The Ordinary into the Extraordinary

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At the end of this month, Philip and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. I can hardly believe it’s been two decades since we said ‘I do’, and if you include the on-and-off dating before that, we’ve pretty much been together for 25 years. We met when I was 19 and he was 21.Read More


A Cup of Warm Milk

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So I’m sharing this article today simply because one of my readers had remembered this article and she shared how it had touched her. She asked if I would repost it so here we go…. I hope you enjoy!

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Everyone Has a Story

This a story that has made its way around the globe. I’ve talked about it countless times on my radio show and to family and friends. I’ve been reminded of it countless times. Why? Because we all desire wholeness in our lives.  And personally,  I think all of us can see a piece of ourselves in these events. After sharing this, I was asked to write my story, so I hope it makes its way into the right places.

The story is simply about a day in my life. A day that I know will stay with me forever.

I was at the supermarket doing my weekly shop. Normally, I am a very interactive shopper. I like to know what’s going on around me and I truly enjoy the supermarket experience. I go down every aisle because it is a time and space in a busy day to simply roam perhaps a little aimlessly. I love it! Today was slightly different for me, I was extremely focused on the job at hand. I was stepping outside of my culinary safety box and cooking something new for our dinner guests. So, with cookbook in hand I was charging through the shops focusing on my recipe and my trolley. Normally I would greet my fellow shoppers with a friendly ‘hello’ and a smile. Not today.

After making tracks through the supermarket, I made it to the checkout.

As I began to place my purchases on the sliding belt and the cashier scanned each item, I felt a sense of satisfaction. I had found almost everything I needed. I had completed my shop in record time which meant time for a relaxing coffee before the cooking began. I stood patiently, waiting for my transaction to end, smiling at the man who was doing his best to pack my groceries. Whilst I was at the checkout and daydreaming about my coffee and thinking about my impending culinary extravaganza. I turned to discover someone had joined my line. It was a man who appeared to be homeless, he would have been in his late 30s or early 40s.

His hair was matted, his clothes were very dirty and he carried a horrible stench. Sadly, his smell was so strong that it invaded almost the entire front of the store. As my groceries came to an end he began to delicately place his purchases on the sliding belt.  I can’t remember exactly what he was buying but I do recall it surprised me. His groceries, would have probably cost around $10. I stood, riveted to the floor, my feet wouldn’t move. My heart began to beat a little faster, my internal temperature increased. It was that feeling that maybe some of you get when you’re about to hear that ‘small voice inside’ speak loud and clear. That’s exactly what happened.

I heard that voice say, ‘pay for his groceries’.

I know many, if not most of you reading this story are familiar with that voice. We all hear it. Call it your conscience, call it the Universe but I call it God and I know that voice. It’s the voice that can warn me, caution me, motivate me…. so many moments I have heard that voice. Anyway, back to the story. I immediately began a debate in my head that went something like this: “What if he gets offended? What if he freaks out on me? How embarrassing, what if, what if.” I argued with myself for so long that others had joined the line. Again, I heard the voice say, “Will you not humble yourself to do something that will change a life? Have you not asked to be my hands and feet? Pay for his groceries.”

Being stubborn, I attempted to ignore the voice and my instincts.

I was becoming more uncomfortable. My internal temperature was raging like hot molten lava and my heart was beating faster. I was shifting from side-to-side. I knew what to do but I couldn’t step over my pride or fear to do the right thing.

My transaction was complete. As the kind cashier put my last bag into the trolley,  he said, “thank you miss, you have saved $16.00 today.”  I quickly realized that my savings (thanks to my supermarket club card) were greater than the homeless man’s entire bill. My heart sank. I had missed the moment. My internal temperature began to cool down, my heartbeat began to slow down and my head hung low.

Offering to pay for his groceries now would be awkward. I couldn’t add it onto my bill. I would have to stand and wait and there would be an uncomfortable silence. The excuses stacked up and I began to convinced myself that maybe I didn’t hear that voice,. Maybe I made it all up. I knew better, I knew I had missed a chance to ‘be the change I want to see in the world today’!

I wheeled my well-packed trolley to the exit and left with a horrible sense of sadness.

The sadness of walking away from a missed opportunity, is also associated with letting your pride stand in the way of the good we are offered to do. As I walked toward the exit, consoling myself I heard a well-spoken man calling out after me. “Excuse me Miss, excuse me Miss”. I turned around expecting the friendly cashier but found the homeless man with the matted hair and dirty clothes. He handed me my supermarket club card, explaining I had dropped it and he wanted to make sure it was returned.

Now, take a moment and allow me to paint a picture for you. This man had captured everyone’s attention through his looks, stench and the concern of him  generally perusing the shelves. Now he was following and calling out to me as I exited the store. Imagine, the fellow shoppers looking on, the store security almost ‘at the ready’. Can you see it? Can you hear the gasps and the looks of concern?

At that moment, I heard the voice again say, “here’s another chance.”

I ignored it and stood at the entrance saddened by my weakness. The well-spoken homeless man returned to the cashier to complete his transaction. I stood, once again, riveted to the spot. I was scared but desperate to BE in the moment, desperate to step over ME.  I was the only thing that stood between doing the good and the right and walking away and missing the opportunity to be a blessing. Finally, something within me broke and I began to rise up on the inside. What was happening, courage was taking the place of fear. Pushing it out like a storm within.

I began to hope that the man would take the same exit as me and silently prayed for a third chance to make a difference. I prayed that this courage I felt, this strength within would help me live beyond myself at that very moment.

Before I knew it, the homeless man was behind me ~ he had chosen the same exit!

He said, “I hope you don’t mind that I chased after you with your card.”
I looked at him and said, “No, thank you so much.” I paused and then continued the conversation, “How is your day going?”
He locked eyes with me and replied, “Not very good, it’s hard being homeless.” The conversation continued as we walked to the car park.
“You took a risk in there running after me to give my card back and now it’s my turn to take a risk with you,” I said.
“When we were standing in line I believe God spoke to me and told me to pay for your groceries. I ignored him because I was scared.”
His eyes remained locked on mine. He told me, “Everyday I ask God for direction, I wasn’t always homeless you know. I used to live in a nice area, I grew up there, I had a good job, life was great. Things just went wrong and life changed very quickly but I know I won’t always be homeless.”

I listened to him and was moved with compassion.

Our conversation continued and I said, “You’re in this space right now but God wants you to know that this isn’t how your life will end, that there is more and this isn’t forever.”
He replied, “It’s Angels like you that give me hope and today I needed hope. I just spent my last dollars on those groceries.”
I asked him if I could help him and he replied, “If you would like to – I want you to know that I’m homeless but I don’t do drugs, a lot of homeless people do but I’m just not one of those.”
At that moment, I believed him about the drugs but you know even if that isn’t the truth, God is in control and He orchestrated the entire encounter.

I asked him his name and introduced myself to him. I told him I would pray for him, that I knew God was going to do something great in his life and that he needed to hold onto hope and have faith. He extended his hand to shake mine and I was thinking, “Oh no, I don’t want to shake.” Again I heard the voice say, “Shake his hand well, place value on him.” I extended my hand and said, “God bless you and have the best day today.” He said the same and we parted ways.

When I made my way to my car and instantly began praying for him, I almost buckled over in tears. I felt such a huge burden for him. I cannot claim that I know how his story ends or how his life will change. But I know through God’s creativity this homeless man’s life can become what it was meant to be.

Today, I walked away from an opportunity to make a difference. But I believe I was given a second and third chance and I chose to do what was right.

I ended up giving him all that was in my wallet. Not a lot to most, but a fortune to him. Who knows what will happen in his life. All I know is that I’ve asked to be God’s hands and feet on this earth. Today I had the opportunity to speak into a hurting life. I realise now more than ever that on either side of our obedience there are people who will be affected forever.

My friends can attest to the fact that I always say EVERYONE HAS A STORY. I learned that from a great man … my dad. I believe that as we walk through life it is our responsibility to pull back the layers of our stories. When we do this we discover the gold that is within each one of us. Try to look beyond what you see. There is a why behind every what. Thank you for reading this simple story. I ask today that you say a prayer for this homeless man, my friend whose name is Sean.

Susan

Original date January 14, 2010. 


#grlpower Turn Up the Volume Stories

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This week we are sharing stories from some of the organisations we have chosen to partner with. This one comes from Fiji via ‘A Girl and Her World‘…. We hope you enjoy and that through these experiences you are inspired to help us 1) Create Awareness and 2) Mobilise so that we are able to make a difference.

Last week, Kym and I travelled to rural Fiji to visit the gorgeous girls we support there, check in on their families’ income generating projects and meet and train the newly formed team that our Coordinator Urmila has gathered around her this year.
As always, we came away richer with full hearts and excitement about all that is possible when a group of people come together to make a difference in their community.
There was sincere and grateful thanks for your support and the reality is that we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without it. Here are some pics to connect you to what we are doing…

This sweet girl peeks out at us from her front door in a village not far from RakiRaki town. She has 4 siblings and we support her older sister to go to school as she is in high school. The younger girls will no doubt be supported as they get older too, and we are looking into setting mum up with a chicken coup so she can begin to earn a living.Fiji-009-650x487

wallThis mum showed us the new wall she was able to put up with a grant from our Emergency Fund early this year as her family recovered from the impact of TC Evan that tore her house apart. Thanks to your generosity she has been able to rebuild, put in a concrete floor to one room and install new shutters to let some light in as they have no electricity.

freezerThis happy dad has been talking with us since last year about his business plan to sell fish. This trip we were able to help him purchase this freezer so he can buy fish from his brother’s trawler, freeze it to keep and sell to his community and bring any left over into town to sell at the market. He will also be able to provide good nutrition for his family and as his business grows, take back some of the ownership of supporting his daughter’s education. She was one of the first girls we supported…she is very happy to be back at school and is doing well.

And last but most definitely not least, one of our favourites the beautiful Kajul! She is Urmila’s daughter and the inspiration behind ‘a Girl & her world’. In this pic she is laughing at Kym’s attempt to make roti.roti Kym and I couldn’t see the problem, but when you make hundreds of these things every week, before school for the day’s meals, you learn to roll them perfectly. We loved eating dinner made from this kitchen every night!


#grlpower Turn Up The Volume!!

Welcome to GetRealLive…. We are so glad you’ve connected with us!

YOU MAY HAVE ARRIVED HERE BECAUSE YOU’VE SEEN SOME OF YOUR FRIENDS CHANGE THEIR FACEBOOK COVERS TO SUPPORT #grlpower Turn Up the Volume AND YOU WANT TO DO THE SAME… IF THAT’S THE CASE THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU….

Step 1: To start you on this journey we would love it if you would watch this short video by Rebecca Barry – Award Winning Documentary Writer, Director and Producer who is an upcoming guest on GetRealLive Radio in support of #grlpower Turn Up the Volume. 

Step 2: Here is the image we have created for your Facebook Cover. Please, please take it and upload it and show your support for girls across the world TURN UP THE VOLUME!

#grlpower Facebook Copy #

 

Step 3: More information: GetRealLive is supporting INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL and we have not only chosen to partner with a few organisations we would like to highlight plus we are donating our collective Social Media Influence. We have all reached into our communities and invited friends | family | followers | fans and everyone else we are connected with to donate their influence as well. We have decided to use the hashtag #grlpower Turn Up The Volume (you can also us #turnupthevolume) to use our voice and GET LOUD about issues that matter! We believe that on the other end of our YES (to be involved) are countless girls across the planet who are saying Thank You!

Here are some of the amazing organisations we are partnering with. These are organisations are doing extraordinary work and not only are they partnering with us in terms of Social Media but they are sharing some of their stories through GetRealLive {the on the ground stuff that only they see) plus they are coming on GetRealLive Radio to tell us about their experiences (hear Jane Kennedy Founder of A Girl & Her World HERE and listen to Esther Davidson from Hope Helicopters tell us about the tribes in Papua New Guinea HERE}… ExtraORDINARY people choosing to live out loud and make a difference in the lives of those who need our hands, our feet, our influence and yes… our money!

We are so excited to be partnering with

A GIRL & HER WORLD, PLAN CANADA, TRANSFORMATION TEXTILES, and VILLAGE ARTISAN

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Here is a video from Village Artisan… Part of the beauty of what we are presenting through GetRealLive is that these organisations we have chosen to partner with, we know them and we know them well. The beautiful blonde girl in this video is a friend of mine and her life has been dedicated to bringing hope to women in India. I love that through her & her families life work, we have the opportunity to partner with them and hopefully see you engaging with them on a deeper, more meaningful level.

HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED? 

1) EDUCATE

We need to educate OURSELVES, so during the next few weeks, we will be bringing stories of amazing of girls whose lives have been transformed through the work of our partners. These organisations are on the ground making things happen every day! Take a moment to read our posts here, share them, talk about them and visit our partners’ websites to fully engage.

2) DONATE

Your Social Influence – This means going old school and simply talking with friends over coffee or a glass of wine and bringing the reality of what girls across the planet have to deal with into our worlds. TURN UP THE VOLUME on social media! We need your updates on Facebook | Instagram | Linkedin | Twitter | Tumblr. Whatever your preferred platform, please copy and paste, follow us and re-tweet. Do whatever you can to to help us spread the message. Don’t EVER believe that you can’t make a difference. In our empowered and connected world, we all have great influence.

Your Finances – Did you know that it costs $300 to send a girl in the Pacific Islands to school for a year? Did you know that for less than $1 per day Plan Canada’s Because I’m a Girl Project helps to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing young girls in developing countries? That’s LESS THAN $1!

During the next few weeks, we’ll be offering suggestions on how you can donate your finances and how to go beyond just asking for money. We want this conversation to be very real and totally authentic so we will help you facilitate: Coffee Mornings | Wine Nights | Dinner Parties  | Garage Sales | Pink Lemonade Stands |Book Swaps |Lunch Money Matters | Christmas Cause Gifts | Fund Raiser Celebrations | and more ….

We want to Get Loud and Get Busy helping in any way that we can. Every cent makes a difference and every voice added to the mix helps TURN UP THE VOLUME!

3) GET INVOLVED

Stay connected to this journey … Email us at events@getreallive.com so that we can keep you can informed about all that’s happening. We want to use this space so that together we CAN make a difference.

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’  Margaret Mead


#grlpower ‘Turn Up The Volume’

It’s about to get really noisy in here so get ready!

GETREALLIVE is taking some ground and we are ready to get loud, get noisy and get up in some business…. We are talking about GIRLS across the globe and we are doing our part for International Day of the Girl and we want you to join the conversation. Information coming your way so stay tuned. If you would like to be included in our mailing list where we will give you details, products, ideas and ways to not only create awareness around this conversation but how to mobilise then email us at events@getreallive.com… Together we really can make a difference and we NEED YOU!


Dr. Robi Sonderegger Joins GetRealLive Radio to Insta-Envy…

 

  DR. ROBI SONDEREGGER

 

GetRealLive HOSTING A LIVE EVENT SEPTEMBER 12TH ‘INSTA-ENVY & #REALITYGRAM101’ with DR. ROBI SONDEREGGER. This is going to be a conversation you WON’T WANT TO MISS. If you can’t listen Live then Listen On Demand simply by downloading on any device. This conversation is current, it necessary and it’s impacting everyone. We can’t wait to host and have you join! 

 

 

NECESSARY DETAILS:

SHOW TIMES:

CALGARY 10PM {MDT} | SWITZERLAND 6am {CEST} | AUSTRALIA 2pm {AEST} 

Listen LIVE or ON DEMAND: CLICK HERE!!!

(Take this link and share it on your Social Media Platforms:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/getreallive/2013/09/12/dr-robi-sonderegger-talks-to-getreallive-about-insta-envy

To Join the LIVE TWEET CHAT simply click here and you will see only tweets pertaining to this conversation http://tweetchat.com/room/RealityGram101

Dr. Robi Sonderegger who is a world renowned Clinical Psychologist and sought after speaker will be joining GetRealLive Radio to talk about INSTA-ENVY and the affect Social media is having on our every day lives.

Is it possible that our increased connectivity via Social Media is leading to things like: Depression | Anxiety | Lack of Self Worth | Panic Attacks and more? Are more and more adults finding themselves scrolling through Instagram wishing their lives looked like someone else’s HIGHLIGHTS? Or, is this just something teenagers do? Is there more fighting within homes because the ‘grass appears to be greener on the other side’? Perhaps that green grass is just a fertilizer called Amaro | Mayfair |Rise | Hudson | Valencia | X-Pro 11 | Sierra or that all time favourite | LO-FI! That’s right, it could be just that a filter not a fertilised lawn.

In terms of friendship, where does the Social Media friendship end and the the face-to-face relationship start? Because we connect online, does that instantly translate into a face-to-face relationship? For some yes, for others no. How does this then translate when the relationship doesn’t transform?

How different is our real life world and our social media world and how do those worlds interact? Now that we put our personal lives out there in such a visable way how does this impact us personally. Is there a fakeness to this? Are we using masks and creating something that isn’t really there?

In the end, is all of this extremely narcissistic?

Oh yes, we are going to be talking about this and SOOOO much more. So, invite your friends, start sharing this via Instagram | Facebook | Linkedin | Google+ | Twitter | Pinterest | the bathroom wall | scratched into a bench somewhere | chalkboard (are they even used anymore) and every other place you connect.

We can’t wait to host you… Make sure you follow the #RealityGram101



Autism, DownSyndrome, Special Needs. A response to the Ontario Letter

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{Pictures above provide a glimpse into the life of Peter}

In light of the recent and very disturbing letter that was sent to the parents of a boy with Autism (see this Huffington Post Live Story click HERE)I am compelled to share this story with you.

My little brother, Peter, who is not so little now, he is 36 and definitely exceeds my physicality, has DownSyndrome and definitely displays some other characteristics that can be found on the ASD Spectrum. He can be a challenge and throughout his life has most likely upset people, caused them great discomfort and whatever else we {the so called ‘normal’} people have to interpret and manage when our life collides with someone on the spectrum.

Throughout the years, I have written countless stories about my brother and the lessons I have learned from him, the things he has taught me and the way he has lived. Some days, he is our angel and we talk about how he has been sent from God just for us. We talk about how blessed we are to have had the opportunity to walk through life with him and how we wished other people could have a moment of this experience. Then, there are days when we wonder where he came from, why he’s acting a certain way and how do we handle what is happening before our eyes. In these moments, we see the struggle deep within him, his desire to do what we call ‘right’, to act appropriately, to respond how we want him to respond but because of the way he has been created the struggle lies in this this place. These are the times when this gentle giant, this angel who was sent from above needs our care, our love and our acceptance.

I could go on and on about the joy he has brought to our lives and his amazing nature and his deep sense of knowing and understanding that doesn’t translate into school grades or through the written or, at times, even the spoken word. His understanding is deep and his expression of that understanding at times throws the ‘EQ’ balance off the charts.

Today, instead of me writing about his impact on our lives, I have chosen to allow the words of another whom he has touched to bring expression to his being. She’s not a family member but she has been brought into the family through Peter and his love for her and his deep knowing that she is a person to love and to trust. Her name is Lori and outside of our family she is perhaps one of the most influencial people in Peter’s life. I am choosing not to respond in words to the ‘One Pissed Off Mother’ but rather by using the life of another and the experience of another who has chosen to see beyond what she doesn’t understand {in terms of how Peter was created} but has chosen to step over her own insecurities and the ‘unknown’ within Peter and she has found a beautiful relationship that has changed her life. I hope you enjoy her story about Peter.

MY FRIEND PETER by Lori Perra
I have a very special person in my life. He has taught me so many things that have helped me to become a better person. He has made me laugh and cry and practise my skills of tolerance and patience.

Peter has Down Syndrome.

I have known Peter for many years, but it has only been during the past two years that I have developed a relationship with him. What started as a job has turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Job coaching is what brought Peter and I together. For a few hours each week, we go to his place of employment and I instruct him on how to do his work. He is such a diligent worker and it does not take long for him to master the tasks assigned to him. Then it is coffee time!

Coffee time is what he looks forward to the most. This is our time to chat about whatever comes to mind. Peter never fails to ask about my husband, my children and my cat. He always asks how my day at work went and never fails to ask how his nephew is, who attends the school where I work.

Peter loves music and will start to dance when he hears it. He doesn’t care where we are or who is watching. His face lights up with the pure joy of it. Peter has taught me to dance like no one is watching. Everyone should try this. It is the most exhilarating feeling!

He has taught me not to be afraid to tell people how I feel about them. Peter is very quick to tell people that he has missed them, that he likes them, that they make him happy, that he loves them. He quite often will tell me that I am beautiful but he will also tell me when he thinks that I need a haircut. He is so open and honest that it is refreshing to have a conversation with him.

He is also very compassionate. When my Mom was ill, he always would inquire about her. When she passed away, he brought me flowers and hugs. Sometimes he will ask me if I think about her and what I am remembering about her.

Occasionally, we have a date night. He will get dressed up and he is the perfect gentleman. He opens doors for me, pulls out my chair, inquires if I am enjoying myself and of course, compliments me on how beautiful I am. For weeks after he will talk about what a good time he had.

Peter has been raised by a very loving and supportive family. I know it is through his family that he has learned his conversation skills, his strong work ethics, his sense of humour and his compassion. I am truly blessed to be able to have Peter and his family in my life. I believe that when we surround ourselves with positive people like Peter and his family, we remain strong, happy and positive ourselves.

Thank you Peter for being my friend!
Lori


Jamie Oliver’s Killer Jerk Chicken

I understand that getting dinner on the table can be a challenge. Especially when you’re working, looking after kids and trying to find that balance that allows you not only the time to create something nutritious for your family but the head space and the energy to pull it all together. In an effort to help I am pulling together a few thoughts, ideas, and workable solutions to help bring that balance into play.

As many of you know, I’m passionate about seeing individuals and families thrive rather than strive so today marks Day 1 of a number of posts where I will tackle ‘WorkPlace & Family Balance‘ and hopefully provide solutions for busy people who desire to find, create and live balanced lives. Endeavouring to do so ultimately offers the best to your family, your workplace and allows you space to create quality and quantity time. I’m excited because this is a space that I love to occupy.

ONE CHALLENGE we all face is food. With the rise in obesity, the lure of take away and the absence of time it can ~ and for all of us has been challenging. Today, I’m going to share a solution from our home which comes in the form of a recipe. Every recipe, thought and idea I share here are all ‘Tried and True‘ through our personal test situations. (I promise to share some of the disasters too!) Here we go… If you’re interested to follow on Twitter or Instagram you can check out everything that is offer.

The other day my beautiful 8 year old daughter, Ella, and I found ourself glued to the TV watching the Food Network and another edition of Jamie Olivers 30-Minute Meals. On this particular episode, Jamie was making his Killer Jerk Chicken. A few things I loved about this show:

    1. Nothing was pre-prepared for Jamie, he had to open every packet, get everything from his fridge, turn on and preheat his own oven, boil his own water {you know how on some cooking shows everything is usually ready and waiting and the chef just goes to work and makes it look like it’s 30mins… when in actual fact our ‘at-home-experience’ turns out to be more than a 1hr endeavour}. I loved this!
    2. Although there were a number of ingredients, most we all probably have in our pantry’s with the exception perhaps the chilli’s, black beans and fresh herbs. I like these recipes.
    3. I made the Jerk Sauce in the morning and it took only minutes, popped it in the fridge and it was ready and waiting for the dinner prep.
    4. Cooking times were exact so I was able to tell my family ‘Dinner will be ready in 6 minutes’ all based on the oven setting. Sometimes cooking times can vary. I like when they work according to the recipe/chef.

So, here you go…

Jamie Oliver’s Killer Jerk Chicken Recipe with Rice & Black Beans & Cinnamon + Grilled Corn.

On the show Jamie included a salad which I will do next time, just didn’t have the head space to make it last night. In saying that, I have included the recipe for you). Now go, create and gather your family around the table and enjoy!

Information:

30 Minutes Preparation30 Minutes Cooking. Serves: 6. (Note: This recipe is actually for 4, but I simply added 2 extra thighs and made it serve 6 without adjusting anything. It works!)

Ingredients:

CHICKEN

  • 6 x 180g chicken breasts {Jamie uses skin on. I used thighs and skin off}
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • a few sprigs of fresh coriander

CORN

  • 5 large corn on the cob, husks removed {I used medium cobs}

RICE & BEANS

  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 250g long-grain rice
  • 600ml organic chicken stock
  • 1 x 400g carton of black beans

JERK SAUCE

  • 4 spring onions
  • a small bunch of fresh thyme
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • ground cloves
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground allspice
  • 6 tablespoons golden rum (if you don’t have rum just buy the tiny bottle from the liquor store it’s exactly 6 tbsps)
  • 6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 1 Scotch bonnet chilli {I used a Jalapeño instead}
  • 4 cloves of garlic

SEASONINGS

  • olive oil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt & black pepper

YOGHURT

  • 1 x 250g pot of natural yoghurt
  • a few sprigs of fresh coriander
  • 1 lime

Directions:

TO START: Get all your ingredients and equipment ready. Fill and boil the kettle. Put a large griddle pan and a large saucepan on a high heat. Turn the oven on to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.

CHICKEN: Put the chicken breasts on a plastic board and halve each one, leaving them joined at the top of the breast. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, then rub all over both sides of the chicken. Put into the hot griddle pan, skin side down, and leave to cook. Clear away the board and wash the knife and your hands.

CORN: Put the corn into the saucepan with a good pinch of salt and cover with boiling water. Put the lid on.

JERK SAUCE: Trim and roughly chop the onions and put into the liquidizer with the leaves from most of the bunch of thyme, 3 bay leaves (stalks removed), a large pinch each of ground cloves, nutmeg and allspice, 6 tablespoons each of rum and vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey and 2 teaspoons of salt.Remove the stalks and seeds from the Scotch bonnet chilli {I used a Jalapeno for extra zing} and add the chilli to the liquidizer, then quickly crush in 4 unpeeled cloves of garlic and blitz with the lid on until you have a really smooth paste. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to loosen, if needed.

CHICKEN: The undersides should be golden now, so turn the chicken over. Pour the jerk sauce into a snug-fitting baking dish and use tongs to lay the chicken on top, skin side up {if you have skin on}. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of runny honey and scatter over a few sprigs of rosemary and the remaining thyme sprigs {I rub these with olive oil to keep them moist whilst cooking}. Put on the top shelf of the oven and cook for 15minutes, or until cooked through. Carefully pour away the oil from the griddle pan and wipe clean with kitchen paper, then put back on a high heat.

RICE & BEANS: Put a large wide saucepan with a lid on a medium heat. Trim and finely slice the spring onions and put in the saucepan with the cinnamon stick, a good lug of olive oil and a big pinch of salt & pepper. Stir and let soften for a minute or so, then add the rice and chicken stock. Drain and rinse the beans, then add to the pan. Stir gently. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium heat. Pop the lid on and leave for 12 minutes. OR, you can do what I did to save time and stress… I popped it all in my rice cooker {if you have one} and let it do the work. Saved time and turned out beautiful!

YOGHURT: Tip the yoghurt into a small serving bowl. Finely chop a few sprigs of coriander and add to the bowl with a pinch of salt and a good lug of extra virgin olive oil. Finely grate over the zest of 1/2 the lime and squeeze in the juice. Stir in, then take to the table with the other lime half for squeezing over.

CORN: Use tongs to move the corn to the hot griddle pan and drizzle over a little olive oil {I added a bit of salt too} . Cook and turn frequently until charred. Once ready, put on a platter and take to the table.

TO SERVE: Take the chicken out of the oven, sprinkle over some coriander leaves and take straight to the table – I cooked it in an oven-proof pan so it looked amazing and went straight from oven to table. I used a cutting board and put my rice (from the rice cooker) on the board and then the corn and it looked beautiful. When serving, spoon over the jerk sauce from the bottom of the baking dish.

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The Life of a 12 Year Old

I am currently on holiday with my hubby’s family. Yes, with the in-laws. We are in Oahu in Kailua….. just down from Obama’s house. As exciting as that is I find myself captivated by my 12-year-old son.

As I sit here writing, he is snorkelling {in the pool} with his Korean cousin. Not only do they have a language barrier but my son is snorkelling with my snorkel set which is hot pink. That means his flippers are pink, his goggles are pink as is his snorkel. As I write I keep gazing over at him, smiling as he has no idea how {in 1, 2 or 3 years} this ‘get up’ may perhaps be absolutely unacceptable.

The Life of a 12 Year Old…. What does it look like? Well, today it looks like a boy with a pink snorkel set. 12 years old…. Do you remember what that felt like? I do and, in fact, if I could choose an age where I would love time to stand still, it would be at the age of 12 years.

We all have a favourite year or, in some cases, a decade. I have many enjoyable times, many years that were great and being 43 I totally believe that my 40’s are going to be one of the best decades for me. However, in saying that, if I were asked to pick an age or one year that stands out in my 43 years of life, thus far, it would have to be 12.

I loved being 12. I loved everything about 12. Why? I can’t really pinpoint any incredible or life-changing event that occurred when I was 12 but rather a sense I recall. It was a sense of knowing that I was still too young to do the things my siblings were doing {ie: Drive In Movies, Dances, Parties, etc}. I wasn’t even interested. My interest in boys had definitely peaked and I remember pining over one boy called Cameron. He was the boy of that year. I liked everything about him however, I knew that even he was beyond my reach at that age.

In this day and age you may wonder why at 12 I knew a boy or the things my siblings were into were out of reach. Why? It’s simple. I feared my parents and my aunts and uncles and my parents friends in a really healthy way. I knew they all had my best interest at heart and they knew my parents rules and if they saw me operating outside of those boundaries, they made absolutely NO apologies and they let them know. With that knowledge, the appropriate discipline would have been given. Those were the days and I am reminded of the African Proverb that says: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.

Why did I love being 12? I loved it because I knew I wasn’t old enough to do anything else than be a kid. I loved it because I was a kid and I didn’t have to try to be, nor did I want to be anything else. I loved being 12 because I didn’t have a care in the world. With limited technology and connectivity my only concerns were where I would eat dinner, if I had $0.50 for a popsicle in my pocket {on a hot summer day} and who I would be playing with and who would have a sleep over. I remember 12 really well. My life seemed to be aligned. My parents were alive and well, we seemed to have no concerns as a family {at least in my mind there were no concerns, I’m sure there were but my parents were great at keeping things from us!}, my grandmother’s were alive and healthy {both were beautiful influences in my life and I loved spending time with them}. I had never experienced war, famine or death {I was too young to remember my grandfather’s death so in my limited experience the pain of death had not found my heart yet}. I remember lazy summer days filled with sand, sun and the beach. My bike and a towel draped around my neck, friends and BBQ’s at night. The summer I was 12 seemed to last forever and it would appear that it has, it is a memory that brings me joy, peace and happiness.

As I continue to write I glance over my screen and my son is growling out of his pink snorkel at his little sister. He is unawares of whether or not his pink snorkel affects his reputation or his swag. He is simply loving life, loving summer and occupying the space he is in with confidence and much laughter. My prayer, for all my children, is that when they are 12 they have magical memories…. just like their Mumma. The life of a 12 year old… beautiful, simple, uncomplicated and FUN.

I love my memories and I love the memories my kiddos are making….

Susan xoxox