Sunday, 27 July 2014

Why I'm not teaching anymore.

After thinking about it for a while, I've decided I'm not teaching hoop any more. Well, maybe not for a couple of years.

I'm just not ready for it.

I know that might sound silly, since I taught my first class when I'd been hooping for just six months. I'm happy to teach informally, as I do at the River City Hoopers, but I don't want to teach formal classes any more.

I've noticed that it is acceptable for any one who can swing a hoop to set themselves up as a teacher. That's what happened with me. That's the ad hoc way the hoop community operates; and there's nothing wrong with a hoop enthusiast teaching interested people how to hoop [especially in a place where there are no other hoop teachers].

But for me, personally, it doesn't feel right any more.

I have been hooping for just over two years - I'm hardly an expert. If I'd been learning ballet or football for two years, I'd never think of setting myself up as a teacher. I consider myself an intermediate hooper, and I probably will be for another couple of years. I am still very much finding my own flow, my own language, within the hoop. For now, I want my own learning to be my main focus.

The other issue I have with teaching hoop is that I haven't yet learned to teach authentically. Hooping is so much more to me than just physical exercise, but I find it difficult to communicate this to others. I want to learn how to do this before I teach again. May be I will take some teacher training to help me with this.

Of course, this doesn't mean I will never teach any one any thing to do with the hoop, ever again. If I meet some one who wants to learn from me, I'm not going to turn them away. The more hoop love there is in this world the better!

Happy hooping,
Anne-Marie x

Sunday, 20 July 2014

On comparing myself to others.

The hoop is a source of such joy for me that I hate negative emotions coming any where near it.

Yet some times the hoop has difficult lessons to teach me, such as uncovering a dark part of my personality. Like … ooh, let’s see, my tendency to compare myself to other hoopers.


I’ve written before about comparison and how futile it is. But it seems that learning not to compare myself as a hooper is going to be a long journey for me.

I noticed recently that I had started feeling dissatisfied with my hooping. Winter doesn’t help, but there was more to it than that. It often happened after I had been on Facebook, where my feed was dominated by posts from a very large hoop group. While every person in that group was drawn there by a mutual love of the hoop, I seemed to have very little in common with the majority of them.

I started comparing myself to them. Unfavourably. Because, let’s face it, I’m not a 20 year old in a teeny tiny bikini, doing astonishing things with a teeny tiny hoop after just six months of hooping.

“Well, that’s it. You’re a failure,” says the very nasty voice in my head.

And it doesn’t stop with hooping. A friend posts about her world travels. Another friend is making a decent living as an artist. And I hear about yet another who has just snagged a book deal.

“Look at them. What are YOU doing? You suck,” says that nasty voice again.

Perhaps I should cocoon myself from the world so I don’t ever have any one to compare myself to? Nah. Sounds a bit lonely, doesn’t it?

I did have some thing of a revelation while I was hooping the other day. When I’m comparing myself to some one else I’m thinking about the other person and what they are doing, rather than what I’m doing. I can’t control what other people do. They’re just trucking along, doing their thing.

So may be that’s what I need to learn how to do. I can’t be any body else. I can only be me, in and out of the hoop.

Happy hooping,
Anne-Marie x

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The best ever chicken casserole {and that's no lie}.

Wow, winter has arrived with a vengeance here in New Zealand! After last year’s complete lack of winter, and a very mild start to this winter, it’s almost a relief that the cold weather has finally arrived. It’s July – we’re supposed to be scraping ice off our cars in the mornings!

Casseroles are a must-have in my recipe book for winter, and I am always on the look-out for new casserole recipes. Feel free to share any. But I reckon you’d have to go a long way to beat this fantastic recipe for chicken and white wine casserole. It’s easy to make, it’s warming, and it can easily be doubled or halved.

I serve it with lots of brown rice or cous cous, and fresh bread if I have it on hand. You can substitute the vegetables I’ve listed here for any you might have on hand - cauliflower, kumara, green beans, pumpkin would all be good. Although I do think carrots are essential.

Serves 4.

500g chicken breast or boneless thighs, each piece cut in half
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1T flour
3 sprigs thyme
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 medium unpeeled potatoes, chopped into small pieces
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup frozen corn kernels
Handful chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Pre-heat the oven to 180degC.
Put the chopped vegetables, except peas and corn,  in a large casserole dish. Sprinkle the flour over the top. Put chicken on top. Pour the tomatoes, white wine and stock in, and season with some freshly ground black pepper. Tuck the thyme in to the casserole. Cover.
Put into a hot oven and cook for one hour.
Remove casserole from the oven and take the lid off. Put back in the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the gravy is starting to thicken.
Remove from the oven and take each piece of chicken out, shred into smaller pieces, and mix back into the casserole. Stir in the peas, corn and parsley, and serve.