“Action expresses priorities.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

When someone asks you how you are, do you often find yourself replying with a sigh and one little word… ‘busy.’

We live in a world where busy and stressed tend to be the default experience. Sure, we live in a fast paced world where the juggling act of relationships and parenting and work and is the natural order. Stress related illnesses and symptoms are at their peak and people are exhausted, unhappy and generally disconnected – always touting the excuse, ‘gosh I’d love to… I’m just too busy.’

It’s not rocket science that taking the pedal off the gas in life removes unnecessary stress makes for a better quality of life. But is it even possible to achieve? For most of us it’s not as simple as just not doing the things we have to do; like go to work, or cook dinner, or parent children. We have responsibilities that we have to take care of so how can we possibly be less busy?

We’ve all heard the advice on how to destress our lives. Work less. Spend more time with friends. meditate. Do yoga. Eat well. But none of these things are going to make a damn bit of difference if we don’t approach our lives differently. Even something as simple as coffee with friends or a yoga class can become just another thing you have to do in a day, just another thing that is making your sense of busi-ness even stronger – so much so that you can’t even enjoy it, because you are too worried about all the other things you are supposed to do/haven’t done. But there is a simple way to change this approach.

It’s basic mindfulness – and not in the fashionable buzz word sense, but instead in the real meaning of the word… it’s about prioritising the good in your life, it’s about living in the moment that you are in. It’s about remembering that this moment is truly the only moment we have and it’s fleeting.

If we can’t do this then all the wellness buzzwords we swallow aren’t going to help us one bit. If we can’t make a few simple and real changes to the attitude in which we approach our lives, then we will always feel busy. We will always be stressed.

It’s not about having less responsibility but instead about owning our responsibilities and choosing our sacrifices.

These are the five simple rules I try to live my life by. It certainly doesn’t go smoothly every day, but when it does… the balance, it’s golden. It allows me to achieve my goals whilst still living a relatively calm and simple life.

1. Leave plenty of space in your day and your week – if you find you are continually rushing from one thing to the next, from one appointment to the next, from one kids extra-curricular activities to the next, from one household chore to the next… and it is stressing you out. Then it’s time to re-evaluate the way that you structure your life. Do less in each day and make days where you don’t do anything at all. Leave bigger gaps between the things you ‘have’ to do so that there is space for really living and breathing in those moments in between.

2. What are your priorities? Choose them. Protect them. There is always time for the people we love and thing things that are important to us. Instead of saying to yourself, ‘I don’t have time,’ say, ‘it’s not a priority,’ and just see how it feels. You have time to play with your kid, you have time to nurture your friendships, learn a new skill – only if they are a priority to you.

3. Learn to say no. This is something that for those of us who hate to disappoint, who aim to always please, find the hardest. But it’s important. You are one person, you can’t actually do everything. You have to find balance. Saying no or not this time, is a way to be kind to yourself and stay true to your priorities. You can’t be everywhere or everything to everyone.

3. Live in the moment. In every moment. When you are at work, be at work – be present and active and engaged with what you are doing and then let it go when you knock off. When you are at home, be at home – be present and connected and engaged with your friends and your family. When you are with your friends and your kids put your damn phone down. Stop stressing about what you have to do next, about your growing to-do list, about the dishes that aren’t done or the clothes that need to be washed or whatever it is that someone else is doing and just be where you are. 

4. Stop buying shit you don’t need. It’s a no brainer. Buying stuff costs money, more money means more work, more work means less balance, less balance means more stress. Simply less stuff equals more freedom… also, less shit to clean, take care of, put away, move around, get rid of, organise… less stress.

5. Never forget that being busy is a choice. That the feeling of busi-ness and stress is a choice. You can choose to feel full of life and let go of the stress of being busy. Remember that for the most part we have the privilege to choose our routines. We determine the sacrifices that we will make. We don’t have to be stressed by our lives.

We can choose to simplify. We can live in the moment, every moment. We may not have the luxury of choosing to work less, but we can be fully present and open and engaged in the work that we do. We can choose to stop living life as if it’s a race, as if the person who wins is the one that achieved the most in their days… life isn’t about doing the most, life isn’t a competition, being busy isn’t a badge of honour.

Breathe easier, connect with real people more, find your creativity and feel rewarded by the powerful truth that is truly living your own life.  Having all this choice is a privilege that is not afforded to so many, don’t be so careless as to throw it away.

Live a life that is full, full of people and laughter and work and joy… and feel less busy doing it.

  • May 26, 2015 - 12:03 pm

    Kate - Just what I needed to read!ReplyCancel

I have been known to admit fully to having an emotional relationship with food. I spend more time thinking about food and food politics and simply what I’m going to eat next – than I do thinking about many other things. For me food is perhaps the most powerful thing we can use to change the world, to change our future. Good food is the very foundation of a good community, food that is shared with people that you love, food is our history and when we get lost food can be our road back home.

I love simple food. Food you can cook in your own kitchen. Food that doesn’t need fancy gadgets or expensive ingredients. I like food that grows all around us that we often overlook, like rosemary flowers, a punchy rosemary flavour with a hint of sweetness and a soft delicate texture (and pretty to boot). I love food that comes from friends, like the mandarins in this recipe that were fresh from the orchard to my door, delivered by a favourite friend.

I love the way that we connect with food, with the sharing of food, with the stories of food – it’s a powerful commodity and it’s not something that should be treated lightly. We are lucky to have it. We are lucky to cook it. We are lucky to share it.

I like that when I cut Bo a piece of this cake I can tell her stories of eating my grandmothers cakes in a warm kitchen in Canada when I was a little girl. The smell of the spices invokes memories that awaken the mind and connect us with people who are already gone.

This recipe is very dear to my heart. It’s one of my favourite cakes and since my mum showed me this recipe collection of my grandmother, I’ve been cooking my way through her recipes and this is a spectacular one. So hats off to my grandma – this is her recipe and it’s fabulously moist, the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, soft and heady with spices – the perfect winter cake.

Does food lead you home?

HOT WATER GINGERBREAD
with rosemary and mandarin icing

Ingredients

The cake:

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup raw sugar
1 egg
1 2/3 cup spelt flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
2/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup hot water

note: the cake in the pictures was this recipe doubled. 

The icing: 

a small bowl of rosemary flowers
1 cups powdered raw sugar
1/3 cup hot water
juice from 2 mandarins
crushed walnuts to serve

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C

Cream butter and raw sugar until fluffy and creamy and then gently beat through the egg. In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients and whisk with a dry whisk to aerate the flour and get rid of any little lumps. Pour hot water and molasses into a jug and stir to combine.

Alternate adding dry mixture and hot water/molasses mixture into the wet butter mixture slowly while beating on a low speed until fully combined.

Pour mixture into a lined loaf tin and bake in the oven for around 40 minutes or the top of the cake bounces back when pressed lightly (it’s a moist cake, a skewer is not the best test here, you want it a little sticky)

For the icing: Place 2/3 cup of powdered raw sugar into a bowl and whisk through enough hot water to dissolve sugar and achieve a thick pouring consistency. Continue whisking and combine the mandarin juice, adding more powdered sugar as necessary to achieve perfect runny consistency for pouring.

When the cake has cooled, pour icing over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides and dress with rosemary flowers and crushed walnuts and you’re done! A perfect, timeless, moist and heady cake that is a winner with kids and adults alike.

On behalf of my late-grandmother, I hope you love this cake as much as we do… it’s a recipe that has obviously stood the test of time and with a few modern tweaks is the perfect treat to share with friends.

Enjoy x

  • May 19, 2015 - 5:28 pm

    becky McIntosh - This looks and sounds scrumptious. Cardamom and white chocolate biscuits remind me of my sister. Once we ate them freshly baked as we read ” Sophie’s world ” aloud to each other, it’s such a special memory. Thanks for the reminder to savour food and create memories. XReplyCancel

    • May 24, 2015 - 10:02 pm

      Sash - Oh what a lovely memory! Cardamom and white chocolate! YUM!ReplyCancel

  • May 20, 2015 - 6:36 pm

    Jo Hoban - Oh the sound of mandarin and rosemary icing is to die for! I agree food leads us home, but helps us escape or reach out too, when we try a new recipe from a far away land, or person. On that note, I’m also looking forward to trying out your chickpea choc cookie recipe soon! I enjoy reading your thoughtful posts Sash and get a lot out of them. Thanks for sharing xReplyCancel

    • May 24, 2015 - 10:02 pm

      Sash - Thank you so much for that lovely comment Jo. I really appreciate it :) ReplyCancel

  • May 24, 2015 - 9:44 pm

    Kate Heaslip - Your photographs are beautiful Sash! xxReplyCancel

    • May 24, 2015 - 10:03 pm

      Sash - thanks mum ;) xReplyCancel

GINGER AND ENOKI NOODLE SOUP

Ingredients (serves 2-3 people)

1 ltr good quality broth (I use chicken or lamb for this but veggie works well too)
2 small packets of rice noodles (I like to use a mixture of white and brown) 1 inch of ginger, sliced into thin strips
1 handful of Enoki mushrooms
2 small handfuls of shredded chicken (or sliced tofu)
1 red chilli, sliced diagonally
2 spring onions sliced diagonally
1 splash of tamari
bean shoots, coriander and lime cheeks to serve.

note: I use homemade bone broths in this soup for extra nutrition and complexity of flavour – if you are going to use packet stocks make sure you check the salt content isn’t too high and ideally go for an organic option. If you are using packet stocks you may want to saute some garlic and add more fresh herbs to really balance the flavours. 

Method:

Pour stock into a large pot and add the finely sliced ginger and spring onions. Bring stock to a boil and then lower the heat so that the liquid is just simmering.

Blanch the enoki mushrooms for about 3 minutes (or until they begin to soften slightly) and then pull out with a slotted spoon and put to the side for later.

Into the pot throw the noodles and chicken/tofu and simmer until the noodles are nice and tender.

Serve in large bowls ensuring you ladle all of that beautiful ginger stock over the noodles and spring onions. Add a splash of tamari to each bowl and top with generous servings of chilli, coriander and bean shoots and place your beautiful cooked enoki mushrooms on top.

It’s hearty, healthy and with home made stock in the fridge or freezer it takes less than 10 minutes from putting the pot on the stove to putting the bowls on the table – that’s my kind of cooking. Layering fresh herbs, chilli and lime makes this dish very kid friendly as you have total control over the flavour combinations. We often use broccoli and tamari in Bo’s and omit the other strong flavours… there is plenty of goodness in that broth alone when you make it yourself.

Enjoy x

  • May 15, 2015 - 8:12 am

    supernashwan - Dang, was just at the supermarket before I read this! Have all the ingredients except those delicious mushrooms, maybe tomorrow I’ll get some.ReplyCancel