The Sunday Post

My Favourite Television Shows.

The Sunday Post will be a weekly short, casual chat about trivial matters. (Perhaps that’s no different to my normal posts??!!)

I recently (and about 5 years after the rest of the world) discovered the historical bodice ripper, Poldark. I binge-watched Season 1 on a long haul flight, interweaving it with another British series Line of Duty. Both series were recommended to me by the hosts of a podcast, Chat 10 Looks 3.

I am now racing through the Poldark catalogue. It ends at Season 5.

It got me reminiscing about the shows I used to love to watch.

  • Thirty Something… does anyone remember that?
  • St Elsewhere? I am still really, really careful about cleaning out the bath after one of the main characters died by hitting their head on the bottom of the tub. Stars a very young Denzel Washington.
  • A Country Practice… An Australian favourite – people, well people my age, still talk about the scene where Molly died.
  • The Bill – the original series – it got a bit weird after a while.
  • ER – George Clooney….swoon….
  • NYPD Blue – Bobby and Andy with a sweet spot for John Kelly!
  • LA Law – think shoulder pads.
  • Law and Order before the splinter shows.

More recent favourites have been

  • Offspring– Nina Proudman’s brain is as noisy as mine.
  • Grace and Frankie – perfect demographic for old chooks
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – will Aunt Lydia turn? That’s the big question!
  • Alias Grace
  • The Crown
  • Virgin River – when IS Season 2 coming!!!!
  • Sex Education – thank goodness it’s made by the British and not the US.

I didn’t get into Game of Thrones – I have not watched one single episode. I might yet crumble on that one. One day.

I got bored with Outlanders after staying up ALL night watching Season 1. The staying up all night part didn’t bore me. Season 1 was great, but the next season did not hold my interest.

The Good Wife! How could I forget! I never understood how she had time to be so well put together! You NEVER saw her go shopping.  How could she have such fabulous hair and clothes?

Sea Change! Another great Aussie show. Now the memories are pouring out. Sigrid Thorton and David Wenham. I’m still waiting for my Diver Dan. This was a 1990’s show but they resurrected it in 2019 with a spin-off featuring the now grown-up children…I don’t think I will watch that.

The Sopranos – so much of that watched through fingers half-covering my eyes or my fingers in my ears blocking out the scary bits.

Way, way back when I was still at school, I remember waiting till my dad had gone to bed so I could watch Banacek with George Peppard.

What are your favourite shows from the past? Let me know in the comments below.

PS: Re Poldark. I have now watched every available episode of Poldark. The internet is screaming out for Season 6.  Spoiler alert! In Season 4, there is a bare-chested-getting-out-the-cold-water-scene to rival Mr Darcy’s in Pride and Prejudice.

 

 

Year of Zero Quarterly Review

Edited to Add 22/3/20: I wrote this post in early-February when things were a little less dire than they are now.  Australia was yet to be placed in lock-down due to the Corona Virus. Last night our Government announced Stage 1 of the process, with most public venues being closed down. I feel like an oracle or at least the start of a conspiracy theory. Here I was thinking I was doing something novel when a novel virus comes along and means EVERYONE is having a Year of Zero forced upon them. Hope you are all OK.

Stay safe, stay away and wash your hands! 


At the end of last year, I announced my big project for 2020, The Year of Zero. My aim is to spend as little as possible, save up plenty of zero’s and try to live a less wasteful lifestyle.

Three months are up and here is my first-quarter report.

1. No Overseas Travel

Tick! Nope, no international travel! I have been nowhere!

Score: 10/10

View in a car's rear view mirroe
No road trips this year! Or plane rides.

2. No extended travel within Australia

The only places I have been to were not at my expense and were part of my volunteer response to the devastating bushfires in NSW in January 2020. So tick, done!

Score: 10/10

3. No new stuff

I bought a handbag. It satisfied the rules for purchases as it was replacing a worn-out item and was second hand. It’s a stylish leather backpack that fits my zero waste kit in it (more on that later). I did get a few NEW new things for my grandson including two train sets.  I  bought some glass jars to make kombucha kits. I am hoping to sell these on.

A major expense in this quarter has been getting my dining chairs reupholstered as the crappy vinyl was peeling off and shedding everywhere. Kudos needed though! I repaired rather than replaced even though it was cheaper to buy new!

Score: 7/10

 

4. Reduction in Expenditure on Groceries.

I decided to cut my fortnightly budget by  40%. I thought I would struggle.  For the last three months I have been:

  1. Carefully planning meals and batch cooking after checking what’s in season and cheap.
  2. Following a frugal flexitarian diet  – Plenty of lentils and no fresh salmon fillets!
  3. Shopping from my cupboard – and it’s still not empty!
  4. Making use of the chest freezer that has been sitting empty in my garage for the last 6 years.
  5. Buying in bulk.
  6. Not shopping at Woolworths.
  7. Tracking my expenditure using an app.

These strategies have meant that most fortnights I actually have money left over even after the 40% cut. I have an inkling that a large proportion of the saved money would have previously been spent on booze as “booze-drunk-at-home” came out of the grocery allocation.

I am no longer buying the treats I used to buy, only having meat if I eat out and I’m making nearly everything from scratch.  Comment: Pasta is not worth making at home. Preserved lemons, on the other hand, are totally worth it! (A post about that soon)

Score: 10/10

5. Side hustle happenings

This is coming along slowly. I launched a photography business – OCE Photography – but have no bookings yet. I ran a couple of courses at the local community college and I sold all my 2020 calendars!! That’s good news because last year, I had 20 left over and lost money.  I have listed some greeting cards on my Etsy site

The most exciting news though is that I have had my first freelance article for money accepted.

I’m heading in the right direction but not about to replace the day job just yet!

Score: 5/10

6. Only sign up for Free Courses

In 2019, I spent a lot of money on courses and I have vowed to do only free courses in 2020. I have discovered Future Learn which has great courses.  It has a paid option as well, but the free version is working for me. I don’t want a certificate. So far, I have completed a course on Upcycling and Humanism. There are enough courses to keep me busy forever!

Score: 10/10

7. Sell some of my stuff

With the double aim of getting rid of clutter and making money, I plan to hold another garage sale. This has not happened yet.

Score:  0/10

8. Concentrate on free activities

Not sure what to report here. I didn’t spend much in the most recent school holiday period as I was assisting with fires. I generally go out with a group of friends once a week to trivia and since I’m not drinking, it’s a very cheap night out.

Score: N/A

9. Rewrite my 60 for 60

My revised 60 for 60 plan includes many expensive activities, mainly travel-related, which are now in conflict with my new goals. I have not rewritten them yet. I have completed 22 of the items on the original list.

Score: 0/10

10. Zero-waste eco-warrior.

I have been doing lots of reading and signed up to some blogs, newsletters and podcasts. However, I am still struggling with getting rid of plastic packaging. My worm farm is already at maximum capacity in terms of dealing with my food scraps. I need to get a compost bin too.

Wins on this front are much less food waste and creating a zero-waste kit which I am carrying around in the “new” backpack. This consists of a reusable coffee mug, cutlery kit, reusable bags and metal water bottle.

I feel I can do much better in the eco-warrior princess department.

Score: 5/10

11. Year of Zero Booze

Although not declared as an aim at the Year of Zero launch, I decided to stop drinking alcohol as a way of saving money and looking after my health. So far no booze since December 29th, 2019. I am aiming to do the full 12 months.

Score: 10/10

three bottles of kombucha
Brewing my own Kombucha saves a packet!

My overall score on a very arbitrary scale is 67%.

I’ll report back at the end of June for the half-yearly review.


Let’s hope the curve is flattened by then! And I think pasta has now become worth making at home!

 

 

 

Mini-Doc of the Week 3 – Making Pasta

Is making your own pasta worth it?

I have been investigating ways to reduce my grocery bills, plastic packaging and keep an eye on what is in my food. I thought I’d give making pasta from scratch another try. I’ve done it a few times before but still had more problems than I thought I would.

A little longer than the advertised 1 minute! I’ll get better at making shorter ones as the year goes by.

I hope you enjoy my struggle!

 

 

Recipe

600 g flour

370 g eggs (4 really big ones!)

Kneaded by hand for 12 minutes

Then mixed in an ancient Kenwood for about a minute

Rested for 30 minutes

Mixed again in the Kenwood!!

Another rest (for us both!)

Then struggling with the pasta roller!

 

If you want to have a look at someone who really knows what they are doing, check out this lady! She makes it look easy!

As it turns out, given pasta is cheap, lasts well in the pantry and tastes more or less the same as the homemade stuff, I don’t think it’s worth it. A packet of dried lasagna costs  $A3.70. My afternoon’s efforts made the equivalent of  3 boxes for around $A5:00 – a saving of $6… let’s not factor in the labour cost! I did have some fun which should be factored in.

Shot entirely on my iPhone SMAX and edited using iMovie on my iMac.

Bowel cancer and the dreaded colonoscopy.

If you live in Australia, you will get at least one 50th birthday present – guaranteed! Your bowel cancer testing kit will turn up in the mail! I put my first “gift” on the shelf and left it there for the next two years until I got another one at 52. I chucked the first one out and replaced it on the shelf with the new kit. After a few more weeks, I decided that it was probably a good idea to just get it over and done with.

There was no reason to delay, and I am not sure what my aversion to doing it was. I am not the squeamish type, and I KNOW early detection is essential. My tests at 54 and 56 were both negative, but this time round, one of my samples came back positive.

My GP and I discussed my risk factors and decided that I could afford the wait to get a place at the local public hospital rather than paying for a private hospital.  I filed my papers and went on the waiting list. Now 5 months after the results and 2 months since my specialist appointment, I have my date for the “procedure”.

The positive result surprised me. My family has no history of cancer. Plenty of other things like Type 1 diabetes, heart disease, narcolepsy, dementia, haemochromatosis but no cancer!

I have always been a healthy eater, and over the last 2 years have been actively creating a healthy gut by feeding my gut bugs plenty of plant-based food, exercising, reducing my alcohol intake and reducing stress. My gut should be singing with good health!

Given I have yet to have the test, my gut may be very healthy indeed! What follows is a blow by blow real-time account. Don’t be prudish, this is what being older than 50 is all about! I am grateful I live somewhere with good free healthcare!

 

Preparing for your colonoscopy

There is a two-day preparation process. The aim is to clear out your bowel so that the colonoscope can see what’s inside your large intestine with an unobstructed view. The hospital or your doctor will give you some laxatives and tell you when to take them.

Two days before the  procedure

Today is white day. My diet is usually a rainbow of plant-based foods. This made the list of allowable foods very unpalatable and alien. You can only eat white or yellow food. No seeds, no fibre, no colour! Only dairy products, boiled eggs, white fish, boiled chicken, boiled potatoes, stewed apple. Ewwwww!  All washed down with plenty of fluids. As I ate my white rice with boiled eggs, I apologised to my gut bugs. Sorry fellas! You’ll be going hungry too! No fibre left over for you to munch on today! I got some yellow Gatorade in readiness for tomorrow.

At least I’m not hungry!

The day before the procedure.

NO SOLID FOOD today!

Only clear liquids. Tea without milk, coffee without milk, clear apple juice, Gatorade that’s it! I started to feel light-headed by 12:30. MAN! I was hungry!

Since my procedure is set for the morning, my first dose of PicoPrep is scheduled for 2 PM. I took the afternoon off work because I had been told some horror stories about the rapidity of onset. The Picoprep didn’t taste too bad. It was gritty and akin to drinking chalk, but it had little flavour. I sculled it down in one go and sat down to wait.

And I waited!

…. And waited!

As a good scientist, I took notes of my observations. Nothing happened till about 17:30. Two trips to the loo but things seemed “normal”. This is not too bad, I thought to myself. I waited some more and then the shit did hit the fan! Perhaps not the literal fan, but you get my drift!

18:50

19:01

19:03

19:05

Gosh, I feel like I am going to turn inside out.

My second dose of Picoprep is due at 20:00. Could there be anything left? This time it was harder to swallow. The novelty had well and truly worn off. I stopped feeling hungry, and I felt a little shaky.

After midnight it’s Nil by Mouth!

Day of the procedure

I slept better than anticipated, although, I needed to dash to the bathroom a couple of times.

Ten minutes after arrival, I was taken into the admissions area where my blood pressure, temperature, pulse rate and oxygen saturation were checked after answering the usual questions of name, date of birth and why I was there. The nurse and I had a chat about whether or not we had met before because she said I looked familiar.

colonoscopy 2Within 30 minutes, the anesthetist came and inserted a cannula in my hand and asked the same questions again.

Thirty minutes after that, I was taken into the procedure room, and the sedative was given through the cannula and an oxygen mask applied. The next thing I know, I was being shaken gently by the nurse, asking if I was OK, back in the recovery area. I could have gone to the moon and back for all I knew!

No pain, no discomfort, only a little temporary disorientation. Once my vitals were re-checked, I was moved from the bed to a comfy recliner where I was given some food and a cup of tea. My goodness that plain cheese sandwich tasted good!

The doctor who performed the procedure told me he had removed two polyps, and that I had a few diverticula, but nothing really to worry about.  I will meet with the gastroenterologist in three weeks for the follow-up.

colonoscopy 1Another 40 minutes later my brother had dropped me home, and it’s all over.   I’ll do as instructed and take it easy for the rest of the day, no driving, no making important decisions, no cooking(??). So here I am, in front of my computer chatting with you folks!

Playing Dr Google

Of course, I played Dr Google leading up to the event. I found this video from an American source helpful and the Cancer Health NSW site is terrific.

 

This friendly chap tells you how to do the poo test

 

If detected early bowel cancer can be treated in up to 90% of cases. 


Talking about poo and having a flexible tube inside your intestines may not be a sexy subject to talk about, but neither is dying from bowel cancer. If you have access to early detection tools like the one offered in Australia, take it up.

Enjoy your birthday gift!

 

MARCH 2020 UPDATE: I had my follow-up with the gastroenterologist yesterday. During the procedure they removed 4 polyps (not 2). All but one were of no concern. The fourth one was of a type that can become malignant but is VERY slow to develop. I have to go and and have another colonoscopy in three years….so no rush!

How to reduce your reliance on fossil fuel.

People Power, not Petrol Power!

An off-schedule post today to add to the theme of reducing your reliance on fossil fuel. It might become a regular feature; it might not! I am very mindful of being that annoying blogger who is always pushing things into your inbox. It might just morph into my regular Friday posts, but I felt the need to share this today.


A few months ago, I found a video from Liziqi Art of Cooking in my Facebook feed.  After five minutes of being mesmerised by the process of making silk by hand, I hit that follow button. Today another came into my feed about making cotton doonas.

Amazing!

It’s worth watching for the hand-driven technology. This is the way we need to go to save the planet. Use people power, not petrol power. Except for the fact it has been videoed and subsequently uploaded to social media, not one bit of fossil fuel can be seen in use.  Of course, there is a lot of wood-burning happening. Perhaps you could replace that with solar or wind-generated electricity?

Her cooking videos are amazing. Her life hacks and kitchen tips are great too.

I could, unfortunately, watch for hours and hours! I’d love to spend a couple of weeks living like this! Without a radical change to my existing life, it would be impossible for me to replicate, but it is absorbing. I can dream about such a simple life filled with hard and satisfying manual labour. I bet Liziqi doesn’t have to worry about counting calories and scheduling gym sessions!

The mix of excellent camera work, social media presence and traditional lifestyle show that these people are not living in the past, but savvy entrepreneurs. She has an online shop and fashion brand as well.

She has a huge following, and I am sure many of you know of her already. Even if it is only 50% “real” and 50% marketing it’s still a delight!

If you have an hour to spare dive in!

 

See my other posts about planet-saving!

How can you reduce your climate change impact?

Earlier this week I dashed off a rather prickly post about getting angry with yourself about climate change flavoured heavily by the current bushfire situation in Australia. It was, in part, a reaction to the fact that I was going out for the 8th day straight to help the NSW Rural Fire Service as an SES volunteer. I was up to 100 % days for the year! While my role is in support and I am never in any real danger, it has been stressful and tiring, albeit overwhelmingly self-affirming. I am proud of myself that I am ABLE to be helpful in a second-line role.

I challenged you to make a contribution to reduce your impact on the climate. These actions will, of course, be too late for this particular crisis, but we need to start somewhere!

Here are a few suggestions.

Get politically active

As individuals, we can make changes to our life that will have an impact, but the big guns are held by the government.  They are the ones who decide whether we keep digging up coal and burning it or invest in renewables.  You, however, have the power to decide who is in government, so my first suggestion is to become more politically active. In Australia, we have a working democracy, and we get who we vote for. But unlike America and other places, we don’t vote for our Prime Minister. We vote for the party they represent.The Prime Minister can be removed without a change of government.

Make sure your local member knows what you think about their policies.  ALL of their policies. I am not going to tell you who to vote for because these fires have been a long time coming and are not the responsibility of one or the other of governments we have had. (Without going down too much of a rabbit hole when you think of it, it has been a growing issue ever since we placed more value on wealth than our environment… but that’s another story)

Ten things you can do to reduce your climate change impact

David Suzuki has been agitating for action in a moderate and persuasive way for a long time.  This site is easy to read and provides a very digestible listicle of the ten things you can do to make a start on reducing your impact on climate change.

Steel Street - Cringila
Stop and think about your impact

What’s the one ‘big’ thing you can do to reduce climate change impact?

The most useful thing you can do is not going to seem so palatable to many of you. It is to have one less child.  The per annum reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide by having one fewer child is estimated at 23,770 – 117,700 kg compared to 5 kg for using reusable shopping bags. (Source: Seth Wynes and Kimberly A Nicholas 2017 Environ. Res. Lett. 12 074024). Reducing the number of children reduces the number of resources they will use over their lifetime.

This article ranks personal actions as being high, moderate or low impact. 

It is an open-source, peer-reviewed article. You will need to download it to read the whole thing. I suggest you skip through to the tables that list the categories.

In summary, here are the high impact actions YOU can take

High Impact actions individuals can take for climate change reduction

  1. Have one less child
  2. Live car-free
  3. Avoid one flight
  4. Purchase green energy
  5. Reduce the effects of driving (eg with a more efficient car)
  6. Eat a plant-based diet

Moderate Impact actions individuals can take.

These moderate impact actions reduce carbon dioxide in the range of  0 – 370 kg/annum each. These actions are not painful at all. I bet you do some to a certain extent already but don’t sit on your hands, tackle some more!

  1. Home heating/cooling efficiency
  2. Install solar panels
  3. Use public transport or walk/bike as much as possible
  4. Buy energy-efficient products
  5. Conserve energy
  6. Reduce food waste
  7. Reduce consumption
  8. Reuse
  9. Recycle
  10. Eat local

Low Impact actions individuals can take.

These low impact actions reduce carbon dioxide in the range of  6 – 60 kg/annum each but if you do them all that’s a good start and if EVERYONE did them all that would be BIG!!!  For instance, if all 24 million Australian’s did these simple things it would add up to 1,440,000,000 kg of CO2!

  1. Conserve water – eg. run a full dishwasher
  2. Eliminate unnecessary travel
  3. Minimise waste
  4. Plant a tree
  5. Compost
  6. Purchase carbon credits
  7. Reduce lawn mowing
  8. Ecotourism
  9. Keep backyard chickens – I wish I could!! 🙂
  10. Buy bona fide eco-label products
  11. Calculate your home’s footprint (I’ll research this one some more to find out how and what they mean)

How many can you tick off? Even if you can tick off many of the things on these lists already, don’t get complacent.

Encourage others!

Conserve more!

Walk more!

Use less!

 

 

 

 

 

2019 – a year in review

My Year in Review

If you have been following my blog, you will have worked out by now that I like to keep myself occupied. This past year has been a positive one. In a previous post, at the end of 2017, I listed my Year in Review. I now look back over 2019, and while the list is shorter the year was just as fulfilling. The shorter list is a direct consequence of my daughter’s return to Australia and the subsequent increases in grandma time. I now have less “free” time. That free time has been filled with many pleasant hours spent building trains, telling stories and going on adventures.

The activity that has fallen off the list has been sustained writing. I have not advanced in any of the long-form writing projects I started back in 2017. They are not yet abandoned but very much on the back burner. I have found that I can put in the mental energy to write short blog posts and microfiction, but the characters from my longer stories don’t have enough time to wake up and let me know where they are up to.

So what did I do?

  • Continued with this blog, adding 127 posts.
  • And all the associated research, writing and photography that goes into those 127 posts.
  • I went to Hamilton Island for two weeks
  • I went to Scotland on my big adventure for five weeks
  • Put together a huge photo book from my Scottish adventure
  • I ran a “making a photobook” course at a local community college
  • I did an online Real Estate copywriting course with the Australian Writers Centre
  • I did a graphic design course through LinkedIn
  • I did two video making courses, one on documentaries and one on mobile content creation, through the Australian Radio, Film and Television School.
  • I participated in a silver jewellery making course
  • I got paid to work with a beginner photographer to show them a few ideas.
  • I had one of my photos in a “real” exhibition – Head On
  • I did two 5km, and one 10 km timed runs
  • A photography workshop at the Australian Museum
  • Celebrated my mum’s 80th birthday
  • Went to Cairns on a big school excursion
  • I entered six writing competitions and about seven photography competitions – still not a winner but participation is the goal.
  • Made and sold copies of a 2020 calendar
  • Perfected designs for tea cosies and doorstops
  • Completed 16 of the 60 things on my 60 for 60 list. (better get cracking on that one but see my post on the Year of Zero for an update on that)
  • Had a garage sale with friends
  • Renewed my first aid certification
  • A short online course on SEO.
  • Participated in a rescue competition with the NSW SES
  • I did three photography shoots for other people, including one with studio lighting. I think I can now start asking for money for this type of work.
  • I didn’t cry once!
  • And I still have a demanding full time “real” job
  • And I spent plenty of time with family.

Goals for 2020

I have set out my goals for 2020 already. They concentrate on my financial future so there will not be any travelling, paid for courses or big purchases. I will get my side hustle happening! (You are all my accountability partners!)

On the non-financial goal side of things I want to learn how to meditate correctly, complete at least 25 more of the modified 60 for 60 list, and reduce my impact on the world by wasting less and reusing more. I will continue to keep fit, look after my gut bugs, write, and take photos of what’s in front of me.

The big, overarching goal is to inspire some other old chooks like me to get out and have a go!

Be invincible, not invisible!

 

The How of Happiness

How to be happier?

A review and executive summary of the book by  Sonja Lyubomirsky

Are you unhappy? Do you know why?

If you blame your unhappiness on things like lack of money, a lousy job, the world’s worst boss/spouse/children you just might be barking up the wrong tree looking for your happy place.

If you think winning the lottery will make you happy, it will… for a while, but then you’ll probably just return to the same level of happiness you had before. You’ll become used to your new state of being, a phenomenon called hedonic adaptation.

Wealth, health and work etc. are, of course, not irrelevant, but have less influence over your happiness than you think they do.

I have been doing extensive research into happiness for a few years now.  In my opinion, it comes down to two things.

  1. Positive psychology
  2. Gut bugs

This post is about positive psychology. I have written about gut bugs elsewhere!

Positive psychology

Positive psychology has been defined as:

“[being] is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living” (Peterson, 2008).

The Positive Psychology Institute defines it as

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing and an applied approach to optimal functioning. It has also been defined as the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities and organisations to thrive (Gable & Haidt, 2005, Sheldon & King, 2001).

The concept has been around for a while, and Martin Seligman is cited as the father (or perhaps grandfather by now) of positive psychology. His book Flourish is an excellent starting point. I have read it a few times to keep me on track and have the tenets of happiness in front of mind.

IMG_2466

This month I have read Sonja  Lyubomirsky’s The How Of Happiness: A new approach to getting the life you want.  (Penguin Books 2007) It’s not a new book either, but my goodness it’s a simple to read, based-in-science guide book that makes a whole bunch of sense! I loved it!

 

This post gives you some of the main points but get your own hard copy because you’ll want to write all over it!  You’ll be underlining the important bits, completing the short quizzes and answering her questions out loud as you read through it.

The basic idea is that you can make yourself happier. It takes some effort and determination and like most things in life, it is something you will actually have to DO on purpose. It won’t fall in your lap. It is something I have been working towards for the last 10 years in my road to recovery from divorce.

How much of your happiness is under your control?

The answer is very nearly 42! According to Sonja, 50% of your happiness is down to a “set point”, 10% is circumstance, and 40% is created by intentional activities on your part.  Your set point is determined by your genetics and your personality and stays pretty much the same throughout your life. Some people are just happier than others.

Circumstances account for a tiny 10% of happiness. A poor person can be just as happy as a rich person. Where you live doesn’t really matter that much. A bigger house, a better car, a different job will not matter much either!

Intentional Activities.jpg

However, you can control the remaining 40% of your own happiness by intentionally choosing to commit to some “happiness activities”. Lyubomirsky posits twelve categories of happiness activities. You don’t need to do all 12 to be happier. In fact, she suggests that you concentrate on  3 – 4 that will work best for you based on your set point, personality and interests. How do you know which ones to pick? There, is a questionnaire that will point you in the appropriate direction. After doing the questionnaire you can read the sections relevant to you.

This link will take you to a very brief summary of the happiness activities identified by Lyubomirsky and her researchers. Click through the arrows at the bottom of the page. It only scratches the surface and obviously does not give the depth of detail as in her book, but it will give you the road map and hopefully spark your interest.

Screen Shot 2019-12-15 at 20.18.35
The link takes you to a Prezi site. Best viewed on a larger screen. You don’t need to sign in.

The last chapters give the “Five hows behind sustainable happiness” which are:

1. The upward spiral of positive emotion: one positive act will lead to another

2. Optimal timing and variety: mix it up and time it right to get maximum benefit and prevent hedonic adaptation.

3.  Social support

4. Motivation, effort and commitment: you are going to have to work at it and keep working at it.

5. Make it a habit!

 

My Happiness Activities Profile

After I did the questionnaire, the recommended happiness strategies for me were:

1. Committing to goals

2. Savouring life’s joys

3. Practising acts of kindness. (I have a post here about that)

4.  Taking care of body and Soul

None of these really surprised me. I feel like I already have the goals and taking care of body aspects under control.  I am going to make more of an effort for savouring, and while my physical health is good, I would like to learn how to meditate. So I’ll add these to the to-do list!

Negative emotions

Negative emotions should not be avoided at all costs. Negative emotions have their place. I am no way suggesting that you be 100% deliriously happy at all time. It is vital that you feel some struggle in your life and that there will be difficult times to face. You can’t and shouldn’t go around this world being ignorant of negative emotions that have a relevant and important role to play.

My philosophy is that you should tend towards a life, that, on the whole, is pleasant, fulfilling and purposeful. This is turn will be a life that is more likely to be a happy one.

Furthermore, happiness should not be confused with pleasure. Some things that make us happy are not pleasurable. For instance, running a marathon might not be pleasurable but leads to happiness because you achieved a goal.

Sonja also gives some advice to people suffering from depression, which you should read first if applicable.

 

 

 

 

 

2020 – the Year of Zero

Over the last 10 years, it feels like I have done more with my life than I had done in the previous thirty. That might seem  harsh, and it’s probably not true. What  is true, is that the last 10 years of my marriage were a trap. A tight steel trap where the only activities included some form of arguing, yelling or crying – or a combination of all three!

Now that I have released myself from the trap, I have been busy making up for lost time travelling like a demon, enrolling in all sorts of courses and generally spending money like a drunken sailor. I wrote a list of 60 things to do before my 60th birthday, which would cost me squillions to achieve.  I wrote another less expensive set of 60 things which will still require a considerable outlay.

In the back of my mind, the left shoulder guy was getting noisier and noisier.

“Hey sister you aren’t getting any younger, and you’ll have to retire soon. Then what are you going to do for money? Huh? then what??”

Last month, I saw a financial adviser. Sigh…He spoilt all my fun! It’s not that I had not been aware that I would need to slow down my spending but willful ignorance has its place. I was having fun!

The salient message from the encounter with Sean, the killjoy, was:

If I continued to pay my mortgage at the current rate and contributing the current amount to my superannuation (retirement funding) I would need to work for another 12 years (i.e. until I’m 70!!!!!) to pay off my loan and my retirement funds would run out by the time I was 75. 

(sound of a record being scratched!)

That gives me a 5-year window to be both retired and not living in relative poverty!

Don’t get me wrong, I realise I  am lucky, and I am grateful that I can make light of this situation. I am fortunate that I have a choice, unlike many others in my situation. Did you know divorced women over 55 are the fastest-growing sector of homeless persons? I don’t want to join their ranks. I have a home, but I don’t own all of it – yet. I aim to keep working until it’s paid off. (The aforementioned 12 years!) I want to do it quicker. Much quicker; like in 5 years max!

Gum leaves 2
This series of photos cost me nothing!

 

There are, of course, three options:

  1. Spend less
  2. Earn more
  3. Win several million in the lottery

A combination of the three is the most desirable.

A fourth option: “Kissing a frog” or finding a partner to share expenses with, is not on my agenda. I want to do this independently.

A fifth option would be to sell up and move somewhere cheaper, but I like where I am now.

Since the visit to the killjoy*, I have been feverishly creating spreadsheets, writing lists and generally thinking deeply about my finances.

The spreadsheets totted up all my expenditure for the previous 12 months so I could get a  good handle on what I was actually spending my money on and how much of it was discretionary. [Most of it it would seem!]

Another list included items and activities that I was prepared to do without and those I wanted to maintain.

True to my form of setting myself themed challenges, next year has been re-badged as

“2020 –  The Year of Zero”!

I am going to DO zero and SAVE plenty of zeros!

I have already had a year of buying nothing new in 2017/8 when I saved enough to pay off my car outright. The challenge for  2020 will be to save as much as possible to make a good dent in the mortgage and contribute more to my Super. I will only look at one year ahead at this time to avoid goal burn out.

How I’ll save money.

My Year of Zero will look like this

  1. No overseas travel – my biggest expense! (Damn you Sean!)
  2. No extended travel within Australia  – my next biggest expense. A weekend here or there will be OK.
  3. No new stuff – the rules for which I already set out in a previous post.
  4. Cut down on my grocery bill by 40% by reducing food waste and shopping/cooking more frugally. I aim to make more of my own food from scratch and grow some veggies. I must admit I am a spendthrift when it comes to food!
  5. Be serious about getting a side hustle happening
  6. Only enrol in free courses. I have access to plenty of these via my local library and my employer, through Linkedin Learning so I’ll use those.
  7. Sell some of my stuff.  I have already had one garage sale and I am planning another.
  8. Concentrate on free activities.
  9. Rewrite my 60 for 60, so it includes only low/no-cost activities. (Thank goodness writing is free!)
  10. I intend to bundle all this up with a  zero-waste, living minimalist, anti-consumer vibe so it will make me feel more like an eco-warrior and less like a tight-wad.

My concerns include

  1. What will I photograph? Solution: Concentrate on local views and people.
  2. Won’t I get bored? Won’t I get boring? LOL, I probably already am.
  3. Going back on my word, as I already have a couple of things I have committed to for next year.

So, to my friends IRL who read this blog, be prepared for me to regale you with my ninja hacks to save a dollar here and $10 there.

Honestly, I’m looking forward to the challenge! I’ve got a goal amount in mind – I hope I can exceed it!

The left shoulder guy pipes up: I wonder if it’s ethical to crowdfund your mortgage? 🙂 

Cheap outings in Sydney.

Here’s an example of a cheap day out! Public transport in Sydney on Sundays has a $2:80 cap. If you take your own snacks and drinks you could have the whole day out for less than a cup of coffee. There are plenty of great places to go around Sydney! I’ll be doing more of this!

*Seriously, Sean was lovely and very helpful Not even a teen-sy bit judgmental, although I am sure he would have been secretly rolling his eyes at my lack of forethought for the previous 20 years!