In re-reading my previous posts, the thing that springs to mind (that probably seems obvious to you looking in but wasn’t quite so obvious to me) is that I’ve done some counselling in the past – I’ve supposedly dealt with some issues -to a certain extent at least – but still I continue to have issues around food and/or alcohol (to a greater or lesser extent). I’m still writing about it, so that implies that I perceive an issue of some kind. I’d like to think that it’s just habit or hormones that make me want to eat everything on the face of the planet from time to time – and maybe it is – but maybe it’s not. I’ve eaten somewhat compulsively at times in the past, and maybe this compulsion is habit-based – a pattern of behaviour that I’m slowly attempting to alter. This year has been positive so far in that it’s now October and in January I started fasting 2 days a week. That’s not to say I’ve fasted for 2 days every week since but certainly regularly in the past 10 months. And I’m now carrying 12.5 kilos less than I was at the beginning of January. I’ve also (as you know) tried to be more mindful of my alcohol consumption particularly in the past couple of months and that’s resulted in a significant reduction in my alcohol intake. And my clothes, my bank account and subsequently my recycling bin have all noticed this change!
To have a sense of progress in the right direction is a wonderful thing – but it doesn’t help me identify why the issues with food or alcohol in the first place – other than their consumption ‘felt good’ at the time. I ate and drank for comfort, for relief, as ‘time out’, sometimes as a treat, because I deserved to… or at least that’s what I used to tell myself. And I have identified other ways to treat myself – probably my favourite at present would be to go shopping (but the bank balance doesn’t allow that every day); listening to music, candles, having a bath; having a massage or a pedicure; taking the dog for a walk; watching several ducks and their ducklings wander around my back yard; going for a walk on the beach, walking in the bush (there are lots of local tracks near to where I live); the silhouette of cabbage trees and flax and toitois; fields of sunflowers; sunsets over the sea; New Zealand countryside; painting in acrylics; cooking (sometimes if I’m in the mood) – even gardening at times – are things I enjoy and do to relax; oh.. and then there’s my blog…
Sometimes just watching a movie, or relaxing watching whatever TV programmes I’m in the mood for, or preparing a dinner party for a small group of friends – these things have their place in the list of Things I Enjoy. I’ve learnt this year that one of my happy places is being in my kitchen making chicken pies; or making a number of dishes of lasagne (which I then freeze for later); sometimes sewing cot quilts can be a happy place, or painting (if the painting comes together in a way I like, or if I learn something useful from the process) then painting can definitely be a happy place.
Sometimes when I’ve been depressed (particularly in my thirties) I used to find it hard to remember what my happy places were, or what things brought me joy. So it’s good to have a list, and to be able to add to it:
- I love the smell of lavender, and rosemary, basil, coriander, lemongrass; vanilla pods and cinnamon quills; the smell of spicy fruit bread being made into toast; the smell of a freshly cut lemon or a roast in the oven; the smell of good coffee brewing, and bacon cooking; the smell of roses and violets and daphne; the aromas of a good wine;
- I love a variety of music: from jazz to pop to blues to opera. That beautiful piece of opera from The Pearfishers; cruisy laid back jazz (old George Benson, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Ronny Jordan), good old Kiwi music (Split Enz and 1980’s stuff, to my current fave, Six60); Albinoni’s Adagio, or Pachelbel’s Canon and Gigue, or Vivaldi or Brahms; from the musicals Camelot, the King & I and ‘Porgy & Bess’ to Michael Buble; from Barry McGuire to Mary Mary, Amy Winehouse, James Morrison and a lot of the Putamayo World Music (‘Music from the Coffee Lands’ and all the African music); Van Morrison to Cold Chisel and Maroon 5; Nathan Haines ‘Music for Cocktail Lovers’, Trinity Roots and Fat Freddy’s Drop – these are some of my absolute listening pleasures
- I love the work of Monet and van Gogh, Albrecht Durer, Botticelli and Michelangelo; the Pre-Raphaelites; the beautiful designs of Charles Rennie McIntosh, William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and the Art Nouveau movement; some awesome Kiwi artists – Rita Angus, Don Binney, Grahame Sydney, Cynthia Taylor, Kathryn Furniss and Anna Stichbury
- I love violas – seeing their beautiful little faces; peonies in pinks and whites; magnolia trees (and their blooms foretelling the seasons to come) and pohutakawas in flower; the shape of tulip heads, and the amazing way that fern fronds unfold; and all the incredible greens that make up my fern garden;
- I love seeing and hearing tuis in my garden; watching wood pidgeons as they fly and land – not graceful but beautiful none-the-less, (and always, they remind me of Iroquois helicopters); fantails and wax eyes;
- I love the sight of brilliant blue butterfly wings; a newborn baby’s hands and feet – so tiny and perfect; puppies and kittens in their first few days of life and watching them as they explore the world around them; a puppy’s ears -all soft and silky;
- I love the flavour of lamb shanks, fillet steak, rack of lamb; smoked salmon, avocados and champagne; blue cheese and port; roast pork with apple sauce and gravy; stuffed mushrooms, Beef Wellington, roast chicken, pavlova roulade; runny vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries; Snow-freeze ice cream in cones dipped in chocolate; dark chocolate mousse and neenish tarts; lemon meringue pie, Kahlua and ice cream; Cosmopolitans; apple shortcake;
- I like Robert de Niro movies, Edward Norton in American History X, Rachel Weiss, Daniel Craig in Layercake, Brat Pitt in Snatch, Helen Mirren, George Clooney in ER, in fact I love watching re-runs of ER, Prison Break, 24, Outrageous Fortune, Casablanca, Fight Club, To Kill A Mockingbird, Sex In The City (the movie), The Power of One, The Constant Gardener, Blood Diamond, Cry The Beloved Country, PS I Love You;
- Some of my favourite books: The Time Traveller’s Wife, The Lovely Bones, The Colour of Water, The Power of One, My Sister’s Keeper, Winnie-the-Pooh, The Just So Stories, To Kill A Mockingbird, After You’d Gone, The Children of Midnight;
- I’m fascinated by the human body and how it works -in health and in disease; how diseases progress; how cancer works its wicked magic; how our internal organs work and how they work together; how the body can heal itself (not always but often); how the nervous system functions and what can go wrong; the power of the mind; the power of positive energy; how mental health affects the body and life expectancy; how we can know so much about the body and the brain and how they function and yet not know ourselves; how we can be so wise and also so stupid; so kind and so thoughtless; so filled with love and so filled with hate; so focussed on the little things and miss the important stuff; so caught up in our own lives that we stop appreciating the bigger picture -the good things, the beauty, the kindness and love of others, life and health and friendship…