Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Goals 2008

The Sacred Journey Daily Journal has been my daily companion since 2005. It sits on the arm of my chair and I write in it every single day. I tailor to my specific needs; it is very adaptable. I use it to set goals for the year, write affirmations, goals, etc, for each month, take note of blessings as they occur, make monthly collages of images from the month (ticket stubs, photos, quotations that people have said to me, all sorts of things), track my exercise, weight, meditation practice, as well as more mundane things like doctors appointments and my work schedule. I highly recommend it.

Anyway, on to the topic at hand. My goals for the year.'Precise goals produce clear results. Once we become specific, the actions we need to take will be clearer, and our goals will begin to manifest.' This has always been my experience: the more specific the goal, the more likely that it will be achieved. The key is to 'find a balance between pursuing goal-oriented ambitions and engaging in the flow of life, free from preconceived ideas about how our life must be.' So, remaining open to changing goals if my life takes me in unexpected directions, here are my goals for 2008:

1. Practise regular sitting and walking meditation. (Daily 7.30 AM and 8.00 PM)
2. Find a Buddhist practice centre. (Contact one per quarter)
3. Engage more with the community through exploring interest groups to get involved. (Attend at least one meeting per quarter)
4. Increase ISA savings to set amount. (No need to post online!)
5. In addition to ISA contributions, set aside 10% gross in separate savings account.
6. If I dip into ISA or savings, pay self back in addition to regular savings/ISA contributions within set amount of time. Put unexpected extra cash (like that pops up very often!) straight into savings.
7. By end of 2008, have an investment plan and retirement/estate plan. (No need for detail online).
8. Apply for at least one new job each quarter or make note of why not.
9. Weight training 3 times a week, cardio 1-2 times per week, yoga 3 times per week.
10. Eat raw food as part of every meal and as one snack each day. (We eat too much cooked food).
11. Go somewhere fun during annual leave, but don't think you have to travel somewhere every time you have a day off! It's okay to stay home sometimes. :)
12. Get that stupid drivers licence before the end of the year.

There they are. They may not sound like much, but I have been working on these goals for the last three weeks. My journal for 2008 is all set up and ready to go. Roll on New Year!

In light of these goals, I'd also like to add a note about the present moment. It's so easy to get caught up in regretting the past and planning for the future that we forget to be aware of the present moment. The present moment is the only true reality. It is the only thing that we can truly depend on. So on the title page of my journal, I have set my mantra for the year. It is a little gatha by Thich Nhat Hanh, and is something I meditate on, but intend to incorporate more fully into my daily life in 2008:

I have arrived, I am home
In the here, in the now
I am solid, I am free
In the ultimate I dwell.

Say this while meditating. Say 'I have arrived' on the in breath, 'I am home' on the out breath. 'In the here' in breath, 'in the now' out breath. 'I am solid' in breath, 'I am free' out breath. 'In the ultimate' in breath, 'I dwell' out breath. And as you breathe in and out, think deeply about it.

Our true home (our only home) is in the here and now. No past, no future. It is possible to live happily in the present moment--it is the only moment we have. The conditions of happiness already exist. The wave does not have to look for the water. It is the water. 'I have arrived. I am home.' I am not running anymore. I have run all my life; now I am determined to stop running and to really live my life.

I face reality. I accept old age, illness and death, I accept separation from things I cherish, I accept the inescapable consequences of my actions of deed, thought and word. I do not pretend they do not exist, that they won't happen. Achieving my goals won't prevent suffering. Working toward my goals won't make me happy. Happiness is something that is already inside me; it is something that I already am. Like the wave is already water, whether she allows herself to know it or not.

May all beings be at ease.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Lords of Kobol, hear my prayer

We've spent the last three days immersed in the 'reimagining' of Battlestar Galactica, and I like it, I like it!

I like:

1. Dr. Gaius Baltar. Poor thing. He is continuously tormented by Virtual 6, his mental Cylon companion. She seems to be completely sexually obsessed with him and is always trying to get into his pants, which makes for some strange situations when other people (who of course can't see No. 6 writing around with him) walk in or past him while he's in flagrante delicto. Funny stuff. Plus he's just a funny, wild-eyed little thing. Very appealing.

2. The religious thing. Matters of religion and philosophy fascinate me, and I love that religion plays such a huge role in this series. All the characters are affected by it and they talk about it a lot. I think it's an interesting twist that the humans are polytheistic while the Cylons are monotheistic. I hope more detail is shed on this as the show progresses, because I really find it captivating. People are so driven by their personal beliefs, and it's nice to see it reflected like this.

3. No camp 70s crap. I only vaguely remember the original Battlestar Galactica as something that I avoided in the 70s. I can't stand that camp 70s sci-fi style and am so glad this new version is played completely straight.

4. Starbuck is a woman, but she is still allowed to be female. She can do a lot of push-ups and she smokes cigars, but so what. Her motivation for becoming a pilot is not because she's trying to be a man (ie, Daddy never had a son so she's trying to win his love and respect) but because she has a gift for it. I'm curious about this relationship she had with her mother. It was hinted at when she was interrogating a Cylon that she had been abused as a child by her mother, who was something of a religious zealot or fanatic. I wonder what we'll find out about that, and what will become of the strangely intense bond with the Cylon model they ejected from the ship in that episode (Leobold?)

5. President Roslin has a soft-spoken wisdom and toughness and a deeply soulful face. Mary McDonnell, the actress who portrays her, has done such an excellent job creating this character. She doesn't get to say or do much, but she doesn't need to. Her face speaks volumes. She shows incredible strength and insight--she's a steel magnolia!

That's my top 5 for now!

May all beings be at ease.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Two analogies from Thay

I've been reading Thich Nhat Hanh's 'No Death, No Fear.' I'm only just starting it, but already have read so many things I'd like to share. Here are two:

When you have a match, you have the condition to make fire. If the flame you make with the match lasts long enough, it will also burn up the match. The match gives rise to the fire, but the fire itself burns up the match; the teaching of impermanence is the same.

We have to go beyond the idea of permanence, but we have to go beyond the idea of impermanence as well. Then we can be in touch with nirvana. The same is true of no self. No self is the match; it helps give rise to the fire of the insight of no self. It is the awakened understanding of no self that will burn up the match of no self.

To practise is not to store up a lot of ideas about no self, impermanence, nirvana, or anything else; that is just the work of a cassette recorder. To speak about and distribute ideas is not the study or practice of Buddhism. We can go to a university to study Buddhism, but we will learn only theories and ideas. We want to go beyond ideas to have real insight, which will burn up all our ideas and help us to be free.

So, who feels like a cassette recorder? I have a blog here with a Buddhist focus, I have an altar in my bedroom and a mala in a box, I have a shelf of books and a head full of ideas. But what else do I have? Old concepts that won't go away, striving for permanence and narrow-minded love and worry for self, which I continue to experience as something entirely separate and unique and unchanging. My Buddhist practice is like sitting and striking match after match. Ooh, idea. Idea! Idea! When am I going to let the match burn itself away?

Waves are at the same time water. A wave may like to seek its own true nature. The wave might suffer from fear, from complexes. A wave might say, 'I am not as big as the other waves,' 'I am oppressed,' 'I am not as beautiful as the other waves,' 'I have been born and I have to die.' The wave may suffer from these things, these ideas. But if the wave bends down and touches her true nature she will realize that she is water. Then her fear and complexes will disappear.

Water is free from the birth and death of a wave. Water is free from high and low, more beautiful and less beautiful. You can talk in terms of more beautiful and less beautiful, high or low, only in terms of waves. As far as water is concerned, all these concepts are invalid.

Our true nature is the nature of no birth, no death. We do not have to go anywhere in order to touch our true nature. The wave does not have to look for water because she is water. We do not have to look for God, our ultimate dimension or nirvana, because we are nirvana, we are God. You are what you are looking for. You are already what you want to become.

Why should I strive to have compassion for other waves? Why should I see myself as separate from them? We are all water. This must be meditated on, I think. But I will not strive toward it. It is not a concept to master. It is a truth to surrender to.

May all beings be at ease.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Looking back at 2007

At the beginning of the month, I posted these questions and invited you to share your answers. Here are mine.

a)Talk about what went well over the past year. What are you proud of? What sets your heart on fire? What passions and lessons have you gleaned from the past year?
This year I achieved the big goals that I set myself, apart from getting a driving licence. I passed my Life in the UK test in March. I became a UK citizen in June. That same month I earned my ACLIP library qualification. In July I received my UK passport. In August I applied for a provisional driving licence. In October I got my US passport renewed. In December, I took my first driving lesson. I am proud to have achieved these things by using a time scale and working steadily toward them.

Another year has gone by without my gaining back any of the weight I have lost. I have weighed 133-135 all year, a tiny bit less than my average weight for 2006, and about 10 pounds under my average weight for 2005. I have made a vow that I will never be fat again. So far so good.

My exercise rotation has been consistent again this year. I have worked out 5-6 days per week all year.

I remain committed to the vegan lifestyle.

We're okay financially. We have no debt and I am closer to my personal savings goal.

Over the past year, I've decided to really embrace a Buddhist outlook and stop toying around with it. I have tried to commit myself more fully to daily meditation practice. I have continued to read and to consider Buddhist principles.

b) Talk about what you wish you had done differently. Which situations would you like to have changed if you could? Which actions would you have taken if you knew then what you know now (after all, hindsight IS 20/20, right?). Are there situations that still feel unsettled for you that you wish you could change?

I wish I had started driving lessons in the summer because the days are longer and I could have done the lessons after work rather than on my days off. My days off are pretty much shot from now until it starts staying light out longer. That's not good!

If I could change situations, I would go back to times when I talked instead of listening. I would keep my mouth shut. I always feel that I say too much. I struggle with wondering what to say when. Then I spend a lot of time replaying situations in my head and hoping I didn't make the wrong impression.

I have engaged in overthinking too much this year.

I wish that we had planned a longer visit for when Dad and Ethan came over in July.

c) Talk about your hopes and dreams for the future. What do you want to focus on as you move into the New Year? Which projects have you put off (out of necessity, a busy lifestyle, too many responsibilities looming) that you'd like to tackle in 2008? How do you want to feel about yourself next year? And ... more importantly, how can you make those hopes and dreams a reality?
My hopes and dreams for the future are vague. When I consider them, I usually end up with a list of things I'm worried about in the future. I hope I have a place to live when I'm old. I hope I have some sort of retirement income so that I don't have to work until I drop dead. Or if that doesn't work out, I hope that I will be able to find someone willing to employ me until I drop dead. How will I survive if I have no home because I never managed to get on the property ladder and I am forced to retire at 65? No way to pay rent, no income, but (hopefully) another 20-30 years to live? This is a fear that looms. So, one of my goals is to try to get some financial advice for late-starting, risk-averse savers like myself. I still have a good 25 years left in my working life, so all hope is not lost. I'm just scared of investment. I need advice!

Obviously I want to get my driving licence and maybe buy a car.

I want to find some peace with my career progression. I have got to deal with my feelings about it. Am I content to be a library assistant or do I want to try to move up? Am I willing to do what it may take to move up? As a library assistant, I don't make enough money to support myself on my own, and it always makes me nervous to think that I can't make it on my own. Do I want to get a post-grad diploma in Library and Information Studies? Do I want to just keep my head down and continue as I am? Where am I going? Why do I have this feeling that I ought to always be striving for something? Why do I always feel that I don't measure up? *shrug* Got to deal with this.

In 2008, I want to take my fitness to the next level, if I can. I want to stop playing around with it and go ahead and lean out the rest of the way. I would like to lose a bit more weight (7-14 lbs) and build up my muscles further so they really show. This will mean NOT eating so much indulgent junk! And a focused effort to lift heavier weights and make every workout really count.

I've also begun to realise that if I want my Buddhist practice to grow, I am going to have to find a practice centre. So there's another goal.

And finally, Derek and I have discussed our disengagement with our community. We have lived here five years, but to be honest, once we get inside this flat and close the door, we could be anywhere in the UK. We have not engaged with our community at all. All our friends live in the south. Our only friends here are ones we've made at work, and we don't really get together with them outside work. We are not part of any local organisations and have no involvement with any community events. So we are going to look into finding out about local sci fi fan clubs, environmental organisation, Buddhist groups, or some other interest groups that we might click with, and try to get a bit more involved in 2008.

How do I want to feel about myself next year? I want to feel that I'm okay. I want to feel that I have done my best and that it's okay to have made a few mistakes along the way. I want to feel that I have made choices that are compassionate. I want to feel that I have behaved in a way that shows respect to myself and others. I want to feel that I have made a positive impact in some way.

SO...what are your thoughts? Leave me a link to your blog, I would love to know!

May all beings be at ease.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Blueberry Polenta with Maple Syrup

The picture here is one I found on Google images of fried cornmeal mush, which is actually what this recipe is. I'm sure that it isn't original, but I have never read a recipe for it anywhere and actually the last time I made polenta it occurred to me that it would be great with blueberries in it and served like pancakes. So that's what I made Saturday morning. My husband got so wildly excited when he saw it, exclaiming,'That looks wonderful! That looks so American! That looks like something you'd have in a truck stop beside the highway somewhere in...Nebraska!' I'm sure he meant it to be complementary.

Here's the recipe. Serves 2.

100g polenta
400ml water
1/2 cup dried blueberries
3/4 cup fresh whole blueberries
dash of salt
tablespoon or two of peanut oil (or whatever oil you want to fry the mush in)
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Mix blueberries and dash of salt into dry polenta in bowl. Bring water to boil in saucepan. Add polenta mixture, stirring. Cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Pour into a square casserole dish to allow it to set. (Takes about 10 minutes to set). Preheat the oven to medium-high heat while the polenta sets. Cut the polenta into 4 squares. Coat both sides of the polenta in oil and place on baking sheet. Bake in hot oven until golden and crisp on edges, turning once. (Takes 5-10 minutes). Each peson gets two squares of polenta. Drizzle one tablespoon of maple syrup over each serving. Serve hot, with coffee.

No, it isn't that healthy. But it sure was good!

May all beings be at ease.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Confessions of a student driver

'Oops, shi*--sorry!'

'Oh man I don't know what's wrong, I'm really feeling like I'm going to be ill.'

'I don't think I can fu**ing do this.'

'I am never going to pass my test.'

What skill was I trying to master? Reversing around a corner? Reversing into a bay? Parallel parking? Nope. It was turning left and right using the push-pull steering technique. He kept asking me if I was thinking about it. I was supposed to say I was not thinking about it. But how can I effing do it if I'm not allowed to think about it? The last time he asked me if I thought about it, I said no. Lie.

I officially can announce that I hate driving lessons. I hate them. I fu**ing HATE them. It's not the driving instructor's fault. It's the whole atmosphere of driving lessons.

I have never felt so tense while driving in my entire life as I have felt when accompanied by a driving instructor. I can't explain why that is, other than the fact that he is actually scrutinizing and commenting on my every move and gesture. That would make anyone tense, in any situation. I mean, imagine you're cutting up an onion. You thought you could cut up onions--you've been doing it all your life. Then some trained soux chef stands next to you and says, 'Do you think you should cut the root off first?' 'Why would you want to hold the knife that way?' 'What do you think is the reason why you ought to cut in straight lines?' 'Actually, it's safest to hold your hand flat on top and make horizontal cuts,' etc. And then your hands start to shake, you suddenly feel you don't know up from down, so you stand there waiting for him to tell you what to do next because you've become afraid to do anything at all, and at the end of your onion-cutting lesson, you get 'Displays skill when prompted' ticked on your key skills log sheet. Would that not put you off onions for life?

(Okay, okay, strange analogy. I just finished cutting up an onion.)

*Heavy sigh*

No wonder Derek is shy of driving. He's only ever been behind the wheel with a driving instructor. If I had only ever driven in that situation, I'd be freaking dang afraid to drive, too! I told him how much more at ease he will feel when he is free to relax and just drive the damn car.

I know, I know, potty mouth. Sorry for all the bad language, sorry, sorry, sorry. I most assuredly did not display any of my lofty Buddhist notions of inner calm today. This happens to me a lot. In the heat of the moment, there's often not much but heat. There are so many areas of my life that need improving. Knowing how to deal with anxiety is WAY up there on the list.

Well, I have my next lesson on Wednesday. Driving instructor says he is going to take me to a new area and we will do some 'more normal' driving than what we've done so far. Thank goodness for that!

Wish me luck, and send me calming energy--those of you who do Ravi & Ana's kundalini yoga, send out healing vibes to me at the end of your sets, please!

May all beings be at ease.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Whadda bout me?

I've been feeling down for the last few days. It's irrational and emotional, but here's the reason. I applied for a job and didn't get invited to interview, but a work colleague of mine who applied for the same job did. I know it sounds petty, but the thing is, the job that we both applied for is the same work I do now. For him, it's a promotion. I know that I have at least as much ability to do the job as my colleague, so I don't know why I wasn't shortlisted. Whatsa matta wit me? It's true that he has a fresh new postgraduate diploma in library and information studies, but the post we applied for does not require a qualification. So I just wonder, what? What? I called the human resources department today to ask for feedback about why my application was apparently unsuccessful, and a helpful girl there took my name and number and said she would get the relevant person to call me back. Hoping to hear from them tomorrow. If it's a problem with the way I fill in applications, maybe they can help. If it's a lack of CPD, perhaps they can suggest further development for me. At least I'll know something. If she doesn't call me, I'm going to call again. It's my secret hope that she calls and says, 'We never received your application. Could you email it to me today?'

It's not so much that the job was the career move of my dreams. It's just I'm really, really curious as to why I didn't get shortlisted, because I am certain beyond doubt that I meet all essential criteria. Plus, I have relevant experience, whereas my colleague who was shortlisted does not.

Anyway, that's why I've been feeling knocked back by life a bit.

On a higher note, I just finished a good Cathe step workout (Low Max) and when hubby gets home from work, we're going to do a kundalini yoga set. Gotta work off those chocolates I've been eating this month. Plus, it helps with the stress.

May all beings be at ease.

UPDATE 13/12/2007 Got email from HR at that uni. I didn't get shortlisted because I don't have an NVQ level 2 library qualification. I do have a different library qualification that I thought for sure was listed as an optional alternative, but I don't have the person spec here (left it at work) and to be honest I don't want to press the matter. Never mind about it. At least I know what happened. They looked and chucked. They only had 20 applicants! Oh well.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Book review: Skinny Bitch in the Kitch

Skinny Bitch in the Kitch arrived Saturday. It is the cookbook companion to the book, Skinny Bitch, by the same authors.

A vegan cookbook, this book is divided into 13 chapters: Bitchin Breakfasts, PMS (Pissy Mood Snacks), Grown-up Appetisers, Sassy Soups, Skinny-Ass Salads, Hearty-Ass Sandwiches, International Bitch, Italian Bitch, Good Ol' Homecookin, Skinny Bitch Staple Meals, Divine Dressings, and Happy Endings.

I don't want this review to become a diatribe against Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, so I'm just going to reveal my thoughts on the pros and cons of the book. The girls' hearts are in the right place in advocating veganism, but I'm not entirely sure they have a firm grasp of daily nutrition. OR, it could be that they don't actually eat this way every day, but don't realise that newbie vegans will most likely get hold of this book and take it as permission to eat this way all the time. If they do, I'm here to tell you, they are going to be waiting a long time to become 'skinny bitches.'

So here's the deal.

All recipes are entirely vegan.

There is a decided lack of refined flours and sugar. You'll only find wholemeal breads and grains and whole natural sweeteners such as agave nectar, maple syrup, etc.

Recipes are designed to be simple and quick, so you don't have to spend a lot of time slaving over complicated rubbish that you're just going to snarf down in five minutes flat.

The section, 'Skinny Bitch Staple Meals' features 14 meals that focus on a range of fresh vegetables, legumes and whole grains. It is by far the most useful section of the book, and should have been longer. The implication is that this is the way 'skinny bitches' really eat day to day. (It is also the closest this book comes to reflecting my own daily diet).

There's a lot of tofu in this book, which I love.

All the ingredients will be familiar to practising vegans (or as I like to think of us, 'advanced bitches').

The book is fun to read.

Nearly every recipe calls for refined coconut oil. Now, I know all about the healthy properties of coconut oil. I know that it remains stable at high heat, so as not to unleash free radicals in the blood. I know that while it is high in saturated fat, it is also loaded with vitamin E, antioxidants, and all sorts of good stuff. HOWEVER, these wonderful properties are contained in unrefined, cold-pressed, organic coconut oil, NOT refined coconut oil. Refined coconut oil is bleached and deodorized, oftentimes solvent-extracted at temperatures up to 400 degrees F, which means that all the vital properties of the oil have been eliminated. So if the authors of this book have recommended coconut oil, as they say, for the health benefits, why have they specified refined rather than cold-pressed organic coconut oil? AND, even if they specified cold-pressed oil, why would they have an average of 4 tablespoons of it in every single recipe in this book, which is supposed to turn you into a skinny bitch?

There's a lot of tofu in this book, which can be a problem for people with a soy intolerance or who are worried about phytoestrogens.

The vast majority of these recipes call for a controversial part of some vegan diets, vegan 'fake meats' and dairy substitutes. These are controversial because 1) if you don't want to eat meat, why are you trying to make something that looks and tastes like it out of plant-based substances? and 2) even the 'best' of these products are highly processed and made mostly of oils and fillers, so they are not healthy for you. There are so many recipes that call for vegan cheese, vegan ham, turkey, chicken, vegan cream, vegan mayonnaise, etc. Even the most committed vegans sometimes will use a bit of such products to add some variety to the daily routine, but I don't know any vegans who eat any of these products on the scale promoted in this book. Too heavily reliant on fake meats and not enough emphasis on fresh whole foods. There isn't even a reminder of how to balance meals properly with fresh salads and side vegetables.

At least half the book is given over to recipes that are for 'what the heck' kind of days when you feel like a pig-out (the PMS section, the Good Ol' Homecookin section and the Hearty-Ass Sandwich section!) and to recipes for cakes, cookies, and other desserts. How is that going to make you a skinny bitch?

I don't want to show too much disrespect to Rory and Kim, because I like their style and I like their first book. I even really like this book, although I will modify nearly every recipe I make from it. I just wonder if newbie vegans will understand what they should be eating based on the information herein.

I'd like Rory and Kim to work on a new book: 'Dinners for Divas: 100% Wholefoods Recipes for Advanced Bitches'. Now that would be one kick-ass book!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Before and after photos

Anna's blog inspired me to post some before and after photos. I first started trying to get control of my eating in December 2003, so I'm posting some photos of me from that time. Then some photos of me after a few years of eating vegan and exercising regularly.

This photo was taken in autumn 2003. In 2001, I lost from 215 to 175. By the time this photo was taken, I was back up to 195 pounds.

Christmas 2003. It was at this time that I decided that as soon as Christmas was over, I would start trying to lose weight. After we returned from a holiday in Austria, I started the Weight Watchers at Home program, which I did. We went vegan in November 2004.

February 2005, French Quarter New Orleans. I was vegan, but had not yet started to work out. In this picture, I weighed about 155 pounds. I brought home my first Firm workouts and the Fanny Lifter that trip. It opened up a whole new world for me.

May 2007, Ludlow, Shropshire. I weighed about 135 pounds here. I had been a whole foods vegan for nearly three years, and had been working out 5 or 6 times a week for over two years.

And here's another from summer 2007, about 133 pounds.

My goals for 2008 are to get lean enough to really see the musculature of my arms, which are still a bit gooshy over the muscle. Same with my abs. They're rock hard under a layer of goosh. It's only a thin layer, but I'd like it gone. I'll never look like Jari Love (bless her incredibly lean self!) but I can keep working on it!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

All these years I thought I could drive

The first driving lesson was today. It was a bit of a chore. I spent two hours practising how to take off. (May I clarify that I am not taking flying lessons, either). I mean I had to pull up to the kerb, stop. Go through what felt to me like a super-slow routine of scanning and pedal maneuvers, take off, drive a little way, pull back over and do it all again. I was being coached in how to push down the accelerator until I felt the 'bite', then check my mirrors and blind spot, then let off clutch and release hand brake--after signalling that I'm 'entering traffic' and checking my left mirror one more time (even though I'm parked on a lefthand kerb). Oh, and once I got rolling, I was allowed to make left turns.

Now I'm not saying I was stellar at this. I'm just saying that if he had got in the car and said, 'Right, drive around the block four times, go.' I would have been able to start that car and go around the block. I would have been doing it my way, though, which apparently is not the 'right' way. I've never had driving lessons; my dad taught me to drive and what he didn't teach me I figured out on my own. He taught me how to work the clutch and gas to take off. What he taught me and what I've done all my life are not what this driving instructor is teaching me. *sigh*

And to think all the years that I drove a manual transmission, smoothly engaging the gas while releasing the clutch, and somehow managing to make sure that nothing was coming from any direction, all in an efficient, fluid motion that was second-nature to me, was 'not safe'.

Oh yeah, I can't steer properly, either. My hands must push-pull and not go past 6.00! Doesn't seem to matter that I'm right where I need to be in the road, or that I manage to make a turn and know precisely where the car is going to be. Steering a different way is 'not safe'.

At the very least, I did not feel uncomfortable sitting on the right side of the car or shifting with my left hand. No problem.

To sum it up, I knew this was gonna happen. I am going to have to unlearn a lifetime of habits and do it 'their' way, because, as I was told, Britain has the safest roads in Europe. (That's not true, actually. I looked it up. The top five safest roads in Europe are Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway. BSM's data are based on statistics from 2000. Mine are from 2006--University of Loughborough study. Still, we won't quibble about factoids.)

I am not deterred! I rise to the challenge! I can unlearn my dance and learn theirs. I can do it their way!!

My next lesson is 15th December. Maybe I'll get to turn right. One can dream.

May all beings be at ease.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Your Year in Review 2007

I found these questions on a fitness forum and liked them so much I thought I'd share them. I'm going to give them a good think and post my answers by the end of the month. In the meantime, feel free to copy and paste to your own blog and be sure to leave me a note so I can stop by and read your answers, too!

a)Talk about what went well over the past year. What are you proud of? What sets your heart on fire? What passions and lessons have you gleaned from the past year?

b) Talk about what you wish you had done differently. Which situations would you like to have changed if you could? Which actions would you have taken if you knew then what you know now (after all, hindsight IS 20/20, right?). Are there situations that still feel unsettled for you that you wish you could change?

c) Talk about your hopes and dreams for the future. What do you want to focus on as you move into the New Year? Which projects have you put off (out of necessity, a busy lifestyle, too many responsibilities looming) that you'd like to tackle in 2008? How do you want to feel about yourself next year? And ... more importantly, how can you make those hopes and dreams a reality?

May all beings be at ease.