Monthly Archives: September 2011

Happy-Making: Parties and Long Weekends

Happy Friday, friends!

I just wanted to thank you for the positive feedback I’ve gotten after posting My Story on Wednesday. I was incredibly nervous hitting “Publish” but think it’s a very important thing that I’m open and honest about where I’m coming from and why we’re setting about changing and simplifying our life. Thanks for listening!

I’m checking out early because Sparky’s home, we’ve got a big party to get ready for tomorrow, plus it’s a long weekend. Wins all-round!! I hope yours is epically fun, whatever it brings.

xxx

 

Repurposing: Humble Glass Jar to Hanging Lantern

Glass Jar Lantern

I save glass jars like a mad woman. I use them to store cleaning supplies, craft bits and pieces, nuts and seeds in the pantry. I use them as vases, pencil holders and catch-alls.

Sparky is having his 30th birthday party this weekend, and I’ve been looking for cheap, green, easy, fun ways to decorate the house, deck and garden. Enter: glass jars as hanging lanterns.

It really couldn’t be any easier.

You’ll need:

galvanised steel wire – approx 0.5-1mm diameter. I bought mine at Bunnings – $5 for 75metres.

glass jars of any shape/size

needle nose pliers (try to get the ones with a built in wire cutter – it saves you from changing tools constantly).

candles

Blu-Tac

Glass Jar Lantern

1. Cut a length of wire approx one armslength long.

2. Place the neck of the jar in the (approximate) centre of the length of wire and wrap around the neck 3-4 times. Be sure to keep it firmly wound and the wire sitting in the neck groove of the jar.

3. Bring the two lengths of wire together on one side of the jar, cross them over each other and twist back in the opposite direction. This basically creates two small loops on the side of the jar which are needed to secure the handle.

4. Wrap the two lengths of wire around to the opposite side of the jar and twist a few times to secure. Again, make sure to keep the wire wound tightly.

5. Use both lengths of wire to form a handle over the top of the jar. Secure by threading the remaining lengths of wire through the loops we created in step 3.

6. Twist the wire together and bend back up towards the top of the handle. Take one length and wrap it around the base of the handle and the other wire length a number of times (as above). Snip the excess wire and press any sharp edges in, using your pliers.

7. Pop a candle in, securing with Blu-Tac, light and enjoy.

8. Hang in a group or solo, from a tree, a patio or a deck post.

Glass Jar Lantern

I think I made that sound much more complicated than it actually is! It truly is simple and super cheap to do. Just try it yourself – you’ll likely come up with a much better technique than mine!

These going to be great for decorating the deck on the weekend but I’m already thinking of the possibilities as we’re coming in to prime entertaining season:

  • citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes at bay
  • take them camping for a bit of added ambience
  • a lovely homemade gift for a housewarming, or for the hostess with the mostest.

 

Added Inspiration: Re-Nest did a great round-up earlier in the year on ten ways you can re-use mason jars.

My Story.

Time to ‘fess up and reveal my true agenda here…

 

My Story.

Growing up, I was always a highly-strung perfectionist. I was paralysed by the fear of what others thought of me and could work myself into such a state of anxiety and panic that I would get physically sick. I had stomach ulcers at 15 and most of my teen years were spent just being angry and sad. On the face of it, everything was fine, but internally it was a struggle – a big one. And that’s all I knew. I figured that’s how everyone felt at some time.

Then I met Sparky, fell in love, studied, travelled, explored, settled down. I felt more sure of myself, slightly less concerned of others’ opinions, but still angry. I had a really short fuse. I could be incredibly hurtful.

 

2008.

We bought a house in the inner suburbs, got married, enjoyed all that newlywed life brought. I started a business, built it from the ground up.

Life was good.

One night, Sparky was assaulted by a group of young guys on his way home from the pub. I will never forget that night and the state of him as we rode in the ambulance to hospital. They stole his wedding ring, beat him to a pulp, took his keys, phone, wallet and money. Said they’d kill him because they knew where we lived. Spent the night prank-calling his parents, saying the most hideous things.

A month or so after, we discovered I was pregnant. Shocked and incredibly happy, we shared the news with our families.

Not long after, I was approached and indecently assaulted by a man as I was walking to work. I was 100 metres from home. We reported it to police, sat through interviews and line-ups and eventually positively identified the man. I knew who he was from day one though – I had to walk past his house every day to get to work.

Sparky and I no longer felt safe or happy living where we were, so we sold up and moved to a tiny house in the Blue Mountains – close to both our families. We were happier and felt at home immediately.

 

2009.

Fast-forward: 2009 sees us welcome a beautiful new baby, a huge business opportunity and 12 months of self-imposed torture. I was doing nothing well and was awful to live with. I was angry again, tired, sad, stressed and numb. I loved Isla so much, but there was a blockage there and I didn’t know how to shift it. I didn’t know if I could. Maybe this was motherhood?

I closed myself off from the world, immersed myself in work and mothering. I didn’t see friends, didn’t return phonecalls, never attended mother’s group and hated drop-in visitors. The more isolated I became, the unhappier I was, so the more I wanted to shut out the world.

 

2010.

We discover we’re expecting another bub. Obviously our tiny cottage wouldn’t cut it for much longer, so we decided to extend and renovate. I project manage. I run the business. I also look after Isla full-time.

I have a vivid memory of driving to mum and dad’s house in tears, and just collapsing when I arrived. I had nothing left. Striving for whatever imaginary ideal I had in mind had left me completely and utterly depleted. I closed my business the next day and had my first decent sleep in over a year.

Renovations go smoothly, if stressfully, and I go into labour the day we’re moving back in.

Toby arrives, healthy and beautiful and I feel at peace. For a while.

 

2011.

Early in the year things get dark for me. I am sadder and angrier and stranger than I’ve ever been. Thank God, I turned to Sparky in despair. Within 24 hours we’re in to see our GP, a week and I’m seeing the best counsellor and psychiatrist. All agree that I have post-natal depression. I’m on medication within 2 weeks and starting to feel more like me than I have in years.

Fast-forward: Intensive work with both my psychologist and psychiatrist, and I cannot tell you how alive and vibrant and well I feel. We have concluded that anxiety and depression have been part of my life for many years, and the insane events of the past three years have simply brought them to the fore.

 

Now.

I am clear-headed, in blissful love with our two kids, a partner to Sparky once more, and I feel like I have something to offer. Because I’m clear-headed I can listen to the voice inside that tells me,

 

“Slow. Down. You know what’s important.”

 

So I need to slow down. I need to simplify. I need to re-evaluate our priorities. I need to have less and be more.

I need to look at our home and all it entails – family, relationships, health, house, garden, kitchen – and slow it all down. Leave space for life to happen.

 

Now it’s my hope that some of the things I’ve learned already will help you in your journey to living a slower, simpler life. And the journey I take from here on out will be one I can share with you.

 

(And I promise, it will be lighter reading material from this point on.) xx

 

Want to Slow Down? Here’s How.

Slow Down

Life is busy. There are always a hundred different things pulling you in a hundred different directions. Some days you just want everything to stop so you can catch your breath.

I’ve been going through some pretty intensive counselling this year (more on that another time) and have learnt a great deal about slowing my mind, being present and finding contentment. But the one tool I use every single day, and I would recommend to everyone I know, is so simple, yet so incredibly helpful. You ready? This should take about 2 minutes.

When you’re feeling stressed or anxious or stretched or pinched or overwhelmed or at a complete loss, try this:

 

Take a deep breath. And think of your five senses.

Touch: what can you feel at this very moment?

Taste: what can you taste right now?

Sound: what can you hear?

Smell: can you smell anything?

Sight: what do you see in front of you?

Be specific, really explore your senses. Slowly take stock of each of them.

Touch: I can feel the carpet beneath my feet. The seat under my butt. My shirt on my shoulders. My fingers are cold.

Taste: I can taste Milk Arrowroot biscuit and chamomile tea.

Sound: I can hear both of my littles stirring in bed, the rain outside and the tap of my keyboard.

Smell: I can smell… Nothing much really. Dust?

Sight: I can see my computer monitor, a glass of water, a cup of pencils, the shadow from the blinds on the windowsill.

The act of immersing yourself in your immediate surroundings, of actively thinking about each of those things, means you’re taken out of your own head for a moment. That pressing issue, that rising anxiety, that thing that’s stressing you out – it’s gone. At least for those moments.

And once you’re back, dealing with life, you will always feel lighter, brighter and calmer. (I should know – I use this technique at least three times a day!)

 

It’s a simple thing to do, you can do it anywhere, and over time, it will teach you to be more present and pay attention to what is currently happening, rather than getting caught up in the complexities of what-ifs, whens and whys.

 

 

Why a Broken iPhone is a Good Thing.

{via Clifford Joseph Kozak on Flickr}

Saturday morning, 6am, I wake up and grab my iPhone from my bedside table, planning to check my emails, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and my favourite blogs – like I do every morning. (The time may change – as anyone with little ones will tell you, “routine” is a fluid concept – but it is something I do every morning.)

Click…

Nothing. Busted. Black. Broken screen.

Without my phone I was all at sea, but it made me realise a few things:

  • I check my phone – alot.
  • The world won’t stop if I take a break for a few days.
  • Checking my phone first thing in the morning stops me from getting my day started.

 

So, while I will replace my iPhone (seriously – once I went iPhone I was never going back!) I’m going to be much more mindful of how I use it.

Instead of leaving my phone on my bedside table overnight, I’ll leave it in the kitchen.

Instead of checking my email/blogs/analytics/Twitter immediately, I’ll get my day started first. That means getting dressed, bed made, blinds open, face washed, simple stretches, coffee on – or at least a few of those things!

Instead of keeping it in my pocket all day, I’ll leave it on the hallway table. This will cut down on how often I check it, because guaranteed, “quickly checking my emails” leads to checking Twitter, reading a new post on one of my favourite blogs, leaving a comment and browsing Sydney Morning Herald website. Bye-bye 10 minutes. And, seriously, my time is more important than that.

Bottom line: slowing down and simplifying means not being beholden to things. Not giving importance to stuff. Even if that stuff is really awesome and genuinely helpful.

How about you? Do you suffer iPhone addiction too? Does it bother you?