A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. ~Oscar Wilde

Archive for the ‘healthy moments’ Category

Read the book! Facepaint

lisa-eldridge-facepaint-photoSome books can be downloaded onto an electronic device. Some books cannot. The idea of reading an electronic version of this book scares me. I have never read an ebook. Yet, I am sure this book would lose half its magic if you could not hold it in your hand, move it around in your hand, watching the light catch the shifting mood of the pictures, running your fingers over the textured cover. This book is a visual feast. First and foremost.

Written for makeup lovers, it is a book with so much make up story crammed into its pages, it is sure to delight those who want to learn a little bit more about this fascinating art and industry.

It is pleasing that the focus remained on story telling, independent of any kind of brand focus, or subtle advertising. Lisa Eldridge has enough clout in the the makeup world that if she recommends one product, it will fly off the shelves. She has made no such recommendations, she has not stated a preference for one style of makeup over another. She has also not made any kind of reference to any kind of body image issues except as a historical commentary. No judgement. Whatsoever.

Instead we see a charming discussion of colour utilisation through the ages, the trends, the socio-political ramifications, the anecdotes. Who would have thought that the use of makeup through ages seemed to coincide with women’s rights, and freedom, even if only certain tiers in certain ages? Apparently courtesans and prostitutes not only wore obvious makeup through the ages, but also got accorded more rights than the genteel women. Mo’ makeup, did equate to mo’ fun!


The Eldridge Technique is widely known to be Lisa’s distinctive technique of making complexion appear flawless through makeup, while allowing the inner glow to shine through. I have just discovered another inimitable Eldridge Technique. The book is written in the same soft, often amused, always kind, voice that Lisa uses in her youtube instructional videos. A classic book from a classy lady.

Since this is such a vast subject, and this book had to be sketchy by necessity, I look forward to more books from Lisa.


This is one of the best gifts I have given myself on my birthday. My first book of 2016


Push, Pull, swirl

beautiful_teethI have done a few crazy things in my search for a holistic life, most of which, I am happy to report, have been successful,  While I have not reached out for a wholly alternative, completely (for the lack of a better term) new age-ey kind of lifestyle, I do try to learn and absorb habits that offer a more back to basics, back to nature style of life. I do still turn on the air conditioning, or eat a certain amount of pre processed food. On the whole, though, I have a very eager curiosity for the time tested, folk lore laden rituals and habits that offer safe and effective health and wellness options.

In this quest, I came upon the ancient technique of oil pulling, and perhaps this will finally make me less unhappy that raw neem twigs are not available in Sydney for brushing my teeth. I have used neem while in India, and some find it gross, and it can seem unhygienic to the uninitiated. To me, though, the steady munching of the twigs, the swirling of the strong bitter saliva laden juice, the brushing of the teeth with the chewed out bristles and the eventual spitting out, was a paradoxically enjoyable process. I had loved the fresh feeling that was left behind, and I had felt some sort of connection to this ancient form of cleaning my teeth that has lasted thousands of years.

Hence, when I learnt about oil pulling, part of the same treasure house of wisdom that has brought us neem twigs for dental hygiene, I was excited. Here was something I could do in Australia, and it could become my mouth’s new best friend. So in spite of not being instantly enamoured of the idea of swirling my mouth with a tablespoon of oil, (OIL????) or the idea of swishing for 20 whole minutes, I did some research, and decided to give it a try. I got my cold pressed organic coconut oil, I measured out a tablespoon, and I swished, and spat. I made it to 15 minutes of swishing.  Apparently twenty minutes is my goal. It is hard work, and maybe I pushed a little hard, as my tongue and chin felt sore afterwards. Do tongues have muscles? Next time I will have to be more gentle.

The strong taste of coconut receded quite quickly, and I even felt a few solid pieced of food debris slide out from behind nooks and crannies my toothbrush, and interdental brush had missed, and swirl around. It did leave a gross feeling after I had spat out the debris, and even though I rinsed my mouth out with warm water, it took a fair while before my mouth felt fresh. I did notice, though that, the next meal tasted more flavoursome, so something was working.

Now all I need to do, is pull some oil, once or twice a day, till my next dental visit, and see what the dentist says. I am hoping he will be quite impressed with the improvement he will notice.

Some information to start your own research with:



Here, I must confess, what really convinced me was the information that it has been practised in India since the ancient times. A lot of healthy advice has come from this source, which I tend to believe before I question.

Image credit: http://www.tapitwater.com/blog/2009/04/another-reason-to-drink-tap-water-beautiful-teeth.html

Too Flexible…?

“I am too flexible to do yoga”. I must admit, this comment threw me. I was used to hearing “I am too inflexible to do yoga”, and the answer to that just rolls off the tongue, “The practice of yoga makes one more flexible, one does not have to start by being flexible.” I remember that I had stared at the commenter openmouthed, my mind in a whirl at the unexpected point of view. She is very flexible, and can contort her body into many different positions, and hence believed that doing yoga would not benefit her, as she would not get “more” flexible.

I have often thought about her comment since I heard it, and I can see where she is coming from. I have often noticed a tendency in (some) teachers, (many) students and practitioners to try and push past boundaries and set up a challenge to go beyond current capabilities. I believe there is really no need to “push”, but let us not digress in that direction.

There seems to be a commonly held belief that if one can do a pose/asana without straining, one cannot be getting any benefit from it. If it is not a challenge, then one needs to find a variation that is. This probably stems from the belief of “no pain, no gain” that seems to resonate with everyone. Even I, though I know that even doing a few simple asanas every day, with discipline and accuracy is good enough, tend to book myself into classes that I find “more challenging” because I want to “progress” on my yoga journey.

One does not practice asanas, in order just to become more flexible, or stronger, or even just to improve general or specific health issues, though they are all great results as well. The scientifically measurable health benefits are only part of the story, after all. The experiential results are personal, often indefinable, and always multifaceted. Whether one just automatically does the posture perfectly or trains for a long time to get there, the health benefits derive from the posture itself not the difficulty of attaining it. Neither is it necessary to have to push oneself in anyway in order to derive the benefits of an asana. Very simple postures, like Tadasana, which are relatively easy to “master”, have numerous health benefits, just the same as the harder ( for some) to master: postures like Suptavirasana or Grabhasana. The mental benefits, which are less measurable scientifically are where the story begins to expand, and once what I like to think of as the benefits of the soul, kick in, are when the extended yogi life begins.

One begins to experience the results at the physical level almost immediately one starts learning yoga asanas. (Disclaimer: an once a week practice will take a long time to show persistent or consistent results. A very long time.)Through discipline, dedication and regularity, multiple rewards show up, wherever your body is on the flexibility, or strength scale. So, one is always in a good state to start, or continue yoga.

A Beginner’s Mind

I was first introduced to yoga by someone who taught herself. Let’s call her Sukhi. She had a book, which had a few pictures and many strictures. It seemed to emphasise on how difficult yoga is, more than how to learn it. Something that often comes up in Indian ways of teaching. Sukhi wanted to learn, and even though I was so much younger than her, I was there, and got roped in as her buddy. Her fervour, while it lasted, took us on a journey that led us into dark and deep forests and far away from any sort of union of mind, body and soul. The book did speak a lot about the union, not that I read it. I was ten, my job was to turn up on the mat. Figuratively speaking, that is, as there was no mat, just a concrete floor.

Sukhi expected herself, and me, to be perfect from the word “go”. So there was a lot of muttering to herself, and talking at me. Our postures were not perfect, nor did we have any idea how to get there.

Possibly from some idea of “No Pain No Gain”, we did headstands on the first day.  We did not use any props, the book did not recommend any, either. “Iyengar” was unheard of in that household; during those days he was probably far more revered in the West than in India. My ten-year old, classical dance trained body managed fairly well, but there were many gaps for Sukhi to correct. So reading aloud from the book, and interpreting them in the narrowest most harrowing way possible, she would push and pull me into postures that probably were not right for a pre teen to get into in the first place. She did not know any better. She practised with me, and fared little better than me. So each practice session was one of disappointment more than learning. Very soon, I learnt to hate yoga, and very thankfully wiped it all from my mind when Sukhi went on to other pursuits.

Some dregs of wisdom from those days, and that much thumbed little book, must have lingered, and many, many years later, I began a journey of my own to learn and practise yoga. With guidance from many teachers, and some research of my own, I softly and gently led myself into a wiser practice. It took a long time, but I gradually learnt not to strive for an A+ mark from my teacher. I learnt to ease myself into the postures, and the practice. I fed from the energy of each class, and slowly and surely ceased to compare. I felt immersed in my own journey. So good. So light.

Then today, as I reached for my block, strengthened and stretched my legs, taking care not to hyperextend, and breathed into my posture, the teacher said, “Come to the pose with a beginner’s mind”. My mind blew out so hard that I nearly stumbled.

There I was, turning up regularly on the mat (there is a mat now), with all my baggage. My big belly. My hurt toe. My awareness of how far I think I can stretch, or balance, and acceptance when I need a prop. Each day, I walk a little bit further along my journey, dancing on the reflections of my practice. I feel present and in tune. But, perhaps, in my acceptance of the limitations of my body,  I have closed my self to the endless possibilities I could experience? Should I instead, present myself on the mat, each day, with the intention of a fresh new start? I could just bring my beginner’s mind, and let muscle memory work its magic in the background? Maybe I am still comparing myself, now, to how I fared yesterday?

As I drove back home after the class, an image of a toddler frolicked in front of me. Giggling, swaying straight from a downward facing dog to happy baby, rocking up to tree on tippy toe, falling over and moving on. No wisdom. Just joyous abandonment.

Enhancing the Circle

I have gone on record multiple times saying that I am unable to sit down and meditate properly.  Meaning with quietness, deep breaths, lightness, and emptying of thoughts. I have now incorporated the Bodhi Circle into my life for a few weeks, and the only thing to report about my experience has been my ongoing learning to deal with sitting down. Quietening down. Breathing well.

I am loath to harp on my failures, but I have not had any kind of success in my attempts at meditation so far. On the days when I do get to quiet myself down for more than five minutes, I am happy to say, I have slept better or felt happier. But there have not been many such days.

I know this has been more my special personal journey than any belief that meditation is “not for me”. So in spite of my deleteriously repetitive experience, I am persisting. Now, who was it who had likened me to a bulldog? “She latches on and never lets go!” 

 So when Deepak Chopra announced his latest Meditation Challenge a few weeks back, scheduled to begin today, I jumped on the wagon immediately. I don’t know whether you can still register, but why not give it a try? For the novice, such courses are extremely helpful. And for the experienced, please join in as well, as your energy will help lift the energy around the globe. I am sure, this being the third time that I have registered on a meditation challenge from Deepak, I will experience the luck that is famed to come at the third try, and I encourage everyone to do the same. Perhaps, for others, beginner’s luck will triumph. The previous times I registered, I did not meditate once in the assigned twenty one days. For good measure, I scowled fiercely when anyone tried to remind me of my commitment. Now so now. Today is Day 1. I am proud to report, I have started a new journey. 

Therefore, I feel that I will be able to continue and at the end of the 21 days, I will have developed a habit that will last me a lifetime. Easy, no? Of course, easy!

So, tell me, do YOU meditate? Would you LIKE to meditate? Do you feel meditation is for everybody?


Go with the Flow? Perhaps.

I have just been reading this excerpt from Richard Bach’s “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah”. I get it. Almost. Let me explain that: I understand cerebrally why abandoning oneself to the current is seen to be of high spiritual significance. There always arises the question, though: What is the current? How do general people, leading general lives define the current? How do they identify which is the current  and which is the rock that they are clinging to, to their own detriment? I feel that “go with the flow” as a life style dictum, is over used and under valued. I think people do tend to use the term and interpret it quite loosely when faced with nutrition and food habit choices. Let us take the ubiquitous Potato chip/crisp. It is present at every barbecue, gathering, in many school lunch boxes, and most families would harbour a packet or more in their pantries all year around. I know it is addictive ( though the jury still seems to be out on that).  We all agree that it is, perhaps, not the best choice for our health. Yet we continue to buy it, present it at parties, and eat it. Because that is what we do. It is the flow.  Why are potato chips considered so heinous? Fatty, and Salty? Two anathemas to good health as denounced by nutritionists, dieticians, medical professionals, personal trainers, general public… I agree. Yet, when we go to a party and there is a plate or two of crispy chips lying there, its salt and artificial flavours induced aromas wafting in the air, what do we do, we have “one or two”. We know it is not good for us, but it is okay, because it is “okay in moderation.” It is easier to eat it, than to refuse it. “come on! One chip or two will not do any harm!”  “YOU? You do not need to worry! Look how skinny you are!” “ Just eat, it is a party, after all, just relax!” Yet I feel that the saltiness and fattiness of the chip is only part of the story. We need food for nutrition. Because the right foods in the right amounts keep us healthy. Nutrition is a lot more than the absence of salts and fats. It is not the presence of those substances, which the body can process efficiently in small amounts and in occasional bouts,  (In fact, both salt and fats are, to some extent, necessary) that occurs in what we liberally term “junk food”, but the absence of nutrition that turns such food, into un-food. One day, in a rare burst of spring fever, I was cleaning under the kitchen shelf, and guess what I found? A crisp, crinkle cut, curved and still brightly yellow. I took off my gloves and picked it up in my bare hands, curious and fascinated. As I brought it close to my face/nostrils, I could still smell the chicken flavour on it.  It felt slightly soggy to my touch, but it had not deteriorated in any other way. Packed with salt and infused with heaven knows what preservatives, it was still relatively fresh, and if it had been sitting in an airtight container, I would have been tempted to pop it into my mouth.  As it was, I stared at it for a while in fascination, before I chucked it out and got on with cleaning. Remembering back to the last get together at home, which would have been when I had bought the packet of chips, it was probably six months ago, or so. Now, I ask of you, which vegetable lasts six months without proper food storage, like refrigeration, without becoming mouldy, rotten, runny, smelly, and generally non-vegetable like? It is basically because it was once food, and jam packed with nutrition, that it becomes rotten.  Invisible life forms, floating about recognised that it was food. These same life forms, knew to avoid that crisp piece of un-food. So much more intelligent that humans. So much more self-respecting that they would not settle on this piece of debris, knowing that they would not survive. There are certain categories of processed food, that do only harm, and some that may have some benefits, but can do harm if had in too high amounts, and there are some processed foods that somehow seem to still be nutrition dense.  So when we pop that chip into our mouth, are we really going with the flow, or are we just indulging, and using philosophy as an excuse to hide behind? I submit that the way we use “go with the flow” in our daily lives is the rock., that we must question our need to cling to. Here are some helpful tips to release oneself from the habit of over indulging in … chips.


In case you are wondering what nutrition dense processed food I am familiar with, leave a comment or email me at healthyw8coach@gmail.com

The Locked Trolley

A regular day of shopping. Or so I thought it would be. Get some regular day to day clothes that always seem to reach end of life, get some food and ingredients that always seem to get eaten and head off back home. As I parked the car I realised that I was in the wrong spot for the supermarket, it would be a long trek back pushing a trolley. Shrugging off the thought with another, “It will do me good to push the trolley further” I went off to do my shopping.

140 minutes or so later, there I was pushing the trolley back, laden with groceries and figuring out how best to get to the car. Of course, it involved getting out on to the street and pushing it along the footpath, across a pedestrian
crossing and then across a set of lights further along. All the while within the bounds of the mall, I was just in between two buildings of Westfield, not away, just to a car park within the shopping bounds for this Westfield. Somewhere I have parked often before.

What happened? You guessed it, my trolley decided I was a Bad Woman, trying to run away with it. Down descended the yellow lock and my trolley would not budge. Right as I was going across a driveway from a car park where other, more clever parkers of cars had parked close to Coles.

So here I was, dragging my trolley back to safety and poking underneath it to see why it had locked itself.

A pretty girl asked “Whoa! What happened?”

Giving the trolley a scientific jerk, I said, “the trolley won’t move!”

Her male companion said ”You have to push it.”

!*@!*%! Really?

I decided against answering, and the girl helped me by lifting the trolley and the guy offered helpful hints “it’s locked” “I don’t know” “it’s locked”…

They strolled off after a while.

As I dragged the trolley along to the short distance to the car park, I assumed that something had gone wrong, and that I was unable to unlock it because I am not clever enough. Until another helpful person walked by. “That is locked,” he said. “They do it on purpose. You cannot unlock it, I got caught just like this the other day on the other side.”

“I am just trying to get to the car park!” I wailed. He shrugged and turned away.

Thoroughly disgruntled, I jerked, pushed and pulled the three wheeled and one locked trolley back to close to my car, and then took my things and went home.

Mr Coles, and Mrs. Woolworths, and all the other giant markets who feel the need to protect your trolleys from the big bad gang of trolley thieves please be assured that we are not ALL out to get your trolleys. And we might need to park a little distance away, probably because the car park near the supermarket is full. Probably because we have to go to other shops as well which are a fair distance away from your end of the supermarket. So while you invent ingenuous new ways to stop trolley theft, spare a thought for the vast majority of us who are innocent and honest and desperately want to do some legitimate shopping.


In the meantime please enjoy the Christmas tree from Darwin.



Consider a Different Choice

There is a plethora of information available to the seeker. What to eat, what not to. How to exercise, how not to. What is good for us, what is not. Most of us know most of it. But knowing is a very different thing to doing.

We know that skim milk in our coffee is better than full cream milk. We know that walking for 30 minutes to an hour everyday would improve our health by leaps and bounds. We know that turning off the TV and playing a board game with our children would make us happier.

But all  of this does not always fit in to our lives. Skim milk does not taste as good as full cream milk, it is so difficult to find 30 minutes to walk every week, let alone every day, the news on TV is so riveting and the little one should really be in bed, anyway!

So we put it all into the too hard basket and lope off to the Doctor get our medications for high blood pressure, cholesterol, back ache, diabetes, and a host of other chronic and preventable diseases. Many of these medications are expensive, have too many side effects and do not do much more than temporarily relieve the symptoms. But we get dependent on them. We would rather pop a few pharmaceutical drugs than a few supplements, and just blame our whole life’s problems on living in the 21st century.

How about we take a step back? How about we take responsibility for strengthening our bones, and improving our cholesterol level? How about we consider that we are not living in the 21st century, the 21st century exists because of us, and we are really just living?

How about we just recognize when we can make it a shorter work day, and leave work earlier? How about we turn off the late night news, most of which we have watched during the evening anyway, and go to bed earlier? How about we get up half an hour earlier and get on that treadmill we bought last year for Christmas? How about we walk to the train station instead of taking our car? How about we just pack our lunch to take to work?

See  – we all know it. We know that each change that will improve our lives by a large multiplicand is actually just a tiny shift in our perception of who we are. A really tiny shift in perception. Instead of viewing ourselves as a generation of overworked, underpaid, stressed out, stretched for time, overburdened by war and mayhem, unloved and unappreciated billion lives, we can see ourselves as loving, loved individuals, who make the happiest choices for themselves.  It is just a slight shift, does not take much at all.

There are millions of people who already live this life. They exercise, and eat well, they make responsible choices for themselves and for their families and that extends out to the whole world. All we need to do is believe that we are not really that different from them.

So the next time our colleague / friend/ chance met in the coffee queue says “I love waking up at the crack of dawn, and going for a swim”, let us consider not turning up your eyeballs and saying “Oh you are so lucky, I simply could NEVER do that”. Consider instead “Oh, how lovely! Maybe  tomorrow I can come with you!”

And maybe the next day, we will!

One step at a time!


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