Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Winter Musings

                            Image result for french vintage winter magazine covers

How do we have a better life in winter? 

Right now I'm needing some inspiration. It's been quite cold, here, in Auckland, New Zealand. Why, oh why, am I not in Bali or a South Seas place like Rarotonga, right now, enjoying the sun?

Every year, I forget how wintery it can get. How cold. How wet. How damp. How grey. And yet, when I am around mist, even in winter, I feel that I am in a magical place. And when the sun shines, and the air is crisp, that too, is lovely.

Sometimes we, or is it just me? have to look around and appreciate what there is at any time of the year. Especially in winter.

What can I do to have a better life, in winter?

  • the above appreciation, perchance? Appreciating nature in her glory, even when it's not hot and sunny.
  • I know, I really do know, that if I made hot chai tea from scratch everyday, that would be a small pleasure. The smell alone is exquisite, the taste is culinary divine.
  • I could be using my small crockpot, too, to make delicious casseroles. Again, that sense of smell, and the anticipation of yummy food. You can use beans, it doesn't have to be meat. I have a friend who pops something in her crockpot each morning, and at the end of the day, she has a yummy meal awaiting her. 
  • I have been a bit run-down for a couple of weeks, and I do feel that a brisk walk each day would do wonders, here.
  • winter is a great time to cuddle up with a good book. I am a yoga teacher, healer, and clairvoyant, yet I love to read crime novels. I wonder if it's to balance out all that love, peace, and happiness? 
  • I like to plan and sort out things, in winter. I have written a bit about it here, and it explains a bit about seasonal planning. I find that it takes time to sort things out. Maybe that's just me. But winter is indeed my best time for this. Winter is when we are hunkered down, we are a bit withdrawn. It is a great time to be reflective and sort things out.
  • I make my bed warm each night, in winter. A couple of years ago, I finally succumbed to an electric blanket. Most of my life I had suffered bone aches in my legs, all night long, for part of each year. I never put it together that it was because I was cold. (silly moi) I warmly/heat the bed, then turn the blanket off just before I get in. Winter sleep heaven. 

How to make chai tea

There are a few teabag chai mixtures that you can already buy, in health food shops and the supermarket, and there are also powders. If you can find an Indian food supply shop, they will have lots of  powders to try.

I like to add a tea bag to mine, if I'm being lazy and using either chai bags or powders. And at times, I've also used powdered spices instead. In this case, I might just use cardamon (my favourite spice), or just cinnamon. With, or without, a few slices of ginger, plus gumboot tea.

Another nice mix using powdered spices, is to mix, to taste, basically whatever you have lurking in your pantry: cardamon, cinnamon, ginger, equal amounts of each, even cloves, allspice, or nutmeg, as well, with a dash of vanilla. Yum. You can skip the vanilla and use a dash of ground pepper instead. Steep it a bit in boiling water, with your tea/or teabag, strain.

Add some warm milk: you can do almond milk, soya, cows milk, whatever. But, chai spices need fats for the aromatic compounds to be released, so non fat milk is not the way to go, here.

Chai is usually sweet, and jaggery which is very unrefined sugar, is the correct sweetener, but honey, maple syrup, or just sugar, are fine too.

The very best black tea to use in chai is Assam tea. It is a whole new taste experience.

How to be a chai master

Chai spices are usually ground with a pestle and mortar. You could cheat and use a coffee grinder. Personally, I would just use the whole spices in this instance:

  • a  couple of cinnamon sticks
  • about 6 cardamon pods
  • up to 6 black peppercorns (omit this, or just don't use too much, if you don't like it too spicy)
  • slices of ginger  - you can grate it instead, and again, see what different amounts appeal to you, anywhere from a couple of slices to a sliced hunk
  • 6 - 10 cloves
  • whole nutmeg- grate it, maybe 1/2 to 1 teaspoon 
The thing is, you don't have to use a lot of the mix to make good chai. What some people do is make a brew and leave it on the stove in a cooking pot, all day. And the heating it as needed. If you do this, you might find that leaving tea leaves in that pot makes it very strong with the taste of tea. The other  thing with chai, is that there are many variations. Nothing is set in stone, here.

Slowly bring the spices to boil, until a rich colour emerges. You can add a teaspoon or two of black tea, or add it once the aromas of the spices are released. Warm some milk (of your choice). Strain your spice/tea mix, top up with warm milk. Sweeten.

Some people steep the spices, add the tea later, then add the milk, all in the same pot.

Experiment. And enjoy.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Tidy house, tidy mind

                           Image result for vintage french magazine covers about housekeeping

Why be tidy?

Being tidier, makes me happier.  I am not a tidy freak, but I just find that organisation suits me better. And, when we are are looking for a better life, basically we can find out what suits us best, and just adapt it to suit ourselves.

I have been having a massive reorganisation effort. I don't actually have many belongings, and I am sharing a home. Nevertheless, I am responsible for my own "stuff", and it has been quite overwhelming trying to fit many of my belongings into mostly one room. So I have been living in disarray.

I finally bit the bullet, so to speak, and got myself into organisation mode. Why? I write, from home, and being very visual, I am distracted by things. Especially messy things. And I was being messy. I know that this doesn't apply to everyone, but for me, a tidy home does equal a tidy me. I am just more together when I am tidy, and all around me is tidy. I would love to be more creative and carefree in my home.... but I'm not that person.

And when I am a bit more organised, I write better. My diet is better, and I look more together. Just some things which I have noticed about myself. Yes, I know. Weird.

We all have our little ways of organising

But I'm not a completely disorganised person:

I have put most of my books and folders together. I already had one narrow bookcase filled, and now have done another narrow standing one, and a really tiny one.

I always store clothes which I am not currently using, and am about to store all of my summer scarves and such.

I organise things in categories. Yes, very anal. And so satisfying. It makes it easier to find things, and saves time. Including my books. They are all in sort-of-categories, like spiritual yoga, old fashioned posture books which I love, aura healing, Maori healing, etc. I am still trying to finish all of this, as I like my writing stuff to be close by when I'm writing.

I regularly go through my skin care and make-up, and today is bathroom day. Those bits and pieces which you might use, but never do. Out they go!

I even like things organised in the kitchen. It just makes life easier, for me. It is actually not my favourite room to hang out in, as I am not so much into cooking, these days.

Whenever I have a reorganise, I'm also having a biff-out. I do feel that the local hospice should give a loud cheer whenever I turn up, as I have donated so much over the years.

And, for me, I like to be simplistic when I'm sorting things out. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, sweeties. I have more organising to do, before I am satisfied, but I still intend to not complicate things, as I go.

The problem is, with putting everything away, that I forget to use things. Like jewellery. All packed in a drawer, in cute wee boxes, but unused, because I forget to open the boxes. One place that I lived in, I hung a piece of thin elastic between two screws, and put my necklaces in a row, on the elastic. Whenever I opened my wardrobe, I'd see the necklaces hanging there, and would wear them.

And, I regularly go through my skin care and make-up boxes to see what I can use up, rather than buying more.

I don't think that everyone needs to be like me. But, I need to be like me. For my own life. And I guess that's the real message:

How do you like to live, for your life?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The Weight Loss Chronicles: 3

                           Image result for vintage dieting books

Getting In My Own Way

The thing is, being a double Libran (Libra Sun and Moon), I really am a bit of a people pleaser and  this totally gets in my way. One of my kids keeps saying: "stop being someone's Mum, Mum". Meaning: stop worrying about others, and just do your own life. Phew! That's a hard one. Librans, and especially double Librans, really prefer to get on with others. It's like an affliction, really.

And most Librans whom I know, and I am generalising here, we are incredibly helpful. Yep. Instead of doing what we need to do for ourselves, we will be helpful, instead. Because, actually, we are (most of us, anyway) nice. And kind.

So, this is my next new routine: 
                         just get on with my own life

This is what I've been doing so far, and I've written about it in previous posts, including this oneherea bit about waterand this :

  • have a sense of excitement about losing weight
  • make food look nice
  • wait for meals (this actually means 'no snacking'), but of course, sometimes I do have a wee snack. But I do endeavour not to.
  • eat off smaller plate
  • have a glass of water with meals 
  • eat eggs and drink water or tea when I'm doing le cafe thing. All those lattes love to stick to my body, so I am seldom having them
  • I've, mostly, cut down on fats. They like to hug my body too much. Butter is my bete noir (black beast) of foods
  • as much as possible, I've been eating foods which are low on the glycemic index. This means foods which do not cause me blood sugar problems. And delicious peanut butter has been replaced with Vegemite
  • I avoid, as much as possible, foods which have chemicals added to them
I do some extras in my routines:

I've had a morning routine for most of my life. But I've also had long periods, when I didn't. This is the current one:
  • a glass of warm water as soon as I get up. I intend to get into making it two glasses, or, 500 mls. Plus more before lunch. Why? you may wonder. Well, two of the most naturally slender people whom I know, drink a lot of water each morning. I figure that if it works for them.......
  • I mostly do a small yoga routine. Small. But doable. I do this particular sequence, or variations of it, because it's like giving your organs a morning massage. And it really helps with my blood sugar. Which of course, helps with weight management.
  • specific yoga breathing. I vary this according to the seasons, and this year I started a routine in autumn to boost my resistance to flu and viruses. So far, it's been amazing, and although I did pick up a virus, twice, each time it was minimal and only lasted a few days. (I also am a yoga teacher, so I have some tools up my sleeve)
  • meditation most mornings
And I've added some bits and bobs to my evening routine: 
  • an earlier dinner. I go out for a meal at a friend's one night a week. I teach a class there for 5 people, then we all gather around the table for nice healthy food and lovely conversation. (How lucky am I?)
  • But otherwise, I try for dinner between 4 - 5pm. This is because it gives a long period between dinner and breakfast. Have a 12 hour break overnight, between those two meals, has been found to aid weight loss. Many people do a 16 hour break. But.... I am not being so extreme. I do eat a scone each Monday evening when I'm doing mahi (work) at a healing clinic. 
  • drink two full glasses of water between dinner and bed. I used to do that, but, stupidly, stopped. Jon Gabriel, a phenomenal man who last an incredible amount of weight, and has kept it off for years, used this method to help lose weight. As one of his tricks. It definitely fills me up and stops evening snacking
  • I've been getting lots more sleep, as it's a great stress management tool

Our diet is the means to losing weight. Who knew? This is according to 2017 - 2018 findings. I'm not sure what the next new findings will be, regarding the exercise - diet - weight connection. But, and these are important points:
  • when we diet, we can lose muscle instead of fat
  • when we tone our muscles, and thereby create muscle tone, as we diet, we are more likely to burn and lose fat rather than muscle
  • our muscles create shape, when they are toned. They also give us strength, and endurance
  • muscle burns more calories than does fat
  • there is a big connection between muscles and our body ticking over as we lose weight.
  • Muscle tone seems to have a big effect on our metabolism not slowing down as we reduce. If our metabolism slows too much, it is harder to lose weight.
So, I have been toning or light weight exercises, a couple of times a week. I haven't weighed myself lately, but, my trousers are getting quite baggy, so I know that the process is continuing. I look the same shape, but my clothes are telling a different story. And, for sure some squats, planks, and vigorous waving of arms with light weights, are having a subtle effect.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Having a Better Life

                      Image result for vintage french woman in sarong                                                
Why write about a better life?

My blogging mentor, Sarah, pointed out that, although I had said on her facebook site, that this blog was about "Having a Better Life", I hadn't actually said in my blogs what a better life actually is. Nor had I put that on my heading, I might add. Sarah pointed this out twice, before her message finally sunk in. So, first I changed the Header on my blog site to point out that you-areunique is about having a better life, then I wrote this post.

I'm really grateful to Sarah, for pointing out what I had missed. It has completely changed my outlook on my blog, in such a positive way.

So I am really excited to be writing this, because having a better life was always what my blog was supposed to be about. But, somehow, I seem to have gotten a bit lost. How could I possibly have done This Big Mistake? Well typical me, I think about all angles of something, get writing about all of these subjects, then forget to actually state the obvious! So, here goes:

What is a better life?

I think that this is something that is so personal to oneself. And, I think that it has to do with:

  • what is a better life for you/me/whoever?
  • why aren't you/me/whoever doing it already?
  • what can we do, right now, towards our dream life?
So, lets ponder this:
  • again: what would be a better life for you, or me? (being a bit more specific, now)
  • better than what? 
For me, that would be: better than it is now. Why? Because I'm not really doing all of the things which I would love to do, in order to give myself the life that I would love. Hardly any of them, actually.

But I do know exactly what my Dream Better Life List would include:
  • travel each winter to a warm country during the coldest, wettest months in New Zealand (this has been a lifelong dream). I could go, say, to Bali, or a Polynesian island, and teach some specialist yoga courses there to pay my way.
  • take a large workshop at least four times a year on deep esoteric aspects of yoga. I taught such seminars for year, then stopped. I have resumed teaching these workshops, but would like to do more 
  • be more involved in the healing community which I'm part of
This is just a starter. For me, there is definitely more. And, all of it is achievable! So why on earth aren't I doing what I know that I need to do, to Have A better Life?

What is stopping me? Or you?
  • sometimes, I do think that it's all about having time to do things
  • not only having time, but also sometimes, for some things - it's just not the right time
  • and, sometimes we need to change a lot in our living environment just to be able to achieve our dream life
  • sometimes we simply need to make changes in other aspects of our life
Honestly, so many options to consider, before The Dream Life happens, especially on a big scale.

I am excitedly pondering the massive possibilities. 

And, I am definitely interested in anything that anyone else has to say about all of this. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Are you a planner, more spontaneous, or.....?

                         Image result for vintage french woman organised

Are you a planner? Or, do you "go with the flow?" Be more spontaneous? Or are you somewhere in between?

My guilty habit

I overplan. Yes, I do. With my youngest I would be staring her in confusion when she was a teenager, in the mornings just before school, when she was teenagering (you know what I mean....), instead of just fitting in with the plan. That list, in my head. That sequential plan of me getting a ridiculous amount of things done, before we both went on our way, for the day. The plan that she knew nothing about.

Nor did my eldest, a generation older, know that they were supposed to fit in with my list of the time, when they were young. Probably because I never told them. I just quickly did whatever, trying to get them to school, and me to work.

Why are we this way?

Why do I do these things? And why don't you, the people who don't? Is it insidious programming from early childhood, which makes us the way that we are? It actually could be, in my case. But I am quite sure that all of my many sisters and brother, are not that way. Nor all of my children.

I am often spontaneous. Yes, I am, friends and family. But, in a more planned way. So if someone contacts me on the day, and says "coffee at Fiesta cafe?", (guess what I'm doing today.... spontaneous coffee coming up), I then drop everything and go for coffee, a chat and a laugh. Otherwise, I get up with a plan in my head and methodically set about doing everything. Do I do it all? Not always. But I mentally plan to. That is, I have it in mind to do everything that I have allocated to do, for that day. But I don't always get it all done. Of course, I don't.

But being a bit of a planner, makes me the sort of person who can be counted on to do this and that. For example, I almost always turn up at The Maori healing clinic that I work at, and go to meditation on another night. Unless I am sick, or am working.

In my early years I was the eldest of 5, and I was Mum's helper. Which is how it always is in a big family. (bonus = you learn pretty quickly how not to be selfish) And so when I became a young mum, myself, it was easy to quickly step into a routine. We first lived in a small flat in an old villa on a beautiful beach, where I wanted to be asap, each morning, with baby. But I learnt pretty quickly that wee one needed a routine in her early months, and I guess that I just automatically fell into a system, no doubt from hidden memories of being the eldest when I was younger.

But, I wanted my kids to have a freer life, and so, part of our routine each day, was, as much as I could manage it, was them playing with friends.

How can we change?

I guess, really, that we have to want to change, with anything, before we can even think about it. I have often thought of all the lazy days on the beach that I missed out on, because of that darned list that I had for the day. The movies, the plays, the being carefree. All of the things that I didn't do, but, in retrospect, I wish that I had (sigh)

I want that life. That more spontaneous, more full of laughter, life.

I think that I should make it a priority.

I have a new "rule". Or is it a plan? For spontaneous people whom I know, I shall quickly contact them and see if they are free to do this and that, on the day. As suggested by a spontaneous person.

What would be your choices? Plan? Be spontaneous? Or a bit of each? What suits you best?

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...