Saturday, 29 December 2012

Happy New Year



The start of a new year is a great opportunity to reflect on the year that has been and think about what you want to achieve/experience/do in the next year.

I like to start a new journal on New Years Eve and kick it off with a list of highlights from the year. Things I am proud of, grateful for, things that made me smile or helped me grow. Most of us don't stop and reflect enough so this is a really nice time to look back at 2012 and see that even though it appeared to fly by, you did an awful lot.

And then it's time to look forward.  

What do you want your 2013 to be? What will it look like? What will you achieve, do, learn, feel, conquer?

Why not take a few minutes to think about your list of highlights and what you want out of 2013. You don't have to write it down, you don't even have to tell anyone.

Here's an extract from page one of my new gold sparkly journal.

In 2012...

·  I got married to the person I love most in the world and had a beautiful wedding

·  Traveled through the US

·  Started a new job which allowed me to learn a whole stack of new things, including the courage to stand up for myself. Also managed to survive another year of commuting and pulled myself out of a really hard slump this winter

·  Finally found a great yoga studio and decided it is something I want to do for the rest of my life

·  Learnt to cook (still wearing my training wheels but it's a start)

·  Pushed myself out of my comfort zone, grew in many unexpected ways and started my blog

·  Let life surprise me and now we're moving to Sydney.

In 2013 I want to...

·  Feel fit and energetic and happy

·  Be a good wife, friend, boss, sister and daughter by being kind and honest and present

·  Find a regular yoga class I enjoy and practice yoga in the mornings at home

·   Make exercise part of my life. Keep cooking

·  Make a home in Sydney

·  Keep pushing myself to grow and learn. Work on replacing my perfectionism with authenticity

·  Read more books. Keep blogging.

Now it's you're turn.

I want to thank you all for your encouragement, love and support this year. May your new year be whatever you need it to be. May it be filled with joy and love. May you move closer towards your truth.

Very Marie
x

(Image via Geronimo Balloons )

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas



I have two Christmases.

My family (mum's side being from Finland) celebrates Christmas in the evening of the 24th. My family Christmas is a fusion of snow inspired Finnish traditions set against a backdrop of an Australian summer.

We pretend it's -15 outside and have a sauna, light candles, and eat hot casseroles and gingerbread. Then when we're done with that, we sit outside swatting away mossies while drinking champagne and listening to a chorus of cicadas and televised carols.

My grandmother cooks everything. She always has and any attempt to contribute is met with a disapproving stare. One year my sister and I volunteered to do all the dishes. We broke three glasses and have been banned from the kitchen ever since.

Our family Christmas has largely remained the same for as long as I can remember, but as we have grown the emphasis has become less on santa and presents, and more on spending time with eachother and laughing over baileys and milk as the summer sun sinks and is casually replaced by the familiar twinkle of Christmas lights in the street below.

The next day we wake up and get ready for an Australian Christmas with Mr Marie's side of the family.

This is always a big day that involves breakfast, lunch, prawns, an afternoon nap and dinner.

We host breakfast at our place and it's always a challenge to make something yummy for six people that doesn't require much prep (given we're out until midnight the night before).

This year I am going half gluten free, half naughty Christmas goodies for the guests.

This year's menu consists of;

Finnish Christmas cookies (cooked and donated by my grandma)
Sweet Christmas bread with cheese and Christmas ham
Orange juice and strong coffee

Hope you're feeling relaxed and organised in the lead up to Christmas. Always remember that if you forget to buy someone a present, you can just re-gift a box of favourites.

Very Marie
x

P.S. It has been a really busy few months/weeks and I have not been feeling festive or at all organised for Christmas. I'm also on-call for work until Boxing Day which is never fun.

But today I found out a good friend and of mine has been diagnosed with breast cancer. In the week before Christmas. And it made all my silly worrying about food menus and presents and work seem really unimportant. My friend is going to be fine, I know that, but it did prompt me to think about what a special time Christmas should be. A time to enjoy the company of family, friends and the people you love, a time to be grateful for what we have, not because it's perfect, but because it's here and it's ours. 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Following your gut



How often do you follow your gut?

When you have to make a decision and something inside you seems to be drawing you one way even though you know it might be risky. Or you're getting ready for a night out and for some reason your instincts are telling you it's not a good idea and you stay home instead only to find the night was a disaster.

When it comes to making big decisions, I have chosen to follow my instinct. To do what feels right even if it doesn't seem entirely smart on the surface. And to date, I have always been very grateful. So much so that last week when trying to decide whether or not to take a unit in Sydney, my biggest frustration was that I couldn't decipher what my instinct was telling me.

Moving to Sydney is going to be a big change for us, the space, the lifestyle, and while struggling to find a pet friendly place in a good location was proving difficult we were finally approved for a one-bedroom unit.

Now don't get me wrong, the place was fine. The complex was lovely, the interior was brand spanking new, but it was small. Like kitchen in the living room, not many windows, all the furniture is going on e-bay, small.

Mr Marie was nervous but I was so worried that we wouldn't find anything else and the move wouldn't happen that I pushed forward, convincing the both of us that we could make anything work and we should just take it.

So we put in the application and we were set.

But we weren't. For the next week I was a mess. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't concentrate, I felt nervous about the move, my chest felt tight, I was confused and scared. Putting it down to the fear of change I tried not to let on to anyone how I was feeling.

I tried to meditate on it, knowing I had been able to draw on my instincts before gave me confidence the answer was inside me. But when the resounding feeling coming through like a knock to the head was not to take the unit and keep looking, I put it down to fear and kept going.

It wasn't until someone else saw the state I was in and asked me how I would feel if we pulled out of this one bedroom unit that was destined to be our home for the next couple of years.

I closed my eyes.

Relieved.

And there was the answer. We withdrew our application and immediately I felt lighter. My chest wasn't tight, I could breathe, I didn't want to cry, I felt excited about the prospect of moving again. I felt like I was back on the right course.

And just in case I doubted it, the next day, for the first time in three months, three units popped up in our price range, in the right location, pet friendly.

Two days later we had our application approved on a two bedroom place that feels... right.

While this was a not a life changing decision, it does serve as another reminder about the importance of listening to myself. To seeking out and listening to that voice inside of me, that feeling in my stomach, that when I sort through all the external crap and the fear, is there to keep me on my course.

(Image via A Whole Lotta Love on Pinterest)

Monday, 3 December 2012

Sunday afternoon food musings




My eating of late has been less than ideal. I could sit here and develop a whole series of reasons why, explanations to justify it, but the truth is it probably doesn't matter.

What matters is that in the last month wine has become an accepted addition to my personal food pyramid and hot chips have moved from 'every now and again' to 'almost every day.'

I have a complex relationship with food. I eat or drink for comfort, boredom, celebration, stress...and surprise surprise it's not usually the good stuff. My fledging cooking skills means this task still remains in the too hard basket when I am getting home at 730 or 8pm and it's much easier to get takeout or head out to a restaurant.

And it has to stop. I know because when I am eating well and sticking to what I know is good for me, I feel fantastic. And right now, after a weekend of too much champagne and salty foods, I feel like absolute rubbish. In fact I think I deserve a medal for successfully pulling myself out of bed this afternoon and out of my food coma to sit on the lounge and write this.

So what am I going to do? I’m going to try again.

Write a list of what I should be eating this week, do a trip to Woolworths so I have all the fruit, veggies and snacks I need to stop me reaching for junk when I get tired, bored or stressed this week. I am throwing what’s left of a bottle of Pinot Noir down the sink.

I'm just going to try again.

(Image via pinterest) 

Friday, 16 November 2012

Have a lovely weekend




Spending Friday night at home with Mr Marie and a very content kitty cat. It has been a busy week at work and we're both exhausted.

We are eating left over soup from my Mummi (that's my Finnish grandma for the unacquainted), drinking a bottle of Audrey Wilkinson Semillion, and catching up on some of my favourite blogs while Ben watches SUV, because it's the only thing on tv and we don't have the energy for anything more.

It's raining outside and it's cold enough for the coach rugs.

I feel completely relaxed.

Tomorrow I am going to look at some units for rent in the city. That's right, after almost two years of commuting, and four for Mr Marie, we have decided it's time for a break and we are planning a stint in Sydney close to work. Not sure how long we'll be gone for or when we will find a pet friendly place that accepts all three of us, but it's pretty exciting all the same.

I hope you have a relaxing weekend. While I do love the sunshine, this rain is a great excuse for a lazy weekend indoors.

Enjoy.

X

(Image via Kellymccaleb tumblr)  

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Five things



Five things I am grateful for this weekend.

1. Saturday morning yoga class – such a positive and nurturing way to start the weekend

2. A bunch of dusty pink peonies

3. My cat Paris who has come to accept her dramatic new summer hair cut



4. Hugs from my four month old nephew

5. Not having plans on a Saturday night, leaving me free to drink champagne while watching Walking Dead with the husband. This should not be my kind of show, and yet, I am a little obsessed.

Have a lovely weekend

x

Saturday, 27 October 2012

I ran away from home



I have been a little bit slack on the blog posts these last few weeks.

Commuting, work and worry have just been kicking my butt and have left me feeing pretty darn exhausted.

Not one to settle for such a feeling, I decided to take matters into my own hands last week and give myself a break.

My darling sister and brother in law were overseas for a holiday, which meant their unit was empty. So I packed up my bags, kissed the husband and Paris goodbye and spent two nights alone in the city where I could have some time to myself and a break from the commute for a couple of days.

On the first afternoon I took myself for a cheap Thai massage (my usual masseuse was booked out) and while this was far from ‘glamorous’, what with the lovely receptionist’s phone ringing with LMFAO every few minutes and the sound of the busy street outside, it was exactly what I needed.

I ate Thai takeout, I watched the Kardashians, I slept in until 645am each day and I stopped for gluten free banana bread on my way to work.

It was bliss.

And while I know those of you with children etc are not in a position to run away from home whenever you please, I guess the point is that when you’re feeling overwhelmed (tired, sad, stressed or all of the above) there is usually something you can do to help you get through.

Not to necessarily make it better or fix the problem, but to help you make it through the day or the week. Because sometimes that's all we need. 

(Image via foxontherun )

Saturday, 13 October 2012

This week



This week I wrote a guest post about commuting for my friend and blogger of ‘Homespun Bliss’ Jodie. Read it here.

Image via (silent musings). 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

What happens when you stop



I have wanted to update you all on my weekend health retreat, but I actually needed a few days to recover and reflect on what I took away.

It wasn't entirely what I expected and for a variety of reasons, I found it quite challenging. Not only because I discovered terry towling robes were not permitted outside the 'spa' waiting rooms, but because being forced to stop and face yourself can be a really hard thing to do. 
 
At my health retreat; 
  • I remembered the importance of stopping. That is, stepping off the constant roller coaster that is commuting, work, stress, plans, parties, family, life. Stepping away from people, from email, from facebook. Stepping away from it all and stopping to actually look at what I’m doing, what I’m thinking, what’s stressing me out, what’s making me happy, where I’m going, and underneath all the layers of bubbly exterior, what I am actually feeling. For me, I need to make a clean break. To go away, to avoid distractions, to leave my phones at home, in order to sort through all the crap and all the excuses and really stop and feel. I hope this won’t always be the case, that eventually I will find that stillness within me, but at this moment, it was so important for me to take the rather extreme measure of spending my long weekend at an old boy’s boarding school turned health retreat in order to take stock.

  • I remembered the value of meditation. Sitting cross-legged in the silent garden, listening to the birds and the breeze and my own breath, I remembered the answers to my questions exist within me, if only I make the time and space to listen.  

  • I realised that while I have taken positive steps in the health department, the painful headache I suffered from detoxing from sugar and caffeine showed me I still have many more steps to take on my food journey.

  • Through some of the activities over the weekend, especially creative arts, I rediscovered parts of myself. I was reminded who I am. It is so easy to forget.


(Image via Pinterest)

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Long weekend is almost here



It's the long weekend this weekend. Do you have plans?

I am off to a health retreat with my good friend Elissa. I have never been to a health retreat before and I am so excited. Three days of healthy vegetarian food, exercise, a massage, terry towling robes (I may have made that one up), long walks and meditation.

I have also packed two books, The God of Small Things and the new Marian Keyes book. Two books may be optimistic but I don't care.

I look forward to returning refreshed and rested.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

x

(Image via pinterest)

Monday, 24 September 2012

The carousel




Do you ever feel like you're on a merry go round? Going round and round and not realising you're stuck until you pass that same landmark for the tenth time.

I often feel like I’m going around in circles, and no matter how much I learn and think that I have grown, I fall into the same bad habits. One of my cycles is my tendency to react to feeling tired/sad/stressed or overwhelmed by making myself super busy and agreeing to a ridiculous amount of plans so I don't have to acknowledge what is really going on.

I have been known to book out entire weekends and weeknights with back to back catch ups, to the point of occupying a table in a coffee shop and having people lined up to meet me on the hour.

A perfect example is last week when I had breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner plans booked all in one day, and then convinced myself at 9pm I had to make muffins for the week ahead.

From the outside, I know this is insane, I know I am destined to fail and staying so busy with no down time is completely unsustainable.

But I don't do this on purpose, and most of the time I don't notice what I have done until I get sick or feel like I'm about to collapse. It’s only then that I'm prompted to stop and ask myself why... 

And there they are... weeks of endless plans rolling back at me like a bad midday movie. Anyone watching can see exactly where this is all going, but the leading lady is absolutely clueless and has no idea what's waiting around the corner.

So I did it again. For the last week I have felt so unbelievably exhausted that my energy levels, positive thinking and healthy eating have all gone out the window. I feel so tired, a little bit fluey and a tad sorry for myself.

Why oh why do I never learn? How do I not recognise the signs?

Do you have cycles or bad habits you routinely fall into?

(Image via 500px) 



Sunday, 16 September 2012

Five things...


Five things I am grateful for this weekend...

1) Fresh spring flowers

2) Campos coffee

3) Spending time with good friends – old and new

4) A $24 pedicure

5) Baking gluten free chocolate cupcakes for my yoga class to celebrate the end of term



(Image via ellabella floral )

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Spring smoothie



I wanted to share a yummy and healthy new smoothie recipe I have been enjoying the last few weeks.

One cup of frozen blueberries
Half to one full banana
Half a tablespoon of LSA or Flaxseed
One teaspoon of chia seeds
One cup of milk (I drink rice milk rice)
Blend

Enjoy

x

(Image via observando ) 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

What's next?



I am always busy planning and working towards my next goal.

A uni degree, a promotion, a house, an adventure, a new job, a wedding, a honeymoon.

It’s what I do. I plan and I move and I work towards something.

Recently it dawned on me that I've got nothing big to plan for. I've got the job I wanted that requires me to stay put for the next 2-3 years, I've got the unit that we love and that for financial and lifestyle reasons we will probably live in for the next 2-3 years, I've got the husband and we've just exhausted our funds on travel and a wedding.

All the 'big' milestones - house, new job, children, big travel - they're all a few years off and I have nothing to keep me busy planning.

I know for some people this might sound wonderful but for someone who has spent her entire adult life planning and consuming herself with 'what's next', I feel pretty lost.

I am not accustomed to stopping. Pausing for reflection. I don't know how to just be. My instincts are all shouting for action, for change, for something.

But for all sorts of reasons, I am here and I can't run away, or move and I don't want to waste the next three years planning for what comes next.

What's next has to be what's now and to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure where to start.  

(Image via shotgun-season )   
 

Friday, 31 August 2012

Yoga for beginners



I started a yoga course last week. It has been a few years since I've done a proper yoga class... and that became very apparent half an hour in.

My wrists felt strained, my legs ached, my mind struggled to focus, and I felt light headed from holding the poses. My body was in a state of shock.

My first week was so hard I couldn't even write about it.

Afterwards I felt sore and disappointed that I'd done so badly. I was quite reluctant to go back.

Yesterday I went to my second class carrying that reluctance in with me, and you know what, it was a fantastic class.

My body cooperated, my brain played ball and I relished in the breathing and meditation. I felt strong, energetic and really soothed afterwards.

That's the thing about yoga, your practice can be so different from week to week depending on how your body is feeling and what's going on in your head. The trick is not to push too hard, not to judge it, just to do what you can and take whatever it is you can from each session.

Namaste

(image via oldtimefriend )  

Saturday, 18 August 2012

In the kitchen




Every year for the past five years I have made a New Year’s resolution to learn how to cook.

When I told people I couldn't cook, I didn't mean I couldn't cook well or I couldn't get my soufflé to sit right, I meant that aside from maggie noodles and heating up chicken nuggets in the oven, I couldn't cook.

How did I survive? Well my mum and my grandma are amazing cooks so growing up I was always surrounded by good nutritious food. And when Mr Marie and I moved in together, thankfully he could cook. On the nights we didn't spend together I would just go out for dinner, order Thai or eat peanut butter toast.

And then four weeks ago something shifted, and I started cooking.

I believe that when you follow your instincts and make a good decision, the universe will usually do its part to assure you you're on the right track. When I decided to take control of my health and start my new way of eating - no gluten, less processed foods, reduced sugar, etc, I realised that I was going to have to learn to cook meals for myself.

And I did.

This website has been my 'play book' and by picking some of the easier recipes, taking the time plan out ingredients, consulting Mr Marie about how you tell if chicken is cooked and the best way to chop parsley, I have managed to cook six gluten free recipes, and all have turned out to be pretty delicious.

I am well aware these are baby steps but I can't help but feel proud and inspired to keep going and to keep getting better.

I look forward to sharing my cooking adventures with you, and will continue to post some of the yummy healthy recipes I find.

Also I'm fairly certain a spectacular and inevitable cooking disaster is just around the corner, and I am sure we’ll all find that rather entertaining too.

(Image via bippotyboppity tumblr)