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Sunday the last day of the weekend where we are packing everything into family time at this time of year is full of skiing. It's usually the day where I am feeling tired and buzzing from lot's of memories, but also wanting to wind down a bit with the Monday start just one sleep away. A favourite which takes the maximum of 30 minutes to pull together when we get back is a rainbow of vegetables, and dips.
Whizz in the blender: Tahini 1 Tbsp, garlic 1 bulb, Raspberry Honey 1/2 Tsp (from a family friend), Lemon Juice 2 Tbsp, Maldon Salt 1/2 Pinches, Water (until the right consistency).
Courgette and Tahini Dip
Courgette x 2 griddle panned, 2 Tbsp Tahini, 3/4 bulbs of Garlic, Tub of Coconut Yoghurt, Bunch of Fresh Mint
Grated Raw Carrots - Yellow (sometimes I add Nigella seeds), Grated beetroots (with Lemon and flat leaf Parsley.
Sweet Potato, Potatoes, Courgettes
Recently there was a competition to come up with innovative ideas for healthy living. Whilst apps like fitbit, and Nike have aided the monitoring of exercise (I love mine). I struggled to think of something ground breaking. There was not a shortage of ideas as a: Green Juice Drinking, Working Paleo, exercising 5 times a week, sleeping 8 hours a night Mum. It was more that to achieve this it was less gadgets, and more breaking down some major barriers (2 to be precise):
- Input – ‘fuel’ food regulated by ourselves and society
Even if we come up with commercially made new healthy products the market already has these on offer. There are even services that provide them to those that are too busy to do it themselves. Many of us know what is good for us, but there are two things that need to change our relationship with food and the amount of s*** food promoted in society.
The mental and psychological aspects of food need to be tackled so we have a positive relationship with food. The relationship needs to be that ‘food’ is not an over dependency i.e. we do not over eat to compensate for others areas, or even an inadequacy, i.e. we do not deny ourselves food to control a physical or mental state. It is something that we can approach with balance because it nourishes us, and strengthens our health mental and physical. We know when we are full, and we know what our body needs.
A lot of ‘food’ for sale is not food. To change that we need to address what is on offer in supermarkets and return to the basics. The commercialisation of food needs to be addressed so intensive commercial farming, over processing of food to make substances that ultimately have lead to health pressures in our society due to too much sugar and gluten in our diet. The ground-breaking idea here would be that governments curtail what we can have as food. How much sugar can be added to food, and how far processed food can be. This may be controversial but the taxing of foods that are processed to provide natural sate foods cheaper to people would have a radical effect on the health of a nation. If vegetables and fruit were cheaper to buy then it could start to impact behaviours and diets.
- Output - ‘energy’ our activity designed into your life by ourselves and employers
I am a fan of apps where we can monitor health, however, I have to say that I no longer use regularly because I designed my life so that I could keep pace with the level of activity possible for a working mother of 2.
In some respects I would say that I am lucky, but it should not be that way. Employers and governments need to give people time for health. Years ago work was more manual so the output of activity that kept the body healthy was more plausible. Life today has a different design dependent on which country you live a 37.5, 40 or even 50 working hour week behind a desk can also go hand in hand with a 2 hour total commute. This means that a person’s ability to have a certain level of activity in their life is curtailed by the demands of modern day working life, and still needing to spend time with their life. This can be something that a person values enough to push for, so my journey has been that I put my life, and health first and it is part of what I demand from any employment relationship.
Ground breaking here but why not challenge our hours and way of working. We should be measured and paid on the output, rather than presence at the desk from 9 to 5. As painful as it may be for employers people have got more effective at ways of working in the office, virtually or both. However, time based pay has a challenge in that: do we really get more effective employees? To work on a basis of output requires trust and value of the output more than what can easily be monitored; a person sitting at their desk.
If workers and employers want to really promote health, the working contract needs to be revised and looked at from a different perspective. Not time but quality of the value that they add through their outputs. This will have it’s challenges in fairness of pay, equity and existing practices but would enable employees to be more engaged, productive, motivated and healthy.
Many of the organisations I have worked for really have limited space for the employee to be active and healthy despite the employee spending the majority of their time there. In one of my previous employers, they had 8 smoking rooms, but not one free space where a person could exercise.
Not so radical but what would make a difference is part of the employee offering is healthy food, and space where people can take a break and do multiple forms of exercise as we are all different: yoga, running, cycling and rowing for example. This should not just be an offering to the brands inundated with applicants like Google, but an employment offering from mainstream employers in the 21st Century. In this instance I choose to run outside as it was better than no activity but the option of 8 rooms that literally kill you and no space to make you healthy still makes me laugh.
This is a metaphor for how we are tackling health and lifestyle in the 21st Century. We are fixated on the superficial BS, rather than addressing what we ourselves, and policy makers: governments and employers can do to permanently enable and change behaviours.
A lot of our tweets, FB messages and blogs have been about making time. We often blog about how to make time, and why, but today I thought I would share my personal story of what I make time for and why; what’s important to me. Family
- My family. First and foremost I make time for my family to show them love, give them time to laugh, play and space to grow and explore. The time with the children involves their favourite activities of painiting, reading, playing outside, puzzles and lego. The time with my husband gives us time to share our experiences and grow together. The time with my parents and sister ground, norish and centre me.
- Yoga is so important to me it is what gives me focus, energy: spiritually, mentally and physically. Without the yoga I may not be able to give time to the things that are important to me. I practice at least 5 times a week.
Making a Difference
- Making a difference to Children. 3 years ago I started my doctorate and as part of that I researched into childhood development. The pro bono work that I do invests in childhood development for future generations. Today I am giving a lesson in a school, and as part of our 3 year strategy we will :
- Give ‘children’ a structure to learn how to relate to themselves and others in order to realize their full potential.
- Help, support and educate parents in their role to develop children in order to have positive parental attachment.
- Connect parents, children and mentors in order to increase the impact of children’s full potential on society.
- Developing my brain. 3 years ago when I talked to my husband over dinner about doing a Doctorate he joked with me, “you can never stop learning can you”. My instant thought was… that’s not a bad thing! He supported me and in truth I always want to learn something new, whether it is advancing in my yoga practice or teaching, or creating a new knowledge and understanding in my field of expertise. I apply this in my work and my pro-bono projects.
- My friends are the final part of what I make time for. My Mum said I would be lucky if I could count my friends on one hand, and I am. I fly to see them for birthdays, events and we Skype regularly. We are an integral part of each other’s life. As we have all become more global the virtual nature of our relationships has stood the test of time, and a yearly girly holiday helps.
Making the most of the time I have is important which is why I am taking that one step further….watch that space. What ever you are passionate about making time for I hope that we support you.
We are blessed enough to be able to afford help, but we also live no where near support as we have both moved away from the countries that we were born in. Accepting that it’s okay to have help at home was an internal battle, as I was so used to doing everything myself. However, now I couldn’t do half of what I do without the support of my extended family in Switzerland and that is our au pair. When we first got an au pair it went terribly wrong and we learnt a lot. The learnings we have is what I wanted to share:
· Go via an agency. Going via an agency cost more but it meant all the paperwork was supported, and certificates, criminal record and background checks · Interview with real life situations. In the interview we asked what would you do when you wake up the kids in the morning to go to school, and they do not want to go? One hits you because they still do not want to go. This seems extreme and our kids are actually well behaved but it happened once. It surprising the amount of people that said I will be able to make them come, but could not explain how, all to often people under estimate toddlers. It shows their lack of experience. · What would you do if you had the kids for an afternoon? Again this shows their experience. One girl told us she would play basketball with them. Our kids were 1 and 3, I explored this with her and she had no experience with younger children. The most important thing for me was to have someone who loved being with younger children, as the happiness of my kids was paramount. · Check the motivation and flexibility of the person, but be open and transparent on expectations. Why do you want to be an au pair, babysitter or nanny? We gave an overview of a typical week, and what our expectations were. We could see the attitude and motivation of the person, for many people it was just the money and we knew that would not work out. Being and au-pair is not easy and the money is not high.
· Check the experience you want. What experience do you have that is applicable? The agency that we use employ qualified nurses and teachers form the Philippines. Next to the happiness of my kids is their safety and our kids benefit from having a qualified nurse which puts my mind at ease.
· Look after your au-pair and they will look after you. Our au-pair is part of our family and as such she looks after us as a family.
Facebook sees 4.5 billion likes per day http://wp.me/p1vfs3-2GK (via @craigpsmith) #SMStat when is the last time you smiled on the way to work, smiled and said hi to someone.
Next week there are 3 possible events to attend which unfortunately all run in the evening. The aim of these events is to improve female entrepreneurship. I will attend 1. As a female entrepreneur in Switzerland somehow the barriers to success are not being recognised before building the solutions.
I agree that networking, access to expertise and funding are a positive step, but to really make a step change we need to understand a percentage of what females need to navigate, and why there are less female entrepreneurs here. My company launches later this year, both proof of concept and funding have been achieved. As an entrepreneur you find a way to make it happen, with every barrier you find a solution; it is a can do attitude. That said I want to lay on the table what I have found as a female entrepreneur in Switzerland:
- The investor audience are predominantly men. Walking into a room of predominantly white middle aged men, who have great difficulty putting themselves in the shoes of a concept that is a problem for ‘women’ is tough. Even if they have a wife, the ability to comprehend issues is myopic because Switzerland is a very conservative country with women only receiving the vote in 1970! Many women do not work or only work part time because of inadequate child care with Switzerland only investing 0.2% GDP in child care, compared to countries like Denmark who invest 10%.
- That gives rise to a second issue. For those women who have families events are organised at times which are not always possible. For those outside Switzerland who think just get childcare to put it into perspective. Child care alone costs me 72,000 CHF a year and getting a babysitter is not easy here. There barriers to solutions I outlined in a previous blog.
- The third issue is that out of the box thinking can actually be negative; yes really! My mentor who sits on several panels conceded this is a great idea, but for the Swiss this would be too much. This is how it should be done and we don’t have enough great ideas and implementation plans like this. What struck me is that as an entrepreneur, the current Swiss structure of funding and support puts limitations on what is funded or supported. The ideas and approach are impacted by a person’s thinking, which is shaped by gender and background growing up outside of Switzerland. Of course you tailor your message, but to get more success the diversity of panels needs to be addressed.
I still have great optimism for the barrage of initiatives for females, and possible investment. I just hope that the good intentions recognise and adjust some solutions.
- A mixture of evening and breakfast sessions.
- More diverse panels.
- Strong mentorship schemes because for me that has been the difference. I managed to find someone with the right experience to be my sparring partner.
I've been eating clean for over a year now and what surprises me is the amount of people that ask me for recipes. Here are my top 5 go to's in addition to me just using my own head for inspiration, which makes up recipes all the time.
1. Danielle Walkers 'Against All Grains' changed my take on clean living with the possibility to enjoy baking with my kids, and still be able to eat it and the most amazing bread http://againstallgrain.com as well as my breakfast with banana and nut porridge, and home made granola.
2. Ottelenghi is not strictly an eating clean chef, but so many of his recipes fit the mould. https://www.ottolenghi.co.uk the flavours in his food, and use of spices means that you do not need the sugar.
3. Madeleine Shaw has such a balanced attitude to food, and health she is a girl after my own heart http://madeleineshaw.com
4. Luke and Scott Clean Living has super tasty and more innovative breakfasts and savoury dishes http://lukeandscott.com/about/
5. The Green Kitchen again not strictly Paleo but so many healthy plant based recipes and a great variation on cauliflower pizza. http://www.greenkitchenstories.com my own variation that I made up in my head sweet potato pizza is also good.
In the last 3 weeks my family has been affected by two bouts of chicken pox. The first it was possible to base myself from home. The second it was not, so thankfully my sister flew over to help. That help led me to this article on extended families.
WHATIFPA is about how to make people's lives more effective giving them more time in their day to be a healthier and happier you. In the journey to get there it is interesting to look at different cultural mindsets that could make the ‘to do’s’ in life easier.
The Extended Family Trends
The extended help of a family member is a feature in many cultures: Asia, Africa, Europe and the US. In the US, extended families have been increasing because of different socio-economic pressures. As of 2008, a record 49 million Americans, or 16.1% of the total U.S. population, lived in a family household that contained at least two adult generations or a grandparent and at least one other generation, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data. This is a trend reversal from the post war era where the impetus was to get out of the family home. The American public in 1940 had a quarter of the population in one abode; by 1980, this changed to 12%. Of the 49 million Americans living in a multi-generational family household, 47% live in a household made up of two adult generations of the same family (with the youngest adult at least 25 years of age); another 47% live in a household with three or more generations of family members; and 6% are in a “skipped” generation household made up of a grandparent and grandchild, but no parent. Factors for these changes include: economy, median age of marriage, immigration, social changes shaped by the baby boom. The social and economic ties appear to have become more prevalent and driven the rise of the extended family.
So what are the Financial and Social Ties?
Recently the US has seen an increase of extended families in order to alleviate increased financial pressure due to the recession. In 2009 more than 1:5 households were multi-generational with the return migration of 25-34 years olds (Pew Research).
This financial reasoning is not new. “Without public debate or fanfare, large numbers of Americans enacted their own anti-poverty program in the depths of the Great Recession: They moved in with relatives. This helped fuel the largest increase in the number of Americans living in multi-generational households in modern history,” say Rakesh Kochhar and D’Vera Cohn, authors of ‘Fighting Poverty in a Bad Economy Americans Move in with Relatives.’ In other cultures: Hopi Indians of North America, Trobriand Islanders off eastern New Guinea, some tribes in Central Africa there is the matrilineal system where inheritance is passed on through the mothers lineage. This provides a society where women have a structure for property and politics. In parts of Nigeria there is the polygynous family system where families including many wives live as one unit or compound. In these cultures there are rules that govern the sharing of resources and food. There is a group think where every individual is seen to benefit the group, and the sum is greater than its parts. The saying 1 +1 = 3.
Within that group Pew Research identified parents of young children — stressed, over-extended and sleep-deprived parents who may have confused children and resistant spouses in tow.
Although extended families can bring balance, it is not without its challenges the Washington Post interviewed extended families who impacted by the loss of personal space. Coping mechanisms included: “Get up and out in the a.m. to feel productive and a ‘part of the world.’ Join a job search group, exercise with people (not just solo runs) and use evening private time to enforce some family autonomy. These tips worked for me, I stayed fit and got extra rest as a benefit. It helped, it really helped” Washington Post 2011.
Social Development for Adults and Children
Some of the benefits are the shared labour, socialization of children, and support for the elderly. At one point it was believed that extended family structures were the barrier to economic growth. The social side was examined from a western perspective that women were likely to marry earlier, and have more children which hindered social modernization. However, now we see the reverse trend in the West to overcome social and economic challenges (Castillo, Wiesblat, and Villeral 1968). The policies, politics and the education system in the West have influenced individualism over collectivism. If you refer to Hofstede’s 1984 work on cultural differences and the recent work in the GLOBE study across 62 countries, this collectivism versus individualism is a key distinction between the east and west. In the UK during the Thatcher years the policies drove a more individualistic attitude. These may have driven the value changes in direct opposition to extended family life since they emphasize individualism over collectivism (Parsons and Bales 1955). Despite this view extended family households remained prominent in Taiwan (Stokes; Leclere; and Yeu 1987), Japan (Morgan and Kiyosi 1983), India (Ram and Wong 1994), China (Tsui 1989), In Africa, studies have shown a positive impact on modernization (Silverstein 1984). In the West we see a reverse trend that realizes the benefits under the social and economic conditions that we face. Research in the US also proposes the benefits on younger relative’s education attendance and academic achievements Department of Economics Working Paper 2006 and Jaeger, Mads Meier 2013. Social utility is seen as a benefit, because the individuals have an opportunity to gain multiple perspectives from different generations that give an insight of alternative choice Manski (2004).
Learning from Experience
Whilst my family lives in a different country too our parents and siblings, whenever Grandma (of glamma as she likes to be called), Papa or Aunty and Uncle are around I cannot deny the huge leaps forward the children take, and the social benefits felt in the family. This probe into a possible alternative life due to an episode of the chicken pox, perhaps provides a possible solution to some that would consider living as an extended family.
Castillo, g. t.; wiesblat, a. m.; and villareal, f. r. (1968)."the concept of the nuclear and extended family." international journal of comparative sociology 9:1–40.
DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS WORKING PAPER 2006 http://ase.tufts.edu/econ/papers/200610.pdf
Hofstede, G. (1984). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Jaeger, Mads Meier (2013) Feb 6. The Extended Family and Children's Educational Success American Sociological Review 77(6): 903-922
Manski, Charles. 2004. “Social Learning from Private Experiences: The Dynamics of the Selection Problem.” Review of Economic Studies 71: 443-458.
Morgan, S. P., and Hirosima, K. (1983). "The Persistence of Extended Family Residence in Japan: Anachronism or Alternative Strategy?" American Sociological Review 48:269–281.
Parsons, T. and Bales, R. F. (1955). Family Socialization and Interaction Process. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
Pew Research Report The Return of the Multi-Generational Family
Pew Research report ‘Fighting Poverty in a Bad Economy Americans Move in with Relatives http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/10/03/fighting-poverty-in-a-bad-economy-americans-move-in-with-relatives/" t "_blank
Ram, M., and Wong, R. (1994). "Covariates of Household Extension in Rural India: Change Over Time." Journal of Marriage and the Family 56:853–864.
Robert J. House (Editor), Paul J. (John) Hanges (Editor), Mansour Javidan (Editor), Peter W. Dorfman (Editor), Vipin Gupta (Editor). Culture, leadership, and organizations: the GLOBE study of 62 societies (1st ed.). SAGE Publications. 29 April 2004. ISBN 978-0-7619-2401-2
Silverstein, S. B. (1984). "Igbo Kinship and Modern Entrepreneurial Organization: The Transportation
Stokes, C. S.; LeClere, F. B.; and Yeu, S. H. (1987). "Household Extension and Reproductive Behavior in Taiwan." Journal of Biosocial Science 19:273–282.
Tsui, M. (1989). "Changes in Chinese Urban Family Structure." Journal of Marriage and the Family 51:737–747.
The Washington Post (Oct. 4th 2011) . Pew Research Center says more extended families living together to survive financial gloom
I was one of those kids in school who got picked mid-way through or last to play on a team. I played rugby, netball, cricket and basketball. It was not that I did not like sports, but it was the fact I was a girl who had assets well beyond her years. So much so I had to have a breast reduction at 18.
In my early 20’s I fell in love with spinning. I could infinitely peddle to the beat and get to Mars is I wanted. I even trained to do a 470km run and cycle to raise money for the Princes Trust. I felt so focused running. Then S*** happened literally! I came down with Shigella, which before you start googling is a form of Dysentery. 9 days into agonizing pain and my doctor not wanting to shell out antibiotics they did further blood tests and then the strongest dose of antibiotics knocked me flat. I had no energy, my muscular strength went and I had to build it up again.
In my transition period I started Ashtanga yoga. I loved it. At that time of my life I was still deluded that career meant success. So I spent my time as a Management Consultant working on bids until 4am in the morning, living out of a suit case, travelling, accumulating air miles and not knowing where I was going to be on a Monday. To be fair it was exciting and I made the most amazing friends, and worked with really talented people that satisfied my intellectual needs.
I then went independent but relocated to Zurich. At that point I started to challenge what success really was. I was earning lots of money, great friends, had a great serviced apartment, property and a jet set life style and I was still in my 20’s. The truth was on a Sunday I would be alone in that apartment and working; but for what.
In my second transition period a colleague at work asked me to go to a Bikram Yoga class. I then practiced Bikram, but something inside of me changed. I decided to not fly back home every weekend (because I had great friends and family), but to try and integrate into life in Zurich. I decided to focus on me. Each day I went into the studio I focused on me. It wasn’t about those around me, my success was not measured by what others were doing. It was about my practice. Some days my body was different, and I could not go as far and some days my body had a new alignment having a deeper and more advanced practice. I had gone from the competition being external, to internal. I was figuring out what connected me, how could I improve with discipline and focus and this competition was tougher than winning a netball match. It also had life changing implications. In parallel I started and captained the netball team making great friends, but it took me away from what was my true passion.
Life changing self-competition made me focused on everything that connects me. I started to bring and define success for me: my amazing husband (I was single at 30), 2 beautiful children, teach and practice yoga, challenge my mind in a fulfilling and balanced role and education, a healthy life style as my appetite and food tastes changed, as well as launch my start up. I broke away from Bikram yoga because of the significant number of alleged rapes. I continue to practice Ashtanga and Hatha.
There is a misconception that because yoga is not directly competitive it doesn’t add any value. I have had these comments from previous team mates, and even friends. I never try to force my thinking on them. Slowly over the years others have started to practice and you can see the change. What I wanted to share was the clarity of perception I have now. When I thought I was being competitive running, and playing netball it was a distraction. The hardest thing was to constantly improve when the only tool is your own body. That body can change, and believe me it did after each child. I had to go back to zero again which is very humbling, and start again. I don’t get distracted with what others are doing and my life is whole.
6 activities that stimulate your brain
There is a part of us that needs are brain to be stimulated for balance; our mental requirement. So what can we do to achieve more balance mentally:
- A job that you love
- Friends and a partner who get you to think in stimulating conversation. Those nights where you’ve thought the conversation was so interesting; there were different points of view and articulate communication.
- Games. My husband plays computer games: civilisation and I still love playing scrabble or Monopoly. You can improve your brain with strategic computer games, or mind game training like Dr Kawashima’s Brain training: http://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-DS/Dr-Kawashima-s-Brain-Training-How-Old-is-Your-Brain--270627.html Lumosit, http://www.lumosity.com/landing_pages/412?gclid=CL_Og7Sao7sCFcVX3godkgIA7A or Carol Vordemans’ book with 101 techniques http://www.amazon.com/Super-Brain-Easy-Ways-Agile/dp/B001G8WKDA.
- Reading. The discovery of new literature can provide mental stimulation.
- Studying. Learning a new language, to play a new instrument, a new subject or simply deepen the understanding of your field stimulates your mind and gives you a way to realise potential.
- Projects. Creating projects for yourself that can stimulate your brain, for example, fictional trading accounts. My husband entered a fictional trading competition and ended coming second. The sense of excitement he had was amazing in making decisions and seeing his progress. Other projects friends have undertaken have been to write a book, although I have been informed this is a painful process! To contribute to social projects or investigate the family history.
Inspirational. One of my role models speaking about my earliest role model Tata Madiba “Like Dr King he gave people a voice and hope to racial injustice. "...”We are all bound in ways that are invisible to the eye. We achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves, and caring about those around us.”
Madiba “freed not just the prisoner but the jailer as well”. He confronted “the past with inclusion, generosity and truth.”
Obama’s challenge “we can’t allow our progress to cloud the fact that our work is not yet done.”
Any great and inspiring leader or organisation that ever existed set out to do something completely unrealistic - Simon Sinek