Monday, November 30, 2009

Tummy bugs & kindness

We’re just recovering from a particularly nasty gastro bug in our house. As I lolled about on the bed last Saturday afternoon feeling sorry for myself, I remembered another nasty bout of gastro many, many years ago. I’ll spare you the details of the symptoms as they were not the memorable part of the episode, it was what happened afterwards that has stuck in my memory.

I was living in southern NSW, boarding with a family and finding my feet in my first job as a brand new, squeaky clean psychologist. I didn’t know the family I was living with that well and I knew their daughter, who is the same age as me and was visiting her parents for a few days, even less. I had spent the Friday vomiting, but was determined to drive back to Melbourne for the weekend, so set off, with a bucket between my legs and a pile of towels next to me. When I returned on the Monday morning, I found my sheets washed and ironed, my bed re-made and some flowers in my room, with a short note which read, ‘It’s nice to have clean sheets after you’ve been sick. Katey xx’

I still think that’s one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me. I am a bit fascinated by kindness these days and often think about Katey’s kindness and many other kindnesses that have come my way. I have been reading the book On Kindness by Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor. It’s a comprehensive history of kindness and an examination of what motivates kindness in people these days…and more importantly why kindness is so out of fashion. Phillips and Taylor make a good argument for how kindness has become our guilty pleasure; something we can’t admit to enjoying. And, how we tend to trivialise kind acts and view kindness with suspicion. It’s interesting to think about how and why kindness has moved from being seen as a natural virtue, inherently part of humankind to the point where people generally think that kindness is a weakness and only practised by losers. How often do you see the words ‘winner’ and ‘kind’ or ‘kindness’ in the same sentence?

Real kindness requires us to be vulnerable; to be aware of our own and other people’s vulnerabilities. Perhaps this is one of the main reasons that kindness is so out of favour…we all like to feel safe and don’t like to experience the unpredictable, which is what happens when we act in kindness; we never know where it might lead. Personally, I think kindness is one of the best parts of humankind and should be embraced. It is wonderful to be part of kindness in any way…as an observer, a receiver or a giver.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pad Thai

For those of you who have received your Summer issue, here is Kate Quinn's extra raw food recipe from her Raw Feminine article.. Enjoy!

Pad Thai
Serves 6
Equipment: blender


4 cups bean sprouts
4 large cos lettuce leaves shredded
Fresh coriander chopped
Fresh mint chopped
½ cucumber chopped into chunky bite-sized pieces

1 cup raw almonds ground
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar/nama shoyu
1 tablespoon agave nectar1-
2 tablespoons ginger

Place all salad ingredients into a bowl.
In a blender, mix all of the dressing ingredients until well blended then mix well into the salad.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Moving through 'No'

Hi Anna, there’s been a lot of hot air floating around my head during these hot and steamy days, so your talk of fans (and the rather large hint that me and Rachel are slack arses when it comes to blogging) has inspired me to share it with you!

I’ve been thinking recently about freedom and what it really means to be free—how much do we allow ourselves and our children to take that risk or have that experience?

When my oldest son was little, a friend and beautiful mother talked about how important it was for her to say ‘yes’ as much as possible to her wee ones so that they might experience the world fully. So when they’d want to play in the mud or the rain or go nudie in the sea, for example, she’d let them, overriding various voices in her head: ‘They’ll get dirty’, ‘They’ll catch cold’, ‘What will people think?’ And so on.

I really liked this idea and went along with it for the most part, within (my) reason. But ten years into family life, we’ve moved on from the mud and the ideal of ‘yes’ and onto other things. I don’t know how or when it happened but somewhere along the way my children’s desires for experiences turned into longings for ‘things’; mostly technological things for the boys who are ten and eight and crystals, clothes and horse mags for my four year old girl. Clothes—Four?! And this is for children who have been mindfully—mostly— shielded from the mass media hype.
I find it so much harder to allow material acquisitions than experiences of the world, so my ‘yes’s’ have become ‘no’s’ and all of us are struggling—me to be consistent and upright in my resolve and my children with the unpleasant surprise of not getting what they want as often as they used to. I kind of wish I’d said ‘no’ a lot more now, just for the hell of it and certainly for the practice of it.

The thing about a ‘no’ in our family is its longevity. How long will Mum and Dad last under the barrelling determination of the children? I’m tired at the moment and would like some more time so ‘yes’ beckons with promises on the horizon for all of us. But ‘no’ quietly grunts along in front—for the most part anyway—with roots stretching back to my past (the past that inspired my initial ‘yes’s’, ironically, having been brought up to be such a good girl).

‘Mama doesn’t get upset with Dada when she doesn’t get what she wants, you know,’ I found myself telling my daughter via the rear view mirror as we drove along. She was on mega sulk and I was trying to talk her out of it. But as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I felt it fill up with the thought of such a big fat lie! The countless times I have been challenged (and that was just through questioning—not an outright ‘no’) about something I have been planning to do have infuriated and enraged me to different degrees depending on my yearning and the manner of questioning.

Yearning, longing, desire—it’s such a fundamental part of our being-ness in the western world; how much time do we all spend wanting something and being a slave to our desires? From world peace to DS’s to a good night’s sleep! But this is where freedom comes in because desire, whether it’s for a material thing or an experiential thing or even a kitten (my eight year old’s current obsession), is linked into freedom. And I say this with the deep appreciation that I live in a democracy, never go hungry and have a relatively luxurious existence. I’ve realised that the best thing about longing for something is the actual longing itself; the yearning is the sweetest feeling—allowing myself to be in the moment and the middle of it is great and liberating! It’s not the object of my desire I want it’s the desiring and I’m right here, right now doing it. But try telling this to my four, eight and ten year olds! The last thing they’re feeling is liberated when they come up against a parental ‘no’.

‘No’ is a container for them to push against and flex their muscles; a ceiling where patience floats in clouds and lessons of practising to live with unrequited wants abound. Maybe after enough time they might get into the groove of just feeling the desire and enjoying it? For the moment though, they’re not having a bar of it! So I content myself with the thought that I’m providing some boundaries and holding for them; in navigating their desires and mine too, I just have to make sure the container of ‘no’ is solid enough to withstand their tenacious spirits and mobile enough to allow us room to grow...


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fans - what are they good for?

So in the absence of Charlotte and Rachel sending me tidbits of wisdom, I'm going to write my own - and it's about fans...
Being incredibly hot in our terribly insulated, badly positioned house, and having ONE fan as our cooling method during these hot nights - I've been pondering the idea that fans might actually not be all they are cracked up to be....
Do fans just push the hot air around so it feels like it's cooler, or is there some method behind their apparent hard work? I'm beginning to think that they actually just massage our mental state, allowing us to THINK that we are being cooled down...
Anyone else got a theory?


Recipe Blocks

Check out this special for the Recipe Blocks cook book - there is one of these starter packs in our Christmas Hamper too..

Monday, November 9, 2009

A few more hamper items..

Here are a few more latecomers to the Christmas hamper...

P.S. I seem to be having a bit of trouble getting all these photos to come up together... Sorry about the visual sprawl...