Stand up paddle boarding in Sydney

One thing I’ve been meaning to try is stand up paddle boarding. After a few false starts due to bad weather, I finally dragged the BF to the latest ‘it’ activity!  Even I’m surprised that this didn’t end up on my (recently updated) Summer Bucket List.

I have NOT been meaning to show myself in a swimsuit… But this is me 6-7kg lighter than at Christmas, so that’s something to celebrate.  Alas I never got jet skiing/swimsuit photos to share with the world wide web.  Also, I think it’s important to focus on healthy activities, rather than just eating out (which I used to do a lot of).  We’ve also been indoor rock climbing this summer too!

Coming in (with a turn)
Coming in (with a turn)

Seeing I’m as white as driven snow, I opted for less sunscreen and more clothing… At least, until it got too hot, and I went for a swim.

Ok, you can stop taking photos now :)
Ok, you can stop taking photos now 🙂

I didn’t actually fall in – I was blown away that I took to it so easily. Naturally, the BF did fall in, so then he pulled my ankle cord that was floating in the water, and tugged it sufficiently hard to throw me off *hands on hips*

Emulating the advertising on the combi van!
Emulating the advertising on the combi van!

I was wondering if my stand up and kneeling balance was a fluke, so I tried something a little more complex 😉

Oh while I'm showing off!
Oh while I’m showing off!

And now I’m just getting silly!

It was $20 per person for an hour. The second hour was $10. It was cash only, and we didn’t have enough, so had to drive off and return. It’s not the easiest location to get too – a little bit of a bush or water side walk. There is two places you can stand up paddle board in Rose Bay (eastern suburbs of Sydney), and we went to the place I knew from kayaking there in the past (you know… back when stand up paddle boarding wasn’t a ‘thing’). The other location is closer to Rose Bay shops, and very accessible, but I have no idea of their prices.

Would you try stand up paddle boarding?  It’s pretty relaxing on the spectrum of activities, and affordable too!

Japan trip in July

Yummo, titled "Salmon Pink" source: Louise Hawson
Yummo, titled “Salmon Pink”
source: Louise Hawson

My apologies, devoted and committed readers (hahaha), it’s been more than a week since my last confession post.  But to break the silence, I have some VERY exciting news (which I alluded to in comment on declutter)!

All the wonderful photographs are directly from Louise Hawson, and brilliantly talented photographer from Sydney who took her daughter Coco around the world last year, visiting two cities that I will.  I was a diligently follower of her weekly posts, and have enjoyed her books thoroughly (52 Suburbs and 52 Suburbs Around the World).  Seeing you probably don’t know her, please take the time to enjoy her site: 52 Suburb Around the World

For my cat loving readers! Source: Louise Hawson
For my cat loving readers! Titled ‘Ginza Cats’
Source: Louise Hawson

An opportunity came up through the State Emergency Service (SES) which I volunteer for to join another area’s group heading to Japan for two weeks in July.  The other unit has a sister city in Japan.  Plus, there are some pretty interesting and unique challenges that Japan faces regarding emergency management.  The tour will only touch on ’emergency’ stuff on three occasions, and the rest of the time, we will enjoy being tourists complete with a tour guide.

I know I’ve said previously and repeatedly, that I’m not a fan of tours.  However, in livetolist format, here’s why I am joining a tour

  1. My high school Japanese is limited to ‘hi, my name is Sarah, I eat cake’
  2. I don’t have a burning list of things I *must* see and do in Japan
  3. However, I’m generally intrigued by Japan and it’s unique culture
  4. I have a passion for disaster recovery, and hope to move my career in that direction
  5. Opportunities like this don’t come up every day (and when you’re without children/ill parents/huge debt)
Titled: snowmen and Sanat:: 1 source: Louise Hawson
Titled: snowmen and Sanat:: 1
source: Louise Hawson

So here’s a brief summary of locations and activities planned

  • 5 nights in Osaka and/or host city
  • Kyoto Gion Festival
  • 4 nights in Kyoto
  • Bullet train to Hiroshima
  • See a Sumo match
  • Stay in a Ryokan (the traditional Japanese matted room with a futon)
  • Meet a Geisha and chat after watching her dance
  • Visit tsunami region
  • Bullet train to Tokyo
  • 3 nights in Tokyo
  • Visit Disaster Prevention Park
Titled: travel back in time at 300 km an hour Source: Louise Hawson
Titled: travel back in time at 300 km an hour
Source: Louise Hawson

There’s naturally more than this, but these stand out as the ‘cool’ notable items!

I’m so pleased I continue to regularly save money, so that I can say ‘yes’ to things like this without great concern.

Do you want to visit Japan?  Even if you don’t really want to, what’s one things you’d like to see or do whilst you’re there?

What are you hiding behind?


I don’t often post other people’s content, but I loved this TEDx video.  I grew up with this woman as my newsreader, so I wanted to share it with you.

Tracey Spicer strips on stage

When I talked about the cost of being vain, I meant that I REFUSE to spend that much money, let alone time, on grooming.  Sure, the occasional fake tan and waxing for special occasions.  But I like I wear a uniform, which means I don’t need to wear high heels, or constricting bodycon clothes.  I don’t wear make up, or ‘style’ my hair.  I want to appear ready for anything in the field.  Yes, I still carry a handbag, but that’s for stuff…

What are your thoughts on women and appearance?

Weight loss update

It’s week six of the program (I spoke about here), but I didn’t share my end of month 1 results.  I think I was less than happy with the weight loss at week 4, so I held off.  But I’ve met one of my goals this Wednesday, so I’m keen to share!

Here’s my stats

31/12/13 weight: ~78 kg (BMI: 25)
2/2/14 weight: 76.5 kg <—————pre week 1
12/2/14 weight: 74.4 kg (BMI:24)
26/2/14 weight: 73.3kg
13/3/14 weight: 72.0kg !!!

Week 1 – fitness
Time trial to run 1 km: 5 min 27 seconds
Knee push ups: 16
Ab strength (planks) 80 seconds
Wall sit: 1 min 15 sec
Sit and reach: 7 cm

Week 4 – fitness
Improvements on all measures!
Time trial to run 1 km: 5 min 12 seconds (15 seconds faster!)
Knee push ups: 33 (17 more)
Ab strength (planks) 131 seconds (51 seconds more)
Wall sit: 2 min 10 sec (55 seconds more)
Sit and reach: 11 (4cm more)

Week 1 – measurements

Weight: 76.5 kg
Waist measurement: 95 cm (I remember it was 1m late last year)
Chest measurement: 94.5 cm
Widest (waist): 104
Right thigh: 54 cm
Right arm: 30.5 cm

Week 4 – measurements

Weight: 73.3kg (3.2kg lighter!)
Waist measurement: 92 cm (3cm reduction)
Chest measurement: 96 cm (there’s no way my breasts are any bigger?!)
Widest (waist): 102 (2cm better)
Right thigh: 55 cm (1cm bigger – we’ll call that muscle right?)
Right arm: 28 cm (2.5cm smaller)

Definitely more work to be done, but some healthy improvements.  The sculpted abs of the early weeks have hidden back under some warmer, flabbier skin, but hopefully they’ll reappear.  Halfway there!

How are you attempts going to get healthy and maybe lose some weight?

Giving – time and/or money

I read a very interesting post this morning by Emily at Emerging Personal Finance called ‘I’m not going to rob you‘ (you can read my comment too).  It spoke to me as last night, I reflected on my voluntary commitments whilst at the State Emergency Service (SES – like FEMA). On Sunday night I’d felt overwhelmed with what I wanted to achieve after work this week.  That overwhelmed feeling is something I’ve written about here, where I listed all my commitments outside of work.

The 'guys' in orange - I got my gear last night! source:
The ‘guys’ in orange – I got my gear last night!

I have always been reluctant to part with my money, linking to a tight budget when I was student.  Now days, my budget isn’t at all tight, and long term readers will remember that in early 2013 I did set myself the target of spending $100 per week in ‘generosity’ – donating to church, gifts, and general fundraising etc.  I stopped tracking it, but in 2014, set up automated withdrawals to a savings account, so that I create lump sum to draw from at any time.  I use this money to ‘give’ to fundraisers, and my idea is that it will grow and one day sponsor a hospital wing (ok, maybe something a little smaller. The thought is regular contributions + compound interest = BIG lump sum).

Something like this? source:
Something like this?

This post is more or less for me to work through my current motivations and actions.

I prefer to give time over money, but realise that money is valuable too, so I’m ‘stockpiling’ it to use as needed.  I give my time as much as I can.  At the moment, it’s a regular 2+ hours at SES, a variable commitment at church across the rosters and Parish council meeting once a month and the co-op, which I have ignored for the past few months, but now have a project that suits my interest, so need to plough in the hours to get it done.  I feel a little overwhelmed at finding the hours for the co-op, as I also have personal things like the podiatrist, a hair cut and a dental specialist’s appointment all this week.  But it’s ok, I can do it.

I CAN get enough sleep;

I CAN cook healthy meals and maintain my calorie limit;

I CAN work out six times a week and continue to lose weight (weighed in at 72KG!  This was a milestone goal, so I’m rapt, as I also ran 14 mins, which is ‘around the park’ which was also a goal, see more on my weight loss plans here) and

I CAN contribute to my community above and beyond my work.

A giving heart? source: Charlotte James
A giving heart?
source: Charlotte James

I’ve just got to remember it’s all possible. One day at a time.  One step at a time.  These things are important to me.  TV is not.  Relatively, reading and writing on blogs is not. Priorities!

Is it all possible?  Does something have to give?  Do you prefer to give money or time, or both?

Review of my six weeks in management

When I first started this management gig, I was drowning, and if it wasn’t for the comments in this post I’m not sure I would have come to enjoy it!  Then I came back a week later all jazzed up about acting as a manger.  Well, today is the last day in the corner office, with windows on two sides, a door to close and a team to ‘survey’ from my perch.  I’m a pleb’ from next week!

Overall, it’s been a great experience if not frustrating!

Totally not a possibility :( source:
Totally not a possibility 🙁

I feel great when I achieve results – sign off work my staff have completed, go in to bat for them with other managers.  When I resolve the tangle of timing between minimising a bill for a customer against the company’s costs to work overtime, and the safety issues of that overtime being in the dark whilst working on overhead assets.  In the end, in can feel like win/win/win!

I set a target of getting 75 jobs that were more than 3 months since they were completed, financially ‘closed out’ – complete with close out paperwork.  Of the 75, we had a total of 47 close outs submitted, and another handful had the status changed from ‘completed’ to ‘incomplete, in effect bringing the target down from 75.  Whilst we didn’t get it all done, we still shouted the team 17 pizzas.  It really helped develop some peer pressure (in a good way!) to achieve results, and rewarded the hard work.  In the current climate, the carrot was the talk of the town!

It is annoying in some regards to pass the baton on.  I know that the next guy will have to pick up things from halfway, just as I did, and neither of us are enjoying the disjointedness.  Say nothing of all the outside world who has to keep up with the constant shifts in management!

What have I learnt?

  1. A lot of ‘my’ staff try to seem busy, but struggle to complete time sensitive tasks, and then ask for overtime (answer: no)
  2. Whilst a lot of staff’s actions might make them appear ‘dumb’, one on one, every single one of them has the skills.  I know why they were recruited
  3. Make decisions! (so many people ask so many opinions, which just ends up delaying and confusing things).  Know why you made the decision, and be willing to defend it to a point, and concede when better logic/ideas come around.
  4. Write things down.  I’m pretty good at forgetting.  Most days I had a sheet of paper, with phone call notes and a ‘list’ of some sort, either from the day before, or the email inbox I’m trying to resolve.  I date it, and when it’s no longer serving me well enough, it gets added to the stack.  Meetings’ handouts were also dated and put in the pile.  It ended up working well.
  5. File emails in the inbox that don’t require my action.  Create files that make sense (some ended up with 4-8 emails, others many more… not all were worth it, but hey?)
  6. Sort email files by sender or subject (as needed) or date.  Really, before being a manager, I wasn’t getting enough emails for this advice to be relevant or obvious.  I had enough files, and they works, and everything was default sorted by date.
  7. Use the office – shut the door for privacy.  Those who really need you will interrupt (ie above you) or urgent enough to bother you.  Get your head down and power through whatever.  Or make those 10 phone calls and not annoy those who sit nearby.  Ignore what you think they might think!
  8. Offer to help, to do something that will make the roadblock easier/gone.  Amazing the goodwill it can build (and the skepticism and confusion!)
  9. Verbalise each team members goals, but don’t expect them to align with their own motivations.  There’s no harm in sharing the targets, but don’t get worked up when they aren’t met.  Just keep following up (pester power will work eventually)
  10. And when there’s nothing else: there’s chocolate.  With a special thanks to one (female) staff member who whipped it out for me at just the right time.
The only home in the case of madness source: theheartbeatatmyfeet-ca
The only home in the case of madness
source: theheartbeatatmyfeet-ca


Sorry all…

I’ve been absent.

Weekends seem to be devoted to reading MANY blogs on a comfy sofa, grocery shopping, church, and TV absorption (it really does feel rather brainless… I was watching the Australian mini series ‘The Slap’ about the perspectives of 6 people who were at a BBQ where an adult male slapped a 4 year old child).  OH and vacuuming the house and changing the sheets, with a load of a washing.  I kid you not, nothing more really happens!

It’s the last week in this management gig, so that’s good (to go back to one role, and it’s responsibilities, rather than straddling two ineffectively!).  The pizza party incentive was extended by a week, by the other manager.  Whilst we might not have met the target I set, we certainly knocked it out of the park on usual monthly averages, so I can’t really complain!

The exercise for my weight loss program fell off the bandwagon about Wednesday last week.. Maybe Tuesday? I had a sore shoulder on Saturday week ago, and it got worse and worse. I could hardly play water polo on Wednesday night, even if Dad was watching and it was my last game til next Summer.

Mostly, I’ve kept to eating healthily, and where I’ve slipped up, I’ve still tracked all the calories. Still, the app’s promises of weight loss in the ‘next 5 weeks, if every day was like today’ are getting closer to my actual weight. So I better ramp up exercising… but:

Now I’ve hurt my left outer foot/heel. So I’ve booked to see a podiatrist tomorrow evening, and see what’s wrong and how it could be fixed. Add that to three visits to a physio in a one week window, and I’m really making private health work hard!

Right, what else should I check in on?

Holidays!!  The two indecision maker (myself and the BF) finally pushed the ‘buy’ button for a 5 night trip to Cairns, leaving Good Friday.  We’ll get back Wednesday and still have a couple of nights at home before returning to work the following Monday. It’ll be nice to have longer than a weekend’s time at home, and I’ll look into doing a ‘learn to surf’ during that time too.  I’m sure it’ll be cold, but there’ll be wet suits… and maybe hot chocolates… Cause Lent will be over then (starts tomorrow – no more Mochas for me, which might help that weight loss!).

I should say, I really appreciated finding out how you all plan holidays.  I really do want to poll my readers on so many things, as I find it incredibly interesting how different people make decisions!

Hmmm… I think that brings those who are out there up to speed on life of listing!