The body remembers

Emotions are remembered by the body, often before you register the day or date. Grief has that impact on me. Especially when it relates to loved ones. When I am upset, I tend to hold grief in my upper back, my upper back has a dull ache that stretching and yoga doesn’t relieve. This happens on two anniversaries for people who have passed and are dear to me. They are still recent for me – 2.5 years and 6 years ago. One is the death of a dear uncle and the other is the death of my beloved grandmother. Both had a momentous impact on me, not great but momentous. My grandmother’s death resulted in being diagnosed with depression. My uncle’s death, even though expected, was just as difficult when it occurred. Thinking about either can still trigger tears and feelings of sadness, amongst love, cherished memories and happier times. This year, the anniversary of my Uncle’s death did not coincide with Easter as it occurred earlier this year. Easter is often a reminder of his passing and can still be difficult to enjoy. This year, the anniversary of his death was a week later. The day before, I started to feel very tired in the early afternoon so decided to get to bed a little earlier. The next morning I woke up at 3am, unable to get back to sleep. I got out of bed by about 4am and did some yoga – deep stretching as my upper back was aching. Later that morning, as I was getting my breakfast ready, I saw the date and then it hit me. My body had remembered before my brain had registered the date. I sent a quick message to my Aunty to let her know I was thinking of her and continued to make my breakfast.

When I see butterflies that are large and colourful, they remind me of my uncle because he had suggested we go to the Butterfly House in Melbourne Zoo when we were visiting one year. We did go and had a wonderful time, with many butterflies landing on my daughter and I and remaining for quite some time. Especially on my daughter, we had to carefully lift one off her and place it onto a tree branch because it seemed like it had found a place to perch and stay. On the anniversary of my Uncle’s death this year, I saw a beautiful black butterfly with bright blue on its wings. It fluttered and stayed in sight at waist level before slowly flying up and away. I felt that was my Uncle’s spirit visiting and passing by. It made my heart lighter and was a nice distraction for a fleeting moment. There are many stories that state butterflies and dragonflies are often reminders of loved ones who have passed. The synchronicities of these reminders are often significant. I emailed my Aunty that evening to advise her what I saw during the day and said I felt it was my uncle’s spirit. She agreed and said he visits those who loved him. I find these moments reassuring and help to lighten the grief. Everyone feels grief and is impacted by it differently. As I have said previously, it doesn’t mean one way is right or wrong, just different. And different is okay. I hope you have moments of sunshine during periods of grief or sadness. We need to have the rain to see the rainbows, sadness to know happiness and pain to know comfort. I hope this provides a little comfort to anyone who is experiencing grief. Please remember to reach out and ask for help from people around you or organisations who can help you manage your grief. It helps to have people who genuinely care about you and are happy when you are, or at least help you manage your pain until you can feel hopeful again. Hold onto those people, they are your people – who bring the sunshine to you. They help you to Laugh.Love.Live and are priceless. Peace and blessings, stay safe and well!

When women support women…

I love this quote by Elizabeth Gilbert about strong women, from my experience it has been proven true again and again. I have and have had many strong women in my life who have all handled shit went it went wrong a thousand different ways on a thousand different days – friends, beloved grandmother, mother, aunt and acquaintances. I had a conversation with my daughter about the double standards applied to women in the spotlight – leadership positions, celebrities, politicians, etc. The double standard we observe is that women are judged harshly by who they are/ how they are portrayed – whether they are compassionate, empathetic, professional, and it doesn’t matter if they are competent and well qualified for their roles. There seems to be more importance placed on how they conduct themselves, what they wear, how old they are, what their marital status is or if they do or do not have children. These things have no bearing on how well a woman can fulfill their role. To me, it demonstrates we need to teach the next generations not to judge females – on appearances or what the ‘societal’ norms may be – which may not be the norm at all, for some people. It would be great to pass on the importance to not be judgemental – especially females of other females. From my experience, we are stronger when we stand together and support one another. We can only understand from our point of view.

Jacinda Adern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, is often criticised for her empathy and compassion – it has been observed as being weak. From my experience, those who have these qualities are the opposite – these qualities enable them to place themselves in other people’s suffering and circumstances, yet have the strength to make a positive impact. Jacinda herself is quoted saying “I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong”. She is also quoted saying “It’s essential for women to unite and support one another. Together we are stronger.” This is demonstrated when women come together to support and advocate for the vulnerable, less able or, be a voice when they have experienced the same circumstances. Some examples include breast cancer, domestic violence, sexual violence/assault, child abuse – when women come together for these causes, they are able to garner great support and awareness. I’m not saying males are unable to do the same, however, these are some examples where I feel women supporting other women, showing solidarity for the same cause are stronger together.

There are also double standards perpetuated by the media such as two people may do the same or similar things but one gets criticised while the other is praised. The problem is not just that of the media companies, it is us, it is society – if we allow it to continue, it becomes a norm and we are silently condoning that type of behaviour. If it were to be happening to our loved ones eg spouse, children, daughters, nieces, etc – we would call it out as bullying and find ways to raise awareness and look to eliminate it. I have written previously that we all judge, we are all imperfect but it is about catching ourselves when we do or before we do it, to consider the rolling effect. It all starts with us, with you – if we can prevent ourselves from doing this and teaching our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, sons – it is unacceptable, we can challenge the norm. How could you start discussion about this with your children, or children you may have influence over? How can we encourage open and honest dialogue about this and other topics? How can we ensure that we embody the principles to Laugh.Love.Live? We may also discover we have internalised some behaviour, perspectives or ways of thinking based on our environment and influences that are not in alignment with this. It’s up to us to change it and rewrite the script.

This is just one of many challenging topics for discussion but it’s important to start the conversation and plant the seed. It’s important to raise the next generations with empathy, compassion, authenticity and treating all with kindness – inclusion for all. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed time over the festive season to spend time with friends, family and loved ones or at least were able to send your love. I hope this year may become a better one for us all. Stay safe, stay well – peace and blessings!

2020 vision

Photo by Andrey Metelev on Unsplash

What a year it’s been!

If we had rolled the dice at the beginning of the year to bet on how this year would have unfolded, what are the odds we would have gotten it right? It has been a challenging year for many people across the world, some more than others. Even with 20/20 vision, we may not have seen this coming – it’s a year that caught many by surprise. It is a year defined by a global pandemic with daily indicators highlighting number of cases and deaths. It’s a grim indicator to mark a year that many would rather forget. Although this has been a major focus of 2020, here are a handful of things we can celebrate:

  • Ability to work from home/flexible working
  • Families appreciating more time together
  • People finding alternative ways to connect
  • Home cooking, baking and sharing recipes
  • Home crafts, handy hints and tips/ DIY hacks being shared
  • Raising awareness, support and appreciation for the arts industries
  • Ability to be less social for those who prefer smaller gatherings
  • Time to complete studies without fear of missing out (FOMO)
  • Learning something new or different
  • Collaboration to raise awareness on important global issues via social media

With 20/20 hindsight, there are probably a lot of things we would like to have done differently…or not. It’s been a year most would rather forget, although there have also been some good news stories for this year also. Here is also a link to some good news stories for 2020 you may have missed:

https://happiful.com/35-good-news-stories-from-2020-you-might-have-missed/

Even though many of us have not been able to go anywhere, the year is still speeding by as usual – it is already Christmas Eve, the 24th of December and we’re almost at the end of a year most would rather forget. Although, if 2021 is going to be more of the same, we may not be so eager to rush into it. This year is a year to be grateful – for our blessings, our friends, loved ones and people who have kept us sane. It has been a difficult year for those of us who suffer mental health issues, those living alone, those who are unable to visit family and friends and those who have lost oved ones. I hope everyone has the support they need to help them through this year and beyond, so we all can continue to Laugh. Love. Live. This year has been a crazy year and although it has had it’s challenges, there have also been triumphs. Please take care, stay safe and well – remember those who have lost loved ones and may we all approach 2021 with more compassion, understanding and love. Peace and blessings – namaste!

It’s been a while…

I’ve been on my learning journey now for two years, consuming a lot of my time. Although it has been challenging to juggle work, family and studies, it has also been immensely rewarding and enjoyable. One thing I do miss is being able to plan and write a post on my blog, so I am taking a bit of time out…pressing pause on studying so I can write this post. It’s been a crazy year due to the pandemic – there has been so much but also so little happening in our lives. It has been a disruptive year in many ways, yet also been a good year in other ways. What’s so good about it do you ask? Well, for me, being able to work from home helps me balance my work/study/family commitments so much easier – travel time is not consuming my productive time.

I have been fortunate to work from home on many occasions, but not to this extent. I find myself more productive and able to achieve more without time spent travelling each morning and evening to and from an office location. I don’t miss the hectic days of trying to fit so much into the day. Don’t get me wrong, there are drawbacks to spending all day, every day at home with other family members working and studying – it can overwhelm you at times. However, I find walking the dog and getting outdoors, feeling the sunshine or cool breeze helps clear your mind, get the body moving and blood pumping. I empathise with those who have struggled mentally being in lock-down. It is hard when choice is taken away from you, things you took for granted – being able to see friends, family, see a movie, a concert or go out at any time to exercise. I have struggled with anxiety and depression so can empathise with the mental challenges of lock-down. When our state was required to be in isolation for a period of 8 weeks and with travel within the state restricted, I found that tough, let alone a full lock-down experience.

What I think we need to realise is once a virus is in the community, it is not going to be quickly eradicated. The flu virus has been around for years and each year there is a new strain as it evolves to survive. This will probably be similar for the Corona virus and wearing a mask, social distancing, washing our hands to keep ourselves and vulnerable members of the community safe will become the new normal for a while yet. I feel it is easier to accept it is here, do the things we need to do to keep ourselves and loved ones safe as well as those who are more vulnerable – the better we can return to the new normal. I feel our brains need to shift perspective to accept it is here and not going away as quickly as we hope. I am aware everyone has their opinions, perspectives and thoughts on this and that is fine. I am just sharing one – whether you agree or not, is fine. It isn’t right or wrong, just different and we are all different and how this virus may affect any of us may also be different. I feel what we can do, is have empathy, compassion and understanding of these differences because as my mum says “we’re all human, if you cut me and you – we all bleed the same red blood”.

As humans, we are good at adapting, it just may take a while but we have the ability to do so. It’s something humans have been doing for centuries – adapting to circumstances and environments. As research states, humans have biological plasticity – the ability to adapt biologically to our environment. We are also capable of cultural adaptions and adaptations vary in duration, can happen at any time and can be short or long-term (lumen: cultural anthropology). I feel this adaptation may take us a little while to get used to and accept. Until then, please stay safe and well so you can continue to Laugh.Love.Live. We are stronger together, rather than divided. Well, it’s back to my studies now before a break at the end of the year. Namaste.

Reference: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/culturalanthropology/chapter/human-adaptations/#:~:text=Adaptations%20and%20adaptability,a%20population%20with%20its%20environment.

Published!!!!

https://www.amazon.com/Face-Everything-Rise-Letting-Transformation/dp/1504322169/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=danthy+nguyen&qid=1598586833&sr=8-1

I’m excited to share my labour of love has been published! My book is available on Amazon.com and I have provided the link above. The soft cover version is now available and is delivered to other countries when you change the destination address. The eBook version is available for kindle and you can click to see the free preview. This book is part memoir and shares my personal mental wellness journey. A percentage of sales is donated to Beyond Blue so please share with your networks. This has been a personal project over the last year and a half and I am still processing the reality! I am almost in disbelief that my book has finally been published. Please feel free to provide feedback and would appreciate if you can pop a review on Amazon once you have read it. I hope in sharing my journey, it will help others and reduce the stigma around mental illness.

Thank you for your support and encouragement on my humble blog and I hope you enjoy sharing my journey with my as you read my book. I also hope learnings resonate with you and you can apply them in your lives or, even modify them to work better for you. Stay safe and well in these uncertain times, continue to Laugh.Love. Live. Peace and blessings!

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