Friday, April 21, 2017

Inspiration to be your best self

October 1985 on our big family trip to California - I'd just turned 15

I had the best time this week, and it was all from a visit down memory lane.  I was trying to fit more photos into an album that had less slots.  These (printed, old-style on paper) photos were from my childhood, teen years, some of my husband’s before I knew him and then ones of us together.  The span was from early 1970s up until the 2000s!

I don’t like to be swamped with tons of photos, and would rather prune out the unflattering, boring, similar and strange ones to be left with the cream of the crop.  That way I have one photo album that is fun and light to look through, instead of multiple albums that have every photo I have ever taken along with reminders of what colours and hairstyles look terrible on me...  With electronic photos I don’t print them out, so this album is a fun blast from the past to view every so often.

I thinned them out by taking every single photo out and putting them into groups of era for a start.  I then put them into the album starting with the earliest ones, after going through each pile and seeing which photos I really wanted to keep.  The criteria was that I had to have happy and/or nostalgic thoughts when I saw them.

There were a few photos which were fine to look at, but I remembered weirdness from that day or the story behind it that wasn’t so good (nothing terrible), so I let them go.   Thankfully my husband was amenable to doing a few piles himself, discarding unflattering or dull photos.  Such fun, he probably thought – not!

Jessica helping me sort photos

It was a fantastic feeling having all the ‘keep’ photos put away, with pages to spare might I add, and do you know what the cool thing about selecting only the brightest and best photos is?  Seeing them en masse is very motivating and inspiring to keep going, keep doing better, don’t settle for mediocrity and a dull life!  It’s like an edited highlights reel that shows you that Life Is indeed Good.

And having that gratitude and good feeling has continued on and I still feel it right now.  Partly that good feeling is decluttering and partly it is seeing that I don’t have to keep the not-quite-good-enough stuff, whether it is photos, old habits, feelings or possessions.

Over the past few weeks we have been having a big sort of our home as we prepare it for sale.  We’ve been here 5.5 years, which is a short-ish time to be in a home, and considering I am constantly editing my belongings (and my husband isn’t a clutter-magnet like I am, so he doesn’t have to), we still got rid of quite a bit of stuff.

Then, we had our home photographed this week by a professional photographer for our real estate listing so we got to see how she staged it with our belongings, moving things around and showing us how much better something looked with a little tweak.  Some of it was for the photos too, certain ways of doing things make for a good photo.  She also brought a few cushions and throw rugs in bright colours and they really made our neutral home zing, so that was a fun exercise too.

I would highly recommend selling your home to get motivated to make it look like a show-home (which is one of my home goals, call me sad!).  Our garden has never looked better either, thanks to a day-long team effort of my husband and I to tidy it up.  Not just normal-tidy, but every-nook-and-cranny tidy.  I can’t wait to share the photos when we see them.

I love seeing home tours on blogs, but I never got organised to have every room looking perfect at once but now I will be able to have a home tour, just as we are leaving!

So, have I encouraged you to go through your photos yet?  To create your own source of nostalgic fun and inspiration?  It doesn’t matter if you were skinnier, younger, and better looking back then, you can still be your best self now and sometimes it all starts with a motivating photo.

A few of those for me made me think “Yes, I am still her, I am still that girl inside” and I added them to my mental bank of inspiration for can’t-be-bothered days or eat-everything days.  There’s nothing like creating your own ray of sunshine to keep in your pocket and carry around with you :)

Have a wonderful week everyone and let me know if you’re going to dig out all your photos this weekend!


PS.  Look, just look what arrived yesterday!  A big box of my books all the way from the US to New Zealand.  So exciting!  I have all my paperbacks in stock now, so if you live in New Zealand or Australia, I can send you a signed copy of any of my books.  I’ll get some postage rates organised and put a page up on my blog, but in the meantime if you are interested, please email me:  fiona at howtobechic dot com and let me know which title(s) you would like and your postal address, and I’ll let you know how much it will be.

And if you live outside of Australasia, I am still happy to send out signed copies, it's just that the postage could get a little expensive.  Again, email me with where you live and what you title(s) you are interested in if this appeals, and I can put a price together for you. Basically it would be the normal cost of the book, and whatever NZ Post quotes me for postage.


If you'd like to see details of each book and read inside, you can view them at Amazon here.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Chic inspiration from NYC

My friend, Babette

One of the unexpected bonuses of going on a wine tour to the Barossa Valley with my husband on our recent trip to Australia was meeting a lovely couple from New York City.  Babette, a retired schoolteacher, and her husband were on an eight-week trip which encompassed Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

I got to chat with Babette at various points throughout the day.  She was vivacious and bubbly, and I couldn’t get enough of her genuine New York accent (born and bred!).  Thankfully, Babette gave me her card so we could keep in touch.  I was so impressed when she handed me a professionally printed card with her contact details.  I have got to get one of those made!  It is so much more elegant than scribbling down my email address on a scrap of paper.

So, via email I got to follow along on the rest of their trip and heard how Babette went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and paddle boarding, sailing and snorkelling in Fiji.  I am so lazy on holiday, and realise now I will really need to up my game hearing about all the great activities she participated in.

From my glowing description of Babette on my previous blog post here, I heard from readers who wanted her to share her secrets on being slim and vivacious.  Superstar celebrity Babette!  I emailed and asked if she might expand a bit on how she approaches food, eating and life in general; basically,

Babette's golden rules for being fabulous throughout life

Here is what she shared:

  • She tries to walk 2-3 miles a day
  • She exercises as much as possible (more for her head than body!)
  • She drinks lots of water (and good red wine!!)
  • She laughs a lot
  • She surrounds herself with positive people (get rid of negative forces!)
  • She keeps both her mind and body busy and enriches them constantly (since retirement she has taken foreign language courses and edit college courses.  It keeps her mind sharp!)
  • Her #1 eating rule is NO fried food
  • She also avoids white flour
  • She eats very few sweets (though dark chocolate is healthy and she finds a little piece of good chocolate is very satisfying)


Many of these things I do myself, such as walking most days and keeping active.  I also drink a lot of water (not so much of the red wine for me!) and like to find opportunities to laugh – being silly with my husband, watching funny movies and reading books such as Sophie Kinsella’s madcap titles (she is one of the only authors that I actually laugh out loud when reading her books).  I also find my cats excellent for humour therapy.

I can’t say I avoid fried foods, but I don’t eat them often.  I don’t eat white flour either and I ‘mostly’ don’t eat sweet foods.  If I eat one, I’ll eat a hundred, so I try not to take that first bite of sugary foods.  I don’t count natural foodstuffs such as fruit in that.

From how I viewed Babette on our day trip and what she has shared in emails – all the way from NYC, that still gives me a thrill :) – she has built and maintained healthy lifestyle habits that have helped her enjoy an enviable retirement experience.  Meeting and getting to know Babette a little bit encourages me further to make every year better than the last when it comes to health and fitness, and to not give up and sink into a sedentary, nibbling lifestyle that I know could come so easily for me.

I am also keen to be more of an action girl on holiday.  We haven’t been on many holidays, since my husband and I have owned a retail store for the past twelve years that required at least one of us to be there at all times (except for ten days each Christmas when we would close up).  Now that we have sold that business (as at the end of last year), we are looking forward to being able to travel more.

I’ve never been that sporty and have actually been very lazy when it comes to activities and exercise, but now that I know how good your body feels when you shake it around regularly, I am keen to be that sporty and fabulous girl on vacation.

Babette, thank you so much for sharing your lifestyle secrets, and for being a good sport about answering my questions.  I hope you enjoy your time as a celebrity :)

Chic readers, if you had to say what your top three tips for being fabulous are, what would they be?  They can be real-life things that you already do, or imaginary-idealised-how-you-would-love-to-be tips, you choose!


PS. If you have read Thirty Slim Days or any of my other books, I would be so grateful if you could take a minute to leave an honest review on Amazon.  Reviews are so important for authors; they give a reader an idea what to expect or even just help them trust that they will enjoy (or not!) the book.  I welcome all reviews because even the not-so-great ones give me valuable feedback for future books.  You can write a review here, or on your local Amazon if you prefer.
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