I love him, his smile, and the kitchen sink

Lovers on a hill

You can look at Valentine ’s Day as just another schlocky excuse to buy more stuff that we don’t need. (Although frankly, I ALWAYS need more chocolate and flowers, so even this pessimistic definition doesn’t really hold up.)

And while my boyfriend and I don’t ‘celebrate’ Valentine’s Day in the sense of fancy dinners or long-stemmed roses, we do celebrate it in terms of taking the time to seriously express that most glorious and engaging of all emotions: love.

I love talking about love. I love declaring my love out loud. On a normal day, I would tell my boyfriend I love him about 7 times. At least. I can’t help it – I’m a lexical creature who lives and breathes in words.

It’s not that I sling it around randomly or haphazardly – it took me a long time to build up to saying it for the first time. But as soon as I knew… Well, that was it. The sentence now springs from my tongue naturally, as an organic extension of how I feel.

And I feel love a lot.

Which took him a little while to get used to, not being a fanciful, word-fuelled being like me. He’s more your down to earth, straight-up, practical sort of person. A what-you-see-is-what-you-get, let’s-make-this-shit-happen kind of guy.

Which I love. With all my heart. To parts and pieces.

On normal days, he knows how much I love to say and hear those three magic words. And so he says it a whole heap too, because he knows it makes me happy. Even though he doesn’t need to say it as much as I do. Even though he doesn’t need to hear it as much as I do. (He’s a good egg like that.)

So imagine my excitement on Valentine’s Day. When I can really let loose on the love-laden overtures and the public displays of verbal affection. It’s the one day of the year It’s one of many days of the year where I feel fully justified in stepping up my romantic inclinations. Til they’re full blown and full volume.

Loud and proud, baby.

Luckily Unfortunately for my boy, he happens to be away today. And for the next week. He went back to work yesterday and won’t return til next Wednesday. By which time the roses and chocolates and Hallmark cards will have well and truly disappeared from the stores. (Hell, there’ll probably be a whole aisle of Easter Eggs by then.)

So of course we’ll have a sentiment-filled phone chat tonight. Perhaps a sweet text or two during the day. But that’s really not enough for someone like me, on this most venerable of days.

The next best thing? Declaring my love for him to the blogosphere.

Of course.

Because gushing geysers of love are a good thing. Because sharing love lifts us all up. Because if we all slung more love-bombs, the world might be a better place.

So here goes.

An ode to my Valentine…

He is amazing and wonderful and lights me up in ways I never knew I could be lit.

He cares for me in a way that blows my mind, and he gets me in a way that helps me understand myself.

Sometimes, he looks at me with this gorgeous goofy smile that makes me So Friggen Happy because I know it’s his super-crazy-happy-in-love smile and I know that no one else gets that particular smile. It’s our smile.

He listens to my musings, he makes me laugh til my belly hurts, and he cleans the little bits of detritus out of the kitchen sink hole (which shouldn’t really matter that much and yet somehow seems massively indicative of the kind of beautiful creature and partner he is).

He is generous and thoughtful; he is gorgeous and grounded.

He’s the stillness to my flurry, the ease to my hurry.

He is amazing and I love him.

To parts and pieces.

Real love, the third year.

Splashing feet

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

This week, my beautiful boyfriend and I celebrated our three year anniversary.

I am still blown away all the time by how wonderful and amazing and gorgeous he is…

And how wonderful-amazing-gorgeous love is. Seeing another for who they really are and knowing that they see you — and love you — for who you really are? Pretty awesome.

Just like the Skin Horse and the Velveteen Rabbit, together, you become Real…

Hugs 2

You spin my head right round, right round

Swirling thoughts

Oh Flo Rider, ye of the overt sexual references! How it pains me to say that your poetic stylings are the most apt description of where my head’s at right now!

For nearly two weeks, I have had a constant dizziness underpinning everything. I’m talking room spinning, knee buckling, head swirling dizziness. And it’s as though my head is hungover – I’ve felt fuzzy, nauseous and completely unable to concentrate on anything.

Eventually, I got my butt to the doctor, and was diagnosed with benign positional vertigo. Which is a longwinded way of saying that I’m dizzy, but it’ll pass. (Which is good, ‘cos while I was consulting Dr Google, I came across a bunch of people who live with dizziness and vertigo permanently. Which is a truly horrifying prospect).

Anyway, during this time of feeling less-than-stellar, I’ve had to manage my energies really carefully. I still have deadlines and client work and Things That Must Be Done, yet have only had small windows during the day where I’ve felt able to actually accomplish them. Able to actually look at a computer screen.

And the result has actually been quite eye-opening. I still got most of the same stuff done as I do normally. Which means that normally, I’ve been wasting a whole lotta time…

Here are 6 things I’ve learned.

1. When you don’t have a lot of time, you get shit done faster.
Call it the law of ‘why bother starting uni assignments early, when you’ll still be doing them at the last minute anyway’. Or you know, get all scientific and call it Parkinson’s law: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. I didn’t have a lot of time, so I worked smarter.

2. Priorities are key.
When you’ve got limited capacity, you have to make tough choices about where to focus your energy. I kept making decisions that gave me the best bang for my limited buck. And it paid off. Ordinarily, I find it all too easy to get caught up in the minutiae. Instead I kept asking myself this question: what is the single, most elegant thing I can do today to take me forwards with the most momentum? (Hat tip to the lovely Jia Ni Teo for sharing this insightful question with me!)

3. Getting off social media makes me oh-so-much more productive.
Because I knew I didn’t have time to procrastinate on Facebook, I didn’t. I’m definitely going to look into social media management apps to help me manage my time moving forwards.

4. Perfection is the enemy of done.
Ordinarily, I proofread things a dozen times. Even things that don’t really matter. I write and rewrite and check and recheck. But all of a sudden, I didn’t have the time or energy for that. And of course, everything was fine. Nobody died. Or cared. And I got stuff done a lot faster. Sometimes, trying to get things perfectly just ends up cramping our productivity and stifling our flow. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

5. Sometimes pushing through is not the answer.
I’ve always been one to make myself keep pushing in order to Finish and/or Achieve and/or Win. Once, when I was a kid, I decided I was going to rollerblade all the way from the holiday house we were staying at to the Lighthouse 2 kms away. For no reason, other than just to do it. After a few minutes, my feet started burning. But I’d said I was going to do it, so I finished. When I finally got home and collapsed on the lawn, I pulled off the rollerblade boots to find that I had rubbed my feet so raw that they were blistered and bleeding ALL OVER. I had mistaken that burning as being the type of pain I should push through. Instead, it was the type of pain that should have made me stop and reassess and perhaps withdraw. I couldn’t swim in the ocean for a three days after that incident, because the salt water hurt my half-flayed feet so badly.

With this little excursion into crazy-pants dizziness, pushing through just made me feel worse. I figured out pretty quickly that it wasn’t worth it. There was no badge of honour to be achieved by forcing my way through it. Better to just admit – as much as it pains me – that sometimes, we can’t perform at our peak (or indeed, anywhere near our peak). Sometimes we need to pull out, sit down, bench ourselves. Sometimes we need to cut ourselves some slack and just chill the frick out.

And all of that’s okay.

6. You have to let yourself rest.
Weirdo viral things like this are a brick thrown by the Universe saying ‘Bloody well go to bed at a decent hour and stop living on caffeine and sugar. Please.’ I ignored the whispers from my body for too long, so it took me down to make sure I listened. Message from the future: heed the whispers to avoid the great, walloping bricks. Even though I felt horribly lazy and slothful and panicky (oh my God, I’ll never catch up on all my work) by just lying down and resting, that is exactly what needed to be done. Otherwise I’d just dig myself further into my hole. Sometimes you can’t make yourself better by doing stuff, you just have to let go, rest, and just be.

How do you cope with work / life / the Universe when you are less than your best? Share your wisdom in the comments!

Links to Love

Breathe it in

1. ‘Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.’ So starts this awesome piece by Seth Adam Smith. Made me a little teary.

2. ‘The real reason you’re stuck in a rut‘. My gorgeous friend Lizzie just made her first (of what is sure to be many!) appearances on the Huffington Post with this great article.

3. Books are my favourite thing to give (other than hugs, of course!). This month, we had the birthdays of two special little nieces, aged two and three. My boyfriend (happily) relinquished the present-shopping duties to me, and I straight away went searching online to find some cool-ass picture books. Now, being the person that I am, all the books that I give need to have meaning. To be special and magical and life-changing-ly poignant. So in my searching, I was THRILLED TO BITS to discover this list of 6 princess books for parents who hate princesses. All of the books have beautiful messages in them — from the princess who refuses to be rescued because she can rescue herself, to the princess who leaves the castle to follow her bliss (making pizza!). I promptly bought two of each for the two little girls. (At which my boyfriend said “Did you buy those books for the girls or for you?!”)

4. If you completely ignored your goals and focused on this one thing, would you get better results? This article from James Clear really made me think about how I work in a new way.

5. Just finished reading a great book put out by 99U and featuring a range of Very Cool Contributors. Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career is filled with bite-sized chapters on why we need to keep pushing — learning, taking risks, realigning, reevaluating and embracing uncertainty — if we want to succeed. At only $3.74 on Kindle, it’s definite bang for your buck. A favourite story from the book? Looking at famous failures and how their frustrations and defeats were breeding grounds for growth and success. Ever heard of Odeo? Me neither. It was a failed podcasting company developed by Evan Williams. The next thing he developed? Twitter. Boom.

Have you found anything awesome on the interwebs this week? Let me know below in the comments!

[Image courtesy of the lovely Paul Jarvis]

Quiet as the default setting

Connected to nature

As someone with a tendency to overanalyse, over-emote and overthink EVERYTHING, I have found that it’s best to set up little practices in my daily routine that help me make a little room for peace and quiet inside me. That set me up for space rather than stress.

One such tweak that is super simple and effective is turning your car radio off every time you finish driving.

Seriously!

Background noise is insidious. That’s its entire point – that you don’t notice it. But make no mistake, you’re still taking it in. That’s why radio advertising is a multi-million (billion?) dollar business. Because our heads and hearts slowly take on all the noise that they throw at us through our speakers. It fills us up and we don’t even know it.

Now, I love rocking out to the latest Lorde track as much as anyone. Listening to music while driving can be fun and uplifting and a totally kick-ass way to pass the time.

But I like to make the conscious choice to do it, and to control my consumption.

For example, I never listen to the radio during my commute to work. Morning time is when I am especially porous. I feel just that little bit delicate. Energetically vulnerable. I have to be careful what I’m surrounding myself with in those first few hours, so that I make sure I’m setting myself up for a day of peace and productivity, not stress and rushed-off-my-feet busy-ness. Morning radio does not serve me, and I prefer to drive either in silence, or if necessary, with some carefully chosen, quiet, delicate tunes from my media player (which, of course, are blissfully ad- and chatter-free).

However, if the radio has been left on since my last car trip, and starts up automatically, I won’t even notice it. I’ll get caught up in the chit-chat and the poppy music (and the endless ads), and won’t even be aware of it. My brain will follow it and engage with it and gnaw away at it like a golden retriever with a bone.

And then, when I get to work, I wonder why I don’t feel as centred as normal. As calm. As ready to start my day with focus and energy.

All because I didn’t give myself the mental space that I needed.

(Sidenote: Don’t even get me started on people who watch TV breakfast and news shows! My mum has them on in the background the entire time she’s getting ready. I feel like it’s an especially pervasive intrusion during an already busy period of the day… Can you tell I’m not a natural morning person?!)

I think that incorporating simple things into our daily routines that encourage us to be aware, to be present, can only be a good thing. And this is one such simple tweak that’s worth giving a whirl. Try switching off the radio every time you turn off the car. If you choose to switch it on during your next drive, that’s totally okay. But it will have been a conscious choice, one with just that skerrick more awareness than if the noise had just been thrust upon you.

And it’s those scraps and skerricks of awareness that make all the difference.

How do you protect your precious space? xo

Stop Wishing & Start Working:
a love-filled guide for writers, artists and other dreamers.

It’s here! I’m so excited to share this here ebook baby with you. It’s something that’s been bubbling away for months, and is now ready to flit its way into hearts, minds and iPads everywhere! (And PS, it’s totally free!)

Stop Wishing & Start Working
This ebook is about overcoming Resistance. It’s about doing the work and making it happen. It’s about getting from Big Idea to Actually Done. But not in a way that you’ve seen before…

Like a lot of creative types, I struggle to get my creative work out of my head and into the world. When I worked at my corporate job, that was fine. A convenient excuse, in fact. Vague assertions that I was partway through writing a book or trying to be a writer were never backed up by any actual action. I was ‘too busy’. During the week, there was ‘real work’ to be done and on weekends… Well, there was red wine to drink.

I clung onto my creative dreams, and belief that I was a writer – that’s what got me through my desk-job dreariness – but very little creative work actually got done.

Except in those glorious-but-fleeting moments when inspiration smacked me in the face with its giant glowstick.

Then I could write. Then the words simply flew out of me. In those wild-and-precious moments, I had a sneaky suspicion that I wasn’t a half-bad writer, and if I could actually get my ass in my chair more often, I could really make a go of it.

But of course, another six months of desk-job complacency drifted by without much change. It wasn’t until I made some Big Decisions – leaving my job, wandering the world, starting my own business – that things started to shift.

All of a sudden, there were no excuses.

I had to write. If I didn’t write, I wouldn’t get paid. I simply had to get it done.

Even with this magnificent motivation, Resistance was still an ever-present friend. It nestled in my neck-nook, telling me all the things that would be so much more fun to do than writing (from watching Law & Order reruns to cleaning out my undies drawer, and everything in between).

But slowly, I learned. Slowly, I figured it out. Slowly, I got my shiz together and got my writing done.

I don’t know about you, but drill-sergeant-style admonitions just don’t work for me. I need more than that. I’ve never been one for whipping myself into obedient action with harsh discipline and self-imposed punishment. (And when I have succeeded in doing so, it’s never lasted for long.)

I need a whole lot more lovin’ than that. I need the soul-sister-medicine-woman-Mama-Nature approach. With a side-serve of tough love, of the pretty-sparkly kind.

And I also need practical strategies.

Basically, I need to understand what’s going on inside my head, then use a carefully-crafted combination of self-love-but-no-B.S.

That’s what finally worked for me. And that’s what I share in this guide.

There’s a lot of love, a lot of myth-busting, a lot of down-and-dirty truths. And there’s real strategies to help you get it all done.

It’s for creative peeps of all sorts, whether you’re a writer, a baker or an organic candlestick-maker. Especially if you’ve got big dreams, a full heart and something to say. In fact, if you’re struggling to get anything done at all, this book is for you. This book can help.

And it’s totally free. My gift to you for being an amazing part of this online community. Sign up in the sidebar, and it will be winging its way towards you in seconds. For anyone who’s already signed up, it should already have landed in your inbox, so go and sink your teeth in.

Thank you so much for being a part of Sparrow & Sea. The amazing women that I meet through this here lil’ blog blow my mind and fill me up with heart-thumping gratitude. I couldn’t do it without you.

Sending cupcake-scented love from here to there,

 

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PS – If you enjoy the ebook, please drop me a line and let me know! I would love to connect, hear your story and find out what’s helped you stop wishing and start working! You’ll find me at jess (at) sparrowandsea (dot) com… All my love!

We’re losing our spaces

Thoughts swirling around

Remember how back in the old days, if you were waiting at the doctor’s surgery, you had to read three-year-old issues of Woman’s Day (Aaaaw, look at Tom and Katie still being robotically-awkward together before she made her Great Escape!)?

Remember when lining up at the check-out counter meant standing there being bored and eyeing off the Freddo Frogs and thinking about what was for dinner?

Remember when those spaces in between other, more important things, were just spent thinking or doodling or conversing or staring off into space?

Yeah, me too.

Now of course, we fill those moments up.

Relentlessly.

With technology. With social media. With frenetic, device-assisted doing.

So many moments, that once would have been vacant, are now filled.

And I am a prime example of this. The other day, my boyfriend and I were going toilet shopping for our currently-being-renovated bathroom. Previously, I had been under the (mistaken) impression that as long as a toilet was clean, white and flushable, then it was fine. But my Boy had other ideas and desires and Very Important Design Requirements. So whereas I would have happily pointed to the first reasonably-priced loo that met my eye, I knew that instead, we’d be up for an afternoon of discussions with salesmen about Bowl Size and Installation Specifications and Poo Ergonomics. (Okay, I made that last one up, but you get the idea.)

In short, I knew it was going to be a long, boring afternoon.

And then, disaster struck: as we set out on our drive to Bathroom Shop #1, I realised that I didn’t have my iPad with me.

And I got upset.

Seriously quite upset.

I began to worry, because it meant that I wouldn’t be able to check my emails, write blog posts, review my Google analytics, stay up-to-date with client communications, read that new book I’d just downloaded, organise my Evernote file or type my random thoughts into my Ideas document. For three whole hours, I’d have none of that.

It was an afternoon wasted.

I was consumed with the thought that I was being inefficient. That I was squandering time, wasting opportunities, that the world was speeding on without me and I would be Left Behind.

I kept this rising panic hidden though. Cos I’m ‘enlightened’ enough to know that it’s ridiculously stupid (but of course not enlightened enough to let it pass in the first place). I quashed my upset and refused to allow the panicky-petulant tantrum within me to burst forth. Instead, I was just vaguely terse and pissy to my boyfriend in that generic way that puzzles him and others of his kind so.

In short, my best credentials as Enlightened Being and Model Girlfriend were on display.

All because I couldn’t be productive for a few moments in between toilet bowls.

Of course I got over it. Of course I knew I was being stupid. Of course I talked myself down and reasoned myself out of it. But not before making myself feel like shit for close to an hour.

It led me to ponder:

When did we decide that every moment has to be productive?

When did we start to think that all our moments, all our spaces, needed to be filled up with doing?

When did we start to think that time spent waiting or in transit or just standing in line was a personal failing?

When I was able to make peace with (shock horror) the fact that I’d have to sit in bathroom showrooms without my ‘busy’ tools, I decided that there was only one thing to do: try to be in the moment.

Well that’s not true, there was another alternative: continue to stress about my lack of productivity, give off an aura of distress and generally make life fun for all those around me.

I took option one.

I looked at toilets graciously, and giggled with my boyfriend when we found ones with funny names, and made enough toilet/poo jokes to make a thirteen year-old boy proud. When Adam was off discussing specifics, I just sat there. Quiet. Still.

And totally, one hundred per cent fine.

I think giving our brains and hearts space around everything else we do — all the busy-ness — is probably really fricking important for our mental health. And although I’m a massive fan of meditation, I don’t even mean anything as structured as that.

I just mean a little revelling in a loose moment.

A little wallowing in mind-wandering, -wondering, -pondering.

A little recognition of the beauty of a random Tuesday afternoon spent doing nothing — something — anything.

And you know how this story ends, right? Nothing bad happened from my afternoon of spaciousness. I’d like to say that something awesome happened (like ‘while I was sitting on the edge of a gorgeous LooMaster Maxitron, staring off into space, a million-dollar idea for my next ebook popped into my head‘) but that wouldn’t be true. I didn’t even come up with an idea for dinner. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is a happy ending: nothing bad happened. I felt a little bit of space, a little bit of light and a little bit of free.

And it felt good.

Inner Space

Letting go of the feeling that I need to be productive all the time felt… spacious. But of course — this being life and this being me and me being human — it hasn’t exactly lasted. That familiar, frenetic thought pattern has chased me down and caught me and still clings on piggy-back-style some days.

But that’s okay.

Cos I’m getting better. Cos I know the space is there. Cos I know that it won’t kill me or hurt me and it might even help me.

And it’s all a process…

Are you driven to busy-ness too? Are you searching for space? xx

When a packet-mix is good enough

Falling down

Last week, I had a Big Week. The Universe decided to send me crazy amounts of action in both my business life and my personal life. And a few very-late-nighters ensued, as I tried to get everything done.

One of the Big Things that was the grand opening of my mum’s business. Now, we should digress for a minute here to discuss the awesomeness of my mum. She and her business partner are physiotherapists who run their own hydrotherapy pool, which provides amazing services to people with disabilities, the elderly, the movement-challenged and anyone else requiring amazing therapeutic aquatic TLC. Mum is the kind of person who you just know is doing the work that the Universe intends her to do – helping people massively, frolicking at the forefront of her profession, and generally spewing forth Life-affirming beams of light whenever she’s around her patients.

Yeah, she’s that special.

Anyway, so this week was the culmination of three years of hard work, when the doors of their brand new facility were being thrown open to the public. We’re talking fifty-odd community figures and medical professionals, an official address by the Lord Mayor, and my mum’s hopes and dreams brought to fruition.

Hydrotherapy Brisbane(That’s Mumsy on the left, the other amazing physio on the right, and Mr Mayor in the middle)

So, back to me (Ha! No seriously). A week before the big opening, I volunteered to do all the cooking. This meant whipping up a bake-sale’s worth of goodies and sweet treats for everyone to nibble on whilst mingling and ogling the brand spanking new facility. I knew it would be a helpful thing to do for my mum, plus I quite enjoy baking.

Then, the very next day, because the Universe likes to wink at us with its wily eyes, I had more clients contact me in a single day than I’ve ever had before. All needing work done, like, yesterday. All people who were either valued clients who’d become friends, really interesting people that I wanted to forge long-term business relationships with, or Really Big Fish who I would do anything to work with.

So, being semi-masochistic but mainly just super-excited, I said yes to everything and set myself up for a week of craziness.

Now, this could have been a blog post about setting boundaries for yourself and honoring your own needs.

But it’s not.

It’s a post about packet-mix cakes.

During the Week of Crazy, I did the best work that I could for all my clients in the time that I had. Seriously.

But of course everything takes more time than you think.

And before I knew it, the time had come to get my bake on and I still had a bunch of deadlines to meet.

Something had to give.

I had been entertaining visions of endless mini-cupcakes, all iced beautifully and colour-coordinated with the decor. I had imagined a big centrepiece cake that showed off my mad baking skills. Basically, I had imagined demonstrating my love for my mum in the form of beautiful baked goods and sugar-laden snacks.

But when the time came, I realized that I did not have enough time to do what I had wanted to do.

I really, really didn’t.

Turns out, the best that I could do was make 9 packet-mix cakes and slices and muffins. (And even that took way longer than expected.)

Packet mix cakes

And of course, I spent part of that time beating myself up for not making the Martha Stewart baked-from-scratch snackables that I’d imagined.

But I baked, and I baked, and I kept on baking. And I smeared the ready-to-spread all-included icing on top, and then I pimped those cakelings with all the blueberries, shredded coconut and shaved chocolate that I could find.

And when I took the carb-laden fruits of my labour to the big day, and laid them out, no one knew that they were packet mixes. (And no one knew that I’d accidentally-kinda-sorta burned the top of the sultana butter-cake and had shaved the top off with a knife before hiding the evidence under cream cheese frosting.) And I’m pretty sure my mum didn’t feel any less loved by my cooking-with-convenience style. In fact, I’m pretty sure she knew I loved her regardless of my culinary contributions.

This was one of those glaring life examples of where done is better than perfect. Of where whipping ourselves into sleepless nights and mega frenzies of trying to get things ‘perfect’ achieves nothing except stressing us out. Of where we’d be far better off just aiming for a middle-of-the-road packet-mix.

My cakes did not bring the house down with heretofore unimagined deliciousness and prettiness. But then, thankfully, I realized (before it was too late) that that was never the point.

I got them done and the guests ate them, while we all focused on what was really important: dreams being lived, people being helped, amazing people offering their amazing gifts to the world.

Sometimes, a packet-mix is better than a full-scale culinary creation.

And done is definitely better than a full-scale perfectionist meltdown.

And giving what we can when we can is the best we can ever do…

So this is the moral of the packet-mix: sometimes good enough really is good enough.

Today just breathe

Do you need a packet-mix in your life at the moment? xx

Confessions of a superfood slut!

Superfoods_3

So I have a confession. I have developed an addiction. It’s not crack or smack or Jack (Daniels)… It’s superfoods. It may sound ridiculously dumb, but there it is: I, Jessica of the Sparrow + Sea variety, have become addicted to browsing the aisles of my local health food store and purchasing everything under the sun in search of a magical superfood silver bullet.

Why?

As a way to make up for burning the candle at both ends.

As a way to make up for the fact that I’m at my desk an enormous number of hours every day and have let the gym well and truly slip from my grasp.

As an easy way out. You know: goji berries (or lucuma or camu camu or macqui) as the magical cure-all with minimal effort.

madewithover(1)This is my usual breakfast of late.

Except it doesn’t work that way. There is no short cut to healthy living. Health is about making those tiny decisions all day, every day – I choose to get up and go for a walk, I choose to eat a salad for lunch, I choose to drink only one glass of wine. Instead, lately, my choices have been more like I choose to sit at my desk and get my work done. I choose to cut my walk short because I’m exhausted. And, of course, I choose to slam down some superfoods because I think that they’ll help.

It’s a little bit like ordering a Diet Coke with your Big Mac meal (okay, it’s not that bad, and the rest of my diet is actually pretty good!), but the principle is the same: there’s a better choice you could be making altogether.

When I took an objective look at the enormous pile of health food products I had accumulated in the past few weeks (seriously, this is not an exaggeration: macqui, acai, lucuma, raw cacao [powder, wafer and nibs!], bee pollen, camu camu, coconut kefir, raw sauerkraut and maca) I realised I was barking up the wrong freaking coconut tree. No amount of powders and potions (even raw natural organic ones) can make up for a lifestyle that is fuelled by stress and caffeine.  It can’t. It’s like putting a super-colourful-and-antioxidant-rich band-aid on a sticky, pussy sore. Why not just air out the sore in the first place? Address the issue and you might not need the band-aid.

Which is why I have just given up coffee. And am making time in my morning routine to do yoga. And have set a (gentle, soothing) alarm on my iPad to tell me that 10pm is time to start getting ready for bed (the dulcet tones of Mr Cat Stevens start playing The Wind, which is like a lullaby. I love it!)

I have a hunch that the above tweaks are going to do more for me than a spoonful of camu camu can. (Speaking of, that stuff is kinda gross. Definitely not as tasty as my other powders!)

Also worth mentioning is a belief that I’ve had brewing for a while: I don’t believe that any single food is magical or medicinal in and of itself. I think in our complex, integrated bodily systems, it’s everything we eat (and drink and think and do) that makes up our complete picture of health. It definitely ain’t the one supplement or powder or Patagonian super-fruit that is going to change everything. We’re far too complex for that. I know this, I’ve thought it for a while, it makes sense to me. So this recent slutting about with every superfood under the sun is a sure-fire sign that I’m not quite on top of my health game and am looking for answers and easy ways out.

So I’m publicly pledging not to buy any more super products. At least for a while. I’ll use up all the masses that I’ve got, whilst seeking to create lasting health changes in real, tangible ways. Like sleep over spirulina. Meditation over macqui. Lots of lovin’ over lucuma.

Have you been a sucker for superfoods too?

xx

PS. Apologies for the naughty word in the title. When I texted my friend a picture of my health-food store purchases, that’s what she called me. I found it highly amusing! But of course, no offense is intended! x

Just breathe

Thirty, flirty and… fertile

Jennifer Garner is thirty, flirty and thriving

I turned thirty just over a month ago. It (surprisingly) wasn’t that big of a deal, and I didn’t have any breakdowns. (Okay, I didn’t have any major breakdowns.)

And nothing has really seemed that different. Of course. But I kind of expected things to change, even just a little. Mainly because I seem to always read celebrity quotes that say things like ‘When I turned thirty [or forty, or whatever milestone they just hit], I really started to come into my own. You’re so much more comfortable in your body in your thirties, and you just start to feel more confident in yourself as a woman.’

You know what I’m talking ‘bout. It must be in the Celeb-101 handbook: Make out as though your current age is the perfect age, while the rest of Hollywood continues to treat aging as though it were a disease. Bonus points if you can talk smack about Botox and plastic surgery whilst secretly getting collagen implants and a nose job for a ‘deviated septum’.

Deviated septum

But I digress.

None of those ‘I totes feel more comfortable/confident/empowered now that I’m thirty’ things have happened. I’m still as awkward as ever, as self-conscious as ever. In fact, I still classify myself as a ‘girl’, and it’s only when I think about it for a second that I realize it’s probably more likely that I am, indeed, a woman. Despite all internal evidence to the contrary.

But one thing that I have noticed, is that I have started to think about babies a lot.

Not so much in a clucky, desiring way. More in a panicky, oh-my-God kind of way. It’s a three-way panic. Your ‘triple threat’, so to speak:

Panic point number one: Oh my God, I’m running out of time to have babies.

Panic point number two: Oh my God, I’m running out of time to do all the things that I want to do in life before I have to start having babies.

Point number three: Oh my God, I’m not ready to have babies.

[It should be noted at this juncture that my boyfriend LOVES having ‘the baby conversation’ with me. And by ‘loves’, I mean ‘would-rather-experiment-with-tying-his-testes-in-decorative-macrame-style-knots’. Not that he’s not supportive, it’s just that he kinda knows what he wants: kids one day, not quite yet. He’s happy with that, has no doubts about that, and has made peace with that. Whereas I’m filled with fun emotions like angst and worry and self-doubt…]

It doesn’t help that a friend told me about a year ago that statistically speaking, once you hit thirty, your healthy-baby-making chances drop radically.

But it sucks to start thinking about life in terms of hurry-hurry-baby-hurry. I know for sure that I don’t want one now, that this is not the right time for me to have one now, that this is not the right time for us to have one now. I know all this. So what’s with the angst?

I really do recognise that fertility issues increase as a woman’s age increases. (And I pray to God/The Universe/Vishnu/Gaia that I don’t have such issues.) But I also choose to focus on the fact that statistical averages are based on population-wide research. And I definitely take better care of my health than a large portion of the population, and will continue to do so.

I also recognise that wanting to have a baby is an important aspect of the equation. And I don’t want one right now. I barely succeed in taking care of myself right now. It’s just that I’m feeling this weird pressure from external sources without names and faces. From ‘society’. From what I’m ‘supposed’ to do. From my age.

Healthy girl with all the time in the world

So this angst is unwelcome. Not to mention premature and irrelevant. I don’t need it. And I am going to try to ignore it, and do my best to take excellent care of my health, and excellent care of my relationship, and excellent care of myself. And if the stars align, and I am blessed and lucky, perhaps one day in the not-too-distant-future, I will have the luxury of choosing to start trying to ‘try’.

But right now, I’m giving up the angst. I’m declaring angst defeat. It has no hold over me.

In a refreshing change from the aforementioned text-book drivel of celebrity interviews, I recently read this shining-golden-beacon-of-light from Olivia Wilde, she of the gorgeous almond-shaped eyes and baby-making-aged body:

DON’T feel pressured to pop out kids.

I love kids with a passion I usually reserve for hot cheese, miniature chairs, and Prince concerts, but I feel no stress to reproduce simply because of a fear of withering eggs. Wait for the right partner, and make sure you’re where you want to be in life before picking neighborhoods based on school districts. This is not to suggest you should live irresponsibly for the next 10 years, then expect to get knocked up when your chosen dude finally sneezes inside you. But you’ll never find the right baby-maker or enjoy baby-making if you’re doing it out of anxiety. Relax, be good to your body, and when the time is right, get busy.

This. Just this. Relax, be good to your body, and when the time is right, get busy. I love this. This is  where I’m at. Well, where I want to be at.

Do you have thoughts on self-imposed baby-making pressure? Do you feel it too? Where are you at?

xo

Indian dreaming

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