Author: danieller77

Glorifying being busy

Glorifying being busy

Why does it always seem like there is a competition of who is the busiest, who has the most stress and who works the longest hours?

When I decided my intention word of 2023 would be Balance, I made the call to try and find more balance in my life this year. To try to push back on the busy culture, find better work life balance, time for me, quality time with the kids, and not fill every moment. However I feel like this has meant I am noticing more than ever how we glorify being busy. As much as I try I still fall in the trap. When asked how my day is going the automatic answer is something like “good but busy/crazy/hectic”. It is like I feel saying it is a good day is not enough. Do we worry that we are seen as lazy if we are not busy and stressed?

When asking someone how their weekend is it seems they have a need to have a long list of activities they have done. I noticed my youngest who is 11 is constantly asking where we are going next as he feels a need to fill each day with activities like he thinks his friends do.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have the balance right yet. I work full time, am a single mum with two kids. Some days are long and full and I limp across the line at the end glad when it is bedtime. Other days I manage downtime, meditation, baking or catching up with friends. Each day for the last month I have found time for a walk to centre myself while listening to a podcast or talking to my youngest if he joins me.

What worries me is that I have friends who are always busy, their life is always a drama and they never have time to catch up. When their life actually goes through a rough patch, as all our lives inevitably do at some stage, will other people notice? If you always answer that life is crazy, you have no time, work too hard and can’t take a breath or minute to yourself, what happens when it actually occurs. When you are really in that state is it a case of boy who cries wolf and no one notices? Do your friends stop asking because they know how you will answer?

With three weeks left of March I am going to try and pause when people ask how my day is going and not automatically answer with busy. More importantly, I am going to try and make sure that I don’t have to answer busy because I am starting to get closer to the Balance I desire. With my kids quickly growing up why do I want to look back and realise I missed the moments because I was too busy. Where is the glory in that?

Book review: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Book review: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits is the second book I have read in my list of 20 books I want to read this year. I actually finished this book one month ago and moved onto my next book, but forget to write the review.

I bought this book for a few reasons. Firstly it has sold over three million copies and is consistently in top book lists. Secondly it touches on my interest of human behaviour. Thirdly, we all have some habits we would like to work on, but they are habits for a reason and not easy to change.

The premise of this book is to make lots of small changes which are called atomic habits. Like compound interest in a bank account James Clear applies the same theory to habits. Building on a mall changes can have a life changing impact. This resonates with me for the same reason that I set intentions rather than resolutions. Trying to change, or create, a habit is hard and sets you up for failure and disappointment if you have a bad day.

This book talk through how to create a good habit, or break a bad habit using the four stages of habit which are cue, craving, response and reward. The book works through each of these stages providing background information, practical examples and methods and tips for each.

I found, as I read through the book, that I started to think where each applies to me and the areas I need to work on. I did however, find that this book was not always the easiest read given that I read in bed before going to sleep. There is a lot of information and references. Now that I have finished the book I want to go back and read the sections that I am most interested in and work through how I can apply them.

The table at the end of each stage is a cheat sheet that is built up as you finish reading each section and this is very handy as an overview. There are also great resources on James Clear’s website and you can sign up for emails that walk you through the process.

In general I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to start small to Implement habits that can make big changes. As the back of the book says “doing two push ups a day, waking up five minutes earlier, or reading just one more page”

As for me, I need to go back and review sections but I have applied some of the principles to make small changes to my bedtime routine. These will hopefully compound into better sleep and more energy.

If I knew then…

If I knew then…

If I knew then what I know now, would I still be in the same career?

Don’t get me wrong I like my job. Like every job there are good and bad days but in general I like what I do. And as a manager I love my team who are supportive of me and their fellow team members.

However the other day I caught myself thinking about what would have happened if all those years ago I understood my passions and what parts of work I enjoy the most. Would I have gone in a different direction?

When I was young I always wanted to be a primary school teacher. Maybe that was because I saw women doing it every day. I don’t really remember there being any male teachers at my primary school but it was a long time ago.

As I moved into high school I got more creative. I had always been a dancer but I added every form of arts and graphics I could into my school schedule in my later secondary school years.

So when I finished school I naturally thought about what I could do to continue these interests, especially graphic design. As you needed science, which I had dropped as soon as I could, to go into architecture I started to lean towards advertising. Incredibly competitive and difficult to get into I went and studied business/advertising.

Life rarely goes as planned and after I finished studying I needed a job, which was very hard to find with my qualification. So I took a job that was close to home, interested me a bit, and allowed me to use a few of my skills. That job led to another job starting at my current employer.

There I showed a keen interest and passion in Training and development so a role was created. Fast forward many years and many roles and I am still working in the Learning space at that company. Isn’t it funny how I started wanting to work in teaching with young kids at the start of their journey and ended up working in Learning at the other end of the cycle with adults in the workplace.

Over the last few years I have spent a lot of time working on my mental health and well-being, self awareness and understanding my triggers and strategies. Through this I developed a passion for these topics and read books and articles, listen to podcasts and discuss with other people. Through reflection I realise the parts of my job I love the most are when I am connecting or helping others. In my team we are often discussing work life balance, mental health and burnout. Problem solving with them to come up with solutions to their work issues, or developing and mentoring people in the organisation are things I look forward to and plan to increase over the next few years. I have been known to “geek out” when I discover new solutions to trial to help my team or our customers.

In my home life, I am a single mum to two boys – one tween and one teen. That brings a whole new level of understanding and skills in this area, especially as one of them grapples with mental health issues.

When I reflect on where life has taken me so far over my 25 years of working I love that I have ended up in a place where I have the opportunity to support and develop other people. However if I knew then what I know now about my passion for mental health and well-being, and my quest to understand human behaviour and emotions would I have taken a different path?

Book review: Queen Menopause by Alison Daddo

Book review: Queen Menopause by Alison Daddo

When writing my intentions for this year I have focused on six key statements. When I reflect on them, two areas have a component that I can use my love of books for. They relate to making time for things I love and focussing on personal growth and development.

I have always been an avid reader but over the last few years, as life has been busy and I have been tired I have been reading less. Recently I have started reading every night before bed again which is a great bedtime routine. I have noticed though these days my preference is for non fiction rather than the crime and psychological thrillers I was always drawn to in the past.

I am compiling a list of 20 books I want to read this year. Some I have already bought and haven’t read yet and others I have heard about through podcasts, reviews or recommendations from friends. I have three empty spots left so if you have a great suggestion for a must read add to the comments.

We have hit the start of Feb and I have already completed two of the books (disclaimer that I started them in late December). As I work through the list I will add a review in my blog. Today i will just cover the first book and add another review later in the week.

Book review: Queen Menopause by Alison Daddo

The statement on the front cover attracted me to this book. “Find your majesty in the mayhem”.

I grew up with Alison Brahe (as she was then) on the cover of the magazines I read. She was naturally beautiful and seemed like someone every young girl wanted to be. Then she went and married one of the Daddo brothers and a family. It seemed like she had it all. I knew she was a bit older than me and when I heard she had written this book in a podcast interview I was keen to hear her experience of peri menopause.

This book was an easy read starting with a sad and unknown history of her adolescence and early adulthood, followed by an honest and amusing tale of her experiences as she has aged and moved through peri menopause. It was refreshing to see a book being honest about experience and not being afraid to discuss something that is often seen as taboo. How nice to hear that other women also snap at the smallest things when they are hormonal.

The stories added into the book from other Australian stars going though this stage of life made it all seem more relatable and there were some great tips throughout the book. I have now lent this one to a friend to read as this should not be a topic women are embarrassed to discuss.

This book definitely ticked my personal growth area in my intentions as due to my age I am only just approaching this phase of life and had not done as much reading on the topic as I would have liked.

Recommendation: great read for women approaching or going through peri menopause to remove some of the unknown elements and break some of the myths. Let’s try and make this topic a little less taboo.

School’s back

School’s back

My two sons are chalk and cheese.

The eldest is a teenager and is quiet, reserved and a homebody. He is quite happy to stay home, talk to his friends online and be left alone all day as long as there is food and internet available.

His younger brother is a tween and is loud, sporty and loves going out. He goes stir crazy if he is home too long – COVID Lockdown was a nightmare for him.

They love each other, have each other’s backs, often argue and disagree on many things. However this week they are both in agreement. They do not want to go back to school. In Australia students get about six weeks off over Christmas (my eldest got a little longer as he is in secondary school). The time is up and they go back to school next week. While children think it is too short I think most parents agree that six weeks is too long for a break from routine.

While the boys are in agreement they don’t want to go back their reasons are very different. The eldest has anxiety and the thought of a new year level and the unknown it brings is much harder than remaining in the comfort of his bedroom. The youngest doesn’t feel we have done enough over the holidays and we have now run out of days. The waterpark beckons and we haven’t managed to get there.

So the final day tomorrow will consist of a battle where one doesn’t want to leave the house for even a second and the other wants to be out for every second. I will be caught in the middle trying to keep the peace while I label everything and shop for food for school lunches.

Bring on next week when I can take a breath, have a cup of tea and enjoy the quiet….all the while knowing the next holidays are about ten weeks away.

Back to blogging

Back to blogging

It has been over a year since I posted on this blog.

When I reflect on why, I don’t have a definitive answer. The last few years have been crazy – Covid, lockdowns, home schooling, and basically learning a new way of life. However over the last year this has settled and life has become closer to normal.

I think that it is due to a combination of feeling too busy, spending time focusing on my mental health and self awareness, and thinking nothing interesting was happening in my life that was worth sharing.

Last week I sat down and wrote my intentions for the year. I never set resolutions as I think they set you up for failure. if I say I will exercise five times a week and don’t in the second week of the year what does that do to my motivation and mental state? I also never set my intentions in the first week as I feel I need time to settle after Christmas and New Years chaos to be able to go through the process.

Intentions are statements about how I want my year to go. This year I set six intentions as well as a word of the year which is Balance. I have never had a word of the year before but read about others who do it and loved the premise. Balance sums up how I want my year to go but will mean letting go of some of my perfectionist tendencies which will be hard.

Working through my intentions for the year I realised how much I get out of blogging. I enjoy writing and being creative but need something I can do in small amounts of time. It is good for mental health to share thoughts and ideas and not internalise everything (which I am working on getting better at). It allows me to process what is happening in my life, connect with others and hopefully put content out that is interesting to others.

So for those that follow my blog…I am back. And for those who have just discovered this blog….welcome and I hope you enjoy my content.

If you set intentions each year I’d love to hear your process or what you’ve discovered about yourself while doing it.

Pre Holiday stress

Pre Holiday stress

This week I have taken annual leave to spend some time with my boys for their second week of school holidays.

Over the last few years, I have vowed each time I have taken leave to be organised, on top of everything and ease into my leave feeling relaxed. My current role is busier than ever and while I am an organised person there is always the last minute rush when you realise everything you want to achieve. Add to that the mad panic of colleagues when they realise you are not contactable for a week and book meetings into every spare minute.

So each time I feel I limp across the finish line with everything done or delegated but with a stressed and tired body and mind.

Sometimes I wonder if the week off is worth it. Especially during times of lockdown when no visitors can come to the house and places to visit are limited.

However I was lucky enough to meet up with my parents who I hadn’t seen for over four months due to lockdowns. And the boys and I watched some movies, played some games and had lots of laughs. They protested my singing as I turned the music loud when doing housework, and praised my baking as they demolished scones and biscuits.

In all I will say it is worth the stress. When I log back on to work tomorrow and see the mess that is waiting for me I will take a deep breath, make a cup of tea and start plans for my Christmas leave and how I will avoid the pre holiday stress next time!

Mid life awakening

Mid life awakening

As I get closer to my mid forties (not quite there but close) I find that there are parts of my life that I am changing and other parts that I am questioning. I think this is quite natural for people in this age group.

My kids are still young but getting more and more independent and growing fast. I guess that gives me the headspace to start thinking about what my life currently is and what direction I want to move in.

As per previous posts, I have started to further align parts of my life to my values. I have also started reading books on topics of interest, especially around health, and now that my leg has improved I am getting back to walking and exercising.

All of this makes me question other parts of my life. What should I do for work? What will fulfil me and align to my values for another 20 years of working life (unless I win tattslotto). At the moment stability and flexibility are keeping me where I am in a time that is so uncertain.

So for now I am staying where I am and finding challenges and fulfilment in other areas of my life.

So I don’t believe I am going through a mid life crisis, I’m certainly not rushing out to buy a sports cart. Therefore I am calling it a mid life awakening where I am more aware of who I am and what is important to me. What is in my future? Watch this space.

Product review: Pleasant State glass cleaner

Product review: Pleasant State glass cleaner

About a month ago, I wrote about my desire to start moving my cleaning products to align more with my values as I had previously done with others things in my house. This included reusable containers, refillable product that comes in recyclable/compostable packaging, Australian businesses, and natural ingredients.

And after my search was complete I decided to try the range from Pleasant State. I ordered the kit and promised to provide a review.

Please note this is an independent review and I did not receive product or payment for this review (just letting you know as the following is a glowing review)

At this stage I have only tried the glass cleaner as, keeping with my aim to reduce waste, I am using up my current products first.

However I am singing the praises of this glass cleaner and I cannot wait to try the multi purpose and the bathroom cleaner.

Firstly can I say the smell is amazing. The mandarin and lemon myrtle essential oils (yes I checked before writing to make sure I got this right) leave a fresh and natural fragrance that is not overpowering. When I dropped the bar in the water to let it dissolve I did keep going back to smell it.

However I was slightly sceptical about how well it would clean given it doesn’t have the ingredients I have used in the past. The mirrors in my bathroom were a breeze and were clean and streak free with very little effort.

The showers screens however are very old as I am waiting for my bathrooms renovations to start (delays from continual lockdowns in Melbourne is a whole separate blog post). To my surprise not only did it clean well but they are the cleanest they have been in the 4 years I have lived in this house. Clean with no streaks or smears. And after having a shower the next morning they still looked clean. I don’t know how they do it but I am sold. Hoping the other two products are just as amazing.

Oh and on a final note – in the last blog I mentioned the only box they didn’t tick for me that other companies did was a hand soap. Since that post they have advised their customers that they are trialling a hand soap. It is like they heard me and I will be one of the first to try when it is available.

Going green

Going green

After spending the last year and a half going back to basics, as per a previous post, it is time to push myself a bit more. What do I want to do for work, how will I challenge myself, what are the things that are important to me and fit with my values, and how do I want my household to look and run?

To start the thinking process I am writing an ongoing list of what I like doing (now and in the past), what skills I have, and what interests me. This is helping me to channel what I like and am good at, what I want to learn or improve at, and what is really important to my values. And there are definitely some common themes. If it is something you have never done I recommend it as it really gets you thinking.

One thing that is important to me is animal welfare. I have been vegetarian for 26 years, buy cruelty free, have rescue dogs etc.

As I get older , and especially since I’ve had kids, how we look after the planet and being sustainable is also really important. I also like to support Australian made and owned where I can. I cut down waste as much as I can (as a side note my neighbour puts more in my rubbish bin than me as it is never full). We did have a worm farm, although they unfortunately didn’t survive the hot Australian summer so we need to find a better location.

Quite a while ago I swapped my skincare routine all to Sukin which is an Australian company that make beautiful, natural skincare. And at my hairdressers recommendation I use Eleven Australia hair products.

However there is a gap between my cleaning products and my values. This may come from a time a while ago when money was extremely tight and I was watching every dollar, or maybe because I was time poor and took the easy way out. However financially I am in a better position now, and time is not a good enough excuse.

So I started researching and there are so many new companies out the doing great things in this area.

  • Reusable packaging from glass, aluminium or recycled plastic.
  • Refills that come in compostable packaging (note to self – must bring back the worm farm) or in packaging you send back to be refilled.
  • Natural cleaning ingredients and fragrances
  • Programs implemented to ensure they are carbon neutral and helping the environment through planting trees or cleaning up oceans

It made me so happy but it was so overwhelming, and hard to know where to start. So I narrowed it down to those that provided all of my key criteria – reusable initial containers, refillable product that comes in recyclable/compostable packaging, Australian business, natural ingredients and still cost effective. This got me to two companies. One was having a great one day sale on slightly imperfect containers as they didn’t want to waste them and that got me over the line.

Pleasant State seems to tick all the boxes for me apart from one – they do not have a hand soap. However like many of these companies they are relatively new so that could change down the track. And there are other companies I can buy that from anyway. I am starting with the starter pack and will review once I have used the products.

I feel good that I am starting to make more changes. I will use up the products I have here first of course as I am trying not to be wasteful. Over the rest of the year I want to start introducing more eco friendly products into my house. Let me know if you have any great recommendations from products you have tried.