30.6.10

Running in London


I am doing another 10k run on Saturday. I've lost count with how many I've done but I do enjoy them. I usually avoid charity runs because its hard to raise the money but when I heard that Run for Congo was doing their first London run I had to participate.

Run for Congo Women raises money through running races for Women for Women International. They help female survivors of war to help rebuild their lives and build self-esteem.  They operate through sponsorships and donations where the women then participate in one year programs which provide:  financial aid, job training, rights awareness and leadership education.


I had heard about this charity initially on a episode of Oprah.  Watch a Clip Here.   I had no idea about what was going on in the Congo.  Apparently some of the tribes that initiated the Rwandan Genocide who were driven out of Rwanda are now in the Congo.  Its a very dangerous place and obviously its not a safe place for the women who end up seeing things, surviving things (like rape, mutilation) that no one should ever have to even think of dealing with in their life.

Nicholas Kristoff one of my favorite NYT columnists has written extensively about the Congo.  Read here for more information.

When I get a job and my financial situation stables out I plan to sponsor a woman in the Congo through Women for Women.  In the mean time, I'm doing this race.  My goal is £150 which is the recommended fundraising amount!  I'm nearly there....only £35 away.  I REALLY want to get the entire amount and actually accomplish this goal.  I would be very grateful if any of you could help me reach this amount by sponsoring me in this race??  Every penny helps it really does plus it would go towards such an incredible cause!!

If you click on the button below it will take you to my Justgiving page.  I don't touch any of the money....it goes straight to the organization.  All countries/currencies are welcome.

Thank You very much for the support!


Christine

28.6.10

England in Mourning

This morning on the BBC you would have thought the queen herself had died.  I've never seen such long faces splashed across the television screen.  If you haven't heard England lost to Germany very badly in the World Cup yesterday.  England has never won to Germany except in 1966 when it was the last time England won the world cup.  So they get a bit bent out of shape when they play each other you could say. 

I guess I don't understand England's obsession with football (aka soccer).  Its just a game.  A game though where super fans who never shed tears at the important things in life (weddings, births) but when it comes to the game...well if they lose they'll blubber like a school girl. 

When I first got here and taught my first class at an all boys grammar school, when it came time for introductions they said their name and what team they supported (Man U/Liverpool)....I'm not kidding.  Every class did the same thing and I didn't ask them for it.

I don't mind the youngsters getting excited, its just the adult fans that make me nervous.  England has a reputation for football hooligans for good reason.  A big proportion of England fans really give the game a bad name.  Some councils end up banning the England flag (except for the world cup time) out of fear it will cause trouble/violence.  Not great when you can't show a bit of patriotism for fear of a fine eh?  I don't think it helps that the game and alcohol are usually associated.  Alcoholism messes with your head and adding troublemakers to the mix makes things worse.

Not all fans are bad I should say.  I don't think its any different than the way American football is treated in the US and how the fans are.  The English just are more enthusiastic I guess.  I'm not surprised though with all this stiff- upper- lip- idness.  They have to have an outlet for all that pent up energy somewhere.

So England is Mourning (the USA too for their sad loss against Ghana)...but this too shall pass.  Life will slowly get back to normal....well until the next big game.

22.6.10

Sunday












Woke up at 5 am on Sunday. Couldn't get back to sleep so I went exploring.

1. England!  (World Cup Supporters)
2. Number 6  (Front of a very old 16th century house)
3. Tree House in the City 
4. Mock Tudor House
5. Greenwich Naval College
6. Morning Graze (Greenwich Park)

21.6.10

What I like best about London

I've been asked another question...woo hoo!!  Its so nice to hear from people... keep the questions coming!


Q:  What do you like best about London?


Lots of things actually.  I think this city is different for everyone.  To me probably the biggest things are:

-The history

Everything is so old!!   I go for a walk in the park (Greenwich) and its been there since before America was even a thought.  Doing simple things start to have so much depth because of whose been there before me.

-The multiculturalism

 It was a huge culture shock for me when I came over.  If you're not used to being in-touch with so many cultures at once it can be overwhelming.  This city is represented by every country in the world and I love it.  The only city in the US that could even come close to having what London has is NYC.

- Culture/Arts

You always have a plethora of options to do for fun for whatever mood you are in.  I like it too because I feel like I'm being challenged consistently and progressing in knowledge and ideas.  I love how 20 minutes away I can see an original Monet in the morning and see great actors like Kevin Spacey in a play in the eve.

- The Green Spaces/Nature

Oh my do the English know how to do their gardens and their parks are no different.  There's an astonishing number of parks in this city and they are all WONDERFUL.  My favorite is Greenwich Park...but they are each unique.  I also love how even in this huge city nature is alive and well.  You can't live in the city without seeing/hearing loads of birds, spotting foxes, ducks, herons..the list goes on.

-The thinking


Europeans have an interesting way of approaching life.  Its generally a lot more relaxing than the way Americans approach things.  I like that.  I also agree with a lot of the political ideas like environmental conservation, health care, etc.


-Location

London is so close to a whole new set of countries.  Its a perfect location to hop over to mainland Europe or even Africa.  It only takes two hours to get to Paris and its cheaper for me whilst living here to visit than if I was living in the US.  For the amount of time it takes to fly across the US....I can be in Egypt.

-The weather

Don't laugh but I kind of like the dreary/gray weather this city has...only because it makes the sunny days even better.  Londoners have a spring in their step on sunny days and its wonderful to watch.  I also like the rain because this city wouldn't be such an emerald green without it.  Yes...all this rain has a plus side.


Its hard not to like this city.  I do love it and I feel so grateful that I've been here for as long as I have.

18.6.10

To see the Light

photo via:  another place*


 Today was rough.  I felt really tired and like I just couldn't cope with the day.  It seems like this happens a lot with me.  Yesterday I got discouraged cause I saw how bad my account currently is for the first time in like 6 weeks.  Thank goodness for overdraft limits but it depresses me how long I've been 'below' zero and thinking how long it will take me to get my accounts healthy.  James does what he can to help me financially and my parents have been helping what they can too.  I feel so guilty about this but what else are my options??  I'm grateful that they have helped me.  James could have easily said leave but thank god he hasn't otherwise what else am I to do?

Although I may not list everything I've been trying to do on here to fix things...it doesn't mean it hasn't been happening and I've been magically wishing things will get better on their own.  I do AS much as I can everyday.  I've had a little bit of work the last month (music adjudication) that I've done at home which will get me closer to zero.  Believe me I've been grateful!!!!  I've been searching for support systems and trying to think of ways to creatively make money.  I'm discouraged because I've already exhausted my free support systems (counselling on the NHS, etc) and my only options now are things that 'cost'.  Besides constantly applying for jobs...I've been selling belongings on e-bay and looking into options for starting my own business.  It seems like everything involves some sort of initial 'cost' for the business side (like photography).  I don't own a DSLR camera but I'm looking into trying to sell some of my prints anyway on etsy although I don't own Photoshop either.  The only thing that I haven't tried (believe me I've thought of everything) is writing down everything I've gone through in the last 10 years (good and bad) and trying to sell it as a 'book'.  Its free to at least 'do'.  I'm not sure about how easy it will be to get published, but I'm going to try and see what happens.  It may prove at least healing for me even if no one sees it. Who knows.

I wish the job situation was the only thing I had to deal with right now too. I've had some health issues including the fact I've put on like 20 lbs  in the last few months...and of course.....James.

So....My frustration/overwhelm is palpable.  I could go to the doctors and get anti-depressants but I've been down that path before and it didn't work for me.  My only solution is ME.  I have to find somehow the strength to carry on and fight this and to pull myself out of a very large, deep, painful hole.  

I did manage to watch Oprah today.  My gosh I love her.  Although the episodes were just 'fun' ...I've been thinking a lot about a past episode today where she said that your worst moments are those that are your most holy.  She mentioned how Maya Angelou told her once when she was crying on the other end of the phone to stop and say thank you.  So today I'm going to say thank you for:

- horrible days because they make the good days even better.
- chocolate 
- James bringing me flowers unexpectedly this week.
- Oprah (who I have a secret Mondo Beyondo desire to meet)
- the birds outside early this morning
- photography (I'm taking an unravelling course right now---see sidebar and its changing my life)
- the arts
- Things that make me laugh:  Jon Stewart I love you!!, Dharma and Greg re-runs, etc
- Books
- Weekends
- New days



May you all have a great weekend.

Love

Christine
xoxoxo 

15.6.10

Back to the USA??

I was asked whether I would ever consider moving back to the US in the last post.  I think this is probably my most frequently asked question I've had over the last ten years since living abroad. I've always answered it in live conversations never here. 

So....The answer is:  Not right now but I'm open to it in the future.

I've been in this huge state of 'flux' for so long that I've often considered throwing in the towel and thinking my life would some how be easier back in my home country.  Especially with the trials with James I've had many friends and family say its just not worth the stress anymore.  I've been told that well maybe a fresh start would be what I need.  Whilst I agree with them to a point, I think it would be exchanging one set of problems for another. Plus lack of concrete resources to start a new life is a big motivating factor too.  Picking up and leaving and thinking I can just move in with my parents with literally no money, no health insurance, poor transport access (no car), etc doesn't seem to be very nourishing to myself!! 

There also comes a time when you live abroad for so long that you become officially 'without country'.   You never fully fit in with the foreign country but yet your own country starts becoming foreign too.  Every time I've visited (this August it will be the 4th time in 10 yrs) normal things like shopping, the clothes people wear, the food all seems like I don't recognize it anymore.  People ask me where I'm from in America because my accents muddled.  When I was in the US last I said I was from London but I'm American as I was getting people asking if I was Canadian which I find kinda funny. 

Well anyway to get the point....if and when I did move back I would have to make sure to have everything in place otherwise it would be an incredible culture shock to me.  I know it sounds horrible to say that, but its true.  I've changed too much to just go back and pick up any ole life anywhere.  I can't do what I did when I moved over here (i.e. sell everything, move somewhere across the world with no concrete plan).  I have too many things now I couldn't bear to part with from travels and I don't want to spend the next 10 years flailing around again (like I have here) cause I don't have a Plan B.

If everything fell into place though:  the job, a place to live somewhere similar to London, the back-up/emergency funds.....etc....well then I may change my mind.  Right now though, I'm London bound at least for the near future I'm afraid.

Hope this answers your question!!


Christine
xoxoxo



P.S.  If anyone has any other questions feel free to ask in the comment section or e-mail me (see side bar)

14.6.10

Ask me Anything!

I would love to hear from some of you.  Feel free to ask me anything you'd like in the comment section and I'll answer the questions in another post.  This place is awfully quiet sometimes and I know from my stats that there's at least a few of you reading...... so say hello and ask me anything!


Christine
xoxoxo

13.6.10

Long Walks and Blue Skies



Went for nearly a 4 hour walk today.
Explored around Blackheath and Greenwich finding gorgeous old houses.
The market was busy.  Bought flowers and salad and had a nice chat to Danny our friend about the England v USA game.
Stumbled on a kite festival and a big field full of dandelions.
Came home and felt knackered.
Enjoyed a nice pot of tea with a homemade brownie.

A good day.

10.6.10

Everything is unfolding as it should be

My heart has been feeling pretty battered the last few days.   I've been facing such dilemma in my life for so long I've run out of energy to do much of anything anymore.  I am spending most days in my pj's and many days its just been easier to sleep for hours than to conceptualize my life.  When I've rested I then try walking again forward and after what seems like only two steps...it gets too much again and I shut down. 

My faith and patience are being pushed in ways that I never knew possible.  I'm angry when I see the lives of others.  I know the grass is always greener on the other side, but the one thing I want...the ability to provide for myself just hasn't happened.  I know that my needs are being taken care of because of James but its not the same....I want financial independence from him.  Money isn't happiness but its the foundation of so much.  So many possibilities would open for me if I had the financial resources to do it.  I know many a person has changed the world without a dime to their name.  I don't know maybe I'll end up having to be one of these people...someone who figures out how to create opportunity out of what seems like nothing.

I'm angry as well that so many people closest to me have hurt me so much.    I've been trying to help someone dear to me to get healthy for the longest time but whenever I've reached out I've been blamed for the problem, its been put off 'till later in the week' or they just don't want to talk about it.  Its like everyone is in denial except myself.  I read once that its easier to blame others than take responsibility for yourself.  I also know that not only the person who has the problem has to accept the situation, but the friends and family too.  They are not to that level yet I guess.  I know I can only control myself in the end, but you still want to at least 'try' to do something. Maybe I should stop trying and let this person destroy himself?

Anyway....Its funny how the universe has been sending me little messages of love to help to deal with everything.  Most have been coming from the wonderful Jen Lemen:

'It is patience that grows your capacity, and sometimes you have to hold the possibility of a thing for a long, long time before you have the strength or courage to hold the thing itself.'

'Everything is unfolding as it should be'.  

She also mentions to write down your worries in the form of wishes or writing down questions you have for the universe/declarations of openness or surrender.  I may just have to try this.

That phrase 'Everything is unfolding as it should be' especially hit a chord with me.  Whilst my life seems like it is in chaos.....I know in my head (I just wish my heart knew) that everything is in a divine order.  There's a purpose to what I'm going through that I cant see.    There's a lesson that the universe is teaching me.  I pray that I will be open to this 'lesson' and that I will be able to move on from it...healed and even stronger than before.  I guess I should be grateful for this time...time to be finally alone with and nurture myself.

I'd be interested in hearing some of the things you all do to be 'kind' to yourself during hard times??


Hugs

Christine
xoxoox

9.6.10

Mid Week Inspiration

A bit of inspiration for some Wednesday blues:


Amanda James

Grass Doe

little postcards


Rodney Smith



K Madsen

Also loving these sites:

JinkyArt

Finally here's a video from Jen Gray that just hit the spot.

Hope you are all well.  I'm looking forward to my favorite yoga teacher/class tomorrow.  Weather is meant to be a bit blah so I may spend some time catching up on movies the next few days in our local indie picture house.

Sending many hugs.

Christine
xoxoxo

4.6.10

My first Soufflé

Last night I ventured into pretty unknown culinary territory for me:  the soufflé .  You hear all the time that two of the hardest things to cook are a soufflé and a omelet.  Well, after yesterday I think I agree:



The ingredients are relatively simple:  eggs, cheese, milk and whatever you want to put inside.  The hard part is the bazillion step process that if you screw up just a teeny bit you'll end up with a sunk pile of goopy egg.  I'll spare you repeating the entire lengthy recipe here but here's what I did simplified:

After I did all my prep work (chopping, grating cheese, separating the eggs yolk/whites, etc), I pureed my main ingredient courgette (zucchini) the best it would go sans food processor.

I then made a roux (or a paste) with flour and melted butter.  Eventually I added the courgette puree to the paste.  Then once I finished w/that and took it off the heat, I added the onions/scallions, egg yolks and cheese (I used Parmesan) gently folding it in.  Then the tricky part comes.  You have to beat the living daylights out of your egg whites till it looks like whipped cream.  You then slowly work in the egg whites to the other mixture and put the finished product in your soufflé bowl:



Now I think I either screwed up the egg or made the mistake of moving the bowl half-way through (I realized I forgot to move the oven rack down...DOH!) cause my soufflé sank!  It tasted great, but it was supposed to rise a lot more than it did:


I was still pretty darn proud of myself for trying this.  We ate like at 10:30 at night cause it took so long but its all in good fun.  So..any ideas from those of you that have made one of these babies?  I would love to hear where I may have gone wrong or your tips to make a soufflé perfecto!

----

Recipe I used:  Zucchini Soufflé from The Food of the Mediterranean

Here's a great tutorial on Soufflé making (that I should have read!!) on 101 cookbooks.  At the end of the post there's a recipe.

Here's some more links for Soufflé recipes:

La Tartine Gourmande
Martha Stewarts cooking school:  Souffle
Chocolate Souffle


P.S.  Hope you have a fantastic weekend!!

3.6.10

Sunny Days

Although there's something romantic about the rain, sunny days sure are a great treat in this country. Tuesday we had nothing but downpours so when the sun popped out yesterday I went and bought flowers for James and I in Greenwich.  I love purple and flowers that are purple make me beam from ear to ear:


I treated myself to lunch at Greenwich Market. Although the market is primarily a weekend thing, they do have some lovely surprises mid-week too (like food stalls and antiques). I tried a African raw vegan wrap and it was bliss. It had sprouted beans, veggies, hummus and I felt uber healthy after.  I may just have to go again today to get one cause I've been thinking about it since.

When James got home we didn't want to dirty the kitchen that I had spent hours cleaning earlier so we said to heck with a 4 mile run and took a nice long walk instead through Greenwich Park. The sun stays till nearly 9:30/10 at the moment so the evening light was really beautiful:

Playing Cricket


The trees in Greenwich Park


The herb garden

We then sat outside and enjoyed a nice meal at Cafe Rouge (not getting home till after 9pm--on a weekday).  It was busy because everyone knew what we did....that good weather in England must be taken advantage while you can. 

1.6.10

Happy June

1. Untitled, 2. Untitled, 3. all star family, 4. the chase, 5. Untitled, 6. ., 7. children talking, 8. Blueberries, 9. Armchair, 10. vineyard, 11. DSC_7648-33, 12. violin , 13. all these clocks & never enough time, 14. DSC_7659-33, 15. IMG_6196, 16. Untitled

I hope you had a nice weekend.  It was a bank holiday here (like the US too) so James was home yesterday.  We didn't do a thing really, nothing exciting to post I'm afraid.  I slept through most of the weekend actually as I don't seem to have much energy at the moment.   Oh well, if your body says rest...you gotta rest eh?

I know its not Friday for Flickr but who cares...I wanted to share some of my recent Flickr Faves.  I've been on Flickr a lot recently.  I'm doing a lovely unravelling course (see sidebar) right now and our group home is on Flickr.  Love it-- really you can find so much inspiration on that little place!