Tag Archives: lifestyles

Living with Chronic Pain

Living with Chronic Pain – Top 3 Tips

21 Jul 15
Megan
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2 comments

As I mentioned last week, it’s National Pain Week in Australia this week. I will be sharing my story over at the National Pain Week website and at My Invisible Life later in the week. I’ll also be talking to local media, starting with ABC Riverland Today at 10:45 this morning.

Living with chronic pain can be frustrating, overwhelming and disempowering, however it is still possible to live a meaningful life while coping with it.

With over 2 years experience of living with chronic pain myself, and having spoken to many people who have lived with it a lot longer than I have, I’ve found many tips and tricks that have helped me live a reasonably quality and meaningful life despite constant pain and fatigue. Below I share my top 3 tips for living with chronic pain:

  1. Listen to your body and pace yourself
  2. Don’t stop researching and trying new things
  3. Eliminate the unnecessary so you can focus on what is meaningful to you

Listen to your body and pace yourself

One of the first things I learnt on my journey with chronic illness is that my limits had changed. Before chronic illness I was a high achiever who had to always be doing something active and challenging. Since becoming ill, I still need to be doing something but I’ve had to cut back on the level of activity.

On a day to day basis I need to consider how I am feeling and plan my day accordingly. If my body has higher pain or fatigue levels than normal, or my brain is complete fog, then I know I need to step back and rest most of the day. If my pain levels are lower than normal or I’m feeling energetic (doesn’t happen that often but it could!) I need to remember not to push too hard or I will crash later on.

 

In general it’s best to aim for consistency and to allow your body to rest when it needs to.

To give you an example, I’m just coming out of a 2-week crash so my step count and activity level has been cut way back to an amount that i can maintain even if I’m feeling really bad. I have to minimise work and social activities and focus on resting. On any given day I usually only have one or two key activities lined up, which could be as simple as make a meal. While I was in the crash I didn’t really do any activities and most days were spent on the couch.

Don’t stop researching and trying new things

For many of the causes of chronic pain there is no known reason or cure for the pain. As a result there is usually always someone claiming to have the solution. Although it’s important to consider each solution offered to you carefully it is good to keep an open mind and try many different things.

What works for one person may not work for another.

I’ve tried multiple prescription drugs, none of which helped. In fact, most of them caused side effects worse than the symptoms they were meant to be helping. For other people though these drugs have helped.

I’ve tried (or I’m trying) physiotherapy, various exercise programs with guidance from an exercise physiotherapist, acupuncture, breathing techniques, a tens machine, and hypnosis.

Using the TENS Machine for Pelvic Pain

Using the TENS Machine for Pelvic Pain

Eliminate the unnecessary so you can focus on what is meaningful to you

Because of my limitations I have gone through phases where I’ve felt that my life had no meaning. To help me get over that I’ve had to focus in on what is meaningful to me.

I’ve worked on identifying my values and changing my lifestyle so what little energy I have is used doing things that fit with these values.

Since living with chronic pain I have taken up blogging so I can still contribute to the wider community, I’m focused on shopping and living as sustainably as possible, I meditate daily and practice gratitude, and I make time each week to spend at least an hour with family and friends.

I have eliminated my gym membership (I can’t exercise to that extent at the moment any way), full time employment (again beyond my limitations), and cleaning the house (we get a cleaner in fortnightly to do the major cleaning, and I’m slowly decluttering so there’s less to pick up and care for around the house).

Bonus Tip: Have Fun

I personally believe the most important tip I’ve been given on my journey towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful lifestyle while living with chronic pain, is to focus on what makes you happy and to have fun.

Tasks such as cleaning can be outsourced and when you have limited energy to contribute to society you are more likely to be happy with your life if (as in the tip above) you focus on what is meaningful to you and make sure you do at least one thing to have fun each day.

Whether it’s taking the time to look out the window and connect with nature, reading a good book or spending time with family and friends, it’s important to make time for fun in your life.

What tips would you give someone who was living with chronic pain and struggling?


turning thirty

Turning Thirty: Reflections, Visions, Plans

11 Jun 15
Megan
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No Comments

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?

 

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.**

join-now-button-19
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.

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?

Live Your Life

Where are we going? Your Life Journey Starts Now

21 Aug 14
Janelle
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Everyone talks about doing more of this and less of that and while we mean what we say when we talk about these ideas they turn more into ‘if I could I would’ than actual plans to move towards achieving these goals.

The key in moving these ideas and plans forward is to identify what it is that you really want, think about where you are at and then to identify where you want to be. This is what Megan and myself have been talking about for the past few weeks.

We have been talking about our journeys towards simple, sustainable and meaningful lives but where does this fit into our lives and where are we heading?

Simple

It sounds straight forward doesn’t it? I want to lead a simple life. However this is far from easy to achieve.

We all have commitments and obligations which take us away from what we would necessarily like to be doing. This is a part of the world and unfortunately there are few of us that have the luxury of solely doing what we want.

This is not however what leading a simple life means.

While we are still at the start of our journey and have much to learn, we want to spend our time doing what is important and fulfilling to us, and want you to do the same. This is different for every person but the steps towards this are the same.

Have you identified what is important to you?

We have and now we are starting our journey towards our goals. This, for us is starting with decluttering our lives. By identifying what is important to us we can focus on these things and everything else can take a back bench.

Focus on what makes you happy and start making choices and decisions that lead you there.

We have also began to declutter our lives by donating or disposing of physical items in our lives. When was the last time you looked around your house and thought every item I own I use regularly? I haven’t.

Are there items in house collecting dust? Maybe it’s time to find them a new home. Doing this also creates more space, less to clean and simplifies your living.

Does your house have too many things distracting you in your own house or is it a peaceful place that you go home to and relax in?

By physically organising yourself and your belongings, you are determining what is important to you and putting it center stage.

This is what living simply is about for us, identifying what is important and what is taking up time in our lives and then moving towards what makes us happy.

Sustainable

Sustainability is a very over used word at the moment and is at the top of many debates around the world.

While we do agree that the sustainability of the planet should not be ignored, when we talk about living a sustainable life we mean closer to home, we mean each of us individually living sustainably.

Do you consider the life you lead to be sustainable?

Do you think about the impact of your decisions or do you live your life impulsively and whimsically?

Living sustainably does not just mean the environment.

[checklist style=”green”]

  • Are living within your means?
  • Are you financially sustainable or do you constantly blow your budget and max out the credit cards?
  • Do you maintain sustainable relationships in your life?

[/checklist]

Both Megan and myself are working towards sustainable lifestyles. We are trying to incorporate sustainable aspects in all categories of our lives.

By defining if physical items are wants or needs when we want to purchase things. This is not meaning we are going without, just becoming more conscious about what we are buying, where we are buying and why we are buying items.

Do you shop locally or support local business?

Do you recycle? With a little research in your area you can usually find a better place for items than the bin and you will feel better about having helped to recycle.

We are also starting a veggie patch of our own which we hope to grow and expand.

Working towards a sustainable lifestyle is not an overnight decision and will take time to get used to as it involves changing habits and your thought processes.

We look forward to sharing with you our journey and all the bumps along the way as we journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

Meaningful

Leading a meaningful life involves identifying what you value and cherish in your life and working towards this. People who lead happy and fulfilled undertake activities that are important to them and have a sense of direction and self-awareness. Once again this will be different for every person.

By working towards simplifying our lives we have determined what is important to us and decided to focus on putting our energy into these activities making our lives more meaningful to us.

If you live and organise your life around what is important to you, you will as a by-product start to lead a meaningful life however big or small you dream.

No one wants life to pass them by and when you start to do things important to you start to live and what you do has meaning. Do you get out of bed in the morning and feel excited about what you are going to do for the day?

Next week we will be talking about taking the first steps towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life and how we have started our journeys.

What are your thoughts on how you could begin a simple, sustainable, meaningful life today?

LiveKen sets Targets for 2014/15 – Looking Forward

31 Jul 14
Megan
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one comments

Over the last few weeks Janelle and I have been having a think about what we’d really like to achieve in the next 12 months and how that can fit in with things here at LiveKen. As a result we’ve set ourselves and LiveKen targets for 2014/15.

LiveKen Targets for 2014/15 (as a business)

We  obviously want to make sure LiveKen is a viable (read profitable) business.

[checklist style=”green”]

  • Increase readership here at LiveKen. It’s a new site so we don’t expect miracles but we do want to bring in new people who are interested in what we have to say.
  • Publish the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang Picture Book.
  • Raise a minimum $1,500 through donations towards the Foggy Frog Campaign, which I’ll go into in further detail in future posts. $1,500 would allow us to develop a educational workshop for schools about life with an invisible chronic illness.
  • Look at options for adding adverts (looking into Google Adsense) to the site and for joining affiliate programs, such as Amazon Associates.

[/checklist]

We will be making sure that with each of these options we align with the LiveKen values. For example, through affiliate links we will only recommend products that we have reviewed ourselves and believe will be helpful.

On top of this we would like to develop a small support/action group, beginning with our friends, that focuses on simple, sustainable and meaningful living.

This group is still in it’s infancy (currently comprises of the 2 of us) but we have so far come up with the following activities that we will be involved in:

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  • Shared gardening areas. We have space in our garden to have a veggie patch while Janelle doesn’t, so we will be sharing gardening tasks and produce from the garden.
  • Sharing practical tips for living a simple, sustainable and meaningful life.
  • Homemade cleaning supplies. We’ve started with laundry detergent.

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Shared Veggie Beds

One of two veggie beds already set up in the garden. There is space for more when we feel confident looking after them.

Our (Joint) Personal Targets for 2014/15

In our personal lives, we will be working together to set up budgeting for both of our households and working to declutter and simplify our own lives and houses.  We will also be working with our partners to really determine what is meaningful to each of us so that we can work out how to focus our energy there.

We will continue to share our journey here on the LiveKen blog in the hope of inspiring others to do the same.

My Personal Targets for 2014/15

Thanks to my chronic illnesses, the targets I have for myself may seem almost insignificant to those of you who are healthy, but for those of you out there who are facing the difficulties of living with chronic illness here are my personal goals for 2014/15: [checklist style=”green”]

  • Continue to work on finding a balance in life and work towards returning to work.
  • Build up to being able to walk/ride at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Complete my current unit for my University degree (last assignment due next week) and then focus on completing my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment by April 2015.
  • Go on a wonderful holiday with my husband to somewhere we can just relax on the beach for a week or two.

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So, there you have it. Those are our aspirations and targets for this financial year. Next week we’ll be sharing what we hope you will get out of joining us on this adventure in 2014/15.

Until then, use the comment box below to let us know what you think of our goals and targets here at LiveKen.

What targets are you aiming for in 2014/15?

What would you like to see more of here on LiveKen?

3 Lifestyle Choices for a Happy and Fulfilling Life

26 Jun 14
Megan
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Everyone wants to be happy and enjoy the life they’re living but so many of us are spending most of our time doing tasks and activities we don’t want to do. We’re unhappy with how our life is going and often complain about not being where we thought we would be. Within my group of friends there are several people that stand out as being (or at least appearing to be) happy with their lives as they are and although they live completely different lifestyles there are three things they have in common. They live their lives in a way that is simple, sustainable and meaningful.

Simple

Each of the people I’ve met who live their lives happy, seemingly carefree and fulfilled live their lives in a way that everything they have and do is simple. The term ‘less is more’ is key to their lifestyles. These people have taken the time to identify what is important to them and eliminate the rest. They don’t have tonnes of useless ‘stuff’ around the house and they only do things that they want to or need to do to live by their own values and priorities. What does this mean for the rest of us who are wanting to live a happier, more fulfilling life? It means we need to do a stock take on our lives and our belongings and identify what it is that is most important to us and eliminate the things we don’t need, love or use regularly. I’ve begun this process myself and I’m slowly working my way through the house identifying the items I never or no longer use. I’m being tough on myself and not holding on to things just because they have sentimental value. Certain sentimental items are staying but most I’m passing on to new homes where they will be used and loved. I try hard not to schedule too many things into my day so that there is space in there for me to rest and reflect on how my life is going. This allows me to pick up on the negative things before they blow out of proportion so that I can try and solve them. Using this technique, which I’ve picked up from my friends, I’m beginning to feel happier about where my life is at. I can now see all the positive things I do have. By removing all the clutter and noise and being more mindful about your actions and possessions you too can begin to identify the happiness you already have in your life. Once you do that you can begin to focus on the activities and items that increase that happiness for you.

Sustainable

Sustainability means so many different things to so many different people! When I’m talking about a sustainable lifestyle here, I’m talking about it in two different ways:

  1. A sustainable lifestyle is one that can be maintained and continued through all the ups and downs of life. It is not a fad or a one off thing, it is constant and ongoing.
  2. A sustainable lifestyle is one that takes into account the effect each action or purchase done as part of that lifestyle has on others and the environment.

I’m not saying that everyone has to be a ‘greenie’ or a ‘hippie’ or whatever other term you’d like to use. These terms have very negative connotations but the reality is this planet is the only one we have and so we all need to do our bit (no matter how small to look after it). I’m also not saying that you can’t spend money on things you like. What I am saying though is that the people around me who are living these happy fulfilling lives generally consider the impact of their decisions and don’t make impulse purchases or decisions regularly. A sustainable lifestyle is one where you are financially secure and have all your basic needs taken care of (food, shelter, love, etc). It is one where you still get to have fun and purchase new and exciting items, but you do so within your means. You avoid bad debt (such as credit cards) and negative relationships so that you aren’t tied down by these. You also consider whether your actions are having a positive or negative impact on your own life, the life of those around you, and the environment that you live in. How can you incorporate Sustainability into your lifestyle? I know that most people have extremely busy lifestyles, and not everyone will want to go all out and do everything in a way that is completely sustainable, so the following tips are some simple and easy ways to incorporate a sustainable mindset into your day to day life. [checklist style=”green”]

  • Buy Less. When you first think you want something new, consider whether it is a ‘need’ or a ‘want’. If it’s a ‘need’ get it, but if it’s a ‘want’ write it down somewhere and wait at least a week (preferably a month) and see if you still want it. If you still want it then, get it.
  • Buy Local. I know there is a lot of hype about organic products being the best thing for you but I believe this can be cost restrictive for some. Instead, consider whenever possible if there is a local option available. Buy fruit and veg from your local farmers market, and if you need new furniture try and find a local designer/maker.
  • Be mindful of your budget. Aim to keep spending under what you earn and save money for large purchases or emergencies in the future. If you use credit cards (like we do), pay them off in full monthly. Whenever possible don’t go into debt and don’t pay interest (mortgages are OK though).
  • Recycle. Most local Councils offer some sort of kerbside recycling program. Make sure you know how it works and utilise it properly. By doing this you reduce the amount of waste actually going to landfill. Some items shouldn’t go to landfill at all but can’t be recycled through the kerbside program (such as batteries and light globes), again check with your local Council for the most appropriate way to dispose of these items in your area.
  • Make it. When you have birthdays, housewarmings and other celebrations try making gifts and cards yourself. If this isn’t possible due to time constraints, buy people experiences instead of stuff.

[/checklist] Recycle - Sustainable Life

Meaningful

An overarching theme in the lives of happy and fulfilled individuals is that the activities that they undertake are meaningful for them. As I mentioned above, in order to simplify their lives these people have identified what is most important to them. By doing this, and simplifying their lives so that everything they do aligns with at least one of the things that are important to them, they know that each and every thing they do is meaningful and has a purpose. Using my own life as an example, I have identified 6 key areas that are important to me:

  • Family and Friends
  • Simplifying
  • Mindfulness
  • Health
  • Continual Learning
  • Work – meaningful and purposeful

Since identifying these areas I now assess my actions and activities to check that I’m doing something towards each of these every day. By doing this I know that what I’m doing is meaningful. It is helping me fulfill a need or helping me help others through meaningful and purposeful work. LiveKen has been set up as a result of me searching for a way to do meaningful and purposeful work while dealing with debilitating chronic illnesses that have interfered with my ability to live the life I had before. Since attempting to live my life by these three principles (simple, sustainable and meaningful) I have begun to feel happy and fulfilled despite my conditions. They help me maintain a positive outlook on life even through the tough times. Yes, I still have my ups and downs but overall I’m feeling good about life. By living by these principles, you too can begin to feel happy and content with your life instead of stressed out and negative. Give it a try!