This New Mantra Will Change Your Days

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Patience seems to be my theme of 2018. In all sorts of ways, I am learning to be more patient - with the activities of my day, with long term goals, with people.

Spending a lot of time with my baby this year, life has taken a new, slower pace.

Earlier in the year, I was feeding her at the dark and civilised hour of 4am. I found myself waiting and waiting, timing her feed.

After it was done I was watching the clock as I waited for her to burp. I felt impatient and I wanted it to be done so I could get back to bed.

After lots of time spent reading and listening to Alex Franzen, the queen of appreciating ‘life minutes’ as she calls them, I was reminded of a quote from one of her books… ‘Allow it to take as long as it takes’.

Bleary eyed, I repeated this to myself and looked at my daughter. She didn’t care how long things were taking and she had nowhere else she wanted to be. And neither did I.

Now, I use this mantra regularly.

When thinking about a goal or purchase I want to be here right here, right now, I remind myself - allow it to take as long as it takes.

When I’m cooking and find myself wanting the preparation to be done and to be sitting at the table eating the finished product already. I stop and think - allow it to take as long as it takes.

Are you rushing through your daily activities, wishing they were done already?

Are you impatiently waiting for your train to arrive at your station, anxious for your name to be called at the coffee shop, restless for the stretching track in your gym class to be finished already? 

Maybe you’re impatient for a promotion, a new car, a boyfriend, a holiday to be here already?

What if you stopped the mental struggle and allowed life to take as long as it takes?

How to Make Weekends Work for You

Even when we enjoy our work and weekdays immensely, nothing really beats a weekend.

Friday has that special energy about it and two days of possibility stretch out before us. I personally used to be the victim of Sunday blues (find out how I beat them here).

Although I don’t suffer the Sunday sads anymore, I do often find myself working through a long list of errands and feeling like I’m spending more time preparing for the week ahead than enjoying my time off. So, I’ve come up with a new strategy to try:

Friday nights are for relaxation

This isn’t really a shift for me (ha!) but I’m making a conscious effort to either enjoy dinner out with friends, go to happy hour with coworkers or hit the couch at home at the end of the week.

The real aim is to relax but to also make sure I rest up for Saturday.

Saturdays are for errands and prep

Sounds fun right?! I actually looked at what errands and preparation I would like to do and, to be honest, it’s not going to fill my whole Saturday.

I think the real mental shift is batching all these tasks together so they’re out of the way and don’t seep into the entire weekend.

So in no particular order, I’ll be aiming to nail a combination of the following each Saturday (and I’ve included a time estimate to prove my point):

  • A gym visit (1 hour)
  • Supermarket shopping (30 mins)
  • Meal preparation (see my best meal prepping tips here) (1-2 hours)
  • Housework (1-2 hours)
  • Study (more to come on this in the future...) (1-2 hours)

So even if we go with the maximum time estimates here, I’m looking at 7.5 hours of activities on a Saturday.

Luckily I’ll be awake for at least 14 hours, so half of Saturday is still mine for relaxing, catching up with people or doing whatever else I fancy.

What do you think? Am I crazy to cram all this in to one day?

Sundays are for fun

Ah, Sundays. I’m now looking forward to a mix of the following:

  • Brunch
  • Shopping
  • Binge watching TV shows (or more specifically, cooking shows)
  • Bike riding with the husband
  • Yoga
  • Museums / Art galleries
  • Whatever else I come up with!

I’m not going to pack my Sundays full, but I am going to make sure I enjoy myself.

Rigidity is not the aim here - I know some Saturdays I will have catch ups with friends and won’t turn them down to spend time at the supermarket, but I’m going to try this framework over the next month and see how it leaves me feeling once Monday rolls around.

Do you have any tips on how you balance chores and fun on the weekends? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Three Life Lessons Learnt in Vietnam

Hi readers, I’m back! My husband and I just spent two weeks in Vietnam and a week in Thailand and it was an amazing trip.

Three weeks felt like aggggggggeeees and we saw and did so much. It was super warm (35 degrees Celsius plus) which was amazing, but I’m actually kind of happy to come back to cooler weather.

I highly recommend travelling to both places, but I thought today I’d reflect on the three major themes I took from my experiences in Vietnam.

Keep it slow and fresh in the kitchen

Vietnamese food is incredible - at almost every meal my husband or I would say to each other ‘I know I said this last time, but this food is just so … fresh …’ and we’d laugh.

We visited bustling food markets in Saigon, Hoi An and Hanoi and whipped up some dishes at a cooking class on the river in Hoi An.

The experiences really inspired me to slow down and take the time to make fresh, healthy, delicious food.

Often when I’m racing home after work, it’s a case of ‘what can I cook the fastest, with the least amount of steps?’ and although there are times when that is called for, it’s not that difficult to shred up mountains of fresh green herbs, slice your meat carefully for optimal cooking and stir fry delicious noodle dishes while meditating over the steam.

Relax and take risks in life

As some of you may know, Australia is often referred to as a ‘nanny state’.

Australia has a LOT of rules and laws and the complaint is that we are way too over-regulated compared to the rest of the world. Think - you have to wear a helmet on a bicycle, you really can’t smoke anywhere anymore and the restrictions go on and on.

As I grew up in Australia I’ve obviously grown accustomed to the safety and comfort of where I live, but I do love going to other countries and observing the differences.

Well the cities of Vietnam are perfect for that - in particular, gawking at the traffic.

Leaving the airport at Saigon, we were caught in a semi-traffic jam.

I peered out the taxi window at motorbikes weaving in and out of the lanes (often with up to a family of 4 on the motorbike), cars and buses beeping their horns (always as a warning that they’re there, not in an aggressive manner) and random people strolling into the middle of it all as they try and cross the road. It is truly an incredible sight.

Although I’m aware Vietnam’s road toll is much higher than Australia’s - I love that the chaotic traffic situation just works.

People live with more risk and get on with walking, driving and living without fear.

Be grateful for what you have

Vietnam is not a rich country and is still officially a communist nation. Although the food, the people and the places are amazing, I was reminded how lucky I am to come from a safe, spacious, wealthy country.

In Vietnam there is more poverty, no free healthcare for citizens and a very low pension for retirees so most are looked after by family into old age.

On the positive side of that, you see many older people floating through tai chi routines or using the free exercise equipment in the park on a plight to remain healthy for as long as possible.

Vietnamese-owned companies require employees to work six days a week and wages are often not high enough to afford a visa and trip to a country like Australia. I am extremely lucky.

I’d love to hear about your travels. What’s the number on lesson you’ve learnt in another country?

Light Links: June

Happy end of June, dear readers. How was your month?

We started the month with our annual winery jaunt to Rutherglen and ended June with a bonfire at a friend's farm in Trentham. I know it's cliche but it really does rejuvenate me to get out of town and do something different on a weekend. Try and schedule some time out of your regular town when you can.

It wasn't all picture perfect winter getaways though - I had a cold that hung around for quite a while. After feeling virtuous for taking a day off in an attempt to halt the cold in its tracks, it ended up hanging around for longer than I'd hoped. It's a great reminder to stop and truly relax when your body tells you to. If you could see my wintery outfit and ugg boots right now, you'd know I'm embracing this idea.

Enjoy my favourite links from this month. 

The pressure to look good when every day is now school photo day...

Do you guys know about my obsession with watching cooking shows? Barefoot Contessa used to be my Saturday morning jam. Check out some life lessons from Ina Garten.

I am not a messy person, but have feelings of both jealousy and appreciation for those around me that are. Here's 3 lessons we can learn from the messy

How many times a day do you apologise? Things you need to stop saying sorry for

A dear friend of mine told me about a breathing technique she's been trying to help her fall asleep. The next day I spotted this article that claims to help you fall asleep in under one minute. I'm yet to try it out, but let me know your results in the comments below. 

This spookily sums up my impression of Sweden on my short trip there a few years back. I love so many of these lessons, but definitely need the one about not letting the weather stop you as we head into the Melbourne winter. 

Light Links: April

 
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How was your April? Mine was a great one - work has been busy but fulfilling, I've had some balanced weekends catching up with family and good friends, and life with Pickles the kitten is always sweet.

Grab a cup of your favourite coffee, tea or wine and enjoy some of my favourite links this month. And do let me know which one strikes a chord with you in the comments below.

See you in May! 

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We're starting off with something to bring ease to your weeknights: three easy, fresh and tasty pasta dishes. Sending this to the husband now. Hint hint...

Working too hard? Ok, who isn't really? I'm not guilty of all of these points, but holy moly numbers 3 and 4 stuck out to me.

I think I've always known I'm an HSP (highly sensitive person). Here's why we need rituals

You ladies know I'm now living the pared back life in my wardrobe (and yes, I promise there are more posts to come like that!). Here's some more realistic tips on building a minimalist wardrobe

Do you read Cupcakes and Cashmere? Her blog is massive, but she seems really down to earth. I'm always into behind the scenes posts - here's one on the tech and apps Emily uses day to day.

I could pretty much recommend every episode of the podcast The Lively Show, but this one stood out to me because of the bravery and honesty around, I'm sure, a fairly taboo topic. An interesting story about dealing with painful sex

5 Christmas Staycation Ideas

 
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With Christmas just days away, most of our workplaces close down for a period of time.

Time off work is always a winner, but it can be a pricey nightmare to travel at this time of year. I also know a lot of people’s Christmas celebrations revolve around the city they live in, so they can’t stray too far.

Enter the staycation.

I was lucky enough to have my own staycation a couple of months back. A short break between jobs and extra time around the house sounded blissful to me, but as a Type A personality, suffering from bouts of imposter syndrome, I know I have the tendency to ‘potter’. Also known as: cleaning, cooking, doing boring errands and catching up on my long to do list.

All worthy activities that feel nice to tick off the list, but not exactly a break.

I planned out some activities to keep me occupied and away from the vacuum cleaner and also set some ground rules to bring ease to the period and make it feel different to my everyday routine.

First, the ground rules:

  • Enjoy a minimum of 9 hours sleep each night (what a rule!)
  • No cleaning
  • No social media, just email and my blog reader Feedly
  • No worrying or guilt

Then came the preparation…

I knew as a Type A, I couldn’t sit around a dirty house all week with no food in the house. The first morning of the staycation, I stocked the kitchen and gave the house a clean. I recommend the same for you if it will make the rest of your time off more enjoyable.

Now onto my top 5 staycation activities for you to try:

Make spa water

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This was a random one I’d read about on a couple of blogs about staycations, but it’s become a fast family favourite.

Making flavoured (or spa, as I’ve dubbed it) water is meant to give the impression that you’re on holiday, drinking something a little tropical and different to the norm.

My personal favourite was sliced cucumber and lemon infused in a jug of water (or mineral water if you prefer some fizz). Stick it in the fridge and enjoy for a couple of days, refreshing as needed. Lemon water is also meant to be great for your digestion and immune system.

Some other combinations I’m keen to try – fresh mint and lime, orange and mango slices, and blueberry and pomegranate. Delicious.

Catch up on media (not social!) with no guilt

Whether it’s piling up books beside our bed or in our Kindle, saving articles and emails to go back to one day, or making a list of the movies we need to see before we die, these fun lists start to morph into ‘have tos’ rather than ‘want tos’.

When I’m busy at work, it’s hard to find the time to enjoy these things, and even when I do, I know I’ve got other things I ‘could’ be doing. Time to ditch the guilt and indulge. Lie around for hours watching box sets, escaping into a book, or catching up on all the Serial podcasts. Take advantage of the time off, and no shame ladies.

Try those classes you never get to

Not all places are open over Christmas, but if you search ahead, you can totally tick some New Year’s resolutions off before the end of December.

Head to that yoga class you always skip (or even do the 10am one on a Tuesday that work always prevents you from making!), try a photography or cooking class – anything you would try on a vacation when you have the time.

Enjoy a 'do nothing' morning

These are the absolute best. Turn off your phone, do not set your alarm, even stash all your clocks out of sight.

Let your body clock wake you up, then stay in bed. Read, stare at the ceiling, do whatever works for you. Again, no guilt!

Visit new cafés and restaurants

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Another benefit of the staycation is the time to visit those cafes and restaurants you read about or saved in your phone during the year. On my staycation, I drove across town in the middle of the day (hello, no traffic) to try a new organic café. I honestly never go to that suburb and would rarely drive that far for lunch, but… I had the time…

Plus, often people travel out of town over the festive season, so you might find busier restaurants are easier to get into. Just check the opening hours.

And remember you’ve got at least 9 hours sleep ahead, so again, indulge with no guilt.

 

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone and even if you can’t take time off, consider a weekend staycation sometime soon! You deserve it.