Showing posts from September, 2017

meditation vs mindfulness

Meditation was best defined by the Dalai Lama as 'the process whereby we gain control over the mind and guide it in a more virtuous direction'.

Earlier this month I talked about Mindfulness - the act of focusing on being in the present. But how does this differ from meditation?  Mindfulness is actually a form of meditation.  

There are many forms of meditation apart from Mindfulness, including Transcendental Meditation.  In this kind of meditation a mantra or series of Sanskrit words may be used to help the mind find stillness. According to Deepak Chopra the word mantra can be broken down into two parts: “man” which means mind, and “tra” which means transport or vehicle. In other words, a mantra is an instrument of the mind. 

Other forms of meditation include:
Zen.  This literally means seated meditation.  Zen emphasises Buddhist teachings on the attainment of enlightenment through Sutras (scriptures or teachings) which are taught through the interaction with an accomplished teach…

Blame it on the bluetooth?

Do you remember the Sony Walkman?  When my sister was a teen she had one and I loved to listen to her cassettes. 

Roll forward to 2004, and I was so proud of my blue iPod mini with its white headphones. I loved it so much that I had my name engraved on the back.  Sheepishly, I admit I have no idea what became of it.   

In 2006, Beats by Dr. Dre (Beats) was founded by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine showcasing wireless headphones as part of their line and boasting sound of the highest quality.  Commuters prided themselves in showing their shiny headphones off.

Actually, the first commercially available Bluetooth headset appeared in 2000.  Bluetoothwas developed byEricsson in 1994 in Sweden and is 'a low-power wireless connectivity technology used to stream audio, transfer data and broadcast information between devices'.  There is a great infographic on the Ericsson website.

We have a small portable bluetooth speaker.  It is great to listen to when we get home from work. We connect it to …

Hot Water Beach

Love the beach?  But also love to spa?  Hot Water Beach is perfect for you.

Hot Water Beach is a 2 hour drive from Auckland (State Highway 1/25).  The best time to visit is within two hours either side of low tide when hot water bubbles through the golden sand.  To get to the hot pools though we had to walk through the icy sea water so were really surprised at just how hot the water was!

Spades can be hired locally and Moko Artspace just opposite the car park is worth a visit.  A bit further down the road is Hot Waves Cafe which make wonderful house chai lattes.

But the best of our visit to Hot Water Beach was a pit stop at the nearby Alan Rhodes Pottery Shop in Whenuakite.  A lovely lady called Bobbie gave us a tour of the studio and the artist's house - a wonderful concrete labour of love.  We also got to see the firing pit.  I would highly recommend stopping off here, you can't miss the sign below!

Save the day(light)

Being in London during the summer was a complete shock to my system.  It was past 9pm and yet it was still light.  I was woken by the sun streaming through the curtains before 6am.  In Zimbabwe there is very little variation on when the sun rises and sets throughout the year - its pretty much 6am to 6pm and when the sun sets its completely dark, there is no lingering twilight.

The concept of Daylight Saving Time (DST) where clocks springforward and fallback according to the seasons was introduced to New Zealand in 1927.  In the early hours of Sunday morning on 24th September the clocks will move forward by an hour.  This means that there will be more light in the evenings.
I think the best part about DST is that combined with the Equinox (the plane of earth's equator passes through the centre of the sun's disk so that day and night are of equal duration) which will be on Saturday 23rd September, this truly marks the start of Spring.  Here's too many long, sunny days after a …

What's on your mind?

In 2011, my sister gave me the book 'Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world' for Christmas.  I was surprised by one of the first exercises in the book which concentrated on raisins. The exercise encourages you to feel the texture of each raisin, smell it and chew slowly.  By focusing on the raisin our mind is brought to the present moment.

And that really is what mindfulness is - the ability to be fully present and in the moment.  Which sounds simple but can be difficult to achieve with the constant chatter in our minds.

Today there are many resources that can help us to achieve mindfulness with apps like Headspace and podcasts like Meditation Minis.

The practice is encouraged by schools and in the workplace.  "Pause, Breathe, Smile" is a mindfulness course delivered to participating schools in New Zealand.  Companies like Google offer mindfulness courses to employees such as Search Inside Yourself to promote mindfulness-based emotional intel…

Whitianga Scallop Festival

We spent a wonderful Saturday at the Whitianga Scallop Festival.  The event is held each September to celebrate the start of the scallop season.

Whitianga is one of the bigger townships on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand. It's a pretty place with a picturesque harbour, quirky galleries and gift shops.

This year's festival included a wide range of stalls showcasing scallops.  From macadamia coated scallops by Cathedral Cove Macadamias to scallop and bacon Skewers by the Mercury Bay Game Fishing Club, there were scallops for everyone.  Except me.  I'm allergic.  But fear not because there were food trucks like Bite Me: CC Kitchen Ltd selling delicious dumplings to cater for us non seafood types.

There were three sound stages playing live music and a cooking stage featuring local foodie celebrities Nadia Lim and Ray McVinnie.

And of course, a festival wouldn't be complete without the rain.  And it came down by the bucket load!

Check out photos from the festival on my Ins…

It's Election time!

September 23 is the day that Kiwis go to the polls in the 2017 General Election.  In New Zealand, you need to be enrolled to be able to vote.  The criteria is that you need to be 18 years or older and a citizen or permanent resident, and have lived in the country for one year or more continuously.  Exclusions include citizens who have not been within the country within the last 3 years and permanent residents that have not yet lived here for a year.

New Zealand was the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote.  This came about in 1893, after years of suffrage campaigning, led by Kate Sheppard.  Emmeline Pankhurst followed suit and in 1918 British women also won the right to vote.

Voting is a privilege not just a right, no matter which party wins or loses.  This is the basis of democracy.

So who to watch out for?  Here are the top 5 parties as per the 2014 General Election results.

National Party
Leader - Bill English 
Values - Less debt, more jobs, …

Podcasts about Start Ups

I'm a big fan of the StartUp podcast by Gimlet Media so was really excited about the return of a brand new season.  Season 6 looks at domains, and asks why the is the most popular and how much it's all worth?  Check out the first episode.

Here are 3 great podcasts about start ups:

1.  The Happy Ending
Coss Marte's journey from felon to founder

2.  The rebound 
Host Nic Dupuis talks to Nikki Durkin about her start ups 99dresses and CodeMakers.

3.  The crazy
How far will one man go to bring Trader Joe's to Canada?

Are you subscribed?

These days there is a subscription-based service for almost everything.  "But I don't subscribe to anything" I hear you say?  Well, do you have a monthly mobile plan or broadband?  Or maybe you go to the gym.  Or watch Sky TV or Netflix?  I bet you have at least one ongoing subscription.

When the subscription-based model works, it's great for both the business and the consumer.  Take the monthly mobile contract for example.  The Phone Network knows that it will receive at least your monthly payment plan amount each month and in return you know how many minutes, texts etc you can consume. It's reliable and requires minimum admin to maintain.

But recently I've been left feeling frustrated by subscriptions and I wanted to share my experiences.

1.  The magazine subscription
What a great feeling it is receiving your favourite magazine in the post before it is released to the general public.  That's the theory anyway.  My mum and I were recently gifted magazine sub…

Kia ora te reo Māori

This week 11-17 September is Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2017 (Māori Language Week).  The week celebrates te Reo and encourages everyone to learn and speak the language.

Here are 10 of my favourite words and phrases:

1. Kia Ora - Hello

2. Haere mai - Welcome or enter

3. Aroha - sustaining love

4. Whānau (pronounced far-noh) - family

5. Mokopuna - grandchild

6. Mana - authority

7. Whakapapa (wh is pronounced f) - geneology

8. Kai - food

9. Iwi - people/nation

10.  Kia Kaha te Kapa Ō Pango  - Go hard All Blacks!

There are great resources available.  If you'd like to learn more check out Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori and New Zealand History

Cryptic As!

Growing up in Bulawayo, my dad would buy the Chronicle newspaper.  I loved reading the Andy Capp and Hagar the Horrible comic strips.  But the crosswords frightened me, especially the cryptic one which made no sense at all.

When I started working in New Zealand, a colleague encouraged me to give the cryptic puzzle in the NZ Herald a crack.  I was relunctant but he persisted and we set a goal that I would try to answer at least 5 clues daily.  A year later, on rare days I complete the whole puzzle but most days I get between 5 - 10 answers correct.
So here are some tips to get you started on your cryptic journey!
Anagrams By far my favourite, I love rearranging words! Clue - Sees dirt, becomes repelled (8) Answer - RESISTED (sees dirt rearranged is resisted, which means to become repelled)
Clue - Initially French fried might disagree with one (6)
Answer - DIFFER (F is the first letter of French, added to fried and rearranged)

One word inside others
Clue - Consumes portion of meat ste…

Restorative Yoga

Last Saturday I spent a wonderful 2 hours at a Restorative yoga workshop.  Restorative yoga is the art of relaxation and mindful awareness, and involves only a few poses supported by props such as bolsters and blocks.  It is derived from a yoga style developed by B.K.C. Iyengar.  In an article on the Chopra Center website, Adam Brady says "Restorative yoga could just as easily be called “mindful yoga” due to the expanded awareness of self and body that comes through the practice". After the session we shared fruit and small talk to 'wake' us up before going back to the real world.  I felt calmer and refreshed.

At uni, my neighbour was wise beyond his years.  Whenever I described my long to-do list to him, he would reply, "But when will you rest?"  We can get so caught up in our busy day to day lives that it's so easy to forget to just be.  Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., PT, author of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times expresses it perfectly…

Happy Father's Day!

The first Sunday in September is Father's Day in New Zealand.  If you're reading this post from the rest of the world (other than Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea) then you probably did a double take.  Hasn't Father's Day already passed?  Wasn't it in June?

Well yes, and no.  Father's Day dates back to the early 1900s, inspired by Mother's Day services in the US.  For most countries it falls annually on the 3rd Sunday in June, which for the northern hemisphere is close to the Summer Solstice.  However Australia and New Zealand started celebrating the day on the first Sunday in September the 1930s.  There is much speculation around this including it being the start of spring (so dad can get a new BBQ, lawn mower etc) and there being so many Public Holidays between March and June (so this way we can spread them out a little).
Whatever the case, it is a special day to say a 'Thank you' to dads.  We celebrated today with the humble roast chicken and I…

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Happy 1st Day of Spring for all in New Zealand!

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