The Tree of Life (4)

© Richard Morgan

As you may well know by now, I’m a fan of coconut oil and its many valuable uses.

Here’s a link to a clear and informative article by Claudio Caldeira at Glo Beauty which contains some unusual tips on using this precious oil:

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

Lunch Boxing

Our Lunch Boxes

In an interesting article by Kelli Gardener from GroomandStyle.com entitled Eating at Home vs Eating Out, she talks about the fact that we often can’t choose the size of a restaurant portion and that pushes us to overeat.

I’ve been eating out quite a bit at lunch time in recent years.

Brigitte (my wife) works in a school about half an hour away in Yvonand and I often drive over and we go for lunch somewhere in Yverdon, which is the nearest sizeable town.

We’re lucky because there are a number of good restaurants in the area near the ice skating rink and parking is easy.

Something that was beginning to bother me though, was that we’d often take food home with us in cardboard or aluminium precisely because we didn’t want to overeat at lunchtime.

I’d order a pizza, for example, eat maybe two-thirds of it and then take the rest home in one of those take-away cardboard pizza boxes.

The sheer wastage of these pizza boxes, destined to be thrown away as soon as we got back home, started to get to me.

So rather than compromise and eat more than we wanted to, we got some varying sizes of food boxes and now we take home the pizza and other food portions in those.

It seems the perfect way not to overeat and act against wastage at the same time.

Of course, you have to wash the boxes after use and remember to put them back in the car and take them with you the next time you eat out.

Sometimes we forget.

In spite of this, I think we’ve managed to cut down considerably on wastage from eating out.

After all, there are only two solutions if you want to avoid overeating. Leave the rest on the plate or take it home.

If the food is good, it’s a waste to leave it on the plate. It will only get thrown away. It deserves a better fate than that.

We frequently get an extra meal in the evening out of a lunchtime restaurant portion with the result that eating out is not so expensive after all. It’s often little more expensive than buying a sandwich and I’d much rather have a hot meal – or two – for the same price or less.

So if you find that the portions in restaurants are overlarge, don’t hesitate to ask to take the rest home. You might feel awkward asking to begin with. You might even be afraid of what other people might think. But it’s a mark of respect for all the work that goes into preparing that food, from field to kitchen, and towards the food itself.

And if you bring your own boxes, you don’t even need to ask.

You can just put the food in the boxes yourself.

The link to Kelli’s article again:

Eating at Home vs Eating Out

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard


Mental Clutter

Newhaven, UK Photo:©RCM

Does your mind look something like this?

Well, here’s an exercise for the beginning of this year.

Write down all the recurrent thoughts that you have.

Doesn’t matter what they are about. Just write them down.

I mean the thoughts that keep on coming back over and over and have done for some time.

*

Let me give you an example.

A long time ago, I bought 10 coupons to go for a sauna at a local fitness gymn. There were 2 coupons left about five years ago.

Now I often drive through the village where the fitness gymn is situated and I’ve often thought that it was high time that I used up the last coupons.

But then I realised that I’d misplaced the coupons.

Now the thought became two:

“I really must find those coupons.”

“We really must use them up.”

More complicated.

I even looked for them once or twice without success.

I don’t know how many times I thought to myself that I must find those coupons or that I must use them up, but quite a few.

Finally, in November a friend came to visit.

As part of a general cleanup in preparation for his visit, I cleared off the piano in the living room.

Amongst the clutter, I came at last upon the coupons.

That got rid of one thought. Now we just had to use the coupons.

A couple of weeks ago, we finally got around to using them.

Great, I thought to myself. One less thing I have to think about.

Does this all sound familiar?

*

Physical clutter is easier to distinguish because it is physical. Mental and emotional clutter is more insidious and more difficult to eradicate.

Now I’m not suggesting a miracle cure for these thoughts that keep coming back to haunt us. You won’t get rid of them all in five minutes.

But I suggest you take a quiet moment to yourself to write down as many of them as possible.

Choose one that you can do something about.

Then do it.

That will be one less piece of clutter floating around in your mind.

Then try to do something about another one. And so on.

Don’t try to do everything at once. Just choose one at a time.

I guarantee you will feel better and you will have a little more space in your mental house to move around. Maybe even to think about things that you really want to.

*

Of course, if you’ve hung on to the thought for long enough, this isn’t quite the end of the process. It will leave a trace.

Now I drive through the village and think:

‘Thank God I found those coupons and used them up!’

Which is still a thought which doesn’t need to be there.

But at least it’s a positive one.

And eventually, I’ll be able to drive though the village and only think that occasionally or not at all.

It does, however, underline the importance of getting started.

The quicker you get on to these thoughts and resolve them, the quicker you can move on.

And the shorter the trace time.

*

I hope that 2019 brings you excellent health and your heart’s desires (as long as that hurts no one else!)

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard


The Tea Chest

When I was a kid, I went on holiday with my family once and we stayed at a place in the West Country, UK.

The owner told us a story about a woman he knew who’d been a missionary in China all her life and had just come back to England. He was bemoaning the fact that all her possessions for shipment had fitted into a tea chest. He thought that it was incredibly sad that she had worked all her life with so little to show for it and my parents agreed.

‘Just one tea chest of things, after a lifetime of work,’ he kept saying.

I was perhaps about fourteen at the time, but this story has stuck in my mind over the years, probably because I wasn’t sure whether I agreed with the others about this even at the time.

There was something about the discipline involved in not collecting stuff or in making the choice to throw a lot of it away that rather impressed me.

I’ve got to say that I’m a work in progress where hoarding is concerned. My wife would certainly say that I’m a hoarder.

But I think I know the limitations of possessions pretty well.

One of my favourite self-quotes is, ‘More is not necessarily better,’ and that applies to everything but especially to music, I’ve found.

It’s amazing how the desire to embellish and vary can kill the emotion.

In architecture too.

But there are some possessions I’d rather not be without and maybe one should start from that end and work backwards.

My Petrof, for example, even if I don’t play it nearly enough at the moment.

What possessions would you rather not be without?

All good wishes for the Christmas season and for 2019.

May your life never become an endurance test….

Love

Richard

P.S.  I must give credit where due.  I was reminded of this story while reading a short post by Derek Sivers entitled Subtract.  Well worth the read!

Of Spaces and Objects

Anyone who watched Hsieh Su-Wei playing in the Autralian Open Tennis Championships at the beginning of the year shouldn’t find it in the least surprising that she knocked out the world number one Simona Halep at the Wimbledon championships.

What distinguishes her play from virtually any other tennis player on the circuit is that her tennis is not based on brute force but on intelligence.

She hits the ball where the other player isn’t.

To understand the importance of this, it is perhaps interesting to reflect a little on the way we perceive things.

Way back when we were hunter gatherers, I imagine that our main visual concern was objects, and in particular objects that moved. A space would not have been threatening. A moving animal might well have been. Or a source of food. Hence our vision historically more attuned to moving objects than still ones and our lack of concern over spaces.

Have you ever been behind a driver on the road who brakes every time there is a vehicle coming in the opposite direction ? This is particularly flagrant with a large vehicle like a lorry or a bus. The driver in this case is concentrating on the object rather than the space available, which is usually more than sufficient. If the driver was concentrating on the space on the road ahead, he would not even be braking.

The same thing happens when a vehicle slows down to turn right (left if you are in the UK). 99% of the time, the car behind will slow right down as well. The left side of the road may be completely clear and overtaking the car no problem at all, but the car stays behind the car turning off until the road is completely clear. No end of time is wasted because of this. Again, the driver behind is concentrating on the object and not the space available.

Now, I’m not an expert in tennis. But in the last couple of years, I have watched quite a lot of highlights of matches on YouTube. I don’t have a TV and life is too short to sit through two and three hour matches most of the time anyway.

But through watching these highlights, one thing becomes clear.

The person who usually wins the point is the one who gets the opponent to run. And this involves hitting the ball where the other person isn’t.

Which brings us back to Hsieh Su-Wei.

If I was coaching a female tennis player, I would look very closely at those matches in the Australian Open. As things stand, there are far too many women trying to play tennis like men. There’s a lot of bashing away from the baseline, hitting directly to the opponent, with no real strategy at work at all. It may have something to do with the fact that the majority of tennis coaches for women seem to be men. I don’t know.

But from my point of view, any repetitive rally back and forth hitting the ball as hard as possible to the other player is a pure waste of energy on the part of both players. Sure, one or other of the players will eventually make a mistake, but it’s a very energy inefficient way of winning a point. The error rate is usually too low for this to be a viable « strategy. » They are professional players, after all.

Hsieh Su-Wei doesn’t play tennis like a man. She is not a power player. She uses her intelligence, varies her shots and exploits spaces. Watching her play is a pure delight. She usually breaks a baseline power rally very quickly, after a couple of shots.

Some players have immense presence on court. Serena Williams, for example.

Remember that driver who kept braking every time he saw a truck coming the other way.

I see her opponents behaving in exactly the same way. It’s as if all they see is the tennis player – their respect or awe prevents them from seeing and exploiting the spaces.

Serena Williams is a very fit player indeed. But she isn’t the best mover about the court. And the times when people beat her are the times when they really get her to run about.

And it’s strange because afterwards, those same players who managed to beat her by using the spaces don’t seem to understand why they won and the next time, there they are bashing away at her from the baseline again and dumbfounded because it doesn’t work.

No one can trade power strokes from the baseline better than Serena Williams. The outcome is a foregone conclusion.

All this to underline the importance of watching spaces, even if our vision is more drawn to objects.

Have a great week.

And may your life never become an endurance test.

My Left Shoe

The famous shoe….

On a trip to Porto in the North of Portugal last month, I made the mistake of trying to go for a swim in the sea.

The Atlantic waves hit the shore there with terrific force. After all, there’s nothing between there and the East coast of America to stop them.

Now I’m a strong swimmer and trips to the seaside never go by without my swimming in the sea. But in this case, I must admit I hesitated.

I stood and watched the waves for some time on this particular afternoon. The sea seemed calmer than it had for a couple of days.

I chose my moment and launched myself forward.

I never got to swim.

The waves threw me about a bit and knocked me down unceremoniously.

It felt like a betrayal considering my privileged relationship with water.

I crawled out as best I could, but not before the sea had swallowed my left shoe.

An outrage!

Now this was my favourite pair of shoes.

I can walk, run, swim, do virtually anything in my Vivo Barefoot Ultras and they’re as light as anything. I think it’s great to be able to wash them easily too.

I wear them all the time.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to lose one.

A man who was walking his dog on the beach looked rather concerned as I emerged from the water. He talked to me in rapid Portuguese, which I don’t speak, and he didn’t speak any English.

I managed to communicate that I had lost a shoe.

And he managed to communicate, as our attempts at conversation continued, with some additional drawing in the sand thrown in, that I should return between 9 and 10 the following morning because that was when the waves would be at their strongest and that I should look on the shore to the north of the point where I had lost it.

The Beach….

So we did.

I can’t say that we really believed we would find it. The chances seemed very slim.

It was raining as we progressed along the beach and my wife and I walked for a while, inspecting jetsam brought in by the sea.

But suddenly, at a distance and in front of a group of rocks, I spied my shoe.

It was sitting proudly upright on the sand as if held out on the outstretched palm of the ocean.

There wasn’t even any sand in it.

I was overjoyed as you can imagine. It really made my day to be reunited with my shoe.

A lesson in humility and hope.

Have a great Ascension weekend.

Love

Richard


P.S. I saw the man later on the same day, so I was able to thank him properly for his help.

P.P.S. Associate Links!

Midnight Positivity Ritual

Unusual Cloud
© R Morgan

I know I’ve talked about thankfulness before, but I think it’s worth reminding you about it again.

Here’s a little video from Mindvalley with a twist that you might find useful:

The ‘Midnight Positivity Ritual’ – How To Make Gratitude Your Default Setting | Dr. Srikumar Rao

I must admit that I don’t actually do this myself before I go to bed.

But I do first thing in the morning and during the day whenever I can.

I can’t stress this enough:

Being thankful is probably the most important habit to get into if you want to develop a positive mindset.

You may think you’ve got nothing to be thankful for, but if you sit down for a moment, I’m sure you can come up with something.

And then something else.

And then….

And then….

And just being thankful once in a blue moon isn’t good enough. You need to make it a habit.

‘We are what we repeatedly do,’ as Aristotle said.

And it’s not enough to think thankful, you’ve got to feel it, as the good doctor in the video says.

You may start without much enthusiasm, but that will come if you keep it up.

And you may wonder to whom you should say that you’re thankful.

It can be God, the Force, Father Christmas, your life compagnon, your pet or even just yourself.

Just do it.

It will force you to look outwards rather than inwards.

It will put all your troubles into perspective.

And I guarantee you’ll feel happier about yourself and your life and those around you will be happier with you too.

Here’s the video link again:

The ‘Midnight Positivity Ritual’ – How To Make Gratitude Your Default Setting | Dr. Srikumar Rao

Have a great weekend.

May you life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

B00UJAP5JM

The Tree of Life 3

© Richard Morgan

 

You may have seen the other two posts that I wrote about coconut oil on this site, The Tree Of Life and The Tree Of Life 2.

I just wanted to give you a heads-up about this article on BBC News:

Is Coconut Oil a Superfood?

The medical establishment has of late been trying to trash the idea that coconut oil is good for you.

Worse than butter for your heart, they say.

About the same as eating beef fat, they say.

The usual arrogance and ignorance.

So you’ll be pleased and reassured to read this article and see that an independent test comparing extra virgin coconut oil with extra virgin olive oil and unsalted butter proved the value of coconut oil in keeping ‘good’ HDL cholesterol up and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol down.

It beat the others with ease.

Here’s the link again.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend whatever you decide to eat….

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

Talking in the Same Room

In a cabin on a ferry crossing the Channel

For the first seven years of our life together, my wife and I shared a one room studio apartment with a tiny kitchen and a bathroom.

There was a magnificent white cherry tree outside the window and a view over pasture that has now, unfortunately, been heavily built upon.

We didn’t have a great deal of money.

Fast forward to now.

We have more money.

We have a house with different floors and a number of rooms.

There is a small hedged garden which requires quite enough work, but not too much.

We are fortunate enough to live in the countryside with more cows than human beings.

Now here’s the thing:

In which abode do you think it was easier to communicate?

Answer: the studio.

If you only have one room, your interlocutor is obviously in the same room.

But the more rooms you have, the greater the chance that the person you want to talk to is in another room, on another floor, in the garden.

Communication becomes more complicated.

There is interference of all kinds: kitchen noise, bathroom noise, music, computers, mobile phones and so on.

There is more clutter in every sense of the word.

You have to repeat yourself a lot.

We actually enjoy staying at hotels and studios or taking cabins on ferries whilst travelling because it takes us back to those days when communication was simple and there was not a lot else in the room besides ourselves.

So my question to you is this:

What percentage of your conversations with your loved ones takes place in the same room?

If you feel frustrated because there is less than perfect communication with your partner or family, then this might be a place to start.

Particularly if you turn the mobile phone off.

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

 

 

2018 and Manhole Covers

I’ve had several ideas for posts to kick off the new year but nothing seemed quite right until I saw this story on the BBC app:

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-42685022/japan-s-elaborate-manhole-covers

I share this because I thought it was fascinating and I hope you do too.

There is something really encouraging about taking an everyday object that is disregarded and even despised and turning it into a work of art.

Sneaky Japanese!

And just at the end, we learn that they’ve been doing this for 40 years.

How come nobody else has cottoned on?

It’s a lesson to all of us.

Perhaps we too could take our everyday lives and turn them into works of art in this year of 2018….

Have a great year!

And may your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard