African resolutions

I didn’t make any specific New Years resolutions this year. Perhaps because I was working New Years Eve and New Years Day. Also because I believe any time is a good time to start new habits/try to break old ones.

Having said that, in my recent time off there are a few resolution-type things I have deliberately been tackling:

  • Gardening – I love the ways gardens are a never-ending work in progress since they are always growing, flourishing and dying (sometimes more of the latter). My latest gardening project is a renewed attempt at edible gardening. Apart from my herbs, I’ve recently planted lettuce, spinach, rhubarb and rocket.
  • Decluttering – this also feels like a never-ending work in progress. I know I’ve got a lot of unused clutter in my house. Most of it isn’t on show, but is hidden away in drawers, boxes and cupboards. Instead of buying new storage to arrange this stuff more effectively, I really need to purge things I don’t use. Since this is by no means a small task, I’m tackling one small area at a time, piece by piece. So far I’ve done behind my bedroom door. That alone has resulted in 4 bags worth of charity donation. Feels good.

Whilst I was tidying up some papers in the kitchen today, I came across a sheet of paper I produced in Africa. At the end of our volunteering experience we were asked to write a list of things we wanted to change when we left Africa to go home.

  • Things to keep doing
  • Things to stop doing/change/do less of
  • New things to do

I figure now is as good a time as any to check in on how I’ve gone with my list.

Things to keep doing

  • Yoga – whilst in Africa I managed to do at least 15 minutes of yoga every single day. I really think it helped prevent the aches and pains that can accompany travelling, especially when backpacking and sleeping on non 4 star beds. I have not been very consistent about this at all since coming home. No good reason why; I can’t honestly say I don’t have just 15 minutes spare in my day. This is something I need to deliberately refocus on.
  • Greeting people/being more open – I don’t have a problem saying hello or greeting strangers, especially when there is some kind of opening like someone smiling at my dog. Making prolonged small talk or a more sustained conversation isn’t something I’m especially good at though.
  • Learning new things – the fact that I’m struggling to think of anything new I’ve learnt suggests this one isn’t going too well, doesn’t it?

Things to stop doing/change/do less of

  • Not being attached to technology all the time – very hard to do when you have electricity and a 3 or 4G reception everywhere. Fail!
  • Drink less alcohol – the 2 weeks where I didn’t have any alcohol there were easy at the time. Doing the same thing at home would be much harder, especially at this festive time of year. For now I’m telling myself every night that I’m tempted but don’t have a glass of wine that gives me $10 spending money to buy something frivolous with. In the short time I’ve been doing this I’ve “saved” enough to buy a stripy sweater dress I had my eye on online. Score!

New things to do

  • Make chapati/mandazi – 2 things I learnt to do in Africa. Have not attempted either since coming home. Only way to fix this is by doing it. Here’s an online Mandazi recipe that looks completely do-able, but am a little scared about the fact it required deep-frying.

It will be interesting to see how these goals pan out over the next few weeks. Having them written down will hopefully help me keep more focused on what I am actually wanting to achieve.

Advertisements

Thankfulness

Image

Source: searchquotes.com

The above quote forms part of the lyrics to one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite artists, Carus Thompson. Until I just googled the image, I had no idea the quote came from Eleanor Roosevelt, but there you go; learn something new every day.

I was feeling very sorry for myself on Friday night. I’ve just been away in Spain for a month (which I plan to write much more about later!) Needless to say I had an amazing time. However on Friday night I was feeling sorry for myself for being back at work, on a nightshift, on a Friday night, 24 hours after landing back in the country, and when I’d just gotten a cold.

However as I was seeing a patient at about 1am that night, my woes got put back into perspective. A man in his early 50s, diagnosed with lung cancer a mere few months ago after feeling tired and getting a bout of pneumonia. Now on palliative chemotherapy, with the cancer already having spread to multiple organs including his brain. He lay in bed confused and worried, but not for himself. For his 24 year old daughter and his 19 year old son. And the fact that he has so much to do, and so little time.

Made my worries that night seem minuscule. Something I should try to remember more often.

21 Days

Thanks to the gorgeous Nadine, I won a spot on the beautiful Stella’s 21 Days workshop. Not only do I *never* win anything, I have also never embarked on anything like this before.

I am not skilled at self reflection, nor at sharing those thoughts with others, but its not going to kill me to try, is it? I am yet again facing some major uncertainties and challenges regarding my future which for the last few weeks have left me paralysed into alternating between indecision and denial. Hopefully this course will help me make a few major decisions.

For starters I have just meditated for 2 minutes for the first time in my life. Already I’ve done something new – and it’s only day 1!

Sherried Tomato Soup

This recipe is blatantly stolen from The Pioneer Woman. I’m reproducing it with my metricised conversions and a few substitutions – reduced butter, evaporated milk instead of cream and less sugar. If you want to see some step by step instructions and pictures however, go to the original Pioneer Woman recipe.

Sherried Tomato Soup

Please note that the most important step is number 3. I’ve been craving soups like this on dreary, dark pre-winter days as the shortest day of the year soon approaches. It won’t make the days longer, but it creates a warmth in the depth of your belly that makes cold days just that little bit more bearable.

Sherried Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • Chunk butter/olive oil
  • 1 whole medium onion, diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2L tomato juice
  • 2 400g cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon stock powder
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • pinch salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooking Sherry
  • 1-1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  1. Sauté diced onion and garlic in butter until translucent. Then add canned tomatoes, tomato juice, chicken stock, sugar, pinch of salt, black pepper and stir. Bring to a near boil, then turn off heat.
  2. Add in sherry and cream and stir.
  3. Add in parsley and basil to taste. Adjust other seasonings and serve with yummy, crusty bread on a cold blustery, dreary, depressing, rainy, snowy day. Then close your eyes.

Things I’m loving today

In no particular order….

Tulips

1) Fresh tulips. You know what? This may be the first time I have *ever* bought myself fresh flowers. I’m already addicted!

Vision board

2) The vision board I created today. Two of my friends and I spent the afternoon cutting eating pancakes, cutting pics from mags, chatting and drinking champagne. What more can you ask for in a day! More on the process soon!

Candle

3) Scented candles. No explanation needed!

Chocolate cake

4) Chocolate cake. Made this recipe for the first time yesterday. Super moist, and super easy to make. Yum!

New toaster

5) New toaster. My own old one broke, but luckily its still under warranty so I swapped it for a replacement today. Am very much looking forward to not having to use the grill every time I want toast (which is often!)

6) Takeaway Indian malaki kofta with extra chilli for dinner. No picture as I gobbled this down way too fast

That’s a lot to like in one day. Love Sundays like this!!

2 links

Blueberry bagel with cream cheese

Whilst consuming my morning coffee, I sat down to catch up on my blog reading, as I am wont to do. Two articles really caught my eye, so I thought I would share them.

Firstly, When love ends. And is born again on Mama Mia. I’m a long time reader of Mama Mia, from back in the day when it really was Mia writing. Now I have a love/hate relationship with the site, or perhaps indifference/hate would be more accurate. I skip over most articles without reading, and consider unsubscribing every now and then. Every time I see an article about vaccinations, golden globe dresses, makeup tips or some particular aspect of singles versus kids with couples I want to click that magic “Unsubscribe” button. However once in a while a gem of an article is published, and so I can’t quite bring myself to pull the plug.

Anyhow, rants about Mama Mia aside, this article really resonated with me about how I feel about the end of my own long term relationship. Here are the passages I adored:

Divorce does change you. It challenges your ideals and lets you think nothing is secure when in fact, you always have everything you need.

It teaches you many things but mostly enduring a divorce encourages us not to take things for granted. It reinforces that we need to cherish what we have whilst we have it and to go on afterwards even when we think we cannot. It affirms also that love is a miracle and worth celebrating in whatever form it finds us – whether that be through a partner, family, friends or the simple gift of nature.

The first sentence sums it up perfectly. The way that everything you have come to believe in and rely on is simply swept away from under your feet in an instant. However the part about nature is what really struck me. I think thats the reason I am so drawn to travel – seeing this wonderful world and all its amazing beauty makes me hopeful about all sorts of things, and fills me with inner joy and love.  I can only hope that in ten years down the track I’ll be in as good shape as the author.

So for now, Mama Mia stays on my subscribe list.

The next article I loved this morning was try this: two commitment weekends by Sarah Wilson. Sarah is one of my favourite bloggers and I admire her for her drive, intelligence, beauty and energy. I am in awe of her commitment to nutrition and healthy living. One day I would love to try the I Quit Sugar eating plan she writes so eloquently about, but as a carb and sugar lover, I find the idea very, very daunting. I continue to read about it with interest, however.

But that’s not what this morning’s article was about. It was all about the simple idea of not overcommitting yourself, something I am always doing. When you sign up to too many things, instead of enjoying the activities you engage in, you end up resenting them because it drains you. The solution of this article: say yes to just 2 things every weekend, and let the rest evolve as it happens. Easy, right? So why don’t we do it more often?

I particularly like these tips:

  • Accept the first two commitments that come in (and that appeal). Instead of fretting about for the best two commitments. Why? Because it’s in the spirit of “letting life come to you”. When you allow things to come to you – and when you practice this life muscle – that which is the best thing for you right now will start to flow towards you. The chaff will fall away.
  • Write a list of things you like doing. Why? Because when Saturday night hits and you’re alone and commitment-less, you can refer to it in the nervy moment. Silly? Yes. But I’ve actually done it. On my list: going to the movies alone, eating boiled eggs for dinner and listening to folky CDs (Feist, Ricky Lee Jones, Gillian Welch), having a bath in the dark, sitting on the beach/in a park and reading a novel.
  • Remind yourself you’re resting. And that resting is good. And that getting a bit bored and slow is good because it means you’re stocking up on energy reserves, getting a pause (which is great for creativity) and creating some “light and dark” in your life.

I really like point number 2. For some reason I get a bit antsy if I don’t have plans for Friday or Saturday nights. Spending them inside watching TV is anathema to me and makes me feel like I’m “missing out”. On what exactly I don’t know, but there it is.

By happy coincidence, due to feeling rundown during the week, I don’t have much on this weekend. 2 plans in fact.  One of which was watching Wish You Were Here last night (an amazing film, go see it!). The other is a friend visiting this afternoon – we’ll eat lunch then wander around some local shops. Very chilled.

Back in 2006, I actually made my own list of things I enjoy doing online. Since I have no plans tonight, I’m going to stay in, update this list and try to do something on it. On a Saturday night. Will wonders never cease?

This afternoon

This afternoon/evening I actually got stuff done! This was in no little part assisted by the fact that I was able to leave work by 3pm rather than my usual 5-6pm. But still, what a great feeling to know that I have managed to:

  • go to the supermarket
  • do a yoga class
  • go fruit and veggie shopping
  • cook a delicious meal (lamb cutlets, polenta mash, grilled mushrooms and sugar snap peas)
  • study (hello vascular function curves!)
  • bake brownies
  • bring the washing in
  • do a new load of washing
  • clean my oven’s grill
  • shower
  • prepare my lunch and breakfast to take to work tomorrow

Of course, sometimes the things that you *don’t* do are just as telling as the things that you do. Here’s what I have managed to NOT do tonight:

  • talk myself out of going to yoga because I was tired, only got 3 hours sleep and a hundred other excuses I thought of right up until 5 minutes before I walked in the door
  • eat leftover takeaway pizza for a second meal in a row
  • wash down my delicious dinner with some wine (I need to detox after Saturday night)
  • open up the chocolate bar I bought this afternoon straight after dinner, instead of baking later on
  • eat ridiculous amounts of my brownie batter/freshly baked brownies
  • waste inordinate amounts of time on the internet
  • watch endless episodes of Big Bang Theory

Nothing earth-shattering there, and by no means a perfect evening. There’s phone calls I should have returned, and plenty of emails I should have sent. I should have washed my car, cleaned the kitchen floor and there’s always more study I should have done. But you know what, I did a whole lot more than nothing, so I’m happy with that. I needed some downtime.

Oh and clearly brownies also!!!