How to Learn More About Wine Without Spending a Fortune

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7 Reasons I’m Obsessed with Secret Bottle

I love wine and I really want to learn more about it, but I hate shopping for it. A lot.

I will wander around bottle shops (sorry, liquor stores) for an embarrassing amount of time, trying not to judge things by the label design and/or price tag before buying something that is basically a compromise between the two (not too expensive, but not too tacky either*).

And then once I get it home, I rarely finish the bottle. Not because I’ve gone in blind and found something I don’t like, but because Brandon doesn’t drink it (although I’m still trying to find one he likes) and I’m not the type to polish a bottle off by myself on an average night at home. This has always made traditional wine subscription services seem a little impractical and a huge waste.

But recently I’ve found something that solves all my problems – the Secret Bottle Wine Tasting Club.

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Get Back In Shape: 4 Truth Bombs for “Formerly Fit Girls”

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The Truth About Being A “Formerly Fit Girl”

At 6am tomorrow, I was supposed to go back to the boot camp that I used to know and love, after having two years off. To celebrate, yesterday I bought a new pair of Nike tights and a shiny new Nutribullet 900 (green smoothies, I’ve missed you). Today, I found out the whole thing was shut down a week ago.

I’m feeling pretty bummed.  Not just because a company/brand that I have spruiked and defended for years on end has shut down the boot camp and cancelled my membership without telling me (long story), but because now I’ve realised that if I’m going to get serious about this getting back to being my healthy, productive, early-bird former self, I’ll have to find a new gym or training group (I’m not the home workout, self-motivating type). After some convincing from the local club’s owner, I’ve just signed up for a trial at F45 Training so it’s safe to say I probably won’t be able to walk next week, and I’m terrified.

But at the same time as it terrifies me, it’s also a little bit liberating. Because I’ll be walking in as a complete newbie, rather than going back to my old stomping ground where people remember me as one of the fittest. It’s forced me to realise that I’m currently unfit, on my way to being fit. And not this Formerly Fit bullshit I’ve been telling myself.

Wondering wtf I’m talking about? I’ve been a Formerly Fit Girl for two years now. A Formerly Fit Girl (I’m making this definition up as I go, so bear with me) is someone who used to be in fantastic shape, and isn’t anymore – but doesn’t hesitate to remind people that she “used to be really fit.”

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5 Books To Make You A Super Happy Efficiency Ninja (probably)

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!

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June So Far: Eight New Firsts

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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:

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On, Up, and Thanks For The Reality Checks

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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).

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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

Jessi

 

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23 Ways to Brighten Someone’s Day

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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:

  1. Send someone flowers (small businesses like Poco Posy make it super easy and affordable to do this regularly).
  2. 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)Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 11.05.37 pm
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Buy a train/bus/ferry ticket from the fare machine and give it to a stranger heading into the station.
  6. Leave a tip (or if you’re in America or somewhere that it’s mandatory, leave a bigger tip).
  7. 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.
  8. Write a letter to a loved one.
  9. Or write a letter to a stranger
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  10. 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).
  11. 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.
  12. 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!)
  13. If you’re not usually the one to do it, cook or clean before your partner/housemate/family gets home.
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  14. 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.
  15. Compliment someone’s smile/clothes/hair – some may say it’s shallow, but it works.
  16. Talk to that older person you’ve sat next to on the bus.
  17. 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.
  18. Write someone a thank you note for something they did a long time ago and let them know it left a lasting impression.
  19. Donate clothes or toiletries to a charity who will give them to someone who needs them – homeless, victims of domestic abuse, refugees etc.
  20. Pitch in so your colleague who has been stuck in the office late all week can get out a little earlier than expected.
  21. Stop and give directions to the lost-looking person with a map.
  22. 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.
  23. 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 fullofliving@gmail.com

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*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).

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November Goals: Learning to Slow Down & Stop Multitasking

My multitasking burn out and learning to slow down in November

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.

Learning to switch off and single-task

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?

xx J

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The 14 Day Minimalism Challenge (and how I sorta succeeded)

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STILL don’t know what a good “minimalist” image is. So here’s me on a hill being mindful

As some of you might recall, I recently attempted a 14 day minimalism challenge.

I wish I could say this is the post where I share my successfully 14 day mindfulness diary and declare I’m now a thoroughly cool, calm and collected person. But I think the fact that it has now been 25 days tells you that this is not that post.

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14 Day Minimalism Challenge

This image is minimalist, right? From Death to the Stock Photo
This image is minimalist, right? From Death to the Stock Photo

I am not a minimalist by any sense of the word.

I have a case of shelves entirely dedicated to decorations, souvenirs and trinkets.
My wardrobe is certainly not a carefully curated rack of crisp monochrome.
And I find it incredible hard to do one thing at a time.

The last point is the only one that bothers me. While I’m happy with my collection of mementos and I will never restrict myself to wearing black, white and the occasional beige, I would love for my mind and attention spam to be a little less cluttered – right now I’m typing this out, watching House reruns on Netflix, drinking tea and trying to coax my kitten out from under the lounge.

I’m one of those people who finds it easier to make a change when it has the word “challenge” slapped on it. Work has been hectic and my thoughts are all over the place and I wanted to change it up, so the 14 Day Minimalism Challenge in May’s ‘Less is More’ issue of Women’s Fitness magazine came along just at the right time. 

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