Sarah Short Circuit

Heal, Nourish, Nurture

Tag: Slow Home (page 1 of 2)

Camp

Take me back to last weekend, the long weekend, the first weekend in a very long while our little family got to escape the city and go bush! As we were packing on autopilot and as we relaxed into a simpler rhythm of camping I reflected how things have changed for the better…

  • Camp meal planning no longer involves packet rice and packet pasta but a whole heap more vegetables and knowing your butcher
  • The night before camp now includes meal prep like this amazing roasted spicy capscium dip

Happy hour around the camp fire

  • Husband did the last minute camp shopping and was horrified when he reached for the some of the foods we used to pack only to turn it over to read the gazillion numbers and non-food ingredients. Safe to say they went back on the shelf.
  • Husband was so proud when he got home from shopping with the water pack being fluoride and additive free. Next time we will double the water as we all drink it in greater quantities than last camp trip.

Fresh water

  • Making quick green smoothies for breakfast on the go rather than drive through Maccas (I use banana instead of mango)
  • Pit stops for a toilet break at Maccas confuses Master 4 ‘Isn’t this yucky food?’
  • Snacks for the road trip are no longer bags of lollies but a box of bliss balls and some mixed nuts & seeds.
  • Energy for the long road trip is fuelled by the car diffuser wafting Energy and Vitality
  • I had massively over-catered as we no longer eat many snacks and our meal sizes are smaller as they are so much more nutrient-dense
  • Setting up the campsite Master 4 remarked ‘Where is the TV?’. We were only one of two groups camping on the unpowered sites, everyone else was connected to power either camping or in caravans.
  • I discovered not 1 but 4 packs of pain-killer tablets in our camping gear, I used to have a pack or two everywhere I went. Now I rarely need them and if I do get a headache or tummy ache I reach for my peppermint oil.
  • Everyone is happy with bacon and eggs for breakfast everyday
  • I found a jar of Vegemite and a pack of gravox in our camp cooler bag and husband and I both laughed as we no longer eat these! In the bin they went!!
  • Sharing amenities with other people is an assault on the senses with the toxic personal care products people use. Waiting for shower with a row of teenage girls washing I felt myself holding my breath.
  • Preparing much of our food at home cut down on the waste we threw away, with only a shopping bag of rubbish over the long weekend and a few plastic items to recycle (any cardboard got incinerated on the campfire!)
  • Master 4 got some nasty insect bites on his hand that turned into welts and I was able to soothe the sting with lavender oil. One night I tucked him into his sleeping bag and zipped up the tent to then hear a wail of ‘Mum, I NEED my lavender!’
  • How convenient we have set our lives to be and how little we move our bodies. Walking to the amenities or the camp kitchen or the kids activities multiple times a day you certainly feel exhausted at the end of the day. Go-karting takes the exhaustion to a whole new level!
  • Being outside all day and all night exposed to the sunlight and moonlight as well as the fluctuations in temperature is a great way to reset your circadian rhythms and recharge your mitochondria. I made a conscious effort not to wear my sunglasses all weekend!
  • Total disconnect from social media and reconnecting with family was the ultimate recharge I needed
  • The realisation how light saturated we have become when you go bush and gaze up into the clear night sky to see a spectacular sight of stars.

Starry, starry night!

Already planning the next camping trip…Do you have any tips for camping while keeping in tune with a healthy lifestyle?

 

Cracked

Finally cracked it! 40kgs weight release!! I’ve been on a long plateau of almost 40 for months. So proud of myself for how I’ve come in the past 2 and half years. Remember it’s not all about the numbers; it’s about the quality of life you live and the state of your health. The numbers on the scale are not are reflection of who you truly are.

However, I did not set a goal to lose 40kgs. I didn’t even set a goal to lose 10 kgs. Goals have never sat right with me, I always feel like I am setting myself up to fail. For me goals are overwhelming. Instead, I started to ask deep questions of myself, what was I doing? What can I do better? I kept going with what felt right, finding things that I love, taking responsibility for my health.

Living a values based life is the crux of it – Brooke McAlary

I felt I needed to slow down. There is no one size fits all ideal of the slow life and I loved listening to this conversation Caring more and caring less. Slow living defines life based on what we don’t want it to look like. Standards trying to live up to, are they really that important? Are they really what we should be chasing? Slow living is about where our mindset is, taking time to answer your own questions, figure out what you want and forming your life from there.

Overcoming that urge to measure your life by any standard, and accepting what is and being mindful of that. – Erin Loechnar

Who says I should live life a certain way? I became more aware of the life I had been living before becoming a mum, trying to live up to societal expectations. I became aware of the life I was creating now with my family, defining my own expectations.

A big key in living a slower life is understanding and accepting that it is what is, you do what you can, you make the changes, you shift, you clarify and live according to your values. – Brooke McAlary

I began to let go of control, let go of trying to keep everything in order, let go of perfection, let go of the shoulds. I started to realign with my values.

We can try to shift every aspect to live the ideal balanced perfect life but still things happen, you have to loosen the reigns and let go and decide you can be with or be defined by the pace of my life or can define what I want from this instead and not let circumstances define who I am and how I react – Erin Loechnar

I started to figure out what is important for me. Stop worrying about things weren’t important and focused on things that were. I started to live according to what was important for me.

I care less and we care more, its the shift in what matters and what doesn’t – Erin Loechnar

This shift in awareness, this shift to a slow life has not been all rainbows and unicorns. There have been tears, fits of anger and frustration. Two steps forward, one step back. Listening to If not crying you are not trying, frustrations come with having a go no matter what you are doing made me realise that my tears are not a sign of failure. “Crying is a sign that going somewhere never been before, you are breaking through stuff, that you are actually trying”.

What I have been through, what I have experienced, and the adversity I have faced has led me to be the person I am today tears and all. “You set out to make a goal, to achieve goal yet when faced with adversity you ask why is it happening to me? Why because you ask for it, because can’t get stronger or smarter without it so how you did you expect to achieve your goal.”

Once you decide consciously to make a decision and accept or not accept certain things into your life, you can control that by putting intention to it and making it a part of who are – Lauren Heys

I may not have consciously made a goal to lose weight but I made a decision that things needed to change in my life. “Attaching meaning to something, you will learn it more.  Space of adversity, when you go through your adversity, cause you will, that adversity is giving you an opportunity, don’t miss this opportunity because you are too busy being a victim,  its something you need to face because facing that and coming out the other side will give you the level up that you need to be the person that you are trying to be. Even single time you look back at your adversity you have gone through in your life you are thankful for it happening. Adversity you go places you have never been before, you realise you are physically emotionally strong enough and to make it better. Pain is to move forward and use as reference point, you so much stronger than you believe you are. Most people are not aware of what they are capable of achieving until they are put into a situation. Not everyone will do it, but at that moment at that level of adversity it became possible.” – Dave Nixon

My pain led me to discover what is truly important to me. Letting go of control means I am in control of who I am. I have a choice.

What am I going to stand for that’s important to me and that my values and morals really dig deep and that are important to me? – Dave Nixon

So how did I get here? I went through adversity. I became a mum, I experienced postpartum psychosis. I had the opportunity to read the Changing Habits Changing Lives book by Cyndi O’Meara of Changing Habits and began to follow the Up For A Chat podcast. No protocols or programs, no quick fixes. Taking the time, slowing down. Self-Awareness. Deciding my impact. Releasing 40kgs, not losing 40kgs for I will not be finding this weight again.  For me it was cracking myself open, changing my habits, just eat real food, daily self care rituals as well as moving towards a slow, simple way of life with a low tox approach. I have a story to tell…

Sometimes the adversity you are going through isn’t for you, sometimes the adversity you are going is to help someone through their adversity in years to come,  all you need to do is tell the story, you just have to get through it “- Dave Nixon

You are on a different road… I don’t care!!

April No-Fool

It’s that time of the month, that time of the year where we feel like we are haemorrhaging money. It’s a joke, particularly has it always occurs on 1 April. April Fools! I am not laughing. Strata, Internet, swimming lessons, shopping day and to top it off the car service: all in the one day. However, unlike last year where things were tight, too tight, this time it is manageable. Now who is laughing?

So how did we go from $0.05 to manageable?

  • Track spending

Though I was monitoring our bank accounts daily I struggled to keep track of exactly how much I could spend. I had a budget and I knew what amounts corresponded to which category however working out how much I had left that I can spend versus what needed to stay untouched was a challenge. I had listened to Michelle House on a few podcasts of Carrens Couch and knew that she was a budgeting expert. After reading her blog on how to track your spending I downloaded ‘PocketBook’ app and have not looked back. This app has been a fantastic tool with its safety spend feature and bill tracker. It gives you notifications of when you have upcoming bills, warning when you are getting close to reaching your safety spend and summaries each week of how much you have spent and it is more/less than the previous week. It is great how I have an app that adds up ALL my spending and I can’t hide or overlook anything! The best thing is that this app is free, simple to use and syncs to your bank account so manual entering.

  • Christmas Un-hangover

Working through the 52 week money challenge in the last 6 months of 2015 was certainly a challenge as the amount increased each week. Sticking through the money burn rewarded us with a credit card free Christmas with all our spending, including hosting Christmas at our place, paid by our Gifts savings account. It was a fantastic feeling in January to not have to worry about a Christmas spending hangover. This year we are putting aside a regular amount of money each week into our Gifts savings account. The bonus is that we have money put aside for gifts throughout the year for birthdays and other special occasions as well as Christmas which makes for a stress-free gift giving experience.

  • Credit card paid off

A side effect of tracking our spending was working out extra repayments to put towards the credit card. With the goal of paying off the card before the annual card fee kicked in in March, we paid off every little bit of spare cash we had. As the balance came down I reduced the card limit as a way to stop any chance of temptation or budget blow out. We made out final repayment on 26 February 2016, just in the nick of time!

  • Debt repayment

While we still have some other debt hanging over our heads, moving towards a simple lifestyle and a slow home has given us the opportunity to reduce our spending and consumption. I make the majority of our food from scratch, I buy food and supplies in bulk where possible, I make home-made cleaners, I am working towards becoming self-reliant.  I have also found a great way to track how much I have paid off our debt thanks to @beingdebtfree_1dollaratatime on Instagram (4 Jan 2016) . Draw up a table with 3 columns, column 1 is date, column 2 is percentages i.e. 5%, 10% etc and column 3 is the corresponding percentage amount of your total debt. The bottom row is starting debt (I flipped it around so starting debt is a the top). We are at 5% and this is not including paying off the credit card, onwards and upwards from here!

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Buying from bulk from Honest to Goodness

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Bargain buys from the supermarket

  • Emergency fund

While paying off the credit card we were able to have $1000 put aside in our emergency savings account. I follow a few Aussie people on Instagram who work towards Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps and this motivated me to get stuck into step 1 and 2. This week the tyres on the car needed to be replaced so we dipped into this account where in the past we would have used the credit card. It was a huge relief knowing that we had the money for such a big and unexpected expense. Our goal is to save up 3 months for joint expenses after we smash our debt repayments.

Do you use apps to track your spending or are you a pen and paper kind of person? Are you working towards paying off debt? Share what is working (or not) for you.

 

Mrs Wishy Washy

Since first reading Down to Earth by Rhonda Hetzel I have wanted to give it a go in making my own laundry liquid. I thought it would be hard, time-consuming and fiddly. How wrong I was!

I made my first batch just before Christmas and this has lasted just under 3 months including many washes for night time toilet training. No longer washing day or night cloth nappies gave me a great opportunity to start to make my own laundry liquid. For laundry powder and liquids suitable for cloth nappies look here.

Laundry Liquid

Laundry Liquid Step by Step

There are only 3 ingredients to homemade laundry liquid, 4 if you count the water. Soap, washing soda, and borax. The recipe I started off with was Rhonda’s blog Down to Earth Have you tried homemade laundry liquid, and Homemade laundry liquid revisited. However I was not keen on the borax, as I think ant poison straight away and I am unclear of the environmental impact. Rhonda’s blog posts have some great comments and tips at the bottom from many of Rhonda’s readers.

The recipe I choose to use was Melissa from Frugal and Thriving, a borax free recipe. This week I made my second batch.

My product cost:

  • 7.95 soap
  • 3.99 washing soda 1kg
  • Half an hour of my time

Cost of Ingredients:

  • 7.95 1 bar of soap
  • 1.00 1 cup of washing soda

Total for 10 Litres = $8.95, that’s less than a $1 a litre!

Many of the recipes I found on how to make laundry liquid or powder recommended using any old soap, or sunlight soap, or lux flakes for ease of use. Soap ain’t soap!

  • Lux flakes Ingredients: Soap, Perfume.
  • Sunlight Soap: Sodium Tallowate, Water, Sodium Cocoate, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Fragrance, Etidronic Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, CI 11680, CI 16255, Potassium Hydroxide.

Sure this may be the cheap, standard option but I want my laundry liquid to be safe to use with no nasties like fragrance, perfume or EDTA. I refer to my Twenty8 Additive card when I am out shopping to check what ingredients to avoid in my personal care products. You can also refer to Chemical Maze or Skin Deep to look up the ingredients and check for yourself what is safe for you and your family.

I went looking for soap and I choose Dr Bronners Pure Castile Unscented bar soap; safe ingredients but compromising on palm oil, sorry orang-utans.

I choose the unscented soap so that I can add my own essential oils and know the quality of the essential oils that are being used with my laundry. I choose what is safe for me and safe for the environment, nothing synthetic or adulterated. I add 3-5 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil to each load as a stain remover as well as its high anti-bacterial, anti-viral and antiseptic properties. Every few loads I will add 3-5 drops of Tea Tree essential oil to a load for its anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties.

Tips

  • Use a pot just for soap making – just to be safe. I share my soap pot with my mum.
  • Best made when children are not around.
  • Washing soda can be found in most supermarkets, look on the top or bottom shelves.
  • Have enough containers handy to store more than 10L of liquid as you need space in container to shake before use.
  • The liquid is more like gel and will separate, it is still good to use.
  • Have a scoop to store with your liquid. I choose to re-purpose my plastic 1/3 measuring cup dedicated to laundry. (I have stainless steel measuring cups for cooking).
  • Have a smaller working container for everyday use and decant as needed out of the larger containers. I use a large 10L ice cream tub from my local cafe.
  • Any of the first aid oils would be a great choice to add to your laundry liquid and will give a beautiful and fresh aroma to you clothes and linen.

If you are more a powder than a liquid person, check out Stuart’s recipe.

If you are not keen on making your own laundry liquid, Jo from Down to Earth Mum has some great tips on how to choose the best laundry liquid or powder. My favourite store-bought eco-friendly laundry liquid is Kin Kin Naturals. Some other great laundry options can be found here and here.

Mrs Wishy Washy was a popular children’s book from my 1990s school days which I can still picture in my mind when I do the washing! Have you tried making your own laundry liquid?

In Praise of Slowness

“Rescuing the next generation from the cult of speed means reinventing our whole philosophy of childhood”.

“In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed” by Carl Honoré. A compelling read that I can relate to in so many ways. How we are controlled by time and a fast paced society. From the slow food movement, meditation, health care, parenting, leisure time, work and schooling, slowing down can be positively beneficial.

“Perhaps the greatest challenge of the Slow movement will be to fix our neurotic relationship with time itself”.

Brooke at Slow your Home has interviewed Carl on her podcast The Slow Home Carl Honoré Talks Technology, Good Slow and Getting to Know Your Butcher – SHP009 . Its well worth the listen.

Here is Carl’s TED talk: In Praise of Slowness.

Digital Sabbatical

Yesterday, a Monday, I went to work to attend a work retreat day. Mondays are not my usual work day so I was out of my rhythm, particularly as I am still trying to find my groove again after being on holidays for 2 weeks. By the time I got on the train to work I reached into my bag to send hubby a text only to realise, shock horror, my phone was left at home.

However, I was not in a tizz about not having my phone connected to me for a day. I coped the whole day without worrying about if anyone had tried to call me (mum was the only missed call, nothing urgent), not having the urge to fill a spare moment by checking social media or even taking a photo to remember the moment (the view of the city from the work retreat was spectacular!). The my family coped without knowing the exact moment I was on my way home and didn’t even noticed that I had not sent a text to say I was ok.

I was not always this calm without being connected into technology. The difference was that I had just returned from my holiday which I had made into a 2 week digital sabbatical. I recently had listened to The Slow Home podcast with William Powers and not long before that had seen Brooke from Slow Your Home take a digital sabbatical in July for her family holiday. This had inspired me to disconnect and fully immerse myself to take time out for me and my family.

Do you feel the urge to constantly check your phone? Are you constantly glued to a screen? Do you feel anxious when you are not connected to technology? Just before my holiday I listened to a great conversation on One Minute Mindfulness Show about Digital Twitch. As a family we have the no technology at the dinner table with phones away and TV off, no phones to be gazed at whilst speaking with each other, no phone checking in the bedroom, and overall have slowed down our use of technology that is distracting us from living life. We are modelling to our son a better way to be mindful with technology.

We have had moments where we as parents have not been the best example, particularly when I was working heaps on the computer back in July and August on a couple of education courses. I got the reality check I needed when I was at the Twenty8 HLE graduation in Mooloolaba, watching my son wizz around Underwater World Aquarium pretending to use each of the display signs as a computer, typing away. When asked to stop and look at the fish around him my son remarked ‘I’m busy’. From this I made a conscious effort to be more mindful of how I was using technology around my son.

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Underwater World, Mooloolaba

In preparation for my digital sabbatical I turned off all Facebook notifications on my phone and removed the short cuts to social media from my home screen. I have heard some people even go the length of deleting the app entirely off their phone; I didn’t go this far. The first day of my holiday I picked up my phone out of habit, remembered my promise to myself and consequently put the phone back in my hand bag. The phone suddenly had no purpose in my present moment. I spent the next 2 weeks hardly touching my phone. There were a couple of moments when I was on the in presence of a group on my retreat where the conversation turned to everyone checking their phones. While everyone’s heads were down I was enjoying sitting on the pool deck soaking in the morning sunshine on my back.

Being on holidays and being fully disconnected was bliss. I was enjoying the company of others with much laughter and conversation with new friends at the retreat. I was taking photos for me, not with a view to share them with the world on social media. Even husband found himself checking social media hardly ever. Our second week we stayed high up in the Byron hinterland which was an enforced disconnection as there was extremely limited mobile coverage, no WI-FI and patchy TV reception. I thoroughly enjoyed the simple pleasures of spending time with my family, reading a book and many a time gazing out over the valley enjoying the ever changing vista that surrounded us.

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Vista from Toolond Plantation

Since our holiday I have chosen not to turn the notifications back on Facebook or to return social media back to my home screen. I have dramatically reduced my FOMO (fear of missing out) on social media. I have added a message on my lock screen “Be mindful”, which catches me when I find myself picking up my phone in a spare moment.

Have you thought about how connected you are to technology? Would you give a digital sabbatical a go?

 

 

What’s on my plate? July to September 2015

We started to get carried away taking photos of most of meals to the point where my son started to remark before dinner ‘Stop, wait…click’ as he pretended to take a photo of his meal. This was an aha moment for me to slow down and enjoy the company of my family at the dining table rather than attempt to share the moment with the world.

As we slowed down here is a taste of what we have been enjoying the past few months.

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Cooking dinner and a quiche for tomorrow’s lunch

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Changing Habits Slow Cooked Tomato Lamb Shanks

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Museli made up in bulk

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5kg Springhaven Meadows Queensland bananas delivered from Farm House Direct

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Banana Smoothies with added goodness of Changing Habits Supreme Green Blend, Probiotics and Colloidal Minerals.

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Changing Habits Creamy Cashew, Cauliflower and Chickpea Soup

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Our take on Pete Evan’s Raw Slaw

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Home made mustard

Poached salmon

Poached salmon

meat loaf

Pete Evan’s meatloaf with purple carrots and mixed of dutch cream and midnight potato mash

Hummus

Sprouted hummus

Pumpkin bread

Changing Habits Pumpkin Bread

Recipe Changing Habits Pumpkin Emmer Wheat Bread

 

Changing Habits Supreme Green Blend

Morning Ritual

My daily morning ritual is to wake up, open the blinds to let in the sunshine and open windows to let in fresh air. Turn off the bedroom diffuser from the night before as I use my diffuser on intermittent all through the night, generally with Instant Calm. I make the beds and spritz it with a few bursts of lavender to make the bed feel fresh (credit to Happy Mama with Amy for this wonderful idea).

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My bedroom diffuser

I walk into the living area and the first thing I always do is turn on my salt lamp diffuser and add my essential oil of the day for the home, generally Celebrate and Uplift. I prepare for the morning, fix breakfast, and tackle one big chore like hanging out the washing, washing up or a quick tidy up of a room putting things back to their homes.

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Energy in a bottle!

I have my shower followed by my body boost choosing a blend like Energy & Vitality if it is one of the days I work or go to the gym or Focus and Clarity on the days I go to work.

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Focus for the work day ahead

Husband can always tell if I having a flat day if the blinds are still closed and I am still in my PJs when he gets home from work. The simple act of opening the blinds, making the bed and having a shower all help to invigorate me to tackle the day, and these acts are made all the more powerful with the incorporation of Twenty8 essential oils into small and simple rituals.

What rituals help you to start your day?

 

Missing in Action

Wow, the past few months have flown past and things have been pretty quiet here on the blog, but I can assure you it has been far from quiet for me. So much has been happening. Here is a snippet of the whirlwind:

May – The MINDD Forum and Day with Cyndi were action packed. As a family we enjoyed the Vivid Light Festival in town.

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Vivid at Customs House, Sydney

June – From the MINDD forum I was in a spin with some new found direction on healing my body, finding a new piece of the puzzle to work on. I found a couple of Integrative doctors and started working on improving my health in a new way. My mind was racing with the new knowledge and how it has impacted on my life, even since high school. What kept me grounded was my focus on Twenty8 HLE and my fortnightly webinars with my Sparklers.

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Double rainbow in June

July – End of July was a very eventful time with the graduation of Twenty8 HLE Program in Mooloolaba Queensland, I commenced the July Intake of Changing Habits Online Education Course plus I also commenced a TAFE course. I have a love of learning, a passion to expand myself and a tendency to keep myself busy. 

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With Kim Morrison at the Twenty8 HLE Graduation Dinner

August – I began to realise that I had a bit too much on my plate and the stress, anxiety and sleepless nights began to creep back into my life. Not good timing considering it was also the time of my son’s birthday and the time of year where I reflect on the journey I have been on with postpartum psychosis and bringing up a lot of emotions for me.

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My son’s birthday cake (sans lollies)

In the craziness of August I won tickets to the Wellness Summit in Melbourne! Wow, this was definitely an experience not to pass on, so my husband and I had a quick weekend away in Melbourne. It was amazing to be surrounded by almost 700 people who are wanting to be the change in their wellbeing.

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A multitude of speakers at the Wellness Summit, Melbourne

To top off August I did my first market stall at my local gym!

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My display of Twenty8 essential oils and skincare at Fitness First Sylvania

September – A hard slog of long nights and strung out days completing the TAFE course; I am so grateful it was only a 9 week course. TAFE consumed all my spare time meaning little time to share my story with you.

Well September is almost at an end and it is time for me to slow down a bit. My mind has been racing a lot trying to work out my health issues, wanting to do so much as a new graduate of Twenty8 HLE, as well as juggling the family, the household and work. My head hurts just looking at what I have been up to lately. So you may be wondering, how did I cope? How did I manage to take on all these bits and pieces?

To be honest I have struggled a lot in the past few months trying to keep it all together. I overstretched and overwhelmed myself attempting to do too many things all at once.  When I overstretch some things suffer; when I am overwhelmed I suffer. Unfortunately these tend to be things that are most important to me like my wellbeing and my relationships with those close to me. Thankfully the universe is looking out for me and has sent in supports to give me strength and keep me moving forward, with friends contacting me just when I need it most (Thanks Christin, Henry, Maria and Stuart!).

There have been two crucial things that have kept me from falling apart recently; self-care and simplicity.

Self-care – my daily rituals of self-care have been my anchor on days when things seem tough. My rituals have been my way of checking in with myself and showing myself some compassion, that I am doing enough, I am enough and I have enough. Twenty8 Peace and Meditation has been my go to a lot lately in my daily rituals as way to calm the chatter in my mind and ground me to the present moment.

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Peace and Meditation

Simplicity – I have simplified and slowed down my life in the past 3 years, resulting a simple rhythm I follow day to day. I have de-cluttered over time, reducing the amount of possessions I have to care for and clean. Each day I have one chore to achieve like Monday is the day I wash the towels, and if that is all I get done for the day, that’s ok. I have slowed down our schedule, not over committing ourselves on the weekends, which allows us opportunities to go with the flow like go on a bush walk to ground ourselves again and disconnect from the world. 

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Recent bushwalk to Karloo Pools

Have you had a lot on lately too? What way some of the ways you cope when you are overstretched and overwhelmed?

 

Changing Habits

Money Tree

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but in tight times I so wish it did. Times are tight financially for my family at present with last Friday being the tightest we have been with $0.05 remaining the joint account (until the following Tuesday!). The fridge was bare, we were down to our last reheat meal and we were due to visit the farmers market on Saturday to restock on fresh produce and meat. How were we going to manage to live for the next fortnight?

Not having money is a huge stress for me and having a mere 5 cents in our joint account made me pause and reflect on our situation. Finances have been exceptionally tight for the past 3 years after I was made redundant at work when I was 30 weeks pregnant. This was a huge challenge for us during the most exciting time of bringing our first child into the world and was further compounded when I developed Postpartum Psychosis. Like the average Australian we carried a credit card debt and we tended to spend more than we earned. We are living pay check to pay check, and at times I am checking the account balances daily to monitor the ever occurring whirlwinds of money comes in and money goes out.

I reassessed our financial predicament:

  • Pay yourself first

In working out a budget system that works for my family I came across Melissa at Frugal and Thriving. I love her concept of paying yourself first. Each week I allocate money aside for different expenses and whatever is left (usually not much) is what we have to spend. The beauty of paying yourself first is that you set up automatic payments so it’s money you can’t see and therefore can’t spend on everyday expenses. Each week we allocate money for things like upcoming bill expenses (transferred into a savings account), health insurance, transport and savings for my son for future expenses.

Last week I had paid our selves first, then had some unexpected but necessary expenses and therefore was left with nothing left to spend for the rest of the week.

  • Earning tips

My husband works in an industry where he earns tips. Tips have given us the space to breath during these tight times. The luxury of getting take away or a meal out. Or buying a lush bottle of wine (or two). Or simply adding some extra cash to our coin jar to stretch the budget. Recently I was reading Cait’s story at Blonde on a Budget, and I got an aha moment. You should not be reliant on tips to pay your fixed expenses. We are not reliant on these tips, particularly as we never know when and how much tips will be.  Something to work on though is to put some tips towards our debt repayments.

Last week husband was paid tips and it went towards fixed expenses rather than stretching the budget.

  • Debt Repayment

I got the shock of my life a while back when I looked at the credit card statement; if we were paying the minimum repayments each month it would take up 112 years to pay it off. While we always paid more than the minimums anyway, this hustled me in banning the use of the credit card. I worked through No Spend January and Frugal February with the help of the group from Slow your Home, even got through most of March even with large car expenses. However by April the wheels fell off with a budget blow out and the use of the credit card crept back into our lives.  Melissa at Frugal and Thriving has some great tips on debt busting and  I have used many different ways of paying off debt by choosing what works best for me. Whilst paying off debt we are also building up a small savings at the same time. I can’t get on top of the credit card debt if I continue to keep swiping it any chance I get.

I declared July a no spend credit card month.

  • Christmas crunch

Each year Christmas rolls around and the credit card gets a work out. By January we suffer with the credit card hangover. Each year we kept saying we should save up for next year’s Christmas but never do. This year I decided to do things differently. I came across this brilliant 52 week money challenge from Jan at A Gluttonous Wife and thought it was something I would challenge myself with in the lead up to this year’s Christmas.

Starting with $1 in Week 1, each week I add a dollar more than the previous week, so Week 2 is $2, Week 3 is $3 and so forth.  The first 6 months have sailed by without any challenge and have allowed me the extra cash to put towards debt repayments. Week 30 is $30 and will only continue to increase, plus I still am working on paying off debt. I am hanging in there as the $1300 incentive by Christmas will be a nice present to myself of a stress free Christmas period.

Now I am in July, 30 weeks into the challenge, I am starting to feel the burn.

  • Cash versus (debit) card

Part of paying ourselves first is allocating how much we can spend on groceries each week. I find I am better able to track expenses when we use our debit card, particularly as we have a joint account and we both do the shopping at different times during the week. The exception to using our debit card is each week I withdraw a set amount of cash to spend at the farmers markets. Having cash only to spend at the markets makes us take note of what we are spending and what our priorities are.

While there was only $0.05 in our joint account, we had $100 cash for the farmers market.

So we changed our plan of attack. Instead of going to the farmers market with a supermarket top up we opted for the local fruit store and Aldi for our entire shop. I had to slacken my priority of health buying organic, or spray free fruit and vegetables where possible for everything conventional. I chose price over packaging and selected vegetables that were pre-wrapped in the foam trays and plastic wrap or bundles together in plastic mesh bags, trying not to think about Plastic Free July. I was still supporting small local business by shopping at the local fruit store plus I was able to pick up some great bargains though in the reduced section. To stretch the grocery budget further we bought our meat from Aldi rather than the local butchers, but was still able to get grass-fed meat or free-range chicken which are on my list of priorities for health. I was proud of myself of putting food on our plate for less this fortnight. Husband and I did a huge cook up on Saturday night to start us off with a bang for our buck!

2015-07-18 002 Cook Up

Our cook up

Do you live week to week? Have you got debt to repay? What are some of the tricks and tips you do to manage your finances?

 

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