30 Jun

defeat and the month that was june

So, I’m admitting defeat. I actually have enough posts in draft to reach my 30 posts in June goal, but I have to be pragmatic and admit I don’t have time to finish them. Actually, I do (or I *did*, when I started writing this post two days ago)… But I would have to take that time away from doing a bunch of stuff that’s on my pre-sabbatical to do list. And people, sabbatical technically starts tomorrow.

I planned to take two weeks of annual leave before I get into the sabbatical swing. I’ve already pushed back my annual leave start date til Tuesday to buy me another day to finish up some work and have some rescheduled meetings. I am not going to let myself postpone my annual leave any longer and I’m not leaving any non-PhD work to do when my leave finishes and my sabbatical starts. If I’m going to have a full dissertation draft by Christmas, I can’t waste a minute. So that means work has been my priority this weekend.

However, I did want to write a quick wrap up post about the craziness that was June. It’s been an interesting month. Interesting being an interesting way to put it. Here’s a few ‘highlights’.

I started this blog, after a lot of procrastinating about it. I haven’t ended up writing about what I thought I would be.

I have been challenged in terms of my personal ethics on a couple of political happenings.

I decided to bake banana bread one day and I’ve been baking it every couple of days since. Om nom.

I had five different assignments from three different classes come in within the first half of the month, one of which is a killer to mark. On my planning calendar, the entire month was blocked out to mark.

I had some seriously rough times with my back, culminating in a diagnosis two days ago of a bulging disc at L4/L5 and another at L5/S1. I don’t do things by halves.

I spent days and days and days in bed. I tried a standing desk, but I couldn’t stand. Or sit. Or do anything but lie down. My god, was it boring. It was also incredibly stressful because I had bombloads of work to do but I just could not get up. My ears hurt from lying on them. My feet got cold and I couldn’t put my socks on. I came up with crazy workflows to get stuff done while lying in bed. I ate every meal lying down and took to drinking my coffee out of my keep cup so I didn’t spill it everywhere while trying to lie down and drink it.

I bought fabric. More than I should have. Ooops. Because you can do that online on an iPad while lying flat on your back.

I watched an estimated 392 episodes of Peppa Pig (which I really, really like, a lot).

I started watching Breaking Bad. Why did it take me so long?

I continued a reading drought. I haven’t read a novel all month, I don’t think.

The fridge died. One week before the extended warranty expired. Woo! We didn’t realise in time to save the contents of the fridge. Not woo. It was the compressor – expensive – but covered by warranty. Woo! It is going to take quite some time to get fixed. Not woo. My sister has a spare fridge she lent us. Woo! Said spare fridge is the traditional freezer on the top, so I can’t get anything out of it cause I can’t really bend. Not woo. Oh well, at least the Coke is cold.

I did my annual update of my CV. So torturous. This process also involves my annual lament about not keeping my publications list up to date and not putting my pubs straight into ePrints. Bad, bad librarian.

I changed people’s lives with my manifesto on work from home wardrobes. Rock those yoga pants, ladies!

I wrote 25 blog posts and I loved it. I loved not blogging about libraries or my research. I loved blogging as just plain Kate.

And I think that’s about it! Or at least, it’s all I have time for right now… Still lots of stuff on the pre-sabbatical to do list!

30 posts in June: 25/30

29 Jun

my values

Yesterday, Con posted about her values, and it reminded me of an activity* I do with my students in one of my classes. The students blog about their values, their beliefs, and their leadership principles. The first stage in this is considering their values, not just their ‘work’ values, but the values they aspire to live by.

I always share my values with my students, too. And Con’s post prompted me to reblog them here. This is pretty much the way I shared them with my students, with minimal editing.

I also ask my students to consider where their values come from. All except the very last of my values are rooted in my experiences as a child, and particularly in the way my family functions.

Family first
For me, this means prioritising family before everything else. It means trying to protect my time with my family. It means working hard for my family’s benefit.

Most importantly, it’s the time I spend with my family that grounds me.

It’s true that there really isn’t a ‘normal’ family type anymore, and my family is certainly testament to that. As a child, I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents. I really had five parents – my mum and dad, my maternal grandparents, and my sister (lucky me – having a sister six years older than you essentially means you have an extra parent… all your life!).  We have always been an unusually close family. I could count on my hands the number of days in my life when I didn’t see or speak to my grandmother. My sister and I were raised not just by our parents, but also by our grandparents.

One day my nephew asked me why I wouldn’t play with him, and I replied along the lines of “oh, sometimes I have to work”. His sister piped up with “no, you allllllways have to work”. Such a little thing. An honest comment from a toddler. It made me stop and think about my values and my priorities and I realised that, although the value I put at the top of my list is my commitment to my family, I wasn’t really living that value the way I wanted to be. Although I work hard *for* my family, in all honesty, my family would probably rather I spent more time with them than worked my butt off to secure a particular future for us all. The kids just wanted me to play fire engines. (I do mean sound effects.) But I was too busy “doing conference calls and emails” (this is how they describe my job). That’s not valuing my family.

This particular value can be personally challenging, but it is something that I work hard at because I believe it is fundamentally important.

Nurturing
I was once asked to describe myself as a teacher. The first words that sprang to mind were “over-nurturer”. I love to look after everyone, personally and professionally. This means I do lots of informal mentoring, lots of knowledge sharing. It also means I spend a lot of time beating myself up about not nurturing the people that are most important to me the way I’d like to be able to. It also makes setting boundaries difficult. Sometimes I nurture to my own detriment by overcommitting myself. I find it difficult to say no, and I also can’t stop myself from offering help, support, care even when it’s not asked of me. I see someone or something that needs looking after, and my instinct is to put on my superhero cape and save the day.

Interestingly, while I value caring for an nurturing others, I am not very good at caring for or nurturing myself. This is an area in which I’d like to enact change.

Diligence
For me, diligence is about having a strong work ethic and being 100% committed to everything I do. My parents are both incredibly hard working. I definitely live out this value, perhaps even to an unhealthy extreme! When my parents berate me for working too much, I get a great deal of satisfaction from reminding them where I got this particular value from! It’s funny – this isn’t the value I put at the top of my list, but it’s probably the only value that I really, fully live out.

Generosity
This is about being generous in both my personal and professional lives; generous with my time, my energy, money… It’s about sharing things, but also myself. This value is my mother all over. She’s the kind of mother that sent three lunches to school with me every day to feed the kids who regularly turned up without lunch. Now, she’s the kind of grandparent who would gladly go without to give her grandkids the world. I think I live this one out, though I find it much easier to be generous with my wallet than with my time.

Creativity
I feel a bit starved without creative outlets, so creativity – or living creatively – is definitely up there on my list of values. I try to live this out by giving myself time and space to be creative, but that’s not always possible. So I try to be creative with the little things I do every day. I think this value really developed in high school, probably as a result of my interactions with a particular teacher. I still have the beautiful card she gave me at the end of high school, and I’m grateful for her investment in me and the value of creativity that she helped me develop.

My ‘Golden Rule’
Con finished her post up by talking about the guiding principle for her life. So I thought I’d add mine onto the end of this post, too. But I’m having some trouble articulating it. I could write a manifesto on it. Or at least a couple of hundred words.

But I think it probably boils down to five little words: Love hard. Live with passion.

* The activity I run with my students is based on an assignment described in Eriksen, M. (2009). Authentic Leadership. Journal of Management Education, 33(6), 747-771.

30 posts in June: 24/30

28 Jun

your work from home wardrobe

This is the first in a series of posts on making working from home work for you.

The number one rule of working from home is you must not wear your pyjamas all day. Or at least, you must not wear the pyjamas you woke up in. I actually think it’s perfectly acceptable to wear pyjamas, but I recommend you make it part of your morning routine (more on that in a future post) to get out of the pyjamas you slept in and put on some clean ones.

Having said that, over time, I have learned that I need to wear clothes, not pyjamas, and in my experience, having a work from home wardrobe is really important. You can’t just wear whatever you happen to grab out of the wardrobe first. There are rules, dude. And here they are:

  1. Your work from home wardrobe must be purposefully curated. Your work from home wardrobe is not a retirement home for all your ‘normal’ clothes that are pilled, ripped, faded, don’t fit right, or you just don’t like. This wardrobe doesn’t need to be rock star glam, but you also have to not hate it, so starting out with clothing rejects is just a bad idea.
  2. Similarly, your work from home wardrobe must not be your exercise wardrobe. I do not have positive feelings about exercise so putting on my gym gear does not put me in a good frame of mind. I also find that gym clothes are really not as comfortable as work from home clothes should be.
  3. You must have enough outfits in your work from home wardrobe to last you a whole work week, because you are not going to do the washing during work hours (more on that in a future post too) and who the hell can be bothered doing it at night. If you work five days a week at home, you need five sets of clothes.
  4. Build your wardrobe from the skin up. You need comfortable underwear. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I have a sneaking suspicion that most women don’t wear a bra under their PJs. Girls, you cannot extend this practice to your work from home atire. You need work from home bras. They don’t have to be the full underwire job – in fact I recommend you avoid underwire because it’s really not all that comfortable – but you do need something. A crop top. A singlet with built in support. Something. (I debated whether to share this point. I phoned a friend and she said it was totally sharable. So it’s her fault if it’s TMI.)
  5. Get yourself some super comfy pants. My preference is yoga pants because they are light enough to wear all year round. You know the type? Wide legged, stretchy, often with a rolled over top. You need a pair for every day of the week. I also like to have leggings on hand – three quarter length for hot days, full length for cold days (when I put them on under my yoga pants).
  6. You need an assortment of tshirts: short sleeves, three quarter sleeves, and long sleeves. I advise going for tshirts with stretch in them because it’s much easier to work in fabric that moves with you.
  7. You need jumpers and zip through hoodies, although I prefer the latter. Don’t get fleecy lined if you live in Queensland. Just cotton with a bit of stretch. I suggest going for a range of light and warm hoodies. You should also invest in decent jumpers, because you don’t want to be wearing something pilled, and cheap ones pill fast.
  8. Slippers are acceptable footwear. My preference is my ankle height ugg boots.
  9. Everything needs to go with everything, and your wardrobe needs to be arranged for ease of outfit selection. Make it easy to get dressed and you’re more likely to get out of your PJs and put on something fit for public viewing.

But the fundamental, underpinning principle of the work from home wardrobe is this: you’ve got to be able to leave the house in it, even if only to get milk or go to the post office (but you must change your slippers for Birkenstocks before you walk out the door). You don’t want a delivery guy turning up at your door and finding you in your dressing gown at 3pm. You also need to be able to turn on your web cam (more on this later too) and have some vague confidence that you don’t look like you just rolled out of bed.

And that there is my first gem of a post on how to make working at home work for you. Go forth and buy yoga pants.

30 posts in June: 23/30

28 Jun

help: asking for it, accepting it, and offering it

This was meant to be a craft blog. Turns out I’ve got a whole lot of other shit I need to say too. I promise, there will be craft soon.

But in the meantime, I wanted to write a short reflection on help. Asking for it, accepting it (whether it’s solicited or not), and offering it.

I am fiercely independent. Actually, I should clarify that. I rely a lot on my family for life stuff – daily life stuff. Like my mum coming home and checking if I’ve actually gotten up from my desk today and made anything to eat. But I am a strong, independent woman and I don’t ask for help. I’m the help giver, not the help receiver.

I am also a control freak when it comes to my work, and this control freakery fuels my independence. I don’t want help because I’m arrogant enough to think nobody’s gonna do it as well as I will (even though I *know* this is not true). I also worry that by accepting help, I will make things difficult for the offerer.

I’ve needed a lot of help in the last couple of weeks. I’ve asked for it and I’ve taken it when it was offered. And man was it hard!

So here are three things that I want to say on the topic of help. I’m actually really saying them to myself… So it is a reflection in the true sense of the word. But maybe it will resonate for you too.

1. Just ask

Just ask. Whether you need someone to cook dinner one night, or you need someone to take over at work because you’ve got two herniated discs and you can’t walk let alone work, just ask.

2. Say yes

When the shit hits the fan or it’s about to, and someone offers you some kind of help, just say yes. It’s just one word. All you have to say is “Okay” (or maybe, “Okay, thanks. That would be helpful.” More words, still not hard). Even if you didn’t ask for the help, just say yes (unless there’s a good reason you don’t want the help, like when the ‘help’ might actually make things harder for you). If it’s being offered to you, someone has noticed you need it. So swallow your god damned pride, your fierce independence, your control freakery, and just say yes.

3. Don’t wait til someone asks to offer help

Here’s the thing about needing help: no one ever wants to ask for it. Maybe we don’t want to admit we need it. Maybe we don’t want to affect the people we need to ask. Maybe we don’t even know we need it. But the fact is, people often don’t need to ask. Sometimes it’s as obvious as a slap in the face. You can see from 100 metres away that they are floundering, or you get a glimpse of things not going great out of your peripheral vision. Don’t make that person ask for help. They are going to find it hard enough to accept help anyway, and asking for it might be beyond what they could ever do. Sometimes the offer is all they need – just knowing someone cares enough to notice. Sometimes, if you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn or independent person, you may just have to tell them what you’re going to do for them and then just do it.

I’m not proposing you meddle – interpret the situation and make an assessment about whether offering to help is a good thing.

I’m also not proposing you blatantly call out the problems in people’s lives and try to fix them. Don’t head into your next door neighbour’s house and offer to help them implement controlled crying to shut the baby up, but you could offer to pick up some stuff for them at the supermarket to save them a trip. Also, don’t offer annoying help. Like, don’t mow the neighbour’s lawn at nap time.

I’m also not proposing you spend your whole life in service to people who need your help. I’m not proposing you try to fix the world’s problems.

What I’m saying is actually quite simple: look out for your people; take notice of changes in circumstances or character; and offer whatever help you have in you to offer (because we can’t always give them the exact help they need).

30 posts in June: 22/30

Thanks for all the help in the last 10 days, people. Couldn’t have gotten through without all of you.

27 Jun

debunking the myths about working from home

When I tell people I work from home most days, they say one of two things:

Oh, you’re so lucky!

or

Oh, I’d never get any work done.

The first one is true, at least in part. The second couldn’t be any further from the truth (most days).

I’m so lucky!

Let’s start with luck.

I’m lucky to work from home because it saves me a lot of commuting time.

This is the number one reason I work from home. All the other benefits of working from home are great, but it’s the time I save that made me make a shift from spending a majority of time in the office to a majority of time at home.

The single biggest time saver is forgoing my commute, which takes anywhere between two and four hours a day, depending on what time I’m going to and from the office. If I have a 9am meeting, I have to give myself two hours to get to work. I left the office at 3.30pm the other day to ‘beat the traffic’ and it took me two hours to get home.

Downsides:

  • No commute means I’m not in the office, and sometimes it is actually nice to be in the office.
  • No commute means no time to decompress. I can’t sing out my shit day in a concert on the way home, or take out my rage by banging out drum and base beats on the steering wheel. I just get up from my desk, push in my chair, and walk into the kitchen.
  • No commute means I work stupidly long days, because I can.

I’m lucky to work from home because I save lots of little bits of time.

These little time savings might sound petty, but they add up quickly. I’d say I save about an hour or two a day on these little time savers.

  • I don’t need to put makeup on or blow dry and straighten my hair if I’m working at home. That’s a half an hour saving.
  • There are less interruptions at home (on weekdays at least – weekends are a bit different). When my niece and nephew were living here, people often asked me how I could get any work done with a couple of three year olds in the house. The reality, though, is that I’ve worked from home for as long as they can remember, and they actually interrupt me less than the adults do.
  • There are no hallway conversations when you aren’t in the hallways. I save a lot of time by missing all the incidental conversations that happen in an open plan office.
  • Meetings are more efficient on Skype. For one-on-one or small group meetings, Skype is a big time saver. You don’t have to factor in time to get from your desk to wherever the meeting is, and no one ever bothers with all the niceties you get in face-to-face meetings.
  • If I ever ironed anything, I’d also save time on that too, because yoga pants (my work at home uniform) don’t need ironing.

Downsides:

  • I rarely have to bother with my appearance and never putting any effort in invariably impacts on how you feel about yourself.
  • I miss out on hallway conversations. I like the people I work with and I value my interactions with them. We run a great ‘virtual office’, but I still miss out on serendipitous encounters. It’s the encounters with the people I don’t work closely with that I miss – my immediate team is highly connected online.

I’m lucky to work from home because I save a lot of money by commuting less.

Parking costs me at best $25 a day and at worst $70. Last year I spent $2000 to rent a car park for 6 months, and it was bliss. For a whole six months, I didn’t sit in morning traffic stressing about making it in time for the early bird parking. Now there’s a new car park at work right next to my building that has reasonably priced parking (for the city at least), but it’s still $40 a day.

Then there’s petrol, which, if I had to go to work five days a week, would cost me well over $200 a fortnight.

Downsides:

  • Ummmm… Yeah. I can’t think of any either.

I’m lucky to work from home because I save money by not buying lunch and coffee.

There’s a bunch of temptations on campus, including the irresistible Guzman y Gomez and delicious Campos coffee. And we won’t talk about the pineapple lollies at the corner store. When I’m on campus, I spend at least $20 a day on coffee and lunch without even thinking about it.

Downsides:

  • At home, I forget to have lunch or I skip it because I don’t want to ‘waste time’ making it (because you never prepare lunch the night before when you’re working at home).
  • I drink waaaaay too much coffee because my Nespresso machine makes delicious coffee, fast. And relatively cheaply.

I’m lucky to work from home because I do good work here.

I think best when I’m wearing yoga pants, a hoody and my slippers. Have you ever tried to write a thesis chapter in heels and a suit jacket? I don’t recommend it. When I’m comfortable I’m more creative, more productive, and smarter. It’s true. Hoodies make you smarter.

Music helps me focus, but not if it’s pumping into my ears via headphones. I need music to be around me, not inside my head. I can work longer and concentrate better if I’ve got music playing, particularly when I’m doing repetitive or bitsy work, like marking. But firing up my sound dock in an open plan office is really not an option.

Downsides:

  • I find it hard to do good thinky work when I’m in the office because I’m used to the conditions at home.
  • The only shoes that come close to the comfort of slippers are Birkenstocks, so I’ve traded in my Jimmy Choo flats for a million pairs of the German sandals.

I’ll never get anything done!

Now we’ve got luck covered, let’s move on to the idea that you don’t get anything done when you work from home.

I get heaps done because housework is really not that tempting.

People tell me they think they’d be distracted by dirty washing, floors that need vacuuming, and pantries that need rearranging. Fortunately for me, I don’t do the washing, I have a cleaner to look after the floors, and PhD procrastination has already taken care of my pantry. And my spice drawer. And my fabric stash. And my stationery supplies.

Most days, my work is infinitely more interesting than the dishes. Strange, but true. In fact, I rarely do even tiny domestic jobs like washing my breakfast and lunch dishes until the evening. I generally wash my coffee cup and the Nespresso milk jug because I’ll invariably want more coffee, but that’s it. I don’t do this stuff because if I’m going to waste work time, I’d rather waste it doing something fun.

Downsides:

  • My family don’t understand why I can’t do the washing while I work. Or rather, they profess to understanding, but then I occasionally hear them muttering about my being home all day and not doing the dishes.

I get heaps done because I have more time.

I’ve already talked about how working from home saves me time. You might think I’m spending that extra time sleeping late and watching daytime TV, but the reality is, I spend pretty much every minute of it working. If I go into the office, it’s difficult to put in more than an eight hour day because I’ve got a commute at either end. There’s a finite amount of time in the day and something has to give. If I’m at home, I can put in ten hours, 12 in peak times, and still get to bed a decent time. Most days, I knock off for a bit around 6pm, try to sort out something for dinner, and then put in another couple of hours in front of the TV, with half an eye on whatever’s on. In short, staying home means I can work longer hours and get more done.

Downsides

  • The work day rarely ends before bed time, or to be more accurate, until I fall asleep (cause you can still process email in bed!).

I get heaps done because the conditions are perfect.

My wifi is fast. I’ve got more HD screen space than you could ever imagine needing. My stationery stash is well stocked. I get to control the temperature. My chair is super comfy. I have a huge amount of desk space. My sound dock is within reach. I’ve got several pin boards. I’ve got an awesome colour laser printer.

My home office is perfectly set up.

Downsides:

  • I’m a creature of habit and my on campus workspace is not set up the same way, so this means I feel a bit out of sorts in my office work space. This could have something to do with the fact we’ve been in transit for quite some time, but now I have my own desk things might change.
  • I don’t control the conditions at work (like temperature, light level, noise), and that can impact on my productivity.

I get heaps done because I can have a nap if I need it.

I start work early (starting with email in bed from about 7am – terrible habit – and then moving to my desk by 8am) and I finish work late (and I don’t mean 5.30-late, I mean 9pm-late). So sometimes, I am dead tired in the middle of the day. Instead of staring at my computer screen and wishing the day would end (which is what I would do if I was in the office), I have a nap. Having little kids around has taught me to sleep in 45 minute sleep cycles and to get to sleep fast. A 45 minute nap can give me literally hours more productive work time in the day.

I used to torture myself about having naps and ‘making up the time’. Then one day I realised just how much I was working, so I stopped worrying about it.

Most people have lunch breaks. I have naps. I stopped beating myself up about it because the reality is I still work fifty million hours a week even if I have a daily nap (which I don’t do all that much these days, seeing I get more sleep now the kids are older).

Downsides:

  • There are none. Everybody should nap. We should all have sleep pods built into our cubicles.

I get heaps done because when you’re always in your office, you tend to work all the time.

People tell me they wouldn’t get anything done if they worked at home. But what these people don’t realise is that when you work from home, you never leave ‘the office’. Not at the end of the work day. Not at the end of the work week. And not when you’re on leave. The reality for me is that I’m tempted to work all the time. If I want to take a weekend off, I have to plan an itinerary in advance, because if I don’t have plans and I’m sitting around idly, I’ll invariably end up working.

Downsides:

  • I work. All. The. Time.

But you know what? I really love what I do, and it is very rare that I wish I worked less.

30 posts in June: 21/30

PS. Tomorrow, I’m going to post my top tips for making working from home work for you.

26 Jun

re-spill: three things

Thing 1: on the re-spill

Let’s make sure we critique Kevin Rudd’s leadership with as much vigour as we have Julia Gillard’s.

In particular, I look forward to the media questioning him on the sexuality of his wife, critiquing him on his hair cut, and ridiculing him should he ever have a photo taken in which he is pursuing a ‘masculine’ hobby.

Thing 2: on Julia Gillard

Politics aside, she did a mighty fine job. Of being a woman. And being bollocked for it.

Thing 3: on Australian politics

Can we please talk about policy now?

30 posts in June: 20/30

25 Jun

healthy aspirations

I have soooo many posts in draft and so many ideas for posts I want to write, but they’re not coming out today. Instead, today’s post is brought to you by serendipity.

Courtesy my stupid slipped/bulging/herniated/diffused (why are there so many terms for this?!) disc in my lumbar spine, I spent the whole day (12 hours!) marking, lying down in bed. I have a really good system for this, but that’s not what this post is about.

Anyway, my iPad was running low on battery and I can’t bend down to plug things into the power outlet (thanks, back!), so I plugged my iPad into my laptop to charge it and up popped iPhoto. And I was prompted to import this picture.

A photo of me at my niece's baptism

This is me, holding one of the little loves of my life, at her baptism (she’s cropped out seeing this blog is public)… My beautiful, divine, strong willed, fierce little niece. I love her and her twin brother so much that sometimes I feel like I’m going to burst just looking at them.

But that’s not why I’m posting this photo. I’m posting it because I aspire to be the person I was when this photo was taken. A person who is actually a lot like the baby in those arms and a lot like the amazing little person that baby has become. Strong willed. Fierce. Determined.

If you’ve seen me recently you’ll know I’m carrying a LOT more weight than I was when this photo is taken. But it’s not the lower weight that I aspire to.

At this time in my life, I was healthy. I cooked proper meals, went to yoga classes, worked out with a personal trainer at least once a week, saw a physiotherapist, and looked after my food intolerances by working with a dietician. I worked hard and was committed to my work, and I still worked long hours when I needed to, but I stopped living for work. A couple of times a week, I knocked off on time and then I went and kicked the shit out of a boxing pad or sat in my own little bubble of calm as I practiced my yoga breathing. I planned meals and I bought good, wholesome food, and more importantly, I cooked these meals and actually ate them.

I still had headaches (it happens when you’ve had a bad case of whiplash), but I rarely got sick and I had more energy. I could also tell you I was happy, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. In some ways I was. We’d just finished renovating our house, work was good, and I generally had myself sorted. But it was actually a pretty tough time (for reasons I won’t blog about here). But the thing I remember when I look at this photo was how *well* I felt. Well in mind, well in body, and well in spirit. I was the fittest I have ever been and I’d broken through the barrier of hating exercise and I actually (shock! horror!) liked and craved it. I went from vegetable-phobic (seriously, vegetables made me involuntarily wretch) to vegetable-accepting. I learned to cook. I did stuff for me.

And then I stopped. All of this stuff. Every last bit of it.

There are lots of reasons and even more excuses for why things changed. But today, this picture reminded me that I *can* be healthy, I *can* be fit, I *can* feel good, I *can* manage my pain (with less drugs!), I *can* have energy (beyond what I need to just plod through the day), and I *can* be deeply, truly happy with myself, with my life, and with how I feel in my own skin.

It’s not about looks (although that is a seriously good haircut I’ve got going on there!). It’s not about weight. It’s just about being committed to being healthy.

30 posts in June: 19/30

23 Jun

my week in stick figures

When you can’t do anything but lie down, and there is nothing on the TV, and you’re a workaholic but you can’t work, you get stuck in a great big pool of lament.

So I made this drawing that describes the week I just had. It is essentially a great, big, woe is me lament.
20130623-203448.jpg
It was kind of cathartic. Lots of things on this blog have been cathartic, it seems. I left the drawing in Bamboo Paper thinking I’d update it as I got better. But I’m not better and I’m a bit sick of woe-is-me-ism. So I did something productive. I invented an awesome system for marking while lying down. Then I made another drawing about the weekend and my system.

20130623-203614.jpg
Here’s how the system works.

  1. First I make the criteria sheet a PDF and save it to Dropbox
  2. On my iPad, I send the PDF to Good Reader, where I circle the relevant criteria and write the mark in each section of the table (with a stylus), then I save the PDF back to Dropbox
  3. As I work through the assignment, I record my feedback using Voice Record, then I convert the file to MP3, rename it then save it to Dropbox from within Voice Record

Lucky for me, I’m marking blogs I can view in Safari on my iPad. I’m also marking presentations that are on YouTube or Slideshare or files I have in Dropbox. So all I need is to lie down with a wheat pack under my back, prop my knees up on a pile of pillows, and away I go. This will be really handy for lots of other situations too – travelling, working in cafes, working in waiting rooms. The best part is it works perfectly on my iPad mini, which fits in all my handbags.

So, from shitty back, to workflow win. Shame the shitty back is sticking around, though.

30 posts in June: 18/30

23 Jun

is there a baby in there?

My four year old niece and I have some awesome conversations. I have to share this one now before I forget.

Her: How come your tummy is so big? Do you think there might be a baby in there?

Me: No sweetie. It’s just food. Because I really like food.

Her: < thinking hard >

Me: I promise I’ll tell you if I have a baby in my tummy.

Her: < quizzical look >

Me: I *promise* I’ll tell you when there’s a baby in there. Deal?

Her: Ok, deal.

< both go about our business for a few minutes >

Her: Is there a baby in there now?

Me: No, there won’t be for a long time.

< 30 second pause >

Her: Now?

Me: No sweetie. There won’t be for a few years.

< long pause while she contemplates how long a year is >

Me: Like maybe when you’re six or something.

Her: Ok then. Let’s type. < end of baby talk >

(Typing is our favourite thing to do right now.)

30 posts in June: 17/30