While resolution-setting took the blogosphere by storm, I sat quietly and let it pass me by. I didn’t set any resolutions this year.
So far, January has consisted of me going off my medication, so that I can to go onto another type. This will mark my sixth anti-depressant, and is pretty much the last one on the market that I haven’t tried (that is suitable for my particular situation). I have a fairly high drug tolerance, so was on the highest dose of medication when I began to go off it. Basically, that means that my January has been full of anxiety, exhaustion, negativity and emptiness. Not exactly the ‘fresh start’ that I had hoped the new year would be.
I didn’t set any resolutions this year, because I don’t need to set myself up for disappointment, for failure.
In 2015, I want to keep trying to make my life better; I want to be healthier, stronger, and more on track with my goals. That’s it – I’m not going to set any more specific parameters than that.
I know there are so many of us out there, who are struggling just to make it through each day. I wish I could say ‘it will all be ok!’, but I can’t. What I can say, is that the chances of life getting better are significantly smaller if we stop trying. That’s all we can really do – keep putting one foot in front of the other, and hope that one day things will be better.
I suppose that’s what it all comes down to. Hope.
I hope that 2015 is the year that things get better for all of us.
Happy 2015! It’s a new year, and a fresh start! I’m looking forward to putting 2014 behind me, and striving for better in 2015. I know one thing I really should be doing is exercising more… but being the Queen of excuses (including the somewhat valid depression and chronic fatigue), I often find myself avoiding the treadmill in favour of coffee with a friend, or a good book. However, when the lovely Kaitlin Gardner, from An Apple per Day, asked whether I’d like her to tell you guys about her newly discovered exercise routine, I was keen – not only because it;s always nice to be inspired by someone’s new discoveries, but because I’ve actually tried this one myself and had a blast! So, without further ado, here’s Kaitlin!
There are times when I need a workout but the weather is too bad to go outside for a run. The treadmill at the gym is just too monotonous for me, so I look for a change of pace. That’s when aqua aerobics gives me a great workout, and an enjoyable experience at the same time.
The basics. Aqua aerobics doesn’t have to be complicated – if I am in the water doing something that raises my heart rate, that can qualify as a water workout. Part of the appeal is the simplicity – I don’t have to figure out that weight machine at the gym, I can just pop in the water and go aqua walking and I’ll get a great workout. There are a lot of benefits to water workouts and since I’m not much of a swimmer, it gives me a way to enjoy being in the pool. Here are some more resources with additional information:
The gentle part. The water provides a low impact option, which makes it appealing compared to being on a running trail. My legs don’t get as sore when I work out in the water, because my feet land so gently during an exercise. This is because of buoyancy – in the water my body only has to support a fraction of its own weight, so I feel lighter just being in the water. I injured my knee one time and had to take a break for running. I could still work out in the water while letting the injury heal.
The variety. Sometimes at the gym, I will fall into a rut, and go do that same workout over and over. The water provides a perfect way to get a break in my routine. If I’m stressed and need a calm down session, I can go to an aqua tai chi or yoga class. If I need a really vigorous workout, I will go for a kick boxing session. Trying to kick in the water really challenges me. If I’m feeling adventurous, I will go to an aqua Zumba class, where I can do all those sexy hip swinging moves. I’m too shy to try that on land, but in the pool, most of my body is underwater, and if I fall off balance and miss a step, no one can see. If I don’t want to think about what to do next, I just go to a group class and follow the instructor.
Aqua jogging. We all have favourite exercise routines, and for me, it’s hard to beat aqua jogging. I go to our community indoor pool when the lap lanes are open, jump in a lane and begin moving up and down with a good jogging posture. I can get a great cardio burn because of the resistance element of water. I wear some ratty old tennis shoes to protect my feet from the rough pool bottom, and put a water bottle at the end of the lane to stay hydrated. It’s hard to tell when you’re doing it, but you really do sweat in the water.
The health part. In the water, I get a benefit that I can’t get on land. My heart rate will be around 13 percent lower – on average, that’s 17 fewer beats per minute. This is thought to happen because of the lessened impact of gravity and the lower water temperature. This means that I can work just as hard as I would in the gym, and put less stress on my heart. I like that advantage.
When I walk away from a water workout, it’s usually with a smile on my face, because I’ve gotten a solid workout, and enjoyed myself doing it.
Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside to discover interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint watercolours. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.
When I gave Aqua Zumba a shot, a friend and I essentially flailed about in the pool for an hour. I’m a true water baby, and a million times better at water sports then I am on land, but even I struggled to keep my feet beneath me – but it was so much fun! I don’t know if you can break a sweat in the water, but you can definitely get out of breath. Aqua Zumba was a fun way to exercise without it really feeling like exercising! That, to me, is the best way to get your heart rate up and that number on the scale down. Now, if only I can follow Kaitlin’s own advice for a healthier 2015! Head on over and check out her blog – it’s full of great, and realistic, tips for a healthier life.
I can’t believe it’s already July – it seems like days ago that I wrote last month’s goals! It’s more than half way through the year, and time is flying.
These last few weeks have been unexpectedly hectic… but I’ve actually done ok with my June goals! I’ve kept on top of my reading, and my Etsy store is still on track to be opened this month! I’ve also been decent with my blog planner – I wrote several posts for the blogosphere’s mental heath awareness month, which helped keep me on track (you can check them out here and here if you’re interested).
The reasons I’ve been so busy are because;
1) It’s school holiday time in South Australia, which means I’ve been working my holiday job teaching holiday programs for kids. It’s actually pretty fun, even if the first dozen classes I’m teaching are ‘World Cup Soccer’ themed, which is SO not my forte! I’m really not the sporty kind! I’m looking forward to my ‘Superhero’ themed classes that start next week, that will be less stressful!!
2) I got a ‘real’ job! I’m working one day a week at a hospital in their Admin/HR department. I interviewed one day, and started the next – I wasn’t expecting it, so it put me on the back foot! Plus, the cafe at the hospital is currently short-staffed, so I’ve been requisitioned to work about four half days a week in there, until they fill the empty position. Everyone is lovely, so I don’t mind the work – but fitting in both jobs, plus my holiday job, has been pretty exhausting!
3) Just today, I signed the contracts and bought a house! This is more than mildly terrifying, but also exciting, obviously. We’ve been looking for awhile, because my Dad doesn’t really want me living here at home anymore (oh, the joys of clashing with your parents), and put an offer in on a place late last week. Today it became official! It’s going to be great having my own space, and I’m looking forward to settling in – but in between now and then, it’s a battle between my family and I about money, and bills, and furniture… I’m lucky in that I can borrow some money from my family to help me get set up, on top of the money I saved for the deposit. But borrowing from them means that I will constantly be guilted about it, and they think they have the right to make all the decisions about what I can and can not put in my new house (like bookshelves for example…). Our family has a weird dynamic. It’s going to be stressful until I’m settled in and have some breathing space – but I’m looking forward to it!
Anyway, those are the main things that have kept me driving from one end of Adelaide to another this month! Onto my goals for July!
1. Diversify! As much as I love books, and find those posts easiest to write, I really want to diversify what I write about. I’m passionate about travel, so want to start posting more on that topic.
2. Organise! My blog organisation is a mess, and it’s driving me crazy, so I need to sort that out. Plus, I have an overflowing stack of papers to file, and folders to go through, preferably before I move out.
3. Keep applying for jobs! While I’m working overtime for the next few weeks, after the school holidays are over and the cafe hires a permanent manager, I’ll be down to one day of work a week… so I still need to look for some work. Preferably in a field that I’m remotely interested in!
I think that will keep me busy, on top of everything else that life throws my way. Fingers crossed for a productive July!
You ca check out my fellow goal-chasers over at the beautiful Melyssa’s blog, the Nectar Collective. Join us!
Have you ever read a book that just stays with you for years, no matter how many good books you read in between? Today, I’m going to share one of those books with you, that’s stuck with me for nine years now (gosh, it’s scary to think that I discovered it in Year 10!). Why am I sharing it with you now? Well, it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and Uncorked Thoughts and Blog of Erised are hosting a blogger event, where we share our experiences and thoughts about Mental Health.
Now, I’m going to tell you about one of my favourite books – and it just so happens that it revolves around depression.
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta is the story of Francesca, as she navigates the treacherous waters of Year 11 in a school that only recently opened it’s super-traditional doors to girls. For most girls, leaving your best friends to go to a school your outspoken mother has chosen, and being surrounded by arrogant and/or smelly boys, would be enough to make high school difficult. However, when her beautiful, loving, loud mother suddenly stops getting out of bed in the morning, the usual high school woes pale in comparison to Francesca’s sudden new life.
This book is perfectly depicts how a vibrant, loving woman can turn into a shell of herself overnight – and how she won’t just snap out of it one day. But this book isn’t about Francesca’s mother. Really, it’s about how people’s loved ones cope, when the person they know suddenly isn’t there anymore.
As Francesca battles her way through the school year, she finds friendship in strange places. Sometimes she barely makes it through the school day, and other times she forgets for awhile what is happening at home. In many ways, the way that Francesca feels is also familiar to depression sufferers; sometimes getting through the day seems impossible, and other times you can forget the sadness for awhile.
The friendships that she makes are heartwarming, they literally make my heart ache with the desire to find such connections myself. None of the characters Marchetta writes are perfect; in fact, it’s their imperfections that make you love them all the more. Marchetta really has a talent for writing characters that leap of the page; her other books are equally fantastic and the characters just as riveting. Even better, she has written a sequel to Saving Francesca, called The Piper’s Son – set several years after the first book, and being just as enrapturing.
Not only is this book fantastic, but it’s meaningful on a deeper level – at least to me (and hopefully to other people who have experienced mental health in some way). I’ve never forgotten how it affected me; I’ve read it repeatedly, and each time I pick it up, it pulls me right back in. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Has anyone else read this book? Did it affect you in the same way? I’d love to know!
Welcome to MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH at Annabel & Alice! If you haven’t already, head on over to Blog of Erised to read more about all the great posts going up around the blogosphere this month, and participate in a great giveaway, all in aid of raising the awareness of mental health in the community.
Today I’m going to share something that was a great inspiration to me. As you may know (or not, but that’s ok!), I’ve struggled with severe depression and anxiety for many years, though it’s been much worse over the past two years I suppose. For a long time, I exerted a huge amount of energy putting on a cheerful front and acting like I was A-OK all the time. However, eventually, I just didn’t have the energy left to maintain that ‘Happy’ mask. As I sunk further into depression, people around me slowly backed away. I graduated law school, but I defied expectations of being an immediate success, and didn’t throw myself into the intellectual and time pressured environment that was corporate law.
I grew up in a home where success is measured more in monetary security than good deeds. As the ‘smart one’ of the family, there was no question that I would be anything other than a traditional success. When I strayed from the standard path of degree-graduation-job, people definitely didn’t know how to react. Family and fellow graduates alike were confused. Those that knew the part that my depression played in my decision not to pursue the long hours and harsh environment of corporate law were still baffled about how to deal with that. In choosing a different path, and admitting that I had a mental health issue, I had somehow become a failure in their eyes.
This, to me, meant two things. Firstly, I felt that I had disappointed everyone, and somehow failed to live up to my potential. Secondly, I was saddened that it was so hard to have an open discussion about mental health without being judged, especially seeing as it’s so common in today’s society.
With regards to the first issue, I was lucky enough to stumble upon some very wise words that I often remind myself of when feeling like depression has made me a failure. Whilst on placement in a law firm, towards the end of my degree, we had a workplace seminar on mental health. 50% of lawyers suffer from depression, and the numbers just keep rising. Although firms now encourage more of a work-life balance, the long hours and depressing subject matter still take a dreadful toll. It was during this session that we were shown a clip from Beyond Blue, an organisation dedicated to raising awareness of depression and anxiety.
The clip was an interview with Paul Menzies, an Australian QC. It focused on his struggle with depression, and how he fought the urge to pretend that everything was ‘fine’. Instead, he decided to take steps to gradually change things in his life that helped manage his depression, one step at a time. He ‘defied’ the stigma of depression, and is widely recognised as successful, by professional standards.
Seeing this very successful man publicly, and impressively, speak out about how depression impacted his career and how he bravely changed his lifestyle to better manage the condition, was inspirational. It not only gave me hope that the legal profession could adapt it’s practices to better suit the mental health needs of practitioners, but also showed me that success – whatever that may mean – and depression are not mutually exclusive.
Furthermore, his willingness to share his experiences with depression, and how that impacted his work and life, gave me hope that open discussions about mental health could become more acceptable. Here was this man, unafraid of what people might think of him, openly encouraging people to look outside of themselves when looking to manage their issues.
I think if he could do it, albeit in a more high-profile setting than my little ‘ole blog, then I can do it to – and if I can do it, then so can anyone! Initiatives like Mental Health Awareness Week are great ways to defeat the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety. The more we talk about it, the less foreign it will become, and the less likely those who suffer from mental health problems will feel ashamed of themselves, or feel that they have failed their friends and family.
You can find the interview that inspired me here:
I suppose I hope that by sharing this with you, I might help someone, somewhere, feel a little better about what they’re dealing with. If not, I hope that it will at least encourage you to be a little more open to talking about mental health with those you love or those who are suffering. If you need someone to talk to, check out Beyond Blue – they know what they’re talking about!
I seem to be dreadful at being ready to go with my Monthly Wishes at the beginning of the month; once again, it’s the second week of the month, but I’m here now! For those that don’t know, the idea of having a round up of goals for the month (or week!) belongs to Melyssa from the Nectar Collective. It’s nice to actually think about what I really want to achieve in a month, and be held accountable (in a nice, supportive way!) by the other bloggers in the link up.
I, as usual, had a hit-and-miss success rate with last months goals! I have been applying for heaps of jobs, but other than a day spent doing personality tests and basic literary/maths tests for one possible job, I haven’t heard anything back. Personally, I think spending five hours filling out those little circles on multiple choice tests indicates that I’m patient enough to handle anything! I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll get a call this week, telling me I’ve made it to the next round. As far as study goes, I feel really unsure as to what direction I need to take, which makes me very indecisive about what I should be studying…
This month, I’m going to work on having a positive attitude. Life is a little trying at the moment, but I should remember my ‘word of the year‘and focus on what makes me HAPPY!
With that in mind, here’s what I’m planning;
1. EDITORIAL CALENDAR – Once again, I’ve been dreadful sticking to my post plan; in fact, I’ve been awful about posting in general! Coming up with ideas for posts isn’t my problem, but getting on a writing roll is tricky. So, I’ll be trying to stick with it a little better this month! Stay tuned for some posts for the Blog of Erised’s Mental Health Awareness Month coming up this week, and next!
2. ETSY SHOP – I’m super excited that my shiny new camera has arrived, and I’ve been busily photographing all of my creations. I hope to be launch-ready by July, in time for the new financial year, so I need to spend the next few weeks working out shipping profiles, uploading and editing images, and making everything all pretty! Keep your eyes peeled for the launch, while I nervously wait and see whether anybody even notices me in a sea of Etsy greatness.
3. READ! I go through phases where I read a book a day, then weeks where I don’t have the energy at night to concentrate on a novel. However, my ‘to read’ pile is so huge that it’s taking over my room, and I have some really great novels lined up to review, so I need to get back into the swing of things this month!
I also have an enormous TO DO list that never seems to get any shorter. I’m sure you know the type – those lists that stay the same length no matter how much you get done, because for every one item you cross off you seem to add another two! With any luck, I’ll be having a productive month, and will actually be able to see the wood for the trees by the end of it!
If you have your own goal-oriented posts, head on over and link up with us!
May is Mental Health Awareness month in the USA. In Australia, we have Mental Health Awareness week in October. However, Mental Health is something that affects people everywhere, all the time – whether they want to admit it or not. So, the thoughtful and brave Ula of the Blog of Erised and Leah from Uncorked Thoughts have declared June to be the Blogosphere’s own Mental Health Awareness month!
These lovely ladies want to spread awareness about the facets of mental health that affect so many people, either directly or indirectly, every day. Unfortunately, despite becoming increasingly common (or perhaps just more accurately diagnosed), there is still a very negative stigma surrounding mental health. So, throughout June, Ula and Leah are co-ordinating a month worth of posts to encourage people to look at the issue a little more deeply, and maybe learn something new.
One of the major ways that Mental Health Awareness month will be drawing attention to reviewing or discussing books that relate to various issues surrounding mental health. There will be guest posts, interviews, giveaways, and more, over the course of the month. You can find a list of all the lovely, brave bloggers who are participating over at the Blog of Erised.
Why do I call these ladies brave? It’s not easy to stand up and loudly talk about something that often causes people to avert their eyes, fidget, and change the subject. Personally, as someone who has both first- and second-hand knowledge on dealing with Mental Health issues, I know how difficult a topic it can be to speak about openly. So, I comment Ula and Leah for creating such a great initiative and encouraging everyone to be brave, and speak out!
Personally, I’ll be posting a review of one of my favourite books, which happens to have mental health at it’s core. I’ll also be posting an interview with a successful professional conducted by Beyond Blue, that I was shown in University, and that had a huge impact on the way I related to mental health.
If you’re looking for a thought-provoking read in June, Leah has created a bookshelf full of books involving mental health; you can see it on Goodreads here.
I’m excited to read what everyone has to share next month! So, stay tuned – or sign up to participate! Let’s break down the walls of shame surrounding mental health. What are you afraid of?
I can’t believe that it’s already May! This year seems to be flying by way too fast. I know people say that every year, but it feels extra true this year, I promise!
Time flying means it’s time for the next instalment of Nectar Collective’s Weekly Wishes. Before I let you in on my May Monthly Wishes, let me tell you how April went. I think I did about 50/50 on my goals. The Charity market went off without a hitch – well, everything under my control did, but the turnout wasn’t as good as hoped, so we didn’t make much money. I’m still in two minds about whether I can consider it a success or not. My finances are making progress though; I’ve organised a folder for all of my income, expenses and deductions in preparation for the ’14/’15 financial year. I still have to work on some product pricing for Etsy though!
Speaking of which, with a few casual jobs over April, and my birthday money, I’ve finally ordered my DSLR camera! I’m super excited for it to arrive and to start testing it out. Hopefully product photos will follow, and my Etsy store won’t be far behind!
1. JOBHUNT – I’m desperate to find a part time job. I really need to move out of home, because my situation here isn’t very good for my mental health. While I have enough money for a deposit on a unit, I need a part time job before I can make my mortgage repayments and pay my bills. I feel trapped, because I just can’t seem to get a job, but I just have to keep trying!
2. STUDY – Although I have two bachelor’s degrees, I am seemingly qualified for nothing! Many jobs in the fields I’m looking at want 3-5 years of experience, which I can’t get because I can’t get a job… It’s a catch 22! Also, positions that, several years ago, wouldn’t have required specific training now do – and my experience (which is good) is now irrelevant, without more qualifications! So, I’m looking to go back to study; perhaps a short course in professional editing, and a Masters in Communications/Media… I’m exploring my options and need to come up with some kind of a plan.
3. EDITORIAL CALENDAR – I have a blogging calendar all set out; all I need to do is fill it in and STICK to it! I really struggle at the moment to keep on top of things that can be put off, so I’m trying to train my brain to see the posts that I have planned as commitments, and not suggestions. I think that will help!
I’m hoping that things will come together in my life soon. I’d love to start the financial year off afresh, and actually have some finances to take control over! That gives me about six weeks to push on these things; hopefully I’ll see some progress. Do any of you consider the financial year to be a fresh start?
April is BIRTHDAY MONTH! I usually get to enjoy 29 days of lead up to my birthday, but am turning 25 this month – and my mother has started saying that I really should have my life together by now, seeing as I’m ‘nearly 30’… which takes the shine off hitting the quarter century mark! I’m a shocker for comparing my life to others. For example, Melyssa, of the Nectar Collective, is also turning 25 this month. Look at all she’s achieved! I don’t feel I’m making much headway…
If not an exciting one, hopefully April can be a productive one. The last few months have been so hectic that I feel like I’ve been chasing my tail for weeks. With an epic to do list that seems to get longer everyday, I’m hoping that by the end of April things will be a tad more settled and organised!
I can’t say I’ve achieved all of my monthly goals from last month; but I have obtained my Senior First Aid certification and my National Police Check AND I scored a part time job! More on that later. For April, I’ll try again with my other goals… I feel like I’m letting the bloggers at the Nectar Collective down with my inconsistency! Among a million other things that need doing, I’ve picked for goals to work towards.
1. Charity Market
It’s now only two weeks until the Charity market I’m running. Barring disastrous weather, things are under control – but there are still a hundred small jobs that need to be done! Insurance forms, confirming a generator, finding a coffee machine, printing promotional material… plus, I’m having my own stall with my handmade items, and I still have lots to make (and price) before I’m ready!
My little business needs it’s finances in order! I need to organise receipts, a budget in excel, work out the cost price and sales price of each item… Maths isn’t my strong point, so I’m not looking forward to it! But I want it done before the financial New Year (June 31), so that I’m all ready for the next one.
3. Etsy Store
Still in need of a camera, and a homemade lightbox, my Etsy store is delayed until after the Market, when I have a little more time on my hands. I did borrow a friend’s camera and tried to take some pics, but the lighting wasn’t doing them any justice, hence the lighting box idea. Thanks to Pinterest, I think I can DIY one! Hopefully my birthday will yield enough money to finally buy my own camera, too. I really want my little store up and running!!
4. Skillshare Calligraphy
I signed up for calligraphy class on Skillshare and was super excited. Then, I had to order expensive supplies from the US, and wait ages for them to arrive… They finally have, but I’ve been too busy to sit down and start looking at the tutorials! I’m excited to get started, and hopefully will be a calligraphy whizz in no time! I’ll be sure to show you all how I’m going.
March wasn’t a great month. April is shaping up to be a little better! Hopefully it will be, and I can pull myself out of my depression downslide (upping my meds might help too, we’ll see) and will head into an upswing!
In my ongoing attempt to improve my outlook on life, I was happy to discover Melyssa’s “Creative Collective” initiative for 2014. What is a Creative Collective? Well, Mel has come up with a list of 23 prompts to inspire creativity among blogosphere inhabitants. These range from creating playlists to taking online classes; none of the tasks are hugely time consuming, and every two weeks we can link up with our latest project! You can read about the “Creative Collective” in more detail here. I think it sounds like great fun, and also a way to keep myself accountable for trying some new things and meeting some new people!
The first prompt for 2014 was to think of a word to focus on in more detail this year. After some thought, I realised that my word would be a relatively simple one; “HAPPY”.
The past few years have been pretty tough. I feel like a blog isn’t a place to be down in the dumps (in part because I don’t want to drag anyone down with me!), but to really be ME here, I suppose there are some things that need sharing. For starters, I’ve been diagnosed with chronic Depression, Anxiety, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and possible Chronic Fatigue. Unfortunately, the combination of these has led to the loss of many of my friends, an eating disorder – which I now have under control – and a general lack of a life. PCOS and an ever-changing rotation of strong meds has caused weight gain that I have no control over, I wake up every day exhausted, and I have no energy to do the things I love, let alone the things that I don’t love so much, but that are necessary (ie. working, and the gym).
2013 was basically a write off. I lived off the last of my savings, achieved very little, and just about managed to stabilise my meds. So, looking ahead to 2014, I’m hoping to get a steady part-time job, keep up my charity work, make something of my little side business, get somewhat of a following on my blog… and hopefully save up enough to travel a little at the end of the year. Big dreams! Definitely a big step up from the nothingness that was last year.
So, why ‘happy’? I could’ve chosen ‘persevere’ or ‘positive’ or something, but really, being happy is what it is all about. I want a happy life. I want to live to work, not work to live. I want to banish the negativity that so easily swallows me up, and happiness is a good way to do that.
I’m not going to wake up tomorrow and suddenly be happy. But if i’m feeling gloomy, I’m hoping that remembering my word of the year will encourage me to think happy thoughts. Maybe, along the way, that will become a lasting habit and I’ll see the year out in an overall better place.
To end this somewhat heavy post, I present you with my cheerily drawn word of the year. Forgive the lack of a craftier presentation, but it’s hot as hell in Adelaide this week (46 degrees Celsius – that’s about 115 degrees Fahrenheit to you foreigners!) and my craft/bedroom upstairs is far too hot to work in. So, I was limited to some coloured pens! And my word is now proudly stuck in the front of my blog planner, perfect to keep it front of mind.