Audio

Sunday Chill Zone – Music and Colours to Soothe

This is my last Sunday in Indonesia for the year, tomorrow I pack up to head back to Sydney. Tomorrow, not today, ha. Not packing one minute sooner!

The rain is pouring down right now, listening to that; and to this truly awesome song I just discovered:

Bird Brainz by Otis McDonald

SO GOOD. ON REPEAT.

Something about it gets me thinking about this beautiful sunset I witnessed with B on the beach in Bali. All those colours!

This life is beautiful. Have a wonderful weekend. xx

Gallery

“Dear Friend” or “To Soup, With Love”

JOE (V.O.)
I am in Vancouver.

He stops… Hits the delete button and erases the message.
He starts typing again:

JOE (V.O.)
I was stuck in a meeting, which I
couldn’t get out of it, and there was
no phone.

He backspaces to erase “there was no phone.”

Screen now reads: I was stuck in a meeting, which I couldn’t
get out of it. Joe sits there thinking for a moment. Then he
starts typing.

JOE (V.O., cont’d)
The electricity went out in the building
and we were trapped on the 18th floor and
the telephone system blew too.

He stops and looks at it. Then he types:

JOE (V.O., cont’d)
Amazingly enough.

He sits looking at it.

Then he deletes the whole thing.

Sits looking at the blank screen.

Excerpt from 

You’ve Got Mail

by Nora Ephron & Delia Ephron

Based on:
The Shop Around The corner

by Nikolaus Laszlo
2nd Final White revised
February 2, 1998

I have lost count the number of times I have watched You’ve Got Mail. And the number of times I think of that scene with Tom Hanks trying to explain himself. Deleting the keys (two finger typing style) and then making a mawkish expression at his dog who is very much #judgingyourightnow. I have been Joe for the last, oh, however long it has been. I had drafted a whole bunch of things but stopped short of posting until now. I won’t go on much further in case I delete everything and am back to staring at a blank screen. But this is where I am today. Here I am, enjoying the familiar.

Catching up on laundry. Staring at these printable daily organisation template thingys on Pinterest. Wondering who prints all this out? And then uses them everyday? Wondering how people have it so together they can organise their Pinterest boards so neatly. Getting up every hour or so to stretch my back out on my yoga mat. In my bathrobe. Trying to remember if I took my vitamins this morning or if that was yesterday morning. Scratching my head over a Sudoku puzzle that just has me stumped. Scooping minestrone-ish rice soup into a bowl. Ah, the soup. Now, that’s good stuff. When my youngest brother was in preschool, I would pick him up after school and walk him home. He told me on one of these walks that his favourite morning tea snack was tomato sauce and rice, all for 40 cents from the tuck shop. I remember being his age and loving tomato sauce with rice as well. Tomato flavoured anything. I still remember the look of bemusement that flitted across my father’s face as he watched me merrily dousing my fried rice in tomato sauce. There was an Italian restaurant that my family frequented when I was little. An entire wall was covered with hooks and resting on each hook was a two handled stoneware soup bowl. My memory leads me to remember that each bowl had a name emblazoned across it, or perhaps just under the hook, only for the most regular of customers although my mind stops short of deluding me into thinking that I had one with my own name on it. Although considering I drank enough minestrone in that place…

I still love minestrone but perhaps times have changed. It never tastes quite the same as when I used to scoop it out from that scratchy stoneware bowl, always trying not to scrape the bottom, but unable not to, whilst my parents exchange greetings with the owner as he brings out the chianti.

Minestrone-ish Rice Soup to eat in your bathrobe

You need (the quantities are guessed, I will tell you now that I am absolutely terrible at estimating):

Passata, say 500ml or a tin or two of tomatoes, whatever you have

Knob of butter (or not)

Splash of cooking oil (I use coconut oil but olive oil is good too)

Spring onion, a stem, chopped, or an onion, chopped

Carrot, one or two, chopped

Potato, one or two, chopped, if you have any (or none at all)

One cup of rice, rinsed

Your choice of greens, rinsed to hurl in at the end

Basil, oregano, parsley – fresh or dried

black pepper

teaspoon of sugar (only as needed to counter the acidity of the tomatoes, I used coconut sugar)

Vegetable stock cube + 500ml or vegetable stock, 500ml

Method: 

Hurl butter into a hot saucepan with the oil so the butter does not burn.

Add the chopped carrots and onion in. If you wish you can sprinkle a little salt on the onion so that it does not burn but if you stir diligently you will be safe.

Sauté for 5 minutes or so then add the potato if you have any. 

A few more minutes and then in with the passata/tomato situation that is available to you. Be prepared for splattering. Add the water or stock (lucky you!). I had a half bottle of passata so I just filled it with water to get the last dregs of red pulp out into the pan. Bring to a boil. Throw in stock cube, pepper, sprinkle in dried herbs if using them. In with the rice.

In the end the sugar was needed so that went in as well. You may or may not need salt, I didn’t. Then simmer until the rice is soft. I like my greens just, just done so I turned off the heat and then stirred in English spinach. 

Chuck on the fresh herbs if you have any and black pepper. Dash of butter or olive oil on top if you’re feeling fancy/indulgent. 

Eat in bathrobe. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to hearts content. Avoid staining fuzzy socks.

Hours later, discover bathrobe needs to be soaked.

Quote

YOGA ALL DAY

Why am I shouting the title at you?

Sorry, I’m a little deaf these days, there’s constant hammering away in the apartment above my head since we last chatted. They’re doing it to drive me crazy renovating.

float

Hence why, I still haven’t uploaded that video I have been promising! I need to construct a sound proof room first which reminds me of the old music room at my school. I would go there every lunchtime for piano lessons. The entire room was wall-papered with egg cartons and painted blue to accord with the school colour. The effect was, uh, very crafty and three-dimensional. But aside from being quite visually effective the egg cartons really didn’t work very well.

Which brings me back to where I am seated right now. It sounds like the people upstairs are diligently tinkering away with teeny tiny hammers and chisels at the ceiling above my head. Which makes me imagine they are either chiseling a statue or they are trying to tunnel their way into my apartment.

Am I annoyed? Sort of, I guess I’m half laughing at the imagery and half wishing the noise would stop. I am distracted by the incessant tunnelling hammering. That’s what is getting me, that I am allowing myself to be distracted and affected by this external activity. It is beyond my environment so why is it having such a huge impact on me?

It is just like in yoga classes, if you have had the fortune to experience, when a person, perhaps on a mat next to you is a REALLY LOUD BREATHER. Really, really, really loud. There is silence all around, except a sort of hum of coordinated movements and breathing… then this fantastically pervasive rasping sound emanating from the person next to you. Has that ever bothered you?

Or how about if the lady next to you in her struggle to do any postures is blustering and swearing away. “Oh geez. Oh !@#$%^&*#@#@***” on and on and on she goes for the entire ninety minutes. She hangs in there for the full class. She has paid her entry fee and by *&$#@ is she gonna get every last #$@&* minute out of that @#$%^&* session.

What about the self-appointed class joker (hey, why did you look at me for?) on the other side of the room, who takes it upon himself, everytime the teacher claims says “One more breath here” to do a countdown “Five, four, three, two aaaaaaaaaand ONEEEEEEEEEE!!!”

EVERY. TIME. No one laughs after the first time. But he persists.

Or what about the person who is just too sweaty? Or the showoff? Or the two ladies who won’t stop talking in the back? Or the person who doesn’t smell nice? Or the person who is wearing hardly anything and you can see right up their bandha?

The list could go on and on ad nauseum.

Well? Do you recognise these people? Do you think to yourself, “What classes do you attend, and why haven’t these people been thrown out?!”

Well, these people don’t just go to yoga classes. They also show up in your life. They’re in the supermarket, at your workplace, at uni, they’re on the bus with you, the train. Yep, sometimes they’re in the guise of your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, best friend, mum, dad, or child or brother, whatever.

And they’re doing something and it just bothers the bejeezers out of you.

What is a ‘bejeezer’? You don’t even know. You’re just so annoyed right now you’re creating new words. Oxford Dictionary look out, coming soon your way, get ready to take notes.  

Oh, and of course you’re not being nitpicky. It’s them. Right? It’s always them.

Do they have to do that? And in that way?*

YES THEY HAVE TO. And the more that it bothers you, the more they have to do that.

If you have ever experienced this then my suggestion is below. It seems to snap me out of my egg-cartoned mindset quick-smart. What works for me, might work for you. If you have never experienced this, well done, I guess you can carry on reading for entertainment?

Here’s the solution: Change your mind. Leave the world alone. Your world will evolve with time to fit the shape of your mind. You can make it as easy or as hard as you like, as I like to tell my students about our yoga practice. The choice is yours. You can struggle, or you can float. You do get to choose. You always have a choice.

Take a good look at these supposed ‘challengers’ and be glad they exist. They’re your true teachers. You will learn more from them than a workshop with a ‘celebrity’ yoga instructor. These are the teachers that teach you how to live. And they do it so effortlessly.

“Look at

all your fellow

humans and name

them accurately.

‘Brother.’

‘Sister.'”

– Erich Schiffman

I have met all sorts of teachers in yoga classes and I have to say over the years I still catch myself feeling exasperated and yes, distracted! It happens less and less but it still happens sometimes! Sometimes it’s the small, seemingly insignificant things that trip me up the hardest. I forget and think, “I am beyond that point. I love life. I love everyone. I’m fine.”

And then bang! I totally walk on my floaty cloud feelings into that trap my mind has set for me. I’m no longer practising yoga when that happens. I’m in somethingsomething-asana but it’s just a shape my body happens to be in. Because at that point, I have chosen to be more important than anyone else, more deserving to be there than anyone else and have decided that my comfort is more important than the comfort of anyone else, there in that class room. How egotistical does that sound when said out loud?

Instead of saying, “Oh, they’re so ANNOYING” but instead to phrase that as “I’m more important than they are.”

Yeesh! No, we have left yoga at that point. We’re just sweating and bending and stretching.

No yoga there. Just ego.

Oh, beware the ego trap! It is there all day everyday. There will never be a day when you reach nirvana and the trap is no longer set for you. You need to be on alert at all times. Be present in the moment. Live mindfully and completely in each moment. Question yourself.

And so, this is what I mean by

YOGA ALL DAY.

You do have to shout that a little at yourself, to get it through, past that ego trap. It has egg cartons painted in a hideous colour to distract you to the point of rage from realising that you have fallen deep inside. You can hear the sounds of life around you, but all you can see are those cartons. You are blind to the lesson in front of you.

There is far more to yoga than just yoga as I say. Our ability to do the splits, to touch our toes with our legs straight, or to stick one leg behind our head or stand on our head will not insulate us from the lessons of life. The ability to do any of those things are just acrobatic.

The goal of yoga is to cultivate an attitude of equanimity and one of compassion.

We’re all in this together, some of us swearing away, some of us panting loudly, some of us excitedly talking, some of us silently and we’re all chiseling away at this unshaped rock to make sense of our life purpose and find our way. When we look to our left and right and see we’re all trying in our different ways to do the same thing, live our lives any which way we can, the scales fall from our eyes, and the sounds and activities of life become what they always have been. Just a soundtrack of life.

Don’t get distracted by the soundtrack to your life.

Breathe. Practice your yoga all day. Know your fellow humans by name. Thank your teachers.

And between you and me, I don’t know what it is, maybe the renovations have finished upstairs, but I can’t hear any noise anymore. It is perfectly silent. All I can hear is the sound of my breathing and the sound of my fingers tapping on the keyboard.

Thank you thank you thank you. x

*Sometimes we are those very same people. We may not think it, but someone somewhere may be looking at us with disdain and think, “Oh go somewhere else, will ya?” How hurt would we feel if someone said to us that what we were doing was supremely irritating to them? Did we even aim our actions at them? Nope! We were just doing our own thing, right? Funny, that. Hmm. 

Journal Series #1

Journal Series #1

Do you journal? I try to always keep with me something to write in for whenever I see or hear something interesting to me. If I experienced something that makes me laugh out loud. A random stray thought for a possible short story or just something I want to keep, an amusing voice that emerged from my internal monologue. Usually along the lines of what makes me laugh because aren’t those the things that make for the best memories?

A typical diary entry for me looks like this

I don't sneeze as loud as I used to. Still pretty loud though.
I don’t sneeze as loud as I used to. Still pretty loud though. Room to grow, room to grow.

Maybe think about giving it a go.* It’s a new week, why not? No pressure or anything, but you may find it interesting to have a look over the kind of things that catch your attention. Are they mostly positive or negative? Keeping a journal has been really helpful for me as a tool to practice mindfulness. You don’t need to be on best behaviour, just be natural! You don’t need to be cool.

What does ‘be cool’ even mean? I wouldn’t know.

Your scribblings are private, unless you post it on the internets like what I just did here, so you can feel completely safe about voicing and taking ownership of what is going on inside your mind. Observe your thoughts, without judgement, and just practise being a witness. This is step one in approaching stillness and calmness. These journals you keep become a crucible for your thoughts. And then eventually you can start to observe, whether or not, your insides match your outsides.

Journals don’t need to be extensive insightful works of art. This is where I lost focus and used to give up the exercise after a few days. The idea of having to produce fantastically clever essays in tidy journals used to put me off because I essentially gave myself performance anxiety. I was getting all angsty about making the leap from my 9 year old self who wrote things like “Today I had school. It was nice.” to Homer and writing the sequel to Odyssey. The pressure was just TOO MUCH and I was getting self-conscious with myself. I would look back on what I wrote a few weeks back and groannnJust don’t get too worked up the way I did, like most things, getting to know your internal voice takes some getting used to. Practice kindness! Be kind to yourself! Don’t get too serious about it!

(Now I remind me of my neighbour. Yelling words of kind encouragement. You KNOW I mean well.)

You might be able to tell sometimes my internal voice does not take me seriously at all. Sometimes meaning most times.

Oh! Speaking of exciting, something else I did today besides sneeze loudly: I learnt how to really, really get the tarnish off my silver jewellery really, really quick and easy. Because who has time to sit there really, REALLY polishing silver like an extra on Downton Abbey? Not us.

The results are very satisfying. I don’t mean to sound like an infommercialinfomercialinformercial, informmercialI GIVE UP, infommercial. If you’re interested, I’ll be posting the how-to up in the next few days. I’m heading next door to say hello to my neighbour.

My spell check insists that ‘infommercial’ should be spelt ‘informercial’ or ‘infomercial’. Mmm, I don’t know, you guys. I’m experiencing that face a person makes when a word looks wrong even when spell check says otherwise. Help me out?

*Hmm, realised after posting that the rules of grammar would suggest I meant sneezing loudly and then hiding. And then I found the idea that I suggest people sneeze loudly very funny indeed so not bothering. Can we pretend I was using a witty writing device?