Reasons for Reading

“We read to know we’re not alone” – William Nicholson, Shadowlands


Day 15:  Take a Cue from Your Reader (or not in my case, I picked one of the prompts as didn’t have any suggestions sniff sniff)

Back on day 2 or 3 when I made a disastrous attempt to write a list of things I am good at (it never saw the light of day), Phillip mentioned how he was jealous at how good I was at reading and all the stories I get to read.  I have never viewed my reading as a skill, it is simply something that I do so it felt quite odd to have this said to me.  It is not something I have practiced in order to get better or improve, I simply read, quickly and all the time.

This quote got me thinking about why I read as much as I do, what it is I go from continuously finishing one book and picking up another.  There is always a book sitting waiting for me to pick up and continue our adventure.  I suppose there are many surface reasons for why I read – that I want to be entertained, to relax and to enjoy are some that immediately pop into my head.

Deep down though the main reason I read is because I want to escape.  Reading takes me away from my anxiety and depressions, it lets me go away when I am feeling stuck, it helps me to feel at times when my emotions may be struggling.  Reading shows me new places, it takes me to different worlds.  It shows me all the potential that could be out there, it encourages me to dream.  My world would be a much smaller place if I did not read and I suppose I would indeed be much more alone.

 

Pile of books - from Pixabay

photo by Pixabay

 

You Are Not Alone

 


Day Twelve: Critique a Piece of Work


“Hold on, Hold On.

Everybody hurts.

You are not alone”

~ REM Everybody Hurts


Another day I initially felt very tempted to skip, another day I found myself thinking this isn’t my thing, what on earth would I write about?  Then something came to me, something very personal.  It is not really a critique or a review, more an expression of what one song means to me and how it will play for me at the end of my days.

When I tell people that I want this song played at my funeral, at the start when everyone walks in, the reaction is usually always the same.  It is always something along the lines of ‘wow you really want people to cry, don’t you?’ and accompanied by a look that suggests I am being mean, that I am bad person for wanting to do that to people.  It is a song with a reputation for being bleak, a depressing song about hurt and loneliness, a ‘tear-jerker’.  And to be fair, once upon the time I thought so too.

As a teenager, my brother introduced me to a new world of music, quite different to the boy bands my friends were listening to.  This was how REM came into my life.  I loved REM then and still do, they seem to get how odd, screwed up and yet awesome this life can be.  They say to me that it is okay to be different, quirky and expressive.

‘Everybody Hurts’ was released shortly before I split up with my long-term boyfriend and temporarily moved back into my old bedroom at my parent’s house.  I was devastated.  My world and security had broken down and I was lost.  This song spoke to me of my grief, encouraged my sorrow and let me dwell again and again on how my life had gone so badly wrong.  To me it was indeed a song filled with hurt and sadness.

For years though this song has become a positive message to me especially when life has seemed more than bleak.  It is a song of hope, of finding a way through difficult and painful times, of not being alone.  There is acceptance that life comes with suffering, that everybody hurts and cries.  It is to me the perfect song to be played at a funeral, at a time when grief can seem too much to bear.

It is a song that has held me through many difficult times, it is sometimes the very thing that has stopped me feeling so alone and empty when depression has struck or when I have come face to face with grief.  Everybody does hurt, I hurt and it is this song that has helped me to hang on through some of the worst parts of my life.  Thank you REM for giving me this song, my world would have been a tougher place without it.

Short words ~ Day Thirteen: Play with Word Count


“Come come! Come Out!
From bogs old frogs command the dark
and look…the stars”

Kikaku


The task for Day 13 was to try the opposite of how you normally write in terms of length.  Now I normally write quite longish pieces (I always quite liked the opportunity to write a nice long essay…didn’t appreciate the stress that normally went with that opportunity though!) so short writing it was today.

I used to write (bad) poetry when I was younger and you can’t get much shorter than the Japanese poetry style of haiku.  The standard structure is 5-7-5 syllables in western terms and I did follow this..until I went all rebellious on the last one.  I was in two minds over whether to post these and decided to in the end as evidence to myself that I can try new things.  Read, enjoy and laugh at my poor attempts at this amazing form of poetry…

 

Outside my window

Birds sing, getting their nests ready.

New life in spring time.

 

Crashing of the waves,

Storm brewing, turmoil inside

Seeking peace somewhere.

 

Worries, thoughts, what ifs

Head is jumbled, body is tense

Looking for release.

 

Blue skies, clouds rolling

Day for dreaming, fleeting life.

Time to be living.

 

Turning away, avoiding all the eyes.

Need some space.  Life overwhelms.

 

If you’d like to see some examples of traditional haiku, take a look here.  Have you ever tried writing a haiku poem?  I would love to see them!

My Disney World top 10 ~ Vegan Adventures in Orlando (part 2)


Ooops got a little distracted with my ‘Everyday Inspiration’ posts and almost forgot I promised you part 2 of my vegan adventures in Orlando….yep it’s Disney World time!

So let’s dive right in and have a look at my favourite places to eat.

1. Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge)

Boy did we luck out staying at this hotel for our Disney stay.  It meant we had the super tasty all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant Boma to make use of…and we most certainly did!  Boma is an amazing place to eat as a vegan with personal tours of the buffet from a chef (some of which seemed happier about their role than others ~ our favourites were Arol, Ricky and the super smiley Lieu), lots of choice and specially made items such as vegan Mickey waffles and scrambled tofu at breakfast or tofutti ice cream with mini cakes or cookies at dinner.

Vegan Mickey waffles

Yeah I know I have used this photo before on my blog, seriously though can you blame me when they look this good?!

Heading to Boma for breakfast would keep me going for hours.  I would get either the waffles or scrambled tofu (okay sometimes both…I would always share though honest!) and add in some quinoa cooked in apple juice, sweet plantains plus tons of fresh fruit.  Topping off with a yummy jungle juice and coffee ~ no dairy free milk was available though which was a bit of a disappointment, good job I am happy to drink my coffee black.

There was always tons of choice in the evening including pasta with marina sauce, various rice and couscous concoctions, hummus, salad bits including a really zingy watermelon rind, harira soup as well as a tofutti ice cream for desert ~ if I had any room left that was!

2. Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC (Disney Springs)

If you are a vegan with a sweet tooth, this place would probably be your number 1 place to eat in the whole of Disney World ~ it was pretty close between it and Boma in my favourites and I am certainly way more a fan of the savoury stuff.

This place though = cake heaven.  The cakes are vegan, gluten free and delicious…my mouth is watering simply at the memory of them.

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The cakes in this box are the red velvet and vanilla with lemon frosting cupcakes plus a vanilla slice type thing (okay I *may* have forgotten what it was).  I can confirm that the French toast, chocolate with mocha frosting and chocolate with mint flavours are pretty damn tasty too.

Oh and they serve totally amazing soft serve ice cream too.

Yeah we *may* have gone there a few times….

3. Trail’s End Restaurant (Fort Wilderness Resort)

We booked a table at Trail’s End in the hope of getting the amazing Chef TJ who has an excellent reputation of creating wonders for those with special dietary needs.  We were seriously excited when we saw that it was indeed one of his nights to be working the kitchen. Now this is not something I ever usually say but OMG!  The creativity of this man and the food he produces is seriously awesome.  He personally bought out 6 courses…yep I said 6…and I had to keep eating even though I was more stuffed than an overflowing stuffed pepper because I knew I would not get this opportunity again.

Course 1. Vegan nachos – fried onions, chillies and a coconut based nacho cheese

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Course 2: A lovely fresh and simple tasty salad dish…all I can tell you about it is that is was delicious….must remember to make notes in future…

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Course 3.  Samosas and a creamy coconut mushroom soup.  This was my favourite course and I could have eaten this every day for the rest of the trip…..actually I could happily still be eating it now…

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Course 4: Magical smoked corn.  Hidden under this were some mini slices of corn and a smoke that smelt so good I wish I could have bottled it!

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Course 5: Tofu, rice and vegetable platter.  By this point I was completely stuffed and barely made a dent in this dish as gorgeous as it was.

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Course 6:  Candy floss tower complete with mini chocolate cakes, ice cream and fruit.  Of course I managed to make some room for this!

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This was without a doubt the best meal that I had at Disney.  The normal buffet eaters on the next table were incredibly envious of my special dishes that kept appearing!

To top off an already fantastic night, the Magic Kingdom fireworks started as we caught our boat back to the Magic Kingdom across the lakes, and we saw the start of the Electrical Water Pageant ~ a truly magical moment!

Why did it not come higher then I hear you ask?  Well I was kinda relieved that I didn’t need to get anything from the buffet as the choice was pretty limited to plain baked potatoes and a few salads.  I know the chef would still provide something tasty, I am just not sure it would be worth the effort it takes to get all the way out there.

4. Plaza Ice Cream Parlor (Magic Kingdom)

This place on Main Street USA makes it this high up on the list for one reason and the clue is in the name…yep ICE CREAM!  Vegan options here were my personal favourite Tofutti as well as the rather tasty Rice Dream.  So two options…heck I would have been excited about one!

Ice cream in front of Cinderella’s castle…maybe dreams do come true at Disney.

Tofutti ice cream from Plaza Ice Cream Parlor in Magic Kingdom, Disney World

5. The Mara (Animal Kingdom Lodge)

Although this little quick service restaurant at our hotel wasn’t overflowing with vegan options, what it did have was tasty fast food and friendly staff happy to tweak meals or get an allergy chef through from Boma.

It was our go to option most mornings (unless we decided to overindulge at Boma) where we would get oatmeal with raisins and fruit salad or occasionally ask an allergy chef for waffles or scrambled tofu from next door.

Lunch and dinner options were a mixed tomato flatbread which had obvious cheese plus some sneaky cheese too.  First time I ordered I asked for it without the ricotta in the description only to find mozzarella on it – not listed anywhere on the ingredients.  To be fair though I hadn’t checked first plus the staff made me a fresh one with extra toppings to make up for it.

My go to option though was usually the falafel burger without the yogurt sauce.  I always intended to go for it with the couscous options yet never seemed to manage it…the fries tempted me every single time…

And I failed to get a picture of the thing I ate the most in the entire holiday…

6. Aloha Isle (Magic Kingdom)

Tucked in Adventureland, this snack place serves the mighty Pineapple Float ~ vegan and just the ticket for a hot day in Magic Kingdom.  This little kiosk is all about the pineapple and the description reads Dole® Pineapple Juice with Pineapple Dole® Whip…I think it maybe has something to do with Dole?!  The Dole Whip is so tasty and fresh that I had to feature it fairly high up on my list.

Dole Whip Float in Magic Kingdom, Disney World

7. Tangierine Cafe (World Showcase in Epcot) 

One of the many vegan options available in Epcot, this quick service restaurant in the Morocco section serves light and filling mediteranean and moroccan style dishes with one very lovely option for vegans.  The vegetable platter comes with couscous, hummus, olives, taboleh and lots of other tasty goodness.

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I did read that the pita that comes with it is not always vegan so it is probably best to ask.

It was great to have a proper and healithy meal option at a quick service restaurant that wasn’t a snack.  What with Sunshine Seasons in Future World (I had the vegan korma which was pretty good) and the many options at the snack places, Epcot is the vegan place to eat at Disney World.

8. Blaze Pizza (Disney Springs)

This build-your-own pizza chain is remarkably vegan friendly and the pizzas are pretty fine too.  There are some signature pizzas you can choose from but hey where’s the fun in that?  Choose your base and toppings, get it cooked and enjoy your creation.  They have Daiya vegan cheese and both bases are vegan.  Staff change their gloves to do your pizza so let them know at the start.  Really liked my pizza and the choice available, shame we had an issue with two of our pizzas going missing…

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9. The Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom)

We had a really good experience food wise here and got to meet Eeyore!  As I said in my An Introvert in Orlando post, I put aside my general uncomfortableness with character encounters to enjoy meeting Winnie the Pooh and his friends.  It was a bonus that there was quite a good choice at the buffet and we had a really good tour from our chef Brandom who went the extra mile and made us some special extra food as well.

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I would have put this higher if it hadn’t been so damn cold in there which made it quite an uncomfortable experience…take a sweater if you eat there, actually no take two.

10. Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe (Magic Kingdom)

At the far end of Frontierland, the menu for this Mexican themed restaurant doesn’t offer much hope for vegan food.  Luckily though thanks to my advance research I knew there is a secret vegan option available if you ask ~ the Roasted Vegetable Rice Bowl!  Ask for this with plain white rice, pile it high with bits from the topping bar and you have a filling bowl of goodness.

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A little summary of other places we ate at:

Although those were my favourite places, here are some of the other places we tried (we did find time to go on the rides honest…it wasn’t all eating…)

B.B. Wolf’s Sausage Co (Disney Springs) – Italian Veggie Sausage in a roll

Tusker House (Animal Kingdom) – buffet with reasonable vegan choice, character dinner with Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy and Mickey (didn’t realise this at time of booking!)

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (Magic Kingdom) – after speaking to staff who made a real effort to help me out, I got a surprisingly nice falafel burger (without tzatziki and the bun) plus fries and my own little bowl of toppings.

Wolfgang Puck Express (Disney Springs) – had the whole wheat hummus wrap without the feta.  It was okay and did the job, wasn’t overly impressed though especially given the reputation of the chain.

Nine Dragons (World Showcase, Epcot) – I had the vegetable and tofu stir fry which was okay but fairly bland.

And the park that lets the rest down….

Without a doubt, Hollywood Studios was a real disappointment compare to the other Disney areas.  It was the only place I really struggled finding food that wasn’t fries and ended up being a kind of making do day.  Maybe once they finish all the development work there for the Star Wars area, things will improve.

There was so many places I didn’t get a chance to try out ~ oh well, we will just have to go back then eh mum!  Have you been to Disney World?  What are your experiences of vegan eating in Orlando?  I’d love to hear from you!

In case you missed here, check out Vegan Adventures in Orlando – Part 1

 

If we were having coffee right now…


Day Eleven: A Cup of Coffee


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Image from Pixabay

Another day, another new style of writing to try out and I am quite liking the idea of it.  It is a virtual coffee date between me and you, a time to share what I have been up to and have a catch up.  So I have settled down with a cup of coffee (with oat milk today) and looking forward to my date with you.  Grab a drink, a chair and let’s share (ooh that rhymed!)

If we were having coffee right now, I would tell you I have started jogging…again.  Yes I know I have tried it before with varying degrees of success.  This time though I am determined to give it my best shot.  I woke up this year to the need to look after myself better.  I changed to a plant based diet and am always working to improve my mental health so exercise was next on the list.  Jogging is free and we don’t have much money at the moment so the running shoes are back on.  I will have to let you know how I get on.

If we were having coffee right now, I would tell you about all the tasty creations I have been making since I changed to a plant-based diet and how much I love making ‘buddha bowl’ type meals.  You would probably be astounded when I tell you I can make yummy mayonnaise with chickpea liquid and gooey tasty cheese with potato and carrot.  I would tell you how I have now heard the ‘what do you eat?’ question and that thankfully I have not yet experienced any of the negativity that some vegans seem to encounter…so far…

If we were having coffee right now, I would tell you that slowly and surely our plans for mobile working seem to be coming together.  Our microstock portfolios are growing and so is the income from them.  I would excitedly tell you that someone is actually paying me to write things for them and then confide my doubts about whether I am actually any good at this writing business.

If we were having coffee right now, there would be news to tell you about my blog. How I am looking to moving to a self-hosted blog, how I have lots of ideas for how it will look and how I am being held back because I think a name change is in order.  I would explain that the name inspired by my button jewellery business no longer seems quite right but how confused I am about choosing a new name that reflects what me and my blog is becoming.  We would chat about ideas and hopefully inspiration would strike!

If we were having coffee right now, I would ask how are you?

Dear Tokyo, I miss you…


Day Eight: Reinvent the Letter Format


Today’s task is to write a letter, any type of letter, to anyone or anything, about any subject.  My first instinct was that I didn’t want to do it.  Once I decided to go for it, my next instinct was to do one of those letters to myself aged whatever or to my anxiety.  Something that was comfortable, a subject that I am used to writing about.  I didn’t want to go down that often walked path though, not today.  I wanted to stretch myself and write something a little more different, more positive.  So I am writing a letter to a city, to my home for 6 months, to Tokyo.

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Dear Tokyo,

It is two whole years since we said goodbye yet I can still feel you, can still smell you.  I know what it was to walk your streets, spend time in your shrines and temples, watch people live their lives.  Yes it is two whole years and I have not forgotten you.

At first living in your sprawling, busy, noisy and so very different city was hard.  It was not what I expected from our brief acquaintances before.  I hadn’t realised how strange you could be, how alone you could make me feel.  Sometimes you were so hard to understand, so alien.  I wanted to run, find something familiar, go ‘home’ to where I could understand and be understood.  It broke my heart because I was so sure that you and me would be such good friends.

And I was right.  At some point I stopped fighting and listened to what you had to say.  The loneliness I felt in your presence turned to an appreciation of solitude, of pleasure in my own company whilst spending time walking your streets.  I opened up to your ways, found pleasure in your odd and quirky nature and loved the traditional ways that underpinned everything you do.  I always felt safe with you wherever I was and whatever I was doing.  My home was small yet outside my door was never ending exploration and adventure.

I miss those days, miss that life and I miss you Tokyo.  Leaving you behind was one of the hardest things I have ever done and the feeling of being there with you has never left or eased.  You still have my heart.  I will see you again Tokyo.

till then…all my love

A Place to Write


Day 6 – The Space to Write (everyday inspiration)


In my head I dream of having a writing desk or a favourite coffee shop where I can tap away and be inspired to write many great things.  The reality though is….well….shall we say slightly different.  Most of the time I sat on my comfy sofa perched at one end, sometimes cross legged and sometimes stretched out balancing my tablet on my legs.  Always though at the same end facing the big window looking towards the bird feeder.  And that is exactly where I am now.

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photo from pixabay…not my sofa…I wish that was my floor…it is gorgeous!

It is by no means perfect, I am often slightly uncomfortable and frequently disrupted by Phillip telling me bits and pieces from what he is reading or by birds coming and going to the feeder.  It is though my spot.  It is where I write my thoughts, where I tell you of my adventures, where I talk of my life with anxiety.

That is not to say that I am fixed to this spot and could not write without it.  I have written perched on a tree stump in a forest, tapped away in a Starbucks (*other coffee shops are available*) or sat in my little camper.  To get attached to a spot is no longer in my nature.  The plan is to write wherever and whenever.  For now though this is my morning spot, the place I write before the day’s adventures begin and life takes me elsewhere.

For a future task coming up, I need some ideas from my readers on what you would like me to write about…pop your idea in the contact form below if you have something you would like me to write about.  Thank you!