Money, money moneeeeey!

One of the things I realised is I need to change the way I think about my money.

I was originally going to complain about how there’s always something. Something that needs to be paid, taking a chunk out of my budget. My dryer broke down and I had to get a new one. My dishwasher started flooding and had to get it fixed. Even an expected expense such as car registration (around $1000, all in) came with the additional cost of repairing my car window, which had become stuck.

If I complained about how there are always bills to pay, I wouldn’t be wrong. There are always bills to pay, a never-ending cycle, one after the other.

But then someone told me that I was thinking about money all wrong. Yes, bills still have to be paid… but I should be grateful that I actually have money to help sustain my lifestyle. Instead of complaining about money leaving my bank account, I should think about how it enables me to live my life the way I want to.

I’m not saying I’m going to start buying whatever I want — I still need to keep within my budget! But instead of feeling annoyed every time I have to pay for something, I’m going to focus on what I’m getting out of the purchase, instead.

For example, I calculated that I spend around $75 per week on exercise alone — that covers my Krav Maga and dance classes. I used to balk at how much gyms cost (maybe around $20-30 a week?) but here I am, spending much more than that. But there’s no way I’m going to give up what I do and go to a gym — I love what I do, and while I know a lot of gyms have group classes, I’m after the training that only a dedicated self-defence or dance school can do.

I enjoy spending time with my friends, so I’ll always be up for a meal somewhere as long as it’s accompanied by good company and conversation. 🙂 But I still bring my food into work everyday, as much as I can.

I’m probably still a little bit more anal about my money than the average person — yes, I do log in my purchases just so I can keep an eye on my spending — but I’m learning to enjoy it a bit more, and drive into my head that the point of life is not to end up with a big fat bank account. 😛

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How to feel / act / be better

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m a self-help junkie. Now I’ve resolved to stop reading general wellness books! I’ve come to the conclusion that most of them say pretty much the same things, like:

Eat a healthy diet

As Michael Pollan says — “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I’ve been eating a lot healthier than I have the past few years, but every now and then I still overindulge on sweet or savoury fried food. If only chocolate and potato chips weren’t so tasty! Oh well. At least I have a much higher tolerance of fruits and veggies!

Get regular exercise

I’ve been pretty good with this. Hurray! In addition to exercise, I’ve started taking care of my physical self in other ways. I’ve begun going to a physio and remedial massage therapist. I do like exercise but I’ve now learned that I don’t have to put up with being sore or achy most of the time.

Get lots of sleep

Still working on this! I usually get at least 7 hours of sleep a night now. I’m trying to move my sleep times earlier, though. I’d love to be a morning person again. There’s just something about waking up when it’s still quiet and a little dark out. It’s just a bit tough considering I have a lot of late night things going on.

Nurture my relationships

I’d like to think I’m better at spending meaningful time with people. Thankfully, as I’ve been in Sydney for several years now, I do have proper friends and don’t have to go to a lot of meetup events like when I was still trying to build my network. The plus side though, is that I noticed I’m much better at small talk.

Take care of my mental health

I’ve been trying to meditate, keep a gratitude journal, and practice stoicism. My mental state has been a lot more stable now, though I do still panic or freak out every now and then. 😛 I also think I’ve been doing a pretty good job disconnecting from digital devices and being focused on my here-and-now.

There you have it… I’ve summed up a gazillion books I’ve read on becoming happier / reducing stress / growing telomeres / etc. etc. You’re welcome! 😛

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A post of lists

My new-thing-each-month resolution, so far:

I’m doing pretty good so far, I think.

Anyway, here are a few things I came across recently that really added to my life:

1. QualityTime app
This helps me keep track of my mobile phone usage. I read somewhere before that people could spend 5-7 hours on their phone. I thought, “there’s NO way I could be wasting that much time!” Until I started tracking my behaviour. I clocked up three hours, easy.

Granted, not all of it was focused phone time – sometimes, I was multitasking (another sin… haha) – but STILL. That’s three hours of either being glued to my phone or distracted living. I’ve brought it down now…. and I’m trying to get it down to one, at most two, hours a day. It’s just a bit challenging considering I have a lot of friends and all my family outside of Sydney.

The app also lets me block off time where I can’t use my phone, save for a few apps. Super helpful when I’m at work. It stops me from mindlessly checking my device.

2. “HER” podcast
I chanced upon Dr Pam Peeke’s TED Talk and she had me in stitches. She was so funny and straightforward (not to mention scientifically based, haha!) that I had to sign up for her podcast.

So yeah, it might be a bit geared towards females but I find a lot of her advice is quite general and applicable to everyone!

3. “By the Book” podcast
OK, I admit it. I’m probably a self-help junkie. I’m a sucker for self improvement books / podcasts / programs / etc. Which is what makes this so funny! Hosts Jolenta and Kristen follow a self-help book to the letter for a couple of weeks, then report on their findings. They’re hilarious especially when they come across WTF moments that are so common in self-help books. I usually just adopt whatever works for me but it’s really funny hearing about them apply everything in the books to their lives.

4. An alarm clock
I stopped bringing my mobile phone into the bedroom. My solution: an old school alarm clock! In my search for a proper alarm clock, I now have three other clocks scattered around the apartment. Oops. One was an older alarm clock that fell over and stopped working, two were just analog clocks and not alarm ones at all. At least I’m rarely late now. Heh.

One thing I miss about digital alarm clocks: the absolute precision I can set the alarm time. I can’t seem to get my clock to ring at 7:30 — the little knob/pointer that sets the alarm is so fiddly! So I’ve been waking up at 7:20 AM and just dealing with it. 😛

I can’t believe it’s already August. Where did the year go?!

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Activewear (activewear) and my changing buying patterns

I’m a couple of years late, but my friend showed me this video a few months ago and I couldn’t stop laughing:

Yes, I know technically, people can wear whatever they want… if they want to drop hundreds of dollars on leggings for lounging around the house, who am I to tell them how to spend their money? I just find it a bit funny, though, when people spend large amounts of money on workout gear with no intention of exercising, or when they use the lack of cute clothing options as an excuse not to get active (which I have sadly encountered).

I’ve been into sports ever since I was a little, and I’ve never been fussy about my workout clothes. I wore unbranded shorts and tops til they became ratty and unusable. I’ve attended classes with professional dancers and noted, with interest, that they usually didn’t wear any of the fancy workout gear… they wore plain and simple clothing that allowed them to move freely.

Anyway, so I recently had to retire two of my workout bottoms — one was a pair of capri leggings, the other a pair of short shorts. They’d gotten to the point where I (ahem) risked exposure, so into the bin they went. I was looking for replacements when I realised that I didn’t want to buy the plain black ones sold at a local discount department store.

I guess it’s with all the sewing I’ve been doing, but it made me think about why those leggings were so cheap. Where were they made? How the hell could they cost $8, when there’s fabric, labour, logistics etc. to consider? It’s insane. So I decided to spend a little bit more… I looked around and found these really cute bottoms on sale. They’re Australian and ethically made… as I was explaining my decision to my friend, I commented, “I’ve turned into one of those.” Yup, I definitely have… buying locally has started to become more important to me, and I’ll do it when I’m financially able.

Also, the leggings I got were a lot brighter than the plain black or gray ones I usually get… and they’re really fun to put on! 😛 So I guess I’m starting to see the appeal of wearing funky activewear, haha!

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An inspired June

June was my month of inspiration.

I don’t know if that statement is a cop-out because it was totally unplanned. But I guess that’s the thing with inspiration, hey?

So last month, a couple of things happened:

I met an astronaut

Well, I didn’t really meet him — rather, I attended his talk. Does it count that I was in the first row? Hehe. Greg Chamitoff spoke at an educational technology conference I attended. And while he spoke about things like space camps and how they’re getting kids to become more involved in space… he also spoke about inspiration, the essence of it. Having a dream, and chasing after it, persevering, believing.

It reminded me that while I’m technically already an adult, it’s never too late to go after the things I want. To go beyond the mundanities of life and seek the things that excite me.

I watched a film about mountains

My friend got free tickets to the movie, accompanied by a live orchestra. I honestly thought that it would last, like, 15 minutes. How many mountain shots can you possibly get? Seventy minutes, apparently — and I loved every minute of it.

Not only was I exposed to the awesomeness of mountain athletes (especially the insane but talented Alex Honnold) it reminded me that the world is vast. And beautiful.

I was supposed to go away for Easter but plans fell through… I was disappointed, and just cocooned myself in Sydney. With this film, I was reminded — there are so many beautiful things to see. There are so many different ways to enjoy the world.

I went to museums

Took advantage of the Free Museum Weekend and went to the Powerhouse Museum and Australian Museum. The entire weekend was spent geeking out!

While both museums were targeted towards kids, I can’t deny it was tons of fun. There’s something about learning random bits of information (Did you know wombats have a solid butt-bone and poop cubes?) or finding out how life was decades and centuries ago. The experiences reminded me there was so much to be curious about around me.

I think… with the way that everything has happened the last few months, I’d just been going through the motions. I settled comfortably in my routine of work, exercise, and my usual social activities. I guess I really needed that wake-up call that there is so much more to life than routine. There is so many passions I could pursue, places I could see, things I could be curious about.

Just in time for the second half of the year!

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