Food Metaphor

I do love my metaphors and I do love chocolate. So does Forrest Gump’s mom- and yes I know, the actual quote is “Life WAS like a box of chocolates”, but it makes sense to put it in present tense for my purposes.

Here’s the video of January, the first of the twelve 2017 ones I’m commited to making. I wanted to do a ‘real life’ video where I use actual M&M’s but the shots were quite shaky (don’t have a tripod!) and I couldn’t really get what I wanted smoothly. Also, I ate the M&M’s 🤷‍♀️

So what are the M&M’s suppose to be?

General life plans like getting into college, getting the right grades, getting into the ideal workplace, that sort of thing. Sometimes things go exactly as you planned them and those are great times. Other times, a little diversion is required because of a small hurdle but you get back on the path you chose. And then there are those paths that you have to create as you go along because you find that the original plan fell through completely, or you realised things were not what you expected them to be. Your Blue M&M turned out to be a Red one, and you cannot run from it, you embrace that step because it’s not too bad. It’s all a step forward and that’s always a good thing.

Do you get where I’m coming from?

Life is a like a box of chocolates in the sense that there are different flavours and different fillings. Not all of them are to your liking but they’re wholly bad. You just have to adjust your perspective.

Have a great weekend! And Happy Lunar New Year 🐓🎉

 

Being Calm

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Practicing mindfulness is something I’ve spoken about on this blog because it had been part of the curriculum in my five years of medical school. I can still remember the sessions we had- we were all divided into groups and given a tutor to guide us through it. There were a number of weeks in the first semester when we did it, all of which were very immersive and pretty ‘out there’ in terms of something to actually study. I was surprised that this was actual course material.

We would practice eating food and taking our time to savour things. We would do Progressive Muscle Relaxation that would sometimes send someone to sleep. It was kooky in a sense, but there is data to back all of this up. Kooky works sometimes.

Anyway, part of my resolutions this year was to meditate every day. I have not done that. My longest streak was 12 days and I fell off the bandwagon a bit this week. I got tired more easily, which is a signal that I’m about to have my period, and ended up skipping out on a number of sessions.

But I am resolving to be better at forgiving myself and allowing each day to be a new start.

So, meditation requires a lot of focus. I downloaded the Calm app (the light blue one in the bottom row) earlier this year and it’s been very helpful. You can start with the 7 Days of Calm, which works as a beginner’s stepping stone into what mindful meditation is. The sessions are all under 10 minutes and you can do it in your own time.

My mind definitely wandered a lot, and that is okay. The guided meditation talks you through those moments and assures you that a wandering mind is normal and that you simply have to draw your thoughts back into the moment.

After the 7 Days, you can upgrade to the premium subscription to unlock other 7 Days of ‘something’. I have not done that just yet. It is a pretty penny when you don’t earn anything or even if you earn something but not in USD. There are great free resources too, which is nice because it still includes you despite the fact that you cannot afford the premium subscription. There are guided and unguided meditations, and you are able to pick the duration you would like to meditate for. However, once I do start working, this is definitely something I will consider purchasing premium for.

I think there are other meditation apps out there, Headspace being another popular one. If you think this is something you’d like to jump in on, it’s completely free for the basic subscription.

I find that meditation helps me with keeping a clearer head. It gives you a sense of groundedness which I need. What’s nice about the app is having a guide to meditation as it takes away all the ‘but how do you do it’ questions. It breaks it down to something tangible and ‘forces you’ (in a sense) to spend time with yourself.

For more information about Calm, here’s their website.

My Funsolution

I wrote about this in my Resolutions post last week:  to watch 100 movies that I haven’t seen where there has to be an actor in common between movies.

 

I watched La La Land with a friend on Thursday, so that was my kicking-off point.

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I have raved about that movie on Tumblr and Twitter. I do recommend it if you like movies, and how movies were back in 1920 something, and if you like music. If you like Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone, then you have to watch it. I have never been a Gaga for Gosling girl, but I can totally see the appeal after this movie. It has the feel of Hail Caesar, which I enjoyed last year. It’s a movie about movies and about Hollywood, and how life is hard but beautiful. Go watch it. It won a bunch of Golden Globes last Sunday/Monday, so there’s that too.

La La Land had Ryan Gosling which led me to the next movie: Half Nelson.

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I did not watch the trailer for it, but I did see the IMDB blurb which was quite intriguing. Completely worth the watch. Ryan Gosling plays a teacher with a drug habit who ‘befriends’ a student of his with her own battles. No romantic Pretty Little Liars-esque nonsense, so don’t worry about impropriety. Though of course, drugs are improper. It’s a movie that I won’t rewatch, but it was worth a watch, if that makes sense.

Half Nelson had Anthony Mackie of Captain America fame, so my next movie was Million Dollar Baby.

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I know, it came out many years ago and won Oscars, so I should have seen it. But I didn’t and now I am very glad that I did. Clint Eastwood plays a boxing coach/manager and Hilary Swank’s character is the ‘tough kid’ who basically hangs around so much, she gets him to train her. I did not see the end coming, which was just.. I won’t spoil it. Beautifully played. Whether or not you like boxing, I think the performances are fantastic, so you should watch it.

The talented Morgan Freeman was in Million Dollar Baby, so I finally got to watch The Shawshank Redemption.

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I know! It’s a classic ‘always on the top 100 movies of all time’ list on any site, and often quoted to be someone’s favourite movie ever. But I have never seen it and again, I’m so glad I did. It was great and deserves it’s place in a Top Movies list. Morgan Freeman is in it as a con-man who’s in jail where he meets new convict, Andy (played by Tim Robbins) accused of murdering his wife and her boyfriend. It’s a story of the harsh reality of prison, the crap prisoners are dealt with by the system and by the other people stuck in the system, and how hard it can be when they do finish their time. I flinched at some moments of abuse and again, I didn’t predict the ending. I’m glad I was never spoiled for how it went, though I do enjoy spoilers. It made it quite worthwhile. It is mostly about hope and friendship, which is something we all need.

So yes, I’ve gone through four movies so far and there are 96 to go. I’ve not hated it yet, but that’s probably because I’ve simply seen good movies so far. I will not be surprised if I hit a crappy movie slump down the line.

Right now I’m debating which Tim Robbins movie to watch next. We’ll see. I hope 2017 has not been too bad for you so far. x

I Resolve

Also known as I Use All The Gifs

Once upon a December …tumblr_molp4utquv1r7sa6ro1_500

NoPE, back to the point:

Once upon a December in 2015, I wrote down a few ‘2016 things’ which were like resolutions but weren’t quite resolutions. Now let’s review them:

Only use my laptop at a table (at least most of the time)

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Making my bed in the morning

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okay this was one was most of the time. So, maybe?

Not blogging daily

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I definitely did not blog daily. I was relatively consistent with the week-to-week stuff. I posted at least once most weeks of the year. That’s something.

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that’s January 2017, not 2016

Keeping track of my spending

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Does keeping track of what you spend on count? ha. ha. ha.

Saying a prayer every morning 

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Yeah. I’m awful.

10 minutes (at least) of exercise on a daily basis

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Kinda. I spent a lot of time walking in Melbourne. But not when I was here. Okay, so no.
Keep a food diary

tumblr_nqa9xewrw51s3bhqso7_r2_250Nope. Nope, nope. Nope.

So, clearly, I did extremely well in the ‘things’ department. I’m so good at this game, huh? Will this stop me from making new resolutions this year?

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I’m totally gonna do these ones. Right? Right.

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So, 2017 resolutions!

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Number One is to take more photographs. 2016 was a great year for that because I spent almost five months abroad. I would like to continue taking pictures and actually posting them somewhere, be it here or my much abandoned Instagram account. I know I’ve not got a ‘special eye’ for things but I would like to figure out the manual settings on my camera and take pictures of stuff. Also, I’ve decided that if I go somewhere new, I am determined to get over myself and take a photo with me in it. I’ve always been highly self conscious and prefer to take photos of others, but it would not kill me to get a photograph of myself now would it? I need to take more photographs with friends and family because honestly, we could all die at any point in time and it would be really sad if we never got to commemorate those moments.

Secondly, I would like to make one video per month. So that means, 12 a year. With the time I have had in the last two months of 2016, I have figured out how to animate things a little better and to make reasonable edits. I am no expert, but this is something else I’d like to improve in. I don’t quite know what the 12 videos will be about but there will be 12.

Third of the list is to read at least 25 books this year. I do keep track of my reading on my GoodReads account and I have a good number of books from last year that I have not finished. I intend to read/complete reading at least 25 new books. That number is rather low but I predict that when I start working, I will likely not have the time to read as much so, 25 is a doable number. If you have a GoodReads account, do let me know so I can follow you back and spy on what you’re reading.

The fourth thing is to curb my spending by only buying something new if I finish something old. For example, buying a new book only when I’ve finished reading all the ones I’m carrying forward from 2016. I want to be more intentional and conscious with what I buy so, frivolous spending needs to stop. Instead, I shall keep a ‘wish list’ of sorts and buy what I can when it is the right time.

What comes next is a little ‘fun’ resolution. A Funsolution?  One of the Gilmore Guys hosts, Demi Adejuyigbe, challenged himself last year to watch 100 movies that he has not seen, where there has to be an actor in common between movies. To quote his example: “I started with THE REVENANT, so I’ve got DiCaprio, Hardy, Gleeson, Poulter, hell even Haas movies to choose from next.” This is probably going make me hate watching movies by the end of it but I should like to see how far I get with this before it blows my brains.

I am stealing the sixth resolution from Sanne of booksandquills, and learning the NATO Phonetic Alphabet. This is something that’s probably going to be simple-ish except that I have to actually memorise stuff. I have always found it very cool when people use the NATO Phonetic Alphabet in movies and TV Shows, so it will be fun to learn.

On the more “frivolous” side of things, I want to learn how to use make-up properly and to get used to using make-up. Yes, that’s kinda “superficial” but at the same time, people enjoy cosmetics and the point of make-up is to enhance what you have, and in a sense, it is a necessity for certain events in your life. I have had a weird relationship with make-up since I was child and it was mostly negative, which I have grown to learn is the wrong way to think about it. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good and present yourself to the world in a way that helps you feel more confident. So, in 2017, I want to figure out what works and does not work for me, and to actually use the products I have bought out of my tendency to spend when I’m upset.

My eighth resolution is to do ‘an act of kindness’ every day. I know, that sounds a bit prissy. But the point is to learn to shift my perspective outward while spreading something positive. It may not be big things but it will be something. It is suppose to help with anxiety and depression, and generally makes you a happier person, and I have decided that that, being happy, is my overall aim for this year.

Number nine is to use the Calm app on my phone every day. I am trying to focus on ‘being better in my head’ and meditation is a proven method. I intend to take time out and use the app on a daily basis to help with my mental health issues. I learned about mindfulness at school, so it is time for me to put it into practice.

And the final resolution is the classic, exercise, and eat better thing. I must say that since I’ve been back, this has been something I’m working on. When I was in Melbourne, I walked a lot. I had to walk to the train station and the bus stop regularly, so I did lose a bit of weight. I am continuing that practice by walking my dogs now that I’m back. My pug is not too happy about it because she doesn’t want to walk a full round much less twice a day, but I’ve been dragging/motivating her slowly. The eating better part is a pain because being home means I have full access to the oven which means baking is not out of the question. I’m working on that.

So yes, those are my ten resolutions for 2017. I think I will be able to complete most if not all of them because I actually really want to. That’s the trick with resolutions, right? You have to enjoy the things you do in order for them to work?

I would like to hear what you have planned for 2017 in the comments or on Twitter or wherever else. Have a good weekend ahead! x

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

The first time I had Sticky Toffee Pudding/Sticky Date Pudding was at the Melbourne Supper Club in 2016. It ranks as one of the best things I ate in Australia and I would definitely recommend it if you find yourself in the area.

For some reason, I happened on a recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding on the Smitten Kitchen website and I decided to make it. After a quick stop at the supermarket to find dates and a packet of whipping cream, I dedicated my evening to creating it.

So first off, here’s the recipe: STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING

I like to make things that I personally want to eat but as I have said before, the baking process is more therapeutic than anything else. And I always end up not wanting to eat the thing I made at the end of it. I don’t what that says about me.

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Here’s a close up of the cake-base, which reminds me of the Crack in the Wall from Series 5 of Doctor Who.

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Here’s the toffee sauce that FYI takes longer than 10 minutes to stir through to thicken if you’re using a small flame. The trick to know when it’s ‘thick enough’ is to dip your spoon in the sauce, turn it over to the curved side, run your finger through the sauce on that side: If there’s a clear separation in the sauce, then it’s thick enough. If the sauce ‘joins’ back together, then it’s too runny.

I don’t think I explained that clearly.

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Also, I think you could cut down on the sugar in the sauce, depending on how you like it. I personally found it way too sweet.

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so there we go, Sticky Date/Toffee Pudding! I didn’t realise till after soaked the dates, that the recipe could feed a good 12 people. Big mistake, yes, but now I have date-toffee cake for days.

 

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Retrospective

I know I’m pretty early with this one.

The past 12 months have been this whirlwind of emotions and events that I could never have predicted. Case in point: Carrie Fisher died today. George Michael died two days before. What. WHAT.

And while that is true for all years, I feel like 2016 has been the one that’s made me eat humble pie time and time again. I would like to give a metaphorical standing ovation to the year for absolutely breaking me down and forcing me to pick myself up.

If I had to choose a word to cover what this year has been, it would be ‘more’.

I have travelled more.

I have read more.

I have created more.

I have met more people.

I have cried more.

I have laughed more.

I have Gil-more-d (ha.ha.ha)

I have lost more.

and mostly, I have learned more.

(yes, those are all links to relevant posts)

More about myself. More about the people around me. More about life.

This year has somehow eclipsed most others in my life, with incredible moments that have filled this blog over the past 52 weeks. There have been good times and there have been bad, more bad than good in my opinion- but it’s all been lessons for me.

I have never felt as much or learned as much as I have in 2016.

Inner Workings

About two weeks ago, I watched Moana with my parents. It was such a great film and naturally, I teared up a bunch of times. But I’m not here to talk about that; I want to talk about the short before the movie.

While I cannot link the short here, that’s the trailer.

It is a really good short:

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So, SPOILER ALERT, this is going to discuss the whole short. If you don’t want SPOILERS, stop reading. I don’t think spoilers will ruin your experience of watching it but if you want to play it safe, it’s best to stop.

As the trailer showed, the main character is not ‘alone’ per se. His brain and heart are ‘independent’ players in this constant battle. The main character’s heart wants to go out and spend time in the sun, eat food that’s not necessarily good for you, etc etc. The brain says ‘No. We go to work. We gotta do what we have to do. Responsibilities FTW’. So the heart gets bummed out and basically the character becomes ‘depressed’-ish.

He’s at his job. The brain is looking around he sees everyone in the same position, bent over their tables, doing their paperwork, basically robotic. His brain imagines the inevitable future of him being old and miserable, and doing the same job, being a robot all the way to the grave.

His heart’s not in it, in the most literal of senses, presented visually on the screen.

So his brain gives the reins (literally) back to his heart, so his heart can do what it wanted to do. He goes out, he has a ridiculous meal, he buys ridiculous sunglasses, he jumps into the sea.

He’s rejuvenated. He goes back to work. He’s enthusiastic. He finds joy in what he does, he makes it a bit of game. And the other people around him start to notice, and it’s infectious. They’re all out of their slump.

The movie then cuts to the credits where it shows the main character going out with his work friends, going on a date with the girl who sold him the ridiculous sunglasses etc etc. There’s even a gorgeous sunset.

But here’s the kicker.

That bit where his brain lets his heart do ‘whatever’, it’s not at a random time at work. It’s not like he left in the middle of the day. It was during his lunch break. And I love it for that.

The main character did not quit his job because he was unhappy. He did not ‘up and leave’ just because he was feeling like it.

He had fun in his free time. He used his free time for self care.

I thought it was really clever what the creators did. This is an excerpt from an interview they did.

Leo then went on to explain how one of his goals for the short was to reach those who aren’t at a job they’re happy with. “How do those people feel, you know? I really sympathize with them. And I think it’s a way – it’s a love letter for them. For them to have hope, but at the same time we have to be practical too,” he said. “So that’s why I think it’s ‘Inner Workings’, because the world as a whole doesn’t change. The character…because he changed, he ends up kind of – it’s contagious, he ends up kind of influencing the people around.” x

‘We have to be practical too’.

Self care is a phrase that gets thrown around a heck of a lot, especially in the past couple of years. When I first heard of it, I was reminded of Steven’s Covey’s ‘Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’, namely the seventh habit aka ‘Sharpening the Saw’. Steven Covey, the late famous motivational author and speaker, said that the seventh habit is highly important, citing the example of attempting to saw down a tree without taking time to sharpen your instrument- you’d be more successful if you had taken time in between to make sure the blade was in working order.

But he also says that it’s the seventh habit is seventh in line for a reason. It’s important, but it’s not the end all be all. The other habits ie: Being Proactive, Beginning With The End In Mind, Putting First Things First etc, those are very important, too and should not be neglected. The seventh habit is the most fun but you can’t spend all your time taking time off, because that’s no use to anyone, most especially yourself.

Which brings me back to the short:

The main character learned how to find a balance between doing a job that may not be your ‘100% interest in life’ and jumping into other things that you actually want to do, things your heart desires. Most of us do not have the luxury of being spontaneous all the time. It’s an odd concept, but we need to carve out time to be spontaneous, to do things that challenge us, or simply something enjoyable.

I’m not an expert in balance, clearly. But in my time in Melbourne, having a ‘sort of’ job, I learned how to make my week better by planning things for my free time. And that made the week more pleasant because there was something to look forward to. That gave me comfort.

If you have not seen Moana, do go watch it. It is visually appealing, definitely more intriguing and, in my opinion, a better movie than Frozen.

Oh, and watch the short that comes before it and really think about it. It gave me food for thought.