What Jamie Oliver Taught Me About Caring (And Food)

On Sunday, Ben and I were lucky enough to watch Jamie Oliver give a Ministry of Food talk in Sydney. I’m not much of a cooking-show kinda gal and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Not only did I enjoy Jamie’s infectious passion for good, simple food, but also his determination to help change the health of the world – one person, one meal, one choice and one day at a time. This idea of baby steps is something I can really get behind.

And not only did he inspire us to think a little more out of the box when it comes to the meals we cook, but he also reminded me that each of us can affect change in the world. Every single one of us.

When faced with a massive global issue – think famine, spiralling debt, the health crisis crippling many countries – it’s human nature to say, “But what can I do? I’m just one person.” What I realised on Sunday is that being just one person is enough. Helping one other person in one small way is helping to change the world. Step by step.

It really is up to everyone to turn around the poor health epidemic, the debt crisis, famine, child-labour. It’s not enough to look at our own tiny corner of the world, be pleased with ourselves, our health, our home, our food, and say, “Well, I’ve done my part.” We all need to help.

We all need to care just that little bit more.

When I first started blogging on a different website, I posted simple, healthy, family-friendly recipes once every fortnight. Things like vegetable quesadillas and salmon fritters. Things you can cook up with a toddler twisted around your legs and a baby in the rocker beside you. (This testimonial comes from personal experience.)

Is this something that interests you? Are you on the lookout for easy, simple, healthy, inexpensive weekday meals? Or does the rise of Pinterest and a million food blogs mean you’re now spoilt for choice?

Let me know. And if your answer is definitively the latter, I promise to never mention food blogging again!

Not an Island.

No man is an island...

Four years ago I took pride in being an island. I wanted to be self-governed. A rogue nation, population: ME.

“Me? Need help? No.”

“Do you think I’m incapable? Not strong enough? I don’t need help. I AM COPING.”

But rather than strengthen me, this self-imposed isolation had me on the fast-track to a crushing burn-out, only I didn’t know it yet.

Strung out, worn down, angry, resentful, a shell of my true self. I was in tears daily, shouting at my family and barely getting by.

Then, things got really bad. I got very dark. Started talking to myself. HATING myself.

One day I found myself staring in the mirror saying, “I hate you. I hate you,” over and over again. And a tiny voice spoke up and said, “Hey, you know this isn’t normal, don’t you?”

That night, I did the hardest thing I could have done at the time. I asked Ben for help. Thank God.

The next day was the beginning of the uphill battle to save my sanity. (Seriously.) Diagnosed with post natal depression, the process was: Doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, medication. Rinse. Repeat.

 

Why Am I Telling You This?

Truth be known, I am terrified to tell you this. It is raw and close and brutal. And you may judge me for it.

But the lessons I learned over the past five years are what have led me to where I am today – a place of contentment, joy, purpose, love, acceptance and happiness – and that is absolutely worth sharing. Even if it prompts one other person to ask for help.

 

The Most Important Lesson?

No matter what your story, your stage in life, your struggles, your support network:

Ask for help when you need it.

Don’t be too proud. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t put up with battling along by yourself. People care about you. People are there to help. Let them.

I care about you. If I can help, let me. Tell me what you’re battling with, because sometimes simply sharing what’s on your mind lightens the weight you carry. (Via email if you would prefer!) xx

 

32 from 32

32 Lessons from 32 Years

This week I celebrated my 32nd birthday. And when I was 18, man, that would have been old. But now that I’m here? Not so much.

In lots of ways, the past year has felt like a game-changer and I wanted to share 32 of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt over the past 12 months.

(In no particular order.)

  1. There really is beauty in the tiniest of things, if you take the time to look for it.
  2. Don’t use an apology as a search for validation. It’s the same as fishing for a compliment, and while we all do it, it makes us feel unworthy.
  3. You’re not, and never will be, everything to everyone – so stop trying and focus on those close to you instead.
  4. Take time to create priorities your life – write them down, talk about them, commit to them – and then act accordingly. It makes a lot of choices much, much simpler.
  5. Physical exercise is vital to my mental health. Even a 15-minute walk is enough to help scare away the black dog that still lurks around here sometimes.
  6. Travelling with kids is challenging but so worthwhile – they bring a whole new depth to your experiences.
  7. It is possible to stop eating Nutella!
  8. Learn from someone else’s strengths. I look at Ben’s ability to celebrate the little wins with a fist pump and I try to adopt it myself.
  9. What I eat has a direct impact on how I feel, both mentally and physically.
  10. I have never regretted a single thing I have given away or decluttered.
  11. Peppermint tea is the best cure for a hangover.
  12. Accept that a new project might not work – and that is perfectly OK. Do it anyway.
  13. They were right when they said, “One day you will pray for time to slow down.” Our kids are growing so fast, some days I just want to stop the clock and soak them up, just as they are.
  14. There is no substitute for a quiet day of movies and popcorn at home when everyone is feeling strung out.
  15. Having something to look forward to is important.
  16. Talk to your kids from a young age about people’s differences.
  17. Exercise your forgiveness muscle whenever possible, with others and yourself.
  18. Indulgence is different to a habit so try not to get the two confused.
  19. Trying new things is, and should be, exhilarating.
  20. I always dreamed of running but never thought I’d have the fitness to do much of it. Turns out I can. And I love it.
  21. Stretching for five minutes every single day has seen my flexibility return and my back and neck pain almost disappear.
  22. It’s OK to feel hungry sometimes. We’re not meant to feel full constantly.
  23. That thing your kids do that’s driving you mad? It really is a phase. Maybe a long phase, but still a phase.
  24. Reading on my iPhone or iPad in bed makes it harder for me to get to sleep. A real book is where it’s at.
  25. It feels really good to just laugh with Ben and our kids.
  26. The Walking Dead is still my all-time favourite TV show.
  27. Time spent in comparison with others it wasted time.
  28. Honestly, people don’t think about you (or me) nearly as much as we fear. They’re too engrossed in their own thing.
  29. As taxing as I find it, getting out and meeting new people really has been food for my soul.
  30. Saying yes to things that terrify me (like speaking on stage) has opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
  31. Becoming part of our community is something I resisted for a long time, mostly from fear and anxiety. Getting involved has been so rewarding.
  32. Above all, there is love.

32 Lessons from 32 Years

I’m Working on Something New and Need Your Help

You Are Wonderful - via Slow Your Home

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have already seen that I’m working on something new. Come April, I’ll be producing mini-courses to help you work through specific obstacles and challenges in creating a simpler, more contented life.

And I’m looking for your feedback on exactly what kind of courses I create.

In April, I’ll be launching the first of my mini-courses, and you get to help choose what that course will be.

Will you help me by taking this super-quick survey?

Take the survey here.

Tell me which of the courses you would most like to take. There are four ideas to choose from, as well as space for you to share your suggestions, struggles and questions. 

Also – thank you. Thank you for taking the time to visit here, thank you for making this place what it is – a community of awesome, like-minded people – and thank you for wanting to create a better, slower, simpler way of life.

Happy Monday to you! (And remember: you are wonderful.)

The Beauty and Frustration of Choice

There is choice in every moment.Early this morning, as I lay with our daughter in her bed, trying to convince her that 4:27am is not, in fact, a great time to get up, I came to realise something.

When I try to write this something down it seems elementary and obvious. But it needed to come to me as a realisation, so I guess it’s a truth that I hadn’t fully grasped, elementary as it may be.

I laid down on her bed, frustrated that, yet again, I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t working on my thing. I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to be doing in that moment. And that frustration was exacerbated by the thought that there is so much I want to do, but rarely do I feel like I have the time.

Do you know that feeling? When you have so many plans, so many ideas, so much you want to do, only to be thwarted by the needs of others at every turn?

I don’t think this is an exclusive feeling. I think everyone bears it at some point in their day, whether the ‘others’ are your kids, boss, friends, family, co-workers or one of the hundreds of strangers you may cross paths with.

So what did I realise in the quiet dark this morning?

I realised that I was choosing to be there.

I had chosen to put her needs before mine. I had chosen to lay down with her and coax her back to sleep.

And that meant I was also choosing not to write in that moment.

See? I told you it was elementary and obvious.

But as I recognised that I was making a choice to be there (no matter how automatic it felt) I relaxed. Immediately the tension of being caught between where I am and where I wanted to be was gone.

Suddenly I could enjoy the moment for what it was. Not an inconvenience, but rather a fleeting moment of quiet, watching my girl drift off, feeling the passage of time move on even as I lay there.

And I relaxed into it. I decided that I couldn’t feel frustrated if I was making a choice to be there.

Suddenly I understood that at every moment of every day we choose one thing over another.

We choose sleep over running. Coffee over laundry. Work over play. Laughter over offence. Writing over planning.

But the next time? It’s laundry over coffee. Play instead of work. Planning instead of writing.

The choices aren’t always easy and they are often not obvious, but they are there. And I may be over-analysing here, but I found a beautiful freedom and lightness in this realisation.

Every moment is a choice.

 

 

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