Kitchen Therapy


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Jammer Cookies

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This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is the Jammer Galette. Dorie describes it as “a vanilla sable topped with a spoonful of jam and circled with streusel.” The recipe is for a “thick, chunky galette” however I couldn’t get the idea of small, cookie sized jammer out of my mind. I wanted something I could just pop into my mouth and savour, and these turned out perfect!

As I was making these I was thinking about this blogging thing and the love and effort that we all put into it.
We buy the ingredients, we make the food, we photograph it making it look as pretty as we can and then we write about it. It’s a fair amount of work!

Recently, I have come across people on various social media sites (totally unrelated to any of these groups by the way!) posting photos of food that they have taken from magazines or other sites and claiming it is their own. I’ve read about this on other blogs and in my naivety I always thought no, that doesn’t really happen!¬†However, having witnessed it, it’s been on my mind a lot recently.

My first reaction was “wow! the audacity!”and I laughed it off (that’s often my first reaction to most things). As time has gone by I realise that it actually does bother me. With each recipe we make I’ve become more and more mindful of the time, commitment, love and effort involved. Sometimes the efforts are rewarding and other times nothing goes right from start to finish! Either way we are in this, doing it, and for that I have a huge respect.

These little cookies didn’t have many ingredients however they really were a labour of love.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In hindsight my little slap of reality has been good for me.

We loved these and I can’t wait to see what recipe the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie group cooked!
I found Dorie’s recipe for these on the Epicurious website if anyone is interested in trying them ūüôā


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Neapolitan Cake & My 100th Post!

It’s my 100th post!

Yay!

I’ve always wanted to be consistent and persistent.
I hear they are wonderful qualities.
Unfortunately they have never been qualities used to describe me!
Until now.
And it’s all thanks to this blog.

I guess when you find something you enjoy, you want to keep doing it.

I’m learning to not question (too much) why I enjoy doing this?!
To not try to dissect and understand it.
To just accept that it makes me happy.
And enjoy it.

I made this cake for my son’s 5th birthday.
The recipe is from Heather Baird’s SprinkleBakes book.
The kids loved it!

It’s such a great party cake!

It occurred to me it was also the perfect cake to celebrate my 100th post!
And my venture into the crazy new world of consistency and persistence!


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W H Auden – Miss Gee

You know that feeling you get when something resonates within you?
When it strikes a chord and touches your core?
Poems, songs, paintings and words connect us with our heart and the essence of who we are.
They help us find our true selves.

I had that feeling when I was introduced to the works of W.H. Auden.
As I read his poems, I felt something inside me stir.
They touched something within me.
Almost 20 years later, I still think about them on a regular basis.

From what I can remember, Auden’s predecessors such as Yeats, Lawrence and Eliot, wanted to turn away from the imperfect world we live in and write about an ideal promised land.
Auden on the other hand was interested in capturing the present moment with all it’s faults and flaws. By understanding what created the present, he hoped it might help us act better in the future.

Maybe, if I hadn’t followed a career in psychology I wouldn’t have thought of Auden’s poem, Miss Gee ever again. But as I sit and listen to lives lost to so many fears, images of Miss Gee fill my thoughts.
For me, the mismatch between the rhythm of this poem and the grimness of the topic capture the essence of these lives lost to repression and control.

Miss Gee

Let me tell you a little story
About Miss Edith Gee;
She lived in Clevedon Terrace
At number 83.

She’d a slight squint in her left eye,
Her lips they were thin and small,
She had narrow sloping shoulders
And she had no bust at all.

She’d a velvet hat with trimmings,
And a dark grey serge costume;
She lived in Clevedon Terrace
In a small bed-sitting room.

She’d a purple mac for wet days,
A green umbrella too to take,
She’d a bicycle with shopping basket
And a harsh back-pedal break.

The Church of Saint Aloysius
Was not so very far;
She did a lot of knitting,
Knitting for the Church Bazaar.

Miss Gee looked up at the starlight
And said, ‘Does anyone care
That I live on Clevedon Terrace
On one hundred pounds a year?’

She dreamed a dream one evening
That she was the Queen of France
And the Vicar of Saint Aloysius
Asked Her Majesty to dance.

But a storm blew down the palace,
She was biking through a field of corn,
And a bull with the face of the Vicar
Was charging with lowered horn.

She could feel his hot breath behind her,
He was going to overtake;
And the bicycle went slower and slower
Because of that back-pedal break.

Summer made the trees a picture,
Winter made them a wreck;
She bicycled to the evening service
With her clothes buttoned up to her neck.

She passed by the loving couples,
She turned her head away;
She passed by the loving couples,
And they didn’t ask her to stay.

Miss Gee sat in the side-aisle,
She heard the organ play;
And the choir sang so sweetly
At the ending of the day,

Miss Gee knelt down in the side-aisle,
She knelt down on her knees;
‘Lead me not into temptation
But make me a good girl, please.’

The days and nights went by her
Like waves round a Cornish wreck;
She bicycled down to the doctor
With her clothes buttoned up to her neck.

She bicycled down to the doctor,
And rang the surgery bell;
‘O, doctor, I’ve a pain inside me,
And I don’t feel very well.’

Doctor Thomas looked her over,
And then he looked some more;
Walked over to his wash-basin,
Said,’Why didn’t you come before?’

Doctor Thomas sat over his dinner,
Though his wife was waiting to ring,
Rolling his bread into pellets;
Said, ‘Cancer’s a funny thing.

‘Nobody knows what the cause is,
Though some pretend they do;
It’s like some hidden assassin
Waiting to strike at you.

‘Childless women get it.
And men when they retire;
It’s as if there had to be some outlet
For their foiled creative fire.’

His wife she rang for the servent,
Said, ‘Dont be so morbid, dear’;
He said: ‘I saw Miss Gee this evening
And she’s a goner, I fear.’

They took Miss Gee to the hospital,
She lay there a total wreck,
Lay in the ward for women
With her bedclothes right up to her neck.

They lay her on the table,
The students began to laugh;
And Mr. Rose the surgeon
He cut Miss Gee in half.

Mr. Rose he turned to his students,
Said, ‘Gentlemen if you please,
We seldom see a sarcoma
As far advanced as this.’

They took her off the table,
They wheeled away Miss Gee
Down to another department
Where they study Anatomy.

They hung her from the ceiling
Yes, they hung up Miss Gee;
And a couple of Oxford Groupers
Carefully dissected her knee.

Auden believed that repressed emotions caused cancer.
Miss Gee suppressed her feelings, her desires, her longings, her true self.
And it killed her.

Pay attention to what resonates within you and follow it with all your heart!


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Inspiration: Goethe and Responsibility

“I have come to the frightening conclusion that
I am the decisive element.

It is my personal approach that creates the climate.

It is my daily mood that makes the weather.

I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous.

I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.

I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.

In all situations, it is my response that decides whether
a crisis is escalated or de-escalated,

and a person is humanized or de-humanized.

If we treat people as they are, we make them worse.

If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them
become what they are capable of becoming.”

– Goethe, 1749-1832


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How Do I Find My Meaning and Purpose In Life

I’ve always admired people who know what they want out of life and set out to achieve it. You know the¬†ones, they knew what they wanted¬†from the minute they were born and¬†never wavered or questioned on their path¬†in life.

I’m not one of these folks.

I’ve always wished I was, but I realise I’m not and never have been. I am more like… ¬†Dory, from Finding Nemo. Remember her? The likable, yet frustrating blue fish who would change her mind mid-sentence¬†and¬†struggled to finishing¬†a thought because half way through that thought another bigger, better, brighter thought had come along!

I’ve tried to be like those other folks. I can easily immerse myself in a project. The problem is, part way into the project, something else catches my eye and I go off on a tangent. That tangent leads to more tangents and before I know it I am so far off the mark I’ve totally lost track of what I was doing in the first place.
By the time I get back to my original topic, I’ve completely forgotten what I’ve done and need to start again. So as you can see, I tend to rediscover the wheel again and again (or more appropriately, I discover the same bit of the wheel again and again) and hardly any progress is ever made!

On the up side, I help those around me build patience and tolerance (whether they like it or not)!

Now, while my Dory-esque nature has strengths, I can’t ignore that my flaky side needs reigning in!
So… I have spent some time looking at ways to sustain interest and motivation. Ways to build persistence and consistency so goals are pursued and achieved. It’s been an interesting couple of months.

Here’s what I have learnt…

As a society we are very much focused on goals. Getting to university, getting married, finding a job, buying a house, keeping it spotless, having children, keeping them spotless,¬†buying a bigger house, a boat, a new car and so on. The problem is that when we get these things, they don’t seem to be enough (that’s if we can even sustain the interest and motivation to do what it takes to get them!)

When we equate success with goals, we live in the future, we think when we reach that goal we can finally feel happy and content!

What if we were to take a step back and begin by clarifying what gives our lives meaning and purpose AND THEN use this information to guide us?

Consider how life would be if we decided that success meant living by our values? Living in a way that is meaningful to us each and every day. If we knew what was important to us in life, what we stood for and how we wanted to behave, a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment would be instantly available to us. Our values, our sense of meaning and purpose in life is available to us right now. At any moment we can choose to act in line with our values and when we do, we feel empowered.

Our values inspire us, motivate us and guide our actions. When we use our values to set goals, we are then doing what matters most to us. We are not waiting to reach that goal so we can finally be happy, we live every day feeling satisfied and content because each day we are doing what is important to us.

Our values are available to us right now.
They show us who we are and what is important us.
And most importantly, our values do not need to be justified to anyone. This last point I struggled with for a while, I thought my values had to be worthy as judged by some outside force. I was always drawn to values such as fun, playful, free and easy-going. This is what I wanted to be in life, but then I’d look at words like conscientious, congruent, hard-working and felt embarrassed that my values in life were so… fluffy. I now own my values in life and I realise that when I am living by my values, I work my butt off and I am the best me I can be.

I’ve made a list of values below as a starting point, have a look and see if any jump out to you.
Some words actually make me feel like I’m choking, while others resonate deep within me and make me feel happy, alive and joyful.

If you¬†get stuck, here are some of my favourite exercises…

Who are your role models?
Who inspires you?
What strengths and qualities do they have that you admire?

Imagine your 80th birthday party. When it’s time for family and friends to toast you and make a speech¬†about you and your life, what would you like¬†to hear them¬†say about you?

Imagine you are looking over your own funeral, see who is there and listen to what they are saying about you and how you will be remembered. If you lived your life as your are now, what would they say about you?
What would you like them to say about you?
What does that reveal to you about the person you want to be?

What words would you like written about you on your tombstone, just a few words that would capture the essence of who you were and how you lived your life?

Values are our heart’s deepest desires, they give us direction in life and by staying in touch with our values we make our brief time on Earth meaningful!

Let your values shape your goals and your life.

LIST OF VALUES
1.  Adventurous
2.  Affectionate
3.  Authentic
4.  Blissful
5.  Brave
6.  Bold
7.  Calm
8.  Careful
9.  Compassionate
10. Confident
11. Courageous
12. Creative
13. Curious
14. Daring
15. Decisive
16.  Determined
17. Dynamic
18. Elegant
19. Empathic
20. Energetic
21. Enthusiastic
22. Fair
23. Faithful
24. Fearless
25. Flexible
26. Focused
27. Free
28. Fun
29. Generous
30. Giving
31. Gracious
32. Grateful
33. Healthy
34. Helpful
35. Honest
36. Humor
37. Imaginative
38. Industrious
39. Inquisitive
40. Intuitive
41. Joyful
42. Kind
43. Leader
44. Learning
45. Lively
46. Loving
47. Loyal
48. Mature
49. Mindful
50. Mysterious
51. Modest
52. Neat
53. Open-minded
54. Optimistic
55. Organised
56. Original
57. Passionate
58. Persistent
59. Philanthropist
60. Playful
61. Pleasure
62. Powerful
63. Present
64. Proactive
65. Reasonable
66. Refined
67. Relaxed
68. Reliable
69. Resilient
70. Resourceful
71. Respectful
72. Self-control
73. Sensual
74. Service
75. Silly
76. Sincere
77. Spiritual
78. Strong
79. Thankful
80. Thoughtful
81. Thorough
82. Tidy
83. Tranquil
84. Trust
85. Truth
86. Understanding
87. Unique
88. Vision
89. Virtue
90. Vitality
91. Vivacious
92. Warm
93. Wise
94. Witty
95. Wonder
96. Youthful
97. Zeal

 


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Fig & Goat’s Cheese Fritters Salad with Balsamic Syrup

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

I love this quote.
It reminds that motivation doesn’t just happen, it’s something we have to work at.
Along with my Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port recipe post, I discussed being forced to challenge my rather limited beliefs I held about creativity.
I honestly thought creativity was about the ability to paint and¬†decorate, and therefore confidently declared myself ‘creatively challenged’!
On my journey to redifine my thoughts on creativity, I stumbled across another deeply held yet totally ignorant assumption I had.

I thought if you were creative, your creative ability oozed out of you.

Seriously, I pictured creative people standing in front of an empty canvas and their art just flowing out of them.

Then I read this quote by Michaelangelo:

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”

It started to dawn on me that I had made many half-assed assumptions about what creativity meant!
(Yes, I am hanging my head in shame as I admit this!)
But I am sharing this because this relevation was a huge turning point for me.
I not only realised that creativity took many shapes and forms, I finally understood that creative people worked hard at their art!
I kinda figured, ¬†“If I was meant to be a fitness and figure competitor, I would live and breathe the gym!”
“If I was meant to be a writer, words would just pour out of me.”
You get the gist…

Now I realise that these people are good at what they do because they make themselves do it.
They don’t live in a constant state of motivation,¬†they’re just persistent and consistent at their art.
Whatever it may be.
That’s why I like¬†Zig Ziglar’s quote. It sums up perfectly what I’m trying to say, creativity requires motivation to produce art! Whatever your art may be!

I saw this recipe for Fig & Fried Goat’s Cheese Salad with Balsamic Syrup and honestly, while I wanted to eat it, after another hectic weekend, it was the last thing I wanted to make!
But these days I’ve learnt to focus on how I’m going to feel after the work is done!
So in no time I was cutting, whisking, dipping and frying!

And boy was it worth it!


Fig & Fried Goat’s Cheese Salad with Balsamic Syrup

(More or less as it appears in MasterChef Magazine)

2 x 150g logs soft goat’s cheese
1 cup plain flour
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 lemon zested
150g baby rocket
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
6 purple figs, stems trimmed, torn into quarters
vegetable oil to deep fry

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbs sugar


Method

1. Wrap logs of cheese in plastic wrap roll into even log shapes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Place flour in  one bowl, the beaten eggs in another and the breadcrumbs with lemon zest and 1 tsp salt in a third bowl.

3. Unwrap cheese and cut each log into 12 slices. The recipe recommends greasing your knife (and so do I!).

4. Dip each slice into the flour, eggs and finally the breadcrumbs.

5. Place on a tray and refrigerate for 20 mins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. In the meantime put balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and cool over low heat for about 3 mins or until sugar dissolves.
Then leave to cool.

7. Toss rocket with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and top with the figs.

8. Fill a saucepan or deep fryer about 1/3 full with vegetable oil and heat over medium heat until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds.

9. Lower crumbed cheese into oil and fry until golden. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

10. Top salad with fried cheese and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

 

I really loved this salad!
I meant what I said about being totally exhausted!
My husband took our 13 year-old with a bunch of friends to watch Rhianna on Friday night.|
Saturday she went camping with her friends (and some of the parents) while we went to a 40th.
The 10 year-old had a sleep over at a friend’s and our 3 year-old spent the night with grandparents!
By Sunday night we were all exhausted so we ordered some woodfired pizza for dinner and I made this as the side salad.

When my husband arrived with our pizza, I took one look at the garlic pizza crust and loaded it with the salad.

I didn’t even taste the other pizzas!
It really was amazing!

 

 

 


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Good Stuff and Gratitude

Wineglass Bay – Tasmania

The 4 hour drive from Launceston to Wineglass Bay on the east coast of Tasmania was long, slow and uneventful (except for the wars being waged in the back seat over, well… everything).
It was during this leg of our Tasmanian Christmas vacation that I had a moment of perfect clarity. An Oprah “aha” moment. It was perfect and fleeting. And I knew I had to grab it and flesh it out before it was¬†drowned and lost forever in the singing and wailing coming from behind me.

Life was short and I was spending too much time on things and people that were not serving me. In fact, they were sucking the life right out of me!

This moment lasted seconds but it felt like existential enlightment flooding every inch of my being! It was a very physical experience, I didn’t just think it, I felt it! And for a few fleeting moments, everything made perfect sense!

I decided right there and then to be picky, really picky, with what I allowed to fill my mind!

I resolved to set my standards high and to do everything in my power to fill my mind with good stuff! Exciting, inspirational, “feel good” stuff!

I made an active choice to fill my mind with beauty and creativity.

I identified what dragged me down (and who) and was clear on what fueled me and always set me back on course.

So these days I spend a lot more time here…

And it never fails to shock that pants off me how clear I am when I leave this place! I walk away feeling strong, focused and clear on what and who is  important.

The other thing that has kept me on track is this blog!
If I’m not immersed in putting together the latest post or cooking the latest Dorie recipe, I lose myself in the¬†amazing blogs you guys have. Blogs that feel like a home. Blogs that are lovingly maintained and radiate warmth and personality. Blogs that I look forward to reading simply because they make me feel good.

And then something amazing happened!

These amazing people, whose blogs I admire, actually throw encouragement and acknowledgement my way and make me feel 10-feet tall!

Allison from French Whisk and Yummy Chunklet dished out a Sisterhood of World Bloggers Award!

This award simply asks that you pass it on. I’m kind of new to this blogging thing, but two blogs that have recently struck a chord with me are:

Jane at 7 Sutras

Gina at¬†Gina Marie’s Kitchen

At the same time, Betsy from A Plate Full of Happiness and Katie from Prof Who Cooks awarded me with the Stylish Blogger Award!

Talk about feeling great! I am conscious of sounding like a gushing Gwyneth at the Oscar’s so I’ll just say¬†thank you for the awards!
(And I am pasting the badges on my sidebar with pride!)

This Award has a few more requirements:

1. Thank the Person – thanks again guys!

2. Share 7 things about yourself – I think I’ve shared enough above and don’t want to risk boring anyone anymore!

3. Share 15 blogs you enjoy – again, being kinda new to this I don’t know that many blogs to nominate! But here’s a few that I’ve come across that stood out to me:

Effie at¬†Effie’s Food Corner

Brian at Ottertude

4. Let the Bloggers Know! As it’s after midnight in Sydney, Australia I will do this first thing tomorrow!!!

Good Night!


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“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The last few weeks have been emotionally and physically draining. My father had a heart attack that he was not expected to recover from. Luckily he has recovered and even though he has lost the use of his right leg, we are overjoyed with the progress he has made.

As we have progressed through the wards of the hospital, I have cut down my daily visits from 12 hour bedside vigils to a two to three hour visit. My days are very full and very tiring and as I drive to and from the hospital I find my mind drifting, questioning theories about grief. Running through exercises and passages I have read, asking myself what is useful and even possible when clients come in during times of stress. I have never wanted to be one of those psychologists that just talks at you, telling clients what they should be doing without making the effort to understand or respect what they are telling me. I have also never had the patience to be one of those therapists that sees clients endlessly, listening to them carry on about the same issue and not challenging them (may sound cold but there are clients who do just want to come in and have a bitch or a whinge without any interest or intention to change their lives!)

My dad’s heart attack meant I was now facing one of my biggest¬†keeps you up at night fears.
Most of the time¬†I felt¬†I couldn’t breathe from the pain that seemed to crush my ribs and block my airways!
And then out of nowhere there were moments of perfect clarity that allowed me to step back and observe the process I was going through with objective interest.
Moments where I felt complete acceptance with the cycle of life and I knew that we would all be okay.

So here’s what I learnt from my dad’s heart attack…

1. All the stuff that books tell you doesn’t matter,¬†really doesn’t!
Who cares about the gossip and who said what about who! You have no time or energy or interest¬†in such rubbish!¬†It was like a breath of fresh¬†air. I had perspective and I wanted to make sure that¬†I rememebered what really mattered and more importantly what didn’t matter for the rest of my life. I¬†knew that at some point things would have to return to normal and I didn’t want to waste this experience.

2. You can choose how to respond.
I always felt that I would be one of those women you see on television, you know the one’s that wail, scream and¬†try to throw¬†themselves at the coffin.¬†The thought of losing a family member¬†has always filled me with such anxiety and despair¬†that I never doubted that would be me! Recently I went to¬†a friend’s father’s funeral and this friend of mine conducted herself with so much dignity¬†that I took strength from her.¬†Another friend’s 5 year old has been battling a brain tumor¬†and again I witnessed¬†a woman handle a terrible situation with incredible strength and grace.
I started to build other ways of being in my mind. Seeing these women helped me realise that you can choose how you conduct yourself no matter what is happening. I taught it, but I must confess¬†I had my doubts, the pain with some clients at the loss of a loved one or the loss of a marriage is so intense¬†and¬†debilitating that you can easily¬†be dragged into their worlds and feel as¬†incapacitatingly helpless and hopeless as they feel.¬†If you meet them all the way you will find it hard to see a way out yourself, if you don’t meet them at all, you will¬†never really have an empathic understanding of¬†what they are going through and will not be able to establish that necessary relationship and connection you need to be of use to them. So just like in counselling, in real life it’s finding that balance for yourself where you¬†can grieve but you have the door open to the rest of your life and you can come and go freely.

3.You can only play victim for so long.
I find this hard to say without sounding insulting. I have clients who come in and spend so much time and energy waiting for the world to acknowledge the unfairness of their situation and then fix it. The world does acknowledge it, but then it expects you to move on. I felt surely everyone could see how much I was going through and I felt justified in my grief, until I returned to work and there was a stack of forms and files that needed addressing immediately. I had to work hard at not feeling resentful and sorry for myself! I have seen clients waste so much time and energy refusing the move on. Losing their jobs, their relationships as they cling desperately to the perceived unfairness and injustice of a situation. I’ve seen enough to know there comes a time when you need to accept and move on with your life. The alternative is truly terrifiying! Losing everything and everyone and then realising that it was all for nothing, carrying on will not take away the pain, it just creates more. Nothing will take away the pain, it’s about building a life around it.


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How do I know if he’s the right one for me…

What to do when you start to¬†¬†think that maybe this isn’t the right person for you…

Well kids, this is a topic I am very passionate about because I don’t want to see you in a therapist’s chair 50 or 60 years from now talking about how you wasted your life on someone who never loved you or treated you with respect.

Where is this coming from you might ask?
Many clients, family and friends who spent their lives waiting for the “love of their life” to change and become the man or woman they knew¬†they had the potential to be!

So this advice may be hard to take and you will probably ignore it at first buy you will come¬†back to it at some point. I just hope it’s sooner than later…

 When you are considering getting married, moving in, having children or making any kind of committment with this person, I urge you to look at him or her. Look beyond their great looks! Look beyond their cool attitude and obvious intelligence! Look beyond the great hairstyle, tatts, piercings, car, money or whatever it is that has made you think this is the one!!!

Do you like him or her just as they are.

Now I know this might sound a bit simplistic and even¬†stupid! But I have heard so many times the answer “no” and then followed by “but once they change they’ll make a great husband/wife!”¬†

Don’t marry / stay with someone because you think they have potential!¬†

Potential is something that could possibly happen, as opposed to what you’ve actually got there. See this person as they are. Not the person they could one day be once they kick that drug habit. The person they could be once they get a job. Or one of my favourites, the person you know they could be once they grow up and start acting more responsible! What makes you think they will grow up? And here’s one of the most cringe-worthy answers I get of all time… “once we have kids they’ll have to grow up and take responsibility.” No they won’t!

I know I sound incredibly cynical but consider the following scenarios…

1. When you met him, you knew he smoked pot but you just assumed he would stop one day because that’s what people do. You go on to buy a house, have kids however¬†you can’t go on holidays because he can’t take his pot or whatever drugs there are without getting caught!¬†He disappears into the shed for a while each day and when you ask him what he’s doing he gets angry at you for snooping or not giving him his space. At random times throughout your relationship you’ve discovered drug taking paraphanalia, but he has always said it’s someone else’s or it’s been there for years. He lays around and doesn’t help much or intereact much with you or the children. He gets passed over at work and you know he could achieve so much if he just applied himself and he promises he will, but he never does. Everyone else can see that he’s unreliable and stoned yet you believe him because you don’t want to see it.

2. You’ve been married for 40 or 50 years and one day he dies and finally you find all the evidence and confirmation you need that he had been cheating one you! You pretty much knew it while he was alive, actually he cheated on you while you were dating but you believed him when he said he wasn’t and anyway you weren’t married then and you thought once you were married it would all stop.¬†Now you are left with anger, resentment and bitterness because finally you have all the proof you needed. But too late now.

3. When you met he was so exciting, playful, spontaneous. You thought he was the best thing and you couldn’t believe how lucky you were to have snagged him! You did everything for him! Cooked, ironed, payed his bills and you loved doing this because he needed you. People told you that you were being used but you just cut them out of your life because you thought they were just mean and jealous! Fast forward a few years or even decades and he is still loving life and having fun! You have become bitter and resentful because his playing meant someone had to be the adult and you are tired and exhausted. Finally you see what everyone else!

These are just a few scenarios. There are many, many more!
However I don’t want to lose sight of my point here.
Don’t ignore the niggling doubts, don’t bury you intuition that says there’s something not right here.
And my favourite, don’t ignore the feedback from family and friends!
They know this person better than you and they can see them in an objective light.
And if you think you will change him or her you are kidding yourself! 

I say this because I have seen so many people stuck in relationships that suck the life right out of them!
People stay in these relationships hoping/waiting for their partner to change. To stop taking drugs, stop acting life a child and get a job, stop sleeping around. Because if they stop then everything would finally be okay!

If you stay in a relationship where you are cheated on, trespassed against, abused, taken advantage of, the consequences to you are¬†not pretty. While you have invest all your time and efforts in this person you didn’t realised you had lost yourself in the process. You lose your self respect by behaving in ways that are beneath you. You lose your confidence and you lose your ability to trust yourself and others. It ain’t pretty when you have a person who is well into their 60’s crying about wasting their life on someone who never loved, respected or appreciated them.

I have seen so much anger, resentment, bitterness and pain it would be a damn shame to not take it on board and learn from it! I also think that if their experiences help another human being then it might ease their pain just a little bit to think that it was for something. It had some meaning.


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How Can I Be Happier?

 

We have studied depression in depth for the last century and we know a lot about what makes us miserable! 

Most of have felt depressed at some point in life. We feel down, we don’t really care about much, we have no energy and for a while, life feels unpleasant. But we know we will get through it.

Some people however have more frequent episodes of feeling down and the duration and intensity of these episodes can be used as guides to unresolved psychological problems. Depression is way for the body to communicae to us that there is something wrong. When I talk to my clients about depression I get them to think of it as a continuum rather than a question of “Am I depressed or not?” On one end of the continuum is the mild to moderate range where the experience is painful and uncomfortable. While on the other end we have Bipolar or Manic Depression which is more biological in nature.

Our goal is to treat the problems that the clients present with, to get the levels of depression and anxiety to nil, zero. But people want more than just feeling not depressed, they want to have meaning and happiness in their lives.

This recognition led to¬†a new branch of psychology called Positive Psychology. It is¬†interested in the “scientific study of optimal human functioning.” So the goals is no longer to just¬†identify and treat mental health problems, but also to¬†teach people how to enhance the quality of their lives using¬†substantiated research and findings that have been proven to deliver results.

I like to think of happiness also having a continuum where the more frequency, intensity and duration of symptoms is symbolic of being further along the continuum and feeling happier!

Martin Seligman, on of the founders of Positive Psychology defines happiness as “both positive feelings (such as ecstasy and comfort) and positive activities that have no feeling component at all (such as absorption and engagement)”.

Mihaly Csiskzentmihalyi claims the way to happiness is through “flow”, a state where we are so engrossed in “some activity that time either lengthens or disappears, we no longer notice our surroundings except as related to the activity and any problem or discomfort drops entirely out of mind”.

I used to think “I’ll be happy when…”
I struggled (for a long time!) with the idea that happiness was a choice avalaible to me at any¬† point. I believed that happiness was the end goal, the reward for¬†hard work and suffering!. I remember thinking “if I just went around all day feeling happy I’d never do anything again!” I¬†got really stuck here. I felt accessing happiness just for the sake of it was cheating and fake.

Then one day it dawned on me. When you are happy you are more likely to achieve your goals and succeed! When I feel happy I am excited and energised. I feel at peace and I find it easier to get absorbed in whatever I am doing. I can appreciate my self and my surroundings more. I have increased clarity in thought and inspiration. Feeling happy actually helps me to produce a higher quality of work.

So rather than asking “Am I happy or not?” ask yourself “How can I be happier?” This changes the nature of happiness from something that is the end result to happiness being¬† an ongoing process. Something that is infinite in nature and within your control.

Can you think of something you really want?
Imagine you have it.
A new house, a new car, a new body? Whatever you think will make you feel happy. Now imagine yourself going through the day having this something you treasure. How will you feel about yourself, how will this effect the interactions you have with the world. Will you feel more confident, assured? 
When you have really stepped into the role and can feel this I want you to consider that you just had acces to all those feelings all on your own. They are there, available to you at any moment!  

When you’re happy, nothing has actually changed yet everything suddenly seems different.