Friday, 26 September 2014

Aglio e olio e... e...

You may have heard - or read - about it before (for instance here) -  how Spaghetti aglio e olio is the perfect quickie for food lovers. Or at least for lovers of all things spicy. For me, the addition of feta cheese is a must. This is a recipe that rarely fails (as long as one likes spices, for some strange reason, I never need to share this dish with anyone). It's never completely the same, though. The hotness of the chilies, the amount of garlic or feta cheese. It's always a new experience. Some fresh parsley would have made this particular meal irresistible. 

To be honest, I really just wanted to share these food pictures with you. Looking at them makes me hungry - I do think I will go and get some homemade lasagna now!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Oh La La Couscous

Last week I was craving something light, yet satisfying for my lunch box. Something with a lot of taste and different textures. I try to avoid meat and other foods that leave me feeling stuffed, so I chose shrimps as a source of protein. The soy beans were crunchy. Tomatoes, red onion and rocket add a bit of colour (and vitamins) to an otherwise colourless dish. Feta cheese and garlic provide some "oh la la"-flavour. 
  • Couscous
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Red onion
  • Soy beans
  • Shrimps
  • Rocket
  • Feta cheese
  • Garlic

As always, lunch-box-food should be easy - and the more, the better . Heat the garlic, onion and cherry tomatoes in some olive oil. Prepare the coucous and mix it with the tomatoes, onion and garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Serve cold. 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Raspberry Pink

This autumn I'm in love with plums, I could eat them endlessly. Teamed with berries and some milk, they also make a great smoothie. How about frozen raspberries and fresh blueberries? Now, that's an awesome shot of vitamins - and a tasty one! All you need is two plums, a handful of frozen raspberries and 125 grams of blueberries.  

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Workouts This Week

Gym inspiration, I never used to work out when I was young, so developing a habit to exercise is something I have had to work on a lot as an adult. The first time I started to work out was during my second year of university, I had a good routine going on there - pilates, jumping rope and walking everywhere. After that I have been running, going to the gym, and testing yoga. I am quite proud that I get back on track after shorter breaks - it means that exercising has become a lifestyle for me. The pleasure it gives me is important - I often miss the gym when I haven't been there for a while and I love the feeling of being completely focused on the training. 

Workouts this week

  • Wednesday: 40 minutes strength training + 1 hour tai chi
  • Thursday: 100 min gym (rowing 30 minutes + upper body)
  • Saturday: 40 min pilates

And next week... 

  • Monday: gym - pilates 40 mins
  • Tuesday: gym - strength training (upper body 40 mins) 
  • Wednesday: gym - rowing 40 mins + tai chi 60 mins
  • Thursday: gym - rowing 30 mins, strength training (legs) 40 mins, stretching (20 mins)

As you can see, there is quite a bit of pilates there. Yesterday a friend of mine (who is an authorised instructor) gave a class of pilates and it felt so good. There was a time when I used to train pilates quite often - either at the gym or at home. For some reason, I forgot all about it. However, it's a nice change to "normal" strength training, so I decided to incorporate it into my training program. Variety is key, right?

Photo Diary: Caminando

This week I have spent a lot of time walking. Walking is more than simply great exercise, it is the time to gather one's thoughts, to enjoy all that is beautiful in the world. I have noticed that I feel much better after a walk during my lunch break or after work. 

Or as Friedrich Nietzsche put it:

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking. 

Last Sunday before the elctions

Somewhere between Vagnhärad and Trosa

A runestone


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Jak nie kochać jesieni...  [PL: How can one not love autumn]

Autumn is a time of meditation, a time of letting go. It's a time of endings but also beginnings. It's a time for reflection, a time for silence. I found the below poem almost by accident, it is beautiful and I felt like sharing. As always, the translation is mine.

Jak nie kochać jesieni... 

Jak nie kochać jesieni, jej babiego lata,
Liści niesionych wiatrem, w rytm deszczu tańczących.
Ptaków, co przed podróżą na drzewach usiadły,
Czekając na swych braci, za morze lecących.¨

Jak nie kochać jesieni, jej barw purpurowych,
Szarych, żółtych, czerwonych, srebrnych, szczerozłotych.
Gdy białą mgłą otuli zachodzący księżyc,
Kojąc w twym słabym sercu, codzienne zgryzoty.

Jak nie kochać jesieni, smutnej, zatroskanej,
Pełnej tęsknoty za tym, co już nie powróci.
Chryzantemy pobieli, dla tych, których nie ma.
Szronem łąki maluje, ukoi, zasmuci.

Jak nie kochać jesieni, siostry listopada,
Tego, co królowanie blaskiem świec rozpocznie.
I w swoim majestacie uczy nas pokory.
Bez słowa na cmentarze wzywa nas corocznie.

Tadeusz Wywrocki

English: How can one not love autumn...

How can one not love autumn, its Indian summer.
The leaves carried by the wind, to the rhythm of dancing rain.
The birds, sitting on trees before their journey.
Waiting for their brothers, flying overseas.

How can one not love autumn, its colours purple.
Grey, yellow, red, silver, pure gold.
When the white mist wraps itself around the setting moon.
Soothing the daily griefs in your fragile heart.

How can one not love autumn, so sad, so anxious,
so filled with longing for that which will not return.
The Chrysanthemums glitter for those, who no longer are.
The frost paints the meadows, soothing, upsetting.

How can one not love autumn, the sister of November.
The one that begins the reign of candles.
And in its majesty teaches us humility.
Without a word it calls us to the cemeteries every year. 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Pyöreä maailma

Maailmanpyörä Puolan Gdanskissa

The Week That Was And What's Still Left of It

Saturday morning. It feels so good to stretch out in the morning, to have time to enjoy the morning coffee. This week has been tiring, but wonderful.

On Wednesday I went to my first class of taiji (T'ai chi ch'uan) and it was great. I have such lousy coordination and balance, so this will definitely do me some good. Like yoga, it's great for the mind, too.

One of the great things about the place where I work is that we get a lot of books. And not just any books - cook books are the ones I'm often going for. (I have also found a pile of books about politics, as well as some great novels, so I'm happy)

The book in the background has a lot of interesting recipes. As it's about the 5:2 diet, the dishes are very light. However, there is a lot of fish and veggies in there, so it's definitely a book for me. I could also not resist when I saw the leaflet about juices. One of the supermarkets had made and it was free. It looks interesting, so I could have paid something for it!

Tomorrow there are the elections coming up. I get to vote in the local elections, which will be fun. In general I think that voting is an obligation - it is one of the few ways in which we can make our voices heard. Anyhow, I will write one post later on about my views on this particular election.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


It was a sunny day in September, the lazy summer rays so typical for autumn found their way into the big room with grey, wooden walls and a high ceiling. I was so nervous I had to wash my hands more than twice. At the same time, I was very, very happy. The event that was going to take place was something that I had been looking for. I slowly walked to the big white door, that was ever so slightly opened. I was to wait there for the teacher.

Suddenly one of the boys inside said my name. Following with an insult. The whole class started laughing, they were calling me names, saying that I was fat and weird and strange.

Suddenly the door opened with a jerk and teacher asked me to come in. The tears were burning behind my eyelids. Don't let them see you cry.

They didn't see me cry, not on that day, nor any day after that.

The first time someone broke my heart was long before I knew what romantic love was. It was on a sunny autumn day when I was going to attend my first class of English with the older kids. The whole class insulted me, laughed at me and humiliated me.

I cannot remember if I ever told anyone else about this. I do know, however, that the event shaped me forever. I would refuse to speak up in class because I was afraid, at the same time I have been driven (and still am) by a desire to be the best in everything, in an attempt to show everyone that I, too, do count.

NaBloPoMo September 2014

Monday, 8 September 2014

Lunch Box

What's simple, yet delicious? Satisfying, yet light? Quick?

A salad. I think that healthy food doesn't need to be tasteless. In my opinion, it's easier to eat healthily and strive for a healthy life when the food tastes good. There are many ways to make a dish healthier, when it comes to salad for instance, no dressing is needed if one uses the right kind of spices. Mixing textures and adding protein is also a good idea.

The salad in today's lunch box took about two minutes to make.

The ingredients?

  • rocket & spinach
  • crayfishes
  • 1 avocado
  • feta cheese
  • lime & pepper

Monday, September 8, 2014: NaBloPoMo

Do you give yourself time to heal, or do you keep making yourself move forward?

or moving forward?
Are those two processes so very different?
How much do you need to heal before moving on?
I always thought
that people need to move,
not to be stuck in one place
to develop
to learn
Somehow I thought that moving
would keep away the grief

Then one day I suddenly realized, that it was all still within me. And now I know that I cannot move in any direction, before I have dealt with those demons inside me.

I need to force myself to stay still, not to move forward, nor backward, nor side-wards.

Because I know that once I have dealt with that that needs to be dealt with, then I can move forward as much as I want.

NaBloPoMo September 2014

Gdańsk & Sopot, we wrześniu 2014 r.

Oh, hello darlings. 

The weekend was so perfect - we went to Poland! Flying to northern Poland from Sweden is easy. fast and cheap. We were also lucky to have the perfect host, a woman who entertained us with stories from her trips all around the world. The weather was great, so we could walk between two of the three Trójmiasto cities - Gdańsk and Sopot. We actually spent less than 24 hours in Poland, but had the opportunity to enjoy the history of Gdańsk and the holiday buzz in Sopot.

We only walked and ate, so it's difficult to say much about the cultural offerings or life as such. I would definitely like to visit the Trójmiasto-area again for more exploring!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A Small Reminder

After a somewhat tough week where I have been very much too sensitive to the ways of others, I need to remind myself to...

It is not my problem if someone else is annoyed or grumpy. Or angry or frustrated.
All I can do is to stay positive and friendly,
and hope that the joy is contagious. 

If not - then, it is not my problem. I can only appreciate others, their knowledge and their points of view. I cannot make them act in any other way. 

The photo I have borrowed 

It's Such A Small World [Healing]

The third prompt is about a helpful post or hash tag related to the coverage of the events in Ferguson. First I thought that I would write about something entirely different, my opinion was that the events in Ferguson were so far away, that there are more important things for my own personal healing.

But wait a minute. 

We live in a world where events on the other side of the planet have an impact on our lives - whether we want to or not. And maybe, just maybe, it's something positive. We learn. We keep ourselves informed. 

Swedish media covered the events in Ferguson quite extensively. In many cases, media directly discussed on the situation in the US, but also the impact of social media. However, it also arose thoughts about the current situation in Sweden and Europe. How are we dealing with issues related to race? What does racism look in our current society? The debate on inclusion and exclusion is of tremendous importance and it is a debate that we need to have.  I believe that the view on people - and their rights - is ultimately the core of the matter, it is the indicator of where society is heading and where it should head. 

And then we have the role of social media - in many ways a wonderful invention (although, I must admit, I do think it's a double-edged sword), a place where people from different backgrounds and with different experiences have the possibility to come together and make their voices heard. It is the beauty of social media, it shrinks the world.

As for healing - this feeling of togetherness is a vital factor. Together we stand. While all the participants add to the information, the knowledge, the experience, the burden becomes easier to bear. And. We learn from each other. While the events in Ferguson did not have a direct consequence on my life or the lives of my friends and family, I do hope that they have stirred something within us, increased our awareness and made us seek improvement.

It truly is a small world.

NaBloPoMo September 2014

The Art of Communication, pt. 2: the Language Perspective

In a previous post from yesterday, I wrote the following:

 The word communication comes from Latin communicare, the meaning being to share. It is the sharing of thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions etc. When communicating, there is a receiver - a listener, a reader, a somebody. Addition: this somebody always translates the message s/he receives. 

I often like to think of communication in terms of language learning. How much does one need to know in order to be able to communicate fluently? Why is it easier to write than to speak? How does communication differ between languages and cultures? After all, language is communication. Now that I write this, I realize that there are two posts to be written. One on language and the other one on healing. 

Now I would like to continue this topic of communication in language learning. Here are some of my thoughts on the topic. 

Many - if not most - people learn a foreign language because they want to be able to communicate in it, either for business or pleasure. It is probably only read language nerds who feel motivated to learn a language just because they can.

Language learning is commonly divided into four sub-fields: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The more passive fields, listening and reading are often considered the easier ones. One of my questions "why is it easier to write than to speak?" might not be completely correct - it is my perspective that writing is easier than speaking. Some people might not agree with me. Writing is easier because one has more time to check up words, grammar... in other words, to be more precise. However, maybe this preference is connected to personality. Maybe introverts like writing more than extroverts, while extroverts are the bold speakers?

There is also the aspect of perfectionism. I remember when I was living in Russia. I refused to speak to people until I felt "ready". Just imagine how happy I was when the first comment I received was "oh, you sound like a Russian". I have mixed feelings about this perfectionism. Whereas I know that bold people who talk will learn quicker, my doubt is whether they will learn better. How to define better is, of course, again a question of personal preferences. Now we are suddenly touching the topic of fluency. What is fluency in a foreign language? When is it achieved? Maybe this topic is also connected to that of definitions. What is one's definition of language?

Yes, language is communication. But how deep does the language learner want to take the communication? Communication is so much more than the words we produce. It is how we produce them and how we use them, too. Fluency in a language requires a lot of knowledge. What words to use and when, how to say them, how to write them. Communication is about encoding and decoding. We know what we want to say, but we need to express it in such a way that the receiver translates it correctly.

Language-learning, then, is not a simple exercise. The learner, in order to gain fluency, needs to be aware of the ways in which that particular language is encoded and decoded. The ways to gain that knowledge are many; some do it by talking, others by strictly keeping their nose in the books. Whichever method one chooses, I believe it is important to be in contact with the target language, as often as possible,

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Art Of Communication pt 1: the Healing Perspective

Prompt# 2 Tuesday, September 2, 2014 How do you communicate best? Speaking or writing? 

 The word communication comes from Latin communicare, the meaning being to share. It is the sharing of thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions etc. When communicating, there is a receiver - a listener, a reader, a somebody.

I often like to think of communication in terms of language learning. How much does one need to know in order to be able to communicate fluently? Why is it easier to write than to speak? How does communication differ between languages and cultures? After all, language is communication. Now that I write this, I realize that there are two posts to be written. One on language and the other one on healing. 

So. Let's begin again. And write about healing. 

The pencil. And then the pen. They have always been my best friends. Whenever something has been bothering me, or saddening me, or even made me happy. Pen and paper have been the first friends to know. Why is this?

My theory (with no basis in research) is that writing is more of an internal kind of communication, the receiver is often... me! While talking almost always requires a listener (speaking to oneself is however an option), nobody needs to see the written words. That's why journals are such a great tool. I see that many need to talk about their experiences, they need feedback from their surroundings and they need ideas to move forward. They need to hear comforting words and they need to feel loved in order to deal with their problems and to heal. Ultimately, I have seen people who have used the written word in social media to get their message through (dangerous, by the way, if you ask me). 

I think that writing is more personal, maybe it's something introverts turn to. There is rarely external feedback. There is nobody giving you a hug. But for some of us, it is the way to heal. My opinion is that the truth starts existing when it's on paper. When that paper is filled with my doubts, fears, indecisions, problems, anxieties, troubles etc., that's when they turn into a tangible issue that I can change. Indeed, the best way to turn that gnawing feeling in the gut into some productive is to put it down paper. Preferably in some lovely colour. 

NaBloPoMo September 2014

Monday, 1 September 2014

Autumn Is Soup Time

Autumn is soup time, don't you agree?

In an attempt to be more food conscious, I have tried to focus on foods that can be considered a) vegetarian, b) ayurvedic, and c) light. While being tasty and somewhat filling as well.

So, the answer is SOUP. Ever since I came across this recipe from BBC, I have wanted to try their red lentil, chickpea and chilli soup. And yesterday I made a lot of it, so now I have much lunch covered for the whole week.

I did do some changes to the recipe, though. Instead of red onion, I put leek in it. And a lot of garlic was added, as well as basil instead of coriander. Because of the spices, the result was more Mediterranean than exotic.

Here's the result:

September Prompt #1: Talking vs. Silence

The September Prompts are part of September's NaBloPoMo, with the topic being Healing. You can read more about the topic here

Before starting with the first prompt, I would like to dedicate a few lines to the topic at hand and its meaning. Healing? Why healing? Being human means that things happen to us. There are times we do things to others, to ourselves. Sometimes these things are good, sometimes they are not. To me, the process of healing is closely connected to the processes of forgetting and letting go. Essentially, in order to have a happy existence and find inner peace, we need to heal in so many ways. Healing might be something we don't actively think about - at least I don't - even when it touches upon some of our core activities. Engaging in meditation, going to therapy, having long heart-to-heart conversations with friends, reading self-help books. In many cases these activities are related to the need to heal. 

The problem is that in order to heal, we need to be honest. With ourselves and those around us. We need to know what it is we are healing from. What kind of traumas do we need to understand and let go of? And we need to know how, how are we going to heal?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Question: Do you find it more helpful to talk things out or to let things quietly rest? 

I see this question as a starting point, an attempt to answer the question "how". I am one of those people who rarely speaks things out, especially not if it is something that touches me deeply. Many of the feelings associated with burdens - shame, weakness, fear and hopelessness - are feelings that I do not want to share. It is often the case that these issues are so overwhelming and big that I need to deal with them on my own. Friends and family give something else - they give the space to breathe, to have a positive exchange of ideas and thoughts NOT related to these negative feelings. It does not mean that it is not the right thing to do - to hide the feelings and hope that they will go away. They will not, instead they will function as an obstacle, preventing one from finding peace. There is, however, a way to cope and to heal in silence.

When more people are involved - families, groups or sometimes even a whole nation, it is important to talk, to analyse, to compromise, and to find a way forward. Look at Europe, a continent with a history of bloody wars. A continent where the current situation is that the extreme right is gaining popularity and the general feeling seems to be that of being lost. As a society, we need a dialogue, to find out what is wrong and how to make things different. The first steps are awareness and acceptance. Awareness of the fact that something needs to be healed, and acceptance for the fact that not everyone will agree. Acceptance is needed when looking in the mirror, it takes courage to accept that it is, indeed, an imperfect world we live in. And it requires courage to admit that even sensitive topics need to be discussed and that few participants are completely innocent in a conflict.

I write of conflicts and problems when answering this question. I don't think people are always aware of the conflicts within themselves and within the groups they belong to. But essentially healing is about finding a solution to a problem - whether it is done through talking or by the means of silent reflections and observations. In times of distress - and of joy - I often turn to taoism. Again, it is spiritual path that I do not talk about much, but it is there to guide me, in the good times, and in the bad.