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

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).
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