I’m back!

Hi guys, I’m really sorry for the long absence, but a lot has been going on this past month.

The biggest thing? I lost my job. I worked for a small non-profit and they weren’t in a place where they could properly adapt my position to help me through my health crisis. They were generous and gave me a few extra months of pay to try and help out, but it was a pretty emotional thing. I was stressed about the future but also so… relieved. Full-time was such a struggle and when I do go back to work I know it will have to be on a part time basis. My body won’t allow anything else. Luckily Patrick has been super supportive and agrees that focusing on my health is the best thing for me to do right now. Job hunting can wait a little while.

Another big thing? I finally got in to see a rheumatologist after months of waiting for an appointment and she doesn’t agree with my GP’s theory about my having fibromyalgia.

She thinks I have Multiple Sclerosis.

She called the hospital and requested an urgent MRI, which I’ll be getting on the 18th. And I’m now booked in to see a neurologist after that. Which brings my total number of doctors up to 4 – I’m feeling popular!

Suffice to say, there has been a lot on my mind and I just haven’t had the headspace to write. I’m trying to get back into it. I’ll admit I’ve been moping for the most part the past few weeks. But I’m tired of feeling unproductive.

I’ve also started writing a serial fiction on Patreon which is a modern retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth (I’m a huuuuuge mythology geek). It feels good to get into a creative place after feeling so blocked. I also hope that I can drum up enough interest to earn some extra cash through it as well.

So that’s what has been happening. Sorry again for going MIA.

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Battle of the Books: Scribd Vs Kindle Unlimited

As some of you may know, I recently culled my collection of books. I’m still an avid reader, so I have to keep on top of things to prevent being overrun by my paperback pals in future (seriously, I moved house in February and most of my boxes were filled with books). While my Kindle and new library membership helps, I also wanted to test out reading subscription services. I’m a fan of subscription services, why not see how it could revolutionise my reading?
After some research I came up with two options: Scribd and Kindle Unlimited and I tried both for a month (yay free trials) to see how they compared in terms of price, variety and quality of reading material. Read on to see what I found.

Kindle Unlimited

AUD $13.99

Amazon is really upping its subscription game between Audible, Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service works similar to a library. You ‘borrow’ up to ten titles at a given time and they are removed from your kindle library at month’s end. Kindle Unlimited also has the option of free Audible narration where applicable. This would be an amazing feature if more of these books came with that option. Honestly, I didn’t see it come up at all in any the books I looked at, which ruins what could have been a big selling point.
Despite the price tag, which rivals the old Netflix fee, the variety is sub-par. Despite advertising over a million titles, you won’t have access to fresh publications from your favourite authors, or even older ones – it’s Amazon exclusives only. That said, there are some hidden indie gems to be found, if one can be bothered to look. The risk is wading through a number of disappointing reads to find it. Amazon seemed to have saved the best titles for purchase.
The best books I stumbled across were nonfiction reads, which aren’t my usual are of interest. However, they were shorter than most books and I could finish them within an hour. There’s also a selection of magazines and newspapers to borrow, should that tickle your fancy.

By and large, the quality of books was disappointing and before the month was even close to finishing, I cancelled by subscription.

Scribd

AUD $8.99

I accessed Scribd through the app. You can read online or save titles to your device for offline access. It isn’t as pleasant to read off a phone or tablet as it is my Kindle, but that’s pretty minor as cons go. Scribs takes another hit in terms of number of titles. Kindle Unlimited is, as it states, unlimited in terms of access to titles, whereas Scribd lets you have three books and one audiobook per month. Still, that is plenty of reading material as these are full-length novels and likely longer than the Kindle Unlimited titles. Besides, i found that if I ran out of books to read I could pad things out with a library book. It isn’t unlimited, but I value quality of quantity where books are concerned.

Scribd uses a credit system like Audible, and you can accumulate up to 3 audibook credits and 9 book credits without spending them. If you’ve used your credits but are hankering for a particular read and can’t wait for more credits, you can purchase them. This will set you back about $12.99AUD.

Unlike Kindle Unlimited, you don’t have to return the books you redeem. You can keep them for as long as you’re a member (though, rarely, some titles have to be removed for legal reasons). There are also newspapers, magazines and free documents (including sheet music) taht you can access for free. There are a few permanently free titles and Scribd also has monthly selected titles that you can access for the month without spending your credits. I’v had the luck of accessing a book i had always wanted to read as part of the August Selects, so there are some good books to be found there.

While you do have fewer options to read each month, the variety of material is a big plus for Scribd. They have popular titles and classics available. Some titles have been published as recently as June this year and I’ve spied a few of my favourite authors. There are entire series available (I am currently working my way through the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik). While you have a few titles that are more obscure, there are plenty of hits to choose from (and, as I said, there are some indie gems out there). Like you would with a Kindle book, Scribd allows you to read a bit before commiting your credits, meaning you aren’t likely to get saddled with a bad read.

Another bonus is that, if you share a personalised link with a friend and they sign up, you both get sixty days free.

The Verdict

I think it’s pretty obvious who I think wins this match. Scribd is five dollars cheaper and offers better quality titles that you don’t have to return. Kindle Unlimited has a long way to go before I would consider it worth the price. NAmely, they need to broaden their selection and add some non-Amazon titles to the service. Yes, you have less to read with Scribd, but four titles a month (plus a free selection) is not a bad offer. I quickly ditched Kindle Unlimited, but I will be keeping Scribd for the forseeable future.

If you’re interested in giving Scribd a try, head over to my contact page and let me know. I’ll send you my link so we can both enjoy sixty days of free reads! Let me know in the comments if you’ve had any experince with these services, or let me know any books you’ve read lately that you would recommend!

Disclaimer: This post is 100% my own opinion and I have not recieved any renumeration. I just really think Scribd is better.

Book Review: Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner

Ask a bird how to fly, and it might tell you to remove the weight from your wings

– Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

I can’t remember where I first heard about Erin’s book. It might have been a podcast or a blog. The title stuck in my mind. Chasing Slow. I liked the notion. After all, am I not in pursuit of a simpler lifestyle?

It was not what I expected. When I cracked the spine, I thought I would find a how-to guide. Tips and inspiration for slowing down, simplifying, savouring life instead of charging ahead with blinders on. I did find tips and I did find inspiration, but not in the way I had thought.

Chasing Slow is at it’s heart a memoir, the recollection of a struggle and a journey. Erin doesn’t claim to have her shit together – she is upfront about the fact that she doesn’t. She finds slow, and then lets it slip through her fingers as she is lured by want of more. She stumbles and falters and fails and is unflinchingly honest about it all.

Erin made herself a household name through her blog. Her sense of style and creative eye had her recieve countless opportunities and accolades. She was one of the first to beta Pinterest. Such sucess is hard to resist – I don’t know that I could – and sometimes, often, Erin doesn’t. I find this so refreshing. While I love The Minimalists, they look like they’re established minimalists. A finished product. But I’m not, and neither is Erin. Neither is anyone. There is something novel about the admission that we are going to screw up. We are going to buy things we don’t need and overspend and forget our values. It is hard not to want more. It is hard to keep your foot on the brakes when everyone around you is pumping the gas. Pedal to the metal.

I have friends with their own businesses, their own homes. They have wedding bands on their fingers and babies in their arms. I see it on Facebook and Instagram and I look around and feel disatisfied. Happy for them, but upset with myself. I likely won’t have a big career and the jury (or doctor) is out on whether kids is a good idea for me. It meant something to read that Erin, as successful as she is, felt the same thing.

Erin opens up about her husband’s terminal diagnosis, her own struggle with panic attacks. She doesn’t back away from her failures and faults, despite aditting how much she desires to control. She suffers from impulse buying and imposter syndrome. This isn’t Erin with an instagram filter. She is unfiltered and human.

While the bible verses grated on my agnosticism a bit, I envy her faith because she finds so much value in it.

The book reads more like a confession than a sermon. Erin is talking to you, not at you, like a lot of these books seem to.

It reads easily, though some of the metaphors are a bit heavy-handed for my tastes. Repitition is a key part of Erin’s style. But it’s a matter of taste. I devoured the book within a day and found value in it.

While it didn’t teach me how to chase slow, Chasing Slow did teach me that it is an endless process. It is a meandering journey. It is ok to fumble and fall and veer off the path to simpler living. As long as you dust yourself off, readjust your course and, more importantly, forgive yourself. There is no such thing as perfection. They key is to not let chasing slow be about perfection. It is about you. What is best for you.

If you find yourself stalling or stressed, I recommend picking up Chasing Slow. It wasn’t what i expected, but I think it’s probably a bit of what I needed.

Quick update

Hi friends.

I’m sorry I haven’t been very active the past two weeks. It’s flu season here in Sydney and I came down with a really bad case and I’m only just on the up-tick. I’m going to get back to posting this week. Some of the posts in the works include ways to minimise beyond your belongings, some essentials I can’t live without, a look into waste-free living and maybe a recipe or two! I hope you guys will enjoy it. Stay tuned!

My Morning Ritual

I like the word ‘ritual’ more than ‘routine’. To me, a routine sounds dull, monotonous. Mechanical. A routine is intentional, as minimalism is intentional. It is something I have crafted for myself to give myself a good start to the day.

To be perfectly honest with you guys. I am not a morning person. I’m not even an afternoon person. My chronotype is a bear, meaning I crave sleep and am most productive mid-morning. I have trouble getting up and am pretty eager to climb back under the duvet at the end of the day. In the mornings, I more or less resemble this:

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Suffice to say, mornings are rough for me. So I take them slow. My alarm goes off at about 5:30.

Yes. 5:30. While I need sleep, it’s about quality over quantity and oversleeping can damage the quality of sleep you have at night. The early wake-up ensures I get enough z’s but have time for an easygoing morning. That said, I don’t get up straight away. I like to have a leisurely stretch because my muscles will be tight and tender. I’ll start on the glass of water I leave beside the bed. After 15 minutes or so, I get myself up. Patrick is a night owl, so he’ll still be sleeping.

I’ll stick in some earphones and listen to a podcast or some upbeat music while I wash my face and brush my teeth. It helps to wake me up. Next I’ll do a yoga video (Yoga With Adriene on YouTube is my favourite) followed by some guided meditation on Headspace. Keeping calm is central to my health and gentle stretching is great for my body so I try and do both. Even if it’s just ten minutes apiece. Afterwards, it’s time to make breakfast. My current breakfast obsession is ‘cinnamon toast breakfast quinoa‘ by Cookie and Kate. I like to top it off with some chia seeds and blueberries. I make enough for two and try and coax Patrick out of bed to eat. If not, it goes in the fridge for later. I like it when he gets up, though. A few minutes with a loved one is a great way to start the day.

I’ll make up a mug of cold brew coffee to have with it and only then do I allow myself to check my phone if Patrick is still sleeping. Usually it’s to check out the headlines on my Flipboard app.

After breakfast, I get dressed. I have a shower and pick what I’m wearing the night before so it’s a snap to get ready. My makeup is pretty minimal because my medication makes my skin pretty acne-prone. Just some concealer under my eyes, some tinted moisturiser and brow filler and I am done. Then I usually have time to have a quick play with my cat, Leo, before it’s time to kiss my boys goodbye and head out the door.
How do you like to start your day? Let me know your favourite morning rituals in the comments.

You Look Fine

My legs are all wrong today. Flimsy and weak as if, instead of bone and muscle and sinew they are made of paperclips and rubber bands. 

They tremble under my weight so that I feel like I’m about to collapse at any moment. At the same time they feel taught, tied up too tightly. So tense it hurts. It hurts all the time. I massage them, stretch them and it only hurts more. 

“You look fine.”

It’s only one of the many symptoms, the many glitches of my body screaming sick sick SICK. 

It’s only one. But it’s the one that makes me feel the least in control of my body. 

The legs that dances and jumped and kicked and ran. Powerful legs that once won me medals reduced to crumbling foundations.

If I can barely walk, what else will this take from me?

Your hands, my body replies.

Hands once splattered with paint and ink, sticky with fresh cookie dough. Eclipsed with pain and plagued by constant trembling.

I am full of words, frothing at the mouth with language eager to run out of me. I can hardly hold my pen. The letters I try and form look foreign to me now.

“You look fine,” they say. The surface of my skin unmarred and masking the chaos of nerves and pain and sickness. 

“You look fine.” I carefully monitor what I eat. No sugar. No heavy oils. No gluten. No soy. No coffee. Jesus Christ no coffee. No coffee despite needing at least nine hours of sleep and still waking up exhausted. Eat clean. Reduce inflammation. Don’t fuel the fire.

“You look fine.” I count out the sevdn tablets I take every morning. Hormones. Stomach. Antidepressants. Anti-inflammatories. Vitamins vitamin vitamins. I eat so well but my body burns it up, my blood churns it out. Cries for more.

“You look fine.” I’m in the bathroom, aware it’s the second time in less than an hour I’ve had to step away from my desk. Did they notice? Are they counting? 

“You look fine.” Another painkiller that I know won’t work. Muscles. Headaches. Cramps. Abdominal pain. More pain than pills. A body in revolt.
“You look fine.”