New Year New Life – Day 31

Today’s Task
The Final Challenge
Celebrate what you’ve done this month, and relax!

Reasonably self-explanatory I think – congratulate yourself on what you’ve done towards being able to achieve your goals, and celebrate what you’ve learned that will help!

I am eating some chocolate right now 🙂


The New Year New Life challenges were created by Kirsten on her blog Organized Charm, and I give credit where credit is due. I make no claim to the series, I am merely posting my working for each of the challenges on my blog.

The Common Thread: Mothers, Daughters and the Power of Empathy

A fascinating book! My Mum is taking it to read next, hopefully she can get it finished before I run out of loan renewals at the library!

*Disclaimer* – I don’t think I’ve done a proper book report/review since I was in early high school, so I don’t really know what is “usual” for one. These may be less reviews than little essays/monologues on my thoughts/feelings/whatever about the book in question. I will attempt to at least give a rating of the book, and a recommendation of who I think would enjoy reading it though.

Title: The Common Thread: Mothers, Daughters, and the Power of Empathy

2015 Reading Challenge: #14 – A nonfiction book

Author: Martha Manning

This book is a very interesting read – it looks at the interactions between mothers and daughters across the lifespan, and how the dynamics of the relationship change over this time. Which makes it sound far more dry than it really is.

Manning has a very natural writing style that makes the psychology she includes in the pages very easy to read (though as I’ve got a psych degree behind me, I may leave the final judgement of that up to someone who doesn’t have that background).

She looks at a lot of the common mistakes, misconceptions, and misunderstandings that happen between mothers & daughters, and describes how these can change as both parties get older. It looks at both sides of the coin – where the experiences can strengthen the relationship, or break it.

I found this interesting from a very detached point of view – I know many of these things happen in mother-daughter relationships, but something along the way for me has meant that somehow, I seem to have missed the vast majority of the ups and downs that “everyone else” seems to experience! Reading about them in this book, I can see how they apply to the relationships I’ve seen between my sisters and my mum, between my Mum and grandmother, and between friends and their mothers. I don’t know if it’s just the way I look at things, or whether I am ACTUALLY missing something, but I feel like a lot of the tensions I saw in person (in other mother-daughter interactions) and in the book just weren’t there for me and Mum.

Some tensions are beginning to raise their head now though, but not in the way that could necessarily cause problems (I don’t think, anyway) – for example, I do have very different opinions about how Mum should deal with certain things in the behaviour of my youngest sister (C – 10 years old). I feel that she is being too lenient, because she is trying to be the “good guy”, because if she isn’t, C might choose to go live with her dad (my ex-stepdad – that’s a story for another time) instead of Mum. This fear is not entirely unfounded – there is precedent. My sister B decided in year 10 that she was going to live permanently with our Dad, because Mum was strict. Mum always had high expectations of our behaviour, and B didn’t like that – Dad was a little more lenient, and living with him also provided a little more autonomy for B as he does shift work, so sometime she would have to “fend for herself”. She didn’t visit all that often, and the relationship between her and Mum has only begun to improve again in the past couple of years. I think Mum is worried that the same thing will happen if she is strict with C, and she doesn’t want to drive her away. There is a way more backstory to this, a lot of it having to do with siblings and half-siblings being treated differently in similar situations (e.g. Stepdad was way more strict with us girls than he was with his 2 sons, whereas Mum went out of her way to ensure exactly equal treatment – she still adds up exactly what everyone’s xmas and birthday presents cost, so everyone has exactly the same amount spent on them!), and I’m not sure how things have changed, because she is now treating C differently to how she treated the same behaviour in the boys at the same age.
This is purely my opinion, and it could be completely wrong, but there is one advantage of Mum’s early intensive “people watching” training – I don’t miss much. I pick up on everything, and I do it consciously, because I have to. I have this opinion but I am hesitant to offer it, because I haven’t been there personally. I don’t have kids, I haven’t been in the situation that Mum is, as a mother, to understand what else might be going on. I can only view it through the lens of what I know, so instead of telling Mum what I think, I have a rant to Hubby about it to vent my frustrations, and put it to the side.

This may all come back to bite me in the event of ever having children myself, but we shall see.

One thing I got from the book is that this hesitance is a good thing – because I can feel empathy for someone in a situation without having been there personally, and without having to agree with everything they do.

I have a very good relationship with my Mum, and for the past 8 years or so it has been more of a relationship between equals than a mother-to-child one. Several times in recent years, our roles have even seemed to “flip” at times – I have found myself in several situations where I’m left feeling like things went a little backwards, and that we’d swapped places (very “Freaky Friday”). Apparently, this is not exactly unusual – but what is unusual is how we seem to have dealt with it. We just accepted it, let the role reversal happen, then laughed about it a bit afterwards. The more expected response is that the mother has a bit of a freak-out that she might not be the fountain of all knowledge any more, and that her daughter may have surpassed her knowledge in some areas. Mum doesn’t seem to be bothered by this fact. I say seem, because I can only speak from my own perspective – I won’t really know unless Mum decides to enlighten me!

The book did raise several questions for me though, about choices I’ve made in my life and the fact that Mum has been pretty much universally supportive – mainly, “Is she really as happy for me as she is making out? Or did she have other things in mind for me?”.
A big one is the fact that I am very, VERY open about the fact that I’m not all that fussed on the idea of kids. Mum has been completely supportive, and not said anything at all patronising – but I do wonder whether she is actually as much ‘onboard’ with the idea as she seems. Is she convinced (like the rest of society seems to be) that I’ll change my mind later, and decide I do want kids? Is she disappointed that the likely grandchildren production (for what of a better description) has been reduced to 2 daughters – one of which is at least 10 years off from the idea?
I can’t say anything in this book has changed my thoughts on having kids – several of the descriptions are less-than-optimistic, and while the book expounds the benefits of the mother-daughter relationship, I can’t entirely see how they make up for the crappy bits.

For anyone thinking of giving this to someone who is undecided about children and expecting it to change their mind – don’t count on it! It could very well have the opposite effect to what you want.
If you want to try to better understand the dynamics of your own relationship with your mother/daughter/both though, this is a very insightful read – and it may help with some of the more elusive aspects of interactions.

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


New Year New Life – Day 30

Today’s Task
Celebrate your Accomplishments
The big ones, AND the small ones

A reminder from Kirsten to celebrate what you accomplish – even completing a small step towards a goal can feel like a huge thing, so feel good about what you’ve done!


The New Year New Life challenges were created by Kirsten on her blog Organized Charm, and I give credit where credit is due. I make no claim to the series, I am merely posting my working for each of the challenges on my blog.

New Year New Life – Day 29

Today’s Task
Work out what to share and what to keep to yourself
Sharing certain types of goals can actually reduce the chances of achieving them, as can telling the wrong people…

Well, this would have been good to know when I started doing the series – I’ve already shared all my goals with you guys, including the personal ones!

I HOPE that this will be a bit more like writing the goals down in a journal though, seeing as it’s really just like have a Chamber of Secrets sort of diary that talks back to you sometimes…

Hopefully I will not reduce my success at some of those goals!


The New Year New Life challenges were created by Kirsten on her blog Organized Charm, and I give credit where credit is due. I make no claim to the series, I am merely posting my working for each of the challenges on my blog.

New Year New Life – Day 27

Today’s Task
Write down what you have accomplished
What have you accomplished that is working towards your goals?

This is more a tip from Kirsten, so I’ll let you all check out her posts for a full explanation – needless to say, I won’t be needing this until I’m properly back at uni (I don’t think).

About the only example I can give at the moment is to do with my “improve my yoga practice” goal:
Monday – None
Tuesday – 15mins
Wednesday – None
Thursday – None
Friday – 20mins
Saturday – 15mins
Sunday – None

So, I’ve done a little toward my goal – I have done yoga 3 times in the past week, and while it wasn’t much, I will gradually be increasing to longer sessions as I get back in practice (I’m BADLY out of the yoga habit, and I’m so inflexible it’s not even funny).


The New Year New Life challenges were created by Kirsten on her blog Organized Charm, and I give credit where credit is due. I make no claim to the series, I am merely posting my working for each of the challenges on my blog.

New lunchbox!

I ordered my new lunchbox last night!

I have been um-ing and ah-ing over getting it for the last 3 months, because Hubby’s new job meant that a few things changed in our routine – namely that Hubby is now taking lunch to work because he actually gets a lunch break. So he’s been using my lunchbox, which is totally fine (because I’m on holidays so I wasn’t using it), but it meant that I would have to buy another, so we would both be able to take packed lunches to uni/work.

After much thought and discussion, Hubby said he was happy with the one he’s using (it’s big enough to fit 2 sandwiches or wraps into, along with a few sweet treats), and that I should look at a new lunchbox.

After also tossing up between the two different sizes of the same style of bento box/lunchbox that I liked on Amazon (for pretty much the past month), I ordered this one (the larger of the 2 options). Isn’t it just the cutest?


I liked it for several reasons

  1. because CAT
  2. it has 2 separate compartments as well as a bowl on top – I really wanted one that had a bowl incorporated into the design, because I like to have instant soup or miso soup as a “snack” (particularly good for when you’re in a freezing lecture theatre for 4 hrs straight)
  3. the larger size means that I can pack a little more food on long uni days, and less on days where I’m only there for a couple of hours
  4. it’s a good size and shape to fit in my handbag along with my thermos.

Due to now being in a position again where it will actually be worthwhile for me to make proper lunches again, some of the recipes I share on the Foodie Fridays posts will probably tend a little more towards the Japanese bento genre – I got most of my recipes off JustBento, and I can’t wait until I sell some of my old textbooks so I can buy her recipe book!
I used to make bentos all the time for my lunch, but I just got lazy in the second half of last year and I’m really looking forward to doing them again 🙂

I am SOOOO ready for the new semester to start already, I just want to get on with everything! I can’t believe it’s a whole month to go before Uni starts back, I’m honestly getting bored – I’ve read the first chapter of all my new textbooks already. I’m not sure whether that means I’m a nerd or a bookworm…

Bring on the new year! It doesn’t really feel like it’s started until I’m back at uni :S


NYNL in practice…

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to start trying to follow the morning & evening routines I laid out in today’s post and see how it goes in practice (not just in theory).

This could mean that I’ll be adjusting a few of the time things – I will DEFINITELY have to set timers at first so I can get a feel for how much time I have for each thing.


New Year New Life – Day 26

Today’s Task
Modify you daily routines
Make changes to your routine so you can fit in your goals better

So, this is what my routine will need to look something like:

7:00am – wake up
7:05 – yoga
7:30 – shower & get dressed
7:55 – feed cat, kettle on
8:00 – EAT SOMETHING & drink coffee while doing some recreational reading
8:30 –  look over calendar for the day and plan to-dos
8:45 – make lunch
9:15 – leave for uni (or start day’s tasks for non-uni days)

This helps with several of the items on my Improve list:

  • eating meals at proper times
  • stop sleeping in past 7am
  • planning my day every morning
  • making packed lunches
  • improve yoga practice

This may seem like a slow start to the morning, but for me it is a necessity – I am NOT a morning person. I have tried time and again to be, but it just doesn’t work for me. I need the time to be able to wake up before I have to deal with other people in the mornings.

There are a couple of days in the week where I actually have to be at uni at 9, so those will have slightly different schedules. I’ll probably do my calendar and to-dos while eating breakfast on those days, and maybe get up 30mins earlier too. That will have to be worked out once I’m actually doing it though. I’ll just work on getting the basic timetable in place before I worry too much about variations.

As I mentioned yesterday, I don’t really have a routine for the rest of the day at the moment, but ideally my ‘evening routine’ would probably look something like this:

6:00pm – start cooking dinner
7:00 – eat dinner
7:30 – spend some time with Hubby (I can do some light housework during this time, like folding clothes/ironing/mending)
9:00 – dishes (Hubby goes to bed about now)
9:30 – light revision
10:30 – wind-down (cup of tea, recreational reading)
11:00 – bed

This would not be a routine I could follow every day though, because there are at least 2 nights a week where Hubby doesn’t get home until 10pm-ish. In which case, I would probably cook something quick for dinner and spend the time studying.


The New Year New Life challenges were created by Kirsten on her blog Organized Charm, and I give credit where credit is due. I make no claim to the series, I am merely posting my working for each of the challenges on my blog.