My Last 5 Purchases

As you can see on my home page, I am participating in a minimalism challenge. One of the challenges is to evaluate the last 5 items I have purchased – I suppose the idea is to be more thoughtful about how often and what I buy. I assumed that by last 5 purchases, the challenge didn’t literally mean the very last 5 – which were petrol, nachos, a scoop of ice-cream, sushi and two fifths of the fee for an escape room activity. I took this to mean bigger items – less consumable items – that were bought using my personal account. Here they are:

24/02/2018 – T2 – Sweet Dreams Tea

No regrets buying this tea. It is literally the only tea at home which has no caffeine, so there’s no guilt drinking it at night.

27/02/2018 – Skull Candy Headphones and a Headphone Jack

I am FOREVER losing my headphones. I’m glad I have them and I am doing my best to look after them. It’s gotten more expensive to buy headphones for my iPhone because of the unique headphone jack. Also I feel like I could be getting more out of my headphones if I got my act together to actually create more playlists.

02/03/2018 – Kindle – Book of Joy

I bought this because I finished my last book “A Spoonful of Murder” by Robin Stevens. I’m not reading this very quickly but I’m generally enjoying it and loving the quotes.

09/03/2018 – Cute food shaped pencil erasers from Daiso

This technically should’ve been a business expense, but it was so cheap that I decided to buy it from my personal account. I think the kids enjoy the novelty of playing with it. I bought it because one of the kids broke one that I got from Hong Kong last year. Sadly, another kid broke it again – ALREADY! I’m not buying another one.

24/03/2018 – Tiff XO Membership

Basically bought this because I finished listening to the “Crappy to Happy” Podcast and I liked Tiff’s philosophy to weight loss. Haven’t really used any of the stuff I have access to yet (as I don’t have access to much), but I will try as I’ve spent money on it already.

Anyway that’s it. Another challenge done and dusted. I don’t think I regret any of these purchases, I feel like they all add something positive to my life. I’m wondering if this might be a useful exercise to complete with my business hat on.

March Towards Balance: Week 3 – Imperfections

It’s 6.40pm on Thursday night. I’ve just missed my boxing class because I’ve had to attend to urgent business at work. I’m annoyed because I lost my perfect streak of attending boxing classes… not only that – I’m not happy with the quality of my stretch sessions this week (there was more than one!) and I wasn’t able to take public transport once this week (It was raining for most of the week). Still, there I was, standing at the front door to my work parking lot staring dismally at the “Productive: Habit Tracker” app on my phone and swiping left to say “skip”.

My first thought was “Did I not choose doable goals?”. I wondered how, with the few goals I placed onto the app I could still have an imperfect week. The goals I chose were meant to be completely doable, bad week or not.

But before I could go down the blame train and tell myself how fail I was. My colleague said something to the effect of “You know, you don’t always have to be perfect.”

My mind paused, and all of a sudden stopped itself from descending down the “I suck so much” pattern. Suddenly, it was a learning opportunity – all week I’ve been listening to a podcast called “Crappy to Happy” and one of the things that really resonated with me was their topic of “Perfectionism”  – Particularly –  How stupid it is to expect perfection from ones self; and how often we let it derail good progress.

So this was not a perfect week.

I didn’t leave work EXACTLY on time everyday – but to be fair; I’ve left earlier than usual.

I didn’t always eat the lunch I brought from home. But this week I actually had PACKED lunch from home to toss aside! I was prepared!

I had a chocolate biscuit – it was HUGE! – ate a couple of Ferrero’s – not in ONE go; but I still went to the gym twice this week and also ate my healthy snacks of baby cucumber and yellow tomatoes first.

I was rushed and forgot my keys – and still found time to meditate and stretch.

So what if it wasn’t perfect!

The important thing is to keep trying. Cause an imperfect week of trying is clearly better than an imperfect week where I’m NOT trying!

 

Learn to Relax

So this March, I have decided to complete a set of habits daily in order to ensure that I am able to achieve work-life balance, and essentially avoid burn out. My cornerstone habit being leaving work at 6pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and at 6.30pm on Thursday afternoons.

These last two weeks I have done exactly that, left work at exactly 6pm regardless of how much stuff I had left to do, gone home and started to attend to home things. One thing I’ve realised after doing this is how much time I actually have when I get home. I get home at 7, cook, eat, wash the dishes and am usually all done by 9pm at which time I’m wondering… hmm… what do I do now? I check the work bank account – which is still the same number as it was just before I left work at 5pm, I take out my  kindle and do some reading, even look at some ideas for a holiday in July, one time I decided to do some stretching.

It’s was nice – then the weekend came. Jeremy was tired and preparing to work the night-shift so I was given some much coveted alone time. I finished with my chores by 10.30am and began to feel the urge to do so me work-work; which I am proud to say, I did not give into. Determined, I started thinking about all the LIFE STUFF I could do, which became quite the overwhelming experience. The diatribe in my head pretty much went:

Do I go shopping? What do I shop for? Should I be doing something else? reading a book maybe? What should I read? Should I read one of those self improvement books or is that not relaxing enough? Should I meal-plan? Are there any meal planning apps? Which one should I get? What time is it? Do I have time to spend time on this? Should I ask a friend to come shopping with me?

Needless to say, I exhausted myself thinking. I found myself sitting on the couch for at least an hour paralysed by the never ending choices of what I could do with my free time as well as pondering the irony of having so much free time and so many ideas of what to do yet, choosing to do none. In the end, I left the house to go shopping.

When I got home and put away the shopping (I chose to buy only groceries). I felt the temptation to pick up work again so I sat down and painted my nails purple then sat on the couch next to Jeremy and stared at the ceiling until it was time for dinner; after which thankfully, Jeremy decided to put on a movie and stop me from having to think too hard about what else I could do before going to bed.

It’s only just occurred to me, now that I am making time for non-work stuff, how few ideas I have about what to do with all that time I’m setting aside (and it’s not even that much!). I’ve noticed how averse I am to planning holidays; I’ve noticed that I judge rest and relaxation as “trivial” and “wasteful”; that I often think to myself, “if you have time; you should be working”. I think that is why I started this blog. Because it’s kinda like work in a way.

That being said, I’m glad that I’ve resisted the urge to do work. It’s made me more mindful about my thoughts about work and rest. I’m learning that its ok to relax and I’m also learning that there are different ways to relax too!

 

Attitude of Gratitude

The NDIS independent price changes have come to a head and it’s becoming most topical now in my industry. It’s a frightening change, but suffice to say – this scares me, unbelievably so.

But after the initial panic of realising this change was coming – coupled by the fear that is spreading throughout the industry I decided to take a step back and think. This event is out of my control, what will happen, will happen and when it does I will have to make some choices; but it is important to be patient, and meanwhile learn all the rules so that you can make the best decisions.

So instead of being ruled by fear, I have decided to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Because in the end all I’ve got is me.

Things I have to be grateful for:

  1. Being loved and supported.
    Sure, sometimes Jeremy says the “wrong” thing when he’s trying to make me feel better, but you know, at least he tries. I have loving and supportive parents, a fantastic sister, wonderful friends and a good strong team at work.
  2. Myself
    I know it sounds conceited, but no one backs me like I do. I’m smart, resourceful, patient, brave and disciplined. I know that what ever decision I make I will win or learn. I never lose.
  3. Strong female role models
    There is no way I would talk to myself like that if I haven’t been influenced by strong female role models in my life and also in the media. The thing that comes to mind this evening is a little dramatic but it’s a line from the last episode from season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; where the villain says (and I’m paraphrasing here) – “you’ve got no hope, no friends, no weapons; what’s left?” and Buffy’s answer is “me”. It reminds me that I am in NO WAY at the end of my rope, and even if I was I still have me left.
  4.  “Crappy to Happy” podcast
    Honestly, I’ve been listening to it everyday this week and it’s reminded me of how important it is to keep things in perspective. It’s reminded to be mindful as it helps make better decisions, and to take care of myself so I can be of better service to others.
  5. That I own my own business
    At the end of the day I control the fortunes of my business. Things will fluctuate but that is part of what being in business is all about. I will learn to ride those waves. Owning a business is not something I have to do. It’s something I get to do.

Gee, this gratitude thing really does work, I feel better already 🙂

Bring on the storm.

 

 

 

Strategies are Not the Same as Goals

Today I drove to work; got a bit caught up in some morning convo with my little sister via whats app so was running a little late. Listened to “Crappy to Happy” podcast in the car… interesting topic on goals. I liked what Cass Dunn said about strategies not being goals; made me reflect on the strategies I put into place for this month. My goal was to just tick all the boxes essentially; but Cass mentioned that this can be ineffective as often you need to be working towards something. I think what I’m working towards is feeling in control of my work-life and my personal-life. I know that a lot of my time will be spent at work, so I want to get the most out of my personal time.

Lately I’ve been allowing work to bleed into my personal life; which is actually unfair because I have so little time outside of work! I think my goals around leaving work on time and getting out of work during my lunch hour have had a positive effect on my focus at work. It has also had a positive effect on my personal life. I’ve started to challenge myself to think of FUN things to do in my personal time not just “work” things to do (e.g. cleaning and cooking and grocery shopping). I think that this in turn is helping me to be much better at work.

I had a set back today where I forgot to return the keys at the school I work at and managed not to let it ruin my day, Usually when I feel slightly stressed out at work I go for something sweet and eat bad stuff. Today I told myself “no”. But that probably had something to do with the fact I had preprepared snacks already (courtesy of me being super prepared this week because I’m not stuffing my life full of work).

Overall I’m feeling really happy and I’ve really zoned in on my goal. To have a clear boundary between work and life. And if I can stop checking my business bank account before and after work hours I’ll consider this experiment a raving success.

March Towards Balance – Week 2: Less is More

Monday

I’ve already started my week on a good note. I went to work today using public transport –  (I have made it a point to take public transport to work at least ONCE a week) so that’s ticked off my list! I took some time this morning to complete a 10 minute meditation before starting my day so that set me in a good mood (since I only have to tick off ONE meditation a week too). Then, during my lunch break – all of which I spent OUTSIDE the office  – I went  off and did some full body strength exercises at the gym. I also left work bang on time today and got everything I wanted done.

I know that I’m only making very small changes and once a week seems like nothing, but you know what, a lot of my healthy habits now, started off this way… a little at a time.

As I think of all my good habits, I can’t help but give myself a high five for the habit of:

  • Eating breakfast everyday
  • Checking that I have my jewellery and wear it everyday
  • My skin care routine

Today I’ve added a couple more new things to my daily habit checklist. The first is doing a gratitude journal once a week – according to the podcast “Crappy to Happy” by Cass Dunn and Tiff Hall, completing  gratitude journal once or twice a week can be more effective than doing it everyday. To my daily activities I’ve added that I have to be in bed by 11.30pm.

 

March Towards Balance – Week 1: Making Things Achievable

Change is always a challenge, so when I moved to Canterbury with Jeremy in August last year I found that it was incredibly difficult to keep to a routine. I had to find new ways to get to work, a new schedule for meal prepping, and a new schedule for exercising. Lots of things fell by the wayside as the holiday season came upon us; not to mention all the new responsibilities that came with becoming  my own boss at the beginning of this year.

So now that the holidays are well and truly over and my new business responsibilities have become less new. I’ve decided to use March to do the following things:

  • Boxing once a week at 6.30pm on Thursday afternoon,
  • Leave work by 6pm (6:30pm on Thursdays)
  • Eat my lunch outside of work
  • A day of going to work using public transport and incidental exercise
  • 2 x 15 mins of light to moderate cardiovascular exercise a week
  • 2 x 15 mins of strength exercise a week
  • 1 x 10 min meditation a week.

I am aware of how small each of these steps are, but I think combined they have made the first week of March feel like a success!

So how did I go this week?

I am pleased to report that I managed to complete all but one of these activities (I did not complete a second set of strength exercise this week). Here are a few things I’ve learned:

Setting clear boundaries is a good for focus

I have found that setting a time for leaving work and leaving work during my lunch hour has made me focus more during my set work hours. I find that I am more mindful about how I spend my time during work.

Be flexible with how you achieve your goals

Rather than spending my train ride playing Candy Crush on my phone, I completed my 10 minute meditation on the train this week. It was the first time I have ever meditated outside of the house and I found it equally effective and a good way to start the day, Also, rather than completing my second  strengthening exercises (just because I have to tick a box) I decided to do some stretching instead. I have added one lot stretching to my list of things to do next week instead of two lots of strength based exercise.

When I completed my routine experiment last year, I found that making small changes to improve the activity as you go can make the habit last longer. This week the main change I’m implementing is upping my protein intake, particularly after a strength exercise.

 

March Towards Balance

A few days ago my little sister – who is currently in London, sent me a picture of herself doing aerial yoga. The moment I saw this I thought, “Gee, I really need to have a better work-life balance going on”.

Now don’t get me wrong, my work-life balance isn’t horrendous. I try hard to switch off during the weekends and I do absolutely no work stuff at home. None. But I do notice I’ve already got some bad habits that need to get kicked out.

Bad Habit Number 1: I stay too late at work.

On several occasions I leave work at 7pm. That is WAY too late to stay at work. By the time I get home I barely have the energy to eat, let alone cook. When I lived only a 10minute train ride away going home at 7pm meant that I was home at the latest 7:30pm depending on the train schedule. Now that I live a 70 minute commute away I get home around 8:30pm if I’m lucky and all the buses line up! I’ve decided that moving into March that no matter where I’m up to in my work, I’m going to start packing up at 5:45 and leave work at 6pm (6:15 and 6:30 on Thursdays)

Doing your best and working hard does not mean running yourself into the ground.

Bad Habit Number 2: Not taking my lunch break away from work

My workmates don’t like to leave the workplace during their lunch hour – partially because we work next to a mall and they do NOT want to spend any money, As a result, I’ve also stopped leaving my office during my lunch hour. Moving into March, I’ve decided that I’m going to start spending my lunch break outside of the office, even if it just means heating up my food and sitting down on a step outside my work.

Bad Habit Number 3: Not doing enough exercise.

Ever since I’ve moved further from work, completing exercise has become something I no longer have as part of my routine. Moving into March I’ve decided I will commit to:

  • Boxing once a week at 6.30pm on Thursday afternoon,
  • A day of going to work using public transport and incidental exercise
  • 2 x 15 mins of light to moderate cardiovascular exercise a week
  • 2 x 15 mins of strength exercise a week
  • 1 x 10 min meditation a week.

I’ve decided to track all this using my Habit Tracker on my iPhone. Wish me luck!

Sex Ed

Perhaps the most infuriating argument I have ever heard against marriage equality over the last couple of months is how it will “change” the sex education curriculum in schools.

I can understand how the thought of teaching kids about sex between two people of the same gender maybe terrifying to highly conservative thinkers, especially if these highly conservative thinkers, like most people, have little to no sexual education themselves.

I often find that in the last few months, those who bring up this argument often make assumptions as to what sexual education is and don’t complete any due diligence themselves. Perhaps, they are intimidated by the topic, or maybe they cannot think of sex as anything but lewd and lascivious.

Whatever the reason, people who shy away from talking and learning about sex miss out on a treasure trove of information about it’s relationship to biology, psychology, society and history.

Already, I believe that the way this topic is taught in Australian schools is deplorable (one only needs to spend a day in their local emergency room to discover all manner of dangerous, stupid things people put on, near or in their genitalia) but it is at the very least, something.

My experience of “sexual education” in school tended to be skewed to it’s biological functions. I found their descriptions of sex has highly perfunctory: “After you get married you may insert tab A into slot B; such action will result in a child, so don’t do it until you are ready to have kids.” (I went to Catholic school). There was only one solution offered to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexual diseases and that was abstinence as according to the Catholic faith any other form of preventing pregnancy is a sin and sharing such information to children is forbidden.

The irony, I find, is that the same information that is taught to allow people who know nothing about sex to prevent pregnancy can also be used to teach them how to succeed in getting pregnant. Information such as:

  • “If you want to have children do NOT put a barrier between the sperm and the ovum”
  • “The female cycle has four phases, follicular, ovulation, luteal and menstruation – having sex in the ovulation phase increases the likelihood of conception. The ovulation phase often occurs 6-7 days after menstruation.”

Similarly, information about same sex encounters can help highlight the biological function of hetrosexual sex. (i.e. Having sex with someone of the same sex will never result in a child.)

The incomplete way sexual education is taught means that many of us are unaware of the fact that ever since humans figured out the connection between sex and pregnancy we’ve been trying to figure out how to have sex without the consequence of children. Some of our historical solutions have been as unsanitary as using pig intestines as condoms and as cruel as exposing an unwanted newborn to the elements. Many of us never know this information so we can never appreciate how modern sexual education on safe sex practices has vastly improved our quality of life.

But of course people who are using “changes to sexual education” as an argument against marriage equality will ignore this, continuing to believe that teaching safe sex practices are the devils work, created solely to corrupt the youth into engaging in “unholy” behaviour. After all, it takes thoughtful reflection to challenge ones firmly held beliefs, and if one has chosen this topic as one of their “pillars” to support their argument against marriage equality, clearly their ability to complete thoughtful reflection was not a strong point to begin with. If it was, they’d have realised at some point that this argument was nothing more than a ploy to incite fear into a population so poorly educated about sex.

 

 

Why I Write

On the way back from Hong Kong, I was perusing the the magazines in the airport lounge and I came across a magazine called ‘Womankind’ (Aug-Oct 2017). This magazine had a lot of interesting articles and one of the things that stood out to me the most was the Editor’s Letter. In it she wrote:

“We expect to be gratified with sights, sounds and tastes. Nothing need wait any longer… to be instantly gratified means to shun activities that take time, discipline and commitment” – Antonia Case.

She followed this up by giving examples of what we do to make things ‘faster’ such as dining out instead of preparing a meal, watch a movie rather than read a book. We’ve even made catching up with our friends ‘faster’ and ‘more efficient’ especially with the amount of social media we consume.

The article got me thinking. Am I speeding through my life? What activities am I shunning that require time, discipline and commitment? It occurred to me that writing is one of those activities.

Constructing a blog post, writing a piece of creative writing or even a proper letter to another person is a form of self expression that takes time, effort and discipline to complete. I realised that I usually gratify my need to express myself with short messages and pictures on “Facebook” – or the aptly named “Instagram”. Rarely do I take the time, as I am now to truly share and reflect. So I’ve resolved to write more – because I believe that the only way I can truly express myself is to allow myself to put the time and effort into thoughtful creative pieces.

This October, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It is a writing challenge in which one has 30 days (Nov 1- Nov 30) to have written 50,000 words – preferably in a novel form (but to be honest, they’re not that strict). What appeals to me most about this online event is the community of writers that I am meeting and the new things I am discovering about myself.

So far I have constructed the outline of my first novel – I’ve come up with so many bumps along the way (and I anticipate there is more to come); it’s frustrating and annoying. In the last month I learned that instead of trying to force the story to go my way, I could to take a tangent – you know write something else – perhaps not about the novel and allow it to be less “perfect”. I was surprised to find that diverging from “The Plan” – especially when you are hitting road blocks – can lead to unexpected epiphanies, interesting discoveries and more creative solutions. I also realised that this is not just true about writing a novel, but also life. I’m feeling less anxious when things don’t go exactly according to my “Grand Life Plan” and I’m learning to take the tangents and make the most of them. After all… the trip to Hong Kong I took this October was one of my life’s unexpected tangents – and I feel like its already allowed me to hit upon some epiphanies, discoveries and solutions that I wouldn’t have found had I not allowed myself to take the journey.