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move into spring with vitality

Moving into spring with vitality and balance

Nicole Mackintosh van Dyk is an experienced yoga teacher, mother and eternal student, passionate about living life to its fullest in the most holistic way. Today is the first of a series of blogs from Nicole – particularly well-timed to help you find some joy in the return of spring, even at this difficult time. 

We all felt it, the first glimpses of springtime, teased with a smattering of sunshine, the daffodils are on sale and the magnolia trees are beginning to bloom, hello Spring… we have missed you.

Never a lover of the post-Christmas winter months, the dark days seem to drag on, the grey skies are never-ending and the rain, oh the rain! Whilst each season has its gifts, the winter months can be tough. With the continual dark and cold weather, we can often be left feeling sluggish, lethargic and generally depleted.

Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth, planting seeds for the future and shaking off that winter feeling as the temperature starts to rise. It marks the time of transformation and with the start of 2020 being pretty tumultuous so far, never before has it been more important to see springtime in with vitality, a renewed energy and balance.

Rethink intentions

Intentions, resolutions whatever they mean to you and whether or not you set them at the beginning of the year, now is a good time to take stock of what is important to you in 2020. What do you want to do more of and what might be holding you back? Perhaps you are reinforcing old intentions or establishing new patterns – either way, take time to give this some thought. Keep it simple, don’t overwhelm yourself with a long list of unrealistic expectations, just cherry-pick the one that resonates the most and make it your mantra.

Shake it off

Most of us tend to hibernate a little in the latter part of the winter months, subconsciously waiting for the longer days to arrive. Now the Coronavirus is forcing us to distance ourselves from our usual social interactions, many of us will feel isolated. During this time, it’s quite typical to accumulate negative energy which weighs us down and, as a consequence, makes us feel heavy and lethargic. Take some time to physically shake off stale, negative energy, using hands to brush away from the body, starting from the crown of the head moving down to the tips of toes in an outward action. Better still, put on some music, jump around. You might feel silly, but I guarantee you will feel lighter and invigorated.

Take off the winter coat

On a more physical level, adopt an ancient Ayurvedic ritual called ‘dry brushing’ or ‘garshana’ (translated it means friction by rubbing). A technique, as its name suggests, that uses a natural brush to massage the entire body from the feet upwards with long strokes moving in the direction of the heart. Ideally performed daily in the morning before showering. This self-care practice helps stimulate the lymphatic system, eliminate toxins, improve immunity, exfoliate dead skin cells and promote healthy skin – all of which are particularly important when heading out of the winter months.

Sit still

As soon as the longer days arrive, we tend to find ourselves doing more and more – rapidly moving into a state of overdrive. If this sounds familiar, take the time to find a moment of stillness every day, however short, you will be amazed at how effective this can be at recharging the batteries. Just stopping for five minutes, sitting silently or meditating, lighting a candle and moving inwards, resetting your intentions or just simply shutting your eyes. Be still, this time is yours and it’s golden.

sit still

Eat light

When the warmer weather starts to arrive, our cravings for the heavier foods of winter tends to dissipate. Fill your diet with a variety of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables. Decrease your intake of heavy, oily, cold, fatty foods and increase vitamin, nutrient and chlorophyll-dense foods such as dark, green vegetables and sprouts, strawberries, and blueberries. In short, eat light, eat seasonal, eat local.

eat light

Notice

Be mindful. It’s easy to have adopted a hazy view of the world whilst wandering through winter. The weight of the cold weather dampening our perspective. Start to open your eyes again to what’s around you and really notice the beauty of spring. It is a period of rebirth and transformation for the earth – try to find a connection with this amazing process. Connect with nature’s beauty whenever you can, take a moment of silence, breathe in its beauty, pull the weeds apart and see what’s going on down there, hug a tree! Anything that allows you to witness this beautiful transformation, to be inspired and to find new energy and light.

notice

Twist and flow

In Ayurvedic tradition, the late winter and first part of spring is known as ‘Kapha’ season, which is governed by the elements of earth and water. This part of year is characterised by heavy, cold and wet qualities which can manifest into feelings of sluggishness, a lower-rate metabolism and weakened immunity, as well as a general lack of motivation and low mood.

To combat these feelings and to counter the downward pull of kapha energy, practice a cleansing and energising yoga sequence with a focus on detoxing the liver and gall bladder – both of which tend to get overworked doing the winter months.

Twist and flow yoga

A sequence that incorporates a variety of nourishing twists, energising heart openers and juicy side bends are particularly effective at this time of year. Asanaa (postures) that focus on the inner and outer line of the legs are particularly good at targeting the liver and the gall bladders which is where the meridian lines reside for these organs. Take your practice slowly, work into your alignment, hold each pose for a minimum of five breaths and close with a seated meditation and savasana.

For more guidance on spring yoga sequences contact me by email: hello@wanderingwarrior.co.uk

Cultivate a new ritual

Encourage yourself to create space for those simple rituals that honour who you are and revitalise you on a physical, energetic and emotional level. Whatever it is, be present with it, whether it’s a daily walk in nature, a moment’s meditation, dry brushing or journalling, create a space for something new in your life that cultivates a feeling of wellbeing.

Embrace this beautiful new season with energy and vitality, be present, connect, notice the beauty unfolding around you, take time, nurture yourself, reset and welcome spring with a smile.

be kind to yourself

Love and sunshine

Nicole x

Check out Nicole’s services on Instagram or visit her website.

luxury incentive trip to Prague's evening tour

Top Luxury Incentive Trips for 2020

Have you been looking for luxury incentive location ideas for 2020? Do you want to get your teams motivated after the Christmas break and create some excitement in the office? Well look no further. We have compiled our top 3 locations that will be sure to have a little something to get everyone focused for the new year – and all within a short flight form the UK!

Tenerife, Spain

Tenerife is the largest of the seven Canary Islands and only a 4-hour flight from London or a 2-hour flight from Madrid. This gorgeous island is known for its sandy beaches, clear waters, an active volcano and colourful coastal towns – the perfect location to be as active or relaxed as you want to be.

With luxury hotels on the beach and old villages with renowned architecture to explore throughout the island, there are endless sightseeing opportunities for all kinds of travellers.

luxury incentive kayaking with dolphins in Tenerife

Top Activities 
  • Private whale-watching tour – spend the day watching pods of whales and dolphins in the wild with a Marine Biologist guide whilst also listening to these beautiful creatures through a hydrophone
  • Volcanic sunset and stargazing picnic – spend an incredible evening watching the sunset on top of Mount Teide Volcano, followed by a private stargazing picnic with Spanish cheese, fruits, meats and wine
  • Snorkelling with dolphins and turtles – take a kayak tour along the Guaza Cliffs with spectacular views of the island and volcano. Along the tour get the opportunity to snorkel in the crystal clear waters.

Lake Como, Italy 

Surrounded by mountains and incredible local culture, Lake Como is known as one of Italy’s most picturesque natural destinations. The scenic towns surrounding the lake are known for their Instagram-quality views, exquisite villas, historic churches, museums and fun lake activities.

Whether you’re looking for a quieter adventure or to have an active holiday, Lake Como has so much to offer for everyone. Lake Como will definitely leave you with that “wow” factor if you’re looking to spoil your top performers.

luxury incentive trip sailing on Lake Como

Top Activities
  • Day tour of Bellagio and Varenna towns – explore the photogenic streets, historic cathedrals, unique shops, magnificent restaurants and different views of the lake
  • Take an Italian cooking class – learn from the masters of pasta with a local cooking class, teaching you to prepare traditional Italian dishes while sipping on wine
  • Boat tour of Lake Como – spend your day in true style with a private sightseeing tour of the lake, discovering unique parts only accessible by boat.

Prague, Czech Republic 

Known best for its bridges and castles, Prague is one of the most intact cities from WWII. With cobbled streets and medieval architecture, Prague will have you feeling as though you have stepped back in time. The historical Old Town Square is filled with colourful architecture, the famous Astronomical clock and places to sample the delicious local cuisine.

luxury incentive trip to Prague

Top Activities  
  • Private day tour of the city – explore everything Prague has to offer from Prague Castle to the Charles Bridge on a private city tour with a local guide
  • Villa Ritcher – dine in style with panoramic views over the city in this restored vineyard and villa
  • Prague Beer and Czech Tapas tour – known for having great nightlife but also famous for their beer, explore local beer halls, microbreweries and the best local restaurants in town.

So, those are our top 3 picks to kick-start your 2020 luxury incentive programme. Whether you want team incentive programmes or individual trips for your best performers, Tenerife, Lake Como and Prague can do it all without a long-distance flight!

We offer simple venue sourcing through to full trip management and even onsite support too. All you have to do is kick-back and enjoy yourself. For more on our bespoke luxury incentive packages, follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter or send us an email hello@sleekevents.co.uk

retreat sign in countryside

Wellness incentives: a must for corporates in today’s stressful work environments

As the new year gets underway, the annual flood of resolutions are doubtless being listed, vision-boarded and embarked upon. Top of the chart for most people will be things related to self-improvement: taking more exercise, eating more healthily and losing weight. But just behind those very common pledges will be ‘reduce stress’, according to the results of a YouGov poll published in December, with women being more likely than men to have it on their list (46% of female respondents versus 31% of males).

And that’s really not surprising. A survey of over 2,000 people commissioned by the mental health charity, Mind, found that work is the most stressful factor in people’s lives, with a third of respondents saying their work life was either ‘very’ or ‘quite’ stressful, making it a bigger worry than financial problems and health.

Those working in large organisations (250+ employees) are almost twice as likely as those in small businesses (under 50 employees) to suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, according to the Health & Safety Executive’s most recent statistics. And, while the percentage of staff self-reporting stress-related conditions may be relatively low – 1% in small businesses, rising to 2% in large organisations – there will be many others who are suffering but don’t report it. So, it’s vital that you, as an employer, recognise this growing issue and make sure your staff know they are valued and appreciated and that there are opportunities for them to periodically decompress.

yoga by a lake

Wellness incentives: a growing trend

We’ve seen a big rise in the number of companies offering wellness incentives – in fact, it’s one of the fastest-growing areas of our business. While some companies already provide free or discounted gym memberships, have healthy snack and refreshment stations in offices and provide ‘chill out’ and creative thinking areas, more and more are also introducing trips and retreats to reward their staff.

These incentives are a mix of relaxation, activity, luxury and strategic sessions, giving employees the chance to socialise with both their peers and management. It gives them space to think creatively and perhaps gain a greater appreciation of those they work with, which tends to translate into better relationships back home in the office.

While wellness incentives can be overseas trips of a lifetime (and we love planning and managing those for our clients!) they don’t have to be that extravagant. Travelling abroad doesn’t have to cost a fortune and there are fantastic locations all across the UK that can host tailor-made experiences, like our team away day at the end of last year.

Sleek retreat

Retreating Sleek-style

In a 2019 survey by Career Cast, being an Events Coordinator was voted the sixth most stressful job, behind firefighter, military personnel, police officer, airline pilot and broadcaster. We know that giving your very best every day can take a lot out of you, mentally and physically, so we decided to recharge Sleek’s batteries by whisking the #dreamteam off to a manor house in Somerset for a long weekend of rural downtime mixed with creative planning and goal setting. Taking the time to relax and enjoy each other’s company away from the office – with plenty of fresh air and good food – gave us the chance to look at our business from a different angle and reward everyone with a few extra luxury treats. The result: we made some really exciting plans for 2020 and came home 100% refreshed. You can read more about what we got up to here.

So, as you make your business resolutions and finalise corporate goals for the year, make sure there’s some consideration of what incentives you can put in place to keep your staff motivated and healthy, with a focused and balanced approach to their work.

It’s not indulgence; it’s investment in your most valuable assets.

team wellness incentives retreat

Top tips for choosing an incentive trip

  1. Set a budget
  2. Decide what you want to achieve
  3. Think about the kind of environment that would help you achieve your desired outcome…

…then give us a call and pick our highly imaginative brains ;)  We’ll put together a few different tailor-made experiences, then all you have to do is choose your favourite!

sleek events luxury incentives

You can read more about our approach to bespoke incentive packages online, follow what we’re up to via Instagram and Twitter and, if you’d like to discuss anything, give us a call on 0208 939 1397 or email hello@sleekevents.co.uk and we’ll get right back to you.

2020

20 things to prepare you for a healthy and productive 2020

New Year’s resolutions abound once the Christmas feasting is over but in the lead up to a new decade, the goals and dreams of the general public really move up a notch. We’re here to remind you that in a busy profession like events, setting yourself up for failure with extreme targets or lifestyle changes can be more destructive than not bothering to set yourself objectives at all.

This article by Time magazine shows the change in approaches to what is considered healthy choices from back in 2010 when people were making plans for leaving the noughties. When you look at these few examples, you realise that having an open mind and the flexibility to embrace fresh thinking is just as important as sticking to resolutions.

We polled our office this week and prepared our top 20 list of recommendations for preparing yourself for a happy, healthy and productive 2020…

1. Set goals and ambitions for the year – keep them realistic as many people drop their New Year’s resolutions by about midday on 2nd January!

2. Declutter – whether at home, work or both, start the year off without the mess.

3. Practise what we preach – we talk about personal and professional development as a way to stay ahead of the game and an easy way to do that is to watch inspirational speakers via TED Talks. Try setting yourself a minimum of one a week.

4. Manage stressStress Matters is an organisation specifically for the events industry who have a fantastic programme for employers to sign up to for their employees. Why not make the pledge? And we’ve also had the team in from POINT3 Wellbeing who have helped us embed wellbeing into our workplace culture – stress less and smile more!

5. Dry January – it’s a busy time of year so why not attack it with a clear head and a smug, hangover-free smile. We could list the benefits of a month off the booze but you all know the score.

6. Start something new – get out of the rutt and try a new hobby or activity. You can meet new people, do it with your family or set out on a different route for your dog walks. Whether it’s baking or downloading a mindfulness app, changing it up can bring fantastic rewards.

7. Give back – you know the random acts of kindness you hear about on social media? Something as simple as putting your name down for a charity event, donating blood, or buying one extra food item for your local food bank can get the ball rolling.

8. Enjoy what the Arts have to offer – there are lots of new shows opening next year and some great ones continuing or if the theatre isn’t your bag, what about the band you always promised you’d see live?

9. Want to get fit but not sure where to start? Join ClassPass – it gives you the variety and flexibility to work out at many different venues.

10. Carry a reusable water bottle – you can stay hydrated and reduce your plastic waste footprint. We have our new Sleek branded bottles or you could try a Chillys bottle – these guys were no.1 on The Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 where we were thrilled to be placed at no. 19 in Britain’s list of fastest-growing companies.

11. Start your day earlierread the Miracle Morning to find out why getting up just 15 minutes earlier can make a huge difference to your day and life.

Still with us? Keep reading on – we promise it’s worth it!

12. Shop local – we like to support small businesses (just like us!) and shopping local is one way to help your community thrive and make personal and professional connections at the same time.

13. Car-free weekends – or could that be carefree weekends? Try to avoid using the car at the weekend as much as possible – walk, cycle or take the bus instead. It’s a good habit to form, reducing CO2 emissions and keeps you fit!

14. Write a to-do list – if you find it hard to drop off to sleep at night, write your list before going to bed to avoid waking up at 3am with random thoughts running your head. Or prepare a next day priority list for work before you leave the office each evening so you don’t drag work home with you.

15. Meatless Mondays – get on board with the campaign that encourages people to improve their health and that of the planet. You don’t have to become vegetarian but plenty of us are flexitarian without even knowing it.

16. Get creative in the kitchen – if you find yourself on a food delivery app because you’re too tired to cook or don’t fancy the same old spag bol, add some pzazz to your mealtimes with a new cookbook. To help with Meatless Mondays, we tried the River Cottage veg recipe book and loved it so much that we’re going to set up a recipe book swap station in our office kitchen.

17. Enjoy work travel – we’re on the go with events further afield every year. To balance the environmental impact of essential travel with our own wellbeing, we recommend taking time out from every work trip to explore. If the world is your oyster, you need to dip your toe in the water from time to time!

18. Reduce your screen time – we know you have work to do and you can’t just close your laptop in the middle of a task BUT you can schedule in periods of downtime. Take a coffee outside, arrange a catch-up with colleagues or go for a walk at lunch. The important thing is to feel comfortable with your mobile out of your hand and your computer turned off – especially when you’re at home.

19. Reconnect with people – make time for family or old friends. Pick up the phone rather than sending a text. We all know that Christmas heightens feelings of loneliness – you can make the difference to someone’s day with a quick call or dropping round with some cake!

20. Appreciate what you’ve got

Finally, we all agreed that we don’t really stop and take stock of what is already working well in our lives. We’re all going to list 20 things we love about our lives to remind ourselves of the people and things we care about, our achievements and how those will affect our happiness, health and productivity throughout 2020 and beyond.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our friends from the team at Sleek Events!

For more advice for #eventprofs, follow us: Instagram LinkedIn Twitter

A day in the life of an #eventprof… onsite

According to the most recent survey by  CareerCast.com*, events management is the fifth most stressful profession, behind military jobs, police, firefighters and other life-death careers. Even though this is a poll of US employees, I’m sure as #eventprofs in the UK, we’ve all been able to relate to this stress at some point or other! The pressure of liaising with suppliers, clients and delivering to deadlines can definitely get on top of all of us but equally, that adrenaline rush is exactly why we love what we do! We were recently onsite for a corporate event in London, so we caught up with Project Manager, Erin, to hear all about a day in the life of an onsite event professional… 

It’s set-up day. What’s first on the to-do list?

I usually try and get up at around 5am, so I can shower and get ready for the long day ahead without feeling rushed. Once the team is all onsite, the first thing on the list is to set up our production office so we have an organised space to work from. The client is due onsite a couple of hours after us, so we ensure all the relevant suppliers have arrived and started to install, I meet with the venue representative to do a pre-client onsite run through and then hit the to-do list! Amongst the important tasks, someone always goes for a Pret run when we have a moment, to make sure we all have a good breakfast. It’s sometimes difficult to remember to eat when you’re onsite, so now’s the time for everyone to eat and get some water.

pouring water from a jug into a glass - a reminder to keep hydrated

By midday, the client has just arrived so we catch up, update them with the install process and get them some lunch! For the rest of the afternoon, I concentrate on the install. For this particular event, the AV was the largest part of the install, so most of our attention is on getting this ready for rehearsals to start in the afternoon. Later in the afternoon the CEO arrives onsite, so while the team has divided and conquered to ensure each area is on time – branding, registration, expo etc – my efforts are focused in the keynote room where the CEO has started rehearsing for tomorrow morning’s event opener.

Set-up day is coming to an end – what are your last minute checks to ensure live day goes smoothly?

Once the rehearsals are over, the client team heads offsite, so our evening is made up of snagging and fixing a few last-minute branding issues. We then grab a quick bite to eat whilst the last of the suppliers are finishing up before heading to a nearby hotel before midnight. We always try and stay as close as possible to the venue. Someone from the team checks us in during the afternoon – this way the team can head straight to bed once we’ve finished after a long day.

The view from the venue over London at the end of the day

What is your routine the night before live day?

Once back at the hotel, I usually do some stretching after being on my feet all day – I’ll have clocked up lots of steps! I then re-read all my documents and checklists to make sure I know what’s going on at every single second of the event. It’s so much easier to deal with any issues that inevitably will arise when you are fully prepared and know every detail inside and out. I’ll also take some time to write some notes of any little reminders or actions I need to do when I first get onsite in the morning. Following this, relaxation is key! You need to be able to switch off in our industry – before this event I had a relaxing bath and then got an early night.

So, how did it go? How do you unwind post event?

The event went well and the client is happy – this is the most important thing! Once it’s all wrapped up and all suppliers are offsite, myself and the team head to a nearby restaurant for a pizza and a drink. We’ll chat about how the day went, share any onsite pictures and then a summer favourite is to head home to catch up on Love Island!

What are your 3 top tips for long days onsite?

  • WATER – it’s so easy to get dehydrated onsite. It makes you feel so much more awake when drinking enough. We send reminders in the group chat or even over comms every now and again to make sure everyone is keeping hydrated.
  • Get enough sleep pre and post show – there is no way to avoid lack of sleep onsite but stocking up before definitely helps.
  • Enjoy it! The best way to get through a long day is to actually enjoy it. The lead up to an event can be so long and detailed that it’s worth taking it all in onsite and enjoying the day with the Sleek team and the client.

Events Coordinator is the 5th most stressful job in the CareerCast.com poll. How do you combat stress?

  • Lots of lists to make sure everything that can be done has been!
  • The team: having the right team and support around you is key.
  • A post-event stretch/yoga class and, of course, a glass of wine helps too!

a yoga studio - a reminder to de-stress

Working in events can mean times when the pressure is on but it’s also extremely rewarding and fun. If you’d like to work in events, keep an eye on our social media for job opportunities:

Instagram

LinkedIn

Twitter

*CareerCast.com 2019 survey can be viewed here: https://www.careercast.com/jobs-rated/2019-jobs-rated-stress

Let’s gift ourselves a Conscious Spring Cleanse!

How is your spring cleaning going? Not so well? Our resident Healing Coach, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, gives some great insight into why spring cleaning is such a great idea for your overall wellbeing.

I’ve been wondering so many times what this fuss about spring cleaning was and why everyone would just become obsessed with cleaning as soon as spring came… I clean all the time!

Let me tell you, spring cleaning is actually one of the oldest rituals that exists. It is, in many ways, linked to religious traditions. From a more scientific point of view, it is linked to the longer days and the fact that our “sleeping” pineal gland reduces its work with the increase of daylight, giving us more vitality. And on an energetic level, it is meant to welcome in to our homes and our lives the awakening energy that springs carries with it.

spring saying

Spring represents the blooming of nature, the waking up of the earth, the flying back of the birds and the blossoming of the sleeping flowers… Blooming is essentially the word that most resonates with me and I visualise it as two hands that are opening up and holding a beautiful bubble of sun. Which word would you choose to represent spring?

Now that we know that spring cleaning is not just fashionable, I can also say that the spark of clean can be repeated as often as we like. What’s important are the intentions we are putting behind our cleaning.

Your home is a representation of your mind, body and spirit and in many ways – there is a huge connection between all of these energies.

When your environment (what surrounds you) feels good, you will in return feel good and vice versa. Imagine being an advocate of calmness, meditation and harmony and living in a place that represents disorder, confusion and chaos. How much more energy do we need to put into balancing off the chaotic energy? What would it mean to have a balancing internal and external representation?

Internal and external worlds need to go hand in hand or the energy you are going to spend trying to keep the internal world calm is most likely wasted.

And surely, there are better things we can employ that energy for!

Physical Cleaning

I’m sure you have all heard about Marie Kondo. To me, she is awesome. She managed to turn something as boring as cleaning and decluttering into a game between having fun with “lego” and sparking joy.

Her motto is “whatever does not spark joy, thank it for all it has given you and let it go”.

Marie Kondo saying

How many things are you keeping that you never wear? How many things are you keeping because “you might need it one day”? How many things are you holding on to because you’re afraid that the memory will go away if you get rid of it?

Imagine it as energy: everything that surrounds us holds in itself an energy which is either dense or light. What we want to do is to only surround ourselves with light, with an energy that sparks joy and that makes us feel at peace when we look at it.

I am not implying that we all need to become queens and kings of tidiness as Marie, however I am asking you to try imagining how your life would be if your surroundings would emanate light energy and spark joy. Pretty awesome, right?

A brief summary of the konmari method

The konmari method tells us that an effective decluttering needs to be divided into categories:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Komono (miscellaneous)
  5. Kitchen
  6. Personal items (this is generally the most difficult).

Each category will be divided into subcategories and everything needs to be looked at in each subcategory. For example, you may divide your clothes in subcategories such as t-shirts, trousers, socks, etc.

The decluttering process needs to be done by seeing at a glance all the items in each category. If you are doing clothes, for example, you need to pile up ALL of the clothes you own in one space (all of it, no cheating!) and then divide them into subcategories. If you do it little by little, you would not know how much stuff you own and how to recognise what really “sparks joy”.

Some of you might find it hard to imagine how a t-shirt can spark joy… well again… you can call it joy, you can call it lightness, you can call it warmth… Don’t try to over think it. Sparking joy is a matter of seconds, you either have it or you don’t.

This way of being will also help you when buying new stuff. Sometimes we buy just for the sake of buying, however when we bring the concept of joy to our shopping, we might end up buying only things that really matter to us.

During the clothes decluttering process, you could have 3 different piles: one to keep, one pile to give to charity and one pile to sell. Whatever makes sense to you really.

You can find thousands of articles about Marie Kondo and her method, should you fancy looking into it in more detail. What I really wanted to share here was the concept of sparking joy and how to bring more joy to your homes through decluttering, cleaning and rearranging how it better serves your need for joy.

Only after everything is organised and rearranged shall you start with the common cleaning process thanking each time you get rid of “unneeded energies”.

It can be so inspiring to come home to a clean space where you know where everything is, where you feel safe and where you feel at peace and surrounded by love.

environment saying

As a short recap:

  1. Thank your home just the way it is and promise it that you will give her a sprinkle of joy!
  2. Make a mess!
  3. Categorise and subcategorise your items
  4. Choose only what sparks joy
  5. Have fun reorganising (the use of boxes and/or small transparent containers can really help the process)
  6. Common cleaning
  7. Energy cleaning
  8. Thank your home for holding the space and keep the joyous energies up!

If you are wondering if I have done the process myself or if I am just telling you something you may want to hear, please know that YES I am doing it right now and having lots of fun in the process!

To make it even more fun, don’t forget to play your favourite music while cleaning… and why not, maybe a little singing can help you stimulate your voice and clean your thoughts at the same time!

It is not only necessarily about sparking joy… having a tidy environment will:

  1. Increase productivity: when you know where everything is, you can save so much time when you are looking for it!
  2. Increase health: Removing allergens from the home can make you feel healthier, especially at a time when allergies are rife.
  3. Helps to focus: decluttering helps to make space for decision making and essential tasks.

Last but not least, I would like to introduce the concept of holding your space “comfortable” while stretching your beliefs around cleaning.

The objective of this blog is not to make you all become obsessed with cleaning – any obsession is completely out of balance. My objective is to create a balance between your internal and external world and making you feel at peace with and in your home, with what you own and with whatever surrounds you while at home.

Cleaning your outside world is a great metaphor to help you clean your internal world. We have done a lot of work on our internal world and internal representations, so it is time your environment keeps up with it!

With light and love,

Francesca

PS: Energetic Cleaning – If you are into energetic cleaning, you can add smudging, crystals and essential oils to the clearing process. Let us know if you are interested and I can make a short add-on for you on this topic!

Celebrating who you are

Celebrate who you are being right now

Celebrate who you want to be

Celebrate your dreams

Celebrate your vulnerability

Celebrate success

Celebrate your truth

Celebrate those you look up to and model them

Celebrate the magnificent power you have within you

Celebrate the communities

Celebrate the fact that we are all here to support each other, no matter what

Celebrate knowing that all the strengths you need are already within you.

In the aftermath of International Women’s Day, we wanted to celebrate everyone in our latest wellbeing blog. Written by our resident Healing Coach, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, there is a special power to celebrating who you are…

2019 is a very special year in terms of energy and the healing that this energy can provide us. It is said to be a year of evolution, with a very strong power coming in to help us move towards a higher state of consciousness.

Let’s use this energy to increase our awareness about everything we can be for ourselves and everything we can be for other people. I cannot insist enough on the importance of contribution. There is always someone that can benefit from your help and your love. How much more awesome would it be if our change can also impact the person next to us? What if our experience and our sharing of that experience could impact someone’s life in a way you cannot even imagine?

Any impact that has been made on bigger scales, has always started in small communities. Become an advocate of your energy, your power, your truth and your acceptance.

Celebrating your feminine energy (I promise this section is not just for women!)

Feminine energy is curvy while masculine energy is about straight lines. Would you agree with me that always walking in straight lines might be a bit boring? And that being on a constant roller coaster might be draining after a while? Balance. Walk a line, make a curve, turn right, go straight, repeat. You can also include a pirouette once in a while, they’re quite fun!

  • Feminine energy is creative, masculine energy is controlling.
  • Feminine energy it is intuitive, masculine energy is logical.
  • Feminine energy is collaborative, masculine energy is competitive.
  • Feminine energy is about the journey, masculine energy is about the results.
  • Feminine energy is emotional, masculine energy is protective.

We all have feminine and masculine energy within us. To be sustainable and functional, we need both of them to be perfectly balanced. Can you see why it is so important to welcome both into your life? Eastern medicine calls it the Yin and the Yang, Hindu culture calls it the Linga and the Yoni, we could call it the moon and the sun, the ocean and the sand, the sky and the stars.

Masculine energies are primarily about doing, while feminine energies speak to being. The key is to understand when each serves us and to be able to identify if we’re out of balance and how to get back in alignment.

Life is not about who is more powerful, who is winning, who is strongest, who is better, who has the best life, who has the best idea… Life doesn’t have to be a constant competition, life doesn’t have to be a constant power battle.

As women, we’re taught to be more like men in order to be successful, we need to be strong, we need to be independent and do it all ourselves. I’m wondering, how can this be functional? How can it be functional to override our feminine energy full of curves in order to become a straight line in disguise? Do you think the curve is happy? Do you think it can express all it has to express or do you think it is more frustrated and would like to burst into a swirly confetti?

Balance. Accept that both energies have equal rights to live within you. Drop the conditioning of how things are supposed to be, drop all you have been taught. There is no better, there is no worse. There is just the road to balance.

Here are a couple of hints on how to celebrate your feminine energy. If you are a man and reading this blog, I trust you are honoring your feminine energy as much as your masculine. And why not go as far as starting to celebrate the feminine energy within you as you add in more curves into your straight lines, as you add in creativity, intuition and sit with your emotions while you experience the journey?

  1. Be in nature. Nature is life-force energy and is, at its core, the strongest representation of feminine energy. It’s the strongest representation of constant movement, infinite contribution and magnificent power. What can you learn from it?
  2. Express your creativity. Curves need to move and they need a way to express their flow. What can you do today that would allow your creative side to be able to show up?
  3. Sit with your emotions. Yeah, I know, it’s hard. It’s so much easier to push them away. There is no perfect way to do it, just do it. Whatever you resist, persist. Whatever you embrace, dissolves.
  4. Value spontaneity and play. Just have fun. Play, restore your factory settings and allow your inner child to play free and joyful. What can you do today to have fun with your inner child?
  5. What can you wear today that will allow your feminine energy to feel empowered, flowy and joyful?
  6. Celebrate the road ahead. Whatever the journey is, celebrate it. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.
  7. Give voice to the voiceless. Contribute, Educate, Share, Influence every single day, Serve the Energy of Your Soul, Be Your Own Leader, Take Action.

How are you going to use your magnificent power today? How are you going to use your personality to serve the purpose of your soul?

With love,

Francesca

PS: I would like to make one very important note as I believe too many people misunderstand this concept: feminine energy and sexual energy are two completely different. Men and women shouldn’t be afraid to embrace traits that have been pigeon-holed into a male or female category.

When did we stop communicating?

In this month’s blog our resident Healing Coach, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, gives us an insight into why we have communication barriers and how to overcome them…

One of the things I have always believed is that problems arise because somewhere along the line, we have committed to being afraid of genuinely communicating. And believe me, coming from a “everything is always fine” master, I have found great tricks to keep myself away from talking.

When I started my healing journey, I magically discovered that communicating was a great healing tool on its own. That’s when I started exploring the mechanisms behind communication and, in most cases, non communication…

Living with kids has taught me a great deal of things. One of the most important is how much fear we place in telling the truth and how that fear transforms itself into silence and, even worse, into lies. Studies have shown that kids generally start lying to either avoid getting in trouble or to get more attention. Whatever the reason may be, we start avoiding true communication from an early age and we bring it on with us throughout the rest of our lives, in different forms and with different techniques.

I’m sure we can all relate to a little kid that has done something wrong and, to cover it up, they invent a great story that becomes a white lie. The reasons behind the white lie may be:

  1. 1. I do not want mummy or daddy to scream at me
  2. I don’t want to be punished
  3. I always do something wrong
  4. I don’t want to feel shame for what I did…

and we could go on and on to find different reasons behind the little cover-up lies.

You see, kids do not necessarily see the distinction between reality and fiction, which makes them accomplices in their own lies and their own stories.

Why am I talking about this, you may ask? Well, because I believe that’s exactly when we start to create beliefs and habits that, in turn, create blocks to our communication. You see, if a kid starts believing it’s easier to tell a lie or shut up rather than tell the truth – because the reaction to the truth brings on pain, anger or shame – what kind of belief do you think they continue with as teen or adult?

Failing to truthfully communicate is the number one reason for relationship endings, work frustrations and it can go as far as being the root of disagreements in everyday life.

Do you always say what you mean?

Do you know how to truly listen to the person in front of you or are you just concentrating on what to say next?

What are the chances you’re letting your map of the world misinterpret the words of the other person?

What would it take to let your guard down and be ok to say what’s truly on your heart?

With no anger, no sadness, no frustration…  just calmness… you are allowing yourself to be you and when you do that there is no need to fight, no need for expectations, no need for arrogance. Just the need to be in that space you have just created by destroying the walls you have once raised to protect you.

1. Learn to listen

Have you ever realised how much time we spend trying to figure out the answer we need to give even before the other person has finished talking?

That diversion from listening to thinking, how much do you think decreased your information intake? Did you really listen to everything the person in front of you said? Did you concentrate on the tone of the voice or on the words? How was the non-verbal communication? Did you even pay attention to that? You see, communication is not only words. It can be so much more than that, if you let it. Be an active listener, look the person in the eyes, stop whatever you’re doing and commit your full attention to the conversation, pause your thoughts and pause your need to answer, prevail, justify and judge. Hold the space for the other person and just be present.

2. Speak the truth

Do you say what you want to say or do you say what the other person wants to hear? Do you pick a fight because it’s easier than expressing what’s truly on your heart? Do you just shut up and play the “I’m ok” game? What would you say that you’re not saying? How would you say it? How would you like to hear it? What do you need to say that is weighing on your shoulders?

The truth is, we can never anticipate another person’s reaction. But the more we get to know ourselves, the more we can improve the way we act and react. When we speak from the heart, whether it’s a frustration, a dream, a fear, an issue, an advice… we speak from a place of love and most importantly we speak the truth. By speaking the truth you first of all respect yourself and secondly, you respect the other person. What do you need to speak about? Boundaries? Emotions? Feelings? Your needs? Frustrations? New ideas? Competences?  Whatever it is, as long as it’s said from the heart, holding the space from a place of love and respect to the other person. And even when the other person sends you hatred, respond with love because, if you really think about it, isn’t love the only thing we all go searching for? Infinitely.

3. We are not mind readers!

Ok, ok, sometimes we like to think we are!  However, in general, people don’t know what’s on our minds and we can’t pretend that our best friend, boyfriend, partner, boss gets how we feel because of a great power that allows them to read us in an instant and know exactly how to react to keep us happy! Most relationships fail because we fail to communicate our needs. We want the other person to understand what we need but, of course, without saying telling them. We are unhappy at work, a friend has hurt us, we really need a hug… but do we actually say it? What would it take you to ask? What would it cost to just say it?

The work we’re doing here is to let go of all the barriers we have built, of all the limiting beliefs we are holding on to and of anything we have read, heard, learned and that does not belong to us anymore. That’s the first big conversation to have: the one with the self. The ones with others then follow more naturally.

Communication means connection. Connection with self, connection with others. Talking, expressing and communicating openly and truly will not only release you of useless frustrations but also improve relationships, friendships, work atmosphere and help you solve most problems.

Have fun expressing, expanding, exploring, evolving.

With love,

Francesca

 

posibilities saying

Infinity thinking – a world of possibilities

In this month’s blog our resident Healing Coach, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, guides us how to begin our own journey to a world of infinite possibilities.

What are you choosing to see? What are you choosing to hear? What are you choosing to commit to?

“The map is not the territory” has been one of my favourite subjects since I’ve started my new journey and it’s been a true eye-opening tool that can, if I let it, completely change the perspective of a situation, of a person, of a judgment and of life in general. This simple phrase means nothing more than it is the way we choose to interpret a certain set of information. The way is given by our map of the world… by the way our mind has been constructed, by our education, our teachers, our care givers, our friends, our enemies, by hurt and by joy.

Our maps are created little by little through our experiences and through our perception of our experiences. Whatever we experience becomes a meaning and by whatever meaning we choose to give it, becomes a piece of the world puzzle we construct in our minds. We interpret everything we experience through the pieces of the puzzle we have constructed and this puzzle determines how we think, act and react.

Possibility thinking

Do we ever doubt the accuracy of our maps? How could we? Most of us do not even know that we have our own unique map of the world!

To make it very simple this is how it works… an ACTION brings a REACTION. That reaction (thought, act, judgment, fear, doubt, anger, etc) is personal and unique to each of us and is dependent on our map of the world. This explains how a same action, can be seen in different ways by different people and when someone disagrees with what we see, as a reaction we may think that they are weird or unreasonable.

For most of us, our map of the world becomes the ONLY truth and we tend to protect it like it is the most important thing in the world… just as the Little Prince (by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) was protecting his rose. When conflicting opinions surround us, it can become a cause for extreme anxiety, anger and controlling behaviour.

The map of the world is what constructs our basic mind-set, where an action causes a reaction. Full stop.

What if I told you that by asking a simple question before you decide to give in to your reaction, you could change the whole perspective of what is happening to you?

What if by exploring “What else is possible?” you could shift to an infinite world of possibilities?

What if I told you that within our straight forward reaction are all of our limiting beliefs, fears, doubts, worries, anxieties and insecurities?

What if I told you that as soon as you can get your mind out of the picture, you can get to the energy of a situation and clear the limitations and barriers that keep you from expanding into a world infinite possibilities?

thomas edison possibilities quote

My journey into coaching has taught me to ask these questions:

  • What else is possible here?
  • How can I be more aware here?
  • How many more possibilities are there?
  • What else can I choose that I have not chosen yet?

When you ask yourself the first question, you choose something else than what your mind is suggesting you choose. When you try to look beyond what is, you can see a whole new world of what isn’t and what isn’t yet, can simply become a new perspective.

This is how you shift to infinity thinking. You move from a straight line into a world of beautiful, colourful curves.

Let’s take a very simple example. Action: someone upsets you. Reaction: you get really upset, sad and decide to stop talking to that person.

There. Straight line. One action brings one reaction.

healing is not linear

Let’s move towards these beautiful and colourful curves… Action: someone upsets you. Reaction: What else is possible here? Maybe he/she was hurt? Do you know that hurt people, hurt other people? What is my responsibility here? What else can I choose?

Have you dropped your judgments and your points of view yet?

The trees don’t say, “I’m not going to give you any oranges because you’re a jerk.” They say, “Okay, you’re a jerk. Here are some oranges. Maybe these will help you out.”

Gary Douglas, Access Consciousness (www.AccessConsciousness.com)

Become your own inspiration for a different reality. A new world is created one step at a time. One different decision at a time. You are the only person who can get over your own limitations and open up to a world where the word POSSIBLE becomes possible.

To end this blog, I would like to share with you of my favourite questions from Access Consciousness, that may, if you let it, open up space and allow you to continuously create something new:

What would you have to acknowledge about you, that you’ve never acknowledged about you that if you did, would give you the ability to commit to your own life and create infinite possibilities? Everything that is times a godzillion, will you destroy and uncreate it all?

With love and light,

Francesca

departures board

The roaming life of #eventprofs

This month, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, shares her experience of how to cope with the travelling life of the #eventprof. Not only cope, but actually enjoy it!

When I tell people I’m an events planner, most of the times I get the so-called WOW effect, “OMG, you lead such a glamourous life!”

Honestly, I can’t deny that sometimes I replay some of the stories in my head and I can even be ‘jealous’ of the awesome experiences I’ve lived. I’m so grateful for all the places I’ve visited, the amazing people I’ve met and the crazy stories I’m now able to tell.

One big truth, however, is that we lead a pretty unstable, stressful and unbalanced lifestyle. We work outrageous hours and are often away from home for long periods of time… any idea on how to cope with that??

  1. Plan your balance

This may sound weird, I know. At work, we plan and plan and plan for everything to go perfectly smoothly – we have to do lists, run-throughs, roadmaps, memos, lists and more lists of who does what, when and where. When it comes to planning our own time, however, we immediately become reticent and start feeling guilty of taking the time for us rather than be fully immersed in the job.

Remember, there is a time for everything and YOU are the sacred space for all the awesome planning and amazing organising. If you don’t take care of that sacred space (your body, mind, soul and spirit) the castle you are building will have foundations made of thin air and it may collapse at any moment.

Whether you are home or away, plan some time for you. You can pick amongst some of your favourite activities:

  • morning stretching, a phone call to your BFF/partner/son/daughter/ parent
  • a short meditation
  • a breathing exercise
  • reading two pages of your latest book
  • 10 minutes in the sauna.

OK, I get it, this won’t be possible ALL the time but… THIS IS YOUR TIME… Ideally try to have some YOU time at least twice a day!

  1. Plan your food

Travelling can be quite hard on the diet! Hotel breakfasts, restaurants, pastries, sodas, coffees, etc. I totally get that (a) when we are tired we just want comfort food, (b) that sometimes we just do not have the choice and (c) that sometimes a green smoothie just doesn’t do it!

healthy lunch box

Prepare yourself a healthy lunchbox to keep your energy up

Planning your food intake does not need to become an extra stress added to your day. It needs to be fun, joyful and put a smile on your face. If you manage to be reasonable 75% of the time, you are on the right track and surely you know some tricks to keep you going. Try carrying a banana with you, drinking lots of water and herbal teas, possibly trying not to eat too late for dinner, have healthy snacks hidden in your bag and, the most important sustenance of all, laugh at least twice a day!

  1. Pack smart

Packing has become one of my favourite activities! I love to challenge myself to play Tetris, packing as much into my suitcase as humanly possible. Learning how to combine outfits with minimum mixing and maximum matching whilst still looking professional and feeling comfortable is a talent I’ve learned over the years.

Please know that I used to be the worst packer ever! Every trip was an overweight charge, a crazy amount of clothes and yet I felt like I had nothing to wear! The trick is to have in your wardrobe things that you love wearing and mixing basics like jeans with elegant, understated chic items. Don’t worry f you don’t change your shoes every day… no one will notice!

Conscious packing will help you save time, it will make you feel comfortable with what you are wearing every day and it will make you enjoy traveling light!

  1. Making memories

Memories to be grateful for are food for the soul and yet sometimes we forget about making them. We’re so busy and often surrounded by stress, we forget we’re also here to make memories. Who said work had to be tough and unpleasant? Work is such a huge part of our lives, we’d be left with very little time to enjoy if we didn’t have fun at work. Each event, each person you work with or meet, each special dish you savour, each crazy thing you need to do to save the event, can magically become a memory to be grateful for.

Making memories: some of the Sleek Events team taking a boat trip in Stockholm after an event

That is, of course, if you allow gratitude to come in and let go of whatever is not needed.

  1. Sharing

A very usual comment I get in the event business is a frustration of thinking that nobody understands the pressure we are under and that nobody appreciates how much we actually work. Honestly, even if that was true, what’s the benefit of thinking that way?

Are you looking for validation? Is showing off the amount of work we have an excuse to say that we don’t have time for anything else?

What if we could drop that thought and explore different possibilities? What if we started talking to our partner/kids/friends and explain how our days go? When we’re away from home, wouldn’t you love to have someone supporting you? To have someone that not only understands what you do, but actually becomes your partner in crime, knows that you are OK and that you love sharing your life? Wouldn’t you be happy to know your loved ones are happy for you?

Bottom line is… the more you align to your values, the more you’ll be able to enjoy the little things. Fill your life with people who can back you up, with no judgment, just listening and knowing we’re here for one another.

With love and light,

Francesca xo