Go “Internet-lite”, Unplug, Be Present, Enjoy the Holiday

Holiday BaublesWell, I just read a blog post that so perfectly sums up my attitude to technology over the Christmas/holiday period that I’m going to strongly recommend you take a couple of minutes to read it here. Full of practical tips on how to go “internet-lite” over the break. I’ve written before about taking back control of your technology (because who do you think is in charge of it, if it’s not you?). I’m also still on the slow-down-you’re-moving-too-fast mindfulness bandwagon, and getting back on the radical monotasking train.

So yes: read this blog post.

And have a fantastic, safe, fun-filled holiday break. I’m switching off data on my phone and not logging onto my computer for quite a while. Woohoo! Family, here I come.

Until 2014…

Madeleine x

[picture credit: jannoon028, freedigitalphotos.net]

What it’s like to run 100 km

Well, hello. It’s been a while between posts, for which I apologise. Today, though, I’m bringing you a cracking read. My partner Ciaran recently completed in a gruelling ultra-marathon, the 100 km Great North Walk. Far from a walk, this is a run across a challenging 100km section of this famous track – starting north, near Newcastle in New South Wales and heading south through the searing heat of the day day and into the night. What an amazing combination of mental and physical preparation and tenacity, as well as community spirit. You can read his original post here or I’ve included it in full below. Enjoy!

At 9 minutes to midnight on Saturday, 9 November 2013 I crossed the finish line at Yarramalong, a sleepy hamlet 90 minutes north of Sydney, to complete my first 100 km ultra marathon race. I set myself this goal since leaving Checkpoint 3 (81.6km) at about the same time the previous year, as a volunteer, heading home after an amazingly inspiring day. How the hell did I finish this year, when the conditions were atrocious and claimed many, many runners?


Feeling fresh as the race begins

“How are you feeling?” was the question I kept getting asked in the week leading up to the race. “Calm” was my reply and “I just want to get to the start line and get it underway”. I can imagine most runners were feeling the same.

It’s always a restless sleep the night before a big race and with this race it was no different. Driving to the start at 5.00 am the car thermometer said 25C. Not a great omen for the day.

Before I knew it I’d checked in at Teralba, a sleepy outer suburb of Newcastle, the starting point for the race. Wristbands on (one recording my number and one recording my weight), weigh-in, toilet stop done, compulsory pre-race coffee in hand and we were listening to the race director’s briefing. Lots of familiar faces in the crowd, both runners and supporters to say hello to, good luck, can’t believe we’re doing this etc. Every little personal interaction gave me a lift, mentally and physically.

Before long we’re making our way to the start. 6.00 am: we’re off. It was all a bit surreal but in a calm way and just relieved to be under way. Eight months of hard training and I have gotten to the start line injury free. Tick – first goal achieved.

A quick look at my watch shows I was running at 5:30 min/km pace. There’s no way I could run 100 km at this pace. Continue this fast and your race will be over very quick, I told myself. So I slowed down and walked up the hill out of Teralba.

The field became strung out quite quickly and I found a good rhythm, while chatting away to fellow runners. 7 km down and we’re on the trail. Kevin Andrews, from Terrigal Trotters, was there at the Wakefield trailhead, dressed in Elvis attire, cheering on the runners. He checked me in at the start and I seemed to see him everywhere on the day. Each sighting gave me a massive lift. Thank you Kev.

My hydration and nutrition was going well. My plan was to eat and drink heaps for the first leg. Thankfully I was able to do this as very often I can struggle to get food in. Passing under the M1 Freeway (at 10 km) it started to rain very, very lightly. I remember thinking “ah this is nice but what if it rained heavy all day?”  Ha – wishful thinking!!

15 km down and we’re crossing Freeman’s Drive, a major road to the Hunter Valley wine region. I stopped to adjust my left sock as I could feel it rubbing on my little toe.

Surely not a blister, surely not this early? Across the road and a quick “you’re going great” from a fellow Terrigal Trotter and we’re on the huge climb up to Heaton Lookout.  I was so glad to have done this section of the track as a training run 2 months previously. Knowing what was coming next is a huge advantage in any race. The climb is long and hard but I got to the top feeling fresh and ran to the lookout with a fellow training buddy. I took my left shoe and sock off and indeed I had a blister on my little toe. I stuck a band-aid on it and was thankful that I had a change of shoes to put on at CP1.

Through the jungle section, a particularly dense rainforest section of the run, no problem with a train of 4-5 other runners. Past Macleans lookout and onto the gravel road towards Checkpoint 1, 28.6 km. I came across a runner swaying as he ran. Really? So early into the race? I thought. I stopped to see how he was and he had run out of water. The only water I had left was in my hydration pack which he happily accepted.

Feeling fresh as I ran into Checkpoint 1. There was Elvis again aka Kevin Andrews. Support crew there. Everyone saying I looked really good, really fresh. Spirit boosted. After refueling and a change of clothes and shoes I took off towards the often dreaded Congewai Valley. I was walking most of the hills at this stage not because I wasn’t able to run them but as a way of conserving energy. It wasn’t a slow walk but a fast power walk about a 6 km/hr pace. I’d done a lot of this in training after reading somewhere of the importance of it. “Even the elite runners walk some of the hills” it said. Well I’m not elite so I’ll be walking a lot of the hills I figured.

Not long after Checkpoint 1 the clouds broke and a brutal sun came out. I remember suddenly being aware of this, looking up and literally seeing the clouds rapidly evaporate. I knew then a very hot Congewai Valley awaited. Still I was hydrating (or so I thought!) and eating well. I could feel the heat building, evaporating the sweat quickly and drying the throat.


Heading into Checkpoint 1

I managed to pass a few runners on this leg but always made sure to have a chat as I passed them and see how they were doing. Running along with one runner we got on the subject of billabongs along Congewai road and the possibility of jumping in one. Then we came across the greenish, slimiest billabong ever. It didn’t stop us submerging out hats in the foul water and putting them back on. Our need to get cool water on our heads was that great.

On the downhills into Congewai valley my left shin was causing me a lot of pain. I couldn’t run the downhills. Bugger. Just before I got to Congewai Road I caught up with a fellow Terrigal Trotter and GNW rookie Mark Hope ahead of me. That gave me a massive lift. He was doing it very tough though so I walked a bit with him and tried to lift his spirits. We tried to walk a kilometer, run a kilometer into Checkpoint 2 but the conditions were too oppressive. The temperature was 38 degrees in the shade! As I past the GNW turn off towards the communications tower, the route I would have to take after leaving Checkpoint 2, I could see runners walking very, very gingerly up the track. Not a great sign. Everyone was doing it tough.

I finally made it into Checkpoint 2, Congwai Public School – 52.5 km and the weigh in showed I had lost 4.5 kg! That was a massive surprise to me. I thought I was hydrating well enough. Apparently not. I sat down with my support crew and all I could say was “it’s so hot, it’s so hot”. I caught tidbits of updates and realized quickly that many people had pulled out, top runners included. I tried not to focus too much on this. I remember thinking “what if I was unable to continue?” Then I focused on all the long hours of training I had done, how I had been thinking about this race everyday for the last year, how shit I would feel in the next few days if I did not complete it. This solidified my reserve to continue as long as I felt a bit better. I got lots of fluid into me, including my not so secret weapon – hot tea. If you know me you’ll know how many cups of tea I have a day. It’s an Irish thing. Even on a stinking hot day it restores me physically and mentally.

After the first cup I began to feel just that tiny bit better. I put 100% of my focus on this feeling and it grew. Another cup of tea and I felt a little bit better. Change of clothes. A bit better again. And so on until I felt strong enough to continue. A kiss good bye to support crew [the spectacular – ed.] Maddie and daughter Eva. Bag check and gee up from fellow Terrigal Trotter Ian Temblett and I’m off. Eva and her best buddy Nina ran along the school fence shouting goodbye. Yet another boost to my spirit. Every little boost helped and added up to pushing me along towards my goal.

From here I walked slowly to the top of the communications tower. It was hell. Runners were either coming back down, crashed out on the track or walking soooo slowly. Half way up the climb I was buggered. I sat down and threw up 3 times. Somehow this helped and with renewed vigour I continued up the climb. I came across Graham Ridley, another fellow Terrigal Trotter in a bad way ¾ of the way up the climb. Cramping really badly and in considerable pain he was pulling out. We phoned the race director and Graham decided to head back down to Checkpoint 2. At that moment a top runner came down the climb, pulling out, heading back to Checkpoint 2. He looked pretty fresh and I was surprised to see him pull out. It didn’t stop me continuing, just hardened my resolve in a perverse kind of way. Stupidity or stubbornness? Probably a combination of both!

I finally made it to the top. I sat down with 2 other runners, nobody really saying much and had a banana. I was feeling much better now and decided to go for it and ran off towards Checkpoint 3. I had heard that a cool change had come through down the coast a bit and I was beginning to feel the effects of it. I shouted with joy at one stage, welcoming the cooler winds.

Somewhere along this section I realized I was going to finish the race. I remember getting a bit emotional and then quickly telling myself I’ll have plenty of time for this at the end. That I was wasting energy that my legs needed. I actually visualized pushing the emotion from my head down my body into my legs. That sure helped!

When I did this section of the trail, Checkpoint 2 to Checkpoint 3, in a training run earlier in the year I ran most of it on my own. I knew that would stand me in good stead on the day and I was not wrong as I ran most of it alone during the race.

Steep descent into Watagan Creek valley, still sore left shin but moving along nicely. Such a beautiful valley. The climb out of the valley was hard as expected but I managed to pass a few runners on the way. Pleasantries exchanged which always gives me a lift and I’d like to think they felt the same.

Thankfully the water at the unmanned drink stop at the top of the was not too warm. I filled up 2 bottles and continued on to the Basin, Checkpoint 3. A combination of running and speed walking got me to the Basin with the last bit of daylight in the sky. That became a goal during the day, get to the Basin before it got totally dark.

I changed my clothes again at the checkpoint. This was a good strategy that helped enormously on the day. I also refueled with veggie soup, tea, cold mango and cool drinks. Good to see plenty of Terrigal Trotters around, chatting to them lifted my spirits even more.


At Checkpoint 3 – survived the worst and ready to go


After about 20 minutes at the checkpoint it was on with pack, hi-vis vest, light and off for the last leg. I saw fellow Trotter Mark Hope coming into the checkpoint as I was leaving. I was so happy to see him make it as he was in a really bad way at Checkpoint 2. I felt and knew that nothing was really going to stop me finishing now. I’ve never felt so focused and sure on anything before. In what felt like no time at all I was on the road into Yarramalong, the 100 km finish line. Mark Hope caught up with me and we ran for a bit. He had more running left in his legs and ran off ahead. Rather than try and keep up with him, maybe make a race of it (dangerous thinking), I was just happy for the guy that he was going to complete the race.

I thought the road section into Yarramalong would be a breeze but it dragged on and on. But eventually I made it to Yarramalong, running the last kilometre then up the driveway into the school and under the finish banner! I finished the GNW100km ultra!!! Wow. Gobsmacked.




Thank you Ken Hickson, another Terrigal Trotter, for putting the medal around my neck and thank you awesome support crew Maddie and Eva. Finally thank you to the organizers, amazing volunteers and fellow runners for making this race what it is.


Relief, joy, pride… and dehydration!


Things that motivated me and got me through the day:

  • Prior knowledge of and training on the course
  • Pacing oneself – not going out too hard too early
  • Walking lots of hills to conserve energy
  • Knowing that no matter how bad you’re feeling this will pass and a period of feeling good will follow
  • Backing yourself/belief in yourself – in my case I knew I’d done the training and was capable of finishing the run
  • Having mantras – in my case “Failure is not an option” and “one step at a time” helped enormously
  • Have fun and enjoy the day no matter how crap you may be feeling
  • Unless you’re in a position to win the race, stop now and again and enjoy the scenery. Take some photos. After all the training you deserve this
  • Always focus on the positive, no matter how small, accentuate it
  • Block out the negative
  • Lastly it felt like something was willing me along to finish that wouldn’t let me fail. It was like every cell in my body has decided to finish this race and nothing was going to stop it.

 Food that got me through the day:

While running

  • Water in hydration pack
  • 2 x bottles of half/half water/sports drink mix
  • Bananas
  • Muesli bars
  • Protein sports bars
  • Jam/marmalade white bread sandwiches
  • Gels – Cadel Evans brand

While at Checkpoints:

  • Cups of hot sweet tea
  • Coke
  • Water melon
  • Mango
  • Hot veg soup

In short I try to have as much ‘real’ food as possible and less of the ‘unreal’ sports orientated food.

– So there you have it. What a great example of making fear a minority shareholder, and getting on what what you really want to do. Ciaran only ran his first marathon (42.2 km)  in January of this year and his first half (21.1 km) a few months before that. He has natural talent but he also plans thoroughly and works hard. Anything is possible! Brilliance.

How to Kick Your “Yes Buts” to the Kerb

Kick your Yes Buts to the Kerb

The wonderful Flying Solo published my article today. It’s about a destructive virus that’s out there affecting businesses and stopping people from achieving what they want. It is the Yes But, and it stands between you and what you want most.

Think you might have a bad case of the Yes Buts? Click here to read the article,  find out more, and learn what to do about it!




Image Credit: Stock Photos at freedigitalphotos.net


Artists Getting Jump Started

Here's Coral.

Well, you’ll just need to excuse the self-congratulatory post, but I received the most lovely testimonial from one of my wonderful $149 Jump Start clients, Coral Lee (that’s her in the pic, by the way). She is an artist who also runs some fabulous online artist communities. Coral blogged about our session – here.

Here’s a little of what she had to say:

Somehow, in just half an hour, she had me grinning from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat. I was glowing. I even skipped out into the lounge room once the call was finished. Oh yeah. I skipped. I skipped like a grade 5-er on their way to art class on a Friday afternoon on a warm summer afternoon. That kind of skipping.

How fantastic is that! It was a real delight working with you Coral.

So if you’d like to check out some of that good stuff for  yourself, you can do that here.



Play Survey – the results are in

The results of the very unofficial and interesting Play Survey are in.

And aren’t you a playful bunch! The results of the survey were quite delightful. A full 90% of you can feel playfulness either instantly or in a few minutes, and 40% of you work where playfulness as an integral part of a high functioning workplace!

Of course, a statistically valid sample this was not, taken as it was from this group – the people who I work with, who like what I post in the world and who are interested in living better and more joyful lives. Although I won’t be submitting these results to a peer reviewed journal anytime soon, I was heart-warmed about this:

I love what I do.

It really is just such an honour and joy to be spending my working days talking with, and creating material for, such switched on people. Thank you!

Here’s the details.

It’s pretty easy for you to get playful…

… but how often do you do it?

And what happens at work if you do play?

The kinds of words you came up with when you think of play were great:

Given that research clearly shows that playfulness is strongly correlated with creativity, flow and high performance, it is a shame that so people are still in workplaces which see play as only a break or reward. That’s MUCH better than not playing at all… but what can be done to integrate it into working life? As one of the main researchers in this area, Stuart Brown, says:

The opposite of work isn’t play. It’s depression.

I’ve seen a lightness and playfulness in very high performing organisations. But it’s definitely the exception to the misguided rule of “no fun = real work”. What about you? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Play – quick quiz time!


Get inspired

You know my thoughts on playfulness. Gotta have it. I’ve had a bit too little of it over the past couple of weeks.

I’ve written about it before (here).

Now I’d like to know your thoughts. I got to wondering how much you play, whether you think it’s a good thing, or whether you are simply baffled by my seeming preoccupation with the subject.

So, I thought I’d have a bit of fun with a quick quiz on the topic. It’s just 4 easy questions. You can click and complete it below or here. I would LOVE to know what you think.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.


I’ll share the responses in my next missive 😉

Thanks for playing!

Click here to take the survey

Exciting new-ness

Over the past couple of months I’ve been working with a designer (Troy Dagan at Paraphernalia Design) to get extra clear on how to share Real Brilliance with the world (that’s you). Troy has done that with super clarity and so I’m very excited to be able to launch the fresh distillation of what Real Brilliance is all about.

Real Brilliance is made up of some real ingredients:

Real Insight.

Real Insight.

As Albert Einstein said, a problem can’t be solved by the mind that created it. When we’re working on what’s bothering you, we gots to get shifts in your brain’s neuronal pathways – new connections, new understandings, and plenty of spine-tingling “a-ha” moments.

Real Inspiration.

Real Inspiration.

A-ha moments are great – but they’re not enough. You won’t change unless you’re sufficiently motivated. Let’s get inspired to do something different.

Real Skills.

Real Skills.

I love helping people get better first at noticing their thoughts and emotions and then to embracing (and when it’s helpful, changing) them. They re-connect with what’s really going on, they know what’s really important for them, and they use their skills to make it happen. Fireworks!

Real Support.

Real Support.

I give it. Sometimes this is a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes it’s a tough coach. Sometimes it’s a cheerleader. Sometimes all three within the space of about 7 minutes. This gives you the momentum to keep going for what you want – when it’s tough, and when it’s amazing. GO YOU!

Real Results.

Real Results.

Because really, that’s why we’re here, right? Your results can be things like more money, promotions, a job you adore, a nice big trophy… and they can also be things like more joy, more love, more calm, more passion. Ideally, all of the above.

Insight + Inspiration + Skills + Support = Results.


Thought for the day…


Today’s blog is a quick one. It’s a thought for the day:

If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying.

Perfection is unattainable. Therefore, it’s a false goal. Therefore, it’s a cop out. Set your sights higher – go for progress, not perfection.

That is all. Have a great week.

Get happy to get successful, not the other way round

I love this TED Talk from Shawn Achor.


Because it’s short (just over 12 minutes) and he’s funny. His premise is not news. His research confirms what much research is showing:

We don’t get happy once we get success; we get successful when we’re happy.

So how to get happy? Well, I have this pill I can sells ya…

Naw. But there’s various techniques and ideas that have been shown to work. One is the gratitude journal. Shawn mentions it in his talk. Write down 3 new thing that you’re grateful for, each day for 21 days. The sharper mathematicians among you will have calculated that that will mean you have a list of 63 things. They can be big (“Life on earth”) or small (“this cup of tea”). So long as you’re really appreciative of having them, they can go on the list.

Give it a try. What happens?

Radical Monotasking Report

I looked carefully at my multitasking and the results are in

The results are in.

Last Wednesday I did the Radical Monotasking 1-Day Challenge. A few folks came along for the ride via Twitter (#MonoTask – hello!) and through Provocateurs. We had a scoring system like golf – score a point each time you find yourself multitasking. (Thanks Shanna Mann for that one.) What I found interesting was just how hard this was. You know, I was aware of the science on multitasking. I knew we’re not designed for it. I knew that when we try to do several things at once, we actually degrade our performance in all of them. I also knew that this would be an exercise in mindfulness and presence. It would be about really doing what I was doing, and not being in the past, or the future, or even just sideways. And I practice mindfulness meditation pretty regularly, and more general mindful awareness every day (or so I thought). So I (hello, ego) thought this would be an interesting little exercise and a bit of fun.

And yes, it was those things. It was also a humbling experience. Because I became aware with VERY STARK CLARITY that I multitask (or task-switch) a whoooole lot more than I had previously realised. The urge to switch between windows on the computer and do lots of things at once did not dissipate as the day went on. Frequently while driving, I would find my hand on the radio dial, ready to switch on the music, before I’d made any kind of conscious decision to do so. I make it a priority to be fully present for conversations with my daughter. But I realised that is mostly for conversations that happen on my timetable. Last Wednesday, I would be fully present for a conversation with my daughter on her timetable for a few moments before getting impatient and trying to sneak back to whatever I’d been doing previously.

I also had a massive fail, because a last minute transport hiccup meant I either had to take a phone call while driving, or have my daughter miss a class she loves. So I took the call. Minus 10 points! I watched her class for an hour and frequently felt the urge to check my phone. So, instead of mindlessly flicking through it, I would decide consciously what I was about to do, then do it, then return to watching her. I did that 2 or 3 times. Which is kind of cheating, I think.

The highlights of the day were tea breaks. Usually when I take a break from desk work, I get a cup of tea and then am back at the desk with it within about 5 minutes, and back to work – not even noticing the tea as it slips down. Or I might take a “real” break and sit at the kitchen table with my tea, scrolling social media on my phone or reading a magazine. These breaks are not particularly restorative. Last Wednesday, each tea break involved making a cup of tea then taking it outside, where I sat in the sun and drank it. Bliss.

And, I was stupendously productive. I knocked so much off my to-do list, it was unbelievable. So – have I locked that in and made radical monotasking a habit? Why, no – no I haven’t. Why is that? Coz people can be their own worst enemies, that’s why.

So, how to get it into the grooves of my brain a little more? I think a regular practice to refocus would be good. Fellow coach Laura Erdman-Luntz is thinking of doing it each Wednesday. I’m considering that too. I think I would amend the rules a little to allow:

  • music while doing other tasks
  • drinking tea while working (while still mandating at least 2 proper breaks, plus lunch)
  • reading a book or magazine (but not computer/phone) while eating – but not all 3 meals of the day.

So, that would mean doing it again tomorrow. OK, yes. I will.

What about you? Did you try it? How’d you go? What do you think of the amended rules – any suggestions or thoughts? Let me know!

[Image by Suat Eman at Free Digital Photos.]