Blogging & Burn Out

I’ve always wanted to maintain a blog. My dad knows I’ve started a few, but have never really gotten past the second post. Perhaps it’s because what motivated me to blog before was a general dissatisfaction with my life and the need to share that dissatisfaction.

This time my reason for starting a blog comes from a strong desire to know myself more and a need to focus on the part of me that is not the ‘work me’.

I’m obsessed with my job. I’ve always known that I would be. (For those of you who don’t know, I’m a Speech Pathologist). Even as a young girl, I wanted a career and the money that went with it. I still remember the shock on my high school best friends face when I told her that when it came to children I could take it or leave it as long as I had a good job.

Having a good job that I enjoy is how I defined success then and it is a large part of how I define success now.

Of course many things have changed about what I think a ‘good job’ is. As a child, I imagined myself as a doctor, as a teen I imagined myself as some sort of non-descript middle management type. I didn’t even know what speech pathology was until I started the course, and even then I was ambivalent about wether or not I wanted a career in this field as I did not like the idea of working with children.

After becoming a qualified speech pathologist I felt somewhat dissatisfied by the pay and by the lack of upward mobility. I hated that speech pathology was such a feminine job because it meant that there was no money in it.

Regardless, I stayed and continue to stay in the industry because in the end I love what I do and I am awesome at my job.

I found ways to engage in my job more holistically so I could stop focusing on the low pay and lack of upward mobility. I sought opportunities to learn more specialised topics (like paediatric feeding), networked (with Rotary and NSW Speech Pathology Australia Branch), and pioneered new projects (like HUSH and SPArty).

Getting all this stuff done as you can imagine was really time consuming and tiring, and I did all of this stuff while also attempting to provide quality therapy to a full clinical caseload and having a life outside of work too. So it is no surprise that I have, on occasion, burnt out in a pretty spectacular fashion.

The first time was in 2014. The stress completely knocked me out from doing anything – I woke up one morning with flu symptoms, an ear infection and conjunctivitis. I was down for two weeks straight.

The second time I burnt out was around the end of 2016. This came in the form of large amounts of fatigue. I would leave work, get home, sleep, wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety attacks – which I didn’t know at the time were anxiety attacks – go back to sleep again – wake up – go to work only to find that by 11am it was so hard to keep my eyes open, so I would make coffee – which would usually get me through until I could go home and go straight back to sleep again. One Friday, the coffee didn’t kick in; I felt that if I didn’t lie down my heart would just decide to stop functioning altogether and I would collapse. I had to sleep under my desk that day for as long as I could in order to be able to function long enough to take the train home.

After that, I went to the GP to get my iron checked. I always see these ads on the doors of public toilets saying women who are chronically low on iron have lots of fatigue so I assumed this was my problem. I was surprised when my blood tests came back telling me that my iron levels were fine. I was also told that the kind of fatigue I experienced was ‘normal’ – you know part of my hormonal cycle. This upset me, because I didn’t want to feel chronically fatigued once a month for the rest of my life.

So, I decided to learn about my hormonal cycle. I started with a short book called “Quit PMS” and it was here that I found the answer I was looking for. What I was experiencing was called Adrenal Fatigue. I felt relieved, now that I knew what it was, I could take steps to fix it.

I took on as many suggestions that the book gave me as possible given my fatigued state – I abandoned the pill (which was messing with my hormones), got myself a menstrual cup (because apparently the pesticides in the cotton tampons and pads can also mess with your hormones) and tried to reduce my stress levels by meditating and dealing with things that were stressing me out.

This blog was born out of that need to reduce my stress, a way for me to get out my feelings and share my journey on how I am trying to become a better, healthier person.

Having a blog has definitely helped reduce my stress and has also led me to many insights about myself. I found out that I like writing for an audience – no matter how small. Writing for an audience allows me to reflect in a way I wouldn’t have if I was just writing for myself.  It’s given me a way to be accountable for the ‘non-career’ things I do because I share them and therefore have to follow through. Writing a blog reduces my stress and allows me to slow down, synthesise information I’ve learned and move forward with purpose.

 

Kurnell

Just testing out the Flickr Widget! So happy with how it turned out!

Here are some pictures of Jeremy & I when we visited Kurnell on 16/07/2017.

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

5 easy changes I’m making to be greener

This week I watched an eye opening documentary on ABC iView called ‘War on Waste’. It’s an Australian documentary about rubbish and how our wasteful lifestyles are ruining the environment.

I was both horrified and enlightened by the things I learned and I am determined to make changes to ensure I am a better world citizen!

To make sure I set myself up for success, I’m going to start with some easy ones.

1. Recycling my soft plastic

There’s an Australian company called Redcycle that turns plastic packaging into a variety of useful products. You can put all your soft plastics into the bins at Coles and Woolies where you can recycle all your soft plastic waste. The Redcycle site shows you where you can go to recycle your plastic and what kids of plastics to recycle. I went to Coles in Westpoint, Blacktown. The bin was right at the front of the store.

Here are the kinds of soft plastic waste I chucked into the Redcycle bin.

Plastics

 

2. Stop using takeaway coffee cups

Discovered this week that takeaway coffee cups are NOT RECYCLABLE. Watch episode 3 of ‘War on Waste’ to find out why.

I was thinking of buying a ‘keep cup’ from Onya …. but I only buy take away Chai Lattes when I’m at work so I figure I’d save money if I just take the mug I already own to the coffee shop across the street instead of getting a new cup. They charge me less for bringing my own cup too… so double yay!

3. Finding out how to get rid of my waste responsibly.

I spend ages on the internet looking at useless stuff that helps no one. So I may as well look up some information on how to dispose of my waste responsibly.

Here are a some things I discovered:

Don’t throw nail polish, batteries & other toxic chemicals in the bin.
There are special ways to dispose of these things. Blacktown Council holds an event called ‘Chemical Clean Out’. Next one is on Sunday 15th October. Check out the website for more details.

I can donate my bras
The ‘Uplift Project’ donates bra’s to women who would otherwise not have access to quality bra’s. The project has shipped bra’s to many countries including the Philippines.

I can donate unused beauty products & jewellery
‘The Beauty Bank’ takes unused beauty products, and a variety of other little luxuries like scented candles and costume jewellery, packages them and gives them to homeless women. Their founder, Jen Armstrong has a compelling story of how her own experience with homelessness inspired this project.

I can donate unused feminine hygiene products
You know, like tampons, pads and panty liners. Donate these to your local Women’s shelter.

4. Taking better care of my stuff

I know this one isn’t a super obvious ‘greenie’ thing – so I drew a diagram:

5easywaystobemoreEco

 

5. Telling people about waste management!

Also not a super obvious one so here’s a very short comic strip depicting what happens when you share knowledge… it’s like mitosis!

5easywaystobemoreEco

 

I figure if it was our ignorance that contributed to the mess – it will take knowledge to get us out. And so I leave you with this message…

5easywaystobemoreEco

 

 

 

Posted in Eco

Experiments with Routines

My morning routine is a mess. I hit the snooze button so many times you'd wonder why I bother having an alarm at all. Deciding what to do when I first wake up seems to take up most of my thought space. I tell myself "it's early – maybe I should meditate or go for a walk, or stretch…" In the end I just decide to stay in bed mulling over the decision until time runs out and I have to rush out of bed. By the time I get to work I already feel tired and depleted.

I know that something needs to change. I have tried many, many things to make me 'wake up' earlier. Some of them have made it into my morning routine and improved it (e.g. I never leave the house without breakfast.) and others have been complete failures. Recently, I have been feeling at a loss as to what to do to fix this problem.

Then, the other day, inspiration hit. Another Functioning Minimalist podcast came to mind. The podcast was about 'Decision Fatigue'.

In the podcast, Sara discussed how decision fatigue impacts our self control and will power. The most interesting thing she brought up was an experiment conducted by Dr Jean Twenge on how little mundane decisions (e.g. what am I going to wear? What am I going to eat? What do I do next? etc…) can lead to decision fatigue and ultimately reduced self control. (I'm not going to describe the experiment here, if you want to know you can listen to the Functioning Minimalist podcast or type "Jean Twenge" and "Decision Fatigue" into google to get the peer reviewed journal article.)

Anyway, I wondered if I could apply these findings of hers to improving my morning routine so I decided to conduct an experiment. I do, after all, have a university degree in applied science 😀

Question:

How do I improve my morning routine so that I don't feel rushed and I get to work early?

Hypothesis:

Following a written list of pre-made decisions as soon as I wake up will make my morning run smoother, feel less stressful and allow me to get to work before or by 8.30am.

Things you need:

Phone with the a note taking app (I use Evernote),
Clock & train schedule
Watch
House & everything in it set up so it's easily accessible

What to do:

  1. Write down every single decision I need to make in the morning before I go to sleep.

    This is the sample of my list – I wrote down literally EVERY decision I could think of possibly making! I was surprised how long the list was!

  2. Wake up
  3. Follow the list
  4. Repeat every morning for the rest of the week (I wrote the list Monday night)
  5. Document results.

Results:

Blog

 

 

Added the following actions to list:

Make the bed
Check light before leaving bathroom
Open windows
Put on deodorant
Put on Perfume
Brush hair
Pack away breakfast dishes

Decided to use time waiting for tea to steep to pack away dishes on drying rack.

Arrived at work much earlier than expected that I didn't know what to do with myself for the first 30mins
?write down decisions for starting the work day

 

 

Up at 5.45 decided to write until alarm went off at 7… got bored so started routine 15mins early.

Added the following actions to list:

Take out cup from room to wash
Clarified order of meal prep as meal, snacks cold drink, hot drink
Packing away drying rack dishes

– snacks depleting – go shopping
– I need a hair cut
? I should choose my clothes at night

Experiments

 

 


Note: I wake up early – todays wake up time was 6:45

Additions to list were to refine the morning routine (e.g. my towel headband was super useful at keeping my hair out of my face while washing)

I extended some of my decision making into the working day and also into the evening with preparing the clothes I was going to wear the next morning.

Also added some more practical stuff like what to do if something appears to be running out.

Experiments

 

 

Catching the 8:15 train and arriving at work at 8:30am exactly is my new 'late'.

Discussion

As I was writing down my morning routine on Monday night, I was surprised at the little tiny moments that make up a morning. When I began following the list the next morning, I was surprised by how much more  attention and mindfulness I gave to each simple task. I found I was not constantly worrying that I might forget to do something (like check to see if I locked the door, or turned off a light). I know I won't, because it's all written down and I follow and check it. I was in the present moment.

As the days wore on I found ways to make my morning flow better and more efficiently. My confidence in the list grew more and applying new ideas to improve my morning routine became easier.

I also noted that the advantages from having this routine extended further from just getting to work early/on time. I found my mind more alert when beginning the work day. In fact, I began to make a list of things to do as soon as I get to work so that I'm not floundering around. I also came up with a prepping system for picking clothes (something made so much easier because I don't have that many clothes to choose from) and a system where when I buy groceries I immediately pack them into my snack boxes to take to work.

This experiment was another worthy exercise that I can see can be applied to other parts of my daily routine. I'm excited to apply it and see what more I can discover about how to be my best self.

 

This post was inspired by Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter's awesome book "11 Experiments that Failed". A brilliant and hilarious book to introduce science concepts to young children and a reminder to adults that there is a scientist in all of us :).

 

 

 

Falling in Love – with clothes I already own

I hate clothes shopping. When ever I go out to do it I don’t ever know what I’m looking for and I don’t understand fashion. I have a closet full of clothes yet still manage to wear the same outfits again and again and again with minimal variation.

I’ve tried to solve this problem before, looked at style blogs that tell you how to wear the same thing different ways, I’ve even considered hiring a stylist. I’ve gotten some marginally good advice like creating a Pinterest board of clothes I like  (Turns out; I like the way the Duchess of Cambridge dresses). Generally, the take home advice from all these sources was – if I want to make my current stuff look different I actually need to BUY MORE STUFF.

Which I wasn’t going to do… not just because I hate clothes shopping, but also because it seems a rather expensive solution to a really small problem.

Then, around February this year I was listening to a podcast called ‘The Functioning Minimalist’. Sara (the creator) discussed the idea of curating a wardrobe which was made up entirely of things you love to wear. These clothes would all match each other and can be worn in many variations. She called it a capsule wardrobe.

The main appeal of this idea for me, was that it suggested that I look at the clothes I already own. It’s first step? Clear the wardrobe and all my drawers of all pieces of clothing and put them on the bed.

Declutter

Step 2 was to put back ONLY the clothes I know I LOVE wearing.

As well as doing this, I took this time to get organised – I sorted out clothes into ‘definitely keep’, ‘maybe keep’, ‘to sell’ and ‘to donate’. I put away my sleeping clothes and gym clothes in different places and separated my winter/summer clothes (I’ve never really done that before since I don’t have a lot of clothes the things that get tossed into storage are mostly just coats and knits while summer stuff stays out all year ’round).

Now, with everything put away, and short list of all the winter appropriate clothes sitting in my wardrobe; I had finally gotten to  the fun part – trying on my clothes.

Declutter

I tried them on in different variations and tossed aside ones that  didn’t seem to flatter or have any versatility. I played around with colours even ones that I thought might not go together – with some surprising results. I mixed and matched and styled myself! This was an amazing breakthrough for me as I have never been able to do that before!

In the end I was left with my cupboard looking like this…

Declutter

When I counted, I had 35 pieces of clothing for my winter wardrobe – not including under garments or shoes… (2 coats, 10 scarves, 6 shirts, 2 skirts, 8 pants, 4 sweaters, 1 blazer, 2 pairs of gloves) . It’s not perfect, and yet I’ve never felt happier about my wardrobe than I do now!

This was such a worthwhile exercise. I learned about my personal style by looking at the clothes I already own AND LIKE. (Japanese scarves make my outfits look a little fancier). I have an idea of what kinds of clothes I need to buy (I’m looking forward to shopping for a casual winter jacket) and most importantly, I feel like I have a brand new wardrobe filled with endless permutations of outfits I’d like to wear. The best part? I didn’t spend a single cent to get it!

How NOT to Clean Your Kitchen

I enjoy having control over my environment. There is something incredibly satisfying about keeping things neat and tidy and ordered.

This being said, I’m NOT neatest or tidiest person. But I think there are many reasons to strive to be so. One of those reasons being that neat and tidy environments are usually nice places to work.

My kitchen is probably the most under utilised rooms in my house precisely because it lacks a sense of order.  I think if it was a bit more ordered, I’d use it more and I’d save myself a lot of money.

So, with this in mind, last Saturday I completed a food audit – much to the amusement of my room mate –

So here’s my step by misstep guide on how I cleaned my Kitchen Read more

Balancing Act

I suck at balance. For the majority of my adult life I’ve spent a large amount of my time on my career and career related activities. The idea of investing time in things that are not directly related to my career seemed counterproductive. So it’s probably not surprising to find that I am someone who’s burnt out pretty often.  (Trust me, when it happens it becomes a massive problem.)

 

I’m 30 now; I’ve moved out of home,  I’m eating better, exercising more, keep a gratitude journal, meditate every now and then… I keep a budget that I try to stick to, I try new things like pole dancing, schedule quality time with my SO and family and I make a fairly good attempt to keep ‘work’ at ‘work’ both physically and psychologically.

 

That being said, I still experience burn out. This can’t continue.

 

I suppose that’s why I’m writing this blog – I want a place to document my story about improving my health, fitness, relationships and my environment so that I can be happier and more productive person.