April 3: Minimalism, mindfulness and living intentionally

Judy mentioned the buzz word “mindfulness” in a comment on March 30 and it got me wondering, what exactly is it? Can we put a finger on what makes someone mindful? For me, mindfulness means being present in, and making the most of, the moment. It’s a huge part of being mentally fit. Adding just 10 minutes of meditation each day to my morning routine has helped me with awareness and honing my thoughts. It may not mean the to-do list gets done faster (or written for that matter!) but I do feel more centred and focussed when needed.

There are many great blogs and websites promoting mindfulness in its many forms and I tend to gravitate towards the ones about living, and being happy, with less. Recently I came across this great site www.paris-to-go.com from Ariana Schwarz. I think I binge-read almost everything within a few days.

Part of me would love to be as extreme as she is with her wardrobe, with about 40 items in total, but when I look at the clothes I have, I love them (thanks to Marie Kondo’s method of asking “Does it spark joy?”) and couldn’t imagine parting with so much.

But then I do a 180 again and think how liberating it would be to have everything I own fit into my backpack, and then I flip again and think of all the current variety which allows me to be a chameleon. And as much as I’d love to live with just a few pieces, I love being able to change my look.

Other great blogs and websites I enjoy – about being mindful of our environment, our resources, our consumption, our health, our finances – are listed below. This is in no way a definitive list – there must be so many more out there, but these are the ones I look at regularly.

Living intentionally/Minimalism:

The Tiny House Movement/Living Small:

Conscious consumerism:

Minimalist Fashion:

Travelling Light:

Financial goals:

These are all saved on my phone as my favourites, and wow, when I look at them all lined up like that, I now know where all my time goes every day! Ha! Not everyone posts regularly, so I should set up a system where I get an email when something new comes in, rather than checking on the sites all the time.

So there you have my reading list to do with minimalism, living with less so you appreciate more, living mindfully and trying to make as little impact as possible. I hope it leads you to new resources and ideas if you’re also on an intentional living journey.

Exercise today was 15 minutes on the step machine with the hand weights. I’d just had a shower and slathered myself in moisturiser (I know, all wrong!) and, boy, did I sweat! Leo was cooking tortilla too, so the heat from the kitchen added a few degrees to our warm little house and sweaty little me. It’s still horribly cool, windy and rainy outside.

Pastora and her husband Leandro (Leo and Leo in da house!) arrive soon for an afternoon and evening of painting hard boiled eggs, food, drinks and laughter. And all in German! Very much looking forward to that.

Wishing you a wonderful day. I hope you’re having fun with family and/or friends wherever you are.

March 25: 30 minutes on the step machine

Still no communications at our house, so this will be short, as I’m using my iPhone as a hot spot and dread how much that’s going to cost! But what can you do?! The cable company is coming tomorrow to fix things (hopefully!).

Without a cost-effective Internet (or television) connection, I haven’t been able to search for new workouts. Not happy about that! So today’s fitfor15in15 exercise was 30 minutes on the little step machine with hand weights, looking out the window at the birds in the feeder and listening to As You Wish, the audio book by actor Cary Elwes. The whole experience was totally charming and only slightly sweaty.

In the book, Elwes gives a behind-the-scenes account of his time working on The Princess Bride movie. Have you seen the movie? I think it’s a classic; it has everything! Humour, fighting, fencing, giants, true love, pirates, witches, betrayal … oh the list goes on! It really is one for all the family. And listening to Mr Elwes read his own musings is quite an ear-opening experience – he has one heck of a jolly plummy accent and whatnot, I say old chap!

I took some nice photos in the student quarter of Bern today (will post them when we have wi-fi again) before meeting Claudia for lunch. We had piiiizzzaaahh and it was delicious! Not so good nutritionally but very good for the soul.

Claudia, from Dresden, is one of my former German teachers and has lived in Bern for over 10 years. We’ve continued to meet once a week to talk German for about an hour and then English for about an hour to ‘maintain’ our foreign languages. She’s become a good friend and has been my lunchtime restaurant tour guide in the city too!

Leo’s suffering from shocking hayfever at the moment, poor thing. Birch trees, be damned! My turn comes with the grasses in May/June. Can’t wait for that …

Wishing you a wonderful day, and bring back my Internet please, Mr Fix-It Man!

March 4: Step, step, stepping out

A short post today, because I have something fun planned for tomorrow – silliness with a fitfor15in15 theme, encorporating my love of numbers. I hope you drop in again!

My neck and shoulders were a bit sore from yesterday’s workout, so I took it a bit easier by jumping on the step machine for 30 minutes and indulging my love of a murder mystery with another Miss Marple episode.

For the first 15 minutes, I used the tin cans in a variety of arm lifts and curls. Then for the second half, I did jabs, uppercuts and other boxing punches without the weights. It was enough to work up a decent sweat.

Then I ruined it all by eating three chocolate biscuits with a cup of tea while watching the rest of the show. Argh! They were constantly having tea and cake … it’s like I was brainwashed by their quaintness!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 12: A minimal 15-minute workout

Something odd/off/unwanted decided to make a home in my stomach tonight, so I’m not going to write much. My fitfor15in15 minimum effort involved the little stepper machine … for, surprise surprise, just 15 minutes. I didn’t even have the strength to hold the tins.

Then I ate another handful of M&M Peanuts and now I’m off to bed.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

(Don’t blame the chocolate! I’ll be fine tomorrow – and I’ll do a proper workout!)

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Another wonderful sunrise, followed by a clear and sunny day

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The snow on our roof and around the pool edge is going … going …

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A free range chook on my walk to the bus

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I’m still interested in buying a bike – maybe an electric one so I can ride into the city?

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And the sun sets on another day. Taken from behind the garage

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Looks like pink frosting on a white cake

February 8: The good, the bad and the joyous

Just a short post today – it’s late and I’m ready for bed!

We had a lovely brunch at Sandra and Tom’s house this morning, and I enjoyed pouring over their new house plans. They begin building in April/May. For a while in my mid-teens, I entertained the idea of being an architect, until a cousin’s husband (who is an architect) asked me how much I enjoyed physics, with regards to acoustics and so on. There ended my architectural dreams. The science forces were not strong in this one.

Back home, we hunkered down on the couches to watch the second-last show in our 26-episode set of “Inspector Montalbano” (I’m going to be so sad when it’s finished – we’ll probably have to go back to the beginning and start again, as a weekend won’t be the same without him!) and then ruined the satisfied mood by watching Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “comeback” movie, “The Last Stand”. In an unsuccessful attempt to make it end faster, I did 20 minutes on the step machine with the baked bean tins. My arms feel good, but are still pretty flabby.

So that was Sunday, February 8. This week, it’s time to get stuck back into studying the nutrition course I’ve been neglecting – there’s a lot of catching up to do. I’d like to find two more workouts to add to my morning routine, and read more! Also I’ll write a review of Marie Kondo’s book, which now makes me look at everything and ask “Does it spark joy?” This little beanie, which was on a fruit juice bottle a few weeks ago, now lives on my computer, and every time I look at it I smile. It definitely sparks joy, and may need a friend or two. The beauty of minimalism – isn’t it all in the eye of the eggholder? *groan*

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Seeing this little chap every day really gives me a boost

What’s sparking joy for you at the moment?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

January 30 #2: Stepping out to the tennis

My first ‘workout’ this morning didn’t quite cut the mustard, so I went downstairs and happily donned a new pair of sneakers bought the previous week. The only other sneakers I own were/are still covered in mud and looking pretty grotty from running in the forest. So using some of my Christmas present money from Leo, I splashed out on a half-price pair of sneakers that will never leave the house! No more jumping around barefoot.

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New sneakers good. Urgh.

Stan and Novak were into the second set of the Australian Open semi-final by the time I stood on the little step machine, so with baked bean tins in hand (we ate one of the kidney bean tins in a chilli last weekend!), I cheered them on for 30 minutes. Heart was definitely pumping at the end, but not because of the result. Poor Stan.

Tomorrow marks one month of blogging. It’s been fun making an exercise habit, with you as my witness. I was thinking about tackling the nutrition/food part of this fitfor15in15 project in February, but I think that’s too soon. I’ll slowly phase out bad things throughout the month of February and then start with conviction in March. Eating chocolate will still be on the cards, but maybe I’ll forgo the cheese and beer. Did I just say beer? I must be delusional.

Wishing you a wonderful day, again.

January 20: Indulging an embarrassing passion

I have a secret … a confession … it’s a little bit embarrassing. My partner knows about it, and he’s not happy. He can’t stand it. Well, not it … but her. Her name is Marple … Miss Jane Marple … and every now and then I enjoy watching her on television, solving crimes from the early to mid-1900s in England. Leo would rather eat snails.

So today, as the snow bucketed down all morning …

Snow on clothesline

Quite a difference in 20 hours, from yesterday’s clothesline photo

… fitfor15in15 hunkered down in the lounge room, on the little manual step machine thingy, with a tin of red kidney beans in each hand (chickpeas were upstairs!), engrossed in another Agatha Christie whodunit for one hour. Those 60 minutes passed very quickly, and I worked up a good sweat, then watched the remainder of Ordeal by Innocence from the comfort of the couch.

Ooh I love a good murder mystery, and apparently this was one of Aggie’s two personal favourites. It was disappointing to read the version on tele differed quite a lot to her original book (Miss Marple wasn’t even in it!), so I’ll be searching for that when at the library next.

Have you ever been miffed by adaptations of books for the big or small screens? Sometimes I wonder why they even bothered keeping the book’s title, because the endings, or characters, or plot – anything! – when changed, made it a completely different story.

But back to today … My arms feel sore, my legs and bum a bit tight. Overall it wasn’t too stressful … just like walking in the woods, but warmer … and with tin cans … and Miss Marple being all inquisitive and clever.

The idea behind fitfor15in15 is to do a minimum of 15 minutes exercise per day. For me, that means specific exercise, and not what you’d do in your normal day, such as walking to the bus, doing the gardening, or cleaning the house and so on. Making time for 15 minutes every day forms a habit, one that is hard to talk yourself out of.

If you set a goal to exercise every day, you can’t slack off occasionally and say, “Oh, it’s too cold/I’m too tired/there’s not enough time, I’ll exercise tomorrow.” That’s why I’ve chosen a MINIMUM of 15 minutes per day. Some days you feel like doing more, or have time to do more, and some days you don’t. And on the days you don’t, those little 15 minutes of knee lifts or squats or sit ups or twists – whatever takes your 15-minute fancy – keep the habit going, keep you motivated, and keep you moving.

In 2014, I became quite sloth-like. I was beginning to believe I’d been one in a former life. If it required moving, I’d get it over and done with as quickly as possible and then flop back on the couch. Inactivity was the norm, and that became scary. I’d never been a lazy person before – always on the go and happy to be that way. So for three weeks now, I’ve been moving, and am reaping the benefits already – I had to run the last 100m for the bus today, and made it.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Tomorrow is January 21. I think I’m a convert. And while some days will be good ones, like today with 60 minutes, I know some days I’ll be struggling with 15. But that’s alright, don’t you think? Recognising the struggle will make the ‘victory’ so much sweeter.

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Walking to the bus on the road – the snow’s too deep to take the shortcut through the fields

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Both beanie and jacket hood required today!

January 9: 30 minutes on the little step machine

Well, today I can feel my stomach muscles, thanks to yesterday’s workout! Wowsers. Imagine how sore I’d be if I’d been able to do all the sit ups – and properly!

Outdoor plans went “out the window” with the wind and rain. Here’s a picture … “out the window”. The wind was coming from the north (the photo looks south), and it was cccoooold.

Strong, cold winds and rain prevented the planned walk/jog in the forest

Strong, cold winds and rain prevented the planned walk/jog in the forest

So I settled on dragging out the small stepper I bought about three years ago, when I first arrived in Switzerland, to keep me *ahem* fit. Yes, I used it a handful of times and then it was relegated to the shed. Until today.

Crazily, I thought I’d watch a whole movie while working out – I lasted 30 minutes, and it had nothing to do with the film’s quality. It was an Austrian number from 1955 called “Drei Männer im Schnee”, which deals with mistaken identities. I’ve read the book (in German, hurrah!) and thought it would be a bit of fun. Maybe I’ll watch another 30 minutes on the stepper next week if the weather is bad.

The little stepper who could ...

The little stepper that could …

Yes, that is a sweat trail on my t-shirt after 30 minutes

Yes, that is a sweat trail on my t-shirt after 30 minutes

My arms were feeling a bit sore today too, but I grabbed my beloved chick pea tins to give them another workout. Flabby arms are two things I am really conscious about. In our family, we call them “toodles”, because when we wave goodbye, our arms continue to wobble long after we’ve gone. It’s like they don’t want to stop saying bye.

It’s been a strange day. What with the wind and finishing this damned book, I was in a thoroughly horrid frame of mind. The exercise and silly movie have made me feel much “lighter”, so to speak.

Have you ever had a disagreeable reaction to a book? I felt as disgusted as Bradley Cooper’s character in “Silver Linings Playbook” when he hurled that book out the window! I didn’t fancy breaking the glass here though.

Wishing you a great day.