Relationships 

What most of my text conversations with the Boyf look like:


So I make him hide chocolate around the apartment. What of it. 

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27 by 27

The day I have been reminding the boyf about every five minutes for the last week is here – my 26th birthday! Each year I think I will become less fuss-obsessed but the reality is, I just love birthdays. All birthdays – family, friends, and of course, mine 😉 I love celebrations and a chance to recognise how much someone means to me. I love buying (or making!) thoughtful gifts and writing cards. And I love cake. Duh.

A big part of that birthday fuss love fest is the chance to take stock of where I’m at across the core pillars of personal relationships, professional life, financial life and wellness generally. These categories wax and wane each year, but the key theme is that they are pillars to which I reflect on how far I’ve come and to which I can tie new goals.

I have loved my 25th year. It has felt like a whirlwind, but in the best way. I settled into my baby city apartment. I settled into my first official law firm job, and was admitted to the legal practice. I did my first Ironman 70.3. I went to Trinidad and Tobago for an amazing wedding. I opened my first business in the form of a little etsy store! And created a local fitness program for young lawyers. I found ways to say no to things that didn’t fit into my values. I built up some really powerful female friendships and feel inspired and empowered everyday when I spend time with those women. I did my first set of push-ups on my toes. I competed as a national semifinalist in a mooting competition.I’ve stuck to a budget (well, mostly). I made my first commissioned crochet blanket! I’ve begun to distill that which I love about life.

The boyf and I hiked and bonded and found a really great life rhythm together. We struggled through visa woes and job-related sucker punches. We each said goodbye to a grandparent. We supported each other through new starts and complicated times. We started working out together. We began to seriously plan for the future while recognising our future is forever warping and that our hearts are forever spread across two continents. 

And there really is so little more I could ask for. But at my core I am a goal-setter. It is my most favourite of all my hobbies and one of the habits that defines me. As I begin my 26th year, I have set 27 goals to hit (or progress!) before I turn 27. Generally I set hundreds of goals, and life helps me drill down to those that matter most – so it may be that reality gets in the way of some of these. But that’s okay. They reflect my values as I stand here now, freshly 26 and freshly embarking on part 2 of my twenties. 

1. Open an index fund.

2. Open a second facet of my business.

3. Publish another article.

4. Apply to masters at Georgetown.

5. Do a pull up.

6. Finish an ironman 70.3 in 6.5 hours.

7. Maintain this blog and continue to grow my readership.

8. Participate in one handmade market.

9. Make one amigurumi toy.

10. Read 10 books.

11. Go hiking in the Stirling Ranges.

12. Plug in to the Perth female small business community.

13. Write 15 pen pal letters.

14. Learn brush lettering.

15. Volunteer at one big local event.

16. Participate in a national mooting competition.

17. Watch one documentary on a completely unfamiliar topic.

18. Do a handstand.

19. Build a stronger relationship with my family.

20. Save $30,000.

21. Reduce belongings by 25%.

22. Finish project life scrapbooks for 2015 and 2016.

23. Settle as a litigator.

24. Find a flow around our home.

25. Develop my meditation practice.

26. Find peace with food.

27. Embody the spark joy mentality.

There is one secret goal life event for this year I haven’t included – mainly because it is one I have no control over. But I’m positively buzzing for this year of life! Thank you for sharing in it. Now – time for cake.

The Magic of Meditation

Patience is most definitely not one of my virtues. I’m a go big and go hard right now kind of person. I also find myself regularly plagued with worry at night – starting with something small, like whether I filed something, and snowballing in to what on earth I’m going to do with my entire life and will I ever find true joy in my career and family and…

You get it. Anyway these thoughts are very much not conducive to a good night’s sleep. I go through cycles of sleeping through the night, then lying awake between 1.30-4.30 in a total flap, incapable of going back to sleep, and the frustration of that truth chasing me around in circles while the minutes rock freakishly closer to work wake-up call.

The irregular insomnia has plagued me for years and I’ve tried all sorts of things: magnesium tablets, getting out of bed and sitting in another room until I feel sleepy, reading, being on my phone (admittedly my default state), I begged a doctor for sleeping pills (no dice), doing some light stretches, lying with my eyes closed and slowly willing each body part from my toes to my head to sleep. Once I tried counting sheep which felt completely idiotic.

None worked and I resigned myself to being inconsistently a grump from no sleep. Friends of mine didn’t understand how I get through days at the firm after a night of tossing and turning, but the reality was I simply had to get on with it because I didn’t think I could change.

At a brunch a friend began telling me about how she’d commenced a meditation club at work. It was borne out of her new meditation practice, motivated by her brother who had been meditating to help calm him. She had found the practice so simple and beneficial that she wanted to share it. Upon hearing how I would sleep through maybe 2-4 nights of the week, she became evangelical about meditating before bed, and the headspace app particularly. 

As one always open to new apps and new crazy things, I gave it a shot. I had the app ready to go as I got into bed for the evening. Officially you’re supposed to sit somewhere quiet but I just listened while lying in bed, and followed the quiet instructions of Andy. I slept like a baby, a real deep sleep. And it worked over and over and over again. 

I’ve been on and off meditating before bed for a few months. While it isn’t a 100% success rate, it’s pretty close. I find my sleep to be infinitely more restful after using headspace than when I play around on Instagram before bed. I’ve had the free pack on repeat, and it is part of my habit building to make meditating before bed an effortless part of my routine.

There are so many apps out there for meditating, or you can just listen to music and find some peace. Whatever works for you. The benefits are undoubtedly great across many facets of life – for me, it has brought healing into my sleep, which I thought was beyond repair. For others it brings peace at work, or stronger focus. It’s life-changing. I couldn’t recommend it more. 

[Review] Retreat Yourself Winter Box

Despite being a four-day work week, it has been a looooong week. But it has been made significantly better by the arrival of the Retreat Yourself winter box!

This is my second Retreat Yourself Box – I reviewed the Autumn box back in March and was a huge fan then. I’ve used everything I received in the Autumn box, particularly the yoga non-slip socks, and the Koja superfood salad and breakfast toppers. In fact, I loved the Koja products so much I actually repurchased the Fig & Hazelnut breakfast topper, and am trialling the Chilli Coconut and Pecan salad topper. Typically I prefer to make up my own mixes and toppers, but these were so delicious I was more than happy to buy replacements. This product is definitely going to become a staple of my pantry.

Anyway – on to the winter box. To recap the Retreat Yourself box basics:

The Box: Retreat Yourself, a collection of 10 – 15 products sample and full-time health and wellness products, with a focus particularly on Australian organic brands, which definitely has my support.

Cost: $49.99 + $9.99 shipping for an ongoing subscription, or $59.99 + $9.99 shipping for a one-off purchase.

Delivery: Every 3 months (not often enough!)

Delivery time: it took 8 days from delivery notification to delivery to my workplace, which is consistent with most Australia Post deliveries.

Each box is themed by season, and this box definitely had a gentle winter vibe.

As with last time, the box comes packaged in a kraft brown box, and you open it to find the products wrapped in tissue paper and twine, just like a real gift to yourself.This box contains 12 products. There is once again a really fun variety of products – muffin mix and consumables, hair product, lip balm, a keep-cup, a colouring-in mandala with pencils… really hitting every aspect of health and well-being!

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Soooooo many heart eyes.

Set below are the products, with links to where you can buy them individually (where relevant) and the price if you were to buy it as a stand alone product (and where the box item isn’t full-size, the price is estimated based on the advertised full-price item adjusted to the value of the item for sale).

  1. Bake Mixes Cacao and Acai Muffin Mix $12.95
  2. Bambi and Sammi No. 1 Hair Masque $16.95
  3. Dollar Hippy Club ‘Knot a Care’ Hair Oil $26
  4. Forage Cereal Gluten Free Porridge (made in Melbourne!) $9
  5. Kokoluxe Organic Cacao Drinking Chocolate $15
  6. Prana Chai Masala Blend (also made in Melbourne!) $6 ($20 for 250g)
  7. Australian Superfood Co. Superfood Bar -Wattleseed Husk Cacao Bar $3.50
  8. Wotnot facial wipes $1.99
  9. Pure by Phytocare Papaya Vapour Balm $12.95
  10. Retreat Yourself Karma Kup (or Keep Cup) – listed as $19.95
  11. Mandala Colouring In by Stephanie Carver
  12. Four colouring pencils

Based on that review, the total value of this box is $124.29, which is comparable to the last box, and over double the $50 cost. Once I again I feel like I definitely got my money’s worth, while also getting the chance to try something new.

I will start by saying I was a little disappointed to not get the promised surprise gift for reviewing the Autumn box on the Retreat Yourself website. It isn’t entirely surprising, but then again, I’m kind of sad! The box did include a list of the products which set out the retail price, which was almost perfectly reflected in my review of the retail websites; I really appreciate that kind of transparency. And it included the cute day plan, which is a nice touch for bringing together the products and show how they can be used as part of your day.

Anyway, as for trialling the products, I had tried KokoLuxe before in the Goodness Me box and I was pretty excited to get a full packet of it! The scent is unique, but the flavour is delicious, and you definitely feel as though you’re having a cup of hot chocolate.

I’m not the biggest fan of keep-cups – not because I don’t love that they save the environment! But I find the lids make your drink take a bit plasticky, which is annoying. However I do love the colours, and I might end up using this mug around the house.

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I gave the Papaya Vapour Balm a go. It is scented with eucalyptus and lemon myrtle, so it is really beautiful and refreshing. However, as I’m a total fool, I didn’t read the instructions properly and applied it to my lips, as in a lip balm, when it’s actually a vapour balm to be applied to your chest and back!!! I panicked for a moment, but as the ingredients are 100% natural, and the scent was still beautiful and softening – and I didn’t die. So there’s a plug. But I do think this will be a really lovely winter addition for when you’re bundled up with a cold – a refreshing scent that naturally brings you some calm.

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The wotnot facial wipes are described as being for dry/sensitive skin. I tend to really dry out in winter – even though I aim to drink 2.5L of water a day, I still feel like I’m being leeched of hydration. The wipes were really refreshing and nice, and as far as I could tell, unscented, so a nice balance to add to your handbag.

I gave the Superfood bar a go. It’s flavoured Wattleseed Husk, Cacao, with coconut and wattleseed. I tend to prefer just eating a carrot stick to trying raw bars, but this one had a great texture and I thought the flavours were great. I’d love to try some of their other flavours.

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I adore the colouring-in mandala. Although I haven’t really gotten on board with the mandala obsession that has taken over social media, I do love the concept for colouring in, and I’m looking forward to a quiet Saturday night catching up on the Bachelorette and colouring in this little image. Thankfully I have an enormous collection of textas and coloured pencils, so I think I can make this guy pretty cute.

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Overall, I love that once again this box struck a great balance in providing goods for positive nourishment with good and wholesome food, goods for your physical health with hair products and relief from colds, and goods for my mental health, with mindful colouring and tea and hot chocolate for quiet and peaceful activities. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

Overall rating: 5/5.

 

 

Inbox Zero

One of the most important habits I’ve implemented in both my personal and work email is reaching Inbox Zero on a daily basis. Email is an integral element of communication and identification now. And as a direct result of using your email as your identity for anything and everything, your email is a hot spot for serious clutter. Since getting rid of clutter is basically the ultimate unicorn goal of life, I wanted to share some useful tips in reaching Inbox Zero yourself.

Unroll.Me

I definitely struggled most with keeping my personal inbox at zero. I attribute this to a lot of things – but mainly that my personal email is just the place where every single online store registration, pointless competition or scoopon advertising email hides and multiplies. I tried the unsubscribe button, but I never seemed to clear all the junk that was already sitting in my inbox, until a colleague told me about Unroll.Me. Once you create an account, Unroll.Me scans your inbox and comes up with a list of all your email subscriptions. You can then go through and select to unsubscribe, keep in inbox or ‘roll up’ – that is, include that as part of a single summary email sent to you each day that gives a quick snapshot of all the emails you’ve expressed an interest in still viewing, without needing to see as a stand-alone item.

If you delete the roll-up email, but want to see what you received that day, you can check out your daily roll up on the Unroll.Me website once you’ve logged in. It’s a really accessible and usable interface, and you can check your past allocations of different lists in unsubscribe, roll up or keep, and change them if need be. To date, I’ve unsubscribed to 261 lists, rolled up 98 lists and kept only 45 lists in my inbox. That means I now receive at most 3 emails a day directly to my inbox, and I can quickly deal with them. My roll up email I receive each morning requires a quick scan of content and is quickly archived. All other emails are read and dealt with, or archived.

Maximise the app functionality

Until it was tragically discontinued, I used the Mailbox app administered by the same team that runs Dropbox. It was a magical app that used the swipe functionality of a smartphone to allow you to quickly and easily sort your emails – whether to delete them, mark as unread, get ‘sent’ to you again at a later date (basically reappear as though they were a new email on the day or a few days before they were actually relevant – great for concert tickets), or get filed away. As an extra bonus, every time you cleared to zero, you got a new daily picture. It was a magical time.

Although Mailbox is gone, the inbuilt Mail app on iPhones now has a lot of the functionality that Mailbox offered, including the ability to easily sort with a swipe. I find dealing with gmail on a laptop or desktop surprisingly clunky as you can’t just drag emails – you need to click to select, then move to folders (although I acknowledge this may be my lack of understanding of how gmail works…). Using the swipe functions is quick, simple, and intuitive, and can be done almost anywhere you go with your phone (which for me, is basically anywhere on this earth).

Rules

Setting up Outlook rules has been critical to maintaining my work email at Inbox Zero. I have no idea how to do them in google, but setting it up in Outlook is a quick process through the help icon. As a result, you can direct all your outside work / personal emails straight to the personal folder, avoiding awkward moments when your boyfriend emails you something ridiculous while your partner is in your office. And you can save yourself from that low-level stress that comes with flagging emails in your core inbox and never dealing with them – the emails are automatically sorted and listed as unread, and you can check the individuals folders as and when necessary.

I recommend starting with setting up rules for friends or family you email often in a non-professional capacity, redirecting those emails straight to a Personal folder. Then you can start playing with rules for certain types of emails you get regularly for certain projects that don’t require immediate attention.

Setting up a simple system of local folders

At work we have an integrated online document management system, which makes filing matter-specific folders very seamless. However, email is rarely limited to work-only matters, and it’s important to have a simple set of folders for filing emails you want or need to keep. I have 15 local folders set up to capture personal emails and non-billable project-specific emails. 15 is definitely more than I would like, but somehow I have quite a few projects going on. The benefit of Outlook is the powerful search function which allows you to find things quickly no matter where they are, so your folders can be more generic. I just haven’t overcome a compulsion to have a separate folder for each project, rather than more over-arching concepts like ‘Community Projects’ and ‘Yoga’.

Use those dead five minutes towards the end of the day

You know the ones I’m talking about. When you have Ctrl+Tab+Facebook’d on autopilot a couple of times and read a few articles blowing hot air on the latest non-issue (usually someone’s completely pointless faux-authoritative opinion on parenting, veganism or millenials), and it isn’t quite time to start work on something new, or there’s no motivation to finish something off…or you’re just in that delightful stage of CBF. Take just one minute to clear out all the emails in your core in box that you’ve dealt with, or don’t need to deal with any longer. Be ruthless with the delete key, and drag and dump the save-worthy emails into your local files. Only leave in your inbox what must absolutely be left behind. Challenge yourself to keep at 3 items or less.

These tips merged between personal and work inbox – which I tend to recognise as personal = gmail and work = Outlook. However, the key thing to come out of it is discipline. It is great to deal with your emails as and when you read them. But you only need to commit to once a day, getting rid of (either deleting or filing) everything that no longer needs to be front of mind, being those emails in your core inbox.

As you get into the habit of maintaining Inbox Zero, you’ll find that your stress levels lower as you aren’t faced with a scary pile of unfiled documents and uncertain locations. You’ll also find you don’t waste time looking at useless subscription emails who only aim to sell you stuff and steal your money, under the premise of a ‘once in a lifetime sale!’. They’re lying. It’ll be back. And you won’t need that sale – now or later.

All you need is to commit just a small part of your day to achieving a clutter-free inbox, and you’ll reap the benefits of a less cluttered mind.

 

 

May Money Round Up

I’m really starting to get into the groove with these money round-ups or spending reports. It’s been a great provider of perspective during those moments of weakness, where I just really want to buy something. And as the data has collated over the months, it becomes more and more interesting to examine trends in my spending. The biggest change has definitely been the almost complete eradication of spending on clothes. And I have noticed a definite general trends towards awareness of waste and how to reduce it – waste of money in buying things I don’t use and waste of time in spending on events I don’t care about because I was pressured in to it.

This money round-up looks at how I spend my $120 weekly pocket money on completely discretionary things. It does not assess our team expenses (groceries, rent, other boring necessities), nor does it track savings. It does however provide a monthly report on my side-hustles, as I continue to pursue and refine the side-hustle experiment.

So without further ado, the May Money Round Up…

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It’s far from perfect, seeing as I completely forgot to track a week (what a fool), but there it is…a very inconsistent month.

The best thing I spent money on this month was the $30 on boxing gloves and wraps for my 3-month scoopon to local gym, Box & Bike. It is a unique work-out class that combines 2 minute boxing combinations with 2 minutes on the spin bike. You sweat your face off, and it’s a good chance to reinvigorate yourself if you’re working late, or to end the day by releasing a lot of rage. The other best thing was my Leuchtterm bullet journal, which I’m currently obsessed with filling, and already has brought me much more peace than my previous system.

The worst thing I spent my money on was … well, nothing. Generally I did overspend, but I’m not heartbroken about it, since everything had a purpose. I’ll be subsidising my overspend with my side-hustle income from the market research surveys I’ve participated in. I’m really going to miss that money when it’s gone!

Now onto the much more exciting table – my May side-hustle income:

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This was a really exciting month for my etsy store! I received 13 orders, and made a total of $97.40 in revenue – that figure subtracts the approximate value of fees (which are charged in USD). I don’t think I’ll be able to replicate this month for a while, so I’m holding on to the lessons and excitement while I can. And I was exceptionally thrilled to make my first commissioned crochet baby blanket. My profits were extremely small on this little project, but it was a real thrill to think people actually like my work.

Otherwise I’m continuing to do the occasional survey on Swagbucks and MySurvey, and managed to earn a voucher from each. That’s just about my max limit, as I mentioned last month, as earning points can be really labour intensive if you’re trying to maximise your options, and that significantly reduces your return on investment.

I did make a big move in reducing my side-hustle commitments, and possible income, this month, by winding up my tutoring student. The lack of consistency, the difficult student and the lack of commitment had really started to plague the relationship, and neither of us were getting anything out of it any longer. It was definitely something I should have brought to an end much sooner, but as it was my best return on investment side hustle option ($40 for 45 minutes of work + 15 minutes travel time), it was hard to let that go. However plenty of things matter much more than money: sanity, quiet Sundays and a clean home come to mind. And I’m glad to be constantly assessing my priorities and using the power of no to help me create a life I’m happy with.

June is a really exciting month – it’s my birthday (!!), there’s a long weekend, and I’m heading to Melbourne for a weekend, just to name a few of the highlights. I’m anticipating it will involve quite a lot of spending, especially while I’m in Melbourne, so I’ll be going easy on myself for that, and generally working on reigning it in on the other weeks. I’m moving tracking my spend from various hand-written worksheets to my Bullet Journal, and I’m looking forward to sharing how that goes. The key goal this month will just be consistency: consistency in writing down every dollar I spend and every dollar I earn.