Fine Dining

This week I had a taste of the finer things.


The Challenge.

Have dinner in a place with a dress code and a hefty price tag.


Why This Challenge?

The purpose of this challenge stems from my cooking. I am in no way a great cook, being mediocre at best. Additionally, I do not come from a family of wealth, so the restaurants I have been to previously were middle class. Delicious of course, but not anything amazing. I wanted a taste of the ‘good life’. Plus, treating my girlfriend always makes me happy.

The challenge part of this comes from my lack of money and need to save for such an occasion.


Execution.

The lack of knowledge about high-class restaurants in my area was a simple fix: Facebook. The top recommendation that was both not seafood (Natalie isn’t a fan) and not too expensive, was a Wine Bar and grill named Moo Moos. My lady and I got dressed up, went on in for our 8:15 reservation and were pleasantly surprised.

I was definitely out of my element and trying to go with the flow but Natalie seemed at ease in the environment.

You know your restaurant is fancy when they offer you 4 different types of WATER. A waiter comes and gives us the spiel about the menu, the specials, and his recommendations. I cut him off before he finishes because I feel bad: I’m on a budget and I know what I want. A single Dr. Quinn cocktail for the both of us, and two steaks.

He asks about sides and I think he is talking about separate dishes. Everyone there can see we, or at the very least I, am not meant to be there. The drink comes and the courier laughs at our game of Chinese chopsticks. The food arrives with complementary sauces (thank you Moo Moos) and Natalie and I both agree that they are the best steaks of our lives. If you are okay spending $50-$100 on your meal and live in Brisbane, I would definitely recommend Moo Moos Bar and Grill.

 

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Hungry Jack’s Sundae for Dessert

 

 


Lasting Impact and Lessons.

Dining in such a place has sort of kick started my desire for riches. It has also shown me the benefit of spending money on experiences rather than objects. I may have only been able to have that meal once, but it was fun and had a substantial effect on my mood. I would love to do such a thing more often.


 

June 30: A Month Well Lived

The Task.

Look back on my month of challenges and give myself some critiques, notes and thoughts.


Why This Challenge?

Well, what is the point of doing something to improve yourself if you don’t actually look at what you have done and the lessons you have learned? It is hoped that doing this will not only uncover additional lessons that encompass the entire month but solidify all of the teachings I have come across.


Execution.

Writing this post, and skimming back through all of my old ones.


What I have Learned.

During June I had 30 challenges and missed five of them. These five are reading the Quran, going camping, learning a song on the guitar, speaking to a stranger and investing in the stock market. Only one of these challenges – investing in the stock market – was due to not being able to, on account of the minimum stock purchase being $500. The others? Well, the two days that encompassed reading the Quran and going camping I had a patch of depression and laziness, which spilt over to the other challenges I missed.

This is a problem that has followed me constantly. I will have a week or two of good productiveness whereupon I shall accomplish many things. Immediately following these days of kickassery, I fall into a hole of sadness, void of all motivation and run instead by the twins named “what the hell is the point?” and “I don’t care anymore”. Occasionally this will last one or two days, but more often than not it will last a week or so. Fortunately, as I grow older and more capable, coupled with the wisdom of not going so full steam ahead, (but rather a constant, steady pace) these potholes have been getting rarer and smaller.

Recapping What I Have Learned From Each Challenge This Month:

  1. Start a blog. Starting a blog was actually a really great idea. I enjoy writing it and it kept me on track a lot more than I would have been without said blog. I do indeed wish to continue this.
  2. Giving a busker $20 showed me the infectious nature of happiness and the joy of giving.
  3. Banning YouTube kind of didn’t work and I need to do so again.
  4. Going for a walk was pleasant.
  5. Curtains have improved my sleep considerably. I am glad to have them.
  6. It was nice to appreciate someone.
  7. I really enjoy having a photo wall. It is pleasant to look at and meaningful.
  8. Catching up with relatives is considerably more enjoyable when it is of your own volition.
  9. Baking can be hard. Don’t worry too much about your failures.
  10. Sewing is easy. Don’t worry too much about rips.
  11. The 2-hour meditation session was one of the most difficult challenges in the entire month. Would highly recommend it. I learnt that I need to start meditating again.
  12. Decluttering my room organised it a bit better, and I need to do it again.
  13. Taking the time to learn a poem by heart forces you to delve considerably deeper into the meaning, both personal and overarching, of each individual word and phrase.
  14. A 24 hour fast was much easier than I thought and made me feel great.
  15. The Wim Hof method was definitely useful, however, the way of actually doing it is so over the top and time consuming that it is not practical for everyday use. I discovered the potential of my body with this challenge.
  16. Laying on the sidewalk showed me that no one gives a crap. They are way more focused on themselves than they ever will be about you.
  17. Going for a bike ride was pleasant and showed me the importance of equipment upkeep.
  18. The life image somewhat helped, but not knowing what I want in life was a major hindrance, as you would expect.
  19. I did not do this challenge.
  20. I did not do this challenge.
  21. No tech for 24 hours was great fun, and actually very relaxing.
  22. Making my bed was great to come home to and I shall try to make it a habit.
  23. Not only was dancing great exercise, but it was a great release.
  24. The dream house exercise was kind of pointless.
  25. I did not do this challenge.
  26. The grateful listing thing was very nice to do, and I have definitely noticed a change in my perception of things.
  27. Skydiving truly was amazing, I must do it again without the illness so I can actually enjoy it.
  28. I did not do this challenge.
  29. I did not do this challenge.
  30. I am currently doing this challenge.

All in all, I have accomplished a lot this month. I  have also learnt a lot this month. It was a change of pace to do something every day, which made me glad I did this.


Moving Forward.

I thoroughly enjoyed this blog. That being said, a challenge a day is quite a lot to put into action, hence missing 5. So as I continue this blog – yes I will be continuing – some changes need to be made.

Posts shall decrease to either a weekly or twice-weekly basis. This means that there is no excuse for me to delay a whole week’s worth of posts like the past. This change will be complimented with a decrease in challenges. I have thought things through and my decision has landed on a challenge a week, coupled with month-long challenges. I think that this is much more doable with day-to-day life.


 

June 27: 14,000 Feet Up

The task.

Leap from a hunk of metal that is filled with explosive liquid, while strapped to another person. How do you survive? A big sheet and some rope. I am not talking about a MacGyver episode, I am talking about skydiving.


Why this Challenge?

We all know someone that has skydived and, at least in my case, every single one of them describes the experience as ‘once in a lifetime’ (which, by merit of being able to do it twice, is a false statement, but whatever). But anyway, I figured I had better do it.


Execution.

I would like to start by saying that I was not well this day. On a scale of one to ten, ten being optimal wellness, I was around about a negative five. I am not joking. My skin was ghostly white, I felt incredibly sick and I vomited both during the skydive and afterwards in the car home. Why did I not postpone? Well, I had already paid for my ticket.

Prior to the day, some work colleagues found out about the challenge, which they decided they wanted to do also. Matt, Ben, Alex and I booked the event online, at Redcliffe. We got there, I paid for the video package ($160! Highway robbery!) and we got into the harness and jumpsuits. A ten-minute bus ride, and into the plane we went. Another ten-minute plane ride to 14,000ft and the roller door opened.

At this moment, I stopped worrying about my sickness and my fear of heights kicked in for the first time. There was nothing I could do, however, so I resigned myself and did what I was told. Legs over the edge. Hands on the chest. Deep breathe. Out the plane, instructor strapped to my back.

The gut-drop lasted no time at all. The cold wind lasted the entire time. I was chilled to the bone and flying through the air. Freefall. Freefall. Freefall.

The chute opened. The chill was a little less, the speed a lot less. Aaaaaaannnd, I was going to be sick. Thank god my instructor had a bag because it would not have been pretty otherwise. I got to enjoy the scenery for a total of 3 seconds the entire time before I had my legs up and we landed.

 


What I’ve Learned.

Try to be in your best condition for big events in your life. I will not say why, but I could have definitely prevented my sickness, which would have allowed me to enjoy the skydiving a million times more. I will definitely be going again.


 

June 26: Gratification Abound.

The Task

List 30 things I am grateful for.


Why This Challenge?

There was a study undertaken which compared the effectiveness of different activities on participant’s happiness. I cannot link this study, unfortunately, as I have not read it directly, but rather second-hand accounts of it. What the study found was that a gratification journal, which consisted of writing down 3 things you are grateful for each day, was one of the most effective boosters of overall happiness. It is said to be the case due to its uncanny ability to focus your attention on the positive, and not the negative. During the day, the participants started to look for things they had gratification for, thus focusing on those instead of more negative events.


Execution.

I typed up an empty list numbering from 1 to 30, sat down and filled it in. I made sure to actually feel gratification toward each one, else the exercise is useless.

I AM GRATEFUL FOR:

  1. The food on my plate, and the easy access I have to such food.
  2. Unlimited access to drinkable water.
  3. A safe roof over my head. Without it, I would be left to nature’s elements and may not even survive.
  4. Cheap access to public transport. For just $5 I can travel 14km in under an hour. If I had to walk it would take me two and a half hours.
  5. MY AMAZING GIRLFRIEND, for putting up with my flaws and my jealousy and just being perfect for me.
  6. Electricity. With it comes the ability to accomplish so many amazing things that tribesmen of old would think me a god.
  7. The Internet: despite its ability to stop me from accomplishing things, I know so much information it is incredible.
  8. The fact that nuclear war hasn’t accidentally been started. It has almost happened 3 times. (Probably more!)
  9. The fact that nuclear war hasn’t purposefully been started. I have reasonable faith in my personal ability, but I do not think I am resilient enough to withstand that.
  10. The diversity of food that is within my reach. I can get Asian, American and African produce all from the same Australian grocery store.
  11. Alarms and clocks, for starting my day and keeping track of it.
  12. Shoes. I wouldn’t know the first thing about making them, and they are extremely useful.
  13. Washing machines. It really wasn’t too long ago that people had to spend hours doing it by hand.
  14. Hot water. I can turn a knob and get it. Could you imagine a world where you had to have cold showers ALL of the time?
  15. Stoves. I do not have to labour over attaining wood and then lighting said wood.
  16. The collaboration of society that allows humans to specialise in fields.
  17. The performance industry, providing thought-provoking entertainment, expressing emotion that words cannot and spreading happiness.
  18. Advances in medicine, allowing us to live longer times.
  19. Books, preserving knowledge and creating entire universes through imagination.
  20. Music, in all of its glory and variety.
  21. Clothes, for warmth and protection from elements
  22. Photos, capturing infinitely minuscule moments of time as constant reminders of memories.
  23. Air conditioning, allowing us to bypass discomfort.
  24. Emergency services, keeping society safe.
  25. Laws, however unjust at times, they still improve life considerably.
  26. Refrigeration, preserving food.
  27. Food processing, for making food standardised and safe.
  28. Farmers of all types, whom often do not get recognised but whose work is shown on everyone’s plate each day.
  29. The love I have in my life
  30. Out of an infinitely small chance life was created on this rock and so I am able to sit and write this list.

What I’ve Learned.

I take a tonne of things for granted, each and every day, which sitting down and appreciating was very nice to do. For the next couple of days, I shall be aware of them and cherish them more so.


 

June 24: Grand Design

The Task

Answer a question. The question is very materialistic in nature and not in the least productive, however, it is a question I find interesting.

If money was not an object, what would my house be like?


Why This Challenge?

I don’t know really. It is a common question asked, and it is fun to ponder. That is kind of it.


Execution.

I brainstormed what rooms I would like, such as a library, an office and a sauna. (I know, extravagant, but unlimited money plus health benefits blah blah blah). I then went into more detail, such as a walk-in pantry. I did not get into tiny details, such as colour and materials as preferences for them change seasonally. It was a fairly boring design, the main components being:

  • Surrounded by rainforest, or at the very least a lot of trees. However, still within 20 minutes’ drive from a major town.
  • Three floors total, the third of which consisting of only the bedroom and ensuite.
  • Completely self-reliant, off-grid and eco-friendly.
  • A personal sauna.
  • An edible and ideally beautiful garden.
  • Very open plan, with lots of glass outer walls.
  • Balconies.

What I’ve Learned.

I have learned that dreaming big is not only fun, but it sets an image into your mind for something to achieve and motivate you.

Also, in direct contrast to June 12th’s theme of anti-materialism, it is enjoyable to imagine yourself in a luxury house.


 

June 23: Disco Stu

The Task.

Dance, like no-one is watching, for 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter what it looks like and it does not matter what music, so long as I am in my body and moving in a way that feels right.


Why this challenge?

Dancing is great. It connects you with your body like almost nothing else can. I am someone that stays in his head 80% of the time so getting out of it is always a good idea. Besides, the things that go on in my head, no one would want to stay in here for long.

Additionally, I like to empathize with others and their experiences. Why is this important? Why, because my girlfriend is a dancer, and although 15 minutes is nowhere near the sometimes 40 hours a week she does, I hope I can get a picture of her passion.


Execution.

Put on some good music and dance baby.

The important thing is to not think about what movements you are doing. If you try to put on a show and attempt to look good (at least for me) it doesn’t go well. You have to let your body just go with it.


What I’ve Learned.

To stay out of my head a little more. Being in my body is energising and brings a certain contented joy that only comes from such an activity.

And finally, I think I now see why Natalie (my gf), enjoys dancing so much.


 

June 22: Hospital Corners

The Task.

The task was extremely simple in essence, being an activity that plenty of people do on a daily basis, although something I never, ever do. The task was: brush my teeth. I am joking, I do that twice a day, the task was to make my bed.

Not simply make my bed, but make it super well, with hospital corners.


Why this challenge?

Order is nice to have in your life. A cluttered room puts my mind in a cluttered state, and I get nothing done. The best way to get order in my room? Well, neaten the most front-and-centre thing: my bed.


Execution.

Woke up, made my bed. Hospital corners were easier to do than I had thought they’d be, however, I forgot to take a picture and so did it again the next day to do so.

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What I’ve Learned.

Making your bed is considerably less painful when you aren’t being told to do so from your parent. That is so with many things in my life however. I have despised something as a child, such as cooking or even cleaning, only to have later found within myself a legitimate interest in it, at my own pace.

An additional note is that when I make my bed, the successes and failures of the day are independent. I could have everything go wrong during the day, and still come home to that one little win. It is a success that I can ground myself in, preventing myself from losing hope in myself and no longer trying, which does happen from time to time.

It is interesting that one little activity can have such wide-reaching ripples, even if they are subtle.


 

June 21: The Stone Age, Sort Of

Day 21: No Tech.

Notice: I went through a spout of depression and complete absence of motivation, and so challenges 19 and 20 were not done. I apologize.


Why this Challenge?

Phones and laptops are terrible for you. Don’t get me wrong, they let us accomplish amazing things, but when they control us they destroy our attention spans, our motivation, our imagination and much more.

But they are also rather addictive, so scheduling in time without is kind of a necessity.


Execution.

I kind of cheated in the sense that I still had an alarm, however as soon as I stopped that, I turned off my phone and did not look at it again for the rest of the day. It was quite easy once I decided it actually.


What I’ve Learned.

My phone and my Laptop take up a ton of my day, and when I did not I have them I was forced to do other things. Granted, that was mainly just sleeping, but even with an extra five hours of nap time, I still got more done in the day than usual, which I think is just crazy. I shall do this more often.


 

June 18: Life Purpose

Day 18: Write a life image.


Why this challenge?

I have no idea what I want to do in life, and I hate it. My university course was a move of interest, and not something I wanted to pursue afterward. My work is simply a means to make money, even if I am learning a lot about alcohol and its culture. I have no idea what I want to do.

This challenge was set in the hopes that once I sat down my whole life’s purpose would come flooding out onto the paper.


Execution.

I was helping collect tickets at the door to a school dance concert, and between the two performances, I put pen to paper. I find writing such things by hand, rather than typing them, to be a much better idea. There is something intimate about it.


What I’ve Learned.

I still have no idea what I want to do in life. Perhaps there is no such thing as a life’s purpose, perhaps we have to make our own life’s purpose or perhaps it isn’t an issue at all. There is no physical future, much like there is no physical past, and maybe we have to keep that in mind with the topic of purpose. Do what you want to in your specific moment in time, and make the most of it.


I will be taking a day or two off of this blog, for personal reasons.