Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A year of four days

Sunrise this morning from my bedroom

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

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

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

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

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

In other news...

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

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Urban foraging and flat lays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to see my Instagram pics.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Yay, yum, haha

Morning walk

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

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

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

Evening walk

Monday, March 6, 2017

Surprise energy

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

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

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

Hi hi, hi ho, it's off to work I go 

 Moomba is moving in. Spotted on my walk home

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Little adventures

Morell Bridge in the distance

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

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

Met a mannequin on today's little adventure

Saturday, March 4, 2017

We rise by lifting others*

Legacy mural, Drewery Lane in the city

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Small things

I found a teeny weeny feather on the floor of my kitchen