Looking Forward To 2015

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So every year I make a list of things I want to achieve and at the end of every year I feel like I have very little to actually show for it. I’m beginning to think that I am either very unmotivated (sometimes true), I am easily distracted (also sometimes true), I split my focus too much (I can never seem to finish what I start), I have unrealistic expectations, or I’m focussing on the wrong goals because I’m stuck in the mindset. I’m thinking it’s a little bit of everything, but mostly the last one. I’m not focussed on the right things. I’m stuck in the mindset of trying to do too much and be too big and change too fast. I’m too focussed on achievement rather than just enjoying the ride. That’s what life is, one big continuous journey. That’s the key of what I’ve been missing in these resolutions. I’m too stuck on feeling like I need to achieve great things, when I just need to be who I am and recognise that life is made up of the little things that are pretty special too.

So what do I have in store for 2015?

Photography

I did actually take a photo a day last year (mostly) but it was pretty much all of my darling daughter. I’m still hung up on the photo a day concept, but I’m finding it too arduous and it’s clogging up this site. I’m finding myself posting for the sake of posting instead of actually considering what I’m taking photos of and thinking it through. I’m not happy with a lot of the photos and they’re frankly pretty boring, even for me and I took them! So I’m going to simplify. I’ll only post up what I’m happy with and actually want to post. I’ll still take photos every day, but I want to be more careful and considerate of what it is I’m doing. I don’t want to just be filling a quota and just dumping everything on here. There are so many last minute and thoughtless photos on here and I’m definitely not happy with and this year I just want to do things that make me and my family happy. I should also probably get back into it and take photos of something other than my daughter, as cute as she is!

 

Read More Books

I did okay with this one last year, but only because I was obsessed with all things baby especially sleep. I still feel like I spend too much time online reading small and easy to digest articles instead of proper books. I feel like I’m getting dumber with each passing year, and part of that is that I don’t read as much stuff with substance. I’m just getting little bits and pieces of everything. I also still have a terrible habit of starting heaps of books and never finishing them, so maybe I’ll try to finish what I start, including the dozens of books I’ve started by never finished. Part of reading more is unplugging, getting off my laptop, getting off the internet, and definitely kicking my damaging Pinterest addiction. I suppose what I really want to do is to simplify a little and focus rather than dividing all my thoughts over many different snippets.

 

Exercise Consistently

I know I say this every year but it’s an ongoing project. After being diagnosed with gestational diabetes and forcing myself to waddle around more to keep my blood glucose in check, I now don’t have a lot of motivation to get out there again. It was a tough recovery, which meant I wasn’t as mobile as I probably should have been and add to the fact that some days I’m still in a lot of pain, it’s hard to do any exercise just for myself. The most I do nowadays is going for walks with the little one and lifting the pram in and out of the car. I did go on a couple of runs last year, but nowhere near what I was doing prior to getting pregnant. My core strength is also currently non-existent!

 

Be In the Moment

I spend too much time going over what happened in the past that can’t be changed, and worrying about what is probably never going to happen in the future. It makes me unable to enjoy what’s happening right in front of me. I don’t want to be burdened by all these things that may or may not happen. Instead I want to be a part of what’s happening right now and to be completely available for my daughter and any future children that I might have. Sometimes I worry too much about the destination rather than the journey. It’s so cliche, but true in my case. If parenting has taught me anything, it’s that there is no endpoint. Everything is just fluid and always changing. I worry too much about the future and it makes me so anxious. Every time I feel like I’ve figured something out, it changes, so I need to learn to be adaptable and flexible and just go with the flow. Part of this is also just appreciating what is in front of me at the time. I want to enjoy music more and stop splitting my attention. Maybe I should also learn to do one thing at a time and simplify rather than trying to cram more and more things into my day. Time is precious, but I think I could spend it better by slowing down rather than speeding up and becoming overstimulated. I could probably learn a lot from my baby and making things simple. Being around her reveals a lot of truths about myself and the way I choose, or have previously chosen, to spend my time and energy.

 

Be Myself

One of the greatest insecurities is fearing that people won’t like and accept me. It’s silly and I have no idea why I am crippled by these thoughts, but it makes me less honest. It makes me not speak up and to hide what I’m really thinking in case I offend someone or that they judge me. This has never been more relevant now that I’m a parent. I want to be a person that my children can look up to and be proud of. I want them to know that it’s okay to be yourself and that it’s not important if you fit into a mould or if people like you or not. I don’t want to be burdened by expectations or worry so much about what other people think, who let’s face it, whose opinions don’t really matter. If people don’t like me for who I am, then they don’t have to be around me and vice versa. I also don’t want to keep taking so many things to heart. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so why waste energy getting upset when I don’t agree with them?

 

Finish What I’ve Started

I’m terrible at starting projects and never finishing them. It’s like the 10 books sitting next to my bed that I’ve half read but haven’t had the motivation to finish, or the thousands of tabs I have open in my browser that I’ve been meaning to read but haven’t gotten around it yet (yes my husband says that I have terrible tab addiction). Actually, I’m not sure if it’s lack of motivation or that I just have a short attention span or that I’m afraid to let go of anything and just hold on forever. It’s probably a combination of all these things and more. It probably doesn’t matter what the reason is. It makes me feel burdened though and this year I want to feel lighter within my own head. I know I have a heap of things I want to do but I think it’s time to get serious about finishing them or giving it away.

On a side note, I did finish my baby blanket (even though the baby I made it for is now almost 3!) and it only has on mistake in it. When I finished it, I was so proud that I felt like making another one. The husband kindly and sensibly said no to that idea!

 

Focus On My Family

This is the big one this year. Everything else comes second. I want to be a good mum and a good partner, neither of which I am right now, but I feel I have the potential to be. It’s probably like wanting to be happy though. It’s very difficult to define such an abstract concept as ‘good’ or ‘happy’ because the goalposts are constantly moving. I suppose what I’m looking at is to strive to improve and change and be flexible with my approach. I want to change the things I’m unhappy with, like my impatience, my tendency to bottle things up, my terrible habit of shutting down when I’m stressed… The list goes on. I suppose what I want to achieve with this is that I need to stop letting the little things get to me and focus on the big picture. My priority is my family at the moment. That’s my big picture and with everything else I just need to take a deep breath and take a step back.

 

There is so much more that I want to do an achieve, but I don’t know if I have the time or motivation to do it all. Baby steps.

2013 Recap & 2014 Goals

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I’m back from Christmas in sunny (and incredibly hot and humid) Queensland. I’ve decided that my poor pregnant body does not get along with heat. I spent a lot of time having cold showers and hopping into the pool with the dogs. It didn’t help that the air conditioner wasn’t working. My feet swelled up like beach balls, I was sweating the whole time, and what kind of mosquitos bite you on the face and feet? Annoying ones, that’s what!

Apart from all that, it was really nice to just get away from Melbourne for a little while and just relax and eat a lot of food. At times there was probably more food than baby in my belly.

This year has been quite eventful, even though you wouldn’t be able to tell from this blog’s very distinct inactivity, especially during the second half of the year. I haven’t done or tried a lot of small new things, but there are some reasons for that. The biggest things would probably be buying a house and of course getting pregnant, both massive life-altering and exciting events.

Buying the house was stressful and continues to be stressful as we discover new and stupid things that the previous owners have done. Dealing with banks (still pulling my hair out about how incompetent some of them are), mortgages, not knowing if we had enough money to put together a decent deposit (thanks parentals for the much needed assistance), shifty and pushy real estate agents (I am still getting calls about different properties, sometimes from the same real estate agent that we bought through. I already bought a house you vultures!), and of course the previous owners. We’ve had to fix drainage issues, electrical issues, had to clean a lot of their disgusting filth (and boy there was a lot of it!), deal with their overgrown and disorganised garden (which we are still in the process of doing), fill in the thousands of holes they drilled in the walls trying to mount their TV (okay, only 30, but that’s still like 26 too many holes), and we’re still sending back a heap of their mail (including Christmas cards from their relatives and car registration and bank statements) which they only redirected for 3 months and clearly haven’t changed their address anywhere. In short a lot of our troubles come from the incompetence of our previous owners, which we couldn’t have known before buying.

However, despite all the annoyances (and the horrible pink room, which is 3 different shades of pink) it’s our home now. I think it has great potential and we have a lot of great ideas we want to implement when we can afford to do so. It already looks so much better than it used to. It’s never going to look like something out of a magazine, but it’s ours (after paying off the bank!).

Sometimes being pregnant feels a bit surreal, but she’s recently started kicking, which makes it so much more real. I never understood why you feel so unwell at the start when you’re not supposed to tell anyone. However most of the first trimester nausea is gone and apart from the tiredness it hasn’t been too bad. Although I remember reading that being pregnant means that I’m always going to be in some kind of discomfort, and they weren’t wrong about that. Every day there’s something new and different to deal with and have a mini freak out over until I realise that everything’s just going along normally (thanks doctors, baby books and  helpful internet).

I still can’t quite believe that we’re going to be parents and responsible for another human being. Some days I feel fine about it and other times it makes me so anxious because we really don’t know what we’re doing. I don’t think I’m a very maternal person and even now I still don’t really like holding other people’s kids. My mum always said that it’s different with your own child though. Our lives are going to change so much in ways that we can’t even imagine. I’m lucky to have a lot of support around me though and some very candid workmates who have all been there and done that and are happy to share (and over share) valuable information.

The husband also managed to get a permanent position, which is fantastic. Just one less things to worry about. My work has been good and everyone’s been really supportive of my pregnancy. Everything just seems to be falling into place for us after a few false starts and a lot of stressing. I don’t imagine it will be smooth sailing from here, but I’m sure that the challenges we face in the future, we’ll get through.

There are lots of things that I didn’t have the time or the motivation to achieve this year, so I’ll dedicate more effort to achieving those things. Things like my Project 365, knitting, writing, reading more, eating better, exercising more (to be fair running 300km in total this year wasn’t going to happen after getting pregnant!), playing the piano more, learning languages, drawing… they just never happened. Maybe it was because I’m completely addicted to Pinterest and Candy Crush and that I’m a total procrastinator, but hopefully in the coming years I’ll continue building on these skills and being motivated enough to achieve what I set out to do.

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So here’s what I want to achieve in the next chapter of my life.

Photography

I’ve decided to keep up with the Fat Mum Slim photo a day. I’ll start with January, and hopefully if I keep enjoying it, I’ll continue on. I’ll take it a month at a time, because I think what puts me off the Project 365 is that I just run out of inspiration or I get discouraged because I don’t feel like my photos are any good. I also want to take more photos of the people I love instead of inanimate objects. I need to learn to use my expensive flash properly. I’m sure with having a child soon I’ll be taking photos like there’s no tomorrow.

Blog More

This once speaks for itself. It goes hand in hand with not taking as many photos this year. I have kind of left this alone for a while, and it’s kind of nice to have a place to express my (sometimes very boring) thoughts. I’m also aiming for quality rather that just incoherent rambling, a specialty of mine. I’m still not sure where this is headed, but I’m sure it’ll just evolve naturally.

House Things

There are so many things I want to do around the house, but small steps. We need to set up a nursery, including getting some furniture. At the moment we can’t even decide what colour to paint the place! Painting is a big project as well. I’d like to organise stuff in the house a lot better. The husband still has a lot of stuff in boxes that we just don’t know where to put yet due to this house’s complete lack of storage space (and his extraordinary amount of stuff). I also want to try and set up the garden better. I don’t know anything about gardening, but I want to learn. We have a lot of fruit trees that have become diseased because we didn’t know we had to spray them. We also have to tame the crazy vegetable garden that’s completely overgrown with canola. Can someone please tell me why the previous owners planted so much canola? There is an endless list of things I’d like to do, but these are probably the big ones for now.

Read More Books

I keep starting but not finishing books so more reading is in order as usual. Eventually it would be good to get through all the books on my shelf, but for a start I’ll just finish the ones that I’m already halfway though on my Kindle (which is about 10!).

Knitting

I still haven’t finished the baby blanket or the scarves, so that’s a continuing goal.

Cook New Things

We sometimes get into a bit of a rut with dinners so next year I should start making more new meals, especially the things that I find on Pinterest. I think we generally eat quite healthily, but sometimes (especially this year) we’ve been lazy and have been getting take away more often. We already generally eat gluten free, but I think we need to try more paleo or fodmaps type meals and see if it improves the husband’s IBS. I would also like to set a good example for our future child/children and that involves eating a wider variety of healthy foods and eating less processed crap. I think trying something new or different once a week should be doable.

Exercise Consistently

I’m going to try and make it a goal to do some form of exercise a day, stretching, Tai Chi, walking, swimming, running (after the baby is born), yoga, pilates… Just something. It doesn’t have to be much, but I just want to keep moving around. I would prefer it to be dedicated time rather that just incidental exercise though. I tend to start something, get really involved for about a month until I get sick or injured, and have to start from scratch again. Maybe doing it in smaller increments will help.

Learn/Improve Languages

Still haven’t made much progress on this front. I’m still not sure if I’d like our child to speak another language. In an ideal world that would be great, but I don’t think with my limited skills I would be the one to teach her. I also don’t like the idea of Saturday language schools because I don’t think their teaching methods work, or at least they didn’t work for me.

Stress Less

This will always be an ongoing issue for me. I think I’ve gotten better, but I am still too caught up with worrying what other people think of me. I still worry about how I appear to the world instead of worrying about how I feel about myself. I’ve seen what I don’t want to become in the people I see around, so I want to aim to be happy for myself and not for anyone else. I think worrying less or at least choosing the right moments to worry will also make me a better parent. This post here pretty much sums it up.

There is probably so much more I want to achieve, but this will do for now. It’s pretty much what I’ve been wanting to do for the last few years, to just develop new skills, be happy, be passionate about something, be a better person, and generally to be more appreciative.

So goodbye 2013 and happy new year! I’m sure 2014 will be an exciting year.

2012 Recap

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Another year over and boy did this year fly right by. It feels like a lot has happened but not much has happened if that makes sense.

It’s been tough being on inconsistent income. The husband had lots of issues finding work as a teacher (warning to anyone in Victoria wanting to study education that they lie about how many jobs are actually available) and had to work as an emergency teacher, which wasn’t always very easy. I wasn’t always easy to stay optimistic and to keep looking for him. In fact it was damned hard, but the good thing is that he’s got a full time job next year teaching something that he really loves, multimedia.

My work hasn’t been easy either. I changed departments because my department got taken over and it was a tough transition working with new people, different equipment, different politics. Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s been great at my new workplace and it’s much closer to home, butI really miss my old team. I was very lucky to have had the time with them that I did. Part of what made it hard was that I find it difficult to let go of the past. I have to work on living in the present and enjoying the time I have instead of dwelling in the past.

On the resolution front some have been a success and some not so much. I almost finished Project 365 except for the one day that I accidentally missed. Although it is a leap year so technically I did do the whole 365 days. Most of the photos are pretty rubbish, but some of them were pretty good. I think I have improved my photography, maybe not as much as I would have liked, but still. Little steps. My macro lens got a lot of use this year, and I’m hoping next year I’ll be able to actually use my expensive flash (why did you buy it if you don’t use it? I can hear the husband saying now). I have to be a bit more selective as well next year, quality over quantity, because it gets overwhelming to sort through!

I can finally run/jog 5km. I’m pretty proud of myself for that. I even managed to do 8km for the Mother’s Day Classic. I think I am a bit fitter but still not where I would like to be. I’d like to get rid of some excess weight so that my work shirts and pants fit me properly again. I can’t seem to shift it, but hopefully with a bit more effort next year I’ll be able to do it and feel happier with myself. I also discovered Blogilates this year and will hopefully continue it into the new year. Cassey Ho is so cheerful, but really does make you do good workouts and the best thing is that I don’t have to join a gym.

I read more than I have previously, but still not enough. I think I need to stay off Pinterest and the Vogue forums to be able to achieve that goal! The internet is too much of a distraction. Pinterest and Instagram were new discoveries for me. I know, they’ve been around for a while, but I really love Pinterest. There’s a lot of junk on there, but also very pretty things to look at. I like pretty things.

On the home front we obviously didn’t save anything for a house for obvious reasons and our rent went up $20 a week (greedy landlord), but on the plus side we haven’t been evicted (yet!) like our last place. I still love living here. I can walk to my new work, it’s close to shops, not too far from catching up with friends and family, and the best part is that it’s in a beautiful tree-lined street. We’ll be looking at saving this year and hopefully buying some time before we’re 30.

Part of not saving for a house was also that we decided to go for an overseas trip. New Zealand was amazing and so beautiful. We did so many things for the first time like bungy jumping, white water rafting, sea kayaking, swimming with dolphins, Zorbing, glacier hike, caving, having a go on a segway, canyon swing, shotover jet… These are all things I can now cross off my bucket list and will be things I’d love to do with my kids (when I have them of course). It was an amazing trip and I have so many lovely memories to store away now.

I also tried a lot of new things, like different food and restaurants, went camping for the first time ever (and enjoyed it), went to a French music festival, went to a few weddings, took lots of photos, saw museums… I hope to keep trying new things in the new year. It’s good to branch out a bit sometimes.

On the creative side of things like craft, DIY, language, and music, I didn’t finish any projects I set out to achieve, so they’ll all be carried over to next year. I made a start though by relocating the piano. The husband does make fun of me for really only playing like 3 songs, so I’ll have to rectify that. I didn’t make any improvement to any language… I’ll have to try harder next year. Maybe enrolling in a short course or something will give me some motivation.

Phew, that was a long post. Overall it’s been a pretty challenging year, but there have also been some pretty good parts of it too. I look forward to seeing what 2013 brings.

Resolutions 2012

It’s that time of year again, at the end of another eventful year, to take the time to reflect, take stock, and plan for the next year. I’ve never been a big fan of resolutions, but this year I’m going to set some (reasonable) goals and achieve them. I think sometimes I end up drifting along in life and just taking things as they come and then realising that a whole year has gone again. This year has gone entirely too fast and I realised that I haven’t really achieved anything I’ve wanted to do because I have abstract ideas instead of concrete goals. So I shall write some reasonable goals down here and check back in a year’s time to tick them off.

Photography

I guess being predominantly a photography blog this should be number one. I’m going to start my own project 365 (details to come), which knowing me will probably denigrate into a project 52 (photo a week)… or most likely a project 12 (photo a month). A photo a day seems doable, right? I also need to put more photos around the house. I know I’m still renting so I don’t put in that much effort, but I really should make it feel more like home. To achieve this goal I will get some Magnetic Photo Rope from Photojojo.

Piano

First goal is to get off my ass, call a mover, and get my (parent’s) piano relocated to my place. My actual goal is to learn at least one Chopin waltz and one Chopin nocturne and play it reasonably well. I think it’s definitely doable.

Guitar

Last year I borrow a guitar from my cousin’s boyfriend. I played with it for a week and then my fingers hurt too much and I gave up. So the goal is to firstly learn how to tune it properly and then to learn ONE song, to be determined. I’m thinking maybe something Coldplay. Repetitive chords seems easy enough to do.

Get fit

I am extremely unfit. The only exercise I really do is to walk to the train station and the incidental walking that I do at work, which in my defence is sometimes a lot. I have put on a few kilos in the last few years and I have an almost permanent food baby. So I want to be able to run 5km, following the couch to 5km running program http://www.c25k.com/. I have already started going for the occasional run but it usually ends up more like when Homer Simpson runs, ie lots of coughing and wheezing and acting like I’m about to die. I would also like to work on my flexibility, so some stretching and at home yoga maybe once a week would be doable. Maybe I will start swimming again… I haven’t decided exactly what I’m doing yet, just throwing ideas out there. Also while getting fit is my primary goal, the side effect of losing a little weight and feeling healthier will also help me to fit into my work shirts again. I’m starting to hulk out of them and it’s not because the washing machine is shrinking them, well maybe a little.

Be more organised

I’m forever forgetting things because there is too much clutter in my head of things to do and see. So the goal is to start getting rid of that clutter by keeping a diary and to do lists through my google calendar. I am also going to clean up some junk on my laptop so that I can feel more in control of things. Also try to keep the house a little neater and set timelines for getting chores done rather than just doing it when I feel like it, which is never.

Finish knitting projects

I have a habit of starting things which I never finish, which then just sit in a cupboard somewhere collecting dust. I will finish a baby blanket for my cousin’s son due at the end of February (eeek, two months to knit about 3/4 of a blanket when it’s already taken like 3 months), and a spiral scarf for my mum, which I may end up keeping for myself by next winter. This may mean I will have to knit two scarves. I would also like to knit a jumper, but I think this is being too ambitious.

Bake more

I like baking but I am also lazy. For close friends and family I will attempt to bake a cake or some kind of sweet to extend my cooking skills and give them diabetes or at least push the scales that way. One that note I will chose some recipes out of the many many I have bookmarked over the years to actually make instead of just drooling over the pictures. I resolve to be more adventurous and also by doing that eat less processed foods. On that note, I will try to eat less processed food and more fresh foods. This may or may not include organic, I’m not sure if I have the budget for that yet.

Read

I read a lot everyday, but mostly on the internet and blogs and news sites. For a long time I used to only read journal articles and textbooks, which may be the reason I stopped reading for leisure. I feel that my brain is slowly turning into mush, so it’s time to get back into reading actual books. I think one a month will be reasonable considering that I am a relatively slow reader. I have plenty on my bookshelf that are half finished (I told you I never complete anything I start) so I’ve got lots to choose from.

Be more social

I have a blog. Is that enough said about my social life? I will say yes to going out more, find new things to do, and also organise more regular meet ups with my friends. That said I still love sitting at home sometimes playing the lastest Lego game with Mr Cookie Loves Milk.

Save money for house deposit (or squander it on a holiday)

Since Mr Cookie Loves Milk has been studying this year it’s been a bit tough to save on one income. Hopefully he’ll get a job next year and we should be better off to actually start saving instead of eating to the savings. What’s a reasonable amount to save? Maybe $30K? I’ve been trying to be good with not getting too many clothes and unnecessary items, but I still like to indulge once in a while.

Languages

I want to refine my Cantonese so that I can communicate better with my parents and relatives. I have also been meaning to learn Vietnamese for, I don’t know, the last 10 years so this is going to be the year. I’ll get Pimsleur’s Vietnamese which I will go through at some stage this year, maybe a lesson a week seems reasonable.

Stress Less

Easier said than done because I am by definition a stress head.

So just to recap my list

  • Project 365 (well 366 being a leap year)
  • Make home more homely
  • Relocate/steal piano
  • Chopin waltz
  • Chopin nocturne
  • Guitar song
  • Couch to 5km
  • Yoga
  • Keep calendar and to do lists
  • Clean unwanted documents from laptop
  • Clear clutter and sort junk
  • Be a better housewife ie clean more often
  • Finish knitting baby blanket
  • Finish knitting spiral scarf x2
  • Bake cakes (also known as the diabetes goal)
  • Read a book a month
  • Don’t be a cave dwelling hermit
  • Save $30,000 (contingent on being dual income, fingers crossed)
  • Fix up Cantonese
  • Learn (some) Vietnamese
  • Learn to relax more and worry less

I’ll be back to edit and update!