2015, July 27

Banning “I can’t” from my lexicon

Last week in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly, the assignment was to Ban “I can’t” from our lexicon. As j said: “I can’t” is easy to say and rarely true. Or, if it is true, it’s only half the story (and I would argue it’s not the most interesting or important half). It leaves off where the real you begins, the one who is afraid of being imperfect, the one who’s been hurt and doesn’t want to get hurt again, the one who struggles with boundaries, or priorities, or confidence. Whatever the reasons you say, “I can’t” (and we all do), this week will be a challenge; you’ll have to figure out a different way to say what you want to say: “I don’t want to,” or “I’m not interested,” or “I’m not ready yet.” 

It didn’t turn out to be the challenge I thought it might be. Apparently I like explaining myself and being as clear as possible ;)
Instead of saying “I can’t”, I said the truth: “I don’t like peanuts”, “I’m reading, so maybe later”, “I’m unsure about it”, “I don’t like talking on the phone”, “I have a meeting in ten minutes”, “I don’t know how to do this, will you help me?”, “Having the AC below 21C is bad for me” and “I’ll see you tomorrow, instead.”

What I noticed is that after clearly stating what you’re feeling or the reason you don’t want to do something or try something, people might follow up and when that happens, fun and meaningful conversations arise as a product of it. Of course this wasn’t always the case, but I do like the chances better than if I’d be saying a flat out “No” or “I can’t”.

The only sentence I left and used “I can’t” in?
It was: I can’t wait! As in, “I can’t wait to see you again”, “I can’t wait to get home”, “I can’t wait for you to arrive”, “I can’t wait to have dinner and climb into bed” and “I can’t wait to see London again”.

The assignment for week 30 is to Try Something New Every Day. I like this idea! And I’m already wondering what to try over the course of this week.
Here’s what j says about this assignment, in the 52-52 guide: “Here’s what I know about trying something new, no matter what it is: you are, in that moment of experimentation and adventure, absolutely present. It’s true whether you’re bungee jumping, or learning to swim, or writing your first poem, or running your first marathon, or role playing with your lover, or tasting for the first time chocolate covered insects. It’s true whether you love or hate the new thing you try.”

How was your week? Did you manage to ban “I can’t” from your lexicon? How easy was it, or did you have a hard time with this assignment? And, were there many thing you couldn’t wait for?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, July 20

Unplug

The assignment for last week in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly was to Unplug. It was such a good reminder!
In today’s world, it’s so easy to feel that one needs to keep up constantly with text messages, e-mails, Instagram and other social media since we are inundated by information at all times. And it’s good to separate from that!

Even though I couldn’t exactly unplug for good, given that my work requires a turned on laptop, I did my best to keep my online presence, well… online, only during work hours this week. I limited the times I checked FB, Twitter or my e-mail and what ever else after I got home. The most I “used” my laptop at home was to watch an episode or two of “Murder, she wrote” with my boyfriend before going to bed.

A friend of mine, really wisely might I add, reserves time for herself in the morning. She’s definitely a morning person, unlike me. Ever since she started working after college, she has seen it as “her time”. I love that phrasing!
For her, mornings are this cushion of time where she doesn’t have any distractions, and she wakes up really early so that she can focus on the things she loves. She puts on her makeup, does her hair and cooks herself breakfast. She enjoys her breakfast at her little coffee table set up on the balcony, people watching.
After she’s done with all of this, she grabs the remainder of her coffee, gets cozy on the couch and reads a book.
And what I love most about her morning ritual? All the while, her phone is turned off! It’s her way of making sure she has no outside distractions, no temptation to go online, no looking at any social media. It’s her time to disconnect, to unplug every single day.
By the time she turns her phone back on, she’s feeling ready to go, energized and content because she got her me-time in and no matter how the day turns out by night time, she has had a really awesome start.

If you’re not a morning person either, set aside some time in the evening, or do what my friend j does and “steal some time”. She reminded me this week, that even on the busiest days, there are pockets of time that suddenly become available. So, she highly recommends this method for basically anything, but especially for filling one’s soul.

Using her method, last week I read for 20 min while waiting for a friend to arrive, called my grandmother on my father’s side while waiting for the BF after work, did some mid-week cleaning and tidying up, read a book before bed since my boyfriend fell asleep early, took my break every day at work instead of cutting it short or working through lunch and enjoyed meaningful conversations with my friend from work, I enjoyed a back massage, worked out a little, and played and cuddled with Pixel.
I also stayed offline for most of the day on Saturday and Sunday. I wrote five love letters (you’re not too late if you want to join in), did some journaling which I’ve been neglecting, and wrote this blog post with my internet connection turned off.

For me, the weekend is that time when I do the most things which bring me joy.
On Saturdays, my boyfriend usually goes to help his dad with groceries shopping and etc., so I stay at home and do some cleaning and some cooking. You probably know by now that these activities really help me relax (I’m definitely that person who starts de-cluttering at 10pm, if annoyed for some reason), but I also try and add in some reading and writing into my Saturday or Sunday mornings. I have always found writing to be very therapeutic for me, I can release what ever it is that I am feeling, or completely dive into a different world while reading a book I love.
Sundays are usually reserved for us-time with my boyfriend. We cook together, or watch a movie, play with Pixel, go for walks and sometimes meet up with friends. It’s the most chill-paced day we both have in the week and enjoy each other’s company to the fullest. Doing what I love over the weekend really refreshes me for the week ahead.

I think that it’s important to do the things we love, no matter what time of the day it is. It makes a huge difference in one’s overall fulfillment and overall joy in life!

For week 29 the assignment is to Ban “I can’t” from your lexicon.
I really love the way j has phrased it in the 52-52 guide, so I’ll share an excerpt: “I can’t” is easy to say and rarely true. Or, if it is true, it’s only half the story (and I would argue it’s not the most interesting or important half). It leaves off where the real you begins, the one who is afraid of being imperfect, the one who’s been hurt and doesn’t want to get hurt again, the one who struggles with boundaries, or priorities, or confidence. Whatever the reasons you say, “I can’t” (and we all do), this week will be a challenge; you’ll have to figure out a different way to say what you want to say: “I don’t want to,” or “I’m not interested,” or “I’m not ready yet.” 

How was your week? Did you unplug? Do you regularly have time in a day set aside to just be present and do something you love which doesn’t involve having an internet connection or even a turned on phone?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, July 13

Say Yes!

Last week’s assignment in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly was to Say Yes. Yes to an outing even when you feel like you’d rather go straight home after work, to helping someone with what will take you ten to fifteen minutes instead of the hour it might take them, or most especially say yes to that wild, inadvisable dream you have.
And as j explained it in the 52-52 guide, the most important thing during this week and this exercise is to “question every no. Understand where it comes from. Understand your reasons. If they’re sound, go ahead. If they’re based in fear, stop. Take a deep breath.” and say Yes.

Lately, I like the fact that I can say No more easily. Sure there are still obligations I can’t get out of, or the usual compromises that every relationship has, be that with either family, romantic or with friends, but it has gotten easier to say No when I don’t want to do something, or go somewhere.

I think that it’s important to know when to say Yes or No, because if we just mindlessly said No to everything, or Yes to everything our lives wouldn’t have too much meaning… (like in that movie where the guy says Yes to everything and things go well for him, but then ends up realizing that too much of a good thing can be bad, too.)

Last week I’ve said Yes to a couple of things and realized that I’ve said No to more things. However, the things I said No to, have freed up time for me to rest over the weekend.
I listened to my tired, achy body and decided to work from home on Thursday and Friday, felt like cooking and experimenting with new recipes so I baked some Apple Crisp and made yummy Squash Fritters, and one evening when the BF came home later instead of watching a movie or getting lost online, I read a book.
We went to a house warming party we couldn’t get out of, but didn’t stay too long, so we could get up earlier and go out to a friend’s cabin in the mountains nearby. We had a lovely walk, some yummy grilled food and just plain had fun.

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I guess by saying No to several things over the course of the week, I actually said a silent Yes to others.

For week 28, the assignment is to Unplug. 
j says, we try the following: “This week, take a hiatus. Turn off your computer, your television, your game consoles. Fill your time with things that don’t require an outlet. Plug yourself into your physical life; engage all your senses for a day. Or seven. Make some space, then fill it with the real, 3-D you.”
And while I can’t exactly unplug for good, given that my work requires a turned on laptop, I will do my best to keep my online presence, well… online, only during work hours this week and limit the times I check FB, Twitter or my e-mails and what ever else. Maybe even go for walks, or jogging after work?
I’ll try to read, and play and get out of the house more, and, every day this week I will take my one hour lunch break (and maybe go for a walk, when the weather is cooperating) instead of working through lunch.

How was your week? Did you say Yes to many things? Or have you also found that by saying No to the things you didn’t feel like doing, you made more time and had more energy for the things you really wanted to do?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, July 6

Don’t ride anyone else’s rollercoaster

The assignment for last week in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly, was to keep ourselves in check and Don’t ride on anyone else’s rollercoaster.
Like I said in my last blog post as well, I think that we all do it, ride on someone else’s rollercoaster, more than we should. Or at least, I know I do. And it is time to correct that.
Even when you are  totally right to want to state your case, and believe that when you do the other people involved will act like sane, rational people – the moment they respond like spoiled brats, get off their rollercoaster and enjoy your own ride.

While being conscious of not getting on and riding other people’s rollercoasters, I remembered the following quote:
“How often do you let other people’s nonsense change your mood? Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss, or an insensitive employee ruin your day? Unless you’re the Terminator, you’re probably set back on your heels. However, the mark of your success is how quickly you can refocus on what’s important in your life.” by David J. Pollay, author of The Law of the Garbage Truck.
So this past week, I payed more attention to both strangers and those close to me.

With the people I know personally, when a rollercoaster-jumping situation appeared, I focused and thought about times when I reacted inappropriately and thought what might be going on in their personal lives to make them react rudely. It wasn’t easy(!), but I tried to have more compassion towards those who were dumping their frustrations on me, probably unknowingly.

I kept my cool and responded politely. I kept in mind that I am in control of my responses to how others treat me, that I am the one who can let people ruin my days, and this helped me have happier days. I kept a smile on my face, stayed on the high road and didn’t get on anyone’s rollercoaster, or at the very least got off the rollercoaster quickly.

The assignment for week 27 is to Say Yes! To an outing even when you feel like you’d rather go straight home after work, to helping someone with what will take you ten to fifteen minutes instead of the hour it might take them, or most especially say yes to that wild, inadvisable dream you have. 
And as j explained it in the 52-52 guide, the most important thing during this week and this exercise is to “question every no. Understand where it comes from. Understand your reasons. If they’re sound, go ahead. If they’re based in fear, stop. Take a deep breath.” and say Yes.

How was your week? Did you manage to keep yourself from riding other people’s rollercoasters? Or did you cave in and felt miserable while trying to keep your own sanity? Did you remember that you are the one who can let others ruin your day, or keep them from doing so?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, June 29

Organizing something, or seven somethings

This past week, the assignment in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly was to Organize something, or seven somethings. And I took it very seriously.

I do love organizing, and even though I finished my Spring-cleaning-in-the-middle-of-Summer two weeks ago, there were still things I wanted to better organize. So here’s what my week of organizing looked like:

  1. I organized our closet (in three rounds), because I brought home clean clothes from my mom and after putting them away, figured the rest could use a little tidying up.
  2. Took the BF’s ties and sorted them into “Nice, “Okay” and “No way in hell” categories, and tied each one, placing them neatly back onto two hangers so they’re not all crowded onto just the one.
  3. I folded up his shirts because he doesn’t really wear shirts that often, and when he does he irons them before wearing anyway, so now they don’t occupy space on hangers unnecessarily.​
  4. This led me to organizing my own shirts, since there was all that free space to play with. After it was all done, I took all the left over hangers and placed them in a bag, then put them away.
  5. At my mom’s, I sorted and put away stuff I hadn’t even looked at since packing them up before the remodeling last year. It’s funny how easy it was now to get rid of the stuff I didn’t need from those boxes. Out of sight, out of mind, for sure.
  6. Still at my mom’s, I rearranged the plants on the window sills. I decided to also do some “gardening” (re-potting, clearing off leaves, etc.) so this took most of my Saturday to tackle, but I bet the plants will be prettier and happier now.
  7. And last but not least, I wrapped a box in X-Mas paper, and placed in it all the Christmas decoration we had in our apartment (which I took home to my mom’s because of the lack of storage space here, and was storing them there on top of my desk of all places)… I wonder why it took me 6 months worth of procrastination before finally putting that stuff away in less than half an hour?

The assignment for week 26 is, Don’t ride on anyone else’s rollercoaster.
In the 52-52 guide, j describes it this way:
“Don’t get on anyone else’s rollercoaster. If you’re the target of someone else’s crazy, don’t engage. If you’re the hand someone’s trying to grab, stand still, let them settle down and come to you; don’t feed the crazy by jumping onboard. Mark your sanity boundaries and stand firm.”

I think we all do it, ride on someone else’s rollercoaster, more than we should. So even when you are  totally right to want to state your case, and believe that when you do the other people involved will act like sane, rational people – the moment they respond like spoiled brats, get off their rollercoaster and enjoy your own ride.

How was your week? Did you organize something? Or did you organize seven somethings, same as I? Do you feel lighter now?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

 

2015, June 26

Recipe of the Month: Coconut Heaven

It’s been a long time since I posted a Recipe of the Month bog post, but let’s correct that right now, shall we?

You might remember my Easy Pumpkin Sheet Cake recipe from a few years back. Well, I still bake that, in all sorts of variations, depending on the season. Last week, I tried it with coconut, and it tasted heavenly!

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Coconut Heaven

For the sheet cake:
2 mugs flour
1 mug sugar
2 eggs
2-3 table spoons vanilla extract
1 pack baking powder (10 grams)
half a teaspoon salt
5 table spoons oil
1 mug Coconut milk

Use the same mug (250 grams or more) all throughout baking!

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
Break the eggs into the mug, add the 5 spoons of oil, mix, then pour the coconut milk over it to fill the mug. Gently stir, then add it to the rest of the ingredients in your bowl and mix well. Stir in the rest of the coconut milk. (You may need to add a bit more milk than just 1 mug, depends on the flour and sugar you’re using).

Bake in preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes on medium temperature (which depends a lot on your oven, it should be about 200-250 on an electric oven).

For the syrup:
150 grams butter
30 grams cocoa or dark chocolate
200 grams sugar
10 tablespoons milk
rum essence – optional
coconut shavings

Heat up the butter over Bain-Marie, add in the cocoa, sugar and milk while stirring continuously. Keep stirring until everything is melted and the syrup is at a smooth consistency.

“Assembling”:
Once the sheet cake has cooled, cut off the edges, and cut the rest up into squares to your liking.
Take each square and roll it in the chocolate syrup, and then in coconut shavings to cover them evenly.

Bon appétit! ;)

 

2015, June 22

Letting go, and doing what I believe

For week 23, the assignment in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly, was to Let go, deeply.
Truth be told, and proven by the fact that I had no blog post up last week, I have a hard time letting go of stuff. In my previous post I said how lately, I’ve had so much on my plate, and so much worry overall, that this assignment will either come in very handy, or make me feel like I failed if I can’t fully let go… I hoped it’d be the first.
But that didn’t really happen before my second go at it this past week.

Reading a friend’s e-mail on Monday really helped me see that I was going about this from the wrong angle, and that I could be much better at it if I re-framed how I think of things.
She talked about how at one point in time she was engaged in what she felt was an unequal relationship with a longtime friend. She was sometimes accepting, sometimes felt angry, sometimes mourned something special that wasn’t a part of her life anymore. And, the truth is, this is one of my biggest issues lately, so her e-mail resonated with me in a way that nothing else has when thinking or talking about this.
My friend resolved this issue when she decided to let go. To let go of her own expectations around that friendship, and that way she didn’t have to let go of her friend, or the friendship itself.

This is something I tried my best to do this week. To let go, deeply.

There are a few relationships which chronologically frustrate me, and leave me feeling small or disappointed. Old friendships where we make plans to go out for weeks in advance because something always comes up.
And if we go out I feel like I’m just tagging along, or like I am kept out of the loop for the sole reason that in 99% of the time I don’t share my writer’s Facebook account and previously existing, real-life friendships. I recall my friends talking about some detail of their lives and asking when that happened, only to get the “Oh, you don’t have Facebook, so you don’t know” response. I didn’t get up and walk out right then and there, only out of respect for our long time friendship.
Now, I’m thinking that I don’t want to give up on the friendships altogether, but I don’t want to feel like this anymore, either. So, I’ll let go of my expectations from said friendships and call it a day.
This past week, I made a point of this and let go of the expectations that my friend should call me when school finishes as she said she would, or that my other friend reach out when she got back from her trip as she told me before leaving. I haven’t heard from either of them.
But I let go of these expectations, and I feel so much better this way. I did look forward to talking to them, but after letting go of my expectations, it didn’t bother me. I think this is one of the best decisions, and one of the most powerful acts of self-love I made so far this year!

For week 24, the assignment was to Do what we believe. And I have to tell you, it was a little bit harder than I expected. However, this assignment somehow resonated with me, backwards. It made me really think of my life and actions.
Because, even though I believe in leading a life where love is my religion, I sometimes do things that I’m not proud of. For example, I dislike gossip, yet I sometimes do it when I’m upset over something/someone instead of being more accepting.  I believe in leading a healthy life, yet I usually skip breakfast and sometimes have unhealthy food. I believe in supporting local businesses, but in this day and age of finding many good books online with minimal effort I don’t own a library card anymore.
I thought of many things that I believe in, and even though I found several things that I could be better at, it was such a great exercise to pay attention to what I advocate for and to what I absolutely know to be true no matter who tells me otherwise!

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The assignment for week 25, is to Organize something (or 7 somethings).
Here’s what j says about this assignment in the 52-52 Guide, and her recipe on how to go about it:
“This week is devoted to organizing: clearing, decluttering, simplifying. Here’s how you do it.
1. Pick a space; it can be as big as your garage or as small as your junk drawer.
2. Sort everything in that space into piles: a “throw away” pile for anything broken; a “donate” pile for anything you haven’t used in the last six months; a “moving on” pile for anything that makes you feel small or constricted or unbearably sad. (You might throw these things away or donate them as well, but they get a little send off, a formal, cleansing recognition from you that they no longer serve you. If they have sentimental value, or if dealing with them makes you squirmy and uncertain, you can have a friend store them until you’re ready to part with them for good.)
3. Take everything that’s left and make it pretty (or logical, or alphabetical, or color-coordinated).
4. Stand back. Gaze at your beautiful new space.”

Oh, this will be easy. I think. I do love organizing, and even though I finished my Spring-cleaning-in-the-middle-of-Summer a week ago, there are still things I want to better organize (like the closet, for example, or the 3 left-over boxes at my mother’s place which haven’t been unpacked since last Summer.)

How was your week? Did you let go, deeply? Or do you generally have issues with this, same as I? Did you do that you believe? How did it feel and turn your week around?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

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