Wednesday, 30 May 2012

How to put your best foot forward

A head-hunter called me this week.  They wanted to meet me before agreeing to represent me.
As I am very keen to be offered more freelance work, I was thrilled.
The more I thought about how important it was that I make a good impression, the more the inside of my head looked like a fight scene in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

These were some of my Tom and Jerry thoughts:

I need this interview to go well.  I was very anxious at the last interview. I am a failure. I don’t want to be doing this anyway. Advertising has an unfair age-ceiling. I don’t deserve a lovely job. My expectations are too high. I’m beating a dead-horse. If only I was brave enough to make cold-calls. If only I had better self-esteem.  The only thing standing in the way of getting a new job is my inability to control my anxiety. My career is over. Etcetera.  Etcetera.

But for some unknown reason, on the morning of the interview, I had a wild and crazy thought.
This is what it was:

This interview is just another interview out of the thousands I’ve had in the business. Probably nothing will happen as a result of it. Let’s see how it feels as I go in, while I’m in it and how I feel after it. Let’s just be curious about what I experience moment to moment.

I became more interested in the experience of the journey than the purpose of the journey.

I let go of trying to control the outcome.

This is what happened on the day of the interview

On the way there, I watched myself on the train getting a little anxious about leaving behind my portfolio which was next to my feet. I picked it up and put it on my lap.

I watched myself get a bit thirsty. I stopped and bought myself a bottle of water.

I watched myself worrying about getting lost and being late. I asked for directions.

As I met the two recruiters, my bracelet and sunglasses flew across the room as I stood up to shake their hands. I watched myself quickly regain my composure.

We went upstairs and sat on the roof terrace in the sun. It was hot. I drank the water I had bought earlier.

I watched myself being dynamic, clear, confident and graceful.

I learned what Just Do It means.
It means don’t look ahead. Look now.
Because that is where the power is.
When I let go of the outcome, the path rose up to meet me.
I suspect it works for most things.

Unhappily married? Let go of the outcome. Listen quietly and non-judgementally to yourself moment by moment. Talk (or don’t talk) from that place.
Feeling fat? Let go of the outcome. Listen quietly and judgementally to yourself moment by moment.  Eat (or don’t eat) from that place.
Feeling anxious? Let go of the desired outcome of freedom from anxiety. Listen quietly and non-judgementally to yourself in the moment.  Have your anxiety; it doesn’t have to have you.

You know that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where he needs to cross a chasm and suddenly he sees the invisible path that will take him across?
It’s a great metaphor for what happens when you see that the goal is an illusion,
that the past and the future are irrelevant,
that the only power you have is in this moment,
putting one foot in front of the other.

Summer Supper

The goal was not to make a quick meal for my family that was healthy and more delicious than anything the great Ottolenghi himself could have made, but that’s what happened.  Ten fingers.
This is how:

Couscous salad
250 gm. Couscous
400 ml boiling water
Tiny cubes of one sweet potato boiled till soft
Beluga lentils
Chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt, pepper, cinnamon on the sweet potato
Tablespoon of oil in the couscous
Put couscous in bowl. Add boiling water and oil. Leave for a bit. Add other ingredients.
Fish Ocean basket style
Plate of flour with fish spice mix
Plate of sunflower oil
Jug of melted butter and lemon juice
Fish fillets: cod, haddock or kingklip
Dip fish fillets in flour mix, in oil plate
Then onto hot, oiled frying pan for 6 or 7 minutes
Then plate
Pour over with butter/lemon juice 
Steamed asparagus

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Getting over heartbreak (and other problems)

Recently, I have heard the following said by some of the wonderful people in my life:

If only he loved me,
If only we could be together,
If only we lived in the same place,
If only I hadn’t slept with his best friend,
If only he would come back to me
If only he didn’t work so hard,
If only I had more time,
If only my boss wasn’t an arsehole,
If only I was married,
If only I could change his mind,
If only it wasn’t raining,
If only my child was gifted academically,
If only I weighed 63 kgs
If only I had a meaningful, well-paid job,
If only I had as many followers as Pioneer Girl,
If only I always said and did the perfect thing,
If only I had more energy,
If only my child didn’t wear such short skirts,
If only I had the discipline to write 30 pages a day,
If only I could live by the sea,
If only the sun was shining,
If only I was rich,
If only I had had a better childhood,
If only my child was happy,

Then I would be ok
I would be happy
I would be whole
Then my proper life could start

When people say those things to me, I want to hug them and sit with them until the tears end. Then this is what I want to say:

You are on this planet right now,
It is your turn to be here
One day your turn will be over
But today it is your turn
And you are OK
You are whole
You are not broken
You don’t have to fix anything outside or inside to be OK and whole and happy.
Happiness is not conditional on freedom from suffering
Your circumstances will never be completely perfect,
Your thoughts will never be completely perfect,
But know you are part of an infinite and intact wholeness that is already perfect
And always perfect
So get up
Stay in the game
Look after the body you live in
Feed it well
Be kind to it
Stretch it and strengthen it in the way it likes
Do what you have chosen to do with all your might.

This soup is near perfect: quick, delicious and nutricious. It's now on our soup-roster along with butternut soup, leek and potato soup, tomato soup, chicken soup, thai coconut soup and the favourite bean and barley soup.

Nigella Lawson’s Lentil and chestnut soup

One onion
One leek
One carrot
One stick celery
Two tablespoons oil
225gm red lentils
One and a half litres vegetable stock
22gm tin of chestnut puree
Double cream

Chop and fry first four ingredients in oil.
Add lentils and stock.
Boil for 40 minutes,
Add chestnuts, boil for another 20 minutes.
Blitz, add cream.