Closing

So, it’s the final day; the end of my first autumn term of Second-Year University Courses. I thought now was a good time to update on my University experience.

Challenges Undertaken:

  • 5-a-day-for-14-days

And for a week after I did this without thinking twice about it! 5/5

  • Daily Meditation

Find weekly meditation easier to feel effects of now I do it each evening too (four weeks of daily practise and counting). 4/5

  • Daily Physiotherapy

Mixed results here; but I agree doing any form of exercise daily is good. 4/5

  • No chocolate [3 days]

No real difference noticed except by day 3 it was actually EASY to do [but hard as HELL on day 2]… Only ate it day 4 to celebrate anniversary with husband and forgot to get back into it. 3/5

General Health Lessons Learnt:

  • Use a MUG for ALL drinks – instead of PLASTIC cups [water actually DOES taste different]
  • Rice isn’t THAT hard to cook; not worth microwaving
  • Pasta Bake, Frozen vegetables and Potatoes CAN be re-heated in a microwave
  • Some days soup and toast really is the healthiest/best option
  • Fresh fruit is surprisingly easy to consume
  • Missing my daily iron tablet DOES have an effect
  • Five-a-day is EASIER with Fresh vegetables than frozen
    • Because I bother to cook; I get a variety: That bag of beans/peas/sweetcorn/carrots are getting on my nerves now.
  • Sometimes cucumber tastes bad no matter what price you pay [time of year maybe?]
  • I do CHOOSE healthy food sometimes
    • When I’m aware that the junk will still be there after a healthy meal; I feel no pressure to eat it now and often don’t have it after the healthy option in the end. Knowing I can eat junk whenever I want means I eat less of it.
  • Even healthy habits are hard to break; so make them.
    • Kept getting at least 4-a-day from habit.
  • There’s no such thing as “too many leftovers”
  • I never get sick of tea, so need to learn to limit it
    • Been having up to 26 cups on some days! This brings our energy/water bill up due to toilet trips thus MUST cut down.
  • Eating apple cores/the dry end of a cucumber won’t kill you
    • I was brought up with crusts cut off my bread, apples already cored and only the smoothest breast of chicken… I now find it VERY difficult to eat certain foods and am deliberately pushing myself to eat a bit more of the apple/the exposed to air end of a cucumber that’s been freshly cut/food I drop on the counter (if raw – just a rinse and cooking it will kill the germs)
  • Being too clean harms my skin
    • Found this with my ears and now with my hands too.
  • How to measure dry foods
    • Place raw portions of rice/pasta/vegetables to ½ fill your plate/bowl (water will increase it’s size)
  • Canned sweetcorn beats frozen
  • Breaded Chicken Breast tastes nicer than chicken nuggets; but turkey dinosaurs still beat turkey mince
  • Trying to be simple/healthy/clean/environmentally-friendly in a house with students is difficult!

Speaking of the environment,  I need to update you on my Green Goals for 2009: and plan some goals for 2010.

So, let’s begin.

Halloween Intentions:

Daily Spiritual Practise [or at least weekly] –ticks-
* 30,000 words by 30 November –ticks-
* Blog Weekly –ticks-
* Ritual for each festival  –In Progress-
* Cut down on junk food
* Keep taking 5-a-day -In Progress-
* Some for of weekly movement [dance, free-weights ]  -Bellydance, Hillwalking & Nia tried-

GREEN GOALS:

The enboldened are completed, the italic in process.

In 2009:

* Cook more from scratch
* Eat more fruit and vegetables
* Increase my hand washing load as it dries on my radiator.
* Continue to recycle [re-use spare cardboard box to house it all between emptying].
* Use my re-useable bags more often.
* In the summer I want to grow some herbs

* Keep my radiator off at certain times/wear more clothes.

* Knit myself a scarf.
* Find a fitness routine and STICK TO IT.
* Use the Lemon Bus – this is an amazing phenomena. It’s CHEAPER if you want more than a one-way bus trip and runs on chip fat.
* Donate bric-a-brac and clothes to charities twice.
* Be diligent about electric and water usage – bottle/use cooked water in tea.
* MAKE SOME SMOOTHIES (or ANY food) with my whizzer.
* Keep room organised/clean/tidy. (never going to happen but I still aim for it)
* Re-use glass jars. (Good idea from TopHat; so Thanks to You)
* Get re-usable cloth Sanitary pads.

So I get 8/16 which is exactly 50% which was my aim.

Shall work on some 2010 goals and let you know; thanks for being so supportive and I’d love some new ideas for simple but effective green goals/changes.

~Rose

Self Sufficiency

Wow. What a tremendous day. Walked to the Bridge Centre and chatted with two ladies about making nettle tea before the class began, where I saw Anna again. We’ve met a few times at the druid group I go to and she helped us to learn a song at the White Night Festival of Learning at Hollingbury Hillfort in October: She’s a stunning woman.

First we had a cup of tea (a common thing for these all-women retreats/courses I notice… I tried elderflower tea. Quite mild and not really my cup of tea (pardon the pun).  We then went for a walk. Plants found and discussed included:

Pine, elderflower, daisy, yarrow, plantain, goosegrass, pignut, selfheal (prunella), rosehip, ground ivy, wood violet, hypericum (st johns wort), marjoram, and comfrey wild parsnip. That’s not a complete list but it gives you an idea. All plants were found on one hill of the Sussex downs. Not all were edible but those that were we tasted; smelt, touched and took pictures of. I’m planning to compile a little Plant Idenification document with photographs and notes about taste/texture. I might even make it available for download/send it to people. My email address is under the Contact Me tab, if you’re interested.

Note: Some of these plants are poisonous, some can be ingested while others are for external use only. Some have berries which are edible but the seeds inside the berries are DEADLY. Please do not use this list as a safe-list, because it is NOT. Thanks. =)

We gathered these plants, including digging up three wild parsnips. Just the SMELL of them is AMAZING. To hold that tiny itty parsnip root in my hand and be able to smell the parsnip smell from a foot away.. I think the smell is even more pungent that the taste of our common parsnip we get in shops.

While they were being dug up, some of us tasted two types of tea that had literally left the centre as flasks of boiling water and the plants added as we walked along/found them.  The first, nettle and elderflower tea, I liked the first, despite my dislike of elderflower tea alone. The pine smell is so.. it was really familiar. Smelt like an English winter’s day to me.  As to the liquorice tea we had after; I’ve made my own tea from the root before and I drink fennel tea, which smells a lot like liquorice; however, this tea was a little strong for me personally.

We returned to make lunch. The stew included carrot, butternut squash, onion, potato, marjoram, fresh acorn flour, sweet chestnut, wood violet and plantain; among other things. All was served with locally baked bread.

As we finished our lunches, we were invited to pull a card from A Druid’s Oracle. My plant for the day was Chamomile; a plant relating to rest. I’ve not been sleeping terribly well (and I mean less well than usual) so I felt this was apt.

Then came the creation of ointment/balm/salve. We were shown how to make this with some of our herbs.  Basically the one we made contains plants know for:

anti-inflammatory, stops bleeding, antiseptic, antistringent, heals nerve pains and bruises, gum abscesses, insect bites, puss-oozing wounds and helps knit skin cells together. Damn, I want me some more of this. I’m paranoid I’ll run out and I think when that happens I may just cry.

One of the most diverse plants we looked at is Yarrow. Blimey! Just looking at this Wikipedia article makes me want to go out and grab every yarrow plant I see! (Don’t do that by the way; we don’t want you picking the wrong stuff and dying, nor taking so much it can’t reproduce and grow successfully). And it’s in my ointment. Score. ❤

Just skim reading this makes me dizzy.  And it’s in our ointment. Hurrah! If I suddenly get uber healthy; I can point you in the direction of the lady who made it with us so she can make a living.

Just look at this!!!  (from Wikipedia)

“Amenorrhea, anti-inflammatory, bowels, bleeding, blood clots, blood pressure, blood purifier, blood vessels, catarrh, colds, chicken pox, circulation, contraceptive (unproven), cystitis, diabetes treatment, digestion, dyspepsia, eczema, fevers, flu’s, gastritis, glandular system, gum ailments, heartbeat, influenza, insect repellent, internal bleeding, liver, lungs, measles, menses, menorrhagia, menstruation, nipples, nosebleeds, piles, smallpox, stomach sickness, toothache, thrombosis, ulcers, urinary antiseptic, uterus, varicose veins, vision.”

Contraception made me laugh. But I mean LOOK AT THAT! It’s amazing!

Okay.. awe over. For now. 😛

To end our four hours together, one of the ladies who helped organise the day read us a story about a mouse.

I’ve found a copy of the story; it made us all smile.

Today was a taster session. If Anna and the organisers receive funding from the centre; there will be a course or two running for a longer period on various outdoor crafts including ointments, food, making fire, making string, voice and medicine workshops.

When I got home, I made a smoothie out of grapes, banana, berries and apple. Yum!

What new skills could you try out? What would you love to learn?

~Rose.

Saturday Seven

Slightly edited picture/name – I feel it flows better this way.

  • for the feeling of pen on paper/fingers on the keyboard when the words are pouring out of me
  • for my husband; the most patient soul I’ve ever known
  • for vanilla ice cream (yum!)
  • for time
  • for the criticism which will help me to improve
  • for all the mistakes I make every single day; those opportunities to learn
  • for all these experiences/taster courses I’m able to try out
  • for Christine Kane who provides hope for all those trying to heal
  • for you, who read this blog and provide support, critiques and your own stories; for community.

I almost tried to combine three of those; to keep it to seven, but I figured you can never have too much gratitude; and nine’s as much a magic number as seven.

I’m up to 45,500 words of my NaNoWriMo novel!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe I’m here. Just wish it had a plot. It found one after 8,000 words of drivel and then lost it somewhere. I think I lost it around 15,000. Ahh well. Very excited now. And relieved. I AM going to make it and then I can relax. (=

Edit: I’ve just written the ending, with 5k now to go back and add padding/ bits that were too boring to write earlier. Annnd I’m changing my characters modus operands’.. having completed 95%, I’m now going back and changing bits.. Oops. Ahh well. My choice I spose =P.

I’ve got 3,500 words due in on December 9th; 2,000 of which isn’t difficult; just tedious and perhaps a little confusing. The 1,500 however, is a portfolio of 4 assignments on statistics. I don’t think I need to say any more to show how not looking forward to this I am. I’ve started three of the four; as the forth file was corrupted when I first tried to download it from our course site. I’ve decided that most of my typing is for NaNo until Tuesday though. Even with the woodland course today, I should be able to get out a good chunk of word count.

The session is about wild plants and woodland crafts; specifically for women and the lady who advertised it at The White Night Festival of Learning is a druid from my Grove and I have to say; wild plant use makes me feel especially witchy anyway. I used to read my grandmother’s encyclopaedia of herbs whenever I visited her house; writing out the ones I’d heard of (Rosemary, Thyme, Basil etc.) even at the age of 7-10.  So I’m really looking forward to it.

Have a wonderful weekend,

~Rose.

Health

With the first week of the Pagan New Year, I’ve been reflecting and starting to change my actions. Not very much at first, as too much change equals too fast is a clear burn-out for me. I completed day 2 of chocolate-free time, which is something I decided to do one Monday while I was doing my fruit and vegetables challenge in October.

On Wednesday, I woke up and decided I’d try it again. Yesterday morning I thought I may as well try for day two. And it wasn’t hard. Wednesday I wanted to reach for it at each corner; but kept myself focused with “no one’s here to stop you; but it’ll still be there tomorrow” and I managed the day. Today I was a bit off my game and I decided I wouldn’t judge myself if it comes to that. I quite like the idea of going for a week without chocolate and seeing if my health or vitality improves at all. And for another thing; if my temper calms at all.

(I would like to put a link to Christine Kane’s blog post on habitual sugar eating which inspired me to write this post.)

In our Buddhist meditation this week, we discussed the five precepts. One involved ingesting toxins such as alcohol, drugs and “negative” foods. Not that they should be forbidden, but taken in conjunction with a balanced diet. I haven’t had alcohol since the week before Halloween; and I’ll be drinking this weekend with my partner. Before that, I’ve probably drunk 3-4 times since my birthday in August. I don’t take any form of drugs; unless I’m ill to the point where I can’t handle it with natural remedies. Then I’ll take ibuprofen. I take iron tablets daily, for my health; and Echinacea [for the placebo effect if nothing else].

But I eat more chocolate, sugar and reconstituted food than anyone else I’ve ever met.

I don’t buy those ready packaged meals.. you know the ones with the cottage pie or mince in bolognaise sauce with potato all in plastic container to be microwaved then eaten. I would never buy mashed potato or carrots which have been sliced and put into a packet.

However, my meat comes in the form of frozen pre-breaded items, turkey in the shape of dinosaurs; potato in smiley faces or waffles. Macaroni cheese comes form a packet which I add water and milk to. I do also buy potatoes and mash them up myself; I have been known to add a bolognaise sauce to mince and make cottage pie. But in the general scheme of things, I live on fruit, frozen vegetables and pre-cooked meat.

And in between those meals, I can easily eat 200g of chocolate AND a full packet of biscuits.

Every Day.

So, limiting chocolate is step one to health. Step 2 will involve getting back to 5-a-day on a more permanent basis; though, having said that, I’m doing that almost by habit for now; which is good.  And today marks near-end of day 3 of no chocolate and I’m doing okay. had a difficult afternoon; but I’ve survived on tea and digestives.

Dinner tongith was pasta with carrot, broccoli, sweetcorn and tuna. Healthy Rose ^_^

So that’s this weeks challenge 🙂 and i’ll keep you posted.

P.S. NaNoWriMo counter now works —>

Spirit

When I first came to Paganism in 2004, an important part of my life was dance. I danced to release tension, to find myself and once finding this spirituality; to take time for the divine.
Though I’ve never had lessons, not in gymnastics, nor ballet or Irish dance; I was a dancer.

Over the years, singing became a larger part of my life than dance and even then, health problems with my throat [and thus my voice] and my knees have all come to bring me down. I’ve not been steady at anything in my life; getting bored/giving up/forgetting all lead to failure at anything for which I had enthusiasm for. There’s no routine I’ve kept too – I don’t perform ritual every month nor pray every day; I don’t meditate each week nor do I always eat my 5-a-day.

Speaking of my 5-a-day challenge, today is the final day and I’ve three more fruit/vegetables to fit in today to complete it. I had only one slip-up, and that was due to being out of the house for so long; I only managed 4 of my 5. but instead of starting from scratch today, I’ve called it a learning curve and vowed to reach six today [Edit: achieved].

 However, a few key themes really do seem to come back to me, especially when I’m stressed and the most common/noticeable for me is:

* Dance – this is something I had a real routine with a few years back; using staff and just letting the spirit take over my body. It’s my only free time; from my ever-chattering mind and myself. Dance is my escape; my truth where I find my insight.  For me, it’s a breath of life I struggle to find. I believe we often reach for our power but in times of stress; it’s difficult to connect. This is my connection.

Dianne Sylvan really captures it using Maslow’s definition of peak experience in her blog post on NIA:

“uplifting and ego-transcending; it releases creative energies; it affirms the meaning and value of existence; it gives a sense of purpose to the individual; it gives a feeling of integration; it leaves a permanent mark on the individual, evidently changing them for the better.” ~ From her post, quoting Wikipedia.

On a separate note,  I attended a talk on careers today’s and as with the rest of this week, it’s been reflective [appropriate for the end of the Pagan year, no?]. Questions were asked: Could I be a teacher? A psychiatrist? A psycholinguist? A policewoman? Enroll in the army?

I wasn’t thinking much about these questions when I arrived but I need no more encouragement to be true to myself than a house where I can turn my music up and dance without knowing people are below my feet trying to watch a movie. And I reached that transcendent space.

By the final song; The Night [Disturbed], which I’ve never danced to before and only listened to once or twice, I’d fully embraced the swing of it, whirling and swaying, leaning and twirling.

[I’ve a small room comprised of about 2×4 metres space… lots of turning avoids tripping over the bed and dancing into my wardrobe [which has no door, so I could even fall in].

The space I found opened like a flower and suddenly I could breathe on my own.

I think with such profound experiences over the last year I’ve become accustomed to the high of life:
my first gig, first wiccan ritual, first druid meet and ritual, first Handfasting, first pagan pub moot; the first chance to be myself and let go- my first opportunities to be open and free and not watch my every move; knowing I’m accepted with them- these have all allowed me to become an energy junkie and mixing with ‘normal’ people just doesn’t cut it.
I’ve always had just a few friends, very carefully picked out; whose energy lifts me and who passed many unconscious tests of mine before I let them in.
The experience of dance brings to light the energy I have; the potential within me, just as those few people can bring out the best in me.

 

Dianne also posted about her experiences with dance. As always, her words are much more eloquent and have a much softer flow. [i.e they include cohesion] 

“I wanted to dance because, even at fifteen, I knew there was something there. Something between the rhythm and the motion…something underneath the cheesy techno remixes and the horrid Spandex unitards…something there, something elemental and visceral, something that itched beneath my skin, a knowledge, a hunger to move.“

Today I think I just came home needing to ‘scratch that itch’. My early blog names included Gaelic for “waterfall dancer” and “dance enchantress”, so it’s been with me throughout my journey.

Anyway, back to my point: This week’s transition has included reflection on my career. When I attended this talk about teaching today, a lot of the questions were along the lines of “could you do this? Does this click for you?”. I smiled at the questions, musing slightly but paying no major heed. I came home and as no-one was in, I danced. I put on Disturbed a bit too loud and danced. By the third time round of hearing ‘Indestructible’ I was exhausted. And I was grinning.
All the stress and annoyance and incomprehensible feeling [I couldn’t comprehend why it was here] of the last week and a half vanished. This is what I do. I danced a further four songs, so today’s dance count is at thirty-two minutes, and I’ll likely do another song before bed.

 

This is who I am; it’s my truth.
No matter what job, what country or how bad my health; no matter my religion, my labels or mood:
I’m a dancer and I always will be.

~ Rose,
Celestial Dancer.

Healthy – Movement

Y2Week2 017

 I bet you’re all fed up of my menu’s now, so I’ll stick to a brief update.

Day 4 –
5-a-day: Five  
Meat:Ham, Chicken, Turkey

Day 5-
5-a-day: 3 but shall get 5 by days end.
Meat: Tuna (hooray, goal achieved!!!   see picture..) and chicken.

I’ve got some fun plans for November which I think I’ll talk more about tomorrow.  I’m rather excited.

Oh, I finally went to the doctor’s today. I’ve been saying for the past 10 months I may have Anterior Knee Pain Syndrome. I was right; it’s a form of that called Chrondromalacia Patellae. I love how technical it sounds. It’s most common in female teens/young adults and it basically means the cushion behind my knee-cap is rubbing against the bone of my thigh or it’s wearing out [I hope not, surely I’m too young for that as I don’t do any knee-stressing sports!?] 

So with my New Year’s exercise routine I’ll be working through my Physiotherapy routine. Fun times.

 Look out for tomorrow’s post about my November Challenge.

~Rose.

Healthy – day iii

Y2Week2 001Day Three

  • Shredded Wheat
  • An Apple
  • Milky Way Magic Stars x2
  • Actimel
  • Breaded Chicken Breast with leftover chicken/mushroom pasta + fresh thyme.
  • Three squares mint dark chocolate
  • Potatoes in butter & parsley , Carrots, Sweetcorn, Green Beans, Spinach, Broccoli, Baby Sweetcorn, with 2 Yorkshire puddings.
  • Hobnobs
  • Noodles with sweetcorn & carrot

 

At home I’m given cod fish fingers every Friday. Last year at University I had tuna on three occasions.  Adding up to about Two Tins in Thirty weeks.

Y2Week2 002This is my forth week here and I’ve yet to have any form of fish. What are some easy and fun ways to eat tuna? I’m not a huge fan of it, I don’t like tuna steaks – just the tinned stuff and I don’t like it raw. Yes, this is why I rarely eat it. I do have a tuna-pasta bake planned in the future but need simpler ways to get fish into my diet.

I also haven’t had potato in 2 weeks. I’ve some new potatoes ready to boil and make mash with, but for some reason, haven’t gotten round to using them.  I also used to eat 3-4 cans of sweetcorn a week and haven’t opened a single tin yet.

I guess today’s meal should be mashed potato with sweetcorn and tuna; but I’ve leftovers to use up. .. –time passes- Well, that solves that. I’ve just used up the pasta n sauce from yesterday so I’m free to have potatoes & vegetables tonight with sweetcorn.

 

In relation to menu planning, I’ve been looking through recipes, but I find the shear number of ingredients scares me. The “perfect pasta” page of the NHS 5-1-day website uses 17 ingredients. They use garlic and both tinned tomatoes and raw ones, they use dried herbs and fresh basil, black pepper and salt.

When I boil pasta, I have hot water and pasta… and then add 3-4 vegetables. that’s it. Drain and serve with butter. Everything looks more complicated at a glance in these recipes.

 

It’ll be the Pagan New Year in a couple of weeks and I’m looking for some healthier choices to use as resolutions.  So far I’m looking at:

[      Light exercise daily

  • [do’ing, stretches, bellydance, warm-ups, free weights, push ups]

[      Eating at least 5 varieties of fruit/vegetables daily

  • Regardless of portion size/whether it counts

[      Eat three types of meat a week.

  • [This is specifically because I find myself going without protein – I don’t eat many nuts, seeds, lentils, vegetarian options thus need meat]

What would you choose?
~Rose