“But will it make you happy?”

Aside

A beautiful friend of mine has helped me navigate through life over the last few years. When I contemplate a change or a desire to do something, I hear her voice inside of my head saying, “but will it make you happy?” This resonates with me as it is so important to simply be happy. I’m not saying everything we do will make us happy but it something to work towards, right?

A few years back I started journalling 3 things that made me happy during the day. At first it was a struggle, I really had to grasp at anything. Obvious responses included my children and husband but that was mainly based on what they were doing in their lives. I’m not surprised that work didn’t feature… On reflection, reading back over some of the entries, there are some strange ones. For example, “I love a clean home.” Well that’s nice but sad if that was one of the top 3 things that made you happy that day. Or this one, “I am recovering from a virus- health is very important.” Should that even count??

Not to worry, a couple of months into doing this I think I got better and wanted to share with you, a snippet of things that make me happy:-

Jacaranda trees

cool nights being wrapped in a doona
the sound of leaves rustling in the wind
blue skies
jacaranda trees
hot chocolate
stargazing
likeminded people
crickets calling at night
the early bird catching a worm
rain on the roof
purring cats
unexpected gifts
hugs
beachcombing

If we take the time to be in moment, practicing mindfullness, we can really appreciate it. Simple pleasures can give us a sense of happiness if we let them. So why share this now? Maybe someone in the universe needs me to share this? Who knows? So what makes you happy?

Learning to let go

Last year I spent a weekend away with a beautiful soul, Caroline (and yes it has taken me a long time to blog this). We celebrated her birthday in style at the Wanderlust festival on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. We immersed ourselves in in a diverse range of activities including singing, yoga, meditation, chanting and music.

Caroline and I attended mainly yoga and meditation sessions. One had me in fits of laughter, while another exposed my vulnerability and I spent most of the session with hot tears running down my cheeks. During our downtime Caroline and I analysed and reflected on our sessions.

It was no surprise to me that a lot of stuff bubbled to the surface. For years my sister in law (yes the older wise one) has continued to remind me that I hold on to ‘stuff’- some like to call this emotional baggage. I understand how unhealthy it is to carry grief, guilt, anger and some of my ‘stuff’ goes back over twenty years. One of the yogi instructors suggested we carry this emotional burden in our pelvic area and we keep on layering it if we don’t let it go. When I am highly anxious or stressed, my body seizes up especially around my neck and shoulder areas. It is certainly unhealthy.

Holding on to ‘stuff’ stops us from moving forward, being in the moment, forgiving and sometimes loving again. Can you be truly happy again if you hold on to grief so tightly it consumes every waking moment? Do you miss the magic of life if you’re too busy reliving the past?

So is letting go the same as forgetting or pretending ‘stuff’ didn’t happen? I think if ‘stuff’ resurfaces in some form such as a memory or a conversation, you can acknowledge it but then move on, don’t emotionally invest in it again. When I was seeing a counsellor several years ago she suggested you treat it as memory that passes across your line of vision but then it keeps moving on. She said if you try to block it out you won’t succeed so you need to acknowledge it.

My personal journey to improve my mental health is certainly ongoing and I am definitely a work in progress but hopefully me sharing this will help others.Wanderlust

Camping Etiquette 101

155797_10151693614962017_1593539900_n[2]Okay before I dive head first into this blog I want to start by giving you a little insight into my relationship with my better half.  Think yin yang, peaches and cream, good cop bad cop, cats and dogs…we’re complete opposites but so perfectly matched.  Now I’m going to be honest with you I’m the glass half empty and he’s the glass half, actually he’s the glass QUITE full especially if it’s his home brew!  I needed to paint a picture before I have a little whinge….

So back to the blog…actually before I get there….let me state for the record that I LOVE CAMPING!  Being out in the open, the scenery, camp cooking, toasting marshmallows and watching the ambers of the campfire glow, NOT being at work, what a great way to spend time with loved ones.

Alright so now back to the blog….my little whinge…Why don’t people follow the unwritten rules of camping etiquette?

  • SMOKING You know, I have spoken to a number of Park Managers/owners and they are all in agreement that smoking on campsites needs to be reviewed.  I know I am quite sensitive to cigarette smoke but come on people, smoking within 5 metres of where I sleep is not cool especially if I am trying to sleep. Don’t get me started on cigarette butts that litter camping areas too.  One camp manager I spoke to suggested having a designated smoking zone.  Not only would this contain the litter, it would also give the smokers’ a space that they can enjoy their habit without affecting non-smoking campers ESPECIALLY CHILDREN. Let me know readers if you have found a non-smokers Garden of Camping Eden!
  • MY CAMPSITE IS NOT AN EASEMENT  Okay so I may have personal space issues but I kind of get a little irked when people walk right through our campsite. It’s like, okay the shortest route to the amenities is in a straight line! I really try hard to teach my kids to walk on the pathways/tracks/easements and NOT through campsites, it’s a shame others don’t.  Worse still, we have not only had people park (and sleep in their car) on our campsite but also sit at the camp table provided on our site and decide to sing and belt out tunes on the guitar late one night. In this instance being heavily pregnant with my third child did not help matters either.  This was a National Park and it was NOT suitable for the congregation of about 100 that turned up. Not sure what is more annoying someone walking past my bed at midnight or 5am especially if they are chit chatting with their toilet buddy?
  • WASTE MANAGEMENT  Park managers need to understand that for people to use bins correctly that you have to make it REALLY, REALLY simple.  I mean I know it is fairly obvious that the bins near the fish cleaning area with the sign above it saying FISH WASTE ONLY means exactly that but some people still don’t get it.  It would seem also that if bins are too far away from camping areas that campers either litter or make do with the small bin supplied at the amenities block.  For some campers too, I feel that they are still struggling with the idea of recycling. Admittedly though I have been to a handful of camping areas that seem to have it right.  One park we stayed at even had a bin for used batteries!
  • NOISE POLLUTION  I’m talking REALLY, REALLY LOUD MUSIC enough said.
  • RULE BREAKERS So I’ve been told on the odd occasion that I’m black and white, a rule follower and it is true.  If we don’t have rules we would have complete chaos.  I understand that sometimes people unintentionally break rules.  However some people must think they are above this or the rules don’t apply to them.  One in particular moment sticks to mind here. NO DOMESTIC ANIMALS IN NATIONAL PARKS- to most of us this is a fairly simple and clear rule. Aw no not for some.  Whilst camping in a beautiful park in South East Queensland we once had the unpleasant experience of other campers deciding that our patch looked so good they would camp so close to us that our tent ropes crossed over. I mean who in their right mind would set up camp next to newlyweds-well this family of happy campers did! (By the way tents have very thin walls). And before you say it must have been very busy let me point out that the campsite was near empty and about the size of half a football field.  Go figure….Anyway after I got over my personal space issue one of the campers pulled out a pet rat! Noice! I mean really!

I mean is it that hard people? Or am I too black and white? Uptight? Anally retentive? I don’t know maybe I should consult Glass Quite Full Man. I’m sure he couldn’t care less!  Would love to know what others think on this issue!

An almost Staycation

I love the concept but completely fail in the execution!

Ok I admit, when it comes to a Staycation I am a complete failure!  “So what’s a staycation?” I hear some of you ask-quite simply it’s a holiday at home.  It’s when you down tools, explore your local area, dine at that restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, put your feet up with that pile of magazines that you get delivered but never get the time to read.  Or if you have kids you go bike riding, have a movie marathon night, play games, cool stuff like that.  You get the picture, right?

Well I find this simply near impossible.  I always end up finding something to clean, sort, dig, organise, label and did I mention clean? Watch out kids if you sit still for too long I’ll give you a job to do.  These habits for me are certainly engrained.  Even when I sit for too long I feel guilty and think I’m wasting time and go and find something to do.

So January holidays we stayed at a caravan park 40 mins from home.  This was a small compromise for me.  The positives were that the boys could fish, swim in the river, use the park facilities and not be hassled by me to ‘do jobs.’I spent the week, reading, blogging, painting and hanging out with the boys.  As my hubby had to work, he came to stay with us each night.  We’ve not had to worry about the house and pets as hubby checked on these daily.  As crazy as it sounds our holiday also supported local businesses too.

The only negatives were that we had to outlay $$$$$ for our campsite and we had very loud neighbours 🙁

Fast forward to today, so I am reattempting the staycation.  I have two words to describe it, EPIC FAIL.  I’ve managed to clean out the kids bedrooms, clear out an aging magazine collection, sort out the study, clean, iron etc.

So for my next attempt maybe I’ll take on some of my own tips:

  • set a budget
  • get input from everyone what they’d like to do
  • research your local area
  • clean the house the day before the official start of the staycation
  • use items only saved for special occasions (Royal Doulton darlings)
  • lock up electronics (if the family needs a break from these)
  • line up a good book
  • dust off the old boardgames
  • keep meals simple, go for a picnic, have a night out
  • don’t feel guilty
  • most IMPORTANTLY have FUN!!!

Christmas 2013 debrief

Christmas can be a crazy time of the year for many people.  It can be stressful, joyful and did I mention crazy.  For our family it has usually meant a pilgrimage back to our hometown, Brisbane. Whether it be the gift giving, organising food, trying to please family, drinking too much or putting differences aside just for one day of the year, it can be tough.  Some of us do it well, some of us fail dismally and the rest of us sit somewhere in between.

I have found the hardest thing to do deal with over the years are the Christmases our families have had where we have lost loved ones during the year. This year Reece (my hubby) lost his father, so when you have special moments like birthdays. Christmas etc you do feel it.

So what did I do well this year??? Well I was happy with the gifts we gave.  I worked right up to the 20th this year, which left me little time to do my usual baking etc.  However my parents came down a couple of weeks before Christmas and my Mum spent a day baking with my boys.  So coaches, teachers and scout leaders received some homemade bikkies and something extra special in a Christmas card.  This year I decided to donate to the Australian Red Cross and the Smith Family as part of our gift to those involved with the boys.  The best part of this was that I inspired others to do the same.

In regards to gift giving and family, that can be a tough gig.  I really struggle with this every year. Years ago I sat down and showed Reece how much we spent on Christmas, it was a very expensive ordeal especially when we use to fly home for Christmas.  We use to forgo pressies for each other.  Even now it’s usually only something small. Let’s face it, none of us need anything….we do it out of tradition.  Thankfully over the last couple of years our relatives have decided to embrace Secret Santa, where everyone just gets one gift.  This is a work in progress and I’m learning to just go with it.  But the pressure I put on myself, CRAZY!  The pressies I love giving are the ones I’ve made, others that are made by local craftspeople, experiences (movie tickets). I find kids are sometimes the toughest to buy for mainly because I hate plastic toys!

Reece and I got through it fairly unscathed. How??? Maybe we were just lucky?  I have to admit I did try to be on my best behaviour.  Reece and I did share a few moments reflecting on 2013 and we are so grateful to have each other and our boys.  We have our health, home and hearts.

I’d like to dedicate this post to those loved ones who are now with us in spirit.

Birthday Party Dilemma(the price you pay for trying to be environmentally friendly)

hayden's party 2So Mr Four is now Mr Five!  Can I just say before I dive into my dilemma that we had a great party today despite what I am just about to moan about.

Mr Five wanted a little party with his mates at a local indoor playcentre.  No worries I thought, we’ll see what we can do.  On investigating we decided to go with the ‘just book a table option and bring your own food in’.  This appealed to me as I really didn’t want to pay for packaged food and I’m trying to make a more conscious effort to reduce the amount of palm oil, preservatives etc in our diet. However I did relent and ordered an overpriced hot platter of party pies and sausage rolls as I thought I’d do the right thing and purchase some of the food from the playcentre.  So as far as I knew I was up for $8.50 each child for entry and $35 (I know steep hey) for the hot food platter.  I spoke to 2 staff members prior to the party and neither said any different.

As we were setting up for the party, one of the employees informed me that as I had bought in my own birthday cake I would be charged an extra $10.  To add to this she also informed me that I would be charged an extra $50 for supplying our own food.

The bottom line is that because I chose to spend time making healthier home made food options for the party we were going to be charged more for bringing it along instead of choosing the playcentre prepackaged choices.  Keep in mind that I also paid for the ingredients to make everything too.

I voiced my disappointment with this to the staff more than once, she knocked $20 off the extra charge. However I was still not happy and as I explained to her that of the Mums and Dad that were there, several would buy cappuccinos and as it was so hot quite a few parents succumbed to pressure and bought iceblocks for their kids.

I don’t know, do I have a right to complain?  Should I have just booked a party and turn a blind eye to the food I am trying to eliminate from our diet?  I just wanted to make a few things for the party and for the kids to have a great time.  I just wish I could have turned up today fully informed. What do you think?

 

My Ocean Harvest

With the salty sea breeze caressing my face, the cool water licking at my feet, whales frolicking on the horizon and the osprey circling  above I was transported away to a moment of happiness.  I could here the kids squealing with delight as they constructed a pool and then later entombed their older cousins in the sand. Yes people I was at the beach, Noosa North Shore to be precise.

Now please don’t be alarmed by what I am about to tell you next…..Are you ready?….Okay…..Sure?……So beside the fact that I was having some well deserved R & R with my family, I was also on a mission to catch a fish!  Earlier on in the day we had collected a couple of dozen pippies in hope to entice our dinner to join us.

So after a few unsuccessful attempts at casting a surf rod beyond the first breaker, my darling husband, Reece, decided to man up and help me out. (He’s so strong!) Shortly after I hauled our first dart of the day. Reece stepped up yet again by dehooking, rebaiting and casting my line. Over the course of the afternoon I caught three more dart and a bream (all legal size). I was happy.

I felt it was important to write this blog as this is part of who I am.  Ever since I was old enough to hold a rod, my parents would take my brother and I fishing in the passage near Bribie Island.  These were magical times.  For not only did we connect as a family, it was an opportunity to connect back to our roots. Yes we are all descendants of hunters and gatherers and depending where we lived would determine our diet.

Today it is a  completely different story.  It’s convenient food for our fast paced lifestyles.  Too tired to cook? Busy day at the office?  Nothing in the Fridge? Food these days for the affluent, comes premade, precooked, packaged, frozen, chemically altered and potentially has travelled more times overseas than I have.  Getting all your meals from a grocery store, dining out or take away conveniently also disconnects us from the source. Take for instance the frozen prawns my friend bought the other day.  Caught in Australia but packed for your convenience in China.  My friend had made the innocent assumption (like most of us who have any nous of common sense) that being Australian it would be packed here.

I honestly believe that if you source food directly from mother nature you will reap the benefits.  So what does one learn from a fishing experience? Catching a meal takes time, patience, respect and knowledge. That afternoon helped me reconnect with ocean. The fish that I caught we were grateful for, we only took enough for a meal and the osprey who had been patiently circling above graciously accepted the frames which we shared with him.

Jamie Oliver and Me

Confessions of a foodie.  My ‘not so secret’ love affair.

Intrigued? Jealous? Well don’t be too shocked! My relationship with Jamie Oliver is purely based on my food obsession.  Have you ever made a list of people you’d love to invite for dinner? Well Jamie’s definitely on my list. Rest assured Jools (Jamie’s better half), I’m not one of those crazy stalkers who sends inappropriate gifts.  For heaven’s sake it’s not that sort of relationship. Besides I’m a happily married woman.

Although my relationship with Jamie is purely one sided we do share a love of food, the environment and helping others.  My apologies if my heading misled you, I really wanted to see if my husband is reading my posts (love you honey).

So I’m loving Jamie’s new series based on his new book, ‘Save with Jamie’ (Penguin, 2013). Jamie has such a natural way of engaging with people.  His passion is contagious. His book and the series is dedicated to cooking beautiful  home meals that are  reasonably healthy and cheap. Jamie’s instinctual cooking methods allows home cooks to feel good about being flexible and creative.  YES- it’s okay to not measure everything (lugs of oil, knobs of butter), get your hands dirty and substitute ingredients. More importantly though, Jamie’s committed to showing you clever ways to reduce food waste by snazzing up leftovers, freezing and planning.

Save with Jamie is far from being just another cookbook.  In addition to the 120 money saving meals, it also contains detailed nutrition information, shopping tips, kitchen organisation and plenty of inspiring photos.  What a great team Jamie must have!

So to wrap up my post, I thought $24 for Jamie’s book was a great investment.  I also don’t mind sharing my living room with Jamie on a Thursday night, 7:30pm,  when he brings the pages of his book to life with his TV series.  So Jamie if you’re reading this, feel free to pop in for dinner and we can talk turkey about employment opportunities for an obsessed foodie who wants to change the world with you. Love you Jamie (note to self-okay, that may be a little stalkerish).

For your own copy of Jamie’s book visit: http://www.jamieoliver.com/savewithjamie/

FOOD WASTE NASTY FACTS (extra)

Food waste is one of my all time pet hates. Did you know that in  New South Wales (Australia), 800 000t of food from households ends up in landfill? This equates to 315kg of food waste or 38% of  household waste or $1036 per year per household. As it is a significant amount, it also contributes to climate change as the breakdown process of food creates methane. (http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.nsw.gov.au/love-food/environmental-impacts.aspx#production) On a more global scale, according
to a study conducted by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization,
one-third of all the food produced around the world, approximately 1.3 billion
tons a year, is never eaten. I know Jamie would not be happy about that.

 

 

Start by doing one simple thing…..

It truly is as simple as making one change.  I did the other day by putting up a “No advertising Mail” sign up on my letter box.  According to www.ecohub.perth.wa.gov.au Globally, it is estimated that 100 million trees are  harvested to produce junk mail each year. In Australia, 8.2 billion  articles of junk mail are produced every year, along with over 650  million articles of addressed promotional mail. So what are the pros and cons in doing this?

Cons- needed to outlay money to buy the sign, time to put it up, possibly miss out on a few specials

Pros-reduce my annual paper waste by about 40-50kgs, not be enticed in buying more ‘stuff’, time better spent doing something a little more constructive than reading junk mail

I have to admit that once the sign was up I felt really good that I was making a difference. In a way I felt empowered. To be honest with you I have not missed the junk mail at all. So, an easy DIY project for this weekend.

Source: http://www.ecohub.perth.wa.gov.au/categories/waste/actions/no-junk-mail-and-spam/