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Realisations, part 3

Realisation #3: I need greenery in my life. I am so grateful that we’re still allowed to go outside to exercise. Even more grateful that I live a 5 minute walk away from a park with walk/bike paths that pass through the edge of a river and continue to longer walks to neighbouring suburbs.

Every day for the past few weeks, we’ve been waking up at 6 AM or going right before the sun sets to go for walks around the park. I don’t mind waking up early – there’s less people out and about and it’s a great setup for the rest of the day. We cap off the walks with a visit to one of our local cafes where we/S grabs a coffee. A small way to support local businesses – on a “normal” weekend they’d be our usual brunch spots, but given the state of things a takeaway coffee is all we get.

Pre-coronavirus I would still go to the park, but admittedly I’ve been to it more times the past few weeks than I have in the past year! It was so easy to take it for granted – we were out and about a lot more, and if we wanted a walk we’d typically go to one of the national parks.

However with the lockdown, I’ve become even more grateful that I live where I live, and that I live near a park with a decent amount of greenery and noisy birds. I think, no matter where I end up in the future, I’ll always want to live near a park.

It’s also been a great opportunity for observations:

  • Two hunting dogs pointing solemnly at a round galah
  • A fat pug (called “Pudge”) trying so hard to keep up with his owner along the walking paths 😛
  • A small brown curly-haired dog running with the biggest smile on his face, his leash attached to his owner’s bike
  • A small crab ten metres away from the nearest source of water
  • A juicy-looking choko hanging over the fence.

Yes I’m aware most of the things I pointed about above relate to dogs! Haha!

I don’t know if it’s related to the lockdown, I’ve been spending more time indoors or I’ve just been more observant about what’s happening outdoors, but there seems to be more birds in the neighborhood lately. One day there were around 10 green lorikeets in the next building, and in today’s walk we spotted at least 5 cockatoos on someone’s balcony. (S did try to entice some birds with the muesli bits at the bottom of the bag but sadly there were no takers.)

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Realisations, part 2

Realisation #2: I’m reconsidering the things I “need”. For example, my Fitbit conked out on me the other week. The oldme would’ve gotten a new one pronto. Now… I just don’t have one. I miss the sleep tracking, but do I really need to find out how I slept through an app? Maybe not.

Overall, instead of rushing out to buy things without a second thought… I’m taking a step back and asking if I truly need those things, or maybe I could try doing without for a little bit first to verify if I really do need them in my life.

Related: Maximising things. I’ve been digging deep into my cupboards and storage to see if there are things that I could use or repurpose.

For example, a few months ago, I started focusing on skincare. I’m running out of some things now, but I’m no longer rushing to buy more. Instead, I’m making do with what I already have, such as opened bottles of things that I tried once or twice but didn’t really wow me. Coconut oil instead of body moisturiser. Samples. Eventually, I’ll truly run out and go back to buying things, but for now I’m planning to use up what I’ve got first.

All the ingredients for things I intended to make months ago are finally being incorporated into existing dishes, haha!

To some extent I’ve already done this (making dishes out of whatever’s in the pantry), but now it’s no longer as driven by laziness or lack of planning as it is by making the most of what I have.

That’s why I don’t really have standard recipes for my baked goods. Thank goodness it’s easy to find recipes with substituted ingredients on Google nowadays.

On a related note, yesterday’s cookies used coconut oil and had oats in it, owing to me not having unsalted butter (but plenty of coconut oil) and oats approaching their “best before” date. And I didn’t have dark chocolate chips but the milk chocolate chips were an easy swap. The cookies turned out pretty well, I’m proud to say: coconut oil oatmeal dark chocolate chip cookies.

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Realisations with social distancing, part 1

New South Wales is in semi-lockdown mode so I’ve had plenty of free time lately.

By “semi-lockdown”, I mean we’ve been advised to stay home and practice social distancing, but there is still a lot of freedom in it. For example, people can still go to work if they’re an essential worker or if their work cannot be done from home (this doesn’t apply to me, I’ve been working from home for the past few weeks). We’re also allowed to go to the supermarket, seek medical help and exercise. We’re not allowed to gather in groups more than two, which is okay by us since we’ve been keeping to ourselves anyway.

So as I said, I’ve had plenty of time to think lately…

Realisation #1: It is really hard to do a meal plan and single grocery shop for an entire week. I usually have a few dinners or lunches out with friends/S during the week. Because I’d have some great meals, I’d be happy for mediocre, “good ’nuff” food for my remaining meals (e.g. roasted chickpeas – and I mean just roasted chickpeas).

However, given the state of things recently, we’ve been making all our meals. The mediocre meals have a tendency to overwhelm everything else if there’s nothing half-decent to alternate them with, so we’ve had to think about what we’re going to be eating. Especially because we don’t want to make multiple trips to the supermarkets if there’s an ingredient we’ve forgotten or if we’re suddenly craving for something else.

It’s hard. But we’ve also learned to be less wasteful of the ingredients we buy and how to make meals from the same kinds of ingredients. (Also, when I say “we”, I really just mean S, who does most of the cooking haha.*) But this is good practice. We’d been intending to do more meal planning and now we’re forced to do it and put it in practice.

* I did make two things last week. They were pretty good, so they’ll likely go into regular rotation.

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One week later

I cannot believe how much things have changed the past week or so. Australia has doubled down on its coronavirus measures now that the number of confirmed cases has exponentially increased.

I am grateful every day that S & I have jobs, food in the pantry and toilet paper, but sometimes I can’t help but worry, what if things in Australia take a turn for the worse. The unfolding situation has already affected people I know… I’ve had friends lose regular gigs, be placed on unpaid leave by their employers or lose their jobs entirely only to find it impossible to find new roles since most companies are on a hiring freeze.

I am now working from home. I’m fine with it, to be honest, and I’m glad my employer has been proactive. In addition to not being exposed on public transport, I’ll end up saving ~$45 a week on transportation costs and two hours of worth of travel time.

Crazy times, but I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I hope it all blows over as soon as it can possibly blow over.

One thing I need to be mindful of is my mental well-being. With everything that’s been going on lately — the uptick in cases in Australia, the new measures put in place, the stories from places like Italy — I’ve been glued to watching and reading news. While it’s good to be informed, I feel like the constant stream of updates has made me feel more panicked than I should be.

Be alert, be prepared, and not scared or panicked, should be my mantra. I need to make a conscious effort not to get caught up in what’s happening. I’m lucky that I am still employed and can stay at home — I need to make sure that I’m as calm and productive as I can possibly be. I’ve got books, I’ve got projects, I’ve got my piano. I can do this.