Tag Archives: birthday

turning thirty

Turning Thirty: Reflections, Visions, Plans

11 Jun 15
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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?


Living with chronic illness – two steps forward, one step back

18 Jun 14
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Since my birthday the other week, I’ve felt like I’ve gone from moving two steps forward to taking a giant leap backwards.


Homemade Birthday Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)

Homemade Birthday Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)

I know that progress is meant to be two steps forward, one step back but I feel that this has been more than one step back!

I feel like in terms of activity levels, focus ability and pain levels I’ve gone back at least one month maybe more.

On my birthday I attempted to do a day of work-related activity (I attempted to attend a networking event I would normally attend as part of my job). The trip into town had already left me feeling drained of energy and in a deep fog but I managed to focus for the first 30 minutes to an hour. After that fatigue and pain levels started reaching a point that I couldn’t remain focused. I managed to stay for 3 hours but realistically should probably have left after the first hour.

Since then brain fog, fatigue (exhaustion, whatever you want to call it!) and pain levels have been bad. I’ve been struggling to get up again in the mornings after just having got to the point I could get up at 7 am and function at a low level for most of the day. I’m needing to rest more during the day, and my pain won’t drop back down.

Overdoing it, not only on my birthday but during the week surrounding it, has had a larger impact than I was expecting.

This clearly demonstrates to me, and those around me, that I’m not ready to even consider returning to work full time. Unfortunately, it has also made me struggle with staying positive the last few weeks. I’m trying everything I can to stay positive and to continue to move forward. Reminding myself that the set back is temporary and that, as E keeps reminding me, rest is my number one priority. Everything else is secondary to that.

I need to keep myself on track to make sure I don’t fall into a depression. Staying positive is what has got me this far, I need to keep it up so that I can keep going!

Birthday celebration week

05 Jun 14
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Tomorrow is my birthday!

The celebrations, though, started today and will continue until at least next Wednesday (a whole week  of celebrations).

E is away at the moment and won’t be back until next Wednesday so I’ll be celebrating with him when he gets back.

Today I had afternoon tea with his parents and Amma and Uppa. We had a delicious cake and I was given some wonderful presents including homemade cookies and cake, a massage cushion for my office chair, a vintage leather satchel bag, home knitted cowls and some delicious teas.

Homemade Birthday Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)

Homemade Birthday Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)

I haven’t taken photos of all the presents and I don’t really have the energy to now but I’m definitely very happy and grateful for all the love and kindness that has gone into making the first day of my birthday celebrations so great.

Each of these gifts takes into account my needs and values. I am grateful for the massage cushion, as I have definitely found using my mums to be helpful, the homemade and vintage gifts for their thoughtfulness and sustainable use of materials, and the teas because tea is always a good thing, especially in winter!

Today I also had a delicious lunch out with my brother and got my own TENS machine (I have to return my Physio’s one next week). This has made the day very long but full of special moments for me, I just need to remind myself I still need to pace myself through the rest of the week.

It’s also one of my best friend’s birthday today, so I dropped a present off at her house for her as well.

Tomorrow is my actual birthday and for some reason I decided that would be a great day to see how I go with coping with a day at “work”. I’ve registered to attend a networking event that I would normally attend as part of my job. It goes from 9.30 to 3.30, which means leaving home around 8.10 am to get the bus! I’ve lined up my brother to come pick me up if it turns out I can’t make it through the day but my plan is to try and pace myself while I’m out and see how I go.

I’ll be having dinner and spending the night at mums that night.

Saturday will be about celebrating with friends. My birthday present to myself was a ticket to go see Jane Goodall talk that morning at the zoo with one of my friends and then a few of us will be having a quiet celebration at one of their houses.

… Given all of that, I believe next week will be all about recovery!

I’ll still be here and will aim to share some more about the exciting new ventures planned for the next few months but I will be taking it slowly and playing it by ear a bit.

Thank you to each and everyone of you who has, and will, make the celebration of turning another year older one of happiness, love and kindness. When I look back over the last year, to where I was at this stage, I realise how far I’ve come. Last year I was only just beginning to realise what this illness meant for me, I hadn’t been diagnosed and I didn’t really understand that it was chronic. Today I’ve accepted my condition and I’m learning, in leaps and bounds, how to live a sustainable and fulfilling life WITH my illness. I am no longer fighting, instead I’m going along for the ride and seeing where life takes me.Until next week, have fun and enjoy life but don’t forget to look after yourself!

How do you celebrate your birthday?

How do you manage to pace yourself when there are several events on?

How far have you come in the last year?

Crafts – Cards

12 Nov 13
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Last week I spent my crafting time making cards for the wedding and 60th we had on the weekend. Obviously I couldn’t post them before the events in case the recipients were reading my blog, so here they are now…

Wedding Card Photo (c) Megan S, November 2013

Wedding Card
Photo (c) Megan S, November 2013

This card was made using store bought diecuts and a precut card. I used double sided tape to stick the diecuts down in the desired positions. I also used a diecut on the envelope (as seen in the photo above).

60th Birthday Card Photo (c) Megan S, November 2013

60th Birthday Card
Photo (c) Megan S, November 2013

This card was made using a precut card and green stock paper. I drew the 60 freehand and then cut and stuck to the card with double sided tape. The inside of the card was stamped “Happy Birthday”.

Because it was a bad week for me symptoms wise, I went for the simplest designs I could come up with that would still look sophisticated.

What do you think of my cards?

Do you make cards? What resources do you use in your designs?

Chronic Pain and Fatigue – Managing Special Events

11 Nov 13
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Photo (c) Megan S, November 2013

Photo (c) Megan S, November 2013

So this past weekend I had 2 major events in a row…

We had a friends wedding on Saturday and my father-in-law’s 60th on Sunday.

To enjoy both events and not increase my symptoms I had to carefully manage how I engaged with these events and the days surrounding them.

I have to say I didn’t do a perfect job at it, but it was my first try at this since being sick and over all I think I’ve come out fairly well.

Below are my tips for managing major events like these with chronic pain and fatigue…

  1. Decide whether it’s necessary to attend the event.
    I had several people telling me I should reconsider going to 2 events on the same weekend. However, I used the following questions to assess whether I thought the events were necessary (obviously the outcome was that both were):
    Are you, or someone very close to you, the reason for the event? (The wedding was for very close friends and obviously my FIL is a close relative)
    Would you be upset if you missed out on the event? Yes
    Are there any extra reasons for attending the event (other than the main one)? I hadn’t seen many of my close friends in the last 6 months, the wedding was a good opportunity to catch up with a large group of them at once.
    Is there some other way to celebrate without attending? Although I could have just sent E to both events with my well wishes, I felt it was important for me to be there.
  2. Have a plan and stick to it
    I did have a plan for both events, however I didn’t stick to my plan at the wedding and as a result I wasn’t as rested as I could be for the 60th.
    I had two days off from appointments before the weekend and planned to take it fairly slowly (spending time with my sister T on Friday but other than that just resting). I also had today (Monday) off to rest before my next appointments this week.
    I planned to rest between the ceremony and the reception (which I did) and leave around the time I would normally get ready for bed (8.30 pm) from the reception (this didn’t happen, I didn’t end up getting home and to bed until around midnight because I decided at the last minute I wanted to stay until dessert at least).
  3. Ensure you have time to rest BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER the event.
    I didn’t do so well on resting up before the events on the weekend. Although I had Thursday and Friday free of appointments and I did fairly well at resting up on Thursday, I ended up going out to lunch on Friday with T and dad. This ended up being a longer outing than I’d anticipated and so I didn’t get as much rest Friday as I should have had.
    During the wedding I did reasonably well, resting in the morning before the ceremony and heading to a friends house for a rest before the reception. However, plans didn’t go to plan (as mentioned above) and by the time we left the reception I knew I had definitely pushed past my limits for the day.
    I spent all of the following morning resting before the 60th and even went for a rest between the afternoon tea and the dinner. This seemed to help keep my energy levels stable and then I went to bed early that night.
    Today I’m planning to rest and do low level activities for most of the day.
  4. Ensure you have everything you need with you.
    Although I got comments from E, I made sure I’d packed everything I could think of needing into my bag for the wedding. I took a hot/cold pack, a blanket, cardigan, gloves, medicines, water, snacks, money, phone and tablet, lip balm, and meditation tracks. Apart from the hot/cold pack, the blanket and the money, I used all of these during the day.
  5. Relax and Have Fun!
    It’s a celebration, so enjoy yourself and participate to the best of your ability. Take the opportunity to talk to friends you don’t see very often and try to forget about your illness for the day.