Conscious eating

I’ve had a snuffly nose, so have had to sleep with my mouth open instead of breathing through my nose as normal.  Where I’ve been gunky and horrible, my mouth got very dry overnight on Friday and developed a little ulcer on the top left, right where your tongue hits the roof of your mouth when you chew.  So far, so oweee.

Imagine that itty, bitty, tiny ulcer (I’ve checked, I can hardly see it) with vegemite in it, or Marmite if you’re from the old country.  It’s enough to make your eyes water.  And believe me they did when I ate the eggy bread that Dan made me on Saturday morning.  I love vege/marmite, I smother my toast and bread with it like it’s chocolate spread.  So when my normal amount hit the hot spot, I nearly went through the roof.  Solution, rinse mouth with green tea.  Not good solution, neither was water – and, no I didn’t try orange juice before you ask.  I may be blonde on the inside, but I am not that mad!

What this itty, bitty, tiny ulcer has taught me, inadvertently is to chew slowly.  Little delicate mouthfuls, like one would if one was taking tea at The Ritz, which I can heartily recommend as I’ve done it twice.  It also means that one is more aware of when one is full, instead of eating at what would be considered a normal speed in the Western World.  Still nothing to the speed Asians eat at though, when they shovel their food in; incidentally watching and listening to that is enough to make me stop eating my food completely.

One of the reasons a lot of French and Italian people don’t gain weight is because they linger over their food.  They pass the time of day with their family, friends and even their spouse, drink their wine, chat, laugh and make their food an event – not something else that needs to be ticked off their to-do list.  This is something that has frustrated nutritionists for years, because the French and Italians eat all the wrong foods: they eat butter, red meat, bread, pasta – everything that people are warned about, because nutritionists look at one part of a chemical, and say “Whoa! You can’t eat that!”  Why else do people buy margarine by the bucket load, because they are buying into the myth that butter is bad for you.

Tell that to our ancestors who’ve been eating butter; pure, unadulterated butter, the sheer bliss of the creaminess of it, smeared on your bread, or used in cooking, for 1000s of years; instead of something that is a by-product of the plastic industry and has to be dyed yellow from grey and is so manufactured, the latest super food can be added in a heart beat.  Don’t believe me??  Omega 3 is naturally present in most if not all green leafy vegetables, if you eat your veggies, ergo you will get all the Omega 3 you need (and more, as vegetables are also full of other vitamins, minerals and good stuff too).  But people want you to buy the produced food, not produce.  Because if you buy fresh, you aren’t buying into advertising.  You’re buying into Jamie Oliver, Hugh F-W et al, and real food and putting manufacturers and advertisers out of business.  Which comes back to conscious eating.

Notice what you are putting inside your body, the sum of all its parts.  Do you want to eat foods your grandmother won’t recognise?  Do you want to be able to chew your food, or are you eating in the car or standing up instead so your body has no way of telling you when you are properly full, so you eat more to compensate?    And by food, I mean food, not crap. 

I cooked an organic, free range chicken yesterday.  It fed 3 fully grown adults at one meal, we have enough meat left over to feed another 3 fully grown adults tomorrow.  The carcass will be made into stock, which will go into another meal again.  Dan and I chopped vegetables, made gravy, served it up and followed it with artisan cheeses.  We split a bottle of wine, stayed at the dinner table for 4 hours and had a whale of a time with our friend.  We talked about everything, nothing and we had one of the best nights we’ve had in ages.  I chewed my smaller mouthfuls slowly and carefully, I felt my body get full and say ‘thank you’.  I slept like a baby.

It’s not just about what you do, it’s about how you do it.  Every day, with every mouthful.  Why do you think one of the most popular ways people are learning how to eat properly is by taking photos of everything they eat.  So they look back and go ‘Eh?  Why did I do that to myself?’  I want you right now, to stop and say thank you to your body.  Because despite your best efforts, it is allowing you to read this.  Doesn’t it and you deserve better?  Don’t you deserve produce, not produced.  And don’t tell me it’s easier, because I’ll bet you can find time to park your butt on the couch for at least an hour everyday watching TV, get off your butt and get into the kitchen.  Your body will thank you for it.  And if you think I’m ranting on about this, don’t get me started on breakfast cereal.

News!

I am pleased to tell y’all I have a new job!  But I canNOT tell you how pleased I am to be moving on.  I started looking half-heartedly while I was off, completely in the wrong frame of mind as I was thinking no-one would want me.  Then ranked up the search when I was dropped down to part-time hours, sheer red rage fuelling it somewhat.  I applied hither and thither; then when I had a couple of days thinking space and lined all my ducks up, the phone started ringing.

I had 5 interviews in less than a week, 2 second interviews in 3 days, got offered the one I really wanted this morning and took it.  I sent a short, polite email of resignation in, and I am out the door on Wednesday.  I told you when I think to myself, ‘Stuff this!’ life takes care of me, here it is again. 

I will be the one doing the conga down the street in Boronia on Wednesday afternoon.  I will also be the one wiggling her toes against the duvet on Thursday morning as I switch the alarm off and go back to sleep, knowing I never have to prostitute myself or my values again.

This isn’t talked about enough

So I am going to talk about it on here. 

Depression has been described as a ‘black dog’ that follows you around.  For me, it is a black pit that creeps in closer and higher around me, so that it is hard to see light, suffocating me, weighing down on my chest.  I walk with my head bowed, following my feet along the pavement, and have to remind myself to stand tall, let the light in.  I know when I am having a good day, it’s when I look at the horizon.  When I walk along and smell the roses in the gardens as I walk past.

Depression is also a cold hand, clutching at your heart, making you feel worthless in every area of your life, even simple things that you once used to find funny.  If you have a disaster when cooking dinner, that can be the end of your day, sending you to bed stressed to think over and over what you didn’t do on time to fluff up the meal.  If you burn the toast, it can be the end of your day, before it has even begun.  You feel that you are assaulted from every turn, if someone cuts you up when you are driving, it can make you weep. 

Usually somnolent to the point of coma when I sleep overnight, now I am agitated, fidgety.  When I go to sleep, I listen to audio books, I concentrate on the words, print them out in my mind, and so eventually drift off into fitful sleep.  I also struggle to sit down and watch a TV programme, DVD or to read a book, so I choose the easiest, quickest, safest books on my shelf.  The Darling Buds of May series, No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series: both can be dipped into, and are worlds away from my own.  I relish in the imagery of 1950s England and Botswana, removing myself from my life into theirs, albeit briefly, is such a relief. 

But at the same time, I am reading books on how to get through this.  Reminding myself that this is the present moment, that I am not at work, so I shouldn’t be thinking about it, as I am here, slowly learning and unlearning the habits of a lifetime.  Practicing daily that I am ok, that I am full of worth, that I do count. 

I didn’t want to take antidepressants, but if it gets me through the next few weeks or months so that I can function again as a normal human being, I will take them, and gladly.  At the moment, they are still getting into my system, giving me a slight nauseous feeling and when I turn my head, my brain follows slightly afterwards for the first hour or so.  I can’t say they are lifting my mood yet, I’ve only been on them a week.  If when I go back to work, they help stop me from disintegrating into a puddle, then I will be happy they have done their job.  If that is all they do for me, I will be happy.

It’s funny, I get messages from all over the world asking me how I am doing.  But some of my family and friends don’t want to talk about it, it’s like it hasn’t happened.  Or if they don’t talk about it, then they can pretend everything is ok for me.  I don’t open every conversation with ‘Oh by the way, I am clinically depressed’ as what you think about just perpetuates and carries on and on and on.  But you cannot pretend that it isn’t there.  You cannot pretend that at the moment, I am not struggling with my life.  You cannot expect me to walk into a room and light it up, although I am trying to be present.  At the end of the day, people who are depressed need to know that they are safe with their friends and family.  That they can sit there and be quiet; just be, is more important than anything else.  I don’t need you to do anything for me, I need you just to be there for me when I show up either with a phone call, email or text, or in person.  I also am looking out for number one at the moment, I am putting my oxygen mask on first.  I have to fix this, no-one else can, but I need people to lean on every so often.  To remind me of what route to take.  To remind me to hold my head up.  To make me laugh by saying ‘Remember when?’

Yogini

I am just back in the door and fed and red wined from my yoga class.  The first one I’ve done in the evening on the way home from work, and to be fair, probably the last unless I cannot get there at any other time.  It was unbearably hot, we’ve had another 30+ day and I was parked by the windows (pffft), and really busy.  I had a newbie slot herself in next to me so close she could have shared my towel.  I asked her to move as I couldn’t move any where, and then another stupid bint came in on the other side to me, so I was wedged in and couldn’t do some of the postures.  *mutter*

Any hoo, I feel fab for going, it is 90 minutes out of my day, and you really feel on top of the world afterwards.  I was talking to one guy that had also started today, he said that was easily the hardest thing he had ever done, and it is yoga.  One of the guys at work started last week too, his gym is offering the 10 classes for $19, Adrian is fit.  He runs, cycles, weight trains and even he was surprised at how hard it was.

I will miss tomorrow, as I am going to go back to going in the morning, less people and it doesn’t eat into my evening, but I can’t go within 12 hours yet.  I keel over halfway through as I am still learning and still getting used to it, but up until I couldn’t move my arms out and about from my body I was in the yoga zone.   Boo yah!

Had a strange day at work, got lots done as J is away in the Northern Territory (by the time I can spell it right, he’ll be back in Victoria).  But goodness me it was frustrating as well.  But never mind, we’ll get there., or I’ll leave for the sake of my sanity and my marriage.  It is a massive week workload wise, so I am hoping it goes relatively smoothly!

I’ve booked a haircut for Thursday evening.  And now it is booked, the hair-fairy has visited and I can’t do anything with it.  I haven’t had it cut since 21st November, can you believe it?  I can’t when I looked it up, I didn’t realise it was that long ago, despite how long it has got.  My fringe is in my eyes like an emo, not really me, I never did get the hang of ringing my eyes with black eyeliner.  I am waking up in the morning with the most amazing bed hair though, especially as the last couple of days I’ve had a shower in the evening, so go to bed with damp hair.  I vary from Ace Ventura through to Wings through to Spinal Tap.  You will have to take my word for it though, I am not sharing it with you!

Will close for now, but will share this first.  I do hear cyclists when they complain incessantly that they have been knocked off, squished and run over; but then they cycle the wrong way down one-way streets with their sodding iPods in while they are on the road.  Take some responsibility for your actions!

Re-reading an old favourite

It is now my third day in bed, I am tired (still), grumpy, annoyed that I am not at work with the 101 things I have to do, and aching in places I forgot I had since the last time I had the ‘flu. I haven’t been to a doctor, this is only what I think it is, based on my shoulders, wrists and knees aching; that when I lie down my skin hurts; when I have a shower the water hurts like pin pricks.

I’ve been listening to audio books, the five ‘Cat Who’ stories I have on my iPod have been going round and round until I know them by heart. They aren’t even very good books, heaven alone knows why I keep listening to them, maybe it is the small town America I long for, where everyone knows everyone else??

Today I am more awake, ish. I woke up at 11am, as oppose to 1pm, so toddled into the study and stared at the bookshelves. In one of my nights sleeps over the past week I heard a clear sentance:

‘Mummy, you must be dotty if you’re planning to entertain a bunch of alcoholics on the edge of a cliff,’ was all Pagan said.

From Lace by Shirley Conran, I have no idea why it floated into my head. I’ve read the book so many times, first read it when I was in senior school, about 13 years old, a lot of it went over my head. Although I had a very high reading age, I didn’t have the life experience to back it up. The copy I have now is falling apart, I brought it in a charity shop years ago, and every so often I will reach up and try to donate it back to one. But it never seems to leave.

The tag line is ‘The bestselling novel that teaches men about women – and women about themselves’

I am 35 years old, for the first time I really get it. For the first time since I read it at school, I am seeing things in the words that were never there before. It isn’t just a bonk-buster, the relationships that Kate, Pagan, Maxine and Judy share that wax and wane, and are through sick and sin, are real. I have friends in the UK that are really struggling at the moment, a few of them I would dearly love to be able to hop on a plane and sit with them. But I can’t. Likewise they can’t get over to me either at the drop of a hat.

Judy is helping Guy with his haute-couture collection, working from a room rented in a hotel they are making something of their lives. Guy was able to lay out his plans for both Judy and Maxine as easily as they could see the view from the Arc de Triomphe.

One of the 10 laws of life that I am trying to live by is you have to name it to claim it. I cannot drift about waiting for life to happen to me, I need to take some responsibilty in where it is going. Life isn’t cured, it is managed. For me to manage my life, I need to know where I want it to go. Dan and I started that over Christmas with the beginning of a five year plan, but we haven’t fleshed it out yet. We’re still bumping around in the dark here.

One of the hardest things for me to do is to tell people what I want and what I need. And I have already addressed the issue in a letter sent earlier this year. It goes back a long way, but I think (hope) I am getting better at it. I don’t want to live a life in fear, hoping that something great will happen to me. I’ve spoken about this before, when I actually thought about what I wanted, truly wanted from a sacred place, I found it came to me easily. I am living in Australia with a wonderful, caring, funny man to prove that point. I never once thought that by me moving over here, I would automatically leave any problems behind me in the UK, I am not that naive, but I need to find some time for me over the coming week and sit in silence again, to find that place and what it is calling for. Then I can manage my life into getting it.

Reading Lace again, it is showing me like a mirror in my hand, that in some respects I am still that 13 year old girl, still lost in the body of an adult, but with the mind of a child. Do we ever grow up? Or do we assume the persona of someone we think has grown up, and copy them?

On books, bookshops and online interaction

India Knight who is a columnist for The Times, wrote this insightful piece for this weekend’s edition. I used to work at Waterstones, I also worked at the biggest wholesaler of books in Europe.

Winchester had 2 branches of Waterstones, I worked at the smaller one. One thing that was essential in our role as ‘bookseller’ was being able to locate every single book in the shop, straight away, even if it wasn’t your section. You had to learn where books were hiding, how to find the obscure science or business title quickly, because the customer hated to be kept waiting. You had to learn 3 different search sites and engines to find books in print, out of print, overseas and remind customers that ordering something from America on the 20th December – it won’t be in for Christmas. Unfortunately, you can’t tell customers that you’ve had all friggin year to shop for this book, and you try to now? It didn’t matter how rude the customer was, we had to be polite and helpful at all times. You don’t get that buying books with a click, or throwing them in your trolley.

I love bookshops, I will quite happily browse for hours in them. Secondhand, Borders, charity shops or independents; because I was brought up with a love of reading from my parents. I also love libraries, and will happily wander around shelves trawling titles for something that speaks to me, or something I am specifically looking for, or something that I’ve been recommended.

While I also like buying books, I hate being told what to buy because it is on special on the 3 for 2 table. The main reasons they are on special: the publisher printed too many and can’t shift it, so it is discounted; they are planning a big push on a not-fashionable author, so it is discounted; they have redesigned the covers of a series and want new people to read it, so it is discounted; and so on.

Treating books like commodities is not great, they are not cans of beans to rack em, pack em and stack em, but unfortunately that is what the industry has become, the more you buy the cheaper they are. I hate trying to find the ever elusive 3rd book, so Dan and I reached a conclusion before we even left the UK that if we went to buy something specific, we will buy what books we want to buy, whether they are discounted or not. However, for you Anglophiles, be grateful with the price you pay for books, as they are 2-3 times more expensive in Australia, which has increased my visits to libraries and curtailed my book buying. While it is cheaper to buy them online and have them delivered from overseas, you are again cutting out the knowledge of the bookseller who can recommend you titles based on what you like. How many times do you look at something on Amazon for them to ‘recommend’ a book you might like, that bears little or no relation to what you have just looked at?

I thought so, sometimes we need to stop going for the cheapest, easiest option and start talking to people again. Stop doing what you’re doing, just because it is easy. Stop expecting that the cheapest option is the best option. Start interacting with people, the world depends on it. Not just bookshops, but every facet of our lives now are run through computers, I am sharing this with 100s of people around the world via a computer. I would rather be sitting down face to face with my friends and having a coffee with them, than communicating like this. But I chose to live over here, so I choose the consequences that comes with that action.

While computers make our lives easier to communicate over greater distances, (I was able to Skype my parents last night and have a face to face conversation with them [ish]), I came off Facebook because I was sick of looking at a computer what felt like 24/7, if you want to talk to me, talk to me. If you want to write to me, write to me. Don’t like my status, don’t send me links to shitty applications, chain letters or ‘if you forward this on blah blah blah blah’. I am loving seeing pictures of my friend’s baby Poppy coming to us via email, but I loving more that she is taking time out her busy day with a newborn to type me proper emails, not just giving me a thumbs up on a social networking site.

Get out there and talk to people, make eye contact with the people that serve you in shops, say please and thank you, ask for assistance, reward their help with gratitude. Start living in this world, not in the cyber version, people depend on jobs even more now after the GFC, they may be working in a shop, but if you take that away from them, who knows where it will lead? That there could soon be no large chain of bookshops in the UK fills me with horror.

Manic Mondays

We all straggled in over the course of the first hour at work, giving each other kisses, hugs, back slaps and congratulating each other on the New Year. We looked relaxed, calm and stress free – until about lunchtime. It is amazing, I have completed one day at work and already it feels like my week and a bit off is a distant memory. I am fully back into the work zone, although now I am sat in my study, putting the last Harry Potter into iTunes and listening to Dr Phil, he’s giving me my daily pep talk.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly you slip back into real life from any break. Whether a long weekend, a couple of weeks off or even a month or more, as soon as you sit back down at your desk, switch your computer on, you get sucked into Outlook and the Pavlov Dog reaction of replying to every email the nanosecond it comes in. Then people wonder why they don’t get any work done. Some of my colleagues complain because I haven’t answered their email yet, when I tell them I haven’t even read it, they can get apoplectic. I’ve taken off all alerts, the only thing that will tell me I have an email is the cursor when it changes, and then I have to be looking at it to see it. I check my emails when I get in, at lunchtime and before I go home. Moving them over to my folders and task bar, I then work from my task bar, so I can get work done with minimum interruption. The phone will keep ringing, people will stop by my desk, but I read email when I am reading emails. It focuses my mind, helps me prioritise what I am doing, and because people who are now used to how I work KNOW I will get back to them, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t that day – triaging your work flow and all. They know I will action it.

(You can get that Outlook tip for free, I have more if you want them, drop me a line.)

I nearly always have a to-do list as long as my arm, I am a PA, that is what I do. I juggle plates for a living. This year I am going to make a concerted effort to concentrate every day, give my best every day, work as hard as I can every day. There are some days when you think, ‘Nah, it’s just not happening today’ I want to irradicate them from my life. Not only at work, but also the days where you flump onto the couch and stare at the TV with the remote control in your hand, a few hours go by, you look at the ironing, look at the dust and think, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’. I don’t know about you, I am fed up with going to bed, picking up my gratitude journal and thinking ‘I could have done better today’ and kicking myself. This year will be the making of me, I know that already.

2010 is going to be a big year, there is a sense of optimism in the air, let’s all grasp it, hang on to it and use it. After all, it will soon be Friday, then the weekend will whizz past, and before you know it’ll be Monday again.

I’m a donkey on the edge

Started work at 7:45, finished at 6:45. Have brought work home, ish. I need to prepare for my 3 month review tonight. Not too sure where they have gone really, but I have been getting good feedback so far, so keep your fingers crossed.

I have other things I need to do tonight, secret women’s business, Dan is going to stay up to watch us Poms beat the Aussies at cricket bwhahaha.

The only problem is there is a really interesting programme on TV about the plane going into the Hudson. So I will put everything on hold for an hour…

Pregnancy spike?

Dan made me laugh this morning, he wondered if there would be a sudden flurry of babies born 9 months from tonight in April. His reasons?

1. The Ashes first test has finished, so no late night TV watching
2. The Tour De France is on a rest day, ditto
3. Mark Webber won his first Grand Prix

So women all over the country will get their husbands back into bed at a normal time, instead of them coming to bed in the wee hours like they would have done for the past week.

Yes, we are having an early night too. Mainly because neither of us slept well last night, I got caught up in my headphones and nearly strangulated myself. But we will take precautions. I’ll wear a nightie.

On another note, two guys at work are off with the ‘flu. One was told to rest until he was better, the other told not to come in until Thursday – he said he will see how he feels on Wednesday and maybe come in. Why don’t people listen to their doctors? And think they know better, I don’t see all these experts comepleting the same studies that GPs do?

A whole brand new week!

The possibilities are endless really. My weeks always start on a Monday, being a PA my main focus at work is he in the right place at the right time, which over the weekends I don’t have to care about, so Monday up – off we go.

Except that today I am a lady of leisure-ish. I set my alarm for 8am, then ignored it, I woke up when my body woke me up at 9.40am, (though why today it did that and not Sunday when it woke me at 7am heaven alone knows). I am dressed, about to have breakfast and then I am going outside, I am going to leave the house. I am very excited at this prospect. It won’t be a smash and grab at the supermarkado, it will be a leisurely walk to Carnegie, visit shops, potter about, and then more bliss. I am going to the library. I may buy a coffee, I may not. I will be looking at the sky and the trees and saying ‘Where have you been?’ for in the garret we live in, we have vistas of walls. Lovely.

I do have some work to do this afternoon, but not till I have done some work on me. If I had the car, I would go to the gym, sit on a bike and say ‘Yeah baby! My legs still work!’ But DG has the car, so I will stride purposefully instead and be proud of my body.

On a sad note, and I am not too sure how to write this. Isabelle, Caireen’s mum passed away on Saturday night from cancer. Luckliy the whole family was able to be there and row her out for her final journey. Considering how poorly she has been, while it is horrible when someone you love dies, I hope it is also a relief for them. Being in Melbourne while they are in and about London it is difficult to tell. Communication is mostly by text and email, although I will ring this week to see how they are all doing. Patrick’s stag weekend was supposed to be rollicking on over the Saturday and Sunday, but as he was at the hospital too, it obviously didn’t happen.

Caireen has already said the wedding will go on, and will be a celebration of Isabelle’s life, although her getting married without her Mum cheering her on will be the hardest thing she has done. Much love to all the Kennedys.