Be Positively Selfish

Being selfless and self-sacrificing are often seen as wonderful traits and they certainly have their place, but they need to come from a position of strength and choice.

If you don’t put yourself first in your life, why would you expect that someone else should? When we take care of ourselves and ensure that all our needs are met, then we can easily look after others and boost them up to the same level.

I had been offering (over text) to help a friend with her move, but she hadn’t yet taken me up on it. When I saw her in person, I told her that it was a selfish offer on my part. I wanted to spend time with her and I knew that the move was taking up all her free time. I had moved a few months before and clearly remembered the stress and distress I felt and how much it meant to have helping hands.

tZ+SbeOHSOm5vZLLgmTq%QShe hadn’t wanted to ask for help, but really appreciated when I came to her aid and assisted in sorting and transporting 2 car loads. We also had a great time hanging out, got a good workout and ended up going to see a student play afterwards. I had not expected the day to end with us all dressed up in a theatre, but it was a fantastic cap to a productive day!

When you let people know that you have a self-centred motivation for helping them out, it creates trust and makes it easier for them to accept the offer. We often keep a sharp eye out for the motivation behind a too-good-to-be-true offer and sometimes it’s comforting to see that it’s simply a win-win situation.

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I’m often selfish by assisting others, because I know that it will make it easier for me to ask for their help in the future. I don’t feel that they are obligated to me, but I’m more confident that they trust that I would do the same for them, because I already have.

When have you felt that being selfish is a good thing?

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Meet Julia

Watch the video below to hear about Fuel Becomes You and the woman behind the blog:

Fuel Becomes You is about creating a life that involves making space for the things that give life meaning. We’ve all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat”, which is true, but the concept goes further than simply what we put in our mouths.

All the people, environments, images, thoughts and words that we surround ourselves with seep into our beings. It’s important to curate the thought patterns and habits that evolve and check that they are supporting our goals and taking us where we want to go.

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Buttercup Fields Forever

There are activities and interests that revitalize our spirits and they need to be prioritized and woven into our daily tasks to keep us invigorated and resilient.

When do you feel joyful and in the flow or the zone, where time just flies by and you feel so accomplished afterward? It can be arts and crafts, or time in nature, helping out in your community, getting exercise or a change of scenery. For me, photography and motorcycle riding are activities that centre me and tell me who I am.

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The things we love sometimes have to take a backseat to the what we need to do, but don’t let them go if they bring good into your life and light you up. Keep them in the car and pull them up to the front seat when it’s safe.

Be positively selfish by putting the work and effort into yourself so that you can then help others. Be an example for those who may follow and maybe make a clearer path.

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Blackberry Bramble

Fill your tank each and every day with the fuel that gives you the energy to go onward and upward. Give gratitude for what you have and ask for what you want. No one else can do this for you, but everyone that cares about you will appreciate the gratitude and help you when they can. It is so much easier to help others when we know how to help ourselves first.

What are the passions that give more back to you every time you invest in them?

 

TED Talk: Dream Big, Start Small

I’m often intimidated by big goals and I see my son struggle with this as well. Monumental tasks grow even larger in our imaginations explore all the steps and possible obstacles involved. The only way to start something that seems insurmountable is to break it down into manageable chunks.

It’s important to remember that these bite-size pieces  of a project can look vastly different for everyone. We all have different skill sets and attention spans. Consistency is the key with this process, know that great things do not happen overnight. I also embrace the idea of stepping back when you are stuck and tackling the issue from another angle or working on a different segment. I find this works well for me with independent projects, when I feel my interest or focus waning.

Another trick is to give your brain a rest and do something that connects you with your body: stretching, go for a walk, do a thoughtless task, etc.

One of my go-to expressions when someone is feeling overwhelmed is to ask, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Do you have a mantra to remind you to break lofty projects down to easy to manage tasks?

Music: Julia Edition

My mother used to play the song Julia by the Beatles endlessly, as a child it thoroughly irritated me and I actively disliked the Beatles for decades. Fortunately, I can now listen to it (occasionally) and appreciate the beauty of the tune. It helps that the song was written for John Lennon’s son, Julian Lennon, which makes me appreciate the emotion behind the lyrics.

When I heard Julia by the Fast Romantics on the radio I loved the upbeat tempo and would always crank the volume and rock out (much to my son’s embarrassment). The video only increased my infatuation with the song, as I love movie musicals and Fred Astaire was one of my early creative crushes.

When I went to iTunes to purchase the Fast Romantics song, I found a bunch of other songs with Julia in the title and picked up this one by Ray Lamontagne as well. I feel an extra boost when these songs show up in my playlist and revel in the status of being a Julia!

In the 90’s, I had a boyfriend, who was in a punk rock band, write a song about me. It did not feature my name in the lyrics or the title, which was “Barely See You”. Do you enjoy songs with your name in them or, if you have an unusual name, do you wish there were songs featuring your name?

Don't Fear, Persevere

Often, we don’t see larger patterns until we have the advantage of distance, whether physical, emotional or chronological. I write for myself to create clarity and to empty out my brain when it gets too full. I often find the concepts of fear and time crowding into words that leak out of my pen. This is an excerpt that speaks to me directly and may resonate with others.

Once upon a time there was nothing, until one day there was something.

That’s when it all began. Time no longer stood still, it raced with every heartbeat and stood still for no man, no one, no thing.

Time was a beast that could not be caged or tamed. It raved and railed against the falling of the night. The sun could not come up fast enough to suit the speed of light that pushed something through the day. So much to do in so little time.

People to save, places to go and pictures to take. There was no peace even in sleep. Dreams brought fantasy to light and took time to a new place of purpose.

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More could always be done. Efficiency could be improved. Time wasted was time that could never be replaced. Not enough hours in the day, not enough days in the week. Months slipped by in a stream of rise and shine and falling exhausted into a waiting bed.

Every day brought new challenges to reach more people and offer them help to change their lives and perspectives. Help them to see beyond the walls they built to keep themselves enslaved to routine and trapped in the cage of responsibilities, real and imagined.

A chance to breathe was offered. An opportunity to see another way, to taste freedom and rediscover the energy of being oneself and not living to die and hating the vessel that carries us quickly to the grave.

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You can make better, you can do better, you can FEEL better. Hope, energy, freedom, confidence, capability, all wait for you on the other side of everything that scares you and hold you back from where you need to be.

Change is frightening because it leads to the unknown. SHOW THEM what it looks like, TELL THEM what it feels like, LEAD THEM to where they can be the leader. Then they can share the world with those they love and lead them to longer better lives that fill their bellies, hearts and heads.

SAVE THEM from themselves and the habits that enslave them. Offer them the choice, make it easy and appealing. Show them the way and give them the means to make the transition. Fill your cup first, let it overflow and slake the thirsts of all around you. Reach out to find those who need your words, wisdom and encouragement.

DON’T STOP, DON’T REST, DON’T WAIT! Go to them and show them what they need to know. Don’t give in to fear, but persevere. Don’t fear, persevere.

You can change yourself. You can change your world. You can inspire and educate.

Show them.

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Do you find that there are themes in your work and your life that constantly resurface?

Social Rider

2 finalists in the search for my motorcycle
2 finalists in the search for my motorcycle

 

When I bought my first motorcycle in 2000, I did lots of online research and ended up with a great starter bike: 2000 Buell Blast.  I sold the Blast 2 years later for reasons of practicality, but kept riding in my dreams. Cut to 2014, ready to get back on the iron horse, I did online research once again (click here to see Julia Austine’s Pinterest Board “Motorcycle Mama”), but was having trouble deciding between the two top contenders: Suzuki Gladius or a Yamaha FZ-07. I was leaning towards one over the other, but I wanted some opinions from outside my head, so I posted the above split pic on my Instagram account (click here to see @juliaaustine on Instagram) and tagged all the people I knew on Instagram that rode motorcycles. What’s interesting about this is that while some of these people I do know in real life, some I’ve only conversed with through Instagram!

My moto comes home with me!
My moto comes home with me!

After test riding both bikes, I made the final decision and went with the Suzuki Gladius. The first thing I did after I rode it home was to post a picture on Instagram and thank everyone who’d shared their thoughts on my bike selection. I shared the same photo on my Twitter account (click here to see @juliaaustine on Twitter)

Date Ride
Date Ride

Some of my first rides were with my husband, and since he has only had his bike and his license for the last 2 years, this was something brand new for us! I recorded images of these rides and created a hashtag for our “date rides”: #VeronicaandOctavius (the names I’d given our motorcycles) and again put them up on Instagram. As I’d run into friends and acquaintances in the real world, that had Instagram accounts, they would ask about my motorcycle or comment on my big bike decision. It’s fascinating to see how our online worlds and our daily lives overlap and combine until they can become as blurred as the trees by the side of the road.

Helmet Selfie
Helmet Selfie

 

Though not a big selfie taker, I did want to capture the chubbiness of my cheeks and the glint in my eye caused by suiting up for a ride by taking a “helmet selfie”, which I shared on Instagram and then used as my personal Facebook profile pic, to announce to my Facebook friends that I was back on two wheels. I also updated my Facebook cover photo to a shot of my Suzuki Gladius. My workplace wanted to share in the fun and posted a pic of me leaving for the day on my bike on Instagram! (click here to see @fiitfu on Instagram)

Moto Commute
Moto Commute

While riding a motorcyle can be a solitary pursuit, all this facebooking, tweeting and instagramming was making me feel much more connected to the two-wheeled community near and far. How have you used Social Media to “meet up” with others who have shared interests?

Social Animal

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message
Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

I like to follow people on Social Media with whom I share common interests: food, Social Media itself, photography, music, local events, food, Public Relations, food, parenting, etc. I used to unfollow people who would constantly post images of something I was not interested in: their pets.

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message
Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

This changed, a bit, with the new addition to our family, Hazel the Catahoula puppy. When we decided we were looking for a pup, I started a board on Pinterest called: Puppy Love with images of dogs that made me go, “Awwww”.  There were lots of Catahoulas and Corgis, and this new interest caused some curiosity and raised some suspicions among my close friends. Of course, once we got our Catahoula home, I instantly started sharing many adorable photos of our sweet puppy on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Realizing, that I was turning into someone that I would unfollow in a heartbeat, I vowed to vary my sharings and never do two puppy posts in a row.

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message
Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Surprisingly, to me, I had many requests for more dog pictures and constant updates of what she was up to. Especially on Instagram, I had questions and comments from dog-focused posters. Catahoulas are not very commonly seen in Canada, they are a Southern hunting dog and the State Dog of Louisiana. So, we get stopped a lot on walks and people often think she is an Australian Blue Heeler, due to her colouring.

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message
Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Through these new interactions, I even made a connection through Instagram with another Catahoula owner who adopted one of Hazel’s relatives! This was pretty exciting to me and now I actually look forward to other people’s pet posting.

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message
Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Being a dog owner opened me up to a new interest group and automatically made me a member.

Relevant Articles:

Mystic the Catahoula (Dog Gone Funn)

Asher the Catahoula Leopard Dog (Clarke Studio Pet Photography)

Joey Lehrman and Keeping it Local (Joey Lehrman)

Do you like or dislike lots of personal pet photos on your Social feeds?

Fave Photos from 2013

Frosted Mushrooms
Frosted Mushrooms
New Neighbours
New Neighbours
Snail Shell & Spring Shoots
Snail Shell & Spring Shoots
Ladybug Blossom Branch
Ladybug Blossom Branch
White Lilac
White Lilac
Buttercup Fields Forever
Buttercup Fields Forever
Matilija Poppies
Matilija Poppies
Boar Scarer
Boar Scarer
Blackberry Bramble
Blackberry Bramble
Feeling Cherished
Feeling Cherished
November Roses
November Roses
The Tree Is Up
The Tree Is Up

Going through my monthly photo streams, these are the images that stayed with me throughout the year. A year of challenges and changes that leaves me grateful for all that I have and all that I have become.

Wonder what 2014 will hold…

Blogging for the Team

Yellow Bloom by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message
Yellow Bloom by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

I’ve blogged for school, I’ve blogged for myself, I’ve blogged for friends and family, but for the past few months I’ve been blogging for a team. I was trying to find a way to keep a group of part-time Service Associates with ever-changing schedules on the same page, in the loop and every other team cliché that exists. Meetings weren’t going to happen on a regular basis and email seemed clunky, so I set up a WordPress blog and started a dialogue.

Palmetto Halo by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message
Palmetto Halo by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

The very first blog post was an introduction to how it would work and what the expectations were for the team’s participation. Every post would include a question at the end that each person was expected to answer in the comments. This was to make sure that they had read and understood the post and I committed to replying to each and every comment. For some of the team, this was their first time reading and/or commenting on a blog. The topics included changes in procedure, the cultural shift that our team was making and re-blogs of posts that I found relevant.

Baby Snapdragons by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message
Baby Snapdragons by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Once they had embraced the format and I was starting to run short on weekly topics, I turned the blog over to the team. Each person had to write a blog post (just over 400 words) about the project that they had been leading for the team. They also had to include one relevant image and a question for everyone to answer. The “guest” blogger was then responsible for replying to the comments. I was truly impressed with the quality of their blog posts and they really enjoyed the interaction through the posts and comments as, due to scheduling, some people rarely worked together.

City Exchange Bell by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message
City Exchange Bell by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

I would definitely recommend a blog format for keeping in touch and updated a team that is separated by time or space. It created a sense of camaraderie and connection that email just doesn’t have.

What do you think the greatest advantage or disadvantage of a team blog would be?