Midway point

Photo by Charlotte Karlsen on Unsplash

How do you feel when you are climbing a mountain (physically and figuratively) and find yourself at the midway point? You’ve realised you have made it halfway to your final summit! Especially when you started and you could not even imagine being closer to the end? It may not seem like something to celebrate but I feel when we celebrate the small wins we progress to our bigger wins, it makes the journey easier and keeps us focused on the end result.

I am working on a learning journey and realised after completing what has been the most difficult subject so far, that I’ve reached the midway point! I have a feeling of elation that the end is closer and celebrate the progress I’ve made thus far. We often forget to celebrate the smaller wins but without them, we are unable to see the progress we’ve made as we work towards our bigger goals. I like to compare it to running long distance, for example, you may motivate yourself by acknowledging when you run past the fourth tree, or you keep running for the first couple of kilometres before you slow your pace. Once you have reached that first goal, you then set another one. When you reach that second goal, you may set another one or set it for the next time you go for a run – to extend the distance a little bit further each time. For example, if you are training for a 14km run but the longest distance you have ever run is 5km, you start at 5km and add a kilometre or two each time you train.

As you reach each extra kilometre, you feel a sense of achievement and realise the end goal of 14km is now closer. Once you reach halfway, you realise you have made it this far and each kilometre from now brings you closer to completing 14km. You can then go on to 7, then 8, then 10km. Once you have completed 14km, it is now the longest distance you have ever run in your life! How great does that feel? It doesn’t need to be running a marathon, this applies to various goals. It’s good to set milestones or mini-goals to ensure things stay on track. It also helps us to see what works and what needs to be refined to continue the path. Each step brings you closer to the end result. I find starting small, increasing in small increments and celebrating along the way helps you to achieve your final goal. Even if this is to learn to draw, paint, or drive. With drawing or painting, you may start with buying the paper, pencils, paint supplies. You may watch tutorials, you may start to copy other drawings or paintings, you may start with something simple and progress to more complex drawings/ paintings. You may attend classes to learn more about technique, colour, texture and styles. Soon, you are drawing and painting like you have been doing it all your life.

This also applies to learning to drive, you start with learning theory – road rules, requirements, legalities, etc. You may need to take an exam to test your theory knowledge is competent, then you can progress to the driving lessons. You learn to start the car, adjust the seats and mirrors, you learn how to indicate, check mirrors and use the pedals and if learning manual transmission, learn how to change the gears. You learn which gear is suitable for each speed, and how to reverse. You will learn to drive, park and reverse the car, as well as use the brake to stop. Each step mastered, we move onto the next one, sometimes in sequential order, sometimes in an order that suits us. With each step completed, each milestone reached, the closer you are to your end goal. You realise the anxiety and fear you may have felt at the start, ease away more and more when you realise how much closer you are to the end result and it is all based on the dedication and effort you have put into your journey.

We often forget how far we’ve come until we look back and see how much we have progressed on our journey. As we get used to the new normal, I feel it is nice to stop and celebrate the small wins in a way that suits, that have progressed you to this point. Without these small wins, you would not be any closer to your final goal, so please remember to celebrate them. Small wins may be small in stature, however, they can make a huge impact! I hope you are enjoying your journey, whatever it may be and celebrate your small wins along the way. There is a saying that sometimes it’s more about the journey and what it teaches us, rather than the final destination. I hope you learn, are challenged and grow on your journeys, enabling you to enjoy your destination when you get there. Life is a journey, remember to Laugh. Love. Live as you progress on your journey. Peace and blessings!

Experimenting with food…

Lactose and gluten free lemon cheesecake

While in self-isolation, I’ve been using some time to experiment with food, replacing ingredients in some of my favourite recipes. One classic favourite I have made for many years is a lemon cheesecake. My youngest sister recently asked for the recipe as she also wanted to make it while in isolation. It seems many people are baking and cooking up a storm during this time, based on what’s been trending in social media! I’ve modified a few of my favourite recipes and so far, they have worked out well without sacrificing flavour.

For this food experiment – a no bake cheesecake, I substituted ingredients for lactose and gluten free options. As you can see in the photo above, it turned out a treat! I topped the cheesecake with freshly sliced strawberries which were a sweet contrast to the tartness of the cheesecake (if you prefer it less tart, I suggest to use less lemon juice). My family enjoyed this cake just as much as the original recipe. The recipe is one I have been using for over 20 years which I modified, and sharing with you below. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do – happy baking and bon appetit!

Lemon Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 cups of sweet gluten-free biscuits (I used a combination of 9 anzac and 6 scotch finger biscuits), crumbled (depending on the size of your spring-form tin or the thickness you would like the base to be)
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free butter (Nuttelex or olive oil spread)
  • 250g lactose free cream cheese
  • 2 x 150g goats cream cheese spread
  • 2 teaspoons of gelatin dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 400g condensed coconut milk (I have included details on how to make this dairy free version)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon rind (optional)
  • 1 punnet fresh strawberries (to decorate)

Method:

Place crushed biscuit crumbs into a mixing bowl and pour over melted dairy-free butter, combine well.

Press into base of spring-form tin and place in fridge to chill.

Beat cream cheese and goat’s cheese until smooth, mix in gelatin mixture, condensed milk, lemon juice (and rind).

Pour cheesecake mixture over crumb base and place in fridge to set overnight.

Top with sliced strawberries or any berries of your choice, you can also grate chocolate to sprinkle on the top.

Coconut condensed milk

  • 2 x 400ml cans of coconut milk
  • 1 cup caster sugar

Place coconut milk and sugar into saucepan over medium heat, stirring for 8 minutes until sugar dissolves.

Bring to boil and reduce to low heat. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring until mixture is a thick consistency (coats back of spoon like custard).

Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in airtight container.

Connection

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

One thing I feel we are learning from the global pandemic, is that we are all connected. Humans, planet, earth, nature, animals, seasons – there is a connection between all. Humans are connected as people, living beings, shared biology and emotions. As humans, we are connected to the planet, the earth and nature. We rely on these for food, oxygen, water and life. We are connected to animals for food, companionship and a sense of wonder. The seasons bring us different animals and plants that grow or we can grow in the earth for food. Animals can be enjoyed – to be observed, provide research for conservation and may also be farmed for food.

Seasons also allow us to enjoy nature and participating in activities such as hiking, swimming, surfing and skiing to name a few. Seasons allow us to feel warmth, cold, rain, wind and snow. It caters to diverse preferences amongst humans regarding favourite times of the year. As humans we can be connected by language, culture, country and food. We are learning that as humans we can are the same regarding certain emotions – a different race or ethnicity does not change how illness and death affects us. We are also connected in how we choose to rally together to help others – the vulnerable, the high risk and those who choose to help others in essential and medical services. When we pause to think about the connections, there are many more things that connect us rather than separate.

When we emerge from this pandemic, may we be mindful of the best of the human spirit displayed during this time. Times like these bring out the best and worst of the human spirit – may we continue to demonstrate the best and hopefully influence the rest. We are all members of the same human family, we are stronger together and need to reach out to one other. We are facing the same crisis all over the world and are learning from each other, helping each other, and hopefully when this crisis is over – we continue to treat each other with kindness, compassion and love. Connection reminds us we are not alone and we can get through adversity so we can continue to Laugh.Love.Live once more. Keep well and safe, take care of each other and may we come out of this with a renewed energy and compassion for each other, the earth and the planet.

Memories of you

Photo by Damon On Road on Unsplash

It’s been five years since your passing,

Many things remind me of you.

When I see a sailing boat, I am reminded of you,

A butterfly flying by, reminds me of you.

The Sydney to Hobart yacht race on boxing day each year, is a reminder of you,

Manly beach, Australia, reminds me of you.

Each time I eat fresh figs, it reminds me of you,

Sydney harbour as well as Brighton, Melbourne are reminders of you.

These may be little things, but they all evoke memories of you,

You may have left the physical world but these reminders keep you alive… in my heart, my thoughts, day-to-day,

Memories of you, each and every day – especially today.

Photo of sailing boat on Sydney Harbour, taken 22 July 2018

Where is the Love?

There is a global pandemic happening around the world and unfortunately, I have been observing behaviour that doesn’t showcase the best of humanity. There are shoppers hoarding toilet paper and other basic necessities, fights breaking out amongst our fellow humans over groceries and stampedes in supermarkets trampling children. What happened to showing compassion, understanding and love to our fellow humans? There are some stories trickling through, however, it is only a trickle.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

There seems to be more stories of selfishness and greed which displays the sad state society is currently in. In regard to the supermarket situation, our family shops weekly, we only buy what we need and maybe add one or two extra of a few things we know we’re going to be using more that week. For the last three weeks, the supermarket aisles have been empty of toilet paper, tissues, cleaning products, tinned food, pasta, rice, eggs, bread, flour and condiments. We’re not desperate but we do have food intolerances and allergies to cater for. I feel for the elderly and less able bodied who are unable to shop often or in large quantities and have had to leave empty handed. There are also others less financially able or have family members with dietary requirements and/ or medical conditions to cater for. For these families, this is non-negotiable and having several supermarkets with empty shelves for weeks makes things difficult for those who are most vulnerable.

It is disturbing to see it is happening all around the world, so it is not confined to one country but occurring in several. There are also other considerations like health workers who cannot shop until their shifts are finished and are met with empty shelves. These people need to eat well and remain healthy so they can look after the rest of the population who become unwell. I am truly disappointed by stories of shoppers hoarding, people making profit by selling items at exorbitant prices because they have become scarce. It is saddening to say the least.

If everyone of us can look after ourselves and think of others in this time of crisis, we can get through this pandemic together. These drastic measures of social distancing, lock-downs and self-isolation are meant to be temporary to help manage this pandemic. Social distancing does not mean you can’t go outside for a walk, or go to buy your groceries – it means you need to keep a safe distance from others, usually indicated by the health department or country’s government. This is to help slow and manage the spread of the virus, especially to the vulnerable in our communities – the elderly, immunocompromised, those with existing medical conditions, such as; diabetes, heart disease and respiratory illness – to name a few. As well as those currently undergoing treatment for cancer or other illnesses.

By putting these measures into place and as we practice them, we slow the spread and enable health systems to cope. In many countries, the health system is struggling to cope to treat the sick as we are observing across the globe. There are not enough beds, medical staff or equipment. By implementing these temporary measures to manage and slow the spread, it gives us breathing space – which is what this virus does not provide. It is a scary time and people are afraid and anxious, however, hoarding basic necessities and being selfish is not going to make this pandemic disappear. Showing compassion, understanding and love will definitely help to soften the blow.

I feel if we do what is being asked of us, we can enjoy the things we have to forgo much sooner. It’s short-term pain for long-term pain – surely we can all do this to save lives? I feel this is not too much to ask. No life is more important than any other – we are all human, all bleed the same red blood, breathe the same air and are capable of much more love. This pandemic needs to be taken seriously and we all need to look after ourselves but also the vulnerable in our community. We all need to take care, take necessary precautions and keep well. The sooner we do this on a mass scale, the sooner we can Laugh.Love.Live. to enjoy the things we are forgoing in the short-term.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Small wins…

Photo by Karina Carvalho on Unsplash

We often forget to celebrate our small wins. Big wins need no reminders yet the small everyday wins often go unnoticed and under-celebrated. Often these small wins could be quite momentous given the situation or lead to the bigger win, which would not occur if the smaller wins weren’t achieved. Each and everyone of us has small wins, sometimes no-one else needs to be aware of them and are purely for our own sense of achievement. Even when no-one else is aware of these small wins, it is important to celebrate them – by a smile, a pat on the back, treating yourself to something special – in any way you feel most appropriate. After all, it is your win and you can celebrate it in the way that feels right for you.

When I coach my clients, I ask how their week has been and celebrate their wins with them. Often at the start of the coaching relationship, people are not even sure what or if they have any wins to celebrate. I often explain, it could be something small but meaningful to them like being able to have a difficult conversation with their Manager or Colleague or recognising complex emotions – becoming aware is the first step to being able to manage them.

What are your wins for this week? What is something you have accomplished which you can celebrate? I’m sure if you think hard enough, there will be something or a few things which may stand out. Remember to celebrate those wins and move onto the next step. Each step brings you closer to your bigger goal(s). It’s not the speed that matters as long as you keep moving forward, however, being consistent and persistent are keys to achieve your success. And it is your success, enjoy and celebrate.

A year of gratitude…

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

What a year it has been, there have been some difficult times and yet I am very grateful for this year as well. This year we moved into our new home and are excited to be spending our first Christmas and New year in our own home. I started my MBA and have successfully completed my first year – two more to go! I removed triggers which contributed to my depression and anxiety, surrounding myself with energy which is supportive, positive and encouraging. It’s been a year of realising that as you get older, your circle of friends become smaller but increase in quality. It’s been a year of realising who are or have always been there for you and are genuinely happy for your successes – big or small. It’s a year of being extremely thankful. Difficult times have made me realise the strength within to juggle competing priorities in my life – work, family and studies.

I hope you have also had a year that you can be thankful for, despite any challenges. As you overcome these challenges, remind yourself that you are awesome, you are enough and can handle anything the universe throws your way. Although, the year has had it’s high points, it’s also been quite an exhausting year so am looking forward to a bit of a break before starting it all over again next year! Onward and upwards! May you find the strength within to overcome all your challenges for the remainder of this year and beyond. Even those who don’t celebrate Christmas, please have a safe and happy time with friends, family and loved ones. I also hope for those who may face this time of year alone, have other people who may be strangers at first, but become friends who can share a meal, some quality time or a laugh during this time of year. My thoughts go out to anyone who have lost loved ones and are facing this time without them for the first year. I found the first year the hardest and that it gets a little easier each year. Our loved ones live in our hearts and memories and they are always near.

Thank you to all who have taken the time to read and like my posts, apologies I have not yet had time to return the favour but endeavour to take some time during my break to do so. Take care, look after each other. Peace and blessings – continue to Laugh.Love.Live for this year, through to next year and beyond. Namaste!

A life remembered, a year on…

Gorgeous Grandma

It’s been a year today since you left the physical world,

We remember and miss you in our laughter, tears and sharing of memories.

We shared a meal consisting of one of your favourite foods and invited you to the table.

You blessed us with your presence, we felt your spirit as the meal unfurled,

We felt your love, remembered you with smiles and felt your energy,

We are grateful for your presence and spiritual assistance that has been enabled.

Your spirit is ever present, watching over us, protecting us always,

Feeling your ever present care, kindness and compassion.

We celebrate your life and remember you with fondness.

You live in our hearts, thoughts, words and actions,

As the day comes to an end, we realise you are ever present in our conscious,

Your life is remembered and kept alive in our hearts, minds and words today and everyday.

Mmmm… Cake.

It’s been a while since I posted and apologies, I have been very busy and not had much time for writing on my blog. I appreciate your support, likes and follows! I will make time to do some reading of your blogs, like and follow in return – it may take a little while as I have been doing a different type of writing – academic writing for assessments required for my studies. It has been challenging and rewarding at the same time and I am truly enjoying the journey. In my spare time, I am also doing some creative writing, domestics, family responsibilities, school and extra curricular activities which leaves very little spare time. I do make time when I can so thank you for your patience in advance.

I have been baking due to dietary intolerances and have been making this delicious gluten and dairy free chocolate cake for when I feel like a chocolate treat. I thought I would share it for those of you who may have the same dietary intolerances or may know someone who does and this could be a sweet treat they can try. I tend to use less sugar, however, please adjust to taste. I find this cake is quite quick and easy to make. Here is my take on a gluten and dairy-free alternative to chocolate cake – enjoy!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup water

2/3 cup oil (olive or vegetable)

2 eggs

1/2 cup cocoa powder or 200g dark chocolate, melted

1½ cups of gluten free self-raising flour

1/2 cup gluten free plain flour

1/2 cup of sugar

Ganache:

250g dark chocolate

I teaspoon coconut oil (olive or vegetable oil is fine also)

1 large avocado (or 2 small avocados), mashed well.

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In a large bowl, add water, eggs and oil. Stir to combine.

In another bowl, add flour cocoa and sugar and mix well. If using melted chocolate, please leave out until after combining the wet and dry ingredients.

Add flour mixture to wet mixture and mix with electric mixer until smooth. Add melted chocolate here if using instead of cocoa and combine well.

Pour into greased, round cake tin (20 cm). Place into oven for 50 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

Leave cake to cool in tin for 30 minutes, place onto cooling rack to cool further. Make ganache as cake cools.

Method for Ganache:

Mash avocado in a bowl and set aside.

Place a glass bowl over a saucepan of water, add dark chocolate pieces and oil. Bring water to boil, then turn down to low heat. Stir as chocolate melts to ensure no lumps.

Add melted chocolate to mashed avocado and mix well.

Pour over top of cake and spread evenly. Serve with a scoop of dairy-free vanilla ice cream.

I didn’t have any dairy-free ice cream when I baked this – hence no ice cream in my photo – however, it is still very nice without it. You can see my ganache is not very smooth because I like to leave small lumps in my avocado and I find it looks quite rustic and provides a burst of avocado as you eat the cake. You can make it smoother if you prefer. I find the cake is moist and makes for a ‘healthy’ indulgence when you are craving some chocolate cake. I feel food is a universal language – it enables you to share your love of food with others and offers a variety of tastes, flavours and cultures. Food brings people together and sparks conversation. Cooking and baking is an enjoyable past-time for me, especially when shared with family, friends and loved ones. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do, there are so many options now that even with food intolerances, I don’t feel like I am missing out! I hope this encourages you to experiment and find what suits your taste in order to Laugh. Love. Live with food – Namaste!

Juggling

It’s been a busy four months since April this year – I’ve been juggling study, moving house, work, family and life in general. It seems when things happen, they happen all at once! The universe has a funny way of delivering things to you when you open yourself to the possibilities. Things can feel uncomfortable at first, however, as it becomes the ‘new normal’ then you forget what it was like before things changed. I read something the other day which resonates and I have shared below:

I started studying my MBA in May this year which is something I have wanted to do for a few years yet never had the courage to pursue it. I’ve bitten the bullet and started, it doesn’t mean I’m no longer scared. Courage is not about NOT being scared – it’s about being scared but doing it anyway – being brave is another way of looking it! As per the quote in Neil Gaiman’s book Coraline:

“Because,’ she said, ‘when you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.” 
― Neil Gaiman, Coraline

So, in between packing, working and looking after my family, I have been completing assessments, studying, reading, reviewing and sitting a final exam. Leading up to the final exam was more stressful than it needed to be because upon moving, our internet connection (even though we were advised was connected) was unavailable for 5 weeks which included the week I was due to sit my exam.

The situation could not be resolved even though I had been in contact with the service provider several times to advise the situation to assist in the resolution. It also affected my daughter’s studies as homework and school group work is completed online. We were given a temporary solution which meant I could sit my exam on the designated day – phew! Homework and school work could also be completed – yay!? Yes, I am aware internet connection is not essential like say, water and electricity and when speaking to a peer about my situation, he remarked “First world problems” and I agreed. However, when you do not have internet connection for 5 weeks without a remedy in sight, you realise how much you rely on it to do most things!

Given we had no internet for 5 weeks and as my studies are completed online – it also restricted the ability to log on, read and research articles for the final exam. The week I had planned to use for study became reduced to only one day prior to the exam. This exacerbated my stress and anxiety! Once I had completed the exam, I was happy I was able to complete it, it was over and would be happy if I gained a pass grade so that I would not have to redo the subject! I take my hat off to mothers and people in general who work, study and look after a family – it is no easy feat! It definitely makes you prioritise – become better at time management, finding a balance between work and play! We have all heard the saying “All work and no play is not good for the soul” by Felix Sabates.

Even though it has been and will be difficult over the next few years juggling study with work and family, this is something I have wanted to do for a while. I am grateful to have the opportunity to pursue it and make the decision to complete my studies. As I say to my daughter “When you make a decision, own it”. I’m owning this decision and enjoying the challenge of learning something new. Learning something new keeps you young and that is always welcome – especially as we age!

My mother has always said and continues to say to me “You never stop learning!”. As a result, I also believe and apply this in my life – learning happens throughout your life, there is always something new you can learn. Where and how you learn may also surprise you, but that’s what keeps life interesting. When was the last time you learned something new? How did it make you feel? To me, learning is invigorating yet challenging. It also keeps me busy and out of mischief! I appreciate this opportunity to be able to pursue something I have wanted to do for some time – I feel blessed, loved and ever grateful.

We are still unpacking but most of the important things are unpacked and in it’s proper place. There are pictures to be hung and a few things to be done but things are more settled. Our internet has finally been connected – it took switching providers but it has made things so much easier! Studies can resume, homework and schoolwork can be completed, along with being able to enjoy some entertainment – which certainly helps during school holidays! May you also find something that challenges you, making it possible to learn something new and makes you feel alive! Continue to Laugh.Love.Live – Peace and blessings!