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

I love my job, in case you haven’t noticed yet. 2012 has been such a turn around from 2011, and not a day goes by that I don’t remind myself how fortunate I am, and to send another wish into the cosmos that the bubble doesn’t burst any time soon; or preferably ever.

When I took the decision to go back to university and become a teacher in late 2008, so late in 2008 that it was Boxing Day 2008, just days away from the close of applications for a January 16th start, I had no idea what would happen. I just knew that it was my last chance to change careers. Time was ticking away and the window of opportunity doesn’t stay open for long after a person hits the age of fifty.

So, how does that fit with my 2012 resolutions? Well, for one it shows that being active in my own life really works, and though actions don’t always bear fruit in the beginning, if you just keep working at it, often if only to take two steps forward and one and a quarter back, just to keep that goal in sight and eventually there will be some pay off.

Every day, now, I get to go to a workplace I have grown to like in a very short time, to a role that I absolutely adore. Not that I wouldn’t give it up in an instant if someone offered me the possibility to retire in comfort, but that is not an option, and in the meantime I am in a worker’s paradise!

My fear is that one morning I will wake up and find that the carnival has moved on without me.

The last couple of years has shown me that things can go sour very, very quickly, and without reason. Sanity does take a holiday from time to time. As a result fear and anxiety sneak in the back door when I am not looking, despite my efforts, and I need to let go of fearful thoughts that cripple and just trust my instincts and go for it. So, that is an aspect of  “change”, my first resolution for 2012, that still needs work.

Fear only binds us to old ways, and bad habits. Letting go of fear, trusting myself  and my abilities to be enough is an end goal, and I have worked on it really hard this past week. Now, when those negative thoughts come oozing through the cracks, I just acknowledge them, decide what is within my control and what isn’t and then let them go. If it is out of my control, why waste precious energy on it? That is what I have learnt this year and worked on this week.

Strangely, it actually gifted me a sense of empowerment, for now, instead of wasting time and energy on hopeless endeavours trying to control everything, I can concentrate my efforts on the things in my life I can control, and the redirected time and energy go into the realm of influence I do have, and I am more at peace with my tasks, and so much more productive and creative.

In fact, I heartily recommend the method: can I control this? No, then let it go. Yes, then what am I going to do about it? It really is as easy at that. Just ask yourself the question – what can I control?

Monday resolutions round-up

When I started to think about writing this post my main chain of thought was that I had little to report as I felt that many of my resolutions had been shelved during the week as work crowded in. Second thoughts however showed that while some things stood still, there was some progress in other areas.

I do continue to change, and I am proud of that. I am trying to be more honest with myself, and not to fall back into old habits that defeat me. I have continued to work on blocking negative thoughts, and to take responsibility for my actions, be they good and bad!  I have learnt a couple big lessons in that area this week.

Excess I am getting a good grip on. I have stopped buying for a start. Truthfully, hunting and gathering just doesn’t interest me anymore. Thanks to a snazzy phone deal I gained a free ipad this week, so I see ebooks on my horizon. In future, I think my addiction to mindfulness and cognitive behaviour texts will be in electronic form. I am not making claims as to leisure reading as yet, but my plan is to only buy books I really want to keep in hardcover. The one issue I have with electronic form is that an ebook will only stay available as long as some company deems to keep it available. There may not be second hand copies around as in days of hard print.

Clutter, well that it a constant battle. In my office I clear the decks before I leave every day, so that I am not faced by yesterday’s detritus in the morning. It is a very positive way for me to start my day. Home side, well I have been trying to deal with the mail as it comes in, but Mr FD is not cooperating as much as I have “asked”. He may have to go the way of the clutter if he doesn’t wise up soon.

Can I just fluff over food and exercise? Not going well with food, and exercise consists of parking in the car park on the far side of the campus. Sugar has slipped back in. Jam on my breakfast toast is my guilty pleasure. I bought a Turkish delight chocolate one evening because I was tired and sooky. One night I ordered pizza, and it was an effort just to rise from my chair to walk to the door to take the pizza from the delivery man (we aren’t quite on first name basis yet, but we do natter about our days now). All I can do is start again, right? Something is better than nothing!

Yes, I am reading more. Professionally I have no choice, but then again I am enjoying my work so much that I have an insatiable hunger to learn and grow. Now that I am helping with the Yr 7 project I need to get up to speed fast (first meeting this week),  but I also have to maintain my reading in literacy and information management. Reading for pleasure is not a lot, but some is taking place. If I have to choose between reading and sleep, I am slumbering in a moment!

I am so tired by day’s end! It is go all day, and I rarely have more than a fifteen minute break at lunch, just enough time to gobble down a wrap (usually chicken or salmon and salad). One night I was showered and in bed by 7.30pm! I do get up at 5.15, so it is a full on day. The time just flies, though sometimes my energy slumps early afternoon just after I have food. My body wants to curl into a ball and digest, but I have been making myself hit the library floor to shelve books for a few minutes. It breaks the energy low and helps me to get to know the collection and what is popular and what isn’t. A mundane task is good for thinking too, and often the time I have my more creative ideas.

Television. Television is still often a background to other things. The news channel might be on as I work on my laptop, but  more often now I switch it off and just have music as my background.

I think the big area is that I am more active in my own life. Like I have a choice with my job! I am trying to achieve calmness and to be organised, and not to allow anxiety to rob me of confidence. Each night I am doing a thirty minute lying down guided meditation with a John Kabat-Zinn cd.

I took a mindfulness short course about 4 years ago, and I have from time to time used the techniques, but I find it hard to concentrate without a guide, so I am really pleased that I have found a cd that suits me. Some voices just irritate me so much I can’t relax at all!

Already I feel the positive energy and calm that meditation is helping me to cultivate. I also look forward to my nightly sessions all day, so that has to be a good thing. During the day I also remind myself to stop and just concentrate on my breathing for a couple seconds to calm myself down when I start to get too busy, in mind or body.  So some good progress in the area. Yay!

So, though I thought I had not progressed with my resolutions, taking time to reflect and to journal my efforts, big and small, has shown me that I have in fact made more progress than I thought. Good work, FD!

The goddess just keeps getting better and better. No wonder you love me!

[Humbleness might be on the resolution list for 2024. I have my adoring public to consider]

Monday resolutions

The past week came and went by so quickly that despite having a public holiday one day, I was exhausted by the weekend, and my to do list had grown in length. My happiness and sense of engagement continues to grow also.

The students have embraced the library with glee, but not to read sadly. Most breaks we have almost standing room only, but very, very few are interested in the books, or reading. The literacy level of our students is not high, which is to be expected as our school caters to the lower socio economic levels (we are a private school, but our fees are the lowest in the area). Also, we have a sizeable indigenous and immigrant population, who have English as their second language.

So, the main brief I have is to increase those literacy levels. I am working on a [insert college name] Reads! program, starting with a blitz on boys reading. I am using Guys Read! as my starting point and so late last week I started ordering in more suitable books. Lots more non-fiction, which boys prefer, and graphic novels which the less literate find easier; as well as books of short stories so that they feel a sense of achievement when they complete a story.

This coming week I am taking several year eight classes for library skills. I am starting from a very basic level, going right back to parts of a book. I find that most students don’t know how to use the contents or index sections of a book, and these areas are a great help for forming keyword searches online. So, I am starting there and then of course onto online searching and resources.

At night I am finding it difficult to fall asleep, as my mind is racing with lists and ideas. And anxious thoughts: am I good enough? will I interest them in reading?

Thursday night I got less than 4 hours of sleep. This is not good, as my days are busy and I need to be alert and energetic; not flagging by lunch time. As my front office wall is floor to ceiling glass I can’t curl up under my desk for a power nap either!

I have reflected on this over the weekend and I have come to realise that I am already falling into old patterns. My habit is to strive for perfection, but not only perfection, but to also complete projects faster than anticipated and to a higher level.  Oh, I get results all right, but my levels of anxiety and apprehension go through the roof. as well. This impacts on my health as I suffer from high blood pressure. My body is telling me it doesn’t like what I am doing to it!

My old patterns are bad patterns. I need to change.

Serendipity being what it is, it came into play over the weekend, and I came across the quote: I will hold myself to a state of grace rather than perfection.

Those words will mean different things to different readers, but to me, it means perfection is self defeating. Instead,  I shall strive to achieve to do honour, or credit to myself and also to bring honour and credit to my school.

It means I will try my best, know I have tried my best, and be confident that by doing so, I will be enough.  As such, I will hold myself to a state of grace, rather than to perfection, for perfectionism is self defeating

How many perfectionists have found that no matter how hard they try that bar just seems to get further and further away?

Because we keep moving our own bar!

I am not going to defeat myself anymore. I will no longer put my health at risk, and drown myself in anxiety and stress, which achieves absolutely nothing. I will strive to let go of old patterns of behaviour and thought, and I will try to create new patters that enhance my health and my life.

The first thing I am choosing to do, is to interrupt those negative anxious thoughts. I am trying to learn to interrupt the voices in my head, to say to myself “is that really true?” and to breath deep and let the thought flow away. Right now I am probably only successful about fifty percent of the time, but I am trying my best. That’s enough isn’t it, my best? Always.

Another door opened.

Monday resolutions

The first week of work for the year raced by in a haze of heat, induction, finding my way, first aid classes, pedagogy and professional development, but it was stimulating and empowering. Almost worth leaving holidays behind!

Naturally, things on the home front came to a screeching halt, as by the end of the day my mind is mush, and I am so tired I fall asleep watching the evening news. I have to say though that the uncluttering has been an absolute positive and some stress was definitely lessened because life was more organised and streamlined. Yeah for that resolution! I have made some effort though to maintain things. Paper comes in the door, it is dealt with and despatched immediately. I now deal with things as soon as possible rather than on the tomorrow plan. As they say, tomorrow never comes!

The food thing is not so good. The school has provided a number of lunches, all healthy food (though not near enough of it for the numbers!) but much of it not quite what someone with severe diverticulitis should eat, such as seeds and grain breads, so I tried the best I could and hope I don’t suffer in a day or two.

The real problem is that despite best intentions I have been so tired by the end of my day that I have stopped to buy take out. Bad Flamingo Dancer.  Mr FD is not a cook, his talents lie more in the eating!

Sunday I went to the supermarket for groceries and planned for ingredients that would allow me to make meals ahead of time. Once home, and though exhausted from putting the groceries away, I marched on and cooked three meals that can be eaten over the new few days. They either need popping in the oven to reheat, or just a little last minute prep such as boiling pasta. We should be covered until Thursday, which is a public holiday (Australia Day) and so I can think about Friday then. Friday is a good night for left overs as Son has dinner with a friend that night and it is just Mr FD and I at home usually. Or it can be take out night then, as we will have been perfect all week. Way to go, Flamingo Dancer!

Exercise, well that has taken the form of being on my feet all day, moving things around the new library and parking in the car park furthermost from the library (and carting bags of books and resources from my car to my office!) Not good, but better than I was achieving believe me.

The resolution that has taken me most by surprise was to be more active in my life. I have been very conscious of applying this in the small moments, such as when speaking with someone. Now. where once I may have continued note taking, or making lists when I was speaking with someone, always multi tasking, I stop, put the pen down and give my full attention on the person. Sure I slip into my evil ways, but I come back to the moment and  remind myself to pay attention and I do try.

The surprise has been that those small moments of awareness are not only helping me to build stronger relationships, but in some almost magical way they are making me calmer and I am enjoying my own life more. It is a realisation that has stunned me. To think that just being mindful and slowing down the moments can enrich my own life so quickly and immensely has been not only surprising, but a reward I did not fully anticipate when I made my resolutions.

So 2012 continues to bring me unexpected gifts, but in a way they are gifts that I am giving myself, for it was my decision to change, to choose the resolutions I have and to make an effort to follow through, that has brought me the gifts. I have enriched my own life, and in such a short time. All I can say is how very, very glad I am that I did so and didn’t wait for another tomorrow!