mind-full-ness

In 2013, I undertook a project where I tried to take one photo per day to share with my family and friends through Instagram and Facebook. While I did not quite achieve doing it every day (I missed probably 20 days – mostly at the start when I wasn’t sure what I was doing!), I achieved much more than I ever thought I would. It started out as a simple way to keep in touch in my year of adventure, but it became a task in mind-full-ness. Yes, I write it like that: I know the convention is “mindfulness” but I find that my mind has become very aware and very full of the world around me. Every day I see more things – sometimes everyday things, sometimes special things – and I appreciate more in my life. Sometimes it’s the simple things such as a beautiful flower; other times it is an experience that is overwhelmingly beautiful or sad or loving or engaging. But the point is that I see more than I ever have before. I take less for granted and when I think I can’t find a photo for a day, I realise that I have a lot to be thankful for and that perhaps I wasn’t as present as I wanted to be during the day. This means that I sometimes needed to hunt for a photo that could represent my day. Other times, I have so many photos that I find it incredibly difficult to choose just one – but I only choose one.

Later in 2013, I found a wonderful article written by Nic MacBean titled Snap happy: bestselling author Matthew Johnstone finds peace through photography. This article helped me put my project into clearer words and to realise what I was trying to do with it. It also gave me another book to find and read! (Note: I love books – I can’t get enough of them – more about my year in reading in a post to come.) However, being able to articulate why I am taking photos and why I want to do it every day has been enormously beneficial in understanding my motivations and intentions for myself – something deeper than just sharing images from my year of adventure – something more basic in understanding myself and my life.

Here are some of the highlights from my year of adventure, mind-full-ness, and understanding.

a beautiful flower

beauty

a sad experience

a sad experience

loving experience

a loving experience

an engaging experience

an engaging experience

a beautiful experience

a beautiful experience

…these are just a few of my favourites – you can see more on my Instagram account: http://instagram.com/tabras {shameless plug – I know!}. I intend to continue to share one photo per day throughout 2014 as well, even though my “year of adventure” is over and I’m “back to reality”, as such. Who says we can’t play with reality and enjoy what we do? 😉

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Bliss Balls – The “Safe” Christmas Goodie

Christmas is called the “silly season” for a reason – many people overindulge in gift giving and in food eating, and in beverage drinking. We can find ourselves in so many situations to overindulge during the holiday season, so the little bits that we can do to make our choices healthier, the better. Of course, some people might think that this is the time “have a treat” or “forget the diet” – it’s only once a year! I’ve been so good! However, this thinking is likely to get us into trouble, as so many people websites blogs articles and discussions like to remind us.

If you haven’t heard of bliss balls before, then their name gives them away – they are bliss! Little bites of heavenly bliss! These bliss balls are very quick and easy to make – the preparation time is less than 15 minutes (depending on how quickly you can roll the balls) and there is no cooking time. If you have a surprise visitor, these can be made on the spot and can be eaten immediately – no refrigeration necessary! If there are some left over, though, they should be refrigerated.

On that note, let me introduce this post’s recipe: easy-peasy bliss balls. Really. They are easy and they are pure bliss! You can use this recipe as a base and adjust the ingredients to what you feel like eating – but try this one first. It really is amazingly easy and simple to make – and delicious – and relatively good for you!

Easy-peasy Bliss Balls

Easy-peasy Bliss Balls

Makes approximately 20 large balls.

Ingredients
1 cup almonds
1 cup chopped dried dates, soaked (or medjool dates)
1 cup desiccated coconut
cinnamon {optional}
a little extra coconut to coat the balls {optional}

Method

  1. Blend almonds until smooth.
  2. Add coconut and dates to the mixture and blend until combined and the mixture reaches the desired texture. {My texture is rather smooth and almost creamy – they melt in my mouth!}
  3. Roll into balls. {Hint: Wear food preparation gloves to make this easier and less sticky.}
  4. Coat with desiccated coconut for a gentle look. {optional}
  5. Refrigerate if not eaten immediately. Technically, they will last for a few days (4~7 days), but I’ve never been able to test this – they disappear too quickly!

Options

  • Roll in shredded coconut to finish.
  • Substitute other nuts and/or seeds for the almonds.
  • Choose a different dried fruit for a sweeter flavour (e.g. apricots or figs) or a sharper taste (e.g. apple or papaya).
  • Add some more flavour with spices (e.g. nutmeg and cinnamon) or carob powder (although this will dry the mixture, so you may need to add the date water) or vanilla essence or other flavours to your taste.

Warning: They are good – you may need to practice restraint! 🙂

food for food

paleo pancakes

I am going to try something different. I want to add more creativity to my blog, and my creativity is lying in food these days. While I love writing and love being creative in that area, I am finding it difficult to complete posts. I have so many half written posts and pebbles of ideas that I’m going crazy. I figure that if I can focus on way creative outlet at the moment, then I share it through here. So, this  is my attempt to add some creativity to the blog as an alternative to my “usual” writing of posts. I find that I have more time to be creative now in the real world, but not so much in my blog world. Until I can find a better balance, I’m going to start uploading recipes that I’ve tried and hopefully these will inspire you in your own food journey.

A brief side note: I have numerous allergies and intolerances to different foods and proteins, so I am experimenting with paleo foods and raw foods. I am not specifically on a paleo diet or a raw diet, or anything like that, but I find that these foods agree with my body and mind, so I try to eat these as much as possible. I also attempt to avoid sugar, but this is not always successful…even though it makes my body feel horrible… One day I will overcome my sugar issues, but for now, my aim is minimal sugar (and sugar alternatives).

I want to make pretty things…

That’s what I want to do. I want to make pretty things. Pretty things like beautiful prose, lovely jewellery, and cute teddy bears to warm people’s hearts. I used to be so creative with my life – making things, designing rooms, painting pictures – but I’ve lost myself in the “corporate” world where there is only pressure to perform, to get to the next level, to do even better than before. I’m lost because I lost time to be creative and if I had the time, I had lost the energy to let my mind be creative. I love my “corporate” work, but I miss being creative. I miss making pretty things – I want to make pretty things again.

This year I have a chance to change my life; I have a chance to make pretty things. If I make pretty things and I work out how I can make it part of my life, I think this year is a win. But I haven’t made progress just yet; I have pretty things to be made – I just have lost my time a little with the rush and urgency of surviving here. I want to reclaim time to make pretty things and stop “wasting” time doing those things that suck my time and energy but don’t produce what I want them to produce.

I guess this is kind of a reorienting idea; I want to do my life differently and change what I do. If I want to leave the “corporate” world, then I need to make this year count and I need to use my time more wisely. I want to reinvigorate my passion for creation and for making pretty things. I want to reclaim what my soul is and what it desires to be. I want to become more of me.

Cluj Botanic Gardens: Pretty things

silence on the blogwave

So, I’ve been quiet for a while. There’s a number of reasons for this, but let’s just say that my life is going through a very interesting phase where lots of my beliefs and understandings are being challenged and extended. I’ve also found the need to do a “brain dump” regularly on another (more private) site and this is has been helping me work through this time. But I want to talk about that site for a minute. Or two.

The site is 750words.com. And it’s exactly that – a place where you write 750 words per day and it stores them but no one can see them. The site creator mentions that as writers, we sometimes just need to “dump” what’s in our minds to clear them so we can focus on the day ahead. In pre-tech times (or for old school writers~ haha!), it was recommended that three pages were written every morning – just writing to get the words and ideas out – a kind of brain dump. Three pages translates (on average) into about 750 words, hence the site title.

Admittedly, I could do a brain dump here every day, but then I would wonder if I could publish it or not – would I want to make it more anonymous so that those who may know me offline don’t quite understand what I’m going through? Hmm… Interesting. I’d rather dump at 750words.com and then come here to write something more meaningful and hopefully more sensible. So, my writing here hasn’t been as often as I would like it. I’m actually still stuck on a post from February 14 – it’s still in the works because I’m not sure how to word a feeling that transcends all others…

One thing that I love about 750words.com is that it analyzes the written words for tone, feelings, temperament, and so on. It tells you what you primary emotions were while writing… Here’s what the site says about the indices it uses:

This page displays everything I could find that I thought might be interesting to you. It uses two text analysis systems: the Regressive Imagery Dictionary (for the emotions), and the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count system. In addition, this site collects as much metadata about your writing as it can. The hope is that some correlations can be found that you weren’t explicitly aware of.

I highly recommend 750words.com – it is a great resource and I’m endeavoring to get to it every morning – my brain definitely needs to “dump” these days. (Last night it kept be awake all night wondering what I had gotten myself into – and this morning I’m paying for my lack of sleep. Perhaps I should do a brain dump before I go to bed as well…)

I hope I will back blogging (relatively) regularly soon – I just need some time to find my words.

redefining the landscape

The landscape within. Redefining the landscape within.

It’s time – there’s no doubt about it. While my inner landscape has been undergoing renovations over the past few years, I haven’t considered a complete redefinition. Yet. But I think it’s time. The renovations have been moving along quite well, but it still has the same basic landscape – just some different colours or pictures on the walls or hobbies to keep the mind occupied. So, I think it’s time to consider a complete redefintion.

Redefine = give a new or different definition to

I will redefine the landscape within so that I can become more comfortable with what I am becoming; so that I can fit into my new skin more easily. It’s difficult to fit into something that doesn’t fit anymore – it’s time to redefine so it fits more appropriately. This doesn’t mean that I’ll throw away the renovations and start again – some of the renovations have been quite good. Some could use a colour change, but the general gist of them has been positive and worth pursuing. Maybe part of the redefinition can be an adaptation to include the different renovation areas where they sit naturally – an expansion of sorts – perhaps even an unlimited space to grow and be. Perhaps I will focus on the process of redefinition rather than the end result – this might be the way that will best allow a full exploration of what the redefined landscape might enable.

So where do I start with it all? I’ve got the idea – but where to start, where to start… Maybe it’s better if I don’t define where to start and just let it happen organically. Once I put the idea into the universe, I know that it will begin to take shape in the way that it’s meant to be – the way I need it to be – the way that’s right for me. So, here goes…

redefine