Friday, 30 November 2012

Something New Days 61-68: Thanksgiving and Muse!

OK, back on track!

Day 61: I started playing a depressing (but fun) game on the PS3 called Fallout 3... it's an open-world game set in a post-apocalyptic future, with lots of mutants and wrecked cities. It gets a bit bleak after a while but it's very interesting to see this depiction of what could happen if a nuclear attack were to occur...

Not my own pumpkin pie - I forgot to photograph that!
Day 62: Went to see Muse live at the O2 Arena in Prague - very exciting! I was impressed by the visuals and the sound quality (which was almost so perfect as to be boring) but we were sitting too far back to really get involved. I have to say, I'm impressed at how cheap drinks were inside the arena (£1.30 for a beer in a stadium!?).

Day 63: Tried a new restaurant - Prague's Lehka Hlava ("Clear/Light Head") - a vegetarian restaurant with a good reputation and funky space-like interior. The food was nice, but sadly the service was so fast (and absent, once we'd eaten our first course) that we felt rushed and unwanted!

Day 64: My first ever Thanksgiving!! There was turkey, mac & cheese, loads of veg and bread and salad and delicious things. It's a tradition that I think I'll adopt... in fact, I liked it so much that I did it all again the next day (with a different friend).

Day 65: As well as having Thanksgiving again, this was my first experience of baking pumpkin pie. I followed a non-traditional recipe - pumpkin pureé (baked and blended pumpkin), soaked cashew nuts, spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg) and maple syrup, blended up in a pie crust. It was actually amazing, and I could have eaten ten slices... the rest of the meal was lovely, too!

Day 66: I had one of those days where pretty much none of my students showed up, but as they hadn't given me 24 hours of warning, I'll still get paid... nice, but a little frustrating when you're traipsing over Prague with a heavy backpack full of paper!

Day 67: I made mince pies for the first time! Marks and Spencers in Prague sells mincemeat (as well as British bacon, cheese, hummus and lots of amazing things), and now that I finally know where to find pastry, I was good to go! They didn't turn out quite as I'd imagined, but they were nice...

Day 68: Finished watching the TV show "The Newsroom" - if you haven't seen it, I recommend it! A very intelligent, thought-provoking insight into the news industry, and the battle between being authentic and being popular that some organisations might face.

Is anybody still trying to do something new every day? :)

Something New Days 48-60: The F Word

Well, it finally happened. I reached that point where I wasn't doing something new every day. I don't know... I was busy, tired, distracted, and it just didn't happen. But instead of beating myself up about it, lamenting about how I ought to be a good role model for you guys, I've chosen to look at the positive side of it.

It wasn't easy at first, oh no. As I went to write this entry, that little voice (you know the one) started to say it... You've failed. Who will respect you as a life coach now?

It's all too easy to listen to that little voice - and to use that dirty word: fail. We hear it everywhere - as an exam result, on amusing internet memes about people slipping up - but mostly, we tell it to ourselves. I failed at my New Year's resolution, I failed to plan ahead, I tried to start my own business but I failed...

What is our obsession with this word? It's clear that the idea of failure is drilled into us from an early age, but what do we really mean when we tell ourselves that we failed? If you remember back to your days at school, what really happened if you failed something? I'm pretty sure that you were always given the chance to try again, perhaps with extra guidance and support. It might have turned out that you were looking at the problem the wrong way. And hey, even if you never quite passed that exam, you survived - you're still here now, aren't you?

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Something New Days 41-47: Parties and Problems Aplenty

I'm determined to keep this up until the New Year! I know that sometimes it can feel exhausting, but as one of my friends said a few weeks ago, you don't always have to set out to do something new - you can also look back on your day and realise that you did something a little different. That feeling of achievement can cheer you up and encourage you to do more things. All you need to do is listen to a new song, click a new link, read about something you didn't know about before, or learn a new word in a language you don't know (even a word in English - I bet there are tons that I don't know!).

Day 41 - It was November 1st, and I was at work all day before heading to my weekly choir meeting. I had about half an hour to find food, so I walked through the food court in Anděl shopping centre and found Loving Hut, a vegan restaurant with Asian-style cuisine. There was a help-yourself buffet for 19Kč per 100g, so I spooned some tofu dishes and spring rolls onto my plate and enjoyed a vegan dinner. It was actually really nice! I also had to use Czech to explain that a piece of my jewellery had broken and ask them to fix it - the conversation went something like "Hello... I have a problem" "OK, come back in a week" but I felt proud of myself anyway.

Day 42 - Finally checked out Merlin, a pub/restaurant near our flat in Prague. It's an Irish pub, with Guiness and the delightful Merlin (beer) as well as good food... some of it Czech with a Mexican edge. Interesting! I recommend it if you're in the neighbourhood (it's between Bruselská and Nuselské Schody).

Day 43 - My boss's 40th birthday party! It was at yet another venue in Prague (Park Hotel & Restaurant near Vršovice) and it was all you can eat/drink... I ended up with a lot of salmon and white wine in my belly, not to mention some epic chocolate cake. There was a DJ with karaoke, too, so Jeff and I sang in front of a lot of strangers.... not really that new for us, but it was a new venue/crowd!

Day 44 - I actively tried to spend a whole day without biting my nails. It's way harder than you might think.

Day 45 - An unexpected "new" thing happened. After paying the larger part of a contract fee and thinking that our wedding venue was booked and sorted (and having sent out invitations for the date next June), my wedding planner called to tell me that, actually, we couldn't have the venue on that day. Now, please understand, when I say "wedding planner" I'm not talking about the type you see in films that cost thousands, but it is somebody who I had trusted to sort things out for me. Suddenly, it seemed as if the world came crashing down on us. I was angry, upset, stressed... after promising myself that I wouldn't become a Bridezilla, I knew I had to keep it together (and THIS was an understandable thing to get upset about, as most venues would have been booked months ago). We had to keep the date, but find a new venue. So, my new thing was to take something that could have made me mad for a long time and to cope with it as quickly as possible. Of course, the important thing is that Jeff and I will be there, along with our loved ones.

Day 46 - I realised that I'm going to get married under the open sky, and that a part of me has always imagined that, anyway. It means walking down stairs in a big dress, though. Eek!!

Day 47 -  I discovered, which is a little like Pinterest for stories. I especially love the "interesting news" category, as it's full of delightful stories like "1400 year old Vampire Skeleton Discovered in Britain", "Man Attempts to Auction Off Earth" and "4600 Year Old Pub Found in Scotland". I find these little stories make great conversation pieces in my English lessons, as well as being very informative!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Something New Days 34-40: Pumpkins, Castles, Singing on the Subway

Hi again! It seems that a few of you have given up... I know it's hard, and that most of us are too busy to be able to truly do something new every day. In fact, there are days when I struggle to think of something to call "new" - but I'm determined to power on in the hope that it will give you some inspiration! As you'll see, I am quite obsessed with food and restaurants, but some of the new things are only ways of thinking, or other minor changes.

Day 34 (Thursday 25th October) - My friend and I checked out a relatively new Vietnemese restaurant in Prague (Pho Vietnam). The same owners already had a popular take-away, but now they have a sit-down version - but you still go up to the counter to order and pay. The food was delicious, and very cheap.

Oh yes, and it was snowing!
Day 35 - This weekend marked the Hallowe'en retreat for my new group, the International Choir of Prague. For two nights we stayed at a hotel in the countryside, singing and partying. This was my first time in the area known as Česky Raj (Czech Paradise), and the hotel location was amazing. We were situated on top of a mountain, two mountain peaks mounted by castle towers overshadowing us.

Day 36 - Still at the retreat, there were a few firsts. We learnt some new songs, for one. I dressed as a pirate for the evening party (not entirely a first, but a new costume). The most exciting new thing was carving a pumpkin! I'd never tried that before, and to make matters trickier, we didn't carve a face into ours but "ICP" (the choir's initials). I cut the "P" - it's quite hard to push your knife through the pumpkin, but not as hard as I'd imagined.

Day 37 - Well, I'm going to cheat a bit on this one, and count it as past midnight on the previous day (also when the clocks went back). To kick start our party, one of the girls led us all in a salsa dance. I learnt a few new party games, too... but I won't give too many details here!

Day 38 - Ah, Monday. It was a busy day, with hardly a breath to be had between working. One of my working hours, though, was life coaching a new client via Skype. He was based in the States, too, which is a first!

Day 39- With 90 minutes to spare between classes, I found myself wandering around a part of Prague that I don't know that well (Florenc), and chanced upon a vegetarian restaurant that I'd never heard of before (Mlsna Kavka). It was pretty good - I had a veggie burger and chips, and some nice leek-based soup.

Day 40 - Not sure of what to do, I found myself singing quietly on my walk up to the metro (as I tend to do anyway). I decided to keep this going into the metro to see how loudly I could sing before I was given a strange look. I didn't get very loud, but eventually somebody dared to look at me. It made me smile a little to see the "Get me away from this crazy person!!" look in someone's eyes, but also a little sad. What's so wrong with having a song in your heart, eh? Perhaps I know how Maria von Trapp felt, having to go into the mountains to sing. Ah well, that's why I have choir (and karaoke).

So, that was my week! Feel free to send me suggestions for new things to do!