Motivation and changing habits.

There are some things in my life that I want to do more often because of the positive impacts it has on me, but I find it hard to motivate myself to actually do it.

Take running as an example. I like running – once I get some great tunes going, I’m all set. I’ve got the gear, i just don’t have motivation.

I’ve never been a sporty person; I was the musical kid at school. Yet the days when dad and I would go cross-country training are some of my favourite memories and I actually enjoyed doing them.

I could go on with other examples, but what really is important is this: sometimes you need to put effort into it to do things that don’t come easy to you. Sometimes you actually need to just do it. Your body may be completely filled with nerves and you may feel ill at ease, most days you’re going to have to fight through that.

Something worth fighting for won’t come easily, but it is worth the effort you put into it and the motivation you get out of it.

Yours,

Sophia x

Dear baking

Today I did something I rarely ever do – I baked for the sake of baking. Not baking for a friends birthday, or for a class, but baking because I wanted to. So with the rain in the background, I decided on baking something I hadn’t done in a long while – an apple crumble.

I could go on a massive tangent about the recipe, and write a long post about its amazingness and how yummy it was, but I won’t. I’ll just share the recipe below, and let you jump on board on the Äppelsmulpaj train.

I grew up in a family that bakes. My maternal grandma bakes ALL the time, and the cellar (especially in holiday seasons) often has cakes resting in the pantry. I think it annoyed and amused (in equal amounts) my grandma whenever the grandkids (and often son) were around because there would be pieces of cake going randomly missing. I inherited Dutch baking recipes from my Oma from she used to bake and inherited her sense of quiet happiness seeing the kids enjoy the baked goods.

Despite my mum being those “bake-from-packets” type of baker (much to the dismay of her mother), I inherited her love of Scandinavian baking. So this morning, I opened up my favourite Nordic Cook Book, flipped it to deserts and found the Äppelsmulpaj recipe.

Once it’s finished, I’ll take the Äppelsmulpaj over to some mates for afternoon tea … because that’s something I’ve grown up with, and something I try to do often.

It’s cultural tradition from where I come from, that if people are over around afternoon tea time, you offer them coffee and cake. If you don’t have cake, then you scramble a platter of biscuits together.

I’ve often asked mum and my grandmas why they put so much effort into afternoon tea and sprinkled amongst the “Because it’s nice to do something like this!” and “It’s what you do!” answers, was the real reason – you do it because you love them. Afternoon tea gatherings are moments of time where we all sat down together, being present in the presence of the people that we love.

Bonding over shared food allows us to break down barriers, share our heritage and culture with others and provides an opportunity to build stronger relationships. Bonding over shared foods, be it afternoon tea or mealtimes, reminds us of our own humanity and for me, that it includes the values of neighbourliness, hospitality and welcoming diversity.

We all need reminders of our common humanity, so bake a cake, put the kettle on and invite friends and family over for afternoon tea.

… just make sure you have a sneaky piece or two before everyone gobbles the Äppelsmulpaj up.

Yours,

Sophia
x

PS: Because I love this recipe for Äppelsmulpaj, I decided to share it with you. The recipe is originally from Magnus Nilsson’s The Nordic Cook Book.

Orange Minimalist Recipe Card.png

Love, over hate.

This letter has been sitting in my drafts since October 2017. I wrote in the evening after I was verbally harassed because I didn’t give someone my attention as I was walking down some stairs on the way home

It sat in my drafts because I wasn’t sure if I should post it, and had several doubts about it. But I’ve decided to post it because I don’t want to let a single post control my doubts.

So without further ado, here is the letter:

Today, I was yelled at for simply walking downstairs at the train station. Words like “b*tch”, “c*nt” and “I’ll kill you” were lobbed at me. All because I walked down the stairs with earphones in my ears, listening to Paul Kelly.

Did it make me scared? Did it make me feel vulnerable? Yes, it did. It made me assess where I could sit on the train, where I should stand on the station for protection because I did not know if the person would follow through on their threat or whether the person (like I suspected) was all bark, no bite.

Yet what makes me mad, is that this is not a one-off moment, but rather a common occurrence for women. Far too many nights have I walked home in the dark, or walked through Northbridge alone with keys in my hand as a self-defensive measure, being aware of everyone around me.

I don’t get harassed, name-called often to my face, but I know that I am privileged and that for my sisters of colour, it is a common occurrence.

We all need a bit more love in the world, less hate and more acceptance of who we are as humans.

So I didn’t dwell on today’s occurrence for long because I don’t need that negativity. I’m only posting this because I need to see written proof that I’m not at fault, nor should yelling at a person for choosing not to give your their attention be acceptable.

But I wanted to leave these words here – let’s share the love more than the hate. Because we all are important and valued, no matter our gender, sexuality, or background.

Love,
Sophia
X

Why it’s important to listen

Sitting in the back of a car, drinking tea out of my passenger camping mug, I sit reflecting on life, and this guilt that accompanies taking time out to plug off and enjoy life.

I wonder if our lives are consumed by this need to work. That our identities are defined by our work.

I wonder if we’ve lost our natural curiosity for our lives around us. I wonder, that in my teaching, how I can get teenagers and young people to be curious about the world and the people around them.

I wonder if we can get empathetic communication back between all of us, and then I wonder did we ever have empathetic communication?

Then I wonder how do we develop and learn empathetic communication? Then I realise that it’s all about accepting the person as they are, with their life experiences and treating them as a human being.

Because we have a lot to learn from each other and we can make the world a better place by learning from each other.

Yours,

Sophia

x

Holidays + Routines

December rolls around every year, and accompanying December is the process to reflect, and if necessary, change or modify any personal goals. You know, that end of year routine common to many people.

We, humans, are creatures of habit and we seem to really like our routines. Routines let us understand what is coming up and can act as a comparison stick in case anything out of the ordinary arises. Just like in a maths equation, once we know the variables, we can solve the equation. Routines help us figure out the variables.

The lead up to the holidays often means that our routines get interrupted, with all the planning, cooking, that last minute rush to sort out presents and fitting in as many social events before the year ends getting in the way. We are so busy looking out for everyone else, we forget to look after ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong, looking after others is an important part of our lives because it builds empathy. It helps us connect with people, and we learn from each other. Yet empathy can’t be developed on an empty tank. One really important part of building empathy is self-awareness, the ability to distinguish between our feelings and thoughts with the feelings and thoughts of others. As such, we need to connect with our own thoughts and feelings, not neglect them.

One thing 2017 has taught me is that it is okay to take a step back from the chaos of life, all the competing pressures in your life and to look after oneself. It is okay to take that 10-minute break enjoying the seaside, or that 10-minute meditation practice or simply to sit down with a cup of tea enjoying the nature around you.

Because in looking after everyone else over the holiday season, we also need to connect with ourselves. So over the next 19 days left in 2017, and in the 12 days up until Christmas, schedule some time with yourself on a daily basis.

Yours,
Sophia
x

liebeheart dear life letter

Dear life.

Dear life,

It’s been a while since I last wrote. I’ve had my head down to the grindstone, as the saying goes, making sure I meet deadlines. So my life has become all about the routine. Getting up at the same time, having a morning tea, making a tea in my keep cup to drink on my way to prac. So, nothing at all exciting. Nothing adventurous. (Yes, I know you’ll be saying – that’s just a matter of perspective.)

By the time you get this letter (ha, such a cliché saying in a letter), I’ll be finished with prac. In fact, I’ll have slept the weekend away – that’s how exhausted I feel right now. I’m trying to keep perspective on my uni workload, but I’m finding that hard to do right now. A small part of me is questioning whether I’m doing self-mental-health-care right if I feel this exhausted, and that’s just one of many questions I have for you.

So, next time we meet up I’ll ask you all of them. They’re too many for this letter. But one question I’ll ask now – am I doing okay? I know it’s a funny question, but I need an outsider’s perspective – I get so caught up with the what ifs, that my perspective gets blinded most times.

You asked me in your last letter, if I am loving uni, and the answer is yes, I am loving uni right now, I travel down by train every day and see the beach every day. Although that part of the trip is always accompanied by a pang of longing – I’d rather be soaking up the salty air and the sand between my toes than be sitting in an 8:30-morning lecture. I’ve never been a morning lecture person.

I’ve got several assignments coming up in quick succession, something that I’m not terribly looking forward to because it means the same-old routine of long hours studying, early starts and the creeping exhaustion.

Although, I’m also not looking forward to that same-old routine because I’d rather be enjoying the nice weather we have right now. You can tell summer is slowly coming to an end – days aren’t boiling hot anymore, instead, the weather is more commonly the warm temperatures mixed with the endless blue skies. So I’m trying to make the most of it by walking or running most days.

Talking about running, I ran the other day after months of not running. Ran a 1km! Hurrah! (Walked 800m though, so win some, lose some.) This is the part where I write the same old promise I make every year – “I’ll try to run more regularly, and it’s the perfect weather to start this.”

We’ll see how well that works out this year.

Anyway, I am writing whilst I’ve got food in the oven, so I have to finish here. I’ll try to write soon.

Lots of love,

Yours,
Sophia x

 

home liebeheart

Home, Rain and Soil.

 

Over the past weeks, I’ve been re-reading Frank Herbert’s Dune. It is considered the godfather of the sci-fi realm, despite its storyline (a disinherited prince reclaiming his land and restoring honor to his befallen house) almost being as old as time.

As I’m reading about the world of Arrakis – a harsh, unforgiven planet where there is nothing but sand and water is a luxury – I’ve been thinking about my home. About growing up in a country where summer water restrictions exist, where summers stretch to almost 6 months.

As I’m following the journeys the characters take forced to move homes in a large game of politics, I’m thinking about what makes a home and how home is a funny concept.

It’s a building with walls, floors, doors and a roof to keep you sheltered from the weather, and yet the concept is so much more.

I’m asking myself, what makes a home, a home?

Does a building make a home? Or do you make a home out of a building?

People say home is where the heart is. Home is where I feel safe, with the people that I love, a place where I can put my roots in the soil. It is where the smell of coffee, mixed with homemade dishes, mixed with the sound of German rising and falling in the background.

Home is the place where my roots have found themselves a place where they can grow.

It’s the feeling of sea breeze over the Indian Ocean. It’s the late night cuddles and talks about life with my man. Home is the smell just after it rained. It’s the soil of my plant pot that I’m trying to nurture.

Home is what I’ve made in the four walls of my rented apartment. Home is the feeling of lying in the hammock, with the sun shining through the leaves in the garden of my childhood home.

Home is where I am safe, surrounded by those whom I love.

As I’m thinking about all this, I’m reminded of a passage in Dune. I’m reminded how interconnected we are all are, how people can make up what “home” means for us.

There stand I, [Thufir] Hawat thought.
‘Thufir, what’re you thinking?’ Paul asked.
Hawat looked at the boy. ‘I was thinking we’ll all be out of here soon and likely never see the place again.’
‘Does that make you sad?’
‘Sad? Nonsense! Parting with friends is a sadness. A place is only a place.’ He glanced at the charts on the table. ‘And Arrakis is just a place.'”
Dune, Frank Herbert, p42

So next time someone asks me how I’d define what a home is, I’d answer like this:

“A place is a place, a home is what you make out of that place and the people you meet.”

Yours,
Sophia x