It’s the name of Miles Franklin winner Amanda Lohrey’s book, which I’ve been reading. I’ve always thought of a labyrinth being like a maze but in it she describes the difference as a maze being a puzzle of mostly blind alleys designed for entrapment and therefore a challenge to the brain, but the labyrinth being a challenge to the heart. ‘In the maze you grapple with the challenge but in the labyrinth you let go. Effortlessly you come back to where you started, somehow changed by the act of surrender. In this way the labyrinth is said to be a model of reversible destiny‘.
I’ve kept that in mind this weekend where we have all been instructed to hold fast despite the personal sacrifices we are making. Livelihoods have been lost and I’ve heard and seen the despair and emotion for some of those in my local community who’ve been unable to work due to restrictions. For knowledge workers able to work from home, the challenge has been just as immense in a different way, working mothers may find parts of this article by Wendy Tuohy resonating with them. It does feel pretty bleak but we must continue to sail like a boat in rough seas and roaring winds maintaining our balance and journey forward irrespective of the elements, and know in time that we will emerge on the other side of this pandemic perhaps not victorious but still here in one piece.
There have been some interesting articles on wellbeing at this time – one on the value of a third place if you’re lucky enough to have one or be able to create one given the proliferation of backyard pods like these. I also read with interest this article on the vagus nerve (which I’d never heard of) but realised has been naturally triggered in my yoga practice and pranayama breathing – the latter of which I’ve guided those close to me in when they’ve had panic attacks. It’s important to know that all of us can access this when we need during such a stressful time in our lives.
While I’m not putting too much pressure on myself in this extended lockdown period to learn a new skill, I have resolved to ride my bike more and also download the duolingo app to practise my high school French (something I regret not doing in Year 12 as I’ve now watched Lupin 2 and started Call my agent and Emily in Paris also looks fun). Paris also looked amazing if you watched the Tokyo 2020 closing ceremony with Japan handing over the baton to France.
Some of my clever and creative family and friends have been more productive including Mr Rosanna who has released his first acoustic song When you come ’round(don’t we wish) ahead of getting his album professionally produced in the recording studio, which is now on hold. My friend Kath Elliot has also just launched The Alcohol Mindset Coach for those wanting to change their relationship with alcohol. I don’t drink but many Gen Xers and Baby Boomers do and binge drinking was a common theme when we were young. I’m glad that attitudes to alcohol have changed with the range of non-alcoholic drinks now available, Febfast, Dry July and places like Brunswick Aces opening. While we can’t venture far these days, I was also excited to discover HelleniCo Deli in Bulleen Road just about to open while going for a walkie talkie with my bestie Jules last week. We can’t go to Greece for now but we can still get our Greek food fix on.
It’s nice to see too that we can still have a third and fourth act in our lives judging from the release of scientist Professor Peter Doherty’s new book An Insider’s Plague Year and his morphing into a science journalist and commentator in the twilight of his life when he was set to retire. I’ve previously worked with the charismatic Dr Norman Swan and seen his similar journey (although he’s long been a journalist) with his ABC Radio Coronacast series and his new book So you think you know what’s good for you?.
Finally, we could all do with a good laugh at the moment and it’s great to see some comedians doing well on social media given no live performances can happen. Jimmy Rees in particular has made me laugh out loud with this gem from last week Meanwhile in Byron. Between that and the Dees footy game last night (Max Gawn – you are a star) – it’s brought a smile to my face at a pretty grim time. Hang in there everyone – there is something to be said about surrendering to our circumstances at the moment and finding our way back to the start through our hearts. We will get there.
My Food, Mood & Diet – Myth versus Science lecture with chef Shane Delia and charismatic ABC National broadcaster Dr Norman Swan was held last night to a packed audience at the State Library Theatrette, including a number of my La Trobe colleagues who had to stand at the back. There’s a certain level of skill involved in making sure everyone’s properly briefed, prepared and comfortable with the format for the evening but it’s always an interesting exercise seeing how the panel (who are often meeting each other for the first time) come together and do their thing on stage. Our MC Francis Leach always makes it look easy but I sometimes think he’s got the toughest job of all trying to guide the conversation and give all the speakers a turn to shine on stage.
It was a very entertaining conversation last night with Scottish-born Norman Swan saying a few naughty words and cheeky comments. Shane Delia was also a very natural panelist sharing his perspectives and food journey as a chef, including mentioning that he suffers from ADHD which is something he shares in common with fellow chef Heston Blumenthal. We are all human at the end of the day but it’s very courageous to be so open in a public forum and it was lovely to hear him speak about his passion for food, inherited from cooking rituals he enjoyed as a young boy with his grandparents, which led him down the food path. He is also a very busy man who works 14 hour days – he had two other gigs to go to after our lecture finished last night and Dr Swan had also jetted in that afternoon and was flying out again this morning.
It was also fascinating for me to listen to La Trobe’s two health sciences academics Catherine Itsiopoulos and Antigone Kouris explain why the Mediterranean Diet in particular is so good for you health-wise (including evidence-based data to support longevity and anti-ageing). I will be doing a lot more slow cooking, braising and casseroles after finding out it’s a much healthier process than caramelising, barbecuing and roasting as well as eating more plant-based foods especially leafy greens, nuts, legumes and olives and extra virgin olive oil.
The lecture touched on the fact that more educated and affluent people have the knowledge and access to healthier food including fresh fruit and vegetables and I will be interested to watch Shane Delia’s upcoming SBS documentary on better access for children at poorer schools in Melbourne’s growth corridors – he was horrified to drive past at least 14 McDonalds outlets on the way from his home to Tarneit in Melbourne’s outer west while filming the series. I get just as cross about gambling outlets and sports betting targeting the less educated and more vulnerable people in our society but don’t get me started…
Have a wonderful weekend and I am looking forward to the last month of Winter, which starts next week.
Yoga in Times Square, New York to celebrate the summer solstice and International Yoga Day is something I’ve not yet made it to, but it’s on my bucket list. Every year at this time, I start dreaming of holidays in sunnier places and this one fits the bill. If you’re a yogi, you may be interested in some of the winter workshops being held at Clifton Hill Yoga School.
I’ve been busy organising my next Bold Thinking Series lecture on Thursday 27 July at the State Library and wanted to give you advance notice if you’d like to book tickets to Food, Mood & Diet – Myth versus Science where my two La Trobe health sciences academics Catherine Itsiopoulos and Antigone Kouris will be joined by Maha Restaurant Owner and Chef Shane Delia and Dr Norman Swan, host of ABC Radio National’s The Health Report. Tickets can be purchased here and we’ll start officially promoting via Facebook next week.
I’m a big fan of Shane Delia’s Spice Journey program on SBS so looking forward to working with him on this lecture and his middle Eastern Maha Restaurant in the city, where a couple of my best friends have dined, has been on my radar for a while as much as some of my male work colleagues are fans of his kebabs at the more lo-fi Biggie Smalls in Collingwood. I also think his related cookbook below would have some great recipes if you’re wanting to experiment over the winter.
I was reflecting the other day with Mr Rosanna that it’s been an interesting professional journey for me working mainly with men at La Trobe. Public Relations tends to be female-dominated as well as many of the industries I’ve worked in such as fashion, beauty, retail and the visual arts. It’s been refreshing to work with guys this time around from my two bosses, to my colleagues who help coordinate the advertising, event management and livestream filming. Have a great weekend and enjoy the sunshine today.