Sunday, October 30, 2011

Simple Abundance: Dreams vs Expectations


My sweet friend Monica mailed me a series of three postcards recently, on which she handwrote the following passage from Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. These words have really got me thinking... and have also prompted me to pull out my own copy of this extraordinary tome.

Dreams and expectations and two very different things. Dreams call for a leap of faith, trusting that Spirit is holding the net, so that you can continue in the re-creation of the world with your energy, soul, gifts, and vision. Expectations are the emotional investment the ego makes in a particular outcome: what needs to happen to make the dream come true. [...]

The passionate pursuit of dreams sets your soul soaring; expectations that measure the dream's success tie stones around your soul. I don't think we should lower our expectations; I believe if we truly want to live a joyous and adventurous life, we should relinquish them.

Living your life as a dreamer and not as an "expector" is a personal declaration of independence. You're able to pursue happiness more directly when you don't get caught up in delivery details. Dreaming, not expecting, allows Spirit to step in and surprise you with connection, completion, consummation, celebration. You dream. Show up for work. Then let Spirit deliver your dream to the world.

Powerful stuff, no?

Thank you Monica, for a very special reminder to dream and to let go.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Getting better


Reiko smiled too, cigarette in mouth. "You are a good person, though. I can tell that much from looking at you. I can tell these things after seven years of watching people come and go here: there are people who can open their hearts and there are people who can't. You're one of the ones who can. Or, more precisely, can if you want to."

"What happens when people open their hearts?"

Reiko clasped her hands together on the table, cigarette dangling from her lips. She was enjoying this. "They get better," she said.

Haruki Murakami
Norwegian Wood

Friday, October 28, 2011

Grateful for


1. The children's space at the Melbourne Museum. This sweet little tree, proudly displaying the artwork of little people from all over the State, reminded me of Yoko Ono's wish tree at MoMa. Imagine if a whole new generation grew up trusting this way of dreaming for themselves and the world...

2. Sunshine, sunshine, sunshine. And a silk Summer dress.

3. My therapist describing me as "Sad. And super-loveable."

4. Spending altogether too much time and money on Japanese stationery. My downfall if there ever was one!!

5. A very fitting and rather moving tribute to Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton's 25 year film reviewing partnership.

6. Making Mister Maker-inspired totem poles with my little 'un (pictured below, so fun!).

7. Resting, reading and journalling during nap time, ignoring the perennial list of "shoulds".

8. Reading this exquisitely brave piece (and its postscript) by Goddess Leonie: a must-read for anyone who has experienced depression, post-natal or otherwise.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

The best housewarming gift I could think of


Her best five colours
will be crocheted together.
Love, to keep her warm.

[Go here for more creative love!]

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Worthiness Wednesday #31 The gifts of failure


One of my favourite Australian comedians, Judith Lucy, ran a seriously fabulous stand-up show in the Melbourne Comedy Festival a few years ago called "I failed!". As with a lot of her work it was dry, confronting, hysterical and ultimately endearing. I know it's a cliche but I laughed and cried and saw a lot of myself in her wry observations.

So, I was tempted to call this post "I FAILED!" and crack open a bottle of champagne. Then possibly wrap myself in a feather boa, recline extravagantly on my sofa (pretending it was a chaise longue) and spend the afternoon listening to Django Reinhart. Or somesuch.

Then, I thought, that's not strictly accurate. I didn't fail. IT failed. And I could pretend that it didn't, and just plough on with these posts as if nothing happened. But I feel compelled to put my money where my mouth is as far as being honest, transparent, vulnerable goes. (And I like the way Cathy, inspired by Susannah, have put it: in any given day, some things are good and some things are shit, so why don't we all just tell it like it is?).

So, I got all caught up with the Blogtoberfest love and I was mega-excited about my 30th Worthiness Wednesday post and I decided that I would host my first giveaway. I had visions of thousands, well hundreds, well maybe more than twelve people diving in and proclaiming their worthiness, partly out of the sheer liberated excitement of saying those three words out loud, and partly because two fantastic books were in the offing.

A quiet shy voice in my head suggested that if six people commented, that would be a wonderful thing.

I decided to ignore it.

Which is why, three days later on the appointed time to draw the names of all those thousands/hundreds/twelve participants out of a hat, the failure of my little initiative was pretty hard to ignore. Three people had commented, one of whom had made something beautiful, as per the prompt.

As far as the giveaway itself was concerned, it was a bit of a no-brainer. My darling Monica, my sweetest Phil and the delightful newcomer Margaret are all recipients of the books of their choice. And subsequent comments by the treasured Jan, the really very pretty Lea, and our ever-gracious host {TinnieGirl} also warmed my heart... not only because their contributions brought my total responses to six!

Here's the thing: I realised something in the course of my barrelling towards failure. I am not a high profile blogger. I might never ever be. I'm not really offering something that will appeal to the overwhelming majority of the world's blog-reading population. And that's probably a good thing! I'm largely writing for myself and, if I am going to be honest, I'm not sure that I am comfortable with my blog becoming a major part of my public identity or income stream (though I do have total respect, a huge amount of admiration, and a bit of envy for people who do manage to pull off the latter two!)

So in running this giveaway, I actually gave myself a bit of perspective. And that felt like quite an important, and welcome, gift.

And, suddenly, it didn't really feel much like failure at all. Or maybe the truth was, that failure itself wasn't all that bad.

Even sharing it now isn't all that icky... although I must confess I do have a residual worry that friends reading this will feel bad for not having participated in the giveaway, or that the sweet souls who did participate will feel like their contribution wasn't adequate, because this is not my intention and nothing could be further from the truth. The response I did receive left m delighted and supported and "got" beyond measure.

This week, I invite you -- my small but quality community of beloved kindred spirits -- to stand with me in this place where reality does not meet your expectations. How can your expectations be lovingly dismantled? And what will they look like when tenderly reassembled? What does this process have to teach you about the ways in which you set yourself up to fail, try and make your projects resemble someone else's, want to be something you're not? What does it have to show you about the beauty of what you do have and how perfect it is for you alone?

With curiosity and compassion, I invite you to look with loving eyes at the unique things that you offer the world. And know that they are enough, just as they are.

There are such powerful gifts in this journey. And you are most worthy of them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nice news


Unexpected call
My job is now permanent
Pizza celebration

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gorgeousness from the past few days...


* all the love I have been receiving in the mail from dear ones

* painting adventures with my little 'un

* skyping for the first time with my gorgeous friend Jen, who lives in Atlanta, including all the delicious nervous goodness of a first date

* booking tickets to take my sister to So Frenchy, So Chic at Werribee Park Mansion in January next year for her birthday

* my little 'un's new "big girl bed" arriving

* finally getting started on some sizeable domestic projects I had been putting off (never replace a fence unless you have to, people!)

* discovering the delectable world of dottie angel, and especially savouring her delectable book

* making plans for a date night to see Midnight in Paris with my husband

* working on a series of canvases (my first commission) and pushing past the "ugly" phase to see something really coherent and beautiful start to emerge

* dear friends of mine in New York going out of their way to help the friend of another dear friend of mine plan her trip to NYC with toddler in tow

* the good nature of fellow travellers on Melbourne public transport, despite delays and disruptions caused by protests in the city

* purple irises

* learning about what my blog is and what my blog isn't, and who I am and who I'm not, and that it's all good (more on that soon!)

* just being where I am, and this being a lot easier than I'd /feared/imagined

Friday, October 21, 2011

Colours of my heart


She paints fearlessly
Marvels as the hues emerge
Does not label shapes

Does not question joy
"My best favourite all the time"
My heart swells with pride

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Worthiness Wednesday #30 Just say it! (and a giveaway)


Well, here we are at 30 Worthiness Wednesday posts! Thank you for sharing this journey with me so far. I have no idea, really, where it will lead me (and, sometimes, why I persist) but I know this weekly opportunity to reflect on my journey with this beautiful, frightening word has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

This week I am honouring two of the most poignant and powerful things I have learnt so far, namely:

1) We really are connected, especially through our struggles. It might feel like we are the only ones who struggle with stuff but, in reality, everyone has stuff. And, actually, it's not so different from ours. When we are as brave and open and as specific as we can be, others can see themselves in our sadness and our longings. Sharing our fears and experiences feels like holding hands in the darkness. It's not always easy to reach out but it is always rewarding.

2) That spending time with words, especially through art, somehow makes the most complex and confronting ideas so much easier and less daunting. It's like they can be internalised through our limbs. I am not sure how this works, exactly. Perhaps it has to do with how smart our bodies are and how much clearer and less overwhelming our stuff can be when we get out of our heads and just allow ourselves move/make/do exactly as we are. (For example, I'm in the process of making some artwork for a friend and I have been writing out a poem, letter by letter using tiny Japanese ink stamps. Spending time with each word in this way, using my hands, it's like the words are coming alive. Their beauty is almost visceral and seems to be seeping in through my fingers.)

So, in celebration of these two things, here's what I am inviting you to do:

Spend some time with these three words: I AM WORTHY

Look at them. Write those nine letters out, over and over again. Embroider them into your pillowcase. Stamp them onto a postcard with ink stamps and mail it to yourself. Write them backwards, looking in a mirror. Cut out letters from a newspaper and make yourself a reverse ransom note. Paint them in swirling brightly coloured letters. Write them in non-toxic textas all over your arms. Scribble them with lipstick on your mirror. Say them over and over into your webcam and make yourself a video love letter. Sing them like a song. Breathe them like a poem. Fashion them out of glittery pipecleaners. Hammer them into a pendant. Collage them onto a canvas.

Whatever you choose to do, document it (e.g. blog post, photo, video) and tell us about it in the comments below.

On Saturday night, here in Melbourne Australia, I am going to make a list of all the kindred spirits who have joined me in this celebration, cut it up and draw out two names at random.



Longtime readers of this blog will know that these two books are my go-to resources for worthiness, and I would recommend them without hesitation! The plan is for me to order them via Amazon and have them shipped to the lucky winners, wherever they are in the world.

Between now and Saturday night, will you join me? Will you stop what you're doing, give yourself a break from all the hard work, cut yourself some slack, take the deepest breath and just say it?

I am worthy.

You are worthy. We are worthy.

Yes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Never were truer words spoken (well sort of)


"Twinkle twinkle little star,
how I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so crazy..."

"Old MacDonald had a farm
e i e i o
and on that farm he had a
Buddha..."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Where I've been


In a moment of clarity,
I see all the places I've been:
so few of them where I actually was.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blogtoberfest self-portrait challenge


This is me today:
determinedly cheeky;
resplendent in green.

[Check out more Blogtoberfest-inspired self-portraits here!]

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I'd rather be...

With thanks to TinnieGirl for the inspiration!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Grateful for


1. The simple things that calm me down, get me back on track, make me feel more in control. They're not exciting by any means (e.g. two loads of laundry, washing the dishes, watering houseplants, ironing what I'm going to wear to work tomorrow, freshly laundered towels, cooking a spanakopita) but they sure help to "clear the decks", as my husband would say.

2. Sunshine and opening the windows to let in the fresh air.

3. This incredible biff-in-the-solar-plexus poem posted by Summer Pierre today.

4. Stopping to hear to the plaintive note in my little 'un's invitation: "Mummy, won't you sit down with me for a little wild?".

5. Her delight at our little creative play that incorporated all of her favourite things: halloween, gloopy glue, MT Tape, googly eyes and colouring-in. [Check out more delightful creative play spaces here.]

6. My husband and I planning a "date night" for January, including seeing Beirut at the Forum Theatre and dinner at MoVida beforehand (the first time we have ever successfully managed to get a booking at this restaurant, only three months ahead!).

7. Face mask, manicure, pedicure during nap time. Sure, it's less relaxing than when someone else does it for me at a salon or day spa, but it's my favourite form of indulgence on a shoestring... and there's much less chance of someone talking me out of mint green nail polish with gold glitter on top!

8. Dreaming about New York while marinating in Sibella Court's sensory tours.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Worthiness Wednesday #29 Missed Connections


Last week, I posted an observation that I envied a particular group of people who evidently felt part of something greater than themselves. My pal Gill commented in response, "You DO belong to something greater than yourself! We are all connected."

Of course, she was right.

But I have to say: it doesn't always feel like that. In the throes of boredom, reliving old shame patterns, loneliness, rejection... it can feel overwhelmingly like I'm the only one who suffers in this way, and that no-one else cares. Even though, rationally and logically I know this can't be true.

Yesterday was a difficult day here at chez nous. Let's just say that I am not the only one who labours under the burden of their stuff. For escape and solace, I curled up under a blankie on the couch with a book and cup of herbal tea and some dark chocolate.

Luckily for me, it was not just any book! I've been following Sophie Blackall's Missed Connections NY blog on and off pretty much since it started and was delighted to see that she'd published a book of some of her illustrations. As expected, it was exquisite, moving, poignant. [I'd highly recommend you give this book as a gift to a treasured loved one or, better still, your treasured loved self]

These words in Sophie's introduction really jumped out at me:

We have only one life, and we rush through it. We make choices and follow paths and we don't linger too long at crossroads. Moments of intimacy with strangers are minor detours we rarely explore, but those moments make us feel alive, and human, and part of something greater than ourselves.

This beautiful sentiment, captured in such a vibrant and compelling way in the book, made me look back on my day with a newfound curiosity. For a moment I was taken outside myself. And tiny moments of missed connection became signposts in my day, ones that I'd been prone to forget in the busyness of everything that followed.

I couldn't help but think: if I were to post a Missed Connections ad, what would it say?

Shiny long dark hair on the 112. You offered me your seat on the tram. It was so obviously impractical, seeing as I couldn't get around my daughter's pram, but your thoughtful smile and your eagerness to help were so appreciated.

Middle aged camp in the deli queue. Thank you for laughing so heartily at my joke about the "analogue" take-a-number system. You seriously made my afternoon.

And if someone were to write one about me?

You were coming out the door of the ophthamologist's foyer, I was going in. You were wielding a pram, I was head to toe in kingfisher blue polyester. Thanks for holding open the door for me. And I really agree that wearing bright colours on a gloomy day makes all the difference.

This week, I invite you to take a moment to reflect upon the tiny connections you have had with strangers. There's no need to act on them, unless you feel compelled and safe enough to do so, but that's not really the point. See what happens when you give yourself a moment to savour what you saw and the possibilities you felt. Can you feel that delicate frisson when you ponder the Missed Connections ad you might have posted (but won't)?

What, do you suppose, that same stranger might have posted (but won't) about you?

You deserve tiny tender exquisite moments of possibility and connection that take you outside yourself (if only for that moment). And you are worthy of being seen.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ye(s)llow


I may be too old and too fat to be twee
but I say YES to yellow!



Sunday, October 9, 2011

Unlocking that door


"She'd been working so hard all year, why shouldn't it have arrived around then: that "click" when it feels as if a previously locked door has opened and words and sentences suddenly seem to exist in a new dimension located somewhere between your brain and the screen or page, leading you through an infinite house whose rooms have strange geometric shapes you've never seen before, yet you always somehow know where you are."

Francisco Goldman
Say Her Name

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I choose delight


* in the colours of Spring

* in all the demands of my day job

* in this morning's facial, some very luxurious time to myself

* in making plans

* in watching The Slap

* in my daughter asking to go out in the garden so she could play with her "wonderful Dad-Dad"

* in paint chips

* in listening to the extraordinary interviews that Goddess Leonie has gathered for the World's Biggest Summit (unbelievable quality and absolutely free)


* in consciously moving beyond perfectionism -- one moment at a time -- in the art I am making for a friend

* in roquefort

* in subscriptions to fledgling but worthwhile endeavours

* in the smell of recent rain

* in the possibility that someone very dear may visit me here in Australia in the near future

* in giving, and being open to receiving

* in the realisation that I can't not buy books, even though I have pledged not to buy anything new all month, even though I have stuck to the pledge in every other way, even though there are some excellent libraries nearby, even though I have loads of friends I could borrow from/swap with

* in this new spaciousness I feel within

Friday, October 7, 2011

Love


For deep deep breaths

For quiet courage

For circling, circling, circling

For tentative sharing of fears

For stillness and listening with intent

For holding hands

For the soft space where grudges are unheard of

For hope for the future

For shoulders easing

For tender boldness

For butterfly cramps receding

For letting go and for holding tight

Love

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Holding pattern


"Yes, I am OK," I heard myself saying, "But there is something that is really getting me down. So I'm in a holding pattern until I can work out what I can do about it."

This is where I am today: in the holding pattern. In this place, I see that there are many blessings and these are what I am going to practice gratitude for today.

1. The knowledge that all my creative projects are happily on hold, in this little cosy nest that is my study/studio... but also in my creative spirit, which may hibernate but never truly goes away. Pictured here in my creative space is a few of the things I'm working on and look forward to picking up again when I am feeling more me again: a letter-writing bonanza; my Soul Restoration life journal; a fabulously fun way of thinking through what I'd really like to do when I "grow up" (whenever that might be); and some serious soul work that has stalled due to deep excavation. For nourishment and inspiration, check out more creative spaces here!

2. A lovely impromptu family breakfast at our favourite local cafe, as my husband had a late morning meeting on the other side of town. Our little journey included the sight of several brightly coloured parrots, brightly singing to each other and happily munching on iridescent wattles. My little 'un sang out, "Have a lovely breakfast, Mister Parrot! We're going to Lauren and Tom's house!".

3. Morning tea at my sister's house, including freshly baked cupcakes with coloured sprinkles. Making plans to sew a couple of experimental dresses together, inspired by the simple patterns and gorgeous fabrics in this book.

4. I can't make it past three... but I sure am grateful for those three.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Worthiness Wednesday #28 Post a little love


There's a few reasons that I feel damn lucky to live in Melbourne, and Women of Letters is one of them. Having attended one of the first events in the series, I can attest that it is every bit as fun, clever and moving as it appears. It also seems to be sparking a letter-writing renaissance.

Growing up, I was an avid -- if somewhat inconsistent -- correspondent. I suspect that the main reason for this was that all of our relatives lived overseas. It was also life pre-internet and pre-mobile phones, and long-distance phone calls were exorbitant.

And then I grew older, and more cynical, and more in debt, more time poor and less motivated. Thankfully, there were postcards. In fact, there were free postcards in cafes, restaurants and cinemas around Melbourne. It was the perfect way to scribble out a quick "Thinking of you" or "Saw this and thought of you" or "Wish you were here" that may or may not have borne any relation to the artwork on the flipside but would certainly bring a frisson to the recipient upon discovering something in their mailbox that was not a bill.

And then I became a parent. And even more time poor. But also, more open to living my dreams. And then there were a whole heap of other delights competing for the tiny windows of time to myself. And keeping up my postcard practice fell well and truly on the backburner.

Inspired by Marieke Hardy, one of the two brains behind Women of Letters, who is an avid letter writer and sets aside time every Sunday to deal with her correspondence, I am finally turning to look at the stack of unanswered letters that has been sitting on my desk for the past three years. It's time to take the plunge. Once I start, I know I will love putting pen to paper. And I'll wonder why I have been putting it off as a chore for so long.

To get me started, I picked up some beautiful postcards, selected some choice quotes/quirky ideas/original haiku and put them in the mail to surprise a small number of my dear friends. I couldn't help but think of the surprise and delight and, perhaps, curiosity, they would feel when finding this little missive in their mailbox. Perhaps it would be stuck to their fridge or inspiration board, or just kept on their desk or bedside table for inspiration. A quick and easy reminder that they were thought of, and loved. I had underestimated just how much joy this thought alone would bring me.

My daughter has a box on her bookshelf in which I am storing all her birthday cards, letters and postcards. She loves to pull it off her shelf from time to time, marvelling at all the joy and kindness she has received. I have three or four huge boxes myself that contain everything from the notes my best friend in high school exchanged in Chemistry in Year 9, to cards signed by colleagues when I left my first real job, to love letters and break-up notes, to congratulations notices and thank you cards. These boxes are the bane of my existence whenever I move house but they the most moving record of my existence I could ever hope to gather. The story they will tell when I am gone!

Family friends of a certain generation would keep the postcards I sent them during my travels, then return them to me at a later date. I'm guessing this was the "done thing" through it sure confused me when it first happened. "Doesn't she want to keep them? Didn't she like them?" I'd wonder. Now I understand how, once a certain time in life has passed, hanging on to such ephemeral things seems pointless... but also, that the gift of memories is a powerful one indeed.

In a long and rambling way, this week I am asking you to join me in sending a little love: to a dear one and, in the process, yourself. Pick up a free postcard or, better still, make one yourself. Write on the back of an photograph. Whatever moves you. It needn't cost anything more than the cost of a postage stamp, and it needn't take longer than five minutes of writing and a walk to the postbox.

Write what you see, what you feel, what you wish for. Find a choice quote that speaks to where you are. Feel free to ask the recipient to keep the card and return it to you at a later date, or maybe even send one in return.

Although I have been moved by many blog posts and emails, I rarely print them out for posterity. There's something so much more moving about handwriting, don't you think?

You are worthy of the love that you receive, especially when it's the love you give yourself in the process of giving to others.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lasagne with a language warning


See the 1kg of lean beef mince in the fridge and realise it's a not-so-subtle hint to make the lasagne you've been promising for months weeks. Dig out your husband's favourite cookbook.

You've made this recipe maybe five times before but you still automatically look in the index under L for Lasagne. What the...? I'm sure it was in this book! Oh yeah, that's right, it's nested under P for Pasta. Sigh.

Turn to page 90. Squint to find tiny coloured print between the Veal Ragu and Roast Vegetable and Goat's Cheese Lasagne recipes that says "Traditional Lasagne". Wonder what colour you'd call that font. Mushroom? No, not pinky enough. Champagne? Wonder if there is any champagne in the house. Squint again to find that the "Traditional Lasagne" calls for a batch of cheese sauce, for which the recipe appears on page 87. Then notice there's another heading under "Traditional Lasagne" that says "Beef Lasagne", under which nothing appears but a reference to a quick-and-easy bolognaise on page 88.

Wonder why the instructions for the various components of the lasagne, plus its assemblage, are spread across three pages. Remember that there is a bottle of white wine in the fridge, but decide that it might be too great a risk, seeing as an engineering degree plus a whole lot of flicking back and forth between pages is going to be required to make this lasagne.

Savour the frisson that comes from (re)discovering that the quick-and-easy bolognaise lives up to its title. Biff the mince, diced onions, crushed garlic, passata, beef stock and tomato paste into a large pot. Boil and then simmer for an hour, with little more required but stirring often occasionally and "checking seasoning and consistency". Ha ha. Yeah right.

Evict everyone from the kitchen for the cheese sauce bit. Remember how this is the bit that requires the precision and dexterity of a hired hit man, where butter and flour and hot milk are the targets. Also recall, with some pride, that this is the only occasion in your life so far where you have successfully managed three active saucepans on the stove at once!

Measure out the butter and flour on electronic scales and combine them as instructed. Puzzle at the following instructions: "Reduce heat and 'cook' the roux for 2-3 minutes, stirring often." Wonder why "cook" is the word that is in inverted commas. I mean, what the fuck is a roux? Wonder where the fuck your French-English dictionary is. Decide you don't have time to find it. Decide the next sentence "What you are really doing here is cooking the flour" does not help at all. Decide that husband's detailed explanations about heat and gluten are even less helpful, and suddenly it appears the whole fucking world knows what a roux is and why it's so important to "cook" it and in the meantime, there's a timer counting down from three minutes to two to one and there's milk to be heated and added one ladleful at a time so the cheese sauce doesn't turn out lumpy as fuck.

The cheese sauce ends up smooth as a baby's botty. And pretty tasty too, due to teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a whole lot of tasty cheese, and some salt and pepper flung in with all the flair of a budding Stefano de Pieri.

Pour a glass of wine and gulp sip it while waiting for the rest of the hour's bolognaise simmering to pass. Flip back to page 90, where you started, and follow the instructions for layering the lasagne, occasionally getting a bit creative with broken lasagne sheets that possibly should have been carbon dated as the date of their purchase is not entirely clear but may have preceded the birth of your now-two-year-old daughter.

Biff it all into the oven at 180 degrees Celcius regardless. Enjoy another glass of wine during the 30 to 40 minutes it takes to bake. Take the seriously gorgeous-looking (and really rather heavenly-smelling) lasagne out of the oven and let it stand for about ten minutes, and use this time to boil up some green beans and sweet corn as an accompaniment... but only if you're feeling virtuous/hypervigilant about your little 'un's fibre intake.

Unfortunately, this entails some washing up as all three saucepans have been used in the making of the bolognaise/roux-cooking/milk-warming. Washing up is not usually the purview of the chef, but seeing as you only cook maybe five times a year, you feel you should probably wear this one. The white wine seems to make the task more pleasant, anyway.

Plate up, tuck in and loftily dismiss compliments that the meal is restaurant quality (while secretly basking in the inner glow). You might even start to enjoy this cooking caper one day...

With apologies to Allan Campion and Michele Curtis, who have otherwise made a seriously fantastic cookbook.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Despite the flipside



... feeling envy deep in my bones, pining to feel like I belong to something greater than myself, connected to a brave and successful and high-functioning community.
Wearing some of my favourite purple numbers to work today

... being asked if I was pregnant by a [clearly very tactful and sensitive and emotionally intelligent] colleague.
Enjoying two rounds of my new favourite beverage on a brief date with my husband last night

... feeling really rather seedy this morning.
Picking up some lovely bargains at the campus book sale this morning

... realising, somewhat sheepishly, that remainders probably still qualify as buying something new, so I’ve broken my pledge already, just three days in. Sigh!

Realising that, all things considered, I am OK (and probably actually better than OK)

... facing the reality that one big slice of my life really isn't OK and I have been avoiding dealing with it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Puffer fish


What we lost in sleep
we gained in air-drying clay,
glitter, paint and glue.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day one


So here we are. It's the first day of October and the first day of Blogtoberfest and also the first day of Buy Nothing New month.

Unfortunately, I'm feeling a little burnt out and uninspired today... so I am going to follow the lovely Rachelle Mee-Chapman aka Magpie Girl's lead in using this as an opportunity for gratitude practice.

Here are eight (of many) things I am grateful for today:

1. Twinings Blackcurrant tea (strong with a dash of milk) and Green & Black's 70% dark chocolate.

2. My little 'un being her usual funny, sweet, curious, lively self... despite the ikky cyst on her eye that is taking rather too long to heal itself actually.

3. Recent rain that is making our garden look all luscious and loved.

4. A month or so of regular Pilates practice starting to pay off: my back is better than it has been for ages!

5. My lovely Manager going in to bat for me at work, arguing with the "powers that be" that they really need to keep me on next year and, better still, offer me a permanent part-time role. Whatever the outcome, I will never forget her courage, kindness and generosity.

6. Having a relaxed and earnest lunch with a dear friend who is feeling equally burnt-out and uninspired, including a quick and fascinating jaunt through the newly reopened Percy Grainger Museum.

7. The quiet inner knowledge that I am taking brave (if fledgling) steps towards my dream life and that, in so many respects, I am living it right now.

8. Putting some cheeky, inspired love in the mail to surprise dear and deserving friends.

Time to log off and start licking some stamps! Hope your Saturday is full of cosy inner cheer and that your team wins, if you're into that sort of thing.

If you need an escape from all things footie, I'd suggest starting here...