Pandemic pounds. There’s the people who got so fit during lockdown due to not much sitting and much more outside activities. New Zealand had magic weather, a perfect and wonderful autumn! Then there’s the people who discovered cooking and baking and general eating as a wonderful activity – like me.

I still moved but much less and with less purpose – I enjoyed it immensely, as well as the potato chips and chocolate. I find myself with all clothes too tight and frustrated, so my first step was to buy comfortable pants from the local op-shop. Uncomfortable clothing is my number one destroyer of self-love.

I thought long and hard about what I really enjoyed about the whole plant foods I was eating before the pandemic. No processed crap with high salt, sugar and fat content. My brain was calm and stable. I felt content and light. Capable.

That’s the feeling I’m chasing. The deep knowledge that I have everything I need inside of me. So my first step was to clean up my environment because “in your house, in your mouth” totally applies to me. Potatoes, lentils, quinoa, rice and beans as starch to fill me up. But first it’s VFB – vegetables for breakfast. I get a bag or head of salad and chop finely in my wooden bowl, I add kale and coriander or other fresh greens if I have them. Then I grate a beetroot or a carrot or both. I steam some frozen green beans or silverbeet or corn kernels. It all gets seasoned lightly with balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. My aim is to eat a salad the size of my head!

I am starting to feel lighter and more energetic. Getting rid of the salt helps me to not overeat.

How has your eating changed during the pandemic?

Injuries, my normal and purpose

After just getting into the swing of running consistently, I injured my calf. Long story short, I thought I had my style sorted but didn’t. Isn’t the body a marvellous instrument, with its own alarm system when things aren’t right, in my case: PAIN. So I stopped for a month or so and took things easy. The summer in New Zealand was fantastic anyway, we did loads of easy walks, jumping off the wharf in our lovely town of Wanaka into the cool and clear lake. Life really is bliss when I stop and listen or just be. I feel incredibly grateful to be able to spend time with my 11 year old son, go to school camp for a week and manage to survive ok due to low living costs.

We decided to do finish the inside of the tiny house after living in it for 3 years in an unfinished state, unpainted plywood, big cracks, second hand rugs on the unfinished floor. Now I think of what my Normal looks like. It feels normal to me to try and do a little bit of sanding and filling cracks at a time while life keeps on going with work, school, volunteering and socialising. Living out of a suitcase also feels normal to me. I fast forward and imaging what the finished house will feel like, in about 2 or 3 months. It feels good and makes the tasks less daunting.

Discussing with a friend the purpose of life, especially when there’s a health scare and the question hovers: is that all I can contribute to the world? I’m careful trying to not confuse pressures from the outside, like what success looks like and what achievements one can pile up or money that’s to be made. Rather the quiet knowledge that life is there to be lived, one breath and one heartbeat at a time.

The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance – Allan Watts

Running around in circles

It’s taken a while but I finally have my running style sorted. No more sore knees, they still sound a bit crunchy but I’m ignoring it since there is no pain. It took a bit of experimentation after watching YouTube videos on running styles and paying close attention to the feeling, endurance and recovery. This morning I comfortably ran 10km in 66 minutes, nice and early along a flat lake. I was pinching myself, I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed it.

During a run or walk I normally listen to podcasts or music to block out the road noises when it’s later in the day but today it was awesomely quiet at 6am so I ran with bare ears.

First I was paying close attention to my breathing, I use alternate breathing which is basically switching the foot I’m landing on with each breath out. I also use it walking fast or uphill. It’s been really helpful sorting out holding my core and breathing with more awareness, it also stopped me getting stitches.

This morning, once the breath was in a good rythm, I tended to my mind and thought about the curveballs I’m encountering in my business planning. That’s when I realised I was running around in circles in my mind trying to solve how I deliver my small business training. It’s been bothering me that I didn’t have a clear path, just a vague idea. Sometimes I thrive on vague ideas just a bit too much and sit back dreaming of the accolades and how perfect everything will turn out. Nevermind that I didn’t have anything concrete how this path to perfection will illuminate, will it even be a concrete path or a wooden rickety boardwalk?

As I put one foot in front of the other I understood that I’m living in a fantasy and it’s up to me to choose the direction this awesome experience goes. I can dwell in resistance about the uncertainty or dial up the distance I run to get myself so tired that I sleep like a log. Tomorrow is another day to tackle those big issues. Good Night 🙂

How to start running

Sometimes life is really hard. Everything is so complicated and handling the day-to-day things can really wear one down. Earning a living, cleaning the house, cooking and providing, socialising, maintaining treasured accomplishments such as status symbols and adult toys. Not the kinky kind but the “put it on the mortgage” kind of toys like mountainbikes, boats, ski gear, german cars etc.

Now I realise that when life felt hard in the past, I didn’t move my body enough. Didn’t get much fresh air. Didn’t get to experience what it’s like to have an amazing and functioning body. Even though I feel heavy and bloated sometimes, the body is still very usable for other things than getting from the couch to the fridge.

I’ve built up a bit of a regime now that suits me perfectly. Every day it puts me in a good place to deal with the curveballs. Or maybe it’s that I’m not planning very much anymore so I don’t encounter many curveballs, just life happening. It’s glorious, hilarious and amazingly easy. Especially after I moved the body in the fresh air.

I’m not suggesting to quit the job, sell the house, go raw vegan and forgo the toys. I suggest to find something that gets you out into the fresh air EVERY day. To move the body and feel alive. That alone is a type of meditation that comes highly endorsed by enlightened gurus, to be mindful and aware of the joy inside you. Running does it for me. Sometimes it’s walking. Sometimes it’s Yoga.

I started by putting my shoes on and going outside. I also installed an app called Couch to 25K (C25k – not 25 km). That helped me build up to the 5k I’m doing now at least 4 times per week. I was inspired by David Goggings who was on the Rich Roll podcast, and it’s not that I relate to him because he drops the F-bomb lots. He has a way of showing that staying hard means to stay accountable to yourself without punishing yourself, to stay still full of self-acceptance. In today’s world that’s a tricky line to toe because we seem to have lost a bit of common sense.

So, what do you need to do to start running? Or doing Yoga? Or meditating? If you want an accountability buddy, email me or find someone who struggles just like the rest of us.

Day 1 of a writing course

Last year I came across Henri Junttila, author of “Find Your Passion, 25 questions you must ask yourself”. The book resonated with me so much, I signed up to his newsletters on Long story short, I keep feeling drawn to what Henri is saying and now I’m doing a course with him on writing articles. His calm and relaxing mannerism and voice is helpful for my learning style. The course comes with a workbook and today’s task was to ask what I’m afraid of when it comes to writing. And no surprises, here comes the list of my fears, I wonder if others relate to some points:

·      Being judged, criticised, ridiculed, looking like an idiot

·      Being confrontational, unkind, accusing

·      Being caught out, proven wrong, eg not walking the talk

·      Writing shit stuff

·      Failing of words for big & enormous feelings/emotions/experiences

·      Copying someone, being inauthentic

·      Getting hooked on a self-indulgent pleasure and unable to focus on proper life issues

·      Overcoming procrastination

·      It gets too hard and I can’t keep showing up

·      No one cares

Did I just purge my system of a few of these? The next task was to wonder if these fears have been holding me back and how. I came up with a much smaller list. I wonder if I purged too much.

·      Not committed to the novel I started in 2016, despite the idea still alive and kicking in my head (ouch)

·      Not committed to the blog (not this blog, the other one!)

·      Romanticising writing but feeling resentment towards other’s hard work

·      Reroute creativity, drama, emotions into fictitious relationships (long story)

Not wanting to dwell too long in the past, I did put the workbook down for the day and got some fresh air. It’s amazing how wind rattles me out of my head, spring in New Zealand has some extraordinary windy days and today was a good one. Just these 2 questions gave me lots to work with. Suddenly the fears don’t seem so scary anymore.

Being good enough on purpose

Reading, listening, talking to people, and I slowly realise, life’s purpose is life. The purpose of the dance is to dance, as Alan Watts said. The blossom’s purpose is to grow pollen and fruit, sometimes. Are we living life or is life living us? We will likely not know by way of scientific explanation. So I’m going with my own internal indications. It’s not exactly a gutfeel, more the absence of what feels like a tight knot in the lower chest area. When I do yoga, or have great conversation, especially with my son, then that area feels free and open.

The area gets tight and knotted when I think about the future of the world after catching a snippet of (usually bad) news, or someone relaying to me the latest happenings in their broken relationships, or how their expectations of life are not met.

My purpose is to let it wash over me like “water off a duck’s back”, a lovely saying we have here in New Zealand. Animals don’t seem to get down and depressed or at least they don’t try to drag everyone down with them.

We humans are unique, we are all different from one another in consciousness, feelings and thoughts, just like our bodies are different from the next body. So comparing oneself to something that’s different is not going to work. Or at least it will leave one really really unsatisfied in the long run. I was brought up with lots of comparisons, everything seemed to be a bit of a race to stand out and be noticed in a good way. When I got sick of it, I decided to get noticed in a bad way, so I pierced my own nose and dyed my hair bright orange. Plus I hung out with the squatters and punks. My parents were not impressed and asked me to please not hang out in public. I offered to wear shades so no one in the small village recognised me.

It’s taking some time to overcome the comparison and trying to be “good enough”. For me that also meant to stop forcing life and things to happen. Yes, we need to take action sometime but it feels a whole lot better to wait and see before rushing into action. When it feels right, I can work hard towards something. It’s not about choosing the easy way but recognising when we push too hard, that maybe it’s from the “Not good enough” mindset and self-punishment. Not to be confused with self-discipline.

I’m still working that one out but writing every day has come easier than I thought. So far.

How can I sign up for a course to get more ANNOYED

I’ve been getting Seth Godin’s daily emails for a while now and they are short and sharp, sometimes they resonate, sometimes they don’t. If you don’t know Seth, he’s a dotcom entrepreneur and wears funky glasses. And he’s lippy.

One of the emails was about getting annoyed, that it doesn’t serve any useful purpose at all. Because if it was, there would be classes and courses on how to get better at it. I haven’t seen any education on that lately but who knows …

Sometimes it seems people invite annoyance into their lives by doing the same things over and over and expecting different outcomes. Like going to the supermarket. And then posting on Facebook of how atrocious it was to wait for ages, with a photo of the long lines. I’m sure some people try to plan the household shopping trip around avoiding the busy times of the supermarket. And hopefully without getting annoyed at having to do that.

So I see that certain things I do are already putting me on the right track to being annoyed at some point. Like going to the supermarket at a busy time, checking on Facebook what the classmate from 20 years ago is up to (a luxury property developer), reading the trending on Twitter (always a Kardashian somewhere in there).

I realise I saved myself a heap of money and not signed up for that course, thanks Seth.

Spring lambs and sneezes

The lambs are getting bigger here in New Zealand, it’s the middle of spring and sheep are still a big part of our agriculture, even there seems to be just as many cows. And of course the calves are just as cute. We headed into the bush for a night away and drove by a paddock where the calves were still with their mothers. We loved watching how they watched us and then ran and hid behind their mothers.

With spring came the sneezes, pollen going crazy, our tiny house sits amongst birch trees. Every year I keep forgetting to try some homeopathic remedies before the pollen are flying. It’s not something I had to worry about, I’ve only started last year to have hayfever symptoms, such as sneeze attacks and dripping nose to the point of wondering if I can get dehydrated from losing that much liquid.

A few pills of antihistamines has Mr soon to be 11 sorted, I’m still resisting, my reactions seem to be not as bad.

As much as I would love to go outside in the amazing weather we’ve had over the last few days, taking it easy and playing it by ear, sniffing the wind and the pollen in it, has been good. Again, to go within and relax into the flow (carrying tissues :-)) is great. Hope the southern hemisphere readers is coping ok with spring hayfever and the northern hemisphere reader is enjoying hot soups.

Without, within and ditching sugar

I’m going to go without sugar, again. It has crept into my food choices, from a sorbet on a warm day to more honey and date paste in the baking and a few bits of dark chocolate here and there. I’ve come to rely on these outside stimulants and it’s now tied to “treating myself”. It’s also distracting me from going within, so I will stop and listen to the cravings and feeling peckish, the longing for sweet stuff.

I know that better focus and feeling less sluggish is well within my grasp when I go without sugar, it takes a few days to get off the sweet taste and then a handful of frozen blueberries are sweet to the point of not missing sugar at all. The trick for me is to ditch what got me into trouble in the first place, Soy Chai Lattes. There’s sugarfree chai available but mimicking the sweetness kept me hooked.

Without is the opposite of within, it’s just not used very often. It’s also the opposite of With, as in have vs not have.

Being grateful for what I have and not worry about what I don’t have, that seems to work to be in the moment, to go within.

Repetition & Collaboration

I’m volunteering at the One Summit in Wanaka and loved all the sessions I was able to see so far. Biggest takeaway for me is Repetition, especially for the kids. There are so many people doing fantastic things to work smarter, more sustainable and I love how happy they are to share their passion. It’s great to see the local school kids taking part. When they were let loose on designing a Wanaka in the future that works with all the Sustainable Development Goals, it was…. Mayhem.

Talking to my almost 11 year old afterwards I wondered where the collaboration was. He wasn’t quite sure how to do it and honestly, nor am I.

So while I can see how many good things are happening everywhere to make a difference to our world, I wonder about talking about it even more. Repetition. And then we might connect with someone who sparks that collaboration bug, to get together and create together.

Thanks to everyone who helps putting this event together, it feels good to part of One.