Welcome to 2013 and 10 new year resolutions

21 01 2013

Happy 2013 everyone!

As is traditional, this is the time of year to make promises to yourself about life improvements to be made. While we all know that they tend fall by the way-side pretty soon after an enthusiastic few weeks in January, lets not focus on that right now!!!

I’ve come up with 10 resolutions for 2013.  I’m hoping that by sharing the resolutions:

  • I will feel a little more committed to them than if they were private resolutions;
  • that there will be offers of support and suggestions to help me succeed from anyone who reads this; and
  • that anyone who might share a resolution listed here tells me and joins me – more chance of success in numbers!

So, with that – here are my 10 resolutions for 2013.

1. More Blogging

I received an email titled “Your 2012 year in blogging” from WordPress on the 31st December.  This was an annual report of blog activity for this site which gave posting stats, visitor stats, comment stats – all that jazz.

My results were pathetic to say the least!! If you’re interested in the report it should be accessible here – you can see if you are one of my two commenters for the year (spoiler alert: if you aren’t one of my parents, you’re not.)

I posted 3 times last year! 3 times?! terrible.  One of the posts was my Singapore 30th Party and two were about Crowd Funded art. Not to say they weren’t good – but in such a big year with so much happening it’s a pretty pathetic attempt at documenting what I’m up to – this blog is supposed to be part-journal, part lazy-way of staying in touch with international friends and family without resorting to cluttering people’s facebook feeds.  Having said that, there has been travel, babies, marriage, music, death and work, work, work in the year and none of it has been reported. I’m sorry!

There are a couple of excuses I use for not blogging.  The first is that I’m busy, really busy! The second is that I typically spend at least 8 hours in front of a computer a day for work and therefore very rarely do I turn on a computer at home, even if it is for leisure reasons. The last excuse is that I like my posts to be well written, well laid out and thoughtful – even if the topic or content is trivial – so writing in a hurry or when tired or distracted doesn’t work so well for me.

But this year I commit to writing more often, blogging as things happen and even trying to write up some of the stuff that happened in 2012 as a sort of penance for my slackness and to get me back into the habit of writing. I really do enjoy the writing process and the writing I do at work is so dry and technical (as is necessary of engineering reports) that it’s nice to have this creative outlet – plus, I LOVE reading other people’s blogs so its nice to be part of that community. In the meantime I’ve added a blogroll of my favorite reads on the right hand side of this blog, so if want to read blogs by my friends or just random ones that I enjoy reading its worth a click through…

2. No More Floordrobe.

hoarder bedroom

This isn’t actually my room – I took this photo from a site discussing upcoming episodes of a TV show on the topic of hoarders – but it might as well be my room.

You wouldn’t know it from my reliably poor fashion choices, but I’m definitely a try something on/critique and assess/discard/try something else before going out kind of girl.  In these manic clothes-trying sessions the discarded clothes land on my bed  and eventually transfer to a nearby available horizontal space, be it a desk, chair or nearby patch of floor. And the cycle repeats until my wardrobe is empty and I can’t navigate through my room between the door and the bed – then a big clean up, dust hayfever for days, mass laundry session and we start all over again.

I recognise the pattern! I know it happens, I don’t like it happening and yet off it goes again…!

This year I’m going to make a conscious effort to avoid this – there are a few techniques I plan to employ – the first and key technique is a MAHOOSIVE culling of clothes, if it doesn’t fit, if its stained, torn or tired looking, if it doesn’t sit right, look right, feel right its out. I have far too many clothes, many with their slight imperfections (which are usually the reason I need to go through the clothes-trying session rather than purely in the name of fashion), and it gets easy to get too messy.  There’s lots of reasons for the number of clothes. A lot of it was accumulated when I did well with weight loss over the past couple of years – there were brands and shops that I had never been able to buy at that all of a sudden I could wear, no longer trapped in an endless cycle of mumus and kaftans – so I went shopping crazy, Forever 21, H&M, Dorothy Perkins, Cotton On, all fashionable but cheap stuff that would already look a little tired after a wash or two – it was Primark all over again! This all feeds into the next resolution…

Aside from disposal of a good chunk of my wardrobe I guess it’s just down to getting it clean and then keeping it that way as I go – no more transferring from bed to other surface, it goes back in the wardrobe or in the wash – time to take a harder line!

Any other tips for a naturally messy person???

3. Quality, not Quantity

This sort of leads on from the previous point as far as material possessions go – but relates to other aspects also I suppose, food, alcohol. Anything really!

I commit to choose quality and not quantity.

Less STUFF, and good stuff. No more false economy of cheap and disposable. Well tailored designer shirt instead of 15 multi-buy tops from H&M. Do you know how many pairs of $10 Rubi ballet flats I have bought this year? It must easily be 10-15 pairs. They break down so quickly. Why didn’t I just buy a proper pair of leather, crafted shoes for that money? so my wardrobe shall consist of only high quality clothes that fit well and will last forever. (Although if I’m thinking designers then resolution #9 becomes even more important – you ever seen a Size 18 Alexander McQueen dress?? didn’t think so)

A really nice bottle of wine or glass or two of scotch instead of like 6 bottles of beer from Aunty Tiger at the VIP tent and a THUMPING headache the next day.

One really nice dinner out vs a whole lot of crappy take-away meals.

That sort of thing.

How to stop the impulse buys? How to focus on this??

4. Embracing the Crafterlife

In 2012 I took up a couple of hobbies as I felt like my life consisted of nothing but work and sleep.  I started attending a dressmaking class at Spotlight with Vivien and LOVED making my own dresses – this was my first dress, Vivien is the timid little lady next to me:

IMG_2265

From there I went on to tackle a jacket, more dresses and an unsuccessful attempt at a pair of trousers.

The lessons gave me such an appreciation for fabric and cut and tailoring of clothing. I spent weeks labouring over my jacket and I can step into H&M and pick one up for like $39. How depressing. I loved the freedom of being able to choose my own shapes and prints too (the 50’s style robot print dress is a real crowd-pleaser). Its something I’d really like to keep going with and learn a bit more on the pattern creating and technique side – for something which is seen as flippant as fashion there is such engineering behind it – like a big flexible puzzle that will move one way or another depending on what material you use and which way you cut across it.

The other craft I was introduced to was knitting. My friend Hannah was working on a knitted gift for a friends baby and invited me over one afternoon to hang out. I didn’t want to feel left out of the whole knitting thing so I bought a ball of wool and some needles and Hannah started me off with a relatively simple but interesting looking cable-knit scarf. While a woollen scarf is not particularly useful in tropical Singapore, another friend was about to set off on an Antarctic adventure – supporting a group who were recreating Shackleton’s last voyage, so it became a gift. (you can track the progress here)

Here’s the scarf:

IMG_2952 IMG_3066

I loved creating these things and gaining such appreciation for commercially available products. I’m already started on my next ambitious project – which I keep messing up, much to Hannah’s frustration because she is my troubleshooter. I’ve loved learning these skills from people too. Having dress-making and knitting taught to me by skilled women I admire, it’s a wonderful thing. I hope to be good enough some day to pass the knowledge along to someone new.

This year I want to make sure I put time aside to work on crafting things I love with my hands. Bringing something unique into the world and bonding with others while I do it. So bring on the Crafternoons, bring on the Sitch’n’Bitch. Bring on both Etsy and Regretsy.  To have things that someone has really toiled over, whether the end result is good, bad or mediocre, is a special thing.

5. Work hard, Play hard

This one is short and sweet. It’s essentially work/life balance.

I’m aware that being single and without children I am pretty much committment free. I don’t need to rush out the door at 5.30pm to tend to anyone else’s need, I don’t have homework to help with, meals to prepare or other such demands on my time and attention.  While this freedom is definitely a good thing I find myself slipping into the idea of ‘well, I don’t have to leave early’ and I’ll take a more relaxed, less urgent approach to things at work – knowing full well that I can stay til whatever time I need to to get something done.

All this really means is that a report which could be done in a very focussed manner between lunchtime and rushing out the door at 6 still gets done, but I’m slower about it and wander out the door at 9 or 10pm.  I get home, go straight to bed, get up, go to work – feel tired and not particularly rested, so take my time in the afternoon knowing that I can stay late to finish off – and the whole thing turns again.

This year I’m trying to make myself leave at a reasonable hour – before 7 if possible.  Giving myself this arbitrary deadline is ideally focussing my efforts so I get the same result but have a few hours after work to myself (for crafting, being a more attentive friend and blogging if these resolutions stick!). Me going home on time should mean I feel more relaxed and ready for work the next day and therefore its easier to be focussed and efficient. I need to adjust the cycle so it works for me.

One of the things that might make it difficult is the tendency for people to be at work for long hours – I know when I do leave at any point before 7pm I feel like I’m skiving off work, being lazy, etc. because everyone else is still at their desks. I know that if I’ve got all I needed to done for the day and have put in good work then I shouldnt feel like this – but I guess its human nature. I don’t want to look like I’m not pulling my share of the load.

So two things – how do you ensure you get the right work/life balance in your life and not give in to that social pressure to stay later? And what are the best ways to really focus at work and avoid distractions. I’ve found writing out my to-do lists has really helped me target what I need to do, but are there any other tips/techniques that work for you?

6. No more Evil thoughts

I’m a cynical jerk.

I actually think this is one of my more interesting personality traits – and to be honest, I find the company of other cynical jerks quite enjoyable. Especially when they get just the right amount of humour/tongue in cheek unnecessary anger in the mix.

But I can be too cynical, too harsh to judge – writing off people if they irritate me slightly, behave like a dick or just generally rub me the wrong way. I can really carry anger at people, or on behalf of friends who may have been slighted. I can carry such levels of dislike. I typically deal with dislike by just avoiding these people and am rarely openly mean to people.  But I know, in this world you have to put up with jerks for the sake of other people who don’t necessarily think they are jerks.

Also – I guess that thinking people are jerks is a waste of energy and emotion, so the resolution is no more energy spent that way. Time to focus on finding the good in people or at least not carrying anger with me for no good reason! Indifference is the new dislike!

But dear friends that I actually really like, stick with me! I’m gonna need your help with this one! Overcoming my natural tendencies to judge and be annoyed at people for no real good reason is gonna be a toughie…

7. Repairing the Communication Breakdown

I’m a crap friend as far as staying in touch. I realised how crappy I am when my Facebook on my phone stopped working at the end of last year.  Without access to the lazy person’s solution to staying in touch I missed all sorts of important stuff in friends lives. Pathetic really. I learned that if facebook packs it in, I wont know whats going on with people who are important to me – and I’m talking good friends here! I shouldnt be completely reliant on facebook – what happened to phonecalls? Skype? Email? Letters…?

This isn’t new, but just cos it’s not new doesn’t mean I shouldnt try to improve so its my resolution to try to keep in touch via mediums outside of facebook – send emails to people, drop a text or a call and call me old-fashioned but I might even attempt to catch up in person!!! Actually  organise to meet for a coffee or a wine.

It’s crazy, but it just might work.

So if I’m being a crappy friend, if I’ve fallen out of touch for too long, feel free to call me out on it so I can rectify the situation. Drop me an email or give me a call so that I pull my finger out. But for the love of God, please don’t ‘poke’ me on facebook!

8. Save, Save, Save!!!

Ever since I bought my flat in Melbourne I’ve had no savings strategy at all. Partly because there was this feeling that owning property was doing the hard work for me and partly because I’ve been on a succession of short term contracts overseas – anywhere between 3 months to a year at a time. These short contracts leave me with the feeling of being in a temporary place, a sort of ongoing ‘holiday mode’ when it comes to money. This idea that ‘I may not be here for long so I need to make the most of it’.

I’ve had that holiday mode attitude for 5 years  now though and having been in full time employment the whole time I have nothing but holiday snaps and probably some liver damage to show for it.

This year I want to try to save some money – live a little more frugally and get a bit together saved in my account.  Whether this money goes onto my mortgage or towards a deposit for a new place or a car or, heaven forbid, just stays there in the bank – I want to try to have a little more discipline

I realise that this may seem to directly contradict some of the above items (i.e. quality, not quantity) but if you think about it, in the long term perhaps I’m better off. I’m sure one of the big wastes of money is the cheap/disposable lifestyle I’m used to. Cheap disposable shoes, clothes, etc. Had I just invested in something well made in the first place perhaps I would have been better off? Also, while I plan to buy better, I plan to buy less – so that should also limit the potential financial damage!

So what is a good savings strategy? What works? do you hide money in another account from yourself? Got a trust fund? A share portfolio? A financial panther? Give me your tips!

9. Bodyshop

Ok, so EVERYONE resolves to lose weight at New Years. But this is more than that – this is full body overhaul

No gyms though – treadmills are dangerous:

Weight loss is a big part of it of course. 12kg have crept back on since my lowest point in April – how pathetic! I’m still 13kg down since the start point, but still – how frustrating to have to back over that same ground again.  I’m doing this by being back at bootcamp 3 times a week. I do my boot camp with Rebel Bootcamp who are fantastic. The instructors are knowledgeable and inspiring – they know when to kick your ass and when to go easier and just gently encourage. They mix up programmes so it’s not like a stale gym routine. The camaraderie of the group is a big thing too – everyone is so encouraging of one another – there is competition and support all at once. I was really blown away by it all, especially being so out of shape and overweight at my first session – I was sure I’d be mocked and run off the field. Its hard work, but it gets easier.  The 6.30am start time is a killer (especially when you are NOT a morning person at the best of times) but once you’re up and out its ok – it also has the benefit of me not really being fully awake until about 7am, at which point I’m already halfway done! Plus its done for the day – my attempts at after work activities are so often thwarted by work and/or social commitments and there is such guilt when I flake out of them.  Finally, having done a session in the morning tends to make me eat a bit better through the day cos I don’t want to blow the hard work. Which brings me to diet…

I’m back on the calorie counting. Damn. Its hard and sometimes depressing – but I found it the best way to control diet and best way to drop weight. I use My Fitness Pal which has a website and phone app. The library is huge so it’s really easy to find the calories to add to your diary to calculate them all. It’s a challenge at first, but doesn’t take long til you know roughly what something will ‘cost’ you in terms of energy and you can make more informed decisions.  Theres a social aspect to My Fitness Pal too where you can connect with friends or random strangers who are on the same journey – if its something you want to try add me as a friend. The support really does help.

So that’s sort of the body aspect – the other bits that need attention are my hair and my skin. So, on with the night/day moisturisers by Shiseido again, and back to the hairdresser – lets cut it all off and start again!! hurray for no hair!

10. Somebody to Love

Ah Queen. I swear there’s a song of theirs for every mood and occasion.  But this one is a doozy – it resonates completely with this humble acoustician’s natural frequency – BONNNNGGGGG!! Particularly this bit:

I work hard every day of my life
I work till I ache my bones
At the end I take home my hard earned pay all on my own -
I get down on my knees
And I start to pray
Till the tears run down from my eyes
Lord – somebody – somebody
Can anybody find me – somebody to love?

Also the bit about having no rhythm in the next verse is kinda true…

Actually, it’s not strictly what I want. I don’t just want somebody to love – I’ve had that, so so many times – I’ve loved and loved and loved.  I am the QUEEN of loving, unfortunately its yet to be reciprocated – no one does unrequited relationships quite as well as I do.

But no more! This year I have a good feeling about life, the universe and everything. Come Dec 31 2013 and I will be ringing in the new year with someone special – it has to happen sometime, right???

So bring on the internet dating, speed dating, blind dating, whatever it takes.  So rack your brains people!


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3 responses

22 01 2013
Mum xx

Yay lauren! I love your blogs and i’m so glad it is one of your goals to continue. You are such an amazing person I am so proud to be your Mum. I especially love that with some self reflection you have not only pinpointed the areas of your life that need redirection but have found or asked for solutions. I really laughed at the treadmill snips -the germanic humour I suppose. With the work finishing time, this needs to be a coffee break discussion with your colleagues as i dare say they feel the same way, if you have been productive during your PAID hours you have done your job and you do need a work/life balance , just ask your Dad!!!
The buying quality over sales and cheap is one I struggle with as i love a bargain and I love variety but if you make a choice not to go into the target/kmart stores and only your fav quality shops youré not tempted also if your dressmaking skills improve your own creations will add the variety.
Good work and stick at it, I support you with all the above, especially finding someone who loves you as you deserve- I’m prepared to organise an arranged marriage if you like!
lol love you Mum xx

23 01 2013
C. Hickman

Loved reading your blog and congratulate you on your desire to face challengers and beat them. This will inspire others as well. I will follow your future blogs with interest and will compete on saving and cleaning out “stuff”. You have proved many times you can do anything you set your mind to, so these resolutions will make this, your year, to shine even brighter than before. Just love yourself ,and all will be good. Love ya Darlin’ Nana xx

29 01 2013
Hannah

What a great post, and I for one thank you for thinking about your blogs and not just flinging them up – something you’re doing that’s already quality over quantity!

Bodyshop and somebody to love I am bewildered with you hon. If you figure it out please let me know! For the others, some food for thought in the form of what I do:

No more floordrobe: Doing it all at once is too much for me. Each weekend pick one drawer or cupboard to tidy, try on and throw out (or to charity if there is life left in it). Carry on for as long as is needed. Be brutal. Get a laundry bin. If you don’t have enough hangers buy more.

Quality not quantity: About 5 years ago, inspired by my sis who convinced me that we should invest in good designers, in good quality and should have beautiful things that make us happy, this was my resolution. Followed about 3 years ago by a resolution to look after my things! From my experience it helps to treat yourself to something amazing first. Something that you love and makes making sacrifices to save up for the next big thing worth it. It’s easier to not but 15 multi-buy tops from H&M when you glance down at your beautiful Givenchy handbag that makes you happy whenever you wear it. I decided to treat myself to one “signature” piece a year. Not having bags of cash I generally do this in the sales. I signed up to net-a-porter and mulberry so I knew when the sales were on or I buy things in airports to avoid tax. This also means you’re investing in the designers themselves – the companies and individuals that are creating design, not than ones who are copying what “so and so” did with the requisite 5 design changes to make it legal. Stick with it – it’s worth it and so are you!!

Craftlife: Your one of my most creative friends and certainly the one who is most committed to learning lots of crafts (something in which you really inspire me!) so I guess this is a matter of carrying on :)

Work/Life balance: Just leave at 6pm. Delete FB from your phone, don’t check your emails and put your headphones on with no music so people don’t interrupt you. It’s insane to be less productive so that you can stay longer to appease your guilt over other peoples workloads/productivity. You’re not helping them by staying. In fact your making it worse in some respects by reinforcing this idea of it being the “norm”. Sure, sometimes we all have to stay late, but just go home otherwise even if all your going to do is watch a movie on the sofa!

No more evil thoughts: Not sure how you’re going to control your thoughts?! We all have evil ones. I figure that if your generally a good person (which you are) and you try to do right by people (which you do) then you can be a bit cynical in your head. Quality not quantity – why would you want friends who irritate you, behave like a dick or generally rub you the wrong way? If your aiming to be able to deal with plonkers without getting annoyed, well I wish I knew. I have a long way to go there! However, I do find that telling myself that they probably don’t realise it so it’s not intentional, and thanking the heavens that I am not the same though am probably as irritating in other ways, helps.

Save, save, save: Make a budget in excel that’s easy to fine tune. Have a separate savings account. Move money in after payday each month – automatically preferably and the same amount each time (until you get a pay rise, then revise). Consistency means you get used to your budget each month and see your savings growing regularly. This is what I do, with the exception of Christmas when I use the amount I would normally save for gifts and my “signature” purchase for the year. I can give you hand with this and with setting up a budget over the w/e if you want? Also did you know that using the Cashome Visa Money transfer at SingPost you can transfer any amount home for S$9. The exchange rate is pretty good too.

I hope this helps with some ideas, see you later!

xxxx

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