Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Friday, October 16, 2009

A breakfast that works?!

Breakfast and I have a long history, a love-hate relationship dating back to when I was about 14 or 15.

My parents, naturally, recognised the value of breakfast, and eating it was never optional in our house. We always had Vita Brits or Weetbix in the cupboard, and various other cereals came and went over the years. We were never allowed the really sugary ones (we managed to get Coco Pops as a treat from time to time, but my parents drew a line and Froot Loops were on the other side of it!) but we had our favourites amongst the permitted cereals and always ate something before going to school.

When I was in about Year 10, my body revolted against breakfast. I suspect that the stress of an extremely unhappy school experience and fairly tense home life had a lot to do with this, but either way, breakfast became nearly impossible. Cereals in particular would have me doubled over with painful cramps halfway through my first class. Toast or bread wasn't much better. After a while, just the thought of eating them in the morning would make me feel queasy.

Over the years, with other factors such as hypoglycaemia and weight loss drives thrown into the mix, I've never really sorted out the breakfast issue. Skipping breakfast out of sheer frustration, I would eat something sugary to keep me going at morning tea, and overeat at lunchtime. Not a good way to carry on.

So imagine my astonishment when, for the last 6 days, I've eaten the same lovely breakfast without a single cramp or roiling stomach or urge to gag while swallowing. Who knew . . . the solution was smoothies!

The smoothie I've had every day this week contains:
200mL milk
1 small banana
1 free range egg
1/4 cup (62.5mL) natural organic yoghurt
1/4 cup puffed amaranth cereal
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon

It's got everything - dairy, fruit, protein, long-term carbs. It tastes nice but it's plain enough not to be overwhelming in the morning. I can make it just before leaving for work, pour it into a travel thermos, and drink it on the way to work and while I'm preparing for school in the morning. I can even keep drinking it after the kids come in if I haven't finished. Spreading it out over an hour or so in small sips might be part of the reason my stomach accepts it - and I can't do that with solid food lol.

I'm enormously pleased with this solution to the problem!

Also, if you want a really lovely way to cook chicken breast fillets: cut them into quarters, top them with an organic nut butter (I used 'ABC Spread' - almond, brazil & cashew nuts) and bake them on 230 C for about an hour and a half. I baked pumpkin and sweet potato pieces alongside them (topped with a salt, garlic & herb sprinkle) and had them with steamed silverbeet and an onion white sauce (cut onion into fine rings, sauté in a dollop of butter and some liquid chicken stock, when golden add milk in which cornflour has been dissolved, bring to the boil and stir briskly until thickened). I have the leftovers for dinner tonight . . . yum!!!

Currently I'm cooking almost double quantities each night and having the smaller second servings for lunch the next day. Works well, but it means I can only use nuts on a day when I won't be lunching at school as we're nut-free there. This seems to be working pretty well and it's helping me get in my full quotient of veggies, as I'm eating the same kind of veg/meat/carbs balance at both meals.

Now I just need to wean myself off McVities Dark Chocolate Coated Digestives, which while delightfully natural and reasonably healthy, are still not a large part of a balanced diet ;D

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Q: Why are teachers cross-eyed?

A: Because they can't control their pupils.

I love teaching eleven-year-olds ;)

My camping holiday was wonderful and I'll try to post some photos soon if I can choose a handful of the 109 that were worthy of going in the Facebook album!

I'm feeling really, really good at the moment. I'm experiencing a kind of self-confidence I've never felt before. It's very strange and highly satisfying.

While I was on my camping trip I spent hours and hours working through the exercises in the book version of Choosing Me Before We by Christine Arylo, which I'd ordered a month or so ago and hadn't got into yet. It is an excellent book, and has become the next logical step in my mental health and relationship robustness programme that began with reading and working through Susan Elliott's wonderful Getting Past Your Breakup.

One of the sections of questions in the book asked the reader to identify people they had seen demonstrating self-love, and their family and friends' attitudes towards self-love. What I discovered was that I could not think of a single truly self-loving role model from my childhood, teens, or 20s up until last year (when I discovered Susan Elliott!). I also discovered that people did not talk about self-love in my family or peer groups. My instinct was that if someone talked about self-love at school they would have been branded as a narcissist (in suitably vulgar teen lingo, "up themselves") or ridiculed with obscenely biological innuendoes (self "love" ... I hope I don't need to spell it out!). There is a huge resistance in our society to recognising that people need to put themselves first and value themselves most in order to give of themselves to others. We go on about self-esteem and self-confidence as if they are the the be-all and end-all of self-care, but never talk about the fact that truly loving yourself is where both esteem and confidence begin.

Something in all of the exercises and questions in Choosing Me Before We has flipped a switch for me. I've lived with self-loathing and a negative self-image most of my life, and it's gone. It's so weird. I don't really understand how it's happened. But I'm not arguing!

And so I can, and will, say publicly with confidence:

I love myself. I love who I am. I love myself despite and including all of my flaws and foibles. There are things about myself that I find unsatisfying and want to change, but they are only at the level of like and dislike. My LOVE for myself is unconditional.

When you have that self-love it becomes incredibly easy to do things that are self-loving, good for you and true to your nature.

For a long time I've wanted to be more eco-conscious and organic in my eating and cleaning habits, moving towards wholly organic meals and so on. But I've held back because I didn't believe in myself enough to put my foot down and say that this is how I want to eat and how I want to be. I was letting my lack of self-love dictate actions that went against my true nature. No more. And I'm doing it. My diet is healthier and free of most nasty additives. I'm looking for safe alternatives to harsh chemicals in my home. I'm not even tempted to turn to unhealthy foods for comfort because I don't need them and I know they go against my true nature.

It feels so good.

I'm actively job-searching this term, trying to get a position at a larger and more stable private school. I can say with confidence now that my talents are wasted at my current school, where the parents began the year determined not to give me a fair go because I was a replacement for a teacher they'd (for some reason) adored, appointed by a principal they didn't trust. It is a foul waste of my energy to have to work in a school where a negative parent culture is entrenched and to an extent encouraged by some of the longer-standing staff. I am supposed to spend my time creating outstanding learning experiences for my students, not burning up my creative energy trying to jump through flaming hoops set up by people who WANT me to fall and burn as I pass through them. Ugh. The school is nice and the kids are fine, and I like the Montessori system, but there are MANY schools out there that do not have this hateful parent culture of backstabbing, rumour and melodrama. I want one. I deserve one. I'll get one.

The other big news is that I'm hoping to start building a house this time next year! I've looked at my finances and if I get a job just about anywhere other than here, my pay will jump by around $10,000 PA. That's enough to get my debts pretty much cleared out and put me in a position to get a home loan. I'd have to take on a housemate at first to help with the repayments - not a necessity but to make sure I didn't end up in a mess - but that's fine. I would build with that in mind - I've seen a neat design that allows for a quite separate few rooms at the back that would be perfect for a tenant. I'd have to build in suburbia but it would be a start, a step on the road to my eco-friendly Hills house :)

That's a general update. Photos soon!