Category Archives: writing

Under The Tuscan Sun.

‘Life Offers You A Thousand Chances. All You Have To Do Is Take One.’ – Under The Tuscan Sun.

I have a little longing for the is’ness of a place that is just a Sydney to Melbourne drive away. I promised her I’d return when it was safe to support her people. With three weeks of school holidays left and weeks of rain forecast we made plan C today, or is it plan Z! We’re going to take a trip South and into one of my favourite member states. I finally committed. It finally felt right.

I’ve been so unsure about how to travel or if we should travel in these surreal summer times. So we sat it out, cancelled all the plans (as many of us have) and decided to wait it out and see. It was the right thing to do and I have no regrets. I didn’t want to contribute to the movement of people at a time when perhaps we shouldn’t move. I needed to wait, to ‘be’ where I was. If we did travel I wanted it to be safely, gently, sustainably and as always slowly. 

Yesterday as I watched my son paddle off into the lake I think I knew deep down it was time to leave for a while. I’m happy pottering but the kids need time off grid, away from the fallback of screen time and into a nature experience where they bank resilience and we bank family stories. We will travel in a way that is mindful and also supportive of communities that need support. I think it matters that those of us who like to explore continue to work for a caring approach to travel. 

We only have such a short time until life changes. Our eldest two are 16 and 14 and now while they’re still family holiday kids I want to soak it up. My husband needs a break from the bedroom office he’s sat in since Feb and will likely sit in until next year. This is our season, this is our time. When school returns the kids will be in the situational noise that is life, and soon after Autumn will arrive to take us into the deep cold.

It feels sad to see my family and friends at home in their second quarantine, it is always hard to watch people doing it tough at home. Aussies here are beginning to feel increasingly like we’re getting locked out of Australia and away from our families for a long time to come. Perhaps the situation here will again take us into some form of quarantine, it’s all so uncertain. So for now I will choose to continue to live in the world alongside the virus, safely and responsibly of course. 

In a few days we’ll make our way and road trip down to a Tuscan farmhouse in the middle of Italy. Off the regular tourist trail and in the middle of two small hill top villages. Next to a national park and far from the coast (by Italian standards), we’ll be in the guts. Further than Melbourne to Syd, maybe Melb to Coff’s.

We’re going to park ourselves for a few weeks to immerse in the local produce, language and is’ness of each other and the Italian warmth. In many ways we will continue to live in the small bubble we are currently in, but where we can also experience the reason we gave up so much to move here. European life. Perhaps I’ll write something longer, perhaps not. I’m excited and I’m nervous, they’re like the same thing sometimes. It feels good to feel, to ponder, to be doesn’t it. 

 

P.s. completely utter shit that I get to write about something so frivolous and luxurious as to making a decision to travel sth. I know. I struggle with sharing travel because of the complete privilege of it. But I guess we’ve been on a journey together this month and this is where I’m at and hopefully I can be a voice for less pillaging type of travel, more soul involvement. 

 

#writingstreak

#day24/31

#finallycommitted

#allroadsleadtoItalyrightnow

 

 

 

 

What Do Tomato Plants And Running Shoes Have In Common?

Back in March I planted a few seeds. There were the vegetable seeds (including these tomatoes) and there was the #runstreak. The streak where I put these runners on each day to run. This weekend I repotted the plants because they had well and truly outgrown their pots. And I hung my shoes up from daily running after 140 days, 20 weeks of streaking. The tomatoes had out grown their pot and I’d outgrown putting my shoes on each day. 

For a long time I knew I needed to keep running. To keep the streak alive. It felt easier to keep going than to stop. And my running was serving a purpose. It was creating a base of fitness and building some fire in my life. It was my quarantine (1.0) saving grace. I ran all the way through quarantine and beyond, coming out the other end with a stronger and more confident mind. I ran myself into a new challenge, the Amsterdam 1/2 marathon. Which, naturally, I’ll run in a school dress for One Girl because that is what I do!

When I look back to my IG post from the time I planted the tomato seeds I read the hint of another seed between the lines. It was the beginning of me starting to consider doing things smaller and in a more focussed way. Of transferring this idea of ‘not having it all’ into all I do. Of doing smaller things well. Not of not dreaming big things but of getting to those dreams in a different way. This is the magic of writing for me. Little thoughts shared aloud with myself. These thoughts sent out into my world for me to notice and work with,

I only hung my shoes for a few days! Today I ran the first run of my 12 week training schedule. I googled one and found one on runners world. I’ve never actually followed a running plan but a schedule seems to be working for me right now. Three runs a week it will take. I have no doubt the Amsterdam 1/2 marathon will be cancelled due to corona. I’ll still run it though. There is a 25km hike through the woods around our village. I’ll run that! In a school dress and I’ll rope the family in to ride along and cheer, document for me and share as I go. Lol. It it will be fun.

‘To pay attention. This is our endless and proper work.’ ~ Mary Oliver. 

This little tale of the tomato plants and the running shoes reminds me how subtle beginnings and endings can sometimes be. How gentle letting go can be. It isn’t always big and scary. Rather that growing into ourselves and tweaking with adjustments is a contant. And not everything needs an ending, sometimes it’s just a shift, a new pot, a more intentional goal or plan. I wonder .. will the repotted tomato plants fruit with me alongside my adjusted running plan?!?

#Day22/31

#writingstreak

#therunninglooksdifferentnow

#ireallylovethiswritingstreak

 

Multi Layer. Is It The New Multi Task.

‘Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable’ ~ Mary Oliver

I’ve deadset found a key to a door. A door into some serious kitchen flow. For a while now I’ve wanted to get back to basics. Into some serious low waste, budget conscious, healthy from scratch eating. We eat well but there is room for more from scratch and less waste. And I think the key for me is layering. The type of layering I’m finding by working through a style of cooking.

Now I’d love to cook a range of cuisines but as a cook my skills are not capable of that. And I am lucky in that I have a partner who can do this. But I do want to be less boring. I want to be able to go to the pantry or fridge and have options. Tasty options. Healthy options. I also have a family of six to feed. I don’t want cooking to be a chore but something more. Something where my creativity and passions are happily at play.

I often think about meal planning and then fall at the first hurdle because getting six cookbooks out is overwhelming. It is not and never will be my style. Pleasing six people is overwhelming with modern cookbook recipes. And we’ve moved and changed so much in the past years that I’ve lost my rhythm in the kitchen and where to go for local ingredients (also there’s the language thing and the hormones, that peri-meno thing never helps). But it’s about stepping into the right door though isn’t it. The one that is built and waiting for you. Your personality, your skills, your interests, your tastes, your style, your confines and basically your timing.

Enter my new kitchen challenge – to cook Roman food. Food that is centuries old. A cuisine that’s often described as peasant food. Highly flavoured, peasant food. Alleluia peasant is the opposite of fancy! Perfect for someone who wants to make beautiful food from scratch without the finicky fuss. Without the need for technical knowledge. This sounds like me. It’s my version of fancy! And this is my time. I’m ready, I need it. So I walked in through the front door, the door that beckoned me. The challenge to cook through the bright red Rome cookbook.

Any cuisine has basics. Herbs, spices, ingredients, pastes, dishes that compliment each other. Take the pesto I made last week on my first cooking day. We had it on crackers and bread. The following day I had it with my egg. Today I added it to a focaccia with leftover roast chicken from last night for the boys for lunch. And tonight the last of the leftovers were added to a pasta for the vegetarian and her vegetarian friend. This is a staple. Easy to make and can also be frozen in ice-cubes and bagged for further use! Pesto chocked full with herbs and veg. Pesto that went four ways, in four meals. Pesto flow.

Last night we ate roast chicken and the bones were added to a stock pot with veggies and brewed today to produce stock. Literally a 5 minute prep and then it sat on the stove brewing without any needs for hours. My eldest son often calls me a witch with my herby salves, so it does suit me to be brewing. A jar for risotto later in the week and the rest frozen in 300ml reusable containers for future use. Boom. Massive saving in buying stock, eating unknown ingredients, food waste and packaging. Kitchen flow.

I did not set out to become a better cook when I started writing this month. But as always when I write daily my world expands, I expand. Perhaps it is because I notice more. Perhaps it is because I get to express my real self so this flow continues in other areas of my life. The key to this door is definitely the honing in, the focusing on what’s important. I have tried to be political in the past with the issues I care about but I’ve found it spirit crushing. I am far better working away in my everyday life to create change and expressing myself from this place.

From the beginning of this writing challenge I’ve really focussed only on what I need to be focussed on. And also by ignoring the doubts when they creep in. Actually stopping to recognise the triggers of these creepers, the thoughts, the people and the habits that contribute to them.  And then I stare them out. I choose excitement over fear, seeing wildflowers rather than things, intuition over the noisy world, embracing flux over stagnation and good busy over idle thinking. I want to be excited about life! I am excited about life. I want to be surprised by what I am capable of finding in myslef. I want cycles of layering. Layering one thing that matters with another thing that matters.  You wouldn’t go out in winter without layers to keep you warm. Why risk wasting life without the ‘good’ layers.

 

#writingstreak

#day21/31

#reallyonly10daystogo

#cookingchallenge

#staringoutthecreepers

 

How Much Will Change In The World Of Travel? Have you?

How much will change in the world of travel? Have you changed? I have noticed a mixed vibe here. Our borders are open in Europe and we have the freedom to travel if we choose. There are colour codes placed on countries and our government has advised they won’t be repatriating citizens if they get stuck. As with our lockdown our government has an expectation that we are intelligent humans who will do the right thing. I guess for me I just don’t feel that I have to travel, also let’s be honest I don’t fall short. Gran Canaria in Feb and Denmark for New Year’s. Travel for me is about getting lost in the experience of all the senses and there’s just no ‘real’ escaping the corona now.  Unless you go wild. 

Over the weekend I donned the mask for the first time. I was at the airport! The airport here is on the train line and functions as more than an airport. I had to get a birthday watch resized. We also had a beer and a pizza while we waited. We were armchair traveller watchers. (Obviously a birthday is an exception for dry July, and maybe a friend’s 50th tonight.) The travellers were mostly business, the push a trolley bag and walk at speed types. There were young people, youngish singles and couples and the odd family, mostly with young kids.

As you know, so far we’ve decided to remain home for summer. We did take a weekend away in the Ardennes the week before school officially ended. It was an easy and safe trip. It felt right for us. We self catered, stayed in a cabin, played tennis alone, hiked, cycled and basically chilled. My conflict with staying home and the thing that pulls me to look for somewhere is this kind of break for the kids. I love getting the kids away and in nature. All of us together. If we had a camper for sure we’d be hiding out somewhere, we’d go wild.

Our friends from Mediterranean countries have all gone home. There are the diehards we need, we must travel types and the let’s take a safe close to home short break types who have left for the summer. I’ve heard of Iceland but mostly it’s Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Spain. Many are driving where possible. Going home was not an option for us. Our Island home is somewhat closed. Technically we could have gone if we’d been prepared to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks. Turns out that wasn’t really safe. Basically it all seemed too hard. And yet it is a paradox because for me the really hard thing is being away from my family for so long. So hard or harder. We went with what felt right which was not to travel. It was never a really hard choice, just the reality is hard.

I think about a post pandemic travel world. I must admit my desire to fly less in response to global warming is real. But now I wonder if what always felt safe will also have changed. I love Asia and would love to travel Vietnam. I’m not sure I will in a hurry. Even though they have managed the Corona well, I wonder about being so far from home in this new normal. And new it is. There is no return to ‘normal’.  Will I feel as carefree as I once did about going anywhere. I went to Thailand 8 weeks pregnant with my fourth child. I’d had a miscarriage before so I knew that could happen but I just didn’t have any fear of things not working out. Perhaps it was an age thing. Or perhaps this massive life event really takes us into our fragility. 

The travellers at the airport appeared carefree. Most wearing a mask, some removing as soon as they were allowed. This was the same as the train. It’s only mandatory on the train. I wondered if travel is one of those things that is simply about getting back on the horse? The supermarket was like that for me. I didn’t go for 7 odd weeks. Not for fear of getting the virus but the vibe was weird. In the week before quarantine was coming I just couldn’t stand the fear driven anger and rush. So I stayed away. 

As long as we move safely I see the importance of creating income for small businesses. Most people here are going close to home. International travel here is like interstate travel in Australia and often even closer. I see the real need for some people to take a break to be nearer (at a distance) to people. I understand people returning home when you are isolated in a country that is not your own. I’m just not ready to join yet.

I’m definitely getting intentional about how travel will look for us in the future. We will travel again and embrace the wild travel we love. And I will save my carbon points to fly home – I need and my kids need to stay connected with our Island home. My confidence and desire for world travel may be changed though. I’ve never subscribed to a bucket list as I don’t want to HAVE to do something at any cost. Of course though there  are many places I would have liked to visit that I now may never. And that seems blissfully ok.

 

 

#writingstreak

#day17/31

#onthehomerun

#ponderingaloud

#tavel

 

 

 

 

What’s In A Challenge?

What’s in a challenge? Quite a lot for me it appears! It’s a way to create the time to fit a new thing (often a habit) into my life. It is a way to begin from where I am, rather than feel overwhelmed with where I want to be. It’s a manageable way to move, to get somewhere. And often the challenge is the gateway to something bigger, greater. 

I’ve done a few challenges over the past five years. All of them have improved some part my life, brought about positive change or led me somewhere new. I once bought nothing new for a year, quit sugar for 8 weeks, got our possessions down to a suitcase each (and about 3 x 3 metres of packed stuff), walked 800kms to raise enough money to educate 28 girls. Yep and there have been more, these are just some of the memorable ones! 

Mostly, I set a challenge that matches where I am in life. Where the flow needs to go. This year I needed to put some energy into my health. I was pretty low on energy and motivation. Also on inspiration and confidence. I added some small group training to my yoga but the big one that steered my life back on course was my run streak. My personal challenge. 

Running everyday has been a way back to energy, motivation, confidence and inspiration for me. I’ve been doing it for 20 weeks and I feel the river is about to turn. Soon I won’t run every day because I need to get a bit more intentional with my running. I’ve committed to a half marathon to raise money for One Girl. I’ve also started cycling and there is only so much a girl can do! 

Today I wrote up a 15 week plan for my running training. I added a plan for my writing streak. This is day 15 of a month long writing streak and day 135 of running every day. Is it leading to anything? Yes it is. The run steak led to a stronger body that I could commit to a bigger challenge and a stronger mind that focussed me on my writing. Writing each day has proved to me that I can. More than that it’s opened up a way for me to complete my manuscript. I will write this story up later this month, it’s still evolving. 

And then I thought about another habit I really need to improve. Perhaps I could set myself a challenge for that. So I did. I added a drink three water bottles of water challenge to my day. I really do need to drink water, I think it will change my life! And then because I’m improving my capacity to get shit done I added a plan to get shit done. I’ll add to that the each week.

It’s weird isn’t it how sometimes we are ready and able to take on new things. For sure though we can’t get anything new done or add to our lives without first letting something else go. And for sure we need to start where we are with small steps, with an action. I enjoy a lot of spontaneous time so I’ll never schedule myself silly, but if I am to take a step up with my running and writing some intention and focus is required. Imagine what can happen with 15 focussed weeks! Would you dare for a small thing that would change your life?!

 

#writingstreak

#day 15/31

#everystepleadssomewhere