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!

5 ways to Get and Stay Motivated

Motivation (or more accurately, lack-thereof) is one of the biggest problems affecting our lazy society.  I would go to the gym, but it’s such an effort. I’ve eaten so well this week, I can take a break today.  It’s too far away, I can’t be bothered.  Sound familiar?

Here are my five ways to get or stay motivated:

1. Set Reasonable Goals:  If you have never run a mile in your life, don’t just decide one day you want to run a marathon.  Start small, and create little goals for yourself along the way.  Even if you are working toward a bigger picture, it’ll help you stay super motivated if it involves smaller wins along the way.  Setting reasonable goals also means SPECIFY SPECIFY SPECIFY!  Don’t just say “this week, I’m going to be healthier.”  Instead, say “this week I’m going to exercise 5 days for 30 minutes each.”  Your brain likes variety, so allow yourself many ways of accomplishing the task.  If you need help, or just a little encouragement, check this out:

*To set the “right” health-related goals, maybe have one session with a physio, dietician or a personal trainer to find out where you are weak and what your focus should be.

2. Prepare! Think ahead: Of course it’s easier to stay in bed than to go for that morning run you promised yourself you’d do.  The best way to fight the morning groan is to set your alarm for a couple minutes earlier than you need.  That way if you have an inner argument you haven’t wasted the time you could have spent accomplishing your goals.  Also get to bed at a reasonable hour and set your clothes and other necessities out the night before.  Make sure those running shoes are staring at you when you roll over in the morning.

Thinking ahead also applies to the way in which you RSVP.  Don’t say yes to an event or Friday plans with friends if you foresee that the week will completely take it out of you.  Anticipate how tired you will be before you commit.  People aren’t offended if you say no from the start, and it’ll help you be more motivated and energetic for the next big activity.

3. Pump up the Jam: There are three times when you are likely to listen to music outside of home: In the car, on public transport and while you exercise.  These are usually areas where you need a bit of a pump-up.  Driving around running errands can be taxing, the bus ride to work can be a bit depressing on a dreary Monday, and exercise in the city or at the gym can be not-so-relaxing.  One of my small hidden talents happens to be making mixes.  I love a good mix, and I have since the Napster days when we first realized we could have the music we want and put in together in a compilation of our own creation.  I believe that events, whether significant or not, require a good mix.  I love listening to the radio every once in a while because it’s a great place to find good running songs.  I find music helps me drown out the noises of the outside world and focus inward.  Here are 5 of my all-time favorite exercise/pump-up songs (feel free to judge!):

-If We Ever Meet Again by Timbaland ft. Katy Perry (I know it’s random, but I love to put it toward the end of a running mix because it really gets me going all over again)

-Super Freak by Rick James

-Sleepyhead by Passion Pit (perfect first song to get you started)

-Take Over Control by Afrojack

-Don’t Feeling Like Dancing by Scissor Sisters

Don’t forget the general treasure chest that is the 90s.  90s music is the BEST for singing loud in the car or jamming out during a run.  Another Night by The Real Mccoy is my all-time fave, but other great ones include: Rhythm is a Dancer, Mr. Vain, and of course the Jock Jams megamix.

Use music whenever you need it.  Personally I need a super sweet dance mix if I’m going be motivated to clean the house.  It’s the main reason I love to clean alone!

4. Phone a Friend: This one is pretty obvious, but having a friend along is one of the best ways to stay motivated.  Whether it’s a new diet or a vigorous exercise class, having mates at your side makes everything easier and more fun.

I personally am someone who likes a balance between friends and independence.  More often than not I go for goals by myself.  But I have many friends who find it extremely difficult to exercise alone.  It’s all about personal preference.  Make it a routine if you can, on Tuesday I go to Body Attack with Meg, on Sunday I go for a long run by myself.  Routines keep you in the right head space, and you are more likely to accomplish your goals if you feel like it’s mandatory (even when self-inflicted).

5. Get the Gear: Matt and I are both avid writers and sometimes we lose inspiration.  I find that buying myself a pretty new journal is often a good place to start.  It gets me in the mood to write.  A few of my friends have recently started exercising more, and once they invested in some quality clothing and equipment, they found it easier to stay motivated (one of them didn’t even previously own a sports bra, despite being a decent athlete).  Exercise clothing is my weakness.  Matt can’t understand why I need 5 pairs of spandex (2 for yoga, 1 for running, 2 for both).  But when you have a rigorous fitness routine (and you’re a slave to the sun when it comes to laundry), it ends up making sense.  I always try to get in on the sales at lululemon when they happen.  It’s best to stock up whenever you can.  I love having the right gear, I feel it legitimizes my athletic status.

Do your research, and make sure you aren’t wasting money on things you don’t need.  Also be sure that your new activity is one you’ll be into for a good long while (aka don’t invest in a yoga or pilates mat for one class only).

There you have it, my 5 ways to get and stay motivated.  When I come up with ideas for 5 ways, I do my best to portray changes people can easily make.  It’s all about forming good habits and making small adjustments.  After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Music and Moving

Hello world!

It’s been awhile since my last post announcing 5 ways.  I’ve got some drafts in the works, just need to get the appropriate photos to go along.  I thought I’d write a quick update to explain why I’ve been too busy!

This past weekend was pretty crazy.  I had Friday afternoon post-work bevvies with Matt’s work mates, which was really nice.  I hadn’t met most of them before, so it was cool to put faces to names.  Lovely people, I’m glad he’s got such a great group working with him.

Saturday was the beginning of our friend Hannah moving in.  As of Monday she finally felt like she had everything in order.  It’s funny because her room already smells like her! (Though I suppose all her stuff in there probably has something to do with it).

Sunday The Treble Clefs (my a cappella group) had their very first busking experience.  Busking is when you perform in the street for coins.  It’s a great tradition in Perth, and down in Fremantle you don’t even need a license to do it!  We had a blast and were very well-received by the crowd.  Kids especially seemed to love us.

At the very end of the hour-long “gig,” an interesting fellow insisted we do backup for a song of his.  We reluctantly agreed, but it got a little weird afterward when he was begging for our contact details.  We made him quite a bit of change for just one song, so I suppose it was sort of a good deed.  He looked like Argus Filch from the Harry Potter movies.  I joked to the girls afterward that he was probably struggling to make it as a muggle.

Last big piece of news is that my soccer team won our league this year! I cannot believe I haven’t mentioned that yet.  Our last game was the last weekend in September and we had the club wind-up afterward.  Trophy night is coming up soon, but we already went to a presentation day a couple weekends ago.  I am so proud of the whole team and what we were able to accomplish this year!  Here’s a few photos from the wind-up:

X & XI

As I predicted, a packed schedule means two posts in one again.  Yesterday I had a soccer game in frightening conditions, followed by some hard work in the kitchen before a final Treble Clefs rehearsal and sleepover.  There was a tornado IN PERTH the other day.  Weather like that is practically unheard of in this part of the world.  The winds have hardly died down since.  It almost makes me feel at home again.  Uprooted trees and damage to houses sounds a lot like a typical Edina summer thunderstorm.

For my evening rehearsal with the girls, I opted for a combination of style and comfort.  This owl sweater from Sportsgirl is one of the things Matt helped me pick out for my birthday.  Instead of presents this year he took me shopping and I got to choose a few treats for myself. 

I know a memorable piece like this probably isn’t smart in a 30 in 30 challenge, but I hadn’t worn it yet so I just had to include it.  My tan boots made a comeback as well because, let’s face it, I could wear them everyday.  I went with my comfier H&M jeans over the black ones.  Singing and tight-waist pants don’t mix.

Before singing with the girls, Matt and I made a Burmese pork curry that was pretty delicious, but incredibly filling.  Plus it took us about an hour to chop up all the ingredients and prepare the marinade alone.  I had to cut the pork belly with kitchen scissors; the skin was that tough.  We’ll be having leftovers tonight.  I have to say I love cooking big meals one day and resting the next.  Keeps it from becoming a chore.

Today the Treble Clefs performed for a senior day center not too far outside the city.  We were lucky the suburb still had power; these crazy winds seem to be knocking it out everywhere, especially south of the river. (Perth and its surrounding suburbs are often referred to as being North or South based on the Swan River that passes just south of downtown.)  Apparently an apartment complex in my neighborhood lost its entire roof to these frantic gusts.

Our dress code for the performance was dress nice, dress black.  Luckily I included a simple black cotton dress in the 30 in 30 lineup.  I got it from The Gap years ago and it still makes an appearance every now and then.  I paired it with my sparkly headband and some H&M tights Hannah brought back for me from Europe. 

My little black flats are from Target.  I picked them up because my nice ones were developing holes in the heels.  Hmm, I should really get those to a cobbler…

The concert was lovely and the audience was very appreciative.  We’d been to their center once before, so we knew to expect a warm welcome.  Now that it’s over we’re going to focus our musical energies on prep for some busking adventures in the coming months.  We’ll likely do it in Fremantle first as they don’t charge artists for a license to busk (perform in the streets).  The proceeds will most likely go to charity and to funding future projects.

I took the day off work to sing, so some of the girls went for cake and chai after the gig.  That is where Maria took today’s photos.  The weather’s supposed to get even worse throughout the week, so it’ll probably be lots more warm and comfy outfits for awhile.  An excuse to wear pretty scarves? Yes, please!

x3

Day three of the 30 in 30 challenge! I’m still going strong, no temptations to shop at all.  One of the great things about this project is that I can save some money along the way.  No shopping should really help me out in controlling spending.  There are huge sales happening at the moment, so normally I would be out dropping more than I can afford on things I may not need.  According to Kendi, the founder of 30 in 30, this experience is a good way to separate what you want and what you need.  I can see holes in my wardrobe already…

Sundays are all about soccer and singing.  My team had an early game today, which was amazing.  Gotta love when a game finishes before the warmest part of the day.  Normally we’re dying under the harsh aussie sun.  After the 9-1 flogging (go us!), I came home for a quick shower before singing rehearsal.  My sister Nora skyped me through the choosing of my day 3 outfit.  Sorry for the blurry photo, the lighting in our house is terrible!

Cardi: Urban Outfitters

Tank: Cotton On

Scarf: Forever New

Necklace: Love Culture

Boots: I <3 Billy

This E necklace is the one I wear everyday.  I only take it off when I have to for sport.  Often my fun cool necklaces never get a glance.  The E goes with everything!  It’s important to have cute simple pieces like these in your daily wardrobe.  The E is practically a part of my personality now.  I get comments on it all the time!

These I call my “witchy boots.”  Nora decided I would wear these over the keds today.  They do add some much-needed pomp and circumstance to the mix.  While my cardi is amazing and goes with absolutely everything, I’ve worn it so often that it definite has the look of something very much loved.  Tonight Matt made steaks, so we’re about ready to pull up in front of the TV and spend the night hanging.  Masterchef is on, so I’m ready to put up my feet and get some cooking tips.  Goodnight all, see you tomorrow!

A Little Showin’ Off

My lack of follow-through on my promise to frequent this blog again is actually the result of having too much to say.  Lately life is quiet, but I have had such an urge to take photos.  I really need to buy a new camera.  I swear this would solve all of my creative woes.

I thought I would share a few small things from the last few months as it is way overdue.  I have new things to share as well, but they can wait until this weekend.

I have not yet uploaded a photo of the beautiful dress Matt picked out for my birthday.  I was skeptical before trying it on, but now I think it is just lovely.  Matt is really good at making me feel pretty.  I wish everyone could have that!

The other lovely photos I want to share also come from our backyard.  The Treble Clefs (my all-female a cappella group) had a high tea a few weeks ago.  It was quite the elegant affair.  I am completely obsessed with tea so it was good fun.  We all baked (I made butterfly cupcakes) and I think we all suffered food comas the rest of the weekend.

We had our third performance about 2 weeks ago and it went amazingly.  It was such a great audience and we cannot wait for our next gig on the 11th.  Other than that plans include a charity concert, a bit of busking in the streets of Perth and Fremantle, and perhaps another high tea with the mothers.  I hope that in the coming months we will have some videos to post to our website.  I’m lucky to have so many friends who are talented in the kitchen!

We could not have fit anything more on this gorgeous table.  I cannot wait to see what we come up with next.

 

The Sounds of Summer

It’s been quite a busy spring, and I anticipate a crazy fun summer!  Sadly for me, a few of my friends will be away during their uni holidays.  Luckily plenty of us are staying behind to brave the 40+ degree heat (Celsius).  For my friend Claire and I, this will mean heaps of time to catch up on musical arrangements.

Back in July, I joined forces with some of my best friends to form an all-female a cappella group called “The Treble Clefs.”  Treble Clefs had its first gig a few weekends ago at a wedding.  We sang about 6 different songs, including a Shania Twain ballad while the bride walked down the aisle.  We got an onslaught of positive feedback, which was really wonderful.  It really motivated us to work hard to market ourselves well.  We still have a lot of work to do on the website, but I’ll be sure to link it when it’s ready to go.  I’m not really sure what the future holds for the group, but I’ve got numerous arrangements in the works, and it just feels so good to be singing again.

Aside from doing work for the a cappella group, I’m looking forward to another type of work in store for me this summer.  It’s nearly the end of my 6 months (allowed by my visa) at the hotel where I currently work.  So I’ve been frantically applying for new jobs so as not to be out of work at Christmastime.  I ended up landing a position at The Naked Fig.  It’s a beach-side cafe and restaurant that prides itself on being free trade, free range, organic, etc. 

The Naked Fig is actually part of a chain of Fig restaurants.  Matt and I had an amazing date last night at The Wild Fig.  It’s the latest in the franchise, and the closest one to our house.

I’m excited at the prospect of working at the beach.  I’ll try to take heaps of photos to give readers an idea of how beautiful this area is.  I feel like I hardly take advantage of living so near what are considered the top beaches in Australia.

The best part of my new job (besides the option of running out the door and into the ocean upon the completion of a shift) is the fact that I get to wear pretty much whatever I want as long as it’s black.  I was obnoxiously trying on everything black that I own to determine what is the cutest way to pull off my bright orange apron.

I’ve been feeling a little down lately about my immigration status.  I can’t wait until my visa comes through so I can have a bit of stability and take advantage of residency.  But then I remember all the great people I’ve met and the fun opportunities I’ve had.  And now I get to work at the beach!

This adventure of living abroad since college has brought me places I never knew existed.  I’m an incredibly lucky girl.  Recently I even saw two of the bigger current Australian celebrities!  I got to see the prime minister from about 20 feet away a few weeks ago, and this week I made a soy latte for one of the judges from Australia’s X Factor.  He was the first winner of Australian Idol so I suppose that would make him the Australian Kelly Clarkson. 

He caught me completely by surprise when I was busy making coffees (I’m often the morning barista at work, which can get pretty full on).  He came over to ask where he could get some orange juice.  I’m sure my eyes flickered when I recognized him.  I tried to be normal, but like I said, it totally caught me off guard.  We girls were all giddy the rest of the shift.  He was so nice and really good-looking in person.  It’s pretty surreal seeing someone in person when you’re used to seeing them on television.  Especially when you aren’t expecting it!