Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

Category: Mindfulness

On the wagon again…

A few months ago, I decided to declutter some of my um. Personal baggage. So, how’s it coming along then, this mission to be a bit less fat that I was? I started in November, it’s now May and I have lost eightish kilograms (actually, I have lost more than eight kilograms, but I am less than eight kilos lighter than I was when I started. Confused? Yeah. So am I.) But still, I am lighter than I was when I started. That’s the main thing, right? But there have been a couple of kilos that’ve come and gone a couple of times, what with one thing and another. There’s been a couple of holidays, and the lady bidness doing its level best to thwart me (hey, you need this extra kilo and ALL THE CHOCOLATE IN THE WORLD) but I know I have slipped off the wagon a little bit lately (did I mention ALL the chocolate in the world?) I’ve noticed I have been doing a lot more scoffing and there’s been a lot less savouring going down.

Like, sitting at Bouncy Land, allegedly supervising my children; with a bag of mixed lollies “for the kiddies” in front of me while I nutted out a particularly tricky bit of crochet.  I suddenly realised as my hand snaked into the bag, pulling out a couple of delectable jelly pieces, that I had NO idea how many times I’d actually done that in the hour I’d been sitting there. I’d basically been sitting there, crochet in one hand and a jelly in the other while I muttered to myself for an hour (…83…84…85…86…what do you mean 86…fuck it. Repeat).

Not to mention finding myself heading toward the poxy charity chocolate box again. Now, I established a while ago that I don’t actually like the stuff. It’s cheap and nasty and slightly warmer than is pleasant, and for the last well over a year, I have dipped in the box maybe three or four times (hormones seriously have a lot to answer for) but in the last couple of months, it’s been almost daily. Also, there’s been wine. Much wine. And cheese. I love cheese. And maybe cake. There could have been cake. At least once or twice. And Baileys. I am partial to a Baileys on a cooler evening, and the evenings have been getting cooler.

Ok, I confess, I know exactly where that stray couple of kilograms keeps coming from, damnit. The lady business, well, I’m not sure exactly what’s going on with that – but I am of an age where the shop should be shutting up. However, it appears that, like the rug shop on the High Street, this shop is in no hurry to make up its mind. Grand Sale, Grand Sale, everything special price, you make me an offer… Please. Shut. The. Damn. Shop.

Yes, well. That bit is out of my hands. The wine and the cheese and the chocolate and the new ice-cream shop around the corner from work and the stuffing my face with chippies when I get home from work, however. That bit is in my hands (literally *in* my hands. Ahem. See what I did there.)

So, I have taken the first steps toward being mindful again. Starting with a week of calorie counting. There’s nowt like measuring every mouthful to make one reconsider its worth. Snacks are now served on plates like I’m a Lady or somesuch. If I really want the snack, I am happy to do the extra dishes. And I’m not just restricting the mindfulness to food. I have also been making a conscious effort to go to bed at a reasonable hour (ok, reasonable is up for debate, somewhere before 11.30 is fairly reasonable) because (der) getting a decent amount of sleep at night means I don’t have that crash in the afternoon when I go looking for a little something something that leads to another something because the first something wasn’t the something I was looking for because I was tired and what I needed was an extra half hour of sleep. Plus, my steps. Getting my steps up solves a multitude of problems – it stops me turning into the Dragon Queen, helps me sleep better, and, if there’s enough steps, they compensate for the odd cheese platter and bottle of wine.

And I do like the odd cheese platter and bottle of wine. (And cake)

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Housekeeping (or Kon Mari 12 months later)

Think I mentioned last time I plopped ma fingers on the keyboard that I would maybe have a wee chat you youse alls about the houseworkings. Now, I am at best, an ordinary house keeper. I have staff to deal with the basics – the ironing disappears on Monday morning and comes back on Wednesday all smooth and delicious. The dog hair and dust disappears in a similar fashion on a Friday. Crinkle free clothes and a clean house – what more can a lassie desire?

Well.

A lassie might like a gourmet chef to prepare delicious, nutritious and calorie free meals, someone to hunt and gather free range and organic ingredients for aforementioned meals; and someone who will transform the slightly grubby and well-worn clothing into a suitable state for de-crinkling. Yeah. Like that’s ever going to happen. There are also those rotten little jobs that fall outside the bailiwick of the cleaning fairy and the ironing fairy, like cleaning the oven, and murdering the dust bunnies behind the bed, and washing the fucking shower curtain so it doesn’t go mouldy.  Oh, and cleaning the damn coffee machine. Sour milk and coffee smell so attractive. Not. There’s a whole heap of other little jobs that – while you know the earth won’t fall off its axis if they’re not done – make the earth rotate a lot more smoothly when they are.

Hence my dalliance with the Flylady and the KonMari business – I’ve also dallied with a few other ‘cleaning systems’ in the past as well, with similar amounts of (ahem) success. I keep going back to Flylady because she does keep track of those Little Jobs; and I keep breaking up because the twee and mundane and the fucking hell, I can feel my blood pressure rising. Lordy.

Now, I gave KonMari’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up a red hot go last year. I looked for joy in all the right places, and I culled and I cleaned and I sorted. Bags and bags of stuff got sent to the op shop and the school fete and to friends with needs for random things that I had but didn’t need. Then I got to a point where I a) didn’t want to spend all my free time tidying up and b) reached a level of ‘clutter’ I can more or less live with. I live with three other people and a hairy little dog, and we all have our own level of mess. Obviously, mess times four is not sustainable (the dog also contributes hair and leaves her toys around the house, so it’s really mess times five), but a girl has to have some light in her life. So, I stopped tidying for a bit to see what would happen.

And this is what happened…

Clothes – well. I have gone back in to all our clothes every few months and culled a bit and culled a bit more and culled a bit too much (oops) to the point where I had to replace a few items with “it will do for now” rather than actual joy sparkers, because public nudity is still not an acceptable thing. On the plus side, some joy sparkers I did keep are now in rotation after the diminishing bosom diminished enough I can do up buttons. There’s nowt like shopping the wardrobe for a wee bargain or ten. BUT, in saying that, the last cull was a wee shopping bag between the four of us, rather than 5-6 garbage bags it was the first time and 3-4 the second time; and to the best of my knowledge, nothing was new with tags. Also, in the past, sorting clothes was a FULL day’s job for the four of us. Now, it took me less than an hour to sort Reg and my wardrobes, and maybe 20 minutes each for the kids. Win.  I have become a more discerning shopper – I know that I do not like certain cuts of t-shirt, I don’t like some fabrics, and I prefer dresses with no defined waist lines. I will go shopping for a precise item of clothing and only buy that item. (And if someone knows where I can replace a pair of butt-ugly walking shorts with pockets, I will be eternally grateful) I’m saving a fortune! Even with the kids clothes, I am buying half what I would have bought them in the year.

Oh, and when I fold the clothes, I can’t help but mutter to myself about Ms Kondo’s folding theory being alright for teeny tiny Japanese lady clothes and underpants for teeny tiny Japanese lady bottoms, while I wrangle the suitable for a six foot plus cuddly Anglo Saxon man’s clothes into submission so they’ll fit into the teeny tiny 1950’s style cupboards we have at ours. Mutter grumble. I did re-jig the folding techniques somewhat to accommodate the relative size differential (in comparison to those tiny Japanese Lady Things) of Man sized (and tall lady sized) items of clothing . Sweet folding spots are over-ridden by the gravitational pull exerted by a XXL hoodie.

Books and paper – I did a massive cull of books last year, and while I’ve had to resort to buying the odd paper book again, I’ve not bought *that* many. I’ve even backed away from the cook books. I have actually exchanged cold hard foldings for e-books as well since my previous source sorta dried up, damnit. And I have always been pretty good at paper – I keep what I have to and cull a year’s worth at a time.

Komono – As far as crap goes, that’s even been kept to an acceptable level. And, again with the discerning shopping… Not buying shit because it’s pretty is a good way to save a load of money and not necessitate an endless cycle of pulling out all the things and putting them all back again to squeeze in the new pretty thing that you are 98% sure you’re going to use once. Oops. There’s a couple of places I need to re-visit, and I still need to get an Old Person to sit down with me and name names in the photo albums, but aside from that – all good. When I look into cupboards, stuff is still more or less where I left it a year ago, if it’s been used, it’s gone back, if it hasn’t been used, it’s still Weird Shit you can’t actually throw out, because it’s all stuff that you’ll need it when you need it and not before, and the effort to procure said weird shit outweighs the minor irritation of keeping it in the damn cupboard.

So, at the end of the day, realistically I am not a minimalist and I never will be. I am never going to end up with bare walls and one artfully placed blossom in a gorgeous vase. While it’s nice to look at, it’s totally not my jam. I like to have nice things around me, and the people I live with also like to have their things out where they can be admired and enjoyed. (And where they can reach them, assuming there’s going to be a shortage of zooper dooper wrappers and chip packets in the future. But that’s mess that can be dealt with by the perpetrator in eleven seconds flat).

My house is tidy enough.

 

 

Thinner…

Riddle me this, Gentle Reader. What kind of idiot decides that the very bestest time in the universe to take up a diet would be in the couple of months before Christmas? Yeah. That’d be me. Crazy person from Crazytown, Population one.

I had one of THOSE revelations a little while ago… Mum was organising some pants being made for me in far flung parts and she needed some measurements. Fuck me, that was a confronting experience. There were quite a lot of numbers involved in them thar measurements, and whilst Mrs McGee insists she “doesn’t do numbers”, she’s a fucking dressmaker. She knows damn well what *those* particular numbers mean. Her daughter is a fatty boombalaka (and also a foot taller than her so she’ll pretend she knows nuffink if she knows what’s good for her. Good mother I have there.)

Anyway, I made a decision that right then and there – I was going to start watching what I eat and attempting to move more. I weighed myself and measured myself and wrote down those confronting measurements one more time and started (or stopped. Something). I could have waited til after Birthday Season finished, or after The Christmas Season, or the beginning of January, or after we got back from holidays or after I went back to work or even after I finished my second lot of annual leave.

Or a random Tuesday in 2018.

Nope. No time like the present. Basically, even if December and January are a little rocky, there’s a good chance I won’t be starting from an even shitter place than I would be starting when I did. Ok, that didn’t make much sense. Long story much shorter – Start now, lose some weight now, lose more after the Silly Season.

I’ve been officially fat before, and last time, the wake up call came in the shape of a photograph. I didn’t recognise myself. In the picture was a fat old besom, bursting out of her shirt, snarly face being stuffed with something or other, and that’s not how I looked in my head. Ok, the snarly face probably was as I imagined it. It was Christmas and I’m not good at Christmas. Anyway, long story short, got a fright, pulled my finger out and lost 20kg. I kept it off, too. Well, most of it (give or take a couple of kilograms), for about five years. Then, my thyroid shit the tin and I stacked on ten kilos in a relatively short period of time (trained medical professional was involved in the diagnosis. My thyroid wasn’t bad enough for medication, but bad enough that losing weight was a fucking yuge effort for minimal result), then there was the knee thing, turning fifty and getting an enormous CWA bosom overnight, and whadderyou know, I hit the ton just over twelve months ago.

Now THAT was an eye opening number. I Did Not Like that number one little bit, cut back on the cake and forced the knee into a trifle more exercise than it was comfortable with and clawed my weight back to a relatively less repulsive number than I saw on those scales… But time moved on and while my weight didn’t really shift from said less repulsive number, I wasn’t really all that super comfortable with how I looked and felt, and how clothes were fitting me (or, more to the point, not fitting me). That damn CWA bosom was playing havoc with the line of my clothes. And the generally rather well padded arse was um. Substantial. VERY substantial. Then came the aforementioned measuring and the realisation that, despite my internal denials, I was actually a Bit Fat, and I wasn’t very happy about it.

So, I decided I wanted to be thinner.

No number-y goals or anything, just less fat than I was. For me, a relatively low fat diet is the way to go. I don’t follow any particular diet as such – less in than out, move more than I sit, and don’t deny myself anything (because that just leads the very mature 14 year old who lives in my head to just yell “fuck yers all” and stuff her face with whatever has been popped on the “you can’t have that” list). I just know that too much protein makes me spew, and too much fat makes me, well, fat. And I also refuse to eliminate entire food groups like cake and pizza from my life. So, since the end of October I have been considering what I shove in my gob before I stuff my face with whatever is laying around.

And, despite two birthday parties, six Christmas parties, Christmas itself, and going away for a week where I managed to consume about six months worth of alcohol in the space of eight days… I am just a little bit thinner. Not quite noticeable to anyone else unless they look *really* closely, but enough that I need a belt with some pants and the bosom is a little more cross your heart divide and separate and a little less CWA. I’ve also been able to do a spot of shopping in my wardrobe and extended my repertoire of attractive frocks by several. And really, if I think about it, in the last year and two months  I have lost 10% of my starting body weight, and that is a pretty good thing. I still don’t know what I’m aiming for… just a bit less than I am.

 

 

#Bujo – or the one where I’ve been gettin’ down with the cool kids

Ok, the other thing I have been doing aside from crocheting and reading is bullet journaling. I used to do it properly a while ago – however, lost my damn notebook and went back to writing the endless list each week. Found said damn notebook whilst doing the Kon Mari shenanigans (I’ve not actually *stopped* with the KM bidness, more letting nature take its course and seeing how things flow naturally without my un-naturally cleaning the fuck out of everything that stands still for more than two seconds. Is ok so far). Digressing again. Where was I? Bullet journaling. Which is shortened to BuJo for obvious reasons that don’t need the explains. The whole Bullet Journal thang was invented in this format by a bloke called Ryder Carroll and taken to a whole new ridiculously creative extreme by just about everyone in the universe who a) likes stationery and b) likes writing lists. And yes. That would be me.

Now the normal procedure is to show pictures of ones BuJo and explain the process. Dunno if you’ve noticed this wee thing about my blog… it’s all words and no pictures. This means I am going to attempt to explain the hows and the whys without illustrations. Testing. So, this will probably end up being more about the philosophies and less about my dodgy handwriting and doodle-ability.

It’s pretty cool actually, and strangely good fun. I started again officially at the beginning of April, after having a wee trial in the old notebook. I think one of the reasons I didn’t stick to the old notebook was because I didn’t really like it. It was a grid Moleskine, and a bit smaller than A5. I have man hands and large, girlie handwriting. This was a teensy little space to write in. It was NOT sparking the joy, so I repurposed it into more of a general notebook and the place where I do the testing of new layouts and all that. I’ve got a Leuchtturm1917 that I acquired (quite legitimately) when I was in the Big Smokey at magnation in their stationery section (epic discuss about the relative merits of Moleskine v Leuchtturm1917 with the wee young lass in the shop. She agreed about the size issue. I am not mad.)

When I was a kid, I used to LOVE the day we got new stationery, and when I got a new book I was always so careful to use my best handwriting and rule all the pages neatly. Of course, this always went to shit by day three of the new book and I was back to my squirlywhirly mishmash of writing styles (I started school in one state where proper cursive was the thing, and moved to another state where it was more joined up printing. My handwriting is a mixture of both. A year of graphics and I have beautiful block printing. Still, it’s a shame about my handwriting.) Anyway, the look and smell and feel of opening that page for the very first time… swoon.

Therefore, you can imagine my quite grown up delight cracking open the pages of my new journal and feasting my eyes upon the glorious creamy goodness of 200+ untouched pages. Ahem. I need a moment.

Alright, where was I. Swooning over stationery. Girl’s got to have a hobby. Now, the traditional set up for a bullet journal can be seen in the video in the above link. Mine is sort of similar-ish. I have a couple of collections – nowt fancy.

  • List of books I’ve read/want to read
  • Stuff I want to watch on telly and movies I want to see
  • Music I’ve heard I like
  • Meals everyone likes divided up by protein source

Then I leap into a sort of calendar thingy for the month (list of dates with events, appointments etc, I attempted colour coding it for one month. That didn’t last.) and a gigantic to do list for the month. That list is mostly Big Jobs that need doing. The benefit of this is that they become top of mind instead of wafty loose ideas that pop up to the surface every now and then. And it sort of works… a couple of things that were on the radar for oh, two years, actually got done. Gasp. This year, I did our tax before the accountant sent me a reminder letter, I organised a shelf for a cupboard that I’ve wanted done for ages (two years when the kitchen was renovated) and I cleaned the oven. Also for the first time in two years. (It wasn’t that bad, it had been wiped out a few times.)

I also set some personal challenges and tried tracking habits. Ahem. Well. Set myself up for fucking failure. Nice one, Maudy. So, I got all totally mindful and gave myself a talking to, looked up SMARRT goal setting and applied that. Small goals that are specific and measurable. Fucking der, man. Being much more successful in May. Although I seriously suck at sleeping. I tried tracking spending, but memo to self – school holidays is *not* the time of year to be doing that sort of thing. $20 here, $50 there, $40 for the pictures, $10 for a magazine… eh,that was a bit fucked up. I’m trying again in May, but I keep forgetting to write shit down. I don’t think I’ll bother in June.

One thing I really like about this methodology is – well, if something’s not working, you can ditch it. I realised pretty quickly I needed a weekend list (usual suspects – washing, planning and hunting for the family, plus odd shit I want to do) and that a weekly list as well as my daily mini-lists was essential because there was ALWAYS something I needed to remember for a couple of days ahead of time. On the weekly list I have a wee to-do list, and I’ve added my Flylady-esque cleaning lists. My cleaning fairy does the basics, my fly-lists are 8-10 little jobs that are nice to be done but don’t really matter if I don’t do them – again, because they’re on the radar, they’re at least done every couple of months. Win. The daily lists are the half a dozen odd things I need to remember on a given day. I’ve been having a few “moments” lately, so I’ve added some stuff I wouldn’t usually list to keep my head where it needs to be (above my shoulders and not so much hiding under a bin. Long story.) So far, so good.

I did take up grown up colouring in – although I do like it, it’s not really practical for anything aside from letting your mind roam free. The thing about this exercise is it helps me focus. I know what needs to be done because it’s written down, I don’t have to remember, I just have to check the list. I’ve got notes on how to do stuff (like, fixing the damn emails) and highlights of the month. It’s quite soothing to sit down with my gigantic tub of stationery and write shit down, draw a few pictures (even if it’s just the weather) and mess about with washi tape (I cannot believe I did not know what washi was until six weeks ago. I am Feeling The Lerve). And my handwriting is improving – my typing, on the other hand, appears to be going to shit! These things happen and I will get used to this damn keyboard.

Also, I have this vague idea of Future Ancestor discovering a box full of journals in the future and flicking through them and finding out about the minutiae of the day to day life of someone in the 21st century (and their eyes glazing over with the boredom as they read of washing and cleaning and what we ate. Social history as it happened)

And there you go, 1,300+ words and no pictures. I hope you found it illuminating.

 

No no she’s not dead, she’s, she’s restin’

Yes, definitely not dead. And yes, definitely having a wee rest from the tidying up of all the things. There comes a point in ones life when one has folded and tidied everything into submission (or as close as can be considered submission when a) one lives with other people and b) one is steadfastly ignoring the sentimental category); and when one has realised that one would like to, you know, do other shit that one considers fun, one hangs up the garbage bags and loans the books to someone else and um. Does other shit for a bit.

I’ve just had the school holidays off with absolutely NOTHING on. This is the first time since ever (I think, definitely BC) that I have taken two weeks off with the sole purpose of doing one full time job instead of two. It’s been rather good, actually. I have certainly done some tidying – the laundry now no longer makes me shudder every time I go in there. I would have liked to have painted it (long involved story, don’t go there), so I have to wait. And I did in fact sort out the filing cabinet and the cupboard it was in (which was actually more of an issue than the filing cabinet). You can now open and close the cupboard without fear of things landing on ones head. I even ditched the bath toys. The offspring are now 10 and 13. They don’t use bath toys any more. I filled the rubbish bin (and the recycling bin) several times, and I’m spreading the lerve around the local op shops. So yeah, time for a break from the cleaning and the tidying. And I did a spot of crochet – not as much as I’d hoped, but none the less, I have two sets of squares to complete. I did stuff with the kids – took them to the skate park, took them to the pool (wee horrors made me get in with them!) took them shopping… let them go see Batman v Superman in the fancy cinema all by themselves because no. Just no. Deadpool yes. Daredevil? Love it sick. Batman and Superman? Not my cup of tea.

And I’m also looking into mindfulness again. I discovered it many moons ago when I had a one year old and a four year old and spent my entire days alternating between screeching like a banshee and locking myself in my room and rocking just a little bit. I discovered a book called “Buddhism for Mothers with Lingering Questions” by Sarah Napthali – apparently, it was the second one. Nowt like starting in the middle. BUT in saying that, when I picked up the book when I was doing the great book cullage, and after I laughed at *all* the tags and flags and bookmarks (there’s like forty including and not limited to post its, bandaids (unused), shopping dockets, tags from clothes…) and had a flick through, I was all yeah. Ok. I need to look at this again.

I am a bit of a stress head. In my case, I am talking very literally. When I get a bit cross and a bit tense and a bit under pressure, I tend to clench my jaw. I have a very strong jaw. VERY strong. I’ve cracked oh, five teeth. I suspect that they were all a bit cracked, but I’ve fucked one six ways to sideways and I shall shortly be flash as a rat with TWO gold teeth. That’ll be $3K thanks very much. That’s more than my first two cars cost. Put together. Anyway, so that I can avoid being the proud owner of five gold teeth I need to loosen up a little. Meditation is not my strong suit – I have a very untidy mind and the attention span of a goldfish with ADD. So, yeah, I’ve never had much success with meditation. And according to the other book I bought (Be Mindful and Simplify Your Life) – you can’t meditate until you can do mindfulness. Also, there’s a wee quiz. If you score ten or less, you should go see a mindfulness counsellor or a psychologist. I got eleven. It appears I need work. I’ve been reading bits and bobs from that book and from Lingering Questions, and I’ve also been revisiting ole mate Marcus Aurelius. He’s often got some suitable words for the less stoic among us. This little gem popped up when I was looking for something else – you could consider it a Sign if you were that way inclined.

Look within. Let neither the peculiar quality of anything nor its value escape thee.

(Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. (121–180).  The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.)

That statement applies well to almost everything that I’ve got going on at the moment – The KonMari business, the need to increase my mindfulness (even if only to avoid spending the other $5K on fixing the rest of my teeth). So, my cunning plan is to at least tidy my mind a little bit and calm the fuck down. I’m also returning to a slightly expanded and flashed up version of Bullet Journaling (more on that later) in which I am going to be tracking some new habits like, you know. Going to bed at a reasonable time, doing creative shit, reading…

(Eight minutes to go clean ma teeth, wash ma face and get into bed! G’nite)

 

 

*Title shamelessly stolen and slightly altered from the Dead Parrot sketch by Monty Python