During the glow of new year optimism I managed to finally wash everything in my clothes hamper. Those pesky whites, the lace skirts…even the dress with the sequins that legitimately needs to be hand washed (not my makeshift hand washing consisting of individual bra bags on the gentle cycle). I then ironed everything and put it away. …Well, I attempted to – except I ran out of coat hangers. Some tops, dresses and skirts were already sharing!  I had a problem and it was time to do something. First week back, 3rd of January, I walked into work and pledged to the ladies at work I would not repeat an item until March. I had to collect their jaws from the floor on the way to the next meeting. How would I keep track? Everything was now ironed! And now here I am in March. How did I go? What did I learn from my 8 week challenge? I have waayyy too many clothes. I really missed wearing my favourites and my Christmas presents from my sister. Even an 8 week challenge couldn’t stop me from buying a cute Marcs skirt on sale! Eeekkk. The black business skirt I bought in August 2012 for my first ‘office job’ still fits and it’s actually great. I rediscovered a bunch of things I had totally forgotten I owned. The slightly too tight size 6 Review dress I bought on sale for $99 2 years ago is now definitely zipper-likely-to-bust tight now and its cost per wear is still very hiiiiigh. I really did not miss ironing my week’s worth of work clothes on a Sunday night. I lost a lot of time during the mornings lying in my towel on my bed overwhelmed by the decision. A staple style makes for easy outfits. Choosing a new outfit was exhausting…particularly with slimmer pickings in Week 6-8. Making it ‘dress week’ or ‘skirt week’ made it soo much easier. A uniform of sorts! I love dresses and skirts, but with only 3 pairs of cropped pants, despite it being 80%+ humidity, I missed wearing pants. I foolishly found myself in jeans on a 30 degree, 85% humid day just because…pants. I loved being asked if an old dress was new…particularly when I avoided it because it was frumpy / tight / pink etc. I really don’t like pink. I realised my old favourite dress didn’t bring the same joy as it used to. And I longed to wear my new favourite. Guys have it soo much easier, particularly when I see them wander through the city with their 5 dry-cleaned shirts for the week. Could I get away with only 5 dresses? Hmmm. I need more shoes to go with all my dresses. #kidding. But seriously I think I wore about 6 pairs over the 8 weeks, with 1 pair of summer sandals at least 3 days each week. I could have gone at least another 2 weeks. Not.Even.Kidding.        which led me too…  Looking past the token Charity ‘bin’ option into more sustainable clothing recycling options. After 8 weeks I was left pretty embarrassed and confused. How did I get here?  I have a dozen dresses and skirts I have made myself. I fix items that break. I avoid buying from H&M, Cotton On, Zara and other retailers providing the means for the never-stopping fast fashion treadmill (Although frustratingly those same brands have actually some of the best ethical production ratings in Australia…although output volume, item life and environmental toll isn’t factored into the mix). But in reality, I’m the same as everyone else. I get bored easily, I struggle to let go and I really love Marcs (and their sales). And so with another move on the horizon, this past weekend I decided to clear things out. I took a bag to church on Sunday (*only half pictured) and many found lovely new homes. The dozen work tops I seldom wear. Gone. My old favourite dress. Gone. The crop pants that had been collecting dust. Gone. One of the ladies is off to India in a couple of weeks, so I’ll give a few items to her. But what about the rest? How do I avoid my carelessness + frivolous spending ending up costing the environment more? I did some research and worked out a plan. I now have 2 bags in my car. The few items left that are work environment friendly and good quality I’ll drop off for Suited to Success, and the rest will go to H&M. As for my sanity, I’m feeling much better post-wardrobe cleanout. Everyone has their own individual hanger, it’s not a battle to put things away and I have a dozen hangers spare! – – – And if you made it all the way down here, past all my self-talk to convince myself I need to do a Phase 2… What did I wear today? My new favourite dress of course. I call it my Queensland dress. 🙂 Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
Eeeek, and like that we’re more than a week into 2018. And today every treadmill, elliptical, bike and stairclimber were occupied in the gym at 5.30pm; the new year’s resolution game is evidently strong. But y’all know this girl doesn’t make resolutions. Goals. This girl sets goals. This girl kicks goals. Well most times. If we’ve spoken of late, you’ll know it’s gonna be a big year. But big or small, I keep moving forward. Fitness goal/s After last year’s half marathon (and subsequent injuries) we’re keeping it short and sharp this year… and aiming for speed. Let’s go sub-25min 5km. PB is sitting at 26:22mins at the moment, so it looks like carving off 10-12secs per km. Seems achievable if I can get these little legs moving again…prefs without the dull aches or sharp shooting pains. But as I learnt last year, focus solely on the bottom half and your top half becomes useless. I finally lost out to commercialised fitness and joined a gym last year, and slowly the upper body strength is increasing. You can only go up when zero pushups was the baseline. This year, I’m aiming for 5 unassisted pull ups. I’m still only lifting about half my weight at the moment, so a few more kgs to go… Intellectual goal If you caught my 17 in 2017, you’ll know that I epically failed reading 17 books last year so the goal remains. Categories remain: 4 x novels, 4 x non-fiction, 4x theology, 4 x professional + 1 bonus read. And because I set the rules in which I play, audiobooks are in. Good thing my Netflix parasitising has come to an end. Sigh. Socially responsible living goal I dug every ep of The Chaser’s War on Everything and so when I hear any of the crew have new projects, I’m 100% in. Craig Reucassel’s War on Waste on ABC was fab. I’ve had so many conversations where the program has genuinely prompted them to start consciously caring about their waste and environmental impact. And I’m there. Throw in a few more docos and after some judgemental digs on everything from eggs to plastic straws, I had my mother ask if I’d become a hippy at Christmastime. Remember reduce, reuse, recycle? This year I’m committing to buying no more new plastic products for food storage, reusing packaging where possible and recycling as much as possible. I have three bins: paper/cardboard/glass, soft plastics and finally landfill. A slow shift in behaviour last year, it’s not been convenient to wash and reuse snaplock bags, nor easy to remember to grab the soft plastic waste when ducking to Coles. But in time, I’m hoping separating waste becomes second nature, as does carrying canvas bags with me. I’m also committing to exploring environmentally-friendly cleaning products and even reducing my meat + dairy consumption. But bacon is staying in 2018. Maple bacon particularly. Professional goal Another goal I didn’t achieve last year, but learnt from the journey. Adventure awaits. Character goal We’re all on our own journeys. And in the words of my manager, we all have not “weaknesses” but “areas for development”. And my goodness I hope God sustains me for a long time, ’cause I’m going to need it. Irony is, because of grace and mercy, we’ll can all be made brand new in a perfect new heavens and earth. Alas. I’ll leave this one for an offline chat. Faith goals “But you’re leaving soon enough, why do you even care?” was probably the most hurtful thing said to me last year. Life takes us to different places and for different seasons. But however long and wherever we are, whoever we’re surrounded by, we laugh with, grieve with, celebrate with…do life together with. The grass always seems greener somewhere else, but it rarely is. So I’m committing to the people around me. Money. Time. Energy. Loving people. Serving people. Listening to people. Praying for people. Whether it’s a dinner to provide company, cleaning the floor, bringing in washing, providing rest, throwing in extra $$, i’ll take the cost. Less cash flow, head lice, bruised toes or a messy home. Whatever the personal cost, I’m committing. But then again, I’m not perfect and I’ll fail, and i’ll inevitable offend or overstep the mark, and for that I’m thankful for forgiveness + grace.   And there’s my direction set for 2018. I expect they’ll be a challenge but keen to give them all a red hot go. I love talking goals and pushing beyond a seemingly comfortable life.What are your goals? Let’s chat. Finally, if you bothered to read my dreary thoughts on this largely abandoned blog and made it all the way down here – a reward. Thank you. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
It may be 4 days into 2018, but I’m hoping I’m still in the window to reflect on the year that was…before I launch too far into 2018. Last year I did an original ‘16 in 2016‘ and because I’m super lazy again, and this is largely for my own benefit, I’m going to do, wait for it, 17 reflections on 2017 – in no specific order. 1. Exploring Australia + New Zealand If there was any doubt where my cash went this year, the 26 flights might have something to do with it. I managed, 22 within Australia + 4 to/from New Zealand. Scrolling through Insta was fun to relive the adventures and I am constantly amazed at the diversity of the land bestowed to us. Despite having a country the size of all of Europe, Australians do a terrible job of exploring our own backyard. And that I did in 2017. (…and because my sister moved across the ditch, it got a couple of visits too.) Quick calculation of nights away = 52 January: Surfers Paradise (3), Melbourne (2) February: Sydney (3) March: Sydney (2) April: Sydney (5) May: Noosa (2) June: Rockhampton/Yeppoon (1), Mackay (2) July: Forster (4), Sydney (1), Queenstown (5) August: Sydney (5) September: October: Outback Queensland (3), Auckland (3), Sydney (1) November: December: Sydney (10) 2. Half Marathon A 2017 goal, I ticked this bad boy off in May up in Noosa. A minute shy of my sub-2 goal, alas. Never a runner, I would never thought running 21km would be achievable, let alone enjoyable. 3. Injury Unfortunately much of this year was juggling shin splints that progressed to stress fractures and continue to haunt me. It wasn’t until I couldn’t run that I realised how much I enjoyed it…and needed it to run out + process life. I accrued a nice physio bill…but, Mr Turnbull, still remain cost neutral without private health insurance. 4. Swimming + Cycling I swam laps of a pool for the first time in a decade, and the only time outside of my largely participatory efforts at school swimming carnivals. I’ve got a long way to go, but it’s strangely relaxing…amongst the overwhelming feeling of drowning from exhaustion mid-lap. I bought Laura’s bike and learnt to ride a road bike. After running, you can get so far on a bike over the same time! 5. Loss + loneliness I said goodbye to my last grandparent in April – my grandpa who was weeks shy of his 90th. I said goodbye to friends + family who moved away. I had a number of periods of sheer loneliness that took me by surprise. 6. New home After a few months of anxiety, I moved out and made a place of my own – possibly the best decision I made last year. I love my little apartment – it’ll be sad to say goodbye! 7. Insecurity Big girl pants were necessary on a number of occasions as I negotiated contract extensions and overcome a significant moment of job insecurity. 8. Tears Despite popular opinion, I can report the tear ducts are still functioning. The stone-hearted girl broke out in tears a number of times fare-welling Grandpa and, a first, late one night reading ‘Still Alice’. 9. Reading fail Aiming to read 17 books was an epic fail. I shamefully managed to complete very few… Big little lies, Liane Morriety Still Alice, Lisa Genova Dreams of my father, Barack Obama The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simpson The Girl from Aleppo, Nujeen Mustafa In progress: Mere Christianity, CS Lewis Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis Option B, Sheryl Sandberg Prayer, Tim Keller 1984, George Orwell Buyology, Martin Lindstrom Nudge, Richard Thaler + Cass Sunsteen Thrive, Ariana Huffington 10. Netflix + Movies This list is way too long to list and directly contributed to the above reading failure…although I’m glad 3 Australian movies made it on my list this year. 11. Buying local and less Although challenging to track, I aspired to shop from local stores and markets wear possible. There were pockets were i slipped back to my online ways, particularly in the lead to Christmas. But by the very nature of avoiding chain stores, I bought much less…particularly clothing (except Marcs) 12. Leaving church “I’m thinking about leaving church.” I had way too many of conversations that started with this line last year, from the valid to the hurtful. Leaving church isn’t easy for anyone – the person leaving nor the people left behind. Unfortunately I found myself exhausted for various periods challenging and/or encouraging friends I’m at church with and others at various others through the process. (Don’t get me wrong, there are very valid reasons to leave churches, but also some lazy reasons too). 13. Gym Yes, this anti-gym evangelist i-hate-commercialised-exercise joined a gym. It was was time to build strength after completing my half marathon in hope of a ripped back and toned arms… yet to be seen. (As are any pull-ups.) 14. Mel + animals. A gallery. Cute animals, it’ll win every time…or just a photo of someone so completely terrified that it’s hilarious. Instagram was proof.    15. Answered prayer Ask me and I’ll happily share. From healing to housemates, jobs to joy. 16. 17. New adventures Although a mic-drop was contemplated back in September when the paperwork came through, I’m looking forward to new adventures in 2018. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
Like most, I can take a bit of disruption (actually probably a lot). I can usually cope quite fine when my Uber driver forgets to end the ride and I need to remedy the overcharge. Or the late fee email notification from Telstra when I have a receipt from paying 2 weeks earlier. Or even the extra ‘housemate’ taking up residence in my house. Combine those things, no dramas. But then an unexpected delivery truck of anxiety, frustration and sheer anger pulled up and dumped it in my lap on Friday 4pm. And then I woke up to the news of the tragic death of a guy from home to make me stop and put things into perspective. Cue complete ignorance of my ‘don’t drink to feel better, drink to feel even better’ proverb, a few nights of broken sleep and total impatience ensued. At work I lacked motivation and struggled to concentrate. It was time to do something. Last night I texted my manager. My request was not unexpected and swiftly granted. I am thankful I work in a supportive environment where I can be honest. I give 110% at work. I don’t have performance issues (unless it’s over-performance?). I have taken 5 days of sick leave in 2 years – 4 for my wisdom teeth extraction. I take annual leave regularly. I consider my mental wellness to be good and stable. But following recent events I needed a day to stop, reset and recharge in order to give at that same level again. Why am I being so transparent? Beyond Blue recently found 1 in 5 Australian workers took time off last year because of mental health issues, although the reported reason for the leave is considerably underreported. Where workplaces and management were supportive of mental health, self-reported absentee-ism halved. That is – employees took less time off because of the positive perceptions of mental health and physical safety and no surprise, reported higher respect from colleagues and increased productivity. Unless Jesus returns sooner, I anticipate I’ll work until about my mid 60s, putting me at about 10-15% through my career. And when I look around at people in similar stages of their careers, across many industries, I see exhaustion. I see a pathway to burnout. I hear of 7am starts and 10pm finishes. Being ‘busy’ is worn as badge of honour. I aspire to a career of nurturing people and seeing people be constructive members of society. I’ll be working until close to 2050 and I hope in that time Australia sees a dramatic decrease in the current 3 million adults with depression and anxiety. Gen Y’s are regularly tormented for silver platter syndrome, so please I welcome your thrown stones. I accept many gone before me have worked incredibly hard in awful conditions. But we’re now living in 2017 when this can be changed. A time when mental illness should not be stigmatised.  Managers need to model responsible mental health. Employees should not fear showing weakness or falsify a physical illness instead. We have the opportunity to reshape mental wellness in the workplace and self-care overall. With haste, I sent off a pretty pointed email on Friday night. Amongst other things, and after some consideration, I pleaded with my organisation to not deliver bad news on a Friday again. Most organisations have no idea of the other concerns of their employees. (Unless you’re my colleagues and you have a pretty good idea because *arm up high* classic verbal processor and chronic over-sharer right here.) Sending an employee home into the weekend devastated could end in tragedy. For example, redundancies are best done on a Tuesday and if done on a Friday should be considered sheer negligence. (Correction: Sorry folks for leading you astray, I was not made redundant! Just using that as the extreme example). However back to today. What did this mental health day entail? A sleep in, baking, an hour stretching (leg day yesterday) over episodes of Utopia and then a few hours in the sun exploring a new area of Brisbane on my new set of wheels. All things that I enjoy. All things that enabled me to de-stress and reset – literally, thanks endorphins. And then because I think it’s the best treatment, I spent time reflecting and praying. I also went to listen to a podcast on Romans 3 from a local church but failed (don’t podcast + drive) and ended up with 40mins on a brilliant section of Romans 8. Verses 18 through 30 of which extracting one verse for this post was impossible. Australians are great at the olde ‘sickie’, and to the outsider my day looked exactly like that – an absolute cop out. We can’t abuse the privilege of improved working conditions. I know what gets me back from the brink – sunshine + water + exercise, but perhaps you’re best at home on couch, or chatting to a professional. Either way I felt a little odd explaining to my housemate why I was home early, and then to a weekly group of my church community.  But I know and I know my manager knows that the one lost day of my productivity will pay dividends to my current projects thanks to today’s rejuvenation. Don’t be ashamed. Ask for a day, or if it’s beyond that, talk about it and find a solution. And if a recruitment agent calls you wondering if you’re interested in a role during the mental health day, laugh – it’s good for the soul. Not even kidding, if I wasn’t stopped already the coincidence of it may have knocked me off my bike. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
Life is full of seasons. You enjoy many of the same for a long while and then you hit your twenties and it starts to change. People get married. People buy houses. People have kids. Me? I chose to run move away. My friends? My Instagram feed is evidence enough: weddings + babies…or those delaying either/or = travel. I had a bit of a crew through my late-teens and early 20s. I was innocent, overconfident and opinionated. They were good to me (read:patient). But most were Christians and so they married young…and then bought houses. We had a place to hang out. Win! But two years ago, just before I was drawn in to the (sun)light, the first couple had an adorable baby. And in the two years I’ve been gone, the procreation has continued. Last week I spent a few days with 6 married couples and 4 babies under 2 (+ few extras). I abandoned plans to travel to Scandinavia ($15k on travel in 12 months is probably a bit too much) and instead took annual leave to spend time with 15 adults + 4 children + 1 teenager under 1 roof. And it wasn’t that chaotic. Although some things have changed. Because holidays (including those involving 2000km) = thinking time, and my friends love to feature in my little corner of the inter webs… here’s my not so comprehensive list of what happens when your friends have kids. New titles. Everyone becomes an Aunty or Uncle. You ignore your friends and greet their miniature humans first. Detailed bowel movement discussions. Birth stories. “Is that yours or mine?” is not referring to a mobile phone but baby monitor. You see the traits/personalities of your friends in minature form Movies are turned off half way. Surprisingly even babies can discern Jurassic Park isn’t as rosy the Peppa Pig farmyard. Noise travels. Noise matters. Driveways are filled with soccer mum mini SUVs instead of mum’s old, hand-me-down dinged early 2000s hatchbacks P plates parks are now pram park ups An afternoon where all 4 children were asleep at once was like all the planets aligning in a once-in-century occasion PDA is everpresent in kisses, hugs and sniffing nappies. You see patience in practice. Discipline in action. You get endless cuddles but freedom to hand them back when they poop, scream or fight you off. You’re watching who’s drinking to see who’s preggers on the sly. Baby line ups are mandatory. Along with ridiculous attempts to get all children looking remotely in the direction of the camera. Time schedules are fluid. Departures can be timed to either keep the baby awake, but also to ensure the baby sleeps. “How did you sleep?” will be answered as if this were the question: “how did <insert child’s name> sleep?” Did you say Wiggles? Yep, kid tunes reign. Of course they could most certainly comment on the child-less life too. I willingly woke early to exercise. I enjoy abs still joined at the centre. And my car was sans extensive miniature person paraphernalia. Moving away isn’t the easiest. I’ve missed pretty much all the baby showers, first birthdays, dedications etc – often by only a week. And being the single, childless one is often the topic of discussion (It took a grand total of 3.5 hours before I was asked about my dating life). The above is a list of largely funny takeouts from a relaxing week away. But really it’s a privilege to see my friends turn into parents. Life is best done together. I took joy recieving a face covered of saliva care of new raspberry blowing skills. And they enjoyed the extra set of hands. The village life. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)