health

What a week

Winter window

This week has been overwhelming. It is the first week of my maternity leave and I was looking forward to, no desperate for, a break. Instead my little girl got sick. Then she got sicker. Today is the first day neither of us has had some sort of medical appointment. Normally I love gloomy grey weather but it makes running errands with a sick toddler impossible. I was surprised how emotionally draining it can be having an unwell child. I wanted nothing more than to make her feel better but there was so little I could do. The pleading in her eyes when she tried to crawl into my lap but couldn’t fit due to my pregnant belly almost broke my heart.

The good news is she’s now on the mend. I’m slowly getting the house back in order but truth be told, at the moment there are more important things than a polished floor. I just want to nourish our bodies and be gentle to our spirits while everyone recuperates, physically and emotionally.

Grange

I should have known this week was going to be testing after a lovely dinner with my father and sister on Saturday night. My father is a wine collector and some of his collection was due to be enjoyed. Of course being pregnant I couldn’t indulge in the fine wines on offer (last time Dad opened some Grange I was pregnant with my toddler! The start of a week of Murphy’s Law!) so I had more than my fair share of pizza to make up for it. I like my Dad’s philosophy on wine- he buys it young and inexpensive and cellars it until it’s in it’s prime. The ultimate delayed gratification. Years ago, when the Government economic stimulus program saw my husband receive a stimulus payment we spent it on Australian wine. We figured it was keeping the money in the country and now we have some beautiful wine which has greatly increased in value. One of these days I might even get a chance to drink some!

Jasmine

Despite the wet weather my jasmine has decided it is well and truly spring. I love the way the vine climbs up outside my daughter’s window. When the weather is fine and the window open the sweet smell permeates the whole upper storey of the house. It seemed a shame to leave such beautiful blooms out in foul weather so I snipped a long tendril this morning and put it in our bedroom. The scent really does lift my spirits.

Bassinette

Last night the bassinette for our impending baby was delivered. As soon as it was unwrapped Willa put her doll inside, covered it with a scarf to act as a blanket, then pulled up her little chair and started reading her ‘baby’ a story. Cuteness overload. And very reassuring to see her role play a baby sibling in a loving way.

sesame seed bread

Terracotta bread tin

This week I received my new terracotta bread form. I seasoned the pan using vegetable oil earlier in the week and baked my second loaf in it today. I still use my breadmaker to do the hard work (kneading, rising etc) but the terracotta gives the bread such a lovely texture! The shape of the loaf is much nicer too (though as you can see in the picture above I was lax when forming the loaf and it’s rather lopsided- oops!).

Tea and knitting

Most of today I have spent on the lounge, drinking peppermint tea, and knitting. Turns out I actually buggered up the pattern so I’ll have to undo everything I did but it felt nice to get in the flow of knitting again, and so appropriate given the weather.  I also enjoyed the fruits of my labour, that is freshly baked bread slathered in butter. Delicious! Please excuse the crumbs on my belly!

Fresh bread

All in all I’m glad the week is over and a new one is on the way. I hope your week has treated you better and if not, you were able to focus on the simple pleasures like freshly baked bread and spring blooms.

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Magic Meditation

In modern society we tend to underestimate the power of stillness and of the mind. Meditation is often misunderstood and not seen as productive use of our time however this could not be further from the truth. The benefits of meditation are physiological (e.g. decreased blood pressure), psychological (e.g. calmer state of mind), and spiritual (e.g. feeling more connected to the universe or your God). One of the big aspects of downshifting is slowing down, and it doesn’t get much slower than sitting still and meditating.

Meditation doesn’t require fancy equipment or extreme flexibility (hello lotus pose!), all you need is 10-15 minutes and your mind. The goal is to focus on one thing, your breathing is a good place to start, and clear you mind of all the other stresses and thoughts that fight for your attention. I find guided meditations very helpful. I often put my headphones on and listen to one of many stored on my iPhone. A favourite audiobook is The Joy of Meditating by Salle Merrill-Redfield. It consists of four guided meditations that teach you how to meditate. The first focuses on breathing techniques and relaxing the body, then each subsequent meditation builds on what you’ve learned and teaches a new skill such as visualisation.

Sometimes when my baby is having a nap during the day I will lie on the bed and do a short guided meditation. I find I’m much more refreshed at the end than if I had taken a short nap. During particularly stressful times in my life I took to doing a guided meditation before going to sleep. This really helped fight off insomnia from anxiety and allowed me to cope much more successfully than I otherwise would. Sometimes when I need a break I just sit and gaze at my waterlily in wonder at its perfection and beauty.

Still not convinced? Have a look at this fact sheet produced by the Victorian Government’s Better Health Channel
Meditation – Better Health Channel It’s very easy to dismiss meditation, to say we don’t have the time, or can’t waste time on something with intangible benefits, but the benefits are real. I encourage you to give it a go, especially if you’re stressed, anxious, or unwell. Or if you are already a regular meditator share your method in the comments, I’d love to hear what you do!