Monday, December 22, 2014

The Importance of a Good Routine



Working in retail as I do and have done for the past ten years, it is expected that December can get a little nutty.  Yes, even in a shoe store which you wouldn’t think is traditional Christmas fare, but we do get a lot of people shopping for gifts (thank you customers!).

Being extra-busy in December means I have to be organised and keep my calm.  I cannot freak out too much about not having my housework days and be content that the house is tidy.  I need to organise meals ahead of time so we don’t resort to takeaways that make you feel like crap.  I have to have my Christmas gifts purchased and wrapped so I don’t have a meltdown on Christmas Eve when we’ve just arrived home from work and SURPRISE! Christmas is the next day.

Currently when we get home after the store has closed, it is all I can do to put on a load of washing and make dinner.  I’m just keeping up with the basics and am ok with that.  My half hour of reading with a flute of bubbly (non-alcoholic for me thanks) before we eat dinner is my haven of rest and calm.

I think it is because I have been working on establishing a good routine that I have handled December reasonably well.  My daily walks that I actually look forward to because of my iPod Shuffle have continued, and only dropped off this week because we are working longer hours.  I can’t wait for Christmas day though, so I can go for a nice stroll before breakfast.

I don’t think we’ve eaten one purchased meal at all this month which is a minor miracle in itself.  Instead, starting off the day with fresh fruit, good yoghurt and raw nuts, having our fridge at work stocked with salad vegetables, nice dressings, hard-boiled eggs, leftover roast chicken and back-up cans of tuna for a yummy and filling lunch, and then home for a light and delicious dinner with loads of steamed fresh vegetables.

Eating good stuff makes you feel so much better than eating what I used to consider treat foods.  In September I was diagnosed with celiac disease and so have been eating gluten-free since then which immediately cuts out a lot of pre-prepared foods.  This has made me more aware of what I put into my body and what the results are, as in how I feel after I’ve eaten something.

I had a biopsy to confirm my celiac status and it was a gastroscopy where they put a delightfully long tube into your mouth.  I could see my insides on a tv in the hospital room, those lovely clean and pink tubes and it made me not want to pollute them with plasticky faux foods.  I know I tend to forget what I’ve eaten as soon as I put it in my mouth.  I would never consider what effect it was having on my body other than a nice taste.  Well I’ve had my eyes opened now!

I’m not saying my diet is perfect and I still love to eat something delicious and rich, but it comprises a smaller part of my diet now, and my treats are higher-quality for the most part.

Another part of my normal routine are my favourite sleeping hours - 10pm to 6am, and I have kept these up too.  This has helped enormously in keeping me happy and sane, and I am sleeping like a log because our days are so full, which is wonderful.  Not being able to fall or stay asleep at night is the pits, and I credit my daily exercise in helping with this, and not gutsing myelf with sweet treats at night (sugar hypes you up as any parent will tell you).

Minimal tv is another big thing for me.  At the moment I watch about half an hour in the evening, preferring to spend the rest of my time with a book or magazine, or listening to an audiobook when getting ready for bed, or getting ready in the morning.  

This morning I was listening to this great interview with Brian Tracy.  Brian suggests taking a minute each day to write out your top ten goals in present tense.  Each day do this and over the time some goals will change, some will remain on the list, and it keeps at the forefront of your mind what you want to focus on.  I think this is a great idea and today I will get a jump-start on the New Year by commencing this habit.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish a lovely Christmas – may it be peaceful, relaxing and fun.  And I will see you next year!

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Sensual Life

Image from mynewmaster.com



At first glance, you may think a sensual life is the same as a sexy life.  But it’s not, it’s far more than that.  The base word of sensual is sense, and to live a sensual life is to live a life where you take full advantage of all five (or is it six?) senses.

I’ve certainly been guilty of relying too much on one sense in the past, the sense of taste.  But we can make ourselves feel good without jeopardizing our svelteness by employing our other senses too.  Let’s go through the senses.

Sight.  The sense of sight means you will notice beauty around you – particularly nature’s beauty in the form of the sky, trees and plants, human being and animals.  Man cannot build these things, so how did they get so perfect and well-designed?  Who chose all the different and brilliant colours?  Even for non-religious or non-spiritual folk they must admit some form of higher power must have had a hand in somewhere.

There is also the beauty you can create yourself.  Taking care of your home, your family and you, and creating a nurturing space in which to live.  Dressing in the clothes that make you feel special and wonderful (and considering donating the so-so items, ones that have bad memories or taunt you for not fitting them) and taking the time to groom each day.  I know that the times I don’t shave my legs as often I’m not pushed for time, I’m just being lazy.  And smooth, moisturised legs aren’t just nice to look at, they feel nice to the …

Touch.  Silky moisturised skin, clean and bouncy hair, clothes made from fabrics that feel good on your skin. I’ve donated a few tops that were quite nice on but they felt greebly again my skin.  I think I made up that word but it describes the feeling, I just wanted to get the top off.  One of my favourite things to do in the world is come home from work and change into one of my home outfits in softest cotton.  It’s pure bliss.  Patting our cats, feeling the sun touch my face, a footrub from my love and having a good stretch all feel amazing and they are free.  If you don’t have someone to rub your feet, having a creamy lotion or a pot of body butter in the living room means you can give yourself a footrub whilst watching tv.  Take the time to rub it in and really massage one foot at a time and if the product is very rich, have socks to put on afterwards so you can lie on the sofa without fear of getting it mucky.  I promise your feet will feel like they are levitating off the sofa cushions with bliss.

Smell.  I love pretty smelling things.  I have a fairly decent (ahem) collection of fragrances and perfumed body lotions, creams and butters which I enjoy using every single day.  I also like to spritz myself lightly when I get home from work and when I go to bed.  What can I say, I love perfume.  Thankfully my husband is very laid-back and doesn’t ask why I’m always wafting around on a pink scented cloud.  There are also the wonderful aromas of fresh coffee whether it’s being ground or brewed, bacon cooking (even though I’ve never eaten bacon and don’t plan on starting), the honeysuckle growing on our fence, the lawns when they’ve just been mown, a freshly cleaned house, dinner roasting in the oven.  There are so many wonderful scents around us if only we’d take the time to notice them.  And maybe that’s what sensual living is all about, being aware of our senses on a day to day basis and not rushing past all the micro-experiences that make up our life.

Sound.  My most favourite and luxurious sound of all is silence and I love to indulge in it where possible.  I also like to play a game with myself where I only speak when necessary because I know I talk quite a bit.  I’ve realised I just don’t need to go around narrating everything as I go!  There are also other beautiful sounds in the form of music that you can create the soundtrack to your life with.  I like to imagine I am in a movie when I am deciding which music to play.  I have loads of cds on my iPod and I also love the internet radio stations such as Pandora where you can try out all sorts of genres.

Taste.  We can’t discount taste altogether though, just because I’ve decided I use this sense more than my others.  It simply means I can be more selective and happy with smaller portions because I am savouring and enjoying the taste of what I’m eating rather than shovelling it in.  One is chic, the other is not…

And the possible sixth sense, intuitiveness.  I heard it explained really well the other day that your intuition is your subconscious which notices much more than your conscious.  So having a hunch or intuition is actually your subconscious nudging you with information that you need, that your busy and distracted conscious mind has not picked up on.  Isn’t that cool?

Since I started thinking about the senses and that nurturing each one is the key to living a sensual life, I was excited to write them down and brainstorm  ideas for each one so I could not neglect any one sense.

I’d love for you to add any suggestions if you have an idea for a certain sense.  A sensual idea if you will!

100 Things

I am retiring 100 Things for the year as I am busy at work and don't have as much time or energy to potter around home at the moment.  I have only gathered one item this week!

61.  A book by Joanna Trollope that I just finished so I will be donating it.  The title was Marrying the Mistress and I loved it.

I will be completing my 100 Things in January.  Please don't let me stop you though and I would love to hear your progress.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Relax, it's only December

Image from RiverTea





Now that it is December, how are you feeling?  Have you suddenly become overcome with panic like I did earlier on this week?  I literally had trouble breathing for a day or so when I realised it was only a little more than three weeks until Christmas day.  It felt like a tightness in my chest that made it difficult for me to take deep breaths.

Thankfully I feel much better now and am almost breathing normally again (I can be so dramatic at times).  On Tuesday I had a day at home so I started by listing out everything I wanted to do up until the weekend.  I thought I’d take things week by week.  

We have an early Christmas dinner at our place this Saturday night, so there was the house to clean and make look nice, a Christmas tree to decorate and grocery shopping to plan.  I also had to pick up my Aunty from the airport and her flight was delayed (which I found out about when I arrived at the airport).  Since it was at least half an hour until it even landed let alone get everyone through customs, I had the bright idea of doing my grocery shopping at the supermarket right near the airport rather than the one nearer to our house.  I was very proud of my canny time management!

Throughout that day and this week as I got my breathing back to normal, I reminded myself that ‘there is no hurry’ (thank you Tonya Leigh) and that my mindset preceded my experience, so I could choose to be calm and not let my mind spin off into ‘I’ve got so much to do and I don’t even know where to start’.

The rest of this week I’ve done more things on my list and I think pretty much sorted my Christmas gift purchasing.  It helps that I have simplified this list quite a bit with family members that agree not to exchange gifts.

I’ve re-read my simple Christmas post from last December and I am pleased to say I am doing all the things I suggested.  And I feel tranquil and serene!  Listing everything and then going through the items one by one is the way to go.  And taking deep, soothing breaths.

100 Things

Following on from last week’s 100 Things tally, I have been decluttering my wardrobe.  I find it much easier to let clothing go if it doesn’t leave the house immediately sometimes.  Some things are straight to the donation box, but others I find it less painful to move them to a different wardrobe for a while before they move on.  The items I have removed from my wardrobe to their halfway house this week are:

47. and 48.   Two pairs of Diesel jeans that are now too big for me (it’s a combination of them stretching and me getting smaller).

49.  A light blue leather jacket I bought in Italy in 2001, blazer style that I don’t wear anymore.  My husband says I should keep it; I’m on the fence.

50.  – 56. Seven shirts that I am bored with.  They are my slight older ones and some feel too masculine.  I have other nicer, new ones so why not wear those all the time instead of wearing the older ones.

57.  A pair of black cotton Country Road jean-pants that aren’t a great cut for me.  Even when slimmer they cut me in half and I end up with a stomach ache.  No-one should get a stomach ache from their clothing.

58. and 59.  Two magazines

60.  A mattress protector that is surplus to my needs.  I love using these - they are quilted and have elastic on the corners.  They add extra loft to your bed between your mattress and bottom sheet, and the thing I love most about them is that you can put them through the wash regularly.  I had one too many and they are puffy to store so I donated my least favourite (one on and one off are all I need, and one more for the guest bed).

Friday, November 28, 2014

Living Like a Princess



So, I’m not a real Princess and I’m probably more the age of a Queen than a Princess, but I still like to dream of my Princess life.  I like to think beautiful and elegant thoughts, and move like a Princess, the old-fashioned ones I used to read about when I was young girl.  The kind that had long, bouncy hair and wore gowns with a bodice and full skirt.

I love the movie Enchanted even though it is sort of a children’s movie.  Amy Adams as the main character Giselle is rather enchanting as the movie title says and she gave me a renewed appreciation for the fairytale Princess stories of my childhood.  Giselle dances around with a broom sweeping Patrick Dempsey’s apartment, she has birds and mice singing and helping her and also whips up a dress for the ball, oops, from the living room curtains.

I don’t do any of those things but I have found that dreaming of being Princess-like inspires me to remember my femininity and lightness, treat my darling like the handsome Prince that he is and flit around my home as if it is my castle.  It really makes housework go much quicker and it becomes more pleasant.  And the end result is a sparking clean and fresh home fit for a Princess.

There used to be a website called the Princess Portal which I loved.  I always felt uplifted and inspired to live a more beautiful life after reading one of this lovely lady’s articles, however sadly it is no more.  I saved a couple of things the author Skye wrote, including this:

The Princess Code
written by Princess Skye

A Princess inspires others to follow their hopes and dreams through pursuing her own.

A Princess greets everyone with a welcoming smile, melting the hearts of friends and disarming her enemies.

A Princess has dignity, which protects her from the opinions and spite of ignorant people.

A Princess always looks beautiful, even when she is asleep.

A Princess aims for perfection in every step.

A Princess should be given fresh flowers everyday, even if she has to give them to herself.

A Princess grows in recognition and stature in proportion to how much she treats others as royalty.

A Princess reflects her inner beauty in her aesthetic choices.

A Princess goes to war against the violence of incivility with the weapons of etiquette and prodigal generosity.

A Princess lives each day from the heart, expressing herself freely and treasuring every moment.

A Princess has the right to spend her funds on beautiful things she does not need because beauty in itself is priceless.

A Princess should follow her heart and believe in her dreams, even if the whole world seems to be against her.

A Princess respects her environment and nurtures the beauty of nature.

A Princess is never too busy to give a kind word or smile where it is needed.

A Princess’s most precious jewel is Hope, which lights her darkest days and shows her the beauty in every soul she meets.

--

When I am in a Princess mode I wear my most feminine and flattering clothing.  Well, most of my clothing is flattering and those items that are not I am eliminating from my wardrobe, but not all are out-and-out feminine.  Some can be stark or very simple, but I like to wear my few very feminine pieces when I am feeling in a Princessy way.  It’s nice to celebrate being born a girl!

One way to determine if clothing is feminine enough for your Princess days is to ask ‘would a man wear this’.  If the answer is yes and you still love the item, can you wear it in a feminine way?  One example is jeans.  Wear them with a pretty top and heels or ballet flats.  Or if it’s a t-shirt, choose a cut and/or colour that a man wouldn’t be caught dead in.

Of course women can wear man-tailoring well but I still think you can be feminine.  The cut of a woman’s tweed jacket will be different to a man’s.  And you can zazz it up with feminine details such as makeup and jewellery.

Some take Princess style literally, but there are many ways you can add magical touches to your everyday life without looking like you’re wearing a costume or acting in a play.

- Be light and feminine in your movements

- Speak in a pleasant, musical voice

- Laugh a lot (in a pretty rather than a guffawing way)

- Be easy to get along with.  I love The Rules credo of ‘being hard to get, but easy to live with’.

- Practice your mystique on every occasion, and have a small mysterious half-smile, in a friendly way of course

- Smile with your eyes as well as your mouth.  In fact you can play up your eyes and play down your mouth when smiling, it’s more effective.

All of this will filter through to the way you do other things in your life, because, as the saying goes ‘the way you do one thing is the way you do everything’.

I know I will have to put a disclaimer on this post because some of you won’t like it.  But that’s ok.  I know myself and that I am not a pushover.  I know what I like and what I don’t like and I create my life to my own recipe.  Just because I have a fairytale Princess as one of my chic mentors doesn’t mean I am not also a strong, independent and confident woman.  Vive la diffĂ©rence!

100 Things Update

Two weeks ago I started my 100 Things challenge.   Please feel free to join me if you'd like to spruce up your home before Christmas!  This week's list:

14. A doggie jersey that I found while out walking.  I didn’t pick it up the first day I saw it because I thought the owner might walk past and retrieve it.  By the third day I felt sad for it so took it home to wash and will donate.  It’s from the doggie brand ‘Yours Drooly’.  How cute is that?

15. and 16.  A magazine, and a movie on dvd.

17. – 46. I had a big linen cupboard sort out.  Even though there’s only two of us and we have guests to stay once or twice a year at most, we had so much more than we’ll ever use, and it was all stuffed into our narrow cupboard and coming out like an overstuffed cushion (not chic).  So I took everything out, put only the nicest and newest back and donated the rest.  It's so wonderful to open the door to now.  I donated:

- A flannelette sheet set (I just kept the one newest set)
- Two bright sky blue towels (I’m not a bright sky blue kind of a gal)
- Towels, flannels, bath mats, duvet covers and pillow cases.  I had many duplicates and because I did, I never used our nicest ones.  Now I’m using our nicest ones every day.

I forgot to count numbers before I donated them, but it was a big cardboard box.  I’m going to estimate 30 items.  I know, I feel like I’m cheating on the count but promise you I’m probably underestimating!
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