Category Archives: Blog

Meaningful FAQ

Meaningful Life Workshop: Back to Basics FAQ

20 Jun 15
Megan
one comments

The atmosphere here at LiveKen is buzzing as we put the final touches on our Back to Basics Meaningful Life workshop, which will be starting on Monday.

It’s not too late to join us. For just AUD$19.95, you can join us and begin your journey towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life.

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If you haven’t yet heard about it, don’t worry! I’m hear today to address a few of the questions we’ve been asked as we’ve promoted the workshop.

Without further ado, let’s answer your questions

What do you mean by a simple, sustainable and meaningful life?

I can’t give you a specific definition of what this will mean for you (that’s something we work through determining during the course) but when we talk about a simple, sustainable and meaningful life we are talking about determining what our priorities and values are and living a life that allows us to live by those as much as possible.

For me the most important things are to be environmentally friendly, have the energy to spend time with my family and friends, and to help others/make a difference…

For you it could be travelling, eating good food, being safe and secure…

It’s very personal.

This 6-week online workshop focuses mainly on determining what is meaningful for you. If you are aware of what your values and priorities are, then you’ll be able to view each of your activities and possessions to determine if they’re in line with them.

It also looks at how to simplify and make your life sustainable. By sustainable we mean something you can continue doing without negatively impacting your health, your finances, the environment and your relationships with others.

I don’t have much time so I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to participate in the course.

Ok, so this isn’t a question but it is a statement I’ve heard a lot since announcing the workshop.

My response to this is that the workshop has been developed to be suitable for those suffering from chronic and invisible illnesses, who have very little energy to participate in anything. The activities are set up in a way that you can do them in your own time and participation in the LiveKen Community Facebook Group is optional (although I personally believe this is where you get the most from the workshop because you’re interacting with others).

In fact, even if you can’t participate in the Community or complete all the activities at this stage, you have lifelong access to the Facebook group and the activities are sent via email so (as long as you don’t delete them) you can come back to them at any stage.

Why should I do it? I’m already doing to much and really need to prioritise.

This workshop will help you to determine how best to prioritise and to develop a plan to move your life slowly towards something more simple, sustainable and meaningful to you.

Is this workshop tailored for those living with chronic pain/invisible illnesses?

The generic workshop content has not been tailored for these conditions, however the purpose of this workshop is that everything will be tailored to participants. For people living with chronic pain or other invisible illnesses, managing these conditions is a major part of their life and as such would definitely be considered when developing a plan to move towards a more simple, sustainable and meaningful life.

What do I get for my AUD$19.95?

For the low cost of just AUD$19.95 (equivalent to roughly AUD$3.30 a week – less than a cup of coffee), you will receive:

  • An email containing facts and advice and one key activity each week which will guide you through the process of determining what is meaningful and establishing a plan for simple, sustainable and meaningful life changes
  • Life-long access to the closed LiveKen Community Facebook Group. Being a closed group, people can see who are members but only other members can see your comments.

Within 24 hours of signing up (using the link at either the top or bottom of this page), you will receive a welcome email and a Facebook invite (or second email with a link) to the LiveKen Community Group.

Have I addressed your question here? If not, please comment below and I’ll answer as soon as possible.

As I said at the beginning, the first run of this workshop will be beginning on Monday (only 2 days away), so make sure you sign up either today or tomorrow to participate in this round. We do hope to run the workshop again in the future, however I can’t guarantee when this will be happening so if you feel you’re ready for a change I strongly urge you to join us on this journey.join-now-button-19

And yes, this first time through I will be participating in the workshop as we go as well so I’d love to get to know you all better when you join us.


My simple, sustainable & (almost) minimal Wardrobe

16 Jun 15
Megan
5 comments

Over the last year or two I’ve been decluttering our house to help create a simple living environment. A big part of that has been reducing the amount of clothing and accessories I own to only those that I actually love, feel comfortable in, and enjoy wearing all the time.

Janelle has previously shared a bit about her experience decluttering her wardrobe but today I’m going to take things a step further and actually show you exactly what I’ve kept in my wardrobe.

I’ve read a lot of blogs about sustainable fashion, capsule wardrobes, and minimalist wardrobes and have always found it fascinating to see what others have kept in their wardrobes.

I haven’t taken the approach of minimising to a set number of items like Courtney at Project 333 and many others recommend, instead I’ve just slowly purged out anything that was too damaged/stained/worn out, didn’t fit me, wasn’t comfortable or wasn’t my style.

I’m still slowly going through my tshirts (as they wear out I’ll be replacing a few with more neutral/versatile tops and just removing some of the others), and I still have way more dresses and jackets than I really need but I wear them all.

So, without further ado, here’s my wardrobe as of today in pictures. I’ve included everything from socks and undies, to shoes and accessories, and everything in between.

Wardrobe - underwear, shoes, bags, hats and scarves

I only own one sports bra (which hasn’t been worn in over a year) because with my Fibromyalgia I haven’t found any others that are comfortable. Most the time I don’t wear one at all.

Wardrobe - Accessories, Bathers, PJ's, Trackies, Bike wear

My Winnie the Pooh PJ set were a Christmas present when I was about 11 or 12 so they’re almost 20 years old and still fit me (too big still). The green oversized t-shirt was my husband’s from the Uni pub crawl that was on my 18th birthday, I now use it as PJ’s.

Wardrobe - bottoms and other sports wear

The two pairs of leggings may look the same but one is ankle length and the other 3/4 length. I don’t own many bottoms (and those I do own are either big on me or maternity) because anything tight around my waist is uncomfortable. For example my Jeans are actually these.

Wardrobe - tops and suits

As I mentioned before, I’m slowly moving away from band/concert t-shirts to more versatile tops that can be used with most my wardrobe.

Wardrobe - jackets, coats, jumpers and cardigans

Wardrobe - dresses

My go-to outfit, or uniform, is generally one of my dresses. In winter, I layer it with leggings, tops, boots and jackets. In summer, I pair it with sandals and a hat.

And that is everything except my wedding and engagement rings, my garmin and my silver sleeper earrings which I wear all the time.

I haven’t included hair accessories in here, but I only own one tortoiseshell bulldog clip, 2 hair ties, 3 different coloured flower clips and 3 different coloured beaded clips. That’s it.

Although I’m aiming for a minimalist wardrobe for simplicity and sustainability, I’m not quite there yet but each and every piece in there is meaningful to me and plays a role in my life.

I’m currently participating in Summer Edwards 20 Day Sustainable Fashion Challenge which is providing useful insight into the best way to have a sustainable wardrobe.

I’m also about to embark on a 12 month challenge (starting 1 July 2015) of not purchasing any clothing at all, including underwear. I had thought about starting at the beginning of this year but have recently had to purchase new underwear and have picked up one dress from an op shop in the last week (the grey cotton 3/4 sleeved one with pockets). I first heard about this challenge from Mrs Frugalwoods and was inspired to give it a go. So, starting 1 July 2015 I’m making a pledge to purchase no clothing at all for 12 months. I’ll keep you updated with how I go.

 

Do you have a simple, sustainable, meaningful wardrobe?

Would you consider doing a wardrobe challenge to help you determine what your simple, sustainable and meaningful wardrobe would be?

turning thirty

Turning Thirty: Reflections, Visions, Plans

11 Jun 15
Megan
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I turned 30 last weekend.

Those of you who follow us on Facebook or Twitter would be aware that my husband’s 30th was only a few weeks earlier. We decided to do a joint party on my birthday (it was Saturday) and invited friends and family to join us. We had an amazing day with close to 50 people joining us to celebrate.

I put a lot of effort into planning the party so that it would be aligned with my values and life goals.  By that I mean that I attempted to plan the party to be as close to zero waste as possible, and to be focused mainly on spending time with family and friends.

I created a large stack of cloth napkins which did get used, however when the cake was cut paper napkins were still used to distribute it.
cloth napkinsThe napkins I made were from leftover material in my sewing collection, mainly the scrappy bits too small for anything else.

Most of the food was homemade finger food with cocktail pies, pasties and sausage rolls purchased from the local bakery to supplement the food supply.

Reusable and compostable We used as many reusable items as possible and what wasn’t reusable I aimed to make compostable (cornstarch cups, bamboo plates, paper straws).

Although I did my best to pace myself in the days leading up to and the day of the party, it was still a much busier week than I would normally have and I have spent the last few days recovering. I’m starting to feel better now (Wednesday – 4 days after the party) but pain levels and fatigue levels have both been rather high the last few days.

Before I go further with this post, I just want to apologise for the large gap between posts lately. Both Janelle and I have been very busy working to put together the Back to Basics Workshop which will be starting in the next few weeks (You can still join if you’re interested).

Turning Thirty: Reflections

Large life changes are always times to reflect on where you have come from and consider where you want to go moving forward. Turning 30 is one of those times.

Looking back over my life I have always had pretty clear ideas of where I though I would be by the time I turned 30. Although some of these things have come true, my life is nothing like what I had imagined (as you’d expect).

My childhood and teens were spent making friends, spending time outside and getting to know the world around me. As I moved into my 20’s it became more about getting to know myself and becoming clearer about where I wanted to head.

During my 20’s I married my long term boyfriend, we bought our first house together and moved in, and got our own pets.

Early 20’s were focused on finishing study and starting my career as well as focusing on my health by exercising regularly at the gym.

Late 20’s my vision of myself, my career, and my health all changed when chronic pain and fatigue became a part of my life. My goals had to change to fit into my new reality. I could no longer be the ‘gym junkie’, the active outdoors person I was before…

Turning Thirty: Visions

Although part of my vision has stayed the same, I still want a family and to work in community engagement and sustainability,  most of it has now been modified.

How do I see my 30’s going?

I will have a family (biological or adopted) and will be working in community engagement and sustainability field by consulting and providing services through this site.

I will find balance between work, social, and me time. This will include time for meditation and rest and some form of exercise (at this point walking and very basic yoga).

By finding balance and pacing well, I will recover to a point where I can enjoy travelling with my husband and family.

Our life will be as simple, sustainable and meaningful as possible.

Turning Thirty: The Plan

To make my vision come true I will need a plan. The plan is to answer the following questions:

What would make my/our life meaningful?

I’ve already begun answering this question by completing the 100 Goal Challenge last year, but through participating in our Back to Basics Workshop I’m going to review those goals and reassess what is meaningful to me.

I will also have discussions with my husband about what is meaningful to him so that we can make our future plans together.

How can I simplify my life?

A simple lifestyle is key to living well especially with chronic illness. By identifying areas in my life that I can simplify I should create more room to do the things that I meaningful.

Steps I’m already taking towards this are:

  • Hiring a cleaner. Over the past few months I had been doing the cleaning myself again. To begin with I managed to keep up and do a good job, but I’ve found that as I’ve begun adding other meaningful activities into my life (like work), I no longer have the energy to do the cleaning as well. For the cost of $75 a fortnight it is worth having someone come in and clean for us.
  • Simplifying my wardrobe. I’m finally getting to a point where I’m happy with my wardrobe. Through my decluttering efforts I’ve removed over half the items in my wardrobe that were not comfortable, didn’t suit my lifestyle, or were worn out and stained. My next post I’m going to share in detail what is left in my wardrobe.

How can we be more sustainable?

Because sustainability is one of my key values, this is a question that I’m constantly asking myself. I’m attempting to move us from single use and disposable items towards ones that can be reused over and over. Buying quality items that last (instead of large quantities of items) is also key to aiming for a more sustainable house.

This area is one that causes a bit of tension in our house though as my husband doesn’t necessarily understand my strong focus on this value. I’m not saying he doesn’t believe we should do our part to help the environment, it’s just that he thinks I take things too far a lot of the time. For example, he rolls his eyes each week when I take out my keep cup to use when we get takeaway drinks, and he doesn’t feel comfortable using my cloth bags for vegetables or asking the butcher and baker to use my containers (instead of plastic bags).

Another part of being sustainable is to be financially secure/independent/whatever term you’d like to use. This is something that I’m spending a lot of time researching at the moment. Security is one of my husband’s biggest values and so making sure we have enough money to live the lifestyle we want to and achieve our goals is very important to us.

Financially speaking we want to make sure we have enough saved for retirement (so we don’t have to rely on a pension that may not be around), we want to be able to travel and buy nice things when we want to (we have a large lego collection, good quality camera and camping gear, and my husband maintains his bikes), and we want to be debt free.

In general we are doing well in this area (our mortgage is our only debt) but, given I’m pretty much not working at the moment (I don’t bring in any regular salary), I’m not having money put into Super for me and we basically have to live off my husband’s salary. To me setting ourselves a financial plan for the next 2-5 years and belong is a key step to achieving our goal to live a simple, sustainable and meaningful life.

Next week I’ll be sharing my simple, sustainable, and (almost) minimal wardrobe with you.

Do you have a clear vision for the future and a plan to get there?

Have you got a financial plan in place to help you achieve your goals?

 

#May12BlogBomb

#May12BlogBomb A Vision for the Future: Living with ME and Fibromyalgia

12 May 15
Megan
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Today is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Fibromyalgia and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) Awareness Day.

#May12BlogBomb

Last year, to help raise awareness, I wrote a letter to my illness over on My Chronic Life Journey as part of a blogging campaign begun by Sally Burch over at Just ME (#May12BlogBomb).

This year I’m participating again. The theme for 2015 is ‘A Vision for the Future’.

Like Sally, I feel that May 12 Awareness Day is about helping others who don’t live with these conditions to better understand what life is like for those of us who do. (Not that awareness raising should only occur on one day of the year.)

What I’m hoping to get across today is that, although we may have many challenges in our day to day life that ‘healthy’ people don’t need to consider, we still have the same hopes and dreams for the future.

So, now that I’ve provided some background information let’s get on to my response to the theme…

Visions, hopes and dreams

Although bad health may limit my ability to undertake many activities people consider to be ‘normal’ for someone my age, I haven’t let this steal my hopes and dreams for the future.

Turning 30 this year has led to me thinking more and more about where my life is heading and what I have achieved so far.

I have achieved so much with my life so far that I am proud of, including:

  • Completed my Arts and Science degrees with honours in the science.
  • Worked with individuals, communities and businesses to create a more sustainable future.
  • Raised funds to publish a picture book for raising awareness of invisible illnesses (due to be published later this year)
  • Married the man of my dreams
  • Travelled interstate and overseas for work and holidays (before getting ill)

Although I’ve achieved so much, there is one dream that always seems to be just out of reach for me… Having a child and starting a family.

This is an ongoing issue for me, and something that my husband and I have been discussing quite a lot lately both with each other and with my doctors and specialists.

Although my dream was always that my family would at least be started before I was 30, that is not going to happen. If everything goes well, I may have my first child while I’m 30 but even that seems unlikely.

There are so many additional concerns to consider when thinking about starting a family when you live with a chronic illness.

  • What impact will my conditions have on my ability to conceive and carry a child to term?
  • What impact will pregnancy have on my symptoms? increased pain/fatigue/nausea?
  • How will I cope when the child is born?
  • Will any of the medications I’m on affect my pregnancy/child?

All of these questions are ones I’ve been asking myself, my family, and my doctors and specialists.

We’ve been unable to get a clear answer from any of the doctors or specialists which makes it hard when trying to make an informed decision.

My husband, rightly, has concerns about my health and my ability to cope with pregnancy, birth and child rearing. I’m also concerned about how my body will cope with it all but to me it’s worth it if I’m able to fulfil my lifelong dream of becoming a mother.

The closest we’ve had as a response from the doctors is that the pelvic pain, currently thought to be caused by Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, should not get worse with pregnancy given that I’m having success in reducing it with the pelvic physio’s advice and guidance. In regards to my ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia, none of my doctors or specialists have had enough experience with pregnancy and these conditions to be able to say what may happen.

So, as you can probably tell from all of this, my biggest vision for the future is to be a mother.

My vision does include other things, such as increasing awareness of invisible illnesses and helping others live their own simple, sustainable and meaningful lives, but being a mother is definitely at the top of my list.

What is your vision for the future?

Don’t forget about the opportunity available to you at the moment to join us for our first ever online workshop to help you take the first step towards your own simple, sustainable and meaningful life. Read about it here.

Workshop

Workshop Opportunity – Back to Basics

29 Apr 15
Megan
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one comments

Are you looking for a simple, sustainable & meaningful life?

We’ve taken the plunge, and are planning to share our journey with you and help you start your own journey via a 6-week online workshop.

The workshop will cover the following topics:

  • What makes life meaningful for us?
  • Identifying our values, passions, and life goals
  • What does it mean to be sustainable?
  • Are our current lifestyles sustainable?
  • Developing an action plan towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life.

What do we get?

This 6-week workshop will begin 1 June 2015 and will consist of regular emails with guiding questions and activities and group discussions via Facebook.

At this stage we are also planning to run at least one webinar during the 6-week period.

Everything will be available for you to access in your own time, and you will have lifetime access to the LiveKen Community via our closed Facebook Page.

How much is the workshop?

The workshop costs a minimal AUD$25  AUD$19.95** and you can sign up using the link below.

** We’ve reduced the cost to make the course more accessible for you.**

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Once you’re payment has been received, you’ll be sent a link to access the Facebook page and you can introduce yourself to the other participants before the workshop commences on 1 June 2015. mid-June.************We’re working extra hard to make the course contents as exciting and useful as possible. As a result we’re postponing the start until mid-June. This gives you another few weeks to sign up for the workshop*****

I look forward to sharing this journey with you and hope to see many of you online in June.

Health

HEALTH – a simple, sustainable, meaningful lifestyle

27 Apr 15
Megan
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No Comments

HEALTH – an acronym and guide for living your own simple, sustainable and meaningful life

Hopes and Dreams – Just because you’re not as healthy as you once were, doesn’t mean you need to roll over and forget about everything you ever wanted to do in you life. You are still you, and with a bit of support and modification it’s still possible to live a meaningful life in which you can fulfill your hopes and dreams.

Exploration – You have passions and values that feed into your hopes and dreams. By exploring what your values are and what you’re passionate about you can discover ways to create your own simple, sustainable and meaningful life. One of the best ways I’ve found to identify your passions and values is to participate in the 100 Goal Challenge. Through this process I was able to identify that family, making a difference, and living sustainably are the highest things that I value in my life. This fits well with my dreams to start a family and run my own business helping others live simple, sustainable and meaningful lives.

Action – Once you’ve identified your hopes and dreams, and explored your passions and values the next step is to take action. Decide on one small step you can take today to move yourself one step closer to the life you want to live. My first steps included setting up this blog, fundraising through Kickstarter to publish the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang picture book (happening later this year), and networking to find opportunities to help others.

Listen – Your body knows what it is capable of. Make sure you pay attention to changes in symptoms and pace yourself accordingly. Although I’d love to do everything I want as soon as I want, my health dictates that I can’t. By making sure I rest when I need to I’m able to do more in the long run as I’m less likely to crash.

Talk to others – Having a network to support you is important if you actually want to live your own simple, sustainable and meaningful life. The best way to create that network is to talk to others. Share your ideas, form partnerships and build a community around you. I do this through social media and this blog, talking with neighbours, friends and family, and identifying relevant workshops and conferences to attend when I’m well enough.

Highlights and Reflections – As we move through the process, it’s important to take time to identify the highlights, reflect on where you have come from and where you are going. People do change over time so it’s important to make sure that the path you’ve set yourself on is still the right one for you. By doing this regularly you can make changes as you need to so that you can maintain a simple, sustainable and meaningful (to you) lifestyle.

I’ve been following this guide for the last 12 months and I believe it has put me on a path to a simple, sustainable and meaningful life despite the problems living with chronic illness throws at me. This is not a be all and end all guide but a broad overview of things that need to be considered.

Have you focused on your H.E.A.L.T.H.?

What steps have you taken towards your own simple, sustainable and meaningful lifestyle?

I must apologise for falling off the band wagon with the HAWMC posts. I’m still working out how to pace myself with the new casual work.

 

stress managment

Stress Awareness Month and Travel with chronic illness

20 Apr 15
Megan
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No Comments

I missed yesterday’s #HAWMC post on Stress Awareness so I’m combining it with today’s topic… Travel.

Managing stress is a vital part of learning to live with chronic illness. Especially with conditions like Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) which can be exacerbated by stress. Even for a healthy person stress can have a negative impact on your life.

So how do we deal with stress?

When I was healthy I used to deal with stress by exercising… a lot! I would go to the gym most week days and work out hard for at least 30 minutes and walked everywhere I could.

My husband reduces his stress levels by riding his bike.

Exercise has been proven to act as a natural stress reliever.  The endorphins released by our bodies when we exercise make us feel good and relax.

But what if we can’t exercise? Or at least have limited ability to?

As I’ve mentioned previously, my exercise routine is no where near as extensive as it used to be so I’ve had to discover new ways to minimise and manage stress.

I still walk when I can (although this is no where near as often as I like), and I still do some yoga each day. This alone is not enough to keep my stress levels at a manageable level.

These days, I’m more likely to manage my stress levels by stepping back and finding a way to relax. I have hot baths, meditate, and generally avoid situations I know will be too stressful for me.

When considering stressful situations I take into account the physical, mental and emotional impact a situation could have. I have to avoid and minimise extremes in any of these aspects of life in order to maintain my health. I do this through pacing.

Travel and Stress Management

Travel is one area of my life that has had to completely change since the ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. When I first fell ill, we had been planning an African safari for the next year. That obviously hasn’t happened and probably will not happen any time in the foreseeable future.

Although I’d love to go see the African wildlife and have a wonderful adventure with my husband, I know that the holiday we had planned would be too stressful for me. There would be the physical stress from actually travelling to the destination and the many activities we had planned that required walking and hiking. There is the emotional stress of becoming overexcited by the prospect of the adventure and the mental stress of planning the trip and making sure everything is planned properly.

Instead of big adventures like this, our current trips tend to be shorter and closer to home. We’ve done a couple of trips to bed and breakfast accommodation within an hours drive of home, and others (sometimes as short as over night) where we’ve driven somewhere and camped for a few nights.

These smaller holidays are more relaxed as we don’t plan out the details in advance. Because we don’t have to travel so far the stress of physically getting to the location is less, so I need less time to recover before I can participate in actual holiday activities. With these types of holidays we can decide what to do on a day to day basis based on how I’m feeling. We make sure we have activities we can do that are less taxing on my system, like audio books to listen to. We also allow for periods of rest between any larger activities and if there’s something that my husband would like to do that is just too much of a physical stress for me, we find a way for him to do it while I do something else.

The key to stress management for me is to pace myself and to allow for flexibility. This helps in every day life as well as in situations that may be out of the ordinary like travel or large social events.

What’s your key stress management tool?

I feel best

I feel best when… My Manifesto

14 Apr 15
Megan
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No Comments

When you live every day with chronic pain and fatigue it can sometimes be difficult to remember what it’s like to feel good, to feel ‘normal’. It’s important though to not focus just on your symptoms but to find at least something each and every day to be grateful for. Something that will make you feel as good as you possibly can given everything you’re living with.

I feel best when…

I feel best when I’m making a difference. When I’m able to find a way in which I can contribute something of meaning to the community. I currently do this by sharing my stories here on the blog and through other social media outlets. By sharing I hope to help others to live simple, sustainable and meaningful lives of their own.

I feel best when I’m able to pace myself well. At the moment that means:

  • only working 1-2 hours a day, up to 4 days a week
  • finding time each day to do some stretches and yoga
  • maintaining a step count of around 5,000 steps a day
  • ensuring I get adequate rest throughout the day

I feel best when I’m adequately hydrated. Remembering to drink enough water can be difficult when I’m at my most foggy, but I try hard to remember.

I feel best when I eat a balanced diet. Eating enough nutritious fruit, veg, nuts and meat, mainly eating home cooked meals with fresh produce and avoiding alcohol, dairy and gluten all help to keep me healthy.

I feel best when I have a project to work on that I’m passionate about. At the moment, my passion project is to try and build the sense of community on my street. Although I feel connected to my wider community online, I feel like I don’t really know my neighbours that well.

I feel best when I’m part of a connected community that supports one another and works together towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful lifestyle.

I feel best when I’m surrounded by supportive friends and family.

Rest

Rest – Could you take a whole day off?

13 Apr 15
Megan
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No Comments

Yesterday I took the day off. Not only did I not allow myself to do any work, I attempted to completely avoid technology as well. As you’ll see below I wasn’t quite successful in this second quest but the day was still worth it.

Why take a whole day off?

It seems counterproductive when you’re really busy and have a lot to do to just stop and do nothing for a whole day but in reality it’s anything but that. When you don’t take the time to rest and switch off your productivity drops dramatically. Although you may always be doing something it can take you longer to do it and the quality of the work you produce may not be to your best standards if you are stressed and attempting to multitask too much.

By taking a day off to allow your batteries to recharge, you come back to the work with a clear head and focused on what you want to achieve. I find after taking a break I also tend to come back with a renewed passion and interest in whatever it was I’m trying to get done.

Another benefit of taking a day off, is it allows you to reflect on what you do and identify things that you do that are actually not being helpful and could be counterproductive. For example, I tend to crash out in front of the TV or browsing the internet when my brain fog sets in. If I actually take a rest instead I can return to my productive work quicker and with a clearer head.

A sample day of rest

As I mentioned above, and on social media yesterday, I took the day off and avoided technology to focus on rest and recovery.

What did my day look like?

6:30 AM – The cats woke me up

My husband is away this week, finishing a cycling tour of the Mawson Trail so the cats woke me instead to feed them. I managed to ignore them and get back to sleep for a while though.

7:20 AM – Up and feed the animals (cats and fish) followed by a 10 minute rest

7:30 AM – Breakfast

I made a container of coconut rice the day before so had some of that with fruit and honey for breakfast.

8:00 AM – Bath with a book (Seven Little Australians)

Due to pain levels on cold days I tend to spend a lot of my time in the bath. Yesterday was one of those days.

8:30 AM – 20 minute rest

8:50 AM – Snack

Because I was up so early, my energy levels were low so I had a few snacks throughout the day.

9:00 AM – 20 minute walk

This was a short but very slow walk around the block. Just because it was a day for rest didn’t mean it was OK for me to avoid all exercise. In order to manage my pain and fatigue levels I have to maintain a certain level of activity. In my normal daily life I currently don’t do any specific walks like this because I get my target step count or higher just doing tasks around the house. However, as I wasn’t doing housework I would not have met my target without a designated walk.

9:20 AM – Pot of tea and Journal

When I’m managing well I try to write in my journal daily, however life can get in the way. I hadn’t written in my journal since January so I spent some time reflecting over the changes that have occurred in the last few months.

9:50 AM – 20 minute rest

10:15 AM – Back in the bath with my book

As I said above, when the weather is cold and my pain levels high I tend to spend a lot of time in the bath. I don’t run a completely new bath though, just top up the water to make it warm again.

At this stage I actually finished my book.

12:00 PM – Lunch

For lunch I had left over pizza (gluten and dairy free) from dinner with friends the night before. At this point I did go on my phone for a little while just to get an update from my husband as to how their trip was going.

12:50 PM – 40 minute rest

This was my big rest for the day. On any day I tend to crash in the afternoon. I normally try to hold our until at least 1 pm, usually 2 – 3 pm then put the TV on and crash on the couch.

1:30 PM – Woke up and Snack

1:50 PM – Yoga

As well as my step count I do daily yoga stretches to reduce pain levels. This is mainly the pelvic stretches discussed in my routines post last week.

2:05 PM – Hot Chocolate and a book (Kitchen Table Sustainability)

This book could technically count as doing work, as the information is useful for the development of my ideas, but it is a book I’ve been trying to read for a while and as I’d finished my fiction book I decided to read some of this one instead of starting another new book.

3:15 PM – Clean Kitchen

I know it was meant to be a complete day of rest but I had come back the day before from a night away and had bags of food and cooking appliances that had been used while we were away. To be able to make dinner I had to clear the bench space so I washed the dishes and put away the food.

By this stage I was really struggling with just wanting to crash on the couch with the TV on. I had made myself a promise to have a technology free day so I held out on myself.

3:45 PM – Visit a Neighbour

As I was struggling with a desire to crash on the couch and just rest, I decided a day off was a good opportunity to begin to foster better relationships with my neighbours. I really want to feel like I’m part of a strong knit community but in the 7+ years we’ve been in our house I only know a few of the neighbours to the extent of waving hello.

Recently a friend’s parents moved in 2 houses up from us so I decided to visit them yesterday and introduce myself properly.

I spent 2 hours at their house having a cup of tea and a chat. I found out that my friend’s mother has fibromyalgia as well so it was great to chat to her about what she does to manage her symptoms.

** Confession time: The TV was on in the background while I was there.

6:00 PM – Dinner

I threw a few vegetables (onion, baby spinach, mushroom, capsicum, chilli and garlic)  in a pan to saute and gluten free gnocchi in a pot.

6:30 PM – Bath and book

By this stage I really just wanted to collapse in front of the TV or go to bed. I decided it was too early for bed and I was still attempting to avoid TV so I made myself read a bit more of my book in the bath. I found myself struggling to read though so I wasn’t in there very long.

7:00 PM – Attempt to go to bed

I was exhausted and thought I would fall straight to sleep but as usual I just couldn’t get comfy.

7:10 PM – TV ON!!!

After attempting to get to sleep for 10 minutes I realised it just wasn’t going to happen. Not only was it a little early but my husband wasn’t home. Normally when he’s not home I have the TV on for noise in the background when I attempt to fall asleep. I gave in and put it on.

I also ended up taking a sleeping tablet as I didn’t manage to get to sleep until after 1 AM.

As you can see, even a rest day can be busy. The idea though is to do activities that recharge your batteries, not ones that drain them further.

Although I didn’t quite manage the whole day technology free, limiting my exposure to technology did maintain my energy levels slightly higher than on a normal day filled with the internet, tv and phone.

Yesterday was the first day in many, many months that could be classified as an OK day for me (not bad or crash) so obviously I need to do this type of thing more often.

What do you do to rest?

Do you ever take a whole day to just relax and do nothing?

nutrition

Nutrition and Diet – Keep it Simple

07 Apr 15
Megan
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You are what you eat

That’s the saying…

It’s World Health Day today and the focus is on safe food. As a result, the WEGO health activist writer’s challenge is focused on nutrition and diet today.

Last month we talked about eating locally and how you can support your local farmers, and today I’m going to talk about how I eat for my health

Even before March 2013, when my life went upside down with chronic illness, I was on a path to becoming the healthiest I could be. I have suffered from allergies, eczema and asthma my whole life and about 6 months earlier I had gone to an allergist for testing.

At this point my diet changed. I removed all dairy and gluten, and I noticed that my eczema disappeared.

Then the pain and extreme fatigue started.

My diet didn’t really change that much in terms of the types of food I ate but my ability to spend lots of time cooking did change. As my illness progressed I also began to add supplements to help with management.

I now take fish oil, magnesium, calcium, iodine and folic acid, Vitamin D and Vitamin B regularly. Combined these are helping to reduce my pain levels and increase my bone density (which was found to be extremely low last year).

Thankfully my husband is around to help make meals and this means I’ve been able to maintain a healthy diet while managing my energy levels. As I’ve recovered slowly, I’ve been able to make more meals myself although I still have to pace.

When I’m cooking myself I’ve found a variety of meals that are simple and easy to make. These include lentil burgers, pad thai and steak or sausages and veg during summer, and soups during winter. Many of these meals are also generally made in bulk so that after cooking one night we have leftovers for another dinner and usually a lunch or two.

By cooking in bulk I keep it simple. I use fresh produce as much as possible and I get support from family and friends when I need it. As previously discussed, we do grow some of our own vegetables as well. When there’s greens in the garden and I’m home, I tend to get lunch straight from the garden.

Do you focus on your nutrition to maintain your health?

Have you had to change your diet for any reason?