Wednesday, 28 December 2016

CHRISTMAS 2016!

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Thursday, 22 December 2016

BOOK REVIEW: THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN by MITCH ALBOM


First of all, let me tell you the amazing story behind how this book came into my life, for I did not choose this book - this book chose me. A few years ago an acquaintance mentioned this book to me and told me to read it after a very deep conversation about the existential matters in our lives and the lives of those around us. Anyway, years later I still hadn't read it and this book popped into my head out of the blue, and I told Ben about it. Then, sure enough, we were walking along in hove and Ben said 'Look, there's something between that hedge and the wall beneath' so I went over and pulled out THIS BOOK! Inside was written 'Ruth's book, Chris's book' and then 'Anybody's book'. How bloody well amazing is that? If that isn't true synchronicity then I do not know what is my friend.

The five people you meet in heaven is about a beautiful man called Eddie, it is his eighty-third birthday, and he is still working as a maintenance guy in the amusement park where he grew up. He's father had worked there before Eddie too, but Eddie had always aspired for bigger and better things. This birthday is different to any other birthday for Eddie, as this particular birthday is also Eddie's deathday. Eddie is going about his day as he does every other day, carrying out mediocre chores and plodding along as usual until he is stuck in the midsts of a tragic accident and dies. 

It really brings to light how we could all die at any second and we still all walk around worrying about pathetic things that don't matter, undergoing pointless tasks, and indulging in unfulfilling acts and shit conversations. It has made me realise that really we should live in the here and the right now, and if you aren't doing something that fills you up with complete love, then don't fucking do it at all.

When Eddie reaches heaven he meets five different characters that have had a huge impact on his life, whether he has realised it or not. Each person carries a different type of heaven with them. Which is another thought-provoking concept - one man's heaven could be another man's hell, and so what if another man's dream life, is another man's death sentence? So why are we all striving for the same things? Why are people so wrapped up in striving for exactly the same things in life? It's bizarre, yet it's considered bizarre to aspire to have a life that is completely the opposite of the ordinary. How very bland and boring for us.

The five people Eddie meets in heaven aren't the people one would imagine they would meet in heaven, but perhaps that is a human's emotional attachment and ego speaking as opposed to the true journey of life and its lessons. One would expect to meet their Mum, Dad, Brother, True love, and Greatest teacher in life, but perhaps the one's you think to be these things here on earth, aren't the one's that are in the grand scheme of things. 

Eddie finds lots of unresolved issues unravelling for him in heaven. Such as he's broken relationship with his father, his war wound that made him disabled and the reason he got 'stuck' in for what he perceives to be a pointless and pitiful life. It really made me think that no life is pointless because it is a unique, and like no other. It's our own unique experience and we should cherish it, and hold it with both hands while operating with sheer love in it. 

This book really drums home that we are all connected to with all of its strange twists and turns. We are all connected - you only have to go onto a 'meme's' page to see that we are all thinking and feeling the same things. One google search and you've found someone going through exactly what you are going through. The problem is; we are all connected yet so disconnected. This book honestly made me want to talk to everyone on my coach and train when I was reading it. We all have the opportunity to meet so many special and amazing people every single day and what do we do? We sit on our phone's communicating with those people we already know. While I love the people in my life and am so grateful for all of the special bonds I do have; I don't want to restrict myself and cut myself off from making more of those connections. We are also all connected in that we all die, yet no one really wants to speak about death (not here in Britain anyway), yet it is really comforting to know that, especially if you're dying or are witnessing a love one passing over to the other side.

Here are a few of my favourite quotes from the book:

"All endings are also beginnings. We just don't realise it at the time."

"All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair."

"Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside... We think that hating someone will hurt them, but hatred is a curved blade, and the hate we do to others, we also do to ourselves."

"Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else."

" 'You have peace,' the old woman said, 'when you make it with yourself.' "

"Each affects the other, and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one."

"Heaven can be found in the most unlikely corners."

"In order to move on, you must understand why you felt what you did and why you no longer need to feel it."

"Lost love is still love, Eddie. It just takes a different form, that's all... You can't hold their hand... You can't bring them food... You can't move them around on the dance floor... but, when those senses weaken, another one comes to life... Memory... Memory becomes your partner. You hold it, you dance with it... Life has to end... Love doesn't."

This book has given me so much perspective due to the fact it had so many thought provoking ideas running through its pages. I cried, I laughed, it comforted me, and it scared me but I could not put it down. I was hooked from the moment I found it in such bizarre circumstances, but I fell in love with Eddie instantly. The book has reinforced to me that we must cherish our lives and those in it and we shouldn't get too caught up in the things we cannot change. Just ride the rollercoaster as Eddie would, and read this book somewhere in between doing so because you won't regret it and it will give you a whole new take on things! 

Peace out Potatoes xo
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Sunday, 18 December 2016

WHAT TO BUY SOMEONE WHO IS BEDBOUND FOR CHRISTMAS

Firstly, I would like to begin this blog post by saying that if it isn't likely that your loved one will recover from being bedbound then this probably feels like the loneliest thing you will ever have to go through, and you're probably feeling very alone and a mixture of lots of different emotions, - you really, really, really are not alone. My family and I are going through the same thing at the moment and some of my friends have experienced the end of life care of a close loved one too. I can only hope that the fact you're not alone brings you some form of comfort, if only a morsel, as it does me.

I have previously struggled with gifts for one of my closest loved one, as they haven't been mobile and have been given a time frame, so material things do not mean a lot to them but I think I've aced it now. Therefore, I have written this little guide for anyone who may be in a similar situation to use as I couldn't find one myself. I must admit that I got a little bit emotional writing this because this post is coming straight from the very centre of my heart. :-)

A 3D or normal puzzle - If they're struggling with a serious illness, this will help to distract them from their inevitable negative thoughts, whilst giving them a real sense of self-worth and self-esteem upon completion. It's also a great ornament for them to look at and feel proud of their accomplishment, and a reminder of your thoughtfulness.

A good book/ An audio book. An audiobook is a good one for those who are too tired to sit up and just want to rest their eyes. Keep it lighthearted or on a topic of something they once loved. Be thoughtful and mindful about this one as books can do such much for your mindset so "the fault in our stars" isn't the best choice for someone with terminal cancer for example. Again, it's another distraction so choose something you know they'll enjoy and that will help them escape to another place they'll love, even just for a moment.

A mug - a cheery mug goes down a treat in all walks of life and I guarantee that, if the person is ill and British, it is likely that hot drinks are a huge part of their day so why not add a happy touch to that and get them a personalised mug.

Bed covers and blankets - There is nothing better than a nice new set of bed covers, but when a bed is where you're spending 24 hours of your time it's even more magical! You could offer to wash these in hyper-allergenic washing liquid/powder, before putting these on the bed, especially if they are getting any treatment that may dry out the skin. It doesn't just feel great getting into a freshly made bed - they will also make the room look brand new and this is a definite added bonus for someone who hasn't been out in a while. 

New pyjamas - Of course, it depends if your loved one is in their own clothes or hospital gowns, but it's just such a nice feeling to get into beautiful new pyjamas. It's the same principle as the above too - it'll make them feel brand new. Lot's of people take pride in their appearance so if they're stuck in bed it is likely they haven't been able to dress up in a while. Therefore, buying them some smart and swanky night wear may just be what they need for a little cheering up. 

A candle - now this is ONLY if the person does not have any respiratory problems and is mobile enough to blow out candles. If it's for someone who relies on their carers then just don't do it without the permission of the care provider. My Pop's appreciates these because he misses being able to smell the flowers in his beautiful gardens, hence why I got him lots of floral scented candles so he could experience those scents again. I also bought him candles of scents of places he may not have got to go to recently, or ever again, like Ocean scents and forest scents. If you live with the person, be sure to blow it out before bed! We also got my Dad one of those long hob lighters to avoid any accidents with matches and normal lighters. 

Organic herbal teas - if someone is ill it's likely they will not be well enough to drink alcohol so the usual Christmas tipple is out but I love a nice flavoured tea just as much! Also, if they are dealing with lots of serious illnesses, it's best they cut out cows milk (please catch up western medicine) so herbal teas are a great alternative. My personal favourites are vanilla and cinnamon and apple, raisin and cinnamon. Lots of the ingredients will also have healing properties too;  examples include ginger, turmeric, sage, and cinnamon. These are all natural anti-inflammatories and may help with swelling and related pains.

Food - you wouldn't go out and buy someone with diabetes a pack of chocolates and a box of sweets. Similarly, if you're going to buy a sick person a gift, take it from a member of their family/ care provider, make it as healthy and nutritious as can be. My loved one was fed via a tube for a year, and so could not eat, but now he can so I will buy treats. However, they will be vegan natural products such as natural liquorice without gelatine - be careful with liquorice as people with high blood pressure, liver, heart or kidney disease, people with potassium deficiencies, or those on heart, or diuretic medication, should take caution with anything containing liquorice root. You could bring the traditional grapes, some dates or some homemade brownies that have been made from scratch. Be mindful with this again as you need to do a risk assessment as to whether or not your treats may be a choking hazard - if so, cut the food bit out!

A plant - bring the outside in - it makes people feel happy to look at a beautiful pot of life. Also, it won't die and get to that depressing stage that flowers do.

A nice lamp - a lamp that provides a calming graphic effect OR one of those lead painted glass ones the elderly love oh so dearly (if they're elderly of course)! We got my dad a touch lamp so it was easier for him to turn it on and off too.

A Netflix subscription - My good friend Katrina suggested this one and I cannot believe I didn't think of it sooner. What a great idea this one is because Netflix has everything you can possibly choose from and it's nice to get lost in a good series. If you were feeling super flashy you could get them an iPad or tablet to watch Netflix in bed, but, if this is out of your budget range or they already have one, then Netflix is a thoughtful, useful, and fabulous gift. 

A scrapbook/ a photo album/ photo collage - When I was told my father had a matter of months to live, I made my popsicle a little scrapbook with all of the things I am thankful for with lots of photos of our lovely memories together, written reminders of all those memories, poems, things I felt I needed to say, things I get from him, what I plan to do in the future - the whole shebang. I decorated it all and got crafty too because I know material possessions don't mean anything at this stage. However I do know that time, memories, love, appreciation and gratitude do. They can't take pointless inanimate objects with them, but one would hope that their soul will carry the meaningful, intangible things with them. 

One last thing...
Your time is what someone in this position really wants/needs from you so why not pull up a chair (if there isn't one - get one) and just listen to them and/or have a chat with them. From what I have seen the biggest pain in dying is the loneliness it brings. Ease that pain, sit with them, read to them, tell them you love them, and appreciate your final moments with them! 


This too shall pass. Esto también pasará.

All my love xo
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Saturday, 17 December 2016

FAMILY RECIPE - JACKFRUIT CURRY


My dad has been making me this curry since I was small - he used to make it with chicken but I now swap the chicken for jackfruit because it absorbs the flavour the same and has a similar texture. I will list the Ingredients here and below I'll put down the method. I hope you enjoy the flavours of my childhood if you decide to give this recipe a go. This was one of those recipes that people would ask when they were coming over 'is your dad making a curry?', and those he made it for always left with a tupleware box full of any excess curry. I love it so much and I will continue to cook it for the rest of my life as it is the taste of home for me. 

INGREDIENTS:
* 565g jackfruit (ready chopped in tin)
* 1tbsp Patak's madras curry paste
* 1 anise star
* 5 cardamom seeds
* 2 chillis (chopped)
* 1 medium red onion
* 3/4 garlic cloves
* 2 thumb sized knobs of ginger (chopped)
* 5 bay leaves
* 200g of creamed coconut 
* 400g of chopped tomatoes
* 2 tbsp of tomato puree
* 2 cinnamon sticks.


METHOD:
1. Heat a tiny bit of oil in the bottom of the pan then place the jackfruit, chopped garlic, onion, chilli, ginger, and curry paste in the pan and shallow fry them off on a low heat for about fifteen minutes (until the jackfruit has changed colour and has softened), stirring occasionally. 
2. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, star anise, cardamon seeds, bay leaves, and cinnamon to the mix and stir it in.
3 Add the creamed coconut and cook for another 10 minutes, turning the jackfruit over in the paste. Add enough boiling water (or stock) to make a thick sauce, and bring up to the boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer uncovered for another 30 mins, stirring occasionally.
4 To finish, add a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle of coriander and check it is seasoned well (I sometimes add my beloved ground salt and black pepper). Serve with plain boiled rice.
Enjoy! :-)
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Sunday, 11 December 2016

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