Sunday, 30 September 2012

Something New Days 7 & 8: Potluck and Pilsner

Well, Friday marked one of my first pot luck parties, believe it or not! I had been to one very nice one in Japan, but still, it had been a long time... so I made some guacamole (my "secret" is to mix it with sweet chilli sauce - beautiful!) and headed over. Some of the other food that I tried was delightful - hummus, some interesting things that I'd never had before, and a lot of vegetarian snacks!

Then, yesterday, Jeff and I went to the town of Plzeň, where Pilsner Urquell is made. It's only an hour from Prague (in you take the Student Agency bus from Zličin) and £3.30 or so, and as it's Student Agency you get free hot drinks and comfortable seats. There isn't so much to do in that town, and it was raining heavily, but we took the Pilsner brewery tour and got to learn all about how this beer is made. The most special part is that you get to try unfiltered Pilsner, straight from the big wooden barrel, while in a nice, cold, damp cellar. They don't actually sell non-filtered Pilsner outside of the town, so it's something quite special. They also make Gambrinus (and Kozel, Fenix, pretty much every good beer) and I tried the non-filtered version of that, too! It's quite fun to run tipsily through the pouring rain, too...

So, why not visit somewhere nearby that you've never actually been to? Or try something new to eat or drink, perhaps?

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Something New Day 6: Reading about aliens...

OK, so for a while, my brother has urged me to read this - the story of a man who claims to have met aliens. His story was originally published as sci-fi, but later he 'admitted' that it was true. I finally decided to start reading it. I haven't finished yet, as it's a long story, but so far it's interesting...

Whether I believe it or not doesn't matter. I don't not believe it - after all, how can we say that it's  statistically probable that life does exist on other planets, yet instantly dismiss any stories about it? Of course, our gut instinct tell us that this man is lying, or crazy. And he might be. But, whatever the case, you can't deny that he has an amazing imagination. The level of detail made me forget that it might not be true for a while. Of course, I want it to be true, but even if it isn't, it made me think a lot about humanity and our attitude. Unless people driven by short-sighted greed, ego and hatred lose their power and we all start to live in a more loving and altruistic society (which actually cares about the future of the planet) then things don't look good for us. Have a read, if you're curious.

So, my suggestion for today is - challenge your own beliefs, read something that you normally wouldn't, or something that a friend has been suggesting that you read for a while.

Something New Day 5: New people, choir practice

Well, three weeks ago I did something very new - I joined a choir! The International Choir of Prague, in fact. Everything is done in English, the songs are fun and modern and pretty easy to sing, and they let me in - woo!  Last night was the third rehearsal with them, and I spent the evening talking to a lot of new people. I've also found out that over Hallowe'en (yes, I spell it like that!) weekend there'll be a "retreat" for singing and bonding somewhere in the Czech Republic. Very exciting!

I can't emphasise enough how much joy I get from singing - on my own at home, on quiet streets, in choirs, at karaoke. It doesn't mean that my voice is amazing or anything, but I feel that singing releases some kind of energy from inside me, that if I don't do it then it will build up... maybe that's how Maria Von Trapp felt? If that sounds at all familiar to you, then I urge you to make your Something New for the day something similar - join a choir, a theatre group, try karaoke for the first time, or just blast your favourite music while you do the housework and sing to your heart's content. Who cares if you're no Celine Dion? It's about expression! You could even look for a singing tutor and get a lesson as part of your new mission... be brave!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Something New Day 4: Coconut curry!

Well, to be fair, every day in the kitchen is a little bit of an adventure for me, as I don't have a list of set recipes that I follow. Usually it goes along the lines of rice/pasta/noodles, vegetables, maybe some meat, and a bunch of spices or sauce. Last night, though, I felt bored and uninspired by my latest dish, so I decided to do something I never do - to follow an internet recipe.

Actually, that failed, as I couldn't find half the ingredients - but I did go to the shops especially to buy things for a dish, which I never do (usually I try to use everything I have left - not always tasty!). The original recipe required lemongrass, limes and even apricots, but what I made was chicken with coconut milk and a variety of spices (plus lots of tomatoes and onion). Instead of rice, I used couscous. It was nice!

Another new thing that I did today was give advice on relationships during a life coaching session. I've normally dealt with things like "Should I quit my job?" "How can I start a new business?" or "How can I lose weight?", but this was new ground for me. Of course, I have plenty of ideas and I spent a couple of hours reading up on relationship coaching techniques, but for the first actual session using it I think it went quite well! If any of you are feeling brave and have any relationships that you want to work on (it could be your relationship with a family member, a friend or a co-worker), remember that I offer a 30 minute free coaching consultation over Skype - it's free and it will give you the chance to find out how I can help you make things a bit clearer! Email me here if you fancy adding "got life coaching" to your list of new things... [/shameless self advertising]

Monday, 24 September 2012

Something New Day 3: Walking with a Samoyed

Well, today's something new was a little unplanned! After cancelling my morning lessons (due to yesterday's sickness) I woke up around 10am - after 12 hours of sleep - and felt ready to take on a new day. I arrived at my 1pm lesson, a fairly new one, and after 45 minutes we were down to one student.

"Do you want to come with me while I walk the dog?" the student ask, seemingly wanting to kill two birds with one stone.

Actually, this wasn't totally new, as the week before a different student had invited me to walk around with his wolf hound while we chatted about everything under the sun. This was a different student, though, and in his office sat the most amazingly cute, fluffy dog ever. I'd never been up close and personal with a Samoyed before, but they are friendly, cuddly and beautiful, and I want a whole basket of them to play with. I don't have the time or space for a dog but... walking with one and petting it for a while was great!

So, if you have a dog, celebrate it by taking them for a special walk someplace new. If you don't, you could join a friend for a walk or just sit in the park and watch them. If dogs aren't your thing, then why not spend time revelling in the joy of any animal (or plant) that you like? You could even buy a goldfish... I still smile when I remember one day at university when Hermione and I spontaneously decided to drive to the pet shop and buy a tank and two fish. A while later we added some smaller fish.... sure, I'm pretty sure that one of the fish somehow ate the smaller ones, but it was nice while it lasted.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Something New Day 2: Hot baths and doing nothing

Well, as bad luck would have it, my body completely crashed before day 2 even dawned. From the moment I woke up, I've had excrutiating stomach cramps and back pain, which later turned into being unable to keep anything down. Yay!!

When you feel like that, it's hard to make yourself do anything, let alone anything new. In Czech, Sunday is Neděle - which literally means to do nothing. So, on the day of doing nothing, that is what I did.

Actually not my bath, but close enough...
Well, I also ran myself a steaming hot bath - being a quick shower kind of girl, I rarely let myself soak and relax. The heat did something to soothe the pain, but I still don't feel much like moving from my bed.

Sometimes we push ourselves too hard, and our bodies tell us to slow down by making us ill (hey - there IS science here - stress knocks your immune system for six). Last week was a lot busier than I've been used to - getting up at 6 or 7am and not getting home until 8 or 9pm - and I think I'm paying the price for it now.  I could have pushed through it and told myself it was fine, but today I let my body heal a little. Tomorrow, I'll be back at work, though...

So what did you do today?

Something New Day 1: Chalk drawings and new restaurant/bars

Well, as the first day of my Something New Every Day challenge, I felt pressured to do something BIG. What should it be? Naked parachute jumping? Playing with live tigers? Those thoughts did cross my mind, but after a few comments asking how one is supposed to fit something new into their schedule every day, I decided to keep things low-key.

It's Saturday, so I did have more time than I normally will - the rest of the week will be much smaller changes, and hopefully those will give you an idea of how small the "new things" can be.

Today, I started off by eating a lovely stawberry cake at a new café in Prague. Outside, I noticed a box of chalk with a comment saying "you can draw!" - so I drew a cat. Not a huge thing, but I'd never drawn a cat in a public space with chalk before, so... why not?

 After that, we headed to a festival that was going on - a lot of restaurants on Americká were advertising their food, as well as a lot of random stalls selling clothes, wine etc, music playing lots of children and dogs running around. Nothing was massively new there, although of course I'd never been to that particular festival before! Some of the stands talked about the rights of illegal immigrants in the Czech Republic, and it was very interesting and eye-opening to read about some of the awful conditions that some people live in.

We spent a bit of time in Maghnia Village, a cool shisha bar that sometimes even has live belly-dancing shows and always has nice teas. I tried Strawberry and Chocolate tea, which was interesting, although I don't think I'll repeat the experience. After that, we joined some friends for dinner at a place called the Hairy Ghost, where we had some nice pizza (well, I had a bunch of vegetables as my stomach wasn't feeling up for a lot of cheese). After that, we found a cool little bar with hardly any people, but three pianos. Jeff played some music for us, so perhaps performing in a bar can be his new thing for the day.

So, what about you? Did you manage to do something new or different? Even if you didn't try a new place, anything that's out of the ordinary or interesting is great. I've already had people tell me that they've tried ultimate Frisbee, planted spinach seeds and tried cooking some new dishes today. I'd love it if you commented below with your own!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Challenge: Something New Every Day

I've been thinking about this for a while, and it's time to finally start it!

Do you ever feel just bored of life? When every day is the same, nothing really surprises you, you drag yourself out of bed to face another predictable day?

What about those things that you'd like to do? Some of us are ashamed of our dreams. You might want to start your own business, quit your job and travel around the world for a year, change your image so drastically that it terrifies you. But something in your head tells you "You can't... not you. You're too young/old/poor/dull". Perhaps you secretly believe that excitement and success are for other people, but not you.

If you're happy living in an unhappy, limited world, then don't read any further. Go back to denying yourself the things that you deserve, and feeling bitter when you see people who aren't afraid to go and get them. But if you want to feel more confident in everything you do, more excited about waking up every day, then read on. Those big changes won't seem so scary when you've been making little changes every day for the last few months.

So what is the challenge?

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Happiness Tips: Some News is Good News

This is the first of what I'm calling Happiness Tips - little changes that you can make to your life, bit by bit, in order to feel more positive, confident, capable and creative! When you're happy (and we're talking really happy on the inside, not the kind of cheap, temporary euphoria you might get for a few hours before plummeting back to feeling blue) you get more done, attract better people into your life, find solutions to problems more easily, become physically healthier and generally just make the world a better place for yourself and others.

Happiness Tip 1: Some News is Good News

There is no objective reality. We can watch scenes through cameras, but those are designed based on the way we filter information. Some animals can "see" pheromones, others communicate using dance (that's bees) - if we could sense everything, all at once, we wouldn't be able to cope. So our brains find patterns, label things to make it easier for us to get by from day to day. Take a look at the pictures below - what shapes do you see?