Morning Pages

When work gets overwhelming, I often find myself in the trenches of Pinterest, scrolling through beautiful productivity methods and lettering methods. The orderly presentation of beautiful things brings me a sense of calm, and a small ray of hope that I can actually achieve it.

Something that has been a recurring theme in these adventures across the internet is morning pages. Morning pages is a journalling concept, where you just write three pages of long-form journalling, preferably every morning. It almost functions like a brain-dump – just getting out all the stuff from your mind in the morning, so you can start the day clear-eyed and focussed.

Morning pages was the perfect solution to two things in my life: my 100-mile-a-minute mind, and my irrational collection of unused notebooks looking for a purpose. While I have kept a journal on-again off-again for as long as I can remember (literally, I kept journals when I was 5…what did I even write about??), I’ve been more off than on lately. Often the act of just sitting down to write is overwhelming, and I find myself just dwelling on the mundane – how much weight I want to lose / how work is hard / how I can’t wait for a break. All things that are true, but I find it difficult to push past those surface-level topics.

My two days of morning pages have both taken place in the evening. My morning routine is very deeply ingrained, and I haven’t yet reshuffled things to make room for writing in the morning. But I definitely see it being a habit that slowly shifts to the morning. For now, writing in the evening is both more appropriate to my daily routine, and also more appropriate considering the amount of crap that accumulates in my mind over the course of the day. It feels appropriately cathartic to let it all out on the page before going to sleep, and starting a new day.

In the end, morning pages, in and of itself, is nothing magical. But it is an opportunity or a key to kickstart, or reignite, a journalling habit. I’m excited to keep you updated on how it goes.

Advertisements

The Power of Just Doing It

I’ve been realising more and more that the key ingredient to success is slugging it out despite desperately not wanting to. 

Looking at how badly you don’t want to do something on your to do list, and thinking how awful it will be, then diving head first in and just doing it.

Thinking of all the excuses you have, setting fire to that list (figuratively or literally) and doing it. 

Considering all the ways you could palm it off and then just getting it done. 

And suddenly, when you do it – it’s done. 

The weight lifts off, the fear melts away, your mind clears and your heart sings a little. Your focus narrows, your motivation soars and your joy rises. 

It’s a special kind of magic because you can draw on it everyday.

Just do it. 

Unblocking 

It’s been a fair gap of time since I’ve posted! While I have many half-drafted posts sitting, pending and waiting for my attention, I’ve been blocked from taking the time to sit down and deal with them. A lot is external – working full time, running a fitness group, prioritising my own exercise, running my etsy store, all adds up to a lot of mental fatigue that writing doesn’t alleviate. Simultaneously, a lot is internal – I don’t want to just dump my thoughts on the Internet without taking the time to process and understand what it is I’m trying to share. I also get self-conscious about what I want to write – is it any good? Will people think I’m boring? Am I just cluttering up the Internet?

This is my writers block post, to help me get past that. I’m dusting off my fears and facing head on to my desires. 

I’m looking forward to exercising the writing muscle again. It needs a good workout. 

Perspective 


Working full time at the bottom of the corporate ladder can really take its toll. There’s many great parts: great learning opportunities, corporate perks of free food and free booze, working with the best, and minimal responsibility at times when you really appreciate not bearing the burden. It can be glamorous and fun and interesting, and you’re surrounded by impressive, interesting and stimulating people, who push you and challenge you and make you into a success. Most days this is inspiring and you find yourself doing your best, almost by accident, riding the wave of motivation and inspiration. But some days, and sometimes for many days in a row, you slump. You forget how to work, or how to work hard. You let one small misstep blow out to redefine you as inadequate and incapable, and you use this new paradigm as an excuse to let yourself perform at much less than your best.

This slump can be almost impossible to shake off. I’ve felt myself in a work slump for a few weeks, and struggled hard to find a way to release myself from my new personal definition of ‘fine is fine’. I don’t like to hand in fine work, and my job doesn’t demand fine, it demands perfect. I’d let confusion and lack of confidence take the reins in my working day; which is odd, because outside my 9 – 5 (cute summary of standard work hours), I define myself by willpower, motivation, commitment to succeed and confidence in the abilities of myself and others. Somehow, the corporate ladder had crushed me a little, and I couldn’t work out how to straighten out again.

 

It took a very embarrassing performance review and a long conversation with my supervising partner to realise that not only did I feel a bit crushed, but that other people had noticed I wasn’t up to scratch. After dwelling and mulling and crying in the shower (such a tragic move), I realised that my perspective had shifted. I felt like I was freed from feeling lost and alone and underneath a big pile of crap. I felt like I could go back to seizing opportunities and turning them in to something great, instead of continuing to work at a sub-standard level, feeling generally like I was under-performing and too stuck in my ways to do anything about it.

It’s a new morning, and a new day. I took a little longer getting my game-face on, I took some time to reflect on what I want to achieve today. I decided I wasn’t going to let the corporate ladder wobble and let me fall on my face. And I decided that each piece of work, no matter how small or how complicated, is an opportunity to rebuild my old brand, of commitment, perseverance and excellence.

 

 

Coffee date

It’s Monday morning, somehow it is April, one quarter of 2016 is behind us, and there already seems like so much to be catching up on. I figured it was time for a coffee date to reflect and see how we’re all doing. I heavily borrowed the idea and format for this post from my all-time favourite blog, Blonde on a Budget; it was such a fun post and I’ve been wanting to try something similar for a while. So here goes!

Cup of coffee

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that Mondays are one of my favourite days of the week. Fresh starts, fresh food (I meal prep my food on Sundays, so it is always most delicious on Mondays), and lots of catching up around the office means that the day can go surprisingly quickly. It also feels like a clean slate; all the mess of the previous week is over, and often the things you were panicking about seem much more achievable after refreshing yourself from the weekend. However, I always need an extra caffeine boost, so I’d be ordering a double shot cappuccino!

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I’m loving running my own Etsy store, and shipped out my first three orders today. The weekend was full of playing with packaging, which is currently still a bit silly and not very professional, printing, cutting, designing and getting excited to see the beginnings of interest in my little hobby store. The handmade community is very supportive and committed to helping others, and it feels great to have taken the plunge on something I’ve been planning and wishing for, for a long time.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that 2016 is shaping up into a really great year. After turning 25 and beginning my career as a lawyer, I kind of thought it would all be dull from here on out. Instead, the year has been full of friends, dinner parties, smashing fitness goals, taking risks, planning trips, friends getting married and new opportunities. I hope you’re finding the same, and I’d ask you what you’re most excited about for this year.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I’ve reset my nutrition goals for the one thousandth time, and that I’m re-attempting to eat clean. I gave up sugar and carbs for February, and saw a noticeable different in my weight, body fat percentage, skin, hair, mood and fitness. Once the month was over, and the Easter shelves filled up with creme eggs, I fell heavily off the wagon, and definitely feel the difference. To re-establish myself as a clean eater, I meal prepped, meal packed and created a MyFitnessPal account, and am feeling confident. I’d ask you if you’re interested in nutrition, and whether you subscribe to a particular food program, and if you have any favourite recipes or nutrition tips you’d like to share.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that it’s the boyf’s 27th birthday tomorrow and I’m extremely excited. As he doesn’t read this blog, I’d also tell you I splurged and got him a pair of sound-proof headphones, and organised dinner at the only waffle house I could find in Perth. I love birthdays more than he does, so the enthusiasm is definitely one-sided, but it’s fun to celebrate important things.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I’ve had my leave approved and we’re off to Michigan, USA in July! Perth to Michigan is a depressingly long way, which is part of the motivation behind the sound-proof headphones mentioned above. We’ll be spending two weeks at the boyf’s parents’ lake house, skiing, kayaking, eating barbeque and relaxing. I’ll hopefully sneak in some trips to the neighbouring bigger towns to maximise the USA shopping experience. But the general focus is family, food and relaxing.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d ask for some of your favourite book recommendations. I’m nearing the end of a Netflix binge on Gilmore Girls, and looking to change up my hobbies to involve more reading and less passive indulgence of visuals. I have the Power of Habit lined up as my next read, and I cracked open The Light Between Oceans on the weekend, although I haven’t really warmed to it yet.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I’ve become obsessed with the podcast Modern Love. The story telling is just beautiful. Since Serial, I’ve been an avid podcaster, and other favourites include Amicus and Science versus. Do you have any recommendations? Do you prefer music or podcasts on your walks/runs?

And finally, if we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I’m really excited for April. There’s a lot of fun and random activities coming up: a Canvas and Cabernet night, fancy dinner and seeing Cats the Musical with the boyf, trips to the outdoor cinemas, a fiesta networking night with tequila and tacos, an Adults only Astronaut night at the local science exhibition, and a long weekend hiking trip. Normally April is a bit of a non-event, but I’m feeling very positive about this one. Overall I’m finding an intentional attitude of positivity can have a noticeable impact upon how you view life. I find myself to be an accidental pessimist, and can complain about being too busy or wanting to be at home in my pyjamas. But by cultivating a joy around the great events of this month, I think I’ll be enjoying them so much more.

What’s your coffee order? And your favourite topic of a coffee conversation?

 

 

 

Everyday with Emily: now on Etsy!


Just stopping by the blog quickly on this delightful long weekend to let you know that Everyday with Emily is now an etsy store! The store focusses on icon and quirky word stickers, with the goal of maximum versatility and maximum fun. Each sticker sheet contains a minimum 45 stickers, which are perfectly sized to be used in any medium: Kikki K, Erin Condren, Plum Planner, Happy Planner, Midori, Bullet journal, your standard wall calendar … anything!

Stickers can be purchased in transparent (my fave), glossy or matte, and colours as you preference. Each sheet retails for $1.50AUD, plus shipping – total bargain. Come stop by at http://www.everydaywithemily.etsy.com or click this link, pick up a collection of fun stickers and get organised 🙂

 

Meal Planning 101

Okay. So. Being an adult is hard. Whatever. Everyone knows it. But I swear the hardest thing is grocery shopping and not throwing it all away a few days/weeks/months later. Try as I might, I will never ever obtain my mum’s secret power of not wasting a single piece of food and always being fed. It is some kind of insane superpower she caught from a spider bite many years ago, and rudely didn’t pass down by genetics or whatever. The closest I’ve ever gotten is when I embarked on a 4 week challenge where all I ate was chicken and vegetables (delicious), but even then, there was wilted broccoli in the back of the fridge because well, broccoli kind of sucks and I cannot manage to keep on top of all of the food I buy in a fit of inspiration on the weekend, only to bin it the following Thursday, followed by trying to remove the weird slime. Ew.

So I’ve been embarking on a project of meal prepping. It has involved much more planning than I anticipated, but it is very rewarding. And attempt one was very enlightening. I made many mistakes, and I thought you’d appreciate either laughing at them or learning from them. More likely the former than the latter, but that’s okay! These mistakes are so dumb that you wouldn’t have made them. But don’t you worry, I sure did! And here they are, in step-by-step form.

Step one: Get out the recipe books.

In order to properly meal prep, you need to actually know what you’re going to be making. So, get your recipes ready. I mostly stuck to old favourites, but I did introduce one new dish: a chicken and broccoli casserole in an attempt to prove to the boyf that I will not habitually throw away all broccoli.

Step Two: Set up your plan.

I just used some spare paper in my Kikki K planner for this purpose. However, there are some great printables available online: I like this one, this one or this one.

Or of course, Kikki K has got your back: check out this option, or this one.

As always, the real benefits come from nailing right down to the details. You typically eat breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. But if you’re anything like me, giving up snacks is unheard of, so those snacks should be accounted for. Then, assign what you’re eating for each meal.

Step Three: Work out how many serves of each recipe you need to make to fit in with your plan.

This is where I messed up. I’ll tell you about it in a minute. It’s hilarious. But, get an idea of this, because it’ll define your shopping list.

Step Four: Write a shopping list.

Have those recipes you picked ready, and know how many batches of each recipe you’ll be making. Then, write your list, and specify the quantities.

img_3743

Step Five: Get overwhelmed and lie on the floor for a while.

I’ve not written this step as often as I actually implemented it.

Step Six: To the shops!

With maybe a side of cajoling for company from the boyf. Anyway, we got there, used the list, got in and out, through the till, DONE.

Except for my minor mess up with how many serves my chicken & broccoli casserole makes, and how much Moroccan chicken I would need to make. Anyway, I walked out with 7.5kg of chicken breast. I was confident my numbers were correct (even though two people absolutely would not eat 7.5kg of chicken breast in a week). The boyf was very nice and didn’t say anything at the time. But he knew I stuffed up.

Step Seven: get home, almost fall over because you decided to unnecessarily carry all of your groceries up in one hit.

Step Eight: Leave everything on the floor for a while. I have a thing for the floor.

Step Nine: Start cooking that food. This is what I think is more important than anything. Don’t just put whole capsicums and bags of carrots into your fridge. Get out the peeler and your snap lock containers (man those things are amazing), and cut, chop, cook and cry until it’s all nicely sealed and tetris’d into your fridge. Put on Netflix, it’s much more fun that way. And this way, as the work days mount, you can quickly assemble a meal that has enough vegetables so you don’t die from malnutrition or scurvy. I think scurvy is still a thing.

Step Ten: Laugh at the fact you only used 3 of the 7.5kg of the chicken because you didn’t have room in the fridge to store too many large containers of pre-cooked meals.

The key things I learned from getting into the specifics of drafting a meal plan is to pay attention to the numbers. Check how many servings a recipe will yield and get your numbers right so there’s actually a point to writing out a comprehensive list.

I’m going to try again next week. I’ll give you an update on if we’ve managed to ever get through all of that bloody chicken. My freezer is looking very full.

 

Zero Funds February

I’m confident I’m not alone in thinking where the heck did January go?? I’ll be doing a January recap at the end of the month, but – it was an amazing month. It also had the added benefit of involving very little ‘thinking about the future’, which means my real new year can begin in February.

February is just awfully convenient for setting mini goals. This particular February is greater than most, since it begins on a Monday and ends on a Sunday (excluding 29 February – am I the only one who thinks 29 February isn’t a real day?). After tossing up some different titles for this month’s goal, I settled on Zero Funds February (although ‘No Fun February’ was the lead contender, I thought it was a little on the Negative Nancy side). Zero Funds February involves the following:

Zero.

Spending.

Yep – you guys, I’m doing a one-month shopping ban. Except for pre-approved items, I will be spending zero dollars. This is functioning as a warm up for a future longer-term shopping ban. For now, it gives me a hyper-focussed period of time to examine my habits and triggers, and make some informed decisions about how I want to work my money going forward.

My mantra to get me through is extremely unoriginal:

recite-a7tow2

 

 

And behold – the pre-approved February shopping list:

  • Groceries / petrol / bills (obviously) (note that ‘bills’ includes gym membership, 4 week challenge cost and Netflix).
  • Protein powder.
  • Printing photos (9c / 4×6 picture at Harvey Norman – this is part of my year long goal to Project Life my photos and importantly use up all the craft crap I hang on to).
  • Skin cancer check (these appointments are IMPOSSIBLE to get, and the only Saturday I could get is the last Saturday of the month).
  • Two trips to the 50m pool for swim practice ($6/each).
  • 2 x gifts: Valentines Day, nan’s birthday.
  • Stamps.

More importantly – things that I will not be spending on this month:

  • Take-away coffee.
  • Lunches.
  • Sweet tooth snacks.
  • Yarn (I like to crochet in my spare time #legend).
  • All other craft-related items.
  • Stationery (including to do lists, notebooks, journals, colourful pens, stickers…).
  • Candles.
  • Clothes (including all activewear).
  • Accessories.
  • Shoes.
  • Make up / Skin care / Hair care.
  • Apps.

Do you have a monthly goal for February? Any advice on the above? Let me know in the comments!

Steps to KonMari-ing the crap out of my bathroom

A year later and I am on board the KonMari train to tidying and magically transforming my life into a world of unicorns and rainbows dancing around all the newly freed up space in my home!

I got back to the land down under on Saturday and, after watching all the crap spill out of our suitcases, adding to the stuff already filling up our little home, I was itching to get discarding. I defied the KonMari laws and started with the bathroom, because I embarrassingly harbour very strong emotional connections to my clothes (I know, I’m insane), and wasn’t ready for that horrible process of saying goodbye.

With jet lag waking me at the delightful hour of 4.50am, I got up, got to work, and “discarded” (aka got rid of a tonne of sh*t). Below is a step-by-step guide to my first foray into performing magic upon my bathroom.

Step 1: Take a before photo or two ( obviously )

   

  

Room deets: combo bathroom/laundry. Contains 3 drawers, three cupboards under the sink, and one long cupboard with 6 shelves. Laundry sink is also full of random items. There is an additional box hiding in the bedroom containing nail polishes.

Step 2: Does it spark joy?

Every item got lovingly held, interrogated about its ability to bring me joy, and put either into the bin (see ya exploded lip gloss I never dealt with), the throwing away box or the keep box. This was quick, as a lot of the stuff was embarrassing (shimmery Ed Hardy body lotion? Seriously, why).

Step 3: Get tracking

I sat down with a clear coffee table, notebook and pen, and wrote down every item and tracked whether it went in the discard purgatory or the bring-me-joy-baby keep pile. (This step was motivated by Cait Flanders, and an intention to start a shopping ban).

(PS – want to see what 73 nailpolishes looks like? I know. I too am mortified with myself. When the heck was I thinking I could use up 73 polishes? The total square meterage of my finger nails is like 0.05.)

  
Step 4: Wet wipe the world

The adventures of my rank bathroom cupboards required a massive wipe down of every single item and all containers. Apparently my foundations like to randomly squirt out of the bottles and cause havoc when I’m at work. Surprisingly, that process served as a second-round cull, as it did not bring me a single speck of joy to look after some of that stuff and I never wanted to wipe down hundreds of items again.

Step 5: Order boyfriend to take out rubbish to avoiding risking the “temptation” of hanging on to any of the non-joy-giving-devil-items.

(Love you babe xoxo)

Step 6: Give everything a home

I really wanted to go to IKEA to buy the perfect storage, but I held strong to the Oracle (all praise Marie Kondo) and used what I had around the home, since the solution isn’t buying more storage, but having less stuff. I even put my iPhone 6 box to work, since the book had specifically recommended apple product boxes. I took this extremely seriously. 

Step 7: Get grumpy

This takes frickin forever. I got grumpy and had a nap.

Step 8: Resume finding shoe boxes in which to neatly stack your stuff after refreshing nap.

Step 9: Take after photos

  
* ta da *

  
And finally – my review of the process in point-form:

  • Discarding items is awesome and eye-opening. I had SO MUCH MORE junk that I even fathomed – see you later high horse of “I live in a small apartment and hardly have anything”.
  • Tracking your items is tedious but very rewarding. I made up a spreadsheet afterwards so that I can continue to track what comes in and out of my life, and share the total stats below.
  • Don’t ever subscribe to makeup subscription boxes. They increase your Total Crap Percentage (or TCP) by a factor of a zillion, and it’s extremely unlikely you’ll use any of it.
  • Clean or wipe down everything before putting it back – this step really made me appreciate what I had and inspired me to want to look after what I have better so I don’t have an urge for shiny new stuff all the time.
  • Shoeboxes as storage is awesomeeee.
  • Marie Kondo knows her stuff. While I didn’t thank all my items out loud for taking care of me at my worst and loving me at my best and whatever, I did generate a very deep appreciation for what I have, and mentally engaged in some serious gratitude (alongside a little self-berating of why-did-you-ever-even-think-it-was-a-good-idea-to buy-this-you-idiot questioning and avoiding mentally calculating the money I wasted).

So without further ado, the numbers:

Total items owned: 369

Items discarded: 155

Percentage discarded: 42%

See you for round 2 – Clothes, otherwise known as the Era of Activewear Confrontation.

My approach to exercise

It is impossible to escape exercise and fitness as one of the foundations of 21st century millenial life. Exercising more/losing weight/being fit is goal at the forefront of most people’s minds. The number of people participating in fun runs, half marathons, triathlons and other “fit”events has increased enormously.

I am not immune to this trend – in fact, I love exercise. This is very lucky, as I also love food, and all of the “you can’t out-train a bad diet” truths aside, at the very least I’m committed to moving my body, which usually results in a natural desire to fuel it properly.

Anyway – a sermon on exercise and health is not why I am here. Rather, I wanted to share what I spend on “exercise”. Prepare yourself. It’s kind of mortifying. 

To start, I’ll lay out what exercise I do. I found an amazing group training group last year as a result of a Christmas gift from my parents. It revolutionised my attitude to exercise, and was the first form of fitness I actually stuck with, consistently, for an entire year. I saw changes I never thought possible, and I refuse to give up on that group now, after everything it has given me. 

I also recently joined a country-club style gym with my boyf. It is a 6 minute walk from our apartment, and has a huge gym, an indoor and outdoor pool (unfortunately not full sized, but we can live with that), tennis courts, squash courts, and, hilariously, a bar (in fact – two bars). 

The group training costs me $35.88 a week.

The gym costs me $34.50 a week.

So yes – I spend $70.38 a week on “exercise”. That’s approximately 7% of my weekly take-home pay. I note, for completeness and a better insight to my confessional, that my work provides me access to a free gym. 

 This total also does not include expenditure on the following, which I label “exercise incidentals”:

  • Activewear (maybe my most tragic weakness?)
  • Appropriate footwear
  • Triathlon entry fees (my next half ironman was a breathtaking $400, just to enter)
  • Fuel/nutrition (gels, protein powder, bars etc.)
  • Gear (tennis and squash racquets, tennis balls, gym bag, water bottles, sunnies, bike services, and so on)
  • Washing the never ending pile of sweaty outfits 
  • Pool entry for when I want to swim 50m laps (about $6/entry)
  • Game fees for netball (I won’t be playing this any longer, but last year it was $10/game)

You get where I’m going. I am a sucker for exercise, and affiliated activities. One of the motivations to track my expenses this year is to get an actual figure on what I spend on exercise. I’m convinced it’s a very high number. However, the only thing I could definitively tell you is what I spend a week on entry fees places – the rest disappear into cute amounts I can’t place, and can’t put an exact figure on at this stage.

I do note I labelled this category as “exercise” and not just plain old Exercise. That’s because to a large degree, this category is also Entertainment. Despite not being in a fantastic economic position, signing up to our country club was one of the best things the boyf and I have done for our relationship. The aforementioned shoebox apartment gives rise to strong feelings of claustrophobia sometimes, particularly when you live on top of each other. I always wanted to live somewhere with a pool and gym, but those options were significantly more expensive and more poorly located than our current place. We worked out we could stay at our place, and join the gym, and come out ahead by about $50 – $80 a week, and have access to better facilities than if we’d upgraded our place. 

We also found that this option gave us somewhere to go to get out of each other’s hair when things got a bit too much after long days or just general life stress. Even better, going together has given us a really healthy dimension to our relationship – we have fun conversations while playing squash that aren’t complaining about our day, and when we swim on the rooftop, overlooking the sparkle of the city while the sun sets, we feel grateful for each other and for the little things in the day. 

So at face value – I spend way too much on exercise. But I believe in investing in my health, and in my relationship, and the current set up achieves both of those outcomes. I definitely agree it can be done cheaper – there are thousands of work outs available free online, via apps or Pinterest or ebooks or Instagram – but unless you stick to them, they are useless, simply mental clutter. This category, for me, defines the “personal” of personal finance. I’m excited to share more about it as I transition into the second half of my twenties (nooooooooo!!!) and as I undertake a focussed approach to my finances in 2016.