reconnecting with bliss

I have been reading Jenna Bailey’s Can Any Mother Help Me?, the story of a group of women who built decades of friendship through a circulating magazine that they wrote. The magazine commenced in 1935 and concluded in the early 1990s due to old age and ill health. They wrote about “ every aspect of their lives – the pain and elation of childbirth, the challenges of marriage, broken hearts and fading dreams”. Many had to cope with husbands who changed drastically due to the experience of war.

One woman was Roberta, who moved in Switzerland with her husband and four children only to be informed by her husband that he had met someone else and wanted a divorce.

Roberta wrote the following extract that struck quite a chord with me. She was writing about her marriage break up and her journey to a new life, but to me, her words and emotions are very reminiscent of the journey I have found myself on in recent months, actually since I found myself made redundant at the end of 2009 and decided to embark on a career change to teaching.

“… I have been torn, twisted all inside of me, mentally at sea, never at rest, seeking what I did not know, but I was terribly restless mentally, and I know at one point I would have cracked up and was terrified. I did not sleep properly and woke thinking of …but now I have floated free, free, free, bliss. If the clouds do come again to close me in, I don’t think it will ever be the same, I hope not.

I guess it is the natural reaction to having been tossed and torn and buffeted left and right…”

In short, it is true, what doesn’t kill you, does make you stronger. The change may indeed not be something that you would have chosen for yourself, but there is something to be gained from any experience,  and if each day is taken for what it is, eventually you emerge to confidence in your ability to cope with what there is, and your own bliss.

speaking of wasting and wanting…

Mr FD has gone to collect his father’s ashes today. When he rang to make the appointment, they asked where the ashes were going, and Mr FD replied that his father had selected a wall niche at their parish church.

Mr FD was then told that wall niches are smaller than urns, and often not all the ashes will fit into the niche. He was asked if he wanted the leftover ashes!

How macabre! I have visions of a little box and a doggie bag of left over ashes! FIL was only a very small man, about 5 foot 3 inches, so one would think that if anyone was going to fit into a niche he will!

One can but wonder why they can’t build a brick wall a little deeper to contain an entire body! This is just stupidity gone mad!

We thought that if there are extra ashes that we will take them to the bay where FIL liked to fish many years ago, and scatter them there, but how distressing for the family to be faced with a double farewell.

The whole cremation process really does feel like a very impersonal conveyor belt process. I have, once again, instructed my children not to cremate me. I want to be buried and have a HUGE monument to mark my resting place, so that all may come and worship me, tearfully. And should an old foe pass by, I shall topple my monument on them!

As it is easy some days to annoy me, I may need my monument to be placed on hinges and a pulley system installed so that it can be repeatedly flipped on foes and then righted again, to fall another day!

What a crazy world we live, and die, in!

waste not, want not

Food waste is rampant in the developed, rich nations of the United States and Western Europe, driven by overwhelming consumption demands on all levels of the supply chain

Farmers are forced to throw out produce that is not up to supermarket’s aesthetic standards and plough under whole fields of ripe produce if market prices aren’t sufficient to cover labour expenses.  Produce farmers will often plant a secondary field in case the yields are not as high as expected.  If yield requirements are met sufficiently with the primary field, the secondary field is simply ploughed under.

Manufacturers dump whole pallets of food when supermarkets decline a purchase. Supermarkets throw out shelves of food when they’ve passed “best use by” dates, even though the food is still perfectly safe for consumption.  In 1995, the USDA found that 5.4 billion pounds of food were thrown out by retailers.

Finally, consumers in the developed world notoriously throw out tons of unconsumed food they let rot – approximately 210-255 lbs per person.  Food is viewed as an endless luxury to those who can afford it.

When I was growing up we wasted very little. I think in many ways this was due to the many ways my parents had been raised to reduce waste and their strong connection to agriculture. That connection to agriculture has remained in our family due to my brother being a farmer, and Mr FD being an agronomist. Agriculture is part of our everyday lived experience.

However for many people this is not the case. A friend recently mentioned that she had never actually seen a celery plant growing, and that is a very common experience for many people living in so called “developed” countries. We have lost our connection to agriculture and the central place it plays in our lives.

Too often we are selling our farms to global interests and will only realise too late that the food passing our front door is not going to our markets, but to feed a distant population who has, rather than choose to reduce their wants and wastage, to simply buy their way out of their problems, rather than seek sustainable solutions.

So, what can the “little” person do? Reduce wastage for a start. If one third of what we buy is going into waste, and not even a compost bin, but to land fill, just think of what we can achieve by using every last gram or ounce of what we bring into our home, or grow in our gardens?

We all joke about incubating the cure for cancer in our refrigerators, well, how about taking 10 minutes and actually looking at what is hiding in your fridge and taking a moment to think about using up that food? Ok, maybe it won’t be a restaurant level meal, but let’s admit it, few of us achieve that with every meal we make, do we? Left over vegetables can be thrown in a quiche, or made into hash browns. I can remember my Mum cutting up small amounts of left over roast, and adding egg, onions and whatever else she had in the fridge as a fry up on a Sunday night. We loved it too! I made left over shepherd’s pie into toasted sandwiches frequently when my children were young.

Simple things are often the best is not a phrase that has slipped into our culture without reason. It is true. Simple ways of taking on big issues are often the best. No big radical changes, or hard life style impacts, just a little thought using the things we already have.

An added benefit is that you may very well save a third of your food budget too. No small dollar number for families that one! Maybe you can reward yourself with a massage with the extra money, or a family holiday over a year or eighteen months!

Remember – waste not, want not, maybe an oldie, but a goldie!

[this post also appears here ]

rub a dub dub

There was a Daily Mail article in our weekend newspaper that reported that researchers from Yale University have suggested that “warm water acts as a substitute for company”. Their findings showed a link between feelings of isolation and the number of baths or showers that an individual may take.

The greater the sense of isolation, the longer people stay in the water and also the hotter the water temperature.

The article suggested taking a hot bath if you were feeling lonely, though the research statement suggested that loneliness leads to hot bathing.  I guess the view is that the warm is relaxing and comforting – and it fills your time!

I love my hot showers. Hotter the better in winter. I day dream about taking long, deep, soothing baths, but rarely do. Somehow it just seems like more work. The bath in out house is in the main family bathroom, which these days is only used by Son. He also showers, so the bath is usually just filled with dust and toe nail clippings (eeewwwww!) By the time, I clean the tub to the level where I would be happy to allow my bare bottom to make contact with it, I have lost all inclination…. and discovered the mould in his shower recess and cleaned that, and let’s not get started on his toilet bowl!

The once or twice a year that I do bathe, I like perfumed oils and a scented candle. I turn all the lights off, which is not only soothing, but also means I am not confronted my any surprising sights in the mirror opposite as I rise, not always so elegantly, from my bath.

When the children were teenagers, I could almost bet copious amounts of money on the fact that World War 32 would break out the minute I disappeared behind the bathroom door. When they were even younger, it was nothing to find one sitting outside the toilet door as I reappeared due to some issue that had arose in my two minute absence. We even had a cat that would place one little white paw under the door when I was otherwise occupied! Not sure what his motivation was but I guess it is nice to be needed…I think.

I remember one of FIL’s biggest sorrows was when the care staff who visited them at home, told him he needed to cease taking a daily bath as he was becoming too fragile to get in and out of the bath. Long after they said “no more” he was still risking life and limb to take his daily soak. I think it was his English upbringing, it seems the English prefer baths to showers, well at least that post Edwardian generation! Eventually the door was removed from the shower and a chair placed inside for his assisted bathing. Another little freedom lost.

Now that I have read the article, I can just sense that every time I linger a little longer in the shower, I will have to convince myself that I am not a lonely loser, but merely have tired muscles or need to destress. I have rarely been lonely since childhood, when I often was lonely, but that is a whole different need for therapy.

And now I have the memory of Matthew McConaughey. I think on the Oprah Show, saying how he never uses any form of deodorant as his Mom and his sister told him his “natural scent” was so wonderful he didn’t need any! In fact I can never watch old Matt in a movie without that memory coming to the fore. Amazing how such trivia, and he may or may not have been joking, though I strongly suspect he was very very serious, and old Matt may have read way too much of his own publicity, well, how such minor facts can over ride anything else one knows about a person.

In the meantime, if I was lonely, or even if I just wanted to take a bath, I wouldn’t mind doing it in a few of the following places. I can be pretty sure that no toil nail clippings lurk in these tubs!

A Riverbend on a street corner

After hearing about Riverbend Books and Tea Shop, I finally got to visit the bookshop this past week. I must say I was not disappointed and that it was every bit as delightful as I had heard. It is a bookshop in the traditional sense of the world. It made me miss the bookshop I managed in the 1990s…books, music and coffee!

The books are not cheap, and that is a real issue in these days of being able to buy discount online, or to download electronically, but Riverbend has found its own niche as a place for the community. They offer classes in social media for the dazed and confused, and also a read and knit book club! I read that they also offer a delivery service in the suburb – by bicycle!

They add more than value to their experience, they do what a good book shop should – help people become the people they want to become, the best version of themselves.

The “teashop” offers breakfast and lunch, and on the Friday that I was there it was a hive of activity. There were a few groups of teachers browsing books on the last term of school,  young mothers meeting with their babies, and more than one person working away at a laptop – perhaps the next J.K. Rowling at work!

Riverbend Books – standing like a lone reed in a time of technological change. The book is alive and well! I just wish it was on my side of town…but then, maybe that is a good thing for my bank balance!

everything is coming up roses


I am  a superior human being.

I have gardened (planted celery and marigolds in the vegetable garden, as well as a lavender plant), gone for a walk (all the way to the local shopping centre, where I bought salmon to sear for dinner) and drank a lovely glass of red. I nurtured body and soul, all in one day!

Blogging, I have decided, and this is not under the influence of the red, is a great motivator (If I was under the influence I would announce “I luvs you all!” in an Australian slur). To blog about an intention, such as a life change, for example, to walk daily, brings lots of support and a few suggestions from the blog neighbourhood. This in turn leads to a sense of commitment on the blogger’s behalf and that turns talk into action. Walk the talk!

I am the case in point. I blog about needing to walk or exercise, lovely blog friends offer support and suggestions, and then I feel like I can’t let you down, as well as myself, and so voilà, I go for a walk. Who needs a salivating dog, Pavlov?

Of course that means that you have made the commitment to support and comfort me, every step of the way. Never thought of that did you? Ah yes, indeed my health is now in your hands. I am your responsibility.

What is my next reward?