Where is your focus?

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This re-blog (from July 2014) seemed a good reminder for me as a find myself getting frustrated at times by what I can’t do rather than remembering how lucky I am to only have a temporary ‘disability’. In a way this broken bone has provided many positives and given me plenty of insight into the wonderful life I have and the amazing people I have around me. We are hard-wired to focus on the negative for survival but focusing on the positive is so much more rewarding and enjoyable!

We have had some beautiful weather here on the Coast.  Freezing mornings to be sure however clear blue skies and loads of sunshine have visited us for the last 7 days! It has been fantastic and over the weekend we made the most of the sunshine to travel south with a friend of himself’s to visit the glaciers.

Another day in paradise
Another day in paradise

Himself and I have visited these glaciers before some 10 years back however we have only driven past the turn off since living on the Coast.  It was definitely on our ‘to do’ list to be sure so it was great to have the push, from a visitor, to join in on an expedition. The first thing that struck us – apart from the fact that we were majorly overdressed for such a glorious day – was just how far the glacier had retreated. Instead of the 30 min walk, of our previous trip, to reach the glacier it was now 45 mins and then that was only to a lookout which was 500 m from the glacier.  We, all the adults that is, felt a sense of shock and horror that the children with us would probably not be able to bring their children to see the same sights due to global warming.  It also made me realise just how important it is to  visit these places now and appreciate them now, while we still have them!

Themselves, overdressed, and ready to walk up to the glacier.
Themselves, overdressed, and ready to walk up to the glacier.

The walk up had changed too as it was now a smooth track to walk upon, leading us ever closer to the beauty of the ice.  Themselves did a magnificent job of walking there and back which was helped no doubt by the distraction of someone new to ‘talk to’ – the reality is more ‘talk at’ 🙂 Although we passed quite a few people on the track the look out was fairly free of tourists so we were able to have a good look and enjoy the peace and beauty of the whole scene. There was a bit of talk about safety and staying behind the ropes. There were also memories of how far down the valley it was before and of how people used to be able to climb onto the glacier from the end of the walk, correct equipment attached of course. This is no longer the case and a view from the lookout is all that is possible without paying a chunk of change.

The glacier up close. 10 years ago we were taking photos sitting right in front of it.
The glacier up close. 10 years ago we were taking photos sitting right in front of it.

After a quiet walk up with only the birds and themselves chatter around it surprized me to suddenly be inundated with noise from above.  Helicopters and airplanes were now on their circuit from town over the glacier, following each other at intervals with their eager tourists and filling the air with pure noise pollution. I guess it is one of the prices we pay for having a tourist fed economy.  I found myself, along with everyone else our group, constantly looking up to the skies to see where they were or to berate them for the amount of distraction they caused. 

Franz Josef Glacier from a distance.
Franz Josef Glacier from a distance.

Then I realised that maybe I should be berating myself for allowing the noise to distract me.  I was in fact paying that small distraction far more attention than the enormity of beauty I had around me and thought how like life that is. How often do we get caught up in the small, annoying and insignificant rather than focusing on the important? How often are we distracted by the minor issues or events rather than staying focused on the major ones? I know it is very often for me.  I am easily swayed into looking up into empty skies rather than focusing on the beautiful path I’m already on. So this week I am going to go back to basics and focus on the now, on the beautiful path I am on and see where that brings me too. How about you?

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Sweet treats

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For a long time now I have been trying to make vegan meringues. I say trying because aside from an initial failed attempt when I was sugar free I have thought about this more than actually doing anything. So, with Christmas coming up and the vegans in the house trying to think of yummy stuff we can indulge in, vegan meringues have come onto my radar again.

Mum had traditionally made meringues with themselves whenever we went there for Christmas …. well they watched and got to lick the egg beater afterwards which is probably the best way to bake if you ask me! But since those times, himself and I have become vegan and Mum is no longer with us. So, meringues (and pavlova but that is another topic) have been dropped from the menu for quite awhile.

This year though I decided to change that and with a tin of chickpeas in hand I began to look up vegan meringue recipes. Last time, without sugar, my meringues didn’t set hard and definitely still tasted very chickpea flavoured. Not such a delicious dessert it has to be said. It was clearly a memory etched into himself’s head as he actually tried to dissuade me from even trying them again! Not one to be deterred easily though, once my mind was set on something, I stumbled on. Thanks to the internet and The Plant Based School I found a quick and easy recipe to follow …. you must know my style by now don’t you 🙂 Just aquafaba (chickpea juice from the can) and sugar whizzed together and then baked.

On the tray ready to bake

I have to say that all was going pretty well and I was feeling pretty smug. That is until I realized our new gas oven won’t stay at a low enough temperature! With a bit of fiddling we managed to get it under the minimum setting and continued with fingers crossed. The results? Well, they weren’t too bad in the end though maybe a little browner than a usual meringue. Himself was impressed (so was I just quietly) and we counted it a success. The only thing was what do you put with them? They were super sweet so needed something less sweet to balance them and obviously the usual cream accompaniment was out. The problem resolved itself fairly quickly though in the fact that himself gobbled them up before I came up with any feasible ideas.

I wasn’t that convinced about having the meringues as a dessert even with himself saying otherwise. Then I was reminded of a dessert my Mum made one time she stayed with us which involved meringue, custard and fruit. Maybe this would be a better option for our Christmas dessert. With rhubarb in season it would be the perfect balance to all that sugar. I hadn’t actually made it by myself, I have to say. When Mum did make it with me I had an almost two year old ‘helping’ and was pregnant with our second so the memory of it was a bit scratchy to say the least. This didn’t stop me sharing the recipe with family though so I thought I should probably give it a go myself.

Another internet search for vegan custard and we were away laughing, so to speak. Basically the recipe is a layering of fruit, cold custard and uncooked meringue which then gets baked in the oven at a low temperature (30mins at 120C). Mum had peaches in hers but as I mentioned I thought it needed a bit of balancing with something less sweet. The local markets obliged nicely with some fresh rhubarb which I stewed up minus sugar (our usual way of having it) and then got the custard brewing so both of them could have time to cool. The final steps were whizzing the meringue up and layer it all before baking. The result wasn’t that great to look at (I’m blaming the temperature of my oven again for the brown top and the fact that vegan custard is white rather than yellow) but the taste was great and a win all round.

Not the prettiest but the taste made up for it

Because I don’t really want to be in the kitchen all day on Christmas day I’ve decided that instead of the baked version I am going to do an ‘Eton Mess’ style in a glass. I’ll make the meringues the day before … and hide them! … along with the stewed fruit and custard. Then on the day people can just stack and layer how they like into a glass. Well that is the plan anyway 🙂

As I write this ‘recipe’ I do wonder why I actually write about food on here. I’m certainly not the greatest of chefs that is for sure and I certainly don’t have all the brightest and best gadgets nor all the best solutions. I guess though I’m trying to share that if I can do it and have some fun then so can you! Thank goodness for all those real foodies out there is all I can say!

Hope this finds you experimenting and enjoying the luxury of having enough to eat.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Finding Love

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For a few years now I have been subscribed to a ‘Daily Dose’ of inspiration by Light Watkins. I stumbled across it without knowing that it was exactly what I was looking for and I have been grateful ever since. Now every morning my email brings me a little food for thought to start my day on. It is just a little something which takes me out of the speeding train in my head and into the now.

Since then I have been part of his ‘Happiness Insiders’, which has challenged me to complete over a year of consistent meditation to date. I have also enjoyed being part of an online book club which is exposing me to different authors and genre I would not normally of even considering. My world is slowly expanding in different ways.

The thing is though if anyone had told me I needed to read this or needed to do that my immediate reaction would have been rebellion. I would have moved further away from whatever they suggested, either consciously or subconsciously. Even if it is to my detriment I would continue, at least until a wake up call arrives to tell me to ‘sort my sh!+ out’! It is the story of my life in fact. Whatever was ‘fashionable’ and ‘trendy’ at the time was exactly what I didn’t like. I liked to buck the trend and back the outsider but mostly I think it is not wanting to be told what to do. I like doing things differently. I guess it makes me feel that I have more control over my own life …. that I’m not one of the millions …. even if it isn’t always the smartest choice.

You’d think with my will to ‘do things as I please’ I would be more understanding of others having their own way too. Sadly, this is not always true but the meditation and reading different ideas on life is helping. I’m learning to take a deep breath when I feel the need to direct others and keep my mouth shut. I’m learning to give love and understanding rather than judgement and criticism. If I’m being honest though, at the moment I am mostly in that stage of knowing but not doing very consistently. They say practice makes perfect so fingers crossed! So when Light Watkins dropped this in my inbox the other week it was a great reminder for me and as it fits so well with my ‘Advice’ piece the other week that I thought I would share it with you too 🙂

Hope this finds you living the life you want and letting others do the same.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Advice

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I remember years ago hearing a comedian talking about this topic. The one thing I took away from it was ‘A piece of advice is like an @$$hole; everyone has one but that doesn’t mean we want to see or hear yours.’ I have carried this gem with me for years now and always think about it as I proffer my ‘advice’ to others. I say think about it because it rarely actually stops me opening my mouth and spouting something to some unsuspecting soul. I thought I was pretty good though at not giving too much advice (well not as much as I secretly wanted to give) and trying to get the other person to follow what felt right for them but now that I have teenagers in the house I can see that may not be the case. There is nothing like a surly teenager to put you in your place and show you that your advice is meaningless to them!

Following my own advice and getting out in nature for a walk

For most of us when we hear that someone else is having a bad time of things we often want to help, maybe even rescue them. The most common and easiest way seems to be giving our advice, regardless of whether or not it has been asked for. We often think we have the answer to others problems and so want to share our knowledge. In my experience so far though, this isn’t the case. Sometimes themselves (our teenagers) actually get a bit peeved off if I do have the correct information to help them move forward, like they want to have a unsolvable problem. Sound familiar? Do they want the challenge of figuring it out for themselves or do they just enjoy moaning? From the lack of action I sometimes see I’m thinking it is the latter, with them at least. With others I would say that the majority of times I have offered unsolicited advice (which I think is the kind of advice most of us give) I can see that it was like ‘water off a duck’s back’. Their eyes kind of glaze over and the rhythmic head nodding begins as they block me out without actually telling me to ‘P!$$ off’.

I realize too that I am often one of the worst offenders of that glazed look and heading nodding. Though I do hear what people say I often won’t accept the validity of their advice until much later, sometimes not until someone else has told me a similar piece of advice. Sometimes not until my world is in collapse! They say we need to be exposed to things multiple times before we accept it so maybe I can use that as my excuse for now. I guess though we all like to think we have things sorted and if we don’t have our issues sorted now, that we can sort them if we really wanted to. I often wonder too why I share things that are going bad when I there is a part of me which doesn’t want any advice on solving it. What is the need in me to let others know the bad rather than all the good in my life? Is it a form of bonding? A form of self trimming tall poppy syndrome? I’m not sure but I do remember a friend telling me that in some cultures when someone asks how you are, you are expected to tell them something that is going wrong. The idea being that this way you make the other person feel good about their lives as sharing loads of good news is seen as boastful. So maybe it is an inbuilt survival tool.

Maybe there is a happy medium somewhere in giving advice; somewhere in the midst of limiting what we share which we don’t want advice on and asking others if they want help, advice or our opinion before we actually give it. I’m certainly still looking for it. Until I do find it I think I will continue spouting my ‘advice’ on here, oblivious to how it is received, so at least you have the option to close the tab rather than feigning interest 🙂

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Home comforts of GF bread on the road

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I have been craving a bit of carbs lately and so have been digging up a few of my favourite recipes. This bread is so easy and delicious I thought I would share it again. Rather than inventing the wheel though I’m taking the easy way out and re-blogging my original post 🙂 The Gluten free flours can be changed up as you like too … I now use quinoa instead of chickpea flour in this recipe and it still tastes just as good. From August 2017, when we were still living on the bus rather than just holidaying in it ……

So, I know … it has been a while since I posted, longer than I planned anyway.  It seems that one down side to bus life in Winter is the reduced solar power we have.  My old laptop is the one thing on the bus that needs to be plugged into a regular (i.e. not solar) plug and sucks up the power fast which means that I either have to duck into the library to use it for any length of time or wait until a sunny day! Well here it is a sunny Sunday afternoon and I thought I would get onto a blog post at last.

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Themselves in the bus … looking south to Oaro

We are just back from a quick overnighter down the coast.  It was only 30 mins away and yet with SH1 closed it was such an awesome break.  Parked up right on the beach without the hum of traffic made us all feel very spoilt and themselves spent hours on the rocky shore exploring and playing.  It is wonderful having our home with us where ever we travel and being able to have those home comforts too.  One home comfort I have been enjoying lately is some homemade Gluten Free bread (and toast).  The shop stuff is good but it usually comes a quite a price and invariably gives me a bad case of wind …. enough said!!

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Slices so well and I even got an ‘It looks just like shop bread’ seal of approval comment.

Anyway … this recipe is one that I shared last year but if you are like me and completely forgot about it while basking in the Summer sun then here it is again.  Actually I have a lovely mum from one of Infant Massage Courses to thank for the reminder and I’m so glad she did.  This loaf recipe is super easy!!  It is my favourite kind of recipe in fact … the chuck it all in and bake kind ;).  I have changed it only a little since last time so as to accommodate my vegan child however you can’t really tell anything is different and it makes a fantastic loaf.  This GF loaf will last quite a few days in an airtight container, slices really well and can be frozen for toasting later.  I have to say, with many other recipes tried and tested, that this really is my favourite Gluten Free bread recipe. Hope you enjoy it too.

Gluten Free Bread

Makes 1 loaf

  • 1 Tbsp Dried Yeast
  • 2 Cups Warm Water
  • 1 Cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 Cup Buckwheat Flour
  • 1 Cup Chickpea Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Tapioca Flour
  • 8 tsp black chia seeds
  • 8 tsp boiling water
  • Sprinkle of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil

– In a large bowl whisk the water and yeast and leave for 10 minutes to activate.

– Add all dry ingredients apart from chia seeds and mix well

– Mix chia seeds and boiling water then add to bread mixture with the oil.

– Mix well and pour into a lined bread tin.

– Leave to rise for 10-15 mins.  It doesn’t rise much on baking so if you want a bigger loaf then leave it to rise longer before cooking.

– Bake at 170 C for 45 minutes.

-Enjoy!!

Hope this finds you happy, healthy and warm,  possibly enjoying some yummy GF toast 😉

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Goodness of nature

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Every morning come rain or shine I head out with our four legged friends for a walk. It has become a bit of a ritual, in fact it has now got to the point where I don’t even think about walking or not …. I just get up, put on my exercise clothes and go. I have noticed, over the years, that not only is their behaviour and energy levels better during the day but so are mine! Sure some days the walk is less energetic than others. Some days the walk is shorter than others but everyday I know that if I miss our walk I just won’t feel as good that day.

When we’re out it is my time to reflect on the day before, thinking what I could have done differently, and also to ‘prepare’ for the day ahead by saying a few affirmations as I walk. We also invariably get to chatting to another walker (usually a neighbour) at some point, get distracted by some new ‘stinky’ highlights (that is more the dogs than me it has to be said) or just enjoy the birdsong and the elements. Not being that eager to venture out too much in a day if I can help it, our morning walk is the main time when I get to tick off some of the ‘Five Ways to Well-being’ in a day. It is my way of ensuring I’m taking action about my health rather than feeling on the back foot and reacting when things don’t feel so great.

There is a lot of research out there which backs up what I’m experiencing too. The benefits of exercise on our health are proven but actually getting out into nature when you’re being active can amplify those benefits. Making the time to go outside and be in nature – both green (trees, grass, bush) and blue (rivers, lakes, sea) spaces – can also boost your well-being in many different ways. Using the green and blue spaces around you as part of your well-being routine can improve and regulate your moods, reduce stress and also help you feel more connected to the world. Evidence suggests that being in nature for more than 120 – 150 minutes a week (around 20 mins a day) is related to the best possible physical, as well as mental, health and well-being.

Getting the benefits of the blue and green effect

Now I’m aware that not everyone is as fortunate as us to have a river walk on their doorstep but being in nature can refer to many different things. It doesn’t have to be a mammoth trek in the mountains or an epic swim in the sea. It may be parks, gardens and allotments in an urban setting or even a trip to a wildlife park. It may be working on the land or being on farmland. It may be short bush walks or just the local botanical gardens. Maybe a stroll along a creek, stream, river or lake. Even sitting by the water fountain in the park will help gain some positive blue and green health effects.

Just stepping out onto your lawn to do a few breathing exercises and moving the body will help boost the impact of what you are doing. Getting into your garden (not my specialty I have to say), reading outside, taking a lunch break in the outdoors or just making the most of that walk to the car can all count. The best thing is there is nothing to lose in trying to add a bit more nature in your life and everything to gain.

Hope this finds you exploring, enjoying and engaging in the nature around you.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Homemade Kombucha

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Every Sunday morning I have a routine …. get my 2 litre jug, add some loose leaf tea and some dextrose along with hot water and let it cool. Later in the day I then drain off my last week’s brew and pour the cooled ‘big cup of tea’ in with the a SCOBY ( Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast). All this is to create my refreshments for the week … homemade kombucha. My big jar of brewing Kombucha then sits on the bench all week waiting to for me to begin the process all over again the next Sunday.

The Routine Begins

Despite its current popularity, my kombucha making routine began almost 10 years ago after attending a fermenting workshop in Hokitika. There we were given samples of different kinds of homemade kombucha to try and sent away with a piece of SCOBY. I remember coming home with in and themselves laughing at my rubbery ‘squid’ like creature in a jar. How on earth was that going to make a drink? Despite all the ribbing though they all enjoyed either making some or drinking it in the following years.

The great thing with this is that it is so easy and inexpensive to make unlike some of the shop versions. Like many of the fermented foods Western cultures are ‘discovering’, Kombucha itself has been around for a long time ….. at least a millennia maybe even two. This little fermented drink is thought by some to originate from North East China and was drunk throughout Russia, Eastern Europe and Japan for centuries. Aside from being delicious (though some may argue with that so maybe it is more of an acquired taste) is also has many health benefits which have be scientifically studied and proven. Some people may worry about the added sugar however this is mostly ‘eaten’ by the SCOBY in the ferment so Kombucha is actually a good low sugar alternative.

As a family we have experimented with all sorts of variations in tea and sweeteners. Himself was very fond of a black tea and honey version until he became vegan. Herself on the other-hand enjoyed a berry tea and sugar variety. My favourite however is Green tea and dextrose and I now have two jars of it on the go every week after herself gave up making her berry kombucha. Being a wee bit impatient (I can hear my mother laughing already) and an ardent believer in keeping things simple, I drink my brew within the week rather than giving it a second ferment. A quick google search will give you all sorts of information on creating more exciting brews through second ferments though if that is your thing 🙂

The Benchtop Brews

The SCOBY with grow to the diameter of your jar thanks to the ‘food’ you are giving it in the form of tea and ‘sugar’; it will eventually cover the surface of the brewing kombucha. . To help the new brew along though we always leave at least 2 cups worth of kombucha in with the SCOBY … a bit like you would have a sourdough starter. There are loads of fermenting groups around the country which you can contact to get some so that you can begin your brew, usually free as the SCOBY just keeps growing layer upon layer. If you’re local to me though I’m happy to get you started too 🙂 Below is the basic recipe for feeding your SCOBY each week.

Kombucha Recipe

  • 2 Litres of boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons of loose leaf tea (or 2-3 teabags)
  • 3/4 cup of Dextrose or sugar (you only need 1/2 cup if you are using honey)

-Combine all ingredients into a large jug or bowl.

-Allow to cool

-Pour over the SCOBY and starter in your glass jar

-Leave, covered with a cloth, for a week before pouring into bottles

Hope this finds you happy, healthy and enjoying the changes of season around you.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Pumpkin Soup and Scones

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Pumpkin soup never fails to make me think of my mum. She was very particular about the fact that it only be made with pumpkin. No potatoes or kūmara (sweet potato) were allowed, just pumpkin along with onion and plenty garlic of course. One year, when mum was out of work I remember pumpkin soup being on ‘the menu’ almost everyday. We had a massive collection of pumpkins which were all saved and stored from the pumpkin patch she had created at the end of the garden; a mound of compost which the vines sprawled over and their large round fruit inhabited. The two are forever linked in my brain I think.

The main stars of the show

Even after that year of pumpkins I still loved them, as most kiwis do. I never realized though , until moving to Ireland, that New Zealand has its own wee love affair with the humble pumpkin that the rest of the world doesn’t really share. In New Zealand pumpkin is just standard savoury vegetable fare; none of the this sweet pumpkin pie stuff. We like to roast it, steam it, mash it, make it into soup and even add it into our scones at times. It has to be said though that the pumpkins found in New Zealand (namely Crown) have a lot more flavour than those I have encountered and eaten overseas, lending themselves to being eaten more readily.

We even have a recipe book dedicated to pumpkins written by a relative of himself

With Halloween looming pumpkins can be spotted on the shelves again. Although now (Spring in NZ) isn’t really the time for pumpkins, the supermarket has obviously realized the potential of more revenue by having them in the stores as more and more people are celebrating Halloween in New Zealand which invariably entails good old pumpkin carving. We too celebrate with a bit of Jack-o’-Lantern making (again after my education in Ireland that Halloween is actually an Irish tradition and not an American one) but Pumpkin Soup is the first thing I think of when I see a pumpkin anywhere.

So of course when I got a wee pumpkin the other day, into soup it became. It is such a simple recipe; chop onion and garlic then saute in some butter or oil depending on your dietary preference, chop the pumpkin into smallish pieces and add to the pot with water to cover. Add some stock/salt/pepper/herbs/seasoning to get the taste you like. Then boil until everything is soft. Themselves and I like to blend our soup smooth whereas himself likes it chunky so I’ll let you take your pick there. Soup by itself can be a little unfulfilling it has to be said. This is where the second part of my memory of mum comes in ….. scones.

Scones all ready to bake

Scones (like biscuits in USA) are a great accompaniment especially when they are warm from the oven which mum would often do when we had visitors coming. The best thing is that while your soup is ‘brewing’ you have the perfect amount of time to rustle up a batch of scones. Traditionally they have butter in them however to keep the vegans in the family happy I have adapted the recipe a little. This recipe is best consumed warm or least within the day, unless of course to like little rocks to dip in your soup! These scones are also great for a morning or afternoon tea with loads of jam on top. So without anymore ado I’ll let you get on making your soup and scones.

Vegan Scones

  • 200 gm flour (GF or plain, white or wholemeal or a mixture of both as in original)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 30 gms coconut oil (cold from the container)
  • 1 flax-seed egg (1 TB ground linseed/flaxseed and 2.5 TB cold water)
  • 100-150 ml non-diary milk (I used soy milk this time but also use rice for a sweeter scone)

– Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl and rub in the coconut oil so that it is fully blended with the flour.

– Add in the flaxseed egg and milk (start with 100ml and add some more if the mixture seems too dry) then ‘cut’ the liquid into the dry ingredients with a knife until a ‘dough’ is formed.  It will still be sticky so some extra flour will help you get it into a tidy ball. I often just combine it as much as a can in the bowl with my spoon and then dump it onto a well floured baking tray. Then sprinkle some more flour on top and gently form it into the rectangle shape mentioned below.

– Flour a baking tray and flatten dough into a flat rectangle shape.  Cut this into 12 or 16 pieces depending on the size of scone you desire.

– Separate the scones a little on the floured tray and then bake at 200 Celsius of 10 mins or until golden on top.

– Spread with jam (and butter or cream for the non-vegan among you) and enjoy

Hope this finds you enjoying the fruits of life whichever season you are in.

Lunch is ready!

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Keeping on going

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Every December or January I write down 108 things that I want to achieve for the upcoming year. It isn’t a hard and fast list that I must complete but rather a visual reminder of where I want to head and what I’d like to do on the way. Some of it is pretty basic stuff; write a letter to a friend, read a book, go to the movies or visit a loved one. Then there are others that are more work orientated such as combining all my mini e-guides into one book, writing our family history stories and creating online courses from my workshops. The later are the ones that ‘nag’ at me the most, the ones I feel guilt over when they sit in my list for more than a year, usually while actively procrastinating.

I have loads of ideas for projects swimming around in my brain and it is hard not to have more than one on the go at once. I really admire those ‘wood pecker’ people who can just get stuck into one project and complete it before moving on. Honestly though I am more of a ‘hummingbird’ when it comes to activities. I have multiple ‘projects’ going, flitting from one to another, making them all drawn out. Each day I aim to do a little on each of my projects and interests in the hope that they will come off my list. It also helps me feel like I have been productive and a lot more positive. They are little steps I know but they are all moving me towards my goals and even though it means they aren’t being achieved quite as quickly as I would like I tell myself I am building consistency.

This is all well and good when I’m in a routine at home and have the day to structure how I like. The kicker comes when we need to be out and about or away. It doesn’t take much to distract this little hummingbird! I quickly get out of the swing of taking productive action each day, whether that be eating well, exercising or working on projects, and invariably items get dropped. I enjoy the change in scenery for sure however then I find it really hard to great back into taking action and making decisions which align with what I want vs what is the path of least resistance. After a few days I can feel my mood head south, doubt creeps in. Am I doing enough? Am I enough? Will I ever actually finish what I want to do? Am I doing anything of value?

Sticking to your path can be tricky sometimes

It can be hard when this happens and harder still to re-frame my thoughts towards getting ‘back on track’. The pull of sliding into the wallow is great and the discomfort of taking positive action to create change never fails to surprise me. Over the years though the realization that ultimately I feel better when I am exercising, eating right, meditating and working towards where I want to be (a healthy, relaxed and happy person) helps me to make the changes I need to get back to my daily little steps. I notice too that over time I am faster and faster at getting back on track after I’m ‘way laid’. I still have off days where all I want to do is ‘veg’ and procrastinate however I’m now I tend to just let them visit and enjoy them as I know that they won’t be here forever. I’m more confident that a return to productivity will return.

Why am I sharing all this? Well I guess sometimes I think I’m the only one going through this internal (sometimes external) chaos but then I chat to someone and realize we are all the same. We are all going through the same ups and downs. We all have things we want to do, be it small like finishing a project or large like seeking the help we need to heal. We are all striving to do our best with what we have. All trying to feel better, happier and healthier each day. So, I thought today I’d be that someone to let you know I hear you and understand, maybe not the full picture of what you are experiencing but the struggle to journey through life in the direction you want while navigating the ‘potholes’ as they are encountered.

And while the discomfort of doing those little things which help you feel more productive, happier and healthier can be awkward, uncomfortable and even bloody hard at times in the end they will get you where you want to be so keep on going, don’t give up and always look ahead. Little steps will bet no steps every time.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Secrets and Lies

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My first thoughts on hearing this writing group topic were when is a secret really a secret and when is a lie really a lie?  How often do we withhold information from others because we don’t want them to think badly of us? Withholding stories because we don’t think others would be interested or maybe because we don’t want to acknowledge the truth behind the story?  Is that being discreet, thoughtless or having a secret?  How often do we tell ourselves stories about what we can and can’t do without any basis of truth?  When we tell someone they look good when really we’re thinking ‘why on earth are you wearing that?’ If someone tells us what we want to hear rather than the full story, is that being protective, tactful or telling a lie? Does the intention behind the act change it from something sinister into something benign or is it all up to the recipient to decide? 

We don't always have to fly solo; keeping things hidden from others

I consider myself to have no secrets; no events that I intentionally withhold from others.  While I haven’t told everyone every story, if anyone asks and sometimes even when they don’t, I am willing to discuss any aspect of my life. Well, that’s what I tell myself anyway and what I aim to do.  Sometimes though, I have been in situations where after assessing the recipient I modify my truths or limit the information I give.  Knowing that ultimately the relationship would be better off for not sharing too much.  In the dictionary though the word ‘secret’ is defined as not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others. Something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others.  In which case it looks like I may be guilty as charged.  It would appear I have to admit that much of my inner life is a secret.  I definitely keep my insecurities to myself along with events which don’t paint my life in such a rosy light, justifying it as protecting those involved.  I often put on an act of bravado to give the impression that everything is fine while secretly crumbling inside. How many of us have things we’d rather not have known or seen about our inner lives? Most, if not all, I would imagine.

The dictionary also describes a lie as an intentionally false statement, used with reference to a situation involving deception or founded on a mistaken impression. Hmmm ….  Caught out again! It seems that while I consider myself to be a very honest person with others that may not really be the full picture with myself.  My tendency to ‘create’ a story as to why I can’t go through with things or haven’t got time to complete a task may just make me guilty of lying to myself or at the very least guilty of believing my own B*@! S^#+.

The interesting thing is that I can see this so clearly in others; this tendency to give very plausible reasons for not doing things, for not moving forward towards where they actually want to be. In reality, these reasons hold very little real truth. In others I can see through these excuses dressed up as reasons.  In myself though it is a much harder task.   I hear people tell me things while all the time I know they are keeping the real reasons they haven’t taken action secret and hidden away. Hidden from themselves that is.  

Even as I write this, I can hear that little voice (yes, she’s here again!) telling me that there are legitimate reasons for my actions or lack thereof.  Many things that have happened to me which I can use as plausible reasons (read excuses there) but ultimately it is a lie to say that I can’t do something because of my past. I’m still physically and mentally functional after all and even then, if I wasn’t would it be reason enough to hold me back?  Even Christopher Reeve regained some movement after being paralyzed, continued directing and went on to start foundations to support and help others.

I create stories which I try to rationalize as truths when in actual fact they no more hold me back that a piece of string on the floor. In reality all the ‘lies’, all the BS I feed myself, help to cover deep fears which I hold secret; fears of failure or maybe it is actually a fear of success.  A fear of putting myself into possibly vulnerable situations where people can see me ‘warts and all’. The truth is they have probably already seen my hidden ‘lies’ and ‘secrets’ just as I have seen them and theirs.  

This is being human though; the need to protect a part of us.  All of us do it, well everyone I’ve ever met, so it is completely normal in our society. We all want to feel we’re doing our best and so we rationalize and create reasons for when we feel we aren’t living up to our potential.  I think though that if we actually acknowledge what is going on instead of trying to hide it, we can come at things from a healthier perspective rather than berating ourselves or pretending we have it all sorted. 

It is OK to not take action and if you are honest about why then it can empower you. Acknowledging what is behind our actions can help lead to resolving issues.  In our society we attach morality to tasks when in reality most of the tasks we engage in are morally neutral. Our ability to do or not do for the most part doesn’t make any dent in our value as a person. It means we are human. Maybe in seeing those vulnerabilities, allowing the ‘lies’ and ‘secrets’ which all we share to come to the surface we may actually pave the way for us to connect at a deeper level. It may even allow for us to take the action we want with the knowledge that others are in the same situation, feeling just like we are.  We don’t always have to fly solo. When we’re honest about how we are feeling then others will feel able to be honest too. Creating a bond between us, a bond shared by humanity worldwide, a bond which levels us and allows for meaningful connections.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz