Thursday, September 29, 2011

Feeling So Blessed

I feel so blessed with my life so far. Sometimes I muse over how my life could have been so different. I could have been growing up in a third world country but instead, my destiny finds me here in a first world country which is a far cry from Cambodia.

My parents could have chosen not to blatantly risk their lives to escape from a war torn communist country. They could have chosen to face death on a daily basis but instead, they found courage from deep within themselves to escape through the jungles, past mounds of murdered bodies thrown into unburied piles and eventually found refuge in a Thai refugee camp.

I feel so blessed and thankful for the wonderful people and things in my life.

Frequently, I think about Cambodia and how poor the majority of the population is due to the corruption of the elite few. I aim to return there one day and make a positive difference by contributing to my relatives welfare and to any poor families that I meet along my journey.

It's crazy to think that my income for a single week is equivalent to what my relatives in Cambodia earn with one years' worth of labour. I could work one year over here and it would take most of my relatives 52 years of labour to earn the equivalent. You may be thinking, 'Well, the cost of living is higher in Sydney than Cambodia' and you're right, it is. But at the end of the day, the cost of living here isn't that catastrophic that it precludes us from saving. If anyone here can't save, usually it's because they spend too much and are in denial.

Wealthy isn't just a state of material possessions. It's also a state of mind and how content you are in life. If you think about the trials and tribulations that life has thrown at you, can it really compare to what people have faced in war torn nations such as Iraq? Or being forced to labour or be killed? Not that your troubles aren't as mammoth but when we compare the troubles that we face to the other extreme, it does help put things into perspective. And you know what, it helps us to feel so blessed. To not worry and stress over things that we can't control. To feel grateful. To be content and happy with the simple things in life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Genius of Albert Einstein and Michael Jackson

Einstein is a genius. Only a genius could truly love compound interest and elevate the concept by stating that it's the eighth wonder in the world.
He is famously quoted: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
If you find yourself stuck in a rut, repetitiously living your life and clinging to routines, it isn't going to yield different results. Try a few different things in your life to break yourself out of your routine. Drive new roads. Eat a different breakfast. Try new hobbies and sports. Read different books. Try new recipes. Plant new plants that you've never planted before. Re-arrange your furniture. If that didn't give you a different perspective of life or reinvigorate you at least it helped you tone your muscles somewhat lol

So have your tried anything new in your life? Have you ever thought about what you could change in your life? Have you helped anyone recently?

Michael Jackson's song, 'Man in the mirror' is such an inspirational song. Here are some of the lyrics that inspired me to make so many changes in my life for myself and for those who are less fortunate than I am (my fave bits are in bold):

"Gonna make a change
For once in my life
It's gonna feel real good
Gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right

As I turned up the collar on
A favorite winter coat
This wind is blowin' my mind
I see the kids in the street
With not enough to eat
Who am I to be blind
Pretending not to see their needs

...I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change...

A willow deeply scarred
Somebody's broken heart
And a washed out dream
They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see
'Cause they got no place to be
That's why I'm starting with me"

To start you off on this 'thinking' type of post, I'll list a few things that I've recently been doing that broke me out of my routine. I tried:

* Collecting all my food and vegie scraps and composting them - reducing my landfill waste. Rubbish has been literally halved
* Minimising my usage of plastic bags, plastic food wrap, plastic cutleries and plastic packaging
* Lugging environmentally friendly shopping bags around and refusing new bags as often as I can(even when buying new clothes)
* Using recycled furniture that other people dump, refurbishing them -I confess that my recycled greenhouse project failed due to the wind blowing it apart but we did rescue a beautiful desk from our neighbour who had upgraded their desk
* Growing new plants from seed
* Reading less personal finance books and more frivolous books on gardening, composting and renovating
* Cooking new recipes - new desserts and new marinades
* Exercising more
* Knocking more tasks off my 'to-do' list by frantically working my way through the hard tasks that I would normally have procrastinated on (buying furniture, building furniture, building organisational storage etc)
* Blogging more ; )
* Eating more healthily - reduced meat intake, eating more vegies and fruit, no take-aways, bringing leftovers for lunch or making a simple sandwich for lunch with lots of vegies
* Forced myself not to stockpile food and groceries
* Using the ingredients that I've stockpiled in our freezer
* Working hard to convince myself to throw things out
* Thinking about how I can help some of my poor relatives in Cambodia when I eventually visit them

James Lovell Ponzi Scheme

Meet James Lovell - 31 Year Old Ponzi Scamster

Scamster. Ponzi scheme specialist. Owner of failed company Mirtna Holdings.  Fraudster. Forger. False broker activity statements. False documents. Taste for luxury such as Mercedes Benz albeit with other people's money.

A few months ago, James Lovell was sentenced to 13 years jail. For a 31 year old guy, he certainly managed to squeeze a lot into his life. The Australian justice system can be rather lame for white collar criminals so he'll probably get parole prior to serving out his full sentence.

Would you be fuming if you were one of the 200 investors that he fleeced $15 million from? He spent investors' money on 'fast cars and lavish parties'. It's unbelievable how he pretended that he was an ASIC licensed securities trader for several years without ASIC doing anything about it. Out of that $15 million worth of investors' money, he lost/spent $11 million worth. Wowzas. How many more Lovell, Madoffs and Munro's are out there still?

Lovell invested only 20% of the funds that he collected and with that 20%, he bought high risk shares which suffered huge losses. His ponzi scheme operated between 2001 and 2009. I can speculate that the global financial crisis triggered his liquidity crisis and thus caused his inability to pay rent when cash flow from investors dried up. And that's how an investigation was triggered and how he was ultimately caught.

Mark Ludlow wrote an article about Lovell and I quote Ludlow, "...Mostly through word of mouth from family and friends, Lovell was able to convice people to hand over their life savings on the promise of earning spectacularly high returns which were never delivered". 
*sigh* When will people realise that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually isn't true? And when will people stop taking financial advice from their family and friends without doing some good old due diligence and research prior to handing over their hard earned dough? Last year I wrote about Bernie Madoff and Roger Munro's ponzi scheme and delved into the issue of vulnerability and lack of due diligence. If you're going to throw hundreds and thousands of dollars of your life's savings towards anything or anyone, wouldn't it be prudent to research every single little thing about the investment?

It's a very sad state of affairs for the victims with many now suffering from depressive thoughts such as suicide and the rest suffering from financial instability. Various investors lost sums such as $150k, $300k, $259k and $1.25 million. I'm going to write about as many of these scamsters and ponzi schemers that I come across in the news so that my words shall live on beyond me and may help prevent future scamsters from ripping people off. Remember folks - due diligence is king.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Something to boggle your mind

A sentence in an article that I stumbled across on the net had me absolutely gobsmacked for a moment - it was, "...her husband's sister's husband's brother". Huh?

English is not my first language.

Nowadays, I rarely speak Khmer or the Chinese language that I grew up with, so English does feel like my first language however sentences like that can still confound me. I tell ya - I thought I had conquered the English language sufficiently but all this geneological-family-tree stuff still stumps me occasionally. 

"...her husband's sister's husband's brother"... Did that make sense to you?

Here it is in pictorial form if it didn't:

Monday, September 26, 2011

My retirement fund returns suck

Last night the topic of superannuation retirement funds arose. Let me tell you that the topic of super doesn't come up very often at all. Infact, I can count on one hand the number of friends who have raised the topic of their superannuation fund with me. It's not that it's unimportant. Just that the idea of retirement is so far fetched and so far into the future.

Maybe in 35 years time we'll be having coffee together in our wizened age and spending 24/7 discussing our respective super funds but until those days are here - I can safely say that it isn't at the forefront of our mind.

So I sat with my friend(G) calculating our superannuation contributions. We started off with our balance on 30/06/08 because that's the extent of the online data available:

1. Balance at 30/06/08
2. Plus compulsory employer contributions
3. Plus extra personal contributions
4. Compare that total to what the total of our fund was last night

Basically it is comparing the idea that if we could take that money out on 30/06/08 and let it sit under the mattress and add the extra that the employers and we ourselves have contributed to it. Literally assuming that we do nothing with that money for three years AND then compare that to what the result was after the super fund did some not-so-awesome trading with our funds.

The result? Enough to bring tears to our eyes. All I can say is thank heavens we're not going to need our retirement fund anytime soon >.<  G's retirement fund is invested into Australian + international shares. Mine is invested into the Core Strategy Fund which is a mix of Aussie+international stocks/bonds/property/cash etc.

Across the past three years, the average return of my retirement fund is ONLY 1.49% per annum. It's so lousy. I get exceedingly better returns on my investments and savings with my eyes closed. Sheesh. G's fund had a fantastic average three year return of around -2.22% per annum (oh alright, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit :/ ).  Unfortunately not much we can do about it since super is compulsory and we can't touch it until we're in our 60s at least.

You can betcha that the moment our super funds hit critical mass, we're going to go for the SMSF option. Manage the thing ourself. Either that or we can ignore our super funds at our own peril.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rainy Days And Mondays

Sunday passed much too quickly with blurry wetness and now it's Monday again.

Rainy days can be rather depressing. Sometimes I can smell the fresh damp air and it feels uplifting but sometimes it can be depressing. When it rains on Sundays or Mondays, I can't help but think of poor Karen Carpenter who died when she was still so young- she was the first known celebrity to die from anorexia nervosa. On that melancholic bent, I found myself thinking about Left Eye(Lisa Lopes from TLC), Aaliyah(plane crash), Selena(her mentally unstable fan club manager shot her) - the three other singers who also died so young.

On a brighter note, since it rained all Sunday, you may have noticed that I inundated you with with three posts yesterday! And another one today! Didn't do much yesterday. Didn't go out. Didn't do anything productive. Just cleaned the wet balcony again and pottered around out there with the DSLR and did a load of reading. Can't tell you how fantastic it feels to be home and do absolutely nothing much all day. I didn't even eat breakfast nor dinner - just lunch.

Here are some happy shots from the dslr and the results of a rainy Sunday:

Last of my blooming daffodils starting to wilt and droop *sob sob*

My gorgeous pink daisies blooming profusely

Dahlia shoots

Pumpkin seedlings that I rescued from our compost is on steroids (figuratively speaking before y'all start thinking I'm some druggo lordess lol)

Sunflowers are peeking their shy heads

Raspberry plants are starting to flower (already?!)

Gen Y Staying At Home Longer

Pessimistic Economic Outlook

Aussies are becoming a bunch of misers. We are supposedly saving around 11.5% of our income on average which is the highest in 25 years, according to Nicole Perdersen-McKinnon, the editor of Financial Review Investor. Who can blame us with the poor state of the US/Japanese and European economy? Our mining exporters are heavily reliant on China buying our output while China is reliant on the rest of the world buying their output.

With the economic outlook looking rather pessimistic and housing prices amongst the highest in the world, is it any wonder that Gen Y are not leaving home until their 30s or they're moving back home? There's so much Gen Y bashing around and I'm fed up with it. Did anyone ever think that Gen X & Gen Y are inheriting a shitty economy from their predecessors?

Here's what the older generations left us with:

* Record budget deficits
* Huge student tertiary/university debt - when they went to uni it was free back then
* Unstable financial institutions
* Housing prices that are about 6 to 9 times the average household income
* Some pensioners who didn't save up for their own retirement and are thus, reliant on tax revenues from the blood, sweat and tears of Gen X/Y that could have been used to fund infrastructure that is eroding and deteriorating
* Some baby boomers - see above point

I write 'some' pensioners and 'some' baby boomers because I understand that there are exceptions to the rule and some may not have had the opportunity to save up for their golden days but what's are the excuses for the rest?

Gen X & Y are expected to pay off their tertiary education debts, buy housing that is up to 9 times their household income PLUS save up for their retirement days because there will be way too many older folks draining the budget revenue now which means that there will be no such thing as pensions when we get to that age.

And yet we get scores and scores of articles that bash our generation with derogatory phrases such as 'kippers' (kids in parents' pockets eroding retirement savings), 'boomerang kids', 'parasite singles' and 'slops'(singles living off parents). Gen Y also gets bashed for buying too many iphones, gadgets, wide screen tvs, holidays, ipads and whatnot and then supposedly 'whinging' about being unable to afford housing etc

Mark McCrindle from McCrindle researchers says that about 25% of kids in the 20 to 34 year age bracket are still living in their parents' home. I don't see what is so wrong about that?! Asian/Indian/Greek/Italian kids who are unmarried will usually stay with their parents and when parents are old, they usually assume the main role of carer and pay the bills with contributions from other siblings. They don't leave their elderly parents to fend for themselves, live on the streets or have no money for heating or whatever.

That's what comes with reciprocal responsibility. If a kid is going to live with their parents till they're pretty old, then when the parents are old, the kid is expected to support the parents. That's why a lot of Asian, Italian and Indian parents don't panic much about old age and insufficient pension or savings.

Gen X/Ys Still Living At Home

If you're in that generation and still living at home - don't blow your opportunity to save. It will be the biggest opportunity for you to save. When and if you eventually move out, there will be so much more to pay for- electricity, water, gas, rent/mortgage, phone, internet, insurance for home and contents, repairing things that break, plumbing fees, groceries etc

So if your parents are giving you a leg up by allowing you to live with them - don't take advantage of them and show them how grateful you are by being mature and taking that opportunity to save up for your future.

Critics are nasty because they see that some Gen X/Y living at home just booze away their pay, spend their pay on stupid consumer goods and all that jazz. If you're still living at home and you fit into this category - time to think about contributing to the parental household either financially or through other means such as cleaning, cooking, gardening, laundry and other chores.

But enough of this Gen X and Gen Y bashing.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Apartment Gardens: Container Gardening on Balconies

Blame all these gardening posts on Spring!!!! I can't help but dwell on green things with everything blooming and sprouting like crazy. I will promise to write about personal finance after I get this out of my system ^.^

Before shot of the balcony garden:

Shot of the balcony garden now:

I tells ya, those beautiful blue, ceramic glazed pots are eye wateringly expensive ;_;
But ain't that a pretty sight : ) 

Sixteen days ago - bought some HUGE empty pots:

Over these last two weeks, wild irises were planted into the round one:

And raspberry canes were planted into the squarish, rectangular ones:

Falling in love with succulents:

Even my compost bin has become a germinating machine with mouldy pumpkin seeds and old potting soil that had old marigold seeds start sprouting. Pumpkin seedlings that I had to rescue from my compost bin before they consumed more nitrogen:

Oh yeah, and those are certainly toilet paper rolls used to pot up some of the pumpkin seedlings. Not only is it recycling but it's also going to decompose and add carbon to the soil. All those seedlings in the dunny paper roll can be planted directly into the ground as is.

Container Gardening: Aloe Vera, Pups, Repotting and Healing

Our Aloe Vera plant has been growing insanely. I've got a single plant and have managed to repot sixteen baby Aloe pups from the Mother Aloe plant. Bunnings and Eden Garden are our local garden centres and they sell Aloe plants at about $7 to $60 each depending on the size.

If you have a friend with a plant, just look on the side of their plants for baby pups that you could transplant and that's free. I was googling tips on repotting earlier and came across so many people who wrote in about their Aloe plant dying and they don't know why. Plants usually die because we love them too much: too much water or too much fertiliser or we drastically give them sunburn by moving them into the sun without hardening them off slowly.

Evolution of our Aloe Plant:

14th November 2010 - Mother Aloe Vera

19th March 2011 - Mother Aloe with her gazillion pups. See how the pups are draining the nutrients from the mother plant and the soil? All the tips are starting to turn brown:

19th September 2011 -Six months later... Aloe plant tipped onto her side for repotting the pups. Repotted her after work at night, hence the camera flash. See all those pups that were repotted from the Mother Aloe?!~ Crazy @_@

23rd September 2011 - She's breathing a sigh of relief after her pups have been removed and has stopped leaching all the nutrients out of the soil. With some fresh potting mix, suddenly her flower stalk has shot upwards:

Tips On Repotting Aloe Vera Pups

* Wait until the pups are large enough with about 5-8 leaves each. This makes it easier to repot because you don't have to cut the pups away from its mother. When they have 5-8 leaves, they have independant rootballs so you can just tug and they separate easily from the mother plant

* You can repot the pups into dry soil. Because the rootballs aren't large, giving the Aloe pups a lot of water will lead to rot and death. They are succulents, thus very tolerant of dry soil. You can water the Mother Aloe plant after repotting because she's got a huge rootball and will absorb the water in time without rotting.

* Their tips may turn brown. The plants may all turn brown but don't worry. It's just transplant shock and they are unkillable. Just ignore them and water them lightly a week after repotting.

* I like to leave my Aloes in a position that has only morning sun. It doesn't matter how much or little sun you have. IF you are moving them from a shady position to a sunnier position, ensure you do it VERY slowly like all other plants. Plants can get sunburnt and die. I know - how weird! When moving from shade to a sunnier position, ensure you expose them to sun for around 30mins the first few days, then 1 hr the next few days, 2 hours the next few days and after about two to three weeks of doing this (depending on your laziness), they're ready for the new sunnier position. It works the other way around too if you want to move them from full sun to a shadier spot.

* Repotting the Mother Aloe. After doing that, give her some fresh soil that are loaded with nutrients. Use the old soil for compost or whatever you want. If you repot her to a LARGER pot then be prepared for a gigantic plant. If you just replant her into the same pot, then you'll control her size somewhat. Some advice on the net recommeds trimming the rootball but we've found that restricting her to the same pot will contain her size. If you want a larger Mother Aloe, ensure you repot her into a larger size and she will grow accordingly.

Tips On Caring For Your Aloe Vera Plants

* Weekly watering in summer and in winter, every second week only
* Underwatering is better than overwatering
* When the leaves look shrivelled and dried up and not fleshy and squishy to the touch, then you need to increase the amount of water when you're watering
* Need well drained soil so excess water can seep out
* Sandy soil potting mix is best - I use potting mix that has a bit of compost mixed in with some sand - some on the net recommends 1/3rd sand to potting mix but whatever. Soil has heaps of nutrients so it's not going to hurt if you even have no sand to mix into your soil

Using Aloe Vera Gel for Healing

That's my face. Fell off my bike and grazed half my face. The after shot is about 10 days after slathering Aloe gel on my face every single day. Keeping the area moist and wet with Aloe gel. It was a bit awkward to work with Aloe goo on my face but after the shock and awe at the graze, it was back to work as usual. Almost one year later, you can't even tell that my face had looked like that.

Fresh Aloe gel is best, straight from the plant. Clean your area of injury. If it's bleeding, bandage it and wait until the blood stops oozing before using Aloe gel.

1. Cut the bottom leaf off
2. Cut the spikes off the oozing end by about 2cm
3. Now the spikes are gone, you can strip the skin off the top and bottom of the leaf by 2cm
4. Hold onto the pointy end with the skin and slather the gel from the fat end that you've just stripped the skin from. If there is a yellow gel, wash or scrape it off until you have clear Aloe gel
5. After using that bit, cut the skinned section off and store the rest of the leaf in an airtight glass container

Aloe leaves keeps very well for a few days in the fridge as long as the skin is still on, that's why I only strip off enough skin for each use. Keep your burn, sunburn, graze or whatever always wet and slathered with Aloe gel. What it does is encourage new cell growth on the surface of your skin. It also helps your skin to heal without forming a huge, thick, fat and dry scab that puckers and then leaves a scar once it comes off.

With Aloe gel, the injury will scab over, but very thinly and very lightly and the scab will peel off as you apply more Aloe Gel and form a new thin scab continuously until it heals almost unblemished.

Aloe Vera is a miracle healing plant for skin grazes, burns and sunburns. I've read websites with users even saying that they applied it to 3rd degree burns that were almost healed and it healed perfectly without any scarring. I had a tiny graze on my wrist and didn't bother applying Aloe gel to it but it healed with a larger, thicker scar than my face which was much worse in terms of grazed skin. Aloe gel is uber amazing.

Unless you're after an Aloe smothered garden, one plant will be plenty and with good care, you will have plenty of Aloe pups to repot, keep or give away.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Container Gardening: Balconies and Courtyards

It's such a thrill to see everything coming to life.

The peach blossoms, the fresh green buds on plants and trees. The new shoots on my plants reaffirms my sanity. I'm sure my neighbours must have viewed my behaviour as bizarre when they peeked through their windows and saw me watering masses of empty pots full of nothing but dirt for several weeks. Until the green shoots appeared suddenly enmasse.

On House Hunting

I recently posted about my friend feeling tired all the time and to be honest, I was feeling along that vein until I started forcing myself to get active with everything on my list of things to do. I spent one recent Saturday going to eight open houses. My mind was saturated with ideas and critiques on how to renovate, what needed to be renovated, what the houses should sell for given their location and conditions. I'm hoping to buy one next year so the pressure is on to gauge the market and the right price to offer vendors.

I built a frame for a canvas painting that had sat on the floor gathering dust for 8 months and I also built bedside tables from an IKEA flatpack. Can't even remember the last time I used my hammer and screwdrivers so frequently to build things. It's not exactly a feminine type of past time!

On Container Gardening

The container garden that I've been pottering on is coming along beautifully. All bulbs and seeds have been planted, my Aloe and her thirteen pups have been repotted. That was a monumental effort. I have around forty potted plants now with several in huge ceramic glazed pots.

Feeling inspired, objects and mishmash lying around the house will soon be turned into pieces of decorative art or ornaments soon. Here's some gorgeous container gardening inspiration for those of you who love to garden but have only a small balcony or courtyard:

From Martha Stewart's site:

Since when did I start developing a fondness for succulents? *Sigh* I can't help but want to buy more and more succulents and I don't even know how or when I started liking those odd, spiky fat, leafy plants.

Stone art inspiration for those with oodles of beach and rock stones lying around in jars with nothing better to do with them:

Along the lines of canvas art inspiration - you don't have to just use photos or buy generic printed stuff from the shops. You can create beautiful one off pieces from fabric or rags that you have lying around the place. Check out this gorgeous canvas bandana art from Apartment Therapy:

Or if you're like me and you have heaps of craft equipment, you can use your punches to create templates which you can use for spray painting, acrylics, oils or whatever takes your fancy. Saw this gorgeous placemat with sakura petals painted on:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Buying Housing When You Can Afford It

There are always going to be people speculating about everything whether that be the weather, the sharemarket or the housing market.

Are we going to twiddle our thumbs and let them dictate our behaviour? Are the economists ever right with their interest rate guess work? Did any of them forecast the GFC or were they gobsmacked and blindsided when the GFC unfolded?

According to Dent's speculations, he recommends Aussies to sit on their hands and twiddle their thumbs for two to three years before buying any property so that the 'deleveraging' and 'property bubble bust' can unfurl and unleash their misery on us poor hapless folks who currently own property or will be soon owning property. Stuff that.

What happens IF instead of property prices crashing 50% as per Dent's speculations, it instead goes up by three years worth of typical inflation? It simply becomes even more unaffordable and most of us will simply be priced out.

Australian Property Monitors reports Sydney's July quarter median house price to be $639,484. On that basis, I'm going to apply the average 3.5% inflation that we've had for the past few years:

End of year 1: $22,381.94 inflation, $661,865.94
End of year 2: $23,165.31 inflation, $685,031.24
End of year 3: $23,976.09 inflation, $709,007.33

That's three years worth of inflation equating to $69,523.34. So what IF the property crash didn't happen and instead, prices went up by inflation? You'd be paying $69,523.34 more and what IF property prices went up by more than inflation?

All these 'what if' scenarios. I could sit here until the cows come home, continuing to speculate but based on history and what older generations keep telling me- we should just buy property whenever we can afford one.

Simple as that. Buy property or stocks when you can afford to. Buy for the long term.

Even for those living in the US or Europe or wherever - if you buy property when you can afford to, does the housing price crash really matter that much? It's providing a roof over your head and if you're a saavy property investor, you would have bought rental property that provides reliable rental income. Just because property prices crash 50% doesn't mean the rental income will correspondingly fall by 50%.

There are no guarantees in life and you could choose to wait, and wait and then wait some more but before you know it, life may have passed you by and you could end up realising that you've been on the sidelines and that nothing is affordable anymore. I'm going to keep tabs on this post and Dent's forecasting and see in three years time what the future holds. Sure I could be crying about having lost 50% but then again, I'll take my chances given our property market history.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Feeling tired all the time

A friend of mine keeps telling me that she is very close to burning out and having a breakdown of some sort. I absolutely commiserate with her because I know how it feels to be overwhelmed, stressed or tired. But then I know how great it feels to be bouncing off the walls with energy. Have you ever felt so tired that all you want to do is sleep all day? We've all been there and done that.

The easy way out is to just sleep all day but that doesn't really solve the tiredness and isn't the solution. It really makes you more tired. The solution is to get more active.

I've been feeling brilliant lately because of a few simple changes in my life. Switched the TV and laptop off. Spent more time exercising (sure it's mild exercise and not exactly getting the heart pumping but it's something), doing a lot more gardening now that the weather is warmer. Hauling 210 kilos worth of potting soil from the shop to home for some gardening. Getting up earlier and staying up late doing household chores. Ticking off lines and lines of my 'to do' list. Spending too much on plants and gardening products but that's a different story :p

Instead of feeling overwhelmed from having too much to do or feeling guilty because of procrastinating - it really helps just simply leaping into the tasks that needs doing and organising them into your calendar. You can feel a sense of purpose, achievement and satisfaction. And oddly enough, enthusiasm and more energised. I stretch my days a lot more now and maybe because we're going into longer summery days but it feels great and I'm getting so much more done in terms of every aspect of my life.

On the weekend, I could have slept in and gotten up late or around midday. I could have enjoyed a lazy lunch out with friends and coffee in the afternoon. But instead I helped my parents with painting and cleaning. I planted raspberry canes and dahlia bulbs. Cleaned all hard surfaces and also caught up with some friends for dinner. It was action packed and it felt great.

Have you got lots of things to do on your to-do list but haven't done them because you're tired or procrastinating? Try turning off the TV and instead of delaying what you know you need to do, set time to do it today or tomorrow. You'll feel great :) It may not save you from having a breakdown or burning out, but you'll find yourself with more energy and that will help you accomplish more.