moments of stillness

In recent times (I feel like I start a lot of posts with that phrase or something similar, but I suppose it makes sense to be writing about recent happenings), I’ve been reflecting about my “moments of stillness”. After seeing this post on what is probably one of my most favourite blogs, Campari & Sofa (which may be unexpected because I’m not necessarily in their target demographic, age-wise, but, then again, I have been called an “old soul” before), I decided it was time for a post on this.

The article in the post that really caught my attention was number three, which is about the Time Wasting Experiment conducted by Alyson Provax. The Experiment involved recording/documenting all the ways in which she wasted time each day, including for how long she wasted time doing those things. Sounds like a lot of work to me, but also quite fascinating.

It seems that “there’s not enough time” has become the mantra of the modern world. Often I’ve had conversations with friends where we discuss how much better life would be if we didn’t have to waste time sleeping/eating/waiting/etc – if we could take every minute from each lot of 24 hours and use them for something productive, enjoyable, memorable, worthwhile.

(Note that I do not agree that eating is a waste of time (unless the meal is bad), even though I have been known to eat incredibly slowly. If I could actually eat more (and not gain weight), I’d be qutie happy. Sleep is also good, but it’d be nice to be able to survive on, say, four hours of sleep every night. I’m not known to sleep in – even on week-ends – but any less than six hours of sleep, and chances are I’ll be struggling a bit the next day.)

Back to my “moments of stillness”: This is the term I’ve given to those random meditative day-dreams I have each day, sometimes several times a day. In these moments, I feel like my mind is both perfectly still and also wandering, searching, drifting. Often I’m also physically still – maybe lying in bed, sitting on the bus, standing in the shower, or pausing somewhere to gaze at clouds – but I reckon it also happens a lot when I’m running or walking. Even so, “moments of stillness” just feels like the best term for it.

I wonder if this is what it’s like to meditate, except that I’m very aware during these moments.

In these moments, I know that I’m not doing anything: I’m not progressing toward an obvious goal, and there’s no measurable outcome for what I’m doing. Yet, I continue to have these moments of stillness, and then later lament that I don’t have time for this or that. Unlike Provax, I’ve never timed these moments, but I reckon they last anywhere from half a minute to… well, who knows…

But they’re not a waste of time; I don’t consider them so, anyway. Perhaps they’re not essential for my mental well-being (there have undoubtedly been many times when they’ve helped, but certainly many times when they’ve hindered) but I’m yet to experience any regret post-MOS. The items on Alyson Provax’s list all seem to carry an element of regret, and I suppose that that might be a key determinant of whether something is a waste of time or not.

Another factor seems to be displacement: whether you actually get somewhere, or whether you end up back where you started. Yeah, I suppose a lot of the time my thoughts are the same fears, worries and anxieties being rehashed, so these moments seemingly provide zero displacement. But if I’m re-visiting a fear to allow my mind to return to a state of ease, that’s justifiable, right? Other times, though, my mind wanders to the day ahead. In these moments, I kind of psych myself up for what’s to come. (That probably makes my life sound way more dramatic/traumatic than it actually is.) Sometimes my moments of stillness give way to lightbulb moments.

And going back to the “no time” lament: I once read somewhere that if you really want to do something, if you really want to get something done, you will make time for it. I can’t remember where I read it (probably on someone’s blog, actually) but it is so true. I mean, you probably can’t apply it to everything (practicality and logistics enter into it too) but certainly for small things – reading, writing, baking, exercise, catching up with friends – you can organise your day/week/month to allow yourself time for the things you really want to do (and still have time for some moments of stillness).

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Usually after I finish reading a book, I write a post about it. It’s a way to share the things I loved about each book, and a way for me to keep a record of what I’ve been reading.

This week, I finished reading Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. As much as I enjoyed the book, I don’t feel compelled to write a post about it. I feel like it’s well-known enough that those who should read it, will read it; it doesn’t need to come with a recommendation from me.

I watched the movie version a long time ago (maybe a few years ago) and I honestly don’t remember much from it other than random, fragmented scenes. I do know, however, that I liked the film enough to add the book to my TBR list. I know also, now, that the book and film are quite different, but I’m not sure which I prefer. (If it makes sense, I’m sort of comparing the after-effects of each, rather than the actual content. It seems that I’m much better at remembering the emotions I’m left with after finishing a book/film than I am at remembering the actual details of the story.)

Let’s just say that I’m glad that I have my own copy of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (bought it at the Lifeline Bookfest for just $1 or something) because I have a feeling that I’ll re-read it at some stage in my life, or I might want to lend it to a friend. If nothing else, there’s something comforting about glancing over at my bookshelf and seeing it nestled there amongst my other favourite books. It can be my cure for the mean reds.

So…Uh…That’ll Be All

I don’t reblog often, but this post pretty much sums up one of the things I like best about blogging. It’s like you took the thoughts straight out of my mind, so it’s only right that I reblog them, right…? Thanks for sharing scraps of your soul too!

Crumbling Moons

Hello. I don’t know much about you. Any of you. And you don’t know much about me—sure you’re reading this which I suppose is a part of my soul, but you don’t know me. You don’t know the kind of nightmares I have or the things I like; you don’t know that I have a tiny scar on my nose or that my sister once bit me hard enough to draw blood (she’s an animal. A bloody animal) And I don’t know you. Maybe your sister bit you sharp enough to draw blood once upon a time, maybe you have a glorious pink alarm clock and maybe you think the cereal companies are in on a conspiracy too.

Point is, I don’t know you and you don’t know me and yet we still do. You read the crap I write and—if you have a blog too—I rifle through…

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happiness in the form of cake and cold mornings

I am absolutely loving this cold weather we’re having right now. It’s pretty much right in the middle of winter, so it’s perfect. I was really getting worried that we wouldn’t get a proper winter at all this year, but – ta da! – here it is.

To clarify, “cold” here is about 4-6 degrees Celsius overnight. (I’m not too sure what the daytime maximum has been because I actually don’t check the weather reports much, and I’m inside all day, anyway.) This morning was perfect: beautiful blue sky streaked with wispy clouds, no/minimal wind, and the air fogging up in front of me with every breath… If I could’ve taken the morning off work just to sit in the sunshine and read a book, or just do some cloud-gazing while sipping a cup of coffee, I think that would’ve been a morning well-spent.

But I had an important delivery to make.

Yesterday, two colleagues of mine were just having a bit of playful banter (nothing unusual). I happened to be in the vicinity, so was brought into it, and got asked to bring in food for one of them, “for tomorrow”, which was today. This went back and forth for a bit, then evolved into bringing cake in, and we were all deflecting the responsibility, and the result was inconclusive (two of us had finished for the day and were on our way out).

On my way home, I thought about it some more, Googled some recipes, and found a simple one for sticky date pudding. I’d settled on sticky date pudding for two reasons: (1) I knew I had plenty of dates at home, and (2) GI said she’d never had sticky date pudding before.

Once I was at home, I was actually a bit ambivalent about the whole thing. It was already a bit late by the time I finished dinner… I needed to sleep earlier… No one was really expecting me to act on this request for cake… But I thought about it some more and, in the time it took to clean up the kitchen a bit while watching MasterChef, I’d made up my mind: this pud was getting baked tonight!

I might post the recipe, but this is not about the recipe or the baking process. There are two things I want to remember from this:

One: As Marco Pierre White (who’s been a guest mentor on MasterChef this week) says: “A good cook cooks for others”. I think the cooking experience is more enjoyable and more purposeful when cooking for a particular friend or family member. Whether the end product turns out better…? Well, I suppose it’s been proven true time and again.

Two: This is something I learnt from a friend (I credit it to her, anyway), and was probably the main reason why I decided to just go ahead and make this impromptu cake. I think that it’s kind of somewhere between that mantra of “being as nice as you can, to as many people as you can, in as many ways as you can” and the one about living with no regrets. Basically, I asked myself if I would regret attempting to make this cake more than I would regret missing this opportunity to do something nice for someone who’s been absolutely delightful to work with. (Side note: there’s no real special occasion for this, hence “impromptu cake”.)

Well, the answer was obvious and, despite getting to bed later than I should have, and having a bit of a restless night’s sleep (my subconscious always worries a lot about whether people will like my creations; also, it was a tad chilly last night), I do not regret my decision in the least. Not because she said it was delicious or because another colleague said it’s probably the best cake I’ve ever brought in to work – well, ok, partly for those reasons… but mostly because of how almost-childishly-happy she was when she discovered that I’d actually gone ahead and made the sticky date pudding just for her.

cum laude

Ok, so… umm… I don’t usually do “blog award” stuff but since I’ve now received a nomination for “The Beautiful Blogger Award” after having not-too-long-ago received a nomination for “The Versatile Blogger Award”, I thought that maybe I should actually kind of participate in some respect… I actually received both nominations from the creative genius behind “Finding my Opti in this mist”, so I suppose I’m doing something right, right? (To Wide-eyed, sorry about all these ping-backs (not really sorry) but it’s how I’m showing my gratitude. Thanks for thinking of my blog in relation to these awards!)

Conveniently, both awards basically just require that I thank the person who nominated me, list seven random facts about myself, and then nominate some other people. That last step seems kind of optional from what I’ve seen on other sites, so I’m just going to kind of nominate people. By this I mean that I’m going to use my “posts I like” widget (AKA the “What I’ve been reading” list on the side of my blog) as my nominations list. They each link to the respective posts, so it still counts, right?

Also conveniently, this list features exactly seven blogs (at the time of writing this, they are all different, too!) and that’s the number of blogs I’m meant to nominate for the Beautiful Blogger Award (?). Well, one was seven, the other was 15 or something. I don’t know if I actually read 15 different blogs… I probably do but, you know, who’s counting… The other great thing is that, since this list is updated whenever I “like” another post, the nominees will constantly change. One blog could even be nominated seven times if they are just that amazing!

Anyway… with those two things out of the way, I’m just going to give you seven random facts about me, and leave it at that:

  1. I have lived in the same house my entire life (obviously, this excludes places I’ve stayed at while on holidays, sleepovers, etc)
  2. I once founded a Secret Society but then I didn’t really do anything with it, so it sort of faded away (or perhaps that’s just what I want you to think…)
  3. I own way too many books relative to the space I have and the speed at which I read
  4. For some reason, I have a vivid memory of a toy bat (like a fruit bat or something) that I had when I was in grade 2 or 3, which I lost one day, and was really upset about it.
  5. If I’m eating out, and the restaurant has a dish with scallops or lamb, I’ll almost always order that/those dishes. (I’m thankful for the friends who know this and can order for me if I’m running late.)
  6. My most favourite movie ever is “The Lion King”.
  7. I once knitted a scarf for a friend, but that was a long time ago and I can never remember how to “cast on” (is that the right term for the initial part?)

Bonus fact: writing that list was harder than I anticipated. I was trying to make each fact about something different, and also something I probably haven’t mentioned on this blog before.

aquila audax

I mentioned in my previous post that I was considering writing a post dedicated to the wedge-tailed eagle, my most favourite animal, so that’s basically what I’m going to do here.

From a very young age, I’ve had a fascination with birds. I remember as a kid, I had a poster of various Australian birds. It was a lift-out from the newspaper, so it faded over time, and I eventually took it down (and replaced it with a postcard mural), but it was there, on the wall above my bed, for many years. I’m not sure what it is that I really like about birds, but I have a few theories.

For one, they are beautiful. They are unusual but they are beautiful. Secondly, they can fly – something that we humans could never execute or replicate with the same finesse. Note here that I don’t have a great affinity for flightless birds (emus, penguins and the like). I mean, they’re ok – I don’t have anything specifically against them – but, to me, they don’t compare to birds that fly.

Of course, there are probably birds out there that I just do not like at all. I just can’t think of any right now.

I used to wonder if my affinity for birds was related to my desire for freedom, or if it had something to do with my fear of falling (I’m ok with heights as long as I’m confidently secure, so I consider it a fear of falling rather than of heights). As a kid, I particularly liked birds of prey. Perhaps that’s saying something too… But then I also liked more peaceable birds. Yes, despite their ubiquity, their reputation as “rats of the sky”, their general lack of anything that usually recommends an animal to “favourite” status – despite all this, I like pigeons. Such simple, unassuming creatures they are.

I was going to include an actual picture of a wedge-tailed eagle but I couldn't decide which one of the many Google results was the best photo, so I'm just giving you my trademark stick pigeon that I drew in about five seconds on Paint.

I was going to include an actual picture of a wedge-tailed eagle but I couldn’t decide which one of the many Google results was the best photo, so I’m just giving you my trademark stick pigeon that I drew in about five seconds on Paint.

But amongst all of these birds, one always stood out for me: the wedge-tailed eagle.

While reading “The Anatomy of Wings” (by Karen Foxlee), I mentioned to a few colleagues that small detail about the protagonist (Jenny) having the same favourite animal as me. I was then asked a few questions about the wedge-tailed eagle (you know, just out of interest), and I realised that I actually didn’t know a whole lot about them.

I probably knew a lot more about them at some stage in my life (probably in my high school years when I had better access to resources that could tell me a lot about them, and when I had time to read such things) but that day at the lunch table at work, I couldn’t confidently recite any facts about the wedge-tailed eagle. A bit concerning, maybe, but I don’t think it’s a big deal.

Nevertheless, this prompted me to question why it is, indeed, my most favourite animal.

At one point, I wondered if it was kind of similar to how (I would presume) Americans might like bald eagles because it’s an iconic American bird. (The “audax” part of the wedge-tailed eagle’s scientific name translates to “bold”, which is kind of similar/close…) But the wedge-tailed eagle doesn’t feature on our coat of arms, or on any sort of official emblems and such. So it’s probably not a patriotic thing. (If patriotism had anything to do with it, I’d probably like emus more. Not that I don’t like them, but they can be scary. Cassowaries too.)

As a kid, I probably just thought they looked cool. They’re such mighty, majestic birds: so much power in their talons, so much strength in their wings. Perhaps, then, they are a sentimental favourite: they made such a big impression on me as a kid that I’ve just liked them ever since. This is very possible.

What else is odd, however, is that I don’t really have anything to show or suggest that I like wedge-tailed eagles. Sure, toy stores don’t exactly sell plush eagles and whatnot like they do for dogs and tigers and bears, but if you went through all of my things, I doubt you’d find anything eagle-related, let alone wedge-tailed eagle-related. You’re more likely to think that owls or cats were my most favourite animal. (I do like owls and cats, though, so that’s ok, I guess.)

In “The Anatomy of Wings”, Jenny says she doesn’t really have a definite reason why wedge-tailed eagles are her favourite bird. They just are. I guess the reason doesn’t really matter; there doesn’t have to be an explanation. Wedge-tailed eagles are my favourite animals just because.