Monthly Archives: February 2015

It’s just a short trip although day I was pretty intense and I found myself for want of a bed by the stroke of midnight. I am staying at the Novotel, which is central – but then everything is central in Monaco. As I have an early breakfast meeting I shall have to cut this one short. Wish you all a great Friday and weekend from a spring warm Monte Carlo.

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The weather is glorious…

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..and a room with a view…

IMG_4232informal meetings at Nobu

It’s confirmed! Tomorrow I’m heading for Nice and Monaco until Friday evening (wouldn’t have minded a long weekend there, as it was a few years ago since last). It’s not overwhelmingly warm (15 degrees tomorrow and thus marginally better than Izmir). But how can one say no to la mediterranee? Despite the shortness of the trip, it will be good to be back!

In fact as it stands I have a trip booked to Paris middle of next month and then there is always Izmir…

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It’s pitch black, not a sound is stirring the room, not the slightest breeze flirting with the curtain. No all is still, but for I. I sit up, not confused and disoriented – because I know exactly where I am – In bed, it’s 6.15 and time to start the day with brushing my teeth, put on my sports gear, turn on the heating and wake the fireplace. Then meditate. But as I go to the bathroom to get ready, something feels odd, out of kilter. I return to the bedroom and look at my phone. It’s only then I realize it’s not even past 2 am. I have only slept for a couple of hours yet I feel strangely invigorated, ready to take on the day.

Perhaps I should have taken the opportunity to start my day at such an early hour, but I go back to bed and must have fallen asleep within minutes. When my alarm clock finally rings at 6.15 the feeling has not changed, so I proceed with doing exactly what I described before. A quarter of an hour later I am at the fireplace….meditating. The heat is warming my cold face, and my stiff body which is conveniently wrapped up in a woolen blanket. My meditation takes the usual 15 minutes. I don’t have a timer…it just takes as long that it has to and I’ll adjust my sports session if need requires. So far that need has never occurred.

I watch Alain de Botton’s serie on the Guide to Happiness. Sebastian wakes up sometime during this, and I shout from downstairs to upstairs that he should check my latest lego creation I made for him last night. When I’m done, I make a breakfast, for hubby and child – and my first cup of tea.

Fast forward an hour later and I’m enjoying my breakfast at the fireplace – cottage cheese, strawberries, nuts and a whisk of cream with cinnamon. Now it’s time for my first call…the day has started…

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a nourishing breakfast to kick off the day

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My view this morning…no leaves on the trees yet but they will come soon I hope

The weather is not so good, but sunshine is certainly coming from the heart here (so yes, my morning routine seems to be paying off!). In a moment I have a call and then off to the office. What are your plans? Sx

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#OOTD – cute FracasNoir jacket – get it at our SALE! Tank tops – American Vinatge,

Butterfly belt – Paul & Joe, Jeans – Hugo Boss

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My spartan but vitamin packed breakfast – 3 mandarines & mango chai

I keep coming back to this topic time and again as I literally consume documentaries and podcasts. In the morning I start off with something usually more intellectually inclined. My daily dose of documentaries begins whilst on the cross trainer, often being of the philosophical kind. I usually manage to consume a whole episode as my work out last about 45 minutes. Later I move the laptop to the bathroom (dangerously close to the water tap I admit), where I put on a TedX talk or something that I need to understand for work, such as how the Bitcoin block chain works…as my morning routine lasts about 30 minutes this is usually perfect for these type of videos. Later in the evening, whilst cooking and in need of mental unwind I move on to another favourite topic – crime. After dinner I read a book for Sebastian and consume typically half a historical documentary before the little man falls asleep.

Lately we are into the Plantagenet and Tudor dynasties, with Sebastian showing a certain fascination for Richard III. A couple of hours later after finishing work, I end my day with another crime episode, this time often about a serial or spree killer of some sort. Of course good old Jack the Ripper is still a fascinating subject, but currently my compulsion is inclined towards obscure US psychopaths.

Weekends are often the only time of the week I get to watch good old TV. But guess what…instead of watching a film, I turn to a Netflix documentary. These range from political scandals to war torn countries to BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs.

It’s a strange mix I grant you that, but my interests are far and wide and thus nothing is too bizarre or outlandish to pique my interest.

So here is a selection of some of my latest finds…

It’s now almost 3 weeks into my vegetarian journey. I haven’t once felt the need to tuck into a steak (I used to be a big meat eater – always preferring my steaks rare). But gone are those days and there is a surprisingly large range of healthy and tasty vegetarian meals – to my pleasant discovery. I also noticed I actually eat less, and I’m now nearing what used to be my standard weight (50 kg’s – I’m only 1.63!).

Apart from this change (and cutting out the alcohol, sugar and coffee) I started meditating. Saturday morning was the first day, and I religiously set my alarm to 7.45 this weekend so as not to waste my mornings. Today, I rose at 6.15 am, and although it took a few minutes to scramble myself together, I was down by the fireplace by 6.30 practicing my stoic exercises. This followed by my normal cross trainer routine and further stoic podcasts.

Well it is still early days, but so far so good. I suppose it does give a peace of mind where before my mind would have been running loops, and starts the day off in a positive flow. The last exercise – premeditatio malorum – or negative visualization – may seem contradictory to actually feeling content and happy, but it seems to be working.

So Happy Monday everyone and hopefully a fun, positive and exciting week awaits you all!

Sx

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Pumpkin and goat cheese sallad – at Blender of course

 

Sometimes the little egoistic child in me comes out to play. The one that feels like the world is coming down with the weight on her shoulders. The one that yes wants to be loved – but so entirely different than what she is accustomed to. I find her infantile and naive…if not plain stupid. Expecting things when there is nothing to expect. Wanting to tell her story when it’s far more appropriate and clever to shut up. Yes she is a narcissistic little monster, who if it wasn’t for my self-control, I would rather see smothered than typing these words. Yet here she is, making herself known to the world. Screaming me, me, me whilst listening to bombastic music of Penny Dreadful.

The question is how does one kill one’s ego?

I didn’t get to do quite as much work as I intended too, instead I was consumed with Lego building for Sebastian, cooking and catching up with friends. I have to make a better effort tomorrow as I have quite a few things that I want to clear before Monday. Today I attempted a new recipe for a pumpkin soup. It turned out really good and lasted for both lunch and dinner. It’s very easy to make, filling, low in calories and of course….vegetarian :).

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 onions
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
800 g of pumpkin
100 ml cooking cream
700 ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper

Method:
1. Peal, slice and dice all vegetables. Add them all (except for the pumpkin) in a preheated large cause pan, and stir them occasionally until they turn soft (but no colour).

2. After about 4-5 min add the diced pumpkin (no seeds), and cook for about 10 minutes until they start turning mushy and golden.

3. Add vegetable stock and bring it to boil, then let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the cream and bring to boil once more whilst stirring. Add salt and pepper.

4. Take it off the stove when vegetables are thoroughly cooked. Use a blender, alternatively use a potato masher until it reaches a pureed consistency.

Serve with creme fraiche, croutons and pumpkin seeds as you see fit.

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to start with…

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slice and dice the vegetables

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bring the soup to boil

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Ready meal with a bit of creme fraiche for garnish and taste

As a result of my quest for peace – and here I’m talking about constant, inner peace – an even mind so to speak, or equanimity, I have made quite some changes to my life. I have described them here before but I shall repeat for those who are perhaps reading this blog for the first time.

After a long journey of reading, contemplating, and practicing that of what I read (the Art of War, The 48 laws of Power, buddhistic passages, stoic literature to name a few), my life took an even more “radical turn” when I decided to live more clean and ethical. I have since cut out alcohol, coffee, meat and as much as I can, sugar. What is left is my ill habit of taking sleeping pills and that I will work on to to eradicate once and for all too.

Further, I changed my routines, waking up earlier and earlier and as a result going to bed no later than 10.30 pm. Right now I am usually up by 6.30 am, although I am going to push this to 6 am for weekdays and 7.45 for weekends.

My idea is to start off the day the with stoic meditation followed by a 40 min work out whilst listening to different podcasts on philosophy. It takes time and commitment and perhaps more so the 4 cardinal virtues of stoicism: courage, equanimity, self-control and wisdom.

And so I started today, with my stoic meditation. I turned on the fire, wrapped a blanket around myself as a chilly draft swept past me from the aging windows. I made myself a cup of tea and I began.

At first I went though my usual morning exercise, the morning ritual of Marcus Aurelius

“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man’s two hands, feet or eyelids, or the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature’s law – and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction.”

Then I began thinking of the challenges I may have to face during the day and which of the 4 cardinal virtues (once again, courage, equanimity, self-control and wisdom) I’d be called to employ.

After this I engaged in an exercise called Hierocles Circles, which is a stoic form of cosmopolitanism, through the use of concentric circles. Hierocles describes individuals as consisting of a series of circles: the first circle is the human mind, next comes the immediate family, followed by the extended family, and then the local community. Next comes the community of neighbouring towns, followed by your country, and finally the entire human race. Our task, according to Hierocles was to draw the circles in towards the centre, transferring people from the outer circles to the inner circles, making all human beings part of our concern.

Then I passed to “premeditatio malorum”, a technique of contemplating potential misfortunes in advance. I imagined minor and major “catastrophes” (one being going without sleep for days, should I choose to stop taking sleeping pills and go cold turkey). I focused on that fundamentally it would not change myself and my self-worth (although cosmically I don’t prescribe to the idea I would hold any intrinsic value).

After this exercise, which lasted a good half an hour as I am a novice to the game, I read the writings of Epictetus.

I am sure, as with everything, it will take time, to apply and re-apply and get back on it, if or when I fall off the bandwagon (the emphasis being on when here).

But for now, I am happy and pleased I have taken yet another step towards total freedom of disturbance.

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Stoic meditation by the fireplace