Here we are a year later

Gosh 12 months just zooms by doesn’t it?!

It’s been interesting, well, interesting to me I suppose haha. We had a sad loss early in the year & a lot of last year was taken up with preparing for that. It isn’t my story to tell so I will leave it at that. Work for me has been quite an experience & I have found myself fighting harder than ever to maintain that elusive work-life balance. To be blunt, I havent found it & Im entirely tired of trying.

My anxiety has made far more appearances in the last 6 months than I would have liked & I’ve had to employ all the tricks in my ‘deal with it’ bag just to get through some days & weeks. Luckily I am surrounded by an amazing team who supports me & I am also proactive about management myself.

Late last year I joined a local gym & this had been one of the very best things I’ve done. I have lost a lot of weight, got so fit & signed up for challenges I never thought I would. The good news is I still have a long way to go on this fitness journey so I’m sure to keep this space updated about that.

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Before Miss Muddy 2016

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After Miss Muddy 2016

I have so many ideas for this little blog space & it has frustrated me so much to go through each weekend without sewing, cooking & creating so that I could post here. I still post on Instagram, but it isnt the same as here.

So I guess what Im trying to say is, I’m back, it’s been a crazy year BUT I’m dedicated to get back here & post more. So dedicated that I’ve given my job notice that I will be finishing up on the 30th September & taking a 12 month leave of absence.

Say what?!?!

Yep, if the last year has taught me anything, it’s taught me that life is precious; you only get one go at it; the people in your life ‘make it’ & it won’t slow down unless I actively take steps to slow it down.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by good people, people I adore & people who deserve so much more of me & more of the ‘present’ me; which is the very best version of me. My parents are well, I want to spend time with them when they are well & we can all travel together & make some great memories.

More than anything MacroBoy & I want to spend time with each other, making our home more productive, working out what we need to live; not just from a monetary perspective but from a health & wellbeing perspective. I’ll still be doing some paid work (we still have a mortgage to pay & you know, we need to eat haha) but it will be much less than what I’m earning now & that is ok as it also comes with a whole less stress & part of what we want to find out is what we really ‘need’ to earn to feel comfortable.

Ok I’ve rambled on sufficiently, so lets pop in some pictures of what we’ve been up to these past 12 months (the fun stuff). Hopefully more of the same fun, plus plenty more will be coming up here.

Just need to get through 11 more weeks of work……..

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8 years of marriage & 13 years together this year

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Organisation – The KonMari Method – Clothes, Shoes, Bags – The 1st Phase

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Mum, what have you done?!?!

One thing I put on my ‘goals’ list this year was to read more & in keeping with being more aware of our spending (due to the whole ‘one income household’ issue) I decided to sign up to our local library & borrow as much as I can rather than buy books on Kindle.

One of my other goals was to further declutter our home & lives in 2015. Specifically I said I wanted to get rid of 365 items & I think at last count, this was around the 190 mark. Let’s just say, over this past weekend, I completed smashed this goal for the entire year.

So where am I going with all of this? Well, let me explain. One of the books I’ve borrowed recently was ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by famed Japanese organising consultant Marie Kondo. I was curious about it, as it had flitted across my radar a couple of times this year so I put my name on the hold list (with 50 other people mind you) and lo & behold, I had my hot little hands on a copy eventually.

I won’t give a book review here, but I will say, I enjoyed it. I think you have to enjoy the book through the lense of a small understanding of the Japanese people & perhaps some of their ‘quirkiness’ & understand they work with extremely small living spaces in a lot of instances & that they are in my humble opinion quite a consumer driven society (ahhh, aren’t we all living in one of those).

Needless to say, I was inspired after reading the book & set out to tackle the first set of categories, which is clothes. KonMari breaks this down into the following categories:

Tops, Bottoms, Clothes to be hung (suits, coats etc), Socks, Underwear, Bags, Accessories, Clothes for Specific Events (swimming, uniforms etc) & finally, Shoes.

So that is exactly what I did & in the spirit of sharing & potential public shaming of myself, here is a few before photos.

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What I find particularly alarming (which I shouldn’t have, because KonMari does highlight in the book that you will be surprised by what you own) was just the sheer amount of clothing items I have (had). Especially as I have really focused on culling my clothes, shoes etc pretty consistently over the last 2 years.

So what are the key things I took out of this?

  1. Kon Marie is right when she recommends you ‘lay all your possessions in the category out’ to see what you are really dealing with. Take a moment to think ‘oh shit, why did I start this’ & then get into it.
  2. That you do go by category (i.e. tops, bottoms, etc) rather than just haphazardly with whatever you pick up.
  3. Designate a space for every item you own. You can’t expect to keep your possessions tidy if every single one doesn’t have a home. I’ve never thought about it before, but this really clicked with me.
  4. This really only took me half a day to do – Once you start, it is easier than you think & it is scarily satisfying.

Here are the after shots – I would suggest I still have too many clothes compared to some & others out there will wonder how I will cope with so few items of clothing. Each to their own I guess.

IMG_0068The sleepwear drawer

IMG_0065 The Workout Wear Drawer (who knew I was so drawn to black, blue & white for exercising haha)IMG_0078 The Lounge Wear Drawer (a.k.a. the I wanna be a bum drawer)IMG_0076 The Knits & Jeans DrawerIMG_0075 The Socks & Stockings DrawerIMG_0069 The Tank Top Drawer


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And finally, the WIR – So much space & everything has a home – Officially in love

I will save you any pictures of the underwear drawer, but I will say that is also significantly smaller than it was. With only stuff I love, nothing with broken hooks, dodgy underwires etc. What a revelation!

And here is the bed, that was hiding under all those clothes, just for pure proof purposes that I didn’t just pack some drawers & leave it all on the bed. I ended up getting rid of 7 bags of clothes, shoes, handbags, etc. Five of those will be donated with the remaining two to be thrown away.

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Next weekend is books. This will be super tough as I do become very attached to those bound bits of paper with ink all over them, but I feel that KonMari has provided some very sound rationale for me to reduce my book stocks significantly, so I will come back with another post shortly.

Future Dreaming….

MacroBoy & I went on our first ‘big’ trip in the caravan just after Easter.

We visited the beautiful town of Bright in the Victorian high country & stayed @ a caravan park right next to my parents for 5 nights. It was very ace. The best bit was having our two dogs with us & we are looking forward to that becoming a regular thing.

I now cannot wait for our next mini-trip to Halls Gap. We will be staying here & I’m not going to lie, the wood-fire heated pool has got me intrigued & I can’t wait to dive in.

After 5 days in Bright, we popped home for one night then headed of to Lakes Entrance for 3 nights for more relaxation.

Whilst Bright was pure relaxation as can be seen in the below pictures, Lakes was always about ‘planning’.

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Each year, MacroBoy & I try to get away for a few days, just the two of us, often quite out of touch with the rest of the world & really relax but we also spend some time reflecting on the year just gone & talk a bit more about where we are at that moment & perhaps if there is anything we want to change.

Last year, we did just that. In July we headed off to Erica to Silver Top Cottages & on a side note, if you ever want to get away, this place is just completely divine. During that trip, we made the decision that MacroBoy would request to go down to 4 days per week at his employer of 7 years. Luckily, we knew his employer would probably not come to the party & if they did, change his contract to be very much in their favour. Which of course, they did, so on that trip, we also decided that he should seriously look at study options & ceasing work altogether. And that is just what he did a mere matter of months later.

So off the back of the success of last years trip, off we went to Lakes Entrance. We knew what the main theme of our discussions would be, however I don’t think either of us thought we would nail down so many aspects of our next ‘dream’.

The funny part of all of it, as if it were a sign, we also happened upon a ‘kit home’ builder & their display home on the way home from our trip. That display home ticked pretty much every one of the boxes we had put together on our trip.

So what is the general summary of our little planning session you ask? Well, it’s a 2 year plan & it involves us selling up where we are now & purchasing about an acre of land on the other side of Melbourne, much closer to Bendigo.

Essentially, it’s a move ‘to the country’. I am originally from the bush & I love the city, but as each year passes, we both feel a strong pull to a smaller community where we can get involved & follow our passions of growing our own food, making more ‘things’ with our own hands & feeling more connected to earth & community in general.

So we appear to have identified a broad area we want to move to, we have found the home we want & we have a few pages of things we want the house to do for us & even more ideas of what we want to do with the land. Including dreams of a market stall business eventually (not for anything other than community involvement & covering of costs).

We love where we live now & 4 years ago we built our dream home & honestly, 4 years later we still love this house as much as we did on day 1, if not more. However, we built this house with a different life in mind & the location was a compromise of ‘rural fringe’ living & close enough to city & schools. Now that children aren’t part of our future, we have decided we should follow this dream much sooner than anticipated & I am so so grateful for the endless possibilities that are now in front of us.

The beautiful part of this whole process is that I will still work where I am now. Anywhere we are considering moving will allow me to comfortably commute via the regional train service to & from the city of Melbourne which is a must, not only as the ‘bread winner’ of the family but also because I really do love my job & I’m not ready to give it up.

So that is our news. Lots of possibilities, plenty of inspiration & no rush to get there, but I know we will get the dream, as there has never been anything we have set our minds to that we haven’t achieved, so I can’t see this being any different.

We’re coming up to 12 years together soon & I am so excited to see what the next 12 could bring us.

GOALS & HOPES FOR 2015

So it is that time of year where I start seriously looking to the next year. To be very honest, 2014 has been good to MacroBoy & I. We have really started to line up some of our bigger personal goals & by organising those aspects we should be able to really use 2015 as a year to finally hit those goals.

So I have a lot of goals for 2015. Even though the list below is huge, it is really just a conscious stream of thoughts that I had when I was relaxing over the last week & a half while I’ve been on holiday.

First up is the boring stuff, the professional goals. I couldn’t possibly work in a big corporate & not have a professional development plan.

Professional

  • I want to learn to listen with the intent of understanding rather than listening with the intent to reply. As a manager, you almost start forming your reply before someone has finished their sentence as you know almost everyone is looking to you for an ‘answer’. I don’t want to be the one looking for & giving the answers all the time, I want to hear what the person is saying & really understanding where they are coming from.
  • I want to understand where my worth comes from. How do I add value? This is big, huge, epic. This will be such a challenge but I feel if I can really articulate how I add value & where my genuine strengths lie then I will be much better placed to move on to other roles that interest me in the future.

Cooking & Food

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  • We have so many amazing cookbooks from a wide variety of cooks & chefs. Our goal is to cook one recipe out of a different cookbook every week of 2015. This will require a little bit of planning but it’s definitely doable & I’m looking forward to eating 52 new & different meals.

De-cluttering

  • This is going to be tough, but I am going to get rid of 365 things in 2015. I am going to try to make them meaningful also (i.e. not tiny things, like socks haha). I want the main focus to be on either donating or giving away before simply throwing an item away. This will be a genuine challenge as I have actually spent 2013 & 2014 getting rid of quite a few possessions so I think 2015 will be the year where I say good-bye to a lot of things I’ve been ‘hanging on to’ during the culls of the last couple of years.
  • I am already ahead of the game here with a donation pick up scheduled for 8th January which will result in 87 items being donated. Almost a quarter of the way there!
  • In the same theme, I am going to focus on using up all of my existing cosmetics stash before purchasing anything else. I will try to blog about things as I use them up & document whether I would purchase them again.

Blogging

  • Blog at least once a week for a total of 52 blog posts in 2015.
  • Add some variety to my blog posts. I’d like to cover, sewing, crochet, cooking, natural health & well-being as well as some gardening.
  • Blog about the memorable meals we make in our ‘Cookbook Challenge’.
  • Blog monthly about what I have de-cluttered & what I have ‘used up’ in my cosmetics stash.

Health & Wellbeing

  • Continue to visit my amazing myotherapist and acupuncturist I am very much into treating myself naturally first & looking at other more conventional options second. I have come to rely on these 2 women to really help me feel my best in 2014 & I am hoping to greatly improve on the experience in 2015.
  • Start a weekly magnesium soak to help with sound sleep, removing toxins & setting myself up for the week.
  • Workout on my rowing machine for 30 minutes, 5 times per week, every week in 2015 (except when I’m on holiday of course). I need to improve my fitness, the reality is, I also need to lose a significant amount of weight, however I just don’t think focusing on weight-loss does my mental state any favours, so it’s not off the table forever, but it is off the table for 2015.
  • Improve my flexibility. Along with my fitness dramatically decreasing in 2014, so has my flexibility. I need to get back to stretching. Stretching is much more my thing than yoga. I’ve tried it, I want to love it, but my mind just wanders far too much & I spend the whole session trying to pull it back to stillness lol. I have downloaded a stretching app & I will see how this goes with teaching me all the main stretches again.
  • Weight-training at least once a week. I have simple, 3kg weights, so definitely nothing too difficult, but enough for me to ‘feel the burn’ after a few sets of reps. I just want to feel stronger by the end of the year & I’m hoping this is a step in the right direction.
  • We pick up our camper trailer in March. I want to take at least 2 trips of at least 5 days next year with the van. I’m also hoping for a few more weekend getaways & am so looking forward to what this purchase will do for our work life balance.

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Crochet & Sewing

  • Complete my Dad’s chevron crochet blanket before the Bendigo winter hits
  • Crochet some boot cuffs
  • Crochet cotton face washers to use as part of my natural skin care routine
  • Crochet a ‘shades of purple’ blanket for me to use in the caravan
  • Crochet a blanket of gray, teal, orange & turquoise for Macro Boy to use in the caravan
  • Sew one pencil skirt
  • Sew one short tunic top
  • Sew one long tunic dress
  • Sew placemats for the caravan
  • Sew a peg bag for the caravan

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Personal Development

  • Enter a crochet project in the Bendigo Agricultural Show in late October 2015
  • Focus on natural health care. I’ve started developing & exploring natural health remedies in 2014 & I want to expand on this in 2015. I am aiming on making some natural skin-care to solve some of my skin problems & I want to focus on immune system boosting now that I am taking the train each day.
  • Take one technology-free day per month. No social media, no surfing the internet etc.
  • Read one book per month (easy enough to achieve by reading on the train).

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Finances & Household Expenditure

  • Track our gas, electricity & water usage weekly so I can identify patterns in our usage. Mundane but I think this will be useful.
  • Designate 6 individual months of 2015 as ‘no spend’ months. This is going to be SO tough, but also really worthwhile I believe. Now that we are a single income household I think it would be great to take half of the available months of the year & try to stem any unnecessary spending.