Spring Thinking

Spring Thinking

CN: Mentions of Anxiety, mental health.

Spring is always a busy time for me. Mainly because my birthday is in April, which in the past few years has meant thinking about what I’m going to ‘be’. It was my 21st a few weeks ago, which was pretty crazy, and I didn’t really get a chance to think about what that means until now. I still don’t really have a lot of free time (dissertation due in 8 days lol) but I’m coming to terms with the idea of being an adult…

Not that I feel grown up at all. Even when I’m doing ‘grown up’ things like paying bills, travelling alone and booking my own doctor’s appointments, I feel like an imposter trying to act like I know what I’m doing. Like a dog wearing clothes. I guess I always thought that there was a moment where you just instantly became an adult, and knew what to do? Instead I’m noticing its more like a process of becoming. Looking back I am definitely a lot more mature than I was this time last year. And I’ve still got a long way to go. Some adult things are still hard for me including; job applications, serious phone calls, crossing the road, being responsible for things generally, the list goes on. (Mainly because I have anxiety and seemingly normal things stress me out).

Right now though, I’m just trying to focus on being. I find it easy to get trapped in thinking about what I’ve been through, what I still need to work on, what’s changed, and forget to think about what’s happening. That doesn’t mean ignoring the past or the future. It just means that in stressful/busy/exciting times I find it much more manageable to live in the present. Obviously there are future decisions that need to be made, and I’m not trying to aggressively ignore the past. Personally, thinking backwards or forwards in time too much can often make me feel dissociative and weird. This is something I’m working to cope with and luckily I have people to support me.

Another big help has been mindfulness meditation, which aims to focus your mind and body on the present. This has helped a lot with my sleeping pattern and general stress levels. I even get weekly emails from the free meditation class I go to which have inspirational quotes at the end!

I ended up talking about things I haven’t mentioned before in this post, like mental health, but it’s really helped to get it out. This was meant to be an uplifting post, so I’ll attach a nice picture of some tulips and a quote from my meditation tutor.

“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present” – Albert Camus

Yours upliftingly, A xxx

Seasonal Poem

Seasonal Poem

I decided to write my own poem focussing on positive aspects of the seasons I experience in England. I also added a few old pictures I found. Sometimes my mood gets negatively affected by cold seasons so I wanted to emphasise what’s fun about them! All feedback appreciated – I’m still very new to this poetry lark…

Winter’s charm melts like snow

Save for a warm festive glow

That brings us together

Hiding from the weather

Spring’s a game with no rules

Rebirth, growth, and April fools

Flowers blossom when it’s fair

Spontaneous showers clear the air

Summer’s warmth coaxes off coats

Shady places feel remote

Endless days give extra time

To stop, relax, and unwind

Autumn’s colours put us to sleep

Making the annual cycle complete

Only to begin again

Because this is not

The End

A xxx

Poems about Winter

Poems about Winter

While writing my dissertation, (which is on ecocriticism and medieval poetry), I’ve ended up reading about what seasons symbolically represent in poetry. It can be quite interesting to see the ways seasons and the periods of transition between them, are presented by different poets. It made me think of Christina Rossetti’s playful poem about winter. This poem used to infuriate me, but it really stuck in my mind, and now I actually really like it!

I also thought I’d link a painting by her brother, Dante Rossetti. I don’t know as much about him, but this painting was also inspired by winter. After a bit of research, I found out it depicts Prosperpine, (the Roman version of Persephone), trapped in the winter of Pluto’s underworld. I thought it gave a different view of winter, suggesting that it traps us rather than tricks us. Plus I just really like the pre-Raphaelite aesthetic at the moment!

Winter: My Secret

Christina Rossetti, 1830 – 1894

I tell my secret? No indeed, not I;
Perhaps some day, who knows?
But not today; it froze, and blows and snows,
And you’re too curious: fie!
You want to hear it? well:
Only, my secret’s mine, and I won’t tell.

Or, after all, perhaps there’s none:
Suppose there is no secret after all,
But only just my fun.
Today’s a nipping day, a biting day;
In which one wants a shawl,
A veil, a cloak, and other wraps:
I cannot ope to everyone who taps,
And let the draughts come whistling thro’ my hall;
Come bounding and surrounding me,
Come buffeting, astounding me,
Nipping and clipping thro’ my wraps and all.
I wear my mask for warmth: who ever shows
His nose to Russian snows
To be pecked at by every wind that blows?
You would not peck? I thank you for good will,
Believe, but leave the truth untested still.

Spring’s an expansive time: yet I don’t trust
March with its peck of dust,
Nor April with its rainbow-crowned brief showers,
Nor even May, whose flowers
One frost may wither thro’ the sunless hours.

Perhaps some languid summer day,
When drowsy birds sing less and less,
And golden fruit is ripening to excess,
If there’s not too much sun nor too much cloud,
And the warm wind is neither still nor loud,
Perhaps my secret I may say,
Or you may guess. [1]

Proserpine

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)pnd09

Afar away the light that brings cold cheer
Unto this wall, – one instant and no more
Admitted at my distant palace-door
Afar the flowers of Enna from this drear
Dire fruit, which, tasted once, must thrall me here.
Afar those skies from this Tartarean grey
That chills me: and afar how far away,
The nights that shall become the days that were.

Afar from mine own self I seem, and wing
Strange ways in thought, and listen for a sign:
And still some heart unto some soul doth pine,
O, Whose sounds mine inner sense in fain to bring,
Continually together murmuring) —
‘Woe me for thee, unhappy Proserpine’. [2]

Let me know if there’s any other poems about winter or seasons in general that you like! I might do a few more posts on this theme from different eras of poetry!

A xxx

[1] Source used: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/winter-my-secret, [Accessed April 2016].

[2] Source used: http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/dgr/drawings/5.html, [Accessed April 2016].

 

Simple Vegan Curry – Sweet Potato and Chickpea

Simple Vegan Curry – Sweet Potato and Chickpea

I never really thought of writing down the recipes of food I make, but this one is such a good go to and is actually really cheap to make! I usually make a big batch if I’ve got friends coming over and it can be adapted to use up ingredients you have. You can replace the vegetables, or add meat – I prefer to keep it vegan. If you don’t have premade curry paste there’s a lot of good recipes to make your own from scratch.

I kept the recipe very simple – there’s definitely better curries out there but this is just how I like to make mine.

Prep: 10 Mins – Cooking time: 40 Mins – Serves: 4-6

Ingredients: 

  • 2 large sweet potatoes or a few smaller ones
  • 1 large onion (I prefer red onions) or 2 small ones
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 courgette/zucchini
  • 400g tin of chickpeas (can probably replace with lentils)
  • 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 500ml of stock (I use a vegetable stock cube dissolved in water)
  • 2 tbps tomato puree
  • 2 tbps curry paste (I use Patak’s premade madras paste)
  • 2 tsps of cumin, chilli powder, ground coriander, whatever other spices you have

Optional extras:

  • 200ml coconut milk (makes it creamy and a bit less spicy)
  • 1/2 lime juice
  • freshly chopped coriander/cilantro if you can get it
  • 2 tbsp ground almond makes it sweet
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney (also good to serve with it)

Method

  1. Dice onion and finely chop garlic.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan and start frying the onion. Then add garlic and curry paste, and cook on a low heat, while you chop the vegetables.
  3. Add the peeled and chopped potatoes, the washed and sliced courgette, and the can of chickpeas (after draining them in the sink).
  4. Fry the vegetables for a couple of minutes (making sure nothing gets stuck to the pan), then pour in the tinned tomatoes and stock.
  5. Chuck in the rest of the ingredients, while the curry comes to a boil.
  6. Add spices and taste to check hotness.

    IMG_20160330_200731
    the finished curry (without coconut milk)
  7. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. (You can go watch TV at this point just remember to come back and stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn/stick).
  8. Check that the potato is cooked throughout (it will be soft and easy to cut through) and it’s done!
  9. I like to add a handful of fresh spinach at this stage which wilts and cooks v quickly in the hot curry. You can also add more stock/coconut milk if its too dry.

Serve with rice and naan bread! This also reheats and freezes well. If you enjoyed this or want more recipes please comment! If you have any tips for improving this recipe please comment those too!

(I’ll try and take better pictures next time – I was hungry!) A xxx