Regrets? Not a one.

New Year 31

2012 Resolutions:

I must change.

I must remove all the excess. 

I must get rid of all the clutter.

I must eat healthier food.

I must exercise.

I must read more, for pleasure and professionally.

I must watch less TV.

I must be more active in my own life.  

Well, we are in the last few hours of 2012 and like millions of others, I feel a little tug to pause for reflection on the year that has been. I am not making any resolutions this new year, having decided that I am about as good as I am going to get (and hey, as a goddess, that is pretty damn good!)

At the turn of 2011 to 2012 I made the  resolutions listed above. How did I go? I blitzed it; of course not!

Well, I changed. Who doesn’t as they live through another year, notch up another year on the birthday totem? We also started a new life, a country life; and I gained permanent employment in a role that I always desired, but took the long route to achieve. Happiness off the scale has been my reward.

Excess? Well, it was a slow walk to a crashing crescendo on that one. Budget cutbacks achieved some trimming. Moving achieved even more (do I pack the shit, or do I toss the shit? After packing about a gazillion boxes that question becomes way easier.) The final cut to excess was achieved through a mind shift that minimalism brought me more joy and far less stress.

Yes, indeed moving got the toss out regime into high gear, and we managed to downsize to a smaller house, but it is still obvious that I need to cull more than a little bit more. It will happen, the die is cast. It has become a mindset and a need, and so clutter has been controlled as well.

Food? Well, I would have classed that a big fat F for failure until the last few weeks when I think I finally got the light bulb moment. After yet one more bout of diverticulitis, and a pretty severe one, I have really looked at my diet. I have suffered from diverticulitis for over fifteen years now, and I do not believe that my diet really plays a large part in my chronic condition, though I avoid certain things as a precaution; anyone who has suffered the pain of an attack would do the same.

For months I have been trying to cut back on sugar in my diet. Yes, I of the chocolate and jelly baby eating sweet tooth. As my children joke, “Mum thinks lollies are a food group!” I eliminated sugar from my one coffee a day at work – woohoo! To cut a long food saga short, in the last weeks of 2012 I just didn’t want to feel second rate anymore, I want to have more energy and so I really working on what I eat; and when it is something not so good, at least the portion size. So, maybe not an F, but more of a D+.

Reading, well the professional reading went up off the scale; so much to learn. I started a professional Scoop.It to curate the information and to share it with colleagues. Along the line I joined a bookclub that has forced me to read things out of my usual comfort genre (biography and memoir), but I didn’t cut out the television watching as much as I planned. Heck, there was that ongoing sideshow called the US Presidential Election and I just couldn’t drag myself away. Then to have it followed by the Fiscal Cliff, what a gift for a comedy lover!

Exercise came with the move to the country, where just walking to the mailbox is more than I used to walk in a week living in the city! Exercise also came with the arrival of a puppy named Augie Dog, who loves to play, well he loves to play all the time, and any game! He also lowered our stress to levels not experienced in years

And the last resolution; to be more active in my life? I am, I know I am. I am grateful for and I appreciate everyone in my life, and everything I have. My blessings are many and I try to embrace each moment. I even try to be nice, even though it goes against my natural inclinations, for I find nice exhausting; but I do try.

Life is rarely what we hope or wish, but all we can do is our best and try to be resilient. I have tried to ride the roller coaster and yet set my own path at the same time. Win some, lose some, for sure, but I try to stay true to myself, and try to stop others setting my life agenda. Life? I am in it.

happy drink

Monday resolutions

It’s been awhile since I shared my progress with my 2012 resolutions and I know that you haven’t asked for it, but here it is – another chapter on my journey of intentional living.

Sunday I had the best day so far. I managed to meditate twice, twenty minutes each time. I even got off the couch and went for a walk – in the rain! Until now I had made no progress with exercise at all, but I woke Sunday morning and just had to go for a walk. I knew if I didn’t go, even though I knew it was going to rain, I felt as though I would never achieve that goal, so umbrella under my arm, off I set. I was only around the corner a little when it did start to rain, but my large umbrella was great shelter and I continued walking. Well, at least I can say that I did go for a walk in 2012! Bonus points for the rain too!

I had my green tea, and my vitamin supplements (I take a multivitamin with selenium, a fish oil capsule and a little extra vitamin B at the moment as felt a sense of approaching depression).

Sunday I procrastinated no more and attacked the walk in robe in our bedroom. I actually bought some large storage containers so I can pack away the out of season clothes (and it will make moving faster, I hope). It is a task that will take more than one day, but I did manage to break the back of it. I have a bag of clothes for charity, as well as more books.

I have been quite ruthless with clearing clutter. I had a lot of silly holiday mementos  that friends had given me when they returned from overseas holidays, and it all went into the bin, as I thought what was the point if I have never been to that country anyway? I was only holding onto it so as not to insult the givers, many of them people I no longer see, so why continue allowing it to gather layers of dust? It feels so good to get rid of clutter and to imagine a life less weighed down with stuff. I am never going to allow the clutter ever again, that is my everlasting gift to myself.

Monday is a public holiday to celebrate the Queen’s birthday (I know, it seems to be  a never ending event, but no one rejects a holiday!) so Daughter 2 and I are off to visit Grandma Flamingo Dancer. BIL was admitted to hospital late on Saturday night as a precaution. as it was suspected that he is developing pneumonia again, so we are trying to take the care of mother dear a little more so that sister is free to be with BIL. Considering all that is happening, it is a blessing that Mum is now in care and doing so well, as sister would have not been able to cope with a dependent mother and an ill husband. Still it is an hour’s drive for us to visit Grandma so not much more decluttering will get done this week!

And a little off subject, we have finally discovered which animal comes each year and eats our pine trees! It has happened every June or July for the past three years and only last week I was thinking how well the pine trees were recovering from the last attack. Son walked outside just after dark and found a large deer, with antlers rutting at the tree! It took fright and headed back towards the bushland, and I expect Son probably made a hasty retreat inside as well!

The first year we thought it was local teenagers, but the following year we started to think maybe an animal and our money was on a kangaroo, but it turns out to be feral deer! Deer are an introduced species to Australia, but we have the odd sighting in the area as we are near the river. I know nothing about deer, and can only think that there must be something seasonal in their need to attack our pine trees in June or July each year (our winter). Maybe he is getting ready for Christmas in July! I do hope they stay away as it won’t make the front garden look all that lovely to prospective buyers with damaged trees! I guess we can make it sound romantic by saying “deer graze in the front garden!”

I hope you have a great day – it really is there for the taking!

it’s in the genes

Now that we are faced by the reality that both our parents have suffered memory loss (Dad’s seems to have been vascular related dementia, whereas Mum’s appears to be Alzeimer’s, though really, it is six of one and half a dozen of the other, as they say – no difference) we really can’t pretend that we are not in the firing line for the same susceptibility to memory loss.

My sister, being eight years older than I, is a little more worried (freaked out!) than I, but I have to admit that it is occupying my thoughts a little more than it did a few weeks ago. Especially after every visit to Mum and seeing how she now has such a struggle handling every day life.

I have even fallen for purchasing a book, 100 simple things to prevent Alzheimer’s, or something similarly titled. Of course the majority of the top 100 were things we should all be doing for a healthy life, such as exercise, healthy diet, maintain relationships.

A couple suggestions I had read before, such as eating curry. Mr FD and I have often wondered about the curry link, as Mr FD’s father, who died at the age of 93, having been born in Ceylon, was a devotee of a good curry and ate it on a regular basis, and his mind was relatively clear until the final year. He also did crosswords and was widely read, all things that help maintain the brain.

One suggestion was to eat cinnamon as it assists with maintaining insulin levels. The recommendation was one half to one teaspoon a day! That is a huge amount of cinnamon in anyone’s estimation. I don’t think I would ever achieve that one!

A more insidious suggested cause is stress. Now that is the hard one. I try to meditate from time to time, especially when stressed or ill, but I was crafted anxious in the womb, and though I have come to recognise my triggers and worked hard to overcome them over the years, I doubt if there has ever been too many days without my being aware of feelings of stress. Now I get to be stressed about my stress causing me dementia!

I guess, this is even more motivation to stick to my 2012 resolutions, so that I can live a good life now, and for as long as I can, and maybe keep my gorgeous brain functioning to the best of its abilities for as long as possible.

Travelling the long goodbye with a parent, again, not only makes me aware of my own biological clock ticking, but also acts as a reminder to live in the moment, for the moment is all we really have.

Resolution Monday, April style

 

Resolutions 2012:

I must change.

 

I must remove all the excess.

 

I must get rid of all the clutter.

 

I must eat healthier food.

 

I must exercise.

 

I must read more, for pleasure and professionally.

 

I must watch less TV.

 

I must be more active in my own life.

Where do I start on this list? The easy stuff – read more and less television – has progressed. I joined the bookclub at school and so I am being prompted to read things I would not choose for myself. Tick and tick.

Food? Well, the diverticulitis has sealed that one. I am so worn out with suffering with it that I am no longer tempted to roll the dice on anything that might even remotely cause an issue. However, thanks to Easter the chocolate scale has blown sky high. That will take its natural course as the supply runs out and I avoid all the chocolate now on sale! Half a tick.

Life has reminded me of a couple of things lately. The sudden death of a colleague, that the moment is more important than the grand plan, but do have a grand plan. Also, not to hesitate to do the good deed, to be open to change and not to forget to tell people that you love them. Or can tolerate them, at least!

My Mum’s sudden illness has also been a wake up call not to take her for granted and to think she will always be there for another visit, on another day. It is also a reminder that we; Mr FD, our siblings and I, are bordering on become the elders of the clan.  Scary stuff indeed and something I assume no one is every ready to accept. I am not sure that I am ready to be that grown up, but hey, I am going to be a great old lady.

Haven’t had much opportunity to work on the excess during school terms, but I have certainly not brought anything into the house that was not needed. I can’t remember the last time I purchased anything on a whim; except for a book or two, but even my book purchasing is down 90 per cent on what it was. Magazine subscriptions have not been renewed. Maybe a three quarter tick?

I feel that I have changed quite a bit this year, already. Who would have thought that perfection can be improved, but if anyone can do, I am your woman!

I have really pushed my boundaries professionally. I am now working towards becoming an IT coach to other teachers, assisting them with including more ICT in their lesson and unit plans. It terrifies me to think that others will be depending on my meagre IT skills to expand their own, but I am committed to upskilling and so the journey has begun. I find it incredibly empowering, and rewarding as well.  Big tick!

My colleague taught me to realise that the only thing I control is myself, and that was a real ah ha moment (late Oprahism warning, sorry!). I use that knowledge numerous times each day and now I realise how much anxiety and stress I was creating for myself by trying to control that which I never had a hope of controlling.

I slip up frequently though when it comes to Mr FD, who still, after all these years, refuses to be controlled. Why he doesn’t learn I don’t know, but now I have developed a coping mechanism – when he refuse to heel, I look out the nearest window and go “lalalalala” in my head. I spend lots of time staring out of windows and lalalalaing  to the extent that when we are in the car, I feel like one of those dogs who love to hang their heads out the window and feel the wind in their ears, but hey it works. And of course I always hold out hope that eventually Mr FD will learn to do as he is told. He obviously has never made a resolution to change…  A tick for me, a “try to do better” for Mr FD.

Let’s not talk about exercise. Well, if we must, I have to admit that the only thing being exercised is my sense of guilt that I have not motivated myself to do anything more than to move from one end of the couch to the other. But I did move. I even fluffed the pillows with gusto. I worked up quite a sweat slapping that foam rubber about, so I am well on my way to increasing my exercise routine. Next week I might even contemplate moving to another room!

How is 2012 working for you? (Once again, pretend that I care).

Monday resolutions

The week just passed was one of those weeks when I felt that I did not present my best self to the world. I also saw some rather disappointing sides to some of my colleagues.  Yet other surprised me with their generous and selfless natures. Such is the human condition, I suppose.

I was also forced to spend two days in bed, felled yet again by diverticulitis. It annoyed to lose two days, which meant I scrambled through the end of the week trying to catch up, but never quite achieving everything.

Friday, new staff were sent to an induction day. It was part religion, part history, part enculturation. As one who has schooled through the system I was sure I would be bored out of my brain, but I was honestly surprised by how much I did enjoy the day. I  think that due to my interest in history, hearing  about the Australia origins of the independent education system was intensively interesting to me. Luckily the religious side was not too heavy; as no doubt they were aware that not all teachers were of the same belief system.

Another interesting facet was to hear the stories of how so many of us came to teaching. Quite a few were late converts, such as myself. Some had been nurses and now teachers; others had worked in business for years before going back to university. A number were returning to the workforce after babies, and of course there were some new hires from the government school system. It just goes to show that teachers come from many and varied life experiences. We were all convinced that life experience made us better teachers.

This week, I am facing numerous meetings before and after school. I am getting a ‘flu needle on Monday (arranged by the school, but paid for by the individual). I am so happy to be able to get an early vaccination as last year Mr FD and I both went down with that horrible ‘flu that almost killed both of us (and contributed to his father’s death) so I shall be dashing like a gisele to get to the head of the line.

I don’t know where this all leads me on a list of resolutions. I am certainly most active in my own life. I am still working to declutter our house (working on our walk in pantry at the moment – found packages with use by dates of 2010 and some jars of spices even older!). I think I am living a more uncluttered life style also. Being busy helps as it makes me prioritise and it means I don’t like to suffer fools, especially if that fool is me (yes, I know how impossible is that!)

My cholesterol is elevated again, no doubt due to my bad habits, so back to paying attention to what I put in my mouth. Easier said than done! By the time I sort out all the foods that someone with diverticulitis should avoid (tomatoes and seeds of all kinds, and hard grains etc.) and then low fat foods, it leaves a fairly limited menu;  one can but try! How tedious it all is though!

Three more weeks and first school term is over. How fast it is all flying by. The happiest term I have ever experienced. Long may it continue!

Resolution Monday

Where am I in the adherence to my New Year Resolutions, now that we are two months in? Win some, some not out of the gate, yet.

must change – Oh my, have I felt myself change! The bonus of a new workplace, and a job that is a challenge that I enjoy has wrought many changes within me. Some I can’t even put a name to, or explain, except to say that I feel more open, more willing to stretch outside of my comfort zone, and more accepting that despite my constant denial, I do have a few imperfections.

This week there was a quote on my desk calendar that said “imperfection is our paradise” (sorry I threw away the page so no author credit; shedding clutter is also a resolution!). I am quite certain I wouldn’t claim imperfection as paradise; in fact it reminds me of the wisdom imparted to a friend by her minister when she was going through a divorce: “We are put on earth to suffer.” I don’t think so.

So, no claim to be in paradise, but I am happier to say: I don’t know, but I will find out; I don’t understand, tell me again and of course, I don’t know how to do that, will you show me? The result of such an admission has allowed me to stretch into new areas that just weeks ago I would never have considered.

All I can say is what a difference two months can make!

And we’re off…

In 2012,

I must change.

I must remove all the excess. 

I must get rid of all the clutter.

I must eat healthier food.

I must exercise.

I must read more, for pleasure and professionally.

I must watch less TV.

I must be more active in my own life.  

I read through my resolution list, yet again, and I know that it is no use making a list, if I don’t also match it with an effort to plan my way to success. As I remind my students, failing to plan is planning to fail! The New Year brings with it fresh hopes and a mark of enthusiasm and if I don’t harness it quickly, it will disappear the way of so many other good intentions.

So, how am I actually going to achieve these lofty resolutions? Walk the talk, Flamingo Dancer!

I have seventeen days of vacation less and by then I want the house and garden not only under control, but organized and serene so that I can concentrate on my new job. Let’s see how I go…

I have already embraced resolution one. I have acknowledged that I need to change in 2012. Perfect the perfection!

I feel that resolutions two and three: to remove excess and to get rid of clutter can be worked on together. Excess for me, is not just the giving away the one of two, or the many, many books that I have gathered, read and have resisted giving away, until now, but also excess in food,  and in indulgence. This in turn spins into eating healthier, exercising more and couch sitting less, less television and more activity, but I am racing ahead of myself.

Not one prone to patience I embarked on this course of resolution before the New Year arrived.   Mr FD and I have been working on our garden for the last few days. We have about a dozen large palm trees of various varieties in our back garden, which are really lovely as they provide shade, privacy and are popular with the birds, but they do drop their big dead fronds all too regularly. I have been pulling them out of the garden and stacking them in an area of the garden for what feels like years, and so this week Mr. FD and I are cleaning the dead fronds from the garden and mulching the green matter, that is then put back onto our garden as garden mulch. Nothing is going to waste, nothing is leaving our property it is either going straight back onto our garden, or into the compost bins to break down further. Mr Boy will be informed how he loaned us his mulcher when he returns from Europe! I am calling it payment for worm feeding!

Inside, I have been working on my office area. Since I have been a teacher I have gathered so much paper, filled numerous folders and files with resources that it has crept all over the house. It had even oozed into Daughter2’s bedroom (well, she did move out, what can she expect!).

The first place I started was in fact D2’s room and found many of the “important” papers and resources that I had so studiously gathered during the year I went back to university to study teaching – 2009! Disgraceful to say the least, but more sadly, most of it was really quite unnecessary now, and probably then as well! I emptied folders and easily filled the recycling bin from just that room. Daughter was impressed when she came home for Christmas and could actually not only see her window seat, but sit on it if she wished!

Strange how cleaning one area always seems to make a mess somewhere else! Cleaning D2’s room meant that empty folders and papers to be refiled, or found a new home flowed into the adjoining room, where my desk and another office desk sit facing each other. The room looks as though a tornado has been through, and that is what calls me today.

So, day one of 2012 shall be spent gardening and paying pack the earth for all the trees that died to fill my many teaching folders, as well as tacking more of the paper mountain. I collect far less now as I endeavour to have electronic copies of everything, and as schools move to one to one with laptops to students, the need for photocopies of worksheets and information becomes less, so that will be a win for the environment and for my house!

I anticipate going to bed with a deep sense of self satisfaction at day’s end!