I like August. The promise of Spring hovers in the air and shards of sunlight begin to pierce through with welcome warmth. My birthday coincides with the first day of the month and it always leads to some intense introspection about how life is tracking and whether I’m moving forward at an appropriate pace.
My focus for August was ‘playing’ and I came to some fascinating realisations about how life is better for everyone when I’m flourishing – being inspired by life, following my interests and talking animatedly with the kids about these things. As a result, we ‘travelled’ to Germany and then Spain through Around the World Stories and ate copious amounts of tapas for an entire fortnight.
After a sickness-filled few months everyone in the family finally got their health back and we were able to avoid multiple trips to the doctors (yay!).
What I’m Reading
Emotional Agility (Dr Susan David)
When I listened to Dr David’s interview with Rob Bell I was struck by how passionate she was about the subject of showing up to our emotions and using them to reveal to us our values. David uses her background as a psychologist as well as her own personal grief from losing her father at a young age to demonstrate how to move through life without becoming mired in our emotions or completely ignoring them. Definitely worth the read (though it is quite a long one) as there are lots of takeaways and summaries of interesting studies and research into emotions.
The Trespasser (Tana French)
This author has a real gift for creating worlds and a sense of place, despite the fact that I felt like I almost needed a translator for a lot of the Irish slang that she incorporated into the novel! Antoinette Conway – the book’s main character – is a gritty, determined and no-nonsense Detective and the present-tense exploration of the case of Aislinn Murray is very well done. You feel as if you are right there with her, drawing connections and feeling preyed on by her own squad. I really appreciated the focus on stories and how we weave the ones we want to believe. French is very good at weaving an interesting story and taking you down paths before jumping over to another. I haven’t read these books in order (having only read The Likeness up until now) but I intend to go and find the other novels in the series now. My only criticism is that the book had a very grey, paranoid and alone feeling to it, and the ending (while unpredictable) was perhaps not as satisfying as I had hoped.
The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) (Brandon Sanderson)
Confession: this is the third time I am reading this book, and the series would have to be one of my all time favourites. Brandon Sanderson is an incredibly gifted author and creates cohesive fantasy worlds unlike any I have ever seen before. He is about to release the third book in The Stormlight Archive so Dave and I plan to revisit the first books before we delve into the latest one. There are moments of incredible despair, triumph, likeable characters, undiscovered powers that present themselves at crucial moments and a universe that shimmers with mystery and intrigue. I wholeheartedly recommend the series… if you can handle the long waiting periods for each book!
Billions (Season 2)
I’m still enjoying this show though it did seem to have a bit of a slow start. The introduction of a number of new characters is welcome and adds another layer to the story. The rivalry between Chuck Rhoades and Bobby Axelrod is still rippling, though I find Axelrod a bit less of a sympathetic character this season. I love pretty much every scene with Wendy Rhoades – her insights and nuanced dialogue are interesting and compelling. We haven’t completely finished the season yet, but it is still hooking us in.
What I’m Listening To
Around the World Stories
I stumbled across this incredible series through The Simple Show interview with Tania Landin last month and promptly requested a package for my birthday. The Landin family travels throughout Europe composing and recording half hour educational audio stories based in particular countries. There is art and history woven throughout, lots of references to the local cuisine within adventurous fictional stories that kids of all ages can relate to. So far we have delved deeply into Germany and Spain and tried out a few of the recipes that come along with the package as well. So worth the money!
I’m still loving this podcast with Ian Cron, I really can’t get enough of the Enneagram. Every time I listen to an episode I come away with different insights in the nine types and feel as if I understand those around me a little better. This month I listened to the episodes with Lee C. Camp (Type 1), Melissa Greene (Type 8), and the Type 9 panel – ‘Give Peace(makers) a Chance’. The interview with Jeff Goins (Type 3) has to be my favourite of the Achiever/Performer so far, giving such poignant insights into the mind of a Type 3.
On the way to The Independent for my birthday dinner, Dave and I were completely inspired when we stumbled across Jim Kwik’s conversation with Srini Pillay of Unmistakable Creative. Kwik has a fascinating story involving a significant brain injury and a powerful method of educating adults in how to read faster, have a better memory, sleep more efficiently and study with more effectiveness. I listened to the bite-sized episodes on how to ‘Learn Anything Faster’, ‘How to Sleep (Even) Smarter’ and ‘How to End Negative Self-Talk’.
Still loving this podcast and the insights that are woven throughout in relation to doing life with creativity and focus. I listened to the podcasts with Albert Flynn DeSilver ‘Writing as a Path to Healing’, James Clear ‘Change Your Identity to Change Your Habits’, Jim Kwik ‘Turning on Your Superhero Brain’, Sarah Peck ‘Building Systems to Manage Your Life’, Jenny Fenig ‘Finding Your Soul’s Calling’ and Taylor Conroy ‘The Profound Power of Philanthropy’.
The Simple Show
Loving the focus on Essentialism this month with how to say ‘No’ to things that don’t matter so much so that we can say ‘Yes’ to the things we truly value. I listened to ‘What (& How) to Watch Stuff’, ‘No & Yes’, ‘When to Quit’ and ‘Eating Locally’.
I returned to On Being with Krista Tippett for the episode with Mary Catherine Bateson and found her approach to ‘Composing a Life’ to be completely fascinating. Still such a good podcast.
What I’m Cooking
It has been a long time since I have really had the mental and emotional energy to find joy in cooking and creating flavours, but finally I feel as if I’m getting back there. I have spoken before about menu planning in cuisines – how efficient it is, how you can get ahead with by preparing components of coming meals and that you don’t waste ingredients… not to mention it provides an incredible opportunity to delve into a cuisine and discover new recipes. You can read about our ‘journeys’ to India and Spain and see some of what we have been making here.
We have entered the stage of attitude with a capital ‘A’. Is there some kind of name that encapsulates what a six year old crossed with a teenager is like because I feel like we have one. Not all the time, of course, there are lots of moments when Eli is being a great leader – coming up with games for his siblings and answering questions with wisdom beyond his years. Reading is still a huge interest for him, particularly with the online program that he has joined which inspires him to finish books quickly in order to do the quiz. It was nice to get to come along to celebrate 100 days of school with Eli and see him in the classroom environment.
We have a date for surgery! Next month Hudson is going to have his adenoids and tonsils removed and have grommets inserted to help him hear better. We had a special date at the hospital this month to have his hips checked, but unfortunately didn’t get the all clear yet. We did have a nice time together despite the news though. It was exciting to see the new Children’s Hospital facilities. Hudson loved choosing the wall projection theme for his x-ray. I’ve started taking him with me more regularly on the fortnightly grocery shop because he is actually super helpful in the process. Hudson went to his first Kinder friend’s party at Inflatable World and he was positively bursting with excitement. The best bit was when he came home and began handing out all the lollies in his lolly bag to the whole family. Apparently he had planned exactly who should get what all the way home.
Apart from the semi-frequent tantrums over seemingly insignificant things, this is a pretty amazing age. Watching Ivy delve deeply into imaginative worlds populated by cars, dolls, barbies and lego characters is endlessly fascinating. She loves playing games with her big brothers and often ends up being the ‘monster’ and laughing hysterically when they run away screaming. Playdough is a current obsession and she is always making creations for us to mime eating and pretending to be overwhelmed by the amazing flavours. And if accessorising was a fine art, she would be a master of it. The rules seem to be ‘why have one when you can have three?’
Teething has come to our household and introduced bouts of misery (and excessive drooling) to our usually happy and chilled boy. Otherwise, he is still magnanimously tolerating the chaotic embraces and entertainment offered by his older siblings. One of my favourite parts of the day is listening to him chat away to himself as he falls to sleep every night after the dream feed. Harvey rolled over for the first time this month and it was funny to see his look of confusion when he suddenly found himself on his tummy. I’m really savouring the baby phase this time, after previously mostly just tolerating it. Harvey had his first taste of baby food this month too. He didn’t hate it.
Birthdays bring with them extraordinary outings like our trip to A Touch of Dutch cafe and The Independent in Gembrook. The latter was completely inspiring and I’ve tried to recreate two of the entrees at home now.
We celebrated birthdays galore on my side and Dave’s:
Sampled the tastes of Winter at our latest Cocktail Party:
Visited the Hale Farm and enjoyed a sumptuous meal with great friends (by the way if you live in Victoria and you are interested in Beekeeping, beeswax wraps, raw honey, homemade jam, lip balm or beeswax candles, Holly is your woman! Check out her page here).
As for the rest of the month we enjoyed crazy hour dinners, hang outs with friends, a trip to IKEA and lots of playground outings.
Spring is cautiously peeking in and I can’t wait for the days to become longer, the weather to become more inviting and the garden to start looking less like a jungle and more like a thriving world of intentional greenery. I guess I might have to actually do something to make that last one come about. Bring on September!