Monthly Archives: September 2017

How to forge connections with others

It can be pretty intimidating to try to find a way to bond with other people, whether it is connecting socially, making a great first impression, or simply wanting to build stronger connections for your career.

However, when you show that you genuinely care about the person you’re talking to, work on making people feel comfortable, or really listening to them, you’ll find that you are already halfway there.

Here’s a few titles that we’ve been flicking through recently that will help you forge connections with others…


The Social Skills Guidebook by Chris MacLeod

You think your social life could be better. You’ve felt shy as long as you can remember. Your conversations have more awkward moments than you’d like. Maybe you don’t need a ton of friends, but you’d like to have some people to hang out with on occasion. You want to make changes, but you don’t know where to start. Lots of people have been in your shoes, so you’re hardly a lost cause, and it’s never too late to turn things around. The Social Skills Guidebook gives you insights into your interpersonal struggles and behaviours, and offers hands on advice for developing and improving your people skills.



Frientimacy by Shasta Nelson

With the constant connectivity of today’s world, it s never been easier to meet people and make new friends but it’s never been harder to form meaningful friendships. In Frientimacy, award-winning speaker Shasta Nelson shows how anyone can form stronger, more meaningful friendships, marked by a level of trust she calls frientimacy. Shasta explores the most common complaints and conflicts facing female friendships today, and lays out strategies for overcoming these pitfalls to create deeper, supportive relationships that last for the long term. In Frientimacy, readers are taught to reject the impulse to pull away from friendships that aren’t instantly and constantly gratifying. With a warm, engaging, and inspiring voice, Nelson shows how friendships built on dedication and commitment can lead to enriched relationships, stronger and more meaningful ties, and an overall increase in mental health. Frientimacy is more than just a call for deeper connection between friends; it’s a blueprint for turning simple friendships into true bonds and for the meaningful and satisfying relationships that come with them.


How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes

What is that magic quality that makes some people instantly loved and respected? Everyone wants to be their friend (or, if single, their lover!) In business, they rise swiftly to the top of the corporate ladder. What is their “Midas touch?”. What it boils down to is a more skilful way of dealing with people. Lowndes has spent her career teaching people how to communicate for success and offers 92 easy and effective sure-fire success techniques – from first meeting all the way up to sophisticated techniques used by the big winners in life.





The Lost Art of Listening by Michael Nichols

One person talks; the other listens. It’s so basic that we take it for granted. Unfortunately, most of us think of ourselves as better listeners than we actually are. Why do we so often fail to connect when speaking with family members, romantic partners, colleagues, or friends? How do emotional reactions get in the way of real communication? This thoughtful, witty, and empathic book has already helped over 100,000 readers break through conflicts and transform their personal and professional relationships. Experienced therapist Mike Nichols provides vivid examples, easy to learn techniques, and practical exercises for becoming a better listener and making yourself heard and understood, even in difficult situations.



Click: The Power of Instant Connections by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

In a book that combines psychology and sociology with an insightful understanding of human interactions, Ori and Rom Brafman have written a compelling narrative that helps us to understand the magic behind those moments when we form an incredible connection with other people, or which cause us to become fully engaged in whatever we are doing. Drawing from recent research in psychology and sociology Click takes us on a roller coaster journey of discovery into those moments in our lives when we are ‘in the zone’ when the rest of the world drops away and everything seems to fall into place.




Books That Inspire Your Inner Explorer

The weather is getting warmer now that it is spring here in Australia, and it’s time to start planning our summer vacations…or next winter’s if you like running away from the cool weather…

Here’s a few titles that are inspiring us to pack a suitcase and start exploring…

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

It’s an oldie but a goodie, and has inspired many of us to look at our life experiences through a new lens.

Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different and far more satisfying than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognising opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.





The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

My Dad put me onto Bill Bryson when I was travelling around Europe and while I was a bit hesitant at first, I laughed out loud so hard that everyone on the boat to Naxos turned around…trust me, it’s worth dipping your toe into a previously considered ‘something-for-Dad-author’.

Twenty years ago, Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to celebrate the green and kindly island that had become his adopted country. The hilarious book that resulted, Notes from a Small Island, was taken to the nation’s heart and became the bestselling travel book ever, and was also voted in a BBC poll the book that best represents Britain. Now, to mark the twentieth anniversary of that modern classic, Bryson makes a brand-new journey round Britain to see what has changed. Following (but not too closely) a route he dubs the Bryson Line, from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath, by way of places that many people never get to at all, Bryson sets out to rediscover the wondrously beautiful, magnificently eccentric, endearingly unique country that he thought he knew but doesn’t altogether recognise any more. Once again, with his matchless homing instinct for the funniest and quirkiest, his unerring eye for the idiotic, the endearing, the ridiculous and the scandalous, Bryson gives us an acute and perceptive insight into all that is best and worst about Britain today.


The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman

Rachel Friedman has always been the consummate good girl who does well in school and plays it safe, so the college grad surprises no one more than herself when, on a whim (and in an effort to escape impending life decisions), she buys a ticket to Ireland, a place she has never visited. There she forms an unlikely bond with a free-spirited Australian girl, a born adventurer who spurs Rachel on to a yearlong odyssey that takes her to three continents, fills her life with newfound friends, and gives birth to a previously unrealised passion for adventure. As her journey takes her to Australia and South America, Rachel discovers and embraces her love of travel and unlocks more truths about herself than she ever realised she was seeking. Along the way, the erstwhile good girl finally learns to do something she’s never done before: simply live for the moment.


Wallpaper* City Guide – New York by The Editors of Wallpaper*

Wallpaper City Guides not only suggest where to stay, eat, and drink, but what the tourist passionate about design might want to see, whether he/she has a week or 24 hours in the city. Featured are up and coming areas, landmark buildings in an ‘Architour’, design centres, and the best shops to buy items unique to that city. Wallpaper City Guides present travellers with a fast-track ticket to the chosen location. The edited guides offer the best, most exciting, and the most beautiful of that particular city.  As well as looking beautiful, the guides are expertly designed with function as a priority, and have tabbed sections so that readers can easily find the information they are looking for. The guides include rate and currency information, maps and a colour-coding system to help you navigate the different parts of the city. They are the ultimate combination of form and function.

Actually they have a whole host of city guides…come and check them out here.


The Riviera Set by Mary S. Lovell

This is the story of the group of people who lived, partied, bed-hopped and politicked at the Chateau de l’Horizon near Cannes, over the course of forty years from the time when Coco Chanel made southern French tans fashionable in the twenties to the death of the playboy Prince Aly Khan in 1960. At the heart of this was the amazing Maxine Elliott, the daughter of a fisherman from Connecticut, who built the beautiful art deco Chateau and brought together the likes of Noel Coward, the Aga Khan, the Windsors and two very saucy courtesans, Doris Castlerosse and Daisy Fellowes, who set out to be dangerous distractions to Winston Churchill as he worked on his journalism and biographies during his ‘wilderness years’ in the thirties. After the War the story continued as the Chateau changed hands and Prince Aly Khan used it to entertain the Hollywood set, as well as launch his seduction of and eventual marriage to Rita Hayworth. Mary Lovell tells her story of high society behaviour with tremendous brio and relish.


Books to help you get your act together

Last week we offered some ideas on how to spring clean and declutter your belongings; this week we turn inward to look at how we can declutter our minds.  Do you ever feel exhausted just thinking about change?
It’s easy to procrastinate when we feel anxious about the amount of disruption and effort we’ll need to make lasting change. Decluttering our minds means letting go of these preconceived ideas and anxieties, which can then help us welcome in fresh thinking and opportunities.  These authors are here to guide you towards greater clarity, focus and calm:


Declutter Your Mind by S J Scott and Barrie Davenport

Do you feel overwhelmed easily? As if your mind is spinning from too many thoughts?  Do you find it hard to get motivated? Or feel there is too much negativity around you? If you answered YES to any of these then you may be experiencing mind clutter.  Mind clutter gives rise to anxiety, stress and frustrations – issues that can only be solved by changing mindsets and behaviours. S J Scott and Barrie Davenport show how to use mindfulness techniques to declutter our thoughts, obligations, relationships and surroundings.  Declutter Your Mind is concise and readable, packed with ideas and advice.



Unstuffed: Declutter your Home, Mind and Soul by Ruth Soukup

Unstuffed helps with spring-cleaning of both our physical and mental spaces. Following Ruth Soukup’s bestseller Living Well, Spending Less, Unstuffed continues to help us reduce those cravings for more of everything – possessions, relationships, responsibilities. She encourages us to think deeply, identify our most important values and prioritise accordingly, shedding unimportant stuff in the process. She also advises on how to deal with the guilt associated with letting go! For those interested in faith and spirituality, there is also a unique section on decluttering your spirit. Unstuffed comes with an app that offers further tips and support on this decluttering journey.


The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight

Sarah Knight penned this irreverent but heartfelt anti-self help guide when she realised her perfectionist “good girl” tendencies were the cause of her constant stress and anxiety. So she learned to give fewer f**ks – to feel OK about not being perfect, to say yes only to things she cared about. The result is letting go of everything except the things that actually matter.  With a decluttered mind and fresh focus, Sarah Knight then takes us to the next level in Get Your Sh!t Together, which shows how to “win at life” – start prioritising and doing the things you actually want to do, while still managing all the sh*t you have to do.


Let it Out: a Journey through Journaling by Katie Dalebout

Journaling can be as simple as jotting down a To-Do List, or as complex as expressing your innermost feelings.  In either case, it is a powerful way of relieving a load from your mind. Let it Out is both an inspirational story and a how-to guide to Journaling.  Katie Dalebout has been journaling since her teens, discovering that her writing can be a plan, a review, therapy as well as life coach.  She credits journaling in helping her to recover from an eating disorder.  After sharing her life story in the Introduction, Katie sets out a range of journaling topics / exercises to suit different moods and purposes.  Katie’s young age and experiences make this a great book to share with the teens / young adults in your life.


Mindset: the New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

When Bill Gates writes a detailed (glowing) review of a book then you know it deserves attention.  Carol Dweck is a psychology professor who popularised the idea of fixed mindset versus growth mindset. A fixed mindset assumes ability is innate and thus success is largely predetermined; while a growth mindset believes that ability is the result of effort and persistence, and thus can be attained by anyone.  A growth mindset makes us more resilient and helps us maximise our potential.  I’ve included Mindset here as inspiration of what can be achieved when our minds are unburdened by anxieties, bad habits and negative self-talk, which tend to contribute to a fixed mindset.


Smiling Mind

S J Scott advocated mindfulness in Declutter your Mind, but, if you’re like me, you might prefer to learn mindfulness while listening – this is where Smiling Mind comes in.  Smiling Mind is a non-profit organisation aimed at making mindfulness techniques accessible to all ages.    They have two excellent free apps (one for smart phones and a web-based app for computers) co-developed with psychologists and health professionals.   These apps offer something for everyone – there are guided practices of different lengths, separately aimed at kids, teens as well as adults.  My local school uses Smiling Mind in the classroom and I know many parents who use it in their children’s bedtime routines. The Smiling Mind website also offers tips on how to use mindfulness meditation at schools or in the workplace.

Living With Less

It’s Spring time and with it comes blossoms, daffodils, lambs … and that niggling sensation to get up and clean the house from top to bottom! But where do you start…and where do you stop?

There is a lifestyle revolution happening and it is gaining momentum at record speed. It’s called minimalism; the Millennial generation are leading the charge and it is changing the way we live, what we keep in our homes, how we treat those around us, how we perceive media, what we do to enrich our lives and how we focus on our passions. At its core, being a minimalist means investing your time in the important things in life.

And since it’s now the beginning of spring here in Australia, let’s look at how we can adopt a little minimalism in our annual spring cleaning.


Everything That Remains by Joshua Fields Millburn

What if everything you ever wanted isn’t what you actually want? Twenty-something, suit-clad, and upwardly mobile, Joshua Fields Millburn thought he had everything anyone could ever want. Until he didn’t anymore. Blindsided by the loss of his mother and his marriage in the same month, Millburn started questioning every aspect of the life he had built for himself. Then, he accidentally discovered a lifestyle known as minimalism… and everything started to change. That was four years ago. Since then, Millburn, now 32, has embraced simplicity. In the pursuit of looking for something more substantial than compulsory consumption and the broken American Dream, he jettisoned most of his material possessions, paid off loads of crippling debt, and walked away from his six-figure career. So, when everything was gone, what was left? Not a how-to book but a why-to book, Everything That Remains is the touching, surprising story of what happened when one young man decided to let go of everything and begin living more deliberately. Heartrending, uplifting, and deeply personal, this engrossing memoir is peppered with insightful (and often hilarious) interruptions by Ryan Nicodemus, Millburn’s best friend of twenty years.

Josh and Ryan have another book on minimalism which you can buy here or listen to their podcast here or read their blog here.



The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe by Anuschka Rees

Berlin-based style blogger Anuschka Rees will change your attitude and approach to clothes and shopping with her new minimal method. She rejects the cliched fashion rules and instead encourages you to look in your wardrobe and at your life, as well as in the mirror. Using interactive prompts, infographic-style questionnaires and helpful check lists, all beautifully illustrated with photography and mood boards, create you own individual style guidelines that truly speak to you. A must-have guide that will help you discover and develop a strong sense of personal style.



One Year to an Organised Life by Regina Leeds

Who would you be if you felt at peace and had more time and money? An organised life enables you to have more freedom, less aggravation, better health, and to get more done. For nearly twenty years, Regina Leeds, named Best Organiser by Los Angeles magazine, has helped even the messiest turn their lives around. Anyone can get organised and she’ll prove it to you! One Year to an Organised Life is a unique week-by-week approach that you can begin at any time of year. Regina helps you break down tasks and build routines over time so that life becomes simple, not overwhelming. Regina reveals her magic formula for organising anything, plus her method to stop the chronic cycles of clutter, misplaced items, and lateness. Whether you’re living in chaos or just looking for new ways to simplify, this essential book will help you get the whole household organised and stay that way.



It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh

When Peter Walsh, organisational guru of TLC’s hit show Clean Sweep and a regular contributor to The Oprah Winfrey Show, appeared on national television shows and told people how they could reclaim their lives from the suffocating burden of their clutter, the response was overwhelming. Peter’s unique approach helped people everywhere learn to let go of the emotional and psychological clutter that was literally and figuratively choking the life out of their homes. With his good humour and reassuring advice, Peter shows you how to face the really big question: What is the vision for the life you want to live? He then offers simple techniques and a step-by-step plan to assess the state of your home, prioritise your possessions, and let go of the clutter you have been holding on to that has kept you from living the life you imagine. The result is freed-up space, less stress, and more energy for living a happier, richer life every day.



Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organising and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has revolutionised homes and lives across the world. Now, Kondo presents an illustrated guide to her acclaimed KonMari Method, with step-by-step folding illustrations for everything from shirts to socks, plus drawings of perfectly organised drawers and closets.She also provides advice on frequently asked questions, such as whether to keep necessary items that may not bring you joy. With guidance on specific categories including kitchen tools, cleaning supplies, hobby goods, and digital photos, this comprehensive companion is sure to spark joy in anyone who wants to simplify their life.