Relationship Update

Don’t call me the boy/girl who cried wolf but I just wanted to tell you that my boyfriend is going to nursery school!

On another note, just as I posted my Miss Independent post, The Cut published a wonderful piece called 25 Famous Women on Being Alone. You can check out the full article HERE or just read my favourites below:

(Illustrations by Mitsuie Yusaku)

People sometimes seem surprised when I say this, because I’m a pretty friendly person. This is one of the greatest misconceptions about introversion. We are not anti-social; we’re differently social. I can’t live without my family and close friends, but I also crave solitude. I feel incredibly lucky that my work as a writer affords me hours a day alone with my laptop. I also have a lot of other introvert characteristics, like thinking before I speak, disliking conflict, and concentrating easily … introversion is my greatest strength. I have such a strong inner life that I’m never bored and only occasionally lonely. No matter what mayhem is happening around me, I know I can always turn inward. In our culture, snails are not considered valiant animals — we are constantly exhorting people to ‘come out of their shells’ — but there’s a lot to be said for taking your home with you wherever you go. (Susan Cain)
hp
I think alone time is good to know how to be alone with your own thoughts. I think it just helps you kind of be a better, more grounded person … and also I feel like it builds a sense of self confidence and a sureness that you know that you can venture out into experiences without the crutch of other people. Like, you’re not doing it because you feel lonely or isolated, but because it generates a new kind of experience. (Carrie Brownstein)
hp-3
Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was. (Cheryl Strayed)
hp-5
I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel. (Audrey Hepburn)
hp-6
The precious part of my day is when I’m alone. When everybody goes home and (son) Sean’s asleep and I’m just watching the night lights out of my window or something. I like silence, you see. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that it’s all right to be alone. (Yoko Ono)

Miss Independent

Proof that compliments are so important: when it comes to past compliments, I have IMMACULATE memory. Do you remember Bebo? The social-media site before Facebook and Myspace came to town? Well, I can still clearly remember my first boyfriend posting the lyrics to Ne-yo’s She Got Her Own on his Bebo profile for me. Looking back, I think he only liked that I had a job because it meant he didn’t have to pay for his bubble tea, but regardless of his intentions that gesture stuck with me.

Ten years later, I don’t always enjoy being Miss Independent but when I do, I love celebrating me.
image-83
My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude. (Warsan Shire)
image-85image-86image-89
Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with. (Sex and the City)
image-92image-87
How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself. (Anais Nin)
image-88
Discover why you’re important, then refuse to settle for anyone who doesn’t completely agree. (Fisher Amelie)image-91
When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings. (Elizabeth Gilbert)
image-84
(Shout-out to Haifa, my beautiful 11 year old cousin for letting me read one of her many young-adult novels)
image-90
I am a lover without a lover. I am lovely and lonely and I belong deeply to myself.
(Warsan Shire)

A Gratitude List

…look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love. -Zooey Deschanel

I dedicate this list to you. I’m sorry for the whinging and the grumbles. I really am happy and grateful…it’s just so easy to be open with you.

1.Working limbs to walk, run, cycle and explore.
image2image1image2image1
image
2.Unexpected friends. Like Laura from Belgium who I met through blogging. who came and stayed with me in Japan and who just happens to be blogging about it NOW.

3.My auntie Pouneh – of course for having me here but also for her many entertaining stories, cycling advice and organic salads!
image3
4.Coffee. I mean come on. Ican’teven without it.
image3
5.Art. Art and creative people. Literature, music, Sundance! Thank you for making me feel all sorts of feels.

6.My mama, who keeps messaging me to be careful not to get a cold? And that I’m her little girl and very pretty. Oh my heart. My world. Thank you.
image-83
image
7.Getting paid to travel. Okay so it’s not much (hint hint Savvy Tokyo) but it’s seriously a dream come true. I did it. I blogged for 730 days in a row, annoyed the hell out of you all and eventually landed myself a teeny tiny writing role. Have you read my latest work? You can HERE, HERE and HERE. Cheers and kampai to (fingers-crossed/touch-wood) many more.

You Will Find Your Way It Is In The Same Place As Your Love.

I’ve been absolutely terrified of every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do. (Georgia O’keeffe)
image1
image-96
image2
image-94
If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit. (Banksy)
image-97
imageimage1imageNothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. (Marie Curie)
image3
image2
image3image4Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all – look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love. (Zooey Deschanel)

From Hola to Bonjour

Guys, I’m so confused. One day I’m saying gracias to the supermarket clerk, the next day, arigato. Note to self: merci merci merci pardon.

Today I biked to the local market. I said “bonjour” to an elderly passerby. He said: “bonjour mademoiselle,”(just like the movies) and I died.
image-98image-99
image-102image-101image-104image-103
The French market in Thonon reminded me very much of the Riccarton Bush market back home (NZ). Unlike the markets in Spain where the fresh produce were displayed organically in fresh piles, the food here were set out decoratively in nice cartons, on pretty table cloths and alongside authentic ornaments.
image
He said: “Hey lady try this olive pesto. It’s very fresh.” Then: “but not as fresh as you!” ???
image1image
image
image2
Delicious oily beignets mmm!
image1image2
image2image3image4
image-105
Okay, NOW I’m French.
image-106
This picture is for Teck Loh, Andy Banks and my father <3
image-108
Herbs for my mama <3
image-109
image-111
image-110
And last but not least, flowers for my sister.
image-100
Remnants of a French breakfast :O

Every Supermarket Should Look Like This

In the words of my auntie Pouneh: “every supermarket should look like this.” I’m well aware of how expensive these stores can be but I still love scanning their isles and oohing and aaahing over everything. Here’s an inside look at a European bio organic supermarket:
image1image3
No chemicals! No spray!image7image6image1image4image2imageimage6
Passionfruit, pomegranate and prickly pear – that children, is A L L I T E R A T I O N.
image5
Better be orgasmic for those prices!image5
No more bent-back-over-the-stove-top-homemade-muesli-labouring for me!  image4image3image2
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. (Hippocrates)

This Is What It Means To Be Happy

I know I say this of every place, but Anthy-sur-Leman is truly something else.
image-83
image-93
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
(Mary Oliver)
image-86
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. (Anne Frank)
image-91
image-88
…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough (Vincent Van Gogh)
image-84
A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness. (Leo Tolstoy)
image-92
image-85
I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” (Sylvia Plath)
image-90

Why Is Patience So Important?

Because it makes us pay attention.― Paulo Coelho

I have always struggled with patience. I blame my mother (hehe) because she is very similar. Turns out all I had to do for my toilet-water-wet phone to recover was to wait. I am sorry for the melodramatics. Here are the last photos from Santiago, Spain:
image2
Bucket feng shui. image3image4
(See last post and imagine)
image6
Ecological milk. image5image1
Poor Xoel (Maria and Danny’s son). This man invited me to join him and I passed on the burden to Xoel (hehe).image
Pilgrim’s shoe.
image
The infamous sandals are back!
image1
R O M A N C Eimage4
What an absolutely stunning little city. I can’t wait to return. Santiago <3
image5image6image3
Thinspiration.
image2
image2
Not exactly sure what is happening here…but Santiago sure does inspire.
image
Man and friend.
image1

The Idea of Him

They say not to confuse love with the ‘idea of love’. But the same people also say that if you don’t imagine, nothing ever happens at all. So I sit here in 12D sandwiched between a snoring ogre and an overweight grandfather whose beer belly is so big that it makes me unbutton my own trousers. I sit here and I bathe in the idea of you. Tall, kind and handsome. I have never cared for colour. You can be blue black or orange but you must be a sweet talker. Comforting. Intelligent. Creative and patient, with me, with us but also with yourself.

They say not to fall in love with that which someone can offer. YOU must be whole first. Well ain’t that utter horse shit? Show me someone who isn’t broken. Who isn’t keeping a secret. Anxious. Vulnerable. Trying. Scared. I sit here and I bathe in the idea of you. The you who holds me while I cry over a broken dish. A rude waiter. Rain.

They say in love to stay independent. To not lose yourself. I say both Shakespeare and Mr. Fitzgerald would scoff at that. I sit here and I bathe in the idea of completely losing ourselves in each other. Abandoning the old and morphing into the new – a sort of superhuman, if you will. Where listening to you talk gadgets becomes my favourite habit and where my kale smoothie trespasses leaping to the very top of your morning checklist and you gladly welcome it. Where your warmth and hunger become my daily concerns. And my happiness your life’s mission.

The plane begins its ascend. The ogre roars from his nostrils and the grandfather shuffles his stomach like a pregnant woman finding a comfortable position, and I progress my float to a steady swim.

We are in Spain. In a narrow alleyway. Drinking juice and sharing tapas. “And,” you say in excitement, “the iPhone 7 plus is water resistant!”

So What Was Galicia Really Like?

During my short time In Galicia, I posted a lot of photos and vague descriptions but I didn’t really give you the low down. So. Here’s a list:

Loud 
Galician people speak very loudly. Or maybe, they are just loud in comparison to the Japanese. More often, I’d mistake a casual conversation for heated arguing. Actually, during my first three days, I developed a horrible migraine. At first, I put it down to jet lag or a change in environment but then I realised the real culprit. My ears were buzzing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the Galician are hooligans. Rather, that they speak with much heart and emotion and sometimes our hearts are yellers.
image7
Meaty
Of course due to their location, the Galician people consume a lot of seafood. But they also consume A LOT of meat. Chorizo, cured ham, steak, you name it. Luckily for me, the exception were Jose’s family. Everyday we ate fresh and organic fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds.
image
image7
Tortilla and empanada mad
I guess these are the two most popular dishes here. A Spanish tortilla (not to be confused with the Mexican wrap) is like a potato omelette. It’s oily, carby and delicious. Empanadas are a pie pastry like dish usually filled with tuna, red pepper and onion but there are many variations. Anyways, these dishes are honestly everywhere. And people are always eating them.
image1image
image1image[8]
Tomato overload
There’s a lot of tomatoes here. That’s basically it. And apparently, a lot gets wasted every year because if it was all put out into the market, the prices would drop to mere cents and the government wouldn’t be making any money off of them. So sad. What is this world we live in? (I know this is not confined to Spain and that food is a business everywhere).
image4image1
imageimage1
Long days
I think I already mentioned this. Apparently this is very Spanish. Breakfast around 9. Lunch around 3/4 and dinner around 10. Can you believe it? No wonder I’ve been having migraines. One day, Jose called to book a table at a local restaurant for 9pm and was warned to leave by 11pm as that’s when another couple had booked it! Is that insane or insane?
image-79
image
Food rules all
Obvious by now. Before coming here, Jose had warned me that the Galicians live and breathe food. I hadn’t really understood this until now. You know the old adage; you eat to live not live to eat? Well here it’s the other way around. Perhaps the previous point on long days has something to do with this but also because the Spanish are such fantastic cooks! And, they have great produce: olive oil, seafood, tomatoes, legumes, to name a few. So food rules all.
image5
image[5]
Unpredictable
Mainly in two ways. One, with weather. Much like NZ, weather here is always changing. Four seasons in one day type of thing. Two, with plans. Again, at the opposite end of the spectrum to the Japanese, the Galician people hardly ever plan anything. This is because plans are always changing. You may aim to do one thing and end up doing the complete opposite. For instance, one day we planned to sightsee a historical town nearby but ended up going to a friends’ place after lunch and spending the entire evening swimming in her pool, listening to Galician bagpipes and eating peaches.
image5image1
1 2 3 ziiiiip.
I played this “game” with the children. Unfortunately it didn’t work. Anyways, following up from the previous point, Galicians never give a direct answer.

How long does it take from here to…? Not far. 
Where does she live? Near.
Are we going to …. today? If you want?
Shall we go for a short walk while the empanada cooks? Shall we? 

These answers are often accompanied with a shrug. You don’t believe how much this annoyed me. In Japan, there is a direct answer for everything. When I mentioned my frustration to Jose, he burst out laughing. You know Anisa, he said: “in Galicia we have a saying that if you meet a Galician in the middle of a staircase and ask them if they’re going up or down they’ll say: do you want me to come up with you?”
image2Sugar overload
I don’t like writing this. I don’t want to be too judgemental. And maybe this is a problem everywhere but kids here consume A LOT of sugar and other junk foods. Actually, there are entire stores dedicated to Junk food. Seriously, all they sell are ice-cream, chocolate, candy, cookies and Cheetos. I am surprised the kids don’t have black teeth like my Japanese pre-school students. One day we went out for tapas and a huge bowl of candy was placed in the middle of the children’s table. Some of them ate more than 10! I couldn’t believe it. I hope I will be better able to control my future children’s sugar intake. Also Cheetos. Cheetos are everywhere! Even inside 1 year olds! :O
image[1]The good life.
Last but not least, Galician really know how to live. Everyone seems to be on holiday here. They are always eating tapas, relaxing on their boats, drinking at local cafes and talking with their family, neighbours, friends.
image
imageimage1
Goodbye rivers, goodbye springs
Goodbye, rivers, goodbye, springs,
Goodbye, trickling streams;
Goodbye, all I see before me:
Who knows when we’ll meet again?

Oh my home, my homeland,
Soil where I was raised,
Little garden that I cherish,
Fig trees I grew from seed.

Meadows, rivers, woodlands,
Pine groves bent by wind,
All the chirping little songbirds,
Home I cherish without end.

Mill nestled between the chestnuts,
Nights lit brightly by the moon,
Tremor of the little bells,
My parish chapel’s tune.

Blackberries from the wild vines
I picked to give my love,
Narrow trails between the corn-rows,
Goodbye, forever goodbye!
Goodbye, glory! Goodbye, gladness!

I leave the house where I was born,
Leave my village so familiar
For a world I’ve never seen.
I’m leaving friends for strangers,
Leaving prairies for the sea,
Leaving all that I love dearly…

Oh, if I didn’t have to leave!…
(part of a poem by Rosalia de Castero)