Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reflecting on earth hour

 This year I joined some friends to celebrate Earth Hour with a candle lit dinner. It was a very special evening with remarkable food and wine sourced locally and it gave me a lot to think about.

It reminded me of another night when everyone turned out the lights. That was Fire Cracker Night or Guy Fawkes Night. Everyone turned their lights off to see the fireworks better.  I think in a way that the ghost of that night has been transformed into Earth Hour. We love the magic of turing off the lights and the romance of candles or of  going outside to look up and contemplate the wonder of the universe above and around us.

The turing off of lights is powerful symbolically. Seeeing huge buildings go dark is an emotional experience. Maybe it's something wired into us or maybe its our expectations built around our experiences of the arts, culture and religion. In the dark we seek catharsis - something that will lift us up above our everyday experiences.

I really like the idea of building a celebration around sustainability. We are physically doing something - saving power in turning off the lights for an hour, or two or four but what that allows us is time to think about the future for a few moments and what the concept of sustainability is all about. Then we have the rest of the year to do something about it and to encourage those we care for to do the same.

It's also delightful to eat cake by candlight, and to enjoy the honeyed scent of candles that are made from the wax of local bees.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Extending the new year's resolutions

There is nothing like a health scare to remind you of your mortality and of how precious each day is. We all need to be making the most of our time, living well and bravely. In my case it was superficial venous thrombosis which has a tendency to travel quite far up my leg. It's the second occurence and it may never happen again. It's more of a nuisance than a risk unless it gets as far as your trunk and enters the deep venous system. One thing that may make a difference is my health and fitness so this New Year's Eve when I resolved to get fitter and lose some weight I meant it.

In fact I had already started to make some small changes. Over christmas I lost weight for the first time ever. It started off with a mild case of gastro, which I don't recommend as part of a diet or lifestyle change. Gastro is never a good thing. However my appetite was temporarily reduced so I became used to eating smaller portion sizes. This can be achieved without the unpleasant side effects of gastro by slowly reducing portion sizes over time. You can also buy slighly smaller plates but don't cheat and heap them up more! Once your body is used to eating less you feel full sooner and won't want or need to eat as much.

Wouldn't it be good if the modern office as well as being green had healthy living built into its design as well. Surely table tennis facilities, a gym, a pool or even a room for virtual sports play should be integral to any thinking modern office design? Until the modern office gets mobile a brisk walk in the park will have to do.

The other thing I did was to take a good, long summer break.

 I spent a couple of wonderful days in Merimbula which is on the sout coast of New South Wales in Australia. The caravan park at Short Point was a long walk from the town centre so I was able to enjoy a coffee and blood orange ice-cream without feeling guilty. I spent a blissful day strolling around Merimbula Lake and the local galleries.

I also travelled south again to my original home town Hobart, Tasmania where I enjoyed an array of music and art as part of the Mona Foma festival. This year it preceded the opening of the remarkable  Museum of Old and New Art. The vibe of the crowd at the opening weekend was similar to a vibe that I've only experienced before in Sydney during the Olympics.

Combining the regular discipline of writing with lots of walking, dancing, swimming and stair climbing helped, and I've returned jsut before Australia Day much healthier, happier and lighter than I was in 2010.

So my five top tips for keeping healthy and extending the new year's resolution are:

1. Eat what you really love but eat less of it.

2. Think about what you are eating, why you are eating it and how it will make you feel tommorrow.

3. Do the things you really love. If you make the most of every moment you have less time to think about food or to fall back into old habbits.

4. If you really love being on the computer get mobile about it or break it up with  physical exercise.

5. Don't be too hard on yourself. Allow some treats and modify your eating or your activity levels  accordingly to achieve the right balance.