The Joys of a Shared Table

“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.” ~ Michael Pollan

 

If you had asked me to create a memorable meal when I was younger I would have had the cookbooks out in a flash, planning some elaborate and fanciful spectacular.  Menu planning for ‘Spectaculars’ runs in our family. We used to call going to my grandparents for dinner ‘a trip to the Palace’; all of us dressed for dinner, the table set with the best china and crystal, flowers, music, wine, and lovingly prepared food of restaurant quality.  As a child I grew up turning melons into piles of perfect tiny spheres for one of Mum’s ‘Annual Christmas Creations’, or hollowing out endless half loaves to make little toasted bread baskets for prawn salad.

I still love a party, and planning something special, but I’ve come to realise that it’s not just about the food. It’s the experience – the people, the situation, the sharing.

Here are some of my most memorable meals:

Ben and I ran into two charming elderly brothers on the veranda of a tiny country pub in the middle of nowhere.  They were staying in a shack down by the river and suggested a spot a little further along as a good place for us to camp. On a whim I invited them to dinner, and cooked a camp oven roast with all the trimmings, bread and butter pudding and home-made custard.  They brought an empty cereal box full of live yabbies (little freshwater crayfish) as a gift, and entertained us with stories all night. The next morning while we were making breakfast our dog Charlie, who was still a pup, found the box of yabbies and spilled them all over our swag, and then ‘played’ with them. We couldn’t get the stink of yabby guts out of the sheets and had to throw them away.

bush kitchen

On the day that my beloved grandmother Marga (Queen of the ‘Palace’) passed away, my sister, Mother and I sat with her as she took her last breaths.  Afterwards my sister and I went for a walk and ended up in the courtyard of a little cafe in New Farm, where we ordered a very late lunch of ginger-beer, toasted ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches and hot drinks.  We sat in the sunshine on this glorious Brisbane afternoon, not really talking, just sharing space and taking comfort in each other. The waitresses were so kind, and brought us tissues when we both kept eating with tears sliding down our cheeks.

toasties

The best hot chocolate of my life was at a little outdoor cafe in the medieval city of Gubbio in Italy. I was travelling with my husband and some friends but had taken time out to sit on my own and write. Was I alone though? No! I was sitting on the terrace with Gubbio laid out before me, surrounded by flirty Italian waiters, while the shopkeepers called greetings to me.  That hot chocolate was sublime, but it was also flavoured with the romance of that ancient city.

gubbio square

During a trip through the centre of Australia a few years back, we got flooded in on a remote stretch of road with several other motorists.  We all camped on the road, glued to the radio for the weather and road updates, and pooled what food and drink we had with.  Dinner was an interesting affair of chips, chocolate, lollies, sweet biscuits, sausages in bread, baked beans and instant noodles, washed down with beers and cups of tea sweetened with condensed milk. Our dining area was a huddle of folding chairs and eskies under rigged-up tarps in the pouring rain. It was cold and wet, but we had a lot of fun and met some interesting people!

central-arnhem-road-650Last year I took my good friend, Carly-Jay Metcalfe to visit one of our neighbours. Gordon’s an old farmer with many a story to tell, and he’s dad to another very good friend, Shannon.  Our farms are opposite each other, separated by a river which is low enough to cross over in our gumboots at the shallowest section, if it hasn’t been raining.  We came bearing home-made scones, jam and whipped cream, and Gordon made us a pot of tea that any CWA stalwart would have been proud of – Gordon’s tea is a bracing brew.  All afternoon we sat in his humble kitchen, laughing and sharing tales.  The food was fresh but not fancy, and there was not a tiara in sight. But it was one of the best afternoons on record.

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When I look back, my most treasured food memories aren’t really about the food at all. A meal can be a main event, but what makes the occasion memorable for me is the joy of a shared table.

What’s your most memorable meal?

Life’s Spontaneous Adventures…

My trusty old Hilux – much loved by my dogs who get to ride with the wind in their hair…

Much to my mother’s ‘sense of style’ mortification, I drive an old Hilux Ute (a pickup for my non-Aussie readers). One thing I have found to be a truth in this life – when you have a ute you have friends.  Friends who need to move things.

I have also found that having a ute quite often leads to unexpected adventures.

Last night proved to be no exception. A friend is moving offices, and wanted help to move some bookcases and shelving. We drove through the evening peak hour traffic to get to his current workplace, loaded the ute, and then followed him back to his home, down on Brisbane’s bayside.

Once we were all unloaded he suggested we join he and his partner for dinner, at a favourite bistro on the waterfront.

It was a beautiful night.  Cool, not a breath of wind, and just a few light showers every now and again.  We ate at the Marina, looking out over the water and the twinkling lights.

I’d like to report that my Baked Atlantic Salmon and King Prawn Risotto was excellent, as was my glass of Mojo Sauvignon Blanc. I wish I’d taken a picture of it, but alas, after all that furniture moving I devoured it entirely before I thought to share it with you.  Here’s the happy evidence of its demise:

So good, I almost licked the plate clean…

After dinner, we said our goodbyes, and then my husband and I took a last walk around the Marina, enjoying the scenery and all of those magnificent boats. We talked of travel, of sailing, and all the places left in the world still waiting for us to explore.

And then the completely unexpected.

A chance encounter with old friends from another place and time… An invitation aboard their boat… The opening of another bottle of wine…

Laughter, music, conversation and catch ups. The opportunity to step out of the everyday…

Dave’s boat, drinks and dancing!

One of the things that thrills me most about this life is all of the turns and twists, the synchronicity of events, the joyful bumping into people you would never expect to see on a rainy night in Brisbane.

There is something so magical about life. I’m hooked on it. Aren’t you?

Patience and Right Timing

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.

~ Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know that I am a big fan of trusting in two things: Universal Wisdom and Right Timing.

You might wonder what that has to do with patience? Everything, my friends, everything!

Why? Well, when we are asking for a sign, when we’re newly on our path, when we’re in the early stages of love, a new diet, a fledgling business or a fresh story idea we are usually good with waiting, and things unfolding in a gradual or haphazard manner. We most often have a sense of support too, and that loved-up and cosy feeling of being listened to by the Universe, God, our Guides, Angels or whomever else we feel is out there for us.

But what happens when the newness wears off?

This is usually where we start to falter.

When things are new, or the search hasn’t even really begun yet, we run on excitement, hope, anticipation and adrenalin.

But when we are well into things, or what we want hasn’t shown up yet, or we’re staring up at the bigness of the project we have just undertaken, we can wonder if we are EVER going to achieve the thing we desire. We become impatient.

Doubt creeps in. Fear too. And once you’ve cracked the door open to doubt and fear, all those lousy opportunistic emotions and limiting beliefs from our past start tapping us on the shoulder: defeat, failure, not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not worthy enough, too old, too fat, too late…

All things take time.  And I have seen too many people walk away from the thing that was actually working, just because it wasn’t unfolding within the time-frame they’d set for it.

Oh, we say to ourselves.  Love is NEVER coming.

Oh, this business is NEVER going to make money.

I’ll NEVER get this book published.

Or whatever other sad story you tell yourself…

And so you stop what you’re doing.  You give up.  You go home.

But what makes you so wise that you can suddenly know the workings of the Universe?

What makes you think that you can have a plan better than Divine Timing?

It’s a bit like being three months pregnant and ready to have that baby RIGHT NOW, because the nursery is painted, the freezer is full of casseroles and you have a few weeks leave up your sleeve.  Come on, baby, you think.  I’m ready!  Let’s do it!!! Only problem is, babies take longer to make than three months.

If I have any advice for you, it’s this:

❤ Relax and enjoy the journey! When we are patient, we perfect our craft.  We grow, and learn and develop all manner of new talents and insights. We gain mastery. It’s never just about the destination – and it’s always about the becoming…

❤ Trust that Universal Wisdom has a much better plan than anything you could come up with on your own, and all you need to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other, living with an open heart and an open mind.

❤ Know that things have a wonderful way of working out with Right Timing. And that timing is usually not YOUR timing.  If it hasn’t shown up yet, if it’s taking too long, there’s a reason for that. You just can’t see that from where you’re standing, and you might be closer than you think.

You ARE supported and well-loved, and there IS a magic and a wisdom to the way things unfold for us.

Your job is to be happy, to follow your heart, to live with gratitude and compassion and to be open to opportunities and miracles. You’re not in this alone, so stop acting like it and start trusting! ❤

I’ve recorded a simple Guided Meditation to help you relax into the energy of patience and trust.  All you need to do is click on the link below, and then close your eyes and listen…

Nicole Cody’s Guided Meditation for Patience and Divine Timing

You are a well-loved child of the Universe. You are supported and connected to source energy.  All is well.

Please excuse me…

Arrivals at Heathrow Photo: Frantzesco Kangaris

Some of you might have read recently about my use of affirmations (My embarrassing affirmation confession), so you’ll know that one of my favourites is ‘Something wonderful will happen to me today…’

So that was exactly what I was affirming to myself this morning, from the comfort of my nice warm bed, around 4 am, when my phone announced that I had a message.

A friend from overseas had just landed at Brisbane Airport, and had  a few hours stopover before flying on to Sydney.  I was awake, the airport was close, so I jumped at the chance for a hug, a chat, and an early breakfast.

Something wonderful happened to me today.  Life’s crazy synchronicity enabled me to catch  up with someone I love.  Two people, right place, right time and an ability to say ‘yes’ to opportunity.

I’ll blog the thing I was going to blog tomorrow… But today I have given myself some time out.  And hey – I blogged this from my iPhone.  How awesome is that!!!

Manifesting New Directions and Opportunities

Image from relativityonline.com

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.
Henry David Thoreau

It still amazes me how writing and visualising can create a magnetic pull in your life that attracts relationships, synchronicities and opportunities to you that are a match to your talents and intent. Writing has great power, and today’s exercise uses journal writing and visualisation as tools to help you open doors, invite opportunity and attract helpful people.

Expect answers and solutions. They often come from left field, and they often manifest themselves very quickly.  The more happy, positive and in flow you feel, the faster your solutions and opportunities will arrive. (If you’re not sure what makes you feel good, or how to get into that happy place, there is a great journal exercise and suggestions here.)

Journal Activity

Begin by writing the following passage into your own journal.  Feel free to use coloured inks if you wish, or anything else that brightens up your page.  Then choose one or more of the journal starters below and just start writing.  Let the words flow from your heart.  Don’t over-think anything, and most importantly don’t censor anything or limit yourself.  You can use the same journal starter more than once if it really resonates for you.

Use the page to create, imagine, and daydream your best self.  Feel yourself expanding out from the current limits of your life, dipping your toes in that glorious ocean of possibility.

Dear Universe, 

I believe there is more in store in life for me that what is in front of me right now. I have so many gifts to share, and I just need a little help to shine more brightly. I would appreciate some helpful people, some new opportunities, some great teachers and any other synchronicities or miracles you can throw my way.  I know some of these can be quickly sorted, and some may take more time. I am open to however this works.

I am excited about my future.  I await it with open arms.  I say YES to possibilities, and I am READY TO MOVE FORWARD in ways that bring me happiness and that best use my talents and gifts:

Choose from any of these journal starters and begin manifesting your new life:

  • Image from twistedsifter.com

    With a little bit of support I could

  • I have a great project in mind, but I’m a bit stuck about how to go forward.  What I really need is
  • One of the things holding me back right now is ____________ . If I could just get some help with this I could
  • I’d love to learn how to _______________ . I would love to attract a teacher who could
  • I believe in following your passions, and that if you do what you love, the money will follow.  One of my greatest passions is
  • I would love an opportunity to
  • If only someone would give me a chance I could
  • This situation isn’t working for me.  What I need is
  • I used to be so good at ______________ . I’d love to be able to
  • My greatest dream is
  • The sort of miracle I need right now is
  • I’m really stuck right now.  I need some help to turn my life around because
  • If I was brave enough I would
  • You know my talents and gifts greater than I do.  It would be really cool if
  • I have a super idea, but I don’t know how to bring it to life.  I need to find some
  • The big thing that’s stopped me living my dreams is _________________.  Can you help me find a way to
  • Get me out of here! I would love to be able to
  • I’m ready to say YES to

Image from euromag.ru

Daydreaming your way to a new life

When you have ten minutes all to yourself where you won’t be disturbed, go sit in a comfy chair, lie down on the bed, or spend some time in nature.  Take your journal with you! Open up this exercise and read one of your answers.  Use that as a starting point, close your eyes or gaze off into the distance and just daydream yourself in that ideal life.  See yourself having a great time, being successful and happy, getting the thing done, achieving the goal, getting the promotion, having the life or the lifestyle, winning the award, getting married, having that dream trip, riding off into the sunset… See that teacher coming into your life, or your soul mate. Really feel how wonderful that will be, to love and to use your gifts and to live your purpose.  An amazing and satisfying and fulfilling life.

Know that daydreaming and visualisation is a proven manifestation tool.  Indulge often!

Image from bridget247.blogspot.com