Working part-time in a full-time job

Welcome 2019! January has been big for Alex and I. We brought the year in quietly with a few technology free days spent at our wedding venue in the middle of country QLD, followed by our big inter-state move to Port Macquarie! We unpacked over a hectic weekend and I started my new lecturing position at the University that Monday. Obviously we’re hoping to be able to extend our weekends a little longer in the future, but at this point in my career I’m not about to give up the amazing opportunities that this full-time role brings. After two weeks working here I’ve been reflecting on the ways in which we can already have what we hope part-time work will bring us, even though with my PhD plus lecturing I’m still working more than full time.

Work Culture
The biggest thing that has become clear over the last few weeks is that the work culture of your community has a really big impact on how you are able to work. It’s not unusual here for someone to come into the office later because the surf was good, or to leave early because they’re spending time with their family. There is no apology given, excuse made, or defence ready that they worked late the previous day. Life outside of work is seen as an equal priority. As someone who has to work very hard not to care what others think, a shared expectation that we also prioritise other areas of life relieves the burden of justifying it ourselves.

Day-Night Routines
I never thought that I would be such a big fan of daylight savings, however I cannot express how important it has been to feeling like I have work-life balance. After I finish work there are a good 3-4 hours of daylight. We have frequently gone to the beach, gone for walks, shopping or watched entire movies without me falling asleep! When it gets dark it’s time to have a shower (in our beautiful new ensuite, I’m in love), brush teeth and get to bed. Daylight savings, in summer at least, gives this wonderful day-night distinction which leaves me feeling like it was actually a weekend day when in reality I spent the first part of the day working!

I’m trying to implement personal morning and night routines that includes physical activity, drinking water and meditation. I’ve been variable in my execution of this, but I definitely feel the positive difference when I do it! I just have to push past the idea that I don’t have time, because in reality when I do these things regularly, it makes me feel like I have MORE time!

Annual Leave
We are so lucky to get 4 weeks annual leave as standard in Australia. There have been lots of studies that show that workers are more effective when they take breaks, however lots of people still save their leave up, ending up being told they have too much and need to use it. I have never had that problem… In fact, already this year we’ve booked in my full contingent of annual leave on trips to Switzerland, France and Vietnam. Four weeks is a long time to be paid not to be at work and should absolutely be taken advantage of! I read an interesting piece (unfortunately I don’t remember where) which highlighted that even though we may like the idea of saving up our leave for a huge overseas trip, it’s designed to be used equally over the year to enhance our ability to work. Although we do like to travel overseas, I do agree that spreading it out means that we can also enjoy our work more, and it takes less time to decompress at the beginning of the holiday.

I’m really trying to consistently strive for this idea of a life outside of work. At present I’m struggling because of the end of my thesis is near and I’m quite keen to submit on time (April) so that I can fully devote myself to the lifestyle of this blog! On the flip side, that means that I’m doing a lot of night and weekend work on my PhD at present, and it’s easy to fall away from the things I’ve learned. All I can do is try though, and believe that the puffy hat will be worth it on graduation day!



Cancelled plans

It’s common to hear that introverts love nothing better than a cancelled plan. Despite (or maybe because of) our normally busy schedule, we love an unexpected quite night cooking together, with nothing to do but perhaps walk down the road to spot possums and frogmouth owls. What we really really hate to do though, is cancel on others. Unfortunately, lately it seems like we’ve been doing that an awful lot. We always feel really terrible when we cancel on our friends or family. If we’ve cancelled on you recently (or ever!) please know that we’re really truly sorry, that we’re not doing so without thought or care, and that if we could have been there we would have!

I wanted to write this post to unpack why we cancel plans and how working towards a four day weekend will help, and to come up with some strategies to minimise cancellations until we get there!

Mental Health: This is the big one that we’re already, and always will be, working on. Anxiety and depression sometimes make it really hard to leave the house. Sometimes just getting out of bed and having a shower is a huge achievement. Deciding on what to wear or whether to take the car or the train can turn into a painful, exhausting process, never mind preplanning how to interact with people when you’re aware of the impact of every movement you make or syllable you utter. Cancelling plans because of mental health is probably just as common as cancelling plans because of a common cold, but most people aren’t as up front about it. It’s not flaky to cancel when you have asthma attacks, nor is it flaky to cancel for an anxiety flare up.

Priorities: The fact of the matter is that we only have so much energy to expend each day/week/month. Some days work takes all this up. Sometimes our partner needs lots of support. Sometimes we’re stressed about finances, or a job change, or climate change or what’s happening on Nauru. The fact of the matter is that we don’t have enough energy to do EVERYTHING and frequently what gets cancelled is not the lowest priority plan, but the plan that’s latest in the day when all our energy has already been expended.

This is the point where we feel like we have greatest capacity to enact change. Our goal of minimising our time spent working is so that we can free up more of our time and energy to spend on our priorities. As we’ve written about, there isn’t enough time at present to do everything that we want to do! In the long term, cutting down on work frees up more time and energy to put into our self-care and our relationships, minimising the need to cancel plans for the sole reason that we just can’t manage to go.

Honesty: In the meantime, Alex and I are really trying to be honest without ourselves and our friends as to plans we are able to commit to. Sometimes we get it right, but we’re still overbooking ourselves. Mostly this is because we have a lot of things that we are trying to prioritise around an already busy work schedule as well as life-admin that includes work on Alex’s next Visa stage and our quest to reduce waste, both physical and financial.

What’s making is harder at the moment is that we have so many things to do and people we want to see before we move. This correlates with finishing my data collection, the usual busyness of Christmas, and the influx of admin a big move creates. The priorities are all high, and we honestly want to do it all. So we’re sorry if we cancel, we love you, and we’re trying our best!



We’re moving! Swapping the big smoke for a sea change

We are excited to announce that we will be relocating to Port Macquarie in the new year!    This move is pretty big for us. Not quite as big as that one time Alex moved across the world to Australia, but big enough that I’m concerned about what happens when NSW plays QLD in the State of Origin. We’re moving from Australia’s third largest city (Brisbane’s population is approaching 2 million) to a coastal town of 45,000 people. With this I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of challenges, but we’re mostly focussed on the many opportunities!

Along with the obvious career opportunity (I’m taking up a position as a lecturer and researcher at Charles Sturt University), we’re so excited to explore a new area and to take the next steps on our way to a more balanced life. Every change brings a wonderful new opportunity to put new routines in place and set new goals and boundaries. Here are the things we’re most excited about, and some that we’re still brainstorming ideas on how to manage.

Location: Nestled half way between Brisbane and Sydney, Port Macquarie is the fastest growing small town in NSW. Although it does have an airport, it’s also only about a 6 hour drive to either Brisbane to the north, or Sydney to the south and 7 hours one way to the Sunshine Coast where my parents are, or to Canberra in the other direction where Micci and Aimee live. We are very much hoping that this driving distance does not become too much of a deterrent, because we are definitely planning to be back and forward a lot! On this note, I’m sure we’ll have a whole other post on choosing a new car to make sure the poor Micra doesn’t decompose around Woop Woop!


We’re most excited about the fact that Port Macquarie is going to be a lot quieter than where we currently live (on a busy road approaching Brisbane’s biggest university). It boasts 17 beautiful beaches on its east and quiet bushland to the west. Although we’re still on the hunt for a home, I’m hoping to be close to the coast so that I can run along the beach, and learn to surf!


Free time: Although this move won’t actually see me work less at this point in time, having the one full-time job will free up more of my mental energy, reduce travel time to different locations, and help streamline my work routine. My PhD isn’t quite done, and I’m lucky that this job includes time to complete my studies as part of my role. Alex is lucky enough to be negotiating a new remote work contract with his current job, and so will be working from home- completely removing a commute! With this in mind we’ll be able to start implementing some more of our four-day-weekend plans!

Active Transport & Recreation: Keeping a regular exercise routine has been the biggest challenge of splitting my energy and attention so many ways whilst I’ve been working so many different jobs. I love to exercise and really feel it when I’m not moving my body regularly. This move to Port Macquarie will position us really well to do things like walk on the beach, hike, camp, swim, and take up surfing in our free time. There are also some great bike trails through nature reserves that I’m hoping our house will link to so that I can ride my bike to work every day.


Local produce: This is something that we’re not too sure about. We’re written extensively on our goal to buy local produce and move away from the big supermarkets. Our research has shown that there are a lot of fresh produce markets so we’re hoping to get into the routine of using these exclusively for our produce once we move. Hopefully their location is convenient and their produce excellent because I know these are the two things that will keep us coming back!

Friends: Alex and I are both sad that we won’t have such easy access to our friends anymore! We are planning on finding a 3 bedroom house so that we always have a spare room (plus a home office for Alex), and we definitely want to welcome as many guests as possible! From experience, I do know that long-distance friendships take a lot of work. We’re hoping that our beautiful location will help lure our city-slicking friends down for regular coastal breaks! Regardless, I’m well acquainted with Skype and I know that with a little effort, friendships can flourish no matter how far away you are from each other.


All in all, we’re so excited to start this next chapter of our life! For all our friends and family, whether you’re in QLD, ACT, VIC or overseas, please come visit us! We would love to have you any time!

Working less means working… less.

There is a reality to our goal of working three days a week that I don’t like. Although it’s an obvious reality, it’s one I’m struggling to come to terms with. To work less, I’ll actually have to work less

We’ve told you all a million times about the wonderful reasons why we want to structure our lives in a four-day-weekend model. But I’ve never spoken about the downside. I LOVE my work. Not just in an ‘I enjoy going to work to see my work friends’ kind of way, but in a passionate, meaningful, changing peoples’ lives way. Recently, (well it was almost three years ago but it feels like yesterday!) I took on a PhD and I found a whole new branch of work that I love, teaching. Unfortunately this complicates the process of working less, as I’m now working as a clinical physiotherapist, teaching at the university, undertaking my own research, as well as tutoring on the side. To work less, I’m going to have to give some of this up.



I have also realised that, despite loving routine and stability, I also get bored easily. This shouldn’t be a surprise considering that as a teenager I was constantly cutting/colouring my hair and as an adult I’ve not stayed in a job for more than two years. I always need a new large-scale challenge to keep my mind fresh and passion ignited. In that respect, clinical work is wonderful in that every child has their own unique goals and challenges. My role in supporting their development is different in every case and I love teasing about the intricacies of how I can make a difference to their lives. The problem with clinical work is that as a ground level therapist, you experience the same systematic barriers every day. Funding is hard to get, there is limited access to appropriate sports activities for children with disabilities and cross-industry communication is limited by differences in professional jargon. It’s not in my nature to work around these barriers, instead I’m compelled to do something about them.

Which leads me to my research career where every discovery leads to the identification of a new barrier to break down. I love this challenge of unravelling knotty problems. The reality of taking on research though, is that I’m left with only one day a week to work with my kids. And unfortunately, when you’ve only got one day a week to devote to the work, it does get repetitive, because I simply do not have the time to be as innovative as if I were full time. Luckily, my PhD is wrapping up early next year. I’ve just got two more road trips with my Dad up to Rockhampton, a whole lot of data to analyse, 4 journal articles to write, and, oh yeah, my thesis to pull together! Once that’s out of the way I’ll work on how to do everything without doing everything

Defining Success

When we think about what people say they want out of life, there are words that repeat themselves. These words have a way of defining our life trajectories, sometimes without our mindful intent. Language is incredibly important in shaping our attitudes, values and beliefs (who said we’d never use discourse in real life?), and the constant repetition of certain words and phrases is a powerful contributor to our understanding of what it means to live a successful life.


Our plan looks different to a perfect cookie cutter successful life. It will probably look more like the biscuits mum made, rolled by hand and smooshed down with a fork so that they’re delicious and squishy in the middle and cracked and crunchy on the outside. Working part time means that we won’t be rich, we won’t have a big house that we own by age 30, we won’t reach the pinnacle of our career potential and we will always have to think before we buy something to ensure it aligns with our priorities. However, I feel that’s not too much to give up considering what we gain. In light of this, I wanted to explore what success means, the words we associate with success, and the alternatives that Alex and I want to pursue in our quest to squeeze as much as possible out of our lives together.

Success (noun): The accomplishment of an aim or purpose

I think it is reasonable to say that everyone wants to be successful. As much as success can be defined on an individual level (technically it could be any aim or purpose) the word holds a particular meaning in society. We can see this by how the definition of success varies between cultures. Where the West tends to define success in terms of wealth and power, the East values the achievement of harmony and enlightenment.

The widely understood definition of success focusses on on how your achievements are valuable to others. While not a completely negative view, this means that using the word success to define our goals in life without further analysis can be problematic. It is why we see many people who are ‘successful’ completely overhaul their lives. We hear stories of people who leave successful careers to pursue their creative passion, or leave a life of high society to live the simple life in the country. The moral of these stories is usually that success does not equal happiness.

Happy (adjective): Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment

It is incredibly popular say that the goal in life is to be happy. I, for one, am a happiness junkie, and tend to fall into the trap of thinking that more happiness is better. The reality is that life is full of meaningful, rich emotions. If Inside Out taught us anything, it is that sadness is a really, really important part of life, and pushing it away doesn’t make life better, but rather, prevents you from exploring really important life experiences. The broad spectrum of human emotion is a huge gift, and one which I don’t think we truly appreciate.  I watched a brilliant TedTalk this morning on the importance of regret and why aiming to live life without regret is a huge problem, and what we have to gain in really feeling these kinds of negative emotions.

Feeling happy feels good, but it is a simple emotion. It sits inside you like warm yellow sunshine. But it’s not joy, bubbling up like champagne trying to spill out of a bottle, or hilarity, bouncing around like 1000 brightly coloured bouncy balls released from a height. Happiness isn’t acceptance, that sinks into the ground like a week of soaking rain, and it can’t wrap around a painful break like sadness does. Happiness is not necessarily the ‘best’ of the emotions, even if it is the emotional equivalent of gold glitter.

Instead- Emotion (adjective): A strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. 

We want to be able to deeply experience the tapestry of emotions life offers. I’m slowly opening my eyes to the idea that all emotions are there for important reasons. Riding their waves, rather than stomping them down, is a far more positive way to experience my life. Working part-time gives us more time to process the emotions that we experience. How many times have I pushed an emotion down thinking ‘I don’t have time for this right now’? I want to be able to sit with a melancholy mood and look over old photographs- then call my brother to say that I miss him. I want to be able to go running at 10am to let out my frustration, returning all cried out and ready to tackle new challenges. I want to let my anger fuel letters to my local politician and campaign for real change in our world. I believe in the power of my emotions to carry my life forward in meaningful ways, and I want to grant myself the time to experience that.

Accomplished (adjective): Highly trained or skilled in a particular activity.

We tend to look upon others’ lives through a lens of their accomplishments. J. K. Rowling is a celebrated author, Professor Ian Frazer created the cervical cancer vaccine, Sarah down the road is really good at playing the piano. The significant thing about being accomplished is that to ‘matter‘ the activity needs to be a) recognisable, b) socially well regarded, and c) you need to attain a certain skill level greater than the average person.

Being an accomplished person brings to mind an 1800s noble lady who can make polite conversation in English, French and Latin, dance with grace, and knows how to accept a gift of flowers from an admiring gentleman. Today’s idea of being accomplished is different, but in no way less excessive. To be considered simply a functioning human we’re expected to have a certain level of education, to hold a full time job, to socialise with a large enough group of friends and to have certain hobbies that don’t include binging on Netflix. These do not classify you as accomplished, despite the fact that people all over the world live their version of a successful life, are happy, and feel successful with far less.

Accomplishment occurs when you achieve MORE than what is deemed appropriate for the average human. Usually, you become accomplished either by an abundance of natural talent (which generally doesn’t translate into improved quality of life, because that’s just who you are) or, a very large amount of blood, sweat and tears. The second is more likely to bring you positive QoL increases, however accomplishment for the sake of accomplishment will just leave you drained and soggy. The goal of accomplishment may bring you prosperity, but without meaning, what’s the point?

Instead- Adventurous (adjective): Willing to take risks or to try out new methods, ideas, or experiences.

There are so many amazing things in this world and I am so excited to give a lot of them a try. We love to travel, and we have so many places that we want to go. Working part time gives us more opportunities to jump in the car for a road trip where we can wake up in our swag next to bandicoots and wallabies. It gives us the flexibility to spend less of our time on one thing (work) and more time in different environments that offer new experiences.

In my life I’ve done a lot of things that I’m not necessarily good at, but enjoy. I’ve run (slow) marathons, started learning French, lovingly sewed wonky  baby blankets and cooked simple, yummy meals that we’ve enjoyed together at our little kitchen table. The experience of the new and the different offer something that dedication to mastery cannot. This is not to say that we shouldn’t dedicate ourselves to something that we love, but rather that we do have a choice and for us the lure of an adventure is far greater than the idea that for something to be worthwhile you have to be good at it.

Prosperous (adjective): The state of being successful in material terms; flourishing financially.

This one’s the kicker. When I think of the word prosperous, I think of an ideal situation. For me that’s loads of greenery, a quiet environment, a few little luxuries and time to spend doing the things I love, with the people I love. But that’s not what being prosperous means. In reality, having the money to purchase what we want, very rarely translates into actually getting what we truely want. This is because human beings are very bad at actually knowing what we want and what will make us happy. Wealthy people tend to have more luxuries, but take less time to enjoy them. After the point of being financially sound, having more money does not translate into an improved life. Therefore, the idea of prosperity, is rather the false hope that having more money will change things. Your last raise probably didn’t make you happier, so why do you expect your next one to?

Romantic (adjective): Conducive to or characterized by the expression of love.

No matter what we do, I always want to do it with an expression of love. Not just in our relationship with each other, but with our friends, with our family, with how we use our natural resources, and how we care for our home and future. Romanticism gets a bad wrap as gifts of flowers and chocolates, but just like self-care doesn’t just mean bubble baths and wine, romance has wider scope.

To us, romance means having fewer luxuries so that we can work less and spend more time with each other. It means checking in on a sick friend, sometimes just showing up to drop off a care package. It means composting so that we can reduce our personal contribution to landfill so that the world is healthier for a future little one. There are so many little ways that we express love for each other, for ourselves, for our friends and family, and for the world. Personally, this love is not best served at work, and so I want more non-work time to dedicate to romanticism.

Working part time flies in the face of conventional success. It will leave us with less money and more challenges in career progression. However, what it does do is provide us with opportunities to be present, to experience emotion fully, to live meaningfully and to act with love. That’s the kind of life we want to live.






Perception is Everything

Now that I’ve been working part time for a few months of my own volition (and not combined with regimented academic pursuits), I thought I’d take a moment to write about how I’ve found the experience so far.  How it’s been going, how others tend to react, and some speculation on what the future holds.  Although in regard to the first point, the lack of recent content on this blog probably tells you a lot about our free time lately…

When my visa happily advanced to the next stage in February and I was no longer required to be enrolled in school, I made the decision to put uni on hold for the moment to focus on working a bit more and on life in general.  I think I’d gotten to a point where university was too much of a mental burden when combined with everything else we have going on, and after realising I’d been doing coursework in some form or other for almost a decade I decided I’d had enough for now.  Not to mention the exorbitant fees I pay as an expat which could probably fund an entire village’s plumbing system in Tanzania.  This isn’t to say I will never go back; I do keep telling myself I really ought to make an effort to finish my degree.  However I know I also run the risk of constantly telling myself I’ll re-enroll ‘next year’, watching the calendar flip over until I wake up as a 70-year old and finally decide it’s just not happening.  Alternately, I have enough self awareness to know I might tomorrow decide I’d like to subject myself to some new educational turmoil and begin a Master of Anthropology degree.

old grad.jpg
I’ll make the tuition back at trivia nights.

But working part time because I want to as opposed to being forced to has made a pretty big difference.  At the moment I work the equivalent of about three days per week, although I am looking to increase that slightly.  One surprising (or not) thing I’ve discovered is that having the potential to make more money really makes you want more money.  I’ve also tried to use some of my new-found free time to take on a lot of the household duties.  Gina still works well over a 40 hour week between her research, part time job, and work at the university, and I would be lying if I said my abundance of free time didn’t cause a small amount of resentment.  She would never criticise me for being lazy or not pulling my weight, I think it’s more a frustration that she also hasn’t reached this stage of work-life balance.  In response I try to take over some of the ‘life admin’ chores; I tend to do most of the cleaning and a lot of the meal prep, as well as running errands and annoying tasks like insurance renewals (made harder by our extreme aversion to the telephone).

This situation may continue even past next year when Gina finishes her PhD.  I can comfortably say that barring any major financial disasters I will never regularly work full time again in my life, but in her case there is a strong likelihood that the opportunities she receives after her doctorate will involve a major time commitment.  That will be fine for a while because Gina really loves what she does and is super passionate about her field, but after a couple years’ of experience (and probable birth of offspring) I think she’ll be ready to move on to the next stage of our master plan.  By then my uni loans will be well and truly paid off (or the US education system will have collapsed) and we can embark on our new mission of carting a small child to places where they probably don’t belong.

I’m sure there’s a baby gate.

I should also mention that other people’s responses to my decision to work part time has been generally very positive.  Very rarely I’ll get a look of bemused disbelief that we could ever survive on part time salaries (‘How can you possibly make it without the quadruple-ply toilette paper?!  I could never…’), but normally what we get when we explain our plans are statements of envy from people wishing they could do the same thing.  Our response is usually to say that anyone can do it with a bit of budgeting skill, we’re not exceptionally blessed with unique opportunities, but it seems most people are fully entrenched in their routines of working to pay for things they’ve convinced themselves are necessities, and that is a very hard mindset to overcome.  We understand habits are hard to break, but we get so much fulfillment from having extra time to ourselves that I hope we can convince even a few of our friends to look at their lives in a different light.

I did also go through a brief period of having to reflect on my self-esteem as someone who is never going to progress up any kind of career ladder.  Tradition has done an excellent job of convincing us all that our worth is directly tied to the money we make and the prestige of our job titles, and that’s been a stigma I’ve had to work hard at overcoming.  As someone who is likely to work doing various things on an ad-hoc basis, I had to quickly understand that I was never going to be the one with the named parking space and corner office.  But I’ve reached a stage where I realise those things only really matter to certain people, and not myself, my partner, or indeed much of our friendship group.  I find a lot of ‘value’ in the fact that I’m carving out a bit of a niche for myself with the type of work that I do, that allows me the freedom to do things like work from home and make my own hours a bit.  And after discussing a few of my aforementioned misgivings with a Gen-Xer (and successful business executive) I know, their response was ‘A lot of people in my position would give anything to be in yours.’  Just food for thought…

The next step for me now I think, while I continue to support Gina as she finishes up her research, is to start getting back into some hobbies and projects that I’ve had in the back of my mind.  At first it seemed like I was so obsessed with the idea that free time is ultra-limited that I tried to squeeze the maximum amount of laziness and relaxing into every spare moment, ever-conscious of the thought that the next work day was always looming ahead.  Working without educational commitments, and with a more flexible schedule, I’ve finally started to understand that I do have the time to commit to serious endeavours which are just plain fun, and not meant to progress my career or pad out my resume.  Because really, at the end of the day I didn’t move to a tropical island to spend all my time sitting in an office or watching documentaries on Netflix.

Scared of the dark

One of the reasons that I am excited about the prospect of working part time is the amount of daylight hours that this will give me to live my life. There are so many things that I love to do that are better in the sunlight! Some of these include running up Mt Cootha, or walking to the store rather than taking the car.  It’s much nicer to read a book in a park in the sunshine, or watch the clouds after a picnic lunch.

But you know what else? Even if I wanted to go for a run along the river after dinner, or lay in the park and watch the stars in the early evening, those opportunities are not safe for me, because I am a woman. I wanted to write a long post about this. I wanted to try and explain to those who don’t yet get it, why it’s so important to realise that women and gender diverse people deserve to move in the world in the same way as men. I wanted to convince those people that they have a role in making that happen. But it’s all been said so many times before. What I can add here is just my small voice saying #metoo.

I’ve been followed, I’ve been verbally harassed, I’ve been watched, and leered at. I’ve crossed the road, walked friends to their cars, changed my route home. I’ve spent money I didn’t have on a cab,  I’ve avoided parks, and car parks, and train stations at night. I know how to make pleasant conversation with a man who may or may not mean me ill, so as to walk on the tightrope between antagonising them by being ‘rude’ and encouraging them by ‘flirting’. I know how to walk with purpose so that I don’t look like an easy victim.

Women aren’t being cavalier about our safety. We don’t want to run naked through a park at 2am. We plan our routes, our eye contact, our pleasantly neutral expressions, our phone battery, our weekly budget, our after work activities, our transport home, our running schedule, our clothes, our hairstyles, our keychains, our shoes and our entire lives around the likelihood of being attacked at any particular time. And if you think that sounds excessive, speak to a woman about it.

Working part-time is a privilege that many people do not have. Women shouldn’t have to avoid work opportunities (including those with schedules like the late Eurydice Dixon), spend more money on taxis (where we still are not safe from harassment, fear or assault), or limit our recreational activities simply because we aren’t safe to move around in this world. I think Alex’s eyes have been opened by the number of times I’ve said that there is no way I would have walked down a certain path, been in a certain area, or done a certain activity if he’d not been with me. Spoiler, it’s basically every time we go out at night together. Women shouldn’t need a chaperone to exist in the world.

If you want to help, talk to men about respect (don’t even think about saying #notallmen. Men are resoundingly responsible for violence against ANY gender and thus also hold the ability to fix the problem, especially those who wouldn’t ever act like that). Call out your friends or colleagues when they are disrespectful. Educate yourself- learn about enthusiastic consent, read Schrodinger’s Rapist (or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced), share this clip on consent being like tea. Ask women and gender diverse people about their experiences. Talk to us, but for goodness sake don’t tell us not to go out alone at night, or to keep ourselves safe. We know you want us to be safe, but the reality is that we are not. And we are already painfully aware of how unsafe our gender makes us.

Full Time Equivalent: Our FTE as a working couple

I was recently speaking to a psychiatrist whose eyes lit up when I mentioned the fact that both Alex and I want to work part-time. What followed was a (is there a nice way to say rant?) ‘discussion’ on the fact that up until the 1970s, in the majority of families, only one adult worked full time. Therefore the current norm of two full time working adults in a household is 1) not necessary, and 2) unlikely to be sustainable. My following conversation with Alex highlighted that a ‘normal’ working week is only a social construct. During the industrial revolution, working 60 hours a week was normal. Back in caveman times, they estimate that 20-30 hours per week was dedicated to ‘work’ (hunting, repairing said cave etc). So the standard two person, 40 hour work week is open to interpretation, and more importantly, modification.

In terms of my first point, our idea of what we can live happily on is elastic. Most people tend to spend their take home pay, no matter how big or small it is, and have difficulty thinking of how they could live on less, unless they’re forced to. When we get a pay rise, it is common to see a slow creep in day-to-day costs to meet this new threshold, without a comparable increase in joy. This is why research shows that there is a minimum threshold where money CAN make you happier (e.g. having enough money for comfortable housing, food and leisure) but above that, there is no difference until more money actually makes you LESS happy.

Here, the concept of minimalism intersects. The continual quest to buy the next shiny new product is not one that is making most people happy. Most people could cut their spending on ‘special’ items in half with very little impact (except to their bank balance!).  except potentially an increase in happiness from taking more care and attention in the things that they do buy. Minimalism asks that items in your life should have a distinct purpose (that is not done by something else you have) and bring you joy. I used to shop as almost a hobby- I liked finding things that were pretty, and cheap, and bringing them home to my shrine of ‘things that Georgina likes’. However in the end, having too many things means I appreciate them less. Now I like to buy things when we really need them. We buy them second hand, which sometimes means we search for a little while for them, and really appreciate them when they are in our lives.

If you’re living like this, you’re going to be buying less. This is so much more sustainable for our environment, but also means that you spend FAR less money, without sacrificing quality of life. I’ve started to think about things in terms of how many hours I would work to pay for it. Is a dress worth two hours spent cycling along the river with my Dad? Is that candle worth snuggling in bed for thirty minutes before work with Alex? Usually its an emphatic no, because I value my life experiences far above physical items. Therefore, if you’re spending less, and valuing life more, two people working for the majority of your waking hours makes very little sense. Unless you have debt (which we do, and are reducing as quickly as possible) or have expensive things that truly bring you joy (for us this is travel!), working more than what you need to sustain a good lifestyle is counterproductive.

My second point was that working full time is unsustainable. Back in the ‘good old 50s’ when women stayed at home, duties were clearly delineated between home duties and bringing home the bacon. Both had full time work, despite only one getting paid. Nowadays, it is accepted that both partners (regardless of gender or sexuality) will work full time and participate in domestic chores (even if this is still largely the domain of women).  Essentially, this has added an extra 38 working hours to every week. It’s not that it can’t be done, but that it can’t be done whilst also maintaining relationships, physical and mental health, a clean home, organised life admin, and acting in line with moral and ethical values. I write about this here, where I calculate the hours needed per day to sustain health, which doesn’t leave enough for a full time job! I realise that I am writing from an extremely privileged position as a middle class, highly educated professional. I know that there are situations (such as in single parent families) where full time work is necessary. My point still stands in these cases that in doing that, we lose out somewhere else (this is where I could discuss the importance of universal basic income, but that’s a chat for another day).

So where does that leave us? Have we mentioned that we’d both like to work part time?


Grocery Grumbles

I am once again reviewing where we shop, why we shop there, and how we could do better. It’s a frequent activity of mine, because we’re not currently acting in a way which is consistent with our values. It’s been the one thing we’ve struggled to change this year, so I thought I’d walk through my analysis of the pros and cons of different styles of grocery shopping and where we’re currently at, and moving towards.

The Supermarket Duopoly- Coles and Woolworths
We currently spend the majority of our grocery budget at Coles. What these places do really well is disconnect you from the reasons that you might not want to shop there. Advertising focusses on Aussie farmers, you don’t see any waste in the stores and the lure of cost and convenience is hard to resist when you’re not confronted with the facts when you shop.


  • Cheap- especially if you buy home brand and discounted items (the little meat we do buy is usually reduced by 20-80% which we then freeze)
  • Range- Each shop is laid out in the same way and you know what to expect. You can almost always get exactly what you need in one place.
  • Convenience- there are stores everywhere and the online shopping with pickup just 25m from our house is ridiculously easy, especially when we’ve been away for the weekend.
  • We earn flybuys points which we then use to reduce future grocery bills. This includes playing our two accounts against each other to increase the targeted offers we receive. I’ll post about this another time.
  • Coles is the largest corporate supporter of RedKite- a wonderful charity supporting families of children with cancer that a dear friend works at. Check out the great work that RedKite does and consider your tax time donation plan!.


  • Farmers receive less pay for the produce they provide due to the bargaining power of large corporations
  • Huge amounts of food waste occur in production due to produce appearance standards
  • Large amounts of plastic packaging, especially for things which don’t need to be (cucumbers do NOT need to be encased in plastic)
  • A large proportion of items are imported from overseas, contributing to pollution through food miles
  • Disconnection from where our food is coming from, how it’s grown/made and what ‘normal’ produce looks like
  • A chore to shop, rather than enjoyable

Farmers Markets: Kelvin Grove, Rocklea, Brisbane City

This is where we want to spend most of our grocery money! We love going to the markets on a weekend and it feels so wholesome to wander amongst the fresh produce, smelling the bundles of herbs and grabbing a box of too ripe tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce with. At the moment though, we’re exhausted by the weekend and it’s hard to get up and get out to the market when we just want to have a morning where we stay in bed. Our plan for when we get back from our honeymoon is for Alex to pick up our produce at the city markets on a Wednesday afternoon after he finishes work. We still want to go on weekends together, but until we have more time this might be the compromise that works!


  • Fresher produce
  • Connecting with some growers
  • More money goes to farmers
  • Better produce for the same price/ cheaper to buy produce ‘seconds’ for sauces, jams and smoothies
  • Local and seasonal produce which is better for the environment
  • Less waste as ‘seconds’ and juicing/cooking quality produce available for sale
  • Less packaging- although some still sold in bags, we find these easy to avoid
  • A fun outing/activity to go together- food (BAGELS!), music, political tents etc


  • Inconvenient- these run on certain days at certain times and are further away than the grocery store, although only by 10 minutes
  • Range- they don’t stock pantry items so we end up going to a grocery store as well

Alternate supermarket options: Aldi, IGA, Fooworks etc

We only occasionally shop at these places as they’re less convenient and harder to avoid packaging, especially with produce. We do find that Aldi has some good products at low prices though, so may be part of our post honeymoon plans alongside the markets.


  • More local community connection at places like IGA
  • Some very cheap products, especially at ALDI
  • Still moderately convenient


  • More expensive on a whole when considering rewards programs
  • Packaging (especially Aldi) is a huge issue with many more overly packaged produce items
  • Still a disconnection from farms
  • Large number of imported goods

Fruit and Veggie boxes/coops- Foodconnect

We’ve looked at these and they seem fantastic for using in-season, local produce. Unfortunately though they are more expensive, especially considering that you can’t choose exactly what you get so I foresee much more waste and less effective meal planning.


  • Boxes chosen for you and you don’t have to think about it
  • Locally grown, can be organic
  • Seconds are available which reduces waste
  • Building community connections to improve sustainability in a circular economy
  • Convenient delivery locally or to your home
  • Reduced packaging


  • More expensive
  • You don’t get a choice what is included so may increase food waste
  • More difficult to meal plan
  • Pantry items quite a lot more expensive to purchase this way

“Naked”/ Bulk bin stores: Naked Foods

We want to give Naked Foods a go for some of our pantry items. It’s a lot more expensive so I imagine we’ll try and only get items that we can’t find at the market, make ourselves or find packaged in paper elsewhere.


  • BYO container- no plastic waste for consumer
  • High quality/ gourmet pantry items
  • Can buy as much as you need


  • Much more expensive!
  • Don’t have budget/ basic options
  • Can be more time intensive to buy due to packing in own containers & unfamiliar layout
  • Going to multiple places to buy items such as produce

Once again this debate comes down to the fact that to do what aligns with our values and brings us joy, we need more time. When we have more than two days off per week to do all our life admin, chores and relaxation, we’ll be able to turn chores into outings and vote with our dollars to protect the environment. Until then, we’ll do the best we can with what we have.

A life’s work

We spend a lot of time thinking about what we want to accomplish in our life. As kids, we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up. In school, it is what are you going to do after graduation? The conversation is squarely centred around careers, with little, if any acknowledgement that what you do to make money makes up only a fraction of the way you spend your time, energy and enthusiasm in life. In reality, our jobs make up only a small portion of how we spend our time, and they don’t even have to be 9-5, 5 days a week (shock!). We put way too much pressure on ourselves to fit our worldly hopes and dreams into a job description that someone is willing to pay us for. It’s definitely a bonus, but it’s not a requirement.

happy.pngA meaningful career
I am extremely lucky that I work in a career which is immensely rewarding. Working with children with disabilities and their families to help them to achieve their goals is, in my opinion, one of the most joyful and enjoyable ways to make a living. It is a privilege to be invited into families to share in the challenges, the successes, and in simple, day-to-day life.

However, as amazing as my job is, I don’t believe that my life’s work lies only here. Just as the above quote indicates that “happy” may be the goal of an adult life, I want my life’s work to be to increase the net joy experienced by people I come in contact with. I want to apply kindness liberally, and to build people up so that they feel able to further spread kindness and joy to others. Some of this I do at work, it’s also something I feel strongly about doing in lots of different ways.

Just a job
I know that many people do not find meaning in their jobs. I am in an extremely privileged position where I had family support, time, money and a set of personal skills that allowed me to train as a Physiotherapist. Alex has also come from a lot of privilege, however we see our careers quite differently. Alex likes his coworkers, is good at his work, and appreciates the pay check. But for him, it doesn’t fill his desire to save the environment, or expand his already impressive understanding of culture, politics and history. For him, this has to come from the times when he’s not working. Honestly, it takes way more dedication and persistence to commit yourself to an activity or calling when nobody is taking attendance or paying you a wage to turn up! Your career doesn’t have to be your life’s work, but that does mean you’ll have to find it elsewhere.

Balance (again)
Although my job certainly gives me opportunity to foster joy and spread kindness, I also acknowledge that at some points, it has reduced my capacity to do so. When I am tired, overwhelmed, anxious or otherwise unwell, it is impossible to cultivate the friendly joyous attitude I want to imprint on the world. When my workload is too high , when I havn’t had a holiday, when my hard work doesn’t seem to make a difference or bureaucracy gets in the way of getting things done, I’m way more likely to be cranky, irritable, lazy and lacklustre. When I’m working too hard or too long, not only am I less efficient, creative and effective in my work, but my friends and family bare the brunt of my exhaustion and deal with either a irritable snapping turtle of anger, or a pitiful, crying ball of patheticness. Either way, it’s not helping the goal of improved net joy.

I don’t believe that everything we do in life has to contribute to our life’s work. I recently spent two days in bed watching the first season of Suits. We frequently have hobbies, or jobs, that serve a single purpose. They might bring in the money, or they might contribute to self-care, or they might just be fun. I do, however, think it’s important to recognise what you want your life’s work to be, and think about what contributes to it. For me, although work contributes hugely, I can be way more efficient at achieving my goals at work AND at home if I have time to look after myself, and to dedicate to my relationships. That’s where part-time work sits for me, in allowing me time to be more me, and build more joy in my life, and the lives of the web of people surrounding me.