Ms Betterhome

Birthday reflections

I’m celebrating with a work-at-home day (actually this is a very good celebration, and we will have veggie shepherd’s pie & bubbly later)

I thought I’d revisit the post on my priorities for the year, & see how things are tracking:

Home & relationships I said: I want to devote energy to MrB and our home & garden. That means having fun together, but also staying mindful of the household jobs that really niggle at him. The house is a bit dusty (and furry, thanks to our wonder pup), but in general, we’re on top of all the practicalities, and having a lovely time together. The various aspects of the sex/love constellation are all very sparkly, and I’m very happy (though not complacent, I hope).

Work I said: This year I want to thrive, not just survive!…That means preventing overwhelm by staying positive & forward looking, and focusing on eating well, and getting enough sleep & exercise. I wouldn’t say I’m overwhelmed – but I’m not super positive, either. My area is under-resourced, and I’m looking seriously into ways to make a lateral (or radical) move out of my current position. That said, I’m feeling strong, and well placed to move when I need to.

Exercise I’m still doing 30 mins of walking most days, taking the dog for a stroll, plus 3 x 20-40 minutes of yoga and pilates a week. I bought a couple of Exhale Core Fusion boxed sets, and have been loving their ‘Energy Flow’ DVD. My swimming dropped away in the wake of my last spate of work travel, I’ll get back into it next week. I also need to re-start my habit of getting up early to do 15-30 mins yoga or arm work in the mornings.

Food I’m still eating really well, but think I’ll do another 6 weeks of  myfitnesspal tracking from the 21st of May. My clothes are fitting well, and I’m feeling good, but I’d like to keep my good habits up.


What I’m up to…

Well, I’m not doing the Independence Days Challenge this year. Work has already gotten crazy, and I’m trying to really take care of myself, so it’s first things first!

My personal priorities right now are:

Home & relationships I have a lot of travel this year, and I want to devote energy to MrB and our home & garden. That means having fun together, but also staying mindful of the household jobs that really niggle at him. I like Gala Darling’s take on keeping thing’s fresh.

Work This year I want to thrive, not just survive! This means planning ahead to manage my projects well, and making sure I delegate when I can. I currently have 4 staff, 2 who are pretty autonomous, another 2 who really only work on my projects… So I have to stay in a good place to supervise them properly and delegate (not dump) tasks appropriately. Plus I need to be in a good place to encourage and mentor them, so they can develop according to their own interests. That means preventing overwhelm by staying positive & forward looking, and focusing on eating well, and getting enough sleep & exercise.

Exercise I do 30 mins of walking most days, taking the dog for a stroll. I’ve added 3 x 20-40 minutes swimming or gym cardio per week, plus an additional 1-2 hours a week of yoga and pilates (using Gaim DVDs) , and at least a 1/2 an hour of dancing. I’ll be going to a day club to dance this afternoon. When I do it at home, I tend to do Gabrielle Roth’s Wave DVDs. I have her 3 DVD set – the Power Wave is my favourite. I’ve also started doing some arm work with light hand weights. I’m starting with 1.5 kilos, as my upper body strength is pretty ordinary.

Food I used the myfitnesspal app to keep a food & exercise diary for 6 weeks. I’ve stopped now, as I think I’ve learned appropriate portion sizes pretty well now… I’ll start again if I feel like I’m backsliding. I’m generally eating vegan with attention to getting some protein in all meals; minimising my intake of oil & processed foods (but getting plenty of plant fats in whole nuts & seeds); minimising flour products; and avoiding anything with added sugars, and limiting fruit to the equivalent of two small pieces a day.

According to the scales I didn’t lose kilos in the first 6 weeks, but my body has changed shape dramatically, and I’m fitting pants I haven’t worn for a while, so things are definately happening. I feel a lot stronger, and it’s much easier to climb stairs & hills.

Having said I’m not doing Independence Days, the truth is, we are still gardening, harvesting, cooking at home and buying in bulk. This week I did a big stockup on organic, fair trade coffee, bulk rice (from Honest to Goodness), and tinned tomatoes & beans (from Aldi).

Sunday lunch
October 17, 2011, 4:55 am
Filed under: home & hearth, love & relationships | Tags: ,

We had friends over for lunch on Sunday… it was a lovely afternoon in our better home.

And the pup enjoyed herself, too (all 32 kgs of puppyhood that she is).

(gorgeous pics courtesy of our dear friend, Fluffy).

Family values?
August 13, 2010, 2:05 am
Filed under: home & hearth, learning, love & relationships, politics | Tags: ,

Sharon Astyk’s excellent post on work-life balance struck a chord with me this morning.

We’re in the lead up to a federal election here, and the rhetoric of ‘working families’ is being touted with gusto by the major parties. And Mr B and I have observed more than once that when they say ‘working families’, we sure as hell know they don’t mean us. This isn’t a whiny ‘what about me?’ post  – we’re white, middle class, in a hetero relationship & highly educated, and I recognise all the privileges that go with those factors.

But we both work & we both have family – biological and chosen… and I don’t think that the mainstream debates about (very important issues) like parental leave are ever going to get CLOSE to recognising family structures that don’t focus on ‘mum/dad/small child’ families. A work contact of mine has just resigned his position, because there was no way his employer could give him leave (even without pay) to care for his mother after a stroke.

Likewise, there’s not always full recognition of what it means to say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. I’m fortunate enough to have an employer that accepts that I am a hands-on aunt, and I sometimes take rec days in school holidays to look after my niece & nephew. There are many workplaces where only  parents benefit from flexible work arrangements.

And to take the ‘village’ concept even further… I’m happy to share public spaces with kids, and I believe that’s a good thing – but if your child shouts or hits in public or (to quote a real example) bangs on a fishtank in a restaurant, remember that other people in the village may be concerned by that behaviour. I am not ‘telling you how to raise your child’ – but I am not going to stand by while a person or animal is harmed, either. That’s how communities work.

Trusting change

I’ve been following a thread on Simple Savngs where Trine asks for input from people who’ve ‘changed their lives’ – bigtime. I have done this a couple of times, and got lots of help – from a psychologist, and from friends & family. I also spent a lot of time reading, writing, reflecting, and doing meditations & affirmations to help release the fear of not being in control. Change is so scary, and sometimes I still cling to an uncomfortable or unwanted status-quo, just because the rut feels familiar! It does seem to be harder when changing who I am or what I am doing will impact on the people I love.

Reflecting on changes I have made in my life, I totally recommend the book What Colour is my Parachute?, which is updated every year (though older versions are fine), & is available in most local libraries. It’s a ‘job hunting/career changing’ book, but it goes much deeper than that – it has a lot of exercises to help you work out what you want from life on all levels. I find the writing style very friendly & accessible.

And I’ve never forgotten an anecdote I read in Passionate Marriage, which is challenging but fabulous book about intimate relationships, and the struggles we have when one partner wants something different to the other. It’s mostly about sexuality, but has some REALLY interesting observations about the way we communicate, & resolve conflict in partnerships. (The book is fairly hetero-centric in terms of the case studies, but has something to offer for same-sex partnerships, too).

The author, David Schnarch, talks about a major crisis in his marriage, where his wife wanted to have a child, & he ‘wasn’t ready’. After many heated discussions, she told him that she accepted his decision, but was no longer willing to take responsibility for contraception, as she felt she wasn’t being true to herself by taking the pill when she didn’t want to. She was not rejecting him in any way, but contraception was now his issue, not hers. He had a number of tantrums over using condoms, but she held her ground…she still loved him, wanted to be close, but wasn’t prepared to take the pill.

Since he didn’t want children, he had to take responsibility for that decision. As time passed, taking responsibility for his decision actually forced him to think things through properly, and he decided he was happy to have a child – but it so easily could have gone the other way.

Amazing story, especially as the author doesn’t depict himself in a flattering light, and very relevant (in my eyes) to the struggles we have to go through in order to be true to ourselves AND to our relationships. It’s difficult, but always worth it, IMO.

Giving gifts of ‘experience’
January 28, 2010, 12:21 am
Filed under: learning, love & relationships | Tags: , ,

My partner and I are coming up to our 5th anniversary, and are planning a weekend away. Neither of us need anymore ‘stuff’, so we like to share ‘experiences’ to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries – for example, we went to Cafe Sydney for lunch as our Christmas present to one another.

I have increasingly found it hard to buy gifts for my parents, since they too have no need of stuff. Theatre tickets and dinners are the new gift for them. Last night my dad & stepmother went to the theatre, which was their ‘Xmas present’ from my sister and myself. This was much appreciated, especially as we looked out for my brother, who has an intellectual disability. Since bro can’t stay home alone, my Dad & Stepmum almost *never* get to do dinner and the theatre as a couple. It’s almost a cliche, but truly, the dollar value of a gift of a good experience is almost irrelevant. I’m glad the people I love appreciate them as much as I do!

LGBT communities in a post-peak world
January 15, 2010, 12:51 am
Filed under: love & relationships, politics | Tags:

I have been participating in a discussion over at Casaubon’s Book, in which Zuska comments: “The gay and lesbian kids who leave rural America and small towns for the acceptance they find in big cities may be less thrilled about what a return to subsistence living really means for us socially.” She offers this link as an example of  ‘what subsistence living really means’, presumably to demonstrate what that a community based around subsistence (or home-cooking?) is intrinsically going to exclude queers.

Now, I’m a cis-gendered woman who identifies as queer, and most of my friends are somewhere over the lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer rainbow. Yes, many queers have been excluded from families and communities of origin, but the response has been the formation of new ‘families of choice’, and countless official and unofficial care networks to support homeless youth, people living with HIV, women with breast cancer, elders etc etc.

In response to the implications I think I see in Zuska’s link, my personal experience of non-biological networks of care and kinship in the queer community absolutely involve the same activities that biological families, or faith-based communities might participate in: preparing and sharing food; caring for friends who are sick, in distress or out of work; babysitting; gardening; and celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.

I’ve also been involved in HIV community education for about a decade, and have quite a bit of working knowledge of local organisations like the AIDS Council of NSW, the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation and Twenty10. Most of these organisations receive some government funding, but they are powered first & foremost by the communities they serve. This puts queer people in a position of strength, IMO.

One of the things urban LGBT people are *really* good at is grassroots community organisation, because they HAVE to be. I think we’re actually very well placed to adapt/transition to a post-peak oil world, not because we are ‘independent’, but because we genuinely have skills to offer that model ‘interdependence’.