Archive | June, 2012

Why it’s good to be bored

22 Jun

ImageI just spent 20 minutes staring at the sky. I was just looking at the clouds, which seemed to be sewn together, orbiting the earth as one big, invisible blanket.

I didn’t check Twitter, or scroll through my Facebook feed. Instead I sat, I watched, I pondered.

When do we ever grant ourselves time to be bored, to do nothing, to just zone out? As a kid, I was always daydreaming and it felt normal to watch the world go by.

Now it seems there’s always something demanding attention. Putting aside real life – work, friends, family, bills – there are endless distractions.

If we’re bored waiting for the bus, we can whip out a tiny computer and access a whole world of entertainment. Waiting for a friend? Check email. In line for a movie? Send a tweet. Whenever there is a spare moment of mental downtime, we quickly fill it with stuff. Noise. Clutter.

What the experts say

In this month’s Australian Women’s Health magazine, cognitive psychologist Dr Lisa Wise is quoted as saying:

“Whenever you have a spare moment, see it as your opportunity to daydream and think your own thoughts.”

She advises staying away from your phone, so you can allow yourself to get bored, which lulls you into a daydream.

But why should we daydream? What’s the point?

According to the experts, daydreaming ignites our imagination and sparks our creativity. This allows us to nut out problems and envisage outcomes. Which I guess is why I always have ‘lightbulb moments’ when I’m zoning out in the shower!

Some of the world’s top thinkers have attributed their success to daydreaming. Steve Jobs liked to meditate in an apple orchid, where he says some of his brightest ideas were born. Get me to an apple orchid!

To be honest, I don’t think it’s easy switching off. I feel the need to always be online, connecting and contributing. But I suppose sometimes I need to step back, disconnect and tune in to the real world. The wider world. Not the world wide web!

So with that in mind, I’m going to stare at the clouds some more…

Do you give yourself time to daydream? 

Back to the bush: a natural healer

12 Jun

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There’s something magical about the bush. About nature. It nurtures, it calms, it calls you back.

I just went for a long, leisurely walk through the mountaintops. I had no purpose, other than to clear my mind and let nature guide me.

As the sun set and painted pastel hues across the cloudy sky, every moment was a feast for the senses. The soft, distant sound of buzzing bees mixed with the musical notes of nearby birds. The distinct crunch of leaves and sodden sticks reminded me that I wasn’t alone. All around me, camouflaged and cautious, were the creatures of the land.

A kangaroo dashed out in front of me. Stopped. Stood. Stunned. Stared into my camera lens.

As the sky darkened, I was surrounded by a beautiful, natural art gallery. Intricate tree branches wavered in muddy puddles. A round, red sun beam projected between spindly trees. Mint moss crept up a collection of bark trees, a winter coat.

The silence. The soothing silence. The plod of my feet on the earth disturbed the peace.

I’ve been away from nature for too long. But she doesn’t judge. Whenever I return, I feel centered. Refreshed. Awakened.

Next time you’re feeling stressed or worried, I urge you to step outside and find a secluded spot away from city life. Focus on your surroundings, the sights, the sounds, the smells. The silence. It’s magical. Truly.

What The English Patient reminded me about life…and death

11 Jun

I’ve just finished watching The English Patient and am a blubbering mess. I’m not talking a tiny tear gliding down my cheek. No, I was wailing. Howling. I believe ‘Why do people have to diiiiiiiie?,’ was what I sobbed as the credits rolled.

Three hours earlier, I was happy. Rain was lashing the windows as wind whipped around the cabin. Glass of wine in hand, I thought a romantic movie was just the ticket for a long afternoon in front of the fire.

Of course, I knew that a movie about the war was bound to involve death. But it wasn’t the senseless deaths that disturbed me. It was when the little nurse (played by Juliette Binoche) broke down, wondering why everyone who ever loved her died. Thinking she was a bad omen.

It was when the nurse filled the syringe with half a dozen doses of morphine and cried as she realised what she was about to do. Release a man to meet his lover.

Even then, I was simply sniffing.

But then the nurse read the poem Kristin’s character had written:

“We die. We die rich with lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we’ve entered and swum up like rivers. Fears we’ve hidden in – like this wretched cave. I want all this marked on my body. Where the real countries are. Not boundaries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men. I know you’ll come carry me out to the Palace of Winds. That’s what I’ve wanted: to walk in such a place with you. With friends, on an earth without maps.”

And then I wailed. Heaved with tears and sadness. It was a sweet sentiment, sure, but how I hate to be reminded of death!

I know we all have to die and farewell our friends, our loves, life. But how I wish we could live forever.

Then again…Ralph’s character was ready to meet his death. He had heard his lover’s final words. There was nothing left for him in this world. He wished to be free from his body, so he could walk with her in the Palace of Winds. Eternally.

So perhaps that’s the meaning of life. To find meaning. To find a reason to live…and then a reason to die.

When we’ve given our all, when we’ve poured out our heart, life awaits somewhere else. Of course, some of us don’t have the chance to prepare. Life is whisked away and our loved ones are left behind to make sense of it all. So all we can do is leave our mark on each day and, when we head off to bed, know that we gave that day our best shot.

Now excuse me while I top up my glass of red and switch on The Hangover. I need a giggle!

Veg and coconut quinoa curry

8 Jun

Whenever I’m up in the mountains, all I want to do is warm the kitchen with wholesome, hearty cooking.

On my train trip up to the Hunter, I was flipping through the latest issue of Wellbeing magazine and landed on a page filled with healthy recipes from Lee Holmes.

So last night, I grabbed a pan and raided the cupboards to come up with a delicious variation of Lee’s Vegetable Quinoa Curry.*

Apologies for the dodgy pic – I’m without Instagram!

What you need

  • 1C quinoa
  • 2 1/2C green beans
  • 2 tsp grated garlic
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 2/2 Tbs coconut oil
  • Half a head of cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • 1/2C cashews
  • 4 carrots, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 2C water
  • 2C coconut milk
  • 1C coconut cream
  • 2/4 C chopped coriander
How to make it
  • Fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil
  • Add quinoa and cook for 5 mins
  • Add the beans and cook for another 5 mins, then drain and place aside in a colander
  • In a frypan, saute the garlic, ginger and onion in coconut oil
  • Push the sauteed ingredients to the side of the pan
  • In the pan, toast the coriander, tumeric and coriander for a few mins. Stir consistently
  • Add the cauliflower, cashews and carrots. Stir fry for a few mins
  • Add the water and bring to the boil
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer
  • Add the coconut milk and stir through. Cook from about 10 to 15 mins
  • Turn off the heat and stir the fresh coriander through
  • Fold through the quinoa and green beans
  • Add a good dash of coconut cream and sea salt
  • Bring the pan back up to a simmer and add salt and pepper to taste
  • If  needed, add more fresh coriander and a few tsps of cumin
I then stirred through another blob of coconut cream to thicken the curry and add more flavour. A few more dashes of salt can also boost the taste.
It’s delish!

* Lee Holmes’ original recipe can be found on page 122 of issue 138 of Wellbeing Magazine.

Getting away to get it done

7 Jun

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Well…here I am. Atop a mountain in a far-flung pocket of regional New South Wales. Away from it all.

As I gaze over the top of my laptop, I can see clouds cruising across the mountain tops. They hang low, sealing in the chill.

The morning fog floods the mountains, like a wash of waves.

The fire is roaring and wood crackling. I’m at peace.

Funnily enough, I’ve ticked off more writing projects today than I have in a loooooong time. There’s something about escaping and separating yourself from routine to give you a fresh perspective.

In fact, I’ll soon be writing an article for the Natural Therapy Pages about solitude, based on my experiences up here. I hope it will be a therapeutic few weeks away from my real life.

I miss The Lad already, but I believe a break is beneficial not just for our selves but also for our loved ones. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and it’s true. Time apart makes you appreciate time together.

Well, that’s it from me for one night. My wine glass has been topped up too many times to recall, so it’s best I step away from the keyboard! 😉

Oh, and to get your slice of heaven, visit Cabins in the Clouds. It really is heaven on earth!

Chuck-it-all-in coconut & pumpkin curry

4 Jun

I’m heading north on Wednesday to spend a few weeks with mum, so I’ve started clearing the fridge and freezing food with fervour.

I found a pumpkin, broccoli and beans in the crisper that were starting to turn. So I bunged them into the wok and created a yummy vegetable curry.

It’s been the perfect dish to tuck into on these cold wintry nights, and I’ve frozen a few portions for ‘take away’ dinners when I get home. Plus, it’s healthy!

Presenting…my quick coconut & pumpkin curry

What you need

  • Wok
  • Green curry paste (follow the suggested amount on the pack. I used 50g)
  • Coconut oil (or another cooking oil)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cans coconut milk (I used a full-fat, organic milk)
  • Any veggies you have handy: pumpkin, peas, broccoli, green beans and organic carrots went in mine
  • Some steamed rice/brown rice/rice variety such as quinoa

How to make it

  • Heat the coconut oil in the wok
  • Add the green curry paste and stir it all together til hot
  • Pour in a cup or so of coconut milk and bring to a boil
  • When boiled, throw in the vegetables (you might like to soften the pumpkin by roasting in the oven beforehand)
  • Cook over a medium heat, until all vegetables are soft
  • Serve over the rice/alternative
  • Add a good dollop of Greek yoghurt. Mmm……

Enjoy! 🙂

Vital smoothie: Banana, chia seeds & vital greens

3 Jun

Ah-chooooo! Have you noticed a plague of icky germs has descended on Sydney? It seems almost everyone is blocked up and stocked up with a mountain of medication and cold tablets.

I’m determined to avoid the bugs by bolstering my body with healthy goodies.

So this morning, I grabbed the blender and whizzed up a delicious, nutrient-packed smoothie. I was crossing my fingers it would turn out and, behold, it did!

Feel free to experiment with this one, like I did. You could try berries for a sweeter hit, or cinnamon for added flavour.

Presenting…my vital smoothie

What you need

  • Blender (I use the handy Rocket Blender – a Christmas prezzie from mum that I’ve used a gazillion times)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup or so of milk (I’m back to good ol’ full-fat dairy. See Sarah Wilson’s blog for some good reasons to switch from skim).
  • A few teaspoons of chia seeds
  • Sachet (or two heaped teaspoons) of vital greens. I use an organic variety by Martin & Pleasance)
  • Few cubes of ice

How to make it

  • Umm…put it…in the blender.


Yeah, I know. It looks like something from Shrek’s swamp. But I promise, it taste scrummy! The vital greens add an interesting nutty/vanilla flavour, while the potassium-packed banana thickens the drink.

Curious about vital greens?

I’d heard a few people raving about this mystery food, so when I saw a pack of sachets on sale at Dr Earth’s in Newtown, I snapped it up. According to the marketing spiel, it’s a ‘convenient once a day superfood.’

The powder is a balanced blend of greens, vegetables, fruits, herbs, vitamins and minerals. Think of it as all your daily nutritional needs ground into a green powder.

I’ve been drinking it in a glass of water most mornings or, as of today, in smoothies!

It’s easy to make – simply stir 10g (two heaped teaspoons, or 1 sachet) into a glass of water or milk. It’s best to have it on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning to set yourself up for the day.

And if you hate your greens, I think you’ll find it has a surprisingly pleasant flavour. It doesn’t taste terrible like wheatgrass, in my opinion!

Bear in mind the price is a bit steep. I bought a box of 30 sachets for $62 (although on sale it was about $48). However, when you put it in perspective, that’s only $2 for a drink. Which is cheaper than coffee and much, much better for you!

Enjoy! 🙂

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