Indira, I Do

I was inspired, earlier this year, by Indira Naidoo. Not, as you might think, to become an awesome writer or journalist (which would make sense, because she is awesome at these things), but – to make a salad made from plants on my balcony.

Some wonderful friends gave me a copy of Indira’s book, The Edible Balcony. The title of which, when you first hear it, makes you think (or at least makes me think) of the Homer Simpson episode where he dreams of the land of chocolate, and everything, including the houses – and balconies one would expect – are made from chocolate. This is not the kind of edible balcony we are talking about here.

Indira’s book is about growing food on your balcony. When I got the book, I’d dabbled in a little herbal growing. You know, basil from the fruit shop, and a bit of mint. The idea that I could grow actual veggies and stuff, well – that was kinda cool. It seemed especially cool after throwing out yet another fridge full of soggy week old green stuff, that had once resembled vegetables, but now looked like it came from another planet. There must be a better way.

So I decided I should take Indira’s advice:

You Grow Girl

I would grow my own.

I started with some seedlings, and lettuce – and for a many months now I have been able to make my salad for work each, day purely from the spoils of my balcony. Not only is it saving me money, it tastes awesome! And I’m sure it’s healthier. How much fresher can you get, picked that morning to eat a few hours later?

With Spring here, I decided the Balcony Garden needed a re-vamp. I’m pretty pleased with the efforts.

full balcony

My new thing – growing from seed (no – they are not just pots of dirt, there are seeds in there). My thinking is – its cheaper (seeds are really cheap), and I’ll get more plants for my money. The only problem is, its also slower, so I might have to top up my greens from the store in the meantime. Mmm.

There is something enormously satisfying about eating something you have grown yourself. But somehow it is even better to sit on your balcony, sipping a coffee, surrounded by your own little mini-farm. Its amazing what a few plants can do to a space.

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Ten minutes spent watering my plants is a very peaceful, meditative start to the day.

I’ve grown to love it.

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Climbing Thursday

I think Thursdays might be becoming my favourite night of the week.

Indoor rock climbing after work, with good folk. Home in time for a summer dessert treat (Frosty Fruit is the current favourite), a little Star Trek, warm shower – and finishing up with some good Deep Heat action.

The thing is, nothing really beats a little natural adrenaline – well not for me anyway. Some people’s buzz of choice is substance induced, drugs or alcohol*, for others its the endorphins from a long run, swim or bike ride. Some even get a buzz from buying new stuff. Or dosing up on sugar. But for me – I need a little fear.

I love travelling. But what I really love, is the buzz of walking out into a city I’ve never been to before. The thrill of being somewhere completely foreign, where you can’t even understand what is being spoken, or read the street signs. The excitement of finding out what is around the corner, a corner you’ve never seen before.

It is scary. What you find is not always good. Its not always interesting. But its new.

I love the scary.

Indoor rock climbing is pretty tame as far as adventures are concerned. You are inside for one thing. You don’t even have to worry about the weather. You are strapped in and safe. You have to try pretty hard to really hurt yourself.

But you are climbing up a wall. And there is something instinctive about being 20 feet off the ground that gets the heart racing. Throw in a few overhangs, the feeling of your foot slipping – hanging from one arm trying desperately to reach the next hold… and you have it. That natural little adrenaline rush, that makes you know you’re alive.

And it doesn’t give you a hangover, or make you fat, or hurt your budget.

In fact, its kind of good for you. Works the muscles and all that. And thinking through a climb is kind of like doing a puzzle with your body. Good for the brain.

Thursdays. The day before Friday, with a little adrenaline thrown in.

 

*Ok – I’m a little partial to the alcohol. Just a little.

Classic Spanish

As it turns out, nothing really comes past a Classic Spanish.

You can try all the non-food rewards you like. But at the end of the day, a Classic Spanish is… the best. Better than mojitos, better than Sav Blanc. Its the awesome, pleasure inducing treat that tops them all.

I’ve been thinking about it all day. And I decided to wait – it was Friday night, I would wait, and have my wine, and tapas, and good chats with my friends, and wine. All awesome, good, Friday night stuff. I did all this, but still it was on my mind.

The Classic Spanish.

So – after Book Club, after the awesome walking chats and wines, I headed over to the chocolate cafe and… bliss.

Hot, melted chocolate with cream on top. The feel of it is still fresh on my tongue, the taste lingering in my mouth.

Have you ever known such pleasure? It was worth waiting the week to get to. Worth walking for hours with my pack on my back.

The Classic Spanish. Pure pleasure.

Classic Spanish

I think I’m addicted to Deep Heat

As I am writing this, I am enjoying a warm comforting glow, spreading across my hips. It is truly sensational.

I have been searching for years for a non-food* reward. You know how it is – you go out, do all that good exercise stuff – and then you are starving! And you think – I deserve a little reward… and the best reward is, well food. Or more precisely chocolate.

I’ve found something better. Yes – even better than chocolate.

Deep HeatIt is so good. So good that I think I am addicted to the cosy warmness. The comforting, relaxing, gooey heat, spreading across my tired (and so deserving) muscles, oozing, creeping gently…

Ok. You get the picture. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. You’ll sleep like a baby.

And the best thing is – its not food (actually, it would be a really bad idea to eat it – don’t do that). So technically its guilt free.

At least until someone tells me why its bad for me in some way. Please don’t do that.

Let me wallow in the Deep Heat after glow just a little while longer.

*Blueberries don’t count. Promise.

It all started with new Hiking Boots

About three weeks ago, there was a sale on at an outdoor store in the city. I thought I would go and check it out, on the off chance that I could get some new hiking boots at a good price. My hopes weren’t high because, as we all know, the good stuff is never usually on sale – and certainly not in your size.

But – miracles do happen. I found some – truly awesome – hiking boots, in my size – at 50% off! I was so excited I was like a kid with new soccer boots. I wanted to wear them all the time. I stopped short of wearing them to bed.

Hiking Boots

And since then, I’ve been walking. Walking home from work. Walking with my pack. Walking. Walking. Walking. And enjoying every minute of it.

Not only have I been walking, I’m back up to full pack weight – 20 kgs. So I’m truly adventure ready.

Bring it on!

So beautiful, it made me cry

It is so easy to forget how much beauty there is in the world.

Sabadell, placa de Sant Roc : 6pm, 19th May 2012

 

The first time I saw this, it brought me to tears. I wondered – why? What is it about this, that is so incredibly moving, so powerful, that it cuts through – to touch you? Is it the music? Yes, the music is beautiful. But it is not just that. Is it the surprise? Yes, the spontaneity and surprise makes it feel somehow surreal, dreamlike. But it is more than this.

These musicians did not just create beautiful music. They tapped passers by on the shoulder and said ‘stop a moment – I have something to give you.’ And then they each gave a most beautiful part of themselves.

As you see one more person drawn in, one more person notice, one more person moved – you can see the amazement and wonder on their faces, that this beautiful gift – is being given to them. Then you feel the joy building. Among the musicians, among the people watching – within yourself.

The musician’s simple gift is multiplied – exploding in pure joy.

The power of kindness.

Be Amazed.

Just when you think the world has become plastic, packaged, when everything around you seems fake and tacky, something comes along that is so new, so fresh and so full of honest, raw beauty – you can’t help but fall, amazed, in awe.

Watch this.

Life is beautiful. Don’t forget it.

Katie Piper: Truly Inspirational

Inspirational is the only word to describe Katie Piper. I picked up her book, Things Get Better, at the airport on a whim, something I will be eternally grateful for. Her story is that amazing.

In 2008, Katie Piper was the victim of a vicious rape and acid attack, which resulted in Katie losing half her face and caused severe damage to her internal organs (from breathing in the acid). The thought of this is so shocking, so horrifying, many of us will look away from even the text on the page. But I urge you to read on.

We are left thinking: How could anyone want to live after that? How could you possibly go on?

The honest truth is, many people would not. Many of us despair at much less. It is Katie’s story of how she fought through her despair, her physical pain, her humiliation, that is truly awe inspiring.

Unlike so many so called ‘inspirational’ stories I have read, as impressive and inspiring as they are, Katie is completely honest and open about how truly despairing she was after the attack. Katie talks about how the first step in living, is wanting to live.

I think for anyone who has ever struggled with life, this is important to hear. The physical and emotional pain Katie went through was more than any of us would want to imagine. She was at absolute rock bottom in every possible physical and emotional way. And it was for a long time. There was a lot to endure, a lot of pain, a lot of fear, a lot of humiliation… for a long time. There was no easy way, no short cuts, and lots of set backs.

Katie’s story shows us that it is possible to get through even this, possible to survive. Step by step, small piece by small piece, the human spirit can overcome and achieve amazing things.

By no means is Katie’s life now easy, or even pain free. Katie admits to still struggling with many things in her life, both emotionally and physically. But Katie also tells us that she has true joy and happiness in her life, and that her life has meaning and purpose. What is truly inspiring is not that Katie has survived, but that she has gone on to truly flourish.

If ever you are thinking you cannot go on, if it is all too much to bear, read Katie’s book.

You can go on, you can endure. But more importantly, you can flourish.

Katie Piper, The Katie Piper Foundation http://www.katiepiperfoundation.org.uk

To find our more about Katie Piper, her story and her amazing work with her charity, check out the The Katie Piper Foundation‘s website. You can also follow Katie on Twitter @KPFoundation.

Adventure Ready

I’m ready for adventure – literally. I’ve just removed six leeches from my legs after completing a 15 kilometre (undulating…) walk with a 16kg pack – and I feel good.

Even though I have been training to ready myself for walking the Jatbula Trail, which means training up to carry a full pack weight, I wasn’t actually sure I would be feeling good right now. Today was the assessment walk for our little group, and I was nervous when I set out this morning. I had walked with 16kg during training – but not for six hours.

In true adventure style – it rained for a good chunk of our walk. My feet were soaked. Leeches were everywhere. But it was great. Maybe even awesome.

The bush smells beautiful in the rain. The birds were singing. The water balanced on the leaves, sparkling in the light.

My legs are tired, but good tired. My shoulders aren’t sore and I have no major blisters. And the leeches – well they were truly gross. But I walked my 15 kilometres with my full pack – and now I truly feel ready for adventure.

Can’t wait for Jatbula… and the rest…