Hopefulness does not preclude discouragement, disillusion, frustration; it does preclude bitterness and cynicism.

Hopefulness does not mean that we do not fall; but it does mean that we get up and walk on.

Andrew Greeley (b.1928)

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.

Willa Cather (1873-1947)

Yes, I do plan to write a novel/anthology one day… and actually finish it!

Joanna Maxwell ran this course on Sunday at the NSW Writers Centre and I really enjoyed it. Like the ‘Blogging For Beginners’ course, it was inspiring and useful.

I am one of those people she mentioned who say “I would love to write one day,” but who hadn’t actually had much vision for my writing project. The course helped me work out what my vision actually is and make it more specific and achievable.

As a High School teacher I have had my fair share of training in mindmapping, scaffolding, listing and storyboarding. On Sunday though, I found it interesting to learn about these strategies in the context of my life and my project, independent of the context of teaching, and to see them in a new way.

While in themselves these strategies aren’t particularly serenity-inducing, I’ve been told that if applied properly they can bring about a better quality of life where priorities (the “big rocks”) are both identified and explored… I live in hope!!!

I really enjoyed the mindmapping strategy in particular. As a follow-up to the course, today I decided to combine the things I learnt about Steven Covey’s work, the work of Leo Babauta in ‘The Power of Less’ and mindmapping to creatively explore the “big rocks” in my life and strategies I might use to simplify my work and life, in turn, creating a greater sense of balance and serenity.

I really recommend anyone with the inclination and the Long Service Leave accrued, to take the opportunity to spend some time away from work, clarifying purpose, direction and priorities… it’s well worth the effort!

IDENTIFYING AND MANAGING PRIORITIES: Steven Covey’s “Big Rocks”… very American, but well worth a look!

There are two days about which nobody should ever worry, and these are yesterday and tomorrow.

So with only today to cope with, the burden becomes lighter, for nobody ever stumbled under the burden of today.

It is only when they add yesterdays and tomorrows to the load they are carrying, that it becomes unbearable.

Helen Steiner Rice

John Mountford ReserveAt 32 years of age it is so easy to take walking for granted!

I have a favourite place I like to walk… a park named after a man who, as a boy, flew his kite there when it was a dairy and a piggery, this kite-flying youngster went on to become our local Alderman (early 1900’s), Mayor and then member of the House of Representatives. Such important titles for a man I recognise for something much simpler…

I remember my local park when I hadn’t been walking for very long at all! I remember the two-tiered tennis courts, I remember where I was standing in the park when on my fifth birthday, my mum’s friend gave me the card I remember most vividly. I remember riding my bike on only 85% of the park’s circular track before having to turn around, because ‘bad men’ were hiding there.

The Bridge

The Bridge

I remember the bridge above the storm water drain the local kids used to play under, and the random mound of rocks that acted as our kingdom and fort. I remember the steep hill I couldn’t roller skate up, and the same hill I avoid walking up now! I remember the Weeping Willow that I spent hours climbing, staring at or sitting under and I remember weeping myself when in the 1990’s, the council removed the dying willow. I remember the park when it was double the size, before the M5 took the Netball courts. At 13 years of age I had fallen in love with my local park so much that when all my friends were Ice Skating, Shopping and Bowling for their birthdays, I invited my friends to sit under my Weeping Willow and play. Boring? Maybe!

After many years I am back living near my local park again. I am once again walking around my smaller, hilly, Weeping Willow-less park, enjoying nothing more than saying hello to and smiling at the other lucky ones who have discovered the simple hidden pleasures of John Mountford Reserve.



A 6km walk, a sunset and time to appreciate both. I am a happy woman!

I go to Nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more.

John Burroughs (1837-1921)

Great conversation, lamb cutlets and berries drizzled with white chocolate… what more could a girl ask for?

While I enjoy baking biscuits and desserts, I don’t really consider myself much of a main meal cook. Saturday night, much to my delight, was an exception. Two fellow teacher-friends came over for a catch-up and I spent the afternoon preparing ingredients for the meal so that I could cook it when they arrived. I don’t think I will ever be a Masterchef Australia contender, so my main reason for blogging about this meal is that the girls  wanted the recipe. Be aware that it was more appealing to eat than the photo suggests!

So here goes… after a “healthy” snack of red seedless grapes and crackers with spinach dip we ate our main meal of Rosemary Lamb Cutlets with chorizo and tomato couscous.

Lamb Cutlets with Rosemary

(courtesy of Donna Hay’s 10-minute meals, p60 – which NEVER take me 10 minutes! I altered this recipe slightly to feed 3, not 2 people)

  • 1 Tbs chopped rosemary leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • [4 anchovy fillets, chopped… which I left out]
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 9 lamb cutlets(far too many for us)

Preheat a barbeque or char-grill (I used my George Foreman) to medium-high. Combine the rosemary, garlic, anchovies, vinegar, sugar, oil and pepper and brush over the lamb. Cook for 2-3 minutes each side or until cooked to your liking (altered to accommodate the George Foreman).

Chorizo and Tomato cous cous

(Serves 4. Unsure where I found this recipe – Coles magazine I think! Prep 10 min, Cook 15 min)

  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 2 chorizo sausages, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs Moroccan seasoning mix (I added a little extra for a stronger flavour)
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock (I used extra because I like my cous cous more moist than dry)
  • 250g Frozen Broccoli florets
  • 1 ½ cups cous cous
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley

Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium. Cook chorizo for 1-2 min each side, until golden. Remove from pan (rest on paper towels to drain oil – my addition). Cook onion in same pan for 3-5 mins, until soft. Add seasoning mix and stir until fragrant. Add tomatoes, stock and broccoli. Bring to boil and sprinkle over couscous. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 5 mins, until liquid has been mostly absorbed. Stir through parsley and chorizo using a fork.

This meal was really nice. My advice? Three lamb cutlets with the cous cous was too large a meal for the three of us girls – two cutlets would have been plenty.

Dessert… Berries with white chocolate sauce

(Serves 3. Again, unsure where I heard about this)

  • 175g quality white chocolate
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (I used essence)
  • 30mL fresh cream
  • 250g unthawed mixed berries (I also added some chopped fresh strawberries)

Melt the chocolate, vanilla and cream in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering hot water. When melted, stir to combine. Put berries in three glasses or bowls and drizzle the sauce over the top. Serve with a biscuit such as biscotti (I had baked some chocolate-studded honey biscuits earlier from Donna Hay’s Chocolate Simple Essentials recipe book.

I can assure you, the ladies left well-fed and satisfied.

A lovely, relaxed evening.

I don’t know what each of you will go on to become, but I do know that the ones of you that will be truly happy are those of you who have sought and found how to serve.

Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

www.ahhserenity.wordpress.comI am now 10000 steps shy of Shelly Beach on the Great Ocean Road!

No, I’m not going mad! My wish to walk on most days of my Long Service Leave AND stay in the comfort of my own Sydney suburb, has seen me join a “virtual” trek of the Great Ocean Road! I discovered the ‘Walking with Attitude’ site last week and am slowly getting a “virtual” start on this familiar area of our beautiful country.

Michael and I visited the area in April last year so the “virtual” walking experience combined with my memories and photos of our trip last year will make my mission to exercise hopefully just a bit more fun… hmm, I think I was a little critical of self-help programs in a post recently 🙂

More about my walk later.