Tag Archives: Motherhood

Choose an action and run with it.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 15/28

Today’s recipe: A salad’ey vegetabl’ey cous cous!

From the outside it may look like my life has changed dramatically over the years but my life has always looked like change. I hiked mountains at thirteen in Indonesia as a girl guide, lived in the Whitsunday Islands, Melbourne and Perth in my 20s, moved to Europe in my 30s, Sydney in my 40s and now Europe again. I’ve been an Island hostess, a high school teacher and a midwife. I’m born from wandering stock you see. A migrant grandad who jumped on a ship in 1956 with his wife and nine kids to find a life in Australia where he could farm. And a mother (one of 13) who boarded a ship, alone, bound for Australia at the age of 23 to learn English.

I move but I don’t move to find greener grass I’m just wired to explore. The green grass can only be found in our everyday and wherever I am that’s what I’m cultivating. I don’t see moving as being particularly brave either. Let’s face it moving countries, going on adventures, starting fresh that is my modus operandi. I also married a fellow seeker of world adventures and along the way we’ve paved careers and lives that have enabled us to do it (and the privilege of dual citizenship, education…middle class). Nope brave to me is to find yourself in the present day. Standing for what matters to you. And most of my friends that I hold so dearly are actually not world movers but people who do just that … stand bravely wherever they are!

One thing that’s guaranteed with every move (and each life transition) is the period of feeling unsettled. The time where I reach in and out of new things to finds what fits, to find the every day spark feeling. The present day. It’s not always easy starting fresh, always my identity comes into question. Over the years I’ve gotten better at it. After the honeymoon period I know I have to do some work and find what I need to create a life with meaning.

While my life has me moving into different settings even if yours doesn’t I’m sure we share those similar feelings of needing to readjust sometimes. One thing I loved on the camino was this feeling of don’t leave for tomorrow what you can get done today. We walked the extra 3kms if we had the energy. As we arrived we showered, washed our clothes, ate and debriefed the day. The basics. I’ve been applying this idea to my days during this 28 days of motion project. Want to know what I am finding? Connection and balance.

The more I stop putting things off … preparing dinner earlier, putting my shoes on and moving, admin tasks, hard conversations, setting stronger boundaries in parenting (even when that makes me different) and accepting what I need to be honest about – the stronger I get, the more I see and the closer I get to the people in my life.

I think balance is one of those basic maths problems. Yes, we can argue that none of us can have it … but at what point does remaining unbalanced and not taking uncomfortable action cause a tipping point? I’d prefer to seek a balanced, honest life even if it isn’t a ‘trendy’ one. It doesn’t mean that on any given day everything is in order – no, that’s perfection and also unbalanced. It means not putting off the basics because if I do it will come back and bite later. It’s about making choices about what matters most and being guided by that.

‘As unique as we all are, an awful lot of us want the same things. We want to shake up our current less-than-fulfilling lives. We want to be happier, more loving, forgiving and connected with the people around us.’ ~Brene Brown

So when things aren’t feeling calm and connected or if they’re just too heavy I run with an action. In the current moment in time what is the most basic need? What do I need to add to balance the scales? Then usually what needs subtracting becomes obvious. In fact a reordering of priorities and actions almost certainly begins to unfold. A load of people on the camino drop weight from their packs along the way … they are carrying too much. Subtracting is my maths skill. Adding has become my challenge. And because I play with action hopefully you won’t see me talking or writing about the same thing next year or the year after. It is only by taking action that we can truly move forward … just like the camino, as we walked forward and into Santiago. I just can’t help myself with the camino references ;).

Recipe: A salad’ey vegetable’ey cous cous

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Cous cous
  • Rocket
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • A Red & Yellow Capsicum (pepper)
  • Carrot
  • Garlic
  • Red Onion
  • Basil

How we cooked it:

Cook cous cous according to packet instructions then set aside in a large bowl to cool.

In a large pan fry some chopped carrot and red onion in a little olive oil on med to high heat, after a few minutes add some crushed garlic and chopped red and yellow capsicum (peppers). Fry for another 4 mins then put on a lid, lower heat to medium and cook for 5 mins.

Meanwhile halve some cherry tomatoes and tear up some basil and add to the cous cous. Make a vinaigrette with equal parts olive oil and white wine vinegar and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. It’s important that the vinaigrette is more tangy than what you’d usually put on a salad.

Remove the vegetables from the heat and add too the cous cous but don’t stir through. Allow everything to cool to room temperature. Before serving, add a few handfuls of rocket and the vinaigrette and mix it all together. Works best if you use your hands.

You can substitute vegetables such as broccoli, snow peas, sugar snaps, corn kernels, or aubergine, but it works best if you always have some capsicum, and always include the red onion. Cheeses such as Persian feta, haloumi or Parmesan can be added. Avoid mushrooms.

You could also use quinoa in place of cous cous. Just cook it a bit further ahead of time and spread it out on a large platter to cool and most importantly dry out. If it’s holding too much water the salad will taste bland.

We served ours with salmon but you can choose any accompaniment. In winter we often do it with home made meat balls in a tomato passata sauce.

Today I put my trail runners on for the first time in ages … and slowly as I stopped to photograph the feathers I realised that this motion project will lead to the next. That’s the principal of motion in action.

Buen Camino,

Fran X

The joy that goes hand in hand with letting a day unfold in it own way, without pushing into it.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 5/28

Today’s recipe: Zucchini fritters with Tzatziki.

I’m sure if I hadn’t committed to documenting this creative living project I would have dropped my bundle on my bike/cooking adventures today. With a head cold brewing and a good three hours wasted at the hairdresser – the shades of purple in my hair that needed adjusting. ‘It’s the matte finish’ she kept repeating … ‘um I hear you but ‘matte’ isn’t a colour and I’m sure I didn’t ask for this’. Just gently wake the colour I had said. What I really wanted was a symbolic chop. I’m shedding you see and nothing says that more than getting a good few inches lopped off.

If I was a collector of stuff I’d probably be rummaging through drawers and filling bags and boxes but I’ve been there. The stuff I’m interested in decluttering are related to the stories I play in my head and the habits I want to improve. The camino didn’t show me what simple living is, it reminded me of how much I value it. How imperative it is to honest grounding.

After a siesta to try and sleep off this cold I was standing in the kitchen a bit motionless. I wasn’t even thinking about what recipe I’d try later I was simply perplexed about lunch! The temptation was Vegemite on toast. Nothing wrong with that of course except it’s not part of the fresh food story I’m writing for myself this month. As the toast popped I decided to layer my bread with healthy tastes and together with my lemon kefir (the pro-biotic drink I’m having daily) I sat in the warmth of the sun. The fact that I’m back on the kefir after months of thinking about it, is goodness in itself. It’s hard to put into words what happened out there in the sun. But basically, it was me choosing to remain accountable to this project (forward motion?) … to myself, and to be kind to myself. Something I can struggle with in certain areas.

And from there … today’s story wrote itself. Some panadol helped ;). I decided not to work on the words I’d written this morning (in the hairdresser’s chair) and keep today’s post simple. I love what I’m working on but it’s more of a ‘stretch my writerly ability’ type piece so it will need more energy. Creative living is only possible with the ability to adapt and be flexible. I can’t give anymore to the story I started writing earlier in the day but I can write this new one that unfolded and keep myself accountable to this 28 day adventure and writing challenge. Today’s story, where somedays we have to choose to do things differently to meet what’s thrown at us.

So it wasn’t a nourishment bowl it was a tasty avocado, tuna and cheese melt for lunch … seriously how good is a melt! It was me being kind to myself. It was choosing a siesta instead of going out hiking. And that is how we can change our story. After some time in the sun and in response to showing myself the gentleness my body was asking for my inspiration returned. Something simple … I could do that. And the leftover zucchini’s in the fridge became fritters.

Zucchini fritters with home made Tzatziki.

Fritters:

  • 600 grams of shredded zucchini
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 gloved garlic shredded
  • Olive oil

How I do them:

Pop the zucchini in a colander and add a small amount of salt (or none) to mix. Rest for 10 minutes.

In a bowl add the zucchini after squeezing out the excess water (very important). Add flour, garlic, egg, parmesan and pepper to season. Mix by hand.

Cook small patties in the fry pan in olive oil.

I pop them in the oven on a tray after I’ve fried them to cook through otherwise they can taste a bit raw.

Variations: I wasn’t in the head space but for sure add extras – carrot, corn … the perfect veggie burgers. Easy to freeze and a healthy grab for lunch with a bit of rocket lunch.

Tzatziki:

Blitz some dill, cucumber and Greek yoghurt with a squeeze of lemon juice.

After our fritter snacks while my youngest was struggling to draw a picture he needed for his teacher I came up with an idea! The panadol had fully kicked in so a bike adventure for inspiration was needed … for all of us. Perhaps it’s having visited the gardens in St Remy last year where Van Gogh had painted one of my favourite pictures, or the Monet that hangs in the Tate modern we visited over Easter but I’d decided he needed a landscape. He needed a picture and colours in his mind for inspiration. And I knew just the place.

The local woods also have farmland dispersed throughout it. It’s why I often come across cattle, horses and goats on my walks. Right now there are fields of wheat and corn. Imagine going a whole season and not playing amongst the crops! Lucky we don’t have snakes here.

There was bike swapping, hide and seek playing, stone throwing and wild laughing. The birds were singing and I promised them the kids would be back soon. These long summer nights are begging for these kinds of memories to be made amongst them.

I’m high giving myself for finding all the things I needed in today to get to this point of the day. The cycling, the food, the adventuring and the writing. For creating the space to act on the stuff I realised I needed when I was on the camino. And all the joy that went hand in hand with letting a day unfold in it own way without pushing into it.

Hope yours is a good one.

Buen Camino,

Fran 😘

Life is like a Mountain Range. Peaks, Ridges, Testy Ascents and Descents, A Pass and the Joy of the Plateaus and Valleys.

My husband once said to me that it doesn’t matter that we get older, or, that a year passes as long as we can look back and see that it mattered. Life doesn’t have to be about achieving and accumulating big notable things…just that it mattered, to you, however that looks.

Just like a Mountain range, each year also has different topography. We can count on peaks, valleys, ridges, tricky climbing, plateaus and a pass. How we take the pass depends on how we wander through the year.

We can take a direct route and feel satisfied (if we’re lucky) but most of us come up against some hard ascents or descents (sometimes we’ve been there before and we didn’t quite make it or learn from it that time, we’re not always ready). If we give the time required to make those ascents and descents we will often be rewarded with peaks, a beautiful valley or a summit. The beautiful moment of a summit is important to acknowledge and worthy of celebration, of course, but, it is brief in the scheme of a year and a mountain.

We can count on with certainty that we will always need to begin walking again. We can never live in the peaks or on the summit. I’d never sleep if I was always chasing a summit or the high peaks. I do like excitement though so I’ll take the everyday peaks, some bigger than others but all meaningful if I notice them. Growth and a sustainable everyday life doesn’t happen at the top, it’s on the path towards those higher peaks and summits…that is where the real beauty is. It’s where contentment lives.

‘Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.’ – James Joyce

Of course we need to work, go to school and support our lives but we can do that with passion if we live passionate lives. To FEEL passion is to know what matters to us and to prioritise it. To dance around the lounge room, hike in the forest, swim in the ocean, cook with love, write words, grow things, meet interesting people, love people, make things, draw things, have deep conversations and to feel connected with life, with yourself. It is to have a beautiful romance with life. That’s the kind of passion that matters to me. To value it above all and to let go of what is extraneous.

I write this final blog post for the year from the plateau of a beautiful mountain in a country that ironically has no mountains. I’m sitting here for the moment as I pass through another year. I feel satisfied with all the discomfort I’ve explored, the passion I’ve given into, the summit of arriving at a destination, of starting again, the incredible achievements, the mistakes I’ve made (some repeated and finally learnt), the peaks from all the good people in my life, the conversations I’ve had, of nature doing its thing and the intensely wonderful experiences that I’ve encountered along my path this year.

The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. ~ W. B. Yeats.

There’s a lot of talk about self care around the place but the greatest act of self care I think we can give ourselves is simply the space to be. In that space we are reminded of how to give to what we know is right, to feel all the feelings, to love truly – with time and presence. To put our soul ahead of our ego. To know when enough is enough, from how we use our time, to who we give it too, in taking only what we need and to contribute honestly.

As we draw closer to Christmas the the noise should soften. It’s a season to take the breaths we need. To appreciate each other and to go inward as we begin our transition into the new year and consider how we want it to look. The time to put it out there, to open up our path and to give ourselves the space to notice which way the river is flowing. That way we can ask ourselves the question ‘is the river flowing in the right direction’? It’s from there we can go forward.

I wish you all a beautiful Christmas and look forward to climbing mountains and swimming in the river of life with you all in 2018.

F x

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P.S. Sometimes I go on a you tube song journey. I load a favourite (usually Bernard Fanning) and then I let the playlist play out. At the end of my post these were playing. I haven’t heard them for ages but I don’t mind a trip down memory lane.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here.

Support crews are everything. A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:>

                  

Camino Frances 2018 for One Girl – 769kms and 30’ish nights. Why?

In 2018 I am going to hike the 769 kms of the Camino Frances. I know what you’re thinking – but nope, it’s  not because it’s named Frances. Although I do quite like that coincidence.

It’s because one day at the end of 2016 my (then) 10 year old daughter Zoë and I sat in the audience of a presentation from Morgan Koegal, CEO of One Girl at the Travel Play Live/She Went Wild Expo and she said,

‘when something feels wrong in your gut – do something about it’.

So we did.

In a concentrated two-week school raffle with ethical and sustainable prizes we raised enough money to educate 8 girls for a year.

It was the end of the school year, the lead in time was short and we were absolutely blown away by the kindness and generous spirit of our sponsors, community, family and friends.

I watched in awe and stood beside my ‘one girl’, who, together with her friends, stood up for girls who don’t share the same privilege and freedom. I learnt something from those 10 year olds.

I learnt that being paralysed by my own guilt of privilege and fear of standing up, of speaking up doesn’t sit right in my gut anymore.

So, I needed to find a way that that I could stand up, a way to use my voice. Eventually, after asking myself a lot of questions and trying a few things on for size this project was born.

The Camino Frances 2018. I’m taking the Way of St. James, and I’m taking it on for One Girl.

I’ll start at the base of the Pyrenees in the French medieval town of St Jean-Pied-du-Port in April 2018 and end in the Spanish town of Santiago de Compostella sometime in May 2018.

I’ll share it – the lead up, the learning to create a project, the good bits, the fellow pilgrims I meet on the trail, the hard stuff and I promise – not the gross stuff. No one wants to see blistered feet.

Ok, just quietly, lean in because I’m whispering here – ‘I think I’ll hike the extra 121kms to Finisterre to take a soak in the ocean, the most westerly point of Spain. That truly does seem like a beautiful way to honour the 769kms, don’t you think? ‘

Traditionally, pilgrims took the route for religious reasons and now as Leslie Gilmour (pilgrim and writer) says ‘modern Pilgrimages seem to be a lot less about religion and more about peace, finding something in life, a time to think, and for some a challenge.’

I’m a modern pilgrim. For me it’s the challenge, the adventure.

I have a great love of hiking. Not only the physical and mental challenge but also the spirituality and clarity that comes from the silence, movement and the freedom (head-space) of walking outdoors.

More that that I have a hunger to find a way to contribute creatively. To combine my love of adventure with charity and encourage others to get ‘busy’ with the good stuff like getting on the trail.

I want to share a different story about travel, to give a shit about something bigger than my discomfort and to show my kids that standing for something matters.

My pilgrimage has already started. Having recently taken on the role of  Ambassador for One Girl, I am writing a new story.

A story of how I contribute to the online space and to answer the call of my gut. Girls being denied an opportunity to go to school, simply because they are born a girl – that’s why.

BECAUSE for these girls – Education changes everything.

‘A girl’s income increases by at least 10% for every year she stays in school. She’ll get married later and have a smaller, healthier family when she’s ready. Her health, economic status, and future family all benefit.’ – One Girl.

So if your gut doesn’t feel right, together we can create a new story for the girls of Sierra Leone and Uganda. Come along and let’s see what we can do with a gut feeling.

 

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project. 

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here. Support crews are everything.

A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

Lovely, kind readers – I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors: