Welcome to Life at Number Eight! My monthly series that lets us recap the month and catch up with everything that has been going on.
Welcome to 2019!
As I mentioned in my last update, I was so ready for the new year. As much as I know that changing the calendar does not automatically make everything in your life better, man it feels good to close the door on 2018.
I am well aware that the events of the past year do not go away, and I still need to deal with how I am feeling. But at least I can hold on to the shift in mindset that comes with a new year and set myself some goals. I know it will be hard, but I feel ready to work through it.
2019 began for me doing something I love. Standing in the dark photographing the stars as the clock ticked past midnight. We were at a friends house having a low-key party and it was a great way to welcome the new year without any expectation of the night.
You may have seen the Buzzfeed article circulating this month about millennial burnout by Anne Helen Petersen. If not, you can read the full article here, but fair warning it’s not a short read so just make sure you have some time handy.
The below passage is something that really resonated with me. Petersen writes:
“And for millennials, that domestic work is now supposed to check a never-ending number of aspirational boxes: Outings should be “experiences,” food should be healthy and homemade and fun, bodies should be sculpted, wrinkles should be minimized, clothes should be cute and fashionable, sleep should be regulated, relationships should be healthy, the news should be read and processed, kids should be given personal attention and thriving.
The media that surrounds us — both social and mainstream, from Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show to the lifestyle influencer economy — tells us that our personal spaces should be optimized just as much as one’s self and career. The end result isn’t just fatigue, but enveloping burnout that follows us to home and back. The most common prescription is “self-care.” Give yourself a face mask! Go to yoga! Use your meditation app! But much of self-care isn’t care at all: It’s an $11 billion industry whose end goal isn’t to alleviate the burnout cycle, but to provide further means of self-optimization. At least in its contemporary, commodified iteration, self-care isn’t a solution; it’s exhausting.”
She also mentions that “Burnout and the behaviors and weight that accompany it aren’t, in fact, something we can cure by going on vacation.”
This article rang way to true for me. I have spoken about avoiding burnout on the blog before, but not the kind of burnout that is this continuous and relentless that builds up over time without any real cure, just a gift of being born in a changing era where we fight with the expectations and reality of our parents generation, along with the emerging future of possibilities we can see in front of us.
We are tired. It is a constant theme with friends my age, all nearing the end of their 20s, that comes up in most conversations. We have been designed to believe that busy is good and now we are suddenly hitting this wall of realisation that maybe being ‘busy’ isn’t actually the key.
What we are looking for now is happiness and fulfilment, and a chance to make big life decisions based on our own experiences rather than the expectations of others. This in itself can feel like just another pressure on top of those existing.
Should we be doing less? Are these struggles isolated just to those born between 1981 and 1996? I don’t know the answers to these questions, how could I? But I do know that these pressures have lead to real issues in our society with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression affecting people specifically within this age range. I see it everyday.
Again to quote Petersen; “We’re not feckless teens anymore; we’re grown-ass adults, and the challenges we face aren’t fleeting, but systemic.”
I think the only thing we can do is to let things go. Try not to busy ourselves with everything there is to be done and place less pressure on making sure everything we do has a purpose. Sometimes we can do something just because we want to, and not because it gives us something else, and I think that’s ok.
That was a lot more than I expected to write about this subject, but it is just something that really strikes a nerve with me, and while it’s something that I will continue to work through myself, I wanted to share it here as I am sure there are many people reading this who feel the same.
Most Popular Blog Post
All in all it was a really productive month at Eight Forest Lane in January. I stuck to my goals and managed to publish a total of 7 new recipes! I also FINALLY got around to finishing a project I have been working on for quite a while and have released my first ecookbook – a compilation of my best recipes from the blog in 2018. You can get your copy here.
I am also excited to see how far I have progressed with photography in the last 12 months as it was in January 2018 that I made the decision to consciously focus on improving in this area and it is so motivating to start to see these results.
The most popular recipe this month was close, but I’m so happy that these steamed mushroom buns just scraped through with the most pageviews! I wasn’t sure how these would do being something a bit different, but they are delicious and it seemed you guys agreed. This was also the 200th blog post published on Eight Forest Lane!
Honey Soy Chicken – a close second for most popular this month.
Spiced Chickpea and Cauliflower Burgers – vegan and delicious!
Dairy-Free White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies – soft & chewy and just everything a cookie should be.
Seared Scallops with Avocado, Smoked Salmon and Caviar – the prettiest/fanciest appetiser you’ll eat this summer.
Sour Cherry & Vanilla Thumbprint Cookies – a childhood classic jazzed up.
Lemon Layer Cake – only published on the 31st so didn’t get much of a chance to take out top spot, but you guys, seriously this cake is incredible.
What I Read This Month
Following on from a good reading month in December, I think I have found myself back in the habit of reading with 6 books completed this month! One was a re-listen of an audiobook from last year so I have chosen not to include that one in this list.
Also, this month I accidentally forgot to unsubscribe from my Amazon Prime membership free trial and got charged $4.99. Not wanting to let that money go to waste, I decided to see what other benefits besides fast delivery could be gained from this membership. This is when I found Prime Reading, a collection of books all free with my membership. I read 3 making it money well spent this month although not something that at this stage had enough range to make me want to keep it moving forward.
180 Seconds by Jessica Park (2017)
When I found Prime Reading, it was New Year’s Day and I began browsing the titles looking for a light summer read. Intrigued by the premise and the pretty cover and the fantastic reviews, I thought this would be perfect.
Sitting on the lounge reading through a well told and powerful love story between two people I got to about the halfway point before I stopped and thought that this felt like a resolution. It felt like it should be the end of the book, but we were only halfway through? Shit.
This book quickly transitioned from light summer romance to one that explores every inch of human relationships and emotion. The character development is beautiful and continues right through the book. I don’t want to spoil it because I think the power of this book is that I just had no idea of the direction it would take.
Reading this caused me to disappear and take a break from the real world as I wanted to keep going, wanting/needing the final resolution.
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss (Expanded & Updated Edition 2009) Audio
People have a lot of thoughts about Tim Ferris. Some love him and his way of approaching business and life, while others strongly disagree. After hearing a lot of chat about this book over the years, I finally decided to give it a chance to see what could be learned.
The first thing to note is that I listened to the audiobook version which is not narrated by Tim and I struggled to link the readers voice with that of the context of the book. The other thing was that while this was the updated version published in 2009 (the original was published in 2007) with much updated content, it has still been 10 years since so there is quite a lot of reference to using fax machines. So yeah that.
But if you can get past these little things, and the fact that it really doesn’t sound like anyone including Tim actually only works 4 hours a week, there are many takeaways to be gained from this book. In particular the strategies he uses to become more efficient with tasks can be applied to people in most circumstance.
Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss (2018)
One of my goals for this year is to read more books by Australian authors, so when I saw this collection of essays by Indigenous Australians available through Prime Reading, I thought it would be a pretty good place to start.
This collection is made up of stories and personal accounts of growing up in Australia from the perspective of people who identify as Aboriginal. The contributors include people such as Adam Goodes and Deborah Cheetham, as well as journalists and elders and even an 11 year old girl. All tell their stories about what it means not only to be Aboriginal but how this impacted the way they grew up.
One of the reasons I want to read more Australian books this year is to find stories and the context surrounding them relatable. However, while I could understand the land that was described, having grown up in rural New South Wales near much of the land spoken about in several stories, I could not relate to their stories of racism, of having their history taken from them through the stolen generations, and of walking a line between white and black in a society that is yet to understand what that is.
This is a raw and at times painful collection. Some essays are better than others and while I struggled to read through a few of them, some will stay with me and help challenge the way I personally think about our history as a country and how as a white Australian our actions and language can help shape the move towards a country that is unified.
How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness by Andrea Owen (2018)
This book popped up in Prime Reading and well, with that title I was instantly intrigued. Working on happiness is a big goal for me this year and I thought maybe a read like this in January was exactly what I needed.
You know when you read self-help books because it is easier than actually doing the work? Well this book calls you on that and asks you even before you get to the content to actually do the work. Each chapter has a series of questions, not unlike my uni textbooks, that it asks you to honestly answer. A painful exercise which, again like with the questions in my uni textbooks, I simply glossed over and moved on.
BUT in saying that while I may not have done the suggested homework, I did allow myself to do a little self analysis with each chapter to see not only IF I do the behaviour (because that was mostly a yes..) but WHAT this behaviour looks like for me. This book is nice about it. It doesn’t say you have to fix everything immediately but rather start teaching your mind to notice when these ‘habits’ are happening, identify them and label them. That is all. From here you can begin to react differently when you feel the known habits rising to the front.
It wasn’t the most engaging book I have ever read, but I did enjoy the principles laid out and the acknowledgement that it is normal to have these sorts of feelings, we just need to train our minds to be able to identify them and get back in control.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (2018)
Roy and Celestial have been married for just over a year when Roy is arrested and wrongly accused of a crime he didn’t commit. He is sentenced to 12 years in prison. What happens when two people are forced to be apart for more time than they have been together? This story explores that.
When Roy is released early after 5 years, his convictions finally having been over turned, he returns unsure whether Celestial is still his wife.
This is a very powerful story that examines marriage from all angles. It looks at Celestial as always being an independent person within the marriage, and Roy as working hard coming from a family who had nothing to become successful, respected and be able to provide for the family he has always wanted.
The time in prison is told through a series of letters that span over the 5 years and explore the emotion that both of them go through, as well as what is happening both inside Roy’s prison world and the one outside.
This story is incredibly told, and it was one that I just couldn’t put down. There were times when I felt I was holding my breath as I waited to find out how it would end. This so far is the first contender for my best of the year list!
What I Watched This Month
Being that I read a lot this month, I haven’t spent too much time in front of the TV. Also, I need some new things to watch, so please hit me with your recommendations!
This month though did see the return of 2 of my favourite and hilarious shows in The Good Place on Netflix and Brooklyn 99 on SBS on Demand, so I am enjoying them each week as they are released.
Other than that, it’s Oscars season so I hope to get to the cinemas in Feb to see a few new releases as there are some that I am really looking forward to (The Hate U Give, Storm Boy, Vice, On The Basis of Sex). And popcorn, always.
What’s coming up?
I currently don’t have any set plans for February. I know I need to try harder to get outside and into nature. It is where I feel my best and always provides me with clarity. I would like to try and get in a weekend overnight camping trip somewhere if possible.
On the blog front, I am hoping to keep the momentum going that I built up in January and keep sharing 2 new posts a week, while not place too much pressure on myself if I have to miss a day due to other commitments.
Other than that, catching up with friends is something we want to make a high priority this year, so hopefully a few dinners out is on the cards.
Until next month,
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