September 2-20: Oops … sorry about that!

Iiiiiiiii’m baaaaaaack …

It’s been a mental few weeks, and to top it off I had a chest infection which made me cough like a coal miner and sweat like a piggie. But I’ve almost kicked it to the curb, and am ready to, finally, write about what’s been happening.

Once I’ve written it all out, it will feel quite boring, I’m sure! But the best piece of news is …

Drumroll …

As of October 1, I will officially be the Communications and Project Officer for PAGES, an organisation which disseminates scientific data/research/reports on past global (climate) change. This was the interview I had on September 1. I found out I got the job on September 7.

The office is in Bern city, a convenient walk then bus ride away. I’ve actually been working there quite a bit in the past few weeks, doing the handover. The previous employee had her last day on Thursday and will work externally from Norway until the end of the year. This means I won’t be thrown into the fire from the outset, which is wonderful – knowing she will be there to pass on all her knowledge over the next few months is such a relief. There are only five people working for PAGES, so everyone has a wealth of information stored in their heads. Here’s a link to the website if you fancy a read … http://www.pages-igbp.org/

I’ve also been writing the stories for my friend’s magazine, which was great except I was sick, then all of a sudden I didn’t have enough time. One story worked out really well, but I failed to get an interview for another story so had to change the concept a bit, and then – bless – my friend said I didn’t have to do the final story as it wasn’t coming together like I’d hoped and we agreed it wasn’t a story as such anymore.

Plus, I was working at the karate clothing website at the same time too. So it was a busy period. I hope the cough goes away soon; Leo has had an earful of it, and so have I. Juggling three jobs while hacking away was rather unpleasant. Going from minimal work to too much was also a challenge!

The other exciting news is … we’re off to Barcelona for six nights … tonight!! We won’t be going back to Australia at Christmas, because of the new job, so decided to have a quick one-week trip before I start officially. We’d thought about Iceland or the Jurassic (south) coast of England, but the weather didn’t look great, so we opted for sunshine and sangria instead. Really looking forward to eating loads of patatas bravas and maybe even having a swim in the ocean.

Rene lost his driver’s licence so has given me the keys to his car and taken back the keys to the Töffli. I think I actually got the chest infection from riding the Töffli in the early mornings to Maru Dojo, just after it turned cool very quickly. The car isn’t as easy to park as the bike, but it does mean I’m able to do a bit more with four wheels as opposed to two … and it’s dry and warm inside! Thank you, Rene.

So, time to get moving. I’ve packed my silver carry-on suitcase, which has one side empty, with enough for the week and more. See previous packing efforts here, here and here … I’ve taken the black and white heart dress; the black jacket; a (new) pink cardigan; the Japanese print skirt; a pair of mushroom coloured shorts; a pair of jeans; black belt; red, black and (new) pink t-shirts; two singlet tops; two scarves; a (new) denim blue thin poncho; bikini; minimal jewellery; black handbag; spotty green cap; umbrella; sandals; leather sneakers for walking; ballet flats; underwear and socks; mini iPad and iPhone. I’m excited to have these new clothes too!

Wishing you a wonderful week! I’ll write more when I’m back from Barcelona. Adios Amigos!

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My not impressed, sick face

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Flowers Leo bought me when we found out I got the job!

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Liliane’s blooming marvellous roses

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Me feeling happy about my flat tummy

Covered in dirt after doing the mowing

Covered in dirt after doing the mowing

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Lovely clear Sunday walk to the flower field

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Saw a cat in the dying sunflower field

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Leo taking photos in the flower field. We bought pink lilies and some asters

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Funny little pumpkins to buy, for autumnal decorating!

February 27: Five hours of cleaning and 20 minutes of ab work

You read that headline right. Today, I cleaned the neighbour’s house for just over five hours. It shines. It’s spotless. Leo will be disappointed when he comes home because all that cleaning was done somewhere else! Ha!

My back aches a bit from the vacuum cleaner (they have a German Shepherd – lots of hair!) but unlike last month when I decided four hours of cleaning was enough exercise for one day, I wanted to do more.

As predicted, yesterday’s Pilates workout really gave my stomach muscles a hammering. I could feel them all day and cleaning the top of the shower gave them a good stretch. Luckily I haven’t sneezed yet; I think they’d yell “hello!”.

Because my abs feel good, and my tummy feels a little flatter, I thought I’d concentrate on core again with something new – this 20 minute advanced total abs workout from GymRa. I am officially nuts! I should heave read the comments on the video first – this is tough! My abs were cursing me after five minutes, but I made it to the end … and am a bit scared about what tomorrow will be like.

This could be a great addition to anyone’s weekly program. They suggest you do it three times a week on alternate days. You don’t need any equipment, just those abs … and arms and legs. The instructor Christine Khuri has an incredible six-pack stomach – majorly daunting, but impressive at the same time. She looks like someone who takes exercise very seriously.

The GymRa website has a free 30-day trial you might be interested in. You can create your own workouts by adding exercises to a video timeline which is pretty cool. I have no affiliation with this company whatsoever and am just providing this information in case you think it could be beneficial.

After yesterday’s glorious sunshine …

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The sun sets on a beautiful, sunny day

And a homemade treat, with help from Pastora …

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Yummy chicken and Spanish ham croquettes for dinner

It returned to a strange old dark’n’gloomy day today …

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Early morning snow

Speaking of strange, I did something strange today too – I had to pick up a rifle. It was heavy and freaked me out. I doubt it’s loaded, but it was sitting in the neighbour’s house and I had to clean the floor underneath it, so I picked it up … tentatively … and put it back down again straight away. In Switzerland, men from 19 years of age start compulsory military service, which continues until they’re 34. Everyone keeps their gun. So there are a lot of guns in Swiss houses. But, thankfully, minimal gun-related crimes.

On a much lighter note, here’s a field of poppies to give you something nice to think about. It was taken while walking the Camino in Spain, 2011.

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Ahh … that’s better …

Wishing you a wonderful day.

The KonMari Method, with gusto!

The past few days may not have been excellent, exercise-wise, but, wow, have I achieved with the KonMari method! Ha! I can’t believe how exciting it is (yes, I am slightly mad!). Freda from livesimplysimplylive (this link should work now!) has been doing a Friday Fling to declutter her house using The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpThis best-selling book by Marie Kondo, and Freda’s achievements, have inspired me to begin ridding the house of excess stuff (hopefully) once and for all! I say it with gusto! ‘Cause I want it to be so! Aha!

Minimalism is something I’ve been interested in, and semi-practising, for years. Walking The Camino in Spain in June 2011, or “A long walk with a small backpack” as I call it, was one of my first steps to living with less. The idea for that trip formed in January of the same year, when I couldn’t find my grandmother’s tablecloth. Weeks of searching high and low in my two-bedroom rental house resulted in no beloved cloth, but I did come across a whole heap of stuff I didn’t even know I had, had forgotten I had, knew I had but had never used, had no need for anymore and so on and so on and … it was so bloody overwhelming!!

It didn’t take long for a creepy feeling to take over – my belongings owned me instead of me owning my belongings. It was like the house was choking me. The weight of all that stuff was stifling. By Google-searching ‘declutter’, I found Francine Jay’s book The Joy of Less, which I still refer to now and then. Her website is also a regular read. She inspired me to start getting rid of the unnecessary. After several (borrowed) car trips to the Salvation Army, my stuff was still making me feel claustrophobic. Rather than go nuts and give everything away, I decided to leave it all for a while so I could appreciate what I owned upon my return.

The 10-week overseas trip, from June to August 2011, resulted in me moving to Switzerland before the year’s end. On that 900km walk, I met my partner Leo! Meeting somebody wasn’t really part of the plan, so it was all rather a lovely shock. I lost a tablecloth and gained a partner! How’s that for weird?!

My minimalistic adventures continue here too. We live in a small house which restricts what we can bring in – it’s a little slice of heaven. But fast forward three years, and I seem to have acquired enough to no longer consider myself a minimalist. How could that happen? Easily!

The KonMari method says to pile every item of clothing you have on the floor (I chose the bed for ease of access) and when you pick it up, ask yourself, “Does it spark joy?” If you love the item, you keep it, if it gives you nothing back, it’s a goner.

When you see your entire collection of clothes in one place (Kondo says to get everything – coats, hats, undies, gloves, scarves, handbags, you name it), it feels insane. Minimalist? Pfft!

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All my clothing piled on the bed

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All my shoes lined up, ready to be culled!

Previously, I’d separated all my clothes into the four seasons, using the Project333 method, where you wear 33 items of clothing for three months. Until yesterday, winter stuff was in the cupboard, and summer, autumn and spring in three designated drawers, awaiting the seasonal changeover.

Now, with KonMari, I have nearly all my hanging things for all seasons in the cupboard (apart from some summer dresses in a drawer. I don’t own enough hangers and will not be buying more) with belts (in a box), scarves and handbags on the shelf above the rail. In the larger chest of drawers, where the seasonal clothes used to live, are tops and t-shirts etc in the top drawer, jeans and shorts etc in the middle, and my exercise and walking gear in the bottom drawer.

This system has also freed up one drawer in my smaller chest of drawers (where I have underwear, socks, sleepwear, jumpers etc) for all the things that were getting dusty on the chest top or the little shelf beside the bed. Now my hand cream, nail file, hair brush, jewellery boxes and so on are in the top right-hand drawer, and books to read now live on the shelf, instead of the floor (yay!).

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No more clutter on the chest of drawers and almost all the hanging clothes in their place. The garbage bag in the office doorway holds unused shoes

I can’t bring myself to throw away the bag of shoes just yet. I love shoes! If I remember a pair of shoes in that bag after better weather has kicked in, I’ll bring them out. If that bag remains unopened by the end of summer, all seven pairs are going.

Another exciting change is the way the clothes are folded. They’re not stacked on top of each other, like we see in the shops and most of us normally do – they’re laid on their side, so you can see every item easily from the front of the drawer to the back. No longer will there be that forgotten t-shirt at the bottom of the pile! I’m really looking forward to seeing everything I own whenever I open the drawers or cupboard doors. That may stop me from wanting to buy something new, when I’ve seen something like it at home already.

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All my long, short and sleeveless t-shirts, in three rows, lying on their side from front to back

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All my jeans, trousers, shorts and excess summer dresses lying on their side

Would you do the KonMari method? What do you think about the whole idea? A bit over-the-top? Or a great way to only own what you truly love?

Wishing you a wonderful day.