Life

Life At The Moment

July 21, 2017

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Victoria Beckham Sunglasses and Fendi Sunglasses c/o Smart Buy Glasses

I wonder if I’ve started taking life in the islands for granted. The slow pace, the lack of certainty when it comes to the days activities. The sips of Rosé  at 11am. Making a largely Dunedin-based wardrobe work in muggy 27 degree sun, rain and wind. Our time, and money, spent largely on food and togetherness. A minimal wardrobe refreshed simply and quickly and dark circles and tired eyes hidden with a rotation of two beautiful designer sunglasses that have been perfect for this trip. A little boy who hasn’t slept the whole night through since we arrived almost two months ago. Though in all honesty I wouldn’t have been able to sleep the night through either – there are people to talk to, scrabble battles to be engaged in, and did I mention the mugginess to contend with? Our bodies are tired, our minds foggy but our hearts never fuller. Our time here is almost at an end. The bags will be packed slowly, the tides of sadness of leaving and the excitement of being back in Dunedin will ebb and flow, and new adventures planned. But right now, it’s 10.34am and there’s a bottle of Moscato in my dad’s collection that needs to go in the fridge.

Story For White Magazine

July 12, 2017

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“In being gentle and true to myself about how I really felt about my marriage and partner, I opened myself to a journey of true discovery.”

photo Kama Catch Me 

I have followed White Magazine on Instagram and on their blog for over a year now, perhaps even two years. I can’t tell you of the excitement and fear, in very unequal parts – tipped in favor of the latter, that I felt when I was asked to contribute a piece for their current issue around the theme of “conscious”. The magazine has the most captivating mantra, “a marriage as beautiful as your wedding day”. I couldn’t have thought of a more fitting issue, or publication to write for. I wrote a piece titled A Life of Intention.

Patrick and I by no means have the perfect relationship. We simply try to build on our relationship, and create a relationship that’s better than yesterday and one that has room to grow and be even better tomorrow. I don’t want to take too much of your time by writing too much here, but it would mean the world to me if you wanted to have a read of the full piece, available here. I feel like it’s a humble piece, not one with a lot of airs about it, but one that I got vulnerable writing and sharing.

 

Philanthropy During Your Fiji Holiday

June 26, 2017

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One of the most common questions travelers to Fiji ask me is, ‘what can I take or do to help people in Fiji?’ Often this is from parents who want to have their children engage with local children and gain an understanding of the Fijian schooling system. Many individuals just want a chance to experience life in Fiji and develop an appreciation for the issues faced by citizens daily. Here are some suggestions for individuals or families looking to become involved in communities around the country during their stay.

Check with Your Hotel
Many hotels have ongoing community projects with local villages. In most cases, hotel staff are residents of nearby visits and visits to the community, or schools can easily be arranged directly through the hotel. Those who have opted to try this have had the best results when setting up the visit once they have arrived in the country. In this way, a community visit can be scheduled on a day where other plans get cancelled due to poor weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Some hotels engage in educational projects, environmental ones or health-related projects, all based on the location of the community and the most urgent needs.

Libraries
A visit to the local library will give you a good sense of the importance placed on education and learning in Fiji. While many libraries are inadequately resourced, they are brimming with vibrant hope. There are over 900 libraries in Fiji. I suggest libraries because you (and your family) might have the opportunity to engage in afterschool or holiday programs (where they exist). There is also scope to offer your story reading services or lead a craft or musical activity. Libraries are also a good place to donate. Many libraries use the donations to give children, who otherwise cannot afford the minimal membership fees, the chance to become members.

If you are interested in donating books I would consider newer titles. Browse through the shelves of many of these libraries and you will notice the absence of the current reference books, the latest pop culture titles, or new titles in general. Too often it is ex-library books from the developed world that gets sent to developing countries. While books of any nature are an asset, it is rather unfortunate for children, and adults for that matter, to miss the Harry Potter series for instance!

Hand Over Your Cash – In-Flight
If you fly Fiji Airways this is an option available to you. Fiji Airways In-flight Cash for Kids program was developed by the airlines cabin crew and helps fund the Fiji Airways charity, Wings of Hope. The program collects unused foreign coins (or notes) from on-board guests which become part of the funding for Wings of Hope. Since becoming aware of the program I have collected foreign currency from all our travels that seem to find themselves all over our home and put them in our travel cases, ready to hand over to the cabin crew. A few Wings of Hope projects have included buses for special education, water sanitation in schools and scholarships. If you do have your currency ready but miss the collection, or do not hear the announcement for it, simply hand it over to a crew member.

Ask and Listen
I find it hardest to calm the excitement and good intentions of visitors who want to fix everything. One of the best things you can do in a new country, and to truly understand the developmental issues is to talk to the locals. Ask them questions, listen to their stories – and truly listen. Local communities often have traditional ways of addressing problems and utilizing this local knowledge will help create sustainable solutions.

Is engaging with local communities important to you when you travel? 

Keeping Good Company

May 3, 2017

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This year has been game changing on the relationship front. I have let go of so many relationships that just weren’t bringing happiness or value to my life. So many relationships that I hung on to, to avoid hurting people and to keep the peace. All this did was take away precious time that I could better spend with people whose presence in my life I truly valued. Maintaining relationships I didn’t want to also took so much mental effort on my part – convincing myself to get in touch, invite these people around, organising get-togethers. Looking at myself to see what else I could do to help the relationship along. It was a chore that greatly distracted from the positivity and joy I felt when surrounded by closer friends and family.

It had to stop. Instead of trying one more time to see if things were different and instead of hoping others would at least attempt to invest in the relationship I simply stopped. I stopped calling, messaging and inviting. There was no big fallout with any of these people. No quarrel. I see a few now and again, and I acknowledge them, say hello. Have a conversation but no longer add “we should catch up”. I don’t mean it. I don’t particularly want to. And the curious thing is, none of these people actually tried to bridge the silence. Perhaps my friendship was no longer bringing them happiness or value. And that is absolutely fine.

I’m a firm believer that people enter our lives for a variety of reasons. Some stay in your lives forever. Others are there for shorter periods of time. To teach you a lesson, to learn from you, to help you through a phase, to give you an opportunity to help them on their feet and so on. Perhaps there’s a season for different people in your life. There certainly is no malice, no ill-feeling. Our relationships have just run their course. Instead of holding on and feeling taken for granted and feeling resentful over the nature of what the relationship has become, just let go.

Have a conversation with the person if you need to. I tried this with a few people and as much as I tried the conversations never moved beyond the surface. I just created distance. If they messaged (which they didn’t) I would have replied. But simply stopping the “we should catch up” and feeling like you needed to invite everyone to everything you put together had to stop. Especially with the inviting people to our home (which I’ve written about here).

And what remains? Very little. Little frustration. Little stress. And lots of time to nurture and foster relationships. Just this past weekend we had new friends come home for dinner. We had hilarious and serious conversations (different conversations). We saw what we had in common and respected the inevitable differences. On Sunday we had old friends come home. Friends we hadn’t seen in 10 months even though they live 10 minutes away. So distracted was I with other relationships that I hadn’t had the time to continue to nurture the ones that always brought us so much joy. So distracted was I that I failed to realise the wonderful people right there who wanted the opportunity to gather and grow, together. So distracted was I with what I could and should do better, or what I might be doing wrong that I didn’t stop for a moment to think…hey…it might not be me.

 

A Day In The Life

April 27, 2017

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This was a non-work day for me and a day on which I had cancelled our plans in favor of some quiet at home time.

24.4.2017

5.55am I wake up (naturally, without an alarm clock!). Couple time.
6.15am I hear Rafa wake up, I’m in bed reading.
6.30am Get out of bed to get Rafa. He has a feed. Get him dressed.
6.52am Patrick hands me a hot chocolate, made the way I like it, on the stove top. Patrick finishes making Rafa’s porridge.
7am We’re all at the table for breakfast (all having porridge with puffed amaranth. Patrick and I have banana, Rafa is over bananas).
7.20am Rafa excused from the table. Patrick and I sit for a few more minutes and go through our day.
7.30am I go and have a shower and get ready.
7.47am I’m ready. Patrick goes to shower and gets ready. Rafa plays around me while I take some photos for Instagram and the blog. We read two story books. Rafa’s walking around with my old iPhone with the music playing. I edit some photos on my phone. 8.30am Patrick leaves for work. We carry on as we were.
8.45am – 8.55am Breastfeeding. Drawing with Rafa.
9.15am Vacuum the lounge – just a quick 5 minute vacuum. We color, sing, dance and read. I read for a while and Rafa reads around me. Change his nappy.
11.15am – 11.25am I get the dough ready to make rotis later. Cuddles with Rafa.
11.55am Get Rafa ready to nap.
12pm Rafa’s asleep. I start rolling out the roti and cooking them.
12.45pm I hear Rafa. I’m almost done making the roti so I leave him in his cot.
1pm I finish the roti. Breastfeed Rafa.
1.15pm We both sit at the table and have lunch together.
1.45pm I read and Rafa plays.
2.10pm Breastfeeding. Again. Rafa has been feeding quite often lately.
2.18pm Attempting to change Rafa’s nappy. He doesn’t keep still.
2.26pm F
inally! A fresh nappy on Rafa. We go for a walk.
3pm – 4.30pm I swear all I did was constantly feed him in between trying to distract him from feeding.
4.30pm Exhausted from the constant feeding, I decide it’s an early dinner for Rafa boy.
4.45pm Patrick’s home. He sits with Rafa and I at the table, snacking and talking. We then have a little play.
5.30pm Patrick gives Rafa a bath and then we have some wind down time together.
6pm Rafa’s in bed. Patrick and I are chatting on the sofa. We have an early dinner.
7.15pm I leave for my yoga nidra class.
7.30pm – 8.30pm Yoga nidra.
8.49pm I get home, drink a big bottle of water and flop onto the couch with Patrick who is reading.
9.30pm I’m bed bed reading. I’m sure I’m asleep by 10pm.

Previous A Day In The Life posts here.

Three Months In Books

April 26, 2017

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A book a week. Some weeks I manage two books. Other weeks I manage none but I’m reading every day. That is my answer when I’m asked how I read this much. Just a few pages whenever I can. Most of my reading gets done at night. For the past three weeks I’ve made it a point to stop working, cooking, cleaning, pottering around by 8.30pm and I head off to bed.

The days are getting shorter. The light fades and the temperatures drop. Retiring to the calm and luxury of my bedroom at 8.30pm has been a lot easier to do then I initially thought. Once in bed I bury my head in a book and there I remain until sleep naturally comes.

Of the seventeen books I’ve read so far this year, I thought I’d share some of my favorites. Three in particular have stood out. My fascination for recipe books continue, I particularly enjoyed 26 Grains by Alex Hely-Hutchinson. The initial few pages on the variety of grains and their uses, preparation techniques and nutritional value were most helpful. I also really appreciated how flexible the recipes were, especially those that built on each other for instance, recipes for making pancakes or a loaf out of leftover porridge! A revelation for an often time poor mumma.

It’s also no secret that I’m at the very infant stages of my minimalist journey. Last year I bought the Marie Kondo book, and in retrospect, it was quite a let down. I suppose because in large part she address how to organise your belongings rather than getting to the heart of ownership and consumption. Everything That Remains by The Minimalists was better fit for me. It looked at why we consume and why we need to look closely at what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Everything That Remains is more a ‘why to’ book rather than a ‘how to’ book. It challenged me in so many ways and has made me ask a lot of questions about the things and people in my life.

If you’re looking for a more ‘how to’ book but found that the Kondo method wasn’t for you, you might like to look into The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay. Jay struck a better balance in her approach to organizing. Where Kondo was largely emotionally driven, Jay’s work integrates rational thought and emotion in dealing with clutter.

Have you read anything particularly noteworthy this year? 
Are you still on track with your reading goals? 

Full list of books read so far (below):

Read

What Self-Care Really Costs And How To Afford It

February 23, 2017

Recent online and in real life conversations wandered into the realm of self-care. As a new mum (though I’m not sure 11 months counts as new any more)  self-care is something I think about a lot. I talk about it a lot. But I don’t do it enough. Why is that? Often it’s just not having the time and space to be able to take care of myself. Especially when Rafa was younger and needed me, and I needed him. Patrick also pointed out a few weeks ago that as a couple we’re really good at looking after each other, but we need to become better at looking after ourselves. Such wise words. I’ve slowly found ways and things to do to look after myself. Two yoga classes a week. A massage with a physiotherapist once a month. Short exercise sets a few times a day.

This is what self-care looks like for me, and I realised that the real cost of self-care for me is literal – it’s a financial cost. Time and space I can make happen. Patrick and I have been doing it for 11 months. What I’ve never really considered was the financial cost to self-care. There have been times where I’ve thought ‘oh wouldn’t that be nice’ but the cost of the activity ends the thought rather quickly. Something I really want to do for myself is attend a yoga retreat and I’ve been looking at The Paradise Guide Yoga Retreats to Sri Lanka for almost three years now. And this year I’ve committed to making it happen. Thinking about self-care generally and about self-care in relation to a trip like this really opened my eyes to the importance of planning and investing in self-care the way you would anything else.

To really demonstrate my learning, I’ll give you examples.

Notice trends. The Paradise Retreat takes place a few times a year (there are four this year, the first beginning in April). I know this because I’ve been looking at them for three years. Dates for the year are announced early in the year AND they usually announce their early bird special at this time. The early bird offer is usually $200 off the price of the retreat and often includes some extra freebie. The catch is, you need to book then for any of the dates, even if your preferred date is in December.

Ask questions. Some of you might hesitate from emailing and asking questions in February 2017 about something you are thinking about doing in 2018. Don’t. Register your interest. Ask your questions so that you’re better informed. I reached out to the company to confirm the above ‘trends’ I noticed (ie Are you sure you always offer the early bird specials in the beginning of the year?) and I outright asked about how much additional money they would encourage participants to bring. I haven’t been to Sri Lanka, I don’t know. Ask your questions.

Do the math. The yoga retreat I’m looking at with The Paradise Retreat is AU$1750 for a solo en-suite (and they’re great about putting their prices and inclusions up front, it’s all available on their website). Airfares from New Zealand are likely to cost me NZ$2300. Now, just those two figures alone are confronting aren’t they? But I’ve got a whole year, possibly even longer to afford a trip like this (in terms of time, space and finances). Also, based on the above (asking questions) I found out that AU$300 is roughly enough spending money for the retreat, massages cost about US$40 and you can fly from Australia for as little as AU$850. Good to know.

Invest in it. The biggest lesson for me, regardless of what self-care looks like for you or needs to be for you, was that you need to invest in it financially. A yoga class a few times a week needs to be paid for, or someone to mind the children or the dog, an especially creative knitting class that costs $200 won’t seem as confronting if you have a little pool of resources to draw from.

Make it known. There’s nothing like some public accountability to really get you focused. You don’t need to tell the whole world, but letting a few people know your intentions will really help keep you motivated. You’ll have a little support group encouraging you along.

Often there’s very little we can do about some barriers to self-care but when it comes to financially affording some soulful me-time, that’s an area that you have some control over. So go on, start a little self-care fund for yourself – even if it’s a massage or a truly decadent hot chocolate once a week. And if you’ve got any interest in The Paradise Retreat at all, they’ve been kind enough to offer my community 10% off until the end of February with the code VANISHA10. See you in Sri Lanka?

*While I’ve mentioned The Paradise Guide and The Paradise Retreat in this post, this is not a sponsored post. The discount code was a nice gesture that was offered by the company for my community. Please feel free to use the code, I do not make a commission from it.

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