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2020 and beyond

Like the message in the sand, my goals are always a work in progress.

Actually, they are much the same goals I had when I started this blog – to be healthier, fitter, slimmer, more organised, declutter, have a stylish house and a gorgeous garden.

I haven’t achieved any of these! But I mosey on along.

To get more of the house in order and keep up with the exercise, I’m dropping weekly French lessons. I need more time to do some of this:

Slothing. (Sea lions at Santa Cruz where I was on New Year’s Eve.)

I know I will set mini challenges throughout the year. (Challenges is such a nicer way to say I have tasks or jobs or chores, isn’t it?)

The larger goal of saving and planning for the year off in 2021 continues.

I’m starting my new bullet diary today. The one I bought in Germany. Let’s see how long that lasts!

First up, I’m tracking my fruit and water consumption – aiming for two pieces of fruit and one litre of water a day.

Not to find ways around either goal immediately, but I googled it the sultanas in my bran flakes count as fruit. According to the UK’s NHS, they do. So with the orange, I’ve met the first tick in my bullet diary!! Yay!!!!

Happy new year to all my readers and especially those who comment.

Be micro-ambitious

Have passionate dedication to the pursuit of short term goals.

Taken from Tim Minchin.

Ha, that’s what I do.

Time for an update on my three mini-challenges:

Mini-challenge 1, the garage clean out. The outdated paint is gone. A cupboard has been emptied and now fits painting equipment and the few tins we’ve bought for paint jobs in the last couple of years. No paint sitting on the ground. Still much to go.

Mini-challenge 2, wearing a different dress to work each day. Completed, as documented here and here. I basically only wore dresses to work this year. I might cycle through my dresses again this term. But teamed with jackets and coats.

Mini-challenge 3, plant garden in front of fence and tame jungle around the pool. Front of fence garden completed.

The petals are from our massive camellia shrubs growing over the fence from inside our front yard.

Mini-challenge 1 and 3 will continue and now I’m adding three new mini-challenges:

4. Going to the gym

5. Raising sweet peas

6. Minimising and tracking food waste.

Time: Having a broad margin in your life

I read a reference to someone famous writing they wanted a margin in their life. I can’t remember who, and I can’t be arsed finding the reference (it was in Gretchen Rubin’s book, Happier at Home, which I have returned to the library) as I see that as wasting the margin that I want in my life. But I think it was that Thoreau fellow. 

Anyway, I read the reference and thought, in arm pumping style, which is so not me, “Yes, that’s what I want.” 

I want a margin to allow me to do or not do things. Things that do not HAVE TO BE DONE. Things that do not shout at me to be done. A margin to breath. A margin to laze around until afternoon in my pjs. A margin to blog or daydream or gaze out the window and think about gardening. A margin to sit in front of the fan and enjoy the white noise and background family noises and be slothful. 

I used to love drawing margins in my workbooks at school. 2.5cm in red pen, using a ruler of course -how could people stand the wiggly, crocked free-hand line? The margin gave space so the page was not crammed with writing. Of course it gave room to correct errors, if, heavens above, corrections were needed in copying notes or in first drafts. But I just loved the space for nothing but to be space. 

This makes me twitch. Too cramped.

Ah!! Much better.


I want a margin in my life to protect me from work demands. (And sometimes from the demands of homeownership and adult life.)

When I’m home I want to Be At Home. When I leave the office I want to clock off from work. 

My boss sent me a text one Friday this year at quarter past five saying he’d call me later that afternoon to discuss an issue. Really, in whose definition is after five, the afternoon??? Surely the afternoon is nearly up and we are moving into the evening? And it is Friday!

I responded by saying I was now socialising and it’d have to wait until Monday morning. He apologised and explained that he’d written the text before he got on a plane and the text must have only sent upon landing. Still, he planned to contact me after his flight landed and after he had collected his luggage and got to the car from long term parking and he was driving home from the airport. That would be way after 5.30pm. Not afternoon by anyone’s standards, surely?

And by discuss issues he’d off-load a heap of shit by discussing a complaint about which I could do nothing until Monday so I’d just feel annoyed all weekend. 

I am proud of myself for managing my manager. 

Other steps on building my margin: I haven’t looked at my work emails out of hours, since disconnecting the work email account from my phone. 

OK, I haven’t been totally free after hours. Phone calls. Thinking how to deal with some issues. Discussing issues with colleagues. But still I am doing much better at “clocking off” and feeling much better. 

I’m averaging about 45 hours a week at work.  Effectively I work non-stop, maybe stopping for 15 minutes for lunch, but usually working while I eat. Really that’s enough. I am not taking my work home. 

I’m ruling a margin around my life. 

PS. On searching for images on margins in life turns out lots of people want margins and it’s a common concept in self-help blogs and books. That’s me! Jumping on the bandwagon late in life. Oh well, better late than never. Some sites tell you “Five simple ways to create margins”, others how better to use margins. Pfft. Well, der. I need to switch off my connectivity, especially from work. And walk out of the office. Who’d a thunk it??? Anyway, I’ve gone with my metaphoric exercise book margins rather than the usual metaphors of a mindful, quiet, sunset, natural image. Way too obvious!!!

French Lessons

Whenever I share with friends some new little thing I’ve been doing, whenever I say, “Did I tell you I [insert minor new thing – not minor like I’ve bought a handbag, unless it is an absolutely amazing handbag or I’ve bought a super expensive handbag of the Hermes or Chanel price range and then it would be more about having thousands to spend than about a handbag, so not minor but more a major thing such as how I won millions – but minor like I’ve taken up yoga again (which I haven’t) or I get up half an hour early and go for a walk (which I’m contemplating)] I think of a scene in the sitcom, Will and Grace. I think of this scene even more so when a friend tells me of some new little thing they’ve been doing for ages. 

See, Will and Grace lived on the same floor of a block of flats (when did we start saying apartments like the Americans, or is there a difference, like price?) and they were close friends. They shared all the minor tooing and froing of daily life. Then Grace moved away. Catching up becomes a big thing. Grace finds out Will isn’t eating cheese anymore. She’s devastated. 

Grace: You gotta call me when you go off cheese. 

Grace and Will – though I prefer Jack and Karen


It’s not about the cheese. It’s about not sharing the little things, the truely little things. 

When you have a friend with whom you interact daily, say at work, and then you don’t cause you move, you stop sharing those little things. You wouldn’t phone just to say, you’ve started morning walks. Then the gaps in knowledge of all the minor things become bigger. When you catch up, you talk about the big things and not the minor things. 

Later someone might say to you, “I’m thinking of joining X on her morning walk.”

“What?” you think. “When did that start?” You begin to question your friendship, “I don’t know X anymore.” And maybe that little jealousy creeps in. “Why does this other friend know more? Is she a closer friend than me? Why wasn’t I asked to go on morning walks?”

Yeah, so I’m doing French lessons on a Saturday morning. Now you all know. 

After French lessons I’m going over to a friend’s place for lunch. A friend with whom I used to chat all the time but work and busyness got in the way. She invited me over for a morning cuppa but I had lessons and she didn’t know. Soon she’ll be moving north and there’ll be even less sharing. 

So tell me if you give up cheese. 

So ends the Year to be Lean

Oh yes, we know my Wardrobe Diet and decluttering has resulted in a leaner wardrobe and clothes residing where they should be, ie not under my bed.

And fewer plastic containers fall on our head when we open that particular kitchen cupboard.

But just had to drop in the gloat, I mean brag, I mean share, my waist has hit the healthy measurement according to the Australian Heart Foundation.

Yay me! My waist is now 80cm.

The Australian Heart Foundation says a waist of over 80cm may indicate a risk factor for heart disease. OK, on its own it is not enough data but I have been trying to get below this since I started. Look way back in October 2012.

Started at 87cm. Sat at 83 for months, then just couldn’t shake 81cm. But my 1970s eating plan seems to have done the trick!

So, my advice: cut the unhealthy snacks!

And happy New Year to all.

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2013, the year to get lean

At the start of this year I aimed to get lean: getting leaner in body, getting the house leaner, getting stress leaner, getting my budget leaner. It was this goal that prompted the year of buying no clothes.

The year has gone by so quickly. Can’t believe that it is time to reflect already.

Body: leaner than the middle of the year. Is it leaner than January? Not sure. I was 65.5 kilos then but I stronger now, so I may be leaner now as muscles weigh more than fat. In the middle of the year, following the eight weeks of incapacity due to back pain, I was just over 70 kilos. Either way I feel leaner now. And others obviously think I am too. Mr Sans is very happy with the return of my waist.

House: things have been going out and fewer things coming in. You all know about my success with not buying clothes and decluttering my wardrobe. I have previously written about the room you cannot enter. While it is not totally emptied and I have dreams to decorate it, the junk room has returned to a study. It is usable. You can walk into the room. I am not embarrassed if people go in there. Kitchen drawers and laundry cupboards are sparser and leaner. Lots of paper has left the house. There is still more to be done – at least another two years of slow and steady decluttering. Books are piling up again! But on the whole, my house is leaner too.

Stress: epic fail here. Though regular walking and massages, book club, menu planning have helped, there is still a long way to go.

Budget: weeelll…I haven’t done my taxes. But on the up side, I paid off a heap from my mortgage. Just over $38,000 off the principal. Hear that? pretty amazing. And all the money I saved from not buying clothes, meant I could pay off lots (over $38,000 if you missed it the first time) from the mortgage and take holidays. All our bills are up to date, we have no debt beyond the mortgage, and I know roughly how much we spend and when to keep our household running.

Yeah, I’m pretty happy with the year of lean. Makes me feel lighter just thinking of all the weight that’s left this house!!!

No no no November

Droptober is morphing into No no no November.

I know, I can’t believe my wit and verbal prowess either.

The aim is to turn my not eating fatty, sugary snacks into a habit. So I will continue to say no to eating junk foods as a regular thing. Sweet and fatty non-nutritious food-stuffs will be an occasional treat. (OK, with occasional satisfying of cravings.)

I toyed with the idea if saying no to alcohol, beyond the no drinking on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but decided I really didn’t want to. So I said no to saying no.

I will say no to being a lazy sloth and will make sure I maintain my exercise routine – one hour of Pilates, set exercises twice a week, and four walks a week.

Why is it easier to gain weight than it is to lose it?

And why is it so hard to regain a basic level of fitness but so easy and quick to lose it once you stop?

Those two unfair factoids are another reason I don’t want to stop my new regime; couldn’t bear going back to square one again.

But I am, as always, saying no to dieting. Diets that require you to buy, eat and prepare food you wouldn’t normally eat don’t work. You can last on a restrictive or different diet for a short while but you will go straight back to your normal eating patterns. Phewee to diets, I say. Can’t remember where I found this diagram, but it is so true.

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I am continuing saying no to clutter. I know I haven’t posted lately on clutter and my journey to get ride of it but I have been making headway. So much so that my kids call me the Queen of Decluttering and my husband, oh, hang on, this bit needs a new paragraph on its own…

My husband who has angrily and repeatedly rebuffed any attempt to thin his wardrobe, today actually said that he needed to get rid of some shirts that he no longer wears! Shocked? I know I was. He never actually made the next step of removing any shirts but the mere change in his thought patterns is cause for celebration. Of course, I didn’t react too much. Don’t want to startle the natives nor make him think he hadn’t come to the realisation on his own. Seems osmosis does work.

But here’s a bit of unwanted decluttering. It was a dark and stormy night. A loud crash was heard. Investigation found this on the floor.

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OK, it wasn’t a dark and stormy night, it was Halloween. But no one had walked past the table, there was no wind, no animals. Frightened? I was. And then the smoke detector beeped. No smoke, no fire. Spooooky.

Sorry I missed your birthday

One of my idiosyncrasies is I am always late sending birthday greetings. If at all. I think about the family member or friend’s birthday, often even buy the card or gift. Just don’t get around to posting on time, or at all.

A way to describe that with less spin is that I am careless and don’t think enough about others. Bad friend. Ow, that hurts.

Anyway, true to form I missed my blog’s birthday.

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Originally this was an experiment in blogging. Just to see what was involved and if I could do it.

Then I thought I would use it as a journal about getting healthy and fit.

I set some goals:

Sleep
1. Don’t fall asleep on the lounge.
2. Get ready for bed before relaxing on the lounge.
3. Get 7 hours sleep a night.

Fitness
1. Walk 45 minutes four times a week.
2. Pilates once a week.
3. Strong Women routine twice a week.

Food
1. Drink 1 litre of water a day.
2. Eat 3 serves of fruit a day.
3. Cut out white bread during week.
4. Limit processed, non-food food stuffs.

Treatments to protect my back
1. Osteopath twice a term.
2. Massage once a term.

Continuing to work on them. A lifetime of bad habits can’t be cured in a year, can they? Really, I wanted to return to my beautiful slimness. But even if I did, I know I can’t recapture the beauty of being young. Still, I am more conscious of needing to make healthy choices. Something I didn’t really does a younger me; taking for granted my health, my consistent slim body and my strength.

While I’m not leaner, my house is definitely leaner. All that tossing and sorting.

And I have learnt that online friends can be just as supportive, funny, warm and plain good fun as IRL friends. That’s been a big change of thinking for me. (“Get out and see your real friends,” I used to think. Well, you can do that as well as talk with, and catch up on the doings, of e-friends.)

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Looking after your back – Sitting right at the office!

My mother use to say, “Don’t sit on your legs. It will give you varicose veins.”

Turns out I was right. It doesn’t. But I wished I’d followed my mother’s advice. My poor sitting technique has contributed to my bad back. And we all know how hard bad habits are to replace, even if you know those habits contribute to pain and illness.

As each episode of back pain returns, it is lasting longer. And I am taking longer to recover. So here is what I am doing to help avoid back pain. Hope it helps someone.

The thing that is having the biggest impact is changing how I sit, especially at work. I have had a Work, Health and Safety Officer evaluate my chair, desk and work practices. I would have laughed a few years ago (What you need someone to tell you how to sit? Oh the arrogance of youth!) but the advice has been fantastic. OK, OK, it’s the same thing as my osteopath and my chiropractor and my massage therapist and my mother have said. And stuff I knew anyway, but now I am prepared to listen to, and heed, the advice.

1. No tucking your legs under yourself. Turns out this twists your body and because you tend to do it in one direction, you cause all sorts of tension and compensation!

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2. No sitting for extended time. This is a biggie. Do whatever you can to ensure you move at least every 20 minutes: Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to get up. Install a widget on your work computer that pops up little reminders during the day. You can get it here: Sit Right. It says things like “Walk to your office door” or “How about doing some stretches.” Stand when talking on the phone. Ask people if they mind if you walk together somewhere, eg the office kitchen or just down the corridor, while you talk.

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3. Adjust your work station so you can sit up “straight” (like your mother told you).
OK, this is a continuation of the first point. But that first point was a particular problem with me. I thought it was comfortable. Turns out is was causing discomfort and I had to return to the legs under position to ease the asymmetry I had caused in my hips by sitting like that. So what is sitting up straight? It is not hunching! And not leaning forward! And not having your hips and knees at angles less than 90°!

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My WHS Officer moved my mouse forward, raised my monitor, moved my phone closer. All only slight adjustments, but they made a big impact on how I had to reach and the stress put on my back. But the biggest change was having the chair at the right height. I now know to raise and lower my chair for computer use or desk use, so that I can sit up straight and not be hunched. For years I have kept the chair at the one height! I thought leaning forward was how you worked when reading and writing. Here’s a good checklist:

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Good thing about that Sit Right widget is, it also offers reminders about the way you sit! “Are your hips, knees and elbows at open angles? Adjust them now.”

4. Let the chair do its job. I really love this bit of advice! Do you perch on the front edge of chair, because you “know” you have to hop up shortly? But then that shortly turns into a long time. Do you sit in the chair but don’t use the back rest? Well, your back shouldn’t be doing all this work. Adjust the chair so the back rest supports your lower back, and the seat is st the right height. Then sit into it and let the chair hug you. You will feel your back release when you let the chair do its job of supporting you.

5. Don’t cradle the phone in your neck. Come on! Enough said.

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6. Don’t twist. When I had people to see, but they needed information that I had on my computer, I would face them but twist to read my monitor. Now I say, “Sorry, I have to look at the monitor.” And move my whole body to face the monitor. Same with the phone. I would answer it and twist my body to view the monitor. Dreadfully multi-tasking!

If you’re young, you probably haven’t kept reading until here. You probably thought, “Old age, not me, nag, nag, stuff and junk and this and things”. But if you have a sedentary job, don’t wait until pain forces you to sit right. And if you suffer from a back pain and work in an office, I hope some of this helps. It is helping me.

Sources/disclaimer: I am not a chiropractor and am not sponsored by a chiropractor. The Sit Right widget was recommended by the chiropractic practice I attend. The widget and all the images I have used on this post come from this site of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia.

What’s my challenge?

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I have been so focused on work and Dry July that I haven’t thought through a new challenge.

Yes, I had a glass of red tonight. Savoured it. And then, in an act of decadence, followed the glass with a bubble bath.

Mmmm. What to do? What to do?

Think I will review how I am going on:

  • Drinking water.
  • Getting to bed at a decent time, without falling asleep on the lounge.
  • Walking four times a week.
  • Doing the exercises set by the exercise physiologist.
  • Eating two pieces of fruit a day.
  • Restarting my version of the Strong Women exercises.
  • Doing things that Dr John advises for emotional well being: laughter, hugging, something for someone else or being nice to someone, spending time with friends, doing things you enjoy.
  • And of course, I am still decluttering one item a day. And not buying any clothes.

    We all need to refocus now and again to stop good habits sliding.