We have all experienced hard times. Financial concerns, relationship breakdowns, health issues and matters concerning both family and friends.
After my divorce, I certainly found it difficult to see the silver lining in anything. I was in an enforced financial hole, my marriage over and looking forward, all I could see was a lonely future after turning 50.
Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing. I can look back now and realize that I had much to be grateful for. In fact, I firmly believe that coming through hard times can make us better and stronger.
When I was first married, we struggled financially, to the extent of having to sell personal items to simply pay bills. We made it through and became more understanding of those facing hard times financially.
In hard times, your mental health is understandably at its most fragile. As such your outlook on things can be negatively distorted and so it can be difficult to appreciate what you have.
So I thought I would compile a rudimentary list of things that can easily be taken for granted but shouldn't be.
I know that during hard times, not everything in the list may apply to you, but it is important to understand that you only need one thing to be thankful for , to be able to begin a rosier outlook on life.
Things to be thankful for and not taken for granted
Other things to be thankful for
No matter how bad you feel that things are in your life, there is always something for which you can be thankful for. All too often we forget the small things. The freedom to walk along a sandy beach or the opportunity to simply chat with another person.
Obviously this is a far from complete list, but hopefully it gives food for thought and allows you to mentally add to the list with things that you yourself are thankful for.
One of the big changes after divorce, is organizing your daily meals. This can be a challenge for a number of reasons.
First of all, many divorced men have left relationships where their ex partner had done the vast majority of the cooking. Therefore, they may lack the confidence and perhaps even knowledge, on how to cook for themselves.
Secondly, for those who are confident in the kitchen, many find that cooking for one is quite a challenge compared to cooking for a couple or a family.
I myself found this harder than I expected for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons were unique to me , whilst others were universal.
I know my way around a kitchen, having worked as a qualified Chef for 10 years, admittedly though, it was over 20 years ago. During my time married, I also did most of the cooking and grocery shopping .
So it wasn't as though I lacked the know how. Another complication for me was the fact that I work shift work, consisting of 12 hour shifts both days and nights. The last thing anyone wants to do after a 12 hour shift at work is to cook dinner.
Many divorcees find that it is way simpler to buy take away, ready prepared meals or Uber Eats. Sure, I eat takeaway but it consists of only a small part of my diet.
So why is it harder to cook for only yourself than it is to cook for 2 or more? The answer is a complex one, psychological, physical and knowledge based.
Psycologically, no one wants to come home after work and have to cook a meal from scratch, regardless how how many you are cooking for. However, when cooking for only yourself, there is no one but your own self to talk you out of ordering Uber Eats and as such, takeaway food usually wins.
Without someone else with you it is all too easy to just say "I really cannot be bothered cooking, I will just buy something". My answer to this is to eliminate the need to cook from scratch. Plan ahead and have something ready that is quick and easy.
When referring to physical reasons not to cook, I don't mean being physically tired, as that is more a psychological reason. Instead I am referring to not having enough in your pantry or fridge to be able to make a meal. Again, plan ahead.
Knowledge based excuses basically mean a lack of cooking knowledge or no idea on what to do with what you have on hand. All excuses can be rectified with a bit of prior thought.
Obviously my years as a trained Chef come in handy at home, but not everyone has my knowledge or love of cooking. Non the less, this is still easily rectified.
A quick Google search will reveal a number of cooking schools, mostly aimed at those with little culinary know how. So I would suggest you enroll in such a course and gain some kitchen skills and know how.
I myself went to a cooking class last year that was specifically about making pasta. I had a great night, met some wonderful people (including singles) and honed my pasta making skills.
The class I attended, finished with us all sitting down to a communal table and enjoying a variety of shared platters of pasta, gnocchi and focaccia all made by us earlier and accompanied by a glass or two of wine.
If your not wanting to get out and about and attend a class or two, I would recommend the purchasing of some cook books for beginners. Whilst most of the cookbooks available today are targeted at so called "Foodies", there are still a great many books aimed at beginners.
Even some of the cookbooks aimed at children can be a great way to expand your cooking know how. You will just need to shop around and find one that suits you.
There are two great books for beginners that are available here in Western Australia. Both books have been around for a very long time, but offer simple and basic recipes.
The CWA Cookbook (Country Woman's Association) has been around for over 70 years and 17 editions. Whereas the Golden Wattle Cookbook, has had 27 editions since 1924. The Golden Wattle Cookbook was used in Western Australian schools to teach cooking and my own very dog eared copy I bought when I first moved out of home is still referred to today.
Last of all is the internet. The net is a wonderful source of recipes, for beginners and chefs alike. Search for a particular dish or search for recipes containing the ingredients you have on hand at that moment.
To alleviate physical excuses it just requires some forward planning. I do my grocery shopping once a week and upon leaving the supermarket, I will have a general plan in place for my meals for the upcoming week.
Whilst I come up with my menu plan while I shop, you may find it easier to devise your own menu plan before going shopping. I do not always fully adhere to this plan but it does mean that I am at least prepared.
If for instance, I decide to make a lasagne, I would make sure that I purchase everything that I need to make it. There is nothing quite as frustrating as making a recipe and discovering you forgot an ingredient. Try making a lasagne without cheese or pasta sheets.
Another piece of advice is to keep your pantry/fridge stocked with basic items as well as ingredients for a quick simple meal.
I know that in my pantry I have a few options to be able to make a basic quick meal. I for instance have a can of beans and some eggs in the fridge or I can quickly cook some pasta and heat up a jar of pasta sauce.
Meals such as these are not ideal as an everyday thing but can be a quick and hearty option to take away when needed. I will turn to my "emergency" meals in times when time has got away from me.
For example, I may have been out visiting friends all day and arrived home much later than I expected. I may have planned on cooking a meal that night and had the ingredients ready, however arriving home late and hungry, something quick and easy is the best option.
I know myself, after a long and physical day at work, the last thing I want to be doing is cooking my dinner, even though I enjoy cooking. It is for this reason that so many turn to the likes of Uber Eats.
Yet again my answer involves being prepared. On my weekends I precook meals that can easily be reheated in the microwave. Dishes such as curries are not only delicious but are easy to reheat.
Whilst I am quite happy to eat the same thing for a few days in a row, I understand those who prefer something different each day. The answer to this is to freeze your portioned meals. Then each night select a frozen meal and put it in your fridge to defrost ready for the next evening.
Not every meal needs to be something like a curry or a stew, pasta dishes also can be easily reheated, as can soups and even some Asian dishes.
Another approach involves components that are easy and quick to cook. Crumbed fish for instance involves simply placing on a tray in a heated oven to cook. Add your fish to your pre-bought soft tacos (or Bao) with some pre-purchased coleslaw and your done.
It really is a matter of planning your meals ahead and choosing things that are simple to get ready to eat.
Everyone should have a pantry containing basic staples. What goes into your basic staples is up to you and will depend on what you like to eat
Below is an idea of the sort of things I will always have in the pantry, fridge or freezer.
Like pantry staples there are items of equipment that I recommend you have .
Although it isn't really basic equipment, I use my electric pressure cooker a lot, both as a slow cooker and a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker allows you to cook an 8 hour curry in about 30 minutes.
A pressure cooker is not inexpensive, but cheaper ones like my Ronson are available.
When buying meat, how you intend to cook it determines what grade of meat to get. Meat comes as either Primary or Secondary cuts. Never be afraid to ask for help and suggestions on what cut to buy.
A Primary cut is something like a nice steak. It comes from a muscle that does not overwork and is cooked quickly. Ideal for BBQ or cooking in a frying pan.
Whereas a Secondary cut like Gravy Beef or Lamb Shanks comes from a part of the animal that does a lot of moving, and as such requires a long slow cook. Such cuts should be cooked in a slow cooker, pressure cooker or perhaps slow roasted.
This is important to know as a Primary cut like a steak will become dry, pasty, cardboard like and unpleasant when slow cooked. Whereas the sinew and connective tissue in a secondary cut will become like a piece of rubber if barbequed as it requires time to break down.
Most of my cooking uses secondary cuts like gravy beef and beef cheeks as they are not only cheaper but when cooked slowly produce deliciously tender meals that can be reheated with ease.
The truth is that it is not that hard to cook for one, it just requires a little bit of planning and forethought. It will not take long to develop some culinary confidence if the kitchen is unfamiliar territory for you.
As an added bonus, if your wanting to start dating again. Many women find the ability to cook, an attractive feature in a man.
Everybody likes to think of themselves as a good person. In today's ever changing world, the concept of toxic masculinity and what makes a man, has been debated constantly.
Indeed, in the wake of the Weinstein affair and the Me Too movement many men are now questioning their own actions and are confused about what is expected of a man. The male role may be changing, however, the basics of being a good man have not.
I have compiled a list of rules that I feel are timeless and reflect the values and actions of a well rounded, happy, contented and good modern man.
My 50 years upon the planet has seen me gain a modicum of wisdom and as I write this list, I do so with the thought of sharing it with my own son, so feel free to do so with any burgeoning gentleman in your life.
I am sure that you may feel I have missed some things, however at the very least my list here is a good starting point. Most of these suggested rules apply to people of any gender and age.
A quick look over my list and I realize that there are a few items that I could focus more on myself. That in itself is a reminder to all that,n on occasions we forget and sometimes need reminding of our very own advice.
Divorced and nearly 50 I rediscovered who I was.