Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sunrise, clouds, mini egg

The sunrise this morning was beautiful and the pretty clouds lingered for ages. I'm a little sad that daylights savings ends this weekend because I won't be seeing the sunrise for a while.  

 Hot air balloons!

 On my  way to work

 Rainbow cloud!

Getting close to work

I've been getting up at 7.00am this week and that's as early as I'm going to go. I don't really have a reason to get up even earlier and, given I need at least eight hours' sleep to feel semi-human, I'd have to go to bed too early to get enough sleep if I start getting up earlier than 7.00am. 

In the almost 12 weeks since I've been getting up earlier, there's only been one day - ONE! - when I didn't get up on time, but that was only because my alarm didn't go off. (I only get up early on work days.) I'm pretty amazed at myself! I don't even know who I am anymore!

I found a Cadbury's mini egg in the front pocket of my bag. What a thrill! 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Something's coming

One of my fave songs from the new Waifs album

I have some fun stuff coming up in the next few weeks, which I'm a little bit excited about. 

This Thursday Luke and I are going to an Evening with The Waifs, the band's 25th anniversary show at Hamer Hall. They've been one of my favourite bands for years and they are fantastic live. I'm also (now-not-so) secretly pleased it's a sit down show because I've passed the stage where I want to stand up in a crowd for hours jockeying for a view of the band and being jostled by annoying people going back and forth to the bar.  This show will be far more civilised and we should be home by midnight. (Yep, I'm an old lady.)

On Friday Luke and I are going to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. This will be my second time, but my first visit was many, many moons ago and I wasn't particularly interested in plants and stuff then. But now, I'm obsessed with flowers, I have a growing collection of indoor plants and I love visiting gardens.  I can't wait. I expect to be overcome by the beauty.

Then for Easter Mum is visiting for the first time in ages and we're heading off to the High Country for a night. We're staying in Merrijig, which is close to Mount Buller. Luke has been before, but I haven't and I'm looking to it. I love the High Country and autumn is a great time to go.  We're also going to Werribee Zoo while Mum's here and there will also be a Meeting of the Parents (I guess it had to happen one day). 

I am full of anticipation. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A list of happymaking stuff

A bowl of foraged botanical bits n bobs

I'm quite the happy camper lately, as I've mentioned here recently. Actually, it's more accurate to say I'm an even happier camper, since I was fairly happy before (apart from that brief period I was off my meds). 

I've mentioned some of the reasons for this here and there, but here's a comprehensive list of reasons just because I like lists:
  • I'm working four days a week instead of five. Less 
  • I'm getting up earlier, which makes me happier because I like being up that early even if I don't love getting up that early (it makes sense to me...); I like seeing the sunrise from my bedroom window; I like not rushing in the mornings to get to work and having time to potter around a bit; I like getting to work on time (or even early); and I like having the time to walk to work again.
  • I'm walking to work every day and home again most days. Walking along the river to work (and not having to deal with nuisance people on the tram) is a pleasant way to start the day. I get 40 minutes of exercise under my belt before 9.00am and a little dose of nature (as close to nature as you can get when you live a few kilometres from the CBD anyway).  
  • I broke my almost-compulsive shopping habit (I have only about two months left of my year 12-month shopping ban and a new challenge in the pipeline). Overcoming that constant yearning to acquire more and more shoes and clothes has made a huge impact on my life satisfaction. It's hard to feel content when you are always wanting
  • I've been in a super creative phase, fuelled mostly by my Instagram feed, which is full of flowers, nature and flatlays. Foraging for the bits and pieces to use in my flatlays is fun. 
  • I've stopped complaining on social media and am actively being more positive (eg posting complimentary comments on Instagram). Not complaining boosted my happiness, but spreading positivity about the net wherever I go turbo-charged it.  
  • I spend a fair bit of time on social media, but I actively manage my feeds to get what I want from them - entertainment (obviously), and news and information on topics that are important to me, but also connection with like-minded people, inspiration and positive vibes. For example, I follow many women who are feminists and body positivity advocates and their posts have had an impact not only on how I think about my own body, but about other women's bodies too. I'm less judgemental about them and less judgemental about myself (not that I hated my body before, but every bit of extra kindness helps). 
  • I've been practising being less judgemental in general and trying not to let insignificant things get to me (I am normally irritated by many, many, MANY insignificant things). I do this by second-guessing myself - when I notice judgemental or irritable thoughts creeping in, I counteract it with another thought - e.g. "How can these idiots I work with not know how to stack a dishwasher?!" is replaced with, "Well, at least they're putting their dishes in the dishwasher instead of leaving them on the sink for someone else to deal with." And then I let it go. Most of the time. 
  • I've been seeing a dietician who specialises in intuitive eating to help repair my unhealthy relationship with food. I have a history of disordered eating (but not a diagnosed eating disorder), which hasn't been helped by a long list of food intolerances that means I just can't eat whatever I want. I'm good at restriction...until I'm not and then I eat everything in sight. I lose weight and feel OK (physically, I mean)...then I put it all back on and feel rotten. Rinse and repeat. I decided I needed to finally get this feast/famine cycle sorted out for the sake of my health (physical and mental). I've seen the dietician three times and I feel like I've made good progress. 
  • I've stopped eating gluten, which means I don't feel utterly exhausted and wracked with pain. Fatigue and pain really drag you down.
  • The procedure I had in December has dramatically reduced the number of migraines I get (and also potentially prevented a brain haemorrhage/stroke. Not dying or being permanently incapacitated is very good for your mental state!). 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A year of four days

Sunrise this morning from my bedroom

Last Friday was my the one-year anniversary of working four days a week. Already! Even though I've been doing it for twelve months now, it still feels like a novelty - a bloody fantastic novelty. I'm not sure it will ever stop feeling novel. 

I'm much happier in general (only partly due to working less), I'm happier at work (not that I was unhappy before) and my relationship with my boss is even better. I don't really miss the extra income - starting a shopping ban a few months after dropping back to four days is a big factor in that. 

I haven't done any of the things I thought I might do with the extra day back at the beginning - finding a new job, studying or doing volunteer work - but that's OK because I'm very content with the way things are. I have no plans to look for a new job for the foreseeable future - I'd only consider leaving for another job that was also four days a week anyway. I'm not ruling out volunteer work or study at some point, but for now I'm enjoying the extra 'me' time and the chance to rest more.  

Most of my Fridays are spent going to appointments and running errands, which sounds dull but because these were things I used to have to cram into lunch breaks or after work, or sometimes take time off for, my working days are now more relaxed. 

Most of my Fridays also feature an afternoon nap, or at least a lie down. 

In other news...

I had a routine follow up angiogram yesterday to make sure the procedure back in December fixed my abnormal brain vein, and I got the all clear. Yay. I still get some migraines triggered by other things, but way less than before. Who would have thought having a DVT would turn out to be a good thing? (My abnormal brain vein was found because my neurologist ordered an MRI after I told her I had a DVT.) 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Urban foraging and flat lays

Instagram, as with social media generally, attracts a lot of criticism for various reasons (narcissism, phoneyness etc), but I love it, especially since I started my shopping ban and stopped following online fashion retailers and (most) fashion bloggers on social media.

Instead I have - I hate the word 'curated', but it fits - I have curated an Instagram feed of people who inspire me with their creativity, positivity and kindness (and also people who make me want to kidnap their adorable pets, most notably British shorthair cats and greyhounds). 

Recently I have been inspired by a few Instagrammers who create gorgeous nature and flower flatlay photos - check out Vanilla Lemon Cake and Charis in Wonderland, to name but two. I love, love, LOVE their work and decided I would have a go at doing something similar myself. 

I wasn't overly thrilled with my early efforts, but I'm happy with my progress.  

The photo above is from a few weeks ago. I picked the purple heart-shaped leaf from in front of someone's house in Richmond (it was overhanging the path). It was beautiful then and the colour and texture are still beautiful now even though the leaf is dried out. The background is printed card, not real wood. 

The photo above and those below are from today. The flower in the centre of the photo above is an everlasting daisy I picked on the trail to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko when Luke and I walked it a few years ago. The lambs' ears are from the Botanic Gardens (ssssh!) and the lavender and spiky little balls were scavenged from front gardens in South Yarra.   

Part of the fun of creating the flatlays is gathering the materials. I've turned into an urban forager, scanning footpaths, nature strips and public gardens for seed pods, gumnuts, feathers and all sorts of bits and bobs. Nearly every day I come with something I've found on my wanderings. I'm like a child, gathering little souvenirs from my travels. The acorns were collected beside the river on my walks to work (intact ones - with their little hats still on  - were surprisingly hard to find). I found the spiky chestnut burr in the middle (along with two others) when I was meandering the streets of Cremorne today. It was in a laneway just off...Chestnut Street! I would have had no idea what they were if I hadn't just started following a chestnut farm on Instagram, which was mostly only because they followed me, but it's proved useful. 

Here's the purple heart-shaped leaf from .above, all dried out (not that you can reeally tell). This collection also features dried hibiscus blooms and fallen flower buds from a laneway near my place and seed pods from the Botanic Gardens, which I first noticed because they were very crunchy underfoot. 

It's just as well I have more energy now that I have to wonder the streets looking for flatlay stuff, #verandahseats and ghost signs. 

Click here to see my Instagram pics.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Yay, yum, haha

Morning walk

I walked to and from work again today. I thought I might wake up more weary than usual or run out of energy during the day after yesterday's efforts, but I didn't. Yay. I've walked just over 16,000 steps (or 10kms) today, well over my goal of 10,000.

Yummy smells from (home made) dinner tonight: sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds, fresh mint and basil, fresh lime juice, passionfruit pulp. Yum. 

Speaking of cooking, on Sunday I was frying a pan full of small bacon pieces. There was a loud POP and a piece of bacon shot up into the air and landed on my head. Haha.  

Evening walk

Monday, March 6, 2017

Surprise energy

I got up at the same time as the sun this morning (7.15)

Yesterday I said I don't have enough energy to walk to work and home again. Today I walked to work and then home again. I felt OK so thought I'd give the tram a miss, and it was fine. I didn't run out of energy part way and I didn't need a lie down when I got home. (Cutting out gluten seems to have finally paid off.)

Good things about walking to and from work: the smell of eucalyptus, close(ish) encounters with ducks, fallen acorns, seeing the early signs of autumn and saving $7 a day on fares.

Hi hi, hi ho, it's off to work I go 

 Moomba is moving in. Spotted on my walk home

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Little adventures

Morell Bridge in the distance

Morell Bridge - where I cross the river to get to or from the tram and the shops on Swan Street - is closed for improvement works for a few weeks, which is a little annoying. It's fine in the mornings because I walk to work on this side of the river, but I don't have the energy to walk home from work as well, so I have to detour to cross over Hoddle Bridge. 

But actually it's mostly good because it's a change of scenery. I will never tire of the view from Morell Bridge, but I enjoy the view from Hoddle Bridge too.  If I pop into Coles on my way home instead of sticking to the main roads, I wander the back streets to get home. It's a little adventure. 

Met a mannequin on today's little adventure

Saturday, March 4, 2017

We rise by lifting others*

Legacy mural, Drewery Lane in the city

As I've mentioned in recent posts, this year I've been working on establishing a number of new habits, including being more positive on social media. 

I've been conscious of not being too whiny on Twitter and Facebook for nearly as long as I've been using them, because I'm aware of how draining it can be to be around (online or IRL) people who do nothing but complain and criticise (though of course it's easier to get away from the online whiners and critics). I've aimed to balance my moaning with positive (or at least neutral) posts, although I'm not sure if I achieved it or even whether the positive really cancels out the negative.

But it doesn't matter now because I'm trying not to be whiny and critical online at all, which is not to suggest I'm OK with being a ball of negativity offline because I'm not; I'm working on Offline Me as well (for example, trying to be less judgemental and less irritated by stupid stuff), but social media seems to have become my outlet for bitching and moaning. 

Most of what I complain about is minor stuff anyway - petty annoyances like people blocking the doors on public transport or talking too loudly in my vicinity - so it's not as if keeping my thoughts to myself is going to lead to an explosion of repressed rage. Instead of taking to Twitter to whinge, I try to let it go, or I get up and move away from the annoying people. 

I've been doing very well at being more positive on social media so far and it's been quite uplifting. Not that I was feeling low - I've been a pretty happy little camper lately - but making an effort to be a more positive online presence makes me feel even better. 

But wait! There's more! This past week I've stepped things up a level. I'm not just avoiding being negative, I'm making an extra effort to be more positive. For example, instead of just clicking 'like' on Instagram, I've been making a lot more comments - genuine compliments on photos that I love. Likes have a tendency to blend together in a fairly anonymous mass, but a thoughtful compliment is a little more special.  

Paying all these compliments makes me feel good, even if the recipients don't respond, but usually they do, and those little connections make me happy too. 

There's more than enough negativity in the world, online and off, so I'm going to keep doing my little bit to spread kindness and lift others up, with the added bonus of boosting my own happiness. 

* This quote - or something similar - is by Robert Ingersoll, who also said, "The way to be happy is to make others so".