Saturday, 30 May 2020

the chic files

where has my chicness gone?

Image result for vintage fashion lady writing

lockdown clothes blues

Most days of the lockdown, I have been making a point of not descending into slobbiness. Some days, of course I have. I have slobbed. And thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt like I was doing something sneakily naughty, and getting away with it. Yes, I am pathetic, and yes, I do know that I am.

However, as a habit, and as a moi rule, I do like to be tidied up and looking and feeling good. It was just something that I saw Nanna, and my slightly older aunt, Margaret, do each day. And so in my young teenage head, I thought that this was just what one did. Decades later, I'm still doing it. It's a nice way to live. And I have found that for me, it stops me being a slob in other areas of my life.

Almost always, I do dress nicely, albiet very casually, and put on a miniscule amount of make-up. I know for sure that this makes me feel good, it makes me get into whatever work needs to be done (I mostly work from home), it makes me feel that I am accomplishing things. So yeah, I do like to scrub up.

My winter clothes, though, are a trifle sad. Threadbare tights, trousers that were so worn out that they had to go into the ragbag, not enough jumpers. All tres sigh. And of course, I am too paranoid to actually go clothes shopping during level 2 of the lockdown. I may have to "get over it" and finally do some online shopping. In the sales, naturally. I do not believe in spending a lot of money to look good. 

Chic-ness has just not been happening. I often wonder if it is actually possible to be this chic person when I'm only 157 centimetres tall. I also wonder if tiny people are supposed to look perky instead. Which I am so not doing.

My idea of chic has nothing to do with looking and dressing expensively. Nor one hundred percent tidily. It's more like a way of dressing that is unique to oneself, that allows the inner charm and quirks to be outwardly expressed. A reflective soul like moi is quite reticent about loudly expressing oneself in word, deed, or clothing. It's more of a quiet expression. 

But sometimes I do realise that I must have be doing something right here and there. For example, I've flatted with quite a few different women over the years, and have been shocked whenever one of these women would dress just like me. Same lipstick colour, same outfits. In one case, even the same hairdo and colour. Quite  freaky. 

But today, I had a call from someone wanting to catch up. Immediately. They were by my gate. And guess what? I'd been slobbing. Well, not actually. I was so busy Doing Important Stuff that I had simply forgotten to sort out moi. And this is another reason why, generally, I like to look okay, because then, it's like I'm ready for anything exciting that might suddenly happen. All systems a-go. 

I'm assuming that I'm not alone in this?

Thursday, 21 May 2020

the weight loss chronicles

more musings from moi
about the body journey,
fitness, etc

I had been going to the gym three days a week to go on the weight machines, prior to The Lockdown. I even fitted in one last workout the day before isolation. I loved my gym workout, much to my surprise. I was very, very beginner, though. Which I accepted. I had all sorts of immediate benefits. I was so happy about it all.

And I had in mind that I would do the cardio machines in the cold, wet days of winter, as well. Until then, I decided that I'd do walking outside every other day that I wasn't at the gym. Ha! Silly moi, I did not do the walking. I just didn't. 

Then came self isolation. And I had to rethink everything. We didn't know how long it would be before we could go back to the gyms. The gym culture is so big in this country, which I think is great, I really do. I worked for years in gyms, teaching yoga, and I saw some fantastic results for so many people. But I didn't want, at that time, to be going and doing other classes and the machines. 

In my isolation during lockdown, I pondered. One of the great things that I got from yoga, and very quickly, was the ability to be able to sort thoughts and feelings out logically in my head, without emoting on it all. Go back through happenings and put them into sequence, to look at cause and effect. Now, I know that for many, this is naturally easy. But I (obviously) had to aquire it. Honestly, some years this ability just went out the window, but, overall, yeah, it's been part of me for a long time.

What I pondered was to do with health, weight, and fitness. When problems started, and the tendency for them to re-emerge from time to time. Why and how they came, and developed. Going back, going back more, until I found the original cause and effect. I 100% recommend doing this. Sorting oneself out is so rewarding and empowering.

And, interestingly, I finally remembered a health situation from childhood, something that I was born with. And it underlined exactly how my body would react to stress, and food. What was behind most health issues I'd had during my life. I had a "well-I-never" moment. 

And then, with my yogic knowledge, I set about creating a small do-able daily plan, to manage it. I went back to what I was doing before the gym, but with some changes:

Each morning I get up early:

  • I do some chiropractic stretches for my back, about two minutes
  • followed by yoga flexibility moves (I know a gazillion of these), for five to eight minutes
  • about ten minutes body tone with one kilo weights, and sometimes two hundred and fifty gram weights on my ankles. I alternated between pilates (hard), moves from an old Tony Little video that I remembered (nice and easy), old fashioned yoga leg waving stuff with some arm and shoulder moves that my sister, Geri, taught me (easy), and some little known yoga sculpting moves that I came across in the 1970s (hardest)
  • then specific yoga breathing to reduce inflammation
  • meditation
  • and a walk. I've noticed that people who work and/or walk outside in all types of weather, have better resistance to viruses than the rest of us. When the lockdown is over, I'll be buying a big strong golf umbrella and a raincoat

In the evening I do some yoga: 

I went back to old fashioned floor traditional yoga with rest periods between each pose, to reduce stress and inflammation. Followed by meditation.

(I'll keep all of this up for a while, as I'm really too neurotic about viruses to go back to the gym just yet. I'll rethink it all maybe in a month or so) 

Now, how does this all relate to weight? Everything that I'm doing is for health reasons, and weight is included in this. I'm working on cooling my body. And reducing stress and the inflammation caused by it, which is my body's stress response. When I am stressed, I overheat. Which causes the inflammation. My weight is around my middle, which is the classic stress depository, and it is inflammation. I'm really happy with how I'm going right now, and am resisting my normal overkill with exercise, that I can't even maintain for even a week. 

Does anyone have any thoughts or resonance with any of this?

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

magical memories

moments in time
forever etched in our hearts and mind, every fibre of our being

Taken many years ago. My husband was working in the Tauranga, Mt Maunganui area for a while, so we all went and lived in a very old bach-like house on the beach. Very happy memories of my two wee kids laughing and playing for hours on the beach. Never to be forgotten. I clearly was a total poser, though.

One of my earliest personal memories, wishes you might say, was to have a special dress woven by spiders with glistening dew drops throughout. I was filled with awe at the beauty of the early morning visions of these webs. I was 100% sure that this would get me in with the fairies. Because I just knew that they wore such dresses.

I'm not sure that I equated spiders properly with the dress, though. For we would go to Mum's parent's farm and market garden (now it's Birkdale in Auckland), and we had to do the most terrifying thing there. We were all very young and impressionable. The toilet was an outhouse. So scary. Big spiders on the walls waiting to grab us. I was terrified that I would fall through the seat hole into that scary bottomless pit. Wait - that's not a magical memory! Moving on......

But we did have some special gatherings at Nanna's. Outside in the sun, family everywhere, for in New Zealand during those years, many people had quite a few children. The house was an old villa, yes old even then, and almost completely empty. I was fascinated by it.

We had family get togethers at my other Nanna's too. Quite different. Lots of family still, but very different. Nanna would give birthday parties, for say, all the February grandchildren, or the children born in two months, like October and November. And then there was Christmas. Nanna had such a strong sense of family and inclusion. She always made me feel as though it was fine to be me, and that I mattered. One winter's afternoon, Dad took us there, and to our surprise there were two unusual old people waiting to meet us, smiling and happy to see us: Nanna's parents. My first remembered experience of meeting someone new, and yet knowing that I was part of them. 

And this is such a big part of Maori culture of our country: we are part of our ancestors. Their experiences can be carried on through us. And of course, modern science has started to realise this. 

The thing about grandparents, is that somehow, through them, we have this magical experience of belonging, and being part of this extended family whole. Very special indeed. 

My two Nannas were so different, yet quite similar. Both kind, hard working, gentle and soft spoken. Both very fiercely family orientated. My memories of them both, are so magical indeed. 

I know that I am quite different from my grandchildren's other grandmothers. As it should be. Each grandparent has something unique for a child. I have a new grandchild whom I've not seen much of, due to the Lockdown. Each time she has met a new family member - she just knows them!! I love the way that babies do that. Smarter than adults on a deep level. I so wish that we kept that smartness throughout our life.

What about you? Any magical memories? I had a big list for this post but when I got to Nannas, well, who could go past them?

Friday, 1 May 2020

it's okay to have human emotions

life sometimes is so hard and sad
sometimes we hurt so much
and it's okay to be like that
because we are human beings who love

Piha, West Auckland Beach - a favourite happy place for Westies. I love going to any of the West Auckland beaches, balm for our mind and emotions. I'm so looking forward to resuming this when we are able to.

I was at a family funeral a few years ago, and the visiting pastor told us that grieving was not a sickness. Meaning that there is nothing wrong with grieving. I so agree. I tell my family, that when someone (and I'm definitely including our pets here) whom we love passes over, we are supposed to grieve, we are supposed to cry, to hurt, and to miss them. It is natural to do so. And I felt in that moment, at the funeral, that the pastor was reminding us: it is human to grieve, and it is okay to do so.

I am so lucky in that I've never experienced the passing over of a partner, nor a child, nor grandchildren. I cannot imagine how people can cope in these instances. 

But there definitely are some painful loses that I have never, ever, recovered from (and I won't be mentioning them here). I know that I shall be taking them to my grave, and I'm okay with being like that. Because I know that I am only human, and I am in this incarnation to experience a human life, and all that it entails. As we all are.

So why would a humble little blogger write about this? 

I am a bit "love, peace and happiness". Which could just be a Libran affliction. But I'm not like that all of the time. Gosh, no. Who is? Interestingly, during my yoga years (of many decades), emotions were frowned upon. It meant that one was not "detached" (from "stuff" ie emotions) (for goodness sake!). Then I go on to hear about "neutrality" (which was often interpreted the same as detachment) in another spiritual mode. Now, I do understand both, in their purity. But hey, I've never, ever met anyone who could do either 24/7. 

But basically, both detachment and neutrality in the (so-called) spiritual sense, are about being unaffected by our own and by others', fluctuations of mind and emotions. Which is a very tall order. 

Now the why of writing about this. With The Lockdown, it seems that things have been "so in our face". Memories that might not be so great, regrets, etc, things that we push our emotions down with, and carry on. Which, yes, is another human trait. Imagine how awful life would be for everyone if we all ran around screaming, tantruming, crying, instead of learning how to cope and have a good life?

the times they have been a-changing 

I mention all of this, because the times, they have a-changed. Very, very, quickly. I do not think that anything can ever be the same for almost everyone. Aside from the ever present lurgy of a killer virus re-emerging, scary world leaders (we all know who he is) making everything worse, millions losing jobs. Oh, gosh, the list just goes on. 

And one of the reasons that things can never be the same, is that most of us will have a-changed on differing levels.

Because with these changing times during this scary and otherwise unusal time, we did not have our usual diversions. Our ways of sidestepping things, of pushing them down inside us on an emotional level. So now they have had an opportunity to arise.  

Just saying. 

And it is this, I believe, that will make many of us make changes in our life, our outlook, our behaviour, associations. And this aspect of these strange times, is so positive for us all.

A bit like the phoenix arising from the ashes, effect. Rebirth, renewal.

and some lovely reflections too

And me, being a double Libran (my sun sign, and moon, so think 2x love, peace and happiness, and all things nice), always does look for the lovely. I have always found that it makes life, and my heart, more peaceful, and more hopeful:
  • I love dawn, the start of a new day. Which always signals hope, to me. I sometimes wonder if Libra is the hope sun sign
  • I love dusk. Where I am now living, the sunsets are simply majestic. I pause, gaze, and give thanks
  • I am so grateful that Jacinda Adern is our Prime Minister
  • I am so grateful that my family are all ok. This makes my heart sing with gratitude
  • I have been relearning how to cook, and it's been enjoyable. Needs must, eh?
  • birds have come into our suburban neighbourhood, which is such a wonderful thing
  • whilst out on my morning constitutional (walk) the other day, I could smell an exquisite smell everywhere. As I walked I kept luxuriating in this scent. What was it? I kept pondering. Finally I realised that it was the smell of nature without petrol fumes (I was walking along a previously busy road). It was so amazing, this beautiful scent
  • I have a lovely home which will be cosiness personified in winter
Have you had some reflections? 

Friday, 24 April 2020


Poppy - Anzac POPANZ | Awapuni Nurseries | New Zealand

(from Awapuni Nurseries)

I was up so early, outside for a few minutes silence, for Anzac Day. Especially poignant given that there can be no dawn service for it, due to The Lockdown.

It also seems strange, not to be wearing a red poppy to commemorate it.

When I was very young, our family went to visit Mum's mum, Nanna. We drove along a small dirt road with a large field of beautiful poppies either side. Fields of flowers. Nanna was a market gardener at the time. As we slowly drove along the narrow "road", a small smiling figure seemed to rise up from the flowers. It was Nanna, busy working. A beautiful memory, forever etched in my mind.

My grandparent's farm is now suburbia. Whenever I've driven through the area, I remember: fields of poppies, and Nanna's lovely smile.

Years later, as a young child, I remember my first visit to Auckland's War Memorial Museum. Actually, prior to this, I could see the Museum over the Harbour, from Bayswater and Devonport. I didn't know what it was, but figured in my very young mind, that it must be London over that water, and that it was a Palace, where the Queen lived. 

On that first visit, and so many after, I would scan the names of the fallen servicemen, looking for family. It always seemed the right and reverent thing to do. And silently, in my heart, pay my respects to the fallen.

My Scottish stepfather lied as a fifteen year old to join the Army, and went to war. Just a child. World War Two. How can we possibly ever imagine that? 

And I was married, decades ago, to a veteran from South East Asia jungle warfare. Of course, I was too young to understand anything. But I think of him today, knowing that he wishes he was at The Dawn Service for Anzac Day.

Today we give many thanks to those who served.

he maha nga mihi ki nga kaimahi kua hinga

Monday, 20 April 2020

organising: setting the stage

for so many of us, moi self included, the lockdown has been a time to stop, pause and reflect
I have always found that this brings changes -
in the moi-iverse, anyway

Photo by Karthik Chandran on Unsplash

In 1987, I went to Nepal, and also Bihar , one of the poorest states in India. Whilst I was there, I had a life long epiphany: that no matter how poor one was in my country (New Zealand), excepting of course those who are homeless, everyone was wealthy indeed in comparison to how millions have to live. It changed me forever, in my outlook and with gratitiude. I suspect that The Lockdown will have had a similar effect for so many: epiphanies and changes. 

looking at one's future, post lockdown

I'm sure that I'm not the only person who has been doing this. So much has changed for all of us. And really, we are the fortunate ones. What about those who live where there is no welfare; have lost loved ones; have job uncertainty; and even worse, are refugees? Aye, here in Aotearoa (New Zealand), we have been so fortunate. 

I have found that myself and so many others have been re-evaluating their life, because solitude does that. Sooner or later, "stuff" comes up, and after dealing with it, we often go on to make changes. Which is good.

setting the stage

This was a term which came out in the 1990s, when so many people and businesses were doing accelerated learning; mind mapping; thinking positively; having coaches to change our attitude and performance; getting rich (little joke here, as no-one I knew got rich from the money courses)

And it's all about preparation. Prior proper preparation prevents poor performance - that was one of the terms used with it. And some people just inherently understood this, whilst so many did not.

Some people took it to mean:
  • an ambiance. Mood. Yeah I do this prior to having a healing, yoga class or reading in my home. Incense, clean and tidy etc etc. Calmness
  • mental preparation. I do this before working with other healers, I have specific things that I do so that the healing is more effective. Actually I do it at home too before a client turns up. And when I'm teaching yoga, most certainly
  • doing things. As in organising and getting things ready before hand so that when you're ready, it's all systems a-go. So in the book I've been writing, I decided my subject and chapter content, and then it was easy to get started
  • even when we go to our work place, there are always bits and pieces that we do once we get there, like turning on lights, hot water, computers, and simple things like this. Before we even start. To me, this is definitely part of setting-the-stage for one's work day
  • I also find that my mornings, although often bordering on the slack side of life, in my mind, I'm getting ready for the new day, and there are steps which I methodically follow, to do this

organisation is the key

And with the changes that so many of us will be making post-lockdown, it really helps to sort the whys and wherefores out before we actually do whatever. Along the lines of:

  • what are we going to do
  • why are we going to do it? What lead us to this decision?
  • when are we going to do it?
  • where are we going to be doing it?
  • how will we do it? What do we need to do first to get it all ready? Then what would be the next step? 

Organising and sifting through all of this, is often the first step in setting the stage., and proper prior preparation. And, of course it's okay to go through lots of decisions and try out lots of things before we come to the best for the situation of whatever we are going for. 

Because nothing is set in stone. So many of us are so privileged just to even have these choices. Tens of millions of our fellow humanity do not. I've had lots of times in my life when these choices were not part of my reality, when I just had to suck it up and do whatever needed to be done. And that's okay, too. For moi, I've never felt that life is about always having what I want, when I want and how I want. Rather, in those times, it was about making choices around situations, and people. 

So, do you have any new decisions based on your lockdown experiences? 

Thursday, 16 April 2020

simple pleasures

why would simple pleasures even matter?
(especially during The Lockdown)

** link here to the next instalment of breathing for lung strengthening, recovery from illness, asthma, and just feeling good ** 

childhood memories

I, and no doubt many others, learnt rather early in life that to get, or experience, something nice, especially when it wasn't part of the norm, was wonderful indeed. The excitement of it all. I have been reflecting on some of the things that were also part of our young lives that gave so much pleasure, but were regular. Especially in summer when days were longer:
  • after tea, the whole neighbourhood of our wee cul-de-sac, and more, were all on our front lawn, playing a game called kingasene, which I think is now bullrush? Into the early darkness of evening. Anyway, the laughter of those nights has always remained in my happy memories. Many decades later, when I went back to look at the house, I was shocked to see that the front lawn had actually been rather small
  • and these memories led me, as a young mum, to naturally allow all of the immediate neighbourhood children to congregate on our large front lawn of a summers eve, night after night, to run and play. My next door neighbours loved seeing how happy my young children were
  • in summer, as children, we would walk from a quarter of the way down the Bayswater peninsular, up to Narrowneck beach. It was such a long walk, with Mum pushing a couple of children in the pushchair, and us eldest helping to carry everything, including food. In the strong summer sun. But it was special, and we loved it. I often think of all of the things that I know of (my sisters and brother know of  more) that Mum did for her eight children to make life nicer for them. Honestly, my eyes tear up, she was amazing (thanks Mum)
  • I remember Dad giving us white bread and dripping, one morning. It was delicious. (when times are truly financially hard, people do eat whatever there is) When I went to stay at my Nanna's (Mum's mother's) farm, when I was young, she gave my cousin and I fresh unused dripping. I thought it was so special. Unused! Fast forward to about mid 2010s, and I was in a car with some other yoga people. All vegetarians. Naturally. The driver had been the youngest of nine (? or thereabouts) and he and I had a very animated and enthusiastic discussion about the deliciousness of bread and dripping and everything about and around it. The others were shocked. (of course)
My early life was one hundred percent different from my life between twelve and seventeen, when I lived with my Beloved Grandparents and Aunt (she is eighteen months older than me). Here I learnt, just by Nanna's kind but firm guidance, and also just by the way that life was lived, how lots of simple everyday pleasures, made for a more pleasurable life. Or, a nice life. Of ease. And love. And laughter. 

Of course there was love and laughter in the years prior. But, and this is a big but. I had been the eldest of five in a family where there was very little money, and as the eldest I was Mum's right hand man. Meaning that I worked heaps. I am not complaining, not at all. I hated seeing how hard Mum had to work and seeing her go to work afternoons and evenings. I wanted to help her as much as I could. I can still remember the day that I made the decision to do so. I was probably five.

And that was, in it's way, also a pleasure decision, because it made me feel better in my heart. The best form of pleasure, to me, is always from the heart.

lots of simple pleasures can make for a more happy life

and amazingly, this is what has been happening in The Lockdown

So, in This Lockdown, so many people, especially in families, are doing their best to instil the pleasure aspect, with games and singing (we are a singing nation), cooking, fitness, and laughter. 

A lot of little things have been reinstated into our lives. It is so wonderful. I live alone so yeah, a lot of what is going on is not happening so much for me. But one of my daughters facetimes me each day. I suspect it's sneakily to check up on me, which is rather lovely. But she also does it when her baby is awake, and whom I've scarcely held due to the virus. But amazingly, baby does know my voice and has even smiled when I talk to her on our calls. Now this is not a simple pleasure, it's a very big one. I feel as though my heart is going to burst. 

I have, for some years now, been installing some rather minor pleasures into my daily life. These are just little things which make life nicer, and that matter to me. 

  • fresh air into the home as soon as I wake up
  • lights out as I watch sunset. The sunsets where I live are rather glorious
  • I keep nearly all of the lights out after, burn a stick of nice incense, and have my sheets turned back, about an hour or so before bed
  • minimalist furniture and bits and pieces, as this makes me feel more peaceful than a cluttered home
  • I keep in touch with a few close friends and this makes me happy

The point is, really, to have little things which culminatively, make our life nicer. Of course you have your own special simple rituals for this. 

And right now is a good time to look at this, I feel. What can we do that is simple and nice, that adds pleasure value to our life?

the chic files

sigh where has my chicness gone? lockdown clothes blues Most days of the lockdown, I have been making a point of not desce...