Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Monday, 15 December 2014

How to plan a project with Getting Things Done

I've owned the Getting Things Done book by David Allen for some time now, and I have organised my Filofax based on his paper planner set up. Whilst I follow many of the principles of GTD, I admit that recently I've been feeling a little overwhelmed and things are in a bit of a mess right now. This brilliant video about planning a project has come along for me at just the right time! It's a great reminder for any current GTD fans, but I think it could also be of help if you've never read the book or come across GTD before.   


Saturday, 13 December 2014

2015 Create your shining year workbook by Leonie Dawson

I've been a member of the Amazing Biz and Life Academy for some time now (previously called the Goddess Circle) and have a confession... I've printed out a couple of the yearly workbooks before and never finished filling them in. Thinking back, I was struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder and I just kept putting it off as I wasn't feeling at my best. When I heard that a printed book option was being offered, it just felt like the right way to help myself make a commitment to fill it out this time. I may go back to putting it in an A5 Filofax for 2016, but I've given this one to my husband to wrap up as an easy Christmas present from him to me. Great present, I think!

You get a copy of the 2015 Create your shining year Life and Biz edition workbook and a foldout A2 full colour 2015 wall planner. E-workbooks are also available which can be filled out on your computer/tablet or printed. Warning - picture heavy post, prepare for lots of colour!
I purchased this workbook, but for your info I have added my affiliate links above.  

The paper feels like good quality and I love how bright all the colours are. When I printed one for 2014, I was aware that my printer didn't quite match the lovely colours that were showing on-screen.

It's a colourful and fun way to help you set goals, think about what habits you'd like to have and focus on what's good for you or what you need. The workbook starts off with a section to reflect on how 2014 went for you and to release everything to move onto the new year. I'm really looking forward to filling it out and will be creating a project in my Filofax to help me complete it this time.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

I forgive myself

Aiyah, where has the time gone since writing my last post??

I've been thinking about writing something about self-forgiveness for a while now, but just haven't found the right words. And then it occurred to me that it doesn't need to be some huge essay going into all the reasons why, as it just doesn't help to get sucked into all that old stuff.

I am not the person that I once was. Kinda obvious, but I think that I need to remind myself sometimes. I'm different, stronger and more able to withstand what comes my way partly due to the tough times in the past. And I have decided to forgive myself for being too hard on myself, for over-staying my welcome in situations that weren't so good for me or just for putting up with sh*t when I was too polite to say, "No, thank you".

I'm getting much better at appreciating who I am right now, rather than focusing on where I want to be or getting confused with how I used to be. I am very grateful for where I am right now, and greatly appreciate all the assistance I have received from wonderful people and experiences to help me on my way.

'Gratitude is heaven itself' - William Blake.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Letting go of past relationships (updated version 4th August 2015)

I'd previously written here in some detail about how a past relationship had affected me negatively. It was an important time for me to accept the truth of the situation and an equally important step in recovering from the experience. I am not bitter and have long forgiven the person in question. After all, it has helped make me the person I am today and has helped me find opportunities that I am deeply grateful for.

However, I've recently come to the conclusion that I don't need that post on my blog and it is time to let it go. I initially considered deleting it, but still wanted to acknowledge its importance and I didn't want to lose the wonderful comments left by people. It's nearly been a year since I wrote the original post and I feel I have learnt so many wonderful things since then.

Time to let go.
It felt right to me to somehow say goodbye, but I wanted something more symbolic than deleting the text. And then it came to me the other day in our garden, when I saw a small metal bucket just lying unused in the corner. Tonight, I printed the post out, read it for one final time and then set fire to the pages and said goodbye. I feel good, lighter and like a final something has been released. It's a bit of a windy night, so I struggled to get the paper to catch, but it's surprising what a satisfying and little fierce fire can be made from such a small amount.

Thank you for the good times and I release all the rest. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Yin and Yang of well being: meditation and exercise

I think that sometimes it's a balancing act to find out what works well for us personally. As I get older, I'm getting better at becoming more aware of what I need and listening to any timely suggestions from my environment or loved ones, my mood or my health.

It just occurred to me that currently I'm doing two things which are just perfect for me - regular meditation and exercise. I am like one of those breeds of dog that need exercise and kinda go a bit nuts without it. I enjoy the movement, how it makes me feel during and afterwards, and it definitely helps my mood and overall mental health. I purchased the 30 Day Shred workout DVD and some dumbbells, but unfortunately needed to take a break after picking up an injury at aikido. The idea is to do the daily workout for 30 days (hence the name), but I want to use it with other stuff to generally help me get fitter. My current plan is to use the DVD first thing in the morning five days a week, go for a run on another day and then one rest day. I may exchange one of the workouts for circuits instead at the weekend. I've just restarted doing the workouts (today was day two) and I am absolutely loving it.

As mentioned previously, I've been meditating on and off for quite a few years now and would recommend it to anyone. It's helped me so much, especially at difficult times in my life, and just seems to wonderfully benefit my general well being. I signed up to the 21-day meditation experience, Expanding Your Happiness, with Deepak Chopra and Oprah and today is day four of the free course. I've done it previously and really enjoyed it. Each day you receive an email with details and a link to login to that day's meditation. Each recording is about 20 minutes long, with an introduction by Oprah, followed by some further explanation and insights by Deepak and then a short meditation. I'm already noticing the benefits after just four days and will be carrying on with a daily meditation once the experience finishes.

On the face of it, I think that meditation and exercise can seem worlds apart. However, sometimes when I run or am working out hard, I experience a similar feeling to when I meditate as my mind isn't running to and fro on everyday trivia or worries. My muscles may be shouting at me or I may feel I just can't do another jumping jack, but I'm right here focused on what I'm doing, sweaty and mindful at the same time. I've gone for an early morning run with the sun shining on my face, a breeze on my back and felt like I could run forever. Turning into a movement with my partner in aikido, I accept the moment and wait for their balance to change, rather than trying to rush. Both meditation and exercise bring me into the present to help my mind and body, and I feel very grateful for the gifts and benefits that they continue to give me.  

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Sunday, 3 August 2014

I survived our 12 hour fitness charity event (and loved it)

On the 26th July I took part in a 12 hour charity event to raise funds for a local special school for young people with severe learning difficulties. I agreed to take part when it was first mentioned and it was only later that I started to wonder exactly what I was letting myself in for!

As part of my preparation, I purchased the 30 Day Shred DVD and some dumbbells, but sadly only managed to do a week of it as I managed to injure my leg whilst rolling in aikido. I was a bit concerned at one point that I might not be able to take part in the event, but lots of rest, stretching and a fantastic session with a sport therapist meant that I was raring to go (if a bit nervous).

I packed my bag the night before with deodorant, Lucozade Sport drinks, bananas, protein shake, water, towel, change of kit, boxing gloves, wallet, phone and cereal bars.

I then did some positive visualisation of seeing myself on the following day feeling strong in the sessions and enjoying it. I also decided to work on pacing myself through the day and gave myself permission to sit out if my leg was too sore or I felt sick.

I arrived at the venue at 5:50 a.m. (a 5:00 a.m. alarm was a bit of a shock) to give us time to sign paperwork and to split into two teams of thirty people in each. Our team started our first half hour session at 6:00 a.m. and in total we all worked out for 6 hours of the event alternating a session with a break and then back on again. As the day progressed those breaks definitely felt shorter! One thing that I did start to struggle with was the heat. It was cooler first thing, but as the day warmed up I found that I wasn't cooling down very much in a break and I just started to feel like I was cooking. Luckily the venue has a couple of showers, so a cold rinse was very much appreciated at the halfway stage.

After about four sessions I started to feel a bit tired, but some protein shake helped me perk back up. I'd started off at a good pace, but went a bit crazy in the middle, so needed to remind myself that I still had quite a few more hours to go. It was an absolutely amazing day and I'm so proud of how well we all did. In a normal Dawn Breakers session we do 15 rounds of exercise, but I am told that we each did 180 rounds during the event! I'm pretty impressed with how I did and everyone's energy helped me keep going. In hindsight, I could've drunk more as I only had 4 litres of Lucozade Sport and water in total. However, I made sure that I kept drinking lots of water later that day and for several days afterwards. Overall, my energy levels were pretty good during the 12 hours, I was able to push myself in our final session and I felt pretty emotional at the end.

I'm glad that I took the following Monday off work as I was a bit sore and tired still. Our goal was to raise £5k for the school to purchase a lift to help the children in wheelchairs get in and out of the playground. Thanks to lovely generous people, I personally raised £150 and at the last count we have all raised over £11k in total! Donations can still be made to the main fundraising page. I am very grateful for being involved in such an awesome day and we all worked very hard for the sponsorship raised.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Dawn Breakers fitness challenge: week 3

When I last did Dawn Breakers, I definitely struggled during week three, mainly with tiredness, and I remember I had one day off and slept in. I admit that I'm only very loosely keeping to the nutrition plan as I'm not doing the challenge to lose weight, just to work on my fitness level. I weighed myself at the end of this week and I am now 9st 10 which is the heaviest that I've ever been. I tried on a pair of trousers that I haven't worn in a while, and will need to give them away as they're now just too tight to fit my thighs in, but they're looser on the waist. It kinda cracks me up that I'm now closer to 10 stone as I'm only 5ft 6 with a slim build, and am a size 8 normally.

For some reason, I haven't been sleeping that well, which does surprise me as generally I'm pretty tired when I get into bed. I've been making sure I've drunk enough water and got back into daily meditation, so I'm sure that will help with my sleep again. I'm pretty pleased with myself as I can now do a full round of both sphinx pushups and monkey bounces, yay! The monkey bounces will never be easy and I have to close my eyes towards to end to really focus and keep going.

The last day of week three was a toughie in preparation for Phase 2... we'll now be doing 45 seconds rounds with a 10 second rest, and then another 45 second rest after finishing the five exercises in that group. Good grief, 10 seconds for a rest is really not very much! I was really pleased with how I did and got so hot that I started to slip on the mat in my own sweat (nice, I know). I normally get home at 07:45 and then leave at 08:30 to walk into work, but I was so knackered that I contacted them to say that I would be late to give me more time to recover.

It seems that the first three weeks help improve our overall fitness, in readiness for the craziness that is Phase 2! The weekend was my aikido association's annual course and I would normally attend both days, but I decided that I needed the Sunday to rest. Definitely the right decision and I slept like a log at the weekend, phew!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Dawn Breakers fitness challenge: week 2

After completing week one of Dawn Breakers, I definitely needed the weekend off to have a rest. I didn't set an alarm on either day and let myself wake up naturally, as I figured I probably could do with some extra sleep to help me recover. I was looking forward to getting back to day six, but somehow I was a bit disappointed as I felt that I hadn't worked hard enough? I've had something going on with my left knee for a while and really struggled with doing anything on one leg.

Endurance is always a tough day, but I enjoyed day seven so much more in comparison with the day before. Sphinx push ups and monkey bounces, it is ON... I will be able to do a full round of you soon, without a rest... I had another appointment at the chiropractor with the TENS machine for my knee and it'll be great for it to be back to normal. 

On day eight I felt like I could definitely push myself harder, and felt stronger on crocodile push ups and side roll overs. After a little chat about my knee, I'll be avoiding single leg ski squats etc. for the time being to help it recover and not aggravate what's going on. Wednesday seems to be the day when my energy is at its lowest, so I treated myself to another nap and slept very deeply before popping out to the chiropractor again. When I got back home after 18:00, I realised just how hungry I was and admit that I lost the plot slightly, definitely a case of what can be termed 'hangry'. My poor husband will agree that I'm not good company if I go too long without food!


Combat day is my favourite day, but I did struggle to get out of bed on day eight. I didn't feel that I could push myself as much as the previous Thursday, but I'm aware that I've done quite a bit of training since then. I think my kicks are getting a bit better, and I gave myself a stitch due to my enthusiastic elbow strikes!

I didn't sleep very well and think it was due to being hungry, so I'm going to make sure I have some fruit or something later in the evening. With it being the final workout of the week, I had decided to really go for it on day nine, but received some timely advice at the beginning that it's possible to go all out on the first round and consequently struggle to finish the rest. I still managed to work hard, but paced myself a bit better throughout the session.

I've had an awesome second week, and feel that my starting level of fitness is definitely higher due to the first Dawn Breakers that I did last year. One thing that I need to keep an eye out for is managing my expectation of what I'm capable right now, as it could be too easy for me to feel disappointed (like I did on Monday) and consequently be too hard on myself. Generally, I feel better in myself, and I think all this exercise is also good for my digestion and complexion.   

Monday, 5 May 2014

Dawn Breakers (Insanity style) fitness challenge: week 1

Following on from my previous post, I have now finished week one of Dawn Breakers and am absolutely loving it!

What is Dawn Breakers?
'High intensity, interval training, weight loss, body conditioning course. Early morning, 45 minute daily workout, over 6 weeks. DB is suitable for anybody - please get in touch if you're not sure about any aspect of it (contact details on FB page). Cost is £150 for a 6 week course, 5 workouts per week, all a little different, covering: core strength, endurance, strength, combat, agility and functionality. If it sounds a little scary, it really isn't. Anyone can do it, and EVERYONE that does will lose weight! Please look at our pictures for evidence of local people who have made a BIG difference in a SMALL amount of time! Our results speak for themselves. If you're serious about losing weight and getting in shape, there is truly no better, or faster way to do it'.  
The above info is taken from Facebook and I'm not involved in running the course, just a happy customer. 

Why am I doing it? 
I've always been fairly active, and at school was more enthusiastic than talented at sports. As an adult, I've done more swimming, running, cycling and martial arts than anything else, and only set foot in a gym on holiday. However, with all this I suppose I've never felt like I've really pushed myself physically and had the nagging feeling that I'd like to be fitter.  

One day, my husband pointed out the Femme Fatale challenge on Facebook and I found myself seriously considering signing up to it. After much consideration, I realised that I loved the idea of all the training, but I didn't particularly want to get into a ring and fight someone. Despite doing a bit of training over the years in karate, Wing Chun and kickboxing, I've never fancied doing full contact sparring much.

Dawn Breakers number 3 was about to start and it just seemed good timing after my initial interest in the Femme Fatales and I figured it would be a good way to give my seasonal affective disorder a kick up the bum. Best decision ever, toughest thing I've ever done and I've no idea why I didn't write any blog posts about it! I'd never planned to do more than one Dawn Breakers, but I had been missing it and seeing one of the regulars (I blame you, Brett) helped make my mind up to do another one. I was very lucky as there was a cancellation, so we started on Monday.

What does it involve?
My alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. and I get into my work out gear, neck down 500ml of water, make my protein shake and then into the car for the 06:45 a.m. start. After an initial warm up, the rounds in Phase 1 are currently 60 seconds with a 30 second rest in between. In week 3, Phase 2 commences with reduced rest periods and I will find out more when we get there. Last time, Phase 2 involved moving onto more circuit-like workouts where you push a particular muscle group as hard as you can and then won't work them again as you move round the room.

How has my first week been? 
I was a bit apprehensive as I'd injured my right foot at the Ikeda Sensei aikido seminar, but luckily it's recovered enough to be fine (phew). Day one was a gentle introduction (compared with what's to come) and we started off with 35 second rounds with the normal 30 second rest. Great to be back and it's a much larger group than last time, which is testament to how awesome it is. Blimey day two (endurance) was so much harder and back to the normal 60 second rounds. Andy didn't hold back and had us doing exercises like burpees, bastardos (burpee with a push up included)  and we finished on monkey bounces. Day three (strength) was a toughie for me with things like sphinx push ups and these (not sure we call them that). Energy-wise, this was definitely my hardest day and I luckily had the day off work, so had a nap in the afternoon. After my nap, I felt more rested and ready for day four and I flippin' LOVE combat day! Managed to push myself much harder and I was bright pink when I finished. I also walked about 3 miles and my kind husband gave me a lift home as my legs didn't fancy the extra mile home on top of that... Day five (agility and functionality) was the toughest as there's lots of up and down, with balance required which becomes trickier the more tired I become. Andy is evil as the final round was two monkey bounces forward and then two back, very tired at the end.  

I'm aware that this kind of fitness training won't be for everyone, but I find that working out in the morning is such a great way to start the day. £150 might also seem like quite a bit of dosh, but it only works out at £5 per day, which I think is well worth it. Despite a mid-week dip in my energy levels, I'm now feeling more perky and looking forward to working harder during week two. Overall, I think I feel better in myself and I'm looking forward to what's to come!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Hot pink patent Domino Filofax review

I'd like to thank Filofax UK for kindly sending me a new patent Domino Filofax free of charge to review. As the hot pink name says, I was expecting this to be a really bright colour and I was not disappointed! Even before I removed it from its packaging, I could already see the pink showing through.

The Domino Filofaxes are one of the lower priced binders in the company's range and are pretty popular. I've only briefly owned ones in the snake finish (nicer than it sounds and not real snakeskin!), but I do like their minimal styling, and the recently launched patent finish is available in pocket, personal and A5 sizes.

For those of you familiar with the Domino, the styling of the exterior hasn't changed and is made of a patent effect PU, with a bright pink elastic closure.

 The finish is very glossy and if I look closely at the picture of the front, I can see myself being reflected there. It's only when I change the angle that you can really see just how glossy this binder is and you can make out the reflection of some trees that are outside our garden.

The interior (compared with the non-patent ones) has lost the card slots, and has a full length vertical slip pocket on the left and the right. There is a lining underneath the slip pockets and one elastic pen loop on the right.

As you can see from the above photo, it doesn't lay flat out of the box. With a little training it may be fine, but as I will be either returning it or doing a give away I didn't want to force it too much. I do find this interior layout very minimal (compared to the Malden that I own), but I would imagine that less pockets will help make the Filofax lighter to carry around.

The inserts that are included are:

  • Transparent flyleaf 
  • Colour topsheet
  • Week on two pages 18 month diary - 5 language
  • Frosted ruler/page marker
  • Coloured 1-6 numbered index
  • To do inserts
  • Pink, green, blue and white ruled notepaper
  • White plain notepaper
  • White quadrille paper
  • Contacts
  • Top opening transparent envelope.    
Other specs:
  • Height: 190mm
  • Width: 130mm
  • Depth: 40mm
  • Ring mechanism: 23mm. 
To be honest, when I first took the Domino out of its packaging, I thought, "Ugh, it's too plasticky and if Barbie had a Filofax, this would be it!" However, I didn't want to write the review straightaway and wanted to give myself some more time to make my mind up. I can definitely say that it has grown on me quite a bit. I am very aware that it is in a quite different price range to the ones that I own and I need to take this into account. I didn't pay anywhere near full price for mine, but the personal Maldens are priced at £76 and this Domino is £23. 

I admit that I am not really into pink, but it is a lovely and cheery shade and I hope that they will release them in different colours as I could see it working in a dark red or teal colour. I couldn't see myself getting this colour out at a business meeting though! I do wonder about the durability of the exterior and I suppose it could pick up scratches if being carried around in a bag with other items. Now that I've handled it some more, I can definitely see its appeal and I think that the patent effect will be popular.    

I'd like to thank Filofax UK again for the opportunity to write this review. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Recent music purchases and back to Dawn Breakers fitness challenge

Unfortunately I've had a bit of an icky start to the year due to a mixture of seasonal affective disorder and being ill with different bugs that have been going around. Therefore I thought that it was time to buy some upbeat music to help cheer me up and get me going!

I wouldn't say that these recent purchases particularly reflect my normal taste in music, but most of them were played during the 6-week Dawn Breakers (Insanity style) fitness challenge that I did last December. I have just signed up to another one that starts at the end of this month, so I will be writing some posts about that as I didn't last time. It's a high intensity course of training five days a week (6:45 a.m. warm up, I remember you) and during the one last year I was pushed the hardest that I have ever been physically.

Here's why I absolutely loved it:

  • Lovely bunch of people to train with and working in a group helps so much
  • Nutrition plan - I admit I only kinda followed this as I don't need to lose weight and just wanted to get fitter 
  • Ongoing help and advice from people with lots of experience
  • Being able to push myself much harder than I would be confident of doing by myself
  • Exercise definitely helps my mood
  • Completing such a tough challenge made me feel a bit of a badass!       

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Earth Hour 2014

On Saturday March 29th at 8:30 p.m. GMT, millions of people across the world are switching off lights for one hour to celebrate their commitment to the planet for Earth Hour.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Kid President's 20 things we should say more often

Oh dear, I am a bad blogger.
I had planned to post once a week from the new year, but I've been recovering from some bug which means I haven't been doing much of anything (and this includes blogging)!

Whilst I schedule some more posts, I thought I'd share with you another Kid President video as I loved this one so much.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Guest post by Jane about minimalism

Hi, I'm Jane from Texas! I'm a 30-something Art Teacher and I'm a minimalist.

I found Anita through my passion of Filofax organizers and I was amazed at the fact that she only had two Filofaxes. (Now, she has one!)

I've actively pursued the minimalist lifestyle for four years. I first discovered minimalist living in December 2009. Since then, my husband and I have de-owned about 70% of our belongings. Anita asked me to write my thoughts on minimalism--and I warn you, this will be a lengthy article. (Ironic? Absolutely.)

What is minimalism?
The minimalist lifestyle is now considered the forefront trend in modern living. It's often poo-pooed as a fad, many people can par down all their possessions to a single backpack? To me, minimalism is simply getting down to basics. I can only wear one shirt at a time--why own 50? Minimalism is taking the time to step back from shopping, deciding my criteria for a purchase, and buying for usefulness or beauty. 
Not because of a sale.
Or because a famous celebrity owns the same item.
For example, I had a black purse I used for ten years. I reluctantly let it go because it was battered--without having a replacement lined up--and it took me years to figure out my ideal purse is a cross body. After deciding what I needed (pocket on outside for keys, zippered top, adjustable strap), I'm the happy owner of three purses that are high quality, durable, and washable.
Once you take the time to figure out your needs, it's as if objects that you know won't work, suddenly don't jump out at you and scream 'buy me' anymore. Even if they are on sale.

What has minimalism done for me?
Mentally, I'm a much more peaceful person. I have time to think about my character strengths and weaknesses--and take the time to make improvements. This has improved my close relationships. Other friendships I've had to let go. I've also had to set some boundaries.
Because I'm not spending my time organizing my possessions or extreme cleaning (it's very hard to clean a knick-knack shelf or deep clean multiple rooms),
I have time to work on a future career change.
I'm also at the peak of my creativity. If I need something, I try to think of a similar item that would substitute. Or try to think of a way to repair an item. For example, a friend gave me a travel mug, but the open/closed lid broke. Instead of tossing it, I studied it. I gave myself mental space to see that it'd originally been glued on. So, I pulled out the crazy glue, and secured it back together. After a day of curing, I washed it and poured myself some peppermint tea.

What has minimalism done for my family?
We are debt free, haven't had a car payment since 2008, and had the financial resources to move to a new state because of a career opportunity for my husband. After a year in the new city, we realized it wasn't for us, and minimalism gave us the ability to pack up and move back home (in a considerably smaller truck, I might add).
I know that when my time on earth ends, getting rid of my possessions won't be a burden on a loved one. 
Minimalism has given my husband and I a mental sense of freedom from worrying about keeping up with the Jones', guilt about our previous lifestyle, and we've released the fear surrounding life's uncertainties. 

Hmm, this minimalism stuff is starting to sound good. Where do I start?
There are many, many inspirational sites online. One suggests getting rid of one item per day. Another suggests packing up your entire house and only pulling out items that you need, as you use them.
I want to offer one word of caution. Some minimalists have gotten rid of most of their possessions in a short period of time. However, this is not a requirement, nor do I believe to be the norm. It's taken my husband and I years to de-own. Plus, we've also moved 5 times within four years. Moving always helps you decide what's important enough to pack, and what isn't. 
What helped me the most was realizing I've always been minimalist in certain areas of my life. I choose quality shoes over seasonal styles, for example and I bet the most I've ever owned is ten pairs. I've kept a fairly empty purse--including things that are essential like lip balm, sunglasses, tissues, and wallet. Once I realized  I wasn't into kitchen equipment, or bathroom products, or make-up, I started clearing out those areas first. I focused on the belongings where I showed a natural tendency for less, cleaned out the unwanted items in those areas, and my successes snowballed. (Note: I am cheap. If I had soap, toothpaste, or shampoo samples or partially used bottles, I used those up before purchasing more.) 
And on and on it went. I eventually went through my entire house.
There were things I knew I should downsize, but that I wasn't mentally ready to deal with. So I gave myself the gift of time.
Things equalized.
Then, I'd find an item and realize I didn't need it. I'd go a few more days and think, "Why did I want that?"
And I'd start a box, it'd get full and I'd either donate the items or save it for a garage sale.
We had a lot of garage sales.
And eBay auctions.
The cycle continued and we'd have another massive clean out. We'd rest. And do it again.
It's a continuous action in our household now.

So, I'm a Minimalist Now...How do I get rid of all my stuff?
First, take a deep breath, and relax. De-owning and studying our individual habits that led to needless purchasing will take time. Start with the medicine cabinet. Clear it out. Then clear out the spices and seasonings. Before grocery shopping this week, take an inventory of all the food items you have in your pantry and see if you can't use up 3 items in your menu for the upcoming week. Strive for daily progress instead of a marathon clean out. Be especially careful of family members who are used to clutter and allow breathing room as you slowly remove a figurine here or a decoration there.
Look at why you shop. Do you feel powerful when you find a sale? Does this feeling make you feel like you're in control? Why don't you feel in control in the rest of your life? Do you shop because you're around other people and you're really lonely? Do you purchase items because you're keeping up with others? Right-sizing (a more positive term than downsizing) is a journey that can bring up emotional issues, so you might want to journal about new emotions that pop up during this process. It's okay to move slowly, backslide, stop altogether, and start again.

I've gotten rid of 80% of my stuff...but I'm still not happy. This Minimalism business is a joke. 
Being a minimalist won't make you happy. Happiness is a moment-by-moment choice. After you significantly reduce the amount of your possessions, you might suddenly realize you're sad, or angry, or perhaps not like parts of your personality. This very much happened to me. 
I was angry I couldn't purchase happiness. Objects can distract us, but they will never fix unsettling emotions. Events that we've never dealt with might come bubbling up to the surface, and they'll remain there, driving us to do the opposite of we truly desire. Why? They haven't healed.
You might realize you need to learn coping skills, how to set boundaries, or to make some major lifestyle changes. It's so easy to buy a book or workout equipment, but your self esteem won't change unless you use the techniques within them. 
Dealing with the emotional journey of minimalism can allow you to be the person you are destined to be.

1. A great little video of a man who retired at 42 and who truly has achieved personal happiness by owning less.
2. A Podcast about a Pastor who realized stuff was robbing him of time with his family.
3. Finding the courage and freedom of honoring our true interests.
4. This story simply cracks me up. If all robbers were faced with nothing to steal!
5. A look at visual peace in a Minimalist Apartment.

Thanks for a really interesting post, Jane. It's a subject close to my own heart and I very much enjoyed hearing about your own journey. You can read all my posts about minimalism here

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Japanese fountain pens give away winners

Thank you very much for your interest in my recent give away.
I'm pleased to announce that the winners are:

  1. Mrs. Harris
  2. lifeofkitty
  3. Ericka.

Please could you email me your name and address to info [at] anitalim [dot] co [dot] uk ?
Thank you once again to Cult Pens for supplying the pens free of charge for me to review and give away.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Guest Post - In Praise of the Filofax Sketch and Other Stories !!

By Anthony Hill

I am very grateful to Anita for inviting me to write this guest post. We have been in touch often and I was delighted and surprised, in equal measure, to be given this opportunity. I really feel this is quite an honour to be able to write a few lines and insert one or two photos. Yes, I have to say in advance there are many images/photos, so those of a nervous disposition please look away now.

This is my first guest post. So here goes and with an certain amount of trepidation, as I jab the odd finger at the keyboard. I sincerely hope to bring something of interest.

Filofax Sketch
As you can see from the heading, it concerns the Filofax Sketch (amongst other things). I haven’t so far read anything about the Sketch on Philofaxy, of course here I stand to be corrected. I think that the Sketch hasn’t been as popular and it is certainly under rated. There are however on YouTube one or two videos of the Sketch in A5 size.  

My binder is in personal size and red in colour. The cover is made up of a tough ribbed nylon with a leather look trim. A rubberised oval on the spine carries the Filofax logo. The fastener which covers the top part of the press stud, aka the popper, also has a rubberised insert that carries the Filofax name. There is one pen loop which is on the left hand side. Inside the binder there are six slots for credit cards, business cards and one full length pocket behind which runs from top to bottom. To the rear, there is a slot for the writing pad under which another pocket also runs from top to bottom. Externally there is a pocket again running from top to bottom, useful for slotting in small-ish items.

I purchased the binder early last year at a good discount, approximately half price at the local TK Maxx store, where would we be without the opportunity to buy Filos at a substantial discount. Since then I have used my Sketch constantly it’s my everyday binder, in the vernacular !! There are no signs of wear which I think is due to the nylon covers.  

Inside there is the diary, a week on two pages. I prefer the pages to be ruled. It seems to be impossible to buy the ruled diary inserts at any of the stores. This means that one has to send to Filofax which is an annual ritual for me. Although as others have frequently noted the grade of the paper could be much better. I have yet to get to grips with inserts made available by Steve and Ray.  

Following on the A to Z tab with addresses, followed by the tab containing the Birthdays and Anniversaries section. The next tab contains notes relating to Filofax details of our Meet Ups, notes etc, items of the interest based around the Filofax. A computer related tab follows, and as I carry out voluntary work this is where the appointment details are held. Finally notes related to my Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutter.  

It’s a recent acquisition, and the Cameo is extremely versatile. The machine is ideal for making greetings cards as it will cut any font installed on your computer. It will cut card stock and vinyl, and also there is the facility to etch glass with designs, logos, initials and so on. One of the features of the Cameo is the trace function which makes it easy to take a simple jpeg shape and convert it into a cuttable file.

The Filofax Sketch Detailed Views

Filofax Family

From left to right:
Windsor Blue, Osterley Plum,
Finchley Imperial purple,
Malden Crimson, Sketch Red. 

The next tab contains my ever increasing wish list of CD albums that I’d like to buy, given the opportunity, please read that as a financial opportunity. I seem to constantly find new albums that interest me. Oh! will I ever cease adding to the list !! I have recently bought the DVD of Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” with Agnes Baltsa and José Carraras with the New York Metropolitan Opera and Chorus, conducted by James Levine. This is a very exciting and colourful version of the opera with terrific performances by the principal singers, if there are opera lovers out there or anyone with an interest in good I highly recommend this DVD.

My passion for music has been with me for as long as I care to remember. I have a great interest in many styles of music from English folk music, for example The Watersons, and French folk music the works of Malicorne fascinate me. All the songs are sung in French, but that doesn’t deter me one iota and my CD collection will attest to this. I love The Great American Song Book and by this I mean all of the great popular song writers of the era, like The Gershwins, Cole Porter, Harold ArlenVernon Duke, Jerome Kern and many more.

The style that never fails to grab me is the unaccompanied singing A cappella. Incidentally it’s Italian for “in the manner of the church” and leading exponents are:- The Hi-Lo's, The Singers Unlimited, JuneTabor, and The Kings Singers.

The inclusion of Jazz is a must. I have found that my horizons have expanded to long time favourites LouisArmstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, and my favourite exponents of vocalise Lambert Hendricks and Ross, and also Les Double Six of Paris

I've also just recently found the operetta Here’s a howdy do !

Many thanks to all who have stayed with me through my musings. I hope that it has been interesting and a big thank you once again to the lovely Anita to whom I will be permanently indebted.

Thanks for a great post, Tony! And you are correct that the Sketch hasn't really been covered much over at Philofaxy.