Tag Archives: Pleasure

I Walked a Mile with Pleasure

19 Aug

I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me.

~ Robert Browning Hamilton

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Baguette

20 Oct

It was the baguette that did it.

I shuffled into the supermarket, thoughts on dinner. What shall I cook? I didn’t take my card – will I have enough change? Shall I have a small snack before dinner? Will he be back late?

I wandered through the supermarket in a daze. The day had brought with it pleasant events and positive emotions. Yet my hunger and my fatigue were overpowering all the happiness, surprise, joy, excitement, gratitude and comfort that I had felt in the preceding few hours. These magical feelings were slowly evaporating, giving in to the crushing pressure of anxiety.

I walked through the shop isles once, twice, three times. Something was missing from my chosen groceries, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. No, not jam. No, not vegetables. No, not wine. During the fourth circle around the shop, I gravitated unexpectedly towards the bread shelves.

I don’t eat a lot of bread, but I could tell that this was what my body was asking for. The choice was far from appealing: the brown loaf was dry, the white loaf was too big and the packaged bread looked like plastic.

The only other option was a baguette. I’m not a fan of baguettes. Yes, I know, it’s a crime to say this while living in France, but baguettes are just extremely awkward. They don’t fit into a plastic carrier bag, so you have to hold them under your arm or in your hand. They’re too narrow to cut into sandwich slices and too thick to toast. They are mostly made with white bread, whereas I prefer brown. They have too much crust and not enough filling. You can cut your gums if the crust is too crunchy. They dry up within a day and, seeing as they’re too long to fit into the bin, you have to take them down to the garbage individually. Too much fuss for a piece of bread, in my opinion.

But, seeing as the other loaves were unappealing, I reached out to check if at least the baguettes were fresh.

And that was it.

With my hand on the baguette, I froze. A goofy smile spread over my face and I think my jaw dropped, uttering a mild “Aw” mixed with a sigh.

My cold hands were grasping the hottest, freshest baguette that I had ever touched. The bag in which it was packaged had steamed up from the heat. The baguette was so soft that it could have been dough. I picked it up and brought it against my face. I stuck my nose into the bag. I clutched it with both hands, squeezing it slightly, to reassure myself that yes, it had just come out of the oven.

Anxiety and stress evaporated. I was once again filled with happiness, surprise, joy, excitement, gratitude and comfort. I couldn’t believe my luck: this was the first time in nine months that I had picked up a feshly-baked baguette. Boulangeries may be open on every street, but they do not bake bread every hour.

I carried the baguette home like a trophy, hugging against myself so that no-one could take it away. At home, I bit right into it, hoping that it would melt in my mouth…and it did. I spread butter on slice after slice, while sipping mint tea with honey on the side.

Warm baguette – you made my day.

Sitting in a Quiet Room Alone

21 Jul

All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone. ~ Blaise Pascal

Time. How little we have of it. I only truly understood this a few days ago, when I realised that I only have four full days left in my ‘new’ home and in my ‘new’ life until a whole new phase will begin. With a month of travels just around the corner and a new job (or no job) waiting for me when I get back, it looks like this is the end of a small, but still significant era.

Half a year has gone by since I moved to my new country, yet I feel like I am only starting to settle in. The sudden realisation that I will be leaving soon made me realise that I don’t really want to leave. Is there any other place that I could love more than here? I found myself asking.

Yes, I love this new life. I love the plants on the balcony, the coffee in the morning, the magazines on the kitchen table, the notebooks on the bed, the wine in the evening, the silence, the trees around the house, the long car journeys, the siestas, the lazy afternoons, the spontaneous ideas for meals, the new-found pleasure for baking, the week-ends at the beach.

Simplicity.

The thing I love most about this new life, and the thing that scares me most about it. Simplicity is not something I was taught to ‘aim for’, simplicity is not a quality that I have heard a lot of praise about, simplicity has never been coined sexy. Simplicity must surely be like love – you don’t know what it is or how important it is until you experience it.

Freedom.

Nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to be. No one to impress, nothing to prove, no statements to make.

Time flies by. Life is never as we expect it.

In mid-June I jumped into the cool sea and couldn’t believe that a whole summer of sun and sea was waiting for me. A month later, and I have only been to the beach a few of times and I’m still as white as an Arctic fox. There are so many things I wanted to do, so many things I wanted to be, gosh, even so many things I wanted to blog about, but somehow, time got there before me.

I did learn one thing though – how to ‘sit in a quiet room alone’. And that’s a lesson worth more than any amount of suntan, right?

Lessons Learnt During Lent

24 Apr

Fourty days of Lent have gone by, which for me means the end of a fourty day vegan and alcohol-free diet. Whilst my normal diet includes regular meals with meat, dairy products and wine, lent in the Christian Orthodox tradition involves giving up animal products, alcohol, cigarettes and all other ‘unhealthy’ products (and habits) for fourty days. This is intended to be a detox for the body that creates a detox for the soul. Although I have not felt any major spiritual changes by limiting what I eat, there are several things that I learnt thanks to my fast that will no doubt have a positive effect in the long-term…

No Exceptions: by the second week of lent I was already thinking “And what if I was to have just a small glass of wine tonight? It won’t do any harm; I won’t really break the fast because I won’t do it often”. Luckily, I didn’t take action on this thought, because it passed through my mind at least twice a week. Had I listened to it the first few times, I would have ended up not fasting at all! If we

There are few things that we truly need

set out to do something, we cannot allow ourselves to make exceptions (except for reasons such as health, of course), because these will prevent us achieving our goal.

Making an extra effort is worth it: seeing as I couldn’t eat anything that is a ‘quick-fix’, such as sandwiches, pizzas or ready-meals, which all contain meat or dairy products, I always had to make an effort to prepare my meals. Even in the hungriest of states, when I wanted to devour everything in sight, I made real meals; this took more time, but my food was healthier and tastier.

It’s easier than it seems: once past the starting period, new habits become second nature. Fear tells us that what we want to do is hard or even impossible. Yet once we get started, we realise that we are more than capable of doing this.

The right to say ‘no’: it is easy to say “Oh, go on then”, when someone offers us a cake when we’re dieting, a cigarette when we’re giving up smoking or a drink when we’re cutting out alcohol. In most cases, we say ‘yes’ because we’re scared that the other person will judge us negatively or consider us ‘boring’. By saying ‘no’ in such situations, we are being honest and respectful to ourselves. Fearing other people’s judgment will cause us to live life by other people’s rules.

Fun Without Alcohol: yes, we can have fun without alcohol. Yes, we can enjoy an evening out without alcohol. Yes, we can relax without alcohol. Yes, we can enjoy a meal without wine. Yes, we can chat, laugh, joke and dance without alcohol. For some, this is obvious; for others, this is ridiculous. Either way, it is true.

We CAN have fun without alcohol...

Do you need what you want?: most of our consumption is for pleasure, not for necessity. There are few things that we truly need, all the rest are things we want.

Limitation Increases Appreciation: today, in Western society, the majority of people live in abundance, where they can have almost everything they want at any time. There is a huge choice of food, clothes, entertainment etc., and we rarely have to restrict ourselves in our consumption. By limiting myself in my range of food, I was able to appreciate the special meals more: a dinner in a restaurant (which made a difference to the classic meals I was making at home), a non-alcoholic cocktail (with more taste than the water I was drinking all week) and, of course, the Easter meal which included delicious meats, wine and creamy deserts. When we constantly spoil ourselves, we no longer get any pleasure from pleasure. Living more simply makes special occasions all the more special.

~

I wish you all a Happy Easter and a beautiful spring!

I Love Sunsets

22 Feb

I have always loved sunsets, and have been very lucky to have had my windows facing West in my past three apartments. It is always a pleasure for me to end my working day by looking out at the setting sun. Here are a few photos of the sunsets I have seen from my window.