The Ultimate Gift: Materialistic or Experiential?

When it comes to giving a gift what comes to mind? We usually start thinking about what does the receiver like, what interests have they mentioned recently, what wouldn’t they want….there’s a massive list of questions that come to mind, and because we’re overwhelmed by our lack of answers to these questions we usually end up buying something useless or safe, like a pair of socks or a nice soap. I mean don’t get me wrong these gifts I’m sure would come in handy at some point, even if they get added to the re-gifting pile.

So then what would make an AMAZING gift? Well recently I’ve realised that a gift experience can have so much more meaning rather than just giving or receiving a material thing. I bet you’re thinking: but this will require even more thought and attention right? Well yes, but I’ve got some ideas for you…keep reading….

For my birthday this year my friends treated me to a trip to the Hashtag Meow Cat Cafe followed by dinner at Carmine and Co. This was such a sweet gift because it incoporated my love for cats and zeppole, plus I was able to share the experience with my friends.

Other gift experiences could include pampering vouchers, most people love a good massage, mani, pedi or facial. Taking someone special out for a picnic or to a restaurant. For those of you in Adelaide (or those visiting Adelaide) Mount Lofty House are offering some amazing experiences, see below:

·       Indulge in lunch or dinner at the award-winning, acclaimed Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant complete with a private, Sommelier-led tasting in the heritage cellars
·       A rose petal strewn cellar tour, candle-lit (proposal or anniversary dinner at HVR – with a view, see below)
·       Signature couples’ spa rituals in Stable Day Spa
·       Chocolates and Mount Lofty House sparkling on the balcony overlooking the Piccadilly Valley
·       All-inclusive picnic, set up in front of one of the roaring log fires inside Mount Lofty House
·       Gourmet picnic hampers designed to be shared in the botanic gardens directly below Mount Lofty House
·       Pick estate grown flowers throughout the sprawling gardens developed by South Australian icon Arthur Hardy to enjoy back in a private suite
·       Arrive at Mount Lofty House by helicopter, enjoy lunch or dinner at HVR and stay a night or two before departing in style with a vintage car
·       Taste the Adelaide Hills’ wine delights with a helicopter tour from the estate to prestigious wineries such as Shaw & Smith and Hahndorf Hill with a vintage car pickup to return to the mansion.

So now that you’re equipped with plenty of ideas for your next gifting occasion, I’m sure you’re going to be loved just that little bit more, if one of these experiences is being gifted (and it didn’t even have to take much thought on your end!). Happy gifting.

mt

Is Your ‘But’ Bigger Than You Think

A while back now I watched an Australian film called; The Dressmaker starring Kate Winslet. There was a particular scene that sparked an interesting thought about how a person’s own ability to find an alternative to problems that they face, by using the word ‘but’.

In this scene, Winslet’s character Myrtle is upset with the townspeople’s treatment towards her and in a rage wanted to leave the town along with her reluctant mother. Myrtle debates with her mother Molly (played by Judy Davis) all the reasons they should leave the town, giving in to those around her. However with every reason, Molly rebuffs her with each statement beginning with ‘but…’

It’s a simple contrasting word that is often used in a negative context. I want to be an artist BUT I can’t draw. I want to get fit BUT I don’t have time to exercise. It’s an easy way to excuse yourself from facing a difficult problem and nowadays we do it almost subconsciously. What I found during this scene was the strength of this seemingly insignificant word being used in a positive way, to reason and reinforce…

So how about when you’re feeling like giving up or giving in to a problem that you face, turn this word into your own power tool to combat difficult situations and times of uncertainty, instead of letting them win.

For example, I’ve recently started a YouTube channel (The Gracious Life) and I’m sure most people can understand putting yourself out there in such a public light is no easy feat. I had wanted to create this channel for a while, however I kept using negative ‘BUTS’ to question my own insecurities. From the way I look and sound on camera to the negative feedback and reactions I might receive, there were just so many ‘buts’. What I realised overtime and with the support of friends, is that yes, I have these insecurities BUT if I give into them, I would never move forward and achieve my goals, which holds a greater importance than my insecurities. And now that I have created my channel, this has proven to be true.

So when you’re thinking about what you want to do in life, whether it’s on a day-to-day basis or long-term goals you want to achieve, and you start having those thoughts that are telling you to run in the opposite direction, think about your BUT. Ask yourself is your BUT bigger than those thoughts that are causing confusion. Start with ‘but…’ and finish with a positive statement. You might just realise that the outcome holds a greater importance to the negative thoughts that are holding you back.

Originally published on Glam Adelaide

How Breathing the Right Way can Change Your Life

Breathing. It is something that most of us do without really thinking about it. It keeps us alive (we know, stating the obvious) but have you ever thought about how breathing can assist us in certain situations?

In today’s fast paced and ever changing society it is no wonder that we can often find ourselves anxious, stressed and/or worried. We have all seen that scene in a movie where someone is stressing out and to try and calm down, they breathe into a paper bag. While this may help some people (there is actually method behind the seemingly mad action), there are other simple breathing techniques that can be used to create calmness within.

Those who practice yoga or other forms of meditation will recognise the use of breathing practices as a way to create internal calmness and relaxation. Bringing these techniques into your every day life or maybe just when you are feeling that anxiety/stress/worry come on, could make a huge difference to the way that you are feeling and how you cope with certain situations.

Have you ever noticed that when you’re anxious or stressed that we tend to take short shallow breaths from the upper chest? Instead try to concentrate your breathing all the way down into your abdomen. Deep and slow belly breathing is known for creating a sense of calm. Your body actually reacts to this slow type of breathing and responds more rationally. Gosh our body is clever!

Breathing is something we have the power to control and change. So if you find yourself becoming anxious, stress or worried, try using this ‘super’ power of yours and change the way you breathe. You might just find the ability to calm yourself down and tackle any situation head on.

I would love to hear how breathing has helped you in a stressful situation, so let me know at mayanthi@thegraciouslife.com.au

Originally published on Glam Adelaide

Throw That ‘Too Hard Basket’ Out and Start Achieving Your Goals

So that famous too hard basket, have you heard the saying? Well i reckon I hadn’t heard of it till I joined the workforce. And it’s made me think, why have we made it so easy to just throw something in the too hard basket, why should this be allowed, because really throwing something in the too hard basket actually means giving up or not doing something about something that needs doing.
I know for me I don’t really think about the too hard basket very often and I think there are 3 reasons for this:
1. I’m usually passionate about the things I think about doing so I’ll do whatever I can to not make it so hard to do.
2. I work on it slowly, do abit here and abit there so it doesn’t feel like I’m taking on a massive task all at once.
3. I don’t think of it as too hard. Our brains have so much power that the more we think something the more real it feels and the more we believe it.
So my lessons here are firstly if you really are passionate about doing something then take it on as a challenge, it’s not going to be easy but it doesn’t mean the idea needs to go in the too hard basket, it just needs a little TLC. Secondly, break your idea down into doable steps (Rome wasn’t built in a day..hey hey hey). And thirdly, I think this point is so important; don’t think of something as too hard, if you really want to do something, and it’s physically possible, then just put a little bit of time and work into it. Once you start working on it, it will become easier and easier!

Managing The Work/Life Balance with Abbey Cooke from She Means Business Events

‘GOOD stories get read, then get archived or used once, but more than likely they often get forgotten about…GREAT stories last a lifetime- any story, even an event, no matter how big or small should always take your guests on a journey’.

  1. What made you decide to start your own business?

I studied a Bachelor of Business majoring in Marketing and Human Resources at University for 4 years, and studied an Executive Certificate in Event Management.

I then established myself in the financial industry in a global role for 6 years, which is where I realised my passion and enthusiasm for event management.  I have managed complex logistical events spanning both the international and domestic market, across a variety of industries, which have showcased my superior event management skills and professional execution of events.

She Means Business Events (SMBE ~ officially launching in May 2017) was born from my desire to spend more time in South Australia, and my passion and love of bringing people together in the one space and creating memories!

 I have a keen eye for detail, complemented with perfectionism, which ensures a uniquely created SMBE event.  SMBE adds a modern and trendy spin on events for both our corporate and private clients which are flawlessly executed.

abbey
Abbey Cooke, Owner/Director ~ She Means Business Events

2. What/Who inspires you in life and work?

I have to admit I find it very hard to answer this question.  Inspiration is stimulation for the human mind to learn, create, achieve, and to give. I believe that all great accomplishments are a result of motivation, encouragement and are spawned by inspiration.

So, what inspires me to be successful, and why am I inspired? For some time, I’ve been following inspiring leaders, entrepreneurs, and business movers-and-shakers, and I’m still awed and amazed at how much there is out in the world to be inspired by! I’m happy to say that I am now constantly inspired by men and women who are 100 steps ahead of me, doing what I long to, in the way I long to do it, with authenticity, clarity, grace and power.

I am fortunate enough that I have been inspired and mentored by some wonderful people both domestically and internationally, the most influential and inspiring motto coming from my Adelaide based mentor which SMBE currently lives by…

Bite off more than you can chew, and then chew like buggery!”

3. How do you find the work/life balance and your Top 3 tips for balancing life and work?

If you’ve been sitting at your desk reading about SMBE, daydreaming about the glamorous life of owning your own events company, it’s time to wake up! Starting up any business can be brutal in this socioeconomic climate and to be successful you have to face reality – hard work, long days (and nights), and a whole lot of coffee and networking!

It’s not all doom and gloom though, once you’ve taken the leap and decided to start! Here are a few of my tips for managing and maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

  • Step away from the email

At some point, almost everyone becomes addicted! For me, it started when I starting working for a global company. I wanted to be available 24/7 to my team who were located in multiple locations around the world.  My ‘new email’ alert would constantly sound throughout the day/night and my Inbox began to control my life. It wasn’t until a good friend of mine would confiscate my phone during our catch ups, that I truly realised that I was in fact an addict, and how much I was missing out on around me,

Would you believe that scientists have actually established a clear link between spending time on email and stress?  In other words, the more frequently we check our email, the more frazzled we feel!

  •  Just say ‘NO’!

In today’s fast-paced and caffeine-driven world, it seems like the need to say no is absent in most people. You can’t say no because you feel guilty, or people will judge you.

I understand your situation completely. Confession time? I used to say yes, all the time too because the thought of saying no literally crippled me.

Now, though, I regret the times when I failed to say no! Let’s face it saying yes to everyone is stressful, and it’s definitely not good for your mental, physical and spiritual health!

  •  Work smarter, not harder

There is a body of opinion that you should work more and sleep less. It often takes Margaret Thatcher as a role model: she only needed four hours sleep and look what she did to the country! These days they call it sleep hacking- training your mind and body to need less sleep. But that trend is all wrong!

Essentially, working smart means figuring out what your strengths are and building a network around you to build upon those, in order to reach goals in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

The more self-awareness you gain about your work strengths the more you find ways to work smarter, not harder and finally achieve the work /life balance you desire.

She Means Business Events

Tonic Skincare Review

A while ago I was sent a range of skincare products to try out, if you’ve read some of my previous beauty posts, you’ll know how I have struggled with my skin and the up’s and down’s (mostly downs) I’ve gone through with trying to make it better. When I was asked if I would like to try these products I said I would be happy to try them out because I am open to trying anything (well mostly anything).

I’ve been using these products for a couple of months now and I think it’s fair to say that I have been enjoying them and the results they have given my skin. So the products I am talking about are called Tonic, the range includes facial cleansers, exfoliants, moisturisers, night creams, eye creams, serums and more. With a name like Tonic, they are bound to be filled with some ‘good for you’ ingredients right? Yes! They sure are, some of their ingredients include avocado oil, bentonite, macadamia nut oil, witch hazel extract, rosehip oil, lactic acid, ribose and more. Also, all of their ingredients are certified organic and all products are made in Australia.

Since I’ve been using these products I have noticed a significant decrease in the amount of breakouts I get, they have honestly reduced to next to nothing, which is so amazing to me, I actually can’t believe it! In terms of using them on a daily basis, they are easy to use and apply, I use the facial cleanser and moisturiser every day and the exfoliant every couple days, I find the exfoliator quite rough so I mix a little in with the cleanser and then it feels comfortable on my skin. The only downfall for me is that the pump on my moisturiser feel apart, but it’s still useable and if the only problems with a product is the packaging, then it’s still a winner.

I highly recommend that you check out some products from Tonic, if you want to try them out first before buying, Essential Beauty offer facials where they use the Tonic products, so it’s a great opportunity to try the products plus have a nice pamper sesh!

Tonic Skincare

Essential Beauty

Conscious Luxury Beauty Box

I was recently sent this beautiful box filled with some amazing treats, which I just have to share with you all, and I get to literally share them with you because they have given me one to give-away 

(See @thegraciouslife in Instrgram for details).

So firstly what is the box about, well it’s according to Sin-Care “an exclusive, limited edition, Beauty Box. This box brings you only the best of our favourite brands, delivering not only on luxury but also ticking the boxes for being body, mind and soul conscious. Beautifully packaged and in a gorgeous box delivered right to your front door. What makes this box so unique is that it features only full sized products, not a mini or a sample in sight! Hallelujah!

We have selected brands such as, Vegan Luxury a brand for not just our Bunny loving friends, their makeup brushes are absolutely divine and in this box you get 5 of them! They also give you 4 full sized nail polishes and a top coat. The Nail polishes are a 5 free* product, effective and better for us!

One of the most exciting parts of this box is brought to you by Sin-Care. Now the lovely people at Sin-Care’s Headquarters are giving you a personal choice of 1 out of 8 Sin-Care Serums. These gorgeous serums come in an Italian glass bottle that can be recycled when you’re finished. What is unique about the serum is it is targeted at treating our lifestyle aging factors, such as sun, sleep deprivation (try not and yawn at just the thought of all the missed sleep over the years .. eek) smoking, pollution. Have a look at the full selection. Added to this they are also adding in a gorgeous white waffle spa robe with a matching set of waffle slippers (Sin-Care and Conscious Luxury).”

If you like the sound of that feel free to enter the giveaway I’m running on The Gracious Life Instagram and Facebook, otherwise I have a discount code for you so you can get 10% off! Just enter in the code ‘ConsciousBeauty’ when checking out. 

How to order:

1. Visit www.sincare.com.au and select SHOP

2. select you Sin-Care Serum

3. Select your Sin-Care Spa Waffle Robe size (M or XL)

4. Checkout using discount code ‘ConsciousBeauty’

Sin-Care

Inside the Media Preview of Adelaide’s Newest Lush Store

I recently got to live the Lush life for one evening at the relaunch of the new Lush store in Rundle Mall…which I must mention is the biggest Lush store in Australia!

So, what do you ask is ‘the Lush life’? Well just imagine walking into a world filled with delicious scents, luxurious balms, scrubs, bars and bombs, smoothie making push-bikes and Lushy cocktails. Yes this was all apart of the Lush world at the media preview and grand opening.
I spent sometime walking around the store taking in the sights, smells, and textures and it made me think about how we experience the moment that we are in at any one time. Within my work as a counsellor I do a lot around mindfulness and being aware of thoughts, actions and your surroundings. Creating this sense of awareness can start from having a strong awareness of your body and the sensations we feel according to the different emotions we feel.
So how does Lush fit in with this concept,  well have you ever tried to be mindful? It’s not that easy to stay completely focused in any given moment but having something to motivate us to practice could help, so why not pick up a Lush massage bar or bath bomb and experience your moment for what it is while using this product. How much easier would it be to pay attention to your moment if you have the smells and lushness of any Lush product flooding through your mind….I don’t know about you but I feel relaxed just thinking about it!
Here are some pics and video of the Lush life…

A Fearless High Tea in Aid of Cystic Fibrosis

“Cure4CF Foundation is taking action to create a future free of the devastating effects of cystic fibrosis for people living with the disease and their families. We believe that ‘Now is the time to cure CF’ and that together, through an investment in medical research, this is a goal that can be achieved.” (Cure4CF)

Until a few weeks ago I had no idea what cystic fibrosis was or the devastating effects it has on so many of it’s sufferers. On the 30th of October I attended a high tea at the Intercontinental Adelaide, which was in aid of the Cure4CF Foundation, the event was organised by Emmah Evans (Daughter, Sister, Friend, Wife, Mother and CF sufferer). Emmah shared her story with us and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. My interpretation of Emmah’s story is that no matter what label she has, she lives her life with passion and a mission, she’s a fighter and an advocate, and one who will never give up on getting her word out there and making things happen, in order to save lives, including that of her own. 

For those of you who haven’t heard of CF or don’t know what it is (like myself), here is some information about it; “CF primarily affects the lungs and digestive system, CF suffers have a defective gene and this is what causes the body to produce thick and sticky mucus which makes it harder for CF sufferers to breath as the mucus blocks the lungs – intensive daily treatment is required just to maintain good airways, when a cold occurs in someone with CF this can be life threatening. Because the mucus damages the pancreas system, it stops the natural enzyme’s system working, it is common for CF sufferers to require pancreatic enzymes to assist with the break down of foods to absorb them.” (Emmah Evans)

Emmah is 28 years old and those diagnosed with CF have an average life expectancy of 37 years. But with research trials on the horizon there is hope for a cure for CF, with the help of generous people and strong advocates like Emmah, it is possible to get closer to a cure! If you would like to help out in some way click here.

Cure4CF Foundation

Joy of India Menu Launch

I was recently invited to a menu launch at an Indian restaurant called Joy of India and boy was it joyful; the food, the company and the great service just made my night!

Before I get onto the food, I have to share something funny. My cultural background is Sri Lankan but people mostly assume I’m Indian and a lot of people think India and Sri Lanka have the same food (like the assumption made by Roxy on last weeks episode of First Dates!!!) but actually they are two different countries with different types of cuisines.
Anyway, now to the food…a group of us ordered a range of vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes to share along with garlic and cheese naan and steamed rice. I have to say ordering different dishes and sharing is the way to go at an Indian restaurant. For our entrée we shared a tasting platter of non-vegetarian delights, including tandoori chicken and fish and lamb koftas. The chicken and fish were so tender, they just melt in your mouth.  This was my favourite dish of the night by far. I have to say all the dishes were tasty as well as the drink of choice; Mango Lassi (a must have at any Indian restaurant).
If your unsure of what to order at an Indian restaurant, here is the list of dishes we ordered:
Garlic and cheese naan
Steamed rice
Mixed non veg platter
Butter chicken
Prawn jalfrezi
Dhal maharani
Vegetable korma
Palak paneer
Aloo gobhi muttar
Cucumber raita
So if you’re not salivating already here are some photos…..

 Joy of India