March you’ve been Memorable

Learning something new

Rainy days can frustrate those who like to be out and about or even affect their mood. Occasionally, I can fall into both camps but instead when news broke of torrential rain coming, I got stuck into learning how to make mozzarella cheese from scratch with a couple of local superstars, Ron and Rick here in Omokoroa – who happen to be our most recent Happylocal heroes. If you’d like to give it a go too, it may be worth looking for a workshop host in your community or you can follow some online instructions here.

I have a deep respect and admiration for cheese; both how it’s created and of course all the ways to enjoy it! I found it delightful to watch how the raw milk changed to cream, then to butter and finally mozzarella. Oh the small things! And even though I had a cheese master at my side, it really helped build on my soft skill of confidence, to try something different when it comes to food. I am prone to making the same meals, my tried and true’s – this gave me the motivation to get a bit cray cray in that kitchen of mine sometimes!

It’s in experiences like these that are promoted through Happylocal (either on our app, Instagram or blog) that can transform how you spend your free time; satisfy your values and what makes you tick. Spending time with local community heroes was a real kick for me; they were so welcoming and knowledgeable that 3 hours flew by! Humans value friendship and belonging, it’s like the oil to our wheels and it keeps us going in the rollercoaster of life. And with an activity like this, with people who I have a lot in common with – it’s soul-food!

When was the last time you tried to make something? Making mozzarella gave me both instant and delayed gratification; I saw things develop as we went along but it is also a new skill I can exercise for tasty rewards in the future. Gallup Wellbeing measurements would conclude that this was definitely an exercise that adhered to both their Social and Community indicators; I really do love being a part of a community filled with nurturing people and skill sharing experiences like this one.

Taking care of a loved one

Even though this activity was not at all planned in this year’s experience experiment, I feel it is important to write about it. Life’s not all fun times with friends or taking part in a workshop developing our creative skills – in fact it hardly ever is due to the busy lives we all lead. Instead, our time is taken up with work commitments, raising children, house chores and for some of us taking care of a loved one who is ill. Envisioning our parents sick or feeble is tough in itself, let alone when it eventuates in front of you and you feel totally helpless to the outcome.

My mum is a healthy 65-year-old year who is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment for the next 9 weeks minimum. My family has had to move our world, in order to be with her temporarily in her city so she isn’t alone as she goes through the ups and downs of this experience. There’s so much uncertainty with an illness such as Cancer, so stress levels and the ability to control your emotions are regularly challenged. But here are some tricks and tips that I have found can help:

  • Like on the plane, put on your oxygen mask first. Not literally, but self-care is super important during this time as you hold the fort for all those around you suffering. For example, once everyone is fed and put to bed, curl up with a good book in the bath or when the patient and child are having a sleep during the day, take time out to go for a walk listening to your favourite tunes or podcast in peace.
  • Focus on what you can control: keeping the patient positive and doing enjoyable things together where possible is a great way to pass the monotonous days. In these colder months, maybe watch a series together so there is something new to discuss apart from the news or weather. Or watch a Comedy – laughter is an excellent antidote to stress and a little goes a long way.
  • If you need to talk with a professional, there are usually support groups in the cities or working in conjunction with the medical facilities for you to access. Or contact Carers New Zealand, it is a great resource!
  • Try to get adequate sleep and regularly meditate, exercise and eat well during this time – both patient and carer!

There is no gratification in this experience as such, except we do feel blessed in that the Cancer is isolated. I feel it is a privilege to look after my mum during this time and feel so grateful we live in a country that has such wonderful health care to access. The one great value attained in looking after someone you love is that it strengthens the bond and connection you have as you go through one of life’s trials together.