Setting (and kicking) Goals

This past week I read a great book by Gretchen Rubin called The Happiness Project. It’s a fun little read about how focusing on small changes in your daily life can bring you more fulfillment.

The book allowed me to indulge in a little self-examination, and I rediscovered that I am quite a happy person. In fact, when the Pixar movie Inside Out was first released, my colleagues at the time came to the quick conclusion that in my brain, Joy would be the one calling the shots. This was humbling and lovely to hear – that not only am I a joyful person on the inside, but it radiates to those around me.

While I would love to dedicate myself to my own Happiness Project, with my due date only 11 days away it looms a little too large for me. Instead I thought up a list of some great goals I’d like to set for myself in both the long and short term.

There will be others, but I think these are a great start for me going forward. As I mentioned in my last post, one of the things I’m most looking forward to postpartum is the opportunity to reclaim my default setting as a highly goal-oriented woman.

In no particular order, here are some of my focuses for the near and distant future.

  •  Continue flossing daily – This may sound like a small thing, but I’ve been flossing everyday since my last dental appointment in January. I’ve NEVER been able to maintain this habit for more than a week or so, and it feels great to have finally mastered it. Here’s hoping I can keep it up!
  • Exercise six days per week – I understand the importance of a rest day, so six days a week seems more manageable than seven. I accept that postpartum this will be very gentle to start, but eventually I can’t wait to get back into running and Pilates, and I’m even obsessed by the idea of taking up climbing.
  • Keep a food log/cut down the sweets to once a day – Pregnancy has amped up my sweet tooth to a whole new level. I’d rather indulge in something small once a day than keep up the bottomless pit type sugar habit I’ve got going now. I’m not pressuring myself to achieve this goal too quickly, but I know keeping a food log will help.
  • Teach Pilates regularly – Even if it’s just filling in at a studio once a month, I want to get to a point where I’m teaching often, not just sporadically like I am now.
  • Donate blood – I’ll have to wait the standard 9 months after giving birth, but this is my favorite charitable activity. I am a blood type that is in high demand and I would like to become a regular donor, rather than waiting for them to call me when there is a shortage.
  • Run a 10km, half-marathon and marathon again – These fall in the longterm category for sure. I used to love racing before I was knocked back with injury in early 2015. I’m going to take it incredibly slow after giving birth, but in the next couple of years I want to become a regular racer again. Half-marathon is my favorite distance, but I’d like to challenge myself to do another full (though hopefully on a course that’s less hilly this time).
  • Monthly purge of clutter – This won’t be hard as I absolutely LOVE purging our house of clutter. Making it a monthly activity will give me a great buzz and keep our home feeling tranquil.
  • Read for pleasure everyday – I do this anyway for the most part, but with a baby on the way I know it will be a challenge to prioritize “me time.”
  • Take on a sports trainer role for a local sports club – As a physiotherapy student it’s crucial I start getting some real world experience. I’m not putting a deadline on this, especially as I adjust to motherhood, but I want to keep it front of mind as a goal to achieve sometime in the next year.
  • Meditate weekly – I have tried and failed many times to adopt meditation as a regular practice. I do like it and recognize the benefits, but it is hard for me to commit. By making it a weekly rather than daily activity, I hope it’ll be an easier habit to keep.
  • Listen to music everyday – I tried and failed to listen to an album a day for a month last year. It was a great goal, and I would like to continue devoting time to entire albums rather than just songs or playlists, but a good start is just making music a part of my daily routine, whether as an activity on its own, or while cooking or working out. It makes me so happy and in our current world, which is so saturated in stimulation, something as simple as listening to music can get lost in all of our other distractions. When I was a teenager I had music playing in my room at all times. I miss that!

General immeasurable goals I’d like to keep in mind include – maintaining a positive attitude, avoiding complaining, gossip and nagging, keeping up with friends and family, making time for creativity such as writing and knitting and minimizing the time I spend on social media. I want to focus on being present in my own life.

I’m sure there are more goals I’ll be adding to this list, but for now I’m excited to have something concrete and in writing to keep me accountable moving forward.

If you’ve got some goals you’re working on I’d love to hear about them!

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Twenty-Nine, second to last!

Another lovely Friday off from work.  A lingering virus threatened to ruin the day, but I don’t believe in letting my life stop just because I’ve got a cold.  I think I was freaking people out with my raging cough, though…

The best thing to have on hand when getting over a bad cold is a good book.  When I say a good book, I don’t mean the highest quality of literature.  Anything that is easy, light and enjoyable reading is best.  A good girly novel is a definite way to go.  This one is about clothes, which is even better!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met Hannah and Maria for a coffee at my favorite place: Brownhaus in Subiaco.  They have such lovely drinks and desserts.  It’s a four page menu, quite impressive for a café.  If you’re a Perth local, try one of the Dutch coffees.  It’s the best cup around!

I wasn’t in much of a mood for coffee, so today I tried a mint latte with Belgian chocolate.  It was heavenly.

After Brownhaus we quickly popped into my favorite bookshop in Perth.  Hannah and I love this place, and Maria had never been.  I always find the coolest books in here.  It’s a great place to find gifts and is great for fashion literature.

This ensemble features a dress I haven’t worn yet in 30 in 30.  I keep saving it for a special occasion, but this is always a mistake when it comes to clothes.  The best things are worn often and with love.  This gorgeous dress is one I bought from Ann Taylor a few years ago for no reason at all.  At the time the sales assistant explained that it had completely sold out in my size within the first day on the racks.  This one happened to have been returned only moments before.  Just my luck, it’s a perfect fit!  It pairs nicely with my grey tights, witchy boots and Ann Taylor cardi.

Matt and I have settled in for the night with love heart chicken parm.  I’m almost out of tissues, but I’m happy to have an evening in with my fella.  Happy weekend all!

25, and Happy Birthday Dad!

I wish I could say I spent the day showering my amazing father with love and gifts, but sadly I haven’t even spoken with him yet.  I just want to give him a quick shout-out before moving on to today’s ensemble.  Happy Birthday Dad, have a great day!

It’s finally getting to the point where I have to give my outfits some thought.  This morning I woke up extra early to carefully look through all the photos so far to make sure I was creating something new.  I also noticed there’s a dress I haven’t even worn yet, so I’ll have to fix that this week!

Today for only the second time in the challenge, I’m wearing my navy long-sleeve T from Ann Taylor.  I paired it with a fashion beanie and a warm scarf because it’s chilly out there!  Also my black jeans are in the wash, so the comfy jeans were more of a necessity than a choice today.  Even sitting around the house after work I’m still wearing my outdoor gear.  We’ve got the heater on, but it’s still so nippy in the house.

Matt is next to me on the couch finishing We Need to Talk About Kevin.  I’m so excited because that means we get to watch the movie this week.  I believe I mentioned it already, but I LOVED THIS BOOK.  Everyone read it now, then message me to discuss. Kthxbi

 

Announcing: Something tedious to make me happy!

Hello friends! I’ve just finished reading quite a dull book called The Jane Austen Book Club.  I’m sure I should have known better, but forgive me for expecting the characters to actually DISCUSS ol’ Jane here and there.

Matt’s just finished reading Pride and Prejudice, a book I haven’t touched since I was 14.  (But seriously, who needs to when the BBC version is just as amazing as the novel?)  It was wonderful actually discussing a book with him at length.  We are a pair of avid readers, but our literary paths hardly seem to cross.  Odd? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.

Sure Matt and I share similar opinions on a great many things, but we’re both quick to get defensive and hide behind hurt feelings after the “it was okay” response referring to (in our minds) a masterpiece.

Example: Matt is a HUGE Charles Bukowski fan.  For me, just the one was enough.  Meanwhile he was less than impressed with Kurt Vonnegut Jr., a comic genius, in my opinion.  We can laugh about our differences now, but when you find another person who reads, and you share that intimacy of your favorite books with that person, in the moment of disappointment it can be crushing.  Still I doubt he’ll ever stop nagging me to watch Alien, just as I will never stop suggesting he read Ender’s Game or Watership Down.  Matt loves the “no, that’s for kids” argument in various instances.

So getting to my point, I’d like to use the internet in the form of this blog to discuss books.  It’s a simple concept, but I expect to make it challenging.  This is the third year in a row I’ve attempt to read 50 books.  It was a great success in 2009 (55) and no so much in 2010 (36).  This year I’m a bit behind at 39, but I hope to hit the mark before the end.

In keeping with that theme, I intend to rank the best 50 books I’ve ever read in 5 posts.  10 books at a time.  I once saw a brilliant blog where a guy listed his 100 favorite songs.  I expect this will be equally impossible.  So compiling the list is my homework for the week.  I promise to try to make it a bit visual.  I hope you’ll all be curious enough to check it out!

 

Contemplating the Kindle

I wish to stray for just a moment from my typical blogging repertoire to open the floor for discussion on the topic of iBooks.  I know there are several variations and formats for iReading, but I’ll zero in on the kindle, just for the sake of keeping things simple.

As I have mentioned all too often in the past, I am a beyond avid reader.  At my jobs people are always baffled, claiming I have a new book every time I show up for a shift.  The people at Subi got used to it fairly fast, since I’d always opt for literature over gossip during the short breaks afforded to us staffers.

Now it’s become an interesting facet of Emma for my newer coworkers.  One guy’s even teasing me constantly, claiming break is for relaxing, not reading.  I roll my eyes in a highly exaggerated fashion, and put my nose back in the latest paperback.

I probably “waste” more money on books than on anything else.  Every time I walk past a shop I feel a gravitational pull, and the tempting urge to walk inside is an itch that’s hard to ignore.  It doesn’t help that we’ve doubled up on rows in the small bookshelf in our bedroom.  Matt’s as much a reader as I am.  Though he seems to absorb novels with a meticulous and careful eye, taking his time to savor the details.  Whereas I tear through them like a train wreck, carnivorous and insatiable.  Matt even recently mused that while I have little to no free time, I still manage to read more than he does.  This comes from filling every opportunity with new pages, and carrying a loaded handbag at all times.

But now to the point.  As one who almost never leaves the house without a literary companion, I am curious to hear what people think of the kindle.  I have never wanted one myself.  I love the feel of a book in my hands; the wear and tear of a good one shows up in its vulnerable bindings.  I also find that collecting them is addicting.  When we finally move into our own place in the coming months, I cannot wait to fill the rooms with books.

Yes the kindle can save one a lot of money in the long run, and yes having multiple books at one’s fingertips at all times is enticing, but I don’t think I’m ready to take that leap.  How practical can it really be if I have to worry about it breaking or getting stolen?  Plus I’ve always been a girl who’s more likely to frequent the library over the local pub.  Many of my reads cost me nothing at all.  What are your thoughts, friends? Does anyone even have one?

 

Quite the Little Gourmet

Just a quick one tonight.  I’m in the mood to write for the first time in ages, so I’m going to take advantage of this moment of inspiration.  I just finished The Last Chinese Chef, a book about food, China and love.  I have to say the food and China parts were the most interesting, but I didn’t scoff at the love either.  It was only a 3/5 star book for me, but it got me to thinking about flavor, texture and of course tempted me to plan a trip to Beijing.

Today I went to the dentist and afterward straight to my insurance company’s office in Subiaco to make a claim.  HBF ended up footing about 75% of the bill! What a class act they are.  My refund was more than my monthly fee.  It’s paid for itself this month!  But more importantly, I was able to stop in at the Sri Lankan tea shop nearby.  They constantly have that “be back at…” sign out on the door, so one must scoop up the tea when opportunity strikes.

After going out for “coffee” with the girls on Monday, I’ve been newly obsessed with Masala Chai.  (Coffee’s in parentheses because we all just end up drinking tea.)  I’ve also been on the hunt for a good Jasmine Green, so the outing was a focused one.  The woman running the place is always very matter-of-fact.  She tells you how much tea to use, how long to let it brew, and she ALWAYS has what you’re looking for.  Today when I asked for the Chai, see went off into the back room like this was Chinatown and I was looking for a knock-off Kate Spade.  I felt like quite the little connoisseur.  The tea I happened to desire wasn’t out on display for the casual browser.

I came home and drank two pots of it in a row.  I skyped my parents while enjoying my spoils, and they asked me to consider coming home for Christmas.  Matt and I have no idea if we could do it, but it would of course be amazing if we could pull it off.  I have a feeling we’ll be toiling over this decision for several weeks.

After dinner tonight I was desperate for sweets, and I searched for a treat that would fit the ingredients on hand.  Matt accused me of never making brownies, so I located a simple brownie cookie recipe and made it happen in under an hour.  This is most impressive since my beater is not electric.  They turned out addicting.  My friends devoured nearly all of them tonight.

Last night Matt and I had our first dinner date in ages.  It was nice to celebrate our finishing the visa.  Though I wasn’t expecting the restaurant to be so full!  I introduced him to pork belly, a dish that is très à la mode here in Australia.  It’s funny to work with talented chefs and to watch Masterchef when I can and to notice the trends.  Who knew food could come in waves? I’ve seen so much pork belly, celeriac purée and truffle oil lately, just to name a few.

Penguin’s Intrigue

I love books.  I’ve always loved and been fascinated by them.  Never have I really favored one publishing company over another.  Plenty of them produce beautiful volumes that cause me to sigh and breathe deeply every time I dance along through a bookshop.

But lately I’ve realized I go for Penguins more than any when I just need something reliable.  I go on a limb for pretty pages, enticing me with their colors and titles.  But when I need a classic (my favorite kind of book), I go straight for Penguin.  Like a good friend, Penguin’s always there for me.  No matter how long we spend apart, it’s like no time has passed when we’re together again.

At the library yesterday (no, I certainly had no reason to check out 4 books when I already have stacks of unread novels at home), I discovered a Chekhov book of short stories that is part of a 20-book series called “Great Loves.”  It’s a secret plot by Penguin to tempt me into buying the entire series.  Plus the covers are mesmerizing, even hauntingly beautiful.  Alas, I simply MUST have them all.

Luckily for me, I’m in no position to buy 20 books at this point, even when they each cost less than 4 pounds brand new.  For now I must settle for A Russian Affair and pray that one day I’ll collect them all.  Maybe next Valentine’s day they’ll be doing a special.  Or better yet, here’s an inexpensive 20 gift ideas for Christmas 2011.

If you’re feeling intrigued yourself, hurry up and buy the series post-haste, before the sale on Penguin’s UK website ends: http://www.penguin.co.uk/static/cs/uk/0/pubsetpages/greatloves/index.html.