Archive for the ‘Healthy Living’ Category

Spring has sprung!

Mmm… ssssuuuuuunnnn!!!!!

I just wanted to show off some flowers. They can actually be seen now because my mum weeded my garden! 🙂

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I can hear my fridge humming!

No, I’m not going mad. I am nearing the end of my time of Long Service Leave and I’m marvelling at the slower pace my life has settled into. I have moved so slow and experienced so much peace and quiet that I can literally hear my fridge hum almost all the time… and it ISN’T annoying me!

I’m really happy with what I have and haven’t done.  Somehow I feel that, despite doing not much at all during the past seven weeks, I have achieved more than I could have possibly hoped! I am not one to sit around watching TV too often, although I’m addicted to my Thursday night ritual of Masterchef, Glee, Law and Order: SVU followed lastly by Medium, and maybe the odd Midday movie on Channel Seven! In “taking stock” of what I have done, it would look something like this…

  • I completed a couple of writing courses (the meditation and writing course is tomorrow).
  • I developed my personal blog and started a work-based blog.
  • Did a complete makeover on my garden with my mum.
  • Had a massage from Sr Tess at the Bethany Healing Centre… always a wonderfully unique experience that I will no doubt share with you in a later post.
  • Cooked a number of mains and desserts, including a Oreo Cheesecake which used 450g of Oreo biscuits… yuuuuummmmm!
  • Caught up with many friends, some of which I haven’t seen for many years… and cooked some more.
  • Went to the Easter Show for the first time at Homebush.
  • Walked with my mum on many days in my favourite park.
  • Read Leo Babauta’s ‘The Power of Less’ and started my first habit!
  • Started Covey’s ‘Seven Habits’ Book.
  • Went away down south for a week.
  • Watched a sunset.
  • Did heaps of wedding planning and spent quality time with my man.
  • Gurneyed a fifth of my backyard… don’t ask!
  • Got my bathroom partially renovated.
  • and how could I forget… waking up at 2am to make a cup of tea for Michael because I dreamt he had asked for one. Man was I mad when I realised I was sleep walking!

This list is pretty amazing to look back at… I can say in all honesty that I have no regrets… there is nothing I would have liked to do and didn’t, and I did nothing that I thought was a waste of time!

In summary… time well spent!!!

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Abbey GroundsLiving in the present… is, for me, a major feat!

All major World Religions, most self-help programs and logic would suggest that living in the present is the best way to enjoy life and is one of the sources of inner peace. Unfortunately, the author of this blog about serenity is about the furthest from achieving this feat as anyone I know.

I, like most people, find it very easy to sit in a meeting and stress about what work I could and should be doing if it were not for this compulsory meeting. I find it easy to eat breakfast in such a way as to not really remember having eaten it at all… if I even bother to do so in the first place! I know I am not alone in this and it gives me some comfort knowing this is one of the struggles of modern life, and that most of those of us who are aware of the struggle wish it wasn’t the case.

The part of ‘not being present’ that I hate the most is when I talk to others and am not really aware of them as people beyond the role that they can fulfil for me or for my work. Unfortunately, when I am particularly busy this is not only the colleagues I work with, but the many friends and family I meet and often explain away my lack of interest in them as me being “in a really busy patch right now.” At what point did my life get so busy that I worry that talking to my mum on the phone might take up too much of my precious time?

I know there are no simple answers. I am however, reading and attempting to put into practice some practical strategies from a book called ‘The Power of Less‘ by Leo Babauta (2009, New York, Hyperion). Simplicity for me is something I have always attempted to do in terms of my lifestyle and in what I own and buy, but I am discovering just how much of my life is more complex than needed. If you too have a interest in simplicity as a concept or even in just streamlining a bit of complexity in your life, I can highly recommend ‘The Power of Less’ as a book with practical strategies that might help.

Is it helping me, you might ask? Well, I had Kellogg’s Advantage for breakfast this morning if that helps!

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Yes, I do plan to write a novel/anthology one day… and actually finish it!

Joanna Maxwell ran this course on Sunday at the NSW Writers Centre and I really enjoyed it. Like the ‘Blogging For Beginners’ course, it was inspiring and useful.

I am one of those people she mentioned who say “I would love to write one day,” but who hadn’t actually had much vision for my writing project. The course helped me work out what my vision actually is and make it more specific and achievable.

As a High School teacher I have had my fair share of training in mindmapping, scaffolding, listing and storyboarding. On Sunday though, I found it interesting to learn about these strategies in the context of my life and my project, independent of the context of teaching, and to see them in a new way.

While in themselves these strategies aren’t particularly serenity-inducing, I’ve been told that if applied properly they can bring about a better quality of life where priorities (the “big rocks”) are both identified and explored… I live in hope!!!

I really enjoyed the mindmapping strategy in particular. As a follow-up to the course, today I decided to combine the things I learnt about Steven Covey’s work, the work of Leo Babauta in ‘The Power of Less’ and mindmapping to creatively explore the “big rocks” in my life and strategies I might use to simplify my work and life, in turn, creating a greater sense of balance and serenity.

I really recommend anyone with the inclination and the Long Service Leave accrued, to take the opportunity to spend some time away from work, clarifying purpose, direction and priorities… it’s well worth the effort!

IDENTIFYING AND MANAGING PRIORITIES: Steven Covey’s “Big Rocks”… very American, but well worth a look!

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John Mountford ReserveAt 32 years of age it is so easy to take walking for granted!

I have a favourite place I like to walk… a park named after a man who, as a boy, flew his kite there when it was a dairy and a piggery, this kite-flying youngster went on to become our local Alderman (early 1900’s), Mayor and then member of the House of Representatives. Such important titles for a man I recognise for something much simpler…

I remember my local park when I hadn’t been walking for very long at all! I remember the two-tiered tennis courts, I remember where I was standing in the park when on my fifth birthday, my mum’s friend gave me the card I remember most vividly. I remember riding my bike on only 85% of the park’s circular track before having to turn around, because ‘bad men’ were hiding there.

The Bridge

The Bridge

I remember the bridge above the storm water drain the local kids used to play under, and the random mound of rocks that acted as our kingdom and fort. I remember the steep hill I couldn’t roller skate up, and the same hill I avoid walking up now! I remember the Weeping Willow that I spent hours climbing, staring at or sitting under and I remember weeping myself when in the 1990’s, the council removed the dying willow. I remember the park when it was double the size, before the M5 took the Netball courts. At 13 years of age I had fallen in love with my local park so much that when all my friends were Ice Skating, Shopping and Bowling for their birthdays, I invited my friends to sit under my Weeping Willow and play. Boring? Maybe!

After many years I am back living near my local park again. I am once again walking around my smaller, hilly, Weeping Willow-less park, enjoying nothing more than saying hello to and smiling at the other lucky ones who have discovered the simple hidden pleasures of John Mountford Reserve.

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A 6km walk, a sunset and time to appreciate both. I am a happy woman!

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www.ahhserenity.wordpress.comI am now 10000 steps shy of Shelly Beach on the Great Ocean Road!

No, I’m not going mad! My wish to walk on most days of my Long Service Leave AND stay in the comfort of my own Sydney suburb, has seen me join a “virtual” trek of the Great Ocean Road! I discovered the ‘Walking with Attitude’ site last week and am slowly getting a “virtual” start on this familiar area of our beautiful country.

Michael and I visited the area in April last year so the “virtual” walking experience combined with my memories and photos of our trip last year will make my mission to exercise hopefully just a bit more fun… hmm, I think I was a little critical of self-help programs in a post recently 🙂

More about my walk later.

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So, my site stats resemble something like the dip in an exponential graph… Why you might ask? Most likely because I have stopped visiting my site every 10 minutes! (see ‘Blogging Buzz’).

Take this post for example, in my wish to blog at a more steady pace, I have opted to blog about nothing in particular at 11.00pm at night!

Today was a constant stream of housework… Typically, when I am working, I rarely do housework in the traditional sense, so it’s a little novel to actually do a series of things that resemble cleaning, in one day! My usual routine is wiping down benches when I spill something (which is quite frequent thankfully) and vacuuming when I can no longer walk barefoot and feel the plush carpet between my toes… when I can feel other “bits” I know it’s time to vacuum! I like to think of myself as a sensual person and apply this to my cleaning methods.

I enjoy the free and light feeling I get after having sorted through everything I own and categorising it into the “I-need-this-to-live” pile and the “I-want-this, but-it’s-unecessary-clutter-complicating-my-existence” pile.

Now, what to do with the piles of unnecessary clutter?… This time, in addition to the usual bags of old clothes and shoes, I have discarded two particular items of interest. First is the third of the four mops I own (see Sydney Royal Easter Show post). It lay discarded, unloved and rejected, a reminder that purchasing a mop in my household should never be a decision made lightly or carelessly. The second item is a pair a green marbled stallions rearing up on their hind legs. They’re bookends I was given as a gift many years ago by an old boyfriend. Whether the horses were of any significance to him, me or us, I have long since forgotten. They do, however, serve as a reminder that, at least for me, serenity comes from remembering the past and then letting go of old things to make room for the new. Hmm… I think I read that in a quote once.

Have a happy, uncluttered day.

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I can’t help myself! I keep revisiting my blog to see if it’s changed… I suspect checking every ten minutes is a BIT unrealistic 🙂

I’m still buzzing since starting ‘Blogging for Beginners’ on Saturday. I will admit that secretly, I thought spending three hours at an inspirational place such as the NSW Writer’s Centre and doing a course about blogging would miraculously turn me into a writing/technological guru (the venue and course sounds a little trendy in the circles I move in).

Well it’s been two days and I am loving the concept of finally writing, if not on my novel, at least on my blog. I was really inspired to see that blogs and putting an opinion ‘out there’ can have the power to change things (hopefully) for the better (Thanks William!). Still wondering if it will work with our politicians!

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A few words about our Engagement… only 7 1/2 months after the event!

The Infamous Photo!

The 18th of July 2009 was just under a year from the time Michael and I began dating. We went for a walk at Mt Alexandra Reserve at Mittagong in the Southern Highlands. I’ve walked there before with my mum around the time of my HSC 16 years ago, but we couldn’t find the elusive 60 ft Falls. Michael and I decided we’d find it this time.

After only one wrong turn we found the falls and sat down to rest and take in the beauty of our surrounds. It was actually really noisy because of the traffic from the nearby freeway which surprised me. A while later Michael popped the question to which I answered with a resounding ‘Yes!’ (Phew!)

The proposal… romantic and beautiful? Yes! Perfect? No! One of the lesser-known stories about this day happened after Michael proposed and I said yes. As most couples would do, we tried to take a few photos to capture the moment for both ourselves and for our family and friends who weren’t there. This wouldn’t ordinarily be a problem for an engaged couple, but most couples aren’t on their own standing on the edge of the 60 ft Falls!

Needless to say, my dexterity and nimble-footedness (in truth, my tendency to be accident-prone and clumsy) struck and as we were preparing to set the timer on the camera and race back to the place in front of the falls where we wanted to take the photo, I slipped and rolled down the slope of the rocks leading to the edge of the falls and that 60 ft drop I mentioned. Just 1 metre shy of the edge Michael’s legs didn’t budge as I rolled into them.

That was one hell of a close call, but we live to tell the tale and despite being on a number of more difficult bushwalks since that one, have decided not to risk our lives for a photo again, at least not until our Wedding…

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