If you’ve been here before, you’ll know I love making yearly lists of things I want to do before the 31st of December hits again – so welcome to the 2017 bucket list! This year, it’s a few weeks late, and a little different.
I feel like October is the perfect time for picnics, no matter where you are in the world. In the northern hemisphere everyone’s getting excited about autumn leaves, pumpkins and tartan blankets. Down here, we’re making the most of the sun and warm weather before the heat gets completely insane.
Picnics are social, fun and eating outside is actually good for you, but so far this season, I’ve found it hard to organise one. People are happy to go out for breakfast, sit in the park with sushi or even organise a full blown barbecue at home, but everyone seems to think picnics are hard. And I blame Pinterest.
These days, it’s like you didn’t actually have a picnic unless your perfect plaid blanket was covered in supermodel friends, an elaborate cheese platter and a butt load of pastel macarons with champagne flutes and silver knives. But let’s be real – you really just need some snacks, a patch of grass and just other person you really like.
Armed thanks to the lovely people at Talking Tables*, I think I’ve managed to find the perfect balance. Here are my tips for pulling together a picnic that looks cute AF and and takes next to no effort, so you can sit back and actually enjoy the food and sunshine.
Sneaky Cards – Play It Forward
Looking for a little nudge (or 55 little nudges) that will motivate you to learn new things, get out of your comfort zone and do more random acts of kindness?
Millennial Guilt – Time To Stop Being So Hard On Ourselves
Guys, welcome to my first ranty post. It’s been coming for a while now, but one more passing comment pushed me over the edge. So strap yourself in and lets hope I make sense.
Ever since I was around 12-13 years old and my mum brought home the 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens, I’ve been varying degrees of obsessed with self development and books which encourage it – who doesn’t want to be a super happy kick ass efficiency ninja with an awesome bucket list?
While I’ve taken bits and pieces from some of these books (and others are still sitting on my shelf or in my Kindle as a symbol of my good intentions – I’m looking at you, grown up, original 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People) every now and then you stumble on one that is just one lightbulb moment after another.
Below are 5 of my favourite books, ever. Some are specifically self development books, others just came along at the right time. They’ve changed my life in one way or another, and have all played a big part in the loose philosophy that kinda guides this blog.
Read on and reach your efficient, bucket list ninja best, and let me know about your favourites!
When was your last “first time?”
I’ve been at my new job for nearly two months now, and life has definitely slowed right down. I’ve actually managed to chill, and spend time on the low-key things I enjoy – blogging, reading, playing video games.
So now more than ever, I’m making an effort to mix things up – because holy wow I’ve learned to relax and isn’t it amazing? If I don’t get out and about I might become one with my couch and cat (joking – Scout doesn’t like me that much).
If there’s one thing that will throw a spanner in the works it’s doing, eating, or trying something brand new – no matter how small. I’ve said it before – if you feel like your life has gotten a bit same old, same old, doing something for the first time can be the difference between routine and rut that will stop your brain turning to mush.
Here are a few things I’ve done for the first time in the last two weeks:
5 days ago, I resigned from a job that I love.
It’s a job that has given me three years of excitement, experience, free champagne and some great friends, but for a while now I’ve known that it wasn’t where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.
But as ‘carpe diem’ as I can be when it comes to skydiving, going to Japan for a long weekend and drinking kava from a plastic drum in a ni-Vanuatu lady’s front yard, I can be an absolute wimp when it comes to life’s big decisions. So if we want to be specific, that “while” has been six months of stressing about loyalty to my boss and that uniquely millennial first world problem of wondering if I was living up to my full potential and following my passion (side note: I don’t believe that everyone has a “passion” in life. But that’s a whole other post on its own) and if it was going to be a case of the-grass-is-greener.
But after a lot of back and forth a brilliant opportunity finally slapped me in the face, and in two weeks I start a great new job! As much as I love my old one, I’d been there since I was 19 so this is basically the start of a whole new era – one with a lot of potential for growth and the handy bonus of a lot more spare time for getting my butt (and my blog) back into shape. And I’m ridiculously happy.
Extra bonus: the team at the old job are all very happy for me.
I hope anyone else sitting on the fence (and in my own 6 months up there, I found a few of you) finds this and realises it’s time to jump. But the real reason for this post is to give a massive THANK YOU to the six people it took to push me off. Without the reality checks they delivered in one way or another, I’d probably still be up there – hopefully they can give you a shove too.
1, 2 & 3 – My mum, Brandon, and an ex-colleague named Laura
for convincing me that it was time to put myself first for a change, and that I’m well and truly young enough for some trial-and-error in the career department.
4 – Stefania from The Something New
I still don’t really know how Stefania stumbled across my Instagram over a year ago, but I’m so glad that she did. Stefania and her blog manage to put into words so many of the things that I believe about life and getting the most out of it, so almost every quote she posts seems to strike a chord. The one which she has annoyingly (but only because it prompted a change I was too wimpy to act on at first) repeated that finally tipped the scales was the below – so thank you Stefania (and Robin Sharma).
5 – Amber Hawken
Amber was one of my boot camp trainers years ago, and got me through a lot of tough times as a 19 year old fumbling my way through uni and a new city – usually by yelling at me to run faster up a hill (it worked), sometimes with coffee dates. I haven’t seen her in years, but thanks to her new ventures I still get the no-bullshit Amber brand of tough love, just through Youtube videos rather than boxing sessions. The below is the first one that I watched – it really ripped the rug out from under me and made me recognise my stimulus addiction (and why I had it), and I’m forever grateful.
6 – Phoebe from Little Grey Box
I’ve always loved Phoebe’s writing, and insane jealousy of her travels is probably the only reason I’m able to save any money at all. So a few months ago, just when I’d finally realised “maybe it’s time to move on,” I went along to her talk at the Apple Store in Brisbane. I can’t for the life of me remember what her words were exactly, but in speaking about leaving a desk job (admittedly not something I plan to do) she reinforced what I’d kinda-sorta-maybe started to think for myself – that even if you’re not 100% sure what the next step is and if it will work, that’s no reason to stay somewhere that isn’t the best place for you anymore. So thank you Phoebe! Now to just work out those braids…
Next step – try not to cry on my last day at the office, and to book myself back into boot camp!
If you’ve had any tough love reality checks lately, I’d love to hear about them xx
Trust In Humanity Tuesday #13: 23 Ways To Brighten Someone’s Day
I’ve been jotting things in my note book for a while now, trying to have a few great posts lined up before I got back into this blogging thing, but today I thought “fuck it” and here I am.* Carpe diem and all that. So welcome to the first Trust in Humanity Tuesday since September! This one’s a little different.
Fun fact: even if you think there are no nice people in the world, just be a nice person yourself and then there’s at least one. Most likely more – it’s contagious. Then bam, faith in humanity = restored.
For the past few weeks I’ve been obsessed with random acts of kindness and generally just brightening people’s days. I’ve been writing for More Love Letters, sending people flowers and making an effort to smile and say hi to strangers in elevators. I think it started because I had one really good week and I subconsciously wanted to spread the good vibes around? I don’t know. But I do know that when you do nice things for other people, they get happier. And that makes you happier in a way that other things can’t. And when you’re happier, strangers are friendlier, the people around you are lovelier, and very very few people seem like complete dicks.
So this week’s Trust In Humanity Tuesday us about taking that trust into your own hands – no pep talks from kids dressed up as presidents required (although that does help). Here are a couple of my favourite, super easy ways to brighten someone’s day – some for strangers, some for people you know well:
- Send someone flowers (small businesses like Poco Posy make it super easy and affordable to do this regularly).
- Pay for the person behind you at the cafe, or buy a suspended coffee (find a cafe that offers suspended coffees in your area here)
- Offer tissues to someone who has been crying. I always carry one of those tiny purse packs for this reason – let’s be real, those things are never enough if you’re actually sick so I’m fairly sure this was what they’re meant for. This might not fix their day, but it will make it a little less shit, at least for a moment.
- Send a text to someone you haven’t spoken to in ages, reminding them of one of your favourite memories, or congratulating them on a recent achievement.
- Buy a train/bus/ferry ticket from the fare machine and give it to a stranger heading into the station.
- Leave a tip (or if you’re in America or somewhere that it’s mandatory, leave a bigger tip).
- Sign up to volunteer – mentor a kid, be a Big Issue pitch pal, help a refugee with their English, whatever – it’s less immediate, but the rewards will be greater.
- Write a letter to a loved one.
- Or write a letter to a stranger
- Buy a magazine that you know a friend or family member would love and then fill it with sticky notes – mark your favourite articles, comment on ridiculous images, relate things to inside jokes or just notes saying “this reminded me of you.” Then mail it to them (my mum did this for me once, and I loved it).
- Make someone feel welcome – send a text to your cousin’s new girlfriend saying you like seeing him happy and can’t wait to get to know her, say hi to new neighbours, organise casual coffee or drinks so the new person at work gets to know everyone outside the office.
- Buy a six pack of beer for the construction workers you see every day to share on Friday afternoon (as long as there aren’t too many of them. Unless you’re happy to upgrade to a carton, in which case, yay you!)
- If you’re not usually the one to do it, cook or clean before your partner/housemate/family gets home.
- Know someone who’s travelling to somewhere you’ve been before? Buy them a voucher to a cafe, restaurant or attraction that you loved when you were there.
- Compliment someone’s smile/clothes/hair – some may say it’s shallow, but it works.
- Talk to that older person you’ve sat next to on the bus.
- Help a mother lift her baby’s pram/stroller over a kerb or onto a step – don’t feel weird about getting so close to the baby, I’ve never once seen someone turn this help down.
- Write someone a thank you note for something they did a long time ago and let them know it left a lasting impression.
- Donate clothes or toiletries to a charity who will give them to someone who needs them – homeless, victims of domestic abuse, refugees etc.
- Pitch in so your colleague who has been stuck in the office late all week can get out a little earlier than expected.
- Stop and give directions to the lost-looking person with a map.
- Buy something from that stallholder at the markets who isn’t getting much interest. Chat to them about their products, buy something and if you like it, give them an awesome review on Facebook.
- Reach out to that Facebook “friend” who you seems to be having a rough time lately, even if you don’t know them that well.
Let me know if you set out to do any of them, or if you’ve got a few day-making secrets up your sleeves! Comment below or hit me up at email@example.com
*after the recent talk I went to by Phoebe from Little Grey Box, I’ve also decided to write more naturally – this means I’ll still say “lovely” and “brilliant” a lot, but the f-bombs are coming – sorry in advance).
I know everyone says it on the first of every month, but seriously, I can’t believe it’s November. I feel like yesterday I was drinking sangria and freezing my ass off for my birthday, and now the jacarandas are almost finished blooming and I can start planning my Christmas baking!
It’s also the first time in a while that I’ve been excited about a new month. From September to mid-October I had a few weeks of serious burn out. I won’t go into it in detail, but I couldn’t sleep, my mind was fried, my skin was a mess and I imagine I was a fking nightmare to be around. A lot of this came from my inability to switch off – whether at work, on public transport or at the gym, my habit of always doing five things at once had gotten out of control.
Eventually I snapped (shocker). So in a daze, I came home early, had a cup of tea, went to the gym, read on my Kindle and went to bed – and the next day I almost felt “normal” again. I’ve always kind of laughed about my short attention span and lack of interest in “relaxing,” incorporating it as part of my identity, which it still is. But when I felt so much better after just one evening of switching off, I’ve come to realise that it’s something I should be trying to work with (and sometimes against) rather than embracing.
SO my November goals largely come back to that burn-out – trying to make ongoing habits out of slowing the fuck down and paying attention to what’s going on around me, so that it doesn’t happen again! Being busy makes me happy, but I’m learning to be busy in ways that don’t involve doing several things (at least two involving screens) at once. Others are there just for fun.
NOVEMBER GOALS & CHALLENGES
1. Stick to my new evening routine
Now whenever I get home from work, before I do anything else I have to make a cup of tea, and write down five things that made me happy that day. I still feel a bit silly doing it, but it forces me to slow down and single-task – usually for the first time since waking up that day – in a way that makes me happy rather than resentful of slowing down 😛
2. Have a proper conversation with 3 new people every week
This was inspired by this article, which came along just when I needed it.
3. No more mindless TV-watching
There is nothing wrong with enjoying TV, but I wasn’t enjoying it. I got to the point where I thought I was “bored” if I didn’t also have the TV on in the background while I was blogging/emailing/cooking dinner. The reverse was also true – I couldn’t watch whichever show I had lined up unless I was also cleaning, stretching or playing a game on my phone. I’d then get to the end of 3 hours and have no idea what had happened. New rule – no more than two episodes at a time, and no other screens going.
4. Write at least one letter or postcard every weekend
I still have a massive pile of postcards left from my trip, and I also want to get back into #moreloveletters
5. Go to the drive in movies
I know this was on my 2015 bucket list already, but a new drive-in has just opened a little way down the road from me, so now’s the time!
6. ACTUALLY make a start on my Drawing with the Right Side of the Brain book
Because now it’s just getting ridiculous.
7. Use Pinterest more often
For Christmas baking to-do lists and general inspiration.
Do you have any goals for this month, or tips on overcoming multi-tasking addiction?
It’s Friday, and I am most definitely not getting down. Instead I’m sitting on the couch, tapping away at my laptop while pasta boils on the stove, and am settling in for an awesome weekend of no plans. And when I say no plans, I don’t mean spontaneous, throw-a-dart-at-a-map-and-go-get-a-cocktail-whereever-it-lands-or-road-trip-to-the-beach no plans, I mean for the first weekend in months and months, I have no commitments and no obligation to leave the house, and I am SO EXCITED FOR THAT.
Unfortunately, I know myself a little too well, and actually doing nothing/binge-watching a few series on Netflix (as amazing as it sounds right now) won’t actually made me happy – I will arrive at 7pm Sunday full of regret.
Humans like to accomplish things, no matter how tiny – it makes us feel happy and fulfilled. Luckily for myself (and for you, if you’ve reached a similar point of near-burnout and sorta-not-really want to spend a weekend doing nothing), a lifetime of being both creative and slightly lazy means I am an expert in doing things that teeter on the edge between nothing and something.
Below is a list you can refer back to on no-plan weekends, of 31 things you can do on a lazy weekend at home (some while watching Netflix) to make sure you don’t hate yourself on Monday morning* – small things that don’t feel like a chore, are kinda fun and give you a teeny sense of achievement. You go Glen Coco.
- Start a diet/healthy-eating kick – it’s still just eating like you would on a weekend, but you can feel like you’re achieving something.
- Or go the complete opposite direction, bake a cake and eat the whole thing yourself.
- Just cook something – preferably something new that you have to use an actual recipe book with gorgeous photos for.
- Do a massive jigsaw puzzle – maybe I’m weird, but there is something so satisfying about plonking a puzzle piece in its place.
- Bring back snail mail and write a letter to a friend or relative.
- … or to a complete stranger.
- Do some colouring.
- Watch a classic movie that’s been on your to-watch list for a while
- Try your hand at the Countries of The World test and see how many you can name in 15 minutes (I scored 111 the first time).
- Do a new exercise routine from Youtube.
- Tidy and clean all the surfaces in your house – with cheesy music playing so you can still enjoy it.
- Order takeout from somewhere new.
- Learn the cup song
- Practice doing your hair/makeup/nails.
- Go for a walk.
- List stuff you don’t want for sale online (check out what I’m selling off here #subtle)
- Read a fun self-help/motivational book like this one.
- Fix that thing on your blog that’s been bothering you.
- Schedule a week’s worth of tweets.
- Download Duolingo and start learning.
- Call someone you haven’t spoke to in a while.
- Clean out your “fuck it” drawer/box/shelf. If you have one, you know what it is. If you don’t, I salute you.
- Delete apps you don’t use, or unsubscribe from 5 email newsletters you never open anymore.
- Go for a leisurely trip to somewhere that does good coffee (but only good coffee – ain’t nobody got time to leave the house for Starbucks).
- Go through the photos on your phone or computer and order some prints – bring back actual “albums.”
- Clean the old receipts out of your wallet/purse/handbag.
- Try to teach your pet a new trick (or just to stay off the damn kitchen benches).
- Resist the urge to stay up late and try to reset your body clock.
*This doesn’t work if you do ALL of them. Then you’d still hate yourself
What’s on your agenda for the two days off? Let me know so I can live vicariously through you while I do my nails in front of Audrey Hepburn movies.