on to you now .. with love.

Start Somewhere, start anywhere, start today … but don’t start it ALL at once.

You want to stop sleeping in so much, start eating healthier, move your body regularly and start an awesome morning routine??

AWESOME…

But where can you start small and start today?

Could it be that instead of skipping breakfast, you start to just get up even TEN minutes earlier and have a healthy smoothie? Does it mean not putting on tv at night until you have also made yourself a yummy / healthy lunch to take to work the next day? Could that just be the ONE first SMALL change you can make?

Could it be that instead of putting off exercise because you’re a bit timid of the gym, you go for a big walk every day instead? Walking is a powerful powerful exercise for the body and an excellent start in building the confidence to eventually get in the gym. Could that just be the ONE first SMALL change you can make?

Could it be that instead of getting out of bed with dread because you had another late night, you hit snooze 5 times, and will be rushed to get to work again, you commit to an earlier bed time NO MATTER WHAT for just one week – and a NO SNOOZE option for JUST one week, and see how that makes you feel? The answer is of course you can, it’s all just a choice and this alone could literally transform your days. So could THIS just be the one first SMALL change you can make?

There is a quote I love and adore by Robin Sharma that says:

“Don’t live the same life 75 times and call it a life”.

And I couldn’t agree more.

That extraordinary health, love, sex, health and happiness you seek (and is your birth right just by the way) is all on the other end of your own habits your cultivating in your life and how you’re creating your world.

I absolutely believe that a healthy body and a healthy mind are connected and to get one the other follows naturally. That was the way for me and I have seen in countless others. And once you have those two major, key, fundamental aspects of your life in order – the rest DOES fall in to place.

So start anywhere. Start somewhere. Start small. But PLEASE start today, and start with ONE THING.

life

The coolest thing is, once you have that one thing nailed, the healthy nutritious smoothie for breakfast instead of skipping meals or the earlier bed time and no snoozing, or the walking every single day … you tackle the next area you are keen to change.

And slowly but surely, block by block, day by day, month by month – you start to design a body / mindset and LIFE you LOVE.

I’ll never say the road to making big changes in your life is easy, it’s not, if it was every body would be doing it – but I CAN say that it’s worth it.

The gap for you now, between the life you’re living currently, to the one you want to be living in terms of your health and fitness, is simply the action you choose to get in to from today onwards, or the action you choose NOT to get in to from this day onwards. And THAT is the difference between successful people and unsuccessful ones that stay stuck where they are blaming external influences and environments on where they’re stuck.

If you’re here though, reading this blog, and you have gotten this far – it tells me a lot about you, and it tells me you are one of those successful people wiling to put in the action to make the changes in your life you so desire.

So, start today – you don’t need to wait until Monday to start making incremental changes in your life nor wait for a new season to start a new life … you can start today, right now.

And as always, I will be cheering you on the loudest – and the proudest.

Anna xo

It’s ok to change

“Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending – to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how the story ends” – Brene Brown.

Before & After

As all beautiful synchronicities go, as I landed in beautiful Bali on Tuesday night, Morgan and I were laughing and reminiscing over our very first Bali trip back in 2008 and how fast forwarding 7 years, just how much we have both completely transformed our lives.

Remembering the exact girl I was, I had to go back and find the photos from that time – you get to meet her now as the girl in the left of that photo.

I was riddled with anxiety, carrying extra kgs from a toxic lifestyle, and although there are thousands of fond memories from every aspect of my life, even the bad – I can say that the bad feelings I used to feel and the lack of worthiness I shouldered far exceeded the good feelings I had and worthiness I so sought.

The story most know today is I hit my breaking point of knowing something had to change.

So I did.

You know that quote that says: “actually, I just woke up one day and decided that I didn’t want to feel that way anymore or ever again. So I changed….just like that”

blog

That was me.

I went on my major journey of self discovery and started to work out who I was. Book by book by book. Meditation by meditation by meditaion. Gratitude by gratitude by gratitude by gratitude. Beautiful friend, by beautiful friend, by beautiful friend. Gym session by gym session by gym session.

I discovered, rather profoundly that…

I wasn’t the ecstasy on weekends.

Or the alcohol at parties to give me confidence.

Or saying the wrong thing to the wrong person to fit in.

I wasn’t the bitching or the gossiping or the negativity.

I wasn’t my feelings of hopelessness.

Nor was I the crippling anxiety from suppressing who I WAS.

My soul started to rumble with the truth …. The truth of who I WAS. And I went on my journey to find that out. I know this doesn’t confuse you either – you know exactly what I’m talking about, because you have felt it too. The whisper or loud knocking on your soul to step in to more of the person you truly are and leave behind all the mess and confusion.

The more I tapped in to my true self, the more I allowed my personality to come through, the more I didn’t say the things I didn’t want to and DID say the things I wanted to – finding my voice, the more I surrounded myself with positive people and the more I read books that uplifted my soul – I found my truth.

And the truth was simple.

That I had a spirit that was pure divinity – just like every other beautiful human on the planet.

That I had all the confidence I needed by simply being my (loud) authentic self.

That I could never say the wrong thing to the right person and that the key was surrounding myself with the right people – in every way, every day.

That I was love. That I could give love, receive love, speak love, act in love and be consumed by love.

That my personality was perfect the way it was when I was most being myself and I didn’t have to say or be or do anything that was out of alignment with that to appease anyone else.

The truth was that I was worthy.

The truth was I didn’t need to be validated by anyone else – but me.

And my life changed.

I became the girl you now see in the right of that photo.

Here is what I need people to most get right to their soul however.

It’s that you’re allowed to change.

Your allowed to have gotten so completely lost and off track and done stupid things and said stupid things and want to change.

You can have been the crazy loud fighting girl – and want to become the softer, more loving girl that is inspired by positivity.

You can have always been the quiet reserved one but really had this loud eccentric spirit who is sick of being squashed and ready to bust out. Bust her out I say.

You can have been a wild corporate workaholic (and no doubt be miserable) and actually re birth yourself as the woman who has always been inside who is a hippie loving yogi who wants to run away to Nepal and write a book or become a nude model.

I don’t know your truth. I don’t need to know your truth. I just need YOU to know your truth and I need you to start to un cover it, step in to it and powerfully live it out.

And NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO TELL YOU OTHERWISE. NO ONE can stop you in to becoming the person you were born to be.

No one.

People will try though. Believe me, they will try. They will tell you that “this isn’t you, where has she come from? You are the crazy one remember, you think youre too good for us now do you?” They will say it to your face some days and other days they will tell everyone but you to try to keep you in the box and confines of what they were comfortable with you being.

But don’t let them stop you on your quest for your truth.

You have a spirit inside of you bursting to live authentically. Gently knocking, sometimes loudly nudging….everyday …. I know you feel it and I know you have heard it, because I did too. And I listened.

And don’t think that trying to step in to your truth will be easy or come without growing pains.

I was bullied. Constantly.

I was attacked with words, belitted, cut down and cut out from peoples lives (you know, the ones who still wanted me to be an asshole and feel shit about myself who should never have been in my life to begin with).

But none of that mattered anymore – because I knew who I was and meeting that girl, this woman I am today – the one who has a voice and loves herself and knows exactly who she is – that excited me more than I can ever explain and it kept me hungry on my quest to bring her out.

Find your hunger.

Go on your fucking quest for truth – it doesn’t need to be scary or extreme either. You DO need to begin it though.

Don’t fear this change. Honour and be excited by it.

LISTEN to the gentle calls (or maybe it’s more of a loud knocking) that you have ignored for far too long.

Understand that you were created and you are here to be you, exactly as you are and wildly authentic.

I listened and you can see your journey in colour before your very eyes. I went from not caring about my health at all (I literally thought it was ‘cool’ to love shit food and drink my weekends away) to having health as my absolute #1 priority and having one of my greatest passions as fitness. IMAGINE if I had of listened to even one person when I went on this quest who said “who do you think you are you, you are absolutely not this person” – well no actually, it’s exactly who I am.

Tune in. It’s all I’m asking. You have a truth inside of you that is busting to come out and you can’t be scared of it anymore. IT’s your JOB to live your brightest most authentic life, and your spirit can’t wait a day longer.

And as the beautiful insightful Brene Brown says..

Your job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending – to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how the story ends”

How will YOU choose your story to end?

I hope it’s bold. I hope its authentic and I hope its in bright colour.

Summer is on its way – are you ready?

As I sit here and write this on a beautiful sunny 26 degree day in Perth, we are on an excited countdown to Summer; 40 day countdown to be exact. 40 more sleeps until we can officially welcome Summer (and let us never forget the honourable mention to Christmas considering December 1st also brings a 24 sleep countdown until Santa arrives, my favourite day of the year).

Summer Cleanse PROMO

With any warmer weather brings a new level of commitment to some people as they know that soon, they will be back on the beach or holidaying over Christmas, and if they haven’t been as careful in Winter, then this month or two pre December becomes the months gym memberships start getting used again, healthy eating recipes are getting googled and fitness instagram accounts are being followed.

Here is how I know this too – because my current amazing gym has gone from late cancellations and no shows every morning (I attend an F45 where you have to book in for classes) to booked out classes with no, no shows 2 weeks in advance.

I get it; Summer is coming and we all want to get ready.

Something that I am extremely passionate about however and is right up there as #1 on my values list is health. So when I see this happening, Summer coming and people fired up to get their health back I always get a little deflated that their health or looking and feeling great wasn’t their priority the whole year.

You see, without our health, we have nothing, and until we lose our health, that saying is frustratingly just that… a saying. It’s not until we are sick or feeling like absolute sh*t that we stop and go ‘whoa ok, I need to take better care of myself, without my health I have nothing.’

The above reasons (not just Summer but let’s stay on that the whole time as it’s why I’m here, writing this) are what lead me 2 years and 7 months ago to nutritional cleansing (Isagenix). Because health IS my #1 value and I didn’t want to just look good when Summer rolled around, in fact it wasn’t just about looking good for me …

it has ALWAYS been about feeling good.

I shared it on this blog as soon as I had felt and seen the results for myself – my original 30 day cleanse experience can be read here.

I started on Isagenix because I was an exceptionally clean eater and I was an avid exerciser, a keen water drinker and got my recommended 8 hours of sleep a night. In short; I did everything by the book for optimal health – and although what all that got me was looking great, sure! It didn’t have me feeling great. I was still headed in to every day lethargic, had digestion issues, poor sleep, bloating, poor skin health and the list goes on.

Alas I am digressing, if you want to read why I started and what my initial results were, as I said – click on that link to hear all about that.

Here is what I most wanted to share though. That that 30 day cleanse was 2 years and 7 months ago, and for 2 years and 7 months I have continued to put the products in my body and continued to get phenomenal results. I have also continued to have health as my #1 value and truly live in to that. So when Summer rolls around, instead of having to kill myself in the gym or change up my diet, I roll on in to it healthy and feeling and looking great. Thanks to the products AROUND my exercise daily and clean eating (of which I am also an ambassador for and will never stop) I have maintained incredible results of looking great (which I am proud of, more women, in fact ALL women should love the skin they’re in) but most importantly in my eyes, I have FELT fantastic the whole time.

My first 30 days

B&A - 30 day

1 year of using the products

1 year

2 years of using the products

2 year

 

So yes, Summer IS coming and I know many of you will be looking for ways to get healthier yourself, to look good (and hopefully feel good in the process) – and Morgan and I want to help.

We know what this nutritional cleansing program has done for us and our lives and we know what it can do for you.

But what I most want to get you excited about or impress upon you – is that with this system it doesn’t have to end when Summer does or after you are starting to look and feel great – it is so a system that you can incorporate in to your lifestyle around how you live and eat (but as an ambassador for clean eating, I always encourage that!)

I want to be a part of a society who looks after their health all year around, who loves how they look all year around, and who FEEL fantastic all year around – I know to change the world we have to change our world first, and to impact world health (and world health is in a LOT of trouble) we have to impact our OWN health first.

So if you are ready to at least learn some more about the program and how you can incorporate it in to your life and how it can get you some phenomenal results health wise – then drop us a line at:

info@annaandmorgan.com

Or visit our vision page and fill in the contact us details at the bottom.

We are always here cheering on your choices no matter what, but I just know how good it feels….to feel good – and I want that for you too.

Are you living a life of TRUE Freedom?

Freedom

Freedom. 7 little letters forming a word that can mean so much to some and conjure so much emotion in others. Here where I sit, I could never know what that word means to you or what kind of emotion it stirs, and maybe, hey maybe it conjures no emotion for you, but if I may, I would love to share here what it means to me – and I hope you might get something out of this too.

I believe Freedom to be exactly what it has always intended to be – the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants.

Let’s go a little deeper on that though.

To me, the SINGLE HANDED most free’ing ‘thing’ in the world you can EVER gift yourself is not caring what other people think about you. Letting it ALL go. Knowing that their perception and opinion is just that, THEIR’S and it’s shaped by their own life experiences and beliefs and values. And that’s ok. My favourite quote is “it’s their stuff, not yours”.

I see it everyday. In every way. People desperate to speak up, to act out, to have a voice, to laugh loudly, to share a positive message – and yet they are so frozen in fear of what other people might think or say or how they might be perceived, they stop themselves. They stay silent. They muffle the laugh. They choose to not spread a message dying to come out.

You have to understand this though and understand it well, if you are one of the extremely lucky ones to live in a free country with free speech – to silence yourself is a heartbreaking choice.
Some of you may be thinking, who am I to bring this truth to you, and I SHARE this truth because I have lived on both sides. Giving away my freedom and now reclaiming it back and knowing I have the power and right to act, speak and think as I want.

TED TALK QUOTE

I remember it well. I was 23 and I really started to ‘change’. I didn’t want to have all my conversations with my friends revolve around other people anymore. I didn’t want to be so negative and anxious all the time and so I started to change. I read more books and went on a huge journey of personal development. I started to become who I wanted more to be – positive, happy, I wanted to share the inspiring quote on facebook with the most loving of intentions, I wanted to share the journey I was on.

Like all people will experience many times in their life though, I had people in my networks that really didn’t like I was changing. So they would be extra negative and berate if I tried to be positive.

They tried to take away my freedom and right to act, speak and think as I wanted too.

Luckily I never listened, for long. Initially, it hurt, I got angry and upset and almost let them stop me for a whole…hour. And then Morgan my amazing husband clearly with much more wisdom and insight than me said “are you really going to let these negative opinions dictate your future – GO AND BE SUCCESSFUL REGARDLESS”. So, I stopped caring what they thought of me, I realized it was none of my business, it was THEIR stuff, not mine and finally took those steps for the first time in my life, it was the greatest gift I could have ever given myself. It was the very definition of freedom to me. I had never felt more free.

I know if I had of cared what other people thought of me I would never, ever, ever be where I am today. No way, no how.

And it didn’t just happen when I was younger either. At 25 I joined a network marketing company and wanted to get my health back on track with their world class nutritional cleansing products.

I was so excited. I was ready to grow again, to try something new, to be positive and make an impact. But again, people in my networks didn’t like that I had chosen something so, so different.

They didn’t like that I was again, changing – which you HAVE to understand is incredibly crazy when it has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else but yourself when you ARE going through a change in your life.

I was told I was crazy, an idiot, I was questioned by girlfriends who thought it was all a façade saying, ‘as if you’re really that grateful and happy Anna’ – it was like they needed me to actually not be getting ahead and to stay stuck where I was. I lost friends over it, their doing, not mine. I was mocked, bullied viciously and publicly vilified.

All because I chose to again make a choice to better myself and move myself forward.

These people, tried with all they had to take away my power and right to act, speak and think as I wanted to – they tried to take away the very definition of Freedom, in a free country, with free speech.

And guess what I did? I again didn’t listen. I didn’t care for 1 second about their opinions. By this stage in life I had learnt that unless you are living the life I want to lead, of love and happiness, of contribution and making something of yourself – I wasn’t ever going to listen to your opinions and I certainly wasn’t going to care what you thought of me whilst I set out to live my own life.

free

Paying zero attention to the opinion and judgement of others is ALWAYS done in a loving intention as well, it’s never, ever a “I don’t give a f what you think” .. ever. It’s a “I love you for where you’re at and what you think of me has no bearing on who I am or how I will live my life” – the greatest thing of all now though is I don’t even have to actually say that now, because to defend an opinion or judgement of someone is to give it energy, and to give it energy is unnecessary when you can continue to just go out and keep living your life of love and adventure.

Did it take me a long time to get to that stage? Yes of course, it is absolutely a muscle you have to flex and build and truthfully, there are still fleeting moments I of COURSE slip up (we are all human after all living a beautiful human experience).

The KEY to being ok with not worrying about what people think though is surmised beautifully in this quote – “in order to love who you are, you can not hate the experiences that shaped you”.

I don’t run or hide from my past – so NO ONE has power over me.

WHY on EARTH should you be ashamed or embarrassed or hide from what you did when you were failing forward (I still am and always will be), when we do that we hand over ALL of our power and of course get affected by what people think or say about us.

The moment you can honour every part of your past, good and bad, and be ok with it is the moment you start reclaiming some of your power.

Who you were back then doesn’t have to have any affect on who you are becoming or who you WANT to be.

So I want you to think about this, where in your life are you stopping yourself from saying what you really feel? Or doing what you really want? All from fear of what other people might think or say.

I have some news for you and I want you to really be ready to hear this – but….

 you’re allowed to change.

Me

You’re allowed to have been a crazy party’ier and now want to stop the drugs or alcohol and lead a more positive life.

I did.

You’re allowed to have never been sure about what you wanted and where you wanted to go and now found something you’re REALLY passionate for and GO for it.

I did.

You’re allowed to have been someone who has never had a clue about fashion and now loves to at least try to keep up with the trends if that is what makes you happy.

I did.

You’re allowed to have been someone who was really negative and an asshole and now actually like people and want the best for them (in fact if that’s you then I am cheering you on so loudly)

And guess what? You’re allowed to SHARE ALL OF THAT. You’re allowed to be excited by it. You’re allowed to want to go on that journey and not do it in secret. You’re allowed to say how you feel and enjoy the transition.

YOU’RE ALLOWED TO HAVE THE POWER AND RIGHT TO ACT, SPEAK AND THINK EXACTLY AS YOU PLEASE without anyone attacking or judging or bringing you down.

And if that happens – maybe those people aren’t ready to move in to the next phase of your own life and that’s ok too, just love them where they’re at, don’t spend time with those that make you feel horrible about yourself and keep moving forward.

I think you are remarkable the way you are – flaws and eff up’s and bad choices, silly mistakes and ALL and I know who you are becoming is a beautiful best version of you and you shouldn’t be afraid to step in to that power and share it, not for one second.

So love YOU and start understanding that what people think of you is NONE of your business and start stepping in to more of who you WANT to be but have been scared to because of what ‘others might say’ … remember that those who matter won’t mind and those that mind don’t matter.

Cheering you on as you step in to who you were born to be, not who society has told you to be.

Remember those who dance are considered insane by those who can’t hear the music … so it doesn’t matter if people can’t hear your music, JUST NEVER STOP DANCING TO THE BEAT OF YOUR OWN DRUM and where that beat takes you.

Drums

Dream Honeymooning in the Maldives

Stepping off the plane it all hit me at once.

Maldives. We had made it. Since I was a young teenager I had dreamed of going there and in that moment, stepping off the plane to the wave of warm air and ocean smells, I had made my dream come true. It was completely indescribable and actually quite (read: very) emotional.

I believe we create goals and strive for them for the feeling we have when we accomplish them, it might be an adrenaline, it might be excitement, it might be pure joy – and for me the Maldives dream was for the feeling of bliss, and in some way, for accomplishment – for every sight, sound, meal and experience to be blissful and knowing I along with Morgan had worked hard to deserve it.

So there we were and there I was feeling blissed out and emotional. From the moment we stepped off the plane it truly was bliss too.

We had booked and organized our 10 nights of the Maldives to be spent at 4 seasons resorts – Kuda Hurra, The Explorer (3 story luxury catamaran) and Landa Girrarrha and if we go again, we would stay there again, it was just that divinely blissful and beautiful. As it is 5 star resorts though we disembarked off the plane to have our Four Seasons representative waiting for us in the arrival area and were whisked off to a private gorgeous room to relax on lounges with cold refreshments and towles and free wifi as we awaited for our boat to be ready to be boated to the island. It wasn’t long before we were getting walked to the boat and the adventure was about to begin. What struck me the most was a) how incredibly close to the ocean the airport was, I’m talking, mere metres, and b) how beautifully clear and clean the water was for a bay, and not just any bay, an airport bay, so the busiest bay in all the Maldives no doubt.

I remember every feeling I had – and at this stage it was awe and excitement and emotional overwhelm. Getting on to the luxury boat for the 30 minute ride to our first hotel Kuda Hurra I kissed Morgan and he looked at me and without saying a word we both knew we were feeling the same. As we took off I remember the stars the most. I felt like they were the brightest I had ever experienced. The sky was just full of them, like there was no sky left as the whole galaxy had fit in to the night sky just for us … and it was at that moment I had my first overwhelm of emotion and the tears started, not from sadness but from pure and utter happiness and bliss. I was grateful beyond words or feelings and I couldn’t have stopped them if I tried.

The first night was divine. We got in to our ‘home’ for the night which was a beautiful sunrise facing over the water bungalow. Morgan is a white personality so it takes a fair bit for him to really show his emotion or excitement, and I have to say, walking in to that bungalow was the first time almost in 10 years I had seen him that excited and filled with emotion – it was just really, really special.

We were spoiled with French champagne and a dessert on arrival as we were, after all, on our honeymoon and we wasted no time diving in to both.

1

2

Awaking the first morning was like nothing I could ever properly articulate. We had slept with the curtins open as we had arrived in to the Maldives late at night so although we could see the closeness and divinity of the ocean, it was no sunshine and blue skies experience. The first stream of daylight woke us and we were up faster than I think either of us had ever jumped out of bed.

Exquisite would be one way of explaining what we saw. Crystal, crystal, crystal clear waters that seemed to never end. And our bungalow was directly over them. From every area of the bungalow, you had water views, including the toilet – and I get why, it has a beauty too divine to ever hide away from a wall or floor!

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

After spending our day snorkeling, lounging on the beautiful sun beds, eating the delicious food and swimming in the extraordinary pools, we were shuttled on a speed boat to our 2nd Four Seasons resort – which just so happened to be a 3 story catamaran called The Explorer, that was going to take us cruising for the next 4 days around the islands.

The next 4 days were a blur of snorkeling, island visits, sun baking, swimming in ocean’s so clear you could see the bottom no matter how deep and eating some of the most delicious cuisine we had ever tasted. Every night on the ‘ship’ we had a theme night (there were just three other lovely couples so 8 of us all up on a boat that could fit over 40) so would get dressed up as we were told, be it cocktail, casual or wear a sarong provided and were treated to tastes you couldn’t imagine were whipped up on a boat and accompanying wine and champagne.

39

11 12 13 14 15 16 18 20 21 23 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 33 34

One of the nights I will never ever forget until my last breathe was actually the last night on the ship. We were told there was a note from the cruise manager (an amazing man by the name of Areef) that we needed to read for dinner. We got in to our room and there were beautiful sarongs laid out with a note to be ready for dinner by 6pm and to meet on the back deck. 6pm on the dot Morgan and I and the 6 others were in our sarongs on the back deck to be met with staff and Areef, who told us to board the smaller boat as we were going to a deserted island for dinner about 2 minutes by boat away.

We arrived on the island to it lit up with candles and small fires lighting a path and a way to welcome drinks and canapés. After some pinch me moments there we were then lead to the area we would have dinner and never have I ever seen anything like it. The staff during the day had obviously worked so hard (secretly) and had dug out a huge table and chairs in the sand for us to sit at and eat – it was covered in cloth and I have to say was one of the most comfiest / fun tables I have ever had the deep pleasure of sitting at.

35 36

The food was something out of this world, a 10, yes, 10 course degustation of fresh seafood, marinated chicken, local cuisine, and fresh vegetables and desserts all whipped up by gas ON the island, I remember at the end of the meal we asked Areef to please go and get him and we all gave him a standing ovation as it was just unreal what was served – how it tasted, how it was presented, all of it, when he had a small gas stove and little else.

The real surprise and emotion (for me) of the evening came when far off in the distance, we could hear some soft drumming. I turned to Areef to ask if he could hear it and he had the worlds most beautiful and biggest smile on his face which to me showed he knew that something was coming and we were going to love it. Moments later 30 – 40 Maldivian men burst out from the bushes singing and dancing traditional Maldivian song and dance.

After 2 songs performing for us they through body language asked us to join them and without hesitation Morgan and I were singing and dancing amongst them.

38 37

I have to say, and I know Morgan says the same from the night, it was the most fun, most liberating, most free’ing dancing experience we have both ever had. There was something so deeply primal to it, loud drums, ancient songs sung (us having no idea of the words), the shirts even came off the boys, it was a night that no amount of money could have ever bought and no matter how hard we ever try, could ever be re done with the fun and emotion felt in that moment.

There is a photo of us, dancing amongst the men, tribal in our movement but it’s my favourite photo of us of all time as it captured the moment so perfectly and what I feel when I look at that photo and where it takes me back to is just ultimate joy.

32

Once the last drum was banged and last song sung, we were shuttled back to our catamaran on the smaller boats and bid everyone a late goodnight.

The following morning, with a full and grateful heart we arrived close to our last destination after 4 of the most blissful days of our lives on the boat, the last hotel we had booked was called Landa Girrarrha (the 3rd Four Seasons resort in the Maldives) where we were spending 5 nights to finish off our dream honeymoon.

I remember telling Morgan distinctly and adamantly in my true Anna determination and gal that loves a plan style “babe when we get off this boat and get on to land 100% the FIRST thing I do is I WILL get to the gym” … HAAAAAAAAA. Yeah.Right. With every pure intention in my being, we got to our divine over the water bungalow (with sunset view and private balcony) and there was yet another bottle of chilled French Champagne awaiting us. We were then shown our villa for the next 5 days and I got no further than the bathroom. The longest, deepest bath I had ever seen with views of the infinite ocean out the window. I walked back out and saw the chilled bottle of champagne, and knew exactly what I would be doing instead of the gym – drinking that bottle of champagne in a hot bath reading my favourite book. And that is how we kicked off day 1 of our adventure at Landa Girrarrha.

One thing I will say about the Maldives is it is so fundamentally set up for Honeymooners – although Morgan and I have vowed to be back regardless at LEAST once a year. The first night we were out to dinner at one of the beautiful restaurants on the island (Italian!) polishing off culinary delights and an amazing bottle of red, we got back to our hotel and walked in to the bathroom to find they had set up a bubble bath for us whilst we were out at dinner, with rose petals, melted chocolate and strawberries and….another bottle of French Champagne. Now, never one to say no to anything deeply romantic and utterly divine we jumped straight in to that bath and didn’t get out until the champagne and strawberries were gone.

The 5 days were truly, deeply, honestly .. heaven on earth. It is in fact my belief that heaven IS on earth (as is hell – which expresses itself in depression, and evil) we just have to be open to finding it. And every morning when we woke up as soon as the sun was starting to rise (we couldn’t sleep in if you had of paid us) until the sun set and we were going to bed many many hours later, every day, we sincerely were, living our heaven on earth. From the crystal blue waters that didn’t even feel or look real, to the white white sand and deep blue skies. To the sunrises and sunsets that were out of this world beautiful and the champagne toasts overlooking both the sunset and the white sand and crystal water. To the swims off our balcony and the rides around the island without a care in the world. From the dinners that we never wanted to leave laughing and talking until late in to the night to the private air yoga classes … it was all, heaven, on…earth.

I will always, always remember our honeymoon as a total dream, almost other worldy from the beauty and experiences we got to live in to and the love that grew and commitments made (let’s come back yearly, let’s remember these moments and go back to them when we are fighting and so on).

Sharing these photos and memories with you is as much for me as it IS for you as its a slice of my favourite time now etched forever in Black and White (& colour now thanks to the beautiful photos).

From one honeymooner to another though, if you are planning your wedding, do spend some time and dreaming and scheming when it comes to your honeymoon. I’m the biggest advocate for always living and spending within your means, so if Maldives isn’t possible but you want white sandy beaches and crystal clear water go and find that and have the time of your life. I think taking that time after the wedding (immediately as well if its possible) is so so critical to the start of a happy marriage as you are still on the high of wedded love.

I shared my memories and adventure with you but now I would love to hear where YOU went on your honeymoon or if you haven’t had one yet, where would you most love to go? Leave me a comment in the box below and let’s start manifesting the honeymoon of your dreams!

40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 57

 

Loving the skin you’re in

A real woman

Has Curves

Is Skinny

Has Muscles 

is whatever the hell she wants to be

Anna Richards - Kick Boxing w words

I remember the first time I ever read this quote, I was absentmindedly scrolling Instagram and there it was, a quote so simplistic in it’s message but made me stop in my tracks and fist pump the air silently screaming yes. The message I had tried so hard to convey for the past 5 years of my life, right in front of my eyes. The power was in it’s truth, and it’s simplicity.

A real woman – IS whatever the hell she wants to be.

No truer words could be spoken.

So why am I choose to share this with you now? Well because I want to share some recent photos I had taken of myself that came about after me completing a 6 week body challenge where I was just simply a little more behaved with my eating (and drinking of champagne)  and strict with my training, i.e. I did more hot yoga in between my F45 sessions. I want to share them though because I’m really, really proud of them, but being proud of them, means I’m proud of me – and you know what? I’m proud of myself for that fact. I’m proud of myself that I am PROUD of my body and my photos because it has taken me a really long time to get to this place.

I was also called to share these photos and title this; loving the skin you’re in, because there are some devastating statistics that I think need your attention..

The stats? 

  • Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful (up from 2% in 2004)

  • Only 11% of girls globally are comfortable describing themselves as ‘beautiful’

  • 72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful

  • 80% of women agree that every woman has something about her that is beautiful but do not see their own beauty

  • More than half (54%) of women globally agree that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst beauty critic

(Reference: http://www.dove.us/docs/pdf/19_08_10_The_Truth_About_Beauty-White_Paper_2.pdf)
Another huge thing happened to me the other day that came about whilst at a leadership event on the Gold Coast sitting next to my husband. The 1,500 strong crowd was asked by the amazing relationship coach and speaker Beth Hanishewski what kind of qualities would our partner have if we had a 10/10 relationship. I based my qualities (of course) around my husband Morgan and listed things like; attentive, sincerely loving, conscious, romantic, and when I looked at his list, although many of our qualities matched, there was one right in the middle that took my breathe away;
“Loves her body and beauty”
I (naturally) immediately questioned him over this saying hey, but I DO love my body and don’t have that negative self talk around my image to which he replied “yeah baby but you yourself still don’t even realise how much you can put yourself or your body down”. It actually made me deeply emotional in the best of ways. Here was a man, I love more than life itself, wanting a quality in his wife where she honoured and loved herself more. A quality that I dare say is not unique to him alone, I believe most men, if not all men would honour this in a woman and yet here we are barely able to honour ourselves.
I realised that if someone who talks on love, self love, and being an ambassador of both, still has moments of weakness around seeing her beauty, loving the skin she’s in and self worth issues, then I am underestimating just how rampant this issue is amongst other women also.
So I want to remind you again with the quote that helped me understand that it didn’t matter if I chose to be bigger, smaller, musclier, curvier, whatever ….

A real woman is (whoever) or whatever the hell she wants to be

You are beautiful and it is your prerogative to look inside and find what it is you need to realise that. I know for me, getting to this moment, and loving the skin I’m in (and believe me I still have bad hours* don’t worry!) it took me developing healthier eating habits, exercising every day with movement that I love and finding self love rituals that worked for me.
We all have work to do on ourselves when it comes to this self love thing, I just shared honestly above that even I do but in the spirit of flexing that muscle and owning that I am becoming more proud of the skin I am in (through lot’s of hard work and sweat and dedication) it would be an honour to share these photos with you to try to start increasing that statistic of 11% of women who are comfortable calling themselves beautiful.
P.s how I achieved these results is as I said above, dedication and commitment to my health. Health and vitality is my #1 priority so everyday I eat right and move my body. Food wise; it’s clean eating around my Isagenix and training wise, I incorporate F45 sessions (5-6 times a week) with Hot Yoga 3-4 times a week also. F45 for my body and Yoga for my mind. Isagenix for my overall healthy wellbeing and nutrition. If you want to talk about Isagenix (what is it and more information) you’ll find me to chat about it at info@annaandmorgan.com
Anna Richards - Two Dumbells Smiling w words
Anna Richards - Side Arm Pull w words
Anna Richards - Kick Boxing Shadowed w words
Anna Richards - Dumbell Front w words
Anna Richards - One arm dumbbell Front w words
Anna Richards - Lat Pull Down Front w words