Living the eco-baby life

I know I said it would probably be a while before I published another blog post, but I have learned so much in the past month I couldn’t resist!

In an ideal world, many people would prefer a natural birth with no drugs or interference and a labour that is not particularly lengthy. This is what I also hoped for but as my due date grew closer, I was readying myself for anything.

After being told I may need to be induced early, something changed for me. I was ready and understood that the baby was ready to come out!

So, my birth didn’t start off going to plan but after being induced, having my waters broken and a couple of hours of contractions, out he came.

Our beautiful baby boy is now with us and we are loving every bit of the journey. We are learning so much every day, and instead of feeling constantly overwhelmed, we are enjoying it as much as we can and I am focusing on expanding my knowledge because there is just so much to learn!

Being the eco-conscious person that I endeavour to be, I ordered a bunch of both cloth nappies and biodegradable bamboo nappies before the birth. I had heard that cloth nappies weren’t the easiest on newborns, but I was keen to eventually give them a go and planned to use the bamboo nappies in the meantime.

After returning home from hospital, we got to work on our eco-baby routine. Bamboo nappies, check. Bamboo wipes, check. Biodegradable nappy bags, check. We were set and it felt really good. But I felt like I could do more, I mean I had enough cloth nappies for part time usage and a heap of old school terry towelling nappies too.

It’s like people tried to put me off, telling me cloth nappies aren’t easy, and that I wouldn’t last long using them, especially without a dryer. But I am pretty determined, and I don’t mind cleaning a bit of poop here and there. The biggest issue I am having at the moment is with the fit. Once he is a bit bigger I think I will find them more useful and won’t need to change the sheets so frequently! But I have decided that a little bit of extra water usage in the interim is better than a mountain of waste that will take a lifetime to break down. I know that even biodegradable nappies take a while to break down, but their environmental footprint is better than that of non-biodegradable nappies.

I have also been researching the best chemical free or chemically reduced options for things like nappy rash, sunscreen etc and have been asking anyone with a child what they did. I am now using paw paw ointment as barrier cream for nappy rash, which seems to be working well. Apparently nappy rash will be an issue with cloth nappies, due to moisture build up so I make sure I lather it on at least once a day!

I had to order of a different type of (still Australian made) biodegradable nappies, as the ones I started using decided to start leaking occasionally too. These new ones I have ordered claim to have a high absorbency and have been pretty good so far.

This is my life now and I am loving it! It has been such an important time of learning and we love watching our baby as he takes in the world and responds differently every day.

If anyone has anything they want to share, please leave a comment!

Blissful thinking

Almost one month in to 2021, and not much has changed. Australia was fortunate to have been in a pretty good place with managing the COVID situation across multiple states towards the end of last year, and as we entered 2021, things were much the same, with border closures and restrictions in place depending on the area you lived. It almost came as a shock that on New Year’s Eve my husband and I were required to wear masks when we went out to dinner but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, and we understand the importance of these kinds of mandates. After all, it was not so long ago that we were in a more challenging time, similar to what much of the world is still experiencing right now.

The year ahead

With desperate hopes for an effective vaccine and a fast rollout, the world is in limbo. It amazes me how adamant some people are to get on with their daily lives, as if nothing is happening, lining up immediately behind one another to purchase a coffee or cramming into the grocery aisle.

People everywhere are wondering; when will things go back to being how they were? Or maybe they have already come to terms with the fact that nothing will ever be the same, and they don’t care, or just don’t want to think about it. I could say something about ignorance and bliss right here, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

As I said last year, I think it will be a very long time before anything is back to the way it was pre pandemic and as common as it may be to say it now, many of us are getting used to the new normal. We have just about had one whole year to become accustomed to the situation, so there is no excuse, right? Sadly, this concept of normality applies to climate change too; it seems that anything we don’t have a practical solution for falls into this category.

Time to refresh

This year brings no change to my working situation; I’m still at home, which I am happy about. But it is not easy making plans for the year ahead. Of course, we can stay at home as we did last year, and I am a bit of a homebody so wouldn’t mind this too much, or we can plan to get things done on the weekend, falling victim to our pre-pandemic lifestyles. It’s like a trap; we are so used to being all go, go, go, when the best thing we can do right now is stay put.

I have been thinking and reading a lot on the topic of wellness lately, which the more I think about it, the more I realise it is something that resonates with me. I want to take the time to learn yoga and meditation; to learn how to properly switch my mind off. I have just started using natural oils on my skin and am absolutely loving them. By ensuring my meals remain healthy throughout the day (breakfast of bircher muesli/granola is my all-time fave), and fitting in plenty of exercise, this is working well for me. Maybe that is what I should continue to focus on this year; health and wellness as a way of helping me to relax and unwind.

Change is refreshing, and with so much happening around us every day, now is a good time to take time to focus on what really makes us happy. Take the plunge and do something you’ve always wanted to; It doesn’t have to be a drastic commitment or promise; maybe a simple change of heart or new perspective on something is all that is required.

So go on, have a think about what you could do for yourself that will also have a positive impact on the people and/or environment around you and make it happen.

Sunsets and reflection

I am one of those people who is enjoying this time in isolation, particularly with regards to working from home. I get to spend more time with my husband and my dog and as soon as I log off each weekday, I am free to go for a run or do whatever I need to do. I don’t have a 40 minute commute ahead of me, crammed in with a bunch of strangers in the same situation, followed by an hour at the gym, again with sweaty individuals who don’t understand the meaning of personal space, only to get home by 7:30pm, walk the dog and then sit down to enjoy dinner by 8:30 or 9pm.

In saying that, I didn’t used to mind the morning commute. I would often get a seat on the train so had time to sit somewhat comfortably and read the day’s news. I did not mind overhearing conversations that weren’t relevant to me or smiling awkwardly at whoever squeezed aside to let me off the train. We were all in the same situation, on our way to the office, where we would spend the day trapped in a same space with many others who we may or may not be able to tolerate, sometimes able to get outside for a walk around the block at lunchtime, depending on our schedules or the weather.

I thought my day to day was pretty good and I had a routine figured out that worked for me most of the time. I never had any trouble getting out of bed in the morning and was able to challenge myself with new projects at work.

But now, having worked from home for close to three months straight, I am loving my new routine. It is a difficult situation that the world is in, but if we begin to consider the positive impact this could have on workplace flexibility and adaptability (as well as the environmental benefits) when we come out of it, we realise that for many of us working from home on a full time basis is not a bad idea at all. If we can thrive in a familiar environment, why take that away? Why force us into a potentially unhealthy routine, where we are much more likely to suffer fatigue, exhaustion or contract a highly contagious virus?

On an evening run last week, I took the time to appreciate where I was and what I noticed around me. The sky was a deep pink colour; it was a gorgeous sunset and I couldn’t help but think ‘red sky at night, sailors delight,’ thinking of the fisher people who may be out on the water the next day and that if the riddle were true, a clear morning would follow. I stopped to take photos which is not something I often do while on a run, but the way that the glow of the sky was soaking into everything that lay beneath it, I couldn’t resist. I had been using a tracker app and surely stopping would not do me any favours in getting a good time, but I was caught up in the moment ‒ something which has not happened at least since the start of lockdown.

It was a good feeling, being so involved in what is going on around me, to not be thinking about anything else, other than how I felt at that time.

This is a dividing time for workforce flexibility, where these new opportunities and emotions are making many of us reconsider our ‘old lives’. Rather than contemplating an eventual return to the office, what organisations should be getting their heads around is the idea of working from home as a continued future practice. If we have adapted well in the current situation, and are better off this way, why should that be taken away?

If you have any thoughts on this topic, please leave a comment below.

Consumed

Most of you will agree that feeling underprepared is not a great feeling.

Unprepared, underprepared, unawares, however you choose to say it; it essentially means the same thing – not quite prepared and maybe even caught by surprise.

Whether it’s an occasion, an event, a sporting game or a meeting – being underprepared is not ideal for anyone.

Staying on top of things

It happened to me recently. Of course, it happens often in day to day life, but I usually try to stay on top of things as best I can. I was finishing up a meeting with a co-worker when he began asking about my next meeting, that I had been called to attend at last minute notice.

I answered his questions as best I could, he was curious and wanted to know what the meeting was about. He smirked and joked that I hadn’t done my homework. I smiled and looked down because I knew that that wasn’t entirely true – I knew the focus of the meeting, but I hadn’t completely readied myself for the discussion that would follow.

I had done all the pre-reading earlier in the week, but it was a lot of new information and some of it was still sinking in.

I should have almost expected to be called in to the meeting, then I would have been more prepared.

But I wasn’t.

Realisations

And did I stuff up in the meeting? I don’t think so, no. I may not have had much to say but I took a lot of notes as this is how I tend to absorb information.

Lately, I have been thinking that this is something I need to stop doing.

There is so much advice out there about being present and living in the moment. I need to learn to trust myself, trust that I know what is going on and be comfortable in knowing that I don’t always need to take a mountain of seemingly unnecessary notes.

If I am asked a question after a meeting, I most often go from what I remember anyway, I rarely refer to my notes.

So, I’m going to stop taking as many notes in the meetings I attend.

Once I am clear that I do understand what is going on – because I understand people and relationships to some extent, I will just sit back and listen. I think when I allow myself to do this, and to be fully immersed in discussion, I will add more value.

I mean, I don’t take notes when discussing what my friend is up to on the weekend or when I ask how her work is going. I just remember what she says and offer expressions and/or advice. Sometimes I forget, and that is okay.

We don’t always need to remember everything.

I almost makes me nervous – not to take notes. It has become the way I work – it’s just what I do.

But I need to let go of my fear of missing something. Because realistically, I am missing what’s happening right in front of me. I am missing the passion, the fight, the belief in what people are saying and really this is not what I ever wanted to do.

I never thought the day would come when I would say this, but I think my notes are consuming me, and I really need to stop and allow myself to live in the moment.

Comparing two cities

Isn’t it strange how sometimes when you are in a place you compare it with somewhere else that you’ve already been?

You look around, get an understanding of the people, the weather, the landmarks and reach a conclusion that this place is very similar to somewhere you have been before.

Maybe it is because of the need to feel familiar with our surroundings, despite the fact that a lot of travellers think they would be comfortable anywhere.

Don’t get me wrong; I love exploring new places, but we all know that familiarity breeds comfort, which makes us feel content.

So why do we do it?

What is the point going anywhere if all you’re going to compare it to somewhere else?

Aren’t you there to take it all in; to experience the culture, food and the people? Why does this place need to be likened to somewhere else?

Back to the Golden City

Maybe we like to compare a new place with the most recent location that we have visited. On a trip to Auckland a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but compare the city to San Francisco. We only returned from our trip to the states in August 2018, so it is relatively fresh in my memory.

We spent quite a bit of time in San Francisco down by the water, exploring the pier and riding bikes over the Golden Gate bridge and through the narrow streets.

In Auckland, we looked out to sea while dining on oysters from a restaurant near the port. The water was relatively still, just as it had been in San Fran.

The ferry to Waiheke Island was not unlike the ferry to Alcatraz, although the destination was indeed different.

Is this something that we only do after reaching a certain level of experience while travelling? I realise I have only recently started diving into my portfolio to compare two cities.

Maybe it is us showing off to ourselves; being proud that we have already been somewhere like this and knowing that upon returning home, we can tell others how this place has similar characteristics to another. It helps paint a picture and allows an understanding for people who have visited one o the places.

Breaky in the Big Apple

On our second day we had breakfast at one of the only places we could find open on a Sunday in the city – and it was such a cool café, with its relaxed vibe.

We walked through a small room with a few tables to an outdoor courtyard with tables and bench seats. We sat ourselves down and looked up – skyscrapers towered over us, visible through the lights which dropped from the roof with a dull yellow glow. There was some rap music playing, and I actually felt like I was in New York City. My bircher muesli took a while to arrive (something about them making it on the spot instead of soaking overnight) but that was fine by me as I sipped my coffee(s) and sat back to take it all in.

To liken to not to liken?

There were at least three instances where I likened Auckland to somewhere else, which I had not expected to do.

I wonder if I’ll feel the need to liken my next holiday to Auckland, or to America as well? After reflecting on this post, I think I’ll just take it as it comes.

The black and white of feedback

Feedback is an important aspect to life. It contributes to our personal and emotional development and allows us to see things from a different perspective.

The other night my mum suggested that sometimes I rely too heavily on people’s feedback, which I thought was a bit harsh and not entirely true.

Sure, it’s great to hear when you are doing well or how you could improve, but it is also likely that you will already have some kind of an idea of what the response will be. You’re either doing well, or you’re not. It seems pretty black and white.

Receiving feedback can be tricky. And you can show your true strength with your reaction.

If the answer is positive, you might nod your head and ask about other areas you can develop. If the answer is not so good, it is the perfect time to ask why.

Use the answer to develop your attitude, your skill set, your humour, whatever it is that has been constructively criticised.

Whatever you do, don’t overthink it. You are as strong as you allow yourself to be and if you let feedback get to you, it may be harmful, if not only to your self-worth, which is actually a pretty important thing.

Imagine going to work every day, sitting opposite your boss and not talking because she suggested you work on your sentence structure when writing reports and you disagreed. Or maybe she suggested that you introduce yourself to external clients in a different way.

How is not asking for more information benefiting you?

Make an effort to understand where these concerns are coming from. You can even give her some feedback of your own if that’s what you need to do!

But maybe you didn’t even ask for the feedback you received. Maybe your friend told you that you were terrible at keeping in touch and that she wasn’t going to even bother anymore. Hopefully you get better at contacting each other and in the meantime, your emotional intelligence is under some pretty extreme development.

The hardest part about receiving feedback can be accepting it. But this is where you can prove people wrong and demonstrate exactly why you aren’t what whoever thinks.

Who really cares though?

We all have it in our human nature to care about what other people think to a certain degree but if you know you are doing the best you can, just keep on doing that and others will learn that you are not going to react.

They will realise that this is who you are and that you’re not going to change because of something that someone else says.

Feedback should be used constructively but there is no need to depend on it, even if you are trying to improve.

As soon as you feel comfortable and proud of what you are doing, you shouldn’t let other people get in the way to tell you otherwise. And if they do; it will be quite obvious to you and everyone around you that they are wrong.

The vivid lens of travel

I love that travel really makes me think.

I’m glad we went to America when we did this year because it helped me see things for what they were. I had a fantastic three weeks away with my favourite travel partner – my husband. Our trip was action packed and we saw so many magnificent things.

On the plane over there I thought about my core values in life. After some time, I came to the conclusion that happiness, honesty and direction are what keep me going. If one of these is lacking, I feel off centre, and spend a large chunk of my time trying to regain my balance. I know that by putting in the effort and going after what I want, they can all be achieved.

In this post I’m going to break these values down and look at how taking time from day to day life to explore somewhere new affected my thought process and overall mood.

Happiness

Traveling generally makes people happy. While traveling, we are constantly learning, challenging ourselves with our surroundings and keeping ourselves busy. We are trying new food, seeing how different cultures interact and opening our minds to somewhere completely new. It is a feeling of freedom that you don’t get at home, because at every corner, there will be something new and untouched. One of my favourite things to do is to try out as many different restaurants as I can because this is the perfect way to get a sense of the culture. And who doesn’t feel happy while eating a tasty local feed? No matter what the cuisine, each suburb, town or country has their own unique flavour that stays with you for a long time.

Honesty

Travel reveals an honesty to both yourself and to your travel companion, and in discovering what is around you. There is nothing more genuine than spending every waking hour (almost) with one person and learning more about them. Finding mutual ground can feel as though it might be a struggle but, this can be avoided by removing all barriers and opening up. We all have our moments, whether we are tired, hungry, cold, hot or confused, sometimes we are not the best version of ourselves. When you have found that travel partner or group that allows you to discover a new world in your own time, is when you have allowed yourself to experience a form of honesty that doesn’t happen at home.

Direction

Traveling makes you think about where you are headed to next. Usually, you go with some sort of a plan about what you want to see, what you want to do, and how you are going to do it. You may also be left considering your direction (or lack of) back at home. What are you doing with your life and how is it helping you achieve our goals? Are you happy? Is there anything immediate you can do to change your situation? Being in a new environment allows for a fresh perspective on something that you may not think about back at home. Are you happy in your current situation? Are you satisfied with the amount of time you spend with your friends and/or family?

These values have become increasingly important to me over the last few years, and I have been able to appreciate them through the vivid lens of travel. Without happiness, there would be no energy to put into my goals. Without honesty there would be no clarity. Without direction there would be no vision.

So think about what is really important to you and how this can be brought out because active thinking can help you in more ways than one.

Whether the best way for you to consider your core values is through travel or something else, I encourage you to find out as soon as you can.

The Alter Ego

I think a lot of us have an alter ego that, when unleashed, allows us to become a different version of ourselves.

If you have a full-time job but always hoped for something different, you may create an alter ego for a persona to develop within your limited space.

Alter egos can be the ideal way to release a new character that you feel is trapped within. To be someone that you’re not usually, to relax, to feel different and have fun.

Your alter ego may do something that you think about all the time but that you don’t feel comfortable actually doing.

I recently read about a famous alter ego in The American Way, on a flight from Las Vegas to New York. ‘Awkwafina’ was someone that I had never heard of before. It was a fantastic article about the alter ego she created for herself to help her get out of an ordinary job and to unleash a creative side of hers.

Some theories suggest that alter egos belong only to those who have a high level of self-worth but who feel that they are not revealing their full potential by only showing the world one side.

Alter egos can be a wonderful outlet for people who are often considered ‘fence sitters’. Alter egos make decisions; alter egos take action.

An alter ego is often created to compensate for someone who thinks they are not outgoing and that they have a wild side that others are yet to learn about and if that ego goes out of control; things have gone too far.

Alter egos can be wild. They can be trouble.

It gets dangerous when it becomes a game of attention. When someone is striving to be noticed, above and beyond the rest, things can get nasty.

The ego is an interesting concept. You never hear of alter egos that are quieter than the individual that concocts them, do you? Because an altered ego only suggests that it is altered to an extreme level of ability.

If you have concocted an alter ego to show the world who you really are, is it really an ‘altered’ version of yourself or is it just you?

If anyone would like to comment, please do and we can figure this one out together!

Life is recycled

Many aspects of our lives have always been recycled and a particular object or building may have a great history, whether it is known to the new owner or not. Other aspects of our recycled culture are new and quite interesting as they present many environmental concerns.

Whether it is homes, cars, clothes, food scraps, jobs or previous partners, there is an emerging need to recycle everything in life.

Some things we recycle have always been that way – they present an undeniable recycling truth.

Take a home for instance. Homes are recycled time and time again and sometimes transformed drastically before the next round of recycling begins.

I am quite comfortable in the house I live in at the moment but when I think of how many people have been happy here before me, I wonder exactly what they loved most, and what they changed to suit themselves better.

Second hand cars make perfect sense. If a car is in good condition but the owner has outgrown it, why not sell it to someone who it suits more?

Recycled clothes are also exciting. Trash or treasure, the fact that these clothes once belonged to someone else may make the new wearer curious about the stories they contain. Did someone outgrow them, get tired of them or have to get rid of them for another reason altogether?

I have gotten better at reducing wastage of clothes and shoes over the years. I try to just buy what I need and make do with what I’ve got.

Minimising food wastage has become a necessary trend in today’s dining scene, and when preparing food at home. Most of us recycle leftover food and many of us use every bit of a vegetable when cooking, including the peel, sprouts and leaves.

Jobs are another interesting element of life that is recycled, especially when the modern workplace is so volatile, and knowledge is readily available.

A person may finish a job that they fitted well, that they had adapted to suit their skills and their life. When the person leaves, and a new person comes along, they will bring new ideas and a slightly different skill set, so the role may be adapted again to suit the new person.

Of course, this doesn’t happen everywhere. Many professions are black and white. It is clear what is expected each day and tasks may be somewhat repetitive. The people encountered on a day to day basis require the same amount of effort and the priorities rarely change.

I am certainly not underestimating the vital role such positions play but I’m not sure I could stay in a job like that for long.

One last topic I want to consider is the recycling of partners. Sure, there are some people who settle down with the first person they meet but most of us have had past relationships. We have all created different memories with another person, shared different jokes and been to different places together.

I think when it comes to recycling, people are the most difficult. Finding someone ideal for a job or finding a new partner or friend will always mean that the replacement has a shadow to fill.

When this shadow is filled, and a similar pattern of behaviours begin to occur, it can be decided if it fits.

People may be the most difficult to recycle, but they are not the biggest problem.

With waste management so topical today, I think it is important for this issue to remain front of mind.

We have it instilled upon us that waste is bad, which is a good mentality to have.

But most of us are guilty of creating unnecessary waste.

The first thing I am going to stop buying is coffee pods. These add up quickly and are not easily recycled and when there are so many other options available, it makes perfect sense to cut them out of my life. But the convenience of popping a coffee pod each morning is what makes me still use them. In minutes I have a delicious cup of short coffee to enjoy with my breakfast.

If we step back and allow ourselves to become slightly less self-absorbed and think about the real issues at stake, we can consciously make an effort to do something about it and reduce (or recycle) waste whenever possible.

That’s it, no more coffee pods for me!

Looking out for new ideas and bright colours

I enjoy so many different aspects to culture, whether it be the most recent art or exhibition, an up and coming hangout, or the best place to grab a bite to eat. It makes me happy that I live in a city like Melbourne, with so much to offer.

Culture is everything that surrounds you at any given point in time. I enjoy watching people and taking in how they dress, walk, what they are doing and what they are talking about. I like to see how they do ‘them’.

As many of you already know, I enjoy attending the odd exhibition. I posted about MoMA at the NGV on my other blog and am looking forward to my next trip to the gallery already. If anyone has any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

I also loooove eating out. Whether it’s a lunch break at work, catching up with friends in the city or going out for dinner in the suburbs with my husband. A city like Melbourne is always alive with its plentiful laneways and never-ending choice of places to dine.

Morning peak hour is one of my favourite times, as everyone is rushing around to do whatever it is they need to do that day, and everyone’s days are so unique.

I try to get a fair distance covered before I reach the office, as walking clears my head and helps prepare me for my workday because, as I’m sure you will appreciate – there is just so much to think about!

But having an active mind and being busy has its upsides. Some people find that keeping themselves busy ensures that they prioritise effectively and don’t dwell on things for excessive periods of time. Our overall happiness often comes down to the way in which we operate when we are busy.

On my way to work, I watch the people I pass and think about what may inspire their lives; what gets them out of bed every day. I like to see the different styles, from bright coats to chic hats to faux fur or platform shoes.

I’m not rushing to judge these people, I just find it interesting. I really just look out for things I like, new ideas and bright colours.

Crazy and adventurous or plain and simple, whatever you prefer.

I also really enjoy my coffee and Melbourne is one of the best cities in the world for people who love coffee. It’s so easy to find a cosy café to sip your favourite beverage in, while staring out of the window, or scrolling through your Twitter feed. It is refreshing to be around others who enjoy the beverage as much as I do.

While Melbourne is smaller than other comparable cities such as New York and London, and even Sydney, the cultural significance that this city has to offer is hard to find elsewhere.

The people, the food and the coffee are aspects of culture that stand out here and continue to ensure this city is still entirely liveable for me and many others.