balance, change & other life updates
This morning I stumbled across a "bucket list" that I wrote when I was 15, which included one item - to start a health/nutrition blog (fortunately, there was a big tick next to that one). Finding this list was the little reminder that once upon a time I could only dream about having a blog like this one, but there was some part in me that loved the idea of sharing my thoughts, discoveries and creations with the world. A LOT has changed in the 6 or so years since I started Berry, Berry Happy, and most recently my life has become a whole lot fuller, hence why it has now been over 6 months since my last post... sorry!
In today's post I guess I just want to capture a little snapshot of some of the things I've been loving, contemplating, and challenging myself with over the past 6 or so months in the hope that you will find some inspiration, relate-ability, or just general interest (if not, oh well!). So let's start with a quick update for those who might be interested:
Erica: Last year I completed my final year of my Bachelor of Biomedicine in Melbourne, graduating in December. In January of this year I started my graduate medical studies, still in Melbourne and now enjoying life from the ever-hipster suburb of Brunswick. Starting medicine has been an absolute whirlwind and something I've been aiming for since I was 15. The course is demanding and busy, with long days, lots of content and plenty of extra-curricular things to get involved in, but I can honestly say I love it. I've met some of the most inspiring, kind-hearted and selfless people in the past few months and am feeling connected and inspired by uni in a way I've never felt before; it's epic. Other than that, I'm still working part-time (and still loving my job) at Happy Place in South Melbourne.
Peta has just commenced her third year of medicine in Adelaide, and is still as passionate and motivated as she was at the very beginning. She is very much infected with the travel bug and always seems to have another overseas holidays planned. However, her biggest achievement and milestone this year has been completing her yoga teacher training in India in Jan-Feb 2018. I won't speak for her too much here, other than to say it is clear it was a transformative experience for her. I spoke to her this morning and she is planning on sharing a much more detailed reflective post about her experience in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that (especially if you are considering pursuing a yoga teacher training course).
Now back to some things I want to share today. As the people who are close to me know all too well, I spend a lot of time reflecting, thinking and creating and then re-crafting ideas about all kinds of things in life. That has not changed. For me, the past 4 months or so have really been about growth, change, challenge, and balance.
- balance & change -
In the first week of med school we had many people talk to us about the importance of maintaining balance in our lives, despite the demanding nature of our degree (especially the first year). I clung to this idea of balance and for weeks I tried to figure out what a 'balanced' life for me looked like and how I was going to achieve it. My primary goal was to avoid the kind of exhausted burn out that I have experienced in the past when I have taken on too many things and then not taken enough time for rest and relaxation. I was so determined to nail this whole balance thing that I took myself pro-actively to see the counsellor at uni to chat about strategies to avoid said burnout. In my first conversation with her I told her what I wanted to achieve, but how I struggled to say 'no' to things and leave space on my metaphorical plate for myself. After that I spent about two weeks trying to figure out what/where in my life I could sacrifice things in the name of balance, but I couldn't really find any big areas that I was willing to give up... In the end, I was able to find just a few very small things to let go of, and this frustrated me.
However, by the time I saw the counsellor for the second time, one month later, I was about 7 weeks into the course and still feeling quite fine, despite the busy-ness of my life. Upon reflection I started to question this whole concept of 'balance' and whether it was just another pressure I was placing on myself. When I took a step back I realised that the kind of picture-perfect 'balanced' life I envisaged was probably not practically achievable with the bare minimum of my commitments, and I would have to give up things that are really special to me in order to achieve it. It just didn't seem worthwhile. Moreover, when I released this pressure to have a 'balanced' life I felt immediately lighter. All of sudden I realised that I was perfectly happy with how my life was. Sure it is busy, I have a lot going on, but at the end of the day almost all of it fills me with joy and gratitude for my life. I have the most incredible support network and so I know if I ever got into strife there would be plenty of people there to hold my hand.
Now, I am not suggesting that balance is in any way a bad or unachievable thing, especially since our society glorifies "busy" often to the detriment of our mental, physical and emotional health. Rather, I believe that we can too often taken a very idealistic view on balance without realising that balance looks different for everyone, and it is dynamic - it changes with each and every day. Some days balance is about taking some time to rest, reading a book, doing yoga, sleeping in, and other days balance means putting in that little bit of extra effort to get ahead in your work/study or challenging yourself. Food for thought?
- challenge & growth -
As has been the case for several years now, personal growth is something I value quite highly and so where possible I am challenging myself in new ways and testing my own boundaries. This year in particular I set some specific goals around social growth, because even though I am far more extroverted than I have ever been I still feel social anxiety at times. Going into a cohort full of new people seemed like perfect opportunity to challenge myself in this area. As I mentioned before, I have been blessed in this area. Just making the effort to introduce myself, smile and be as friendly as I could in the first few weeks of class has meant that I now feel incredibly connected to my cohort and I have made some pretty incredible new friends, as well as consolidated existing friendships.
I've also been challenging my fear of confrontation by having some difficult conversations with some people in my life. Often these conversations arose from poor communication in the past, or feeling scared to be completely honest because of a fear of judgement or rejection. Although initiating such conversations is easily one of the scariest things I've ever had to do, I've found that if I just stay really honest and express myself as best I can in a loving way the outcomes are so worthwhile. Communication may be one of my weaker skills, but its something I am consciously working on and it seems to be paying off. I would urge you to consider having a difficult conversation with someone in your life - you know who they are - because it may just be the best thing you ever do.
- things i'm loving -
Now for a few fun, exciting or new things that have been really making life great in recent times that I hope some of you may also enjoy!
- The Guilty Feminist podcast - I am without a doubt addicted to this podcast and it has honestly opened my mind to so many new ideas, not only about feminism and gender equality, but also on a range of social justice issues. It is SO funny, smart, engaging, and thought-provoking that I seriously cannot recommend it highly enough.
- Camp Cope's album 'How to Socialise & Make Friends' - I was only introduced to Camp Cope this year, but boy oh boy am I in love. This insanely talented, bad-ass feminist trio make music that is beautiful, moving, and isn't afraid to touch on the more serious issues in life. Their latest album is one I've been listening to on repeat, and includes their hit song 'The Opener' with one of the best verses I've ever heard.
- New health foods at Woolies - if you happen to shop at Woolies you may have noticed some pretty cool new products popping up including sauerkraut and other fermented food products, a range of falafel balls and some tasty gluten-free sweet potato wraps. Whilst I'm all for making things from scratch, I'm very aware of the fact that making your own fermented foods is a labour of love and so it's nice to be able to give your microbiome some loving without waiting weeks for your homemade stuff to grow!
- Oats! I've been more or less strictly gluten-free for the past 6 years, which included avoiding oats because of the cross-reactivity that many people experience. However, recently I've started to test my own intolerance with small amounts of gluten, and fortunately it would seem that my gut is far less reactive than it used to be. For the time being I am still eating gluten-free, but I have introduced oats into my diet on a regular basis and I am loving them!! Oats are an affordable and healthy pantry staple, packed full of fibre and can help improve cholesterol levels and maintain normal blood sugar levels. I loved making an overnight soaked oats with grated apple, coconut or almond milk and some cinnamon and granola as a quick, tasty and healthy breakfast.
Well, that's a wrap for today as I'm off to uni now. I hope everyone reading this is doing well, and while you're here take a brief moment to think of 3 things you're grateful for today!