Monthly Archives: April 2015

April Happiness Project- Kikki K Happiness workshop*

Ok so I could pretend that I had always intended for this to be my scheduled activity for April when I outlined my happiness project in January. But that would be dishonest. I didn’t have the workshop scheduled until about a fortnight ago, although I received the voucher for Christmas so it was definitely well and truly on my list of things to do.

The truth is, the first two months haven’t gone exactly to plan and a combination of running out of steam (ie time, energy, motivation) and being disorganised had part of me thinking “screw this” but then another part of me saying “no hang on, why not just make the workshop your Happiness activity for this month?”.

So on Thursday last week, Mr L made sure he got home a bit early from work and I ventured into Auckland’s shopping district to attend my Kikki K Happiness workshop.

Kikki K run a series of workshops with various themes- including Organisation, Goals, Happiness and a new one, Mindfulness. They run for an hour and cost $50 (in NZ) and there’s the lure of a free (well, an included) gift and a discount on all items in store on the night. You know what the gift is ahead of time so if you wanted to, you could go into it with an idea of the content although I must admit, I didn’t bother doing any research and just went off the description of the workshop and also the fact that one of my themes/interests for this year is Happiness.

So at the start of the workshop were given our own Kikki K Happiness journal to take home and this formed the basis for most of the points of discussion. The session was led by Michelle, who leads all the workshops in Auckland and Hamilton and started doing so (I think) just this year. She was a graphic designer in a former life until deciding she was unhappy in her job and needed to do something different. I’m unsure if she has any formal training in Life Coaching or motivational speaking (or in fact, if you necessarily need any) but she certainly had the makings of a good facilitator for this kind of session. I felt she was a little nervous, although maybe if I hadn’t known she was new to the job I wouldn’t have picked up on this.

The other workshop participants were all female and all appeared to be twenty-somethings and early thirty-somethings, with the exception of two high school girls, (who were very sweet!)

The basic concepts discussed were not new to me, which didn’t actually matter, it was good to have them reinforced. Interestingly, Kikki K sell Gretchen Rubin’s books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, and a large part of the workshop (and in fact the diary) seemed to be inspired by her own Happiness Project. I found this a little distracting, partly because I’d already made my own impression of her book, partly because I wondered if she was receiving any commission and also because I would have liked to add a couple more references and resources to my happiness bibliography. But it didn’t take over the workshop and given that much of my own Happiness inspiration has been derived from her writing, I didn’t really feel I could complain too much.

The main themes/messages were:

  1.  Being happy is an active choice we make on a day-to-day basis
  2. Taking pleasure in the (often simple) things already present in your life is far more effective than dreaming of how future big goals are going to make you happy
  3. Reflecting on what makes you happy, what has made you happy in the past and being grateful for those things is vital for Happiness
  4. Accepting yourself and your own likes & dislikes in also crucial, rather than trying to conform to others’ ideas of what should make you happy

The diary is essentially in two sections- the first covers general reflective exercises covering mainly what I’ve mentioned above, the second is a more specific tool for analysing what would make your life happier and coming up with some steps to achieve those things, with a month-by-month plan. In other words, your own happiness project.

I left the workshop feeling relaxed and, happily, happy. It was hard to say if the workshop and the reminders it provided me re my own happiness project were the main reason for that, or if I just felt like I’d had a mental break after a particularly taxing few days with the kids. Probably a bit of both.

So my April happiness project has become to complete the diary exercises and take another look at my own happiness project and see if I can do a bit of a better job than I managed in February and March!

*Much as I would love to be endorsed by a company like Kikki K, I attended this workshop as a paying customer

Zero Waste Update

Well, it’s been ­­­3 weeks since my Zero Waste aspirations began. So far I’ve been quite excited and impressed by the changes we’ve made and by how easy they have been.

So far we’ve managed to:

Refuse plastic bags for our bread and bakery products. This has simply been a matter of requesting a paper bag for the (numerous!) hot cross buns we buy (“Yes, of course no problem!” has been the unanimous reply) and buying our bread from the pick-your-own section of the supermarket. I’ve stopped buying sliced bread as I couldn’t see how, even from Baker’s Delight, this was going to work in a paper bag. Instead I slice my own- I thought the kids would protest about the uneven, more rustic slices, but actually, they haven’t.

Refuse or reduce other packaging

  • Soap- we’re phasing out liquid soap and I’ve ordered some wooden soap dishes online to make it less messy (although to be honest, it’s not too bad but a soap dish which allows the soap to drain and dry between uses should also extend the life of the bar).
  • Bin Inn– our patronage continues and I have bought sugar, washing up liquid, laundry powder, baking soda and buckwheat there. I was excited to see they sell honey and golden syrup as well as canola oil (but alas no olive oil). The other very exciting find was their peanut butter machine- you take your own tub, select smooth, medium or crunchy, and let the machine grind your peanut butter straight into your tub! The kids loved it and so did I!

Ecostore products

  • The toilet brush is great, as toilet brushes go. Not only does it look quite classy (if it’s possible for a toilet brush to look classy) but the bristles are nice and flexible so it cleans brilliantly, and the kids haven’t given it a second glance- I was worried with it not being enclosed that they might want to play with it.
  • I’ve only just finished my regular shampoo (I realised my hair only really needed washing once a week while I’m pregnant- it seems much drier plus I am not exercising so it doesn’t get sweaty), so have only used the Ecostore stuff once. It seemed ok, not very lathery, but I’m sure lather is just some marketing trick to make you feel like you’re getting really clean.
  • Also loving the string bags and no one at the supermarket has had an issue with me buying my fruit and veg in them.
  • The free soap I got dries my skin a bit so I might try another variety next time.
  • I haven’t tried the sanitary products yet.

Dog poo– most of this has gone over the fence with no complaints from the neighbours (human or bovine.)

Bins– I have also cut down on bin liners (we used plastic shopping bags) by not bothering to line the nappy bin in the garage- it stinks anyway so what does it matter- and chucking as much as possible straight in the wheelie bin rather than into a house bin first and filling up a plastic bag. A bin liner now lasts 2 or 3 days, instead of less than 1. This creates the illusion of less rubbish, certainly, as everything packs in tighter, but I like to think we actually have been throwing less out too.

Deodorant- the bicarb/cornflour/coconut oil concoction became difficult to use as the weather has got cooler, as it’s not as soft and easy to apply. I could add more coconut oil I suppose but I’ve actually taken to just using cornstarch (J&J at the moment but I am going to try and move to plain kitchen cornstarch) and perfume with no complaints (from myself or others!)

Picking up rubbish at the beach– I felt like a total hippy but I picked up a small bag (yes ok it would have been better to use a bucket) of rubbish- cigarette butts, wrappers, bits of plastic etc at the beach yesterday.

Resuable coffee cup– we have started taking them out when we get a takeaway coffee (which is actually not all that often anyway). Even Mr L was on board with this today.

Marmalade– I made a big batch of marmalade for the grand total of about $7 this week- made the equivalent of about 5 jars from the shops. Of course it has been bottled in reused jam jars I’d been saving.

My next goal is to source and try out the following:

  •  Shampoo bars- dog & human
  • Bamboo shower puff
  • Bamboo toothbrush
  • Bamboo babywipes
  • Toilet rolls made from recycled paper AND free of plastic packaging
  • Containers for meat from shops etc

 We’ll see how we go!