Tag Archives: exercise

Introducing Duke from Serendipity

Our granddaughter called. “I probably shouldn’t ask this, but I’m going to ask anyway. I’ve got friends who have to find a home for their dog. How do you feel about another dog?” “Male? Female? How big? House broken? How old?” I think she knew she had a sale because I wasn’t flat-out saying “no.” […]

via JUST CALL HIM DUKE — SERENDIPITY

Dipping My Toe in Yoga.

After all my struggles and contortions trying to put up the clothes horse yesterday, I wondered whether trying yoga was really such a good idea. Indeed, I couldn’t help wondering whether I’d end up in Emergency, tied up in myself like a knotted pretzel.

Take it from me, I’m NOT catastrophizing. I have strings of medical reports to prove it.

Yet, there’s this annoying inner voice determined to overcome all of that: “Rowena, get a grip! Disaster is NOT waiting for you around every corner. You can do it. You are capable. You have overcome numerous hurdles before with Olympic strength and endurance. You can do anything you set your mind to. This may be more than good for you. You might actually enjoy it.”

This voice and I aren’t always on the best of terms, and more than once, we’ve exchanged stern words.

A) Don’t you know I’m too stressed to relax?

B) Can’t you see I’m disabled? How can I do yoga when I can barely walk down a footpath without tripping over?

C) I’m sure there are a whole heap of reasons why I shouldn’t do yoga. I just can’t quite remember them now.

Well, the benefit of this particular yoga class, was that it’s being run by an occupational therapist. Moreover, it was recommended by my physio and a few of her other clients were going, That meant I’d be in safe hands, and I’d also be meeting people in a similar boat. That could also be really fantastic… a whole new social, exercise and potentially coffee group.

So, despite the rain, off I went.

And…I loved it…especially the last 15 minutes when we lay on our mats with a lavender eye mask on and a blanket over me, doing my deep breathing. I felt such a strong sense of well-being. It washed over me like a warm wave of kindness and I’d received a much needed inner hug.

Meanwhile, even my toes got stretched and that’s a good thing.

Have you launched out and tried something new lately? Or, is there something you’ve been putting off? Why not have a go?!!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend.

xx Rowena

White Chocolate Rocky Road

Last Christmas, my aunt made this irresistible White Chocolate Rocky Road. She also made this thing called Reindeer Bark where she recycles all those dreaded Christmas candy canes crushing them up and sprinkling the coloured gems over the top of the melted milk chocolate “bark”. She’s like the Christmas Lolly Fairy… a dazzling Pied Piper attracting anyone with a sweet tooth. Don’t tell her this but I’m pretty sure this is why she’s so popular with the wee folk!!

Anyway, last Christmas along with the delectable treats my cousin “the chef” brought from work, I was completely lead astray by the Christmas Lolly Fairy and her platter of White Chocolate Rocky Road, especially when she whispered: “I only use the good Turkish Delight, you know!” Ah! If you have tried the real thing you never forget it. It’s that gooey rose-scented stuff which still sticks to your fingers and everything it touches despite a dusting of “snow”.

Of course, in the great tradition of family recipes, my aunt had thrown the ingredients together and gave me a list of ingredients bt then I was on my own. Potentially facing an absolute disaster using ingredients you don’t want to waste, it’s times this when you yearn for The Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbooks with their legendary Test Kitchen where everything is tried three times before getting their expert seal of approval to go into print. This means they’re convinced that recipe is absolutely fail proof and just like The Titanic…unsinkable!!

Only use this authentic, fresh, rose-scented Turkish Delight!

Only use this authentic, fresh, rose-scented Turkish Delight!

After two goes, I was happy with the results. I must stress that you must use the gooey fresh rose-scented Turkish Delight as that is the key feature of this White Chocolate Rocky Road. While this recipe hasn’t been tried and tested in the Australian Women’s Weekly Test Kitchen, it has certainly passed muster here more than 3 times…especially with my husband who loves white chocolate!

It might be getting too late to make this for Christmas Day, although judging by the crowds at the supermarket Geoff encountered today and the greeting from the guy at the checkout: “Welcome to Hell”, I’m not the only one doing some last minute baking. My excuse is that I like everything to be fresh. Anyway, even if you don’t get it made before Christmas, it’s will make a wonderful treat for the Holidays.

By the way, not that I mean to pick on our puppy the inimitable Lady, but I caught her eating the fresh Turkish Delight the other day. That’s right. The greedy pup had eaten an entire try of Turkish Delight. I’m pretty sure she had accidently or very cleverly knocked the Turkish Delight out of the pantry while wagging her tail. She wags her tail a lot and is a very happy little dog but she’s also an accomplished food thief. I no longer give her the benefit of the doubt. She is usually guilty as charged.

Ingredients

600g melted good quality white chocolate

1.5 cups rice bubbles

1.5 cups roasted Macadamia Nuts

1 cup desiccated coconut

1.5 cups white marshmallows

Fresh rose-flavoured Turkish Delight (use your discretion)

Directions

  1. Line a lamington tin with baking paper.
  2. Snip the marshmallows in half with a clean pair of scissors and put to one side.
  3. Break white chocolate up into pieces. Place in a large microwave-proof bowl and melt on high for 1 minute and stir. It may need extra time. Check the chocolate for further instructions.
  4. Cool a little.
  5. Add rice bubbles, macadamia nuts, marshmallows and coconut to melted chocolate. You might want to chop the macadamias but personally, I like the large chunks of nut.
  6. Chop the chunks of Turkish Delight roughly into four and carefully fold through the white chocolate mix. The Turkish Delight is quite gooey and you want it to spread a little throughout the mix but not get lost.
  7. Refrigerate and cut into squares using a warm knife (pour boiling water into a mug and dip the knife in after each use and wipe dry.
  8. Keep refrigerated. It tastes best when it is served at room temperature and has been left out of the fridge for about 15 minutes before serving. In Australia, our summers can get incredibly hot, so it also depend on your conditions.

Enjoy! Wishing you love and Blessing this Christmas and throughout the New Year!!

Xx Rowena

Christmas 2014.

This is my piece!

This is my piece!

Walking Through The Storm

Walking Through The Storm

Inbetween the tides,

I walk my dogs

along the waterfront

leaving footprints

and pawprints behind

in the muddy sand…

At least, for now.

The dogs out walking.

The dogs out walking.

Time and tide giveth

but they also taketh away…

There is no forever here.

No eternity.

Only this very instant.

This particular tick-tock

of the wretched clock.

Tick-tock and it’s gone.

The decaying jetty is returning to the sea.

The decaying jetty is returning to the sea.

In this millionaire’s paradise,

jetties lie dead and dying,

falling plank by rotten plank

into the hungry sea.

Moss rises from the murky depths

taking over, moving in.

Green so green…

so much more

than just a three day growth,

there’s now really quite a beard.

Oysters colonise the piers

an aggressive exoskeleton

Layer upon razor-sharp cutting layer.

It’s now getting hard to see

even a patch of wood

through the decay.

Time and tide

wait for no one…

Dark, menacing clouds loom overhead

grumbling and complaining.

Although the tide has barely budged,

the rain is almost here.

We must walk on.

Stretch our wings.

Soar high above the water,

over the hills and into our dreams.

There is no turning back.

We haven’t reached nirvana yet.

With only the crust exposed,

the beach is still buried underwater.

I duck under the jetty,

a tight squeeze

through its sinister jagged maze

but there’s no turning back.

Holding my breath,

little bit by little bit,

I inch my way through.

It’s hardly Mt Everest

but I survived.

I have to keep walking.

Time and tide wait for no one.

Neither does the rain!

The dogs are sniffing.

Sniffing, sniffing, sniffing.

With more dog smells

than their wildest dreams,

it’s dog utopia.

Yet, heaven help him

if he finally met

his perfect match.

My boy is rather scared

of other dogs.

Raindrops start falling

on my head.

More than just

a little pitter patter.

Drip-drop.

It’s a dumping,

drenching,

pouring,

downpour.

Dogs,

camera,

self…

all diving for cover.

Lightening’s flashing.

I’m saturated to the very skin.

Two sopping wet, stinky dogs

and we’re not even home yet.

We could be dry.

Yet, we inhale the storm.

Electricity almost passing through me,

I feel strangely alive

as my children watch

through the window.

Crying, wondering whether

Mummy will survive.

Mummy!

Mummy!

Mummy!

How could I

walk on the wild side

when I’d been warned

about the rain?

Yet, in this great balancing act

between life and death

How can we live

while holding our breath?

Crouching in the nest

too afraid to spread our wings

and finally learn to fly?

Carpe diem

Seize the day!

Why be dead

before we die?

Time and tide wait for no one!

Bilbo and I in the laundry sopping wet but we made it back.

Bilbo and I in the laundry sopping wet but we made it back.

Rowena, Palm Beach, Sydney

When A Walk Becomes a Journey…

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu.

When, for whatever reason, you have been unable to leave the house and do a simple thing like walk your kids to school or take the dog for a walk even around the block, these much, much quoted words truly resonate…echo.

I don’t take that first step, or those first few stumbling steps which follow, for granted. I treasure and appreciate each and every step because even though I am out and about these days, I know they are precious… a veritable miracle.

When it comes to measuring our self-esteem, it is very easy to get caught up in so many complicated and convoluted traps and so many of us measure our self-worth by what we earn and not what we give back. Spending time with people is so commonly devalued, especially when those people happen to be our children…our very own flesh and blood who arrived in this world to such fanfare and yet…

I am as guilty of this as the next person and due to my chronic health issues, operate on a pretty short piece of string these days. One busy day, is usually followed by at least a day in bed. That means that managing my energy levels is quite a balancing act. I can actually be quite well but the chemo treatment around Christmas time, has sabotaged my efforts, leaving my memory shot and my time management abilities non-existent. It’s been quite difficult even getting the kids out the door to school. Strangely, while I’ve been struggling with so many things, I’ve ironically been doing my best writing ever, so things don’t always make sense.

Pumpkin Soup with sour cream and chives.

Pumpkin Soup with sour cream and chives.

After sleeping away most of yesterday after a big day Thursday, I woke up full of beans this morning and made us all traditional porridge and decided to walk to the shops to buy the ingredients for the pumpkin soup I planned to make for lunch. Pumpkin Soup is Mister’s absolutely favorite and yet, no doubt due to my difficulties cutting up pumpkin due to my muscle disease, I have never made it for him and he is now ten years old. We have been doing our home cooking project for 6 months now and while I’ve been intending to make it all along, it’s taken a long six months and many detours to get there. Winter has also set in and so it really is soup weather. Hot soup doesn’t quite seem right in a hot Australian summer!

This walk wasn’t quite as straight-forward as it seems. There was myself, two kids and the dog along with my walking stick and the shopping cart. I used to walk down to the shops with dog, pram and toddler detouring via the beach before the auto-immune disease was diagnosed. I was actually doing these walks right up until I was hospitalised because I was thinking that if I didn’t use it, I’d lose it so the worse I became, the more I walked and the worse I became. Not good!

I can’t remember the last time that I walked to the shops with the kids and the dog and we also took a trendified version of one of a granny shopping cart with us so we could get all our groceries home. My husband usually does the shopping at night on his way home from work without the kids. This has been a very conscious and deliberate strategy for us as the kids have been difficult enough without the added pressure of taking them to the supermarket.

But they are growing up. They’re no longer in the terrible twos and you would hope that by ages 10 and 8, that they could possibly be useful in the supermarket instead…and they were. Walking along, Mister took the dog. Miss took the shopping cart and I had my walking stick…just to be careful. I still haven’t recovered from my last fall and finished the antibiotics this morning. Yes, my grazed knee became infected thanks to my immune-reducing drugs. I don’t need another fall!

I also wanted the kids to have the educational experience of going to the supermarket and looking at the fruit and veg in particular and being part of the selection process. This was quite helpful as I have a lot of trouble finding foods which our kids actually eat and they both added healthy choice to the cart such a mandarins which are also in season.

Another reason for walking to the shops, is that I am starting to talk to the kids about reducing our food miles. Buying Australian fruit and veg is good but I am becoming more conscious of what we are eating to the point of trying to buy food which is grown in our local area. However, the easiest way to start reducing our food miles is to walk to the shops instead of driving the car. Depending on my energy levels, this is something we can change relatively easily and the dog will also thank us. He has been going for “walks” in the car unless we are on holidays where he can run freely at the beach. He is a big, burly border collie and historically he’s been very difficult to manage on walks.

I couldn’t help feeling like some amazing explorer as we set off. The shops are only about 400 metres away, including Woolworths and Aldi. It was hardly a remarkable adventure but for our family it meant erasing a very definite line in the sand and being free to go.

Of course, our walk wasn’t incident free but instead of Mummy falling over being the challenge, it was the dog. The dog often ignores us completely at home, earning him the title of “snob dog” but take him to the shops and tie him up and he turns into absolute jelly and he’s crying, howling, barking. You could say “Not Happy Jan!” He attracted quite a lot of concerned looks and pats as well as a few raised eyebrows and the kids took turns comforting him. He seemed to be alright when he could see me but was otherwise a blubbering mess…dreadful separation anxiety.

We also had a few extra purchases on route. My daughter has a thing for presents and after good school reports for both kids, I indulged a little.

These are all lovely reasons for going for a family walk but our walk also had a much more serious undertone. While everybody needs to exercise for about 30 minutes per day, for me this exercise is potentially a life-saver. Exercise prevents chest infections, which could very easily lead to pneumonia or worse. Exercise, along with getting a bit of sun (I am not allowed to get a lot of sun) is also very good for my mental health and fighting off the infernal black dog which has been creeping up on me lately. My recovery is taking longer than expected and I keep battling with all the chaos of chemo brain, infected knees and…life. By going walking with the kids, I am spending time with them while getting my exercise and they are also with me if there’s a problem. We also had my phone and my husband, who was at home working on the car, was prepped to come to our individual or collective rescue but only needed to help us get our rather overloaded shopping cart back inside the house. We managed to fit about a boot load of shopping into the cart, including quite a lot of fairly heavy items and I had no trouble managing it, although the kids could only manage short bursts.

Our rather pregnant shopping cart is about to give birth!

Our rather pregnant shopping cart is about to give birth!

We had a fabulous time.

Now, stay tuned for Pumpkin Soup.

xx Rowena

 

On Yer Bike, Mummy!

It’s a conspiracy! As much as I have endeavored to avoid exercise, it still finds me. Despite my very best avoidance techniques, it still haunts me like an obsessive, deranged stalker. There is no escape!

Why? Why does it still bother? Why doesn’t it just give me up as a lost cause?

I don’t know because I’ve seriously played hard to get. I’ve prayed for rain so I wouldn’t have to go swimming. Back at school, I was permanently excused from PE after having an asthma attack during the cross country. I was sent off to sick bay where sister gave me cough mixture and then sent me back to class. I was away from school for a few days after that and my parents wrote a stern note. Forget being stoic. This had been some kind of near-death experience and needed to be taken seriously. I wasn’t allowed to do cross-country ever again!!  I have to confess that I also felt like I was going to drown in the school pool. That was when we were doing our Bronze Medallions in lifesaving and I had to swim lap after gruelling lap fully clothed to pass. It was torture! I was excused for awhile after that too.

I was pretty sure that  I’d done enough exercise back at school…especially after completing the cross-country asthma attack and all. Apparently, I was mistaken. You see, exercise isn’t like fat, which you just keep storing up. Exercise runs out. In fact, it runs out pretty quickly because you need to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes three times a week for the term of your natural life. On the other hand, when it comes to fat, that one chocolate bar you ate ten years ago is still hanging round your hips and waving at you every time you look sideways in the mirror. It’s not going anywhere.

I also have another more personal gripe with exercise these days. Quite frankly, you’d think having a muscle-wasting disease would let me off the hook? That I’d never have to do exercise ever, ever again!! That I could just curl up in my arm chair and go to sleep? Let someone else do all the exercise on my behalf?

You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But even as a “sick” person, I still have to exercise. That was what the lung specialist prescribed to help improve my lungs… rotten exercise. Of course, he didn’t prescribe some luscious chocolate pill to get me better. Oh no! He had to prescribe exercise!

I also have to admit that as much as I protest, my muscles work better with a bit of exercise…use it or quite literally in my case, lose it!

Moreover, I hate to admit it but what they say about exercising improving your mood is true…especially when it also involves conquering personal hurdles. I felt great afterwards, even if my legs were a bit sore and my ankles are a bit stiff and sorry tonight.

I am yet to find out if I sleep any better. For that, I actually have to go to bed!!

However, as much as I need to exercise for my health, that wasn’t why I went bike riding this afternoon.

It was a small, soft voice inviting me for a bike ride: “Mummy, I want to go bike riding with you!” Miss looked at me with those huge, grey-blue eyes which don’t always understand that I can’t do everything that other mothers can do. She is just a little seven year old girl who wants to go bike riding with her mum.  That’s all. So how could I resist?

I could do it!!

It’s been at least 8 years since I last rode my bike. I was a bit apprehensive but I couldn’t really see any reason why I couldn’t do it. I just wouldn’t be able to ride very far.

Mummy riding her bike.

Mummy riding her bike.

Mummy getting on her bike was a photo opportunity or at least it was for me. It was a gold medal moment.

The kids, on the other hand, just took my bike ride for granted. Of course, Mummy can ride a bike. That’s normal.  What they’d expect. I don’t remember hearing “well done,Mummy!” afterwards  but they did enjoy bike riding together. That was special. For us, doing things like bike riding together are special and not something we can take for granted.

Bike riding with the kids

Bike riding with the kids

Actually, going for a bike rise together was quite a big deal for us even though it was only in the cul-de-sac down the street. Miss only learned to ride her bike two weeks ago and Mister finally got there last weekend after quite a few stop starts. That was quite a relief. We have been trying to teach them to ride their bikes without training wheels. Miss finally had a proper go and picked it up pretty quickly whereas Mister was vowing never to get back on his bike ever again after he had a bit of a crash at my parents’ place. He had sounded pretty determined but there’s something about your little sister learning to do something before you  that can be pretty motivating…in a nice way of course. Miss loves riding her bike and has been riding almost every day and she has a kind of infectious enthusiasm that drags you along with her, even though she can also be a pretty shy kid at times.

It’s also been hard to teach them how to ride a bike when I haven’t been well and we’ve had hospital visits for my treatments every third Sunday. I was starting to think I was going to have to add teaching the kids to ride a bike to my bucket list…not that I have one. I’m going to be immortal. I’m never going to die. Well, not yet anyhow!!

I am quite stoked that the bike riding went well. As much as I joke about avoiding exercise, I’ve had some serious attempts because my life may literally depend on it and I’d be a fool not to do it.  I quite like walking but have had some serious falls due to cracked footpaths, weak ankles and no doubt the muscle disease. I am hoping that riding my bike might be a much safer option. I have been swimming for a few months but it’s starting to get cold now and I might have a break for a few months. So the bike riding has come at a good time. It got my lungs working and it’s a form of exercise I can do with the kids.

As much as part of me wouldn’t mind being a one-ride wonder, the bike riding isn’t going to end there. There are now plans to ride the bikes to school. Miss also thinks I should go bike riding to get fit.

“On yer bike, Mummy!”

In the meantime, I’ll be off to watch Mister and possibly the pair of them play Australian Rules Football in the morning. I had been hoping the game had been washed out but I’m out of luck. The exercise conspiracy continues.

xx Rowena

PS I was just uploading the photos for my post and I was struck by the ordinariness of these photos. We live metres away from a beautiful, stunning beach which would make such a stunning backdrop to our bike riding photos but we weren’t ready to venture that far afield today and so our photos celebrate the everyday, the ordinary without dressing it all up and turning it into some fancy moment. It was just great to just be!