The year I want to forget…

Posted November 20, 2016 by angelvalerie
Categories: Take time to think, Uncategorized

Tags: ,

So this year I’ve been mostly absent from cyberspace and social life. It started with losing my very old and absolutely gorgeous white German shepherd girl, Lady Jane. That was just before Easter. She was the definition of loyalty and devotion. I miss my girl.

Then I finally, more than a year AFTER the move date, got the keys to my newly built Celebration Homes house. While much of the house was done well, there were a pile of things needing fixing…so it felt like I was handed over an unfinished house. 

At the same time, my old home was broken into and loads stolen, including my racing bike for triathlon that you see in the picture. The person selling MY BIKE in that picture is Cash Converters, whom I’d sent a photo to and who were meant to check the police stolen log before accepting stolen goods. They clearly do not care about the source of goods, and must have known it was stolen as they paid (according to police) just $200 for it.. note they’re selling it for much more. I recovered the bike but no other goods.

On the same night they returned and stole my car, got in a police chase and smashed it. So, for about 12 weeks I was living with borrowed cars and lifts etc. Not great fun while moving house. 

Naturally all this upset my dogs a great deal too, leaving me with behavioural issues to manage. They were very stressed, which resulted in some damage to the new house (I had to replace a whole door and get professional painters in!).

Moving house is supposed to be very stressful in itself. My move was nightmarish and some matters are still outstanding (like the refund from the moving company TLI transport, who damaged goods and overcharged me). I think it has taken months for me to settle after all this. The dogs have finally stopped barking when someone drives past, so they’re calmer too. 

My mantra has been about self care. I’ve taken long walks, been on very long runs, spent hours sleeping and been very careful about diet. I’ve stopped all extra activities, and only done the essentials outside of home. I’ve not been very social, nor very community minded in terms of volunteering. I have been able to recalibrate. I’m finally out of the mental fog that an overload of cortisol (the stress hormone your brain produces) brings and can think clearly. 

I’m glad that before this year I learned about self care, about rest and about saying “no”. These lessons have helped bring me through this nightmare year. So, I’m ready to embrace the new year, ready to think about what I’d like 2017 to look like. 

On goals and motivation…

Posted February 6, 2016 by angelvalerie
Categories: Uncategorized

I took this photo while visiting someone…it’s rather blurry as I was being discrete. ☺️  It’s easy to set goals, to read motivational blogs and books, to get the outer appearance of one who is achieving goals. It’s also easy to be very busy making goals, reviewing goals and reading up to check if your goals are on the right track.

A few years ago I ran a training program for leaders. It went for 12 months. About 8 months later one of the members rang me asking should he join a program to achieve his goals run by an international leadership guru and costing a large sum of money. My answer? You can pay any amount you like to be motivated, but if you don’t follow through personally by executing, then you’re no better off.

In my opinion, the key to getting the goals done is execution. You have to follow through, you have to do what needs to be done…and that doesn’t wait for you to feel motivated. You can read more books, review all you like and refine goals weekly, but if you do not act on a consistent basis, it all means nothing. Don’t wait to feel motivated. Just do what needs to be done. DECIDE to do it, follow through. 

I hope to hear of great achievements from you throughout this year, because you CAN do, you just have to choose to.

It’s a new year…

Posted January 1, 2016 by angelvalerie
Categories: Uncategorized

Malaysia July 09 032
Several years ago I started this blog. I’m a good starter, however I sometimes find I’m not great at finishing. However, I’ve been working on that a bit at a time. I’ve finished my doctorate, I’ve finished ironman 70.3 a couple of times and I’m going to finish building a new house this year. This is a long read, be warned.

For several years I’ve been working on decluttering. Yes, YEARS. I’m not finished yet, but I’m a good deal closer than when I started. This is something I haven’t lost motivation for, it’s something I am finishing. My life today as I start 2016 is far simpler and easier than it’s ever been. 

I’ve had people admire the ease I currently have in managing my stuff. Let me explain what I’ve done along the way.

1) I started with bills

I started by reducing the amount I got in bills by pre-paying a little bit off  them every fortnight. This reduced my need for credit cards as I wasn’t getting big bills every couple of months anymore. For bills I couldn’t prepay, I started a savings account and put money aside. For the first 6-8 months it made things very tight financially as I was paying twice. I was paying the bills coming in plus pre-paying the next one. After that it smoothed out and now I live without a credit card, that’s relieved stress.

As for the physical bills, I’ve switched everything I possibly could to email. I have folders for utilities, phone bills, insurance, etc.  I’ve also signed up for direct debit. So, the whole bill process automates itself.

2) Then I moved to paper

As a student, researcher, reader and trainer I’ve had hundreds of articles I’ve found useful. I had 2 large 4-drawer filing cabinets. So, I started scanning articles. I also searched the web. I found many articles I wanted to keep were already out there, searchable in a matter of minutes. So, why fill a filing cabinet? 

The articles I really wanted to keep I downloaded into Evernote. It is a great searchable database for me. There are others, so try a few and see what suits you. I scanned loads of other materials, e.g. Handouts from workshops and conferences. I also scanned old journals, diaries, anything I wanted to keep became a PDF. It took about 5 years and I now have a handful of paper files for the things I have to have in paper (e.g. Rates notices for property) – but I only keep the most recent one in paper. 

Then I started emailing organisers of workshops and conferences ahead of time. I’d ask them to provide me with a PDF instead of a paper copy. At first this was difficult for them, but these days it’s far easier and many have paperless conferences. 

3) I began to use an iPad 

I bought an iPad as a late adopter but quickly converted to it πŸ˜‰ I found I could now write notes (it took time trying every app out there until I found what I was happy with) and file them without paper anywhere! This means that these days there is little to scan.

4) I scanned ALL my photos

I believe I have about 2 albums left in the house as I simply scanned and threw out 20+ albums. For the handful of old photos I really thought precious, I paid a professional to convert them to high resolution photos and clean them up (many had gone strange colours). I created electronic albums. I have the PDF of each album exactly as was, and then I have the jpeg of individual photos as well. This allows me to create new albums if I want.

While this took a few years as well, it was worthwhile. My photos are now on my screensavers and I see them far more frequently than when they stood around on bookshelves.

5) I bought a Kindle 

In addition to the above, I started buying books electronically. I slowly bought reference books I had in ebook format and gave away the physical book. Yes, I bought it twice. As it’s very expensive, this is an ongoing project.

I will say that for old books I had that weren’t available in ebook, I shipped them to California and paid to have them scanned. I used 1-dollar-scan, which were an excellent company to deal with. I was able to have about 20,000 pages of books converted this way. The vast majority are completely out of print, some were fragile and falling apart. I now have them on the kindle for all time. 

I still have some physical books and probably always will have. However, the once-in-a-while reference books and novels are now not requiring storage space, cleaning, checking for silverfish etc. I’m happier πŸ˜€

6) I bought iTunes Match 

I then decided to rip all my CDs into the cloud. For me iTunes Match was the solution as I’m already in the Apple ecosystem. There are other options out there. So, my collection of CDs and tapes (yes, I still had them!) are now in iTunes. I can access any music anywhere. I’ve bought new music in e-format. I had over 250 CDs, so this has reduced clutter hugely as well. I also no longer have piles of CDs next to my player with empty cases gathering dust – bonus!

This is the essential stuff of how I reduced my life to a simpler one. There are others who have done clothing, kitchen and household stuff, etc. I have done these but the impact on making my life simpler was not as significant as completing the above.

It may take you a while, I’ve been at it for 8 years or so… But it’s worthwhile.

Have a fabulous 2016, focus on what’s important!

When things go wrong but people think they’re right…

Posted November 12, 2015 by angelvalerie
Categories: Uncategorized

I live in a world where I am watched. Not in the creepy big brother way of most government instrumentalities, but more in the way of people looking for guidance. The funny thing is that people assume my life is smooth, easy and I’m always “up” or “strong”. 

It’s unfortunately not true. Like all other humans, I live with frailty as part of my make up. Things go wrong in my life, and sometimes lots of things go wrong at once…then I feel overwhelmed (like everyone else). The key is I’ve learned to just be… To just be human and not have loads of judgement about it.

No “I should” or “that’s unfair”… No judgement like that. I’ve learned to accept it, to roll with the punches and get up to keep going. Life is full of challenge. Life is full of possibilities. Life is there to be lived.

Walk gently through life, because it’s true that you don’t know what demons someone else is fighting. Reserve judgement. Show care. Encourage them to get up and keep going. In this way, we get through it together.

Sanitising the muck in your head…

Posted October 25, 2015 by angelvalerie
Categories: Good habits and bad...

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
The sun is rising over a small island in the Indian Ocean

The sun is rising over a small island in the Indian Ocean

My head is spinning and all weekend I have been trying to quiet it. I noticed a few months back that as work became busier, my head filled up a lot. It is an occupational hazard to dream about others’ problems, and have nightmares about others’ experiences. People bring the ugly side of life to me to leave in a safe place.
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Kindness matters…

Posted October 19, 2015 by angelvalerie
Categories: Take time to think

Tags: , , , ,

I work in a world of pain, it is a world where sometimes people are hurting because others deliberately hurt them. There are many times this doesn’t make sense, many days I’d like to live in a different kind of world. 

As I go through life, I see hurting people everywhere. I also hear meanness and judgement. I also become cynical because I know some lie, some deceive and some will sell their soul for gold. I get tired of agencies asking for donations, of volunteers asking for support and of generally feeling guilty that I can’t give to it all. I have seen the lazy masquerading as mission workers in third world countries, the greedy spending nothing on loved ones and all on themselves, and the selfish demanding their needs be met without considering the needs of others. Cynicism and I are well acquainted.

Yet, through all this I cling to GRACE. I hang on to kindness and compassion as the guiding lights of my behaviour. For as I look back a dark moments, moments I felt I was drowning in sorrow, it is the kindness of others I recall. The compassion of those who helped me is the food of my soul that balances the cynicism. 

We live in a world where there is cruelty, but I choose kindness as the path I travel. You too have a choice.

On becoming trendy…

Posted September 20, 2015 by angelvalerie
Categories: The power of reflection

Tags: ,

Suddenly over the last few weeks I’ve noticed people talking about living deliberately, actually using those words: “living deliberately”. I realise that this blog has been going for years and now I’m trendy.

Of course, like all fads, this will pass. People who lived out of a shopping bag will fill homes with children, pets and stuff…People who travelled light will stop and work a 9-5 job…People who refused to eat grain will start buying cereal. Such is life, this is how the world works. Looking back we see the hippies, the beatniks, the nerds…all had their day. 

So, how has this changed anything for me? It hasn’t. I’m still not clogging the newsfeed with every thought I’ve had, I’m still decluttering on an ongoing basis. 

Last week I took some time to visit a tulip festival, playing with my camera, trying to learn new skills. It was fabulous to switch off to work and just focus on colours and wondering around enjoying nature. 

Are you living deliberately? Making decisions for yourself that are meaningful and fit into values? If so, feel proud and enjoy!