Thursday, 18 May 2017

Why I'm giving up the hustle before I start

I sat down an hour ago to map out my ideal day in my bullet journal. It's a great idea, something I've tried to do on a weekly scale, but seemed overwhelming, but as I sat wasting another daycare day by scrolling through Facebook and achieving nothing, I thought I might try a different tactic, and see what an ideal day would look like.

As I sat with my lead pencil and ruler, trying to get the number of hours level on both sides of my pages (did you know there's more PM hours in your day than AM?) I realised that I was wasting time again, only this time it was with pencil and paper, not Facebook.

I wrote down this amazing quote a few weeks ago, from Julie Parker, founder of Beautiful You Coaching Academy. She was on the Rock Your Goals podcast with Sarah Jensen (episode 20, if you want to hear it), and she said
One of the things that helps people build confidence is doing things.
My heart exploded when I heard those words. I've shared them all around the place, even going so far as creating a printable and printing it to hang behind my desk.

But I haven't hung it up yet.

Because I am paralysed.

I keep researching, reading, learning, listening, chatting to others, taking it in.

But as I sat there, trying to work out an ideal day (which I will probably still do, it would be handy for Sophie to have a little more structure to at-home days before heading off to school next year), I realised that I don't want to hustle any more.

Not that I was actually doing anything.

My goal list at the start of this year said "grow blog" That broke down to "get 1000 newsletter subscribers" and "grow blog traffic" and "launch ecourse" 

But I don't want those things, if I have to sacrifice the things I love about blogging - the people reading, the new relationships made, the writing.

The writing. Doesn't that say it all? This is a blog, if I'm not writing, then what's left?

And I get it. "Your blog is not a business." I understand the thinking behind the quote (finally.) It means that I need to market myself, tell people I'm here, be active on social media. But if I don't write, what is there to tell people about?

And mindset is an issue, too. I mean, who am I to tell you what to do? Whether it's parenting or blogging, why would you listen to me? I've been blogging longer than quite a lot of large Australian bloggers, but I don't see their success (oh, if only I'd said yes to that first PR outreach program), and I'm still here when other bloggers are gone. I've been parenting for almost 20 years, but one child left me, another hates me, and I'm going through threenager alongside perimenopause, why would you listen to me?

But who am I not?

Why wouldn't you want to learn how I've stayed the course and kept blogging for almost ten years when others have fallen by the wayside? (You've gotta be in it for the love of writing and connecting, not for the money)

Why wouldn't you want to see how I managed to re-establish a relationship with the child who left me, and kept another from ripping our family apart? Why wouldn't you want to read how I'm managing a 3 year old in my forties (ask me in a couple of years, I'm still getting my head around that word that just sprung itself on me this month)?

At the end of the day, I need to forget about Facebook, forget about what others are doing, and just run my own race. But as an introvert with very few friends nearby, it's easier said than done, when the computer keeps me connected to the world.

I think it's time to get out of my own way, and just bloody do it.

Are you holding you back from your goals?
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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Lemon Cheesecake Poke Cake

There's no escaping a love for lemon flavoured anything in this house (these jam drops with lemon curd are still a hands down favourite), so when I spotted this recipe in a recent recipe magazine I knew I had to make it.

But as I read through the list of ingredients, I realised it was a packet mix. Now, I've got nothing against packet mixes, but I've come to rely on them so much lately that I really wanted to test my skill, and see if I could come up with the perfect cake without opening the box (but I bought the packet, just in case)

Finding a plain vanilla cake recipe wa actually much harder than it should have been. None of the magazines I flipped through seemed to have one, and the Taste website had a grand total of two that were just plain vanilla. In the end, I cobbled together a bit of a muffin/cake hybrid which seemed to do the trick.

I like to do my recipe testing on Sophie-free days, that way I can take my time and really read the recipe, but I'd been putting this off for a couple of days by the time I finally baked it, and misread the recipe, forgetting to take the cream cheese out of the fridge. Hand held mixer to the rescue, you'd never have known I wasn't paying attention.

The final result was a moist cake filled with tangy cream cheese. We had our first piece while the icing was still fresh, which gave the little kids too big a zesty lemon hit, but after a day in the fridge everyone devoured it. This is definitely on the make-again list.

Cake Ingredients
2 cups self raising flour
1 cup caster sugar
1tsp vanilla
125g cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup milk

* place flour and sugar in bowl, whisk together
* add other ingredients, mix well with electric beaters
* pour into lined cake tin
* bake 180°C  for 45min
* when cooked, cool 5min
* use end of wooden spoon to poke holes carefully around cake, 2cm apart
* allow to cool completely

Cheesecake Filling
125g cream cheese, softened
½ cup lemon curd

* beat together until light and fluffy
* spoon into sandwich bag, seal, snip end off
* squeeze into each hole in cooled cake
* allow to sit 2 minutes
* top up holes if needed
* spread remaining mix over cake top
* refrigerate 15 minutes

Lemon Icing
1 cup icing sugar
juice of 1 lemon

* combine in small bowl, whisk until smooth
* pour over cake, spread gently over cheesecake topping
* slice and eat

** keep cake refrigerated **

linking up with Capturing Life
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Monday, 15 May 2017

Hello Monday

hello soup The evenings are well and truly cooling down now (I'm thinking about digging out my beanie to walk the dogs!), which often changes how we eat. We're not super-huge fans of soup around here, but if we find the right recipe it becomes much-loved! I'm hoping everyone will try a small amount of the potato and leek soup currently bubbling away in the slow cooker. [For more ideas, check out this post from the awesome community on my Facebook page]

hello real book I've been reading books on my iPad since I got it over five years ago. I love the convenience of being able to read in bed when insomnia strikes, or squeeze hundreds of books in my bag when I go away. But every now and again, a book catches my eye at the shop that I have to buy. Most often, the book then sits, untouched and unloved, on my bookshelf until I find myself throwing it into a box or passing on to someone else. So when I spotted the new Dean Koontz while we shopping for presents over the weekend, I had to buy it, and now I have to make a plan to read it. 

hello music Steve commented this morning as the kids got ready for school that we didn't have the radio on. And he's right, music has been lacking in our world lately. Time to change that around, and see if music can help change the tone of each morning.

hello sewing machine Poor Gus is getting cold at night (his coat is much shorter than Daisy's, and seems to be at winter thickness at the moment, and not very thick), so when Steve was at his sister's yesterday she let him bring home a dog jumper that her dogs use. Once it's clean and free of hair, I'm going to draft a pattern and sew a few up for both dogs (a bonus of them being so similar in size is they can share harnesses and coats!) It's been quite a while since I've pulled my machine out, I'm really looking forward to a day of sewing later this week.

hello clarity and purpose GROWTH has actually been a pretty exciting (and tough) word for me this year. It's really making me sit back and think about what my end goal for life is (and in an interesting twist, I'm coming back to where I started all those years ago as a senior in high school, then a young mum who wanted to study at university; but from a completely new angle.)

hello Monday, a new start every week

What are you saying hello to this week?

linking up with One Mother Hen and Denyse Whelan
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Monday, 8 May 2017

Hello Monday

hello writing practise I had this crazy idea last month that I was going to blog every day in May. It's been a couple of years since I've managed it, and it seems that it's not going to happen this year, either, because last week was crazy busy with stuff, and I managed 1 post. But this week I have the space to sit down each day and write, and I even have topic ideas for every day (probably one of the hardest things about creating a writing practise is knowing what to write about!)

hello cold weather The nights have been cooler for a few weeks, but now the days are starting to get cooler, too, which is my perfect idea of living in Queensland. I sometimes wonder how I ended up here when I hate the hot weather, but then the cold turns up, and I'm reminded of all the things I love about it. Hello winter!

hello 19 It's Chloe's birthday on Friday. She'll be 19. I know she'll be surrounded by her boyfriend's family, and lots of friends she's made in Tasmania, but it makes me a little sad that she won't be here with us, celebrating. I guess this is how most parents feel as their kids start to move away and have their own lives. Happy birthday!

hello video I'm working through another video challenge this week. This time, it's recorded video, not Facebook Live, which is perhaps a little harder to do, because you're working to a time limit (2 minutes), but learning how to upload to YouTube has been interesting (who knew it wasn't normal for videos to take 2 hours to upload?!)

hello mindset Oh, I am trying so very hard to work on my mindset challenges! I guess that in itself is progress, being aware that it is an issue and trying to change the focus of those thoughts. But it's all too easy for the quiet voice to be drowned out by the noise of life, and then I forget that I'm waiting to hear it and change it's nasty words, and the nasty words creep back into my thoughts. It's a work in progress, though. (This set of videos has helped me this week, lesson six was especially helpful today.)

hello aromatherapy I've always been a little attracted to the more esoteric parts of life, which is perhaps why embracing mindset has become so much of a priority - it's reignited a spark I'd forgotten about over the last few years. Part of that journey has meant exploring essential oils again, as part of an overall support for the family. This has been something Steve and I have talked about a lot, trying to work out how to help support Douglas, freshen up the house, and overcome a general feeling of lacking.

hello Monday, a new start every week

linking up with One Mother Hen, Denyse Whelan and All Mum Said
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Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Lessons from the fish tank

After years of wanting a tank, we finally decided that waiting was taking up too much space, and we should just do it and set one up. It's been running for a little over 9 months, and has been a lesson in patience, understanding the language, and making it work for us. In that time we've only killed 3 fish (compared to Douglas, who for a period there lost a fish every week), and the kids have named the favourites, and argue daily over who's turn it is to feed them.
It's become a nightly ritual for me to sit in front of the tank as I'm heading to bed, to watch (and remove snails) and keep an eye on the different pregnant fish, spotting for babies and new relationships happening. As I watched last night, it occurred to me that there were lots of lessons we could learn, and apply to so many different life situations.

The right conditions promote growth

It took a long time to get the conditions right in our tank. The actual unit was second-hand, from Steve's sister, and when we initially set it up, we got the water tested regularly. But those tests kept coming back as dangerously high in nitrate, and we were constantly told we shouldn't put fish in the tank (too late, we'd already started collecting them.) Part of the process is to clean the filter about once a month, and when we finally reached the end of our first month, we pulled apart the filter, and discovered that when Steve had set it up he'd only changed one stage of the filter wool, but our filter had two sections that needed replacing! Unfortunately, the filter seized and died that day, so we quickly had to scrounge for a borrowed filter before getting a you-beaut oversized filter from a friend of Steve's who used to own a fish shop. Once the new tank was installed (with clean filter wool!) our fish thrived!

lesson - eventually, you'll find your passion, and thrive. But it takes time, and some hurdles before you get there.

There's space for everyone

Recently, we've been doing lots of research to figure out if our tank is overcrowded. We've currently got 4 pregnant fish, and 2 we think might be pregnant or recently had babies, and those babies grow quickly, so our tank looks busy. The research says that based on the types of fish we have, our tank can only carry 12 of one species, which doesn't take into account the other species we have (although it turns out that Steve's beloved Neon Tetras are a sedentary variety, and don't count.) But for now there's plenty of space in the tank.

lesson - even when it feels like you turn a corner and there's another xyz, it's ok, there's plenty of space for the rest of the alphabet to thrive, too.

Related - 5 lessons from walking the dog


Difference gets noticed, but eventually blends in

We have 8 different species of fish in our tank. As we stood in the pet shop, we just followed our intuition, and picked fish that we liked the look of (although some of them came from a random bucketful that Steve purchased on GumTree) and were community oriented (unlike Douglas, who has a shark in his tank, which loves to eat newcomers) Yellow balloon mollies and Coral Platys were special purchases to move the tank away from the orange of Sword Tails, and black and white of the Dalmation mollies. But eventually, when you look at them often enough, they all blend in and look just like fish. Sure, when you look at one at a time, you see the beauty of them again, but as a whole tank, they're fish.

lesson - it's ok to be different, but it's ok to blend in, too. People want you for you, not because you do or don't do what others are doing.

Getting outside the box can be hard

Every now and again, we'll hear a splash from a fish that has jumped. And one of our very first fish did manage to jump out of the tank, but it wasn't easy. And it hasn't been repeated.

lesson - taking yourself outside your comfort zone can be amazing, but that first leap is hard. If you want it enough, you'll get there.

There's always someone behind you

With a few amorous teen males discovering their abilities, the females in the tank often get chased. And the Rosy Barbs love swimming around and around after one another. But there's never been any real fallout from the chasing or following, no injuries, no damage, just a tank full of tired fish (although I guess lots of babies and the need to get a new tank could be seen as a downside.)

lesson - there's always someone behind you. It's up to you to figure out if they're chasing you, or following you.

With a bit of persistence, and some wrong turns, we've created a thriving tank community that we all love to watch.

Do you keep fish? What life lessons have shown up for you lately?
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