Beautiful

This will be the third year I’ve been taken to Christmas Dinner at this particular gastropub. It used to be my local back in the early 1980’s, when I’d go to school a couple of miles down the road. Far enough off the beaten track to be worth the trip, in the days before you went to the pub for a meal. Now, it’s one of only a handful of Essex pubs that make the Good Food handbooks. The last two Christmas Meals have been impressive but this year, they excelled themselves.

menu

I’ve never liked ‘proper’ Christmas dinner, and knowing I have a calorie limit to deal with I decided I’d go high protein. The terrine was worth the trip alone: I know lots of you people are vegetarians (and I do go meat free now more often than I used to) but honestly, the combination of pear chutney with gamy richness was… frankly mind blowing. You got a tiny slice of sour-dough which I thought might blight enjoyment but nope, just the right amount. I’m also really glad I only drank water all night because I feel alcohol would have made me lose all the subtlety in flavour.

I’ve never eaten pheasant before and I could have eaten double of what was presented: it was served on a parsnip mash which went brilliantly with the long, elongated strip of squash and the wild mushrooms which were just… unlike anything I’d ever tasted before and all the more amazing for it. Portion wise it was practically perfect too… even though I could have done it all over again, I feel my trainer would have been happy with the balance and the fact there was no alcohol sullying the experience.

header82

The only issue, amazingly, was dessert. The pear tart was far too heavy, almost stodgy, cinnamon and almond completely lost in both custard and ice-cream as accompaniments (I ended up passing that onto Mr Alt.) There was none of the care or delicacy of the previous courses, and it took a lot of water and two cups of green tea to restore some sanity to my system. It reinforces the point that now I don’t eat sweet stuff nearly as much as was the case, when it is badly done those efforts become all the more jarring to the taste-buds. What I’d hoped would be refined and smart ended up as cloying and restrictive, but was fortunately not enough to destroy the brilliance of the other two courses.

Last night was also a triumph for the concept of mindful eating. I was really hungry on arrival, genuinely anticipating the food, and when it arrived there was no desire to just tear through each course or focus on the alcohol instead. Mouthfuls were appreciated, flavour and texture, the way my mind reacted to new tastes. It became as much about the process as the food itself, and a long conversation resulted on how perhaps Mr Alt and I should go out and enjoy food more than we do, as a couple. I’d really like to do that, and expand my mind more. It wouldn’t be to say I’d been to places, but instead to challenge myself to eat more than the stuff I’m used to, whilst reminding myself how lucky I am to be able to do this to begin with.

header30

This morning, I could do with about another six hours sleep: I have a few things left to do and then Christmas is sorted.

This is the most organised I have ever been, and it is brilliant :D

Think

header76

I am returning to something I never finished before the start of the Summer.

bemindful.png

I began this course before being diagnosed with the gallbladder issues. Without it, I doubt I’d have coped nearly as well with surgery. It seems like the right time to return to it, especially with the peculiar background of World News. Mindfulness, as I have discovered, is not for everybody. In fact, challenging demons is a tough ask for a great many people. I’ve always avoided drugs, mostly because I am well aware of the addictive nature of my personality. Writing has granted a clarity to vision that I have no desire to either diminish or lose. Mindfulness grants an opportunity to listen to yourself, and cope with what is heard.

todaysucks

In my case, this was eminently apparent an hour ago, as I sat in a dentist’s chair for a check up. As a kid there was a horrible incident with gas and air, which I still dream about (and not in a good way.) That makes even sitting in the chair an unpleasant and uncomfortable experience, but today I went with the ability to detach myself from what was happening. As tools whirled and sharp metal things poked my gums, I concentrated on the shape of the chair itself, how it felt under my body and ignored the other sensory inputs. It was, if truth be told, a pretty effective exercise.

This was how I’d rationalised moments that could be dealt with back in May whilst ignoring those things that couldn’t be changed. It is how I’ve quietly and systematically taken out of the equation a number of negative factors affecting my daily output, and pretty much just focussed on good. Of course, nothing is 100% foolproof, and I’ve still had some massive fails along the way (Car getting hit again being a case in point) but, in the main, I can thank mindfulness for quite a bit.

I-understood-that-reference

The next stage is to complete the course. The one I’m taking asks for a fee (£30, $38) and then allows you access to all relevant materials online. You can see what that entails by clicking here. It absolutely won’t be for everybody, and if you’d like to do some more general reading about the concept, try starting here. Like most things in life, treatment depends on knowing what the problems are to begin with. For me, there’s a fairly specific list of issues, and each one is being ticked off in a slow and methodical fashion. Patience has never been my strong point, but as I know how long it takes to learn new skills, there’s no point in getting stressed. Things will happen in their own time, but often that’s not good enough.

In this case, slow and sure is absolutely, totally fine.

Confusion the Waitress

Monday, it must be said, seems a very long way away.

It didn’t help this week that I’ve not had a regular PT session, that my son spent Monday and Tuesday at home, that I spoke to a Therapist on Wednesday and yesterday went outside for longer on my own than I have been for a while. This morning, therefore, I inserted 45 minutes of ashtanga yoga into my day and frankly, the benefits make me wish I’d done this again sooner. The biggest problem I’m having right now, without a doubt, is making sure what I want to do actually gets accomplished. My brain would rather stop thinking, especially with some of the frightening stories I’m reading from across the Globe. I have to remember that there’s only one thing I can control, and that’s myself, so above all else that needs to work ahead of anything.

I am now considering Mindfulness as a way forward in my personal development.

onthego

There is an online course which costs a paltry £30 to access, and I can’t honestly see why I shouldn’t be doing it, especially as my therapist suggested I’m probably going to get at least some kind of benefit from just listening through to the concepts once. Having a willing and open mind can often be a hindrance, because everything gets taken in, good and bad, and then it is up to me to filter and find a level for it all. These are techniques that have fascinated a curious mind for years anyway: rooted in Buddhism, the desire to eliminate noise and to learn to focus on things that really matter whilst elimination the stuff that doesn’t. With a world that is full of stuff I cannot influence, there needs to be a means by which I separate the possible from the damaging.

This, to be honest, seems a great way forward.

mylifegif.gif

I’m tired of accepting there’s no better way. This is an alternative that I’m prepared to grasp, and willing to learn. If it helps me sleep better and feel more confident, it will have been worth the effort alone, and for the price of a meal out? It’s hardly going to impact on my finances. I’ll take the first part on Monday before my PT, and we’ll see where we are from there. I’ll keep you updated on how things go, but I’m already cautiously optimistic that this could be a significant breakthrough, and if it is I will be falling over myself to share. What I really need right now is a continued and clear path forward, but without anybody else’s agenda to worry about but my own.

I think, on consideration, I have absolutely nothing to lose.