Archive | April 2013

May Goals for Self-improvement

I have been thinking about what I am going to focus on during the month of May for my journey to gorgeousness.

Reading over my past entries I was reminded that focusing on one thing a month works. I also re-read my entries on Dr John’s Great Aussie Diet. This diet was not just about eating. Dr John’s plan was ACE. A for activity, C for coping and E for eating.

While my weight would cry out for focusing on my eating, and I have dropped my strength exercises, I have decided to focus on making Dr John’s Coping strategies. My job is particularly stressful. A month of mental and emotional well-being can only do me good.

It will do good to re-read my summary of Dr John’s coping activities..

I am going to ask myself everyday, and make sure the answer is a resounding YES:

  • 1. Did I have a laugh today?
  • 2. Did I give someone a hug today?
  • 3. Did I go some deep breathing?
  • 4. Did I do a relaxation activity, such as read a book, have a bath, light a candle, dream, call someone and have a chat, sit in the sun?
  • 5. Did I do something good for someone else or be nice to someone?
  • (Dr John adds having a good night’s sleep to his list of coping activities, but given sleep was my focus for self-improvement in March and that my sleep habits are now good, I can confidently leave this off my list.)

    Remember making something a habit is the way to ensure it happens. These five will become part of my daily routine and help me focus on what matters.

    Today’s decluttered item = 2 beaded bracelets and a necklace bought on a holiday over 10 years ago, never worn. Off to a charity shop with them. As three items, they will count for three days’ worth of decluttering.

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    The Great Wardrobe Diet – a third of the way.

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    I am feeling oh so virtuous.

    Four months into my wardrobe diet and the only thing I have bought is a new bra. I thought I might need a new pair of socks for walking and Pilates but then I found one that I hadn’t worn as they had hidden themselves in the back of the cluttered sock and stocking drawer.

    I have not felt deprived nor have I felt dowdy.

    I have reinvigorated my wardrobe, wearing things together to create new outfits; wearing clothes I haven’t worn for a while, in some cases years; wearing clothes that haven’t been worn since trying them on in the shop change room.

    As I declutter and organise my wardrobes and cupboards, I like the clothes I have so much more. They look so pretty sitting or hanging without being squashed. And barring a few instances, it is easier to locate particular clothes.

    My weekends are more peaceful as I haven’t wasted time wandering around shopping centres, looking for clothes I don’t really need.

    Now that doesn’t mean I haven’t desired something new, something pretty. I saw a gorgeous dress in a magazine and investigated its purchase from the shop. They no longer had the dress, so that saved me. Really, I mean, I have enough pretty dresses. I am learning the feeling of enough.

    And now that winter is approaching I will have the opportunity to wear my winter gear – a whole new wardrobe without any shopping.

    Today’s decluttered item = more cheap bath products.

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    Unintended decluttering

    I did a mad tidying up yesterday to make the house look clean, tidy and gorgeous for some guests. It is amazing how more beautiful the house looks when there is no clutter.

    Of course you cannot avoid having things out that you use in day-to-day life but why only have the house looking gorgeous for guests? Surely I deserve to have the house looking calm and beautiful?

    The way forward is to put things away and have fewer things.

    Every little thing counts.

    Yesterday, I threw away numerous pieces of paper and this little torch which was never used and kept in a place where, even if we hadn’t forgotten all about it, would not have been able to locate it should we need a torch.

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    Each thing removed from cupboards and drawers full of bits and bobs, aka junk drawers, means the remaining space can be more organised and then things will have a definite home with drawers having assigned purposes. Rather than saying, “Oh, just pop it in one of the drawers or shelves”, we will know exactly where our things live and where to find the things when we need them, let alone knowing exactly what we own!

    Good plan!

    It’s only a button.

    Another instance of “don’t you hate it when” brought to you by Lucinda.

    A button comes off a top. Not any old button. A button specially made for the top. But that’s OK as the top came with a spare for just this scenario. Unfortunately you put the button somewhere safe and now you can’t remember where that was. So you put the shirt somewhere safe until you can locate the button. And weeks later you find the button while looking for something else. (Cause you forgot all about having a top with a missing button and that you were going to locate the spare.) But now where’s the top? OK, so let’s put the button somewhere obvious because the top will turn up soon, after all, it’s in the cupboard with other tops, how hard can it be to find? Top turns up and you just know the button is somewhere but where? Several hours go by, looking in all the spots you put special little things and spare buttons. You turn up with all manner of spare buttons previously put somewhere safe but not THE ONE.

    This is not the time to give up. You know if you admit defeat and throw the top away, the button will turn up the day after rubbish collection.

    This is the time to organise your sewing basket. You don’t have one! Doesn’t everyone have a sewing basket? Even none sewers?

    I don’t sew but I mend clothes. Well… I can stretch to replacing a button, fixing a seam and a hem, replacing elastic in PJs, and taking in pants with a dart. My stitches wouldn’t pass my old Textiles teacher’s eagle eye but my family of males think I am nothing short of amazing. Rumplestiltskin has nothing on me.

    Time for a diversion. I sort my sewing basket and put ALL the buttons I find in a container in the basket. (Well, all that I find, but not THE ONE obviously.) I containerise (love the freedom to turn nouns into verbs) my threads and pins. I throw away rubbish and old cross-stitch patterns.

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    One last look for said button. Yes, success!!! With my important papers! Of course! Several hours wasted but at least I used up the time I was going to spend scrubbing the shower. So my day wasn’t wasted – I got out of that job!

    You know they are right but don’t you just want to slap people who say, “Everything in its place and a place for everything”?

    Lesson learned!

    Oh dear! My weight.

    I received a wonderful compliment yesterday from a friend while I was on my walk.

    She asked if I had lost weight and said, “You look like you have lost 5 kilos.” (My emphasis. Hey, it makes me feel good and it’s my blog.)

    I told her I didn’t believe I had but I hadn’t stepped on the scales for a while. In fact I know I’ve put on weight but thanks anyway.

    So… I’ve been walking regularly, sleeping well, drinking at least a litre of water on top of tea, going to Pilates and yoga. I have dropped the weights but will resume these exercises tomorrow.

    My belly is growing. I blame menopause. I suggested I might have oestoparosis and that as a result my spine has shrunk and my belly is squashing together and looking bigger. Sounds sort of scientific to me.

    Mr Sans put it as bluntly as Michelle Bridges. (Remember her here?) My wonderful, supportive, loving husband said, “Lucinda, you eat too much.”

    Well, yes, but you bought all those Easter bunnies. That are still there much in the manner of Norman Lindsay’s magic pudding, even though I just have to eat a whole bunny at one sitting. (I try not to sound to defensive.)

    OK, it is not all Mr Sans’ fault. I have been bad with bikkies, and salty snacks, and fruit (as in way too many of the first two but not enough of the last one.)

    As this blog was firstly meant to track my amazing body transformation to a svelte, fit, toned glamour, I better get back on track.

    So knowing I have been avoiding the scales, and sure I have put on weight, I ventured to the scales this morning. Back up to 68 kilos. Bugger!

    I know I have previously written that scales should not be the gauge by which you measure your success and written about the Australian Heart Foundation’s measurement. But, quite frankly I couldn’t be arsed at the moment to take any other measurements.

    Think it is time to watch what I put in my mouth!

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    Ooh La La A French Romp by Ann Rickard

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    This is not the book to read if you have to go back to work after the weekend. I loved her first book, Not Another Book About Italy. And this book had me from the first chapter which was when I sent a text to the friend who lent me the book, asking when we were going to Provence.

    Lest I sound like a complaining old biddy, I enjoyed my time in Alice and I appreciate not everyone gets to travel as I do. And I don’t wish I hadn’t done the trip to Alice but the tour in this book would be a dream. And the food!!! Unlike the food in her book on Italy and Greece, the food in Provence sounds divine.

    I now have another few places on my wish list. I soooo want to go.

    If you expect a book on a tour to be all dates and flat descriptions, you will be disappointed. The characters and dramas in this account bring the book to life. Read it. I am sure you will want to join Ann on a tour. I do!

    Travel mysteries of the Australian Outback

    Some as yet unsolved mysteries:

    Along the road in the Outback you will see large piles of brumby manure. They seem to return to the same spot and with accurate aim, add to the pile. Why is it so? And how do they get their aim so good?

    Second mystery: why do European travellers wear socks with their sandals and thongs? And wear singlet tops and no hats in the middle of the day in extreme heat? And sun bake, again in the middle of the day in the tropics?

    Third mystery: where do the flies go when you are not around? You get out of your car in the Outback, you can’t see any flies but you are immediately dive-bombed by flies. See this photo.

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    The spots on the hat and T-shirt are flies, yet you don’t see any just randomly flying around or sitting on rocks.

    And another: Hotels supply long life milk for the tea and coffee in your room. It used to be fresh milk. I understand why they changed to long life but … Why do they put the long life milk the fridge?

    And finally: Why do hotels give towels for every person staying in a room, but only 1 face washer?

    Odds ‘n Sods aka Having a Real Look Around the House?

    Just rewarding myself with a cup of tea after a bit of a clean up. What did I spy? An empty tin of tea bags. Mr Sans brought it home and thought it might be useful. We already have tins we use, AND we were given gifts of tea – loose leaf and bags – in decorative tins. This one is not attractive and while it may be useful for other things, I know if I put anything it the tin, the stored goods will remain unused as my family suffer from domestic blindness – if they can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. Opening a tin is one step too many. Binned item!

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    We can look at our own home or cupboards and not really see things. Things sit there, or are hidden at the back of cupboards. Having a real look at somewhere you feel you have already decluttered or organised, can often reveal other things that can go. This is so true as you simplify and declutter. The more you do, the more you realise you can let go.

    It is time to put the winter blankets on so as part of my clean-up I had another look in the linen press. Where did this come from?

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    Probably from a conference. As neither Mr Sans nor I partake in coffee, and even if we did we wouldn’t drink it on the run, this item will go to a friend who “just has to” have a coffee while driving to work. The cup was still in its box, so does that count as two items?

    On the matter of the coffee craze, I much prefer tea. Such a more civilised drink. The making of it is quiet, the pouring and the crockery so more refined, and the smell so less overpowering.

    A thorough dusting and vacuum ensued as part of the clean-up. I had a decoration of bamboo with lights entwined that stood in the corner. It made vacuuming difficult and wasn’t easy to dust but it just was something that sat there. We neither noticed it nor thought about it. A few fronds had snapped; it was no longer attractive. So I decluttered it. First I removed the lights. They still work so can be used at Christmas.

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    So have another look around your house and in your cupboards. You may find something that can go.

    Now it is time for a walk. I haven’t forgotten my original challenge: getting healthy. 2013 is the year to get lean: me, my house, my paperwork. Wish my body was doing as well as my home.

    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

    Wow! This book is brilliant! You know when you read a totally original tale, told in a totally original way? This is one such book. It is brilliantly disquieting.

    Does the central character, Ursula, relive her life? Or is she suffering some psychic phenomena? Or is this about the author’s control of her characters’ fates? Or is this about the creative process and constructing and manipulating a narrative? Or is it about our, the reader’s, desire for a story with a happy ending? And are happy endings possible? After all everyone has to die. Each liberation from an unhappy fate for Ursula causes a different life to be led but other traumas occur. And even though we know all is made up, we still feel for the characters and empathise and care more for some. (Why doesn’t the evil brother ever suffer?)

    Despite the changes to events, the characters remain true to their nature, and the relationships endure. And some little twists or items repeat in different versions of the story, such as the golden cigarette case.

    But it is not just the tale or the themes. Atkinson has a wonderful turn of phrase. I love this to describe the slow, languid summer: “It was beautifully hot and time treacled forward.” The image created from turning treacle into a verb is so sensual and gives the physical sense of how summers seem so long when you are young. And the recurring motif when darkness that comes to Ursula as she dies, (“Darkness fell” ends many chapters), even grows weary to the author, “Darkness, and so on.” concludes one reiteration of the Armistice to WWI.

    The details of the blitz and pre-WWII upper middle class domestic life and the countryside are so vivid and add to the realness of the novel. I love reading something and feeling that the author is writing with researched authority and accuracy. I love learning from reading novels, not just about the human condition, or themes, but also historical details. Funnily enough, the idea of reading vs studying literature is raised by Ursula and her mother.

    Read this review by Alex Clark in The Guardian. She covers the themes and strands of this book so well.

    (And can you tell that it is holidays for me? Time to read and travel. Things that make up a gorgeous life for me!)

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    Rumpole’s Return, Rumpole for the Defence and Rumpole’s Return by John Mortimer

    The Trials of Rumpole and Rumpole for the Defence are short stories. If you watched the TV show you know the character – a slightly grumpy but quick-witted and good-hearted barrister. Crime shows have always been popular but this series was less about solving crime and more about how Rumpole defended his client.

    Each chapter is like watching an episode of the series. You can hear Leo McKern’s voice so closely has Rumpole become Leo. Or Leo him?

    Unlike the other two, Rumpole’s Return is a novel. And involves more detective work. But again it is Rumpole’s character that is the key. As the sole female barrister in their chambers says, Rumpole is the true radical as he never sells out and is never obsequious.

    These books were perfect entertainment and great to dip in and out of while on holidays. I am inspired to watch the series again on DVD and I will definitely read more.

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