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.
I have realised this month as we get nearer to wrapping up the year that a common theme for me this year has been the struggle with motivation and finding a balance.
When it comes to this blog, it can be very overwhelming at times. A lot of work goes into not only producing the content you see here, but keeping it running, social media and ensuring my posts get found in Google searches. There is a whole industry that sits behind blogging and it can be all consuming not only of time, but also of mental capacity.
Every day there is more and more information about what a blog should and shouldn’t be. As much as I try, it can be difficult to balance keeping up with changes and staying true to your own direction.
I share this, knowing that while the specifics of blogging may not be familiar, I know that this feeling can be universally applied to so many aspects of our lives.
This month I found I started at a point of overwhelm. There was so much I wanted to do and with the feeling that I didn’t have enough time to do it all. That lead to a lack of motivation as I felt it was too much, so where would I even start. It was with that realisation that I decided I needed to step back and gain a little perspective.
Brené Brown talks about the concept of enough. It is something we are constantly seeking yet never achieving. We wake up and immediately think we haven’t had enough sleep and then we go to bed thinking we haven’t done enough in the day. Is this cycle of thinking really helping us feel fulfilled in our lives? Of course not. And it is this concept of enough that we are constantly challenging as we seek happiness and balance in our daily lives, both at work and at home.
Something that I am going to try and do more in my life is acknowledge when I can keep pushing through, and when it is actually enough.
This month on Eight Forest Lane I didn’t do much. And as a result my traffic decreased and I lost some engagement. But instead of feeling disappointed that I failed, I am looking forward and thinking that I did everything I could have this month and looking to redefine what doing enough actually means.
I challenge you to apply this to your life and see how the changes make you feel. For me, it’s pretty empowering.
What Happened in October
Camping at Misty Mountain. This month started off with a long weekend spent camping with friends in the beautiful mountains behind Murwillumbah. We had been here earlier in the year over Easter in which it rained and rained.
This time, we had much dryer conditions and spent the days soaking in the sun, drinking cold beer, eating a lot of really good food and feeling super relaxed and disconnected from the world. The photos above are all from this trip.
It was the perfect way to start the month and we all came home feeling refreshed and acknowledging that we really should do this more often.
Spending the weekend at the Gold Coast with family. October is forever going to be a month full of emotion, and one year on from loss, our family decided to spend time gathered together in a very beautiful part of the world. Again common themes included cold beers, lots of food, soaking in the sun, accompanied by walks along the beach.
FINALLY remembering my love of art at Brisbane Portraits Exhibition. It’s been longer than I care to remember since I have ventured out to check out a local exhibition and this month, I realised I didn’t know why that was.
I had wanted to check out the portraits exhibition at the Powerhouse, so on the last weekend, I finally got there. There were some incredible portraits of all mediums and I am so glad I made the effort to go. The image pictured below was by far my favourite by Stuart Mattress – I just loved the use of colour, it’s incredible.
Going vegetarian. Not one to back down from a challenge, my workplace decided to go green for a month and asked us to each pick a ‘green’ initiative that could be completed and tracked daily.
Lacking inspiration, I decided to give up meat and its actually been much easier than expected. As this post is coming to you later this month, I can say that I have now finished and achieved 100% success rate!
This month therefore I have been eating a lot of Vietnamese noodle salads, roasted veggie bowls, lentil daal, and those ‘chicken’ schnitzels you get from the freezer section because sometimes you can’t be bothered and really need easy.
Most Popular Blog Post
As I’ve touched on already, it wasn’t a big blog month so the most popular new post is a bit of a give away being that it was the only new post that I published.
This Chocolate and Coconut Layer Cake is dairy-free and so so good. It’s made in a 6 inch pan making it a more respectable size when you don’t actually have a crowd to feed but still want a cute layer cake.
What I Read This Month
This month, after feeling like reading was becoming a challenge this year, I am slowly starting to feel confident that I am picking up my rhythm of reading again. Audio books are easy to consume due to the close to 2 hours a day getting to and from work via public transport. Between podcasts and audiobooks, this time each day feels valuable and entertaining, but it also means that I don’t put the same weight on physically reading as I used to.
With this months 4 books taking my total for the year to 31, it is becoming pretty unlikely that I will reach my goal of 50 books for 2019, but I am still wanting to finish the year strong and get ready for a new year and a new challenge.
I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott (2019)
Through a collection of essays, Mary Laura Philpott tells her own story about work, home and creative life while exploring the pressures of womanhood. This becomes a light, relatable read about what it is like to feel like to plan to do it all, and not being able to achieve these unrealistic expectations.
Through the pages of this book, Philpott becomes the voice of every time we have tried and failed, or needed a break, or just needed a friend. She normalises the feelings that every woman goes through at some point during their own journey.
So while her specific stories may not mirror our own, it is the way she explains the universal feelings that make this book feel like having coffee with your wise friend.
I love personal essays, particularly when the subject is talking about seemingly normal, everyday challenges and how this impacts our own story. For this reason, I really enjoyed this collection.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller (2019) Audio
You’re going to hear about Chanel’s story in my end of year best reads post, because this book has put its hand up to be a serious contender for my book of the year.
Since the 17th of January 2015, the day she was sexually assaulted, Chanel Miller has been hidden behind the anonymous identity of Emily Doe as she made her way through the traumatic process of seeking justice against her attacker through the American legal system.
In September this year, she was finally able to reveal her identity and publicly share her story. I chose to listen to the audio version of this book because I wanted to hear directly from Chanel, and I highly recommend you do the same as it personifies the story bringing to light Chanel’s realities.
Without initially meaning to, Chanel has become a voice for other sexual assault survivors and it is not hard to understand why after reading her story.
This book is honest and brave, while intelligently exploring the questions of how sexual assault crimes are dealt with in court, and the reality that victims are shamed and forced to prove that it did happen, rather than the defendant having to prove that it didn’t.
Chanel was born to write, and tells her story with grace and beautiful language. I really hope that now we know her name, she will continue to use her gift of language and continue to fight for those who do not have a voice.
Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven (2016)
This book came up in my Amazon recommendations on sale, and as it had been a while since I had read a young adult novel I decided to give it a try.
I always struggle about reading YA novels about young love because I struggle with comparison to John Green. He is my favourite master of words and I have read so many other books that travel a similar theme but struggle to have the same emotional connection.
Comparatively, this book more resembles Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell so if you loved that, then this book is for you. It is the story of two teenagers, Libby and Jack, and the story swaps between their two perspectives. Both individually have their own challenges with Libby being overweight and Jack being unable to recognise people’s faces.
While they struggle individually, together they feel as though their challenges do not define them. This is a beautiful story of courage and inner love and the struggle to self-worth. This passage I just had to share:
Remember yourself as you were when you were even younger. Who were you when you weren’t wondering who you were?
If like me you have a soft spot for intense YA fiction, then you are going to enjoy this light read.
Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez (Fully Revised and Updated for 2018) Audio
I must confess, I have a soft spot for self-help books particularly around personal finance. I enjoy hearing all the different strategies and picking what applies to my own life or circumstance, and then also identifying what strategies I am already implementing that may mean I am doing ok.
This book was originally released in the early 90s, however it has been completely revised for 2018 understanding the massive shifts and changes we have seen in our society since then. The base strategies of this program remain the same however and they become the principles that are shared as a step-by-step guide to working your way to financial freedom.
What I enjoyed about this book is that while financial freedom was defined clearly, what this meant for the individual was not. It asked you to look at what areas of your life would you live in more should you not have to worry about where the money was coming from. This type of thinking is so different from what we have been programmed to understand as the realities of our life.
For me, this book was quite eye opening in terms of what my own goals are and how they might be different to others, but how our purpose is the same. While I am not going to follow the steps in this program, I do think this book contains some interesting insights, so if personal finance is an area you want to devote more time to, then this book may just help guide the way you think about money.
What I Watched This Month
Last Breath (2019)
I am not going to say to much about this Netflix Documentary but if you love sweeping ocean landscapes, edge of your seat suspense, and insight into something you have never even thought about, then give this one a watch.
What I Listened To This Month
I first discovered the husky, emotive voice of Cory Wells with the release of his track End Of A Good Thing last year and have been hanging on every release ever since.
This month brought a 4 song EP that seems to be a teaser for a full length album due next month. I’ve had the single Wildfire on repeat this month, and if this is any indication of what the album will be, I am ready.
What’s coming up?
This month I also realised that Christmas is coming and things are about to get really busy, so I need to get planning around upcoming content. Tell me, what are some Christmas/summer recipes you want to see??
I’ll most likely go through this in more detail in my next update, but November for me will be all about focusing on my health and wellness.
As much as I want to throw all of my time into this blog, the reality is between my full-time job and making sure I have enough down time to recharge, I often have to let this go in order to find balance.
Over the next few months I hope to find more motivation and enjoyment in the work that I am publishing here, because I know that comes through in how I am writing. Even if that means accepting quality over quantity.
I’ll keep you posted.