Mirror…reflections

What is a mirror? To most people it is something that shows their reflection. If we think beyond that, it is a silent mime act following our every move. If we go a little deeper, it is showing us in live action motion how the outside world sees us. Deeper still it is a magnifying glass that highlights all we dislike about ourselves. However, is it all of these things and none of these things? It physically may show these things but how we interpret what it is we see is another. Furthermore, it is said if we met our own double we would not recognise them, as we have an image in our head as to how we actually look. So does a mirror really reflect the real us and how we look to those we meet in the workplace, streets and malls?

The silent mime act may make us laugh as children, as there is someone doing all we do. As we grow we get worried how the outside world sees us as fear the fingers of judgement and rejection. Then we find it to be a truth sayer, telling how much weight we need to lose to how old we now are, reflected back at us. However, what we forget is it does not have a voice, and I don’t mean our own internal one, for if it did it may say something very different. It would not massage our egos but tell us how well we are doing with life; like a scar we see above our forehead, the mirror may show a small scar but our insides know it hides the painful memories it tells. So perhaps it gives us a version of us or hologram of our mind’s image?

These days we put so much emphasis on physical appearance that the mirror may reflect back to us. However it is what it does not show what is on the inside, from our personalities to the colour of our auras. I remember one of the early photographs I took of myself in Italy mid-May 2007 and asked someone “do I really look like that”? To which I got laughter of “erm yes Fi, who else did you think it was?” It hit me hard as realised the image I felt of myself was not the girl in the photograph. The girl in the photograph looked sad and in pain, needing a big hug to say all would be all right, and I knew in that instance I had to find my true self if was ever going to be free. Now I know a mirror does not reflect the full us; best viewed like a child, as a mime act copying all we do in that moment and nothing more.

© Fi S. J. Brown

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Yule

Sitting in a forest drinking apple cider, listening to the wind blowing and making all the evergreen trees leaves ring out to rejoice the winter solstice is here. Around me the red berries of the holly and white of the mistletoe shine like candles near and far in memory of this year now gone. A small bonfire in the middle of the forest warms both my heart and soul as I am surrounded by nature and thank Mother nature for the gifts that she keeps on giving me. I have put my tent up by the oldest oak tree, to lie in watch for the sun to rise, as on this night my ancestors celebrated the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life. and warms the frozen Earth; as from this day forward, the days will become longer in the northern hemisphere. So to all this day I wish you a blessed Yule and every day I wish all peace, love, happiness and harmony.

Fi S. J. Brown

I’m dreaming…

I’m dreaming not of a white Christmas, or what gifts I will receive under the tree or in a stocking to mark the 25th of the month for it is after all optional, no matter how much the advertisers and retailers appeal to me. Not everything in life can be bought at a mall or supermarket or on the internet, for what I would like cannot ever be bought or sold.

I dream of a world where we do not feel the need to buy pointless material goods to show our love and thanks for another being in our lives, for our words, thoughts and actions express these daily. Buying a so called gift for someone again and again does not help our economies; it only serves our own egos and makes the rich more money, as many struggle to afford to pay their bills let alone these extras. It is said it is supposed to be about the giving, so why is not giving ourselves not enough?

Therefore, my seasonal wish, hoping one day it may come true, is for a society of collective consciousness that actually cares about and supports each other, animals, children, older people, the poor and vulnerable, depressed and anxious, sick and lonely, regardless of difference, and respecting and loving the world we all share with all its incredible gifts it gives us for free.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Roasted aubergine, sweet potato and spinach curry

This is a recipe for a simple, light, and healthy vegan curry, which comes from Chloe Coker and Jane Montgomery’s book The Vegetarian Pantry. I cooked it for a potluck supper and was noted as everyone’s favourite dish of the night.

Ingredients

  • 2 aubergines/eggplants, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • Large handful of fresh spinach, washed and dried
  • A pinch or 2 of sugar, to taste.
  • A squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A handful of fresh coriander/cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) Gas mark 4.

2. Put the aubergine/eggplant and sweet potato on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.

3. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon. Roast in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, until cooked and golden.

4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and cover with a lid. Cook for 2 minutes or until they pop.

5. Turn down the heat, uncover, and add the shallot, ginger, garlic, and chilli. Fry for 3 minutes until they start to soften.

6. Add to the pan the garam masala and sugar and fry for 5 minutes.

7. Finally, to the pan add the tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.

8. Stir the roasted vegetables through the sauce and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, and stir in the spinach until wilted.

9. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding more sugar, lime or salt and pepper, to taste.

Spoon onto serving plates and serve hot with rice and a spoonful of plain yoghurt, if liked.

Comfort and joy

Tills and bells ring to the tune of the festive season, mimicking the sound of Santa Claus’ sleigh on that night that make young and old rejoice. Yet every night in the sky the stars ring out but few stop to listen to them toll, as grown deaf to their gentle chimes. They bring comfort and joy wherever they ring, but many would rather the sound of a new iPhone 6 held in their hands.

Do not let the ransom notes of the advertisements tease and torment the soul, and fill it with nothing but greed and envy instead of glowing from inside out like the moon. A gift does not have to be bought to show the sounds of our heart when the recipient is near, for it echoes in our words and actions every day; feeling the most precious gifts of all – love, peace, hope and light.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The Desert Island

To answer the old puzzle: “If you could only take three things to a desert island, what would you bring and why?” Excluding a boat, car, helicopter, plane etc. but can take a person fictional or real. I say…

The first thing I would bring would be a wind-up radio, so I would have the sounds of company and music to keep my heart and soul going through however many days I was going to be on the island.

Next I  would take a solar powered notebook, so I could write about my experiences as and when they happened, not relying on memory and also things inspired by what happened on the desert island.

Finally, I spend much of my days alone, so having company would be a bonus. So I would take a Swiss army knife, as would have more in it than a single gadget could alone provide me with.

However, I am far from materialistic, so uncertain whether or not the three items above would really make a difference to my experiences on the island. So on rethinking what my three would be instead…

Perhaps I’d ask for my health to be on it’s best form, so all my senses would take the most from the experience without worrying on getting ill from the wrong things. Sadly for me that is too much ego.

Maybe a book of 100 opening chapters (fiction and non), acts or selection of poetry by my favourite authors that had inspired me when I had read them? Yet, would that benefit my experience, no.

Three of my closest friends from different places, so could continue to inspire and support me as we do for each other now. I feel bad at wanting another there for my own needs, so again maybe not to be.

Finally, I decide I do not want to take anything or anyone with me because in life we have to rely on past knowledge and experience, following our instincts to get us through. Therefore, and so shall I.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Judge and jury

What we see in others is essentially a reflection of ourselves, our projections and prejudices. Any time we judge someone, we reveal more about our character than anything else. We sometimes judge according to another’s looks/race/gender/ethnicity/beliefs/sexuality/ability/class/age but their actions and behaviour around us and others says far more than they do. We are all on a journey, that can be very hard, tiring and tearful so why be so judge and jury to others as they live it differently to us? Enough judgement and criticism, nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes. The only person we can really judge is ourselves, without giving ourselves a hard time when we do make a mistake or two. Anyone who thinks it is okay to hurt, laugh at and/or judge another can go spin on my middle finger.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Disability

Today is a day the United Nations has marked as “International day of persons with disabilities.”

For some a disability is something they can see, for example someone that has a physical disability so use a wheelchair, those with a learning difficulty such as autism and people with a visual or hearing issue.

There are also hidden disabilities such as dyspraxia and dyslexia that impact on our ability to learn, mental health issues varying from depression and bipolar to PTSD and schizophrenia, and epilepsy to brain injury.

Despite any disability we are all human, with a heart to love with compassion and empathy. So is it not about time we stopped the stigmatism of disability, appreciate we all cannot do everything, and there is always someone who has it harder than us.

Fi S. J. Brown