|MEAL PLANNING| Weekly Plans & Prep

We now have twin Thermomix’s.  This is something my husband and I feel some shame about, but at the end of the day, it’s our lifestyle that has brought us to this decision.  We are both shift workers, I work all afternoon shifts 3pm-11:30pm, and he’s on a rotating roster.  We like to know what’s in our food, and both agree that the food I make in the thermies and from scratch in general tastes much better (after a lazy few weeks of cooking packet mix’s in the pressure cooker he actually asked me to go back to cooking from scratch).  So here we are, back to having 2 thermies.

I decided to make a post about our new meal planning schedule.  While meal planning is time-consuming, then there’s the shopping and the actual preparation time, it all seems like it’s too hard and it would be easier to get frozen dinners, light and easy or worst still just buy take away on the way home.  This isn’t really possible for us, either that or I wouldn’t get to eat if I didn’t prepare something before work since I have to eat my dinner at work 9 days out of 14.  My husband has high cholesterol, and with that a fatty liver, and I just like to eat better since I don’t eat a lot I need to make what I do eat count.  This year since we are both working full-time shift work we have struggled to stay on top of meals, after getting pregnant earlier in the year I was wondering how I was going to manage it all.  We have since lost the pregnancy, but the silver lining has given me an opportunity to trial and error some new ideas.

Everyone’s home/work balance is different, their routine is different and their family 20180611_1247047476449321106658475.jpgdynamic and requirements are different, and will change over time.  For this reason there no secret answer to managing a household, having a roster for the home, a shopping regime or a cooking allocation.  In our house, although I do most of the cooking, hubby will cook easier quick options (usually in the Tupperware pressure cooker where he can put everything in it and put it in the microwave, or in the thermie), however we share the rest, and he will hang out in the kitchen while I cook and load the dishwasher or handwash items that either can’t go in, or that don’t fit.  So we feel we have a balance.  However, cooking the food is only part of the process, the meals still need to be planned and the ingredients need to be bought.

We use a few tools to plan our meals.  Since purchasing a second Thermomix we now have the cook key, I will review this at a later date, but at the moment we are just implementing it into our routine.  The cookidoo recipe platform is a really good tool for anyone who has a Thermomix as it is a website you can log onto on your computer, phone or tablet from where ever you are, pick the recipes and add them to your planner where you can email yourself a shopping list.  We are finding this really good as it gives us something to look at for ideas, we have a dinners list at the moment and a “things to try” list for days when we feel like experimenting.  We then access the recipes we have chosen on the recipe platform onto the thermie via the cook key (which uses wifi to download them so we can use the guided cooking function – easier than looking at a tablet computer or phone that has a screen that times out).  Additionally, we use an app called “out of milk”, which allows us to make shopping lists that are organised into categories making it easier to work your way through the supermarket, we have also set up an account with this and can share the lists between our phones.  I often do the planning and hubby synchs the list and picks up the groceries on his way home.  We love it!

So armed with two thermies I have already set the foundations for what we hope will be a habit we can implement into our meal planning.  Hubby and I add recipes to the weekly planner on the week we want to try them and add things to the recipe lists we have created.  We do this throughout the week when we are watching tv at home or waiting for something like dinner to cook etc.  My roster works fortnightly, I have one day off one week and three off on the other, our new plan is that I will use my three-day-weekend to set us up for the fortnight, or at least the week.

Sunday: Meal planning – make the shopping lists and do the shopping
This includes dinners, implementing “leftovers” for work nights, homemade snacks, and lunch items.

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Note fridge set up.  Dairy on top where it’s coolest, veggies and leftovers in the middle and all the condiments and excess drinks in the crispers

Being an ex-Tupperware demonstrator I believe in the use of the ventsmart containers and the clear mates.  When I get home from the supermarket I cut up all the veggies and put them into containers according to how they breathe (yes they breathe), this gets weeks out of some items and a week out of others – if they last that long before we use them).  I also try to put any other items we prepare into clear containers as these are “man/child-proof” (if you have kids) and are more likely to be used if you can open the fridge and see what’s inside them.  Another trick to keeping your fresh produce longer is to store the containers in the middle of the fridge rather than at the bottom in the crisper as this is where the fridge is coolest.  We turned our fridge contents upside down, but I might leave that for another post.

Monday: Prepare – I am trying to make a savory snack/side for dinner (last fortnight it was a zucchini slice, this fortnight it’s a potato, pumpkin and sweet potato frittata), a sweet snack (last week carrot and walnut cake, this week maple bacon scrolls), and I aim to make either a dinner that night that will leave us leftovers, a layer dinner (like the steamed chicken in the varoma and soup in the bowl underneath), or cook two dinners at once.

 

Tuesday: Rest and Maintain – With the majority of the preparation taken care of, and leftovers in the fridge I try to enjoy the rest of my “weekend”.  Today I’m sharing this idea with you.  I am making my husband bread rolls this afternoon to go with the soup we made last week for his lunches in the next few days while he is on days off.  Tonight we are cooking an all in meal, and I am planning to make a pumpkin soup at the same time to cater for my week, this way when I go back to work tomorrow I can have the morning off from cooking for the next two days (also we are running out of space in the fridge).  Today is about me, rest, relax, watch tv, do some yoga, read a book/magazine, catch up on some laundry.

Two Thermomix’s may seem extreme, especially when you think about the cost, but I have purchased one at a time and since I use it all the time it really is worth it.  I can cook two dinners at once and have the next night off, or cook all day for one day and freeze half of it, whatever works in your household.  This is what works for us, but the only reason it does is that we maintain the planning process, that’s the most important part.  If you have a family of fussy eaters I suggest opening up the planning to them, take what they suggest on board and use it for your planning for the week.  If one of your kids likes mac and cheese (as my hubby does), make it a side to go with something else and throw in some extra veggies, we use bargaining as a tool to negotiate.

If you don’t have a Thermomix it’s not the end of the world, you can plan your meals and preparation around utilising different devices.  I used to cook something in the slow cooker, a dish in the oven, and while that was baking I would prepare something else in a frying pan or wok.  Then you have a stew or casserole, shepherds pie/lasagne and a curry.  Alternatively, I have had a cooking day with a friend so there’s someone to help, especially if there are kids to consider, and at the end of the day you take half each home to feed your families and you have variety.  Or cook them at home and swap later over a visit and a coffee.

 

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Miscarriage: What I Learned For Sure

I won’t go into the story, as I think there are so many; some similar, some different and traumatic, and some are just personal.  We found out at 8 weeks that it probably happened days after we found out we were pregnant.

We learned that telling a few close friends and family make for a great support network when the symptoms present themselves, and even more-so when they are confirmed.

Health professionals will tell you not to tell too many people that the stalk is coming to visit.  This is the first “beware” message you will receive, the first instance to instil doubt usually.  I have to say I disagree with this.  We planned to tell our immediate family, but a few friends found out as I wasn’t prepared for circumstantial events.  Therefore, at a party I told a friend who was trying to talk me into jelly shots, and anyone who knows me knows I don’t mind a cocktail or two at a party, another friend I told as she was trying to offer me painkillers for a headache and found it odd I refused when I struggle with migraines and always like to get on top of them early.  I also told a nurse I work with when I found out at work that I was pregnant, and another friend at work later that night as I knew she would be over the moon, and she was.  My husband told a friend at work as he was initially stressed about it, and of course, we told our siblings and parents.

We were initially wary of how many people we told, to the point that when my husband found out I told a few people at work he was worried we had gone too far. However, you have to think about your support groups, who would you turn to if the worst was to happen? The people we told were the people who would be the ones to comfort us, support us and that we would talk to when we needed a distraction, and who we have called when we needed help. For instance one of the friends I told was the same person who drove me to the emergency department while my husband was working, and who has been a great support to both of us since. My husbands’ mother and two of my friends have all experienced miscarriages also, which has made them great supports because unlike other friends and family who try to empathise, these people know how it feels and seem to know what to say and expect.

We learned that no matter how well you prepare for the worst, you will still feel disappointment, emptiness and grief.

We knew for at least a week that things were not looking great, I had looked at bloods, constantly, thought about the previous ultrasound results, and talked to other expecting mothers to be on discussion posts and made my own thread previously thinking I was overreacting. All of us coming to the same conclusion. Just waiting for a health professional to admit it in writing so we could have some kind of closure. Being nurses we had long known, but that didn’t make it any easier. I thought I was prepared, I’m not sure how hubby was really, he just kept saying he was flat but ok.

On my own a few times I felt sad, lonely, empty and like I didn’t know what to look forward to anymore. I teared up on my own in the car a few times, at home on my own, and at work twice. Now I am still a little lost, not sure how I should feel or what I should be doing. We would like to try again but hubby is worried about putting me through this again, and I imagine afraid of the grief of going through this again.

We learned the world does not stand still for you to figure out how to cope and come out on the other side, but it may provide some leniencies if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by great people.

When you lose someone it feels as though the world and time may have lapsed. This is not the case. Day turns into night, daily life as we know it moves forward as it always has, everyone goes to work, there are meals to prepare and bills to pay and bosses to answer to. However, you feel like everything else has fallen away momentarily, like all there is, is this great loss that happened, something significant, that has briefly caused a shift. Life continues, and you fail to realise.

I called in sick for two days, but hubby had to continue working as he recently started a new job. I tried to go back but I was unwell and emotional. I took the rest of the week off, we filtered through the people we had to tell, I attended safe social outings that I felt ok with, we had visits from family, texts and calls, and as a couple we spent hubby’s days off together watching tv, reading and chipping away at day to day tasks.

We learned how lucky we are.

We have had such amazing support, getting messages most days and phone calls checking on us. Flowers and cards bought and sent, visits offers of help for anything. And most of all, we have been lucky to have quite a bit of time to be together, to talk, or not to talk, for hugs and to make the shortfalls for each other. We haven’t argued or lashed out, we have had a really supported time together. Hubby got the shifts he needed at work to come to my appointments even if he couldn’t get the time off, and my manager was great, the way she always has been for me, waiting for me to let her know when I am ok to return.

The biggest thing I have learned isn’t the coping, the emotional or physical stuff, it’s that there is always hope. Before a rainbow, we must endure the storm, in my life all the good things have come about after something terrible, but always something greater comes along. There is always something to look forward to, we just never know what it is or how it will come to be.

We don’t know what that will be so far, it’s all still very fresh, but we are waiting a little longer and will make some plans to give us something to look forward to in the meantime.

But…

Most importantly we learned, the best is yet to come!

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Happiness Resolution: April – New Beginnings

Continuing with the happiness resolution, after thinking about Easter today I have decided to make April about new beginnings.  Today (good Friday), I worked, and while the patients were receiving their non-red meat dishes I stopped for a moment to think about the meaning of Easter.  I realised that Easter is about new beginnings as much as the beginning of the year is, and I wondered…  Should Easter be the right time for us to be making our new resolutions?

When you stop and think about it some of us who only get holidays at Christmas, not to mention the nature of the season, leaves us feeling frumpy, a little heavier and deconditioned.  I know I was this year, being at least 3, maybe 4 kgs heavier, my clothes didn’t fit so well, my routine was broken and I was struggling to get things back on track.  So I spent these last few months trying my best to get things back to “normal”.  We have tried to get our routine back, with both of us working shift work, trying to get our housework routine back on track, and meal planning organised I came to the conclusion that I need to change something.

This week I have really struggled with my morning shifts.  Every day I came home from new beginnigswork for a 1-2hr nap, I wake up and have a wine/cocktail with toast for dinner while I am home alone because my husband and I are on alternate shifts.  How sad!  I recently had a co-worker at work notice that I really hate working mornings and so after her having a chat with my manager we have changed my shifts to afternoons.  As pathetic as it sounds I really am not a morning person, I feel like that statement is a cop-out for getting up early, but I feel I don’t sleep so well on mornings because I worry about sleeping in, I get less sleep, and I struggle to function in the mornings when I get to work.  I continue to yawn until 9:30 or sometimes until I get to mornings tea from 10am until 11am.  The patients laugh at me, but I really find it a struggle, and I have never been good at it.  After having the conversation with my manager, I realised since she was so accommodating, this might really be something that could positively change and improve our home life.

On afternoon shifts I am so productive.  I get up and do the housework, I order or go and buy the groceries, I get time to attend to the kitty litter daily (when you have 4 cats that’s really a necessity), and I have some time for me, for my friends and for my family.  I know what you’re thinking, I have heard it from most of the mothers at work (keeping in mind I have no kids), “don’t you like to have dinner at home?”  Truth be told, I have 4 days a fortnight off like most people, even when I do overtime I still get 4 days off, so that’s 4 days a fortnight I get to have a home cooked and fresh meal at home, on afternoon shifts I have the opportunity to cook good quality food, freeze some supplies for us and prep for the week or fortnight depending on our plans.

Everyone’s lifestyle is different.  What works for us doesn’t always work for others, we all have different routines, different commitments and different expectations.  I guess time for changethis month what I want to emphasise is the importance of making the right changes for your circumstances, at the right time.  Today I have been thinking about the act of new years resolutions, we make all these plans while we are still in holiday mode, we aren’t in the right mindset and we need that adjustment time because we all know the biggest changes are made up of smaller habit transitions.

So, in light of Easter, the month of April and success in personal change…  Consider making January – March a period of transition, try getting out of holiday mode, resuming your life from the year before, make a list of all the things you want to change, and start to make these changes in April…  The month of new beginnings.

Our plans this year were to make time for us.  After spending the last 3 years under stress and restrictions,  now we have an extra income we had plans to take regular breaks (nothing extravagant), and with no study, create more balance between commitments and downtime.  We planned to settle into our new house, make it a bit more homely, set up a foundation for the rest of the year, new habits to improve our happiness and set aside time for us.  So far April is headed for a great start; a weekend away booked (to visit the in-laws, but since they live in a nice place on the coast it should make a lovely weekend away – although we live on the coast, it is nice to get away for a short period, while you can have a weekend off at home, there’s something to be said for getting away from all of your committments), my work schedule is off to a new start (hopefully for the best), potential for more productivity and relaxation, and stressing less (something I really struggle with).

sunhappinessWhat are your plans for this year?  If it hasn’t panned out the way you had hoped, why not write off the first three months as returning to business as usual and use April to kickstart some new habits?  Make a list of all the things you wish you did, could do or want to do, and make some small changes to achieve them, or some of them.  Despite my yearning for maintaining downtime, I want to make more time for exericse, and since I work 2mins from the beach I plan on taking swimmers, gym gear or both and going for walk or swim at the beach before or after work before winter arrives.  I would love to get back into yoga and pole too.  But, one thing at a time.

 

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Enjoy Your Happiness – stop searching for something you already have

After reading books about happiness, and having several ideas of what I thought happiness was, I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t some goal we should strive to attain!  Happiness is not about material things, it’s not about some picture we imagine we have to create in order to feel what we are expecting it to be.  Happiness is a feeling, and it is a feeling we can stop and enjoy at any time, it is something we have to allow.  Let me explain.

We are so busy these days trying to fit so much into our lives that we forget to stop and “enjoy” the important things.  We forget to enjoy the cup of coffee with have with friends rushing clock.jpegfor 20mins because that was all we could spare them, we forget to really stop and listen to our spouses’ debrief when we ask them about their day, we forget to listen when we are catching up with friends, instead we are thinking about being heard becasue we have our own issues and concerns with minimal time to deal with them while we have a listening ear, not to mention thinking about what else we have to get through today, trying to remember what engagements we have this week and thinking about all the chores and errands we still have to get through before dinner…  Oh, and what are we going to cook for dinner?!

Are we ever really present with people anymore?

I don’t have children, but I used to work as a sort of nanny so I understand the running around involved in the school pick-ups, shopping, after-school activities, and then there’s the maintenance of the house to fit into the day, not to mention work.  What I wonder about is where is the time to enjoy all the achievements, the precious moments you will never have again, and the togetherness that we will all miss when the family unit or close support network is no longer available to us?

Are we so busy rushing around, trying to organise everything that we’re actually already missing it?

Or does highlighting this just bring us more pressure, as we realise there is yet another aspect of life that we are failing to achieve?  OR can we use this observation to take a step back, re-evaluate and prioritise our daily goals?  Is it possible to make certain moments count, to create quality interactions, to be present in the moment and enjoy it rather than looking at the time and worrying about what else we should be doing, when those other things might be able to wait?

I may have written about this before, but this is something I really struggle with myself.  I try to fit so much into my day, I commit to things I would rather not be doing, all I look be presentforward to on my days off is half an hour on my verandah with a coffee, glass of wine (whatever the beverage is) and some downtime that isn’t occupied by tv where I don’t know where the time has gone.  A moment in the week just to be present and enjoy sitting peacefully, no rushing, no stressing and no planning.  My husband and I are both shift workers, so we don’t get a great deal of time together lately, so I have been trying to maximise the time we do get off together.  When we have a couple of hours together or when I am home alone in the evening for dinner I make two all-in dinners to put into the fridge or freezer to use for leftovers for work, or for those nights when you really can’t be bothered cooking.  It means we don’t eat take away, we can talk while we do it, we use it as an opportunity to plan our week together, and we do what we can to keep the days we have off together free of housework, meal prep and errands if we can help it.  What I really want to do is plan a weekend away with him, but so far we haven’t had enough of an opportunity where our rosters allow for it, so instead we go out to the movies, or to dinner together.

I have been getting into a magazine called Simplify, by the guys that run the facebook page “Becoming Minimalist”.  I read an article yesterday from someone who was diagnosed with cancer and had gone through time-consuming alternative therapies that left no time for social interactions with family and friends, and had ultimately made him re-evaluate his “quality of life”.  This had me thinking about where we place our values, and what I would do in that situation?  I wondered about my life choices.  I work full-time (often overtime), I never say no to people and fill my days off with things for others leaving no time to do the things I need to do, and I feel as though I am only keeping my head above water with the housework and things I would like to do.  Don’t misunderstand my dilemma, I love spending time with friends and catching up, but I am also a homebody and I feel as though I am not allowing enough time for myself to wind down, relax and de-stress.  Consequently, I am stressing in my sleep instead.

So I wonder, why are people so “unhappy”?  I feel as though this might be a topic unable to be thoroughly approached in a blog post, however, it has led me to approach my own ideas and make some of my own realisations.

What is happiness?

A quick google search leads me to definitions along the lines of “a state of emotional well-being”, “encompassing having a good life”.  While this definition is broadly generic and what you gotsubjective, it raises for me an array of new questions.  What is well-being and what do we determine as a “good life”?  Instead, I wonder if we need to set our own happiness guidelines?  My husband and I have often talked about what is important to us in the future, and it’s much the same as most people, financial freedom, travel and the opportunity to go out and do things.  He likes to go fishing, I like to go to the markets, go shopping for fabric and sew, catch up with friends, I guess fitness is important too so that we are able to do these things.  We don’t need to live in a big house by the beach, but that might be happiness for someone else, to wake up to the smell of the ocean every day.

Our long-term happiness goals are split between financial goals (that give us peace of mind rather than material possessions that we want to purchase – we would like to be debt free), time – we would like to have more free time so we are working towards getting into a position where we can both drop back at work and do more together, and slow down.  That last one is mostly directed at me, I rush around too much, and I need to stop filling my days off before they arrive.  While those are our long-term “happiness goals”, we are actually happy as we are, all that other stuff would improve our level of happiness, as we would have less to worry about, but I do wonder if that’s just life’s journey.  If we didn’t have something to achieve what would we do, and how would we know we have progressed?

Happiness is being contented with the moment!

The homeless can be happy, terminally ill people can be happy, and even prisoners can find joy in a moment during their final meal.  Our ability to be happy is not so much about some unrealistic feeling we think we should be experiencing, it’s about finding joy in what we have and not worrying about the future, even if for just one moment.

We can have a plan for the future, but we need to enjoy the journey before we miss it

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The Reality of Headaches

I have suffered from headaches since I was 4 or 5 (those are my earliest memories of having one), since then they have come and gone, sometimes they are manageable, other times what I would consider severe, and they can be regular or they can be further apart.

When I was 5 I would get the occasional one, I recall a period when I was 8 where I got a headache every day for a week, always in my sleep, but I wasn’t too distressed and they resolved.  However, once I turned 18 they got worse.  I was waking up with them, I couldn’t lay on the lounge and watch tv because I would get them, and being in the sun in the glare or in a room with fluoro lighting would also set me off.  At this time I would take panadol and neurofen and head to bed, sometimes for 2-3 days, listening and feeling my head pounding, I felt every pound wishing I was doing anything else but waiting for it to pass.  I found it so debilitating.

I’m not sure how it first came about, but eventually, I found codeine, I would take panadeine forte to take the edge off.  However, at this time I was getting them weekly and eventually, they didn’t help.  I moved to mersyndol which has a calmative, that helped put me to sleep and for a while, I would wake up with no headache, but I soon adapted to that too.  I tried a few different medications supposedly that worked for some people, none of which ever seemed to work for me, the biggest dilemma I found was that I had to take these medications at the first sign.  My headaches seem to come on in my sleep, they get worse and eventually wake me up when they are raging, but at this time those first line options are no longer useful.  I have eventually been able to come back to panadeine extra (which has a lower dose of codeine), I use this when I need to, as a last resort.  I have since also discovered aspirin, which I find quite effective, however, I have now been suffering a headache for two days.  I thought I would wake up and it would have improved, I have taken more panadeine forte and aspirin than I would normally (usually one or two doses fixes it), and I have had to resort to alternatives that I know help.  I have a migraine stick, which is a roll on of peppermint oils, it changes the sensation of the area, makes it cooler, also an ice pack can be helpful for this.  I find a change in position is sometimes necessary, for some reason I have to sit up because laying down only makes it worse.  There are other treatment options besides medication, yogaI find that yoga helps me to prevent them a little, and in the early stages of a headache it can alleviate the pain completely, I have even tried meditation exercises that can help relax my head and relieve some pressure.

Where to now?  I have a referral to see a pain specialist who deals with migraines commonly, I have previously had a chat to him on the ward at work, he wants to try a few medications to prevent them, and worst case there are always botox injections.  I don’t know how I feel about any of these options, but after 16 years of headaches, I’m starting to feel like enough is enough.

Those who don’t get or have never had a migraine just don’t understand exactly what it’s like.  As a nurse I am always assessing the pain of others, we use a pain scale you may have heard of before 1-10 with 10 being the worst pain imaginable…  The flaw with this is an individuals’ perception.  I don’t believe I have ever experienced a true 10/10, since migraines are the worst pain I have ever had, and I can function ok with them (while my hemigrainead pounds worse when I bend over and move my eyes I could still manage if I had to), but at worst I would still probably only rank my pain at a 7.  However, the pain of a migraine, though bad, isn’t the debilitating part, it’s the relentlessness of the heavy pounding and never getting a break for the duration.  At least with an injury, there is usually a position you can get into, with my headaches I have to get into certain positions and avoid other positions to prevent escalating.

The most debilitating part is the effect it has on your quality of life.  When I first started to get headaches that I consider went beyond a “normal” headache – which I would consider curable with a couple of panadol – I would be left to lay in bed from hours to days.  My only reprieve was finding a position that left my head pounding a little lighter, I would lay there and do my best to dry and relax my head, minimise eye strain and drink plenty of water.  Crying is no good either, that just increased the pressure and made my head pound harder.

In my experience migraines not only affect me physically, they affect my work and my downtime.  At work when I go in with a headache, nurses say to me I should just call in sick, but I don’t think they realise how often I get them, and that I would never have any sick leave if I did that, so I try my best to manage them there using the migraine stick and aspirin.  If you haven’t suffered from severe headaches you can’t understand the gravity of what it does to you, it makes you sick, it brings you down, I used to spend so much time in bed in a dark room, that now I try not to let them get in my way.  If I stay in and go to bed it must be bad.  And, now that I get them at work almost weekly I feel as though I need to get serious about seeing the pain specialist, as I am getting them after a busy work week and they are ruining my days off.  Although, I guess it does force me to sit and relax, even if that involves trying to manage the pain as well.

However, the take-home message is that I need to be doing some more regular yoga, and if that doesn’t help maybe a chiro or physio might not be a bad option to try.

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February: Turning Resolutions into Goals

It’s now February.  I was listening to the radio on the way to work today and they were talking about new years’ resolutions and wondering if people still make them these days, they came to the conclusion they must not be that popular anymore because they only had one caller respond.  While I was listening to this I was thinking about myself, as selfish as that sounds.  I was thinking about how I always have something I would like to achieve, even if I don’t share it with the world or with my immediate circle of friends, but I think we all have something we would like to achieve.

This got me to thinking about the resolutions we do make, and I may have mentioned this before but I tend to think they are set unfairly.  We make goals like “I want to lose weight”, “I want to save more money”, “I want a new job” and “I want to be more organised”, but these are not goals, they are outcomes.  What we should be doing is looking at the outcome we want to achieve and making smaller goals that will lead to the result of weight loss, more money in our bank accounts or more time to ourselves, meals prepared for work, whatever it is we hope to achieve.

As part of the same radio segment I was listening to they mentioned how new years’ resolutions were easy kept for January, but by the time we reach February the motivation and inspiration is all gone.  What we need to maintain our goals and dreams worth waiting foris more achievable aims.  Having thought about this I have made a few lifestyle changes, the kinds of changes that once we create habits with are more sustainable, and can continue for longer than the 31 days in January.  I have returned to meal planning, I have prepped food, I have a plan for my husband’s breakfast, and our lunches and dinners, we have made plans to get to the gym and I have recommenced yoga at home (in the hopes of improving my flexibility and strength enough to have the confidence to head back to a class), I have kept a day of my 3 day weekend for social meetings, and a day for me.  I have made a budget, a plan for our year financially, so we haven’t left our goals with unrealistic expectations.  While the road is paved with good intentions, I have so far managed to sustain these changes, but it remains to be a work in progress until these changes become a habit.

The biggest barrier to keeping new years resolutions are schedules, motivation and support.  I find the easiest way to maintain continuity is to make lifestyle changes, make small changes and remain accountable.  Tell friends or family about your goals, this might trigger a conversation about you having similar goals and maybe you can help motivate each other.  For example, I was talking to a friend about my goals this year, to lose the 3 kilos I gained over the Christmas break, make more time for friends, not allow myself to be “too busy” and to be more organised with meals for the week (we are both shift workers).  This lead to her telling me she had similar goals for the year, so we have been sharing our exercise efforts, meal planning ideas (which has been really helpful to both of us as we are trying things we wouldn’t normally have thought of and provided more variety), and we have made a plan to meet up weekly for a catch up, coffee and walk, since we both have Mondays off.

The biggest obstacle is to make smaller changes and make them one at a time.  I have to admit I haven’t done this one change at a time, however, I have reintroduced some old habits that will really help this year, and I have implemented some new ideas to help get us through it.  We want to be more organised around the house, with two shift workers we worry the house will get behind, we will be relying on frozen meals and wasting the food we have bought due to being too time poor.  So we have a routine, we make a plan of what we can do to help each other out.

These days women and men both work, men are capable of helping out around the house, and we can all do a little to lighten the load, supporting each other and enabling the other to achieve their goals.  The last few years we have been doing just that.  My husband wasn’t happy in his job and he wanted a change, so I took on the sole responsibility of providing financially while he went back to uni to re-train, he picked up the housework and I took a step back focusing on work and working a lot of overtime,.  During his second year of uni, I decided I wanted to do a post-graduate study and so we adjusted our routine again.  Now we are both back to working full time, neither of us has any study, so we are re-structuring our regime again.  We do what we need in order to achieve our goals, no matter how big or small they might be.  The main thing to remember is that we should approach them with the same attitude we would at work or with a personal issue, if you are having trouble utilise the people around you, ask for their support, or offer support if you know someone who is struggling or finding something challenging.  Share your struggles and achievements, because you just never know how much you help someone else, either by letting them see they are not alone in their struggles or by seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

what you gotIn answer to the radio host, yes I think we all make new years’ resolutions, I just don’t think we always think of them like that though.  I think we all have goals, we all have something we don’t like about ourselves or our lives, and I don’t think I know a single person who is happy with their life 100%, so happy there is nothing they would change.  While we tend to yearn for the wrong things sometimes, the things we should really be aiming for are family, friends and happiness.  However, happiness comes in all shapes and sizes, and what provides happiness for one person does not do the same for another.  Some people aren’t happy with their bodies, some aren’t happy with their health, home, income, family or job.  But maybe instead of looking at what we aren’t happy with, we could focus on what we appreciate and love.

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Happiness Project: January – Slow down

I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I wanted to recommence/continue the “happiness project” I was attempting last year.  Part of this was to improve my accountability I think, set goals that I could chip away at, and hopefully improve the chances of their longevity.  This year I want to do the same, only I’m hoping with fewer distractions I will be able to maintain my consistency.

My new years’ resolutions were primarily to get on top of my time for myself, but I would also like to add a few things, like being more mindful of certain things.  So I have decided the month of January would be about making time for me, even if that’s a little time for reading, sitting on the verandah watching the storm (like I did tonight), going for 20180109_2050111202848350.jpga walk, to the gym (as this helps me organise and spend some time with my thoughts), or whatever I feel like doing at the time.  Additionally, I want to be more present.  I have decided that means I need to implement some strategies around my approach to other people, I want to be more patient, calm and on a personal level I want to be more laid back.  This will mean I have to identify when something is making me feel stressed, anxious or impatient, and implementing strategies to manage and de-escalate before I react.  As easy as it sounds, I don’t think it will be that easy.

I have done a lot of reading around anxiety and happiness in the last 6 months or more.  I read Gretchen’s book “The Happiness Project”, my inspiration for this idea, and the reason I decided to start a diary to track my progress.  I started one last year but it sort of fell away, so this year I want to make regular entries about my plans and progress, a reference for me to look back at.  I was thinking about extending it to writing about my concerns as this seems to help me psychologically, allowing me to deal with things and move forward with a clear and uncluttered headspace.  I also thought this would help to identify triggers and look at how I have dealt with things, enabling me to make plans for following months or even projects if this gets that far.

I have been reading Sarah Wilson’s “First, We Make the Beast Beautiful”.  Although I wouldn’t have thought I suffer from anxiety, after reading a little over half of the book I am looking at some of the experiences she describes and wondering if I don’t have a little in some areas myself.  I find this realisation has enabled me to identify some areas I struggle with, and I am hoping to address them this year.  I find the book interesting, and I am learning quite a lot about human interactions and reactions, something I have been interested in more recently.  I want to be nicer, be less stressed, more patient and relaxed, therefore I have been reading books to provide me with some more insight, the only way I know how to learn about things.  I don’t do as well watching, searching on youtube, I enjoy reading, and learning from the research and others experience.  This is the first step for me in making changes I am yearning for, I need to identify what they are, and realise what could help me manage them.

If I have learned anything, it’s that we can’t change other people.  Well, we can I guess a little, it’s what happens in a defacto relationship or a marriage.  We combine our lifestyles, we share an existence, that requires one or both of us to change, either to the other person’s ideas or to meet in the middle.  For instance, I never ate breakfast for such a long time, I usually have brunch and dinner, however, when I met my (now) husband I decided it was rude to cook him breakfast and not eat with him, I didn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable.  So I started having breakfast.   I’m sure that was not the main cause, but I ended up gaining 6kgs.  I have since found a way that he can eat his 3 solid meals a day and I have gone back to my usual routine, but I made the effort to change for him, it didn’t work out for me, now he makes his breakfast and me a coffee first thing in the morning, then we have lunch and dinner together.  Additionally, he was against cats, he hated them, said he would never have one and thought they were horrible creatures.  He ended up buying me one, which he grew to love, and recently he decided we needed a cat to keep our original cat company, and now we have 3 new kittens.  I know those examples sound like he’s always changing to what I want to do, but additionally, he is a mad fisherman and I will make the time to pack a picnic, chairs, blankets whatever it takes to go with him because he wants the company.  We work together, we have both compromised and find it works well to combine our routines.

Which leads me to January’s rules:

  • Take at least 20-30mins daily where possible to be present – this will assist with patients
  • While every action has a reaction – reassess, and ask yourself is this important?  What was the intention here?  Take a breath and then respond.
  • Do something kind
  • SLOW DOWN! Stop rushing, take the time, and don’t overbook your time
  • Take time out for a social appointment – aim for once a week.  Anything from a date night/brunch with the partner, to a coffee with a friend
  • Spend less time on social media

 

These goals might be ambitious for the first month, but I believe some of them are important to others.  I want to spend less time on facebook, on my phone and more time being present with people.  I want to be less cranky, impatient and rushed, so I think engaging in things that make me present are a great idea, being with friends, exercising and reading/sewing is a great way to try to start chipping away at this idea.  ‘/

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