A Side Effect of Aloneness

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There really is no better entertainment than reality.

I have had a few “light bulb” moments in the past weeks that have enabled me to understand why living in the moment is a good idea. I think the biggest light bulb moment was to realise that the future doesn’t exist; at least, it will never exist as we imagine it to be in our mind so there is no point living there in your thoughts.

Since starting my introspection/contemplation journey, I have had many little experiences that made me understand this about The Future: I have got excited about future events such as gigs only to be disappointed by them, situations I might have worried about turning out just fine, and having great experiences from something I hadn’t expected to happen.

Enough of such experiences to realise thinking about the future is futile. Not saying you shouldn’t “plan” for it, but having any expectations about it is useless.

And the best way not to “live” in the future, or the past for that matter, is to be present in the moment. Not an easy task mind as your mind will try and take you wandering every opportunity it gets. But feasible.

The easiest way I have found to train myself to be present is by taking a walk. Which I do daily, either walking my friend’s dog or walking into town, mobile phone not present or out of easy reach and head up, and more and more without my mp3 player in my ears.

Soon after I start walking, my thoughts begin to dissipate and I notice the world around me more, the people I come across, whether I interact with them or not, the nature around me, the sky above my head, the sound of birds, wind, Life.

I become an observer and through observation, an experiencer of the reality I am witnessing.

As I become present, I am able to detach myself from whatever thoughts might have been preoccupying my mind and “realisations” become possible, enabling me to better “see” situations and thus have clearer understanding of them, less fogged by emotions. I think this is what they call mindfulness.

I also realised recently that being on my own makes it easier for me to be present. No-one to interfere or distract me from my direct experience. Not drinking helps too if you want to be a sharper observer.

Last night, I took a walk to a Comedy show and had the most entertaining evening. And it had nothing to do with the comedians: all the entertainment came from my interaction with some individuals and my observation of others. Priceless.

More and more recently I have felt lucky to be on my own as it renders me free to fully experience life on my very own terms.

They say that to thrive in life, you need a good social network. I disagree. “Others” create interferences in your self-enquiry.

By having people in your life, you are never truly free.

This idea that you need people in your life is also very dangerous: it puts pressure on people to think they are lacking if they don’t have a good bunch of friends or support network, some may even think that they are a failure, and thus making aloneness the biggest cause of depression.

I very recently came to the realisation that a problem shared isn’t a problem halved. It actually makes it a problem. The more you involve people in your “problems”, the more the problem exists.

I realised this following a work situation recently. We all heard the disturbing news that we are all on consultation due to a big restructure to save costs. Meaning all of our jobs will either change or disappear.

I got home that evening and briefly thought how a side effect of aloneness was that I had no-one to talk to about this whereas my colleagues would be going home to their family or partners and no doubt spend the night going over it with who ever is in their life.

As per my daily schedule, I took my friend’s dog, Theo, for my evening walk. By the time the walk ended, I had sorted it all out in my head and was back in the moment again. How many of my colleagues would have spent the evening, and the next one, and the next one, and the whole weekend and possibly their entire time from now on, talking about an imaginary future in their social environment I wondered. I felt so grateful my aloneness allowed me to quickly process the event and get back to the present, where I have so much fun :-).

Makes me wonder why people – and I used to be one of those – are so scared of aloneness when actually one of its major side effects is personal freedom, which apparently is the Holy Grail of existence…

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Healthy Eating Side Effect

I had a bit of a shock yesterday…one of those that puts a great big smile on your face that comes back every time you think of it.

I had a visit to the nurse for a regular woman check and saw a scale on the floor and I decided to check out how my healthier lifestyle is going weight-wise.

I don’t own a scale see. I have observed too many people fixating on that figure. To the point of obsessing over it. That’s not me.

So, I take my shoes off and jump on it, fully expecting to see the needle go to the 70 kgs mark.

Mouth drops…

dog-on-weight-scale

I am so shocked I turn round to the nurse and ask “are those scales accurate?”, she says, “yes near enough, why?”

“Because they say I’m 65 kilos!!”

Last time I was weighed at her office, about 4 months ago I believe it was, I was 73 kilos. And I had been that a good two years.

73, that’s 11.5 stones, which, for a 5’2 female, isn’t good news.

I can happily concur: it seems that eating healthier and being a bit more active does work!

In the 4 months that I have been changing my diet [click for previous entry on the subject] to a healthier, long (the plan is for life) sustaining one and adding 20-30 mn walks to my daily routine, I have lost over a stone (8 kilos)!

I am still incredulous! 🙂

I had hoped my lifestyle changes would make a difference but I had never expected it to be so quick. This has now fully motivated me that my dream weight is actually feasible – the one I dropped to 4 years ago a couple of months after my husband had left me:

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(background is photoshopped)

Even the nurse was impressed, asking me how I did it (she has weight issues). Although, in the typical manner of someone wanting to piss on your fire, she also said to make sure I don’t lose too much. As if.

Bet the next (and last) 7 kilos to get to this weight won’t be quite so easy.

Still, as my lodger pointed out – imagine how well you’d do if you actually pushed yourself a bit exercise wise! – he is right, I think I might start running again.

The myths about healthy eating, cooking for one.

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I have heard many people say healthy eating is expensive. I have also heard people complain cooking for one is no fun.

Well, I beg to disagree.

Recently, needs-must situation, I was found pre-diabetic and given a few months to sort it out via my diet (and exercise), coupled with the fact that I care about myself these days and want to lose weight, I have embarked on a bit of a lifestyle change.

I realised that the only way to be healthier and keep healthy is by changing your diet full stop and for ever. Mind you, all this sounds a bit immaterial since I am still a smoker but…all in due course.

So I have introduced different types of food in my diet and changed a few habits.

New habits

I always eat from a small plate now: it’s amazing how much you can still fit in (without going over the top of course) and how nicely filled you feel at the end. I will admit on occasions, I will sigh as I pick up the small plate and realise I won’t be stuffing my face, but it passes!

I try to eat mostly standing up at the kitchen bar. Purely because I try not to make eating food an “occasion” but rather a necessity (for survival type of thing) and so I don’t want to be sitting down all comfortable all the time.

When I eat, all I do is eat: no listening to music, browsing the internet or the local paper, nothing. This helps you concentrate on your food rather than let your mind wander elsewhere so you are more aware you are eating – this helps not eat so much too. A great added benefit: I am starting to enjoy and appreciate many mouthful. Sometimes a taste or flavour hits just the right spot and gives me pure bliss for a few seconds 🙂 I still have to work on that though as, even without external stimuli, the mind still finds ways to wander!

I don’t stock anything bad in the house. I had realised before that this was a good idea – such an easy way to remove temptation – but I found some hidden “bad” food had still filtered through, eg cereals, and were an easy target if/when I got the  munchies.

I think that is it with the new eating habits.

Now for the healthy food – the expensive bit (apparently).

Earlier this week as I was doing a grocery shop, I realised that the cost of my shopping had considerably reduced, yet I am now eating “healthy”. I pondered why people say it is expensive…

My regular shops would typically include some of the following – each very low prices:

  • A big bag of carrots (love grated carrots at the mo)
  • Some fruits – either bananas, pears or tangerine, avocado.
  • Pork and/or chicken thighs
  • Mixture of red peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, courgettes, aubergine, spinach, mushrooms
  • Tomatoes (on the vine)
  • Celery (I used to hate it, now love a little taste of it)
  • Fish – usually fresh cod.
  • Some fresh herbs – basil or coriander
  • A couple of 2 minutes rice bags
  • Milk

I buy the occasional healthy treat too, such as a bag of the cheapest frozen prawns (so expensive but such good food for you), and I also have cheap longer term meals, like rolled oatmeal, which costs nothing for a big bag, can of tomatoes etc.

Add to this some standard “essentials”, such as onions, eggs, garlic, balsamic vinegar, pepper, piri piri seasoning (or whatever takes your fancy), a few spices of your choice, the taste of all this can get interesting, I even marinate meat myself and the flavours are just amazing.

That covers all my meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, throughout the week, and put some dishes in the freezer too. Hardly expensive.

Another added bonus about eating better food is you start to eat less naturally (as you get healthier) and therefore you need to buy less so it gets even cheaper.

So I really got wondering why people say healthy eat is expensive. And I think I get it: they are not buying and preparing the food, they will buy ready made fancy salads, they will buy meat all pre-marinaded and chicken in fancy sauces, they will buy carrots á la baton, all ready to eat, all sorts of short cuts “healthy food”. People are apparently now too lazy to cook their own meals then blame it on it being too expensive.

And here comes the second part of my pondering: how people say cooking for one is not fun.

Since I started to want to sort out my diet once and for all, it hasn’t escaped me that all this is much easier to do when you don’t have someone else to cook for or who cooks for you.

Cooking for yourself only, you get to choose exactly what you want to eat, how you want to it – the sense of empowerment this can give you shouldn’t be underestimated: you are in complete control of what you put in your mouth. No excuses, no being led astray, no opening that bottle of wine to have a glass that turns into a bottle when one has company (I have quit drinking alcohol during the week now): empowering AND liberating.

I’ve also realised recently that I can actually cook! I always used to think or say I couldn’t cook or I didn’t enjoy it, all because someone else was offering to do the cooking (so I never needed to).

Now I do my own, it’s a whole different story.

The sense of satisfaction that comes from being able to produce a nice meal was unexpected to me, and I don’t feel the need to share it with someone else, my appreciation of the meal is all I care about really – how selfish of me 😉

And when you refer back to one of the changes I have made – eating my meal in silence which enables me to be more mindful, and appreciative, of what I am eating – you can’t really do that if you have company. Yes you might enjoy the odd mouthful but mainly you will be distracted by the other person.

I also don’t see what is boring about being able/free to please your own self cooking.

And lastly, if you cook for one, that usually means you live alone, and if you leave alone, what better things have you got to do than actually take proper care of yourself? :-p

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[I am now officially a medicated diabetic, apparently it is genetic. My cholesterol has reduced though 🙂 Weight loss is work in (slow) progress]