Category Archives: A-Z guide

Week 8 No Buy Challenge: swaps and give aways

26 Jan 16
Megan
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We’re quickly approaching the half way point in our 20 Week No Buy Challenge and so far there haven’t been too many difficult decisions I’ve needed to make.

Over the last week in fact, I’ve given away a lot more items then we’ve had come into the house which feels great. On the weekend Rach (who’s doing this challenge with me) brought over a top she no longer needed/wanted. It fits with my colour scheme (greens and pinks) and is made of cotton so we traded. In exchange for the top I gave her some material to use in her conversion of one of her dresses to a skirt.

On the same day I also had one of my other friends over and let her go through the big bag of clothes I had taken out of my wardrobe over the last few months. Most of the clothes were things I’d either not worn in over 12 months or I’d gotten something that does the same job (little black dress for example) but fit better with my wardrobe guidelines (the new little black dress is cotton and has pockets). From this process, Janelle (my friend), received a few short sleeved shirts for work and a couple of dresses and a beautiful leather bag with matching belt. She described it as:

“shopping without actually spending money”

E has mentioned that he thinks I’m getting a bit obsessive with the decluttering but I don’t see it that way. Yes, the process seems to have some level of inbuilt momentum… the more I do it, the more I want to reduce… but I’m not thinking about it 24/7 like I tend to do when I get obsessed with a topic.

I’ve seen so many great benefits from reducing the amount of stuff I own. I have always struggled with keeping the house clean and often became overwhelmed by tasks that need doing but lately that’s started to change. Now that most things have a home, and one that isn’t stuffed so full it’s difficult to fit everything in, it’s generally very easy for me to put things away as soon as they’ve been used. This means keeping the house clean is much easier. I find that my stress levels are much lower now that there are generally clear shelves and counter tops. I know what I own and I’m not tempted as often by impulse purchases.

Have you been on a decluttering journey? What benefits have you found?

Have you ever swapped items with friends instead of buying new?


Week 7 No Buy Challenge: Celebrations, side effects and PEM

19 Jan 16
Megan
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Another successful week for the No Buy Challenge. I’ve been so busy dealing with health related activities and issues that I haven’t had a chance to do any shopping at all. 🙂

There were a few things I was tempted by, but I managed to either find alternatives or get past the temptation.

On Sunday we spent the afternoon down at the beach. We went for a swim, I floated in the water, and then went to a friends birthday/promotion party in the surf club. It was a wonderful afternoon, but as you’d expect it was way too much for me in one day. I’m still dealing with PEM (Post Exertional Malaise) today and it’ll probably take another day or two at least to get back to my ‘normal’.

Warning: The rest of this post may be TMI (Too much information) for those who know me closely, read on at your own discretion….

Set up for a day on the couch... Water and tea, tablet and headphones, tv controller...

Set up for a day on the couch… Water and tea, tablet and headphones, tv controller…

As I mentioned last week I’ve been trialling Cymbalta (only at 10 mg a day) at the recommendation of my Pelvic Pain Specialist. It’s now been just over a week since I started it and I’ve been struggling with quite a few side effects even though I’m on such a low dose!

Of the common side effects I’ve been dealing with dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, low energy, and nausea (to the point of feeling like throwing up).

In addition to that:

  • I’ve felt like there are little electric shocks going all the way through my body and causing me to be very light headed and shaky.
  • High levels of pain down the inside of my limbs (especially my left leg).
  • Painful, tingly breasts with milky discharge from both. This is listed as a RARE side effect on WebMD but it came as a big surprise to me.

I’ve got an appointment with my GP on Thursday to get the results to the blood tests taken last week and will be asking his opinion. At this point I’m going to give the drug at least another week but I’m not sure if it’s worth continuing long term with this drug, it has reduced the general aching but there are so many other pains and side effects that I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Have you had any strange or rare side effects from any medications you’ve tried?

How long do you give drugs before you decide if they’re working or not?

Week 6 No Buy Challenge: A New Year

12 Jan 16
Megan
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Over the last week I’ve done well with the No Buy Challenge and haven’t spent any money (on myself – my husband and I bought a few things together for the house but that is outside of my challenge as I’m doing this as an individual challenge).

There were a few times when I felt the urge to go shopping (especially for junk food when my energy levels were very low) but I managed to avoid that.

How?

I found other things to focus my time on.

I did more decluttering and now have a pile of things I want to give away. I’ve put together a few presents for people I know I will be needing presents for in the next few months and I’ve asked a friend over to go through the rest of the stuff before I donate it to charity.

I played games with my husband… we’re playing through the Lord of the Rings card game at the moment.

I napped… My energy levels have been very low, especially over the weekend, so I’ve spent a lot of time napping.

I worked… I had a meeting during the week and worked on the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang picture book. I also went for a walk with my mum to check out one of the sites for the Biodiversity trails I’m developing.

I read and wrote… I spent time reading blog posts each day as well as writing my own posts.

I meditated… I have an app on my phone that has a lot of guided meditations. One of the things I’m doing in my aim to balance this year is to do at least 2 guided meditations a day… one on waking and one at bed time… most days I’m also doing one mid-day as well. Each is between 3 – 13 minutes long.

These activities were not only to distract me from buying but (probably more importantly) distracting me from the pain I live with on a daily basis. For the last 3 months my pain levels have been slightly higher than average so it has been important for me to find ways to distract myself from it.

What do you do to distract yourself? – from pain, from impulse shopping, from anything…

Week 4 & 5 No Buy Update: Revising the rules…

05 Jan 16
Megan
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It’s been 2 weeks since my last update for the No Buy Challenge.

During that time we’ve had lots of time with family and friends celebrating Christmas and the New Year. This kept purchasing to a minimum but there were Boxing Day Sales (and Closing Down Sales) in a few places that we checked out.

At one of these sales I picked up a new washing basket (ours was falling to pieces) and a wicker basket for my bike… Although I haven’t used my normal bike in a while because of my health, we’re planning to get me an electric bike in the next few months and the basket will allow me to carry around the things I need without getting hot and sticky with a bag on my back. (It’s also something i’ve always wanted – a nice wicker basket on my bike).

2015-12-28 12.52.00 2015-12-28 12.52.04

It slips off easily to be carried when you reach your destination. The only reason I got it now (before the bike) is the shop was closing down and it was over 50% off.

So, as you’ve probably guessed by now the basket (and the new bike to come soon) were not on my original exemption list but have been on my to purchase list for a few years now.

Just to reiterate (for myself, as well as for you), my rules were:

Things I will not be buying:
  • Clothing – exceptions will be made if something I have only one of (e.g. leggings) completely die. Otherwise, make do with what I have.
  • Shoes and accessories (this should be easy, I haven’t bought anything new in this category for quite a while and have only just received a new pair of earrings from my husband as an anniversary gift).
  • Junk food (this will be a struggle for me, although not often I do find when I’m feeling at my worse I do tend to grab some apricot slices or chocolate).
  • Eating out or takeaway alone. I will still eat out with family and friends but try to make each outing meaningful and when I’m eating alone I will make my own food or eat leftovers from home.
  • Other Non-essentials – toys, games, fancy new gadgets… (I’m sure I’ll be tempted by some things but can’t think of them right now, so that’s what this category is meant to be covering).
Things I will still be buying:
  • Necessities – groceries, house related bills, etc.
  • Gifts for others – my focus will be on making sure gifts fit with Elena’s 5H Code of Holiday Giving. Where possible I will make gifts at home, if this isn’t possible I will aim for gifts to be at least 2 of the following – Handmade, Healthy, Helpful and from Here (local) – and will focus on experiences.
  • Experiences and events that fit with my values.
  • Work related expenses.
  • Things that have been on my to-buy list for over a year (especially if they come up on special)*
    • New electric bike and relevant equipment (basket, bell, bike lock, etc)
    • Winter hat (not wool) – struggling to find one that suits me and I’m not allergic to so if I find one I’ll get it.

*Newly added to cover the few things I’ve forgotten.

How have you been going with the challenge if you’re participating? Do you keep a to-buy list?

Balance #OneWord2016

04 Jan 16
Megan
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Last year I chose one word to guide me through the year… Enough.

I’ve recently found out from The Bloggess that there is a #oneword2016 Challenge and seeing I was already planning to choose a single word, I’ve decided to participate. The one word you choose is meant to be something that will help you focus on your main goal for the year.

Enough did that for me last year. There were many times when I felt I needed to do more or buy more items. Most of these times I remembered my word and felt better about only doing what I could or reducing the items I had rather than adding to them.

This year, I want to keep up the focus on the benefits I’ve received from Enough but focus more strongly on being able to increase (or at least better BALANCE) my activities.

I’m going to continue focusing on moving towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life with a strong focus on finding ways to BALANCE my needs and wants. I’ll continue to try and single-task, try to get a good BALANCE of health, work, and social activities, and relaxation into my day/week.

If you haven’t worked it out yet, my word for 2016 is BALANCE.

I haven’t planned out the whole year but I have a lot that I want/need to achieve in the next 6 months so I’m focusing on that and trying to break it down into monthly and weekly activities…

In the next 6 months I need to:

  • Complete my current consulting jobs for different local Council’s here in SA:
    • Biodiversity Trails – due end of January
    • Environment Action Plan 2016-2019 – due April/May
  • Complete my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment – due by end of May
  • Publish Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang Picture Book – we’re so close but it seems to take so long to get it all together!

On top of these tasks, I have several appointments as part of the ongoing management of my health and I want to have regular time with family and friends and build up my casual work a bit as well.

As you can see, there’s a lot going on so it’s going to be an effort to find ways to balance everything and continue to pace.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you an update on how I’ve been going with the No Buy Challenge the last few weeks. Let’s just say now that I’ve realised there were a few things that should have been on the exceptions list that I forgot, so I’ll be updating that tomorrow.

Do you have one word that’s going to guide you through 2016?

A social weekend – Week 2 No Buy Review

15 Dec 15
Megan
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Another week has past and the No Buy challenge is going well. You can check out Rach’s week in review here.

Thanks to my energy being so low the majority of my week was spent at home either listening to audio books or reading. During the week, my only outings were dinner with my husband’s parents and an acupuncture appointment.

From Friday to Sunday were pretty full of social activities (at least for me). Even though my energy was still very low and pain higher than ‘normal’, I try and make an effort to have at least one or two social outings a week (usually visiting my mum and one other event).

I had visitors at our house on Friday. Morning tea with one of my friends who I enjoy spending time with but don’t get to see often enough. Lunch with my dad and his girlfriend. Generally I aim for only one catch up in a day but occasionally life gets in the way (it happened twice this weekend).

Saturday we went to a friends place for a bbq dinner. Again this was someone I hadn’t seen in a long time and it was great to catch up with everyone there. We stayed a few hours and then went home so I could rest.

Sunday we again had friends over for morning tea and then went to a friends house for lunch and a swim (they have a pool).

Over all, it was a very VERY busy weekend for me but every now and then I feel it’s important to go with the flow and deal with the effects afterwards.

This close to Christmas there are usually a few Christmas get togethers. This year there aren’t as many but I still want to spend time with family and friends.

In the next week we’re going to the movies (tickets pre-bought by my husband before the challenge started), I have an exercise physio appointment and I get to pick up my new glasses.

How was your week? How are you feeling in the lead up to the Christmas Crazy period?

ps sorry no pictures this week…

A 20 Week No Buy Challenge

01 Dec 15
Megan
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Wow, I can’t believe it’s December already! I’m so happy that I managed to make it through the last month of daily posts for National Blog Posting Month. It was a struggle but I made it thanks to being able to schedule a few posts in advance each week to cover days that I would be busy or my energy was too low.

Now that NaBloPoMo is over for 2015, I’m going to cut back a bit on my posting and aim for 2 – 3 posts a week.

My friend Rach, from Around the World with Rachael, has invited me to join her in a 20 Week No Buy Challenge starting today, December 1. She will also be posting about this today so I’ll let her share her rules and reasons for participating in this challenge.

My reasons for participating in this 20 week challenge is not only to support Rachael as she does it but to continue my journey towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life now that the A-Z Guide has been completed.

I have previously stated on social media that I was going to attempt a full year of ‘No Buy’ in relation to clothing, however I didn’t succeed in that. When my leggings died a few months ago I held off but did end up buying a new pair of leggings, a top and a dress. I did make sure I removed at least one item (sometimes up to 3) from my wardrobe for each new thing I brought in.

I’m happy with my wardrobe as it is at the moment, so not buying clothes and jewellery should be easy for me; especially for 20 weeks. Given that, I’m expanding my rules (or modifying them) slightly from what Rachael is going to focus on (clothing, shoes, accessories).

Megan’s 20 Week No Buy Challenge Rules

Things I will not be buying:
  • Clothing – exceptions will be made if something I have only one of (e.g. leggings) completely die. Otherwise, make do with what I have.
  • Shoes and accessories (this should be easy, I haven’t bought anything new in this category for quite a while and have only just received a new pair of earrings from my husband as an anniversary gift).
  • Junk food (this will be a struggle for me, although not often I do find when I’m feeling at my worse I do tend to grab some apricot slices or chocolate).
  • Eating out or takeaway alone. I will still eat out with family and friends but try to make each outing meaningful and when I’m eating alone I will make my own food or eat leftovers from home.
  • Other Non-essentials – toys, games, fancy new gadgets… (I’m sure I’ll be tempted by some things but can’t think of them right now, so that’s what this category is meant to be covering).
Things I will still be buying:
  • Necessities – groceries, house related bills, etc.
  • Gifts for others – my focus will be on making sure gifts fit with Elena’s 5H Code of Holiday Giving. Where possible I will make gifts at home, if this isn’t possible I will aim for gifts to be at least 2 of the following – Handmade, Healthy, Helpful and from Here (local) – and will focus on experiences.
  • Experiences and events that fit with my values.
  • Work related expenses.

Rachael is planning to post a weekly update, so I will too. In her posts Rachael will be sharing an outfit from her own wardrobe (given her focus is on fashion related shopping). I might do the same thing to show you how my (almost) minimal wardrobe works for me.

The photos will be simple shots taken on my phone so won’t be the best quality but will share what I have in my wardrobe.

I’ll start with what I’m wearing today…

 

Maxi dress - crash day

It’s a crash day for me today with pain and fatigue quite high so I’m wearing my maxi dress (maternity dress from Target a few years ago). I may add a jumper later on if it cools down any more than it is right now.

So, what can you expect from me over the next few months?

I’m cutting back my posts from daily to something more sustainable (2-3 posts a week). One of those weekly posts will be (for the next 20 weeks at least) an update on how I’m going with our #nobuychallenge. The other posts will be either health or lifestyle related posts that I hope will continue to provide support and inspiration for you, my readers.

You can join in with our challenge by commenting on our posts (or writing your own) letting us all know about what you’re doing. Modify the rules to suit yourself. If you do share your challenge on social media, let’s use the hashtag #nobuychallenge so we can find posts easily.

Z is for Zero

30 Nov 15
Megan
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Join me on a journey towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life. Throughout November we have been exploring each category of the A-Z guide to a simple, sustainable and meaningful life. Thank you for joining us on this journey towards more simple, sustainable and meaningful lives. Over the last month we’ve talked about a lot that we need to continue to work on over time if we’re to succeed. Today we finish up by looking at Z… Zero.

This guide has been written from the point of view of someone living with chronic illness but the topics and concepts discussed are relevant to everyone and anyone.

Z is for Zero

A simple life is one in which we’re aiming for ZERO (or as close to zero as we can get).

We’re aiming for zero stress, disappointment and waste (time, money, things).

If we’re realistic we know that this isn’t doable but it’s good to set our goals high. Each and everything we’ve talked about over the last month are small steps towards achieving this goal.

My ZERO includes reducing the negative impact I have on both those around me and the environment. That’s because this fits with my values, it may not fit with yours.

My ZERO means trying to live by Bea’s 5 R’s – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.

My ZERO also means learning to compromise. My husband’s values may not be exactly the same as mine. At times I compromise on waste coming into our home to meet his values as well.

My ZERO means spending as much time as possible with my family and friends, helping others as much as I can through my work and what I do in my spare time, and spending time by myself to focus on healing my body.

My ZERO is a life in which I feel needed, loved, supported and cared for.

What is your ZERO?

Y is for Yes

29 Nov 15
Megan
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Join me on a journey towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life. Throughout November we will be exploring each category of the A-Z guide to a simple, sustainable and meaningful life. Today we’re looking at Y… Yes.

This guide has been written from the point of view of someone living with chronic illness but the topics and concepts discussed are relevant to everyone and anyone.

Y is for Yes

Say YES!

To looking after yourself.

Photo (c) E. S. January, 2014

Photo (c) E. S. January, 2014

To living by your values.

2013-11-22 12.09.08

To being the best YOU you can be!

Over the last few months I’ve made an effort to say YES to opportunities that have come my way. I’m being careful to try and keep pacing while I do this and I’m also giving myself permission to say YES to my health by saying NO to others when I need to.

By saying YES over the last few years I’ve taken up some exciting opportunities, including:

  • Creating the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang picture book
  • Developing a 3-year Environmental Management Plan which will guide community sustainable actions within one of the Local Councils I work with
  • Developing educational biodiversity trails for local schools in another Local Council
  • Joining the executive committee for the South Australian Chapter of the Australian Association for Environmental Education through which I’m helping with organising and running a national conference later next year.

Without saying YES, I wouldn’t be doing any of these things but to be able to do them I also need to say YES to the following:

  • Pacing myself and resting every day
  • Eating as healthy as possible
  • Listening to my body

What do you say YES to?

Don’t forget that the Ultimate Spoonie Giveaway is now open. Sign up here for your opportunity to win! This giveaway has ended.

 

X is for eXperiment

27 Nov 15
Megan
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Join me on a journey towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life. Throughout November we will be exploring each category of the A-Z guide to a simple, sustainable and meaningful life. Today we’re looking at X… eXperiment.

This guide has been written from the point of view of someone living with chronic illness but the topics and concepts discussed are relevant to everyone and anyone.

X is for eXperiment

One non-formal way of learning is to experiment. Experimentation is essential for those of us living with chronic illnesses. For many of us there are no known cures (or even causes) for what we are dealing with. That means we need to constantly experiment with treatment options until we find ones that work for us.

Throughout my journey with chronic illness I’ve experimented with various drugs (antidepressants, lyrica, sleeping tablets, other pain relief). I’ve experimented with natural alternatives like the TENS machine, accupuncture, yoga, massage, meditation and visiting a naturopath.

I’m constantly experimenting with different routines, sustainable lifestyle options (like cloth toilet paper and napkins), and new healthy recipes.

homemade cloth toilet paper

homemade cloth toilet paper

Finding what brings you joy and wonder, and what you’re good at is only possible by experimenting with different ideas.

What experimenting do you do in your life?