Reblog: Resolutions: Good or Bad

I find resolutions interesting. As I commented on Noelle’s post (linked below),

I like ones that are “commitments to try”, so to speak. You know they’re goals and things you’d like to do, but they’re not “have-tos”.

Setting unattainable resolutions can lead to trouble or so it seems – we gain only negative emotions when we revert to old habits after promising to keep to a path for a year.

I remind myself that these are goals, to be practiced and worked on during the year but not mandatory.

With that in mind, some ones for this year are:

  • Do well in my Masters coursework etc.
    – Ask for help if I need it and monitor myself so that the changes of this year don’t cause my grades to drop.
  • To listen twice as much as I speak;
    –   I’ll be addressing this in more depth later, but as I’m a talker and social person who also is a “Feeler” (high F in Myers-Briggs, for example), I worry about my ratio of talking to listening. So I’m working on it.
  • Alongside the above is my want to actively practice my Feeling
    –   Again, I’ll explain in another post, but cultivating my empathetic presence is important to me. These first two are very connected.
  • To get back into blogging
    – I fell off a regular blogging schedule a bit over the second half of 2016, but I’d like to be more consistent.
  • To get back into writing my story.
    – I’ve done quite a lot of backstory-work but haven’t actually done any story-writing for a while. I need to get back into that.
  • To be more active and finding more walking spaces.
    –   I’m not naturally a person who gets active, as I’m not sporty. But I like nature and I like walking and I know I ought to be sitting less. I’m not interested in overdoing it though, as I’m skinny enough as it is.

Idea taken from the post linked below:

What are your thoughts on setting New Years Resolutions? Have you completed yours in the past or are you one of those who forgets what they are? Come read about the good and the bad of setting reso…

Source: {DISCUSSION} Resolutions: Good or Bad

#BringThemHere

https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/refugees/bringthemhere/upload-your-own-bringthemhere-message

I did this yesterday:

ESP Bring-Them-Here_photo 1.jpg
The Equality, Sustainability & Peace (ESP) Group at La Trobe says: #BringThemHere!

We stand with those on Manus and Nauru – we love you and support you. It’s past time for the government to stop stuffing around and close the camps. Set up some humane processes, open up onshore and offshore detention centres and #bringthemhere to #letthemstay.

Momentum is building – join us!

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/17/this-is-critical-103-nauru-and-manus-staff-speak-out-their-letter-in-full?CMP=share_btn_tw

 

 

 

Intersectionality

Hi everyone.

As some of you may know, a few weeks back I wrote a guest post for Carla. She was focusing on different experiences of women, personal experiences. I’d meant to post it here as soon as it was posted there, but other stuff got in the way. I needed to gee myself up a bit, because it’s personal and posting it here is different to posting it to Carla’s blog. (It’s like that whole idea of degrees of separation…Carla’s is one more level removed than here…) Then I realised I needed to edit it, as I had forgot to talk about some things I ought to talk about. Finally, though, it’s here. Ta-da.

 My #YesAllWomen Story
I’ll just say the obvious – the following are musings from my own thinking, influenced by others. I have no formal training in theology, save what I’ve learned in school, at Mass and elsewhere. What I do have is a sense of discernment which has been nurtured in various ways.

I’m a young Australian woman who is both Catholic and feminist. Some would think those two don’t fit. I’m here to tell you that they do – if you reach out with understanding rather than judgement.
I’ve always been Catholic (my parents baptised me into the faith as a young baby). I’ve seen the good side of things thanks to a few well-informed priests (one in particular) and parents, other relatives and friends who have been good examples as well as being willing to discuss things with me and my siblings. I’ve heard and been sickened by the “bad side” of things, the child abuse scandals rocking the Church and stuff. How anyone could do that is beyond me. I’ve also become more aware of the inequalities and hypocrisy in the “institutional Church” (including the flaws which led to the above problem, the handling of which is institutional in many areas).
As I’ve grown up I’ve become more aware of feminism. This has led to an interesting…conflict, you could say, in some matters.
After all, there are certain stereotypes for Catholics and feminism (separately I mean):
* Catholics are (among other things) all totally immovable about rights to life, anti-marriage equality, transpeople and (in certain extremes/ various ways) the role and empowerment (sexually, especially) of women, etc.;
* Feminists are all pro-choice “no exceptions” in many things, including women’s empowerment (sexual and otherwise)…
Total opposites, it seems!
Over time, I learnt that like life, it wasn’t nearly so clear-cut as that. I’m still learning about the different nuances. It doesn’t have to be either/or. Everyone is individual, so we all have slightly different viewpoints about things. I’ve realised that each of us has to decide what we believe in.
Personally, I’m a feminist – an intersectional feminist.
That means that I think that the Church does need to, ah, grow up a bit regarding some things, like sex and women and LGBTI people. However, the Church’s teachings do resonate with me in other matters. I wish to outline a few examples below. It gets a bit wordy, as I like thinking about these things to “get them straight” in my head.
My Catholicism guides me in many ways. I believe that Jesus’ teachings and the teachings of those who follow Him are still important in many ways to our lives today. Like the message of inclusion, non-violence and forgiveness outlasting exclusion, violence and the bitterness that comes from holding onto hurt. Some great theologians (lay and religious), steeped in the Catholic tradition, have said things which resonate with me about authenticity, self-belief and finding one’s path – emotionally and spiritually in particular. I hold onto all of that. Regular readers of my blog will know that by now, given that I do write posts around that reasonably often.
However…
There has been an institutional blindness within the Church caused by an inflexible hierarchical structure of “top-down” solutions. Recent efforts do offer encouragement that this is slowly changing, in the form of baby-steps. I hope that those baby-steps turn into adult steps – soon! If they don’t, then I think it’s highly likely that change will be forced upon them, or else the Church will become increasingly irrelevant.
For starters, the Church has a “women problem”. A lot of Church life is closed off to women, through structures which are still geared towards men. Change is being ‘forced’ upon some parishes already. As more priests retire and no traditional replacements are available, there are more stories of (religiously-trained and lay, married or not) women (and men) leading through necessity. You’ll notice, I also mentioned married men there – I think that there needs to be a rethink on the matter of how they contribute too. We are all people of God – it’d be nice if that was better reflected in what we’re “allowed” to do.
That leads me nicely into discussing LGBTI people. I’ve addressed the “marriage equality” question previously (An Exploration of Equality and Religion and Related Matters). My view is that we should be striving for authenticity as people in all aspects of our lives – including gender and sexual preference. Also, I don’t think Jesus would be that fussed, so long as we “love our neighbour” by practising compassion and mercy. As I say in the linked post above, Jesus was more clearly harsh on those who discriminated and judged others and were hypocrites than he was about their sex lives. The authenticity idea informs other examples, too.
On Carla’s blog, Jenna wrote in defence of her wardrobe. I, too, have had experiences where I’ve been told to dress a certain way. But there was never really that big of an emphasis and it wasn’t because of my gender/sex but because of the occasion (smart casual = Mass clothes usually). I used to not question the general idea. Then, some time ago, I started to. Jenna covered that area pretty well – I dress the way I like to, others’ sense of propriety (and fashion!) doesn’t factor in.
I view the issue of sexual choice and “morality” in a similar way. I’ve grown up with a certain idea thanks to the Catholic faith teachings. I’ve heard some interesting ideas about why it’s “better” to have fewer or none sexual partners before marriage. For example, an idea that previous sexual encounters “colour” the current one, affecting it in ways you don’t want it to be affected if it’s going to last. The problem, as I see it, with the Catholic view (purity and chastity) is that it can lead to shame if the “rules” are broken. This is despite many religious people then saying that we women don’t have to be ashamed – just go to confession and bam! problem solved. That may be nice to hear and feel, but in practice it isn’t always that simple. It still takes time and working through matters.
An overwhelming focus on the sexual (im)morality of certain situations means that miscommunication can result. One person can become guilty over perceived immorality, when the real worry and call for “patience/ abstinence” was actually about emotional maturity. The end result of that is a decrease of communication, followed by feelings of guilt over lying and then hurt from a lack of support/acknowledgement when that guilt prompts the admission of the fact – I’d call that the real sin of the situation, not the sex itself. Thus, the cycle of hurt continues, unless we make the conscious decision to stop and forgive.
Not to mention the issue of shame creates stigma around the survivors of sexual assault and other such trauma, because they’re blamed for “asking for it”. Even when that is also accompanied by blaming the perpetrator, the fact that we blame the survivor continues the cycle of judgement which discourages people from speaking up. It also confuses the issue because in blaming the survivor, we miss the message: no. means. no.
It would be much, much easier if there was less emphasis on the sexual and more focus on the emotional (where the emphasis is/ should be anyway). Then perhaps there might be less confusion and hurt around it. Again – less judgement and more compassion, the way it’s meant to be.
One thing that the Church and some feminists agree on about relationships however: the subject of porn and how it is not good for relationships. It creates unrealistic standards and is demeaning, involving the physical side of things without any context. On the other hand, other feminists disagree. I’m a bit of a fence-sitter on this one.
These ideas and conflicts were reinforced a few months ago, when I went to a Catholic Youth Festival. That Festival was amazing, in many ways. There were so many talks which I gained something from and made me think deeply about myself and my faith. One such talk was by a motivational speaker-type guy, talking about chastity/purity and “love vs. lust” and Catholicism more broadly. Some of the things he talked about were relevant – the emotional content, for example, about “real” love and knowing yourself. There was, however, a lot of “I don’t mean to judge, but girls – stop doing this and start doing this,” and “girls are like this and guys are like that” stuff. Blargh. There were other talks there about faith and love and authenticity which I perhaps enjoyed more – because they were freer of the judgmental talk. There was still a bit of it, but less so. Women – anyone really – should not be dictated to or shamed about their dress or habits, including from other women. It is about personal tastes.
Moving on to another contentious issue: the whole pro-life/ pro-choice thing. This has been an evolving issue for me, as it’s one of those points which many feminists (though not all – see my references) and religious people clash visibly.
Again, I think it is a matter of personal preference and understanding. I believe that by narrowing the debate down to pro-/ anti-abortion (which it often seems to be), we all lose. I believe that contraception and abortion (along with education, healthcare, childcare support, housing assistance and other forms of social welfare…etc.) should be safe and legal. I do not think they should be treated lightly. It’s a delicate balance in my mind. Some have referred to abortion as an “abhorrent form of birth control”. I believe that in the majority it’s more complex than that.
Contraception should be an informed personal choice. Some people have issues about introducing hormones and things into their body, or worry about side-effects and that’s okay. It’s also okay to choose to take them to prevent pregnancy or for other reasons. What is not okay is shaming or pressuring someone else about their choice. I believe that IVF and other supported-fertility treatments have benefits that outweigh the potential “playing with life” label that some religious people might attach, provided appropriate support and protections are given. I’m less sanguine about so-called “designer babies”, where characteristics could be chosen. I accept it on life-saving medical grounds, but I’m leery about other options.
I believe that everyone has a right to life, including the unborn, as I believe life starts at conception. I also believe that “God does not make junk” so to speak, so aborting a foetus just because of a disability, or the circumstances of its conception (and/or designing a foetus specifically to edit out a disability “just because”), is wrong. Of course, there are always exceptions based on individual circumstances. We want all people to have the best start in life. I think we need to talk about these things. My main view is that we should be working on the social reforms which “prevent” abortion by giving better options (like the ones mentioned above), while keeping it safe and legal. I think that it should be the woman’s choice but we need to (in a non-judgemental way) be sure that all lives are valued and that personal conversations are able to happen…not just “you should/not have an abortion because of x”.
Personally, I wouldn’t have an abortion myself. However, if a friend of mine became pregnant and wasn’t sure about keeping the baby for whatever reason, I’d hope that I could help by listening and for her to know that there are options. But if she did choose abortion, it wouldn’t cause a rift. (Things might be a little awkward maybe, but I wouldn’t abandon the friendship just because she made a different choice to my hypothetical one.)
I hope you’re sensing a theme. In all these distinctions and similarities between my Catholic and feminist principles, there’s a common goal: sensitivity, respect for difference and non-judgement.
There are plenty of things where it’s easy (for me) to say that Catholics and feminists agree: care of and empowerment of the poor and disadvantaged communities and care of the environment for future generations among them. Both groups just have slightly different angles.
I gain a lot of emotional support and spiritual guidance from my faith. I support and am empowered by my feminism.
The way I see it, each of us is on a journey, where we have to find our own path. Like I said earlier on, we all have to make our own choices. Just, please, think about using a little less judgement and a bit more understanding.
Below are some links to sites which have informed my views:

Christian feminism: http://godspace-msa.com/2016/03/08/international-womens-day-forging-a-positive-sisterhood/

Baby-steps in Catholicism from the recent Amoris Laetitia document, putting the focus back on dialogue, even if there are still some awkward passages –
Download the actual document here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia.html
Some reactions to it:
http://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/part-3-reactions-popes-reflections-family-life
https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/unity-growth-love-church
One Catholic-feminist mother’s reflection on the document: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/reading-amoris-laetitia-as-a-catholic-feminist-mom/
Why it’s only a baby-step (written by a woman who writes a lot of thought-provoking pieces):

we need a theology of the body broken and violated

Dumping the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin”: http://bethwoolsey.com/2013/10/3-reasons-i-quit-loving-the-sinner-and-hating-the-sin/

On dressing how we want to dress, without judgement and why that’s important: http://www.skirtcollective.com/why-my-self-expression-shouldnt-concern-you/
http:// http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/the-immodest-consequences-of-modesty-policing/

Fixing traditional marriage: http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45414#.Vvs5P_l942y

A website for Catholic women – I wish I’d discovered it earlier, it’s been running since 2014: http://www.catholicwomenspeak.com/
(and article describing their mission:) https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/place-table

A website hosting religious blogs & things – the Catholic section: http://www.patheos.com/Catholic-blogs – varies from traditionalist to more progressive-but-Catholic

A feminist-Catholic understanding of Mary, Mother of Jesus:
http: //www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/how-feminism-strengthened-my-christianity/

Abortion is a complex thing: http://skinnyandsingle.ca/2015/08/22/abortion-no-its-not-for-everyone/
http:// http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/02/abortion-collective-responsibility-and-the-s-word/

Why there needs to be less judgement around contraception:
https:// http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/03/22/i-was-a-devout-catholic-not-being-able-to-get-birth-control-shook-my-faith/

Transgender – not the same as transracial: http://www.upworthy.com/a-black-trans-woman-explains-changing-gender-vs-changing-race?c=reccon1

Sex-selection IVF: https://theconversation.com/choosing-childrens-sex-is-an-exercise-in-sexism-45836?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+24+2015+-+3294&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+24+2015+-+3294+CID_e93b54a12e12cf976f816d0ebf33c746&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=argues

A blog about faith & feminism: http://faithfullyfeminist.com/

Some catholic-trans perspectives:
http://magazine.catholicherald.co.uk/magazine-post/whats-the-truth-about-transsexuality/pugpig_index.html
https://rowanselah.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/god-made-me-this-way/
https://catholictrans.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/what-does-the-catholic-church-actually-say-about-transgenderism/

pro-life feminists: http://www.feministsforlife.org/herstory/

An LGBTI Catholic website tracking progress: https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/

A website for young progressive Catholics: http://youngadultcatholics-blog.com/about/

There are many others. Take a look around the internet – you might be surprised!

 

WT&TT: Five Things: Music to Write By

WordWitch makes a good point here. I tend to use music as a buffer. I’ve started putting on my “soundtracks” playlist when I’m in a “get-stuff-done” mood, at least for uni things. Last year I used a miscellaneous playlist that included most of my music choices, but when you’ve got earphones in your ears (instead of listening via speakers) it’s a bit different.

These WT&TT posts will continue, but I have to admit I’m stalled at the moment, writing-wise. I just have too many other demands on my time.

Source: Five Things: Music to Write By

Ode to Public Transport (Trains)

Public transport is useful. It can be annoying. It can also be good.

For trains….

We’ve all had (more than) our fair share of having to stand all the way to our destination, just because it’s peak hour and you’re travelling with the peak not against it. (Yes, this is worse on different lines.) Or the times when you’re travelling against/ outside of the peak can actually sit down and relax.

When we’re all in the same boat – sorry, carriage – during the peak, a fleeting camaraderie can form, as the standing people shuffle around at each station to let others out and in, then reposition themselves and their belongings so that there’s less chance of knocking into someone as the train moves. Knowing that everyone has to share the same space.

I enjoy public transport, most of the time, because it means I’m not having to think too much about getting from A to B. I prefer trains because it feels faster than other options a lot of the time. Trams and buses have their uses, too, but trams seem slow a lot of the time and buses have to deal with traffic. I like the SMART buses when going somewhere new via the road – it means I can be a bit more relaxed about getting there.

When you travel on public transport a lot, on particular lines/routes, you get to know them. The amount of time it’s going to take from A to B stopping all stations on a train, for example. Where the nice scenery is (like the bridges over the Merri Creek area near Westgarth and Rushall stations) and where the platforms change sides, if they do.

Melbourne’s public transport network is like a giant spiderweb. My main gripe with it is that the web of train lines is like the axle and spokes of a wheel, with the outer rim only provided by buses. Why do we have to go all the way into the city, just to go out again?

I like the network because it gets me where I want to go – to see family, my boyfriend, friends; to go to events or do other things.

MIV2018 Update!

MIV18 header

69th Intervarsity Choral Festival Melbourne 2018 – MIV, Summer of ’69

11th March marked 10 months to go until the Melbourne Intervarsity Choral Festival 2018.

“Ten months?” I hear you say, “But that’s still ages away!”
My reply to that is both yes and no.

To an excited chorister, especially one who missed out on the Perth IVCF 2017, it does feel like a while. An Australian autumn, winter, spring and Christmas/New Year must pass before it arrives. Plenty of local choir action must, too, including individual exciting projects. (Yay!)

But to a MIV Committee member, ten months is not very long at all. In my role as Co-Social Secretary, we’re aiming to have a social gathering at least every couple of months, if not sooner. My workload is going to increase as the year goes on and time grows shorter, but it’s not starting at nothing. The next social event is planned for three weeks away!

On the 10-months-out date, I spent my morning helping out at a Fundraising BBQ at Bunnings. It was fun, if rather hectic at times. I was the bread-woman – I ensured our tub of bread slices was kept stocked fresh, I took the bread slices (often one in each gloved hand) over to the BBQ-man and held them while he placed the sausage (with or without onion in) then handed the full lot to the customer, who’d already paid our cash-woman.

It was sort of fun – we took turns putting our own music through some speakers, leading to more than one occasion of singing along to songs!
We joked that it was “democracy sausages without the election“. 😛 (link to photo on MIV2018 Facebook page – go on, like them while you’re there?)

It was also quite tiring. Not so much the fact that I was on my feet for a good four or so hours doing things, but the social-cognitive stuff was what wore me out more I think. There were times when I was performing the routine described above repetitively without a lull. It was grab bread, listen to order, remember it, turn to BBQ, fill order, turn and locate person, repeat. Sometimes I’d have to multitask if two people wanted one sausage each (so that’s one order per hand) – which could be interesting if one wanted onion and the other didn’t! I got used to repeating, “one with, one without” and “two with” and “two without” and so on. Phew!

I’d do it again though. 😉

Another thing that happened on the 11th was the release of the latest MIV Mailout, to coincide with the ten month mark. In it we introduced our musical director!

(Drum roll…)

Our Musical Director is Patrick Burns. Here’s his bio, courtesy of this link from the MIV Facebook page – I would have embedded it properly, but it doesn’t seem to like that given there’s a picture with it.

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor and close-up

“Patrick began his conducting studies whilst completing his under-graduate studies at the Queensland Conservatorium. He is an alumni of the Symphony Australia conductor development program which has seen him participate in workshops across Australia with Orchestra Victoria, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and also in New Zealand with the Auckland Philharmonia under the guidance of Christopher Seaman, Johannes Fritzsch, Sebastian Lang-Lessing and Baldur Brönnimann.

From 2010 to 2014 Patrick was the Music Director for the Monash University Choral Society and from 2011 to 2014 was also the Music Director for the Victorian Youth Symphony Orchestra. In 2014, he was made a life member of MonUCS for his contribution and dedication to the choir. He is currently the Chief Conductor for the Ipswich City Orchestra in Queensland and has held the position since 2008. Patrick is also the Music Director for the Melbourne-based artistic collaboration, XL Arts.

In 2015 Patrick travelled to Bulgaria to participate in the Blue Danube Opera Conducting Masterclass with the Bulgarian State Opera. As a result he was invited to conduct a performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Bulgarian State Opera House in Rousse. He was also recently awarded the Jury’s Special Prize at the 2015 Blue Danube International Opera Conducting Competition. In 2016, Patrick returned to Bulgaria to conduct performances of Verdi’s Nabucco Puccini’s Turandot and also a symphonic concert with the Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra. In 2016 Patrick was also awarded the Orchestra’s Prize in the Black Sea Opera Conducting Competition held at the National Opera Theatre of Romania in Constanta.

We’re thrilled to be working with Pat to bring you a gorgeous repertoire and an exciting festival experience.”

 

It’s so exciting. There’s plenty of more cool things to be announced or in the pipeline to happen…why not sign up to the mailing list at miv.org.au to keep informed?

Donate to RISE Foodbank

RISE are a group of “refugees, survivors and ex-detainees”, who help out refugees in need. 

Their Melbourne foodbank could use a little love (see attached pics). 

Also, I’m supporting their call for the Palm Sunday rallies (and other “supportive” spaces to have more direct involvement (e.g. Speakers) from refugees, especially ex-detainees. Not just advocates speaking on behalf of them. Solidarity means putting those affected first, by creating spaces for them to share their stories (for starters)… See this link for more info. 

Rest is in pictures because reblogging etc. from the Facebook mobile app isn’t the best. 

How far we’ve come – how far we’ve still got to go. 

Happy International Women’s Day, all. Here’s a good piece about intersectional feminism. 

https://www.vwt.org.au/my-feminism/ 

If my feminism doesn’t recognise different struggles of class, race, disability and sexuality, then it’s not really feminism. 

Currently sitting at uni listening to some live music by women, about to support the IWDA by buying a few baked goods. Then I’ll knuckle down to study. 

Last year in May I published a post about my intersectionality. It’s due for an update, soon. 

Cure-All Cooking

Just wanted to write a quick note.

What a hectic, busy week. Note to self: organising extracurricular activities whilst adjusting to a new subject is hard. Doable but hard.

I’ve said before, I enjoy cooking for myself. Last night I rediscovered that food cooked yourself is also therapeutic. You know, I didn’t think I’d say that, because I used to find cooking a little challenging. Now, though, when I’m just cooking for one/two, it’s fun. Sure, you still have to remember to gather all the ingredients together (there have been a few times I’ve got downstairs only to remember I left something vital up in my room), and monitoring/ understanding how to cook things “just right” without burning, over- or undercooking them is a learning process. But I’m improving, I think!

Last night I even managed to cook rice in the bottom pot in the boiling water, while the veggies cooked in the steamer pot on top. At the same time, I was supervising the cooking of a chicken thigh, smeared in “Moroccan spice”, an amazing spice mix from the supermarket. It’s delicious and created a nice thin “crumb” almost. Next time I might remember some flour to spread it out a bit more, though idk. It tasted pretty good without it. Making food choices and experimenting with flavours is a great way to take my mind off a stressful situation or unhappy mood (albeit, it helps if you’ve got an appetite).

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Other meals have included:

A beef stir-fry with noodles:

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Yum! There’s something nice about how the flavours of a stir-fry – garlic, chilli, ginger, oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce – come together with the veggies and the meat. I used my pot rather than the frypan, as that’s the bigger of the two and I don’t have a wok (well, there are communal ones, but I try to avoid using them given I’ve got my own things). It worked out well, if I do say so myself.

Hamburgers cooked in pasta sauce and mixed-herb-flavoured chips with veggies:

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I like adding mixed herbs to things for a bit of extra punch. It’s better than salt! I had some pasta sauce in the back of the fridge that I needed to use up (given that it was opened the other week when making a bolognese). So I used it as the base (tipping in a bit at a time) and cooked the hamburgers in it. So yummy!

Another thing I’ve been experimenting with is breakfast. Usually I’ll have porridge/ muesli, or weetabix. I’ve discovered that weetabix is nice warmed up (never tried it until now because I didn’t like the idea – but I actually prefer warm weetabix to cold I think!). On blood donation days, or days when I feel like an extra bit of something, I add egg to the menu.

I scrambled an egg in a mug in the microwave on Tuesday, then added it to some fried-rice leftovers to have for breakfast (I’d eaten the other half of the leftovers for lunch the previous day). Then yesterday, I decided to do it again because I hadn’t had much food the day before and knew that I needed to have what I call a “worker-bee day”, for uni work. Only this time, I accidentally poached the egg by not whisking it but popping it in the microwave for about 20 secs to see what would happen. I then gave it another 20 or so secs and voila! The yolk was still runny and the white just firm. Delicious! The drink in the picture is some of a smoothie I’d made the day before to use up an overripe banana, some veggie juice I’d saved after cooking and the last of some stewed plums. I just blitzed them in the blender on low until they seemed all together.

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All in all, I’m having fun with my food choices.

 

Thinking, Judging, Feeling

Recently I’ve been re-reading a few interesting blog posts that I rediscovered when looking through my inbox. They’re about self-criticism/self-care, judgement and emotions.

Milliemonday’s post about self-criticism got me thinking about how, while (as she says) it’s natural to be somewhat self-critical, if one isn’t careful it can become harmful. We do need to have some sort of self-check – with no self-monitoring we’d end up burning a lot of bridges very quickly and might also forget to take proper physical care of ourselves. However, there’s a line that can be crossed, after which our self-criticisms are no longer healthy but actually harm our mental and emotional health. Like Millie, I know I’m a “big” talker – “could talk underwater” and all that. Sometimes external criticism of my verbosity results, even if meant in a gentle/helpful way. So I start trying to monitor my own output more. Sometimes that works – but as soon as I become excited/ passionate about something, then I talk more again. Afterwards I can be self-critical and worry that I’ve talked too much or been too opinionated. Lately I’ve noticed this occurs now after seemingly mundane conversations. But that’s not really healthy, is it?

I’ve been given strategies to help monitor my rate of talking to the other person or persons in the conversation – like, “only reveal as much about yourself as the other person does about themselves” as part of a give-and-take conversational process. These are given because I tend to be a bit more self-expressive than some others around me – and so I’m told to monitor it, lest I wear out my welcome too much. Or at least, that’s what it seems to me. It does create another worry though – “have I said too much about myself?” … but “too much” is different for different people, really.

I think I need to break free of some of these “conversation scripts”. Though I should say, I understand that those scripts were given to try and help me – they weren’t meant in a nasty way or anything. The other day, my boyfriend gave me a new perspective on that, by reminding me that we all see life through our own experiences/personalities. When I do something that’s a bit “out there” (i.e. obviously extraverted), the people around me who are less inclined to be comfortable “cringe on my behalf” at how I’m exposing myself. This leads some of them to try and make me aware of how that seems so that I can “protect myself” from potential embarrassment. Often in the past I haven’t quite got that, because I’m comfortable being a little bit “out there” – so the message, while appreciated, can end up making me feel like I’m being asked to box myself up. I don’t really know how not to be extraverted – though as I’ve grown up I’ve become more aware of the appropriate times, shall we say.

I realised something when thinking about this the other day. No friends have ever told me I need to shut up and let others speak or anything. And since entering uni I haven’t really experienced the old “I’m going to pretend to listen but really just think you’re weird” reaction that used to occur at times in high school among peers. Even then, though, I still had a group of friends who didn’t seem to care if I occasionally got a bit long-winded.

We all want to be liked – that’s where a lot of the self-criticism can stem from, our fears of being liked causing us to feel awkward when we express ourselves. I saw this summarised in a really beautiful way when rereading another blog post (from the wishingwell): sometimes, we have to let other people judge us, or rather let the possibly of judgement not stop us from being true to ourselves. To quote directly:

“accepting that what other people think of you is none of your business. … Ultimately, if I’m living according to my values and the values of my chosen community, it shouldn’t matter if I’m “weird.” Whatever that means.”

This also means accepting our own emotions, which I’ve touched on in previous blog posts. Here’s a great blogpost from Brianna about the power of tears. Emotional tears can actually help reduce stress, due to the way they facilitate the release of certain hormones, did you know? Those effects are increased, too, if the crying person is given emotional/ social support rather than condemnation…

I think it’s just a matter of finding the right balance between talking and listening, being “out there” and stepping back. Like I talked about last week, I’m aware of that. We’re all works-in-progress…we just need to cut ourselves and each other some slack.