January Recap and February Intentions

How has the first month of 2016 been for you dear readers?

Mine has been pretty great - with no specific intentions and a fairly free schedule, I’ve been able to enjoy the warm weather, take my time with thinking about 2016 and I’ve also been practicing a fair amount of gratitude (more below).

So here’s what’s changed at Where the Light Plays this month:

Journaling

I’m pretty sure I was 16 the last time I kept a journal. And it was mostly to document my crushes…

I’ve mentioned them a few times but I’ve become even more obsessed with Alex and Mimi Ikonn lately. On the surface they lead a pretty glamorous life but their backgrounds, outlooks and goals are very sincere.

I’ve been wanting to pick up The Five Minute Journal for a while but the overseas shipping is pretty exorbitant. Apparently this will change soon so I think I’ll still purchase my own copy when the time is right.

The great thing is the authors, Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas, actually give the planner away for free on their website. So I mocked up my own journal to start trying out this habit in January.

journaling-ikonn-cactus.jpg

And? I truly love it. It puts me in a great frame of mind when I think about what I’m grateful for each morning and makes me more conscious about what I want from that day.

I can check in on the journal after work to make sure I’m on track with what I wanted, then I practise gratitude before bed. I totally recommend trying this (even without buying the journal).

Productivity Planner

The obsession with Alex and UJ continues… again, for free.

As you probably know, I’m always up for trying new strategies to be productive and manage my time at work. I’ve been using the Productivity Planner worksheets to plan my week on a Monday morning, listing out my most important tasks. I then complete a review of the week on Friday afternoon to see how I’ve tracked with the goals and what I’ve learned and want to take forward into the next week.

A few weeks in and I’m finding this a very useful tool with a particular benefit being you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot by the end of the week.

Kittens!

Newsflash - I’m not the hugest risk taker in the world.

Luckily my husband has more of a taste for getting us out of our comfort zone, so persuaded me to agree to looking after two kittens for a week while his coworker was away on a business trip in January. I was pretty concerned about our current cat being put out and the general disruption to our house.

In the end it was such a rewarding thing to do - to know they didn’t have to go to a cattery, to get to hang out with two beautifully natured kittens and to help our cat socialise with other cats.

The lesson? The best fruit is out on the furthest branch, so take a risk!

February Intentions

And as for February?

Focus on home decor

We moved into our house almost two years ago now and I’ve been wanting to update some furniture, buy some rugs and do the final declutter ever since. February is my month to get this done!

I’m depending on Gray Malin and Danielle Moss for online inspiration. Check out my Pinterest boards here and here.

Plan a holiday

I’m very excited that we have an overseas trip planned this year. Almost 4 weeks in the States and Mexico is on the cards and I can’t wait! Time to trawl accommodation sites and plan sightseeing and (mainly) eating and drinking in each city.

If you have any Austin or Mexico City recommendations in particular, please let me know below!

Do my rehab

I spoke about this in an earlier post, but I have a niggling, continuing hip problem that gives me pretty bad lower back pain from time to time. I have a series of rehab exercises I need to do a few times a week but I always find an excuse not to do them.

The benefits definitely outweigh the time it takes me to do the exercises so I’m committing to three times a week through February.

What are your February intentions? Let me know below or over on Facebook

 

How To Create A Sanctuary At Home

My husband and I bought our very first home a little over a year ago. After the inevitable hell of packing, moving all our earthly belongings, and the bruises and tantrums that came with it, I remember flopping on the couch on our first weekend morning at the new place.

One of the selling points for us when choosing the house was the huge amount of light that fills the upstairs living area. I looked across the sundrenched room, admired my husband as he read his book and sighed with contentment. I was home.

Since that point, I’ve been slowly working on getting that feeling back as often as possible when I’m at home. Between jobs around the house, long hours at work and social commitments, it’s easy to rush in and out of the house with nothing more than a cursory glance.

But if you can create a sanctuary at home, your mental and physical health will thank you.

Here’s my checklist for creating a relaxing space at home.

Belongings

Plants - they purify the air and even help reduce the chances of falling sick.

Lighting - I am obsessed with lamps. There’s nothing better than turning off harsh lights after dinner and reading or watching TV by dim light. It’s also scientifically proven to help when preparing yourself for sleep. And why not use them in the morning to ease into the day too?

Candles - it’s almost as relaxing to smell a hundred candles in the store when choosing one to buy. Don’t underestimate the decadence you can feel with the right candle lit.

For you

Comfortable clothing - transitioning from work, or being out of the house in general, is important. It’s winter here so warmth is paramount, but even in summer, a breezy dress for around the house feels great.

Your favourite drinks or snacks - herbal tea, wine, fruit salad, pungent cheeses. Whatever makes you feel special, make sure you have a supply at home. And don’t forget to dish it up on your favourite plate or in your favourite glass. 

 

Spa paraphernalia - check out my pampering routine here. If you’re a bath person, make sure you have an aromatic bubble bath on hand. If you’re only into showers, a rich, moisturising body wash will make a regular day feel unique.

Activities

Journal - writing is a great way to unwind and get any stressful ruminations out on paper.

Read - when I’m not constantly distracted by my iPhone (!), settling down with a great book really helps me escape a busy day.

Netflix - and if all else fails... go on, you’re allowed.

What are your best tips for creating a relaxing space at home? Share with me below.

 

The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: Book Edition

So there’s been declutter radio silence around here since I overhauled my closet after reading The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. I felt a sense of momentum at the time but thanks to some busier weekends and internal resistance to moving on to the next stage (books), I evaded and side-stepped the decluttering plan until last week.

On a rainy Thursday night, armed with a glass of wine, a bad ‘80s Spotify playlist and an ever inquisitive kitten, I edged towards our bookshelves.

The games begin. Pickles the kitten was thrilled with the extra hiding spots.

The games begin. Pickles the kitten was thrilled with the extra hiding spots.

Why did I resist?

  • To my family, books are uber important. I grew up around bulging bookshelves and due to never wanting for something to read, proceeded to read like crazy. I’ve always wanted my home to be full of books also.
  • I worked in book publishing for six years. Amongst co-workers and friends, literature collections were frequently discussed and often given the highest importance. I also received huge discounts and a heap of free books, so building my collection of classics and new books was easy.
The donate pile. Sorry Slash.

The donate pile. Sorry Slash.

The process

  • Take all books off the shelves and place them in the middle of the floor
  • As per the clothing exercise, find every book you own in your home. Every book.
  • Pick up each book and ask ‘Does it give me a thrill of pleasure when I touch it?’ If not, discard or donate.

Additional notes from the author

  • Do not start reading the books. This one was tough for me but I resisted…
  • You will re-read very few books in your time.
  • Ignore the notion that you may read it ’sometime’ - sometime never comes. You've missed the window once you’ve brought the book into your home and not read it.
  • Keep a hall of fame of books - the books you reread every year and the ones you want to read right now (but may be decluttered later).
Pickles could sense I needed a break halfway through.

Pickles could sense I needed a break halfway through.

Findings

  • I didn't totally agree with the instructions. There are a number of books I haven’t read but I do know I’ll paw through eventually - maybe only when on holiday, maybe when I retire (!), but I do want to keep them and read them.
  • I accepted every offer of a freebie for way too long - this spills across into most aspects of my life. Freebies seem amazing at the time, but in reality you usually take items you don’t actually need. I’ve noticed in the last year or two that 9 times out of 10 I say no to giveaways and perks.
  • I married the right guy - like I needed another reason to confirm this. Around 10 of the books I pulled out, I realised we had duplicates of. We read the same stuff.
  • I hold on to certain ideas or times of life - similarly to the clothing overhaul, as I touched each book, I felt some past emotions. Some related to times of my life when I was reading certain styles of writing. Some around books I bought on recommendations from a number of people but that never worked for me. It feels good to let these notions go, and to remind yourself that you’re becoming more and more of the true person you’re meant to be.
And the 'keep' pile.

And the 'keep' pile.

Next up in The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up? Miscellaneous papers! Can you guess I’ll be avoiding this one too?

Like this post? Let me know in the comments below.


Light links: August

 
coffee

It's the last weekend of winter here in Australia and, amazingly, it's a sunny one. Enjoy the last days of August and some links I've found around the place this last month.

The brilliant Myf Warhurst shuns the pressure of lists in favour of humour and ease.

Ditching the efficiency of Google Maps to submit to the senses. Could I slow down enough to take the scenic route? I’d like to try.

This one broke my heart a little. I spent a year living in London and this pretty much nails it. Thanks Ashleigh.

Some great tips that support ease at home. We moved house a few months back and I’m still working on number 3 – home décor perfectionism.

I’m fascinated by the ‘not good enough’ voice in many women’s heads – just one of the areas addressed by these successful women.

Holidays and the rest your brain truly needs