Monday, 21 December 2015

Choosing to Respond...

I have always been a pretty sensitive, and thus reactive, person. This is not as simple as reacting to problems by losing my temper but it has, inevitably, happened at times. It is also a keen awareness of expectations or other peoples needs. This has lead me to 'smooth' situations over by agreeing to do or say whatever needed to be done or said. To make that person feel better. Quickly and with little or no thought. The problem with that approach is, unfortunately, that 'smoothing' things over has often been to my detriment.

Image Credit
Over the last month I have increased my yoga practice a lot. I am really proud of my efforts and grateful for all of the support and guidance I am receiving from my yoga teachers.

I started doing a level 1 200 hour yoga teacher training course in November. You might remember that I set myself a goal to increase my practice from 1 to 2 times a week earlier in the year. In the last month I have been practicing 5 times a week. This has been somewhat at the expense of sleep since the only way I can fit it in is by waking at 5am (or as soon as I snap awake after the alarm has been turned off!). It has been so worthwhile that I am happy to sacrifice a few zzz's.

At my morning practice today my teacher talked about using yoga to find the connection with ourselves so that we can choose how to respond to the daily tasks and challenges that arise. Rather than just reacting to them. After she said it I realised that I am starting to do that. I just hadn't put what I was doing into words or processed it yet.

I mentioned how good I am feeling about Christmas in my last post. I have realised I am feeling good because I have figured out (and continuing to figure out!) what I want to happen at Christmas. After working it out I (and this is probably the most important part!) let other people know and asked for their help to make it happen.

In hindsight I have always struggled to do both parts of this process. Finding time to figure out what you want can be difficult in itself. When I have been lucky enough to figure out what I wanted I then struggled to find a good way to ask people to help and support it.

Image Source
I think my yoga practice might be a big part of the reason that I felt collected and comfortable enough to find respectful and reasonable ways to discuss what I would like. It is really important to me that I am not a domineering bully. I think that is why I haven't asked much in the past. I haven't known how to without coming from a negative place. Quite possibly because I thought I was being selfish.

This new found sense of confidence has really helped me to successfully return to part-time work. I have felt comfortable with making slower decisions and waiting to find answers that felt right. In the past I tended to put pressure on myself to find quick solutions and would take it personally if they were not well received.

I'm finding that 'slow' solutions are much less stressful and that I am learning more from the process. It is much more meaningful and enjoyable. I am learning to listen to my colleagues suggestions and advice. Even when I don't like them at first.

Given that the Christmas season often brings its own surprises and challenges, big and small, I wanted to share the concept of choosing how to respond with you. When shit is hitting the fan because there is no space in the fridge or the roast hasn't turned out I invite you to take a moment and think to yourself - how do I choose to respond to this situation? Does it really matter?

I'm willing to bet that it's probably the least important thing that will happen to you all day. Despite it being the most stressful. Try to take stock of what you really want this Christmas. If it is simply sharing the day with your friends and family then take the time to truly enjoy their company. Don't sweat it if you can't find the perfect gift. Don't waste hours looking. Write them a little note promising to do something meaningful with them as a gift instead. Then relax!

Wishing you a very merry Christmas and looking forward to blogging it up with you again in the New Year!

Lizzing Lightly x

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A crafty start to Christmas is the way to go

It's official! The tree is up and the buzz of calls asking what to get for Turtle has started. I am feeling surprisingly calm and, unbelievably, festive!

Our quirky Christmas tree
A colleague sent me a link to this blog a few weeks ago and it prompted some action that has made me feel much more at ease with the start of the silly season. I decided to scavenge a branch from somewhere and create our own version of a gift tree.

It also motivated me to email my family and suggest some gifts that would be meaningful and appreciated. Since Turtle is becoming quite aware that the family is so far away photographs are an important way to stay close, no matter how busy we all are and how big the time difference is. I have suggested that the family send some recent pictures accompanied by a little story about what was happening when it was taken. I have been meaning to print some off myself for months and never get around to it.

Otherwise, we have requested that they send a promise or pledge to do something nice with her throughout the year. I am about to start making some of my own to add to our gorgeous tree (pictured above). I have seen so many lovely Christmas tree ideas this year that are quite artistic and original. Here is a link to a few that are quirky and gorgeous.

I also suggested that if anyone preferred to buy a gift then to make it small and preferably secondhand or fair trade so that it would be giving back to the community and generally be less wasteful.

The mixture of lovely crafty ideas that have been happening, along with a proactive approach to asking what we would like, seems to have made Christmas feel less daunting this year. 

I am also feeling much more prepared to meet the relatives halfway and let them buy something new, as long as it is something that Turtle needs. They deserve to be able to give something just as much as I deserve to be able to reduce the wastefulness of what we receive.

I hope this calm, happy and balanced feeling will stay with me as the month continues... We will see! I will be sure to report back and let you know.

How has your Christmas season started? Are you feeling annoyed and jealous after reading this blog because it been a stressful? Or are you also feeling surprised that you've also managed to start things off on a good note? I sincerely hope it is the latter.

Thanks for reading, I'm linking up with EssentiallyJess for #IBOT today.

Lizzing Lightly

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Op shopping our way into summer

You might remember that I recently cleared out my oversized or under appreciated clothes to unclutter my drawers and make way for the "new" style of things that would reflect (the new and improved, lol) me.

The weather is warming up in Perth and I had just one pair of shorts to wear. They were a pretty plain beige pair I picked up at the op shops last year for casual use around the house. They just weren't going to take me far into summer alone.

I decided a trip to the op shops was on the cards to rectify the situation. I was struggling to get there until we miraculously had free time on Saturday morning, after a very quick stop at the air conditioner shop, hunting a split system to install in Turtle's room. We have conceded we need to install one after the stress of shifting her back and forth between our room and hers last summer.

There are three op shops within walking distance from each other near our house. We only had time for one and it came through with the goodies.
The summer 'goodies'
Apart from shorts, I also need casual (but not too casual) t shirts. Turtle has a mix of gifted summer clothes for her birthday and secondhand clothes from a friend. She was, coincidentally, also needing new shorts. Her size 1 clothes are just fitting her so we will need to upsize through summer.

I went straight to the women's clothes section (spurred on knowing Turtle would need a nap shortly) and found so many t shirts and shorts that I liked. After my recent shopping experience I have taken a liking to flowing tops. I found a yellow flowing t-shirt with a big studded love heart that I loved but hesitated to buy. The idea of wearing a love heart in public seemed kind of weird to me. But I loved the yellow colour and the faded gold metal of the studs was really simple and not flashy at all. I'm so glad I gave it a go. I really like it. I also found an orange button up sleeveless top that is great for casual wear, albeit a touch baggy on me.

There were a range of shorts that I actually wanted to try on. That was surprising since I struggle to find shorts I like. They are often too short or too baggy and shapeless. It is hard to find a flattering style that is in a good colour to mix and match. I bought two pairs of fitted long shorts (almost like cut of jeans) in black and denim. I also bought a pair of stripy purple and white shorts, inspired by Turtle's favourite colour.
said 'stripy purple shorts' which I am really enjoying wearing - it's nice to have some colour on
While I was busy sorting myself out Turtle was happily playing with the myriad of toys that the op shop had for sale. They had keyboards, the little plastic balls in a bag (think Maggie getting lost in the ball play area in the Simpsons), and activity tables just to name a few. We somehow refrained from buying any toys.

Mr Fix It was on task looking for size 2-3 summer clothes for Turtle. We ended up buying some Country Road stripy cargo shorts for her (I'm not sure if they are boys shorts but I'm sure no one will notice) as well as some casual green shorts. We also bought a gorgeous grey and white stripy top with a sequined pink star on it for her too.

It turns out Mr Fix It has found himself similarly depleted of shorts in the lead up to summer. He also, surprisingly, found a nice green pair of green shorts that fit him well.

I think you will agree that we were doing extremely well at that point. To buy one item of clothing on a shopping trip can be rated as a successful outing. To buy 6 pairs of shorts and 3 tops is pretty impressive. With a price tag of less than $50 for all of it we could not complain.

The final moment of joy from this experience was finding a Thomas the Tank Engine melamine plate for Turtle, which reminds me of visiting grandparents as a child, and a set of striped colourful summer drinking glasses, which we needed.

I paid around $50 for it all and then realised, when I got to the car where Mr Fix It was sorting out a pooey nappy that had presented itself in the changerooms when Turtle decided to "try on" her shorts, that the check out boy had forgotten to charge me for a few items.

I went back in to get him to ring through the difference (he had taken a call while serving me and I had put some things in our bag that he hadn't rung through yet) and another customer commented how honest I am. The sales boy (he was so incredibly young I can't call him a man!) agreed. I pointed out I was already getting bargains and the money was going to charity.. Why would I bother stealing?

I felt so lucky to have found such wonderful things and to be paying so little for them. If I had bought all of that new I would have paid over $200 easily.

Since this expedition we have had a few spells of warm weather and I have happily worn all of my new things. It feels great to have some new favourite clothes to wear.

Have you been shopping your way into summer? Have you been lucky enough to score some new favourites too?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Yoga in my life

I can't believe this is the first post I am writing about yoga. I guess it's a good sign I've have so many other things to post about... but yoga is important to me and this post is well overdue.

Image source

My first yoga experience was a Body Balance class at a gym in Airlie Beach, Queensland. This is pretty random seeing as I grew up in Adelaide and live in Perth now. I was living in Airlie Beach for a short time and, looking back, I have no idea what drew me to try Body Balance. I really enjoyed the class and have never looked back.

I'm not much of a gym person at all (making the experience doubly random!) so I have tended to do yoga at specialised studios since then. I have tried quite a few styles since I would go to classes wherever it was convenient.

My tastes have changed a bit over the 10 plus years that I have intermittently practiced yoga. I have, however, always liked more physically challenging styles such as Iyengar and Ashtanga. Not that I ever knew what a style was called at the time. It's only been in the past few years that I've started to take notice of those kinds of details.

Iyengar uses props during their classes to help you achieve positions. They even have ropes on the wall so that you can hang there and do moves. It's pretty challenging and very fun to do.

Ashtanga is a bit more rough and basic in some ways. There is less emphasis on props and the sequence is flowing (vinyasa). I think the simplicity of it, along with the physical challenge, is what appeals to me.

I can group the main things I get out of yoga into three areas. Physical, Spiritual and Relaxation. While there are some benefits I probably can't put into words, here are the main things that keep me going back for more:


I wore a back brace as a teenager to correct curvature in my spine caused by scoliosis. The curvature was borderline at the point of having surgery but my parents were keen to avoid that. Luckily I responded well to wearing the fibreglass frame around my hips, lower back and up to my shoulders. My spine ended up returning to about the same amount of curvature that I had when the problem was noticed when I was 12.

I have always been aware of the imbalance in my body and have somewhat intuitively felt that yoga is a good counter to this problem. I am still continuing to learn about my body through yoga. I feel it become more balanced as I build strength and awareness.

Part of my attraction to yoga was definitely based upon the ease I felt stretching in positions. I am reasonably flexible and that made it easier for me to access positions that many would find quite difficult.

After a few years, however, I realised I was crunching into my joints and over extending rather than achieving the perfect position.

This is often the case with women, who are generally more flexible. We need to build strength in postures, rather than push into them, seeking even more flexibility, and risk injuring ourselves.

Building this awareness takes time and I think that is the real attraction of yoga for me. You always have something else to learn. There are so many things going on in a pose.

Your mindset or presence in the moment, your breathing, your balance and strength, holding onto your bandha's (your pelvic floor and lower stomach muscles), as well as listening to the teacher and being aware of what neighbouring students are doing. I often struggle to do everything!

My flexibility and strength have improved since I started regularly practicing yoga. I am working to build strength in my shoulders to help reduce my neck and back pain.

I know how to protect my joints by slightly bending them and using the muscles around them to hold poses.

Working with good teachers has taught me to be aware of these issues. It amazes me how much yoga teachers know about physiology. I guess they have learnt the hard way!

A lot of the techniques that are used during class are about focusing on your body and accepting its limitations. Then you want to push yourself to the edge to try and improve on what you can do.

Sometimes this can be quite scary, bending into positions or trusting gravity to do its thing. I love that part of yoga practice. Trying something that you can't imagine doing and then finding you can do it. It requires you to let go of your predetermined beliefs.

I couldn't spruik the physical benefits of yoga without pointing out the obvious - it gives great body tone and helps with weight loss. I started practicing a few months after having Turtle. I did a combination of Kundalini mum and bub's yoga and Ashtanga yoga.  I achieved my pre-baby weight when Turtle was 8 months.

I am now about 5 kilos lighter than I was pre-baby. I cook heaps more homemade food and I am busy chasing after Turtle and the dogs. I also practice yoga 1 to 2 times a week.


I am not a religious person but I see myself as being spiritual. I find yoga is the perfect way for me to celebrate that and be grateful for all of the wonderful things in my life. I have found most yoga studios express values that I relate to, and agree with. I guess I feel welcome and included in their community.

A huge part of the spiritual aspect of yoga for me is having time to be completely present in the moment. It is a rare thing to have that kind of experience in our modern busy lifestyles. During shavasana (rest) at the end of a yoga practice I often find it hard to keep my mind from drifting to all of the things I need to do.

On the days when I can relax and empty my mind I find a pure joy in that time for my brain to be still. For my brain to rest.


Many people only see yoga fitting into this one category - relaxation. I appreciate this part of the yoga experience. I am not the kind of person who needs high impact, high stimulation exercise. I keep myself busy enough with my day to day activities!

Breath awareness and control is an important part of yoga. This is something that can be used in daily life to help keep calm, to try and destress and to try and get to sleep on a restless night.

Yoga methods can also help to diffuse an angry mood or mindset. I always come out of a class feeling centred, happy and at peace. This can be a valuable tool to have when you are faced with challenging situations. I have definitely become more at peace with my response to conflict through my yoga practice. Many other parts of my life have also helped with this.

Finally, the best part of yoga really is - time out for myself. No matter how flat or sick or tired I have felt in the lead up to my class. Once I am there I am overcome with a calm, happy feeling and a peace that I have an hour and half to myself. My phone is on silent. The world is pushed away for a short time.  I can focus on the simplicity of a stretch or a balance in peace. Sharing a moment with my fellow yogis.


Are you a fan of yoga? Can you relate to most of what I like about it?

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Getting my Juju on!

Earlier this year I set a few goals for my sustainability journey. I have finally gotten around to number 2, trying a moon cup.

As part of my Plastic Free July activities I ordered my cup - this was a major step for me. It was one of those tasks that seemed like such a simple thing to do but it just wasn't happening.

My Juju parcel
I guess part of my hesitation was because it wasn't as simple as jumping on the computer and hitting buy. I had to decide what I wanted. I really knew nothing about moon cups and I don't think any of my friends use them.

Both sites had really useful information to help me choose what I wanted. Unfortunately, the blog I read on Environment House's website at the time seems to have been taken down. A woman spoke about trying both the Juju and Lunette cups and preferred the Lunette I think. She found one of the styles just wasn't comfortable for her.

The main considerations when choosing a cup are:
  • Are you a virgin? (not a big one for many of us, but clearly important for youngsters)
  • If you are a mum, did you have a vaginal birth?
  • Do you have a heavy or low flow period?
  • Do you do any regular pelvic floor strengthening exercise like pilates or yoga?
  • Your age - as you get older your pelvic muscles tend to weaken; and
  • The length of your vaginal canal (probably not a huge factor for most people but if it is considerably long or short then you would need to buy accordingly).
There are two sizes available in each brand. The Juju is Australian made, which gave it a big tick in my book. It is also clear with no dyes, which I like because it means less chemicals. 

The Juju is a smaller sized brand. So the size 1 Juju is basically the smallest cup available. 

I have a low flow and practice yoga so was considering buying the size 1. Rosie from Sustainable Menstruation Australia advised that is would be wise to go for the size 2, which is bigger but still a small sized cup.

The sterilised cup
When my cup arrived I was expecting it to be bigger than it is for some reason (no idea why - clearly I know where it needs to be going!)

I boiled mine for 5 minutes to sterilise it before use - I plan to do that before each monthly cycle.

It is meant to take 2 to 3 months to properly get the hang of using my cup. I have been reading up on what to do and I'm feeling really excited about not having to buy tampons and pads every month. Not only to save the waste. I always seem to run of them out at awkward times! 

The cup is supposed to last 3 times as long as a pad or tampon would and it can last up to 12 hours. That would mean I could change it morning and night and forget about it in-between. That sounds like freedom to me.

I'm really looking forward to getting my Juju on!

Have you considered trying a menstrual cup before? 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Pet Sitting Sour Dough

I've previously posted that I want to try and make my own bread. I've also been making an effort to reduce the amount of plastic we use when buying bread. Although making our own bread seemed like an obvious option for reducing plastic I just haven't felt ready to take the plunge.

The sour dough my friend made for us - delicious!
Until recently, when a friend asked me to take care of his pet for a month - in the form of a sour dough starter. The starter has been going for over six months. It was made using grapes from the vine in their backyard and flour. Since then it has made hundreds of loafs of sour dough bread.

We have received a few delivered fresh out of the oven to our house. I have been impressed by the high standard of what they have baked.

Their sour dough has been a great consistency, shape, appearance and flavour. It is as good as any you will buy in an artisan bakery.

So you can imagine why it has seemed intimidating to take on. I have never made bread in my life.

The starter mixture
As part of the handover he did a demonstration of the key stages of preparation during an hour long play date with his son and Turtle (we are in the same mum's group). This may not sound like a big deal but each step is followed by a proofing time of 3 to 4 hours so it would have taken a bit of organisation to set up.

After my hour crash course, and some detailed instructions emailed to me the following day, I am feeling surprisingly confident about taking on this new challenge.

I hope it won't end in tears.

Taking care of the sour dough starter itself isn't causing me too much concern, but I'm not sure if that will change. A colleague mentioned that people can be quite secretive and precious about their starters, particularly professional bakers. Luckily my friends are pretty laid back so I think they'll be happy if it stays healthy and alive.

I'm keeping it in the fridge to slow down the fermentation process. It needs to be fed organic (unbleached) flour daily and a bit of tepid (room temperature) water to mix it in.

So far it hasn't grown much at it all so I have left it out of the fridge today and put it out to sit in the sun for an hour. I guess it will take a bit of trial and error to learn what to do. If it is left to sit in the heat too long it will become quite acidic.

It has definitely been interesting learning about the process. It is quite simple and methodical, which suits my scientific brain.

Have you ever made your own bread?

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Toy Library Lowdown

As I mentioned in my previous post, spring has started out with a rush in our house. We are juggling me in part-time work, Mr Fix It going away in the field, Turtle moving up into the toddler room at childcare, as well as (and this is probably the most painful part!) seemingly dropping her daytime nap.

This post comes to you because she finally crashed this afternoon, after much grumbling and a few major tantrums. That lead me to march her into her room determined not to leave unless she was asleep. Luckily it didn't take long to get her there.

So this is how I find myself sitting quietly at the computer in the afternoon for the first time in weeks. It is quite a luxury.

One of the best toys but I always have to put it in just the right way to fit it in the boot

I've decided a practical post on the toy library is needed to balance out the super positive one I wrote awhile ago. The timing seems right because I am noticing how many commitments I have since I've returned to work (hence the balls continuously flying through the air) and a couple of the toy library ones have, unfortunately, coincided with this time.

That is probably why I forgot I was rostered on for toy library duty at the end of August. I was so sure it was scheduled for the start of September. I checked the roster the afternoon I had missed it. Three hours too late.

The rostering officer took it pretty well. I felt (still feel) so terrible! I get the impression either no one showed up to exchange toys or no one complained because I notified the committee as soon as I realised and they didn't know. Telling myself that makes me feel slightly better anyhow.

So here are a few of the responsibilities that come with the bliss of borrowing toys every 2 weeks:
  • Our library has an annual membership of $70, which is pretty cheap when you think about how much a toy will cost brand new;
  • You can borrow toys for 2 weeks but there is a week of grace period so it's really 3 weeks (you just can't always take them for that long- aim for 2 weeks);
  • Missing items cost $2 each;
  • Searching for missing items probably costs around $20 of every members time every fortnight;
  • You have to volunteer your time for toy library duty (loaning out toys) twice a semester (or four times each year);
  • When you borrow big and clunky toys you have to get all Tetrus and squeeze them in your car;
  • Carrying toys and a baby can be quite the juggling act;
  • Puddles in the carpark can be a real problem when you have a toddler and your arms full of toys (a.k.a. Turtle sitting in one in her cloth nappy)
  • Our toy library does an annual fundraiser with a Bunnings sausage sizzle. I was unable to help out this year due to a death in the family but you are asked to do a 2 hour shift; and
  • Stocktake is coming up in the next month and I have managed to book our only weekend away on the same weekend. Luckily I can help out early and do some sorting of puzzles and costumes at home but it would be much easier if I didn't have to worry about it. I will go in for a couple of hours to help out.
So here is the lowdown on the reality of toy library membership. Overall I definitely think it is worth the effort.

Have you ever missed a rostered duty for a toy library or school event?