Saturday, July 16, 2011

So I've just come back from a brief adventure to the coast. After struggling with the cold weather in my city it was good to go north for a bit and get some much needed sunshine.
It was also good to spend some quality time with my family and catching up with some dear friends. It's always difficult to catch up with everyone in a given space of time.
This time, however, I managed to catch up with an artist friend whom I have known since high school, who showed me her charismatic new studio space. We also spent a lot of time talking about life, the universe and everything while relaxing in a local cafe with good food and hot chocolate while celebrity spotting.
I was also very excited to meet up with a friend whom I have known for an eternity. It's been 21 years since last we met. Amazing how much has changed and happened in those years and yet we still have so much in common.
A friend whom I met when I first moved to my current city came to visit for a few days. It was great to have her stay with my family and give her a very brief tour of the coast.
Although on a limited time frame, it was fantastic to be able to share some time with these three incredible women who continue to amaze and inspire me daily, despite time and distance and I'm constantly grateful to have them in my life.
While I was on the coast, my Mum, Dad and I had several adventures. One day we decided to make use of the sunshine. We drove to a nearby town and decided to go to the lookout. The view from this particular lookout is always very pretty, however this time it had the added bonus of whales. Whales were swimming past a few hundred meters from the coastline, in groups, heading further north for the breeding season. From where we stood we could see so many of these magical creatures spraying fountains of water along the horizon. Such a beautiful sight to behold.
We also sat by the ocean later in the day watching the local council feed the pelicans. It's a daily ritual. The pelicans fly in from seemingly nowhere, and land on the paved stairs that lead to the waters edge, patiently waiting to be rewarded with fish. Locals and tourists alike gather to watch this event as they get up close and personal with the flock. Despite not being much of a bird lover, even I took a front row seat in order to be a part of the action.
Mum and I also took some time out to explore some of the local producers. We went to a lavender farm, macadamia farm, and to a newly opened cheese factory. The cheese factory was a highlight as we went there twice because the people were so friendly and the cheese was divine. We also took a drive to a beach side market where I bought treats for my puppy and played djembe in an open drumming circle.
There was also plenty of time to be creative. I baked and decorated several cakes which kept me occupied for some time. I had the opportunity to paint and play with my nephews.
There was plenty of time to enjoy the solace of the bushland surroundings, sitting in the sun whilst napping and reading my novel, listening to the sounds of the kookaburras and the neighbours cows and enjoying the company of my puppy. Overall a great fortnight of adventure.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Yum-o Orange Pancakes

Many people have been asking me for recipes suitable for people with fructose malabsorption. It is very difficult to find tasty food that fits the bill on this, however, I have come up with some delightful tasting Orange pancakes. I'm sure for normal people this recipe would also work with regular self-raising flour, not just gluten free self-raising flour. I don't normally use recipes, I just cook, so writing this has been a challenge. Feel free to add suggestions.

1 cup gluten free self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bi-carb soda
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice with pulp
1 large egg
40g nuttelex (or other suitable margarine) melted

Mix dry ingredients together. Add egg, margarine, and gradually add orange juice, constantly mixing with a whisk until a smooth batter forms. When ingredients are mixed, spoon small amounts of mixture on a heated pan with a small amount of margarine. Cook until bubbles appear on the top surface of the mixture, then flip and cook until ready. Serve with yoghurt, lightly dust with icing sugar and enjoy. :)

Well, it’s that time of year again. I’m not sure whether it’s the planetary alignment or if it’s because I’m on the cusp of another birthday, but it feels like it’s time to reassess and re-evaluate life and the direction to take on the next leg of the journey. Although this time, it seems as if I’m not alone in this life re-evaluation.

After talking to many friends and some of my students, it seems re-evaluation is on the cards for many. Have we all suddenly arrived at a crossroad and are not sure which way to turn? Unfortunately, I don’t hold all of the answers, however I believe that we are each on a pathway of discovery.

Each time we stop and re-evaluate our lives, it seems a bit like looking at the map. We look back to see where we’ve been, and we are pleased to have travelled so far. Then we look forward on the map and see many roads before us offering so many choices to help us reach our destination. Which road do we take? Which road to choose?

It’s a difficult decision, but to remain standing in the same place leads to nowhere, stagnation. We become disenchanted, disillusioned with life, confused, and at times downright miserable. Sometimes it takes a lot of soul searching in order to get back on track and know the right path to take. That said, who is to say that any of the roads that lie before us are wrong? We will eventually end up at the right destination, but perhaps by a different route than the one we first imagined.

It doesn’t matter which road we choose to take, there will no doubt be trials and tribulations, hurdles, hills and valleys. The important thing is what we learn from the journey. If we continue to learn and to grow, we move forward. If we keep repeating the same old habits, then we keep chasing our own tail, getting nowhere fast.

The next question might be, how do I stop the merry-go-round and get back on the rollercoaster? Sometimes it takes many failed attempts and much falling flat our face before we can land gracefully on our and feet and hence back on the journey trail. The only things we can do are to dust ourselves off and try again. Seize every opportunity and make the most of it.

If it doesn’t work out, try Plan B. There’s always a Plan B, right? Perhaps not everyone has a Plan B, because we all want to strive for the best. That’s not to say that Plan B is not as good as Plan A. It might well be equally as good and it may turn out to be the better way to continue the journey, despite what our long cherished illusions might have led us to believe.

Things don’t always go to plan. Yet everything happens for a reason. All we can do, in reality, is plan to make the best out of the cards we’ve been dealt. Believe. Stay strong, Love and respect yourself. Enjoy the little things. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Don’t give up…

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Home. This is an interesting word, which can have different meanings for different people. I've been inspired to write about "home" by two people in the past day. Firstly Tricia Karp, with her own story about home which I stumbled across yesterday here and also by my gorgeous friend Krin, whom I have known since forever.

As I mentioned, home means different things to different people, and at different phases of the journey of life. When we are young, "home" can refer to the place where you live, a dwelling. When we are at the end of our journey, "home" is where many feel they are going as they make their transition from this world and into the next.

For me the word home, goes beyond a dwelling place. I have lived in so many places since I finished high school, that "home" has become less of a locality, and more of a feeling. I often feel I'm "home"when I'm surrounded by trees, ocean and sunshine and even when I'm surrounded by the people I love, whether they be family or friends and also when I am doing something I love. It's a feeling that washes over me in many situations and locations. It is not restricted to one place, and cannot be limited. The feeling of "home" always comes from a place of love. Whether that be self-love, love for the surroundings or love for the people I'm with at the time. It's always taken in context of the situation at hand. Today, I am feeling a sense of home as I look out toward my yard, as I see the life in the fruit trees, the blossoming Lavender, with the sun shining in my window and sparkling off my sun catcher. I am reminded that all is how it should be. By carrying my home, in my heart, wherever I go, I can never be lost, as I always follow my heart and it always leads me "home".

John McLeod, was absolutely right:
If Home is where the heart is
Then may your Home be blessed
A shelter from the storms of Life
A place of rest,
And when each day is over
And toil put in its place
Your Home's dear warmth
Will bring its smile
To light the saddest face!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

So how about this crazy weather, huh? It's just gone full moon. The weather is in flux. Sun shiny and warm one minute and wintry the next. That's typical of this city, though. Yesterday, I decided it was high time to get some gardening therapy in. I took to the lawn mowing for all of 5 minutes then the sky erupted and rain began to fall. Sideways. I quickly packed up and raced inside. I decided that lawn mowing with an electric mower, in the rain, was a bad idea.

So I tried again this morning. I managed to finish the lawn this time round. I even raked the cut freshly grass from the lawn. I found both the lawn mowing and the raking of grass to be satisfying on multiple levels. The feeling of accomplishment, for having finished cutting the grass after abruptly aborting the first attempt. The repetition of mowing, and the rhythm of raking, was soothing to the chaotic early morning Taurean mind and yet appealed to the need for some release of physical energy.

While cutting away at the jungle that had grown in some areas of the yard, I discovered the Lavender plant still growing strong, despite being surrounded by tall grass. I also peeked into the overgrowing pumpkin plant and found a baby pumpkin emerging from the foliage. I will look more into the garden situation tomorrow morning, so I can remove the overgrowth and prepare to sow the winter crop, and see what treasures may have sprouted from the compost.

The vegetable stealing Italian lady from next door, also visited. She seems to have changed alot in the past few months. I get the feeling that loneliness is consuming her, since her family only visit when they need her to babysit, and very little else. She shared with me some of her home grown produce, some tomatoes and some basil, and advised me on how I could use them for dinner. She also offered me a pair of "special scissors" as she called them, so I could trim the edges of the lawn, not accessible by the mower. She obligingly ran back home to get me her special scissors. They were but the paper scissors she uses to trim the plants in her own small courtyard garden. I think I will gift her some gardening tools the next time I stop by the hardware store so it is easier for her to tend to her plants. The special scissors can't be good for her arthritis. No my arthralgia. Although I will admit to using them. Just a bit. I know she watches us from the second story window. And the front door. Despite her nosiness, and her past spate of vegie stealing her gesture was very sweet. In a way she reminds me of my own grandmother. Forever asking "why you not marry?".

Communing with nature today, has been a wonderful way to reconnect with the earth and my backyard after being away for what seems like ages. Nurture and comfort has been a mutual gift to the earth and back to me. Healing, transformative, restorative.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Music. They say, music soothes the savage beast. It is the language of love. The Universal language. It is a method, through which one can express a range of emotions, both verbally and non-verbally. Music, often means something different to each and every person. It speaks to us in different ways.

Tonight I went to see a free concert of the Symphony Orchestra in the city where I live. It was an amazing experience. The waxing half moon, in the sky above me. The sunset reflecting off the wispy clouds, making them glow of purple in a sky with shades of pink, orange and blue. The setting of the sun gave way to a cool night chill swept in on the breeze.

Armed with a picnic blanket, yummy food, jacket and scarf (yes this is summer) and sitting amongst friends and strangers alike. Yet with the crescendo of the orchestra, we were no longer strangers. We shared a common love, a passion, a beauty and an old friend. Music.

The trill of the piccolo, the smoothness of the bow dancing across the strings of the violins, violas, violoncello's and the double bass. The haunting tones of the clarinet and the depth of the soul of the timpani. All brought together by a man, who with great gusto, conducted as if the only thing that mattered in the world was the music.

Listening to the music, I could feel the passion of the musicians, so strong that it projected throughout the audience. The sound of the music, filling my ears, my heart and my soul, took me on a journey. I could remember so many instances where music has had an impact on my life. Where songs have spoken what I could not express in my own words. I think back to my earliest memory of music. Playing in the garage with my Dad's tools and singing along to his 80s pop station when I was all of 3 or 4 years old. The memories of music kept flooding my mind. Music has consoled me, inspired me, intrigued me and engaged me.

Music has taken me places no other vehicle could ever go. To the depths of my imagination, the corners of my soul. The highs, the lows, the loves and the losses. It can all be expressed through music. Tonight my spirit soared, I was uplifted by sounds so intense and exciting. It took me another place, where all is right with the world in that one instant. Not even the cold could penetrate my focus on the beautiful sounds of the orchestral tunes. It was the epitome of true bliss.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy New Year! Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Well it's been a while since I wrote on this blog. It's funny how time just gets away from us when we get caught up in life. The past 6 months has been an incredible journey of self-discovery. I have been in hospital, several times for various reasons. I have had to change my diet and lifestyle quite dramatically in order to better deal with my Crohn's Disease. So far it's working, most of the time, which is an incredible bonus.

I made the decision to get my motor scooter licence so I can have more independence in my life. I passed the test with flying colours, a brand new motor scooter presented itself with such brilliant timing. Now that I have the Scooter, at my home, in my city, I am scared to ride after falling off an hour after I had registered and insured it. I am grateful that people were kind enough to help me, I was not injured and my bike has only minimal damage as far as I know. Luckily my parents were still in town and able to help me fix some of the damage immediately. I now just need to have it checked by a mechanic to rule out any more serious damage, then I need to keep practicing, become more confident in my ability to ride, and take an advanced riding course to improve my skills. It will happen when it is meant to.

Late last year I had become very disillusioned and confused with my life and where things were at. I was scared about work, lack of income and everything that stems from that. I was also very over my chosen city. I decided to take some time out. To get reacquainted with myself. I temporarily worked and lived in a city where I have lived before. It was like taking a step back in time. I thought that I could just fit back in to where I left it and I didn't. I couldn't. I realised I have changed and my life has progressed. I enjoyed spending time with some amazing friends, who once again, opened their hearts and their homes to me, let me into their lives, and helped me on my journey of healing. I realised that not everything is what it seems, and sometimes going back to the past can help you to understand how good the present really is. My time away was bittersweet. I had to sort the shit from the sugar on many levels.

Some of the lessons I learned were difficult. I had to relearn how to love myself. How to like myself, and how to respect myself in order to accept who I am. Learning to stand up for myself and what I believe in. Learning that Karma works.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination. This is a very profound quote. Having been away for over 2 months, I have reminded myself that joy can be found in the simplest of things, from the setting of the sun, a swim in the ocean, and the innocent songs of my 2 year old nephew who is obsessed with his aunt's motorscooter (or Auntie C's mo-no bike as he says). Happiness can also be found within, just that sometimes you need to push past the clouds of negativity that stop you from seeing and feeling it.