Category Archives: Inspiration

2015 in Review

Hello readers!

As part of the goals I set myself each year, I like to report back in my last post of each year to see how I’ve progressed and what I could have done better over the year. As I am aiming to start 2016 with a more focused approach to the blog, as well as writing more of a variety of content, the way I approach these goals for next year will be changing. However, here’s what I learned from 2015 in line with the goals I set:

-I have learned that health is a priority. This year, I’ve started to discover that my health is starting to stop me from doing things that I used to be able to with no problems. Any ideas I previously had about doing extended travel are pretty much impossible now due to my health, so I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I will have to do shorter overseas trips than I normally would hope to do. I also cannot really drink alcohol anymore (or as much as I could when I was younger) due to how much it mucks up my health in the days after. My levels of tiredness and fatigue have really increased, meaning I struggle to stay up late and attend social events. I’ve seen more specialists than ever this year, and after trying out an insulin pump sensor (where the doctors could not figure out why, even though I was taking all the right steps, my blood sugar levels still weren’t as good as they should be), my doctors have started me on Metformin. They hope that taking this will help my blood sugar levels stabilise, and help in dropping my insulin levels. I’ve always been afraid of needing to be on more medication than needed, but for a chronic immune disease I have to be accepting that this may be the case. My health has come in the way of a lot of things this year, but I have been reminded this year that I am still a strong, capable person and should be thankful for the health I do have.

-I have learned that it’s good to be flexible with plans for the future. I went into 2015 with no idea of what I wanted to happen with my career, plans for saving up for a house, my husband’s job and much more this year. Most of 2015 was pretty rough for hubby and I in relation to these: hubby made the decision to leave his career of teaching due to the lack of permanency and more (which I won’t go too much into on here), so he is currently trying to find a new job for 2016. His goal is to find something that allows him to pursue his passion for writing – whether it be part of the job, or outside of the job (ie. it’s a job where he doesn’t take the work home, and he has time to work on hobbies at home). It’s been quite a journey seeing his focus change over the year, but after what’s happened this year I can completely understand and support his decision. As a result, we’ll hopefully be closer to our goals of saving up for a house (something we’d never be able to do if he stayed in teaching). At the same time, I’ve spent the year trying to figure out where I wanted to be going career-wise, and have ended the year starting a one year secondment with a fantastic, supportive, positive team. This role will help me cross-skill and give me a chance to see what other opportunities are available, and it’s the perfect place for me to be for 2016. I’m really proud that I’ve taken the step to think outside the box and be more flexible in where I could be going for the future – stepping out of a permanent role for a year to try something new is quite a big change for me. However, I feel that it’s really going to help be establish myself career-wise and figure out the direction I’d like to take for the future.

-I have learned that being healthy is more important that trying to reach weight loss goals. After all the health issues I’ve had through the year, I managed to put on about 2 kilos this year. This was pretty tough for me, however in hindsight I really did have a lot on my plate in the year health-wise which would make weight loss and visual progress impossible. Looking at progress photos from where I started my journey in 2014, however, there’s still a massive difference thanks to muscle and toning. Nevertheless, I really struggled this year with the expectations of the gym to follow their meal plans and programs against what my doctors and health needed from me, as well as not seeing much physical changes in my body from exercise. The realisation that I need to get my health sorted before I can try and actively pursue weight loss was absolutely vital for me this year. Due to finances and needing to afford new medications for 2016, I have stepped back from following the gym’s meal plan program. Instead, I will be going into the new year making my own meal plan to follow: a hybrid of the plan I was on at the gym, filled with the required amounts of food and nutrients my doctors and dieticians have recommended, and taking lots of inspiration from Japanese bento lunches. My hubby and I are aiming to make ourselves more bento styled lunches and eating more organically (more grains, meat, fruit and veg and less processed things) in the new year. I also need to start not drinking soft drink anymore – something which has crept up again on me towards the end of this year. So, in focusing on getting my diabetes blood sugar levels in control, hopefully having less insulin as a result and following my own meal plan, I hope to get my health in order so that I’ll then start seeing some progress at the gym.

-I learned that keeping up the things that you’re passionate about is vital (and that exploring new interests is also vital). This year, I feel that I’ve let my hobbies go to waste – I haven’t actively given myself enough time for the things I enjoy. I’ve only really given myself two sewing projects (one where I only need to hem the dress before I can report on it on the blog), but I just haven’t been inspired enough to finish it off. My resin jewellery adventures went on the backburner once Summer ended last year, while I also barely managed to read any of the books I had in mind for my Goodreads 2015 challenge. This year has been rather serious in nature as a result, focused on sorting out finances, health and jobs. I feel I would have gotten through this year much easier if I had given myself more time to pursue my creative outlets. As we get closer to 2015, I now have my Shamisen – something I intend to share with you as my musical outlet. Hubby and I are also aiming to revamp our sewing area, so it is much more accessible and easy to use (I think one of the main things which makes sewing uninspiring for me is how messy our sewing area is!) And once financial plans are sorted, I’m hoping to get back into resin jewellery and maybe complete a workshop to bring myself up to speed. I really hope I can get these hobbies back on track, as I’d love to share them with you.

-I have learned the value of studying a course relevant to my employment and one that is very versatile for the future. I spent the first half of the year trying to figure out whether I wanted to get back to study: the course I was completing last year came to a halt when it was cancelled and all the distance classes on offer disappeared as a result. With my Asian Studies course no longer available, I decided to re-evaluate what I wanted to study. I have a love of learning, and I can see myself studying so many different areas in the future. However, I never really pursued academia related to my career – this year, I decided to branch out and make this happen. In starting a postgraduate business degree, I felt quite nervous: I was from a humanities background, and unsure as to whether I could be as concise and factual as a business degree required. However, my first subject was a fantastic introduction for me, and I can see just how relevant and useful this is going to be for me. I received a distinction for this subject (in fact, I was two marks off a High Distinction), and considering I completed this subject in my own time around full-time work, I’m suite proud of the result. I am hoping in the new year to try and do two subjects a session with the support of work, which would mean that I could potentially finish my Masters degree with a double major by the end of 2017 – years in advance of when I would complete it if I did it all in my own time. Studying a degree directly related to my career (which could also help me branch out into other areas if I decided to do so in the future) has been such a confidence booster for me this year.

– I have learned that I need to stop writing about certain parts of my life on the blog just to “have content” each week. As a result of this, I’ve made a conscious decision to stop talking about my job/work on the blog. Work is work. Last year, I felt that even though it was something I could provide an update on for the blog, it shifted my focus from using the blog as my creative outlet. Also, as I’m trying to differentiate myself from my professional/career through this website, I don’t see as much value in providing updates. I’m starting 2016 in a fantastically positive and supportive space for my career, which likely means I will have more energy and enthusiasm to working on some of my goals surrounding hobbies and outside-of-work pursuits.

Overall, I think that for 2016 I will continue most of the goals I had listed for 2015, but rather put them as overall goals. I think giving a year limit for the goals makes them unrealistic and makes the blog too rigid in the content I’d like to share. So, these goals will be more of a reference point for me to keep in mind when sharing ideas on here for next year onwards, but I’ll also focus on just writing and sharing more on here, and not being afraid of stepping outside the box of my usual content.

I look forward to sharing 2016 with you! Happy New Year 🙂

Mrs Ginger Fox Visits Ikea for the First Time Ever (Week 45 Update, 2015)

Last week’s update (apologies for the delay) is based around my very first trip to Ikea. Seriously, I can’t believe that I’ve managed to avoid Ikea until now…I must have been living under a rock, or was a very poor uni student (or both). But anyway, it may have been a good thing that I avoided it for so long, as Ikea has now given me a massive list of ideas and products to investigate. Anyway, here are my overall thoughts on surviving Ikea as a complete noob to the Swedish mega-store:

-Ikea is big. BIIIIIIIIIG. And it feels like so much more of an adventure with the mapped-out trail of the store. Hubby and I hadn’t figured out the quick escapes, and ended up walking through the entire store to exit as we missed the sneak-out exit in the food court after lunch. Oops. Oh well, there was much adventure and gallivanting as a result! So, if you’re low on your daily step count for your Fitbit device, Ikea is a great place to go. by browsing and walking through the place pretty much twice, I almost racked up my whole daily step goal.

-Thank goodness we were there to mainly purchase things for other people! I spent the whole walking trip around the store needing to convince myself about not getting a filigree-detail vintage style mirror. Unless you have a game-plan, this store is deadly.

3f28c5b6-de9c-4226-8a87-88c40e373d52

Oh mirror, stop tempting me so.

-It’s definitely a great place to gain inspiration for redecorating or revamping worn-out rooms. However, it is a challenging place to go when you’re renting. There’re so many cool shelving systems and cupboards that can be mounted onto walls, and mega walk-in wardrobes…but unfortunately, due to rental laws we’d be unable to put them into our current place.

One day, I'll have a walk-in-wardrobe. But today is not that day.

One day, I’ll have a walk-in-wardrobe. But today is not that day.

-There appears to be two types of affordability for items at Ikea. There are items which are bargains and affordable, or items that are overpriced. There are a couple of things that hubby and I were looking at, until we realised we could get pretty much the exact same thing at a discount warehouse, but for even cheaper. However, Ikea does have lots of strengths in the storage solutions they offer, as well as the quality of the storage furniture.

-Food was a bit hit and miss. As a coeliac, the meatballs were definitely not gluten free, so I couldn’t try the main item everyone raves about on the menu. In fact, hubby did try them and was a) not impressed and b) felt very sick for hours after. I’m pretty confident we wouldn’t write home about the food, and will probably shop on a full stomach next time (a convenient way to also try and avoid grumpy-husband-when-hungry-and-surrounded-by-too-many-shoppers syndrome).

Pretty lights and windows. And pre-grumpy shopping husband, haha.

Pretty lights and windows. And pre-grumpy shopping husband, haha.

-Speaking of the above, like many major mega-outlets, you’re going to have to deal with many, many shoppers being there who don’t understand how to be polite and not strike up a conversation with a group of trolleys in the middle of a busy t-intersection walkway. It’s a grumpy shopper’s nightmare (aka, my hubby). So…if you or your significant other is a grumpy shopper, plan ahead and give yourself extra time, or try to go at a non-busy time (aka not the weekend).

Overall, if you know what you’re going to purchase at Ikea and have a small game plan, Ikea is wonderful. If you have a budget to stick to, it can be a nightmare. However, it appears to be relatively easy to compromise between the two. I now have many ideas about getting a more organised sewing space set up, and hubby and I have some good ideas for making a more solid gaming area. Plus, we now have our mega-cute house terrarium structures to start developing our inside-herb garden. Anyway, Ikea is something everyone should experience at least once, in my view, while I may find myself venturing back there in the not-too-distant future.

Our cute little herb garden glass-house :)

Our cute little herb garden glass-house 🙂

This post was polished by Page & Parchment.

Week 36 Update, 2015

tumblr_mvvjs0wG5E1qmib1so1_500

Hello there! Sorry this week’s post is delayed – I have studying to blame. I’ve managed to just finish writing my first assignment for this session, and finally have some spare time to write up my weekly update. It’s going to be a busy week, so I’m glad I have some time – even if minimal, to catch up with you 🙂 Here’s what I’ve been up to:

-I spent all of Monday at my Diabetes Clinic check-up, with my awesome endocrinologist (the Dean of Medicine for the university in the region, as well as being from Cambridge University), as well as the supportive Diabetes Educator Nurse. I was extremely nervous, as due to being unwell, my diabetes had been all over the place, and as a result I felt my progress towards making my condition more manageable for future plans had come undone. However, my endocrinologist, even after hearing my bad news, was full of positivity and encouragement about how I’ve been going, and is confident I’m still going in the right direction. In fact, my Hba1C is down from 7.9% to 7.5% in the course of three months, which was absolutely shocking to me (I thought, given how many levels I’ve had above 25 mm0l over the past few weeks due to infections/steroids/antibiotics, I’d be doomed!) Considering I was sick for almost a month (of the three months examined), this is amazing results.

The team are also investigating whether they can give me a Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring Device (CGM for short) to use for a week or so to ensure we can closely monitor my levels 24/7 for a week. This is another device which has to be inserted under my skin and kept clipped onto me like the pump – something I’ve always been scared about doing due to being worried about having too many things connected to me. But, I may finally be confident enough to give it a go if it means I can get my blood glucose levels sorted, especially whilst I’m continuing to lose weight (something which makes diabetes insulin levels dramatically change and need to be adjusted all the time). Overall, the diabetes clinic is really happy with my progress considering how ill I’ve been over the past few weeks. Hubby and I have some work to do to tighten up our carbohydrate counting at meals, but otherwise I’ve been doing a fantastic job checking my blood sugar levels through the day, as well as trying to be more active.

-In light of my recent clinic visit, as well as all of my health issues recently, I’m constantly thinking of how lucky I am to have such a supportive husband who is eager to understand my health issues and to help me. He has gone out of his way to understand how my health needs to be taken care of, as well as researching and working on some projects to help prepare our kitchen/meals better so we are more accurately counting the carbs and sugar levels in our meals.

-As of last week, I’ve returned to the Curves Complete program, going to the gym 3 days a week (returning to 4 days once I no longer have pain in my ribs, which will hopefully be next week). I’ve also started my lunch-time walks again, as the doctors can clearly see the positive difference in my blood sugar levels when I am doing these walks at work. I have also started using the “Calm” app for guided meditation, and have just completed the “7 Days of Calm and Mindfulness” program, which was a great introduction to meditation. Until my ribs are fully recovered, I’m using this app until I can get back to my full yoga routine, however I feel like I will continue to use this app to help me relax before bed, even after I resume yoga.

-Last week, I also completed the 100 day Global Corporate Challenge, which I was participating in through work. Monitoring my daily step intake over 100 days was really motivating for me, even if I spent the last few weeks of the program unwell, meaning I had very little progress. According to the GCC app, I managed to lose 2.8 kilos for the duration of the program, improved my blood pressure and heart health and with my step count intake, travelled from Japan to Peru (virtually). It was quite encouraging seeing the progress of other teams (unfortunately, our team captain only entered ¼ of their steps for the whole program). Overall, it was great to be a participant in the program, and I hope to participate again next year – hopefully when I’m in a better state of health!

-Over the weekend, hubby and I finished watching all seasons of The Great British Sewing Bee. It has definitely left me inspired to get some sewing projects finished, and dedicate more time to developing my sewing skills. Not only will I be able to start developing a unique wardrobe, but I’ll also build my skills and confidence. On my radar, I have a circle skirt from last year which needs to be finished, a dress to hem, and then a new circle skirt pattern to try out on some of my materials. I also am going to try and make some vintage-inspired pyjamas soon. Here’s hoping I can stay on track, and also that I have some epic time management skills to fit this hobby in around study and work.

-My current session of study finishes in November, with the next session not commencing until February next year. As such, I was contemplating if I’d complete a subject via distance in a Summer Session instance, but have decided that I want to take a break over Christmas to spend time with family and relax instead: with all the health issues I’ve had this year, and no holidays, it’s important that I give myself a proper break. I’ll hopefully catch up on some craft projects and cleaning up the house in those months where I have no studies to worry about.

That’s about all I’ve got to report on for this week. Thanks for reading 🙂

tumblr_nm046l6qDN1sgjntjo1_540

Week 18 Update, 2015

9f7debc28b7fce84d394b4329f15edff (1)

Update time! The past week has really flown by, and it feels like nothing major happened. However, we’ll see what I can come up with here:

-My NLD appears to be settling down. In saying that, I really hope I don’t jinx myself for my dermatologist appointment today (Monday), where I hope to get the ‘all clear’ to return to exercise, walking and the gym. My leg hasn’t been giving me much pain at all: only when it’s been irritated due to the bandages being too tight, or when I’ve done too much walking and need to rest. It’s now been three months since I had to stop going to the gym, and I am so ready to return. I’m over not having any energy, and I’d love to see the amazing blood sugar levels, confidence and energy that the gym and regular exercise gave me. I had to drop all physical activity in February in an instant, and that’s been really hard for me to do after finally making exercise and being active a daily part of my life. I do miss it, and I’m wishing with all my might that I’ll get approved to return to the gym for this week. Update: as of tonight, I have received my doctor’s approval to return to the gym! I’m very relieved, and will write more about this next week 🙂

-Over the weekend, hubby and I set ourselves up with some YouTube videos to walk us through making simple logos in Adobe InDesign. This was in line with my curiosity with trying out some Graphic Design. Well…it was interesting, but it wasn’t as enjoyable for me as learning things in Photoshop. I also feel that I perhaps lack the creative eye required for Design, therefore my skills would be better reserved for editing, or basics in Photoshop instead. So, it may be back to the drawing board on skills to look into developing…though I’ve had some really good ideas and feedback on family this week on things that I should have a look into.

-Also, I can confirm that I am still slightly addicted to exploring Pillars of Eternity. It’s so refreshing playing a game created by many who worked on the Baldurs Gate series, where it has so many of the great things modern technology and skillsmanship (as well as crowdfunding) has given, such as an epic soundtrack, detailed character appearances and party interactions. I am loving the detail of the story, as well as “good” and “evil” not clearly being defined in the game as well. I really want to write a review/opinion post on the game, so hopefully you’ll see one up here soon!

-In our weekly D&D group, we’ve started playing a Pokemon based series, which has been developed by my husband based on a combination of the Big Eyes, Small Mouth games and homebrew based on the actual mechanics of Pokemon (ie. lots of maths and probability). It looks like a very exciting game that we have ahead, however the first game (where we just created our characters and Pokemon) was basically us having to use a lot of math. I haven’t really done detailed maths since high school, so my poor brain was very tired, haha. But yes, we hope to officially start the game this week, and I look forward to reporting back here with details 🙂

-Speaking of my husband, I’ll be helping him out more with his YouTube channel. I am already doing a Zelda-based web series with him (which I will share on here soon), however due to the increase of followers we’ve received through YouTube and Twitter, he’s thinking about branching out into other areas. It’s a completely new and foreign type of media for me to be doing, but it’s really enjoyable being able to share our experience and love of video games and nerd culture. We’re also so extremely thankful that people actually take the time to watch the videos as well and share their feedback. So yeah, I’ll be reporting more on this in the near-future.

-On the same note as the videos, hubby and I have decided to sign ourselves up for Nerdblock this week. We like to allow ourselves to purchase something small each month as a treat, of sorts. After researching, and hearing feedback from friends, we’ve decided that getting a Nerdblock each would be a good replacement for this. Each month we will receive a box of goodies, and it will always come with a tee-shirt (I really need to branch out with my nerdy t-shirts, especially given how most of the wardrobe is work-friendly clothing). So, it’s something we can look forward to. I’m going to be signing up for the Arcade version (video game merchandise), while hubby is signing up for the Comic version. Whilst shipping is only a few dollars less than the Nerdblock itself, the whole thing pretty much would cost the same as us buying a nerdy shirt and one piece of nerdy memorabilia from a game store in Australia. We’re going to do an unboxing video on YouTube each month too (I haven’t found too many Austalians doing these so far), and it’s good to do something small to keep our hobbies and passions alive and our fan-girling/boying active.

Well, that’s about all I have for this week. Lots of nerd and video-game talk, sorry (but not sorry). I have been working on a few posts behind-the-scenes, and am hoping to have at least one up in the next week. Two of my upcoming posts are about my travel experiences, while another is about the importance of staying creative. Anyway, thanks for reading 🙂

416c9869b60f8418a49036abfcde44b3

 

This post was polished by Page & Parchment.

 

Week 17 Update, 2015

e9d5a059d8fc0ab9478549cead7f885b

We meet again! Hello, and welcome to another weekly update. Again, I’d like to apologise for the delayed post from last week (which only went up a few days ago). I had a busy week: professionally, emotionally and health-wise, therefore I needed to sort a few things out (as well as ensure we had internet after the crazy weather) before posting. Anyway, this week I aim to get back to it and write a few posts in advance to get more content on here. Here’s hoping I can stay on track! In the meantime, here’s what I got up to over this week:

-One week to go until I see if I get approved to return to normal exercise, movement and the gym! My leg hasn’t played up too much this week, other than a little pain from walking too much during my work conference and associated events. I am hopeful that I’ll be able to start being more active next week!

-As I’ve mentioned before, I attended my first conference for work last week. Overall, it was very encouraging, yet discouraging at the same time. Firstly, I was one of the youngest there, which showed me that it seems that I’m doing reasonably well in this field. There were also some really inspirational speakers there who have extensive experience in the field, and have really put their heart and souls into making a difference; a very refreshing perspective. There are also some amazing opportunities coming up for professional development, and the potential to go overseas for staff in our office. However, all the other individuals there expressed that we were in an industry where there’s little funding and resources, and if you don’t have someone at the very top that is passionate about this particular industry and involved with staff, or if you are in a non-innovative and non-modern workplace, it can be a dead-end. Because of this, it made me feel that unless I am someone who stands out in the field, or does extraordinary work, I’m not going to make it far in the long haul. Yes, it was inspiring, and there are so many ideas and opportunities I hope will eventuate based on what we learned there, but I’m doubtful that most of these would actually eventuate. So yeah, overall I had a fantastic time, but it’s left me uncertain as to what opportunities are available for the future, and if this is the direction I’m meant to be going in.

-This weekend, my amazing husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I cannot believe that it’s been a whole year since we got married! Looking back, the past year has really flown by. Yet it’s been filled with some fantastic adventures: the main one was when we went overseas together for the first time (I plan on writing a post about our favourite adventures from the honeymoon soon). It’s also been with some times where we’ve grown as a couple: financial struggles and a myriad of health struggles from my end. Through everything this year, we’ve really built ourselves a strong foundation in the start of our marriage. We’ve also spent the year figuring out the direction we’d like to take our lives in the next few years too (part of our big epiphany) which has been a result of thinking for a year or two about where we’d like to end up. Overall, I am blown away at how lucky I am to have found my complete soulmate – his nerdiness, humour, creativity, intelligence, caring and thoughtful nature is the perfect match for me. I cannot wait to see what the next year brings us (as well as the rest of our life together!).

We celebrated by having a very fancy dinner in the 360 dining revolving restaurant in Centrepoint Tower, Sydney (which was something we wanted to do since we first started dating). I’d highly recommend 360 dining to anyone with dietary requirements – not only were there beautiful views and fantastic service, but they completely catered to my gluten-free requirements. They also gave us a decorated dessert dish for our anniversary (on top of all our other meals), when they found out it was the reason for our dinner that night. I haven’t seen such great service in a long time, especially in Sydney, so definitely want to go back there soon! We also celebrated our anniversary with a picnic at home (weather was terrible), reminiscent to our very first date. It’s been such a great weekend celebrating our milestones 🙂

-Part of my anniversary present from my husband was a video game I’ve been eagerly waiting to start playing: Pillars of Eternity. Created by many of the main workers on the Baldur’s Gate game series, and crowd-funded by over 77,000 fans, this game is deemed to be the RPG game of the year. So far, I’ve played about an hour of the game, and have recorded my first play-through and opinions (which will hopefully go up on our YouTube channel soon). Overall, I’ve been so impressed with the game and cannot wait to play more! Firstly, the music is absolutely incredible and really creates an ambience so suitable to the setting of the game. The game has also been built around the traditional D&D systems, and really feels like a D&D role-playing game due to the detail that the storytelling provides; even through conversation with the NPCs, the description used in the dialogue text really helps the player feel immersed in the game. The storyline itself has been unique so far for a game created by those who made the Baldur’s Gate games i.e. You don’t start out being a prisoner, or on-the-run. I really can’t wait to keep playing this game! Also, on a side note, I put in my pre-order for the Elder Scrolls Online this week. I won’t be able to play this until its release on June 9, however I’ve got Pillars of Eternity to play until then!

-Hubby and I started using our Netflix this week (I received a free 6 months of Netflix through my phone company, yay!) In particular, we’ve been watching Orange Is the New Black, which is quickly becoming a favourite show for us. The first episode was a bit slow to start; however, over the next few episodes, we’ve been really impressed with the writers of the show and the character development. My favourite character is definitely Red. Anyway, having Netflix is probably a dangerous thing for us, haha 🙂

-Late last week, I received notification confirming my participation in the volunteering program I mentioned a few weeks back! I’ve been partnered with a high-school student, and will be starting the program in May. I can’t wait to start this experience, and feel it’s really going to be beneficial for myself; I’ll be taking a step away from thinking only about myself and those I love, and trying to make a difference to a complete stranger. I hope it makes me become a more compassionate, understanding and grateful person in the process, and that I can help out my mentee.

That’s all for the past week’s update! Thanks for reading 🙂

b5ecbbd537c99618b56adba9a7eeb895

 

This post was polished by Page & Parchment.

Eurovision: Mrs Ginger Fox’s Favourite Entries for 2015

Well, it’s getting close to being one of the best times of the year – the time that the Eurovision Song Contest is held. There’s something about Eurovision that makes it so very special for so many viewers around not only Europe, but internationally. Whether it is the celebratory efforts of each country involved, the dedication towards sharing a country’s culture with the world, or even those entries that appear to be for the ‘shock’ factor or a pure joke, the Eurovision Song Contest has been embraced and loved by Australians for many years. This year marks 60 years of the contest and is a very special year for Australian fans of Eurovision, as we will be participating with our own Guy Sebastian representing us. Every year, I like to listen to all entries and select a few favourites, as well as a “what the!?” special mention.

This year, it seems like there’s plenty of power ballads (what happened!? I’m looking at you, Moldova…where are your typically quirky entries from a few years ago!?), songs trying to send an important message to the world, and dodgy pop renditions about rejection.

Here’s my picks for Eurovision 2015:

I had to include these guys in my favourites. Firstly, it’s punk. Secondly, it’s Finnish punk. However, most importantly, these guys are showing that no matter what obstacles life throws at you (all members of the band have a disability), you can still rock. This entry, therefore, ticks all the boxes for me as to what Eurovision is all about.

“I’m different, and that’s ok. Here I am!” This song is an anthem, with a singer with such a powerful voice. Awesome work, Serbia! However, what won me over for this song was the film-clip: showing individuals around the world singing along to the song (aka Chat Roulette-style). The positivity and passion in this song, as well as the message makes it a powerful contender, in my opinion.

Definitely my sentimental/moving pick for this year. After last year’s hipster entry from Hungary, this entry seems to be more serious, with a global message of such relevance. Again, the film-clip is such a heart-warming piece in the form of a flash-mob choir from a street performance. The harmonies are so, so perfect in this, with the voices blending together so well and the guitar accompaniment perfectly balanced. This is such a beautiful piece for such a tragic reality in today’s world.

Let’s face it: this song is catchy. The ‘twang’ in the singer’s voice at the start, and that the lyrics are pretty nicely written. Overall, I feel this song could do quite well.

YES, I ADMIT IT. I really like this song. Guy really found his niche in doing Motown-esque music, as it really suits his voice. This song also is majorly catchy. Plus…it’s OUR FIRST EVER ENTRY, and I’m proud of it. Here’s hoping it helps us be victorious.

Um, wow. WOW. Italy has traded in Il Divo, and has upgraded to a younger, hotter version, it appears. Also, one of these guys (the one wearing glasses) totally looks like Gideon from Scott Pilgrim vs the World (now you see it, you’ll be unable to un-see it!) Yes, I know this is pop-era to an extent, but it’s such a STRONG song. Italy hasn’t sent as strong a song for such a long time (last year *almost* got there, and the year before was so bad that the version of the song I got from the internet had a random loudly wailing in the background, haha).So many ladies around the world will be flailing over this one, for sure.

And, lastly, my “What The!?” favourite for this year…

  • Israel: The guy got his heart broken, but that’s ok – he is the King of Fun and wants to show you Tel Aviv and ask you if you like his dancing in the song, Golden Boy. Riiiiight.

Special mentions: both of the entries titled Warrior. Malta’s entry with the string musicians wearing hoodies was pretty awesome, as was Georgia’s with an epic video clip. I couldn’t decide between these two as to which was the better version!

So, who will you be backing in Eurovision this year?

This post was polished by Page & Parchment.

Week 15 Update, 2015

fb9c9adbbf99ed3159a5fe3bcde74247

Hello there! Apologies that I only submitted one post last week and am a bit late this week – life admin got in the way. However, as I had the time to research and watch each of the Eurovision 2015 entries in the process, you can expect an article with my favourite entries later this week! Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to over the past week:

-My NLD leg ulcers have been a bit funny this week. They’ve gone from being crazy-infected and very full of liquid (again, sorry for visuals), to being very tough, full of solid matter and red. I actually had an incident late last week where I woke up to my ulcers bleeding everywhere, which was very unusual. As such, I’ve had to dress my leg differently over the past week, in preparation for likely surgery this week. The dermatologist told me last fortnight that it’s extremely likely that, when cleaning the wound in the minor procedure, he will probably give me anaesthetic due to how much pain I was in last time. Luckily, after seeing his today, he only needed to slightly clean the wound.  Regardless I’ve been advised that I will need solid rest for a few days after to ensure that the wound does not become infected again. As such, I have already booked in leave, so that even if I do feel okay, I have to take it easy. Realising how big a part all of these chronic immune conditions (I have three) have in my life has been hard recently – especially considering I only gained two of them in the past few years. Being someone that enjoys challenging herself and being busy, it’s been incredibly difficult realising that I have to ‘take it easy’ and rest.

-Yet again, I have barely done any exercise this week, thanks to my leg giving me shots of searing pain since late last week. I can see all of my hard work from the gym coming undone due to needing to rest for my leg. It’s been really disappointing, and (even though I don’t weigh nearly as much as when I started at the gym) I’ve been rather hard on myself. I had a bad moment over the weekend when, whilst trying to find a formal dress to wear for an upcoming event, I discovered that I currently am barely fitting into any of them. As such, I went on a bit of a spiral about feeling bad about my looks over the weekend. However, I need to remember that taking it easy for now is needed so that I have a recovered leg. Getting back into the gym and losing the excess weight will be easy, however if I have to try and do this with a non-recovered leg, I will get nowhere. Realising that I’m not being lazy – I’m being healthy in giving myself rest time (ordered by several doctors) to ensure that I am as healthy as I can be before starting back at the gym.

-Over the weekend, I also started my sewing project of the Asian-print 60s dress. However, we came across a problem – when cutting out the bodice, even whilst following the directions of the pattern hubby accidently cut out the bodice wrong. After a second attempt (which also came out wrong), we ended up running out of fabric to be able to make the whole dress. Unfortunately, this fabric no longer exists, so we cannot buy additional fabric in the same print to work with. So, I will be using this fabric to make an epic formal circle skirt at a later date. Hubby is going to source some other fabric for me (to make this dress at a later date), and I’ll probably wear another dress to the event instead. Apologies – this project will be on hold until we can source some other material.

-I’ve been using my ‘Spin for Perfect Skin’ contraption for about a week now, and I’m quite impressed with the results. I will write a post about this with more details soon, however I’m finding that my skin is starting to clear itself up. My skin is much softer, and I haven’t had a breakout since starting to use this. I’m going to give it another week or two before I post some ‘before and after’ pics and a better post. However, I’m pretty happy with it all so far.

-You may have seen in a post via Twitter and Facebook that I finished the main quest in Skyrim for the first time over the weekend. Yes, it’s taken me several years to actually have time to sit down and play the game the whole way through. Like any good game, I feel a little bit sad since finishing the main quest, however there’s so many side quests that I am yet to complete. I haven’t decided whether I go ahead with the path line of the werewolves, or the vampires (spoiler alert, potentially), and I have not directly sided with either the Stormcloaks or Imperials yet. I’m going to play a little bit more of Skyrim over the next few weeks to see what else is left to do in the game. However, I have also been investigating whether I will go ahead and purchase the Elder Scrolls Online. I’ve been watching a few video reviews, and will have a chance to test out the game over the weekend too. I’ll keep you updated 🙂

-I had a quite stressful week last week. My workload (like the majority of staff in my office/unit) is quite insane due to lack of staffing and resources, however I do feel that I must ‘grin and bear it’ to a sense, as that’s what everyone else is doing. As a result of this, however, I’ve had several days this week where I’ve come home quite upset, disappointed and frustrated as to where I’m currently at career-wise. Hubby had reminded me over and over again this week about my plan to use this time to work on my hobbies and interests outside of work, and I can see that I haven’t been focusing on this. I’m hoping to ‘come up for air’ so-to-speak over the next week, and spend some time on out-of-work interests. The next two weeks are going to be intense work-wise, so I desperately need to ensure I have some creative outlets set up in advance.

That’s about all I have to report this week. Apologies for the lack of interesting content, or the overdose on not-as-positive reflections. I’ve had to do a lot of life admin this week, and I guess my reactions can be seen through this. Anyway, thanks for reading and hanging in there 🙂

1f7495eba5505ab810d6b984e783222c

This post was polished by Page & Parchment.

Week 14 Update, 2015

ec00eb31a95edbadadf218d5635090cd

Hello from the long weekend! I’m writing this post across the Sunday/Monday of the Easter long weekend after a relaxing few days of catching up with family, playing video games and catching up on TV shows. So, it’s about time for me to write an update for you 🙂 I feel like it’s going to be a long one for this week! Here it goes…

-After seeing my infected leg last week, the doctors have formally given me an indicator of when I should be able to return to the gym. They want me to take 2 weeks after my *expected* surgery in two weeks time, which means – should all go to plan and I recover well – I should be able to start back at the gym at the start of May. I have discovered that I have put on yet another kilo due to not being able to exercise or be active, which has been disappointing for me. However, everyone I have mentioned this to – whether it be hubby, friends, doctors or the gym- have all said that my priority is making sure my leg recovers. Pushing myself at this stage could have bad long-term complications for my leg, so I need to take it easy. It’s been really hard for me to do this, because I feel that I’ve been letting a lot of people down. The pain of my leg changes on a daily basis, therefore I’ve had to change plans at the last minute a lot recently. It’s made me feel like a complete douche of a friend, terrible colleague/worker and an unhelpful wife. I’ve had this condition for five years now, and I just wish it would stop getting in the way of life, especially over the past two months now.

-Over the past few days, a few things pretty awesome happened on the internet. Firstly, a photo of hubby and I at our wedding (from my Instagram) was featured on Buzzfeed in their article titled “47 Brides Who Prove What Perfect Really Means”. I didn’t even know this had happened until I received a combination of notifications from Facebook friends and new followers through Instagram. Hubby and I are number 38, titled “It’s OK to get weird”, and some people did think this title was having a slight “go” at us. In all honesty, we did not picture it that way at all, as we’ve always acknowledged our quirks and weirdness (heck, we described our wedding as nerdy and quirky). Anyway, through this post, I’ve met some amazing people and fellow bride alumni (haha), which has been an awesome experience.

Secondly, my NLD post I wrote a few weeks on here actually was re-tweeted by a few prominent (and largely followed) Type 1 Diabetes Twitter communities. I am so happy that I’m able to help in spreading knowledge on NLD, and that others have found the article useful. Plus, I’ve also now been able to connect with some great people and groups through Twitter. Overall, these two experiences via the internet have really left me inspired to keep sharing things through my blog, and through Instagram and other mediums, as people can care, or even be helped from it. I’d like to send a massive thank you to those who have reached out and followed me (whether on here, Instagram or Twitter) and continue to read and inspire me to write more. I really appreciate it 🙂

-Over the weekend, I have started a sewing project with the help of my dear husband. I have a work conference later this month, where a formal dinner event requires me to have an evening/formal dress. So, I’m using this opportunity to try and sew my first retro-inspired dress. As I’m not a confident sewer at all (I’m very much a beginner), hubby will be helping prep patterns and pinning. If this doesn’t work out, I do have a Plan B thanks to eBay, however I am hoping to document the making of this dress through an upcoming blog post. I’ll keep you posted, and any sneak peeks will be shown on Instagram.

-So, yes. I have a work conference to attend in a few weeks, where I also get to attend a fancy dinner and be put up in some nice accommodation. In all honesty, I’m really, really excited about this. I’ve wanted to participate in a conference or external event for work for a while. My ultimate wish for a few years was to participate in an international event for work (this is domestic), but regardless, I’m really excited that I’ve got this opportunity to learn and network. It’s making me feel that, as a worker, I will have the chance to feel involved and that my work is important – something I’ve really needed recently.

-Over the weekend, I decided to bring home my viola and clarinet from parents’ place (yeah, I haven’t touched my viola since a gig almost 2 years ago, and my clarinet for even longer). I’ve recently been considering picking up my instruments again, as being able to play music is such a precious skill to have in life. Even if I ended up not deciding to pursue it professionally when I was younger, recognising that it’s something I can do for fun and not ‘seriously’ has been a concept that’s taken me a while to understand (seriously…). Once we have our new computer built, I’m also going to boot up Sibelius and have another go at composing again. I’m also considering (if my clarinet is still in good enough condition) to look into any jazz bands in the area. One of the best experiences I have had as a musician was playing jazz, particularly being a part of the Senior Jazz band in high school with peers in the year above me. So many of those guys were incredibly talented, and we sounded really good. In fact, it’s probably been one of the most fun music experiences I’ve had, so I’m considering whether I try to pick up the clarinet and research some local jazz. It’s also made me wonder about investing in a soprano saxophone (something I’ve thought about picking up for a few years), or (if needed) a newer clarinet. I miss playing good jazz music, and miss playing music overall. Here’s hoping I can be proactive about utilising this skill.

-I’ve been in a bit of a predicament over the past couple of months. I’ve been thinking about the things I love to do and am passionate about, such as music (as per above), and realising a few things. Firstly, unfortunately none of these things that I’m passionate about would provide a decent income to live off (it would most likely be less than I am on currently, as a new-ish young professional), and secondly/more importantly, I wouldn’t know what to do if I decided to pursue a qualification in them. Music basically goes into either teaching, or working as a musician – neither of which seem very appealing to me (unless it was private teaching). Plus, most teachers end up pursuing formal Australian Music Examination Board (AMEB) grades to prove their skills, which has been something I’ve always been a bit unsure about going after. However, I also like the idea of being a composer, or even a theory teacher, though the same restrictions apply. Maybe I’m just destined to keep the things I’m passionate about as gigs or hobbies on the side around work which pays the bills. It’s been tough realising that, thanks to the real world and financial constraints, what you dreamed of achieving when you were younger is pretty much impossible to go after as an adult…

-Now that we’ve caught up on some financial bits and pieces (stupid Rego and Greenslip), hubby and I have been discussing budgeting in some money to purchase items to review for our social media platforms. Hubby will be able to invest in some old and new games to review, while I can use mine for a variety of things: clothing, accessories, make-up, skincare, fabric, patterns…the list could be endless. Is there anything you would like to see me review? Please let me know in the comments below, and I’ll see what I can do 🙂

Wow, it’s been a week of lots of creative ideas and working on things I’m passionate about. It’s exactly the type of week I needed after last week, upon reflection. So, thanks for reading, and thanks for sticking with me each week. Til next time 🙂

a9c2558aaf117ecd02caa23f1fe99353

This post was polished by Page & Parchment.

How to live in the present when you are a future-focused individual

Pretty much.

Pretty much. Picture from Pinterest.

I will admit: I am very much a person who focuses on the future. As a result, I can often become anxious and worried about the unknown. Heck, with the epiphanies my husband and I have been having about our future plans, my brain is constantly thinking about the Future every day. A mega-planner at heart, it is hard for me to accept this and live in the ‘now’. My husband explained to me that this makes me the ‘rock’ of our relationship, where I am definitive in my plans and can find it difficult to be flexible. However, he is like ‘water’: he is willing to be flexible, but requires more direction and reminders for urgent tasks. From these observations and lots of conversations since, I’ve gained a few tips on how I can focus on the present. Here’s some I’d like to share with you:

-Find little things in every day to look forward to.

Sometimes, it can be hard to stay motivated in a day filled with normal, mundane tasks – even more so if you’re like me and like to let the mind wander and think about plans for the future. To counteract this, I’ve given myself small and minor, yet constant, events through the day that I look forward to. For me, this includes seeing the sunrise/colours of the sunrise as the sky clears in the morning, having my cup of green tea and mint when I start work, having a post-work cuddle at home, and writing my blogs each week. While these tasks can be ones I need to do each week, I find that allowing these to be things that I look forward to, rather than adding them to the routine and schedule of things in the present, a very therapeutic thing.

-Appreciate the monotony and familiarity of the now

When future plans eventuate and actually happen, I’ll probably look back and wish I had the time and energy to do things. The value of circumstances in the present is that you’re familiar with them, or even that you know how to complete them to the best of your ability with little-to-no challenges. The future does bring opportunities which will, perhaps, require learning new tasks, tackling unfamiliar challenges and bring unexpected variety. Therefore, having scenarios and circumstances you can control, or at least handle with ease, is a blessing in disguise. Make use of the peace until the future comes knocking.

-Use your current down-time to your advantage

DO THINGS. Rather than spending idle time worrying about what could happen next, use the time to work on things that you’re passionate about, or things that you won’t have time to do later on. For example, I’ve been using my spare-time (both in actual time and brain time) to think about and work on this blog, as well as trying out new hobbies and even exploring the skills I’d like to learn from an educational perspective. I’ve discovered so much from using my idle time to research, seek advice, make enquiries and try out so many things I never thought I’d have time to consider.

-Do things that benefit others, rather than focusing too much energy on yourself.

Being so future-focused can mean that you can get tunnel vision and start focusing a lot on yourself/your loved ones. As such, I’ve been actively trying to find things I can do in the present which will make a difference to others. Volunteering is such an awesome way of doing this. I’m just about to start a volunteering program, where I will be mentoring a high-school student from a low socio-economic background and helping them discover their future career and educational aspirations. I’m so excited about this opportunity, and it will give me a chance to help someone else’s future rather than focusing solely on my own.

-Give yourself time in the day to think about the future, and time when you will focus on not thinking about it.

Sometimes, the key to conquering an overactive brain that loves to consider ‘what-ifs’ and worries about the future is simple. Set yourself a specific time to worry, and then also set a specific time where you will focus your energy on other things. Sometimes, scheduling time to worry can help the brain from wandering at later stages, as you’ve allowed yourself the time to debrief and get it all out of your system. Giving priority to the worry for that specific timeframe can help you focus, and can help the mind to not over think itself for the remainder of the day.

Those are a few of my tips, anyway! Do you have any advice for how to live ‘in the now’?

This post was polished by Page & Parchment.

Week 13 Update, 2015

cab0eb7f0b08403d4d13ca7e85fcdc28

Time for another update! As I’ve been quite unwell this week (more info about this below), I’ve got a shorter update:

-My progress with exercise and getting healthy has been set back again due to my NLD becoming re-infected. I thought I would get the all-clear to return to the gym, however as the ulcers decided to play up early last week, I now have to wait another three weeks before I can try to get clearance. The Dermatologist wants to do a minor operation on my leg again to clear out any dead/infected tissue, however this time I will receive some local anaesthetic (thank goodness). I’m really devastated that I can’t return to the gym and to being active, because I am feeling so lethargic and gross because my activity levels have dropped.

-In an attempt to try and counteract my lethargic feelings, I’m trying to add some small amounts of activity to my day. Late last week, I’ve reintroduced doing a 15-20 minute yoga meditation/deep breathing session before bed (which will also help with my stress levels). I’ve also re-set up Wii Fit, and have created a 20 minute aerobic and yoga workout of light upper-body activities. I really can’t push myself, especially when my leg is infected, but I want to try and do *something* so that I can start feeling more active again.

-My self-esteem has really taken a hit over the past week. I’m feeling so exhausted because I’ve gone from exercising up to six days a week, to nothing.   My activity levels have dropped, and I’ve lost the energy I had when I was going to the gym and walking each day. I’m pretty sure I’ve put on weight as well, so am feeling ashamed that my progress with making my body healthier is slowing down. Yes, I know I have to take it easy for my leg to heal, but it’s been rather disappointing to see all the things I’ve been working on with my body (gaining muscle and toning up) coming undone. My acne has also flared up big-time because of my lack of exercise/stress/not-as-healthy eating and drinking habits, making me extremely self conscious about how presentable I am at work and in general. I also haven’t been able to make myself ‘feel pretty’ in setting my hair and such, because my leg is stopping me from being able to stand up/sit long enough to do my hair properly. So overall, I’m feeling pretty crappy this week.

-Because my energy levels have been so low, I’ve been having much more caffeine than I should be having. By caffeine, I mean Pepsi Max and Coke Zero – the nasty artificially sweetened soft drinks that I KNOW makes me put on weight. It’s crazy how easily you can become addicted to them. Alas, I’ve been having these quite regularly, and I need to stop and get re-focused on being healthier. So, this week I’m going to make an active effort to stop having these soft drinks. I want to make these a ‘sometimes’ option, only for parties or social events. So, I’ve bought supplies so I can get back into my water mixes (water with lemon and mint leaves), and we also got our Soda Stream gas bottles refilled so I can make soda water. I’m also hoping to have my green tea and other teas more often; while they still contain caffeine, they’re relatively more healthy than the soft drink overall. Here’s hoping I can really cut this habit.

-I was hoping that I’d receive some news last week slightly related to the ‘future epiphanies’ that my husband and I had. Alas, I’ve found out I probably won’t hear any news for at least two weeks. I am kind of relieved that there’s some extra waiting time, because if the news is good news, it will then be quite a stressful time ahead. Anyway, no news to report here (yet).

That’s about all I’ve been up to, for now. Thanks for reading 🙂

539f23954a987524160473225e78967c

This post was polished by Page & Parchment.