Monday, June 27, 2011

How to feel better

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. It started from being sad about Atlas departing, but has carried on to a general flatness and loss of interest in things that usually excite me. I also feel a little burnt out and detached from others.

I’ve never had proper depression but from time to time, right back to my teens I have had the occasional bout of mild melancholia. It’s also mid-winter here so that may have something to do with it, even though I normally love the cosiness of winter.

I know it will pass with time, but meanwhile I’ve been doing the following to help it on its way.

Being gentle with myself, not doing too much if I don’t want to. Rather than a whirlwind marathon housework day (which I just don’t have the energy for at the moment) I do the basics and spend some time pottering, sewing, reading and relaxing.

Having early nights – I start winding down about 9pm and am in bed reading well before 10pm lights out. I’ve been sleeping like a log thank goodness. I also find I feel worse in the evening, so it’s nice to wash my face good and early and hop into bed. I think my body needs lots of good, pure rest. One night last week I made noises about heading off to bed. ‘But it’s only 10 past 8!’ my husband said incredulously. That was quite funny. I managed to last until 9.

Not medicating with food and drink, but following my WW propoints guidelines. When I did decide to let loose with food and drink, I felt a lot worse. Being in control of my diet and my weight goes a long way towards feeling happier.

Remembering to breathe. Often I find myself holding onto my breath. It feels such a relief to let it flow in, and out. I need to remind myself many times a day.

Keeping to my daily routines.

Talking to someone. I told my husband last night I was feeling low. I feel better for having shared it, he had some helpful suggestions, and now he is looking out for me too.

Yoga twice a week – I have missed it a few times lately and have been only attending once a week. I’m sure this has not helped my low mood as I always feel great - energised, relaxed and positive after a yoga workout.

Walking outside. I walk to yoga and back, and I also like to do errand walks on foot as long as it's not pouring with rain. A light sprinkle is ok, I take an umbrella. I met two old colleagues for lunch one day last week, and walked to meet them. It was the next suburb over and took about 45-50 minutes each way but it meant I didn't have to find a park, and got some exercise and fresh air at the same time. It was inner-city too so quite interesting.

Reading – I have been alternating my positive thinking books with pure escapism (currently the first Sophie Kinsella Shopaholic book – that series had me laughing out loud they are so crazy).

Also escapism tv/movies. Nothing gritty or real for me I’m afraid (now or at any other time). Keeping up with the Kardashians and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are great medicine I find. Not hours on end though. Just an episode here and there. I also like to rewatch favourite feelgood fun movies at times like this.

Clearing out clutter corners at home and at work. If an area is bothering me, even if I have other things to do, I attack the clutter corner. It often only takes a small amount of time, and I feel infinitely better and more able to tackle the harder jobs instantly. I went through all my trays at work on Saturday, filing and throwing out. A clear in-tray is a thing of beauty isn’t it? Even if it doesn’t last very long, but I will keep on top of it.

Taking vitamin C. I go through phases of taking vitamins, and at the moment I don’t take any, but I always have vitamin C in the cupboard for when a cold threatens to come on. I read in a model beauty book ages ago that models take a 2000mg dose of vitamin C to give them a boost. As shallow as I am, I have been taking the models advice.

Be selfish and say no. No to library books that don’t hold my attention, no to tv programmes or movies I have taped and decided I don’t like. It feels hard to do, and I don’t like to let people down, but learning to say no is so beneficial to our mental health. If I get a niggling feeling in my stomach when I think about something, I have been making a decision there and then to do something about it properly (not just putting it off).

Indulging in the little luxuries. I use all my lovely things and don’t feel guilty at all.

Don’t go shopping! No good purchasing decisions could possibly be made so I’ve been staying away from the shops.

Daydream about the future. I do this both by myself by writing down lists of my ideal lifestyle, home, personal style, person I want to be, and with my husband about what type of home we want to purchase, what we would do with tons of money if we won the lottery (not that we take out tickets, but still, it’s fun).

Plan ahead little treats. We are booked into our favourite 5-star luxury hotel right here in the city we live in a month or so’s time. Just for a night. They always have good package deals and it’s a mini-break we can still have while running a seven-days-a-week business. Looking forward to going really is half the fun.

Actually, I’m starting to feel a little bit better already. Have I missed anything off the list? What makes you feel better when you’re low? I wonder what a chic French woman would do to combat malaise?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Just a little more Atlas

Thank you for all your lovely comments on the last post. I still feel sad and I sometimes don't feel I have the right to because we only had him for a short time, and we knew he was old already. Therefore I should have been expecting it, right?

It's funny how they get under your skin very quickly. I really miss seeing his little silver face around, and feeling him rest against my legs at night. For such a diminutive physical presence (about the size of a small cat) he leaves a big gap in the atmosphere.

Above, snug as a bug in a dalmation-spotted rug

He was a darling wee thing, who never failed to make us laugh with his not-quite right way of lying on something, be it a dog-bed or a cushion. 'Centre' was never in his vocabulary, and sometimes not even 'On'.

Enjoy these photos of our precious Atlas in the spirit they are shown. We will miss his woolly presence in our lives.

Atlas' Bed Fails

Melting off his bed at home


Tucked up on the edge of his bed at work


Not quite in. He would hop into the centre and then start twirling around, 'flattening the rushes' as they do. But he invariably ended up going off-centre. I would often have to reposition him.


Missing the bed altogether out the back of the shop. Gee those shoes and socks must be nice to cosy up to.


There are no words for this one. His best ever I think.


And back at home, asleep on the sofa. He loved dangling his head low. Clearly he knew that having your head below your heart was a good thing to do regularly (as told to me by my yoga teacher).


I'll be back in the land of chic soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rest in peace little poodle

Yesterday was a very sad day for us. Our wee man Atlas went to poodle heaven.

Within the last month he had declined rapidly, and became blinder and more confused. Unless we were holding him, or he was asleep on a lap, he spent his day bumping into and tripping over everything. He probably felt like he was under constant attack. A bit dramatic but you get what I mean. A lot of things he used to do with ease, like go for a walk on his leash, or take himself outside to the lawn and back again, he couldn't do.

So we made the hard decision to take him to visit the most lovely and compassionate vet I've ever met, and he is now reunited with his beloved original dad John, and matching brother Hercules. Atlas is young again, and racing around up there like a mad thing.

He only needed us for seven short months, but we were so glad to make it happy, safe, warm and secure for him, and of course offering a selection of delectable treats at mealtimes, walks on tap, a cosy lap for home-time, and a snug rug on top of the bed at night. He travelled in luxury in the car, wrapped in a German wool rug on the passenger's knee.

The photo above was taken in our shop a couple of weeks ago. He was wearing his red fleece top I made to keep him cosy now that it is winter here. Atlas had a private burial at home wearing this jacket, and wrapped in a matching red fleece blanket.

Rest in peace our little darling boy. We miss you already.

20 February 1996 - 14 June 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Becoming and staying slim

Back when I started this blog, just over a year ago, I wrote my first post giving up all my body secrets. How much I weighed at the time, my height, my calculated BMI and my dissatisfaction at this weight. At the time only two people, who did not know me in real life, did not even live in the same country as me, knew about my blog.

Over time, I have told my sister, mother, and one girlfriend about it. And many other people who don’t know me in real life started reading too. Even though my body was still bothering me, I felt shy about sharing it. I was also worried about jinxing myself too. Mere seconds (or so it felt like) after sharing my Countdown to 40 post, I fell off the healthy living wagon and was not as svelte and slim as I would have liked for my birthday.

For the way my mind works, I find it doesn’t work for me to have a goal time such as a birthday, Christmas, wedding or summer. I just rebel against it straight away. When I was married three years ago I was a little slimmer. I had it in my mind I would look lovely in the photos and then, relaxed. I slipped back into some old habits and as a result every time I look at our wedding photos all I can see is a podgy stomach in my satin dress. The poor posture didn’t help matters either.

The trouble with me is that I am not a naturally thin person, who happily chooses the low-calorie option. My sister has a current obsession with carrots and can’t get enough of them. I, on the other hand can be obsessed with any of the following: popcorn (non-natural), potato chips, ice-cream, etc. Do you see the difference here and how it would translate to the hips?

In the past I have dieted with Weight Watchers and achieved great results. Unfortunately my maintenance follow-up was not so great. Rather than continue on with my healthy eating, I would assume that once I was skinny, I would just stay that way. Sadly, that is not the case. By slipping back into my old habits, the weight would creep back on and the 5kg (11 pounds) I had been so diligent about saying Au Revoir to, was back with me. Bonjour!, it would say.

We all know that the ideal French woman (and indeed many real ones) are very disciplined with their caloric intake, thus ensuring they stay their ideal weight and are making the most of their lovely clothes, which are all the same size, not varying from 10 up to 12-14 as mine are.

Even though I said to myself ‘no more Weight Watchers’ after finding it too restrictive, earlier this year in March I found myself turning up to a Weight Watchers meeting near work. I decided that I would try the new points programme and told myself I would continue going to meetings until I reached my goal weight of 57-60kg (125 to 132 pounds). I was over 70kg (154 pounds) at the time, almost exactly the same as listed in the first post of this blog.

Clearly I needed a little external discipline to help me along as I hadn’t lost anything myself. And if I had, it was back. Now, I don’t buy this ‘perhaps that’s the weight you are naturally’ business. Not for me anyway. I could shovel in all sorts of crap foods. Sweet or salty snack foods are designed to make you want more. And I wasn’t happy with how I felt or how my clothes (the ones I could fit) looked.

I have found that you can train your palate, and that the more you have of something, the more you want of it, whether that something is a big, crunchy, plain salad, or a large bag of jellybeans. Even knowing this, and knowing how those two things make me feel (one, vibrant, alive and quenched, the other, a hot headache and craving for sugar) didn’t help me make good decisions all the time.

Rather than rebelling against discipline, I have decided to look at it like money. If you spend more than you earn, you go into debt. In my younger years I did just that, but now, for many years I happily have savings building up, and not many problems resisting purchasing temptation.

Not so with food. Obviously I regularly went into debt with food and drink, and had the not-so-chic figure to show for it. I now look at my Weight Watchers points as a budget to spend. And so I won’t go hungry or over-spend, I have to use it wisely.

I can happily report that the new Weight Watchers programme is working really well for me, and seems much easier to stick to for the long term. I can have mini blow-outs every week if I want (and I usually do) and still decrease on the scales. This is the way to keep me interested. If it’s not fun, I don’t want to know about it.

I never attended meetings before, so that may be helping too. By saying to myself I am committed to attending until I am a certain weight, meant if I didn’t want to waste my money, I’d better do something about it.

I am happy to let you know I am now 6-7kg (13-15 pounds) lighter than I was, and at least halfway to my goal. I have had to buy a few new items of clothing, because my jeans are falling off me. Some have been put away to get rid off as they are ridiculously huge, and some I am able to cinch in with a belt for now. Jeans that I formerly could not sit in for more than five minutes at a time.

So I guess the purpose of this post is to face the fear and do it anyway. My fear was if I wrote about my weight loss, I would jinx it once again. Now I know this is silly. The books I have been reading lately, old books I have had for a long time (a few listed below) reminded me that I make up my mind, I make my reality. I wrote down a quote the other day which really spoke to me:

‘I know what I like, I know what I don’t like. I know the way I want to live, and I make it happen that way’. – Anthea Turner

Current reading:
Inspiring Messages for Daily Living by Dr Norman Vincent Peale
Seeds of Greatness by Denis Waitley
10 Days to a Great New Life by William E. Edwards
The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr Norman Vincent Peale (I’ve been listening to the audiobook in the car)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

How to be happy

In the January 2011 issue of Real Simple (from the library) the focus is on happiness. I haven’t even gotten into the body of the magazine yet because the Editor’s page captured me. Let’s face it, Editor’s letters aren’t usually the best part of a magazine. They have to go through and point out highlights of that month’s copy and I don’t usually even glance at them.

This one though, struck a chord with me. Delving into how to be happy, she says happiness comes in small doses. When she was young she thought she would be happy when she was grown up and that happiness would coat everything ‘like a blanket of snow, covering everything in sight with a dazzling, seamless beauty’.

Now that she is grown up, she knows that isn’t the truth, and that happiness is more than likely to be found in the little things. Things such as:

- Changing from high heels to slippers when she arrives home.
- Eating a piece of chocolate.
- Watching a funny tv show.
- Reading a short story.
- Hugging.
- Wiping the crumbs from the kitchen counter.

I agree with all of these, and it’s true, they do make you feel happier. In any one day, these things are guaranteed to lift my mood and make me feel happier.

- Clear the dining table of ‘stuff’. Put it all back where it belongs.
- Ditto the living room. Straighten it up.
- Enjoying a cool glass of water.
- Re-watching a favourite tv programme or movie.
- Reading or re-reading a fun and enjoyable chick lit book.
- Going for a walk.
- Enjoying the house after I have vacuumed and dusted.
- Hanging laundry on the line and then bringing it in to fold after a sunny day.
- Using up the last of something – body lotion then recycling the bottle or vegetables in the fridge for a slowcooker meal or soup.
- Putting a casserole on in the Le Creuset and then enjoying the aroma as it cooks
- Decluttering and organising a drawer or cupboard.
- Washing the dishes by hand.
- Finishing off one job before starting another, rather than multi-tasking.
- Presenting a meal to my man and hearing happy noises from him about it.
- Changing the bathroom handtowel frequently so it is always clean and dry.

With the world being such a place of turmoil, both man-made and with natural disasters, it is sometimes easy to feel scared or fearful for the future. I think it's very important to keep our homes as our sanctuary of peace and order. An oasis to come back to.

And by giving out an energy of positivity and calm, we not only keep ourselves healthy and happy, but it affects others around us in a good way too.

We do what we can for those close to us who are in need of help, or by donating to charities, but it's not going to do anyone any good if we fall to bits. By taking small bites of happiness where we can will go a long way to helping us enjoy this precious, short life that we have.

Image from this cool post on Audrey H

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thrifty Yet Chic

It was my Aunt’s 60th recently, and I gave her an old book (really old, 1871!). I wanted to wrap it a bit special and I came up with the above.

Firstly I wrapped the book in white tissue, then I sewed an envelope of old sheet music from the thrift store. I used my sewing machine and a vintage cotton that had the prettiest soft rose/beige/antique colour to blend in with the off-white paper but have a little bit of pink in it.

Finally I topped the parcel with a bow which was stitched and curled, and stuck down with a piece of double-sided tape. Don’t make the mistake I did of using a huge piece of double-sided tape. My poor Aunt had to really attack the parcel to get in. A tiny square of tape will do, just to keep the flap down.

If you see books of music at the thrift shop, grab them, even if you don’t play an instrument. They are good for wrapping gifts the normal way too, and covering books or storage boxes. I did plan to stitch a square of the paper on the centre front of a plain greeting card, sadly I ran out of time, but that would be a nice touch too. Imagine an envelope made out of it, with a label for the name or name/address.

I’m not really into paper crafts or scrapbooking, but just thinking of ideas for this music I have is quite fun. I prefer to do it the thrifty way than spend a fortune on custom supplies though. Sorry Martha Stewart!
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